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The Pickwick Papers 247







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The Pickwick Papers

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inscription, to which all the water-drinkers should attend, for it appeals to them in the cause of a deserving charity. There is a large bar with a marble vase, out of which the pumper gets the water; and there are a number of yellow-looking tumblers, out of which the company get it; and it is a most edifying and satisfactory sight to behold the perseverance and gravity with which they swallow it. There are baths near at hand, in which a part of the company wash themselves; and a band plays afterwards, to congratulate the remainder on their having done so. There is another pump room, into which infirm ladies and gentlemen are wheeled, in such an astonishing variety of chairs and chaises, that any adventurous individual who goes in with the regular number of toes, is in imminent danger of coming out without them; and there is a third, into which the quiet people go, for it is less noisy than either. There is an immensity of promenading, on crutches and off, with sticks and without, and a great deal of conversation, and liveliness, and pleasantry. Every morning, the regular water-drinkers, Mr. Pickwick among the number, met each other in the pump room, took their quarter of a pint, and walked constitutionally. At the afternoons promenade, Lord Mutanhed, and the Honourable Mr. Crushton, the Dowager Lady Snuphanuph, Mrs. Colonel Wugsby, and all the great people, and all the morning water-drinkers, met in grand assemblage. After this, they walked out, or drove out, or were pushed out in bath-chairs, and met one another again. After this, the gentlemen went to the reading-rooms, and met divisions of the mass. After this, they went home. If it were theatre-night, perhaps they met at the theatre; if it were assembly-night, they met at the rooms; and if it were neither, they met the next day. A very pleasant routine, with perhaps a slight tinge of sameness. Mr. Pickwick was sitting up by himself, after a day spent in this manner, making entries in his journal, his friends having retired to bed, when he was roused by a gentle tap at the room door. Beg your pardon, Sir, said Mrs. Craddock, the landlady, peeping in; but did you want anything more, sir? Nothing more, maam, replied Mr. Pickwick. My young girl is gone to bed, Sir, said Mrs. Craddock; and Mr. Dowler is good enough to say that hell sit up for Mrs. Dowler, as the party isnt expected to be over till late; so I was thinking that if you wanted nothing more, Mr. Pickwick, I would go to bed. By all means, maam, replied Mr. Pickwick. Wish you good-night, Sir, said Mrs. Craddock. Good-night, maam, rejoined Mr. Pickwick. Mrs. Craddock closed the door, and Mr. Pickwick resumed his writing. In half an hours time the entries were concluded. Mr. Pickwick carefully rubbed the last page on the blotting-paper, shut up the book, wiped his pen on the bottom of the inside of his coat tail, and opened the drawer of the inkstand to put it carefully away. There were a couple of sheets of writing-paper, pretty closely written over, in the inkstand drawer, and they were folded so, that the title, which was in a good round hand, was fully disclosed to him. Seeing from this, that it was no private document; and as it seemed to relate to Bath, and was very short: Mr. Pick- wick unfolded it, lighted his bedroom candle that it might burn up well by the time he finished; and drawing his chair nearer the fire, read as follows-- THE TRUE LEGEND OF PRINCE BLADUD Less than two hundred years ago, on one of the public baths in this city, there appeared an inscription in honour of its mighty founder, the renowned Prince Bladud. That inscription is now erased. For many hundred years before that time, there had been handed down, from age to age, an old legend, that the illustrious prince being afflicted with leprosy, on his return from reaping a rich harvest of knowledge in Athens, shunned the court of his royal father, and consorted moodily with husbandman and pigs. Among the herd (so said the legend) was a pig of grave and solemn countenance, with whom the prince had a fellow-feeling --for he too was wise--a pig of thoughtful and reserved demeanour; an animal superior to his fellows, whose grunt was terrible, and whose bite was sharp. The young prince sighed deeply as he looked upon the countenance of the

The Pickwick Papers page 246        The Pickwick Papers page 248