Page:Hopkinson Smith--In Dickens's London.djvu/59

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a parlour—neat as a pin and as comfortable as an old slipper. And the landlady was precisely the kind of a landlady you would have expected to find in just such a parlour, with a soft, comfortable, English voice, coming to me out of the half-light of the room.

My story, to which she listened patiently, was the same that I have been telling these many years, whenever forced to invade the privacy of a family homestead, beginning with the statement that "I am a painter from over the sea" (here I extend my visiting-card), that "I have made bold to call in the hope that I might be permitted to make a drawing of the home in which" (here follows the title of the chapter covering the subject-matter of the sketch)—in this instance the house in which Mr. Dickens passed the first years of his married life and where, if I were not mistaken, he wrote the last chapters of "Pickwick."

"No, sir, you are quite right," she answered, "and I shall show you the very room out in the back yard where he finished the book. Oh, quite a tiny little place! And so you're from New York?"

She had been telescoping the distance lying between her spectacles and my bit of pasteboard, as she looked at me over their rims, and apparently satisfied with my general deportment, went on in a more cheery tone:

"Why, I don't see how I could refuse. I have so many Americans. Some of them keep their rooms for weeks. There are two here now." Suddenly she grew anxious, her eyes focussing me the closer. "You won't make any dirt or noise, will you, for our dinner hour is quite early. Some of my lady boarders use this parlour for——"