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The Pickwick Papers 254







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The Pickwick Papers

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wery inexpressive word, thats all, said Sam. It may be, but I aint much in the chimical line myself, so I cant say. And here, to the great horror of Mr. John Smauker, Sam Weller began to whistle. I beg your pardon, Mr. Weller, said Mr. John Smauker, agonised at the exceeding ungenteel sound, will you take my arm? Thankee, youre wery good, but I wont deprive you of it, replied Sam. Ive rayther a way o putting my hands in my pockets, if its all the same to you. As Sam said this, he suited the action to the word, and whistled far louder than before. This way, said his new friend, apparently much relieved as they turned down a by-street; we shall soon be there. Shall we? said Sam, quite unmoved by the announcement of his close vicinity to the select footmen of Bath. Yes, said Mr. John Smauker. Dont be alarmed, Mr. Weller. Oh, no, said Sam. Youll see some very handsome uniforms, Mr. Weller, continued Mr. John Smauker; and perhaps youll find some of the gentlemen rather high at first, you know, but theyll soon come round. Thats wery kind on em, replied Sam. And you know, resumed Mr. John Smauker, with an air of sublime protection--you know, as youre a stranger, perhaps, theyll be rather hard upon you at first. They wont be wery cruel, though, will they? inquired Sam. No, no, replied Mr. John Smauker, pulling forth the foxs head, and taking a gentlemanly pinch. There are some funny dogs among us, and they will have their joke, you know; but you mustnt mind em, you mustnt mind em. Ill try and bear up agin such a reglar knock down o talent, replied Sam. Thats right, said Mr. John Smauker, putting forth his foxs head, and elevating his own; Ill stand by you. By this time they had reached a small greengrocers shop, which Mr. John Smauker entered, followed by Sam, who, the moment he got behind him, relapsed into a series of the very broadest and most unmitigated grins, and manifested other demonstrations of being in a highly enviable state of inward merriment. Crossing the greengrocers shop, and putting their hats on the stairs in the little passage behind it, they walked into a small parlour; and here the full splendour of the scene burst upon Mr. Wellers view. A couple of tables were put together in the middle of the parlour, covered with three or four cloths of different ages and dates of washing, arranged to look as much like one as the circumstances of the case would allow. Upon these were laid knives and forks for six or eight people. Some of the knife handles were green, others red, and a few yellow; and as all the forks were black, the combination of colours was exceedingly striking. Plates for a corresponding number of guests were warming behind the fender; and the guests themselves were warming before it: the chief and most important of whom appeared to be a stoutish gentleman in a bright crimson coat with long tails, vividly red breeches, and a cocked hat, who was standing with his back to the fire, and had apparently just entered, for besides retaining his cocked hat on his head, he carried in his hand a high stick, such as gentlemen of his profession usually elevate in a sloping position over the roofs of carriages. Smauker, my lad, your fin, said the gentleman with the cocked hat. Mr. Smauker dovetailed the top joint of his right-hand little finger into that of the gentleman with the cocked hat, and said he was charmed to see him looking so well. Well, they tell me I am looking pretty blooming, said the man with the cocked hat, and its a wonder, too. Ive been following our old woman about, two hours a day, for the last fortnight; and if a constant contemplation of the manner in which she hooks-and-eyes that infernal lavender- coloured old gown of hers behind, isnt enough to throw anybody into a low state of despondency for life, stop my quarters salary. At this, the assembled selections laughed very heartily; and one gentleman in a yellow waistcoat, with a coach-trimming border, whispered a neighbour in green-foil smalls, that Tuckle was in spirits to-night. By the bye, said Mr. Tuckle, Smauker, my boy, you-- The remainder of the sentence was forwarded into Mr. John Smaukers ear, by whisper. Oh, dear me, I quite forgot, said Mr. John Smauker. Gentlemen, my friend Mr. Weller. Sorry to keep the fire off you, Weller, said

The Pickwick Papers page 253        The Pickwick Papers page 255