Page:Hopkinson Smith--In Dickens's London.djvu/192

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When the clerk returned he held out to me a square piece of pasteboard on which was inscribed my name and London address.

"What am I to do with this?"

"Show it to the beadle.'*

"And is that all I've got to do?"


"What else?"

"Pay me two shillings and sixpence. It goes to the repair of the Abbey."

"And when can I begin work?"

"Any day between twelve and four o'clock. Good morning."

It was all over. Permits were kept on tap like peppermints in a slot-machine. All I had to do was to drop in my two and six and out would come a licence permitting me to walk over as many graves as I liked between twelve and four.

Outside the office I found the verger who had acted as guide—a patient, long-suffering, expectant verger. He, too, needed repairs; more especially about his pockets, which required relining. The sexton was also waiting. He took up his position near the door by which I left the church. He, too, was suffering, and so was the head beadle, who wore a gown and a silver chain around his neck, and who could easily have been taken for the wine man in a restaurant. He scrutinised the card, regarded me intently, seemed favourably impressed, and pointed out the precise spot where I could sit. His sufferings did not become acute until my work was finished.