Chapter 23 In which Mr. Samuel Weller begins to devote his Energies to th_eturn Match between himself and Mr. Trotter
In a small room in the vicinity of the stableyard, betimes in the morning, which was ushered in by Mr. Pickwick’s adventure with the middle—aged lady i_he yellow curl–papers, sat Mr. Weller, senior, preparing himself for hi_ourney to London. He was sitting in an excellent attitude for having hi_ortrait taken; and here it is.
It is very possible that at some earlier period of his career, Mr. Weller’_rofile might have presented a bold and determined outline. His face, however, had expanded under the influence of good living, and a disposition remarkabl_or resignation; and its bold, fleshy curves had so far extended beyond th_imits originally assigned them, that unless you took a full view of hi_ountenance in front, it was difficult to distinguish more than the extrem_ip of a very rubicund nose. His chin, from the same cause, had acquired th_rave and imposing form which is generally described by prefixing the word ‘double’ to that expressive feature; and his complexion exhibited tha_eculiarly mottled combination of colours which is only to be seen i_entlemen of his profession, and in underdone roast beef. Round his neck h_ore a crimson travelling–shawl, which merged into his chin by suc_mperceptible gradations, that it was difficult to distinguish the folds o_he one, from the folds of the other. Over this, he mounted a long waistcoa_f a broad pink–striped pattern, and over that again, a wide–skirted gree_oat, ornamented with large brass buttons, whereof the two which garnished th_aist, were so far apart, that no man had ever beheld them both at the sam_ime. His hair, which was short, sleek, and black, was just visible beneat_he capacious brim of a low–crowned brown hat. His legs were encased i_nee–cord breeches, and painted top–boots; and a copper watch–chain, terminating in one seal, and a key of the same material, dangled loosely fro_is capacious waistband.
We have said that Mr. Weller was engaged in preparing for his journey t_ondon—he was taking sustenance, in fact. On the table before him, stood a po_f ale, a cold round of beef, and a very respectable–looking loaf, to each o_hich he distributed his favours in turn, with the most rigid impartiality. H_ad just cut a mighty slice from the latter, when the footsteps of somebod_ntering the room, caused him to raise his head; and he beheld his son.
‘Mornin’, Sammy!’ said the father.
The son walked up to the pot of ale, and nodding significantly to his parent, took a long draught by way of reply.
‘Wery good power o’ suction, Sammy,’ said Mr. Weller the elder, looking int_he pot, when his first–born had set it down half empty. ‘You’d ha’ made a_ncommon fine oyster, Sammy, if you’d been born in that station o’ life.’
‘Yes, I des–say, I should ha’ managed to pick up a respectable livin’,’ replied Sam applying himself to the cold beef, with considerable vigour.
‘I’m wery sorry, Sammy,’ said the elder Mr. Weller, shaking up the ale, b_escribing small circles with the pot, preparatory to drinking. ‘I’m wer_orry, Sammy, to hear from your lips, as you let yourself be gammoned by that ‘ere mulberry man. I always thought, up to three days ago, that the names o_eller and gammon could never come into contract, Sammy, never.’
‘Always exceptin’ the case of a widder, of course,’ said Sam.
‘Widders, Sammy,’ replied Mr. Weller, slightly changing colour. ‘Widders are ‘ceptions to ev’ry rule. I have heerd how many ordinary women one widder’_qual to in pint o’ comin’ over you. I think it’s five–and–twenty, but I don’_ightly know vether it ain’t more.’
‘Well; that’s pretty well,’ said Sam.
‘Besides,’ continued Mr. Weller, not noticing the interruption, ‘that’s a wer_ifferent thing. You know what the counsel said, Sammy, as defended th_en’l’m’n as beat his wife with the poker, venever he got jolly. “And arte_ll, my Lord,” says he, “it’s a amiable weakness.” So I says respectin’ widders, Sammy, and so you’ll say, ven you gets as old as me.’
‘I ought to ha’ know’d better, I know,’ said Sam.
‘Ought to ha’ know’d better!’ repeated Mr. Weller, striking the table with hi_ist. ‘Ought to ha’ know’d better! why, I know a young ’un as hasn’t had hal_or quarter your eddication—as hasn’t slept about the markets, no, not si_onths—who’d ha’ scorned to be let in, in such a vay; scorned it, Sammy.’ I_he excitement of feeling produced by this agonising reflection, Mr. Welle_ang the bell, and ordered an additional pint of ale.
‘Well, it’s no use talking about it now,’ said Sam. ‘It’s over, and can’t b_elped, and that’s one consolation, as they always says in Turkey, ven the_uts the wrong man’s head off. It’s my innings now, gov’nor, and as soon as _atches hold o’ this ‘ere Trotter, I’ll have a good ’un.’
‘I hope you will, Sammy. I hope you will,’ returned Mr. Weller. ‘Here’s you_ealth, Sammy, and may you speedily vipe off the disgrace as you’ve inflicte_n the family name.’ In honour of this toast Mr. Weller imbibed at a draught, at least two–thirds of a newly–arrived pint, and handed it over to his son, t_ispose of the remainder, which he instantaneously did.
‘And now, Sammy,’ said Mr. Weller, consulting a large double–faced silve_atch that hung at the end of the copper chain. ‘Now it’s time I was up at th_ffice to get my vay–bill and see the coach loaded; for coaches, Sammy, i_ike guns—they requires to be loaded with wery great care, afore they go off.’
At this parental and professional joke, Mr. Weller, junior, smiled a filia_mile. His revered parent continued in a solemn tone—
‘I’m a–goin’ to leave you, Samivel, my boy, and there’s no telling ven I shal_ee you again. Your mother–in–law may ha’ been too much for me, or a thousan_hings may have happened by the time you next hears any news o’ the celebrate_r. Veller o’ the Bell Savage. The family name depends wery much upon you, Samivel, and I hope you’ll do wot’s right by it. Upon all little pints o’ breedin’, I know I may trust you as vell as if it was my own self. So I’v_nly this here one little bit of adwice to give you. If ever you gets t_p’ards o’ fifty, and feels disposed to go a–marryin’ anybody—no matte_ho—jist you shut yourself up in your own room, if you’ve got one, and piso_ourself off hand. Hangin’s wulgar, so don’t you have nothin’ to say to that.
Pison yourself, Samivel, my boy, pison yourself, and you’ll be glad on i_rterwards.’ With these affecting words, Mr. Weller looked steadfastly on hi_on, and turning slowly upon his heel, disappeared from his sight.
In the contemplative mood which these words had awakened, Mr. Samuel Welle_alked forth from the Great White Horse when his father had left him; an_ending his steps towards St. Clement’s Church, endeavoured to dissipate hi_elancholy, by strolling among its ancient precincts. He had loitered about, for some time, when he found himself in a retired spot—a kind of courtyard o_enerable appearance—which he discovered had no other outlet than the turnin_y which he had entered. He was about retracing his steps, when he wa_uddenly transfixed to the spot by a sudden appearance; and the mode an_anner of this appearance, we now proceed to relate.
Mr. Samuel Weller had been staring up at the old brick houses now and then, i_is deep abstraction, bestowing a wink upon some healthy–looking servant gir_s she drew up a blind, or threw open a bedroom window, when the green gate o_ garden at the bottom of the yard opened, and a man having emerged therefrom, closed the green gate very carefully after him, and walked briskly towards th_ery spot where Mr. Weller was standing.
Now, taking this, as an isolated fact, unaccompanied by any attendan_ircumstances, there was nothing very extraordinary in it; because in man_arts of the world men do come out of gardens, close green gates after them, and even walk briskly away, without attracting any particular share of publi_bservation. It is clear, therefore, that there must have been something i_he man, or in his manner, or both, to attract Mr. Weller’s particular notice.
Whether there was, or not, we must leave the reader to determine, when we hav_aithfully recorded the behaviour of the individual in question.
When the man had shut the green gate after him, he walked, as we have sai_wice already, with a brisk pace up the courtyard; but he no sooner caugh_ight of Mr. Weller than he faltered, and stopped, as if uncertain, for th_oment, what course to adopt. As the green gate was closed behind him, an_here was no other outlet but the one in front, however, he was not long i_erceiving that he must pass Mr. Samuel Weller to get away. He therefor_esumed his brisk pace, and advanced, staring straight before him. The mos_xtraordinary thing about the man was, that he was contorting his face int_he most fearful and astonishing grimaces that ever were beheld. Nature’_andiwork never was disguised with such extraordinary artificial carving, a_he man had overlaid his countenance with in one moment.
‘Well!’ said Mr. Weller to himself, as the man approached. ‘This is wery odd.
I could ha’ swore it was him.’
Up came the man, and his face became more frightfully distorted than ever, a_e drew nearer.
‘I could take my oath to that ‘ere black hair and mulberry suit,’ said Mr.
Weller; ‘only I never see such a face as that afore.’
As Mr. Weller said this, the man’s features assumed an unearthly twinge, perfectly hideous. He was obliged to pass very near Sam, however, and th_crutinising glance of that gentleman enabled him to detect, under all thes_ppalling twists of feature, something too like the small eyes of Mr. Jo_rotter to be easily mistaken.
‘Hollo, you Sir!’ shouted Sam fiercely.
The stranger stopped.
‘Hollo!’ repeated Sam, still more gruffly.
The man with the horrible face looked, with the greatest surprise, up th_ourt, and down the court, and in at the windows of the houses—everywhere bu_t Sam Weller—and took another step forward, when he was brought to again b_nother shout.
‘Hollo, you sir!’ said Sam, for the third time.
There was no pretending to mistake where the voice came from now, so th_tranger, having no other resource, at last looked Sam Weller full in th_ace.
‘It won’t do, Job Trotter,’ said Sam. ‘Come! None o’ that ‘ere nonsense. Yo_in’t so wery ‘andsome that you can afford to throw avay many o’ your goo_ooks. Bring them ‘ere eyes o’ yourn back into their proper places, or I’l_nock ’em out of your head. D’ye hear?’
As Mr. Weller appeared fully disposed to act up to the spirit of this address, Mr. Trotter gradually allowed his face to resume its natural expression; an_hen giving a start of joy, exclaimed, ‘What do I see? Mr. Walker!’
‘Ah,’ replied Sam. ‘You’re wery glad to see me, ain’t you?’
‘Glad!’ exclaimed Job Trotter; ‘oh, Mr. Walker, if you had but known how _ave looked forward to this meeting! It is too much, Mr. Walker; I cannot bea_t, indeed I cannot.’ And with these words, Mr. Trotter burst into a regula_nundation of tears, and, flinging his arms around those of Mr. Weller, embraced him closely, in an ecstasy of joy.
‘Get off!’ cried Sam, indignant at this process, and vainly endeavouring t_xtricate himself from the grasp of his enthusiastic acquaintance. ‘Get off, _ell you. What are you crying over me for, you portable engine?’
‘Because I am so glad to see you,’ replied Job Trotter, gradually releasin_r. Weller, as the first symptoms of his pugnacity disappeared. ‘Oh, Mr.
Walker, this is too much.’
‘Too much!’ echoed Sam, ‘I think it is too much—rayther! Now, what have yo_ot to say to me, eh?’
Mr. Trotter made no reply; for the little pink pocket–handkerchief was in ful_orce.
‘What have you got to say to me, afore I knock your head off?’ repeated Mr.
Weller, in a threatening manner.
‘Eh!’ said Mr. Trotter, with a look of virtuous surprise.
‘What have you got to say to me?’
‘I, Mr. Walker!’
‘Don’t call me Valker; my name’s Veller; you know that vell enough. What hav_ou got to say to me?’
‘Bless you, Mr. Walker—Weller, I mean—a great many things, if you will com_way somewhere, where we can talk comfortably. If you knew how I have looke_or you, Mr. Weller—’
‘Wery hard, indeed, I s’pose?’ said Sam drily.
‘Very, very, Sir,’ replied Mr. Trotter, without moving a muscle of his face.
‘But shake hands, Mr. Weller.’
Sam eyed his companion for a few seconds, and then, as if actuated by a sudde_mpulse, complied with his request. ‘How,’ said Job Trotter, as they walke_way, ‘how is your dear, good master? Oh, he is a worthy gentleman, Mr.
Weller! I hope he didn’t catch cold, that dreadful night, Sir.’
There was a momentary look of deep slyness in Job Trotter’s eye, as he sai_his, which ran a thrill through Mr. Weller’s clenched fist, as he burned wit_ desire to make a demonstration on his ribs. Sam constrained himself, however, and replied that his master was extremely well.
‘Oh, I am so glad,’ replied Mr. Trotter; ‘is he here?’
‘Is yourn?’ asked Sam, by way of reply.
‘Oh, yes, he is here, and I grieve to say, Mr. Weller, he is going on wors_han ever.’
‘Ah, ah!’ said Sam.
‘At a boarding–school?’ said Sam.
‘No, not at a boarding–school,’ replied Job Trotter, with the same sly loo_hich Sam had noticed before; ‘not at a boarding–school.’
‘At the house with the green gate?’ said Sam, eyeing his companion closely.
‘No, no—oh, not there,’ replied Job, with a quickness very unusual to him, ‘not there.’
‘What was you a–doin’ there?’ asked Sam, with a sharp glance. ‘Got inside th_ate by accident, perhaps?’
‘Why, Mr. Weller,’ replied Job, ‘I don’t mind telling you my little secrets, because, you know, we took such a fancy for each other when we first met. Yo_ecollect how pleasant we were that morning?’
‘Oh, yes,’ said Sam, impatiently. ‘I remember. Well?’
‘Well,’ replied Job, speaking with great precision, and in the low tone of _an who communicates an important secret; ‘in that house with the green gate, Mr. Weller, they keep a good many servants.’
‘So I should think, from the look on it,’ interposed Sam.
‘Yes,’ continued Mr. Trotter, ‘and one of them is a cook, who has saved up _ittle money, Mr. Weller, and is desirous, if she can establish herself i_ife, to open a little shop in the chandlery way, you see.’ ‘Yes.’
‘Yes, Mr. Weller. Well, Sir, I met her at a chapel that I go to; a very nea_ittle chapel in this town, Mr. Weller, where they sing the number fou_ollection of hymns, which I generally carry about with me, in a little book, which you may perhaps have seen in my hand—and I got a little intimate wit_er, Mr. Weller, and from that, an acquaintance sprung up between us, and _ay venture to say, Mr. Weller, that I am to be the chandler.’
‘Ah, and a wery amiable chandler you’ll make,’ replied Sam, eyeing Job with _ide look of intense dislike.
‘The great advantage of this, Mr. Weller,’ continued Job, his eyes fillin_ith tears as he spoke, ‘will be, that I shall be able to leave my presen_isgraceful service with that bad man, and to devote myself to a better an_ore virtuous life; more like the way in which I was brought up, Mr. Weller.’
‘You must ha’ been wery nicely brought up,’ said Sam.
‘Oh, very, Mr. Weller, very,’ replied Job. At the recollection of the purit_f his youthful days, Mr. Trotter pulled forth the pink handkerchief, and wep_opiously.
‘You must ha’ been an uncommon nice boy, to go to school vith,’ said Sam.
‘I was, sir,’ replied Job, heaving a deep sigh; ‘I was the idol of the place.’
‘Ah,’ said Sam, ‘I don’t wonder at it. What a comfort you must ha’ been t_our blessed mother.’
At these words, Mr. Job Trotter inserted an end of the pink handkerchief int_he corner of each eye, one after the other, and began to weep copiously.
‘Wot’s the matter with the man,’ said Sam, indignantly. ‘Chelsea water–work_s nothin’ to you. What are you melting vith now? The consciousness o’ willainy?’
‘I cannot keep my feelings down, Mr. Weller,’ said Job, after a short pause.
‘To think that my master should have suspected the conversation I had wit_ours, and so dragged me away in a post–chaise, and after persuading the swee_oung lady to say she knew nothing of him, and bribing the school–mistress t_o the same, deserted her for a better speculation! Oh! Mr. Weller, it make_e shudder.’
‘Oh, that was the vay, was it?’ said Mr. Weller.
‘To be sure it was,’ replied Job.
‘Vell,’ said Sam, as they had now arrived near the hotel, ‘I vant to have _ittle bit o’ talk with you, Job; so if you’re not partickler engaged, _hould like to see you at the Great White Horse to–night, somewheres abou_ight o’clock.’
‘I shall be sure to come,’ said Job.
‘Yes, you’d better,’ replied Sam, with a very meaning look, ‘or else I shal_erhaps be askin’ arter you, at the other side of the green gate, and then _ight cut you out, you know.’
‘I shall be sure to be with you, sir,’ said Mr. Trotter; and wringing Sam’_and with the utmost fervour, he walked away.
‘Take care, Job Trotter, take care,’ said Sam, looking after him, ‘or I shal_e one too many for you this time. I shall, indeed.’ Having uttered thi_oliloquy, and looked after Job till he was to be seen no more, Mr. Welle_ade the best of his way to his master’s bedroom.
‘It’s all in training, Sir,’ said Sam.
‘What’s in training, Sam?’ inquired Mr. Pickwick.
‘I’ve found ’em out, Sir,’ said Sam.
‘Found out who?’
‘That ‘ere queer customer, and the melan–cholly chap with the black hair.’
‘Impossible, Sam!’ said Mr. Pickwick, with the greatest energy. ‘Where ar_hey, Sam: where are they?’
‘Hush, hush!’ replied Mr. Weller; and as he assisted Mr. Pickwick to dress, h_etailed the plan of action on which he proposed to enter.
‘But when is this to be done, Sam?’ inquired Mr. Pickwick.
‘All in good time, Sir,’ replied Sam.
Whether it was done in good time, or not, will be seen hereafter.