And that young lady that was such a pretty dear caught his illness, lost her beautiful looks, and wouldn't hardly be known for the same young lady now if it wasn't for her angel temper, and her pretty shape, and her sweet voice. Do you know it? You ungrateful wretch, do you know that this is all along of you and of her goodness to you?" demands the woman, beginning to rage at him as she recalls it and breaking into passionate tears.
The boy, in rough sort stunned by what he hears, falls to smearing his dirty forehead with his dirty palm, and to staring at the ground, and to shaking from head to foot until the crazy hoarding against which he leans rattles.
Allan restrains the woman, merely by a quiet gesture, but effectually.
"Richard told me--" He falters. "I mean, I have heard of this-- don't mind me for a moment, I will speak presently."
He turns away and stands for a while looking out at the covered passage. When he comes back, he has recovered his composure, except that he contends against an avoidance of the boy, which is so very remarkable that it absorbs the woman's attention.
"You hear what she says. But get up, get up!"
Jo, shaking and chattering, slowly rises and stands, after the manner of his tribe in a difficulty, sideways against the hoarding, resting one of his high shoulders against it and covertly rubbing his right hand over his left and his left foot over his right.
"You hear what she says, and I know it's true. Have you been here ever since?"
"Wishermaydie if I seen Tom-all-Alone's till this blessed morning," replies Jo hoarsely.
"Why have you come here now?"
Jo looks all round the confined court, looks at his questioner no higher than the knees, and finally answers, "I don't know how to do nothink, and I can't get nothink to do. I'm wery poor and ill, and I thought I'd come back here when there warn't nobody about, and lay down and hide somewheres as I knows on till arter dark, and then go and beg a trifle of Mr. Snagsby. He wos allus willin fur to give me somethink he wos, though Mrs. Snagsby she was allus a- chivying on me--like everybody everywheres."
"Where have you come from?"
Jo looks all round the court again, looks at his questioner's knees again, and concludes by laying his profile against the hoarding in a sort of resignation.
"Did you hear me ask you where you have come from?"
"Tramp then," says Jo.
"Now tell me," proceeds Allan, making a strong effort to overcome his repugnance, going very near to him, and leaning over him with an expression of confidence, "tell me how it came about that you left that house when the good young lady had been so unfortunate as to pity you and take you home."
Jo suddenly comes out of his resignation and excitedly declares, addressing the woman, that he never known about the young lady, that he never heern about it, that he never went fur to hurt her, that he would sooner have hurt his own self, that he'd sooner have had his unfortnet ed chopped off than ever gone a-nigh her, and that she wos wery good to him, she wos. Conducting himself throughout as if in his poor fashion he really meant it, and winding up with some very miserable sobs.
Allan Woodcourt sees that this is not a sham. He constrains himself to touch him. "Come, Jo. Tell me."
"No. I dustn't," says Jo, relapsing into the profile state. "I dustn't, or I would."
"But I must know," returns the other, "all the same. Come, Jo."
After two or three such adjurations, Jo lifts up his head again, looks round the court again, and says in a low voice, "Well, I'll tell you something. I was took away. There!"
"Took away? In the night?"
"Ah!" Very apprehensive of being overheard, Jo looks about him and even glances up some ten feet at the top of the hoarding and through the cracks in it lest the object of his distrust should be looking over or hidden on the other side.
"Who took you away?"
"I dustn't name him," says Jo. "I dustn't do it, sir.
"But I want, in the young lady's name, to know.