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The Pickwick Papers 329







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down the steps, and thrusting in a hand enveloped in a dark wash-leather glove, pulled out the old lady with as much unconcern in his manner as if she were a bandbox. Dear me! exclaimed the old lady. I am so flurried, now I have got here, Martin, that Im all in a tremble. Mr. Martin coughed behind the dark wash-leather gloves, but expressed no sympathy; so the old lady, composing herself, trotted up Mr. Bob Sawyers steps, and Mr. Martin followed. Immediately on the old ladys entering the shop, Mr. Benjamin Allen and Mr. Bob Sawyer, who had been putting the spirits-and- water out of sight, and upsetting nauseous drugs to take off the smell of the tobacco smoke, issued hastily forth in a transport of pleasure and affection. My dear aunt, exclaimed Mr. Ben Allen, how kind of you to look in upon us! Mr. Sawyer, aunt; my friend Mr. Bob Sawyer whom I have spoken to you about, regarding--you know, aunt. And here Mr. Ben Allen, who was not at the moment extraordinarily sober, added the word Arabella, in what was meant to be a whisper, but which was an especially audible and distinct tone of speech which nobody could avoid hearing, if anybody were so disposed. My dear Benjamin, said the old lady, struggling with a great shortness of breath, and trembling from head to foot, dont be alarmed, my dear, but I think I had better speak to Mr. Sawyer, alone, for a moment. Only for one moment. Bob, said Mr. Allen, will you take my aunt into the surgery? Certainly, responded Bob, in a most professional voice. Step this way, my dear maam. Dont be frightened, maam. We shall be able to set you to rights in a very short time, I have no doubt, maam. Here, my dear maam. Now then! With this, Mr. Bob Sawyer having handed the old lady to a chair, shut the door, drew another chair close to her, and waited to hear detailed the symptoms of some disorder from which he saw in perspective a long train of profits and advantages. The first thing the old lady did, was to shake her head a great many times, and began to cry. Nervous, said Bob Sawyer complacently. Camphor-julep and water three times a day, and composing draught at night. I dont know how to begin, Mr. Sawyer, said the old lady. It is so very painful and distressing. You need not begin, maam, rejoined Mr. Bob Sawyer. I can anticipate all you would say. The head is in fault. I should be very sorry to think it was the heart, said the old lady, with a slight groan. Not the slightest danger of that, maam, replied Bob Sawyer. The stomach is the primary cause. Mr. Sawyer! exclaimed the old lady, starting. Not the least doubt of it, maam, rejoined Bob, looking wondrous wise. Medicine, in time, my dear maam, would have prevented it all. Mr. Sawyer, said the old lady, more flurried than before, this conduct is either great impertinence to one in my situation, Sir, or it arises from your not understanding the object of my visit. If it had been in the power of medicine, or any foresight I could have used, to prevent what has occurred, I should certainly have done so. I had better see my nephew at once, said the old lady, twirling her reticule indignantly, and rising as she spoke. Stop a moment, maam, said Bob Sawyer; Im afraid I have not understood you. What IS the matter, maam? My niece, Mr. Sawyer, said the old lady: your friends sister. Yes, maam, said Bob, all impatience; for the old lady, although much agitated, spoke with the most tantalising deliberation, as old ladies often do. Yes, maam. Left my home, Mr. Sawyer, three days ago, on a pretended visit to my sister, another aunt of hers, who keeps the large boarding-school, just beyond the third mile-stone, where there is a very large laburnum-tree and an oak gate, said the old lady, stopping in this place to dry her eyes. Oh, devil take the laburnum-tree, maam! said Bob, quite forgetting his professional dignity in his anxiety. Get on a little faster; put a little more steam on, maam, pray. This morning, said the old lady slowly--this morning, she-- She came back, maam, I suppose, said Bob, with great animation. Did she come back? No, she did not; she wrote, replied the old lady. What did she say? inquired Bob eagerly. She said, Mr.

The Pickwick Papers page 328        The Pickwick Papers page 330