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The Pickwick Papers 21







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contemptuously, turning to Doctor Slammer.--He acts in the piece that the officers of the 52nd get up at the Rochester Theatre to-morrow night. You cannot proceed in this affair, Slammer--impossible! Quite! said the dignified Payne. Sorry to have placed you in this disagreeable situation, said Lieutenant Tappleton, addressing Mr. Pickwick; allow me to suggest, that the best way of avoiding a recurrence of such scenes in future will be to be more select in the choice of your companions. Good-evening, Sir! and the lieutenant bounced out of the room. And allow me to say, Sir, said the irascible Doctor Payne, that if I had been Tappleton, or if I had been Slammer, I would have pulled your nose, Sir, and the nose of every man in this company. I would, sir--every man. Payne is my name, sir-- Doctor Payne of the 43rd. Good-evening, Sir. Having concluded this speech, and uttered the last three words in a loud key, he stalked majestically after his friend, closely followed by Doctor Slammer, who said nothing, but contented himself by withering the company with a look. Rising rage and extreme bewilderment had swelled the noble breast of Mr. Pickwick, almost to the bursting of his waistcoat, during the delivery of the above defiance. He stood transfixed to the spot, gazing on vacancy. The closing of the door recalled him to himself. He rushed forward with fury in his looks, and fire in his eye. His hand was upon the lock of the door; in another instant it would have been on the throat of Doctor Payne of the 43rd, had not Mr. Snodgrass seized his revered leader by the coat tail, and dragged him backwards. Restrain him, cried Mr. Snodgrass; Winkle, Tupman--he must not peril his distinguished life in such a cause as this. Let me go, said Mr. Pickwick. Hold him tight, shouted Mr. Snodgrass; and by the united efforts of the whole company, Mr. Pickwick was forced into an arm-chair. Leave him alone, said the green-coated stranger; brandy- and-water--jolly old gentleman--lots of pluck--swallow this-- ah!--capital stuff. Having previously tested the virtues of a bumper, which had been mixed by the dismal man, the stranger applied the glass to Mr. Pickwicks mouth; and the remainder of its contents rapidly disappeared. There was a short pause; the brandy-and-water had done its work; the amiable countenance of Mr. Pickwick was fast recovering its customary expression. They are not worth your notice, said the dismal man. You are right, sir, replied Mr. Pickwick, they are not. I am ashamed to have been betrayed into this warmth of feeling. Draw your chair up to the table, Sir. The dismal man readily complied; a circle was again formed round the table, and harmony once more prevailed. Some lingering irritability appeared to find a resting-place in Mr. Winkles bosom, occasioned possibly by the temporary abstraction of his coat--though it is scarcely reasonable to suppose that so slight a circumstance can have excited even a passing feeling of anger in a Pickwickians breast. With this exception, their good- humour was completely restored; and the evening concluded with the conviviality with which it had begun.

CHAPTER IV

A FIELD DAY AND BIVOUAC--MORE NEW FRIENDS--AN INVITATION TO THE COUNTRY

Many authors entertain, not only a foolish, but a really dishonest objection to acknowledge the sources whence they derive much valuable information. We have no such feeling. We are merely endeavouring to discharge, in an upright manner, the responsible duties of our editorial functions; and whatever ambition we might have felt under other circumstances to lay claim to the authorship of these adventures, a regard for truth forbids us to do more than claim the merit of their judicious arrangement and impartial narration. The Pickwick papers are our New River Head; and we may be compared to the New River Company. The labours of others have raised for us an immense reservoir of important facts. We merely lay them on, and communicate them, in a clear and gentle stream, through the medium of these pages, to a world thirsting for Pickwickian knowledge. Acting in this spirit, and resolutely proceeding on our determination to avow our obligations to the authorities we have consulted, we frankly say, that to the note-book of Mr. Snodgrass are we indebted for the particulars recorded in this and the succeeding chapter--particulars which, now that we have disburdened our consciences, we shall proceed to detail without further comment. The whole population of Rochester and the adjoining towns rose from their beds at

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