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The Pickwick Papers 158







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The Pickwick Papers

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As Mr. Pickwick greeted them, Mr. Peter Magnus tripped into the room. My friends, the gentleman I was speaking of--Mr. Magnus, said Mr. Pickwick. Your servant, gentlemen, said Mr. Magnus, evidently in a high state of excitement; Mr. Pickwick, allow me to speak to you one moment, sir. As he said this, Mr. Magnus harnessed his forefinger to Mr. Pickwicks buttonhole, and, drawing him to a window recess, said-- Congratulate me, Mr. Pickwick; I followed your advice to the very letter. And it was all correct, was it? inquired Mr. Pickwick. It was, Sir. Could not possibly have been better, replied Mr. Magnus. Mr. Pickwick, she is mine. I congratulate you, with all my heart, replied Mr. Pickwick, warmly shaking his new friend by the hand. You must see her. Sir, said Mr. Magnus; this way, if you please. Excuse us for one instant, gentlemen. Hurrying on in this way, Mr. Peter Magnus drew Mr. Pickwick from the room. He paused at the next door in the passage, and tapped gently thereat. Come in, said a female voice. And in they went. Miss Witherfield, said Mr. Magnus, allow me to introduce my very particular friend, Mr. Pickwick. Mr. Pickwick, I beg to make you known to Miss Witherfield. The lady was at the upper end of the room. As Mr. Pickwick bowed, he took his spectacles from his waistcoat pocket, and put them on; a process which he had no sooner gone through, than, uttering an exclamation of surprise, Mr. Pickwick retreated several paces, and the lady, with a half-suppressed scream, hid her face in her hands, and dropped into a chair; whereupon Mr. Peter Magnus was stricken motionless on the spot, and gazed from one to the other, with a countenance expressive of the extremities of horror and surprise. This certainly was, to all appearance, very unaccountable behaviour; but the fact is, that Mr. Pickwick no sooner put on his spectacles, than he at once recognised in the future Mrs. Magnus the lady into whose room he had so unwarrantably intruded on the previous night; and the spectacles had no sooner crossed Mr. Pickwicks nose, than the lady at once identified the countenance which she had seen surrounded by all the horrors of a nightcap. So the lady screamed, and Mr. Pickwick started. Mr. Pickwick! exclaimed Mr. Magnus, lost in astonishment, what is the meaning of this, Sir? What is the meaning of it, Sir? added Mr. Magnus, in a threatening, and a louder tone. Sir, said Mr. Pickwick, somewhat indignant at the very sudden manner in which Mr. Peter Magnus had conjugated himself into the imperative mood, I decline answering that question. You decline it, Sir? said Mr. Magnus. I do, Sir, replied Mr. Pickwick; I object to say anything which may compromise that lady, or awaken unpleasant recollections in her breast, without her consent and permission. Miss Witherfield, said Mr. Peter Magnus, do you know this person? Know him! repeated the middle-aged lady, hesitating. Yes, know him, maam; I said know him, replied Mr. Magnus, with ferocity. I have seen him, replied the middle-aged lady. Where? inquired Mr. Magnus, where? That, said the middle-aged lady, rising from her seat, and averting her head--that I would not reveal for worlds. I understand you, maam, said Mr. Pickwick, and respect your delicacy; it shall never be revealed by ME depend upon it. Upon my word, maam, said Mr. Magnus, considering the situation in which I am placed with regard to yourself, you carry this matter off with tolerable coolness--tolerable coolness, maam. Cruel Mr. Magnus! said the middle-aged lady; here she wept very copiously indeed. Address your observations to me, sir, interposed Mr. Pickwick; I alone am to blame, if anybody be. Oh! you alone are to blame, are you, sir? said Mr. Magnus; I--I--see through this, sir. You repent of your determination now, do you? My determination! said Mr. Pickwick. Your determination, Sir. Oh! dont stare at me, Sir, said Mr. Magnus; I recollect your words last night, Sir. You came down here, sir, to expose the treachery and falsehood of an individual on whose truth and honour you had placed implicit reliance--eh? Here Mr. Peter Magnus indulged in a prolonged sneer; and taking off his green spectacles--which he probably found superfluous in his fit of jealousy--rolled his little eyes about, in a manner frightful to behold. Eh? said Mr. Magnus; and then he repeated the sneer with increased effect. But you shall answer it, Sir. Answer what? said Mr. Pickwick. Never mind, sir, replied Mr. Magnus, striding up and down the room. Never mind. There must be

The Pickwick Papers page 157        The Pickwick Papers page 159