The aspect of the whole of this part has been completely changed of late years by the building of a river-wall, and the laying out as a public garden of the strip of ground by the river called Bishop's Park. The grounds of this public park are decorated with flower-beds and supplied with seats.
A momentary silhouette against the northern sky showed that it was Colville, come at last. "Quick this way!" he whispered, and taking Barebone's arm he led him through the bushes. He halted in a little open space between the ilex and the river-wall, which is fifteen feet high at the meeting of the creek and the larger stream.
A river ran through the middle of it; and over this river there was a very old stone bridge, called Kingsbridge, which led you from the market-place on one side to the churchyard on the other. Sailing-ships came up this river from the sea and anchored near the bridge. I used to go down and watch the sailors unloading the ships upon the river-wall.
As she reached her own room she heard the front door closed behind Loo and the rattle of the chain under the uncertain fingers of Septimus Marvin. The sound of it was like the clink of that other chain by which Barebone had made fast his boat to the tottering post on the river-wall.
Summerhay stood by the river-wall and looked up at the stars through the plane-tree branches. Every now and then he drew a long breath of the warm, unstirring air, and smiled, without knowing that he smiled. And he thought of little, of nothing; but a sweetish sensation beset his heart, a kind of quivering lightness his limbs. He sat down on a bench and shut his eyes. He saw a face only a face.
Downstream from The Pool, a little way below Shadwell, an uncouth row of dilapidated dwellings in those days stood or, better, squatted, like a mute company of draggletail crones atop a river-wall whose ancient blocks, all ropy with the slime of centuries, peered dimly out through groups of crazy spiles at the restless pageant of Thames-life.
Besides the water-carriers, market-women and fruit-vendors there may be seen straight, stalwart lasses acting as portresses to convey loads to and from the boats which are fastened to the river-wall. Many of the servants and other laborers through Portugal come from Galicia, the inhabitants of that Spanish province enjoying a reputation for honesty and faithful service combined with stupidity.
Each road runs to a small gate in the brick river-wall: there are as many gates as lanes. The course of the river appears to have been straighter then than it is now. So far, in brief, Herodotus. Clearly his words suggest town-planning.
The sailors sang strange songs as they pulled upon the ropes; and I learned these songs by heart. And I would sit on the river-wall with my feet dangling over the water and sing with the men, pretending to myself that I too was a sailor.
Once, south-east and west of London, there stretched a broad marsh covered with water at every spring-tide; here and there rose islets overgrown with brambles, the haunt of wild fowl innumerable. In course of time, the city having grown and stretching out long arms along the bank, people began to build a broad and strong river-wall to keep out the floods.