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The Pickwick Papers 353







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The Pickwick Papers

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dinner, the curtains were drawn, the fire was blazing brightly, and everything looked (as everything always does, in all decent English inns) as if the travellers had been expected, and their comforts prepared, for days beforehand. Mr. Pickwick sat down at a side table, and hastily indited a note to Mr. Winkle, merely informing him that he was detained by stress of weather, but would certainly be in London next day; until when he deferred any account of his proceedings. This note was hastily made into a parcel, and despatched to the bar per Mr. Samuel Weller. Sam left it with the landlady, and was returning to pull his masters boots off, after drying himself by the kitchen fire, when glancing casually through a half-opened door, he was arrested by the sight of a gentleman with a sandy head who had a large bundle of newspapers lying on the table before him, and was perusing the leading article of one with a settled sneer which curled up his nose and all other features into a majestic expression of haughty contempt. Hollo! said Sam, I ought to know that ere head and them features; the eyeglass, too, and the broad-brimmed tile! Eatansvill to vit, or Im a Roman. Sam was taken with a troublesome cough, at once, for the purpose of attracting the gentlemans attention; the gentleman starting at the sound, raised his head and his eyeglass, and disclosed to view the profound and thoughtful features of Mr. Pott, of the Eatanswill GAZETTE. Beggin your pardon, sir, said Sam, advancing with a bow, my masters here, Mr. Pott. Hush! hush! cried Pott, drawing Sam into the room, and closing the door, with a countenance of mysterious dread and apprehension. Wots the matter, Sir? inquired Sam, looking vacantly about him. Not a whisper of my name, replied Pott; this is a buff neighbourhood. If the excited and irritable populace knew I was here, I should be torn to pieces. No! Vould you, sir? inquired Sam. I should be the victim of their fury, replied Pott. Now young man, what of your master? Hes a-stopping here to-night on his vay to town, with a couple of friends, replied Sam. Is Mr. Winkle one of them? inquired Pott, with a slight frown. No, Sir. Mr. Vinkle stops at home now, rejoined Sam. Hes married. Married! exclaimed Pott, with frightful vehemence. He stopped, smiled darkly, and added, in a low, vindictive tone, It serves him right! Having given vent to this cruel ebullition of deadly malice and cold-blooded triumph over a fallen enemy, Mr. Pott inquired whether Mr. Pickwicks friends were blue? Receiving a most satisfactory answer in the affirmative from Sam, who knew as much about the matter as Pott himself, he consented to accompany him to Mr. Pickwicks room, where a hearty welcome awaited him, and an agreement to club their dinners together was at once made and ratified. And how are matters going on in Eatanswill? inquired Mr. Pickwick, when Pott had taken a seat near the fire, and the whole party had got their wet boots off, and dry slippers on. Is the INDEPENDENT still in being? The INDEPENDENT, sir, replied Pott, is still dragging on a wretched and lingering career. Abhorred and despised by even the few who are cognisant of its miserable and disgraceful existence, stifled by the very filth it so profusely scatters, rendered deaf and blind by the exhalations of its own slime, the obscene journal, happily unconscious of its degraded state, is rapidly sinking beneath that treacherous mud which, while it seems to give it a firm standing with the low and debased classes of society, is nevertheless rising above its detested head, and will speedily engulf it for ever. Having delivered this manifesto (which formed a portion of his last weeks leader) with vehement articulation, the editor paused to take breath, and looked majestically at Bob Sawyer. You are a young man, sir, said Pott. Mr. Bob Sawyer nodded. So are you, sir, said Pott, addressing Mr. Ben Allen. Ben admitted the soft impeachment. And are both deeply imbued with those blue principles, which, so long as I live, I have pledged myself to the people of these kingdoms to support and to maintain? suggested Pott. Why, I dont exactly know about that, replied Bob Sawyer. I am-- Not buff, Mr. Pickwick, interrupted Pott, drawing back his chair, your friend is not buff, sir? No, no, rejoined Bob, Im a kind of plaid at present; a compound of all sorts of colours. A waverer, said Pott solemnly, a waverer. I should like to show you a series

The Pickwick Papers page 352        The Pickwick Papers page 354