'Well! Day after day, when school was over, and the pupilsgone, did Nathaniel
Pipkin sit himself down at the front window,and, while he feigned to be reading
a book, throw sidelong glancesover the way in search of the bright eyes of Maria
Lobbs; and hehadn't sat there many days, before the bright eyes appeared at anupper
window, apparently deeply engaged in reading too. Thiswas delightful, and gladdening
to the heart of Nathaniel Pipkin.It was something to sit there for hours together,
and look uponthat pretty face when the eyes were cast down; but when MariaLobbs
began to raise her eyes from her book, and dart their raysin the direction of Nathaniel
Pipkin, his delight and admirationwere perfectly boundless. At last, one day when
he knew oldLobbs was out, Nathaniel Pipkin had the temerity to kiss his handto Maria
Lobbs; and Maria Lobbs, instead of shutting thewindow, and pulling down the blind,
kissed HERS to him, andsmiled. Upon which Nathaniel Pipkin determined, that, comewhat
might, he would develop the state of his feelings, withoutfurther delay.
'A prettier foot, a gayer heart, a more dimpled face, or asmarter form, never
bounded so lightly over the earth theygraced, as did those of Maria Lobbs, the old
saddler's daughter.There was a roguish twinkle in her sparkling eyes, that wouldhave
made its way to far less susceptible bosoms than that ofNathaniel Pipkin; and there
was such a joyous sound in hermerry laugh, that the sternest misanthrope must have
smiled tohear it. Even old Lobbs himself, in the very height of his ferocity,couldn't
resist the coaxing of his pretty daughter; and when she,and her cousin Kate--an
arch, impudent-looking, bewitchinglittle person--made a dead set upon the old man
together, as, tosay the truth, they very often did, he could have refused themnothing,
even had they asked for a portion of the countless andinexhaustible treasures, which
were hidden from the light, in theiron safe.
'Nathaniel Pipkin's heart beat high within him, when he sawthis enticing little
couple some hundred yards before him onesummer's evening, in the very field in which
he had many a timestrolled about till night-time, and pondered on the beauty ofMaria
Lobbs. But though he had often thought then, how brisklyhe would walk up to Maria
Lobbs and tell her of his passion if hecould only meet her, he felt, now that she
was unexpectedlybefore him, all the blood in his body mounting to his face,manifestly
to the great detriment of his legs, which, deprived oftheir usual portion, trembled
beneath him. When they stopped togather a hedge flower, or listen to a bird, Nathaniel
Pipkinstopped too, and pretended to be absorbed in meditation, asindeed he really
was; for he was thinking what on earth he shouldever do, when they turned back,
as they inevitably must in time,and meet him face to face. But though he was afraid
to make upto them, he couldn't bear to lose sight of them; so when theywalked faster
he walked faster, when they lingered he lingered,and when they stopped he stopped;
and so they might have goneon, until the darkness prevented them, if Kate had not
lookedslyly back, and encouragingly beckoned Nathaniel to advance.There was something
in Kate's manner that was not to beresisted, and so Nathaniel Pipkin complied with
the invitation;and after a great deal of blushing on his part, and immoderatelaughter
on that of the wicked little cousin, Nathaniel Pipkinwent down on his knees on the
dewy grass, and declared hisresolution to remain there for ever, unless he were
permitted torise the accepted lover of Maria Lobbs. Upon this, the merrylaughter
of Miss Lobbs rang through the calm evening air--without seeming to disturb it,
though; it had such a pleasantsound--and the wicked little cousin laughed more immoderatelythan
before, and Nathaniel Pipkin blushed deeper than ever. Atlength, Maria Lobbs being
more strenuously urged by the love-worn little man, turned away her head, and whispered
her cousinto say, or at all events Kate did say, that she felt much honouredby Mr.
Pipkin's addresses; that her hand and heart were at herfather's disposal; but that
nobody could be insensible to Mr.Pipkin's merits. As all this was said with much
gravity, and asNathaniel Pipkin walked home with Maria Lobbs, and struggledfor a
kiss at parting, he went to bed a happy man, and dreamedall night long, of softening
old Lobbs, opening the strong box,and marrying Maria.
The next day, Nathaniel Pipkin saw old Lobbs go out uponhis old gray pony, and
after a great many signs at the windowfrom the wicked little cousin, the object
and meaning of which hecould by no means understand, the bony apprentice with the
thinlegs came over to say that his master wasn't coming home allnight, and that
the ladies expected Mr. Pipkin to tea, at sixo'clock precisely. How the lessons
were got through that day,neither Nathaniel Pipkin nor his pupils knew any more
than youdo; but they were got through somehow, and, after the boys hadgone, Nathaniel
Pipkin took till full six o'clock to dress himselfto his satisfaction. Not that
it took long to select the garments heshould wear, inasmuch as he had no choice
about the matter;but the putting of them on to the best advantage, and the touchingof
them up previously, was a task of no inconsiderable difficultyor importance.
'There was a very snug little party, consisting of Maria Lobbsand her cousin
Kate, and three or four romping, good-humoured,rosy-cheeked girls. Nathaniel Pipkin
had ocular demonstration ofthe fact, that the rumours of old Lobbs's treasures were
notexaggerated. There were the real solid silver teapot, cream-ewer,and sugar-basin,
on the table, and real silver spoons to stir thetea with, and real china cups to
drink it out of, and plates of thesame, to hold the cakes and toast in. The only
eye-sore in thewhole place was another cousin of Maria Lobbs's, and a brotherof
Kate, whom Maria Lobbs called "Henry," and who seemedto keep Maria Lobbs all to
himself, up in one corner of the table.It's a delightful thing to see affection
in families, but it may becarried rather too far, and Nathaniel Pipkin could not
helpthinking that Maria Lobbs must be very particularly fond of herrelations, if
she paid as much attention to all of them as to thisindividual cousin. After tea,
too, when the wicked little cousinproposed a game at blind man's buff, it somehow
or otherhappened that Nathaniel Pipkin was nearly always blind, andwhenever he laid
his hand upon the male cousin, he was sure tofind that Maria Lobbs was not far off.
And though the wickedlittle cousin and the other girls pinched him, and pulled his
hair,and pushed chairs in his way, and all sorts of things, Maria Lobbsnever seemed
to come near him at all; and once--once--NathanielPipkin could have sworn he heard
the sound of a kiss,followed by a faint remonstrance from Maria Lobbs, and a half-suppressed
laugh from her female friends. All this was odd--very odd--and there is no saying
what Nathaniel Pipkin mightor might not have done, in consequence, if his thoughts
had notbeen suddenly directed into a new channel.
'The circumstance which directed his thoughts into a newchannel was a loud knocking
at the street door, and the personwho made this loud knocking at the street door
was no otherthan old Lobbs himself, who had unexpectedly returned, andwas hammering
away, like a coffin-maker; for he wanted hissupper. The alarming intelligence was
no sooner communicatedby the bony apprentice with the thin legs, than the girls
trippedupstairs to Maria Lobbs's bedroom, and the male cousin andNathaniel Pipkin
were thrust into a couple of closets in thesitting-room, for want of any better
places of concealment; andwhen Maria Lobbs and the wicked little cousin had stowed
themaway, and put the room to rights, they opened the street door toold Lobbs, who
had never left off knocking since he first began.
'Now it did unfortunately happen that old Lobbs being veryhungry was monstrous
cross. Nathaniel Pipkin could hear himgrowling away like an old mastiff with a sore
throat; and wheneverthe unfortunate apprentice with the thin legs came into theroom,
so surely did old Lobbs commence swearing at him in amost Saracenic and ferocious
manner, though apparently withno other end or object than that of easing his bosom
by thedischarge of a few superfluous oaths. At length some supper,which had been
warming up, was placed on the table, and thenold Lobbs fell to, in regular style;
and having made clear work ofit in no time, kissed his daughter, and demanded his
'Nature had placed Nathaniel Pipkin's knees in very closejuxtaposition, but when
he heard old Lobbs demand his pipe,they knocked together, as if they were going
to reduce each otherto powder; for, depending from a couple of hooks, in the verycloset
in which he stood, was a large, brown-stemmed, silver-bowled pipe, which pipe he
himself had seen in the mouth of oldLobbs, regularly every afternoon and evening,
for the last fiveyears. The two girls went downstairs for the pipe, and upstairs
forthe pipe, and everywhere but where they knew the pipe was, andold Lobbs stormed
away meanwhile, in the most wonderfulmanner. At last he thought of the closet, and
walked up to it. Itwas of no use a little man like Nathaniel Pipkin pulling thedoor
inwards, when a great strong fellow like old Lobbs waspulling it outwards. Old Lobbs
gave it one tug, and open it flew,disclosing Nathaniel Pipkin standing bolt upright
inside, andshaking with apprehension from head to foot. Bless us! what anappalling
look old Lobbs gave him, as he dragged him out by thecollar, and held him at arm's
'"Why, what the devil do you want here?" said old Lobbs, ina fearful voice.
'Nathaniel Pipkin could make no reply, so old Lobbs shookhim backwards and forwards,
for two or three minutes, by wayof arranging his ideas for him.
'"What do you want here?" roared Lobbs; "I suppose youhave come after my daughter,
'Old Lobbs merely said this as a sneer: for he did not believethat mortal presumption
could have carried Nathaniel Pipkin sofar. What was his indignation, when that poor
man replied--'"Yes, I did, Mr. Lobbs, I did come after your daughter. Ilove her,
'"Why, you snivelling, wry-faced, puny villain," gasped oldLobbs, paralysed by
the atrocious confession; "what do youmean by that? Say this to my face! Damme,
I'll throttle you!"
'It is by no means improbable that old Lobbs would havecarried his threat into
execution, in the excess of his rage, if hisarm had not been stayed by a very unexpected
apparition: to wit,the male cousin, who, stepping out of his closet, and walking
upto old Lobbs, said--
'"I cannot allow this harmless person, Sir, who has been askedhere, in some girlish
frolic, to take upon himself, in a very noblemanner, the fault (if fault it is)
which I am guilty of, and amready to avow. I love your daughter, sir; and I came
here for thepurpose of meeting her."
'Old Lobbs opened his eyes very wide at this, but not widerthan Nathaniel Pipkin.
'"You did?" said Lobbs, at last finding breath to speak.
'"And I forbade you this house, long ago."
'"You did, or I should not have been here, clandestinely,to-night."
'I am sorry to record it of old Lobbs, but I think he wouldhave struck the cousin,
if his pretty daughter, with her bright eyesswimming in tears, had not clung to
'"Don't stop him, Maria," said the young man; "if he has thewill to strike me,
let him. I would not hurt a hair of his gray head,for the riches of the world."
'The old man cast down his eyes at this reproof, and they metthose of his daughter.
I have hinted once or twice before, thatthey were very bright eyes, and, though
they were tearful now,their influence was by no means lessened. Old Lobbs turnedhis
head away, as if to avoid being persuaded by them,when, as fortune would have it,
he encountered the face ofthe wicked little cousin, who, half afraid for her brother,
andhalf laughing at Nathaniel Pipkin, presented as bewitching anexpression of countenance,
with a touch of slyness in it, too, asany man, old or young, need look upon. She
drew her arm coaxinglythrough the old man's, and whispered something in hisear;
and do what he would, old Lobbs couldn't help breakingout into a smile, while a
tear stole down his cheek at the same time.'Five minutes after this, the girls were
brought down from thebedroom with a great deal of giggling and modesty; and whilethe
young people were making themselves perfectly happy, oldLobbs got down the pipe,
and smoked it; and it was a remarkablecircumstance about that particular pipe of
tobacco, that it wasthe most soothing and delightful one he ever smoked.
'Nathaniel Pipkin thought it best to keep his own counsel, andby so doing gradually
rose into high favour with old Lobbs. whotaught him to smoke in time; and they used
to sit out in thegarden on the fine evenings, for many years afterwards, smokingand
drinking in great state. He soon recovered the effects of hisattachment, for we
find his name in the parish register, as awitness to the marriage of Maria Lobbs
to her cousin; and it alsoappears, by reference to other documents, that on the
night of thewedding he was incarcerated in the village cage, for having, in astate
of extreme intoxication, committed sundry excesses in thestreets, in all of which
he was aided and abetted by the bonyapprentice with the thin legs.'
CHAPTER XVIIIBRIEFLY ILLUSTRATIVE OF TWO POINTS; FIRST, THEPOWER OF HYSTERICS,
AND, SECONDLY, THE FORCE OFCIRCUMSTANCEs
For two days after the DEJEUNE at Mrs. Hunter's, the Pickwickiansremained at
Eatanswill, anxiously awaiting the arrival of someintelligence from their revered
leader. Mr. Tupman and Mr.Snodgrass were once again left to their own means of amusement;for
Mr. Winkle, in compliance with a most pressing invitation,continued to reside at
Mr. Pott's house, and to devote his timeto the companionship of his amiable lady.
Nor was the occasionalsociety of Mr. Pott himself wanting to complete their felicity.Deeply
immersed in the intensity of his speculations for thepublic weal and the destruction
of the INDEPENDENT, it was not thehabit of that great man to descend from his mental
pinnacle tothe humble level of ordinary minds. On this occasion, however,and as
if expressly in compliment to any follower of Mr.Pickwick's, he unbent, relaxed,
stepped down from his pedestal,and walked upon the ground, benignly adapting his
remarks to thecomprehension of the herd, and seeming in outward form, if not inspirit,
to be one of them.