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The Pickwick Papers 226







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all right, Sir. Oh, very well, rejoined Mr. Anthony Humm, retreating a few paces. I believe no man here has ventured to say that I am not all right, Sir? said Mr. Stiggins. Oh, certainly not, said Mr. Humm. I should advise him not to, Sir; I should advise him not, said Mr. Stiggins. By this time the audience were perfectly silent, and waited with some anxiety for the resumption of business. Will you address the meeting, brother? said Mr. Humm, with a smile of invitation. No, sir, rejoined Mr. Stiggins; No, sir. I will not, sir. The meeting looked at each other with raised eyelids; and a murmur of astonishment ran through the room. Its my opinion, sir, said Mr. Stiggins, unbuttoning his coat, and speaking very loudly--its my opinion, sir, that this meeting is drunk, sir. Brother Tadger, sir! said Mr. Stiggins, suddenly increasing in ferocity, and turning sharp round on the little man in the drab shorts, YOU are drunk, sir! With this, Mr. Stiggins, entertaining a praiseworthy desire to promote the sobriety of the meeting, and to exclude therefrom all improper characters, hit Brother Tadger on the summit of the nose with such unerring aim, that the drab shorts disappeared like a flash of lightning. Brother Tadger had been knocked, head first, down the ladder. Upon this, the women set up a loud and dismal screaming; and rushing in small parties before their favourite brothers, flung their arms around them to preserve them from danger. An instance of affection, which had nearly proved fatal to Humm, who, being extremely popular, was all but suffocated, by the crowd of female devotees that hung about his neck, and heaped caresses upon him. The greater part of the lights were quickly put out, and nothing but noise and confusion resounded on all sides. Now, Sammy, said Mr. Weller, taking off his greatcoat with much deliberation, just you step out, and fetch in a watchman. And wot are you a-goin to do, the while? inquired Sam. Never you mind me, Sammy, replied the old gentleman; I shall ockipy myself in havin a small settlement with that ere Stiggins. Before Sam could interfere to prevent it, his heroic parent had penetrated into a remote corner of the room, and attacked the Reverend Mr. Stiggins with manual dexterity. Come off! said Sam. Come on! cried Mr. Weller; and without further invitation he gave the Reverend Mr. Stiggins a preliminary tap on the head, and began dancing round him in a buoyant and cork-like manner, which in a gentleman at his time of life was a perfect marvel to behold. Finding all remonstrances unavailing, Sam pulled his hat firmly on, threw his fathers coat over his arm, and taking the old man round the waist, forcibly dragged him down the ladder, and into the street; never releasing his hold, or permitting him to stop, until they reached the corner. As they gained it, they could hear the shouts of the populace, who were witnessing the removal of the Reverend Mr. Stiggins to strong lodgings for the night, and could hear the noise occasioned by the dispersion in various directions of the members of the Brick Lane Branch of the United Grand Junction Ebenezer Temperance Association.

CHAPTER XXXIV

IS WHOLLY DEVOTED TO A FULL AND FAITHFUL REPORT OF THE MEMORABLE TRIAL OF BARDELL AGAINST PICKWICK

I wonder what the foreman of the jury, whoever hell be, has got for breakfast, said Mr. Snodgrass, by way of keeping up a conversation on the eventful morning of the fourteenth of February. Ah! said Perker, I hope hes got a good one. Why so? inquired Mr. Pickwick. Highly important--very important, my dear Sir, replied Perker. A good, contented, well-breakfasted juryman is a capital thing to get hold of. Discontented or hungry jurymen, my dear sir, always find for the plaintiff. Bless my heart, said Mr. Pickwick, looking very blank, what do they do that for? Why, I dont know, replied the little man coolly; saves time, I suppose. If its near dinner-time, the foreman takes out his watch when the jury has retired, and says, "Dear me, gentlemen, ten minutes to five, I declare! I dine at five, gentlemen." "So do I," says everybody else, except two men who ought to have dined at three and seem more than half disposed to stand out in consequence. The foreman smiles, and puts up his watch:--"Well, gentlemen, what do we say, plaintiff or defendant, gentlemen? I rather think, so far as I am concerned, gentlemen,--I say, I rather think--but

The Pickwick Papers page 225        The Pickwick Papers page 227