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The Pickwick Papers 91







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drop since his last birthday, but when his eye encountered that of the old gentleman he looked so knowing that Tom blushed, and was silent. "Tom," said the old gentleman, "the widows a fine woman-- remarkably fine woman--eh, Tom?" Here the old fellow screwed up his eyes, cocked up one of his wasted little legs, and looked altogether so unpleasantly amorous, that Tom was quite disgusted with the levity of his behaviour--at his time of life, too! "I am her guardian, Tom," said the old gentleman. "Are you?" inquired Tom Smart. "I knew her mother, Tom," said the old fellow: "and her grandmother. She was very fond of me--made me this waistcoat, Tom." "Did she?" said Tom Smart. "And these shoes," said the old fellow, lifting up one of the red cloth mufflers; "but dont mention it, Tom. I shouldnt like to have it known that she was so much attached to me. It might occasion some unpleasantness in the family." When the old rascal said this, he looked so extremely impertinent, that, as Tom Smart afterwards declared, he could have sat upon him without remorse. "I have been a great favourite among the women in my time, Tom," said the profligate old debauchee; "hundreds of fine women have sat in my lap for hours together. What do you think of that, you dog, eh!" The old gentleman was proceeding to recount some other exploits of his youth, when he was seized with such a violent fit of creaking that he was unable to proceed. "Just serves you right, old boy," thought Tom Smart; but he didnt say anything. "Ah!" said the old fellow, "I am a good deal troubled with this now. I am getting old, Tom, and have lost nearly all my rails. I have had an operation performed, too--a small piece let into my back--and I found it a severe trial, Tom." "I dare say you did, Sir," said Tom Smart. "However," said the old gentleman, "thats not the point. Tom! I want you to marry the widow." "Me, Sir!" said Tom. "You," said the old gentleman. "Bless your reverend locks," said Tom (he had a few scattered horse-hairs left)--"bless your reverend locks, she wouldnt have me." And Tom sighed involuntarily, as he thought of the bar. "Wouldnt she?" said the old gentleman firmly. "No, no," said Tom; "theres somebody else in the wind. A tall man--a confoundedly tall man--with black whiskers." "Tom," said the old gentleman; "she will never have him." "Wont she?" said Tom. "If you stood in the bar, old gentleman, youd tell another story." "Pooh, pooh," said the old gentleman. "I know all about that. " "About what?" said Tom. "The kissing behind the door, and all that sort of thing, Tom," said the old gentleman. And here he gave another impudent look, which made Tom very wroth, because as you all know, gentlemen, to hear an old fellow, who ought to know better, talking about these things, is very unpleasant--nothing more so. "I know all about that, Tom," said the old gentleman. "I have seen it done very often in my time, Tom, between more people than I should like to mention to you; but it never came to anything after all." "You must have seen some queer things," said Tom, with an inquisitive look. "You may say that, Tom," replied the old fellow, with a very complicated wink. "I am the last of my family, Tom," said the old gentleman, with a melancholy sigh. "Was it a large one?" inquired Tom Smart. "There were twelve of us, Tom," said the old gentleman; "fine, straight-backed, handsome fellows as youd wish to see. None of your modern abortions--all with arms, and with a degree of polish, though I say it that should not, which it would have done your heart good to behold." "And whats become of the others, Sir?" asked Tom Smart-- The old gentleman applied his elbow to his eye as he replied, "Gone, Tom, gone. We had hard service, Tom, and they hadnt all my constitution. They got rheumatic about the legs and arms, and went into kitchens and other hospitals; and one of em, with long service and hard usage, positively lost his senses--he got so crazy that he was obliged to be burnt. Shocking thing that, Tom." "Dreadful!" said Tom Smart. The old fellow paused for a few minutes, apparently struggling with his feelings of emotion, and then said-- "However, Tom, I am wandering from the point. This tall man, Tom, is a rascally adventurer. The moment he married

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