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The Pickwick Papers 235

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Martin Eden

The Pickwick Papers

The Sea Wolf

could very well afford to have any additional suspicion cast upon it. But as it could afford to be placed in a rather better light, if possible, Mr. Phunky rose for the purpose of getting something important out of Mr. Winkle in cross-examination. Whether he did get anything important out of him, will immediately appear. I believe, Mr. Winkle, said Mr. Phunky, that Mr. Pickwick is not a young man? Oh, no, replied Mr. Winkle; old enough to be my father. You have told my learned friend that you have known Mr. Pickwick a long time. Had you ever any reason to suppose or believe that he was about to be married? Oh, no; certainly not; replied Mr. Winkle with so much eagerness, that Mr. Phunky ought to have got him out of the box with all possible dispatch. Lawyers hold that there are two kinds of particularly bad witnesses--a reluctant witness, and a too-willing witness; it was Mr. Winkles fate to figure in both characters. I will even go further than this, Mr. Winkle, continued Mr. Phunky, in a most smooth and complacent manner. Did you ever see anything in Mr. Pickwicks manner and conduct towards the opposite sex, to induce you to believe that he ever contemplated matrimony of late years, in any case? Oh, no; certainly not, replied Mr. Winkle. Has his behaviour, when females have been in the case, always been that of a man, who, having attained a pretty advanced period of life, content with his own occupations and amusements, treats them only as a father might his daughters? Not the least doubt of it, replied Mr. Winkle, in the fulness of his heart. That is--yes--oh, yes--certainly. You have never known anything in his behaviour towards Mrs. Bardell, or any other female, in the least degree suspicious? said Mr. Phunky, preparing to sit down; for Serjeant Snubbin was winking at him. N-n-no, replied Mr. Winkle, except on one trifling occasion, which, I have no doubt, might be easily explained. Now, if the unfortunate Mr. Phunky had sat down when Serjeant Snubbin had winked at him, or if Serjeant Buzfuz had stopped this irregular cross-examination at the outset (which he knew better than to do; observing Mr. Winkles anxiety, and well knowing it would, in all probability, lead to something serviceable to him), this unfortunate admission would not have been elicited. The moment the words fell from Mr. Winkles lips, Mr. Phunky sat down, and Serjeant Snubbin rather hastily told him he might leave the box, which Mr. Winkle prepared to do with great readiness, when Serjeant Buzfuz stopped him. Stay, Mr. Winkle, stay! said Serjeant Buzfuz, will your Lordship have the goodness to ask him, what this one instance of suspicious behaviour towards females on the part of this gentleman, who is old enough to be his father, was? You hear what the learned counsel says, Sir, observed the judge, turning to the miserable and agonised Mr. Winkle. Describe the occasion to which you refer. My Lord, said Mr. Winkle, trembling with anxiety, I--Id rather not. Perhaps so, said the little judge; but you must. Amid the profound silence of the whole court, Mr. Winkle faltered out, that the trifling circumstance of suspicion was Mr. Pickwicks being found in a ladys sleeping-apartment at midnight; which had terminated, he believed, in the breaking off of the projected marriage of the lady in question, and had led, he knew, to the whole party being forcibly carried before George Nupkins, Esq., magistrate and justice of the peace, for the borough of Ipswich! You may leave the box, Sir, said Serjeant Snubbin. Mr. Winkle did leave the box, and rushed with delirious haste to the George and Vulture, where he was discovered some hours after, by the waiter, groaning in a hollow and dismal manner, with his head buried beneath the sofa cushions. Tracy Tupman, and Augustus Snodgrass, were severally called into the box; both corroborated the testimony of their unhappy friend; and each was driven to the verge of desperation by excessive badgering. Susannah Sanders was then called, and examined by Serjeant Buzfuz, and cross-examined by Serjeant Snubbin. Had always said and believed that Pickwick would marry Mrs. Bardell; knew that Mrs. Bardells being engaged to Pickwick was the current topic of conversation in the neighbourhood, after the fainting in July; had been told it herself by Mrs. Mudberry which kept a mangle, and Mrs. Bunkin which clear-starched, but did not see either Mrs. Mudberry or Mrs. Bunkin in court. Had heard Pickwick ask the little boy how he should like to have another father. Did not know

The Pickwick Papers page 234        The Pickwick Papers page 236