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The Pickwick Papers 318







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her from their hearts, they did. Even the lodgers little servant, who was thirteen years old and three feet high, murmured her sympathy. But whats been the matter? said Mrs. Bardell. Ah, what has decomposed you, maam? inquired Mrs. Rogers. I have been a good deal flurried, replied Mrs. Raddle, in a reproachful manner. Thereupon the ladies cast indignant glances at Mr. Raddle. Why, the fact is, said that unhappy gentleman, stepping forward, when we alighted at this door, a dispute arose with the driver of the cabrioily-- A loud scream from his wife, at the mention of this word, rendered all further explanation inaudible. Youd better leave us to bring her round, Raddle, said Mrs. Cluppins. Shell never get better as long as youre here. All the ladies concurred in this opinion; so Mr. Raddle was pushed out of the room, and requested to give himself an airing in the back yard. Which he did for about a quarter of an hour, when Mrs. Bardell announced to him with a solemn face that he might come in now, but that he must be very careful how he behaved towards his wife. She knew he didnt mean to be unkind; but Mary Ann was very far from strong, and, if he didnt take care, he might lose her when he least expected it, which would be a very dreadful reflection for him afterwards; and so on. All this, Mr. Raddle heard with great submission, and presently returned to the parlour in a most lamb-like manner. Why, Mrs. Rogers, maam, said Mrs. Bardell, youve never been introduced, I declare! Mr. Raddle, maam; Mrs. Cluppins, maam; Mrs. Raddle, maam. Which is Mrs. Cluppinss sister, suggested Mrs. Sanders. Oh, indeed! said Mrs. Rogers graciously; for she was the lodger, and her servant was in waiting, so she was more gracious than intimate, in right of her position. Oh, indeed! Mrs. Raddle smiled sweetly, Mr. Raddle bowed, and Mrs. Cluppins said, she was sure she was very happy to have an opportunity of being known to a lady which she had heerd so much in favour of, as Mrs. Rogers. A compliment which the last-named lady acknowledged with graceful condescension. Well, Mr. Raddle, said Mrs. Bardell; Im sure you ought to feel very much honoured at you and Tommy being the only gentlemen to escort so many ladies all the way to the Spaniards, at Hampstead. Dont you think he ought, Mrs. Rogers, maam? Oh, certainly, maam, replied Mrs. Rogers; after whom all the other ladies responded, Oh, certainly. Of course I feel it, maam, said Mr. Raddle, rubbing his hands, and evincing a slight tendency to brighten up a little. Indeed, to tell you the truth, I said, as we was a-coming along in the cabrioily-- At the recapitulation of the word which awakened so many painful recollections, Mrs. Raddle applied her handkerchief to her eyes again, and uttered a half-suppressed scream; so that Mrs. Bardell frowned upon Mr. Raddle, to intimate that he had better not say anything more, and desired Mrs. Rogerss servant, with an air, to put the wine on. This was the signal for displaying the hidden treasures of the closet, which comprised sundry plates of oranges and biscuits, and a bottle of old crusted port--that at one-and-nine--with another of the celebrated East India sherry at fourteen-pence, which were all produced in honour of the lodger, and afforded unlimited satisfaction to everybody. After great consternation had been excited in the mind of Mrs. Cluppins, by an attempt on the part of Tommy to recount how he had been cross-examined regarding the cupboard then in action (which was fortunately nipped in the bud by his imbibing half a glass of the old crusted the wrong way, and thereby endangering his life for some seconds), the party walked forth in quest of a Hampstead stage. This was soon found, and in a couple of hours they all arrived safely in the Spaniards Tea-gardens, where the luckless Mr. Raddles very first act nearly occasioned his good lady a relapse; it being neither more nor less than to order tea for seven, whereas (as the ladies one and all remarked), what could have been easier than for Tommy to have drank out of anybodys cup--or everybodys, if that was all--when the waiter wasnt looking, which would have saved one head of tea, and the tea just as good! However, there was no help for it, and the tea-tray came, with seven cups and saucers, and bread-and-butter on the same scale. Mrs. Bardell was unanimously voted into the

The Pickwick Papers page 317        The Pickwick Papers page 319