Page:Hopkinson Smith--In Dickens's London.djvu/95

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paper clippings descriptive of his death and funeral services, each and every one of them elaborated in a fog-horn voice which broke loose from the top of a tall man who said he was the original landlord—a voice which could have been heard, and doubtless was, a mile away, in Rochester.

After listening to it for half an hour I paid my bill through a hole in a pine board, shutting off the tap-room from the dusty, level-with-the-dirt-road passageway, and walked back to The Bull a wiser and sadder man. One eats an olive to get the taste of a poor wine out of the mouth and thus prepare his palate for better things. I have no grudge against The Leather Bottle. The mug of bass was of the proper quality and temperature and the mug itself was clean. I could have wished that the landlord had had mumps, or quinsy sore throat, or a well-developed case of bronchitis, and I would have been glad had the Coney Island atmosphere permeating the place been allowed to escape out of the open window, taking most of the gimcracks along with it: or perhaps Mr. Tupman's love-affair did not interest me as much as did Mr. Jingle's. One thing is certain, however, the olive of The Bull at Rochester removed the taste of the contents of The Leather Bottle.

That same day I drove to Gad's Hill, some two miles away.

My experiences were not tempestuously pleasant. I went through the same formula used on Doughty Street, which has never failed me the world over when on similar errands, giving the smart-looking young maid who opened the door a condensed account of my blameless life, family history, and present lofty purpose, ending with the presentation of an