THE GEORGE AND VULTURE
"And how about Mr. Dickens? He has helped some, hasn't he?"
"Oh, yes, no doubt of it; light kind of fiction, you know, but it all counts in advertising, and——"
"But the Pickwick party did start from here, didn't it?"
I am not accustomed to having my dolls disembowelled before my eyes—not without a protest of some kind.
His head went back with a jerk and a laugh rang out.
"Still at it, are you?" he cried. "Start from here? Of course they did. I'm not certain from which door; not from the one you came in and not from the one I'll go out, if this part of London was built up as thick then as it is now. Maybe the book will tell you and maybe it won't—you can read it later on. The fellow who wrote it probably didn't know, so he hasn't said. He's got the fiction part of it all right and the room in which Winkle slept, and the landlord, so I am told, still keeps the sheets and pillow-cases in lavender and he has locked up in his safe the pen and ink-well that Winkle used in writing his letter to his father. He'll show it to you if you ask him—that is, he would have shown it to you had you asked him in time. He's dead now—been dead over fifty years. Well, I must be going. I'm in the phosphate business. Be glad to see you any time you drop in. There's my card. Thank you, I'll smoke it to-night, after dinner. Don't forget to go to Rochester. You'll go crazy there. The Bull is just your kind," and he closed the door behind him.