Page:Hopkinson Smith--In Dickens's London.djvu/174

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and conducted me to a square of grass containing more cubic feet of reeking moisture to the square inch of surface than any absorbent substance with which I have thus far become acquainted; that he was good enough to bring me a plank—a wide, dry plank—on which I placed my feet, and that I sat there two mortal hours, crouched under my umbrella, only my canvas protected, the drizzling rain soaking into my very bones; the sky a grey cotton batting; the black-green trees limp and utterly disgusted with life and quite ready to be cut up into anything from kindling to cord wood so they could be warmed up—I say, I sat there until the record of an Arctic thermometer applied anywhere over my person, from my feet up, would, if accompanied by proper scientific data, have been received by any group of learned men as prima-facie evidence of my having first discovered the North Pole.

I remember, too, that when my sketch was finished this same janitor—God bless him—lifted me to my feet, inserted one strong, fat hand under my armpit, and helped me in my step-ladder walk to his cosy front room aglow with a blazing coal fire; that after plank-shadding and Johnny-caking both sides of me I sent him out for a small bottle of the Best Ever (Hennessy, or any old brand, it didn't matter which), and that we two then and there fraternised until there was nothing left but the smell, and very little of that.

I remember, too, that my cigar case was full was when we commenced—and so was his cupboard—was when we fell to—and so later on were our stomachs were when we finished; that he threw, at short intervals, intermittent