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The Pickwick Papers 11







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The Pickwick Papers

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unconscious Winkle. That gentleman was fast asleep; the restoration was soon made. The stranger was extremely jocose; and Mr. Tracy Tupman, being quite bewildered with wine, negus, lights, and ladies, thought the whole affair was an exquisite joke. His new friend departed; and, after experiencing some slight difficulty in finding the orifice in his nightcap, originally intended for the reception of his head, and finally overturning his candlestick in his struggles to put it on, Mr. Tracy Tupman managed to get into bed by a series of complicated evolutions, and shortly afterwards sank into repose. Seven oclock had hardly ceased striking on the following morning, when Mr. Pickwicks comprehensive mind was aroused from the state of unconsciousness, in which slumber had plunged it, by a loud knocking at his chamber door. Whos there? said Mr. Pickwick, starting up in bed. Boots, sir. What do you want? Please, sir, can you tell me which gentleman of your party wears a bright blue dress-coat, with a gilt button with "P. C." on it? Its been given out to brush, thought Mr. Pickwick, and the man has forgotten whom it belongs to. Mr. Winkle,he called out, next room but two, on the right hand. Thankee, sir, said the Boots, and away he went. Whats the matter? cried Mr. Tupman, as a loud knocking at his door roused hint from his oblivious repose. Can I speak to Mr. Winkle, sir? replied Boots from the outside. Winkle--Winkle! shouted Mr. Tupman, calling into the inner room. Hollo! replied a faint voice from within the bed-clothes. Youre wanted--some one at the door; and, having exerted himself to articulate thus much, Mr. Tracy Tupman turned round and fell fast asleep again. Wanted! said Mr. Winkle, hastily jumping out of bed, and putting on a few articles of clothing; wanted! at this distance from town--who on earth can want me? Gentleman in the coffee-room, sir, replied the Boots, as Mr. Winkle opened the door and confronted him; gentleman says hell not detain you a moment, Sir, but he can take no denial. Very odd! said Mr. Winkle; Ill be down directly. He hurriedly wrapped himself in a travelling-shawl and dressing-gown, and proceeded downstairs. An old woman and a couple of waiters were cleaning the coffee-room, and an officer in undress uniform was looking out of the window. He turned round as Mr. Winkle entered, and made a stiff inclination of the head. Having ordered the attendants to retire, and closed the door very carefully, he said, Mr. Winkle, I presume? My name is Winkle, sir. You will not be surprised, sir, when I inform you that I have called here this morning on behalf of my friend, Doctor Slammer, of the 97th. Doctor Slammer! said Mr. Winkle. Doctor Slammer. He begged me to express his opinion that your conduct of last evening was of a description which no gentleman could endure; and (he added) which no one gentleman would pursue towards another. Mr. Winkles astonishment was too real, and too evident, to escape the observation of Doctor Slammers friend; he therefore proceeded--My friend, Doctor Slammer, requested me to add, that he was firmly persuaded you were intoxicated during a portion of the evening, and possibly unconscious of the extent of the insult you were guilty of. He commissioned me to say, that should this be pleaded as an excuse for your behaviour, he will consent to accept a written apology, to be penned by you, from my dictation. A written apology! repeated Mr. Winkle, in the most emphatic tone of amazement possible. Of course you know the alternative, replied the visitor coolly. Were you intrusted with this message to me by name? inquired Mr. Winkle, whose intellects were hopelessly confused by this extraordinary conversation. I was not present myself, replied the visitor, and in consequence of your firm refusal to give your card to Doctor Slammer, I was desired by that gentleman to identify the wearer of a very uncommon coat--a bright blue dress-coat, with a gilt button displaying a bust, and the letters "P. C." Mr. Winkle actually staggered with astonishment as he heard his own costume thus minutely described. Doctor Slammers friend proceeded:--From the inquiries I made at the bar, just now, I was convinced that the owner of the coat in question arrived here, with three gentlemen, yesterday afternoon. I immediately sent up to the gentleman who was described as appearing the head of the party, and he at once referred me to you. If the principal tower of Rochester Castle had suddenly walked from its foundation, and stationed itself opposite the coffee-room window, Mr. Winkles surprise would have been as nothing compared

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