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The Pickwick Papers 371







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The Pickwick Papers

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Pickwick, and will be delighted to see you, I am sure. Black-eyed little jilt! replied Wardle. I had a great idea of marrying her myself, one of these odd days. But I am glad of it too, very glad. How did the intelligence reach you? asked Mr. Pickwick. Oh, it came to my girls, of course,replied Wardle. Arabella wrote, the day before yesterday, to say she had made a stolen match without her husbands fathers consent, and so you had gone down to get it when his refusing it couldnt prevent the match, and all the rest of it. I thought it a very good time to say something serious to my girls; so I said what a dreadful thing it was that children should marry without their parents consent, and so forth; but, bless your hearts, I couldnt make the least impression upon them. They thought it such a much more dreadful thing that there should have been a wedding without bridesmaids, that I might as well have preached to Joe himself. Here the old gentleman stopped to laugh; and having done so to his hearts content, presently resumed-- But this is not the best of it, it seems. This is only half the love-making and plotting that have been going forward. We have been walking on mines for the last six months, and theyre sprung at last. What do you mean? exclaimed Mr. Pickwick, turning pale; no other secret marriage, I hope? No, no, replied old Wardle; not so bad as that; no. What then? inquired Mr. Pickwick; am I interested in it? Shall I answer that question, Perker? said Wardle. If you dont commit yourself by doing so, my dear Sir. Well then, you are, said Wardle. How? asked Mr. Pickwick anxiously. In what way? Really, replied Wardle, youre such a fiery sort of a young fellow that I am almost afraid to tell you; but, however, if Perker will sit between us to prevent mischief, Ill venture. Having closed the room door, and fortified himself with another application to Perkers snuff-box, the old gentleman proceeded with his great disclosure in these words-- The fact is, that my daughter Bella--Bella, who married young Trundle, you know. Yes, yes, we know, said Mr. Pickwick impatiently. Dont alarm me at the very beginning. My daughter Bella-- Emily having gone to bed with a headache after she had read Arabellas letter to me--sat herself down by my side the other evening, and began to talk over this marriage affair. "Well, pa," she says, "what do you think of it?" "Why, my dear," I said, "I suppose its all very well; I hope its for the best." I answered in this way because I was sitting before the fire at the time, drinking my grog rather thoughtfully, and I knew my throwing in an undecided word now and then, would induce her to continue talking. Both my girls are pictures of their dear mother, and as I grow old I like to sit with only them by me; for their voices and looks carry me back to the happiest period of my life, and make me, for the moment, as young as I used to be then, though not quite so light-hearted. "Its quite a marriage of affection, pa," said Bella, after a short silence. "Yes, my dear," said I, "but such marriages do not always turn out the happiest." I question that, mind! interposed Mr. Pickwick warmly. Very good, responded Wardle, question anything you like when its your turn to speak, but dont interrupt me. I beg your pardon, said Mr. Pickwick. Granted, replied Wardle. "I am sorry to hear you express your opinion against marriages of affection, pa," said Bella, colouring a little. "I was wrong; I ought not to have said so, my dear, either," said I, patting her cheek as kindly as a rough old fellow like me could pat it, "for your mothers was one, and so was yours." "Its not that I meant, pa," said Bella. "The fact is, pa, I wanted to speak to you about Emily." Mr. Pickwick started. Whats the matter now? inquired Wardle, stopping in his narrative. Nothing,replied Mr. Pickwick. Pray go on. I never could spin out a story, said Wardle abruptly. It must come out, sooner or later, and itll save us all a great deal of time if it comes at once. The long and the short of it is, then, that Bella at last mustered up courage to tell me that

The Pickwick Papers page 370        The Pickwick Papers page 372