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The Pickwick Papers 60







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The Pickwick Papers

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his little inquisitive nose, as if they were playing a perpetual game of peep-bo with that feature. He was dressed all in black, with boots as shiny as his eyes, a low white neckcloth, and a clean shirt with a frill to it. A gold watch-chain, and seals, depended from his fob. He carried his black kid gloves IN his hands, and not ON them; and as he spoke, thrust his wrists beneath his coat tails, with the air of a man who was in the habit of propounding some regular posers. Pretty busy, eh? said the little man. Oh, wery well, Sir, replied Sam, we shant be bankrupts, and we shant make our fortns. We eats our biled mutton without capers, and dont care for horse-radish ven ve can get beef. Ah, said the little man, youre a wag, aint you? My eldest brother was troubled with that complaint, said Sam; it may be catching--I used to sleep with him. This is a curious old house of yours, said the little man, looking round him. If youd sent word you was a-coming, wed ha had it repaired; replied the imperturbable Sam. The little man seemed rather baffled by these several repulses, and a short consultation took place between him and the two plump gentlemen. At its conclusion, the little man took a pinch of snuff from an oblong silver box, and was apparently on the point of renewing the conversation, when one of the plump gentlemen, who in addition to a benevolent countenance, possessed a pair of spectacles, and a pair of black gaiters, interfered-- The fact of the matter is, said the benevolent gentleman, that my friend here (pointing to the other plump gentleman) will give you half a guinea, if youll answer one or two-- Now, my dear sir--my dear Sir, said the little man, pray, allow me--my dear Sir, the very first principle to be observed in these cases, is this: if you place the matter in the hands of a professional man, you must in no way interfere in the progress of the business; you must repose implicit confidence in him. Really, Mr.-- He turned to the other plump gentleman, and said, I forget your friends name. Pickwick, said Mr. Wardle, for it was no other than that jolly personage. Ah, Pickwick--really Mr. Pickwick, my dear Sir, excuse me-- I shall be happy to receive any private suggestions of yours, as AMICUS CURIAE, but you must see the impropriety of your interfering with my conduct in this case, with such an AD CAPTANDUM argument as the offer of half a guinea. Really, my dear Sir, really; and the little man took an argumentative pinch of snuff, and looked very profound. My only wish, Sir, said Mr. Pickwick, was to bring this very unpleasant matter to as speedy a close as possible. Quite right--quite right, said the little man. With which view, continued Mr. Pickwick, I made use of the argument which my experience of men has taught me is the most likely to succeed in any case. Ay, ay, said the little man, very good, very good, indeed; but you should have suggested it to me. My dear sir, Im quite certain you cannot be ignorant of the extent of confidence which must be placed in professional men. If any authority can be necessary on such a point, my dear sir, let me refer you to the well-known case in Barnwell and-- Never mind George Barnwell, interrupted Sam, who had remained a wondering listener during this short colloquy; everybody knows what sort of a case his was, tho its always been my opinion, mind you, that the young ooman deserved scragging a precious sight more than he did. Howsever, thats neither here nor there. You want me to accept of half a guinea. Wery well, Im agreeable: I cant say no fairer than that, can I, sir? (Mr. Pickwick smiled.) Then the next question is, what the devil do you want with me, as the man said, wen he see the ghost? We want to know-- said Mr. Wardle. Now, my dear sir--my dear sir, interposed the busy little man. Mr. Wardle shrugged his shoulders, and was silent. We want to know, said the little man solemnly; and we ask the question of you, in order that we may not awaken apprehensions inside--we want to know who youve got in this house at present? Who there is in the house! said Sam, in whose mind the inmates were always represented by that particular article of their costume, which

The Pickwick Papers page 59        The Pickwick Papers page 61