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The Pickwick Papers 267







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The Pickwick Papers

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Pickwick and Mr. Winkle, who were less confident of their powers, should parade the town meanwhile, and accidentally drop in upon Mr. Bob Sawyer in the course of the day, in the hope of seeing or hearing something of the young ladys whereabouts. Accordingly, next morning, Sam Weller issued forth upon his quest, in no way daunted by the very discouraging prospect before him; and away he walked, up one street and down another --we were going to say, up one hill and down another, only its all uphill at Clifton--without meeting with anything or anybody that tended to throw the faintest light on the matter in hand. Many were the colloquies into which Sam entered with grooms who were airing horses on roads, and nursemaids who were airing children in lanes; but nothing could Sam elicit from either the first-mentioned or the last, which bore the slightest reference to the object of his artfully-prosecuted inquiries. There were a great many young ladies in a great many houses, the greater part whereof were shrewdly suspected by the male and female domestics to be deeply attached to somebody, or perfectly ready to become so, if opportunity afforded. But as none among these young ladies was Miss Arabella Allen, the information left Sam at exactly the old point of wisdom at which he had stood before. Sam struggled across the Downs against a good high wind, wondering whether it was always necessary to hold your hat on with both hands in that part of the country, and came to a shady by-place, about which were sprinkled several little villas of quiet and secluded appearance. Outside a stable door at the bottom of a long back lane without a thoroughfare, a groom in undress was idling about, apparently persuading himself that he was doing something with a spade and a wheel-barrow. We may remark, in this place, that we have scarcely ever seen a groom near a stable, in his lazy moments, who has not been, to a greater or less extent, the victim of this singular delusion. Sam thought he might as well talk to this groom as to any one else, especially as he was very tired with walking, and there was a good large stone just opposite the wheel-barrow; so he strolled down the lane, and, seating himself on the stone, opened a conversation with the ease and freedom for which he was remarkable. Mornin, old friend, said Sam. Arternoon, you mean, replied the groom, casting a surly look at Sam. Youre wery right, old friend, said Sam; I DO mean arternoon. How are you? Why, I dont find myself much the better for seeing of you, replied the ill-tempered groom. Thats wery odd--that is, said Sam, for you look so uncommon cheerful, and seem altogether so lively, that it does vuns heart good to see you. The surly groom looked surlier still at this, but not sufficiently so to produce any effect upon Sam, who immediately inquired, with a countenance of great anxiety, whether his masters name was not Walker. No, it aint, said the groom. Nor Brown, I spose? said Sam. No, it aint. Nor Vilson? No; nor that @ither, said the groom. Vell, replied Sam, then Im mistaken, and he hasnt got the honour o my acquaintance, which I thought he had. Dont wait here out o compliment to me, said Sam, as the groom wheeled in the barrow, and prepared to shut the gate. Ease afore ceremony, old boy; Ill excuse you. Id knock your head off for half-a-crown, said the surly groom, bolting one half of the gate. Couldnt afford to have it done on those terms, rejoined Sam. It ud be worth a lifes board wages at least, to you, and ud be cheap at that. Make my compliments indoors. Tell em not to vait dinner for me, and say they neednt mind puttin any by, for itll be cold afore I come in. In reply to this, the groom waxing very wroth, muttered a desire to damage somebodys person; but disappeared without carrying it into execution, slamming the door angrily after him, and wholly unheeding Sams affectionate request, that he would leave him a lock of his hair before he went. Sam continued to sit on the large stone, meditating upon what was best to be done, and revolving in his mind a plan for knocking at all the doors within five miles of Bristol, taking them at a hundred and fifty or two hundred a day, and endeavouring to find Miss Arabella by that expedient, when accident all of a sudden threw in

The Pickwick Papers page 266        The Pickwick Papers page 268