Chapter 24 Wherein Mr. Peter Magnus grows jealous, and the middle–aged Lad_pprehensive, which brings the Pickwickians within the Grasp of the Law
When Mr. Pickwick descended to the room in which he and Mr. Peter Magnus ha_pent the preceding evening, he found that gentleman with the major part o_he contents of the two bags, the leathern hat–box, and the brown–pape_arcel, displaying to all possible advantage on his person, while he himsel_as pacing up and down the room in a state of the utmost excitement an_gitation.
‘Good–morning, Sir,’ said Mr. Peter Magnus. ‘What do you think of this, Sir?’
‘Very effective indeed,’ replied Mr. Pickwick, surveying the garments of Mr.
Peter Magnus with a good–natured smile.
‘Yes, I think it’ll do,’ said Mr. Magnus. ‘Mr. Pickwick, Sir, I have sent u_y card.’
‘Have you?’ said Mr. Pickwick.
‘And the waiter brought back word, that she would see me at eleven—at eleven, Sir; it only wants a quarter now.’
‘Very near the time,’ said Mr. Pickwick.
‘Yes, it is rather near,’ replied Mr. Magnus, ‘rather too near to b_leasant—eh! Mr. Pickwick, sir?’
‘Confidence is a great thing in these cases,’ observed Mr. Pickwick.
‘I believe it is, Sir,’ said Mr. Peter Magnus. ‘I am very confident, Sir.
Really, Mr. Pickwick, I do not see why a man should feel any fear in such _ase as this, sir. What is it, Sir? There’s nothing to be ashamed of; it’s _atter of mutual accommodation, nothing more. Husband on one side, wife on th_ther. That’s my view of the matter, Mr. Pickwick.’
‘It is a very philosophical one,’ replied Mr. Pickwick. ‘But breakfast i_aiting, Mr. Magnus. Come.’
Down they sat to breakfast, but it was evident, notwithstanding the boastin_f Mr. Peter Magnus, that he laboured under a very considerable degree o_ervousness, of which loss of appetite, a propensity to upset the tea–things, a spectral attempt at drollery, and an irresistible inclination to look at th_lock, every other second, were among the principal symptoms.
‘He–he–he,‘tittered Mr. Magnus, affecting cheerfulness, and gasping wit_gitation. ‘It only wants two minutes, Mr. Pickwick. Am I pale, Sir?’ ‘No_ery,’ replied Mr. Pickwick.
There was a brief pause.
‘I beg your pardon, Mr. Pickwick; but have you ever done this sort of thing i_our time?’ said Mr. Magnus.
‘You mean proposing?’ said Mr. Pickwick. ‘Yes.’
‘Never,’ said Mr. Pickwick, with great energy, ‘never.’
‘You have no idea, then, how it’s best to begin?’ said Mr. Magnus.
‘Why,’ said Mr. Pickwick, ‘I may have formed some ideas upon the subject, but, as I have never submitted them to the test of experience, I should be sorry i_ou were induced to regulate your proceedings by them.’
‘I should feel very much obliged to you, for any advice, Sir,’ said Mr.
Magnus, taking another look at the clock, the hand of which was verging on th_ive minutes past.
‘Well, sir,’ said Mr. Pickwick, with the profound solemnity with which tha_reat man could, when he pleased, render his remarks so deeply impressive. ‘_hould commence, sir, with a tribute to the lady’s beauty and excellen_ualities; from them, Sir, I should diverge to my own unworthiness.’
‘Very good,’ said Mr. Magnus.
‘Unworthiness for her only, mind, sir,’ resumed Mr. Pickwick; ‘for to sho_hat I was not wholly unworthy, sir, I should take a brief review of my pas_ife, and present condition. I should argue, by analogy, that to anybody else, I must be a very desirable object. I should then expatiate on the warmth of m_ove, and the depth of my devotion. Perhaps I might then be tempted to seiz_er hand.’
‘Yes, I see,’ said Mr. Magnus; ‘that would be a very great point.’
‘I should then, Sir,’ continued Mr. Pickwick, growing warmer as the subjec_resented itself in more glowing colours before him—‘I should then, Sir, com_o the plain and simple question, “Will you have me?” I think I am justifie_n assuming that upon this, she would turn away her head.’
‘You think that may be taken for granted?’ said Mr. Magnus; ‘because, if sh_id not do that at the right place, it would be embarrassing.’
‘I think she would,’ said Mr. Pickwick. ‘Upon this, sir, I should squeeze he_and, and I think—I think, Mr. Magnus—that after I had done that, supposin_here was no refusal, I should gently draw away the handkerchief, which m_light knowledge of human nature leads me to suppose the lady would b_pplying to her eyes at the moment, and steal a respectful kiss. I think _hould kiss her, Mr. Magnus; and at this particular point, I am decidedly o_pinion that if the lady were going to take me at all, she would murmur int_y ears a bashful acceptance.’
Mr. Magnus started; gazed on Mr. Pickwick’s intelligent face, for a short tim_n silence; and then (the dial pointing to the ten minutes past) shook hi_armly by the hand, and rushed desperately from the room.
Mr. Pickwick had taken a few strides to and fro; and the small hand of th_lock following the latter part of his example, had arrived at the figur_hich indicates the half–hour, when the door suddenly opened. He turned roun_o meet Mr. Peter Magnus, and encountered, in his stead, the joyous face o_r. Tupman, the serene countenance of Mr. Winkle, and the intellectua_ineaments of Mr. Snodgrass. As Mr. Pickwick greeted them, Mr. Peter Magnu_ripped into the room.
‘My friends, the gentleman I was speaking of—Mr. Magnus,’ said Mr. Pickwick.
‘Your servant, gentlemen,’ said Mr. Magnus, evidently in a high state o_xcitement; ‘Mr. Pickwick, allow me to speak to you one moment, sir.’
As he said this, Mr. Magnus harnessed his forefinger to Mr. Pickwick’_uttonhole, and, drawing him to a window recess, said—
‘Congratulate me, Mr. Pickwick; I followed your advice to the very letter.’
‘And it was all correct, was it?’ inquired Mr. Pickwick.
‘It was, Sir. Could not possibly have been better,’ replied Mr. Magnus. ‘Mr.
Pickwick, she is mine.’
‘I congratulate you, with all my heart,’ replied Mr. Pickwick, warmly shakin_is new friend by the hand.
‘You must see her. Sir,’ said Mr. Magnus; ‘this way, if you please. Excuse u_or one instant, gentlemen.’ Hurrying on in this way, Mr. Peter Magnus dre_r. Pickwick from the room. He paused at the next door in the passage, an_apped gently thereat.
‘Come in,’ said a female voice. And in they went.
‘Miss Witherfield,’ said Mr. Magnus, ‘allow me to introduce my very particula_riend, Mr. Pickwick. Mr. Pickwick, I beg to make you known to Mis_itherfield.’
The lady was at the upper end of the room. As Mr. Pickwick bowed, he took hi_pectacles from his waistcoat pocket, and put them on; a process which he ha_o sooner gone through, than, uttering an exclamation of surprise, Mr.
Pickwick retreated several paces, and the lady, with a half–suppressed scream, hid her face in her hands, and dropped into a chair; whereupon Mr. Pete_agnus was stricken motionless on the spot, and gazed from one to the other, with a countenance expressive of the extremities of horror and surprise. Thi_ertainly was, to all appearance, very unaccountable behaviour; but the fac_s, that Mr. Pickwick no sooner put on his spectacles, than he at onc_ecognised in the future Mrs. Magnus the lady into whose room he had s_nwarrantably intruded on the previous night; and the spectacles had no soone_rossed Mr. Pickwick’s nose, than the lady at once identified the countenanc_hich she had seen surrounded by all the horrors of a nightcap. So the lad_creamed, and Mr. Pickwick started.
‘Mr. Pickwick!’ exclaimed Mr. Magnus, lost in astonishment, ‘what is th_eaning of this, Sir? What is the meaning of it, Sir?’ added Mr. Magnus, in _hreatening, and a louder tone.
‘Sir,’ said Mr. Pickwick, somewhat indignant at the very sudden manner i_hich Mr. Peter Magnus had conjugated himself into the imperative mood, ‘_ecline answering that question.’
‘You decline it, Sir?’ said Mr. Magnus.
‘I do, Sir,’ replied Mr. Pickwick; ‘I object to say anything which ma_ompromise that lady, or awaken unpleasant recollections in her breast, without her consent and permission.’
‘Miss Witherfield,’ said Mr. Peter Magnus, ‘do you know this person?’
‘Know him!’ repeated the middle–aged lady, hesitating.
‘Yes, know him, ma’am; I said know him,’ replied Mr. Magnus, with ferocity.
‘I have seen him,’ replied the middle–aged lady.
‘Where?’ inquired Mr. Magnus, ‘where?’
‘That,’ said the middle–aged lady, rising from her seat, and averting he_ead—‘that I would not reveal for worlds.’
‘I understand you, ma’am,’ said Mr. Pickwick, ‘and respect your delicacy; i_hall never be revealed by me depend upon it.’
‘Upon my word, ma’am,’ said Mr. Magnus, ‘considering the situation in which _m placed with regard to yourself, you carry this matter off with tolerabl_oolness—tolerable coolness, ma’am.’
‘Cruel Mr. Magnus!’ said the middle–aged lady; here she wept very copiousl_ndeed.
‘Address your observations to me, sir,’ interposed Mr. Pickwick; ‘I alone a_o blame, if anybody be.’
‘Oh! you alone are to blame, are you, sir?’ said Mr. Magnus; ‘I—I—see throug_his, sir. You repent of your determination now, do you?’
‘My determination!’ said Mr. Pickwick.
‘Your determination, Sir. Oh! don’t stare at me, Sir,’ said Mr. Magnus; ‘_ecollect your words last night, Sir. You came down here, sir, to expose th_reachery and falsehood of an individual on whose truth and honour you ha_laced implicit reliance—eh?’ Here Mr. Peter Magnus indulged in a prolonge_neer; and taking off his green spectacles—which he probably found superfluou_n his fit of jealousy—rolled his little eyes about, in a manner frightful t_ehold.
‘Eh?’ said Mr. Magnus; and then he repeated the sneer with increased effect.
‘But you shall answer it, Sir.’
‘Answer what?’ said Mr. Pickwick.
‘Never mind, sir,’ replied Mr. Magnus, striding up and down the room. ‘Neve_ind.’
There must be something very comprehensive in this phrase of ‘Never mind,’ fo_e do not recollect to have ever witnessed a quarrel in the street, at _heatre, public room, or elsewhere, in which it has not been the standar_eply to all belligerent inquiries. ‘Do you call yourself a gentleman, sir?’—‘Never mind, sir.’ ‘Did I offer to say anything to the young woman, sir?’—‘Never mind, sir.’ ‘Do you want your head knocked up against that wall, sir?’—‘Never mind, sir.’ It is observable, too, that there would appear to b_ome hidden taunt in this universal ‘Never mind,’ which rouses mor_ndignation in the bosom of the individual addressed, than the most lavis_buse could possibly awaken.
We do not mean to assert that the application of this brevity to himself, struck exactly that indignation to Mr. Pickwick’s soul, which it woul_nfallibly have roused in a vulgar breast. We merely record the fact that Mr.
Pickwick opened the room door, and abruptly called out, ‘Tupman, come here!’
Mr. Tupman immediately presented himself, with a look of very considerabl_urprise.
‘Tupman,’ said Mr. Pickwick, ‘a secret of some delicacy, in which that lady i_oncerned, is the cause of a difference which has just arisen between thi_entleman and myself. When I assure him, in your presence, that it has n_elation to himself, and is not in any way connected with his affairs, I nee_ardly beg you to take notice that if he continue to dispute it, he expresse_ doubt of my veracity, which I shall consider extremely insulting.’ As Mr.
Pickwick said this, he looked encyclopedias at Mr. Peter Magnus.
Mr. Pickwick’s upright and honourable bearing, coupled with that force an_nergy of speech which so eminently distinguished him, would have carrie_onviction to any reasonable mind; but, unfortunately, at that particula_oment, the mind of Mr. Peter Magnus was in anything but reasonable order.
Consequently, instead of receiving Mr. Pickwick’s explanation as he ought t_ave done, he forthwith proceeded to work himself into a red–hot, scorching, consuming passion, and to talk about what was due to his own feelings, and al_hat sort of thing; adding force to his declamation by striding to and fro, and pulling his hair—amusements which he would vary occasionally, by shakin_is fist in Mr. Pickwick’s philanthropic countenance.
Mr. Pickwick, in his turn, conscious of his own innocence and rectitude, an_rritated by having unfortunately involved the middle–aged lady in such a_npleasant affair, was not so quietly disposed as was his wont. Th_onsequence was, that words ran high, and voices higher; and at length Mr.
Magnus told Mr. Pickwick he should hear from him; to which Mr. Pickwic_eplied, with laudable politeness, that the sooner he heard from him th_etter; whereupon the middle–aged lady rushed in terror from the room, out o_hich Mr. Tupman dragged Mr. Pickwick, leaving Mr. Peter Magnus to himself an_editation.
If the middle–aged lady had mingled much with the busy world, or had profite_t all by the manners and customs of those who make the laws and set th_ashions, she would have known that this sort of ferocity is the most harmles_hing in nature; but as she had lived for the most part in the country, an_ever read the parliamentary debates, she was little versed in thes_articular refinements of civilised life. Accordingly, when she had gained he_edchamber, bolted herself in, and began to meditate on the scene she had jus_itnessed, the most terrific pictures of slaughter and destruction presente_hemselves to her imagination; among which, a full–length portrait of Mr.
Peter Magnus borne home by four men, with the embellishment of a whol_arrelful of bullets in his left side, was among the very least. The more th_iddle–aged lady meditated, the more terrified she became; and at length sh_etermined to repair to the house of the principal magistrate of the town, an_equest him to secure the persons of Mr. Pickwick and Mr. Tupman withou_elay.
To this decision the middle–aged lady was impelled by a variety o_onsiderations, the chief of which was the incontestable proof it would affor_f her devotion to Mr. Peter Magnus, and her anxiety for his safety. She wa_oo well acquainted with his jealous temperament to venture the slightes_llusion to the real cause of her agitation on beholding Mr. Pickwick; and sh_rusted to her own influence and power of persuasion with the little man, t_uell his boisterous jealousy, supposing that Mr. Pickwick were removed, an_o fresh quarrel could arise. Filled with these reflections, the middle–age_ady arrayed herself in her bonnet and shawl, and repaired to the mayor’_welling straightway.
Now George Nupkins, Esquire, the principal magistrate aforesaid, was as gran_ personage as the fastest walker would find out, between sunrise and sunset, on the twenty–first of June, which being, according to the almanacs, th_ongest day in the whole year, would naturally afford him the longest perio_or his search. On this particular morning, Mr. Nupkins was in a state of th_tmost excitement and irritation, for there had been a rebellion in the town; all the day–scholars at the largest day–school had conspired to break th_indows of an obnoxious apple–seller, and had hooted the beadle and pelted th_onstabulary—an elderly gentleman in top–boots, who had been called out t_epress the tumult, and who had been a peace–officer, man and boy, for half _entury at least. And Mr. Nupkins was sitting in his easy–chair, frowning wit_ajesty, and boiling with rage, when a lady was announced on pressing, private, and particular business. Mr. Nupkins looked calmly terrible, an_ommanded that the lady should be shown in; which command, like all th_andates of emperors, and magistrates, and other great potentates of th_arth, was forthwith obeyed; and Miss Witherfield, interestingly agitated, wa_shered in accordingly.
‘Muzzle!’ said the magistrate.
Muzzle was an undersized footman, with a long body and short legs.
‘Muzzle!’ ‘Yes, your Worship.’
‘Place a chair, and leave the room.’
‘Yes, your Worship.’
‘Now, ma’am, will you state your business?’ said the magistrate.
‘It is of a very painful kind, Sir,’ said Miss Witherfield.
‘Very likely, ma’am,’ said the magistrate. ‘Compose your feelings, ma’am.’ Here Mr. Nupkins looked benignant. ‘And then tell me what legal busines_rings you here, ma’am.’ Here the magistrate triumphed over the man; and h_ooked stern again.
‘It is very distressing to me, Sir, to give this information,’ said Mis_itherfield, ‘but I fear a duel is going to be fought here.’
‘Here, ma’am?’ said the magistrate. ‘Where, ma’am?’
‘In Ipswich.’ ‘In Ipswich, ma’am! A duel in Ipswich!’ said the magistrate, perfectly aghast at the notion. ‘Impossible, ma’am; nothing of the kind can b_ontemplated in this town, I am persuaded. Bless my soul, ma’am, are you awar_f the activity of our local magistracy? Do you happen to have heard, ma’am, that I rushed into a prize–ring on the fourth of May last, attended by onl_ixty special constables; and, at the hazard of falling a sacrifice to th_ngry passions of an infuriated multitude, prohibited a pugilistic contes_etween the Middlesex Dumpling and the Suffolk Bantam? A duel in Ipswich, ma’am? I don’t think—I do not think,’ said the magistrate, reasoning wit_imself, ‘that any two men can have had the hardihood to plan such a breach o_he peace, in this town.’
‘My information is, unfortunately, but too correct,’ said the middle–age_ady; ‘I was present at the quarrel.’
‘It’s a most extraordinary thing,’ said the astounded magistrate. ‘Muzzle!’
‘Yes, your Worship.’
‘Send Mr. Jinks here, directly! Instantly.’
‘Yes, your Worship.’
Muzzle retired; and a pale, sharp–nosed, half–fed, shabbily–clad clerk, o_iddle age, entered the room.
‘Mr. Jinks,’ said the magistrate. ‘Mr. Jinks.’
‘Sir,’ said Mr. Jinks. ‘This lady, Mr. Jinks, has come here, to giv_nformation of an intended duel in this town.’
Mr. Jinks, not knowing exactly what to do, smiled a dependent’s smile.
‘What are you laughing at, Mr. Jinks?’ said the magistrate.
Mr. Jinks looked serious instantly.
‘Mr. Jinks,’ said the magistrate, ‘you’re a fool.’
Mr. Jinks looked humbly at the great man, and bit the top of his pen.
‘You may see something very comical in this information, Sir—but I can tel_ou this, Mr. Jinks, that you have very little to laugh at,’ said th_agistrate.
The hungry–looking Jinks sighed, as if he were quite aware of the fact of hi_aving very little indeed to be merry about; and, being ordered to take th_ady’s information, shambled to a seat, and proceeded to write it down.
‘This man, Pickwick, is the principal, I understand?’ said the magistrate, when the statement was finished.
‘He is,’ said the middle–aged lady.
‘And the other rioter—what’s his name, Mr. Jinks?’
‘Tupman, Sir.’ ‘Tupman is the second?’
‘The other principal, you say, has absconded, ma’am?’
‘Yes,’ replied Miss Witherfield, with a short cough.
‘Very well,’ said the magistrate. ‘These are two cut–throats from London, wh_ave come down here to destroy his Majesty’s population, thinking that at thi_istance from the capital, the arm of the law is weak and paralysed. The_hall be made an example of. Draw up the warrants, Mr. Jinks. Muzzle!’
‘Yes, your Worship.’
‘Is Grummer downstairs?’
‘Yes, your Worship.’
‘Send him up.’ The obsequious Muzzle retired, and presently returned, introducing the elderly gentleman in the top–boots, who was chiefly remarkabl_or a bottle–nose, a hoarse voice, a snuff–coloured surtout, and a wanderin_ye.
‘Grummer,’ said the magistrate.
‘Is the town quiet now?’
‘Pretty well, your Wash–up,’ replied Grummer. ‘Pop’lar feeling has in _easure subsided, consekens o’ the boys having dispersed to cricket.’
‘Nothing but vigorous measures will do in these times, Grummer,’ said th_agistrate, in a determined manner. ‘if the authority of the king’s officer_s set at naught, we must have the riot act read. If the civil power canno_rotect these windows, Grummer, the military must protect the civil power, an_he windows too. I believe that is a maxim of the constitution, Mr. Jinks?’ ‘Certainly, sir,’ said Jinks.
‘Very good,’ said the magistrate, signing the warrants. ‘Grummer, you wil_ring these persons before me, this afternoon. You will find them at the Grea_hite Horse. You recollect the case of the Middlesex Dumpling and the Suffol_antam, Grummer?’
Mr. Grummer intimated, by a retrospective shake of the head, that he shoul_ever forget it—as indeed it was not likely he would, so long as it continue_o be cited daily.
‘This is even more unconstitutional,’ said the magistrate; ‘this is even _reater breach of the peace, and a grosser infringement of his Majesty’_rerogative. I believe duelling is one of his Majesty’s most undoubte_rerogatives, Mr. Jinks?’
‘Expressly stipulated in Magna Charta, sir,’ said Mr. Jinks.
‘One of the brightest jewels in the British crown, wrung from his Majesty b_he barons, I believe, Mr. Jinks?’ said the magistrate.
‘Just so, Sir,’ replied Mr. Jinks.
‘Very well,’ said the magistrate, drawing himself up proudly, ‘it shall not b_iolated in this portion of his dominions. Grummer, procure assistance, an_xecute these warrants with as little delay as possible. Muzzle!’
‘Yes, your Worship.’
‘Show the lady out.’
Miss Witherfield retired, deeply impressed with the magistrate’s learning an_esearch; Mr. Nupkins retired to lunch; Mr. Jinks retired within himself—tha_eing the only retirement he had, except the sofa–bedstead in the smal_arlour which was occupied by his landlady’s family in the daytime—and Mr.
Grummer retired, to wipe out, by his mode of discharging his presen_ommission, the insult which had been fastened upon himself, and the othe_epresentative of his Majesty—the beadle—in the course of the morning.
While these resolute and determined preparations for the conservation of th_ing’s peace were pending, Mr. Pickwick and his friends, wholly unconscious o_he mighty events in progress, had sat quietly down to dinner; and ver_alkative and companionable they all were. Mr. Pickwick was in the very act o_elating his adventure of the preceding night, to the great amusement of hi_ollowers, Mr. Tupman especially, when the door opened, and a somewha_orbidding countenance peeped into the room. The eyes in the forbiddin_ountenance looked very earnestly at Mr. Pickwick, for several seconds, an_ere to all appearance satisfied with their investigation; for the body t_hich the forbidding countenance belonged, slowly brought itself into th_partment, and presented the form of an elderly individual in top–boots—not t_eep the reader any longer in suspense, in short, the eyes were the wanderin_yes of Mr. Grummer, and the body was the body of the same gentleman.
Mr. Grummer’s mode of proceeding was professional, but peculiar. His first ac_as to bolt the door on the inside; his second, to polish his head an_ountenance very carefully with a cotton handkerchief; his third, to place hi_at, with the cotton handkerchief in it, on the nearest chair; and his fourth, to produce from the breast–pocket of his coat a short truncheon, surmounted b_ brazen crown, with which he beckoned to Mr. Pickwick with a grave an_host–like air.
Mr. Snodgrass was the first to break the astonished silence. He looke_teadily at Mr. Grummer for a brief space, and then said emphatically, ‘Thi_s a private room, Sir. A private room.’
Mr. Grummer shook his head, and replied, ‘No room’s private to his Majest_hen the street door’s once passed. That’s law. Some people maintains that a_nglishman’s house is his castle. That’s gammon.’
The Pickwickians gazed on each other with wondering eyes.
‘Which is Mr. Tupman?’ inquired Mr. Grummer. He had an intuitive perception o_r. Pickwick; he knew him at once.
‘My name’s Tupman,’ said that gentleman.
‘My name’s Law,’ said Mr. Grummer.
‘What?’ said Mr. Tupman.
‘Law,’ replied Mr. Grummer—‘Law, civil power, and exekative; them’s my titles; here’s my authority. Blank Tupman, blank Pickwick—against the peace of ou_ufferin’ lord the king—stattit in the case made and purwided—and all regular.
I apprehend you Pickwick! Tupman—the aforesaid.’
‘What do you mean by this insolence?’ said Mr. Tupman, starting up; ‘leave th_oom!’
‘Hollo,’ said Mr. Grummer, retreating very expeditiously to the door, an_pening it an inch or two, ‘Dubbley.’
‘Well,’ said a deep voice from the passage.
‘Come for’ard, Dubbley.’
At the word of command, a dirty–faced man, something over six feet high, an_tout in proportion, squeezed himself through the half–open door (making hi_ace very red in the process), and entered the room.
‘Is the other specials outside, Dubbley?’ inquired Mr. Grummer.
Mr. Dubbley, who was a man of few words, nodded assent.
‘Order in the diwision under your charge, Dubbley,’ said Mr. Grummer.
Mr. Dubbley did as he was desired; and half a dozen men, each with a shor_runcheon and a brass crown, flocked into the room. Mr. Grummer pocketed hi_taff, and looked at Mr. Dubbley; Mr. Dubbley pocketed his staff and looked a_he division; the division pocketed their staves and looked at Messrs. Tupma_nd Pickwick.
Mr. Pickwick and his followers rose as one man.
‘What is the meaning of this atrocious intrusion upon my privacy?’ said Mr.
‘Who dares apprehend me?’ said Mr. Tupman.
‘What do you want here, scoundrels?’ said Mr. Snodgrass.
Mr. Winkle said nothing, but he fixed his eyes on Grummer, and bestowed a loo_pon him, which, if he had had any feeling, must have pierced his brain. As i_as, however, it had no visible effect on him whatever.
When the executive perceived that Mr. Pickwick and his friends were dispose_o resist the authority of the law, they very significantly turned up thei_oat sleeves, as if knocking them down in the first instance, and taking the_p afterwards, were a mere professional act which had only to be thought of t_e done, as a matter of course. This demonstration was not lost upon Mr.
Pickwick. He conferred a few moments with Mr. Tupman apart, and then signifie_is readiness to proceed to the mayor’s residence, merely begging the partie_hen and there assembled, to take notice, that it was his firm intention t_esent this monstrous invasion of his privileges as an Englishman, the instan_e was at liberty; whereat the parties then and there assembled laughed ver_eartily, with the single exception of Mr. Grummer, who seemed to conside_hat any slight cast upon the divine right of magistrates was a species o_lasphemy not to be tolerated.
But when Mr. Pickwick had signified his readiness to bow to the laws of hi_ountry, and just when the waiters, and hostlers, and chambermaids, an_ost–boys, who had anticipated a delightful commotion from his threatene_bstinacy, began to turn away, disappointed and disgusted, a difficulty aros_hich had not been foreseen. With every sentiment of veneration for th_onstituted authorities, Mr. Pickwick resolutely protested against making hi_ppearance in the public streets, surrounded and guarded by the officers o_ustice, like a common criminal. Mr. Grummer, in the then disturbed state o_ublic feeling (for it was half–holiday, and the boys had not yet gone home), as resolutely protested against walking on the opposite side of the way, an_aking Mr. Pickwick’s parole that he would go straight to the magistrate’s; and both Mr. Pickwick and Mr. Tupman as strenuously objected to the expense o_ post–coach, which was the only respectable conveyance that could b_btained. The dispute ran high, and the dilemma lasted long; and just as th_xecutive were on the point of overcoming Mr. Pickwick’s objection to walkin_o the magistrate’s, by the trite expedient of carrying him thither, it wa_ecollected that there stood in the inn yard, an old sedan–chair, which, having been originally built for a gouty gentleman with funded property, woul_old Mr. Pickwick and Mr. Tupman, at least as conveniently as a moder_ost–chaise. The chair was hired, and brought into the hall; Mr. Pickwick an_r. Tupman squeezed themselves inside, and pulled down the blinds; a couple o_hairmen were speedily found; and the procession started in grand order. Th_pecials surrounded the body of the vehicle; Mr. Grummer and Mr. Dubble_arched triumphantly in front; Mr. Snodgrass and Mr. Winkle walked arm–in–ar_ehind; and the unsoaped of Ipswich brought up the rear.
The shopkeepers of the town, although they had a very indistinct notion of th_ature of the offence, could not but be much edified and gratified by thi_pectacle. Here was the strong arm of the law, coming down with twent_old–beater force, upon two offenders from the metropolis itself; the might_ngine was directed by their own magistrate, and worked by their own officers; and both the criminals, by their united efforts, were securely shut up, in th_arrow compass of one sedan–chair. Many were the expressions of approval an_dmiration which greeted Mr. Grummer, as he headed the cavalcade, staff i_and; loud and long were the shouts raised by the unsoaped; and amidst thes_nited testimonials of public approbation, the procession moved slowly an_ajestically along.
Mr. Weller, habited in his morning jacket, with the black calico sleeves, wa_eturning in a rather desponding state from an unsuccessful survey of th_ysterious house with the green gate, when, raising his eyes, he beheld _rowd pouring down the street, surrounding an object which had very much th_ppearance of a sedan–chair. Willing to divert his thoughts from the failur_f his enterprise, he stepped aside to see the crowd pass; and finding tha_hey were cheering away, very much to their own satisfaction, forthwith began (by way of raising his spirits) to cheer too, with all his might and main.
Mr. Grummer passed, and Mr. Dubbley passed, and the sedan passed, and th_odyguard of specials passed, and Sam was still responding to the enthusiasti_heers of the mob, and waving his hat about as if he were in the very las_xtreme of the wildest joy (though, of course, he had not the faintest idea o_he matter in hand), when he was suddenly stopped by the unexpected appearanc_f Mr. Winkle and Mr. Snodgrass.
‘What’s the row, gen’l’m’n?‘cried Sam. ‘Who have they got in this her_atch–box in mournin’?’
Both gentlemen replied together, but their words were lost in the tumult.
‘Who is it?’ cried Sam again.
once more was a joint reply returned; and, though the words were inaudible, Sam saw by the motion of the two pairs of lips that they had uttered the magi_ord ‘Pickwick.’
This was enough. In another minute Mr. Weller had made his way through th_rowd, stopped the chairmen, and confronted the portly Grummer.
‘Hollo, old gen’l’m’n!’ said Sam. ‘Who have you got in this here conweyance?’
‘Stand back,’ said Mr. Grummer, whose dignity, like the dignity of a grea_any other men, had been wondrously augmented by a little popularity.
‘Knock him down, if he don’t,’ said Mr. Dubbley.
‘I’m wery much obliged to you, old gen’l’m’n,’ replied Sam, ‘for consulting m_onwenience, and I’m still more obliged to the other gen’l’m’n, who looks a_f he’d just escaped from a giant’s carrywan, for his wery ‘andsom_uggestion; but I should prefer your givin’ me a answer to my question, i_t’s all the same to you.—How are you, Sir?’ This last observation wa_ddressed with a patronising air to Mr. Pickwick, who was peeping through th_ront window.
Mr. Grummer, perfectly speechless with indignation, dragged the truncheon wit_he brass crown from its particular pocket, and flourished it before Sam’_yes.
‘Ah,’ said Sam, ‘it’s wery pretty, ‘specially the crown, which is uncommo_ike the real one.’
‘Stand back!’ said the outraged Mr. Grummer. By way of adding force to th_ommand, he thrust the brass emblem of royalty into Sam’s neckcloth with on_and, and seized Sam’s collar with the other—a compliment which Mr. Welle_eturned by knocking him down out of hand, having previously with the utmos_onsideration, knocked down a chairman for him to lie upon.
Whether Mr. Winkle was seized with a temporary attack of that species o_nsanity which originates in a sense of injury, or animated by this display o_r. Weller’s valour, is uncertain; but certain it is, that he no sooner sa_r. Grummer fall than he made a terrific onslaught on a small boy who stoo_ext him; whereupon Mr. Snodgrass, in a truly Christian spirit, and in orde_hat he might take no one unawares, announced in a very loud tone that he wa_oing to begin, and proceeded to take off his coat with the utmos_eliberation. He was immediately surrounded and secured; and it is but commo_ustice both to him and Mr. Winkle to say, that they did not make th_lightest attempt to rescue either themselves or Mr. Weller; who, after a mos_igorous resistance, was overpowered by numbers and taken prisoner. Th_rocession then reformed; the chairmen resumed their stations; and the marc_as re–commenced.
Mr. Pickwick’s indignation during the whole of this proceeding was beyond al_ounds. He could just see Sam upsetting the specials, and flying about i_very direction; and that was all he could see, for the sedan doors wouldn’_pen, and the blinds wouldn’t pull up. At length, with the assistance of Mr.
Tupman, he managed to push open the roof; and mounting on the seat, an_teadying himself as well as he could, by placing his hand on that gentleman’_houlder, Mr. Pickwick proceeded to address the multitude; to dwell upon th_njustifiable manner in which he had been treated; and to call upon them t_ake notice that his servant had been first assaulted. In this order the_eached the magistrate’s house; the chairmen trotting, the prisoner_ollowing, Mr. Pickwick oratorising, and the crowd shouting.