Part 8 out of 20
child; that thenceforth to the last moment of his life, his whole
energies should be directed to this one object; that his revenge
should be protracted and terrible; that his hatred should be
undying and inextinguishable; and should hunt its object through
'The deepest despair, and passion scarcely human, had made
such fierce ravages on his face and form, in that one night, that
his companions in misfortune shrank affrighted from him as he
passed by. His eyes were bloodshot and heavy, his face a deadly
white, and his body bent as if with age. He had bitten his under
lip nearly through in the violence of his mental suffering, and the
blood which had flowed from the wound had trickled down his
chin, and stained his shirt and neckerchief. No tear, or sound of
complaint escaped him; but the unsettled look, and disordered
haste with which he paced up and down the yard, denoted the
fever which was burning within.
'It was necessary that his wife's body should be removed from
the prison, without delay. He received the communication with
perfect calmness, and acquiesced in its propriety. Nearly all the
inmates of the prison had assembled to witness its removal; they
fell back on either side when the widower appeared; he walked
hurriedly forward, and stationed himself, alone, in a little railed
area close to the lodge gate, from whence the crowd, with an
instinctive feeling of delicacy, had retired. The rude coffin was
borne slowly forward on men's shoulders. A dead silence pervaded
the throng, broken only by the audible lamentations of the
women, and the shuffling steps of the bearers on the stone pavement.
They reached the spot where the bereaved husband stood:
and stopped. He laid his hand upon the coffin, and mechanically
adjusting the pall with which it was covered, motioned them
onward. The turnkeys in the prison lobby took off their hats as it
passed through, and in another moment the heavy gate closed
behind it. He looked vacantly upon the crowd, and fell heavily to
'Although for many weeks after this, he was watched, night
and day, in the wildest ravings of fever, neither the consciousness
of his loss, nor the recollection of the vow he had made, ever left
him for a moment. Scenes changed before his eyes, place succeeded
place, and event followed event, in all the hurry of
delirium; but they were all connected in some way with the great
object of his mind. He was sailing over a boundless expanse of
sea, with a blood-red sky above, and the angry waters, lashed
into fury beneath, boiling and eddying up, on every side. There
was another vessel before them, toiling and labouring in the
howling storm; her canvas fluttering in ribbons from the mast,
and her deck thronged with figures who were lashed to the sides,
over which huge waves every instant burst, sweeping away some
devoted creatures into the foaming sea. Onward they bore,
amidst the roaring mass of water, with a speed and force which
nothing could resist; and striking the stem of the foremost
vessel, crushed her beneath their keel. From the huge whirlpool
which the sinking wreck occasioned, arose a shriek so loud and
shrill--the death-cry of a hundred drowning creatures, blended
into one fierce yell--that it rung far above the war-cry of the
elements, and echoed, and re-echoed till it seemed to pierce air,
sky, and ocean. But what was that--that old gray head that rose
above the water's surface, and with looks of agony, and screams
for aid, buffeted with the waves! One look, and he had sprung
from the vessel's side, and with vigorous strokes was swimming
towards it. He reached it; he was close upon it. They were HIS
features. The old man saw him coming, and vainly strove to
elude his grasp. But he clasped him tight, and dragged him beneath
the water. Down, down with him, fifty fathoms down; his
struggles grew fainter and fainter, until they wholly ceased. He
was dead; he had killed him, and had kept his oath.
'He was traversing the scorching sands of a mighty desert,
barefoot and alone. The sand choked and blinded him; its fine
thin grains entered the very pores of his skin, and irritated him
almost to madness. Gigantic masses of the same material, carried
forward by the wind, and shone through by the burning sun,
stalked in the distance like pillars of living fire. The bones of
men, who had perished in the dreary waste, lay scattered at his
feet; a fearful light fell on everything around; so far as the eye could
reach, nothing but objects of dread and horror presented themselves.
Vainly striving to utter a cry of terror, with his tongue
cleaving to his mouth, he rushed madly forward. Armed with
supernatural strength, he waded through the sand, until,
exhausted with fatigue and thirst, he fell senseless on the earth.
What fragrant coolness revived him; what gushing sound was
that? Water! It was indeed a well; and the clear fresh stream was
running at his feet. He drank deeply of it, and throwing his
aching limbs upon the bank, sank into a delicious trance. The
sound of approaching footsteps roused him. An old gray-headed
man tottered forward to slake his burning thirst. It was HE again!
Fe wound his arms round the old man's body, and held him back.
He struggled, and shrieked for water--for but one drop of water
to save his life! But he held the old man firmly, and watched his
agonies with greedy eyes; and when his lifeless head fell forward
on his bosom, he rolled the corpse from him with his feet.
'When the fever left him, and consciousness returned, he
awoke to find himself rich and free, to hear that the parent who
would have let him die in jail--WOULD! who HAD let those who
were far dearer to him than his own existence die of want, and
sickness of heart that medicine cannot cure--had been found
dead in his bed of down. He had had all the heart to leave his son
a beggar, but proud even of his health and strength, had put off
the act till it was too late, and now might gnash his teeth in the
other world, at the thought of the wealth his remissness had left
him. He awoke to this, and he awoke to more. To recollect the
purpose for which he lived, and to remember that his enemy was
his wife's own father--the man who had cast him into prison,
and who, when his daughter and her child sued at his feet for
mercy, had spurned them from his door. Oh, how he cursed the
weakness that prevented him from being up, and active, in his
scheme of vengeance!
'He caused himself to be carried from the scene of his loss and
misery, and conveyed to a quiet residence on the sea-coast; not
in the hope of recovering his peace of mind or happiness, for
both were fled for ever; but to restore his prostrate energies, and
meditate on his darling object. And here, some evil spirit cast in
his way the opportunity for his first, most horrible revenge.
'It was summer-time; and wrapped in his gloomy thoughts, he
would issue from his solitary lodgings early in the evening, and
wandering along a narrow path beneath the cliffs, to a wild and
lonely spot that had struck his fancy in his ramblings, seat himself
on some fallen fragment of the rock, and burying his face in his
hands, remain there for hours--sometimes until night had completely
closed in, and the long shadows of the frowning cliffs
above his head cast a thick, black darkness on every object near him.
'He was seated here, one calm evening, in his old position, now
and then raising his head to watch the flight of a sea-gull, or
carry his eye along the glorious crimson path, which, commencing
in the middle of the ocean, seemed to lead to its very verge where
the sun was setting, when the profound stillness of the spot was
broken by a loud cry for help; he listened, doubtful of his having
heard aright, when the cry was repeated with even greater
vehemence than before, and, starting to his feet, he hastened in
the direction whence it proceeded.
'The tale told itself at once: some scattered garments lay on
the beach; a human head was just visible above the waves at a
little distance from the shore; and an old man, wringing his
hands in agony, was running to and fro, shrieking for assistance.
The invalid, whose strength was now sufficiently restored, threw
off his coat, and rushed towards the sea, with the intention of
plunging in, and dragging the drowning man ashore.
'"Hasten here, Sir, in God's name; help, help, sir, for the love
of Heaven. He is my son, Sir, my only son!" said the old man
frantically, as he advanced to meet him. "My only son, Sir, and
he is dying before his father's eyes!"
'At the first word the old man uttered, the stranger checked
himself in his career, and, folding his arms, stood perfectly motionless.
'"Great God!" exclaimed the old man, recoiling, "Heyling!"
'The stranger smiled, and was silent.
'"Heyling!" said the old man wildly; "my boy, Heyling, my
dear boy, look, look!" Gasping for breath, the miserable father
pointed to the spot where the young man was struggling for life.
'"Hark!" said the old man. "He cries once more. He is alive
yet. Heyling, save him, save him!"
'The stranger smiled again, and remained immovable as a statue.
'"I have wronged you," shrieked the old man, falling on his
knees, and clasping his hands together. "Be revenged; take my all,
my life; cast me into the water at your feet, and, if human nature
can repress a struggle, I will die, without stirring hand or foot.
Do it, Heyling, do it, but save my boy; he is so young, Heyling,
so young to die!"
'"Listen," said the stranger, grasping the old man fiercely by
the wrist; "I will have life for life, and here is ONE. MY child died,
before his father's eyes, a far more agonising and painful death
than that young slanderer of his sister's worth is meeting while I
speak. You laughed--laughed in your daughter's face, where
death had already set his hand--at our sufferings, then. What
think you of them now! See there, see there!"
'As the stranger spoke, he pointed to the sea. A faint cry died
away upon its surface; the last powerful struggle of the dying
man agitated the rippling waves for a few seconds; and the spot
where he had gone down into his early grave, was undistinguishable
from the surrounding water.
'Three years had elapsed, when a gentleman alighted from a
private carriage at the door of a London attorney, then well
known as a man of no great nicety in his professional dealings,
and requested a private interview on business of importance.
Although evidently not past the prime of life, his face was pale,
haggard, and dejected; and it did not require the acute perception
of the man of business, to discern at a glance, that disease or
suffering had done more to work a change in his appearance,
than the mere hand of time could have accomplished in twice the
period of his whole life.
'"I wish you to undertake some legal business for me," said
'The attorney bowed obsequiously, and glanced at a large
packet which the gentleman carried in his hand. His visitor
observed the look, and proceeded.
'"It is no common business," said he; "nor have these papers
reached my hands without long trouble and great expense."
'The attorney cast a still more anxious look at the packet; and
his visitor, untying the string that bound it, disclosed a quantity
of promissory notes, with copies of deeds, and other documents.
'"Upon these papers," said the client, "the man whose name
they bear, has raised, as you will see, large sums of money, for
years past. There was a tacit understanding between him and the
men into whose hands they originally went--and from whom I
have by degrees purchased the whole, for treble and quadruple
their nominal value--that these loans should be from time to
time renewed, until a given period had elapsed. Such an
understanding is nowhere expressed. He has sustained many losses of
late; and these obligations accumulating upon him at once,
would crush him to the earth."
'"The whole amount is many thousands of pounds," said the
attorney, looking over the papers.
'"It is," said the client.
'"What are we to do?" inquired the man of business.
'"Do!" replied the client, with sudden vehemence. "Put every
engine of the law in force, every trick that ingenuity can devise
and rascality execute; fair means and foul; the open oppression
of the law, aided by all the craft of its most ingenious practitioners.
I would have him die a harassing and lingering death. Ruin
him, seize and sell his lands and goods, drive him from house and
home, and drag him forth a beggar in his old age, to die in a
'"But the costs, my dear Sir, the costs of all this," reasoned the
attorney, when he had recovered from his momentary surprise.
"If the defendant be a man of straw, who is to pay the costs, Sir?"
'"Name any sum," said the stranger, his hand trembling
so violently with excitement, that he could scarcely hold the
pen he seized as he spoke--"any sum, and it is yours. Don't be
afraid to name it, man. I shall not think it dear, if you gain
'The attorney named a large sum, at hazard, as the advance he
should require to secure himself against the possibility of loss;
but more with the view of ascertaining how far his client was
really disposed to go, than with any idea that he would comply
with the demand. The stranger wrote a cheque upon his banker,
for the whole amount, and left him.
'The draft was duly honoured, and the attorney, finding that
his strange client might be safely relied upon, commenced his
work in earnest. For more than two years afterwards, Mr.
Heyling would sit whole days together, in the office, poring over
the papers as they accumulated, and reading again and again, his
eyes gleaming with joy, the letters of remonstrance, the prayers
for a little delay, the representations of the certain ruin in which
the opposite party must be involved, which poured in, as suit after
suit, and process after process, was commenced. To all applications
for a brief indulgence, there was but one reply--the money
must be paid. Land, house, furniture, each in its turn, was taken
under some one of the numerous executions which were issued;
and the old man himself would have been immured in prison had
he not escaped the vigilance of the officers, and fled.
'The implacable animosity of Heyling, so far from being satiated
by the success of his persecution, increased a hundredfold with
the ruin he inflicted. On being informed of the old man's flight,
his fury was unbounded. He gnashed his teeth with rage, tore the
hair from his head, and assailed with horrid imprecations the
men who had been intrusted with the writ. He was only restored
to comparative calmness by repeated assurances of the certainty
of discovering the fugitive. Agents were sent in quest of him, in
all directions; every stratagem that could be invented was
resorted to, for the purpose of discovering his place of retreat;
but it was all in vain. Half a year had passed over, and he was
'At length late one night, Heyling, of whom nothing had been
seen for many weeks before, appeared at his attorney's private
residence, and sent up word that a gentleman wished to see him
instantly. Before the attorney, who had recognised his voice from
above stairs, could order the servant to admit him, he had rushed
up the staircase, and entered the drawing-room pale and breathless.
Having closed the door, to prevent being overheard, he sank
into a chair, and said, in a low voice--
'"Hush! I have found him at last."
'"No!" said the attorney. "Well done, my dear sir, well done."
'"He lies concealed in a wretched lodging in Camden Town,"
said Heyling. "Perhaps it is as well we DID lose sight of him, for he
has been living alone there, in the most abject misery, all the
time, and he is poor--very poor."
'"Very good," said the attorney. "You will have the caption
made to-morrow, of course?"
'"Yes," replied Heyling. "Stay! No! The next day. You are
surprised at my wishing to postpone it," he added, with a ghastly
smile; "but I had forgotten. The next day is an anniversary in his
life: let it be done then."
'"Very good," said the attorney. "Will you write down
instructions for the officer?"
'"No; let him meet me here, at eight in the evening, and I will
accompany him myself."
'They met on the appointed night, and, hiring a hackney-
coach, directed the driver to stop at that corner of the old
Pancras Road, at which stands the parish workhouse. By the
time they alighted there, it was quite dark; and, proceeding by
the dead wall in front of the Veterinary Hospital, they entered a
small by-street, which is, or was at that time, called Little College
Street, and which, whatever it may be now, was in those days a
desolate place enough, surrounded by little else than fields and ditches.
'Having drawn the travelling-cap he had on half over his face,
and muffled himself in his cloak, Heyling stopped before the
meanest-looking house in the street, and knocked gently at the
door. It was at once opened by a woman, who dropped a curtsey
of recognition, and Heyling, whispering the officer to remain
below, crept gently upstairs, and, opening the door of the front
room, entered at once.
'The object of his search and his unrelenting animosity, now a
decrepit old man, was seated at a bare deal table, on which stood
a miserable candle. He started on the entrance of the stranger,
and rose feebly to his feet.
'"What now, what now?" said the old man. "What fresh
misery is this? What do you want here?"
'"A word with YOU," replied Heyling. As he spoke, he seated
himself at the other end of the table, and, throwing off his cloak
and cap, disclosed his features.
'The old man seemed instantly deprived of speech. He fell
backward in his chair, and, clasping his hands together, gazed on
the apparition with a mingled look of abhorrence and fear.
'"This day six years," said Heyling, "I claimed the life you
owed me for my child's. Beside the lifeless form of your daughter,
old man, I swore to live a life of revenge. I have never swerved
from my purpose for a moment's space; but if I had, one thought
of her uncomplaining, suffering look, as she drooped away, or of
the starving face of our innocent child, would have nerved me to
my task. My first act of requital you well remember: this is my
'The old man shivered, and his hands dropped powerless by
'"I leave England to-morrow," said Heyling, after a moment's
pause. "To-night I consign you to the living death to which you
devoted her--a hopeless prison--"
'He raised his eyes to the old man's countenance, and paused.
He lifted the light to his face, set it gently down, and left the
'"You had better see to the old man," he said to the woman, as
he opened the door, and motioned the officer to follow him into
the street. "I think he is ill." The woman closed the door, ran
hastily upstairs, and found him lifeless.
'Beneath a plain gravestone, in one of the most peaceful and
secluded churchyards in Kent, where wild flowers mingle with
the grass, and the soft landscape around forms the fairest spot in
the garden of England, lie the bones of the young mother and her
gentle child. But the ashes of the father do not mingle with theirs;
nor, from that night forward, did the attorney ever gain the
remotest clue to the subsequent history of his queer client.'
As the old man concluded his tale, he advanced to a peg in one
corner, and taking down his hat and coat, put them on with
great deliberation; and, without saying another word, walked
slowly away. As the gentleman with the Mosaic studs had fallen
asleep, and the major part of the company were deeply occupied
in the humorous process of dropping melted tallow-grease into
his brandy-and-water, Mr. Pickwick departed unnoticed, and
having settled his own score, and that of Mr. Weller, issued forth,
in company with that gentleman, from beneath the portal of the
Magpie and Stump.
Mr. PICKWICK JOURNEYS TO IPSWICH AND MEETS WITH
A ROMANTIC ADVENTURE WITH A MIDDLE-AGED LADY
IN YELLOW CURL-PAPERS
'That 'ere your governor's luggage, Sammy?' inquired Mr. Weller of
his affectionate son, as he entered the yard of the Bull Inn,
Whitechapel, with a travelling-bag and a small portmanteau.
'You might ha' made a worser guess than that, old feller,'
replied Mr. Weller the younger, setting down his burden in the
yard, and sitting himself down upon it afterwards. 'The governor
hisself'll be down here presently.'
'He's a-cabbin' it, I suppose?' said the father.
'Yes, he's a havin' two mile o' danger at eight-pence,' responded
the son. 'How's mother-in-law this mornin'?'
'Queer, Sammy, queer,' replied the elder Mr. Weller, with
impressive gravity. 'She's been gettin' rayther in the Methodistical
order lately, Sammy; and she is uncommon pious, to be sure.
She's too good a creetur for me, Sammy. I feel I don't deserve her.'
'Ah,' said Mr. Samuel. 'that's wery self-denyin' o' you.'
'Wery,' replied his parent, with a sigh. 'She's got hold o' some
inwention for grown-up people being born again, Sammy--the
new birth, I think they calls it. I should wery much like to see that
system in haction, Sammy. I should wery much like to see your
mother-in-law born again. Wouldn't I put her out to nurse!'
'What do you think them women does t'other day,' continued
Mr. Weller, after a short pause, during which he had significantly
struck the side of his nose with his forefinger some half-dozen
times. 'What do you think they does, t'other day, Sammy?'
'Don't know,' replied Sam, 'what?'
'Goes and gets up a grand tea drinkin' for a feller they calls
their shepherd,' said Mr. Weller. 'I was a-standing starin' in at
the pictur shop down at our place, when I sees a little bill about
it; "tickets half-a-crown. All applications to be made to the
committee. Secretary, Mrs. Weller"; and when I got home there
was the committee a-sittin' in our back parlour. Fourteen women;
I wish you could ha' heard 'em, Sammy. There they was,
a-passin' resolutions, and wotin' supplies, and all sorts o' games.
Well, what with your mother-in-law a-worrying me to go, and
what with my looking for'ard to seein' some queer starts if I did,
I put my name down for a ticket; at six o'clock on the Friday
evenin' I dresses myself out wery smart, and off I goes with the
old 'ooman, and up we walks into a fust-floor where there was
tea-things for thirty, and a whole lot o' women as begins
whisperin' to one another, and lookin' at me, as if they'd never
seen a rayther stout gen'l'm'n of eight-and-fifty afore. By and by,
there comes a great bustle downstairs, and a lanky chap with a
red nose and a white neckcloth rushes up, and sings out, "Here's
the shepherd a-coming to wisit his faithful flock;" and in comes
a fat chap in black, vith a great white face, a-smilin' avay like
clockwork. Such goin's on, Sammy! "The kiss of peace," says the
shepherd; and then he kissed the women all round, and ven he'd
done, the man vith the red nose began. I was just a-thinkin'
whether I hadn't better begin too--'specially as there was a wery
nice lady a-sittin' next me--ven in comes the tea, and your
mother-in-law, as had been makin' the kettle bile downstairs. At
it they went, tooth and nail. Such a precious loud hymn, Sammy,
while the tea was a brewing; such a grace, such eatin' and
drinkin'! I wish you could ha' seen the shepherd walkin' into the
ham and muffins. I never see such a chap to eat and drink--
never. The red-nosed man warn't by no means the sort of person
you'd like to grub by contract, but he was nothin' to the shepherd.
Well; arter the tea was over, they sang another hymn, and
then the shepherd began to preach: and wery well he did it,
considerin' how heavy them muffins must have lied on his chest.
Presently he pulls up, all of a sudden, and hollers out, "Where is
the sinner; where is the mis'rable sinner?" Upon which, all the
women looked at me, and began to groan as if they was a-dying.
I thought it was rather sing'ler, but howsoever, I says nothing.
Presently he pulls up again, and lookin' wery hard at me, says,
"Where is the sinner; where is the mis'rable sinner?" and all the
women groans again, ten times louder than afore. I got rather
savage at this, so I takes a step or two for'ard and says, "My
friend," says I, "did you apply that 'ere obserwation to me?"
'Stead of beggin' my pardon as any gen'l'm'n would ha' done,
he got more abusive than ever:--called me a wessel, Sammy--a
wessel of wrath--and all sorts o' names. So my blood being
reg'larly up, I first gave him two or three for himself, and then
two or three more to hand over to the man with the red nose,
and walked off. I wish you could ha' heard how the women
screamed, Sammy, ven they picked up the shepherd from underneath
the table--Hollo! here's the governor, the size of life.'
As Mr. Weller spoke, Mr. Pickwick dismounted from a cab,
and entered the yard.
'Fine mornin', Sir,' said Mr. Weller, senior.
'Beautiful indeed,' replied Mr. Pickwick.
'Beautiful indeed,' echoes a red-haired man with an inquisitive
nose and green spectacles, who had unpacked himself from a cab
at the same moment as Mr. Pickwick. 'Going to Ipswich, Sir?'
'I am,' replied Mr. Pickwick.
'Extraordinary coincidence. So am I.'
Mr. Pickwick bowed.
'Going outside?' said the red-haired man.
Mr. Pickwick bowed again.
'Bless my soul, how remarkable--I am going outside, too,' said
the red-haired man; 'we are positively going together.' And the
red-haired man, who was an important-looking, sharp-nosed,
mysterious-spoken personage, with a bird-like habit of giving his
head a jerk every time he said anything, smiled as if he had made
one of the strangest discoveries that ever fell to the lot of
'I am happy in the prospect of your company, Sir,' said Mr. Pickwick.
'Ah,' said the new-comer, 'it's a good thing for both of us,
isn't it? Company, you see--company--is--is--it's a very
different thing from solitude--ain't it?'
'There's no denying that 'ere,' said Mr. Weller, joining in the
conversation, with an affable smile. 'That's what I call a self-
evident proposition, as the dog's-meat man said, when the
housemaid told him he warn't a gentleman.'
'Ah,' said the red-haired man, surveying Mr. Weller from head
to foot with a supercilious look. 'Friend of yours, sir?'
'Not exactly a friend,' replied Mr. Pickwick, in a low tone.
'The fact is, he is my servant, but I allow him to take a good many
liberties; for, between ourselves, I flatter myself he is an original,
and I am rather proud of him.'
'Ah,' said the red-haired man, 'that, you see, is a matter of
taste. I am not fond of anything original; I don't like it; don't see
the necessity for it. What's your name, sir?'
'Here is my card, sir,' replied Mr. Pickwick, much amused by
the abruptness of the question, and the singular manner of the stranger.
'Ah,' said the red-haired man, placing the card in his pocket-
book, 'Pickwick; very good. I like to know a man's name, it
saves so much trouble. That's my card, sir. Magnus, you will
perceive, sir--Magnus is my name. It's rather a good name, I
'A very good name, indeed,' said Mr. Pickwick, wholly unable
to repress a smile.
'Yes, I think it is,' resumed Mr. Magnus. 'There's a good
name before it, too, you will observe. Permit me, sir--if you hold
the card a little slanting, this way, you catch the light upon the
up-stroke. There--Peter Magnus--sounds well, I think, sir.'
'Very,' said Mr. Pickwick.
'Curious circumstance about those initials, sir,' said Mr.
Magnus. 'You will observe--P.M.--post meridian. In hasty
notes to intimate acquaintance, I sometimes sign myself "Afternoon."
It amuses my friends very much, Mr. Pickwick.'
'It is calculated to afford them the highest gratification, I
should conceive,' said Mr. Pickwick, rather envying the ease with
which Mr. Magnus's friends were entertained.
'Now, gen'l'm'n,' said the hostler, 'coach is ready, if you please.'
'Is all my luggage in?' inquired Mr. Magnus.
'All right, sir.'
'Is the red bag in?'
'All right, Sir.'
'And the striped bag?'
'Fore boot, Sir.'
'And the brown-paper parcel?'
'Under the seat, Sir.'
'And the leather hat-box?'
'They're all in, Sir.'
'Now, will you get up?' said Mr. Pickwick.
'Excuse me,' replied Magnus, standing on the wheel. 'Excuse
me, Mr. Pickwick. I cannot consent to get up, in this state of
uncertainty. I am quite satisfied from that man's manner, that the
leather hat-box is not in.'
The solemn protestations of the hostler being wholly
unavailing, the leather hat-box was obliged to be raked up from the
lowest depth of the boot, to satisfy him that it had been safely
packed; and after he had been assured on this head, he felt a
solemn presentiment, first, that the red bag was mislaid, and
next that the striped bag had been stolen, and then that the
brown-paper parcel 'had come untied.' At length when he had
received ocular demonstration of the groundless nature of each
and every of these suspicions, he consented to climb up to the
roof of the coach, observing that now he had taken everything
off his mind, he felt quite comfortable and happy.
'You're given to nervousness, ain't you, Sir?' inquired Mr.
Weller, senior, eyeing the stranger askance, as he mounted to his place.
'Yes; I always am rather about these little matters,' said the
stranger, 'but I am all right now--quite right.'
'Well, that's a blessin', said Mr. Weller. 'Sammy, help your
master up to the box; t'other leg, Sir, that's it; give us your hand,
Sir. Up with you. You was a lighter weight when you was a boy, sir.'
'True enough, that, Mr. Weller,' said the breathless Mr.
Pickwick good-humouredly, as he took his seat on the box beside him.
'Jump up in front, Sammy,' said Mr. Weller. 'Now Villam, run
'em out. Take care o' the archvay, gen'l'm'n. "Heads," as the
pieman says. That'll do, Villam. Let 'em alone.' And away went
the coach up Whitechapel, to the admiration of the whole
population of that pretty densely populated quarter.
'Not a wery nice neighbourhood, this, Sir,' said Sam, with a
touch of the hat, which always preceded his entering into
conversation with his master.
'It is not indeed, Sam,' replied Mr. Pickwick, surveying the
crowded and filthy street through which they were passing.
'It's a wery remarkable circumstance, Sir,' said Sam, 'that
poverty and oysters always seem to go together.'
'I don't understand you, Sam,' said Mr. Pickwick.
'What I mean, sir,' said Sam, 'is, that the poorer a place is, the
greater call there seems to be for oysters. Look here, sir; here's
a oyster-stall to every half-dozen houses. The street's lined vith
'em. Blessed if I don't think that ven a man's wery poor,
he rushes out of his lodgings, and eats oysters in reg'lar desperation.'
'To be sure he does,' said Mr. Weller, senior; 'and it's just the
same vith pickled salmon!'
'Those are two very remarkable facts, which never occurred to
me before,' said Mr. Pickwick. 'The very first place we stop at,
I'll make a note of them.'
By this time they had reached the turnpike at Mile End; a
profound silence prevailed until they had got two or three miles
farther on, when Mr. Weller, senior, turning suddenly to Mr.
'Wery queer life is a pike-keeper's, sir.'
'A what?' said Mr. Pickwick.
'What do you mean by a pike-keeper?' inquired Mr. Peter Magnus.
'The old 'un means a turnpike-keeper, gen'l'm'n,' observed
Mr. Samuel Weller, in explanation.
'Oh,' said Mr. Pickwick, 'I see. Yes; very curious life.
'They're all on 'em men as has met vith some disappointment
in life,' said Mr. Weller, senior.
'Ay, ay,' said Mr. Pickwick.
'Yes. Consequence of vich, they retires from the world, and
shuts themselves up in pikes; partly with the view of being
solitary, and partly to rewenge themselves on mankind by takin' tolls.'
'Dear me,' said Mr. Pickwick, 'I never knew that before.'
'Fact, Sir,' said Mr. Weller; 'if they was gen'l'm'n, you'd
call 'em misanthropes, but as it is, they only takes to pike-keepin'.'
With such conversation, possessing the inestimable charm of
blending amusement with instruction, did Mr. Weller beguile the
tediousness of the journey, during the greater part of the day.
Topics of conversation were never wanting, for even when any
pause occurred in Mr. Weller's loquacity, it was abundantly
supplied by the desire evinced by Mr. Magnus to make himself
acquainted with the whole of the personal history of his fellow-
travellers, and his loudly-expressed anxiety at every stage,
respecting the safety and well-being of the two bags, the leather
hat-box, and the brown-paper parcel.
In the main street of Ipswich, on the left-hand side of the way,
a short distance after you have passed through the open space
fronting the Town Hall, stands an inn known far and wide by the
appellation of the Great White Horse, rendered the more
conspicuous by a stone statue of some rampacious animal with
flowing mane and tail, distantly resembling an insane cart-horse,
which is elevated above the principal door. The Great White
Horse is famous in the neighbourhood, in the same degree as a
prize ox, or a county-paper-chronicled turnip, or unwieldy pig--
for its enormous size. Never was such labyrinths of uncarpeted
passages, such clusters of mouldy, ill-lighted rooms, such huge
numbers of small dens for eating or sleeping in, beneath any one
roof, as are collected together between the four walls of the
Great White Horse at Ipswich.
It was at the door of this overgrown tavern that the London
coach stopped, at the same hour every evening; and it was from
this same London coach that Mr. Pickwick, Sam Weller, and
Mr. Peter Magnus dismounted, on the particular evening to
which this chapter of our history bears reference.
'Do you stop here, sir?' inquired Mr. Peter Magnus, when the
striped bag, and the red bag, and the brown-paper parcel, and the
leather hat-box, had all been deposited in the passage. 'Do you
stop here, sir?'
'I do,' said Mr. Pickwick.
'Dear me,' said Mr. Magnus, 'I never knew anything like these
extraordinary coincidences. Why, I stop here too. I hope we
'With pleasure,' replied Mr. Pickwick. 'I am not quite certain
whether I have any friends here or not, though. Is there any
gentleman of the name of Tupman here, waiter?'
A corpulent man, with a fortnight's napkin under his arm, and
coeval stockings on his legs, slowly desisted from his occupation
of staring down the street, on this question being put to him by
Mr. Pickwick; and, after minutely inspecting that gentleman's
appearance, from the crown of his hat to the lowest button of his
gaiters, replied emphatically--
'Nor any gentleman of the name of Snodgrass?' inquired
'My friends have not arrived to-day, Sir,' said Mr. Pickwick.
'We will dine alone, then. Show us a private room, waiter.'
On this request being preferred, the corpulent man
condescended to order the boots to bring in the gentlemen's luggage;
and preceding them down a long, dark passage, ushered them
into a large, badly-furnished apartment, with a dirty grate, in
which a small fire was making a wretched attempt to be cheerful,
but was fast sinking beneath the dispiriting influence of the place.
After the lapse of an hour, a bit of fish and a steak was served up
to the travellers, and when the dinner was cleared away, Mr.
Pickwick and Mr. Peter Magnus drew their chairs up to the fire,
and having ordered a bottle of the worst possible port wine, at
the highest possible price, for the good of the house, drank
brandy-and-water for their own.
Mr. Peter Magnus was naturally of a very communicative
disposition, and the brandy-and-water operated with wonderful
effect in warming into life the deepest hidden secrets of his
bosom. After sundry accounts of himself, his family, his connections,
his friends, his jokes, his business, and his brothers (most
talkative men have a great deal to say about their brothers),
Mr. Peter Magnus took a view of Mr. Pickwick through his
coloured spectacles for several minutes, and then said, with an
air of modesty--
'And what do you think--what DO you think, Mr. Pickwick--I
have come down here for?'
'Upon my word,' said Mr. Pickwick, 'it is wholly impossible
for me to guess; on business, perhaps.'
'Partly right, Sir,' replied Mr. Peter Magnus, 'but partly wrong
at the same time; try again, Mr. Pickwick.'
'Really,' said Mr. Pickwick, 'I must throw myself on your
mercy, to tell me or not, as you may think best; for I should never
guess, if I were to try all night.'
'Why, then, he-he-he!' said Mr. Peter Magnus, with a
bashful titter, 'what should you think, Mr. Pickwick, if I had
come down here to make a proposal, Sir, eh? He, he, he!'
'Think! That you are very likely to succeed,' replied Mr.
Pickwick, with one of his beaming smiles.
'Ah!' said Mr. Magnus. 'But do you really think so, Mr.
Pickwick? Do you, though?'
'Certainly,' said Mr. Pickwick.
'No; but you're joking, though.'
'I am not, indeed.'
'Why, then,' said Mr. Magnus, 'to let you into a little secret, I
think so too. I don't mind telling you, Mr. Pickwick, although
I'm dreadful jealous by nature--horrid--that the lady is in this
house.' Here Mr. Magnus took off his spectacles, on purpose to
wink, and then put them on again.
'That's what you were running out of the room for, before
dinner, then, so often,' said Mr. Pickwick archly.
'Hush! Yes, you're right, that was it; not such a fool as to see
'No; wouldn't do, you know, after having just come off a
journey. Wait till to-morrow, sir; double the chance then. Mr.
Pickwick, Sir, there is a suit of clothes in that bag, and a hat in
that box, which, I expect, in the effect they will produce, will be
invaluable to me, sir.'
'Indeed!' said Mr. Pickwick.
'Yes; you must have observed my anxiety about them to-day.
I do not believe that such another suit of clothes, and such a hat,
could be bought for money, Mr. Pickwick.'
Mr. Pickwick congratulated the fortunate owner of the
irresistible garments on their acquisition; and Mr. Peter Magnus
remained a few moments apparently absorbed in contemplation.
'She's a fine creature,' said Mr. Magnus.
'Is she?' said Mr. Pickwick.
'Very,' said Mr. Magnus. 'very. She lives about twenty miles
from here, Mr. Pickwick. I heard she would be here to-night and
all to-morrow forenoon, and came down to seize the opportunity.
I think an inn is a good sort of a place to propose to a single
woman in, Mr. Pickwick. She is more likely to feel the loneliness
of her situation in travelling, perhaps, than she would be at home.
What do you think, Mr. Pickwick?'
'I think it is very probable,' replied that gentleman.
'I beg your pardon, Mr. Pickwick,' said Mr. Peter Magnus,
'but I am naturally rather curious; what may you have come
down here for?'
'On a far less pleasant errand, Sir,' replied Mr. Pickwick, the
colour mounting to his face at the recollection. 'I have come
down here, Sir, to expose the treachery and falsehood of an
individual, upon whose truth and honour I placed implicit reliance.'
'Dear me,' said Mr. Peter Magnus, 'that's very unpleasant. It is
a lady, I presume? Eh? ah! Sly, Mr. Pickwick, sly. Well, Mr.
Pickwick, sir, I wouldn't probe your feelings for the world.
Painful subjects, these, sir, very painful. Don't mind me, Mr.
Pickwick, if you wish to give vent to your feelings. I know what
it is to be jilted, Sir; I have endured that sort of thing three or
'I am much obliged to you, for your condolence on what you
presume to be my melancholy case,' said Mr. Pickwick, winding
up his watch, and laying it on the table, 'but--'
'No, no,' said Mr. Peter Magnus, 'not a word more; it's a
painful subject. I see, I see. What's the time, Mr. Pickwick?'
'Dear me, it's time to go to bed. It will never do, sitting here. I
shall be pale to-morrow, Mr. Pickwick.'
At the bare notion of such a calamity, Mr. Peter Magnus rang
the bell for the chambermaid; and the striped bag, the red bag,
the leathern hat-box, and the brown-paper parcel, having been
conveyed to his bedroom, he retired in company with a japanned
candlestick, to one side of the house, while Mr. Pickwick, and
another japanned candlestick, were conducted through a multitude
of tortuous windings, to another.
'This is your room, sir,' said the chambermaid.
'Very well,' replied Mr. Pickwick, looking round him. It was a
tolerably large double-bedded room, with a fire; upon the whole,
a more comfortable-looking apartment than Mr. Pickwick's
short experience of the accommodations of the Great White
Horse had led him to expect.
'Nobody sleeps in the other bed, of course,' said Mr. Pickwick.
'Oh, no, Sir.'
'Very good. Tell my servant to bring me up some hot water at
half-past eight in the morning, and that I shall not want him any
'Yes, Sir,' and bidding Mr. Pickwick good-night, the chambermaid
retired, and left him alone.
Mr. Pickwick sat himself down in a chair before the fire, and
fell into a train of rambling meditations. First he thought of his
friends, and wondered when they would join him; then his mind
reverted to Mrs. Martha Bardell; and from that lady it wandered,
by a natural process, to the dingy counting-house of Dodson &
Fogg. From Dodson & Fogg's it flew off at a tangent, to the very
centre of the history of the queer client; and then it came back to
the Great White Horse at Ipswich, with sufficient clearness to
convince Mr. Pickwick that he was falling asleep. So he roused
himself, and began to undress, when he recollected he had left his
watch on the table downstairs.
Now this watch was a special favourite with Mr. Pickwick,
having been carried about, beneath the shadow of his waistcoat,
for a greater number of years than we feel called upon to state at
present. The possibility of going to sleep, unless it were ticking
gently beneath his pillow, or in the watch-pocket over his head,
had never entered Mr. Pickwick's brain. So as it was pretty late
now, and he was unwilling to ring his bell at that hour of the
night, he slipped on his coat, of which he had just divested
himself, and taking the japanned candlestick in his hand, walked
The more stairs Mr. Pickwick went down, the more stairs
there seemed to be to descend, and again and again, when Mr.
Pickwick got into some narrow passage, and began to congratulate
himself on having gained the ground-floor, did another flight
of stairs appear before his astonished eyes. At last he reached a
stone hall, which he remembered to have seen when he entered
the house. Passage after passage did he explore; room after room
did he peep into; at length, as he was on the point of giving up the
search in despair, he opened the door of the identical room in
which he had spent the evening, and beheld his missing property
on the table.
Mr. Pickwick seized the watch in triumph, and proceeded to
retrace his steps to his bedchamber. If his progress downward had
been attended with difficulties and uncertainty, his journey back
was infinitely more perplexing. Rows of doors, garnished with
boots of every shape, make, and size, branched off in every
possible direction. A dozen times did he softly turn the handle of
some bedroom door which resembled his own, when a gruff cry
from within of 'Who the devil's that?' or 'What do you want
here?' caused him to steal away, on tiptoe, with a perfectly
marvellous celerity. He was reduced to the verge of despair, when
an open door attracted his attention. He peeped in. Right at last!
There were the two beds, whose situation he perfectly remembered,
and the fire still burning. His candle, not a long one when he
first received it, had flickered away in the drafts of air through
which he had passed and sank into the socket as he closed the
door after him. 'No matter,' said Mr. Pickwick, 'I can undress
myself just as well by the light of the fire.'
The bedsteads stood one on each side of the door; and on the
inner side of each was a little path, terminating in a rush-
bottomed chair, just wide enough to admit of a person's getting
into or out of bed, on that side, if he or she thought proper.
Having carefully drawn the curtains of his bed on the outside,
Mr. Pickwick sat down on the rush-bottomed chair, and leisurely
divested himself of his shoes and gaiters. He then took off and
folded up his coat, waistcoat, and neckcloth, and slowly drawing
on his tasselled nightcap, secured it firmly on his head, by tying
beneath his chin the strings which he always had attached to that
article of dress. It was at this moment that the absurdity of his
recent bewilderment struck upon his mind. Throwing himself
back in the rush-bottomed chair, Mr. Pickwick laughed to
himself so heartily, that it would have been quite delightful to
any man of well-constituted mind to have watched the smiles
that expanded his amiable features as they shone forth from
beneath the nightcap.
'It is the best idea,' said Mr. Pickwick to himself, smiling till he
almost cracked the nightcap strings--'it is the best idea, my
losing myself in this place, and wandering about these staircases,
that I ever heard of. Droll, droll, very droll.' Here Mr. Pickwick
smiled again, a broader smile than before, and was about to
continue the process of undressing, in the best possible humour,
when he was suddenly stopped by a most unexpected interruption:
to wit, the entrance into the room of some person with a
candle, who, after locking the door, advanced to the dressing-
table, and set down the light upon it.
The smile that played on Mr. Pickwick's features was
instantaneously lost in a look of the most unbounded and wonder-
stricken surprise. The person, whoever it was, had come in so
suddenly and with so little noise, that Mr. Pickwick had had no
time to call out, or oppose their entrance. Who could it be? A
robber? Some evil-minded person who had seen him come
upstairs with a handsome watch in his hand, perhaps. What was
he to do?
The only way in which Mr. Pickwick could catch a glimpse of
his mysterious visitor with the least danger of being seen himself,
was by creeping on to the bed, and peeping out from between the
curtains on the opposite side. To this manoeuvre he accordingly
resorted. Keeping the curtains carefully closed with his hand, so
that nothing more of him could be seen than his face and nightcap,
and putting on his spectacles, he mustered up courage and
Mr. Pickwick almost fainted with horror and dismay. Standing
before the dressing-glass was a middle-aged lady, in yellow curl-
papers, busily engaged in brushing what ladies call their 'back-
hair.' However the unconscious middle-aged lady came into that
room, it was quite clear that she contemplated remaining there
for the night; for she had brought a rushlight and shade with her,
which, with praiseworthy precaution against fire, she had
stationed in a basin on the floor, where it was glimmering away,
like a gigantic lighthouse in a particularly small piece of water.
'Bless my soul!' thought Mr. Pickwick, 'what a dreadful thing!'
'Hem!' said the lady; and in went Mr. Pickwick's head with
'I never met with anything so awful as this,' thought poor
Mr. Pickwick, the cold perspiration starting in drops upon his
nightcap. 'Never. This is fearful.'
It was quite impossible to resist the urgent desire to see what
was going forward. So out went Mr. Pickwick's head again. The
prospect was worse than before. The middle-aged lady had
finished arranging her hair; had carefully enveloped it in a muslin
nightcap with a small plaited border; and was gazing pensively
on the fire.
'This matter is growing alarming,' reasoned Mr. Pickwick with
himself. 'I can't allow things to go on in this way. By the self-
possession of that lady, it is clear to me that I must have come
into the wrong room. If I call out she'll alarm the house; but if I
remain here the consequences will be still more frightful.'
Mr. Pickwick, it is quite unnecessary to say, was one of the
most modest and delicate-minded of mortals. The very idea of
exhibiting his nightcap to a lady overpowered him, but he had
tied those confounded strings in a knot, and, do what he would,
he couldn't get it off. The disclosure must be made. There was
only one other way of doing it. He shrunk behind the curtains,
and called out very loudly--
That the lady started at this unexpected sound was evident, by
her falling up against the rushlight shade; that she persuaded
herself it must have been the effect of imagination was equally
clear, for when Mr. Pickwick, under the impression that she had
fainted away stone-dead with fright, ventured to peep out again,
she was gazing pensively on the fire as before.
'Most extraordinary female this,' thought Mr. Pickwick,
popping in again. 'Ha-hum!'
These last sounds, so like those in which, as legends inform us,
the ferocious giant Blunderbore was in the habit of expressing his
opinion that it was time to lay the cloth, were too distinctly
audible to be again mistaken for the workings of fancy.
'Gracious Heaven!' said the middle-aged lady, 'what's that?'
'It's-- it's--only a gentleman, ma'am,' said Mr. Pickwick, from
behind the curtains.
'A gentleman!' said the lady, with a terrific scream.
'It's all over!' thought Mr. Pickwick.
'A strange man!' shrieked the lady. Another instant and the
house would be alarmed. Her garments rustled as she rushed
towards the door.
'Ma'am,' said Mr. Pickwick, thrusting out his head. in the
extremity of his desperation, 'ma'am!'
Now, although Mr. Pickwick was not actuated by any definite
object in putting out his head, it was instantaneously productive
of a good effect. The lady, as we have already stated, was near the
door. She must pass it, to reach the staircase, and she would most
undoubtedly have done so by this time, had not the sudden
apparition of Mr. Pickwick's nightcap driven her back into the
remotest corner of the apartment, where she stood staring wildly
at Mr. Pickwick, while Mr. Pickwick in his turn stared wildly
'Wretch,' said the lady, covering her eyes with her hands,
'what do you want here?'
'Nothing, ma'am; nothing whatever, ma'am,' said Mr.
'Nothing!' said the lady, looking up.
'Nothing, ma'am, upon my honour,' said Mr. Pickwick,
nodding his head so energetically, that the tassel of his nightcap
danced again. 'I am almost ready to sink, ma'am, beneath the
confusion of addressing a lady in my nightcap (here the lady
hastily snatched off hers), but I can't get it off, ma'am (here Mr.
Pickwick gave it a tremendous tug, in proof of the statement). It
is evident to me, ma'am, now, that I have mistaken this bedroom
for my own. I had not been here five minutes, ma'am, when you
suddenly entered it.'
'If this improbable story be really true, Sir,' said the lady,
sobbing violently, 'you will leave it instantly.'
'I will, ma'am, with the greatest pleasure,' replied Mr. Pickwick.
'Instantly, sir,' said the lady.
'Certainly, ma'am,' interposed Mr. Pickwick, very quickly.
'Certainly, ma'am. I--I--am very sorry, ma'am,' said Mr.
Pickwick, making his appearance at the bottom of the bed, 'to
have been the innocent occasion of this alarm and emotion;
deeply sorry, ma'am.'
The lady pointed to the door. One excellent quality of Mr.
Pickwick's character was beautifully displayed at this moment,
under the most trying circumstances. Although he had hastily
Put on his hat over his nightcap, after the manner of the old
patrol; although he carried his shoes and gaiters in his hand, and
his coat and waistcoat over his arm; nothing could subdue his
'I am exceedingly sorry, ma'am,' said Mr. Pickwick, bowing
'If you are, Sir, you will at once leave the room,' said the lady.
'Immediately, ma'am; this instant, ma'am,' said Mr. Pickwick,
opening the door, and dropping both his shoes with a crash in so doing.
'I trust, ma'am,' resumed Mr. Pickwick, gathering up his shoes,
and turning round to bow again--'I trust, ma'am, that my
unblemished character, and the devoted respect I entertain for your
sex, will plead as some slight excuse for this--' But before Mr.
Pickwick could conclude the sentence, the lady had thrust him
into the passage, and locked and bolted the door behind him.
Whatever grounds of self-congratulation Mr. Pickwick might
have for having escaped so quietly from his late awkward
situation, his present position was by no means enviable. He was
alone, in an open passage, in a strange house in the middle of the
night, half dressed; it was not to be supposed that he could find
his way in perfect darkness to a room which he had been wholly
unable to discover with a light, and if he made the slightest noise
in his fruitless attempts to do so, he stood every chance of being
shot at, and perhaps killed, by some wakeful traveller. He had no
resource but to remain where he was until daylight appeared. So
after groping his way a few paces down the passage, and, to his
infinite alarm, stumbling over several pairs of boots in so doing,
Mr. Pickwick crouched into a little recess in the wall, to wait for
morning, as philosophically as he might.
He was not destined, however, to undergo this additional trial
of patience; for he had not been long ensconced in his present
concealment when, to his unspeakable horror, a man, bearing a
light, appeared at the end of the passage. His horror was suddenly
converted into joy, however, when he recognised the form of his
faithful attendant. It was indeed Mr. Samuel Weller, who after
sitting up thus late, in conversation with the boots, who was
sitting up for the mail, was now about to retire to rest.
'Sam,' said Mr. Pickwick, suddenly appearing before him,
'where's my bedroom?'
Mr. Weller stared at his master with the most emphatic
surprise; and it was not until the question had been repeated
three several times, that he turned round, and led the way to the
'Sam,' said Mr. Pickwick, as he got into bed, 'I have made one
of the most extraordinary mistakes to-night, that ever were
'Wery likely, Sir,' replied Mr. Weller drily.
'But of this I am determined, Sam,' said Mr. Pickwick; 'that if
I were to stop in this house for six months, I would never trust
myself about it, alone, again.'
'That's the wery prudentest resolution as you could come to,
Sir,' replied Mr. Weller. 'You rayther want somebody to look
arter you, Sir, when your judgment goes out a wisitin'.'
'What do you mean by that, Sam?' said Mr. Pickwick. He
raised himself in bed, and extended his hand, as if he were about
to say something more; but suddenly checking himself, turned
round, and bade his valet 'Good-night.'
'Good-night, Sir,' replied Mr. Weller. He paused when he got
outside the door--shook his head--walked on--stopped--
snuffed the candle--shook his head again--and finally proceeded
slowly to his chamber, apparently buried in the profoundest meditation.
IN WHICH Mr. SAMUEL WELLER BEGINS TO DEVOTE HIS
ENERGIES TO THE RETURN MATCH BETWEEN HIMSELF
AND Mr. TROTTER
In a small room in the vicinity of the stableyard, betimes in the
morning, which was ushered in by Mr. Pickwick's adventure with the
middle--aged lady in the yellow curl-papers, sat Mr. Weller, senior,
preparing himself for his journey to London. He was sitting in an
excellent attitude for having his portrait taken; and here it is.
It is very possible that at some earlier period of his career,
Mr. Weller's profile might have presented a bold and determined
outline. His face, however, had expanded under the influence of
good living, and a disposition remarkable for resignation; and its
bold, fleshy curves had so far extended beyond the limits originally
assigned them, that unless you took a full view of his countenance
in front, it was difficult to distinguish more than the extreme tip
of a very rubicund nose. His chin, from the same cause, had
acquired the grave and imposing form which is generally
described by prefixing the word 'double' to that expressive
feature; and his complexion exhibited that peculiarly mottled
combination of colours which is only to be seen in gentlemen of
his profession, and in underdone roast beef. Round his neck he
wore a crimson travelling-shawl, which merged into his chin by
such imperceptible gradations, that it was difficult to distinguish
the folds of the one, from the folds of the other. Over this, he
mounted a long waistcoat of a broad pink-striped pattern, and
over that again, a wide-skirted green coat, ornamented with large
brass buttons, whereof the two which garnished the waist, were
so far apart, that no man had ever beheld them both at the same
time. His hair, which was short, sleek, and black, was just visible
beneath the capacious brim of a low-crowned brown hat. His legs
were encased in knee-cord breeches, and painted top-boots; and a
copper watch-chain, terminating in one seal, and a key of the
same material, dangled loosely from his capacious waistband.
We have said that Mr. Weller was engaged in preparing for his
journey to London--he was taking sustenance, in fact. On the
table before him, stood a pot of ale, a cold round of beef, and a
very respectable-looking loaf, to each of which he distributed his
favours in turn, with the most rigid impartiality. He had just cut
a mighty slice from the latter, when the footsteps of somebody
entering the room, caused him to raise his head; and he beheld
'Mornin', Sammy!' said the father.
The son walked up to the pot of ale, and nodding significantly
to his parent, took a long draught by way of reply.
'Wery good power o' suction, Sammy,' said Mr. Weller the
elder, looking into the pot, when his first-born had set it down
half empty. 'You'd ha' made an uncommon fine oyster, Sammy,
if you'd been born in that station o' life.'
'Yes, I des-say, I should ha' managed to pick up a respectable
livin',' replied Sam applying himself to the cold beef, with
'I'm wery sorry, Sammy,' said the elder Mr. Weller, shaking
up the ale, by describing small circles with the pot, preparatory
to drinking. 'I'm wery sorry, Sammy, to hear from your lips, as
you let yourself be gammoned by that 'ere mulberry man. I
always thought, up to three days ago, that the names of Veller
and gammon could never come into contract, Sammy, never.'
'Always exceptin' the case of a widder, of course,' said Sam.
'Widders, Sammy,' replied Mr. Weller, slightly changing
colour. 'Widders are 'ceptions to ev'ry rule. I have heerd how
many ordinary women one widder's equal to in pint o' comin'
over you. I think it's five-and-twenty, but I don't rightly know
vether it ain't more.'
'Well; that's pretty well,' said Sam.
'Besides,' continued Mr. Weller, not noticing the interruption,
'that's a wery different thing. You know what the counsel said,
Sammy, as defended the gen'l'm'n as beat his wife with the poker,
venever he got jolly. "And arter all, my Lord," says he, "it's a
amiable weakness." So I says respectin' widders, Sammy, and so
you'll say, ven you gets as old as me.'
'I ought to ha' know'd better, I know,' said Sam.
'Ought to ha' know'd better!' repeated Mr. Weller, striking the
table with his fist. 'Ought to ha' know'd better! why, I know a
young 'un as hasn't had half nor quarter your eddication--as
hasn't slept about the markets, no, not six months--who'd ha'
scorned to be let in, in such a vay; scorned it, Sammy.' In the
excitement of feeling produced by this agonising reflection, Mr.
Weller rang the bell, and ordered an additional pint of ale.
'Well, it's no use talking about it now,' said Sam. 'It's over,
and can't be helped, and that's one consolation, as they always
says in Turkey, ven they cuts the wrong man's head off. It's my
innings now, gov'nor, and as soon as I catches hold o' this 'ere
Trotter, I'll have a good 'un.'
'I hope you will, Sammy. I hope you will,' returned Mr. Weller.
'Here's your health, Sammy, and may you speedily vipe off the
disgrace as you've inflicted on the family name.' In honour of
this toast Mr. Weller imbibed at a draught, at least two-thirds of
a newly-arrived pint, and handed it over to his son, to dispose of
the remainder, which he instantaneously did.
'And now, Sammy,' said Mr. Weller, consulting a large double-
faced silver watch that hung at the end of the copper chain.
'Now it's time I was up at the office to get my vay-bill and see the
coach loaded; for coaches, Sammy, is like guns--they requires
to be loaded with wery great care, afore they go off.'
At this parental and professional joke, Mr. Weller, junior,
smiled a filial smile. His revered parent continued in a solemn tone--
'I'm a-goin' to leave you, Samivel, my boy, and there's no
telling ven I shall see you again. Your mother-in-law may ha'
been too much for me, or a thousand things may have happened
by the time you next hears any news o' the celebrated Mr. Veller
o' the Bell Savage. The family name depends wery much upon
you, Samivel, and I hope you'll do wot's right by it. Upon all
little pints o' breedin', I know I may trust you as vell as if it was
my own self. So I've only this here one little bit of adwice to give
you. If ever you gets to up'ards o' fifty, and feels disposed to go
a-marryin' anybody--no matter who--jist you shut yourself up
in your own room, if you've got one, and pison yourself off hand.
Hangin's wulgar, so don't you have nothin' to say to that. Pison
yourself, Samivel, my boy, pison yourself, and you'll be glad on
it arterwards.' With these affecting words, Mr. Weller looked
steadfastly on his son, and turning slowly upon his heel,
disappeared from his sight.
In the contemplative mood which these words had awakened,
Mr. Samuel Weller walked forth from the Great White Horse
when his father had left him; and bending his steps towards St.
Clement's Church, endeavoured to dissipate his melancholy, by
strolling among its ancient precincts. He had loitered about, for
some time, when he found himself in a retired spot--a kind of
courtyard of venerable appearance--which he discovered had no
other outlet than the turning by which he had entered. He was
about retracing his steps, when he was suddenly transfixed to the
spot by a sudden appearance; and the mode and manner of this
appearance, we now proceed to relate.
Mr. Samuel Weller had been staring up at the old brick houses
now and then, in his deep abstraction, bestowing a wink upon
some healthy-looking servant girl as she drew up a blind, or
threw open a bedroom window, when the green gate of a garden
at the bottom of the yard opened, and a man having emerged
therefrom, closed the green gate very carefully after him, and
walked briskly towards the very spot where Mr. Weller was standing.
Now, taking this, as an isolated fact, unaccompanied by any
attendant circumstances, there was nothing very extraordinary in
it; because in many parts of the world men do come out of
gardens, close green gates after them, and even walk briskly
away, without attracting any particular share of public observation.
It is clear, therefore, that there must have been something in
the man, or in his manner, or both, to attract Mr. Weller's
particular notice. Whether there was, or not, we must leave the
reader to determine, when we have faithfully recorded the
behaviour of the individual in question.
When the man had shut the green gate after him, he walked,
as we have said twice already, with a brisk pace up the courtyard;
but he no sooner caught sight of Mr. Weller than he faltered, and
stopped, as if uncertain, for the moment, what course to adopt.
As the green gate was closed behind him, and there was no other
outlet but the one in front, however, he was not long in perceiving
that he must pass Mr. Samuel Weller to get away. He therefore
resumed his brisk pace, and advanced, staring straight before
him. The most extraordinary thing about the man was, that he
was contorting his face into the most fearful and astonishing
grimaces that ever were beheld. Nature's handiwork never was
disguised with such extraordinary artificial carving, as the man
had overlaid his countenance with in one moment.
'Well!' said Mr. Weller to himself, as the man approached.
'This is wery odd. I could ha' swore it was him.'
Up came the man, and his face became more frightfully
distorted than ever, as he drew nearer.
'I could take my oath to that 'ere black hair and mulberry suit,'
said Mr. Weller; 'only I never see such a face as that afore.'
As Mr. Weller said this, the man's features assumed an
unearthly twinge, perfectly hideous. He was obliged to pass very
near Sam, however, and the scrutinising glance of that gentleman
enabled him to detect, under all these appalling twists of feature,
something too like the small eyes of Mr. Job Trotter to be
'Hollo, you Sir!' shouted Sam fiercely.
The stranger stopped.
'Hollo!' repeated Sam, still more gruffly.
The man with the horrible face looked, with the greatest
surprise, up the court, and down the court, and in at the windows
of the houses--everywhere but at Sam Weller--and took another
step forward, when he was brought to again by another shout.
'Hollo, you sir!' said Sam, for the third time.
There was no pretending to mistake where the voice came
from now, so the stranger, having no other resource, at last
looked Sam Weller full in the face.
'It won't do, Job Trotter,' said Sam. 'Come! None o' that 'ere
nonsense. You ain't so wery 'andsome that you can afford to
throw avay many o' your good looks. Bring them 'ere eyes o'
yourn back into their proper places, or I'll knock 'em out of
your head. D'ye hear?'
As Mr. Weller appeared fully disposed to act up to the spirit of
this address, Mr. Trotter gradually allowed his face to resume its
natural expression; and then giving a start of joy, exclaimed,
'What do I see? Mr. Walker!'
'Ah,' replied Sam. 'You're wery glad to see me, ain't you?'
'Glad!' exclaimed Job Trotter; 'oh, Mr. Walker, if you had but
known how I have looked forward to this meeting! It is too
much, Mr. Walker; I cannot bear it, indeed I cannot.' And with
these words, Mr. Trotter burst into a regular inundation of tears,
and, flinging his arms around those of Mr. Weller, embraced him
closely, in an ecstasy of joy.
'Get off!' cried Sam, indignant at this process, and vainly
endeavouring to extricate himself from the grasp of his
enthusiastic acquaintance. 'Get off, I tell you. What are you crying
over me for, you portable engine?'
'Because I am so glad to see you,' replied Job Trotter, gradually
releasing Mr. Weller, as the first symptoms of his pugnacity
disappeared. 'Oh, Mr. Walker, this is too much.'
'Too much!' echoed Sam, 'I think it is too much--rayther!
Now, what have you got to say to me, eh?'
Mr. Trotter made no reply; for the little pink pocket-handkerchief
was in full force.
'What have you got to say to me, afore I knock your head off?'
repeated Mr. Weller, in a threatening manner.
'Eh!' said Mr. Trotter, with a look of virtuous surprise.
'What have you got to say to me?'
'I, Mr. Walker!'
'Don't call me Valker; my name's Veller; you know that vell
enough. What have you got to say to me?'
'Bless you, Mr. Walker--Weller, I mean--a great many things,
if you will come away somewhere, where we can talk comfortably.
If you knew how I have looked for you, Mr. Weller--'
'Wery hard, indeed, I s'pose?' said Sam drily.
'Very, very, Sir,' replied Mr. Trotter, without moving a muscle
of his face. 'But shake hands, Mr. Weller.'
Sam eyed his companion for a few seconds, and then, as if
actuated by a sudden impulse, complied with his request.
'How,' said Job Trotter, as they walked away, 'how is your
dear, good master? Oh, he is a worthy gentleman, Mr. Weller!
I hope he didn't catch cold, that dreadful night, Sir.'
There was a momentary look of deep slyness in Job Trotter's
eye, as he said this, which ran a thrill through Mr. Weller's
clenched fist, as he burned with a desire to make a demonstration
on his ribs. Sam constrained himself, however, and replied that
his master was extremely well.
'Oh, I am so glad,' replied Mr. Trotter; 'is he here?'
'Is yourn?' asked Sam, by way of reply.
'Oh, yes, he is here, and I grieve to say, Mr. Weller, he is going
on worse than ever.'
'Ah, ah!' said Sam.
'At a boarding-school?' said Sam.
'No, not at a boarding-school,' replied Job Trotter, with the
same sly look which Sam had noticed before; 'not at a
'At the house with the green gate?' said Sam, eyeing his
'No, no--oh, not there,' replied Job, with a quickness very
unusual to him, 'not there.'
'What was you a-doin' there?' asked Sam, with a sharp glance.
'Got inside the gate by accident, perhaps?'
'Why, Mr. Weller,' replied Job, 'I don't mind telling you my
little secrets, because, you know, we took such a fancy for each
other when we first met. You recollect how pleasant we were
'Oh, yes,' said Sam, impatiently. 'I remember. Well?'
'Well,' replied Job, speaking with great precision, and in the
low tone of a man who communicates an important secret; 'in
that house with the green gate, Mr. Weller, they keep a good
'So I should think, from the look on it,' interposed Sam.
'Yes,' continued Mr. Trotter, 'and one of them is a cook, who
has saved up a little money, Mr. Weller, and is desirous, if she
can establish herself in life, to open a little shop in the chandlery
way, you see.'
'Yes, Mr. Weller. Well, Sir, I met her at a chapel that I go to; a
very neat little chapel in this town, Mr. Weller, where they sing
the number four collection of hymns, which I generally carry
about with me, in a little book, which you may perhaps have seen
in my hand--and I got a little intimate with her, Mr. Weller, and
from that, an acquaintance sprung up between us, and I may
venture to say, Mr. Weller, that I am to be the chandler.'
'Ah, and a wery amiable chandler you'll make,' replied Sam,
eyeing Job with a side look of intense dislike.
'The great advantage of this, Mr. Weller,' continued Job, his
eyes filling with tears as he spoke, 'will be, that I shall be able to
leave my present disgraceful service with that bad man, and to
devote myself to a better and more virtuous life; more like the
way in which I was brought up, Mr. Weller.'
'You must ha' been wery nicely brought up,' said Sam.
'Oh, very, Mr. Weller, very,' replied Job. At the recollection
of the purity of his youthful days, Mr. Trotter pulled forth the
pink handkerchief, and wept copiously.
'You must ha' been an uncommon nice boy, to go to school
vith,' said Sam.
'I was, sir,' replied Job, heaving a deep sigh; 'I was the idol of
'Ah,' said Sam, 'I don't wonder at it. What a comfort you
must ha' been to your blessed mother.'
At these words, Mr. Job Trotter inserted an end of the pink
handkerchief into the corner of each eye, one after the other, and
began to weep copiously.
'Wot's the matter with the man,' said Sam, indignantly.
'Chelsea water-works is nothin' to you. What are you melting
vith now? The consciousness o' willainy?'
'I cannot keep my feelings down, Mr. Weller,' said Job, after a
short pause. 'To think that my master should have suspected the
conversation I had with yours, and so dragged me away in a
post-chaise, and after persuading the sweet young lady to say she
knew nothing of him, and bribing the school-mistress to do the
same, deserted her for a better speculation! Oh! Mr. Weller, it
makes me shudder.'
'Oh, that was the vay, was it?' said Mr. Weller.
'To be sure it was,' replied Job.
'Vell,' said Sam, as they had now arrived near the hotel, 'I vant
to have a little bit o' talk with you, Job; so if you're not partickler
engaged, I should like to see you at the Great White Horse to-
night, somewheres about eight o'clock.'
'I shall be sure to come,' said Job.
'Yes, you'd better,' replied Sam, with a very meaning look, 'or
else I shall perhaps be askin' arter you, at the other side of the
green gate, and then I might cut you out, you know.'
'I shall be sure to be with you, sir,' said Mr. Trotter;
and wringing Sam's hand with the utmost fervour, he walked away.
'Take care, Job Trotter, take care,' said Sam, looking after
him, 'or I shall be one too many for you this time. I shall,
indeed.' Having uttered this soliloquy, and looked after Job till
he was to be seen no more, Mr. Weller made the best of his way
to his master's bedroom.
'It's all in training, Sir,' said Sam.
'What's in training, Sam?' inquired Mr. Pickwick.
'I've found 'em out, Sir,' said Sam.
'Found out who?'
'That 'ere queer customer, and the melan-cholly chap with the
'Impossible, Sam!' said Mr. Pickwick, with the greatest energy.
'Where are they, Sam: where are they?'
'Hush, hush!' replied Mr. Weller; and as he assisted Mr.
Pickwick to dress, he detailed the plan of action on which he
proposed to enter.
'But when is this to be done, Sam?' inquired Mr. Pickwick.
'All in good time, Sir,' replied Sam.
Whether it was done in good time, or not, will be seen hereafter.
WHEREIN Mr. PETER MAGNUS GROWS JEALOUS, AND THE
MIDDLE-AGED LADY APPREHENSIVE, WHICH BRINGS THE
PICKWICKIANS WITHIN THE GRASP OF THE LAW
When Mr. Pickwick descended to the room in which he and Mr. Peter
Magnus had spent the preceding evening, he found that gentleman with
the major part of the contents of the two bags, the leathern hat-box,
and the brown-paper parcel, displaying to all possible advantage
on his person, while he himself was pacing up and down the room in
a state of the utmost excitement and agitation.
'Good-morning, Sir,' said Mr. Peter Magnus. 'What do you
think of this, Sir?'
'Very effective indeed,' replied Mr. Pickwick, surveying the
garments of Mr. Peter Magnus with a good-natured smile.
'Yes, I think it'll do,' said Mr. Magnus. 'Mr. Pickwick, Sir, I
have sent up my card.'
'Have you?' said Mr. Pickwick.
'And the waiter brought back word, that she would see me at
eleven--at eleven, Sir; it only wants a quarter now.'
'Very near the time,' said Mr. Pickwick.
'Yes, it is rather near,' replied Mr. Magnus, 'rather too near to
be pleasant--eh! Mr. Pickwick, sir?'
'Confidence is a great thing in these cases,' observed Mr. Pickwick.
'I believe it is, Sir,' said Mr. Peter Magnus. 'I am very confident,
Sir. Really, Mr. Pickwick, I do not see why a man should
feel any fear in such a case as this, sir. What is it, Sir? There's
nothing to be ashamed of; it's a matter of mutual accommodation,
nothing more. Husband on one side, wife on the other. That's
my view of the matter, Mr. Pickwick.'
'It is a very philosophical one,' replied Mr. Pickwick. 'But
breakfast is waiting, Mr. Magnus. Come.'
Down they sat to breakfast, but it was evident, notwithstanding
the boasting of Mr. Peter Magnus, that he laboured
under a very considerable degree of nervousness, of which loss of
appetite, a propensity to upset the tea-things, a spectral attempt
at drollery, and an irresistible inclination to look at the clock,
every other second, were among the principal symptoms.
'He-he-he,'tittered Mr. Magnus, affecting cheerfulness, and
gasping with agitation. 'It only wants two minutes, Mr. Pickwick.
Am I pale, Sir?'
'Not very,' replied Mr. Pickwick.
There was a brief pause.
'I beg your pardon, Mr. Pickwick; but have you ever done this
sort of thing in your time?' said Mr. Magnus.
'You mean proposing?' said Mr. Pickwick.
'Never,' said Mr. Pickwick, with great energy, 'never.'
'You have no idea, then, how it's best to begin?' said Mr. Magnus.
'Why,' said Mr. Pickwick, 'I may have formed some ideas
upon the subject, but, as I have never submitted them to the test
of experience, I should be sorry if you were induced to regulate
your proceedings by them.'
'I should feel very much obliged to you, for any advice, Sir,'
said Mr. Magnus, taking another look at the clock, the hand of
which was verging on the five minutes past.
'Well, sir,' said Mr. Pickwick, with the profound solemnity
with which that great man could, when he pleased, render his
remarks so deeply impressive. 'I should commence, sir, with a
tribute to the lady's beauty and excellent qualities; from them,
Sir, I should diverge to my own unworthiness.'
'Very good,' said Mr. Magnus.
'Unworthiness for HER only, mind, sir,' resumed Mr. Pickwick;
'for to show that I was not wholly unworthy, sir, I should take a
brief review of my past life, and present condition. I should argue,
by analogy, that to anybody else, I must be a very desirable
object. I should then expatiate on the warmth of my love, and
the depth of my devotion. Perhaps I might then be tempted to
seize her hand.'
'Yes, I see,' said Mr. Magnus; 'that would be a very great point.'
'I should then, Sir,' continued Mr. Pickwick, growing warmer
as the subject presented itself in more glowing colours before
him--'I should then, Sir, come to the plain and simple question,
"Will you have me?" I think I am justified in assuming that
upon this, she would turn away her head.'
'You think that may be taken for granted?' said Mr. Magnus;
'because, if she did not do that at the right place, it would
'I think she would,' said Mr. Pickwick. 'Upon this, sir, I
should squeeze her hand, and I think--I think, Mr. Magnus--
that after I had done that, supposing there was no refusal, I
should gently draw away the handkerchief, which my slight
knowledge of human nature leads me to suppose the lady would
be applying to her eyes at the moment, and steal a respectful kiss.
I think I should kiss her, Mr. Magnus; and at this particular
point, I am decidedly of opinion that if the lady were going to
take me at all, she would murmur into my ears a bashful acceptance.'
Mr. Magnus started; gazed on Mr. Pickwick's intelligent face,
for a short time in silence; and then (the dial pointing to the ten
minutes past) shook him warmly by the hand, and rushed
desperately from the room.
Mr. Pickwick had taken a few strides to and fro; and the small
hand of the clock following the latter part of his example, had
arrived at the figure which indicates the half-hour, when the door
suddenly opened. He turned round to meet Mr. Peter Magnus,
and encountered, in his stead, the joyous face of Mr. Tupman,
the serene countenance of Mr. Winkle, and the intellectual
lineaments of Mr. Snodgrass. As Mr. Pickwick greeted them,
Mr. Peter Magnus tripped into the room.
'My friends, the gentleman I was speaking of--Mr. Magnus,'
said Mr. Pickwick.
'Your servant, gentlemen,' said Mr. Magnus, evidently in a
high state of excitement; 'Mr. Pickwick, allow me to speak to you
one moment, sir.'
As he said this, Mr. Magnus harnessed his forefinger to Mr.
Pickwick's buttonhole, and, drawing him to a window recess, said--
'Congratulate me, Mr. Pickwick; I followed your advice to the
'And it was all correct, was it?' inquired Mr. Pickwick.
'It was, Sir. Could not possibly have been better,' replied Mr.
Magnus. 'Mr. Pickwick, she is mine.'
'I congratulate you, with all my heart,' replied Mr. Pickwick,
warmly shaking his new friend by the hand.
'You must see her. Sir,' said Mr. Magnus; 'this way, if you
please. Excuse us for one instant, gentlemen.' Hurrying on in
this way, Mr. Peter Magnus drew Mr. Pickwick from the room.
He paused at the next door in the passage, and tapped gently thereat.
'Come in,' said a female voice. And in they went.
'Miss Witherfield,' said Mr. Magnus, 'allow me to introduce
my very particular friend, Mr. Pickwick. Mr. Pickwick, I beg to
make you known to Miss Witherfield.'
The lady was at the upper end of the room. As Mr. Pickwick
bowed, he took his spectacles from his waistcoat pocket, and put
them on; a process which he had no sooner gone through, than,
uttering an exclamation of surprise, Mr. Pickwick retreated
several paces, and the lady, with a half-suppressed scream, hid
her face in her hands, and dropped into a chair; whereupon
Mr. Peter Magnus was stricken motionless on the spot, and gazed
from one to the other, with a countenance expressive of the
extremities of horror and surprise.
This certainly was, to all appearance, very unaccountable
behaviour; but the fact is, that Mr. Pickwick no sooner put on
his spectacles, than he at once recognised in the future Mrs.
Magnus the lady into whose room he had so unwarrantably
intruded on the previous night; and the spectacles had no sooner
crossed Mr. Pickwick's nose, than the lady at once identified the
countenance which she had seen surrounded by all the horrors of
a nightcap. So the lady screamed, and Mr. Pickwick started.
'Mr. Pickwick!' exclaimed Mr. Magnus, lost in astonishment,
'what is the meaning of this, Sir? What is the meaning of it, Sir?'
added Mr. Magnus, in a threatening, and a louder tone.
'Sir,' said Mr. Pickwick, somewhat indignant at the very sudden
manner in which Mr. Peter Magnus had conjugated himself into
the imperative mood, 'I decline answering that question.'
'You decline it, Sir?' said Mr. Magnus.
'I do, Sir,' replied Mr. Pickwick; 'I object to say anything
which may compromise that lady, or awaken unpleasant recollections
in her breast, without her consent and permission.'
'Miss Witherfield,' said Mr. Peter Magnus, 'do you know this person?'
'Know him!' repeated the middle-aged lady, hesitating.
'Yes, know him, ma'am; I said know him,' replied Mr.
Magnus, with ferocity.
'I have seen him,' replied the middle-aged lady.
'Where?' inquired Mr. Magnus, 'where?'
'That,' said the middle-aged lady, rising from her seat, and
averting her head--'that I would not reveal for worlds.'
'I understand you, ma'am,' said Mr. Pickwick, 'and respect
your delicacy; it shall never be revealed by ME depend upon it.'
'Upon my word, ma'am,' said Mr. Magnus, 'considering the
situation in which I am placed with regard to yourself, you carry
this matter off with tolerable coolness--tolerable coolness, ma'am.'
'Cruel Mr. Magnus!' said the middle-aged lady; here she wept
very copiously indeed.
'Address your observations to me, sir,' interposed Mr. Pickwick;
'I alone am to blame, if anybody be.'
'Oh! you alone are to blame, are you, sir?' said Mr. Magnus;
'I--I--see through this, sir. You repent of your determination
now, do you?'
'My determination!' said Mr. Pickwick.
'Your determination, Sir. Oh! don't stare at me, Sir,' said
Mr. Magnus; 'I recollect your words last night, Sir. You came
down here, sir, to expose the treachery and falsehood of an
individual on whose truth and honour you had placed implicit
reliance--eh?' Here Mr. Peter Magnus indulged in a prolonged
sneer; and taking off his green spectacles--which he probably
found superfluous in his fit of jealousy--rolled his little eyes
about, in a manner frightful to behold.
'Eh?' said Mr. Magnus; and then he repeated the sneer with
increased effect. 'But you shall answer it, Sir.'
'Answer what?' said Mr. Pickwick.
'Never mind, sir,' replied Mr. Magnus, striding up and down
the room. 'Never mind.'
There must be something very comprehensive in this phrase of
'Never mind,' for we do not recollect to have ever witnessed a
quarrel in the street, at a theatre, public room, or elsewhere, in
which it has not been the standard reply to all belligerent inquiries.
'Do you call yourself a gentleman, sir?'--'Never mind, sir.' 'Did
I offer to say anything to the young woman, sir?'--'Never mind,
sir.' 'Do you want your head knocked up against that wall, sir?'
--'Never mind, sir.' It is observable, too, that there would appear
to be some hidden taunt in this universal 'Never mind,' which
rouses more indignation in the bosom of the individual addressed,
than the most lavish abuse could possibly awaken.
We do not mean to assert that the application of this brevity
to himself, struck exactly that indignation to Mr. Pickwick's
soul, which it would infallibly have roused in a vulgar breast.
We merely record the fact that Mr. Pickwick opened the room
door, and abruptly called out, 'Tupman, come here!'
Mr. Tupman immediately presented himself, with a look of
very considerable surprise.
'Tupman,' said Mr. Pickwick, 'a secret of some delicacy, in
which that lady is concerned, is the cause of a difference which
has just arisen between this gentleman and myself. When I assure
him, in your presence, that it has no relation to himself, and is
not in any way connected with his affairs, I need hardly beg you
to take notice that if he continue to dispute it, he expresses a
doubt of my veracity, which I shall consider extremely insulting.'
As Mr. Pickwick said this, he looked encyclopedias at Mr. Peter
Mr. Pickwick's upright and honourable bearing, coupled with
that force and energy of speech which so eminently distinguished
him, would have carried conviction to any reasonable mind; but,
unfortunately, at that particular moment, the mind of Mr. Peter
Magnus was in anything but reasonable order. Consequently,
instead of receiving Mr. Pickwick's explanation as he ought to
have done, he forthwith proceeded to work himself into a red-
hot, scorching, consuming passion, and to talk about what was
due to his own feelings, and all that sort of thing; adding force to
his declamation by striding to and fro, and pulling his hair--
amusements which he would vary occasionally, by shaking his
fist in Mr. Pickwick's philanthropic countenance.
Mr. Pickwick, in his turn, conscious of his own innocence and
rectitude, and irritated by having unfortunately involved the
middle-aged lady in such an unpleasant affair, was not so quietly
disposed as was his wont. The consequence was, that words ran
high, and voices higher; and at length Mr. Magnus told Mr.
Pickwick he should hear from him; to which Mr. Pickwick
replied, with laudable politeness, that the sooner he heard from
him the better; whereupon the middle-aged lady rushed in
terror from the room, out of which Mr. Tupman dragged Mr.
Pickwick, leaving Mr. Peter Magnus to himself and meditation.
If the middle-aged lady had mingled much with the busy world,
or had profited at all by the manners and customs of those who
make the laws and set the fashions, she would have known that
this sort of ferocity is the most harmless thing in nature; but as
she had lived for the most part in the country, and never read the
parliamentary debates, she was little versed in these particular
refinements of civilised life. Accordingly, when she had gained
her bedchamber, bolted herself in, and began to meditate on the
scene she had just witnessed, the most terrific pictures of slaughter
and destruction presented themselves to her imagination; among
which, a full-length portrait of Mr. Peter Magnus borne home
by four men, with the embellishment of a whole barrelful of
bullets in his left side, was among the very least. The more the
middle-aged lady meditated, the more terrified she became; and
at length she determined to repair to the house of the principal
magistrate of the town, and request him to secure the persons of
Mr. Pickwick and Mr. Tupman without delay.
To this decision the middle-aged lady was impelled by a variety
of considerations, the chief of which was the incontestable proof
it would afford of her devotion to Mr. Peter Magnus, and her
anxiety for his safety. She was too well acquainted with his
jealous temperament to venture the slightest allusion to the real
cause of her agitation on beholding Mr. Pickwick; and she
trusted to her own influence and power of persuasion with the
little man, to quell his boisterous jealousy, supposing that Mr.
Pickwick were removed, and no fresh quarrel could arise. Filled
with these reflections, the middle-aged lady arrayed herself in her
bonnet and shawl, and repaired to the mayor's dwelling straightway.
Now George Nupkins, Esquire, the principal magistrate
aforesaid, was as grand a personage as the fastest walker would
find out, between sunrise and sunset, on the twenty-first of June,
which being, according to the almanacs, the longest day in the
whole year, would naturally afford him the longest period for his
search. On this particular morning, Mr. Nupkins was in a state
of the utmost excitement and irritation, for there had been a
rebellion in the town; all the day-scholars at the largest day-
school had conspired to break the windows of an obnoxious
apple-seller, and had hooted the beadle and pelted the
constabulary--an elderly gentleman in top-boots, who had been
called out to repress the tumult, and who had been a peace-
officer, man and boy, for half a century at least. And Mr. Nupkins
was sitting in his easy-chair, frowning with majesty, and boiling
with rage, when a lady was announced on pressing, private, and
particular business. Mr. Nupkins looked calmly terrible, and
commanded that the lady should be shown in; which command,
like all the mandates of emperors, and magistrates, and other
great potentates of the earth, was forthwith obeyed; and Miss
Witherfield, interestingly agitated, was ushered in accordingly.
'Muzzle!' said the magistrate.
Muzzle was an undersized footman, with a long body and
'Yes, your Worship.'
'Place a chair, and leave the room.'
'Yes, your Worship.'
'Now, ma'am, will you state your business?' said the magistrate.
'It is of a very painful kind, Sir,' said Miss Witherfield.
'Very likely, ma'am,' said the magistrate. 'Compose your
feelings, ma'am.' Here Mr. Nupkins looked benignant. 'And
then tell me what legal business brings you here, ma'am.' Here
the magistrate triumphed over the man; and he looked stern again.
'It is very distressing to me, Sir, to give this information,' said
Miss Witherfield, 'but I fear a duel is going to be fought here.'
'Here, ma'am?' said the magistrate. 'Where, ma'am?'
'In Ipswich, ma'am! A duel in Ipswich!' said the magistrate,
perfectly aghast at the notion. 'Impossible, ma'am; nothing of the
kind can be contemplated in this town, I am persuaded. Bless
my soul, ma'am, are you aware of the activity of our local
magistracy? Do you happen to have heard, ma'am, that I
rushed into a prize-ring on the fourth of May last, attended by
only sixty special constables; and, at the hazard of falling a
sacrifice to the angry passions of an infuriated multitude,
prohibited a pugilistic contest between the Middlesex Dumpling and
the Suffolk Bantam? A duel in Ipswich, ma'am? I don't think--