The Pickwick Papers
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'The people are coming down the crescent now. There are
ladies with 'em; cover me up with something. Stand before me!'
roared Mr. Winkle. But the chairmen were too much exhausted
with laughing to afford him the slightest assistance, and the ladies
were every moment approaching nearer and nearer.
Mr. Winkle gave a last hopeless knock; the ladies were only a
few doors off. He threw away the extinguished candle, which, all
this time he had held above his head, and fairly bolted into the
sedan-chair where Mrs. Dowler was.
Now, Mrs. Craddock had heard the knocking and the voices
at last; and, only waiting to put something smarter on her head
than her nightcap, ran down into the front drawing-room to make
sure that it was the right party. Throwing up the window-sash
as Mr. Winkle was rushing into the chair, she no sooner caught
sight of what was going forward below, than she raised a vehement
and dismal shriek, and implored Mr. Dowler to get up
directly, for his wife was running away with another gentleman.
Upon this, Mr. Dowler bounced off the bed as abruptly as an
India-rubber ball, and rushing into the front room, arrived at one
window just as Mr. Pickwick threw up the other, when the first
object that met the gaze of both, was Mr. Winkle bolting into the
'Watchman,' shouted Dowler furiously, 'stop him--hold him
--keep him tight--shut him in, till I come down. I'll cut his
throat--give me a knife--from ear to ear, Mrs. Craddock--I
will!' And breaking from the shrieking landlady, and from Mr.
Pickwick, the indignant husband seized a small supper-knife, and
tore into the street.
But Mr. Winkle didn't wait for him. He no sooner heard the
horrible threat of the valorous Dowler, than he bounced out of
the sedan, quite as quickly as he had bounced in, and throwing
off his slippers into the road, took to his heels and tore round the
crescent, hotly pursued by Dowler and the watchman. He kept
ahead; the door was open as he came round the second time; he
rushed in, slammed it in Dowler's face, mounted to his bedroom,
locked the door, piled a wash-hand-stand, chest of drawers, and a
table against it, and packed up a few necessaries ready for flight
with the first ray of morning.
Dowler came up to the outside of the door; avowed, through
the keyhole, his steadfast determination of cutting Mr. Winkle's
throat next day; and, after a great confusion of voices in the
drawing-room, amidst which that of Mr. Pickwick was distinctly
heard endeavouring to make peace, the inmates dispersed to their
several bed-chambers, and all was quiet once more.
It is not unlikely that the inquiry may be made, where Mr.
Weller was, all this time? We will state where he was, in the next
HONOURABLY ACCOUNTS FOR Mr. WELLER'S ABSENCE,
BY DESCRIBING A SOIREE TO WHICH HE WAS INVITED
AND WENT; ALSO RELATES HOW HE WAS ENTRUSTED BY
Mr. PICKWICK WITH A PRIVATE MISSION OF DELICACY
'Mr. Weller,' said Mrs. Craddock, upon the morning of this very
eventful day, 'here's a letter for you.'
'Wery odd that,' said Sam; 'I'm afeerd there must be somethin'
the matter, for I don't recollect any gen'l'm'n in my circle of
acquaintance as is capable o' writin' one.'
'Perhaps something uncommon has taken place,' observed
'It must be somethin' wery uncommon indeed, as could
perduce a letter out o' any friend o' mine,' replied Sam, shaking
his head dubiously; 'nothin' less than a nat'ral conwulsion, as the
young gen'l'm'n observed ven he wos took with fits. It can't be
from the gov'ner,' said Sam, looking at the direction. 'He always
prints, I know, 'cos he learnt writin' from the large bills in the
booking-offices. It's a wery strange thing now, where this here
letter can ha' come from.'
As Sam said this, he did what a great many people do when
they are uncertain about the writer of a note--looked at the seal,
and then at the front, and then at the back, and then at the sides,
and then at the superscription; and, as a last resource, thought
perhaps he might as well look at the inside, and try to find out
'It's wrote on gilt-edged paper,' said Sam, as he unfolded it,
'and sealed in bronze vax vith the top of a door key. Now for it.'
And, with a very grave face, Mr. Weller slowly read as follows--
'A select company of the Bath footmen presents their compliments
to Mr. Weller, and requests the pleasure of his company
this evening, to a friendly swarry, consisting of a boiled leg of
mutton with the usual trimmings. The swarry to be on table at
half-past nine o'clock punctually.'
This was inclosed in another note, which ran thus--
'Mr. John Smauker, the gentleman who had the pleasure of
meeting Mr. Weller at the house of their mutual acquaintance,
Mr. Bantam, a few days since, begs to inclose Mr. Weller the
herewith invitation. If Mr. Weller will call on Mr. John Smauker
at nine o'clock, Mr. John Smauker will have the pleasure of
introducing Mr. Weller.
(Signed) 'JOHN SMAUKER.'
The envelope was directed to blank Weller, Esq., at Mr. Pickwick's;
and in a parenthesis, in the left hand corner, were the
words 'airy bell,' as an instruction to the bearer.
'Vell,' said Sam, 'this is comin' it rayther powerful, this is. I
never heerd a biled leg o' mutton called a swarry afore. I wonder
wot they'd call a roast one.'
However, without waiting to debate the point, Sam at once
betook himself into the presence of Mr. Pickwick, and requested
leave of absence for that evening, which was readily granted.
With this permission and the street-door key, Sam Weller issued
forth a little before the appointed time, and strolled leisurely
towards Queen Square, which he no sooner gained than he had
the satisfaction of beholding Mr. John Smauker leaning his
powdered head against a lamp-post at a short distance off,
smoking a cigar through an amber tube.
'How do you do, Mr. Weller?' said Mr. John Smauker, raising
his hat gracefully with one hand, while he gently waved the other
in a condescending manner. 'How do you do, Sir?'
'Why, reasonably conwalessent,' replied Sam. 'How do YOU
find yourself, my dear feller?'
'Only so so,' said Mr. John Smauker.
'Ah, you've been a-workin' too hard,' observed Sam. 'I was
fearful you would; it won't do, you know; you must not give way
to that 'ere uncompromisin' spirit o' yourn.'
'It's not so much that, Mr. Weller,' replied Mr. John Smauker,
'as bad wine; I'm afraid I've been dissipating.'
'Oh! that's it, is it?' said Sam; 'that's a wery bad complaint, that.'
'And yet the temptation, you see, Mr. Weller,' observed Mr.
'Ah, to be sure,' said Sam.
'Plunged into the very vortex of society, you know, Mr.
Weller,' said Mr. John Smauker, with a sigh.
'Dreadful, indeed!' rejoined Sam.
'But it's always the way,' said Mr. John Smauker; 'if your
destiny leads you into public life, and public station, you must
expect to be subjected to temptations which other people is free
from, Mr. Weller.'
'Precisely what my uncle said, ven he vent into the public line,'
remarked Sam, 'and wery right the old gen'l'm'n wos, for he
drank hisself to death in somethin' less than a quarter.'
Mr. John Smauker looked deeply indignant at any parallel
being drawn between himself and the deceased gentleman in
question; but, as Sam's face was in the most immovable state of
calmness, he thought better of it, and looked affable again.
'Perhaps we had better be walking,' said Mr. Smauker,
consulting a copper timepiece which dwelt at the bottom of a deep
watch-pocket, and was raised to the surface by means of a black
string, with a copper key at the other end.
'P'raps we had,' replied Sam, 'or they'll overdo the swarry, and
that'll spile it.'
'Have you drank the waters, Mr. Weller?' inquired his
companion, as they walked towards High Street.
'Once,' replied Sam.
'What did you think of 'em, Sir?'
'I thought they was particklery unpleasant,' replied Sam.
'Ah,' said Mr. John Smauker, 'you disliked the killibeate
'I don't know much about that 'ere,' said Sam. 'I thought
they'd a wery strong flavour o' warm flat irons.'
'That IS the killibeate, Mr. Weller,' observed Mr. John Smauker
'Well, if it is, it's a wery inexpressive word, that's all,' said
Sam. 'It may be, but I ain't much in the chimical line myself, so
I can't say.' And here, to the great horror of Mr. John Smauker,
Sam Weller began to whistle.
'I beg your pardon, Mr. Weller,' said Mr. John Smauker,
agonised at the exceeding ungenteel sound, 'will you take my arm?'
'Thank'ee, you're wery good, but I won't deprive you of it,'