Part 6 out of 20
'This is Mr. Snodgrass, a friend of Mr. Pickwick's, and a poet.'
'Stop,' exclaimed the count, bringing out the tablets once
more. 'Head, potry--chapter, literary friends--name, Snowgrass;
ver good. Introduced to Snowgrass--great poet, friend of Peek
Weeks--by Mrs. Hunt, which wrote other sweet poem--what is
that name?--Fog--Perspiring Fog--ver good--ver good
indeed.' And the count put up his tablets, and with sundry bows
and acknowledgments walked away, thoroughly satisfied that he
had made the most important and valuable additions to his stock
'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's
praise, 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 in
front of a small apple-tree, to look picturesque, and commenced
singing their national songs, which appeared by no means
difficult of execution, inasmuch as the grand secret seemed to be,
that three of the something-ean singers should grunt, while the
fourth howled. This interesting performance having concluded
amidst the loud plaudits of the whole company, a boy forthwith
proceeded to entangle himself with the rails of a chair, and to
jump over it, and crawl under it, and fall down with it, and do
everything 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 with
which a human being can be made to look like a magnified toad
--all which feats yielded high delight and satisfaction to the
assembled spectators. After which, the voice of Mrs. Pott was
heard to chirp faintly forth, something which courtesy interpreted
into a song, which was all very classical, and strictly in
character, because Apollo was himself a composer, and
composers can very seldom sing their own music or anybody else's,
either. This was succeeded by Mrs. Leo Hunter's recitation of her
far-famed 'Ode to an Expiring Frog,' which was encored once,
and would have been encored twice, if the major part of the
guests, who thought it was high time to get something to eat, had
not said that it was perfectly shameful to take advantage of
Mrs. Hunter's good nature. So although Mrs. Leo Hunter
professed her perfect willingness to recite the ode again, her kind
and considerate friends wouldn't hear of it on any account; and
the refreshment room being thrown open, all the people who had
ever been there before, scrambled in with all possible despatch--
Mrs. Leo Hunter's usual course of proceedings being, to issue
cards for a hundred, and breakfast for fifty, or in other words to
feed only the very particular lions, and let the smaller animals
take care of themselves.
'Where is Mr. Pott?' said Mrs. Leo Hunter, as she placed the
aforesaid lions around her.
'Here I am,' said the editor, from the remotest end of the
room; far beyond all hope of food, unless something was done
for him by the hostess.
'Won't you come up here?'
'Oh, pray don't mind him,' said Mrs. Pott, in the most
obliging voice--'you give yourself a great deal of unnecessary
trouble, Mrs. Hunter. You'll do very well there, won't you--dear?'
'Certainly--love,' replied the unhappy Pott, with a grim smile.
Alas for the knout! The nervous arm that wielded it, with such a
gigantic force on public characters, was paralysed beneath the
glance of the imperious Mrs. Pott.
Mrs. Leo Hunter looked round her in triumph. Count Smorltork
was busily engaged in taking notes of the contents of the
dishes; Mr. Tupman was doing the honours of the lobster salad
to several lionesses, with a degree of grace which no brigand ever
exhibited before; Mr. Snodgrass having cut out the young gentleman
who cut up the books for the Eatanswill GAZETTE, was
engaged in an impassioned argument with the young lady who
did the poetry; and Mr. Pickwick was making himself universally
agreeable. Nothing seemed wanting to render the select circle
complete, when Mr. Leo Hunter--whose department on these
occasions, was to stand about in doorways, and talk to the less
important people--suddenly called out--
'My dear; here's Mr. Charles Fitz-Marshall.'
'Oh dear,' said Mrs. Leo Hunter, 'how anxiously I have been
expecting him. Pray make room, to let Mr. Fitz-Marshall pass.
Tell Mr. Fitz-Marshall, my dear, to come up to me directly, to
be scolded for coming so late.'
'Coming, my dear ma'am,' cried a voice, 'as quick as I can--
crowds of people--full room--hard work--very.'
Mr. Pickwick's knife and fork fell from his hand. He stared
across the table at Mr. Tupman, who had dropped his knife and
fork, and was looking as if he were about to sink into the ground
without further notice.
'Ah!' cried the voice, as its owner pushed his way among the
last five-and-twenty Turks, officers, cavaliers, and Charles the
Seconds, that remained between him and the table, 'regular
mangle--Baker's patent--not a crease in my coat, after all this
squeezing--might have "got up my linen" as I came along--
ha! ha! not a bad idea, that--queer thing to have it mangled
when it's upon one, though--trying process--very.'
With these broken words, a young man dressed as a naval
officer made his way up to the table, and presented to the
astonished Pickwickians the identical form and features of Mr.
The offender had barely time to take Mrs. Leo Hunter's
proffered hand, when his eyes encountered the indignant orbs of
'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. Leo Hunter.
'No, no--I'll do it--shan't be long--back in no time,' replied
Jingle. 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, and
where he resides?'
'He is a gentleman of fortune, Mr. Pickwick,' said Mrs. Leo
Hunter, 'to whom I very much want to introduce you. The count
will 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 dear
me, 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 the
garden, 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 very
quickly. 'How do we know whom he is deceiving there? He
deceived a worthy man once, and we were the innocent cause. He
shall not do it again, if I can help it; I'll expose him! Sam!
Where's my servant?'
'Here you are, Sir,' said Mr. Weller, emerging from a
sequestered spot, where he had been engaged in discussing a
bottle 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 at
Bury, you can join me there, when I write. Till then, good-bye!'
Remonstrances were useless. Mr. Pickwick was roused, and his
mind 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 exhilarating
quadrille and a bottle of champagne. By that time, Mr. Pickwick
and Sam Weller, perched on the outside of a stage-coach, were
every succeeding minute placing a less and less distance between
themselves and the good old town of Bury St. Edmunds.
TOO FULL OF ADVENTURE TO BE BRIEFLY DESCRIBED
There is no month in the whole year in which nature wears a more
beautiful appearance than in the month of August. Spring has many
beauties, and May is a fresh and blooming month, but the charms
of this time of year are enhanced by their contrast with the
winter season. August has no such advantage. It comes when we
remember nothing but clear skies, green fields, and sweet-smelling
flowers--when the recollection of snow, and ice, and bleak winds,
has faded from our minds as completely as they have disappeared
from the earth--and yet what a pleasant time it is! Orchards and
cornfields ring with the hum of labour; trees bend beneath the
thick clusters of rich fruit which bow their branches to the
ground; and the corn, piled in graceful sheaves, or waving in
every light breath that sweeps above it, as if it wooed the
sickle, tinges the landscape with a golden hue. A mellow softness
appears to hang over the whole earth; the influence of the season
seems to extend itself to the very wagon, whose slow motion across
the well-reaped field is perceptible only to the eye, but strikes
with no harsh sound upon the ear.
As the coach rolls swiftly past the fields and orchards which
skirt the road, groups of women and children, piling the fruit in
sieves, or gathering the scattered ears of corn, pause for an
instant from their labour, and shading the sun-burned face with
a still browner hand, gaze upon the passengers with curious eyes,
while some stout urchin, too small to work, but too mischievous
to be left at home, scrambles over the side of the basket in which
he has been deposited for security, and kicks and screams with
delight. The reaper stops in his work, and stands with folded
arms, looking at the vehicle as it whirls past; and the rough cart-
horses bestow a sleepy glance upon the smart coach team, which
says as plainly as a horse's glance can, 'It's all very fine to look
at, but slow going, over a heavy field, is better than warm work
like that, upon a dusty road, after all.' You cast a look behind
you, as you turn a corner of the road. The women and children
have resumed their labour; the reaper once more stoops to his
work; 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 he
had formed, of exposing the real character of the nefarious
Jingle, in any quarter in which he might be pursuing his fraudulent
designs, he sat at first taciturn and contemplative, brooding
over the means by which his purpose could be best attained. By
degrees his attention grew more and more attracted by the
objects around him; and at last he derived as much enjoyment
from the ride, as if it had been undertaken for the pleasantest
reason in the world.
'Delightful prospect, Sam,' said Mr. Pickwick.
'Beats the chimbley-pots, Sir,' replied Mr. Weller, touching
'I suppose you have hardly seen anything but chimney-pots
and bricks and mortar all your life, Sam,' said Mr. Pickwick, smiling.
'I worn't always a boots, sir,' said Mr. Weller, with a shake of
the 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 play
at leap-frog with its troubles,' replied Sam. 'I wos a carrier's boy
at startin'; then a vaginer's, then a helper, then a boots. Now I'm
a gen'l'm'n's servant. I shall be a gen'l'm'n myself one of these
days, perhaps, with a pipe in my mouth, and a summer-house in
the 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. 'My
father's wery much in that line now. If my mother-in-law blows
him up, he whistles. She flies in a passion, and breaks his pipe;
he steps out, and gets another. Then she screams wery loud, and
falls into 'sterics; and he smokes wery comfortably till she comes
to 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, in
the course of your rambling life, Sam.'
'Service, sir,' exclaimed Sam. 'You may say that. Arter I run
away from the carrier, and afore I took up with the vaginer, I had
unfurnished 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 is
any objection to it, it is that the sitivation's rayther too airy. I see
some queer sights there.'
'Ah, I suppose you did,' said Mr. Pickwick, with an air of
'Sights, sir,' resumed Mr. Weller, 'as 'ud penetrate your
benevolent heart, and come out on the other side. You don't see
the reg'lar wagrants there; trust 'em, they knows better than that.
Young beggars, male and female, as hasn't made a rise in their
profession, takes up their quarters there sometimes; but it's
generally the worn-out, starving, houseless creeturs as roll
themselves in the dark corners o' them lonesome places--poor
creeturs 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 cheap
lodgin' 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 the
lady and gen'l'm'n as keeps the hot-el first begun business, they
used to make the beds on the floor; but this wouldn't do at no
price, 'cos instead o' taking a moderate twopenn'orth o' sleep,
the lodgers used to lie there half the day. So now they has two
ropes, 'bout six foot apart, and three from the floor, which goes
right down the room; and the beds are made of slips of coarse
sacking, stretched across 'em.'
'Well,' said Mr. Pickwick.
'Well,' said Mr. Weller, 'the adwantage o' the plan's hobvious.
At six o'clock every mornin' they let's go the ropes at one end,
and down falls the lodgers. Consequence is, that being thoroughly
waked, they get up wery quietly, and walk away! Beg your
pardon, sir,' said Sam, suddenly breaking off in his loquacious
discourse. 'Is this Bury St. Edmunds?'
'It is,' replied Mr. Pickwick.
The coach rattled through the well-paved streets of a handsome
little town, of thriving and cleanly appearance, and stopped
before a large inn situated in a wide open street, nearly facing the
'And this,' said Mr. Pickwick, looking up. 'Is the Angel! We
alight here, Sam. But some caution is necessary. Order a private
room, and do not mention my name. You understand.'
'Right as a trivet, sir,' replied Mr. Weller, with a wink of
intelligence; and having dragged Mr. Pickwick's portmanteau
from the hind boot, into which it had been hastily thrown when
they joined the coach at Eatanswill, Mr. Weller disappeared on
his errand. A private room was speedily engaged; and into it
Mr. Pickwick was ushered without delay.
'Now, Sam,' said Mr. Pickwick, 'the first thing to be done is
'Order dinner, Sir,' interposed Mr. Weller. 'It's wery late, sir."
'Ah, so it is,' said Mr. Pickwick, looking at his watch. 'You are
'And if I might adwise, Sir,' added Mr. Weller, 'I'd just have a
good night's rest arterwards, and not begin inquiring arter this
here deep 'un till the mornin'. There's nothin' so refreshen' as
sleep, sir, as the servant girl said afore she drank the egg-cupful
'I think you are right, Sam,' said Mr. Pickwick. 'But I must
first ascertain that he is in the house, and not likely to go away.'
'Leave that to me, Sir,' said Sam. 'Let me order you a snug
little dinner, and make my inquiries below while it's a-getting
ready; I could worm ev'ry secret out O' the boots's heart, in five
'Do so,' said Mr. Pickwick; and Mr. Weller at once retired.
In half an hour, Mr. Pickwick was seated at a very satisfactory
dinner; and in three-quarters Mr. Weller returned with the
intelligence that Mr. Charles Fitz-Marshall had ordered his
private room to be retained for him, until further notice. He was
going to spend the evening at some private house in the neighbourhood,
had ordered the boots to sit up until his return, and
had taken his servant with him.
'Now, sir,' argued Mr. Weller, when he had concluded his
report, 'if I can get a talk with this here servant in the mornin',
he'll tell me all his master's concerns.'
'How do you know that?' interposed Mr. Pickwick.
'Bless your heart, sir, servants always do,' replied Mr. Weller.
'Oh, ah, I forgot that,' said Mr. Pickwick. 'Well.'
'Then you can arrange what's best to be done, sir, and we can
As it appeared that this was the best arrangement that could
be made, it was finally agreed upon. Mr. Weller, by his master's
permission, retired to spend the evening in his own way; and was
shortly afterwards elected, by the unanimous voice of the
assembled company, into the taproom chair, in which honourable
post he acquitted himself so much to the satisfaction of the
gentlemen-frequenters, that their roars of laughter and approbation
penetrated to Mr. Pickwick's bedroom, and shortened the
term of his natural rest by at least three hours.
Early on the ensuing morning, Mr. Weller was dispelling all
the feverish remains of the previous evening's conviviality,
through the instrumentality of a halfpenny shower-bath (having
induced a young gentleman attached to the stable department, by
the offer of that coin, to pump over his head and face, until he
was perfectly restored), when he was attracted by the appearance
of a young fellow in mulberry-coloured livery, who was sitting on
a bench in the yard, reading what appeared to be a hymn-book,
with an air of deep abstraction, but who occasionally stole a
glance at the individual under the pump, as if he took some
interest in his proceedings, nevertheless.
'You're a rum 'un to look at, you are!' thought Mr. Weller, the
first time his eyes encountered the glance of the stranger in the
mulberry suit, who had a large, sallow, ugly face, very sunken
eyes, and a gigantic head, from which depended a quantity of
lank black hair. 'You're a rum 'un!' thought Mr. Weller; and
thinking this, he went on washing himself, and thought no more
Still the man kept glancing from his hymn-book to Sam, and
from Sam to his hymn-book, as if he wanted to open a conversation.
So at last, Sam, by way of giving him an opportunity, said
with a familiar nod--
'How are you, governor?'
'I am happy to say, I am pretty well, Sir,' said the man,
speaking with great deliberation, and closing the book. 'I hope
you are the same, Sir?'
'Why, if I felt less like a walking brandy-bottle I shouldn't be
quite so staggery this mornin',' replied Sam. 'Are you stoppin' in
this house, old 'un?'
The mulberry man replied in the affirmative.
'How was it you worn't one of us, last night?' inquired Sam,
scrubbing his face with the towel. 'You seem one of the jolly sort
--looks as conwivial as a live trout in a lime basket,' added Mr.
Weller, in an undertone.
'I was out last night with my master,' replied the stranger.
'What's his name?' inquired Mr. Weller, colouring up very red
with sudden excitement, and the friction of the towel combined.
'Fitz-Marshall,' said the mulberry man.
'Give us your hand,' said Mr. Weller, advancing; 'I should like
to know you. I like your appearance, old fellow.'
'Well, that is very strange,' said the mulberry man, with great
simplicity of manner. 'I like yours so much, that I wanted to
speak to you, from the very first moment I saw you under the pump.'
'Did you though?'
'Upon my word. Now, isn't that curious?'
'Wery sing'ler,' said Sam, inwardly congratulating himself
upon the softness of the stranger. 'What's your name, my patriarch?'
'And a wery good name it is; only one I know that ain't got a
nickname to it. What's the other name?'
'Trotter,' said the stranger. 'What is yours?'
Sam bore in mind his master's caution, and replied--
'My name's Walker; my master's name's Wilkins. Will you
take a drop o' somethin' this mornin', Mr. Trotter?'
Mr. Trotter acquiesced in this agreeable proposal; and having
deposited his book in his coat pocket, accompanied Mr. Weller
to the tap, where they were soon occupied in discussing an
exhilarating compound, formed by mixing together, in a pewter
vessel, certain quantities of British Hollands and the fragrant
essence of the clove.
'And what sort of a place have you got?' inquired Sam, as he
filled his companion's glass, for the second time.
'Bad,' said Job, smacking his lips, 'very bad.'
'You don't mean that?' said Sam.
'I do, indeed. Worse than that, my master's going to be married.'
'Yes; and worse than that, too, he's going to run away with an
immense rich heiress, from boarding-school.'
'What a dragon!' said Sam, refilling his companion's glass.
'It's some boarding-school in this town, I suppose, ain't it?'
Now, although this question was put in the most careless tone
imaginable, Mr. Job Trotter plainly showed by gestures that he
perceived his new friend's anxiety to draw forth an answer to it.
He emptied his glass, looked mysteriously at his companion,
winked both of his small eyes, one after the other, and finally
made a motion with his arm, as if he were working an imaginary
pump-handle; thereby intimating that he (Mr. Trotter) considered
himself as undergoing the process of being pumped by Mr.
'No, no,' said Mr. Trotter, in conclusion, 'that's not to be told
to everybody. That is a secret--a great secret, Mr. Walker.'
As the mulberry man said this, he turned his glass upside
down, by way of reminding his companion that he had nothing
left wherewith to slake his thirst. Sam observed the hint; and
feeling the delicate manner in which it was conveyed, ordered the
pewter vessel to be refilled, whereat the small eyes of the mulberry
'And so it's a secret?' said Sam.
'I should rather suspect it was,' said the mulberry man,
sipping his liquor, with a complacent face.
'i suppose your mas'r's wery rich?' said Sam.
Mr. Trotter smiled, and holding his glass in his left hand, gave
four distinct slaps on the pockets of his mulberry indescribables
with his right, as if to intimate that his master might have done
the same without alarming anybody much by the chinking of coin.
'Ah,' said Sam, 'that's the game, is it?'
The mulberry man nodded significantly.
'Well, and don't you think, old feller,' remonstrated Mr.
Weller, 'that if you let your master take in this here young lady,
you're a precious rascal?'
'I know that,' said Job Trotter, turning upon his companion a
countenance of deep contrition, and groaning slightly, 'I know
that, and that's what it is that preys upon my mind. But what am
I to do?'
'Do!' said Sam; 'di-wulge to the missis, and give up your master.'
'Who'd believe me?' replied Job Trotter. 'The young lady's
considered the very picture of innocence and discretion. She'd
deny it, and so would my master. Who'd believe me? I should lose
my place, and get indicted for a conspiracy, or some such thing;
that's all I should take by my motion.'
'There's somethin' in that,' said Sam, ruminating; 'there's
somethin' in that.'
'If I knew any respectable gentleman who would take the
matter up,' continued Mr. Trotter. 'I might have some hope of
preventing the elopement; but there's the same difficulty, Mr.
Walker, just the same. I know no gentleman in this strange place;
and ten to one if I did, whether he would believe my story.'
'Come this way,' said Sam, suddenly jumping up, and grasping
the mulberry man by the arm. 'My mas'r's the man you want, I
see.' And after a slight resistance on the part of Job Trotter, Sam
led his newly-found friend to the apartment of Mr. Pickwick, to
whom he presented him, together with a brief summary of the
dialogue we have just repeated.
'I am very sorry to betray my master, sir,' said Job Trotter,
applying to his eyes a pink checked pocket-handkerchief about
six inches square.
'The feeling does you a great deal of honour,' replied Mr.
Pickwick; 'but it is your duty, nevertheless.'
'I know it is my duty, Sir,' replied Job, with great emotion.
'We should all try to discharge our duty, Sir, and I humbly
endeavour to discharge mine, Sir; but it is a hard trial to betray a
master, Sir, whose clothes you wear, and whose bread you eat,
even though he is a scoundrel, Sir.'
'You are a very good fellow,' said Mr. Pickwick, much
affected; 'an honest fellow.'
'Come, come,' interposed Sam, who had witnessed Mr.
Trotter's tears with considerable impatience, 'blow this 'ere
water-cart bis'ness. It won't do no good, this won't.'
'Sam,' said Mr. Pickwick reproachfully. 'I am sorry to find
that you have so little respect for this young man's feelings.'
'His feelin's is all wery well, Sir,' replied Mr. Weller; 'and as
they're so wery fine, and it's a pity he should lose 'em, I think
he'd better keep 'em in his own buzzum, than let 'em ewaporate
in hot water, 'specially as they do no good. Tears never yet
wound up a clock, or worked a steam ingin'. The next time you
go out to a smoking party, young fellow, fill your pipe with that
'ere reflection; and for the present just put that bit of pink
gingham into your pocket. 'Tain't so handsome that you need
keep waving it about, as if you was a tight-rope dancer.'
'My man is in the right,' said Mr. Pickwick, accosting Job,
'although his mode of expressing his opinion is somewhat
homely, and occasionally incomprehensible.'
'He is, sir, very right,' said Mr. Trotter, 'and I will give way
'Very well,' said Mr. Pickwick. 'Now, where is this
'It is a large, old, red brick house, just outside the town, Sir,'
replied Job Trotter.
'And when,' said Mr. Pickwick--'when is this villainous design
to be carried into execution--when is this elopement to
'To-night, Sir,' replied Job.
'To-night!' exclaimed Mr. Pickwick.
'This very night, sir,' replied Job Trotter. 'That is what alarms
me so much.'
'Instant measures must be taken,' said Mr. Pickwick. 'I will see
the lady who keeps the establishment immediately.'
'I beg your pardon, Sir,' said Job, 'but that course of proceeding
will never do.'
'Why not?' inquired Mr. Pickwick.
'My master, sir, is a very artful man.'
'I know he is,' said Mr. Pickwick.
'And he has so wound himself round the old lady's heart, Sir,'
resumed Job, 'that she would believe nothing to his prejudice, if
you went down on your bare knees, and swore it; especially as
you have no proof but the word of a servant, who, for anything
she knows (and my master would be sure to say so), was discharged
for some fault, and does this in revenge.'
'What had better be done, then?' said Mr. Pickwick.
'Nothing but taking him in the very act of eloping, will
convince the old lady, sir,' replied Job.
'All them old cats WILL run their heads agin milestones,'
observed Mr. Weller, in a parenthesis.
'But this taking him in the very act of elopement, would be a
very difficult thing to accomplish, I fear,' said Mr. Pickwick.
'I don't know, sir,' said Mr. Trotter, after a few moments'
reflection. 'I think it might be very easily done.'
'How?' was Mr. Pickwick's inquiry.
'Why,' replied Mr. Trotter, 'my master and I, being in the
confidence of the two servants, will be secreted in the kitchen at
ten o'clock. When the family have retired to rest, we shall come
out of the kitchen, and the young lady out of her bedroom. A
post-chaise will be waiting, and away we go.'
'Well?' said Mr. Pickwick.
'Well, sir, I have been thinking that if you were in waiting in
the garden behind, alone--'
'Alone,' said Mr. Pickwick. 'Why alone?'
'I thought it very natural,' replied Job, 'that the old lady
wouldn't like such an unpleasant discovery to be made before
more persons than can possibly be helped. The young lady, too,
sir--consider her feelings.'
'You are very right,' said Mr. Pickwick. 'The consideration
evinces your delicacy of feeling. Go on; you are very right.'
'Well, sir, I have been thinking that if you were waiting in the
back garden alone, and I was to let you in, at the door which
opens into it, from the end of the passage, at exactly half-past
eleven o'clock, you would be just in the very moment of time to
assist me in frustrating the designs of this bad man, by whom I
have been unfortunately ensnared.' Here Mr. Trotter sighed deeply.
'Don't distress yourself on that account,' said Mr. Pickwick;
'if he had one grain of the delicacy of feeling which distinguishes
you, humble as your station is, I should have some hopes of him.'
Job Trotter bowed low; and in spite of Mr. Weller's previous
remonstrance, the tears again rose to his eyes.
'I never see such a feller,' said Sam, 'Blessed if I don't think
he's got a main in his head as is always turned on.'
'Sam,' said Mr. Pickwick, with great severity, 'hold
'Wery well, sir,' replied Mr. Weller.
'I don't like this plan,' said Mr. Pickwick, after deep meditation.
'Why cannot I communicate with the young lady's friends?'
'Because they live one hundred miles from here, sir,' responded
'That's a clincher,' said Mr. Weller, aside.
'Then this garden,' resumed Mr. Pickwick. 'How am I to get
'The wall is very low, sir, and your servant will give you a
'My servant will give me a leg up,' repeated Mr. Pickwick
mechanically. 'You will be sure to be near this door that you
'You cannot mistake it, Sir; it's the only one that opens into
the garden. Tap at it when you hear the clock strike, and I will
open it instantly.'
'I don't like the plan,' said Mr. Pickwick; 'but as I see no
other, and as the happiness of this young lady's whole life is at
stake, I adopt it. I shall be sure to be there.'
Thus, for the second time, did Mr. Pickwick's innate good-
feeling involve him in an enterprise from which he would most
willingly have stood aloof.
'What is the name of the house?' inquired Mr. Pickwick.
'Westgate House, Sir. You turn a little to the right when you
get to the end of the town; it stands by itself, some little distance
off the high road, with the name on a brass plate on the gate.'
'I know it,' said Mr. Pickwick. 'I observed it once before, when
I was in this town. You may depend upon me.'
Mr. Trotter made another bow, and turned to depart, when
Mr. Pickwick thrust a guinea into his hand.
'You're a fine fellow,' said Mr. Pickwick, 'and I admire your
goodness of heart. No thanks. Remember--eleven o'clock.'
'There is no fear of my forgetting it, sir,' replied Job Trotter.
With these words he left the room, followed by Sam.
'I say,' said the latter, 'not a bad notion that 'ere crying. I'd
cry like a rain-water spout in a shower on such good terms.
How do you do it?'
'It comes from the heart, Mr. Walker,' replied Job solemnly.
'You're a soft customer, you are; we've got it all out o' you,
anyhow,' thought Mr. Weller, as Job walked away.
We cannot state the precise nature of the thoughts which
passed through Mr. Trotter's mind, because we don't know what
The day wore on, evening came, and at a little before ten
o'clock Sam Weller reported that Mr. Jingle and Job had gone
out together, that their luggage was packed up, and that they had
ordered a chaise. The plot was evidently in execution, as Mr.
Trotter had foretold.
Half-past ten o'clock arrived, and it was time for Mr. Pickwick
to issue forth on his delicate errand. Resisting Sam's tender of his
greatcoat, in order that he might have no encumbrance in scaling
the wall, he set forth, followed by his attendant.
There was a bright moon, but it was behind the clouds. it was
a fine dry night, but it was most uncommonly dark. Paths,
hedges, fields, houses, and trees, were enveloped in one deep
shade. The atmosphere was hot and sultry, the summer lightning
quivered faintly on the verge of the horizon, and was the only
sight that varied the dull gloom in which everything was wrapped
--sound there was none, except the distant barking of some
They found the house, read the brass plate, walked round the
wall, and stopped at that portion of it which divided them from
the bottom of the garden.
'You will return to the inn, Sam, when you have assisted me
over,' said Mr. Pickwick.
'Wery well, Sir.'
'And you will sit up, till I return.'
'Take hold of my leg; and, when I say "Over," raise me gently.'
'All right, sir.'
Having settled these preliminaries, Mr. Pickwick grasped the
top of the wall, and gave the word 'Over,' which was literally
obeyed. Whether his body partook in some degree of the elasticity
of his mind, or whether Mr. Weller's notions of a gentle push
were of a somewhat rougher description than Mr. Pickwick's, the
immediate effect of his assistance was to jerk that immortal
gentleman completely over the wall on to the bed beneath,
where, after crushing three gooseberry-bushes and a rose-tree, he
finally alighted at full length.
'You ha'n't hurt yourself, I hope, Sir?' said Sam, in a loud
whisper, as soon as he had recovered from the surprise consequent
upon the mysterious disappearance of his master.
'I have not hurt MYSELF, Sam, certainly,' replied Mr. Pickwick,
from the other side of the wall, 'but I rather think that YOU have
'I hope not, Sir,' said Sam.
'Never mind,' said Mr. Pickwick, rising, 'it's nothing but a few
scratches. Go away, or we shall be overheard.'
With stealthy steps Sam Weller departed, leaving Mr. Pickwick
alone in the garden.
Lights occasionally appeared in the different windows of the
house, or glanced from the staircases, as if the inmates were
retiring to rest. Not caring to go too near the door, until the
appointed time, Mr. Pickwick crouched into an angle of the wall,
and awaited its arrival.
It was a situation which might well have depressed the spirits
of many a man. Mr. Pickwick, however, felt neither depression
nor misgiving. He knew that his purpose was in the main a good
one, and he placed implicit reliance on the high-minded Job. it
was dull, certainly; not to say dreary; but a contemplative man
can always employ himself in meditation. Mr. Pickwick had
meditated himself into a doze, when he was roused by the chimes
of the neighbouring church ringing out the hour--half-past eleven.
'That's the time,' thought Mr. Pickwick, getting cautiously on
his feet. He looked up at the house. The lights had disappeared,
and the shutters were closed--all in bed, no doubt. He walked
on tiptoe to the door, and gave a gentle tap. Two or three
minutes passing without any reply, he gave another tap rather
louder, and then another rather louder than that.
At length the sound of feet was audible upon the stairs, and
then the light of a candle shone through the keyhole of the door.
There was a good deal of unchaining and unbolting, and the door
was slowly opened.
Now the door opened outwards; and as the door opened wider
and wider, Mr. Pickwick receded behind it, more and more. What
was his astonishment when he just peeped out, by way of caution,
to see that the person who had opened it was--not Job Trotter,
but a servant-girl with a candle in her hand! Mr. Pickwick drew
in his head again, with the swiftness displayed by that admirable
melodramatic performer, Punch, when he lies in wait for the
flat-headed comedian with the tin box of music.
'It must have been the cat, Sarah,' said the girl, addressing
herself to some one in the house. 'Puss, puss, puss,--tit, tit, tit.'
But no animal being decoyed by these blandishments, the girl
slowly closed the door, and re-fastened it; leaving Mr. Pickwick
drawn up straight against the wall.
'This is very curious,' thought Mr. Pickwick. 'They are sitting
up beyond their usual hour, I suppose. Extremely unfortunate,
that they should have chosen this night, of all others, for such a
purpose--exceedingly.' And with these thoughts, Mr. Pickwick
cautiously retired to the angle of the wall in which he had been
before ensconced; waiting until such time as he might deem it
safe to repeat the signal.
He had not been here five minutes, when a vivid flash
of lightning was followed by a loud peal of thunder that
crashed and rolled away in the distance with a terrific noise--
then came another flash of lightning, brighter than the other,
and a second peal of thunder louder than the first; and then
down came the rain, with a force and fury that swept everything
Mr. Pickwick was perfectly aware that a tree is a very dangerous
neighbour in a thunderstorm. He had a tree on his right, a
tree on his left, a third before him, and a fourth behind. If he
remained where he was, he might fall the victim of an accident;
if he showed himself in the centre of the garden, he might be
consigned to a constable. Once or twice he tried to scale the wall,
but having no other legs this time, than those with which Nature
had furnished him, the only effect of his struggles was to inflict a
variety of very unpleasant gratings on his knees and shins, and to
throw him into a state of the most profuse perspiration.
'What a dreadful situation,' said Mr. Pickwick, pausing to
wipe his brow after this exercise. He looked up at the house--all
was dark. They must be gone to bed now. He would try the
He walked on tiptoe across the moist gravel, and tapped at the
door. He held his breath, and listened at the key-hole. No reply:
very odd. Another knock. He listened again. There was a low
whispering inside, and then a voice cried--
'That's not Job,' thought Mr. Pickwick, hastily drawing himself
straight up against the wall again. 'It's a woman.'
He had scarcely had time to form this conclusion, when a
window above stairs was thrown up, and three or four female
voices repeated the query--'Who's there?'
Mr. Pickwick dared not move hand or foot. It was clear that
the whole establishment was roused. He made up his mind to
remain where he was, until the alarm had subsided; and then by
a supernatural effort, to get over the wall, or perish in
Like all Mr. Pickwick's determinations, this was the best that
could be made under the circumstances; but, unfortunately, it
was founded upon the assumption that they would not venture
to open the door again. What was his discomfiture, when he
heard the chain and bolts withdrawn, and saw the door slowly
opening, wider and wider! He retreated into the corner, step by
step; but do what he would, the interposition of his own person,
prevented its being opened to its utmost width.
'Who's there?' screamed a numerous chorus of treble voices
from the staircase inside, consisting of the spinster lady of the
establishment, three teachers, five female servants, and thirty
boarders, all half-dressed and in a forest of curl-papers.
Of course Mr. Pickwick didn't say who was there: and then the
burden of the chorus changed into--'Lor! I am so frightened.'
'Cook,' said the lady abbess, who took care to be on the top
stair, the very last of the group--'cook, why don't you go a little
way into the garden?'
'Please, ma'am, I don't like,' responded the cook.
'Lor, what a stupid thing that cook is!' said the thirty boarders.
'Cook,' said the lady abbess, with great dignity; 'don't
answer me, if you please. I insist upon your looking into the
Here the cook began to cry, and the housemaid said it was 'a
shame!' for which partisanship she received a month's warning
on the spot.
'Do you hear, cook?' said the lady abbess, stamping her
'Don't you hear your missis, cook?' said the three teachers.
'What an impudent thing that cook is!' said the thirty boarders.
The unfortunate cook, thus strongly urged, advanced a step or
two, and holding her candle just where it prevented her from
seeing at all, declared there was nothing there, and it must have
been the wind. The door was just going to be closed in consequence,
when an inquisitive boarder, who had been peeping
between the hinges, set up a fearful screaming, which called back
the cook and housemaid, and all the more adventurous, in no time.
'What is the matter with Miss Smithers?' said the lady abbess,
as the aforesaid Miss Smithers proceeded to go into hysterics of
four young lady power.
'Lor, Miss Smithers, dear,' said the other nine-and-twenty
'Oh, the man--the man--behind the door!' screamed Miss Smithers.
The lady abbess no sooner heard this appalling cry, than she
retreated to her own bedroom, double-locked the door, and
fainted away comfortably. The boarders, and the teachers, and
the servants, fell back upon the stairs, and upon each other; and
never was such a screaming, and fainting, and struggling beheld.
In the midst of the tumult, Mr. Pickwick emerged from his
concealment, and presented himself amongst them.
'Ladies--dear ladies,' said Mr. Pickwick.
'Oh. he says we're dear,' cried the oldest and ugliest teacher.
'Oh, the wretch!'
'Ladies,' roared Mr. Pickwick, rendered desperate by the
danger of his situation. 'Hear me. I am no robber. I want the lady
of the house.'
'Oh, what a ferocious monster!' screamed another teacher.
'He wants Miss Tomkins.'
Here there was a general scream.
'Ring the alarm bell, somebody!' cried a dozen voices.
'Don't--don't,' shouted Mr. Pickwick. 'Look at me. Do I look
like a robber! My dear ladies--you may bind me hand and leg,
or lock me up in a closet, if you like. Only hear what I have got
to say--only hear me.'
'How did you come in our garden?' faltered the housemaid.
'Call the lady of the house, and I'll tell her everything,' said
Mr. Pickwick, exerting his lungs to the utmost pitch. 'Call her--
only be quiet, and call her, and you shall hear everything .'
It might have been Mr. Pickwick's appearance, or it might have
been his manner, or it might have been the temptation--
irresistible to a female mind--of hearing something at present
enveloped in mystery, that reduced the more reasonable portion
of the establishment (some four individuals) to a state of
comparative quiet. By them it was proposed, as a test of Mr.
Pickwick's sincerity, that he should immediately submit to personal
restraint; and that gentleman having consented to hold a
conference with Miss Tomkins, from the interior of a closet in
which the day boarders hung their bonnets and sandwich-bags,
he at once stepped into it, of his own accord, and was securely
locked in. This revived the others; and Miss Tomkins having
been brought to, and brought down, the conference began.
'What did you do in my garden, man?' said Miss Tomkins, in
a faint voice.
'I came to warn you that one of your young ladies was going to
elope to-night,' replied Mr. Pickwick, from the interior of the closet.
'Elope!' exclaimed Miss Tomkins, the three teachers, the
thirty boarders, and the five servants. 'Who with?'
'Your friend, Mr. Charles Fitz-Marshall.'
'MY friend! I don't know any such person.'
'Well, Mr. Jingle, then.'
'I never heard the name in my life.'
'Then, I have been deceived, and deluded,' said Mr. Pickwick.
'I have been the victim of a conspiracy--a foul and base conspiracy.
Send to the Angel, my dear ma'am, if you don't believe me.
Send to the Angel for Mr. Pickwick's manservant, I implore
'He must be respectable--he keeps a manservant,' said Miss
Tomkins to the writing and ciphering governess.
'It's my opinion, Miss Tomkins,' said the writing and ciphering
governess, 'that his manservant keeps him, I think he's a madman,
Miss Tomkins, and the other's his keeper.'
'I think you are very right, Miss Gwynn,' responded Miss
Tomkins. 'Let two of the servants repair to the Angel, and let the
others remain here, to protect us.'
So two of the servants were despatched to the Angel in search
of Mr. Samuel Weller; and the remaining three stopped behind
to protect Miss Tomkins, and the three teachers, and the thirty
boarders. And Mr. Pickwick sat down in the closet, beneath a
grove of sandwich-bags, and awaited the return of the messengers,
with all the philosophy and fortitude he could summon to his aid.
An hour and a half elapsed before they came back, and when
they did come, Mr. Pickwick recognised, in addition to the voice
of Mr. Samuel Weller, two other voices, the tones of which
struck familiarly on his ear; but whose they were, he could not for
the life of him call to mind.
A very brief conversation ensued. The door was unlocked.
Mr. Pickwick stepped out of the closet, and found himself in the
presence of the whole establishment of Westgate House, Mr
Samuel Weller, and--old Wardle, and his destined son-in-law,
'My dear friend,' said Mr. Pickwick, running forward and
grasping Wardle's hand, 'my dear friend, pray, for Heaven's sake,
explain to this lady the unfortunate and dreadful situation in
which I am placed. You must have heard it from my servant;
say, at all events, my dear fellow, that I am neither a robber nor
'I have said so, my dear friend. I have said so already,' replied
Mr. Wardle, shaking the right hand of his friend, while Mr.
Trundle shook the left.
'And whoever says, or has said, he is,' interposed Mr. Weller,
stepping forward, 'says that which is not the truth, but so far
from it, on the contrary, quite the rewerse. And if there's any
number o' men on these here premises as has said so, I shall be
wery happy to give 'em all a wery convincing proof o' their being
mistaken, in this here wery room, if these wery respectable ladies
'll have the goodness to retire, and order 'em up, one at a time.'
Having delivered this defiance with great volubility, Mr. Weller
struck his open palm emphatically with his clenched fist, and
winked pleasantly on Miss Tomkins, the intensity of whose
horror at his supposing it within the bounds of possibility that
there could be any men on the premises of Westgate House
Establishment for Young Ladies, it is impossible to describe.
Mr. Pickwick's explanation having already been partially made,
was soon concluded. But neither in the course of his walk home
with his friends, nor afterwards when seated before a blazing
fire at the supper he so much needed, could a single observation
be drawn from him. He seemed bewildered and amazed. Once,
and only once, he turned round to Mr. Wardle, and said--
'How did you come here?'
'Trundle and I came down here, for some good shooting on
the first,' replied Wardle. 'We arrived to-night, and were
astonished to hear from your servant that you were here too.
But I am glad you are,' said the old fellow, slapping him on
the back--'I am glad you are. We shall have a jovial party
on the first, and we'll give Winkle another chance--eh, old
Mr. Pickwick made no reply, he did not even ask after his
friends at Dingley Dell, and shortly afterwards retired for the
night, desiring Sam to fetch his candle when he rung.
The bell did ring in due course, and Mr. Weller presented himself.
'Sam,' said Mr. Pickwick, looking out from under the bed-clothes.
'Sir,' said Mr. Weller.
Mr. Pickwick paused, and Mr. Weller snuffed the candle.
'Sam,' said Mr. Pickwick again, as if with a desperate effort.
'Sir,' said Mr. Weller, once more.
'Where is that Trotter?'
'With his master, I suppose?'
'Friend or master, or whatever he is, he's gone with him,'
replied Mr. Weller. 'There's a pair on 'em, sir.'
'Jingle suspected my design, and set that fellow on you, with
this story, I suppose?' said Mr. Pickwick, half choking.
'Just that, sir,' replied Mr. Weller.
'It was all false, of course?'
'All, sir,' replied Mr. Weller. 'Reg'lar do, sir; artful dodge.'
'I don't think he'll escape us quite so easily the next time, Sam!'
said Mr. Pickwick.
'I don't think he will, Sir.'
'Whenever I meet that Jingle again, wherever it is,' said Mr.
Pickwick, raising himself in bed, and indenting his pillow with a
tremendous blow, 'I'll inflict personal chastisement on him, in
addition to the exposure he so richly merits. I will, or my name
is not Pickwick.'
'And venever I catches hold o' that there melan-cholly chap
with the black hair,' said Sam, 'if I don't bring some real water
into his eyes, for once in a way, my name ain't Weller. Good-
SHOWING THAT AN ATTACK OF RHEUMATISM, IN SOME
CASES, ACTS AS A QUICKENER TO INVENTIVE GENIUS
The constitution of Mr. Pickwick, though able to sustain a very
considerable amount of exertion and fatigue, was not proof against
such a combination of attacks as he had undergone on the memorable
night, recorded in the last chapter. The process of being washed
in the night air, and rough-dried in a closet, is as dangerous as
it is peculiar. Mr. Pickwick was laid up with an attack of rheumatism.
But although the bodily powers of the great man were thus
impaired, his mental energies retained their pristine vigour. His
spirits were elastic; his good-humour was restored. Even the
vexation consequent upon his recent adventure had vanished
from his mind; and he could join in the hearty laughter, which
any allusion to it excited in Mr. Wardle, without anger and
without embarrassment. Nay, more. During the two days Mr.
Pickwick was confined to bed, Sam was his constant attendant.
On the first, he endeavoured to amuse his master by anecdote
and conversation; on the second, Mr. Pickwick demanded his
writing-desk, and pen and ink, and was deeply engaged during
the whole day. On the third, being able to sit up in his bedchamber,
he despatched his valet with a message to Mr. Wardle and Mr. Trundle,
intimating that if they would take their wine there, that evening,
they would greatly oblige him. The invitation was most willingly
accepted; and when they were seated over
their wine, Mr. Pickwick, with sundry blushes, produced the
following little tale, as having been 'edited' by himself, during his
recent indisposition, from his notes of Mr. Weller's
THE PARISH CLERK
A TALE OF TRUE LOVE
'Once upon a time, in a very small country town, at a considerable
distance from London, there lived a little man named Nathaniel
Pipkin, who was the parish clerk of the little town, and lived in a
little house in the little High Street, within ten minutes' walk
from the little church; and who was to be found every day, from
nine till four, teaching a little learning to the little boys. Nathaniel
Pipkin was a harmless, inoffensive, good-natured being, with a
turned-up nose, and rather turned-in legs, a cast in his eye, and a
halt in his gait; and he divided his time between the church and
his school, verily believing that there existed not, on the face of
the earth, so clever a man as the curate, so imposing an apartment
as the vestry-room, or so well-ordered a seminary as his own.
Once, and only once, in his life, Nathaniel Pipkin had seen a
bishop--a real bishop, with his arms in lawn sleeves, and his
head in a wig. He had seen him walk, and heard him talk, at a
confirmation, on which momentous occasion Nathaniel Pipkin
was so overcome with reverence and awe, when the aforesaid
bishop laid his hand on his head, that he fainted right clean
away, and was borne out of church in the arms of the beadle.
'This was a great event, a tremendous era, in Nathaniel
Pipkin's life, and it was the only one that had ever occurred to
ruffle the smooth current of his quiet existence, when happening
one fine afternoon, in a fit of mental abstraction, to raise his eyes
from the slate on which he was devising some tremendous
problem in compound addition for an offending urchin to solve,
they suddenly rested on the blooming countenance of Maria
Lobbs, the only daughter of old Lobbs, the great saddler over the
way. Now, the eyes of Mr. Pipkin had rested on the pretty face
of Maria Lobbs many a time and oft before, at church and elsewhere;
but the eyes of Maria Lobbs had never looked so bright,
the cheeks of Maria Lobbs had never looked so ruddy, as upon
this particular occasion. No wonder then, that Nathaniel Pipkin
was unable to take his eyes from the countenance of Miss Lobbs;
no wonder that Miss Lobbs, finding herself stared at by a young
man, withdrew her head from the window out of which she had
been peeping, and shut the casement and pulled down the blind;
no wonder that Nathaniel Pipkin, immediately thereafter, fell
upon the young urchin who had previously offended, and cuffed
and knocked him about to his heart's content. All this was very
natural, and there's nothing at all to wonder at about it.
'It IS matter of wonder, though, that anyone of Mr. Nathaniel
Pipkin's retiring disposition, nervous temperament, and most
particularly diminutive income, should from this day forth, have
dared to aspire to the hand and heart of the only daughter of the
fiery old Lobbs--of old Lobbs, the great saddler, who could have
bought up the whole village at one stroke of his pen, and never
felt the outlay--old Lobbs, who was well known to have heaps of
money, invested in the bank at the nearest market town--who
was reported to have countless and inexhaustible treasures
hoarded up in the little iron safe with the big keyhole, over the
chimney-piece in the back parlour--and who, it was well known,
on festive occasions garnished his board with a real silver teapot,
cream-ewer, and sugar-basin, which he was wont, in the pride of
his heart, to boast should be his daughter's property when she
found a man to her mind. I repeat it, to be matter of profound
astonishment and intense wonder, that Nathaniel Pipkin should
have had the temerity to cast his eyes in this direction. But love is
blind; and Nathaniel had a cast in his eye; and perhaps these two
circumstances, taken together, prevented his seeing the matter in
its proper light.
'Now, if old Lobbs had entertained the most remote or distant
idea of the state of the affections of Nathaniel Pipkin, he would
just have razed the school-room to the ground, or exterminated
its master from the surface of the earth, or committed some other
outrage and atrocity of an equally ferocious and violent description;
for he was a terrible old fellow, was Lobbs, when his pride
was injured, or his blood was up. Swear! Such trains of oaths
would come rolling and pealing over the way, sometimes, when
he was denouncing the idleness of the bony apprentice with the
thin legs, that Nathaniel Pipkin would shake in his shoes with
horror, and the hair of the pupils' heads would stand on end
'Well! Day after day, when school was over, and the pupils
gone, did Nathaniel Pipkin sit himself down at the front window,
and, while he feigned to be reading a book, throw sidelong glances
over the way in search of the bright eyes of Maria Lobbs; and he
hadn't sat there many days, before the bright eyes appeared at an
upper window, apparently deeply engaged in reading too. This
was delightful, and gladdening to the heart of Nathaniel Pipkin.
It was something to sit there for hours together, and look upon
that pretty face when the eyes were cast down; but when Maria
Lobbs began to raise her eyes from her book, and dart their rays
in the direction of Nathaniel Pipkin, his delight and admiration
were perfectly boundless. At last, one day when he knew old
Lobbs was out, Nathaniel Pipkin had the temerity to kiss his hand
to Maria Lobbs; and Maria Lobbs, instead of shutting the
window, and pulling down the blind, kissed HERS to him, and
smiled. Upon which Nathaniel Pipkin determined, that, come
what might, he would develop the state of his feelings, without
'A prettier foot, a gayer heart, a more dimpled face, or a
smarter form, never bounded so lightly over the earth they
graced, as did those of Maria Lobbs, the old saddler's daughter.
There was a roguish twinkle in her sparkling eyes, that would
have made its way to far less susceptible bosoms than that of
Nathaniel Pipkin; and there was such a joyous sound in her
merry laugh, that the sternest misanthrope must have smiled to
hear it. Even old Lobbs himself, in the very height of his ferocity,
couldn't resist the coaxing of his pretty daughter; and when she,
and her cousin Kate--an arch, impudent-looking, bewitching
little person--made a dead set upon the old man together, as, to
say the truth, they very often did, he could have refused them
nothing, even had they asked for a portion of the countless and
inexhaustible treasures, which were hidden from the light, in the
'Nathaniel Pipkin's heart beat high within him, when he saw
this enticing little couple some hundred yards before him one
summer's evening, in the very field in which he had many a time
strolled about till night-time, and pondered on the beauty of
Maria Lobbs. But though he had often thought then, how briskly
he would walk up to Maria Lobbs and tell her of his passion if he
could only meet her, he felt, now that she was unexpectedly
before him, all the blood in his body mounting to his face,
manifestly to the great detriment of his legs, which, deprived of
their usual portion, trembled beneath him. When they stopped to
gather a hedge flower, or listen to a bird, Nathaniel Pipkin
stopped too, and pretended to be absorbed in meditation, as
indeed he really was; for he was thinking what on earth he should
ever do, when they turned back, as they inevitably must in time,
and meet him face to face. But though he was afraid to make up
to them, he couldn't bear to lose sight of them; so when they
walked faster he walked faster, when they lingered he lingered,
and when they stopped he stopped; and so they might have gone
on, until the darkness prevented them, if Kate had not looked
slyly back, and encouragingly beckoned Nathaniel to advance.
There was something in Kate's manner that was not to be
resisted, and so Nathaniel Pipkin complied with the invitation;
and after a great deal of blushing on his part, and immoderate
laughter on that of the wicked little cousin, Nathaniel Pipkin
went down on his knees on the dewy grass, and declared his
resolution to remain there for ever, unless he were permitted to
rise the accepted lover of Maria Lobbs. Upon this, the merry
laughter of Miss Lobbs rang through the calm evening air--
without seeming to disturb it, though; it had such a pleasant
sound--and the wicked little cousin laughed more immoderately
than before, and Nathaniel Pipkin blushed deeper than ever. At
length, Maria Lobbs being more strenuously urged by the love-
worn little man, turned away her head, and whispered her cousin
to say, or at all events Kate did say, that she felt much honoured
by Mr. Pipkin's addresses; that her hand and heart were at her
father's disposal; but that nobody could be insensible to Mr.
Pipkin's merits. As all this was said with much gravity, and as
Nathaniel Pipkin walked home with Maria Lobbs, and struggled
for a kiss at parting, he went to bed a happy man, and dreamed
all night long, of softening old Lobbs, opening the strong box,
and marrying Maria.
The next day, Nathaniel Pipkin saw old Lobbs go out upon
his old gray pony, and after a great many signs at the window
from the wicked little cousin, the object and meaning of which he
could by no means understand, the bony apprentice with the thin
legs came over to say that his master wasn't coming home all
night, and that the ladies expected Mr. Pipkin to tea, at six
o'clock precisely. How the lessons were got through that day,
neither Nathaniel Pipkin nor his pupils knew any more than you
do; but they were got through somehow, and, after the boys had
gone, Nathaniel Pipkin took till full six o'clock to dress himself
to his satisfaction. Not that it took long to select the garments he
should wear, inasmuch as he had no choice about the matter;
but the putting of them on to the best advantage, and the touching
of them up previously, was a task of no inconsiderable difficulty
'There was a very snug little party, consisting of Maria Lobbs
and her cousin Kate, and three or four romping, good-humoured,
rosy-cheeked girls. Nathaniel Pipkin had ocular demonstration of
the fact, that the rumours of old Lobbs's treasures were not
exaggerated. There were the real solid silver teapot, cream-ewer,
and sugar-basin, on the table, and real silver spoons to stir the
tea with, and real china cups to drink it out of, and plates of the
same, to hold the cakes and toast in. The only eye-sore in the
whole place was another cousin of Maria Lobbs's, and a brother
of Kate, whom Maria Lobbs called "Henry," and who seemed
to keep Maria Lobbs all to himself, up in one corner of the table.
It's a delightful thing to see affection in families, but it may be
carried rather too far, and Nathaniel Pipkin could not help
thinking that Maria Lobbs must be very particularly fond of her
relations, if she paid as much attention to all of them as to this
individual cousin. After tea, too, when the wicked little cousin
proposed a game at blind man's buff, it somehow or other
happened that Nathaniel Pipkin was nearly always blind, and
whenever he laid his hand upon the male cousin, he was sure to
find that Maria Lobbs was not far off. And though the wicked
little cousin and the other girls pinched him, and pulled his hair,
and pushed chairs in his way, and all sorts of things, Maria Lobbs
never seemed to come near him at all; and once--once--Nathaniel
Pipkin could have sworn he heard the sound of a kiss,
followed by a faint remonstrance from Maria Lobbs, and a half-
suppressed laugh from her female friends. All this was odd--
very odd--and there is no saying what Nathaniel Pipkin might
or might not have done, in consequence, if his thoughts had not
been suddenly directed into a new channel.
'The circumstance which directed his thoughts into a new
channel was a loud knocking at the street door, and the person
who made this loud knocking at the street door was no other
than old Lobbs himself, who had unexpectedly returned, and
was hammering away, like a coffin-maker; for he wanted his
supper. The alarming intelligence was no sooner communicated
by the bony apprentice with the thin legs, than the girls tripped
upstairs to Maria Lobbs's bedroom, and the male cousin and
Nathaniel Pipkin were thrust into a couple of closets in the
sitting-room, for want of any better places of concealment; and
when Maria Lobbs and the wicked little cousin had stowed them
away, and put the room to rights, they opened the street door to
old Lobbs, who had never left off knocking since he first began.
'Now it did unfortunately happen that old Lobbs being very
hungry was monstrous cross. Nathaniel Pipkin could hear him
growling away like an old mastiff with a sore throat; and whenever
the unfortunate apprentice with the thin legs came into the
room, so surely did old Lobbs commence swearing at him in a
most Saracenic and ferocious manner, though apparently with
no other end or object than that of easing his bosom by the
discharge of a few superfluous oaths. At length some supper,
which had been warming up, was placed on the table, and then
old Lobbs fell to, in regular style; and having made clear work of
it in no time, kissed his daughter, and demanded his pipe.
'Nature had placed Nathaniel Pipkin's knees in very close
juxtaposition, but when he heard old Lobbs demand his pipe,
they knocked together, as if they were going to reduce each other
to powder; for, depending from a couple of hooks, in the very
closet in which he stood, was a large, brown-stemmed, silver-
bowled pipe, which pipe he himself had seen in the mouth of old
Lobbs, regularly every afternoon and evening, for the last five
years. The two girls went downstairs for the pipe, and upstairs for
the pipe, and everywhere but where they knew the pipe was, and
old Lobbs stormed away meanwhile, in the most wonderful
manner. At last he thought of the closet, and walked up to it. It
was of no use a little man like Nathaniel Pipkin pulling the
door inwards, when a great strong fellow like old Lobbs was
pulling it outwards. Old Lobbs gave it one tug, and open it flew,
disclosing Nathaniel Pipkin standing bolt upright inside, and
shaking with apprehension from head to foot. Bless us! what an
appalling look old Lobbs gave him, as he dragged him out by the
collar, and held him at arm's length.
'"Why, what the devil do you want here?" said old Lobbs, in
a fearful voice.
'Nathaniel Pipkin could make no reply, so old Lobbs shook
him backwards and forwards, for two or three minutes, by way
of arranging his ideas for him.
'"What do you want here?" roared Lobbs; "I suppose you
have come after my daughter, now!"
'Old Lobbs merely said this as a sneer: for he did not believe
that mortal presumption could have carried Nathaniel Pipkin so
far. What was his indignation, when that poor man replied--
'"Yes, I did, Mr. Lobbs, I did come after your daughter. I
love her, Mr. Lobbs."
'"Why, you snivelling, wry-faced, puny villain," gasped old
Lobbs, paralysed by the atrocious confession; "what do you
mean by that? Say this to my face! Damme, I'll throttle you!"
'It is by no means improbable that old Lobbs would have
carried his threat into execution, in the excess of his rage, if his
arm had not been stayed by a very unexpected apparition: to wit,
the male cousin, who, stepping out of his closet, and walking up
to old Lobbs, said--
'"I cannot allow this harmless person, Sir, who has been asked
here, in some girlish frolic, to take upon himself, in a very noble
manner, the fault (if fault it is) which I am guilty of, and am
ready to avow. I love your daughter, sir; and I came here for the
purpose of meeting her."
'Old Lobbs opened his eyes very wide at this, but not wider
than Nathaniel Pipkin.
'"You did?" said Lobbs, at last finding breath to speak.
'"And I forbade you this house, long ago."
'"You did, or I should not have been here, clandestinely,
'I am sorry to record it of old Lobbs, but I think he would
have struck the cousin, if his pretty daughter, with her bright eyes
swimming in tears, had not clung to his arm.
'"Don't stop him, Maria," said the young man; "if he has the
will to strike me, let him. I would not hurt a hair of his gray head,
for the riches of the world."
'The old man cast down his eyes at this reproof, and they met
those of his daughter. I have hinted once or twice before, that
they were very bright eyes, and, though they were tearful now,
their influence was by no means lessened. Old Lobbs turned
his head away, as if to avoid being persuaded by them,
when, as fortune would have it, he encountered the face of
the wicked little cousin, who, half afraid for her brother, and
half laughing at Nathaniel Pipkin, presented as bewitching an
expression of countenance, with a touch of slyness in it, too, as
any man, old or young, need look upon. She drew her arm coaxingly
through the old man's, and whispered something in his
ear; and do what he would, old Lobbs couldn't help breaking
out into a smile, while a tear stole down his cheek at the same time.
'Five minutes after this, the girls were brought down from the
bedroom with a great deal of giggling and modesty; and while
the young people were making themselves perfectly happy, old
Lobbs got down the pipe, and smoked it; and it was a remarkable
circumstance about that particular pipe of tobacco, that it was
the most soothing and delightful one he ever smoked.
'Nathaniel Pipkin thought it best to keep his own counsel, and
by so doing gradually rose into high favour with old Lobbs. who
taught him to smoke in time; and they used to sit out in the
garden on the fine evenings, for many years afterwards, smoking
and drinking in great state. He soon recovered the effects of his
attachment, for we find his name in the parish register, as a
witness to the marriage of Maria Lobbs to her cousin; and it also
appears, by reference to other documents, that on the night of the
wedding he was incarcerated in the village cage, for having, in a
state of extreme intoxication, committed sundry excesses in the
streets, in all of which he was aided and abetted by the bony
apprentice with the thin legs.'
BRIEFLY ILLUSTRATIVE OF TWO POINTS; FIRST, THE
POWER OF HYSTERICS, AND, SECONDLY, THE FORCE OF
For two days after the DEJEUNE at Mrs. Hunter's, the Pickwickians
remained at Eatanswill, anxiously awaiting the arrival of some
intelligence from their revered leader. Mr. Tupman and Mr.
Snodgrass were once again left to their own means of amusement;
for Mr. Winkle, in compliance with a most pressing invitation,
continued to reside at Mr. Pott's house, and to devote his time
to the companionship of his amiable lady. Nor was the occasional
society of Mr. Pott himself wanting to complete their felicity.
Deeply immersed in the intensity of his speculations for the
public weal and the destruction of the INDEPENDENT, it was not the
habit of that great man to descend from his mental pinnacle to
the humble level of ordinary minds. On this occasion, however,
and as if expressly in compliment to any follower of Mr.
Pickwick's, he unbent, relaxed, stepped down from his pedestal,
and walked upon the ground, benignly adapting his remarks to the
comprehension of the herd, and seeming in outward form, if not in
spirit, to be one of them.
Such having been the demeanour of this celebrated public
character towards Mr. Winkle, it will be readily imagined that
considerable surprise was depicted on the countenance of the
latter gentleman, when, as he was sitting alone in the breakfast-
room, the door was hastily thrown open, and as hastily closed,
on the entrance of Mr. Pott, who, stalking majestically towards
him, and thrusting aside his proffered hand, ground his teeth, as
if to put a sharper edge on what he was about to utter, and
exclaimed, in a saw-like voice--
'Sir!' exclaimed Mr. Winkle, starting from his chair.
'Serpent, Sir,' repeated Mr. Pott, raising his voice, and then
suddenly depressing it: 'I said, serpent, sir--make the most of it.'
When you have parted with a man at two o'clock in the
morning, on terms of the utmost good-fellowship, and he meets
you again, at half-past nine, and greets you as a serpent, it is not
unreasonable to conclude that something of an unpleasant
nature has occurred meanwhile. So Mr. Winkle thought. He
returned Mr. Pott's gaze of stone, and in compliance with that
gentleman's request, proceeded to make the most he could of the
'serpent.' The most, however, was nothing at all; so, after a
profound silence of some minutes' duration, he said,--
'Serpent, Sir! Serpent, Mr. Pott! What can you mean, Sir?--
this is pleasantry.'
'Pleasantry, sir!' exclaimed Pott, with a motion of the hand,
indicative of a strong desire to hurl the Britannia metal teapot at
the head of the visitor. 'Pleasantry, sir!--But--no, I will be calm;
I will be calm, Sir;' in proof of his calmness, Mr. Pott flung
himself into a chair, and foamed at the mouth.
'My dear sir,' interposed Mr. Winkle.
'DEAR Sir!' replied Pott. 'How dare you address me, as dear Sir,
Sir? How dare you look me in the face and do it, sir?'
'Well, Sir, if you come to that,' responded Mr. Winkle, 'how
dare you look me in the face, and call me a serpent, sir?'
'Because you are one,' replied Mr. Pott.
'Prove it, Sir,' said Mr. Winkle warmly. 'Prove it.'
A malignant scowl passed over the profound face of the editor,
as he drew from his pocket the INDEPENDENT of that morning; and
laying his finger on a particular paragraph, threw the journal
across the table to Mr. Winkle.
That gentleman took it up, and read as follows:--
'Our obscure and filthy contemporary, in some disgusting
observations on the recent election for this borough, has presumed
to violate the hallowed sanctity of private life, and to refer,
in a manner not to be misunderstood, to the personal affairs of
our late candidate--aye, and notwithstanding his base defeat, we
will add, our future member, Mr. Fizkin. What does our dastardly
contemporary mean? What would the ruffian say, if we, setting
at naught, like him, the decencies of social intercourse, were to
raise the curtain which happily conceals His private life from
general ridicule, not to say from general execration? What, if we
were even to point out, and comment on, facts and circumstances,
which are publicly notorious, and beheld by every one but our
mole-eyed contemporary--what if we were to print the following
effusion, which we received while we were writing the commencement
of this article, from a talented fellow-townsman and
'"LINES TO A BRASS POT
'"Oh Pott! if you'd known
How false she'd have grown,
When you heard the marriage bells tinkle;
You'd have done then, I vow,
What you cannot help now,
And handed her over to W*****"'
'What,' said Mr. Pott solemnly--'what rhymes to "tinkle,"
'What rhymes to tinkle?' said Mrs. Pott, whose entrance at the
moment forestalled the reply. 'What rhymes to tinkle? Why,
Winkle, I should conceive.' Saying this, Mrs. Pott smiled sweetly
on the disturbed Pickwickian, and extended her hand towards
him. The agitated young man would have accepted it, in his
confusion, had not Pott indignantly interposed.
'Back, ma'am--back!' said the editor. 'Take his hand before
my very face!'
'Mr. P.!' said his astonished lady.
'Wretched woman, look here,' exclaimed the husband. 'Look
here, ma'am--"Lines to a Brass Pot." "Brass Pot"; that's me,
ma'am. "False SHE'D have grown"; that's you, ma'am--you.'
With this ebullition of rage, which was not unaccompanied with
something like a tremble, at the expression of his wife's face,
Mr. Pott dashed the current number of the Eatanswill INDEPENDENT
at her feet.
'Upon my word, Sir,' said the astonished Mrs. Pott, stooping
to pick up the paper. 'Upon my word, Sir!'
Mr. Pott winced beneath the contemptuous gaze of his wife.
He had made a desperate struggle to screw up his courage, but it
was fast coming unscrewed again.
There appears nothing very tremendous in this little sentence,
'Upon my word, sir,' when it comes to be read; but the tone of
voice in which it was delivered, and the look that accompanied it,
both seeming to bear reference to some revenge to be thereafter
visited upon the head of Pott, produced their effect upon him.
The most unskilful observer could have detected in his troubled
countenance, a readiness to resign his Wellington boots to any
efficient substitute who would have consented to stand in them
at that moment.
Mrs. Pott read the paragraph, uttered a loud shriek, and
threw herself at full length on the hearth-rug, screaming, and
tapping it with the heels of her shoes, in a manner which could
leave no doubt of the propriety of her feelings on the occasion.
'My dear,' said the terrified Pott, 'I didn't say I believed it;--I--'
but the unfortunate man's voice was drowned in the
screaming of his partner.
'Mrs. Pott, let me entreat you, my dear ma'am, to compose
yourself,' said Mr. Winkle; but the shrieks and tappings were
louder, and more frequent than ever.
'My dear,' said Mr. Pott, 'I'm very sorry. If you won't consider
your own health, consider me, my dear. We shall have a crowd
round the house.' But the more strenuously Mr. Pott entreated,
the more vehemently the screams poured forth.
Very fortunately, however, attached to Mrs. Pott's person was
a bodyguard of one, a young lady whose ostensible employment
was to preside over her toilet, but who rendered herself useful in
a variety of ways, and in none more so than in the particular
department of constantly aiding and abetting her mistress in
every wish and inclination opposed to the desires of the unhappy
Pott. The screams reached this young lady's ears in due course,
and brought her into the room with a speed which threatened to
derange, materially, the very exquisite arrangement of her cap
'Oh, my dear, dear mistress!' exclaimed the bodyguard,
kneeling frantically by the side of the prostrate Mrs. Pott. 'Oh,
my dear mistress, what is the matter?'
'Your master--your brutal master,' murmured the patient.
Pott was evidently giving way.
'It's a shame,' said the bodyguard reproachfully. 'I know he'll
be the death on you, ma'am. Poor dear thing!'
He gave way more. The opposite party followed up the attack.
'Oh, don't leave me--don't leave me, Goodwin,' murmured
Mrs. Pott, clutching at the wrist of the said Goodwin with an
hysteric jerk. 'You're the only person that's kind to me, Goodwin.'
At this affecting appeal, Goodwin got up a little domestic
tragedy of her own, and shed tears copiously.
'Never, ma'am--never,' said Goodwin.'Oh, sir, you should be
careful--you should indeed; you don't know what harm you may
do missis; you'll be sorry for it one day, I know--I've always
The unlucky Pott looked timidly on, but said nothing.
'Goodwin,' said Mrs. Pott, in a soft voice.
'Ma'am,' said Goodwin.
'If you only knew how I have loved that man--'
'Don't distress yourself by recollecting it, ma'am,' said the bodyguard.
Pott looked very frightened. It was time to finish him.
'And now,' sobbed Mrs. Pott, 'now, after all, to be treated in
this way; to be reproached and insulted in the presence of a
third party, and that party almost a stranger. But I will not
submit to it! Goodwin,' continued Mrs. Pott, raising herself in
the arms of her attendant, 'my brother, the lieutenant, shall
interfere. I'll be separated, Goodwin!'
'It would certainly serve him right, ma'am,' said Goodwin.
Whatever thoughts the threat of a separation might have
awakened in Mr. Pott's mind, he forbore to give utterance to
them, and contented himself by saying, with great humility:--
'My dear, will you hear me?'
A fresh train of sobs was the only reply, as Mrs. Pott grew
more hysterical, requested to be informed why she was ever born,
and required sundry other pieces of information of a similar description.
'My dear,' remonstrated Mr. Pott, 'do not give way to these
sensitive feelings. I never believed that the paragraph had any
foundation, my dear--impossible. I was only angry, my dear--I
may say outrageous--with the INDEPENDENT people for daring to
insert it; that's all.' Mr. Pott cast an imploring look at the
innocent cause of the mischief, as if to entreat him to say nothing
about the serpent.
'And what steps, sir, do you mean to take to obtain redress?'
inquired Mr. Winkle, gaining courage as he saw Pott losing it.
'Oh, Goodwin,' observed Mrs. Pott, 'does he mean to horsewhip
the editor of the INDEPENDENT--does he, Goodwin?'
'Hush, hush, ma'am; pray keep yourself quiet,' replied the
bodyguard. 'I dare say he will, if you wish it, ma'am.'
'Certainly,' said Pott, as his wife evinced decided symptoms of
going off again. 'Of course I shall.'
'When, Goodwin--when?' said Mrs. Pott, still undecided
about the going off.
'Immediately, of course,' said Mr. Pott; 'before the day is out.'
'Oh, Goodwin,' resumed Mrs. Pott, 'it's the only way of
meeting the slander, and setting me right with the world.'
'Certainly, ma'am,' replied Goodwin. 'No man as is a man,
ma'am, could refuse to do it.'
So, as the hysterics were still hovering about, Mr. Pott said
once more that he would do it; but Mrs. Pott was so overcome at
the bare idea of having ever been suspected, that she was half a
dozen times on the very verge of a relapse, and most unquestionably
would have gone off, had it not been for the indefatigable
efforts of the assiduous Goodwin, and repeated entreaties for
pardon from the conquered Pott; and finally, when that unhappy
individual had been frightened and snubbed down to his proper
level, Mrs. Pott recovered, and they went to breakfast.
'You will not allow this base newspaper slander to shorten
your stay here, Mr. Winkle?' said Mrs. Pott, smiling through the
traces of her tears.
'I hope not,' said Mr. Pott, actuated, as he spoke, by a wish
that his visitor would choke himself with the morsel of dry toast
which he was raising to his lips at the moment, and so terminate
his stay effectually.
'I hope not.'
'You are very good,' said Mr. Winkle; 'but a letter has been
received from Mr. Pickwick--so I learn by a note from Mr.
Tupman, which was brought up to my bedroom door, this
morning--in which he requests us to join him at Bury to-day;
and we are to leave by the coach at noon.'
'But you will come back?' said Mrs. Pott.
'Oh, certainly,' replied Mr. Winkle.
'You are quite sure?' said Mrs. Pott, stealing a tender look at
'Quite,' responded Mr. Winkle.
The breakfast passed off in silence, for each of the party was
brooding over his, or her, own personal grievances. Mrs. Pott
was regretting the loss of a beau; Mr. Pott his rash pledge to
horsewhip the INDEPENDENT; Mr. Winkle his having innocently
placed himself in so awkward a situation. Noon approached, and
after many adieux and promises to return, he tore himself away.
'If he ever comes back, I'll poison him,' thought Mr. Pott, as
he turned into the little back office where he prepared his thunderbolts.
'If I ever do come back, and mix myself up with these people
again,'thought Mr. Winkle, as he wended his way to the Peacock,
'I shall deserve to be horsewhipped myself--that's all.'
His friends were ready, the coach was nearly so, and in half an
hour they were proceeding on their journey, along the road over
which Mr. Pickwick and Sam had so recently travelled, and of
which, as we have already said something, we do not feel called
upon to extract Mr. Snodgrass's poetical and beautiful description.
Mr. Weller was standing at the door of the Angel, ready to
receive them, and by that gentleman they were ushered to the
apartment of Mr. Pickwick, where, to the no small surprise of
Mr. Winkle and Mr. Snodgrass, and the no small embarrassment
of Mr. Tupman, they found old Wardle and Trundle.
'How are you?' said the old man, grasping Mr. Tupman's
hand. 'Don't hang back, or look sentimental about it; it can't be
helped, old fellow. For her sake, I wish you'd had her; for your
own, I'm very glad you have not. A young fellow like you will do
better one of these days, eh?' With this conclusion, Wardle
slapped Mr. Tupman on the back, and laughed heartily.
'Well, and how are you, my fine fellows?' said the old gentleman,
shaking hands with Mr. Winkle and Mr. Snodgrass at the
same time. 'I have just been telling Pickwick that we must have
you all down at Christmas. We're going to have a wedding--a
real wedding this time.'
'A wedding!' exclaimed Mr. Snodgrass, turning very pale.
'Yes, a wedding. But don't be frightened,' said the good-
humoured old man; 'it's only Trundle there, and Bella.'
'Oh, is that all?' said Mr. Snodgrass, relieved from a painful
doubt which had fallen heavily on his breast. 'Give you joy, Sir.
How is Joe?'
'Very well,' replied the old gentleman. 'Sleepy as ever.'
'And your mother, and the clergyman, and all of 'em?'
'Where,' said Mr. Tupman, with an effort--'where is--SHE,
Sir?' and he turned away his head, and covered his eyes with his hand.
'SHE!' said the old gentleman, with a knowing shake of the
head. 'Do you mean my single relative--eh?'
Mr. Tupman, by a nod, intimated that his question applied to
the disappointed Rachael.
'Oh, she's gone away,' said the old gentleman. 'She's living at
a relation's, far enough off. She couldn't bear to see the girls, so I
let her go. But come! Here's the dinner. You must be hungry
after your ride. I am, without any ride at all; so let us fall to.'
Ample justice was done to the meal; and when they were
seated round the table, after it had been disposed of, Mr. Pickwick,
to the intense horror and indignation of his followers,
related the adventure he had undergone, and the success which
had attended the base artifices of the diabolical Jingle.
'And the attack of rheumatism which I caught in that garden,'
said Mr. Pickwick, in conclusion, 'renders me lame at this
'I, too, have had something of an adventure,' said Mr. Winkle,
with a smile; and, at the request of Mr. Pickwick, he detailed the
malicious libel of the Eatanswill INDEPENDENT, and the consequent
excitement of their friend, the editor.
Mr. Pickwick's brow darkened during the recital. His friends
observed it, and, when Mr. Winkle had concluded, maintained a
profound silence. Mr. Pickwick struck the table emphatically
with his clenched fist, and spoke as follows:--
'Is it not a wonderful circumstance,' said Mr. Pickwick, 'that
we seem destined to enter no man's house without involving him
in some degree of trouble? Does it not, I ask, bespeak the
indiscretion, or, worse than that, the blackness of heart--that I
should say so!--of my followers, that, beneath whatever roof
they locate, they disturb the peace of mind and happiness of
some confiding female? Is it not, I say--'
Mr. Pickwick would in all probability have gone on for some
time, had not the entrance of Sam, with a letter, caused him to
break off in his eloquent discourse. He passed his handkerchief
across his forehead, took off his spectacles, wiped them, and put
them on again; and his voice had recovered its wonted softness of
tone when he said--
'What have you there, Sam?'
'Called at the post-office just now, and found this here letter,
as has laid there for two days,' replied Mr. Weller. 'It's sealed
vith a vafer, and directed in round hand.'
'I don't know this hand,' said Mr. Pickwick, opening the
letter. 'Mercy on us! what's this? It must be a jest; it--it--can't
'What's the matter?' was the general inquiry.
'Nobody dead, is there?' said Wardle, alarmed at the horror in
Mr. Pickwick's countenance.
Mr. Pickwick made no reply, but, pushing the letter across the
table, and desiring Mr. Tupman to read it aloud, fell back in his
chair with a look of vacant astonishment quite alarming to
Mr. Tupman, with a trembling voice, read the letter, of which
the following is a copy:--
Freeman's Court, Cornhill,
August 28th, 1827.
Bardell against Pickwick.
Having been instructed by Mrs. Martha Bardell to commence
an action against you for a breach of promise of marriage, for which
the plaintiff lays her damages at fifteen hundred pounds, we beg to
inform you that a writ has been issued against you in this suit in the
Court of Common Pleas; and request to know, by return of post, the
name of your attorney in London, who will accept service thereof.
We are, Sir,
Your obedient servants,
Dodson & Fogg.
Mr. Samuel Pickwick.
There was something so impressive in the mute astonishment
with which each man regarded his neighbour, and every man
regarded Mr. Pickwick, that all seemed afraid to speak. The
silence was at length broken by Mr. Tupman.
'Dodson and Fogg,' he repeated mechanically.
'Bardell and Pickwick,' said Mr. Snodgrass, musing.
'Peace of mind and happiness of confiding females,' murmured
Mr. Winkle, with an air of abstraction.
'It's a conspiracy,' said Mr. Pickwick, at length recovering the
power of speech; 'a base conspiracy between these two grasping
attorneys, Dodson and Fogg. Mrs. Bardell would never do it;--
she hasn't the heart to do it;--she hasn't the case to do it.
'Of her heart,' said Wardle, with a smile, 'you should certainly
be the best judge. I don't wish to discourage you, but I should
certainly say that, of her case, Dodson and Fogg are far better
judges than any of us can be.'
'It's a vile attempt to extort money,' said Mr. Pickwick.
'I hope it is,' said Wardle, with a short, dry cough.
'Who ever heard me address her in any way but that in which
a lodger would address his landlady?' continued Mr. Pickwick,
with great vehemence. 'Who ever saw me with her? Not even my