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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.
  • ‘Oh, shocking—terrible!’
  • ‘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.