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The Pickwick Papers 184







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walked briskly away, leaving Mr. Weller and the fat boy confronted together for the first time. Sam looked at the fat boy with great astonishment, but without saying a word; and began to stow the luggage rapidly away in the cart, while the fat boy stood quietly by, and seemed to think it a very interesting sort of thing to see Mr. Weller working by himself. There, said Sam, throwing in the last carpet-bag, there they are! Yes, said the fat boy, in a very satisfied tone, there they are. Vell, young twenty stun, said Sam, youre a nice specimen of a prize boy, you are! Thankee, said the fat boy. You aint got nothin on your mind as makes you fret yourself, have you? inquired Sam. Not as I knows on, replied the fat boy. I should rayther ha thought, to look at you, that you was a-labourin under an unrequited attachment to some young ooman, said Sam. The fat boy shook his head. Vell, said Sam, I am glad to hear it. Do you ever drink anythin? I likes eating better, replied the boy. Ah, said Sam, I should ha sposed that; but what I mean is, should you like a drop of anythin asd warm you? but I spose you never was cold, with all them elastic fixtures, was you? Sometimes, replied the boy; and I likes a drop of something, when its good. Oh, you do, do you? said Sam, come this way, then! The Blue Lion tap was soon gained, and the fat boy swallowed a glass of liquor without so much as winking--a feat which considerably advanced him in Mr. Wellers good opinion. Mr. Weller having transacted a similar piece of business on his own account, they got into the cart. Can you drive? said the fat boy. I should rayther think so, replied Sam. There, then, said the fat boy, putting the reins in his hand, and pointing up a lane, its as straight as you can go; you cant miss it. With these words, the fat boy laid himself affectionately down by the side of the cod-fish, and, placing an oyster-barrel under his head for a pillow, fell asleep instantaneously. Well, said Sam, of all the cool boys ever I set my eyes on, this here young genlmn is the coolest. Come, wake up, young dropsy! But as young dropsy evinced no symptoms of returning animation, Sam Weller sat himself down in front of the cart, and starting the old horse with a jerk of the rein, jogged steadily on, towards the Manor Farm. Meanwhile, Mr. Pickwick and his friends having walked their blood into active circulation, proceeded cheerfully on. The paths were hard; the grass was crisp and frosty; the air had a fine, dry, bracing coldness; and the rapid approach of the gray twilight (slate-coloured is a better term in frosty weather) made them look forward with pleasant anticipation to the comforts which awaited them at their hospitable entertainers. It was the sort of afternoon that might induce a couple of elderly gentlemen, in a lonely field, to take off their greatcoats and play at leap-frog in pure lightness of heart and gaiety; and we firmly believe that had Mr. Tupman at that moment proffered a back, Mr. Pickwick would have accepted his offer with the utmost avidity. However, Mr. Tupman did not volunteer any such accommodation, and the friends walked on, conversing merrily. As they turned into a lane they had to cross, the sound of many voices burst upon their ears; and before they had even had time to form a guess to whom they belonged, they walked into the very centre of the party who were expecting their arrival--a fact which was first notified to the Pickwickians, by the loud Hurrah, which burst from old Wardles lips, when they appeared in sight. First, there was Wardle himself, looking, if that were possible, more jolly than ever; then there were Bella and her faithful Trundle; and, lastly, there were Emily and some eight or ten young ladies, who had all come down to the wedding, which was to take place next day, and who were in as happy and important a state as young ladies usually are, on such momentous occasions; and they were, one and all, startling the fields and lanes, far and wide, with their frolic and laughter. The ceremony of introduction, under such circumstances, was very soon performed, or we should rather say that the introduction was soon over, without any ceremony at all. In two minutes thereafter, Mr. Pickwick was joking with the

The Pickwick Papers page 183        The Pickwick Papers page 185