London River by H M Tomlinson Page 1 of 129
I THE FORESHORE II A MIDNIGHT VOYAGE III A SHIPPING PARISH IV THE "HEART'S DESIRE" V THE MASTER VI THE SHIP-RUNNERS VII NOT IN THE ALMANAC VIII THE ILLUSION IX IN A COFFEE-SHOP X OFF-SHORE XI AN OLD LLOYD'S REGISTER
I. The Foreshore
It begins on the north side of the City, at Poverty Corner. It begins imperceptibly, and very likely is no more than what a native knows is there. It does not look like a foreshore. It looks like another of the byways of the capital. There is nothing to distinguish it from the rest of Fenchurch Street. You will not find it in the Directory, for its name is only a familiar bearing used by seamen among themselves.
If a wayfarer came upon it from the west, he might stop to light a pipe (as well there as anywhere) and pass on, guessing nothing of what it is and of its memories.
And why should he? London is built of such old shadows; and while we are here casting our own there is not much time to turn and question what they fall upon.
Yet if some unreasonable doubt, a suspicion that he was being watched, made a stranger hesitate at that corner, he might begin to feel that London there was as different from Bayswater and Clapham as though deep water intervened.
In a sense deep water does; and not only the sea, but legends of ships that have gone, and of the men who knew them, and traditions of a service older than anything Whitehall knows, though still as lively as enterprise itself, and as recent as the ships which moved on today's high water.
In a frame outside one of its shops hangs a photograph of a sailing ship. The portrait is so large and the beauty of the subject so evident that it might have been the cause of the stranger stopping there to fill his pipe.