A one-eyed cobbler acted as porter downstairs, from morning till night, astride upon his bench and ever at work, an ill-savoured old pipe in his mouth. "You may try," he answered, when any one asked for Griggs. "Who knows? Perhaps Sor Paolo will open. Try a little, if you have patience." Patience being exhausted, the visitor came down the five flights again, and remonstrated with the cobbler.
Number one is a shirking fellow of five-and-twenty, in an ill-favoured and ill-savoured suit, his trousers of corduroy, his coat of some indiscernible groundwork for the deposition of grease, his neckerchief like an eel, his complexion like dirty dough, his mangy fur cap pulled low upon his beetle brows to hide the prison cut of his hair. His hands are in his pockets.
In a rather ill-favoured and ill-savoured neighbourhood, though one of its rising grounds bears the name of Mount Pleasant, the Elfin Smallweed, christened Bartholomew and known on the domestic hearth as Bart, passes that limited portion of his time on which the office and its contingencies have no claim.
Imagination gloats over the fulness of time when the staircases shall have quite tumbled down they are daily wearing into an ill-savoured powder, but have not quite tumbled down yet when the last old prolix bencher all of the olden time, shall have been got out of an upper window by means of a Fire Ladder, and carried off to the Holborn Union; when the last clerk shall have engrossed the last parchment behind the last splash on the last of the mud-stained windows, which, all through the miry year, are pilloried out of recognition in Gray's Inn-lane.
A little winding through some muddy alleys that might have been deposited by the last ill-savoured tide, brought them to the wicket-gate and bright lamp of a Police Station; where they found the Night-Inspector, with a pen and ink, and ruler, posting up his books in a whitewashed office, as studiously as if he were in a monastery on top of a mountain, and no howling fury of a drunken woman were banging herself against a cell-door in the back-yard at his elbow.
To be so free and active here, and to be bound again in the body, in the close, suffering, ill-savoured house of life! But I have much to gain by it. I have a sharpness of temper and a peremptoriness of which indeed," he said, smiling, "you have had experience. I am fond of doing things in my own way, inconsiderate of others, and impatient if they do not go right.
The wretched candle burns down; the woman takes its expiring end between her fingers, lights another at it, crams the guttering frying morsel deep into the candlestick, and rams it home with the new candle, as if she were loading some ill-savoured and unseemly weapon of witchcraft; the new candle in its turn burns down; and still he lies insensible.
If only it had not been Sunday if it had been a lonely road, and not so near the village, if she had not had the two tell-tale children with her she would have been very good friends with the dirty, chalky, ill-favoured, and ill-savoured wretch. At the parting of the roads each went different ways, but she could not help looking back. He was a thorough specimen of the leery London mongrel.
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