Page:Hopkinson Smith--In Dickens's London.djvu/101

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been validated.


"Outside, I have no objections—try the rear view." Then came a wave of his hand toward the maid—a "show-the-man-out" wave.

"I am aware," I began again, standing my ground, "that you must be greatly annoyed with applications of this kind, but that is a penalty we all pay when we are custodians of something that the whole world loves. From my boyhood days I——"

Out went the hand again—straight out this time—with a set-the-dog-on-him movement.

I understood. I realised my helplessness. Alone and in a foreign land; without friends; twenty miles from my consul; more than twice that distance from our ambassador; aware of the sanctity of an Englishman's home—his castle, and that sort of thing—and so I folded my tent (my slouch-hat) and silently stole away.

And this, my dear reader, is why I am unable to give you, in this modest book, devoted to the genius of Charles Dickens, a view of the interior of his library; of the bow window looking out upon his garden; of his book-shelves and of the very spot where, on the 8th of June, 1870, Miss Hogarth, "seeing with alarm a singular expression of trouble and pain cross his face, caught him in her arms, only to hear the last words he ever spoke as he sank heavily on his left side on the ground." He lay unconscious all that night and died the next day about the same hour.

So, outside it was, with the result to be seen in my sketch and with the same summer light bathing the facade smothered in ivy and climbing vines, and almost at the same hour at which he died, for my note-book makes record