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The Pickwick Papers 264

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Martin Eden

The Pickwick Papers

The Sea Wolf

head to foot, before I consent to sit down beside, or opposite you, without the presence of a waiter, I must be secured by some further understanding. You used a threat against me last night, Sir, a dreadful threat, Sir. Here Mr. Winkle turned very pale indeed, and stopped short. I did, said Dowler, with a countenance almost as white as Mr. Winkles. Circumstances were suspicious. They have been explained. I respect your bravery. Your feeling is upright. Conscious innocence. Theres my hand. Grasp it. Really, Sir, said Mr. Winkle, hesitating whether to give his hand or not, and almost fearing that it was demanded in order that he might be taken at an advantage, really, Sir, I-- I know what you mean, interposed Dowler. You feel aggrieved. Very natural. So should I. I was wrong. I beg your pardon. Be friendly. Forgive me. With this, Dowler fairly forced his hand upon Mr. Winkle, and shaking it with the utmost vehemence, declared he was a fellow of extreme spirit, and he had a higher opinion of him than ever. Now, said Dowler, sit down. Relate it all. How did you find me? When did you follow? Be frank. Tell me. Its quite accidental, replied Mr. Winkle, greatly perplexed by the curious and unexpected nature of the interview. Quite. Glad of it, said Dowler. I woke this morning. I had forgotten my threat. I laughed at the accident. I felt friendly. I said so. To whom? inquired Mr. Winkle. To Mrs. Dowler. "You made a vow," said she. "I did," said I. "It was a rash one," said she. "It was," said I. "Ill apologise. Where is he?" Who? inquired Mr. Winkle. You, replied Dowler. I went downstairs. You were not to be found. Pickwick looked gloomy. Shook his head. Hoped no violence would be committed. I saw it all. You felt yourself insulted. You had gone, for a friend perhaps. Possibly for pistols. "High spirit," said I. "I admire him." Mr. Winkle coughed, and beginning to see how the land lay, assumed a look of importance. I left a note for you, resumed Dowler. I said I was sorry. So I was. Pressing business called me here. You were not satisfied. You followed. You required a verbal explanation. You were right. Its all over now. My business is finished. I go back to-morrow. Join me. As Dowler progressed in his explanation, Mr. Winkles countenance grew more and more dignified. The mysterious nature of the commencement of their conversation was explained; Mr. Dowler had as great an objection to duelling as himself; in short, this blustering and awful personage was one of the most egregious cowards in existence, and interpreting Mr. Winkles absence through the medium of his own fears, had taken the same step as himself, and prudently retired until all excitement of feeling should have subsided. As the real state of the case dawned upon Mr. Winkles mind, he looked very terrible, and said he was perfectly satisfied; but at the same time, said so with an air that left Mr. Dowler no alternative but to infer that if he had not been, something most horrible and destructive must inevitably have occurred. Mr. Dowler appeared to be impressed with a becoming sense of Mr. Winkles magnanimity and condescension; and the two belligerents parted for the night, with many protestations of eternal friendship. About half-past twelve oclock, when Mr. Winkle had been revelling some twenty minutes in the full luxury of his first sleep, he was suddenly awakened by a loud knocking at his chamber door, which, being repeated with increased vehemence, caused him to start up in bed, and inquire who was there, and what the matter was. Please, Sir, heres a young man which says he must see you directly, responded the voice of the chambermaid. A young man! exclaimed Mr. Winkle. No mistake about that ere, Sir, replied another voice through the keyhole; and if that wery same interestin young creetur aint let in vithout delay, its wery possible as his legs vill enter afore his countenance. The young man gave a gentle kick at one of the lower panels of the door, after he had given utterance to this hint, as if to add force and point to the remark. Is that you, Sam? inquired Mr.

The Pickwick Papers page 263        The Pickwick Papers page 265