On this certain fine Sunday, Mr. Lorry walked towards Soho, early inthe afternoon, for three reasons of habit. Firstly, because, on fineSundays, he often walked out, before dinner, with the Doctor andLucie; secondly, because, on unfavourable Sundays, he was accustomedto be with them as the family friend, talking, reading, looking out ofwindow, and generally getting through the day; thirdly, because behappened to have his own little shrewd doubts to solve, and knew howthe ways of the Doctor's household pointed to that time as a likelytime for solving them.
A quainter corner than the corner where the Doctor lived, was not tobe found in London. There was no way through it, and the front windowsof the Doctor's lodgings commanded a pleasant little vista of streetthat had a congenial air of retirement on it. There were few buildingsthen, north of the Oxford-road, and forest-trees flourished, andwild flowers grew, and the hawthorn blossomed, in the now vanishedfields. As a consequence, country airs circulated in Soho withvigorous freedom, instead of languishing into the parish like straypaupers without a settlement; and there was many a good south wall,not far off, on which the peaches ripened in their season.
The summer light struck into the corner brilliantly in the earlierpart of the day; but, when the streets grew hot, the corner was inshadow, though not in shadow so remote but that you could see beyondit into a glare of brightness. It was a cool spot, staid but cheerful,a wonderful place for echoes, and a very harbour from the ragingstreets.
There ought to have been a tranquil bark in such an anchorage, andthere was. The Doctor occupied two floors of a large still house,where several callings purported to be pursued by day, but whereoflittle was audible any day, and which was shunned by all of them atnight.
In a building at the back, attainable by a courtyard where aplane-tree rustled its green leaves, church-organs claimed to be made,and silver to be chased, and likewise gold to be beaten by somemysterious giant who had a golden arm starting out of the wall ofthe front hall- as if he had beaten himself precious, and menaced asimilar conversion of all visitors. Very little of these trades, or ofa lonely lodger rumoured to live up-stairs, or of a dim coach-trimmingmaker asserted to have a counting-house below, was ever heard or seen.Occasionally, a stray workman putting his coat on, traversed the hall,or a stranger peered about there, or a distant clink was heardacross the courtyard, or a thump from the golden giant. These,however, were only the exceptions required to prove the rule thatthe sparrows in the plane-tree behind the house, had their own way from Sunday morning untoSaturday night.