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The Pickwick Papers 319







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chair, and Mrs. Rogers being stationed on her right hand, and Mrs. Raddle on her left, the meal proceeded with great merriment and success. How sweet the country is, to be sure! sighed Mrs. Rogers; I almost wish I lived in it always. Oh, you wouldnt like that, maam, replied Mrs. Bardell, rather hastily; for it was not at all advisable, with reference to the lodgings, to encourage such notions; you wouldnt like it, maam. Oh! I should think you was a deal too lively and sought after, to be content with the country, maam, said little Mrs. Cluppins. Perhaps I am, maam. Perhaps I am, sighed the first-floor lodger. For lone people as have got nobody to care for them, or take care of them, or as have been hurt in their mind, or that kind of thing, observed Mr. Raddle, plucking up a little cheerfulness, and looking round, the country is all very well. The country for a wounded spirit, they say. Now, of all things in the world that the unfortunate man could have said, any would have been preferable to this. Of course Mrs. Bardell burst into tears, and requested to be led from the table instantly; upon which the affectionate child began to cry too, most dismally. Would anybody believe, maam, exclaimed Mrs. Raddle, turning fiercely to the first-floor lodger, that a woman could be married to such a unmanly creetur, which can tamper with a womans feelings as he does, every hour in the day, maam? My dear, remonstrated Mr. Raddle, I didnt mean anything, my dear. You didnt mean! repeated Mrs. Raddle, with great scorn and contempt. Go away. I cant bear the sight on you, you brute. You must not flurry yourself, Mary Ann, interposed Mrs. Cluppins. You really must consider yourself, my dear, which you never do. Now go away, Raddle, theres a good soul, or youll only aggravate her. You had better take your tea by yourself, Sir, indeed, said Mrs. Rogers, again applying the smelling-bottle. Mrs. Sanders, who, according to custom, was very busy with the bread-and-butter, expressed the same opinion, and Mr. Raddle quietly retired. After this, there was a great hoisting up of Master Bardell, who was rather a large size for hugging, into his mothers arms, in which operation he got his boots in the tea-board, and occasioned some confusion among the cups and saucers. But that description of fainting fits, which is contagious among ladies, seldom lasts long; so when he had been well kissed, and a little cried over, Mrs. Bardell recovered, set him down again, wondering how she could have been so foolish, and poured out some more tea. It was at this moment, that the sound of approaching wheels was heard, and that the ladies, looking up, saw a hackney-coach stop at the garden gate. More company! said Mrs. Sanders. Its a gentleman, said Mrs. Raddle. Well, if it aint Mr. Jackson, the young man from Dodson and Foggs! cried Mrs. Bardell. Why, gracious! Surely Mr. Pickwick cant have paid the damages. Or hoffered marriage! said Mrs. Cluppins. Dear me, how slow the gentleman is,exclaimed Mrs. Rogers. Why doesnt he make haste! As the lady spoke these words, Mr. Jackson turned from the coach where he had been addressing some observations to a shabby man in black leggings, who had just emerged from the vehicle with a thick ash stick in his hand, and made his way to the place where the ladies were seated; winding his hair round the brim of his hat, as he came along. Is anything the matter? Has anything taken place, Mr. Jackson? said Mrs. Bardell eagerly. Nothing whatever, maam, replied Mr. Jackson. How de do, ladies? I have to ask pardon, ladies, for intruding--but the law, ladies--the law. With this apology Mr. Jackson smiled, made a comprehensive bow, and gave his hair another wind. Mrs. Rogers whispered Mrs. Raddle that he was really an elegant young man. I called in Goswell Street, resumed Mr. Jackson, and hearing that you were here, from the slavey, took a coach and came on. Our people want you down in the city directly, Mrs. Bardell. Lor! ejaculated that lady, starting at the sudden nature of the communication. Yes, said Mr. Jackson, biting his lip. Its very important and pressing business, which cant be postponed on any account. Indeed, Dodson expressly said so to me, and so did Fogg. Ive kept the coach on purpose for you to go back in. How very strange! exclaimed Mrs. Bardell. The ladies agreed that it WAS very

The Pickwick Papers page 318        The Pickwick Papers page 320