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The Pickwick Papers 152







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way in perfect darkness to a room which he had been wholly unable to discover with a light, and if he made the slightest noise in his fruitless attempts to do so, he stood every chance of being shot at, and perhaps killed, by some wakeful traveller. He had no resource but to remain where he was until daylight appeared. So after groping his way a few paces down the passage, and, to his infinite alarm, stumbling over several pairs of boots in so doing, Mr. Pickwick crouched into a little recess in the wall, to wait for morning, as philosophically as he might. He was not destined, however, to undergo this additional trial of patience; for he had not been long ensconced in his present concealment when, to his unspeakable horror, a man, bearing a light, appeared at the end of the passage. His horror was suddenly converted into joy, however, when he recognised the form of his faithful attendant. It was indeed Mr. Samuel Weller, who after sitting up thus late, in conversation with the boots, who was sitting up for the mail, was now about to retire to rest. Sam, said Mr. Pickwick, suddenly appearing before him, wheres my bedroom? Mr. Weller stared at his master with the most emphatic surprise; and it was not until the question had been repeated three several times, that he turned round, and led the way to the long-sought apartment. Sam, said Mr. Pickwick, as he got into bed, I have made one of the most extraordinary mistakes to-night, that ever were heard of. Wery likely, Sir, replied Mr. Weller drily. But of this I am determined, Sam, said Mr. Pickwick; that if I were to stop in this house for six months, I would never trust myself about it, alone, again. Thats the wery prudentest resolution as you could come to, Sir, replied Mr. Weller. You rayther want somebody to look arter you, Sir, when your judgment goes out a wisitin. What do you mean by that, Sam? said Mr. Pickwick. He raised himself in bed, and extended his hand, as if he were about to say something more; but suddenly checking himself, turned round, and bade his valet Good-night. Good-night, Sir, replied Mr. Weller. He paused when he got outside the door--shook his head--walked on--stopped-- snuffed the candle--shook his head again--and finally proceeded slowly to his chamber, apparently buried in the profoundest meditation.

CHAPTER XXIII

IN WHICH Mr. SAMUEL WELLER BEGINS TO DEVOTE HIS ENERGIES TO THE RETURN MATCH BETWEEN HIMSELF AND Mr. TROTTER

In a small room in the vicinity of the stableyard, betimes in the morning, which was ushered in by Mr. Pickwicks adventure with the middle--aged lady in the yellow curl-papers, sat Mr. Weller, senior, preparing himself for his journey to London. He was sitting in an excellent attitude for having his portrait taken; and here it is. It is very possible that at some earlier period of his career, Mr. Wellers profile might have presented a bold and determined outline. His face, however, had expanded under the influence of good living, and a disposition remarkable for resignation; and its bold, fleshy curves had so far extended beyond the limits originally assigned them, that unless you took a full view of his countenance in front, it was difficult to distinguish more than the extreme tip of a very rubicund nose. His chin, from the same cause, had acquired the grave and imposing form which is generally described by prefixing the word double to that expressive feature; and his complexion exhibited that peculiarly mottled combination of colours which is only to be seen in gentlemen of his profession, and in underdone roast beef. Round his neck he wore a crimson travelling-shawl, which merged into his chin by such imperceptible gradations, that it was difficult to distinguish the folds of the one, from the folds of the other. Over this, he mounted a long waistcoat of a broad pink-striped pattern, and over that again, a wide-skirted green coat, ornamented with large brass buttons, whereof the two which garnished the waist, were so far apart, that no man had ever beheld them both at the same time. His hair, which was short, sleek, and black, was just visible beneath the capacious brim of a low-crowned brown hat. His legs were encased in knee-cord breeches, and painted top-boots; and a copper watch-chain, terminating in one seal, and a key of the same material, dangled loosely from his capacious waistband. We have

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