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Quinion to the London coach at Yarmouth! See, how our house and
church are lessening in the distance; how the grave beneath the
tree is blotted out by intervening objects; how the spire points
upwards from my old playground no more, and the sky is empty!


I know enough of the world now, to have almost lost the capacity of
being much surprised by anything; but it is matter of some surprise
to me, even now, that I can have been so easily thrown away at such
an age. A child of excellent abilities, and with strong powers of
observation, quick, eager, delicate, and soon hurt bodily or
mentally, it seems wonderful to me that nobody should have made any
sign in my behalf. But none was made; and I became, at ten years
old, a little labouring hind in the service of Murdstone and

Murdstone and Grinby's warehouse was at the waterside. It was down
in Blackfriars. Modern improvements have altered the place; but it
was the last house at the bottom of a narrow street, curving down
hill to the river, with some stairs at the end, where people took
boat. It was a crazy old house with a wharf of its own, abutting
on the water when the tide was in, and on the mud when the tide was
out, and literally overrun with rats. Its panelled rooms,
discoloured with the dirt and smoke of a hundred years, I dare say;
its decaying floors and staircase; the squeaking and scuffling of
the old grey rats down in the cellars; and the dirt and rottenness
of the place; are things, not of many years ago, in my mind, but of
the present instant. They are all before me, just as they were in
the evil hour when I went among them for the first time, with my
trembling hand in Mr. Quinion's.

Murdstone and Grinby's trade was among a good many kinds of people,
but an important branch of it was the supply of wines and spirits
to certain packet ships. I forget now where they chiefly went, but
I think there were some among them that made voyages both to the
East and West Indies. I know that a great many empty bottles were
one of the consequences of this traffic, and that certain men and
boys were employed to examine them against the light, and reject
those that were flawed, and to rinse and wash them. When the empty
bottles ran short, there were labels to be pasted on full ones, or
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