Page:Hopkinson Smith--In Dickens's London.djvu/104

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a tight-fitting uniform. I then asked permission to anchor my cab and begin work.

He looked at me calmly, took in my canvas, easel, umbrella, and folding stool, and, with a grin that covered his face from his chin to his eyebrows, said crisply:

"Well, why not?"

The cab in place and the trap unstrapped, he helping me to overcome the vagaries of my umbrella, I gave him, as is my habit, not only an account of my present laudable purpose but strove to interest him in the historical and literary data connected with the Bridge, and thus establish a closer relationship should my outdoor studio of a cab become in the near future a bone of contention between the law and the populace.

Beginning with an account of the Bridge itself—I told him how it was the oldest spanning the river, its earliest predecessor being built in the time of the Saxons in 1008; how some eighty years ago, after several structures had seen their day, John Rennee built this Colossus, placing the supporting piers some distance west of the former site, my enthusiasm increasing as I explained in detail some of the problems confronting the distinguished engineer, a bridge being something more to me than a contrivance for crossing a river.

And then, still determined on gaining his confidence (it is extraordinary how polite one is to a London Bobby) and as an immediate excuse for my blocking up the roadway—and there was not the slightest doubt that I was blocking it up—I recounted in detail part of Nancy's and Noah Claypole's story as told in "Oliver Twist," pointing out "the