'Does Mr. Sawyer live here?' said Mr. Pickwick, when the doorwas opened.
'Yes,' said the girl, 'first floor. It's the door straight afore you,when you
gets to the top of the stairs.' Having given this instruction,the handmaid, who
had been brought up among theaboriginal inhabitants of Southwark, disappeared, with
thecandle in her hand, down the kitchen stairs, perfectly satisfiedthat she had
done everything that could possibly be required ofher under the circumstances.
Mr. Snodgrass, who entered last, secured the street door, afterseveral ineffectual
efforts, by putting up the chain; and thefriends stumbled upstairs, where they were
received by Mr. BobSawyer, who had been afraid to go down, lest he should bewaylaid
by Mrs. Raddle.
'How are you?' said the discomfited student. 'Glad to see you--take care of the
glasses.' This caution was addressed to Mr.Pickwick, who had put his hat in the
'Dear me,' said Mr. Pickwick, 'I beg your pardon.'
'Don't mention it, don't mention it,' said Bob Sawyer. 'I'mrather confined for
room here, but you must put up with all that,when you come to see a young bachelor.
Walk in. You've seenthis gentleman before, I think?' Mr. Pickwick shook hands withMr.
Benjamin Allen, and his friends followed his example. Theyhad scarcely taken their
seats when there was another double knock.
'I hope that's Jack Hopkins!' said Mr. Bob Sawyer. 'Hush.Yes, it is. Come up,
Jack; come up.'
A heavy footstep was heard upon the stairs, and Jack Hopkinspresented himself.
He wore a black velvet waistcoat, withthunder-and-lightning buttons; and a blue
striped shirt, with awhite false collar.
'You're late, Jack?' said Mr. Benjamin Allen.
'Been detained at Bartholomew's,' replied Hopkins.
'No, nothing particular. Rather a good accident brought intothe casualty ward.'
'What was that, sir?' inquired Mr. Pickwick.
'Only a man fallen out of a four pair of stairs' window; but it'sa very fair
'Do you mean that the patient is in a fair way to recover?'inquired Mr. Pickwick.'No,'
replied Mr. Hopkins carelessly. 'No, I should rather sayhe wouldn't. There must
be a splendid operation, though,to-morrow--magnificent sight if Slasher does it.'
'You consider Mr. Slasher a good operator?' said Mr. Pickwick.'Best alive,' replied
Hopkins. 'Took a boy's leg out of thesocket last week--boy ate five apples and a
gingerbread cake--exactly two minutes after it was all over, boy said he wouldn't
liethere to be made game of, and he'd tell his mother if they didn't begin.'
'Dear me!' said Mr. Pickwick, astonished.
'Pooh! That's nothing, that ain't,' said Jack Hopkins. 'Is it, Bob?'
'Nothing at all,' replied Mr. Bob Sawyer.
'By the bye, Bob,' said Hopkins, with a scarcely perceptibleglance at Mr. Pickwick's
attentive face, 'we had a curiousaccident last night. A child was brought in, who
had swallowed anecklace.'
'Swallowed what, Sir?' interrupted Mr. Pickwick.'A necklace,' replied Jack Hopkins.
'Not all at once, you know,that would be too much--you couldn't swallow that, if
the childdid--eh, Mr. Pickwick? ha, ha!' Mr. Hopkins appeared highlygratified with
his own pleasantry, and continued--'No, the waywas this. Child's parents were poor
people who lived in a court.Child's eldest sister bought a necklace--common necklace,
madeof large black wooden beads. Child being fond of toys, cribbedthe necklace,
hid it, played with it, cut the string, and swalloweda bead. Child thought it capital
fun, went back next day, andswallowed another bead.'
'Bless my heart,' said Mr. Pickwick, 'what a dreadful thing! Ibeg your pardon,
Sir. Go on.'
'Next day, child swallowed two beads; the day after that, hetreated himself to
three, and so on, till in a week's time he hadgot through the necklace--five-and-twenty
beads in all. Thesister, who was an industrious girl, and seldom treated herself
toa bit of finery, cried her eyes out, at the loss of the necklace;looked high and
low for it; but, I needn't say, didn't find it. Afew days afterwards, the family
were at dinner--baked shoulderof mutton, and potatoes under it--the child, who wasn't
hungry,was playing about the room, when suddenly there was heard adevil of a noise,
like a small hailstorm. "Don't do that, my boy,"said the father. "I ain't a-doin'
nothing," said the child. "Well,don't do it again," said the father. There was a
short silence, andthen the noise began again, worse than ever. "If you don't mindwhat
I say, my boy," said the father, "you'll find yourself in bed,in something less
than a pig's whisper." He gave the child ashake to make him obedient, and such a
rattling ensued asnobody ever heard before. "Why, damme, it's IN the child!" saidthe
father, "he's got the croup in the wrong place!" "No, Ihaven't, father," said the
child, beginning to cry, "it's the necklace;I swallowed it, father."--The father
caught the child up,and ran with him to the hospital; the beads in the boy's stomachrattling
all the way with the jolting; and the people looking up inthe air, and down in the
cellars, to see where the unusual soundcame from. He's in the hospital now,' said
Jack Hopkins, 'and hemakes such a devil of a noise when he walks about, that they'reobliged
to muffle him in a watchman's coat, for fear he shouldwake the patients.'
'That's the most extraordinary case I ever heard of,' saidMr. Pickwick, with
an emphatic blow on the table.
'Oh, that's nothing,' said Jack Hopkins. 'Is it, Bob?'
'Certainly not,' replied Bob Sawyer.
'Very singular things occur in our profession, I can assure you,Sir,' said Hopkins.
'So I should be disposed to imagine,' replied Mr. Pickwick.
Another knock at the door announced a large-headed youngman in a black wig, who
brought with him a scorbutic youth in along stock. The next comer was a gentleman
in a shirt emblazonedwith pink anchors, who was closely followed by a pale youth
witha plated watchguard. The arrival of a prim personage in cleanlinen and cloth
boots rendered the party complete. The littletable with the green baize cover was
wheeled out; the firstinstalment of punch was brought in, in a white jug; and thesucceeding
three hours were devoted to VINGT-ET-UN at sixpence adozen, which was only once
interrupted by a slight disputebetween the scorbutic youth and the gentleman with
the pinkanchors; in the course of which, the scorbutic youth intimated aburning
desire to pull the nose of the gentleman with the emblemsof hope; in reply to which,
that individual expressed his decidedunwillingness to accept of any 'sauce' on gratuitous
terms, eitherfrom the irascible young gentleman with the scorbutic countenance,or
any other person who was ornamented with a head.
When the last 'natural' had been declared, and the profit andloss account of
fish and sixpences adjusted, to the satisfaction ofall parties, Mr. Bob Sawyer rang
for supper, and the visitorssqueezed themselves into corners while it was getting
it was not so easily got ready as some people may imagine.First of all, it was
necessary to awaken the girl, who had fallenasleep with her face on the kitchen
table; this took a little time,and, even when she did answer the bell, another quarter
of anhour was consumed in fruitless endeavours to impart to her afaint and distant
glimmering of reason. The man to whom theorder for the oysters had been sent, had
not been told to openthem; it is a very difficult thing to open an oyster with a
limpknife and a two-pronged fork; and very little was done in thisway. Very little
of the beef was done either; and the ham (whichwas also from the German-sausage
shop round the corner) wasin a similar predicament. However, there was plenty of
porter ina tin can; and the cheese went a great way, for it was very strong.So upon
the whole, perhaps, the supper was quite as good as suchmatters usually are.
After supper, another jug of punch was put upon the table,together with a paper
of cigars, and a couple of bottles of spirits.Then there was an awful pause; and
this awful pause wasoccasioned by a very common occurrence in this sort of place,but
a very embarrassing one notwithstanding.
The fact is, the girl was washing the glasses. The establishmentboasted four:
we do not record the circumstance as at allderogatory to Mrs. Raddle, for there
never was a lodging-houseyet, that was not short of glasses. The landlady's glasses
werelittle, thin, blown-glass tumblers, and those which had beenborrowed from the
public-house were great, dropsical, bloatedarticles, each supported on a huge gouty
leg. This would havebeen in itself sufficient to have possessed the company with
thereal state of affairs; but the young woman of all work hadprevented the possibility
of any misconception arising in themind of any gentleman upon the subject, by forcibly
draggingevery man's glass away, long before he had finished his beer, andaudibly
stating, despite the winks and interruptions of Mr. BobSawyer, that it was to be
conveyed downstairs, and washed forthwith.
It is a very ill wind that blows nobody any good. The primman in the cloth boots,
who had been unsuccessfully attemptingto make a joke during the whole time the round
game lasted,saw his opportunity, and availed himself of it. The instant theglasses
disappeared, he commenced a long story about a greatpublic character, whose name
he had forgotten, making a particularlyhappy reply to another eminent and illustrious
individualwhom he had never been able to identify. He enlarged at somelength and
with great minuteness upon divers collateral circumstances,distantly connected with
the anecdote in hand, but forthe life of him he couldn't recollect at that precise
moment whatthe anecdote was, although he had been in the habit of telling thestory
with great applause for the last ten years.
'Dear me,' said the prim man in the cloth boots, 'it is a veryextraordinary circumstance.'
'I am sorry you have forgotten it,' said Mr. Bob Sawyer,glancing eagerly at the
door, as he thought he heard the noise ofglasses jingling; 'very sorry.'
'So am I,' responded the prim man, 'because I know it wouldhave afforded so much
amusement. Never mind; I dare say Ishall manage to recollect it, in the course of
half an hour or so.'
The prim man arrived at this point just as the glasses cameback, when Mr. Bob
Sawyer, who had been absorbed in attentionduring the whole time, said he should
very much like to hear theend of it, for, so far as it went, it was, without exception,
the verybest story he had ever heard.The sight of the tumblers restored Bob Sawyer
to a degree ofequanimity which he had not possessed since his interview with hislandlady.
His face brightened up, and he began to feel quite convivial.
'Now, Betsy,' said Mr. Bob Sawyer, with great suavity, anddispersing, at the
same time, the tumultuous little mob of glassesthe girl had collected in the centre
of the table--'now, Betsy, thewarm water; be brisk, there's a good girl.'
'You can't have no warm water,' replied Betsy.
'No warm water!' exclaimed Mr. Bob Sawyer.
'No,' said the girl, with a shake of the head which expressed amore decided negative
than the most copious language couldhave conveyed. 'Missis Raddle said you warn't
to have none.'
The surprise depicted on the countenances of his guestsimparted new courage to
'Bring up the warm water instantly--instantly!' said Mr. BobSawyer, with desperate
'No. I can't,' replied the girl; 'Missis Raddle raked out thekitchen fire afore
she went to bed, and locked up the kittle.'
'Oh, never mind; never mind. Pray don't disturb yourselfabout such a trifle,'
said Mr. Pickwick, observing the conflict ofBob Sawyer's passions, as depicted in
his countenance, 'coldwater will do very well.'
'Oh, admirably,' said Mr. Benjamin Allen.
'My landlady is subject to some slight attacks of mentalderangement,' remarked
Bob Sawyer, with a ghastly smile; 'I fearI must give her warning.'
'No, don't,' said Ben Allen.
'I fear I must,' said Bob, with heroic firmness. 'I'll pay herwhat I owe her,
and give her warning to-morrow morning.' Poorfellow! how devoutly he wished he could!
Mr. Bob Sawyer's heart-sickening attempts to rally under thislast blow, communicated
a dispiriting influence to the company,the greater part of whom, with the view of
raising their spirits,attached themselves with extra cordiality to the cold brandy-and-water,
the first perceptible effects of which were displayed in arenewal of hostilities
between the scorbutic youth and thegentleman in the shirt. The belligerents vented
their feelings ofmutual contempt, for some time, in a variety of frownings andsnortings,
until at last the scorbutic youth felt it necessary tocome to a more explicit understanding
on the matter; when thefollowing clear understanding took place.'Sawyer,' said the
scorbutic youth, in a loud voice.
'Well, Noddy,' replied Mr. Bob Sawyer.
'I should be very sorry, Sawyer,' said Mr. Noddy, 'to createany unpleasantness
at any friend's table, and much less at yours,Sawyer--very; but I must take this
opportunity of informingMr. Gunter that he is no gentleman.'
'And I should be very sorry, Sawyer, to create any disturbancein the street in
which you reside,' said Mr. Gunter, 'but I'mafraid I shall be under the necessity
of alarming the neighbours bythrowing the person who has just spoken, out o' window.'
'What do you mean by that, sir?' inquired Mr. Noddy.
'What I say, Sir,' replied Mr. Gunter.