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The Pickwick Papers 109







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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 dont 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 maam, if you dont believe me. Send to the Angel for Mr. Pickwicks manservant, I implore you, maam. He must be respectable--he keeps a manservant, said Miss Tomkins to the writing and ciphering governess. Its my opinion, Miss Tomkins, said the writing and ciphering governess, that his manservant keeps him, I think hes a madman, Miss Tomkins, and the others 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, Mr. Trundle! My dear friend, said Mr. Pickwick, running forward and grasping Wardles hand, my dear friend, pray, for Heavens 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 a madman. 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 theres 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. Pickwicks 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 well give Winkle another chance--eh, old boy? Mr. Pickwick made no reply, he did not even ask after his friends at Dingley Dell, and shortly afterwards retired

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