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The Pickwick Papers 289







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The Pickwick Papers

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aint it, Neddy? The gentleman to whom these observations were addressed, who appeared of a taciturn and thoughtful cast, merely echoed the inquiry; Mr. Roker, shaking off the poetical and gloomy train of thought into which he had been betrayed, descended to the common business of life, and resumed his pen. Do you know what the third gentlemen is? inquired Mr. Pickwick, not very much gratified by this description of his future associates. What is that Simpson, Neddy? said Mr. Roker, turning to his companion. What Simpson? said Neddy. Why, him in twenty-seven in the third, that this gentlemans going to be chummed on. Oh, him! replied Neddy; hes nothing exactly. He WAS a horse chaunter: hes a leg now. Ah, so I thought, rejoined Mr. Roker, closing the book, and placing the small piece of paper in Mr. Pickwicks hands. Thats the ticket, sir. Very much perplexed by this summary disposition of this person, Mr. Pickwick walked back into the prison, revolving in his mind what he had better do. Convinced, however, that before he took any other steps it would be advisable to see, and hold personal converse with, the three gentlemen with whom it was proposed to quarter him, he made the best of his way to the third flight. After groping about in the gallery for some time, attempting in the dim light to decipher the numbers on the different doors, he at length appealed to a pot-boy, who happened to be pursuing his morning occupation of gleaning for pewter. Which is twenty-seven, my good fellow? said Mr. Pickwick. Five doors farther on, replied the pot-boy. Theres the likeness of a man being hung, and smoking the while, chalked outside the door. Guided by this direction, Mr. Pickwick proceeded slowly along the gallery until he encountered the portrait of a gentleman, above described, upon whose countenance he tapped, with the knuckle of his forefinger--gently at first, and then audibly. After repeating this process several times without effect, he ventured to open the door and peep in. There was only one man in the room, and he was leaning out of window as far as he could without overbalancing himself, endeavouring, with great perseverance, to spit upon the crown of the hat of a personal friend on the parade below. As neither speaking, coughing, sneezing, knocking, nor any other ordinary mode of attracting attention, made this person aware of the presence of a visitor, Mr. Pickwick, after some delay, stepped up to the window, and pulled him gently by the coat tail. The individual brought in his head and shoulders with great swiftness, and surveying Mr. Pickwick from head to foot, demanded in a surly tone what the--something beginning with a capital H--he wanted. I believe, said Mr. Pickwick, consulting his ticket--I believe this is twenty-seven in the third? Well? replied the gentleman. I have come here in consequence of receiving this bit of paper, rejoined Mr. Pickwick. Hand it over, said the gentleman. Mr. Pickwick complied. I think Roker might have chummed you somewhere else, said Mr. Simpson (for it was the leg), after a very discontented sort of a pause. Mr. Pickwick thought so also; but, under all the circumstances, he considered it a matter of sound policy to be silent. Mr. Simpson mused for a few moments after this, and then, thrusting his head out of the window, gave a shrill whistle, and pronounced some word aloud, several times. What the word was, Mr. Pickwick could not distinguish; but he rather inferred that it must be some nickname which distinguished Mr. Martin, from the fact of a great number of gentlemen on the ground below, immediately proceeding to cry Butcher! in imitation of the tone in which that useful class of society are wont, diurnally, to make their presence known at area railings. Subsequent occurrences confirmed the accuracy of Mr. Pickwicks impression; for, in a few seconds, a gentleman, prematurely broad for his years, clothed in a professional blue jean frock and top-boots with circular toes, entered the room nearly out of breath, closely followed by another gentleman in very shabby black, and a sealskin cap. The latter gentleman, who fastened his coat all the way up to his chin by means of a pin and a button alternately, had a very coarse red face, and looked like a drunken chaplain; which, indeed, he was. These two gentlemen having by turns perused Mr. Pickwicks billet, the one expressed his opinion that it was a rig, and the other his conviction that it was a go. Having recorded their feelings in these very intelligible terms, they looked at

The Pickwick Papers page 288        The Pickwick Papers page 290