Page:Hopkinson Smith--In Dickens's London.djvu/41

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put a new coat of white paint on the woodwork round the front door. If I don't miss my guess, there won't be another coat put on for five year more."

There was no disputing facts like these. Nor could I doubt the accuracy of the driver's identification. He was a resident and should have known possibly did know his neighbours. Had any doubt arisen Mr. Dickens's own statement would have banished it, so dull and expressionless was the vista that stretched before me.

"There is a repose," he says, "about Lant Street which sheds so gentle a melancholy upon the soul, that if a man wished to place himself beyond the possibility of any inducement to look out of the window, he should by all means select it as a residence."

That Mr. Bob Sawyer and his intimate friend Mr. Ben Allen had ignored these depressing possibilities, is well known to every one. Whatever of melancholy lay stranded on the outside of their domicile none of it was ever permitted within those hospitable walls, to which personages even as distinguished as Mr. Pickwick and Mr. Tracy Tupman themselves were invited. That their welcome was bound to be cordial was indicated by a little pleasantry indulged in on the part of Mr. Sawyer when he thrust his forefinger between two of Mr. Pickwick's ribs and with native drollery inquired:

"'I say, old boy, where do you hang out?'

"Mr. Pickwick replied that he was at present suspended at 'The George and Vulture.'

"'I wish you would come and see me,' said Bob Sawyer. 'Lant Street, Borough; it's near Guy's, and handy for me,