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The Pickwick Papers 283







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his, as wos on the lock, ven he says all of a sudden, "I aint seen the market outside, Bill," he says (Fleet Market wos there at that time)--"I aint seen the market outside, Bill," he says, "for seventeen year." "I know you aint," says the turnkey, smoking his pipe. "I should like to see it for a minit, Bill," he says. "Wery probable," says the turnkey, smoking his pipe wery fierce, and making believe he warnt up to wot the little man wanted. "Bill," says the little man, more abrupt than afore, "Ive got the fancy in my head. Let me see the public streets once more afore I die; and if I aint struck with apoplexy, Ill be back in five minits by the clock." "And wot ud become o me if you WOS struck with apoplexy?" said the turnkey. "Wy," says the little creetur, "whoever found me, ud bring me home, for Ive got my card in my pocket, Bill," he says, "No. 20, Coffee-room Flight": and that wos true, sure enough, for wen he wanted to make the acquaintance of any new-comer, he used to pull out a little limp card vith them words on it and nothin else; in consideration of vich, he vos alvays called Number Tventy. The turnkey takes a fixed look at him, and at last he says in a solemn manner, "Tventy," he says, "Ill trust you; you Wont get your old friend into trouble." "No, my boy; I hope Ive somethin better behind here," says the little man; and as he said it he hit his little vesket wery hard, and then a tear started out o each eye, which wos wery extraordinary, for it wos supposed as water never touched his face. He shook the turnkey by the hand; out he vent-- And never came back again, said Mr. Pickwick. Wrong for vunce, sir, replied Mr. Weller, for back he come, two minits afore the time, a-bilin with rage, sayin how hed been nearly run over by a hackney-coach that he warnt used to it; and he was blowed if he wouldnt write to the lord mayor. They got him pacified at last; and for five years arter that, he never even so much as peeped out o the lodge gate. At the expiration of that time he died, I suppose, said Mr. Pickwick. No, he didnt, Sir, replied Sam. He got a curiosity to go and taste the beer at a new public-house over the way, and it wos such a wery nice parlour, that he took it into his head to go there every night, which he did for a long time, always comin back reglar about a quarter of an hour afore the gate shut, which was all wery snug and comfortable. At last he began to get so precious jolly, that he used to forget how the time vent, or care nothin at all about it, and he went on gettin later and later, till vun night his old friend wos just a-shuttin the gate--had turned the key in fact--wen he come up. "Hold hard, Bill," he says. "Wot, aint you come home yet, Tventy? says the turnkey, "I thought you wos in, long ago." "No, I wasnt," says the little man, with a smile. "Well, then, Ill tell you wot it is, my friend," says the turnkey, openin the gate wery slow and sulky, "its my pinion as youve got into bad company o late, which Im wery sorry to see. Now, I dont wish to do nothing harsh," he says, "but if you cant confine yourself to steady circles, and find your vay back at reglar hours, as sure as youre a-standin there, Ill shut you out altogether!" The little man was seized vith a wiolent fit o tremblin, and never vent outside the prison walls artervards! As Sam concluded, Mr. Pickwick slowly retraced his steps downstairs. After a few thoughtful turns in the Painted Ground, which, as it was now dark, was nearly deserted, he intimated to Mr. Weller that he thought it high time for him to withdraw for the night; requesting him to seek a bed in some adjacent public- house, and return early in the morning, to make arrangements for the removal of his masters wardrobe from the George and Vulture. This request Mr. Samuel Weller prepared to obey, with as good a grace as he could assume, but with a very

The Pickwick Papers page 282        The Pickwick Papers page 284