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The Pickwick Papers 8







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The Pickwick Papers

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way downstairs announced the commencement of the first quadrille. How I should like to go, said Mr. Tupman again. So should I, said the stranger--confounded luggage,--heavy smacks--nothing to go in--odd, aint it? Now general benevolence was one of the leading features of the Pickwickian theory, and no one was more remarkable for the zealous manner in which he observed so noble a principle than Mr. Tracy Tupman. The number of instances recorded on the Transactions of the Society, in which that excellent man referred objects of charity to the houses of other members for left-off garments or pecuniary relief is almost incredible. I should be very happy to lend you a change of apparel for the purpose, said Mr. Tracy Tupman, but you are rather slim, and I am-- Rather fat--grown-up Bacchus--cut the leaves--dismounted from the tub, and adopted kersey, eh?--not double distilled, but double milled--ha! ha! pass the wine. Whether Mr. Tupman was somewhat indignant at the peremptory tone in which he was desired to pass the wine which the stranger passed so quickly away, or whether he felt very properly scandalised at an influential member of the Pickwick Club being ignominiously compared to a dismounted Bacchus, is a fact not yet completely ascertained. He passed the wine, coughed twice, and looked at the stranger for several seconds with a stern intensity; as that individual, however, appeared perfectly collected, and quite calm under his searching glance, he gradually relaxed, and reverted to the subject of the ball. I was about to observe, Sir, he said, that though my apparel would be too large, a suit of my friend Mr. Winkles would, perhaps, fit you better. The stranger took Mr. Winkles measure with his eye, and that feature glistened with satisfaction as he said, Just the thing. Mr. Tupman looked round him. The wine, which had exerted its somniferous influence over Mr. Snodgrass and Mr. Winkle, had stolen upon the senses of Mr. Pickwick. That gentleman had gradually passed through the various stages which precede the lethargy produced by dinner, and its consequences. He had undergone the ordinary transitions from the height of conviviality to the depth of misery, and from the depth of misery to the height of conviviality. Like a gas-lamp in the street, with the wind in the pipe, he had exhibited for a moment an unnatural brilliancy, then sank so low as to be scarcely discernible; after a short interval, he had burst out again, to enlighten for a moment; then flickered with an uncertain, staggering sort of light, and then gone out altogether. His head was sunk upon his bosom, and perpetual snoring, with a partial choke occasionally, were the only audible indications of the great mans presence. The temptation to be present at the ball, and to form his first impressions of the beauty of the Kentish ladies, was strong upon Mr. Tupman. The temptation to take the stranger with him was equally great. He was wholly unacquainted with the place and its inhabitants, and the stranger seemed to possess as great a knowledge of both as if he had lived there from his infancy. Mr. Winkle was asleep, and Mr. Tupman had had sufficient experience in such matters to know that the moment he awoke he would, in the ordinary course of nature, roll heavily to bed. He was undecided. Fill your glass, and pass the wine, said the indefatigable visitor. Mr. Tupman did as he was requested; and the additional stimulus of the last glass settled his determination. Winkles bedroom is inside mine, said Mr. Tupman; I couldnt make him understand what I wanted, if I woke him now, but I know he has a dress-suit in a carpet bag; and supposing you wore it to the ball, and took it off when we returned, I could replace it without troubling him at all about the matter. Capital, said the stranger, famous plan--damned odd situation--fourteen coats in the packing-cases, and obliged to wear another mans--very good notion, that--very. We must purchase our tickets, said Mr. Tupman. Not worth while splitting a guinea, said the stranger, toss who shall pay for both--I call; you spin--first time--woman-- woman--bewitching woman, and down came the sovereign with the dragon (called by courtesy a woman) uppermost. Mr. Tupman rang the bell, purchased the tickets, and ordered chamber candlesticks. In another quarter of an hour the stranger was completely arrayed in a full suit of Mr. Nathaniel Winkles. Its a new coat, said Mr. Tupman, as the stranger surveyed himself with great complacency in a cheval glass; the first thats been made with our club

The Pickwick Papers page 7        The Pickwick Papers page 9