Full Text Archive logoFull Text Archive — Books, poems, drama…

The Pickwick Papers by Charles Dickens

Part 3 out of 20

Adobe PDF icon
Download this document as a .pdf
File size: 2.2 MB
What's this? light bulb idea Many people prefer to read off-line or to print out text and read from the real printed page. Others want to carry documents around with them on their mobile phones and read while they are on the move. We have created .pdf files of all out documents to accommodate all these groups of people. We recommend that you download .pdfs onto your mobile phone when it is connected to a WiFi connection for reading off-line.

opened, and a group of little children bounded out, shouting and
romping. The father, with a little boy in his arms, appeared at the
door, and they crowded round him, clapping their tiny hands,
and dragging him out, to join their joyous sports. The convict
thought on the many times he had shrunk from his father's sight
in that very place. He remembered how often he had buried his
trembling head beneath the bedclothes, and heard the harsh word,
and the hard stripe, and his mother's wailing; and though the
man sobbed aloud with agony of mind as he left the spot, his fist
was clenched, and his teeth were set, in a fierce and deadly passion.

'And such was the return to which he had looked through the
weary perspective of many years, and for which he had undergone
so much suffering! No face of welcome, no look of forgiveness,
no house to receive, no hand to help him--and this too in the old
village. What was his loneliness in the wild, thick woods, where
man was never seen, to this!

'He felt that in the distant land of his bondage and infamy, he
had thought of his native place as it was when he left it; and not
as it would be when he returned. The sad reality struck coldly at
his heart, and his spirit sank within him. He had not courage to
make inquiries, or to present himself to the only person who was
likely to receive him with kindness and compassion. He walked
slowly on; and shunning the roadside like a guilty man, turned
into a meadow he well remembered; and covering his face with
his hands, threw himself upon the grass.

'He had not observed that a man was lying on the bank beside
him; his garments rustled as he turned round to steal a look at
the new-comer; and Edmunds raised his head.

'The man had moved into a sitting posture. His body was much
bent, and his face was wrinkled and yellow. His dress denoted
him an inmate of the workhouse: he had the appearance of being
very old, but it looked more the effect of dissipation or disease,
than the length of years. He was staring hard at the stranger, and
though his eyes were lustreless and heavy at first, they appeared
to glow with an unnatural and alarmed expression after they had
been fixed upon him for a short time, until they seemed to be
starting from their sockets. Edmunds gradually raised himself to
his knees, and looked more and more earnestly on the old man's
face. They gazed upon each other in silence.

'The old man was ghastly pale. He shuddered and tottered to
his feet. Edmunds sprang to his. He stepped back a pace or two.
Edmunds advanced.

'"Let me hear you speak," said the convict, in a thick, broken voice.

'"Stand off!" cried the old man, with a dreadful oath. The
convict drew closer to him.

'"Stand off!" shrieked the old man. Furious with terror, he
raised his stick, and struck Edmunds a heavy blow across the face.

'"Father--devil!" murmured the convict between his set
teeth. He rushed wildly forward, and clenched the old man by
the throat--but he was his father; and his arm fell powerless by
his side.

'The old man uttered a loud yell which rang through the
lonely fields like the howl of an evil spirit. His face turned black,
the gore rushed from his mouth and nose, and dyed the grass a
deep, dark red, as he staggered and fell. He had ruptured a
blood-vessel, and he was a dead man before his son could raise him.
'In that corner of the churchyard,' said the old gentleman, after
a silence of a few moments, 'in that corner of the churchyard of
which I have before spoken, there lies buried a man who was in
my employment for three years after this event, and who was
truly contrite, penitent, and humbled, if ever man was. No one
save myself knew in that man's lifetime who he was, or whence he
came--it was John Edmunds, the returned convict.'

CHAPTER VII
HOW Mr. WINKLE, INSTEAD OF SHOOTING AT THE PIGEON
AND KILLING THE CROW, SHOT AT THE CROW AND
WOUNDED THE PIGEON; HOW THE DINGLEY DELL
CRICKET CLUB PLAYED ALL-MUGGLETON, AND HOW ALL-
MUGGLETON DINED AT THE DINGLEY DELL EXPENSE;
WITH OTHER INTERESTING AND INSTRUCTIVE MATTERS

The fatiguing adventures of the day or the somniferous influence
of the clergyman's tale operated so strongly on the drowsy
tendencies of Mr. Pickwick, that in less than five minutes
after he had been shown to his comfortable bedroom he fell
into a sound and dreamless sleep, from which he was only awakened
by the morning sun darting his bright beams reproachfully into the
apartment. Mr. Pickwick was no sluggard, and he sprang like an
ardent warrior from his tent-bedstead.

'Pleasant, pleasant country,' sighed the enthusiastic gentleman,
as he opened his lattice window. 'Who could live to gaze from
day to day on bricks and slates who had once felt the influence of
a scene like this? Who could continue to exist where there are no
cows but the cows on the chimney-pots; nothing redolent of Pan
but pan-tiles; no crop but stone crop? Who could bear to drag
out a life in such a spot? Who, I ask, could endure it?' and,
having cross-examined solitude after the most approved precedents,
at considerable length, Mr. Pickwick thrust his head out
of the lattice and looked around him.

The rich, sweet smell of the hay-ricks rose to his chamber
window; the hundred perfumes of the little flower-garden
beneath scented the air around; the deep-green meadows shone
in the morning dew that glistened on every leaf as it trembled
in the gentle air; and the birds sang as if every sparkling drop
were to them a fountain of inspiration. Mr. Pickwick fell into an
enchanting and delicious reverie.

'Hollo!' was the sound that roused him.

He looked to the right, but he saw nobody; his eyes wandered
to the left, and pierced the prospect; he stared into the sky, but he
wasn't wanted there; and then he did what a common mind
would have done at once--looked into the garden, and there saw
Mr. Wardle.
'How are you?' said the good-humoured individual, out of
breath with his own anticipations of pleasure.'Beautiful morning,
ain't it? Glad to see you up so early. Make haste down, and
come out. I'll wait for you here.'
Mr. Pickwick needed no second invitation. Ten minutes
sufficed for the completion of his toilet, and at the expiration of
that time he was by the old gentleman's side.

'Hollo!' said Mr. Pickwick in his turn, seeing that his
companion was armed with a gun, and that another lay ready on the
grass; 'what's going forward?'

'Why, your friend and I,' replied the host, 'are going out rook-
shooting before breakfast. He's a very good shot, ain't he?'

'I've heard him say he's a capital one,' replied Mr. Pickwick,
'but I never saw him aim at anything.'

'Well,' said the host, 'I wish he'd come. Joe--Joe!'

The fat boy, who under the exciting influence of the morning
did not appear to be more than three parts and a fraction asleep,
emerged from the house.

'Go up, and call the gentleman, and tell him he'll find me and
Mr. Pickwick in the rookery. Show the gentleman the way there;
d'ye hear?'

The boy departed to execute his commission; and the host,
carrying both guns like a second Robinson Crusoe, led the way
from the garden.

'This is the place,' said the old gentleman, pausing after a few
minutes walking, in an avenue of trees. The information was
unnecessary; for the incessant cawing of the unconscious rooks
sufficiently indicated their whereabouts.

The old gentleman laid one gun on the ground, and loaded the other.

'Here they are,' said Mr. Pickwick; and, as he spoke, the
forms of Mr. Tupman, Mr. Snodgrass, and Mr. Winkle appeared
in the distance. The fat boy, not being quite certain which
gentleman he was directed to call, had with peculiar sagacity, and
to prevent the possibility of any mistake, called them all.

'Come along,' shouted the old gentleman, addressing Mr.
Winkle; 'a keen hand like you ought to have been up long ago,
even to such poor work as this.'

Mr. Winkle responded with a forced smile, and took up the
spare gun with an expression of countenance which a metaphysical
rook, impressed with a foreboding of his approaching
death by violence, may be supposed to assume. It might have
been keenness, but it looked remarkably like misery.
The old gentleman nodded; and two ragged boys who had
been marshalled to the spot under the direction of the infant
Lambert, forthwith commenced climbing up two of the trees.
'What are these lads for?' inquired Mr. Pickwick abruptly. He
was rather alarmed; for he was not quite certain but that the
distress of the agricultural interest, about which he had often
heard a great deal, might have compelled the small boys attached
to the soil to earn a precarious and hazardous subsistence by
making marks of themselves for inexperienced sportsmen.
'Only to start the game,' replied Mr. Wardle, laughing.

'To what?' inquired Mr. Pickwick.

'Why, in plain English, to frighten the rooks.'

'Oh, is that all?'

'You are satisfied?'

'Quite.'

'Very well. Shall I begin?'

'If you please,' said Mr. Winkle, glad of any respite.

'Stand aside, then. Now for it.'

The boy shouted, and shook a branch with a nest on it. Half a
dozen young rooks in violent conversation, flew out to ask what
the matter was. The old gentleman fired by way of reply. Down
fell one bird, and off flew the others.

'Take him up, Joe,' said the old gentleman.

There was a smile upon the youth's face as he advanced.
Indistinct visions of rook-pie floated through his imagination.
He laughed as he retired with the bird--it was a plump one.

'Now, Mr. Winkle,' said the host, reloading his own gun.
'Fire away.'

Mr. Winkle advanced, and levelled his gun. Mr. Pickwick and
his friends cowered involuntarily to escape damage from the
heavy fall of rooks, which they felt quite certain would be
occasioned by the devastating barrel of their friend. There was a
solemn pause--a shout--a flapping of wings--a faint click.

'Hollo!' said the old gentleman.

'Won't it go?' inquired Mr. Pickwick.

'Missed fire,' said Mr. Winkle, who was very pale--probably
from disappointment.

'Odd,' said the old gentleman, taking the gun. 'Never knew one
of them miss fire before. Why, I don't see anything of the cap.'
'Bless my soul!' said Mr. Winkle, 'I declare I forgot the cap!'

The slight omission was rectified. Mr. Pickwick crouched
again. Mr. Winkle stepped forward with an air of determination
and resolution; and Mr. Tupman looked out from behind a tree.
The boy shouted; four birds flew out. Mr. Winkle fired. There
was a scream as of an individual--not a rook--in corporal
anguish. Mr. Tupman had saved the lives of innumerable
unoffending birds by receiving a portion of the charge in his left arm.

To describe the confusion that ensued would be impossible.
To tell how Mr. Pickwick in the first transports of emotion called
Mr. Winkle 'Wretch!' how Mr. Tupman lay prostrate on the
ground; and how Mr. Winkle knelt horror-stricken beside him;
how Mr. Tupman called distractedly upon some feminine
Christian name, and then opened first one eye, and then the
other, and then fell back and shut them both--all this would be
as difficult to describe in detail, as it would be to depict the
gradual recovering of the unfortunate individual, the binding up
of his arm with pocket-handkerchiefs, and the conveying him
back by slow degrees supported by the arms of his anxious friends.

They drew near the house. The ladies were at the garden gate,
waiting for their arrival and their breakfast. The spinster aunt
appeared; she smiled, and beckoned them to walk quicker. 'Twas
evident she knew not of the disaster. Poor thing! there are times
when ignorance is bliss indeed.

They approached nearer.

'Why, what is the matter with the little old gentleman?' said
Isabella Wardle. The spinster aunt heeded not the remark; she
thought it applied to Mr. Pickwick. In her eyes Tracy Tupman
was a youth; she viewed his years through a diminishing glass.

'Don't be frightened,' called out the old host, fearful of
alarming his daughters. The little party had crowded so
completely round Mr. Tupman, that they could not yet clearly
discern the nature of the accident.

'Don't be frightened,' said the host.

'What's the matter?' screamed the ladies.

'Mr. Tupman has met with a little accident; that's all.'

The spinster aunt uttered a piercing scream, burst into an
hysteric laugh, and fell backwards in the arms of her nieces.

'Throw some cold water over her,' said the old gentleman.

'No, no,' murmured the spinster aunt; 'I am better now.
Bella, Emily--a surgeon! Is he wounded?--Is he dead?--Is
he-- Ha, ha, ha!' Here the spinster aunt burst into fit number
two, of hysteric laughter interspersed with screams.

'Calm yourself,' said Mr. Tupman, affected almost to tears by
this expression of sympathy with his sufferings. 'Dear, dear
madam, calm yourself.'

'It is his voice!' exclaimed the spinster aunt; and strong
symptoms of fit number three developed themselves forthwith.

'Do not agitate yourself, I entreat you, dearest madam,' said
Mr. Tupman soothingly. 'I am very little hurt, I assure you.'

'Then you are not dead!' ejaculated the hysterical lady. 'Oh,
say you are not dead!'

'Don't be a fool, Rachael,' interposed Mr. Wardle, rather
more roughly than was consistent with the poetic nature of the
scene. 'What the devil's the use of his saying he isn't dead?'

'No, no, I am not,' said Mr. Tupman. 'I require no assistance
but yours. Let me lean on your arm.' He added, in a whisper,
'Oh, Miss Rachael!' The agitated female advanced, and offered
her arm. They turned into the breakfast parlour. Mr. Tracy
Tupman gently pressed her hand to his lips, and sank upon the sofa.

'Are you faint?' inquired the anxious Rachael.

'No,' said Mr. Tupman. 'It is nothing. I shall be better
presently.' He closed his eyes.

'He sleeps,' murmured the spinster aunt. (His organs of vision
had been closed nearly twenty seconds.) 'Dear--dear--Mr. Tupman!'

Mr. Tupman jumped up--'Oh, say those words again!' he exclaimed.

The lady started. 'Surely you did not hear them!' she
said bashfully.

'Oh, yes, I did!' replied Mr. Tupman; 'repeat them. If you
would have me recover, repeat them.'
'Hush!' said the lady. 'My brother.'
Mr. Tracy Tupman resumed his former position; and Mr.
Wardle, accompanied by a surgeon, entered the room.

The arm was examined, the wound dressed, and pronounced
to be a very slight one; and the minds of the company having
been thus satisfied, they proceeded to satisfy their appetites with
countenances to which an expression of cheerfulness was again
restored. Mr. Pickwick alone was silent and reserved. Doubt and
distrust were exhibited in his countenance. His confidence in
Mr. Winkle had been shaken--greatly shaken--by the proceedings
of the morning.
'Are you a cricketer?' inquired Mr. Wardle of the marksman.

At any other time, Mr. Winkle would have replied in the
affirmative. He felt the delicacy of his situation, and modestly
replied, 'No.'

'Are you, sir?' inquired Mr. Snodgrass.

'I was once upon a time,' replied the host; 'but I have given it
up now. I subscribe to the club here, but I don't play.'

'The grand match is played to-day, I believe,' said Mr. Pickwick.

'It is,' replied the host. 'Of course you would like to see it.'

'I, sir,' replied Mr. Pickwick, 'am delighted to view any sports
which may be safely indulged in, and in which the impotent
effects of unskilful people do not endanger human life.' Mr.
Pickwick paused, and looked steadily on Mr. Winkle, who
quailed beneath his leader's searching glance. The great man
withdrew his eyes after a few minutes, and added: 'Shall we be
justified in leaving our wounded friend to the care of the ladies?'

'You cannot leave me in better hands,' said Mr. Tupman.

'Quite impossible,' said Mr. Snodgrass.

It was therefore settled that Mr. Tupman should be left at
home in charge of the females; and that the remainder of the
guests, under the guidance of Mr. Wardle, should proceed to the
spot where was to be held that trial of skill, which had roused all
Muggleton from its torpor, and inoculated Dingley Dell with a
fever of excitement.

As their walk, which was not above two miles long, lay
through shady lanes and sequestered footpaths, and as their
conversation turned upon the delightful scenery by which they
were on every side surrounded, Mr. Pickwick was almost
inclined to regret the expedition they had used, when he found
himself in the main street of the town of Muggleton.
Everybody whose genius has a topographical bent knows
perfectly well that Muggleton is a corporate town, with a mayor,
burgesses, and freemen; and anybody who has consulted the
addresses of the mayor to the freemen, or the freemen to the
mayor, or both to the corporation, or all three to Parliament, will
learn from thence what they ought to have known before, that
Muggleton is an ancient and loyal borough, mingling a zealous
advocacy of Christian principles with a devoted attachment to
commercial rights; in demonstration whereof, the mayor,
corporation, and other inhabitants, have presented at divers
times, no fewer than one thousand four hundred and twenty
petitions against the continuance of negro slavery abroad, and
an equal number against any interference with the factory system
at home; sixty-eight in favour of the sale of livings in the Church,
and eighty-six for abolishing Sunday trading in the street.

Mr. Pickwick stood in the principal street of this illustrious
town, and gazed with an air of curiosity, not unmixed with
interest, on the objects around him. There was an open square
for the market-place; and in the centre of it, a large inn with a
sign-post in front, displaying an object very common in art, but
rarely met with in nature--to wit, a blue lion, with three bow legs
in the air, balancing himself on the extreme point of the centre
claw of his fourth foot. There were, within sight, an auctioneer's
and fire-agency office, a corn-factor's, a linen-draper's, a
saddler's, a distiller's, a grocer's, and a shoe-shop--the last-
mentioned warehouse being also appropriated to the diffusion of
hats, bonnets, wearing apparel, cotton umbrellas, and useful
knowledge. There was a red brick house with a small paved
courtyard in front, which anybody might have known belonged
to the attorney; and there was, moreover, another red brick
house with Venetian blinds, and a large brass door-plate with a
very legible announcement that it belonged to the surgeon. A few
boys were making their way to the cricket-field; and two or three
shopkeepers who were standing at their doors looked as if they
should like to be making their way to the same spot, as indeed to
all appearance they might have done, without losing any great
amount of custom thereby. Mr. Pickwick having paused to make
these observations, to be noted down at a more convenient
period, hastened to rejoin his friends, who had turned out
of the main street, and were already within sight of the field
of battle.

The wickets were pitched, and so were a couple of marquees
for the rest and refreshment of the contending parties. The game
had not yet commenced. Two or three Dingley Dellers, and All-
Muggletonians, were amusing themselves with a majestic air by
throwing the ball carelessly from hand to hand; and several other
gentlemen dressed like them, in straw hats, flannel jackets, and
white trousers--a costume in which they looked very much like
amateur stone-masons--were sprinkled about the tents, towards
one of which Mr. Wardle conducted the party.

Several dozen of 'How-are-you's?' hailed the old gentleman's
arrival; and a general raising of the straw hats, and bending
forward of the flannel jackets, followed his introduction of his
guests as gentlemen from London, who were extremely anxious
to witness the proceedings of the day, with which, he had no
doubt, they would be greatly delighted.

'You had better step into the marquee, I think, Sir,' said one
very stout gentleman, whose body and legs looked like half a
gigantic roll of flannel, elevated on a couple of inflated pillow-cases.

'You'll find it much pleasanter, Sir,' urged another stout
gentleman, who strongly resembled the other half of the roll of
flannel aforesaid.

'You're very good,' said Mr. Pickwick.

'This way,' said the first speaker; 'they notch in here--it's the
best place in the whole field;' and the cricketer, panting on before,
preceded them to the tent.

'Capital game--smart sport--fine exercise--very,' were the
words which fell upon Mr. Pickwick's ear as he entered the tent;
and the first object that met his eyes was his green-coated friend
of the Rochester coach, holding forth, to the no small delight and
edification of a select circle of the chosen of All-Muggleton. His
dress was slightly improved, and he wore boots; but there was no
mistaking him.

The stranger recognised his friends immediately; and, darting
forward and seizing Mr. Pickwick by the hand, dragged him to a
seat with his usual impetuosity, talking all the while as if the
whole of the arrangements were under his especial patronage
and direction.

'This way--this way--capital fun--lots of beer--hogsheads;
rounds of beef--bullocks; mustard--cart-loads; glorious day--
down with you--make yourself at home--glad to see you--
very.'

Mr. Pickwick sat down as he was bid, and Mr. Winkle and
Mr. Snodgrass also complied with the directions of their
mysterious friend. Mr. Wardle looked on in silent wonder.

'Mr. Wardle--a friend of mine,' said Mr. Pickwick.

'Friend of yours!--My dear sir, how are you?--Friend of my
friend's--give me your hand, sir'--and the stranger grasped
Mr. Wardle's hand with all the fervour of a close intimacy of
many years, and then stepped back a pace or two as if to take a
full survey of his face and figure, and then shook hands with him
again, if possible, more warmly than before.

'Well; and how came you here?' said Mr. Pickwick, with a
smile in which benevolence struggled with surprise.
'Come,' replied the stranger--'stopping at Crown--Crown at
Muggleton--met a party--flannel jackets--white trousers--
anchovy sandwiches--devilled kidney--splendid fellows--glorious.'

Mr. Pickwick was sufficiently versed in the stranger's system of
stenography to infer from this rapid and disjointed communication
that he had, somehow or other, contracted an acquaintance
with the All-Muggletons, which he had converted, by a process
peculiar to himself, into that extent of good-fellowship on which
a general invitation may be easily founded. His curiosity was
therefore satisfied, and putting on his spectacles he prepared
himself to watch the play which was just commencing.

All-Muggleton had the first innings; and the interest became
intense when Mr. Dumkins and Mr. Podder, two of the most
renowned members of that most distinguished club, walked, bat
in hand, to their respective wickets. Mr. Luffey, the highest
ornament of Dingley Dell, was pitched to bowl against the
redoubtable Dumkins, and Mr. Struggles was selected to do the
same kind office for the hitherto unconquered Podder. Several
players were stationed, to 'look out,' in different parts of the
field, and each fixed himself into the proper attitude by placing
one hand on each knee, and stooping very much as if he were
'making a back' for some beginner at leap-frog. All the regular
players do this sort of thing;--indeed it is generally supposed that
it is quite impossible to look out properly in any other position.

The umpires were stationed behind the wickets; the scorers
were prepared to notch the runs; a breathless silence ensued.
Mr. Luffey retired a few paces behind the wicket of the passive
Podder, and applied the ball to his right eye for several seconds.
Dumkins confidently awaited its coming with his eyes fixed on the
motions of Luffey.

'Play!' suddenly cried the bowler. The ball flew from his hand
straight and swift towards the centre stump of the wicket. The
wary Dumkins was on the alert: it fell upon the tip of the bat, and
bounded far away over the heads of the scouts, who had just
stooped low enough to let it fly over them.

'Run--run--another.--Now, then throw her up--up with her--stop
there--another--no--yes--no--throw her up, throw her
up!'--Such were the shouts which followed the stroke; and at the
conclusion of which All-Muggleton had scored two. Nor was
Podder behindhand in earning laurels wherewith to garnish
himself and Muggleton. He blocked the doubtful balls, missed the
bad ones, took the good ones, and sent them flying to all parts of
the field. The scouts were hot and tired; the bowlers were
changed and bowled till their arms ached; but Dumkins and
Podder remained unconquered. Did an elderly gentleman essay
to stop the progress of the ball, it rolled between his legs or
slipped between his fingers. Did a slim gentleman try to catch it,
it struck him on the nose, and bounded pleasantly off with
redoubled violence, while the slim gentleman's eyes filled with
water, and his form writhed with anguish. Was it thrown straight
up to the wicket, Dumkins had reached it before the ball. In
short, when Dumkins was caught out, and Podder stumped out,
All-Muggleton had notched some fifty-four, while the score of
the Dingley Dellers was as blank as their faces. The advantage
was too great to be recovered. In vain did the eager Luffey, and
the enthusiastic Struggles, do all that skill and experience could
suggest, to regain the ground Dingley Dell had lost in the contest
--it was of no avail; and in an early period of the winning game
Dingley Dell gave in, and allowed the superior prowess of All-Muggleton.

The stranger, meanwhile, had been eating, drinking, and
talking, without cessation. At every good stroke he expressed his
satisfaction and approval of the player in a most condescending
and patronising manner, which could not fail to have been
highly gratifying to the party concerned; while at every bad
attempt at a catch, and every failure to stop the ball, he launched
his personal displeasure at the head of the devoted individual in
such denunciations as--'Ah, ah!--stupid'--'Now, butter-
fingers'--'Muff'--'Humbug'--and so forth--ejaculations which
seemed to establish him in the opinion of all around, as a most
excellent and undeniable judge of the whole art and mystery of
the noble game of cricket.

'Capital game--well played--some strokes admirable,' said the
stranger, as both sides crowded into the tent, at the conclusion of
the game.

'You have played it, sir?' inquired Mr. Wardle, who had been
much amused by his loquacity.
'Played it! Think I have--thousands of times--not here--West
Indies--exciting thing--hot work--very.'
'It must be rather a warm pursuit in such a climate,' observed
Mr. Pickwick.

'Warm!--red hot--scorching--glowing. Played a match once--single wicket--friend the
colonel--Sir Thomas Blazo--who
should get the greatest number of runs.--Won the toss--first
innings--seven o'clock A.m.--six natives to look out--went in;
kept in--heat intense--natives all fainted--taken away--fresh
half-dozen ordered--fainted also--Blazo bowling--supported by
two natives--couldn't bowl me out--fainted too--cleared away
the colonel--wouldn't give in--faithful attendant--Quanko
Samba--last man left--sun so hot, bat in blisters, ball scorched
brown--five hundred and seventy runs--rather exhausted--
Quanko mustered up last remaining strength--bowled me out--
had a bath, and went out to dinner.'

'And what became of what's-his-name, Sir?' inquired an
old gentleman.

'Blazo?'

'No--the other gentleman.'
'Quanko Samba?'

'Yes, sir.'

'Poor Quanko--never recovered it--bowled on, on my account
--bowled off, on his own--died, sir.' Here the stranger buried his
countenance in a brown jug, but whether to hide his emotion or
imbibe its contents, we cannot distinctly affirm. We only know
that he paused suddenly, drew a long and deep breath, and
looked anxiously on, as two of the principal members of the
Dingley Dell club approached Mr. Pickwick, and said--

'We are about to partake of a plain dinner at the Blue Lion,
Sir; we hope you and your friends will join us.'
'Of course,' said Mr. Wardle, 'among our friends we include
Mr.--;' and he looked towards the stranger.

'Jingle,' said that versatile gentleman, taking the hint at once.
'Jingle--Alfred Jingle, Esq., of No Hall, Nowhere.'

'I shall be very happy, I am sure,' said Mr. Pickwick.
'So shall I,' said Mr. Alfred Jingle, drawing one arm through
Mr. Pickwick's, and another through Mr. Wardle's, as he
whispered confidentially in the ear of the former gentleman:--

'Devilish good dinner--cold, but capital--peeped into the
room this morning--fowls and pies, and all that sort of thing--
pleasant fellows these--well behaved, too--very.'

There being no further preliminaries to arrange, the company
straggled into the town in little knots of twos and threes; and
within a quarter of an hour were all seated in the great room of
the Blue Lion Inn, Muggleton--Mr. Dumkins acting as chairman,
and Mr. Luffey officiating as vice.

There was a vast deal of talking and rattling of knives and
forks, and plates; a great running about of three ponderous-
headed waiters, and a rapid disappearance of the substantial
viands on the table; to each and every of which item of confusion,
the facetious Mr. Jingle lent the aid of half-a-dozen ordinary men
at least. When everybody had eaten as much as possible, the cloth
was removed, bottles, glasses, and dessert were placed on the
table; and the waiters withdrew to 'clear away,'or in other words,
to appropriate to their own private use and emolument whatever
remnants of the eatables and drinkables they could contrive to
lay their hands on.

Amidst the general hum of mirth and conversation that ensued,
there was a little man with a puffy Say-nothing-to-me,-or-I'll-
contradict-you sort of countenance, who remained very quiet;
occasionally looking round him when the conversation slackened,
as if he contemplated putting in something very weighty; and
now and then bursting into a short cough of inexpressible
grandeur. At length, during a moment of comparative silence, the
little man called out in a very loud, solemn voice,--

'Mr. Luffey!'

Everybody was hushed into a profound stillness as the individual
addressed, replied--

'Sir!'

'I wish to address a few words to you, Sir, if you will entreat the
gentlemen to fill their glasses.'

Mr. Jingle uttered a patronising 'Hear, hear,' which was
responded to by the remainder of the company; and the glasses
having been filled, the vice-president assumed an air of wisdom
in a state of profound attention; and said--

'Mr. Staple.'

'Sir,' said the little man, rising, 'I wish to address what I have
to say to you and not to our worthy chairman, because our
worthy chairman is in some measure--I may say in a great degree
--the subject of what I have to say, or I may say to--to--'
'State,' suggested Mr. Jingle.

'Yes, to state,' said the little man, 'I thank my honourable
friend, if he will allow me to call him so (four hears and one
certainly from Mr. Jingle), for the suggestion. Sir, I am a Deller
--a Dingley Deller (cheers). I cannot lay claim to the honour of
forming an item in the population of Muggleton; nor, Sir, I will
frankly admit, do I covet that honour: and I will tell you why, Sir
(hear); to Muggleton I will readily concede all these honours and
distinctions to which it can fairly lay claim--they are too numerous
and too well known to require aid or recapitulation from me.
But, sir, while we remember that Muggleton has given birth to a
Dumkins and a Podder, let us never forget that Dingley Dell can
boast a Luffey and a Struggles. (Vociferous cheering.) Let me not
be considered as wishing to detract from the merits of the former
gentlemen. Sir, I envy them the luxury of their own feelings on
this occasion. (Cheers.) Every gentleman who hears me, is
probably acquainted with the reply made by an individual, who
--to use an ordinary figure of speech--"hung out" in a tub, to
the emperor Alexander:--"if I were not Diogenes," said he, "I
would be Alexander." I can well imagine these gentlemen to say,
"If I were not Dumkins I would be Luffey; if I were not Podder
I would be Struggles." (Enthusiasm.) But, gentlemen of Muggleton,
is it in cricket alone that your fellow-townsmen stand pre-eminent?
Have you never heard of Dumkins and determination?
Have you never been taught to associate Podder with property?
(Great applause.) Have you never, when struggling for your
rights, your liberties, and your privileges, been reduced, if only
for an instant, to misgiving and despair? And when you have
been thus depressed, has not the name of Dumkins laid afresh
within your breast the fire which had just gone out; and has not a
word from that man lighted it again as brightly as if it had never
expired? (Great cheering.) Gentlemen, I beg to surround with a
rich halo of enthusiastic cheering the united names of "Dumkins
and Podder."'

Here the little man ceased, and here the company commenced
a raising of voices, and thumping of tables, which lasted with
little intermission during the remainder of the evening. Other
toasts were drunk. Mr. Luffey and Mr. Struggles, Mr. Pickwick
and Mr. Jingle, were, each in his turn, the subject of unqualified
eulogium; and each in due course returned thanks for the honour.

Enthusiastic as we are in the noble cause to which we have
devoted ourselves, we should have felt a sensation of pride which
we cannot express, and a consciousness of having done something
to merit immortality of which we are now deprived, could we
have laid the faintest outline on these addresses before our ardent
readers. Mr. Snodgrass, as usual, took a great mass of notes,
which would no doubt have afforded most useful and valuable
information, had not the burning eloquence of the words or the
feverish influence of the wine made that gentleman's hand so
extremely unsteady, as to render his writing nearly unintelligible,
and his style wholly so. By dint of patient investigation, we have
been enabled to trace some characters bearing a faint resemblance
to the names of the speakers; and we can only discern an entry of
a song (supposed to have been sung by Mr. Jingle), in which the
words 'bowl' 'sparkling' 'ruby' 'bright' and 'wine' are frequently
repeated at short intervals. We fancy, too, that we can discern at
the very end of the notes, some indistinct reference to 'broiled
bones'; and then the words 'cold' 'without' occur: but as any
hypothesis we could found upon them must necessarily rest upon
mere conjecture, we are not disposed to indulge in any of the
speculations to which they may give rise.

We will therefore return to Mr. Tupman; merely adding that
within some few minutes before twelve o'clock that night, the
convocation of worthies of Dingley Dell and Muggleton were
heard to sing, with great feeling and emphasis, the beautiful and
pathetic national air of
'We won't go home till morning,
We won't go home till morning,
We won't go home till morning,
Till daylight doth appear.'

CHAPTER VIII
STRONGLY ILLUSTRATIVE OF THE POSITION, THAT THE
COURSE OF TRUE LOVE IS NOT A RAILWAY

The quiet seclusion of Dingley Dell, the presence of so many
of the gentler sex, and the solicitude and anxiety they evinced
in his behalf, were all favourable to the growth and development
of those softer feelings which nature had implanted deep in the
bosom of Mr. Tracy Tupman, and which now appeared destined to
centre in one lovely object. The young ladies were pretty,
their manners winning, their dispositions unexceptionable; but
there was a dignity in the air, a touch-me-not-ishness in the
walk, a majesty in the eye, of the spinster aunt, to which, at their
time of life, they could lay no claim, which distinguished her
from any female on whom Mr. Tupman had ever gazed. That there
was something kindred in their nature, something congenial in
their souls, something mysteriously sympathetic in their bosoms,
was evident. Her name was the first that rose to Mr. Tupman's
lips as he lay wounded on the grass; and her hysteric laughter
was the first sound that fell upon his ear when he was supported
to the house. But had her agitation arisen from an amiable and
feminine sensibility which would have been equally irrepressible
in any case; or had it been called forth by a more ardent and
passionate feeling, which he, of all men living, could alone
awaken? These were the doubts which racked his brain as he lay
extended on the sofa; these were the doubts which he determined
should be at once and for ever resolved.

it was evening. Isabella and Emily had strolled out with
Mr. Trundle; the deaf old lady had fallen asleep in her chair; the
snoring of the fat boy, penetrated in a low and monotonous
sound from the distant kitchen; the buxom servants were
lounging at the side door, enjoying the pleasantness of the hour,
and the delights of a flirtation, on first principles, with certain
unwieldy animals attached to the farm; and there sat the interesting
pair, uncared for by all, caring for none, and dreaming only
of themselves; there they sat, in short, like a pair of carefully-
folded kid gloves--bound up in each other.

'I have forgotten my flowers,' said the spinster aunt.

'Water them now,' said Mr. Tupman, in accents of persuasion.

'You will take cold in the evening air,' urged the spinster aunt
affectionately.

'No, no,' said Mr. Tupman, rising; 'it will do me good. Let me
accompany you.'

The lady paused to adjust the sling in which the left arm of the
youth was placed, and taking his right arm led him to the garden.

There was a bower at the farther end, with honeysuckle,
jessamine, and creeping plants--one of those sweet retreats
which humane men erect for the accommodation of spiders.

The spinster aunt took up a large watering-pot which lay in
one corner, and was about to leave the arbour. Mr. Tupman
detained her, and drew her to a seat beside him.

'Miss Wardle!' said he.
The spinster aunt trembled, till some pebbles which had
accidentally found their way into the large watering-pot shook
like an infant's rattle.

'Miss Wardle,' said Mr. Tupman, 'you are an angel.'

'Mr. Tupman!' exclaimed Rachael, blushing as red as the
watering-pot itself.

'Nay,' said the eloquent Pickwickian--'I know it but too well.'

'All women are angels, they say,' murmured the lady playfully.

'Then what can you be; or to what, without presumption, can
I compare you?' replied Mr. Tupman. 'Where was the woman
ever seen who resembled you? Where else could I hope to find so
rare a combination of excellence and beauty? Where else could
I seek to-- Oh!' Here Mr. Tupman paused, and pressed the
hand which clasped the handle of the happy watering-pot.

The lady turned aside her head. 'Men are such deceivers,' she
softly whispered.

'They are, they are,' ejaculated Mr. Tupman; 'but not all men.
There lives at least one being who can never change--one being
who would be content to devote his whole existence to your
happiness--who lives but in your eyes--who breathes but in your
smiles--who bears the heavy burden of life itself only for you.'

'Could such an individual be found--' said the lady.

'But he CAN be found,' said the ardent Mr. Tupman, interposing.
'He IS found. He is here, Miss Wardle.' And ere the lady
was aware of his intention, Mr. Tupman had sunk upon his knees
at her feet.

'Mr. Tupman, rise,' said Rachael.

'Never!' was the valorous reply. 'Oh, Rachael!' He seized her
passive hand, and the watering-pot fell to the ground as he
pressed it to his lips.--'Oh, Rachael! say you love me.'

'Mr. Tupman,' said the spinster aunt, with averted head, 'I
can hardly speak the words; but--but--you are not wholly
indifferent to me.'

Mr. Tupman no sooner heard this avowal, than he proceeded
to do what his enthusiastic emotions prompted, and what, for
aught we know (for we are but little acquainted with such
matters), people so circumstanced always do. He jumped up, and,
throwing his arm round the neck of the spinster aunt, imprinted
upon her lips numerous kisses, which after a due show of
struggling and resistance, she received so passively, that there is
no telling how many more Mr. Tupman might have bestowed, if
the lady had not given a very unaffected start, and exclaimed in
an affrighted tone--

'Mr. Tupman, we are observed!--we are discovered!'

Mr. Tupman looked round. There was the fat boy, perfectly
motionless, with his large circular eyes staring into the arbour, but
without the slightest expression on his face that the most expert
physiognomist could have referred to astonishment, curiosity, or
any other known passion that agitates the human breast. Mr.
Tupman gazed on the fat boy, and the fat boy stared at him; and
the longer Mr. Tupman observed the utter vacancy of the fat
boy's countenance, the more convinced he became that he either
did not know, or did not understand, anything that had been
going forward. Under this impression, he said with great firmness--

'What do you want here, Sir?'

'Supper's ready, sir,' was the prompt reply.

'Have you just come here, sir?' inquired Mr. Tupman, with a
piercing look.

'Just,' replied the fat boy.

Mr. Tupman looked at him very hard again; but there was not
a wink in his eye, or a curve in his face.

Mr. Tupman took the arm of the spinster aunt, and walked
towards the house; the fat boy followed behind.

'He knows nothing of what has happened,'he whispered.

'Nothing,' said the spinster aunt.

There was a sound behind them, as of an imperfectly suppressed
chuckle. Mr. Tupman turned sharply round. No; it could not
have been the fat boy; there was not a gleam of mirth, or anything
but feeding in his whole visage.

'He must have been fast asleep,' whispered Mr. Tupman.

'I have not the least doubt of it,' replied the spinster aunt.

They both laughed heartily.

Mr, Tupman was wrong. The fat boy, for once, had not been
fast asleep. He was awake--wide awake--to what had been going forward.

The supper passed off without any attempt at a general
conversation. The old lady had gone to bed; Isabella Wardle
devoted herself exclusively to Mr. Trundle; the spinster's attentions
were reserved for Mr. Tupman; and Emily's thoughts
appeared to be engrossed by some distant object--possibly they
were with the absent Snodgrass.

Eleven--twelve--one o'clock had struck, and the gentlemen
had not arrived. Consternation sat on every face. Could they
have been waylaid and robbed? Should they send men and
lanterns in every direction by which they could be supposed
likely to have travelled home? or should they-- Hark! there
they were. What could have made them so late? A strange voice,
too! To whom could it belong? They rushed into the kitchen,
whither the truants had repaired, and at once obtained rather
more than a glimmering of the real state of the case.

Mr. Pickwick, with his hands in his pockets and his hat
cocked completely over his left eye, was leaning against the
dresser, shaking his head from side to side, and producing a
constant succession of the blandest and most benevolent smiles
without being moved thereunto by any discernible cause or
pretence whatsoever; old Mr. Wardle, with a highly-inflamed
countenance, was grasping the hand of a strange gentleman
muttering protestations of eternal friendship; Mr. Winkle,
supporting himself by the eight-day clock, was feebly invoking
destruction upon the head of any member of the family who
should suggest the propriety of his retiring for the night; and
Mr. Snodgrass had sunk into a chair, with an expression of the
most abject and hopeless misery that the human mind can
imagine, portrayed in every lineament of his expressive face.

'is anything the matter?' inquired the three ladies.

'Nothing the matter,' replied Mr. Pickwick. 'We--we're--all
right.--I say, Wardle, we're all right, ain't we?'

'I should think so,' replied the jolly host.--'My dears, here's my
friend Mr. Jingle--Mr. Pickwick's friend, Mr. Jingle, come 'pon
--little visit.'

'Is anything the matter with Mr. Snodgrass, Sir?' inquired
Emily, with great anxiety.

'Nothing the matter, ma'am,' replied the stranger. 'Cricket
dinner--glorious party--capital songs--old port--claret--good
--very good--wine, ma'am--wine.'

'It wasn't the wine,' murmured Mr. Snodgrass, in a broken
voice. 'It was the salmon.' (Somehow or other, it never is the
wine, in these cases.)

'Hadn't they better go to bed, ma'am?' inquired Emma. 'Two
of the boys will carry the gentlemen upstairs.'

'I won't go to bed,' said Mr. Winkle firmly.

'No living boy shall carry me,' said Mr. Pickwick stoutly; and
he went on smiling as before.
'Hurrah!' gasped Mr. Winkle faintly.

'Hurrah!' echoed Mr. Pickwick, taking off his hat and dashing
it on the floor, and insanely casting his spectacles into the middle
of the kitchen. At this humorous feat he laughed outright.

'Let's--have--'nother--bottle,'cried Mr. Winkle, commencing
in a very loud key, and ending in a very faint one. His head
dropped upon his breast; and, muttering his invincible determination
not to go to his bed, and a sanguinary regret that he had
not 'done for old Tupman' in the morning, he fell fast asleep; in
which condition he was borne to his apartment by two young
giants under the personal superintendence of the fat boy, to
whose protecting care Mr. Snodgrass shortly afterwards confided
his own person, Mr. Pickwick accepted the proffered arm of
Mr. Tupman and quietly disappeared, smiling more than ever;
and Mr. Wardle, after taking as affectionate a leave of the whole
family as if he were ordered for immediate execution, consigned
to Mr. Trundle the honour of conveying him upstairs, and
retired, with a very futile attempt to look impressively solemn
and dignified.
'What a shocking scene!' said the spinster aunt.

'Dis-gusting!' ejaculated both the young ladies.

'Dreadful--dreadful!' said Jingle, looking very grave: he was
about a bottle and a half ahead of any of his companions.
'Horrid spectacle--very!'

'What a nice man!' whispered the spinster aunt to Mr. Tupman.

'Good-looking, too!' whispered Emily Wardle.

'Oh, decidedly,' observed the spinster aunt.

Mr. Tupman thought of the widow at Rochester, and his mind
was troubled. The succeeding half-hour's conversation was not
of a nature to calm his perturbed spirit. The new visitor was very
talkative, and the number of his anecdotes was only to be
exceeded by the extent of his politeness. Mr. Tupman felt that as
Jingle's popularity increased, he (Tupman) retired further into the
shade. His laughter was forced--his merriment feigned; and
when at last he laid his aching temples between the sheets, he
thought, with horrid delight, on the satisfaction it would afford
him to have Jingle's head at that moment between the feather bed
and the mattress.

The indefatigable stranger rose betimes next morning, and,
although his companions remained in bed overpowered with the
dissipation of the previous night, exerted himself most successfully
to promote the hilarity of the breakfast-table. So successful
were his efforts, that even the deaf old lady insisted on having one
or two of his best jokes retailed through the trumpet; and even
she condescended to observe to the spinster aunt, that 'He'
(meaning Jingle) 'was an impudent young fellow:' a sentiment in
which all her relations then and there present thoroughly
coincided.

It was the old lady's habit on the fine summer mornings to
repair to the arbour in which Mr. Tupman had already signalised
himself, in form and manner following: first, the fat boy fetched
from a peg behind the old lady's bedroom door, a close black
satin bonnet, a warm cotton shawl, and a thick stick with a
capacious handle; and the old lady, having put on the bonnet and
shawl at her leisure, would lean one hand on the stick and the
other on the fat boy's shoulder, and walk leisurely to the arbour,
where the fat boy would leave her to enjoy the fresh air for the
space of half an hour; at the expiration of which time he would
return and reconduct her to the house.

The old lady was very precise and very particular; and as this
ceremony had been observed for three successive summers
without the slightest deviation from the accustomed form,
she was not a little surprised on this particular morning to see
the fat boy, instead of leaving the arbour, walk a few paces out
of it, look carefully round him in every direction, and return
towards her with great stealth and an air of the most profound mystery.

The old lady was timorous--most old ladies are--and her first
impression was that the bloated lad was about to do her some
grievous bodily harm with the view of possessing himself of her
loose coin. She would have cried for assistance, but age and
infirmity had long ago deprived her of the power of screaming;
she, therefore, watched his motions with feelings of intense horror
which were in no degree diminished by his coming close up to her,
and shouting in her ear in an agitated, and as it seemed to her, a
threatening tone--

'Missus!'

Now it so happened that Mr. Jingle was walking in the garden
close to the arbour at that moment. He too heard the shouts of
'Missus,' and stopped to hear more. There were three reasons for
his doing so. In the first place, he was idle and curious; secondly,
he was by no means scrupulous; thirdly, and lastly, he was
concealed from view by some flowering shrubs. So there he
stood, and there he listened.

'Missus!' shouted the fat boy.

'Well, Joe,' said the trembling old lady. 'I'm sure I have been
a good mistress to you, Joe. You have invariably been treated
very kindly. You have never had too much to do; and you have
always had enough to eat.'

This last was an appeal to the fat boy's most sensitive feelings.
He seemed touched, as he replied emphatically--
'I knows I has.'

'Then what can you want to do now?' said the old lady,
gaining courage.

'I wants to make your flesh creep,' replied the boy.

This sounded like a very bloodthirsty mode of showing one's
gratitude; and as the old lady did not precisely understand the
process by which such a result was to be attained, all her former
horrors returned.

'What do you think I see in this very arbour last night?'
inquired the boy.

'Bless us! What?' exclaimed the old lady, alarmed at the
solemn manner of the corpulent youth.

'The strange gentleman--him as had his arm hurt--a-kissin'
and huggin'--'

'Who, Joe? None of the servants, I hope.'
'Worser than that,' roared the fat boy, in the old lady's ear.

'Not one of my grandda'aters?'

'Worser than that.'

'Worse than that, Joe!' said the old lady, who had thought this
the extreme limit of human atrocity. 'Who was it, Joe? I insist
upon knowing.'

The fat boy looked cautiously round, and having concluded
his survey, shouted in the old lady's ear--

'Miss Rachael.'

'What!' said the old lady, in a shrill tone. 'Speak louder.'

'Miss Rachael,' roared the fat boy.

'My da'ater!'

The train of nods which the fat boy gave by way of assent,
communicated a blanc-mange like motion to his fat cheeks.

'And she suffered him!' exclaimed the old lady.
A grin stole over the fat boy's features as he said--

'I see her a-kissin' of him agin.'

If Mr. Jingle, from his place of concealment, could have
beheld the expression which the old lady's face assumed at this
communication, the probability is that a sudden burst of
laughter would have betrayed his close vicinity to the summer-
house. He listened attentively. Fragments of angry sentences such
as, 'Without my permission!'--'At her time of life'--'Miserable
old 'ooman like me'--'Might have waited till I was dead,' and so
forth, reached his ears; and then he heard the heels of the fat
boy's boots crunching the gravel, as he retired and left the old
lady alone.

It was a remarkable coincidence perhaps, but it was nevertheless
a fact, that Mr. Jingle within five minutes of his arrival at Manor
Farm on the preceding night, had inwardly resolved to lay siege
to the heart of the spinster aunt, without delay. He had observation
enough to see, that his off-hand manner was by no means
disagreeable to the fair object of his attack; and he had more
than a strong suspicion that she possessed that most desirable of
all requisites, a small independence. The imperative necessity of
ousting his rival by some means or other, flashed quickly upon
him, and he immediately resolved to adopt certain proceedings
tending to that end and object, without a moment's delay.
Fielding tells us that man is fire, and woman tow, and the Prince
of Darkness sets a light to 'em. Mr. Jingle knew that young men,
to spinster aunts, are as lighted gas to gunpowder, and he
determined to essay the effect of an explosion without loss of time.

Full of reflections upon this important decision, he crept from
his place of concealment, and, under cover of the shrubs before
mentioned, approached the house. Fortune seemed determined to
favour his design. Mr. Tupman and the rest of the gentlemen left
the garden by the side gate just as he obtained a view of it; and
the young ladies, he knew, had walked out alone, soon after
breakfast. The coast was clear.

The breakfast-parlour door was partially open. He peeped in.
The spinster aunt was knitting. He coughed; she looked up and
smiled. Hesitation formed no part of Mr. Alfred Jingle's
character. He laid his finger on his lips mysteriously, walked in,
and closed the door.

'Miss Wardle,' said Mr. Jingle, with affected earnestness,
'forgive intrusion--short acquaintance--no time for ceremony--
all discovered.'

'Sir!' said the spinster aunt, rather astonished by the unexpected
apparition and somewhat doubtful of Mr. Jingle's sanity.

'Hush!' said Mr. Jingle, in a stage-whisper--'Large boy--
dumpling face--round eyes--rascal!' Here he shook his head
expressively, and the spinster aunt trembled with agitation.

'I presume you allude to Joseph, Sir?' said the lady, making an
effort to appear composed.

'Yes, ma'am--damn that Joe!--treacherous dog, Joe--told the
old lady--old lady furious--wild--raving--arbour--Tupman--
kissing and hugging--all that sort of thing--eh, ma'am--eh?'

'Mr. Jingle,' said the spinster aunt, 'if you come here, Sir, to
insult me--'

'Not at all--by no means,' replied the unabashed Mr. Jingle--
'overheard the tale--came to warn you of your danger--tender
my services--prevent the hubbub. Never mind--think it an
insult--leave the room'--and he turned, as if to carry the threat
into execution.

'What SHALL I do!' said the poor spinster, bursting into tears.
'My brother will be furious.'

'Of course he will,' said Mr. Jingle pausing--'outrageous.'
'Oh, Mr. Jingle, what CAN I say!' exclaimed the spinster aunt, in
another flood of despair.

'Say he dreamt it,' replied Mr. Jingle coolly.

A ray of comfort darted across the mind of the spinster aunt at
this suggestion. Mr. Jingle perceived it, and followed up his advantage.

'Pooh, pooh!--nothing more easy--blackguard boy--lovely
woman--fat boy horsewhipped--you believed--end of the
matter--all comfortable.'

Whether the probability of escaping from the consequences of
this ill-timed discovery was delightful to the spinster's feelings, or
whether the hearing herself described as a 'lovely woman'
softened the asperity of her grief, we know not. She blushed
slightly, and cast a grateful look on Mr. Jingle.

That insinuating gentleman sighed deeply, fixed his eyes on the
spinster aunt's face for a couple of minutes, started melodramatically,
and suddenly withdrew them.

'You seem unhappy, Mr. Jingle,' said the lady, in a plaintive
voice. 'May I show my gratitude for your kind interference,
by inquiring into the cause, with a view, if possible, to its removal?'

'Ha!' exclaimed Mr. Jingle, with another start--'removal!
remove my unhappiness, and your love bestowed upon a man
who is insensible to the blessing--who even now contemplates a
design upon the affections of the niece of the creature who--but
no; he is my friend; I will not expose his vices. Miss Wardle--
farewell!' At the conclusion of this address, the most consecutive
he was ever known to utter, Mr. Jingle applied to his eyes the
remnant of a handkerchief before noticed, and turned towards
the door.

'Stay, Mr. Jingle!' said the spinster aunt emphatically. 'You
have made an allusion to Mr. Tupman--explain it.'

'Never!' exclaimed Jingle, with a professional (i.e., theatrical)
air. 'Never!' and, by way of showing that he had no desire to be
questioned further, he drew a chair close to that of the spinster
aunt and sat down.

'Mr. Jingle,' said the aunt, 'I entreat--I implore you, if there
is any dreadful mystery connected with Mr. Tupman, reveal it.'

'Can I,' said Mr. Jingle, fixing his eyes on the aunt's face--
'can I see--lovely creature--sacrificed at the shrine--
heartless avarice!' He appeared to be struggling with various
conflicting emotions for a few seconds, and then said in a low voice--

'Tupman only wants your money.'

'The wretch!' exclaimed the spinster, with energetic indignation.
(Mr. Jingle's doubts were resolved. She HAD money.)

'More than that,' said Jingle--'loves another.'

'Another!' ejaculated the spinster. 'Who?'
'Short girl--black eyes--niece Emily.'

There was a pause.

Now, if there was one individual in the whole world, of whom
the spinster aunt entertained a mortal and deep-rooted jealousy,
it was this identical niece. The colour rushed over her face and
neck, and she tossed her head in silence with an air of ineffable
contempt. At last, biting her thin lips, and bridling up, she said--

'It can't be. I won't believe it.'

'Watch 'em,' said Jingle.

'I will,' said the aunt.

'Watch his looks.'

'I will.'

'His whispers.'

'I will.'

'He'll sit next her at table.'

'Let him.'

'He'll flatter her.'

'Let him.'

'He'll pay her every possible attention.'

'Let him.'

'And he'll cut you.'

'Cut ME!' screamed the spinster aunt. 'HE cut ME; will he!' and
she trembled with rage and disappointment.

'You will convince yourself?' said Jingle.

'I will.'

'You'll show your spirit?'

'I will.'
'You'll not have him afterwards?'

'Never.'

'You'll take somebody else?'
'Yes.'

'You shall.'

Mr. Jingle fell on his knees, remained thereupon for five
minutes thereafter; and rose the accepted lover of the spinster
aunt--conditionally upon Mr. Tupman's perjury being made
clear and manifest.

The burden of proof lay with Mr. Alfred Jingle; and he
produced his evidence that very day at dinner. The spinster aunt
could hardly believe her eyes. Mr. Tracy Tupman was established
at Emily's side, ogling, whispering, and smiling, in opposition to
Mr. Snodgrass. Not a word, not a look, not a glance, did he
bestow upon his heart's pride of the evening before.

'Damn that boy!' thought old Mr. Wardle to himself.--He had
heard the story from his mother. 'Damn that boy! He must have
been asleep. It's all imagination.'

'Traitor!' thought the spinster aunt. 'Dear Mr. Jingle was not
deceiving me. Ugh! how I hate the wretch!'

The following conversation may serve to explain to our readers
this apparently unaccountable alteration of deportment on the
part of Mr. Tracy Tupman.

The time was evening; the scene the garden. There were two
figures walking in a side path; one was rather short and stout;
the other tall and slim. They were Mr. Tupman and Mr. Jingle.
The stout figure commenced the dialogue.

'How did I do it?' he inquired.

'Splendid--capital--couldn't act better myself--you must
repeat the part to-morrow--every evening till further notice.'

'Does Rachael still wish it?'

'Of course--she don't like it--but must be done--avert
suspicion--afraid of her brother--says there's no help for it--
only a few days more--when old folks blinded--crown your happiness.'

'Any message?'

'Love--best love--kindest regards--unalterable affection.
Can I say anything for you?'

'My dear fellow,' replied the unsuspicious Mr. Tupman,
fervently grasping his 'friend's' hand--'carry my best love--say
how hard I find it to dissemble--say anything that's kind: but add
how sensible I am of the necessity of the suggestion she made to
me, through you, this morning. Say I applaud her wisdom and
admire her discretion.'
'I will. Anything more?'

'Nothing, only add how ardently I long for the time when I
may call her mine, and all dissimulation may be unnecessary.'

'Certainly, certainly. Anything more?'

'Oh, my friend!' said poor Mr. Tupman, again grasping the
hand of his companion, 'receive my warmest thanks for your
disinterested kindness; and forgive me if I have ever, even in
thought, done you the injustice of supposing that you could stand
in my way. My dear friend, can I ever repay you?'

'Don't talk of it,' replied Mr. Jingle. He stopped short, as if
suddenly recollecting something, and said--'By the bye--can't
spare ten pounds, can you?--very particular purpose--pay you
in three days.'

'I dare say I can,' replied Mr. Tupman, in the fulness of his
heart. 'Three days, you say?'

'Only three days--all over then--no more difficulties.'
Mr. Tupman counted the money into his companion's hand,
and he dropped it piece by piece into his pocket, as they walked
towards the house.

'Be careful,' said Mr. Jingle--'not a look.'

'Not a wink,' said Mr. Tupman.

'Not a syllable.'

'Not a whisper.'

'All your attentions to the niece--rather rude, than otherwise,
to the aunt--only way of deceiving the old ones.'

'I'll take care,' said Mr. Tupman aloud.

'And I'LL take care,' said Mr. Jingle internally; and they
entered the house.

The scene of that afternoon was repeated that evening, and on
the three afternoons and evenings next ensuing. On the fourth,
the host was in high spirits, for he had satisfied himself that there
was no ground for the charge against Mr. Tupman. So was Mr.
Tupman, for Mr. Jingle had told him that his affair would soon
be brought to a crisis. So was Mr. Pickwick, for he was seldom
otherwise. So was not Mr. Snodgrass, for he had grown jealous
of Mr. Tupman. So was the old lady, for she had been winning
at whist. So were Mr. Jingle and Miss Wardle, for reasons of
sufficient importance in this eventful history to be narrated in
another chapter.

CHAPTER IX
A DISCOVERY AND A CHASE

The supper was ready laid, the chairs were drawn round the
table, bottles, jugs, and glasses were arranged upon the
sideboard, and everything betokened the approach of the most
convivial period in the whole four-and-twenty hours.

'Where's Rachael?' said Mr. Wardle.

'Ay, and Jingle?' added Mr. Pickwick.

'Dear me,' said the host, 'I wonder I haven't missed him before.
Why, I don't think I've heard his voice for two hours at least.
Emily, my dear, ring the bell.'

The bell was rung, and the fat boy appeared.

'Where's Miss Rachael?' He couldn't say.
'Where's Mr. Jingle, then?' He didn't know.
Everybody looked surprised. It was late--past eleven o'clock.
Mr. Tupman laughed in his sleeve. They were loitering somewhere,
talking about him. Ha, ha! capital notion that--funny.

'Never mind,' said Wardle, after a short pause. 'They'll turn up
presently, I dare say. I never wait supper for anybody.'

'Excellent rule, that,' said Mr. Pickwick--'admirable.'

'Pray, sit down,' said the host.

'Certainly' said Mr. Pickwick; and down they sat.

There was a gigantic round of cold beef on the table, and
Mr. Pickwick was supplied with a plentiful portion of it. He had
raised his fork to his lips, and was on the very point of opening
his mouth for the reception of a piece of beef, when the hum of
many voices suddenly arose in the kitchen. He paused, and laid
down his fork. Mr. Wardle paused too, and insensibly released
his hold of the carving-knife, which remained inserted
in the beef. He looked at Mr. Pickwick. Mr. Pickwick looked
at him.

Heavy footsteps were heard in the passage; the parlour door
was suddenly burst open; and the man who had cleaned Mr.
Pickwick's boots on his first arrival, rushed into the room,
followed by the fat boy and all the domestics.
'What the devil's the meaning of this?' exclaimed the host.

'The kitchen chimney ain't a-fire, is it, Emma?' inquired the
old lady.
'Lor, grandma! No,' screamed both the young ladies.

'What's the matter?' roared the master of the house.

The man gasped for breath, and faintly ejaculated--

'They ha' gone, mas'r!--gone right clean off, Sir!' (At this
juncture Mr. Tupman was observed to lay down his knife and
fork, and to turn very pale.)

'Who's gone?' said Mr. Wardle fiercely.

'Mus'r Jingle and Miss Rachael, in a po'-chay, from Blue Lion,
Muggleton. I was there; but I couldn't stop 'em; so I run off to
tell 'ee.'

'I paid his expenses!' said Mr. Tupman, jumping up frantically.
'He's got ten pounds of mine!--stop him!--he's swindled me!--
I won't bear it!--I'll have justice, Pickwick!--I won't stand it!'
and with sundry incoherent exclamations of the like nature, the
unhappy gentleman spun round and round the apartment, in a
transport of frenzy.

'Lord preserve us!' ejaculated Mr. Pickwick, eyeing the
extraordinary gestures of his friend with terrified surprise. 'He's
gone mad! What shall we do?'
'Do!' said the stout old host, who regarded only the last words
of the sentence. 'Put the horse in the gig! I'll get a chaise at the
Lion, and follow 'em instantly. Where?'--he exclaimed, as the
man ran out to execute the commission--'where's that villain, Joe?'

'Here I am! but I hain't a willin,' replied a voice. It was the
fat boy's.

'Let me get at him, Pickwick,' cried Wardle, as he rushed at the
ill-starred youth. 'He was bribed by that scoundrel, Jingle, to put
me on a wrong scent, by telling a cock-and-bull story of my
sister and your friend Tupman!' (Here Mr. Tupman sank into a
chair.) 'Let me get at him!'

'Don't let him!' screamed all the women, above whose
exclamations the blubbering of the fat boy was distinctly audible.

'I won't be held!' cried the old man. 'Mr. Winkle, take your
hands off. Mr. Pickwick, let me go, sir!'

It was a beautiful sight, in that moment of turmoil and confusion,
to behold the placid and philosophical expression of
Mr. Pickwick's face, albeit somewhat flushed with exertion, as he
stood with his arms firmly clasped round the extensive waist of
their corpulent host, thus restraining the impetuosity of his
passion, while the fat boy was scratched, and pulled, and pushed
from the room by all the females congregated therein. He had no
sooner released his hold, than the man entered to announce that
the gig was ready.

'Don't let him go alone!' screamed the females. 'He'll kill
somebody!'

'I'll go with him,' said Mr. Pickwick.

'You're a good fellow, Pickwick,' said the host, grasping his
hand. 'Emma, give Mr. Pickwick a shawl to tie round his neck--
make haste. Look after your grandmother, girls; she has fainted
away. Now then, are you ready?'

Mr. Pickwick's mouth and chin having been hastily enveloped
in a large shawl, his hat having been put on his head, and his
greatcoat thrown over his arm, he replied in the affirmative.

They jumped into the gig. 'Give her her head, Tom,' cried the
host; and away they went, down the narrow lanes; jolting in and
out of the cart-ruts, and bumping up against the hedges on either
side, as if they would go to pieces every moment.

'How much are they ahead?' shouted Wardle, as they drove up
to the door of the Blue Lion, round which a little crowd had
collected, late as it was.

'Not above three-quarters of an hour,' was everybody's reply.
'Chaise-and-four directly!--out with 'em! Put up the gig
afterwards.'

'Now, boys!' cried the landlord--'chaise-and-four out--make
haste--look alive there!'

Away ran the hostlers and the boys. The lanterns glimmered,
as the men ran to and fro; the horses' hoofs clattered on the
uneven paving of the yard; the chaise rumbled as it was drawn out
of the coach-house; and all was noise and bustle.

'Now then!--is that chaise coming out to-night?' cried Wardle.

'Coming down the yard now, Sir,' replied the hostler.

Out came the chaise--in went the horses--on sprang the boys
--in got the travellers.

'Mind--the seven-mile stage in less than half an hour!'
shouted Wardle.

'Off with you!'

The boys applied whip and spur, the waiters shouted, the
hostlers cheered, and away they went, fast and furiously.

'Pretty situation,' thought Mr. Pickwick, when he had had a
moment's time for reflection. 'Pretty situation for the general
chairman of the Pickwick Club. Damp chaise--strange horses--
fifteen miles an hour--and twelve o'clock at night!'

For the first three or four miles, not a word was spoken by
either of the gentlemen, each being too much immersed in his own
reflections to address any observations to his companion. When
they had gone over that much ground, however, and the horses
getting thoroughly warmed began to do their work in really
good style, Mr. Pickwick became too much exhilarated with the
rapidity of the motion, to remain any longer perfectly mute.

'We're sure to catch them, I think,' said he.

'Hope so,' replied his companion.

'Fine night,' said Mr. Pickwick, looking up at the moon, which
was shining brightly.

'So much the worse,' returned Wardle; 'for they'll have had all
the advantage of the moonlight to get the start of us, and we shall
lose it. It will have gone down in another hour.'

'It will be rather unpleasant going at this rate in the dark,
won't it?' inquired Mr. Pickwick.

'I dare say it will,' replied his friend dryly.

Mr. Pickwick's temporary excitement began to sober down a
little, as he reflected upon the inconveniences and dangers of
the expedition in which he had so thoughtlessly embarked.
He was roused by a loud shouting of the post-boy on the leader.

'Yo-yo-yo-yo-yoe!' went the first boy.

'Yo-yo-yo-yoe!' went the second.

'Yo-yo-yo-yoe!' chimed in old Wardle himself, most
lustily, with his head and half his body out of the coach window.

'Yo-yo-yo-yoe!' shouted Mr. Pickwick, taking up the
burden of the cry, though he had not the slightest notion of its
meaning or object. And amidst the yo-yoing of the whole four,
the chaise stopped.

'What's the matter?' inquired Mr. Pickwick.

'There's a gate here,' replied old Wardle. 'We shall hear something
of the fugitives.'

After a lapse of five minutes, consumed in incessant knocking
and shouting, an old man in his shirt and trousers emerged from
the turnpike-house, and opened the gate.

'How long is it since a post-chaise went through here?'
inquired Mr. Wardle.

'How long?'

'ah!'

'Why, I don't rightly know. It worn't a long time ago, nor it
worn't a short time ago--just between the two, perhaps.'

'Has any chaise been by at all?'

'Oh, yes, there's been a Shay by.'

'How long ago, my friend,' interposed Mr. Pickwick; 'an hour?'

'Ah, I dare say it might be,' replied the man.

'Or two hours?' inquired the post--boy on the wheeler.

'Well, I shouldn't wonder if it was,' returned the old man
doubtfully.

'Drive on, boys,' cried the testy old gentleman; 'don't waste
any more time with that old idiot!'

'Idiot!' exclaimed the old man with a grin, as he stood in the
middle of the road with the gate half-closed, watching the chaise
which rapidly diminished in the increasing distance. 'No--not
much o' that either; you've lost ten minutes here, and gone away
as wise as you came, arter all. If every man on the line as has a
guinea give him, earns it half as well, you won't catch t'other shay
this side Mich'lmas, old short-and-fat.' And with another
prolonged grin, the old man closed the gate, re-entered his house,
and bolted the door after him.

Meanwhile the chaise proceeded, without any slackening of
pace, towards the conclusion of the stage. The moon, as Wardle
had foretold, was rapidly on the wane; large tiers of dark, heavy
clouds, which had been gradually overspreading the sky for some
time past, now formed one black mass overhead; and large drops
of rain which pattered every now and then against the windows
of the chaise, seemed to warn the travellers of the rapid approach
of a stormy night. The wind, too, which was directly against them,
swept in furious gusts down the narrow road, and howled
dismally through the trees which skirted the pathway. Mr. Pickwick
drew his coat closer about him, coiled himself more snugly
up into the corner of the chaise, and fell into a sound sleep, from
which he was only awakened by the stopping of the vehicle,
the sound of the hostler's bell, and a loud cry of 'Horses on
directly!'

But here another delay occurred. The boys were sleeping with
such mysterious soundness, that it took five minutes a-piece to
wake them. The hostler had somehow or other mislaid the key of
the stable, and even when that was found, two sleepy helpers put
the wrong harness on the wrong horses, and the whole process of
harnessing had to be gone through afresh. Had Mr. Pickwick been
alone, these multiplied obstacles would have completely put an end to
the pursuit at once, but old Wardle was not to be so easily daunted;
and he laid about him with such hearty good-will, cuffing this man,
and pushing that; strapping a buckle here, and taking in a link
there, that the chaise was ready in a much shorter time than could
reasonably have been expected, under so many difficulties.

They resumed their journey; and certainly the prospect before
them was by no means encouraging. The stage was fifteen miles
long, the night was dark, the wind high, and the rain pouring in
torrents. It was impossible to make any great way against such
obstacles united; it was hard upon one o'clock already; and
nearly two hours were consumed in getting to the end of the
stage. Here, however, an object presented itself, which rekindled
their hopes, and reanimated their drooping spirits.

'When did this chaise come in?' cried old Wardle, leaping out
of his own vehicle, and pointing to one covered with wet mud,
which was standing in the yard.

'Not a quarter of an hour ago, sir,' replied the hostler, to whom
the question was addressed.
'Lady and gentleman?' inquired Wardle, almost breathless
with impatience.

'Yes, sir.'

'Tall gentleman--dress-coat--long legs--thin body?'

'Yes, sir.'

'Elderly lady--thin face--rather skinny--eh?'

'Yes, sir.'

'By heavens, it's the couple, Pickwick,' exclaimed the old
gentleman.

'Would have been here before,' said the hostler, 'but they broke
a trace.'

''Tis them!' said Wardle, 'it is, by Jove! Chaise-and-four
instantly! We shall catch them yet before they reach the next
stage. A guinea a-piece, boys-be alive there--bustle about--
there's good fellows.'

And with such admonitions as these, the old gentleman ran up
and down the yard, and bustled to and fro, in a state of excitement
which communicated itself to Mr. Pickwick also; and
under the influence of which, that gentleman got himself into
complicated entanglements with harness, and mixed up with
horses and wheels of chaises, in the most surprising manner,
firmly believing that by so doing he was materially forwarding the
preparations for their resuming their journey.

'Jump in--jump in!' cried old Wardle, climbing into the
chaise, pulling up the steps, and slamming the door after him.
'Come along! Make haste!' And before Mr. Pickwick knew
precisely what he was about, he felt himself forced in at the other
door, by one pull from the old gentleman and one push from the
hostler; and off they were again.

'Ah! we are moving now,' said the old gentleman exultingly.
They were indeed, as was sufficiently testified to Mr. Pickwick, by
his constant collision either with the hard wood-work of the
chaise, or the body of his companion.

'Hold up!' said the stout old Mr. Wardle, as Mr. Pickwick
dived head foremost into his capacious waistcoat.

'I never did feel such a jolting in my life,' said Mr. Pickwick.

'Never mind,' replied his companion, 'it will soon be over.
Steady, steady.'

Mr. Pickwick planted himself into his own corner, as firmly as
he could; and on whirled the chaise faster than ever.

They had travelled in this way about three miles, when Mr.
Wardle, who had been looking out of the Window for two or
three minutes, suddenly drew in his face, covered with splashes,
and exclaimed in breathless eagerness--

'Here they are!'

Mr. Pickwick thrust his head out of his window. Yes: there
was a chaise-and-four, a short distance before them, dashing
along at full gallop.

'Go on, go on,' almost shrieked the old gentleman. 'Two
guineas a-piece, boys--don't let 'em gain on us--keep it up--
keep it up.'

The horses in the first chaise started on at their utmost speed;
and those in Mr. Wardle's galloped furiously behind them.

'I see his head,' exclaimed the choleric old man; 'damme, I see
his head.'

'So do I' said Mr. Pickwick; 'that's he.'
Mr. Pickwick was not mistaken. The countenance of Mr. Jingle,
completely coated with mud thrown up by the wheels, was plainly
discernible at the window of his chaise; and the motion of his arm,
which was waving violently towards the postillions, denoted that
he was encouraging them to increased exertion.

The interest was intense. Fields, trees, and hedges, seemed to
rush past them with the velocity of a whirlwind, so rapid was the
pace at which they tore along. They were close by the side of the
first chaise. Jingle's voice could be plainly heard, even above the
din of the wheels, urging on the boys. Old Mr. Wardle foamed
with rage and excitement. He roared out scoundrels and villains
by the dozen, clenched his fist and shook it expressively at the
object of his indignation; but Mr. Jingle only answered with a
contemptuous smile, and replied to his menaces by a shout of
triumph, as his horses, answering the increased application of whip
and spur, broke into a faster gallop, and left the pursuers behind.

Mr. Pickwick had just drawn in his head, and Mr. Wardle,
exhausted with shouting, had done the same, when a tremendous
jolt threw them forward against the front of the vehicle. There was
a sudden bump--a loud crash--away rolled a wheel, and over
went the chaise.

After a very few seconds of bewilderment and confusion, in
which nothing but the plunging of horses, and breaking of glass
could be made out, Mr. Pickwick felt himself violently pulled out
from among the ruins of the chaise; and as soon as he had gained
his feet, extricated his head from the skirts of his greatcoat,
which materially impeded the usefulness of his spectacles, the full
disaster of the case met his view.

Old Mr. Wardle without a hat, and his clothes torn in several
places, stood by his side, and the fragments of the chaise lay
scattered at their feet. The post-boys, who had succeeded in
cutting the traces, were standing, disfigured with mud and disordered
by hard riding, by the horses' heads. About a hundred
yards in advance was the other chaise, which had pulled up on
hearing the crash. The postillions, each with a broad grin
convulsing his countenance, were viewing the adverse party from
their saddles, and Mr. Jingle was contemplating the wreck from
the coach window, with evident satisfaction. The day was just
breaking, and the whole scene was rendered perfectly visible by
the grey light of the morning.

'Hollo!' shouted the shameless Jingle, 'anybody damaged?--
elderly gentlemen--no light weights--dangerous work--very.'

'You're a rascal,' roared Wardle.

'Ha! ha!' replied Jingle; and then he added, with a knowing
wink, and a jerk of the thumb towards the interior of the chaise--
'I say--she's very well--desires her compliments--begs you won't
trouble yourself--love to TUPPY--won't you get up behind?--
drive on, boys.'

The postillions resumed their proper attitudes, and away
rattled the chaise, Mr. Jingle fluttering in derision a white
handkerchief from the coach window.

Nothing in the whole adventure, not even the upset, had
disturbed the calm and equable current of Mr. Pickwick's
temper. The villainy, however, which could first borrow money
of his faithful follower, and then abbreviate his name to 'Tuppy,'
was more than he could patiently bear. He drew his breath hard,
and coloured up to the very tips of his spectacles, as he said,
slowly and emphatically--

'If ever I meet that man again, I'll--'

'Yes, yes,' interrupted Wardle, 'that's all very well; but while we
stand talking here, they'll get their licence, and be married in London.'

Mr. Pickwick paused, bottled up his vengeance, and corked it down.
'How far is it to the next stage?' inquired Mr. Wardle, of one
of the boys.

'Six mile, ain't it, Tom?'

'Rayther better.'

'Rayther better nor six mile, Sir.'

'Can't be helped,' said Wardle, 'we must walk it, Pickwick.'

'No help for it,' replied that truly great man.

So sending forward one of the boys on horseback, to procure
a fresh chaise and horses, and leaving the other behind to take
care of the broken one, Mr. Pickwick and Mr. Wardle set
manfully forward on the walk, first tying their shawls round their
necks, and slouching down their hats to escape as much as
possible from the deluge of rain, which after a slight cessation
had again begun to pour heavily down.

CHAPTER X
CLEARING UP ALL DOUBTS (IF ANY EXISTED) OF THE
DISINTERESTEDNESS OF Mr. A. JINGLE'S CHARACTER

There are in London several old inns, once the headquarters
of celebrated coaches in the days when coaches performed
their journeys in a graver and more solemn manner than
they do in these times; but which have now degenerated into little
more than the abiding and booking-places of country wagons. The
reader would look in vain for any of these ancient hostelries,
among the Golden Crosses and Bull and Mouths, which rear
their stately fronts in the improved streets of London. If he
would light upon any of these old places, he must direct his steps
to the obscurer quarters of the town, and there in some secluded
nooks he will find several, still standing with a kind of gloomy
sturdiness, amidst the modern innovations which surround them.

In the Borough especially, there still remain some half-dozen
old inns, which have preserved their external features unchanged,
and which have escaped alike the rage for public improvement and
the encroachments of private speculation. Great, rambling queer
old places they are, with galleries, and passages, and staircases,
wide enough and antiquated enough to furnish materials for a hundred
ghost stories, supposing we should ever be reduced to the lamentable
necessity of inventing any, and that the world should exist long
enough to exhaust the innumerable veracious legends connected with
old London Bridge, and its adjacent neighbourhood on the Surrey side.

It was in the yard of one of these inns--of no less celebrated a
one than the White Hart--that a man was busily employed in
brushing the dirt off a pair of boots, early on the morning
succeeding the events narrated in the last chapter. He was
habited in a coarse, striped waistcoat, with black calico sleeves,
and blue glass buttons; drab breeches and leggings. A bright red
handkerchief was wound in a very loose and unstudied style
round his neck, and an old white hat was carelessly thrown on
one side of his head. There were two rows of boots before him,
one cleaned and the other dirty, and at every addition he made
to the clean row, he paused from his work, and contemplated its
results with evident satisfaction.

The yard presented none of that bustle and activity which are
the usual characteristics of a large coach inn. Three or four
lumbering wagons, each with a pile of goods beneath its ample
canopy, about the height of the second-floor window of an
ordinary house, were stowed away beneath a lofty roof which
extended over one end of the yard; and another, which was
probably to commence its journey that morning, was drawn out
into the open space. A double tier of bedroom galleries, with old
Clumsy balustrades, ran round two sides of the straggling area,
and a double row of bells to correspond, sheltered from the
weather by a little sloping roof, hung over the door leading to the
bar and coffee-room. Two or three gigs and chaise-carts were
wheeled up under different little sheds and pent-houses; and the
occasional heavy tread of a cart-horse, or rattling of a chain at
the farther end of the yard, announced to anybody who cared
about the matter, that the stable lay in that direction. When
we add that a few boys in smock-frocks were lying asleep on
heavy packages, wool-packs, and other articles that were
scattered about on heaps of straw, we have described as fully
as need be the general appearance of the yard of the White
Hart Inn, High Street, Borough, on the particular morning in question.

A loud ringing of one of the bells was followed by the appearance
of a smart chambermaid in the upper sleeping gallery, who,
after tapping at one of the doors, and receiving a request from
within, called over the balustrades--
'Sam!'

'Hollo,' replied the man with the white hat.

'Number twenty-two wants his boots.'

'Ask number twenty-two, vether he'll have 'em now, or vait
till he gets 'em,' was the reply.

'Come, don't be a fool, Sam,' said the girl coaxingly, 'the
gentleman wants his boots directly.'

'Well, you ARE a nice young 'ooman for a musical party, you
are,' said the boot-cleaner. 'Look at these here boots--eleven
pair o' boots; and one shoe as belongs to number six, with the
wooden leg. The eleven boots is to be called at half-past eight and
the shoe at nine. Who's number twenty-two, that's to put all the
others out? No, no; reg'lar rotation, as Jack Ketch said, ven he
tied the men up. Sorry to keep you a-waitin', Sir, but I'll attend
to you directly.'

Saying which, the man in the white hat set to work upon a
top-boot with increased assiduity.

There was another loud ring; and the bustling old landlady of
the White Hart made her appearance in the opposite gallery.

'Sam,' cried the landlady, 'where's that lazy, idle-- why, Sam--
oh, there you are; why don't you answer?'

'Vouldn't be gen-teel to answer, till you'd done talking,'
replied Sam gruffly.

'Here, clean these shoes for number seventeen directly, and
take 'em to private sitting-room, number five, first floor.'

The landlady flung a pair of lady's shoes into the yard, and
bustled away.

'Number five,' said Sam, as he picked up the shoes, and taking
a piece of chalk from his pocket, made a memorandum of their

Book of the day: