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The Pickwick Papers 168







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entrapped himself into a ladys boarding-school at midnight; and how he (Mr. Pickwick) now felt it his duty to expose his assumption of his present name and rank. As the narrative proceeded, all the warm blood in the body of Mr. Nupkins tingled up into the very tips of his ears. He had picked up the captain at a neighbouring race-course. Charmed with his long list of aristocratic acquaintance, his extensive travel, and his fashionable demeanour, Mrs. Nupkins and Miss Nupkins had exhibited Captain Fitz-Marshall, and quoted Captain Fitz-Marshall, and hurled Captain Fitz-Marshall at the devoted heads of their select circle of acquaintance, until their bosom friends, Mrs. Porkenham and the Misses Porkenhams, and Mr. Sidney Porkenham, were ready to burst with jealousy and despair. And now, to hear, after all, that he was a needy adventurer, a strolling player, and if not a swindler, something so very like it, that it was hard to tell the difference! Heavens! what would the Porkenhams say! What would be the triumph of Mr. Sidney Porkenham when he found that his addresses had been slighted for such a rival! How should he, Nupkins, meet the eye of old Porkenham at the next quarter-sessions! And what a handle would it be for the opposition magisterial party if the story got abroad! But after all, said Mr. Nupkins, brightening for a moment, after a long pause; after all, this is a mere statement. Captain Fitz-Marshall is a man of very engaging manners, and, I dare say, has many enemies. What proof have you of the truth of these representations? Confront me with him, said Mr. Pickwick, that is all I ask, and all I require. Confront him with me and my friends here; you will want no further proof. Why, said Mr. Nupkins, that might be very easily done, for he will be here to-night, and then there would be no occasion to make the matter public, just--just--for the young mans own sake, you know. I--I--should like to consult Mrs. Nupkins on the propriety of the step, in the first instance, though. At all events, Mr. Pickwick, we must despatch this legal business before we can do anything else. Pray step back into the next room. Into the next room they went. Grummer, said the magistrate, in an awful voice. Your Wash-up, replied Grummer, with the smile of a favourite. Come, come, Sir, said the magistrate sternly, dont let me see any of this levity here. It is very unbecoming, and I can assure you that you have very little to smile at. Was the account you gave me just now strictly true? Now be careful, sir! Your Wash-up, stammered Grummer, I- Oh, you are confused, are you? said the magistrate. Mr. Jinks, you observe this confusion? Certainly, Sir, replied Jinks. Now, said the magistrate, repeat your statement, Grummer, and again I warn you to be careful. Mr. Jinks, take his words down. The unfortunate Grummer proceeded to re-state his complaint, but, what between Mr. Jinkss taking down his words, and the magistrates taking them up, his natural tendency to rambling, and his extreme confusion, he managed to get involved, in something under three minutes, in such a mass of entanglement and contradiction, that Mr. Nupkins at once declared he didnt believe him. So the fines were remitted, and Mr. Jinks found a couple of bail in no time. And all these solemn proceedings having been satisfactorily concluded, Mr. Grummer was ignominiously ordered out--an awful instance of the instability of human greatness, and the uncertain tenure of great mens favour. Mrs. Nupkins was a majestic female in a pink gauze turban and a light brown wig. Miss Nupkins possessed all her mammas haughtiness without the turban, and all her ill-nature without the wig; and whenever the exercise of these two amiable qualities involved mother and daughter in some unpleasant dilemma, as they not infrequently did, they both concurred in laying the blame on the shoulders of Mr. Nupkins. Accordingly, when Mr. Nupkins sought Mrs. Nupkins, and detailed the communication which had been made by Mr. Pickwick, Mrs. Nupkins suddenly recollected that she had always expected something of the kind; that she had always said it would be so; that her advice was never taken; that she really did not know what Mr. Nupkins supposed she was; and so forth. The idea! said Miss Nupkins, forcing a tear of very scanty proportions into the corner of each eye; the idea of my being made such a fool of! Ah! you may thank your

The Pickwick Papers page 167        The Pickwick Papers page 169