Here, in Redwharf Lane, was the office of the firm of Denham, Crumps, and Company. Mr Denham stood with his back to the fire, for it was a coldish autumn day, with his coat-tails under his arms. He was a big bald man of five-and-forty, with self-importance enough for a man of five-hundred-and-forty.
Whether it has become more truthful in the present days, remains an open question. There can be no question, however, that much business was done at the office in Redwharf Lane, and that, while Denham lived in a handsome mansion in Russell Square, and Crumbs dwelt in a sweet cottage in Kensington, Company had kept a pony phaeton, and had died in a snug little villa on Hampstead Heath.
There came a day at last when the rats in Redwharf Lane obtained an entire holiday, doubtless to their own amazement, and revelled in almost unmolested felicity from morning till night. The office of Denham, Crumps, and Company was shut; the reason being that the head of the firm was dead. Mr Denham had died without a will.
There came a day, at last, in which foul air and confinement, and money-making, began to tell on the constitution of Mr Denham; to disagree with him, in fact. The rats began to miss him, occasionally, from Redwharf Lane, at the wonted hour, and, no doubt, gossiped a good deal on the subject over their evening meals, after the labours and depredations of the day were ended!
But although the neighbourhood was dirty and noisy, our modest street, which was at that time known by the name of Redwharf Lane, was comparatively clean and quiet.
"Wot a green 'un!" muttered Tommy, as he gazed at the tiger in blue through a volume of tobacco smoke. "What's the matter, boy?" inquired Bax, in some surprise. "Anything wrong at Redwharf Lane?" "Ye-es that's to say, not exactly, only I've run'd away." "You han't run far, then," said Bax, smiling. "How long is't since you ran away?" "Just ten minutes."
It came in the form of a thick fog, which rolled down the crooked places of Redwharf Lane, poured through keyholes, curled round the cranes on the warehouses, and the old anchors, cables, and buoys in the lumber-yards; travelled over the mudflats, and crept out upon the muddy river among the colliers, rendering light things indistinct, black things blacker, dark places darker, and affording such an opportunity for unrestrained enjoyment to the rats, that these creatures held an absolute carnival everywhere.
Her arrival had been already telegraphed to the firm in Redwharf Lane. There was rejoicing that evening on board the "Trident." Men and women and children crowded the high sides of the weather-worn ship, and, holding on by shrouds, ratlines and stays, standing on tip-toe, clambering on carronades, and peeping through holes, gazed long and ardently at the white cliffs of dear Old England.
"Thank you, unc sir," said Guy, who, having been chained to the desk in the office of Redwharf Lane for the last eleven months, felt his young heart bounding wildly within him at the prospect of visiting, even for a brief period, his mother's cottage on the coast of Kent.
He had just arrived at Redwharf Lane, and looked quite fresh and ruddy from the exercise of walking, for Denham was a great walker, and frequently did the distance between his house and his office on foot. Mr Crumps sat shivering in his own room, looking the reverse of ruddy, for Crumps was old and his blood was thin, and there was no fire in his room.
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