Page:Hopkinson Smith--In Dickens's London.djvu/83

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And in June, 1913, no less a person than the humble scribe tucked his legs under one of the mahoganies of the coffee-room and stretched them to their full length in the high poster on the second floor back.

As to the hosts of the shadowy and intangible, Dickens himself says that up these very stairs sprinted the volatile Mr. Alfred Jingle on his way to the Assembly Ball, given on the next floor where he danced and made love to Doctor Slammer's buxom widow; that down this same flight roared the doctor, thirsting for Mr. Jingle's blood; and that around this same coffee-room fumed Slammer's belligerent second, loaded with instructions which he was to fire pointblank at Mr. Nathaniel Winkle, or some one representing that bibulous and forgetful gentleman, the moment he came in sight.

Strange to say, in The Bull and its environs few changes have taken place since Mr. Dickens described them, either in its surroundings, its interiors, nor yet in its appointments. The ballroom is quite as the Pickwick party found it, even to the row of chairs and small "elevated den" where the musicians were securely confined. Nothing, certainly, has been done to the scrambling, twisted-about stairs on which Mr. Jingle stood when he asked:

"Devil of a mess on the staircase, waiter—forms going up—carpenters coming down—lamps, glasses, harps——"

Neither has anything been done to the coffee-room, where Doctor Slammer's belligerent second tried to calm his warlike spirit until the night porter could wake Mr. Winkle, if one can judge from the appearance of its several articles of furniture and adornment;—its table and chairs of old mahogany;