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The Pickwick Papers 81







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The Pickwick Papers

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beating of drums, the blowing of horns and trumpets, the shouting of men, and tramping of horses, echoed and re--echoed through the streets from the earliest dawn of day; and an occasional fight between the light skirmishers of either party at once enlivened the preparations, and agreeably diversified their character. Well, Sam, said Mr. Pickwick, as his valet appeared at his bedroom door, just as he was concluding his toilet; all alive to-day, I suppose? Reglar game, sir, replied Mr. Weller; our peoples a-collecting down at the Town Arms, and theyre a-hollering themselves hoarse already. Ah, said Mr. Pickwick, do they seem devoted to their party, Sam? Never see such dewotion in my life, Sir. Energetic, eh? said Mr. Pickwick. Uncommon, replied Sam; I never see men eat and drink so much afore. I wonder they aint afeerd o bustin. Thats the mistaken kindness of the gentry here, said Mr. Pickwick. Wery likely, replied Sam briefly. Fine, fresh, hearty fellows they seem, said Mr. Pickwick, glancing from the window. Wery fresh, replied Sam; me and the two waiters at the Peacock has been a-pumpin over the independent woters as supped there last night. Pumping over independent voters! exclaimed Mr. Pickwick. Yes, said his attendant, every man slept vere he fell down; we dragged em out, one by one, this mornin, and put em under the pump, and theyre in reglar fine order now. Shillin a head the committee paid for that ere job. Can such things be! exclaimed the astonished Mr. Pickwick. Lord bless your heart, sir, said Sam, why where was you half baptised?--thats nothin, that aint. Nothing?said Mr. Pickwick. Nothin at all, Sir, replied his attendant. The night afore the last day o the last election here, the opposite party bribed the barmaid at the Town Arms, to hocus the brandy-and-water of fourteen unpolled electors as was a-stoppin in the house. What do you mean by "hocussing" brandy-and-water? inquired Mr. Pickwick. Puttin laudnum in it, replied Sam. Blessed if she didnt send em all to sleep till twelve hours arter the election was over. They took one man up to the booth, in a truck, fast asleep, by way of experiment, but it was no go--they wouldnt poll him; so they brought him back, and put him to bed again. Strange practices, these, said Mr. Pickwick; half speaking to himself and half addressing Sam. Not half so strange as a miraculous circumstance as happened to my own father, at an election time, in this wery place, Sir, replied Sam. What was that? inquired Mr. Pickwick. Why, he drove a coach down here once, said Sam; lection time came on, and he was engaged by vun party to bring down woters from London. Night afore he was going to drive up, committee on t other side sends for him quietly, and away he goes vith the messenger, who shows him in;--large room--lots of genlmn--heaps of papers, pens and ink, and all that ere. "Ah, Mr. Weller," says the genlmn in the chair, "glad to see you, sir; how are you?"--"Wery well, thank ee, Sir," says my father; "I hope youre pretty middlin," says he.--"Pretty well, thankee, Sir," says the genlmn; "sit down, Mr. Weller--pray sit down, sir." So my father sits down, and he and the genlmn looks wery hard at each other. "You dont remember me?" said the genlmn.--"Cant say I do," says my father.--"Oh, I know you," says the genlmn: "knowd you when you was a boy," says he.--"Well, I dont remember you," says my father.-- "Thats wery odd," says the genlmn."--"Wery," says my father.--"You must have a bad memry, Mr. Weller," says the genlmn.--"Well, it is a wery bad un," says my father.--"I thought so," says the genlmn. So then they pours him out a glass of wine, and gammons him about his driving, and gets him into a reglar good humour, and at last shoves a twenty-pound note into his hand. "Its a wery bad road between this and London," says the genlmn.--"Here and there it is a heavy road," says my father.--" Specially near the canal, I think," says the genlmn.--"Nasty bit that ere," says my father.-- "Well, Mr. Weller," says the genlmn, "youre a wery good whip, and can do what you like with your horses, we know. Were all wery fond o you, Mr. Weller, so in case you should have an accident when youre bringing these here woters down, and should tip em over into the canal vithout hurtin of em, this is for yourself," says he.--"Genlmn, youre wery kind," says my father, "and Ill drink your health in another glass of wine,"

The Pickwick Papers page 80        The Pickwick Papers page 82