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Chapter 37


CHAPTER XXXVII
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
  AND IMPORTANCE


'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
Mrs. Craddock.

'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
from that.

'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.
John Smauker.

'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
taste, perhaps?'

'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
contemptuously.

'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,'
replied Sam.  'I've rayther a way o' putting my hands in my
pockets, if it's all the same to you.'  As Sam said this, he suited
the action to the word, and whistled far louder than before.

'This way,' said his new friend, apparently much relieved as
they turned down a by-street; 'we shall soon be there.'

'Shall we?' said Sam, quite unmoved by the announcement of
his close vicinity to the select footmen of Bath.

'Yes,' said Mr. John Smauker.  'Don't be alarmed, Mr. Weller.'

'Oh, no,' said Sam.

'You'll see some very handsome uniforms, Mr. Weller,' continued
Mr. John Smauker; 'and perhaps you'll find some of the
gentlemen rather high at first, you know, but they'll soon come round.'

'That's wery kind on 'em,' replied Sam.
'And you know,' resumed Mr. John Smauker, with an air of
sublime protection--'you know, as you're a stranger, perhaps,
they'll be rather hard upon you at first.'

'They won't be wery cruel, though, will they?' inquired Sam.

'No, no,' replied Mr. John Smauker, pulling forth the fox's
head, and taking a gentlemanly pinch.  'There are some funny
dogs among us, and they will have their joke, you know; but you
mustn't mind 'em, you mustn't mind 'em.'

'I'll try and bear up agin such a reg'lar knock down o' talent,'
replied Sam.

'That's right,' said Mr. John Smauker, putting forth his fox's
head, and elevating his own; 'I'll stand by you.'

By this time they had reached a small greengrocer's shop,
which Mr. John Smauker entered, followed by Sam, who, the
moment he got behind him, relapsed into a series of the very
broadest and most unmitigated grins, and manifested other
demonstrations of being in a highly enviable state of inward merriment.

Crossing the greengrocer's shop, and putting their hats on the
stairs in the little passage behind it, they walked into a small
parlour; and here the full splendour of the scene burst upon Mr.
Weller's view.

A couple of tables were put together in the middle of the
parlour, covered with three or four cloths of different ages and
dates of washing, arranged to look as much like one as the
circumstances of the case would allow.  Upon these were laid
knives and forks for six or eight people.  Some of the knife
handles were green, others red, and a few yellow; and as all the
forks were black, the combination of colours was exceedingly
striking.  Plates for a corresponding number of guests were
warming behind the fender; and the guests themselves were
warming before it: the chief and most important of whom appeared
to be a stoutish gentleman in a bright crimson coat with long
tails, vividly red breeches, and a cocked hat, who was standing
with his back to the fire, and had apparently just entered, for
besides retaining his cocked hat on his head, he carried in his
hand a high stick, such as gentlemen of his profession usually
elevate in a sloping position over the roofs of carriages.

'Smauker, my lad, your fin,' said the gentleman with the
cocked hat.

Mr. Smauker dovetailed the top joint of his right-hand little
finger into that of the gentleman with the cocked hat, and said he
was charmed to see him looking so well.

'Well, they tell me I am looking pretty blooming,' said
the man with the cocked hat, 'and it's a wonder, too.  I've
been following our old woman about, two hours a day, for
the last fortnight; and if a constant contemplation of the
manner in which she hooks-and-eyes that infernal lavender-
coloured old gown of hers behind, isn't enough to throw anybody
into a low state of despondency for life, stop my quarter's salary.'

At this, the assembled selections laughed very heartily; and
one gentleman in a yellow waistcoat, with a coach-trimming
border, whispered a neighbour in green-foil smalls, that Tuckle
was in spirits to-night.

'By the bye,' said Mr. Tuckle, 'Smauker, my boy, you--'
The remainder of the sentence was forwarded into Mr. John
Smauker's ear, by whisper.

'Oh, dear me, I quite forgot,' said Mr. John Smauker.
'Gentlemen, my friend Mr. Weller.'

'Sorry to keep the fire off you, Weller,' said Mr. Tuckle, with a
familiar nod.  'Hope you're not cold, Weller.'

'Not by no means, Blazes,' replied Sam.  'It 'ud be a wery chilly
subject as felt cold wen you stood opposite.  You'd save coals if
they put you behind the fender in the waitin'-room at a public
office, you would.'

As this retort appeared to convey rather a personal allusion to
Mr. Tuckle's crimson livery, that gentleman looked majestic for
a few seconds, but gradually edging away from the fire, broke
into a forced smile, and said it wasn't bad.

'Wery much obliged for your good opinion, sir,' replied Sam.
'We shall get on by degrees, I des-say.  We'll try a better one by
and bye.'

At this point the conversation was interrupted by the arrival
of a gentleman in orange-coloured plush, accompanied by
another selection in purple cloth, with a great extent of stocking.
The new-comers having been welcomed by the old ones, Mr.
Tuckle put the question that supper be ordered in, which was
carried unanimously.

The greengrocer and his wife then arranged upon the table a
boiled leg of mutton, hot, with caper sauce, turnips, and potatoes.
Mr. Tuckle took the chair, and was supported at the other end
of the board by the gentleman in orange plush.  The greengrocer
put on a pair of wash-leather gloves to hand the plates with, and
stationed himself behind Mr. Tuckle's chair.

'Harris,' said Mr. Tuckle, in a commanding tone.
'Sir,' said the greengrocer.

'Have you got your gloves on?'
'Yes, Sir.'

'Then take the kiver off.'

'Yes, Sir.'

The greengrocer did as he was told, with a show of great
humility, and obsequiously handed Mr. Tuckle the carving-
knife; in doing which, he accidentally gaped.

'What do you mean by that, Sir?' said Mr. Tuckle, with great asperity.

'I beg your pardon, Sir,' replied the crestfallen greengrocer, 'I
didn't mean to do it, Sir; I was up very late last night, Sir.'

'I tell you what my opinion of you is, Harris,' said Mr. Tuckle,
with a most impressive air, 'you're a wulgar beast.'

'I hope, gentlemen,' said Harris, 'that you won't be severe
with me, gentlemen.  I am very much obliged to you indeed,
gentlemen, for your patronage, and also for your recommendations,
gentlemen, whenever additional assistance in waiting is
required.  I hope, gentlemen, I give satisfaction.'

'No, you don't, Sir,' said Mr. Tuckle.  'Very far from it, Sir.'

'We consider you an inattentive reskel,' said the gentleman in
the orange plush.

'And a low thief,' added the gentleman in the green-foil smalls.

'And an unreclaimable blaygaird,' added the gentleman in purple.

The poor greengrocer bowed very humbly while these little
epithets were bestowed upon him, in the true spirit of the very
smallest tyranny; and when everybody had said something to
show his superiority, Mr. Tuckle proceeded to carve the leg of
mutton, and to help the company.

This important business of the evening had hardly commenced,
when the door was thrown briskly open, and another
gentleman in a light-blue suit, and leaden buttons, made his appearance.

'Against the rules,' said Mr. Tuckle.  'Too late, too late.'

'No, no; positively I couldn't help it,' said the gentleman in
blue.  'I appeal to the company.  An affair of gallantry now, an
appointment at the theayter.'

'Oh, that indeed,' said the gentleman in the orange plush.

'Yes; raly now, honour bright,' said the man in blue.  'I made a
promese to fetch our youngest daughter at half-past ten, and she
is such an uncauminly fine gal, that I raly hadn't the 'art to
disappint her.  No offence to the present company, Sir, but a
petticut, sir--a petticut, Sir, is irrevokeable.'

'I begin to suspect there's something in that quarter,' said
Tuckle, as the new-comer took his seat next Sam, 'I've remarked,
once or twice, that she leans very heavy on your shoulder when
she gets in and out of the carriage.'

'Oh, raly, raly, Tuckle, you shouldn't,' said the man in blue.
'It's not fair.  I may have said to one or two friends that she wos a
very divine creechure, and had refused one or two offers without
any hobvus cause, but--no, no, no, indeed, Tuckle--before
strangers, too--it's not right--you shouldn't.  Delicacy, my
dear friend, delicacy!'  And the man in blue, pulling up his
neckerchief, and adjusting his coat cuffs, nodded and frowned as
if there were more behind, which he could say if he liked, but was
bound in honour to suppress.

The man in blue being a light-haired, stiff-necked, free and easy
sort of footman, with a swaggering air and pert face, had
attracted Mr. Weller's special attention at first, but when he
began to come out in this way, Sam felt more than ever disposed
to cultivate his acquaintance; so he launched himself into the
conversation at once, with characteristic independence.

'Your health, Sir,' said Sam.  'I like your conversation much.
I think it's wery pretty.'

At this the man in blue smiled, as if it were a compliment he
was well used to; but looked approvingly on Sam at the same
time, and said he hoped he should be better acquainted with him,
for without any flattery at all he seemed to have the makings of a
very nice fellow about him, and to be just the man after his own heart.

'You're wery good, sir,' said Sam.  'What a lucky feller you are!'

'How do you mean?' inquired the gentleman in blue.

'That 'ere young lady,' replied Sam.'She knows wot's wot, she
does.  Ah! I see.'  Mr. Weller closed one eye, and shook his head
from side to side, in a manner which was highly gratifying to the
personal vanity of the gentleman in blue.

'I'm afraid your a cunning fellow, Mr. Weller,' said that
individual.

'No, no,' said Sam.  'I leave all that 'ere to you.  It's a great deal
more in your way than mine, as the gen'l'm'n on the right side o'
the garden vall said to the man on the wrong un, ven the mad
bull vos a-comin' up the lane.'

'Well, well, Mr. Weller,' said the gentleman in blue, 'I think she
has remarked my air and manner, Mr. Weller.'

'I should think she couldn't wery well be off o' that,' said Sam.

'Have you any little thing of that kind in hand, sir?' inquired
the favoured gentleman in blue, drawing a toothpick from his
waistcoat pocket.

'Not exactly,' said Sam.  'There's no daughters at my place,
else o' course I should ha' made up to vun on 'em.  As it is, I don't
think I can do with anythin' under a female markis.  I might keep
up with a young 'ooman o' large property as hadn't a title, if she
made wery fierce love to me.  Not else.'

'Of course not, Mr. Weller,' said the gentleman in blue, 'one
can't be troubled, you know; and WE know, Mr. Weller--we,
who are men of the world--that a good uniform must work its
way with the women, sooner or later.  In fact, that's the only
thing, between you and me, that makes the service worth entering into.'

'Just so,' said Sam.  'That's it, o' course.'

When this confidential dialogue had gone thus far, glasses were
placed round, and every gentleman ordered what he liked best,
before the public-house shut up.  The gentleman in blue, and the
man in orange, who were the chief exquisites of the party,
ordered 'cold shrub and water,' but with the others, gin-and-
water, sweet, appeared to be the favourite beverage.  Sam called
the greengrocer a 'desp'rate willin,' and ordered a large bowl of
punch--two circumstances which seemed to raise him very much
in the opinion of the selections.

'Gentlemen,' said the man in blue, with an air of the most
consummate dandyism, 'I'll give you the ladies; come.'

'Hear, hear!' said Sam.  'The young mississes.'

Here there was a loud cry of 'Order,' and Mr. John Smauker,
as the gentleman who had introduced Mr. Weller into that
company, begged to inform him that the word he had just made use
of, was unparliamentary.

'Which word was that 'ere, Sir?' inquired Sam.
'Mississes, Sir,' replied Mr. John Smauker, with an alarming
frown.  'We don't recognise such distinctions here.'

'Oh, wery good,' said Sam; 'then I'll amend the obserwation
and call 'em the dear creeturs, if Blazes vill allow me.'

Some doubt appeared to exist in the mind of the gentleman in
the green-foil smalls, whether the chairman could be legally
appealed to, as 'Blazes,' but as the company seemed more
disposed to stand upon their own rights than his, the question
was not raised.  The man with the cocked hat breathed short, and
looked long at Sam, but apparently thought it as well to say
nothing, in case he should get the worst of it.
After a short silence, a gentleman in an embroidered coat
reaching down to his heels, and a waistcoat of the same which
kept one half of his legs warm, stirred his gin-and-water with
great energy, and putting himself upon his feet, all at once by a
violent effort, said he was desirous of offering a few remarks to
the company, whereupon the person in the cocked hat had no
doubt that the company would be very happy to hear any
remarks that the man in the long coat might wish to offer.

'I feel a great delicacy, gentlemen, in coming for'ard,' said the
man in the long coat, 'having the misforchune to be a coachman,
and being only admitted as a honorary member of these agreeable
swarrys, but I do feel myself bound, gentlemen--drove into a
corner, if I may use the expression--to make known an afflicting
circumstance which has come to my knowledge; which has
happened I may say within the soap of my everyday contemplation.
Gentlemen, our friend Mr. Whiffers (everybody looked at
the individual in orange), our friend Mr. Whiffers has resigned.'

Universal astonishment fell upon the hearers.  Each gentleman
looked in his neighbour's face, and then transferred his glance to
the upstanding coachman.

'You may well be sapparised, gentlemen,' said the coachman.
'I will not wenchure to state the reasons of this irrepairabel loss
to the service, but I will beg Mr. Whiffers to state them himself,
for the improvement and imitation of his admiring friends.'

The suggestion being loudly approved of, Mr. Whiffers
explained.  He said he certainly could have wished to have continued
to hold the appointment he had just resigned.  The uniform
was extremely rich and expensive, the females of the family
was most agreeable, and the duties of the situation was not, he
was bound to say, too heavy; the principal service that was
required of him, being, that he should look out of the hall
window as much as possible, in company with another gentleman,
who had also resigned.  He could have wished to have spared that
company the painful and disgusting detail on which he was about
to enter, but as the explanation had been demanded of him, he
had no alternative but to state, boldly and distinctly, that he had
been required to eat cold meat.

It is impossible to conceive the disgust which this avowal
awakened in the bosoms of the hearers.  Loud cries of 'Shame,'
mingled with groans and hisses, prevailed for a quarter of an hour.

Mr. Whiffers then added that he feared a portion of this
outrage might be traced to his own forbearing and accommodating
disposition.  He had a distinct recollection of having once
consented to eat salt butter, and he had, moreover, on an occasion
of sudden sickness in the house, so far forgotten himself as to
carry a coal-scuttle up to the second floor.  He trusted he had not
lowered himself in the good opinion of his friends by this frank
confession of his faults; and he hoped the promptness with which
he had resented the last unmanly outrage on his feelings, to
which he had referred, would reinstate him in their good opinion,
if he had.

Mr. Whiffers's address was responded to, with a shout of
admiration, and the health of the interesting martyr was drunk
in a most enthusiastic manner; for this, the martyr returned
thanks, and proposed their visitor, Mr. Weller--a gentleman
whom he had not the pleasure of an intimate acquaintance with,
but who was the friend of Mr. John Smauker, which was a
sufficient letter of recommendation to any society of gentlemen
whatever, or wherever.  On this account, he should have been
disposed to have given Mr. Weller's health with all the honours,
if his friends had been drinking wine; but as they were taking
spirits by way of a change, and as it might be inconvenient to
empty a tumbler at every toast, he should propose that the
honours be understood.

At the conclusion of this speech, everybody took a sip in
honour of Sam; and Sam having ladled out, and drunk, two full
glasses of punch in honour of himself, returned thanks in a neat speech.

'Wery much obliged to you, old fellers,' said Sam, ladling
away at the punch in the most unembarrassed manner possible,
'for this here compliment; which, comin' from sich a quarter, is
wery overvelmin'.  I've heered a good deal on you as a body, but
I will say, that I never thought you was sich uncommon nice men
as I find you air.  I only hope you'll take care o' yourselves, and
not compromise nothin' o' your dignity, which is a wery charmin'
thing to see, when one's out a-walkin', and has always made me
wery happy to look at, ever since I was a boy about half as high
as the brass-headed stick o' my wery respectable friend, Blazes,
there.  As to the wictim of oppression in the suit o' brimstone, all
I can say of him, is, that I hope he'll get jist as good a berth as he
deserves; in vitch case it's wery little cold swarry as ever he'll be
troubled with agin.'

Here Sam sat down with a pleasant smile, and his speech
having been vociferously applauded, the company broke up.

'Wy, you don't mean to say you're a-goin' old feller?' said
Sam Weller to his friend, Mr. John Smauker.

'I must, indeed,' said Mr. Smauker; 'I promised Bantam.'

'Oh, wery well,' said Sam; 'that's another thing.  P'raps he'd
resign if you disappinted him.  You ain't a-goin', Blazes?'

'Yes, I am,' said the man with the cocked hat.

'Wot, and leave three-quarters of a bowl of punch behind
you!' said Sam; 'nonsense, set down agin.'

Mr. Tuckle was not proof against this invitation.  He laid aside
the cocked hat and stick which he had just taken up, and said he
would have one glass, for good fellowship's sake.

As the gentleman in blue went home the same way as Mr.
Tuckle, he was prevailed upon to stop too.  When the punch was
about half gone, Sam ordered in some oysters from the green-
grocer's shop; and the effect of both was so extremely exhilarating,
that Mr. Tuckle, dressed out with the cocked hat and stick,
danced the frog hornpipe among the shells on the table, while the
gentleman in blue played an accompaniment upon an ingenious
musical instrument formed of a hair-comb upon a curl-paper.
At last, when the punch was all gone, and the night nearly so,
they sallied forth to see each other home.  Mr. Tuckle no sooner
got into the open air, than he was seized with a sudden desire to
lie on the curbstone; Sam thought it would be a pity to contradict
him, and so let him have his own way.  As the cocked hat would
have been spoiled if left there, Sam very considerately flattened it
down on the head of the gentleman in blue, and putting the big
stick in his hand, propped him up against his own street-door,
rang the bell, and walked quietly home.

At a much earlier hour next morning than his usual time of
rising, Mr. Pickwick walked downstairs completely dressed, and
rang the bell.

'Sam,' said Mr. Pickwick, when Mr. Weller appeared in reply
to the summons, 'shut the door.'

Mr. Weller did so.

'There was an unfortunate occurrence here, last night, Sam,'
said Mr. Pickwick, 'which gave Mr. Winkle some cause to
apprehend violence from Mr. Dowler.'

'So I've heerd from the old lady downstairs, Sir,' replied Sam.

'And I'm sorry to say, Sam,' continued Mr. Pickwick, with a
most perplexed countenance, 'that in dread of this violence,
Mr. Winkle has gone away.'

'Gone avay!' said Sam.

'Left the house early this morning, without the slightest
previous communication with me,' replied Mr. Pickwick.  'And
is gone, I know not where.'

'He should ha' stopped and fought it out, Sir,' replied Sam
contemptuously.  'It wouldn't take much to settle that 'ere
Dowler, Sir.'

'Well, Sam,' said Mr. Pickwick, 'I may have my doubts of his
great bravery and determination also.  But however that may be,
Mr. Winkle is gone.  He must be found, Sam.  Found and brought
back to me.'
'And s'pose he won't come back, Sir?' said Sam.

'He must be made, Sam,' said Mr. Pickwick.

'Who's to do it, Sir?' inquired Sam, with a smile.

'You,' replied Mr. Pickwick.

'Wery good, Sir.'

With these words Mr. Weller left the room, and immediately
afterwards was heard to shut the street door.  In two hours' time
he returned with so much coolness as if he had been despatched
on the most ordinary message possible, and brought the information
that an individual, in every respect answering Mr. Winkle's
description, had gone over to Bristol that morning, by the branch
coach from the Royal Hotel.

'Sam,' said Mr. Pickwick, grasping his hand, 'you're a capital
fellow; an invaluable fellow.  You must follow him, Sam.'

'Cert'nly, Sir,' replied Mr. Weller.

'The instant you discover him, write to me immediately, Sam,'
said Mr. Pickwick.  'If he attempts to run away from you, knock
him down, or lock him up.  You have my full authority, Sam.'

'I'll be wery careful, sir,' rejoined Sam.

'You'll tell him,' said Mr. Pickwick, 'that I am highly excited,
highly displeased, and naturally indignant, at the very
extraordinary course he has thought proper to pursue.'

'I will, Sir,' replied Sam.

'You'll tell him,' said Mr. Pickwick, 'that if he does not come
back to this very house, with you, he will come back with me, for
I will come and fetch him.'

'I'll mention that 'ere, Sir,' rejoined Sam.

'You think you can find him, Sam?' said Mr. Pickwick, looking
earnestly in his face.

'Oh, I'll find him if he's anyvere,' rejoined Sam, with
great confidence.

'Very well,' said Mr. Pickwick.  'Then the sooner you go the
better.'

With these instructions, Mr. Pickwick placed a sum of money
in the hands of his faithful servitor, and ordered him to start for
Bristol immediately, in pursuit of the fugitive.

Sam put a few necessaries in a carpet-bag, and was ready for
starting.  He stopped when he had got to the end of the passage,
and walking quietly back, thrust his head in at the parlour door.

'Sir,' whispered Sam.

'Well, Sam,' said Mr. Pickwick.

'I fully understands my instructions, do I, Sir?' inquired Sam.

'I hope so,' said Mr. Pickwick.

'It's reg'larly understood about the knockin' down, is it, Sir?'
inquired Sam.

'Perfectly,' replied Pickwick.  'Thoroughly.  Do what you think
necessary.  You have my orders.'

Sam gave a nod of intelligence, and withdrawing his head
from the door, set forth on his pilgrimage with a light heart.


Charles Dickens