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The Pickwick Papers 171







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The Pickwick Papers

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said Mr. Muzzle. So cheerful he is! said Sam. In such good spirits! said Muzzle. And so glad to see us--that makes it so much more comfortable, said Sam. Sit down; sit down. Mr. Trotter suffered himself to be forced into a chair by the fireside. He cast his small eyes, first on Mr. Weller, and then on Mr. Muzzle, but said nothing. Well, now, said Sam, afore these here ladies, I should jest like to ask you, as a sort of curiosity, whether you dont consider yourself as nice and well-behaved a young genlmn, as ever used a pink check pocket-handkerchief, and the number four collection? And as was ever a-going to be married to a cook, said that lady indignantly. The willin! And leave off his evil ways, and set up in the chandlery line arterwards, said the housemaid. Now, Ill tell you what it is, young man, said Mr. Muzzle solemnly, enraged at the last two allusions, this here lady (pointing to the cook) keeps company with me; and when you presume, Sir, to talk of keeping chandlers shops with her, you injure me in one of the most delicatest points in which one man can injure another. Do you understand that, Sir? Here Mr. Muzzle, who had a great notion of his eloquence, in which he imitated his master, paused for a reply. But Mr. Trotter made no reply. So Mr. Muzzle proceeded in a solemn manner-- Its very probable, sir, that you wont be wanted upstairs for several minutes, Sir, because MY master is at this moment particularly engaged in settling the hash of YOUR master, Sir; and therefore youll have leisure, Sir, for a little private talk with me, Sir. Do you understand that, Sir? Mr. Muzzle again paused for a reply; and again Mr. Trotter disappointed him. Well, then, said Mr. Muzzle, Im very sorry to have to explain myself before ladies, but the urgency of the case will be my excuse. The back kitchens empty, Sir. If you will step in there, Sir, Mr. Weller will see fair, and we can have mutual satisfaction till the bell rings. Follow me, Sir! As Mr. Muzzle uttered these words, he took a step or two towards the door; and, by way of saving time, began to pull off his coat as he walked along. Now, the cook no sooner heard the concluding words of this desperate challenge, and saw Mr. Muzzle about to put it into execution, than she uttered a loud and piercing shriek; and rushing on Mr. Job Trotter, who rose from his chair on the instant, tore and buffeted his large flat face, with an energy peculiar to excited females, and twining her hands in his long black hair, tore therefrom about enough to make five or six dozen of the very largest-sized mourning-rings. Having accomplished this feat with all the ardour which her devoted love for Mr. Muzzle inspired, she staggered back; and being a lady of very excitable and delicate feelings, she instantly fell under the dresser, and fainted away. At this moment, the bell rang. Thats for you, Job Trotter, said Sam; and before Mr. Trotter could offer remonstrance or reply--even before he had time to stanch the wounds inflicted by the insensible lady--Sam seized one arm and Mr. Muzzle the other, and one pulling before, and the other pushing behind, they conveyed him upstairs, and into the parlour. It was an impressive tableau. Alfred Jingle, Esquire, alias Captain Fitz-Marshall, was standing near the door with his hat in his hand, and a smile on his face, wholly unmoved by his very unpleasant situation. Confronting him, stood Mr. Pickwick, who had evidently been inculcating some high moral lesson; for his left hand was beneath his coat tail, and his right extended in air, as was his wont when delivering himself of an impressive address. At a little distance, stood Mr. Tupman with indignant countenance, carefully held back by his two younger friends; at the farther end of the room were Mr. Nupkins, Mrs. Nupkins, and Miss Nupkins, gloomily grand and savagely vexed. What prevents me, said Mr. Nupkins, with magisterial dignity, as Job was brought in--what prevents me from detaining these men as rogues and impostors? It is a foolish mercy. What prevents me? Pride, old fellow, pride, replied Jingle, quite at his ease. Wouldnt do--no go--caught a captain, eh?--ha! ha! very good--husband for daughter--biter bit--make it public--not for worlds--look stupid--very! Wretch, said Mr. Nupkins, we scorn your base insinuations. I always hated him, added Henrietta. Oh, of course, said Jingle. Tall young man--old

The Pickwick Papers page 170        The Pickwick Papers page 172