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The Pickwick Papers 367







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throw away this chance, you will both richly deserve to be hanged, as I sincerely trust you will be. And now you had better leave Mr. Pickwick and me alone, for we have other matters to talk over, and time is precious. As Perker said this, he looked towards the door, with an evident desire to render the leave-taking as brief as possible. It was brief enough on Mr. Jingles part. He thanked the little attorney in a few hurried words for the kindness and promptitude with which he had rendered his assistance, and, turning to his benefactor, stood for a few seconds as if irresolute what to say or how to act. Job Trotter relieved his perplexity; for, with a humble and grateful bow to Mr. Pickwick, he took his friend gently by the arm, and led him away. A worthy couple! said Perker, as the door closed behind them. I hope they may become so, replied Mr. Pickwick. What do you think? Is there any chance of their permanent reformation? Perker shrugged his shoulders doubtfully, but observing Mr. Pickwicks anxious and disappointed look, rejoined-- Of course there is a chance. I hope it may prove a good one. They are unquestionably penitent now; but then, you know, they have the recollection of very recent suffering fresh upon them. What they may become, when that fades away, is a problem that neither you nor I can solve. However, my dear Sir, added Perker, laying his hand on Mr. Pickwicks shoulder, your object is equally honourable, whatever the result is. Whether that species of benevolence which is so very cautious and long-sighted that it is seldom exercised at all, lest its owner should be imposed upon, and so wounded in his self-love, be real charity or a worldly counterfeit, I leave to wiser heads than mine to determine. But if those two fellows were to commit a burglary to-morrow, my opinion of this action would be equally high. With these remarks, which were delivered in a much more animated and earnest manner than is usual in legal gentlemen, Perker drew his chair to his desk, and listened to Mr. Pickwicks recital of old Mr. Winkles obstinacy. Give him a week, said Perker, nodding his head prophetically. Do you think he will come round? inquired Mr. Pickwick. I think he will, rejoined Perker. If not, we must try the young ladys persuasion; and that is what anybody but you would have done at first. Mr. Perker was taking a pinch of snuff with various grotesque contractions of countenance, eulogistic of the persuasive powers appertaining unto young ladies, when the murmur of inquiry and answer was heard in the outer office, and Lowten tapped at the door. Come in! cried the little man. The clerk came in, and shut the door after him, with great mystery. Whats the matter? inquired Perker. Youre wanted, Sir. Who wants me? Lowten looked at Mr. Pickwick, and coughed. Who wants me? Cant you speak, Mr. Lowten? Why, sir, replied Lowten, its Dodson; and Fogg is with him. Bless my life! said the little man, looking at his watch, I appointed them to be here at half-past eleven, to settle that matter of yours, Pickwick. I gave them an undertaking on which they sent down your discharge; its very awkward, my dear Sir; what will you do? Would you like to step into the next room? The next room being the identical room in which Messrs. Dodson & Fogg were, Mr. Pickwick replied that he would remain where he was: the more especially as Messrs. Dodson & Fogg ought to be ashamed to look him in the face, instead of his being ashamed to see them. Which latter circumstance he begged Mr. Perker to note, with a glowing countenance and many marks of indignation. Very well, my dear Sir, very well, replied Perker, I can only say that if you expect either Dodson or Fogg to exhibit any symptom of shame or confusion at having to look you, or anybody else, in the face, you are the most sanguine man in your expectations that I ever met with. Show them in, Mr. Lowten. Mr. Lowten disappeared with a grin, and immediately returned ushering in the firm, in due form of precedence--Dodson first, and Fogg afterwards. You have seen Mr. Pickwick, I believe? said Perker to Dodson, inclining his pen in the direction where that gentleman was seated. How do you do, Mr. Pickwick? said Dodson, in a loud voice. Dear me,cried Fogg, how do you do, Mr. Pickwick?

The Pickwick Papers page 366        The Pickwick Papers page 368