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The Pickwick Papers 213







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of next week we shall be able to set ourselves quite square, and go on, on a better system, afterwards. This was all Mrs. Raddle wanted. She had bustled up to the apartment of the unlucky Bob Sawyer, so bent upon going into a passion, that, in all probability, payment would have rather disappointed her than otherwise. She was in excellent order for a little relaxation of the kind, having just exchanged a few introductory compliments with Mr. R. in the front kitchen. Do you suppose, Mr. Sawyer, said Mrs. Raddle, elevating her voice for the information of the neighbours--do you suppose that Im a-going day after day to let a fellar occupy my lodgings as never thinks of paying his rent, nor even the very money laid out for the fresh butter and lump sugar thats bought for his breakfast, and the very milk thats took in, at the street door? Do you suppose a hard-working and industrious woman as has lived in this street for twenty year (ten year over the way, and nine year and three-quarters in this very house) has nothing else to do but to work herself to death after a parcel of lazy idle fellars, that are always smoking and drinking, and lounging, when they ought to be glad to turn their hands to anything that would help em to pay their bills? Do you-- My good soul, interposed Mr. Benjamin Allen soothingly. Have the goodness to keep your observashuns to yourself, Sir, I beg, said Mrs. Raddle, suddenly arresting the rapid torrent of her speech, and addressing the third party with impressive slowness and solemnity. I am not aweer, Sir, that you have any right to address your conversation to me. I dont think I let these apartments to you, Sir. No, you certainly did not, said Mr. Benjamin Allen. Very good, Sir, responded Mrs. Raddle, with lofty politeness. Then praps, Sir, youll confine yourself to breaking the arms and legs of the poor people in the hospitals, and keep yourself TO yourself, Sir, or there may be some persons here as will make you, Sir. But you are such an unreasonable woman, remonstrated Mr. Benjamin Allen. I beg your parding, young man, said Mrs. Raddle, in a cold perspiration of anger. But will you have the goodness just to call me that again, sir? I didnt make use of the word in any invidious sense, maam, replied Mr. Benjamin Allen, growing somewhat uneasy on his own account. I beg your parding, young man, demanded Mrs. Raddle, in a louder and more imperative tone. But who do you call a woman? Did you make that remark to me, sir? Why, bless my heart! said Mr. Benjamin Allen. Did you apply that name to me, I ask of you, sir? interrupted Mrs. Raddle, with intense fierceness, throwing the door wide open. Why, of course I did, replied Mr. Benjamin Allen. Yes, of course you did, said Mrs. Raddle, backing gradually to the door, and raising her voice to its loudest pitch, for the special behoof of Mr. Raddle in the kitchen. Yes, of course you did! And everybody knows that they may safely insult me in my own ouse while my husband sits sleeping downstairs, and taking no more notice than if I was a dog in the streets. He ought to be ashamed of himself (here Mrs. Raddle sobbed) to allow his wife to be treated in this way by a parcel of young cutters and carvers of live peoples bodies, that disgraces the lodgings (another sob), and leaving her exposed to all manner of abuse; a base, faint- hearted, timorous wretch, thats afraid to come upstairs, and face the ruffinly creatures--thats afraid--thats afraid to come! Mrs. Raddle paused to listen whether the repetition of the taunt had roused her better half; and finding that it had not been successful, proceeded to descend the stairs with sobs innumerable; when there came a loud double knock at the street door; whereupon she burst into an hysterical fit of weeping, accompanied with dismal moans, which was prolonged until the knock had been repeated six times, when, in an uncontrollable burst of mental agony, she threw down all the umbrellas, and disappeared into the back parlour, closing the door after her with an awful crash. Does Mr. Sawyer live here? said Mr. Pickwick, when the door was opened. Yes, said the girl, first floor. Its the door straight afore you, when you gets to the top of the stairs. Having given this instruction, the handmaid, who had been brought

The Pickwick Papers page 212        The Pickwick Papers page 214