Charles Dickens >> The Pickwick Papers (page 53)

Mr. Weller, habited in his morning jacket, with the black calicosleeves, was returning in a rather desponding state from anunsuccessful survey of the mysterious house with the green gate,when, raising his eyes, he beheld a crowd pouring down thestreet, surrounding an object which had very much the appearanceof a sedan-chair. Willing to divert his thoughts from thefailure of his enterprise, he stepped aside to see the crowd pass;and finding that they were cheering away, very much to theirown satisfaction, forthwith began (by way of raising his spirits)to cheer too, with all his might and main.

Mr. Grummer passed, and Mr. Dubbley passed, and the sedanpassed, and the bodyguard of specials passed, and Sam was stillresponding to the enthusiastic cheers of the mob, and waving hishat about as if he were in the very last extreme of the wildest joy(though, of course, he had not the faintest idea of the matter inhand), when he was suddenly stopped by the unexpected appearanceof Mr. Winkle and Mr. Snodgrass.

'What's the row, gen'l'm'n?'cried Sam. 'Who have they got inthis here watch-box in mournin'?'

Both gentlemen replied together, but their words were lost inthe tumult.

'Who is it?' cried Sam again.

once more was a joint reply returned; and, though the wordswere inaudible, Sam saw by the motion of the two pairs of lipsthat they had uttered the magic word 'Pickwick.'

This was enough. In another minute Mr. Weller had made hisway through the crowd, stopped the chairmen, and confrontedthe portly Grummer.

'Hollo, old gen'l'm'n!' said Sam. 'Who have you got in thishere conweyance?'

'Stand back,' said Mr. Grummer, whose dignity, like thedignity of a great many other men, had been wondrouslyaugmented by a little popularity.

'Knock him down, if he don't,' said Mr. Dubbley.

'I'm wery much obliged to you, old gen'l'm'n,' replied Sam,'for consulting my conwenience, and I'm still more obliged to theother gen'l'm'n, who looks as if he'd just escaped from a giant'scarrywan, for his wery 'andsome suggestion; but I should preferyour givin' me a answer to my question, if it's all the same to you.--How are you, Sir?' This last observation was addressed with apatronising air to Mr. Pickwick, who was peeping through thefront window.

Mr. Grummer, perfectly speechless with indignation, draggedthe truncheon with the brass crown from its particular pocket,and flourished it before Sam's eyes.

'Ah,' said Sam, 'it's wery pretty, 'specially the crown, which isuncommon like the real one.'

'Stand back!' said the outraged Mr. Grummer. By way ofadding force to the command, he thrust the brass emblem ofroyalty into Sam's neckcloth with one hand, and seized Sam'scollar with the other--a compliment which Mr. Weller returnedby knocking him down out of hand, having previously with theutmost consideration, knocked down a chairman for him to lie upon.

Whether Mr. Winkle was seized with a temporary attack ofthat species of insanity which originates in a sense of injury, oranimated by this display of Mr. Weller's valour, is uncertain; butcertain it is, that he no sooner saw Mr. Grummer fall than hemade a terrific onslaught on a small boy who stood next him;whereupon Mr. Snodgrass, in a truly Christian spirit, and inorder that he might take no one unawares, announced in a veryloud tone that he was going to begin, and proceeded to take offhis coat with the utmost deliberation. He was immediatelysurrounded and secured; and it is but common justice both tohim and Mr. Winkle to say, that they did not make the slightestattempt to rescue either themselves or Mr. Weller; who, after amost vigorous resistance, was overpowered by numbers andtaken prisoner. The procession then reformed; the chairmenresumed their stations; and the march was re-commenced.

Mr. Pickwick's indignation during the whole of this proceedingwas beyond all bounds. He could just see Sam upsetting thespecials, and flying about in every direction; and that was all hecould see, for the sedan doors wouldn't open, and the blindswouldn't pull up. At length, with the assistance of Mr. Tupman,he managed to push open the roof; and mounting on the seat,and steadying himself as well as he could, by placing his hand onthat gentleman's shoulder, Mr. Pickwick proceeded to addressthe multitude; to dwell upon the unjustifiable manner in which hehad been treated; and to call upon them to take notice that hisservant had been first assaulted. In this order they reached themagistrate's house; the chairmen trotting, the prisoners following,Mr. Pickwick oratorising, and the crowd shouting.


Violent was Mr. Weller's indignation as he was borne along;numerous were the allusions to the personal appearance anddemeanour of Mr. Grummer and his companion; and valorous werethe defiances to any six of the gentlemen present, in which hevented his dissatisfaction. Mr. Snodgrass and Mr. Winkle listenedwith gloomy respect to the torrent of eloquence which their leaderpoured forth from the sedan-chair, and the rapid course of whichnot all Mr. Tupman's earnest entreaties to have the lid of thevehicle closed, were able to check for an instant. But Mr.Weller's anger quickly gave way to curiosity when the processionturned down the identical courtyard in which he had met with therunaway Job Trotter; and curiosity was exchanged for a feelingof the most gleeful astonishment, when the all-important Mr. Grummer,commanding the sedan-bearers to halt, advanced with dignified andportentous steps to the very green gate from which Job Trotterhad emerged, and gave a mighty pull at the bell-handle whichhung at the side thereof. The ring was answered by a very smartand pretty-faced servant-girl, who, after holding up her handsin astonishment at the rebellious appearance of the prisoners,and the impassioned language of Mr. Pickwick, summoned Mr.Muzzle. Mr. Muzzle opened one half of the carriage gate, toadmit the sedan, the captured ones, and the specials; andimmediately slammed it in the faces of the mob, who, indignant atbeing excluded, and anxious to see what followed, relieved theirfeelings by kicking at the gate and ringing the bell, for an hour ortwo afterwards. In this amusement they all took part by turns,except three or four fortunate individuals, who, having discovereda grating in the gate, which commanded a view of nothing, staredthrough it with the indefatigable perseverance with which peoplewill flatten their noses against the front windows of a chemist'sshop, when a drunken man, who has been run over by a dog-cart in the street, is undergoing a surgical inspection in theback-parlour.

At the foot of a flight of steps, leading to the house door, whichwas guarded on either side by an American aloe in a green tub,the sedan-chair stopped. Mr. Pickwick and his friends wereconducted into the hall, whence, having been previouslyannounced by Muzzle, and ordered in by Mr. Nupkins, they wereushered into the worshipful presence of that public-spirited officer.

The scene was an impressive one, well calculated to striketerror to the hearts of culprits, and to impress them with anadequate idea of the stern majesty of the law. In front of a bigbook-case, in a big chair, behind a big table, and before a bigvolume, sat Mr. Nupkins, looking a full size larger than any oneof them, big as they were. The table was adorned with piles ofpapers; and above the farther end of it, appeared the head andshoulders of Mr. Jinks, who was busily engaged in looking asbusy as possible. The party having all entered, Muzzle carefullyclosed the door, and placed himself behind his master's chair toawait his orders. Mr. Nupkins threw himself back with thrillingsolemnity, and scrutinised the faces of his unwilling visitors.

'Now, Grummer, who is that person?' said Mr. Nupkins,pointing to Mr. Pickwick, who, as the spokesman of his friends,stood hat in hand, bowing with the utmost politeness and respect.

'This here's Pickvick, your Wash-up,' said Grummer.

'Come, none o' that 'ere, old Strike-a-light,' interposed Mr.Weller, elbowing himself into the front rank. 'Beg your pardon,sir, but this here officer o' yourn in the gambooge tops, 'ull neverearn a decent livin' as a master o' the ceremonies any vere. Thishere, sir' continued Mr. Weller, thrusting Grummer aside, andaddressing the magistrate with pleasant familiarity, 'this here isS. Pickvick, Esquire; this here's Mr. Tupman; that 'ere's Mr.Snodgrass; and farder on, next him on the t'other side, Mr.Winkle--all wery nice gen'l'm'n, Sir, as you'll be wery happy tohave the acquaintance on; so the sooner you commits these hereofficers o' yourn to the tread--mill for a month or two, the soonerwe shall begin to be on a pleasant understanding. Business first,pleasure arterwards, as King Richard the Third said when hestabbed the t'other king in the Tower, afore he smothered the babbies.'

At the conclusion of this address, Mr. Weller brushed his hatwith his right elbow, and nodded benignly to Jinks, who hadheard him throughout with unspeakable awe.

'Who is this man, Grummer?' said the magistrate,.

'Wery desp'rate ch'racter, your Wash-up,' replied Grummer.'He attempted to rescue the prisoners, and assaulted the officers;so we took him into custody, and brought him here.'

'You did quite right,' replied the magistrate. 'He is evidently adesperate ruffian.'

'He is my servant, Sir,' said Mr. Pickwick angrily.

'Oh! he is your servant, is he?' said Mr. Nupkins. 'Aconspiracy to defeat the ends of justice, and murder its officers.Pickwick's servant. Put that down, Mr. Jinks.'

Mr. Jinks did so.

'What's your name, fellow?' thundered Mr. Nupkins.

'Veller,' replied Sam.

'A very good name for the Newgate Calendar,' said Mr. Nupkins.

This was a joke; so Jinks, Grummer, Dubbley, all the specials,and Muzzle, went into fits of laughter of five minutes' duration.

'Put down his name, Mr. Jinks,' said the magistrate.

'Two L's, old feller,' said Sam.

Here an unfortunate special laughed again, whereupon themagistrate threatened to commit him instantly. It is a dangerousthing to laugh at the wrong man, in these cases.

'Where do you live?' said the magistrate.

'Vere ever I can,' replied Sam.

'Put down that, Mr. Jinks,' said the magistrate, who was fastrising into a rage.

'Score it under,' said Sam.

'He is a vagabond, Mr. Jinks,' said the magistrate. 'He is avagabond on his own statement,-- is he not, Mr. Jinks?'

'Certainly, Sir.'

'Then I'll commit him--I'll commit him as such,' said Mr. Nupkins.

'This is a wery impartial country for justice, 'said Sam.'Thereain't a magistrate goin' as don't commit himself twice as hecommits other people.'

At this sally another special laughed, and then tried to look sosupernaturally solemn, that the magistrate detected him immediately.

'Grummer,' said Mr. Nupkins, reddening with passion, 'howdare you select such an inefficient and disreputable person for aspecial constable, as that man? How dare you do it, Sir?'

'I am very sorry, your Wash-up,' stammered Grummer.

'Very sorry!' said the furious magistrate. 'You shall repent ofthis neglect of duty, Mr. Grummer; you shall be made an exampleof. Take that fellow's staff away. He's drunk. You're drunk, fellow.'

'I am not drunk, your Worship,' said the man.

'You ARE drunk,' returned the magistrate. 'How dare you sayyou are not drunk, Sir, when I say you are? Doesn't he smell ofspirits, Grummer?'

'Horrid, your Wash-up,' replied Grummer, who had a vagueimpression that there was a smell of rum somewhere.

'I knew he did,' said Mr. Nupkins. 'I saw he was drunk whenhe first came into the room, by his excited eye. Did you observehis excited eye, Mr. Jinks?'

'Certainly, Sir.'

'I haven't touched a drop of spirits this morning,' said theman, who was as sober a fellow as need be.

'How dare you tell me a falsehood?' said Mr. Nupkins. 'Isn'the drunk at this moment, Mr. Jinks?'

'Certainly, Sir,' replied Jinks.

'Mr. Jinks,' said the magistrate, 'I shall commit that man forcontempt. Make out his committal, Mr. Jinks.'

And committed the special would have been, only Jinks, whowas the magistrate's adviser (having had a legal education ofthree years in a country attorney's office), whispered the magistratethat he thought it wouldn't do; so the magistrate made aspeech, and said, that in consideration of the special's family, hewould merely reprimand and discharge him. Accordingly, thespecial was abused, vehemently, for a quarter of an hour, andsent about his business; and Grummer, Dubbley, Muzzle, andall the other specials, murmured their admiration of the magnanimityof Mr. Nupkins.

'Now, Mr. Jinks,' said the magistrate, 'swear Grummer.'

Grummer was sworn directly; but as Grummer wandered, andMr. Nupkins's dinner was nearly ready, Mr. Nupkins cut thematter short, by putting leading questions to Grummer, whichGrummer answered as nearly in the affirmative as he could. Sothe examination went off, all very smooth and comfortable, andtwo assaults were proved against Mr. Weller, and a threat againstMr. Winkle, and a push against Mr. Snodgrass. When all thiswas done to the magistrate's satisfaction, the magistrate andMr. Jinks consulted in whispers.

The consultation having lasted about ten minutes, Mr. Jinksretired to his end of the table; and the magistrate, with apreparatory cough, drew himself up in his chair, and was proceedingto commence his address, when Mr. Pickwick interposed.

Title: The Pickwick Papers
Author: Charles Dickens
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