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The Pickwick Papers 216







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finished his beer, and audibly stating, despite the winks and interruptions of Mr. Bob Sawyer, that it was to be conveyed downstairs, and washed forthwith. It is a very ill wind that blows nobody any good. The prim man in the cloth boots, who had been unsuccessfully attempting to make a joke during the whole time the round game lasted, saw his opportunity, and availed himself of it. The instant the glasses disappeared, he commenced a long story about a great public character, whose name he had forgotten, making a particularly happy reply to another eminent and illustrious individual whom he had never been able to identify. He enlarged at some length and with great minuteness upon divers collateral circumstances, distantly connected with the anecdote in hand, but for the life of him he couldnt recollect at that precise moment what the anecdote was, although he had been in the habit of telling the story with great applause for the last ten years. Dear me, said the prim man in the cloth boots, it is a very extraordinary circumstance. I am sorry you have forgotten it, said Mr. Bob Sawyer, glancing eagerly at the door, as he thought he heard the noise of glasses jingling; very sorry. So am I, responded the prim man, because I know it would have afforded so much amusement. Never mind; I dare say I shall manage to recollect it, in the course of half an hour or so. The prim man arrived at this point just as the glasses came back, when Mr. Bob Sawyer, who had been absorbed in attention during the whole time, said he should very much like to hear the end of it, for, so far as it went, it was, without exception, the very best story he had ever heard. The sight of the tumblers restored Bob Sawyer to a degree of equanimity which he had not possessed since his interview with his landlady. His face brightened up, and he began to feel quite convivial. Now, Betsy, said Mr. Bob Sawyer, with great suavity, and dispersing, at the same time, the tumultuous little mob of glasses the girl had collected in the centre of the table--now, Betsy, the warm water; be brisk, theres a good girl. You cant have no warm water, replied Betsy. No warm water! exclaimed Mr. Bob Sawyer. No, said the girl, with a shake of the head which expressed a more decided negative than the most copious language could have conveyed. Missis Raddle said you warnt to have none. The surprise depicted on the countenances of his guests imparted new courage to the host. Bring up the warm water instantly--instantly! said Mr. Bob Sawyer, with desperate sternness. No. I cant, replied the girl; Missis Raddle raked out the kitchen fire afore she went to bed, and locked up the kittle. Oh, never mind; never mind. Pray dont disturb yourself about such a trifle, said Mr. Pickwick, observing the conflict of Bob Sawyers passions, as depicted in his countenance, cold water will do very well. Oh, admirably, said Mr. Benjamin Allen. My landlady is subject to some slight attacks of mental derangement, remarked Bob Sawyer, with a ghastly smile; I fear I must give her warning. No, dont, said Ben Allen. I fear I must, said Bob, with heroic firmness. Ill pay her what I owe her, and give her warning to-morrow morning. Poor fellow! how devoutly he wished he could! Mr. Bob Sawyers heart-sickening attempts to rally under this last blow, communicated a dispiriting influence to the company, the greater part of whom, with the view of raising their spirits, attached themselves with extra cordiality to the cold brandy-and- water, the first perceptible effects of which were displayed in a renewal of hostilities between the scorbutic youth and the gentleman in the shirt. The belligerents vented their feelings of mutual contempt, for some time, in a variety of frownings and snortings, until at last the scorbutic youth felt it necessary to come to a more explicit understanding on the matter; when the following clear understanding took place. Sawyer, said the scorbutic youth, in a loud voice. Well, Noddy, replied Mr. Bob Sawyer. I should be very sorry, Sawyer, said Mr. Noddy, to create any unpleasantness at any friends table, and much less at yours, Sawyer--very; but I must take this opportunity of informing Mr. Gunter that he is no gentleman. And I should be very sorry, Sawyer, to create any disturbance in the street in which you reside, said Mr. Gunter, but Im afraid I shall be under the necessity of alarming

The Pickwick Papers page 215        The Pickwick Papers page 217