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The Pickwick Papers 234







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as I recollect at this moment, nearly-- Pray, Mr. Winkle, do not evade the question. Are you, or are you not, a particular friend of the defendants? I was just about to say, that-- Will you, or will you not, answer my question, Sir? If you dont answer the question, youll be committed, Sir, interposed the little judge, looking over his note-book. Come, Sir, said Mr. Skimpin, yes or no, if you please. Yes, I am, replied Mr. Winkle. Yes, you are. And why couldnt you say that at once, Sir? Perhaps you know the plaintiff too? Eh, Mr. Winkle? I dont know her; Ive seen her. Oh, you dont know her, but youve seen her? Now, have the goodness to tell the gentlemen of the jury what you mean by that, Mr. Winkle. I mean that I am not intimate with her, but I have seen her when I went to call on Mr. Pickwick, in Goswell Street. How often have you seen her, Sir? How often? Yes, Mr. Winkle, how often? Ill repeat the question for you a dozen times, if you require it, Sir. And the learned gentleman, with a firm and steady frown, placed his hands on his hips, and smiled suspiciously to the jury. On this question there arose the edifying brow-beating, customary on such points. First of all, Mr. Winkle said it was quite impossible for him to say how many times he had seen Mrs. Bardell. Then he was asked if he had seen her twenty times, to which he replied, Certainly--more than that. Then he was asked whether he hadnt seen her a hundred times--whether he couldnt swear that he had seen her more than fifty times-- whether he didnt know that he had seen her at least seventy-five times, and so forth; the satisfactory conclusion which was arrived at, at last, being, that he had better take care of himself, and mind what he was about. The witness having been by these means reduced to the requisite ebb of nervous perplexity, the examination was continued as follows-- Pray, Mr. Winkle, do you remember calling on the defendant Pickwick at these apartments in the plaintiffs house in Goswell Street, on one particular morning, in the month of July last? Yes, I do. Were you accompanied on that occasion by a friend of the name of Tupman, and another by the name of Snodgrass? Yes, I was. Are they here? Yes, they are, replied Mr. Winkle, looking very earnestly towards the spot where his friends were stationed. Pray attend to me, Mr. Winkle, and never mind your friends, said Mr. Skimpin, with another expressive look at the jury. They must tell their stories without any previous consultation with you, if none has yet taken place (another look at the jury). Now, Sir, tell the gentlemen of the jury what you saw on entering the defendants room, on this particular morning. Come; out with it, Sir; we must have it, sooner or later. The defendant, Mr. Pickwick, was holding the plaintiff in his arms, with his hands clasping her waist, replied Mr. Winkle with natural hesitation, and the plaintiff appeared to have fainted away. Did you hear the defendant say anything? I heard him call Mrs. Bardell a good creature, and I heard him ask her to compose herself, for what a situation it was, if anybody should come, or words to that effect. Now, Mr. Winkle, I have only one more question to ask you, and I beg you to bear in mind his Lordships caution. Will you undertake to swear that Pickwick, the defendant, did not say on the occasion in question--"My dear Mrs. Bardell, youre a good creature; compose yourself to this situation, for to this situation you must come," or words to that effect? I--I didnt understand him so, certainly, said Mr. Winkle, astounded on this ingenious dove-tailing of the few words he had heard. I was on the staircase, and couldnt hear distinctly; the impression on my mind is-- The gentlemen of the jury want none of the impressions on your mind, Mr. Winkle, which I fear would be of little service to honest, straightforward men, interposed Mr. Skimpin. You were on the staircase, and didnt distinctly hear; but you will not swear that Pickwick did not make use of the expressions I have quoted? Do I understand that? No, I will not, replied Mr. Winkle; and down sat Mr. Skimpin with a triumphant countenance. Mr. Pickwicks case had not gone off in so particularly happy a manner, up to this point, that it

The Pickwick Papers page 233        The Pickwick Papers page 235