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Charles Dickens >> The Pickwick Papers (page 34)


'Well,' said Mr. Pickwick.

'Well,' said Mr. Weller, 'the adwantage o' the plan's hobvious.At six o'clock every mornin' they let's go the ropes at one end,and down falls the lodgers. Consequence is, that being thoroughlywaked, they get up wery quietly, and walk away! Beg yourpardon, sir,' said Sam, suddenly breaking off in his loquaciousdiscourse. 'Is this Bury St. Edmunds?'

'It is,' replied Mr. Pickwick.

The coach rattled through the well-paved streets of a handsomelittle town, of thriving and cleanly appearance, and stoppedbefore a large inn situated in a wide open street, nearly facing theold abbey.

'And this,' said Mr. Pickwick, looking up. 'Is the Angel! Wealight here, Sam. But some caution is necessary. Order a privateroom, and do not mention my name. You understand.'

'Right as a trivet, sir,' replied Mr. Weller, with a wink ofintelligence; and having dragged Mr. Pickwick's portmanteaufrom the hind boot, into which it had been hastily thrown whenthey joined the coach at Eatanswill, Mr. Weller disappeared onhis errand. A private room was speedily engaged; and into itMr. Pickwick was ushered without delay.'Now, Sam,' said Mr. Pickwick, 'the first thing to be done isto--''Order dinner, Sir,' interposed Mr. Weller. 'It's wery late, sir."

'Ah, so it is,' said Mr. Pickwick, looking at his watch. 'You areright, Sam.'

'And if I might adwise, Sir,' added Mr. Weller, 'I'd just have agood night's rest arterwards, and not begin inquiring arter thishere deep 'un till the mornin'. There's nothin' so refreshen' assleep, sir, as the servant girl said afore she drank the egg-cupfulof laudanum.'

'I think you are right, Sam,' said Mr. Pickwick. 'But I mustfirst ascertain that he is in the house, and not likely to go away.'

'Leave that to me, Sir,' said Sam. 'Let me order you a snuglittle dinner, and make my inquiries below while it's a-gettingready; I could worm ev'ry secret out O' the boots's heart, in fiveminutes, Sir.''Do so,' said Mr. Pickwick; and Mr. Weller at once retired.

In half an hour, Mr. Pickwick was seated at a very satisfactorydinner; and in three-quarters Mr. Weller returned with theintelligence that Mr. Charles Fitz-Marshall had ordered hisprivate room to be retained for him, until further notice. He wasgoing to spend the evening at some private house in the neighbourhood,had ordered the boots to sit up until his return, andhad taken his servant with him.

'Now, sir,' argued Mr. Weller, when he had concluded hisreport, 'if I can get a talk with this here servant in the mornin',he'll tell me all his master's concerns.'

'How do you know that?' interposed Mr. Pickwick.

'Bless your heart, sir, servants always do,' replied Mr. Weller.

'Oh, ah, I forgot that,' said Mr. Pickwick. 'Well.'

'Then you can arrange what's best to be done, sir, and we canact accordingly.'

As it appeared that this was the best arrangement that couldbe made, it was finally agreed upon. Mr. Weller, by his master'spermission, retired to spend the evening in his own way; and wasshortly afterwards elected, by the unanimous voice of theassembled company, into the taproom chair, in which honourablepost he acquitted himself so much to the satisfaction of thegentlemen-frequenters, that their roars of laughter and approbationpenetrated to Mr. Pickwick's bedroom, and shortened theterm of his natural rest by at least three hours.

Early on the ensuing morning, Mr. Weller was dispelling allthe feverish remains of the previous evening's conviviality,through the instrumentality of a halfpenny shower-bath (havinginduced a young gentleman attached to the stable department, bythe offer of that coin, to pump over his head and face, until hewas perfectly restored), when he was attracted by the appearanceof a young fellow in mulberry-coloured livery, who was sitting ona bench in the yard, reading what appeared to be a hymn-book,with an air of deep abstraction, but who occasionally stole aglance at the individual under the pump, as if he took someinterest in his proceedings, nevertheless.

'You're a rum 'un to look at, you are!' thought Mr. Weller, thefirst time his eyes encountered the glance of the stranger in themulberry suit, who had a large, sallow, ugly face, very sunkeneyes, and a gigantic head, from which depended a quantity oflank black hair. 'You're a rum 'un!' thought Mr. Weller; andthinking this, he went on washing himself, and thought no moreabout him.

Still the man kept glancing from his hymn-book to Sam, andfrom Sam to his hymn-book, as if he wanted to open a conversation.So at last, Sam, by way of giving him an opportunity, saidwith a familiar nod--

'How are you, governor?'

'I am happy to say, I am pretty well, Sir,' said the man,speaking with great deliberation, and closing the book. 'I hopeyou are the same, Sir?'

'Why, if I felt less like a walking brandy-bottle I shouldn't bequite so staggery this mornin',' replied Sam. 'Are you stoppin' inthis house, old 'un?'

The mulberry man replied in the affirmative.

'How was it you worn't one of us, last night?' inquired Sam,scrubbing his face with the towel. 'You seem one of the jolly sort--looks as conwivial as a live trout in a lime basket,' added Mr.Weller, in an undertone.

'I was out last night with my master,' replied the stranger.

'What's his name?' inquired Mr. Weller, colouring up very redwith sudden excitement, and the friction of the towel combined.

'Fitz-Marshall,' said the mulberry man.

'Give us your hand,' said Mr. Weller, advancing; 'I should liketo know you. I like your appearance, old fellow.'

'Well, that is very strange,' said the mulberry man, with greatsimplicity of manner. 'I like yours so much, that I wanted tospeak to you, from the very first moment I saw you under the pump.''Did you though?'

'Upon my word. Now, isn't that curious?'

'Wery sing'ler,' said Sam, inwardly congratulating himselfupon the softness of the stranger. 'What's your name, my patriarch?'

'Job.'

'And a wery good name it is; only one I know that ain't got anickname to it. What's the other name?'

'Trotter,' said the stranger. 'What is yours?'

Sam bore in mind his master's caution, and replied--

'My name's Walker; my master's name's Wilkins. Will youtake a drop o' somethin' this mornin', Mr. Trotter?'

Mr. Trotter acquiesced in this agreeable proposal; and havingdeposited his book in his coat pocket, accompanied Mr. Wellerto the tap, where they were soon occupied in discussing anexhilarating compound, formed by mixing together, in a pewtervessel, certain quantities of British Hollands and the fragrantessence of the clove.

'And what sort of a place have you got?' inquired Sam, as hefilled his companion's glass, for the second time.

'Bad,' said Job, smacking his lips, 'very bad.'

'You don't mean that?' said Sam.

'I do, indeed. Worse than that, my master's going to be married.'

'No.'

'Yes; and worse than that, too, he's going to run away with animmense rich heiress, from boarding-school.'

'What a dragon!' said Sam, refilling his companion's glass.'It's some boarding-school in this town, I suppose, ain't it?'Now, although this question was put in the most careless toneimaginable, Mr. Job Trotter plainly showed by gestures that heperceived his new friend's anxiety to draw forth an answer to it.He emptied his glass, looked mysteriously at his companion,winked both of his small eyes, one after the other, and finallymade a motion with his arm, as if he were working an imaginarypump-handle; thereby intimating that he (Mr. Trotter) consideredhimself as undergoing the process of being pumped by Mr.Samuel Weller.

'No, no,' said Mr. Trotter, in conclusion, 'that's not to be toldto everybody. That is a secret--a great secret, Mr. Walker.'As the mulberry man said this, he turned his glass upsidedown, by way of reminding his companion that he had nothingleft wherewith to slake his thirst. Sam observed the hint; andfeeling the delicate manner in which it was conveyed, ordered thepewter vessel to be refilled, whereat the small eyes of the mulberryman glistened.

'And so it's a secret?' said Sam.

'I should rather suspect it was,' said the mulberry man,sipping his liquor, with a complacent face.

'i suppose your mas'r's wery rich?' said Sam.

Mr. Trotter smiled, and holding his glass in his left hand, gavefour distinct slaps on the pockets of his mulberry indescribableswith his right, as if to intimate that his master might have donethe same without alarming anybody much by the chinking of coin.

'Ah,' said Sam, 'that's the game, is it?'

The mulberry man nodded significantly.

'Well, and don't you think, old feller,' remonstrated Mr.Weller, 'that if you let your master take in this here young lady,you're a precious rascal?'

'I know that,' said Job Trotter, turning upon his companion acountenance of deep contrition, and groaning slightly, 'I knowthat, and that's what it is that preys upon my mind. But what amI to do?'

'Do!' said Sam; 'di-wulge to the missis, and give up your master.'

'Who'd believe me?' replied Job Trotter. 'The young lady'sconsidered the very picture of innocence and discretion. She'ddeny it, and so would my master. Who'd believe me? I should losemy place, and get indicted for a conspiracy, or some such thing;that's all I should take by my motion.'

'There's somethin' in that,' said Sam, ruminating; 'there'ssomethin' in that.'

'If I knew any respectable gentleman who would take thematter up,' continued Mr. Trotter. 'I might have some hope ofpreventing the elopement; but there's the same difficulty, Mr.Walker, just the same. I know no gentleman in this strange place;and ten to one if I did, whether he would believe my story.'

'Come this way,' said Sam, suddenly jumping up, and graspingthe mulberry man by the arm. 'My mas'r's the man you want, Isee.' And after a slight resistance on the part of Job Trotter, Samled his newly-found friend to the apartment of Mr. Pickwick, towhom he presented him, together with a brief summary of thedialogue we have just repeated.

'I am very sorry to betray my master, sir,' said Job Trotter,applying to his eyes a pink checked pocket-handkerchief aboutsix inches square.

'The feeling does you a great deal of honour,' replied Mr.Pickwick; 'but it is your duty, nevertheless.'

'I know it is my duty, Sir,' replied Job, with great emotion.'We should all try to discharge our duty, Sir, and I humblyendeavour to discharge mine, Sir; but it is a hard trial to betray amaster, Sir, whose clothes you wear, and whose bread you eat,even though he is a scoundrel, Sir.'

'You are a very good fellow,' said Mr. Pickwick, muchaffected; 'an honest fellow.'

'Come, come,' interposed Sam, who had witnessed Mr.Trotter's tears with considerable impatience, 'blow this 'erewater-cart bis'ness. It won't do no good, this won't.'

'Sam,' said Mr. Pickwick reproachfully. 'I am sorry to findthat you have so little respect for this young man's feelings.'

'His feelin's is all wery well, Sir,' replied Mr. Weller; 'and asthey're so wery fine, and it's a pity he should lose 'em, I thinkhe'd better keep 'em in his own buzzum, than let 'em ewaporatein hot water, 'specially as they do no good. Tears never yetwound up a clock, or worked a steam ingin'. The next time yougo out to a smoking party, young fellow, fill your pipe with that'ere reflection; and for the present just put that bit of pinkgingham into your pocket. 'Tain't so handsome that you needkeep waving it about, as if you was a tight-rope dancer.'

'My man is in the right,' said Mr. Pickwick, accosting Job,'although his mode of expressing his opinion is somewhathomely, and occasionally incomprehensible.'

'He is, sir, very right,' said Mr. Trotter, 'and I will give wayno longer.''Very well,' said Mr. Pickwick. 'Now, where is thisboarding-school?'

'It is a large, old, red brick house, just outside the town, Sir,'replied Job Trotter.

'And when,' said Mr. Pickwick--'when is this villainous designto be carried into execution--when is this elopement totake place?'

'To-night, Sir,' replied Job.

'To-night!' exclaimed Mr. Pickwick.'This very night, sir,' replied Job Trotter. 'That is what alarmsme so much.'

'Instant measures must be taken,' said Mr. Pickwick. 'I will seethe lady who keeps the establishment immediately.'

'I beg your pardon, Sir,' said Job, 'but that course of proceedingwill never do.'

'Why not?' inquired Mr. Pickwick.

'My master, sir, is a very artful man.'

'I know he is,' said Mr. Pickwick.

'And he has so wound himself round the old lady's heart, Sir,'resumed Job, 'that she would believe nothing to his prejudice, ifyou went down on your bare knees, and swore it; especially asyou have no proof but the word of a servant, who, for anythingshe knows (and my master would be sure to say so), was dischargedfor some fault, and does this in revenge.'

'What had better be done, then?' said Mr. Pickwick.

'Nothing but taking him in the very act of eloping, willconvince the old lady, sir,' replied Job.

Title: The Pickwick Papers
Author: Charles Dickens
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