48 Hours a Day
Chapter 497 - Gypsy Busker
Chapter 497 Gypsy Busker
Zhang Heng walked up to where the argument happened, where a gypsy busker was standing between a Jewish home and a few brutish men.
“That’s jsut too much! The man in this family has just fallen off a scaffolding not long ago. Just look at the state of his leg! He’s been unable to work for the last two months. Can’t he pay the rent half a month late? Do you really have to drive them out?” asked the Gypsy busker in disbelief.
Zhang Heng had also noticed that the man had a wooden splint attached to his leg. The family’s furniture and luggage had been dragged out of the house and thrown along the road, causing the whole family to be distraught. Their belongings were treated no differently than a pile of garbage, mainly consisting of a tattered wooden bed, old pots and pans, and a sofa with a missing leg. No one knew where they picked up all these things. The dirty wooden pony that the girl clutched dearly in her arms was probably the only toy she had.
“On-time payments, that is the rule here,” the hunchback sternly proclaimed.
“We are all reasonable people. You can ask the family. I have given them a week’s grace. Do you expect me to do it again? I told you that lots of people are looking for houses here. Someone will eventually rent my house even if they can’t afford it. I won’t be losing money one way or another.”
“But they are living here right now…”
The hunchback impatiently waved off the busker.
“I don’t care how long they’ve been living here! I don’t run a charity. If they can’t pay me, they should just sleep on the streets!”
“You are cruel beyond words! They have a child here; I implore you!”
“The kid is too young to work in factories or mines. It is why I have lost hope in them. Even if they do everything, they can and loan some money to make up for this month’s rent, what next month? At the same time, they will not be able to repay the money they owe. And if owed money owed is not repaid, creditors will come knocking on the door again. It will surely cause a lot of trouble for my future tenants.”
The hunchback coldly continued, “A family from Wales is interested in this house. There are two adult men in their families. The husband and the elder son are both very strong. Although the younger son is thin, he could fit into chimneys and clean them. On the other hand, the man’s wife would sell flowers during the day and entertain guests at night. It won’t be long before they can save enough to buy this house! How would you choose if you were me?”
This time, the gypsy busker was at a loss for words.
The hunchback man glanced at him again, “Why, are you new here? You have to be new here. YOu wouldn’t have been so nosy otherwise. Look at their neighbors. Is anyone willing to defend them? Let me give you a piece of advice. If you want to survive here, better mind your own business.”
“No, since I see it, I will not leave it alone.”
The gypsy busker opened his wallet and took out eight shillings from it.
“Here you go, this is two months’ rent. I will help them out this time.” After that, she pointed at the man of the family, “He can work again after two months, and naturally, he can continue paying the rent.”
It was the hunchback’s turn to be startled this time. He seemed to be caught in hesitation, and he stood there for a while with his twitching. After a while, he collected the money from the gypsy.
“Consider yourself lucky this time. Let’s go,” he scowled at the lame man.
After they left, the Jewish family thanked the gypsy busker with every last breath. They just met, and they were not even friends. It was hard for them to imagine how a stranger would pay the rent for them.
The gypsy busker thought for a while, took out a gold coin worth a pound and a half from his wallet, and put it in the little girl’s hand.
“Don’t worry, your father’s leg will soon be better. And your life will be better too!” he said, winking at her.
The man’s wife was utterly stunned. She couldn’t fathom how the gypsy busker would give them such a massive amount of money.
Before he could say anything to her, the kind gypsy busker had left with the organ on his back. Soon, he disappeared amid the crowd on the street. Zhang Heng witnessed everything that happened, and after giving it some thought, he decided to follow the gypsy busker.
He saw the gypsy weaving briskly in and out amid the crowd, appearing and disappearing from time to time. He stoped in front of the salmon stall to have a quick chat with the boss before squatting in front of a drunk man, flailing his arms akimbo as he cursed the unscrupulous factory owner and greedy woman. That was the last time Zhang Heng saw him.
He lost trace of the gypsy busker after that.
Zhang Heng stood in front of a crossroads and raised his eyebrows. He had to admit that the haphazard layout of the London’s east end was indeed an excellent place to slip away unnoticed. Zhang Heng wasn’t mad after realizing that he’d lost the busker. He just wanted to remind him that someone was watching him. Now that he was gone, it saved Zhang Heng the trouble. Zhang Heng had turned around to leave when he saw the gypsy busker not far behind him. He was walking to him and had his eyes fixed on Zhang Heng. “Are you following me?”
“I’ll speak plainly. I just wish to remind you that someone is targeting you,” said Zhang Heng.
“Why should I believe you?”
The gypsy busker shrugged. “This rut is filled of thieves and crooks, and it’s a cesspool for those with the worst of intentions.”
Zhang Heng didn’t bother to explain himself. Instead, he just made a ‘please’ gesture.
The gypsy, however, did not leave immediately and rolled his eyes instead.
“Oh? Any suggestions, then?”
“My advice is… don’t get caught,” replied Zhang Heng. “You’ve revealed that you are rich by solving the family’s difficulties. They have eyes on you now.”
“I knew it! The guy who collected the rent is not a good person.”
“He might not be the one after you. He is very familiar with this area and knows a lot of people. Perhaps you caught the eye of his friend or someone else.”
“This is so troublesome! I only carried one pound with me this time. The rest of the money is for my dinner and carriage fee.”
A group of strangers suddenly emerged from a small alley on the other side of the street. One of them then pointed at him, “Don’t run, you pesky thief! Give me back the wallet you stole!”
The gypsy was exasperated when he heard what they said. This gang of ruffians was good at twisting the truth. They were actually here to rob his wallet. By saying that, it was an indication for others not to intervene in this matter. Seeing that they had surrounded him, he nervously said to Zhang Heng, “Your advice seems to have come a little late. Do you have other suggestions now?”
“Yes,” Zhang Heng said while taking off his coat and handing it to the gypsy, “hold it for me.”
The latter frowned and took the coat that Zhang Heng had bought for ten pence from the used clothes shop.
“Since I see no police around here, I will knock them out one by one.”
Zhang Heng loosened his wrists.