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The Pickwick Papers 83







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The Pickwick Papers

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twenty committee-men. Amidst the cheers of the assembled throng, the band, and the constables, and the committee-men, and the voters, and the horsemen, and the carriages, took their places--each of the two- horse vehicles being closely packed with as many gentlemen as could manage to stand upright in it; and that assigned to Mr. Perker, containing Mr. Pickwick, Mr. Tupman, Mr. Snodgrass, and about half a dozen of the committee besides. There was a moment of awful suspense as the procession waited for the Honourable Samuel Slumkey to step into his carriage. Suddenly the crowd set up a great cheering. He has come out, said little Mr. Perker, greatly excited; the more so as their position did not enable them to see what was going forward. Another cheer, much louder. He has shaken hands with the men, cried the little agent. Another cheer, far more vehement. He has patted the babies on the head, said Mr. Perker, trembling with anxiety. A roar of applause that rent the air. He has kissed one of em! exclaimed the delighted little man. A second roar. He has kissed another, gasped the excited manager. A third roar. Hes kissing em all! screamed the enthusiastic little gentleman, and hailed by the deafening shouts of the multitude, the procession moved on. How or by what means it became mixed up with the other procession, and how it was ever extricated from the confusion consequent thereupon, is more than we can undertake to describe, inasmuch as Mr. Pickwicks hat was knocked over his eyes, nose, and mouth, by one poke of a Buff flag-staff, very early in the proceedings. He describes himself as being surrounded on every side, when he could catch a glimpse of the scene, by angry and ferocious countenances, by a vast cloud of dust, and by a dense crowd of combatants. He represents himself as being forced from the carriage by some unseen power, and being personally engaged in a pugilistic encounter; but with whom, or how, or why, he is wholly unable to state. He then felt himself forced up some wooden steps by the persons from behind; and on removing his hat, found himself surrounded by his friends, in the very front of the left hand side of the hustings. The right was reserved for the Buff party, and the centre for the mayor and his officers; one of whom--the fat crier of Eatanswill--was ringing an enormous bell, by way of commanding silence, while Mr. Horatio Fizkin, and the Honourable Samuel Slumkey, with their hands upon their hearts, were bowing with the utmost affability to the troubled sea of heads that inundated the open space in front; and from whence arose a storm of groans, and shouts, and yells, and hootings, that would have done honour to an earthquake. Theres Winkle, said Mr. Tupman, pulling his friend by the sleeve. Where! said Mr. Pickwick, putting on his spectacles, which he had fortunately kept in his pocket hitherto. There, said Mr. Tupman, on the top of that house. And there, sure enough, in the leaden gutter of a tiled roof, were Mr. Winkle and Mrs. Pott, comfortably seated in a couple of chairs, waving their handkerchiefs in token of recognition--a compliment which Mr. Pickwick returned by kissing his hand to the lady. The proceedings had not yet commenced; and as an inactive crowd is generally disposed to be jocose, this very innocent action was sufficient to awaken their facetiousness. Oh, you wicked old rascal, cried one voice, looking arter the girls, are you? Oh, you wenerable sinner, cried another. Putting on his spectacles to look at a married ooman! said a third. I see him a-winkin at her, with his wicked old eye, shouted a fourth. Look arter your wife, Pott, bellowed a fifth--and then there was a roar of laughter. As these taunts were accompanied with invidious comparisons between Mr. Pickwick and an aged ram, and several witticisms of the like nature; and as they moreover rather tended to convey reflections upon the honour of an innocent lady, Mr. Pickwicks indignation was excessive; but as silence was proclaimed at the moment, he contented himself by scorching the mob with a look of pity for their misguided minds, at which they laughed more boisterously than ever. Silence! roared the mayors attendants. Whiffin, proclaim silence, said the mayor, with an air of pomp befitting his lofty station. In obedience to this command the crier performed another concerto on the bell, whereupon a gentleman in the crowd called out Muffins; which occasioned another laugh. Gentlemen, said the mayor, at as loud a pitch as he could possibly force his voice to--gentlemen. Brother

The Pickwick Papers page 82        The Pickwick Papers page 84