Page:Hopkinson Smith--In Dickens's London.djvu/183

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was at that moment leaning. When the round knob came into view I discovered that it was partly bald, the hair having been rubbed off as far down as his ears, owing, no doubt, to constant abrasions received in the cramped quarters in which he worked; that the brush edges of two bushy eyebrows fringed a pair of silver spectacles arched over a thin, bloodless nose, two pale, sunken cheeks, and a mouth that was all puckers. The eyes, though, flashed like diamond points.

"The mistake these people make around here"—and he glanced contemptuously at his employer—"is that they mix up the two publications with which Mr. Dickens was connected. Household Words made its home below here in the building afterward known as the Gaiety Theatre; the office of the manager being the one in which Mr. Dickens sat. This has been torn down. The offices of All the Year Round you will find on Wellington; Strand. I could show you the room, but I am too busy. Is there anything else?"

He looked at me keenly, awaiting my reply, the puckers about his mouth tightening, the high light on his bare skull all the more brilliant by reason of the intellectual strain now distending the skin covering.

For a moment I hesitated. The information had been as exact as a prescription and had been given as though the formulae were under his eyes.

"No, thank you." Again I hesitated. "But might I ask if you could give me the name of the party who at the present occupies Mr. Dickens's former editorial room so I can——"

"Yes, you can ask it and I can give it to you, but it