Last time, just as he was about to get hit again, Simon reminded the madam that she bought him from the dredge-line to solve the problem she couldn't.
The madam’s hand dropped to her side. “If I could have kept this within my own house, I would have.” She glanced at a couple girls who dropped their heads as though guilty or afraid. “I’ve headed off most of the gossip by keeping her shut up inside, but folks can smell a rumor like a dead fish in the sun, and I’m running out of time and ideas.” The madam drew a thin roll of dried black seaweed from her skirt pocket and stuck it between her teeth. “Since that girl is always staring out the window, I supposed she was watching you kids drag muck outta the river since there’s nothing else to look at, but maybe I was wrong.”