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The Pickwick Papers 204







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The Pickwick Papers

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And there are the office lads in their first surtouts, who feel a befitting contempt for boys at day-schools, club as they go home at night, for saveloys and porter, and think theres nothing like life. There are varieties of the genus, too numerous to recapitulate, but however numerous they may be, they are all to be seen, at certain regulated business hours, hurrying to and from the places we have just mentioned. These sequestered nooks are the public offices of the legal profession, where writs are issued, judgments signed, declarations filed, and numerous other ingenious machines put in motion for the torture and torment of His Majestys liege subjects, and the comfort and emolument of the practitioners of the law. They are, for the most part, low-roofed, mouldy rooms, where innumerable rolls of parchment, which have been perspiring in secret for the last century, send forth an agreeable odour, which is mingled by day with the scent of the dry-rot, and by night with the various exhalations which arise from damp cloaks, festering umbrellas, and the coarsest tallow candles. About half-past seven oclock in the evening, some ten days or a fortnight after Mr. Pickwick and his friends returned to London, there hurried into one of these offices, an individual in a brown coat and brass buttons, whose long hair was scrupulously twisted round the rim of his napless hat, and whose soiled drab trousers were so tightly strapped over his Blucher boots, that his knees threatened every moment to start from their concealment. He produced from his coat pockets a long and narrow strip of parchment, on which the presiding functionary impressed an illegible black stamp. He then drew forth four scraps of paper, of similar dimensions, each containing a printed copy of the strip of parchment with blanks for a name; and having filled up the blanks, put all the five documents in his pocket, and hurried away. The man in the brown coat, with the cabalistic documents in his pocket, was no other than our old acquaintance Mr. Jackson, of the house of Dodson & Fogg, Freemans Court, Cornhill. Instead of returning to the office whence he came, however, he bent his steps direct to Sun Court, and walking straight into the George and Vulture, demanded to know whether one Mr. Pickwick was within. Call Mr. Pickwicks servant, Tom, said the barmaid of the George and Vulture. Dont trouble yourself, said Mr. Jackson. Ive come on business. If youll show me Mr. Pickwicks room Ill step up myself. What name, Sir? said the waiter. Jackson, replied the clerk. The waiter stepped upstairs to announce Mr. Jackson; but Mr. Jackson saved him the trouble by following close at his heels, and walking into the apartment before he could articulate a syllable. Mr. Pickwick had, that day, invited his three friends to dinner; they were all seated round the fire, drinking their wine, when Mr. Jackson presented himself, as above described. How de do, sir? said Mr. Jackson, nodding to Mr. Pickwick. That gentleman bowed, and looked somewhat surprised, for the physiognomy of Mr. Jackson dwelt not in his recollection. I have called from Dodson and Foggs, said Mr. Jackson, in an explanatory tone. Mr. Pickwick roused at the name. I refer you to my attorney, Sir; Mr. Perker, of Grays Inn, said he. Waiter, show this gentleman out. Beg your pardon, Mr. Pickwick, said Jackson, deliberately depositing his hat on the floor, and drawing from his pocket the strip of parchment. But personal service, by clerk or agent, in these cases, you know, Mr. Pickwick--nothing like caution, sir, in all legal forms--eh? Here Mr. Jackson cast his eye on the parchment; and, resting his hands on the table, and looking round with a winning and persuasive smile, said, Now, come; dont lets have no words about such a little matter as this. Which of you gentlemens names Snodgrass? At this inquiry, Mr. Snodgrass gave such a very undisguised and palpable start, that no further reply was needed. Ah! I thought so, said Mr. Jackson, more affably than before. Ive a little something to trouble you with, Sir. Me!exclaimed Mr. Snodgrass. Its only a subpoena in Bardell and Pickwick on behalf of the plaintiff, replied Jackson, singling out one of the slips of paper, and producing a shilling from his waistcoat pocket. Itll come on, in the settens after Term: fourteenth of Febooary, we expect; weve marked it a special jury cause, and its only ten down the paper. Thats yours, Mr. Snodgrass. As Jackson said this, he presented the parchment before the eyes of

The Pickwick Papers page 203        The Pickwick Papers page 205