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The Pickwick Papers 20

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Martin Eden

The Pickwick Papers

The Sea Wolf

It was unavailing; he extended his arm towards them, and made another violent effort. There was a rattling noise in the throat--a glare of the eye--a short stifled groan--and he fell back--dead! It would afford us the highest gratification to be enabled to record Mr. Pickwicks opinion of the foregoing anecdote. We have little doubt that we should have been enabled to present it to our readers, but for a most unfortunate occurrence. Mr. Pickwick had replaced on the table the glass which, during the last few sentences of the tale, he had retained in his hand; and had just made up his mind to speak--indeed, we have the authority of Mr. Snodgrasss note-book for stating, that he had actually opened his mouth--when the waiter entered the room, and said-- Some gentlemen, Sir. It has been conjectured that Mr. Pickwick was on the point of delivering some remarks which would have enlightened the world, if not the Thames, when he was thus interrupted; for he gazed sternly on the waiters countenance, and then looked round on the company generally, as if seeking for information relative to the new-comers. Oh! said Mr. Winkle, rising, some friends of mine--show them in. Very pleasant fellows, added Mr. Winkle, after the waiter had retired--officers of the 97th, whose acquaintance I made rather oddly this morning. You will like them very much. Mr. Pickwicks equanimity was at once restored. The waiter returned, and ushered three gentlemen into the room. Lieutenant Tappleton, said Mr. Winkle, Lieutenant Tappleton, Mr. Pickwick--Doctor Payne, Mr. Pickwick--Mr. Snodgrass you have seen before, my friend Mr. Tupman, Doctor Payne--Doctor Slammer, Mr. Pickwick--Mr. Tupman, Doctor Slam-- Here Mr. Winkle suddenly paused; for strong emotion was visible on the countenance both of Mr. Tupman and the doctor. I have met THIS gentleman before, said the Doctor, with marked emphasis. Indeed! said Mr. Winkle. And--and that person, too, if I am not mistaken, said the doctor, bestowing a scrutinising glance on the green-coated stranger. I think I gave that person a very pressing invitation last night, which he thought proper to decline. Saying which the doctor scowled magnanimously on the stranger, and whispered his friend Lieutenant Tappleton. You dont say so, said that gentleman, at the conclusion of the whisper. I do, indeed, replied Doctor Slammer. You are bound to kick him on the spot, murmured the owner of the camp-stool, with great importance. Do be quiet, Payne, interposed the lieutenant. Will you allow me to ask you, sir, he said, addressing Mr. Pickwick, who was considerably mystified by this very unpolite by-play--will you allow me to ask you, Sir, whether that person belongs to your party? No, Sir, replied Mr. Pickwick, he is a guest of ours. He is a member of your club, or I am mistaken? said the lieutenant inquiringly. Certainly not, responded Mr. Pickwick. And never wears your club-button? said the lieutenant. No--never! replied the astonished Mr. Pickwick. Lieutenant Tappleton turned round to his friend Doctor Slammer, with a scarcely perceptible shrug of the shoulder, as if implying some doubt of the accuracy of his recollection. The little doctor looked wrathful, but confounded; and Mr. Payne gazed with a ferocious aspect on the beaming countenance of the unconscious Pickwick. Sir, said the doctor, suddenly addressing Mr. Tupman, in a tone which made that gentleman start as perceptibly as if a pin had been cunningly inserted in the calf of his leg, you were at the ball here last night! Mr. Tupman gasped a faint affirmative, looking very hard at Mr. Pickwick all the while. That person was your companion, said the doctor, pointing to the still unmoved stranger. Mr. Tupman admitted the fact. Now, sir, said the doctor to the stranger, I ask you once again, in the presence of these gentlemen, whether you choose to give me your card, and to receive the treatment of a gentleman; or whether you impose upon me the necessity of personally chastising you on the spot? Stay, sir, said Mr. Pickwick, I really cannot allow this matter to go any further without some explanation. Tupman, recount the circumstances. Mr. Tupman, thus solemnly adjured, stated the case in a few words; touched slightly on the borrowing of the coat; expatiated largely on its having been done after dinner; wound up with a little penitence on his own account; and left the stranger to clear himself as best he could. He was apparently about to proceed to do so, when Lieutenant Tappleton, who had been eyeing him with great curiosity, said with considerable scorn, Havent I seen you at the theatre, Sir? Certainly, replied the unabashed stranger. He is a strolling actor! said the lieutenant

The Pickwick Papers page 19        The Pickwick Papers page 21