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The Pickwick Papers 266







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the outside, and carry off the key; provided always, that in the event of an alarm of fire, or other dangerous contingency, the door should be instantly unlocked. That a letter should be written to Mr. Pickwick early next morning, and forwarded per Dowler, requesting his consent to Sam and Mr. Winkles remaining at Bristol, for the purpose and with the object already assigned, and begging an answer by the next coach--, if favourable, the aforesaid parties to remain accordingly, and if not, to return to Bath immediately on the receipt thereof. And, lastly, that Mr. Winkle should be understood as distinctly pledging himself not to resort to the window, fireplace, or other surreptitious mode of escape in the meanwhile. These stipulations having been concluded, Sam locked the door and departed. He had nearly got downstairs, when he stopped, and drew the key from his pocket. I quite forgot about the knockin down, said Sam, half turning back. The governor distinctly said it was to be done. Amazin stupid o me, that ere! Never mind, said Sam, brightening up, its easily done to-morrow, anyvays. Apparently much consoled by this reflection, Mr. Weller once more deposited the key in his pocket, and descending the remainder of the stairs without any fresh visitations of conscience, was soon, in common with the other inmates of the house, buried in profound repose.

CHAPTER XXXIX

Mr. SAMUEL WELLER, BEING INTRUSTED WITH A MISSION OF LOVE, PROCEEDS TO EXECUTE IT; WITH WHAT SUCCESS WILL HEREINAFTER APPEAR

During the whole of next day, Sam kept Mr. Winkle steadily in sight, fully determined not to take his eyes off him for one instant, until he should receive express instructions from the fountain-head. However disagreeable Sams very close watch and great vigilance were to Mr. Winkle, he thought it better to bear with them, than, by any act of violent opposition, to hazard being carried away by force, which Mr. Weller more than once strongly hinted was the line of conduct that a strict sense of duty prompted him to pursue. There is little reason to doubt that Sam would very speedily have quieted his scruples, by bearing Mr. Winkle back to Bath, bound hand and foot, had not Mr. Pickwicks prompt attention to the note, which Dowler had undertaken to deliver, forestalled any such proceeding. In short, at eight oclock in the evening, Mr. Pickwick himself walked into the coffee-room of the Bush Tavern, and told Sam with a smile, to his very great relief, that he had done quite right, and it was unnecessary for him to mount guard any longer. I thought it better to come myself, said Mr. Pickwick, addressing Mr. Winkle, as Sam disencumbered him of his great- coat and travelling-shawl, to ascertain, before I gave my consent to Sams employment in this matter, that you are quite in earnest and serious, with respect to this young lady. Serious, from my heart--from my soul!returned Mr. Winkle, with great energy. Remember, said Mr. Pickwick, with beaming eyes, we met her at our excellent and hospitable friends, Winkle. It would be an ill return to tamper lightly, and without due consideration, with this young ladys affections. Ill not allow that, sir. Ill not allow it. I have no such intention, indeed, exclaimed Mr. Winkle warmly. I have considered the matter well, for a long time, and I feel that my happiness is bound up in her. Thats wot we call tying it up in a small parcel, sir, interposed Mr. Weller, with an agreeable smile. Mr. Winkle looked somewhat stern at this interruption, and Mr. Pickwick angrily requested his attendant not to jest with one of the best feelings of our nature; to which Sam replied, That he wouldnt, if he was aware on it; but there were so many on em, that he hardly knowd which was the best ones wen he heerd em mentioned. Mr. Winkle then recounted what had passed between himself and Mr. Ben Allen, relative to Arabella; stated that his object was to gain an interview with the young lady, and make a formal disclosure of his passion; and declared his conviction, founded on certain dark hints and mutterings of the aforesaid Ben, that, wherever she was at present immured, it was somewhere near the Downs. And this was his whole stock of knowledge or suspicion on the subject. With this very slight clue to guide him, it was determined that Mr. Weller should start next morning on an expedition of discovery; it was also arranged that Mr.

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