... and Mary Jane Kelly : 1880's - Clarence Rook :
I had unthinkingly neglected to adapt my dress in any way to the occasion, and in consequence was subjecting my friend to uneasiness and possible annoyance. I expressed my regret, and, buttoning my coat, started down the court as young Alf melted into the crowd. It was not a pretty court. The houses were low, with narrow doorways and windows that showed no glimmer of light. Heaps of garbage assailed the feet and the nose. Not a living soul was to be seen until I had nearly reached the other end, and could just discern the form of young Alf leaning against one of the posts at the exit of the court. Then suddenly two women in white aprons sprang into view from nowhere, gave a cry, and stood watching me from a doorway. “They took you for a split,” said young Alf, as we met at the end of the court. “I know’d they would. ‘Ello, Alice !”
A girl stood in the deep shadow of the corner house. Her head was covered by a shawl, and I could not see her face, but her figure showed youth and a certain grace.
“ ‘Ello!” she said, without moving.
“When you goin’ to get merried?” asked young Alf.
“When it comes,” replied the girl softly. The voice that falls like velvet on your ear and lingers in your memory is rare. Wendell Holmes says somewhere that he had heard but two perfect speaking voices, and one of them belonged to a German chambermaid. The softest and most thrilling voice I ever heard I encountered at the corner of one of the lowest slums in London.
Young Alf was apparently unaffected by it, for, having thus accorded the courtesy due to an acquaintance, he whipped round swiftly to me and said, “Where them women’s standing is where Pat Hooligan lived, ‘fore he was pinched.”
It stood no higher than the houses that elbowed it, and had nothing to distinguish it from its less notable neighbours. But if a Hooligan boy prayed at all, he would pray with his face toward that house half-way down Irish Court. “And next door this side,” continued young Alf, “that’s where me and my muvver kipped when I was a nipper.”