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The Pickwick Papers 208







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the other point; for there Mr. Perkers question had somewhat staggered him. Sam? said Perker. Mr. Pickwick replied in the affirmative. Of course, my dear Sir; of course. I knew they would. I could have told you that, a month ago. You know, my dear Sir, if you WILL take the management of your affairs into your own hands after entrusting them to your solicitor, you must also take the consequences. Here Mr. Perker drew himself up with conscious dignity, and brushed some stray grains of snuff from his shirt frill. And what do they want him to prove? asked Mr. Pickwick, after two or three minutes silence. That you sent him up to the plaintiff s to make some offer of a compromise, I suppose, replied Perker. It dont matter much, though; I dont think many counsel could get a great deal out of HIM. I dont think they could, said Mr. Pickwick, smiling, despite his vexation, at the idea of Sams appearance as a witness. What course do we pursue? We have only one to adopt, my dear Sir, replied Perker; cross-examine the witnesses; trust to Snubbins eloquence; throw dust in the eyes of the judge; throw ourselves on the jury. And suppose the verdict is against me? said Mr. Pickwick. Mr. Perker smiled, took a very long pinch of snuff, stirred the fire, shrugged his shoulders, and remained expressively silent. You mean that in that case I must pay the damages? said Mr. Pickwick, who had watched this telegraphic answer with considerable sternness. Perker gave the fire another very unnecessary poke, and said, I am afraid so. Then I beg to announce to you my unalterable determination to pay no damages whatever, said Mr. Pickwick, most emphatically. None, Perker. Not a pound, not a penny of my money, shall find its way into the pockets of Dodson and Fogg. That is my deliberate and irrevocable determination. Mr. Pickwick gave a heavy blow on the table before him, in confirmation of the irrevocability of his intention. Very well, my dear Sir, very well, said Perker. You know best, of course. Of course, replied Mr. Pickwick hastily. Where does Serjeant Snubbin live? In Lincolns Inn Old Square, replied Perker. I should like to see him, said Mr. Pickwick. See Serjeant Snubbin, my dear Sir! rejoined Perker, in utter amazement. Pooh, pooh, my dear Sir, impossible. See Serjeant Snubbin! Bless you, my dear Sir, such a thing was never heard of, without a consultation fee being previously paid, and a consultation fixed. It couldnt be done, my dear Sir; it couldnt be done. Mr. Pickwick, however, had made up his mind not only that it could be done, but that it should be done; and the consequence was, that within ten minutes after he had received the assurance that the thing was impossible, he was conducted by his solicitor into the outer office of the great Serjeant Snubbin himself. It was an uncarpeted room of tolerable dimensions, with a large writing-table drawn up near the fire, the baize top of which had long since lost all claim to its original hue of green, and had gradually grown gray with dust and age, except where all traces of its natural colour were obliterated by ink-stains. Upon the table were numerous little bundles of papers tied with red tape; and behind it, sat an elderly clerk, whose sleek appearance and heavy gold watch-chain presented imposing indications of the extensive and lucrative practice of Mr. Serjeant Snubbin. Is the Serjeant in his room, Mr. Mallard? inquired Perker, offering his box with all imaginable courtesy. Yes, he is, was the reply, but hes very busy. Look here; not an opinion given yet, on any one of these cases; and an expedition fee paid with all of em. The clerk smiled as he said this, and inhaled the pinch of snuff with a zest which seemed to be compounded of a fondness for snuff and a relish for fees. Something like practice that, said Perker. Yes, said the barristers clerk, producing his own box, and offering it with the greatest cordiality; and the best of it is, that as nobody alive except myself can read the serjeants writing, they are obliged to wait for the opinions, when he has given them, till I have copied em, ha-ha-ha! Which makes good for we know who, besides the serjeant, and draws a little more out of the clients, eh? said Perker; ha, ha, ha! At this the serjeants clerk laughed again--not a noisy boisterous laugh, but a

The Pickwick Papers page 207        The Pickwick Papers page 209