160 BLA CK BE A UTY.
" You and your horse look more fit for the police-station than for this rank."
The man flung his tattered rug over the horse, turned full round upon the Governor, and said in a voice that sounded almost desperate,—
" If the police have any business with the matter, it ought to be with the masters who charge us so much, or with the fares that are fixed so low. If a man has to pay eighteen shillings a day for the use of a cab and two horses, as many of us have to do in the season, and must make up that before we earn a penny for ourselves—I say 'tis more than hard work; nine shillings a day to get out of each horse, before you begin to get your own living; you know that's true, and if the horses don't work we must starve, and I and my children have known what that is before now. I've six of 'em, and only one earns anything; I am on the stand fourteen or sixteen hours a day, and I haven't had a Sunday these ten or twelve weeks. You know Skinner never gives a day if he can help it; and if I don't work hard, tell me who does ? I want a warm coat and a mackintosh, but with so many to feed how can a man get it? I had to pledge my clock a week ago to pay Skinner, and I shall never see it again."
Some of the other drivers stood round nodding their heads, and saying he was right. The man went on,—
" You that have your own horses and cabs, or drive for good masters, have a chance of getting on and a chance of doing right; I haven't. We can't charge more than sixpence a mile after the first, within the four-mile radius. This very morning I had to go a clear six miles and only took three shillings. I could not get a return fare, and had to come all the way back; there's twelve miles for the horse and three shillings for me. After that I had a three-mile fare, and there were bags and boxes enough to have brought in a good many two-pences if they had been put outside; but you know how people do; all that could be