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They travelled down all the way there in a hansom, much to the maidens' delight; and it was pleasant to see how demurely they sat up, one each side of Great-heart. But their busy little tongues were at work all the way with never-ending inquiry, their bright eyes everywhere noting the varying sights and changes as they sped swiftly onwards under the care of their mentor and the gay west-end cabman who drove them. Many glanced at that vehicle and noted the childish faces aglow with excitement and happiness. Many gazed at, and often saluted, the man who sat calmly between the children. They wondered to see the erst stern and melancholy Great-heart thus unbending under the sweet influence of childhood.
They had not, purposely, started off until rather late, for then they were to better catch the streets and people, both east and west, astir in all their restless life of noontide. And so they did. For they met that same persistent stream of horse and carriage folk on its way to ride or drive under the leafy trees as it had done yesterday and many days before, as it would until the signal came for its annual flight to or country. They made acquaintance with the rougher traffic of omnibus, cab, and cart, all laden with freights of business or of pleasure, all hastening somewhere—east, west,
north, or south. They got blocked up with vans and drays, apparently in hopeless entanglement, and had to listen to much coarse bandying of words, which happily the guileless minds of the children did not grasp. They waited at crossings, one of a long file, to make way for the passing over of a stream of humanity-old and young, rich and poor, feeble and active, slovens, dandies: Sometimes they rattled over the rough stones, which jolted the poor little frames about and made speech or hearing a matter of difficulty ; then glided suddenly and in delightful contrast over smooth wood or asphalte. Once or twice they pulled up so hastily as nearly to send the maidens flying out before they wanted, and not in quite decorous fashion either. This was generally when their reckless Jehu either narrowly escaped taking the life of some tardy urchin in the roadway, or when he cleverly avoided impalement from some projecting pole of omnibus or waggon. Alone, and under other conditions, Misses Trixie and Dot might have been frightened at these adventures; but what feared they with that brave man sitting beside them?
Gradually the streets became if anything more crowded, and assumed a sombre, business-like appearance, not only in the traffic on the road, but in the crowds that hurried swiftly by upon the pavement. At times, it is true, a fine equipage would relieve the monotony of the one, or a figure clad differently from the rest, and sauntering leisurely, stand out in contrast to the other. But for the most part the aspect of affairs changed where they now were from gay to grave, seemed stamped with the more serious business of life. There was less of pleasure, more of earnest, hurried work visible on things and people. At length, after having passed over a long viaduct (which the little ones were told was a great improvement on the existing state of affairs previously as far as the traffic went), the cab came to apparently so hopeless a standstill under a great ugly black wall, that Great-heart thought it best to alight. So he communicated with the coachman through the flap at the top. That dexterous person managed to pull round amid a great deal of noise and confusion, stopping at last with a jerk, at the kerbstone. The swing doors were swung back, Great-heart jumped out, then Trixie, then Dot, into their guardian's
An urchin, who seemed to have shot up from out of the gutter, welcomed the party with smiling though dirty face, soliciting money for his politeness —why, the children could not comprehend, as beyond grinning and touching his hat the boy had done nothing. He did not, however, trouble them long, for the full-grown “cherub who sat up aloft,” with consummate art, flicked his whip at him and sent him off howling. But Great-heart, to console the boy for his disappointment, threw a small silver coin after him, which, promptly secured, banished all traces of sorrow, and led to a short gymnastic performance on the urchin's part, that was highly amusing. But the children were far too excited to bestow more than even a passing glance at this diverting episode, and were eager in their inquiries as to whether they were “quite in the city yet.” Their friend told them “right in the heart of it.” They looked round in bewilderment. The cabman was swiftly retreating down the street, urged on, no doubt, by the fear that there might be a "drawback” on the handsome sum he had received for his fares. But he need not have been uneasy, for Great-heart was generous to cabmen as he was alike to all and every one.
They were standing under the high blank wall and in comparative quiet. In front were rows of carts jammed in together (with their horses' heads done up in nosebags), all looking very much alike. They had lots of writing on them, mostly old and difficult to decipher, but all tending to the same purport,—that they were “carriers' carts” and “ delivered goods, and parcels, once, twice, thrice daily,” as the case might be, in all parts of the outlying suburbs of London. It appeared that this was a great meeting place for this class of conveyance, and that it was crowded now. It being dinner time, the drivers had gone off to the many cook-shops, or, alas! too many to public-houses near ; or were taking such meals al fresco out of newspapers, perched at the backs or on the tops of their respective vehicles, washing the solids down with draughts from battered pewter-pots out “on loan" for the purpose. Having surveyed this scene attentively, Great-heart turned the little ones round and bade them look up at the frowning building in whose shadow they stood. Not that there was much building truly ; it seemed all wall, and that of the description better known as “dead.” Dot mentioned this, and Great-heart said she had unconsciously hit upon a very apt simile, for the wall was but a reflection of the hearts of those behind it, who, if not dead in the flesh (though many he said were on the highroad to that) were nevertheless so as to all good feelings or consciences. For it appeared they stood looking up at the walls of Newgate, the great city prison. It was not a particularly cheerful spot to gaze at, and the children felt awed by its black unfriendliness. Nor were they surprised that the wizen little old woman, encamped at the north-eastern corner for the better display of her