Page:Hopkinson Smith--In Dickens's London.djvu/103

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


CHAPTER VI

LONDON BRIDGE, WHERE NOAH CLAYPOLE DOGGED NANCY SIKES'S STEPS THE NIGHT SHE WAS MURDERED


There are summer days in England when the air is a benediction, the sunshine a balm, and the delicate greys melting into mists of pearl a joy of the painter; when fleets of wind-filled clouds drift over the blue, their shadows mottling the lush meadows, their topsails mirrored in long stretches of burnished silver—days which are a delight to the eye and a feast to the soul.

And some of this is true of London, not only in its squares, parks, and gardens, gay with trees and flowering shrubs, but along the Great Embankment, where the stone-and-iron monsters wade knee-deep in the Thames, their broad backs freighted with countless multitudes.

It was on one of these June afternoons, and at an hour when the traffic was thickest, that I halted my cab at one end of London Bridge, touched my hat to the officer in charge, and began my story, opening up with some light, desultory talk on a variety of subjects, punctured at the critical moment by the tender of one of my choicest one with a red-and-gold band which he thrust between the front buttons of his coat,—cigars being fragile and pockets ungetatable in

57