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The Pickwick Papers 352







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The Pickwick Papers

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I dont think I ever did. Never knowd a churchyard were there wos a postboys tombstone, or see a dead postboy, did you? inquired Sam, pursuing his catechism. No, rejoined Bob, I never did. No! rejoined Sam triumphantly. Nor never vill; and theres another thing that no man never see, and thats a dead donkey. No man never see a dead donkey cept the genlmn in the black silk smalls as knowd the young ooman as kep a goat; and that wos a French donkey, so wery likely he warnt wun o the reglar breed. Well, what has that got to do with the postboys? asked Bob Sawyer. This here, replied Sam. Without goin so far as to as-sert, as some wery sensible people do, that postboys and donkeys is both immortal, wot I say is this: that wenever they feels theirselves gettin stiff and past their work, they just rides off together, wun postboy to a pair in the usual way; wot becomes on em nobody knows, but its wery probable as they starts avay to take their pleasure in some other vorld, for there aint a man alive as ever see either a donkey or a postboy a-takin his pleasure in this! Expatiating upon this learned and remarkable theory, and citing many curious statistical and other facts in its support, Sam Weller beguiled the time until they reached Dunchurch, where a dry postboy and fresh horses were procured; the next stage was Daventry, and the next Towcester; and at the end of each stage it rained harder than it had done at the beginning. I say, remonstrated Bob Sawyer, looking in at the coach window, as they pulled up before the door of the Saracens Head, Towcester, this wont do, you know. Bless me! said Mr. Pickwick, just awakening from a nap, Im afraid youre wet. Oh, you are, are you? returned Bob. Yes, I am, a little that way, Uncomfortably damp, perhaps. Bob did look dampish, inasmuch as the rain was streaming from his neck, elbows, cuffs, skirts, and knees; and his whole apparel shone so with the wet, that it might have been mistaken for a full suit of prepared oilskin. I AM rather wet, said Bob, giving himself a shake and casting a little hydraulic shower around, like a Newfoundland dog just emerged from the water. I think its quite impossible to go on to-night, interposed Ben. Out of the question, sir, remarked Sam Weller, coming to assist in the conference; its a cruelty to animals, sir, to ask em to do it. Theres beds here, sir, said Sam, addressing his master, everything clean and comfortable. Wery good little dinner, sir, they can get ready in half an hour--pair of fowls, sir, and a weal cutlet; French beans, taturs, tart, and tidiness. Youd better stop vere you are, sir, if I might recommend. Take adwice, sir, as the doctor said. The host of the Saracens Head opportunely appeared at this moment, to confirm Mr. Wellers statement relative to the accommodations of the establishment, and to back his entreaties with a variety of dismal conjectures regarding the state of the roads, the doubt of fresh horses being to be had at the next stage, the dead certainty of its raining all night, the equally mortal certainty of its clearing up in the morning, and other topics of inducement familiar to innkeepers. Well, said Mr. Pickwick; but I must send a letter to London by some conveyance, so that it may be delivered the very first thing in the morning, or I must go forwards at all hazards. The landlord smiled his delight. Nothing could be easier than for the gentleman to inclose a letter in a sheet of brown paper, and send it on, either by the mail or the night coach from Birmingham. If the gentleman were particularly anxious to have it left as soon as possible, he might write outside, To be delivered immediately, which was sure to be attended to; or Pay the bearer half-a-crown extra for instant delivery, which was surer still. Very well, said Mr. Pickwick, then we will stop here. Lights in the Sun, John; make up the fire; the gentlemen are wet! cried the landlord. This way, gentlemen; dont trouble yourselves about the postboy now, sir. Ill send him to you when you ring for him, sir. Now, John, the candles. The candles were brought, the fire was stirred up, and a fresh log of wood thrown on. In ten minutes time, a waiter was laying the cloth for

The Pickwick Papers page 351        The Pickwick Papers page 353