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The Pickwick Papers 175







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the bank--always. As Mrs. Bardell said this, she applied her handkerchief to her eyes, and went out of the room to get the receipt. Sam well knew that he had only to remain quiet, and the women were sure to talk; so he looked alternately at the tin saucepan, the toasted cheese, the wall, and the ceiling, in profound silence. Poor dear! said Mrs. Cluppins. Ah, poor thing! replied Mrs. Sanders. Sam said nothing. He saw they were coming to the subject. I raly cannot contain myself, said Mrs. Cluppins, when I think of such perjury. I dont wish to say anything to make you uncomfortable, young man, but your masters an old brute, and I wish I had him here to tell him so. I wish you had, said Sam. To see how dreadful she takes on, going moping about, and taking no pleasure in nothing, except when her friends comes in, out of charity, to sit with her, and make her comfortable, resumed Mrs. Cluppins, glancing at the tin saucepan and the Dutch oven, its shocking! Barbareous, said Mrs. Sanders. And your master, young man! A gentleman with money, as could never feel the expense of a wife, no more than nothing, continued Mrs. Cluppins, with great volubility; why there aint the faintest shade of an excuse for his behaviour! Why dont he marry her? Ah, said Sam, to be sure; thats the question. Question, indeed, retorted Mrs. Cluppins, shed question him, if shed my spirit. Howsever, there is law for us women, misrable creeturs as theyd make us, if they could; and that your master will find out, young man, to his cost, afore hes six months older. At this consolatory reflection, Mrs. Cluppins bridled up, and smiled at Mrs. Sanders, who smiled back again. The actions going on, and no mistake, thought Sam, as Mrs. Bardell re-entered with the receipt. Heres the receipt, Mr. Weller, said Mrs. Bardell, and heres the change, and I hope youll take a little drop of something to keep the cold out, if its only for old acquaintance sake, Mr. Weller. Sam saw the advantage he should gain, and at once acquiesced; whereupon Mrs. Bardell produced, from a small closet, a black bottle and a wine-glass; and so great was her abstraction, in her deep mental affliction, that, after filling Mr. Wellers glass, she brought out three more wine-glasses, and filled them too. Lauk, Mrs. Bardell, said Mrs. Cluppins, see what youve been and done! Well, that is a good one! ejaculated Mrs. Sanders. Ah, my poor head! said Mrs. Bardell, with a faint smile. Sam understood all this, of course, so he said at once, that he never could drink before supper, unless a lady drank with him. A great deal of laughter ensued, and Mrs. Sanders volunteered to humour him, so she took a slight sip out of her glass. Then Sam said it must go all round, so they all took a slight sip. Then little Mrs. Cluppins proposed as a toast, Success to Bardell agin Pickwick; and then the ladies emptied their glasses in honour of the sentiment, and got very talkative directly. I suppose youve heard whats going forward, Mr. Weller? said Mrs. Bardell. Ive heerd somethin on it, replied Sam. Its a terrible thing to be dragged before the public, in that way, Mr. Weller, said Mrs. Bardell; but I see now, that its the only thing I ought to do, and my lawyers, Mr. Dodson and Fogg, tell me that, with the evidence as we shall call, we must succeed. I dont know what I should do, Mr. Weller, if I didnt. The mere idea of Mrs. Bardells failing in her action, affected Mrs. Sanders so deeply, that she was under the necessity of refilling and re-emptying her glass immediately; feeling, as she said afterwards, that if she hadnt had the presence of mind to do so, she must have dropped. Ven is it expected to come on? inquired Sam. Either in February or March, replied Mrs. Bardell. What a number of witnesses therell be, wont there,? said Mrs. Cluppins. Ah! wont there! replied Mrs. Sanders. And wont Mr. Dodson and Fogg be wild if the plaintiff shouldnt get it? added Mrs. Cluppins, when they do it all on speculation! Ah! wont they! said Mrs. Sanders. But the plaintiff must get it, resumed Mrs. Cluppins. I hope so, said Mrs. Bardell. Oh, there cant be any doubt about it, rejoined Mrs. Sanders. Vell, said Sam, rising and setting down his glass, all I can say is, that I vish you MAY get it. Thankee, Mr. Weller, said Mrs. Bardell

The Pickwick Papers page 174        The Pickwick Papers page 176