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Life in London or, the Pitfalls of a Great City   By:

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LIFE IN LONDON

OR, THE PITFALLS OF A GREAT CITY

BY EDWIN HODDER, ESQ.

1890.

CONTENTS.

I. THE INTRODUCTION

II. SCHOOL BOY DAYS

III. STARTING WELL

IV. MEETING A SCHOOL FELLOW

V. A FARCE

VI. THE LECTURE

VII. GETTING ON IN THE WORLD

VIII. A TEST OF FRIENDSHIP

IX. IN EXILE

X. MAKING DISCOVERIES

XI. THE SICK CHAMBER

CHAPTER I.

THE INTRODUCTION.

Breathless and excited, George Weston came running down a street in Islington. He knocked at the door of No. 16, and in his impatience, until it was opened, commenced a tattoo with his knuckles upon the panels.

"Oh, mother, mother, I have got such splendid news!" he cried, as he hurried down stairs into the room where Mrs. Weston, with her apron on and sleeves tucked up, was busy in her domestic affairs. "Such splendid news!" repeated George. "I have been down to Mr. Compton's with the letter Uncle Henry gave me, in which he said I wanted a situation, and should be glad if Mr. Compton could help me; and, sure enough, I was able to see him, and he is such a kind, fatherly old gentlemen, mother. I am sure I shall like him."

"Well, George, and what did he say!"

"Oh! I've got ever so much to tell you, before I come to that part. The office, you know, is in Falcon Court, Fleet Street; such a dismal place, with the houses all crammed together, and a little space in front, not more than large enough to turn a baker's bread truck in. All the windows are of ground glass, as if the people inside were too busy to see out, or to be seen; and on every door there are lots of names of people who have their offices there, and some of them are actually right up at the top storeys of the houses. Well, I found out the name of Mr. Compton, and I tapped at a door where 'Clerk's Office' was written. I think I ought not to have tapped, but to have gone in, for somebody said rather sharply, 'Come in,' and in I went. An old gentleman was standing beside a sort of counter, with a lot of heavy books on it, and he asked me what I wanted. I said I wanted to see Mr. Compton, and had got a letter for him. He told me to sit down until Mr. Compton was disengaged, and then he would see me."

"And what sort of an office was it, George? And who was the old gentleman? The manager, I suppose!"

"I think he was, because he seemed to do as he liked, and all the clerks talked in a whisper while he was there. I had to wait more than half an hour, and I was able to look round and see all that was going on. It is a large office, and there were ten clerks seated on uncomfortable high stools, without backs, poring over books and papers. I don't think I shall like those clerks, they stared at me so rudely, and I felt so ashamed, because one looked hard at me, and then whispered to another: and I believe they were saying something about my boots, which you know, mother, are terribly down at heel, and so I put one foot over the other, to try and hide them."

"There was no need of that, George. It did not alter the fact that they were down at heel; and there is no disgrace in being clothed only as respectable as we can afford, is there?"

"Not a bit, mother: and I feel so vexed with myself because I knew I turned red, which made the two clerks smile. But I must go on telling you what else I saw. The old gentleman seems quite a character he is nearly bald, has got no whiskers, wears a big white neckcloth and a tail coat, and takes snuff every five minutes out of a silver box. Whether he knows it or not, the clerks are very rude to him: for when he took snuff, one of them sneezed, or pretended to sneeze, every time, and another snuffled, as if he were taking snuff too."

"That certainly does not speak well for the clerks," said Mrs. Weston. "Old gentlemen do have peculiar ways sometimes, but it is not right for young people to ridicule them."

"No, it is not; and I don't like to see people do a thing behind another one's back they are afraid to do before his face. When the clerks had to speak to the old gentleman, they were as civil as possible, and said, 'Yes, sir,' and 'No, sir,' to him so meekly, as if they were quite afraid of him; but after a little while, when he took up his hat and went out, they all began talking and laughing out loud, although when he was there, they had only occasionally spoken in low whispers... Continue reading book >>




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