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The Pickwick Papers 119







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her damages at fifteen hundred pounds, we beg to inform you that a writ has been issued against you in this suit in the Court of Common Pleas; and request to know, by return of post, the name of your attorney in London, who will accept service thereof. We are, Sir, Your obedient servants, Dodson & Fogg. Mr. Samuel Pickwick. There was something so impressive in the mute astonishment with which each man regarded his neighbour, and every man regarded Mr. Pickwick, that all seemed afraid to speak. The silence was at length broken by Mr. Tupman. Dodson and Fogg, he repeated mechanically. Bardell and Pickwick, said Mr. Snodgrass, musing. Peace of mind and happiness of confiding females, murmured Mr. Winkle, with an air of abstraction. Its a conspiracy, said Mr. Pickwick, at length recovering the power of speech; a base conspiracy between these two grasping attorneys, Dodson and Fogg. Mrs. Bardell would never do it;-- she hasnt the heart to do it;--she hasnt the case to do it. Ridiculous--ridiculous. Of her heart, said Wardle, with a smile, you should certainly be the best judge. I dont wish to discourage you, but I should certainly say that, of her case, Dodson and Fogg are far better judges than any of us can be. Its a vile attempt to extort money, said Mr. Pickwick. I hope it is, said Wardle, with a short, dry cough. Who ever heard me address her in any way but that in which a lodger would address his landlady? continued Mr. Pickwick, with great vehemence. Who ever saw me with her? Not even my friends here-- Except on one occasion, said Mr. Tupman. Mr. Pickwick changed colour. Ah, said Mr. Wardle. Well, thats important. There was nothing suspicious then, I suppose? Mr. Tupman glanced timidly at his leader. Why, said he, there was nothing suspicious; but--I dont know how it happened, mind--she certainly was reclining in his arms. Gracious powers! ejaculated Mr. Pickwick, as the recollection of the scene in question struck forcibly upon him; what a dreadful instance of the force of circumstances! So she was--so she was. And our friend was soothing her anguish, said Mr. Winkle, rather maliciously. So I was, said Mr. Pickwick. I dont deny it. So I was. Hollo! said Wardle; for a case in which theres nothing suspicious, this looks rather queer--eh, Pickwick? Ah, sly dog--sly dog! and he laughed till the glasses on the sideboard rang again. What a dreadful conjunction of appearances! exclaimed Mr. Pickwick, resting his chin upon his hands. Winkle-- Tupman--I beg your pardon for the observations I made just now. We are all the victims of circumstances, and I the greatest. With this apology Mr. Pickwick buried his head in his hands, and ruminated; while Wardle measured out a regular circle of nods and winks, addressed to the other members of the company. Ill have it explained, though, said Mr. Pickwick, raising his head and hammering the table. Ill see this Dodson and Fogg! Ill go to London to-morrow. Not to-morrow, said Wardle; youre too lame. Well, then, next day. Next day is the first of September, and youre pledged to ride out with us, as far as Sir Geoffrey Mannings grounds at all events, and to meet us at lunch, if you dont take the field. Well, then, the day after, said Mr. Pickwick; Thursday.--Sam! Sir, replied Mr. Weller. Take two places outside to London, on Thursday morning, for yourself and me. Wery well, Sir. Mr. Weller left the room, and departed slowly on his errand, with his hands in his pocket and his eyes fixed on the ground. Rum feller, the hemperor, said Mr. Weller, as he walked slowly up the street. Think o his makin up to that ere Mrs. Bardell--vith a little boy, too! Always the vay vith these here old uns howsoever, as is such steady goers to look at. I didnt think hed ha done it, though--I didnt think hed ha done it! Moralising in this strain, Mr. Samuel Weller bent his steps towards the booking-office.

CHAPTER XIX

A PLEASANT DAY WITH AN UNPLEASANT TERMINATION

The birds, who, happily for their own peace of mind and personal comfort, were in blissful ignorance of the preparations which had been making to astonish them, on the first of September, hailed it, no doubt, as one of the pleasantest mornings they had seen that season. Many a young partridge who strutted complacently among the stubble, with all the finicking coxcombry of youth, and many an older one who watched his levity

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