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The Pickwick Papers 9







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Martin Eden

The Pickwick Papers

The Sea Wolf




button, and he called his companions attention to the large gilt button which displayed a bust of Mr. Pickwick in the centre, and the letters P. C. on either side. "P. C." said the stranger--queer set out--old fellows likeness, and "P. C."--What does "P. C." stand for--Peculiar Coat, eh? Mr. Tupman, with rising indignation and great importance, explained the mystic device. Rather short in the waist, aint it? said the stranger, screwing himself round to catch a glimpse in the glass of the waist buttons, which were half-way up his back. Like a general postmans coat --queer coats those--made by contract--no measuring-- mysterious dispensations of Providence--all the short men get long coats--all the long men short ones. Running on in this way, Mr. Tupmans new companion adjusted his dress, or rather the dress of Mr. Winkle; and, accompanied by Mr. Tupman, ascended the staircase leading to the ballroom. What names, sir? said the man at the door. Mr. Tracy Tupman was stepping forward to announce his own titles, when the stranger prevented him. No names at all; and then he whispered Mr. Tupman, names wont do--not known--very good names in their way, but not great ones--capital names for a small party, but wont make an impression in public assemblies--incog. the thing-- gentlemen from London--distinguished foreigners--anything. The door was thrown open, and Mr. Tracy Tupman and the stranger entered the ballroom. It was a long room, with crimson-covered benches, and wax candles in glass chandeliers. The musicians were securely confined in an elevated den, and quadrilles were being systematically got through by two or three sets of dancers. Two card-tables were made up in the adjoining card-room, and two pair of old ladies, and a corresponding number of stout gentlemen, were executing whist therein. The finale concluded, the dancers promenaded the room, and Mr. Tupman and his companion stationed themselves in a corner to observe the company. Charming women, said Mr. Tupman. Wait a minute, said the stranger, fun presently--nobs not come yet--queer place--dockyard people of upper rank dont know dockyard people of lower rank--dockyard people of lower rank dont know small gentry--small gentry dont know tradespeople--commissioner dont know anybody. Whos that little boy with the light hair and pink eyes, in a fancy dress?inquired Mr. Tupman. Hush, pray--pink eyes--fancy dress--little boy--nonsense-- ensign 97th--Honourable Wilmot Snipe--great family--Snipes--very. Sir Thomas Clubber, Lady Clubber, and the Misses Clubber! shouted the man at the door in a stentorian voice. A great sensation was created throughout the room by the entrance of a tall gentleman in a blue coat and bright buttons, a large lady in blue satin, and two young ladies, on a similar scale, in fashionably- made dresses of the same hue. Commissioner--head of the yard--great man--remarkably great man, whispered the stranger in Mr. Tupmans ear, as the charitable committee ushered Sir Thomas Clubber and family to the top of the room. The Honourable Wilmot Snipe, and other distinguished gentlemen crowded to render homage to the Misses Clubber; and Sir Thomas Clubber stood bolt upright, and looked majestically over his black kerchief at the assembled company. Mr. Smithie, Mrs. Smithie, and the Misses Smithie, was the next announcement. Whats Mr. Smithie? inquired Mr. Tracy Tupman. Something in the yard, replied the stranger. Mr. Smithie bowed deferentially to Sir Thomas Clubber; and Sir Thomas Clubber acknowledged the salute with conscious condescension. Lady Clubber took a telescopic view of Mrs. Smithie and family through her eye-glass and Mrs. Smithie stared in her turn at Mrs. Somebody-else, whose husband was not in the dockyard at all. Colonel Bulder, Mrs. Colonel Bulder, and Miss Bulder, were the next arrivals. Head of the garrison, said the stranger, in reply to Mr. Tupmans inquiring look. Miss Bulder was warmly welcomed by the Misses Clubber; the greeting between Mrs. Colonel Bulder and Lady Clubber was of the most affectionate description; Colonel Bulder and Sir Thomas Clubber exchanged snuff-boxes, and looked very much like a pair of Alexander Selkirks--Monarchs of all they surveyed. While the aristocracy of the place--the Bulders, and Clubbers, and Snipes--were thus preserving their dignity at the upper end of the room, the other classes of society were imitating their example in other parts of it. The less aristocratic officers of the 97th devoted themselves to the families of the less important functionaries from the dockyard. The solicitors wives, and the wine-merchants wife, headed another grade (the brewers wife visited the Bulders); and Mrs. Tomlinson, the post-office keeper, seemed by mutual consent to have been chosen the leader of the trade party. One of the most popular personages, in his own circle, present, was a little fat man, with a ring of upright black hair round

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