A fine house
Madeleine spoke for the first time since they had come into the shack. She said:
‘Where does one get water?’
‘Why, child, there’s a tap right at the end of the street. You don’t have to walk more than fifty yards – seventy-five, maybe.’
She nodded. ‘I see.’
‘You got a fine house,’ the mammy repeated. ‘Come on over here.’
They followed her to a position close by the table which served for a kitchen. Squatting down, she pulled up a loose board and pointed to the space beneath it.
‘You don’t have to carry no slops outside,’ the mammy said. ‘Times, that’s a real help.’
Andrew looked where she had pointed. It was possible to see, despite the darkness, that an open drain ran under this corner of the room. He thought he saw a rat scramble away. As he bent down the smell, concentrating in nose and throat, made him want to retch. He took the end of the board from the mammy’s hand, and pushed it back into place. She watched this complacently.
‘See what I mean,’ she said. ‘Just no trouble at all.’