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The Pickwick Papers 255







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Martin Eden

The Pickwick Papers

The Sea Wolf




Mr. Tuckle, with a familiar nod. Hope youre not cold, Weller. Not by no means, Blazes, replied Sam. It ud be a wery chilly subject as felt cold wen you stood opposite. Youd save coals if they put you behind the fender in the waitin-room at a public office, you would. As this retort appeared to convey rather a personal allusion to Mr. Tuckles crimson livery, that gentleman looked majestic for a few seconds, but gradually edging away from the fire, broke into a forced smile, and said it wasnt bad. Wery much obliged for your good opinion, sir, replied Sam. We shall get on by degrees, I des-say. Well try a better one by and bye. At this point the conversation was interrupted by the arrival of a gentleman in orange-coloured plush, accompanied by another selection in purple cloth, with a great extent of stocking. The new-comers having been welcomed by the old ones, Mr. Tuckle put the question that supper be ordered in, which was carried unanimously. The greengrocer and his wife then arranged upon the table a boiled leg of mutton, hot, with caper sauce, turnips, and potatoes. Mr. Tuckle took the chair, and was supported at the other end of the board by the gentleman in orange plush. The greengrocer put on a pair of wash-leather gloves to hand the plates with, and stationed himself behind Mr. Tuckles chair. Harris, said Mr. Tuckle, in a commanding tone. Sir, said the greengrocer. Have you got your gloves on? Yes, Sir. Then take the kiver off. Yes, Sir. The greengrocer did as he was told, with a show of great humility, and obsequiously handed Mr. Tuckle the carving- knife; in doing which, he accidentally gaped. What do you mean by that, Sir? said Mr. Tuckle, with great asperity. I beg your pardon, Sir, replied the crestfallen greengrocer, I didnt mean to do it, Sir; I was up very late last night, Sir. I tell you what my opinion of you is, Harris, said Mr. Tuckle, with a most impressive air, youre a wulgar beast. I hope, gentlemen, said Harris, that you wont be severe with me, gentlemen. I am very much obliged to you indeed, gentlemen, for your patronage, and also for your recommendations, gentlemen, whenever additional assistance in waiting is required. I hope, gentlemen, I give satisfaction. No, you dont, Sir, said Mr. Tuckle. Very far from it, Sir. We consider you an inattentive reskel, said the gentleman in the orange plush. And a low thief, added the gentleman in the green-foil smalls. And an unreclaimable blaygaird, added the gentleman in purple. The poor greengrocer bowed very humbly while these little epithets were bestowed upon him, in the true spirit of the very smallest tyranny; and when everybody had said something to show his superiority, Mr. Tuckle proceeded to carve the leg of mutton, and to help the company. This important business of the evening had hardly commenced, when the door was thrown briskly open, and another gentleman in a light-blue suit, and leaden buttons, made his appearance. Against the rules, said Mr. Tuckle. Too late, too late. No, no; positively I couldnt help it, said the gentleman in blue. I appeal to the company. An affair of gallantry now, an appointment at the theayter. Oh, that indeed, said the gentleman in the orange plush. Yes; raly now, honour bright, said the man in blue. I made a promese to fetch our youngest daughter at half-past ten, and she is such an uncauminly fine gal, that I raly hadnt the art to disappint her. No offence to the present company, Sir, but a petticut, sir--a petticut, Sir, is irrevokeable. I begin to suspect theres something in that quarter, said Tuckle, as the new-comer took his seat next Sam, Ive remarked, once or twice, that she leans very heavy on your shoulder when she gets in and out of the carriage. Oh, raly, raly, Tuckle, you shouldnt, said the man in blue. Its not fair. I may have said to one or two friends that she wos a very divine creechure, and had refused one or two offers without any hobvus cause, but--no, no, no, indeed, Tuckle--before strangers, too--its not right--you shouldnt. Delicacy, my dear friend, delicacy! And the man in blue, pulling up his neckerchief, and adjusting his coat cuffs, nodded and frowned as if there were more behind, which he could say if he liked, but was bound in honour to suppress. The man in blue being a light-haired, stiff-necked, free and easy sort of footman, with a swaggering air and

The Pickwick Papers page 254        The Pickwick Papers page 256