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The Pickwick Papers 33







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The Pickwick Papers

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young and well. Ah! said the old lady, after a short pause: its all very fine, I dare say; but I cant hear him. Grandmas rather put out now, said Miss Isabella Wardle, in a low tone; but shell talk to you presently. Mr. Pickwick nodded his readiness to humour the infirmities of age, and entered into a general conversation with the other members of the circle. Delightful situation this, said Mr. Pickwick. Delightful! echoed Messrs. Snodgrass, Tupman, and Winkle. Well, I think it is, said Mr. Wardle. There aint a better spot o ground in all Kent, sir, said the hard-headed man with the pippin--face; there aint indeed, sir-- Im sure there aint, Sir. The hard-headed man looked triumphantly round, as if he had been very much contradicted by somebody, but had got the better of him at last. There aint a better spot o ground in all Kent, said the hard-headed man again, after a pause. Cept Mullinss Meadows, observed the fat man solemnly. Mullinss Meadows! ejaculated the other, with profound contempt. Ah, Mullinss Meadows, repeated the fat man. Reglar good land that, interposed another fat man. And so it is, sure-ly, said a third fat man. Everybody knows that, said the corpulent host. The hard-headed man looked dubiously round, but finding himself in a minority, assumed a compassionate air and said no more. What are they talking about? inquired the old lady of one of her granddaughters, in a very audible voice; for, like many deaf people, she never seemed to calculate on the possibility of other persons hearing what she said herself. About the land, grandma. What about the land?--Nothing the matter, is there? No, no. Mr. Miller was saying our land was better than Mullinss Meadows. How should he know anything about it?inquired the old lady indignantly. Millers a conceited coxcomb, and you may tell him I said so. Saying which, the old lady, quite unconscious that she had spoken above a whisper, drew herself up, and looked carving-knives at the hard-headed delinquent. Come, come, said the bustling host, with a natural anxiety to change the conversation, what say you to a rubber, Mr. Pickwick? I should like it of all things, replied that gentleman; but pray dont make up one on my account. Oh, I assure you, mothers very fond of a rubber, said Mr. Wardle; aint you, mother? The old lady, who was much less deaf on this subject than on any other, replied in the affirmative. Joe, Joe! said the gentleman; Joe--damn that--oh, here he is; put out the card--tables. The lethargic youth contrived without any additional rousing to set out two card-tables; the one for Pope Joan, and the other for whist. The whist-players were Mr. Pickwick and the old lady, Mr. Miller and the fat gentleman. The round game comprised the rest of the company. The rubber was conducted with all that gravity of deportment and sedateness of demeanour which befit the pursuit entitled whist--a solemn observance, to which, as it appears to us, the title of game has been very irreverently and ignominiously applied. The round-game table, on the other hand, was so boisterously merry as materially to interrupt the contemplations of Mr. Miller, who, not being quite so much absorbed as he ought to have been, contrived to commit various high crimes and misdemeanours, which excited the wrath of the fat gentleman to a very great extent, and called forth the good-humour of the old lady in a proportionate degree. There! said the criminal Miller triumphantly, as he took up the odd trick at the conclusion of a hand; that could not have been played better, I flatter myself; impossible to have made another trick! Miller ought to have trumped the diamond, oughtnt he, Sir? said the old lady. Mr. Pickwick nodded assent. Ought I, though? said the unfortunate, with a doubtful appeal to his partner. You ought, Sir, said the fat gentleman, in an awful voice. Very sorry, said the crestfallen Miller. Much use that, growled the fat gentleman. Two by honours--makes us eight, said Mr. Pickwick. Another hand. Can you one? inquired the old lady. I can, replied Mr. Pickwick. Double, single, and the rub. Never was such luck, said Mr. Miller. Never was such cards, said the fat gentleman. A solemn silence; Mr. Pickwick humorous, the old lady serious, the fat gentleman captious, and Mr. Miller timorous. Another double, said the old lady, triumphantly making a memorandum of the circumstance, by placing one sixpence and a battered halfpenny under the candlestick. A double, sir, said Mr. Pickwick. Quite aware of the fact, Sir, replied the fat gentleman sharply. Another game, with a similar result, was

The Pickwick Papers page 32        The Pickwick Papers page 34