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Title: The Posthumous Papers of the Pickwick Club, v. 2(of 2)
Author: Dickens, Charles
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "The Posthumous Papers of the Pickwick Club, v. 2(of 2)" ***

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produced from images generously made available by The
Internet Archive/American Libraries. Frontispiece and
Insert provided from the collection of Culver-Stockton
College, Canton, Mo.)



  THE POSTHUMOUS PAPERS OF
  THE PICKWICK CLUB



  [Illustration: "_Gentlemen, what does this mean? 'Chops and Tomato
  sauce. Yours, Pickwick.'_"]



  THE POSTHUMOUS PAPERS
  OF THE
  PICKWICK CLUB

  BY
  CHARLES DICKENS

  ILLUSTRATED BY
  CECIL ALDIN

  VOLUME THE SECOND

  [Illustration]

  NEW YORK
  E. P. DUTTON & COMPANY
  31 West Twenty-Third Street



CONTENTS


                 CHAPTER I                                  PAGE
  +The Story of the Goblins who Stole a Sexton+                1

                 CHAPTER II
  +How the Pickwickians made and cultivated the
    Acquaintance of a couple of Nice Young Men belonging
    to one of the Liberal Professions; how they Disported
    themselves on the Ice; and how their First Visit came
    to a Conclusion+                                          12

                 CHAPTER III
  +Which is all about the Law, and sundry great Authorities
    learned therein+                                          26

                 CHAPTER IV
  +Describes, far more fully than the Court Newsman ever
    did, a Bachelor's Party, given by Mr. Bob Sawyer at his
    Lodgings in the Borough+                                  43

                 CHAPTER V
  +Mr. Weller the Elder delivers some Critical Sentiments
    respecting Literary Composition; and, assisted by his
    son Samuel, pays a small Instalment of Retaliation to
    the Account of the Reverend Gentleman with the Red
    Nose+                                                     59

                 CHAPTER VI
  +Is wholly devoted to a Full and Faithful Report of the
    Memorable Trial of Bardell against Pickwick+              78

                 CHAPTER VII
  +In which Mr. Pickwick thinks he had better go to Bath;
    and goes accordingly+                                    105

                 CHAPTER VIII
  +The Chief Features of which, will be found to be an
    Authentic Version of the Legend of Prince Bladud, and
    a most extraordinary Calamity that befell Mr. Winkle+    123

                 CHAPTER IX
  +Honourably accounts for Mr. Weller's Absence, by
    describing a Soiree to which he was Invited and went;
    also relates how he was entrusted by Mr. Pickwick with
    a Private Mission of Delicacy and Importance+            136

                 CHAPTER X
  +How Mr. Winkle, when he stepped out of the Frying-pan,
    walked gently and comfortably into the Fire+             151

                 CHAPTER XI
  +Mr. Samuel Weller, being entrusted with a Mission of
    Love, proceeds to Execute it; with what Success will
    hereinafter appear+                                      167

                 CHAPTER XII
  +Introduces Mr. Pickwick to a New and not uninteresting
    Scene in the great Drama of Life+                        184

                 CHAPTER XIII
  +What befell Mr. Pickwick when he got into the Fleet;
    what Prisoners he Saw there; and how he Passed the
    Night+                                                   199

                 CHAPTER XIV
  +Illustrative, like the preceding one, of the old
    Proverb, That Adversity brings a Man acquainted with
    Strange Bed-fellows. Likewise containing Mr. Pickwick's
    extraordinary and startling Announcement to Mr. Samuel
    Weller+                                                  214

                 CHAPTER XV
  +Showing how Mr. Samuel Weller got into Difficulties+      230

                 CHAPTER XVI
  +Treats of divers little Matters which occurred in the
    Fleet, and of Mr. Winkle's Mysterious Behaviour; and
    shows how the poor Chancery Prisoner obtained his
    Release at last+                                         246

                 CHAPTER XVII
  +Descriptive of an Affecting Interview between Mr. Samuel
    Weller and a Family Party. Mr. Pickwick makes a Tour of
    the Diminutive World he inhabits, and resolves to mix
    with it, in future, as little as possible+               261

                 CHAPTER XVIII
  +Records a touching Act of delicate Feeling, not unmixed
    With Pleasantry, achieved and performed by Messrs.
    Dodson and Fogg+                                         280

                 CHAPTER XIX
  +Is chiefly devoted to Matters of Business, and the
    Temporal Advantage of Dodson and Fogg. Mr. Winkle
    reappears under Extraordinary Circumstances. Mr.
    Pickwick's Benevolence proves stronger than his
    Obstinacy+                                               292

                 CHAPTER XX
  +Relates how Mr. Pickwick, with the assistance of Samuel
    Weller, essayed to soften the Heart of Mr. Benjamin
    Allen, and to mollify the Wrath of Mr. Robert Sawyer+    305

                 CHAPTER XXI
  +Containing the Story of the Bagman's Uncle+               320

                 CHAPTER XXII
  +How Mr. Pickwick sped upon his Mission, and how he
    was Reinforced in the Outset by a most unexpected
    Auxiliary+                                               340

                 CHAPTER XXIII
  +In which Mr. Pickwick encounters an old Acquaintance,
    to which fortunate Circumstance the Reader is mainly
    indebted for Matter of thrilling Interest herein set
    down, concerning two great Public Men of Might and
    Power+                                                   357

                 CHAPTER XXIV
  +Involving a serious Change in the Weller Family, and the
    untimely Downfall of the Red-nosed Mr. Stiggins+         374

                 CHAPTER XXV
  +Comprising the final Exit of Mr. Jingle and Job Trotter;
    with a great Morning of Business in Gray's Inn Square.
    Concluding with a Double Knock at Mr. Perker's Door+     387

                 CHAPTER XXVI
  +Containing some Particulars relative to the Double
    Knock, and other Matters: among which certain
    Interesting Disclosures relative to Mr. Snodgrass and a
    Young Lady are by no means irrelevant to this History+   402

                 CHAPTER XXVII
  +Mr. Solomon Pell, assisted by a Select Committee of
    Coachmen, arranges the Affairs of the Elder Mr. Weller+  420

                 CHAPTER XXVIII
  +An important Conference takes place between Mr. Pickwick
    and Samuel Weller, at which his Parent assists.
    An old Gentleman in a Snuff-coloured Suit arrives
    unexpectedly+                                            434

                 CHAPTER XXIX
  +In which the Pickwick Club is finally Dissolved, and
    Everything Concluded to the Satisfaction of Everybody+   449



ILLUSTRATIONS

IN COLOUR


  _"Gentlemen, what does this mean? 'Chops and Tomato
    sauce. Yours, Pickwick'"_                           _Frontispiece_

  _A face, head, and shoulders, emerged from beneath the
    water, and disclosed the features and spectacles of Mr.
    Pickwick_                                         _Facing page_ 22

  _"A what!" asked Mr. Weller, apparently horror-stricken
    by the word. "A Walentine," replied Sam_                 "      64

  _Mr. Winkle took to his heels and tore round the
    Crescent_                                                "     134

  _And here, to the great horror of Mr. John Smauker, Sam
    Weller began to whistle_                                 "     138

  _"Lor', do adun, Mr. Weller!"_                             "     170

  _The cavalcade gave three tremendous cheers_               "     244

  _"I drove the old piebald"_                                "     264

  _He felled Mr. Benjamin Allen to the ground_               "     310

  _It was a beautiful and exhilarating sight to see the
    red-nosed man writhing in Mr. Weller's grasp_            "     386

  _The admiration of numerous elderly ladies of single
    condition_                                               "     454


IN TEXT

                                                                  PAGE
  _Heading to Chapter I_                                             1

  _Heading to Chapter II_                                           12

  _"Now then, sir," said Sam, "off vith you, and show 'em
    how to do it"_                                                  18

  _Went slowly and gravely down the slide_                          21

  _Heading to Chapter III_                                          26

  _Heading to Chapter IV_                                           43

  _"If you'll have the kindness to settle that little bill
    of mine I'll thank you"_                                        46

  _Heading to Chapter V_                                            59

  _"Is there anybody here, named Sam?"_                             60

  _Heading to Chapter VI_                                           78

  _Heading to Chapter VII_                                         105

  _"Do you do anything in this way, sir?" inquired the tall
    footman_                                                       117

  _Heading to Chapter VIII_                                        123

  _Heading to Chapter IX_                                          136

  _Heading to Chapter X_                                           151

  _"You've been stopping to over all the posts in Bristol"_        156

  _Heading to Chapter XI_                                          167

  _Heading to Chapter XII_                                         184

  _"Take your hat off"_                                            187

  _Heading to Chapter XIII_                                        199

  _"Come on--both of you"_                                         209

  _Heading to Chapter XIV_                                         214

  _Heading to Chapter XV_                                          230

  _After a violent struggle, released his head and face_           236

  _Heading to Chapter XVI_                                         246

  _Heading to Chapter XVII_                                        261

  _Heading to Chapter XVIII_                                       280

  _A shabby man in black leggings_                                 287

  _Heading to Chapter XIX_                                         292

  _Heading to Chapter XX_                                          305

  _Heading to Chapter XXI_                                         320

  _"My uncle gave a loud stamp on the boot in the energy of
    the moment"_                                                   338

  _Heading to Chapter XXII_                                        340

  _Mr. Winkle senior_                                              352

  _Heading to Chapter XXIII_                                       357

  _Heading to Chapter XXIV_                                        374

  _Heading to Chapter XXV_                                         387

  _Heading to Chapter XXVI_                                        402

  _His jolly red face shining with smiles and health_              404

  _Pointed with his thumb over his shoulder_                       416

  _Heading to Chapter XXVII_                                       420

  _A cold collation of an Abernethy biscuit and a saveloy_         423

  _Heading to Chapter XXVIII_                                      434

  _A little old gentleman in a suit of snuff-coloured
    clothes_                                                       444

  _Dismissed him with a harmless but ceremonious kick_             448

  _Heading to Chapter XXIX_                                        449

  _"The happiness of young people," said Mr. Pickwick, a
    little moved, "has ever been the chief pleasure of my
    life"_                                                         451

  _Exchanged his old costume for the ordinary dress of
    Englishmen_                                                    455

  _Tailpiece to Chapter XXIX_                                      457



CHAPTER I

  _The Story of the Goblins who stole a Sexton_


[Illustration]

"In an old abbey town, down in this part of the country, a long, long
while ago--so long, that the story must be a true one, because our
great-grandfathers implicitly believed it--there officiated as sexton
and grave-digger in the churchyard, one Gabriel Grub. It by no means
follows that because a man is a sexton, and constantly surrounded
by the emblems of mortality, therefore he should be a morose and
melancholy man; your undertakers are the merriest fellows in the world;
and I once had the honour of being on intimate terms with a mute, who
in private life, and off duty, was as comical and jocose a little
fellow as ever chirped out a devil-may-care song, without a hitch in
his memory, or drained off the contents of a good stiff glass without
stopping for breath. But, notwithstanding these precedents to the
contrary, Gabriel Grub was an ill-conditioned, cross-grained, surly
fellow--a morose and lonely man, who consorted with nobody but himself,
and an old wicker bottle which fitted into his large deep waistcoat
pocket--and who eyed each merry face, as it passed him by, with such
a deep scowl of malice and ill-humour, as it was difficult to meet,
without feeling something the worse for.

"A little before twilight, one Christmas Eve, Gabriel shouldered
his spade, lighted his lantern, and betook himself towards the old
churchyard; for he had got a grave to finish by next morning, and,
feeling very low, he thought it might raise his spirits, perhaps, if
he went on with his work at once. As he went his way, up the ancient
street, he saw the cheerful light of blazing fires gleam through
the old casements, and heard the loud laugh and the cheerful shouts
of those who were assembled around them; he marked the bustling
preparations for next day's cheer, and smelt the numerous savoury
odours consequent thereupon, as they steamed up from the kitchen
windows in clouds. All this was gall and wormwood to the heart of
Gabriel Grub: and when groups of children bounded out of the houses,
tripped across the road, and were met, before they could knock at the
opposite door, by half a dozen curly-headed little rascals who crowded
round them as they flocked up-stairs to spend the evening in their
Christmas games, Gabriel smiled grimly, and clutched the handle of his
spade with a firmer grasp, as he thought of measles, scarlet-fever,
thrush, hooping-cough, and a good many other sources of consolation
besides.

"In this happy frame of mind, Gabriel strode along: returning a short,
sullen growl to the good-humoured greetings of such of his neighbours
as now and then passed him: until he turned into the dark lane which
led to the churchyard. Now, Gabriel had been looking forward to
reaching the dark lane, because it was, generally speaking, a nice,
gloomy, mournful place, into which the townspeople did not much
care to go, except in broad daylight, and when the sun was shining;
consequently, he was not a little indignant to hear a young urchin
roaring out some jolly song about a merry Christmas, in this very
sanctuary, which had been called Coffin Lane ever since the days of the
old abbey, and the time of the shaven-headed monks. As Gabriel walked
on, and the voice drew nearer, he found it proceeded from a small boy,
who was hurrying along, to join one of the little parties in the old
street, and who, partly to keep himself company, and partly to prepare
himself for the occasion, was shouting out the song at the highest
pitch of his lungs. So Gabriel waited until the boy came up, and then
dodged him into a corner, and rapped him over the head with his lantern
five or six times, to teach him to modulate his voice. And as the boy
hurried away with his hand to his head, singing quite a different sort
of tune, Gabriel Grub chuckled very heartily to himself, and entered
the churchyard: locking the gate behind him.

"He took off his coat, put down his lantern, and getting into the
unfinished grave, worked at it for an hour or so, with right good
will. But the earth was hardened with the frost, and it was no very
easy matter to break it up, and shovel it out; and although there
was a moon, it was a very young one, and shed little light upon the
grave, which was in the shadow of the church. At any other time, these
obstacles would have made Gabriel Grub very moody and miserable, but
he was so well pleased with having stopped the small boy's singing,
that he took little heed of the scanty progress he had made, and looked
down into the grave, when he had finished work for the night, with grim
satisfaction: murmuring as he gathered up his things:

   'Brave lodgings for one, brave lodgings for one,
    A few feet of cold earth, when life is done;
    A stone at the head, a stone at the feet,
    A rich, juicy meal for the worms to eat;
    Rank grass over head, and damp clay around,
    Brave lodgings for one, these, in holy ground!'

"'Ho! ho!' laughed Gabriel Grub, as he sat himself down on a flat
tombstone which was a favourite resting-place of his; and drew forth
his wicker bottle. 'A coffin at Christmas! A Christmas Box. Ho! ho! ho!'

"'Ho! ho! ho!' repeated a voice which sounded close behind him.

"Gabriel paused, in some alarm, in the act of raising the wicker bottle
to his lips: and looked round. The bottom of the oldest grave about him
was not more still and quiet than the churchyard in the pale moonlight.
The cold hoar-frost glistened on the tombstones, and sparkled like rows
of gems, among the stone carvings of the old church. The snow lay hard
and crisp upon the ground; and spread over the thickly-strewn mounds of
earth, so white and smooth a cover, that it seemed as if corpses lay
there, hidden only by their winding-sheets. Not the faintest rustle
broke the profound tranquillity of the solemn scene. Sound itself
appeared to be frozen up, all was so cold and still.

"'It was the echoes,' said Gabriel Grub, raising the bottle to his lips
again.

"'It was _not_,' said a deep voice.

"Gabriel started up, and stood rooted to the spot with astonishment and
terror; for his eyes rested on a form that made his blood run cold.

"Seated on an upright tombstone, close to him, was a strange unearthly
figure, whom Gabriel felt at once, was no being of this world. His long
fantastic legs, which might have reached the ground, were cocked up,
and crossed after a quaint, fantastic fashion; his sinewy arms were
bare; and his hands rested on his knees. On his short round body, he
wore a close covering, ornamented with small slashes; a short cloak
dangled at his back; the collar was cut into curious peaks, which
served the goblin in lieu of ruff or neckerchief; and his shoes curled
up at his toes into long points. On his head he wore a broad-brimmed
sugar-loaf hat, garnished with a single feather. The hat was covered
with the white frost; and the goblin looked as if he had sat on the
same tombstone, very comfortably, for two or three hundred years. He
was sitting perfectly still; his tongue was put out, as if in derision;
and he was grinning at Gabriel Grub with such a grin as only a goblin
could call up.

"'It was _not_ the echoes,' said the goblin.

"Gabriel Grub was paralysed, and could make no reply.

"'What do you do here on Christmas Eve?' said the goblin, sternly.

"'I came to dig a grave, sir,' stammered Gabriel Grub.

"'What man wanders among graves and churchyards on such a night as
this?' cried the goblin.

"'Gabriel Grub! Gabriel Grub!' screamed a wild chorus of voices that
seemed to fill the churchyard. Gabriel looked fearfully round--nothing
was to be seen.

"'What have you got in that bottle?' said the goblin.

"'Hollands, sir,' replied the sexton, trembling more than ever; for
he had bought it of the smugglers, and he thought that perhaps his
questioner might be in the excise department of the goblins.

"'Who drinks Hollands alone, and in the churchyard, on such a night as
this?' said the goblin.

"'Gabriel Grub! Gabriel Grub!' exclaimed the wild voices again.

"The goblin leered maliciously at the terrified sexton, and then
raising his voice exclaimed:

"'And who, then, is our fair and lawful prize?'

"To this inquiry the invisible chorus replied, in a strain that sounded
like the voices of many choristers singing to the mighty swell of the
old church organ--a strain that seemed borne to the sexton's ears upon
a wild wind, and to die away as it passed onward; but the burden of the
reply was still the same, 'Gabriel Grub! Gabriel Grub!'

"The goblin grinned a broader grin than before, as he said, 'Well,
Gabriel, what do you say to this?'

"The sexton gasped for breath.

"'What do you think of this, Gabriel?' said the goblin, kicking up
his feet in the air on either side of the tombstone, and looking
at the turned-up points with as much complacency as if he had been
contemplating the most fashionable pair of Wellingtons in all Bond
Street.

"'It's--it's--very curious, sir,' replied the sexton, half dead with
fright; 'very curious, and very pretty, but I think I'll go back and
finish my work, sir, if you please.'

"'Work!' said the goblin, 'what work?'

"'The grave, sir; making the grave,' stammered the sexton.

"'Oh, the grave, eh?' said the goblin; 'who makes graves at a time when
all other men are merry, and takes a pleasure in it?'

"Again the mysterious voices replied, 'Gabriel Grub! Gabriel Grub!'

"'I'm afraid my friends want you, Gabriel,' said the goblin, thrusting
his tongue further into his cheek than ever--and a most astonishing
tongue it was--'I'm afraid my friends want you, Gabriel,' said the
goblin.

"'Under favour, sir,' replied the horror-stricken sexton, 'I don't
think they can, sir; they don't know me, sir; I don't think the
gentlemen have ever seen me, sir.'

"'Oh yes, they have,' replied the goblin; 'we know the man with the
sulky face and grim scowl, that came down the street to-night, throwing
his evil looks at the children, and grasping his burying-spade the
tighter. We know the man who struck the boy in the envious malice of
his heart, because the boy could be merry, and he could not. We know
him, we know him.'

"Here the goblin gave a loud shrill laugh, which the echoes returned
twenty-fold: and throwing his legs up in the air, stood upon his head,
or rather upon the very point of his sugar-loaf hat, on the narrow
edge of the tombstone: whence he threw a somerset with extraordinary
agility, right to the sexton's feet, at which he planted himself in the
attitude in which tailors generally sit upon the shop-board.

"'I--I--am afraid I must leave you, sir,' said the sexton, making an
effort to move.

"'Leave us!' said the goblin, 'Gabriel Grub going to leave us. Ho! ho!
ho!'

"As the goblin laughed, the sexton observed, for one instant, a
brilliant illumination within the windows of the church, as if the
whole building were lighted up; it disappeared, the organ pealed forth
a lively air, and whole troops of goblins, the very counterpart of the
first one, poured into the churchyard, and began playing at leap-frog
with the tombstones: never stopping for an instant to take breath, but
'overing' the highest among them, one after the other, with the utmost
marvellous dexterity. The first goblin was a most astonishing leaper,
and none of the others could come near him; even in the extremity of
his terror the sexton could not help observing, that while his friends
were content to leap over the common-sized gravestones, the first one
took the family vaults, iron railings and all, with as much ease as if
they had been so many street posts.

"At last the game reached to a most exciting pitch; the organ played
quicker and quicker; and the goblins leaped faster and faster: coiling
themselves up, rolling head over heels upon the ground, and bounding
over the tombstones like footballs. The sexton's brain whirled round
with the rapidity of the motion he beheld, and his legs reeled beneath
him, as the spirits flew before his eyes: when the goblin king,
suddenly darting towards him, laid his hand upon his collar, and sank
with him through the earth.

"When Gabriel Grub had had time to fetch his breath, which the rapidity
of his descent had for the moment taken away, he found himself in what
appeared to be a huge cavern, surrounded on all sides by crowds of
goblins, ugly and grim; in the centre of the room, on an elevated seat,
was stationed his friend of the churchyard; and close beside him stood
Gabriel Grub himself, without power of motion.

"'Cold to-night,' said the king of the goblins, 'very cold. A glass of
something warm, here!'

"At this command, half a dozen officious goblins, with a perpetual
smile upon their faces, whom Gabriel Grub imagined to be courtiers, on
that account, hastily disappeared, and presently returned with a goblet
of liquid fire, which they presented to the king.

"'Ah!' cried the goblin, whose cheeks and throat were transparent, as
he tossed down the flame, 'this warms one, indeed! Bring a bumper of
the same for Mr. Grub.'

"It was in vain for the unfortunate sexton to protest that he was not
in the habit of taking anything warm at night; one of the goblins held
him while another poured the blazing liquid down his throat; the whole
assembly screeched with laughter as he coughed and choked, and wiped
away the tears which gushed plentifully from his eyes, after swallowing
the burning draught.

"'And now,' said the king, fantastically poking the taper corner of his
sugar-loaf hat into the sexton's eye, and thereby occasioning him the
most exquisite pain: 'And now, show the man of misery and gloom, a few
of the pictures from our own great storehouse!'

"As the goblin said this, a thick cloud which obscured the remoter
end of the cavern rolled gradually away, and disclosed, apparently at
a great distance, a small and scantily furnished, but neat and clean
apartment. A crowd of little children were gathered round a bright
fire, clinging to their mother's gown, and gambolling around her chair.
The mother occasionally rose, and drew aside the window-curtain, as if
to look for some expected object; a frugal meal was ready spread upon
the table; and an elbow chair was placed near the fire. A knock was
heard at the door: the mother opened it, and the children crowded round
her, and clapped their hands for joy, as their father entered. He was
wet and weary, and shook the snow from his garments, as the children
crowded round him, and seizing his cloak, hat, stick, and gloves,
with busy zeal, ran with them from the room. Then, as he sat down to
his meal before the fire, the children climbed about his knee, and the
mother sat by his side, and all seemed happiness and comfort.

"But a change came upon the view, almost imperceptibly. The scene was
altered to a small bed-room, where the fairest and youngest child lay
dying; the roses had fled from his cheek, and the light from his eye;
and even as the sexton looked upon him with an interest he had never
felt or known before, he died. His young brothers and sisters crowded
round his little bed, and seized his tiny hand, so cold and heavy; but
they shrunk back from its touch, and looked with awe on his infant
face; for calm and tranquil as it was, and sleeping in rest and peace
as the beautiful child seemed to be, they saw that he was dead, and
they knew that he was an Angel looking down upon, and blessing them,
from a bright and happy Heaven.

"Again the light cloud passed across the picture, and again the subject
changed. The father and mother were old and helpless now, and the
number of those about them was diminished more than half; but content
and cheerfulness sat on every face, and beamed in every eye, as they
crowded round the fireside, and told and listened to old stories of
earlier and bygone days. Slowly and peacefully the father sank into
the grave, and, soon after, the sharer of all his cares and troubles
followed him to a place of rest. The few, who yet survived them, knelt
by their tomb, and watered the green turf which covered it, with their
tears; then rose, and turned away: sadly and mournfully, but not with
bitter cries, or despairing lamentations, for they knew that they
should one day meet again; and once more they mixed with the busy
world, and their content and cheerfulness were restored. The cloud
settled upon the picture, and concealed it from the sexton's view.

"'What do you think of _that_?' said the goblin, turning his large face
towards Gabriel Grub.

"Gabriel murmured out something about its being very pretty, and looked
somewhat ashamed, as the goblin bent his fiery eyes upon him.

"'_You_ a miserable man!' said the goblin, in a tone of excessive
contempt. 'You!' He appeared disposed to add more, but indignation
choked his utterance, so he lifted up one of his very pliable legs, and
flourishing it above his head a little, to insure his aim, administered
a good sound kick to Gabriel Grub; immediately after which, all the
goblins in waiting crowded round the wretched sexton, and kicked him
without mercy: according to the established and invariable custom of
courtiers upon earth, who kick whom royalty kicks, and hug whom royalty
hugs.

"'Show him some more!' said the king of the goblins.

"At these words, the cloud was dispelled, and a rich and beautiful
landscape was disclosed to view--there is just such another to this
day, within half a mile of the old abbey town. The sun shone from
out the clear blue sky, the water sparkled beneath his rays, and the
trees looked greener, and the flowers more gay, beneath his cheering
influence. The water rippled on, with a pleasant sound; the trees
rustled in the light wind that murmured among their leaves; the birds
sang upon the boughs; and the lark carolled on high, her welcome to the
morning. Yes, it was morning: the bright, balmy morning of summer; the
minutest leaf, the smallest blade of grass, was instinct with life.
The ant crept forth to her daily toil, the butterfly fluttered and
basked in the warm rays of the sun; myriads of insects spread their
transparent wings, and revelled in their brief but happy existence.
Man walked forth, elated with the scene; and all was brightness and
splendour.

"'_You_ a miserable man!' said the king of the goblins, in a more
contemptuous tone than before. And again the king of the goblins gave
his leg a flourish; again it descended on the shoulders of the sexton;
and again the attendant goblins imitated the example of their chief.

"Many a time the cloud went and came, and many a lesson it taught to
Gabriel Grub, who, although his shoulders smarted with pain from the
frequent applications of the goblins' feet, looked on with an interest
that nothing could diminish. He saw that men who worked hard, and
earned their scanty bread with lives of labour, were cheerful and
happy; and that to the most ignorant, the sweet face of nature was a
never-failing source of cheerfulness and joy. He saw those who had
been delicately nurtured, and tenderly brought up, cheerful under
privations, and superior to suffering, that would have crushed many
of a rougher grain, because they bore within their own bosoms the
materials of happiness, contentment, and peace. He saw that women, the
tenderest and most fragile of all God's creatures, were the oftenest
superior to sorrow, adversity, and distress; and he saw that it was
because they bore in their own hearts, an inexhaustible well-spring of
affection and devotion. Above all, he saw that men like himself, who
snarled at the mirth and cheerfulness of others, were the foulest weeds
on the fair face of the earth; and setting all the good of the world
against the evil, he came to the conclusion that it was a very decent
and respectable sort of world after all. No sooner had he formed it,
than the cloud which closed over the last picture, seemed to settle on
his senses, and lull him to repose. One by one the goblins faded from
his sight; and as the last one disappeared, he sunk to sleep.

"The day had broken when Gabriel Grub awoke, and found himself lying,
at full length, on the flat grave-stone in the churchyard with the
wicker bottle lying empty by his side, and his coat, spade, and
lantern, all well whitened by the last night's frost, scattered on
the ground. The stone on which he had first seen the goblin seated,
stood bolt upright before him, and the grave at which he had worked,
the night before, was not far off. At first, he began to doubt the
reality of his adventures, but the acute pain in his shoulders when
he attempted to rise, assured him that the kicking of the goblins was
certainly not ideal. He was staggered again, by observing no traces of
footsteps in the snow, on which the goblins had played at leap-frog
with the grave-stones, but he speedily accounted for this circumstance
when he remembered that, being spirits, they would leave no visible
impression behind them. So, Gabriel Grub got on his feet as well as he
could, for the pain in his back; and brushing the frost off his coat,
put it on, and turned his face towards the town.

"But he was an altered man, and he could not bear the thought of
returning to a place where his repentance would be scoffed at, and his
reformation disbelieved. He hesitated for a few moments; and then
turned away to wander where he might, and seek his bread elsewhere.

"The lantern, the spade, and the wicker bottle, were found, that day,
in the churchyard. There were a great many speculations about the
sexton's fate, at first, but it was speedily determined that he had
been carried away by the goblins; and there were not wanting some
very credible witnesses who had distinctly seen him whisked through
the air on the back of a chestnut horse blind of one eye, with the
hind-quarters of a lion, and the tail of a bear. At length all this was
devoutly believed; and the new sexton used to exhibit to the curious,
for a trifling emolument, a good-sized piece of the church weathercock
which had been accidentally kicked off by the aforesaid horse in his
aërial flight, and picked up by himself in the churchyard, a year or
two afterwards.

"Unfortunately, these stories were somewhat disturbed by the
unlooked-for reappearance of Gabriel Grub himself, some ten years
afterwards, a ragged, contented, rheumatic old man. He told his story
to the clergyman, and also to the mayor; and in course of time it began
to be received as a matter of history, in which form it has continued
down to this very day. The believers in the weathercock tale, having
misplaced their confidence once, were not easily prevailed upon to
part with it again, so they looked as wise as they could, shrugged
their shoulders, touched their foreheads, and murmured something about
Gabriel Grub having drunk all the Hollands, and then fallen asleep
on the flat tombstone; and they affected to explain what he supposed
he had witnessed in the goblins' cavern, by saying that he had seen
the world, and grown wiser. But this opinion, which was by no means a
popular one at any time, gradually died off; and be the matter how it
may, as Gabriel Grub was afflicted with rheumatism to the end of his
days, this story has at least one moral, if it teach no better one--and
that is, that if a man turn sulky and drink by himself at Christmas
time, he may make up his mind to be not a bit the better for it: let
the spirits be never so good, or let them be even as many degrees
beyond proof, as those which Gabriel Grub saw in the goblins' cavern."



CHAPTER II

[Illustration]

  _How the Pickwickians made and cultivated the Acquaintance of
    a couple of Nice Young Men belonging to one of the Liberal
    Professions; how they Disported themselves on the Ice; and how
    their First Visit came to a Conclusion_


"Well, Sam," said Mr. Pickwick as that favoured servitor entered his
bed-chamber with his warm water, on the morning of Christmas Day,
"still frosty?"

"Water in the wash-hand basin's a mask o' ice, sir," responded Sam.

"Severe weather, Sam," observed Mr. Pickwick.

"Fine time for them as is well wropped up, as the Polar Bear said to
himself, ven he was practising his skating," replied Mr. Weller.

"I shall be down in a quarter of an hour, Sam," said Mr. Pickwick,
untying his nightcap.

"Wery good, sir," replied Sam. "There's a couple o' Sawbones
downstairs."

"A couple of what!" exclaimed Mr. Pickwick, sitting up in bed.

"A couple o' Sawbones," said Sam.

"What's a Sawbones?" inquired Mr. Pickwick, not quite certain whether
it was a live animal, or something to eat.

"What! Don't you know what a Sawbones is, sir?" inquired Mr. Weller.
"I thought everybody know'd as a Sawbones was a surgeon."

"Oh, a surgeon, eh?" said Mr. Pickwick, with a smile.

"Just that, sir," replied Sam. "These here ones as is below, though,
ain't reg'lar thorough-bred Sawbones; they're only in trainin'."

"In other words they're medical students, I suppose?" said Mr. Pickwick.

Sam Weller nodded assent.

"I am glad of it," said Mr. Pickwick, casting his nightcap energetically
on the counterpane. "They are fine fellows; very fine fellows; with
judgments matured by observation and reflection; tastes refined by
reading and study. I am very glad of it."

"They're a smokin' cigars by the kitchen fire," said Sam.

"Ah!" observed Mr. Pickwick, rubbing his hands, "overflowing with
kindly feelings and animal spirits. Just what I like to see."

"And one on 'em," said Sam, not noticing his master's interruption,
"one on 'em's got his legs on the table, and is a drinkin' brandy
neat, vile the tother one--him in the barnacles--has got a barrel o'
oysters atween his knees, wich he's a openin' like steam, and as fast
as he eats 'em, he takes a aim vith the shells at young dropsy, who's a
sittin' down fast asleep, in the chimbley corner."

"Eccentricities of genius, Sam," said Mr. Pickwick. "You may retire."

Sam did retire accordingly; Mr. Pickwick, at the expiration of the
quarter of an hour, went down to breakfast.

"Here he is at last!" said old Mr. Wardle. "Pickwick, this is Miss
Allen's brother, Mr. Benjamin Allen. Ben we call him, and so may you if
you like. This gentleman is his very particular friend, Mr. ----"

"Mr. Bob Sawyer," interposed Mr. Benjamin Allen; whereupon Mr. Bob
Sawyer and Mr. Benjamin Allen laughed in concert.

Mr. Pickwick bowed to Bob Sawyer, and Bob Sawyer bowed to Mr. Pickwick;
Bob and his very particular friend then applied themselves most
assiduously to the eatables before them, and Mr. Pickwick had an
opportunity of glancing at them both.

Mr. Benjamin Allen was a coarse, stout, thickset young man, with
black hair cut rather short, and a white face cut rather long. He was
embellished with spectacles, and wore a white neckerchief. Below his
single-breasted black surtout, which was buttoned up to his chin,
appeared the usual number of pepper-and-salt coloured legs, terminating
in a pair of imperfectly polished boots. Although his coat was short in
the sleeves, it disclosed no vestige of a linen wristband; and although
there was quite enough of his face to admit of the encroachment of
a shirt collar, it was not graced by the smallest approach to that
appendage. He presented, altogether, rather a mildewy appearance, and
emitted a fragrant odour of full-flavoured Cubas.

Mr. Bob Sawyer, who was habited in a coarse blue coat, which, without
being either a great-coat or a surtout, partook of the nature and
qualities of both, had about him that sort of slovenly smartness, and
swaggering gait, which is peculiar to young gentlemen who smoke in the
streets by day, shout and scream in the same by night, call waiters
by their Christian names, and do various other acts and deeds of an
equally facetious description. He wore a pair of plaid trousers, and a
large rough double-breasted waistcoat; out of doors, he carried a thick
stick with a big top. He eschewed gloves, and looked, upon the whole,
something like a dissipated Robinson Crusoe.

Such were the two worthies to whom Mr. Pickwick was introduced, as he
took his seat at the breakfast table on Christmas morning.

"Splendid morning, gentlemen," said Mr. Pickwick.

Mr. Bob Sawyer slightly nodded his assent to the proposition, and asked
Mr. Benjamin Allen for the mustard.

"Have you come far this morning, gentlemen?" inquired Mr. Pickwick.

"Blue Lion at Muggleton," briefly responded Mr. Allen.

"You should have joined us last night," said Mr. Pickwick.

"So we should," replied Bob Sawyer, "but the brandy was too good to
leave in a hurry: wasn't it, Ben?"

"Certainly," said Mr. Benjamin Allen; "and the cigars were not bad, or
the pork chops either: were they, Bob?"

"Decidedly not," said Bob. The particular friends resumed their attack
upon the breakfast, more freely than before, as if the recollection of
last night's supper had imparted a new relish to the meal.

"Peg away, Bob," said Mr. Allen to his companion, encouragingly.

"So I do," replied Bob Sawyer. And so, to do him justice, he did.

"Nothing like dissecting, to give one an appetite," said Mr. Bob
Sawyer, looking round the table.

Mr. Pickwick slightly shuddered.

"By-the-bye, Bob," said Mr. Allen, "have you finished that leg yet?"

"Nearly," replied Sawyer, helping himself to half a fowl as he spoke.
"It's a very muscular one for a child's."

"Is it?" inquired Mr. Allen, carelessly.

"Very," said Bob Sawyer, with his mouth full.

"I've put my name down for an arm, at our place," said Mr. Allen.
"We're clubbing for a subject, and the list is nearly full, only we
can't get hold of any fellow that wants a head. I wish you'd take it."

"No," replied Bob Sawyer; "can't afford expensive luxuries."

"Nonsense!" said Allen.

"Can't indeed," rejoined Bob Sawyer. "I wouldn't mind a brain, but I
couldn't stand a whole head."

"Hush, hush, gentlemen, pray," said Mr. Pickwick. "I hear the ladies."

As Mr. Pickwick spoke, the ladies, gallantly escorted by Messrs.
Snodgrass, Winkle, and Tupman, returned from an early walk.

"Why, Ben!" said Arabella, in a tone which expressed more surprise than
pleasure at the sight of her brother.

"Come to take you home to-morrow," replied Benjamin.

Mr. Winkle turned pale.

"Don't you see Bob Sawyer, Arabella?" inquired Mr. Benjamin Allen,
somewhat reproachfully. Arabella gracefully held out her hand, in
acknowledgment of Bob Sawyer's presence. A thrill of hatred struck to
Mr. Winkle's heart, as Bob Sawyer inflicted on the proffered hand a
perceptible squeeze.

"Ben, dear!" said Arabella, blushing; "have--have--you been introduced
to Mr. Winkle?"

"I have not been, but I shall be very happy to be, Arabella," replied
her brother, gravely. Here Mr. Allen bowed grimly to Mr. Winkle, while
Mr. Winkle and Mr. Bob Sawyer glanced mutual distrust out of the
corners of their eyes.

The arrival of the two new visitors, and the consequent check upon Mr.
Winkle and the young lady with the fur round her boots, would in all
probability have proved a very unpleasant interruption to the hilarity
of the party, had not the cheerfulness of Mr. Pickwick, and the good
humour of the host, been exerted to the very utmost for the common
weal. Mr. Winkle gradually insinuated himself into the good graces of
Mr. Benjamin Allen, and even joined in a friendly conversation with
Mr. Bob Sawyer; who, enlivened with the brandy, and the breakfast, and
the talking, gradually ripened into a state of extreme facetiousness,
and related with much glee an agreeable anecdote, about the removal of
a tumour on some gentleman's head: which he illustrated by means of
an oyster-knife and a half-quartern loaf, to the great edification of
the assembled company. Then, the whole train went to church, where Mr.
Benjamin Allen fell fast asleep; while Mr. Bob Sawyer abstracted his
thoughts from worldly matters, by the ingenious process of carving his
name on the seat of the pew, in corpulent letters of four inches long.

"Now," said Wardle, after a substantial lunch, with the agreeable items
of strong beer and cherry-brandy, had been done ample justice to; "what
say you to an hour on the ice? We shall have plenty of time."

"Capital!" said Mr. Benjamin Allen.

"Prime!" ejaculated Mr. Bob Sawyer.

"You skate, of course, Winkle?" said Wardle.

"Ye-yes, oh yes," replied Mr. Winkle. "I--I--am _rather_ out of
practice."

"Oh, _do_ skate, Mr. Winkle," said Arabella. "I like to see it so
much."

"Oh, it is _so_ graceful," said another young lady.

A third young lady said it was elegant, and a fourth expressed her
opinion that it was "swan-like."

"I should be very happy, I'm sure," said Mr. Winkle, reddening; "but I
have no skates."

This objection was at once overruled. Trundle had a couple of pair, and
the fat boy announced that there were half a dozen more down-stairs:
whereat Mr. Winkle expressed exquisite delight, and looked exquisitely
uncomfortable.

Old Wardle led the way to a pretty large sheet of ice; and the fat
boy and Mr. Weller having shovelled and swept away the snow which had
fallen on it during the night, Mr. Bob Sawyer adjusted his skates
with a dexterity which to Mr. Winkle was perfectly marvellous, and
described circles with his left leg, and cut figures of eight, and
inscribed upon the ice, without once stopping for breath, a great many
other pleasant and astonishing devices, to the excessive satisfaction
of Mr. Pickwick, Mr. Tupman, and the ladies: which reached a pitch of
positive enthusiasm, when old Wardle and Benjamin Allen, assisted by
the aforesaid Bob Sawyer, performed some mystic evolutions, which they
called a reel.

All this time, Mr. Winkle, with his face and hands blue with the cold,
had been forcing a gimlet into the soles of his feet, and putting his
skates on, with the points behind, and getting the straps into a very
complicated and entangled state, with the assistance of Mr. Snodgrass,
who knew rather less about skates than a Hindoo. At length, however,
with the assistance of Mr. Weller, the unfortunate skates were firmly
screwed and buckled on, and Mr. Winkle was raised to his feet.

"Now then, sir," said Sam, in an encouraging tone; "off vith you, and
show 'em how to do it."

"Stop, Sam, stop!" said Mr. Winkle, trembling violently, and clutching
hold of Sam's arms with the grasp of a drowning man. "How slippery it
is, Sam!"

"Not an uncommon thing upon ice, sir," replied Mr. Weller. "Hold up,
sir!"

This last observation of Mr. Weller's bore reference to a demonstration
Mr. Winkle made at the instant, of a frantic desire to throw his feet
in the air, and dash the back of his head on the ice.

"These--these--are very awkward skates; ain't they, Sam?" inquired Mr.
Winkle, staggering.

[Illustration: _"Now then, sir," said Sam, "off vith you, and show 'em
how to do it"_]

"I'm afeerd there's a orkard gen'l'm'n in 'em, sir," replied Sam.

"Now, Winkle," cried Mr. Pickwick, quite unconscious that there was
anything the matter. "Come; the ladies are all anxiety."

"Yes, yes," replied Mr. Winkle, with a ghastly smile. "I'm coming."

"Just a goin' to begin," said Sam, endeavouring to disengage himself.
"Now, sir, start off!"

"Stop an instant, Sam," gasped Mr. Winkle, clinging most affectionately
to Mr. Weller. "I find I've got a couple of coats at home I don't want,
Sam. You may have them, Sam."

"Thank'ee, sir," replied Mr. Weller.

"Never mind touching your hat, Sam," said Mr. Winkle, hastily. "You
needn't take your hand away to do that. I meant to have given you five
shillings this morning for a Christmas-box, Sam. I'll give it you this
afternoon, Sam."

"You're wery good, sir," replied Mr. Weller.

"Just hold me at first, Sam; will you?" said Mr. Winkle. "There--that's
right. I shall soon get in the way of it, Sam. Not too fast, Sam; not
too fast."

Mr. Winkle stooping forward, with his body half doubled up, was
being assisted over the ice by Mr. Weller, in a most singular and
un-swan-like manner, when Mr. Pickwick most innocently shouted from the
opposite bank:

"Sam!"

"Sir?"

"Here. I want you."

"Let go, sir," said Sam. "Don't you hear the governor a callin'? Let
go, sir."

With a violent effort, Mr. Weller disengaged himself from the grasp of
the agonised Pickwickian, and, in so doing, administered a considerable
impetus to the unhappy Mr. Winkle. With an accuracy which no degree of
dexterity or practice could have insured, that unfortunate gentleman
bore swiftly down into the centre of the reel, at the very moment when
Mr. Bob Sawyer was performing a flourish of unparalleled beauty. Mr.
Winkle struck wildly against him, and with a loud crash they both fell
heavily down. Mr. Pickwick ran to the spot. Bob Sawyer had risen to his
feet, but Mr. Winkle was far too wise to do anything of the kind, in
skates. He was seated on the ice, making spasmodic efforts to smile;
but anguish was depicted on every lineament of his countenance.

"Are you hurt?" inquired Mr. Benjamin Allen, with great anxiety.

"Not much," said Mr. Winkle, rubbing his back very hard.

"I wish you'd let me bleed you," said Mr. Benjamin with great eagerness.

"No, thank you," replied Mr. Winkle, hurriedly.

"I really think you had better," said Allen.

"Thank you," replied Mr. Winkle; "I'd rather not."

"What do _you_ think, Mr. Pickwick?" inquired Bob Sawyer. Mr. Pickwick
was excited and indignant. He beckoned to Mr. Weller, and said in a
stern voice, "Take his skates off."

"No; but really I had scarcely begun," remonstrated Mr. Winkle.

"Take his skates off," repeated Mr. Pickwick, firmly.

The command was not to be resisted. Mr. Winkle allowed Sam to obey it
in silence.

"Lift him up," said Mr. Pickwick. Sam assisted him to rise. Mr.
Pickwick retired a few paces apart from the bystanders; and, beckoning
his friend to approach, fixed a searching look upon him, and uttered in
a low, but distinct and emphatic tone, these remarkable words:

"You're a humbug, sir."

"A what?" said Mr. Winkle, starting.

"A humbug, sir. I will speak plainer, if you wish it. An impostor, sir."

With these words, Mr. Pickwick turned slowly on his heel, and rejoined
his friends.

While Mr. Pickwick was delivering himself of the sentiment just
recorded, Mr. Weller and the fat boy, having by their joint endeavours
cut out a slide, were exercising themselves thereupon, in a very
masterly and brilliant manner. Sam Weller, in particular, was
displaying that beautiful feat of fancy sliding which is currently
denominated "knocking at the cobbler's door," and which is achieved by
skimming over the ice on one foot, and occasionally giving a postman's
knock upon it with the other. It was a good long slide, and there was
something in the motion which Mr. Pickwick, who was very cold with
standing still, could not help envying.

"It looks a nice warm exercise that, doesn't it?" he inquired of
Wardle, when that gentleman was thoroughly out of breath, by reason of
the indefatigable manner in which he had converted his legs into a pair
of compasses, and drawn complicated problems on the ice.

"Ah, it does indeed," replied Wardle. "Do you slide?"

"I used to do so, on the gutters, when I was a boy," replied Mr.
Pickwick.

[Illustration: _Went slowly and gravely down the slide_]

"Try it now," said Wardle.

"Oh do, please, Mr. Pickwick!" cried all the ladies.

"I should be very happy to afford you any amusement," replied Mr.
Pickwick, "but I haven't done such a thing these thirty years."

"Pooh! pooh! Nonsense!" said Wardle, dragging off his skates with the
impetuosity which characterised all his proceedings. "Here; I'll keep
you company; come along!" And away went the good-tempered old fellow
down the slide, with a rapidity which came very close upon Mr. Weller,
and beat the fat boy all to nothing.

Mr. Pickwick paused, considered, pulled off his gloves and put them in
his hat: took two or three short runs, baulked himself as often, and at
last took another run, and went slowly and gravely down the slide, with
his feet about a yard and a quarter apart, amidst the gratified shouts
of all the spectators.

"Keep the pot a bilin', sir!" said Sam; and down went Wardle again, and
then Mr. Pickwick, and then Sam, and then Mr. Winkle, and then Mr. Bob
Sawyer, and then the fat boy, and then Mr. Snodgrass, following closely
upon each other's heels, and running after each other with as much
eagerness as if all their future prospects in life depended on their
expedition.

It was the most intensely interesting thing, to observe the manner in
which Mr. Pickwick performed his share in the ceremony; to watch the
torture of anxiety with which he viewed the person behind, gaining upon
him at the imminent hazard of tripping him up; to see him gradually
expend the painful force he had put on at first, and turn slowly
round on the slide, with his face towards the point from which he had
started; to contemplate the playful smile which mantled on his face
when he had accomplished the distance, and the eagerness with which
he turned round when he had done so, and ran after his predecessor:
his black gaiters tripping pleasantly through the snow, and his eyes
beaming cheerfulness and gladness through his spectacles. And when he
was knocked down (which happened upon the average every third round),
it was the most invigorating sight that can possibly be imagined, to
behold him gather up his hat, gloves, and handkerchief, with a glowing
countenance, and resume his station in the rank, with an ardour and
enthusiasm that nothing could abate.

The sport was at its height, the sliding was at the quickest, the
laughter was at the loudest, when a sharp smart crack was heard. There
was a quick rush towards the bank, a wild scream from the ladies, and
a shout from Mr. Tupman. A large mass of ice disappeared; the water
bubbled up over it; Mr. Pickwick's hat, gloves, and handkerchief were
floating on the surface; and this was all of Mr. Pickwick that anybody
could see.

Dismay and anguish were depicted on every countenance, the males turned
pale, and the females fainted, Mr. Snodgrass and Mr. Winkle grasped
each other by the hand, and gazed at the spot where their leader
had gone down, with frenzied eagerness; while Mr. Tupman, by way of
rendering the promptest assistance, and at the same time conveying to
any persons who might be within hearing, the clearest possible notion
of the catastrophe, ran off across the country at his utmost speed,
screaming "Fire!" with all his might.

It was at this moment, when old Wardle and Sam Weller were approaching
the hole with cautious steps, and Mr. Benjamin Allen was holding a
hurried consultation with Bob Sawyer, on the advisability of bleeding
the company generally, as an improving little bit of professional
practice--it was at this very moment, that a face, head, and shoulders,
emerged from beneath the water, and disclosed the features and
spectacles of Mr. Pickwick.

[Illustration: _A face, head, and shoulders, emerged from beneath the
water, and disclosed the features and spectacles of Mr. Pickwick._]

"Keep yourself up for an instant--for only one instant;" bawled Mr.
Snodgrass.

"Yes, do; let me implore you--for my sake!" roared Mr. Winkle, deeply
affected. The adjuration was rather unnecessary: the probability being,
that if Mr. Pickwick; had declined to keep himself up for anybody
else's sake, it would have occurred to him that he might as well do so
for his own.

"Do you feel the bottom there, old fellow?" said Wardle.

"Yes, certainly," replied Mr. Pickwick, wringing the water from his
head and face, and gasping for breath. "I fell upon my back. I couldn't
get on my feet at first."

The clay upon so much of Mr. Pickwick's coat as was yet visible, bore
testimony to the accuracy of this statement; and as the fears of the
spectators were still further relieved by the fat boy's suddenly
recollecting that the water was nowhere more than five feet deep,
prodigies of valour were performed to get him out. After a vast
quantity of splashing, and cracking, and struggling, Mr. Pickwick was
at length fairly extricated from his unpleasant position, and once more
stood on dry land.

"Oh, he'll catch his death of cold," said Emily.

"Dear old thing!" said Arabella. "Let me wrap this shawl round you, Mr.
Pickwick."

"Ah, that's the best thing you can do," said Wardle; "and when you've
got it on, run home as fast as your legs can carry you, and jump into
bed directly."

A dozen shawls were offered on the instant. Three or four of the
thickest having been selected, Mr. Pickwick was wrapped up, and
started off, under the guidance of Mr. Weller: presenting the singular
phenomenon of an elderly gentleman, dripping wet, and without a hat,
with his arms bound down to his sides, skimming over the ground,
without any clearly defined purpose, at the rate of six good English
miles an hour.

But Mr. Pickwick cared not for appearances in such an extreme case, and
urged on by Sam Weller, he kept at the very top of his speed until he
reached the door of Manor Farm, where Mr. Tupman had arrived some five
minutes before, and had frightened the old lady into palpitations of
the heart by impressing her with the unalterable conviction that the
kitchen chimney was on fire--a calamity which always presented itself
in glowing colours to the old lady's mind, when anybody about her
evinced the smallest agitation.

Mr. Pickwick paused not an instant until he was snug in bed. Sam Weller
lighted a blazing fire in the room and took up his dinner; a bowl of
punch was carried up afterwards, and a grand carouse held in honour of
his safety. Old Wardle would not hear of his rising, so they made the
bed the chair, and Mr. Pickwick presided. A second and a third bowl
were ordered in; and when Mr. Pickwick awoke next morning, there was
not a symptom of rheumatism about him: which proves, as Mr. Bob Sawyer
very justly observed, that there is nothing like hot punch in such
cases: and that if ever hot punch did fail to act as a preventive, it
was merely because the patient fell into the vulgar error of not taking
enough of it.

The jovial party broke up next morning. Breakings up are capital things
in our school days, but in after life they are painful enough. Death,
self-interest, and fortune's changes, are every day breaking up many a
happy group, and scattering them far and wide; and the boys and girls
never come back again. We do not mean to say that it was exactly the
case in this particular instance; all we wish to inform the reader is,
that the different members of the party dispersed to their several
homes; that Mr. Pickwick and his friends once more took their seats on
the top of the Muggleton coach; and that Arabella Allen repaired to
her place of destination, wherever it might have been--we dare say Mr.
Winkle knew, but we confess we don't--under the care and guardianship
of her brother Benjamin, and his most intimate friend, Mr. Bob Sawyer.

Before they separated, however, that gentleman and Mr. Benjamin Allen
drew Mr. Pickwick aside with an air of some mystery: and Mr. Bob
Sawyer, thrusting his forefinger between two of Mr. Pickwick's ribs,
and thereby displaying his native drollery, and his knowledge of the
anatomy of the human frame, at one and the same time, inquired:

"I say, old boy, where do you hang out?"

Mr. Pickwick replied that he was at present suspended at the George and
Vulture.

"I wish you'd come and see me," said Bob Sawyer.

"Nothing would give me greater pleasure," replied Mr. Pickwick.

"There's my lodgings," said Mr. Bob Sawyer, producing a card. "Lant
Street, Borough; it's near Guy's, and handy for me, you know. Little
distance after you've passed St. George's Church--turns out of the High
Street on the right-hand side the way."

"I shall find it," said Mr. Pickwick.

"Come on Thursday fortnight, and bring the other chaps with you," said
Mr. Bob Sawyer. "I'm going to have a few medical fellows that night."

Mr. Pickwick expressed the pleasure it would afford him to meet the
medical fellows; and after Mr. Bob Sawyer had informed him that he
meant to be very cosy, and that his friend Ben was to be one of the
party, they shook hands and separated.

We feel that in this place we lay ourselves open to inquiry whether
Mr. Winkle was whispering, during this brief conversation, to Arabella
Allen; and if so, what he said; and furthermore, whether Mr. Snodgrass
was conversing apart with Emily Wardle; and if so, what _he_ said. To
this, we reply, that whatever they might have said to the ladies, they
said nothing at all to Mr. Pickwick or Mr. Tupman for eight-and-twenty
miles, and that they sighed very often, refused ale and brandy,
and looked gloomy. If our observant lady readers can deduce any
satisfactory inferences from these facts, we beg them by all means to
do so.



CHAPTER III

[Illustration]

  _Which is all about the Law, and sundry great Authorities learned
    therein_


Scattered about, in various holes and corners of the Temple, are
certain dark and dirty chambers, in and out of which, all the morning
in Vacation, and half the evening too in Term times, there may be
seen constantly hurrying with bundles of papers under their arms, and
protruding from their pockets, an almost uninterrupted succession of
Lawyers' Clerks. There are several grades of Lawyers' Clerks. There
is the Articled Clerk, who has paid a premium, and is an attorney in
perspective, who runs a tailor's bill, receives invitations to parties,
knows a family in Gower Street, and another in Tavistock Square; who
goes out of town every Long Vacation to see his father, who keeps
live horses innumerable; and who is, in short, the very aristocrat
of clerks. There is the salaried clerk--out of door or in door, as
the case may be--who devotes the major part of his thirty shillings a
week to his personal pleasure and adornment, repairs half-price to the
Adelphi Theatre at least three times a week, dissipates majestically at
the cider cellars afterwards, and is a dirty caricature of the fashion
which expired six months ago. There is the middle-aged copying clerk,
with a large family, who is always shabby, and often drunk. And there
are the office lads in their first surtouts, who feel a befitting
contempt for boys at day-schools; club, as they go home at night, for
saveloys and porter; and think there's nothing like "life." There are
varieties of the genus, too numerous to recapitulate, but however
numerous they may be, they are all to be seen, at certain regulated
business hours, hurrying to and from the places we have just mentioned.

These sequestered nooks are the public offices of the legal profession,
where writs are issued, judgments signed, declarations filed, and
numerous other ingenious machines put in motion for the torture
and torment of His Majesty's liege subjects, and the comfort and
emolument of the practitioners of the law. They are, for the most part,
low-roofed, mouldy rooms, where innumerable rolls of parchment, which
have been perspiring in secret for the last century, send forth an
agreeable odour, which is mingled by day with the scent of the dry rot,
and by night with the various exhalations which arise from damp cloaks,
festering umbrellas, and the coarsest tallow candles.

About half-past seven o'clock in the evening, some ten days or a
fortnight after Mr. Pickwick and his friends returned to London, there
hurried into one of these offices, an individual in a brown coat and
brass buttons, whose long hair was scrupulously twisted round the rim
of his napless hat, and whose soiled drab trousers were so tightly
strapped over his Blucher boots, that his knees threatened every moment
to start from their concealment. He produced from his coat pocket a
long and narrow strip of parchment, on which the presiding functionary
impressed an illegible black stamp. He then drew forth four scraps of
paper, of similar dimensions, each containing a printed copy of the
strip of parchment with blanks for a name; and having filled up the
blanks, put all the five documents in his pocket, and hurried away.

The man in the brown coat, with the cabalistic documents in his pocket,
was no other than our old acquaintance Mr. Jackson, of the house of
Dodson and Fogg, Freeman's Court, Cornhill. Instead of returning to the
office from whence he came, however, he bent his steps direct to Sun
Court, and walking straight into the George and Vulture, demanded to
know whether one Mr. Pickwick was within.

"Call Mr. Pickwick's servant, Tom," said the barmaid of the George and
Vulture.

"Don't trouble yourself," said Mr. Jackson, "I've come on business. If
you'll show me Mr. Pickwick's room I'll step up myself."

"What name, sir?" said the waiter.

"Jackson," replied the clerk.

The waiter stepped up-stairs to announce Mr. Jackson; but Mr. Jackson
saved him the trouble by following close at his heels, and walking into
the apartment before he could articulate a syllable.

Mr. Pickwick had, that day, invited his three friends to dinner; they
were all seated round the fire, drinking their wine, when Mr. Jackson
presented himself, as above described.

"How de do, sir?" said Mr. Jackson, nodding to Mr. Pickwick.

That gentleman bowed, and looked somewhat surprised, for the
physiognomy of Mr. Jackson dwelt not on his recollection.

"I have called from Dodson and Fogg's," said Mr. Jackson, in an
explanatory tone.

Mr. Pickwick roused at the name. "I refer you to my attorney, sir: Mr.
Perker, of Gray's Inn," said he. "Waiter, show this gentleman out."

"Beg your pardon, Mr. Pickwick," said Jackson, deliberately depositing
his hat on the floor, and drawing from his pocket the strip of
parchment. "But personal service, by clerk or agent, in these cases,
you know, Mr. Pickwick--nothing like caution, sir, in all legal forms."

Here Mr. Jackson cast his eye on the parchment; and resting his hands
on the table, and looking round with a winning and persuasive smile,
said: "Now, come; don't let's have no words about such a little matter
as this. Which of you gentlemen's name's Snodgrass?"

At this inquiry Mr. Snodgrass gave such a very undisguised and palpable
start, that no further reply was needed.

"Ah! I thought so," said Mr. Jackson, more affably than before. "I've
got a little something to trouble you with, sir."

"Me!" exclaimed Mr. Snodgrass.

"It's only a _subpoena_ in Bardell and Pickwick on behalf of the
plaintiff," replied Mr. Jackson, singling out one of the slips of
paper, and producing a shilling from his waistcoat pocket. "It'll come
on, in the settens after Term; fourteenth of Febooary, we expect; we've
marked it a special jury cause, and it's only ten down the paper.
That's yours, Mr. Snodgrass." As Jackson said this he presented the
parchment before the eyes of Mr. Snodgrass, and slipped the paper and
the shilling into his hand.

Mr. Tupman had witnessed this process in silent astonishment, when
Jackson, turning sharply upon him, said:

"I think I ain't mistaken when I say your name's Tupman, am I?"

Mr. Tupman looked at Mr. Pickwick; but, perceiving no encouragement in
that gentleman's widely opened eyes to deny his name, said:

"Yes, my name _is_ Tupman, sir."

"And that other gentleman's Mr. Winkle, I think?" said Jackson.

Mr. Winkle faltered out a reply in the affirmative; and both gentlemen
were forthwith invested with a slip of paper, and a shilling each, by
the dexterous Mr. Jackson.

"Now," said Jackson, "I'm afraid you'll think me rather troublesome,
but I want somebody else, if it ain't inconvenient. I _have_ Samuel
Weller's name here, Mr. Pickwick."

"Send my servant here, waiter," said Mr. Pickwick. The waiter retired,
considerably astonished, and Mr. Pickwick motioned Jackson to a seat.

There was a painful pause, which was at length broken by the innocent
defendant.

"I suppose, sir," said Mr. Pickwick, his indignation rising while he
spoke; "I suppose, sir, that it is the intention of your employers to
seek to criminate me upon the testimony of my own friends?"

Mr. Jackson struck his forefinger several times against the left side
of his nose, to intimate that he was not there to disclose the secrets
of the prison-house, and playfully rejoined:

"Not knowin', can't say."

"For what other reason, sir," pursued Mr. Pickwick, "are these
subpoenas served upon them, if not for this?"

"Very good plant, Mr. Pickwick," replied Jackson, slowly shaking his
head. "But it won't do. No harm in trying, but there's little to be got
out of me."

Here Mr. Jackson smiled once more upon the company, and, applying his
left thumb to the tip of his nose, worked a visionary coffee-mill with
his right hand: thereby performing a very graceful piece of pantomime
(then much in vogue, but now, unhappily, almost obsolete) which was
familiarly denominated "taking a grinder."

"No, no, Mr. Pickwick," said Jackson, in conclusion; "Perker's people
must guess what we've served these subpoenas for. If they can't, they
must wait till the action comes on, and then they'll find out."

Mr. Pickwick bestowed a look of excessive disgust on his unwelcome
visitor, and would probably have hurled some tremendous anathema at the
heads of Messrs. Dodson and Fogg, had not Sam's entrance at the instant
interrupted him.

"Samuel Weller?" said Mr. Jackson, inquiringly.

"Vun o' the truest things as you've said for many a long year," replied
Sam, in a most composed manner.

"Here's a subpoena for you, Mr. Weller," said Jackson.

"What's that in English?" inquired Sam.

"Here's the original," said Jackson, declining the required explanation.

"Which?" said Sam.

"This," replied Jackson, shaking the parchment.

"Oh, that's the 'rig'nal, is it?" said Sam. "Well, I'm wery glad I've
seen the 'rig'nal, 'cos it's a gratifyin' sort o' thing, and eases
vun's mind so much."

"And here's the shilling," said Jackson. "It's from Dodson and Fogg's."

"And it's uncommon handsome o' Dodson and Fogg, as knows so little of
me, to come down vith a present," said Sam. "I feel it as a wery high
compliment, sir; it's a wery hon'rable thing to them, as they knows how
to reward merit werever they meets it. Besides wich, it's affectin' to
one's feelin's."

As Mr. Weller said this, he inflicted a little friction on his right
eyelid, with the sleeve of his coat, after the most approved manner of
actors when they are in domestic pathetics.

Mr. Jackson seemed rather puzzled by Sam's proceedings; but, as he had
served the subpoenas, and had nothing more to say, he made a feint of
putting on the one glove which he usually carried in his hand for the
sake of appearances; and returned to the office to report progress.

Mr. Pickwick slept little that night; his memory had received a very
disagreeable refresher on the subject of Mrs. Bardell's action. He
breakfasted betimes next morning, and, desiring Sam to accompany him,
set forth towards Gray's Inn Square.

"Sam!" said Mr. Pickwick, looking round, when they got to the end of
Cheapside.

"Sir?" said Sam, stepping up to his master.

"Which way?"

"Up Newgate Street."

Mr. Pickwick did not turn round immediately, but looked vacantly in
Sam's face for a few seconds, and heaved a deep sigh.

"What's the matter, sir?" inquired Sam.

"This action, Sam," said Mr. Pickwick, "is expected to come on on the
fourteenth of next month."

"Remarkable coin_ci_dence that 'ere, sir," replied Sam.

"Why remarkable, Sam?" inquired Mr. Pickwick.

"Walentine's day, sir," responded Sam; "reg'lar good day for a breach
o' promise trial."

Mr. Weller's smile awakened no gleam of mirth in his master's
countenance. Mr. Pickwick turned abruptly round, and led the way in
silence.

They had walked some distance: Mr. Pickwick trotting on before, plunged
in profound meditation, and Sam following behind, with a countenance
expressive of the most enviable and easy defiance of everything and
everybody: when the latter, who was always especially anxious to impart
to his master any exclusive information he possessed, quickened his
pace until he was close at Mr. Pickwick's heels; and, pointing up at a
house they were passing, said:

"Wery nice pork-shop that 'ere, sir."

"Yes, it seems so," said Mr. Pickwick.

"Celebrated sassage factory," said Sam.

"Is it?" said Mr. Pickwick.

"Is it!" reiterated Sam, with some indignation: "I should rayther
think it was. Why, sir, bless your innocent eyebrows, that's where the
mysterious disappearance of a 'spectable tradesman took place four year
ago."

"You don't mean to say he was burked, Sam?" said Mr. Pickwick, looking
hastily round.

"No, I don't indeed, sir," replied Mr. Weller, "I wish I did; far worse
than that. He was the master o' that 'ere shop, sir, and the inwenter
o' the patent never-leavin'-off sassage steam ingine, as 'ud swaller up
a pavin' stone if you put it too near, and grind it into sassages as
easy as if it was a tender young baby. Wery proud o' that machine he
was, as it was nat'ral he should be, and he'd stand down in the cellar
a lookin' at it wen it was in full play, till he got quite melancholy
with joy. A wery happy man he'd ha' been, sir, in the procession o'
that 'ere ingine and two more lovely hinfants besides, if it hadn't
been for his wife, who was a most ow-dacious wixin. She was always a
follerin' him about and dinnin' in his ears, till at last he couldn't
stand it no longer. 'I'll tell you what it is, my dear,' he says one
day; 'if you persewere in this here sort of amusement,' he says, 'I'm
blessed if I don't go away to 'Merriker; and that's all about it.'
'You're a idle willin,' says she, 'and I wish the 'Merrikins joy of
their bargain.' Arter wich she keeps on abusin' of him for half an
hour, and then runs into the little parlour behind the shop, sets to a
screamin', says he'll be the death on her, and falls in a fit, which
lasts for three good hours--one o' them fits wich is all screamin' and
kickin'. Well, next mornin', the husband was missin'. He hadn't taken
nothin' from the till--hadn't even put on his great-coat--so it was
quite clear he warn't gone to 'Merriker. Didn't come back next day;
didn't come back next week; Missis had bills printed, sayin' that,
if he'd come back, he should be forgiven everythin' (which was very
liberal, seein' that he hadn't done nothin' at all); the canals was
dragged, and for two months artervards, wenever a body turned up, it
was carried, as a reg'lar thing, straight off to the sassage shop.
Hows'ever, none on 'em answered; so they gave out that he'd run avay,
and she kep' on the bis'ness. One Saturday night, a little thin old
gen'l'm'n comes into the shop in a great passion and says, 'Are you
the missis o' this here shop?' 'Yes, I am,' says she. 'Well, ma'am,'
says he, 'then I've just looked in to say that me and my family ain't
a goin' to be choked for nothin'; and more than that, ma'am,' he says,
'you'll allow me to observe, that as you don't use the primest parts of
the meat in the manafacter o' sassages, I think you'd find beef come
nearly as cheap as buttons.' 'As buttons, sir!' says she. 'Buttons,
ma'am,' says the little old gen'l'm'n, unfolding a bit of paper,
and showing twenty or thirty halves o' buttons. 'Nice seasonin' for
sassages, is trousers buttons, ma'am.' 'They're my husband's buttons!'
says the widder, beginnin' to faint. 'What!' screams the little old
gen'l'm'n, turnin' wery pale. 'I see it all,' says the widder; 'in a
fit of temporary insanity he rashly converted his-self into sassages!'
And so he had, sir," said Mr. Weller, looking steadily into Mr.
Pickwick's horror-stricken countenance, "or else he'd been draw'd into
the ingine; but however that might ha' been, the little old gen'l'm'n,
who had been remarkably partial to sassages all his life, rushed out o'
the shop in a wild state, and was never heard on artervards!"

The relation of this affecting incident of private life brought master
and man to Mr. Perker's chambers. Lowten, holding the door half open,
was in conversation with a rustily-clad, miserable-looking man, in
boots without toes and gloves without fingers. There were traces of
privation and suffering--almost of despair--in his lank and careworn
countenance; he felt his poverty, for he shrunk to the dark side of the
staircase as Mr. Pickwick approached.

"It's very unfortunate," said the stranger, with a sigh.

"Very," said Lowten, scribbling his name on the door-post with his pen,
and rubbing it out again with the feather. "Will you leave a message
for him?"

"When do you think he'll be back?" inquired the stranger.

"Quite uncertain," replied Lowten, winking at Mr. Pickwick, as the
stranger cast his eyes towards the ground.

"You don't think it would be of any use my waiting for him?" said the
stranger, looking wistfully into the office.

"Oh no, I'm sure it wouldn't," replied the clerk, moving a little more
into the centre of the doorway. "He's certain not to be back this week,
and it's a chance whether he will be next; for when Perker once gets
out of town, he's never in a hurry to come back again."

"Out of town!" said Mr. Pickwick; "dear me, how unfortunate!"

"Don't go away, Mr. Pickwick," said Lowten, "I've got a letter for
you." The stranger seeming to hesitate, once more looked towards the
ground, and the clerk winked slily at Mr. Pickwick, as if to intimate
that some exquisite piece of humour was going forward, though what it
was Mr. Pickwick could not for the life of him divine.

"Step in, Mr. Pickwick," said Lowten. "Well, will you leave a message,
Mr. Watty, or will you call again?"

"Ask him to be so kind as to leave out word what has been done in my
business," said the man; "for God's sake don't neglect it, Mr. Lowten."

"No, no; I won't forget it," replied the clerk. "Walk in, Mr. Pickwick.
Good morning, Mr. Watty; it's a fine day for walking, isn't it?" Seeing
that the stranger still lingered, he beckoned Sam Weller to follow his
master in, and shut the door in his face.

"There never was such a pestering bankrupt as that since the world
began, I do believe!" said Lowten, throwing down his pen with the air
of an injured man. "His affairs haven't been in Chancery quite four
years yet, and I'm d--d if he don't come worrying here twice a week.
Step this way, Mr. Pickwick. Perker _is_ in, and he'll see you, I know.
Devilish cold," he added, pettishly, "standing at that door, wasting
one's time with such seedy vagabonds!" Having very vehemently stirred a
particularly large fire with a particularly small poker, the clerk led
the way to his principal's private room, and announced Mr. Pickwick.

"Ah, my dear sir," said little Mr. Perker, bustling up from his chair.
"Well, my dear sir, and what's the news about your matter, eh? Anything
more about our friends in Freeman's Court? They've not been sleeping,
_I_ know that. Ah, they're smart fellows; very smart indeed."

As the little man concluded, he took an emphatic pinch of snuff, as a
tribute to the smartness of Messrs. Dodson and Fogg.

"They are great scoundrels," said Mr. Pickwick.

"Aye, aye," said the little man; "that's a matter of opinion, you
know, and we won't dispute about terms; because of course you can't be
expected to view these subjects with a professional eye. Well, we've
done everything that's necessary. I have retained Serjeant Snubbin."

"Is he a good man?" inquired Mr. Pickwick.

"Good man!" replied Perker; "bless your heart and soul, my dear sir,
Serjeant Snubbin is at the very top of his profession. Gets treble
the business of any man in court--engaged in every case. You needn't
mention it abroad; but we say--we of the profession--that Serjeant
Snubbin leads the court by the nose."

The little man took another pinch of snuff as he made this
communication, and nodded mysteriously to Mr. Pickwick.

"They have subpoena'd my three friends," said Mr. Pickwick.

"Ah! of course they would," replied Perker. "Important witnesses; saw
you in a delicate situation."

"But she fainted of her own accord," said Mr. Pickwick. "She threw
herself into my arms."

"Very likely, my dear sir," replied Perker; "very likely and very
natural. Nothing more so, my dear sir, nothing. But who's to prove it?"

"They have subpoena'd my servant too," said Mr. Pickwick, quitting
the other point; for there Mr. Perker's question had somewhat staggered
him.

"Sam?" said Perker.

Mr. Pickwick replied in the affirmative.

"Of course, my dear sir; of course. I knew they would. I could have
told you that a month ago. You know, my dear sir, if you _will_ take
the management of your affairs into your own hands after intrusting
them to your solicitor, you must also take the consequences." Here Mr.
Perker drew himself up with conscious dignity, and brushed some stray
grains of snuff from his shirt frill.

"And what do they want him to prove?" asked Mr. Pickwick, after two or
three minutes' silence.

"That you sent him up to the plaintiff's to make some offer of a
compromise, I suppose," replied Perker. "It don't matter much, though;
I don't think many counsel could get a great deal out of _him_."

"I don't think they could," said Mr. Pickwick; smiling, despite his
vexation, at the idea of Sam's appearance as a witness. "What course do
we pursue?"

"We have only one to adopt, my dear sir," replied Perker; "cross-examine
the witnesses; trust to Snubbin's eloquence; throw dust in the eyes of
the judge; throw ourselves on the jury."

"And suppose the verdict is against me?" said Mr. Pickwick.

Mr. Perker smiled, took a very long pinch of snuff, stirred the fire,
shrugged his shoulders, and remained expressively silent.

"You mean that in that case I must pay the damages?" said Mr. Pickwick,
who had watched this telegraphic answer with considerable sternness.

Perker gave the fire another very unnecessary poke, and said, "I am
afraid so."

"Then I beg to announce to you, my unalterable determination to pay
no damages whatever," said Mr. Pickwick, most emphatically. "None,
Perker. Not a pound, not a penny, of my money, shall find its way into
the pockets of Dodson and Fogg. That is my deliberate and irrevocable
determination." Mr. Pickwick gave a heavy blow on the table before him,
in confirmation of the irrevocability of his intention.

"Very well, my dear sir, very well," said Perker. "You know best, of
course."

"Of course," replied Mr. Pickwick, hastily. "Where does Serjeant
Snubbin live?"

"In Lincoln's Inn Old Square," replied Perker.

"I should like to see him," said Mr. Pickwick.

"See Serjeant Snubbin, my dear sir!" rejoined Perker, in utter
amazement. "Pooh, pooh, my dear sir, impossible. See Serjeant Snubbin!
Bless you, my dear sir, such a thing was never heard of, without a
consultation fee being previously paid, and a consultation fixed. It
couldn't be done, my dear sir; it couldn't be done."

Mr. Pickwick, however, had made up his mind not only that it could be
done, but that it should be done; and the consequence was, that within
ten minutes after he had received the assurance that the thing was
impossible, he was conducted by his solicitor into the outer office of
the great Serjeant Snubbin himself.

It was an uncarpeted room of tolerable dimensions, with a large
writing-table drawn up near the fire: the baize top of which had long
since lost all claim to its original hue of green, and had gradually
grown grey with dust and age, except where all traces of its natural
colour were obliterated by ink-stains. Upon the table were numerous
little bundles of papers tied with red tape; and behind it sat an
elderly clerk, whose sleek appearance, and heavy gold watch-chain,
presented imposing indications of the extensive and lucrative practice
of Mr. Serjeant Snubbin.

"Is the Serjeant in his room, Mr. Mallard?" inquired Perker, offering
his box with all imaginable courtesy.

"Yes, he is," was the reply, "but he's very busy. Look here; not an
opinion given yet, on any one of these cases; and an expedition fee
paid with all of 'em." The clerk smiled as he said this, and inhaled a
pinch of snuff with a zest which seemed to be compounded of a fondness
for snuff and a relish for fees.

"Something like practice that," said Perker.

"Yes," said the barrister's clerk, producing his own box, and offering
it with the greatest cordiality; "and the best of it is, that as nobody
alive except myself can read the Serjeant's writing, they are obliged
to wait for the opinions, when he has given them, till I have copied
'em, ha--ha--ha!"

"Which makes good for we know who, besides the Serjeant, and draws a
little more out of the clients, eh?" said Perker; "Ha, ha, ha!" At this
the Serjeant's clerk laughed again; not a noisy boisterous laugh, but a
silent, internal chuckle, which Mr. Pickwick disliked to hear. When a
man bleeds inwardly, it is a dangerous thing for himself; but when he
laughs inwardly, it bodes no good to other people.

"You haven't made me out that little list of the fees that I'm in your
debt, have you?" said Perker.

"No, I have not," replied the clerk.

"I wish you would," said Perker. "Let me have them, and I'll send you
a cheque. But I suppose you're too busy pocketing the ready money,
to think of the debtors, eh? ha, ha, ha!" This sally seemed to tickle
the clerk amazingly, and he once more enjoyed a little quiet laugh to
himself.

"But, Mr. Mallard, my dear friend," said Perker, suddenly recovering
his gravity, and drawing the great man's great man into a corner, by
the lappel of his coat; "you must persuade the Serjeant to see me and
my client here."

"Come, come," said the clerk, "that's not bad either. See the Serjeant!
come, that's too absurd." Notwithstanding the absurdity of the
proposal, however, the clerk allowed himself to be gently drawn beyond
the hearing of Mr. Pickwick; and after a short conversation conducted
in whispers, walked softly down a little dark passage and disappeared
into the legal luminary's sanctum: whence he shortly returned on
tiptoe, and informed Mr. Perker and Mr. Pickwick that the Serjeant had
been prevailed upon, in violation of all established rules and customs,
to admit them at once.

Mr. Serjeant Snubbin was a lantern-faced, sallow-complexioned man,
of about five-and-forty, or--as the novels say--he might be fifty.
He had that dull-looking boiled eye which is often to be seen in
the heads of people who have applied themselves during many years
to a weary and laborious course of study; and which would have been
sufficient, without the additional eye-glass which dangled from a
broad black riband round his neck, to warn a stranger that he was very
near-sighted. His hair was thin and weak, which was partly attributable
to his having never devoted much time to its arrangement, and partly to
his having worn for five-and-twenty years the forensic wig which hung
on a block beside him. The marks of hair-powder on his coat-collar,
and the ill-washed and worse-tied white neckerchief round his throat,
showed that he had not found leisure since he left the court to make
any alteration in his dress: while the slovenly style of the remainder
of his costume warranted the inference that his personal appearance
would not have been very much improved if he had. Books of practice,
heaps of papers, and opened letters, were scattered over the table,
without any attempt at order or arrangement; the furniture of the room
was old and rickety; the doors of the bookcase were rotting in their
hinges; the dust flew out from the carpet in little clouds at every
step; the blinds were yellow with age and dirt; the state of everything
in the room showed, with a clearness not to be mistaken, that Mr.
Serjeant Snubbin was far too much occupied with his professional
pursuits to take any great heed or regard of his personal comforts.

The Serjeant was writing when his clients entered; he bowed abstractedly
when Mr. Pickwick was introduced by his solicitor; and then, motioning
them to a seat, put his pen carefully in the inkstand, nursed his left
leg, and waited to be spoken to.

"Mr. Pickwick is the defendant in Bardell and Pickwick, Serjeant
Snubbin," said Perker.

"I am retained in that, am I?" said the Serjeant.

"You are, sir," replied Perker.

The Serjeant nodded his head, and waited for something else.

"Mr. Pickwick was anxious to call upon you, Serjeant Snubbin," said
Perker, "to state to you, before you entered upon the case, that he
denies there being any ground or pretence whatever for the action
against him; and that unless he came into court with clean hands,
and without the most conscientious conviction that he was right in
resisting the plaintiff's demand, he would not be there at all. I
believe I state your views correctly; do not, my dear sir?" said the
little man, turning to Mr. Pickwick.

"Quite so," replied that gentleman.

Mr. Serjeant Snubbin unfolded his glasses, raised them to his eyes;
and, after looking at Mr. Pickwick for a few seconds with great
curiosity, turned to Mr. Perker, and said, smiling slightly as he spoke:

"Has Mr. Pickwick a strong case?"

The attorney shrugged his shoulders.

"Do you propose calling witnesses?"

"No."

The smile on the Serjeant's countenance became more defined; he rocked
his leg with increased violence; and, throwing himself back in his
easy-chair, coughed dubiously.

These tokens of the Serjeant's presentiments on the subject, slight as
they were, were not lost on Mr. Pickwick. He settled the spectacles,
through which he had attentively regarded such demonstrations of the
barrister's feelings as he had permitted himself to exhibit, more
firmly on his nose; and said with great energy, and in utter disregard
of all Mr. Perker's admonitory winkings and frownings:

"My wishing to wait upon you, for such a purpose as this, sir, appears,
I have no doubt, to a gentleman who sees so much of these matters as
you must necessarily do, a very extraordinary circumstance."

The Serjeant tried to look gravely at the fire, but the smile came back
again.

"Gentlemen of your profession, sir," continued Mr. Pickwick, "see the
worst side of human nature. All its disputes, all its ill-will and bad
blood, rise up before you. You know from your experience of juries (I
mean no disparagement to you, or them) how much depends upon _effect_:
and you are apt to attribute to others, a desire to use, for purposes
of deception and self-interest, the very instruments which you, in
pure honesty and honour of purpose, and with a laudable desire to do
your utmost for your client, know the temper and worth of so well,
from constantly employing them yourselves. I really believe that to
this circumstance may be attributed the vulgar but very general notion
of your being, as a body, suspicious, distrustful, and over-cautious.
Conscious as I am, sir, of the disadvantage of making such a
declaration to you, under such circumstances, I have come here, because
I wish you distinctly to understand, as my friend Mr. Perker has said,
that I am innocent of the falsehood laid to my charge; and although I
am very well aware of the inestimable value of your assistance, sir, I
must beg to add, that unless you sincerely believe this, I would rather
be deprived of the aid of your talents than have the advantage of them."

Long before the close of this address, which we are bound to say was
of a very prosy character for Mr. Pickwick, the Serjeant had relapsed
into a state of abstraction. After some minutes, however, during which
he had reassumed his pen, he appeared to be again aware of the presence
of his clients; raising his head from the paper, he said, rather
snappishly,

"Who is with me in this case?"

"Mr. Phunky, Serjeant Snubbin," replied the attorney.

"Phunky, Phunky," said the Serjeant, "I never heard the name before. He
must be a very young man."

"Yes, he is a very young man," replied the attorney. "He was only
called the other day. Let me see--he has not been at the Bar eight
years yet."

"Ah, I thought not," said the Serjeant, in that sort of pitying tone in
which ordinary folks would speak of a very helpless little child. "Mr.
Mallard, send round to Mr.--Mr.----"

"Phunky's--Holborn Court, Gray's Inn," interposed Perker. (Holborn
Court, by-the-bye, is South Square now). "Mr. Phunky, and say I should
be glad if he'd step here, a moment."

Mr. Mallard departed to execute his commission; and Serjeant Snubbin
relapsed into abstraction until Mr. Phunky himself was introduced.

Although an infant barrister, he was a full-grown man. He had a
very nervous manner, and a painful hesitation in his speech; it did
not appear to be a natural defect, but seemed rather the result of
timidity, arising from the consciousness of being "kept down" by want
of means, or interests, or connection, or impudence, as the case might
be. He was overawed by the Serjeant, and profoundly courteous to the
attorney.

"I have not had the pleasure of seeing you before, Mr. Phunky," said
Serjeant Snubbin, with a haughty condescension.

Mr. Phunky bowed. He _had_ had the pleasure of seeing the Serjeant, and
of envying him too, with all a poor man's envy, for eight years and a
quarter.

"You are with me in this case, I understand?" said the Serjeant.

If Mr. Phunky had been a rich man, he would have instantly sent for his
clerk to remind him; if he had been a wise one, he would have applied
his forefinger to his forehead, and endeavoured to recollect, whether,
in the multiplicity of his engagements, he had undertaken this one, or
not; but as he was neither rich nor wise (in this sense at all events)
he turned red, and bowed.

"Have you read the papers, Mr. Phunky?" inquired the Serjeant.

Here again, Mr. Phunky should have professed to have forgotten all
about the merits of the case; but as he had read such papers as had
been laid before him in the course of the action, and had thought of
nothing else, waking, or sleeping, throughout the two months during
which he had been retained as Mr. Serjeant Snubbin's junior, he turned
a deeper red, and bowed again.

"This is Mr. Pickwick," said the Serjeant, waving his pen in the
direction in which that gentleman was standing.

Mr. Phunky bowed to Mr. Pickwick with a reverence which a first client
must ever awaken; and again inclined his head towards his leader.

"Perhaps you will take Mr. Pickwick away," said the Serjeant,
"and--and--and--hear anything Mr. Pickwick may wish to communicate.
We shall have a consultation, of course." With this hint that he had
been interrupted quite long enough, Mr. Serjeant Snubbin, who had been
gradually growing more and more abstracted, applied his glass to his
eyes for an instant, bowed slightly round, and was once more deeply
immersed in the case before him: which arose out of an interminable
lawsuit, originating in the act of an individual, deceased a century
or so ago, who had stopped up a pathway leading from some place which
nobody ever came from, to some other place which nobody ever went to.

Mr. Phunky would not hear of passing through any door until Mr.
Pickwick and his solicitor had passed through before him, so it was
some time before they got into the Square; and when they did reach it,
they walked up and down, and held a long conference, the result of
which was, that it was a very difficult matter to say how the verdict
would go; that nobody could presume to calculate on the issue of an
action; that it was very lucky they had prevented the other party from
getting Serjeant Snubbin; and other topics of doubt and consolation,
common in such a position of affairs.

Mr. Weller was then roused by his master from a sweet sleep of an
hour's duration; and, bidding adieu to Lowten, they returned to the
City.



CHAPTER IV

[Illustration]

  _Describes, far more fully than the Court Newsman ever did, a
    Bachelor's Party, given by Mr. Bob Sawyer at his Lodgings in the
    Borough_


There is a repose about Lant Street, in the Borough, which sheds a
gentle melancholy upon the soul. There are always a good many houses to
let in the street: it is a by-street too, and its dulness is soothing.
A house in Lant Street would not come within the denomination of a
first-rate residence, in the strict acceptation of the term; but it
is a most desirable spot nevertheless. If a man wished to abstract
himself from the world--to remove himself from within the reach of
temptation--to place himself beyond the possibility of any inducement
to look out of the window--he should by all means go to Lant Street.

In this happy retreat are colonised a few clear-starchers, a sprinkling
of journeymen bookbinders, one or two prison agents for the Insolvent
Court, several small housekeepers who are employed in the docks, a
handful of mantua-makers, and a seasoning of jobbing tailors. The
majority of the inhabitants either direct their energies to the letting
of furnished apartments, or devote themselves to the healthful and
invigorating pursuit of mangling. The chief features in the still life
of the street are green shutters, lodging-bills, brass door-plates,
and bell-handles; the principal specimens of animated nature, the
pot-boy, the muffin youth, and the baked-potato man. The population
is migratory, usually disappearing on the verge of quarter-day, and
generally by night. His Majesty's revenues are seldom collected in this
happy valley; the rents are dubious; and the water communication is
very frequently cut off.

Mr. Bob Sawyer embellished one side of the fire, in his first-floor
front, early in the evening for which he had invited Mr. Pickwick; and
Mr. Ben Allen the other. The preparations for the reception of visitors
appeared to be completed. The umbrellas in the passage had been heaped
into the little corner outside the back-parlour door; the bonnet and
shawl of the landlady's servant had been removed from the banisters;
there were not more than two pairs of pattens on the street-door mat,
and the kitchen candle, with a very long snuff, burnt cheerfully on the
ledge of the staircase window. Mr. Bob Sawyer had himself purchased
the spirits at a wine vaults in High Street, and had returned home
preceding the bearer thereof, to preclude the possibility of their
delivery at the wrong house. The punch was ready-made in a red pan in
the bedroom; a little table, covered with a green baize cloth, had
been borrowed from the parlour, to play cards on; and the glasses of
the establishment, together with those which had been borrowed for the
occasion from the public-house, were all drawn up in a tray, which was
deposited on the landing outside the door.

Notwithstanding the highly satisfactory nature of all these
arrangements, there was a cloud on the countenance of Mr. Bob Sawyer,
as he sat by the fireside. There was a sympathising expression, too, in
the features of Mr. Ben Allen, as he gazed intently on the coals; and a
tone of melancholy in his voice, as he said, after a long silence:

"Well, it _is_ unlucky she should have taken it in her head to turn
sour, just on this occasion. She might at least have waited till
to-morrow."

"That's her malevolence, that's her malevolence," returned Mr. Bob
Sawyer, vehemently. "She says that if I can afford to give a party I
ought to be able to pay her confounded 'little bill.'"

"How long has it been running?" inquired Mr. Ben Allen. A bill,
by-the-bye, is the most extraordinary locomotive engine that the genius
of man ever produced. It would keep on running during the longest
lifetime, without ever once stopping of its own accord.

"Only a quarter, and a month or so," replied Mr. Bob Sawyer.

Ben Allen coughed hopelessly, and directed a searching look between the
two top bars of the stove.

"It'll be a deuced unpleasant thing if she takes it into her head to
let out, when those fellows are here, won't it?" said Mr. Ben Allen at
length.

"Horrible," replied Bob Sawyer, "horrible."

A low tap was heard at the room door. Mr. Bob Sawyer looked expressively
at his friend, and bade the tapper come in; whereupon a dirty slipshod
girl in black cotton stockings, who might have passed for the neglected
daughter of a superannuated dustman in very reduced circumstances,
thrust in her head, and said,

"Please, Mister Sawyer, Missis Raddle wants to speak to _you_."

Before Mr. Bob Sawyer could return any answer, the girl suddenly
disappeared with a jerk, as if somebody had given her a violent pull
behind; this mysterious exit was no sooner accomplished, than there
was another tap at the door--a smart pointed tap, which seemed to say,
"Here I am, and in I'm coming."

Mr. Bob Sawyer glanced at his friend with a look of abject apprehension,
and once more cried "Come in."

The permission was not at all necessary, for, before Mr. Bob Sawyer had
uttered the words, a little fierce woman bounced into the room, all in
a tremble with passion, and pale with rage.

"Now, Mr. Sawyer," said the little fierce woman, trying to appear very
calm, "if you'll have the kindness to settle that little bill of mine
I'll thank you, because I've got my rent to pay this afternoon, and
my landlord's a waiting below now." Here the little woman rubbed her
hands, and looked steadily over Mr. Bob Sawyer's head, at the wall
behind him.

"I am very sorry to put you to any inconvenience, Mrs. Raddle," said
Bob Sawyer, deferentially, "but----"

"Oh, it isn't any inconvenience," replied the little woman, with a
shrill titter. "I didn't want it particular before to-day; leastways,
as it has to go to my landlord directly, it was as well for you to
keep it as me. You promised me this afternoon, Mr. Sawyer, and every
gentleman as has ever lived here, has kept his word, sir, as of course
anybody as calls himself a gentleman, does." Mrs. Raddle tossed her
head, bit her lips, rubbed her hands harder, and looked at the wall
more steadily than ever. It was plain to see, as Mr. Bob Sawyer
remarked in a style of eastern allegory on a subsequent occasion, that
she was "getting the steam up."

[Illustration: _"If you'll have the kindness to settle that little bill
of mine I'll thank you"_]

"I am very sorry, Mrs. Raddle," said Bob Sawyer with all imaginable
humility, "but the fact is that I have been disappointed in the City
to-day."--Extraordinary place, that City. An astonishing number of men
always _are_ getting disappointed there.

"Well, Mr. Sawyer," said Mrs. Raddle, planting herself firmly on a
purple cauliflower in the Kidderminster carpet, "and what's that to me,
sir?"

"I--I have no doubt, Mrs. Raddle," said Bob Sawyer, blinking this last
question, "that before the middle of next week we shall be able to set
ourselves quite square, and go on, on a better system afterwards."

This was all Mrs. Raddle wanted. She had bustled up to the apartment of
the unlucky Bob Sawyer, so bent upon going into a passion, that in all
probability payment would have rather disappointed her than otherwise.
She was in excellent order for a little relaxation of the kind: having
just exchanged a few introductory compliments with Mr. R. in the front
kitchen.

"Do you suppose, Mr. Sawyer," said Mrs. Raddle, elevating her voice for
the information of the neighbours, "do you suppose that I'm a-going
day after day to let a fellar occupy my lodgings as never thinks of
paying his rent, nor even the very money laid out for the fresh butter
and lump sugar that's bought for his breakfast, and the very milk
that's took in, at the street door? Do you suppose a hard-working and
industrious woman as has lived in this street for twenty year (ten year
over the way, and nine year and three-quarter in this very house) has
nothing else to do but to work herself to death after a parcel of lazy
idle fellars, that are always smoking and drinking, and lounging, when
they ought to be glad to turn their hands to anything that would help
them to pay their bills? Do you----"

"My good soul," interposed Mr. Benjamin Allen, soothingly.

"Have the goodness to keep your observashuns to yourself, sir, I beg,"
said Mrs. Raddle, suddenly arresting the rapid torrent of her speech,
and addressing the third party with impressive slowness and solemnity.
"I am not aweer, sir, that you have any right to address your
conversation to me. I don't think I let these apartments to you, sir."

"No, you certainly did not," said Mr. Benjamin Allen.

"Very good, sir," responded Mrs. Raddle, with lofty politeness. "Then
p'raps, sir, you'll confine yourself to breaking the arms and legs of
the poor people in the hospitals, and keep yourself _to_ yourself, sir,
or there may be some persons here as will make you, sir."

"But you are such an unreasonable woman," remonstrated Mr. Benjamin
Allen.

"I beg your parding, young man," said Mrs. Raddle, in a cold
perspiration of anger. "But will you have the goodness just to call me
that again, sir?"

"I didn't make use of the word in any invidious sense, ma'am," replied
Mr. Benjamin Allen, growing somewhat uneasy on his own account.

"I beg your parding, young man," demanded Mrs. Raddle in a louder and
more imperative tone. "But who do you call a woman? Did you make that
remark to me, sir?"

"Why, bless my heart!" said Mr. Benjamin Allen.

"Did you apply that name to me, I ask of you, sir?" interrupted Mrs.
Raddle, with intense fierceness, throwing the door wide open.

"Why, of course I did," replied Mr. Benjamin Allen.

"Yes, of course you did," said Mrs. Raddle, backing gradually to the
door, and raising her voice to its loudest pitch, for the special
behoof of Mr. Raddle in the kitchen. "Yes, of course you did! And
everybody knows that they may safely insult me in my own 'ouse while my
husband sits sleeping down-stairs, and taking no more notice than if I
was a dog in the streets. He ought to be ashamed of himself (here Mrs.
Raddle sobbed) to allow his wife to be treated in this way by a parcel
of young cutters and carvers of live people's bodies, that disgraces
the lodgings (another sob), and leaving her exposed to all manner of
abuse; a base, faint-hearted, timorous wretch, that's afraid to come
up-stairs, and face the ruffinly creatures--that's afraid--that's
afraid to come!" Mrs. Raddle paused to listen whether the repetition of
the taunt had roused her better half; and, finding that it had not been
successful, proceeded to descend the stairs with sobs innumerable: when
there came a loud double knock at the street door: whereupon she burst
into an hysterical fit of weeping, accompanied with dismal moans, which
was prolonged until the knock had been repeated six times, when, in an
uncontrollable burst of mental agony, she threw down all the umbrellas,
and disappeared into the back parlour, closing the door after her with
an awful crash.

"Does Mr. Sawyer live here?" said Mr. Pickwick, when the door was
opened.

"Yes," said the girl, "first floor. It's the door straight afore you
when you gets to the top of the stairs." Having given this instruction,
the handmaid, who had been brought up among the aboriginal inhabitants
of Southwark, disappeared, with the candle in her hand, down the
kitchen stairs: perfectly satisfied that she had done everything that
could possibly be required of her under the circumstances.

Mr. Snodgrass, who entered last, secured the street door, after several
ineffectual efforts, by putting up the chain; and the friends stumbled
up-stairs, where they were received by Mr. Bob Sawyer, who had been
afraid to go down, lest he should be waylaid by Mrs. Raddle.

"How are you?" said the discomfited student. "Glad to see you,--take
care of the glasses." This caution was addressed to Mr. Pickwick, who
had put his hat in the tray.

"Dear me," said Mr. Pickwick, "I beg your pardon."

"Don't mention it, don't mention it," said Bob Sawyer. "I'm rather
confined for room here, but you must put up with all that, when you
come to see a young bachelor. Walk in. You've seen this gentleman
before, I think?" Mr. Pickwick shook hands with Mr. Benjamin Allen, and
his friends followed his example. They had scarcely taken their seats
when there was another double knock.

"I hope that's Jack Hopkins!" said Mr. Bob Sawyer. "Hush! Yes, it is.
Come up, Jack; come up."

A heavy footstep was heard upon the stairs, and Jack Hopkins presented
himself. He wore a black velvet waistcoat, with thunder-and-lightning
buttons; and a blue striped shirt, with a white false collar.

"You're late, Jack," said Mr. Benjamin Allen.

"Been detained at Bartholomew's," replied Hopkins.

"Anything new?"

"No, nothing particular. Rather a good accident brought into the
casualty ward."

"What was that, sir?" inquired Mr. Pickwick.

"Only a man fallen out of a four pair of stairs' window;--but it's a
very fair case--very fair case indeed."

"Do you mean that the patient is in a fair way to recover?" inquired
Mr. Pickwick.

"No," replied Hopkins, carelessly. "No, I should rather say he wouldn't.
There must be a splendid operation though, to-morrow--magnificent sight
if Slasher does it."

"You consider Mr. Slasher a good operator?" said Mr. Pickwick.

"Best alive," replied Hopkins. "Took a boy's leg out of the socket last
week--boy ate five apples and a gingerbread cake--exactly two minutes
after it was all over, boy said he wouldn't lie there to be made game
of, and he'd tell his mother if they didn't begin."

"Dear me!" said Mr. Pickwick, astonished.

"Pooh! That's nothing, that ain't," said Jack Hopkins. "Is it, Bob?"

"Nothing at all," replied Mr. Bob Sawyer.

"By-the-bye, Bob," said Hopkins, with a scarcely perceptible glance at
Mr. Pickwick's attentive face, "we had a curious accident last night. A
child was brought in, who had swallowed a necklace."

"Swallowed what, sir?" interrupted Mr. Pickwick.

"A necklace," replied Jack Hopkins. "Not all at once, you know, that
would be too much--_you_ couldn't swallow that, if the child did--eh,
Mr. Pickwick, ha! ha!" Mr. Hopkins appeared highly gratified with his
own pleasantry; and continued. "No, the way was this. Child's parents
were poor people who lived in a court. Child's eldest sister bought a
necklace; common necklace, made of large black wooden beads. Child,
being fond of toys, cribbed the necklace, hid it, played with it, cut
the string, and swallowed a bead. Child thought it capital fun, went
back next day, and swallowed another bead."

"Bless my heart," said Mr. Pickwick, "what a dreadful thing! I beg your
pardon, sir. Go on."

"Next day child swallowed two beads; the day after that, he treated
himself to three, and so on, till in a week's time he had got through
the necklace--five-and-twenty beads in all. The sister, who was an
industrious girl, and seldom treated herself to a bit of finery, cried
her eyes out, at the loss of the necklace; looked high and low for it;
but, I needn't say, didn't find it. A few days afterwards the family
were at dinner--baked shoulder of mutton, and potatoes under it--the
child, who wasn't hungry, was playing about the room, when suddenly
there was heard a devil of a noise, like a small hailstorm. 'Don't do
that, my boy,' said the father. 'I ain't a doin' nothing,' said the
child. 'Well, don't do it again,' said the father. There was a short
silence, and then the noise again began, worse than ever. 'If you don't
mind what I say, my boy,' said the father, 'you'll find yourself in
bed, in something less than a pig's whisper.' He gave the child a shake
to make him obedient, and such a rattling ensued as nobody ever heard
before. 'Why, damme, it's _in_ the child!' said the father, 'he's got
the croup in the wrong place!' 'No I haven't, father,' said the child,
beginning to cry, 'it's the necklace; I swallowed it, father.' The
father caught the child up, and ran with him to the hospital: the beads
in the boy's stomach rattling all the way with the jolting; and the
people looking up in the air, and down in the cellars to see where the
unusual sound came from. He's in the hospital now," said Jack Hopkins,
"and he makes such a devil of a noise when he walks about, that they're
obliged to muffle him in a watchman's coat, for fear he should wake the
patients!"

"That's the most extraordinary case I ever heard of," said Mr.
Pickwick, with an emphatic blow on the table.

"Oh, that's nothing," said Jack Hopkins; "is it, Bob?"

"Certainly not," replied Mr. Bob Sawyer.

"Very singular things occur in our profession, I can assure you, sir,"
said Hopkins.

"So I should be disposed to imagine," replied Mr. Pickwick.

Another knock at the door, announced a large-headed young man in a
black wig, who brought with him a scorbutic youth in a long stock. The
next comer was a gentleman in a shirt emblazoned with pink anchors,
who was closely followed by a pale youth with a plated watchguard. The
arrival of a prim personage in clean linen and cloth boots rendered
the party complete. The little table with the green baize cover was
wheeled out; the first instalment of punch was brought in, in a white
jug; and the succeeding three hours were devoted to _vingt-et-un_ at
sixpence a dozen, which was only once interrupted by a slight dispute
between the scorbutic youth and the gentleman with the pink anchors; in
the course of which, the scorbutic youth intimated a burning desire to
pull the nose of the gentleman with the emblems of hope; in reply to
which, that individual expressed his decided unwillingness to accept
of any "sauce" on gratuitous terms, either from the irascible young
gentleman with the scorbutic countenance, or any other person who was
ornamented with a head.

When the last "natural" had been declared, and the profit and loss
account of fish and sixpences adjusted, to the satisfaction of all
parties, Mr. Bob Sawyer rang for supper, and the visitors squeezed
themselves into corners while it was getting ready.

It was not so easily got ready as some people may imagine. First of
all, it was necessary to awaken the girl, who had fallen asleep with
her face on the kitchen table; this took a little time, and, even when
she did answer the bell, another quarter of an hour was consumed in
fruitless endeavours to impart to her a faint and distant glimmering
of reason. The man to whom the order for the oysters had been sent,
had not been told to open them; it is a very difficult thing to open
an oyster with a limp knife or a two-pronged fork; and very little was
done in this way. Very little of the beef was done either; and the ham
(which was also from the German-sausage shop round the corner) was in a
similar predicament. However, there was plenty of porter in a tin can;
and the cheese went a great way, for it was very strong. So upon the
whole, perhaps, the supper was quite as good as such matters usually
are.

After supper, another jug of punch was put upon the table, together
with a paper of cigars, and a couple of bottles of spirits. Then there
was an awful pause; and this awful pause was occasioned by a very
common occurrence in this sort of place, but a very embarrassing one
notwithstanding.

The fact is, the girl was washing the glasses. The establishment
boasted four; we do not record the circumstance as at all derogatory
to Mrs. Raddle, for there never was a lodging-house yet, that was not
short of glasses. The landlady's glasses were little thin blown glass
tumblers, and those which had been borrowed from the public-house were
great, dropsical, bloated articles, each supported on a huge gouty
leg. This would have been in itself sufficient to have possessed the
company with the real state of affairs; but the young woman of all work
had prevented the possibility of any misconception arising in the mind
of any gentleman upon the subject, by forcibly dragging every man's
glass away, long before he had finished his beer, and audibly stating,
despite the winks and interruptions of Mr. Bob Sawyer, that it was to
be conveyed down-stairs, and washed forthwith.

It is a very ill wind that blows nobody any good. The prim man in the
cloth boots, who had been unsuccessfully attempting to make a joke
during the whole time the round game lasted, saw his opportunity,
and availed himself of it. The instant the glasses disappeared, he
commenced a long story about a great public character, whose name he
had forgotten, making a particularly happy reply to another eminent
and illustrious individual whom he had never been able to identify.
He enlarged at some length and with great minuteness upon divers
collateral circumstances, distantly connected with the anecdote in
hand, but for the life of him he couldn't recollect at that precise
moment what the anecdote was, although he had been in the habit of
telling the story with great applause for the last ten years.

"Dear me," said the prim man in the cloth boots, "it is a very
extraordinary circumstance."

"I am sorry you have forgotten it," said Mr. Bob Sawyer, glancing
eagerly at the door, as he thought he heard the noise of glasses
jingling; "very sorry."

"So am I," responded the prim man, "because I know it would have
afforded so much amusement. Never mind; I dare say I shall manage to
recollect it, in the course of half an hour or so."

The prim man arrived at this point, just as the glasses came back, when
Mr. Bob Sawyer, who had been absorbed in attention during the whole
time, said he should very much like to hear the end of it, for, so far
as it went, it was, without exception, the very best story he had ever
heard.

The sight of the tumblers restored Bob Sawyer to a degree of equanimity
which he had not possessed since his interview with his landlady. His
face brightened up, and he began to feel quite convivial.

"Now, Betsy," said Mr. Bob Sawyer, with great suavity, and dispersing,
at the same time, the tumultuous little mob of glasses the girl had
collected in the centre of the table: "now, Betsy, the warm water: be
brisk, there's a good girl."

"You can't have no warm water," replied Betsy.

"No warm water!" exclaimed Mr. Bob Sawyer.

"No," said the girl, with a shake of the head which expressed a more
decided negative than the most copious language could have conveyed.
"Missis Raddle said you warn't to have none."

The surprise depicted on the countenances of his guests imparted new
courage to the host.

"Bring up the warm water instantly--instantly!" said Mr. Bob Sawyer,
with desperate sternness.

"No. I can't," replied the girl; "Missis Raddle raked out the kitchen
fire afore she went to bed, and locked up the kittle."

"Oh, never mind; never mind. Pray don't disturb yourself about such
a trifle," said Mr. Pickwick, observing the conflict of Bob Sawyer's
passions, as depicted in his countenance, "cold water will do very
well."

"Oh, admirably," said Mr. Benjamin Allen.

"My landlady is subject to some slight attacks of mental derangement,"
remarked Bob Sawyer with a ghastly smile; "and I fear I must give her
warning."

"No, don't," said Ben Allen.

"I fear I must," said Bob, with heroic firmness. "I'll pay her what
I owe her, and give her warning to-morrow morning." Poor fellow! how
devoutly he wished he could!

Mr. Bob Sawyer's heart-sickening attempts to rally under this last
blow, communicated a dispiriting influence on the company, the greater
part of whom, with the view of raising their spirits, attached
themselves with extra cordiality to the cold brandy and water, the
first perceptible effects of which were displayed in a renewal of
hostilities between the scorbutic youth and the gentleman in the
shirt. The belligerents vented their feelings of mutual contempt, for
some time, in a variety of frownings and snortings, until at last
the scorbutic youth felt it necessary to come to a more explicit
understanding on the matter, when the following clear understanding
took place.

"Sawyer," said the scorbutic youth, in a loud voice.

"Well, Noddy," replied Mr. Bob Sawyer.

"I should be very sorry, Sawyer," said Mr. Noddy, "to create any
unpleasantness at any friend's table, and much less at yours,
Sawyer--very; but I must take this opportunity of informing Mr. Gunter
that he is no gentleman."

"And _I_ should be very sorry, Sawyer, to create any disturbance in
the street in which you reside," said Mr. Gunter, "but I'm afraid I
shall be under the necessity of alarming the neighbours by throwing the
person who has just spoken, out o' window."

"What do you mean by that, sir?" inquired Mr. Noddy.

"What I say, sir," replied Mr. Gunter.

"I should like to see you do it, sir," said Mr. Noddy.

"You shall feel me do it in half a minute, sir," replied Mr. Gunter.

"I request that you'll favour me with your card, sir," said Mr. Noddy.

"I'll do nothing of the kind, sir," replied Mr. Gunter.

"Why not, sir?" inquired Mr. Noddy.

"Because you'll stick it up over your chimney-piece, and delude your
visitors into the false belief that a gentleman has been to see you,
sir," replied Mr. Gunter.

"Sir, a friend of mine shall wait on you in the morning," said Mr.
Noddy.

"Sir, I'm very much obliged to you for the caution, and I'll leave
particular directions with the servant to lock up the spoons," replied
Mr. Gunter.

At this point the remainder of the guests interposed, and remonstrated
with both parties on the impropriety of their conduct; on which Mr.
Noddy begged to state that his father was quite as respectable as Mr.
Gunter's father; to which Mr. Gunter replied that his father was to
the full as respectable as Mr. Noddy's father, and that his father's
son was as good a man as Mr. Noddy, any day in the week. As this
announcement seemed the prelude to a recommencement of the dispute,
there was another interference on the part of the company; and a vast
quantity of talking and clamouring ensued, in the course of which Mr.
Noddy gradually allowed his feelings to overpower him, and professed
that he had ever entertained a devoted personal attachment towards Mr.
Gunter. To this Mr. Gunter replied that, upon the whole, he rather
preferred Mr. Noddy to his own brother; on hearing which admission, Mr.
Noddy magnanimously rose from his seat, and proffered his hand to Mr.
Gunter. Mr. Gunter grasped it with affecting fervour; and everybody
said that the whole dispute had been conducted in a manner which was
highly honourable to both parties concerned.

"Now," said Jack Hopkins, "just to set us going again, Bob, I don't
mind singing a song." And Hopkins, incited thereto by tumultuous
applause, plunged himself at once into "The King, God bless him," which
he sang as loud as he could, to a novel air, compounded of the "Bay of
Biscay," and "A Frog he would." The chorus was the essence of the song;
and, as each gentleman sang it to the tune he knew best, the effect was
very striking indeed.

It was at the end of the chorus to the first verse, that Mr. Pickwick
held up his hand in a listening attitude, and said, as soon as silence
was restored:

"Hush! I beg your pardon. I thought I heard somebody calling from
up-stairs."

A profound silence immediately ensued; and Mr. Bob Sawyer was observed
to turn pale.

"I think I hear it now," said Mr. Pickwick. "Have the goodness to open
the door."

The door was no sooner opened than all doubt on the subject was removed.

"Mr. Sawyer! Mr. Sawyer!" screamed a voice from the two-pair landing.

"It's my landlady," said Bob Sawyer, looking round him with great
dismay. "Yes, Mrs. Raddle."

"What do you mean by this, Mr. Sawyer?" replied the voice, with great
shrillness and rapidity of utterance. "Ain't it enough to be swindled
out of one's rent, and money lent out of pocket besides, and abused and
insulted by your friends that dares to call themselves men: without
having the house turned out of window, and noise enough made to bring
the fire-engines here, at two o'clock in the morning? Turn them
wretches away."

"You ought to be ashamed of yourselves," said the voice of Mr. Raddle,
which appeared to proceed from beneath some distant bed-clothes.

"Ashamed of themselves!" said Mrs. Raddle. "Why don't you go down and
knock 'em every one down-stairs? You would if you was a man."

"I should if I was a dozen men, my dear," replied Mr. Raddle,
pacifically, "but they've the advantage of me in numbers, my dear."

"Ugh, you coward!" replied Mrs. Raddle, with supreme contempt. "_Do_
you mean to turn them wretches out, or not, Mr. Sawyer?"

"They're going, Mrs. Raddle, they're going," said the miserable Bob.
"I am afraid you'd better go," said Mr. Bob Sawyer to his friends. "I
_thought_ you were making too much noise."

"It's a very unfortunate thing," said the prim man. "Just as we were
getting so comfortable too!" The prim man was just beginning to have a
dawning recollection of the story he had forgotten.

"It's hardly to be borne," said the prim man, looking round. "Hardly to
be borne, is it?"

"Not to be endured," replied Jack Hopkins; "let's have the other verse,
Bob. Come, here goes!"

"No, no, Jack, don't," interrupted Bob Sawyer; "it's a capital song,
but I am afraid we had better not have the other verse. They are very
violent people, the people of the house."

"Shall I step up-stairs and pitch into the landlord?" inquired Hopkins,
"or keep on ringing the bell, or go and groan on the staircase? You may
command me, Bob."

"I am very much indebted to you for your friendship and good nature,
Hopkins," said the wretched Mr. Bob Sawyer, "but I think, the best plan
to avoid any further dispute is for us to break up at once."

"Now Mr. Sawyer!" screamed the shrill voice of Mrs. Raddle, "_are_ them
brutes going?"

"They're only looking for their hats, Mrs. Raddle," said Bob; "they are
going directly."

"Going!" said Mrs. Raddle, thrusting her night-cap over the banisters
just as Mr. Pickwick, followed by Mr. Tupman, emerged from the
sitting-room. "Going! what did they ever come for?"

"My dear ma'am," remonstrated Mr. Pickwick, looking up.

"Get along with you, you old wretch!" replied Mrs. Raddle, hastily
withdrawing the night-cap. "Old enough to be his grandfather, you
willin! You're worse than any of 'em."

Mr. Pickwick found it in vain to protest his innocence, so hurried
down-stairs into the street, whither he was closely followed by Mr.
Tupman, Mr. Winkle, and Mr. Snodgrass. Mr. Ben Allen, who was dismally
depressed with spirits and agitation, accompanied them as far as
London Bridge, and in the course of the walk confided to Mr. Winkle,
as an especially eligible person to entrust the secret to, that he was
resolved to cut the throat of any gentleman except Mr. Bob Sawyer,
who should aspire to the affections of his sister Arabella. Having
expressed his determination to perform this painful duty of a brother
with proper firmness, he burst into tears, knocked his hat over his
eyes, and, making the best of his way back, knocked double knocks at
the door of the Borough Market office, and took short naps on the steps
alternately, until daybreak, under the firm impression that he lived
there, and had forgotten the key.

The visitors having all departed, in compliance with the rather
pressing request of Mrs. Raddle, the luckless Mr. Bob Sawyer was
left alone to meditate on the probable events of to-morrow, and the
pleasures of the evening.



CHAPTER V

[Illustration]

  _Mr. Weller the Elder delivers some Critical Sentiments respecting
    Literary Composition; and, assisted by his son Samuel, pays a
    small Instalment of Retaliation to the Account of the Reverend
    Gentleman with the Red Nose_


The morning of the thirteenth of February, which the readers of this
authentic narrative know, as well as we do, to have been the day
immediately preceding that which was appointed for the trial of Mrs.
Bardell's action, was a busy time for Mr. Samuel Weller, who was
perpetually engaged in travelling from the George and Vulture to Mr.
Perker's chambers and back again, from and between the hours of nine
o'clock in the morning and two in the afternoon, both inclusive. Not
that there was anything whatever to be done, for the consultation had
taken place, and the course of proceeding to be adopted, had been
finally determined on; but Mr. Pickwick being in a most extreme state
of excitement, persevered in constantly sending small notes to his
attorney, merely containing the inquiry, "Dear Perker. Is all going
on well?" to which Mr. Perker invariably forwarded the reply, "Dear
Pickwick. As well as possible;" the fact being, as we have already
hinted, that there was nothing whatever to go on, either well or ill,
until the sitting of the court on the following morning.

But people who go voluntarily to law, or are taken forcibly there,
for the first time, may be allowed to labour under some temporary
irritation and anxiety: and Sam, with a due allowance for the
frailties of human nature, obeyed all his master's behests with that
imperturbable good humour and unruffable composure which formed one of
his most striking and amiable characteristics.

Sam had solaced himself with a most agreeable little dinner, and was
waiting at the bar for the glass of warm mixture in which Mr. Pickwick
had requested him to drown the fatigues of his morning's walks, when a
young boy of about three feet high, or thereabouts, in a hairy cap and
fustian over-alls, whose garb bespoke a laudable ambition to attain in
time the elevation of an hostler, entered the passage of the George and
Vulture, and looked first up the stairs, and then along the passage,
and then into the bar, as if in search of somebody to whom he bore a
commission; whereupon the barmaid, conceiving it not improbable that
the said commission might be directed to the tea or table spoons of the
establishment, accosted the boy with:

"Now, young man, what do _you_ want?"

"Is there anybody here, named Sam?" inquired the youth, in a loud voice
of treble quality.

[Illustration: "_Is there anybody here, named Sam?_"]

"What's the t'other name?" said Sam Weller, looking round.

"How should I know?" briskly replied the young gentleman below the
hairy cap.

"You're a sharp boy, you are," said Mr. Weller; "only I wouldn't show
that wery fine edge too much, if I was you, in case anybody took it
off. What do you mean by comin' to a hot-el and asking arter Sam, vith
as much politeness as a vild Indian?"

"'Cos an old gen'l'm'n told me to," replied the boy.

"What old gen'l'm'n?" inquired Sam, with deep disdain.

"Him as drives a Ipswich coach, and uses our parlour," rejoined the
boy. "He told me yesterday mornin' to come to the George and Wultur
this arternoon, and ask for Sam."

"It's my father, my dear," said Mr. Weller, turning with an explanatory
air to the young lady in the bar; "blessed if I think he hardly knows
wot my other name is. Vell, young brockiley sprout, wot then?"

"Why, then," said the boy, "you was to come to him at six o'clock to
our 'ouse, 'cos he wants to see you--Blue Boar, Leaden'all Markit.
Shall I say you're comin'?"

"You _may_ wenture on that 'ere statement, sir," replied Sam. And thus
empowered, the young gentleman walked away, awakening all the echoes in
George Yard, as he did so, with several chaste and extremely correct
imitations of a drover's whistle, delivered in a tone of peculiar
richness and volume.

Mr. Weller having obtained leave of absence from Mr. Pickwick, who,
in his then state of excitement and worry was by no means displeased
at being left alone, set forth, long before the appointed hour, and
having plenty of time at his disposal, sauntered down as far as the
Mansion House, where he paused and contemplated, with a face of great
calmness and philosophy, the numerous cads and drivers of short stages
who assemble near that famous place of resort, to the great terror and
confusion of the old-lady population of these realms. Having loitered
here, for half an hour or so, Mr. Weller turned, and began wending his
way towards Leadenhall Market, through a variety of by-streets and
courts. As he was sauntering away his spare time, and stopped to look
at almost every object that met his gaze, it is by no means surprising
that Mr. Weller should have paused before a small stationer's and
print-seller's window; but without further explanation it does appear
surprising that his eyes should have no sooner rested on certain
pictures which were exposed for sale therein, than he gave a sudden
start, smote his right leg with great vehemence, and exclaimed with
energy, "If it hadn't been for this, I should ha' forgot all about it,
till it was too late!"

The particular picture on which Sam Weller's eyes were fixed, as he
said this, was a highly coloured representation of a couple of human
hearts, skewered together with an arrow, cooking before a cheerful
fire, while a male and female cannibal in modern attire: the gentleman
being clad in a blue coat and white trousers, and the lady in a deep
red pelisse with a parasol of the same: were approaching the meal with
hungry eyes, up a serpentine gravel path leading thereunto. A decidedly
indelicate young gentleman, in a pair of wings and nothing else, was
depicted as superintending the cooking; a representation of the spire
of the church in Langham Place, London, appeared in the distance; and
the whole formed a "valentine," of which, as a written inscription in
the window testified, there was a large assortment within, which the
shopkeeper pledged himself to dispose of, to his countrymen generally,
at the reduced rate of one and sixpence each.

"I should ha' forgot it; I should certainly ha' forgot it!" said Sam;
so saying, he at once stepped into the stationer's shop, and requested
to be served with a sheet of the best gilt-edged letter-paper, and
a hard-nibbed pen which could be warranted not to splutter. These
articles having been promptly supplied, he walked on direct towards
Leadenhall Market at a good round pace, very different from his recent
lingering one. Looking round him, he there beheld a sign-board on
which the painter's art had delineated something remotely resembling
a cerulean elephant with an aquiline nose in lieu of trunk. Rightly
conjecturing that this was the Blue Boar himself, he stepped into the
house, and inquired concerning his parent.

"He won't be here this three-quarters of an hour or more," said the
young lady who superintended the domestic arrangements of the Blue Boar.

"Wery good, my dear," replied Sam. "Let me have nine penn'orth o'
brandy and water luke, and the inkstand, will you, miss?"

The brandy and water luke, and the inkstand, having been carried into
the little parlour, and the young lady having carefully flattened down
the coals to prevent their blazing, and carried away the poker to
preclude the possibility of the fire being stirred, without the full
privity and concurrence of the Blue Boar being first had and obtained,
Sam Weller sat himself down in a box near the stove, and pulled out the
sheet of gilt-edged letter-paper, and the hard-nibbed pen. Then looking
carefully at the pen to see that there were no hairs in it, and dusting
down the table, so that there might be no crumbs of bread under the
paper, Sam tucked up the cuffs of his coat, squared his elbows, and
composed himself to write.

To ladies and gentlemen who are not in the habit of devoting themselves
practically to the science of penmanship, writing a letter is no very
easy task; it being always considered necessary in such cases for
the writer to recline his head on his left arm, so as to place his
eyes as nearly as possible on a level with the paper, while glancing
sideways at the letters he is constructing, and to form with his
tongue imaginary characters to correspond. These motions, although
unquestionably of the greatest assistance to original composition,
retard in some degree the progress of the writer; and Sam had
unconsciously been a full hour and a half writing words in small text,
smearing out wrong letters with his little finger, and putting in new
ones which required going over often to render them visible through
the old blots, when he was roused by the opening of the door and the
entrance of his parent.

"Vell, Sammy," said the father.

"Vell, my Prooshan Blue," responded the son, laying down his pen.
"What's the last bulletin about mother-in-law?"

"'Mrs. Weller passed a very good night, but is uncommon perwerse and
unpleasant this mornin'. Signed upon oath, S. Veller, Esquire, Senior.'
That's the last vun as was issued, Sammy," replied Mr. Weller, untying
his shawl.

"No better yet?" inquired Sam.

"All the symptoms aggerawated," replied Mr. Weller, shaking his
head. "But wot's that, you're a doin' of? Pursuit of knowledge under
difficulties, Sammy?"

"I've done now," said Sam, with slight embarrassment; "I've been a
writin'."

"So I see," replied Mr. Weller. "Not to any young 'ooman, I hope,
Sammy?"

"Why it's no use a sayin' it ain't," replied Sam. "It's a walentine."

"A what!" exclaimed Mr. Weller, apparently horror-stricken by the word.

[Illustration: _"A what!" asked Mr. Weller, apparently horror-stricken
by the word. "A walentine," replied Sam._]

"A walentine," replied Sam.

"Samivel, Samivel," said Mr. Weller, in reproachful accents, "I didn't
think you'd ha' done it. Arter the warnin' you've had o' your father's
wicious propensities; arter all I've said to you upon this here wery
subject; arter actiwally seein' and bein' in the company o' your own
mother-in-law, vich I should ha' thought wos a moral lesson as no man
could never ha' forgotten to his dyin' day! I didn't think you'd ha'
done it, Sammy, I didn't think you'd ha' done it!" These reflections
were too much for the good old man. He raised Sam's tumbler to his lips
and drank off its contents.

"Wot's the matter now?" said Sam.

"Nev'r mind, Sammy," replied Mr. Weller, "it'll be a wery agonizin'
trial to me at my time of life, but I'm pretty tough, that's vun
consolation, as the wery old turkey remarked ven the farmer said he wos
afeerd he should be obliged to kill him for the London market."

"Wot'll be a trial?" inquired Sam.

"To see you married, Sammy--to see you a dilluded wictim, and thinkin'
in your innocence that it's all wery capital," replied Mr. Weller.
"It's a dreadful trial to a father's feelin's, that 'ere, Sammy."

"Nonsense," said Sam. "I ain't a goin' to get married, don't you fret
yourself about that; I know you're a judge of these things. Order in
your pipe, and I'll read you the letter. There!"

We cannot distinctly say whether it was the prospect of the pipe, or
the consolatory reflection that a fatal disposition to get married
ran in the family and couldn't be helped, which calmed Mr. Weller's
feelings, and caused his grief to subside. We should be rather disposed
to say that the result was attained by combining the two sources of
consolation, for he repeated the second in a low tone, very frequently;
ringing the bell meanwhile, to order in the first. He then divested
himself of his upper coat; and lighting the pipe and placing himself in
front of the fire with his back towards it, so that he could feel its
full heat, and recline against the mantelpiece at the same time, turned
towards Sam, and, with a countenance greatly mollified by the softening
influence of tobacco, requested him to "fire away."

Sam dipped his pen into the ink to be ready for any corrections, and
began with a very theatrical air:

"'Lovely----'"

"Stop," said Mr. Weller, ringing the bell. "A double glass o' the
inwariable, my dear."

"Very well, sir," replied the girl; who with great quickness appeared,
vanished, returned, and disappeared.

"They seem to know your ways here," observed Sam.

"Yes," replied his father, "I've been here before, in my time. Go on,
Sammy."

"'Lovely creetur,'" repeated Sam.

"'Tain't in poetry, is it?" interposed his father.

"No, no," replied Sam.

"Wery glad to hear it," said Mr. Weller. "Poetry's unnat'ral; no man
ever talked poetry 'cept a beadle on boxin' day, or Warren's blackin',
or Rowland's oil, or some o' them low fellows; never you let yourself
down to talk poetry, my boy. Begin agin, Sammy."

Mr. Weller resumed his pipe with critical solemnity, and Sam once more
commenced, and read as follows:

"'Lovely creetur i feel myself a damned----'"

"That ain't proper," said Mr. Weller, taking his pipe from his mouth.

"No; it ain't 'damned,'" observed Sam, holding the letter up to the
light, "it's 'shamed,' there's a blot there--'I feel myself ashamed.'"

"Wery good," said Mr. Weller. "Go on."

"'Feel myself ashamed, and completely cir--' I forget what this here
word is," said Sam, scratching his head with the pen, in vain attempts
to remember.

"Why don't you look at it, then?" inquired Mr. Weller.

"So I _am_ a lookin' at it," replied Sam, "but there's another blot.
Here's a 'c,' and a 'i,' and a 'd.'"

"Circumwented, p'raps," suggested Mr. Weller.

"No, it ain't that," said Sam, "circumscribed; that's it."

"That ain't as good a word as circumwented, Sammy," said Mr. Weller,
gravely.

"Think not?" said Sam.

"Nothin' like it," replied his father.

"But don't you think it means more?" inquired Sam.

"Vell, p'raps it is a more tenderer word," said Mr. Weller, after a
moment's reflection. "Go on, Sammy."

"'Feel myself ashamed and completely circumscribed in a dressin' of
you, for you _are_ a nice gal and nothin' but it.'"

"That's a wery pretty sentiment," said the elder Mr. Weller, removing
his pipe to make way for the remark.

"Yes, I think it is rayther good," observed Sam, highly flattered.

"Wot I like in that 'ere style of writin'," said the elder Mr. Weller,
"is that there ain't no callin' names in it--no Wenuses, nor nothin' o'
that kind. Wot's the good o' callin' a young 'ooman a Wenus or a angel,
Sammy?"

"Ah! what, indeed?" replied Sam.

"You might jist as well call her a griffin, or a unicorn, or a king's
arms at once, which is wery well known to be a col-lection o' fabulous
animals," added Mr. Weller.

"Just as well," replied Sam.

"Drive on, Sammy," said Mr. Weller.

Sam complied with the request, and proceeded as follows: his father
continuing to smoke, with a mixed expression of wisdom and complacency,
which was particularly edifying,

"'Afore I see you, I thought all women was alike.'"

"So they are," observed the elder Mr. Weller, parenthetically.

"'But now,' continued Sam, 'now I find what a reg'lar soft-headed,
inkred'lous turnip I must ha' been; for there ain't nobody like you,
though _I_ like you better than nothin' at all.' I thought it best to
make that rayther strong," said Sam, looking up.

Mr. Weller nodded approvingly, and Sam resumed.

"'So I take the privilidge of the day, Mary my dear--as the gen'l'm'n
in difficulties did, ven he walked out of a Sunday--to tell you that
the first and only time I see you, your likeness was took on my hart
in much quicker time and brighter colours than ever a likeness was
took by the profeel macheen (vich p'raps you may have heerd on Mary my
dear) altho it _does_ finish a portrait and put the frame and glass
on complete, with a hook at the end to hang it up by, and all in two
minutes and a quarter.'"

"I am afeerd that werges on the poetical, Sammy," said Mr. Weller,
dubiously.

"No it don't," replied Sam, reading on very quickly, to avoid
contesting the point.

"'Except of me Mary my dear as your walentine and think over what I've
said.--My dear Mary I will now conclude.' That's all," said Sam.

"That's rather a sudden pull up, ain't it, Sammy?" inquired Mr. Weller.

"Not a bit on it," said Sam; "she'll vish there wos more, and that's
the great art o' letter writin'."

"Well," said Mr. Weller, "there's somethin' in that; and I wish your
mother-in-law 'ud only conduct her conwersation on the same gen-teel
principle. Ain't you a goin' to sign it?"

"That's the difficulty," said Sam; "I don't know what _to_ sign it."

"Sign it, Veller," said the oldest surviving proprietor of that name.

"Won't do," said Sam. "Never sign a walentine with your own name."

"Sign it 'Pickvick,' then," said Mr. Weller; "it's a wery good name and
an easy one to spell."

"The wery thing," said Sam. "I _could_ end with a werse; what do you
think?"

"I don't like it, Sam," rejoined Mr. Weller. "I never know'd a
respectable coachman as wrote poetry, 'cept one, as made an affectin'
copy o' werses the night afore he wos hung for a highway robbery; and
_he_ wos only a Cambervell man, so even that's no rule."

But Sam was not to be dissuaded from the poetical idea that had
occurred to him, so he signed the letter,

  "Your love-sick
   Pickwick."

And having folded it in a very intricate manner, squeezed a down-hill
direction in one corner: "To Mary, Housemaid, at Mr. Nupkins's Mayor's,
Ipswich, Suffolk;" and put it into his pocket, wafered, and ready for
the general post. This important business having been transacted, Mr.
Weller the elder proceeded to open that on which he had summoned his
son.

"The first matter relates to your governor, Sammy," said Mr. Weller.
"He's a goin' to be tried to-morrow, ain't he?"

"The trial's a comin' on," replied Sam.

"Vell," said Mr. Weller, "now I s'pose he'll want to call some
witnesses to speak to his character, or p'raps to prove a alleybi. I've
been a turnin' the business over in my mind, and he may make his-self
easy, Sammy. I've got some friends as'll do either for him, but my
adwice 'ud be this here--never mind the character, and stick to the
alleybi. Nothing like a alleybi, Sammy, nothing." Mr. Weller looked
very profound as he delivered this legal opinion; and burying his nose
in his tumbler, winked over the top thereof, at his astonished son.

"Why, what do you mean?" said Sam; "you don't think he's a goin' to be
tried at the Old Bailey, do you?"

"That ain't no part of the present con-sideration, Sammy," replied Mr.
Weller. "Verever he's a goin' to be tried, my boy, a alleybi's the
thing to get him off. Ve got Tom Vildspark off that 'ere manslaughter,
with a alleybi, ven all the big vigs to a man said as nothin' couldn't
save him. And my 'pinion is, Sammy, that if your governor don't prove
a alleybi, he'll be what the Italians call reg'larly flummoxed, and
that's all about it."

As the elder Mr. Weller entertained a firm and unalterable conviction
that the Old Bailey was the supreme court of judicature in this
country, and that its rules and forms of proceeding regulated and
controlled the practice of all other courts of justice whatsoever, he
totally disregarded the assurances and arguments of his son, tending
to show that the alibi was inadmissible; and vehemently protested that
Mr. Pickwick was being "wictimised." Finding that it was of no use to
discuss the matter further, Sam changed the subject, and inquired what
the second topic was, on which his revered parent wished to consult him.

"That's a pint o' domestic policy, Sammy," said Mr. Weller. "This here
Stiggins----"

"Red-nosed man?" inquired Sam.

"The wery same," replied Mr. Weller. "This here red-nosed man, Sammy,
wisits your mother-in-law vith a kindness and constancy as I never see
equalled. He's sitch a friend o' the family, Sammy, that ven he's avay
from us, he can't be comfortable unless he has somethin' to remember us
by."

"And I'd give him somethin' as 'ud turpentine and bees'-vax his memory
for the next ten year or so, if I wos you," interposed Sam.

"Stop a minute," said Mr. Weller; "I wos a going to say, he always
brings now, a flat bottle as holds about a pint and a half and fills it
vith the pine-apple rum afore he goes avay."

"And empties it afore he comes back, I s'pose?" said Sam.

"Clean!" replied Mr. Weller; "never leaves nothin' in it but the cork
and the smell; trust him for that, Sammy. Now, these here fellows,
my boy, are a goin' to-night to get up the monthly meetin' o' the
Brick Lane Branch o' the United Grand Junction Ebenezer Temperance
Association. Your mother-in-law _wos_ a goin', Sammy, but she's got
the rheumatics, and can't; and I, Sammy--I've got the two tickets as
wos sent her." Mr. Weller communicated his secret with great glee, and
winked so indefatigably after doing so, that Sam began to think he must
have got the _tic doloureux_ in his right eye-lid.

"Well?" said that young gentleman.

"Well," continued his progenitor, looking round him very cautiously,
"you and I'll go, punctival to the time. The deputy shepherd won't,
Sammy; the deputy shepherd won't." Here Mr. Weller was seized with a
paroxysm of chuckles, which gradually terminated in as near an approach
to a choke as an elderly gentleman can, with safety, sustain.

"Well, I never see sitch an old ghost in all my born days," exclaimed
Sam, rubbing the old gentleman's back, hard enough to set him on fire
with friction. "What are you a laughin' at, corpilence?"

"Hush! Sammy," said Mr. Weller, looking round him with increased
caution, and speaking in a whisper: "Two friends o' mine, as works
the Oxford Road, and is up to all kinds o' games, has got the deputy
shepherd safe in tow, Sammy; and ven he does come to the Ebenezer
Junction (vich he's sure to do: for they'll see him to the door,
and shove him in if necessary), he'll be as far gone in rum and
water, as ever he wos at the Markis o' Granby, Dorkin', and that's
not sayin' a little neither." And with this, Mr. Weller once more
laughed immoderately, and once more relapsed into a state of partial
suffocation, in consequence.

Nothing could have been more in accordance with Sam Weller's feelings,
than the projected exposure of the real propensities and qualities
of the red-nosed man; and it being very near the appointed hour of
meeting, the father and son took their way at once to Brick Lane: Sam
not forgetting to drop his letter into a general post-office as they
walked along.

The monthly meetings of the Brick Lane Branch of the United Grand
Junction Ebenezer Temperance Association were held in a large room,
pleasantly and airily situated at the top of a safe and commodious
ladder. The president was the straight-walking Mr. Anthony Humm, a
converted fireman, now a schoolmaster, and occasionally an itinerant
preacher; and the secretary was Mr. Jonas Mudge, chandler's-shop
keeper, an enthusiastic and disinterested vessel, who sold tea to the
members. Previous to the commencement of business, the ladies sat upon
forms, and drank tea, till such time as they considered it expedient to
leave off; and a large wooden money-box was conspicuously placed upon
the green baize cloth of the business table, behind which the secretary
stood, and acknowledged, with a gracious smile, every addition to the
rich vein of copper which lay concealed within.

On this particular occasion the women drank tea to a most alarming
extent; greatly to the horror of Mr. Weller senior, who, utterly
regardless of all Sam's admonitory nudgings, stared about him in every
direction with the most undisguised astonishment.

"Sammy," whispered Mr. Weller, "if some o' these here people don't want
tappin' to-morrow mornin', I ain't your father, and that's wot it is.
Why, this here old lady next me is a drowndin' herself in tea."

"Be quiet, can't you?" murmured Sam.

"Sam," whispered Mr. Weller, a moment afterwards, in a tone of deep
agitation, "mark my words, my boy. If that 'ere secretary fellow keeps
on for only five minutes more, he'll blow hisself up with toast and
water."

"Well, let him, if he likes," replied Sam; "it ain't no bis'ness o'
yourn."

"If this here lasts much longer, Sammy," said Mr. Weller, in the same
low voice, "I shall feel it my duty, as a human bein', to rise and
address the cheer. There's a young 'ooman on the next form but two, as
has drunk nine breakfast cups and a half; and she's a swellin' wisibly
before my wery eyes."

There is little doubt that Mr. Weller would have carried his benevolent
intention into immediate execution, if a great noise, occasioned by
putting up the cups and saucers, had not very fortunately announced
that the tea-drinking was over. The crockery having been removed, the
table with the green baize cover was carried out into the centre of
the room, and the business of the evening was commenced by a little
emphatic man, with a bald head, and drab shorts, who suddenly rushed
up the ladder, at the imminent peril of snapping the two little legs
encased in the drab shorts, and said:

"Ladies and gentlemen, I move our excellent brother, Mr. Anthony Humm,
into the chair."

The ladies waved a choice collection of pocket-handkerchiefs at this
proposition; and the impetuous little man literally moved Mr. Humm
into the chair, by taking him by the shoulders and thrusting him into
a mahogany frame which had once represented that article of furniture.
The waving of handkerchiefs was renewed; and Mr. Humm, who was a sleek,
white-faced man, in a perpetual perspiration, bowed meekly, to the
great admiration of the females, and formally took his seat. Silence
was then proclaimed by the little man in the drab shorts, and Mr. Humm
rose and said--That, with the permission of his Brick Lane Branch
brothers and sisters, then and there present, the secretary would read
the report of the Brick Lane Branch committee; a proposition which was
again received with a demonstration of pocket-handkerchiefs.

The secretary having sneezed in a very impressive manner, and the cough
which always seizes an assembly, when anything particular is going to
be done, having been duly performed, the following document was read:


"+Report of the Committee of the Brick Lane Branch of the United Grand
Junction Ebenezer Temperance Association+

"Your committee have pursued their grateful labours during the past
month, and have the unspeakable pleasure of reporting the following
additional cases of converts to Temperance.

"H. Walker, tailor, wife, and two children. When in better
circumstances, owns to having been in the constant habit of drinking
ale and beer; says he is not certain whether he did not twice a
week for twenty years taste 'dog's nose,' which your committee find
upon inquiry to be compounded of warm porter, moist sugar, gin, and
nutmeg (a groan, and 'So it is!' from an elderly female). Is now out
of work and penniless; thinks it must be the porter (cheers) or the
loss of the use of his right hand; is not certain which, but thinks
it very likely that, if he had drunk nothing but water all his life,
his fellow-workman would never have stuck a rusty needle in him, and
thereby occasioned his accident (tremendous cheering). Has nothing but
cold water to drink, and never feels thirsty (great applause).

"Betsy Martin, widow, one child and one eye. Goes out charing and
washing, by the day; never had more than one eye, but knows her mother
drank bottled stout, and shouldn't wonder if that caused it (immense
cheering). Thinks it not impossible that if she had always abstained
from spirits, she might have had two eyes by this time (tremendous
applause). Used, at every place she went to, to have eighteenpence a
day, a pint of porter, and a glass of spirits; but since she became a
member of the Brick Lane Branch, has always demanded three and sixpence
instead (the announcement of this most interesting fact was received
with deafening enthusiasm).

"Henry Beller was for many years toast-master at various corporation
dinners, during which time he drank a great deal of foreign wine; may
sometimes have carried a bottle or two home with him; is not quite
certain of that, but is sure if he did, that he drank the contents.
Feels very low and melancholy, is very feverish, and has a constant
thirst upon him; thinks it must be the wine he used to drink (cheers).
Is out of employ now: and never touches a drop of foreign wine by any
chance (tremendous plaudits).

"Thomas Burton is a purveyor of cats' meat to the Lord Mayor and
Sheriffs, and several members of the Common Council (the announcement
of this gentleman's name was received with breathless interest). Has
a wooden leg; finds a wooden leg expensive, going over the stones;
used to wear second-hand wooden legs, and drink a glass of hot gin and
water regularly every night--sometimes two (deep sighs). Found the
second-hand wooden legs split and rot very quickly; is firmly persuaded
that their constitution was undermined by the gin and water (prolonged
cheering). Buys new wooden legs now, and drinks nothing but water and
weak tea. The new legs last twice as long as the others used to do, and
he attributes this solely to his temperate habits" (triumphant cheers).

Anthony Humm now moved that the assembly do regale itself with a song.
With a view to their rational and moral enjoyment, Brother Mordlin
had adapted the beautiful words of "Who hasn't heard of a Jolly Young
Waterman?" to the tune of the Old Hundredth which he would request them
to join him in singing (great applause). He might take that opportunity
of expressing his firm persuasion that the late Mr. Dibdin, seeing the
errors of his former life, had written that song to show the advantages
of abstinence. It was a temperance song (whirlwinds of cheers). The
neatness of the young man's attire, the dexterity of his feathering,
the enviable state of mind which enabled him in the beautiful words of
the poet, to

    "Row along, thinking of nothing at all,"

all combined to prove that he must have been a water-drinker (cheers).
Oh, what a state of virtuous jollity! (rapturous cheering). And what
was the young man's reward? Let all young men present mark this:

    "The maidens all flock'd to his boat so readily."

(Loud cheers, in which the ladies joined.) What a bright example! The
sisterhood, the maidens, flocking round the young waterman, and urging
him along the stream of duty and of temperance. But, was it the maidens
of humble life only, who soothed, consoled, and supported him? No!

    "He was always first oars with the fine city ladies."

(Immense cheering.) The soft sex to a man--he begged pardon, to a
female--rallied round the young waterman, and turned with disgust from
the drinker of spirits (cheers). The Brick Lane Branch brothers were
watermen (cheers and laughter). That room was their boat; that audience
were the maidens; and he (Mr. Anthony Humm), however unworthily, was
"first oars" (unbounded applause).

"Wot does he mean by the soft sex, Sammy?" inquired Mr. Weller, in a
whisper.

"The womin," said Sam, in the same tone.

"He ain't far out there, Sammy," replied Mr. Weller; "they _must_ be a
soft sex,--a wery soft sex, indeed--if they let themselves be gammoned
by such fellers as him."

Any further observations from the indignant old gentleman were cut
short by the announcement of the song, which Mr. Anthony Humm gave out,
two lines at a time, for the information of such of his hearers as
were unacquainted with the legend. While it was being sung, the little
man with the drab shorts disappeared; he returned immediately on its
conclusion, and whispered Mr. Anthony Humm, with a face of the deepest
importance.

"My friends," said Mr. Humm, holding up his hand in a deprecatory
manner, to bespeak the silence of such of the stout old ladies as were
yet a line or two behind; "my friends, a delegate from the Dorking
Branch of our Society, Brother Stiggins, attends below."

Out came the pocket-handkerchiefs again, in greater force than ever;
for Mr. Stiggins was excessively popular among the female constituency
of Brick Lane.

"He may approach, I think," said Mr. Humm, looking round him, with a
fat smile. "Brother Tadger, let him come forth and greet us."

The little man in drab shorts who answered to the name of Brother
Tadger, bustled down the ladder with great speed, and was immediately
afterwards heard tumbling up with the Reverend Mr. Stiggins.

"He's a comin', Sammy," whispered Mr. Weller, purple in the countenance
with suppressed laughter.

"Don't say nothin' to me," replied Sam, "for I can't bear it. He's
close to the door. I hear him a-knockin' his head again the lath and
plaster now."

As Sam Weller spoke, the little door flew open, and Brother Tadger
appeared, closely followed by the Reverend Mr. Stiggins, who no sooner
entered, than there was a great clapping of hands, and stamping of
feet, and flourishing of handkerchiefs; to all of which manifestations
of delight, Brother Stiggins returned no other acknowledgment than
staring with a wild eye, and a fixed smile, at the extreme top of
the wick of the candle on the table: swaying his body to and fro,
meanwhile, in a very unsteady and uncertain manner.

"Are you unwell, Brother Stiggins?" whispered Mr. Anthony Humm.

"I am all right, sir," replied Mr. Stiggins, in a tone in which
ferocity was blended with an extreme thickness of utterance; "I am all
right, sir."

"Oh, very well," rejoined Mr. Anthony Humm, retreating a few paces.

"I believe no man here has ventured to say that I am _not_ all right,
sir?" said Mr. Stiggins.

"Oh, certainly not," said Mr. Humm.

"I should advise him not to, sir; I should advise him not," said Mr.
Stiggins.

By this time the audience were perfectly silent, and waited with some
anxiety for the resumption of business.

"Will you address the meeting, brother?" said Mr. Humm, with a smile of
invitation.

"No, sir," rejoined Mr. Stiggins; "no, sir. I will not, sir."

The meeting looked at each other with raised eyelids; and a murmur of
astonishment ran through the room.

"It's my opinion, sir," said Mr. Stiggins, unbuttoning his coat,
and speaking very loudly; "it's my opinion, sir, that this meeting
is drunk, sir. Brother Tadger, sir!" said Mr. Stiggins, suddenly
increasing in ferocity, and turning sharp round on the little man in
the drab shorts, "_you_ are drunk, sir!" With this, Mr. Stiggins,
entertaining a praiseworthy desire to promote the sobriety of the
meeting, and to exclude therefrom all improper characters, hit Brother
Tadger on the summit of the nose with such unerring aim, that the drab
shorts disappeared like a flash of lightning. Brother Tadger had been
knocked, head first, down the ladder.

Upon this, the women set up a loud and dismal screaming; and rushing in
small parties before their favourite brothers, flung their arms around
them to preserve them from danger. An instance of affection which had
nearly proved fatal to Humm, who, being extremely popular, was all but
suffocated, by the crowd of female devotees that hung about his neck,
and heaped caresses upon him. The greater part of the lights were
quickly put out, and nothing but noise and confusion resounded on all
sides.

"Now, Sammy," said Mr. Weller, taking off his great-coat with much
deliberation, "just you step out, and fetch in a watchman."

"And wot are you a goin' to do, the while?" inquired Sam.

"Never you mind me, Sammy," replied the old gentleman; "I shall ockipy
myself in havin' a small settlement with that 'ere Stiggins." Before
Sam could interfere to prevent it, his heroic parent had penetrated
into a remote corner of the room, and attacked the Reverend Mr.
Stiggins with manual dexterity.

"Come off!" said Sam.

"Come on!" cried Mr. Weller; and without further invitation he gave the
Reverend Mr. Stiggins a preliminary tap on the head, and began dancing
round him in a buoyant and cork-like manner, which in a gentleman at
his time of life was a perfect marvel to behold.

Finding all remonstrance unavailing, Sam pulled his hat firmly on,
threw his father's coat over his arm, and taking the old man round the
waist, forcibly dragged him down the ladder, and into the street; never
releasing his hold, or permitting him to stop, until they reached the
corner. As they gained it, they could hear the shouts of the populace,
who were witnessing the removal of the Reverend Mr. Stiggins to strong
lodgings for the night: and could hear the noise occasioned by the
dispersion in various directions of the members of the Brick Lane
Branch of the United Grand Junction Ebenezer Temperance Association.



CHAPTER VI

[Illustration]

  _Is wholly devoted to a Full and Faithful Report of the Memorable
    Trial of Bardell against Pickwick_


"I wonder what the foreman of the jury, whoever he'll be, has got for
breakfast," said Mr. Snodgrass, by way of keeping up a conversation on
the eventful morning of the fourteenth of February.

"Ah!" said Perker, "I hope he's got a good one."

"Why so?" inquired Mr. Pickwick.

"Highly important; very important, my dear sir," replied Perker. "A
good, contented, well-breakfasted juryman, is a capital thing to get
hold of. Discontented or hungry jurymen, my dear sir, always find for
the plaintiff."

"Bless my heart," said Mr. Pickwick, looking very blank; "what do they
do that for?"

"Why, I don't know," replied the little man, coolly; "saves time,
I suppose. If it's near the dinner-time, the foreman takes out his
watch when the jury has retired, and says, 'Dear me, gentlemen, ten
minutes to five, I declare! I dine at five, gentlemen.' So do I,'
says everybody else, except two men who ought to have dined at three,
and seem more than half disposed to stand out in consequence. The
foreman smiles, and puts up his watch:--'Well, gentlemen, what do we
say, plaintiff or defendant, gentlemen? I rather think, so far as I
am concerned, gentlemen,--I say, I rather think,--but don't let that
influence you--I _rather_ think the plaintiff's the man.' Upon this,
two or three other men are sure to say that they think so too--as of
course they do; and then they get on very unanimously and comfortably.
Ten minutes past nine!" said the little man, looking at his watch.
"Time we were off, my dear sir; breach of promise trial--court is
generally full in such cases. You had better ring for a coach, my dear
sir, or we shall be rather late."

Mr. Pickwick immediately rang the bell; and a coach having been
procured, the four Pickwickians and Mr. Perker ensconced themselves
therein, and drove to Guildhall; Sam Weller, Mr. Lowten, and the blue
bag, following in a cab.

"Lowten," said Perker, when they reached the outer hall of the court,
"put Mr. Pickwick's friends in the students' box; Mr. Pickwick himself
had better sit by me. This way, my dear sir, this way." Taking Mr.
Pickwick by the coat-sleeve, the little man led him to the low seat
just beneath the desks of the King's Counsel, which is constructed for
the convenience of attorneys, who from that spot can whisper into the
ear of the leading counsel in the case, any instructions that may be
necessary during the progress of the trial. The occupants of this seat
are invisible to the great body of spectators, inasmuch as they sit on
a much lower level than either the barristers or the audience, whose
seats are raised above the floor. Of course they have their backs to
both, and their faces towards the judge.

"That's the witness-box, I suppose?" said Mr. Pickwick, pointing to a
kind of pulpit, with a brass rail, on his left hand.

"That's the witness-box, my dear sir," replied Perker, disinterring a
quantity of papers from the blue bag, which Lowten had just deposited
at his feet.

"And that," said Mr. Pickwick, pointing to a couple of enclosed seats
on his right, "that's where the jurymen sit, is it not?"

"The identical place, my dear sir," replied Perker, tapping the lid of
his snuff-box.

Mr. Pickwick stood up in a state of great agitation, and took a
glance at the court. There were already a pretty large sprinkling
of spectators in the gallery, and a numerous muster of gentlemen in
wigs, in the barristers' seats: who presented, as a body, all that
pleasing and extensive variety of nose and whisker for which the bar
of England is so justly celebrated. Such of the gentlemen as had a
brief to carry, carried it in as conspicuous a manner as possible, and
occasionally scratched their noses therewith, to impress the fact more
strongly on the observation of the spectators. Other gentlemen, who
had no briefs to show, carried under their arms goodly octavos with a
red label behind, and that under-done-pie-crust-coloured cover, which
is technically known as "law calf." Others, who had neither briefs nor
books, thrust their hands into their pockets, and looked as wise as
they conveniently could; others, again, moved here and there with great
restlessness and earnestness of manner, content to awaken thereby the
admiration and astonishment of the uninitiated strangers. The whole, to
the great wonderment of Mr. Pickwick, were divided into little groups,
who were chatting and discussing the news of the day in the most
unfeeling manner possible,--just as if no trial at all were coming on.

A bow from Mr. Phunky, as he entered, and took his seat behind the row
appropriated to the King's Counsel, attracted Mr. Pickwick's attention;
and he had scarcely returned it, when Mr. Serjeant Snubbin appeared,
followed by Mr. Mallard, who half hid the Serjeant behind a large
crimson bag, which he placed on the table, and after shaking hands
with Perker, withdrew. Then there entered two or three more Serjeants;
and among them, one with a fat body and a red face, who nodded in a
friendly manner to Mr. Serjeant Snubbin, and said it was a fine morning.

"Who's that red-faced man, who said it was a fine morning, and nodded
to our counsel?" whispered Mr. Pickwick.

"Mr. Serjeant Buzfuz," replied Perker. "He's opposed to us; he leads on
the other side. That gentleman behind him is Mr. Skimpin, his junior."

Mr. Pickwick was on the point of inquiring, with great abhorrence of
the man's cold-blooded villainy, how Mr. Serjeant Buzfuz, who was
counsel for the opposite party, dared to presume to tell Mr. Serjeant
Snubbin, who was counsel for him, that it was a fine morning, when he
was interrupted by a general rising of the barristers, and a loud cry
of "Silence!" from the officers of the court. Looking round, he found
that this was caused by the entrance of the judge.

Mr. Justice Stareleigh (who sat in the absence of the Chief Justice,
occasioned by indisposition), was a most particularly short man, and
so fat, that he seemed all face and waistcoat. He rolled in, upon two
little turned legs, and having bobbed gravely to the bar, who bobbed
gravely to him, put his little legs underneath his table, and his
little three-cornered hat upon it; and when Mr. Justice Stareleigh
had done this, all you could see of him was two queer little eyes,
one broad pink face, and somewhere about half of a big and very
comical-looking wig.

The judge had no sooner taken his seat, than the officer on the floor
of the court called out "Silence!" in a commanding tone, upon which
another officer in the gallery cried "Silence!" in an angry manner,
whereupon three or four more ushers shouted "Silence!" in a voice of
indignant remonstrance. This being done, a gentleman in black, who sat
below the judge, proceeded to call over the names of the jury; and
after a great deal of bawling, it was discovered that only ten special
jurymen were present. Upon this, Mr. Serjeant Buzfuz prayed a _tales_;
the gentleman in black then proceeded to press into the special jury,
two of the common jurymen; and a greengrocer and a chemist were caught
directly.

"Answer to your names, gentlemen, that you may be sworn," said the
gentleman in black. "Richard Upwitch."

"Here," said the greengrocer.

"Thomas Groffin."

"Here," said the chemist.

"Take the book, gentlemen. You shall well and truly try----"

"I beg this court's pardon," said the chemist, who was a tall, thin,
yellow-visaged man, "but I hope this court will excuse my attendance."

"On what grounds, sir?" said Mr. Justice Stareleigh.

"I have no assistant, my Lord," said the chemist.

"I can't help that, sir," replied Mr. Justice Stareleigh. "You should
hire one."

"I can't afford it, my Lord," rejoined the chemist.

"Then you ought to be able to afford it, sir," said the judge,
reddening; for Mr. Justice Stareleigh's temper bordered on the
irritable, and brooked no contradiction.

"I know I _ought_ to do, if I got on as well as I deserved, but I
don't, my Lord," answered the chemist.

"Swear the gentleman," said the judge, peremptorily.

The officer had got no further than the "You shall well and truly try,"
when he was again interrupted by the chemist.

"I am to be sworn, my Lord, am I?" said the chemist.

"Certainly, sir," said the testy little judge.

"Very well, my Lord," replied the chemist, in a resigned manner. "Then
there'll be murder before this trial's over; that's all. Swear me, if
you please, sir;" and sworn the chemist was, before the judge could
find words to utter.

"I merely wanted to observe, my Lord," said the chemist, taking his
seat with great deliberation, "that I've left nobody but an errand-boy
in my shop. He is a very nice boy, my Lord, but he is not acquainted
with drugs; and I know that the prevailing impression on his mind,
is that Epsom salts means oxalic acid; and syrup of senna, laudanum.
That's all, my Lord." With this, the tall chemist composed himself
into a comfortable attitude, and, assuming a pleasant expression of
countenance, appeared to have prepared himself for the worst.

Mr. Pickwick was regarding the chemist with feelings of the deepest
horror, when a slight sensation was perceptible in the body of the
court; and immediately afterwards Mrs. Bardell, supported by Mrs.
Cluppins, was led in, and placed, in a drooping state, at the other
end of the seat on which Mr. Pickwick sat. An extra-sized umbrella
was then handed in by Mr. Dodson, and a pair of pattens by Mr. Fogg,
each of whom had prepared a most sympathising and melancholy face for
the occasion. Mrs. Sanders then appeared, leading in Master Bardell.
At sight of her child, Mrs. Bardell started; suddenly recollecting
herself, she kissed him in a frantic manner; then relapsing into a
state of hysterical imbecility, the good lady requested to be informed
where she was. In reply to this, Mrs. Cluppins and Mrs. Sanders turned
their heads away and wept, while Messrs. Dodson and Fogg entreated the
plaintiff to compose herself. Serjeant Buzfuz rubbed his eyes very hard
with a large white handkerchief, and gave an appealing look towards
the jury, while the judge was visibly affected, and several of the
beholders tried to cough down their emotions.

"Very good notion that, indeed," whispered Perker to Mr. Pickwick.
"Capital fellows those Dodson and Fogg; excellent ideas of effect, my
dear sir, excellent."

As Perker spoke, Mrs. Bardell began to recover by slow degrees, while
Mrs. Cluppins, after a careful survey of Master Bardell's buttons and
the button-holes to which they severally belonged, placed him on the
floor of the court in front of his mother,--a commanding position in
which he could not fail to awaken the full commiseration and sympathy
of both judge and jury. This was not done without considerable
opposition, and many tears, on the part of the young gentleman himself,
who had certain inward misgivings that the placing him within the
full glare of the judge's eye was only a formal prelude to his being
immediately ordered away for instant execution, or for transportation
beyond the seas, during the whole term of his natural life, at the very
least.

"Bardell and Pickwick," cried the gentleman in black, calling on the
case, which stood first on the list.

"I am for the plaintiff, my Lord," said Mr. Serjeant Buzfuz.

"Who is with you, brother Buzfuz?" said the judge. Mr. Skimpin bowed,
to intimate that he was.

"I appear for the defendant, my Lord," said Mr. Serjeant Snubbin.

"Anybody with you, brother Snubbin?" inquired the court.

"Mr. Phunky, my Lord," replied Serjeant Snubbin.

"Serjeant Buzfuz and Mr. Skimpin for the plaintiff," said the judge,
writing down the names in his note-book, and reading as he wrote; "for
the defendant, Serjeant Snubbin and Mr. Monkey."

"Beg your Lordship's pardon, Phunky."

"Oh, very good," said the judge; "I never had the pleasure of hearing
the gentleman's name before." Here Mr. Phunky bowed and smiled and the
judge bowed and smiled too, and then Mr. Phunky, blushing into the very
whites of his eyes, tried to look as if he didn't know that everybody
was gazing at him: a thing which no man ever succeeded in doing yet,
or, in all reasonable probability, ever will.

"Go on," said the judge.

The ushers again called silence, and Mr. Skimpin proceeded to "open
the case;" and the case appeared to have very little inside it when he
had opened it, for he kept such particulars as he knew, completely to
himself, and sat down, after a lapse of three minutes, leaving the jury
in precisely the same advanced stage of wisdom as they were in before.

Serjeant Buzfuz then rose with all the majesty and dignity which the
grave nature of the proceedings demanded, and having whispered to
Dodson, and conferred briefly with Fogg, pulled his gown over his
shoulders, settled his wig, and addressed the jury.

Serjeant Buzfuz began by saying, that never, in the whole course of
his professional experience--never, from the very first moment of
his applying himself to the study and practice of the law--had he
approached a case with feelings of such deep emotion, or with such a
heavy sense of the responsibility imposed upon him--a responsibility,
he would say, which he could never have supported, were he not buoyed
up and sustained by a conviction so strong, that it amounted to
positive certainty that the cause of truth and justice, or, in other
words, the cause of his much-injured and most oppressed client, must
prevail with the high-minded and intelligent dozen of men whom he now
saw in that box before him.

Counsel usually begin in this way, because it puts the jury on the very
best terms with themselves, and makes them think what sharp fellows
they must be. A visible effect was produced immediately; several
jurymen beginning to take voluminous notes with the utmost eagerness.

"You have heard from my learned friend, gentlemen," continued Serjeant
Buzfuz, well knowing that, from the learned friend alluded to, the
gentlemen of the jury had heard just nothing at all--"you have
heard from my learned friend, gentlemen, that this is an action for
a breach of promise of marriage, in which the damages are laid at
£1500. But you have not heard from my learned friend, inasmuch as
it did not come within my learned friend's province to tell you,
what are the facts and circumstances of the case. Those facts and
circumstances, gentlemen, you shall hear detailed by me and proved by
the unimpeachable female whom I will place in that box before you."

Here Mr. Serjeant Buzfuz, with a tremendous emphasis on the word "box,"
smote his table with a mighty sound, and glanced at Dodson and Fogg,
who nodded admiration of the serjeant, and indignant defiance of the
defendant.

"The plaintiff, gentlemen," continued Serjeant Buzfuz, in a soft and
melancholy voice, "the plaintiff is a widow; yes, gentlemen, a widow.
The late Mr. Bardell, after enjoying, for many years, the esteem and
confidence of his sovereign, as one of the guardians of his royal
revenues, glided almost imperceptibly from the world, to seek elsewhere
for that repose and peace which a custom-house can never afford."

At this pathetic description of the decease of Mr. Bardell, who had
been knocked on the head with a quart-pot in a public-house cellar, the
learned serjeant's voice faltered, and he proceeded with emotion:

"Some time before his death, he had stamped his likeness upon a little
boy. With this little boy, the only pledge of her departed exciseman,
Mrs. Bardell shrunk from the world, and courted the retirement and
tranquillity of Goswell Street; and here she placed in her front
parlour window a written placard, bearing this inscription--'Apartments
furnished for a single gentleman. Inquire within.'" Here Serjeant
Buzfuz paused, while several gentlemen of the jury took a note of the
document.

"There is no date to that, is there, sir?" inquired a juror.

"There is no date, gentlemen," replied Serjeant Buzfuz: "but I am
instructed to say that it was put in the plaintiff's parlour-window
just this time three years. I entreat the attention of the jury to
the wording of this document. 'Apartments furnished for a single
gentleman'! Mrs. Bardell's opinions of the opposite sex, gentlemen,
were derived from a long contemplation of the inestimable qualities
of her lost husband. She had no fear, she had no distrust, she had no
suspicion, all was confidence and reliance. 'Mr. Bardell,' said the
widow; 'Mr. Bardell was a man of honour, Mr. Bardell was a man of
his word, Mr. Bardell was no deceiver, Mr. Bardell was once a single
gentleman himself; _to_ single gentlemen I look for protection, for
assistance, for comfort, and for consolation; _in_ single gentlemen
I shall perpetually see something to remind me of what Mr. Bardell
was, when he first won my young and untried affections; to a single
gentleman, then, shall my lodgings be let.' Actuated by this beautiful
and touching impulse (among the best impulses of our imperfect nature,
gentlemen), the lonely and desolate widow dried her tears, furnished
the first floor, caught the innocent boy to her maternal bosom, and put
the bill up in her parlour-window. Did it remain there long? No. The
serpent was on the watch, the train was laid, the mine was preparing,
the sapper and miner was at work. Before the bill had been in the
parlour-window three days--three days--gentlemen--a Being erect upon
two legs, and bearing all the outward semblance of a man, and not of
a monster, knocked at the door of Mrs. Bardell's house. He inquired
within; he took the lodgings; and on the very next day he entered into
possession of them. This man was Pickwick--Pickwick, the defendant."

Serjeant Buzfuz, who had proceeded with such volubility that his face
was perfectly crimson, here paused for breath. The silence awoke Mr.
Justice Stareleigh, who immediately wrote down something with a pen,
without any ink in it, and looked unusually profound, to impress the
jury with the belief that he always thought most deeply with his eyes
shut. Serjeant Buzfuz proceeded:

"Of this man Pickwick I will say little; the subject presents but few
attractions; and I, gentlemen, am not the man, nor are you, gentlemen,
the men, to delight in the contemplation of revolting heartlessness,
and of systematic villainy."

Here Mr. Pickwick, who had been writhing in silence for some time, gave
a violent start, as if some vague idea of assaulting Serjeant Buzfuz,
in the august presence of justice and law, suggested itself to his
mind. An admonitory gesture from Perker restrained him, and he listened
to the learned gentleman's continuation with a look of indignation,
which contrasted forcibly with the admiring faces of Mrs. Cluppins and
Mrs. Sanders.

"I say systematic villainy, gentlemen," said Serjeant Buzfuz, looking
through Mr. Pickwick and talking _at_ him; "and when I say systematic
villainy, let me tell the defendant Pickwick, if he be in court, as I
am informed he is, that it would have been more decent in him, more
becoming, in better judgment, and in better taste, if he had stopped
away. Let me tell him, gentlemen, that any gestures of dissent or
disapprobation in which he may indulge in this court will not go down
with you; that you will know how to value and how to appreciate them;
and let me tell him further, as my lord will tell you, gentlemen, that
a counsel, in the discharge of his duty to his client, is neither to
be intimidated nor bullied, nor put down; and that any attempt to do
either the one or the other, or the first or the last, will recoil on
the head of the attempter, be he plaintiff or be he defendant, be his
name Pickwick, or Noakes, or Stoakes, or Stiles, or Brown, or Thompson."

This little divergence from the subject in hand had, of course, the
intended effect of turning all eyes to Mr. Pickwick. Serjeant Buzfuz,
having partially recovered from the state of moral elevation into which
he had lashed himself, resumed:

"I shall show you, gentlemen, that for two years Pickwick continued to
reside constantly, and without interruption or intermission, at Mrs.
Bardell's house. I shall show you that Mrs. Bardell, during the whole
of that time, waited on him, attended to his comforts, cooked his
meals, looked out his linen for the washerwoman when it went abroad,
darned, aired, and prepared it for wear, when it came home, and, in
short, enjoyed his fullest trust and confidence. I shall show you
that, on many occasions, he gave halfpence, and on some occasions even
sixpences, to her little boy; and I shall prove to you, by a witness
whose testimony it will be impossible for my learned friend to weaken
or controvert, that on one occasion he patted the boy on the head, and,
after inquiring whether he had won _alley tors_ or _commoneys_ lately
(both of which I understand to be a particular species of marbles
much prized by the youth of this town), made use of this remarkable
expression: 'How should you like to have another father?' I shall prove
to you, gentlemen, that about a year ago, Pickwick suddenly began
to absent himself from home, during long intervals, as if with the
intention of gradually breaking off from my client; but I shall show
you also, that his resolution was not at that time sufficiently strong,
or that his better feelings conquered, if better feelings he has, or
that the charms and accomplishments of my client prevailed against
his unmanly intentions; by proving to you, that on one occasion, when
he returned from the country, he distinctly and in terms, offered her
marriage: previously, however, taking special care that there should be
no witness to their solemn contract; and I am in a situation to prove
to you, on the testimony of three of his own friends--most unwilling
witnesses, gentlemen--most unwilling witnesses--that on that morning he
was discovered by them holding the plaintiff in his arms, and soothing
her agitation by his caresses and endearments."

A visible impression was produced upon the auditors by this part of
the learned serjeant's address. Drawing forth two very small scraps of
paper, he proceeded:

"And now, gentlemen, but one word more. Two letters have passed between
these parties, letters which are admitted to be in the handwriting
of the defendant, and which speak volumes indeed. These letters,
too, bespeak the character of the man. They are not open, fervent,
eloquent epistles, breathing nothing but the language of affectionate
attachment. They are covert, sly, underhanded communications,
but, fortunately, far more conclusive than if couched in the most
glowing language and the most poetic imagery--letters that must
be viewed with a cautious and suspicious eye--letters that were
evidently intended at the time, by Pickwick, to mislead and delude
any third parties into whose hands they might fall. Let me read the
first:--'Garraway's, twelve o'clock. Dear Mrs. B.--Chops and Tomato
sauce. Yours, +Pickwick+.' Gentlemen, what does this mean? 'Chops and
Tomato sauce. Yours, Pickwick!' Chops! Gracious heavens! and Tomato
sauce! Gentlemen, is the happiness of a sensitive and confiding female
to be trifled away by such shallow artifices as these? The next has no
date whatever, which is in itself suspicious. 'Dear Mrs. B., I shall
not be at home till to-morrow. Slow coach.' And then follows this very
remarkable expression. 'Don't trouble yourself about the warming-pan.'
The warming-pan! Why, gentlemen, who _does_ trouble himself about
a warming-pan? When was the peace of mind of man or woman broken or
disturbed by a warming-pan, which is in itself a harmless, a useful,
and I will add, gentlemen, a comforting article of domestic furniture?
Why is Mrs. Bardell so earnestly entreated not to agitate herself
about this warming-pan, unless (as is no doubt the case) it is a mere
cover for hidden fire--a mere substitute for some endearing word of
promise, agreeably to a preconcerted system of correspondence, artfully
contrived by Pickwick with a view to his contemplated desertion, and
which I am not in a condition to explain? And what does this allusion
to the slow coach mean? For aught I know, it may be a reference to
Pickwick himself, who has most unquestionably been a criminally slow
coach during the whole of this transaction, but whose speed will now be
very unexpectedly accelerated, and whose wheels, gentlemen, as he will
find to his cost, will very soon be greased by you!"

Mr. Serjeant Buzfuz paused in this place, to see whether the jury
smiled at his joke; but as nobody took it but the greengrocer, whose
sensitiveness on the subject was very probably occasioned by his having
subjected a chaise-cart to the process in question on that identical
morning, the learned serjeant considered it advisable to undergo a
slight relapse into the dismals before he concluded.

"But enough of this, gentlemen," said Mr. Serjeant Buzfuz; "it is
difficult to smile with an aching heart; it is ill jesting when our
deepest sympathies are awakened. My client's hopes and prospects are
ruined, and it is no figure of speech to say that her occupation is
gone indeed. The bill is down--but there is no tenant. Eligible single
gentlemen pass and repass--but there is no invitation for them to
inquire within or without. All is gloom and silence in the house; even
the voice of the child is hushed; his infant sports are disregarded
when his mother weeps; his 'alley tors' and his 'commoneys' are alike
neglected; he forgets the long familiar cry of 'knuckle-down,' and at
tip-cheese, or odd and even, his hand is out. But Pickwick, gentlemen,
Pickwick, the ruthless destroyer of this domestic oasis in the desert
of Goswell Street--Pickwick, who has choked up the well, and thrown
ashes on the sward--Pickwick, who comes before you to-day with his
heartless Tomato sauce and warming-pans--Pickwick still rears his head
with unblushing effrontery, and gazes without a sigh on the ruin he
has made. Damages, gentlemen--heavy damages--is the only punishment
with which you can visit him; the only recompense you can award to
my client. And for those damages she now appeals to an enlightened,
a high-minded, a right-feeling, a conscientious, a dispassionate,
a sympathising, a contemplative jury of her civilised countrymen."
With this beautiful peroration, Mr. Serjeant Buzfuz sat down, and Mr.
Justice Stareleigh woke up.

"Call Elizabeth Cluppins," said Serjeant Buzfuz, rising a minute
afterwards, with renewed vigour.

The nearest usher called for Elizabeth Tuppins; another one, at a
little distance off, demanded Elizabeth Jupkins; and a third rushed in
a breathless state into King Street, and screamed for Elizabeth Muffins
till he was hoarse.

Meanwhile Mrs. Cluppins, with the combined assistance of Mrs.
Bardell, Mrs. Sanders, Mr. Dodson, and Mr. Fogg, was hoisted into the
witness-box; and when she was safely perched on the top step, Mrs.
Bardell stood on the bottom one, with the pocket-handkerchief and
pattens in one hand, and a glass bottle that might hold about a quarter
of a pint of smelling salts in the other, ready for any emergency. Mrs.
Sanders, whose eyes were intently fixed on the judge's face, planted
herself close by, with the large umbrella: keeping her right thumb
pressed on the spring with an earnest countenance, as if she were fully
prepared to put it up at a moment's notice.

"Mrs. Cluppins," said Serjeant Buzfuz, "pray compose yourself,
ma'am." Of course, directly Mrs. Cluppins was desired to compose
herself she sobbed with increased vehemence, and gave divers alarming
manifestations of an approaching fainting fit, or, as she afterwards
said, of her feelings being too many for her.

"Do you recollect, Mrs. Cluppins," said Serjeant Buzfuz, after a few
unimportant questions, "do you recollect being in Mrs. Bardell's back
one pair of stairs, on one particular morning in July last, when she
was dusting Pickwick's apartment?"

"Yes, my Lord and Jury, I do," replied Mrs. Cluppins.

"Mr. Pickwick's sitting-room was the first-floor front, I believe?"

"Yes, it were, sir," replied Mrs. Cluppins.

"What were you doing in the back room, ma'am?" inquired the little
judge.

"My Lord and Jury," said Mrs. Cluppins, with interesting agitation, "I
will not deceive you."

"You had better not, ma'am," said the little judge.

"I was there," resumed Mrs. Cluppins, "unbeknown to Mrs. Bardell; I had
been out with a little basket, gentlemen, to buy three pound of red
kidney purtaties, which was three pound tuppense ha'penny, when I see
Mrs. Bardell's street door on the jar."

"On the what?" exclaimed the little judge.

"Partly open, my Lord," said Serjeant Snubbin.

"She _said_ on the jar," said the little judge, with a cunning look.

"It's all the same, my Lord," said Serjeant Snubbin. The little judge
looked doubtful and said he'd make a note of it. Mrs. Cluppins then
resumed:

"I walked in, gentlemen, just to say good mornin', and went, in a
permiscuous manner, up-stairs, and into the back room. Gentlemen, there
was the sound of voices in the front room, and----"

"And you listened, I believe, Mrs. Cluppins?" said Serjeant Buzfuz.

"Beggin' your pardon, sir," replied Mrs. Cluppins, in a majestic
manner, "I would scorn the haction. The voices was very loud, sir, and
forced themselves upon my ear."

"Well, Mrs. Cluppins, you were not listening, but you heard the voices.
Was one of these voices Pickwick's?"

"Yes, it were, sir."

And Mrs. Cluppins, after distinctly stating that Mr. Pickwick addressed
himself to Mrs. Bardell, repeated by slow degrees, and by dint of
many questions, the conversation with which our readers are already
acquainted.

The jury looked suspicious, and Mr. Serjeant Buzfuz smiled and sat
down. They looked positively awful when Serjeant Snubbin intimated that
he should not cross-examine the witness, for Mr. Pickwick wished it to
be distinctly stated that it was due to her to say, that her account
was in substance correct.

Mrs. Cluppins having once broken the ice, thought it a favourable
opportunity for entering into a short dissertation on her own domestic
affairs; so, she straightway proceeded to inform the court that she
was the mother of eight children at that present speaking, and that
she entertained confident expectations of presenting Mr. Cluppins with
a ninth, somewhere about that day six months. At this interesting
point, the little judge interposed most irascibly; and the effect of
the interposition was, that both the worthy lady and Mrs. Sanders were
politely taken out of court, under the escort of Mr. Jackson, without
further parley.

"Nathaniel Winkle!" said Mr. Skimpin.

"Here!" replied a feeble voice. Mr. Winkle entered the witness-box, and
having been duly sworn, bowed to the judge with considerable deference.

"Don't look at me, sir," said the judge, sharply, in acknowledgment of
the salute; "look at the jury."

Mr. Winkle obeyed the mandate, and looked at the place where he thought
it most probable the jury might be; for seeing anything in his then
state of intellectual complication was wholly out of the question.

Mr. Winkle was then examined by Mr. Skimpin, who, being a promising
young man of two or three and forty, was of course anxious to confuse a
witness who was notoriously predisposed in favour of the other side, as
much as he could.

"Now, sir," said Mr. Skimpin, "have the goodness to let his Lordship
and the jury know what your name is, will you?" and Mr. Skimpin
inclined his head on one side to listen with great sharpness to the
answer, and glanced at the jury meanwhile, as if to imply that he
rather expected Mr. Winkle's natural taste for perjury would induce him
to give some name which did not belong to him.

"Winkle," replied the witness.

"What's your Christian name, sir?" angrily inquired the little judge.

"Nathaniel, sir."

"Daniel,--any other name?"

"Nathaniel, sir--my Lord, I mean."

"Nathaniel Daniel, or Daniel Nathaniel?"

"No, my Lord, only Nathaniel; not Daniel at all."

"What did you tell me it was Daniel for, then, sir?" inquired the judge.

"I didn't, my Lord," replied Mr. Winkle.

"You did, sir," replied the judge, with a severe frown. "How could I
have got Daniel on my notes, unless you told me so, sir?"

This argument was, of course, unanswerable.

"Mr. Winkle has rather a short memory, my Lord," interposed Mr.
Skimpin, with another glance at the jury. "We shall find means to
refresh it before we have quite done with him, I dare say."

"You had better be careful, sir," said the little judge, with a
sinister look at the witness.

Poor Mr. Winkle bowed, and endeavoured to feign an easiness of manner
which, in his then state of confusion, gave him rather the air of a
disconcerted pickpocket.

"Now, Mr. Winkle," said Mr. Skimpin, "attend to me, if you please,
sir; and let me recommend you, for your own sake, to bear in mind his
Lordship's injunction to be careful. I believe you are a particular
friend of Pickwick, the defendant, are you not?"

"I have known Mr. Pickwick now, as well as I recollect at this moment,
nearly----"

"Pray, Mr. Winkle, do not evade the question. Are you, or are you not,
a particular friend of the defendant's?"

"I was just about to say that----"

"Will you, or will you not, answer my question, sir?"

"If you don't answer the question you'll be committed, sir," interposed
the little judge, looking over his note-book.

"Come, sir," said Mr. Skimpin, "yes or no, if you please."

"Yes, I am," replied Mr. Winkle.

"Yes, you are. And why couldn't you say that at once, sir? Perhaps you
know the plaintiff, too? Eh, Mr. Winkle?"

"I don't know her; I've seen her."

"Oh, you don't know her, but you've seen her? Now, have the goodness to
tell the gentlemen of the jury what you mean by _that_, Mr. Winkle."

"I mean that I am not intimate with her, but I have seen her when I
went to call on Mr. Pickwick in Goswell Street."

"How often have you seen her, sir?"

"How often?"

"Yes, Mr. Winkle, how often? I'll repeat the question for you a dozen
times if you require it, sir." And the learned gentleman, with a firm
and steady frown, placed his hands on his hips, and smiled suspiciously
at the jury.

On this question there arose the edifying brow-beating, customary on
such points. First of all, Mr. Winkle said it was quite impossible for
him to say how many times he had seen Mrs. Bardell. Then he was asked
if he had seen her twenty times, to which he replied, "Certainly,--more
than that." Then he was asked whether he hadn't seen her a hundred
times--whether he couldn't swear that he had seen her more than
fifty times--whether he didn't know that he had seen her at least
seventy-five times--and so forth; the satisfactory conclusion which was
arrived at, at last, being, that he had better take care of himself,
and mind what he was about. The witness having been by these means
reduced to the requisite ebb of nervous perplexity, the examination was
continued as follows:

"Pray Mr. Winkle, do you remember calling on the defendant Pickwick at
these apartments in the plaintiff's house in Goswell Street, on one
particular morning, in the month of July last?"

"Yes, I do."

"Were you accompanied on that occasion by a friend of the name of
Tupman, and another of the name of Snodgrass?"

"Yes, I was."

"Are they here?"

"Yes, they are," replied Mr. Winkle, looking very earnestly towards the
spot where his friends were stationed.

"Pray attend to me, Mr. Winkle, and never mind your friends," said Mr.
Skimpin, with another expressive look at the jury. "They must tell
their stories without any previous consultation with you, if none
has yet taken place (another look at the jury). Now, sir, tell the
gentlemen of the jury what you saw on entering the defendant's room,
on this particular morning. Come; out with it, sir: we must have it,
sooner or later."

"The defendant, Mr. Pickwick, was holding the plaintiff in his arms,
with his hands clasping her waist," replied Mr. Winkle, with natural
hesitation, "and the plaintiff appeared to have fainted away."

"Did you hear the defendant say anything?"

"I heard him call Mrs. Bardell a good creature, and I heard him ask
her to compose herself, for what a situation it was, if anybody should
come, or words to that effect."

"Now, Mr. Winkle, I have only one more question to ask you, and I beg
you to bear in mind his lordship's caution. Will you undertake to swear
that Pickwick, the defendant, did not say on the occasion in question,
'My dear Mrs. Bardell, you're a good creature; compose yourself to this
situation, for to this situation you must come,' or words to _that_
effect?"

"I didn't understand him so, certainly," said Mr. Winkle, astounded at
this ingenious dove-tailing of the few words he had heard. "I was on
the staircase, and couldn't hear distinctly; the impression on my mind
is----"

"The gentlemen of the jury want none of the impressions on your
mind, Mr. Winkle, which I fear would be of little service to honest,
straightforward men," interposed Mr. Skimpin. "You were on the
staircase, and didn't distinctly hear; but you will not swear that
Mr. Pickwick did not make use of the expressions I have quoted? Do I
understand that?"

"No, I will not," replied Mr. Winkle; and down sat Mr. Skimpin with a
triumphant countenance.

Mr. Pickwick's case had not gone off in so particularly happy a manner,
up to this point, that it could very well afford to have any additional
suspicion cast upon it. But as it could afford to be placed in a rather
better light, if possible, Mr. Phunky rose for the purpose of getting
something important out of Mr. Winkle in cross-examination. Whether he
did get anything important out of him will immediately appear.

"I believe, Mr. Winkle," said Mr. Phunky, "that Mr. Pickwick is not a
young man?"

"Oh no," replied Mr. Winkle; "old enough to be my father."

"You have told my learned friend that you have known Mr. Pickwick a
long time. Had you ever any reason to suppose or believe that he was
about to be married?"

"Oh no; certainly not;" replied Mr. Winkle with so much eagerness,
that Mr. Phunky ought to have got him out of the box with all possible
despatch. Lawyers hold that there are two kinds of particularly bad
witnesses: a reluctant witness, and a too-willing witness; it was Mr.
Winkle's fate to figure in both characters.

"I will even go further than this, Mr. Winkle," continued Mr. Phunky in
a most smooth and complacent manner. "Did you ever see anything in Mr.
Pickwick's manner and conduct towards the opposite sex, to induce you
to believe that he ever contemplated matrimony of late years, in any
case?"

"Oh no; certainly not," replied Mr. Winkle.

"Has his behaviour, when females have been in the case, always been
that of a man who, having attained a pretty advanced period of life,
content with his own occupations and amusements, treats them only as a
father might his daughters?"

"Not the least doubt of it," replied Mr. Winkle, in the fulness of his
heart. "That is--yes--oh yes--certainly."

"You have never known anything in his behaviour towards Mrs. Bardell,
or any other female, in the least degree suspicious?" said Mr. Phunky,
preparing to sit down; for Serjeant Snubbin was winking at him.

"N--n--no," replied Mr. Winkle, "except on one trifling occasion which,
I have no doubt, might be easily explained."

Now, if the unfortunate Mr. Phunky had sat down when Serjeant Snubbin
winked at him, or if Serjeant Buzfuz had stopped this irregular
cross-examination at the outset (which he knew better than to do;
observing Mr. Winkle's anxiety, and well knowing it would, in all
probability, lead to something serviceable to him), this unfortunate
admission would not have been elicited. The moment the words fell from
Mr. Winkle's lips, Mr. Phunky sat down, and Serjeant Snubbin rather
hastily told him he might leave the box, which Mr. Winkle prepared to
do with great readiness, when Serjeant Buzfuz stopped him.

"Stay, Mr. Winkle, stay!" said Serjeant Buzfuz. "Will your Lordship
have the goodness to ask him, what this one instance of suspicious
behaviour towards females, on the part of this gentleman, who is old
enough to be his father, was?"

"You hear what the learned counsel says, sir," observed the judge,
turning to the miserable and agonised Mr. Winkle. "Describe the
occasion to which you refer."

"My Lord," said Mr. Winkle, trembling with anxiety, "I--I'd rather not."

"Perhaps so," said the little judge; "but you must."

Amid the profound silence of the whole court, Mr. Winkle faltered out
that the trifling circumstance of suspicion was Mr. Pickwick's being
found in a lady's sleeping apartment at midnight; which had terminated,
he believed, in the breaking off of the projected marriage of the lady
in question, and had led, he knew, to the whole party being forcibly
carried before George Nupkins, Esq., magistrate and justice of the
peace for the borough of Ipswich!

"You may leave the box, sir," said Serjeant Snubbin. Mr. Winkle _did_
leave the box, and rushed with delirious haste to the George and
Vulture, where he was discovered some hours afterwards by the waiter,
groaning in a hollow and dismal manner, with his head buried beneath
the sofa cushions.

Tracy Tupman, and Augustus Snodgrass, were severally called into the
box; both corroborated the testimony of their unhappy friend; and each
was driven to the verge of desperation by excessive badgering.

Susannah Sanders was then called, and examined by Serjeant Buzfuz,
and cross-examined by Serjeant Snubbin. Had always said and believed
that Pickwick would marry Mrs. Bardell; knew that Mrs. Bardell's
being engaged to Pickwick was the current topic of conversation in
the neighbourhood, after the fainting in July; had been told it
herself by Mrs. Mudberry which kept a mangle, and Mrs. Bunkin which
clear-starched, but did not see either Mrs. Mudberry or Mrs. Bunkin in
court. Had heard Pickwick ask the little boy how he should like to have
another father. Did not know that Mrs. Bardell was at that time keeping
company with the baker, but did know that the baker was then a single
man and is now married. Couldn't swear that Mrs. Bardell was not very
fond of the baker, but should think that the baker was not very fond
of Mrs. Bardell, or he wouldn't have married somebody else. Thought
Mrs. Bardell fainted away on the morning in July, because Pickwick
asked her to name the day: knew that she (witness) fainted away stone
dead when Mr. Sanders asked _her_ to name the day, and believed that
everybody as called herself a lady would do the same, under similar
circumstances. Heard Pickwick ask the boy the question about the
marbles, but upon her oath did not know the difference between an alley
tor and a commoney.

By the +Court+--During the period of her keeping company with Mr.
Sanders had received love-letters, like other ladies. In the course of
their correspondence Mr. Sanders had often called her a "duck," but
never "chops," nor yet "tomato sauce." He was particularly fond of
ducks. Perhaps if he had been as fond of chops and tomato sauce, he
might have called her that, as a term of affection.

Serjeant Buzfuz now rose with more importance than he had yet
exhibited, if that were possible, and vociferated: "Call Samuel Weller."

It was quite unnecessary to call Samuel Weller; for Samuel Weller
stepped briskly into the box the instant his name was pronounced;
and placing his hat on the floor, and his arms on the rail, took a
bird's-eye view of the bar, and a comprehensive survey of the bench,
with a remarkably cheerful and lively aspect.

"What's your name, sir?" inquired the judge.

"Sam Weller, my Lord," replied that gentleman.

"Do you spell it with a 'V' or a 'W'?" inquired the judge.

"That depends upon the taste and fancy of the speller, my Lord,"
replied Sam; "I never had occasion to spell it more than once or twice
in my life, but I spells it with a 'V'."

Here a voice in the gallery exclaimed aloud, "Quite right, too,
Samivel, quite right. Put it down a 'we,' my Lord, put it down a 'we'."

"Who is that who dares to address the court?" said the little judge,
looking up. "Usher!"

"Yes, my Lord."

"Bring that person here instantly."

"Yes, my Lord."

But as the usher didn't find the person, he didn't bring him; and,
after a great commotion, all the people who had got up to look for the
culprit sat down again. The little judge turned to the witness as soon
as his indignation would allow him to speak, and said,

"Do you know who that was, sir?"

"I rayther suspect it was my father, my Lord," replied Sam.

"Do you see him here, now?" said the judge.

"No, I don't, my Lord," replied Sam, staring right up into the lantern
in the roof of the court.

"If you could have pointed him out, I would have committed him
instantly," said the judge.

Sam bowed his acknowledgments and turned, with unimpaired cheerfulness
of countenance, towards Serjeant Buzfuz.

"Now, Mr. Weller," said Serjeant Buzfuz.

"Now, sir," replied Sam.

"I believe you are in the service of Mr. Pickwick, the defendant in
this case. Speak up, if you please, Mr. Weller."

"I mean to speak up, sir," replied Sam; "I am in the service of that
'ere gen'l'm'n, and a wery good service it is."

"Little to do, and plenty to get, I suppose?" said Serjeant Buzfuz,
with jocularity.

"Oh, quite enough to get, sir, as the soldier said ven they ordered him
three hundred and fifty lashes," replied Sam.

"You must not tell us what the soldier, or any other man, said, sir,"
interposed the judge, "it's not evidence."

"Wery good, my Lord," replied Sam.

"Do you recollect anything particular happening on the morning when you
were first engaged by the defendant; eh, Mr. Weller?" said Serjeant
Buzfuz.

"Yes I do, sir," replied Sam.

"Have the goodness to tell the jury what it was."

"I had a reg'lar new fit out o' clothes that mornin', gen'l'm'n of
the jury," said Sam, "and that was a wery partickler and uncommon
circumstance vith me in those days."

Hereupon there was a general laugh; and the little judge, looking with
an angry countenance over his desk, said, "You had better be careful,
sir."

"So Mr. Pickwick said at the time, my Lord," replied Sam; "and I wos
wery careful o' that 'ere suit o' clothes; wery careful indeed, my
Lord."

The judge looked sternly at Sam for full two minutes, but Sam's
features were so perfectly calm and serene that the judge said nothing,
and motioned Serjeant Buzfuz to proceed.

"Do you mean to tell me, Mr. Weller," said Serjeant Buzfuz, folding
his arms emphatically, and turning half-round to the jury, as if in
mute assurance that he would bother the witness yet: "Do you mean to
tell me, Mr. Weller, that you saw nothing of this fainting on the part
of the plaintiff in the arms of the defendant, which you have heard
described by the witnesses?"

"Certainly not," replied Sam, "I was in the passage till they called me
up, and then the old lady was not there."

"Now, attend, Mr. Weller," said Serjeant Buzfuz, dipping a large pen
into the inkstand before him, for the purpose of frightening Sam with a
show of taking down his answer. "You were in the passage, and yet saw
nothing of what was going forward. Have you a pair of eyes, Mr. Weller?"

"Yes, I have a pair of eyes," replied Sam, "and that's just it. If
they wos a pair o' patent double million magnifyin' gas microscopes of
hextra power, p'raps I might be able to see through a flight o' stairs,
and a deal door; but bein' only eyes, you see, my wision's limited."

At this answer, which was delivered without the slightest appearance
of irritation, and with the most complete simplicity and equanimity of
manner, the spectators tittered, the little judge smiled, and Serjeant
Buzfuz looked particularly foolish. After a short consultation with
Dodson and Fogg, the learned Serjeant again turned towards Sam, and
said, with a painful effort to conceal his vexation, "Now, Mr. Weller,
I'll ask you a question on another point, if you please."

"If you please, sir," rejoined Sam, with the utmost good-humour.

"Do you remember going up to Mrs. Bardell's house, one night in
November last?"

"Oh yes, wery well."

"Oh, you _do_ remember that, Mr. Weller," said Serjeant Buzfuz,
recovering his spirits; "I thought we should get something at last."

"I rayther thought that, too, sir," replied Sam; and at this the
spectators tittered again.

"Well; I suppose you went up to have a little talk about this
trial--eh, Mr. Weller?" said Serjeant Buzfuz, looking knowingly at the
jury.

"I went up to pay the rent; but we _did_ get a talkin' about the
trial," replied Sam.

"Oh, you did get a talking about the trial," said Serjeant Buzfuz,
brightening up with the anticipation of some important discovery. "Now
what passed about the trial; will you have the goodness to tell us, Mr.
Weller?"

"Vith all the pleasure in life, sir," replied Sam. "Arter a few
unimportant obserwations from the two virtuous females as has been
examined here to-day, the ladies gets into a wery great state o'
admiration at the honourable conduct of Mr. Dodson and Fogg--them two
gen'l'm'n as is settin' near you now." This, of course, drew general
attention to Dodson and Fogg, who looked as virtuous as possible.

"The attorneys for the plaintiff," said Mr. Serjeant Buzfuz. "Well!
They spoke in high praise of the honourable conduct of Messrs, Dodson
and Fogg, the attorneys for the plaintiff, did they?"

"Yes," said Sam, "they said what a wery gen'rous thing it was o' them
to have taken up the case on spec, and to charge nothing at all for
costs, unless they got 'em out of Mr. Pickwick."

At this very unexpected reply, the spectators tittered again, and
Dodson and Fogg, turning very red, leant over to Serjeant Buzfuz, and
in a hurried manner whispered something in his ear.

"You are quite right," said Serjeant Buzfuz aloud, with affected
composure. "It's perfectly useless, my lord, attempting to get at any
evidence through the impenetrable stupidity of this witness. I will not
trouble the court by asking him any more questions. Stand down, sir."

"Would any other gen'l'm'n like to ask me anythin'?" inquired Sam,
taking up his hat, and looking round most deliberately.

"Not I, Mr. Weller, thank you," said Serjeant Snubbin, laughing.

"You may go down, sir," said Serjeant Buzfuz, waving his hand
impatiently. Sam went down accordingly, after doing Messrs. Dodson and
Fogg's case as much harm as he conveniently could, and saying just as
little respecting Mr. Pickwick as might be, which was precisely the
object he had had in view all along.

"I have no objection to admit, my Lord," said Serjeant Snubbin, "if it
will save the examination of another witness, that Mr. Pickwick has
retired from business, and is a gentleman of considerable independent
property."

"Very well," said Serjeant Buzfuz, putting in the two letters to be
read. "Then that's my case, my Lord."

Serjeant Snubbin then addressed the jury on behalf of the defendant;
and a very long and a very emphatic address he delivered, in which he
bestowed the highest possible eulogiums on the conduct and character
of Mr. Pickwick; but inasmuch as our readers are far better able to
form a correct estimate of that gentleman's merits and deserts, than
Serjeant Snubbin could possibly be, we do not feel called upon to enter
at any length into the learned gentleman's observations. He attempted
to show that the letters which had been exhibited, merely related to
Mr. Pickwick's dinner, or to the preparations for receiving him in his
apartments on his return from some country excursion. It is sufficient
to add in general terms, that he did the best he could for Mr.
Pickwick; and the best, as everybody knows, on the infallible authority
of the old adage, could do no more.

Mr. Justice Stareleigh summed up, in the old-established and most
approved form. He read as much of his notes to the jury as he could
decipher on so short a notice, and made running comments on the
evidence as he went along. If Mrs. Bardell were right, it was perfectly
clear that Mr. Pickwick was wrong, and if they thought the evidence
of Mrs. Cluppins worthy of credence they would believe it, and, if
they didn't, why they wouldn't. If they were satisfied that a breach
of promise of marriage had been committed, they would find for the
plaintiff with such damages as they thought proper; and if, on the
other hand, it appeared to them that no promise of marriage had ever
been given, they would find for the defendant with no damages at all.
The jury then retired to their private room to talk the matter over,
and the judge retired to _his_ private room, to refresh himself with a
mutton chop and a glass of sherry.

An anxious quarter of an hour elapsed; the jury came back; the judge
was fetched in. Mr. Pickwick put on his spectacles, and gazed at the
foreman with an agitated countenance and a quickly beating heart.

"Gentlemen," said the individual in black, "are you all agreed upon
your verdict?"

"We are," replied the foreman.

"Do you find for the plaintiff, gentlemen, or for the defendant?"

"For the plaintiff."

"With what damages, gentlemen?"

"Seven hundred and fifty pounds."

Mr. Pickwick took off his spectacles, carefully wiped the glasses,
folded them into their case, and put them in his pocket; then having
drawn on his gloves with great nicety, and stared at the foreman all
the while, he mechanically followed Mr. Perker and the blue bag out of
court.

They stopped in a side room while Perker paid the court fees; and here,
Mr. Pickwick was joined by his friends. Here, too, he encountered
Messrs. Dodson and Fogg, rubbing their hands with every token of
outward satisfaction.

"Well, gentlemen?" said Mr. Pickwick.

"Well, sir?" said Dodson: for self and partner.

"You imagine you'll get your costs, don't you, gentlemen?" said Mr.
Pickwick.

Fogg said they thought it rather probable. Dodson smiled, and said
they'd try.

"You may try, and try, and try again, Messrs. Dodson and Fogg," said
Mr. Pickwick vehemently, "but not one farthing of costs or damages do
you ever get from me, if I spend the rest of my existence in a debtor's
prison."

"Ha, ha!" laughed Dodson. "You'll think better of that, before next
term, Mr. Pickwick."

"He, he, he! We'll soon see about that, Mr. Pickwick," grinned Fogg.

Speechless with indignation, Mr. Pickwick allowed himself to be led
by his solicitor and friends to the door, and there assisted into
a hackney-coach, which had been fetched for the purpose, by the
ever-watchful Sam Weller.

Sam had put up the steps, and was preparing to jump upon the box, when
he felt himself gently touched on the shoulder; and looking round,
his father stood before him. The old gentleman's countenance wore a
mournful expression, as he shook his head gravely, and said, in warning
accents:

"I know'd what 'ud come o' this here mode o' doin' bisness. Oh Sammy,
Sammy, vy worn't there a alleybi!"



CHAPTER VII

[Illustration]

  _In which Mr. Pickwick thinks he had better go to Bath and goes
    Accordingly_


"But surely, my dear sir," said little Perker, as he stood in Mr.
Pickwick's apartment on the morning after the trial: "surely you don't
really mean--really and seriously now, and irritation apart--that you
won't pay these costs and damages?"

"Not one halfpenny," said Mr. Pickwick, firmly; "not one halfpenny."

"Hooroar for the principle, as the money-lender said ven he vouldn't
renew the bill," observed Mr. Weller, who was clearing away the
breakfast things.

"Sam," said Mr. Pickwick, "have the goodness to step down-stairs."

"Cert'nly, sir," replied Mr. Weller; and acting on Mr. Pickwick's
gentle hint, Sam retired.

"No, Perker," said Mr. Pickwick, with great seriousness of manner, "my
friends here have endeavoured to dissuade me from this determination,
but without avail. I shall employ myself as usual, until the opposite
party have the power of issuing a legal process of execution against
me; and if they are vile enough to avail themselves of it, and to
arrest my person, I shall yield myself up with perfect cheerfulness and
content of heart. When can they do this?"

"They can issue execution, my dear sir, for the amount of the damages
and taxed costs, next term," replied Perker; "just two months hence, my
dear sir."

"Very good," said Mr. Pickwick. "Until that time, my dear fellow,
let me hear no more of the matter. And now," continued Mr. Pickwick,
looking round on his friends with a good-humoured smile, and a sparkle
in the eye which no spectacles could dim or conceal, "the only question
is, Where shall we go next?"

Mr. Tupman and Mr. Snodgrass were too much affected by their friend's
heroism to offer any reply. Mr. Winkle had not yet sufficiently
recovered the recollection of his evidence at the trial, to make any
observations on any subject, so Mr. Pickwick paused in vain.

"Well," said that gentleman, "if you leave me to suggest our
destination, I say Bath. I think none of us have ever been there."

Nobody had; and as the proposition was warmly seconded by Perker,
who considered it extremely probable that if Mr. Pickwick saw a
little change and gaiety he would be inclined to think better of
his determination, and worse of a debtor's prison, it was carried
unanimously: and Sam was at once despatched to the White Horse Cellar,
to take five places by the half-past seven o'clock coach, next morning.

There were just two places to be had inside, and just three to be had
out; so Sam Weller booked for them all, and having exchanged a few
compliments with the booking-office clerk on the subject of a pewter
half-crown which was tendered him as a portion of his "change," walked
back to the George and Vulture, where he was pretty busily employed
until bed-time in reducing clothes and linen into the smallest possible
compass, and exerting his mechanical genius in constructing a variety
of ingenious devices for keeping the lids on boxes which had neither
locks nor hinges.

The next was a very unpropitious morning for a journey--muggy, damp,
and drizzly. The horses in the stages that were going out, and had come
through the city, were smoking so that the outside passengers were
invisible. The newspaper-sellers looked moist, and smelt mouldy; the
wet ran off the hats of the orange-vendors as they thrust their heads
into the coach-windows, and diluted the insides in a refreshing manner.
The Jews with the fifty-bladed penknives shut them up in despair; the
men with the pocket-books made pocket-books of them. Watch-guards and
toasting-forks were alike at a discount, and pencil-cases and sponges
were a drug in the market.

Leaving Sam Weller to rescue the luggage from the seven or eight
porters who flung themselves savagely upon it, the moment the coach
stopped: and finding that they were about twenty minutes too early;
Mr. Pickwick and his friends went for shelter into the travellers'
room--the last resource of human dejection.

The travellers' room at the White Horse Cellar is of course
uncomfortable; it would be no travellers' room if it were not. It is
the right-hand parlour, into which an aspiring kitchen fire-place
appears to have walked, accompanied by a rebellious poker, tongs, and
shovel. It is divided into boxes, for the solitary confinement of
travellers, and is furnished with a clock, a looking-glass, and a live
waiter; which latter article is kept in a small kennel for washing
glasses, in the corner of the apartment.

One of these boxes was occupied, on this particular occasion, by a
stern-eyed man of about five-and-forty, who had a bald and glossy
forehead, with a good deal of black hair at the sides and back of his
head, and large black whiskers. He was buttoned up to the chin in a
brown coat; and had a large sealskin travelling cap, and a great-coat
and cloak, lying on the seat beside him. He looked up from his
breakfast as Mr. Pickwick entered, with a fierce and peremptory air,
which was very dignified; and having scrutinised that gentleman and
his companions to his entire satisfaction, hummed a tune, in a manner
which seemed to say that he rather suspected somebody wanted to take
advantage of him, but it wouldn't do.

"Waiter," said the gentleman with the whiskers.

"Sir?" replied a man with a dirty complexion, and a towel of the same,
emerging from the kennel before mentioned.

"Some more toast."

"Yes, sir."

"Buttered toast, mind," said the gentleman, fiercely.

"D'rectly, sir," replied the waiter.

The gentleman with the whiskers hummed a tune in the same manner as
before, and pending the arrival of the toast advanced to the front
of the fire, and taking his coat-tails under his arms, looked at his
boots, and ruminated.

"I wonder whereabouts in Bath this coach puts up?" said Mr. Pickwick,
mildly addressing Mr. Winkle.

"Hum--eh--what's that?" said the strange man.

"I made an observation to my friend, sir," replied Mr. Pickwick, always
ready to enter into conversation. "I wondered at what house the Bath
coach put up. Perhaps you can inform me?"

"Are you going to Bath?" said the strange man.

"I am, sir," replied Mr. Pickwick.

"And those other gentlemen?"

"They are going also," said Mr. Pickwick.

"Not inside--I'll be damned if you're going inside," said the strange
man.

"Not all of us," said Mr. Pickwick.

"No, not all of you," said the strange man emphatically. "I've taken
two places. If they try to squeeze six people into an infernal box that
only holds four, I'll take a post-chaise and bring an action. I've paid
my fare. It won't do; I told the clerk when I took my places that it
wouldn't do. I know these things have been done. I know they are done
every day; but _I_ never was done, and I never will be. Those who know
me best, best know it; crush me!" Here the fierce gentleman rang the
bell with great violence, and told the waiter he'd better bring the
toast in five seconds, or he'd know the reason why.

"My good sir," said Mr. Pickwick, "you will allow me to observe that
this is a very unnecessary display of excitement. I have only taken
places inside for two."

"I am glad to hear it," said the fierce man. "I withdraw my expressions.
I tender an apology. There's my card. Give me your acquaintance."

"With great pleasure, sir," replied Mr. Pickwick. "We are to be
fellow-travellers, and I hope shall find each other's society mutually
agreeable."

"I hope we shall," said the fierce gentleman. "I know we shall. I like
your looks; they please me. Gentlemen, your hands and names. Know me."

Of course, an interchange of friendly salutations followed this
gracious speech, and the fierce gentleman immediately proceeded to
inform the friends, in the same short, abrupt, jerking sentences,
that his name was Dowler; that he was going to Bath on pleasure; that
he was formerly in the army; that he had now set up in business as a
gentleman; that he lived upon the profits; and that the individual for
whom the second place was taken, was a personage no less illustrious
than Mrs. Dowler, his lady wife.

"She's a fine woman," said Mr. Dowler. "I am proud of her. I have
reason."

"I hope I shall have the pleasure of judging," said Mr. Pickwick, with
a smile.

"You shall," replied Dowler. "She shall know you. She shall esteem you.
I courted her under singular circumstances. I won her through a rash
vow. Thus. I saw her; I loved her: I proposed; she refused me.--'You
love another?'--'Spare my blushes.'--'I know him.'--'You do.'--'Very
good; if he remains here, I'll skin him.'"

"Lord bless me!" exclaimed Mr. Pickwick, involuntarily.

"Did you skin the gentleman, sir?" inquired Mr. Winkle, with a very
pale face.

"I wrote him a note. I said it was a painful thing. And so it was."

"Certainly," interposed Mr. Winkle.

"I said I had pledged my word as a gentleman to skin him. My character
was at stake. I had no alternative. As an officer in His Majesty's
service, I was bound to skin him. I regretted the necessity, but it
must be done. He was open to conviction. He saw that the rules of the
service were imperative. He fled. I married her. Here's the coach.
That's her head."

As Mr. Dowler concluded, he pointed to a stage which had just driven
up, from the open window of which a rather pretty face in a bright blue
bonnet was looking among the crowd on the pavement: most probably for
the rash man himself. Mr. Dowler paid his bill and hurried out with
his travelling-cap, coat, and cloak; and Mr. Pickwick and his friends
followed to secure their places.

Mr. Tupman and Mr. Snodgrass had seated themselves at the back part of
the coach; Mr. Winkle had got inside; and Mr. Pickwick was preparing to
follow him, when Sam Weller came up to his master, and whispering in
his ear, begged to speak to him, with an air of the deepest mystery.

"Well, Sam," said Mr. Pickwick, "what's the matter now?"

"Here's rayther a rum go, sir," replied Sam.

"What?" inquired Mr. Pickwick.

"This here, sir," rejoined Sam. "I'm wery much afeerd, sir, that the
properiator o' this here coach is a playin' some imperence vith us."

"How is that, Sam?" said Mr. Pickwick; "aren't the names down on the
way-bill?"

"The names is not only down on the vay-bill, sir," replied Sam, "but
they've painted vun on 'em up, on the door o' the coach." As Sam spoke,
he pointed to that part of the coach door on which the proprietor's
name usually appears; and there, sure enough, in gilt letters of a
goodly size, was the magic name of +Pickwick+!

"Dear me," exclaimed Mr. Pickwick, quite staggered by the coincidence;
"what a very extraordinary thing!"

"Yes, but that ain't all," said Sam, again directing his master's
attention to the coach door; "not content vith writin' up Pickwick,
they puts 'Moses' afore it, vich I call addin' insult to injury, as the
parrot said ven they not only took him from his native land, but made
him talk the English langwidge arterwards."

"It's odd enough certainly, Sam," said Mr. Pickwick; "but if we stand
talking here, we shall lose our places."

"Wot, ain't nothin' to be done in consequence, sir?" exclaimed Sam,
perfectly aghast at the coolness with which Mr. Pickwick prepared to
ensconce himself inside.

"Done!" said Mr. Pickwick. "What should be done?"

"Ain't nobody to be whopped for takin' this here liberty, sir?"
said Mr. Weller, who had expected that at least he would have been
commissioned to challenge the guard and coachman to a pugilistic
encounter on the spot.

"Certainly not," replied Mr. Pickwick, eagerly; "not on any account.
Jump up to your seat directly."

"I'm wery much afeerd," muttered Sam to himself, as he turned away,
"that somethin' queer's come over the governor, or he'd never ha'
stood this so quiet. I hope that 'ere trial hasn't broke his spirit,
but it looks bad, wery bad." Mr. Weller shook his head gravely; and
it is worthy of remark, as an illustration of the manner in which he
took this circumstance to heart, that he did not speak another word
until the coach reached the Kensington turnpike, which was so long a
time for him to remain taciturn, that the fact may be considered wholly
unprecedented.

Nothing worthy of special mention occurred during the journey. Mr.
Dowler related a variety of anecdotes, all illustrative of his own
personal prowess and desperation, and appealed to Mrs. Dowler in
corroboration thereof: when Mrs. Dowler invariably brought in, in the
form of an appendix, some remarkable fact or circumstance which Mr.
Dowler had forgotten, or had perhaps through modesty omitted: for the
addenda in every instance went to show that Mr. Dowler was even more
wonderful a fellow than he made himself out to be. Mr. Pickwick and
Mr. Winkle listened with great admiration, and at intervals conversed
with Mrs. Dowler, who was a very agreeable and fascinating person. So
what between Mr. Dowler's stories, and Mrs. Dowler's charms, and Mr.
Pickwick's good humour, and Mr. Winkle's good listening, the insides
contrived to be very companionable all the way.

The outsides did as outsides always do. They were very cheerful and
talkative at the beginning of every stage, and very dismal and sleepy
in the middle, and very bright and wakeful again towards the end. There
was one young gentleman in an india-rubber cloak, who smoked cigars
all day; and there was another young gentleman in a parody upon a
great-coat, who lighted a good many, and feeling obviously unsettled
after the second whiff, threw them away when he thought nobody was
looking at him. There was a third young man on the box who wished to be
learned in cattle, and an old one behind who was familiar with farming.
There was a constant succession of Christian names in smock frocks and
white coats, who were invited to have a "lift" by the guard, and who
knew every horse and hostler on the road and off it: and there was a
dinner which would have been cheap at half-a-crown a mouth, if any
moderate number of mouths could have eaten it in the time. And at seven
o'clock +P.M.+, Mr. Pickwick and his friends, and Mr. Dowler and his
wife, respectively retired to their private sitting-rooms at the White
Hart Hotel, opposite the Great Pump Room, Bath, where the waiters,
from their costume, might be mistaken for Westminster boys, only they
destroy the illusion by behaving themselves much better.

Breakfast had scarcely been cleared away on the succeeding morning,
when a waiter brought in Mr. Dowler's card, with a request to be
allowed permission to introduce a friend. Mr. Dowler at once followed
up the delivery of the card, by bringing himself and the friend also.

The friend was a charming young man of not much more than fifty,
dressed in a very bright blue coat with resplendent buttons, black
trousers, and the thinnest possible pair of highly-polished boots.
A gold eye-glass was suspended from his neck by a short broad black
ribbon; a gold snuff-box was lightly clasped in his left hand; gold
rings innumerable glittered on his fingers; and a large diamond pin set
in gold glistened in his shirt frill. He had a gold watch, and a gold
curb chain with large gold seals; and he carried a pliant ebony cane
with a heavy gold top. His linen was of the very whitest, finest, and
stiffest; his wig of the glossiest, blackest, and curliest. His snuff
was prince's mixture; his scent _bouquet du roi_. His features were
contracted into a perpetual smile; and his teeth were in such perfect
order that it was difficult at a small distance to tell the real from
the false.

"Mr. Pickwick," said Mr. Dowler; "my friend, Angelo Cyrus Bantam,
Esquire, M.C. Bantam; Mr. Pickwick. Know each other."

"Welcome to Ba--ath, sir. This is indeed an acquisition. Most welcome
to Ba--ath, sir. It is long--very long, Mr. Pickwick, since you drank
the waters. It appears an age, Mr. Pickwick. Re--markable!"

Such were the expressions with which Angelo Cyrus Bantam, Esquire,
M.C., took Mr. Pickwick's hand; retaining it in his, meantime, and
shrugging up his shoulders with a constant succession of bows, as if he
really could not make up his mind to the trial of letting it go again.

"It is a very long time since I drank the waters, certainly," replied
Mr. Pickwick; "for to the best of my knowledge, I was never here
before."

"Never in Ba--ath, Mr. Pickwick!" exclaimed the Grand Master, letting
the hand fall in astonishment. "Never in Ba--ath! He! he! Mr. Pickwick,
you are a wag. Not bad, not bad. Good, good. He! he! he! Re--markable!"

"To my shame, I must say that I am perfectly serious," rejoined Mr.
Pickwick. "I really never was here before."

"Oh, I see," exclaimed the Grand Master, looking extremely pleased;
"yes, yes--good, good--better and better. You are the gentleman of whom
we have heard. Yes; we know you, Mr. Pickwick; we know you."

"The reports of the trial in those confounded papers," thought Mr.
Pickwick. "They have heard all about me."

"You are the gentleman residing on Clapham Green," resumed Bantam,
"who lost the use of his limbs from imprudently taking cold after port
wine; who could not be moved in consequence of acute suffering, and who
had the water from the King's Bath bottled at one hundred and three
degrees, and sent by waggon to his bed-room in town, where he bathed,
sneezed, and same day recovered. Very re--markable!"

Mr. Pickwick acknowledged the compliment which the supposition
implied, but had the self-denial to repudiate it, notwithstanding; and
taking advantage of a moment's silence on the part of the M.C., begged
to introduce his friends, Mr. Tupman, Mr. Winkle, and Mr. Snodgrass. An
introduction which overwhelmed the M.C. with delight and honour.

"Bantam," said Mr. Dowler, "Mr. Pickwick and his friends are strangers.
They must put their names down. Where's the book?"

"The register of the distinguished visitors in Ba--ath will be at the
Pump Room this morning at two o'clock," replied the M.C. "Will you
guide our friends to that splendid building, and enable me to procure
their autographs?"

"I will," rejoined Dowler. "This is a long call. It's time to go. I
shall be here again in an hour. Come."

"This is a ball-night," said the M.C., again taking Mr. Pickwick's hand
as he rose to go. "The ball-nights in Ba--ath are moments snatched from
Paradise; rendered bewitching by music, beauty, elegance, fashion,
etiquette, and--and--above all, by the absence of tradespeople, who
are quite inconsistent with Paradise; and who have an amalgamation
of themselves at the Guildhall every fortnight, which is, to say the
least, remarkable. Good-bye, good-bye!" and protesting all the way
down-stairs that he was most satisfied, and most delighted, and most
overpowered, and most flattered, Angelo Cyrus Bantam, Esquire, M.C.,
stepped into a very elegant chariot that waited at the door, and
rattled off.

At the appointed hour, Mr. Pickwick and his friends, escorted by
Dowler, repaired to the Assembly Rooms, and wrote their names down in
a book. An instance of condescension at which Angelo Bantam was even
more overpowered than before. Tickets of admission to that evening's
assembly were to have been prepared for the whole party, but as they
were not ready, Mr. Pickwick undertook, despite all the protestations
to the contrary of Angelo Bantam, to send Sam for them at four o'clock
in the afternoon, to the M.C.'s house in Queen Square. Having taken a
short walk through the city, and arrived at the unanimous conclusion
that Park Street was very much like the perpendicular streets a man
sees in a dream, which he cannot get up for the life of him, they
returned to the White Hart, and despatched Sam on the errand to which
his master had pledged him.

Sam Weller put on his hat in a very easy and graceful manner, and
thrusting his hands in his waistcoat pockets, walked with great
deliberation to Queen Square, whistling, as he went along, several
of the most popular airs of the day, as arranged with entirely new
movements for that noble instrument the organ, either mouth or
barrel. Arriving at the number in Queen Square to which he had been
directed, he left off whistling, and gave a cheerful knock, which was
instantaneously answered by a powdered-headed footman in gorgeous
livery, and of symmetrical stature.

"Is this here Mr. Bantam's, old feller?" inquired Sam Weller, nothing
abashed by the blaze of splendour which burst upon his sight, in the
person of the powdered-headed footman with the gorgeous livery.

"Why, young man?" was the haughty inquiry of the powdered-headed
footman.

"'Cos if it is, jist you step into him with that 'ere card, and say Mr.
Veller's a waitin', will you?" said Sam. And saying it, he very coolly
walked into the hall, and sat down.

The powdered-headed footman slammed the door very hard, and scowled
very grandly; but both the slam and the scowl were lost upon Sam, who
was regarding a mahogany umbrella-stand with every outward token of
critical approval.

Apparently, his master's reception of the card had impressed the
powdered-headed footman in Sam's favour, for when he came back from
delivering it, he smiled in a friendly manner, and said that the answer
would be ready directly.

"Wery good," said Sam. "Tell the old gen'l'm'n not to put himself in a
perspiration. No hurry, six-foot. I've had my dinner."

"You dine early, sir," said the powdered-headed footman.

"I find I gets on better at supper when I does," replied Sam.

"Have you been long in Bath, sir?" inquired the powdered-headed
footman. "I have not had the pleasure of hearing of you before."

"I haven't created any wery surprisin' sensation here, as yet,"
rejoined Sam, "for me and the other fashionables only come last night."

"Nice place, sir," said the powdered-headed footman.

"Seems so," observed Sam.

"Pleasant society, sir," remarked the powdered-headed footman. "Very
agreeable servants, sir."

"I should think they wos," replied Sam. "Affable, unaffected,
say-nothing-to-nobody sort o' fellers."

"Oh, very much so indeed, sir," said the powdered-headed footman,
taking Sam's remark as a high compliment. "Very much so indeed. Do you
do anything in this way, sir?" inquired the tall footman, producing a
small snuff-box with a fox's head on the top of it.

"Not without sneezing," replied Sam.

"Why, it _is_ difficult, sir, I confess," said the tall footman. "It
may be done by degrees, sir. Coffee is the best practice. I carried
coffee, sir, for a long time. It looks very like rappee, sir."

Here, a sharp peal at the bell, reduced the powdered-headed footman
to the ignominious necessity of putting the fox's head in his pocket,
and hastening with a humble countenance to Mr. Bantam's "study."
By-the-bye, who ever knew a man who never read, or wrote either, who
hadn't got some small back parlour which he _would_ call a study?

"There is the answer, sir," said the powdered-headed footman. "I am
afraid you'll find it inconveniently large."

"Don't mention it," said Sam, taking a letter with a small enclosure.
"It's just possible as exhausted nature may manage to surwive it."

"I hope we shall meet again, sir," said the powdered-headed footman,
rubbing his hands, and following Sam out to the door-step.

"You are wery obligin', sir," replied Sam. "Now, don't allow yourself
to be fatigued beyond your powers; there's a amiable bein'. Consider
what you owe to society, and don't let yourself be injured by too much
work. For the sake o' your feller creeturs, keep yourself as quiet as
you can; only think what a loss you would be!" With these pathetic
words, Sam Weller departed.

"A very singular young man that," said the powdered-headed footman,
looking after Mr. Weller, with a countenance which clearly showed he
could make nothing of him.

Sam said nothing at all. He winked, shook his head, smiled, winked
again; and with an expression of countenance which seemed to denote
that he was greatly amused with something or other, walked merrily away.

[Illustration: _"Do you do anything in this way, sir?" inquired the
tall footman_]

At precisely twenty minutes before eight o'clock that night, Angelo
Cyrus Bantam, Esq., the Master of the Ceremonies, emerged from his
chariot at the door of the Assembly Rooms in the same wig, the same
teeth, the same eye-glass, the same watch and seals, the same rings,
the same shirt-pin, and the same cane. The only observable alterations
in his appearance were, that he wore a brighter blue coat, with a white
silk lining: black tights, black silk stockings, and pumps, and a white
waistcoat, and was, if possible, just a thought more scented.

Thus attired, the Master of the Ceremonies, in strict discharge of the
important duties of his all-important office, planted himself in the
rooms to receive the company.

Bath being full, the company and the sixpences for tea poured in, in
shoals. In the ball-room, the long card-room, the octagonal card-room,
the staircases, and the passages, the hum of many voices and the sound
of many feet were perfectly bewildering. Dresses rustled, feathers
waved, lights shone, and jewels sparkled. There was the music--not of
the quadrille band, for it had not yet commenced; but the music of
soft tiny footsteps, with now and then a clear merry laugh--low and
gentle, but very pleasant to hear in a female voice, whether in Bath
or elsewhere. Brilliant eyes, lighted up with pleasurable expectation,
gleamed from every side; and look where you would, some exquisite form
glided gracefully through the throng, and was no sooner lost, than it
was replaced by another as dainty and bewitching.

In the tea-room, and hovering round the card-tables, were a vast
number of queer old ladies and decrepit old gentlemen, discussing
all the small talk and scandal of the day, with a relish and gusto
which sufficiently bespoke the intensity of the pleasure they derived
from the occupation. Mingled with these groups, were three or four
matchmaking mammas, appearing to be wholly absorbed by the conversation
in which they were taking part, but failing not from time to time to
cast an anxious sidelong glance upon their daughters, who, remembering
the maternal injunction to make the best use of their youth, had
already commenced incipient flirtations in the mislaying of scarves,
putting on gloves, setting down cups, and so forth; slight matters
apparently, but which may be turned to surprisingly good account by
expert practitioners.

Lounging near the doors, and in remote corners, were various knots
of silly young men, displaying various varieties of puppyism and
stupidity; amusing all sensible people near them with their folly
and conceit; and happily thinking themselves the objects of general
admiration. A wise and merciful dispensation which no good man will
quarrel with.

And lastly, seated on some of the back benches, where they had already
taken up their positions for the evening, were divers unmarried ladies
past their grand climacteric, who, not dancing because there were no
partners for them, and not playing cards lest they should be set down
as irretrievably single, were in the favourable situation of being
able to abuse everybody without reflecting on themselves. In short,
they could abuse everybody, because everybody was there. It was a
scene of gaiety, glitter, and show; of richly-dressed people, handsome
mirrors, chalked floors, girandoles, and wax candles; and in all parts
of the scene, gliding from spot to spot in silent softness, bowing
obsequiously to this party, nodding familiarly to that, and smiling
complacently on all, was the sprucely attired person of Angelo Cyrus
Bantam, Esquire, Master of the Ceremonies.

"Stop in the tea-room. Take your sixpenn'orth. They lay on hot water,
and call it tea. Drink it," said Mr. Dowler, in a loud voice, directing
Mr. Pickwick, who advanced at the head of the little party, with Mrs.
Dowler on his arm. Into the tea-room Mr. Pickwick turned; and catching
sight of him, Mr. Bantam cork-screwed his way through the crowd, and
welcomed him with ecstasy.

"My dear sir, I am highly honoured. Ba--ath is favoured. Mrs. Dowler,
you embellish the rooms. I congratulate you on your feathers.
Re--markable!"

"Anybody here?" inquired Dowler, suspiciously.

"Anybody! The _élite_ of Ba--ath. Mr. Pickwick, do you see the lady in
the gauze turban?"

"The fat old lady?" inquired Mr. Pickwick, innocently.

"Hush, my dear sir--nobody's fat or old in Ba--ath. That's the Dowager
Lady Snuphanuph."

"Is it indeed?" said Mr. Pickwick.

"No less a person, I assure you," said the Master of the Ceremonies.
"Hush. Draw a little nearer, Mr. Pickwick. You see the splendidly
dressed young man coming this way?"

"The one with the long hair, and the particularly small forehead?"
inquired Mr. Pickwick.

"The same. The richest young man in Ba--ath at this moment. Young Lord
Mutanhed."

"You don't say so?" said Mr. Pickwick.

"Yes. You'll hear his voice in a moment, Mr. Pickwick. He'll speak to
me. The other gentleman with him, in the red under-waistcoat and dark
moustache, is the Honourable Mr. Crushton, his bosom friend. How do you
do, my lord?"

"Veway hot, Bantam," said his lordship.

"It _is_ very warm, my lord," replied the M.C.

"Confounded," assented the Honourable Mr. Crushton.

"Have you seen his lordship's mail cart, Bantam?" inquired the
Honourable Mr. Crushton, after a short pause, during which young
Lord Mutanhed had been endeavouring to stare Mr. Pickwick out of
countenance, and Mr. Crushton had been reflecting what subject his
lordship could talk about best.

"Dear me, no," replied the M.C. "A mail cart! What an excellent idea.
Re--markable!"

"Gwacious heavens!" said his lordship, "I thought evewebody had seen
the new mail cart; it's the neatest, pwettiest, gwacefullest thing that
ever wan upon wheels. Painted wed, with a cweam piebald."

"With a real box for the letters, and all complete," said the
Honourable Mr. Crushton.

"And a little seat in fwont, with an iwon wail, for the dwiver," added
his lordship. "I dwove it over to Bristol the other morning, in a
cwimson coat, with two servants widing a quarter of a mile behind; and
confound me if the people didn't wush out of their cottages, and awest
my pwogwess, to know if I wasn't the post. Glorwious, glorwious!"

At this anecdote his lordship laughed very heartily, as did the
listeners, of course. Then, drawing his arm through that of the
obsequious Mr. Crushton, Lord Mutanhed walked away.

"Delightful young man, his lordship," said the Master of the
Ceremonies.

"So I should think," rejoined Mr. Pickwick, drily.

The dancing having commenced, the necessary introductions having been
made, and all preliminaries arranged, Angelo Bantam rejoined Mr.
Pickwick, and led him into the card-room.

Just at the very moment of their entrance, the Dowager Lady Snuphanuph
and two other ladies of an ancient and whist-like appearance, were
hovering over an unoccupied card-table; and they no sooner set eyes
upon Mr. Pickwick under the convoy of Angelo Bantam, than they
exchanged glances with each other, seeing that he was precisely the
very person they wanted, to make up the rubber.

"My dear Bantam," said the Dowager Lady Snuphanuph, coaxingly, "find
us some nice creature to make up this table; there's a good soul."
Mr. Pickwick happened to be looking another way at the moment, so her
ladyship nodded her head towards him, and frowned expressively.

"My friend, Mr. Pickwick, my lady, will be most happy, I am sure,
re--markably so," said the M.C., taking the hint. "Mr. Pickwick, Lady
Snuphanuph--Mrs. Colonel Wugsby--Miss Bolo."

Mr. Pickwick bowed to each of the ladies, and, finding escape
impossible, cut. Mr. Pickwick and Miss Bolo against Lady Snuphanuph and
Mrs. Colonel Wugsby.

As the trump card was turned up at the commencement of the second deal,
two young ladies hurried into the room, and took their stations on
either side of Mrs. Colonel Wugsby's chair, where they waited patiently
until the hand was over.

"Now, Jane," said Mrs. Colonel Wugsby, turning to one of the girls,
"what is it?"

"I came to ask, ma, whether I might dance with the youngest Mr.
Crawley," whispered the prettier and younger of the two.

"Good God, Jane, how can you think of such things?" replied the mamma,
indignantly. "Haven't you repeatedly heard that his father has eight
hundred a-year, which dies with him? I am ashamed of you. Not on any
account."

"Ma," whispered the other, who was much older than her sister and very
insipid and artificial, "Lord Mutanhed has been introduced to me. I
said I _thought_ I wasn't engaged, ma."

"You're a sweet pet, my love," replied Mrs. Colonel Wugsby, tapping
her daughter's cheek with her fan, "and are always to be trusted. He's
immensely rich, my dear. Bless you!" With these words Mrs. Colonel
Wugsby kissed her eldest daughter most affectionately, and frowning, in
a warning manner, upon the other, sorted her cards.

Poor Mr. Pickwick! he had never played with three thorough-paced female
card-players before. They were so desperately sharp, that they quite
frightened him. If he played a wrong card, Miss Bolo looked a small
armoury of daggers; if he stopped to consider which was the right one,
Lady Snuphanuph would throw herself back in her chair, and smile with
a mingled glance of impatience and pity to Mrs. Colonel Wugsby; at
which Mrs. Colonel Wugsby would shrug up her shoulders and cough, as
much as to say she wondered whether he ever would begin. Then, at the
end of every hand, Miss Bolo would inquire with a dismal countenance
and reproachful sigh, why Mr. Pickwick had not returned that diamond,
or led the club, or roughed the spade, or finessed the heart, or led
through the honour, or brought out the ace, or played up to the king,
or some such thing; and in reply to all these grave charges, Mr.
Pickwick would be wholly unable to plead any justification whatever,
having by this time forgotten all about the game. People came and
looked on, too, which made Mr. Pickwick nervous. Besides all this,
there was a great deal of distracting conversation near the table,
between Angelo Bantam and the two Miss Matinters, who, being single
and singular, paid great court to the Master of the Ceremonies, in
the hope of getting a stray partner now and then. All these things,
combined with the noises and interruptions of constant comings in and
goings out, made Mr. Pickwick play rather badly; the cards were against
him also; and when they left off at ten minutes past eleven, Miss Bolo
rose from the table considerably agitated, and went straight home, in a
flood of tears, and a sedan chair.

Being joined by his friends, who one and all protested that they had
scarcely ever spent a more pleasant evening, Mr. Pickwick accompanied
them to the White Hart, and having soothed his feelings with something
hot, went to bed, and to sleep, almost simultaneously.



CHAPTER VIII

[Illustration]

  _The Chief Features of which, will be found to be an Authentic
    Version of the Legend of Prince Bladud, and a most extraordinary
    Calamity that befell Mr. Winkle_


As Mr. Pickwick contemplated a stay of at least two months in Bath, he
deemed it advisable to take private lodgings for himself and friends
for that period; and as a favourable opportunity offered for their
securing, on moderate terms, the upper portion of a house in the Royal
Crescent, which was larger than they required, Mr. and Mrs. Dowler
offered to relieve them of a bedroom and sitting-room. This proposition
was at once accepted, and in three days' time they were all located
in their new abode, when Mr. Pickwick began to drink the waters with
the utmost assiduity. Mr. Pickwick took them systematically. He drank
a quarter of a pint before breakfast, and then walked up a hill; and
another quarter of a pint after breakfast, and then walked down a hill;
and after every fresh quarter of a pint, Mr. Pickwick declared, in
the most solemn and emphatic terms, that he felt a great deal better:
whereat his friends were very much delighted, though they had not been
previously aware that there was anything the matter with him.

The great pump-room is a spacious saloon, ornamented with Corinthian
pillars, and a music gallery, and a Tompion clock, and a statue of
Nash, and a golden inscription, to which all the water-drinkers should
attend, for it appeals to them in the cause of a deserving charity.
There is a large bar with a marble vase, out of which the pumper gets
the water; and there are a number of yellow-looking tumblers, out of
which the company get it; and it is a most edifying and satisfactory
sight to behold the perseverance and gravity with which they swallow
it. There are baths near at hand, in which a part of the company wash
themselves; and a band plays afterwards, to congratulate the remainder
on their having done so. There is another pump-room, into which infirm
ladies and gentlemen are wheeled, in such an astonishing variety of
chairs and chaises, that any adventurous individual who goes in with
the regular number of toes, is in imminent danger of coming out without
them; and there is a third, into which the quiet people go, for it
is less noisy than either. There is an immensity of promenading,
on crutches and off, with sticks and without, and a great deal of
conversation, and liveliness, and pleasantry.

Every morning the regular water-drinkers, Mr. Pickwick among the
number, met each other in the pump-room, took their quarter of a
pint, and walked constitutionally. At the afternoon's promenade, Lord
Mutanhed, and the Honourable Mr. Crushton, the Dowager Lady Snuphanuph,
Mrs. Colonel Wugsby, and all the great people, and all the morning
water-drinkers, met in grand assemblage. After this, they walked out,
or drove out, or were pushed out in bath-chairs, and met one another
again. After this, the gentlemen went to the reading-rooms and met
divisions of the mass. After this, they went home. If it were theatre
night, perhaps they met at the theatre; if it were assembly night, they
met at the rooms; and if it were neither, they met the next day. A very
pleasant routine, with perhaps a slight tinge of sameness.

Mr. Pickwick was sitting up by himself, after a day spent in this
manner, making entries in his journal: his friends having retired to
bed: when he was roused by a gentle tap at the room door.

"Beg your pardon, sir," said Mrs. Craddock, the landlady, peeping in;
"but did you want anything more, sir?"

"Nothing more, ma'am," replied Mr. Pickwick.

"My young girl is gone to bed, sir," said Mrs. Craddock; "and Mr.
Dowler is good enough to say that he'll sit up for Mrs. Dowler, as the
party isn't expected to be over till late; so I was thinking if you
wanted nothing more, Mr. Pickwick, I would go to bed."

"By all means, ma'am," replied Mr. Pickwick.

"Wish you good night, sir," said Mrs. Craddock.

"Good night, ma'am," rejoined Mr. Pickwick.

Mrs. Craddock closed the door, and Mr. Pickwick resumed his writing.

In half an hour's time the entries were concluded. Mr. Pickwick
carefully rubbed the last page on the blotting paper, shut up the book,
wiped his pen on the bottom of the inside of his coat-tail, and opened
the drawer of the inkstand to put it carefully away. There were a
couple of sheets of writing paper, pretty closely written over, in the
inkstand drawer, and they were folded so that the title, which was in
a good round hand, was fully disclosed to him. Seeing from this, that
it was no private document: and as it seemed to relate to Bath, and was
very short: Mr. Pickwick unfolded it, lighted his bed-room candle that
it might burn up well by the time he finished; and drawing his chair
nearer the fire, read as follows:


THE TRUE LEGEND OF PRINCE BLADUD

"Less than two hundred years agone, on one of the public baths in this
city, there appeared an inscription in honour of its mighty founder,
the renowned Prince Bladud. That inscription is now erased.

"For many hundred years before that time, there had been handed down,
from age to age, an old legend, that the illustrious Prince being
afflicted with leprosy, on his return from reaping a rich harvest
of knowledge in Athens, shunned the court of his royal father, and
consorted moodily with husbandmen and pigs. Among the herd (so said the
legend) was a pig of grave and solemn countenance, with whom the Prince
had a fellow feeling--for he too was wise--a pig of thoughtful and
reserved demeanour; an animal superior to his fellows, whose grunt was
terrible, and whose bite was sharp. The young prince sighed deeply as
he looked upon the countenance of the majestic swine; he thought of his
royal father, and his eyes were bedewed with tears.

"This sagacious pig was fond of bathing in rich, moist mud. Not in
summer, as common pigs do now, to cool themselves, and did even in
those distant ages (which is a proof that the light of civilisation had
already begun to dawn, though feebly), but in the cold sharp days of
winter. His coat was ever so sleek, and his complexion so clear, that
the Prince resolved to essay the purifying qualities of the same water
that his friend resorted to. He made the trial. Beneath that black mud,
bubbled the hot springs of Bath. He washed, and was cured. Hastening to
his father's court, he paid his best respects, and returning quickly
hither, founded this city, and its famous baths.

"He sought the pig with all the ardour of their early friendship--but,
alas! the waters had been his death. He had imprudently taken a bath at
too high a temperature, and the natural philosopher was no more! He was
succeeded by Pliny, who also fell a victim to his thirst for knowledge.

"This _was_ the legend. Listen to the true one.

"A great many centuries since, there flourished in great state, the
famous and renowned Lud Hudibras, King of Britain. He was a mighty
monarch. The earth shook when he walked: he was so very stout. His
people basked in the light of his countenance: it was so red and
glowing. He was, indeed, every inch a king. And there were a good
many inches of him too, for although he was not very tall, he was a
remarkable size round, and the inches that he wanted in height he made
up in circumference. If any degenerate monarch of modern times could
be in any way compared with him, I should say the venerable King Cole
would be that illustrious potentate.

"This good king had a queen, who eighteen years before, had had a son,
who was called Bladud. He was sent to a preparatory seminary in his
father's dominions until he was ten years old, and was then despatched
in charge of a trusty messenger, to a finishing school at Athens; and
as there was no extra charge for remaining during the holidays, and no
notice required previous to the removal of a pupil, there he remained
for eight long years, at the expiration of which time, the king his
father sent the Lord Chamberlain over, to settle the bill, and to bring
him home: which, the Lord Chamberlain doing, was received with shouts,
and pensioned immediately.

"When King Lud saw the Prince his son, and found he had grown up such a
fine young man, he perceived at once what a grand thing it would be to
have him married without delay, so that his children might be the means
of perpetuating the glorious race of Lud, down to the very latest ages
of the world. With this view, he sent a special embassy, composed of
great noblemen who had nothing particular to do, and wanted lucrative
employment, to a neighbouring king, and demanded his fair daughter in
marriage for his son: stating at the same time that he was anxious to
be on the most affectionate terms with his brother and friend, but that
if they couldn't agree in arranging this marriage, he should be under
the unpleasant necessity of invading his kingdom, and putting his eyes
out. To this, the other king (who was the weaker of the two) replied,
that he was very much obliged to his friend and brother for all his
goodness and magnanimity, and that his daughter was quite ready to be
married, whenever Prince Bladud liked to come and fetch her.

"This answer no sooner reached Britain, than the whole nation were
transported with joy. Nothing was heard, on all sides, but the sounds
of feasting and revelry,--except the chinking of money as it was paid
in by the people to the collector of the Royal Treasures, to defray
the expenses of the happy ceremony. It was upon this occasion that
King Lud, seated on the top of his throne in full council, rose, in
the exuberance of his feelings, and commanded the Lord Chief Justice
to order in the richest wines and the court minstrels: an act of
graciousness which has been, through the ignorance of traditionary
historians, attributed to King Cole, in those celebrated lines in which
his majesty is represented as--

   'Calling for his pipe, and calling for his pot,
    And calling for his fiddlers three.'

Which is an obvious injustice to the memory of King Lud, and a
dishonest exaltation of the virtues of King Cole.

"But in the midst of all this festivity and rejoicing, there was
one individual present who tasted not when the sparkling wines were
poured forth, and who danced not when the minstrels played. This was
no other than Prince Bladud himself, in honour of whose happiness a
whole people were at that very moment straining alike their throats
and purse-strings. The truth was, that the Prince, forgetting the
undoubted right of the minister for foreign affairs to fall in love on
his behalf, had, contrary to every precedent of policy and diplomacy,
already fallen in love on his own account, and privately contracted
himself unto the fair daughter of a noble Athenian.

"Here we have a striking example of one of the manifold advantages of
civilisation and refinement. If the Prince had lived in later days, he
might at once have married the object of his father's choice, and then
set himself seriously to work, to relieve himself of the burden which
rested heavily upon him. He might have endeavoured to break her heart
by a systematic course of insult and neglect; or, if the spirit of her
sex, and a proud consciousness of her many wrongs, had upheld her under
this ill treatment, he might have sought to take her life, and so get
rid of her effectually. But neither mode of relief suggested itself to
Prince Bladud; so he solicited a private audience, and told his father.

"It is an old prerogative of kings to govern everything but their
passions. King Lud flew into a frightful rage, tossed his crown up to
the ceiling, and caught it again--for in those days kings kept their
crowns on their heads, and not in the Tower--stamped the ground, rapped
his forehead, wondered why his own flesh and blood rebelled against
him, and, finally, calling in his guards, ordered the Prince away to
instant confinement in a lofty turret; a course of treatment which the
kings of old very generally pursued towards their sons, when their
matrimonial inclinations did not happen to point to the same quarter as
their own.

"When Prince Bladud had been shut up in the lofty turret for the
greater part of a year, with no better prospect before his bodily
eyes than a stone wall, or before his mental vision than prolonged
imprisonment, he naturally began to ruminate on a plan of escape,
which, after months of preparation, he managed to accomplish;
considerately leaving his dinner knife in the heart of his gaoler, lest
the poor fellow (who had a family) should be considered privy to his
flight, and punished accordingly by the infuriated king.

"The monarch was frantic at the loss of his son. He knew not on whom to
vent his grief and wrath, until fortunately bethinking himself of the
Lord Chamberlain who had brought him home, he struck off his pension
and his head together.

"Meanwhile the young Prince, effectually disguised, wandered on foot
through his father's dominions, cheered and supported in all his
hardships by sweet thoughts of the Athenian maid, who was the innocent
cause of his weary trials. One day he stopped to rest in a country
village; and seeing that there were gay dances going forward on the
green, and gay faces passing to and fro, ventured to inquire of a
reveller who stood near him, the reason for this rejoicing.

"'Know you not, O stranger,' was the reply, 'of the recent proclamation
of our gracious king?'

"'Proclamation! No. What proclamation?' rejoined the Prince--for he had
travelled along the bye and little-frequented ways and knew nothing of
what had passed upon the public roads, such as they were.

"'Why,' replied the peasant, 'the foreign lady that our Prince wished
to wed, is married to a foreign noble of her own country; and the king
proclaims the fact, and a great public festival besides; for now, of
course, Prince Bladud will come back and marry the lady his father
chose, who they say is as beautiful as the noonday sun. Your health,
sir. God save the king!'

"The Prince remained to hear no more. He fled from the spot, and
plunged into the thickest recesses of a neighbouring wood. On, on, he
wandered night and day: beneath the blazing sun, and the cold pale
moon: through the dry heat of noon, and the damp cold of night: in the
grey light of morn, and the red glare of eve. So heedless was he of
time or object, that being bound for Athens, he wandered as far out of
his way as Bath.

"There was no city where Bath stands, then. There was no vestige of
human habitation, or sign of man's resort, to bear the name; but there
was the same noble country, the same broad expanse of hill and dale,
the same beautiful channel stealing on, far away: the same lofty
mountains which, like the troubles of life, viewed at a distance, and
partially obscured by the bright mist of its morning, lose their
ruggedness and asperity, and seem all ease and softness. Moved by the
gentle beauty of the scene, the Prince sank upon the green turf, and
bathed his swollen feet in his tears.

"'Oh!' said the unhappy Bladud, clasping his hands, and mournfully
raising his eyes towards the sky, 'would that my wanderings might end
here! Would that these grateful tears, with which I now mourn hope
misplaced, and love despised, might flow in peace for ever!'

"The wish was heard. It was in the time of the heathen deities, who
used occasionally to take people at their words, with a promptness, in
some cases, extremely awkward. The ground opened beneath the Prince's
feet; he sunk into the chasm; and instantaneously it closed upon his
head for ever, save where his hot tears welled up through the earth,
and where they have continued to gush forth ever since.

"It is observable that, to this day, large numbers of elderly ladies
and gentlemen who have been disappointed in procuring partners, and
almost as many young ones who are anxious to obtain them, repair,
annually, to Bath to drink the waters, from which they derive much
strength and comfort. This is most complimentary to the virtue of
Prince Bladud's tears, and strongly corroborative of the veracity of
this legend."

       *       *       *       *       *

Mr. Pickwick yawned several times, when he had arrived at the end of
this little manuscript: carefully refolded, and replaced it in the
inkstand drawer: and then, with a countenance expressive of the utmost
weariness, lighted his chamber candle, and went upstairs to bed.

He stopped at Mr. Dowler's door, according to custom, and knocked to
say good night.

"Ah!" said Dowler, "going to bed? I wish I was. Dismal night. Windy;
isn't it?"

"Very," said Mr. Pickwick. "Good night."

"Good night."

Mr. Pickwick went to his bed-chamber, and Mr. Dowler resumed his seat
before the fire, in fulfilment of his rash promise to sit up till his
wife came home.

There are few things more worrying than sitting up for somebody,
especially if that somebody be at a party. You cannot help thinking how
quickly the time passes with them, which drags so heavily with you; and
the more you think of this, the more your hopes of their speedy arrival
decline. Clocks tick so loud, too, when you are sitting up alone, and
you seem as if you had an under garment of cobwebs on. First, something
tickles your right knee, and then the same sensation irritates your
left. You have no sooner changed your position than it comes again
in the arms; when you have fidgeted your limbs into all sorts of odd
shapes, you have a sudden relapse in the nose, which you rub as if to
rub it off--as there is no doubt you would, if you could. Eyes, too,
are mere personal inconveniences; and the wick of one candle gets an
inch and a half long, while you are snuffing the other. These, and
various other little nervous annoyances, render sitting up for a length
of time after everybody else has gone to bed, anything but a cheerful
amusement.

This was just Mr. Dowler's opinion as he sat before the fire, and
felt honestly indignant with all the inhuman people at the party who
were keeping him up. He was not put into better humour either by the
reflection that he had taken it into his head, early in the evening, to
think that he had got an ache there, and so stopped at home. At length,
after several droppings asleep, and fallings forward towards the bars,
and catchings backward soon enough to prevent being branded in the
face, Mr. Dowler made up his mind that he would throw himself on the
bed in the back room and _think_--not sleep, of course.

"I'm a heavy sleeper," said Mr. Dowler, as he flung himself on the
bed. "I must keep awake. I suppose I shall hear a knock here. Yes.
I thought so. I can hear the watchman. There he goes. Fainter now,
though. A little fainter. He's turning the corner. Ah!" When Mr. Dowler
arrived at this point, _he_ turned the corner at which he had been long
hesitating, and fell fast asleep.

Just as the clock struck three, there was blown into the crescent a
sedan-chair with Mrs. Dowler inside, borne by one short fat chairman,
and one long thin one, who had much ado to keep their bodies
perpendicular: to say nothing of the chair. But on that high ground,
and in the crescent, which the wind swept round and round, as if it
were going to tear the paving stones up, its fury was tremendous.
They were very glad to set the chair down, and give a good round loud
double-knock at the street door.

They waited some time, but nobody came.

"Servants is in the arms o' Porpus, I think," said the short chairman,
warming his hands at the attendant link-boy's torch.

"I wish he'd give 'em a squeeze and wake 'em," observed the long one.

"Knock again, will you, if you please," cried Mrs. Dowler from the
chair. "Knock two or three times, if you please."

The short man was quite willing to get the job over, as soon as
possible; so he stood on the step, and gave four or five most startling
double knocks, of eight or ten knocks a piece: while the long man went
into the road, and looked up at the windows for a light.

Nobody came. It was all as silent and dark as ever.

"Dear me!" said Mrs. Dowler. "You must knock again, if you please."

"Theer ain't a bell, is there, ma'am?" said the short chairman.

"Yes, there is," interposed the link-boy, "I've been a ringing at it
ever so long."

"It's only a handle," said Mrs. Dowler, "the wire's broken."

"I wish the servants' heads wos," growled the long man.

"I must trouble you to knock again, if you please," said Mrs. Dowler
with the utmost politeness.

The short man did knock again several times, without producing the
smallest effect. The tall man, growing very impatient, then relieved
him, and kept on perpetually knocking double knocks of two loud knocks
each, like an insane postman.

At length Mr. Winkle began to dream that he was at a club, and that
the members being very refractory, the chairman was obliged to hammer
the table a good deal to preserve order; then he had a confused notion
of an auction room where there were no bidders, and the auctioneer was
buying everything in; and ultimately he began to think it just within
the bounds of possibility that somebody might be knocking at the street
door. To make quite certain, however, he remained quiet in bed for ten
minutes or so, and listened; and when he had counted two or three and
thirty knocks, he felt quite satisfied, and gave himself a great deal
of credit for being so wakeful.

"Rap rap--rap rap--rap rap--ra, ra, ra, ra, ra, rap!" went the knocker.

Mr. Winkle jumped out of bed, wondering very much what could possibly
be the matter, and hastily putting on his stockings and slippers,
folded his dressing-gown round him, lighted a flat candle from the
rushlight that was burning in the fireplace, and hurried downstairs.

"Here's somebody comin' at last, ma'am," said the short chairman.

"I wish I wos behind him vith a bradawl," muttered the long one.

"Who's there?" cried Mr. Winkle, undoing the chain.

"Don't stop to ask questions, cast-iron head," replied the long man,
with great disgust, taking it for granted that the inquirer was a
footman; "but open the door."

"Come, look sharp, timber eyelids," added the other encouragingly.

Mr. Winkle, being half asleep, obeyed the command mechanically, opened
the door a little, and peeped out. The first thing he saw, was the
red glare of the link-boy's torch. Startled by the sudden fear that
the house might be on fire, he hastily threw the door wide open, and
holding the candle above his head, stared eagerly before him, not quite
certain whether what he saw was a sedan-chair or a fire-engine. At this
instant there came a violent gust of wind; the light was blown out; Mr.
Winkle felt himself irresistibly impelled on to the steps; and the door
blew to, with a loud crash.

"Well, young man, now you _have_ done it!" said the short chairman.

Mr. Winkle, catching sight of a lady's face at the window of the sedan,
turned hastily round, plied the knocker with all his might and main,
and called frantically upon the chairman to take the chair away again.

"Take it away, take it away!" cried Mr. Winkle. "Here's somebody coming
out of another house; put me into the chair. Hide me! Do something with
me!"

All this time he was shivering with cold; and every time he raised
his hand to the knocker, the wind took the dressing-gown in a most
unpleasant manner.

"The people are coming down the crescent now. There are ladies with
'em; cover me up with something. Stand before me!" roared Mr. Winkle.
But the chairmen were too much exhausted with laughing to afford him
the slightest assistance, and the ladies were every moment approaching
nearer and nearer.

Mr. Winkle gave a last hopeless knock; the ladies were only a few doors
off. He threw away the extinguished candle, which, all this time, he
had held above his head, and fairly bolted into the sedan-chair where
Mrs. Dowler was.

Now, Mrs. Craddock had heard the knocking and the voices at last; and
only waiting to put something smarter on her head than her night-cap,
ran down into the front drawing-room to make sure that it was the right
party. Throwing up the window sash as Mr. Winkle was rushing into the
chair, she no sooner caught sight of what was going forward below, than
she raised a vehement and dismal shriek, and implored Mr. Dowler to get
up directly, for his wife was running away with another gentleman.

Upon this, Mr. Dowler bounced off the bed as abruptly as an india-rubber
ball, and rushing into the front room, arrived at one window just as
Mr. Pickwick threw up the other; when the first object that met the
gaze of both, was Mr. Winkle bolting into the sedan-chair.

"Watchman," shouted Dowler furiously; "stop him--hold him--keep him
tight--shut him in, till I come down. I'll cut his throat--give me a
knife--from ear to ear, Mrs. Craddock--I will!" And breaking from the
shrieking landlady, and from Mr. Pickwick, the indignant husband seized
a small supper-knife, and tore into the street.

But Mr. Winkle didn't wait for him. He no sooner heard the horrible
threat of the valorous Dowler, than he bounced out of the sedan, quite
as quickly as he had bounced in, and throwing off his slippers into
the road, took to his heels and tore round the crescent, hotly pursued
by Dowler and the watchman. He kept ahead; the door was open as he
came round the second time; he rushed in, slammed it in Dowler's face,
mounted to his bed-room, locked the door, piled a washhand-stand, chest
of drawers, and table against it, and packed up a few necessaries ready
for flight with the first ray of morning.

[Illustration: _Mr. Winkle took to his heels and tore round the
Crescent._]

Dowler came up to the outside of the door; avowed, through the keyhole,
his steadfast determination of cutting Mr. Winkle's throat next day;
and, after a great confusion of voices in the drawing-room, amidst
which that of Mr. Pickwick was distinctly heard endeavouring to make
peace, the inmates dispersed to their several bed-chambers, and all was
quite once more.

It is not unlikely that the inquiry may be made, where Mr. Weller was,
all this time? We will state where he was, in the next chapter.



CHAPTER IX

[Illustration]

  _Honourably accounts for Mr. Weller's Absence, by describing a
    Soiree to which he was invited and went; also relates how he was
    entrusted by Mr. Pickwick with a Private Mission of Delicacy and
    Importance_


"Mr. Weller," said Mrs. Craddock, upon the morning of this very
eventful day, "here's a letter for you."

"Wery odd that," said Sam, "I'm afeerd there must be somethin'
the matter, for I don't recollect any gen'l'm'n in my circle of
acquaintance as is capable o' writin' one."

"Perhaps something uncommon has taken place," observed Mrs. Craddock.

"It must be somethin' wery uncommon indeed, as could produce a letter
out o' any friend o' mine," replied Sam, shaking his head dubiously;
"nothin' less than a nat'ral conwulsion, as the young gen'l'm'n
observed ven he was took with fits. It can't be from the gov'ner,"
said Sam, looking at the direction. "He always prints, I know, 'cos he
learnt writin' from the large bills in the bookin' offices. It's a wery
strange thing now, where this here letter can ha' come from."

As Sam said this, he did what a great many people do when they are
uncertain about the writer of a note,--looked at the seal, and then at
the front, and then at the back, and then at the sides, and then at the
superscription; and, as a last resource, thought perhaps he might as
well look at the inside, and try to find out from that.

"It's wrote on gilt-edged paper," said Sam, as he unfolded it, "and
sealed in bronze vax with the top of a door-key. Now for it." And,
with a very grave face, Mr. Weller slowly read as follows:

"A select company of the Bath footmen presents their compliments to
Mr. Weller, and requests the pleasure of his company this evening,
to a friendly swarry, consisting of a boiled leg of mutton with the
usual trimmings. The swarry to be on table at half-past nine o'clock
punctually."

This was enclosed in another note, which ran thus--

  "Mr. John Smauker, the gentleman who had the pleasure of meeting
  Mr. Weller at the house of their mutual acquaintance, Mr. Bantam, a
  few days since, begs to inclose Mr. Weller the herewith invitation.
  If Mr. Weller will call on Mr. John Smauker at nine o'clock, Mr.
  John Smauker will have the pleasure of introducing Mr. Weller.

    (Signed)      +John Smauker+."

The envelope was directed to blank Weller, Esq., at Mr. Pickwick's; and
in a parenthesis, in the left-hand corner, were the words "airy bell,"
as an instruction to the bearer.

"Vell," said Sam, "this is comin' it rayther powerful, this is. I never
heerd a biled leg of mutton called a swarry afore. I wonder wot they'd
call a roast one?"

However, without waiting to debate the point, Sam at once betook
himself into the presence of Mr. Pickwick, and requested leave of
absence for that evening, which was readily granted. With this
permission, and the street-door key, Sam Weller issued forth a little
before the appointed time, and strolled leisurely towards Queen Square,
which he no sooner gained than he had the satisfaction of beholding Mr.
John Smauker leaning his powdered head against a lamp-post at a short
distance off, smoking a cigar through an amber tube.

"How do you do, Mr. Weller?" said Mr. John Smauker, raising his
hat gracefully with one hand, while he gently waved the other in a
condescending manner. "How do you do, sir?"

"Why, reasonably conwalessent," replied Sam. "How do _you_ find
yourself, my dear feller?"

"Only so so," said Mr. John Smauker.

"Ah, you've been a workin' too hard," observed Sam. "I was fearful
you would; it won't do, you know; you must not give way to that 'ere
uncompromisin' spirit o' your'n."

"It's not so much that, Mr. Weller," replied Mr. John Smauker, "as bad
wine; I'm afraid I've been dissipating."

"Oh! that's it, is it?" said Sam; "that's a wery bad complaint, that."

"And yet the temptation, you see, Mr. Weller," observed Mr. John
Smauker.

"Ah, to be sure," said Sam.

"Plunged into the very vortex of society, you know, Mr. Weller," said
Mr. John Smauker with a sigh.

"Dreadful indeed!" rejoined Sam.

"But it's always the way," said Mr. John Smauker; "if your destiny
leads you into public life, and public station, you must expect to be
subjected to temptations which other people is free from, Mr. Weller."

"Precisely what my uncle said, ven _he_ vent into the public line,"
remarked Sam, "and wery right the old gen'l'm'n wos, for he drank
hisself to death in somethin' less than a quarter."

Mr. John Smauker looked deeply indignant at any parallel being drawn
between himself and the deceased gentleman in question; but as Sam's
face was in the most immovable state of calmness, he thought better of
it, and looked affable again.

"Perhaps we had better be walking," said Mr. Smauker, consulting a
copper timepiece which dwelt at the bottom of a deep watch-pocket, and
was raised to the surface by means of a black string, with a copper key
at the other end.

"Perhaps we had," replied Sam, "or they'll overdo the swarry, and
that'll spile it."

"Have you drank the waters, Mr. Weller?" inquired his companion, as
they walked towards High Street.

"Once," replied Sam.

"What did you think of 'em, sir?"

"I thought they wos particklery unpleasant," replied Sam.

"Ah," said Mr. John Smauker, "you disliked the killibeate taste,
perhaps?"

"I don't know much about that 'ere," said Sam. "I thought they'd a wery
strong flavour o' warm flat-irons."

"That _is_ the killibeate, Mr. Weller," observed Mr. John Smauker,
contemptuously.

"Well, if it is, it's a wery inexpressive word, that's all," said Sam.
"It may be, but I ain't much in the chimical line myself, so I can't
say." And here, to the great horror of Mr. John Smauker, Sam Weller
began to whistle.

[Illustration: _And here, to the great horror of Mr. John Smauker, Sam
Weller began to whistle._]

"I beg your pardon, Mr. Weller," said Mr. John Smauker, agonised at the
exceedingly ungenteel sound, "will you take my arm?"

"Thankee, you're wery good, but I won't deprive you of it," replied
Sam. "I've rayther a way o' puttin' my hands in my pockets, if it's all
the same to you." As Sam said this, he suited the action to the word,
and whistled far louder than before.

"This way," said his new friend, apparently much relieved as they
turned down a by-street; "we shall soon be there."

"Shall we?" said Sam, quite unmoved by the announcement of his close
vicinity to the select footmen of Bath.

"Yes," said Mr. John Smauker. "Don't be alarmed, Mr. Weller."

"Oh no," said Sam.

"You'll see very handsome uniforms, Mr. Weller," continued Mr. John
Smauker; "and perhaps you'll find some of the gentlemen rather high at
first, you know, but they'll soon come round."

"That's wery kind on 'em," replied Sam.

"And you know," resumed Mr. John Smauker, with an air of sublime
protection; "you know, as you're a stranger, perhaps they'll be rather
hard upon you at first."

"They won't be wery cruel, though, will they?" inquired Sam.

"No, no," replied Mr. John Smauker, pulling forth the fox's head and
taking a gentlemanly pinch. "There are some funny dogs among us, and
they will have their joke, you know: but you mustn't mind 'em, you
mustn't mind 'em."

"I'll try and bear up agin such a reg'lar knock-down o' talent,"
replied Sam.

"That's right," said Mr. John Smauker, putting up the fox's head and
elevating his own; "I'll stand by you."

By this time they had reached a small greengrocer's shop, which Mr.
John Smauker entered, followed by Sam: who, the moment he got behind
him, relapsed into a series of the very broadest and most unmitigated
grins, and manifested other demonstrations of being in a highly
enviable state of inward merriment.

Crossing the greengrocer's shop, and putting their hats on the stairs
in the little passage behind it, they walked into a small parlour; and
here the full splendour of the scene burst upon Mr. Weller's view.

A couple of tables were put together in the middle of the parlour,
covered with three or four cloths of different ages and dates of
washing, arranged to look as much like one as the circumstances of
the case would allow. Upon these were laid knives and forks for six
or eight people. Some of the knife handles were green, others red,
and a few yellow; and as all the forks were black, the combination of
colours was exceedingly striking. Plates for a corresponding number of
guests were warming behind the fender; and the guests themselves were
warming before it: the chief and most important of whom appeared to be
a stoutish gentleman in a bright crimson coat with long tails, vividly
red breeches, and a cocked hat, who was standing with his back to the
fire and had apparently just entered, for besides retaining his cocked
hat on his head, he carried in his hand a high stick, such as gentlemen
of his profession usually elevate in a sloping position over the roofs
of carriages.

"Smauker, my lad, your fin," said the gentleman with the cocked hat.

Mr. Smauker dovetailed the top joint of his right-hand little finger
into that of the gentleman with the cocked hat and said he was charmed
to see him looking so well.

"Well, they tell me I am looking pretty blooming," said the man with
the cocked hat, "and it's a wonder, too. I've been following our old
woman about, two hours a day, for the last fortnight; and if a constant
contemplation of the manner in which she hooks-and-eyes that infernal
old lavender-coloured gown of hers behind, isn't enough to throw
anybody into a low state of despondency for life, stop my quarter's
salary."

At this, the assembled selections laughed very heartily; and one
gentleman in a yellow waistcoat, with a coach-trimming border,
whispered a neighbour in green-foil smalls, that Tuckle was in spirits
to-night.

"By-the-bye," said Mr. Tuckle, "Smauker, my boy, you--" The remainder
of the sentence was forwarded into Mr. John Smauker's ear, by whisper.

"Oh, dear me, I quite forgot," said Mr. John Smauker. "Gentlemen, my
friend Mr. Weller."

"Sorry to keep the fire off you, Weller," said Mr. Tuckle, with a
familiar nod. "Hope you're not cold, Weller?"

"Not by no means, Blazes," replied Sam. "It 'ud be a wery chilly
subject as felt cold ven you stood opposit. You'd save coals if they
put you behind the fender in the waitin' room at a public office, you
would."

As this retort appeared to convey rather a personal allusion to Mr.
Tuckle's crimson livery, that gentleman looked majestic for a few
seconds, but gradually edging away from the fire, broke into a forced
smile, and said it wasn't bad.

"Wery much obliged for your good opinion, sir," replied Sam. "We shall
get on by degrees, I des-say. We'll try a better one, by-and-by."

At this point the conversation was interrupted by the arrival of a
gentleman in orange-coloured plush, accompanied by another selection in
purple cloth, with a great extent of stocking. The new comers having
been welcomed by the old ones, Mr. Tuckle put the question that supper
be ordered in, which was carried unanimously.

The greengrocer and his wife then arranged upon the table a boiled
leg of mutton, hot, with caper sauce, turnips, and potatoes. Mr.
Tuckle took the chair, and was supported at the other end of the board
by the gentleman in orange plush. The greengrocer put on a pair of
wash-leather gloves to hand the plates with, and stationed himself
behind Mr. Tuckle's chair.

"Harris," said Mr. Tuckle in a commanding tone.

"Sir?" said the greengrocer.

"Have you got your gloves on?"

"Yes, sir."

"Then take the kiver off."

"Yes, sir."

The greengrocer did as he was told, with a show of great humility, and
obsequiously handed Mr. Tuckle the carving knife; in doing which, he
accidentally gaped.

"What do you mean by that, sir?" said Mr. Tuckle, with great asperity.

"I beg your pardon, sir," replied the crestfallen greengrocer, "I din't
mean to do it, sir; I was up very late last night, sir."

"I tell you what my opinion of you is, Harris," said Mr. Tuckle with a
most impressive air, "you're a wulgar beast."

"I hope, gentlemen," said Harris, "that you won't be severe with me,
gentlemen. I'm very much obliged to you indeed, gentlemen, for your
patronage, and also for your recommendations, gentlemen, whenever
additional assistance in waiting is required. I hope, gentlemen, I give
satisfaction."

"No, you don't, sir," said Mr. Tuckle. "Very far from it, sir."

"We consider you an inattentive reskel," said the gentleman in the
orange plush.

"And a low thief," added the gentleman in the green-foil smalls.

"And an unreclaimable blaygaird," added the gentleman in purple.

The poor greengrocer bowed very humbly while these little epithets were
bestowed upon him, in the true spirit of the very smallest tyranny; and
when everybody had said something to show his superiority, Mr. Tuckle
proceeded to carve the leg of mutton, and to help the company.

This important business of the evening had hardly commenced, when the
door was thrown briskly open, and another gentleman in a light blue
suit, and leaden buttons, made his appearance.

"Against the rules," said Mr. Tuckle. "Too late, too late."

"No, no; positively I couldn't help it," said the gentleman in blue.
"I appeal to the company. An affair of gallantry now, an appointment at
the theayter."

"Oh, that indeed," said the gentleman in the orange plush.

"Yes; raly now, honour bright," said the man in blue. "I made a promese
to fetch our youngest daughter at half-past ten, and she is such an
uncauminly fine gal, that I raly hadn't the art to disappoint her. No
offence to the present company, sir, but a petticut, sir, a petticut,
sir, is irrevokeable!"

"I begin to suspect there's something in that quarter," said Tuckle,
as the new-comer took his seat next Sam. "I've remarked once or twice,
that she leans very heavy on your shoulder, when she gets in and out of
the carriage."

"Oh raly, raly, Tuckle, you shouldn't," said the man in blue. "It's
not fair. I may have said to one or two friends that she was a very
divine creechure, and had refused one or two offers without any hobvus
cause, but--no, no, no, indeed, Tuckle--before strangers too--it's not
right--you shouldn't. Delicacy, my dear friend, delicacy!" And the man
in blue, pulling up his neckerchief, and adjusting his coat cuffs,
nodded and frowned as if there were more behind, which he could say if
he liked, but was bound in honour to suppress.

The man in blue being a light-haired, stiff-necked, free and easy
sort of footman, with a swaggering air and pert face, had attracted
Mr. Weller's especial attention at first, but when he began to come
out in this way, Sam felt more than ever disposed to cultivate his
acquaintance; so he launched himself into the conversation at once,
with characteristic independence.

"Your health, sir," said Sam. "I like you conwersation much. I think
it's wery pretty."

At this the man in blue smiled, as if it were a compliment he was well
used to; but looked approvingly on Sam at the same time, and said he
hoped he should be better acquainted with him, for without any flattery
at all, he seemed to have the makings of a very nice fellow about him,
and to be just the man after his own heart.

"You're wery good, sir," said Sam. "What a lucky feller you are!"

"How do you mean?" inquired the gentleman in blue.

"That 'ere young lady," replied Sam. "She knows wot's wot, she does.
Ah! I see." Mr. Weller closed one eye, and shook his head from side to
side, in a manner which was highly gratifying to the personal vanity of
the gentleman in blue.

"I'm afraid you're a cunning fellow, Mr. Weller," said that individual.

"No, no," said Sam. "I leave all that 'ere to you. It's a great deal
more in your way than mine, as the gen'l'm'n on the right side o' the
garden vall said to the man on the wrong 'un, ven the mad bull wos a
comin' up the lane."

"Well, well, Mr. Weller," said the gentleman in blue, "I think she has
remarked my air and manner, Mr. Weller."

"I should think she couldn't wery vell be off o' that," said Sam.

"Have you any little thing of that kind in hand, sir?" inquired the
favoured gentleman in blue, drawing a toothpick from his waistcoat
pocket.

"Not exactly," said Sam. "There's no daughters at my place, else o'
course I should ha' made up to vun on 'em. As it is, I don't think I
can do anything under a female markis. I might take up vith a young
'ooman o' large property, as hadn't a title, if she made wery fierce
love to me. Not else."

"Of course not, Mr. Weller," said the gentleman in blue, "one can't be
troubled, you know; and _we_ know, Mr. Weller--we, who are men of the
world--that a good uniform must work its way with the women, sooner or
later. In fact, that's the only thing, between you and me, that makes
the service worth entering into."

"Just so," said Sam. "That's it, o' course."

When this confidential dialogue had gone thus far, glasses were placed
round, and every gentleman ordered what he liked best, before the
public-house shut up. The gentleman in blue, and the man in orange, who
were the chief exquisites of the party, ordered "cold scrub and water,"
but with the others, gin and water, sweet, appeared to be the favourite
beverage. Sam called the greengrocer a "desp'rate willin," and ordered
a large bowl of punch: two circumstances which seemed to raise him very
much in the opinion of the selections.

"Gentlemen," said the man in blue, with an air of the most consummate
dandyism, "I'll give you 'The ladies'; come."

"Hear, hear!" said Sam, "The young mississes."

Here there was a loud cry of "Order," and Mr. John Smauker, as the
gentleman who had introduced Mr. Weller into that company, begged to
inform him that the word he had just made use of was unparliamentary.

"Which word was that 'ere, sir?" inquired Sam.

"Missesses, sir," replied Mr. John Smauker, with an alarming frown. "We
don't recognise such distinctions here."

"Oh, wery good," said Sam; "then I'll amend the observation, and call
'em the dear creeturs, if Blazes vill allow me."

Some doubt appeared to exist in the mind of the gentleman in the
green-foil smalls, whether the chairman could be legally appealed to,
as "Blazes," but as the company seemed more disposed to stand upon
their own rights than his, the question was not raised. The man with
the cocked hat breathed short, and looked long at Sam, but apparently
thought it as well to say nothing, in case he should get the worst of
it.

After a short silence, a gentleman in an embroidered coat reaching down
to his heels, and a waistcoat of the same which kept one half of his
legs warm, stirred his gin and water with great energy, and putting
himself upon his feet, all at once, by a violent effort, said he was
desirous of offering a few remarks to the company: whereupon the person
in the cocked hat had no doubt that the company would be very happy to
hear any remarks that the man in the long coat might wish to offer.

"I feel a great delicacy, gentlemen, in coming for'ard," said the man
in the long coat, "having the misforchune to be a coachman, and being
admitted as a honorary member of these agreeable swarrys, but I do
feel myself bound, gentlemen--drove into a corner, if I may use the
expression--to make known an afflicting circumstance which has come
to my knowledge; which has happened I may say within the soap of my
everyday contemplation. Gentlemen, our friend Mr. Whiffers (everybody
looked at the individual in orange), our friend Mr. Whiffers has
resigned."

Universal astonishment fell upon the hearers. Each gentleman looked in
his neighbour's face, and then transferred his glance to the upstanding
coachman.

"You may well be sapparised, gentlemen," said the coachman. "I will not
wenchure to state the reasons of this irrepairabel loss to the service,
but I will beg Mr. Whiffers to state them himself, for the improvement
and imitation of his admiring friends."

The suggestion being loudly approved of, Mr. Whiffers explained. He
said he certainly could have wished to have continued to hold the
appointment he had just resigned. The uniform was extremely rich and
expensive, the females of the family was most agreeable, and the duties
of the situation was not, he was bound to say, too heavy: the principal
service that was required of him, being, that he should look out of the
hall window as much as possible, in company with another gentleman, who
had also resigned. He could have wished to have spared that company
the painful and disgusting detail on which he was about to enter, but
as the explanation had been demanded of him, he had no alternative but
to state, boldly and distinctly, that he had been required to eat cold
meat.

It is impossible to conceive the disgust which this avowal awakened in
the bosoms of the hearers. Loud cries of "Shame!" mingled with groans
and hisses, prevailed for a quarter of an hour.

Mr. Whiffers then added that he feared a portion of this outrage might
be traced to his own forbearing and accommodating disposition. He had
a distinct recollection of having once consented to eat salt butter,
and he had, moreover, on an occasion of sudden sickness in the house,
so far forgotten himself as to carry a coal-scuttle up to the second
floor. He trusted he had not lowered himself in the good opinion of
his friends by this frank confession of his faults; and he hoped the
promptness with which he had resented the last unmanly outrage on his
feelings, to which he had referred, would reinstate him in their good
opinion, if he had.

Mr. Whiffers' address was responded to with a shout of admiration, and
the health of the interesting martyr was drunk in a most enthusiastic
manner; for this, the martyr returned thanks, and proposed their
visitor, Mr. Weller; a gentleman whom he had not the pleasure of
an intimate acquaintance with, but who was the friend of Mr. John
Smauker, which was a sufficient letter of recommendation to any society
of gentlemen whatever, or wherever. On this account, he should have
been disposed to have given Mr. Weller's health with all the honours,
if his friends had been drinking wine; but as they were taking spirits
by way of a change, and as it might be inconvenient to empty a tumbler
at every toast, he should propose that the honours be understood.

At the conclusion of this speech, everybody took a sip in honour of
Sam; and Sam having ladled out, and drunk, two full glasses of punch in
honour of himself, returned thanks in a neat speech.

"Wery much obliged to you, old fellers," said Sam, ladling away at
the punch in the most unembarrassed manner possible, "for this here
compliment; wich, comin' from sich a quarter, is wery overvelmin'.
I've heerd a good deal on you as a body, but I will say, that I never
thought you was sich uncommon nice men as I find you air. I only
hope you'll take care o' yourselves, and not compromise nothin' o'
your dignity, which is a wery charmin' thing to see, when one's out
a walkin', and has always made me wery happy to look at, ever since
I was a boy about half as high as the brass-headed stick o' my wery
respectable friend, Blazes, there. As to the wictim of oppression in
the suit o' brimstone, all I can say of him, is, that I hope he'll get
jist as good a berth as he deserves: in vich case it's wery little cold
swarry as ever he'll be troubled with agin."

Here Sam sat down with a pleasant smile, and his speech having been
vociferously applauded, the company broke up.

"Vy, you don't mean to say you're a goin', old feller?" said Sam Weller
to his friend Mr. John Smauker.

"I must indeed," said Mr. Smauker; "I promised Bantam."

"Oh, wery well," said Sam; "that's another thing. P'raps _he'd_ resign
if you disappointed him. You ain't a goin', Blazes?"

"Yes, I am," said the man with the cocked hat.

"Wot, and leave three quarters of a bowl of punch behind you!" said
Sam; "nonsense, set down agin."

Mr. Tuckle was not proof against this invitation. He laid aside the
cocked hat and stick which he had just taken up, and said he would have
one glass, for good fellowship's sake.

As the gentleman in blue went home the same way as Mr. Tuckle, he was
prevailed upon to stop too. When the punch was about half gone, Sam
ordered in some oysters from the greengrocer's shop; and the effect of
both was so extremely exhilarating, that Mr. Tuckle, dressed out with
the cocked hat and stick, danced the frog hornpipe among the shells on
the table; while the gentleman in blue played an accompaniment upon an
ingenious musical instrument formed of a hair-comb and a curl-paper.
At last, when the punch was all gone, and the night nearly so, they
sallied forth to see each other home. Mr. Tuckle no sooner got into
the open air, than he was seized with a sudden desire to lie on the
curb-stone; Sam thought it would be a pity to contradict him, and so
let him have his own way. As the cocked hat would have been spoilt if
left there, Sam very considerately flattened it down on the head of the
gentleman in blue, and putting the big stick in his hand, propped him
up against his own street door, rang the bell, and walked quietly home.

At a much earlier hour next morning than his usual time of rising, Mr.
Pickwick walked down-stairs completely dressed and rang the bell.

"Sam," said Mr. Pickwick, when Mr. Weller appeared in reply to the
summons, "shut the door."

Mr. Weller did so.

"There was an unfortunate occurrence here last night, Sam," said Mr.
Pickwick, "which gave Mr. Winkle some cause to apprehend violence from
Mr. Dowler."

"So I've heerd from the old lady down-stairs, sir," replied Sam.

"And I'm sorry to say, Sam," continued Mr. Pickwick, with a most
perplexed countenance, "that in dread of this violence, Mr. Winkle has
gone away."

"Gone avay!" said Sam.

"Left the house early this morning, without the slightest previous
communication with me," replied Mr. Pickwick, "And is gone, I know not
where."

"He should ha' stopped and fought it out, sir," replied Sam,
contemptuously. "It wouldn't take much to settle that 'ere Dowler,
sir."

"Well, Sam," said Mr. Pickwick, "I may have my doubts of his great
bravery and determination, also. But, however that may be, Mr. Winkle
is gone. He must be found, Sam. Found and brought back to me."

"And s'pose he won't come back, sir?" said Sam.

"He must be made, Sam," said Mr. Pickwick.

"Who's to do it, sir?" inquired Sam, with a smile.

"You," replied Mr. Pickwick.

"Wery good, sir."

With these words Mr. Weller left the room, and immediately afterwards
was heard to shut the street door. In two hours' time he returned with
as much coolness as if he had been despatched on the most ordinary
message possible, and brought the information that an individual, in
every respect answering Mr. Winkle's description, had gone over to
Bristol that morning, by the branch coach from the Royal Hotel.

"Sam," said Mr. Pickwick, grasping his hand, "you're a capital fellow;
an invaluable fellow. You must follow him, Sam."

"Cert'nly, sir," replied Mr. Weller.

"The instant you discover him, write to me immediately, Sam," said Mr.
Pickwick. "If he attempts to run away from you, knock him down, or lock
him up. You have my full authority, Sam."

"I'll be wery careful, sir," rejoined Sam.

"You'll tell him," said Mr. Pickwick, "that I am highly excited, highly
displeased, and naturally indignant, at the very extraordinary course
he has thought proper to pursue."

"I will, sir," replied Sam.

"You'll tell him," said Mr. Pickwick, "that if he does not come back to
this very house, with you, he will come back with me, for I will come
and fetch him."

"I'll mention that 'ere, sir," rejoined Sam.

"You think you can find him, Sam?" said Mr. Pickwick, looking earnestly
in his face.

"Oh, I'll find him, if he's anyvere," rejoined Sam, with great
confidence.

"Very well," said Mr. Pickwick. "Then the sooner you go the better."

With these instructions Mr. Pickwick placed a sum of money in the
hands of his faithful servitor, and ordered him to start for Bristol
immediately, in pursuit of the fugitive.

Sam put a few necessaries in a carpet bag, and was ready for starting.
He stopped when he had got to the end of the passage, and walking
quietly back, thrust his head in at the parlour door.

"Sir," whispered Sam.

"Well, Sam?" said Mr. Pickwick.

"I fully understands my instructions, do I, sir?" inquired Sam.

"I hope so," said Mr. Pickwick.

"It's reg'larly understood about the knockin' down, is it, sir?"
inquired Sam.

"Perfectly," replied Mr. Pickwick. "Thoroughly. Do what you think
necessary. You have my orders."

Sam gave a nod of intelligence, and withdrawing his head from the door,
set forth on his pilgrimage with a light heart.



CHAPTER X

[Illustration]

  _How Mr. Winkle, when he stepped out of the Frying-Pan, walked gently
    and comfortably into the Fire_


The ill-starred gentleman who had been the unfortunate cause of the
unusual noise and disturbance which alarmed the inhabitants of the
Royal Crescent in manner and form already described, after passing a
night of great confusion and anxiety, left the roof beneath which his
friends still slumbered, bound he knew not whither. The excellent and
considerate feelings which prompted Mr. Winkle to take this step can
never be too highly appreciated or too warmly extolled. "If," reasoned
Mr. Winkle with himself, "if this Dowler attempts (as I have no doubt
he will) to carry into execution his threat of personal violence
against myself, it will be incumbent on me to call him out. He has a
wife; that wife is attached to and dependent on him. Heavens! If I
should kill him in the blindness of my wrath, what would be my feelings
ever afterwards!" This painful consideration operated so powerfully on
the feelings of the humane young man, as to cause his knees to knock
together, and his countenance to exhibit alarming manifestations of
inward emotion. Impelled by such reflections, he grasped his carpet
bag, and creeping stealthily down-stairs, shut the detestable street
door with as little noise as possible, and walked off. Bending his
steps towards the Royal Hotel, he found a coach on the point of
starting for Bristol, and, thinking Bristol as good a place for his
purpose as any other he could go to, he mounted the box, and reached
the place of destination in such time as the pair of horses, who went
the whole stage and back again twice a day or more, could be reasonably
supposed to arrive there.

He took up his quarters at The Bush, and, designing to postpone any
communication by letter with Mr. Pickwick until it was probable that
Mr. Dowler's wrath might have in some degree evaporated, walked forth
to view the city, which struck him as being a shade more dirty than
any place he had ever seen. Having inspected the docks and shipping,
and viewed the cathedral, he inquired his way to Clifton, and being
directed thither, took the route which was pointed out to him. But, as
the pavements of Bristol are not the widest or cleanest upon earth, so
its streets are not altogether the straightest or least intricate; Mr.
Winkle being greatly puzzled by their manifold windings and twistings,
looked about him for a decent shop, in which he could apply afresh for
counsel and instruction.

His eyes fell upon a newly-painted tenement which had been recently
converted into something between a shop and a private house, and which
a red lamp, projecting over the fanlight of the street-door, would have
sufficiently announced as the residence of a medical practitioner,
even if the word "Surgery" had not been inscribed in golden characters
on a wainscot ground, above the window of what, in times bygone, had
been the front parlour. Thinking this an eligible place wherein to
make his inquiries, Mr. Winkle stepped into the little shop where the
gilt-labelled drawers and bottles were; and finding nobody there,
knocked with a half-crown on the counter, to attract the attention of
anybody who might happen to be in the back parlour, which he judged to
be the innermost and peculiar sanctum of the establishment, from the
repetition of the word "Surgery" on the door--painted in white letters
this time, by way of taking off the monotony.

At the first knock, a sound, as of persons fencing with fire-irons,
which had until now been very audible, suddenly ceased; at the second,
a studious-looking young gentleman in green spectacles, with a very
large book in his hand, glided quietly into the shop, and stepping
behind the counter, requested to know the visitor's pleasure.

"I am sorry to trouble you, sir," said Mr. Winkle, "but will you have
the goodness to direct me to----"

"Ha! ha! ha!" roared the studious young gentleman, throwing the large
book up into the air, and catching it with great dexterity at the very
moment when it threatened to smash to atoms all the bottles on the
counter. "Here's a start!"

There was, without a doubt; for Mr. Winkle was so very much astonished
at the extraordinary behaviour of the medical gentleman, that he
involuntarily retreated towards the door, and looked very much
disturbed at this strange reception.

"What, don't you know me?" said the medical gentleman.

Mr. Winkle murmured, in reply, that he had not that pleasure.

"Why, then," said the medical gentleman, "there are hopes for me yet;
I may attend half the old women in Bristol if I've decent luck. Get
out, you mouldy old villain, get out!" With this adjuration, which was
addressed to the large book, the medical gentleman kicked the volume
with remarkable agility to the further end of the shop, and, pulling
off his green spectacles, grinned the identical grin of Robert Sawyer,
Esquire, formerly of Guy's Hospital in the Borough, with a private
residence in Lant Street.

"You don't mean to say you weren't down upon me!" said Mr. Bob Sawyer,
shaking Mr. Winkle's hand with friendly warmth.

"Upon my word I was not," replied Mr. Winkle, returning the pressure.

"I wonder you didn't see the name," said Bob Sawyer, calling his
friend's attention to the outer door, on which, in the same white
paint, were traced the words, "Sawyer, late Nockemorf."

"It never caught my eye," returned Mr. Winkle.

"Lord, if I had known who you were, I should have rushed out, and
caught you in my arms," said Bob Sawyer; "but upon my life, I thought
you were the King's-taxes."

"No!" said Mr. Winkle.

"I did, indeed," responded Bob Sawyer, "and I was just going to say
that I wasn't at home, but if you'd leave a message I'd be sure to
give it to myself; for he don't know me; no more does the Lighting
and Paving. I think the Church-rates guesses who I am, and I know the
Water-works does, because I drew a tooth of his when I first came down
here. But come in, come in!" Chattering in this way, Mr. Bob Sawyer
pushed Mr. Winkle into the back room, where, amusing himself by boring
little circular caverns in the chimney-piece with a red-hot poker, sat
no less a person than Mr. Benjamin Allen.

"Well!" said Mr. Winkle. "This is indeed a pleasure I did not expect.
What a very nice place you have here!"

"Pretty well, pretty well," replied Bob Sawyer. "I _passed_ soon
after the precious party, and my friends came down with the needful
for this business; so I put on a black suit of clothes, and a pair of
spectacles, and came here to look as solemn as I could."

"And a very snug little business you have, no doubt?" said Mr. Winkle,
knowingly.

"Very," replied Bob Sawyer. "So snug, that at the end of a few years
you might put all the profits in a wine-glass, and cover 'em over with
a gooseberry leaf."

"You cannot surely mean that?" said Mr. Winkle. "The stock itself----"

"Dummies, my dear boy," said Bob Sawyer; "half the drawers have nothing
in 'em, and the other half don't open."

"Nonsense!" said Mr. Winkle.

"Fact--honour!" returned Bob Sawyer, stepping out into the shop, and
demonstrating the veracity of the assertion by divers hard pulls at the
little gilt knobs on the counterfeit drawers. "Hardly anything real in
the shop but the leeches, and _they_ are second-hand."

"I shouldn't have thought it!" exclaimed Mr. Winkle, much surprised.

"I hope not," replied Bob Sawyer, "else where's the use of appearances,
eh? But what will you take? Do as we do? That's right. Ben, my fine
fellow, put your hand into the cupboard, and bring out the patent
digester."

Mr. Benjamin Allen smiled his readiness, and produced from the closet
at his elbow a black bottle half full of brandy.

"You don't take water, of course?" said Bob Sawyer.

"Thank you," replied Mr. Winkle. "It's rather early. I should like to
qualify it, if you have no objection."

"None in the least, if you can reconcile it to your conscience,"
replied Bob Sawyer; tossing off, as he spoke, a glass of the liquor
with great relish. "Ben, the pipkin!"

Mr. Benjamin Allen drew forth, from the same hiding-place, a small
brass pipkin, which Bob Sawyer observed he prided himself upon
particularly, because it looked so business-like. The water in the
professional pipkin having been made to boil, in course of time, by
various little shovelsful of coal, which Mr. Bob Sawyer took out of a
practicable window-seat, labelled "Soda Water," Mr. Winkle adulterated
his brandy; and the conversation was becoming general, when it was
interrupted by the entrance into the shop of a boy, in a sober grey
livery and a gold-laced hat, with a small covered basket under his arm:
whom Mr. Bob Sawyer immediately hailed with, "Tom, you vagabond, come
here."

The boy presented himself accordingly.

"You've been stopping to over all the posts in Bristol, you idle young
scamp!" said Mr. Bob Sawyer.

"No, sir, I haven't," replied the boy.

"You had better not!" said Mr. Bob Sawyer, with a threatening aspect.
"Who do you suppose will ever employ a professional man, when they see
his boy playing at marbles in the gutter, or flying the garter in the
horse-road? Have you no feeling for your profession, you groveller? Did
you leave all the medicine?"

"Yes, sir."

"The powders for the child, at the large house with the new family,
and the pills to be taken four times a day at the ill-tempered old
gentleman's with the gouty leg?"

"Yes, sir."

"Then shut the door, and mind the shop."

"Come," said Mr. Winkle, as the boy retired, "things are not quite so
bad as you would have me believe, either. There is _some_ medicine to
be sent out."

Mr. Bob Sawyer peeped out the shop to see that no stranger was within
hearing, and leaning forward to Mr. Winkle, said, in a low tone:

"He leaves it all at the wrong houses."

Mr. Winkle looked perplexed, and Bob Sawyer and his friend laughed.

[Illustration: "_You've been stopping to over all the posts in
Bristol_"]

"Don't you see?" said Bob. "He goes up to a house, rings the area bell,
pokes a packet of medicine without a direction into the servant's hand,
and walks off. Servant takes it into the dining-parlour; master open
it, and reads the label: 'Draught to be taken at bed-time--pills as
before--lotion as usual--_the_ powder. From Sawyer's, late Nockemorf's.
Physicians' prescriptions carefully prepared,' and all the rest of
it. Shows it to his wife--_she_ reads the label; it goes down to the
servants--_they_ read the label. Next day, boy calls: 'Very sorry--his
mistake--immense business--great many parcels to deliver--Mr. Sawyer's
compliments--late Nockemorf.' The name gets known, and that's the
thing, my boy, in the medical way. Bless your heart, old fellow,
it's better than all the advertising in the world. We have got one
four-ounce bottle that's been to half the houses in Bristol, and hasn't
done yet."

"Dear me, I see," observed Mr. Winkle; "what an excellent plan!"

"Oh, Ben and I have hit upon a dozen such," replied Bob Sawyer with
great glee. "The lamplighter has eighteenpence a week to pull the
night-bell for ten minutes every time he comes round; and my boy always
rushes into church, just before the psalms, when the people have got
nothing to do but look about 'em, and calls me out, with horror and
dismay depicted on his countenance. 'Bless my soul,' everybody says,
'somebody taken suddenly ill! Sawyer, late Nockemorf, sent for. What a
business that young man has!'"

At the termination of this disclosure of some of the mysteries of
medicine, Mr. Bob Sawyer and his friend, Ben Allen, threw themselves
back in their respective chairs, and laughed boisterously. When they
had enjoyed the joke to their hearts' content, the discourse changed to
topics in which Mr. Winkle was more immediately interested.

We think we have hinted elsewhere, that Mr. Benjamin Allen had a way
of becoming sentimental after brandy. The case is not a peculiar one,
as we ourselves can testify: having, on a few occasions, had to deal
with patients who have been afflicted in a similar manner. At this
precise period of his existence, Mr. Benjamin Allen had perhaps a
greater predisposition to maudlinism than he had ever known before;
the cause of which malady was briefly this. He had been staying nearly
three weeks with Mr. Bob Sawyer; Mr. Bob Sawyer was not remarkable
for temperance, nor was Mr. Benjamin Allen for the ownership of a
very strong head; the consequence was, that, during the whole space
of time just mentioned, Mr. Benjamin Allen had been wavering between
intoxication partial, and intoxication complete.

"My dear friend," said Mr. Ben Allen, taking advantage of Mr. Bob
Sawyer's temporary absence behind the counter, whither he had retired
to dispense some of the second-hand leeches, previously referred to:
"my dear friend, I am very miserable."

Mr. Winkle professed his heartfelt regret to hear it, and begged to
know whether he could do anything to alleviate the sorrows of the
suffering student.

"Nothing, my dear boy, nothing," said Ben. "You recollect Arabella,
Winkle? My sister Arabella--a little girl, Winkle, with black
eyes--when we were down at Wardle's? I don't know whether you happened
to notice her, a nice little girl, Winkle. Perhaps my features may
recall her countenance to your recollection?"

Mr. Winkle required nothing to recall the charming Arabella to his
mind; and it was rather fortunate he did not, for the features of her
brother Benjamin would unquestionably have proved but an indifferent
refresher to his memory. He answered, with as much calmness as he could
assume, that he perfectly remembered the young lady referred to, and
sincerely trusted she was in good health.

"Our friend Bob is a delightful fellow, Winkle," was the only reply of
Mr. Ben Allen.

"Very," said Mr. Winkle; not much relishing the close connection of the
two names.

"I designed 'em for each other; they were made for each other, sent
into the world for each other, born for each other, Winkle," said Mr.
Ben Allen, setting down his glass with emphasis. "There's a special
destiny in the matter, my dear sir; there's only five years' difference
between 'em, and both their birthdays are in August."

Mr. Winkle was too anxious to hear what was to follow, to express
much wonderment at this extraordinary coincidence, marvellous as it
was; so Mr. Ben Allen, after a tear or two, went on to say, that,
notwithstanding all his esteem and respect and veneration for his
friend, Arabella had unaccountably and undutifully evinced the most
determined antipathy to his person.

"And I think," said Mr. Ben Allen, in conclusion, "_I_ think there's a
prior attachment."

"Have you any idea who the object of it might be?" asked Mr. Winkle,
with great trepidation.

Mr. Ben Allen seized the poker, flourished it in a warlike manner above
his head, inflicted a savage blow on an imaginary skull, and wound up
by saying, in a very expressive manner, that he only wished he could
guess; that was all.

"I'd show him what I thought of him," said Mr. Ben Allen. And round
went the poker again, more fiercely than before.

All this was, of course, very soothing to the feelings of Mr. Winkle,
who remained silent for a few minutes; but at length mustered up
resolution to inquire whether Miss Allen was in Kent.

"No, no," said Mr. Allen, laying aside the poker, and looking very
cunning; "I didn't think Wardle's exactly the place for a headstrong
girl; so, as I am her natural protector and guardian, our parents being
dead, I have brought her down into this part of the country, to spend a
few months at an old aunt's, in a nice dull close place. I think that
will cure her, my boy. If it doesn't, I'll take her abroad for a little
while, and see what that'll do."

"Oh, the aunt's is in Bristol, is it?" faltered Mr. Winkle.

"No, no, not in Bristol," replied Mr. Ben Allen, jerking his thumb over
his right shoulder; "over that way; down there. But hush! here's Bob.
Not a word, my dear friend, not a word."

Short as this conversation was, it roused in Mr. Winkle the highest
degree of excitement and anxiety. The suspected prior attachment
rankled in his heart. Could he be the object of it? Could it be for
him that the fair Arabella had looked scornfully on the sprightly Bob
Sawyer, or had he a successful rival? He determined to see her, cost
what it might; but here an insurmountable objection presented itself,
for whether the explanatory "over that way," and "down there," of Mr.
Ben Allen, meant three miles off, or thirty, or three hundred, he could
in no wise guess.

But he had no opportunity of pondering over his love just then, for
Bob Sawyer's return was the immediate precursor of the arrival of a
meat pie from the baker's, of which that gentleman insisted on his
staying to partake. The cloth was laid by an occasional charwoman,
who officiated in the capacity of Mr. Bob Sawyer's housekeeper; and a
third knife and fork having been borrowed from the mother of the boy
in the grey livery (for Mr. Sawyer's domestic arrangements were as yet
conducted on a limited scale), they sat down to dinner; the beer being
served up, as Mr. Sawyer remarked, "in its native pewter."

After dinner Mr. Bob Sawyer ordered in the largest mortar in the
shop, and proceeded to brew a reeking jorum of rum-punch therein:
stirring up and amalgamating the materials with a pestle in a very
creditable and apothecary-like manner. Mr. Sawyer, being a bachelor,
had only one tumbler in the house, which was assigned to Mr. Winkle as
a compliment to the visitor: Mr. Ben Allen being accommodated with a
funnel with a cork in the narrow end: and Bob Sawyer contented himself
with one of those wide-lipped crystal vessels inscribed with a variety
of cabalistic characters, in which chemists are wont to measure out
their liquid drugs in compounding prescriptions. These preliminaries
adjusted, the punch was tasted, and pronounced excellent; and it having
been arranged that Bob Sawyer and Ben Allen should be considered at
liberty to fill twice to Mr. Winkle's once, they started fair, with
great satisfaction and good-fellowship.

There was no singing, because Mr. Bob Sawyer said it wouldn't look
professional; but to make amends for this deprivation there was so much
talking and laughing that it might have been heard, and very likely
was, at the end of the street. Which conversation materially lightened
the hours and improved the mind of Mr. Bob Sawyer's boy, who instead of
devoting the evening to his ordinary occupation of writing his name on
the counter, and rubbing it out again, peeped through the glass door,
and thus listened and looked on at the same time.

The mirth of Mr. Bob Sawyer was rapidly ripening into the furious; Mr.
Ben Allen was fast relapsing into the sentimental, and the punch had
well-nigh disappeared altogether, when the boy hastily running in,
announced that a young woman had just come over, to say that Sawyer
late Nockemorf was wanted directly, a couple of streets off. This broke
up the party. Mr. Bob Sawyer understanding the message after some
twenty repetitions, tied a wet cloth round his head to sober himself,
and, having partially succeeded, put on his green spectacles and
issued forth. Resisting all entreaties to stay till he came back, and
finding it quite impossible to engage Mr. Ben Allen in any intelligible
conversation on the subject nearest his heart, or indeed on any other,
Mr. Winkle took his departure, and returned to The Bush.

The anxiety of his mind, and the numerous meditations which Arabella
had awakened, prevented his share of the mortar of punch producing that
effect upon him which it would have had, under other circumstances.
So, after taking a glass of soda-water and brandy at the bar, he
turned into the coffee-room, dispirited rather than elevated by the
occurrences of the evening.

Sitting in the front of the fire, with his back towards him, was a
tallish gentleman in a great-coat: the only other occupant of the
room. It was rather a cool evening for the season of the year, and the
gentleman drew his chair aside to afford the new comer a sight of the
fire. What were Mr. Winkle's feelings when, in doing so, he disclosed
to view the face and figure of the vindictive and sanguinary Dowler!

Mr. Winkle's first impulse was to give a violent pull at the nearest
bell-handle, but that unfortunately happened to be immediately behind
Mr. Dowler's head. He had made one step towards it, before he checked
himself. As he did so, Mr. Dowler very hastily drew back.

"Mr. Winkle, sir. Be calm. Don't strike me. I won't bear it. A blow!
Never!" said Mr. Dowler, looking meeker than Mr. Winkle had expected in
a gentleman of his ferocity.

"A blow, sir?" stammered Mr. Winkle.

"A blow, sir," replied Dowler. "Compose your feelings. Sit down. Hear
me."

"Sir," said Mr. Winkle, trembling from head to foot, "before I consent
to sit down beside, or opposite you, without the presence of a waiter,
I must be secured by some further understanding. You used a threat
against me last night, sir, a dreadful threat, sir." Here Mr. Winkle
turned very pale indeed, and stopped short.

"I did," said Dowler, with a countenance almost as white as Mr.
Winkle's. "Circumstances were suspicious. They have been explained. I
respect your bravery. Your feeling is upright. Conscious innocence.
There's my hand. Grasp it."

"Really, sir," said Mr. Winkle, hesitating whether to give his hand or
not, and almost fearing that it was demanded in order that he might be
taken at an advantage, "really sir, I----"

"I know what you mean," interposed Dowler. "You feel aggrieved. Very
natural. So should I. I was strong. I beg your pardon. Be friendly.
Forgive me." With this, Dowler fairly forced his hand upon Mr. Winkle,
and shaking it with the utmost vehemence, declared he was a fellow of
extreme spirit, and he had a higher opinion of him than ever.

"Now," said Dowler, "sit down. Relate it all. How did you find me? When
did you follow? Be frank. Tell me."

"It's quite accidental," replied Mr. Winkle, greatly perplexed by the
curious and unexpected nature of the interview, "quite."

"Glad of it," said Dowler. "I woke this morning. I had forgotten my
threat. I laughed at the accident. I felt friendly. I said so."

"To whom?" inquired Mr. Winkle.

"To Mrs. Dowler. 'You made a vow,' said she. 'I did,' said I. 'It was a
rash one,' said she. 'It was,' said I. 'I'll apologise. Where is he?'"

"Who?" inquired Mr. Winkle.

"You," replied Dowler. "I went down-stairs. You were not to be found.
Pickwick looked gloomy. Shook his head. Hoped no violence would be
committed. I saw it all. You felt yourself insulted. You had gone,
for a friend perhaps. Possibly for pistols. 'High spirit,' said I. 'I
admire him.'"

Mr. Winkle coughed, and beginning to see how the land lay, assumed a
look of importance.

"I left a note for you," resumed Dowler. "I said I was sorry. So I was.
Pressing business called me here. You were not satisfied. You followed.
You required a verbal explanation. You were right. It's all over now.
My business is finished. I go back to-morrow. Join me."

As Dowler progressed in his explanation, Mr. Winkle's countenance grew
more and more dignified. The mysterious nature of the commencement of
their conversation was explained; Mr. Dowler had as great an objection
to duelling as himself; in short, this blustering and awful personage
was one of the most egregious cowards in existence, and interpreting
Mr. Winkle's absence through the medium of his own fears, had taken the
same step as himself, and prudently retired until all excitement of
feeling should have subsided.

As the real state of the case dawned upon Mr. Winkle's mind, he looked
very terrible, and said he was perfectly satisfied; but, at the same
time, said so with an air that left Mr. Dowler no alternative but to
infer that if he had not been, something most horrible and destructive
must inevitably have occurred. Mr. Dowler appeared to be impressed with
a becoming sense of Mr. Winkle's magnanimity and condescension; and
the two belligerents parted for the night, with many protestations of
eternal friendship.

About half-past twelve o'clock, when Mr. Winkle had been revelling some
twenty minutes in the full luxury of his first sleep, he was suddenly
awakened by a loud knocking at his chamber door, which being repeated
with increased vehemence, caused him to start up in bed, and inquire
who was there, and what the matter was.

"Please, sir, here's a young man which says he must see you directly,"
responded the voice of the chambermaid.

"A young man!" exclaimed Mr. Winkle.

"No mistake about that 'ere, sir," replied another voice through the
keyhole; "and if that wery same interestin' young creetur ain't let
in vithout delay, it's wery possible as his legs vill enter afore his
countenance." The young man gave a gentle kick at one of the lower
panels of the door, after he had given utterance to this hint, as if to
add force and point to the remark.

"Is that you, Sam?" inquired Mr. Winkle, springing out of bed.

"Quite unpossible to identify any gen'l'm'n vith any degree o' mental
satisfaction, vithout lookin' at him, sir," replied the voice,
dogmatically.

Mr. Winkle, not much doubting who the young man was, unlocked the door;
which he had no sooner done, than Mr. Samuel Weller entered with great
precipitation, and carefully re-locking it on the inside, deliberately
put the key in his waistcoat pocket: and, after surveying Mr. Winkle
from head to foot, said:

"You're a wery humorous young gen'l'm'n, you air, sir!"

"What do you mean by this conduct, Sam?" inquired Mr. Winkle,
indignantly. "Get out, sir, this instant. What do you mean, sir?"

"What do _I_ mean," retorted Sam; "come, sir, this is rayther too rich,
as the young lady said, ven she remonstrated with the pastry-cook,
arter he'd sold her a pork-pie as had got nothin' but fat inside. What
do _I_ mean! Well, that ain't a bad un, that ain't."

"Unlock that door, and leave this room immediately, sir," said Mr.
Winkle.

"I shall leave this here room, sir, just precisely at the wery same
moment as you leaves it," responded Sam, speaking in a forcible manner,
and seating himself with perfect gravity. "If I find it necessary to
carry you away, pick-a-back, o' course I shall leave it the least bit
o' time possible afore you; but allow me to express a hope as you
won't reduce me to extremities; in saying vich, I merely quote wot
the nobleman said to the fractious pennywinkle, ven he vouldn't come
out of his shell by means of a pin, and he conseqvently began to be
afeared that he should be obliged to crack him in the parlour door."
At the end of this address, which was unusually lengthy for him, Mr.
Weller planted his hands on his knees, and looked full in Mr. Winkle's
face, with an expression of countenance that showed that he had not the
remotest intention of being trifled with.

"You're a amiably disposed young man, sir, I don't think," resumed
Mr. Weller, in a tone of moral reproof, "to go inwolving our precious
governor in all sorts o' fanteegs, ven he's made up his mind to go
through everythink for principle. You're far worse nor Dodson, sir; and
as for Fogg, I consider him a born angel to you!" Mr. Weller having
accompanied this last sentiment with an emphatic slap on each knee,
folded his arms with a look of great disgust, and threw himself back in
his chair, as if awaiting the criminal's defence.

"My good fellow," said Mr. Winkle, extending his hand; his teeth
chattering all the time he spoke, for he had been standing, during the
whole of Mr. Weller's lecture, in his night-gear; "my good fellow, I
respect your attachment to my excellent friend, and I am very sorry
indeed, to have added to his causes for disquiet. There, Sam, there!"

"Well," said Sam, rather sulkily, but giving the proffered hand a
respectful shake at the same time: "well, so you ought to be, and I am
very glad to find you air; for, if I can help it, I won't have him put
upon by nobody, and that's all about it."

"Certainly not, Sam," said Mr. Winkle. "There! Now go to bed, Sam, and
we'll talk further about this in the morning."

"I'm wery sorry," said Sam, "but I can't go to bed."

"Not go to bed!" repeated Mr. Winkle.

"No," said Sam, shaking his head. "Can't be done."

"You don't mean to say you're going back to-night, Sam?" urged Mr.
Winkle, greatly surprised.

"Not unless you particklerly wish it," replied Sam; "but mustn't leave
this here room. The governor's orders was peremptory."

"Nonsense, Sam," said Mr. Winkle, "I must stop here two or three days;
and more than that, Sam, you must stop here too, to assist me in
gaining an interview with a young lady--Miss Allen, Sam; you remember
her--whom I must and will see before I leave Bristol."

But in reply to each of these positions, Sam shook his head with great
firmness, and energetically replied, "It can't be done."

After a great deal of argument and representation on the part of Mr.
Winkle, however, and a full disclosure of what had passed in the
interview with Dowler, Sam began to waver; and at length a compromise
was effected, of which the following were the main and principal
conditions:

That Sam should retire, and leave Mr. Winkle in the undisturbed
possession of his apartment, on the condition that he had permission to
lock the door on the outside, and carry off the key; provided always,
that in the event of an alarm of fire, or other dangerous contingency,
the door should be instantly unlocked. That a letter should be
written to Mr. Pickwick early next morning, and forwarded per Dowler,
requesting his consent to Sam and Mr. Winkle's remaining at Bristol,
for the purpose, and with the object, already assigned, and begging
an answer by the next coach; if favourable, the aforesaid parties to
remain accordingly, and if not, to return to Bath immediately on the
receipt thereof. And, lastly, that Mr. Winkle should be understood as
distinctly pledging himself not to resort to the window, fireplace, or
other surreptitious mode of escape in the meanwhile. These stipulations
having been concluded, Sam locked the door and departed.

He had nearly got down-stairs, when he stopped, and drew the key from
his pocket.

"I quite forgot about the knockin' down," said Sam, half turning back.
"The governor distinctly said it was to be done. Amazin' stupid o' me,
that 'ere! Never mind," said Sam, brightening up, "it's easily done
to-morrow, anyvays."

Apparently much consoled by this reflection, Mr. Weller once more
deposited the key in his pocket, and descending the remainder of the
stairs without any fresh visitations of conscience, was soon, in common
with the other inmates of the house, buried in profound repose.



CHAPTER XI

[Illustration]

  _Mr. Samuel Weller, being entrusted with a Mission of Love,
    proceeds to execute it; with what Success will hereinafter appear_


During the whole of the next day, Sam kept Mr. Winkle steadily in
sight, fully determined not to take his eyes off him for one instant,
until he should receive express instructions from the fountain-head.
However disagreeable Sam's very close watch and great vigilance were to
Mr. Winkle, he thought it better to bear with them, than, by any act of
violent opposition, to hazard being carried away by force, which Mr.
Weller more than once strongly hinted was the line of conduct that a
strict sense of duty prompted him to pursue. There is little reason to
doubt that Sam would very speedily have quieted his scruples by bearing
Mr. Winkle back to Bath, bound hand and foot, had not Mr. Pickwick's
prompt attention to the note, which Dowler had undertaken to deliver,
forestalled any such proceeding. In short, at eight o'clock in the
evening, Mr. Pickwick himself walked into the coffee-room of the Bush
tavern, and told Sam with a smile, to his very great relief, that he
had done quite right, and it was unnecessary for him to mount guard any
longer.

"I thought it better to come myself," said Mr. Pickwick, addressing
Mr. Winkle, as Sam disencumbered him of his great-coat and travelling
shawl, "to ascertain, before I gave my consent to Sam's employment in
this matter, that you are quite in earnest and serious, with respect to
this young lady."

"Serious from my heart--from my soul!" returned Mr. Winkle, with great
energy.

"Remember," said Mr. Pickwick, with beaming eyes, "we met her at our
excellent and hospitable friend's, Winkle. It would be an ill return to
tamper lightly, and without due consideration, with this young lady's
affections. I'll not allow this, sir. I'll not allow it."

"I have no such intention, indeed," exclaimed Mr. Winkle, warmly. "I
have considered the matter well, for a long time, and I feel that my
happiness is bound up in her."

"That's wot we call tying it up in a small parcel, sir," interposed Mr.
Weller, with an agreeable smile.

Mr. Winkle looked somewhat stern at this interruption, and Mr. Pickwick
angrily requested his attendant not to jest with one of the best
feelings of our nature; to which Sam replied, "That he wouldn't, if he
was aware on it; but there were so many on 'em, that he hardly know'd
which was the best ones ven he heer'd 'em mentioned."

Mr. Winkle then recounted what had passed between himself and Mr. Ben
Allen, relative to Arabella; stated that his object was to gain an
interview with the young lady, and make a formal disclosure of his
passion; and declared his conviction, founded on certain dark hints
and mutterings of the aforesaid Ben, that, wherever she was at present
immured, it was somewhere near the Downs. And this was his whole stock
of knowledge or suspicion on the subject.

With this very slight clue to guide him, it was determined that Mr.
Weller should start next morning on an expedition of discovery; it was
also arranged that Mr. Pickwick and Mr. Winkle, who were less confident
of their powers, should parade the town meanwhile, and accidentally
drop in upon Mr. Bob Sawyer in the course of the day, in the hope of
seeing or hearing something of the young lady's whereabout.

Accordingly, next morning, Sam Weller issued forth upon his quest, in
no way daunted by the very discouraging prospect before him; and away
he walked, up one street and down another--we were going to say, up
one hill and down another, only it's all uphill at Clifton--without
meeting with anything or anybody that tended to throw the faintest
light on the matter in hand. Many were the colloquies into which Sam
entered with grooms who were airing horses on roads, and nursemaids who
were airing children in lanes; but nothing could Sam elicit from either
the first-mentioned or the last, which bore the slightest reference to
the object of his artfully-prosecuted inquiries. There were a great
many young ladies in a great many houses, the greater part whereof were
ere shrewdly suspected by the male and female domestics to be deeply
attached to somebody, or perfectly ready to become so, if opportunity
offered. But as none among these young ladies was Miss Arabella Allen,
the information left Sam at exactly the old point of wisdom at which he
had stood before.

Sam struggled across the Downs against a good high wind, wondering
whether it was always necessary to hold your hat on with both hands
in that part of the country, and came to a shady by-place about
which were sprinkled several little villas of quiet and secluded
appearance. Outside a stable-door at the bottom of a long back lane
without a thoroughfare, a groom in undress was idling about, apparently
persuading himself that he was doing something with a spade and a
wheelbarrow. We may remark, in this place, that we have scarcely ever
seen a groom near a stable, in his lazy moments, who has not been, to a
greater or less extent, the victim of this singular delusion.

Sam thought he might as well talk to this groom as to any one else,
especially as he was very tired with walking, and there was a good
large stone just opposite the wheelbarrow; so he strolled down the
lane, and, seating himself on the stone, opened a conversation with the
ease and freedom for which he was remarkable.

"Mornin', old friend," said Sam.

"Arternoon, you mean," replied the groom, casting a surly look at Sam.

"You're wery right, old friend," said Sam; "I _do_ mean arternoon. How
are you?"

"Why, I don't find myself much the better for seeing you," replied the
ill-tempered groom.

"That's wery odd--that is," said Sam, "for you look so uncommon
cheerful, and seem altogether so lively, that it does vun's heart good
to see you."

The surly groom looked surlier still at this, but not sufficiently
so to produce any effect upon Sam, who immediately inquired, with a
countenance of great anxiety, whether his master's name was not Walker.

"No, it ain't," said the groom.

"Nor Brown, I s'pose?" said Sam.

"No, it ain't."

"Nor Vilson?"

"No; nor that neither," said the groom.

"Vell," replied Sam, "then I'm mistaken, and he hasn't got the honour
o' my acquaintance, which I thought he had. Don't wait here out o'
compliment to me," said Sam, as the groom wheeled in the barrow, and
prepared to shut the gate. "Ease afore ceremony, old boy; I'll excuse
you."

"I'd knock your head off for half-a-crown," said the surly groom,
bolting one half of the gate.

"Couldn't afford to have it done on those terms," rejoined Sam. "It
'ud be worth a life's board vages at least, to you, and 'ud be cheap
at that. Make my compliments indoors. Tell 'em not to vait dinner for
me, and say they needn't mind puttin' any by, for it'll be cold afore I
come in."

In reply to this the groom, waxing very wroth, muttered a desire to
damage somebody's person; but disappeared without carrying it into
execution, slamming the door angrily after him, and wholly unheeding
Sam's affectionate request that he would leave him a lock of his hair
before he went.

Sam continued to sit on the large stone, meditating upon what was best
to be done, and revolving in his mind a plan for knocking at all the
doors within five miles of Bristol, taking them at a hundred and fifty
or two hundred a day, and endeavouring to find Miss Arabella by that
expedient, when accident all of a sudden threw in his way what he might
have sat there for a twelvemonth and yet not found without it.

Into the lane where he sat, there opened three or four garden-gates,
belonging to as many houses, which though detached from each
other, were only separated by their gardens. As these were large and
long, and well planted with trees, the houses were not only at some
distance off, but the greater part of them were nearly concealed from
view. Sam was sitting with his eyes fixed upon the dust-heap outside
the next gate to that by which the groom had disappeared, profoundly
turning over in his mind the difficulties of his present undertaking,
when the gate opened, and a female servant came out into the lane to
shake some bed-side carpets.

Sam was so very busy with his own thoughts, that it is probable he
would have taken no more notice of the young woman than just raising
his head and remarking that she had a very neat and pretty figure,
if his feelings of gallantry had not been most strongly roused by
observing that she had no one to help her, and that the carpets seemed
too heavy for her single strength. Mr. Weller was a gentleman of great
gallantry in his own way, and he no sooner remarked this circumstance
then he hastily rose from the large stone, and advanced towards her.

"My dear," said Sam, sliding up with an air of great respect, "you'll
spile that wery pretty figure out o' all perportion if you shake them
carpets by yourself. Let me help you."

The young lady, who had been coyly affecting not to know that a
gentleman was so near, turned round as Sam spoke--no doubt (indeed she
said so afterwards) to decline this offer from a perfect stranger--when
instead of speaking, she started back, and uttered a half-suppressed
scream. Sam was scarcely less staggered, for in the countenance of
the well-shaped female servant, he beheld the very features of his
Valentine, the pretty housemaid from Mr. Nupkins's.

"Vy, Mary, my dear!" said Sam.

"Lauk, Mr. Weller," said Mary, "how you do frighten one!"

Sam made no verbal answer to this complaint, nor can we precisely say
what reply he _did_ make. We merely know that after a short pause Mary
said, "Lor, do adun, Mr. Weller!" and that his hat had fallen off a
few moments before--from both of which tokens we should be disposed to
infer that one kiss or more had passed between the parties.

[Illustration: "_Lor', do adun, Mr. Weller!_"]

"Why, how did you come here?" said Mary, when the conversation to which
this interruption had been offered was resumed.

"O' course I came to look arter you, my darlin'," replied Mr. Weller;
for once permitting his passion to get the better of his veracity.

"And how did you know I was here?" inquired Mary. "Who could have told
you that I took another service at Ipswich, and that they afterwards
moved all the way here? Who _could_ have told you that, Mr. Weller?"

"Ah to be sure," said Sam, with a cunning look, "that's the pint. Who
could ha' told me?"

"It wasn't Mr. Muzzle, was it?" inquired Mary.

"Oh no," replied Sam, with a solemn shake of the head, "it warn't him."

"It must have been the cook," said Mary.

"O' course it must," said Sam.

"Well, I never heard the like of that!" exclaimed Mary.

"No more did I," said Sam. "But Mary, my dear:" here Sam's manner grew
extremely affectionate: "Mary, my dear, I've got another affair in hand
as is wery pressin'. There's one o' my governor's friends--Mr. Winkle,
you remember him?"

"Him in the green coat?" said Mary. "Oh yes, I remember him."

"Well," said Sam, "he's in a horrid state o' love; reg'larly
comfoozled, and done over with it."

"Lor!" interposed Mary.

"Yes," said Sam: "but that's nothing if we could find out the young
'ooman;" and here Sam, with many digressions upon the personal beauty
of Mary, and the unspeakable tortures he had experienced since he last
saw her, gave a faithful account of Mr. Winkle's present predicament.

"Well," said Mary, "I never did!"

"O' course not," said Sam, "nobody never did, nor never vill neither;
and here am I a walkin' about like the Wandering Jew--a sportin'
character you have perhaps heerd on, Mary, my dear, as wos alvays doin'
a match agin' time, and never vent to sleep--looking arter this here
Miss Arabella Allen."

"Miss who?" said Mary, in great astonishment.

"Miss Arabella Allen," said Sam.

"Goodness gracious!" said Mary, pointing the garden door which the
sulky groom had locked after him. "Why, it's that very house; she's
been living there these six weeks. Their upper housemaid, which is
lady's maid too, told me all about it over the wash-house palin's
before the family was out of bed one mornin'."

"Wot, the wery next door to you?" said Sam.

"The very next," replied Mary.

Mr. Weller was so deeply overcome on receiving this intelligence that
he found it absolutely necessary to cling to his fair informant for
support; and divers little love passages had passed between them,
before he was sufficiently collected to return to the subject.

"Vell," said Sam at length, "if this don't beat cock-fightin', nothin'
never vill, as the Lord Mayor said, ven the chief secretary o' state
proposed his missis's health arter dinner. That wery next house! Wy,
I've got a message to her as I've been a tryin' all day to deliver."

"Ah," said Mary, "but you can't deliver it now, because she only walks
in the garden in the evening, and then only for a very little time; she
never goes out, without the old lady."

Sam ruminated for a few moments, and finally hit upon the following
plan of operations; that he should return just at dusk--the time at
which Arabella invariably took her walk--and, being admitted by Mary
into the garden of the house to which she belonged, would contrive
to scramble up the wall, beneath the overhanging boughs of a large
pear-tree, which would effectually screen him from observation; would
there deliver his message, and arrange, if possible, an interview on
behalf of Mr. Winkle for the ensuing evening at the same hour. Having
made this arrangement with great despatch, he assisted Mary in the
long-deferred occupation of shaking the carpets.

It is not half as innocent a thing as it looks, that shaking little
pieces of carpet--at least, there may be no great harm in the shaking,
but the folding is a very insidious process. So long as the shaking
lasts, and the two parties are kept the carpet's length apart, it is
as innocent an amusement as can well be devised; but when the folding
begins, and the distance between them get gradually lessened from one
half its former length to a quarter, and then to an eighth, and then to
a sixteenth, and then to a thirty-second, if the carpet be long enough:
it becomes dangerous. We do not know, to a nicety, how many pieces of
carpet were folded in this instance, but we can venture to state that
as many pieces as there were, so many times did Sam kiss the pretty
housemaid.

Mr. Weller regaled himself with moderation at the nearest tavern
until it was nearly dusk, and then returned to the lane without the
thoroughfare. Having been admitted into the garden by Mary, and having
received from that lady sundry admonitions concerning the safety of his
limbs and neck, Sam mounted into the pear-tree, to wait until Arabella
should come in sight.

He waited so long without this anxiously expected event occurring, that
he began to think it was not going to take place at all, when he heard
light footsteps upon the gravel, and immediately afterwards beheld
Arabella walking pensively down the garden. As soon as she came nearly
below the tree, Sam began, by way of gently indicating his presence,
to make sundry diabolical noises similar to those which would probably
be natural to a person of middle age who had been afflicted with a
combination of inflammatory sore throat, croup, and hooping-cough, from
his earliest infancy.

Upon this, the young lady cast a hurried glance towards the spot from
whence the dreadful sounds proceeded; and her previous alarm being not
at all diminished when she saw a man among the branches, she would
most certainly have decamped, and alarmed the house, had not fear
fortunately deprived her of the power of moving, and caused her to sink
down on a garden-seat; which happened by good luck to be near at hand.

"She's a goin' off," soliloquised Sam in great perplexity. "Wot a thing
it is, as these here young creeturs _will_ go a faintin' avay just
ven they oughtn't to. Here, young 'ooman, Miss Sawbones, Mrs. Vinkle,
don't!"

Whether it was the magic of Mr. Winkle's name, or the coolness of the
open air, or some recollection of Mr. Weller's voice, that revived
Arabella, matters not. She raised her head and languidly inquired,
"Who's that, and what do you want?"

"Hush!" said Sam, swinging himself on to the wall, and crouching there
in as small a compass as he could reduce himself to; "only me, miss,
only me."

"Mr. Pickwick's servant?" said Arabella, earnestly.

"The wery same, miss," replied Sam. "Here's Mr. Vinkle reg'larly sewed
up vith desperation, miss."

"Ah!" said Arabella, drawing nearer the wall.

"Ah, indeed," said Sam. "Ve thought ve should ha' been obliged to
straight-veskit him last night; he's been a ravin' all day; and he says
if he can't see you afore to-morrow night's over, he vishes he may be
somethin'-unpleasanted if he don't drownd hisself."

"Oh no, no, Mr. Weller!" said Arabella, clasping her hands.

"That's wot he says, miss," replied Sam. "He's a man of his word, and
it's my opinion he'll do it, miss. He's heerd all about you from the
Sawbones in barnacles."

"From my brother!" said Arabella, having some faint recognition of
Sam's description.

"I don't rightly know which is your brother, miss," replied Sam. "Is it
the dirtiest vun o' the two?"

"Yes, yes, Mr. Weller," returned Arabella, "go on. Make haste, pray."

"Well miss," said Sam, "he's heerd all about it from him; and it's the
gov'nor's opinion that if you don't see him wery quick, the Sawbones as
we've been a speaking on, 'ull get as much extra lead in his head as'll
damage the dewelopment o' the orgins if they ever put it in spirits
artervards."

"Oh, what can I do to prevent these dreadful quarrels!" exclaimed
Arabella.

"It's the suspicion of a priory 'tachment as is the cause of it all,"
replied Sam. "You'd better see him, miss."

"But how?--where?" cried Arabella. "I dare not leave the house alone.
My brother is so unkind, so unreasonable! I know how strange my talking
thus to you must appear, Mr. Weller, but I am very, very unhappy--" and
here poor Arabella wept so bitterly, that Sam grew chivalrous.

"It may seem wery strange talkin' to me about these here affairs,
miss," said Sam with great vehemence: "but all I can say is, that I'm
not only ready but villin' to do anythin' as'll make matters agreeable;
and if chuckin' either o' them Sawboneses out o' winder 'ull do it, I'm
the man." As Sam Weller said his, he tucked up his wristbands, at the
imminent hazard of falling off the wall in so doing, to intimate his
readiness to set to work immediately.

Flattering as these professions of good feeling were, Arabella
resolutely declined (most unaccountably, as Sam thought) to avail
herself of them. For some time she strenuously refused to grant Mr.
Winkle the interview Sam had so pathetically requested; but at length,
when the conversation threatened to be interrupted by the unwelcome
arrival of a third party, she hurriedly gave him to understand, with
many professions of gratitude, that it was barely possible she might
be in the garden an hour later, next evening. Sam understood this
perfectly well; and Arabella, bestowing upon him one of her sweetest
smiles, tripped gracefully away, leaving Mr. Weller in a state of very
great admiration of her charms, both personal and mental.

Having descended in safety from the wall, and not forgotten to devote
a few moments to his own particular business in the same department,
Mr. Weller then made the best of his way back to the Bush, where his
prolonged absence had occasioned much speculation and some alarm.

"We must be careful," said Mr. Pickwick, after listening attentively to
Sam's tale, "not for our own sakes, but for that of the young lady. We
must be very cautious."

"_We!_" said Mr. Winkle, with marked emphasis.

Mr. Pickwick's momentary look of indignation at the tone of this remark
subsided into his characteristic expression of benevolence, as he
replied:

"_We_, sir! I shall accompany you."

"You!" said Mr. Winkle.

"I," replied Mr. Pickwick, mildly. "In affording you this interview,
the young lady has taken a natural, perhaps, but still a very imprudent
step. If I am present at the meeting, a mutual friend, who is old
enough to be the father of both parties, the voice of calumny can never
be raised against her hereafter."

Mr. Pickwick's eyes lightened with honest exultation at his own
foresight, as he spoke thus. Mr. Winkle was touched by this little
trait of his delicate respect for the young _protégée_ of his friend,
and took his hand with a feeling of regard, akin to veneration.

"You _shall_ go," said Mr. Winkle.

"I will," said Mr. Pickwick. "Sam, have my great-coat and shawl ready,
and order a conveyance to be at the door to-morrow evening, rather
earlier than is absolutely necessary, in order that we may be in good
time."

Mr. Weller touched his hat, as an earnest of his obedience, and
withdrew to make all needful preparations for the expedition.

The coach was punctual to the time appointed; and Mr. Weller, after
duly installing Mr. Pickwick and Mr. Winkle inside, took his seat on
the box by the driver. They alighted, as had been agreed on, about
a quarter of a mile from the place of rendezvous, and desiring the
coachman to await their return, proceeded the remaining distance on
foot.

It was at this stage of the undertaking that Mr. Pickwick, with many
smiles and various other indications of great self-satisfaction,
produced from one of his coat pockets a dark lantern, with which he had
specially provided himself for the occasion, and the great mechanical
beauty of which he proceeded to explain to Mr. Winkle as they walked
along, to the no small surprise of the few stragglers they met.

"I should have been the better for something of this kind in my last
garden expedition, at night; eh, Sam?" said Mr. Pickwick, looking
good-humouredly round at his follower, who was trudging behind.

"Wery nice things if they're managed properly, sir," replied Mr.
Weller; "but when you don't want to be seen, I think they're more
useful arter the candle's gone out, than ven it's alight."

Mr. Pickwick appeared struck with Sam's remarks, for he put the lantern
into his pocket again, and they walked on in silence.

"Down here, sir," said Sam. "Let me lead the way. This is the lane,
sir."

Down the lane they went, and dark enough it was. Mr. Pickwick brought
out the lantern, once or twice, as they groped their way along, and
threw a very brilliant little tunnel of light before them, about a foot
in diameter. It was very pretty to look at, but seemed to have the
effect of rendering surrounding objects rather darker than before.

At length they arrived at the large stone. Here Sam recommended his
master and Mr. Winkle to seat themselves, while he reconnoitred, and
ascertained whether Mary was yet in waiting.

After an absence of five or ten minutes, Sam returned, to say that the
gate was opened, and all quiet. Following him with stealthy tread,
Mr. Pickwick and Mr. Winkle soon found themselves in the garden. Here
everybody said "Hush!" a good many times; and that being done, no one
seemed to have any very distinct apprehension of what was to be done
next.

"Is Miss Allen in the garden yet, Mary?" inquired Mr. Winkle, much
agitated.

"I don't know, sir," replied the pretty housemaid. "The best thing
to be done, sir, will be for Mr. Weller to give you a hoist up into
the tree, and perhaps Mr. Pickwick will have the goodness to see that
nobody comes up the lane, while I watch at the other end of the garden.
Goodness gracious, what's that!"

"That 'ere blessed lantern 'ull be the death on us all," exclaimed Sam,
peevishly. "Take care wot you're a doin' on, sir; you're a sendin' a
blaze o' light, right into the back parlour winder."

"Dear me!" said Mr. Pickwick, turning hastily aside, "I didn't mean to
do that."

"Now, it's in the next house, sir," remonstrated Sam.

"Bless my heart!" exclaimed Mr. Pickwick, turning round again.

"Now, it's in the stable, and they'll think the place is afire," said
Sam. "Shut it up, sir, can't you?"

"It's the most extraordinary lantern I ever met with, in all my life!"
exclaimed Mr. Pickwick, greatly bewildered by the effects he had so
unintentionally produced. "I never saw such a powerful reflector."

"It'll be vun too powerful for us, if you keep blazin' avay in that
manner, sir," replied Sam, as Mr. Pickwick, after various unsuccessful
efforts, managed to close the slide. "There's the young lady's
footsteps. Now, Mr. Vinkle, sir, up vith you."

"Stop, stop!" said Mr. Pickwick, "I must speak to her first. Help me
up, Sam."

"Gently, sir," said Sam, planting his head against the wall, and making
a platform of his back. "Step a top o' that 'ere flower-pot, sir. Now
then, up vith you."

"I'm afraid I shall hurt you, Sam," said Mr. Pickwick.

"Never mind me, sir," replied Sam. "Lend him a hand, Mr. Vinkle, sir.
Steady, sir, steady. That's the time o' day!"

As Sam spoke, Mr. Pickwick, by exertions almost supernatural in a
gentleman of his years and weight, contrived to get upon Sam's back;
and Sam gently raising himself up, and Mr. Pickwick holding on fast by
the top of the wall, while Mr. Winkle clasped him tight by the legs,
they contrived by these means to bring his spectacles just above the
level of the coping.

"My dear," said Mr. Pickwick, looking over the wall, and catching sight
of Arabella, on the other side. "Don't be frightened, my dear, it's
only me."

"Oh pray go away, Mr. Pickwick," said Arabella. "Tell them all to go
away. I am so dreadfully frightened. Dear, dear Mr. Pickwick, don't
stop there. You'll fall down and kill yourself, I know you will."

"Now, pray don't alarm yourself, my dear," said Mr. Pickwick
soothingly. "There is not the least cause for fear, I assure you. Stand
firm, Sam," said Mr. Pickwick, looking down.

"All right, sir," replied Mr. Weller. "Don't be longer than you can
conweniently help, sir. You're rayther heavy."

"Only another moment, Sam," replied Mr. Pickwick. "I merely wished you
to know, my dear, that I should not have allowed my young friend to see
you in this clandestine way, if the situation in which you are placed
had left him any alternative; and lest the impropriety of this step
should cause you any uneasiness, my love, it may be a satisfaction to
you, to know that I am present. That's all, my dear."

"Indeed, Mr. Pickwick, I am very much obliged to you for your kindness
and consideration," replied Arabella, drying her tears with her
handkerchief. She would probably have said much more, had not Mr.
Pickwick's head disappeared with great swiftness, in consequence of a
false step on Sam's shoulder, which brought him suddenly to the ground.
He was up again in an instant, however, and bidding Mr. Winkle make
haste and get the interview over, ran out into the lane to keep watch,
with all the courage and ardour of youth. Mr. Winkle himself, inspired
by the occasion, was on the wall in a moment, merely pausing to request
Sam to be careful of his master.

"I'll take care on him, sir," replied Sam. "Leave him to me."

"Where is he? What's he doing, Sam?" inquired Mr. Winkle.

"Bless his old gaiters!" rejoined Sam, looking out at the garden door,
"he's a keepin' guard in the lane vith that 'ere dark lantern, like a
amiable Guy Fawkes! I never see such a fine creetur in my days. Blessed
if I don't think his heart must ha' been born five-and-twenty year
arter his body, at least!"

Mr. Winkle stayed not to hear the encomium upon his friend. He had
dropped from the wall; thrown himself at Arabella's feet; and by this
time was pleading the sincerity of his passion with an eloquence worthy
even of Mr. Pickwick himself.

While these things were going on in the open air, an elderly gentleman
of scientific attainments was seated in his library, two or three
houses off, writing a philosophical treatise, and ever and anon
moistening his clay and his labours with a glass of claret from a
venerable-looking bottle which stood by his side. In the agonies of
composition, the elderly gentleman looked sometimes at the carpet,
sometimes at the ceiling, and sometimes at the wall; and when
neither carpet, ceiling, nor wall, afforded the requisite degree of
inspiration, he looked out of the window.

In one of these pauses of invention, the scientific gentleman was
gazing abstractedly on the thick darkness outside, when he was very
much surprised by observing a most brilliant light glide through the
air at a short distance above the ground, and almost instantaneously
vanish. After a short time the phenomenon was repeated, not once or
twice, but several times: at last the scientific gentleman, laying down
his pen, began to consider to what natural causes these appearances
were to be assigned.

They were not meteors; they were too low. They were not glow-worms;
they were too high. They were not will-o'-the-wisps; they were not
fire-flies; they were not fire-works. What could they be? Some
extraordinary and wonderful phenomenon of nature, which no philosopher
had ever seen before; something which it had been reserved for him
alone to discover, and which he should immortalise his name by
chronicling for the benefit of posterity. Full of this idea, the
scientific gentleman seized his pen again, and committed to paper
sundry notes of these unparalleled appearances, with the date, day,
hour, minute, and precise second at which they were visible: all of
which were to form the data of a voluminous treatise of great research
and deep learning, which should astonish all the atmospherical sages
that ever drew breath in any part of the civilised globe.

He threw himself back in his easy chair, wrapped in contemplations of
his future greatness. The mysterious light appeared more brilliantly
than before: dancing, to all appearances, up and down the lane,
crossing from side to side, and moving in an orbit as eccentric as
comets themselves.

The scientific gentleman was a bachelor. He had no wife to call in and
astonish, so he rang the bell for his servant.

"Pruffle," said the scientific gentleman, "there is something very
extraordinary in the air to-night. Did you see that?" said the
scientific gentleman, pointing out of the window, as the light again
became visible.

"Yes, I did, sir."

"What do you think of it, Pruffle?"

"Think of it, sir?"

"Yes. You have been bred up in this country. What should you say was
the cause of those lights, now?"

The scientific gentleman smilingly anticipated Pruffle's reply that he
could assign no cause for them at all. Pruffle meditated.

"I should say it was thieves, sir," said Pruffle at length.

"You're a fool, and may go down-stairs," said the scientific gentleman.

"Thank you, sir," said Pruffle. And down he went.

But the scientific gentleman could not rest under the idea of the
ingenious treatise he had projected being lost to the world, which must
inevitably be the case if the speculation of the ingenious Mr. Pruffle
were not stifled in its birth. He put on his hat and walked quickly
down the garden, determined to investigate the matter to the very
bottom.

Now, shortly before the scientific gentleman walked out into the
garden, Mr. Pickwick had run down the lane as fast as he could, to
convey a false alarm that somebody was coming that way; occasionally
drawing back the slide of the dark lantern to keep himself from the
ditch. The alarm was no sooner given, than Mr. Winkle scrambled back
over the wall, and Arabella ran into the house; the garden-gate was
shut, and the three adventurers were making the best of their way down
the lane, when they were startled by the scientific old gentleman
unlocking his garden-gate.

"Hold hard," whispered Sam, who was, of course, the first of the party.
"Show a light for just vun second, sir."

Mr. Pickwick did as he was desired, and Sam, seeing a man's head
peeping out very cautiously within half a yard of his own, gave
it a gentle tap with his clenched fist, which knocked it, with a
hollow sound, against the gate. Having performed this feat with
great suddenness and dexterity, Mr. Weller caught Mr. Pickwick up
on his back, and followed Mr. Winkle down the lane at a pace which,
considering the burden he carried, was perfectly astonishing.

"Have you got your vind back agin, sir," inquired Sam, when they had
reached the end.

"Quite. Quite, now," replied Mr. Pickwick.

"Then come along, sir," said Sam, setting his master on his feet again.
"Come between us, sir. Not half a mile to run. Think you're vinnin' a
cup, sir. Now for it."

Thus encouraged, Mr. Pickwick made the very best use of his legs. It
may be confidently stated that a pair of black gaiters never got over
the ground in better style than did those of Mr. Pickwick on this
memorable occasion.

The coach was waiting, the horses were fresh, the roads were good, and
the driver was willing. The whole party arrived in safety at the Bush
before Mr. Pickwick had recovered his breath.

"In with you at once, sir," said Sam, as he helped his master out.
"Don't stop a second in the street, arter that 'ere exercise. Beg your
pardon, sir," continued Sam, touching his hat as Mr. Winkle descended.
"Hope there warn't a priory 'tachment, sir?"

Mr. Winkle grasped his humble friend by the hand, and whispered in
his ear, "It's all right, Sam; quite right." Upon which Mr. Weller
struck three distinct blows upon his nose in token of intelligence,
smiled, winked, and proceeded to put the steps up, with a countenance
expressive of lively satisfaction.

As to the scientific gentleman, he demonstrated, in a masterly
treatise, that these wonderful lights were the effect of electricity;
and clearly proved the same by detailing how a flash of fire danced
before his eyes when he put his head out of the gate, and how he
received a shock which stunned him for a quarter of an hour afterwards;
which demonstration delighted all the Scientific Associations beyond
measure, and caused him to be considered a light of science ever
afterwards.



CHAPTER XII

[Illustration]

  _Introduces Mr. Pickwick to a New and not uninteresting Scene in the
    great Drama of Life_


The remainder of the period which Mr. Pickwick had assigned as the
duration of the stay at Bath, passed over without the occurrence of
anything material. Trinity Term commenced. On the expiration of its
first week, Mr. Pickwick and his friends returned to London; and the
former gentleman, attended of course by Sam, straightway repaired to
his old quarters at the George and Vulture.

On the third morning after their arrival, just as all the clocks in the
city were striking nine individually, and somewhere about nine hundred
and ninety-nine collectively, Sam was taking the air in George Yard,
when a queer sort of fresh-painted vehicle drove up, out of which there
jumped with great agility, throwing the reins to a stout man who sat
beside him, a queer sort of gentleman, who seemed made for the vehicle,
and the vehicle for him.

The vehicle was not exactly a gig, neither was it a stanhope. It
was not what is currently denominated a dog-cart, neither was it a
taxed-cart, not a chaise-cart, nor a guillotined cabriolet; and yet it
had something of the character of each and every of these machines.
It was painted a bright yellow, with the shafts and wheels picked
out in black; and the driver sat, in the orthodox sporting style,
on cushions piled about two feet above the rail. The horse was a
bay, a well-looking animal enough; but with something of a flash and
dog-fighting air about him, nevertheless, which accorded both with the
vehicle and his master.

The master himself was a man of about forty, with black hair, and
carefully combed whiskers. He was dressed in a particularly gorgeous
manner, with plenty of articles of jewellery about him--all about three
sizes larger than those which are usually worn by gentlemen--and a
rough great-coat to crown the whole. Into one pocket of his great-coat
he thrust his left hand the moment he dismounted, while from the
other he drew forth, with his right, a very bright and glaring silk
handkerchief, with which he whisked a speck or two of dust from his
boots, and then, crumpling it in his hand, swaggered up the court.

It had not escaped Sam's attention that, when this person dismounted, a
shabby-looking man in a brown great-coat shorn of divers buttons, who
had been previously slinking about, on the opposite side of the way,
crossed over, and remained stationary close by. Having something more
than a suspicion of the object of the gentleman's visit, Sam preceded
him to the George and Vulture, and turning sharp round, planted himself
in the centre of the doorway.

"Now, my fine fellow!" said the man in the rough coat, in an imperious
tone, attempting at the same time to push his way past.

"Now, sir, wot's the matter!" replied Sam, returning the push with
compound interest.

"Come, none of this, my man; this won't do with me," said the owner of
the rough coat, raising his voice, and turning white. "Here, Smouch!"

"Well, wot's amiss here?" growled the man in the brown coat, who had
been gradually sneaking up the court during this short dialogue.

"Only some insolence of this young man's," said the principal, giving
Sam another push.

"Come, none o' this gammon," growled Smouch, giving him another, and a
harder one.

This last push had the effect which it was intended by the experienced
Mr. Smouch to produce; for while Sam, anxious to return the compliment,
was grinding that gentleman's body against the doorpost, the principal
crept past, and made his way to the bar: whither Sam, after bandying a
few epithetical remarks with Mr. Smouch, followed at once.

"Good morning, my dear," said the principal, addressing the young lady
at the bar, with Botany Bay ease, and New South Wales gentility; "which
is Mr. Pickwick's room, my dear?"

"Show him up," said the barmaid to a waiter, without deigning another
look at the exquisite, in reply to his inquiry.

The waiter led the way up-stairs as he was desired, and the man in the
rough coat followed, with Sam behind him: who, in his progress up the
staircase, indulged in sundry gestures indicative of supreme contempt
and defiance: to the unspeakable gratification of the servants and
other lookers-on. Mr. Smouch, who was troubled with a hoarse cough,
remained below, and expectorated in the passage.

Mr. Pickwick was fast asleep in bed, when his early visitor, followed
by Sam, entered the room. The noise they made, in so doing, awoke him.

"Shaving water, Sam," said Mr. Pickwick, from within the curtains.

"Shave you directly, Mr. Pickwick," said the visitor, drawing one of
them back from the bed's head. "I've got an execution against you, at
the suit of Bardell.--Here's the warrant.--Common Pleas.--Here's my
card. I suppose you'll come over to my house." Giving Mr. Pickwick a
friendly tap on the shoulder, the sheriff's officer (for such he was)
threw his card on the counterpane, and pulled a gold toothpick from his
waistcoat pocket.

"Namby's the name," said the sheriff's deputy, as Mr. Pickwick took his
spectacles from under the pillow, and put them on, to read the card.
"Namby, Bell Alley, Coleman Street."

At this point Sam Weller, who had had his eyes fixed hitherto on Mr.
Namby's shining beaver, interfered:

"Are you a Quaker?" said Sam.

"I'll let you know who I am, before I've done with you," replied the
indignant officer. "I'll teach you manners, my fine fellow, one of
these fine mornings."

"Thankee," said Sam. "I'll do the same to you. Take your hat off." With
this, Mr. Weller, in the most dexterous manner, knocked Mr. Namby's hat
to the other side of the room: with such violence, that he had very
nearly caused him to swallow the gold toothpick into the bargain.

[Illustration: "_Take your hat off_"]

"Observe this, Mr. Pickwick," said the disconcerted officer, gasping
for breath. "I've been assaulted in the execution of my dooty by your
servant in your chamber. I'm in bodily fear. I call you to witness
this."

"Don't witness nothin', sir," interposed Sam. "Shut your eyes up
tight, sir. I'd pitch him out o' winder, only he couldn't fall far
enough, 'cause o' the leads outside."

"Sam," said Mr. Pickwick in an angry voice, as the attendant made
various demonstrations of hostilities, "if you say another word, or
offer the slightest interference with this person, I discharge you that
instant."

"But, sir!" said Sam.

"Hold your tongue," interposed Mr. Pickwick. "Take that hat up again."

But this Sam flatly and positively refused to do; and, after he had
been severely reprimanded by his master, the officer, being in a
hurry, condescended to pick it up himself: venting a great variety
of threats against Sam meanwhile, which that gentleman received with
perfect composure: merely observing that if Mr. Namby would have the
goodness to put his hat on again, he would knock it into the latter
end of next week. Mr. Namby, perhaps thinking that such a process
might be productive of inconvenience to himself, declined to offer the
temptation, and, soon after, called up Smouch. Having informed him that
the capture was made, and that he was to wait for the prisoner until
he should have finished dressing, Namby then swaggered out, and drove
away. Smouch, requesting Mr. Pickwick in a surly manner "to be as alive
as he could, for it was a busy time," drew up a chair by the door, and
sat there, until he had finished dressing. Sam was then despatched for
a hackney-coach, and in it the triumvirate proceeded to Coleman Street.
It was fortunate the distance was short; for Mr. Smouch, besides
possessing no very enchanting conversational powers, was rendered a
decidedly unpleasant companion in a limited space, by the physical
weakness to which we have elsewhere adverted.

The coach having turned into a very narrow and dark street, stopped
before a house with iron bars to all the windows; the door-posts of
which were graced by the name and title of "Namby, Officer to the
Sheriffs of London:" the inner gate having been opened by a gentleman
who might have passed for a neglected twin brother of Mr. Smouch, and
who was endowed with a large key for the purpose, Mr. Pickwick was
shown into the "coffee-room."

This coffee-room was a front parlour: the principal features of
which were fresh sand and stale tobacco smoke. Mr. Pickwick bowed to
the three persons who were seated in it when he entered and having
despatched Sam for Perker, withdrew into an obscure corner, and from
thence looked with some curiosity upon his new companions.

One of these was a mere boy of nineteen or twenty, who, though it
was yet barely ten o'clock, was drinking gin and water, and smoking
a cigar: amusements to which, judging from his inflamed countenance,
he had devoted himself pretty constantly for the last year or two of
his life. Opposite him, engaged in stirring the fire with the toe of
his right boot, was a coarse vulgar young man of about thirty, with a
sallow face and harsh voice: evidently possessed of that knowledge of
the world, and captivating freedom of manner, which is to be acquired
in public-house parlours, and at low billiard-tables. The third tenant
of the apartment was a middle-aged man in a very old suit of black, who
looked pale and haggard, and paced up and down the room incessantly:
stopping, now and then, to look with great anxiety out of the window as
if he expected somebody, and then resuming his walk.

"You'd better have the loan of my razor this morning, Mr. Ayresleigh,"
said the man who was stirring the fire, tipping the wink to his friend
the boy.

"Thank you, no, I shan't want it; I expect I shall be out in the course
of an hour or so," replied the other in a hurried manner. Then, walking
again up to the window, and once more returning disappointed, he sighed
deeply, and left the room; upon which the other two burst into a loud
laugh.

"Well, I never saw such a game as that," said the gentleman who had
offered the razor, whose name appeared to be Price. "Never!" Mr. Price
confirmed the assertion with an oath, and then laughed again, when
of course the boy (who thought his companion one of the most dashing
fellows alive) laughed also.

"You'd hardly think, would you now," said Price, turning towards Mr.
Pickwick, "that that chap's been here a week yesterday, and never once
shaved himself yet, because he feels so certain he's going out in half
an hour's time, that he thinks he may as well put it off till he gets
home?"

"Poor man!" said Mr. Pickwick. "Are his chances of getting out of his
difficulties really so great?"

"Chances be d--d," replied Price; "he hasn't half the ghost of one.
I wouldn't give _that_ for his chance of walking about the streets
this time ten years." With this Mr. Price snapped his fingers
contemptuously, and rang the bell.

"Give me a sheet of paper, Crookey," said Mr. Price to the attendant,
who in dress and general appearance looked something between a bankrupt
grazier, and a drover in a state of insolvency; "and a glass of brandy
and water, Crookey, d'ye hear? I'm going to write to my father, and I
must have a stimulant, or I shan't be able to pitch it strong enough
into the old boy." At this facetious speech, the young boy, it is
almost needless to say, was fairly convulsed.

"That's right," said Mr. Price. "Never say die. All fun, ain't it?"

"Prime!" said the young gentleman.

"You've some spirit about you, you have," said Price. "You've seen
something of life."

"I rather think I have!" replied the boy. He had looked at it through
the dirty panes of glass in a bar door.

Mr. Pickwick feeling not a little disgusted with this dialogue, as
well as with the air and manner of the two beings by whom it had been
carried on, was about to inquire whether he could not be accommodated
with a private sitting-room, when two or three strangers of genteel
appearance entered, at sight of whom the boy threw his cigar into the
fire, and whispering to Mr. Price that they had come to "make it all
right" for him, joined them at a table in the further end of the room.

It would appear, however, that matters were not going to be made all
right quite so speedily as the young gentleman anticipated; for a
very long conversation ensued, of which Mr. Pickwick could not avoid
hearing certain fragments regarding dissolute conduct, and repeated
forgiveness. At last there were very distinct allusions made by the
oldest gentleman of the party to one Whitecross Street, at which the
young gentleman, notwithstanding his primeness and his spirit, and his
knowledge of life into the bargain, reclined his head upon the table,
and howled dismally.

Very much satisfied with this sudden bringing down of the youth's
valour, and this effectual lowering of his tone, Mr. Pickwick rang the
bell, and was shown, at his own request, into a private room furnished
with a carpet, table, chairs, sideboard, and sofa, and ornamented with
a looking-glass, and various old prints. Here he had the advantage of
hearing Mrs. Namby's performance on a square piano overhead, while the
breakfast was getting ready; when it came, Mr. Perker came too.

"Aha, my dear sir," said the little man, "nailed at last, eh? Come,
come, I'm not sorry for it either, because now you'll see the absurdity
of this conduct. I've noted down the amount of the taxed costs and
damages for which the _ca-sa_ was issued, and we had better settle at
once and lose no time. Namby is come home by this time, I dare say.
What say you, my dear sir? Shall I draw a cheque, or will you?" The
little man rubbed his hands with affected cheerfulness as he said this,
but glancing at Mr. Pickwick's countenance, could not forbear at the
same time casting a desponding look towards Sam Weller.

"Perker," said Mr. Pickwick, "let me hear no more of this, I beg. I see
no advantage in staying here, so I shall go to prison to-night."

"You can't go to Whitecross Street, my dear sir," said Perker.
"Impossible! There are sixty beds in a ward; and the bolt's on sixteen
hours out of the four-and-twenty."

"I would rather go to some other place of confinement if I can," said
Mr. Pickwick. "If not, I must make the best I can of that."

"You can go to the Fleet, my dear sir, if you're determined to go
somewhere," said Perker.

"That'll do," said Mr. Pickwick. "I'll go there directly I have
finished my breakfast."

"Stop, stop, my dear sir; not the least occasion for being in such a
violent hurry to get into a place that most other men are as eager to
get out of," said the good-natured little attorney. "We must have a
_habeas corpus_. There'll be no judge at chambers till four o'clock
this afternoon. You must wait till then."

"Very good," said Mr. Pickwick, with unmoved patience. "Then we will
have a chop, here, at two. See about it, Sam, and tell them to be
punctual."

Mr. Pickwick remaining firm, despite all the remonstrances and
arguments of Perker, the chops appeared and disappeared in due course;
he was then put into another hackney-coach, and carried off to Chancery
Lane, after waiting half an hour or so for Mr. Namby, who had a select
dinner-party and could on no account be disturbed before.

There were two judges in attendance at Serjeant's Inn--one King's
Bench, and one Common Pleas--and a great deal of business appeared
to be transacting before them, if the number of lawyers' clerks who
were hurrying in and out with bundles of papers, afforded any test.
When they reached the low archway which forms the entrance to the Inn,
Perker was detained a few moments parleying with the coachman about the
fare and the change; and Mr. Pickwick, stepping to one side to be out
of the way of the stream of people that were pouring in and out, looked
about him with some curiosity.

The people that attracted his attention most, were three or four
men of shabby-genteel appearance, who touched their hats to many
of the attorneys who passed, and seemed to have some business
there, the nature of which Mr. Pickwick could not divine. They were
curious-looking fellows. One was a slim and rather lame man in rusty
black, and a white neckerchief; another was a stout burly person,
dressed in the same apparel, with a great reddish-black cloth round his
neck; a third was a little weazen drunken-looking body, with a pimply
face. They were loitering about, with their hands behind them, and now
and then with an anxious countenance whispered something in the ear of
some of the gentlemen with papers, as they hurried by. Mr. Pickwick
remembered to have very often observed them lounging under the archway
when he had been walking past; and his curiosity was quite excited to
know to what branch of the profession these dingy-looking loungers
could possibly belong.

He was about to propound the question to Namby, who kept close beside
him, sucking a large gold ring on his little finger, when Perker
bustled up, and observing that there was no time to lose, led the
way into the Inn. As Mr. Pickwick followed, the lame man stepped up
to him, and civilly touching his hat, held out a written card, which
Mr. Pickwick, not wishing to hurt the man's feelings by refusing,
courteously accepted and deposited in his waistcoat pocket.

"Now," said Perker, turning round before he entered one of the offices,
to see that his companions were close behind him. "In here, my dear
sir. Hallo, what do _you_ want?"

This last question was addressed to the lame man, who, unobserved by
Mr. Pickwick, made one of the party. In reply to it, the lame man
touched his hat again, with all imaginable politeness, and motioned
towards Mr. Pickwick.

"No, no," said Perker, with a smile. "We don't want you, my dear
friend, we don't want you."

"I beg your pardon, sir," said the lame man. "The gentleman took my
card. I hope you will employ me, sir. The gentleman nodded to me. I'll
be judged by the gentleman himself. You nodded to me, sir?"

"Pooh, pooh, nonsense. You didn't nod to anybody, Pickwick? A mistake,
a mistake," said Perker.

"The gentleman handed me his card," replied Mr. Pickwick, producing it
from his waistcoat pocket. "I accepted it, as the gentleman seemed to
wish it--in fact I had some curiosity to look at it when I should be at
leisure. I----"

The little attorney burst into a loud laugh, and returning the card
to the lame man, informing him it was all a mistake, whispered to Mr.
Pickwick as the man turned away in dudgeon, that he was only a bail.

"A what!" exclaimed Mr. Pickwick.

"A bail," replied Perker.

"A bail!"

"Yes, my dear sir--half a dozen of 'em here. Bail you to any amount,
and only charge half-a-crown. Curious trade, isn't it?" said Perker,
regaling himself with a pinch of snuff.

"What! Am I to understand that these men earn a livelihood by waiting
about here, to perjure themselves before the judges of the land, at
the rate of half-a-crown a crime!" exclaimed Mr. Pickwick, quite aghast
at the disclosure.

"Why, I don't exactly know about perjury, my dear sir," replied the
little gentleman. "Harsh word, my dear sir, very harsh word indeed.
It's a legal fiction, my dear sir, nothing more." Saying which the
attorney shrugged his shoulders, smiled, took a second pinch of snuff,
and led the way into the office of the judge's clerk.

This was a room of specially dirty appearance, with a very low ceiling
and old panelled walls; and so badly lighted, that although it was
broad day outside, great tallow candles were burning on the desks. At
one end was a door leading to the judge's private apartment, round
which were congregated a crowd of attorneys and managing clerks, who
were called in, in the order in which their respective appointments
stood upon the file. Every time this door was opened to let a party
out, the next party made a violent rush to get in; and, as in addition
to the numerous dialogues which passed between the gentlemen who were
waiting to see the judge, a variety of personal squabbles ensued
between the greater part of those who had seen him, there was as
much noise as could well be raised in an apartment of such confined
dimensions.

Nor were the conversations of these gentlemen the only sounds that
broke upon the ear. Standing on a box behind a wooden bar at another
end of the room, was a clerk in spectacles, who was "taking the
affidavits:" large batches of which were, from time to time, carried
into the private room by another clerk for the judge's signature. There
were a large number of attorneys' clerks to be sworn, and it being a
moral impossibility to swear them all at once, the struggles of these
gentlemen to reach the clerk in spectacles, were like those of a crowd
to get in at the pit door of a theatre when Gracious Majesty honours it
with its presence. Another functionary, from time to time, exercised
his lungs in calling over the names of those who had been sworn, for
the purpose of restoring to them their affidavits after they had been
signed by the judge: which gave rise to a few more scuffles; and all
these things going on at the same time, occasioned as much bustle as
the most active and excitable person could desire to behold. There
were yet another class of persons--those who were waiting to attend
summonses their employers had taken out, which it was optional to the
attorney on the opposite side to attend or not--and whose business it
was, from time to time, to cry out the opposite attorney's name; to
make certain that he was not in attendance without their knowledge.

For example. Leaning against the wall, close beside the seat Mr.
Pickwick had taken, was an office-lad of fourteen, with a tenor voice;
near him, a common-law clerk with a bass one.

A clerk hurried in with a bundle of papers, and stared about him.

"Sniggle and Blink," cried the tenor.

"Porkin and Snob," growled the bass.

"Stumpy and Deacon," said the new comer.

Nobody answered; the next man who came in, was hailed by the whole
three; and he in his turn shouted for another firm; and then somebody
else roared in a loud voice for another; and so forth.

All this time, the man in the spectacles was hard at work, swearing the
clerks: the oath being invariably administered without any effort at
the punctuation, and usually in the following terms:

"Take the book in your right hand this is your name and hand-writing
you swear that the contents of this your affidavit are true so help you
God a shilling you must get change I haven't got it."

"Well, Sam," said Mr. Pickwick, "I suppose they are getting the _habeas
corpus_ ready."

"Yes," said Sam, "and I vish they'd bring out the have-his-carcase.
It's wery unpleasant keepin' us vaitin' here. I'd ha' got half a dozen
have-his-carcases ready, pack'd up and all, by this time."

What sort of cumbrous and unmanageable machine Sam Weller imagined a
_habeas corpus_ to be, does not appear; for Perker, at that moment,
walked up, and took Mr. Pickwick away.

The usual forms having been gone through, the body of Samuel Pickwick
was soon afterwards confided to the custody of the tipstaff, to be by
him taken to the Warden of the Fleet Prison, and there detained until
the amount of the damages and costs in the action of Bardell against
Pickwick was fully paid and satisfied.

"And that," said Mr. Pickwick, laughing, "will be a very long time.
Sam, call another hackney-coach. Perker, my dear friend, good-bye."

"I shall go with you, and see you safe there," said Perker.

"Indeed," replied Mr. Pickwick, "I would rather go without any other
attendant than Sam. As soon as I get settled, I will write and let you
know, and I shall expect you immediately. Until then, good-bye."

As Mr. Pickwick said this, he got into the coach which had by this time
arrived: followed by the tipstaff. Sam having stationed himself on the
box, it rolled away.

"A most extraordinary man that!" said Perker, as he stopped to pull on
his gloves.

"What a bankrupt he'd make, sir," observed Mr. Lowten, who was standing
near. "How he would bother the commissioners! He'd set 'em at defiance
if they talked of committing him, sir."

The attorney did not appear very much delighted with his clerk's
professional estimate of Mr. Pickwick's character, for he walked away
without deigning any reply.

The hackney-coach jolted along Fleet Street, as hackney-coaches usually
do. The horses "went better," the driver said, when they had anything
before them (they must have gone at a most extraordinary pace when
there was nothing), and so the vehicle kept behind a cart; when the
cart stopped, it stopped; and when the cart went on again, it did the
same. Mr. Pickwick sat opposite the tipstaff; and the tipstaff sat with
his hat between his knees, whistling a tune, and looking out of the
coach window.

Time performs wonders. By the powerful old gentleman's aid, even a
hackney-coach gets over half a mile of ground. They stopped at length,
and Mr. Pickwick alighted at the gate of the Fleet.

The tipstaff, looking over his shoulder to see that his charge was
following close at his heels, preceded Mr. Pickwick into the prison;
turning to the left, after they had entered, they passed through an
open door into a lobby, from which a heavy gate, opposite to that by
which they had entered and which was guarded by a stout turnkey with a
key in his hand, led at once into the interior of the prison.

Here they stopped, while the tipstaff delivered his papers; and here
Mr. Pickwick was apprised that he would remain, until he had undergone
the ceremony, known to the initiated as "sitting for your portrait."

"Sitting for my portrait!" said Mr. Pickwick.

"Having your likeness taken, sir," replied the stout turnkey. "We're
capital hands at likenesses here. Take 'em in no time, and always
exact. Walk in, sir, and make yourself at home."

Mr. Pickwick complied with the invitation, and sat himself down: and
Mr. Weller, who stationed himself at the back of the chair, whispered
that the sitting was merely another term for undergoing an inspection
by the different turnkeys, in order that they might know prisoners from
visitors.

"Well, Sam," said Mr. Pickwick, "then I wish the artists would come.
This is rather a public place."

"They von't be long, sir, I des-say," replied Sam. "There's a Dutch
clock, sir."

"So I see," observed Mr. Pickwick.

"And a bird-cage, sir," said Sam. "Veels vithin veels, a prison in a
prison. Ain't it, sir?"

As Mr. Weller made this philosophical remark, Mr. Pickwick was aware
that the sitting had commenced. The stout turnkey having been relieved
from the lock, sat down, and looked at him carelessly from time to
time, while a long thin man who had relieved him, thrust his hands
beneath his coat-tails, and planting himself opposite, took a good long
view of him. A third rather surly-looking gentleman: who had apparently
been disturbed at his tea, for he was disposing of the last remnant
of a crust and butter when he came in: stationed himself close to Mr.
Pickwick; and, resting his hands on his hips, inspected him narrowly;
while two others mixed with the group, and studied his features with
most intent and thoughtful faces. Mr. Pickwick winced a good deal under
the operation, and appeared to sit very uneasily in his chair; but he
made no remark to anybody while it was being performed, not even to
Sam, who reclined upon the back of the chair, reflecting, partly on the
situation of his master, and partly on the great satisfaction it would
have afforded him to make a fierce assault upon all the turnkeys there
assembled, one after the other, if it were lawful and peaceable to do
so.

At length the likeness was completed, and Mr. Pickwick was informed,
that he might now proceed into the prison.

"Where am I to sleep to-night?" inquired Mr. Pickwick.

"Why I don't rightly know about to-night," replied the stout turnkey.
"You'll be chummed on somebody to-morrow, and then you'll be all snug
and comfortable. The first night's generally rather unsettled, but
you'll be set all squares to-morrow."

After some discussion, it was discovered that one of the turnkeys had
a bed to let, which Mr. Pickwick could have for that night. He gladly
agreed to hire it.

"If you'll come with me, I'll show it you at once," said the man. "It
ain't a large 'un; but it's an out-and-outer to sleep in. This way,
sir."

They passed through the inner gate, and descended a short flight of
steps. The key was turned after them; and Mr. Pickwick found himself,
for the first time in his life, within the walls of a debtor's prison.



CHAPTER XIII

[Illustration]

  _What Befell Mr. Pickwick when he got into the Fleet: what
    Prisoners he Saw there; and how he Passed the Night_


Mr. Tom Roker, the gentleman who had accompanied Mr. Pickwick into the
prison, turned sharp round to the right when he got to the bottom of
the little flight of steps, and led the way, through an iron gate which
stood open, and up another short flight of steps, into a long narrow
gallery, dirty and low, paved with stone, and very dimly lighted by a
window at each remote end.

"This," said the gentleman, thrusting his hands into his pockets, and
looking carelessly over his shoulder to Mr. Pickwick, "this here is the
hall flight."

"Oh," replied Mr. Pickwick, looking down a dark and filthy staircase,
which appeared to lead to a range of damp and gloomy stone vaults,
beneath the ground, "and those, I suppose, are the little cellars where
the prisoners keep their small quantities of coals. Unpleasant places
to have to go down to; but very convenient, I dare say."

"Yes, I shouldn't wonder if they was convenient," replied the
gentleman, "seeing that a few people live there, pretty snug. That's
the Fair, that is."

"My friend," said Mr. Pickwick, "you don't really mean to say that
human beings live down in those wretched dungeons?"

"Don't I?" replied Mr. Roker, with indignant astonishment; "why
shouldn't I?"

"Live! Live down there!" exclaimed Mr. Pickwick.

"Live down there! Yes, and die down there, too, wery often!" replied
Mr. Roker; "and what of that? Who's got to say anything agin it? Live
down there! Yes, and a wery good place it is to live in, ain't it?"

As Roker turned somewhat fiercely upon Mr. Pickwick in saying this,
and, moreover, muttered in an excited fashion certain unpleasant
invocations concerning his own eyes, limbs, and circulating fluids,
the latter gentleman deemed it advisable to pursue the discourse no
further. Mr. Roker then proceeded to mount another staircase, as dirty
as that which led to the place which had just been the subject of
discussion, in which ascent he was closely followed by Mr. Pickwick and
Sam.

"There," said Mr. Roker, pausing for breath when they reached another
gallery of the same dimensions as the one below, "this is the
coffee-room flight; the one above's the third, and the one above that's
the top; and the room where you're a-going to sleep to-night is the
warden's room, and it's this way--come on." Having said all this in a
breath, Mr. Roker mounted another flight of stairs, with Mr. Pickwick
and Sam Weller following at his heels.

These staircases received light from sundry windows placed at some
little distance above the floor, and looking into a gravelled area
bounded by a high brick wall, with iron _chevaux-de-frise_ at the
top. This area, it appeared from Mr. Roker's statement, was the
racket-ground; and it further appeared, on the testimony of the same
gentleman, that there was a smaller area in that portion of the prison
which was nearest Farringdon Street, denominated and called the
"Painted Ground," from the fact of its walls having once displayed the
semblances of various men-of-war in full sail, and other artistical
effects achieved in bygone times by some imprisoned draughtsman in his
leisure hours.

Having communicated this piece of information, apparently more for
the purpose of discharging his bosom of an important fact, than with
any specific view of enlightening Mr. Pickwick, the guide, having at
length reached another gallery, led the way into a small passage at the
extreme end: opened a door: and disclosed an apartment of an appearance
by no means inviting, containing eight or nine iron bedsteads.

"There," said Mr. Roker, holding the door open, and looking triumphantly
round at Mr. Pickwick, "there's a room!"

Mr. Pickwick's face, however, betokened such a very trifling portion of
satisfaction at the appearance of his lodging, that Mr. Roker looked
for a reciprocity of feeling into the countenance of Samuel Weller,
who, until now, had observed a dignified silence.

"There's a room, young man," observed Mr. Roker.

"I see it," replied Sam, with a placid nod of the head.

"You wouldn't think to find such a room as this in the Farringdon
Hotel, would you?" said Mr. Roker, with a complacent smile.

To this Mr. Weller replied with an easy and unstudied closing of one
eye; which might be considered to mean, either that he would have
thought it, or that he would not have thought it, or that he had
never thought anything at all about it: as the observer's imagination
suggested. Having executed this feat, and re-opened his eye, Mr. Weller
proceeded to inquire which was the individual bedstead that Mr. Roker
had so flatteringly described as an out-and-outer to sleep in.

"That's it," replied Mr. Roker, pointing to a very rusty one in a
corner. "It would make any one go to sleep, that bedstead would,
whether they wanted to or not."

"I should think," said Sam, eyeing the piece of furniture in question
with a look of excessive disgust, "I should think poppies was nothing
to it."

"Nothing at all," said Mr. Roker.

"And I s'pose," said Sam, with a sidelong glance at his master, as
if to see whether there were any symptoms of his determination being
shaken by what passed, "I s'pose the other gen'l'm'n as sleeps here,
_are_ gen'l'm'n."

"Nothing but it," said Mr. Roker. "One of 'em takes his twelve pints of
ale a-day, and never leaves off smoking even at his meals."

"He must be a first-rater," said Sam.

"A 1," replied Mr. Roker.

Nothing daunted, even by this intelligence, Mr. Pickwick smilingly
announced his determination to test the powers of the narcotic
bedstead for that night; and Mr. Roker, after informing him that he
could retire to rest at whatever hour he thought proper, without any
further notice or formality, walked off, leaving him standing with Sam
in the gallery.

It was getting dark; that is to say, a few gas jets were kindled in
this place which was never light, by way of compliment to the evening,
which had set in outside. As it was rather warm, some of the tenants
of the numerous little rooms which opened into the gallery on either
hand, had set their doors ajar. Mr. Pickwick peeped into them as he
passed along, with great curiosity and interest. Here four or five
great hulking fellows, just visible through a cloud of tobacco-smoke,
were engaged in noisy and riotous conversation over half-emptied pots
of beer, or playing at all-fours with a very greasy pack of cards. In
the adjoining room, some solitary tenant might be seen, poring, by the
light of a feeble tallow candle, over a bundle of soiled and tattered
papers, yellow with dust and dropping to pieces from age: writing,
for the hundredth time, some lengthened statement of his grievances,
for the perusal of some great man whose eyes it would never reach, or
whose heart it would never touch. In a third, a man, with his wife and
a whole crowd of children, might be seen making up a scanty bed on the
ground, or upon a few chairs, for the younger ones to pass the night
in. And in a fourth, and a fifth, and a sixth, and a seventh, the noise
and the beer, and the tobacco-smoke, and the cards, all came over again
in greater force than before.

In the galleries themselves, and more especially on the staircases,
there lingered a great number of people, who came there, some because
their rooms were empty and lonesome, others because their rooms
were full and hot: the greater part because they were restless and
uncomfortable, and not possessed of the secret of exactly knowing what
to do with themselves. There were many classes of people here, from the
labouring man in his fustian jacket, to the broken-down spendthrift
in his shawl dressing-gown, most appropriately out at elbows; but
there was the same air about them all--a listless, jail-bird, careless
swagger, a vagabondish who's-afraid sort of bearing, which is wholly
indescribable in words, but which any man can understand in one moment
if he wish, by setting foot in the nearest debtor's prison, and looking
at the very first group of people he sees there, with the same interest
as Mr. Pickwick did.

"It strikes me, Sam," said Mr. Pickwick, leaning over the iron rail
at the stair-head--"it strikes me, Sam, that imprisonment for debt is
scarcely any punishment at all."

"Think not, sir?" inquired Mr. Weller.

"You see how these fellows drink, and smoke, and roar," replied Mr.
Pickwick. "It's quite impossible that they can mind it much."

"Ah, that's just the wery thing, sir," rejoined Sam, "_they_ don't
mind it; it's a regular holiday to them--all porter and skittles.
It's the t'other vuns as gets done over, vith this sort o' thing:
them down-hearted fellers as can't svig avay at the beer, nor play
at skittles neither; them as vould pay if they could, and gets low
by being boxed up. I'll tell you wot it is, sir; them as is alvays a
idlin' in public-houses it don't damage at all, and them as is alvays a
workin' ven they can, it damages too much. 'It's unekal,' as my father
used to say ven his grog worn't made half-and-half. It's unekal, and
that's the fault on it."

"I think you're right, Sam," said Mr. Pickwick, after a few moments'
reflection, "quite right."

"P'raps, now and then, there's some honest people as likes it,"
observed Mr. Weller, in a ruminative tone, "but I never heerd o' one as
I can call to mind, 'cept the little dirty-faced man in the brown coat;
and that wos force of habit."

"And who was he?" inquired Mr. Pickwick.

"Vy, that's just the wery point as nobody never know'd," replied Sam.

"But what did he do?"

"Vy, he did wot many men as has been much better know'd has done in
their time, sir," replied Sam, "he run a match agin the constable, and
vun it."

"In other words, I suppose," said Mr. Pickwick, "he got into debt?"

"Just that, sir," replied Sam, "and in course o' time he come here
in consekens. It warn't much--execution for nine pound nothin',
multiplied by five for costs; but hows'ever here he stopped for
seventeen year. If he got any wrinkles in his face, they wos stopped
up vith the dirt, for both the dirty face and the brown coat wos just
the same at the end o' that time as they wos at the beginnin'. He wos
a wery peaceful inoffendin' little creetur, and wos alvays a bustlin'
about for somebody, or playin' rackets and never vinnin'; till at last
the turnkeys they got quite fond on him, and he wos in the lodge ev'ry
night, a chattering vith 'em, and tellin' stories, and all that 'ere.
Vun night he wos in there as usual, along vith a wery old friend of
his, as wos on the lock, ven he says all of a sudden, 'I ain't seen
the market outside, Bill,' he says (Fleet Market wos there at that
time)--'I ain't seen the market outside, Bill,' he says, 'for seventeen
year.' 'I know you ain't,' says the turnkey, smoking his pipe. 'I
should like to see it for a minit, Bill,' he says. 'Wery probable,'
says the turnkey, smoking his pipe wery fierce, and making believe
he warn't up to what the little man wanted. 'Bill,' says the little
man, more abrupt than afore, 'I've got the fancy in my head. Let me
see the public streets once more afore I die; and if I ain't struck
with apoplexy, I'll be back in five minits by the clock.' 'And wot 'ud
become o' me if you _wos_ struck with apoplexy?' said the turnkey.
'Vy,' says the little creetur, 'whoever found me, 'ud bring me home,
for I've got my card in my pocket, Bill,' he says, 'No. 20, Coffee-room
Flight:' and that wos true, sure enough, for ven he wanted to make the
acquaintance of any new comer, he used to pull out a little limp card
vith them words on it and nothin' else; in consideration of vich, he
wos alvays called Number Tventy. The turnkey takes a fixed look at
him, and at last he says in a solemn manner, 'Tventy,' he says, 'I'll
trust you; you won't get your old friend into trouble?' 'No, my boy; I
hope I've somethin' better behind here,' says the little man; and as
he said it he hit his little veskit wery hard, and then a tear started
out o' each eye, which wos wery extraordinary, for it was supposed as
water never touched his face. He shook the turnkey by the hand; out he
vent----"

"And never came back again?" said Mr. Pickwick.

"Wrong for vunce, sir," replied Mr. Weller, "for back he come, two
minits afore the time, a bilin' with rage: sayin' how he'd been nearly
run over by a hackney-coach: that he warn't used to it: and he wos
blowed if he wouldn't write to the Lord Mayor. They got him pacified at
last; and for five years arter that, he never even so much as peeped
out o' the lodge gate."

"At the expiration of that time he died, I suppose?" said Mr. Pickwick.

"No, he didn't, sir," replied Sam. "He got a curiosity to go and taste
the beer at a new public-house over the way, and it wos such a wery
nice parlour, that he took it into his head to go there every night,
vich he did for a long time, always comin' back reg'lar about a quarter
of an hour afore the gate shut, vich wos all wery snug and comfortable.
At last he began to get so precious jolly, that he used to forget how
the time vent, or care nothin' at all about it, and he vent on gettin'
later and later, till vun night his old friend wos just a shuttin' the
gate--had turned the key in fact--ven he come up. 'Hold hard, Bill,'
he says. 'Wot, ain't you come home yet, Tventy?' says the turnkey; 'I
thought you wos in, long ago.' 'No, I wasn't,' says the little man,
vith a smile. 'Well then, I'll tell you wot it is, my friend,' says
the turnkey, openin' the gate wery slow and sulky, 'it's my 'pinion as
you've got into bad company o' late, which I'm wery sorry to see. Now,
I don't wish to do nothing harsh,' he says, 'but if you can't confine
yourself to steady circles, and find your vay back at reg'lar hours,
as sure as you're a standin' there, I'll shut you out altogether!' The
little man was seized vith a wiolent fit o' tremblin', and never vent
outside the prison walls artervards!"

As Sam concluded, Mr. Pickwick slowly retraced his steps down-stairs.
After a few thoughtful turns in the Painted Ground, which, as it was
now dark, was nearly deserted, he intimated to Mr. Weller that he
thought it high time for him to withdraw for the night; requesting him
to seek a bed in some adjacent public-house, and return early in the
morning, to make arrangements for the removal of his master's wardrobe
from the George and Vulture. This request Mr. Samuel Weller prepared
to obey, with as good a grace as he could assume, but with a very
considerable show of reluctance nevertheless. He even went so far as to
essay sundry ineffectual hints regarding the expediency of stretching
himself on the gravel for that night; but finding Mr. Pickwick
obstinately deaf to any such suggestions, finally withdrew.

There is no disguising the fact that Mr. Pickwick felt very low-spirited
and uncomfortable; not for lack of society, for the prison was very
full, and a bottle of wine would at once have purchased the utmost
good-fellowship of a few choice spirits, without any more formal
ceremony of introduction; but he was alone in the coarse, vulgar crowd,
and felt the depression of spirit and sinking of heart, naturally
consequent on the reflection that he was cooped and caged up, without
a prospect of liberation. As to the idea of releasing himself by
ministering to the sharpness of Dodson and Fogg, it never for an
instant entered his thoughts.

In this frame of mind he turned again into the coffee-room gallery,
and walked slowly to and fro. The place was intolerably dirty, and the
smell of tobacco-smoke perfectly suffocating. There was a perpetual
slamming and banging of doors as the people went in and out; and the
noise of their voices and footsteps echoed and re-echoed through the
passages constantly. A young woman, with a child in her arms, who
seemed scarcely able to crawl, from emaciation and misery, was walking
up and down the passage in conversation with her husband, who had no
other place to see her in. As they passed Mr. Pickwick, he could hear
the female sob; and once she burst into such a passion of grief, that
she was compelled to lean against the wall for support, while the man
took the child in his arms, and tried to soothe her.

Mr. Pickwick's heart was really too full to bear it, and he went
up-stairs to bed.

Now, although the warden's room was a very uncomfortable one (being,
in every point of decoration and convenience, several hundred degrees
inferior to the common infirmary of a county gaol), it had at present
the merit of being wholly deserted save by Mr. Pickwick himself. So, he
sat down at the foot of his little iron bedstead, and began to wonder
how much a year the warden made out of the dirty room. Having satisfied
himself, by mathematical calculation, that the apartment was about
equal in annual value to the freehold of a small street in the suburbs
of London, he took to wondering what possible temptation could have
induced a dingy-looking fly that was crawling over his pantaloons,
to come into a close prison, when he had the choice of so many airy
situations--a course of meditation which led him to the irresistible
conclusion that the insect was mad. After settling this point, he began
to be conscious that he was getting sleepy; whereupon he took his
nightcap out of the pocket in which he had had the precaution to stow
it in the morning, and, leisurely undressing himself, got into bed, and
fell asleep.

"Bravo! Heel over toe--cut and shuffle--pay away at it, Zephyr! I'm
smothered if the Opera House isn't your proper hemisphere. Keep it up!
Hooray!" These expressions, delivered in a most boisterous tone, and
accompanied with loud peals of laughter, roused Mr. Pickwick from one
of those sound slumbers which, lasting in reality some half-hour, seem
to the sleeper to have been protracted for three weeks or a month.

The voice had no sooner ceased than the room was shaken with such
violence that the windows rattled in their frames, and the bedsteads
trembled again. Mr. Pickwick started up, and remained for some minutes
fixed in mute astonishment at the scene before him.

On the floor of the room, a man in a broad-skirted green coat, with
corduroy knee smalls and grey cotton stockings, was performing the most
popular steps of a hornpipe, with a slang and burlesque caricature
of grace and lightness, which, combined with the very appropriate
character of his costume, was inexpressibly absurd. Another man,
evidently very drunk, who had probably been tumbled into bed by his
companions, was sitting up between the sheets, warbling as much as he
could recollect of a comic song, with the most intensely sentimental
feeling and expression; while a third, seated on one of the bedsteads,
was applauding both performers with the air of a profound connoisseur,
and encouraging them by such ebullitions of feeling as had already
roused Mr. Pickwick from his sleep.

This last man was an admirable specimen of a class of gentry which
never can be seen in full perfection but in such places;--they may be
met with, in an imperfect state, occasionally about stable-yards and
public-houses; but they never attain their full bloom except in these
hot-beds, which would almost seem to be considerately provided by the
Legislature for the sole purpose of rearing them.

He was a tall fellow, with an olive complexion, long dark hair,
and very thick bushy whiskers meeting under his chin. He wore no
neckerchief, as he had been playing rackets all day, and his open
shirt-collar displayed their full luxuriance. On his head he wore one
of the common eighteenpenny French skull-caps, with a gaudy tassel
dangling therefrom, very happily in keeping with a common fustian coat.
His legs: which, being long, were afflicted with weakness: graced
a pair of Oxford-mixture trousers, made to show the full symmetry
of those limbs. Being somewhat negligently braced, however, and,
moreover, but imperfectly buttoned, they fell in a series of not the
most graceful folds over a pair of shoes sufficiently down at the heel
to display a pair of very soiled white stockings. There was a rakish,
vagabond smartness, and a kind of boastful rascality, about the whole
man, that was worth a mine of gold.

This figure was the first to perceive that Mr. Pickwick was looking
on; upon which he winked to the Zephyr, and entreated him, with mock
gravity, not to wake the gentleman.

"Why, bless the gentleman's honest heart and soul!" said the Zephyr,
turning round and affecting the extremity of surprise; "the gentleman
_is_ awake. Hem, Shakespeare! How do you do, sir? How is Mary and
Sarah, sir? and the dear old lady at home, sir? Will you have the
kindness to put my compliments into the first little parcel you're
sending that way, sir, and say that I would have sent 'em before, only
I was afraid they might be broken in the waggon, sir?"

"Don't overwhelm the gentleman with ordinary civilities when you see
he's anxious to have something to drink," said the gentleman with the
whiskers, with a jocose air. "Why don't you ask the gentleman what
he'll take?"

"Dear me, I quite forgot," replied the other. "What _will_ you take,
sir? Will you take port wine, sir, or sherry wine, sir? I can recommend
the ale, sir; or perhaps you'd like to taste the porter, sir? Allow me
to have the felicity of hanging up your nightcap, sir."

With this, the speaker snatched that article of dress from Mr.
Pickwick's head, and fixed it in a twinkling on that of the drunken
man, who, firmly impressed with the belief that he was delighting a
numerous assembly, continued to hammer away at the comic song in the
most melancholy strains imaginable.

Taking a man's nightcap from his brow by violent means, and adjusting
it on the head of an unknown gentleman of dirty exterior, however
ingenious a witticism in itself, is unquestionably one of those which
come under the denomination of practical jokes. Viewing the matter
precisely in this light, Mr. Pickwick, without the slightest intimation
of his purpose, sprang vigorously out of bed, struck the Zephyr so
smart a blow in the chest as to deprive him of a considerable portion
of the commodity which sometimes bears his name, and then, recapturing
his nightcap, boldly placed himself in an attitude of defence.

"Now," said Mr. Pickwick, gasping no less from excitement than from
the expenditure of so much energy, "come on--both of you--both of
you!" With this liberal invitation the worthy gentleman communicated
a revolving motion to his clenched fists, by way of appalling his
antagonists with a display of science.

[Illustration: "_Come on--both of you_"]

It might have been Mr. Pickwick's very unexpected gallantry, or it
might have been the complicated manner in which he had got himself out
of bed, and fallen all in a mass upon the hornpipe man, that touched
his adversaries. Touched they were; for, instead of then and there
making an attempt to commit manslaughter, as Mr. Pickwick implicitly
believed they would have done, they paused, stared at each other a
short time, and finally laughed outright.

"Well; you're a trump, and I like you all the better for it," said the
Zephyr. "Now jump into bed again, or you'll catch the rheumatics. No
malice, I hope?" said the man, extending a hand the size of the yellow
clump of fingers which sometimes swings over a glover's door.

"Certainly not," said Mr. Pickwick, with great alacrity; for now that
the excitement was over, he began to feel rather cool about the legs.

"Allow me the _h_onour," said the gentleman with the whiskers,
presenting his dexter hand, and aspirating the h.

"With much pleasure, sir," said Mr. Pickwick; and having executed a
very long and solemn shake, he got into bed again.

"My name is Smangle, sir," said the man with the whiskers.

"Oh," said Mr. Pickwick.

"Mine is Mivins," said the man in the stockings.

"I am delighted to hear it, sir," said Mr. Pickwick.

"Hem," coughed Mr. Smangle.

"Did you speak, sir?" said Mr. Pickwick.

"No, I did not, sir," said Mr. Smangle.

"I thought you did, sir," said Mr. Pickwick.

All this was very genteel and pleasant; and to make matters still more
comfortable, Mr. Smangle assured Mr. Pickwick a great many times that
he entertained a very high respect for the feelings of a gentleman;
which sentiment, indeed, did him infinite credit, as he could be in no
wise supposed to understand them.

"Are you going through the court, sir?" inquired Mr. Smangle.

"Through the what?" said Mr. Pickwick.

"Through the Court--Portugal Street--the Court for the Relief of--you
know."

"Oh no," replied Mr. Pickwick. "No, I am not."

"Going out, perhaps?" suggested Mivins.

"I fear not," replied Mr. Pickwick. "I refuse to pay some damages, and
am here in consequence."

"Ah," said Mr. Smangle, "paper has been my ruin."

"A stationer, I presume, sir?" said Mr. Pickwick, innocently.

"Stationer! No, no; confound and curse me! Not so low as that. No
trade. When I say paper, I mean bills."

"Oh, you use the word in that sense. I see," said Mr. Pickwick.

"Damme! A gentleman must expect reverses," said Smangle. "What of that?
Here am I in the Fleet Prison. Well; good. What then? I'm none the
worse for that, am I?"

"Not a bit," replied Mr. Mivins. And he was quite right; for, so far
from Mr. Smangle being any the worse for it, he was something the
better, inasmuch as to qualify himself for the place, he had obtained
gratuitous possession of certain articles of jewellery, which, long
before that, had found their way to the pawnbroker's.

"Well; but come," said Mr. Smangle; "this is dry work. Let's rinse our
mouths with a drop of burnt sherry; the last comer shall stand it,
Mivins shall fetch it, and I'll help to drink it. That's a fair and
gentlemanlike division of labour, anyhow. Curse me!"

Unwilling to hazard another quarrel, Mr. Pickwick gladly assented to
the proposition, and consigned the money to Mr. Mivins, who, as it was
nearly eleven o'clock, lost no time in repairing to the coffee-room on
his errand.

"I say," whispered Smangle, the moment his friend had left the room;
"what did you give him?"

"Half a sovereign," said Mr. Pickwick.

"He's a devilish pleasant gentlemanly dog," said Mr. Smangle;--"infernal
pleasant. I don't know anybody more so, but--" Here Mr. Smangle stopped
short, and shook his head dubiously.

"You don't think there is any probability of his appropriating the
money to his own use?" said Mr. Pickwick.

"Oh no! Mind, I don't say that; I expressly say that he's a devilish
gentlemanly fellow," said Mr. Smangle. "But I think, perhaps, if
somebody went down, just to see that he didn't dip his beak into the
jug by accident, or make some confounded mistake in losing the money
as he came up-stairs, it would be as well. Here, you sir, just run
down-stairs, and look after that gentleman, will you?"

This request was addressed to a little timid-looking, nervous man,
whose appearance bespoke great poverty, and who had been crouching on
his bedstead all this while, apparently stupefied by the novelty of his
situation.

"You know where the coffee-room is," said Smangle; "just run down,
and tell that gentleman you've come to help him up with the jug.
Or--stop--I'll tell you what--I'll tell you how we'll do him," said
Smangle, with a cunning look.

"How?" said Mr. Pickwick.

"Send down word that he's to spend the change in cigars. Capital
thought. Run and tell him that; d'ye hear? They shan't be wasted,"
continued Smangle, turning to Mr. Pickwick. "_I'll_ smoke 'em."

This manoeuvring was so exceedingly ingenious, and, withal, performed
with such immovable composure and coolness, that Mr. Pickwick would
have had no wish to disturb it, even if he had had the power. In a
short time Mr. Mivins returned, bearing the sherry, which Mr. Smangle
dispensed in two little cracked mugs; considerately remarking, with
reference to himself, that a gentleman must not be particular under
such circumstances, and that, for his part, he was not too proud to
drink out of the jug. In which, to show his sincerity, he forthwith
pledged the company in a draught which half emptied it.

An excellent understanding having been by these means promoted, Mr.
Smangle proceeded to entertain his hearers with a relation of divers
romantic adventures in which he had been from time to time engaged,
involving various interesting anecdotes of a thorough-bred horse, and a
magnificent Jewess, both of surpassing beauty, and much coveted by the
nobility and gentry of these kingdoms.

Long before these elegant extracts from the biography of a gentleman
were concluded, Mr. Mivins had betaken himself to bed, and had set in
snoring for the night: leaving the timid stranger and Mr. Pickwick to
the full benefit of Mr. Smangle's experiences.

Nor were the two last-named gentlemen as much edified as they might
have been, by the moving passages narrated. Mr. Pickwick had been in
a state of slumber for some time, when he had a faint perception of
the drunken man bursting out afresh with the comic song, and receiving
from Mr. Smangle a gentle intimation, through the medium of the water
jug, that his audience were not musically disposed. Mr. Pickwick then
once again dropped off to sleep, with a confused consciousness that Mr.
Smangle was still engaged in relating a long story, the chief point of
which appeared to be, that on some occasion particularly stated and set
forth, he had "done" a bill and a gentleman at the same time.



CHAPTER XIV

[Illustration]

  _Illustrative, like the preceding one, of the old Proverb, that
    Adversity brings a Man acquainted with Strange Bed-fellows.
    Likewise containing Mr. Pickwick's extraordinary and startling
    Announcement to Mr. Samuel Weller_


When Mr. Pickwick opened his eyes next morning, the first object
upon which they rested, was Samuel Weller, seated upon a small black
portmanteau, intently regarding, apparently in a condition of profound
abstraction, the stately figure of the dashing Mr. Smangle; while Mr.
Smangle himself, who was already partially dressed, was seated on his
bedstead, occupied in the desperately hopeless attempt of staring Mr.
Weller out of countenance. We say desperately hopeless, because Sam,
with a comprehensive gaze which took in Mr. Smangle's cap, feet, head,
face, legs, and whiskers, all at the same time, continued to look
steadily on, with every demonstration of lively satisfaction, but with
no more regard to Mr. Smangle's personal sentiments on the subject than
he would have displayed had he been inspecting a wooden statue, or a
straw-embowelled Guy Fawkes.

"Well; will you know me again?" said Mr. Smangle, with a frown.

"I'd svear to you anyveres, sir," replied Sam, cheerfully.

"Don't be impertinent to a gentleman, sir," said Mr. Smangle.

"Not on no account," replied Sam. "If you'll tell me ven he vakes, I'll
be upon the wery best extra-super behaviour!" This observation, having
a remote tendency to imply that Mr. Smangle was no gentleman, kindled
his ire.

"Mivins!" said Mr. Smangle, with a passionate air.

"What's the office?" replied that gentleman from his couch.

"Who the devil is this fellow?"

"'Gad," said Mr. Mivins, looking lazily out from under the bed-clothes,
"I ought to ask _you_ that. Hasn't he any business here?"

"No," replied Mr. Smangle.

"Then knock him down-stairs, and tell him not to presume to get up till
I come and kick him," rejoined Mr. Mivins: with this prompt advice that
excellent gentleman again betook himself to slumber.

The conversation exhibiting these unequivocal symptoms of verging on
the personal, Mr. Pickwick deemed it a fit point at which to interpose.

"Sam," said Mr. Pickwick.

"Sir?" rejoined that gentleman.

"Has anything new occurred since last night?"

"Nothin' partickler, sir," replied Sam, glancing at Mr. Smangle's
whiskers; "the late prewailance of a close and confined atmosphere has
been rayther favourable to the growth of veeds, of an alarmin' and
sangvinary natur'; but vith that 'ere exception things is quiet enough."

"I shall get up," said Mr. Pickwick; "give me some clean things."

Whatever hostile intentions Mr. Smangle might have entertained, his
thoughts were speedily diverted by the unpacking of the portmanteau;
the contents of which appeared to impress him at once with a most
favourable opinion, not only of Mr. Pickwick, but of Sam also, who, he
took an early opportunity of declaring in a tone of voice loud enough
for that eccentric personage to overhear, was a regular thorough-bred
original, and consequently the very man after his own heart. As to Mr.
Pickwick, the affection he conceived for him knew no limits.

"Now is there anything I can do for you, my dear sir?" said Smangle.

"Nothing that I am aware of, I am obliged to you," replied Mr.
Pickwick.

"No linen that you want sent to the washerwoman's? I know a delightful
washerwoman outside, that comes for my things twice a week; and, by
Jove!--how devilish lucky!--this is the day she calls. Shall I put
any of those little things up with mine? Don't say anything about the
trouble. Confound and curse it! if one gentleman under a cloud, is not
to put himself a little out of the way to assist another gentleman in
the same condition, what's human nature?"

Thus spake Mr. Smangle, edging himself meanwhile as near as possible
to the portmanteau, and beaming forth looks of the most fervent and
disinterested friendship.

"There's nothing you want to give out for the man to brush, my dear
creature, is there?" resumed Smangle.

"Nothin' whatever, my fine feller," rejoined Sam, taking the reply into
his own mouth. "P'raps if vun of us wos to brush, without troubling the
man, it 'ud be more agreeable for all parties, as the schoolmaster said
wen the young gentleman objected to being flogged by the butler."

"And there's nothing that I can send in my little box to the
washerwoman's, is there?" said Smangle, turning from Sam to Mr.
Pickwick, with an air of some discomfiture.

"Nothin' whatever, sir," retorted Sam; "I'm afeerd the little box must
be chock-full o' your own as it is."

This speech was accompanied with such a very expressive look at that
particular portion of Mr. Smangle's attire, by the appearance of which
the skill of laundresses in getting up gentlemen's linen is generally
tested, that he was fain to turn upon his heel, and, for the present at
any rate, to give up all design on Mr. Pickwick's purse and wardrobe.
He accordingly retired in dudgeon to the racket-ground, where he made a
light and wholesome breakfast on a couple of the cigars which had been
purchased on the previous night.

Mr. Mivins, who was no smoker, and whose account for small articles of
chandlery had also reached down to the bottom of the slate, and been
"carried over" to the other side, remained in bed, and, in his own
words, "took it out in sleep."

After breakfasting in a small closet attached to the coffee-room,
which bore the imposing title of the Snuggery; the temporary inmate
of which, in consideration of a small additional charge, had the
unspeakable advantage of overhearing all the conversation in the
coffee-room aforesaid; and after despatching Mr. Weller on some
necessary errands, Mr. Pickwick repaired to the Lodge, to consult Mr.
Roker concerning his future accommodation.

"Accommodation, eh?" said that gentleman, consulting a large book.
"Plenty of that, Mr. Pickvick. Your chummage ticket will be on
twenty-seven, in the third."

"Oh," said Mr. Pickwick, "my what, did you say?"

"Your chummage ticket," replied Mr. Roker; "you're up to that?"

"Not quite," replied Mr. Pickwick, with a smile.

"Why," said Mr. Roker, "it's as plain as Salisbury. You'll have a
chummage ticket upon twenty-seven in the third, and them as is in the
room will be your chums."

"Are there many of them?" inquired Mr. Pickwick, dubiously.

"Three," replied Mr. Roker.

Mr. Pickwick coughed.

"One of 'em's a parson," said Mr. Roker, filling up a little piece of
paper as he spoke; "another's a butcher."

"Eh?" exclaimed Mr. Pickwick.

"A butcher," repeated Mr. Roker, giving the nib of his pen a tap on the
desk to cure it of a disinclination to mark. "What a thorough-paced
goer he used to be sure-ly! You remember Tom Martin, Neddy?" said
Roker, appealing to another man in the lodge, who was paring the mud
off his shoes with a five-and-twenty bladed pocket-knife.

"_I_ should think so," replied the party addressed, with a strong
emphasis on the personal pronoun.

"Bless my dear eyes!" said Mr. Roker, shaking his head slowly from
side to side, and gazing abstractedly out of the grated windows before
him, as if he were fondly recalling some peaceful scene of his early
youth; "it seems but yesterday that he whopped the coal-heaver down
Fox-under-the-Hill by the wharf there. I think I can see him now, a
coming up the Strand between the two street-keepers, a little sobered
by the bruising, with a patch o' winegar and brown paper over his
right eyelid, and that 'ere lovely bulldog, as pinned the little boy
arterwards, a following at his heels. What a rum thing Time is, ain't
it, Neddy?"

The gentleman to whom these observations were addressed, who appeared
of a taciturn and thoughtful cast, merely echoed the inquiry; Mr.
Roker, shaking off the poetical and gloomy train of thought into which
he had been betrayed, descended to the common business of life, and
resumed his pen.

"Do you know what the third gentleman is?" inquired Mr. Pickwick, not
very much gratified by this description of his future associates.

"What is that Simpson, Neddy?" said Mr. Roker, turning to his companion.

"What Simpson?" said Neddy.

"Why, him in twenty-seven in the third, that this gentleman's going to
be chummed on."

"Oh, him!" replied Neddy: "he's nothing exactly. He was a horse
chaunter: he's a leg now."

"Ah, so I thought," rejoined Mr. Roker, closing the book, and placing
the small piece of paper in Mr. Pickwick's hands. "That's the ticket,
sir."

Very much perplexed by this summary disposition of his person, Mr.
Pickwick walked back into the prison, revolving in his mind what he had
better do. Convinced, however, that before he took any other steps it
would be advisable to see, and hold personal converse with, the three
gentlemen with whom it was proposed to quarter him, he made the best of
his way to the third flight.

After groping about in the gallery for some time, attempting in the
dim light to decipher the numbers on the different doors, he at
length appealed to a potboy, who happened to be pursuing his morning
occupation of gleaning for pewter.

"Which is twenty-seven, my good fellow?" said Mr. Pickwick.

"Five doors further on," replied the potboy. "There's the likeness of a
man being hung, and smoking a pipe the while, chalked outside the door."

Guided by this direction, Mr. Pickwick proceeded slowly along the
gallery until he encountered the "portrait of a gentleman," above
described, upon whose countenance he tapped, with the knuckle of his
fore-finger--gently at first, and then audibly. After repeating this
process several times without effect, he ventured to open the door and
peep in.

There was only one man in the room, and he was leaning out of window as
far as he could without overbalancing himself, endeavouring, with great
perseverance, to spit upon the crown of the hat of a personal friend on
the parade below. As neither speaking, coughing, sneezing, knocking,
nor any other ordinary mode of attracting attention, made this person
aware of the presence of a visitor, Mr. Pickwick, after some delay,
stepped up to the window, and pulled him gently by the coat-tail. The
individual brought in his head and shoulders, with great swiftness, and
surveying Mr. Pickwick from head to foot, demanded in a surly tone what
the--something beginning with a capital H--he wanted.

"I believe," said Mr. Pickwick, consulting his ticket, "I believe this
is twenty-seven in the third?"

"Well?" replied the gentleman.

"I have come here in consequence of receiving this bit paper," rejoined
Mr. Pickwick.

"Hand it over," said the gentleman.

Mr. Pickwick complied.

"I think Roker might have chummed you somewhere else," said Mr. Simpson
(for it was the leg), after a very discontented sort of a pause.

Mr. Pickwick thought so also; but, under all the circumstances, he
considered it a matter of sound policy to be silent.

Mr. Simpson mused for a few moments after this, and then, thrusting
his head out of the window, gave a shrill whistle, and pronounced some
word aloud, several times. What the word was Mr. Pickwick could not
distinguish; but he rather inferred that it must be some nickname which
distinguished Mr. Martin: from the fact of a great number of gentlemen
on the ground below, immediately proceeding to cry "Butcher!" in
imitation of the tone in which that useful class of society are wont,
diurnally, to make their presence known at area railings.

Subsequent occurrences confirmed the accuracy of Mr. Pickwick's
impression; for, in a few seconds, a gentleman, prematurely broad for
his years: clothed in a professional blue jean frock, and top-boots
with circular toes: entered the room nearly out of breath, closely
followed by another gentleman in very shabby black, and a sealskin cap.
The latter gentleman, who fastened his coat all the way up to his chin
by means of a pin and a button alternately, had a very coarse red face,
and looked like a drunken chaplain; which, indeed, he was.

These two gentlemen having by turns perused Mr. Pickwick's billet,
the one expressed his opinion that it was "a rig," and the other his
conviction that it was "a go." Having recorded their feelings in these
very intelligible terms, they looked at Mr. Pickwick and each other in
awkward silence.

"It's an aggravating thing, just as we got the beds so snug," said
the chaplain, looking at three dirty mattresses, each rolled up in a
blanket: which occupied one corner of the room during the day, and
formed a kind of slab, on which were placed an old cracked basin, ewer,
and soap-dish, of common yellow earthenware, with a blue flower. "Very
aggravating."

Mr. Martin expressed the same opinion in rather stronger terms: Mr.
Simpson, after having let a variety of expletive adjectives loose
upon society without any substantive to accompany them, tucked up his
sleeves, and began to wash the greens for dinner.

While this was going on, Mr. Pickwick had been eyeing the room, which
was filthily dirty, and smelt intolerably close. There was no vestige
of either carpet, curtain, or blind. There was not even a closet in it.
Unquestionably there were but few things to put away, if there had been
one; but, however few in number, or small in individual amount, still,
remnants of loaves and pieces of cheese, and damp towels, and scrags
of meat, and articles of wearing apparel, and mutilated crockery,
and bellows without nozzles, and toasting-forks without prongs, _do_
present somewhat of an uncomfortable appearance when they are scattered
about the floor of a small apartment, which is the common sitting and
sleeping room of three idle men.

"I suppose this can be managed somehow," said the butcher, after a
pretty long silence. "What will you take to go out?"

"I beg your pardon," replied Mr. Pickwick. "What did you say? I hardly
understand you."

"What will you take to be paid out?" said the butcher. "The regular
chummage is two-and-six. Will you take three bob?"

"--And a bender?" suggested the clerical gentleman.

"Well, I don't mind that; it's only twopence a-piece more," said Mr.
Martin.

"What do you say, now? We'll pay you out for three-and-sixpence a week.
Come!"

"And stand a gallon of beer down," chimed in Mr. Simpson. "There!"

"And drink it on the spot," said the chaplain. "Now!"

"I really am so wholly ignorant of the rules of this place," returned
Mr. Pickwick, "that I do not yet comprehend you. _Can_ I live anywhere
else? I thought I could not."

At this inquiry Mr. Martin looked, with a countenance of excessive
surprise, at his two friends, and then each gentleman pointed with his
right thumb over his left shoulder. This action, imperfectly described
in words by the very feeble term of "over the left," when performed by
any number of ladies or gentlemen who are accustomed to act in unison,
has a very graceful and airy effect; its expression is one of light and
playful sarcasm.

"_Can_ you!" repeated Mr. Martin, with a smile of pity.

"Well, if I knew as little of life as that, I'd eat my hat and swallow
the buckle whole," said the clerical gentleman.

"So would I," added the sporting one, solemnly.

After this introductory preface, the three chums informed Mr. Pickwick,
in a breath, that money was in the Fleet, just what money was out of
it; that it would instantly procure him almost anything he desired; and
that, supposing he had it, and had no objection to spend it, if he only
signified his wish to have a room to himself he might take possession
of one, furnished and fitted to boot, in half an hour's time.

With this, the parties separated, very much to their common
satisfaction: Mr. Pickwick once more retracing his steps to the lodge:
and the three companions adjourned to the coffee-room, there to spend
the five shillings which the clerical gentleman had, with admirable
prudence and foresight, borrowed of him for the purpose.

"I knowed it!" said Mr. Roker, with a chuckle, when Mr. Pickwick stated
the object with which he had returned. "Didn't I say so, Neddy?"

The philosophical owner of the universal penknife growled an
affirmative.

"I knowed you'd want a room for yourself, bless you!" said Mr. Roker.
"Let me see. You'll want some furniture. You'll hire that of me, I
suppose? That's the reg'lar thing."

"With great pleasure," replied Mr. Pickwick.

"There's a capital room up in the coffee-room flight, that belongs to a
Chancery prisoner," said Mr. Roker. "It'll stand you in a pound a week.
I suppose you don't mind that?"

"Not at all," said Mr. Pickwick.

"Just step there with me," said Roker, taking up his hat with great
alacrity; "the matter's settled in five minutes. Lord! why didn't you
say at first that you was willing to come down handsome?"

The matter was soon arranged, as the turnkey had foretold. The Chancery
prisoner had been there long enough to have lost friends, fortune,
home, and happiness, and to have acquired the right of having a room
to himself. As he laboured, however, under the inconvenience of often
wanting a morsel of bread, he eagerly listened to Mr. Pickwick's
proposal to rent the apartment, and readily covenanted and agreed
to yield him up the sole and undisturbed possession thereof, in
consideration of the weekly payment of twenty shillings; from which
fund he furthermore contracted to pay out any person or persons that
might be chummed upon it.

As they struck the bargain, Mr. Pickwick surveyed him with a painful
interest. He was a tall, gaunt, cadaverous man, in an old great-coat
and slippers: with sunken cheeks, and a restless, eager eye. His lips
were bloodless, and his bones sharp and thin. God help him! the iron
teeth of confinement and privation had been slowly filing him down for
twenty years.

"And where will you live meanwhile, sir?" said Mr. Pickwick, as he laid
the amount of the first week's rent, in advance, on the tottering table.

The man gathered up the money with a trembling hand, and replied that
he didn't know yet; he must go and see where he could move his bed to.

"I am afraid, sir," said Mr. Pickwick, laying his hand gently and
compassionately on his arm; "I am afraid you will have to live in some
noisy crowded place. Now, pray, consider this room your own when you
want quiet, or when any of your friends come to see you."

"Friends!" interposed the man, in a voice which rattled in his throat.
"If I lay dead at the bottom of the deepest mine in the world; tight
screwed down and soldered in my coffin; rotting in the dark and filthy
ditch that drags its slime along, beneath the foundations of this
prison; I could not be more forgotten or unheeded than I am here. I
am a dead man; dead to society, without the pity they bestow on those
whose souls have passed to judgment. Friends to see _me_! My God! I
have sunk, from the prime of life into old age, in this place, and
there is not one to raise his hand above my bed when I lie dead upon
it, and say, 'It is a blessing he is gone!'"

The excitement, which had cast an unwonted light over the man's face
while he spoke, subsided as he concluded; and, pressing his withered
hands together in a hasty and disordered manner, he shuffled from the
room.

"Rides rather rusty," said Mr. Roker, with a smile. "Ah! they're like
the elephants. They feel it now and then, and it makes 'em wild!"

Having made this deeply sympathising remark, Mr. Roker entered upon
his arrangements with such expedition, that in a short time the room
was furnished with a carpet, six chairs, a table, a sofa bedstead, a
tea-kettle, and various small articles, on hire, at the very reasonable
rate of seven-and-twenty shillings and sixpence per week.

"Now, is there anything more we can do for you?" inquired Mr. Roker,
looking round with great satisfaction, and gaily chinking the first
week's hire in his closed fist.

"Why, yes," said Mr. Pickwick, who had been musing deeply for some
time. "Are there any people here, who run on errands, and so forth?"

"Outside, do you mean?" inquired Mr. Roker.

"Yes. I mean who are able to go outside. Not prisoners."

"Yes, there is," said Roker. "There's an unfortunate devil, who has got
a friend on the poor side, that's glad to do anything of that sort.
He's been running odd jobs, and that, for the last two months. Shall I
send him?"

"If you please," rejoined Mr. Pickwick. "Stay; no. The poor side, you
say? I should like to see it. I'll go to him myself."

The poor side of a debtor's prison is, as its name imports, that in
which the most miserable and abject class of debtors are confined. A
prisoner having declared upon the poor side, pays neither rent nor
chummage. His fees, upon entering and leaving the gaol, are reduced in
amount, and he becomes entitled to a share of some small quantities of
food: to provide which, a few charitable persons have, from time to
time, left trifling legacies in their wills. Most of our readers will
remember that, until within a very few years past, there was a kind of
iron cage in the wall of the Fleet Prison, within which was posted some
man of hungry looks, who, from time to time, rattled a money-box, and
exclaimed in a mournful voice, "Pray, remember the poor debtors; pray,
remember the poor debtors." The receipts of this box, when there were
any, were divided among the poor prisoners; and the men on the poor
side relieved each other in this degrading office.

Although this custom has been abolished, and the cage is now boarded
up, the miserable and destitute condition of these unhappy persons
remains the same. We no longer suffer them to appeal at the prison
gates to the charity and compassion of the passers-by; but we still
leave unblotted in the leaves of our statute book, for the reverence
and admiration of succeeding ages, that just and wholesome law which
declares that the sturdy felon shall be fed and clothed, and that the
penniless debtor shall be left to die of starvation and nakedness.
This is no fiction. Not a week passes over our heads, but, in every
one of our prisons for debt, some of these men must inevitably expire
in the slow agonies of want, if they were not relieved by their
fellow-prisoners.

Turning these things in his mind, as he mounted the narrow staircase
at the foot of which Roker had left him, Mr. Pickwick gradually worked
himself to the boiling-over point; and so excited was he with his
reflections on this subject, that he had burst into the room to which
he had been directed, before he had any distinct recollection, either
of the place in which he was, or of the object of his visit.

The general aspect of the room recalled him to himself at once; but he
had no sooner cast his eyes on the figure of a man who was brooding
over the dusty fire, than, letting his hat fall on the floor, he stood
perfectly fixed, and immovable, with astonishment.

Yes; in tattered garments, and without a coat; his common calico shirt
yellow and in rags; his hair hanging over his face; his features
changed with suffering, and pinched with famine; there sat Mr. Alfred
Jingle: his head resting on his hand, his eyes fixed upon the fire, and
his whole appearance denoting misery and dejection!

Near him, leaning listlessly against the wall, stood a strong-built
countryman, flicking with a worn-out hunting-whip the top-boot that
adorned his right foot: his left being (for he dressed by easy stages)
thrust into an old slipper. Horses, dogs, and drink, had brought him
there pell-mell. There was a rusty spur on the solitary boot, which
he occasionally jerked into the empty air, at the same time giving
the boot a smart blow, and muttering some of the sounds by which a
sportsman encourages his horse. He was riding, in imagination, some
desperate steeplechase at that moment. Poor wretch! He never rode a
match on the swiftest animal in his costly stud, with half the speed at
which he had torn along the course that ended in the Fleet.

On the opposite side of the room an old man was seated on a small
wooden box, with his eyes riveted on the floor, and his face settled
into an expression of the deepest and most hopeless despair. A young
girl--his little granddaughter--was hanging about him: endeavouring,
with a thousand childish devices, to engage his attention; but the old
man neither saw nor heard her. The voice that had been music to him,
and the eyes that had been light, fell coldly on his senses. His limbs
were shaking with disease, and the palsy had fastened on his mind.

There were two or three other men in the room, congregated in a little
knot, and noisily talking among themselves. There was a lean and
haggard woman, too--a prisoner's wife--who was watering, with great
solicitude, the wretched stump of a dried-up, withered plant, which, it
was plain to see, could never send forth a green leaf again: too true
an emblem, perhaps, of the office she had come there to discharge.

Such were the objects which presented themselves to Mr. Pickwick's
view, as he looked round him in amazement. The noise of some one
stumbling hastily into the room, roused him. Turning his eyes towards
the door, they encountered the new comer; and in him, through his rags
and dirt, he recognised the familiar features of Mr. Job Trotter.

"Mr. Pickwick!" exclaimed Job aloud.

"Eh?" said Jingle, starting from his seat. "Mr.----! So it is--queer
place--strange thing--serves me right--very." Mr. Jingle thrust his
hands into the place where his trousers pockets used to be, and,
dropping his chin upon his breast, sank back into his chair.

Mr. Pickwick was affected; the two men looked so very miserable. The
sharp involuntary glance Jingle had cast at a small piece of raw loin
of mutton, which Job had brought in with him, said more of their
reduced state than two hours' explanation could have done. Mr. Pickwick
looked mildly at Jingle, and said:

"I should like to speak to you in private. Will you step out for an
instant?"

"Certainly," said Jingle, rising hastily. "Can't step far--no danger
of over-walking yourself here--Spike park--grounds pretty--romantic,
but not extensive--open for public inspection--family always in
town--housekeeper desperately careful--very."

"You have forgotten your coat," said Mr. Pickwick, as they walked out
to the staircase, and closed the door after them.

"Eh?" said Jingle. "Spout--dear relation--Uncle Tom--couldn't help
it--must eat, you know. Wants of nature--and all that."

"What do you mean?"

"Gone, my dear sir--last coat--can't help it. Lived on
a pair of boots--whole fortnight. Silk umbrella--ivory
handle--week--fact--honour--ask Job--knows it."

"Lived for three weeks upon a pair of boots, and a silk umbrella with
an ivory handle!" exclaimed Mr. Pickwick, who had only heard of such
things in shipwrecks, or read of them in _Constable's Miscellany_.

"True," said Jingle, nodding his head. "Pawnbroker's shop--duplicates
here--small sums--mere nothing--all rascals."

"Oh," said Mr. Pickwick, much relieved by this explanation; "I
understand you. You have pawned your wardrobe."

"Everything--Job's too--all shirts gone--never mind--saves washing.
Nothing soon--lie in bed--starve--die--Inquest--little bone-house--poor
prisoner--common necessaries--hush it up--gentlemen of the
jury--warden's tradesmen--keep it snug--natural death--coroner's
order--workhouse funeral--serve him right--all over--drop the curtain."

Jingle delivered this singular summary of his prospects in life, with
his accustomed volubility, and with various twitches of the countenance
to counterfeit smiles. Mr. Pickwick easily perceived that his
recklessness was assumed, and looking him full, but not unkindly in the
face, saw that his eyes were moist with tears.

"Good fellow," said Jingle, pressing his hand, and turning his
head away. "Ungrateful dog--boyish to cry--can't help it--bad
fever--weak--ill--hungry. Deserved it all--but suffered much--very."
Wholly unable to keep up appearances any longer, and perhaps rendered
worse by the effort he had made, the dejected stroller sat down on the
stairs, and, covering his face with his hands, sobbed like a child.

"Come, come," said Mr. Pickwick, with considerable emotion, "we'll see
what can be done, when I know all about the matter. Here, Job; where is
that fellow?"

"Here, sir," replied Job, presenting himself on the staircase. We have
described him, by-the-bye, as having deeply sunken eyes, in the best
of times. In his present state of want and distress, he looked as if
those features had gone out of town altogether.

"Here, sir," cried Job.

"Come here, sir," said Mr. Pickwick, trying to look stern, with four
large tears running down his waistcoat. "Take that, sir."

Take what? In the ordinary acceptation of such language, it should have
been a blow. As the world runs, it ought to have been a sound, hearty
cuff; for Mr. Pickwick had been duped, deceived, and wronged by the
destitute outcast who was now wholly in his power. Must we tell the
truth? It was something from Mr. Pickwick's waistcoat-pocket, which
chinked as it was given into Job's hand, and the giving of which,
somehow or other, imparted a sparkle to the eye, and a swelling to the
heart, of our excellent old friend, as he hurried away.

Sam had returned when Mr. Pickwick reached his own room, and was
inspecting the arrangements that had been made for his comfort, with
a kind of grim satisfaction which was very pleasant to look upon.
Having a decided objection to his master's being there at all, Mr.
Weller appeared to consider it a high moral duty not to appear too much
pleased with anything that was done, said, suggested, or proposed.

"Well, Sam?" said Mr. Pickwick.

"Well, sir?" replied Mr. Weller.

"Pretty comfortable now, eh, Sam?"

"Pretty vell, sir," responded Sam, looking round him in a disparaging
manner.

"Have you seen Mr. Tupman and our other friends?"

"Yes, I _have_ seen 'em, sir, and they're a comin' to-morrow, and wos
wery much surprised to hear they warn't to come to-day," replied Sam.

"You have brought the things I wanted?"

Mr. Weller in reply pointed to various packages which he had arranged,
as neatly as he could, in a corner of the room.

"Very well, Sam," said Mr. Pickwick, after a little hesitation; "listen
to what I am going to say, Sam."

"Cert'nly, sir," rejoined Mr. Weller, "fire away, sir."

"I have felt from the first, Sam," said Mr. Pickwick, with much
solemnity, "that this is not the place to bring a young man to."

"Nor an old 'un, neither, sir," observed Mr. Weller.

"You're quite right, Sam," said Mr. Pickwick; "but old men may come
here, through their own heedlessness and unsuspicion; and young men may
be brought here by the selfishness of those they serve. It is better
for those young men, in every point of view, that they should not
remain here. Do you understand me, Sam?"

"Vy no, sir, I do +NOT+," replied Mr. Weller, doggedly.

"Try, Sam," said Mr. Pickwick.

"Vell, sir," rejoined Sam, after a short pause, "I think I see your
drift; and if I do see your drift, it's my 'pinion that you're a
comin' it a great deal too strong, as the mail coachman said to the
snow-storm, ven it overtook him."

"I see you comprehend me, Sam," said Mr. Pickwick. "Independently of my
wish that you should not be idling about a place like this for years
to come, I feel that for a debtor in the Fleet to be attended by his
man-servant is a monstrous absurdity. Sam," said Mr. Pickwick, "for a
time, you must leave me."

"Oh, for a time, eh, sir?" rejoined Mr. Weller, rather sarcastically.

"Yes, for the time that I remain here," said Mr. Pickwick. "Your wages
I shall continue to pay. Any one of my three friends will be happy to
take you, were it only out of respect to me. And if I ever do leave
this place, Sam," added Mr. Pickwick, with assumed cheerfulness: "if I
do, I pledge you my word that you shall return to me instantly."

"Now I'll tell you wot it is, sir," said Mr. Weller, in a grave and
solemn voice, "this here sort o' thing won't do at all, so don't let's
hear no more about it."

"I am serious and resolved, Sam," said Mr. Pickwick.

"You air, air you, sir?" inquired Mr. Weller, firmly. "Wery good, sir.
Then so am I."

Thus speaking, Mr. Weller fixed his hat on his head with great
precision, and abruptly left the room.

"Sam!" cried Mr. Pickwick, calling after him, "Sam! Here!"

But the long gallery ceased to re-echo the sound of footsteps. Sam
Weller was gone.



CHAPTER XV

[Illustration]

  _Showing how Mr. Samuel Weller got into Difficulties_


In a lofty room, ill-lighted and worse ventilated, situated in Portugal
Street, Lincoln's Inn Fields, there sit nearly the whole year round,
one, two, three, or four gentlemen in wigs, as the case may be, with
little writing-desks before them, constructed after the fashion of
those used by the judges of the land, barring the French polish. There
is a box of barristers on their right hand; there is an enclosure of
insolvent debtors on their left; and there is an inclined plane of
most especially dirty faces in their front. These gentlemen are the
Commissioners of the Insolvent Court, and the place in which they sit
is the Insolvent Court itself.

It is, and has been, time out of mind, the remarkable fate of this
Court to be, somehow or other, held and understood by the general
consent of all the destitute shabby-genteel people in London, as
their common resort and place of refuge daily. It is always full. The
steams of beer and spirits perpetually ascend to the ceiling, and,
being condensed by the heat, roll down the walls like rain; there are
more old suits of clothes in it at one time than will be offered for
sale in all Houndsditch in a twelvemonth; more unwashed skins and
grizzly beards than all the pumps and shaving-shops between Tyburn and
Whitechapel could render decent, between sunrise and sunset.

It must not be supposed that any of these people have the least shadow
of business in, or the remotest connection with, the place they so
indefatigably attend. If they had, it would be no matter of surprise,
and the singularity of the thing would cease. Some of them sleep
during the greater part of the sitting; others carry small portable
dinners wrapped in pocket-handkerchiefs, or sticking out of their
worn-out pockets, and munch and listen with equal relish; but no one
among them was ever known to have the slightest personal interest in
any case that was ever brought forward. Whatever they do, there they
sit from the first moment to the last. When it is heavy rainy weather,
they all come in, wet through; and at such times the vapours of the
Court are like those of a fungus-pit.

A casual visitor might suppose this place to be a Temple dedicated to
the Genius of Seediness. There is not a messenger or process-server
attached to it, who wears a coat that was made for him; not a tolerably
fresh or wholesome-looking man in the whole establishment, except
a little white-headed, apple-faced tipstaff, and even he, like an
ill-conditioned cherry preserved in brandy, seems to have artificially
dried and withered up into a state of preservation to which he can lay
no natural claim. The very barristers' wigs are ill-powdered, and their
curls lack crispness.

But the attorneys, who sit at a large bare table below the
Commissioners, are, after all, the greatest curiosities. The
professional establishment of the more opulent of these gentlemen,
consists of a blue bag and a boy; generally a youth of the Jewish
persuasion. They have no fixed offices, their legal business being
transacted in the parlours of public-houses, or the yards of prisons:
whither they repair in crowds, and canvass for customers after the
manner of omnibus cads. They are of a greasy and mildewed appearance;
and if they can be said to have any vices at all, perhaps drinking and
cheating are the most conspicuous among them. Their residences are
usually on the outskirts of "the Rules," chiefly lying within a circle
of one mile from the obelisk in St. George's Fields. Their looks are
not prepossessing, and their manners are peculiar.

Mr. Solomon Pell, one of this learned body, was a fat, flabby, pale
man, in a surtout which looked green one minute and brown the next:
with a velvet collar of the same chameleon tints. His forehead was
narrow, his face wide, his head large, and his nose all on one side, as
if Nature, indignant with the propensities she observed in him at his
birth, had given it an angry tweak which it had never recovered. Being
short-necked and asthmatic, however, he respired principally through
this feature; so, perhaps, what it wanted in ornament, it made up in
usefulness.

"I'm sure to bring him through it," said Mr. Pell.

"Are you though?" replied the person to whom the assurance was pledged.

"Certain sure," replied Pell; "but if he'd gone to any irregular
practitioner, mind you, I wouldn't have answered for the consequences."

"Ah!" said the other, with open mouth.

"No, that I wouldn't," said Mr. Pell; and he pursed up his lips,
frowned, and shook his head mysteriously.

Now, the place where this discourse occurred, was the public-house just
opposite to the Insolvent Court: and the person with whom it was held,
was no other than the elder Mr. Weller, who had come there to comfort
and console a friend, whose petition to be discharged under the Act
was to be that day heard, and whose attorney he was at that moment
consulting.

"And vere is George?" inquired the old gentleman.

Mr. Pell jerked his head in the direction of a back parlour: whither
Mr. Weller at once repairing, was immediately greeted in the warmest
and most flattering manner by some half-dozen of his professional
brethren, in token of their gratification at his arrival. The insolvent
gentleman, who had contracted a speculative but imprudent passion for
horsing long stages, which had led to his present embarrassments,
looked extremely well, and was soothing the excitement of his feelings
with shrimps and porter.

The salutation between Mr. Weller and his friends was strictly confined
to the freemasonry of the craft; consisting of a jerking round of the
right wrist, and a tossing of the little finger into the air at the
same time. We once knew two famous coachmen (they are dead now, poor
fellows) who were twins, and between whom an unaffected and devoted
attachment existed. They passed each other on the Dover road, every
day, for twenty-four years, never exchanging any other greeting than
this; and yet, when one died, the other pined away, and soon afterwards
followed him!

"Vell, George," said Mr. Weller senior, taking off his upper coat, and
seating himself with his accustomed gravity, "how is it? All right
behind, and full inside?"

"All right, old feller," replied the embarrassed gentleman.

"Is the grey mare made over to anybody?" inquired Mr. Weller, anxiously.

George nodded in the affirmative.

"Vell, that's all right," said Mr. Weller. "Coach taken care on also?"

"Con-signed in a safe quarter," replied George, wringing the heads off
half a dozen shrimps, and swallowing them without any more ado.

"Wery good, wery good," said Mr. Weller. "Alvays see to the drag ven
you go down hill. Is the vay-bill all clear and straight for'erd?"

"The schedule, sir," said Pell, guessing at Mr. Weller's meaning, "the
schedule is as plain and satisfactory as pen and ink can make it."

Mr. Weller nodded in a manner which bespoke his inward approval of
these arrangements; and then, turning to Mr. Pell, said, pointing to
his friend George:

"Ven do you take his cloths off?"

"Why," replied Mr. Pell, "he stands third on the opposed list, and I
should think it would be his turn in about half an hour. I told my
clerk to come over and tell us when there was a chance."

Mr. Weller surveyed the attorney from head to foot with great
admiration, and said emphatically:

"And what'll you take, sir?"

"Why, really," replied Mr. Pell, "you're very--. Upon my word and
honour, I'm not in the habit of--. It's so very early in the morning,
that, actually, I am almost--. Well, you may bring me three penn'orth
of rum, my dear."

The officiating damsel, who had anticipated the order before it was
given, set the glass of spirits before Pell, and retired.

"Gentlemen," said Mr. Pell, looking round upon the company, "success to
your friend! I don't like to boast, gentlemen; it's not my way; but I
can't help saying, that, if your friend hadn't been fortunate enough
to fall into the hands that--but I won't say what I was going to say.
Gentlemen, my service to you." Having emptied the glass in a twinkling,
Mr. Pell smacked his lips, and looked complacently round on the
assembled coachmen, who evidently regarded him as a species of divinity.

"Let me see," said the legal authority. "What was I a saying,
gentlemen?"

"I think you was remarkin' as you wouldn't have no objection to another
o' the same, sir," said Mr. Weller, with grave facetiousness.

"Ha ha!" laughed Mr. Pell. "Not bad, not bad. A professional man, too!
At this time of the morning, it would be rather too good a--. Well, I
don't know, my dear--you _may_ do that again, if you please. Hem!"

This last sound was a solemn and dignified cough, in which Mr. Pell,
observing an indecent tendency to mirth in some of his auditors,
considered it due to himself to indulge.

"The late Lord Chancellor, gentlemen, was very fond of me," said Mr.
Pell.

"And wery creditable in him, too," interposed Mr. Weller.

"Hear, hear," assented Mr. Pell's client. "Why shouldn't he be?"

"Ah! Why, indeed!" said a very red-faced man, who had said nothing yet,
and who looked extremely unlikely to say anything more. "Why shouldn't
he?"

A murmur of assent ran through the company.

"I remember, gentlemen," said Pell, "dining with him on one
occasion;--there was only us two, but everything as splendid as if
twenty people had been expected--the great seal on a dumb-waiter at
his right hand, and a man in a bag-wig and suit of armour guarding the
mace with a drawn sword and silk stockings--which is perpetually done,
gentlemen, night and day, when he said, 'Pell,' he said, 'no false
delicacy, Pell. You're a man of talent; you can get anybody through the
Insolvent Court, Pell; and your country should be proud of you.' Those
were his very words. 'My Lord,' I said, 'you flatter me.' 'Pell,' he
said, 'if I do, I'm damned.'"

"Did he say that?" inquired Mr. Weller.

"He did," replied Pell.

"Vell, then," said Mr. Weller, "I say Parliament ought to ha' took it
up; and if he'd been a poor man, they _would_ ha' done it."

"But, my dear friend," argued Mr. Pell, "it was in confidence."

"In what?" said Mr. Weller.

"In confidence,"

"Oh! wery good," replied Mr. Weller, after a little reflection. "If he
damned his-self in confidence, o' course that was another thing."

"Of course it was," said Mr. Pell. "The distinction's obvious, you will
perceive."

"Alters the case entirely," said Mr. Weller. "Go on, sir."

"No, I will not go on, sir," said Mr. Pell, in a low and serious tone.
"You have reminded me, sir, that this conversation was private--private
and confidential, gentlemen. Gentlemen, I am a professional man. It
may be that I am a good deal looked up to in my profession--it may
be that I am not. Most people know. I say nothing. Observations have
already been made, in this room, injurious to the reputation of my
noble friend. You will excuse me, gentlemen; I was imprudent. I feel
that I have no right to mention this matter without his concurrence.
Thank you, sir, thank you." Thus delivering himself, Mr. Pell thrust
his hands into his pockets, and, frowning grimly around, rattled three
halfpence with terrible determination.

This virtuous resolution had scarcely been formed, when the boy and
the blue bag, who were inseparable companions, rushed violently into
the room, and said (at least the boy did, for the blue bag took no
part in the announcement) that the case was coming on directly. The
intelligence was no sooner received than the whole party hurried across
the street, and began to fight their way into Court--a preparatory
ceremony, which has been calculated to occupy, in ordinary cases, from
twenty-five minutes to thirty.

Mr. Weller, being stout, cast himself at once into the crowd, with the
desperate hope of ultimately turning up in some place which would suit
him. His success was not quite equal to his expectations; for having
neglected to take his hat off, it was knocked over his eyes by some
unseen person, upon whose toes he had alighted with considerable force.
Apparently, this individual regretted his impetuosity immediately
afterwards; for, muttering an indistinct exclamation of surprise, he
dragged the old man out into the hall, and, after a violent struggle,
released his head and face.

[Illustration: _After a violent struggle, released his head and face_]

"Samivel!" exclaimed Mr. Weller, when he was thus enabled to behold his
rescuer.

Sam nodded.

"You're a dutiful and affectionate little boy, you are, ain't you?"
said Mr. Weller, "to come a bonnetin' your father in his old age?"

"How should I know who you wos?" responded the son. "Do you s'pose I
wos to tell you by the weight o' your foot?"

"Vell, that's wery true, Sammy," replied Mr. Weller, mollified at once;
"but wot are you a doin' on here? Your gov'ner can't do no good here,
Sammy. They won't pass that werdick, they won't pass it, Sammy." And
Mr. Weller shook his head, with legal solemnity.

"Wot a perwerse old file it is!" exclaimed Sam, "alvays a goin' on
about werdicks and alleybis, and that. Who said anything about the
werdick?"

Mr. Weller made no reply, but once more shook his head most learnedly.

"Leave off rattlin' that 'ere nob o' yourn, if you don't want it to
come off the springs altogether," said Sam, impatiently, "and behave
reasonable. I vent all the vay down to the Markis o' Granby, arter you,
last night."

"Did you see the Marchioness o' Granby, Sammy?" inquired Mr. Weller,
with a sigh.

"Yes, I did," replied Sam.

"How wos the dear creetur a lookin'?"

"Wery queer," said Sam. "I think she's a injurin' herself gradivally
vith too much o' that 'ere pine-apple rum, and other strong medicines
o' the same natur."

"You don't mean that, Sammy?" said the senior, earnestly.

"I do, indeed," replied the junior. Mr. Weller seized his son's hand,
clasped it, and let it fall. There was an expression on his countenance
in doing so--not of dismay or apprehension, but partaking more of the
sweet and gentle character of hope. A gleam of resignation, and even
of cheerfulness, passed over his face too, as he slowly said, "I ain't
quite certain, Sammy; I wouldn't like to say I wos altogether positive,
in case of any subsekent disappintment, but I rayther think, my boy, I
rayther think, that the shepherd's got the liver complaint!"

"Does he look bad?" inquired Sam.

"He's uncommon pale," replied his father, "'cept about the nose,
which is redder than ever. His appetite is wery so-so, but he imbibes
wunderful."

Some thoughts of the rum appeared to obtrude themselves on Mr. Weller's
mind, as he said this; for he looked gloomy and thoughtful; but he very
shortly recovered, as was testified by a perfect alphabet of winks, in
which he was only wont to indulge when particularly pleased.

"Vell now," said Sam, "about my affair. Just open them ears o' yourn,
and don't say nothin' till I've done." With this brief preface, Sam
related, as succinctly as he could, the last memorable conversation he
had had with Mr. Pickwick.

"Stop there by himself, poor creetur!" exclaimed the elder Mr. Weller,
"without nobody to take his part! It can't be done, Samivel, it can't
be done."

"O' course it can't," asserted Sam; "I know'd that, afore I came."

"Wy, they'll eat him up alive, Sammy," exclaimed Mr. Weller. Sam nodded
his concurrence in the opinion.

"He goes in rayther raw, Sammy," said Mr. Weller, metaphorically,
"and he'll come out, done so ex-ceedin' brown, that his most familiar
friends won't know him. Roast pigeon's nothin' to it, Sammy."

Again Sam Weller nodded.

"It oughtn't to be, Samivel," said Mr. Weller, gravely.

"It mustn't be," said Sam.

"Cert'nly not," said Mr. Weller.

"Vell now," said Sam, "you've been a prophesyin' away, wery fine, like
a red-faced Nixon as the sixpenny books gives picters on."

"Who wos he, Sammy?" inquired Mr. Weller.

"Never mind who he was," retorted Sam; "he warn't a coachman; that's
enough for you."

"I know'd a ostler o' that name," said Mr. Weller, musing.

"It warn't him," said Sam. "This here gen'l'm'n was a prophet."

"Wot's a prophet?" inquired Mr. Weller, looking sternly on his son.

"Wy, a man as tells what's a goin' to happen," replied Sam.

"I wish I'd know'd him, Sammy," said Mr. Weller. "P'raps he might ha'
throw'd a small light on that 'ere liver complaint as we wos a speakin'
on, just now. Hows'ever, if he's dead, and ain't left the bisness to
nobody, there's an end on it. Go on, Sammy," said Mr. Weller, with a
sigh.

"Well," said Sam, "you've been a prophesyin' avay, about wot'll happen
to the gov'nor if he's left alone. Don't you see any vay o' takin' care
on him?"

"No, I don't, Sammy," said Mr. Weller, with a reflective visage.

"No vay at all?" inquired Sam.

"No vay," said Mr. Weller, "unless"--and a gleam of intelligence
lighted up his countenance as he sunk his voice to a whisper, and
applied his mouth to the ear of his offspring--"unless it is getting
him out in a turn-up bedstead, unbeknown to the turnkeys, Sammy, or
dressin' him up like a old 'ooman vith a green wail."

Sam Weller received both of these suggestions with unexpected contempt,
and again propounded his question.

"No," said the old gentleman; "if he von't let you stop there I see no
vay at all. It's no thoroughfare, Sammy, no thoroughfare."

"Well, then, I'll tell you wot it is," said Sam, "I'll trouble you for
the loan of five-and-twenty pound."

"What good 'ull that do?" inquired Mr. Weller.

"Never mind," replied Sam. "P'raps you may ask for it, five minits
artervards; p'raps I may say I von't pay, and cut up rough. You von't
think o' arrestin' your own son for the money, and sendin' him off to
the Fleet, will you, you unnat'ral wagabone?"

At this reply of Sam's the father and son exchanged a complete code of
telegraphic nods and gestures, after which, the elder Mr. Weller sat
himself down on a stone step, and laughed till he was purple.

"Wot a old image it is!" exclaimed Sam, indignant at this loss of time.
"What are you a settin' down there for, conwertin' your face into
a street-door knocker, ven there's so much to be done? Where's the
money?"

"In the boot, Sammy, in the boot," replied Mr. Weller, composing his
features. "Hold my hat, Sammy."

Having divested himself of this incumbrance, Mr. Weller gave his body
a sudden wrench to one side, and, by a dexterous twist, contrived to
get his right hand into a most capacious pocket, from whence, after a
great deal of panting and exertion, he extricated a pocket-book of the
large octavo size, fastened by a huge leathern strap. From this ledger
he drew forth a couple of whip-lashes, three or four buckles, a little
sample-bag of corn, and finally a small roll of very dirty bank-notes:
from which he selected the required amount, which he handed over to Sam.

"And now, Sammy," said the old gentleman, when the whip-lashes and the
buckles, and the samples, had been all put back, and the book once
more deposited at the bottom of the same pocket, "now, Sammy, I know a
gen'l'm'n here, as'll do the rest o' the bisness for us, in no time--a
limb o' the law, Sammy, as has got brains like the frogs, dispersed all
over his body, and reachin' to the wery tips of his fingers; a friend
of the Lord Chancellorship's, Sammy, who'd only have to tell him what
he wanted, and he'd lock you up for life, if that wos all."

"I say," said Sam, "none o' that."

"None o' wot?" inquired Mr. Weller.

"Wy, none o' them unconstitootional ways o' doing it," retorted
Sam. "The have-his-carcase, next to the perpetual motion, is vun of
the blessedest things as wos ever made. I've read that 'ere in the
newspapers, wery of'en."

"Well, wot's that got to do vith it?" inquired Mr. Weller.

"Just this here," said Sam, "that I'll patronise the inwention, and go
in, that vay. No visperin's to the Chancellorship, I don't like the
notion. It mayn't be altogether safe, vith reference to gettin' out
agin."

Deferring to his son's feeling upon this point, Mr. Weller at once
sought the erudite Solomon Pell, and acquainted him with his desire to
issue a writ, instantly, for the sum of twenty-five pounds, and costs
of process; to be executed without delay upon the body of one Samuel
Weller; the charges thereby incurred to be paid in advance to Solomon
Pell.

The attorney was in high glee, for the embarrassed coach-horser was
ordered to be discharged forthwith. He highly approved of Sam's
attachment to his master; declared that it strongly reminded him of
his own feelings of devotion to his friend the Chancellor; and at once
led the elder Mr. Weller down to the Temple, to swear the affidavit of
debt, which the boy, with the assistance of the blue bag, had drawn up
on the spot.

Meanwhile, Sam, having been formally introduced to the white-washed
gentleman and his friends, as the offspring of Mr. Weller, of the Belle
Savage, was treated with marked distinction, and invited to regale
himself with them in honour of the occasion; an invitation which he was
by no means backward in accepting.

The mirth of gentlemen of this class is of a grave and quiet character,
usually; but the present instance was one of peculiar festivity, and
they relaxed in proportion. After some rather tumultuous toasting of
the Chief Commissioner and Mr. Solomon Pell, who had that day displayed
such transcendent abilities, a mottled-faced gentleman in a blue shawl
proposed that somebody should sing a song. The obvious suggestion was,
that the mottled-faced gentleman, being anxious for a song, should sing
it himself; but this the mottled-faced gentleman sturdily, and somewhat
offensively, declined to do. Upon which, as is not unusual in such
cases, a rather angry colloquy ensued.

"Gentlemen," said the coach-horser, "rather than disturb the harmony
of this delightful occasion, perhaps Mr. Samuel Weller will oblige the
company."

"Raly, gentlemen," said Sam, "I'm not wery much in the habit o' singin'
without the instrument: but anythin' for a quiet life, as the man said
when he took the sitivation at the light-house."

With this prelude, Mr. Samuel Weller burst at once into the following
wild and beautiful legend, which, under the impression that it is not
generally known, we take the liberty of quoting. We would beg to call
particular attention to the monosyllable at the end of the second and
fourth lines, which not only enables the singer to take breath at those
points, but greatly assists the metre.


ROMANCE

    I

    Bold Turpin vunce, on Hounslow Heath,
    His bold mare Bess bestrode--er;
    Ven there he see'd the Bishop's coach
    A-coming along the road--er;
    So he gallops close to the 'orses' legs,
    And he claps his head vithin;
    And the Bishop says, "Sure as eggs is eggs,
    This here's the bold Turpin!"

    +Chorus+

    And the Bishop says, "Sure as eggs is eggs,
    This here's the bold Turpin!"

    II

    Says Turpin, "You shall eat your words,
    With a sarse of leaden bul-let;"
    So he puts a pistol to his mouth,
    And he fires it down his gullet.
    The coachman he not likin' the job,
    Set off at a full gal-lop,
    But Dick put a couple of balls in his nob,
    And perwailed on him to stop.

    +Chorus+ (_sarcastically_)

    But Dick put a couple of balls in his nob,
    And perwailed on him to stop.

"I maintain that that 'ere song's personal to the cloth," said the
mottled-faced gentleman, interrupting it at this point. "I demand the
name o' that coachman."

"Nobody know'd," replied Sam. "He hadn't got his card in his pocket."

"I object to the introduction o' politics," said the mottled-faced
gentleman. "I submit that, in the present company, that 'ere song's
political; and, wot's much the same, that it ain't true. I say that
that coachman did _not_ run away; but that he died game--game as
pheasants; and I won't hear nothin' said to the contrairey."

As the mottled-faced gentleman spoke with great energy and
determination: and as the opinions of the company seemed divided on
the subject: it threatened to give rise to fresh altercation, when Mr.
Weller and Mr. Pell most opportunely arrived.

"All right, Sammy," said Mr. Weller.

"The officer will be here at four o'clock," said Mr. Pell. "I suppose
you won't run away meanwhile, eh? Ha! ha!"

"P'raps my cruel pa 'ull relent afore then," replied Sam, with a broad
grin.

"Not I," said the elder Mr. Weller.

"Do," said Sam.

"Not on no account," replied the inexorable creditor.

"I'll give bills for the amount, at sixpence a month," said Sam.

"I won't take 'em," said Mr. Weller.

"Ha, ha, ha! very good, very good," said Mr. Solomon Pell, who was
making out his little bill of costs; "a very amusing incident indeed!
Benjamin, copy that." And Mr. Pell smiled again, as he called Mr.
Weller's attention to the amount.

"Thank you, thank you," said the professional gentleman, taking up
another of the greasy notes as Mr. Weller took it from the pocket-book.
"Three ten and one ten is five. Much obliged to you, Mr. Weller. Your
son is a most deserving young man, very much so indeed, sir. It's a
very pleasant trait in a young man's character, very much so," added
Mr. Pell, smiling smoothly round, as he buttoned up the money.

"Wot a game it is!" said the elder Mr. Weller, with a chuckle. "A
reg'lar prodigy son!"

"Prodigal, prodigal son, sir," suggested Mr. Pell, mildly.

"Never mind, sir," said Mr. Weller, with dignity. "I know wot's
o'clock, sir. Ven I don't, I'll ask you, sir."

By the time the officer arrived, Sam had made himself so extremely
popular, that the congregated gentlemen determined to see him to prison
in a body. So, off they set; the plaintiff and defendant walking
arm-in-arm; the officer in front; and eight stout coachmen bringing
up the rear. At Serjeant's Inn Coffee-house the whole party halted to
refresh, and, the legal arrangements being completed, the procession
moved on again.

Some little commotion was occasioned in Fleet Street, by the pleasantry
of the eight gentlemen in the flank, who persevered in walking four
abreast; it was also found necessary to leave the mottled-faced
gentleman behind, to fight a ticket-porter, it being arranged that
his friends should call for him as they came back. Nothing but these
little incidents occurred on the way. When they reached the gate of the
Fleet, the cavalcade, taking the time from the plaintiff, gave three
tremendous cheers for the defendant, and, after having shaken hands all
round, left him.

[Illustration: _The cavalcade gave three tremendous cheers._]

Sam, having been formally delivered into the warden's custody, to the
intense astonishment of Roker, and to the evident emotion of even the
phlegmatic Neddy, passed at once into the prison, walked straight to
his master's room, and knocked at the door.

"Come in," said Mr. Pickwick.

Sam appeared, pulled off his hat, and smiled.

"Ah, Sam, my good lad!" said Mr. Pickwick, evidently delighted to see
his humble friend again; "I had no intention of hurting your feelings
yesterday, my faithful fellow, by what I said. Put down your hat, Sam,
and let me explain my meaning, a little more at length."

"Won't presently do, sir?" inquired Sam.

"Certainly," said Mr. Pickwick; "but why not now?"

"I'd rayther not now, sir," rejoined Sam.

"Why?" inquired Mr. Pickwick.

"'Cause--" said Sam, hesitating.

"Because of what?" inquired Mr. Pickwick, alarmed at his follower's
manner. "Speak out, Sam."

"'Cause," rejoined Sam; "'cause I've got a little bisness as I want to
do."

"What business?" inquired Mr. Pickwick, surprised at Sam's confused
manner.

"Nothin' partickler, sir," replied Sam.

"Oh, if it's nothing particular," said Mr. Pickwick, with a smile, "you
can speak with me first."

"I think I'd better see arter it at once," said Sam, still hesitating.

Mr. Pickwick looked amazed, but said nothing.

"The fact is," said Sam, stopping short.

"Well!" said Mr. Pickwick. "Speak out, Sam."

"Why, the fact is," said Sam, with a desperate effort, "p'raps I'd
better see arter my bed afore I do anythin' else."

"_Your bed!_" exclaimed Mr. Pickwick, in astonishment.

"Yes, my bed, sir," replied Sam. "I'm a pris'ner. I was arrested, this
here wery arternoon, for debt."

"You arrested for debt!" exclaimed Mr. Pickwick, sinking into a chair.

"Yes, for debt, sir," replied Sam. "And the man as puts me in, 'ull
never let me out, till you go yourself."

"Bless my heart and soul!" ejaculated Mr. Pickwick. "What do you mean?"

"Wot I say, sir," rejoined Sam. "If it's forty year to come, I shall
be a prisoner, and I'm very glad on it, and if it had been Newgate, it
would ha' been just the same. Now the murder's out, and damme, there's
an end on it!"

With these words, which he repeated with great emphasis and violence,
Sam Weller dashed his hat upon the ground, in a most unusual state of
excitement; and then, folding his arms, looked firmly and fixedly in
his master's face.



CHAPTER XVI

[Illustration]

  _Treats of divers little Matters which occurred in the Fleet, and
    of Mr. Winkle's Mysterious Behaviour; and shows how the poor
    Chancery Prisoner obtained his Release at last_


Mr. Pickwick felt a great deal too much touched by the warmth of
Sam's attachment, to be able to exhibit any manifestation of anger or
displeasure at the precipitate course he had adopted, in voluntarily
consigning himself to a debtor's prison, for an indefinite period.
The only point on which he persevered in demanding any explanation,
was, the name of Sam's detaining creditor; but this Mr. Weller as
perseveringly withheld.

"It ain't o' no use, sir," said Sam, again and again. "He's a
ma-licious, bad-disposed, vorldly-minded, spiteful, windictive creetur,
with a hard heart as there ain't no soft'nin'. As the wirtuous
clergyman remarked of the old gen'l'm'n with the dropsy, ven he said
that upon the whole he thought he'd rayther leave his property to his
vife than build a chapel vith it."

"But consider, Sam," Mr. Pickwick remonstrated, "the sum is so small
that it can very easily be paid; and having made up my mind that you
shall stop with me, you should recollect how much more useful you would
be, if you could go outside the walls."

"Wery much obliged to you, sir," replied Mr. Weller gravely; "but I'd
rayther not."

"Rather not do what, Sam?"

"Wy, I'd rayther not let myself down to ask a favour o' this here
unremorseful enemy."

"But it is no favour asking him to take his money, Sam," reasoned Mr.
Pickwick.

"Beg your pardon, sir," rejoined Sam; "but it 'ud be a wery great
favour to pay it, and he don't deserve none; that's where it is, sir."

Here Mr. Pickwick, rubbing his nose with an air of some vexation, Mr.
Weller thought it prudent to change the theme of the discourse.

"I takes my determination on principle, sir," remarked Sam, "and you
takes yours on the same ground; vich puts me in mind o' the man as
killed his-self on principle, vich o' course you've heerd on, sir." Mr.
Weller paused when he arrived at this point, and cast a comical look at
his master out of the corners of his eyes.

"There is no 'of course' in the case, Sam," said Mr. Pickwick,
gradually breaking into a smile in spite of the uneasiness which Sam's
obstinacy had given him. "The fame of the gentleman in question never
reached my ears."

"No, sir!" exclaimed Mr. Weller. "You astonish me, sir; he wos a clerk
in a Gov'ment office, sir."

"Was he?" said Mr. Pickwick.

"Yes, he wos, sir," rejoined Mr. Weller; "and a wery pleasant gen'l'm'n
too--one o' the precise and tidy sort, as puts their feet in little
india-rubber fire-buckets ven it's vet weather, and never has no other
bosom friends but hare-skins; he saved up his money on principle,
wore a clean shirt ev'ry day on principle; never spoke to none of his
relations on principle, 'fear they shou'd want to borrow money of him;
and wos altogether, in fact, an uncommon agreeable character. He had
his hair cut on principle vunce a fortnight, and contracted for his
clothes on the economic principle--three suits a year, and send back
the old uns. Being a wery reg'lar gen'l'm'n, he din'd ev'ry day at
the same place, were it wos one and nine to cut off the joint, and a
wery good one and nine's worth he used to cut, as the landlord often
said, with the tears a tricklin' down his face: let alone the way he
used to poke the fire in the vinter time, which wos a dead loss o'
fourpence ha'penny a day: to say nothin' at all o' the aggrawation
o' seein' him do it. So uncommon grand with it too! '_Post_ arter
the next gen'l'm'n,' he sings out ev'ry day ven he comes in. 'See
arter the _Times_, Thomas; let me look at the _Mornin' Herald_, wen
it's out o' hand; don't forget to bespeak the _Chronicle_; and just
bring the _'Tizer_, vill you?' and then he'd set vith his eyes fixed
on the clock, and rush out, just a quarter of a minit afore the time,
to waylay the boy as wos a comin' in with the evenin' paper, vich
he'd read with such intense interest and persewerance as worked the
other customers up to the wery confines o' desperation and insanity,
'specially one i-rascible old gen'l'm'n as the vaiter wos always
obliged to keep a sharp eye on, at sich times, 'fear he should be
tempted to commit some rash act with the carving-knife. Vell, sir,
here he'd stop, occupyin' the best place for three hours, and never
takin' nothin' arter his dinner, but sleep, and then he'd go away to
a coffee-house a few streets off, and have a small pot of coffee and
four crumpets, arter wich he'd walk home to Kensington and go to bed.
One night he wos took very ill; sends for a doctor; doctor comes in a
green fly, with a kind o' Robinson Crusoe set o' steps, as he could let
down ven he got out, and pull up arter him ven he got in, to perwent
the necessity o' the coachman's gettin' down, and thereby undeceivin'
the public by lettin' em see that it wos only a livery coat as he'd
got on, and not the trousers to match. 'Wot's the matter?' said the
doctor. 'Wery ill,' says the patient. 'Wot have you been a eatin'
on?' says the doctor. 'Roast weal,' says the patient. 'Wot's the last
thing you dewoured?' says the doctor. 'Crumpets,' says the patient.
'That's it!' says the doctor. 'I'll send you a box of pills directly,
and don't you never take no more of 'em,' he says. 'No more o' wot?'
says the patient--'Pills?' 'No; crumpets,' says the doctor. 'Wy?' says
the patient, starting up in bed; 'I've eat four crumpets ev'ry night
for fifteen year, on principle.' 'Well then, you'd better leave 'em
off, on principle,' says the doctor. 'Crumpets is wholesome, sir,'
says the patient. 'Crumpets is _not_ wholesome, sir,' says the doctor,
wery fierce. 'But they're so cheap,' says the patient, comin' down a
little, 'and so wery fillin' at the price.' 'They'd be dear to you, at
any price; dear if you wos paid to eat 'em,' says the doctor. 'Four
crumpets a night,' he says, 'vill do your business in six months!'
The patient looks him full in the face, and turns it over in his mind
for a long time, and at last he says, 'Are you sure o' that 'ere,
sir?' 'I'll stake my professional reputation on it,' says the doctor.
'How many crumpets, at a sittin', do you think, 'ud kill me off at
once?' says the patient. 'I don't know,' says the doctor. 'Do you
think half-a-crown's vurth 'ud do it?' says the patient. 'I think it
might,' says the doctor. 'Three shillin's vurth 'ud be sure to do it, I
s'pose?' says the patient. 'Certainly,' says the doctor. 'Wery good,'
says the patient; 'good night.' Next mornin' he gets up, has a fire
lit, orders in three shillin's vurth o' crumpets, toasts 'em all, eats'
em all, and blows his brains out."

"What did he do that for?" inquired Mr. Pickwick, abruptly, for he was
considerably startled by this tragical termination of the narrative.

"Wot did he do it for, sir?" reiterated Sam. "Vy, in support of his
great principle that crumpets wos wholesome, and to show that he
wouldn't be put out of his way for nobody!"

With such like shiftings and changings of the discourse, did Mr.
Weller meet his master's questioning on the night of his taking up his
residence in the Fleet. Finding all gentle remonstrance useless, Mr.
Pickwick at length yielded a reluctant consent to his taking lodgings
by the week of a bald-headed cobbler, who rented a small slip-room in
one of the upper galleries. To this humble apartment Mr. Weller moved
a mattress and bedding which he hired of Mr. Roker; and by the time he
lay down upon it at night, was as much at home as if he had been bred
in the prison, and his whole family had vegetated therein for three
generations.

"Do you always smoke arter you goes to bed, old cock?" inquired Mr.
Weller of his landlord, when they had both retired for the night.

"Yes, I does, young bantam," replied the cobbler.

"Will you allow me to in-quire vy you make up your bed under that 'ere
deal table?" said Sam.

"'Cause I was always used to a four-poster afore I came here, and I
find the legs of the table answer just as well," replied the cobbler.

"You're a character, sir," said Sam.

"I haven't got anything of the kind belonging to me," rejoined the
cobbler, shaking his head; "and if you want to meet with a good one,
I'm afraid you'll find some difficulty in suiting yourself at this
register office."

The above short dialogue took place as Mr. Weller lay extended on his
mattress at one end of the room, and the cobbler on his, at the other;
the apartment being illumined by the light of a rush candle, and the
cobbler's pipe, which was glowing below the table, like a red-hot coal.
The conversation, brief as it was, predisposed Mr. Weller strongly in
his landlord's favour; and raising himself on his elbow he took a more
lengthened survey of his appearance than he had yet had either time or
inclination to make.

He was a sallow man--all cobblers are; and had a strong bristly
beard--all cobblers have. His face was a queer, good-tempered,
crooked-featured piece of workmanship, ornamented with a couple of eyes
that must have worn a very joyous expression at one time, for they
sparkled yet. The man was sixty, by years, and Heaven knows how old
by imprisonment, so that his having any look approaching to mirth or
contentment, was singular enough. He was a little man, and being half
doubled up as he lay in bed, looked about as long as he ought to have
been without his legs. He had a great red pipe in his mouth, and was
smoking, and staring at the rushlight, in a state of enviable placidity.

"Have you been here long?" inquired Sam, breaking the silence which had
lasted for some time.

"Twelve year," replied the cobbler, biting the end of his pipe as he
spoke.

"Contempt?" inquired Sam.

The cobbler nodded.

"Well then," said Sam, with some sternness, "wot do you persewere in
bein' obstinit for, vastin' your precious life away, in this here
magnified pound? Vy don't you give in, and tell the Chancellorship that
you're wery sorry for makin' his court contemptible, and you won't do
so no more?"

The cobbler put his pipe in the corner of his mouth, while he smiled,
and then brought it back to its old place again; but said nothing.

"Vy don't you?" said Sam, urging his question strenuously.

"Ah," said the cobbler, "you don't quite understand these matters. What
do you suppose ruined me, now?"

"Vy," said Sam, trimming the rushlight, "I s'pose the beginnin' wos,
that you got into debt, eh?"

"Never owed a farden," said the cobbler; "try again."

"Well, perhaps," said Sam, "you bought houses, vich is delicate English
for goin' mad: or took to buildin', which is a medical term for bein'
incurable."

The cobbler shook his had and said, "Try again."

"You didn't go to law, I hope?" said Sam, suspiciously.

"Never in my life," replied the cobbler. "The fact is, I was ruined by
having money left me."

"Come, come," said Sam, "that von't do. I wish some rich enemy 'ud try
to vork _my_ destruction in that 'ere vay. I'd let him."

"Oh, I dare say you don't believe it," said the cobbler, quietly
smoking his pipe. "I wouldn't if I was you; but it's true for all that."

"How wos it?" inquired Sam, half induced to believe the fact already,
by the look the cobbler gave him.

"Just this," replied the cobbler; "an old gentleman that I worked for,
down in the country, and a humble relation of whose I married--she's
dead, God bless her, and thank Him for it!--was seized with a fit and
went off."

"Where?" inquired Sam, who was growing sleepy after the numerous events
of the day.

"How should I know where he went?" said the cobbler, speaking through
his nose in an intense enjoyment of his pipe. "He went off dead."

"Oh, that indeed," said Sam. "Well?"

"Well," said the cobbler, "he left five thousand pound behind him."

"And wery gen-teel in him so to do," said Sam.

"One of which," continued the cobbler, "he left to me, 'cause I'd
married his relation, you see."

"Wery good," murmured Sam.

"And being surrounded by a great number of nieces and nevys, as was
always a quarrelling and fighting among themselves for the property, he
makes me his executor, and leaves the rest to me: in trust, to divide
it among 'em as the will prowided."

"Wot do you mean by leavin' it on trust?" inquired Sam, waking up a
little. "If it ain't ready money, where's the use on it?"

"It's a law term, that's all," said the cobbler.

"I don't think that," said Sam, shaking his head. "There's wery little
trust at that shop. Hows'ever, go on."

"Well," said the cobbler: "when I was going to take out a probate of
the will, the nieces and nevys, who was desperately disappointed at not
getting all the money, enters a caveat against it."

"What's that?" inquired Sam.

"A legal instrument, which is as much as to say, it's no go," replied
the cobbler.

"I see," said Sam, "a sort of brother-in-law o' the have-his-carcase.
Well?"

"But," continued the cobbler, "finding that they couldn't agree among
themselves, and consequently couldn't get up a case against the will,
they withdrew the caveat, and I paid all the legacies. I'd hardly done
it, when one nevy brings an action to set the will aside. The case
comes on some months afterwards afore a deaf old gentleman, in a back
room somewhere down by St. Paul's Churchyard; and arter four counsels
had taken a day apiece to bother him regularly, he takes a week or two
to consider, and read the evidence in six vollums, and then gives his
judgment that how the testator was not quite right in his head, and
I must pay all the money back again, and all the costs. I appealed;
the case came on before three or four very sleepy gentlemen, who had
heard it all before in the other court, where they're lawyers without
work; the only difference being, that there they're called doctors,
and in the other places delegates, if you understand that; and they
very dutifully confirmed the decision of the old gentleman below.
After that, we went into Chancery, where we are still, and where I
shall always be. My lawyers have had all my thousand pound long ago;
and what between the estate, as they call it, and the costs, I'm here
for ten thousand, and shall stop here, till I die, mending shoes. Some
gentlemen have talked of bringing it before parliament, and I dare say
would have done it, only they hadn't time to come to me, and I hadn't
power to go to them, and they got tired of my long letters, and dropped
the business. And this is God's truth, without one word of suppression
or exaggeration, as fifty people, both in this place and out of it,
very well know."

The cobbler paused to ascertain what effect his story had produced on
Sam; but finding that he had dropped asleep, knocked the ashes out of
his pipe, sighed, put it down, drew the bedclothes over his head, and
went to sleep too.

Mr. Pickwick was sitting at breakfast, alone, next morning (Sam being
busily engaged in the cobbler's room, polishing his master's shoes and
brushing the black gaiters) when there came a knock at the door, which,
before Mr. Pickwick could cry "Come in!" was followed by the appearance
of a head of hair and a cotton-velvet cap, both of which articles of
dress he had no difficulty in recognising as the personal property of
Mr. Smangle.

"How are you?" said that worthy, accompanying the inquiry with a
score or two of nods; "I say--do you expect anybody this morning?
Three men--devilish gentlemanly fellows--have been asking after you
down-stairs, and knocking at every door on the Hall flight; for which
they've been most infernally blown up by the collegians that had the
trouble of opening 'em."

"Dear me! How very foolish of them," said Mr. Pickwick, rising. "Yes;
I have no doubt they are some friends whom I rather expected to see
yesterday."

"Friends of yours!" exclaimed Smangle, seizing Mr. Pickwick by the
hand. "Say no more. Curse me, they're friends of mine from this minute,
and friends of Mivins's too. Infernal pleasant, gentlemanly dog,
Mivins, isn't he?" said Smangle, with great feeling.

"I know so little of the gentleman," said Mr. Pickwick, hesitating,
"that I----"

"I know you do," interposed Smangle, clasping Mr. Pickwick by the
shoulder. "You shall know him better. You'll be delighted with him.
That man, sir," said Smangle, with a solemn countenance, "has comic
powers that would do honour to Drury Lane Theatre."

"Has he indeed?" said Mr. Pickwick.

"Ah, by Jove he has!" replied Smangle. "Hear him come the four cats in
the wheelbarrow--four distinct cats, sir, I pledge you my honour. Now
you know that's infernal clever! Damme, you can't help liking a man,
when you see these traits about him. He's only one fault--that little
failing I mentioned to you, you know."

As Mr. Smangle shook his head in a confidential and sympathising
manner at this juncture, Mr. Pickwick felt that he was expected to say
something, so he said "Ah!" and looked restlessly at the door.

"Ah!" echoed Mr. Smangle, with a long-drawn sigh. "He's delightful
company, that man is, sir. I don't know better company anywhere; but
he has that one drawback. If the ghost of his grandfather, sir, was
to rise before him this minute, he'd ask him for the loan of his
acceptance on an eighteenpenny stamp."

"Dear me!" exclaimed Mr. Pickwick.

"Yes," added Mr. Smangle; "and if he'd the power of raising him again,
he would, in two months and three days from this time, to renew the
bill!"

"Those are very remarkable traits," said Mr. Pickwick; "but I'm afraid
that while we are talking here, my friends may be in a state of great
perplexity at not finding me."

"I'll show 'em the way," said Smangle, making for the door. "Good day.
I won't disturb you while they're here, you know. By-the-bye----"

As Mr. Smangle pronounced the last three words, he stopped suddenly,
re-closed the door which he had opened, and, walking softly back to Mr.
Pickwick, stepped close up to him on tip-toe, and said in a very soft
whisper:

"You couldn't make it convenient to lend me half-a-crown till the
latter end of next week, could you?"

Mr. Pickwick could scarcely forbear smiling, but managing to preserve
his gravity, he drew forth the coin, and placed it in Mr. Smangle's
palm; upon which that gentleman, with many nods and winks, implying
profound mystery, disappeared in quest of the three strangers, with
whom he presently returned; and having coughed thrice, and nodded as
many times, as an assurance to Mr. Pickwick that he would not forget
to pay, he shook hands all round, in an engaging manner, and at length
took himself off.

"My dear friends," said Mr. Pickwick, shaking hands alternately with
Mr. Tupman, Mr. Winkle, and Mr. Snodgrass, who were the three visitors
in question, "I am delighted to see you."

The triumvirate were much affected. Mr. Tupman shook his head
deploringly; Mr. Snodgrass drew forth his handkerchief with undisguised
emotion; and Mr. Winkle retired to the window, and sniffed aloud.

"Mornin', gen'l'm'n," said Sam, entering at the moment with the shoes
and gaiters. "Avay with melincholly, as the little boy said ven his
school-missis died. Velcome to the College, gen'l'm'n."

"This foolish fellow," said Mr. Pickwick, tapping Sam on the head as he
knelt down to button up his master's gaiters: "this foolish fellow has
got himself arrested in order to be near me."

"What!" exclaimed the three friends.

"Yes, gen'l'm'n," said Sam, "I'm a--stand steady, sir, if you
please--I'm a pris'ner, gen'l'm'n. Con-fined, as the lady said."

"A prisoner!" exclaimed Mr. Winkle, with unaccountable vehemence.

"Hallo, sir!" responded Sam, looking up. "Wot's the matter, sir?"

"I had hoped, Sam, that--nothing, nothing," said Mr. Winkle
precipitately.

There was something so very abrupt and unsettled in Mr. Winkle's
manner, that Mr. Pickwick involuntarily looked at his two friends for
an explanation.

"We don't know," said Mr. Tupman, answering this mute appeal aloud.
"He has been much excited for two days past and his whole demeanour
very unlike what it usually is. We feared there must be something the
matter, but he resolutely denies it."

"No, no," said Mr. Winkle, colouring beneath Mr. Pickwick's gaze;
"there is really nothing. I assure you there is nothing, my dear sir.
It will be necessary for me to leave town, for a short time, on private
business, and I had hoped to have prevailed upon you to allow Sam to
accompany me."

Mr. Pickwick looked more astonished than before.

"I think," faltered Mr. Winkle, "that Sam would have had no objection
to do so; but, of course, his being a prisoner here, renders it
impossible. So I must go alone."

As Mr. Winkle said these words, Mr. Pickwick felt, with some
astonishment, that Sam's fingers were trembling at the gaiters as if he
were rather surprised or startled. Sam looked up at Mr. Winkle, too,
when he had finished speaking; and though the glance they exchanged was
instantaneous, they seemed to understand each other.

"Do you know anything of this, Sam?" said Mr. Pickwick sharply.

"No, I don't, sir," replied Mr. Weller, beginning to button with
extraordinary assiduity.

"Are you sure, Sam?" said Mr. Pickwick.

"Vy, sir," responded Mr. Weller; "I'm sure so far, that I've never
heerd anythin' on the subject afore this moment. If I makes any guess
about it," added Sam, looking at Mr. Winkle, "I haven't got any right
to say what it is, 'fear it should be a wrong 'un."

"I have no right to make any further inquiry into the private affairs
of a friend, however intimate a friend," said Mr. Pickwick, after a
short silence; "at present let me merely say that I do not understand
this at all. There. We have had quite enough of the subject."

Thus expressing himself, Mr. Pickwick led the conversation to different
topics, and Mr. Winkle gradually appeared more at ease, though still
very far from being completely so. They had all so much to converse
about, that the morning very quickly passed away; and when, at three
o'clock, Mr. Weller produced upon the little dining-table a roast leg
of mutton and an enormous meat pie, with sundry dishes of vegetables,
and pots of porter, which stood upon the chairs or the sofa-bedstead,
or where they could, everybody felt disposed to do justice to the meal,
notwithstanding that the meat had been purchased, and dressed, and the
pie made, and baked, at the prison cookery hard by.

To these succeeded a bottle or two of very good wine, for which a
messenger was despatched by Mr. Pickwick to the Horn Coffee-house in
Doctors' Commons. The bottle or two, indeed, might be more properly
described as a bottle or six, for by the time it was drunk and tea
over, the bell began to ring for strangers to withdraw.

But if Mr. Winkle's behaviour had been unaccountable in the morning, it
became perfectly unearthly and solemn when, under the influence of his
feelings and his share of the bottle or six, he prepared to take leave
of his friend. He lingered behind, until Mr. Tupman and Mr. Snodgrass
had disappeared, and then fervently clenched Mr. Pickwick's hand, with
an expression of face in which deep and mighty resolve was fearfully
blended with the very concentrated essence of gloom.

"Good night, my dear sir!" said Mr. Winkle between his set teeth.

"Bless you, my dear fellow!" replied the warm-hearted Mr. Pickwick, as
he returned the pressure of his young friend's hand.

"Now then!" cried Mr. Tupman from the gallery.

"Yes, yes, directly," replied Mr. Winkle. "Good night!"

"Good night," said Mr. Pickwick.

There was another good night, and another, and half-a-dozen more after
that, and still Mr. Winkle had fast hold of his friend's hand, and was
looking into his face with the same strange expression.

"_Is_ anything the matter?" said Mr. Pickwick at last, when his arm was
quite sore with shaking.

"Nothing," said Mr. Winkle.

"Well then, good night," said Mr. Pickwick, attempting to disengage his
hand.

"My friend, my benefactor, my honoured companion," murmured Mr. Winkle,
catching at his wrist. "Do not judge me harshly; do not, when you hear
that, driven to extremity by hopeless obstacles, I----"

"Now then," said Mr. Tupman, reappearing at the door. "Are you coming,
or are we to be locked in?"

"Yes, yes, I am ready," replied Mr. Winkle. And with a violent effort
he tore himself away.

As Mr. Pickwick was gazing down the passage after them in silent
astonishment, Sam Weller appeared at the stair-head, and whispered for
one moment in Mr. Winkle's ear.

"Oh, certainly, depend upon me," said that gentleman aloud.

"Thankee, sir. You won't forget, sir?" said Sam.

"Of course not," replied Mr. Winkle.

"Wish you luck, sir," said Sam, touching his hat. "I should very much
liked to ha' joined you, sir; but the gov'nor o' course is pairamount."

"It is very much to your credit that you remain here," said Mr. Winkle.
With these words they disappeared down-stairs.

"Very extraordinary," said Mr. Pickwick, going back into his room, and
seating himself at the table in a musing attitude. "What _can_ that
young man be going to do?"

He had sat ruminating about the matter for some time, when the voice of
Roker, the turnkey, demanded whether he might come in.

"By all means," said Mr. Pickwick.

"I've brought you a softer pillow, sir," said Roker, "instead of the
temporary one you had last night."

"Thank you," said Mr. Pickwick. "Will you take a glass of wine?"

"You're wery good, sir," replied Mr. Roker, accepting the proffered
glass. "Yours, sir."

"Thank you," said Mr. Pickwick.

"I'm sorry to say that your landlord's every bad to-night, sir," said
Roker, setting down the glass, and inspecting the lining of his hat
preparatory to putting it on again.

"What! The Chancery prisoner!" exclaimed Mr. Pickwick.

"He won't be a Chancery prisoner wery long, sir," replied Roker,
turning his hat round, so as to get the maker's name right side
upwards, as he looked into it.

"You make my blood run cold," said Mr. Pickwick. "What do you mean?"

"He's been consumptive for a long time past," said Mr. Roker, "and
he's taken wery bad in the breath to-night. The doctor said, six months
ago, that nothing but change of air could save him."

"Great Heaven!" exclaimed Mr. Pickwick; "has this man been slowly
murdered by the law for six months!"

"I don't know about that," replied Roker, weighing the hat by the
brims in both hands. "I suppose he'd have been took the same, wherever
he was. He went into the infirmary this morning; the doctor says his
strength is to be kept up as much as possible; and the warden's sent
him wine and broth and that, from his own house. It's not the warden's
fault, you know, sir."

"Of course not," replied Mr. Pickwick, hastily.

"I'm afraid, however," said Roker, shaking his head, "that it's all up
with him. I offered Neddy two sixpenn'orths to one upon it just now,
but he wouldn't take it, and quite right. Thankee, sir. Good night,
sir."

"Stay," said Mr. Pickwick, earnestly. "Where is this infirmary?"

"Just over where you slept, sir," replied Roker. "I'll show you, if you
like to come." Mr. Pickwick snatched up his hat without speaking, and
followed at once.

The turnkey led the way in silence; and gently raising the latch of
the room door, motioned Mr. Pickwick to enter. It was a large, bare,
desolate room, with a number of stump bedsteads made of iron; on one of
which lay stretched the shadow of a man; wan, pale, and ghastly. His
breathing was hard and thick, and he moaned painfully as it came and
went. At the bedside sat a short old man in a cobbler's apron, who, by
the aid of a pair of horn spectacles, was reading from the Bible aloud.
It was the fortunate legatee.

The sick man laid his hand upon his attendant's arm, and motioned him
to stop. He closed the book and laid it on the bed.

"Open the window," said the sick man.

He did so. The noise of carriages and carts, the rattle of wheels,
the cries of men and boys, all the busy sounds of a mighty multitude
instinct with life and occupation, blended into one deep murmur,
floated into the room. Above the hoarse loud hum arose, from time to
time, a boisterous laugh; or a scrap of some jingling song, shouted
forth by one of the giddy crowd, would strike upon the ear for an
instant, and then be lost amidst the roar of voices and the tramp of
footsteps; the breaking of the billows of the restless sea of life that
rolled heavily on without. Melancholy sounds to a quiet listener at any
time; how melancholy to the watcher by the bed of death!

"There is no air here," said the sick man faintly. "The place pollutes
it. It was fresh round about, when I walked there, years ago; but it
grows hot and heavy in passing these walls. I cannot breathe it."

"We have breathed it together for a long time," said the old man.
"Come, come."

There was a short silence, during which the two spectators approached
the bed. The sick man drew a hand of his old fellow-prisoner towards
him, and pressing it affectionately between both his own, retained it
in his grasp.

"I hope," he gasped after a while, so faintly that they bent their
ears close over the bed to catch the half-formed sounds his pale lips
gave vent to: "I hope my merciful Judge will bear in mind my heavy
punishment on earth. Twenty years, my friend, twenty years in this
hideous grave! My heart broke when my child died, and I could not even
kiss him in his little coffin. My loneliness since then, in all this
noise and riot, has been very dreadful. May God forgive me! He has seen
my solitary, lingering death."

He folded his hands, and murmuring something more they could not hear,
fell into a sleep--only a sleep at first, for they saw him smile.

They whispered together for a little time, and the turnkey, stooping
over the pillow, drew hastily back. "He has got his discharge, by G--!"
said the man.

He had. But he had grown so like death in life, that they knew not when
he died.



CHAPTER XVII

[Illustration]

  _Descriptive of an Affecting Interview between Mr. Samuel Weller
    and a Family Party. Mr. Pickwick makes a Tour of the Diminutive
    World he inhabits, and resolves to mix with it, in future, as
    little as possible._


A few mornings after his incarceration, Mr. Samuel Weller, having
arranged his master's room with all possible care, and seen him
comfortably seated over his books and papers, withdrew to employ
himself for an hour or two to come, as he best could. It was a fine
morning, and it occurred to Sam that a pint of porter in the open air
would lighten his next quarter of an hour or so, as well as any little
amusement in which he could indulge.

Having arrived at this conclusion, he betook himself to the
tap. Having purchased the beer, and obtained, moreover, the
day-but-one-before-yesterday's paper, he repaired to the
skittle-ground, and seating himself on a bench, proceeded to enjoy
himself in a very sedate and methodical manner.

First of all, he took a refreshing draught of the beer, and then he
looked up at the window, and bestowed a Platonic wink on a young lady
who was peeling potatoes thereat. Then he opened the paper, and folded
it so as to get the police reports outwards; and this being a vexatious
and difficult thing to do, when there is any wind stirring, he took
another draught of the beer when he had accomplished it. Then he read
two lines of the paper, and stopped short to look at a couple of men
who were finishing a game of rackets, which being concluded, he cried
out "wery good" in an approving manner, and looked round upon the
spectators, to ascertain whether their sentiments coincided with his
own. This involved the necessity of looking up at the windows also; and
as the young lady was still there, it was an act of common politeness
to wink again, and to drink to her good health in dumb show, in another
draught of the beer, which Sam did; and having frowned hideously upon a
small boy who had noted this latter proceeding with open eyes, he threw
one leg over the other, and holding the newspaper in both hands, began
to read in real earnest.

He had hardly composed himself into the needful state of abstraction,
when he thought he heard his own name proclaimed in some distant
passage. Nor was he mistaken, for it quickly passed from mouth to
mouth, and in a few seconds the air teemed with shouts of "Weller!"

"Here!" roared Sam, in a stentorian voice. "Wot's the matter? Who wants
him? Has an express come to say that his country-house is afire?"

"Somebody wants you in the hall," said a man who was standing by.

"Just mind that 'ere paper and the pot, old feller, will you?" said
Sam. "I'm a comin'. Blessed, if they was a callin' me to the bar they
couldn't make more noise about it!"

Accompanying these words with a gentle rap on the head of the young
gentleman before noticed, who, unconscious of his close vicinity to
the person in request, was screaming "Weller!" with all his might, Sam
hastened across the ground, and ran up the steps into the hall. Here,
the first object that met his eyes was his beloved father sitting on a
bottom stair, with his hat in his hand, shouting out "Weller!" in his
very loudest tone, at half-minute intervals.

"Wot are you a roarin' at?" said Sam impetuously, when the old
gentleman had discharged himself of another shout; "makin' yourself so
precious hot that you looks like a aggrawated glass-blower. Wot's the
matter?"

"Aha!" replied the old gentleman, "I began to be afeerd that you'd gone
for a walk round the Regency Park, Sammy."

"Come," said Sam, "none o' them taunts agin the wictim o' avarice, and
come off that 'ere step. Wot are you a settin' down there for? I don't
live there."

"I've got such a game for you, Sammy," said the elder Mr. Weller,
rising.

"Stop a minit," said Sam, "you're all vite behind."

"That's right, Sammy, rub it off," said Mr. Weller, as his son dusted
him. "It might look personal here, if a man walked about with whitevash
on his clothes, eh, Sammy?"

As Mr. Weller exhibited in this place unequivocal symptoms of an
approaching fit of chuckling, Sam interposed to stop it.

"Keep quiet, do," said Sam, "there never vos such a old picter-card
born. What are you bustin' vith, now?"

"Sammy," said Mr. Weller, wiping his forehead, "I'm afeerd that vun o'
these days I shall laugh myself into a appleplexy, my boy."

"Vell then, wot do you do it for?" said Sam. "Now; wot have you got to
say?"

"Who do you think's come here with me, Samivel?" said Mr. Weller,
drawing back a pace or two, pursing up his mouth, and extending his
eyebrows.

"Pell?" said Sam.

Mr. Weller shook his head, and his red cheek expanded with the laughter
that was endeavouring to find a vent.

"Mottled-faced man, p'r'aps?" suggested Sam.

Again Mr. Weller shook his head.

"Who then?" asked Sam.

"Your mother-in-law," said Mr. Weller; and it was lucky he did say it,
or his cheeks must inevitably have cracked from their most unnatural
distension.

"Your mother-in-law, Sammy," said Mr. Weller, "and the red-nosed man,
my boy; and the red-nosed man. Ho! ho! ho!"

With this, Mr. Weller launched into convulsions of laughter, while
Sam regarded him with a broad grin gradually overspreading his whole
countenance.

"They've come to have a little serious talk with you, Samivel," said
Mr. Weller, wiping his eyes. "Don't let out nothin' about the unnat'ral
creditor, Sammy."

"Wot! don't they know who it is?" inquired Sam.

"Not a bit on it," replied his father.

"Vere are they?" said Sam, reciprocating all the old gentleman's grins.

"In the snuggery," rejoined Mr. Weller. "Catch the red-nosed man a
goin' anyvere but vere the liquors is; not he, Samivel, not he. Ve'd a
wery pleasant ride along the road from the Markis this mornin', Sammy,"
said Mr. Weller, when he felt himself equal to the task of speaking
in an articulate manner. "I drove the old piebald in that 'ere little
shay-cart as belonged to your mother-in-law's first wenter, into vich
a harm-cheer wos lifted for the shepherd; and I'm blest," said Mr.
Weller, with a look of deep scorn: "I'm blest if they didn't bring a
portable flight o' steps out into the road a front o' our door, for him
to get up by."

[Illustration: "_I drove the old piebald._"]

"You don't mean that?" said Sam.

"I _do_ mean that, Sammy," replied his father, "and I vish you could
ha' seen how tight he held on by the sides wen he did get up, as if he
wos afeerd o' being precipitayted down full six foot, and dashed into
a million o' hatoms. He tumbled in at last, however, and avay ve vent;
and I rayther think, I say I rayther think, Samivel, that he found
his-self a little jolted ven ve turned the corners."

"Wot! I s'pose you happened to drive up agin a post or two?" said Sam.

"I'm afeerd," replied Mr. Weller, in a rapture of winks, "I'm afeerd I
took vun or two on 'em, Sammy; he wos a flyin' out o' the harm-cheer
all the way."

Here the old gentleman shook his head from side to side, and was seized
with a hoarse internal rumbling, accompanied with a violent swelling
of the countenance, and a sudden increase in the breadth of all his
features; symptoms which alarmed his son not a little.

"Don't be frightened, Sammy, don't be frightened," said the old
gentleman, when by dint of much struggling, and various convulsive
stamps upon the ground, he had recovered his voice. "It's only a kind
o' quiet laugh as I'm a tryin' to come, Sammy."

"Well, if that's wot it is," said Sam, "you'd better not try to come it
agin. You'll find it rayther a dangerous inwention."

"Don't you like it, Sammy?" inquired the old gentleman.

"Not at all," replied Sam.

"Well," said Mr. Weller, with the tears still running down his cheeks,
"it 'ud ha' been a wery great accommodation to me if I could ha' done
it, and 'ud ha' saved a good many vords atween your mother-in-law and
me, sometimes; but I am afeerd you're right, Sammy: it's too much in
the appleplexy line--a deal too much, Samivel."

This conversation brought them to the door of the snuggery, into which
Sam--pausing for an instant to look over his shoulder, and cast a sly
leer at his respected progenitor, who was still giggling behind--at
once led the way.

"Mother-in-law," said Sam, politely saluting the lady, "wery much
obliged to you for this here wisit. Shepherd, how air you?"

"Oh, Samuel!" said Mrs. Weller. "This is dreadful."

"Not a bit of it, mum," replied Sam. "Is it, shepherd?"

Mr. Stiggins raised his hands, and turned up his eyes, till the
whites--or rather the yellows--were alone visible; but made no reply in
words.

"Is this here gen'l'm'n troubled vith any painful complaint?" said Sam,
looking to his mother-in-law for explanation.

"The good man is grieved to see you here, Samuel," replied Mrs. Weller.

"Oh, that's it, is it?" said Sam. "I was afeerd, from his manner, that
he might a' forgotten to take pepper with that 'ere last cowcumber he
eat. Set down, sir, ve make no extra charge for the settin' down, as
the king remarked ven he blowed up his ministers."

"Young man," said Mr. Stiggins ostentatiously, "I fear you are not
softened by imprisonment."

"Beg your pardon, sir," replied Sam; "wot wos you graciously pleased to
hobserve?"

"I apprehend, young man, that your nature is no softer for this
chastening," said Mr. Stiggins, in a loud voice.

"Sir," replied Sam, "you're wery kind to say so. I hope my natur is
_not_ a soft vun, sir. Wery much obliged to you for your good opinion,
sir."

At this point of the conversation, a sound, indecorously approaching
to a laugh, was heard to proceed from the chair in which the elder Mr.
Weller was seated; upon which Mrs. Weller, on a hasty consideration of
all the circumstances of the case, considered it her bounden duty to
become gradually hysterical.

"Weller," said Mrs. W. (the old gentleman was seated in a corner);
"Weller! Come forth."

"Wery much obleeged to you, my dear," replied Mr. Weller; "but I'm
quite comfortable vere I am."

Upon this Mrs. Weller burst into tears.

"Wot's gone wrong, mum?" said Sam.

"Oh, Samuel!" replied Mrs. Weller, "your father makes me wretched. Will
nothing do him good?"

"Do you hear this here?" said Sam. "Lady wants to know vether nothin'
'ull do you good."

"Wery much indebted to Mrs. Weller for her po-lite inquiries, Sammy,"
replied the old gentleman. "I think a pipe vould benefit me a good
deal. Could I be accommodated, Sammy?"

Here Mrs. Weller let fall some more tears, and Mr. Stiggins groaned.

"Hallo! Here's this unfort'nate gen'l'm'n took ill agin," said Sam,
looking round. "Vere do you feel it now, sir?"

"In the same place, young man," rejoined Mr. Stiggins: "in the same
place."

"Vere may that be, sir?" inquired Sam, with great outward simplicity.

"In the buzzim, young man," replied Mr. Stiggins, placing his umbrella
on his waistcoat.

At this affecting reply, Mrs. Weller, being wholly unable to suppress
her feelings, sobbed aloud, and stated her conviction that the
red-nosed man was a saint; whereupon Mr. Weller senior ventured to
suggest, in an undertone, that he must be the representative of the
united parishes of St. Simon Without and St. Walker Within.

"I'm afeerd, mum," said Sam, "that this here gen'l'm'n, with the
twist in his countenance, feels rayther thirsty, with the melancholy
spectacle afore him. Is it the case, mum?"

The worthy lady looked at Mr. Stiggins for a reply; that gentleman,
with many rollings of the eye, clenched his throat with his right hand,
and mimicked the act of swallowing, to intimate that he was athirst.

"I am afraid, Samuel, that his feelings have made him so, indeed," said
Mrs. Weller, mournfully.

"Wot's your usual tap, sir?" replied Sam.

"Oh, my dear young friend," replied Mr. Stiggins, "all taps is
vanities!"

"Too true, too true, indeed," said Mrs. Weller, murmuring a groan, and
shaking her head assentingly.

"Well," said Sam, "I des-say they may be, sir; but which is your
partickler wanity? Vich wanity do you like the flavour on best, sir?"

"Oh, my dear young friend," replied Mr. Stiggins, "I despise them all.
If," said Mr. Stiggins, "if there is any one of them less odious than
another, it is the liquor called rum. Warm, my dear young friend, with
three lumps of sugar to the tumbler."

"Wery sorry to say, sir," said Sam, "that they don't allow that
partickler wanity to be sold in this here establishment."

"Oh, the hardness of heart of these inveterate men!" ejaculated Mr.
Stiggins. "Oh, the accursed cruelty of these inhuman persecutors!"

With these words Mr. Stiggins again cast up his eyes, and rapped
his breast with his umbrella; and it is but justice to the reverend
gentleman to say, that his indignation appeared very real and unfeigned
indeed.

After Mrs. Weller and the red-nosed gentleman had commented on this
inhuman usage in a very forcible manner, and had vented a variety of
pious and holy execrations against its authors, the latter recommended
a bottle of port wine, warmed with a little water, spice, and sugar, as
being grateful to the stomach, and savouring less of vanity than many
other compounds. It was accordingly ordered to be prepared. Pending its
preparation the red-nosed man and Mrs. Weller looked at the elder W.
and groaned.

"Well, Sammy," said that gentleman, "I hope you'll find your
spirits rose by this here lively wisit. Wery cheerful and improvin'
conwersation, ain't it, Sammy?"

"You're a reprobate," replied Sam; "and I desire you won't address no
more o' them ungraceful remarks to me."

So far from being edified by this very proper reply, the elder Mr.
Weller at once relapsed into a broad grin; and this inexorable
conduct causing the lady and Mr. Stiggins to close their eyes, and
rock themselves to and fro on their chairs in a troubled manner, he
furthermore indulged in several acts of pantomime, indicative of a
desire to pummel and wring the nose of the aforesaid Stiggins; the
performance of which appeared to afford him great mental relief. The
old gentleman very narrowly escaped detection in one instance: Mr.
Stiggins happening to give a start on the arrival of the negus, brought
his head in smart contact with the clenched fist with which Mr. Weller
had been describing imaginary fireworks in the air, within two inches
of his ear, for some minutes.

"Wot are you a reachin' out your hand for the tumbler in that 'ere
sawage way for?" said Sam, with great promptitude. "Don't you see
you've hit the gen'l'm'n?"

"I didn't go to do it, Sammy," said Mr. Weller, in some degree abashed
by the very unexpected occurrence of the incident.

"Try an in'ard application, sir," said Sam, as the red-nosed gentleman
rubbed his head with a rueful visage. "Wot do you think o' that, for a
go o' wanity warm, sir?"

Mr. Stiggins made no verbal answer, but his manner was expressive. He
tasted the contents of the glass which Sam had placed in his hand;
put his umbrella on the floor, and tasted it again: passing his hand
placidly across his stomach twice or thrice; he then drank the whole at
a breath, and smacking his lips, held out the tumbler for more.

Nor was Mrs. Weller behind-hand in doing justice to the composition.
The good lady began by protesting that she couldn't touch a drop--then
took a small drop--then a large drop--then a great many drops; and her
feelings being of the nature of those substances which are powerfully
affected by the application of strong waters, she dropped a tear with
every drop of negus, and so got on, melting the feelings down, until at
length she had arrived at a very pathetic and decent pitch of misery.

The elder Mr. Weller observed these signs and tokens with many
manifestations of disgust, and when, after a second jug of the same,
Mr. Stiggins began to sigh in a dismal manner, he plainly evinced his
disapprobation of the whole proceedings, by sundry incoherent ramblings
of speech, among which frequent angry repetitions of the word "gammon"
were alone distinguishable to the ear.

"I'll tell you wot it is, Samivel, my boy," whispered the old gentleman
into his son's ear, after a long and steadfast contemplation of his
lady and Mr. Stiggins; "I think there must be somethin' wrong in your
mother-in-law's inside, as vell as in that o' the red-nosed man."

"Wot do you mean?" said Sam.

"I mean this here, Sammy," replied the old gentleman, "that wot they
drink don't seem no nourishment to 'em; it all turns to warm water,
and comes a pourin' out o' their eyes. 'Pend upon it, Sammy, it's a
constitootional infirmity."

Mr. Weller delivered this scientific opinion with many confirmatory
frowns and nods; which Mrs. Weller remarking, and concluding that they
bore some disparaging reference either to herself or to Mr. Stiggins,
or to both, was on the point of becoming infinitely worse, when Mr.
Stiggins, getting on his legs as well as he could, proceeded to
deliver an edifying discourse for the benefit of the company, but more
especially of Mr. Samuel, whom he adjured in moving terms to be upon
his guard in that sink of iniquity into which he was cast; to abstain
from all hypocrisy and pride of heart; and to take in all things exact
pattern and copy by him (Stiggins), in which case he might calculate
on arriving, sooner or later, at the comfortable conclusion that, like
him, he was a most estimable and blameless character, and that all
his acquaintance and friends were hopelessly abandoned and profligate
wretches. Which consideration, he said, could not but afford him the
liveliest satisfaction.

He furthermore conjured him to avoid, above all things, the vice of
intoxication, which he likened unto the filthy habits of swine, and to
those poisonous and baleful drugs which, being chewed in the mouth,
are said to filch away the memory. At this point of his discourse, the
reverend and red-nosed gentleman became singularly incoherent, and
staggering to and fro in the excitement of his eloquence, was fain to
catch at the back of a chair to preserve his perpendicular.

Mr. Stiggins did not desire his hearers to be upon their guard against
those false prophets and wretched mockers of religion, who, without
sense to expound its first doctrines, or hearts to feel its first
principles, are more dangerous members of society than the common
criminal; imposing, as they necessarily do, upon the weakest and worst
informed, casting scorn and contempt on what should be held most
sacred, and bringing into partial disrepute large bodies of virtuous
and well-conducted persons of many excellent sects and persuasions. But
as he leant over the back of the chair for a considerable time, and
closing one eye, winked a good deal with the other, it is presumed that
he thought all this, but kept it to himself.

During the delivery of the oration, Mrs. Weller sobbed and wept at
the end of the paragraphs; while Sam, sitting cross-legged on a chair
and resting his arms on the top-rail, regarded the speaker with great
suavity and blandness of demeanour; occasionally bestowing a look of
recognition on the old gentleman, who was delighted at the beginning,
and went to sleep about half-way.

"Brayvo; wery pretty!" said Sam, when the red-nosed man, having
finished, pulled his worn gloves on: thereby thrusting his fingers
through the broken tops till the knuckles were disclosed to view. "Wery
pretty."

"I hope it may do you good, Samuel," said Mrs. Weller, solemnly.

"I think it vill, mum," replied Sam.

"I wish I could hope that it would do your father good," said Mrs.
Weller.

"Thankee, my dear," said Mr. Weller senior. "How do _you_ find yourself
arter it, my love?"

"Scoffer!" exclaimed Mrs. Weller.

"Benighted man!" said the Reverend Mr. Stiggins.

"If I don't get no better light than that 'ere moonshine o' yourn,
my worthy creetur," said the elder Mr. Weller, "it's wery likely
as I shall continey to be a night coach till I'm took off the road
altogether. Now, Mrs. We, if the piebald stands at livery much longer,
he'll stand at nothing as we go back, and p'r'aps that 'ere harm-cheer
'ull be tipped over into some hedge or another, with the shepherd in
it."

At this supposition, the Reverend Mr. Stiggins, in evident
consternation, gathered up his hat and umbrella, and proposed an
immediate departure, to which Mrs. Weller assented. Sam walked with
them to the lodge-gate, and took a dutiful leave.

"A-do, Samivel," said the old gentleman.

"Wot's a-do?" inquired Sammy.

"Well, good-bye, then," said the old gentleman.

"Oh, that's wot you're a aimin' at, is it?" said Sam. "Good-bye!"

"Sammy," whispered Mr. Weller, looking cautiously round; "my duty to
your gov'ner, and tell him if he thinks better o' this here bis'ness,
to commoonicate vith me. Me and a cab'net-maker has devised a plan
for gettin' him out. A pianner, Samivel, a pianner!" said Mr. Weller,
striking his son on the chest with the back of his hand, and falling
back a step or two.

"Wot do you mean?" said Sam.

"A pianner forty, Samivel," rejoined Mr. Weller, in a still more
mysterious manner, "as we can have on hire; vun as von't play, Sammy."

"And wot 'ud be the good o' that?" said Sam.

"Let him send to my friend, the cab'net-maker, to fetch it back,
Sammy," replied Mr. Weller. "Are you avake now?"

"No," rejoined Sam.

"There ain't no vurks in it," whispered his father. "It 'ull hold him
easy, vith his hat and shoes on, and breathe through the legs, vich
his holler. Have a passage ready taken for 'Merriker. The 'Merrikin
gov'ment will never give him up, ven they find as he's got money to
spend, Sammy. Let the gov'ner stop there, till Mrs. Bardell's dead, or
Mr. Dodson and Fogg's hung (which last ewent I think is the most likely
to happen first, Sammy), and then let him come back and write a book
about the 'Merrikins, as'll pay all his expenses and more, if he blows
'em up enough."

Mr. Weller delivered this hurried abstract of his plot with great
vehemence of whisper; then, as if fearful of weakening the effect of
the tremendous communication, by any further dialogue, he gave the
coachman's salute, and vanished.

Sam had scarcely recovered his usual composure of countenance, which
had been greatly disturbed by the secret communication of his respected
relative, when Mr. Pickwick accosted him.

"Sam," said that gentleman.

"Sir?" replied Mr. Weller.

"I am going for a walk round the prison, and I wish you to attend me.
I see a prisoner we know coming this way, Sam," said Mr. Pickwick,
smiling.

"Wich, sir?" inquired Mr. Weller; "the gen'l'm'n vith the head o' hair,
or the interestin' captive in the stockin's?"

"Neither," rejoined Mr. Pickwick. "He is an older friend of yours, Sam."

"O' mine, sir?" exclaimed Mr. Weller.

"You recollect the gentleman very well, I dare say, Sam," replied Mr.
Pickwick, "or else you are more unmindful of your old acquaintances
than I think you are. Hush! not a word, Sam; not a syllable. Here he
is."

As Mr. Pickwick spoke, Jingle walked up. He looked less miserable than
before, being clad in a half-worn suit of clothes, which, with Mr.
Pickwick's assistance, had been released from the pawnbroker's. He wore
clean linen too, and had had his hair cut. He was very pale and thin,
however; and as he crept slowly up, leaning on a stick, it was easy to
see that he had suffered severely from illness and want, and was still
very weak. He took off his hat as Mr. Pickwick saluted him, and seemed
much humbled and abashed at sight of Sam Weller.

Following close at his heels, came Mr. Job Trotter, in the catalogue
of whose vices, want of faith and attachment to his companion could at
all events find no place. He was still ragged and squalid, but his face
was not quite so hollow as on his first meeting with Mr. Pickwick a few
days before. As he took off his hat to our benevolent old friend, he
murmured some broken expressions of gratitude, and muttered something
about having been saved from starving.

"Well, well," said Mr. Pickwick, impatiently interrupting him, "you
can follow with Sam. I want to speak to you, Mr. Jingle. Can you walk
without his arm?"

"Certainly, sir--all ready--not too fast--legs--shaky--head queer round
and round--earthquaky sort of feeling--very."

"Here, give me your arm," said Mr. Pickwick.

"No, no," replied Jingle; "won't indeed--rather not."

"Nonsense," said Mr. Pickwick; "lean upon me, I desire, sir."

Seeing that he was confused and agitated, and uncertain what to do, Mr.
Pickwick cut the matter short by drawing the invalided stroller's arm
through his, and leading him away, without saying another word about it.

During the whole of this time, the countenance of Mr. Samuel Weller
had exhibited an expression of the most overwhelming and absorbing
astonishment that the imagination can portray. After looking from Job
to Jingle, and from Jingle to Job, in profound silence, he softly
ejaculated the words, "Well, I _am_ damn'd!" Which he repeated at least
a score of times: after which exertion, he appeared wholly bereft of
speech, and again cast his eyes, first upon the one and then upon the
other, in mute perplexity and bewilderment.

"Now, Sam!" said Mr. Pickwick, looking back.

"I'm a comin', sir," replied Mr. Weller, mechanically following his
master; and still he lifted not his eyes from Mr. Job Trotter, who
walked at his side, in silence.

Job kept his eyes fixed on the ground for some time. Sam, with his
glued to Job's countenance, ran up against the people who were walking
about, and fell over little children, and stumbled against steps and
railings, without appearing at all sensible of it, until Job, looking
stealthily up, said:

"How do you do, Mr. Weller?"

"It _is_ him!" exclaimed Sam: and having established Job's identity
beyond all doubt, he smote his leg, and vented his feelings in a long
shrill whistle.

"Things has altered with me, sir," said Job.

"I should think they had," exclaimed Mr. Weller, surveying his
companion's rags with undisguised wonder. "This is rayther a change
for the worse, Mr. Trotter, as the gen'l'm'n said wen he got two
doubtful shillin's and sixpenn'orth o' pocket pieces for a good
half-crown."

"It is indeed," replied Job, shaking his head. "There is no deception
now, Mr. Weller. Tears," said Job, with a look of momentary slyness,
"tears are not the only proofs of distress, nor the best ones."

"No, they ain't," replied Sam, expressively.

"They may be put on, Mr. Weller," said Job.

"I know they may," said Sam; "some people, indeed, has 'em always ready
laid on, and can pull out the plug wenever they likes."

"Yes," replied Job; "but _these_ sort of things are not so easily
counterfeited, Mr. Weller, and it is a more painful process to get them
up." As he spoke, he pointed to his sallow, sunken cheeks, and, drawing
up his coat sleeves, disclosed an arm which looked as if the bone could
be broken at a touch: so sharp and brittle did it appear beneath its
thin covering of flesh.

"Wot have you been a doin' to yourself?" said Sam, recoiling.

"Nothing," replied Job.

"Nothin'!" echoed Sam.

"I have been doin' nothing for many weeks past," said Job; "and eating
and drinking almost as little."

Sam took one comprehensive glance at Mr. Trotter's thin face and
wretched apparel; and then, seizing him by the arm, commenced dragging
him away with great violence.

"Where are you going, Mr. Weller?" said Job, vainly struggling in the
powerful grasp of his old enemy.

"Come on," said Sam; "come on!" He deigned no further explanation until
they reached the tap; and then called for a pot of porter which was
speedily produced.

"Now," said Sam, "drink that up, ev'ry drop on it, and then turn the
pot upside down, to let me see as you've took the med'cine."

"But, my dear Mr. Weller," remonstrated Job.

"Down vith it!" said Sam peremptorily.

Thus admonished, Mr. Trotter raised the pot to his lips, and, by
gentle and almost imperceptible degrees, tilted it into the air. He
paused once, and only once, to draw a long breath, but without raising
his face from the vessel, which, in a few moments thereafter, he held
out at arm's length, bottom upward. Nothing fell upon the ground but a
few particles of froth, which slowly detached themselves from the rim,
and trickled lazily down.

"Well done!" said Sam. "How do you find yourself arter it?"

"Better, sir. I think I am better," responded Job.

"O' course you air," said Sam, argumentatively. "It's like puttin' gas
in a balloon. I can see with the naked eye that you gets stouter under
the operation. Wot do you say to another o' the same di-mensions?"

"I would rather not, I am much obliged to you, sir," replied Job, "much
rather not."

"Vell then, wot do you say to some wittles?" inquired Sam.

"Thanks to your worthy governor, sir," said Mr. Trotter, "we have half
a leg of mutton, baked, at a quarter before three, with the potatoes
under it to save boiling."

"Wot! Has _he_ been a purwidin' for you?" asked Sam emphatically.

"He has, sir," replied Job. "More than that, Mr. Weller; my master
being very ill, he got us a room--we were in a kennel before--and paid
for it, sir; and come to look at us, at night, when nobody should know.
Mr. Weller," said Job, with real tears in his eyes for once, "I could
serve that gentleman till I fell down dead at his feet."

"I say!" said Sam, "I'll trouble you, my friend! None o' that!"

Job Trotter looked amazed.

"None o' that, I say, young feller," repeated Sam firmly. "No
man serves him but me. And now we're upon it, I'll let you into
another secret besides that," said Sam, as he paid for the beer. "I
never heerd, mind you, nor read of it in story-books, nor see in
picters, any angel in tights and gaiters--not even in spectacles,
as I remember, though that may ha' been done for anythin' I know
to the contrairey--but mark my vords, Job Trotter, he's a reg'lar
thorough-bred angel for all that; and let me see the man as wenturs to
tell me he knows a better vun." With this defiance, Mr. Weller buttoned
up his change in a side pocket, and, with many confirmatory nods and
gestures by the way, proceeded in search of the subject of discourse.

They found Mr. Pickwick, in company with Jingle, talking very
earnestly, and not bestowing a look on the groups who were congregated
on the racket-ground; they were very motley groups too, and worth the
looking at if it were only in idle curiosity.

"Well," said Mr. Pickwick, as Sam and his companion drew nigh, "you
will see how your health becomes, and think about it meanwhile. Make
the statement out for me when you feel yourself equal to the task, and
I will discuss the subject with you when I have considered it. Now, go
to your room. You are tired, and not strong enough to be out long."

Mr. Alfred Jingle, without one spark of his old animation--with nothing
even of the dismal gaiety which he had assumed when Mr. Pickwick
first stumbled on him in his misery--bowed low without speaking, and,
motioning to Job not to follow him just yet, crept slowly away.

"Curious scene this, is it not, Sam?" said Mr. Pickwick, looking
good-humouredly round.

"Wery much so, sir," replied Sam. "Wonders 'ull never cease," added
Sam, speaking to himself. "I'm wery much mistaken if that 'ere Jingle
worn't a doin' somethin' in the water-cart way!"

The area formed by the wall in that part of the Fleet in which Mr.
Pickwick stood was just wide enough to make a good racket-court; one
side being formed, of course, by the wall itself, and the other by
that portion of the prison which looked (or rather would have looked,
but for the wall) towards St. Paul's Cathedral. Sauntering or sitting
about, in every possible attitude of listless idleness, were a great
number of debtors, the major part of whom were waiting in prison until
their day of "going up" before the Insolvent Court should arrive; while
others had been remanded for various terms, which they were idling
away as they best could. Some were shabby, some were smart, many dirty,
a few clean; but there they all lounged, and loitered, and slunk about,
with as little spirit or purpose as the beasts in a menagerie.

Lolling from the windows which commanded a view of this promenade, were
a number of persons, some in noisy conversation with their acquaintance
below, others playing at ball with some adventurous throwers outside,
others looking on at the racket-players, or watching the boys as they
cried the game. Dirty, slipshod women passed and re-passed on their way
to the cooking-house in one corner of the yard; children screamed, and
fought, and played together, in another; the tumbling of the skittles,
and the shouts of the players, mingled perpetually with these and a
hundred other sounds; and all was noise and tumult--save in a little
miserable shed a few yards off, where lay, all quiet and ghastly, the
body of the Chancery prisoner who had died the night before, awaiting
the mockery of an inquest. The body! It is the lawyer's term for the
restless whirling mass of cares and anxieties, affections, hopes, and
griefs, that make up the living man. The law _had_ his body; and there
it lay, clothed in grave-clothes, an awful witness to its tender mercy.

"Would you like to see a whistling-shop, sir?" inquired Job Trotter.

"What do you mean?" was Mr. Pickwick's counter inquiry.

"A vistlin' shop, sir," interposed Mr. Weller.

"What is that, Sam? A bird-fancier's?" inquired Mr. Pickwick.

"Bless your heart, no, sir," replied Job; "a whistling-shop, sir, is
where they sell spirits." Mr. Job Trotter briefly explained here that
all persons being prohibited under heavy penalties from conveying
spirits into debtors' prisons, and such commodities being highly prized
by the ladies and gentlemen confined therein, it had occurred to some
speculative turnkey to connive, for certain lucrative considerations,
at two or three prisoners retailing the favourite article of gin, for
their own profit and advantage.

"This plan you see, sir, has been gradually introduced into all the
prisons for debt," said Mr. Trotter.

"And it has this wery great advantage," said Sam, "that the turnkeys
takes wery good care to seize hold o' ev'rybody but them as pays 'em,
that attempts the willainy, and ven it gets in the papers they're
applauded for their wigilance; so it cuts two ways--frightens other
people from the trade, and elewates their own characters."

"Exactly so, Mr. Weller," observed Job.

"Well, but are these rooms never searched to ascertain whether any
spirits are concealed in them?" said Mr. Pickwick.

"Cert'nly they are, sir," replied Sam; "but the turnkeys knows
beforehand, and gives the word to the wistlers, and you _may_ whistle
for it ven you go to look."

By this time, Job had tapped at a door, which was opened by a gentleman
with an uncombed head, who bolted it after them when they had walked
in, and grinned; upon which Job grinned, and Sam also; whereupon Mr.
Pickwick, thinking it might be expected of him, kept on smiling to the
end of the interview.

The gentleman with the uncombed head appeared quite satisfied with
this mute announcement of their business, and, producing a flat stone
bottle, which might hold about a couple of quarts, from beneath his
bedstead, filled out three glasses of gin, which Job Trotter and Sam
disposed of in a most workmanlike manner.

"Any more?" said the whistling gentleman.

"No more," replied Job Trotter.

Mr. Pickwick paid, the door was unbolted, and out they came; the
uncombed gentleman bestowing a friendly nod upon Mr. Roker, who
happened to be passing at the moment.

From this spot, Mr. Pickwick wandered along all the galleries, up and
down all the staircases, and once again round the whole area of the
yard. The great body of the prison population appeared to be Mivins,
and Smangle, and the parson, and the butcher, and the leg, over and
over, and over again. There were the same squalor, the same turmoil and
noise, the same general characteristics, in every corner; in the best
and the worst alike. The whole place seemed restless and troubled; and
the people were crowding and flitting to and fro, like the shadows in
an uneasy dream.

"I have seen enough," said Mr. Pickwick, as he threw himself into a
chair in his little compartment. "My head aches with these scenes, and
my heart too. Henceforth I will be a prisoner in my own room."

And Mr. Pickwick steadfastly adhered to this determination. For three
long months he remained shut up, all day; only stealing out at night,
to breathe the air, when the greater part of his fellow-prisoners
were in bed or carousing in their rooms. His health was beginning
to suffer from the closeness of the confinement, but neither the
often-repeated entreaties of Perker and his friends, nor the still more
frequently-repeated warnings and admonitions of Mr. Samuel Weller,
could induce him to alter one jot of his inflexible resolution.



CHAPTER XVIII

[Illustration]

  _Records a touching Act of delicate Feeling, not unmixed with
    Pleasantry, achieved and performed by Messrs. Dodson and Fogg_


It was within a week of the close of the month of July, that a hackney
cabriolet, number unrecorded, was seen to proceed at a rapid pace up
Goswell Street; three people were squeezed into it besides the driver,
who sat in his own particular little dickey at the side; over the apron
were hung two shawls, belonging to two small vixenish-looking ladies
under the apron; between whom, compressed into a very small compass,
was stowed away a gentleman of heavy and subdued demeanour, who,
whenever he ventured to make an observation, was snapped up short by
one of the vixenish ladies before-mentioned. Lastly, the two vixenish
ladies and the heavy gentleman were giving the driver contradictory
directions, all tending to the one point that he should stop at Mrs.
Bardell's door; which the heavy gentleman, in direct opposition to, and
defiance of, the vixenish ladies, contended was a green door and not a
yellow one.

"Stop at the house with the green door, driver," said the heavy
gentleman.

"Oh! You perwerse creetur!" exclaimed one of the vixenish ladies.
"Drive to the 'ouse with the yellow door, cabmin."

Upon this, the cabman, who in a sudden effort to pull up at the house
with the green door had pulled the horse up so high that he nearly
pulled him backward into the cabriolet, let the animal's fore-legs down
to the ground again, and paused.

"Now vere am I to pull up?" inquired the driver. "Settle it among
yourselves. All I ask is, vere?"

Here the contest was renewed with increased violence; and the horse
being troubled with a fly on his nose, the cabman humanely employed his
leisure in lashing him about on the head, on the counter-irritation
principle.

"Most wotes carries the day!" said one of the vixenish ladies at
length. "The 'ouse with the yellow door, cabmin."

But after the cabriolet had dashed up, in splendid style, to the
house with the yellow door: "making," as one of the vixenish ladies
triumphantly said, "acterrally more noise than if one had come in
one's own carriage"--and after the driver had dismounted to assist the
ladies in getting out--the small round head of Master Thomas Bardell
was thrust out of the one pair window of a house with a red door, a few
numbers off.

"Aggrawatin' thing!" said the vixenish lady last mentioned, darting a
withering glance at the heavy gentleman.

"My dear, it's not my fault," said the gentleman.

"Don't talk to me, you creetur, don't," retorted the lady. "The house
with the red door, cabmin. Oh! If ever a woman was troubled with a
ruffinly creetur, that takes a pride and pleasure in disgracing his
wife on every possible occasion afore strangers, I am that woman!"

"You ought to be ashamed of yourself, Raddle," said the other little
woman, who was no other than Mrs. Cluppins.

"What have I been a doing of?" asked Mr. Raddle.

"Don't talk to me, don't, you brute, for fear I should be perwoked to
forgit my sect and strike you!" said Mrs. Raddle.

While this dialogue was going on, the driver was most ignominiously
leading the horse, by the bridle, up to the house with the red door,
which Master Bardell had already opened. Here was a mean and low way
of arriving at a friend's house! No dashing up, with all the fire and
fury of the animal; no jumping down of the driver; no loud knocking at
the door; no opening of the apron with a crash at the very last moment,
for fear of the ladies sitting in a draught; and then the man handing
the shawls out, afterwards, as if he were a private coachman! The whole
edge of the thing had been taken off; it was flatter than walking.

"Well, Tommy," said Mrs. Cluppins, "how's your poor dear mother?"

"Oh, she's very well," replied Master Bardell. "She's in the front
parlour, all ready. I'm ready too, I am." Here Master Bardell put his
hands in his pockets, and jumped off and on the bottom step of the door.

"Is anybody else a goin', Tommy?" said Mrs. Cluppins, arranging her
pelerine.

"Mrs. Sanders is going, she is," replied Tommy. "I'm going too, I am."

"Drat the boy!" said little Mrs. Cluppins. "He thinks of nobody but
himself. Here, Tommy, dear."

"Well?" said Master Bardell.

"Who else is a goin', lovey?" said Mrs. Cluppins in an insinuating
manner.

"Oh! Mrs. Rogers is a goin'," replied Master Bardell, opening his eyes
very wide as he delivered the intelligence.

"What! The lady as has taken the lodgings?" ejaculated Mrs. Cluppins.

Master Bardell put his hands deeper down into his pockets, and nodded
exactly thirty-five times, to imply that it was the lady lodger, and no
other.

"Bless us!" said Mrs. Cluppins. "It's quite a party!"

"Ah, if you knew what was in the cupboard, you'd say so," replied
Master Bardell.

"What is there, Tommy?" said Mrs. Cluppins, coaxingly. "You'll tell
_me_, Tommy, I know."

"No, I won't," replied Master Bardell, shaking his head, and applying
himself to the bottom step again.

"Drat the child!" muttered Mrs. Cluppins. "What a prowokin' little
wretch it is! Come, Tommy, tell your dear Cluppy."

"Mother said I wasn't to," rejoined Master Bardell. "I'm a goin' to
have some, I am." Cheered by this prospect, the precocious boy applied
himself to his infantile treadmill with increased vigour.

The above examination of a child of tender years took place while
Mr. and Mrs. Raddle and the cab-driver were having an altercation
concerning the fare: which, terminating at this point in favour of the
cabman, Mrs. Raddle came up tottering.

"Lauk, Mary Ann! what's the matter?" said Mrs. Cluppins.

"It's put me all over in such a tremble, Betsy," replied Mrs. Raddle.
"Raddle ain't like a man; he leaves everythink to me."

This was scarcely fair upon the unfortunate Mr. Raddle, who had been
thrust aside by his good lady in the commencement of the dispute, and
peremptorily commanded to hold his tongue. He had no opportunity of
defending himself, however, for Mrs. Raddle gave unequivocal signs
of fainting; which being perceived from the parlour window, Mrs.
Bardell, Mrs. Sanders, the lodger, and the lodger's servant, darted
precipitately out, and conveyed her into the house: all talking at
the same time, and giving utterance to various expressions of pity
and condolence, as if she were one of the most suffering mortals on
earth. Being conveyed into the front parlour, she was there deposited
on a sofa; and the lady from the first floor running up _to_ the first
floor, returned with a bottle of sal volatile, which, holding Mrs.
Raddle tight round the neck, she applied in all womanly kindness and
pity to her nose, until that lady with many plunges and struggles was
fain to declare herself decidedly better.

"Ah, poor thing!" said Mrs. Rogers, "I know what her feelin's is, too
well."

"Ah, poor thing! so do I," said Mrs. Sanders: and then all the ladies
moaned in unison, and said they knew what it was, and they pitied her
from their hearts, they did. Even the lodger's little servant, who was
thirteen years old, and three feet high, murmured her sympathy.

"But what's been the matter?" said Mrs. Bardell.

"Ah, what has decomposed you, ma'am?" inquired Mrs. Rogers.

"I have been a good deal flurried," replied Mrs. Raddle, in a
reproachful manner. Thereupon the ladies cast indignant looks at Mr.
Raddle.

"Why, the fact is," said that unhappy gentleman, stepping forward,
"when we alighted at this door, a dispute arose with the driver of the
cabrioily----" A loud scream from his wife, at the mention of this
word, rendered all further explanation inaudible.

"You'd better leave us to bring her round, Raddle," said Mrs. Cluppins.
"She'll never get better as long as you're here."

All the ladies concurred in this opinion; so Mr. Raddle was pushed
out of the room, and requested to give himself an airing in the back
yard. Which he did for about a quarter of an hour, when Mrs. Bardell
announced to him with a solemn face that he might come in now, but
that he must be very careful how he behaved towards his wife. She knew
he didn't mean to be unkind; but Mary Ann was very far from strong,
and, if he didn't take care, he might lose her when he least expected
it, which would be a very dreadful reflection for him afterwards; and
so on. All this Mr. Raddle heard with great submission, and presently
returned to the parlour in a most lamb-like manner.

"Why, Mrs. Roger, ma'am," said Mrs. Bardell, "you've never been
introduced, I declare! Mr. Raddle, ma'am; Mrs. Cluppins, ma'am; Mrs.
Raddle, ma'am."

"Which is Mrs. Cluppins's sister," suggested Mrs. Sanders.

"Oh, indeed!" said Mrs. Rogers, graciously; for she was the lodger, and
her servant was in waiting, so she was more gracious than intimate, in
right of her position. "Oh, indeed!"

Mrs. Raddle smiled sweetly, Mr. Raddle bowed, and Mrs. Cluppins said
"she was sure she was very happy to have a opportunity of being known
to a lady which she had heerd so much in favour of, as Mrs. Rogers."
A compliment which the last-named lady acknowledged with graceful
condescension.

"Well, Mr. Raddle," said Mrs. Bardell; "I'm sure you ought to feel very
much honoured at you and Tommy being the only gentlemen to escort so
many ladies all the way to the Spaniards, at Hampstead. Don't you think
he ought, Mrs. Rogers, ma'am?"

"Oh, certainly, ma'am," said Mrs. Rogers; after whom all the other
ladies responded "Oh, certainly."

"Of course I feel it, ma'am," said Mr. Raddle, rubbing his hands, and
evincing a slight tendency to brighten up a little. "Indeed, to tell
you the truth, I said, as we was a coming along in the cabrioily----"

At the recapitulation of the word which awakened so many painful
recollections, Mrs. Raddle applied her handkerchief to her eyes again,
and uttered a half-suppressed scream; so Mrs. Bardell frowned upon
Mr. Raddle, to intimate that he had better not say anything more, and
desired Mrs. Rogers's servant, with an air, to "put on the wine."

This was the signal for displaying the hidden treasures of the
closet, which comprised sundry plates of oranges and biscuits, and
a bottle of old crusted port--that at one and nine--with another of
the celebrated East India sherry at fourteen-pence, which were all
produced in honour of the lodger, and afforded unlimited satisfaction
to everybody. After great consternation had been excited in the mind
of Mrs. Cluppins, by an attempt on the part of Tommy to recount how he
had been cross-examined regarding the cupboard then in action (which
was fortunately nipped in the bud by his imbibing half a glass of the
old crusted "the wrong way," and thereby endangering his life for some
seconds), the party walked forth in quest of a Hampstead stage. This
was soon found, and in a couple of hours they all arrived safely in the
Spaniards' Tea-gardens, where the luckless Mr. Raddle's very first act
nearly occasioned his good lady a relapse; it being neither more nor
less than to order tea for seven, whereas (as the ladies one and all
remarked), what could have been easier than for Tommy to have drank
out of anybody's cup--or everybody's, if that was all--when the waiter
wasn't looking: which would have saved one head of tea, and the tea
just as good!

However, there was no help for it, and the tea-tray came, with seven
cups and saucers, and bread and butter on the same scale. Mrs. Bardell
was unanimously voted into the chair, and Mrs Rogers being stationed on
her right hand, and Mrs. Raddle on her left, the meal proceeded with
great merriment and success.

"How sweet the country is, to be sure!" sighed Mrs. Rogers; "I almost
wish I lived in it always."

"Oh, you wouldn't like that, ma'am," replied Mrs. Bardell, rather
hastily; for it was not at all advisable, with reference to the
lodgings, to encourage such notions; "you wouldn't like it, ma'am."

"Oh! I should think you was a deal too lively and sought-after to be
content with the country, ma'am," said little Mrs. Cluppins.

"Perhaps I am, ma'am. Perhaps I am," sighed the first-floor lodger.

"For lone people as have got nobody to care for them, or take care
of them, or as have been hurt in their mind, or that kind of thing,"
observed Mr. Raddle, plucking up a little cheerfulness, and looking
round, "the country is all very well. The country for a wounded spirit,
they say."

Now, of all the things in the world that the unfortunate man could have
said, any would have been preferable to this. Of course Mrs. Bardell
burst into tears, and requested to be led from the table instantly;
upon which the affectionate child began to cry too, most dismally.

"Would anybody believe, ma'am," exclaimed Mrs. Raddle, turning fiercely
to the first-floor lodger, "that a woman could be married to such a
unmanly creetur, which can tamper with a woman's feelings as he does,
every hour in the day, ma'am?"

"My dear," remonstrated Mr. Raddle, "I didn't mean anything, my dear."

"You didn't mean!" repeated Mrs. Raddle, with great scorn and contempt.
"Go away. I can't bear the sight on you, you brute."

"You must not flurry yourself, Mary Ann," interposed Mrs. Cluppins.
"You really must consider yourself, my dear, which you never do. Now go
away, Raddle, there's a good soul, or you'll only aggravate her."

"You had better take your tea by yourself, sir, indeed," said Mrs.
Rogers, again applying the smelling-bottle.

Mrs. Sanders, who according to custom was very busy with the bread and
butter, expressed the same opinion, and Mr. Raddle quietly retired.

After this, there was a great hoisting up of Master Bardell, who was
rather a large size for hugging, into his mother's arms: in which
operation he got his boots in the tea-board, and occasioned some
confusion among the cups and saucers. But that description of fainting
fits, which is contagious among ladies, seldom lasts long; so when he
had been well kissed and a little cried over, Mrs. Bardell recovered,
set him down again, wondered how she could have been so foolish, and
poured out some more tea.

It was at this moment that the sound of approaching wheels was heard,
and that the ladies, looking up, saw a hackney-coach stop at the
garden-gate.

"More company!" said Mrs. Sanders.

"It's a gentleman," said Mrs. Raddle.

"Well, if it ain't Mr. Jackson, the young man from Dodson and Fogg's!"
cried Mrs. Bardell. "Why, gracious! Surely Mr. Pickwick can't have paid
the damages."

"Or hoffered marriage!" said Mrs. Cluppins.

"Dear me, how slow the gentleman is," exclaimed Mrs. Rogers: "Why
doesn't he make haste!"

[Illustration: _A shabby man in black leggings_]

As the lady spoke these words, Mr. Jackson turned from the coach where
he had been addressing some observations to a shabby man in black
leggings, who had just emerged from the vehicle with a thick ash-stick
in his hand, and made his way to the place where the ladies were
seated; winding his hair round the brim of his hat as he came along.

"Is anything the matter? Has anything taken place, Mr. Jackson?" said
Mrs. Bardell, eagerly.

"Nothing whatever, ma'am," replied Mr. Jackson. "How de do, ladies? I
have to ask pardon, ladies, for intruding--but the law, ladies, the
law." With this apology Mr. Jackson smiled, made a comprehensive bow,
and gave his hair another wind. Mrs. Rogers whispered Mrs. Raddle that
he was really an elegant young man.

"I called in Goswell Street," resumed Jackson, "and hearing that you
were here, from the slavey, took a coach and came on. Our people want
you down in the city directly, Mrs. Bardell."

"Lor!" ejaculated that lady, starting at the sudden nature of the
communication.

"Yes," said Jackson, biting his lips. "It's very important and pressing
business which can't be postponed on any account. Indeed, Dodson
expressly said so to me, and so did Fogg. I've kept the coach on
purpose for you to go back in."

"How very strange!" exclaimed Mrs. Bardell.

The ladies agreed that it _was_ very strange, but were unanimously of
opinion that it must be very important, or Dodson and Fogg would never
have sent; and further, that the business being urgent, she ought to
repair to Dodson and Fogg's without any delay.

There was a certain degree of pride and importance about being wanted
by one's lawyers in such a monstrous hurry, that was by no means
displeasing to Mrs. Bardell, especially as it might be reasonably
supposed to enhance her consequence in the eyes of the first-floor
lodger. She simpered a little, affected extreme vexation and
hesitation, and at last arrived at the conclusion that she supposed she
must go.

"But won't you refresh yourself after your walk, Mr. Jackson?" said
Mrs. Bardell, persuasively.

"Why, really there ain't much time to lose," replied Jackson; "and I've
got a friend here," he continued, looking towards the man with the ash
stick.

"Oh, ask your friend to come here, sir," said Mrs. Bardell. "Pray ask
your friend here, sir."

"Why, thankee, I'd rather not," said Mr. Jackson, with some
embarrassment of manner. "He's not much used to ladies' society, and it
makes him bashful. If you'll order the waiter to deliver him anything
short, he won't drink it off at once, won't he--only try him!" Mr.
Jackson's fingers wandered playfully round his nose, at this portion of
his discourse, to warn his hearers that he was speaking ironically.

The waiter was at once despatched to the bashful gentleman, and the
bashful gentleman took something; Mr. Jackson also took something, and
the ladies took something, for hospitality's sake. Mr. Jackson then
said he was afraid it was time to go; upon which, Mrs. Sanders, Mrs.
Cluppins, and Tommy (who it was arranged should accompany Mrs. Bardell:
leaving the others to Mr. Raddle's protection), got into the coach.

"Isaac," said Jackson, as Mrs. Bardell prepared to get in: looking up
at the man with the ash stick, who was seated on the box, smoking a
cigar.

"Well?"

"_This_ is Mrs. Bardell."

"Oh, I knowed that long ago," said the man.

Mrs. Bardell got in, Mr. Jackson got in after her, and away they drove.
Mrs. Bardell could not help ruminating on what Mr. Jackson's friend had
said. Shrewd creatures, those lawyers. Lord bless us, how they find
people out!

"Sad thing about these costs of our people's, ain't it," said Jackson,
when Mrs. Cluppins and Mrs. Sanders had fallen asleep; "your bill of
costs, I mean?"

"I'm very sorry they can't get them," replied Mrs. Bardell. "But if you
law-gentlemen do these things on speculation, why you must get a loss
now and then, you know."

"You gave them a _cognovit_ for the amount of your costs, after the
trial, I'm told?" said Jackson.

"Yes. Just as a matter of form," replied Mrs. Bardell.

"Certainly," replied Jackson, drily. "Quite a matter of form. Quite."

On they drove, and Mrs. Bardell fell asleep. She was awakened, after
some time, by the stopping of the coach.

"Bless us!" said the lady. "Are we at Freeman's Court?"

"We're not going quite so far," replied Jackson. "Have the goodness to
step out."

Mrs. Bardell, not yet thoroughly awake, complied. It was a curious
place: a large wall, with a gate in the middle, and a gaslight burning
inside.

"Now, ladies," cried the man with the ash stick, looking into the
coach, and shaking Mrs. Sanders to wake her, "Come!" Rousing her
friend, Mrs. Sanders alighted. Mrs. Bardell, leaning on Jackson's arm,
and leading Tommy by the hand, had already entered the porch. They
followed.

The room they turned into was even more odd-looking than the porch.
Such a number of men standing about! And they stared so!

"What place is this?" inquired Mrs. Bardell, pausing.

"Only one of our public offices," replied Jackson, hurrying her through
a door, and looking round to see that the other women were following.
"Look sharp, Isaac!"

"Safe and sound," replied the man with the ash stick. The door swung
heavily after them, and they descended a small flight of steps.

"Here we are at last. All right and tight, Mrs. Bardell!" said Jackson,
looking exultingly around.

"What do you mean?" said Mrs. Bardell, with a palpitating heart.

"Just this," replied Jackson, drawing her a little on one side; "don't
be frightened, Mrs. Bardell. There never was a more delicate man than
Dodson, ma'am, or a more humane man than Fogg. It was their duty, in
the way of business, to take you in execution for them costs; but
they were anxious to spare your feelings as much as they could. What
a comfort it must be to you, to think how it's been done! This is the
Fleet, ma'am. Wish you good night, Mrs. Bardell. Good night, Tommy!"

As Jackson hurried away, in company with the man with the ash stick,
another man with a key in his hand, who had been looking on, led the
bewildered female to a second short flight of steps leading to the
doorway. Mrs. Bardell screamed violently; Tommy roared; Mrs. Cluppins
shrunk within herself; and Mrs. Sanders made off, without more ado.
For, there stood the injured Mr. Pickwick, taking his nightly allowance
of air; and beside him leant Samuel Weller, who, seeing Mrs. Bardell,
took his hat off with mock reverence, while his master turned
indignantly on his heel.

"Don't bother the woman," said the turnkey to Weller: "she's just come
in."

"A pris'ner" said Sam, quickly replacing his hat. "Who's the
plaintives? What for? Speak up, old feller."

"Dodson and Fogg," replied the man; "execution on cognovit for costs."

"Here Job, Job!" shouted Sam, dashing into the passage. "Run to Mr.
Perker's, Job. _I_ want him directly. I see some good in this. Here's a
game. Hooray! vere's the gov'nor."

But there was no reply to these inquiries, for Job had started
furiously off, the instant he received his commission, and Mrs. Bardell
had fainted in real downright earnest.



CHAPTER XIX

[Illustration]

  _Is chiefly devoted to Matters of Business, and the Temporal
    Advantage of Dodson and Fogg. Mr. Winkle reappears under
    extraordinary Circumstances. Mr. Pickwick's Benevolence proves
    stranger than his Obstinacy_


Job Trotter, abating nothing of his speed, ran up Holborn: sometimes
in the middle of the road, sometimes on the pavement, sometimes in the
gutter, as the chances of getting along varied with the press of men,
women, children, and coaches, in each division of the thoroughfare;
regardless of all obstacles, he stopped not for an instant until he
reached the gate of Gray's Inn. Notwithstanding all the expedition he
had used, however, the gate had been closed a good half-hour when he
reached it, and by the time he had discovered Mr. Perker's laundress,
who lived with a married daughter, who had bestowed her hand upon a
non-resident waiter, who occupied the one-pair of some number in some
street closely adjoining to some brewery somewhere behind Gray's Inn
Lane, it was within fifteen minutes of closing the prison for the
night. Mr. Lowten had still to be ferreted out from the back parlour of
the Magpie and Stump; and Job had scarcely accomplished this object,
and communicated Sam Weller's message, when the clock struck ten.

"There," said Lowten, "it's too late now. You can't get in to-night;
you've got the key of the street, my friend."

"Never mind me," replied Job. "I can sleep anywhere. But won't it be
better to see Mr. Perker to-night, so that we may be there the first
thing in the morning?"

"Why," responded Lowten, after a little consideration, "if it was in
anybody else's case, Perker wouldn't be best pleased at my going up to
his house; but as it's Mr. Pickwick's, I think I may venture to take a
cab and charge it to the office." Deciding on this line of conduct, Mr.
Lowten took up his hat, and, begging the assembled company to appoint
a deputy chairman during his temporary absence, led the way to the
nearest coachstand. Summoning the cab of most promising appearance, he
directed the driver to repair to Montague Place, Russell Square.

Mr. Perker had had a dinner party that day, as was testified by
the appearance of lights in the drawing-room windows, the sound of
an improved grand piano, and an improvable cabinet voice issuing
therefrom, and a rather overpowering smell of meat which pervaded
the steps and entry. In fact a couple of very good country agencies
happening to come up to town, at the same time, an agreeable little
party had been got together to meet them comprising Mr. Snicks the Life
Office Secretary, Mr. Prosee the eminent counsel, three solicitors,
one commissioner of bankrupts, a special pleader from the Temple, a
small-eyed peremptory young gentleman his pupil, who had written a
lively book about the law of demises, with a vast quantity of marginal
notes and references; and several other eminent and distinguished
personages. From this society, little Mr. Perker detached himself,
on his clerk being announced in a whisper; and repairing to the
dining-room, there found Mr. Lowten and Job Trotter looking very dim
and shadowy by the light of a kitchen candle, which the gentleman who
condescended to appear in plush shorts and cottons for a quarterly
stipend, had, with a becoming contempt for the clerk and all things
appertaining to "the office," placed upon the table.

"Now, Lowten," said little Mr. Perker, shutting the door, "what's the
matter? No important letter come in a parcel, is there?"

"No, sir," replied Lowten. "This is a messenger from Mr. Pickwick, sir."

"From Pickwick, eh?" said the little man, turning quickly to Job.
"Well, what is it?"

"Dodson and Fogg have taken Mrs. Bardell in execution for her costs,
sir," said Job.

"No!" exclaimed Perker, putting his hands in his pockets, and reclining
against the sideboard.

"Yes," said Job. "It seems they got a cognovit out of her, for the
amount of 'em, directly after the trial."

"By Jove!" said Perker, taking both hands out of his pockets, and
striking the knuckles of his right against the palm of his left,
emphatically, "those are the cleverest scamps I ever had anything to do
with!"

"The sharpest practitioners _I_ ever knew, sir," observed Lowten.

"Sharp!" echoed Perker. "There's no knowing where to have them."

"Very true, sir, there is not," replied Lowten; and then, both master
and man pondered for a few seconds, with animated countenances, as
if they were reflecting upon one of the most beautiful and ingenious
discoveries that the intellect of man had ever made. When they had in
some measure recovered from their trance of admiration, Job Trotter
discharged himself of the rest of his commission. Perker nodded his
head thoughtfully, and pulled out his watch.

"At ten precisely, I will be there," said the little man. "Sam is quite
right. Tell him so. Will you take a glass of wine, Lowten?"

"No, thank you, sir."

"You mean yes, I think," said the little man, turning to the sideboard
for a decanter and glasses.

As Lowten _did_ mean yes, he said no more on the subject, but inquired
of Job, in an audible whisper, whether the portrait of Perker which
hung opposite the fireplace, wasn't a wonderful likeness, to which Job
of course replied that it was. The wine being by this time poured out,
Lowten drank to Mrs. Perker and the children, and Job to Perker. The
gentleman in the plush shorts and cottons considering it no part of his
duty to show the people from the office out, consistently declined to
answer the bell, and they showed themselves out. The attorney betook
himself to his drawing-room, the clerk to the Magpie and Stump, and Job
to Covent Garden Market to spend the night in a vegetable basket.

Punctually at the appointed hour next morning, the good-humoured
little attorney tapped at Mr. Pickwick's door, which was opened with
great alacrity by Sam Weller.

"Mr. Perker, sir," said Sam, announcing the visitor to Mr. Pickwick,
who was sitting at the window in a thoughtful attitude. "Wery glad
you've looked in accidentally, sir. I rather think the gov'ner wants to
have a word and a half with you, sir."

Perker bestowed a look of intelligence on Sam, intimating that he
understood he was not to say he had been sent for: and beckoning him to
approach, whispered briefly in his ear.

"You don't mean that 'ere, sir?" said Sam, starting back in excessive
surprise.

Perker nodded and smiled.

Mr. Samuel Weller looked at the little lawyer, then at Mr. Pickwick,
then at the ceiling, then at Perker again; grinned, laughed outright,
and, finally, catching up his hat from the carpet, without further
explanation, disappeared.

"What does this mean?" inquired Mr. Pickwick, looking at Perker with
astonishment. "What has put Sam into this most extraordinary state?"

"Oh, nothing, nothing," replied Perker. "Come, my dear sir, draw up
your chair to the table. I have a good deal to say to you."

"What papers are those?" inquired Mr. Pickwick, as the little man
deposited on the table a small bundle of documents tied with red tape.

"The papers in Bardell and Pickwick," replied Perker, undoing the knot
with his teeth.

Mr. Pickwick grated the legs of his chair against the ground; and
throwing himself into it, folded his hands and looked sternly--if Mr.
Pickwick ever could look sternly--at his legal friend.

"You don't like to hear the name of the cause?" said the little man,
still busying himself with the knot.

"No, I do not indeed," replied Mr. Pickwick.

"Sorry for that," resumed Perker, "because it will form the subject of
our conversation."

"I would rather that the subject should be never mentioned between us,
Perker," interposed Mr. Pickwick, hastily.

"Pooh, pooh, my dear sir," said the little man, untying the bundle,
and glancing eagerly at Mr. Pickwick out of the corners of his eyes.
"It must be mentioned. I have come on purpose. Now, are you ready to
hear what I have to say, my dear sir? No hurry; if you are not, I
can wait. I have this morning's paper here. Your time shall be mine.
There!" Hereupon, the little man threw one leg over the other, and made
a show of beginning to read with great composure and application.

"Well, well," said Mr. Pickwick with a sigh, but softening into a smile
at the same time. "Say what you have to say; it's the old story, I
suppose?"

"With a difference, my dear sir; with a difference," rejoined Perker,
deliberately folding up the paper and putting it into his pocket again.
"Mrs. Bardell, the plaintiff in the action, is within these walls, sir."

"I know it," was Mr. Pickwick's reply.

"Very good," retorted Perker. "And you know how she comes here, I
suppose; I mean on what grounds, and at whose suit?"

"Yes; at least I have heard Sam's account of the matter," said Mr.
Pickwick, with affected carelessness.

"Sam's account of the matter," replied Mr. Perker, "is, I will venture
to say, a perfectly correct one. Well now, my dear sir, the first
question I have to ask, is, whether this woman is to remain here?"

"To remain here!" echoed Mr. Pickwick.

"To remain here, my dear sir," rejoined Perker, leaning back in his
chair and looking steadily at his client.

"How can you ask me?" said that gentleman. "It rests with Dodson and
Fogg; you know that very well."

"I know nothing of the kind," retorted Perker, firmly. "It does _not_
rest with Dodson and Fogg; you know the men, my dear sir, as well as I
do. It rest solely, wholly, and entirely with you."

"With me!" ejaculated Mr. Pickwick, rising nervously from his chair,
and reseating himself directly afterwards.

The little man gave a double knock on the lid of his snuff-box, opened
it, took a great pinch, shut it up again, and repeated the words, "With
you."

"I say, my dear sir," resumed the little man, who seemed to gather
confidence from the snuff; "I say that her speedy liberation or
perpetual imprisonment rests with you, and with you alone. Hear me out,
my dear sir, if you please, and do not be so very energetic, for it
will only put you into a perspiration and do no good whatever. I say,"
continued Perker, checking off each position on a different finger, as
he laid it down; "I say that nobody but you can rescue her from this
den of wretchedness; and that you can only do that, by paying the costs
of this suit--both of plaintiff and defendant--into the hands of these
Freeman's Court sharks. Now pray be quiet, my dear sir."

Mr. Pickwick, whose face had been undergoing most surprising changes
during this speech, and who was evidently on the verge of a strong
burst of indignation, calmed his wrath as well as he could. Perker,
strengthening his argumentative powers with another pinch of snuff,
proceeded.

"I have seen the woman, this morning. By paying the costs, you can
obtain a full release and discharge from the damages; and further--this
I know is a far greater object of consideration with you, my dear
sir--a voluntary statement, under her hand, in the form of a letter
to me, that this business was, from the very first, fomented, and
encouraged, and brought about, by these men, Dodson and Fogg: that she
deeply regrets ever having been the instrument of annoyance or injury
to you; and that she entreats me to intercede with you, and implore
your pardon."

"If I pay her costs for her," said Mr. Pickwick, indignantly. "A
valuable document, indeed!"

"No '_if_' in the case, my dear sir," said Perker, triumphantly. "There
is the very letter I speak of. Brought to my office by another woman
at nine o'clock this morning, before I had set foot in this place, or
held any communication with Mrs. Bardell, upon my honour." Selecting
the letter from the bundle, the little lawyer laid it at Mr. Pickwick's
elbow, and took snuff for two consecutive minutes, without winking.

"Is this all you have to say to me?" inquired Mr. Pickwick, mildly.

"Not quite," replied Perker. "I cannot undertake to say, at this
moment, whether the wording of the cognovit, the nature of the
ostensible consideration, and the proof we can get together about the
whole conduct of the suit, will be sufficient to justify an indictment
for conspiracy. I fear not, my dear sir; they are too clever for
that, I doubt. I do mean to say, however, that the whole facts, taken
together, will be sufficient to justify you, in the minds of all
reasonable men. And now, my dear sir, I put it to you. This one hundred
and fifty pounds, or whatever it may be--take it in round numbers--is
nothing to you. A jury has decided against you; well, their verdict
is wrong, but still they decided as they thought right, and it _is_
against you. You have now an opportunity, on easy terms, of placing
yourself in a much higher position than you ever could, by remaining
here; which would only be imputed, by people who didn't know you, to
sheer dogged, wrongheaded, brutal obstinacy: nothing else, my dear sir,
believe me. Can you hesitate to avail yourself of it, when it restores
you to your friends, your old pursuits, your health and amusements;
when it liberates your faithful and attached servant, whom you
otherwise doom to imprisonment for the whole of your life; and above
all, when it enables you to take the very magnanimous revenge--which I
know, my dear sir, is one after your own heart--of releasing this woman
from a scene of misery and debauchery to which no man should ever be
consigned, if I had my will, but the infliction of which on any woman,
is even more frightful and barbarous. Now I ask you, my dear sir, not
only as your legal adviser, but as your very true friend, will you let
slip the occasion of attaining all these objects, and doing all this
good, for the paltry consideration of a few pounds finding their way
into the pockets of a couple of rascals, to whom it makes no manner
of difference, except that the more they gain, the more they'll seek,
and so the sooner be led into some piece of knavery that must end in a
crash? I have put these considerations to you, my dear sir, very feebly
and imperfectly, but I ask you to think of them. Turn them over in your
mind as long as you please. I wait here most patiently for your answer."

Before Mr. Pickwick could reply; before Mr. Perker had taken one
twentieth part of the snuff with which so unusually long an address
imperatively required to be followed up; there was a low murmuring of
voices outside, and then a hesitating knock at the door.

"Dear, dear," exclaimed Mr. Pickwick, who had been evidently roused by
his friend's appeal; "what an annoyance that door is! Who is that?"

"Me, sir," replied Sam Weller, putting in his head.

"I can't speak to you just now, Sam," said Mr. Pickwick. "I am engaged
at this moment, Sam."

"Beg your pardon, sir," rejoined Mr. Weller. "But here's a lady here,
sir, as says she's somethin' wery partickler to disclose."

"I can't see any lady," replied Mr. Pickwick, whose mind was filled
with visions of Mrs. Bardell.

"I vouldn't make too sure o' that, sir," urged Mr. Weller, shaking his
head. "If you know'd who was near, sir, I rayther think you'd change
your note. As the hawk remarked to himself with a cheerful laugh, ven
he heard the robin redbreast a singin' round the corner."

"Who is it?" inquired Mr. Pickwick.

"Will you see her, sir?" asked Mr. Weller, holding the door in his hand
as if he had some curious live animal on the other side.

"I suppose I must," said Mr. Pickwick, looking at Perker.

"Well then, all in to begin!" cried Sam. "Sound the gong, draw up the
curtain, and enter the two con-spiraytors."

As Sam Weller spoke, he threw the door open, and there rushed
tumultuously into the room, Mr. Nathaniel Winkle: leading after him
by the hand, the identical young lady who at Dingley Dell had worn
the boots with the fur round the tops, and who, now a very pleasing
compound of blushes and confusion and lilac silk and a smart bonnet and
a rich lace veil, looked prettier than ever.

"Miss Arabella Allen!" exclaimed Mr. Pickwick, rising from his chair.

"No," replied Mr. Winkle, dropping on his knees, "Mrs. Winkle. Pardon,
my dear friend, pardon!"

Mr. Pickwick could scarcely believe the evidence of his senses, and
perhaps would not have done so, but for the corroborative testimony
afforded by the smiling countenance of Perker, and the bodily presence,
in the background, of Sam and the pretty housemaid, who appeared to
contemplate the proceedings with the liveliest satisfaction.

"Oh, Mr. Pickwick!" said Arabella, in a low voice, as if alarmed at the
silence. "Can you forgive my imprudence?"

Mr. Pickwick returned no verbal response to this appeal; but he took
off his spectacles in great haste, and seizing both the young lady's
hands in his, kissed her a great number of times--perhaps a greater
number than was absolutely necessary--and then, still retaining one of
her hands, told Mr. Winkle he was an audacious young dog, and bade him
get up. This, Mr. Winkle, who had been for some seconds scratching his
nose with the brim of his hat, in a penitent manner, did; whereupon Mr.
Pickwick slapped him on the back several times, and then shook hands
heartily with Perker, who, not to be behind-hand in the compliments
of the occasion, saluted both the bride and the pretty housemaid with
right good will, and, having wrung Mr. Winkle's hand most cordially,
wound up his demonstrations of joy by taking snuff enough to set any
half-dozen men, with ordinarily constructed noses, a sneezing for life.

"Why, my dear girl," said Mr. Pickwick, "how has all this come about?
Come! Sit down and let me hear all. How well she looks, doesn't she,
Perker?" added Mr. Pickwick, surveying Arabella's face with a look of
as much pride and exultation, as if she had been his daughter.

"Delightful, my dear sir," replied the little man. "If I were not a
married man myself, I should be disposed to envy you, you dog." Thus
expressing himself, the little lawyer gave Mr. Winkle a poke in the
chest, which that gentleman reciprocated; after which they both laughed
very loudly, but not so loudly as Mr. Samuel Weller, who had just
relieved his feelings by kissing the pretty housemaid, under cover of
the cupboard-door.

"I can never be grateful enough to you, Sam, I am sure," said Arabella,
with the sweetest smile imaginable. "I shall not forget your exertions
in the garden at Clifton."

"Don't say nothin' wotever about it, ma'am," replied Sam. "I only
assisted natur', ma'am; as the doctor said to the boy's mother, arter
he'd bled him to death."

"Mary, my dear, sit down," said Mr. Pickwick, cutting short these
compliments. "Now then; how long have you been married, eh?"

Arabella looked bashfully at her lord and master, who replied, "Only
three days."

"Only three days, eh?" said Mr. Pickwick. "Why, what have you been
doing these three months?"

"Ah, to be sure!" interposed Perker; "come! Account for this idleness.
You see Pickwick's only astonishment is, that it wasn't all over months
ago."

"Why the fact is," replied Mr. Winkle, looking at his blushing young
wife, "that I could not persuade Bella to run away, for a long time.
And when I had persuaded her, it was a long time more, before we could
find an opportunity. Mary had to give a month's warning too, before she
could leave her place next door, and we couldn't possibly have done it
without her assistance."

"Upon my word," exclaimed Mr. Pickwick, who by this time had resumed
his spectacles, and was looking from Arabella to Winkle, and from
Winkle to Arabella, with as much delight depicted in his countenance
as warm-heartedness and kindly feeling can communicate to the human
face: "Upon my word! you seem to have been very systematic in your
proceedings. And is your brother acquainted with all this, my dear?"

"Oh no, no," replied Arabella, changing colour. "Dear Mr. Pickwick, he
must only know it from you--from your lips alone. He is so violent, so
prejudiced, and has been so--so anxious in behalf of his friend, Mr.
Sawyer," added Arabella, looking down, "that I fear the consequences
dreadfully."

"Ah, to be sure," said Perker, gravely. "You must take the matter in
hand for them, my dear sir. These young men will respect you, when they
would listen to nobody else. You must prevent mischief, my dear sir.
Hot blood, hot blood." And the little man took a warning pinch, and
shook his head doubtfully.

"You forget, my love," said Mr. Pickwick, gently, "you forget that I am
a prisoner."

"No, indeed I do not, my dear sir," replied Arabella. "I never have
forgotten it. I have never ceased to think how great your sufferings
must have been in this shocking place. But I hoped that what no
consideration for yourself would induce you to do, a regard to our
happiness might. If my brother hears of this, first, from you, I feel
certain we shall be reconciled. He is my only relation in the world,
Mr. Pickwick, and unless you plead for me I fear I have lost even him.
I have done wrong, very, very wrong, I know." Here poor Arabella hid
her face in her handkerchief, and wept bitterly.

Mr. Pickwick's nature was a good deal worked upon by these same tears;
but when Mrs. Winkle, drying her eyes, took to coaxing and entreating
in the sweetest tones of a very sweet voice, he became particularly
restless, and evidently undecided how to act. As was evinced by sundry
nervous rubbings of his spectacle-glasses, nose, tights, head, and
gaiters.

Taking advantage of these symptoms of indecision, Mr. Perker (to
whom, it appeared, the young couple had driven straight that morning)
urged with legal point and shrewdness that Mr. Winkle senior was
still unacquainted with the important rise in life's flight of steps
which his son had taken; that the future expectations of the said son
depended entirely upon the said Winkle senior continuing to regard him
with undiminished feelings of affection and attachment, which it was
very unlikely he would, if this great event were long kept a secret
from him; that Mr. Pickwick, repairing to Bristol to seek Mr. Allen,
might, with equal reason, repair to Birmingham to seek Mr. Winkle
senior; lastly, that Mr. Winkle senior had good right and title to
consider Mr. Pickwick as in some degree the guardian and adviser of his
son, and that it consequently behoved that gentleman, and was indeed
due to his personal character, to acquaint the aforesaid Winkle senior
personally, and by word of mouth, with the whole circumstances of the
case, and with the share he had taken in the transaction.

Mr. Tupman and Mr. Snodgrass arrived, most opportunely, in this stage
of the pleadings, and as it was necessary to explain to them all that
had occurred, together with the various reasons pro and con, the whole
of the arguments were gone over again, after which everybody urged
every argument in his own way, and at his own length. And at last Mr.
Pickwick, fairly argued and remonstrated out of all his resolutions,
and being in imminent danger of being argued and remonstrated out of
his wits, caught Arabella in his arms, and declaring that she was a
very amiable creature, and that he didn't know how it was, but he had
always been very fond of her from the first, said he could never find
it in his heart to stand in the way of young people's happiness, and
they might do with him as they pleased.

Mr. Weller's first act, on hearing this concession, was to despatch Job
Trotter to the illustrious Mr. Pell, with an authority to deliver to
the bearer the formal discharge which his prudent parent had had the
foresight to leave in the hands of that learned gentleman, in case it
should be, at any time, required on an emergency; his next proceeding
was, to invest his whole stock of ready money in the purchase of
five-and-twenty gallons of mild porter: which he himself dispensed on
the racket-ground to everybody who would partake of it; this done,
he hurra'd in divers parts of the building until he lost his voice,
and then quietly relapsed into his usual collected and philosophical
condition.

At three o'clock that afternoon, Mr. Pickwick took a last look at his
little room, and made his way, as well as he could, through the throng
of debtors who pressed eagerly forward to shake him by the hand, until
he reached the lodge steps. He turned here, to look about him, and his
eyes lightened as he did so. In all the crowd of wan, emaciated faces,
he saw not one which was not the happier for his sympathy and charity.

"Perker," said Mr. Pickwick, beckoning one young man towards him, "this
is Mr. Jingle, whom I spoke to you about."

"Very good, my dear sir," replied Perker, looking hard at Jingle.
"You will see me again, young man, to-morrow. I hope you may live to
remember and feel deeply what I shall have to communicate, sir."

Jingle bowed respectfully, trembled very much as he took Mr. Pickwick's
proffered hand, and withdrew.

"Job you know, I think?" said Mr. Pickwick, presenting that gentleman.

"I know the rascal," replied Perker, good-humouredly. "See after your
friend, and be in the way to-morrow at one. Do you hear? Now, is there
anything more?"

"Nothing," rejoined Mr. Pickwick. "You have delivered the little parcel
I gave you for your old landlord, Sam?"

"I have, sir," replied Sam. "He bust out a cryin', sir, and said you
wos wery gen'rous and thoughtful, and he only wished you could have him
innokilated for a gallopin' consumption, for his old friend, as had
lived here so long, wos dead, and he'd noweres to look for another."

"Poor fellow, poor fellow!" said Mr. Pickwick. "God bless you, my
friends!"

As Mr. Pickwick uttered this adieu, the crowd raised a loud shout. Many
among them were pressing forward to shake him by the hand again, when
he drew his arm through Perker's, and hurried from the prison: far more
sad and melancholy, for the moment, than when he had first entered it.
Alas! how many sad and unhappy beings had he left behind!

A happy evening was that, for, at least, one party in the George and
Vulture; and light and cheerful were two of the hearts that emerged
from its hospitable door next morning. The owners thereof were Mr.
Pickwick and Sam Weller, the former of whom was speedily deposited
inside a comfortable post coach, with a little dickey behind, in which
the latter mounted with great agility.

"Sir," called out Mr. Weller to his master.

"Well, Sam?" replied Mr. Pickwick, thrusting his head out of the window.

"I wish them horses had been three months and better in the Fleet, sir."

"Why, Sam?" inquired Mr. Pickwick.

"Vy, sir," exclaimed Mr. Weller, rubbing his hands, "how they would go
if they had been!"



CHAPTER XX

[Illustration]

  _Relates how Mr. Pickwick, with the assistance of Samuel Weller,
    essayed to soften the Heart of Mr. Benjamin Allen, and to mollify
    the Wrath of Mr. Robert Sawyer_


Mr. Ben Allen and Mr. Bob Sawyer sat together in the little surgery
behind the shop, discussing minced veal and future prospects, when
the discourse, not unnaturally, turned upon the practice acquired by
Bob the aforesaid, and his present chances of deriving a competent
independence from the honourable profession to which he had devoted
himself.

"--Which, I think," observed Mr. Bob Sawyer, pursuing the thread of the
subject, "which I think, Ben, are rather dubious."

"What's rather dubious?" inquired Mr. Ben Allen, at the same time
sharpening his intellects with a draught of beer. "What's dubious?"

"Why, the chances," responded Mr. Bob Sawyer.

"I forgot," said Mr. Ben Allen. "The beer has reminded me that I
forgot, Bob--yes; they _are_ dubious."

"It's wonderful how the poor people patronise me," said Mr. Bob Sawyer,
reflectively. "They knock me up at all hours of the night; they take
medicine to an extent which I should have conceived impossible; they
put on blisters and leeches with a perseverance worthy of a better
cause; they make additions to their families, in a manner which is
quite awful. Six of those last-named little promissory notes, all due
on the same day, Ben, and all entrusted to me!"

"It's very gratifying, isn't it?" said Mr. Ben Allen, holding his plate
for some more minced veal.

"Oh, very," replied Bob; "only not quite so much so, as the confidence
of patients with a shilling or two to spare would be. This business was
capitally described in the advertisement, Ben. It is a practice, a very
extensive practice--and that's all."

"Bob," said Mr. Ben Allen, laying down his knife and fork, and fixing
his eyes on the visage of his friend: "Bob, I'll tell you what it is."

"What is it?" inquired Mr. Bob Sawyer.

"You must make yourself, with as little delay as possible, master of
Arabella's one thousand pounds."

"Three per cent. consolidated Bank annuities, now standing in her
name in the book or books of the Governor and Company of the Bank of
England," added Bob Sawyer, in legal phraseology.

"Exactly so," said Ben. "She has it when she comes of age, or marries.
She wants a year of coming of age, and if you plucked up a spirit she
needn't want a month of being married."

"She's a very charming and delightful creature," quoth Mr. Robert
Sawyer, in reply; "and has only one fault that I know of, Ben. It
happens, unfortunately, that that single blemish is a want of taste.
She don't like me."

"It's my opinion that she don't know what she does like," said Mr. Ben
Allen, contemptuously.

"Perhaps not," remarked Mr. Bob Sawyer. "But it's my opinion that she
does know what she doesn't like, and that's of more importance."

"I wish," said Mr. Ben Allen, setting his teeth together, and speaking
more like a savage warrior who fed on raw wolf's flesh which he carved
with his fingers, than a peaceable young gentleman who ate minced veal
with a knife and fork, "I wish I knew whether any rascal really has
been tampering with her, and attempting to engage her affections. I
think I should assassinate him, Bob."

"I'd put a bullet in him, if I found him out," said Mr. Sawyer,
stopping in the course of a long draught of beer, and looking
malignantly out of the porter pot. "If that didn't do his business, I'd
extract it afterwards, and kill him that way."

Mr. Benjamin Allen gazed abstractedly on his friend for some minutes in
silence, and then said:

"You have never proposed to her, point-blank, Bob?"

"No. Because I saw it would be of no use," replied Mr. Robert Sawyer.

"You shall do it, before you are twenty-four hours older," retorted
Ben, with desperate calmness. "She _shall_ have you, or I'll know the
reason why. I'll exert my authority."

"Well," said Mr. Bob Sawyer, "we shall see."

"We _shall_ see, my friend," replied Mr. Ben Allen fiercely. He paused
for a few seconds, and added in a voice broken by emotion, "You have
loved her from a child, my friend. You loved her when we were boys at
school together, and, even then, she was wayward, and slighted your
young feelings. Do you recollect, with all the eagerness of a child's
love, one day pressing upon her acceptance two small caraway-seed
biscuits and one sweet apple, neatly folded into a circular parcel with
the leaf of a copybook?"

"I do," replied Bob Sawyer.

"She slighted that, I think?" said Ben Allen.

"She did," rejoined Bob. "She said I had kept the parcel so long in the
pockets of my corduroys that the apple was unpleasantly warm."

"I remember," said Mr. Allen, gloomily. "Upon which we ate it
ourselves, in alternate bites."

Bob Sawyer intimated his recollection of the circumstance last alluded
to, by a melancholy frown; and the two friends remained for some time
absorbed, each in his own meditations.

While these observations were being exchanged between Mr. Bob Sawyer
and Mr. Benjamin Allen; and while the boy in the grey livery,
marvelling at the unwonted prolongation of the dinner, cast an anxious
look, from time to time, towards the glass door, distracted by
inward misgivings regarding the amount of minced veal which would be
ultimately reserved for his individual cravings; there rolled soberly
on through the streets of Bristol, a private fly, painted of a sad
green colour, drawn by a chubby sort of brown horse, and driven by
a surly-looking man with his legs dressed like the legs of a groom,
and his body attired in the coat of a coachman. Such appearances are
common to many vehicles belonging to, and maintained by, old ladies
of economic habits; and in this vehicle sat an old lady who was its
mistress and proprietor.

"Martin!" said the old lady, calling to the surly man, out of the front
window.

"Well?" said the surly man, touching his hat to the old lady.

"Mr. Sawyer's," said the old lady.

"I was going there," said the surly man.

The old lady nodded the satisfaction which this proof of the surly
man's foresight imparted to her feelings; and the surly man giving a
smart lash to the chubby horse, they all repaired to Mr. Bob Sawyer's
together.

"Martin!" said the old lady, when the fly stopped at the door of Mr.
Robert Sawyer late Nockemorf.

"Well?" said Martin.

"Ask the lad to step out and mind the horse."

"I'm going to mind the horse myself," said Martin, laying his whip on
the roof of the fly.

"I can't permit it on any account," said the old lady; "your testimony
will be very important, and I must take you into the house with me. You
must not stir from my side during the whole interview. Do you hear?"

"I hear," replied Martin.

"Well; what are you stopping for?"

"Nothing," replied Martin. So saying, the surly man leisurely descended
from the wheel, on which he had been poising himself on the tips of the
toes of his right foot, and having summoned the boy in the grey livery,
opened the coach-door, flung down the steps, and thrusting in a hand
enveloped in a dark wash-leather glove, pulled out the old lady with as
much concern in his manner as if she were a bandbox.

"Dear me!" exclaimed the old lady. "I am so flurried, now I have got
here, Martin, that I'm all in a tremble."

Mr. Martin coughed behind the dark wash-leather glove, but expressed
no sympathy; so the old lady, composing herself, trotted up Mr. Bob
Sawyer's steps, and Mr. Martin followed. Immediately on the old lady's
entering the shop, Mr. Benjamin Allen and Mr. Bob Sawyer, who had been
putting the spirits and water out of sight, and upsetting nauseous
drugs to take off the smell of the tobacco-smoke, issued hastily forth
in a transport of pleasure and affection.

"My dear aunt," exclaimed Mr. Ben Allen, "how kind of you to look in
upon us! Mr. Sawyer, aunt; my friend Mr. Bob Sawyer whom I have spoken
to you about, regarding--you know, aunt." And here Mr. Ben Allen, who
was not at the moment extraordinarily sober, added the word "Arabella,"
in what was meant to be a whisper, but which was an especially audible
and distinct tone of speech, which nobody could avoid hearing, if
anybody were so disposed.

"My dear Benjamin," said the old lady, struggling with a great
shortness of breath, and trembling from head to foot: "don't be
alarmed, my dear, but I think I had better speak to Mr. Sawyer alone
for a moment. Only for one moment."

"Bob," said Mr. Allen, "will you take my aunt into the surgery?"

"Certainly," responded Bob, in a most professional voice. "Step this
way, my dear ma'am. Don't be frightened, ma'am. We shall be able to set
you to rights in a very short time, I have no doubt, ma'am. Here, my
dear ma'am. Now then!" With this, Mr. Bob Sawyer, having handed the old
lady to a chair, shut the door, drew another chair close to her, and
waited to hear detailed the symptoms of some disorder from which he saw
in perspective a long train of profits and advantages.

The first thing the old lady did, was to shake her head a great many
times and begin to cry.

"Nervous," said Bob Sawyer, complacently. "Camphor-julep and water
three times a day, and composing draught at night."

"I don't know how to begin, Mr. Sawyer," said the old lady. "It is so
very painful and distressing."

"You need not begin, ma'am," rejoined Mr. Bob Sawyer. "I can anticipate
all you would say. The head is in fault."

"I should be very sorry to think it was the heart," said the old lady,
with a slight groan.

"Not the slightest danger of that, ma'am," replied Bob Sawyer. "The
stomach is the primary cause."

"Mr. Sawyer!" exclaimed the old lady, starting.

"Not the least doubt of it, ma'am," rejoined Bob, looking wondrous
wise. "Medicine, in time, my dear ma'am, would have prevented it all."

"Mr. Sawyer," said the old lady, more flurried than before, "this
conduct is either great impertinence to one in my situation sir, or
it arises from your not understanding the object of my visit. If it
had been in the power of medicine, or any foresight I could have used,
to prevent what has occurred, I should certainly have done so. I had
better see my nephew at once," said the old lady, twirling her reticule
indignantly, and rising as she spoke.

"Stop a moment, ma'am," said Bob Sawyer; "I'm afraid I have not
understood you. What _is_ the matter, ma'am?"

"My niece, Mr. Sawyer," said the old lady: "your friend's sister."

"Yes, ma'am," said Bob, all impatience; for the old lady, although much
agitated, spoke with the most tantalising deliberation, as old ladies
often do. "Yes, ma'am."

"Left my home, Mr. Sawyer, three days ago, on a pretended visit to my
sister, another aunt of hers, who keeps the large boarding-school just
beyond the third mile-stone where there is a very large laburnum tree
and an oak gate," said the old lady, stopping in this place to dry her
eyes.

"Oh, devil take the laburnum tree! ma'am," said Bob, quite forgetting
his professional dignity in his anxiety. "Get on a little faster; put a
little more steam on, ma'am, pray."

"This morning," said the old lady, slowly, "this morning she----"

"She came back, ma'am, I suppose," said Bob, with great animation. "Did
she come back?"

"No, she did not; she wrote," replied the old lady.

"What did she say?" inquired Bob, eagerly.

"She said, Mr. Sawyer," replied the old lady,--"and it is this I
want you to prepare Benjamin's mind for, gently and by degrees; she
said that she was--I have got the letter in my pocket, Mr. Sawyer, but
my glasses are in the carriage, and I should only waste your time if I
attempted to point out the passage to you, without them; she said, in
short, Mr. Sawyer, that she was married."

"What!" said, or rather shouted, Mr. Bob Sawyer.

"Married," repeated the old lady.

Mr. Bob Sawyer stopped to hear no more; but darting from the surgery
into the outer shop, cried in a stentorian voice, "Ben, my boy, she's
bolted!"

Mr. Ben Allen, who had been slumbering behind the counter, with his
head half a foot or so below his knees, no sooner heard this appalling
communication, than he made a precipitate rush at Mr. Martin, and,
twisting his hand in the neckcloth of that taciturn servitor, expressed
an intention of choking him where he stood. This intention, with a
promptitude often the effect of desperation, he at once commenced
carrying into execution, with much vigour and surgical skill.

Mr. Martin, who was a man of few words and possessed but little
power of eloquence or persuasion, submitted to this operation with
a very calm and agreeable expression of countenance, for some
seconds; finding, however, that it threatened speedily to lead to a
result, which would place it beyond his power to claim any wages,
board or otherwise, in all time to come, he muttered an inarticulate
remonstrance and felled Mr. Benjamin Allen to the ground. As that
gentleman had his hands entangled in his cravat, he had no alternative
but to follow him to the floor. There they both lay struggling, when
the shop door opened, and the party was increased by the arrival of two
most unexpected visitors; to wit, Mr. Pickwick and Mr. Samuel Weller.

[Illustration: _He felled Mr. Benjamin Allen to the ground_]

The impression at once produced on Mr. Weller's mind by what he
saw, was, that Mr. Martin was hired by the establishment of Sawyer
late Nockemorf, to take strong medicine, or to go into fits and be
experimentalised upon, or to swallow poison now and then with the view
of testing the efficacy of some new antidotes, or to do something or
other to promote the great science of medicine, and gratify the ardent
spirit of inquiry burning in the bosoms of its two young professors.
So without presuming to interfere, Sam stood perfectly still, and
looked on, as if he were mightily interested in the result of the then
pending experiment. Not so Mr. Pickwick. He at once threw himself on
the astonished combatants, with his accustomed energy, and loudly
called upon the bystanders to interpose.

This roused Mr. Bob Sawyer, who had been hitherto quite paralysed by
the frenzy of his companion. With that gentleman's assistance, Mr.
Pickwick raised Ben Allen to his feet. Mr. Martin, finding himself
alone on the floor, got up, and looked about him.

"Mr. Allen," said Mr. Pickwick, "what is the matter, sir?"

"Never mind, sir!" replied Mr. Allen, with haughty defiance.

"What is it?" inquired Mr. Pickwick, looking at Bob Sawyer. "Is he
unwell?"

Before Bob could reply, Mr. Ben Allen seized Mr. Pickwick by the hand,
and murmured in sorrowful accents, "My sister, my dear sir; my sister."

"Oh, is that all?" said Mr. Pickwick. "We shall easily arrange that
matter, I hope. Your sister is safe and well, and I am here, my dear
sir, to----"

"Sorry to do anythin' as may cause an interruption to such wery
pleasant proceedin's, as the king said ven he dissolved the
parliament," interposed Mr. Weller, who had been peeping through
the glass door; "but there's another experiment here, sir. Here's a
wenerable old lady a lyin' on the carpet waiting for dissection, or
galwinism, or some other rewivin' and scientific inwention."

"I forgot," exclaimed Mr. Ben Allen. "It is my aunt."

"Dear me!" said Mr. Pickwick. "Poor lady! Gently, Sam, gently."

"Strange sitivation for one o' the family," observed Sam Weller,
hoisting the aunt into a chair. "Now, depitty Sawbones, bring out the
wollatilly!"

The latter observation was addressed to the boy in grey, who, having
handed over the fly to the care of the street-keeper, had come back to
see what all the noise was about. Between the boy in grey, and Mr. Bob
Sawyer, and Mr. Benjamin Allen (who having frightened his aunt into a
fainting fit, was affectionately solicitous for her recovery), the old
lady was, at length, restored to consciousness; then Mr. Ben Allen,
turning with a puzzled countenance to Mr. Pickwick, asked him what he
was about to say, when he had been so alarmingly interrupted.

"We are all friends here, I presume?" said Mr. Pickwick, clearing
his voice, and looking towards the man of few words with the surly
countenance who drove the fly with the chubby horse.

This reminded Mr. Bob Sawyer that the boy in grey was looking on, with
eyes wide open, and greedy ears. The incipient chemist having been
lifted up by his coat collar, and dropped outside the door, Bob Sawyer
assured Mr. Pickwick that he might speak without reserve.

"Your sister, my dear sir," said Mr. Pickwick, turning to Benjamin
Allen, "is in London; well and happy."

"Her happiness is no object to me, sir," said Mr. Benjamin Allen, with
a flourish of the hand.

"Her husband _is_ an object to _me_, sir," said Bob Sawyer. "He shall
be an object to me sir, at twelve paces, and a very pretty object
I'll make of him, sir--a mean-spirited scoundrel!" This, as it stood,
was a very pretty denunciation, and magnanimous withal; but Mr. Bob
Sawyer rather weakened its effect, by winding up with some general
observations concerning the punching of heads and knocking out of eyes,
which were commonplace by comparison.

"Stay, sir," said Mr. Pickwick; "before you apply those epithets to the
gentleman in question, consider, dispassionately, the extent of his
fault, and above all remember that he is a friend of mine."

"What!" said Mr. Bob Sawyer.

"His name!" cried Ben Allen. "His name!"

"Mr. Nathaniel Winkle," said Mr. Pickwick.

Mr. Benjamin Allen deliberately crushed his spectacles beneath the
heel of his boot, and having picked up the pieces, and put them into
three separate pockets, folded his arms, bit his lips, and looked in a
threatening manner at the bland features of Mr. Pickwick.

"Then it's you, is it, sir, who have encouraged and brought about this
match?" inquired Mr. Benjamin Allen at length.

"And it's this gentleman's servant, I suppose," interrupted the old
lady, "who has been skulking about my house, and endeavouring to entrap
my servants to conspire against their mistress. Martin!"

"Well?" said the surly man, coming forward.

"Is that the young man you saw in the lane, whom you told me about,
this morning?"

Mr. Martin, who, as it has already appeared, was a man of few words,
looked at Sam Weller, nodded his head, and growled forth, "That's
the man!" Mr. Weller, who was never proud, gave a smile of friendly
recognition as his eyes encountered those of the surly groom, and
admitted, in courteous terms, that he had "knowed him afore."

"And this is the faithful creature," exclaimed Mr. Ben Allen, "whom I
had nearly suffocated! Mr. Pickwick, how dare you allow your fellow to
be employed in the abduction of my sister? I demand that you explain
this matter, sir."

"Explain it, sir!" cried Mr. Bob Sawyer, fiercely.

"It's a conspiracy," said Ben Allen.

"A regular plant," added Mr. Bob Sawyer.

"A disgraceful imposition," observed the old lady.

"Nothing but a do," remarked Martin.

"Pray hear me," urged Mr. Pickwick, as Mr. Ben Allen fell into a chair
that patients were bled in, and gave way to his pocket-handkerchief.
"I have rendered no assistance in this matter, beyond that of being
present at one interview between the young people, which I could not
prevent, and from which I conceived my presence would remove any slight
colouring of impropriety that it might otherwise have had; this is the
whole share I have taken in the transaction, and I had no suspicion
that an immediate marriage was even contemplated. Though mind," added
Mr. Pickwick, hastily checking himself, "mind I do not say I should
have prevented it, if I _had_ known that it was intended."

"You hear that, all of you; you hear that?" said Mr. Benjamin Allen.

"I hope they do," mildly observed Mr. Pickwick, looking round, "and,"
added that gentleman: his colour mounting as he spoke: "I hope they
hear this, sir, also. That from what has been stated to me, sir, I
assert that you were by no means justified in attempting to force your
sister's inclinations as you did, and that you should rather have
endeavoured by your kindness and forbearance to have supplied the place
of other nearer relations whom she has never known, from a child. As
regards my young friend, I must beg to add, that in every point of
worldly advantage, he is, at least, on an equal footing with yourself,
if not on a much better one, and that unless I hear this question
discussed with becoming temper and moderation, I decline hearing any
more said upon the subject."

"I wish to make a wery few remarks in addition to wot has been put
forard by the honourable gen'l'm'n as has jist give over," said Mr.
Weller, stepping forth, "which is this here: a indiwidual in company
has called me a feller."

"That has nothing whatever to do with the matter, Sam," interposed Mr.
Pickwick. "Pray hold your tongue."

"I ain't a goin' to say nothin' on that ere pint, sir," replied Sam,
"but merely this here. P'raps that gen'l'm'n may think as there wos a
priory 'tachment; but there worn't nothin' o' the sort, for the young
lady said, in the wery beginnin' o' keepin' company, that she couldn't
abide him. Nobody's cut him out, and it 'ud ha' been jist the wery
same for him if the young lady had never seen Mr. Vinkle. That's wot I
wished to say, sir, and I hope I've now made that 'ere gen'l'm'n's mind
easy."

A short pause followed these consolatory remarks of Mr. Weller. Then
Mr. Ben Allen, rising from his chair, protested that he would never see
Arabella's face again: while Mr. Bob Sawyer, despite Sam's flattering
assurance, vowed dreadful vengeance on the happy bridegroom.

But, just when matters were at their height, and threatening to remain
so, Mr. Pickwick found a powerful assistant in the old lady, who,
evidently much struck by the mode in which he had advocated her niece's
cause, ventured to approach Mr. Benjamin Allen with a few comforting
reflections, of which the chief were, that after all, perhaps, it
was well it was no worse; the least said the soonest mended, and upon
her word she did not know that it was so very bad after all; what was
over couldn't be begun, and what couldn't be cured must be endured:
with various other assurances of the like novel and strengthening
description. To all of these, Mr. Benjamin Allen replied that he meant
no disrespect to his aunt, or anybody there, but if it were all the
same to them, and they would allow him to have his own way, he would
rather have the pleasure of hating his sister till death, and after it.

At length, when this determination had been announced half a hundred
times, the old lady, suddenly bridling up and looking very majestic,
wished to know what she had done that no respect was to be paid to her
years or station, and that she should be obliged to beg and pray, in
that way, of her own nephew, whom she remembered about five-and-twenty
years before he was born, and whom she had known personally, when he
hadn't a tooth in his head? To say nothing of her presence on the first
occasion of his having his hair cut, and assistance at numerous other
times and ceremonies during his babyhood, of sufficient importance to
found a claim upon his affection, obedience, and sympathies, for ever.

While the good lady was bestowing this objurgation on Mr. Ben Allen,
Bob Sawyer and Mr. Pickwick had retired in close conversation to the
inner room, where Mr. Sawyer was observed to apply himself several
times to the mouth of a black bottle, under the influence of which, his
features gradually assumed a cheerful, and even jovial expression. And
at last he emerged from the room, bottle in hand, and, remarking that
he was very sorry to say he had been making a fool of himself, begged
to propose the health and happiness of Mr. and Mrs. Winkle, whose
felicity, so far from envying, he would be the first to congratulate
them upon. Hearing this, Mr. Ben Allen suddenly arose from his chair,
and, seizing the black bottle, drank the toast so heartily, that, the
liquor being strong, he nearly became as black in the face as the
bottle. Finally, the black bottle went round till it was empty, and
there was so much shaking of hands and interchanging of compliments,
that even the metal-visaged Mr. Martin condescended to smile.

"And now," said Bob Sawyer, rubbing his hands, "we'll have a jolly
night."

"I am sorry," said Mr. Pickwick, "that I must return to my inn. I have
not been accustomed to fatigue lately, and my journey has tired me
exceedingly."

"You'll take some tea, Mr. Pickwick?" said the old lady, with
irresistible sweetness.

"Thank you, I would rather not," replied that gentleman. The truth is,
that the old lady's evidently increasing admiration was Mr. Pickwick's
principal inducement for going away. He thought of Mrs. Bardell; and
every glance of the old lady's eyes threw him into a cold perspiration.

As Mr. Pickwick could by no means be prevailed upon to stay, it was
arranged at once, on his own proposition, that Mr. Benjamin Allen
should accompany him on his journey to the elder Mr. Winkle's, and that
the coach should be at the door at nine o'clock next morning. He then
took his leave, and, followed by Samuel Weller, repaired to the Bush.
It is worthy of remark, that Mr. Martin's face was horribly convulsed
as he shook hands with Sam at parting, and that he gave vent to a smile
and an oath simultaneously: from which tokens it has been inferred by
those who were best acquainted with that gentleman's peculiarities,
that he expressed himself much pleased with Mr. Weller's society, and
requested the honour of his further acquaintance.

"Shall I order a private room, sir?" inquired Sam, when they reached
the Bush.

"Why, no, Sam," replied Mr. Pickwick; "as I dined in the coffee-room,
and shall go to bed soon, it is hardly worth while. See who there is in
the travellers' room, Sam."

Mr. Weller departed on his errand, and presently returned to say, there
was only a gentleman with one eye; and that he and the landlord were
drinking a bowl of bishop together.

"I will join them," said Mr. Pickwick.

"He's a queer customer, the vun-eyed vun, sir," observed Mr. Weller, as
he led the way. "He's a gammonin' that 'ere landlord, he is, sir, till
he don't rightly know vether he's a standing on the soles of his boots
or the crown of his hat."

The individual to whom this observation referred, was sitting at the
upper end of the room when Mr. Pickwick entered, and was smoking a
large Dutch pipe, with his eye intently fixed on the round face of the
landlord: a jolly-looking old personage, to whom he had recently been
relating some tale of wonder, as was testified by sundry disjointed
exclamations of, "Well, I wouldn't have believed it! The strangest
thing I ever heard! Couldn't have supposed it possible!" and other
expressions of astonishment which burst spontaneously from his lips, as
he returned the fixed gaze of the one-eyed man.

"Servant, sir," said the one-eyed man to Mr. Pickwick. "Fine night,
sir."

"Very much so indeed," replied Mr. Pickwick, as the waiter placed a
small decanter of brandy and some hot water before him.

While Mr. Pickwick was mixing his brandy and water, the one-eyed man
looked round at him earnestly, from time to time, and at length said:

"I think I've seen you before."

"I don't recollect you," rejoined Mr. Pickwick.

"I daresay not," said the one-eyed man. "You didn't know me, but I knew
two friends of yours that were stopping at the Peacock at Eatanswill,
at the time of the Election."

"Oh, indeed!" exclaimed Mr. Pickwick.

"Yes," rejoined the one-eyed man. "I mentioned a little circumstance to
them about a friend of mine of the name of Tom Smart. Perhaps you have
heard them speaking of it."

"Often," rejoined Mr. Pickwick, smiling. "He was your uncle, I think?"

"No, no; only a friend of my uncle's," replied the one-eyed man.

"He was a wonderful man, that uncle of yours, though," remarked the
landlord, shaking his head.

"Well, I think he was, I think I may say he was," answered the one-eyed
man. "I could tell you a story about that same uncle, gentlemen, that
would rather surprise you."

"Could you?" said Mr. Pickwick. "Let us hear it, by all means."

The one-eyed bagman ladled out a glass of negus from the bowl, and
drank it; smoked a long whiff out of the Dutch pipe; and then, calling
to Sam Weller, who was lingering near the door, that he needn't go
away, unless he wanted to, because the story was no secret, fixed
his eye upon the landlord's and proceeded, in the words of the next
chapter.



CHAPTER XXI

[Illustration]

  _Containing the Story of the Bagman's Uncle_


"My uncle, gentlemen," said the bagman, "was one of the merriest,
pleasantest, cleverest fellows that ever lived. I wish you had known
him, gentlemen. On second thoughts, gentlemen, I _don't_ wish you had
known him, for if you had, you would have been all, by this time, in
the ordinary course of nature, if not dead, at all events so near it,
as to have taken to stopping at home and giving up company: which would
have deprived me of the inestimable pleasure of addressing you at this
moment. Gentlemen, I wish your fathers and mothers had known my uncle.
They would have been amazingly fond of him, especially your respectable
mothers; I know they would. If any two of his numerous virtues
predominated over the many that adorned his character, I should say
they were his mixed punch and his after-supper song. Excuse my dwelling
on these melancholy reflections of departed worth; you won't see a man
like my uncle every day in the week.

"I have always considered it a great point in my uncle's character,
gentlemen, that he was the intimate friend and companion of Tom Smart,
of the great house of Bilson and Slum, Cateaton Street, City. My uncle
collected for Tiggin and Welps, but for a long time he went pretty
near the same journey as Tom; and the very first night they met, my
uncle took a fancy for Tom, and Tom took a fancy for my uncle. They
made a bet of a new hat before they had known each other half an hour,
who should brew the best quart of punch and drink it the quickest. My
uncle was judged to have won the making, but Tom Smart beat him in
the drinking by about half a salt-spoonful. They took another quart
a-piece to drink each other's health in, and were staunch friends ever
afterwards. There's a destiny in these things, gentlemen: we can't help
it.

"In personal appearance, my uncle was a trifle shorter than the middle
size; he was a thought stouter, too, than the ordinary run of people,
and perhaps his face might be a shade redder. He had the jolliest
face you ever saw, gentlemen: something like Punch, with a handsomer
nose and chin; his eyes were always twinkling and sparkling with good
humour; and a smile--not one of your unmeaning wooden grins, but a
real, merry, hearty, good-tempered smile--was perpetually on his
countenance. He was pitched out of his gig once, and knocked, head
first, against a mile-stone. There he lay, stunned, and so cut about
the face with some gravel which had been heaped up alongside it, that,
to use my uncle's own strong expression, if his mother could have
revisited the earth, she wouldn't have known him. Indeed, when I come
to think of the matter, gentlemen, I feel pretty sure she wouldn't,
for she died when my uncle was two years and seven months old, and I
think it's very likely that, even without the gravel, his top-boots
would have puzzled the good lady not a little: to say nothing of his
jolly red face. However, there he lay, and I have heard my uncle say
many a time, that the man said who picked him up that he was smiling
as merrily as if he had tumbled out for a treat, and that after they
had bled him, the first glimmerings of returning animation were, his
jumping up in bed, bursting out into a loud laugh, kissing the young
woman who held the basin, and demanding a mutton chop and a pickled
walnut. He was very fond of pickled walnuts, gentlemen. He said he
always found that, taken without vinegar, they relished the beer.

"My uncle's great journey was in the fall of the leaf, at which time he
collected debts, and took orders, in the north: going from London to
Edinburgh, from Edinburgh to Glasgow, from Glasgow back to Edinburgh,
and thence to London by the smack. You are to understand that his
second visit to Edinburgh was for his own pleasure. He used to go back
for a week, just to look up his old friends; and what with breakfasting
with this one, lunching with that, dining with a third, and supping
with another, a pretty tight week he used to make of it. I don't know
whether any of you, gentlemen, ever partook of a real, substantial,
hospitable Scotch breakfast, and then went to a slight lunch of a
bushel of oysters, a dozen or so of bottled ale, and a noggin or two
of whisky to close up with. If you ever did, you will agree with me
that it requires a pretty strong head to go out to dinner and supper
afterwards.

"But, bless your hearts and eyebrows, all this sort of thing was
nothing to my uncle! He was so well seasoned that it was mere child's
play. I have heard him say that he could see the Dundee people out, any
day, and walk home afterwards without staggering; and yet the Dundee
people have as strong heads and as strong punch, gentleman, as you are
likely to meet with, between the poles. I have heard of a Glasgow man
and a Dundee man drinking against each other for fifteen hours at a
sitting. They were both suffocated, as nearly as could be ascertained,
at the same moment, but with this trifling exception, gentlemen, they
were not a bit the worse for it.

"One night, within four-and-twenty hours of the time when he had
settled to take shipping for London, my uncle supped at the house of a
very old friend of his, a Bailie Mac something and four syllables after
it, who lived in the old town of Edinburgh. There were the bailie's
wife, and the bailie's three daughters, and the bailie's grown-up son,
and three or four stout, bushy eye-browed, canny old Scotch fellows,
that the bailie had got together to do honour to my uncle, and help to
make merry. It was a glorious supper. There were kippered salmon, and
Finnan haddocks, and a lamb's head, and a haggis--a celebrated Scotch
dish, gentlemen, which my uncle used to say always looked to him, when
it came to the table, very much like a cupid's stomach--and a great
many other things besides, that I forget the names of, but very good
things notwithstanding. The lassies were pretty and agreeable; the
bailie's wife was one of the best creatures that ever lived; and my
uncle was in thoroughly good cue. The consequence of which was, that
the young ladies tittered and giggled, and the old lady laughed out
loud, and the bailie and the other old fellows roared till they were
red in the face, the whole mortal time. I don't quite recollect how
many tumblers of whisky toddy each man drank after supper; but this I
know, that about one o'clock in the morning, the bailie's grown-up son
became insensible while attempting the first verse of 'Willie brewed a
peak o' maut;' and he having been, for half an hour before, the only
other man visible above the mahogany, it occurred to my uncle that it
was almost time to think about going: especially as drinking had set
in at seven o'clock: in order that he might get home at a decent hour.
But, thinking it might not be quite polite to go just then, my uncle
voted himself into the chair, mixed another glass, rose to propose his
own health, addressed himself in a neat and complimentary speech, and
drank the toast with great enthusiasm. Still nobody woke; so my uncle
took a little drop more--neat this time, to prevent the toddy from
disagreeing with him--and, laying violent hands on his hat, sallied
forth into the street.

"It was a wild, gusty night when my uncle closed the bailie's door, and
settling his hat firmly on his head to prevent the wind from taking it,
thrust his hands into his pockets, and looking upward, took a short
survey of the state of the weather. The clouds were drifting over the
moon at their giddiest speed: at one time wholly obscuring her: at
another, suffering her to burst forth in full splendour and shed her
light on all the subjects around: anon, driving over her again, with
increased velocity, and shrouding everything in darkness. 'Really, this
won't do,' said my uncle, addressing himself to the weather, as if
he felt himself personally offended. 'This is not at all the kind of
thing for my voyage. It will not do, at any price,' said my uncle very
impressively. Having repeated this, several times, he recovered his
balance with some difficulty--for he was rather giddy with looking up
into the sky so long--and walked merrily on.

"The bailie's house was in the Canongate, and my uncle was going to
the other end of Leith Walk, rather better than a mile's journey. On
either side of him, there shot up against the dark sky, tall, gaunt,
straggling houses, with time-stained fronts, and windows that seemed
to have shared the lot of eyes in mortals, and to have grown dim and
sunken with age. Six, seven, eight storeys high, were the houses;
storey piled above storey, as the children build with cards--throwing
their dark shadows over the roughly paved road, and making the dark
night darker. A few oil lamps were scattered at long distances, but
they only served to mark the dirty entrance to some narrow close, or
to show where a common stair communicated, by steep and intricate
windings, with the various flats above. Glancing at all these things
with the air of a man who had seen them too often before, to think
them worthy of much notice now, my uncle walked up the middle of the
street, with a thumb in each waistcoat pocket, indulging from time to
time in various snatches of song, chanted forth with such good will
and spirit, that the quiet honest folk started from their first sleep
and lay trembling in bed till the sound died away in the distance;
when, satisfying themselves that it was only some drunken ne'er-do-weel
finding his way home, they covered themselves up warm and fell asleep
again.

"I am particular in describing how my uncle walked up the middle of the
street, with his thumbs in his waistcoat pockets, gentlemen, because,
as he often used to say (and with great reason too), there is nothing
at all extraordinary in this story, unless you distinctly understand at
the beginning that he was not by any means of a marvellous or romantic
turn.

"Gentlemen, my uncle walked on with his thumbs in his waistcoat
pockets, taking the middle of the street to himself, and singing, now
a verse of a love-song, and then a verse of a drinking one, and when
he was tired of both, whistling melodiously, until he reached the
North Bridge, which, at this point, connects the old and new towns
of Edinburgh. Here he stopped for a minute, to look at the strange
irregular clusters of lights piled one above the other, and twinkling
afar off so high, that they looked like stars, gleaming from the castle
walls on the one side and the Calton Hill on the other, as if they
illuminated veritable castles in the air; while the old picturesque
town slept heavily on, in gloom and darkness, below: its palace and
chapel of Holyrood, guarded day and night, as a friend of my uncle's
used to say, by old Arthur's Seat, towering, surly and dark, like some
gruff genius, over the ancient city he has watched so long. I say,
gentlemen, my uncle stopped here, for a minute, to look about him; and
then, paying a compliment to the weather, which had a little cleared
up, though the moon was sinking, walked on again, as royally as before;
keeping the middle of the road with great dignity, and looking as if
he would very much like to meet somebody who would dispute possession
of it with him. There was nobody at all disposed to contest the point,
as it happened; and so, on he went, with his thumbs in his waistcoat
pockets, like a lamb.

"When my uncle reached the end of Leith Walk, he had to cross a pretty
large piece of waste ground which separated him from a short street
which he had to turn down, to go direct to his lodging. Now, in this
piece of waste ground, there was, at that time, an enclosure belonging
to some wheelwright who contracted with the Post-office for the
purchase of old worn-out mail coaches; and my uncle, being very fond of
coaches, old, young, or middle-aged, all at once took it into his head
to step out of his road for no other purpose than to peep between the
palings at these mails--about a dozen of which he remembered to have
seen, crowded together in a very forlorn and dismantled state, inside.
My uncle was a very enthusiastic, emphatic sort of person, gentlemen;
so, finding that he could not obtain a good peep between the palings,
he got over them, and sitting himself quietly down on an old axletree,
began to contemplate the mail coaches with a great deal of gravity.

"There might be a dozen of them, or there might be more--my uncle was
never quite certain on this point, and being a man of very scrupulous
veracity about numbers, didn't like to say--but there they stood, all
huddled together in the most desolate condition imaginable. The doors
had been torn from their hinges and removed; the linings had been
stripped off: only a shred hanging here and there by a rusty nail; the
lamps were gone, the poles had long since vanished, the iron-work was
rusty, the paint was worn away; the wind whistled through the chinks
in the bare wood-work; and the rain, which had collected on the roofs,
fell, drop by drop, into the insides with a hollow and melancholy
sound. They were the decaying skeletons of departed mails, and in that
lonely place, at that time of night, they looked chill and dismal.

"My uncle rested his head upon his hands, and thought of the busy
bustling people who had rattled about, years before, in the old
coaches, and were now as silent and changed; he thought of the numbers
of people to whom one of those crazy, mouldering vehicles had borne,
night after night, for many years, and through all weathers, the
anxiously expected intelligence, the eagerly looked-for remittance, the
promised assurance of health and safety, the sudden announcement of
sickness and death. The merchant, the lover, the wife, the widow, the
mother, the schoolboy, the very child who tottered to the door at the
postman's knock--how had they all looked forward to the arrival of the
old coach. And where were they all now!

"Gentlemen, my uncle used to _say_ that he thought all this at the
time, but I rather suspect he learnt it out of some book afterwards,
for he distinctly stated that he fell into a kind of doze, as he sat on
the old axletree looking at the decayed mail coaches, and that he was
suddenly awakened by some deep church-bell striking two. Now, my uncle
was never a fast thinker, and if he had thought all these things, I am
quite certain it would have taken him till full half-past two o'clock,
at the very least. I am, therefore, decidedly of opinion, gentlemen,
that my uncle fell into a kind of doze, without having thought about
anything at all.

"Be this as it may, a church bell struck two. My uncle woke, rubbed his
eyes, and jumped up in astonishment.

"In one instant after the clock struck two, the whole of this deserted
and quiet spot had become a scene of most extraordinary life and
animation. The mail coach doors were on their hinges, the lining was
replaced, the iron-work was as good as new, the paint was restored,
the lamps were alight, cushions and great-coats were on every box,
porters were thrusting parcels into every boot, guards were stowing
away letter-bags, hostlers were dashing pails of water against the
renovated wheels; numbers of men were rushing about, fixing poles into
every coach; passengers arrived, portmanteaus were handed up, horses
were put to; in short, it was perfectly clear that every mail there was
to be off directly. Gentlemen, my uncle opened his eyes so wide at all
this, that, to the very last moment of his life, he used to wonder how
it fell out that he had ever been able to shut 'em again.

"'Now then!' said a voice, as my uncle felt a hand on his shoulder,
'you're booked for inside. You'd better get in.'

"'_I_ booked!' said my uncle, turning round.

"'Yes, certainly.'

"My uncle, gentlemen, could say nothing; he was so very much
astonished. The queerest thing of all was, that although there was such
a crowd of persons, and although fresh faces were pouring in every
moment, there was no telling where they came from. They seemed to start
up, in some strange manner, from the ground, or the air, and disappear
in the same way. When a porter had put his luggage in the coach, and
received his fare, he turned round and was gone; and before my uncle
had well begun to wonder what had become of him, half a dozen fresh
ones started up, and staggered along under the weight of parcels which
seemed big enough to crush them. The passengers were all dressed so
oddly too! Large, broad-skirted, laced coats with great cuffs and no
collars; and wigs, gentlemen--great formal wigs with a tie behind. My
uncle could make nothing of it.

"'Now, _are_ you going to get in?' said the person who had addressed my
uncle before. He was dressed as a mail guard, with a wig on his head
and most enormous cuffs to his coat, and had a lantern in one hand, and
a huge blunderbuss in the other, which he was going to stow away in his
little arm-chest. '_Are_ you going to get in, Jack Martin?' said the
guard, holding the lantern to my uncle's face.

"'Hallo!' said my uncle, falling back a step or two. 'That's familiar!'

"'It's so on the way-bill,' replied the guard.

"'Isn't there a "Mister" before it?' said my uncle. For he felt,
gentlemen, that for a guard he didn't know to call him Jack Martin, was
a liberty which the Post-office wouldn't have sanctioned if they had
known it.

"'No, there is not,' rejoined the guard, coolly.

"'Is the fare paid?' inquired my uncle.

"'Of course it is,' rejoined the guard.

"'It is, is it?' said my uncle. 'Then here goes! Which coach?'

"'This,' said the guard, pointing to an old-fashioned Edinburgh and
London Mail, which had the steps down, and the door open. 'Stop! here
are the other passengers. Let them get in first.'

"As the guard spoke, there all at once appeared, right in front of
my uncle, a young gentleman in a powdered wig, and a sky-blue coat
trimmed with silver, made very full and broad in the skirts, which were
lined with buckram. Tiggin and Welps were in the printed calico and
waistcoatpiece line, gentlemen, so my uncle knew all the materials at
once. He wore knee breeches, and a kind of leggings rolled up over his
silk stockings, and shoes with buckles; he had ruffles at his wrists,
a three-cornered hat on his head, and a long taper sword by his side.
The flaps of his waistcoat came half-way down his thighs, and the ends
of his cravat reached to his waist. He stalked gravely to the coach
door, pulled off his hat, and held it above his head at arm's length:
cocking his little finger in the air at the same time, as some affected
people do, when they take a cup of tea. Then he drew his feet together,
and made a low grave bow, and then put out his left hand. My uncle was
just going to step forward, and shake it heartily, when he perceived
that these attentions were directed, not towards him, but to a young
lady who had just then appeared at the foot of the steps, attired in
an old-fashioned green velvet dress with a long waist and stomacher.
She had no bonnet on her head, gentlemen, which was muffled in a black
silk hood, but she looked round for an instant as she prepared to
get into the coach, and such a beautiful face as she disclosed, my
uncle had never seen--not even in a picture. She got into the coach,
holding up her dress with one hand; and, as my uncle always said, with
a round oath, when he told the story, he wouldn't have believed it
possible that legs and feet could have been brought to such a state of
perfection unless he had seen them with his own eyes.

"But, in this one glimpse of the beautiful face, my uncle saw that
the young lady cast an imploring look upon him, and that she appeared
terrified and distressed. He noticed, too, that the young fellow in
the powdered wig, notwithstanding his show of gallantry, which was all
very fine and grand, clasped her tight by the wrist when she got in,
and followed himself immediately afterwards. An uncommonly ill-looking
fellow, in a close brown wig and a plum-coloured suit, wearing a very
large sword, and boots up to his hips, belonged to the party; and when
he sat himself down next to the young lady, who shrunk into a corner
at his approach, my uncle was confirmed in his original impression
that something dark and mysterious was going forward, or, as he always
said himself, that 'there was a screw loose somewhere.' It's quite
surprising how quickly he made up his mind to help the lady at any
peril, if she needed help.

"'Death and lightning!' exclaimed the young gentleman, laying his hand
upon his sword as my uncle entered the coach.

"'Blood and thunder!' roared the other gentleman. With this, he whipped
his sword out, and made a lunge at my uncle without further ceremony.
My uncle had no weapon about him, but with great dexterity he snatched
the ill-looking gentleman's three-cornered hat from his head, and,
receiving the point of his sword right through the crown, squeezed the
sides together, and held it tight.

"'Pink him behind!' cried the ill-looking gentleman to his companion,
as he struggled to regain his sword.

"'He had better not,' cried my uncle, displaying the heel of one of his
shoes, in a threatening manner, 'I'll kick his brains out if he has
any, or fracture his skull if he hasn't.' Exerting all his strength
at this moment, my uncle wrenched the ill-looking man's sword from
his grasp, and flung it clean out of the coach-window: upon which the
younger gentleman vociferated 'Death and lightning!' again, and laid
his hand upon the hilt of his sword, in a very fierce manner, but
didn't draw it. Perhaps, gentlemen, as my uncle used to say with a
smile, perhaps he was afraid of alarming the lady.

"'Now, gentlemen,' said my uncle, taking his seat deliberately, 'I
don't want to have any death, with or without lightning, in a lady's
presence, and we have had quite blood and thundering enough for one
journey; so, if you please, we'll sit in our places like quiet insides.
Here, guard, pick up that gentleman's carving-knife.'

"As quickly as my uncle said the words, the guard appeared at the
coach-window, with the gentleman's sword in his hand. He held up his
lantern, and looked earnestly in my uncle's face, as he handed it
in: when, by its light, my uncle saw, to his great surprise, that an
immense crowd of mail-coach guards swarmed round the window, every one
of whom had his eyes earnestly fixed upon him too. He had never seen
such a sea of white faces, red bodies, and earnest eyes, in all his
born days.

"'This is the strangest sort of thing I ever had anything to do with,'
thought my uncle; 'allow me to return you your hat, sir.'

"The ill-looking gentleman received his three-cornered hat in silence,
looked at the hole in the middle with an inquiring air, and finally
stuck it on the top of his wig with a solemnity the effect of which was
a trifle impaired by his sneezing violently at the moment, and jerking
it off again.

"'All right!' cried the guard with the lantern, mounting into his
little seat behind. Away they went. My uncle peeped out of the
coach-window as they emerged from the yard, and observed that the other
mails, with coachmen, guards, horses, and passengers complete, were
driving round and round in circles, at a slow trot of about five miles
an hour. My uncle burnt with indignation, gentlemen. As a commercial
man, he felt that the mail-bags were not to be trifled with, and he
resolved to memorialise the Post-office on the subject, the very
instant he reached London.

"At present, however, his thoughts were occupied with the young lady
who sat in the farthest corner of the coach, with her face muffled
closely in her hood; the gentleman with the sky-blue coat sitting
opposite to her; the other man in the plum-coloured suit, by her side;
and both watching her intently. If she so much as rustled the folds
of her hood, he could hear the ill-looking man clap his hand upon
his sword, and could tell by the other's breathing (it was so dark
he couldn't see his face) that he was looking as big as if he were
going to devour her at a mouthful. This roused my uncle more and more,
and he resolved, come what come might, to see the end of it. He had
great admiration for bright eyes, and sweet faces, and pretty legs and
feet; in short, he was fond of the whole sex. It runs in our family,
gentlemen--so am I.

"Many were the devices which my uncle practised, to attract the lady's
attention, or at all events, to engage the mysterious gentlemen in
conversation. They were all in vain; the gentlemen wouldn't talk, and
the lady didn't dare. He thrust his head out of the coach-window at
intervals, and bawled out to know why they didn't go faster? But he
called till he was hoarse; nobody paid the least attention to him. He
leant back in the coach, and thought of the beautiful face, and the
feet and legs. This answered better; it wiled away the time, and kept
him from wondering where he was going, and how it was that he found
himself in such an odd situation. Not that this would have worried him
much, any way--he was a mighty free and easy, roving, devil-may-care
sort of person, was my uncle, gentlemen.

"All of a sudden the coach stopped. 'Hallo!' said my uncle, 'what's in
the wind now?'

"'Alight here,' said the guard, letting down the steps.

"'Here!' cried my uncle.

"'Here,' rejoined the guard.

"'I'll do nothing of the sort,' said my uncle.

"'Very well, then stop where you are,' said the guard.

"'I will,' said my uncle.

"'Do,' said the guard.

The other passengers had regarded this colloquy with great attention,
and finding that my uncle was determined not to alight, the younger man
squeezed past him to hand the lady out. At this moment the ill-looking
man was inspecting the hole in the crown of his three-cornered hat.
As the young lady brushed past, she dropped one of her gloves into my
uncle's hand, and softly whispered, with her lips so close to his
face that he felt her warm breath on his nose, the single word 'Help!'
Gentlemen, my uncle leaped out of the coach at once with such violence
that it rocked on the springs again.

"'Oh! You've thought better of it, have you?' said the guard when he
saw my uncle standing on the ground.

"My uncle looked at the guard for a few seconds, in some doubt whether
it wouldn't be better to wrench his blunderbuss from him, fire it in
the face of the man with the big sword, knock the rest of the company
over the head with the stock, snatch up the young lady, and go off in
the smoke. On second thoughts, however, he abandoned this plan, as
being a shade too melodramatic in the execution, and followed the two
mysterious men, who, keeping the lady between them, were now entering
an old house in front of which the coach had stopped. They turned into
the passage, and my uncle followed.

"Of all the ruinous and desolate places my uncle had ever beheld,
this was the most so. It looked as if it had once been a large house
of entertainment; but the roof had fallen in, in many places, and the
stairs were steep, rugged, and broken. There was a huge fireplace in
the room into which they walked, and the chimney was blackened with
smoke; but no warm blaze lighted it up now. The white feathery dust of
burnt wood was still strewed over the hearth, but the stove was cold,
and all was dark and gloomy.

"'Well,' said my uncle, as he looked about him, 'a mail travelling
at the rate of six miles and a half an hour, and stopping for an
indefinite period at such a hole as this, is rather an irregular sort
of proceeding, I fancy. This shall be made known. I'll write to the
papers.'

"My uncle said this in a pretty loud voice, and in an open, unreserved
sort of manner, with the view of engaging the two strangers in
conversation if he could. But, neither of them took any more notice of
him than whispering to each other, and scowling at him as they did so.
The lady was at the farther end of the room, and once she ventured to
wave her hand, as if beseeching my uncle's assistance.

"At length the two strangers advanced a little, and the conversation
began in earnest.

"'You don't know this is a private room, I suppose, fellow?" said the
gentleman in sky-blue.

"'No, I do not, fellow,' rejoined my uncle. 'Only if this is a private
room specially ordered for the occasion, I should think the public
room must be a _very_ comfortable one;' with this my uncle sat himself
down in a high-backed chair, and took such an accurate measure of the
gentleman with his eyes, that Tiggin and Welps could have supplied him
with printed calico for a suit, and not an inch too much or too little,
from that estimate alone.

"'Quit this room,' said both the men together, grasping their swords.

"'Eh?' said my uncle, not at all appearing to comprehend their meaning.

"'Quit the room, or you are a dead man,' said the ill-looking fellow
with the large sword, drawing it at the same time and flourishing it in
the air.

"'Down with him!' cried the gentleman in sky-blue, drawing his sword
also, and falling back two or three yards. 'Down with him!' The lady
gave a loud scream.

"Now, my uncle was always remarkable for great boldness, and great
presence of mind. All the time that he had appeared so indifferent to
what was going on, he had been looking slyly about, for some missile or
weapon of defence, and at the very instant when the swords were drawn,
he espied, standing in the chimney corner, an old basket-hilted rapier
in a rusty scabbard. At one bound, my uncle caught it in his hand, drew
it, flourished it gallantly above his head, called aloud to the lady
to keep out of the way, hurled the chair at the man in sky-blue, and
the scabbard at the man in plum-colour, and taking advantage of the
confusion, fell upon them both, pell-mell.

"Gentlemen, there is an old story--none the worse for being
true--regarding a fine young Irish gentleman, who being asked if
he could play the fiddle, replied he had no doubt he could, but he
couldn't exactly say, for certain, because he had never tried. This is
not inapplicable to my uncle and his fencing. He had never had a sword
in his hand before, except once when he played Richard the Third at a
private theatre: upon which occasion it was arranged with Richmond that
he was to be run through, from behind, without showing fight at all.
But here he was, cutting and slashing with two experienced swordsmen:
thrusting and guarding and poking and slicing, and acquitting himself
in the most manful and dexterous manner possible, although up to that
time he had never been aware that he had the least notion of the
science. It only shows how true the old saying is, that a man never
knows what he can do, till he tries, gentlemen.

"The noise of the combat was terrific; each of the three combatants
swearing like troopers, and their swords clashing with as much noise
as if all the knives and steels in Newport market were rattling
together, at the same time. When it was at its very height, the lady
(to encourage my uncle most probably) withdrew her hood entirely from
her face, and disclosed a countenance of such dazzling beauty, that
he would have fought against fifty men, to win one smile from it, and
die. He had done wonders before, but now he began to powder away like a
raving mad giant.

"At this very moment, the gentleman in sky-blue turning round, and
seeing the young lady with her face uncovered, vented an exclamation of
rage and jealousy, and, turning his weapon against her beautiful bosom,
pointed a thrust at her heart, which caused my uncle to utter a cry
of apprehension that made the building ring. The lady stepped lightly
aside, and snatching the young man's sword from his hand, before he had
recovered his balance, drove him to the wall, and running it through
him, and the panelling, up to the very hilt, pinned him there, hard
and fast. It was a splendid example. My uncle, with a loud shout of
triumph, and a strength that was irresistible, made his adversary
retreat in the same direction, and plunging the old rapier into the
very centre of a large red flower in the pattern of his waistcoat,
nailed him beside his friend; there they both stood, gentlemen, jerking
their arms and legs about, in agony, like the toy-shop figures that are
moved by a piece of packthread. My uncle always said, afterwards, that
this was one of the surest means he knew of, for disposing of an enemy;
but it was liable to one objection on the ground of expense, inasmuch
as it involved the loss of a sword for every man disabled.

"'The mail, the mail!' cried the lady, running up to my uncle and
throwing her beautiful arms round his neck; 'we may yet escape.'

"'_May!_' cried my uncle; 'why, my dear, there's nobody else to
kill, is there?' My uncle was rather disappointed, gentlemen, for he
thought a little quiet bit of love-making would be agreeable after the
slaughtering, if it were only to change the subject.

"'We have not an instant to lose here,' said the young lady. 'He
(pointing to the young gentleman in sky-blue) is the only son of the
powerful Marquess of Filletoville.'

"'Well then, my dear, I'm afraid he'll never come to the title,' said
my uncle, looking coolly at the young gentleman as he stood fixed up
against the wall, in the cockchafer fashion I have described. 'You have
cut off the entail, my love.'

"'I have been torn from my home and friends by these villains,' said
the young lady, her features glowing with indignation. 'That wretch
would have married me by violence in another hour.'

"'Confound his impudence!' said my uncle, bestowing a very contemptuous
look on the dying heir of Filletoville.

"'As you may guess from what you have seen,' said the young lady,
'the party were prepared to murder me if I appealed to any one for
assistance. If their accomplices find us here, we are lost. Two minutes
hence may be too late. The mail!' With these words, overpowered by
her feelings, and the exertion of sticking the young Marquess of
Filletoville, she sunk into my uncle's arms. My uncle caught her
up, and bore her to the house-door. There stood the mail, with four
long-tailed, flowing-maned, black horses, ready harnessed; but no
coachman, no guard, no hostler, even, at the horses' heads.

"Gentlemen, I hope I do no injustice to my uncle's memory when I
express my opinion, that although he was a bachelor, he _had_ held
some ladies in his arms, before this time; I believe, indeed, that he
had rather a habit of kissing barmaids; and I know, that in one or two
instances, he had been seen, by credible witnesses, to hug a landlady
in a very perceptible manner. I mention the circumstance to show what
a very uncommon sort of person this beautiful young lady must have
been, to have affected my uncle in the way she did; he used to say,
that as her long dark hair trailed over his arm, and her beautiful
dark eyes fixed themselves upon his face when she recovered, he felt
so strange and nervous that his legs trembled beneath him. But, who
can look in a sweet soft pair of dark eyes, without feeling queer? _I_
can't, gentlemen. I am afraid to look at some eyes I know, and that's
the truth of it.

"'You will never leave me?' murmured the young lady.

"'Never,' said my uncle. And he meant it, too.

"'My dear preserver!' exclaimed the young lady. 'My dear, kind, brave
preserver!'

"'Don't,' said my uncle, interrupting her.

"'Why?' inquired the young lady.

"'Because your mouth looks so beautiful when you speak,' rejoined my
uncle, 'that I'm afraid I shall be rude enough to kiss it.'

"The young lady put up her hand as if to caution my uncle not to do so,
and said--no, she didn't say anything--she smiled. When you are looking
at a pair of the most delicious lips in the world and see them gently
break into a roguish smile--if you are very near them, and nobody else
by--you cannot better testify your admiration of their beautiful form
and colour than by kissing them at once. My uncle did so, and I honour
him for it.

"'Hark!' cried the young lady, starting. 'The noise of wheels and
horses!'

"'So it is,' said my uncle, listening. He had a good ear for wheels,
and the trampling of hoofs; but there appeared to be so many horses
and carriages rattling towards them, from a distance, that it was
impossible to form a guess at their number. The sound was like that of
fifty breaks, with six blood cattle in each.

"'We are pursued!' cried the young lady, clasping her hands. 'We are
pursued. I have no hope but in you!'

"There was such an expression of terror in her beautiful face that my
uncle made up his mind at once. He lifted her into the coach, told her
not to be frightened, pressed his lips to hers once more, and then
advising her to draw up the window to keep the cold air out, mounted
the box.

"'Stay, love,' cried the young lady.

"'What's the matter?' said my uncle from the coach-box.

"'I want to speak to you,' said the young lady; 'only a word. Only one
word, dearest.'

"'Must I get down?' inquired my uncle. The lady made no answer, but she
smiled again. Such a smile, gentlemen! It beat the other one, all to
nothing. My uncle descended from his perch in a twinkling.

"'What is it, my dear?' said my uncle, looking in at the coach window.
The lady happened to bend forward at the same time, and my uncle
thought she looked more beautiful than she had done yet. He was very
close to her just then, gentlemen, so he really ought to know.

"'What is it, my dear?' said my uncle.

"'Will you never love any one but me; never marry any one beside?' said
the young lady.

"My uncle swore a great oath that he would never marry anybody else,
and the young lady drew in her head, and pulled up the window. He
jumped upon the box, squared his elbows, adjusted the ribbons, seized
the whip which lay on the roof, gave one flick to the off leader, and
away went the four long-tailed, flowing-maned black horses, at fifteen
good English miles an hour, with the old mail coach behind them. Whew!
How they tore along.

"The noise behind grew louder. The faster the old mail went, the faster
came the pursuers--man, horses, dogs, were leagued in the pursuit. The
noise was frightful, but above all rose the voice of the young lady,
urging my uncle on, and shrieking, 'Faster! Faster!'

"They whirled past the dark trees, as feathers would be swept before a
hurricane. Houses, gates, churches, haystacks, objects of every kind
they shot by, with a velocity and noise like roaring waters suddenly
let loose. Still the noise of pursuit grew louder, and still my uncle
could hear the young lady wildly screaming, 'Faster! Faster!'

"My uncle plied whip and rein, and the horses flew onward till they
were white with foam; and yet the noise behind increased; and yet the
young lady cried, 'Faster! Faster!' My uncle gave a loud stamp on the
boot in the energy of the moment, and--found that it was grey morning,
and he was sitting in the wheelwright's yard, on the box of an old
Edinburgh mail, shivering with the cold and wet, and stamping his feet
to warm them! He got down, and looked eagerly inside for the beautiful
young lady. Alas! There was neither door nor seat to the coach. It was
a mere shell.

[Illustration: "_My uncle gave a loud stamp on the boot in the energy
of the moment_"]

"Of course my uncle knew very well that there was some mystery in the
matter, and that everything had passed exactly as he used to relate it.
He remained staunch to the great oath he had sworn to the beautiful
young lady: refusing several eligible landladies on her account, and
dying a bachelor at last. He always said, what a curious thing it
was that he should have found out, by such a mere accident as his
clambering over the palings, that the ghosts of mail-coaches and
horses, guards, coachmen, and passengers, were in the habit of making
journeys regularly every night. He used to add, that he believed he was
the only living person who had ever been taken as a passenger on one of
these excursions. And I think he was right, gentlemen--at least I never
heard of any other."

       *       *       *       *       *

"I wonder what these ghosts of mail-coaches carry in their bags?"
said the landlord, who had listened to the whole story with profound
attention.

"The dead letters, of course," said the bagman.

"Oh, ah! To be sure," rejoined the landlord. "I never thought of that."



CHAPTER XXII

[Illustration]

  _How Mr. Pickwick sped upon his Mission, and how he was Reinforced
    in the Outset by a most unexpected Auxiliary_


The horses were put to punctually at a quarter before nine next
morning, and Mr. Pickwick and Sam Weller having each taken his seat,
the one inside and the other out, the postilion was duly directed to
repair in the first instance to Mr. Bob Sawyer's house for the purpose
of taking up Mr. Benjamin Allen.

It was with feelings of no small astonishment, when the carriage drew
up before the door with the red lamp, and the very legible inscription
of "Sawyer, late Nockemorf," that Mr. Pickwick saw, on popping his
head out of the coach window, the boy in the grey livery very busily
engaged in putting up the shutters: the which, being an unusual and
un-business-like proceeding at that hour in the morning, at once
suggested to his mind two inferences; the one, that some good friend
and patient of Mr. Bob Sawyer's was dead; the other, that Mr. Bob
Sawyer himself was bankrupt.

"What is the matter?" said Mr. Pickwick to the boy.

"Nothing's the matter, sir," replied the boy, expanding his mouth to
the whole breadth of his countenance.

"All right, all right!" cried Bob Sawyer, suddenly appearing at the
door with a small leathern knapsack, limp and dirty, in one hand, and a
rough coat and shawl thrown over the other arm. "I'm going, old fellow."

"You!" exclaimed Mr. Pickwick.

"Yes," replied Bob Sawyer, "and a regular expedition we'll make of it.
Here, Sam! Look out!" Thus briefly bespeaking Mr. Weller's attention,
Mr. Bob Sawyer jerked the leathern knapsack into the dickey, where it
was immediately stowed away, under the seat, by Sam, who regarded the
proceeding with great admiration. This done, Mr. Bob Sawyer, with the
assistance of the boy, forcibly worked himself into a rough coat, which
was a few sizes too small for him, and then advancing to the coach
window thrust in his head, and laughed boisterously.

"What a start it is, isn't it?" cried Bob, wiping the tears out of his
eyes, with one of the cuffs of the rough coat.

"My dear sir," said Mr. Pickwick, with some embarrassment, "I had no
idea of your accompanying us."

"No, that's just the very thing," replied Bob, seizing Mr. Pickwick by
the lappel of the coat. "That's the joke."

"Oh, that's the joke?" said Mr. Pickwick.

"Of course," replied Bob. "It's the whole point of the thing, you
know--that, and leaving the business to take care of itself, as it
seems to have made up its mind not to take care of me." With this
explanation of the phenomenon of the shutters, Mr. Bob Sawyer pointed
to the shop, and relapsed into an ecstasy of mirth.

"Bless me, you are surely not mad enough to think of leaving your
patients without anybody to attend them!" remonstrated Mr. Pickwick in
a very serious tone.

"Why not?" asked Bob, in reply. "I shall save by it, you know. None of
them ever pay. Besides," said Bob, lowering his voice to a confidential
whisper, "they will be all the better for it; for, being nearly out of
drugs, and not able to increase my account just now, I should have been
obliged to give them calomel all round, and it would have been certain
to have disagreed with some of them. So it's all for the best."

There was a philosophy, and a strength of reasoning, about this reply,
which Mr. Pickwick was not prepared for. He paused a few moments, and
added, less firmly than before:

"But this chaise, my young friend, will only hold two; and I am pledged
to Mr. Allen."

"Don't think of me for a minute," replied Bob. "I've arranged it all;
Sam and I will share the dickey between us. Look here. This little bill
is to be wafered on the shop door: 'Sawyer, late Nockemorf. Inquire
of Mrs. Cripps, over the way.' Mrs. Cripps is my boy's mother. 'Mr.
Sawyer's very sorry,' says Mrs. Cripps, 'couldn't help it--fetched
away early this morning to a consultation of the very first surgeons
in the country--couldn't do without him--would have him at any
price--tremendous operation.' The fact is," said Bob in conclusion,
"it'll do me more good than otherwise, I expect. If it gets into one of
the local papers, it will be the making of me. Here's Ben; now then,
jump in!"

With these hurried words Mr. Bob Sawyer pushed the postboy on one side,
jerked his friend into the vehicle, slammed the door, put up the steps,
wafered the bill on the street door, locked it, put the key in his
pocket, jumped into the dickey, gave the word for starting, and did the
whole with such extraordinary precipitation, that before Mr. Pickwick
had well begun to consider whether Mr. Bob Sawyer ought to go or not,
they were rolling away, with Mr. Bob Sawyer thoroughly established as
part and parcel of the equipage.

So long as their progress was confined to the streets of Bristol,
the facetious Bob kept his professional green spectacles on, and
conducted himself with becoming steadiness and gravity of demeanour;
merely giving utterance to divers verbal witticisms for the exclusive
behoof and entertainment of Mr. Samuel Weller. But when they emerged
on the open road, he threw off his green spectacles and his gravity
together, and performed a great variety of practical jokes, which were
calculated to attract the attention of the passers-by, and to render
the carriage and those it contained objects of more than ordinary
curiosity; the least conspicuous among these feats being, a most
vociferous imitation of a key-bugle, and the ostentatious display of a
crimson silk pocket-handkerchief attached to a walking-stick, which
was occasionally waved in the air with various gestures indicative of
supremacy and defiance.

"I wonder," said Mr. Pickwick, stopping in the midst of a most sedate
conversation with Ben Allen, bearing reference to the numerous good
qualities of Mr. Winkle and his sister: "I wonder what all the people
we pass can see in us to make them stare so?"

"It's a neat turn-out," replied Ben Allen, with something of pride in
his tone. "They're not used to see this sort of thing every day, I
daresay."

"Possibly," replied Mr. Pickwick. "It may be so. Perhaps it is."

Mr. Pickwick might very probably have reasoned himself into the
belief that it really was: had he not, just then happening to look
out of the coach window, observed that the looks of the passengers
betokened anything but respectful astonishment, and that various
telegraphic communications appeared to be passing between them and
some persons outside the vehicle: whereupon it occurred to him that
these demonstrations might be, in some remote degree, referable to the
humorous deportment of Mr. Robert Sawyer.

"I hope," said Mr. Pickwick, "that our volatile friend is committing no
absurdities in that dickey behind?"

"Oh dear no," replied Ben Allen. "Except when he's elevated, Bob's the
quietest creature breathing."

Here a prolonged imitation of a key-bugle broke upon the ear, succeeded
by cheers and screams, all of which evidently proceeded from the
throat and lungs of the quietest creature breathing, or in plainer
designation, of Mr. Bob Sawyer himself.

Mr. Pickwick and Mr. Ben Allen looked expressively at each other, and
the former gentleman taking off his hat, and leaning out of the coach
window until nearly the whole of his waistcoat was outside it, was at
length enabled to catch a glimpse of his facetious friend.

Mr. Bob Sawyer was seated: not in the dickey, but on the roof of
the chaise, with his legs as far asunder as they would conveniently
go, wearing Mr. Samuel Weller's hat on one side of his head, and
bearing, in one hand, a most enormous sandwich, while, in the other,
he supported a goodly-sized case-bottle, to both of which he applied
himself with intense relish: varying the monotony of the occupation by
an occasional howl, or the interchange of some lively badinage with
any passing stranger. The crimson flag was carefully tied in an erect
position to the rail of the dickey; and Mr. Samuel Weller, decorated
with Bob Sawyer's hat, was seated in the centre thereof, discussing a
twin sandwich, with an animated countenance, the expression of which
betokened his entire and perfect approval of the whole arrangement.

This was enough to irritate a gentleman of Mr. Pickwick's sense of
propriety, but it was not the whole extent of the aggravation, for
a stage-coach, full inside and out, was meeting them at the moment,
and the astonishment of the passengers was very palpably evinced. The
congratulations of an Irish family, too, who were keeping up with
the chaise, and begging all the time, were of a rather boisterous
description; especially those of its male head, who appeared to
consider the display as part and parcel of some political or other
procession of triumph.

"Mr. Sawyer!" cried Mr. Pickwick, in a state of great excitement. "Mr.
Sawyer, sir!"

"Hallo!" responded that gentleman, looking over the side of the chaise
with all the coolness in life.

"Are you mad, sir?" demanded Mr. Pickwick.

"Not a bit of it," replied Bob; "only cheerful."

"Cheerful, sir!" ejaculated Mr. Pickwick. "Take down that scandalous
red handkerchief, I beg. I insist, sir. Sam, take it down."

Before Sam could interpose, Mr. Bob Sawyer gracefully struck his
colours, and having put them in his pocket, nodded in a courteous
manner to Mr. Pickwick, wiped the mouth of the case-bottle, and applied
it to his own; thereby informing him, without any unnecessary waste
of words, that he devoted that draught to wishing him all manner of
happiness and prosperity. Having done this, Bob replaced the cork with
great care, and looking benignantly down on Mr. Pickwick, took a large
bite out of the sandwich, and smiled.

"Come," said Mr. Pickwick, whose momentary anger was not quite proof
against Bob's immovable self-possession, "pray let us have no more of
this absurdity."

"No, no," replied Bob, once more exchanging hats with Mr. Weller; "I
didn't mean to do it, only I got so enlivened with the ride that I
couldn't help it."

"Think of the look of the thing," expostulated Mr. Pickwick; "have some
regard to appearances."

"Oh, certainly," said Bob, "it's not the sort of thing at all. All
over, governor."

Satisfied with this assurance, Mr. Pickwick once more drew his head
into the chaise and pulled up the glass; but he had scarcely resumed
the conversation which Mr. Bob Sawyer had interrupted, when he was
somewhat startled by the apparition of a small dark body, of an oblong
form, on the outside of the window, which gave sundry taps against it,
as if impatient of admission.

"What's this?" exclaimed Mr. Pickwick.

"It looks like a case-bottle;" remarked Ben Allen, eyeing the object in
question through his spectacles with some interest; "I rather think it
belongs to Bob."

The impression was perfectly accurate; for Mr. Bob Sawyer, having
attached the case-bottle to the end of the walking-stick, was battering
the window with it in token of his wish that his friends inside would
partake of its contents, in all good fellowship and harmony.

"What's to be done?" said Mr. Pickwick, looking at the bottle. "This
proceeding is more absurd than the other."

"I think it would be best to take it in," replied Mr. Ben Allen; "it
would serve him right to take it and keep it, wouldn't it?"

"It would," said Mr. Pickwick: "shall I?"

"I think it the most proper course we could possibly adopt," replied
Ben.

This advice quite coinciding with his own opinion, Mr. Pickwick gently
let down the window and disengaged the bottle from the stick: upon
which the latter was drawn up, and Mr. Bob Sawyer was heard to laugh
heartily.

"What a merry dog it is!" said Mr. Pickwick, looking round at his
companion with the bottle in his hand.

"He is," said Mr. Allen.

"You cannot possibly be angry with him," remarked Mr. Pickwick.

"Quite out of the question," observed Benjamin Allen.

During this short interchange of sentiments, Mr. Pickwick had, in an
abstracted mood, uncorked the bottle.

"What is it?" inquired Ben Allen, carelessly.

"I don't know," replied Mr. Pickwick, with equal carelessness. "It
smells, I think, like milk-punch."

"Oh, indeed?" said Ben.

"I _think_ so," rejoined Mr. Pickwick, very properly guarding himself
against the possibility of stating an untruth: "mind, I could not
undertake to say certainly, without tasting it."

"You had better do so," said Ben, "we may as well know what it is."

"Do you think so?" replied Mr. Pickwick. "Well; if you are curious to
know, of course I have no objection."

Ever willing to sacrifice his own feelings to the wishes of his friend,
Mr. Pickwick at once took a pretty long taste.

"What is it?" inquired Ben Allen, interrupting him with some impatience.

"Curious," said Mr. Pickwick, smacking his lips, "I hardly know now. Oh
yes!" said Mr. Pickwick, after a second taste. "It _is_ punch."

Mr. Ben Allen looked at Mr. Pickwick; Mr. Pickwick looked at Mr. Ben
Allen; Mr. Ben Allen smiled; Mr. Pickwick did not.

"It would serve him right," said the last-named gentleman, with some
severity, "it would serve him right to drink it every drop."

"The very thing that occurred to me," said Ben Allen.

"Is it indeed?" rejoined Mr. Pickwick. "Then here's his health!" With
these words, that excellent person took a most energetic pull at the
bottle, and handed it to Ben Allen, who was not slow to imitate his
example. The smiles became mutual, and the milk-punch was gradually and
cheerfully disposed of.

"After all," said Mr. Pickwick, as he drained the last drop, "his
pranks are really very amusing: very entertaining indeed."

"You may say that," rejoined Mr. Ben Allen. In proof of Bob Sawyer's
being one of the funniest fellows alive, he proceeded to entertain Mr.
Pickwick with a long and circumstantial account how that gentleman once
drank himself into a fever and got his head shaved; the relation of
which pleasant and agreeable history was only stopped by the stoppage
of the chaise at the Bell at Berkeley Heath, to change horses.

"I say! We're going to dine here, aren't we?" said Bob, looking in at
the window.

"Dine!" said Mr. Pickwick. "Why, we have only come nineteen miles, and
have eighty-seven and a half to go."

"Just the reason why we should take something to enable us to bear up
against the fatigue," remonstrated Mr. Bob Sawyer.

"Oh, it's quite impossible to dine at half-past eleven o'clock in the
day," replied Mr. Pickwick, looking at his watch.

"So it is," rejoined Bob, "lunch is the very thing. Hallo, you sir!
Lunch for three, directly, and keep the horses back for a quarter of an
hour. Tell them to put everything they have cold on the table and some
bottled ale, and let us taste your very best Madeira." Issuing these
orders with monstrous importance and bustle, Mr. Bob Sawyer at once
hurried into the house to superintend the arrangements; in less than
five minutes he returned and declared them to be excellent.

The quality of the lunch fully justified the eulogium which Bob had
pronounced, and very great justice was done to it, not only by that
gentleman, but Mr. Ben Allen and Mr. Pickwick also. Under the auspices
of the three, the bottled ale and the Madeira were promptly disposed
of; and when (the horses being once more put to) they resumed their
seats, with the case-bottle full of the best substitute for milk-punch
that could be procured on so short a notice, the key-bugle sounded, and
the red flag waved, without the slightest opposition on Mr. Pickwick's
part.

At the Hop Pole at Tewkesbury, they stopped to dine; upon which
occasion there was more bottled ale, with some more Madeira, and some
port besides; and here the case-bottle was replenished for the third
time. Under the influence of these combined stimulants, Mr. Pickwick
and Mr. Ben Allen fell fast asleep for thirty miles, while Bob and Mr.
Weller sang duets in the dickey.

It was quite dark when Mr. Pickwick roused himself sufficiently to
look out of the window. The straggling cottages by the roadside, the
dingy hue of every object visible, the murky atmosphere, the paths
of cinders and brick-dust, the deep-red glow of furnace fires in the
distance, the volumes of dense smoke issuing heavily forth from the
high toppling chimneys, blackening and obscuring everything around; the
glare of distant lights, the ponderous waggons which toiled along the
road, laden with clashing rods of iron, or piled with heavy goods--all
betokened their rapid approach to the great working town of Birmingham.

As they rattled through the narrow thoroughfares leading to the heart
of the turmoil, the sights and sounds of earnest occupation struck more
forcibly on the senses. The streets were thronged with working-people.
The hum of labour resounded from every house, lights gleamed from the
long casement windows in the attic stories, and the whirl of wheels and
noise of machinery shook the trembling walls. The fires, whose lurid,
sullen light had been visible for miles, blazed fiercely up, in the
great works and factories of the town. The din of hammers, the rushing
of steam, and the dead heavy clanking of engines, was the harsh music
which arose from every quarter.

The postboy was driving briskly through the open streets, and past the
handsome and well-lighted shops which intervene between the outskirts
of the town and the Old Royal Hotel, before Mr. Pickwick had begun to
consider the very difficult and delicate nature of the commission which
had carried him thither.

The delicate nature of this commission, and the difficulty of executing
it in a satisfactory manner, were by no means lessened by the voluntary
companionship of Mr. Bob Sawyer. Truth to tell, Mr. Pickwick felt that
his presence on the occasion, however considerate and gratifying, was
by no means an honour he would willingly have sought; in fact, he would
cheerfully have given a reasonable sum of money to have had Mr. Bob
Sawyer removed to any place at not less than fifty miles distance,
without delay.

Mr. Pickwick had never held any personal communication with Mr. Winkle
senior, although he had once or twice corresponded with him by letter,
and returned satisfactory answers to his inquiries concerning the moral
character and behaviour of his son; he felt nervously sensible that
to wait upon him, for the first time, attended by Bob Sawyer and Ben
Allen, both slightly fuddled, was not the most ingenious and likely
means that could have been hit upon to prepossess him in his favour.

"However," said Mr. Pickwick, endeavouring to reassure himself, "I must
do the best I can. I must see him to-night, for I faithfully promised
to do so. If they persist in accompanying me, I must make the interview
as brief as possible, and be content to hope that, for their own sakes,
they will not expose themselves."

As he comforted himself with these reflections, the chaise stopped at
the door of the Old Royal. Ben Allen having been partially awakened
from a stupendous sleep, and dragged out by the collar by Mr. Samuel
Weller, Mr. Pickwick was enabled to alight. They were shown to a
comfortable apartment, and Mr. Pickwick at once propounded a question
to the waiter concerning the whereabout of Mr. Winkle's residence.

"Close by, sir," said the waiter, "not above five hundred yards, sir.
Mr. Winkle is a wharfinger, sir, at the canal, sir. Private residence
is not--oh dear no, sir, _not_ five hundred yards, sir." Here the
waiter blew a candle out, and made a feint of lighting it again, in
order to afford Mr. Pickwick an opportunity of asking any further
questions, if he felt so disposed.

"Take anything now, sir?" said the waiter, lighting the candle in
desperation at Mr. Pickwick's silence. "Tea or coffee, sir? Dinner,
sir?"

"Nothing now."

"Very good, sir. Like to order supper, sir?"

"Not just now."

"_Very_ good, sir." Here, he walked softly to the door, and then
stopping short, turned round and said, with great suavity:

"Shall I send the chambermaid, gentlemen?"

"You may, if you please," replied Mr. Pickwick.

"If _you_ please, sir."

"And bring some soda water," said Bob Sawyer.

"Soda water, sir? Yes, sir." With his mind apparently relieved from an
overwhelming weight, by having at last got an order for something, the
waiter imperceptibly melted away. Waiters never walk or run. They have
a peculiar and mysterious power of skimming out of rooms, which other
mortals possess not.

Some slight symptoms of vitality having been awakened in Mr. Ben Allen
by the soda water, he suffered himself to be prevailed upon to wash his
face and hands, and to submit to be brushed by Sam. Mr. Pickwick and
Bob Sawyer having also repaired the disorder which the journey had made
in their apparel, the three started forth, arm in arm, to Mr. Winkle's;
Bob Sawyer impregnating the atmosphere with tobacco smoke as he walked
along.

About a quarter of a mile off, in a quiet, substantial-looking street,
stood an old red-brick house with three steps before the door, and a
brass plate upon it, bearing, in fat Roman capitals, the words, "Mr.
Winkle." The steps were very white, and the bricks were very red, and
the house was very clean; and here stood Mr. Pickwick, Mr. Benjamin
Allen, and Mr. Bob Sawyer, as the clock struck ten.

A smart servant girl answered the door, and started on beholding the
three strangers.

"Is Mr. Winkle at home, my dear?" inquired Mr. Pickwick.

"He is just going to supper, sir," replied the girl.

"Give him that card, if you please," rejoined Mr. Pickwick. "Say I am
sorry to trouble him at so late an hour; but I am anxious to see him
to-night, and have only just arrived."

The girl looked timidly at Mr. Bob Sawyer, who was expressing his
admiration of her personal charms by a variety of wonderful grimaces;
and casting an eye at the hats and great-coats which hung in the
passage, called another girl to mind the door while she went upstairs.
The sentinel was speedily relieved; for the girl returned immediately,
and begging pardon of the gentlemen for leaving them in the street,
ushered them into a floor-clothed back parlour, half office and half
dressing-room, in which the principal useful and ornamental articles
of furniture were a desk, a wash-hand stand and shaving glass, a
boot-rack and boot-jack, a high stool, four chairs, a table, and an old
eight-day clock. Over the mantelpiece were the sunken doors of an iron
safe, while a couple of hanging shelves for books, an almanack, and
several files of dusty papers, decorated the walls.

"Very sorry to leave you standing at the door, sir," said the girl,
lighting a lamp, and addressing Mr. Pickwick with a winning smile, "but
you was quite strangers to me; and we have such a many trampers that
only come to see what they can lay their hands on, that really----"

"There is not the least occasion for any apology, my dear," said Mr.
Pickwick, good-humouredly.

"Not the slightest, my love," said Bob Sawyer, playfully stretching
forth his arms, and skipping from side to side, as if to prevent the
young lady's leaving the room.

The young lady was not at all softened by these allurements, for she at
once expressed her opinion that Mr. Bob Sawyer was an "odous creetur;"
and, on his becoming rather more pressing in his attentions, imprinted
her fair fingers upon his face, and bounced out of the room with many
expressions of aversion and contempt.

Deprived of the young lady's society, Mr. Bob Sawyer proceeded
to divert himself by peeping into the desk, looking into all the
table-drawers, feigning to pick the lock of the iron safe, turning the
almanack with its face to the wall, trying on the boots of Mr. Winkle
senior over his own, and making several other humorous experiments upon
the furniture, all of which afforded Mr. Pickwick unspeakable horror
and agony, and yielded Mr. Bob Sawyer proportionate delight.

At length the door opened, and a little old gentleman in a
snuff-coloured suit, with a head and face the precise counterpart of
those belonging to Mr. Winkle junior, excepting that he was rather
bald, trotted into the room with Mr. Pickwick's card in one hand, and a
silver candlestick in the other.

"Mr. Pickwick, sir, how do you do?" said Winkle the elder, putting down
the candlestick and proffering his hand. "Hope I see you well, sir?
Glad to see you. Be seated, Mr. Pickwick, I beg, sir. This gentleman
is----"

"My friend, Mr. Sawyer," interposed Mr. Pickwick, "your son's friend."

"Oh," said Mr. Winkle the elder, looking rather grimly at Bob. "I hope
_you_ are well, sir?"

"Right as a trivet, sir," replied Bob Sawyer.

[Illustration: _Mr. Winkle senior_]

"This other gentleman," cried Mr. Pickwick, "is, as you will see,
when you have read the letter with which I am entrusted, a very near
relative or, I should rather say, a very particular friend of your
son's. His name is Allen."

"_That_ gentleman?" inquired Mr. Winkle, pointing with the card towards
Ben Allen, who had fallen asleep in an attitude which left nothing of
him visible but his spine and his coat collar.

Mr. Pickwick was on the point of replying to the question, and reciting
Mr. Benjamin Allen's name and honourable distinctions at full length,
when the sprightly Mr. Bob Sawyer, with a view of rousing his friend
to a sense of his situation, inflicted a startling pinch upon the
fleshy part of his arm, which caused him to jump up with a shriek.
Suddenly aware that he was in the presence of a stranger, Mr. Ben Allen
advanced and, shaking Mr. Winkle most affectionately by both hands for
about five minutes, murmured, in some half-intelligible fragments of
sentences, the great delight he felt in seeing him, and a hospitable
inquiry whether he felt disposed to take anything after his walk, or
would prefer waiting "till dinner time;" which done, he sat down and
gazed about him with a petrified stare, as if he had not the remotest
idea where he was, which indeed he had not.

All this was most embarrassing to Mr. Pickwick, the more especially as
Mr. Winkle senior evinced palpable astonishment at the eccentric--not
to say extraordinary--behaviour of his two companions. To bring the
matter to an issue at once, he drew a letter from his pocket, and
presenting it to Mr. Winkle senior, said:

"This letter, sir, is from your son. You will see, by its contents,
that on your favourable and fatherly consideration of it, depend his
future happiness and welfare. Will you oblige me by giving it the
calmest and coolest perusal, and by discussing the subject afterwards
with me, in the tone and spirit in which alone it ought to be
discussed? You may judge of the importance of your decision to your
son, and his intense anxiety upon the subject, by my waiting upon you
without any previous warning, at so late an hour; and," added Mr.
Pickwick, glancing slightly at his two companions, "and under such
unfavourable circumstances."

With this prelude, Mr. Pickwick placed four closely written sides of
extra superfine wire-woven penitence in the hands of the astounded
Mr. Winkle senior. Then reseating himself in his chair, he watched
his looks and manner: anxiously, it is true, but with the open front
of a gentleman who feels he has taken no part which he need excuse or
palliate.

The old wharfinger turned the letter over; looked at the front, back,
and sides; made a microscopic examination of the fat little boy on the
seal; raised his eyes to Mr. Pickwick's face; and then, seating himself
on the high stool, and drawing the lamp closer to him, broke the wax,
unfolded the epistle, and lifting it to the light, he prepared to read.

Just at this moment, Mr. Bob Sawyer, whose wit had lain dormant for
some minutes, placed his hands upon his knees, and made a face after
the portrait of the late Mr. Grimaldi, as clown. It so happened that
Mr. Winkle senior, instead of being deeply engaged in reading the
letter, as Mr. Bob Sawyer thought, chanced to be looking over the
top of it at no less a person than Mr. Bob Sawyer himself; rightly
conjecturing that the face aforesaid was made in ridicule and derision
of his own person, he fixed his eyes on Bob with such expressive
sternness, that the late Mr. Grimaldi's lineaments gradually resolved
themselves into a very fine expression of humility and confusion.

"Did you speak, sir?" inquired Mr. Winkle senior, after an awful
silence.

"No, sir," replied Bob, with no remains of the clown about him, save
and except the extreme redness of his cheeks.

"You are sure you did not, sir?" said Mr. Winkle senior.

"Oh dear yes, sir, quite," replied Bob.

"I thought you did, sir," rejoined the old gentleman, with indignant
emphasis. "Perhaps you _looked_ at me, sir?"

"Oh no, sir! not at all," replied Bob, with extreme civility.

"I am very glad to hear it, sir," said Mr. Winkle senior. Having
frowned upon the abashed Bob with great magnificence, the old gentleman
again brought the letter to the light, and began to read it seriously.

Mr. Pickwick eyed him intently as he turned from the bottom line of the
first page to the top line of the second, and from the bottom of the
second to the top of the third, and from the bottom of the third to
the top of the fourth; but not the slightest alteration of countenance
afforded a clue to the feelings with which he received the announcement
of his son's marriage, which Mr. Pickwick knew was in the very first
half-dozen lines.

He read the letter to the last word; folded it again with all the
carefulness and precision of a man of business; and, just when Mr.
Pickwick expected some great outbreak of feeling, dipped a pen in
the inkstand, and said as quietly as if he were speaking on the most
ordinary counting-house topic:

"What is Nathaniel's address, Mr. Pickwick?"

"The George and Vulture, at present," replied that gentleman.

"George and Vulture. Where is that?"

"George Yard, Lombard Street."

"In the City?"

"Yes."

The old gentleman methodically indorsed the address on the back of the
letter; and then, placing it in the desk, which he locked, said as he
got off the stool and placed the bunch of keys in his pocket:

"I suppose there is nothing else which need detain us, Mr. Pickwick?"

"Nothing else, my dear sir!" observed that warm-hearted person in
indignant amazement. "Nothing else! Have you no opinion to express
on this momentous event in our young friend's life? No assurance to
convey to him, through me, of the continuance of your affection and
protection? Nothing to say which will cheer and sustain him, and the
anxious girl who looks to him for comfort and support? My dear sir,
consider."

"I will consider," replied the old gentleman. "I have nothing to say
just now. I am a man of business, Mr. Pickwick. I never commit myself
hastily in any affair, and from what I see of this, I by no means like
the appearance of it. A thousand pounds is not much, Mr. Pickwick."

"You're very right, sir," interposed Ben Allen, just awake enough to
know that he had spent _his_ thousand pounds without the smallest
difficulty. "You're an intelligent man. Bob, he's a very knowing fellow
this."

"I am very happy to find that _you_ do me the justice to make the
admission, sir," said Mr. Winkle senior, looking contemptuously at Ben
Allen, who was shaking his head profoundly. "The fact is, Mr. Pickwick,
that when I gave my son a roving license for a year or so, to see
something of men and manners (which he has done under your auspices),
so that he might not enter into life a mere boarding-school milk-sop
to be gulled by everybody, I never bargained for this. He knows that,
very well, so if I withdraw my countenance from him on this account, he
has no call to be surprised. He shall hear from me, Mr. Pickwick. Good
night, sir. Margaret, open the door."

All this time, Bob Sawyer had been nudging Mr. Ben Allen to say
something on the right side; Ben accordingly now burst, without the
slightest preliminary notice, into a brief but impassioned piece of
eloquence.

"Sir," said Mr. Ben Allen, staring at the old gentleman, out of a pair
of very dim and languid eyes, and working his right arm vehemently up
and down, "you--you ought to be ashamed of yourself."

"As the lady's brother, of course you are an excellent judge of the
question," retorted Mr. Winkle senior. "There; that's enough. Pray say
no more, Mr. Pickwick. Good night, gentlemen!"

With these words the old gentleman took up the candlestick, and opening
the room door, politely motioned towards the passage.

"You will regret this, sir," said Mr. Pickwick, setting his teeth close
together to keep down his choler; for he felt how important the effect
might prove to his young friend.

"I am at present of a different opinion," calmly replied Mr. Winkle
senior. "Once again, gentlemen, I wish you a good night."

Mr. Pickwick walked, with angry strides, into the street. Mr. Bob
Sawyer, completely quelled by the decision of the old gentleman's
manner, took the same course. Mr. Ben Allen's hat rolled down the steps
immediately afterwards, and Mr. Ben Allen's body followed it directly.
The whole party went silent and supperless to bed; and Mr. Pickwick
thought, just before he fell asleep, that if he had known Mr. Winkle
senior had been quite so much of a man of business, it was extremely
probable he might never have waited upon him, on such an errand.



CHAPTER XXIII

[Illustration]

  _In which Mr. Pickwick encounters an old Acquaintance. To which
    fortunate Circumstance the Reader is mainly indebted for Matter
    of thrilling Interest herein set down, concerning two great
    Public Men of Might and Power_


The morning which broke upon Mr. Pickwick's sight, at eight o'clock,
was not at all calculated to elevate his spirits, or to lessen the
depression which the unlooked-for result of his embassy inspired. The
sky was dark and gloomy, the air was damp and raw, the streets were
wet and sloppy. The smoke hung sluggishly above the chimney-tops as if
it lacked the courage to rise, and the rain came slowly and doggedly
down, as if it had not even the spirit to pour. A game-cock in the
stable-yard, deprived of every spark of his accustomed animation,
balanced himself dismally on one leg in a corner; a donkey, moping with
drooping head under the narrow roof of an outhouse, appeared from his
meditative and miserable countenance to be contemplating suicide. In
the street, umbrellas were the only things to be seen, and the clicking
of pattens and splashing of rain-drops, were the only sounds to be
heard.

The breakfast was interrupted by very little conversation; even Mr.
Bob Sawyer felt the influence of the weather, and the previous day's
excitement. In his own expressive language he was "floored." So was Mr.
Ben Allen. So was Mr. Pickwick.

In protracted expectation of the weather clearing up, the last evening
paper from London was read and re-read with an intensity of interest
only known in cases of extreme destitution; every inch of the carpet
was walked over, with similar perseverance; the windows were looked out
of, often enough to justify the imposition of an additional duty upon
them; all kinds of topics of conversation were started and failed; and
at length Mr. Pickwick, when noon had arrived, without a change for the
better, rang the bell resolutely and ordered out the chaise.

Although the roads were miry, and the drizzling rain came down harder
than it had done yet, and although the mud and wet splashed in at the
open windows of the carriage to such an extent that the discomfort was
almost as great to the pair of insides as to the pair of outsides,
still there was something in the motion, and the sense of being up
and doing, which was so infinitely superior to being pent in a dull
room, looking at the dull rain dripping into a dull street, that they
all agreed, on starting, that the change was a great improvement, and
wondered how they could possibly have delayed making it, as long as
they had done.

When they stopped to change at Coventry, the steam ascended from the
horses in such clouds as wholly to obscure the hostler, whose voice was
however heard to declare from the mist, that he expected the first Gold
Medal from the Humane Society on their next distribution of rewards,
for taking the postboy's hat off; the water descending from the brim
of which the invisible gentleman declared must inevitably have drowned
him (the postboy), but for his great presence of mind in tearing it
promptly from his head, and drying the gasping man's countenance with a
wisp of straw.

"This is pleasant," said Bob Sawyer, turning up his coat collar, and
pulling the shawl over his mouth to concentrate the fumes of a glass of
brandy just swallowed.

"Wery," replied Sam, composedly.

"You don't seem to mind it?" observed Bob.

"Vy, I don't exactly see no good my mindin' on it 'ud do, sir," replied
Sam.

"That's an unanswerable reason, anyhow," said Bob.

"Yes, sir," rejoined Mr. Weller. "Wotever is, is right, as the young
nobleman sveetly remarked ven they put him down in the pension list
'cos his mother's uncle's vife's grandfather vunce lit the king's pipe
vith a portable tinder-box."

"Not a bad notion that, Sam," said Mr. Bob Sawyer, approvingly.

"Just wot the young nobleman said ev'ry quarter-day arterward for the
rest of his life," replied Mr. Weller.

"Wos you ever called in," inquired Sam, glancing at the driver, after
a short silence, and lowering his voice to a mysterious whisper, "wos
you ever called in, ven you wos 'prentice to a sawbones, to wisit a
postboy?"

"I don't remember that I ever was," replied Bob Sawyer.

"You never see a postboy in that 'ere hospital as you _walked_ (as they
says o' the ghosts), did you?" demanded Sam.

"No," replied Bob Sawyer. "I don't think I ever did."

"Never know'd a churchyard vere there wos a postboy's tombstone, or see
a dead postboy, did you?" inquired Sam, pursuing his catechism.

"No," rejoined Bob, "I never did."

"No!" rejoined Sam, triumphantly. "Nor never vill; and there's another
thing that no man never see, and that's a dead donkey. No man never see
a dead donkey, 'cept the gen'l'm'n in the black silk smalls as know'd
a young 'ooman as kep' a goat; and that wos a French donkey, so wery
likely he warn't vun o' the reg'lar breed."

"Well, what has that got to do with the postboys?" asked Bob Sawyer.

"This here," replied Sam. "Without goin' so far as to as-sert, as some
wery sensible people do, that postboys and donkeys is both immortal,
wot I say is this; that venever they feels theirselves gettin' stiff
and past their work, they just rides off together, vun postboy to a
pair in the usual way; wot becomes on 'em nobody knows, but it's wery
probable as they starts avay to take their pleasure in some other
world, for there ain't a man alive as ever see, either a donkey or a
postboy, a takin' his pleasure in this!"

Expatiating upon this learned and remarkable theory, and citing many
curious statistical and other facts in its support, Sam Weller beguiled
the time until they reached Dunchurch, where a dry postboy and fresh
horses were procured; the next stage was Daventry, and the next
Towcester; and at the end of each stage it rained harder than it had
done at the beginning.

"I say," remonstrated Bob Sawyer, looking in at the coach window, as
they rolled up before the door of the Saracen's Head, Towcester, "this
won't do, you know."

"Bless me!" said Mr. Pickwick, just awakening from a nap, "I'm afraid
you're wet."

"Oh you are, are you?" returned Bob. "Yes, I am, a little that way.
Uncomfortably damp, perhaps."

Bob did look dampish, inasmuch as the rain was streaming from his neck,
elbows, cuffs, skirts, and knees; and his whole apparel shone so with
the wet, that it might have been mistaken for a full suit of prepared
oilskin.

"I _am_ rather wet," said Bob, giving himself a shake, and casting a
little hydraulic shower around, like a Newfoundland dog just emerged
from the water.

"I think it's quite impossible to go on to-night," interposed Ben.

"Out of the question, sir," remarked Sam Weller, coming to assist in
the conference; "it's cruelty to animals, sir, to ask 'em to do it.
There's beds here, sir," said Sam, addressing his master, "everything
clean and comfortable. Wery good little dinner, sir, they can get ready
in half-an-hour--pair of fowls, sir, and a weal cutlet; French beans,
'taturs, tart, and tidiness. You'd better stop vere you are sir, if I
might recommend. Take advice, sir, as the doctor said."

The host of the Saracen's Head opportunely appeared at this moment,
to confirm Mr. Weller's statement relative to the accommodations of
the establishment, and to back his entreaties with a variety of dismal
conjectures regarding the state of the roads, the doubt of fresh horses
being to be had at the next stage, the dead certainty of its raining
all night, the equally mortal certainty of its clearing up in the
morning, and other topics of inducement familiar to innkeepers.

"Well," said Mr. Pickwick; "but I must send a letter to London by some
conveyance, so that it may be delivered the very first thing in the
morning, or I must go forward at all hazards."

The landlord smiled his delight. Nothing could be easier than for the
gentleman to inclose a letter in a sheet of brown paper, and send
it on, either by the mail or the night coach from Birmingham. If
the gentleman were particularly anxious to have it left as soon as
possible, he might write outside, "To be delivered immediately," which
was sure to be attended to; or "Pay the bearer half-a-crown extra for
instant delivery," which was surer still.

"Very well," said Mr. Pickwick, "then we will stop here."

"Lights in the Sun, John; make up the fire; the gentlemen are wet!"
cried the landlord. "This way, gentlemen; don't trouble yourselves
about the postboy now, sir. I'll send him to you when you ring for him,
sir. Now, John, the candles."

The candles were brought, the fire was stirred up, and a fresh log of
wood thrown on. In ten minutes' time, a waiter was laying the cloth for
dinner, the curtains were drawn, the fire was blazing brightly, and
everything looked (as everything always does, in all decent English
inns) as if the travellers had been expected, and their comforts
prepared, for days beforehand.

Mr. Pickwick sat down at a side table, and hastily indited a note to
Mr. Winkle, merely informing him that he was detained by stress of
weather, but would certainly be in London next day; until when he
deferred any account of his proceedings. This note was hastily made
into a parcel, and dispatched to the bar per Mr. Samuel Weller.

Sam left it with the landlady, and was returning to pull his master's
boots off, after drying himself by the kitchen fire, when, glancing
casually through a half-opened door, he was arrested by the sight of
a gentleman with a sandy head who had a large bundle of newspapers
lying on the table before him, and was perusing the leading article of
one with a settled sneer which curled up his nose and all his other
features into a majestic expression of haughty contempt.

"Hallo!" said Sam, "I ought to know that 'ere head and them features;
the eye-glass, too, and the broad-brimmed tile! Eatansvill to vit, or
I'm a Roman."

Sam was taken with a troublesome cough, at once, for the purpose of
attracting the gentleman's attention; the gentleman starting at the
sound, raised his head and his eye-glass, and disclosed to view the
profound and thoughtful features of Mr. Pott, of the _Eatanswill
Gazette_.

"Beggin' your pardon, sir," said Sam, advancing with a bow, "my
master's here, Mr. Pott."

"Hush, hush!" cried Pott, drawing Sam into the room, and closing the
door, with a countenance of mysterious dread and apprehension.

"Wot's the matter, sir?" inquired Sam, looking vacantly about him.

"Not a whisper of my name," replied Pott; "this is a buff neighbourhood.
If the excited and irritable populace knew I was here, I should be torn
to pieces."

"No! Vould you, sir?" inquired Sam.

"I should be the victim of their fury," replied Pott. "Now, young man,
what of your master?"

"He's a stopping here to-night on his vay to town, vith a couple of
friends," replied Sam.

"Is Mr. Winkle one of them?" inquired Pott, with a slight frown.

"No, sir. Mr. Vinkle stops at home now," rejoined Sam. "He's married."

"Married!" exclaimed Pott, with frightful vehemence. He stopped, smiled
darkly, and added, in a low, vindictive tone: "It serves him right!"

Having given vent to this cruel ebullition of deadly malice and
cold-blooded triumph over a fallen enemy, Mr. Pott inquired whether Mr.
Pickwick's friends were "blue"? Receiving a most satisfactory answer
in the affirmative from Sam, who knew as much about the matter as Pott
himself, he consented to accompany him to Mr. Pickwick's room, where a
hearty welcome awaited him. An agreement to club dinners together was
at once made and ratified.

"And how are matters going on in Eatanswill?" inquired Mr. Pickwick,
when Pott had taken a seat near the fire, and the whole party had got
their wet boots off, and dry slippers on. "Is the _Independent_ still
in being?"

"The _Independent_, sir," replied Pott, "is still dragging on a
wretched and lingering career. Abhorred and despised by even the few
who are cognizant of its miserable and disgraceful existence; stifled
by the very filth it so profusely scatters; rendered deaf and blind
by the exhalations of its own slime; the obscene journal, happily
unconscious of its degraded state, is rapidly sinking beneath that
treacherous mud which, while it seems to give it a firm standing with
the low and debased classes of society, is, nevertheless, rising above
its detested head, and will speedily engulf it for ever."

Having delivered this manifesto (which formed portion of his last
week's leader) with a vehement articulation, the editor paused to take
breath and looked majestically at Bob Sawyer.

"You are a young man, sir," said Pott.

Mr. Bob Sawyer nodded.

"So are you, sir," said Pott, addressing Mr. Ben Allen.

Ben admitted the soft impeachment.

"And are both deeply imbued with those blue principles, which, as long
as I live, I have pledged myself to the people of these kingdoms to
support and to maintain?" suggested Pott.

"Why, I don't exactly know about that," replied Bob Sawyer. "I am----"

"Not buff, Mr. Pickwick," interrupted Pott, drawing back his chair,
"your friend is not buff, sir?"

"No, no," rejoined Bob, "I'm a kind of plaid at present; a compound of
all sorts of colours."

"A waverer," said Pott, solemnly, "a waverer. I should like to show you
a series of eight articles, sir, that have appeared in the _Eatanswill
Gazette_. I think I may venture to say that you would not be long in
establishing your opinions on a firm and solid blue basis, sir."

"I dare say I should turn very blue, long before I got to the end of
them," responded Bob.

Mr. Pott looked dubiously at Bob Sawyer for some seconds, and, turning
to Mr. Pickwick, said:

"You have seen the literary articles which have appeared at intervals
in the _Eatanswill Gazette_ in the course of the last three months, and
which have excited such general--I may say such universal--attention
and admiration?"

"Why," replied Mr. Pickwick, slightly embarrassed by the question, "the
fact is, I have been so much engaged in other ways, that I really have
not had an opportunity of perusing them."

"You should do so, sir," said Pott, with a severe countenance.

"I will," said Mr. Pickwick.

"They appeared in the form of a copious review of a work on Chinese
metaphysics, sir," said Pott.

"Oh," observed Mr. Pickwick; "from your pen, I hope?"

"From the pen of my critic, sir," rejoined Pott, with dignity.

"An abstruse subject, I should conceive," said Mr. Pickwick.

"Very, sir," responded Pott, looking intensely sage. "He _crammed_ for
it, to use a technical but expressive term; he read up for the subject,
at my desire, in the _Encyclopædia Britannica_."

"Indeed!" said Mr. Pickwick. "I was not aware that that valuable work
contained any information respecting Chinese metaphysics."

"He read, sir," rejoined Pott, laying his hand on Mr. Pickwick's knee,
and looking round with a smile of intellectual superiority, "he read
for metaphysics under the letter M, and for China under the letter C,
and combined his information, sir."

Mr. Pott's features assumed so much additional grandeur at the
recollection of the power and research displayed in the learned
effusions in question, that some minutes elapsed before Mr. Pickwick
felt emboldened to renew the conversation; at length, as the editor's
countenance gradually relaxed into its customary expression of moral
supremacy, he ventured to resume the discourse by asking:

"Is it fair to inquire what great object has brought you so far from
home?"

"That object which actuates and animates me in all my gigantic labours,
sir," replied Pott, with a calm smile; "my country's good."

"I supposed it was some public mission," observed Mr. Pickwick.

"Yes, sir," resumed Pott, "it is." Here, bending towards Mr. Pickwick,
he whispered in a deep, hollow voice, "A buff ball, sir, will take
place in Birmingham to-morrow evening."

"God bless me!" exclaimed Mr. Pickwick.

"Yes, sir, and supper," added Pott.

"You don't say so!" ejaculated Mr. Pickwick.

Pott nodded portentously.

Now, although Mr. Pickwick feigned to stand aghast at this disclosure,
he was so little versed in local politics that he was unable to form
an adequate comprehension of the importance of the dire conspiracy it
referred to; observing which, Mr. Pott, drawing forth the last number
of the _Eatanswill Gazette_, and referring to the same, delivered
himself of the following paragraph:


"+Hole-and-Corner Buffery.+

"A reptile contemporary has recently sweltered forth his black
venom in the vain and hopeless attempt of sullying the fair name of
our distinguished and excellent representative, the Honourable Mr.
Slumkey--that Slumkey whom we, long before he gained his present noble
and exalted position, predicted would one day be, as he now is, at
once his country's brightest honour, and her proudest boast: alike
her bold defender and her honest pride--our reptile contemporary, we
say, has made himself merry, at the expense of a superbly embossed
plated coal-scuttle, which has been presented to that glorious man
by his enraptured constituents, and towards the purchase of which,
the nameless wretch insinuates, the Honourable Mr. Slumkey himself
contributed, through a confidential friend of his butler's, more than
three-fourths of the whole sum subscribed. Why, does not the crawling
creature see, that even if this be the fact, the Honourable Mr. Slumkey
only appears in a still more amiable and radiant light than before, if
that be possible? Does not even _his_ obtuseness perceive that this
amiable and touching desire to carry out the wishes of the constituent
body, must for ever endear him to the hearts and souls of such of
his fellow-townsmen as are not worse than swine; or, in other words,
who are not as debased as our contemporary himself? But such is the
wretched trickery of hole-and-corner Buffery! These are not its only
artifices. Treason is abroad. We boldly state, now that we are goaded
to the disclosure, and we throw ourselves on the country and its
constables for protection--we boldly state that secret preparations
are at this moment in progress for a Buff ball; which is to be held in
a Buff town, in the very heart and centre of a Buff population; which
is to be conducted by a Buff master of the ceremonies; which is to be
attended by four ultra Buff members of Parliament, and the admission to
which is to be by Buff tickets! Does our fiendish contemporary wince?
Let him writhe, in impotent malice, as we pen the words, +We will be
there.+"

       *       *       *       *       *

"There, sir," said Pott, folding up the paper quite exhausted, "that is
the state of the case!"

The landlord and waiter entering at the moment with dinner, caused Mr.
Pott to put his finger on his lips, in token that he considered his
life in Mr. Pickwick's hands, and depended on his secrecy. Messrs. Bob
Sawyer and Benjamin Allen, who had irreverently fallen asleep during
the reading of the quotation from the _Eatanswill Gazette_, and the
discussion which followed it, were roused by the mere whispering of the
talismanic word "Dinner" in their ears: and to dinner they went with
good digestion waiting on appetite, and health on both, and a waiter on
all three.

In the course of the dinner and the sitting which succeeded it, Mr.
Pott descending, for a few moments, to domestic topics, informed Mr.
Pickwick that the air of Eatanswill not agreeing with his lady, she was
then engaged in making a tour of different fashionable watering-places
with a view to the recovery of her wonted health and spirits; this
was a delicate veiling of the fact that Mrs. Pott, acting upon her
often-repeated threat of separation, had, in virtue of an arrangement
negotiated by her brother, the Lieutenant, and concluded by Mr. Pott,
permanently retired with the faithful body-guard upon one moiety or
half-part of the annual income and profits arising from the editorship
and sale of the _Eatanswill Gazette_.

While the great Mr. Pott was dwelling upon this and other matters,
enlivening the conversation from time to time with various extracts
from his own lucubrations, a stern stranger, calling from the window
of a stage-coach, outward bound, which halted at the inn to deliver
packages, requested to know whether, if he stopped short on his journey
and remained there for the night, he could be furnished with the
necessary accommodation of a bed and bedstead.

"Certainly, sir," replied the landlord.

"I can, can I?" inquired the stranger, who seemed habitually suspicious
in look and manner.

"No doubt of it, sir," replied the landlord.

"Good," said the stranger. "Coachman, I get down here. Guard, my
carpet-bag!"

Bidding the other passengers good night, in a rather snappish manner,
the stranger alighted. He was a shortish gentleman, with very stiff
black hair cut in the porcupine or blacking-brush style, and standing
stiff and straight all over his head; his aspect was pompous and
threatening; his manner was peremptory; his eyes were sharp and
restless; and his whole bearing bespoke a feeling of great confidence
in himself, and a consciousness of immeasurable superiority over all
other people.

This gentleman was shown into the room originally assigned to the
patriotic Mr. Pott; and the waiter remarked, in dumb astonishment at
the singular coincidence, that he had no sooner lighted the candles
than the gentleman, diving into his hat, drew forth a newspaper, and
began to read it with the very same expression of indignant scorn,
which, upon the majestic features of Pott, had paralysed his energies
an hour before. The man observed too, that whereas Mr. Pott's scorn had
been roused by a newspaper headed the _Eatanswill Independent_, this
gentleman's withering contempt was awakened by a newspaper entitled the
_Eatanswill Gazette_.

"Send the landlord," said the stranger.

"Yes, sir," rejoined the waiter.

The landlord was sent, and came.

"Are you the landlord?" inquired the gentleman.

"I am, sir," replied the landlord.

"Do you know me?" demanded the gentleman.

"I have not that pleasure, sir," rejoined the landlord.

"My name is Slurk," said the gentleman.

The landlord slightly inclined his head.

"Slurk, sir," repeated the gentleman, haughtily. "Do you know me now,
man?"

The landlord scratched his head, looked at the ceiling, and at the
stranger, and smiled feebly.

"Do you know me, man?" inquired the stranger, angrily.

The landlord made a strong effort, and at length replied: "Well, sir, I
do _not_ know you."

"Great Heaven!" said the stranger, dashing his clenched fist upon the
table. "And this is popularity!"

The landlord took a step or two towards the door; the stranger fixing
his eyes upon him, resumed:

"This," said the stranger, "this is gratitude for years of labour and
study in behalf of the masses. I alight wet and weary; no enthusiastic
crowds press forward to greet their champion; the church-bells are
silent; the very name elicits no responsive feeling in their torpid
bosoms. It is enough," said the agitated Mr. Slurk, pacing to and fro,
"to curdle the ink in one's pen, and induce one to abandon their cause
for ever."

"Did you say brandy and water, sir?" said the landlord, venturing a
hint.

"Rum," said Mr. Slurk, turning fiercely upon him. "Have you got a fire
anywhere?"

"We can light one directly, sir," said the landlord.

"Which will throw out no heat until it is bed-time," interrupted Mr.
Slurk. "Is there anybody in the kitchen?"

Not a soul. There was a beautiful fire. Everybody had gone, and the
house door was closed for the night.

"I will drink my rum and water," said Mr. Slurk, "by the kitchen fire."
So, gathering up his hat and newspaper, he stalked solemnly behind the
landlord to that humble apartment, and throwing himself on a settle by
the fireside, resumed his countenance of scorn, and began to read and
drink in silent dignity.

Now, some demon of discord, flying over the Saracen's Head at that
moment, on casting down his eyes in mere idle curiosity, happened
to behold Slurk established comfortably by the kitchen fire, and
Pott slightly elevated with wine in another room; upon which the
malicious demon, darting down into the last-mentioned apartment with
inconceivable rapidity, passed at once into the head of Mr. Bob Sawyer,
and prompted him for his (the demon's) own evil purposes to speak as
follows:

"I say, we've let the fire out. It's uncommonly cold after the rain,
isn't it?"

"It really is," replied Mr. Pickwick, shivering.

"It wouldn't be a bad notion to have a cigar by the kitchen fire, would
it?" said Bob Sawyer, still prompted by the demon aforesaid.

"It would be particularly comfortable, _I_ think," replied Mr.
Pickwick. "Mr. Pott, what do you say?"

Mr. Pott yielded a ready assent; and all four travellers, each with his
glass in his hand, at once betook themselves to the kitchen, with Sam
Weller heading the procession to show them the way.

The stranger was still reading; he looked up and started. Mr. Pott
started.

"What's the matter?" whispered Mr. Pickwick.

"That reptile!" replied Pott.

"What reptile?" said Mr. Pickwick, looking about him for fear he should
tread on some overgrown black beetle or dropsical spider.

"That reptile," whispered Pott, catching Mr. Pickwick by the arm,
and pointing towards the stranger. "That reptile Slurk, of the
_Independent_!"

"Perhaps we had better retire," whispered Mr. Pickwick.

"Never, sir," rejoined Pott, pot-valiant in a double sense, "never."
With these words, Mr. Pott took up his position on an opposite settle,
and selecting one from a little bundle of newspapers began to read
against his enemy.

Mr. Pott, of course, read the _Independent_, and Mr. Slurk, of course,
read the _Gazette_; and each gentleman audibly expressed his contempt
of the other's compositions by bitter laughs and sarcastic sniffs;
whence they proceeded to more open expressions of opinion, such as
"absurd," "wretched," "atrocity," "humbug," "knavery," "dirt," "filth,"
"slime," "ditch-water," and other critical remarks of the like nature.

Both Mr. Bob Sawyer and Mr. Ben Allen had beheld these symptoms of
rivalry and hatred, with a degree of delight which imparted great
additional relish to the cigars at which they were puffing most
vigorously. The moment they began to flag, the mischievous Mr. Bob
Sawyer, addressing Slurk with great politeness, said:

"Will you allow me to look at your paper, sir, when you have quite done
with it?"

"You will find very little to repay you for your trouble in this
contemptible _thing_, sir," replied Slurk, bestowing a Satanic frown on
Pott.

"You shall have this presently," said Pott, looking up pale with rage
and quivering in his speech from the same cause. "Ha! ha! you will be
amused with this _fellow's_ audacity."

Terrific emphasis was laid on this "thing" and "fellow;" and the faces
of both editors began to glow with defiance.

"The ribaldry of this miserable man is despicably disgusting," said
Pott, pretending to address Bob Sawyer, and scowling upon Slurk.

Here, Mr. Slurk laughed very heartily, and folding up the paper so as
to get at a fresh column conveniently, said that the blockhead really
amused him.

"What an impudent blunderer this fellow is," said Pott, turning from
pink to crimson.

"Did you ever read any of this man's foolery, sir?" inquired Slurk, of
Bob Sawyer.

"Never," replied Bob; "is it very bad?"

"Oh, shocking! shocking!" rejoined Slurk.

"Really! Dear me, this is too atrocious!" exclaimed Pott, at this
juncture; still feigning to be absorbed in his reading.

"If you can wade through a few sentences of malice, meanness,
falsehood, perjury, treachery, and cant," said Slurk, handing the paper
to Bob, "you will, perhaps, be somewhat repaid by a laugh at the style
of this ungrammatical twaddler."

"What's that you said, sir?" inquired Mr. Pott, looking up, trembling
all over with passion.

"What's that to you, sir?" replied Slurk.

"Ungrammatical twaddler, was it, sir?" said Pott.

"Yes, sir, it was," replied Slurk; "and _blue bore_, sir, if you like
that better; ha! ha!"

Mr. Pott retorted not a word to this jocose insult, but deliberately
folded up his copy of the _Independent_, flattened it carefully down,
crushed it beneath his boot, spat upon it with great ceremony, and
flung it into the fire.

"There, sir," said Pott, retreating from the stove, "and that's the way
I would serve the viper who produces it, if I were not, fortunately for
him, restrained by the laws of my country."

"Serve him so, sir!" cried Slurk, starting up. "Those laws shall never
be appealed to by him, sir, in such a case. Serve him so, sir!"

"Hear! hear!" said Bob Sawyer.

"Nothing can be fairer," observed Mr. Ben Allen.

"Serve him so, sir!" reiterated Slurk, in a loud voice.

Mr. Pott darted a look of contempt, which might have withered an anchor.

"Serve him so, sir!" reiterated Slurk, in a louder voice than before.

"I will not, sir," rejoined Pott.

"Oh, you won't, won't you, sir?" said Mr. Slurk, in a taunting manner;
"you hear this, gentlemen! He won't; not that he's afraid; oh no! he
_won't_. Ha! ha!"

"I consider you, sir," said Mr. Pott, moved by this sarcasm, "I
consider you a viper. I look upon you, sir, as a man who has placed
himself beyond the pale of society, by his most audacious, disgraceful,
and abominable public conduct. I view you, sir, personally and
politically, in no other light than as a most unparalleled and
unmitigated viper."

The indignant _Independent_ did not wait to hear the end of this
personal denunciation; for, catching up his carpet-bag, which was well
stuffed with movables, he swung it in the air as Pott turned away,
and, letting it fall with a circular sweep on his head, just at that
particular angle of the bag where a good thick hair-brush happened to
be packed, caused a sharp crash to be heard throughout the kitchen and
brought him at once to the ground.

"Gentlemen," cried Mr. Pickwick, as Pott started up and
seized the fire-shovel, "gentlemen! Consider, for Heaven's
sake--help--Sam--here--pray, gentlemen--interfere, somebody."

Uttering these incoherent exclamations, Mr. Pickwick rushed between
the infuriated combatants just in time to receive the carpet-bag on
one side of his body, and the fire-shovel on the other. Whether the
representatives of the public feeling of Eatanswill were blinded by
animosity, or (being both acute reasoners) saw the advantage of having
a third party between them to bear all the blows, certain it is that
they paid not the slightest attention to Mr. Pickwick, but defying
each other with great spirit, plied the carpet-bag and the fire-shovel
most fearlessly. Mr. Pickwick would unquestionably have suffered
severely for his humane interference, if Mr. Weller, attracted by his
master's cries, had not rushed in at the moment, and, snatching up a
meal-sack, effectually stopped the conflict by drawing it over the head
and shoulders of the mighty Pott, and clasping him tight round the
shoulders.

"Take avay that 'ere bag from t'other madman," said Sam to Ben Allen
and Bob Sawyer, who had done nothing but dodge round the group, each
with a tortoise-shell lancet in his hand, ready to bleed the first man
stunned. "Give it up, you wretched little creetur, or I'll smother you
in it."

Awed by these threats, and quite out of breath, the _Independent_
suffered himself to be disarmed; and Mr. Weller, removing the
extinguisher from Pott, set him free with a caution.

"You take yourself off to bed quietly," said Sam, "or I'll put you both
in it, and let you fight it out vith the mouth tied, as I vould a dozen
sich, if they played these games. And you have the goodness to come
this here vay, sir, if you please."

Thus addressing his master, Sam took him by the arm, and led him off,
while the rival editors were severally removed to their beds by the
landlord, under the inspection of Mr. Bob Sawyer and Mr. Benjamin
Allen; breathing, as they went away, many sanguinary threats, and
making vague appointments for mortal combat next day. When they came to
think it over, however, it occurred to them that they could do it much
better in print, so they recommenced deadly hostilities without delay;
and all Eatanswill rung with their boldness on paper.

They had taken themselves off in separate coaches, early next morning,
before the other travellers were stirring; and the weather having now
cleared up, the chaise companions once more turned their faces to
London.



CHAPTER XXIV

[Illustration]

  _Involving a serious Change in the Weller Family, and the untimely
    Downfall of the Red-nosed Mr. Stiggins_


Considering it a matter of delicacy to abstain from introducing either
Bob Sawyer or Ben Allen to the young couple, until they were fully
prepared to expect them, and wishing to spare Arabella's feelings as
much as possible, Mr. Pickwick proposed that he and Sam should alight
in the neighbourhood of the George and Vulture, and that the two
young men should for the present take up their quarters elsewhere. To
this, they very readily agreed, and the proposition was accordingly
acted upon; Mr. Ben Allen and Mr. Bob Sawyer betaking themselves
to a sequestered pot-shop on the remotest confines of the Borough,
behind the bar-door of which their names had in other days very often
appeared, at the head of long and complex calculations worked in white
chalk.

"Dear me, Mr. Weller," said the pretty housemaid, meeting Sam at the
door.

"Dear _me_, I vish it vos, my dear," replied Sam, dropping behind to
let his master get out of hearing. "Wot a sweet-looking creetur you
are, Mary!"

"Lor, Mr. Weller, what nonsense you do talk!" said Mary. "Oh! _don't_,
Mr. Weller."

"Don't what, my dear?" said Sam.

"Why, that," replied the pretty housemaid. "Lor, do get along with
you." Thus admonishing him, the pretty housemaid pushed Sam against the
wall, declaring that he had tumbled her cap, and put her hair quite out
of curl.

"And prevented what I was going to say, besides," added Mary. "There's
a letter been waiting for you four days; you hadn't been gone half an
hour when it came; and more than that, it's got 'Immediate' on the
outside."

"Vere is it, my love?" inquired Sam.

"I took care of it for you, or I dare say it would have been lost
long before this," replied Mary. "There, take it; it's more than you
deserve."

With these words, after many pretty little coquettish doubts and fears,
and wishes that she might not have lost it, Mary produced the letter
from behind the nicest little muslin tucker possible, and handed it
over to Sam, who thereupon kissed it with much gallantry and devotion.

"My goodness me!" said Mary, adjusting the tucker and feigning
unconsciousness, "you seem to have grown very fond of it all at once."

To this Mr. Weller only replied by a wink, the intense meaning of which
no description could convey the faintest idea of; and, sitting himself
down beside Mary on a window seat, opened the letter and glanced at the
contents.

"Hallo!" exclaimed Sam, "wot's all this?"

"Nothing the matter, I hope?" said Mary, peeping over his shoulder.

"Bless them eyes o' yourn!" said Sam, looking up.

"Never mind my eyes; you had much better read your letter," said the
pretty housemaid; and as she said so, she made the eyes twinkle with
such slyness and beauty that they were perfectly irresistible.

Sam refreshed himself with a kiss, and read as follows:

    "_Markis Gran
          By dorken
               Wensdy_

  "My dear Sammle,

  "I am wery sorry to have the pleasure of bein a Bear of ill news
  your Mother in law cort cold consekens of imprudently settin too
  long on the damp grass in the rain a hearin of a shepherd who
  warnt able to leave off till late at night owen to his havin
  vound his-self up vith brandy and vater and not bein able to stop
  his-self till he got a little sober which took a many hours to
  do the doctor says that if she'd svallo'd varm brandy and vater
  artervards insted of afore she mightn't have been no vus her veels
  wos immedetly greased and everythink done to set her agoin as could
  be inwented your farther had hopes as she vould have vorked round
  as usual but just as she wos a turnen the corner my boy she took
  the wrong road and vent down hill vith a welocity you never see
  and notvithstandin that the drag wos put on drectly by the medikel
  man it wornt of no use at all for she paid the last pike at twenty
  minutes afore six o'clock yesterday evenin havin done the jouney
  wery much under the reglar time vich praps was partly owen to her
  haven taken in wery little luggage by the vay your father says that
  if you vill come and see me Sammy he vill take it as a wery great
  favor for I am wery lonely Samivel n b he _vill_ have it spelt that
  vay vich I say ant right as there is sich a many things to settle
  he is sure your guvner wont object of course he vill not Sammy for
  I knows him better so he sends his dooty in which I join and am
  Samivel infernally yours

      +Tony Veller+."

"Wot a incomprehensible letter," said Sam; "who's to know wot it means,
vith all this he-ing and I-ing! It ain't my father's writin' cept this
here signater in print letters; that's his."

"Perhaps he got somebody to write it for him, and signed it himself
afterwards," said the pretty housemaid.

"Stop a minit," replied Sam, running over the letter again, and pausing
here and there, to reflect, as he did so. "You've hit it. The gen'l'm'n
as wrote it wos a tellin' all about the misfortun' in a proper vay,
and then my father comes a lookin' over him, and complicates the whole
concern by puttin' his oar in. That's just the wery sort o' thing he'd
do. You're right, Mary, my dear."

Having satisfied himself on this point, Sam read the letter all over
once more, and, appearing to form a clear notion of its contents for
the first time, ejaculated thoughtfully, as he folded it up:

"And so the poor creetur's dead! I'm sorry for it. She warn't a bad
disposed 'ooman, if them shepherds had let her alone. I'm wery sorry
for it."

Mr. Weller uttered these words in so serious a manner, that the pretty
housemaid cast down her eyes and looked very grave.

"Hows'ever," said Sam, putting the letter in his pocket with a gentle
sigh, "it wos to be--and wos, as the old lady said arter she'd married
the footman. Can't be helped now, can it, Mary?"

Mary shook her head, and sighed too.

"I must apply to the hemperor for leave of absence," said Sam.

Mary sighed again. The letter was so very affecting.

"Good-bye!" said Sam.

"Good-bye," rejoined the pretty housemaid, turning her head away.

"Well, shake hands, won't you?" said Sam.

The pretty housemaid put out a hand which, although it was a
housemaid's, was a very small one, and rose to go.

"I shan't be wery long avay," said Sam.

"You're always away," said Mary, giving her head the slightest possible
toss in the air. "You no sooner come, Mr. Weller, than you go again."

Mr. Weller drew the household beauty closer to him, and entered upon
a whispering conversation, which had not proceeded far, when she
turned her face round and condescended to look at him again. When they
parted, it was somehow or other indispensably necessary for her to go
to her room, and arrange the cap and curls before she could think of
presenting herself to her mistress; which preparatory ceremony she
went off to perform, bestowing many nods and smiles on Sam over the
banisters as she tripped upstairs.

"I shan't be avay more than a day, or two, sir, at the farthest," said
Sam, when he had communicated to Mr. Pickwick the intelligence of his
father's loss.

"As long as may be necessary, Sam," replied Mr. Pickwick, "you have my
full permission to remain."

Sam bowed.

"You will tell your father, Sam, that if I can be of any assistance to
him in his present situation, I shall be most willing and ready to lend
him any aid in my power," said Mr. Pickwick.

"Thankee, sir," rejoined Sam. "I'll mention it, sir."

And with some expressions of mutual good-will and interest, master and
man separated.

It was just seven o'clock when Samuel Weller, alighting from the box of
a stage-coach which passed through Dorking, stood within a few hundred
yards of the Marquis of Granby. It was a cold, dull, evening; the
little street looked dreary and dismal; and the mahogany countenance of
the noble and gallant Marquis seemed to wear a more sad and melancholy
expression than it was wont to do, as it swung to and fro, creaking
mournfully in the wind. The blinds were pulled down, and the shutters
partly closed; of the knot of loungers that usually collected about the
door, not one was to be seen; the place was silent and desolate.

Seeing nobody of whom he could ask any preliminary questions, Sam
walked softly in. Glancing round, he quickly recognised his parent in
the distance.

The widower was seated at a small round table in the little room behind
the bar, smoking a pipe, with his eyes intently fixed upon the fire.
The funeral had evidently taken place that day; for attached to his
hat, which he still retained on his head, was a hatband measuring about
a yard and a half in length, which hung over the top-rail of the chair
and streamed negligently down. Mr. Weller was in a very abstracted and
contemplative mood. Notwithstanding that Sam called him by name several
times, he still continued to smoke with the same fixed and quiet
countenance, and was only roused ultimately by his son's placing the
palm of his hand on his shoulder.

"Sammy," said Mr. Weller, "you're velcome."

"I've been a callin' to you half a dozen times," said Sam, hanging his
hat on a peg, "but you didn't hear me."

"No, Sammy," replied Mr. Weller, again looking thoughtfully at the
fire. "I wos in a referee, Sammy."

"Wot about?" inquired Sam, drawing his chair up to the fire.

"In a referee, Sammy," replied the elder Mr. Weller, "regarding _her_,
Samivel." Here Mr. Weller jerked his head in the direction of Dorking
churchyard, in mute explanation that his words referred to the late
Mrs. Weller.

"I wos a thinkin', Sammy," said Mr. Weller, eyeing his son, with
great earnestness, over his pipe; as if to assure him that, however
extraordinary and incredible the declaration might appear, it was
nevertheless calmly and deliberately uttered. "I wos a thinkin', Sammy,
that upon the whole I wos wery sorry she wos gone."

"Vell, and so you ought to be," replied Sam.

Mr. Weller nodded his acquiescence in the sentiment, and again
fastening his eyes on the fire, shrouded himself in a cloud, and mused
deeply.

"Those wos wery sensible observations as she made, Sammy," said Mr.
Weller, driving the smoke away with his hand, after a long silence.

"Wot observations?" inquired Sam.

"Them as she made, arter she was took ill," replied the old gentleman.

"Wot wos they?"

"Somethin' to this here effect. 'Veller,' she says, 'I'm afeard
I've not done by you quite wot I ought to have done; you're a wery
kind-hearted man, and I might ha' made your home more comfortabler.
I begin to see now,' she says, 'ven it's too late, that if a married
'ooman vishes to be religious, she should begin vith dischargin' her
dooties at home, and makin' them as is about her cheerful and happy,
and that vile she goes to church or chapel, or wot not, at all proper
times, she should be wery careful not to conwert this sort o' thing
into a excuse for idleness or self-indulgence. I _have_ done this,' she
says, 'and I've wasted time and substance on them as has done it more
than me; but I hope ven I'm gone, Veller, that you'll think on me as I
wos afore I know'd them people, and as I raly wos by natur'.' 'Susan,'
says I--I wos took up wery short by this, Samivel; I von't deny it, my
boy--'Susan,' I says, 'you've been a wery good vife to me, altogether;
don't say nothin' at all about it: keep a good heart, my dear; and
you'll live to see me punch that 'ere Stiggins's head yet.' She smiled
at this, Samivel," said the old gentleman, stifling a sigh with his
pipe, "but she died arter all!"

"Vell," said Sam, venturing to offer a little homely consolation, after
the lapse of three or four minutes, consumed by the old gentleman in
slowly shaking his head from side to side and solemnly smoking; "vell,
gov'ner, ve must all come to it, one day or another."

"So we must, Sammy," said Mr. Weller the elder.

"There's a Providence in it all," said Sam.

"O' course there is," replied his father, with a nod of grave approval.
"Wot 'ud become of the undertakers without it, Sammy?"

Lost in the immense field of conjecture opened by this reflection, the
elder Mr. Weller laid his pipe on the table, and stirred the fire with
a meditative visage.

While the old gentleman was thus engaged, a very buxom-looking cook,
dressed in mourning, who had been bustling about in the bar, glided
into the room, and bestowing many smirks of recognition upon Sam,
silently stationed herself at the back of his father's chair, and
announced her presence by a slight cough; the which, being disregarded,
was followed by a louder one.

"Hallo!" said the elder Mr. Weller, dropping the poker as he looked
round, and hastily drew his chair away. "Wot's the matter now?"

"Have a cup of tea, there's a good soul," replied the buxom female,
coaxingly.

"I von't," replied Mr. Weller, in a somewhat boisterous manner, "I'll
see you"--Mr. Weller hastily checked himself, and added in a low tone,
"furder fust."

"Oh, dear, dear! How adversity does change people!" said the lady,
looking upwards.

"It's the only think 'twixt this and the doctor as shall change _my_
condition," muttered Mr. Weller.

"I really never saw a man so cross," said the buxom female.

"Never mind. It's all for my own good; vich is the reflection vith wich
the penitent schoolboy comforted his feelin's ven they flogged him,"
rejoined the old gentleman.

The buxom female shook her head with a compassionate and sympathising
air; and, appealing to Sam, inquired whether his father really ought
not to make an effort to keep up, and not give way to that lowness of
spirits.

"You see, Mr. Samuel," said the buxom female, "as I was telling him
yesterday, he _will_ feel lonely, he can't expect but what he should,
sir, but he should keep up a good heart, because, dear me, I'm sure we
all pity his loss, and are ready to do anything for him; and there's no
situation in life so bad, Mr. Samuel, that it can't be mended. Which is
what a very worthy person said to me when my husband died." Here the
speaker, putting her hand before her mouth, coughed again, and looked
affectionately at the elder Mr. Weller.

"As I don't rekvire any o' your conversation just now, mum, vill you
have the goodness to re-tire?" inquired Mr. Weller in grave and steady
voice.

"Well, Mr. Weller," said the buxom female, "I'm sure I only spoke to
you out of kindness."

"Wery likely, mum," replied Mr. Weller. "Samivel, show the lady out,
and shut the door arter her."

This hint was not lost upon the buxom female; for she at once left the
room, and slammed the door behind her, upon which Mr. Weller senior,
falling back in his chair in a violent perspiration, said:

"Sammy, if I was to stop here alone vun veek--only vun veek, my
boy--that 'ere 'ooman 'ud marry me by force and wiolence afore it was
over."

"Wot! Is she so wery fond on you?" inquired Sam.

"Fond!" replied his father, "I can't keep her avay from me. If I was
locked up in a fire-proof chest vith a patent Brahmin, she'd find means
to get at me, Sammy."

"Wot a thing it is to be so sought arter!" observed Sam, smiling.

"I don't take no pride out on it, Sammy," replied Mr. Weller, poking
the fire vehemently, "it's a horrid sitiwation. I'm actiwally drove
out o' house and home by it. The breath was scarcely out o' your
poor mother-in-law's body, ven vun old 'ooman sends me a pot o' jam,
and another a pot o' jelly, and another brews a blessed large jug
o' camomile-tea, vich she brings in vith her own hands." Mr. Weller
paused with an aspect of intense disgust, and, looking round, added
in a whisper: "They wos all widders, Sammy, all on 'em, 'cept the
camomile-tea vun, as wos a single young lady o' fifty-three."

Sam gave a comical look in reply, and the old gentleman having broken
an obstinate lump of coal, with a countenance expressive of as much
earnestness and malice as if it had been the head of one of the widows
last mentioned, said:

"In short, Sammy, I feel that I ain't safe anyveres but on the box."

"How are you safer there than anyveres else?" interrupted Sam.

"'Cos a coachman's a privileged indiwidual," replied Mr. Weller,
looking fixedly at his son. "'Cos a coachman may do vithout suspicion
wot other men may not; 'cos a coachman may be on the wery amicablest
terms with eighty mile o' females, and yet nobody think that he ever
means to marry any vun among 'em. And wot other man can say the same,
Sammy?"

"Vell, there's somethin' in that," said Sam.

"If your gov'ner had been a coachman," reasoned Mr. Weller, "do you
suppose as that 'ere jury 'ud ever ha' conwicted him, s'posin' it
possible as the matter could ha' gone to that extremity? They dustn't
ha' done it."

"Vy not?" said Sam, rather disparagingly.

"Vy not!" rejoined Mr. Weller; "'cos it 'ud ha' gone agin their
consciences. A reg'lar coachman's a sort o' con-nectin' link betwixt
singleness and matrimony, and every practicable man knows it."

"Wot! You mean, they're gen'ral fav'rites, and nobody takes adwantage
on 'em, p'raps?" said Sam.

His father nodded.

"How it ever come to that 'ere pass," resumed the parent Weller,
"I can't say. Vy it is that long-stage coachmen possess such
insiniwations, and is alvays looked up to--a-dored I may say--by ev'ry
young 'ooman in ev'ry town he vurks through, I don't know. I only know
that it is so. It's a reg'lation of natur--a dispensary, as your poor
mother-in-law used to say."

"A dispensation," said Sam, correcting the old gentleman.

"Wery good, Samivel, a dispensation if you like it better," returned
Mr. Weller; "_I_ call it a dispensary, and it's alvays writ up so, at
the places vere they gives you physic for nothin' in your own bottles;
that's all."

With these words Mr. Weller re-filled and re-lighted his pipe, and once
more summing up a meditative expression of countenance, continued as
follows:

"Therefore, my boy, as I do not see the adwisability o' stoppin' here
to be married vether I vant to or not, and as at the same time I do
not wish to separate myself from them interestin' members o' society
altogether, I have come to the determination o' drivin the Safety,
and puttin' up vunce more at the Bell Savage, vich is my nat'ral-born
element, Sammy."

"And wot's to become o' the bis'ness?" inquired Sam.

"The bis'ness, Samivel," replied the old gentleman, "good-vill, stock,
and fixters, vill be sold by private contract; and out o' the money,
two hundred pound, agreeable to rekvest o' your mother-in-law's to me
a little afore she died, vill be inwested in your name in--wot do you
call them things agin?"

"Wot things?" inquired Sam.

"Them things as is alvays a goin' up and down, in the City."

"Omnibuses?" suggested Sam.

"Nonsense," replied Mr. Weller. "Them things as is alvays a
fluctooatin', and gettin' theirselves inwolved somehow or another vith
the national debt, and the checquers bills, and all that."

"Oh! the funds," said Sam.

"Ah!" rejoined Mr. Weller, "the funs; two hundred pounds o' the money
is to be inwested for you, Samivel, in the funs; four and a half per
cent. reduced counsels, Sammy."

"Wery kind o' the old lady to think o' me," said Sam, "and I'm wery
much obliged to her."

"The rest vill be inwested in my name," continued the elder Mr. Weller;
"and ven I'm took off the road, it'll come to you, so take care you
don't spend it all at vunst, my boy, and mind that no widder gets a
inklin' o' your fortun', or you're done."

Having delivered this warning, Mr. Weller resumed his pipe with a more
serene countenance; the disclosure of these matters appearing to have
eased his mind considerably.

"Somebody's a tappin' at the door," said Sam.

"Let 'em tap," replied his father, with dignity.

Sam acted upon the direction. There was another tap, and another, and
then a long row of taps; upon which Sam inquired why the tapper was not
admitted.

"Hush," whispered Mr. Weller, with apprehensive looks, "don't take no
notice on 'em, Sammy, it's vun o' the widders, p'raps."

No notice being taken of the taps, the unseen visitor, after a short
lapse, ventured to open the door and peep in. It was no female head
that was thrust in at the partially opened door, but the long black
locks and red face of Mr. Stiggins. Mr. Weller's pipe fell from his
hands.

The reverend gentleman gradually opened the door by almost imperceptible
degrees, until the aperture was just wide enough to admit of the
passage of his lank body, when he glided into the room and closed it
after him with great care and gentleness. Turning towards Sam, and
raising his hands and eyes in token of the unspeakable sorrow with
which he regarded the calamity that had befallen the family, he carried
the high-backed chair to his old corner by the fire, and, seating
himself on the very edge, drew forth a brown pocket-handkerchief, and
applied the same to his optics.

While this was going forward, the elder Mr. Weller sat back in his
chair, with his eyes wide open, his hands planted on his knees,
and his whole countenance expressive of absorbing and overwhelming
astonishment. Sam sat opposite him in perfect silence, waiting, with
eager curiosity, for the termination of the scene.

Mr. Stiggins kept the brown pocket-handkerchief before his eyes for
some minutes, moaning decently meanwhile, and then, mastering his
feelings by a strong effort, put it in his pocket and buttoned it up.
After this he stirred the fire; after that, he rubbed his hands and
looked at Sam.

"Oh, my young friend," said Mr. Stiggins, breaking the silence in a
very low voice, "here's a sorrowful affliction!"

Sam nodded very slightly.

"For the man of wrath, too!" added Mr. Stiggins; "it makes a vessel's
heart bleed!"

Mr. Weller was overheard by his son to murmur something relative to
making a vessel's nose bleed; but Mr. Stiggins heard him not.

"Do you know, young man," whispered Mr. Stiggins, drawing his chair
closer to Sam, "whether she has left Emanuel anything?"

"Who's he?" inquired Sam.

"The chapel," replied Mr. Stiggins; "our chapel; our fold, Mr. Samuel."

"She hasn't left the fold nothin', nor the shepherd nothin', nor the
animals nothin'," said Sam, decisively; "nor the dogs neither."

Mr. Stiggins looked slyly at Sam; glanced at the old gentleman, who was
sitting with his eyes closed, as if asleep; and drawing his chair still
nearer, said:

"Nothing for _me_, Mr. Samuel?"

Sam shook his head.

"I think there's something," said Stiggins, turning as pale as he could
turn. "Consider, Mr. Samuel; no little token?"

"Not so much as the vorth o' that 'ere old umberella o' yourn," replied
Sam.

"Perhaps," said Mr. Stiggins, hesitatingly, after a few moments' deep
thought, "perhaps she recommended me to the care of the man of wrath,
Mr. Samuel?"

"I think that's wery likely, from what he said," rejoined Sam; "he wos
speakin' about you, jist now."

"Was he, though?" exclaimed Stiggins, brightening up. "Ah! He's
changed, I dare say. We might live very comfortably together now, Mr.
Samuel, eh? I could take care of his property when you are away--good
care, you see."

Heaving a long-drawn sigh, Mr. Stiggins paused for a response. Sam
nodded, and Mr. Weller the elder gave vent to an extraordinary sound,
which being neither a groan, nor a grunt, nor a gasp, nor a growl,
seemed to partake in some degree of the character of all four.

Mr. Stiggins, encouraged by this sound, which he understood to betoken
remorse or repentance, looked about him, rubbed his hands, wept,
smiled, wept again, and then, walking softly across the room to a
well-remembered shelf in one corner, took down a tumbler, and with
great deliberation put four lumps of sugar in it. Having got thus far,
he looked about him again, and sighed grievously; with that, he walked
softly into the bar, and presently returning with the tumbler half full
of pine-apple rum, advanced to the kettle which was singing gaily on
the hob, mixed his grog, stirred it, sipped it, sat down, and taking a
long and hearty pull at the rum and water, stopped for breath.

The elder Mr. Weller, who still continued to make various strange and
uncouth attempts to appear asleep, offered not a single word during
these proceedings; but when Stiggins stopped for breath, he darted upon
him, and snatching the tumbler from his hand, threw the remainder of
the rum and water in his face, and the glass itself into the grate.
Then, seizing the reverend gentleman firmly by the collar, he suddenly
fell to kicking him most furiously: accompanying every application
of his top-boots to Mr. Stiggins's person, with sundry violent and
incoherent anathemas upon his limbs, eyes, and body.

"Sammy," said Mr. Weller, "put my hat on tight for me."

Sam dutifully adjusted the hat with the long hatband more firmly on his
father's head, and the old gentleman, resuming his kicking with greater
agility than before, tumbled with Mr. Stiggins through the bar, and
through the passage, out at the front door, and so into the street; the
kicking continuing the whole way, and increasing in vehemence, rather
than diminishing, every time the top-boot was lifted.

It was a beautiful and exhilarating sight to see the red-nosed man
writhing in Mr. Weller's grasp, and his whole frame quivering with
anguish as kick followed kick in rapid succession; it was a still more
exciting spectacle to behold Mr. Weller, after a powerful struggle,
immersing Mr. Stiggins's head in a horse-trough full of water, and
holding it there, until he was half suffocated.

"There!" said Mr. Weller, throwing all his energy into one most
complicated kick, as he at length permitted Mr. Stiggins to withdraw
his head from the trough, "send any vun o' them lazy shepherds here,
and I'll pound him to a jelly first, and drownd him artervards! Sammy,
help me in, and fill me a small glass of brandy. I'm out o' breath, my
boy."

[Illustration: _It was a beautiful and exhilarating sight to see the
red-nosed man writhing in Mr. Weller's grasp._]



CHAPTER XXV

[Illustration]

  _Comprising the final Exit of Mr. Jingle and Job Trotter; with a
    great Morning of Business in Gray's Inn Square. Concluding with a
    Double Knock at Mr. Perker's Door_


When Arabella, after some gentle preparation, and many assurances that
there was not the least occasion for being low-spirited, was at length
made acquainted by Mr. Pickwick with the unsatisfactory result of his
visit to Birmingham, she burst into tears, and sobbing aloud, lamented
in moving terms that she should have been the unhappy cause of any
estrangement between a father and his son.

"My dear girl," said Mr. Pickwick, kindly, "it is no fault of yours. It
was impossible to foresee that the old gentleman would be so strongly
prepossessed against his son's marriage, you know. I am sure," added
Mr. Pickwick, glancing at her pretty face, "he can have very little
idea of the pleasure he denies himself."

"Oh, my dear Mr. Pickwick," said Arabella, "what shall we do, if he
continues to be angry with us?"

"Why, wait patiently, my dear, until he thinks better of it," replied
Mr. Pickwick, cheerfully.

"But, dear Mr. Pickwick, what is to become of Nathaniel if his father
withdraws his assistance?" urged Arabella.

"In that case, my love," rejoined Mr. Pickwick, "I will venture to
prophesy that he will find some other friend who will not be backward
in helping him to start in the world."

The significance of this reply was not so well disguised by Mr.
Pickwick but that Arabella understood it. So, throwing her arms round
his neck, and kissing him affectionately, she sobbed louder than before.

"Come, come," said Mr. Pickwick, taking her hand, "we will wait here a
few days longer, and see whether he writes or takes any other notice of
your husband's communication. If not, I have thought of half a dozen
plans, any one of which would make you happy at once. There, my dear,
there!"

With these words, Mr. Pickwick gently pressed Arabella's hand and bade
her dry her eyes, and not distress her husband. Upon which, Arabella,
who was one of the best little creatures alive, put her handkerchief in
her reticule, and by the time Mr. Winkle joined them, exhibited in full
lustre the same beaming smiles and sparkling eyes that had originally
captivated him.

"This is a distressing predicament for these young people," thought Mr.
Pickwick, as he dressed himself next morning. "I'll walk up to Perker's
and consult him about the matter."

As Mr. Pickwick was further prompted to betake himself to Gray's Inn
Square by an anxious desire to come to a pecuniary settlement with the
kind-hearted little attorney without further delay, he made a hurried
breakfast, and executed his intention so speedily, that ten o'clock had
not struck when he reached Gray's Inn.

It still wanted ten minutes to the hour when he had ascended the
staircase on which Perker's chambers were. The clerks had not arrived
yet, and he beguiled the time by looking out of the staircase window.

The healthy light of a fine October morning made even the dingy old
houses brighten up a little: some of the dusty windows actually looking
almost cheerful as the sun's rays gleamed upon them. Clerk after clerk
hastened into the square by one or other of the entrances, and looking
up at the Hall clock, accelerated or decreased his rate of walking
according to the time at which his office hours nominally commenced;
the half-past nine o'clock people suddenly becoming very brisk, and
the ten o'clock gentlemen falling into a pace of most aristocratic
slowness. The clock struck ten, and clerks poured in faster than ever,
each one in a greater perspiration than his predecessor. The noise of
unlocking and opening doors echoed and re-echoed on every side; heads
appeared as if by magic in every window; the porters took up their
stations for the day; the slipshod laundresses hurried off; the postman
ran from house to house; and the whole legal hive was in a bustle.

"You're early, Mr. Pickwick," said a voice behind him.

"Ah, Mr. Lowten," replied that gentleman, looking round, and
recognising his old acquaintance.

"Precious warm walking, isn't it?" said Lowten, drawing a Bramah key
from his pocket, with a small plug therein, to keep the dust out.

"You appear to feel it so," rejoined Mr. Pickwick, smiling at the
clerk, who was literally red-hot.

"I've come along rather, I can tell you," replied Lowten. "It went the
half-hour as I came through the Polygon. I'm here before _him_, though,
so I don't mind."

Comforting himself with this reflection, Mr. Lowten extracted the
plug from the door-key, and having opened the door, re-plugged and
re-pocketed his Bramah, and picked up the letters which the postman had
dropped through the box. He then ushered Mr. Pickwick into the office.
Here, in the twinkling of an eye, he divested himself of his coat, put
on a threadbare garment which he took out of a desk, hung up his hat,
pulled forth a few sheets of cartridge and blotting paper in alternate
layers, and sticking a pen behind his ear, rubbed his hands with an
air of great satisfaction.

"There you see, Mr. Pickwick," he said, "now I'm complete. I've got my
office coat on, and my pad out, and let him come as soon as he likes.
You haven't got a pinch of snuff about you, have you?"

"No, I have not," replied Mr. Pickwick.

"I'm sorry for it," said Lowten. "Never mind. I'll run out presently,
and get a bottle of soda. Don't I look rather queer about the eyes, Mr.
Pickwick?"

The individual appealed to, surveyed Mr. Lowten's eyes from a distance,
and expressed his opinion that no unusual queerness was perceptible in
those features.

"I'm glad of it," said Lowten. "We were keeping it up pretty tolerably
at the Stump last night, and I'm rather out of sorts this morning.
Perker's been about that business of yours, by-the-bye."

"What business?" inquired Mr. Pickwick. "Mrs. Bardell's costs?"

"No, I don't mean that," replied Mr. Lowten. "About getting that
customer that we paid the ten shillings in the pound to the bill
discounter for, on your account--to get him out of the Fleet, you
know--about getting him to Demerara."

"Oh! Mr. Jingle?" said Mr. Pickwick, hastily. "Yes. Well?"

"Well, it's all arranged," said Lowten, mending his pen. "The agent at
Liverpool said he had been obliged to you many times when you were in
business, and he would be glad to take him on your recommendation."

"That's well," said Mr. Pickwick. "I am delighted to hear it."

"But I say," resumed Lowten, scraping the back of the pen preparatory
to making a fresh split, "_what_ a soft chap that other is!"

"Which other?"

"Why, that servant, or friend, or whatever he is; _you_ know; Trotter."

"Ah?" said Mr. Pickwick, with a smile. "I always thought him the
reverse."

"Well, and so did I, from what little I saw of him," replied Lowten,
"it only shows how one may be deceived. What do you think of _his_
going to Demerara, too?"

"What! And giving up what was offered him here!" exclaimed Mr. Pickwick.

"Treating Perker's offer of eighteen bob a-week, and a rise if he
behaved himself, like dirt," replied Lowten. "He said he must go along
with the other one, and so they persuaded Perker to write again, and
they've got him something on the same estate; not near so good, Perker
says, as a convict would get in New South Wales, if he appeared at his
trial in a new suit of clothes."

"Foolish fellow," said Mr. Pickwick, with glistening eyes. "Foolish
fellow."

"Oh, it's worse than foolish; it's downright sneaking, you know,"
replied Lowten, nibbing the pen with a contemptuous face. "He says
that he's the only friend he ever had, and he's attached to him, and
all that. Friendship's a very good thing in its way: we are all very
friendly and comfortable at the Stump, for instance, over our grog,
where every man pays for himself; but damn hurting yourself for anybody
else, you know! No man should have more than two attachments--the
first, to number one, and the second to the ladies; that's what
I say--ha! ha!" Mr. Lowten concluded with a loud laugh, half in
jocularity, and half in derision, which was prematurely cut short by
the sound of Perker's footsteps on the stairs: at the first approach
of which he vaulted on his stool with an agility most remarkable, and
wrote intensely.

The greeting between Mr. Pickwick and his professional adviser was
warm and cordial; the client was scarcely ensconced in the attorney's
arm-chair, however, when a knock was heard at the door, and a voice
inquired whether Mr. Perker was within.

"Hark!" said Perker, "that's one of our vagabond friends--Jingle
himself, my dear sir. Will you see him?"

"What do you think?" inquired Mr. Pickwick, hesitating.

"Yes, I think you had better. Here, you sir, what's your name, walk in,
will you?"

In compliance with this unceremonious invitation, Jingle and Job
walked into the room, but, seeing Mr. Pickwick, stopped short in some
confusion.

"Well," said Perker, "don't you know that gentleman?"

"Good reason to," replied Mr. Jingle, stepping forward. "Mr.
Pickwick--deepest obligations--life preserver--made a man of me--you
shall never repent it, sir."

"I am happy to hear you say so," said Mr. Pickwick. "You look much
better."

"Thanks to you, sir--great change--Majesty's Fleet--unwholesome
place--very," said Jingle, shaking his head. He was decently and
cleanly dressed, and so was Job, who stood bolt upright behind him,
staring at Mr. Pickwick with a visage of iron.

"When do they go to Liverpool?" inquired Mr. Pickwick, half aside to
Perker.

"This evening, sir, at seven o'clock," said Job, taking one step
forward. "By the heavy coach from the city, sir."

"Are your places taken?"

"They are, sir," replied Job.

"You have fully made up your mind to go?"

"I have, sir," answered Job.

"With regard to such an outfit as was indispensable for Jingle," said
Perker, addressing Mr. Pickwick aloud, "I have taken upon myself to
make an arrangement for the deduction of a small sum from his quarterly
salary, which, being made only for one year, and regularly remitted,
will provide for that expense. I entirely disapprove of your doing
anything for him, my dear sir, which is not dependent on his own
exertions and good conduct."

"Certainly," interposed Jingle, with great firmness. "Clear head--man
of the world--quite right--perfectly."

"By compounding with his creditor, releasing his clothes from the
pawnbroker's, relieving him in prison, and paying for his passage,"
continued Perker, without noticing Jingle's observation, "you have
already lost upwards of fifty pounds."

"Not lost," said Jingle, hastily. "Pay it all--stick to business--cash
up--every farthing. Yellow fever perhaps--can't help that--if not--"
Here Mr. Jingle paused, and striking the crown of his hat with great
violence, passed his hand over his eyes, and sat down.

"He means to say," said Job, advancing a few paces, "that if he is
not carried off by the fever, he will pay the money back again. If he
lives, he will, Mr. Pickwick. I will see it done. I know he will, sir,"
said Job, with energy. "I could undertake to swear it."

"Well, well," said Mr. Pickwick, who had been bestowing a score or two
of frowns upon Perker, to stop his summary of benefits conferred, which
the little attorney obstinately disregarded, "you must be careful not
to play any more desperate cricket matches, Mr. Jingle, or to renew
your acquaintance with Sir Thomas Blazo, and I have little doubt of
your preserving your health."

Mr. Jingle smiled at this sally, but looked rather foolish
notwithstanding; so Mr. Pickwick changed the subject by saying:

"You don't happen to know, do you, what has become of another friend of
yours--a more humble one, whom I saw at Rochester?"

"Dismal Jemmy?" inquired Jingle.

"Yes."

Jingle shook his head.

"Clever rascal--queer fellow, hoaxing genius--Job's brother."

"Job's brother!" exclaimed Mr. Pickwick. "Well, now I look at him
closely, there _is_ a likeness."

"We were always considered like each other, sir," said Job, with a
cunning look just lurking in the corners of his eyes, "only I was
really of a serious nature, and he never was. He emigrated to America,
sir, in consequence of being too much sought after to be comfortable;
and has never been heard of since."

"That accounts for my not having received the 'page from the romance
of real life' which he promised me one morning when he appeared to
be contemplating suicide on Rochester Bridge, I suppose," said Mr.
Pickwick, smiling. "I need not inquire whether his dismal behaviour was
natural or assumed."

"He could assume anything, sir," said Job. "You may consider yourself
very fortunate in having escaped him so easily. On intimate terms he
would have been even more dangerous acquaintance than--" Job looked at
Jingle, hesitated, and finally added, "than--than--myself even."

"A hopeful family yours, Mr. Trotter," said Perker, sealing a letter
which he had just finished writing.

"Yes, sir," replied Job. "Very much so."

"Well," said the little man, laughing; "I hope you are going to
disgrace it. Deliver this letter to the agent when you reach Liverpool,
and let me advise you, gentlemen, not to be too knowing in the West
Indies. If you throw away this chance, you will both richly deserve to
be hanged, as I sincerely trust you will be. And now you had better
leave Mr. Pickwick and me alone, for we have other matters to talk
over, and time is precious." As Perker said this, he looked towards the
door, with an evident desire to render the leave-taking as brief as
possible.

It was brief enough on Mr. Jingle's part. He thanked the little
attorney in a few hurried words for the kindness and promptitude with
which he had rendered his assistance, and, turning to his benefactor,
stood for a few seconds as if irresolute what to say or how to act. Job
Trotter relieved his perplexity; for, with a humble and grateful bow to
Mr. Pickwick, he took his friend gently by the arm, and led him away.

"A worthy couple!" said Perker, as the door closed behind them.

"I hope they may become so," said Mr. Pickwick. "What do you think? Is
there any chance of their permanent reformation?"

Perker shrugged his shoulders doubtfully, but observing Mr. Pickwick's
anxious and disappointed look, rejoined:

"Of course there is a chance. I hope it may prove a good one. They
are unquestionably penitent now; but then, you know, they have the
recollection of very recent suffering fresh upon them. What they may
become, when that fades away, is a problem that neither you nor I can
solve. However, my dear sir," added Perker, laying his hand on Mr.
Pickwick's shoulder, "your object is equally honourable, whatever
the result is. Whether that species of benevolence which is so very
cautious and long-sighted that it is seldom exercised at all, lest
its owner should be imposed upon, and so wounded in his self-love, be
real charity or a worldly counterfeit, I leave to wiser heads than
mine to determine. But if those two fellows were to commit a burglary
to-morrow, my opinion of this action would be equally high."

With these remarks, which were delivered in a much more animated and
earnest manner than is usual in legal gentlemen, Perker drew his chair
to his desk, and listened to Mr. Pickwick's recital of old Mr. Winkle's
obstinacy.

"Give him a week," said Perker, nodding his head prophetically.

"Do you think he will come round?" inquired Mr. Pickwick.

"I think he will," rejoined Perker. "If not, we must try the young
lady's persuasion; and that is what anybody but you would have done
first."

Mr. Perker was taking a pinch of snuff with various grotesque
contractions of countenance, eulogistic of the persuasive powers
appertaining unto young ladies, when the murmur of inquiry and answer
was heard in the outer office, and Lowten tapped at the door.

"Come in!" cried the little man.

The clerk came in, and shut the door after him, with great mystery.

"What's the matter?" inquired Perker.

"You're wanted, sir."

"Who wants me?"

Lowten looked at Mr. Pickwick, and coughed.

"Who wants me? Can't you speak, Mr. Lowten?"

"Why, sir," replied Lowten, "it's Dodson; and Fogg is with him."

"Bless my life!" said the little man, looking at his watch. "I
appointed them to be here, at half-past eleven, to settle that matter
of yours, Pickwick. I gave them an undertaking on which they sent down
your discharge; it's very awkward, my dear sir; what will you do? Would
you like to step into the next room?"

The next room being the identical room in which Messrs. Dodson and Fogg
were, Mr. Pickwick replied that he would remain where he was: the more
especially as Messrs. Dodson and Fogg ought to be ashamed to look him
in the face, instead of his being ashamed to see them. Which latter
circumstance he begged Mr. Perker to note, with a glowing countenance
and many marks of indignation.

"Very well, my dear sir, very well," replied Perker. "I can only say
that if you expect either Dodson or Fogg to exhibit any symptom of
shame or confusion at having to look you, or anybody else, in the face,
you are the most sanguine man in your expectations that I ever met
with. Show them in, Mr. Lowten."

Mr. Lowten disappeared with a grin, and immediately returned ushering
in the firm, in due form of precedence: Dodson first, and Fogg
afterwards.

"You have seen Mr. Pickwick, I believe?" said Perker to Dodson,
inclining his pen in the direction where that gentleman was seated.

"How do you do, Mr. Pickwick?" said Dodson in a loud voice.

"Dear me," cried Fogg, "how do you do, Mr. Pickwick? I hope you are
well, sir. I thought I knew the face," said Fogg, drawing up a chair
and looking round him with a smile.

Mr. Pickwick bent his head very slightly, in answer to these
salutations, and, seeing Fogg pull a bundle of papers from his
coat-pocket, rose and walked to the window.

"There's no occasion for Mr. Pickwick to move, Mr. Perker," said Fogg,
untying the red tape which encircled the little bundle, and smiling
again more sweetly than before. "Mr. Pickwick is pretty well acquainted
with these proceedings. There are no secrets between us, I think. He!
he! he!"

"Not many, I think," said Dodson. "Ha! ha! ha!" Then both the partners
laughed together--pleasantly and cheerfully, as men who are going to
receive money, often do.

"We shall make Mr. Pickwick pay for peeping," said Fogg, with
considerable native humour, as he unfolded his papers. "The amount of
the taxed costs is one hundred and thirty-three, six, four, Mr. Perker."

There was a great comparing of papers, and turning over of leaves, by
Fogg and Perker, after this statement of profit and loss. Meanwhile,
Dodson said in an affable manner to Mr. Pickwick:

"I don't think you are looking quite so stout as when I had the
pleasure of seeing you last, Mr. Pickwick."

"Possibly not, sir," replied Mr. Pickwick, who had been flashing forth
looks of fierce indignation, without producing the smallest effect on
either of the sharp practitioners; "I believe I am not, sir. I have
been persecuted and annoyed by Scoundrels of late, sir."

Perker coughed violently, and asked Mr. Pickwick whether he wouldn't
like to look at the morning paper? To which inquiry Mr. Pickwick
returned a most decided negative.

"True," said Dodson, "I dare say you _have_ been annoyed in the Fleet;
there are some odd gentry there. Whereabouts were your apartments, Mr.
Pickwick?"

"My one room," replied that much injured gentleman, "was on the Coffee
Room flight."

"Oh, indeed!" said Dodson. "I believe that is a very pleasant part of
the establishment."

"Very," replied Mr. Pickwick, dryly.

There was a coolness about all this, which, to a gentleman of an
excitable temperament, had, under the circumstances, rather an
exasperating tendency. Mr. Pickwick restrained his wrath by gigantic
efforts; but when Perker wrote a cheque for the whole amount, and Fogg
deposited it in a small pocket-book with a triumphant smile playing
over his pimply features which communicated itself likewise to the
stern countenance of Dodson, he felt the blood in his cheeks tingling
with indignation.

"Now, Mr. Dodson," said Fogg, putting up the pocket-book and drawing on
his gloves, "I am at your service."

"Very good," said Dodson, rising, "I am quite ready."

"I am very happy," said Fogg, softened by the cheque, "to have had the
pleasure of making Mr. Pickwick's acquaintance. I hope you don't think
quite so ill of us, Mr. Pickwick, as when we first had the pleasure of
seeing you."

"I hope not," said Dodson, with the high tone of calumniated virtue.
"Mr. Pickwick now knows us better, I trust: whatever your opinion of
gentlemen of our profession may be, I beg to assure you, sir, that I
bear no ill-will or vindictive feeling towards you for the sentiments
you thought proper to express in our office in Freeman's Court,
Cornhill, on the occasion to which my partner has referred."

"Oh no, no; nor I," said Fogg, in a most forgiving manner.

"Our conduct, sir," said Dodson, "will speak for itself, and justify
itself, I hope, upon every occasion. We have been in the profession
some years, Mr. Pickwick, and have been honoured with the confidence of
many excellent clients. I wish you good morning, sir."

"_Good_ morning, Mr. Pickwick," said Fogg. So saying, he put his
umbrella under his arm, drew off his right glove, and extended the hand
of reconciliation to that most indignant gentleman: who, thereupon,
thrust his hands beneath his coat tails, and eyed the attorney with
looks of scornful amazement.

"Lowten!" cried Perker at this moment. "Open the door."

"Wait one instant," said Mr. Pickwick, "Perker, I _will_ speak."

"My dear sir, pray let the matter rest where it is," said the little
attorney, who had been in a state of nervous apprehension during the
whole interview; "Mr. Pickwick, I beg!"

"I will not be put down, sir," replied Mr. Pickwick, hastily. "Mr.
Dodson, you have addressed some remarks to me."

Dodson turned round, bent his head meekly, and smiled.

"Some remarks to me," repeated Mr. Pickwick, almost breathless; "and
your partner has tendered me his hand, and you have both assumed a tone
of forgiveness and high-mindedness, which is an extent of impudence
that I was not prepared for, even in you."

"What, sir!" exclaimed Dodson.

"What, sir!" reiterated Fogg.

"Do you know that I have been the victim of your plots and
conspiracies?" continued Mr. Pickwick. "Do you know that I am the man
whom you have been imprisoning and robbing? Do you know that you were
the attorneys for the plaintiff, in Bardell and Pickwick?"

"Yes, sir, we do know it," replied Dodson.

"Of course we know it, sir," rejoined Fogg, slapping his pocket--perhaps
by accident.

"I see that you recollect it with satisfaction," said Mr. Pickwick,
attempting to call up a sneer for the first time in his life, and
failing most signally in so doing. "Although I have long been anxious
to tell you, in plain terms, what my opinion of you is, I should have
let even this opportunity pass, in deference to my friend Perker's
wishes, but for the unwarrantable tone you have assumed, and your
insolent familiarity. I say insolent familiarity, sir," said Mr.
Pickwick, turning upon Fogg with a fierceness of gesture which caused
that person to retreat towards the door with great expedition.

"Take care, sir," said Dodson, who, though he was the biggest man
of the party, had prudently intrenched himself behind Fogg, and was
speaking over his head with a very pale face. "Let him assault you, Mr.
Fogg; don't return it on any account."

"No, no, I won't return it," said Fogg, falling back a little more as
he spoke; to the evident relief of his partner, who by these means was
gradually getting into the outer office.

"You are," continued Mr. Pickwick, resuming the thread of his
discourse, "you are a well-matched pair of mean, rascally, pettifogging
robbers."

"Well," interposed Perker, "is that all?"

"It is all summed up in that," rejoined Mr. Pickwick; "they are mean,
rascally, pettifogging robbers."

"There!" said Perker in a most conciliatory tone. "My dear sirs, he has
said all he has to say. Now pray go. Lowten, _is_ that door open?"

Mr. Lowten, with a distant giggle, replied in the affirmative.

"There, there--good morning--good morning--now pray, my dear sirs,--Mr.
Lowten, the door!" cried the little man, pushing Dodson and Fogg,
nothing loath, out of the office; "this way, my dear sirs,--now pray
don't prolong this--dear me--Mr. Lowten--the door, sir--why don't you
attend?"

"If there's law in England, sir," said Dodson, looking towards Mr.
Pickwick, as he put on his hat, "you shall smart for this."

"You are a couple of mean----"

"Remember, sir, you pay dearly for this," said Fogg.

"--Rascally, pettifogging robbers!" continued Mr. Pickwick, taking not
the least notice of the threats that were addressed to him.

"Robbers!" cried Mr. Pickwick, running to the stair-head, as the two
attorneys descended.

"Robbers!" shouted Mr. Pickwick, breaking from Lowten and Perker and
thrusting his head out of the staircase window.

When Mr. Pickwick drew in his head again, his countenance was smiling
and placid; and, walking quietly back into the office, he declared
that he had now removed a great weight from his mind, and that he felt
perfectly comfortable and happy.

Perker said nothing at all until he had emptied his snuff-box, and
sent Lowten out to fill it, when he was seized with a fit of laughing,
which lasted five minutes; at the expiration of which time he said that
he supposed he ought to be very angry, but he couldn't think of the
business seriously yet--when he could, he would be.

"Well, now," said Mr. Pickwick, "let me have a settlement with you."

"Of the same kind as the last?" inquired Perker, with another laugh.

"Not exactly," rejoined Mr. Pickwick, drawing out his pocket-book,
and shaking the little man heartily by the hand, "I only mean a
pecuniary settlement. You have done me many acts of kindness that I can
never repay, and have no wish to repay, for I prefer continuing the
obligation."

With this preface, the two friends dived into some very complicated
accounts and vouchers, which, having been duly displayed and gone
through by Perker, were at once discharged by Mr. Pickwick with many
professions of esteem and friendship.

They had no sooner arrived at this point, than a most violent and
startling knocking was heard at the door; it was not an ordinary double
knock, but a constant and uninterrupted succession of the loudest
single raps, as if the knocker were endowed with the perpetual motion,
or the person outside had forgotten to leave off.

"Dear me, what's that?" exclaimed Perker, starting.

"I think it is a knock at the door," said Mr. Pickwick, as if there
could be the smallest doubt of the fact!

The knocker made a more energetic reply than words could have yielded,
for it continued to hammer with surprising force and noise, without a
moment's cessation.

"Dear me!" said Perker, ringing the bell, "we shall alarm the Inn. Mr.
Lowten, don't you hear a knock?"

"I'll answer the door in one moment, sir," replied the clerk.

The knocker appeared to hear the response, and to assert that it was
quite impossible he could wait so long. It made a stupendous uproar.

"It's quite dreadful," said Mr. Pickwick, stopping his ears.

"Make haste, Mr. Lowten," Perker called out, "we shall have the panels
beaten in."

Mr. Lowten, who was washing his hands in a dark closet, hurried to the
door, and turning the handle, beheld the appearance which is described
in the next chapter.



CHAPTER XXVI

[Illustration]

  _Containing some Particulars relative to the Double Knock, and
    other Matters: among which certain Interesting Disclosures
    relative to Mr. Snodgrass and a Young Lady are by no means
    irrelevant to this History_


The object that presented itself to the eyes of the astonished clerk
was a boy--a wonderfully fat boy--habited as a serving lad, standing
upright on the mat, with his eyes closed as if in sleep. He had
never seen such a fat boy, in or out of a travelling caravan; and
this, coupled with the calmness and repose of his appearance, so
very different from what was reasonably to have been expected of the
inflictor of the knocks, smote him with wonder.

"What's the matter?" inquired the clerk.

The extraordinary boy replied not a word; but he nodded once, and
seemed, to the clerk's imagination, to snore feebly.

"Where do you come from?" inquired the clerk.

The boy made no sign. He breathed heavily, but in all other respects
was motionless.

The clerk repeated the question thrice, and receiving no answer,
prepared to shut the door, when the boy suddenly opened his eyes,
winked several times, sneezed once, and raised his hand as if to
repeat the knocking. Finding the door open, he stared about him with
astonishment, and at length fixed his eyes on Mr. Lowten's face.

"What the devil do you knock in that way for?" inquired the clerk,
angrily.

"Which way?" said the boy, in a slow and sleepy voice.

"Why, like forty hackney-coachmen," replied the clerk.

"Because master said I wasn't to leave off knocking till they opened
the door, for fear I should go to sleep," said the boy.

"Well," said the clerk, "what message have you brought?"

"He's down-stairs," rejoined the boy.

"Who?"

"Master. He wants to know whether you're at home."

Mr. Lowten bethought himself, at this juncture, of looking out of the
window. Seeing an open carriage with a hearty old gentleman in it,
looking up very anxiously, he ventured to beckon him; on which, the old
gentleman jumped out directly.

"That's your master in the carriage, I suppose?" said Lowten.

The boy nodded.

All further inquiries were superseded by the appearance of old Wardle,
who, running up-stairs and just recognising Lowten, passed at once into
Mr. Perker's room.

"Pickwick!" said the old gentleman. "Your hand, my boy! Why have I
never heard until the day before yesterday of your suffering yourself
to be cooped up in jail? And why did you let him do it, Perker?"

"I couldn't help it, my dear sir," replied Perker, with a smile and a
pinch of snuff: "you know how obstinate he is."

"Of course I do, of course I do," replied the old gentleman. "I am
heartily glad to see him, notwithstanding. I will not lose sight of him
again, in a hurry."

With these words, Wardle shook Mr. Pickwick's hand once more, and
having done the same by Perker, threw himself into an arm-chair, his
jolly red face shining again with smiles and health.

"Well!" said Wardle. "Here are pretty goings on--a pinch of your snuff,
Perker, my boy--never were such times, eh?"

"What do you mean?" inquired Mr. Pickwick.

"Mean!" replied Wardle. "Why, I think the girls are all running mad;
that's no news, you'll say? Perhaps it's not; but it's true, for all
that."

"You have not come up to London, of all places in the world, to tell us
_that_, my dear sir, have you?" inquired Perker.

"No, not altogether," replied Wardle; "though it was the main cause of
my coming. How's Arabella?"

"Very well," replied Mr. Pickwick, "and will be delighted to see you, I
am sure."

"Black-eyed little jilt!" replied Wardle, "I had a great idea of
marrying her myself, one of these odd days. But I am glad of it too,
very glad."

[Illustration: _His jolly red face shining with smiles and health_]

"How did the intelligence reach you?" asked Mr. Pickwick.

"Oh, it came to my girls, of course," replied Wardle. "Arabella wrote,
the day before yesterday, to say she had made a stolen match without
her husband's father's consent, and so you had gone down to get it when
his refusing it couldn't prevent the match, and all the rest of it. I
thought it a very good time to say something serious to _my_ girls;
so I said what a dreadful thing it was that children should marry
without their parents' consent, and so forth; but, bless your hearts, I
couldn't make the least impression upon them. They thought it such a
much more dreadful thing that there should have been a wedding without
bridesmaids, that I might as well have preached to Joe himself."

Here the old gentleman stopped to laugh; and having done so, to his
heart's content, presently resumed.

"But this is not the best of it, it seems. This is only half the
love-making and plotting that have been going forward. We have been
walking on mines for the last six months, and they're sprung at last."

"What do you mean?" exclaimed Mr. Pickwick, turning pale; "no other
secret marriage, I hope?"

"No, no," replied old Wardle; "not so bad as that; no."

"What then?" inquired Mr. Pickwick; "am I interested in it?"

"Shall I answer that question, Perker?" said Wardle.

"If you don't commit yourself by doing so, my dear sir."

"Well then, you are," said Wardle.

"How?" asked Mr. Pickwick, anxiously. "In what way?"

"Really," replied Wardle, "you're such a fiery sort of young fellow
that I am almost afraid to tell you; but, however, if Perker will sit
between us to prevent mischief, I'll venture."

Having closed the room-door, and fortified himself with another
application to Perker's snuff-box, the old gentleman proceeded with his
great disclosure in these words.

"The fact is, that my daughter Bella--Bella, who married young Trundle,
you know."

"Yes, yes, we know," said Mr. Pickwick, impatiently.

"Don't alarm me at the very beginning. My daughter Bella, Emily having
gone to bed with a headache after she had read Arabella's letter to
me, sat herself down by my side, the other evening, and began to talk
over this marriage affair. 'Well, pa,' she says, 'what do you think
of it?' 'Why, my dear,' I said, 'I suppose it's all very well; I hope
it's for the best.' I answered in this way because I was sitting before
the fire at the time drinking my grog rather thoughtfully, and I knew
my throwing in an undecided word now and then, would induce her to
continue talking. Both my girls are pictures of their dear mother, and
as I grow old I like to sit with only them by me; for their voices
and looks carry me back to the happiest period of my life, and make
me, for the moment, as young as I used to be then, though not quite so
light-hearted. 'It's quite a marriage of affection, pa,' said Bella,
after a short silence. 'Yes, my dear,' said I, 'but such marriages do
not always turn out the happiest.'"

"I question that, mind!" interposed Mr. Pickwick, warmly.

"Very good," responded Wardle, "question anything you like when it's
your turn to speak, but don't interrupt me."

"I beg your pardon," said Mr. Pickwick.

"Granted," replied Wardle. "'I am sorry to hear you express your
opinion against marriages of affection, pa,' said Bella, colouring a
little. 'I was wrong; I ought not to have said so, my dear, either,'
said I, patting her cheek as kindly as a rough old fellow like me could
pat it, 'for your mother's was one, and so was yours.' 'It's not that
I meant, pa,' said Bella. 'The fact is, pa, I wanted to speak to you
about Emily.'"

Mr. Pickwick started.

"What's the matter now?" inquired Wardle, stopping in his narrative.

"Nothing," replied Mr. Pickwick. "Pray go on."

"I never could spin out a story," said Wardle, abruptly. "It must come
out sooner or later, and it'll save us all a great deal of time if it
comes at once. The long and the short of it is, then, that Bella at
last mustered up courage to tell me that Emily was very unhappy; that
she and your young friend Snodgrass had been in constant correspondence
and communication ever since last Christmas; that she had very
dutifully made up her mind to run away with him in laudable imitation
of her old friend and schoolfellow; but that having some compunctions
of conscience on the subject, inasmuch as I had always been rather
kindly disposed to both of them, they had thought it better in the
first instance to pay me the compliment of asking whether I would
have any objection to their being married in the usual matter-of-fact
manner. There now, Mr. Pickwick, if you can make it convenient to
reduce your eyes to their usual size again, and to let me hear what you
think we ought to do, I shall feel rather obliged to you!"

The testy manner in which the hearty old gentleman uttered this last
sentence was not wholly unwarranted; for Mr. Pickwick's face had
settled down into an expression of blank amazement and perplexity,
quite curious to behold.

"Snodgrass! Since last Christmas!" were the first broken words that
issued from the lips of the confounded gentleman.

"Since last Christmas," replied Wardle; "that's plain enough, and very
bad spectacles we must have worn, not to have discovered it before."

"I don't understand it," said Mr. Pickwick, ruminating; "I really
cannot understand it."

"It's easy enough to understand," replied the choleric old gentleman.
"If you had been a younger man, you would have been in the secret long
ago; and besides," added Wardle after a moment's hesitation, "the truth
is, that, knowing nothing of this matter, I have rather pressed Emily
for four or five months past, to receive favourably (if she could; I
would never attempt to force a girl's inclinations) the addresses of
a young gentleman down in our neighbourhood. I have no doubt that,
girl-like, to enhance her own value and increase the ardour of Mr.
Snodgrass, she has represented this matter in very glowing colours, and
that they have both arrived at the conclusion that they are a terribly
persecuted pair of unfortunates, and have no resource but clandestine
matrimony or charcoal. Now the question is, what's to be done?"

"What have _you_ done?" inquired Mr. Pickwick.

"I?"

"I mean, what did you do when your married daughter told you this?"

"Oh, I made a fool of myself of course," rejoined Wardle.

"Just so," interposed Perker, who had accompanied this dialogue with
sundry twitchings of his watch-chain, vindictive rubbings of his nose,
and other symptoms of impatience. "That's very natural; but how?"

"I went into a great passion and frightened my mother into a fit," said
Wardle.

"That was judicious," remarked Perker; "and what else?"

"I fretted and fumed all next day, and raised a great disturbance,"
rejoined the old gentleman. "At last I got tired of rendering myself
unpleasant and making everybody miserable; so I hired a carriage at
Muggleton, and putting my own horses in it, came up to town, under
pretence of bringing Emily to see Arabella."

"Miss Wardle is with you, then?" said Mr. Pickwick.

"To be sure she is," replied Wardle. "She is at Osborne's hotel in the
Adelphi at this moment, unless your enterprising friend has run away
with her since I came out this morning."

"You are reconciled, then?" said Perker.

"Not a bit of it," answered Wardle; "she has been crying and moping
ever since, except last night, between tea and supper, when she made a
great parade of writing a letter that I pretended to take no notice of."

"You want my advice in this matter, I suppose?" said Perker, looking
from the musing face of Mr. Pickwick to the eager countenance of
Wardle, and taking several consecutive pinches of his favourite
stimulant.

"I suppose so," said Wardle, looking at Mr. Pickwick.

"Certainly," replied that gentleman.

"Well then," said Perker, rising and pushing his chair back, "my advice
is, that you both walk away together, or ride away, or get away by some
means or other, for I'm tired of you, and just talk this matter over
between you. If you have not settled it by the next time I see you,
I'll tell you what to do."

"This is satisfactory," said Wardle, hardly knowing whether to smile or
be offended.

"Pooh, pooh, my dear sir," returned Perker. "I know you both a great
deal better than you know yourselves. You have settled it already, to
all intents and purposes."

Thus expressing himself, the little gentleman poked his snuff-box,
first into the chest of Mr. Pickwick, and then into the waistcoat of
Mr. Wardle, upon which they all three laughed, but especially the
two last-named gentlemen, who at once shook hands again, without any
obvious or particular reason.

"You dine with me to-day," said Wardle to Perker, as he showed them
out.

"Can't promise, my dear sir, can't promise," replied Perker. "I'll look
in, in the evening, at all events."

"I shall expect you at five," said Wardle. "Now, Joe!" And Joe having
been at length awakened, the two friends departed in Mr. Wardle's
carriage, which in common humanity had a dickey behind for the fat boy,
who, if there had been a foot-board instead, would have rolled off and
killed himself in his very first nap.

Driving to the George and Vulture, they found that Arabella and her
maid had sent for a hackney-coach immediately on the receipt of a short
note from Emily announcing her arrival in town, and had proceeded
straight to the Adelphi. As Wardle had business to transact in the
city, they sent the carriage and the fat boy to his hotel, with the
information that he and Mr. Pickwick would return together for dinner
at five o'clock.

Charged with this message, the fat boy returned, slumbering as
peaceably in his dickey over the stones, as if it had been a down bed
on watch-springs. By some extraordinary miracle he awoke of his own
accord when the coach stopped, and giving himself a good shake to stir
up his faculties, went up-stairs to execute his commission.

Now whether the shake had jumbled the fat boy's faculties together,
instead of arranging them in proper order, or had roused such a
quantity of new ideas within him as to render him oblivious of
ordinary forms and ceremonies, or (which is also possible) had proved
unsuccessful in preventing his falling asleep as he ascended the
stairs, it is an undoubted fact that he walked into the sitting-room
without previously knocking at the door; and so beheld a gentleman with
his arms clasping his young mistress's waist, sitting very lovingly by
her side on a sofa, while Arabella and her pretty handmaid feigned to
be absorbed in looking out of a window at the other end of the room.
At sight of this phenomenon, the fat boy uttered an interjection, the
ladies a scream, and the gentleman an oath, almost simultaneously.

"Wretched creature, what do you want here?" said the gentleman, who it
is needless to say was Mr. Snodgrass.

To this the fat boy, considerably terrified, briefly responded,
"Missis."

"What do you want me for?" inquired Emily, turning her head aside, "you
stupid creature!"

"Master and Mr. Pickwick is a going to dine here at five," replied the
fat boy.

"Leave the room!" said Mr. Snodgrass, glaring upon the bewildered youth.

"No, no, no," added Emily hastily. "Bella, dear, advise me."

Upon this Emily and Mr. Snodgrass, and Arabella and Mary, crowded into
a corner, and conversed earnestly in whispers for some minutes, during
which the fat boy dozed.

"Joe," said Arabella, at length, looking round with a most bewitching
smile, "how do you do, Joe?"

"Joe," said Emily, "you're a very good boy; I won't forget you, Joe."

"Joe," said Mr. Snodgrass, advancing to the astonished youth, and
seizing his hand, "I didn't know you before. There's five shillings for
you, Joe!"

"I'll owe you five," said Arabella, "for old acquaintance' sake,
you know;" and another most captivating smile was bestowed upon the
corpulent intruder.

The fat boy's perception being slow, he looked rather puzzled at first
to account for this sudden prepossession in his favour, and stared
about him in a very alarming manner. At length his broad face began to
show symptoms of a grin of proportionately broad dimensions; and then,
thrusting half-a-crown into each of his pockets, and a hand and wrist
after it, he burst into a hoarse laugh: being for the first and only
time in his existence.

"He understands us, I see," said Arabella.

"He had better have something to eat, immediately," remarked Emily.

The fat boy almost laughed again when he heard this suggestion. Mary,
after a little more whispering, tripped forth from the group, and said:

"I am going to dine with you to-day, sir, if you have no objection."

"This way," said the fat boy, eagerly. "There is such a jolly
meat-pie!"

With these words, the fat boy led the way down-stairs; his pretty
companion captivating all the waiters and angering all the chambermaids
as she followed him to the eating-room.

There was the meat-pie of which the youth had spoken so feelingly, and
there were, moreover, a steak, and a dish of potatoes, and a pot of
porter.

"Sit down," said the fat boy. "Oh my eye, how prime! I am _so_ hungry."

Having apostrophised his eye, in a species of rapture, five or six
times, the youth took the head of the little table, and Mary seated
herself at the bottom.

"Will you have some of this?" said the fat boy, plunging into the pie
up to the very ferrules of the knife and fork.

"A little, if you please," replied Mary.

The fat boy assisted Mary to a little, and himself to a great deal, and
was just going to begin eating when he suddenly laid down his knife and
fork, leant forward in his chair, and letting his hands, with the knife
and fork in them, fall on his knees, said, very slowly:

"I say! How nice you look!"

This was said in an admiring manner, and was, so far, gratifying; but
still there was enough of the cannibal in the young gentleman's eyes to
render the compliment a double one.

"Dear me, Joseph," said Mary, affecting to blush, "what do you mean?"

The fat boy gradually recovering his former position, replied with a
heavy sigh, and remaining thoughtful for a few moments, drank a long
draught of porter. Having achieved this feat he sighed again, and
applied himself assiduously to the pie.

"What a nice young lady Miss Emily is!" said Mary, after a long silence.

The fat boy had by this time finished the pie. He fixed his eyes on
Mary, and replied:

"I knows a nicerer."

"Indeed!" said Mary.

"Yes, indeed!" replied the fat boy, with unwonted vivacity.

"What's her name?" inquired Mary.

"What's yours?"

"Mary."

"So's hers," said the fat boy. "You're her." The boy grinned to add
point to the compliment, and put his eyes into something between a
squint and a cast, which there is reason to believe he intended for an
ogle.

"You mustn't talk to me in that way," said Mary; "you don't mean it."

"Don't I, though?" replied the fat boy; "I say!"

"Well?"

"Are you going to come here regular?"

"No," rejoined Mary, shaking her head, "I'm going away to-night. Why?"

"Oh!" said the fat boy in a tone of strong feeling; "how we should have
enjoyed ourselves at meals, if you had been!"

"I might come here sometimes perhaps, to see you," said Mary, plaiting
the table-cloth in assumed coyness, "if you would do me a favour."

The fat boy looked from the pie-dish to the steak, as if he thought a
favour must be in a manner connected with something to eat; and then
took out one of the half-crowns and glanced at it nervously.

"Don't you understand me?" said Mary, looking slyly in his fat face.

Again he looked at the half-crown, and said faintly, "No."

"The ladies want you not to say anything to the old gentleman about the
young gentleman having been up-stairs; and I want you too."

"Is that all?" said the fat boy, evidently very much relieved as he
pocketed the half-crown again. "Of course I ain't a going to."

"You see," said Mary, "Mr. Snodgrass is very fond of Miss Emily, and
Miss Emily's very fond of him, and if you were to tell about it, the
old gentleman would carry you all away miles into the country, where
you'd see nobody."

"No, no, I won't tell," said the fat boy, stoutly.

"That's a dear," said Mary. "Now it's time I went up-stairs and got my
lady ready for dinner."

"Don't go yet," urged the fat boy.

"I must," replied Mary. "Good-bye, for the present."

The fat boy, with elephantine playfulness, stretched out his arms to
ravish a kiss; but as it required no great agility to elude him, his
fair enslaver had vanished before he closed them again; upon which
the apathetic youth ate a pound or so of steak with a sentimental
countenance, and fell fast asleep.

There was so much to say up-stairs, and there were so many plans
to concert for elopement and matrimony in the event of old Wardle
continuing to be cruel, that it wanted only half an hour of dinner when
Mr. Snodgrass took his final adieu. The ladies ran to Emily's bedroom
to dress, and the lover, taking up his hat, walked out of the room.
He had scarcely got outside the door, when he heard Wardle's voice
talking loudly, and looking over the banisters, beheld him, followed
by some other gentlemen, coming straight up-stairs. Knowing nothing of
the house, Mr. Snodgrass in his confusion stepped hastily back into
the room he had just quitted, and passing from thence into an inner
apartment (Mr. Wardle's bed-chamber), closed the door softly, just as
the persons he had caught a glimpse of entered the sitting-room. These
were Mr. Wardle, Mr. Pickwick, Mr. Nathaniel Winkle, and Mr. Benjamin
Allen, whom he had no difficulty in recognising by their voices.

"Very lucky I had the presence of mind to avoid them," thought Mr.
Snodgrass with a smile, and walking on tiptoe to another door near the
bedside; "this opens into the same passage, and I can walk quietly and
comfortably away."

There was only one obstacle to his walking quietly and comfortably
away, which was that the door was locked and the key gone.

"Let us have some of your best wine to-day, waiter," said old Wardle,
rubbing his hands.

"You shall have some of the very best, sir," replied the waiter.

"Let the ladies know we have come in."

"Yes, sir."

Devoutly and ardently did Mr. Snodgrass wish that the ladies could
know _he_ had come in. He ventured once to whisper "Waiter!" through
the keyhole, but as the probability of the wrong waiter coming to his
relief flashed upon his mind, together with a sense of the strong
resemblance between his own situation and that in which another
gentleman had been recently found in a neighbouring hotel (an account
of whose misfortunes had appeared under the head of "Police" in that
morning's paper), he sat himself on a portmanteau, and trembled
violently.

"We won't wait a minute for Perker," said Wardle, looking at his watch;
"he is always exact. He will be here in time, if he means to come; and
if he does not, it's of no use waiting. Ha! Arabella!"

"My sister!" exclaimed Mr. Benjamin Allen, folding her in a most
romantic embrace.

"Oh, Ben dear, how you do smell of tobacco," said Arabella, rather
overcome by this mark of affection.

"Do I?" said Mr. Benjamin Allen. "Do I, Bella? Well, perhaps I do."

Perhaps he did; having just left a pleasant little smoking party of
twelve medical students, in a small back parlour with a large fire.

"But I am delighted to see you," said Mr. Ben Allen. "Bless you, Bella!"

"There," said Arabella, bending forward to kiss her brother; "don't
take hold of me again, Ben dear, because you tumble me so."

At this point of the reconciliation, Mr. Ben Allen allowed his feelings
and the cigars and porter to overcome him, and looked round upon the
beholders with damp spectacles.

"Is nothing to be said to me?" cried Wardle with open arms.

"A great deal," whispered Arabella, as she received the old gentleman's
hearty caress and congratulation. "You are a hard-hearted, unfeeling,
cruel monster!"

"You are a little rebel," replied Wardle in the same tone, "and I am
afraid I shall be obliged to forbid you the house. People like you,
who get married in spite of everybody, ought not to be let loose on
society. But come!" added the old gentleman, aloud, "here's the dinner,
you shall sit by me. Joe; why, damn the boy, he's awake!"

To the great distress of his master, the fat boy was indeed in a state
of remarkable vigilance; his eyes being wide open, and looking as if
they intended to remain so. There was an alacrity in his manner, too,
which was equally unaccountable; every time his eyes met those of Emily
or Arabella, he smirked and grinned: once Wardle could have sworn he
saw him wink.

This alteration in the fat boy's demeanour originated in his increased
sense of his own importance, and the dignity he acquired from having
been taken into the confidence of the young ladies; and the smirks,
and grins, and winks, were so many condescending assurances that they
might depend upon his fidelity. As these tokens were rather calculated
to awaken suspicion than to allay it, and were somewhat embarrassing
besides, they were occasionally answered by a frown or shake of the
head from Arabella, which the fat boy considering as hints to be on his
guard, expressed his perfect understanding of, by smirking, grinning,
and winking, with redoubled assiduity.

"Joe," said Mr. Wardle, after an unsuccessful search in all his
pockets, "is my snuff-box on the sofa?"

"No, sir," replied the fat boy.

"Oh, I recollect; I left it on my dressing-table this morning," said
Wardle. "Run into the next room and fetch it."

The fat boy went into the next room; and having been absent about a
minute, returned with the snuff-box, and the palest face that ever a
fat boy wore.

"What's the matter with the boy!" exclaimed Wardle.

"Nothen's the matter with me," replied Joe, nervously.

"Have you been seeing any spirits?" inquired the old gentleman.

"Or taking any?" added Ben Allen.

"I think you're right," whispered Wardle, across the table. "He is
intoxicated, I'm sure."

Ben Allen replied that he thought he was; and as that gentleman had
seen a vast deal of the disease in question, Wardle was confirmed in an
impression which had been hovering about his mind for half an hour, and
at once arrived at the conclusion that the fat boy was drunk.

"Just keep your eye upon him for a few minutes," murmured Wardle. "We
shall soon find out whether he is or not."

The unfortunate youth had only interchanged a dozen words with Mr.
Snodgrass: that gentleman having implored him to make a private appeal
to some friend to release him, and then pushed him out with the
snuff-box, lest his prolonged absence should lead to a discovery. He
ruminated a little with a most disturbed expression of face, and left
the room in search of Mary.

But Mary had gone home after dressing her mistress, and the fat boy
came back again more disturbed than before.

Wardle and Mr. Ben Allen exchanged glances.

"Joe!" said Wardle.

"Yes, sir."

"What did you go away for?"

The fat boy looked hopelessly in the face of everybody at table and
stammered out that he didn't know.

"Oh," said Wardle, "you don't know, eh? Take this cheese to Mr.
Pickwick."

Now, Mr. Pickwick being in the very best health and spirits, had
been making himself perfectly delightful all dinner-time, and was at
this moment engaged in an energetic conversation with Emily and Mr.
Winkle: bowing his head, courteously, in the emphasis of his discourse,
gently waving his left hand to lend force to his observations, and all
glowing with placid smiles. He took a piece of cheese from the plate,
and was on the point of turning round to renew the conversation, when
the fat boy, stooping so as to bring his head on a level with that of
Mr. Pickwick, pointed with his thumb over his shoulder, and made the
most horrible and hideous face that was ever seen out of a Christmas
pantomime.

[Illustration: _Pointed with his thumb over his shoulder_]

"Dear me!" said Mr. Pickwick, starting, "what a very--eh?" He stopped,
for the fat boy had drawn himself up, and was, or pretended to be, fast
asleep.

"What's the matter?" inquired Wardle.

"This is such an extremely singular lad!" replied Mr. Pickwick, looking
uneasily at the boy. "It seems an odd thing to say, but upon my word I
am afraid that, at times, he is a little deranged."

"Oh! Mr. Pickwick, pray don't say so," cried Emily and Arabella, both
at once.

"I am not certain, of course," said Mr. Pickwick, amidst profound
silence, and looks of general dismay; "but his manner to me this moment
was really very alarming. Oh!" ejaculated Mr. Pickwick, suddenly
jumping up with a short scream. "I beg your pardon, ladies, but at that
moment he ran some sharp instrument into my leg. Really he is not safe."

"He's drunk," roared old Wardle, passionately. "Ring the bell! Call the
waiters! He's drunk."

"I ain't," said the fat boy, falling on his knees as his master seized
him by the collar. "I ain't drunk."

"Then you're mad; that's worse. Call the waiters," said the old
gentleman.

"I ain't mad; I'm sensible," rejoined the fat boy, beginning to cry.

"Then, what the devil do you run sharp instruments into Mr. Pickwick's
legs for?" inquired Wardle, angrily.

"He wouldn't look at me," replied the boy. "I wanted to speak to him."

"What did you want to say?" asked half a dozen voices at once.

The fat boy gasped, looked at the bedroom door, gasped again, and wiped
two tears away with the knuckle of each of his forefingers.

"What did you want to say?" demanded Wardle, shaking him.

"Stop!" said Mr. Pickwick; "allow me. What did you wish to communicate
to me, my poor boy?"

"I want to whisper to you," replied the fat boy.

"You want to bite his ear off, I suppose," said Wardle. "Don't come
near him; he's vicious; ring the bell and let him be taken down-stairs."

Just as Mr. Winkle caught the bell rope in his hand, it was arrested
by a general expression of astonishment; the captive lover, his face
burning with confusion, suddenly walked in from the bedroom, and made a
comprehensive bow to the company.

"Hallo!" cried Wardle, releasing the fat boy's collar, and staggering
back. "What's this!"

"I have been concealed in the next room, sir, since you returned,"
explained Mr. Snodgrass.

"Emily, my girl," said Wardle, reproachfully, "I detest meanness and
deceit; this is unjustifiable and indelicate in the highest degree. I
don't deserve this at your hands, Emily, indeed!"

"Dear papa," said Emily, "Arabella knows--everybody here knows--Joe
knows--that I was no party to this concealment. Augustus, for Heaven's
sake, explain it!"

Mr. Snodgrass, who had only waited for a hearing, at once recounted how
he had been placed in his then distressing predicament; how the fear of
giving rise to domestic dissensions had alone prompted him to avoid Mr.
Wardle on his entrance; how he merely meant to depart by another door,
but, finding it locked, had been compelled to stay against his will.
It was a painful situation to be placed in; but he now regretted it
the less, inasmuch as it afforded him an opportunity of acknowledging,
before their mutual friends, that he loved Mr. Wardle's daughter,
deeply and sincerely; that he was proud to avow that the feeling was
mutual; and that if thousands of miles were placed between them, or
oceans rolled their waters, he could never for an instant forget those
happy days, when first--and so on.

Having delivered himself to this effect, Mr. Snodgrass bowed again,
looked into the crown of his hat, and stepped towards the door.

"Stop!" shouted Wardle. "Why in the name of all that's----"

"Inflammable," mildly suggested Mr. Pickwick, who thought something
worse was coming.

"Well--that's inflammable," said Wardle, adopting the substitute,
"couldn't you say all this to me in the first instance?"

"Or confide in me?" added Mr. Pickwick.

"Dear, dear," said Arabella, taking up the defence, "what is the use
of asking all that now, especially when you know you had set your
covetous old heart on a richer son-in-law, and are so wild and fierce
besides, that everybody is afraid of you, except me. Shake hands with
him, and order him some dinner, for goodness gracious sake, for he
looks half-starved; and pray have your wine up at once, for you'll not
be tolerable until you have taken two bottles at least."

The worthy old gentleman pulled Arabella's ear, kissed her without the
smallest scruple, kissed his daughter also with great affection, and
shook Mr. Snodgrass warmly by the hand.

"She is right on one point at all events," said the old gentleman,
cheerfully. "Ring for the wine!"

The wine came, and Perker came up-stairs at the same moment. Mr.
Snodgrass had dinner at a side table, and, when he had despatched it,
drew his chair next Emily, without the smallest opposition on the old
gentleman's part.

The evening was excellent. Little Mr. Perker came out wonderfully,
told various comic stories, and sang a serious song which was almost
as funny as the anecdotes. Arabella was very charming, Mr. Wardle very
jovial, Mr. Pickwick very harmonious, Mr. Ben Allen very uproarious,
the lovers very silent, Mr. Winkle very talkative, and all of them very
happy.



CHAPTER XXVII

[Illustration]

  _Solomon Pell, assisted by a Select Committee of Coachmen, arranges
    the Affairs of the Elder Mr. Weller_


"Samivel," said Mr. Weller, accosting his son on the morning after the
funeral, "I've found it, Sammy. I thought it wos there."

"Thought vot wos were?" inquired Sam.

"Your mother-in-law's vill, Sammy," replied Mr. Weller. "In wirtue o'
wich, them arrangements is to be made as I told you on, last night,
respectin' the funs."

"Wot, didn't she tell you vere it wos?" inquired Sam.

"Not a bit on it, Sammy," replied Mr. Weller. "We wos a adjestin' our
little differences, and I wos a cheerin' her spirits and bearin' her
up, so that I forgot to ask anythin' about it. I don't know as I should
ha' done it indeed, if I had remembered it," added Mr. Weller, "for
it's a rum sort o' thing, Sammy, to go a hankerin' arter anybody's
property, ven you're assistin' 'em in illness. It's like helping an
outside passenger up, ven he's been pitched off a coach, and puttin'
your hand in his pocket, vile you ask him vith a sigh how he finds
hisself, Sammy."

With this figurative illustration of his meaning, Mr. Weller unclasped
his pocket-book, and drew forth a dirty sheet of letter paper, on
which were inscribed various characters crowded together in remarkable
confusion.

"This here is the dockyment, Sammy," said Mr. Weller. "I found it
in the little black teapot, on the top shelf o' the bar closet. She
used to keep bank notes there, 'afore she vos married, Samivel. I've
seen her take the lid off, to pay a bill, many and many a time. Poor
creetur, she might ha' filled all the teapots in the house vith vills,
and not have inconwenienced herself neither, for she took wery little
of anythin' in that vay lately, 'cept on the Temperance nights, ven
they fust laid a foundation o' tea to put the spirits a-top on!"

"What does it say?" inquired Sam.

"Jist vot I told you, my boy," rejoined his parent. "Two hundred pound
vurth o' reduced counsels to my son-in-law, Samivel, and all the rest
o' my property, of ev'ry kind and description votsoever to my husband,
Mr. Tony Veller, who I appint as my sole eggzekiter."

"That's all, is it?" said Sam.

"That's all," replied Mr. Weller. "And I s'pose as it's all right and
satisfactory to you and me as is the only parties interested, ve may as
vell put this bit o' paper into the fire."

"Wot are you a-doin' on, you lunatic?" said Sam, snatching the paper
away, as his parent, in all innocence, stirred the fire preparatory to
suiting the action to the word. "You're a nice eggzeketir, you are."

"Vy not?" inquired Mr. Weller, looking sternly round, with the poker in
his hand.

"Vy not!" exclaimed Sam. "'Cos it must be proved, and probated, and
swore to, and all manner o' formalities."

"You don't mean that?" said Mr. Weller, laying down the poker.

Sam buttoned the will carefully in a side pocket; intimating by a look
meanwhile, that he did mean it, and very seriously too.

"Then I'll tell you wot it is," said Mr. Weller, after a short
meditation, "this is a case for that 'ere confidential pal o' the
Chancellorship's. Pell must look into this, Sammy. He's the man for
a difficult question at law. Ve'll have this here brought afore the
Solvent Court directly, Samivel."

"I never did see such a addle-headed old creetur!" exclaimed Sam,
irritably, "Old Baileys, and Solvent Courts, and alleybis, and ev'ry
species o' gammon alvays a-runnin' through his brain! You'd better get
your out o' door clothes on, and come to town about this bisness, than
stand a-preachin' there about wot you don't understand nothin' on."

"Wery good, Sammy," replied Mr. Weller, "I'm quite agreeable to
anythin' as vill hexpedite business, Sammy. But mind this here, my boy,
nobody but Pell--nobody but Pell as a legal adwiser."

"I don't want anybody else," replied Sam. "Now are you a-comin'?"

"Vait a minute, Sammy," replied Mr. Weller, who, having tied his shawl
with the aid of a small glass that hung in the window, was now, by dint
of the most wonderful exertions, struggling into his upper garments.
"Vait a minit, Sammy; ven you grow as old as your father, you von't get
into your veskit quite as easy as you do now, my boy."

"If I couldn't get into it easier than that, I'm blessed if I'd vear
vun at all," rejoined his son.

"You think so now," said Mr. Weller, with the gravity of age, "but
you'll find that as you get vider, you'll get viser. Vidth and visdom,
Sammy, alvays grows together."

As Mr. Weller delivered this infallible maxim--the result of many
years' personal experience and observation--he contrived, by a
dexterous twist of his body, to get the bottom button of his coat to
perform its office. Having paused a few seconds to recover breath, he
brushed his hat with his elbow, and declared himself ready.

"As four heads is better than two, Sammy," said Mr. Weller, as they
drove along the London Road in the chaise cart, "and as all this here
property is a wery great temptation to a legal gen'l'm'n, ve'll take a
couple o' friends o' mine vith us, as'll be wery soon down upon him if
he comes anythin' irreg'lar; two o' them as saw you to the Fleet that
day. They're the wery best judges," added Mr. Weller in a half whisper,
"the wery best judges of a horse, you ever know'd."

"And of a lawyer too?" inquired Sam.

"The man as can form a ackerate judgment of a animal, can form a
ackerate judgment of anythin'," replied his father; so dogmatically,
that Sam did not attempt to controvert the position.

In pursuance of this notable resolution the services of the
mottled-faced gentleman and of two other very fat coachmen--selected
by Mr. Weller, probably with a view to their width and consequent
wisdom--were put into requisition; and this assistance having been
secured, the party proceeded to the public-home in Portugal Street,
whence a messenger was despatched to the Insolvent Court over the way,
requiring Mr. Solomon Pell's immediate attendance.

[Illustration: _A cold collation of an Abernethy biscuit and a saveloy_]

The messenger fortunately found Mr. Solomon Pell in court, regaling
himself, business being rather slack, with a cold collation of an
Abernethy biscuit and a saveloy. The message was no sooner whispered in
his ear than he thrust them in his pocket among various professional
documents, and hurried over the way with such alacrity that he reached
the parlour before the messenger had even emancipated himself from the
court.

"Gentlemen," said Mr. Pell, touching his hat, "my service to you all.
I don't say it to flatter you, gentlemen, but there are not five other
men in the world, that I'd have come out of that court for, to-day."

"So busy, eh?" said Sam.

"Busy!" replied Pell; "I'm completely sewn up, as my friend the late
Lord Chancellor many a time used to say to me, gentlemen, when he came
out from hearing appeals in the House of Lords. Poor fellow! he was
very susceptible of fatigue; he used to feel those appeals uncommonly.
I actually thought more than once that he'd have sunk under 'em; I did
indeed."

Here Mr. Pell shook his head and paused; on which, the elder Mr.
Weller, nudging his neighbour, as begging him to mark the attorney's
high connections, asked whether the duties in question produced any
permanent ill effects on the constitution of his noble friend.

"I don't think he ever quite recovered them," replied Pell; "in fact
I'm sure he never did. 'Pell,' he used to say to me many a time,
'how the blazes you can stand the head-work you do, is a mystery to
me.'--'Well,' I used to answer, '_I_ hardly know how I do it, upon my
life.'--'Pell,' he'd add, sighing, and looking at me with a little
envy--friendly envy, you know, gentlemen, mere friendly envy; I never
minded it--'Pell, you're a wonder; a wonder.' Ah! you'd have liked him
very much if you had known him, gentlemen. Bring me three penn'orth of
rum, my dear."

Addressing this latter remark to the waitress in a tone of subdued
grief, Mr. Pell sighed, looked at his shoes, and the ceiling; and, the
rum having by that time arrived, drunk it up.

"However," said Pell, drawing a chair to the table, "a professional
man has no right to think of his private friendships when his legal
assistance is wanted. By-the-bye, gentlemen, since I saw you here
before, we have had to weep over a very melancholy occurrence."

Mr. Pell drew out a pocket-handkerchief, when he came to the word weep,
but he made no further use of it than to wipe away a slight tinge of
rum which hung upon his upper lip.

"I saw it in the _Advertiser_, Mr. Weller," continued Pell. "Bless my
soul, not more than fifty-two! Dear me--only think."

These indications of a musing spirit were addressed to the mottled-faced
man, whose eyes Mr. Pell had accidentally caught; on which, the
mottled-faced man, whose apprehension of matters in general was of a
foggy nature, moved uneasily in his seat, and opined that indeed, so
far as that went, there was no saying how things _was_ brought about;
which observation, involving one of those subtle propositions which it
is so difficult to encounter in argument, was controverted by nobody.

"I have heard it remarked that she was a very fine woman, Mr. Weller,"
said Pell in a sympathising manner.

"Yes, sir, she wos," replied the elder Mr. Weller, not much relishing
this mode of discussing the subject, and yet thinking that the
attorney, from his long intimacy with the late Lord Chancellor, must
know best on all matters of polite breeding. "She wos a wery fine
'ooman, sir, ven I first know'd her. She wos a widder sir, at that
time."

"Now, it's curious," said Pell, looking round with a sorrowful smile;
"Mrs. Pell was a widow."

"That's very extraordinary," said the mottled-faced man.

"Well, it is a curious coincidence," said Pell.

"Not at all," gruffly remarked the elder Mr. Weller. "More widders is
married than single wimin."

"Very good, very good," said Pell, "you're quite right, Mr. Weller.
Mrs. Pell was a very elegant and accomplished woman; her manners were
the theme of universal admiration in our neighbourhood. I was proud
to see that woman dance; there was something so firm and dignified,
and yet natural in her motion. Her cutting, gentlemen, was simplicity
itself. Ah! well, well! Excuse my asking the question, Mr. Samuel,"
continued the attorney in a lower voice, "was your mother-in-law tall?"

"Not wery," replied Sam.

"Mrs. Pell was a tall figure," said Pell, "a splendid woman, with a
noble shape, and a nose, gentlemen, formed to command and be majestic.
She was very much attached to me--very much--highly connected, too. Her
mother's brother, gentlemen, failed for eight hundred pounds, as a Law
Stationer."

"Vell," said Mr. Weller, who had grown rather restless during this
discussion, "vith regard to bis'ness."

The word was music to Pell's ears. He had been revolving in his mind
whether any business was to be transacted, or whether he had been
merely invited to partake of a glass of brandy and water, or a bowl of
punch, or any similar professional compliment, and now the doubt was
set at rest without his appearing at all eager for its solution. His
eyes glistened as he laid his hat on the table, and said:

"What is the business upon which--um? Either of these gentlemen wish to
go through the court? We require an arrest; a friendly arrest will do,
you know; we are all friends here, I suppose?"

"Give me the dockyment, Sammy," said Mr. Weller, taking the will
from his son, who appeared to enjoy the interview amazingly. "Wot we
rekvire, sir, is a probe o' this here."

"Probate, my dear sir, probate," said Pell.

"Well, sir," replied Mr. Weller sharply, "probe and probe it, is wery
much the same; if you don't understand wot I mean, sir, I dessay I can
find them as does."

"No offence, I hope, Mr. Weller," said Pell, meekly. "You are the
executor, I see," he added, casting his eyes over the paper.

"I am, sir," replied Mr. Weller.

"These other gentlemen, I presume, are legatees, are they?" inquired
Pell with a congratulatory smile.

"Sammy is a leg-at-ease," replied Mr. Weller; "these other gen'l'm'n is
friends o' mine, just come to see fair; a kind of umpires."

"Oh!" said Pell, "very good. I have no objections, I'm sure. I shall
want a matter of five pound of you before I begin, ha! ha! ha!"

It being decided by the committee that the five pound might be advanced,
Mr. Weller produced that sum; after which, a long consultation about
nothing particular took place, in the course whereof Mr. Pell
demonstrated to the perfect satisfaction of the gentlemen who saw
fair, that unless the management of the business had been entrusted to
him, it must all have gone wrong, for reasons not clearly made out,
but no doubt sufficient. This important point being dispatched, Mr.
Pell refreshed himself with three chops, and liquids both malt and
spirituous, at the expense of the estate, and then they all went away
to Doctors' Commons.

The next day, there was another visit to Doctors' Commons, and a great
to-do with an attesting hostler, who, being inebriated, declined
swearing anything but profane oaths, to the great scandal of a proctor
and surrogate. Next week, there were more visits to Doctors' Commons,
and there was a visit to the Legacy Duty Office besides, and there were
treaties entered into, for the disposal of the lease and business, and
ratifications of the same, and inventories to be made out, and lunches
to be taken, and dinners to be eaten, and so many profitable things to
be done, and such a mass of papers accumulated, that Mr. Solomon Pell,
and the boy, and the blue bag to boot, all got so stout that scarcely
anybody would have known them for the same man, boy, and bag, that had
loitered about Portugal Street, a few days before.

At length all these weighty matters being arranged, a day was fixed for
selling out and transferring the stock, and of waiting with that view
upon Wilkins Flasher, Esq., stock-broker, of somewhere near the Bank,
who had been recommended by Mr. Solomon Pell for the purpose.

It was a kind of festive occasion, and the parties were attired
accordingly. Mr. Weller's tops were newly cleaned and his dress was
arranged with peculiar care; the mottled-faced gentleman wore at his
button-hole a full-sized dahlia with several leaves; and the coats
of his two friends were adorned with nosegays of laurel and other
evergreens. All three were habited in strict holiday costume; that is
to say, they were wrapped up to the chins, and wore as many clothes as
possible, which is, and has been, a stage-coachman's idea of full dress
ever since stage-coaches were invented.

Mr. Pell was waiting at the usual place of meeting at the appointed
time; even Mr. Pell wore a pair of gloves and a clean shirt much frayed
at the collar and wristbands by frequent washings.

"A quarter to two," said Pell, looking at the parlour clock. "If we are
with Mr. Flasher at a quarter past, we shall just hit the best time."

"What should you say to a drop o' beer, gen'l'm'n?" suggested the
mottled-faced man.

"And a little bit of cold beef," said the second coachman.

"Or a oyster," added the third, who was a hoarse gentleman supported by
very round legs.

"Hear, hear!" said Pell; "to congratulate Mr. Weller, on his coming
into possession of his property: eh? ha! ha!"

"I'm quite agreeable, gen'l'm'n," answered Mr. Weller. "Sammy, pull the
bell."

Sam complied; and the porter, cold beef, and oysters being promptly
produced, the lunch was done ample justice to. Where everybody took so
active a part, it is almost invidious to make a distinction; but if one
individual evinced greater powers than another, it was the coachman
with the hoarse voice, who took an imperial pint of vinegar with his
oysters, without betraying the least emotion.

"Mr. Pell, sir," said the elder Mr. Weller, stirring a glass of brandy
and water, of which one was placed before every gentleman when the
oyster shells were removed, "Mr. Pell, sir, it wos my intention to have
proposed the funs on this occasion, but Samivel has vispered to me----"

Here Mr. Samuel Weller, who had silently eaten his oysters with
tranquil smiles, cried "Hear!" in a very loud voice.

"--Has vispered to me," resumed his father, "that it vould be better to
dewote the liquor to vishin' you success and prosperity, and thankin'
you for the manner in which you've brought this here business through.
Here's your health, sir."

"Hold hard there," interposed the mottled-faced gentleman, with sudden
energy, "your eyes on me, gen'l'm'n!"

Saying this, the mottled-faced gentleman rose, as did the other
gentlemen. The mottled-faced gentleman reviewed the company, and slowly
lifted his hand, upon which every man (including him of the mottled
countenance) drew a long breath, and lifted his tumbler to his lips.
In one instant the mottled-faced gentleman depressed his hand again,
and every glass was set down empty. It is impossible to describe the
thrilling effect produced by this striking ceremony. At once dignified,
solemn, and impressive, it combined every element of grandeur.

"Well, gentlemen," said Mr. Pell, "all I can say is, that such marks
of confidence must be very gratifying to a professional man. I don't
wish to say anything that might appear egotistical, gentlemen, but I'm
very glad, for your own sakes, that you came to me; that's all. If you
had gone to any low member of the profession, it's my firm conviction,
and I assure you of it as a fact, that you would have found yourselves
in Queer Street before this. I could have wished my noble friend had
been alive to have seen my management of this case. I don't say it
out of pride, but I think--however, gentlemen, I won't trouble you
with that. I am generally to be found here, gentlemen, but if I'm not
here, or over the way, that's my address. You'll find my terms very
cheap and reasonable, and no man attends more to his clients than I do,
and I hope I know a little of my profession besides. If you have any
opportunity of recommending me to any of your friends, gentlemen, I
shall be very much obliged to you, and so will they too, when they come
to know me. _Your_ healths, gentlemen."

With this expression of his feelings, Mr. Solomon Pell laid three small
written cards before Mr. Weller's friends, and, looking at the clock
again, feared it was time to be walking. Upon this hint Mr. Weller
settled the bill, and, issuing forth, the executor, legatee, attorney,
and umpires, directed their steps towards the City.

The office of Wilkins Flasher, Esquire, of the Stock Exchange, was in a
first floor up a court behind the Bank of England; the house of Wilkins
Flasher, Esquire, was at Brixton, Surrey; the horse and stanhope of
Wilkins Flasher, Esquire, were at an adjacent livery stable; the groom
of Wilkins Flasher, Esquire, was on his way to the West End to deliver
some game; the clerk of Wilkins Flasher, Esquire, had gone to his
dinner, and Wilkins Flasher, Esquire, himself, cried, "Come in," when
Mr. Pell and his companions knocked at the counting-house door.

"Good morning, sir," said Pell, bowing obsequiously. "We want to make a
little transfer, if you please."

"Oh, come in, will you?" said Mr. Flasher. "Sit down a minute; I'll
attend to you directly."

"Thank you, sir," said Pell, "there's no hurry. Take a chair, Mr.
Weller."

Mr. Weller took a chair, and Sam took a box, and the umpires took what
they could get, and looked at the almanack and one or two papers which
were wafered against the wall, with as much open-eyed reverence as if
they had been the finest efforts of the old masters.

"Well, I'll bet you half a dozen of claret on it; come!" said Wilkins
Flasher, Esquire, resuming the conversation to which Mr. Pell's
entrance had caused a momentary interruption.

This was addressed to a very smart young gentleman who wore his hat on
his right whisker, and was lounging over the desk, killing flies with
a ruler. Wilkins Flasher, Esquire, was balancing himself on two legs
of an office stool, spearing a wafer-box with a pen-knife, which he
dropped every now and then with great dexterity into the very centre of
a small red wafer that was stuck outside. Both gentlemen had very open
waistcoats and very rolling collars, and very small boots, and very
big rings, and very little watches, and very large guard chains, and
symmetrical inexpressibles, and scented pocket-handkerchiefs.

"I never bet half a dozen," said the other gentleman. "I'll take a
dozen."

"Done, Simmery, done!" said Wilkins Flasher, Esquire. "P. P., mind,"
observed the other.

"Of course," replied Wilkins Flasher, Esquire. Wilkins Flasher,
Esquire, entered it in a little book, with a gold pencil-case, and the
other gentleman entered it also, in another little book with another
gold pencil-case.

"I see there's a notice up this morning about Boffer," observed Mr.
Simmery. "Poor devil, he's expelled the house!"

"I'll bet you ten guineas to five he cuts his throat," said Wilkins
Flasher, Esquire.

"Stop! I bar," said Wilkins Flasher, Esquire, thoughtfully. "Perhaps he
may hang himself."

"Very good," rejoined Mr. Simmery, pulling out the gold pencil-case
again." I've no objection to take you that way. Say, makes away with
himself."

"Kills himself, in fact," said Wilkins Flasher, Esquire.

"Just so," replied Mr. Simmery, putting down. "'Flasher--ten guineas to
five, Boffer kills himself.' Within what time shall we say?"

"A fortnight?" suggested Wilkins Flasher, Esquire.

"Confound it, no;" rejoined Mr. Simmery, stopping for an instant to
smash a fly with the ruler. "Say a week."

"Split the difference," said Wilkins Flasher, Esquire. "Make it ten
days."

"Well; ten days," rejoined Mr. Simmery.

So, it was entered down in the little books that Boffer was to kill
himself within ten days, or Wilkins Flasher, Esquire, was to hand over
to Frank Simmery, Esquire, the sum of ten guineas; and that if Boffer
did kill himself within that time, Frank Simmery, Esquire, would pay to
Wilkins Flasher, Esquire, five guineas, instead.

"I'm very sorry he has failed," said Wilkins Flasher, Esquire. "Capital
dinners he gave."

"Fine port he had too," remarked Mr. Simmery. "We are going to send our
butler to the sale to-morrow, to pick up some of that sixty-four."

"The devil you are," said Wilkins Flasher, Esquire. "My man's going
too. Five guineas my man outbids your man."

"Done."

Another entry was made in the little books, with the gold pencil-cases;
and Mr. Simmery having, by this time, killed all the flies and taken
all the bets, strolled away to the Stock Exchange to see what was going
forward.

Wilkins Flasher, Esquire, now condescended to receive Mr. Solomon's
Pell's instructions, and having filled up some printed forms, requested
the party to follow him to the Bank: which they did: Mr. Weller and his
three friends staring at all they beheld in unbounded astonishment, and
Sam encountering everything with a coolness which nothing could disturb.

Crossing a court-yard which was all noise and bustle; and passing a
couple of porters who seemed dressed to match the red fire-engine which
was wheeled away into a corner; they passed into an office where their
business was to be transacted, and where Pell and Mr. Flasher left them
standing for a few moments, while they went upstairs into the Will
Office.

"Wot place is this here?" whispered the mottled-faced gentleman to the
elder Mr. Weller.

"Counsel's Office," replied the executor in a whisper.

"Wot are them gen'l'men a settin' behind the counters?" asked the
hoarse coachman.

"Reduced counsels, I s'pose," replied Mr. Weller. "Ain't they the
reduced counsels, Samivel?"

"Vy, you don't suppose the reduced counsels is alive, do you?" inquired
Sam, with some disdain.

"How should I know?" retorted Mr. Weller; "I thought they looked wery
like it. Wot are they, then?"

"Clerks," replied Sam.

"Wot are they all a eatin' ham sangwidges for?" inquired his father.

"'Cos it's their dooty, I suppose," replied Sam, "it's a part o' the
system; they're always a doin' it here, all day long!"

Mr. Weller and his friends had scarcely had a moment to reflect upon
this singular regulation as connected with the monetary system of the
country, when they were rejoined by Pell and Wilkins Flasher, Esquire,
who led them to a part of the counter above which was a round black
board with a large "W." on it.

"Wot's that for, sir?" inquired Mr. Weller, directing Pell's attention
to the target in question.

"The first letter of the name of the deceased," replied Pell.

"I say," said Mr. Weller, turning round to the umpires. "There's
somethin' wrong here. We's our letter--this won't do."

The referees at once gave it as their decided opinion that the business
could not be legally proceeded with, under the letter W, and in all
probability it would have stood over for one day at least, had it not
been for the prompt, though, at first sight, undutiful behaviour of
Sam, who, seizing his father by the skirt of the coat, dragged him to
the counter, and pinned him there, until he had affixed his signature
to a couple of instruments; which from Mr. Weller's habit of printing,
was a work of so much labour and time, that the officiating clerk
peeled and ate three Ribston pippins while it was performing.

As the elder Mr. Weller insisted on selling out his portion forthwith,
they proceeded from the Bank to the gate of the Stock Exchange, to
which Wilkins Flasher, Esquire, after a short absence, returned with a
cheque on Smith, Payne, and Smith, for five hundred and thirty pounds;
that being the sum of money to which Mr. Weller, at the market price
of the day, was entitled, in consideration of the balance of the
second Mrs. Weller's funded savings. Sam's two hundred pounds stood
transferred to his name, and Wilkins Flasher, Esquire, having been
paid his commission, dropped the money carelessly into his coat pocket
and lounged back to his office.

Mr. Weller was at first obstinately determined on cashing the cheque in
nothing but sovereigns: but it being represented by the umpires that by
so doing he must incur the expense of a small sack to carry them home
in, he consented to receive the amount in five-pound notes.

"My son," said Mr. Weller as they came out of the banking-house, "my
son and me has a wery particular engagement this arternoon, and I
should like to have this here bis'ness settled out of hand, so let's
jest go straight avay someveres, vere ve can hordit the accounts."

A quiet room was soon found, and the accounts were produced and
audited. Mr. Pell's bill was taxed by Sam, and some charges were
disallowed by the umpires; but, notwithstanding Mr. Pell's declaration,
accompanied with many solemn asseverations, that they were really too
hard upon him, it was by very many degrees the best professional job he
had ever had, and one on which he boarded, lodged, and washed, for six
months afterwards.

The umpires, having partaken of a dram, shook hands and departed, as
they had to drive out of town that night. Mr. Solomon Pell, finding
that nothing more was going forward, either in the eating or drinking
way, took a friendly leave, and Sam and his father were left alone.

"There!" said Mr. Weller, thrusting his pocket-book in his side pocket.
"Vith the bills for the lease, and that, there's eleven hundred and
eighty pound here. Now, Samivel, my boy, turn the horses' heads to the
George and Wulter!"



CHAPTER XXVIII

[Illustration]

  _An important Conference takes place between Mr. Pickwick and
    Samuel Weller, at which his Parent assists. An old Gentleman in a
    Snuff-coloured Suit arrives unexpectedly_


Mr. Pickwick was sitting alone, musing over many things, and thinking
among other considerations how he could best provide for the young
couple whose present unsettled condition was matter of constant regret
and anxiety to him, when Mary stepped lightly into the room, and,
advancing to the table, said, rather hastily:

"Oh, if you please, sir, Samuel is down-stairs, and he says may his
father see you?"

"Surely," replied Mr. Pickwick.

"Thank you, sir," said Mary, tripping towards the door again.

"Sam has not been here long, has he?" inquired Mr. Pickwick.

"Oh no, sir," replied Mary, eagerly. "He has only just come home. He is
not going to ask you for any more leave, sir, he says."

Mary might have been conscious that she had communicated this last
intelligence with more warmth than seemed actually necessary, or she
might have observed the good-humoured smile with which Mr. Pickwick
regarded her, when she had finished speaking. She certainly held down
her head, and examined the corner of a very smart little apron, with
more closeness than there appeared any absolute occasion for.

"Tell them they can come up at once, by all means," said Mr. Pickwick.

Mary, apparently much relieved, hurried away with her message.

Mr. Pickwick took two or three turns up and down the room; and rubbing
his chin with his left hand as he did so, appeared lost in thought.

"Well, well," said Mr. Pickwick at length, in a kind but somewhat
melancholy tone, "it is the best way in which I could reward him for
his attachment and fidelity; let it be so, in Heaven's name. It is
the fate of a lonely old man, that those about him should form new
and different attachments and leave him. I have no right to expect
that it should be otherwise with me. No, no," added Mr. Pickwick more
cheerfully, "it would be selfish and ungrateful. I ought to be happy to
have an opportunity of providing for him so well. I am. Of course I am."

Mr. Pickwick had been so absorbed in these reflections, that a knock at
the door was three or four times repeated before he heard it. Hastily
seating himself, and calling up his accustomed pleasant looks, he gave
the required permission, and Sam Weller entered, followed by his father.

"Glad to see you back again, Sam," said Mr. Pickwick. "How do you do,
Mr. Weller?"

"Wery hearty, thankee, sir," replied the widower; "hope I see _you_
well, sir."

"Quite, I thank you," replied Mr. Pickwick.

"I wanted to have a little bit o' conwersation with you, sir," said Mr.
Weller, "if you could spare me five minits or so, sir."

"Certainly," replied Mr. Pickwick. "Sam, give your father a chair."

"Thankee, Samivel, I've got a cheer here," said Mr. Weller, bringing
one forward as he spoke; "uncommon fine day it's been sir," added the
old gentleman, laying his hat on the floor as he sat himself down.

"Remarkably so indeed," replied Mr. Pickwick. "Very seasonable."

"Seasonablest veather I ever see, sir," rejoined Mr. Weller. Here, the
old gentleman was seized with a violent fit of coughing, which, being
terminated, he nodded his head and winked and made several supplicatory
and threatening gestures to his son, all of which Sam Weller steadily
abstained from seeing.

Mr. Pickwick, perceiving that there was some embarrassment on the old
gentleman's part, affected to be engaged in cutting the leaves of a
book that lay beside him, and waited patiently until Mr. Weller should
arrive at the object of his visit.

"I never see sich a aggerawatin' boy as you are, Samivel," said Mr.
Weller, looking indignantly at his son; "never in all my born days."

"What is he doing, Mr. Weller?" inquired Mr. Pickwick.

"He von't begin, sir," rejoined Mr. Weller; "he knows I ain't ekal to
ex-pressin' myself ven there's anythin' partickler to be done, and yet
he'll stand and see me a settin' here takin' up your walable time, and
makin' a reg'lar spectacle o' myself, rayther than help me out vith a
syllable. It ain't filial conduct, Samivel," said Mr. Weller, wiping
his forehead; "wery far from it."

"You said you'd speak," replied Sam; "how should I know you wos done up
at the wery beginnin'?"

"You might ha' seen I warn't able to start," rejoined his father; "I'm
on the wrong side of the road, and backin' into the palin's, and all
manner of unpleasantness, and yet you von't put out a hand to help me.
I'm ashamed on you, Samivel."

"The fact is, sir," said Sam, with a slight bow, "the gov'ner's been a
drawin' his money."

"Wery good, Samivel, wery good," said Mr. Weller, nodding his head with
a satisfied air, "I didn't mean to speak harsh to you, Sammy. Wery
good. That's the vay to begin. Come to the pint at once. Wery good
indeed, Samivel."

Mr. Weller nodded his head an extraordinary number of times, in the
excess of his gratification, and waited in a listening attitude for Sam
to resume his statement.

"You may sit down, Sam," said Mr. Pickwick, apprehending that the
interview was likely to prove rather longer than he had expected.

Sam bowed again and sat down; his father looking round, he continued:

"The gov'ner, sir, has drawn out five hundred and thirty pound."

"Reduced counsels," interposed Mr. Weller senior, in an undertone.

"It don't much matter vether it's reduced counsels, or wot not," said
Sam; "five hundred and thirty pound is the sum, ain't it?"

"All right, Samivel," replied Mr. Weller.

"To vich sum, he has added for the house and bis'ness----"

"Lease, good-vill, stock, and fixters," interposed Mr. Weller.

--"As much as makes it," continued Sam, "altogether, eleven hundred and
eighty pound."

"Indeed!" said Mr. Pickwick. "I am delighted to hear it. I congratulate
you, Mr. Weller, on having done so well."

"Vait a minit, sir," said Mr. Weller, raising his hand in a deprecatory
manner. "Get on, Samivel."

"This here money," said Sam, with a little hesitation, "he's anxious to
put someveres, vere he knows it'll be safe, and I'm wery anxious too,
for if he keeps it, he'll go a lendin' it to somebody, or inwestin'
property in horses, or droppin' his pocket-book down a airy, or makin'
a Egyptian mummy of his-self in some vay or another."

"Wery good, Samivel," observed Mr. Weller, in as complacent a manner
as if Sam had been passing the highest eulogiums on his prudence and
foresight. "Wery good."

"For vich reasons," continued Sam, plucking nervously at the brim of
his hat; "for vich reasons, he's drawed it out to-day, and come here
vith me to say, leastvays to offer, or in other vords to----"

"--To say this here," said the elder Mr. Weller, impatiently, "that
it ain't no use to me. I'm a goin' to vork a coach reg'lar, and han't
got noveres to keep it in, unless I vos to pay the guard for takin'
care on it, or to put it in vun o' the coach pockets, vich 'ud be a
temptation to the insides. If you'll take care on it for me, sir, I
shall be wery much obliged to you. P'raps," said Mr. Weller, walking
up to Mr. Pickwick and whispering in his ear, "p'raps it'll go a little
vay towards the expenses o' that 'ere conwiction. All I say is, just
you keep it till I ask you for it again." With these words, Mr. Weller
placed the pocket-book in Mr. Pickwick's hands, caught up his hat, and
ran out of the room with a celerity scarcely to be expected from so
corpulent a subject.

"Stop him, Sam!" exclaimed Mr. Pickwick, earnestly. "Overtake him;
bring him back instantly! Mr. Weller--here--come back!"

Sam saw that his master's injunctions were not to be disobeyed; and
catching his father by the arm as he was descending the stairs, dragged
him back by main force.

"My good friend," said Mr. Pickwick, taking the old man by the hand,
"your honest confidence overpowers me."

"I don't see no occasion for nothin' o' the kind, sir," replied Mr.
Weller, obstinately.

"I assure you, my good friend, I have more money than I can ever
need; far more than a man at my age can ever live to spend," said Mr.
Pickwick.

"No man knows how much he can spend, till he tries," observed Mr.
Weller.

"Perhaps not," replied Mr. Pickwick; "but as I have no intention of
trying any such experiments, I am not likely to come to want. I must
beg you to take this back, Mr. Weller."

"Wery well," said Mr. Weller with a discontented look. "Mark my vords,
Sammy. I'll do something desperate vith this here property; somethin'
desperate!"

"You'd better not," replied Sam.

Mr. Weller reflected for a short time, and then, buttoning up his coat
with great determination, said:

"I'll keep a pike."

"Wot!" exclaimed Sam.

"A pike," rejoined Mr. Weller, through his set teeth: "I'll keep a
pike. Say good-bye to your father, Samivel. I devote the remainder o'
my days to' a pike."

This threat was such an awful one, and Mr. Weller, besides appearing
fully resolved to carry it into execution, seemed so deeply mortified
by Mr. Pickwick's refusal, that that gentleman after a short
reflection, said:

"Well, well, Mr. Weller, I will keep the money. I can do more good with
it, perhaps, than you can."

"Just the wery thing, to be sure," said Mr. Weller, brightening up; "o'
course you can, sir."

"Say no more about it," said Mr. Pickwick, locking the pocket-book in
his desk; "I am heartily obliged to you, my good friend. Now sit down
again. I want to ask your advice."

The internal laughter occasioned by the triumphant success of his
visit, which had convulsed not only Mr. Weller's face, but his arms,
legs, and body also, during the locking up of the pocket-book, suddenly
gave place to the most dignified gravity as he heard these words.

"Wait outside a few minutes, Sam, will you?" said Mr. Pickwick.

Sam immediately withdrew.

Mr. Weller looked uncommonly wise and very much amazed, when Mr.
Pickwick opened the discourse by saying:

"You are not an advocate for matrimony, I think, Mr. Weller?"

Mr. Weller shook his head. He was wholly unable to speak; vague
thoughts of some wicked widow having been successful in her designs on
Mr. Pickwick, choked his utterance.

"Did you happen to see a young girl down-stairs when you came in just
now with your son?" inquired Mr. Pickwick.

"Yes. I see a young gal," replied Mr. Weller, shortly.

"What did you think of her, now? Candidly, Mr. Weller, what did you
think of her?"

"I thought she wos wery plump, and vell made," said Mr. Weller, with a
critical air.

"So she is," said Mr. Pickwick, "so she is. What did you think of her
manners, from what you saw of her?"

"Wery pleasant," rejoined Mr. Weller. "Wery pleasant and conformable."

The precise meaning which Mr. Weller attached to this last-mentioned
adjective did not appear; but, as it was evident from the tone in
which he used it that it was a favourable expression, Mr. Pickwick
was as well satisfied as if he had been thoroughly enlightened on the
subject.

"I take a great interest in her, Mr. Weller," said Mr. Pickwick.

Mr. Weller coughed.

"I mean an interest in her doing well," resumed Mr. Pickwick; "a desire
that she may be comfortable and prosperous. You understand?"

"Wery clearly," replied Mr. Weller, who understood nothing yet.

"That young person," said Mr. Pickwick, "is attached to your son."

"To Samivel Veller!" exclaimed the parent.

"Yes," said Mr. Pickwick.

"It's nat'ral," said Mr. Weller, after some consideration, "nat'ral,
but rather alarmin'. Sammy must be careful."

"How do you mean?" inquired Mr. Pickwick.

"Wery careful that he don't say nothin' to her," responded Mr. Weller.
"Wery careful that he ain't led avay, in a innocent moment, to say
anythink as may lead to a conwiction for breach. You're never safe
vith 'em, Mr. Pickwick, ven they vunce has designs on you; there's no
knowin' vere to have 'em; and vile you're a considering of it, they
have you. I wos married fust that vay myself, sir, and Sammy was the
consekens o' the manoover."

"You give me no great encouragement to conclude what I have to say,"
observed Mr. Pickwick, "but I had better do so at once. This young
person is not only attached to your son, Mr. Weller, but your son is
attached to her."

"Vell," said Mr. Weller, "this here's a pretty sort o' thing to come to
a father's ears, this is!"

"I have observed them on several occasions," said Mr. Pickwick, making
no comment on Mr. Weller's last remark; "and entertain no doubt at all
about it. Supposing I were desirous of establishing them comfortably
as man and wife in some little business or situation, where they might
hope to obtain a decent living, what should you think of it, Mr.
Weller?"

At first Mr. Weller received with wry faces a proposition involving the
marriage of anybody in whom he took an interest; but, as Mr. Pickwick
argued the point with him, and laid great stress on the fact that Mary
was not a widow, he gradually became more tractable. Mr. Pickwick had
great influence over him, and he had been much struck with Mary's
appearance; having, in fact, bestowed several very unfatherly winks
upon her, already. At length he said that it was not for him to oppose
Mr. Pickwick's inclination, and that he would be very happy to yield to
his advice; upon which Mr. Pickwick joyfully took him at his word, and
called Sam back into the room.

"Sam," said Mr. Pickwick, clearing his throat, "your father and I have
been having some conversation about you."

"About you, Samivel," said Mr. Weller, in a patronising and impressive
voice.

"I am not so blind, Sam, as not to have seen, a long time since, that
you entertain something more than a friendly feeling towards Mrs.
Winkle's maid," said Mr. Pickwick.

"You hear this, Samivel?" said Mr. Weller in the same judicial form of
speech as before.

"I hope, sir," said Sam, addressing his master: "I hope there's no
harm in a young man takin' notice of a young 'ooman as is undeniably
good-looking and well-conducted."

"Certainly not," said Mr. Pickwick.

"Not by no means," acquiesced Mr. Weller, affably but magisterially.

"So far from thinking there is anything wrong, in conduct so natural,"
resumed Mr. Pickwick, "it is my wish to assist and promote your wishes
in this respect. With this view, I have had a little conversation with
your father; and finding that he is of my opinion----"

"The lady not bein' a widder," interposed Mr. Weller in explanation.

"The lady not being a widow," said Mr. Pickwick, smiling. "I wish
to free you from the restraint which your present position imposes
upon you, and to mark my sense of your fidelity and many excellent
qualities, by enabling you to marry this girl at once, and to earn an
independent livelihood for yourself and family. I shall be proud, Sam,"
said Mr. Pickwick, whose voice had faltered a little hitherto, but
now resumed its customary tone, "proud and happy to make your future
prospects in life, my grateful and peculiar care."

There was a profound silence for a short time, and then Sam said in a
low husky sort of voice, but firmly withal:

"I'm very much obliged to you for your goodness, sir, as is only like
yourself; but it can't be done."

"Can't be done!" ejaculated Mr. Pickwick in astonishment.

"Samivel!" said Mr. Weller, with dignity.

"I say it can't be done," repeated Sam in a louder key. "Wot's to
become of you, sir?"

"My good fellow," replied Mr. Pickwick, "the recent changes among my
friends will alter my mode of life in future, entirely; besides, I am
growing older, and want repose and quiet. My rambles, Sam, are over."

"How do I know that 'ere, sir?" argued Sam. "You think so now! S'pose
you wos to change your mind, vich is not unlikely, for you've the
spirit o' five-and tventy in you still, what 'ud become on you vithout
me? It can't be done, sir, it can't be done."

"Wery good, Samivel, there's a good deal in that," said Mr. Weller,
encouragingly.

"I speak after long deliberation, Sam, and with the certainty that I
shall keep my word," said Mr. Pickwick, shaking his head. "New scenes
have closed upon me; my rambles are at an end."

"Wery good," rejoined Sam. "Then, that's the wery best reason vy you
should alvays have somebody by you as understands you, to keep you up
and make you comfortable. If you vant a more polished sort o' feller,
vell and good, have him; but vages or no vages, notice or no notice,
board or no board, lodgin' or no lodgin', Sam Veller, as you took from
the old inn in the Borough, sticks by you, come what come may; and let
ev'rythin' and ev'rybody do their wery fiercest, nothin' shall ever
perwent it!"

At the close of this declaration, which Sam made with great emotion,
the elder Mr. Weller rose from his chair, and, forgetting all
considerations of time, place, or propriety, waved his hat above his
head, and gave three vehement cheers.

"My good fellow," said Mr. Pickwick, when Mr. Weller had sat down
again, rather abashed at his own enthusiasm, "you are bound to consider
the young woman also."

"I do consider the young 'ooman, sir," said Sam. "I have considered the
young 'ooman. I've spoke to her. I've told her how I'm sitivated; she's
ready to wait till I'm ready, and I believe she vill. If she don't,
she's not the young 'ooman I take her for, and I give her up vith
readiness. You've know'd me afore, sir. My mind's made up, and nothin'
can ever alter it."

Who could combat this resolution? Not Mr. Pickwick. He derived, at
that moment, more pride and luxury of feeling from the disinterested
attachment of his humble friends, than ten thousand protestations from
the greatest men living could have awakened in his heart.

While this conversation was passing in Mr. Pickwick's room, a little
old gentleman in a suit of snuff-coloured clothes, followed by a porter
carrying a small portmanteau, presented himself below; and after
securing a bed for the night, inquired of the waiter whether one Mrs.
Winkle was staying there, to which question the waiter, of course,
responded in the affirmative.

"Is she alone?" inquired the little old gentleman.

"I believe she is, sir," replied the waiter; "I can call her own maid,
sir, if you----"

"No, I don't want her," said the old gentleman, quickly. "Show me to
her room without announcing me."

"Eh, sir?" said the waiter.

"Are you deaf?" inquired the little old gentleman.

"No, sir."

"Then listen, if you please. Can you hear me now?"

"Yes, sir."

"That's well. Show me to Mrs. Winkle's room, without announcing me."

As the little old gentleman uttered this command, he slipped five
shillings into the waiter's hand, and looked steadily at him.

"Really, sir," said the waiter, "I don't know, sir, whether----"

"Ah! you'll do it, I see," said the little old gentleman. "You had
better do it at once. It will save time."

There was something so very cool and collected in the gentleman's
manner, that the waiter put the five shillings in his pocket, and led
him up-stairs without a word.

"This is the room, is it?" said the gentleman. "You may go."

[Illustration: _A little old gentleman in a suit of snuff-coloured
clothes_]

The waiter complied, wondering much who the gentleman could be and what
he wanted; the little old gentleman, waiting till he was out of sight,
tapped at the door.

"Come in," said Arabella.

"Um! a pretty voice at any rate," murmured the little old gentleman;
"but that's nothing." As he said this he opened the door and walked
in. Arabella, who was sitting at work, rose on beholding a stranger--a
little confused--but by no means ungracefully so.

"Pray don't rise, ma'am," said the unknown, walking in, and closing the
door after him. "Mrs. Winkle, I believe?"

Arabella inclined her head.

"Mrs. Nathaniel Winkle, who married the son of the old man at
Birmingham?" said the stranger, eyeing Arabella with visible curiosity.

Again Arabella inclined her head, and looked uneasily round as if
uncertain whether to call for assistance.

"I surprise you, I see, ma'am," said the old gentleman.

"Rather, I confess," replied Arabella, wondering more and more.

"I'll take a chair, if you'll allow me, ma'am," said the stranger.

He took one, and drawing a spectacle-case from his pocket, leisurely
pulled out a pair of spectacles, which he adjusted on his nose.

"You don't know me, ma'am?" he said, looking so intently at Arabella
that she began to feel alarmed.

"No, sir," she replied timidly.

"No," said the gentleman, nursing his left leg; "I don't know how you
should. You know my name though, ma'am."

"Do I?" said Arabella, trembling, though she scarcely knew why. "May I
ask you what it is?"

"Presently, ma'am, presently," said the stranger, not having yet
removed his eyes from her countenance. "You have been recently married,
ma'am?"

"I have," replied Arabella, in a scarcely audible tone, laying aside
her work, and becoming greatly agitated as a thought, that had occurred
to her before, struck more forcibly upon her mind.

"Without having represented to your husband the propriety of first
consulting his father, on whom he is dependent, I think?" said the
stranger.

Arabella applied her handkerchief to her eyes.

"Without an endeavour, even, to ascertain, by some indirect appeal,
what were the old man's sentiments on a point in which he would
naturally feel much interested?" said the stranger.

"I cannot deny it, sir," said Arabella.

"And without having sufficient property of your own to afford your
husband any permanent assistance in exchange for the worldly advantages
which you knew he would have gained if he had married agreeably to his
father's wishes?" said the old gentleman. "This is what boys and girls
call disinterested affection, till they have boys and girls of their
own, and then they see it in a rougher and very different light!"

Arabella's tears flowed fast, as she pleaded in extenuation that she
was young and inexperienced; that her attachment had alone induced
her to take the step to which she had resorted; and that she had been
deprived of the counsel and guidance of her parents almost from infancy.

"It was wrong," said the old gentleman in a milder tone, "very wrong.
It was foolish, romantic, unbusiness-like."

"It was my fault; all my fault, sir," replied poor Arabella, weeping.

"Nonsense," said the old gentleman; "it was not your fault that he
fell in love with you, I suppose? Yes it was, though," said the old
gentleman, looking rather slyly at Arabella. "It was your fault. He
couldn't help it."

This little compliment, or the little gentleman's odd way of paying
it, or his altered manner--so much kinder than it was at first--or all
three together, forced a smile from Arabella in the midst of her tears.

"Where's your husband?" inquired the old gentleman abruptly; stopping a
smile which was just coming over his own face.

"I expect him every instant, sir," said Arabella. "I persuaded him to
take a walk this morning. He is very low and wretched at not having
heard from his father."

"Low, is he?" said the old gentleman. "Serve him right!"

"He feels it on my account, I am afraid," said Arabella; "and indeed,
sir, I feel it deeply on his. I have been the sole means of bringing
him to his present condition."

"Don't mind on his account, my dear," said the old gentleman. "It
serves him right. I am glad of it--actually glad of it, as far as he is
concerned."

The words were scarcely out of the old gentleman's lips, when
footsteps were heard ascending the stairs, which he and Arabella seemed
both to recognise at the same moment. The little gentleman turned pale,
and making a strong effort to appear composed, stood up, as Mr. Winkle
entered the room.

"Father!" cried Mr. Winkle, recoiling in amazement.

"Yes, sir," replied the little old gentleman. "Well, sir, what have you
got to say to me?"

Mr. Winkle remained silent.

"You are ashamed of yourself, I hope, sir?" said the old gentleman.

Still Mr. Winkle said nothing.

"Are you ashamed of yourself, sir, or are you not?" inquired the old
gentleman.

"No, sir," replied Mr. Winkle, drawing Arabella's arm through his. "I
am not ashamed of myself, or of my wife either."

"Upon my word!" cried the old gentleman, ironically.

"I am very sorry to have done anything which has lessened your
affection for me, sir," said Mr. Winkle; "but I will say, at the same
time, that I have no reason to be ashamed of having this lady for my
wife, nor you of having her for a daughter."

"Give me your hand, Nat," said the old gentleman in an altered voice.
"Kiss me, my love. You _are_ a very charming little daughter-in-law
after all!"

In a few minutes' time Mr. Winkle went in search of Mr. Pickwick, and
returning with that gentleman, presented him to his father, whereupon
they shook hands for five minutes incessantly.

"Mr. Pickwick, I thank you most heartily for all your kindness to
my son," said old Mr. Winkle, in a bluff straightforward way. "I am
a hasty fellow, and when I saw you last, I was vexed and taken by
surprise. I have judged for myself now, and am more than satisfied.
Shall I make any more apologies, Mr. Pickwick?"

"Not one," replied that gentleman. "You have done the only thing
wanting to complete my happiness."

Hereupon, there was another shaking of hands for five minutes longer,
accompanied by a great number of complimentary speeches, which, besides
being complimentary, had the additional and very novel recommendation
of being sincere.

Sam had dutifully seen his father to the Belle Sauvage, when, on
returning, he encountered the fat boy in the court, who had been
charged with the delivery of a note from Emily Wardle.

"I say," said Joe, who was unusually loquacious, "what a pretty girl
Mary is, isn't she? I am _so_ fond of her, I am!"

Mr. Weller made no verbal remark in reply; but eyeing the fat boy for
a moment, quite transfixed at his presumption, led him by the collar
to the corner, and dismissed him with a harmless but ceremonious kick.
After which, he walked home, whistling.

[Illustration: _Dismissed him with a harmless but ceremonious kick_]



CHAPTER XXIX

[Illustration]

  _In which the Pickwick Club is finally Dissolved and Everything
    Concluded to the Satisfaction of Everybody_


For a whole week after the happy arrival of Mr. Winkle from Birmingham,
Mr. Pickwick and Sam Weller were from home all day long, only returning
just in time for dinner, and then wearing an air of mystery and
importance quite foreign to their natures. It was evident that very
grave and eventful proceedings were on foot; but various surmises
were afloat, respecting their precise character. Some (among whom was
Mr. Tupman) were disposed to think that Mr. Pickwick contemplated
a matrimonial alliance; but this idea the ladies most strenuously
repudiated. Others rather inclined to the belief that he had projected
some distant tour, and was at present occupied in effecting the
preliminary arrangements; but this again was stoutly denied by Sam
himself, who had unequivocally stated when cross-examined by Mary that
no new journeys were to be undertaken. At length, when the brains
of the whole party had been racked for six long days, by unavailing
speculation, it was unanimously resolved that Mr. Pickwick should be
called upon to explain his conduct, and to state distinctly why he had
thus absented himself from the society of his admiring friends.

With this view, Mr. Wardle invited the full circle to dinner at the
Adelphi; and, the decanters having been twice sent round, opened the
business.

"We are all anxious to know," said the old gentleman, "what we have
done to offend you, and to induce you to desert us and devote yourself
to these solitary walks."

"Are you?" said Mr. Pickwick. "It is singular enough that I had
intended to volunteer a full explanation this very day; so, if you will
give me another glass of wine, I will satisfy your curiosity."

The decanters passed from hand to hand with unwonted briskness, and Mr.
Pickwick, looking round on the faces of his friends with a cheerful
smile, proceeded:

"All the changes that have taken place among us," said Mr. Pickwick, "I
mean the marriage that _has_ taken place, and the marriage that _will_
take place, with the changes they involve, rendered it necessary for
me to think, soberly and at once, upon my future plans. I determined
on retiring to some quiet, pretty neighbourhood in the vicinity of
London; I saw a house which exactly suited my fancy; I have taken it
and furnished it. It is fully prepared for my reception, and I intend
entering upon it at once, trusting that I may yet live to spend many
quiet years in peaceful retirement, cheered through life by the society
of my friends, and followed in death by their affectionate remembrance."

Here Mr. Pickwick paused, and a low murmur ran round the table.

"The house I have taken," said Mr. Pickwick, "is at Dulwich. It has a
large garden, and is situated in one of the most pleasant spots near
London. It has been fitted up with every attention to substantial
comfort; perhaps to a little elegance besides; but of that you shall
judge for yourselves. Sam accompanies me there. I have engaged, on
Perker's representation, a housekeeper--a very old one--and such other
servants as she thinks I shall require. I propose to consecrate this
little retreat by having a ceremony, in which I take a great interest,
performed there. I wish, if my friend Wardle entertains no objection,
that his daughter should be married from my new house, on the day
I take possession of it. The happiness of young people," said Mr.
Pickwick, a little moved, "has ever been the chief pleasure of my life.
It will warm my heart to witness the happiness of those friends who are
dearest to me, beneath my own roof."

Mr. Pickwick paused again: Emily and Arabella sobbed audibly.

"I have communicated, both personally and by letter, with the Club,"
resumed Mr. Pickwick, "acquainting them with my intention. During our
long absence, it had suffered much from internal dissensions; and the
withdrawal of my name, coupled with this and other circumstances, has
occasioned its dissolution. The Pickwick Club exists no longer."

[Illustration: "_The happiness of young people," said Mr. Pickwick, a
little moved, "has ever been the chief pleasure of my life_"]

"I shall never regret," said Mr. Pickwick in a low voice, "I shall
never regret having devoted the greater part of two years to mixing
with different varieties and shades of human character: frivolous as
my pursuit of novelty may have appeared to many. Nearly the whole
of my previous life having been devoted to business and the pursuit
of wealth, numerous scenes of which I had no previous conception
have dawned upon me--I hope to the enlargement of my mind, and the
improvement of my understanding. If I have done but little good, I
trust I have done less harm, and that none of my adventures will be
other than a source of amusing and pleasant recollection to me in the
decline of life. God bless you all!"

With these words, Mr. Pickwick filled and drained a bumper with a
trembling hand, and his eyes moistened as his friends rose with one
accord and pledged him from their hearts.

There were very few preparatory arrangements to be made for the
marriage of Mr. Snodgrass. As he had neither father nor mother, and
had been in his minority a ward of Mr. Pickwick's, that gentleman was
perfectly well acquainted with his possessions and prospects. His
account of both was quite satisfactory to Wardle--as almost any other
account would have been, for the good old gentleman was overflowing
with hilarity and kindness--and a handsome portion having been bestowed
upon Emily, the marriage was fixed to take place on the fourth day
from that time; the suddenness of which preparations reduced three
dressmakers and a tailor to the extreme verge of insanity.

Getting post-horses to the carriage, old Wardle started off next day,
to bring his mother up to town. Communicating his intelligence to
the old lady with characteristic impetuosity, she instantly fainted
away; but being promptly revived, ordered the brocaded silk gown to be
packed up forthwith, and proceeded to relate some circumstances of a
similar nature attending the marriage of the eldest daughter of Lady
Tollimglower, deceased, which occupied three hours in the recital, and
were not half finished at last.

Mrs. Trundle had to be informed of all the mighty preparations that
were making in London, and being in a delicate state of health was
informed thereof through Mr. Trundle, lest the news should be too much
for her; but it was not too much for her, inasmuch as she at once
wrote off to Muggleton, to order a new cap and a black satin gown, and
moreover avowed her determination of being present at the ceremony.
Hereupon Mr. Trundle called in the doctor, and the doctor said Mrs.
Trundle ought to know best how she felt herself, to which Mrs. Trundle
replied that she felt herself quite equal to it, and that she had made
up her mind to go; upon which the doctor, who was a wise and discreet
doctor, and knew what was good for himself as well as for other people,
said that perhaps if Mrs. Trundle stopped at home she might hurt
herself more by fretting, than by going, so perhaps she had better go.
And she did go; the doctor with great attention sending in half a dozen
of medicine, to be drunk upon the road.

In addition to these points of distraction, Wardle was entrusted
with two small letters to two small young ladies who were to act as
bridesmaids; upon the receipt of which, the two young ladies were
driven to despair by having no "things" ready for so important an
occasion, and no time to make them in--a circumstance which appeared
to afford the two worthy papas of the two small young ladies rather
a feeling of satisfaction than otherwise. However, old frocks were
trimmed, and new bonnets made, and the young ladies looked as well as
could possibly have been expected of them. And as they cried at the
subsequent ceremony in the proper places, and trembled at the right
times, they acquitted themselves to the admiration of all beholders.

How the two poor relations ever reached London--whether they walked, or
got behind coaches, or procured lifts in waggons, or carried each other
by turns--is uncertain; but there they were, before Wardle; and the
very first people that knocked at the door of Mr. Pickwick's house, on
the bridal morning, were the two poor relations, all smiles and shirt
collar.

They were welcomed heartily though, for riches or poverty had no
influence on Mr. Pickwick; the new servants were all alacrity and
readiness; Sam was in a most unrivalled state of high spirits and
excitement; Mary was glowing with beauty and smart ribands.

The bridegroom, who had been staying at the house for two or three
days previous, sallied forth gallantly to Dulwich Church to meet
the bride, attended by Mr. Pickwick, Ben Allen, Bob Sawyer, and Mr.
Tupman; with Sam Weller outside, having at his button-hole a white
favour, the gift of his lady-love, and clad in a new and gorgeous suit
of livery invented for the occasion. They were met by the Wardles,
and the Winkles, and the bride and bridesmaids, and the Trundles; and
the ceremony having been performed, the coaches rattled back to Mr.
Pickwick's to breakfast, where little Mr. Perker already awaited them.

Here, all the light clouds of the more solemn part of the proceedings
passed away; every face shone forth joyously; nothing was to be heard
but congratulations and commendations. Everything was so beautiful!
The lawn in front, the garden behind, the miniature conservatory,
the dining-room, the drawing-room, the bedrooms, the smoking-room,
and above all the study, with its pictures and easy chairs, and odd
cabinets, and queer tables, and books out of number, with a large
cheerful window opening upon a pleasant lawn and commanding a pretty
landscape, dotted here and there with little houses almost hidden by
the trees; and then the curtains, and the carpets, and the chairs, and
the sofas! Everything was so beautiful, so compact, so neat, and in
such exquisite taste, said everybody, that there really was no deciding
what to admire most.

And in the midst of all this, stood Mr. Pickwick, his countenance
lighted up with smiles, which the heart of no man, woman, or child,
could resist: himself the happiest of the group: shaking hands over
and over again with the same people, and when his own hands were not
so employed, rubbing them with pleasure; turning round in a different
direction at every fresh expression of gratification or curiosity, and
inspiring everybody with his looks of gladness and delight.

Breakfast is announced. Mr. Pickwick leads the old lady (who has been
very eloquent on the subject of Lady Tollimglower) to the top of a
long table; Wardle takes the bottom; the friends arrange themselves
on either side; Sam takes his station behind his master's chair; the
laughter and talking cease; Mr. Pickwick, having said grace, pauses for
an instant, and looks round him. As he does so, the tears roll down his
cheeks, in the fulness of his joy.

Let us leave our old friend in one of those moments of unmixed
happiness, of which, if we seek them, there are ever some, to cheer our
transitory existence here. There are dark shadows on the earth, but its
lights are stronger in the contrast. Some men, like bats or owls, have
better eyes for the darkness than for the light. We, who have no such
optical powers, are better pleased to take our last parting look at the
visionary companions of many solitary hours, when the brief sunshine of
the world is blazing full upon them.

       *       *       *       *       *

[Illustration: _The admiration of numerous elderly ladies of single
condition._]

It is the fate of most men who mingle with the world, and attain even
the prime of life, to make many real friends, and lose them in the
course of nature. It is the fate of all authors or chroniclers to
create imaginary friends, and lose them in the course of art. Nor is
this the full extent of their misfortunes; for they are required to
furnish an account of them besides.

In compliance with this custom--unquestionably a bad one--we subjoin
a few biographical words, in relation to the party at Mr. Pickwick's
assembled.

Mr. and Mrs. Winkle, being fully received into favour by the old
gentleman, were shortly afterwards installed in a newly-built house,
not half a mile from Mr. Pickwick's. Mr. Winkle, being engaged in the
City as agent or town correspondent of his father, exchanged his old
costume for the ordinary dress of Englishmen, and presented all the
external appearance of a civilised Christian ever afterwards.

[Illustration: _Exchanged his old costume for the ordinary dress of
Englishmen_]

Mr. and Mrs. Snodgrass settled at Dingley Dell, where they purchased
and cultivated a small farm, more for occupation than profit. Mr.
Snodgrass, being occasionally abstracted and melancholy, is to this day
reputed a great poet among his friends and acquaintance, although we
do not find that he has ever written anything to encourage the belief.
There are many celebrated characters, literary, philosophical, and
otherwise, who hold a high reputation on a similar tenure.

Mr. Tupman, when his friends married, and Mr. Pickwick settled, took
lodgings at Richmond, where he has ever since resided. He walks
constantly on the terrace during the summer months, with a youthful
and jaunty air which has rendered him the admiration of the numerous
elderly ladies of single condition, who reside in the vicinity. He has
never proposed again.

Mr. Bob Sawyer, having previously passed through the _Gazette_, passed
over to Bengal, accompanied by Mr. Benjamin Allen; both gentlemen
having received surgical appointments from the East India Company. They
each had the yellow fever fourteen times, and then resolved to try a
little abstinence; since which period, they have been doing well.

Mrs. Bardell let lodgings to many conversable single gentleman, with
great profit, but never brought any more actions for breach of promise
of marriage. Her attorneys, Messrs. Dodson and Fogg, continue in
business, from which they realise a large income, and in which they are
universally considered among the sharpest of the sharp.

Sam Weller kept his word, and remained unmarried, for two years. The
old housekeeper dying at the end of that time, Mr. Pickwick promoted
Mary to the situation, on condition of her marrying Mr. Weller at once,
which she did without a murmur. From the circumstance of two sturdy
little boys having been repeatedly seen at the gate of the back garden,
there is reason to suppose that Sam has some family.

The elder Mr. Weller drove a coach for twelve months, but, being
afflicted with the gout, was compelled to retire. The contents of
the pocket-book had been so well invested for him, however, by Mr.
Pickwick, that he had a handsome independence to retire on, upon which
he still lives at an excellent public-house near Shooter's Hill, where
he is quite reverenced as an oracle: boasting very much of his intimacy
with Mr. Pickwick, and retaining a most unconquerable aversion to
widows.

Mr. Pickwick himself continued to reside in his new house, employing
his leisure hours in arranging the memoranda which he afterwards
presented to the secretary of the once famous Club, or in hearing Sam
Weller read aloud, with such remarks as suggested themselves to his
mind, which never failed to afford Mr. Pickwick great amusement. He
was much troubled at first, by the numerous applications made to him
by Mr. Snodgrass, Mr. Winkle, and Mr. Trundle, to act as godfather
to their offspring; but he has become used to it now, and officiates
as a matter of course. He never had occasion to regret his bounty
to Mr. Jingle; for both that person and Job Trotter became, in
time, worthy members of society, although they have always steadily
objected to return to the scenes of their old haunts and temptations.
Mr. Pickwick is somewhat infirm now; but he retains all his former
juvenility of spirit, and may still be frequently seen contemplating
the pictures in the Dulwich Gallery, or enjoying a walk about the
pleasant neighbourhood on a fine day. He is known by all the poor
people about, who never fail to take their hats off, as he passes, with
great respect. The children idolise him, and so indeed does the whole
neighbourhood. Every year he repairs to a large family merry-making
at Mr. Wardle's; on this, as on all other occasions, he is invariably
attended by the faithful Sam, between whom and his master there exists
a steady and reciprocal attachment which nothing but death will
terminate.

[Illustration]


  Printed by +Ballantyne, Hanson & Co.+
  Edinburgh & London



Transcriber's note


Text in italics was surrounded with _underscores_ and small capitals
with +signs+.

Small errors in punctuation were corrected without note, also the
following changes were made, on page

   11 "hd" changed to "had" (who had distinctly seen him)
   11 "ther" changed to "their" (touched their foreheads)
   27 "returing" changed to "returning" (Instead of returning to the
      office)
   41 "though" changed to "thought" ("Ah, I thought not," said the
      Serjeant)
   41 "Phunkey" changed to "Phunky" (the pleasure of seeing you
      before, Mr. Phunky,)
   45 "Sob" changed to "Bob" (replied Bob Sawyer)
   70 "Mr. Mr." changed to "Mr." (the straight-walking Mr. Anthony
      Humm)
   84 "expeience" changed to "experience" (his professional experience)
   84 "responsibilty" changed to "responsibility" (a responsibility,
      he would say)
   88 "Drawng" changed to "Drawing" (Drawing forth two very small
      scraps)
   95 "straghtforward" changed to "straightforward" (service to
      honest, straightforward men)
  102 "Mesrs" changed to "Mssrs" (after doing Messrs. Dodson and
      Fogg's case)
  102 "tha" changed to "the" (eulogiums on the conduct)
  106 "cherfulness" changed to "cheerfulness" (with perfect
      cheerfulness and content of heart)
  111 "perpared" changed to "prepared" (Mr. Pickwick prepared to
      ensconce himself inside)
  119 "êlite" changed to "élite" (The _élite_ of Ba--ath.)
  155 "tosssing" changed to "tossing" (tossing off, as he spoke)
  160 "cabaliscit" changed to "cabalistic" (inscribed with a variety
      of cabalistic characters)
  173 "litttle" changed to "little" (and divers little love passages
      had passed)
  194 "impossibilty" changed to "impossibility" (it being a moral
      impossibility to swear)
  215 "loking" changed to "looking" (looking lazily out from under)
  220 "expreessd" changed to "expressed" (the one expressed his
      opinion)
  222 "furnitur" changed to "furniture" (You'll want some furniture.)
  230 "situate" changed to "situated" (situated in Portugal Street)
  301 "mustta ke" changed to "must take" (You must take the matter in
      hand for them)
  302 "be" changed to "he" (he became particularly restless)
  363 "interupted" changed to "interrupted" (interrupted Pott,
      drawing back)
  378 "inpuired" changed to "inquired" (inquired Sam, drawing his
      chair)
  398 "wih" changed to "with" (have been honoured with the confidence)
  416 "pantomine" changed to "pantomime" (ever seen out of a
      Christmas pantomime.)
  437 "contuinued" changed to "continued" (makes it," continued Sam)
  450 "cherful" changed to "cheerful" (with a cheerful smile).

Otherwise the original of this edition was preserved, including
inconsistencies in spelling, hyphenation etc.





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