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The Pickwick Papers 275







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The Pickwick Papers

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was troubled with a hoarse cough, remained below, and expectorated in the passage. Mr. Pickwick was fast asleep in bed, when his early visitor, followed by Sam, entered the room. The noise they made, in so doing, awoke him. Shaving-water, Sam, said Mr. Pickwick, from within the curtains. Shave you directly, Mr. Pickwick, said the visitor, drawing one of them back from the beds head. Ive got an execution against you, at the suit of Bardell.--Heres the warrant.-- Common Pleas.--Heres my card. I suppose youll come over to my house. Giving Mr. Pickwick a friendly tap on the shoulder, the sheriffs officer (for such he was) threw his card on the counterpane, and pulled a gold toothpick from his waistcoat pocket. Nambys the name, said the sheriffs deputy, as Mr. Pickwick took his spectacles from under the pillow, and put them on, to read the card. Namby, Bell Alley, Coleman Street. At this point, Sam Weller, who had had his eyes fixed hitherto on Mr. Nambys shining beaver, interfered. Are you a Quaker? said Sam. Ill let you know I am, before Ive done with you, replied the indignant officer. Ill teach you manners, my fine fellow, one of these fine mornings. Thankee, said Sam. Ill do the same to you. Take your hat off. With this, Mr. Weller, in the most dexterous manner, knocked Mr. Nambys hat to the other side of the room, with such violence, that he had very nearly caused him to swallow the gold toothpick into the bargain. Observe this, Mr. Pickwick, said the disconcerted officer, gasping for breath. Ive been assaulted in the execution of my dooty by your servant in your chamber. Im in bodily fear. I call you to witness this. Dont witness nothin, Sir, interposed Sam. Shut your eyes up tight, Sir. Id pitch him out o winder, only he couldnt fall far enough, cause o the leads outside. Sam, said Mr. Pickwick, in an angry voice, as his attendant made various demonstrations of hostilities, if you say another word, or offer the slightest interference with this person, I discharge you that instant. But, Sir! said Sam. Hold your tongue, interposed Mr. Pickwick. Take that hat up again. But this Sam flatly and positively refused to do; and, after he had been severely reprimanded by his master, the officer, being in a hurry, condescended to pick it up himself, venting a great variety of threats against Sam meanwhile, which that gentleman received with perfect composure, merely observing that if Mr. Namby would have the goodness to put his hat on again, he would knock it into the latter end of next week. Mr. Namby, perhaps thinking that such a process might be productive of inconvenience to himself, declined to offer the temptation, and, soon after, called up Smouch. Having informed him that the capture was made, and that he was to wait for the prisoner until he should have finished dressing, Namby then swaggered out, and drove away. Smouch, requesting Mr. Pickwick in a surly manner to be as alive as he could, for it was a busy time, drew up a chair by the door and sat there, until he had finished dressing. Sam was then despatched for a hackney-coach, and in it the triumvirate proceeded to Coleman Street. It was fortunate the distance was short; for Mr. Smouch, besides possessing no very enchanting conversational powers, was rendered a decidedly unpleasant companion in a limited space, by the physical weakness to which we have elsewhere adverted. The coach having turned into a very narrow and dark street, stopped before a house with iron bars to all the windows; the door-posts of which were graced by the name and title of Namby, Officer to the Sheriffs of London; the inner gate having been opened by a gentleman who might have passed for a neglected twin-brother of Mr. Smouch, and who was endowed with a large key for the purpose, Mr. Pickwick was shown into the coffee-room. This coffee-room was a front parlour, the principal features of which were fresh sand and stale tobacco smoke. Mr. Pickwick bowed to the three persons who were seated in it when he entered; and having despatched Sam for Perker, withdrew into an obscure corner, and looked thence with some curiosity upon his new companions. One of these was a mere boy of nineteen or twenty, who, though it was yet barely ten oclock, was drinking gin-and-water, and smoking a cigar--amusements to which, judging from his inflamed countenance, he had devoted himself pretty constantly for the

The Pickwick Papers page 274        The Pickwick Papers page 276