Page:Hopkinson Smith--In Dickens's London.djvu/52

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very large; the limbs and branches not so very long; the foliage does not grow so very high—all necessary data in determining the age of a tree. These may, in fact, be only the grandchildren of the trees under which Bob walked, victims of their surroundings, their limbs sawed off like those of many another unfortunate housed in the hospital grounds. It may be, too, that the exquisite shimmering vista of leaf and branch is only a kind of modern scientific growth, a sort of horticultural lobster-claw evolved out of the loss of its predecessor, and therefore all the fresher and greener, with more gleam and glint and grace of movement than the trees we see in most of the streets of smoke-choked London.

The landlord at the "Ship and Shovel," who had been catering for the doctors' mess for years before he moved over and took charge of the inn, did not know, as he explained in answer to my inquiry—he had found me at work and at once became friendly and conversational. He had never taken much notice of the trees, but if I would step inside—here he winked meaningly—he had some "particular old port" that he thought would warm the inner side of my shirt-front. It had had that effect on every doctor who had been graduated from Guy's these last thirty years, and did yet, for they all came back to see him. He would open a bottle if I would permit him, and serve it in the little room off the bar, and on the very table on whose top had been cut, with their own pen-knives, the names of hundreds of distinguished surgeons the world over.

I blew a spray of fixative from my atomiser over my charcoal drawing, unshackled my easel, and followed him into a little, kiln-dried, elbow-and-trouser-seat-polished cubby-