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The Pickwick Papers 45







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The Pickwick Papers

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cessation. At every good stroke he expressed his satisfaction and approval of the player in a most condescending and patronising manner, which could not fail to have been highly gratifying to the party concerned; while at every bad attempt at a catch, and every failure to stop the ball, he launched his personal displeasure at the head of the devoted individual in such denunciations as--Ah, ah!--stupid--Now, butter- fingers--Muff--Humbug--and so forth--ejaculations which seemed to establish him in the opinion of all around, as a most excellent and undeniable judge of the whole art and mystery of the noble game of cricket. Capital game--well played--some strokes admirable, said the stranger, as both sides crowded into the tent, at the conclusion of the game. You have played it, sir? inquired Mr. Wardle, who had been much amused by his loquacity. Played it! Think I have--thousands of times--not here--West Indies--exciting thing--hot work--very. It must be rather a warm pursuit in such a climate, observed Mr. Pickwick. Warm!--red hot--scorching--glowing. Played a match once--single wicket--friend the colonel--Sir Thomas Blazo--who should get the greatest number of runs.--Won the toss--first innings--seven oclock A.m.--six natives to look out--went in; kept in--heat intense--natives all fainted--taken away--fresh half-dozen ordered--fainted also--Blazo bowling--supported by two natives--couldnt bowl me out--fainted too--cleared away the colonel--wouldnt give in--faithful attendant--Quanko Samba--last man left--sun so hot, bat in blisters, ball scorched brown--five hundred and seventy runs--rather exhausted-- Quanko mustered up last remaining strength--bowled me out-- had a bath, and went out to dinner. And what became of whats-his-name, Sir? inquired an old gentleman. Blazo? No--the other gentleman. Quanko Samba? Yes, sir. Poor Quanko--never recovered it--bowled on, on my account --bowled off, on his own--died, sir. Here the stranger buried his countenance in a brown jug, but whether to hide his emotion or imbibe its contents, we cannot distinctly affirm. We only know that he paused suddenly, drew a long and deep breath, and looked anxiously on, as two of the principal members of the Dingley Dell club approached Mr. Pickwick, and said-- We are about to partake of a plain dinner at the Blue Lion, Sir; we hope you and your friends will join us. Of course, said Mr. Wardle, among our friends we include Mr.--; and he looked towards the stranger. Jingle, said that versatile gentleman, taking the hint at once. Jingle--Alfred Jingle, Esq., of No Hall, Nowhere. I shall be very happy, I am sure, said Mr. Pickwick. So shall I, said Mr. Alfred Jingle, drawing one arm through Mr. Pickwicks, and another through Mr. Wardles, as he whispered confidentially in the ear of the former gentleman:-- Devilish good dinner--cold, but capital--peeped into the room this morning--fowls and pies, and all that sort of thing-- pleasant fellows these--well behaved, too--very. There being no further preliminaries to arrange, the company straggled into the town in little knots of twos and threes; and within a quarter of an hour were all seated in the great room of the Blue Lion Inn, Muggleton--Mr. Dumkins acting as chairman, and Mr. Luffey officiating as vice. There was a vast deal of talking and rattling of knives and forks, and plates; a great running about of three ponderous- headed waiters, and a rapid disappearance of the substantial viands on the table; to each and every of which item of confusion, the facetious Mr. Jingle lent the aid of half-a-dozen ordinary men at least. When everybody had eaten as much as possible, the cloth was removed, bottles, glasses, and dessert were placed on the table; and the waiters withdrew to clear away,or in other words, to appropriate to their own private use and emolument whatever remnants of the eatables and drinkables they could contrive to lay their hands on. Amidst the general hum of mirth and conversation that ensued, there was a little man with a puffy Say-nothing-to-me,-or-Ill- contradict-you sort of countenance, who remained very quiet; occasionally looking round him when the conversation slackened, as if he contemplated putting in something very weighty; and now and then bursting into a short cough of inexpressible grandeur. At length, during a moment of comparative silence, the little man called out in a very loud, solemn voice,-- Mr. Luffey! Everybody was hushed into a profound stillness as the individual addressed, replied-- Sir! I wish to address a few words to you, Sir, if you will entreat the gentlemen to fill their glasses. Mr. Jingle uttered a patronising Hear, hear, which was responded to by the remainder of the company; and the glasses having been filled, the vice-president assumed an air of wisdom in a state of profound attention; and said-- Mr. Staple. Sir, said the little man, rising, I wish to address what I have to say to you and not to our

The Pickwick Papers page 44        The Pickwick Papers page 46