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Charles Dickens >> The Pickwick Papers (page 56)


'I say,' said Mr. Pickwick, growing gradually angry, 'that Imight have taken a greater revenge, but I content myself withexposing you, which I consider a duty I owe to society. This is aleniency, Sir, which I hope you will remember.'

When Mr. Pickwick arrived at this point, Job Trotter, withfacetious gravity, applied his hand to his ear, as if desirous not tolose a syllable he uttered.

'And I have only to add, sir,' said Mr. Pickwick, now thoroughlyangry, 'that I consider you a rascal, and a--a--ruffian--and--and worse than any man I ever saw, or heard of, except thatpious and sanctified vagabond in the mulberry livery.'

'Ha! ha!' said Jingle, 'good fellow, Pickwick--fine heart--stout old boy--but must NOT be passionate--bad thing, very--bye, bye--see you again some day--keep up your spirits--now,Job--trot!'

With these words, Mr. Jingle stuck on his hat in his oldfashion, and strode out of the room. Job Trotter paused, lookedround, smiled and then with a bow of mock solemnity to Mr.Pickwick, and a wink to Mr. Weller, the audacious slyness of whichbaffles all description, followed the footsteps of his hopeful master.

'Sam,' said Mr. Pickwick, as Mr. Weller was following.

'Sir.''Stay here.'

Mr. Weller seemed uncertain.

'Stay here,' repeated Mr. Pickwick.

'Mayn't I polish that 'ere Job off, in the front garden?' saidMr. Weller.'Certainly not,' replied Mr. Pickwick.

'Mayn't I kick him out o' the gate, Sir?' said Mr. Weller.

'Not on any account,' replied his master.

For the first time since his engagement, Mr. Weller looked, fora moment, discontented and unhappy. But his countenanceimmediately cleared up; for the wily Mr. Muzzle, by concealinghimself behind the street door, and rushing violently out, at theright instant, contrived with great dexterity to overturn bothMr. Jingle and his attendant, down the flight of steps, into theAmerican aloe tubs that stood beneath.

'Having discharged my duty, Sir,' said Mr. Pickwick to Mr.Nupkins, 'I will, with my friends, bid you farewell. While wethank you for such hospitality as we have received, permit me toassure you, in our joint names, that we should not have acceptedit, or have consented to extricate ourselves in this way, from ourprevious dilemma, had we not been impelled by a strong sense ofduty. We return to London to-morrow. Your secret is safe with us.'

Having thus entered his protest against their treatment of themorning, Mr. Pickwick bowed low to the ladies, and notwithstandingthe solicitations of the family, left the room with his friends.

'Get your hat, Sam,' said Mr. Pickwick.

'It's below stairs, Sir,' said Sam, and he ran down after it.

Now, there was nobody in the kitchen, but the pretty housemaid;and as Sam's hat was mislaid, he had to look for it, andthe pretty housemaid lighted him. They had to look all overthe place for the hat. The pretty housemaid, in her anxiety tofind it, went down on her knees, and turned over all the thingsthat were heaped together in a little corner by the door. It wasan awkward corner. You couldn't get at it without shutting thedoor first.

'Here it is,' said the pretty housemaid. 'This is it, ain't it?'

'Let me look,' said Sam.

The pretty housemaid had stood the candle on the floor; and,as it gave a very dim light, Sam was obliged to go down on HISknees before he could see whether it really was his own hat or not.it was a remarkably small corner, and so--it was nobody's faultbut the man's who built the house--Sam and the pretty housemaidwere necessarily very close together.

'Yes, this is it,' said Sam. 'Good-bye!'

'Good-bye!' said the pretty housemaid.

'Good-bye!' said Sam; and as he said it, he dropped the hatthat had cost so much trouble in looking for.

'How awkward you are,' said the pretty housemaid. 'You'lllose it again, if you don't take care.'

So just to prevent his losing it again, she put it on for him.

Whether it was that the pretty housemaid's face lookedprettier still, when it was raised towards Sam's, or whether it wasthe accidental consequence of their being so near to each other, ismatter of uncertainty to this day; but Sam kissed her.

'You don't mean to say you did that on purpose,' said thepretty housemaid, blushing.

'No, I didn't then,' said Sam; 'but I will now.'

So he kissed her again.'Sam!' said Mr. Pickwick, calling over the banisters.

'Coming, Sir,' replied Sam, running upstairs.

'How long you have been!' said Mr. Pickwick.

'There was something behind the door, Sir, which perwentedour getting it open, for ever so long, Sir,' replied Sam.

And this was the first passage of Mr. Weller's first love.

CHAPTER XXVIWHICH CONTAINS A BRIEF ACCOUNT OF THE PROGRESSOF THE ACTION OF BARDELL AGAINST PICKWICK

Having accomplished the main end and object of his journey, by theexposure of Jingle, Mr. Pickwick resolved on immediately returningto London, with the view of becoming acquainted with the proceedingswhich had been taken against him, in the meantime, by Messrs.Dodson and Fogg. Acting upon this resolution with all the energyand decision of his character, he mounted to the back seat of thefirst coach which left Ipswich on the morning after the memorableoccurrences detailed at length in the two preceding chapters; andaccompanied by his three friends, and Mr. Samuel Weller, arrived inthe metropolis, in perfect health and safety, the same evening.

Here the friends, for a short time, separated. Messrs. Tupman,Winkle, and Snodgrass repaired to their several homes to makesuch preparations as might be requisite for their forthcomingvisit to Dingley Dell; and Mr. Pickwick and Sam took up theirpresent abode in very good, old-fashioned, and comfortablequarters, to wit, the George and Vulture Tavern and Hotel,George Yard, Lombard Street.

Mr. Pickwick had dined, finished his second pint of particularport, pulled his silk handkerchief over his head, put his feet onthe fender, and thrown himself back in an easy-chair, when theentrance of Mr. Weller with his carpet-bag, aroused him fromhis tranquil meditation.

'Sam,' said Mr. Pickwick.'Sir,' said Mr. Weller.

'I have just been thinking, Sam,' said Mr. Pickwick, 'thathaving left a good many things at Mrs. Bardell's, in GoswellStreet, I ought to arrange for taking them away, before I leavetown again.'

'Wery good, sir,' replied Mr. Weller.

'I could send them to Mr. Tupman's, for the present, Sam,'continued Mr. Pickwick, 'but before we take them away, it isnecessary that they should be looked up, and put together. Iwish you would step up to Goswell Street, Sam, and arrangeabout it.'

'At once, Sir?' inquired Mr. Weller.

'At once,' replied Mr. Pickwick. 'And stay, Sam,' added Mr.Pickwick, pulling out his purse, 'there is some rent to pay. Thequarter is not due till Christmas, but you may pay it, and havedone with it. A month's notice terminates my tenancy. Here it is,written out. Give it, and tell Mrs. Bardell she may put a bill up,as soon as she likes.'

'Wery good, sir,' replied Mr. Weller; 'anythin' more, sir?'

'Nothing more, Sam.'

Mr. Weller stepped slowly to the door, as if he expected somethingmore; slowly opened it, slowly stepped out, and had slowlyclosed it within a couple of inches, when Mr. Pickwick called out--

'Sam.'

'Yes, sir,' said Mr. Weller, stepping quickly back, and closingthe door behind him.'I have no objection, Sam, to your endeavouring to ascertainhow Mrs. Bardell herself seems disposed towards me, andwhether it is really probable that this vile and groundless actionis to be carried to extremity. I say I do not object to you doingthis, if you wish it, Sam,' said Mr. Pickwick.

Sam gave a short nod of intelligence, and left the room. Mr.Pickwick drew the silk handkerchief once more over his head,And composed himself for a nap. Mr. Weller promptly walkedforth, to execute his commission.

It was nearly nine o'clock when he reached Goswell Street. Acouple of candles were burning in the little front parlour, and acouple of caps were reflected on the window-blind. Mrs. Bardellhad got company.

Mr. Weller knocked at the door, and after a pretty longinterval--occupied by the party without, in whistling a tune, andby the party within, in persuading a refractory flat candle toallow itself to be lighted--a pair of small boots pattered over thefloor-cloth, and Master Bardell presented himself.

'Well, young townskip,' said Sam, 'how's mother?'

'She's pretty well,' replied Master Bardell, 'so am I.'

'Well, that's a mercy,' said Sam; 'tell her I want to speak toher, will you, my hinfant fernomenon?'

Master Bardell, thus adjured, placed the refractory flat candle onthe bottom stair, and vanished into the front parlour with his message.

The two caps, reflected on the window-blind, were the respectivehead-dresses of a couple of Mrs. Bardell's most particularacquaintance, who had just stepped in, to have a quiet cup of tea,and a little warm supper of a couple of sets of pettitoes and sometoasted cheese. The cheese was simmering and browning away,most delightfully, in a little Dutch oven before the fire; thepettitoes were getting on deliciously in a little tin saucepan on thehob; and Mrs. Bardell and her two friends were getting on verywell, also, in a little quiet conversation about and concerning alltheir particular friends and acquaintance; when Master Bardellcame back from answering the door, and delivered the messageintrusted to him by Mr. Samuel Weller.

'Mr. Pickwick's servant!' said Mrs. Bardell, turning pale.

'Bless my soul!' said Mrs. Cluppins.

'Well, I raly would not ha' believed it, unless I had ha' happenedto ha' been here!' said Mrs. Sanders.

Mrs. Cluppins was a little, brisk, busy-looking woman; Mrs.Sanders was a big, fat, heavy-faced personage; and the two werethe company.

Mrs. Bardell felt it proper to be agitated; and as none of thethree exactly knew whether under existing circumstances, anycommunication, otherwise than through Dodson & Fogg, oughtto be held with Mr. Pickwick's servant, they were all rather takenby surprise. In this state of indecision, obviously the first thingto be done, was to thump the boy for finding Mr. Weller at thedoor. So his mother thumped him, and he cried melodiously.

'Hold your noise--do--you naughty creetur!' said Mrs. Bardell.

'Yes; don't worrit your poor mother,' said Mrs. Sanders.

'She's quite enough to worrit her, as it is, without you, Tommy,'said Mrs. Cluppins, with sympathising resignation.

'Ah! worse luck, poor lamb!' said Mrs. Sanders.At all which moral reflections, Master Bardell howled the louder.

'Now, what shall I do?' said Mrs. Bardell to Mrs. Cluppins.

'I think you ought to see him,' replied Mrs. Cluppins. 'But onno account without a witness.'

'I think two witnesses would be more lawful,' said Mrs.Sanders, who, like the other friend, was bursting with curiosity.

'Perhaps he'd better come in here,' said Mrs. Bardell.

'To be sure,' replied Mrs. Cluppins, eagerly catching at theidea; 'walk in, young man; and shut the street door first, please.'

Mr. Weller immediately took the hint; and presenting himselfin the parlour, explained his business to Mrs. Bardell thus--

'Wery sorry to 'casion any personal inconwenience, ma'am, asthe housebreaker said to the old lady when he put her on the fire;but as me and my governor 's only jest come to town, and is jestgoing away agin, it can't be helped, you see.'

'Of course, the young man can't help the faults of his master,' saidMrs. Cluppins, much struck by Mr. Weller's appearance and conversation.

'Certainly not,' chimed in Mrs. Sanders, who, from certainwistful glances at the little tin saucepan, seemed to be engaged ina mental calculation of the probable extent of the pettitoes, in theevent of Sam's being asked to stop to supper.

'So all I've come about, is jest this here,' said Sam, disregardingthe interruption; 'first, to give my governor's notice--there it is.Secondly, to pay the rent--here it is. Thirdly, to say as all histhings is to be put together, and give to anybody as we sends for'em. Fourthly, that you may let the place as soon as you like--and that's all.'

'Whatever has happened,' said Mrs. Bardell, 'I always havesaid, and always will say, that in every respect but one, Mr.Pickwick has always behaved himself like a perfect gentleman.His money always as good as the bank--always.'

As Mrs. Bardell said this, she applied her handkerchief to hereyes, and went out of the room to get the receipt.

Sam well knew that he had only to remain quiet, and thewomen were sure to talk; so he looked alternately at the tinsaucepan, the toasted cheese, the wall, and the ceiling, inprofound silence.

'Poor dear!' said Mrs. Cluppins.

'Ah, poor thing!' replied Mrs. Sanders.Sam said nothing. He saw they were coming to the subject.

'I raly cannot contain myself,' said Mrs. Cluppins, 'when Ithink of such perjury. I don't wish to say anything to make youuncomfortable, young man, but your master's an old brute, andI wish I had him here to tell him so.''I wish you had,' said Sam.

'To see how dreadful she takes on, going moping about, andtaking no pleasure in nothing, except when her friends comes in,out of charity, to sit with her, and make her comfortable,'resumed Mrs. Cluppins, glancing at the tin saucepan and theDutch oven, 'it's shocking!'

'Barbareous,' said Mrs. Sanders.

Title: The Pickwick Papers
Author: Charles Dickens
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