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The Pickwick Papers 373







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which they all three laughed, especially the two last-named gentlemen, who at once shook hands again, without any obvious or particular reason. You dine with me to-day, said Wardle to Perker, as he showed them out. Cant promise, my dear Sir, cant promise, replied Perker. Ill look in, in the evening, at all events. I shall expect you at five, said Wardle. Now, Joe! And Joe having been at length awakened, the two friends departed in Mr. Wardles carriage, which in common humanity had a dickey behind for the fat boy, who, if there had been a footboard instead, would have rolled off and killed himself in his very first nap. Driving to the George and Vulture, they found that Arabella and her maid had sent for a hackney-coach immediately on the receipt of a short note from Emily announcing her arrival in town, and had proceeded straight to the Adelphi. As Wardle had business to transact in the city, they sent the carriage and the fat boy to his hotel, with the information that he and Mr. Pickwick would return together to dinner at five oclock. Charged with this message, the fat boy returned, slumbering as peaceably in his dickey, over the stones, as if it had been a down bed on watch springs. By some extraordinary miracle he awoke of his own accord, when the coach stopped, and giving himself a good shake to stir up his faculties, went upstairs to execute his commission. Now, whether the shake had jumbled the fat boys faculties together, instead of arranging them in proper order, or had roused such a quantity of new ideas within him as to render him oblivious of ordinary forms and ceremonies, or (which is also possible) had proved unsuccessful in preventing his falling asleep as he ascended the stairs, it is an undoubted fact that he walked into the sitting-room without previously knocking at the door; and so beheld a gentleman with his arms clasping his young mistresss waist, sitting very lovingly by her side on a sofa, while Arabella and her pretty handmaid feigned to be absorbed in looking out of a window at the other end of the room. At the sight of this phenomenon, the fat boy uttered an interjection, the ladies a scream, and the gentleman an oath, almost simultaneously. Wretched creature, what do you want here? said the gentleman, who it is needless to say was Mr. Snodgrass. To this the fat boy, considerably terrified, briefly responded, Missis. What do you want me for, inquired Emily, turning her head aside, you stupid creature? Master and Mr. Pickwick is a-going to dine here at five, replied the fat boy. Leave the room! said Mr. Snodgrass, glaring upon the bewildered youth. No, no, no, added Emily hastily. Bella, dear, advise me. Upon this, Emily and Mr. Snodgrass, and Arabella and Mary, crowded into a corner, and conversed earnestly in whispers for some minutes, during which the fat boy dozed. Joe, said Arabella, at length, looking round with a most bewitching smile, how do you do, Joe? Joe, said Emily, youre a very good boy; I wont forget you, Joe. Joe, said Mr. Snodgrass, advancing to the astonished youth, and seizing his hand, I didnt know you before. Theres five shillings for you, Joe!" Ill owe you five, Joe, said Arabella, for old acquaintance sake, you know; and another most captivating smile was bestowed upon the corpulent intruder. The fat boys perception being slow, he looked rather puzzled at first to account for this sudden prepossession in his favour, and stared about him in a very alarming manner. At length his broad face began to show symptoms of a grin of proportionately broad dimensions; and then, thrusting half-a-crown into each of his pockets, and a hand and wrist after it, he burst into a horse laugh: being for the first and only time in his existence. He understands us, I see, said Arabella. He had better have something to eat, immediately, remarked Emily. The fat boy almost laughed again when he heard this suggestion. Mary, after a little more whispering, tripped forth from the group and said-- I am going to dine with you to-day, sir, if you have no objection. This way, said the fat boy eagerly. There is such a jolly meat-pie! With these words, the fat boy led the way downstairs; his pretty companion captivating all the waiters and angering all the chambermaids as she followed him to the eating-room. There was the meat-pie of which the youth had spoken so feelingly, and there were, moreover, a steak, and a dish

The Pickwick Papers page 372        The Pickwick Papers page 374