The Omnibus

The Omnibus

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All that follows was spoken in a small tavern, a stone’s throw from Cheapside, the day before I left London. It was spoken in a dull voice, across a greasy table-cloth, and amid an atmosphere so thick with the reek of cooking that one longed to change it for the torrid street again, to broil in an ampler furnace. Old Tom Pickford spoke it, who has been a clerk for fifty-two years in Tweedy’s East India warehouse, and in all that time has never been out of London, but when he takes a holiday spends it in hanging about Tweedy’s, and observing that unlovely place of business from the outside. The dust, if not the iron, of Tweedy’s has entered into his soul; and Tweedy’s young men know him as “the Mastodon.” He is a thin, bald septuagenarian, with sloping shoulders, and a habit of regarding the pavement when he walks, so that he seems to steer his way by instinct rather than sight. In general he keeps silence while eating his chop; and on this occasion there was something unnatural in his utterance, a divorce of manner between the speaker and his words, such as one would expect in a sibyl disclaiming under stress of the god. I fancied it had something to do with a black necktie that he wore instead of the blue bird’s-eye cravat familiar to Tweedy’s, and with his extraordinary conduct in refusing to-day the chop that the waiter brought, and limiting his lunch to cheese and lettuce.
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Product details

  • Electronic book text
  • United States
  • English
  • 0740827146
  • 9780740827143