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The Pickwick Papers 126







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The Pickwick Papers

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Pickwick had been wheeled to the pound, and safely deposited therein, fast asleep in the wheel-barrow, to the immeasurable delight and satisfaction not only of all the boys in the village, but three-fourths of the whole population, who had gathered round, in expectation of his waking. If their most intense gratification had been awakened by seeing him wheeled in, how many hundredfold was their joy increased when, after a few indistinct cries of Sam! he sat up in the barrow, and gazed with indescribable astonishment on the faces before him. A general shout was of course the signal of his having woke up; and his involuntary inquiry of Whats the matter? occasioned another, louder than the first, if possible. Heres a game! roared the populace. Where am I? exclaimed Mr. Pickwick. In the pound, replied the mob. How came I here? What was I doing? Where was I brought from? Boldwig! Captain Boldwig! was the only reply. Let me out, cried Mr. Pickwick. Wheres my servant? Where are my friends? You aint got no friends. Hurrah! Then there came a turnip, then a potato, and then an egg; with a few other little tokens of the playful disposition of the many-headed. How long this scene might have lasted, or how much Mr. Pickwick might have suffered, no one can tell, had not a carriage, which was driving swiftly by, suddenly pulled up, from whence there descended old Wardle and Sam Weller, the former of whom, in far less time than it takes to write it, if not to read it, had made his way to Mr. Pickwicks side, and placed him in the vehicle, just as the latter had concluded the third and last round of a single combat with the town-beadle. Run to the justices! cried a dozen voices. Ah, run avay, said Mr. Weller, jumping up on the box. Give my compliments--Mr. Vellers compliments--to the justice, and tell him Ive spiled his beadle, and that, if hell swear in a new un, Ill come back again to-morrow and spile him. Drive on, old feller. Ill give directions for the commencement of an action for false imprisonment against this Captain Boldwig, directly I get to London, said Mr. Pickwick, as soon as the carriage turned out of the town. We were trespassing, it seems, said Wardle. I dont care, said Mr. Pickwick, Ill bring the action. No, you wont, said Wardle. I will, by-- But as there was a humorous expression in Wardles face, Mr. Pickwick checked himself, and said, Why not? Because, said old Wardle, half-bursting with laughter, because they might turn on some of us, and say we had taken too much cold punch. Do what he would, a smile would come into Mr. Pickwicks face; the smile extended into a laugh; the laugh into a roar; the roar became general. So, to keep up their good-humour, they stopped at the first roadside tavern they came to, and ordered a glass of brandy-and-water all round, with a magnum of extra strength for Mr. Samuel Weller.

CHAPTER XX

SHOWING HOW DODSON AND FOGG WERE MEN OF BUSINESS, AND THEIR CLERKS MEN OF PLEASURE; AND HOW AN AFFECTING INTERVIEW TOOK PLACE BETWEEN Mr. WELLER AND HIS LONG-LOST PARENT; SHOWING ALSO WHAT CHOICE SPIRITS ASSEMBLED AT THE MAGPIE AND STUMP, AND WHAT A CAPITAL CHAPTER THE NEXT ONE WILL BE

In the ground-floor front of a dingy house, at the very farthest end of Freemans Court, Cornhill, sat the four clerks of Messrs. Dodson & Fogg, two of his Majestys attorneys of the courts of Kings Bench and Common Pleas at Westminster, and solicitors of the High Court of Chancery--the aforesaid clerks catching as favourable glimpses of heavens light and heavens sun, in the course of their daily labours, as a man might hope to do, were he placed at the bottom of a reasonably deep well; and without the opportunity of perceiving the stars in the day-time, which the latter secluded situation affords. The clerks office of Messrs. Dodson & Fogg was a dark, mouldy, earthy-smelling room, with a high wainscotted partition to screen the clerks from the vulgar gaze, a couple of old wooden chairs, a very loud-ticking clock, an almanac, an umbrella-stand, a row of hat-pegs, and a few shelves, on which were deposited several ticketed bundles of dirty papers, some old deal boxes with paper labels, and sundry decayed stone ink bottles of various shapes and sizes. There was a glass door leading into the passage which

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