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The Pickwick Papers 294







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packages which he had arranged, as neatly as he could, in a corner of the room. Very well, Sam, said Mr. Pickwick, after a little hesitation; listen to what I am going to say, Sam. Certnly, Sir, rejoined Mr. Weller; fire away, Sir. I have felt from the first, Sam, said Mr. Pickwick, with much solemnity, that this is not the place to bring a young man to. Nor an old un neither, Sir, observed Mr. Weller. Youre quite right, Sam, said Mr. Pickwick; but old men may come here through their own heedlessness and unsuspicion, and young men may be brought here by the selfishness of those they serve. It is better for those young men, in every point of view, that they should not remain here. Do you understand me, Sam? Vy no, Sir, I do NOT, replied Mr. Weller doggedly. Try, Sam, said Mr. Pickwick. Vell, sir, rejoined Sam, after a short pause, I think I see your drift; and if I do see your drift, its my pinion that youre a- comin it a great deal too strong, as the mail-coachman said to the snowstorm, ven it overtook him. I see you comprehend me, Sam, said Mr. Pickwick. Independently of my wish that you should not be idling about a place like this, for years to come, I feel that for a debtor in the Fleet to be attended by his manservant is a monstrous absurdity. Sam, said Mr. Pickwick, for a time you must leave me. Oh, for a time, eh, sir?rejoined Mr. Weller. rather sarcastically. Yes, for the time that I remain here, said Mr. Pickwick. Your wages I shall continue to pay. Any one of my three friends will be happy to take you, were it only out of respect to me. And if I ever do leave this place, Sam, added Mr. Pickwick, with assumed cheerfulness--if I do, I pledge you my word that you shall return to me instantly. Now Ill tell you wot it is, Sir, said Mr. Weller, in a grave and solemn voice. This here sort o thing wont do at all, so dont lets hear no more about it. I am serious, and resolved, Sam, said Mr. Pickwick. You air, air you, sir? inquired Mr. Weller firmly. Wery good, Sir; then so am I. Thus speaking, Mr. Weller fixed his hat on his head with great precision, and abruptly left the room. Sam! cried Mr. Pickwick, calling after him, Sam! Here! But the long gallery ceased to re-echo the sound of footsteps. Sam Weller was gone.

CHAPTER XLIII

SHOWING HOW Mr. SAMUEL WELLER GOT INTO DIFFICULTIES

In a lofty room, ill-lighted and worse ventilated, situated in Portugal Street, Lincolns Inn Fields, there sit nearly the whole year round, one, two, three, or four gentlemen in wigs, as the case may be, with little writing-desks before them, constructed after the fashion of those used by the judges of the land, barring the French polish. There is a box of barristers on their right hand; there is an enclosure of insolvent debtors on their left; and there is an inclined plane of most especially dirty faces in their front. These gentlemen are the Commissioners of the Insolvent Court, and the place in which they sit, is the Insolvent Court itself. It is, and has been, time out of mind, the remarkable fate of this court to be, somehow or other, held and understood, by the general consent of all the destitute shabby-genteel people in London, as their common resort, and place of daily refuge. It is always full. The steams of beer and spirits perpetually ascend to the ceiling, and, being condensed by the heat, roll down the walls like rain; there are more old suits of clothes in it at one time, than will be offered for sale in all Houndsditch in a twelvemonth; more unwashed skins and grizzly beards than all the pumps and shaving-shops between Tyburn and Whitechapel could render decent, between sunrise and sunset. It must not be supposed that any of these people have the least shadow of business in, or the remotest connection with, the place they so indefatigably attend. If they had, it would be no matter of surprise, and the singularity of the thing would cease. Some of them sleep during the greater part of the sitting; others carry small portable dinners wrapped in pocket-handkerchiefs or sticking out of their worn-out pockets, and munch and listen with equal relish; but no one

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