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The Pickwick Papers 28







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Martin Eden

The Pickwick Papers

The Sea Wolf




with a clear and liquid sound, as their heavy but picturesque boats glided slowly down the stream. Mr. Pickwick was roused from the agreeable reverie into which he had been led by the objects before him, by a deep sigh, and a touch on his shoulder. He turned round: and the dismal man was at his side. Contemplating the scene? inquired the dismal man. I was, said Mr. Pickwick. And congratulating yourself on being up so soon? Mr. Pickwick nodded assent. Ah! people need to rise early, to see the sun in all his splendour, for his brightness seldom lasts the day through. The morning of day and the morning of life are but too much alike. You speak truly, sir, said Mr. Pickwick. How common the saying, continued the dismal man, "The mornings too fine to last." How well might it be applied to our everyday existence. God! what would I forfeit to have the days of my childhood restored, or to be able to forget them for ever! You have seen much trouble, sir, said Mr. Pickwick compassionately. I have, said the dismal man hurriedly; I have. More than those who see me now would believe possible. He paused for an instant, and then said abruptly-- Did it ever strike you, on such a morning as this, that drowning would be happiness and peace? God bless me, no! replied Mr. Pickwick, edging a little from the balustrade, as the possibility of the dismal mans tipping him over, by way of experiment, occurred to him rather forcibly. I have thought so, often, said the dismal man, without noticing the action. The calm, cool water seems to me to murmur an invitation to repose and rest. A bound, a splash, a brief struggle; there is an eddy for an instant, it gradually subsides into a gentle ripple; the waters have closed above your head, and the world has closed upon your miseries and misfortunes for ever. The sunken eye of the dismal man flashed brightly as he spoke, but the momentary excitement quickly subsided; and he turned calmly away, as he said-- There--enough of that. I wish to see you on another subject. You invited me to read that paper, the night before last, and listened attentively while I did so. I did, replied Mr. Pickwick; and I certainly thought-- I asked for no opinion, said the dismal man, interrupting him, and I want none. You are travelling for amusement and instruction. Suppose I forward you a curious manuscript--observe, not curious because wild or improbable, but curious as a leaf from the romance of real life--would you communicate it to the club, of which you have spoken so frequently? Certainly, replied Mr. Pickwick, if you wished it; and it would be entered on their transactions. You shall have it, replied the dismal man. Your address; and, Mr. Pickwick having communicated their probable route, the dismal man carefully noted it down in a greasy pocket-book, and, resisting Mr. Pickwicks pressing invitation to breakfast, left that gentleman at his inn, and walked slowly away. Mr. Pickwick found that his three companions had risen, and were waiting his arrival to commence breakfast, which was ready laid in tempting display. They sat down to the meal; and broiled ham, eggs, tea, coffee and sundries, began to disappear with a rapidity which at once bore testimony to the excellence of the fare, and the appetites of its consumers. Now, about Manor Farm, said Mr. Pickwick. How shall we go ? We had better consult the waiter, perhaps, said Mr. Tupman; and the waiter was summoned accordingly. Dingley Dell, gentlemen--fifteen miles, gentlemen--cross road--post-chaise, sir? Post-chaise wont hold more than two, said Mr. Pickwick. True, sir--beg your pardon, sir.--Very nice four-wheel chaise, sir--seat for two behind--one in front for the gentleman that drives--oh! beg your pardon, sir--thatll only hold three. Whats to be done? said Mr. Snodgrass. Perhaps one of the gentlemen would like to ride, sir? suggested the waiter, looking towards Mr. Winkle; very good saddle-horses, sir--any of Mr. Wardles men coming to Rochester, bring em back, Sir. The very thing, said Mr. Pickwick. Winkle, will you go on horseback ? Now Mr. Winkle did entertain considerable misgivings in the very lowest recesses of his own heart, relative to his equestrian skill; but, as he would not have them even suspected, on any account, he at once replied with great hardihood, Certainly. I should enjoy it of all things. Mr. Winkle had rushed upon his fate; there was no resource. Let them be at the door by eleven, said Mr. Pickwick. Very well,

The Pickwick Papers page 27        The Pickwick Papers page 29