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The Pickwick Papers 157







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only wants a quarter now. Very near the time, said Mr. Pickwick. Yes, it is rather near, replied Mr. Magnus, rather too near to be pleasant--eh! Mr. Pickwick, sir? Confidence is a great thing in these cases, observed Mr. Pickwick. I believe it is, Sir, said Mr. Peter Magnus. I am very confident, Sir. Really, Mr. Pickwick, I do not see why a man should feel any fear in such a case as this, sir. What is it, Sir? Theres nothing to be ashamed of; its a matter of mutual accommodation, nothing more. Husband on one side, wife on the other. Thats my view of the matter, Mr. Pickwick. It is a very philosophical one, replied Mr. Pickwick. But breakfast is waiting, Mr. Magnus. Come. Down they sat to breakfast, but it was evident, notwithstanding the boasting of Mr. Peter Magnus, that he laboured under a very considerable degree of nervousness, of which loss of appetite, a propensity to upset the tea-things, a spectral attempt at drollery, and an irresistible inclination to look at the clock, every other second, were among the principal symptoms. He-he-he,tittered Mr. Magnus, affecting cheerfulness, and gasping with agitation. It only wants two minutes, Mr. Pickwick. Am I pale, Sir? Not very, replied Mr. Pickwick. There was a brief pause. I beg your pardon, Mr. Pickwick; but have you ever done this sort of thing in your time? said Mr. Magnus. You mean proposing? said Mr. Pickwick. Yes. Never, said Mr. Pickwick, with great energy, never. You have no idea, then, how its best to begin? said Mr. Magnus. Why, said Mr. Pickwick, I may have formed some ideas upon the subject, but, as I have never submitted them to the test of experience, I should be sorry if you were induced to regulate your proceedings by them. I should feel very much obliged to you, for any advice, Sir, said Mr. Magnus, taking another look at the clock, the hand of which was verging on the five minutes past. Well, sir, said Mr. Pickwick, with the profound solemnity with which that great man could, when he pleased, render his remarks so deeply impressive. I should commence, sir, with a tribute to the ladys beauty and excellent qualities; from them, Sir, I should diverge to my own unworthiness. Very good, said Mr. Magnus. Unworthiness for HER only, mind, sir, resumed Mr. Pickwick; for to show that I was not wholly unworthy, sir, I should take a brief review of my past life, and present condition. I should argue, by analogy, that to anybody else, I must be a very desirable object. I should then expatiate on the warmth of my love, and the depth of my devotion. Perhaps I might then be tempted to seize her hand. Yes, I see, said Mr. Magnus; that would be a very great point. I should then, Sir, continued Mr. Pickwick, growing warmer as the subject presented itself in more glowing colours before him--I should then, Sir, come to the plain and simple question, "Will you have me?" I think I am justified in assuming that upon this, she would turn away her head. You think that may be taken for granted? said Mr. Magnus; because, if she did not do that at the right place, it would be embarrassing. I think she would, said Mr. Pickwick. Upon this, sir, I should squeeze her hand, and I think--I think, Mr. Magnus-- that after I had done that, supposing there was no refusal, I should gently draw away the handkerchief, which my slight knowledge of human nature leads me to suppose the lady would be applying to her eyes at the moment, and steal a respectful kiss. I think I should kiss her, Mr. Magnus; and at this particular point, I am decidedly of opinion that if the lady were going to take me at all, she would murmur into my ears a bashful acceptance. Mr. Magnus started; gazed on Mr. Pickwicks intelligent face, for a short time in silence; and then (the dial pointing to the ten minutes past) shook him warmly by the hand, and rushed desperately from the room. Mr. Pickwick had taken a few strides to and fro; and the small hand of the clock following the latter part of his example, had arrived at the figure which indicates the half-hour, when the door suddenly opened. He turned round to meet Mr. Peter Magnus, and encountered, in his stead, the joyous face of Mr. Tupman, the serene countenance of Mr. Winkle, and the intellectual lineaments of Mr. Snodgrass.

The Pickwick Papers page 156        The Pickwick Papers page 158