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The Pickwick Papers 357







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The Pickwick Papers

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too atrocious! exclaimed Pott, at this juncture; still feigning to be absorbed in his reading. If you can wade through a few sentences of malice, meanness, falsehood, perjury, treachery, and cant, said Slurk, handing the paper to Bob, you will, perhaps, be somewhat repaid by a laugh at the style of this ungrammatical twaddler. Whats that you said, Sir? inquired Mr. Pott, looking up, trembling all over with passion. Whats that to you, sir? replied Slurk. Ungrammatical twaddler, was it, sir? said Pott. Yes, sir, it was, replied Slurk; and BLUE BORE, Sir, if you like that better; ha! ha! Mr. Pott retorted not a word at this jocose insult, but deliberately folded up his copy of the INDEPENDENT, flattened it carefully down, crushed it beneath his boot, spat upon it with great ceremony, and flung it into the fire. There, sir, said Pott, retreating from the stove, and thats the way I would serve the viper who produces it, if I were not, fortunately for him, restrained by the laws of my country. Serve him so, sir! cried Slurk, starting up. Those laws shall never be appealed to by him, sir, in such a case. Serve him so, sir! Hear! hear! said Bob Sawyer. Nothing can be fairer, observed Mr. Ben Allen. Serve him so, sir! reiterated Slurk, in a loud voice. Mr. Pott darted a look of contempt, which might have withered an anchor. Serve him so, sir! reiterated Slurk, in a louder voice than before. I will not, sir, rejoined Pott. Oh, you wont, wont you, sir? said Mr. Slurk, in a taunting manner; you hear this, gentlemen! He wont; not that hes afraid--, oh, no! he WONT. Ha! ha! I consider you, sir, said Mr. Pott, moved by this sarcasm, I consider you a viper. I look upon you, sir, as a man who has placed himself beyond the pale of society, by his most audacious, disgraceful, and abominable public conduct. I view you, sir, personally and politically, in no other light than as a most unparalleled and unmitigated viper. The indignant Independent did not wait to hear the end of this personal denunciation; for, catching up his carpet-bag, which was well stuffed with movables, he swung it in the air as Pott turned away, and, letting it fall with a circular sweep on his head, just at that particular angle of the bag where a good thick hairbrush happened to be packed, caused a sharp crash to be heard throughout the kitchen, and brought him at once to the ground. Gentlemen, cried Mr. Pickwick, as Pott started up and seized the fire-shovel--gentlemen! Consider, for Heavens sake--help --Sam--here--pray, gentlemen--interfere, somebody. Uttering these incoherent exclamations, Mr. Pickwick rushed between the infuriated combatants just in time to receive the carpet-bag on one side of his body, and the fire-shovel on the other. Whether the representatives of the public feeling of Eatanswill were blinded by animosity, or (being both acute reasoners) saw the advantage of having a third party between them to bear all the blows, certain it is that they paid not the slightest attention to Mr. Pickwick, but defying each other with great spirit, plied the carpet-bag and the fire-shovel most fearlessly. Mr. Pickwick would unquestionably have suffered severely for his humane interference, if Mr. Weller, attracted by his masters cries, had not rushed in at the moment, and, snatching up a meal--sack, effectually stopped the conflict by drawing it over the head and shoulders of the mighty Pott, and clasping him tight round the shoulders. Take away that ere bag from the tother madman, said Sam to Ben Allen and Bob Sawyer, who had done nothing but dodge round the group, each with a tortoise-shell lancet in his hand, ready to bleed the first man stunned. Give it up, you wretched little creetur, or Ill smother you in it. Awed by these threats, and quite out of breath, the INDEPENDENT suffered himself to be disarmed; and Mr. Weller, removing the extinguisher from Pott, set him free with a caution. You take yourselves off to bed quietly, said Sam, or Ill put you both in it, and let you fight it out vith the mouth tied, as I vould a dozen sich, if they played these games. And you have the goodness to come this here way, sir, if you please. Thus addressing his master, Sam took him by the arm, and led him off, while the rival editors were severally removed to their beds by the landlord, under the inspection of Mr. Bob Sawyer and Mr. Benjamin Allen; breathing, as they went away,

The Pickwick Papers page 356        The Pickwick Papers page 358