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The Hole in the Wall   By: (1863-1945)

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E text prepared by Janet Kegg, Mary Meehan, and the Online Distributed Proofreading Team (http://www.pgdp.net)

THE HOLE IN THE WALL

by

ARTHUR MORRISON

London Eyre & Spottiswoode

The Hole in the Wall was first published in 1902 First published in The Century Library, 1947

The Century Library is printed in England by Billing and Sons Ltd., Guildford and Esher, for Eyre & Spottiswoode (Publishers) Ltd., 15 Bedford Street, London, W.C. 2, and bound by James Burn and Company Ltd., Royal Mills, Esher

To MRS. CHARLES EARDLEY WILMOT

CONTENTS

I. STEPHEN'S TALE

II. IN BLUE GATE

III. STEPHEN'S TALE

IV. STEPHEN'S TALE

V. IN THE HIGHWAY

VI. STEPHEN'S TALE

VII. STEPHEN'S TALE

VIII. STEPHEN'S TALE

IX. STEPHEN'S TALE

X. STEPHEN'S TALE

XI. STEPHEN'S TALE

XII. IN THE CLUB ROOM

XIII. STEPHEN'S TALE

XIV. STEPHEN'S TALE

XV. STEPHEN'S TALE

XVI. STEPHEN'S TALE

XVII. IN BLUE GATE

XVIII. ON THE COP

XIX. ON THE COP

XX. STEPHEN'S TALE

XXI. IN THE BAR PARLOUR

XXII. ON THE COP

XXIII. ON THE COP

XXIV. ON THE COP

XXV. STEPHEN'S TALE

XXVI. STEPHEN'S TALE

XXVII. IN THE BAR PARLOUR

XXVIII. STEPHEN'S TALE

XXIX. STEPHEN'S TALE

XXX. STEPHEN'S TALE

CHAPTER I

STEPHEN'S TALE

My grandfather was a publican and a sinner, as you will see. His public house was the Hole in the Wall, on the river's edge at Wapping; and his sins all of them that I know of are recorded in these pages. He was a widower of some small substance, and the Hole in the Wall was not the sum of his resources, for he owned a little wharf on the river Lea. I called him Grandfather Nat, not to distinguish him among a multitude of grandfathers for indeed I never knew another of my own but because of affectionate habit; a habit perhaps born of the fact that Nathaniel Kemp was also my father's name. My own is Stephen.

To remember Grandfather Nat is to bethink me of pear drops. It is possible that that particular sort of sweetstuff is now obsolete, and I cannot remember how many years have passed since last I smelt it; for the pear drop was a thing that could be smelt farther than seen, and oftener; so that its smell a rather fulsome, vulgar smell I now believe is almost as distinct to my imagination while I write as it was to my nose thirty years ago. For pear drops were an unfailing part of the large bagful of sticky old fashioned lollipops that my grandfather brought on his visits, stuffed into his overcoat pocket, and hard to get out without a burst and a spill. His custom was invariable, so that I think I must have come to regard the sweets as some natural production of his coat pocket; insomuch that at my mother's funeral my muddled brain scarce realised the full desolation of the circumstances till I discovered that, for the first time in my experience, my grandfather's pocket was void of pear drops. But with this new bereavement the world seemed empty indeed, and I cried afresh.

Associated in my memory with my grandfather's bag of sweets, almost more than with himself, was the gap in the right hand where the middle finger had been; for it was commonly the maimed hand that hauled out the paper bag, and the gap was plain and singular against the white paper. He had lost the finger at sea, they told me; and as my notion of losing a thing was derived from my Noah's ark, or dropping a marble through a grating, I was long puzzled to guess how anything like that could have happened to a finger. Withal the circumstance fascinated me, and added vastly to the importance and the wonder of my grandfather in my childish eyes.

He was perhaps a little over the middle height, but so broad and so deep of chest and, especially, so long of arm, as to seem squat. He had some grey hair, but it was all below the line of his hat brim; above that it was as the hair of a young man... Continue reading book >>




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