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The Pickwick Papers 10







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The Pickwick Papers

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his head, and an extensive bald plain on the top of it--Doctor Slammer, surgeon to the 97th. The doctor took snuff with everybody, chatted with everybody, laughed, danced, made jokes, played whist, did everything, and was everywhere. To these pursuits, multifarious as they were, the little doctor added a more important one than any--he was indefatigable in paying the most unremitting and devoted attention to a little old widow, whose rich dress and profusion of ornament bespoke her a most desirable addition to a limited income. Upon the doctor, and the widow, the eyes of both Mr. Tupman and his companion had been fixed for some time, when the stranger broke silence. Lots of money--old girl--pompous doctor--not a bad idea-- good fun, were the intelligible sentences which issued from his lips. Mr. Tupman looked inquisitively in his face. Ill dance with the widow, said the stranger. Who is she? inquired Mr. Tupman. Dont know--never saw her in all my life--cut out the doctor --here goes. And the stranger forthwith crossed the room; and, leaning against a mantel-piece, commenced gazing with an air of respectful and melancholy admiration on the fat countenance of the little old lady. Mr. Tupman looked on, in mute astonishment. The stranger progressed rapidly; the little doctor danced with another lady; the widow dropped her fan; the stranger picked it up, and presented it--a smile--a bow--a curtsey--a few words of conversation. The stranger walked boldly up to, and returned with, the master of the ceremonies; a little introductory pantomime; and the stranger and Mrs. Budger took their places in a quadrille. The surprise of Mr. Tupman at this summary proceeding, great as it was, was immeasurably exceeded by the astonishment of the doctor. The stranger was young, and the widow was flattered. The doctors attentions were unheeded by the widow; and the doctors indignation was wholly lost on his imperturbable rival. Doctor Slammer was paralysed. He, Doctor Slammer, of the 97th, to be extinguished in a moment, by a man whom nobody had ever seen before, and whom nobody knew even now! Doctor Slammer--Doctor Slammer of the 97th rejected! Impossible! It could not be! Yes, it was; there they were. What! introducing his friend! Could he believe his eyes! He looked again, and was under the painful necessity of admitting the veracity of his optics; Mrs. Budger was dancing with Mr. Tracy Tupman; there was no mistaking the fact. There was the widow before him, bouncing bodily here and there, with unwonted vigour; and Mr. Tracy Tupman hopping about, with a face expressive of the most intense solemnity, dancing (as a good many people do) as if a quadrille were not a thing to be laughed at, but a severe trial to the feelings, which it requires inflexible resolution to encounter. Silently and patiently did the doctor bear all this, and all the handings of negus, and watching for glasses, and darting for biscuits, and coquetting, that ensued; but, a few seconds after the stranger had disappeared to lead Mrs. Budger to her carriage, he darted swiftly from the room with every particle of his hitherto- bottled-up indignation effervescing, from all parts of his countenance, in a perspiration of passion. The stranger was returning, and Mr. Tupman was beside him. He spoke in a low tone, and laughed. The little doctor thirsted for his life. He was exulting. He had triumphed. Sir! said the doctor, in an awful voice, producing a card, and retiring into an angle of the passage, my name is Slammer, Doctor Slammer, sir--97th Regiment--Chatham Barracks--my card, Sir, my card. He would have added more, but his indignation choked him. Ah! replied the stranger coolly, Slammer--much obliged-- polite attention--not ill now, Slammer--but when I am--knock you up. You--youre a shuffler, sir, gasped the furious doctor, a poltroon--a coward--a liar--a--a--will nothing induce you to give me your card, sir! Oh! I see, said the stranger, half aside, negus too strong here --liberal landlord--very foolish--very--lemonade much better --hot rooms--elderly gentlemen--suffer for it in the morning-- cruel--cruel; and he moved on a step or two. You are stopping in this house, Sir, said the indignant little man; you are intoxicated now, Sir; you shall hear from me in the morning, sir. I shall find you out, sir; I shall find you out. Rather you found me out than found me at home, replied the unmoved stranger. Doctor Slammer looked unutterable ferocity, as he fixed his hat on his head with an indignant knock; and the stranger and Mr. Tupman ascended to the bedroom of the latter to restore the borrowed plumage to the

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