Henry Craik, ed. English Prose. 1916. Vol. V. Nineteenth Century
The Very Queer Small Boy
By Charles Dickens (18121870)
From The Uncommercial Traveller
I GOT into the travelling chariotit was of German make, roomy, heavy, and unvarnishedI got into the travelling chariot, pulled up the steps after me, shut myself in with a smart bang of the door, and gave the word, Go on!
Immediately, all that W. and S.W. division of London began to slide away at a pace so lively, that I was over the river, and past the Old Kent Road, and out on Blackheath, and even ascending Shooters Hill, before I had had time to look about me in the carriage, like a collected traveller.
I had two ample Imperials on the roof, other fitted storage for luggage in front, and other up behind; I had a net for books overhead, great pockets to all the windows, a leathern pouch or two hung up for odds and ends, and a reading lamp fixed in the back of the chariot, in case I should be benighted. I was amply provided in all respects, and had no idea where I was going (which was delightful), except that I was going abroad.
So smooth was the old high road, and so fresh were the horses, and so fast went I, that it was midway between Gravesend and Rochester, and the widening river was bearing the ships, white sailed or black-smoked, out to sea, when I noticed by the wayside a very queer small boy.
Bless you, sir, said the very queer small boy, when I was not more than half as old as nine, it used to be a treat for me to be brought to look at it. And now, I am nine, I come by myself to look at it. And ever since I can recollect, my father, seeing me so fond of it, has often said to me, If you were to be very persevering and were to work hard, you might some day come to live in it. Though thats impossible! said the very queer small boy, drawing a low breath, and now staring at the house out of window with all his might.