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The Pickwick Papers 75







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The Pickwick Papers

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tears and a chorus of sobs. Bless my soul, cried the astonished Mr. Pickwick; Mrs. Bardell, my good woman--dear me, what a situation--pray consider.--Mrs. Bardell, dont--if anybody should come-- Oh, let them come, exclaimed Mrs. Bardell frantically; Ill never leave you --dear, kind, good soul; and, with these words, Mrs. Bardell clung the tighter. Mercy upon me, said Mr. Pickwick, struggling violently, I hear somebody coming up the stairs. Dont, dont, theres a good creature, dont. But entreaty and remonstrance were alike unavailing; for Mrs. Bardell had fainted in Mr. Pickwicks arms; and before he could gain time to deposit her on a chair, Master Bardell entered the room, ushering in Mr. Tupman, Mr. Winkle, and Mr. Snodgrass. Mr. Pickwick was struck motionless and speechless. He stood with his lovely burden in his arms, gazing vacantly on the countenances of his friends, without the slightest attempt at recognition or explanation. They, in their turn, stared at him; and Master Bardell, in his turn, stared at everybody. The astonishment of the Pickwickians was so absorbing, and the perplexity of Mr. Pickwick was so extreme, that they might have remained in exactly the same relative situations until the suspended animation of the lady was restored, had it not been for a most beautiful and touching expression of filial affection on the part of her youthful son. Clad in a tight suit of corduroy, spangled with brass buttons of a very considerable size, he at first stood at the door astounded and uncertain; but by degrees, the impression that his mother must have suffered some personal damage pervaded his partially developed mind, and considering Mr. Pickwick as the aggressor, he set up an appalling and semi- earthly kind of howling, and butting forward with his head, commenced assailing that immortal gentleman about the back and legs, with such blows and pinches as the strength of his arm, and the violence of his excitement, allowed. Take this little villain away, said the agonised Mr. Pickwick, hes mad. What is the matter? said the three tongue-tied Pickwickians. I dont know, replied Mr. Pickwick pettishly. Take away the boy. (Here Mr. Winkle carried the interesting boy, screaming and struggling, to the farther end of the apartment.) Now help me, lead this woman downstairs. Oh, I am better now, said Mrs. Bardell faintly. Let me lead you downstairs, said the ever-gallant Mr. Tupman. Thank you, sir--thank you; exclaimed Mrs. Bardell hysterically. And downstairs she was led accordingly, accompanied by her affectionate son. I cannot conceive, said Mr. Pickwick when his friend returned--I cannot conceive what has been the matter with that woman. I had merely announced to her my intention of keeping a man-servant, when she fell into the extraordinary paroxysm in which you found her. Very extraordinary thing. Very, said his three friends. Placed me in such an extremely awkward situation, continued Mr. Pickwick. Very, was the reply of his followers, as they coughed slightly, and looked dubiously at each other. This behaviour was not lost upon Mr. Pickwick. He remarked their incredulity. They evidently suspected him. There is a man in the passage now, said Mr. Tupman. Its the man I spoke to you about, said Mr. Pickwick; I sent for him to the Borough this morning. Have the goodness to call him up, Snodgrass. Mr. Snodgrass did as he was desired; and Mr. Samuel Weller forthwith presented himself. Oh--you remember me, I suppose? said Mr. Pickwick. I should think so, replied Sam, with a patronising wink. Queer start that ere, but he was one too many for you, warnt he? Up to snuff and a pinch or two over--eh? Never mind that matter now, said Mr. Pickwick hastily; I want to speak to you about something else. Sit down. Thankee, sir, said Sam. And down he sat without further bidding, having previously deposited his old white hat on the landing outside the door. Taint a wery good un to look at, said Sam, but its an astonishin un to wear; and afore the brim went, it was a wery handsome tile. Howsever its lighter without it, thats one thing, and every hole lets in some air, thats another --wentilation gossamer I calls it. On the delivery of this sentiment, Mr. Weller smiled agreeably upon the assembled Pickwickians. Now with regard to the matter on which I, with the concurrence of these gentlemen, sent for you, said Mr. Pickwick. Thats the pint, sir, interposed Sam; out vith it, as the father said to his child, when he swallowed a farden. We want to know, in the first place, said Mr.

The Pickwick Papers page 74        The Pickwick Papers page 76