Page:Hopkinson Smith--In Dickens's London.djvu/166

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the tide is out these great lighters go aground on a wide, continuous mud bank hugging the foundation bricks, where, until the repentant tide returns, they lie inert, powerless, and lopsided.

To find, therefore, a coign of vantage from which a sketch expressing in the slightest degree the whirl and rush of the river traffic could be made, was difficult. After entering various doors giving on the street, tramping over acres of ground floor which seemingly promised possible exits overlooking the river, only to be confronted by colossal stacks of packing-boxes holding cans of kerosene, crates of cheese, heaps of woodenware, breastworks of tea, salt, and coffee; I brought up at last against a brick wall with every iron shutter closed tight as a burial vault.

A gleam of light shining through a mere slit, a sort of forest opening between huge piles of merchandise, finally caught my eye, and with the help of a stevedore detailed by the manager, who carried my traps, I rounded, squared, and enfiladed the conglomerate mass representing the products of half the globe and emerged in triumph on a door-sill to which was fastened a landing plank about three feet wide.

Here I could sit, so the stevedore said, until the tide turned, which would be along about noon and maybe later, when I should have to go whether the tide was on time or not, "as it was Saturday, and everything was shut chuck-a-block on Saturday at twelve, with nothing doing any more until seven o'clock on Monday morning."

My experience has taught me that you can sometimes wheedle a janitor, influence a Bobby, and occasionally per-