Chapter 15 In which is given a faithful Portraiture of two distinguishe_ersons; and an accurate Description of a public Breakfast in their House an_rounds: which public Breakfast leads to the Recognition of an ol_cquaintance, and the Commencement of
Mr. Pickwick’s conscience had been somewhat reproaching him for his recen_eglect of his friends at the Peacock; and he was just on the point of walkin_orth in quest of them, on the third morning after the election ha_erminated, when his faithful valet put into his hand a card, on which wa_ngraved the following inscription:—
Mrs. Leo Hunter
The Den. Eatanswill.
‘Person’s a–waitin’,’ said Sam, epigrammatically.
‘Does the person want me, Sam?’ inquired Mr. Pickwick.
‘He wants you partickler; and no one else ‘ll do, as the devil’s privat_ecretary said ven he fetched avay Doctor Faustus,’ replied Mr. Weller.
‘He. Is it a gentleman?’ said Mr. Pickwick.
‘A wery good imitation o’ one, if it ain’t,’ replied Mr. Weller.
‘But this is a lady’s card,’ said Mr. Pickwick.
‘Given me by a gen’l’m’n, howsoever,’ replied Sam, ‘and he’s a–waitin’ in th_rawing–room—said he’d rather wait all day, than not see you.’
Mr. Pickwick, on hearing this determination, descended to the drawing–room, where sat a grave man, who started up on his entrance, and said, with an ai_f profound respect:—
‘Mr. Pickwick, I presume?’
‘Allow me, Sir, the honour of grasping your hand. Permit me, Sir, to shak_t,’ said the grave man.
‘Certainly,’ said Mr. Pickwick. The stranger shook the extended hand, and the_ontinued—
‘We have heard of your fame, sir. The noise of your antiquarian discussion ha_eached the ears of Mrs. Leo Hunter—my wife, sir; I am Mr. Leo Hunter’—th_tranger paused, as if he expected that Mr. Pickwick would be overcome by th_isclosure; but seeing that he remained perfectly calm, proceeded—
‘My wife, sir—Mrs. Leo Hunter—is proud to number among her acquaintance al_hose who have rendered themselves celebrated by their works and talents.
Permit me, sir, to place in a conspicuous part of the list the name of Mr.
Pickwick, and his brother–members of the club that derives its name from him.’
‘I shall be extremely happy to make the acquaintance of such a lady, sir,’ replied Mr. Pickwick.
‘You shall make it, sir,’ said the grave man. ‘To–morrow morning, sir, we giv_ public breakfast—a fete champetre—to a great number of those who hav_endered themselves celebrated by their works and talents. Permit Mrs. Le_unter, Sir, to have the gratification of seeing you at the Den.’
‘With great pleasure,’ replied Mr. Pickwick.
‘Mrs. Leo Hunter has many of these breakfasts, Sir,’ resumed the ne_cquaintance—’“feasts of reason,” sir, “and flows of soul,” as somebody wh_rote a sonnet to Mrs. Leo Hunter on her breakfasts, feelingly and originall_bserved.’
‘Was he celebrated for his works and talents?’ inquired Mr. Pickwick.
‘He was Sir,’ replied the grave man, ‘all Mrs. Leo Hunter’s acquaintances are; it is her ambition, sir, to have no other acquaintance.’
‘It is a very noble ambition,’ said Mr. Pickwick.
‘When I inform Mrs. Leo Hunter, that that remark fell from your lips, sir, sh_ill indeed be proud,’ said the grave man. ‘You have a gentleman in you_rain, who has produced some beautiful little poems, I think, sir.’
‘My friend Mr. Snodgrass has a great taste for poetry,’ replied Mr. Pickwick.
‘So has Mrs. Leo Hunter, Sir. She dotes on poetry, sir. She adores it; I ma_ay that her whole soul and mind are wound up, and entwined with it. She ha_roduced some delightful pieces, herself, sir. You may have met with her “Od_o an Expiring Frog,” sir.’
‘I don’t think I have,’ said Mr. Pickwick.
‘You astonish me, Sir,’ said Mr. Leo Hunter. ‘It created an immense sensation.
It was signed with an “L” and eight stars, and appeared originally in a lady’_agazine. It commenced—
‘“Can I view thee panting, lying.
On thy stomach, without sighing;
Can I unmoved see thee dying
On a log
‘Beautiful!’ said Mr. Pickwick.
‘Fine,’ said Mr. Leo Hunter; ‘so simple.’
‘Very,’ said Mr. Pickwick.
‘The next verse is still more touching. Shall I repeat it?’
‘If you please,’ said Mr. Pickwick.
‘It runs thus,’ said the grave man, still more gravely.
‘“Say, have fiends in shape of boys,
With wild halloo, and brutal noise,
Hunted thee from marshy joys,
With a dog,
‘Finely expressed,’ said Mr. Pickwick. ‘All point, Sir,’ said Mr. Leo Hunter; ‘but you shall hear Mrs. Leo Hunter repeat it. She can do justice to it, Sir.
She will repeat it, in character, Sir, to–morrow morning.’
‘As Minerva. But I forgot—it’s a fancy–dress dejeune.’
‘Dear me,’ said Mr. Pickwick, glancing at his own figure—‘I can’t possibly—’
‘Can’t, sir; can’t!’ exclaimed Mr. Leo Hunter. ‘Solomon Lucas, the Jew in th_igh Street, has thousands of fancy–dresses. Consider, Sir, how man_ppropriate characters are open for your selection. Plato, Zeno, Epicurus, Pythagoras—all founders of clubs.’
‘I know that,’ said Mr. Pickwick; ‘but as I cannot put myself in competitio_ith those great men, I cannot presume to wear their dresses.’
The grave man considered deeply, for a few seconds, and then said—
‘On reflection, Sir, I don’t know whether it would not afford Mrs. Leo Hunte_reater pleasure, if her guests saw a gentleman of your celebrity in his ow_ostume, rather than in an assumed one. I may venture to promise an exceptio_n your case, sir—yes, I am quite certain that, on behalf of Mrs. Leo Hunter, I may venture to do so.’
‘In that case,’ said Mr. Pickwick, ‘I shall have great pleasure in coming.’
‘But I waste your time, Sir,’ said the grave man, as if suddenly recollectin_imself. ‘I know its value, sir. I will not detain you. I may tell Mrs. Le_unter, then, that she may confidently expect you and your distinguishe_riends? Good–morning, Sir, I am proud to have beheld so eminent _ersonage—not a step sir; not a word.’ And without giving Mr. Pickwick time t_ffer remonstrance or denial, Mr. Leo Hunter stalked gravely away.
Mr. Pickwick took up his hat, and repaired to the Peacock, but Mr. Winkle ha_onveyed the intelligence of the fancy–ball there, before him.
‘Mrs. Pott’s going,’ were the first words with which he saluted his leader.
‘Is she?’ said Mr. Pickwick.
‘As Apollo,’ replied Winkle. ‘Only Pott objects to the tunic.’
‘He is right. He is quite right,’ said Mr. Pickwick emphatically.
‘Yes; so she’s going to wear a white satin gown with gold spangles.’
‘They’ll hardly know what she’s meant for; will they?’ inquired Mr. Snodgrass.
‘Of course they will,’ replied Mr. Winkle indignantly. ‘They’ll see her lyre, won’t they?’
‘True; I forgot that,’ said Mr. Snodgrass.
‘I shall go as a bandit,‘interposed Mr. Tupman.
‘What!’ said Mr. Pickwick, with a sudden start.
‘As a bandit,’ repeated Mr. Tupman, mildly.
‘You don’t mean to say,’ said Mr. Pickwick, gazing with solemn sternness a_is friend—‘you don’t mean to say, Mr. Tupman, that it is your intention t_ut yourself into a green velvet jacket, with a two–inch tail?’
‘Such is my intention, Sir,’ replied Mr. Tupman warmly. ‘And why not, sir?’
‘Because, Sir,’ said Mr. Pickwick, considerably excited—‘because you are to_ld, Sir.’
‘Too old!’ exclaimed Mr. Tupman.
‘And if any further ground of objection be wanting,’ continued Mr. Pickwick, ‘you are too fat, sir.’
‘Sir,’ said Mr. Tupman, his face suffused with a crimson glow, ‘this is a_nsult.’
‘Sir,’ replied Mr. Pickwick, in the same tone, ‘it is not half the insult t_ou, that your appearance in my presence in a green velvet jacket, with _wo–inch tail, would be to me.’
‘Sir,’ said Mr. Tupman, ‘you’re a fellow.’
‘Sir,’ said Mr. Pickwick, ‘you’re another!’
Mr. Tupman advanced a step or two, and glared at Mr. Pickwick. Mr. Pickwic_eturned the glare, concentrated into a focus by means of his spectacles, an_reathed a bold defiance. Mr. Snodgrass and Mr. Winkle looked on, petrified a_eholding such a scene between two such men.
‘Sir,’ said Mr. Tupman, after a short pause, speaking in a low, deep voice, ‘you have called me old.’
‘I have,’ said Mr. Pickwick.
‘I reiterate the charge.’
‘And a fellow.’
‘So you are!’
There was a fearful pause.
‘My attachment to your person, sir,’ said Mr. Tupman, speaking in a voic_remulous with emotion, and tucking up his wristbands meanwhile, ‘i_reat—very great—but upon that person, I must take summary vengeance.’
‘Come on, Sir!’ replied Mr. Pickwick. Stimulated by the exciting nature of th_ialogue, the heroic man actually threw himself into a paralytic attitude, confidently supposed by the two bystanders to have been intended as a postur_f defence.
‘What!’ exclaimed Mr. Snodgrass, suddenly recovering the power of speech, o_hich intense astonishment had previously bereft him, and rushing between th_wo, at the imminent hazard of receiving an application on the temple fro_ach—‘what! Mr. Pickwick, with the eyes of the world upon you! Mr. Tupman!
who, in common with us all, derives a lustre from his undying name! For shame, gentlemen; for shame.’
The unwonted lines which momentary passion had ruled in Mr. Pickwick’s clea_nd open brow, gradually melted away, as his young friend spoke, like th_arks of a black–lead pencil beneath the softening influence of india–rubber.
His countenance had resumed its usual benign expression, ere he concluded.
‘I have been hasty,’ said Mr. Pickwick, ‘very hasty. Tupman; your hand.’
The dark shadow passed from Mr. Tupman’s face, as he warmly grasped the han_f his friend.
‘I have been hasty, too,’ said he.
‘No, no,’ interrupted Mr. Pickwick, ‘the fault was mine. You will wear th_reen velvet jacket?’
‘No, no,’ replied Mr. Tupman.
‘To oblige me, you will,’ resumed Mr. Pickwick.
‘Well, well, I will,’ said Mr. Tupman.
It was accordingly settled that Mr. Tupman, Mr. Winkle, and Mr. Snodgrass, should all wear fancy–dresses. Thus Mr. Pickwick was led by the very warmth o_is own good feelings to give his consent to a proceeding from which hi_etter judgment would have recoiled—a more striking illustration of hi_miable character could hardly have been conceived, even if the event_ecorded in these pages had been wholly imaginary.
Mr. Leo Hunter had not exaggerated the resources of Mr. Solomon Lucas. Hi_ardrobe was extensive—very extensive—not strictly classical perhaps, no_uite new, nor did it contain any one garment made precisely after the fashio_f any age or time, but everything was more or less spangled; and what can b_rettier than spangles! It may be objected that they are not adapted to th_aylight, but everybody knows that they would glitter if there were lamps; an_othing can be clearer than that if people give fancy–balls in the day–time, and the dresses do not show quite as well as they would by night, the faul_ies solely with the people who give the fancy–balls, and is in no wis_hargeable on the spangles. Such was the convincing reasoning of Mr. Solomo_ucas; and influenced by such arguments did Mr. Tupman, Mr. Winkle, and Mr.
Snodgrass engage to array themselves in costumes which his taste an_xperience induced him to recommend as admirably suited to the occasion.
A carriage was hired from the Town Arms, for the accommodation of th_ickwickians, and a chariot was ordered from the same repository, for th_urpose of conveying Mr. and Mrs. Pott to Mrs. Leo Hunter’s grounds, which Mr.
Pott, as a delicate acknowledgment of having received an invitation, ha_lready confidently predicted in the Eatanswill Gazette ‘would present a scen_f varied and delicious enchantment—a bewildering coruscation of beauty an_alent—a lavish and prodigal display of hospitality—above all, a degree o_plendour softened by the most exquisite taste; and adornment refined wit_erfect harmony and the chastest good keeping—compared with which, the fable_orgeousness of Eastern fairyland itself would appear to be clothed in as man_ark and murky colours, as must be the mind of the splenetic and unmanly bein_ho could presume to taint with the venom of his envy, the preparations mad_y the virtuous and highly distinguished lady at whose shrine this humbl_ribute of admiration was offered.’ This last was a piece of biting sarcas_gainst the Independent, who, in consequence of not having been invited a_ll, had been, through four numbers, affecting to sneer at the whole affair, in his very largest type, with all the adjectives in capital letters.
The morning came: it was a pleasant sight to behold Mr. Tupman in ful_rigand’s costume, with a very tight jacket, sitting like a pincushion ove_is back and shoulders, the upper portion of his legs incased in the velve_horts, and the lower part thereof swathed in the complicated bandages t_hich all brigands are peculiarly attached. It was pleasing to see his ope_nd ingenuous countenance, well mustachioed and corked, looking out from a_pen shirt collar; and to contemplate the sugar–loaf hat, decorated wit_ibbons of all colours, which he was compelled to carry on his knee, inasmuc_s no known conveyance with a top to it, would admit of any man’s carrying i_etween his head and the roof. Equally humorous and agreeable was th_ppearance of Mr. Snodgrass in blue satin trunks and cloak, white silk tight_nd shoes, and Grecian helmet, which everybody knows (and if they do not, Mr.
Solomon Lucas did) to have been the regular, authentic, everyday costume of _roubadour, from the earliest ages down to the time of their fina_isappearance from the face of the earth. All this was pleasant, but this wa_s nothing compared with the shouting of the populace when the carriage dre_p, behind Mr. Pott’s chariot, which chariot itself drew up at Mr. Pott’_oor, which door itself opened, and displayed the great Pott accoutred as _ussian officer of justice, with a tremendous knout in his hand—tastefull_ypical of the stern and mighty power of the Eatanswill Gazette, and th_earful lashings it bestowed on public offenders.
‘Bravo!’ shouted Mr. Tupman and Mr. Snodgrass from the passage, when the_eheld the walking allegory.
‘Bravo!’ Mr. Pickwick was heard to exclaim, from the passage.
‘Hoo–roar Pott!’ shouted the populace. Amid these salutations, Mr. Pott, smiling with that kind of bland dignity which sufficiently testified that h_elt his power, and knew how to exert it, got into the chariot.
Then there emerged from the house, Mrs. Pott, who would have looked very lik_pollo if she hadn’t had a gown on, conducted by Mr. Winkle, who, in hi_ight–red coat could not possibly have been mistaken for anything but _portsman, if he had not borne an equal resemblance to a general postman. Las_f all came Mr. Pickwick, whom the boys applauded as loud as anybody, probabl_nder the impression that his tights and gaiters were some remnants of th_ark ages; and then the two vehicles proceeded towards Mrs. Leo Hunter’s; Mr.
Weller (who was to assist in waiting) being stationed on the box of that i_hich his master was seated.
Every one of the men, women, boys, girls, and babies, who were assembled t_ee the visitors in their fancy–dresses, screamed with delight and ecstasy, when Mr. Pickwick, with the brigand on one arm, and the troubadour on th_ther, walked solemnly up the entrance. Never were such shouts heard as thos_hich greeted Mr. Tupman’s efforts to fix the sugar–loaf hat on his head, b_ay of entering the garden in style.
The preparations were on the most delightful scale; fully realising th_rophetic Pott’s anticipations about the gorgeousness of Eastern fairyland, and at once affording a sufficient contradiction to the malignant statement_f the reptile Independent. The grounds were more than an acre and a quarte_n extent, and they were filled with people! Never was such a blaze of beauty, and fashion, and literature. There was the young lady who ‘did’ the poetry i_he Eatanswill Gazette, in the garb of a sultana, leaning upon the arm of th_oung gentleman who ‘did’ the review department, and who was appropriatel_abited in a field–marshal’s uniform—the boots excepted. There were hosts o_hese geniuses, and any reasonable person would have thought it honour enoug_o meet them. But more than these, there were half a dozen lions fro_ondon—authors, real authors, who had written whole books, and printed the_fterwards—and here you might see ’em, walking about, like ordinary men, smiling, and talking—aye, and talking pretty considerable nonsense too, n_oubt with the benign intention of rendering themselves intelligible to th_ommon people about them. Moreover, there was a band of music in pasteboar_aps; four something–ean singers in the costume of their country, and a doze_ired waiters in the costume of their country—and very dirty costume too. An_bove all, there was Mrs. Leo Hunter in the character of Minerva, receivin_he company, and overflowing with pride and gratification at the notion o_aving called such distinguished individuals together.
‘Mr. Pickwick, ma’am,’ said a servant, as that gentleman approached th_residing goddess, with his hat in his hand, and the brigand and troubadour o_ither arm.
‘What! Where!’ exclaimed Mrs. Leo Hunter, starting up, in an affected raptur_f surprise.
‘Here,’ said Mr. Pickwick.
‘Is it possible that I have really the gratification of beholding Mr. Pickwic_imself!’ ejaculated Mrs. Leo Hunter.
‘No other, ma’am,’ replied Mr. Pickwick, bowing very low. ‘Permit me t_ntroduce my friends—Mr. Tupman—Mr. Winkle—Mr. Snodgrass—to the authoress of “The Expiring Frog.”’ Very few people but those who have tried it, know what _ifficult process it is to bow in green velvet smalls, and a tight jacket, an_igh–crowned hat; or in blue satin trunks and white silks, or knee–cords an_op–boots that were never made for the wearer, and have been fixed upon hi_ithout the remotest reference to the comparative dimensions of himself an_he suit. Never were such distortions as Mr. Tupman’s frame underwent in hi_fforts to appear easy and graceful—never was such ingenious posturing, as hi_ancy–dressed friends exhibited.
‘Mr. Pickwick,’ said Mrs. Leo Hunter, ‘I must make you promise not to sti_rom my side the whole day. There are hundreds of people here, that I mus_ositively introduce you to.’
‘You are very kind, ma’am,’ said Mr. Pickwick.
‘In the first place, here are my little girls; I had almost forgotten them,’ said Minerva, carelessly pointing towards a couple of full–grown young ladies, of whom one might be about twenty, and the other a year or two older, and wh_ere dressed in very juvenile costumes—whether to make them look young, o_heir mamma younger, Mr. Pickwick does not distinctly inform us.
‘They are very beautiful,’ said Mr. Pickwick, as the juveniles turned away, after being presented.
‘They are very like their mamma, Sir,’ said Mr. Pott, majestically.
‘Oh, you naughty man,’ exclaimed Mrs. Leo Hunter, playfully tapping th_ditor’s arm with her fan (Minerva with a fan!).
‘Why now, my dear Mrs. Hunter,’ said Mr. Pott, who was trumpeter in ordinar_t the Den, ‘you know that when your picture was in the exhibition of th_oyal Academy, last year, everybody inquired whether it was intended for you, or your youngest daughter; for you were so much alike that there was n_elling the difference between you.’
‘Well, and if they did, why need you repeat it, before strangers?’ said Mrs.
Leo Hunter, bestowing another tap on the slumbering lion of the Eatanswil_azette.
‘Count, count,’ screamed Mrs. Leo Hunter to a well–whiskered individual in _oreign uniform, who was passing by.
‘Ah! you want me?’ said the count, turning back.
‘I want to introduce two very clever people to each other,’ said Mrs. Le_unter. ‘Mr. Pickwick, I have great pleasure in introducing you to Coun_morltork.’ She added in a hurried whisper to Mr. Pickwick—‘The famou_oreigner—gathering materials for his great work on England—hem!—Coun_morltork, Mr. Pickwick.’ Mr. Pickwick saluted the count with all th_everence due to so great a man, and the count drew forth a set of tablets.
‘What you say, Mrs. Hunt?’ inquired the count, smiling graciously on th_ratified Mrs. Leo Hunter, ‘Pig Vig or Big Vig—what you call—lawyer—eh? _ee—that is it. Big Vig’—and the count was proceeding to enter Mr. Pickwick i_is tablets, as a gentleman of the long robe, who derived his name from th_rofession to which he belonged, when Mrs. Leo Hunter interposed.
‘No, no, count,’ said the lady, ‘Pick–wick.’
‘Ah, ah, I see,’ replied the count. ‘Peek—christian name; Weeks—surname; good, ver good. Peek Weeks. How you do, Weeks?’
‘Quite well, I thank you,’ replied Mr. Pickwick, with all his usua_ffability. ‘Have you been long in England?’
‘Long—ver long time—fortnight—more.’
‘Do you stay here long?’
‘You will have enough to do,’ said Mr. Pickwick smiling, ‘to gather all th_aterials you want in that time.’
‘Eh, they are gathered,’ said the count.
‘Indeed!’ said Mr. Pickwick.
‘They are here,’ added the count, tapping his forehead significantly. ‘Larg_ook at home—full of notes—music, picture, science, potry, poltic; all tings.’
‘The word politics, sir,’ said Mr. Pickwick, ‘comprises in itself, a difficul_tudy of no inconsiderable magnitude.’
‘Ah!’ said the count, drawing out the tablets again, ‘ver good—fine words t_egin a chapter. Chapter forty–seven. Poltics. The word poltic surprises b_imself—’ And down went Mr. Pickwick’s remark, in Count Smorltork’s tablets, with such variations and additions as the count’s exuberant fancy suggested, or his imperfect knowledge of the language occasioned.
‘Count,’ said Mrs. Leo Hunter. ‘Mrs. Hunt,’ replied the count.
‘This is Mr. Snodgrass, a friend of Mr. Pickwick’s, and a poet.’
‘Stop,’ exclaimed the count, bringing out the tablets once more. ‘Head, potry—chapter, literary friends—name, Snowgrass; ver good. Introduced t_nowgrass—great poet, friend of Peek Weeks—by Mrs. Hunt, which wrote othe_weet poem—what is that name?—Fog—Perspiring Fog—ver good—ver good indeed.’ And the count put up his tablets, and with sundry bows and acknowledgment_alked away, thoroughly satisfied that he had made the most important an_aluable additions to his stock of information.
‘Wonderful man, Count Smorltork,’ said Mrs. Leo Hunter.
‘Sound philosopher,’ said Mr. Pott.
‘Clear–headed, strong–minded person,’ added Mr. Snodgrass.
A chorus of bystanders took up the shout of Count Smorltork’s praise, shoo_heir heads sagely, and unanimously cried, ‘Very!’
As the enthusiasm in Count Smorltork’s favour ran very high, his praises migh_ave been sung until the end of the festivities, if the four something–ea_ingers had not ranged themselves in front of a small apple–tree, to loo_icturesque, and commenced singing their national songs, which appeared by n_eans difficult of execution, inasmuch as the grand secret seemed to be, tha_hree of the something–ean singers should grunt, while the fourth howled. Thi_nteresting performance having concluded amidst the loud plaudits of the whol_ompany, a boy forthwith proceeded to entangle himself with the rails of _hair, and to jump over it, and crawl under it, and fall down with it, and d_verything but sit upon it, and then to make a cravat of his legs, and ti_hem round his neck, and then to illustrate the ease with which a human bein_an be made to look like a magnified toad—all which feats yielded high deligh_nd satisfaction to the assembled spectators. After which, the voice of Mrs.
Pott was heard to chirp faintly forth, something which courtesy interprete_nto a song, which was all very classical, and strictly in character, becaus_pollo was himself a composer, and composers can very seldom sing their ow_usic or anybody else’s, either. This was succeeded by Mrs. Leo Hunter’_ecitation of her far–famed ‘Ode to an Expiring Frog,’ which was encored once, and would have been encored twice, if the major part of the guests, wh_hought it was high time to get something to eat, had not said that it wa_erfectly shameful to take advantage of Mrs. Hunter’s good nature. So althoug_rs. Leo Hunter professed her perfect willingness to recite the ode again, he_ind and considerate friends wouldn’t hear of it on any account; and th_efreshment room being thrown open, all the people who had ever been ther_efore, scrambled in with all possible despatch—Mrs. Leo Hunter’s usual cours_f proceedings being, to issue cards for a hundred, and breakfast for fifty, or in other words to feed only the very particular lions, and let the smalle_nimals take care of themselves.
‘Where is Mr. Pott?’ said Mrs. Leo Hunter, as she placed the aforesaid lion_round her.
‘Here I am,’ said the editor, from the remotest end of the room; far beyon_ll hope of food, unless something was done for him by the hostess.
‘Won’t you come up here?’
‘Oh, pray don’t mind him,’ said Mrs. Pott, in the most obliging voice—‘yo_ive yourself a great deal of unnecessary trouble, Mrs. Hunter. You’ll do ver_ell there, won’t you—dear?’
‘Certainly—love,’ replied the unhappy Pott, with a grim smile. Alas for th_nout! The nervous arm that wielded it, with such a gigantic force on publi_haracters, was paralysed beneath the glance of the imperious Mrs. Pott.
Mrs. Leo Hunter looked round her in triumph. Count Smorltork was busil_ngaged in taking notes of the contents of the dishes; Mr. Tupman was doin_he honours of the lobster salad to several lionesses, with a degree of grac_hich no brigand ever exhibited before; Mr. Snodgrass having cut out the youn_entleman who cut up the books for the Eatanswill Gazette, was engaged in a_mpassioned argument with the young lady who did the poetry; and Mr. Pickwic_as making himself universally agreeable. Nothing seemed wanting to render th_elect circle complete, when Mr. Leo Hunter—whose department on thes_ccasions, was to stand about in doorways, and talk to the less importan_eople—suddenly called out—‘My dear; here’s Mr. Charles Fitz–Marshall.’
‘Oh dear,’ said Mrs. Leo Hunter, ‘how anxiously I have been expecting him.
Pray make room, to let Mr. Fitz–Marshall pass. Tell Mr. Fitz–Marshall, m_ear, to come up to me directly, to be scolded for coming so late.’
‘Coming, my dear ma’am,’ cried a voice, ‘as quick as I can—crowds o_eople—full room—hard work—very.’
Mr. Pickwick’s knife and fork fell from his hand. He stared across the tabl_t Mr. Tupman, who had dropped his knife and fork, and was looking as if h_ere about to sink into the ground without further notice.
‘Ah!’ cried the voice, as its owner pushed his way among the las_ive–and–twenty Turks, officers, cavaliers, and Charles the Seconds, tha_emained between him and the table, ‘regular mangle—Baker’s patent—not _rease in my coat, after all this squeezing—might have “got up my linen” as _ame along—ha! ha! not a bad idea, that—queer thing to have it mangled whe_t’s upon one, though—trying process—very.’
With these broken words, a young man dressed as a naval officer made his wa_p to the table, and presented to the astonished Pickwickians the identica_orm and features of Mr. Alfred Jingle. The offender had barely time to tak_rs. Leo Hunter’s proffered hand, when his eyes encountered the indignant orb_f Mr. Pickwick.
‘Hollo!’ said Jingle. ‘Quite forgot—no directions to postillion—give ’em a_nce—back in a minute.’
‘The servant, or Mr. Hunter will do it in a moment, Mr. Fitz–Marshall,’ sai_rs. Leo Hunter.
‘No, no—I’ll do it—shan’t be long—back in no time,’ replied Jingle. With thes_ords he disappeared among the crowd.
‘Will you allow me to ask you, ma’am,’ said the excited Mr. Pickwick, risin_rom his seat, ‘who that young man is, and where he resides?’
‘He is a gentleman of fortune, Mr. Pickwick,’ said Mrs. Leo Hunter, ‘to whom _ery much want to introduce you. The count will be delighted with him.’
‘Yes, yes,’ said Mr. Pickwick hastily. ‘His residence—’
‘Is at present at the Angel at Bury.’
‘At Bury St. Edmunds, not many miles from here. But dear me, Mr. Pickwick, yo_re not going to leave us; surely Mr. Pickwick you cannot think of going s_oon?’
But long before Mrs. Leo Hunter had finished speaking, Mr. Pickwick ha_lunged through the throng, and reached the garden, whither he was shortl_fterwards joined by Mr. Tupman, who had followed his friend closely.
‘It’s of no use,’ said Mr. Tupman. ‘He has gone.’
‘I know it,’ said Mr. Pickwick, ‘and I will follow him.’
‘Follow him! Where?’ inquired Mr. Tupman.
‘To the Angel at Bury,’ replied Mr. Pickwick, speaking very quickly. ‘How d_e know whom he is deceiving there? He deceived a worthy man once, and we wer_he innocent cause. He shall not do it again, if I can help it; I’ll expos_im! Sam! Where’s my servant?’
‘Here you are, Sir,’ said Mr. Weller, emerging from a sequestered spot, wher_e had been engaged in discussing a bottle of Madeira, which he had abstracte_rom the breakfast–table an hour or two before. ‘Here’s your servant, Sir.
Proud o’ the title, as the living skellinton said, ven they show’d him.’
‘Follow me instantly,’ said Mr. Pickwick. ‘Tupman, if I stay at Bury, you ca_oin me there, when I write. Till then, good–bye!’
Remonstrances were useless. Mr. Pickwick was roused, and his mind was made up.
Mr. Tupman returned to his companions; and in another hour had drowned al_resent recollection of Mr. Alfred Jingle, or Mr. Charles Fitz–Marshall, in a_xhilarating quadrille and a bottle of champagne. By that time, Mr. Pickwic_nd Sam Weller, perched on the outside of a stage–coach, were every succeedin_inute placing a less and less distance between themselves and the good ol_own of Bury St. Edmunds.