'Count,' said Mrs. Leo Hunter.'Mrs. Hunt,' replied the count.
'This is Mr. Snodgrass, a friend of Mr. Pickwick's, and a poet.'
'Stop,' exclaimed the count, bringing out the tablets oncemore. 'Head, potry--chapter,
literary friends--name, Snowgrass;ver good. Introduced to Snowgrass--great poet,
friend of PeekWeeks--by Mrs. Hunt, which wrote other sweet poem--what isthat name?--Fog--Perspiring
Fog--ver good--ver goodindeed.' And the count put up his tablets, and with sundry
bowsand acknowledgments walked away, thoroughly satisfied that hehad made the most
important and valuable additions to his stockof information.
'Wonderful man, Count Smorltork,' said Mrs. Leo Hunter.
'Sound philosopher,' said Mr. Pott.
'Clear-headed, strong-minded person,' added Mr. Snodgrass.
A chorus of bystanders took up the shout of Count Smorltork'spraise, shook their
heads sagely, and unanimously cried, 'Very!'
As the enthusiasm in Count Smorltork's favour ran very high,his praises might
have been sung until the end of the festivities,if the four something-ean singers
had not ranged themselves infront of a small apple-tree, to look picturesque, and
commencedsinging their national songs, which appeared by no meansdifficult of execution,
inasmuch as the grand secret seemed to be,that three of the something-ean singers
should grunt, while thefourth howled. This interesting performance having concludedamidst
the loud plaudits of the whole company, a boy forthwithproceeded to entangle himself
with the rails of a chair, and tojump over it, and crawl under it, and fall down
with it, and doeverything but sit upon it, and then to make a cravat of his legs,and
tie them round his neck, and then to illustrate the ease withwhich a human being
can be made to look like a magnified toad--all which feats yielded high delight
and satisfaction to theassembled spectators. After which, the voice of Mrs. Pott
washeard to chirp faintly forth, something which courtesy interpretedinto a song,
which was all very classical, and strictly incharacter, because Apollo was himself
a composer, andcomposers can very seldom sing their own music or anybody else's,either.
This was succeeded by Mrs. Leo Hunter's recitation of herfar-famed 'Ode to an Expiring
Frog,' which was encored once,and would have been encored twice, if the major part
of theguests, who thought it was high time to get something to eat, hadnot said
that it was perfectly shameful to take advantage ofMrs. Hunter's good nature. So
although Mrs. Leo Hunterprofessed her perfect willingness to recite the ode again,
her kindand considerate friends wouldn't hear of it on any account; andthe refreshment
room being thrown open, all the people who hadever been there before, scrambled
in with all possible despatch--Mrs. Leo Hunter's usual course of proceedings being,
to issuecards for a hundred, and breakfast for fifty, or in other words tofeed only
the very particular lions, and let the smaller animalstake care of themselves.
'Where is Mr. Pott?' said Mrs. Leo Hunter, as she placed theaforesaid lions around
'Here I am,' said the editor, from the remotest end of theroom; far beyond all
hope of food, unless something was donefor him by the hostess.
'Won't you come up here?'
'Oh, pray don't mind him,' said Mrs. Pott, in the mostobliging voice--'you give
yourself a great deal of unnecessarytrouble, Mrs. Hunter. You'll do very well there,
'Certainly--love,' replied the unhappy Pott, with a grim smile.Alas for the knout!
The nervous arm that wielded it, with such agigantic force on public characters,
was paralysed beneath theglance of the imperious Mrs. Pott.
Mrs. Leo Hunter looked round her in triumph. Count Smorltorkwas busily engaged
in taking notes of the contents of thedishes; Mr. Tupman was doing the honours of
the lobster saladto several lionesses, with a degree of grace which no brigand everexhibited
before; Mr. Snodgrass having cut out the young gentlemanwho cut up the books for
the Eatanswill GAZETTE, wasengaged in an impassioned argument with the young lady
whodid the poetry; and Mr. Pickwick was making himself universallyagreeable. Nothing
seemed wanting to render the select circlecomplete, when Mr. Leo Hunter--whose department
on theseoccasions, was to stand about in doorways, and talk to the lessimportant
people--suddenly called out--'My dear; here's Mr. Charles Fitz-Marshall.'
'Oh dear,' said Mrs. Leo Hunter, 'how anxiously I have beenexpecting him. Pray
make room, to let Mr. Fitz-Marshall pass.Tell Mr. Fitz-Marshall, my dear, to come
up to me directly, tobe scolded for coming so late.'
'Coming, my dear ma'am,' cried a voice, 'as quick as I can--crowds of people--full
Mr. Pickwick's knife and fork fell from his hand. He staredacross the table at
Mr. Tupman, who had dropped his knife andfork, and was looking as if he were about
to sink into the groundwithout further notice.
'Ah!' cried the voice, as its owner pushed his way among thelast five-and-twenty
Turks, officers, cavaliers, and Charles theSeconds, that remained between him and
the table, 'regularmangle--Baker's patent--not a crease in my coat, after all thissqueezing--might
have "got up my linen" as I came along--ha! ha! not a bad idea, that--queer thing
to have it mangledwhen it's upon one, though--trying process--very.'
With these broken words, a young man dressed as a navalofficer made his way up
to the table, and presented to theastonished Pickwickians the identical form and
features of Mr.Alfred Jingle.The offender had barely time to take Mrs. Leo Hunter'sproffered
hand, when his eyes encountered the indignant orbs ofMr. Pickwick.
'Hollo!' said Jingle. 'Quite forgot--no directions to postillion--give 'em at
once--back in a minute.'
'The servant, or Mr. Hunter will do it in a moment, Mr.Fitz-Marshall,' said Mrs.
'No, no--I'll do it--shan't be long--back in no time,' repliedJingle. With these
words he disappeared among the crowd.
'Will you allow me to ask you, ma'am,' said the excited Mr.Pickwick, rising from
his seat, 'who that young man is, andwhere he resides?'
'He is a gentleman of fortune, Mr. Pickwick,' said Mrs. LeoHunter, 'to whom I
very much want to introduce you. The countwill be delighted with him.'
'Yes, yes,' said Mr. Pickwick hastily. 'His residence--'
'Is at present at the Angel at Bury.'
'At Bury St. Edmunds, not many miles from here. But dearme, Mr. Pickwick, you
are not going to leave us; surely Mr.Pickwick you cannot think of going so soon?'
But long before Mrs. Leo Hunter had finished speaking, Mr.Pickwick had plunged
through the throng, and reached thegarden, whither he was shortly afterwards joined
by Mr. Tupman,who had followed his friend closely.
'It's of no use,' said Mr. Tupman. 'He has gone.'
'I know it,' said Mr. Pickwick, 'and I will follow him.'
'Follow him! Where?' inquired Mr. Tupman.
'To the Angel at Bury,' replied Mr. Pickwick, speaking veryquickly. 'How do we
know whom he is deceiving there? Hedeceived a worthy man once, and we were the innocent
cause. Heshall not do it again, if I can help it; I'll expose him! Sam!Where's my
'Here you are, Sir,' said Mr. Weller, emerging from asequestered spot, where
he had been engaged in discussing abottle of Madeira, which he had abstracted from
the breakfast-table an hour or two before. 'Here's your servant, Sir. Proud o'the
title, as the living skellinton said, ven they show'd him.'
'Follow me instantly,' said Mr. Pickwick. 'Tupman, if I stay atBury, you can
join me there, when I write. Till then, good-bye!'
Remonstrances were useless. Mr. Pickwick was roused, and hismind was made up.
Mr. Tupman returned to his companions;and in another hour had drowned all present
recollection of Mr.Alfred Jingle, or Mr. Charles Fitz-Marshall, in an exhilaratingquadrille
and a bottle of champagne. By that time, Mr. Pickwickand Sam Weller, perched on
the outside of a stage-coach, wereevery succeeding minute placing a less and less
distance betweenthemselves and the good old town of Bury St. Edmunds.
CHAPTER XVITOO FULL OF ADVENTURE TO BE BRIEFLY DESCRIBED
There is no month in the whole year in which nature wears a morebeautiful appearance
than in the month of August. Spring has manybeauties, and May is a fresh and blooming
month, but the charmsof this time of year are enhanced by their contrast with thewinter
season. August has no such advantage. It comes when weremember nothing but clear
skies, green fields, and sweet-smellingflowers--when the recollection of snow, and
ice, and bleak winds,has faded from our minds as completely as they have disappearedfrom
the earth--and yet what a pleasant time it is! Orchards andcornfields ring with
the hum of labour; trees bend beneath thethick clusters of rich fruit which bow
their branches to theground; and the corn, piled in graceful sheaves, or waving
inevery light breath that sweeps above it, as if it wooed thesickle, tinges the
landscape with a golden hue. A mellow softnessappears to hang over the whole earth;
the influence of the seasonseems to extend itself to the very wagon, whose slow
motion acrossthe well-reaped field is perceptible only to the eye, but strikeswith
no harsh sound upon the ear.
As the coach rolls swiftly past the fields and orchards whichskirt the road,
groups of women and children, piling the fruit insieves, or gathering the scattered
ears of corn, pause for aninstant from their labour, and shading the sun-burned
face witha still browner hand, gaze upon the passengers with curious eyes,while
some stout urchin, too small to work, but too mischievousto be left at home, scrambles
over the side of the basket in whichhe has been deposited for security, and kicks
and screams withdelight. The reaper stops in his work, and stands with foldedarms,
looking at the vehicle as it whirls past; and the rough cart-horses bestow a sleepy
glance upon the smart coach team, whichsays as plainly as a horse's glance can,
'It's all very fine to lookat, but slow going, over a heavy field, is better than
warm worklike that, upon a dusty road, after all.' You cast a look behindyou, as
you turn a corner of the road. The women and childrenhave resumed their labour;
the reaper once more stoops to hiswork; the cart-horses have moved on; and all are
again in motion.The influence of a scene like this, was not lost upon the well-regulated
mind of Mr. Pickwick. Intent upon the resolution hehad formed, of exposing the real
character of the nefariousJingle, in any quarter in which he might be pursuing his
fraudulentdesigns, he sat at first taciturn and contemplative, broodingover the
means by which his purpose could be best attained. Bydegrees his attention grew
more and more attracted by theobjects around him; and at last he derived as much
enjoymentfrom the ride, as if it had been undertaken for the pleasantestreason in
'Delightful prospect, Sam,' said Mr. Pickwick.
'Beats the chimbley-pots, Sir,' replied Mr. Weller, touchinghis hat.
'I suppose you have hardly seen anything but chimney-potsand bricks and mortar
all your life, Sam,' said Mr. Pickwick, smiling.
'I worn't always a boots, sir,' said Mr. Weller, with a shake ofthe head. 'I
wos a vaginer's boy, once.'
'When was that?' inquired Mr. Pickwick.
'When I wos first pitched neck and crop into the world, to playat leap-frog with
its troubles,' replied Sam. 'I wos a carrier's boyat startin'; then a vaginer's,
then a helper, then a boots. Now I'ma gen'l'm'n's servant. I shall be a gen'l'm'n
myself one of thesedays, perhaps, with a pipe in my mouth, and a summer-house inthe
back-garden. Who knows? I shouldn't be surprised for one.'
'You are quite a philosopher, Sam,' said Mr. Pickwick.
'It runs in the family, I b'lieve, sir,' replied Mr. Weller. 'Myfather's wery
much in that line now. If my mother-in-law blowshim up, he whistles. She flies in
a passion, and breaks his pipe;he steps out, and gets another. Then she screams
wery loud, andfalls into 'sterics; and he smokes wery comfortably till she comesto
agin. That's philosophy, Sir, ain't it?'
'A very good substitute for it, at all events,' replied Mr.Pickwick, laughing.
'It must have been of great service to you, inthe course of your rambling life,
'Service, sir,' exclaimed Sam. 'You may say that. Arter I runaway from the carrier,
and afore I took up with the vaginer, I hadunfurnished lodgin's for a fortnight.'
'Unfurnished lodgings?' said Mr. Pickwick.
'Yes--the dry arches of Waterloo Bridge. Fine sleeping-place--vithin ten minutes'
walk of all the public offices--only if there isany objection to it, it is that
the sitivation's rayther too airy. I seesome queer sights there.''Ah, I suppose
you did,' said Mr. Pickwick, with an air ofconsiderable interest.
'Sights, sir,' resumed Mr. Weller, 'as 'ud penetrate yourbenevolent heart, and
come out on the other side. You don't seethe reg'lar wagrants there; trust 'em,
they knows better than that.Young beggars, male and female, as hasn't made a rise
in theirprofession, takes up their quarters there sometimes; but it'sgenerally the
worn-out, starving, houseless creeturs as rollthemselves in the dark corners o'
them lonesome places--poorcreeturs as ain't up to the twopenny rope.'
'And pray, Sam, what is the twopenny rope?' inquired Mr. Pickwick.
'The twopenny rope, sir,' replied Mr. Weller, 'is just a cheaplodgin' house,
where the beds is twopence a night.'
'What do they call a bed a rope for?' said Mr. Pickwick.
'Bless your innocence, sir, that ain't it,' replied Sam. 'Ven thelady and gen'l'm'n
as keeps the hot-el first begun business, theyused to make the beds on the floor;
but this wouldn't do at noprice, 'cos instead o' taking a moderate twopenn'orth
o' sleep,the lodgers used to lie there half the day. So now they has tworopes, 'bout
six foot apart, and three from the floor, which goesright down the room; and the
beds are made of slips of coarsesacking, stretched across 'em.'