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The Pickwick Papers 218







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man was just beginning to have a dawning recollection of the story he had forgotten. Its hardly to be borne, said the prim man, looking round. Hardly to be borne, is it? Not to be endured, replied Jack Hopkins; lets have the other verse, Bob. Come, here goes! No, no, Jack, dont, interposed Bob Sawyer; its a capital song, but I am afraid we had better not have the other verse. They are very violent people, the people of the house. Shall I step upstairs, and pitch into the landlord? inquired Hopkins, or keep on ringing the bell, or go and groan on the staircase? You may command me, Bob. I am very much indebted to you for your friendship and good- nature, Hopkins, said the wretched Mr. Bob Sawyer, but I think the best plan to avoid any further dispute is for us to break up at once. Now, Mr. Sawyer, screamed the shrill voice of Mrs. Raddle, are them brutes going? Theyre only looking for their hats, Mrs. Raddle, said Bob; they are going directly. Going! said Mrs. Raddle, thrusting her nightcap over the banisters just as Mr. Pickwick, followed by Mr. Tupman, emerged from the sitting-room. Going! what did they ever come for? My dear maam, remonstrated Mr. Pickwick, looking up. Get along with you, old wretch! replied Mrs. Raddle, hastily withdrawing the nightcap. Old enough to be his grandfather, you willin! Youre worse than any of em. Mr. Pickwick found it in vain to protest his innocence, so hurried downstairs into the street, whither he was closely followed by Mr. Tupman, Mr. Winkle, and Mr. Snodgrass. Mr. Ben Allen, who was dismally depressed with spirits and agitation, accompanied them as far as London Bridge, and in the course of the walk confided to Mr. Winkle, as an especially eligible person to intrust the secret to, that he was resolved to cut the throat of any gentleman, except Mr. Bob Sawyer, who should aspire to the affections of his sister Arabella. Having expressed his determination to perform this painful duty of a brother with proper firmness, he burst into tears, knocked his hat over his eyes, and, making the best of his way back, knocked double knocks at the door of the Borough Market office, and took short naps on the steps alternately, until daybreak, under the firm impression that he lived there, and had forgotten the key. The visitors having all departed, in compliance with the rather pressing request of Mrs. Raddle, the luckless Mr. Bob Sawyer was left alone, to meditate on the probable events of to-morrow, and the pleasures of the evening.

CHAPTER XXXIII

Mr. WELLER THE ELDER DELIVERS SOME CRITICAL SENTIMENTS RESPECTING LITERARY COMPOSITION; AND, ASSISTED BY HIS SON SAMUEL, PAYS A SMALL INSTALMENT OF RETALIATION TO THE ACCOUNT OF THE REVEREND GENTLEMAN WITH THE RED NOSE

The morning of the thirteenth of February, which the readers of this authentic narrative know, as well as we do, to have been the day immediately preceding that which was appointed for the trial of Mrs. Bardells action, was a busy time for Mr. Samuel Weller, who was perpetually engaged in travelling from the George and Vulture to Mr. Perkers chambers and back again, from and between the hours of nine oclock in the morning and two in the afternoon, both inclusive. Not that there was anything whatever to be done, for the consultation had taken place, and the course of proceeding to be adopted, had been finally determined on; but Mr. Pickwick being in a most extreme state of excitement, persevered in constantly sending small notes to his attorney, merely containing the inquiry, Dear Perker. Is all going on well? to which Mr. Perker invariably forwarded the reply, Dear Pickwick. As well as possible; the fact being, as we have already hinted, that there was nothing whatever to go on, either well or ill, until the sitting of the court on the following morning. But people who go voluntarily to law, or are taken forcibly there, for the first time, may be allowed to labour under some temporary irritation and anxiety; and Sam, with a due allowance for the frailties of human nature, obeyed all his masters behests with that imperturbable good-humour and unruffable composure which formed one of his most striking and amiable characteristics. Sam had solaced himself with a most agreeable little dinner, and was waiting at the bar for the glass of warm mixture in which Mr. Pickwick had requested him to drown the fatigues of his mornings walks,

The Pickwick Papers page 217        The Pickwick Papers page 219