Now do those two gentlemen not very neat about the cuffs and buttons who attended the last coroner’s inquest at the Sol’s Arms, reappear in the precincts with surprising swiftness (being, in fact, breathlessly fetched by the active and intelligent beadle), and institute perquisitions through the court, and dive into the Sol’s parlour, and write with ravenous little pens on tissue-paper. Now do they note down, in the watches of the night, how the neighbourhood of Chancery Lane was yesterday, at about midnight, thrown into a state of the most intense agitation and excitement by the following alarming and horrible discovery. Now do they set forth how it will doubtless be remembered, that some time back a painful sensation was created in the public mind, by a case of mysterious death from opium occurring in the first floor of the house occupied as a rag, bottle, and general marine store-shop, by an eccentric individual of intemperate habits, far advanced in life, named Krook; and how, by a remarkable coincidence, Krook was examined at the inquest, which it may be recollected was held on that occasion at the Sol’s Arms, a well-conducted tavern, immediately adjoining the premises in question, on the west side, and licensed to a highly respectable landlord, Mr James George Bogsby. Now do they show (in as many words as possible), how during some hours of yesterday evening a very peculiar smell was observed by the inhabitants of the court, in which the tragical occurrence which forms the subject of that present account transpired; and which odour was at one time so powerful, that Mr Swills, a comic vocalist, professionally engaged by Mr J. G. Bogsby, has himself stated to our reporter that he mentioned to Miss M. Melvilleson, a lady of some pretensions to musical ability, likewise engaged by Mr J. G. Bogsby to sing at a series of concerts called Harmonic Assemblies or Meetings, which it would appear are held at the Sol’s Arms, under Mr Bogsby’s direction, pursuant to the Act of George the Second, that he (Mr Swills) found his voice seriously affected by the impure state of the atmosphere; his jocose expression, at the time, being, “that he was like an empty post-office, for he hadn’t a single note in him.” How this account of Mr Swills is entirely corroborated by two intelligent married females residing in the same court, and known respectively by the names of Mrs Piper and Mrs Perkins; both of whom observed the fœtid effluvia, and regarded them as being emitted from the premises in the occupation of Krook, the unfortunate deceased. All this and a great deal more, the two gentlemen, who have formed an amicable partnership in the melancholy catastrophe, write down on the spot; and the boy population of the court (out of bed in a moment) swarm up the shutters of the Sol’s Arm’s parlour, to behold the tops of their heads while they are about it.

The whole court, adult as well as boy, is sleepless for that night, and can do nothing but wrap up its many heads, and talk of the ill-fated house, and look at it. Miss Flite has been bravely rescued from her chamber, as if it were in flames, and accommodated with a bed at the Sol’s Arms. The Sol neither turns off its gas nor shuts its door, all night; for any kind of public excitement makes good for the Sol, and causes the court to stand in need of comfort. The house has not done so much in the stomachic article of cloves, or in brandy and water warm, since the Inquest. The moment the potboy heard what had happened, he rolled up his shirt-sleeves tight to his shoulders, and said, “There’ll be a run upon us!” In the first outcry, Young Piper dashed off for the fire-engines; and returned in triumph at a jolting gallop, perched up aloft on the Phœnix, and holding on to that fabulous creature with all his might, in the midst of helmets and torches. One helmet remains behind, after careful investigation of all chinks and crannies; and slowly paces up and down before the house, in company with one of the two policemen who have likewise been left in charge thereof. To this trio, everybody in the court, possessed of sixpence, has an insatiate desire to exhibit hospitality in a liquid form.

Mr Weevle and his friend Mr Guppy are within the bar at the Sol, and are worth anything to the Sol that the bar contains, if they will only stay there. “This is not a time,” says Mr Bogsby, ‘to haggle about money,’ though he looks something sharply after it, over the counter; “give your orders, you two gentlemen, and you’re welcome to whatever you put a name to.”

Thus entreated, the two gentlemen (Mr Weevle especially) put names to so many things, that in course of time they find it difficult to put a name to anything quite distinctly; though they still relate, to all new comers, some version of the night they have had of it, and of what they said, and what they thought, and what they saw. Meanwhile, one or other of the policemen often flits about the door, and pushing it open a little way at the full length of his arm, looks in from outer gloom. Not that he has any suspicions, but that he may as well know what they are up to, in there.

  By PanEris using Melati.

Previous chapter Back Home Email this Search Discuss Bookmark Next chapter/page
Copyright: All texts on Bibliomania are © Ltd, and may not be reproduced in any form without our written permission. See our FAQ for more details.