Page:Hopkinson Smith--In Dickens's London.djvu/175

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buckets of coal on the fire until he noted a January thaw developing in my face; and I remember that two days later, not having contracted pneumonia or sciatica or gangrene, that I went back and thanked him for saving my life, which, there is not the slightest doubt in my mind, he did.

And so—and this is why these interminable sentences have been written—it is not to be wondered at that when in June of the following year (1913) I, being now persona grata, leaned over the same half-door begging further indulgence (not for Mr. Thackeray, but for Mr. Dickens) that he should gladly have conducted me through the J. P. T. 1747 door, up a squeezed flight of wooden steps, and, on turning a knob, have ushered me into the identical office once occupied by Mr. Grewgious and Bazzard, and lighted by the very windows from which the evil face of John Jasper once peered.

All of which the obliging janitor did, expounding my purpose to the occupant in such suave, silver tones that Mr. Grewgious's successor, a smooth-shaven, full-blooded man, a quill pen gripped between his lips as a dog carries cane, a pair of gold spectacles framing his friendly eyes, answered without a moment's hesitation:

"Why, of course; when will it be?"

"Whenever it will disturb you the least," I replied humbly.

"Then come to-morrow. We close at twelve. Saturday, you know; when you won't have a soul in or out. When you get through lock the door and hang the key on a hook outside. American, are you? Glad to see you. I got a brother in the States."

I twisted my body down-stairs, thanked him in my heart