The Pickwick Papers
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'Serious, from my heart--from my soul!'returned Mr. Winkle,
with great energy.
'Remember,' said Mr. Pickwick, with beaming eyes, 'we met
her at our excellent and hospitable friend's, Winkle. It would be
an ill return to tamper lightly, and without due consideration,
with this young lady's affections. I'll not allow that, sir. I'll not
'I have no such intention, indeed,' exclaimed Mr. Winkle
warmly. 'I have considered the matter well, for a long time, and
I feel that my happiness is bound up in her.'
'That's wot we call tying it up in a small parcel, sir,' interposed
Mr. Weller, with an agreeable smile.
Mr. Winkle looked somewhat stern at this interruption, and
Mr. Pickwick angrily requested his attendant not to jest with one
of the best feelings of our nature; to which Sam replied, 'That he
wouldn't, if he was aware on it; but there were so many on 'em, that
he hardly know'd which was the best ones wen he heerd 'em mentioned.'
Mr. Winkle then recounted what had passed between himself
and Mr. Ben Allen, relative to Arabella; stated that his object was
to gain an interview with the young lady, and make a formal
disclosure of his passion; and declared his conviction, founded
on certain dark hints and mutterings of the aforesaid Ben, that,
wherever she was at present immured, it was somewhere near the
Downs. And this was his whole stock of knowledge or suspicion
on the subject.
With this very slight clue to guide him, it was determined that
Mr. Weller should start next morning on an expedition of
discovery; it was also arranged that Mr. Pickwick and Mr.
Winkle, who were less confident of their powers, should parade
the town meanwhile, and accidentally drop in upon Mr. Bob
Sawyer in the course of the day, in the hope of seeing or hearing
something of the young lady's whereabouts.
Accordingly, next morning, Sam Weller issued forth upon his
quest, in no way daunted by the very discouraging prospect
before him; and away he walked, up one street and down another
--we were going to say, up one hill and down another, only it's
all uphill at Clifton--without meeting with anything or anybody
that tended to throw the faintest light on the matter in hand.
Many were the colloquies into which Sam entered with grooms
who were airing horses on roads, and nursemaids who were
airing children in lanes; but nothing could Sam elicit from either
the first-mentioned or the last, which bore the slightest reference
to the object of his artfully-prosecuted inquiries. There were a
great many young ladies in a great many houses, the greater part
whereof were shrewdly suspected by the male and female
domestics to be deeply attached to somebody, or perfectly ready
to become so, if opportunity afforded. But as none among these
young ladies was Miss Arabella Allen, the information left
Sam at exactly the old point of wisdom at which he had stood before.
Sam struggled across the Downs against a good high wind,
wondering whether it was always necessary to hold your hat on
with both hands in that part of the country, and came to a shady
by-place, about which were sprinkled several little villas of quiet
and secluded appearance. Outside a stable door at the bottom of
a long back lane without a thoroughfare, a groom in undress was
idling about, apparently persuading himself that he was doing
something with a spade and a wheel-barrow. We may remark, in
this place, that we have scarcely ever seen a groom near a stable,
in his lazy moments, who has not been, to a greater or less extent,
the victim of this singular delusion.
Sam thought he might as well talk to this groom as to any one
else, especially as he was very tired with walking, and there was a
good large stone just opposite the wheel-barrow; so he strolled
down the lane, and, seating himself on the stone, opened a
conversation with the ease and freedom for which he was remarkable.
'Mornin', old friend,' said Sam.
'Arternoon, you mean,' replied the groom, casting a surly look
'You're wery right, old friend,' said Sam; 'I DO mean arternoon.
How are you?'
'Why, I don't find myself much the better for seeing of you,'
replied the ill-tempered groom.
'That's wery odd--that is,' said Sam, 'for you look so uncommon
cheerful, and seem altogether so lively, that it does vun's
heart good to see you.'
The surly groom looked surlier still at this, but not sufficiently
so to produce any effect upon Sam, who immediately inquired,
with a countenance of great anxiety, whether his master's name
was not Walker.
'No, it ain't,' said the groom.
'Nor Brown, I s'pose?' said Sam.
'No, it ain't.'
'No; nor that @ither,' said the groom.
'Vell,' replied Sam, 'then I'm mistaken, and he hasn't got the
honour o' my acquaintance, which I thought he had. Don't wait
here out o' compliment to me,' said Sam, as the groom wheeled
in the barrow, and prepared to shut the gate. 'Ease afore
ceremony, old boy; I'll excuse you.'
'I'd knock your head off for half-a-crown,' said the surly
groom, bolting one half of the gate.
'Couldn't afford to have it done on those terms,' rejoined Sam.
'It 'ud be worth a life's board wages at least, to you, and 'ud be
cheap at that. Make my compliments indoors. Tell 'em not to
vait dinner for me, and say they needn't mind puttin' any by, for
it'll be cold afore I come in.'
In reply to this, the groom waxing very wroth, muttered a
desire to damage somebody's person; but disappeared without
carrying it into execution, slamming the door angrily after him,
and wholly unheeding Sam's affectionate request, that he would
leave him a lock of his hair before he went.
Sam continued to sit on the large stone, meditating upon what
was best to be done, and revolving in his mind a plan for knocking
at all the doors within five miles of Bristol, taking them at a
hundred and fifty or two hundred a day, and endeavouring to
find Miss Arabella by that expedient, when accident all of a
sudden threw in his way what he might have sat there for a
twelvemonth and yet not found without it.
Into the lane where he sat, there opened three or four garden
gates, belonging to as many houses, which though detached from
each other, were only separated by their gardens. As these were
large and long, and well planted with trees, the houses were not
only at some distance off, but the greater part of them were
nearly concealed from view. Sam was sitting with his eyes fixed
upon the dust-heap outside the next gate to that by which the
groom had disappeared, profoundly turning over in his mind the
difficulties of his present undertaking, when the gate opened, and
a female servant came out into the lane to shake some bedside carpets.
Sam was so very busy with his own thoughts, that it is probable
he would have taken no more notice of the young woman than
just raising his head and remarking that she had a very neat and
pretty figure, if his feelings of gallantry had not been most
strongly roused by observing that she had no one to help her, and
that the carpets seemed too heavy for her single strength. Mr.
Weller was a gentleman of great gallantry in his own way, and he
no sooner remarked this circumstance than he hastily rose from
the large stone, and advanced towards her.
'My dear,' said Sam, sliding up with an air of great respect,
'you'll spile that wery pretty figure out o' all perportion if you
shake them carpets by yourself. Let me help you.'
The young lady, who had been coyly affecting not to know
that a gentleman was so near, turned round as Sam spoke--no
doubt (indeed she said so, afterwards) to decline this offer from a
perfect stranger--when instead of speaking, she started back, and
uttered a half-suppressed scream. Sam was scarcely less staggered,
for in the countenance of the well-shaped female servant, he
beheld the very features of his valentine, the pretty housemaid
from Mr. Nupkins's.
'Wy, Mary, my dear!' said Sam.
'Lauk, Mr. Weller,' said Mary, 'how you do frighten one!'
Sam made no verbal answer to this complaint, nor can we
precisely say what reply he did make. We merely know that after
a short pause Mary said, 'Lor, do adun, Mr. Weller!' and that his
hat had fallen off a few moments before--from both of which
tokens we should be disposed to infer that one kiss, or more, had
passed between the parties.
'Why, how did you come here?' said Mary, when the conversation
to which this interruption had been offered, was
'O' course I came to look arter you, my darlin',' replied Mr.
Weller; for once permitting his passion to get the better of
'And how did you know I was here?' inquired Mary. 'Who
could have told you that I took another service at Ipswich, and
that they afterwards moved all the way here? Who COULD have
told you that, Mr. Weller?'
'Ah, to be sure,' said Sam, with a cunning look, 'that's the
pint. Who could ha' told me?'
'It wasn't Mr. Muzzle, was it?' inquired Mary.
'Oh, no.' replied Sam, with a solemn shake of the head, 'it