Chapter 3

Grindley Junior drops into the Position of Publisher

Few are the ways of the West Central district that have changed less within the last half-century than Nevill’s Court, leading from Great New Street into Fetter Lane. Its north side still consists of the same quaint row of small low shops that stood there—doing perhaps a little brisker business—when George the Fourth was King; its southern side of the same three substantial houses each behind a strip of garden, pleasant by contrast with surrounding grimness, built long ago—some say before Queen Anne was dead.

Out of the largest of these, passing through the garden, then well cared for, came one sunny Sunday morning, some fifteen years before the commencement proper of this story, one Solomon Appleyard, pushing in front of him a perambulator. At the brick wall surmounted by wooden railings that divides the garden from the court, Solomon paused, hearing behind him the voice of Mrs. Appleyard speaking from the doorstep.

“If I don’t see you again until dinner-time, I’ll try and get on without you, understand. Don’t think of nothing but your pipe and forget the child. And be careful of the crossings.”

Mrs. Appleyard retired into the darkness. Solomon, steering the perambulator carefully, emerged from Nevill’s Court without accident. The quiet streets drew Solomon westward. A vacant seat beneath the shade overlooking the Long Water in Kensington Gardens invited to rest.

“Piper?” suggested a small boy to Solomon. “Sunday Times, ’Server?

“My boy,” said Mr. Appleyard, speaking slowly, “when you’ve been mewed up with newspapers eighteen hours a day for six days a week, you can do without ’em for a morning. Take ’em away. I want to forget the smell of ’em.”

Solomon, having assured himself that the party in the perambulator was still breathing, crossed his legs and lit his pipe.


The exclamation had been wrung from Solomon Appleyard by the approach of a stout, short man clad in a remarkably ill-fitting broad-cloth suit.

“What, Sol, my boy?”

“It looked like you,” said Solomon. “And then I said to myself: ‘No; surely it can’t be Hezekiah; he’ll be at chapel.’ ”

“You run about,” said Hezekiah, addressing a youth of some four summers he had been leading by the hand. “Don’t you go out of my sight; and whatever you do, don’t you do injury to those new clothes of yours, or you’ll wish you’d never been put into them. The truth is,” continued Hezekiah to his friend, his sole surviving son and heir being out of earshot, “the morning tempted me. ’Tain’t often I get a bit of fresh air.”

“Doing well?”

“The business,” replied Hezekiah, “is going up by leaps and bounds—leaps and bounds. But, of course, all that means harder work for me. It’s from six in the morning till twelve o’clock at night.”

“There’s nothing I know of,” returned Solomon, who was something of a pessimist, “that’s given away free gratis for nothing except misfortune.”

  By PanEris using Melati.

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