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The Pickwick Papers 285

Elisha Cuthbert Photos


Martin Eden

The Pickwick Papers

The Sea Wolf

a class of gentry which never can be seen in full perfection but in such places-- they may be met with, in an imperfect state, occasionally about stable-yards and Public-houses; but they never attain their full bloom except in these hot-beds, which would almost seem to be considerately provided by the legislature for the sole purpose of rearing them. He was a tall fellow, with an olive complexion, long dark hair, and very thick bushy whiskers meeting under his chin. He wore no neckerchief, as he had been playing rackets all day, and his Open shirt collar displayed their full luxuriance. On his head he wore one of the common eighteenpenny French skull-caps, with a gaudy tassel dangling therefrom, very happily in keeping with a common fustian coat. His legs, which, being long, were afflicted with weakness, graced a pair of Oxford-mixture trousers, made to show the full symmetry of those limbs. Being somewhat negligently braced, however, and, moreover, but imperfectly buttoned, they fell in a series of not the most graceful folds over a pair of shoes sufficiently down at heel to display a pair of very soiled white stockings. There was a rakish, vagabond smartness, and a kind of boastful rascality, about the whole man, that was worth a mine of gold. This figure was the first to perceive that Mr. Pickwick was looking on; upon which he winked to the Zephyr, and entreated him, with mock gravity, not to wake the gentleman. Why, bless the gentlemans honest heart and soul! said the Zephyr, turning round and affecting the extremity of surprise; the gentleman is awake. Hem, Shakespeare! How do you do, Sir? How is Mary and Sarah, sir? and the dear old lady at home, Sir? Will you have the kindness to put my compliments into the first little parcel youre sending that way, sir, and say that I would have sent em before, only I was afraid they might be broken in the wagon, sir? Dont overwhelm the gentlemen with ordinary civilities when you see hes anxious to have something to drink, said the gentleman with the whiskers, with a jocose air. Why dont you ask the gentleman what hell take? Dear me, I quite forgot, replied the other. What will you take, sir? Will you take port wine, sir, or sherry wine, sir? I can recommend the ale, sir; or perhaps youd like to taste the porter, sir? Allow me to have the felicity of hanging up your nightcap, Sir. With this, the speaker snatched that article of dress from Mr. Pickwicks head, and fixed it in a twinkling on that of the drunken man, who, firmly impressed with the belief that he was delighting a numerous assembly, continued to hammer away at the comic song in the most melancholy strains imaginable. Taking a mans nightcap from his brow by violent means, and adjusting it on the head of an unknown gentleman, of dirty exterior, however ingenious a witticism in itself, is unquestionably one of those which come under the denomination of practical jokes. Viewing the matter precisely in this light, Mr. Pickwick, without the slightest intimation of his purpose, sprang vigorously out of bed, struck the Zephyr so smart a blow in the chest as to deprive him of a considerable portion of the commodity which sometimes bears his name, and then, recapturing his nightcap, boldly placed himself in an attitude of defence. Now, said Mr. Pickwick, gasping no less from excitement than from the expenditure of so much energy, come on--both of you--both of you! With this liberal invitation the worthy gentleman communicated a revolving motion to his clenched fists, by way of appalling his antagonists with a display of science. It might have been Mr. Pickwicks very unexpected gallantry, or it might have been the complicated manner in which he had got himself out of bed, and fallen all in a mass upon the hornpipe man, that touched his adversaries. Touched they were; for, instead of then and there making an attempt to commit man- slaughter, as Mr. Pickwick implicitly believed they would have done, they paused, stared at each other a short time, and finally laughed outright. Well, youre a trump, and I like you all the better for it, said the Zephyr. Now jump into bed again, or youll catch the rheumatics. No malice, I hope? said the man, extending a hand the size of the yellow clump of fingers which sometimes swings over a glovers door. Certainly not, said Mr. Pickwick, with great alacrity;

The Pickwick Papers page 284        The Pickwick Papers page 286