Subscribe for ad free access & additional features for teachers. Authors: 267, Books: 3,607, Poems & Short Stories: 4,435, Forum Members: 71,154, Forum Posts: 1,238,602, Quizzes: 344

Chapter 45


CHAPTER XLV
DESCRIPTIVE OF AN AFFECTING INTERVIEW BETWEEN Mr.
  SAMUEL WELLER AND A FAMILY PARTY.  Mr. PICKWICK
  MAKES A TOUR OF THE DIMINUTIVE WORLD HE
  INHABITS, AND RESOLVES TO MIX WITH IT, IN FUTURE,
  AS LITTLE AS POSSIBLE


A few mornings after his incarceration, Mr. Samuel Weller,
having arranged his master's room with all possible care, and
seen him comfortably seated over his books and papers, withdrew
to employ himself for an hour or two to come, as he best could.
It was a fine morning, and it occurred to Sam that a pint of
porter in the open air would lighten his next quarter of an hour
or so, as well as any little amusement in which he could indulge.

Having arrived at this conclusion, he betook himself to the
tap.  Having purchased the beer, and obtained, moreover, the
day-but-one-before-yesterday's paper, he repaired to the skittle-
ground, and seating himself on a bench, proceeded to enjoy
himself in a very sedate and methodical manner.

First of all, he took a refreshing draught of the beer, and then
he looked up at a window, and bestowed a platonic wink on a
young lady who was peeling potatoes thereat.  Then he opened
the paper, and folded it so as to get the police reports outwards;
and this being a vexatious and difficult thing to do, when there is
any wind stirring, he took another draught of the beer when he
had accomplished it.  Then, he read two lines of the paper, and
stopped short to look at a couple of men who were finishing a
game at rackets, which, being concluded, he cried out 'wery
good,' in an approving manner, and looked round upon the
spectators, to ascertain whether their sentiments coincided with
his own.  This involved the necessity of looking up at the windows
also; and as the young lady was still there, it was an act of
common politeness to wink again, and to drink to her good
health in dumb show, in another draught of the beer, which Sam
did; and having frowned hideously upon a small boy who had
noted this latter proceeding with open eyes, he threw one leg over
the other, and, holding the newspaper in both hands, began to
read in real earnest.

He had hardly composed himself into the needful state of
abstraction, when he thought he heard his own name proclaimed
in some distant passage.  Nor was he mistaken, for it quickly
passed from mouth to mouth, and in a few seconds the air
teemed with shouts of 'Weller!'
'Here!' roared Sam, in a stentorian voice.  'Wot's the matter?
Who wants him?  Has an express come to say that his country
house is afire?'

'Somebody wants you in the hall,' said a man who was standing by.

'Just mind that 'ere paper and the pot, old feller, will you?'
said Sam.  'I'm a-comin'.  Blessed, if they was a-callin' me to the
bar, they couldn't make more noise about it!'

Accompanying these words with a gentle rap on the head of the young
gentleman before noticed, who, unconscious of his close vicinity to
the person in request, was screaming 'Weller!' with all his might,
Sam hastened across the ground, and ran up the steps into the hall.
Here, the first object that met his eyes was his beloved father sitting
on a bottom stair, with his hat in his hand, shouting out 'Weller!' in
his very loudest tone, at half-minute intervals.

'Wot are you a-roarin' at?' said Sam impetuously, when the old
gentleman had discharged himself of another shout; 'making
yourself so precious hot that you looks like a aggrawated glass-
blower.  Wot's the matter?'

'Aha!' replied the old gentleman, 'I began to be afeerd that
you'd gone for a walk round the Regency Park, Sammy.'

'Come,' said Sam, 'none o' them taunts agin the wictim o'
avarice, and come off that 'ere step.  Wot arc you a-settin' down
there for?  I don't live there.'

'I've got such a game for you, Sammy,' said the elder Mr.
Weller, rising.

'Stop a minit,' said Sam, 'you're all vite behind.'

'That's right, Sammy, rub it off,' said Mr. Weller, as his son
dusted him.  'It might look personal here, if a man walked about
with vitevash on his clothes, eh, Sammy?'

As Mr. Weller exhibited in this place unequivocal symptoms
of an approaching fit of chuckling, Sam interposed to stop it.

'Keep quiet, do,' said Sam, 'there never vos such a old picter-
card born.  Wot are you bustin' vith, now?'

'Sammy,' said Mr. Weller, wiping his forehead, 'I'm afeerd
that vun o' these days I shall laugh myself into a appleplexy, my boy.'

'Vell, then, wot do you do it for?' said Sam.  'Now, then, wot
have you got to say?'

'Who do you think's come here with me, Samivel?' said Mr.
Weller, drawing back a pace or two, pursing up his mouth, and
extending his eyebrows.
'Pell?' said Sam.

Mr. Weller shook his head, and his red cheeks expanded with
the laughter that was endeavouring to find a vent.

'Mottled-faced man, p'raps?' asked Sam.

Again Mr. Weller shook his head.

'Who then?'asked Sam.

'Your mother-in-law,' said Mr. Weller; and it was lucky he did
say it, or his cheeks must inevitably have cracked, from their
most unnatural distension.

'Your mother--in--law, Sammy,' said Mr. Weller, 'and the
red-nosed man, my boy; and the red-nosed man.  Ho! ho! ho!'

With this, Mr. Weller launched into convulsions of laughter,
while Sam regarded him with a broad grin gradually over-
spreading his whole countenance.

'They've come to have a little serious talk with you, Samivel,'
said Mr. Weller, wiping his eyes.  'Don't let out nothin' about the
unnat'ral creditor, Sammy.'

'Wot, don't they know who it is?' inquired Sam.

'Not a bit on it,' replied his father.

'Vere are they?' said Sam, reciprocating all the old gentleman's grins.

'In the snuggery,' rejoined Mr. Weller.  'Catch the red-nosed
man a-goin' anyvere but vere the liquors is; not he, Samivel, not
he.  Ve'd a wery pleasant ride along the road from the Markis
this mornin', Sammy,' said Mr. Weller, when he felt himself
equal to the task of speaking in an articulate manner.  'I drove the
old piebald in that 'ere little shay-cart as belonged to your
mother-in-law's first wenter, into vich a harm-cheer wos lifted
for the shepherd; and I'm blessed,' said Mr. Weller, with a look
of deep scorn--'I'm blessed if they didn't bring a portable flight
o' steps out into the road a-front o' our door for him, to get up by.'

'You don't mean that?' said Sam.

'I do mean that, Sammy,' replied his father, 'and I vish you
could ha' seen how tight he held on by the sides wen he did get
up, as if he wos afeerd o' being precipitayted down full six foot, and
dashed into a million hatoms.  He tumbled in at last, however, and avay
ve vent; and I rayther think--I say I rayther think, Samivel--that he
found his-self a little jolted ven ve turned the corners.'

'Wot, I s'pose you happened to drive up agin a post or two?'
said Sam.
'I'm afeerd,' replied Mr. Weller, in a rapture of winks--'I'm
afeerd I took vun or two on 'em, Sammy; he wos a-flyin' out o'
the arm-cheer all the way.'

Here the old gentleman shook his head from side to side, and
was seized with a hoarse internal rumbling, accompanied with a
violent swelling of the countenance, and a sudden increase in the
breadth of all his features; symptoms which alarmed his son
not a little.

'Don't be frightened, Sammy, don't be frightened,' said the
old gentleman, when by dint of much struggling, and various
convulsive stamps upon the ground, he had recovered his
voice.  'It's only a kind o' quiet laugh as I'm a-tryin' to come, Sammy.'

'Well, if that's wot it is,' said Sam, 'you'd better not try to
come it agin.  You'll find it rayther a dangerous inwention.'

'Don't you like it, Sammy?' inquired the old gentleman.

'Not at all,' replied Sam.

'Well,' said Mr. Weller, with the tears still running down his
cheeks, 'it 'ud ha' been a wery great accommodation to me if I
could ha' done it, and 'ud ha' saved a good many vords atween
your mother-in-law and me, sometimes; but I'm afeerd you're
right, Sammy, it's too much in the appleplexy line--a deal too
much, Samivel.'

This conversation brought them to the door of the snuggery,
into which Sam--pausing for an instant to look over his shoulder,
and cast a sly leer at his respected progenitor, who was still
giggling behind--at once led the way.

'Mother-in-law,' said Sam, politely saluting the lady, 'wery
much obliged to you for this here wisit.--Shepherd, how air you?'

'Oh, Samuel!' said Mrs. Weller.  'This is dreadful.'

'Not a bit on it, mum,' replied Sam.--'Is it, shepherd?'

Mr. Stiggins raised his hands, and turned up his eyes, until the
whites--or rather the yellows--were alone visible; but made no
reply in words.

'Is this here gen'l'm'n troubled with any painful complaint?'
said Sam, looking to his mother-in-law for explanation.

'The good man is grieved to see you here, Samuel,' replied
Mrs. Weller.

'Oh, that's it, is it?' said Sam.  'I was afeerd, from his manner,
that he might ha' forgotten to take pepper vith that 'ere last
cowcumber he eat.  Set down, Sir, ve make no extra charge for
settin' down, as the king remarked wen he blowed up his ministers.'

'Young man,' said Mr. Stiggins ostentatiously, 'I fear you are
not softened by imprisonment.'

'Beg your pardon, Sir,' replied Sam; 'wot wos you graciously
pleased to hobserve?'

'I apprehend, young man, that your nature is no softer for this
chastening,' said Mr. Stiggins, in a loud voice.

'Sir,' replied Sam, 'you're wery kind to say so.  I hope my
natur is NOT a soft vun, Sir.  Wery much obliged to you for your
good opinion, Sir.'

At this point of the conversation, a sound, indecorously
approaching to a laugh, was heard to proceed from the chair
in which the elder Mr. Weller was seated; upon which Mrs.
Weller, on a hasty consideration of all the circumstances of the
case, considered it her bounden duty to become gradually hysterical.

'Weller,' said Mrs. W. (the old gentleman was seated in a
corner); 'Weller!  Come forth.'

'Wery much obleeged to you, my dear,' replied Mr. Weller;
'but I'm quite comfortable vere I am.'

Upon this, Mrs. Weller burst into tears.

'Wot's gone wrong, mum?' said Sam.

'Oh, Samuel!' replied Mrs. Weller, 'your father makes me
wretched.  Will nothing do him good?'

'Do you hear this here?' said Sam.  'Lady vants to know vether
nothin' 'ull do you good.'

'Wery much indebted to Mrs. Weller for her po-lite inquiries,
Sammy,' replied the old gentleman.  'I think a pipe vould benefit
me a good deal.  Could I be accommodated, Sammy?'

Here Mrs. Weller let fall some more tears, and Mr. Stiggins groaned.

'Hollo!  Here's this unfortunate gen'l'm'n took ill agin,' said
Sam, looking round.  'Vere do you feel it now, sir?'

'In the same place, young man,' rejoined Mr. Stiggins, 'in the
same place.'

'Vere may that be, Sir?' inquired Sam, with great outward simplicity.

'In the buzzim, young man,' replied Mr. Stiggins, placing his
umbrella on his waistcoat.

At this affecting reply, Mrs. Weller, being wholly unable to
suppress her feelings, sobbed aloud, and stated her conviction
that the red-nosed man was a saint; whereupon Mr. Weller,
senior, ventured to suggest, in an undertone, that he must be the
representative of the united parishes of St. Simon Without and
St. Walker Within.

'I'm afeered, mum,' said Sam, 'that this here gen'l'm'n, with
the twist in his countenance, feels rather thirsty, with the
melancholy spectacle afore him.  Is it the case, mum?'

The worthy lady looked at Mr. Stiggins for a reply; that
gentleman, with many rollings of the eye, clenched his throat
with his right hand, and mimicked the act of swallowing, to
intimate that he was athirst.

'I am afraid, Samuel, that his feelings have made him so
indeed,' said Mrs. Weller mournfully.

'Wot's your usual tap, sir?' replied Sam.

'Oh, my dear young friend,' replied Mr. Stiggins, 'all taps
is vanities!'

'Too true, too true, indeed,' said Mrs. Weller, murmuring a
groan, and shaking her head assentingly.

'Well,' said Sam, 'I des-say they may be, sir; but wich is your
partickler wanity?  Wich wanity do you like the flavour on
best, sir?'

'Oh, my dear young friend,' replied Mr. Stiggins, 'I despise
them all.  If,' said Mr. Stiggins--'if there is any one of them less
odious than another, it is the liquor called rum.  Warm, my dear
young friend, with three lumps of sugar to the tumbler.'

'Wery sorry to say, sir,' said Sam, 'that they don't allow that
particular wanity to be sold in this here establishment.'

'Oh, the hardness of heart of these inveterate men!' ejaculated
Mr. Stiggins.  'Oh, the accursed cruelty of these inhuman persecutors!'

With these words, Mr. Stiggins again cast up his eyes, and
rapped his breast with his umbrella; and it is but justice to the
reverend gentleman to say, that his indignation appeared very
real and unfeigned indeed.

After Mrs. Weller and the red-nosed gentleman had commented
on this inhuman usage in a very forcible manner, and
had vented a variety of pious and holy execrations against its
authors, the latter recommended a bottle of port wine, warmed
with a little water, spice, and sugar, as being grateful to the
stomach, and savouring less of vanity than many other compounds.
It was accordingly ordered to be prepared, and pending
its preparation the red-nosed man and Mrs. Weller looked at the
elder W. and groaned.

'Well, Sammy,' said the gentleman, 'I hope you'll find your
spirits rose by this here lively wisit.  Wery cheerful and improvin'
conwersation, ain't it, Sammy?'

'You're a reprobate,' replied Sam; 'and I desire you won't
address no more o' them ungraceful remarks to me.'

So far from being edified by this very proper reply, the elder
Mr. Weller at once relapsed into a broad grin; and this inexorable
conduct causing the lady and Mr. Stiggins to close their eyes, and
rock themselves to and fro on their chairs, in a troubled manner,
he furthermore indulged in several acts of pantomime, indicative
of a desire to pummel and wring the nose of the aforesaid
Stiggins, the performance of which, appeared to afford him great
mental relief.  The old gentleman very narrowly escaped detection
in one instance; for Mr. Stiggins happening to give a start on the
arrival of the negus, brought his head in smart contact with the
clenched fist with which Mr. Weller had been describing imaginary
fireworks in the air, within two inches of his ear, for some minutes.

'Wot are you a-reachin' out, your hand for the tumbler in that
'ere sawage way for?' said Sam, with great promptitude.  'Don't
you see you've hit the gen'l'm'n?'

'I didn't go to do it, Sammy,' said Mr. Weller, in some degree
abashed by the very unexpected occurrence of the incident.

'Try an in'ard application, sir,' said Sam, as the red-nosed
gentleman rubbed his head with a rueful visage.  'Wot do you
think o' that, for a go o' wanity, warm, Sir?'

Mr. Stiggins made no verbal answer, but his manner was
expressive.  He tasted the contents of the glass which Sam had
placed in his hand, put his umbrella on the floor, and tasted it
again, passing his hand placidly across his stomach twice or
thrice; he then drank the whole at a breath, and smacking his
lips, held out the tumbler for more.

Nor was Mrs. Weller behind-hand in doing justice to the
composition.  The good lady began by protesting that she couldn't
touch a drop--then took a small drop--then a large drop--
then a great many drops; and her feelings being of the nature
of those substances which are powerfully affected by the application
of strong waters, she dropped a tear with every drop
of negus, and so got on, melting the feelings down, until at
length she had arrived at a very pathetic and decent pitch of misery.

The elder Mr. Weller observed these signs and tokens with
many manifestations of disgust, and when, after a second jug of
the same, Mr. Stiggins began to sigh in a dismal manner, he
plainly evinced his disapprobation of the whole proceedings, by
sundry incoherent ramblings of speech, among which frequent
angry repetitions of the word 'gammon' were alone distinguishable
to the ear.

'I'll tell you wot it is, Samivel, my boy,' whispered the old
gentleman into his son's ear, after a long and steadfast
contemplation of his lady and Mr. Stiggins; 'I think there must be
somethin' wrong in your mother-in-law's inside, as vell as in that
o' the red-nosed man.'

'Wot do you mean?' said Sam.

'I mean this here, Sammy,' replied the old gentleman, 'that
wot they drink, don't seem no nourishment to 'em; it all turns to
warm water, and comes a-pourin' out o' their eyes.  'Pend upon
it, Sammy, it's a constitootional infirmity.'

Mr. Weller delivered this scientific opinion with many
confirmatory frowns and nods; which, Mrs. Weller remarking, and
concluding that they bore some disparaging reference either to
herself or to Mr. Stiggins, or to both, was on the point of
becoming infinitely worse, when Mr. Stiggins, getting on his legs
as well as he could, proceeded to deliver an edifying discourse for
the benefit of the company, but more especially of Mr. Samuel,
whom he adjured in moving terms to be upon his guard in that
sink of iniquity into which he was cast; to abstain from all
hypocrisy and pride of heart; and to take in all things exact
pattern and copy by him (Stiggins), in which case he might
calculate on arriving, sooner or later at the comfortable
conclusion, that, like him, he was a most estimable and blameless
character, and that all his acquaintances and friends were hopelessly
abandoned and profligate wretches.  Which consideration,
he said, could not but afford him the liveliest satisfaction.

He furthermore conjured him to avoid, above all things, the
vice of intoxication, which he likened unto the filthy habits of
swine, and to those poisonous and baleful drugs which being
chewed in the mouth, are said to filch away the memory.  At this
point of his discourse, the reverend and red-nosed gentleman
became singularly incoherent, and staggering to and fro in the
excitement of his eloquence, was fain to catch at the back of a
chair to preserve his perpendicular.

Mr. Stiggins did not desire his hearers to be upon their guard
against those false prophets and wretched mockers of religion,
who, without sense to expound its first doctrines, or hearts to feel
its first principles, are more dangerous members of society than
the common criminal; imposing, as they necessarily do, upon the
weakest and worst informed, casting scorn and contempt on
what should be held most sacred, and bringing into partial
disrepute large bodies of virtuous and well-conducted persons of
many excellent sects and persuasions.  But as he leaned over the
back of the chair for a considerable time, and closing one eye,
winked a good deal with the other, it is presumed that he thought
all this, but kept it to himself.

During the delivery of the oration, Mrs. Weller sobbed and
wept at the end of the paragraphs; while Sam, sitting cross-
legged on a chair and resting his arms on the top rail, regarded
the speaker with great suavity and blandness of demeanour;
occasionally bestowing a look of recognition on the old gentleman,
who was delighted at the beginning, and went to sleep
about half-way.

'Brayvo; wery pretty!' said Sam, when the red-nosed man
having finished, pulled his worn gloves on, thereby thrusting his
fingers through the broken tops till the knuckles were disclosed
to view.  'Wery pretty.'

'I hope it may do you good, Samuel,' said Mrs. Weller solemnly.

'I think it vill, mum,' replied Sam.

'I wish I could hope that it would do your father good,' said
Mrs. Weller.

'Thank'ee, my dear,' said Mr. Weller, senior.  'How do you find
yourself arter it, my love?'

'Scoffer!' exclaimed Mrs. Weller.

'Benighted man!' said the Reverend Mr. Stiggins.

'If I don't get no better light than that 'ere moonshine o'
yourn, my worthy creetur,' said the elder Mr. Weller, 'it's wery
likely as I shall continey to be a night coach till I'm took off the
road altogether.  Now, Mrs. We, if the piebald stands at livery
much longer, he'll stand at nothin' as we go back, and p'raps
that 'ere harm-cheer 'ull be tipped over into some hedge or
another, with the shepherd in it.'

At this supposition, the Reverend Mr. Stiggins, in evident
consternation, gathered up his hat and umbrella, and proposed
an immediate departure, to which Mrs. Weller assented.  Sam
walked with them to the lodge gate, and took a dutiful leave.

'A-do, Samivel,' said the old gentleman.

'Wot's a-do?' inquired Sammy.

'Well, good-bye, then,' said the old gentleman.

'Oh, that's wot you're aimin' at, is it?' said Sam.  'Good-bye!'

'Sammy,' whispered Mr. Weller, looking cautiously round;
'my duty to your gov'nor, and tell him if he thinks better o' this
here bis'ness, to com-moonicate vith me.  Me and a cab'net-
maker has dewised a plan for gettin' him out.  A pianner, Samivel
--a pianner!' said Mr. Weller, striking his son on the chest with
the back of his hand, and falling back a step or two.

'Wot do you mean?' said Sam.

'A pianner-forty, Samivel,' rejoined Mr. Weller, in a still more
mysterious manner, 'as he can have on hire; vun as von't play, Sammy.'

'And wot 'ud be the good o' that?' said Sam.

'Let him send to my friend, the cabinet-maker, to fetch it back,
Sammy,' replied Mr. Weller.  'Are you avake, now?'

'No,' rejoined Sam.

'There ain't no vurks in it,' whispered his father.  'It 'ull hold
him easy, vith his hat and shoes on, and breathe through the legs,
vich his holler.  Have a passage ready taken for 'Merriker.  The
'Merrikin gov'ment will never give him up, ven vunce they find
as he's got money to spend, Sammy.  Let the gov'nor stop there,
till Mrs. Bardell's dead, or Mr. Dodson and Fogg's hung (wich
last ewent I think is the most likely to happen first, Sammy),
and then let him come back and write a book about the
'Merrikins as'll pay all his expenses and more, if he blows 'em
up enough.'

Mr. Weller delivered this hurried abstract of his plot with
great vehemence of whisper; and then, as if fearful of weakening
the effect of the tremendous communication by any further
dialogue, he gave the coachman's salute, and vanished.

Sam had scarcely recovered his usual composure of countenance,
which had been greatly disturbed by the secret communication
of his respected relative, when Mr. Pickwick accosted him.

'Sam,' said that gentleman.

'Sir,' replied Mr. Weller.

'I am going for a walk round the prison, and I wish you to
attend me.  I see a prisoner we know coming this way, Sam,' said
Mr. Pickwick, smiling.

'Wich, Sir?' inquired Mr. Weller; 'the gen'l'm'n vith the head
o' hair, or the interestin' captive in the stockin's?'

'Neither,' rejoined Mr. Pickwick.  'He is an older friend of
yours, Sam.'

'O' mine, Sir?' exclaimed Mr. Weller.

'You recollect the gentleman very well, I dare say, Sam,'
replied Mr. Pickwick, 'or else you are more unmindful of your
old acquaintances than I think you are.  Hush! not a word, Sam;
not a syllable.  Here he is.'

As Mr. Pickwick spoke, Jingle walked up.  He looked less
miserable than before, being clad in a half-worn suit of clothes,
which, with Mr. Pickwick's assistance, had been released
from the pawnbroker's.  He wore clean linen too, and had had
his hair cut.  He was very pale and thin, however; and as he
crept slowly up, leaning on a stick, it was easy to see that he
had suffered severely from illness and want, and was still very
weak.  He took off his hat as Mr. Pickwick saluted him,
and seemed much humbled and abashed at the sight of Sam Weller.

Following close at his heels, came Mr. Job Trotter, in the
catalogue of whose vices, want of faith and attachment to his
companion could at all events find no place.  He was still ragged
and squalid, but his face was not quite so hollow as on his first
meeting with Mr. Pickwick, a few days before.  As he took off his
hat to our benevolent old friend, he murmured some broken
expressions of gratitude, and muttered something about having
been saved from starving.

'Well, well,' said Mr. Pickwick, impatiently interrupting him,
'you can follow with Sam.  I want to speak to you, Mr. Jingle.
Can you walk without his arm?'

'Certainly, sir--all ready--not too fast--legs shaky--head
queer--round and round--earthquaky sort of feeling--very.'

'Here, give me your arm,' said Mr. Pickwick.

'No, no,' replied Jingle; 'won't indeed--rather not.'

'Nonsense,' said Mr. Pickwick; 'lean upon me, I desire, Sir.'

Seeing that he was confused and agitated, and uncertain what
to do, Mr. Pickwick cut the matter short by drawing the invalided
stroller's arm through his, and leading him away, without saying
another word about it.

During the whole of this time the countenance of Mr. Samuel
Weller had exhibited an expression of the most overwhelming
and absorbing astonishment that the imagination can portray.
After looking from Job to Jingle, and from Jingle to Job in
profound silence, he softly ejaculated the words, 'Well, I AM
damn'd!' which he repeated at least a score of times; after which
exertion, he appeared wholly bereft of speech, and again cast his
eyes, first upon the one and then upon the other, in mute
perplexity and bewilderment.

'Now, Sam!' said Mr. Pickwick, looking back.

'I'm a-comin', sir,' replied Mr. Weller, mechanically following
his master; and still he lifted not his eyes from Mr. Job Trotter,
who walked at his side in silence.
Job kept his eyes fixed on the ground for some time.  Sam, with
his glued to Job's countenance, ran up against the people who
were walking about, and fell over little children, and stumbled
against steps and railings, without appearing at all sensible of it,
until Job, looking stealthily up, said--

'How do you do, Mr. Weller?'

'It IS him!' exclaimed Sam; and having established Job's
identity beyond all doubt, he smote his leg, and vented his
feelings in a long, shrill whistle.

'Things has altered with me, sir,' said Job.

'I should think they had,' exclaimed Mr. Weller, surveying his
companion's rags with undisguised wonder.  'This is rayther a
change for the worse, Mr. Trotter, as the gen'l'm'n said, wen he
got two doubtful shillin's and sixpenn'orth o' pocket-pieces for a
good half-crown.'

'It is indeed,' replied Job, shaking his head.  'There is no
deception now, Mr. Weller.  Tears,' said Job, with a look of
momentary slyness--'tears are not the only proofs of distress,
nor the best ones.'

'No, they ain't,' replied Sam expressively.

'They may be put on, Mr. Weller,' said Job.

'I know they may,' said Sam; 'some people, indeed, has 'em
always ready laid on, and can pull out the plug wenever they likes.'

'Yes,' replied Job; 'but these sort of things are not so easily
counterfeited, Mr. Weller, and it is a more painful process to get
them up.'  As he spoke, he pointed to his sallow, sunken cheeks,
and, drawing up his coat sleeve, disclosed an arm which looked
as if the bone could be broken at a touch, so sharp and brittle did
it appear, beneath its thin covering of flesh.

'Wot have you been a-doin' to yourself?' said Sam, recoiling.

'Nothing,' replied Job.

'Nothin'!' echoed Sam.

'I have been doin' nothing for many weeks past,' said Job;
and eating and drinking almost as little.'

Sam took one comprehensive glance at Mr. Trotter's thin face
and wretched apparel; and then, seizing him by the arm,
commenced dragging him away with great violence.

'Where are you going, Mr. Weller?' said Job, vainly struggling
in the powerful grasp of his old enemy.
'Come on,' said Sam; 'come on!'  He deigned no further
explanation till they reached the tap, and then called for a pot of
porter, which was speedily produced.

'Now,' said Sam, 'drink that up, ev'ry drop on it, and then
turn the pot upside down, to let me see as you've took the medicine.'

'But, my dear Mr. Weller,' remonstrated Job.

'Down vith it!' said Sam peremptorily.

Thus admonished, Mr. Trotter raised the pot to his lips, and,
by gentle and almost imperceptible degrees, tilted it into the air.
He paused once, and only once, to draw a long breath, but
without raising his face from the vessel, which, in a few moments
thereafter, he held out at arm's length, bottom upward.  Nothing
fell upon the ground but a few particles of froth, which slowly
detached themselves from the rim, and trickled lazily down.

'Well done!' said Sam.  'How do you find yourself arter it?'

'Better, Sir.  I think I am better,' responded Job.

'O' course you air,' said Sam argumentatively.  'It's like puttin'
gas in a balloon.  I can see with the naked eye that you gets
stouter under the operation.  Wot do you say to another o' the
same dimensions?'

'I would rather not, I am much obliged to you, Sir,' replied
Job--'much rather not.'

'Vell, then, wot do you say to some wittles?' inquired Sam.

'Thanks to your worthy governor, Sir,' said Mr. Trotter, 'we
have half a leg of mutton, baked, at a quarter before three, with
the potatoes under it to save boiling.'

'Wot!  Has HE been a-purwidin' for you?' asked Sam emphatically.

'He has, Sir,' replied Job.  'More than that, Mr. Weller; my
master being very ill, he got us a room--we were in a kennel
before--and paid for it, Sir; and come to look at us, at night,
when nobody should know.  Mr. Weller,' said Job, with real tears
in his eyes, for once, 'I could serve that gentleman till I fell down
dead at his feet.'

'I say!' said Sam, 'I'll trouble you, my friend!  None o' that!'

Job Trotter looked amazed.

'None o' that, I say, young feller,' repeated Sam firmly.  'No
man serves him but me.  And now we're upon it, I'll let you into
another secret besides that,' said Sam, as he paid for the beer.
'I never heerd, mind you, or read of in story-books, nor see in
picters, any angel in tights and gaiters--not even in spectacles, as
I remember, though that may ha' been done for anythin' I know
to the contrairey--but mark my vords, Job Trotter, he's a reg'lar
thoroughbred angel for all that; and let me see the man as
wenturs to tell me he knows a better vun.'  With this defiance,
Mr. Weller buttoned up his change in a side pocket, and, with
many confirmatory nods and gestures by the way, proceeded in
search of the subject of discourse.

They found Mr. Pickwick, in company with Jingle, talking very
earnestly, and not bestowing a look on the groups who were
congregated on the racket-ground; they were very motley groups
too, and worth the looking at, if it were only in idle curiosity.

'Well,' said Mr. Pickwick, as Sam and his companion drew
nigh, 'you will see how your health becomes, and think about it
meanwhile.  Make the statement out for me when you feel yourself
equal to the task, and I will discuss the subject with you when
I have considered it.  Now, go to your room.  You are tired, and
not strong enough to be out long.'

Mr. Alfred Jingle, without one spark of his old animation--
with nothing even of the dismal gaiety which he had assumed
when Mr. Pickwick first stumbled on him in his misery--bowed
low without speaking, and, motioning to Job not to follow him
just yet, crept slowly away.

'Curious scene this, is it not, Sam?' said Mr. Pickwick, looking
good-humouredly round.

'Wery much so, Sir,' replied Sam.  'Wonders 'ull never cease,'
added Sam, speaking to himself.  'I'm wery much mistaken if that
,ere Jingle worn't a-doin somethin' in the water-cart way!'

The area formed by the wall in that part of the Fleet in which
Mr. Pickwick stood was just wide enough to make a good
racket-court; one side being formed, of course, by the wall itself,
and the other by that portion of the prison which looked (or
rather would have looked, but for the wall) towards St.  Paul's
Cathedral.  Sauntering or sitting about, in every possible attitude
of listless idleness, were a great number of debtors, the major
part of whom were waiting in prison until their day of 'going up'
before the Insolvent Court should arrive; while others had been
remanded for various terms, which they were idling away as they
best could.  Some were shabby, some were smart, many dirty, a
few clean; but there they all lounged, and loitered, and slunk
about with as little spirit or purpose as the beasts in a menagerie.

Lolling from the windows which commanded a view of this
promenade were a number of persons, some in noisy conversation
with their acquaintance below, others playing at ball with some
adventurous throwers outside, others looking on at the racket-
players, or watching the boys as they cried the game.  Dirty,
slipshod women passed and repassed, on their way to the cooking-
house in one corner of the yard; children screamed, and fought,
and played together, in another; the tumbling of the skittles, and
the shouts of the players, mingled perpetually with these and a
hundred other sounds; and all was noise and tumult--save in a
little miserable shed a few yards off, where lay, all quiet and
ghastly, the body of the Chancery prisoner who had died the
night before, awaiting the mockery of an inquest.  The body!  It is
the lawyer's term for the restless, whirling mass of cares and
anxieties, affections, hopes, and griefs, that make up the living
man.  The law had his body; and there it lay, clothed in grave-
clothes, an awful witness to its tender mercy.

'Would you like to see a whistling-shop, Sir?' inquired Job Trotter.

'What do you mean?' was Mr. Pickwick's counter inquiry.

'A vistlin' shop, Sir,' interposed Mr. Weller.

'What is that, Sam?--A bird-fancier's?' inquired Mr. Pickwick.

'Bless your heart, no, Sir,' replied Job; 'a whistling-shop, Sir, is
where they sell spirits.'  Mr. Job Trotter briefly explained here,
that all persons, being prohibited under heavy penalties from
conveying spirits into debtors' prisons, and such commodities
being highly prized by the ladies and gentlemen confined therein,
it had occurred to some speculative turnkey to connive, for
certain lucrative considerations, at two or three prisoners retailing
the favourite article of gin, for their own profit and advantage.

'This plan, you see, Sir, has been gradually introduced into all
the prisons for debt,' said Mr. Trotter.

'And it has this wery great advantage,' said Sam, 'that the
turnkeys takes wery good care to seize hold o' ev'rybody but
them as pays 'em, that attempts the willainy, and wen it gets in
the papers they're applauded for their wigilance; so it cuts two
ways--frightens other people from the trade, and elewates their
own characters.'

'Exactly so, Mr. Weller,' observed Job.

'Well, but are these rooms never searched to ascertain whether
any spirits are concealed in them?' said Mr. Pickwick.

'Cert'nly they are, Sir,' replied Sam; 'but the turnkeys knows
beforehand, and gives the word to the wistlers, and you may
wistle for it wen you go to look.'

By this time, Job had tapped at a door, which was opened by a
gentleman with an uncombed head, who bolted it after them
when they had walked in, and grinned; upon which Job grinned,
and Sam also; whereupon Mr. Pickwick, thinking it might be
expected of him, kept on smiling to the end of the interview.

The gentleman with the uncombed head appeared quite
satisfied with this mute announcement of their business, and,
producing a flat stone bottle, which might hold about a couple
of quarts, from beneath his bedstead, filled out three glasses of
gin, which Job Trotter and Sam disposed of in a most
workmanlike manner.

'Any more?' said the whistling gentleman.

'No more,' replied Job Trotter.

Mr. Pickwick paid, the door was unbolted, and out they came;
the uncombed gentleman bestowing a friendly nod upon Mr.
Roker, who happened to be passing at the moment.

From this spot, Mr. Pickwick wandered along all the galleries,
up and down all the staircases, and once again round the whole
area of the yard.  The great body of the prison population
appeared to be Mivins, and Smangle, and the parson, and the
butcher, and the leg, over and over, and over again.  There were
the same squalor, the same turmoil and noise, the same general
characteristics, in every corner; in the best and the worst alike.
The whole place seemed restless and troubled; and the people
were crowding and flitting to and fro, like the shadows in an
uneasy dream.

'I have seen enough,' said Mr. Pickwick, as he threw himself
into a chair in his little apartment.  'My head aches with these
scenes, and my heart too.  Henceforth I will be a prisoner in my
own room.'

And Mr. Pickwick steadfastly adhered to this determination.
For three long months he remained shut up, all day; only
stealing out at night to breathe the air, when the greater part of his
fellow-prisoners were in bed or carousing in their rooms.  His
health was beginning to suffer from the closeness of the confinement,
but neither the often-repeated entreaties of Perker and his
friends, nor the still more frequently-repeated warnings and
admonitions of Mr. Samuel Weller, could induce him to alter one
jot of his inflexible resolution.


Charles Dickens