Page:Hopkinson Smith--In Dickens's London.djvu/75

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My sketch finished, my toes straightened out, the amiable crowd opened a way, and I, too, entered the busy, smoke-begrimed interior of the George and Vulture and sat me down at one of the tables.

A fat, puffy, rather greasy-looking waiter ambled up and laid the menu before me. It was the rush hour, and, as Lombard Street is one of the busiest centres in London, the alcoves were full and the whole interior a mass of hungry humanity. Eager men fringed the lunch-counters; the barmaids jerked away at the handles of the interlocking switches, shunting the beer here and there into this mug and that Toby; breathless clerks bustled in at one door, grabbed a sandwich, smeared its inside with mustard, shot over to the cigar stand, caromed back to the bar, tossed into their frames a pint of bass, and escaped through the main door into the street again, or pitched head foremost into the restaurant across the entrance hall, bearing on its outside window the inscription, in a half moon of gold letters: The George and Vulture.

For here it may be said that of late years this sly old eating-house not only leads a double life but lives by a double name. On the Lombard Street side it is known as the Thomas Chop House. On the other side—my side—it revives the traditions of the old days of the George and Vulture, as Tony Weller and his son Samivel always called it, and as does many another to this day.

The fat waiter was standing demurely, all the time suggesting various dishes.

"B'iled mutton and caper sauce, wery good to-day, sir." Or "maybe a cut of beef with a dash of 'orseradish and some