Monday, June 15, 2015

In Gin Lane, London

Opposite the stone cross, Forland and the girl turn into a large, glittering gin-shop. The bar, elegantly carved, extends the whole width of the long wall and on each side there are great casks, painted green and gold, enclosed within a brass rail and labelled for the different varieties of gin, 'Old Tom 549', 'Young Tom 360', 'Samson 1421'.  Beyond the bar, is a lofty and spacious saloon.  On a counter in the middle are little baskets of cakes and biscuits, continuously renewed by a garishly dressed woman wearing a faded feather hat. 
Forlan looks around admiringly.  One wall of the saloon is hung with a jumbled collection of bric-a-brac and military paraphernalia.  Swords and lances (all firmly secured), breast-plates, shakoes, copper pans and pots, a few small paintings in dirty wooden frames, pieces of textile with Arabic writing, a saddle bag and, proudly situated in the middle, a poor but colourful painting of a mounted soldier. 
Forlan and the girl sit at a table and he orders a half-quartern of gin and peppermint. 
Forlan says "Art hungry?"  She nods.  Forlan orders soft biscuits.  When the gin arrives, the girl dips her fingers in it and wipes her face clean. She sips from her pot.
"Ugh!" she says. "I don't like that!"  Forlan sighs and beckons the waiting-woman. 
"Does your Old Tom have all the right herbs in it?" he asks.
"Oh yes, sir. All of 'em is present." 
"Then bring us a pot," says Forlan.
"What 'erbs is that, then," asks the girl.
"Juniper, angelica, coriander, cardomon and orange peel," Forlan tells her.  "You will like that, I warrant." 
"I dunno," she says, dubiously. "Still. 'Tis a frolick, mister.  Bein' with you, 'ere."

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