'Hadn't they better go to bed, ma'am?' inquired Emma. 'Twoof the boys will carry
the gentlemen upstairs.'
'I won't go to bed,' said Mr. Winkle firmly.
'No living boy shall carry me,' said Mr. Pickwick stoutly; andhe went on smiling
as before.'Hurrah!' gasped Mr. Winkle faintly.
'Hurrah!' echoed Mr. Pickwick, taking off his hat and dashingit on the floor,
and insanely casting his spectacles into the middleof the kitchen. At this humorous
feat he laughed outright.
'Let's--have--'nother--bottle,'cried Mr. Winkle, commencingin a very loud key,
and ending in a very faint one. His headdropped upon his breast; and, muttering
his invincible determinationnot to go to his bed, and a sanguinary regret that he
hadnot 'done for old Tupman' in the morning, he fell fast asleep; inwhich condition
he was borne to his apartment by two younggiants under the personal superintendence
of the fat boy, towhose protecting care Mr. Snodgrass shortly afterwards confidedhis
own person, Mr. Pickwick accepted the proffered arm ofMr. Tupman and quietly disappeared,
smiling more than ever;and Mr. Wardle, after taking as affectionate a leave of the
wholefamily as if he were ordered for immediate execution, consignedto Mr. Trundle
the honour of conveying him upstairs, andretired, with a very futile attempt to
look impressively solemnand dignified.'What a shocking scene!' said the spinster
'Dis-gusting!' ejaculated both the young ladies.
'Dreadful--dreadful!' said Jingle, looking very grave: he wasabout a bottle and
a half ahead of any of his companions.'Horrid spectacle--very!'
'What a nice man!' whispered the spinster aunt to Mr. Tupman.
'Good-looking, too!' whispered Emily Wardle.
'Oh, decidedly,' observed the spinster aunt.
Mr. Tupman thought of the widow at Rochester, and his mindwas troubled. The succeeding
half-hour's conversation was notof a nature to calm his perturbed spirit. The new
visitor was verytalkative, and the number of his anecdotes was only to beexceeded
by the extent of his politeness. Mr. Tupman felt that asJingle's popularity increased,
he (Tupman) retired further into theshade. His laughter was forced--his merriment
feigned; andwhen at last he laid his aching temples between the sheets, hethought,
with horrid delight, on the satisfaction it would affordhim to have Jingle's head
at that moment between the feather bedand the mattress.
The indefatigable stranger rose betimes next morning, and,although his companions
remained in bed overpowered with thedissipation of the previous night, exerted himself
most successfullyto promote the hilarity of the breakfast-table. So successfulwere
his efforts, that even the deaf old lady insisted on having oneor two of his best
jokes retailed through the trumpet; and evenshe condescended to observe to the spinster
aunt, that 'He'(meaning Jingle) 'was an impudent young fellow:' a sentiment inwhich
all her relations then and there present thoroughlycoincided.
It was the old lady's habit on the fine summer mornings torepair to the arbour
in which Mr. Tupman had already signalisedhimself, in form and manner following:
first, the fat boy fetchedfrom a peg behind the old lady's bedroom door, a close
blacksatin bonnet, a warm cotton shawl, and a thick stick with acapacious handle;
and the old lady, having put on the bonnet andshawl at her leisure, would lean one
hand on the stick and theother on the fat boy's shoulder, and walk leisurely to
the arbour,where the fat boy would leave her to enjoy the fresh air for thespace
of half an hour; at the expiration of which time he wouldreturn and reconduct her
to the house.
The old lady was very precise and very particular; and as thisceremony had been
observed for three successive summerswithout the slightest deviation from the accustomed
form,she was not a little surprised on this particular morning to seethe fat boy,
instead of leaving the arbour, walk a few paces outof it, look carefully round him
in every direction, and returntowards her with great stealth and an air of the most
The old lady was timorous--most old ladies are--and her firstimpression was that
the bloated lad was about to do her somegrievous bodily harm with the view of possessing
himself of herloose coin. She would have cried for assistance, but age andinfirmity
had long ago deprived her of the power of screaming;she, therefore, watched his
motions with feelings of intense horrorwhich were in no degree diminished by his
coming close up to her,and shouting in her ear in an agitated, and as it seemed
to her, athreatening tone--
Now it so happened that Mr. Jingle was walking in the gardenclose to the arbour
at that moment. He too heard the shouts of'Missus,' and stopped to hear more. There
were three reasons forhis doing so. In the first place, he was idle and curious;
secondly,he was by no means scrupulous; thirdly, and lastly, he wasconcealed from
view by some flowering shrubs. So there hestood, and there he listened.
'Missus!' shouted the fat boy.
'Well, Joe,' said the trembling old lady. 'I'm sure I have beena good mistress
to you, Joe. You have invariably been treatedvery kindly. You have never had too
much to do; and you havealways had enough to eat.'
This last was an appeal to the fat boy's most sensitive feelings.He seemed touched,
as he replied emphatically--'I knows I has.'
'Then what can you want to do now?' said the old lady,gaining courage.
'I wants to make your flesh creep,' replied the boy.
This sounded like a very bloodthirsty mode of showing one'sgratitude; and as
the old lady did not precisely understand theprocess by which such a result was
to be attained, all her formerhorrors returned.
'What do you think I see in this very arbour last night?'inquired the boy.
'Bless us! What?' exclaimed the old lady, alarmed at thesolemn manner of the
'The strange gentleman--him as had his arm hurt--a-kissin'and huggin'--'
'Who, Joe? None of the servants, I hope.''Worser than that,' roared the fat boy,
in the old lady's ear.
'Not one of my grandda'aters?'
'Worser than that.'
'Worse than that, Joe!' said the old lady, who had thought thisthe extreme limit
of human atrocity. 'Who was it, Joe? I insistupon knowing.'
The fat boy looked cautiously round, and having concludedhis survey, shouted
in the old lady's ear--
'What!' said the old lady, in a shrill tone. 'Speak louder.'
'Miss Rachael,' roared the fat boy.
The train of nods which the fat boy gave by way of assent,communicated a blanc-mange
like motion to his fat cheeks.
'And she suffered him!' exclaimed the old lady.A grin stole over the fat boy's
features as he said--
'I see her a-kissin' of him agin.'
If Mr. Jingle, from his place of concealment, could havebeheld the expression
which the old lady's face assumed at thiscommunication, the probability is that
a sudden burst oflaughter would have betrayed his close vicinity to the summer-house.
He listened attentively. Fragments of angry sentences suchas, 'Without my permission!'--'At
her time of life'--'Miserableold 'ooman like me'--'Might have waited till I was
dead,' and soforth, reached his ears; and then he heard the heels of the fatboy's
boots crunching the gravel, as he retired and left the oldlady alone.
It was a remarkable coincidence perhaps, but it was neverthelessa fact, that
Mr. Jingle within five minutes of his arrival at ManorFarm on the preceding night,
had inwardly resolved to lay siegeto the heart of the spinster aunt, without delay.
He had observationenough to see, that his off-hand manner was by no meansdisagreeable
to the fair object of his attack; and he had morethan a strong suspicion that she
possessed that most desirable ofall requisites, a small independence. The imperative
necessity ofousting his rival by some means or other, flashed quickly uponhim, and
he immediately resolved to adopt certain proceedingstending to that end and object,
without a moment's delay.Fielding tells us that man is fire, and woman tow, and
the Princeof Darkness sets a light to 'em. Mr. Jingle knew that young men,to spinster
aunts, are as lighted gas to gunpowder, and hedetermined to essay the effect of
an explosion without loss of time.
Full of reflections upon this important decision, he crept fromhis place of concealment,
and, under cover of the shrubs beforementioned, approached the house. Fortune seemed
determined tofavour his design. Mr. Tupman and the rest of the gentlemen leftthe
garden by the side gate just as he obtained a view of it; andthe young ladies, he
knew, had walked out alone, soon afterbreakfast. The coast was clear.
The breakfast-parlour door was partially open. He peeped in.The spinster aunt
was knitting. He coughed; she looked up andsmiled. Hesitation formed no part of
Mr. Alfred Jingle'scharacter. He laid his finger on his lips mysteriously, walked
in,and closed the door.
'Miss Wardle,' said Mr. Jingle, with affected earnestness,'forgive intrusion--short
acquaintance--no time for ceremony--all discovered.'
'Sir!' said the spinster aunt, rather astonished by the unexpectedapparition
and somewhat doubtful of Mr. Jingle's sanity.
'Hush!' said Mr. Jingle, in a stage-whisper--'Large boy--dumpling face--round
eyes--rascal!' Here he shook his headexpressively, and the spinster aunt trembled
'I presume you allude to Joseph, Sir?' said the lady, making aneffort to appear
'Yes, ma'am--damn that Joe!--treacherous dog, Joe--told theold lady--old lady
furious--wild--raving--arbour--Tupman--kissing and hugging--all that sort of thing--eh,
'Mr. Jingle,' said the spinster aunt, 'if you come here, Sir, toinsult me--'
'Not at all--by no means,' replied the unabashed Mr. Jingle--'overheard the tale--came
to warn you of your danger--tendermy services--prevent the hubbub. Never mind--think
it aninsult--leave the room'--and he turned, as if to carry the threatinto execution.
'What SHALL I do!' said the poor spinster, bursting into tears.'My brother will
'Of course he will,' said Mr. Jingle pausing--'outrageous.''Oh, Mr. Jingle, what
CAN I say!' exclaimed the spinster aunt, inanother flood of despair.
'Say he dreamt it,' replied Mr. Jingle coolly.
A ray of comfort darted across the mind of the spinster aunt atthis suggestion.
Mr. Jingle perceived it, and followed up his advantage.
'Pooh, pooh!--nothing more easy--blackguard boy--lovelywoman--fat boy horsewhipped--you
believed--end of thematter--all comfortable.'
Whether the probability of escaping from the consequences ofthis ill-timed discovery
was delightful to the spinster's feelings, orwhether the hearing herself described
as a 'lovely woman'softened the asperity of her grief, we know not. She blushedslightly,
and cast a grateful look on Mr. Jingle.
That insinuating gentleman sighed deeply, fixed his eyes on thespinster aunt's
face for a couple of minutes, started melodramatically,and suddenly withdrew them.
'You seem unhappy, Mr. Jingle,' said the lady, in a plaintivevoice. 'May I show
my gratitude for your kind interference,by inquiring into the cause, with a view,
if possible, to its removal?'
'Ha!' exclaimed Mr. Jingle, with another start--'removal!remove my unhappiness,
and your love bestowed upon a manwho is insensible to the blessing--who even now
contemplates adesign upon the affections of the niece of the creature who--butno;
he is my friend; I will not expose his vices. Miss Wardle--farewell!' At the conclusion
of this address, the most consecutivehe was ever known to utter, Mr. Jingle applied
to his eyes theremnant of a handkerchief before noticed, and turned towardsthe door.
'Stay, Mr. Jingle!' said the spinster aunt emphatically. 'Youhave made an allusion
to Mr. Tupman--explain it.'
'Never!' exclaimed Jingle, with a professional (i.e., theatrical)air. 'Never!'
and, by way of showing that he had no desire to bequestioned further, he drew a
chair close to that of the spinsteraunt and sat down.
'Mr. Jingle,' said the aunt, 'I entreat--I implore you, if thereis any dreadful
mystery connected with Mr. Tupman, reveal it.'
'Can I,' said Mr. Jingle, fixing his eyes on the aunt's face--'can I see--lovely
creature--sacrificed at the shrine--heartless avarice!' He appeared to be struggling
with variousconflicting emotions for a few seconds, and then said in a low voice--
'Tupman only wants your money.'
'The wretch!' exclaimed the spinster, with energetic indignation.(Mr. Jingle's
doubts were resolved. She HAD money.)
'More than that,' said Jingle--'loves another.'
'Another!' ejaculated the spinster. 'Who?''Short girl--black eyes--niece Emily.'
There was a pause.
Now, if there was one individual in the whole world, of whomthe spinster aunt
entertained a mortal and deep-rooted jealousy,it was this identical niece. The colour
rushed over her face andneck, and she tossed her head in silence with an air of
ineffablecontempt. At last, biting her thin lips, and bridling up, she said--
'It can't be. I won't believe it.'
'Watch 'em,' said Jingle.
'I will,' said the aunt.
'Watch his looks.'
'He'll sit next her at table.'
'He'll flatter her.'
'He'll pay her every possible attention.'