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The Pickwick Papers 27







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The Pickwick Papers

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it--she looks so malicious. Is she? replied Isabella.--Hem! aunt, dear! Yes, my dear love! Im SO afraid youll catch cold, aunt--have a silk handkerchief to tie round your dear old head--you really should take care of yourself--consider your age! However well deserved this piece of retaliation might have been, it was as vindictive a one as could well have been resorted to. There is no guessing in what form of reply the aunts indignation would have vented itself, had not Mr. Wardle unconsciously changed the subject, by calling emphatically for Joe. Damn that boy, said the old gentleman, hes gone to sleep again. Very extraordinary boy, that, said Mr. Pickwick; does he always sleep in this way? Sleep! said the old gentleman, hes always asleep. Goes on errands fast asleep, and snores as he waits at table. How very odd! said Mr. Pickwick. Ah! odd indeed, returned the old gentleman; Im proud of that boy--wouldnt part with him on any account--hes a natural curiosity! Here, Joe--Joe--take these things away, and open another bottle--dye hear? The fat boy rose, opened his eyes, swallowed the huge piece of pie he had been in the act of masticating when he last fell asleep, and slowly obeyed his masters orders--gloating languidly over the remains of the feast, as he removed the plates, and deposited them in the hamper. The fresh bottle was produced, and speedily emptied: the hamper was made fast in its old place--the fat boy once more mounted the box--the spectacles and pocket- glass were again adjusted--and the evolutions of the military recommenced. There was a great fizzing and banging of guns, and starting of ladies--and then a Mine was sprung, to the gratification of everybody--and when the mine had gone off, the military and the company followed its example, and went off too. Now, mind, said the old gentleman, as he shook hands with Mr. Pickwick at the conclusion of a conversation which had been carried on at intervals, during the conclusion of the proceedings, "we shall see you all to-morrow. Most certainly, replied Mr. Pickwick. You have got the address? Manor Farm, Dingley Dell, said Mr. Pickwick, consulting his pocket-book. Thats it, said the old gentleman. I dont let you off, mind, under a week; and undertake that you shall see everything worth seeing. If youve come down for a country life, come to me, and Ill give you plenty of it. Joe--damn that boy, hes gone to sleep again--Joe, help Tom put in the horses. The horses were put in--the driver mounted--the fat boy clambered up by his side--farewells were exchanged-- and the carriage rattled off. As the Pickwickians turned round to take a last glimpse of it, the setting sun cast a rich glow on the faces of their entertainers, and fell upon the form of the fat boy. His head was sunk upon his bosom; and he slumbered again.

CHAPTER V

A SHORT ONE--SHOWING, AMONG OTHER MATTERS, HOW Mr. PICKWICK UNDERTOOK TO DRIVE, AND Mr. WINKLE TO RIDE, AND HOW THEY BOTH DID IT

Bright and pleasant was the sky, balmy the air, and beautiful the appearance of every object around, as Mr. Pickwick leaned over the balustrades of Rochester Bridge, contemplating nature, and waiting for breakfast. The scene was indeed one which might well have charmed a far less reflective mind, than that to which it was presented. On the left of the spectator lay the ruined wall, broken in many places, and in some, overhanging the narrow beach below in rude and heavy masses. Huge knots of seaweed hung upon the jagged and pointed stones, trembling in every breath of wind; and the green ivy clung mournfully round the dark and ruined battlements. Behind it rose the ancient castle, its towers roofless, and its massive walls crumbling away, but telling us proudly of its old might and strength, as when, seven hundred years ago, it rang with the clash of arms, or resounded with the noise of feasting and revelry. On either side, the banks of the Medway, covered with cornfields and pastures, with here and there a windmill, or a distant church, stretched away as far as the eye could see, presenting a rich and varied landscape, rendered more beautiful by the changing shadows which passed swiftly across it as the thin and half-formed clouds skimmed away in the light of the morning sun. The river, reflecting the clear blue of the sky, glistened and sparkled as it flowed noiselessly on; and the oars of the fishermen dipped into the water

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