The Pickwick Papers
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'Oh, admirably,' said Mr. Benjamin Allen.
'My landlady is subject to some slight attacks of mental
derangement,' remarked Bob Sawyer, with a ghastly smile; 'I fear
I must give her warning.'
'No, don't,' said Ben Allen.
'I fear I must,' said Bob, with heroic firmness. 'I'll pay her
what I owe her, and give her warning to-morrow morning.' Poor
fellow! how devoutly he wished he could!
Mr. Bob Sawyer's heart-sickening attempts to rally under this
last blow, communicated a dispiriting influence to the company,
the greater part of whom, with the view of raising their spirits,
attached themselves with extra cordiality to the cold brandy-and-
water, the first perceptible effects of which were displayed in a
renewal of hostilities between the scorbutic youth and the
gentleman in the shirt. The belligerents vented their feelings of
mutual contempt, for some time, in a variety of frownings and
snortings, until at last the scorbutic youth felt it necessary to
come to a more explicit understanding on the matter; when the
following clear understanding took place.
'Sawyer,' said the scorbutic youth, in a loud voice.
'Well, Noddy,' replied Mr. Bob Sawyer.
'I should be very sorry, Sawyer,' said Mr. Noddy, 'to create
any unpleasantness at any friend's table, and much less at yours,
Sawyer--very; but I must take this opportunity of informing
Mr. Gunter that he is no gentleman.'
'And I should be very sorry, Sawyer, to create any disturbance
in the street in which you reside,' said Mr. Gunter, 'but I'm
afraid I shall be under the necessity of alarming the neighbours by
throwing the person who has just spoken, out o' window.'
'What do you mean by that, sir?' inquired Mr. Noddy.
'What I say, Sir,' replied Mr. Gunter.
'I should like to see you do it, Sir,' said Mr. Noddy.
'You shall FEEL me do it in half a minute, Sir,' replied Mr. Gunter.
'I request that you'll favour me with your card, Sir,' said
'I'll do nothing of the kind, Sir,' replied Mr. Gunter.
'Why not, Sir?' inquired Mr. Noddy.
'Because you'll stick it up over your chimney-piece, and delude
your visitors into the false belief that a gentleman has been to
see you, Sir,' replied Mr. Gunter.
'Sir, a friend of mine shall wait on you in the morning,' said
'Sir, I'm very much obliged to you for the caution, and I'll
leave particular directions with the servant to lock up the spoons,'
replied Mr. Gunter.
At this point the remainder of the guests interposed, and
remonstrated with both parties on the impropriety of their
conduct; on which Mr. Noddy begged to state that his father was
quite as respectable as Mr. Gunter's father; to which Mr. Gunter
replied that his father was to the full as respectable as Mr. Noddy's
father, and that his father's son was as good a man as Mr. Noddy,
any day in the week. As this announcement seemed the prelude
to a recommencement of the dispute, there was another interference
on the part of the company; and a vast quantity of
talking and clamouring ensued, in the course of which Mr. Noddy
gradually allowed his feelings to overpower him, and professed
that he had ever entertained a devoted personal attachment
towards Mr. Gunter. To this Mr. Gunter replied that, upon the
whole, he rather preferred Mr. Noddy to his own brother; on
hearing which admission, Mr. Noddy magnanimously rose from
his seat, and proffered his hand to Mr. Gunter. Mr. Gunter
grasped it with affecting fervour; and everybody said that the
whole dispute had been conducted in a manner which was highly
honourable to both parties concerned.
'Now,' said Jack Hopkins, 'just to set us going again, Bob, I
don't mind singing a song.' And Hopkins, incited thereto by
tumultuous applause, plunged himself at once into 'The King,
God bless him,' which he sang as loud as he could, to a novel air,
compounded of the 'Bay of Biscay,' and 'A Frog he would.'
The chorus was the essence of the song; and, as each gentleman
sang it to the tune he knew best, the effect was very striking indeed.
It was at the end of the chorus to the first verse, that Mr.
Pickwick held up his hand in a listening attitude, and said, as
soon as silence was restored--
'Hush! I beg your pardon. I thought I heard somebody calling
A profound silence immediately ensued; and Mr. Bob Sawyer
was observed to turn pale.
'I think I hear it now,' said Mr. Pickwick. 'Have the goodness
to open the door.'
The door was no sooner opened than all doubt on the subject
'Mr. Sawyer! Mr. Sawyer!' screamed a voice from the two-pair landing.
'It's my landlady,' said Bob Sawyer, looking round him with
great dismay. 'Yes, Mrs. Raddle.'
'What do you mean by this, Mr. Sawyer?' replied the voice,
with great shrillness and rapidity of utterance. 'Ain't it enough
to be swindled out of one's rent, and money lent out of pocket
besides, and abused and insulted by your friends that dares to
call themselves men, without having the house turned out of the
window, and noise enough made to bring the fire-engines here,
at two o'clock in the morning?--Turn them wretches away.'
'You ought to be ashamed of yourselves,' said the voice of
Mr. Raddle, which appeared to proceed from beneath some
'Ashamed of themselves!' said Mrs. Raddle. 'Why don't you
go down and knock 'em every one downstairs? You would if
you was a man.'
'I should if I was a dozen men, my dear,' replied Mr. Raddle
pacifically, 'but they have the advantage of me in numbers, my dear.'
'Ugh, you coward!' replied Mrs. Raddle, with supreme contempt.
'DO you mean to turn them wretches out, or not, Mr. Sawyer?'
'They're going, Mrs. Raddle, they're going,' said the miserable
Bob. 'I am afraid you'd better go,' said Mr. Bob Sawyer to his
friends. 'I thought you were making too much noise.'
'It's a very unfortunate thing,' said the prim man. 'Just as we
were getting so comfortable too!' The prim man was just
beginning to have a dawning recollection of the story he had forgotten.
'It's hardly to be borne,' said the prim man, looking round.
'Hardly to be borne, is it?'
'Not to be endured,' replied Jack Hopkins; 'let's have the
other verse, Bob. Come, here goes!'
'No, no, Jack, don't,' interposed Bob Sawyer; 'it's a capital
song, but I am afraid we had better not have the other verse.
They are very violent people, the people of the house.'
'Shall I step upstairs, and pitch into the landlord?' inquired
Hopkins, 'or keep on ringing the bell, or go and groan on the
staircase? You may command me, Bob.'
'I am very much indebted to you for your friendship and good-
nature, Hopkins,' said the wretched Mr. Bob Sawyer, 'but I
think the best plan to avoid any further dispute is for us to
break up at once.'
'Now, Mr. Sawyer,' screamed the shrill voice of Mrs. Raddle,
'are them brutes going?'
'They're only looking for their hats, Mrs. Raddle,' said Bob;
'they are going directly.'
'Going!' said Mrs. Raddle, thrusting her nightcap over the
banisters just as Mr. Pickwick, followed by Mr. Tupman,
emerged from the sitting-room. 'Going! what did they ever
'My dear ma'am,' remonstrated Mr. Pickwick, looking up.
'Get along with you, old wretch!' replied Mrs. Raddle, hastily
withdrawing the nightcap. 'Old enough to be his grandfather,
you willin! You're worse than any of 'em.'
Mr. Pickwick found it in vain to protest his innocence, so
hurried downstairs into the street, whither he was closely
followed by Mr. Tupman, Mr. Winkle, and Mr. Snodgrass.
Mr. Ben Allen, who was dismally depressed with spirits and
agitation, accompanied them as far as London Bridge, and in the
course of the walk confided to Mr. Winkle, as an especially
eligible person to intrust the secret to, that he was resolved to
cut the throat of any gentleman, except Mr. Bob Sawyer, who
should aspire to the affections of his sister Arabella. Having
expressed his determination to perform this painful duty of a
brother with proper firmness, he burst into tears, knocked his hat
over his eyes, and, making the best of his way back, knocked
double knocks at the door of the Borough Market office,
and took short naps on the steps alternately, until daybreak,
under the firm impression that he lived there, and had forgotten
The visitors having all departed, in compliance with the rather
pressing request of Mrs. Raddle, the luckless Mr. Bob Sawyer
was left alone, to meditate on the probable events of to-morrow,
and the pleasures of the evening.