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The Pickwick Papers 346







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its contents, in all good-fellowship and harmony. Whats to be done? said Mr. Pickwick, looking at the bottle. This proceeding is more absurd than the other. I think it would be best to take it in, replied Mr. Ben Allen; it would serve him right to take it in and keep it, wouldnt it? It would, said Mr. Pickwick; shall I? I think it the most proper course we could possibly adopt, replied Ben. This advice quite coinciding with his own opinion, Mr. Pickwick gently let down the window and disengaged the bottle from the stick; upon which the latter was drawn up, and Mr. Bob Sawyer was heard to laugh heartily. What a merry dog it is! said Mr. Pickwick, looking round at his companion, with the bottle in his hand. He is, said Mr. Allen. You cannot possibly be angry with him, remarked Mr. Pickwick. Quite out of the question, observed Benjamin Allen. During this short interchange of sentiments, Mr. Pickwick had, in an abstracted mood, uncorked the bottle. What is it? inquired Ben Allen carelessly. I dont know, replied Mr. Pickwick, with equal carelessness. It smells, I think, like milk-punch. Oh, indeed? said Ben. I THINK so, rejoined Mr. Pickwick, very properly guarding himself against the possibility of stating an untruth; mind, I could not undertake to say certainly, without tasting it. You had better do so, said Ben; we may as well know what it is. Do you think so? replied Mr. Pickwick. Well; if you are curious to know, of course I have no objection. Ever willing to sacrifice his own feelings to the wishes of his friend, Mr. Pickwick at once took a pretty long taste. What is it? inquired Ben Allen, interrupting him with some impatience. Curious, said Mr. Pickwick, smacking his lips, I hardly know, now. Oh, yes! said Mr. Pickwick, after a second taste. It IS punch. Mr. Ben Allen looked at Mr. Pickwick; Mr. Pickwick looked at Mr. Ben Allen; Mr. Ben Allen smiled; Mr. Pickwick did not. It would serve him right, said the last-named gentleman, with some severity--it would serve him right to drink it every drop. The very thing that occurred to me, said Ben Allen. Is it, indeed? rejoined Mr. Pickwick. Then heres his health! With these words, that excellent person took a most energetic pull at the bottle, and handed it to Ben Allen, who was not slow to imitate his example. The smiles became mutual, and the milk-punch was gradually and cheerfully disposed of. After all, said Mr. Pickwick, as he drained the last drop, his pranks are really very amusing; very entertaining indeed. You may say that, rejoined Mr. Ben Allen. In proof of Bob Sawyers being one of the funniest fellows alive, he proceeded to entertain Mr. Pickwick with a long and circumstantial account how that gentleman once drank himself into a fever and got his head shaved; the relation of which pleasant and agreeable history was only stopped by the stoppage of the chaise at the Bell at Berkeley Heath, to change horses. I say! Were going to dine here, arent we? said Bob, looking in at the window. Dine! said Mr. Pickwick. Why, we have only come nineteen miles, and have eighty-seven and a half to go. Just the reason why we should take something to enable us to bear up against the fatigue, remonstrated Mr. Bob Sawyer. Oh, its quite impossible to dine at half-past eleven oclock in the day, replied Mr. Pickwick, looking at his watch. So it is, rejoined Bob, lunch is the very thing. Hollo, you sir! Lunch for three, directly; and keep the horses back for a quarter of an hour. Tell them to put everything they have cold, on the table, and some bottled ale, and let us taste your very best Madeira. Issuing these orders with monstrous importance and bustle, Mr. Bob Sawyer at once hurried into the house to superintend the arrangements; in less than five minutes he returned and declared them to be excellent. The quality of the lunch fully justified the eulogium which Bob had pronounced, and very great justice was done to it, not only by that gentleman, but Mr. Ben Allen and Mr. Pickwick also. Under the auspices of the three, the bottled ale and the Madeira were promptly disposed of; and when (the horses being once more put to) they resumed their seats, with the case-bottle full of the best substitute for milk-punch that could be procured on so short a notice, the key-bugle sounded, and the red flag waved, without the slightest opposition on Mr.

The Pickwick Papers page 345        The Pickwick Papers page 347