That gentleman was fast asleep; the restoration was soon made.The stranger was
extremely jocose; and Mr. Tracy Tupman,being quite bewildered with wine, negus,
lights, and ladies,thought the whole affair was an exquisite joke. His new frienddeparted;
and, after experiencing some slight difficulty in findingthe orifice in his nightcap,
originally intended for the reception ofhis head, and finally overturning his candlestick
in his struggles toput it on, Mr. Tracy Tupman managed to get into bed by a seriesof
complicated evolutions, and shortly afterwards sank into repose.
Seven o'clock had hardly ceased striking on the followingmorning, when Mr. Pickwick's
comprehensive mind was arousedfrom the state of unconsciousness, in which slumber
had plungedit, by a loud knocking at his chamber door.'Who's there?' said Mr. Pickwick,
starting up in bed.
'What do you want?'
'Please, sir, can you tell me which gentleman of your partywears a bright blue
dress-coat, with a gilt button with "P. C."on it?'
'It's been given out to brush,' thought Mr. Pickwick, 'and theman has forgotten
whom it belongs to.' 'Mr. Winkle,'he calledout, 'next room but two, on the right
hand.''Thank'ee, sir,' said the Boots, and away he went.
'What's the matter?' cried Mr. Tupman, as a loud knocking athis door roused hint
from his oblivious repose.
'Can I speak to Mr. Winkle, sir?' replied Boots from the outside.
'Winkle--Winkle!' shouted Mr. Tupman, calling into theinner room.'Hollo!' replied
a faint voice from within the bed-clothes.
'You're wanted--some one at the door;' and, having exertedhimself to articulate
thus much, Mr. Tracy Tupman turnedround and fell fast asleep again.
'Wanted!' said Mr. Winkle, hastily jumping out of bed, andputting on a few articles
of clothing; 'wanted! at this distancefrom town--who on earth can want me?'
'Gentleman in the coffee-room, sir,' replied the Boots, asMr. Winkle opened the
door and confronted him; 'gentlemansays he'll not detain you a moment, Sir, but
he can take no denial.'
'Very odd!' said Mr. Winkle; 'I'll be down directly.'
He hurriedly wrapped himself in a travelling-shawl anddressing-gown, and proceeded
downstairs. An old woman and acouple of waiters were cleaning the coffee-room, and
an officer inundress uniform was looking out of the window. He turnedround as Mr.
Winkle entered, and made a stiff inclination of thehead. Having ordered the attendants
to retire, and closed thedoor very carefully, he said, 'Mr. Winkle, I presume?'
'My name is Winkle, sir.'
'You will not be surprised, sir, when I inform you that I havecalled here this
morning on behalf of my friend, Doctor Slammer,of the 97th.'
'Doctor Slammer!' said Mr. Winkle.
'Doctor Slammer. He begged me to express his opinion thatyour conduct of last
evening was of a description which nogentleman could endure; and' (he added) 'which
no one gentlemanwould pursue towards another.'
Mr. Winkle's astonishment was too real, and too evident, toescape the observation
of Doctor Slammer's friend; he thereforeproceeded--'My friend, Doctor Slammer, requested
me to add,that he was firmly persuaded you were intoxicated during aportion of the
evening, and possibly unconscious of the extent ofthe insult you were guilty of.
He commissioned me to say, thatshould this be pleaded as an excuse for your behaviour,
he willconsent to accept a written apology, to be penned by you, frommy dictation.'
'A written apology!' repeated Mr. Winkle, in the mostemphatic tone of amazement
'Of course you know the alternative,' replied the visitor coolly.
'Were you intrusted with this message to me by name?'inquired Mr. Winkle, whose
intellects were hopelessly confusedby this extraordinary conversation.
'I was not present myself,' replied the visitor, 'and in consequenceof your firm
refusal to give your card to Doctor Slammer,I was desired by that gentleman to identify
the wearer of a veryuncommon coat--a bright blue dress-coat, with a gilt buttondisplaying
a bust, and the letters "P. C."'
Mr. Winkle actually staggered with astonishment as he heardhis own costume thus
minutely described. Doctor Slammer'sfriend proceeded:--'From the inquiries I made
at the bar, justnow, I was convinced that the owner of the coat in questionarrived
here, with three gentlemen, yesterday afternoon. Iimmediately sent up to the gentleman
who was described asappearing the head of the party, and he at once referred me
If the principal tower of Rochester Castle had suddenly walkedfrom its foundation,
and stationed itself opposite the coffee-roomwindow, Mr. Winkle's surprise would
have been as nothingcompared with the profound astonishment with which he hadheard
this address. His first impression was that his coat had beenstolen. 'Will you allow
me to detain you one moment?' said he.
'Certainly,' replied the unwelcome visitor.
Mr. Winkle ran hastily upstairs, and with a trembling handopened the bag. There
was the coat in its usual place, butexhibiting, on a close inspection, evident tokens
of having beenworn on the preceding night.
'It must be so,' said Mr. Winkle, letting the coat fall from hishands. 'I took
too much wine after dinner, and have a very vaguerecollection of walking about the
streets, and smoking a cigarafterwards. The fact is, I was very drunk;--I must have
changedmy coat--gone somewhere--and insulted somebody--I have nodoubt of it; and
this message is the terrible consequence.' Sayingwhich, Mr. Winkle retraced his
steps in the direction of thecoffee-room, with the gloomy and dreadful resolve of
acceptingthe challenge of the warlike Doctor Slammer, and abiding by theworst consequences
that might ensue.
To this determination Mr. Winkle was urged by a variety ofconsiderations, the
first of which was his reputation with theclub. He had always been looked up to
as a high authority on allmatters of amusement and dexterity, whether offensive,
defensive,or inoffensive; and if, on this very first occasion of being putto the
test, he shrunk back from the trial, beneath his leader's eye,his name and standing
were lost for ever. Besides, he rememberedto have heard it frequently surmised by
the uninitiated in suchmatters that by an understood arrangement between the seconds,the
pistols were seldom loaded with ball; and, furthermore, hereflected that if he applied
to Mr. Snodgrass to act as his second,and depicted the danger in glowing terms,
that gentleman mightpossibly communicate the intelligence to Mr. Pickwick, whowould
certainly lose no time in transmitting it to the localauthorities, and thus prevent
the killing or maiming of his follower.
Such were his thoughts when he returned to the coffee-room,and intimated his
intention of accepting the doctor's challenge.
'Will you refer me to a friend, to arrange the time and place ofmeeting?' said
'Quite unnecessary,' replied Mr. Winkle; 'name them to me,and I can procure the
attendance of a friend afterwards.'
'Shall we say--sunset this evening?' inquired the officer, in acareless tone.
'Very good,' replied Mr. Winkle, thinking in his heart it wasvery bad.
'You know Fort Pitt?'
'Yes; I saw it yesterday.'
'If you will take the trouble to turn into the field which bordersthe trench,
take the foot-path to the left when you arrive at anangle of the fortification,
and keep straight on, till you see me, Iwill precede you to a secluded place, where
the affair can beconducted without fear of interruption.'
'Fear of interruption!' thought Mr. Winkle.
'Nothing more to arrange, I think,' said the officer.
'I am not aware of anything more,' replied Mr. Winkle.'Good-morning.'
'Good-morning;' and the officer whistled a lively air as hestrode away.
That morning's breakfast passed heavily off. Mr. Tupman wasnot in a condition
to rise, after the unwonted dissipation of theprevious night; Mr. Snodgrass appeared
to labour under apoetical depression of spirits; and even Mr. Pickwick evinced anunusual
attachment to silence and soda-water. Mr. Winkleeagerly watched his opportunity:
it was not long wanting. Mr.Snodgrass proposed a visit to the castle, and as Mr.
Winkle wasthe only other member of the party disposed to walk, they wentout together.'Snodgrass,'
said Mr. Winkle, when they had turned out of thepublic street. 'Snodgrass, my dear
fellow, can I rely upon yoursecrecy?' As he said this, he most devoutly and earnestly
hopedhe could not.
'You can,' replied Mr. Snodgrass. 'Hear me swear--'
'No, no,' interrupted Winkle, terrified at the idea of hiscompanion's unconsciously
pledging himself not to give information;'don't swear, don't swear; it's quite unnecessary.'
Mr. Snodgrass dropped the hand which he had, in the spirit ofpoesy, raised towards
the clouds as he made the above appeal,and assumed an attitude of attention.
'I want your assistance, my dear fellow, in an affair ofhonour,' said Mr. Winkle.
'You shall have it,' replied Mr. Snodgrass, clasping his friend's hand.
'With a doctor--Doctor Slammer, of the 97th,' said Mr.Winkle, wishing to make
the matter appear as solemn as possible;'an affair with an officer, seconded by
another officer, at sunsetthis evening, in a lonely field beyond Fort Pitt.'
'I will attend you,' said Mr. Snodgrass.
He was astonished, but by no means dismayed. It is extraordinaryhow cool any
party but the principal can be in such cases. Mr. Winklehad forgotten this. He had
judged of his friend's feelings by his own.
'The consequences may be dreadful,' said Mr. Winkle.
'I hope not,' said Mr. Snodgrass.
'The doctor, I believe, is a very good shot,' said Mr. Winkle.
'Most of these military men are,' observed Mr. Snodgrasscalmly; 'but so are you,
ain't you?'Mr. Winkle replied in the affirmative; and perceiving that hehad not
alarmed his companion sufficiently, changed his ground.
'Snodgrass,' he said, in a voice tremulous with emotion, 'if Ifall, you will
find in a packet which I shall place in your hands anote for my-- for my father.'
This attack was a failure also. Mr. Snodgrass was affected, buthe undertook the
delivery of the note as readily as if he had beena twopenny postman.
'If I fall,' said Mr. Winkle, 'or if the doctor falls, you, my dearfriend, will
be tried as an accessory before the fact. Shall Iinvolve my friend in transportation--possibly
for life!'Mr. Snodgrass winced a little at this, but his heroism wasinvincible.
'In the cause of friendship,' he fervently exclaimed, 'Iwould brave all dangers.'
How Mr. Winkle cursed his companion's devoted friendshipinternally, as they walked
silently along, side by side, for someminutes, each immersed in his own meditations!
The morningwas wearing away; he grew desperate.
'Snodgrass,' he said, stopping suddenly, 'do not let me bebalked in this matter--do
not give information to the localauthorities--do not obtain the assistance of several
peaceofficers, to take either me or Doctor Slammer, of the 97thRegiment, at present
quartered in Chatham Barracks, intocustody, and thus prevent this duel!--I say,
Mr. Snodgrass seized his friend's hand warmly, as heenthusiastically replied,
'Not for worlds!'
A thrill passed over Mr. Winkle's frame as the conviction thathe had nothing
to hope from his friend's fears, and that he wasdestined to become an animated target,
rushed forcibly upon him.
The state of the case having been formally explained to Mr.Snodgrass, and a case
of satisfactory pistols, with the satisfactoryaccompaniments of powder, ball, and
caps, having been hiredfrom a manufacturer in Rochester, the two friends returned
totheir inn; Mr. Winkle to ruminate on the approaching struggle,and Mr. Snodgrass
to arrange the weapons of war, and put theminto proper order for immediate use.
it was a dull and heavy evening when they again sallied forthon their awkward
errand. Mr. Winkle was muffled up in a hugecloak to escape observation, and Mr.
Snodgrass bore under histhe instruments of destruction.
'Have you got everything?' said Mr. Winkle, in an agitated tone.
'Everything,' replied Mr. Snodgrass; 'plenty of ammunition, incase the shots
don't take effect. There's a quarter of a pound ofpowder in the case, and I have
got two newspapers in my pocketfor the loadings.'
These were instances of friendship for which any man mightreasonably feel most
grateful. The presumption is, that thegratitude of Mr. Winkle was too powerful for
utterance, as hesaid nothing, but continued to walk on--rather slowly.
'We are in excellent time,' said Mr. Snodgrass, as they climbedthe fence of the
first field;'the sun is just going down.' Mr. Winklelooked up at the declining orb
and painfully thought of theprobability of his 'going down' himself, before long.
'There's the officer,' exclaimed Mr. Winkle, after a few minutes walking.'Where?'
said Mr. Snodgrass.
'There--the gentleman in the blue cloak.' Mr. Snodgrasslooked in the direction
indicated by the forefinger of his friend,and observed a figure, muffled up, as
he had described. Theofficer evinced his consciousness of their presence by slightlybeckoning
with his hand; and the two friends followed him at alittle distance, as he walked
The evening grew more dull every moment, and a melancholywind sounded through
the deserted fields, like a distant giantwhistling for his house-dog. The sadness
of the scene imparted asombre tinge to the feelings of Mr. Winkle. He started as
theypassed the angle of the trench--it looked like a colossal grave.
The officer turned suddenly from the path, and after climbing apaling, and scaling
a hedge, entered a secluded field. Two gentlemenwere waiting in it; one was a little,
fat man, with black hair;and the other--a portly personage in a braided surtout--wassitting
with perfect equanimity on a camp-stool.