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The Pickwick Papers 120







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The Pickwick Papers

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out of his little round eye, with the contemptuous air of a bird of wisdom and experience, alike unconscious of their approaching doom, basked in the fresh morning air with lively and blithesome feelings, and a few hours afterwards were laid low upon the earth. But we grow affecting: let us proceed. In plain commonplace matter-of-fact, then, it was a fine morning--so fine that you would scarcely have believed that the few months of an English summer had yet flown by. Hedges, fields, and trees, hill and moorland, presented to the eye their ever-varying shades of deep rich green; scarce a leaf had fallen, scarce a sprinkle of yellow mingled with the hues of summer, warned you that autumn had begun. The sky was cloudless; the sun shone out bright and warm; the songs of birds, the hum of myriads of summer insects, filled the air; and the cottage gardens, crowded with flowers of every rich and beautiful tint, sparkled, in the heavy dew, like beds of glittering jewels. Everything bore the stamp of summer, and none of its beautiful colour had yet faded from the die. Such was the morning, when an open carriage, in which were three Pickwickians (Mr. Snodgrass having preferred to remain at home), Mr. Wardle, and Mr. Trundle, with Sam Weller on the box beside the driver, pulled up by a gate at the roadside, before which stood a tall, raw-boned gamekeeper, and a half-booted, leather-legginged boy, each bearing a bag of capacious dimensions, and accompanied by a brace of pointers. I say, whispered Mr. Winkle to Wardle, as the man let down the steps, they dont suppose were going to kill game enough to fill those bags, do they? Fill them! exclaimed old Wardle. Bless you, yes! You shall fill one, and I the other; and when weve done with them, the pockets of our shooting-jackets will hold as much more. Mr. Winkle dismounted without saying anything in reply to this observation; but he thought within himself, that if the party remained in the open air, till he had filled one of the bags, they stood a considerable chance of catching colds in their heads. Hi, Juno, lass-hi, old girl; down, Daph, down, said Wardle, caressing the dogs. Sir Geoffrey still in Scotland, of course, Martin? The tall gamekeeper replied in the affirmative, and looked with some surprise from Mr. Winkle, who was holding his gun as if he wished his coat pocket to save him the trouble of pulling the trigger, to Mr. Tupman, who was holding his as if he was afraid of it--as there is no earthly reason to doubt he really was. My friends are not much in the way of this sort of thing yet, Martin, said Wardle, noticing the look. Live and learn, you know. Theyll be good shots one of these days. I beg my friend Winkles pardon, though; he has had some practice. Mr. Winkle smiled feebly over his blue neckerchief in acknowledgment of the compliment, and got himself so mysteriously entangled with his gun, in his modest confusion, that if the piece had been loaded, he must inevitably have shot himself dead upon the spot. You mustnt handle your piece in that ere way, when you come to have the charge in it, Sir, said the tall gamekeeper gruffly; or Im damned if you wont make cold meat of some on us. Mr. Winkle, thus admonished, abruptly altered his position, and in so doing, contrived to bring the barrel into pretty smart contact with Mr. Wellers head. Hollo! said Sam, picking up his hat, which had been knocked off, and rubbing his temple. Hollo, sir! if you comes it this vay, youll fill one o them bags, and something to spare, at one fire. Here the leather-legginged boy laughed very heartily, and then tried to look as if it was somebody else, whereat Mr. Winkle frowned majestically. Where did you tell the boy to meet us with the snack, Martin? inquired Wardle. Side of One-tree Hill, at twelve oclock, Sir. Thats not Sir Geoffreys land, is it? No, Sir; but its close by it. Its Captain Boldwigs land; but therell be nobody to interrupt us, and theres a fine bit of turf there. Very well, said old Wardle. Now the sooner were off the better. Will you join us at twelve, then, Pickwick? Mr. Pickwick was particularly desirous to view the sport, the more especially as he was rather anxious in respect of Mr. Winkles life and limbs. On so inviting a morning, too, it was very tantalising

The Pickwick Papers page 119        The Pickwick Papers page 121