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The woman was sent off to the workhouse, and we others into the spike.
It was a gloomy, chilly, limewashed place, consisting only of a bathroom and dining-room and about a hundred narrow stone cells.
It was the invariable spike meal, always the same, whether breakfast, dinner or supper–half a pound of bread, a bit of margarine, and a pint of so-called tea.
It took us five minutes to gulp down the cheap, noxious food.
You couldn't call your soul your own when he was about, and many a tramp had he kicked out in the middle of the night for giving a back answer.
When You, came to be searched, he fair held you upside down and shook you. Pay, and if you went in with money (which is against the law) God help you. 'For the love of Christ, mate,' the old hands advised me, 'don't you take it in.
Title: Fifty Orwell Essays Author: George Orwell * A Project Gutenberg of Australia e Book * e Book No.: 0300011Language: English Date first posted: August 2003 Most recent update: December 2015 This e Book was produced by: Colin Choat Production notes: Author's footnotes appear at the end of the paragraph where indicated. All essays in this collection were first published during George Orwell's lifetime, and have appeared in a number of Orwell essay collections published both before and after his death.
He was a gruff, soldierly man of forty, who gave the tramps no more ceremony than sheep at the dipping-pond, shoving them this way and that and shouting oaths in their faces. 'Well, that's bloody bad luck, guv'nor,' he said, 'that's bloody bad luck, that is.' And thereafter he took it into his head to treat me with compassion, even with a kind of respect. All the indecent secrets of our underwear were exposed; the grime, the rents and patches, the bits of string doing duty for buttons, the layers upon layers of fragmentary garments, some of them mere collections of holes, held together by dirt.
Forty-nine of us, forty-eight men and one woman, lay on the green waiting for the spike to open. We just sprawled about exhaustedly, with home-made cigarettes sticking out of our scrubby faces.
Overhead the chestnut branches were covered with blossom, and beyond that great woolly clouds floated almost motionless in a clear sky.
The cells measured eight feet by five, and, had no lighting apparatus except a tiny, barred window high up in the wall, and a spyhole in the door.
There were no bugs, and we had bedsteads and straw palliasses, rare luxuries both.