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The Pickwick Papers 344







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it? cried Bob, wiping the tears out of his eyes, with one of the cuffs of the rough coat. My dear Sir, said Mr. Pickwick, with some embarrassment, I had no idea of your accompanying us. No, thats just the very thing, replied Bob, seizing Mr. Pickwick by the lappel of his coat. Thats the joke. Oh, thats the joke, is it? said Mr. Pickwick. Of course, replied Bob. Its the whole point of the thing, you know--that, and leaving the business to take care of itself, as it seems to have made up its mind not to take care of me. With this explanation of the phenomenon of the shutters, Mr. Bob Sawyer pointed to the shop, and relapsed into an ecstasy of mirth. Bless me, you are surely not mad enough to think of leaving your patients without anybody to attend them! remonstrated Mr. Pickwick in a very serious tone. Why not? asked Bob, in reply. I shall save by it, you know. None of them ever pay. Besides, said Bob, lowering his voice to a confidential whisper, they will be all the better for it; for, being nearly out of drugs, and not able to increase my account just now, I should have been obliged to give them calomel all round, and it would have been certain to have disagreed with some of them. So its all for the best. There was a philosophy and a strength of reasoning about this reply, which Mr. Pickwick was not prepared for. He paused a few moments, and added, less firmly than before-- But this chaise, my young friend, will only hold two; and I am pledged to Mr. Allen. Dont think of me for a minute, replied Bob. Ive arranged it all; Sam and I will share the dickey between us. Look here. This little bill is to be wafered on the shop door: "Sawyer, late Nockemorf. Inquire of Mrs. Cripps over the way." Mrs. Cripps is my boys mother. "Mr. Sawyers very sorry," says Mrs. Cripps, "couldnt help it--fetched away early this morning to a consultation of the very first surgeons in the country--couldnt do without him--would have him at any price--tremendous operation." The fact is, said Bob, in conclusion, itll do me more good than otherwise, I expect. If it gets into one of the local papers, it will be the making of me. Heres Ben; now then, jump in! With these hurried words, Mr. Bob Sawyer pushed the postboy on one side, jerked his friend into the vehicle, slammed the door, put up the steps, wafered the bill on the street door, locked it, put the key in his pocket, jumped into the dickey, gave the word for starting, and did the whole with such extraordinary precipitation, that before Mr. Pickwick had well begun to consider whether Mr. Bob Sawyer ought to go or not, they were rolling away, with Mr. Bob Sawyer thoroughly established as part and parcel of the equipage. So long as their progress was confined to the streets of Bristol, the facetious Bob kept his professional green spectacles on, and conducted himself with becoming steadiness and gravity of demeanour; merely giving utterance to divers verbal witticisms for the exclusive behoof and entertainment of Mr. Samuel Weller. But when they emerged on the open road, he threw off his green spectacles and his gravity together, and performed a great variety of practical jokes, which were calculated to attract the attention of the passersby, and to render the carriage and those it contained objects of more than ordinary curiosity; the least conspicuous among these feats being a most vociferous imitation of a key-bugle, and the ostentatious display of a crimson silk pocket-handkerchief attached to a walking-stick, which was occasionally waved in the air with various gestures indicative of supremacy and defiance. I wonder, said Mr. Pickwick, stopping in the midst of a most sedate conversation with Ben Allen, bearing reference to the numerous good qualities of Mr. Winkle and his sister--I wonder what all the people we pass, can see in us to make them stare so. Its a neat turn-out, replied Ben Allen, with something of pride in his tone. Theyre not used to see this sort of thing, every day, I dare say. Possibly, replied Mr. Pickwick. It may be so. Perhaps it is. Mr. Pickwick might very probably have reasoned himself into the belief that it really was, had he not, just then happening to look out of the coach window, observed that the looks of

The Pickwick Papers page 343        The Pickwick Papers page 345