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The Pickwick Papers 377







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back. Whats this? I have been concealed in the next room, sir, since you returned, explained Mr. Snodgrass. Emily, my girl, said Wardle reproachfully, I detest meanness and deceit; this is unjustifiable and indelicate in the highest degree. I dont deserve this at your hands, Emily, indeed! Dear papa, said Emily, Arabella knows--everybody here knows--Joe knows--that I was no party to this concealment. Augustus, for Heavens sake, explain it! Mr. Snodgrass, who had only waited for a hearing, at once recounted how he had been placed in his then distressing predicament; how the fear of giving rise to domestic dissensions had alone prompted him to avoid Mr. Wardle on his entrance; how he merely meant to depart by another door, but, finding it locked, had been compelled to stay against his will. It was a painful situation to be placed in; but he now regretted it the less, inasmuch as it afforded him an opportunity of acknowledging, before their mutual friends, that he loved Mr. Wardles daughter deeply and sincerely; that he was proud to avow that the feeling was mutual; and that if thousands of miles were placed between them, or oceans rolled their waters, he could never for an instant forget those happy days, when first-- et cetera, et cetera. Having delivered himself to this effect, Mr. Snodgrass bowed again, looked into the crown of his hat, and stepped towards the door. Stop! shouted Wardle. Why, in the name of all thats-- Inflammable, mildly suggested Mr. Pickwick, who thought something worse was coming. Well--thats inflammable, said Wardle, adopting the substitute; couldnt you say all this to me in the first instance? Or confide in me? added Mr. Pickwick. Dear, dear, said Arabella, taking up the defence, what is the use of asking all that now, especially when you know you had set your covetous old heart on a richer son-in-law, and are so wild and fierce besides, that everybody is afraid of you, except me? Shake hands with him, and order him some dinner, for goodness gracious sake, for he looks half starved; and pray have your wine up at once, for youll not be tolerable until you have taken two bottles at least. The worthy old gentleman pulled Arabellas ear, kissed her without the smallest scruple, kissed his daughter also with great affection, and shook Mr. Snodgrass warmly by the hand. She is right on one point at all events, said the old gentleman cheerfully. Ring for the wine! The wine came, and Perker came upstairs at the same moment. Mr. Snodgrass had dinner at a side table, and, when he had despatched it, drew his chair next Emily, without the smallest opposition on the old gentlemans part. The evening was excellent. Little Mr. Perker came out wonderfully, told various comic stories, and sang a serious song which was almost as funny as the anecdotes. Arabella was very charming, Mr. Wardle very jovial, Mr. Pickwick very harmonious, Mr. Ben Allen very uproarious, the lovers very silent, Mr. Winkle very talkative, and all of them very happy.

CHAPTER LV

Mr. SOLOMON PELL, ASSISTED BY A SELECT COMMITTEE OF COACHMEN, ARRANGES THE AFFAIRS OF THE ELDER Mr. WELLER

Samivel, said Mr. Weller, accosting his son on the morning after the funeral, Ive found it, Sammy. I thought it wos there. Thought wot wos there? inquired Sam. Your mother-in-laws vill, Sammy, replied Mr. Weller. In wirtue o vich, them arrangements is to be made as I told you on, last night, respectin the funs. Wot, didnt she tell you were it wos? inquired Sam. Not a bit on it, Sammy, replied Mr. Weller. We wos a adjestin our little differences, and I wos a-cheerin her spirits and bearin her up, so that I forgot to ask anythin about it. I dont know as I should ha done it, indeed, if I had remembered it, added Mr. Weller, for its a rum sort o thing, Sammy, to go a-hankerin arter anybodys property, ven youre assistin em in illness. Its like helping an outside passenger up, ven hes been pitched off a coach, and puttin your hand in his pocket, vile you ask him, vith a sigh, how he finds his-self, Sammy. With this figurative illustration of his meaning, Mr. Weller unclasped his pocket-book, and drew forth a dirty sheet of letter-paper, on which were inscribed various characters crowded together in remarkable confusion. This here is the dockyment, Sammy, said Mr. Weller. I found it in the little black tea-pot, on the top shelf o the

The Pickwick Papers page 376        The Pickwick Papers page 378