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The Pickwick Papers 330







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Sawyer, replied the old lady--and it is this I want to prepare Benjamins mind for, gently and by degrees; she said that she was-- I have got the letter in my pocket, Mr. Sawyer, but my glasses are in the carriage, and I should only waste your time if I attempted to point out the passage to you, without them; she said, in short, Mr. Sawyer, that she was married. What! said, or rather shouted, Mr. Bob Sawyer. Married, repeated the old lady. Mr. Bob Sawyer stopped to hear no more; but darting from the surgery into the outer shop, cried in a stentorian voice, Ben, my boy, shes bolted! Mr. Ben Allen, who had been slumbering behind the counter, with his head half a foot or so below his knees, no sooner heard this appalling communication, than he made a precipitate rush at Mr. Martin, and, twisting his hand in the neck-cloth of that taciturn servitor, expressed an obliging intention of choking him where he stood. This intention, with a promptitude often the effect of desperation, he at once commenced carrying into execution, with much vigour and surgical skill. Mr. Martin, who was a man of few words and possessed but little power of eloquence or persuasion, submitted to this operation with a very calm and agreeable expression of countenance, for some seconds; finding, however, that it threatened speedily to lead to a result which would place it beyond his power to claim any wages, board or otherwise, in all time to come, he muttered an inarticulate remonstrance and felled Mr. Benjamin Allen to the ground. As that gentleman had his hands entangled in his cravat, he had no alternative but to follow him to the floor. There they both lay struggling, when the shop door opened, and the party was increased by the arrival of two most unexpected visitors, to wit, Mr. Pickwick and Mr. Samuel Weller. The impression at once produced on Mr. Wellers mind by what he saw, was, that Mr. Martin was hired by the establishment of Sawyer, late Nockemorf, to take strong medicine, or to go into fits and be experimentalised upon, or to swallow poison now and then with the view of testing the efficacy of some new antidotes, or to do something or other to promote the great science of medicine, and gratify the ardent spirit of inquiry burning in the bosoms of its two young professors. So, without presuming to interfere, Sam stood perfectly still, and looked on, as if he were mightily interested in the result of the then pending experiment. Not so, Mr. Pickwick. He at once threw himself on the astonished combatants, with his accustomed energy, and loudly called upon the bystanders to interpose. This roused Mr. Bob Sawyer, who had been hitherto quite paralysed by the frenzy of his companion. With that gentlemans assistance, Mr. Pickwick raised Ben Allen to his feet. Mr. Martin finding himself alone on the floor, got up, and looked about him. Mr. Allen, said Mr. Pickwick, what is the matter, Sir? Never mind, Sir! replied Mr. Allen, with haughty defiance. What is it? inquired Mr. Pickwick, looking at Bob Sawyer. Is he unwell? Before Bob could reply, Mr. Ben Allen seized Mr. Pickwick by the hand, and murmured, in sorrowful accents, My sister, my dear Sir; my sister. Oh, is that all! said Mr. Pickwick. We shall easily arrange that matter, I hope. Your sister is safe and well, and I am here, my dear Sir, to-- Sorry to do anythin as may cause an interruption to such wery pleasant proceedins, as the king said wen he dissolved the parliament, interposed Mr. Weller, who had been peeping through the glass door; but theres another experiment here, sir. Heres a wenerable old lady a--lyin on the carpet waitin for dissection, or galwinism, or some other rewivin and scientific inwention. I forgot, exclaimed Mr. Ben Allen. It is my aunt. Dear me! said Mr. Pickwick. Poor lady! Gently Sam, gently. Strange sitivation for one o the family, observed Sam Weller, hoisting the aunt into a chair. Now depitty sawbones, bring out the wollatilly! The latter observation was addressed to the boy in gray, who, having handed over the fly to the care of the street-keeper, had come back to see what all the noise was about. Between the boy in gray, and Mr. Bob Sawyer, and Mr. Benjamin Allen (who having frightened his aunt into a fainting fit, was affectionately solicitous for her recovery) the old lady was at length restored to consciousness; then Mr. Ben Allen,

The Pickwick Papers page 329        The Pickwick Papers page 331