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The Pickwick Papers 325







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The Pickwick Papers

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dear friend, pardon! Mr. Pickwick could scarcely believe the evidence of his senses, and perhaps would not have done so, but for the corroborative testimony afforded by the smiling countenance of Perker, and the bodily presence, in the background, of Sam and the pretty housemaid; who appeared to contemplate the proceedings with the liveliest satisfaction. Oh, Mr. Pickwick! said Arabella, in a low voice, as if alarmed at the silence. Can you forgive my imprudence? Mr. Pickwick returned no verbal response to this appeal; but he took off his spectacles in great haste, and seizing both the young ladys hands in his, kissed her a great number of times-- perhaps a greater number than was absolutely necessary--and then, still retaining one of her hands, told Mr. Winkle he was an audacious young dog, and bade him get up. This, Mr. Winkle, who had been for some seconds scratching his nose with the brim of his hat, in a penitent manner, did; whereupon Mr. Pickwick slapped him on the back several times, and then shook hands heartily with Perker, who, not to be behind-hand in the compliments of the occasion, saluted both the bride and the pretty housemaid with right good-will, and, having wrung Mr, Winkles hand most cordially, wound up his demonstrations of joy by taking snuff enough to set any half-dozen men with ordinarily- constructed noses, a-sneezing for life. Why, my dear girl, said Mr. Pickwick, how has all this come about? Come! Sit down, and let me hear it all. How well she looks, doesnt she, Perker? added Mr. Pickwick, surveying Arabellas face with a look of as much pride and exultation, as if she had been his daughter. Delightful, my dear Sir, replied the little man. If I were not a married man myself, I should be disposed to envy you, you dog. Thus expressing himself, the little lawyer gave Mr. Winkle a poke in the chest, which that gentleman reciprocated; after which they both laughed very loudly, but not so loudly as Mr. Samuel Weller, who had just relieved his feelings by kissing the pretty housemaid under cover of the cupboard door. I can never be grateful enough to you, Sam, I am sure, said Arabella, with the sweetest smile imaginable. I shall not forget your exertions in the garden at Clifton. Dont say nothin wotever about it, maam, replied Sam. I only assisted natur, maam; as the doctor said to the boys mother, after hed bled him to death. Mary, my dear, sit down, said Mr. Pickwick, cutting short these compliments. Now then; how long have you been married, eh? Arabella looked bashfully at her lord and master, who replied, Only three days. Only three days, eh? said Mr. Pickwick. Why, what have you been doing these three months? Ah, to be sure! interposed Perker; come, account for this idleness. You see Mr. Pickwicks only astonishment is, that it wasnt all over, months ago. Why the fact is, replied Mr. Winkle, looking at his blushing young wife, that I could not persuade Bella to run away, for a long time. And when I had persuaded her, it was a long time more before we could find an opportunity. Mary had to give a months warning, too, before she could leave her place next door, and we couldnt possibly have done it without her assistance. Upon my word, exclaimed Mr. Pickwick, who by this time had resumed his spectacles, and was looking from Arabella to Winkle, and from Winkle to Arabella, with as much delight depicted in his countenance as warmheartedness and kindly feeling can communicate to the human face--upon my word! you seem to have been very systematic in your proceedings. And is your brother acquainted with all this, my dear? Oh, no, no, replied Arabella, changing colour. Dear Mr. Pickwick, he must only know it from you--from your lips alone. He is so violent, so prejudiced, and has been so--so anxious in behalf of his friend, Mr, Sawyer, added Arabella, looking down, that I fear the consequences dreadfully. Ah, to be sure, said Perker gravely. You must take this matter in hand for them, my dear sir. These young men will respect you, when they would listen to nobody else. You must prevent mischief, my dear Sir. Hot blood, hot blood. And the little man took a warning pinch, and shook his head doubtfully. You forget, my love, said Mr. Pickwick gently, you forget that I am a prisoner. No, indeed I do not, my dear Sir, replied Arabella.

The Pickwick Papers page 324        The Pickwick Papers page 326