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The Pickwick Papers 148







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the dispiriting influence of the place. After the lapse of an hour, a bit of fish and a steak was served up to the travellers, and when the dinner was cleared away, Mr. Pickwick and Mr. Peter Magnus drew their chairs up to the fire, and having ordered a bottle of the worst possible port wine, at the highest possible price, for the good of the house, drank brandy-and-water for their own. Mr. Peter Magnus was naturally of a very communicative disposition, and the brandy-and-water operated with wonderful effect in warming into life the deepest hidden secrets of his bosom. After sundry accounts of himself, his family, his connections, his friends, his jokes, his business, and his brothers (most talkative men have a great deal to say about their brothers), Mr. Peter Magnus took a view of Mr. Pickwick through his coloured spectacles for several minutes, and then said, with an air of modesty-- And what do you think--what DO you think, Mr. Pickwick--I have come down here for? Upon my word, said Mr. Pickwick, it is wholly impossible for me to guess; on business, perhaps. Partly right, Sir, replied Mr. Peter Magnus, but partly wrong at the same time; try again, Mr. Pickwick. Really, said Mr. Pickwick, I must throw myself on your mercy, to tell me or not, as you may think best; for I should never guess, if I were to try all night. Why, then, he-he-he! said Mr. Peter Magnus, with a bashful titter, what should you think, Mr. Pickwick, if I had come down here to make a proposal, Sir, eh? He, he, he! Think! That you are very likely to succeed, replied Mr. Pickwick, with one of his beaming smiles. Ah! said Mr. Magnus. But do you really think so, Mr. Pickwick? Do you, though? Certainly, said Mr. Pickwick. No; but youre joking, though. I am not, indeed. Why, then, said Mr. Magnus, to let you into a little secret, I think so too. I dont mind telling you, Mr. Pickwick, although Im dreadful jealous by nature--horrid--that the lady is in this house. Here Mr. Magnus took off his spectacles, on purpose to wink, and then put them on again. Thats what you were running out of the room for, before dinner, then, so often, said Mr. Pickwick archly. Hush! Yes, youre right, that was it; not such a fool as to see her, though. No! No; wouldnt do, you know, after having just come off a journey. Wait till to-morrow, sir; double the chance then. Mr. Pickwick, Sir, there is a suit of clothes in that bag, and a hat in that box, which, I expect, in the effect they will produce, will be invaluable to me, sir. Indeed! said Mr. Pickwick. Yes; you must have observed my anxiety about them to-day. I do not believe that such another suit of clothes, and such a hat, could be bought for money, Mr. Pickwick. Mr. Pickwick congratulated the fortunate owner of the irresistible garments on their acquisition; and Mr. Peter Magnus remained a few moments apparently absorbed in contemplation. Shes a fine creature, said Mr. Magnus. Is she? said Mr. Pickwick. Very, said Mr. Magnus. very. She lives about twenty miles from here, Mr. Pickwick. I heard she would be here to-night and all to-morrow forenoon, and came down to seize the opportunity. I think an inn is a good sort of a place to propose to a single woman in, Mr. Pickwick. She is more likely to feel the loneliness of her situation in travelling, perhaps, than she would be at home. What do you think, Mr. Pickwick? I think it is very probable, replied that gentleman. I beg your pardon, Mr. Pickwick, said Mr. Peter Magnus, but I am naturally rather curious; what may you have come down here for? On a far less pleasant errand, Sir, replied Mr. Pickwick, the colour mounting to his face at the recollection. I have come down here, Sir, to expose the treachery and falsehood of an individual, upon whose truth and honour I placed implicit reliance. Dear me, said Mr. Peter Magnus, thats very unpleasant. It is a lady, I presume? Eh? ah! Sly, Mr. Pickwick, sly. Well, Mr. Pickwick, sir, I wouldnt probe your feelings for the world. Painful subjects, these, sir, very painful. Dont mind me, Mr. Pickwick, if you wish to give vent to your feelings. I know what it is to be jilted, Sir; I have endured that sort of thing three or four times. I am much obliged to you,

The Pickwick Papers page 147        The Pickwick Papers page 149