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Alone in London   By: (1832-1911)

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Alone in London

By Hesba Stretton

Author of "Jessica's First Prayer," "Little Meg's Children," etc.

CONTENTS.

CHAPTER

I. NOT ALONE

II. WAIFS AND STRAYS

III. A LITTLE PEACEMAKER

IV. OLD OLIVER'S MASTER

V. FORSAKEN AGAIN

VI. THE GRASSHOPPER A BURDEN

VII. THE PRINCE OF LIFE

VIII. NO PIPE FOR OLD OLIVER

IX. A NEW BROOM AND A CROSSING

X. HIGHLY RESPECTABLE

XI. AMONG THIEVES

XII. TONY'S WELCOME

XIII. NEW BOOTS

XIV. IN HOSPITAL

XV. TONY'S FUTURE PROSPECTS

XVI. A BUD FADING

XVII. A VERY DARK SHADOW

XVIII. NO ROOM FOR DOLLY

XIX. THE GOLDEN CITY

XX. A FRESH DAY DAWNS

XXI. POLLY

CHAPTER I.

NOT ALONE.

It had been a close and sultry day one of the hottest of the dog days even out in the open country, where the dusky green leaves had never stirred upon their stems since the sunrise, and where the birds had found themselves too languid for any songs beyond a faint chirp now and then. All day long the sun had shone down steadily upon the streets of London, with a fierce glare and glowing heat, until the barefooted children had felt the dusty pavement burn under their tread almost as painfully as the icy pavement had frozen their naked feet in the winter. In the parks, and in every open space, especially about the cool splash of the fountains at Charing Cross, the people, who had escaped from the crowded and unventilated back streets, basked in the sunshine, or sought every corner where a shadow could be found. But in the alleys and slums the air was heavy with heat and dust, and thick vapours floated up and down, charged with sickening smells from the refuse of fish and vegetables decaying in the gutters. Overhead the small, straight strip of sky was almost white, and the light, as it fell, seemed to quiver with the burden of its own burning heat.

Out of one of the smaller thoroughfares lying between Holborn and the Strand, there opens a narrow alley, not more than six or seven feet across, with high buildings on each side. In the most part the ground floors consist of small shops; for the alley is not a blind one, but leads from the thoroughfare to another street, and forms, indeed, a short cut to it, pretty often used. These shops are not of any size or importance a greengrocer's, with a somewhat scanty choice of vegetables and fruit, a broker's, displaying queer odds and ends of household goods, two or three others, and at the end farthest from the chief thoroughfare, but nearest to the quiet and respectable street beyond, a very modest looking little shop window, containing a few newspapers, some rather yellow packets of stationery, and two or three books of ballads. Above the door was painted, in very small, dingy letters, the words, "James Oliver, News Agent."

The shop was even smaller, in proportion, than its window. After two customers had entered if such an event could ever come to pass it would have been almost impossible to find room for a third. Along the end ran a little counter, with a falling flap by which admission could be gained to the living room lying behind the shop. This evening the flap was down a certain sign that James Oliver, the news agent, had some guest within, for otherwise there would have been no occasion to lessen the scanty size of the counter. The room beyond was dark, very dark indeed, for the time of day; for, though the evening was coming on, and the sun was hastening to go down at last, it had not yet ceased to shine brilliantly upon the great city. But inside James Oliver's house the gas was already lighted in a little steady flame, which never flickered in the still, hot air, though both door and window were wide open. For there was a window, though it was easy to overlook it, opening into a passage four feet wide, which led darkly up into a still closer and hotter court, lying in the very core of the maze of streets... Continue reading book >>




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