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The Pickwick Papers 320







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strange, but were unanimously of opinion that it must be very important, or Dodson & Fogg would never have sent; and further, that the business being urgent, she ought to repair to Dodson & Foggs without any delay. There was a certain degree of pride and importance about being wanted by ones lawyers in such a monstrous hurry, that was by no means displeasing to Mrs. Bardell, especially as it might be reasonably supposed to enhance her consequence in the eyes of the first-floor lodger. She simpered a little, affected extreme vexation and hesitation, and at last arrived at the conclusion that she supposed she must go. But wont you refresh yourself after your walk, Mr. Jackson? said Mrs. Bardell persuasively. Why, really there aint much time to lose, replied Jackson; and Ive got a friend here, he continued, looking towards the man with the ash stick. Oh, ask your friend to come here, Sir, said Mrs. Bardell. Pray ask your friend here, Sir. Why, thankee, Id rather not, said Mr. Jackson, with some embarrassment of manner. Hes not much used to ladies society, and it makes him bashful. If youll order the waiter to deliver him anything short, he wont drink it off at once, wont he!--only try him! Mr. Jacksons fingers wandered playfully round his nose at this portion of his discourse, to warn his hearers that he was speaking ironically. The waiter was at once despatched to the bashful gentleman, and the bashful gentleman took something; Mr. Jackson also took something, and the ladies took something, for hospitalitys sake. Mr. Jackson then said he was afraid it was time to go; upon which, Mrs. Sanders, Mrs. Cluppins, and Tommy (who it was arranged should accompany Mrs. Bardell, leaving the others to Mr. Raddles protection), got into the coach. Isaac, said Jackson, as Mrs. Bardell prepared to get in, looking up at the man with the ash stick, who was seated on the box, smoking a cigar. Well? This is Mrs. Bardell. Oh, I knowd that long ago, said the man. Mrs. Bardell got in, Mr. Jackson got in after her, and away they drove. Mrs. Bardell could not help ruminating on what Mr. Jacksons friend had said. Shrewd creatures, those lawyers. Lord bless us, how they find people out! Sad thing about these costs of our peoples, aint it, said Jackson, when Mrs. Cluppins and Mrs. Sanders had fallen asleep; your bill of costs, I mean. Im very sorry they cant get them, replied Mrs. Bardell. But if you law gentlemen do these things on speculation, why you must get a loss now and then, you know. You gave them a COGNOVIT for the amount of your costs, after the trial, Im told! said Jackson. Yes. Just as a matter of form, replied Mrs. Bardell. Certainly, replied Jackson drily. Quite a matter of form. Quite. On they drove, and Mrs. Bardell fell asleep. She was awakened, after some time, by the stopping of the coach. Bless us! said the lady .Are we at Freemans Court? Were not going quite so far, replied Jackson. Have the goodness to step out. Mrs. Bardell, not yet thoroughly awake, complied. It was a curious place: a large wall, with a gate in the middle, and a gas- light burning inside. Now, ladies, cried the man with the ash stick, looking into the coach, and shaking Mrs. Sanders to wake her, Come! Rousing her friend, Mrs. Sanders alighted. Mrs. Bardell, leaning on Jacksons arm, and leading Tommy by the hand, had already entered the porch. They followed. The room they turned into was even more odd-looking than the porch. Such a number of men standing about! And they stared so! What place is this? inquired Mrs. Bardell, pausing. Only one of our public offices, replied Jackson, hurrying her through a door, and looking round to see that the other women were following. Look sharp, Isaac! Safe and sound, replied the man with the ash stick. The door swung heavily after them, and they descended a small flight of steps. Here we are at last. All right and tight, Mrs. Bardell! said Jackson, looking exultingly round. What do you mean? said Mrs. Bardell, with a palpitating heart. Just this, replied Jackson, drawing her a little on one side; dont be frightened, Mrs. Bardell. There never was a more delicate man than Dodson, maam, or a more humane man than Fogg. It was their duty in the way of business, to take you in execution for them costs; but they were anxious to

The Pickwick Papers page 319        The Pickwick Papers page 321