Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Forever


From Forever, by Pete Hamill:


He had given Cormac the address on Stone Street of a place called Hughson's, where he might rent a room while Mr. Partridge looked for a place for his print shop. He himself would be staying at the Black Horse Tavern. Run by friends. Booked long ago. Cormac should call on him once a day, that was the plan, and Mr. Partridge would tell him of his progress. He had given Cormac a crudely printed map of the town, along with a litany of dire warnings. Don't let anyone carry your bag, or you'll never see it again. (The fastest thieves in the world live here.) Don't get drunk and lose control, or you'll lose even your shoes. (Lock your door, button your coat, strap your hat, tie your laces.) Don't sleep with any woman who offers her services (It's a city of whores), or you'll end up with a pox that will swell your tongue to the width of a plank. New York was a dangerous place, Mr. Partridge said. Full of thieves from many nations. (They speak seventeen different tongues, not counting the African languages.) The English were the worst. Lazy buggers. Rather steal than work. (As an Englishman, they fill me with shame.) There were hundreds of Englishmen transported to America for crimes committed in English cities. (They start by cutting their mothers' throats and then go downhill.) And they weren't even the worst.

"The most dangerous of the lot are the ones who now think they're respectable," he said when they were a week away from America. "They go to church. They wear fine clothes. They use snuff. And they'd steal the eyeballs out of your head."

He paused, staring at his journeyman's hands.

"Still and all, they'll give us much to print."

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