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The Pickwick Papers 189







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The Pickwick Papers

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smartly tied pumps. YOU in silk stockings! exclaimed Mr. Tupman jocosely. And why not, sir--why not? said Mr. Pickwick, turning warmly upon him. Oh, of course there is no reason why you shouldnt wear them, responded Mr. Tupman. I imagine not, sir--I imagine not, said Mr. Pickwick, in a very peremptory tone. Mr. Tupman had contemplated a laugh, but he found it was a serious matter; so he looked grave, and said they were a pretty pattern. I hope they are, said Mr. Pickwick, fixing his eyes upon his friend. You see nothing extraordinary in the stockings, AS stockings, I trust, Sir? Certainly not. Oh, certainly not, replied Mr. Tupman. He walked away; and Mr. Pickwicks countenance resumed its customary benign expression. We are all ready, I believe, said Mr. Pickwick, who was stationed with the old lady at the top of the dance, and had already made four false starts, in his excessive anxiety to commence. Then begin at once, said Wardle. Now! Up struck the two fiddles and the one harp, and off went Mr. Pickwick into hands across, when there was a general clapping of hands, and a cry of Stop, stop! Whats the matter? said Mr. Pickwick, who was only brought to, by the fiddles and harp desisting, and could have been stopped by no other earthly power, if the house had been on fire. Wheres Arabella Allen? cried a dozen voices. And Winkle?added Mr. Tupman. Here we are! exclaimed that gentleman, emerging with his pretty companion from the corner; as he did so, it would have been hard to tell which was the redder in the face, he or the young lady with the black eyes. What an extraordinary thing it is, Winkle, said Mr. Pickwick, rather pettishly, that you couldnt have taken your place before. Not at all extraordinary, said Mr. Winkle. Well, said Mr. Pickwick, with a very expressive smile, as his eyes rested on Arabella, well, I dont know that it WAS extraordinary, either, after all. However, there was no time to think more about the matter, for the fiddles and harp began in real earnest. Away went Mr. Pickwick--hands across--down the middle to the very end of the room, and half-way up the chimney, back again to the door-- poussette everywhere--loud stamp on the ground--ready for the next couple--off again--all the figure over once more--another stamp to beat out the time--next couple, and the next, and the next again--never was such going; at last, after they had reached the bottom of the dance, and full fourteen couple after the old lady had retired in an exhausted state, and the clergymans wife had been substituted in her stead, did that gentleman, when there was no demand whatever on his exertions, keep perpetually dancing in his place, to keep time to the music, smiling on his partner all the while with a blandness of demeanour which baffles all description. Long before Mr. Pickwick was weary of dancing, the newly- married couple had retired from the scene. There was a glorious supper downstairs, notwithstanding, and a good long sitting after it; and when Mr. Pickwick awoke, late the next morning, he had a confused recollection of having, severally and confidentially, invited somewhere about five-and-forty people to dine with him at the George and Vulture, the very first time they came to London; which Mr. Pickwick rightly considered a pretty certain indication of his having taken something besides exercise, on the previous night. And so your family has games in the kitchen to-night, my dear, has they? inquired Sam of Emma. Yes, Mr. Weller, replied Emma; we always have on Christmas Eve. Master wouldnt neglect to keep it up on any account. Your masters a wery pretty notion of keeping anythin up, my dear, said Mr. Weller; I never see such a sensible sort of man as he is, or such a reglar genlmn. Oh, that he is! said the fat boy, joining in the conversation; dont he breed nice pork! The fat youth gave a semi-cannibalic leer at Mr. Weller, as he thought of the roast legs and gravy. Oh, youve woke up, at last, have you? said Sam. The fat boy nodded. Ill tell you what it is, young boa-constructer, said Mr. Weller impressively; if you dont sleep a little less, and exercise a little more, wen you comes to be a man youll lay yourself open to the same sort of personal inconwenience as was inflicted on the old genlmn as wore the pigtail. What did they do to him? inquired the fat boy, in a faltering voice. Im a-going to tell you, replied Mr. Weller;

The Pickwick Papers page 188        The Pickwick Papers page 190