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The Pickwick Papers 240







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a greatcoat and cloak, lying on the seat beside him. He looked up from his breakfast as Mr. Pickwick entered, with a fierce and peremptory air, which was very dignified; and, having scrutinised that gentleman and his companions to his entire satisfaction, hummed a tune, in a manner which seemed to say that he rather suspected somebody wanted to take advantage of him, but it wouldnt do. Waiter, said the gentleman with the whiskers. Sir? replied a man with a dirty complexion, and a towel of the same, emerging from the kennel before mentioned. Some more toast. Yes, sir. Buttered toast, mind, said the gentleman fiercely. Directly, sir, replied the waiter. The gentleman with the whiskers hummed a tune in the same manner as before, and pending the arrival of the toast, advanced to the front of the fire, and, taking his coat tails under his arms, looked at his boots and ruminated. I wonder whereabouts in Bath this coach puts up, said Mr. Pickwick, mildly addressing Mr. Winkle. Hum--eh--whats that? said the strange man. I made an observation to my friend, sir, replied Mr. Pickwick, always ready to enter into conversation. I wondered at what house the Bath coach put up. Perhaps you can inform me. Are you going to Bath? said the strange man. I am, sir, replied Mr. Pickwick. And those other gentlemen? They are going also, said Mr. Pickwick. Not inside--Ill be damned if youre going inside, said the strange man. Not all of us, said Mr. Pickwick. No, not all of you, said the strange man emphatically. Ive taken two places. If they try to squeeze six people into an infernal box that only holds four, Ill take a post-chaise and bring an action. Ive paid my fare. It wont do; I told the clerk when I took my places that it wouldnt do. I know these things have been done. I know they are done every day; but I never was done, and I never will be. Those who know me best, best know it; crush me! Here the fierce gentleman rang the bell with great violence, and told the waiter hed better bring the toast in five seconds, or hed know the reason why. My good sir, said Mr. Pickwick, you will allow me to observe that this is a very unnecessary display of excitement. I have only taken places inside for two. I am glad to hear it, said the fierce man. I withdraw my expressions. I tender an apology. Theres my card. Give me your acquaintance. With great pleasure, Sir, replied Mr. Pickwick. We are to be fellow-travellers, and I hope we shall find each others society mutually agreeable. I hope we shall, said the fierce gentleman. I know we shall. I like your looks; they please me. Gentlemen, your hands and names. Know me. Of course, an interchange of friendly salutations followed this gracious speech; and the fierce gentleman immediately proceeded to inform the friends, in the same short, abrupt, jerking sentences, that his name was Dowler; that he was going to Bath on pleasure; that he was formerly in the army; that he had now set up in business as a gentleman; that he lived upon the profits; and that the individual for whom the second place was taken, was a personage no less illustrious than Mrs. Dowler, his lady wife. Shes a fine woman, said Mr. Dowler. I am proud of her. I have reason. I hope I shall have the pleasure of judging, said Mr. Pickwick, with a smile. You shall, replied Dowler. She shall know you. She shall esteem you. I courted her under singular circumstances. I won her through a rash vow. Thus. I saw her; I loved her; I proposed; she refused me.--"You love another?"--"Spare my blushes."-- "I know him."--"You do."--"Very good; if he remains here, Ill skin him." Lord bless me! exclaimed Mr. Pickwick involuntarily. Did you skin the gentleman, Sir? inquired Mr. Winkle, with a very pale face. I wrote him a note, I said it was a painful thing. And so it was. Certainly, interposed Mr. Winkle. I said I had pledged my word as a gentleman to skin him. My character was at stake. I had no alternative. As an officer in His Majestys service, I was bound to skin him. I regretted the necessity, but it must be done. He was open to conviction. He saw that the rules of the service were imperative.

The Pickwick Papers page 239        The Pickwick Papers page 241