Page:Hopkinson Smith--In Dickens's London.djvu/159

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I began to roam about the interior, confirming the old lady's data, and, as his absence was prolonged, I opened my "Little Dorrit" and reread that portion of the novel in which the scene in the vestry is described—the scene which was so real to the little old lady, and, now that I had seen the locality, so real to me.

"Three o'clock, and half-past three, and they had passed over London Bridge. They had heard the rush of the tide against obstacles; and looked down, awed, through the dark vapour on the river; had seen little spots of lighted water where the bridge lamps were reflected, shining like demon eyes, with a terrible fascination in them for guilt and misery. They had shrunk past homeless people, lying coiled up in nooks. They had run from drunkards. They had started from slinking men, whistling and signing to one another at bye corners, or running away at full speed. Though everywhere the leader and the guide, Little Dorrit, happy for once in her youthful appearance, feigned to cling to and rely upon Maggy. And more than once some voice, from among a knot of brawling or prowling figures in their path, had called out to the rest, to 'let the woman and the child go by!'

"So, the woman and the child had gone by, and gone on, and five had sounded from the steeples. They were walking slowly towards the east, already looking for the first pale streak of day.… Going round by the church, she saw lights there, and the door open; and went up the steps, and looked in.

"'Who's that?' cried a stout old man, who was putting on a nightcap as if he were going to bed in a vault.