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The Pickwick Papers 146







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The Pickwick Papers

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surveying Mr. Weller from head to foot with a supercilious look. Friend of yours, sir? Not exactly a friend, replied Mr. Pickwick, in a low tone. The fact is, he is my servant, but I allow him to take a good many liberties; for, between ourselves, I flatter myself he is an original, and I am rather proud of him. Ah, said the red-haired man, that, you see, is a matter of taste. I am not fond of anything original; I dont like it; dont see the necessity for it. Whats your name, sir? Here is my card, sir, replied Mr. Pickwick, much amused by the abruptness of the question, and the singular manner of the stranger. Ah, said the red-haired man, placing the card in his pocket- book, Pickwick; very good. I like to know a mans name, it saves so much trouble. Thats my card, sir. Magnus, you will perceive, sir--Magnus is my name. Its rather a good name, I think, sir. A very good name, indeed, said Mr. Pickwick, wholly unable to repress a smile. Yes, I think it is, resumed Mr. Magnus. Theres a good name before it, too, you will observe. Permit me, sir--if you hold the card a little slanting, this way, you catch the light upon the up-stroke. There--Peter Magnus--sounds well, I think, sir. Very, said Mr. Pickwick. Curious circumstance about those initials, sir, said Mr. Magnus. You will observe--P.M.--post meridian. In hasty notes to intimate acquaintance, I sometimes sign myself "Afternoon." It amuses my friends very much, Mr. Pickwick. It is calculated to afford them the highest gratification, I should conceive, said Mr. Pickwick, rather envying the ease with which Mr. Magnuss friends were entertained. Now, genlmn, said the hostler, coach is ready, if you please. Is all my luggage in? inquired Mr. Magnus. All right, sir. Is the red bag in? All right, Sir. And the striped bag? Fore boot, Sir. And the brown-paper parcel? Under the seat, Sir. And the leather hat-box? Theyre all in, Sir. Now, will you get up? said Mr. Pickwick. Excuse me, replied Magnus, standing on the wheel. Excuse me, Mr. Pickwick. I cannot consent to get up, in this state of uncertainty. I am quite satisfied from that mans manner, that the leather hat-box is not in. The solemn protestations of the hostler being wholly unavailing, the leather hat-box was obliged to be raked up from the lowest depth of the boot, to satisfy him that it had been safely packed; and after he had been assured on this head, he felt a solemn presentiment, first, that the red bag was mislaid, and next that the striped bag had been stolen, and then that the brown-paper parcel had come untied. At length when he had received ocular demonstration of the groundless nature of each and every of these suspicions, he consented to climb up to the roof of the coach, observing that now he had taken everything off his mind, he felt quite comfortable and happy. Youre given to nervousness, aint you, Sir? inquired Mr. Weller, senior, eyeing the stranger askance, as he mounted to his place. Yes; I always am rather about these little matters, said the stranger, but I am all right now--quite right. Well, thats a blessin, said Mr. Weller. Sammy, help your master up to the box; tother leg, Sir, thats it; give us your hand, Sir. Up with you. You was a lighter weight when you was a boy, sir. True enough, that, Mr. Weller, said the breathless Mr. Pickwick good-humouredly, as he took his seat on the box beside him. Jump up in front, Sammy, said Mr. Weller. Now Villam, run em out. Take care o the archvay, genlmn. "Heads," as the pieman says. Thatll do, Villam. Let em alone. And away went the coach up Whitechapel, to the admiration of the whole population of that pretty densely populated quarter. Not a wery nice neighbourhood, this, Sir, said Sam, with a touch of the hat, which always preceded his entering into conversation with his master. It is not indeed, Sam, replied Mr. Pickwick, surveying the crowded and filthy street through which they were passing. Its a wery remarkable circumstance, Sir, said Sam, that poverty and oysters always seem to go together. I dont understand you, Sam, said Mr. Pickwick. What I mean, sir, said Sam, is, that the poorer a place is, the greater call there seems to be for oysters. Look here, sir; heres a oyster-stall to every half-dozen houses. The streets

The Pickwick Papers page 145        The Pickwick Papers page 147