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The Pickwick Papers 5

Elisha Cuthbert Photos


Martin Eden

The Pickwick Papers

The Sea Wolf

lamp-post inconvenient--damned odd standing in the open street half an hour, with your eye against a lamp-post--eh,--very good-- ha! ha! And the stranger, without stopping to take breath, swallowed at a draught full half a pint of the reeking brandy-and- water, and flung himself into a chair with as much ease as if nothing uncommon had occurred. While his three companions were busily engaged in proffering their thanks to their new acquaintance, Mr. Pickwick had leisure to examine his costume and appearance. He was about the middle height, but the thinness of his body, and the length of his legs, gave him the appearance of being much taller. The green coat had been a smart dress garment in the days of swallow-tails, but had evidently in those times adorned a much shorter man than the stranger, for the soiled and faded sleeves scarcely reached to his wrists. It was buttoned closely up to his chin, at the imminent hazard of splitting the back; and an old stock, without a vestige of shirt collar, ornamented his neck. His scanty black trousers displayed here and there those shiny patches which bespeak long service, and were strapped very tightly over a pair of patched and mended shoes, as if to conceal the dirty white stockings, which were nevertheless distinctly visible. His long, black hair escaped in negligent waves from beneath each side of his old pinched-up hat; and glimpses of his bare wrists might be observed between the tops of his gloves and the cuffs of his coat sleeves. His face was thin and haggard; but an indescribable air of jaunty impudence and perfect self- possession pervaded the whole man. Such was the individual on whom Mr. Pickwick gazed through his spectacles (which he had fortunately recovered), and to whom he proceeded, when his friends had exhausted themselves, to return in chosen terms his warmest thanks for his recent assistance. Never mind, said the stranger, cutting the address very short, said enough--no more; smart chap that cabman--handled his fives well; but if Id been your friend in the green jemmy-- damn me--punch his head,--cod I would,--pigs whisper-- pieman too,--no gammon. This coherent speech was interrupted by the entrance of the Rochester coachman, to announce that the Commodore was on the point of starting. Commodore! said the stranger, starting up, my coach-- place booked,--one outside--leave you to pay for the brandy- and-water,--want change for a five,--bad silver--Brummagem buttons--wont do--no go--eh? and he shook his head most knowingly. Now it so happened that Mr. Pickwick and his three companions had resolved to make Rochester their first halting-place too; and having intimated to their new-found acquaintance that they were journeying to the same city, they agreed to occupy the seat at the back of the coach, where they could all sit together. Up with you, said the stranger, assisting Mr. Pickwick on to the roof with so much precipitation as to impair the gravity of that gentlemans deportment very materially. Any luggage, Sir? inquired the coachman. Who--I? Brown paper parcel here, thats all--other luggage gone by water--packing-cases, nailed up--big as houses-- heavy, heavy, damned heavy, replied the stranger, as he forced into his pocket as much as he could of the brown paper parcel, which presented most suspicious indications of containing one shirt and a handkerchief. Heads, heads--take care of your heads! cried the loquacious stranger, as they came out under the low archway, which in those days formed the entrance to the coach-yard. Terrible place-- dangerous work--other day--five children--mother--tall lady, eating sandwiches--forgot the arch--crash--knock--children look round--mothers head off--sandwich in her hand--no mouth to put it in--head of a family off--shocking, shocking! Looking at Whitehall, sir?--fine place--little window--somebody elses head off there, eh, sir?--he didnt keep a sharp look-out enough either--eh, Sir, eh? I am ruminating, said Mr. Pickwick, on the strange mutability of human affairs. Ah! I see--in at the palace door one day, out at the window the next. Philosopher, Sir? An observer of human nature, Sir, said Mr. Pickwick. Ah, so am I. Most people are when theyve little to do and less to get. Poet, Sir? My friend Mr. Snodgrass has a strong poetic turn, said Mr. Pickwick. So have I, said the stranger. Epic poem--ten thousand lines --revolution of July--composed it on the spot--Mars by day, Apollo by night--bang the field-piece, twang the lyre. You were present at that glorious scene, sir? said Mr. Snodgrass. Present! think I was;* fired a musket--fired with an idea-- rushed into wine shop--wrote it down--back again--whiz, bang --another idea--wine shop again--pen and ink--back again-- cut and slash--noble time, Sir. Sportsman, sir ?abruptly turning to Mr. Winkle.

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