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The Pickwick Papers 118

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Martin Eden

The Pickwick Papers

The Sea Wolf

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. Tupmans hand. Dont hang back, or look sentimental about it; it cant be helped, old fellow. For her sake, I wish youd had her; for your own, Im 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. Were going to have a wedding--a real wedding this time. A wedding! exclaimed Mr. Snodgrass, turning very pale. Yes, a wedding. But dont be frightened, said the good- humoured old man; its 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? Quite well. 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, shes gone away, said the old gentleman. Shes living at a relations, far enough off. She couldnt bear to see the girls, so I let her go. But come! Heres 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 moment. 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. Pickwicks 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 mans 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. Its sealed vith a vafer, and directed in round hand. I dont know this hand, said Mr. Pickwick, opening the letter. Mercy on us! whats this? It must be a jest; it--it--cant be true. Whats the matter? was the general inquiry. Nobody dead, is there? said Wardle, alarmed at the horror in Mr. Pickwicks 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 behold. Mr. Tupman, with a trembling voice, read the letter, of which the following is a copy:-- Freemans Court, Cornhill, August 28th, 1827. Bardell against Pickwick. Sir, 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

The Pickwick Papers page 117        The Pickwick Papers page 119