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John Ingerfield and Other Stories

In Remembrance Of John Ingerfield And Of Anne, His
Wife
A STORY OF OLD LONDON, IN TWO CHAPTERS
CHAPTER I.
If you take the Underground Railway to Whitechapel Road (the East station), and from
there take one of the yellow tramcars that start from that point, and go down the
Commercial Road, past the George, in front of which starts--or used to stand--a high
flagstaff, at the base of which sits--or used to sit--an elderly female purveyor of pigs'
trotters at three-ha'pence apiece, until you come to where a railway arch crosses the road
obliquely, and there get down and turn to the right up a narrow, noisy street leading to the
river, and then to the right again up a still narrower street, which you may know by its
having a public-house at one corner (as is in the nature of things) and a marine store-
dealer's at the other, outside which strangely stiff and unaccommodating garments of
gigantic size flutter ghost-like in the wind, you will come to a dingy railed-in churchyard,
surrounded on all sides by cheerless, many-peopled houses. Sad-looking little old houses
they are, in spite of the tumult of life about their ever open doors. They and the ancient
church in their midst seem weary of the ceaseless jangle around them. Perhaps, standing
there for so many years, listening to the long silence of the dead, the fretful voices of the
living sound foolish in their ears.
Peering through the railings on the side nearest the river, you will see beneath the shadow
of the soot-grimed church's soot-grimed porch- -that is, if the sun happen, by rare chance,
to be strong enough to cast any shadow at all in that region of grey light--a curiously high
and narrow headstone that once was white and straight, not tottering and bent with age as
it is now. There is upon this stone a carving in bas-relief, as you will see for yourself if
you will make your way to it through the gateway on the opposite side of the square. It
represents, so far as can be made out, for it is much worn by time and dirt, a figure lying
on the ground with another figure bending over it, while at a little distance stands a third
object. But this last is so indistinct that it might be almost anything, from an angel to a
post.
And below the carving are the words (already half obliterated) that I have used for the
title of this story.
Should you ever wander of a Sunday morning within sound of the cracked bell that calls
a few habit-bound, old-fashioned folk to worship within those damp-stained walls, and
drop into talk with the old men who on such days sometimes sit, each in his brass-
buttoned long brown coat, upon the low stone coping underneath those broken railings,
you might hear this tale from them, as I did, more years ago than I care to recollect.
 
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