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The Pickwick Papers
The Sea Wolf
replied the laundress. I have very particular business with him, said Mr. Pickwick. Wont it do in the morning? said the woman. Not so well, replied Mr. Pickwick. Well, said the old woman, if it was anything very particular, I was to say where he was, so I suppose theres no harm in telling. If you just go to the Magpie and Stump, and ask at the bar for Mr. Lowten, theyll show you in to him, and hes Mr. Perkers clerk. With this direction, and having been furthermore informed that the hostelry in question was situated in a court, happy in the double advantage of being in the vicinity of Clare Market, and closely approximating to the back of New Inn, Mr. Pickwick and Sam descended the rickety staircase in safety, and issued forth in quest of the Magpie and Stump. This favoured tavern, sacred to the evening orgies of Mr. Lowten and his companions, was what ordinary people would designate a public-house. That the landlord was a man of money- making turn was sufficiently testified by the fact of a small bulkhead beneath the tap-room window, in size and shape not unlike a sedan-chair, being underlet to a mender of shoes: and that he was a being of a philanthropic mind was evident from the protection he afforded to a pieman, who vended his delicacies without fear of interruption, on the very door-step. In the lower windows, which were decorated with curtains of a saffron hue, dangled two or three printed cards, bearing reference to Devonshire cider and Dantzic spruce, while a large blackboard, announcing in white letters to an enlightened public, that there were 500,000 barrels of double stout in the cellars of the establishment, left the mind in a state of not unpleasing doubt and uncertainty as to the precise direction in the bowels of the earth, in which this mighty cavern might be supposed to extend. When we add that the weather-beaten signboard bore the half-obliterated semblance of a magpie intently eyeing a crooked streak of brown paint, which the neighbours had been taught from infancy to consider as the stump, we have said all that need be said of the exterior of the edifice. On Mr. Pickwicks presenting himself at the bar, an elderly female emerged from behind the screen therein, and presented herself before him. Is Mr. Lowten here, maam? inquired Mr. Pickwick. Yes, he is, Sir, replied the landlady. Here, Charley, show the gentleman in to Mr. Lowten. The genlmn cant go in just now, said a shambling pot-boy, with a red head, cos Mr. Lowtens a-singin a comic song, and hell put him out. Hell be done directly, Sir. The red-headed pot-boy had scarcely finished speaking, when a most unanimous hammering of tables, and jingling of glasses, announced that the song had that instant terminated; and Mr. Pickwick, after desiring Sam to solace himself in the tap, suffered himself to be conducted into the presence of Mr. Lowten. At the announcement of A gentleman to speak to you, Sir, a puffy-faced young man, who filled the chair at the head of the table, looked with some surprise in the direction from whence the voice proceeded; and the surprise seemed to be by no means diminished, when his eyes rested on an individual whom he had never seen before. I beg your pardon, Sir, said Mr. Pickwick, and I am very sorry to disturb the other gentlemen, too, but I come on very particular business; and if you will suffer me to detain you at this end of the room for five minutes, I shall be very much obliged to you. The puffy-faced young man rose, and drawing a chair close to Mr. Pickwick in an obscure corner of the room, listened attentively to his tale of woe. Ah,he said, when Mr. Pickwick had concluded, Dodson and Fogg--sharp practice theirs--capital men of business, Dodson and Fogg, sir. Mr. Pickwick admitted the sharp practice of Dodson and Fogg, and Lowten resumed. Perker aint in town, and he wont be, neither, before the end of next week; but if you want the action defended, and will leave the copy with me, I can do all thats needful till he comes back. Thats exactly what I came here for, said Mr. Pickwick, handing over the document. If anything particular occurs, you can write to me at the post-office, Ipswich. Thats all right, replied Mr. Perkers clerk; and then seeing Mr. Pickwicks eye wandering curiously towards the table, he added, will you join us, for half an hour or so? We are capital company here to-night.
The Pickwick Papers page 132 The Pickwick Papers page 134