It could be done , because there was very little business at any time , and practically none at all before the evening .
Mr Verloc 0 cared but little about
his 0 ostensible business .
And , moreover , was in charge of .
The shop 1 was small , and so was
the house 3 .
It 3 was
those grimy brick houses which existed in large quantities before the era of reconstruction dawned upon
London 5 4
The shop 1 was
a square box of a place 75 , with the front glazed in small panes .
In the daytime the door remained closed ; in the evening it stood discreetly but suspiciously ajar .
The window contained photographs of
more or less undressed dancing girls 6 ; nondescript packages in wrappers like patent medicines ; closed yellow paper envelopes , very flimsy , and marked two-and-six in heavy black figures ; a few numbers of ancient French comic publications hung across a string as if to dry ; a dingy blue china bowl , a casket of black wood , bottles of marking ink , and rubber stamps ; a few books , with titles hinting at impropriety ; a few apparently old copies of obscure newspapers , badly printed , with titles like _ The Torch _ , _ The Gong _ — rousing titles .
And the two gas jets inside the panes were always turned low , either for economy ’s sake or for the sake of
the customers 7 .
These customers 8 were either
very young men , who hung about the window for a time before slipping in suddenly 9 ; or
men of a more mature age 10 , but looking generally as if
they 10 were not in funds .
Some of that last kind 11 had the collars of
their 11 overcoats turned right up to
their 11 moustaches , and traces of mud on the bottom of
their 11 nether garments , which had the appearance of being much worn and not very valuable .
And the legs inside them did not , as a general rule , seem of much account either .
their 11 hands plunged deep in the side pockets of
their 11 coats ,
they 11 dodged in sideways , one shoulder first , as if afraid to start the bell going .
The bell , hung on the door by means of a curved ribbon of steel , was difficult to circumvent .
It was hopelessly cracked ; but of an evening , at the slightest provocation , it clattered behind
the customer 12 with impudent virulence .
It clattered ; and at that signal , through the dusty glass door behind the painted deal counter ,
Mr Verloc 0 would issue hastily from
the parlour 13 at the back .
His 0 eyes were naturally heavy ;
he 0 had an air of having wallowed , fully dressed , all day on an unmade bed .
Another man 14 would have felt such an appearance a distinct disadvantage .
In a commercial transaction of the retail order much depends on
the seller 15 ’s engaging and amiable aspect .
Mr Verloc 0 knew
his 0 business , and remained undisturbed by any sort of æsthetic doubt about
his 0 appearance .
With a firm , steady-eyed impudence , which seemed to hold back the threat of some abominable menace ,
he 0 would proceed to sell over the counter some object looking obviously and scandalously not worth the money which passed in the transaction : a small cardboard box with apparently nothing inside , for instance , or one of those carefully closed yellow flimsy envelopes , or a soiled volume in paper covers with a promising title .
Now and then it happened that one of the faded , yellow dancing girls would get sold to
an amateur 16 , as though she had been alive and young .
Sometimes it was
Mrs Verloc 2 who would appear at the call of the cracked bell .
Winnie Verloc 2 was
a young woman with a full bust , in a tight bodice , and with broad hips 81 .
Her 2 hair was very tidy .
Steady-eyed like ,
she 2 preserved an air of unfathomable indifference behind the rampart of the counter .
the customer of comparatively tender years 17 would get suddenly disconcerted at having to deal with
a woman 18 , and with rage in
his 17 heart would proffer a request for a bottle of marking ink , retail value sixpence ( price in one-and-sixpence ) , which , once outside ,
he 17 would drop stealthily into the gutter .
The evening visitors 19 —
the men with collars turned up and soft hats rammed down 76 — nodded familiarly to
Mrs Verloc 2 , and with a muttered greeting , lifted up the flap at the end of the counter in order to pass into
the back parlour 20 , which gave access to
a passage 21 and to
a steep flight of stairs 22 .
The door of
the shop 1 was the only means of entrance to
the house in which
Mr Verloc 0
a seller of shady wares 23 3
his 0 vocation of
a protector of society 24 , and cultivated
his 0 domestic virtues .
These last were pronounced .
He 0 was thoroughly domesticated .
his 0 spiritual , nor
his 0 mental , nor
his 0 physical needs were of the kind to take
him 0 much abroad .
He 0 found at
home 3 the ease of
his 0 body and the peace of
his 0 conscience , together with
Mrs Verloc 2 ’s wifely attentions and
’s deferential regard .
Mrs Verloc 2
’s mother 25
a stout , wheezy woman 77 , with a large brown face .
She 25 wore a black wig under a white cap .
Her 25 swollen legs rendered
her 25 inactive .
She 25 considered
herself 25 to be of French descent , which might have been true ; and after a good many years of married life with
a licensed victualler of the more common sort 26 ,
she 25 provided for the years of widowhood by letting
furnished apartments for
Vauxhall Bridge Road 28
a square 29
once of some splendour and still included in
the district of Belgravia 30 41
This topographical fact was of some advantage in advertising ; but
were not exactly of the fashionable kind .
the patrons of
the worthy widow 25 32
they 32 were ,
Winnie 2 helped to look after
them 32 .
Traces of the French descent which
the widow 25 boasted of were apparent in
Winnie 2 too .
They were apparent in the extremely neat and artistic arrangement of
her 2 glossy dark hair .
Winnie 2 had also other charms :
her 2 youth ;
her 2 full , rounded form ;
her 2 clear complexion ; the provocation of
her 2 unfathomable reserve , which never went so far as to prevent conversation , carried on on
the lodgers 33 ’ part with animation , and on hers with an equable amiability .
It must be that
Mr Verloc 0 was susceptible to these fascinations .
Mr Verloc 0 was
an intermittent patron 78 .
He 0 came and went without any very apparent reason .
He 0 generally arrived in
London 5 ( like the influenza ) from
the Continent 34 , only
he 0 arrived unheralded by the Press ; and
his 0 visitations set in with great severity .
He 0 breakfasted in bed , and remained wallowing there with an air of quiet enjoyment till noon every day — and sometimes even to a later hour .
he 0 went out
he 0 seemed to experience a great difficulty in finding
his 0 way back to
temporary home in
the Belgravian square 29 35
He 0 left
it 35 late , and returned to
it 35 early — as early as three or four in the morning ; and on waking up at ten addressed
Winnie 2 , bringing in the breakfast tray , with jocular , exhausted civility , in the hoarse , failing tones of
a man who had been talking vehemently for many hours together 36 .
His 0 prominent , heavy-lidded eyes rolled sideways amorously and languidly , the bedclothes were pulled up to
his 0 chin , and
his 0 dark smooth moustache covered
his 0 thick lips capable of much honeyed banter .
In ’s opinion
Mr Verloc 0 was
a very nice gentleman 79 .
her 25 life ’s experience gathered in various
“ business houses ” 37
the good woman 25 had taken into
her 25 retirement an ideal of gentlemanliness as exhibited by
the patrons of
private-saloon bars 39 38
Mr Verloc 0 approached that ideal ;
he 0 attained it , in fact .
“ Of course ,
we 40 ’ll take over
your 25 furniture ,
mother 25 , ”
Winnie 2 had remarked .
The lodging-house 42 was to be given up .
It seems it would not answer to carry it on .
It would have been too much trouble for
Mr Verloc 0 .
It would not have been convenient for
his 0 other business .
his 0 business was
he 0 did not say ; but after
his 0 engagement to
he 0 took the trouble to get up before noon , and descending
the basement stairs 43 , make
himself 0 pleasant to in
the breakfast-room 44
downstairs 45 where
she 25 had
her 25 motionless being .
He 0 stroked the cat , poked the fire , had
his 0 lunch served to
there 44 .
He 0 left
its 44 slightly stuffy cosiness with evident reluctance , but , all the same , remained out till the night was far advanced .
He 0 never offered to take
Winnie 2 to
theatres 46 , as
such a nice gentleman 47 ought to have done .
His 0 evenings were occupied .
His 0 work was in a way political ,
he 0 told
Winnie 2 once .
She 2 would have ,
he 0 warned
her 2 , to be very nice to
political friends 48
her 2 straight , unfathomable glance
she 2 answered that
she 2 would be so , of course .
How much more
he 0 told
her 2 as to
his 0 occupation it was impossible for to discover .
The married couple 40 took
her 25 over with the furniture .
The mean aspect of
the shop 1 surprised
her 25 .
The change from
the Belgravian square 29 to
the narrow street in
Soho 50 49
her 25 legs adversely .
They became of an enormous size .
On the other hand ,
she 25 experienced a complete relief from material cares .
’s heavy good nature inspired
her 25 with a sense of absolute safety .
’s future was obviously assured , and even as to
she 25 need have no anxiety .
She 25 had not been able to conceal from
herself 25 that
he 51 was a terrible encumbrance ,
that poor Stevie 51 .
But in view of
Winnie 2 ’s fondness for
, and of
delicate brother 51
Mr Verloc 0 ’s kind and generous disposition ,
she 25 felt that
the poor boy 51 was pretty safe in
this rough world 52 .
her 25 heart of hearts
she 25 was not perhaps displeased that
the Verlocs 40 had
no children 53 .
As that circumstance seemed perfectly indifferent to
Mr Verloc 0 , and as
Winnie 2 found an object of quasi-maternal affection in , perhaps this was just as well for poor
Stevie 51 .
he 51 was difficult to dispose of ,
that boy 51 .
He 51 was delicate and , in a frail way , good-looking too , except for the vacant droop of
his 51 lower lip .
our 54 excellent system of compulsory education
he 51 had learned to read and write , notwithstanding the unfavourable aspect of the lower lip .
he 51 did not turn out a great success .
He 51 forgot
his 51 messages ;
he 51 was easily diverted from the straight path of duty by the attractions of stray cats and dogs , which
he 51 followed down
narrow alleys 55 into
unsavoury courts 56 ; by the comedies of
the streets 57 , which
he 51 contemplated open-mouthed , to the detriment of ’s interests ; or by the dramas of fallen horses , whose pathos and violence induced
him 51 sometimes to shriek pierceingly in a crowd , which disliked to be disturbed by sounds of distress in its quiet enjoyment of the national spectacle .
When led away by
a grave and protecting policeman 59 , it would often become apparent that
poor Stevie 51 had forgotten
his 51 address — at least for a time .
A brusque question caused
him 51 to stutter to the point of suffocation .
When startled by anything perplexing
he 51 used to squint horribly .
he 51 never had any fits ( which was encouraging ) ; and before the natural outbursts of impatience on the part of
he 51 could always , in
his 51 childhood ’s days , run for protection behind the short skirts of
Winnie 2 .
On the other hand ,
he 51 might have been suspected of hiding a fund of reckless naughtiness .
he 51 had reached the age of fourteen ,
, having given
an agent for
a foreign preserved milk firm 61 80
him 51 an opening as
office-boy 51 ,
he 51 was discovered one foggy afternoon , in ’s absence , busy letting off fireworks on
the staircase 63 .
He 51 touched off in quick succession a set of fierce rockets , angry catherine wheels , loudly exploding squibs — and the matter might have turned out very serious .
An awful panic spread through
the whole building 64 .
Wild-eyed , choking clerks 65 stampeded through
the passages 66 full of smoke , silk hats and
elderly business men 67 could be seen rolling independently down
the stairs 68 .
Stevie 51 did not seem to derive any personal gratification from what
he 51 had done .
His 51 motives for this stroke of originality were difficult to discover .
It was only later on that
Winnie 2 obtained from
him 51 a misty and confused confession .
It seems that
had worked upon
two other office-boys in
the building 64 69
his 51 feelings by tales of injustice and oppression till
they 69 had wrought
his 51 compassion to the pitch of that frenzy .
But , of course , dismissed
him 51 summarily as likely to ruin .
After that altruistic exploit
Stevie 51 was put to help wash the dishes in
the basement kitchen 71 , and to black the boots of
the gentlemen patronising
the Belgravian mansion 35 72
There was obviously no future in such work .
The gentlemen 73 tipped
him 51 a shilling now and then .
Mr Verloc 0 showed
himself 0 the most generous of
lodgers 74 .
But altogether all that did not amount to much either in the way of gain or prospects ; so that when
Winnie 2 announced
her 2 engagement to
Mr Verloc 0 could not help wondering , with a sigh and a glance towards the scullery , what would become of
poor Stephen 51 now .