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The Pickwick Papers 290







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The Pickwick Papers

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Mr. Pickwick and each other in awkward silence. Its an aggravating thing, just as we got the beds so snug, said the chaplain, looking at three dirty mattresses, each rolled up in a blanket; which occupied one corner of the room during the day, and formed a kind of slab, on which were placed an old cracked basin, ewer, and soap-dish, of common yellow earthenware, with a blue flower--very aggravating. Mr. Martin expressed the same opinion in rather stronger terms; Mr. Simpson, after having let a variety of expletive adjectives loose upon society without any substantive to accompany them, tucked up his sleeves, and began to wash the greens for dinner. While this was going on, Mr. Pickwick had been eyeing the room, which was filthily dirty, and smelt intolerably close. There was no vestige of either carpet, curtain, or blind. There was not even a closet in it. Unquestionably there were but few things to put away, if there had been one; but, however few in number, or small in individual amount, still, remnants of loaves and pieces of cheese, and damp towels, and scrags of meat, and articles of wearing apparel, and mutilated crockery, and bellows without nozzles, and toasting-forks without prongs, do present somewhat of an uncomfortable appearance when they are scattered about the floor of a small apartment, which is the common sitting and sleeping room of three idle men. I suppose this can be managed somehow, said the butcher, after a pretty long silence. What will you take to go out? I beg your pardon, replied Mr. Pickwick. What did you say? I hardly understand you. What will you take to be paid out? said the butcher. The regular chummage is two-and-six. Will you take three bob? And a bender, suggested the clerical gentleman. Well, I dont mind that; its only twopence a piece more, said Mr. Martin. What do you say, now? Well pay you out for three-and-sixpence a week. Come! And stand a gallon of beer down, chimed in Mr. Simpson. There! And drink it on the spot, said the chaplain. Now! I really am so wholly ignorant of the rules of this place, returned Mr. Pickwick, that I do not yet comprehend you. Can I live anywhere else? I thought I could not. At this inquiry Mr. Martin looked, with a countenance of excessive surprise, at his two friends, and then each gentleman pointed with his right thumb over his left shoulder. This action imperfectly described in words by the very feeble term of over the left, when performed by any number of ladies or gentlemen who are accustomed to act in unison, has a very graceful and airy effect; its expression is one of light and playful sarcasm. CAN you! repeated Mr. Martin, with a smile of pity. Well, if I knew as little of life as that, Id eat my hat and swallow the buckle whole, said the clerical gentleman. So would I, added the sporting one solemnly. After this introductory preface, the three chums informed Mr. Pickwick, in a breath, that money was, in the Fleet, just what money was out of it; that it would instantly procure him almost anything he desired; and that, supposing he had it, and had no objection to spend it, if he only signified his wish to have a room to himself, he might take possession of one, furnished and fitted to boot, in half an hours time. With this the parties separated, very much to their common satisfaction; Mr. Pickwick once more retracing his steps to the lodge, and the three companions adjourning to the coffee-room, there to spend the five shillings which the clerical gentleman had, with admirable prudence and foresight, borrowed of him for the purpose. I knowed it! said Mr. Roker, with a chuckle, when Mr. Pickwick stated the object with which he had returned. Didnt I say so, Neddy? The philosophical owner of the universal penknife growled an affirmative. I knowed youd want a room for yourself, bless you! said Mr. Roker. Let me see. Youll want some furniture. Youll hire that of me, I suppose? Thats the reglar thing. With great pleasure, replied Mr. Pickwick. Theres a capital room up in the coffee-room flight, that belongs to a Chancery prisoner, said Mr. Roker. Itll stand you in a pound a week. I suppose you dont mind that? Not at all, said Mr. Pickwick. Just step there with me, said Roker, taking up his hat with great alacrity; the matters settled in five minutes.

The Pickwick Papers page 289        The Pickwick Papers page 291