Page:Hopkinson Smith--In Dickens's London.djvu/201

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and I can still feel a tear trickle down my cheek when Tiny Tim's "active little crutch was heard upon the floor."

I can hear, too, the tones of the author's voice as I listened to him in New York on that snowy night in December, 1867, when, to quote his letter to his daughter, "there were at nine o'clock in the morning, 3000 people in waiting and they had begun to assemble in the bitter cold as early as two o'clock in the morning." I remember the choke in his throat and his very gesture when, as Doctor Marigold, he laid out the imaginary wares of the imaginary Cheap John on the reading-desk before him, and can recall his every intonation in the closing paragraphs of his wonderful story when the child of his blind ward, Sophy, clambered up the steps of his Cheap John's cart.

"Looking full at me, the tiny creature took off her mite of a straw hat, and a quantity of dark curls fell about her face. Then she opened her lips, and said in a pretty voice:—


"'Ah my God!' I cries out, 'she can speak.'

"In a moment Sophy was around my neck as well as the child, and her husband was wringing my hand with his face hid, and we all had to shake ourselves together before we could get over it. And when we did begin to get over it, and I saw the pretty child a talking, pleased and quick and eager and busy, to her mother, in the signs that I had first taught her mother, the happy and yet pitying tears fell rolling down my face."