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I could not lose by my venture, I thought, too, that it would receive at least justice at the hands of those whose business it was to peruse and send forth their impressions to the world through their journals. Think, I was so weak and foolish as that ! You see I imagined that a great responsibility rested with those who wrote thus, and that finding something which pointed after good in a book, however modest in appearance that work might be, it was their duty to recommend it to the public, who by its purchase could alone ensure some slight return to the author. Perhaps you will hardly believe me, but those who did not ignore the existence of it altogether, fastened thereon like vampires and held it up to ridicule, found out all its weak points, none of its good. No; if I had had the wisdom and could have written something to suit the public taste,' or drawled out some highly-spiced tale, that brought naught else in its wake but a passing excitement or an unhealthy desire for more, then I might have succeeded. But I neither could nor would do that. This is how I formed my acquaintance with literature, little Dot. This is why I stand here sad and thoughtful, fearing lest these others, hurrying along this passage, go to meet the fate that I did.”
"But you tried again, Great-heart?”
The man started at the query, and with an odd smile, replied,
“ Is it likely ? What would anyone do under such a reverse as that ?
Well, anyone other than you would probably have given way and written no more. But when the first bitter pangs of disappointment were over you did, unless my instinct much belie me," was the child's quiet rejoinder.
Great-heart was much amazed at little Dot's discernment. He did not answer until she pressed him with the question,—“Was it not so ?”
He could only say,—“ Yes, I tried once more.” “The result ?" “ Success that time.” The child breathed a happy sigh. "And is it not so always, dear?” “Not always.
Sometimes it comes not ever, and may not to those we see around Unless they are strong let them give up at once, ere they begin the fight and are worsted in it. Come, darling, Trixie awaits us."
That young damsel, having finished her study of primeval man, was standing flushed and impatient at the entrance, wondering what on earth her guide and sister could find to talk about so earnestly.
The street they had been looking on to, and now proceeded to traverse, was composed almost entirely of shops of one sort or another, crowded over at the top by hundreds of offices or warehouses. Innumerable courts and alleys led out from either side. Here, the children were told, were more wholesale places of business, though not so many retail. The chief characteristic on the southern side appeared to be the unusual number of jewellers' shops. Nearly every other house for some distance had one in it. On the other side the trades seemed of a more varied character. There was, however, one very pleasant break at the corner of a lane,quite a fresh-looking tree with rooks' nests in it. Great-heart told the little ones that the place where that tree stood was worth thousands of pounds in a spot where land was of fabulous value, being bought and sold almost by the square inch. This astonished his listeners greatly. They thought it extremely kind of the owner of that property to thus let a suggestion of country gladden the eyes of the busy toilers that passed by.
Soon they came to a fine old church, which stood in a yard, hemmed in by business people. This place had a peal of bells, and there was a curious fact belonging thereto. It was this : That all who were born within the sound of them were christened by one name, which clung to them all their lives, they were called “Cockneys.” A little further off an enterprising clockmaker had a very fine establishment all over clocks, which told the time at different places in Europe. Also some funny old iron men, with very little clothing on but wings, who struck bells with hammers at every quarter of an hour throughout the day, more particularly at the fourth quarter, when they became quite merry and played a tune. This attracted lots of people to the opposite side of the road, of course Trixie and Dot amongst the number ; much to the annoyance of those in a hurry, who could not get along for the crowd and disliked these old men exceedingly.
Great-heart was of opinion that although no doubt this watchmaker found these symbols of his trade a good adyertisement, they were nevertheless a great nuisance to ordinary business people. He thought few streets in London were wide enough to allow of such eccentric displays as these ; most assuredly not this one so overcrowded already. He told the children to note this, which they did accordingly. Presently they entered
another very narrow thoroughfare, a continuation of the one they had left; the din and bustle there was quite awful. Then they were nearly in front of the residence of the great city magnate, who reigned for one year only, unless he turned out to be an unusually good one, when he sometimes got re-elected for another. Of course he was very rich indeed, and gave most sumptuous banquets to everybody of note; very often to people who were not at all so, as well. If he had a wife, she and the family came and lived with him in that uninviting edifice, his spouse doing the honours ; if not, his eldest daughter did them. He was evidently a very precious being, or a very nervous one, for he never rode down the street without two friends to guard him, one with a mace,
-a sort of gilt bludgeon,—the other with a long sword, both weapons held out of window. There were some curious characteristics attaching to these rulers over the city, the chief being, and one which they all shared in common, an inordinate longing after a Baronetcy. They were not content with a Knighthood only.
Great-heart said if they got what they wanted, when their reign was over, and their star gone out, they went into retirement cheerful and happy; but failing the accomplishment of their hearts' desires, grew quite low-spirited, drooped, and often died. Oddly enough, although so grand, many of the great West End people looked down on and quite snubbed some of these magnates, which the children thought very bad taste indeed.
Great-heart bade his little charges stop now and