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The Pickwick Papers

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than it was wont to do, as it swung to and fro, creaking mournfully in the wind. The blinds were pulled down, and the shutters partly closed; of the knot of loungers that usually collected about the door, not one was to be seen; the place was silent and desolate. Seeing nobody of whom he could ask any preliminary questions, Sam walked softly in, and glancing round, he quickly recognised his parent in the distance. The widower was seated at a small round table in the little room behind the bar, smoking a pipe, with his eyes intently fixed upon the fire. The funeral had evidently taken place that day, for attached to his hat, which he still retained on his head, was a hatband measuring about a yard and a half in length, which hung over the top rail of the chair and streamed negligently down. Mr. Weller was in a very abstracted and contemplative mood. Notwithstanding that Sam called him by name several times, he still continued to smoke with the same fixed and quiet countenance, and was only roused ultimately by his sons placing the palm of his hand on his shoulder. Sammy, said Mr. Weller, youre welcome. Ive been a-callin to you half a dozen times, said Sam, hanging his hat on a peg, but you didnt hear me. No, Sammy, replied Mr. Weller, again looking thoughtfully at the fire. I was in a referee, Sammy. Wot about? inquired Sam, drawing his chair up to the fire. In a referee, Sammy, replied the elder Mr. Weller, regarding HER, Samivel. Here Mr. Weller jerked his head in the direction of Dorking churchyard, in mute explanation that his words referred to the late Mrs. Weller. I wos a-thinkin, Sammy, said Mr. Weller, eyeing his son, with great earnestness, over his pipe, as if to assure him that however extraordinary and incredible the declaration might appear, it was nevertheless calmly and deliberately uttered. I wos a-thinkin, Sammy, that upon the whole I wos wery sorry she wos gone. Vell, and so you ought to be, replied Sam. Mr. Weller nodded his acquiescence in the sentiment, and again fastening his eyes on the fire, shrouded himself in a cloud, and mused deeply. Those wos wery sensible observations as she made, Sammy, said Mr. Weller, driving the smoke away with his hand, after a long silence. Wot observations? inquired Sam. Them as she made, arter she was took ill, replied the old gentleman. Wot was they? Somethin to this here effect. "Veller," she says, "Im afeered Ive not done by you quite wot I ought to have done; youre a wery kind-hearted man, and I might ha made your home more comfortabler. I begin to see now," she says, "ven its too late, that if a married ooman vishes to be religious, she should begin vith dischargin her dooties at home, and makin them as is about her cheerful and happy, and that vile she goes to church, or chapel, or wot not, at all proper times, she should be wery careful not to con-wert this sort o thing into a excuse for idleness or self-indulgence. I have done this," she says, "and Ive vasted time and substance on them as has done it more than me; but I hope ven Im gone, Veller, that youll think on me as I wos afore I knowd them people, and as I raly wos by natur." "Susan," says I--I wos took up wery short by this, Samivel; I vont deny it, my boy--"Susan," I says, "youve been a wery good vife to me, altogether; dont say nothin at all about it; keep a good heart, my dear; and youll live to see me punch that ere Stigginss head yet." She smiled at this, Samivel, said the old gentleman, stifling a sigh with his pipe, but she died arter all! Vell, said Sam, venturing to offer a little homely consolation, after the lapse of three or four minutes, consumed by the old gentleman in slowly shaking his head from side to side, and solemnly smoking, vell, govnor, ve must all come to it, one day or another. So we must, Sammy, said Mr. Weller the elder. Theres a Providence in it all, said Sam. O course there is, replied his father, with a nod of grave approval. Wot ud become of the undertakers vithout it, Sammy? Lost in the immense field of conjecture opened by this reflection, the elder Mr. Weller laid his pipe on the table, and stirred the fire with a meditative visage. While the old gentleman was

The Pickwick Papers page 359        The Pickwick Papers page 361