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The Pickwick Papers 116







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The Pickwick Papers

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vow, What you cannot help now, And handed her over to W*****" What, said Mr. Pott solemnly--what rhymes to "tinkle," villain? 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, maam--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, maam--"Lines to a Brass Pot." "Brass Pot"; thats me, maam. "False SHED have grown"; thats you, maam--you. With this ebullition of rage, which was not unaccompanied with something like a tremble, at the expression of his wifes 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 didnt say I believed it;--I-- but the unfortunate mans voice was drowned in the screaming of his partner. Mrs. Pott, let me entreat you, my dear maam, to compose yourself, said Mr. Winkle; but the shrieks and tappings were louder, and more frequent than ever. My dear, said Mr. Pott, Im very sorry. If you wont 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. Potts 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 ladys 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 and ringlets. 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. Its a shame, said the bodyguard reproachfully. I know hell be the death on you, maam. Poor dear thing! He gave way more. The opposite party followed up the attack. Oh, dont leave me--dont leave me, Goodwin, murmured Mrs. Pott, clutching at the wrist of the said Goodwin with an hysteric jerk. Youre the only person thats kind to me, Goodwin. At this affecting appeal, Goodwin got up a little domestic tragedy of her own, and shed tears copiously. Never, maam--never, said Goodwin.Oh, sir, you should be careful--you should indeed; you dont know what harm you may do missis; youll be sorry for it one day, I know--Ive always said so. The unlucky Pott looked timidly on, but said nothing. Goodwin, said Mrs. Pott, in a soft voice. Maam, said Goodwin. If you only knew how I have loved that man-- Dont distress yourself by recollecting it, maam, 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

The Pickwick Papers page 115        The Pickwick Papers page 117