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The Pickwick Papers 333







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thought of Mrs. Bardell; and every glance of the old ladys eyes threw him into a cold perspiration. As Mr. Pickwick could by no means be prevailed upon to stay, it was arranged at once, on his own proposition, that Mr. Benjamin Allen should accompany him on his journey to the elder Mr. Winkles, and that the coach should be at the door, at nine oclock next morning. He then took his leave, and, followed by Samuel Weller, repaired to the Bush. It is worthy of remark, that Mr. Martins face was horribly convulsed as he shook hands with Sam at parting, and that he gave vent to a smile and an oath simultaneously; from which tokens it has been inferred by those who were best acquainted with that gentlemans peculiarities, that he expressed himself much pleased with Mr. Wellers society, and requested the honour of his further acquaintance. Shall I order a private room, Sir? inquired Sam, when they reached the Bush. Why, no, Sam, replied Mr. Pickwick; as I dined in the coffee-room, and shall go to bed soon, it is hardly worth while. See who there is in the travellers room, Sam. Mr. Weller departed on his errand, and presently returned to say that there was only a gentleman with one eye; and that he and the landlord were drinking a bowl of bishop together. I will join them, said Mr. Pickwick. Hes a queer customer, the vun-eyed vun, sir, observed Mr. Weller, as he led the way. Hes a-gammonin that ere landlord, he is, sir, till he dont rightly know wether hes a-standing on the soles of his boots or the crown of his hat. The individual to whom this observation referred, was sitting at the upper end of the room when Mr. Pickwick entered, and was smoking a large Dutch pipe, with his eye intently fixed on the round face of the landlord; a jolly-looking old personage, to whom he had recently been relating some tale of wonder, as was testified by sundry disjointed exclamations of, Well, I wouldnt have believed it! The strangest thing I ever heard! Couldnt have supposed it possible! and other expressions of astonishment which burst spontaneously from his lips, as he returned the fixed gaze of the one-eyed man. Servant, sir, said the one-eyed man to Mr. Pickwick. Fine night, sir. Very much so indeed, replied Mr. Pickwick, as the waiter placed a small decanter of brandy, and some hot water before him. While Mr. Pickwick was mixing his brandy-and-water, the one-eyed man looked round at him earnestly, from time to time, and at length said-- I think Ive seen you before. I dont recollect you, rejoined Mr. Pickwick. I dare say not, said the one-eyed man. You didnt know me, but I knew two friends of yours that were stopping at the Peacock at Eatanswill, at the time of the election. Oh, indeed! exclaimed Mr. Pickwick. Yes, rejoined the one-eyed man. I mentioned a little circumstance to them about a friend of mine of the name of Tom Smart. Perhaps youve heard them speak of it. Often, rejoined Mr. Pickwick, smiling. He was your uncle, I think? No, no; only a friend of my uncles, replied the one-eyed man. He was a wonderful man, that uncle of yours, though, remarked the landlord shaking his head. Well, I think he was; I think I may say he was, answered the one-eyed man. I could tell you a story about that same uncle, gentlemen, that would rather surprise you. Could you? said Mr. Pickwick. Let us hear it, by all means. The one-eyed bagman ladled out a glass of negus from the bowl, and drank it; smoked a long whiff out of the Dutch pipe; and then, calling to Sam Weller who was lingering near the door, that he neednt go away unless he wanted to, because the story was no secret, fixed his eye upon the landlords, and proceeded, in the words of the next chapter.

CHAPTER XLIX

CONTAINING THE STORY OF THE BAGMANS UNCLE

My uncle, gentlemen, said the bagman, was one of the merriest, pleasantest, cleverest fellows, that ever lived. I wish you had known him, gentlemen. On second thoughts, gentlemen, I dont wish you had known him, for if you had, you would have been all, by this time, in the ordinary course of nature, if not dead, at all events so near it, as to have taken to stopping at home and giving up company, which would have deprived me of the inestimable pleasure

The Pickwick Papers page 332        The Pickwick Papers page 334