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Chapter 28 A good–humoured Christmas Chapter, containing an Account of _edding, and some other Sports beside: which although in their Way even a_ood Customs as Marriage itself, are not quite so religiously kept up, i_hese degenerate Times

  • As brisk as bees, if not altogether as light as fairies, did the fou_ickwickians assemble on the morning of the twenty–second day of December, i_he year of grace in which these, their faithfully–recorded adventures, wer_ndertaken and accomplished. Christmas was close at hand, in all his bluff an_earty honesty; it was the season of hospitality, merriment, an_pen–heartedness; the old year was preparing, like an ancient philosopher, t_all his friends around him, and amidst the sound of feasting and revelry t_ass gently and calmly away. Gay and merry was the time; and right gay an_erry were at least four of the numerous hearts that were gladdened by it_oming.
  • And numerous indeed are the hearts to which Christmas brings a brief season o_appiness and enjoyment. How many families, whose members have been disperse_nd scattered far and wide, in the restless struggles of life, are the_eunited, and meet once again in that happy state of companionship and mutua_oodwill, which is a source of such pure and unalloyed delight; and one s_ncompatible with the cares and sorrows of the world, that the religiou_elief of the most civilised nations, and the rude traditions of the roughes_avages, alike number it among the first joys of a future condition o_xistence, provided for the blessed and happy! How many old recollections, an_ow many dormant sympathies, does Christmas time awaken!
  • We write these words now, many miles distant from the spot at which, yea_fter year, we met on that day, a merry and joyous circle. Many of the heart_hat throbbed so gaily then, have ceased to beat; many of the looks that shon_o brightly then, have ceased to glow; the hands we grasped, have grown cold; the eyes we sought, have hid their lustre in the grave; and yet the old house, the room, the merry voices and smiling faces, the jest, the laugh, the mos_inute and trivial circumstances connected with those happy meetings, crow_pon our mind at each recurrence of the season, as if the last assemblage ha_een but yesterday! Happy, happy Christmas, that can win us back to th_elusions of our childish days; that can recall to the old man the pleasure_f his youth; that can transport the sailor and the traveller, thousands o_iles away, back to his own fireside and his quiet home!
  • But we are so taken up and occupied with the good qualities of this sain_hristmas, that we are keeping Mr. Pickwick and his friends waiting in th_old on the outside of the Muggleton coach, which they have just attained, well wrapped up in great–coats, shawls, and comforters. The portmanteaus an_arpet–bags have been stowed away, and Mr. Weller and the guard ar_ndeavouring to insinuate into the fore–boot a huge cod–fish several sizes to_arge for it—which is snugly packed up, in a long brown basket, with a laye_f straw over the top, and which has been left to the last, in order that h_ay repose in safety on the half–dozen barrels of real native oysters, all th_roperty of Mr. Pickwick, which have been arranged in regular order at th_ottom of the receptacle. The interest displayed in Mr. Pickwick’s countenanc_s most intense, as Mr. Weller and the guard try to squeeze the cod–fish int_he boot, first head first, and then tail first, and then top upward, and the_ottom upward, and then side–ways, and then long–ways, all of which artifice_he implacable cod–fish sturdily resists, until the guard accidentally hit_im in the very middle of the basket, whereupon he suddenly disappears int_he boot, and with him, the head and shoulders of the guard himself, who, no_alculating upon so sudden a cessation of the passive resistance of th_od–fish, experiences a very unexpected shock, to the unsmotherable delight o_ll the porters and bystanders. Upon this, Mr. Pickwick smiles with grea_ood–humour, and drawing a shilling from his waistcoat pocket, begs the guard, as he picks himself out of the boot, to drink his health in a glass of ho_randy–and–water; at which the guard smiles too, and Messrs. Snodgrass, Winkle, and Tupman, all smile in company. The guard and Mr. Weller disappea_or five minutes, most probably to get the hot brandy–and–water, for the_mell very strongly of it, when they return, the coachman mounts to the box, Mr. Weller jumps up behind, the Pickwickians pull their coats round their leg_nd their shawls over their noses, the helpers pull the horse–cloths off, th_oachman shouts out a cheery ‘All right,’ and away they go.
  • They have rumbled through the streets, and jolted over the stones, and a_ength reach the wide and open country. The wheels skim over the hard an_rosty ground; and the horses, bursting into a canter at a smart crack of th_hip, step along the road as if the load behind them—coach, passengers, cod–fish, oyster–barrels, and all—were but a feather at their heels. They hav_escended a gentle slope, and enter upon a level, as compact and dry as _olid block of marble, two miles long. Another crack of the whip, and on the_peed, at a smart gallop, the horses tossing their heads and rattling th_arness, as if in exhilaration at the rapidity of the motion; while th_oachman, holding whip and reins in one hand, takes off his hat with th_ther, and resting it on his knees, pulls out his handkerchief, and wipes hi_orehead, partly because he has a habit of doing it, and partly because it’_s well to show the passengers how cool he is, and what an easy thing it is t_rive four–in–hand, when you have had as much practice as he has. Having don_his very leisurely (otherwise the effect would be materially impaired), h_eplaces his handkerchief, pulls on his hat, adjusts his gloves, squares hi_lbows, cracks the whip again, and on they speed, more merrily than before. _ew small houses, scattered on either side of the road, betoken the entranc_o some town or village. The lively notes of the guard’s key–bugle vibrate i_he clear cold air, and wake up the old gentleman inside, who, carefull_etting down the window–sash half–way, and standing sentry over the air, take_ short peep out, and then carefully pulling it up again, informs the othe_nside that they’re going to change directly; on which the other inside wake_imself up, and determines to postpone his next nap until after the stoppage.
  • Again the bugle sounds lustily forth, and rouses the cottager’s wife an_hildren, who peep out at the house door, and watch the coach till it turn_he corner, when they once more crouch round the blazing fire, and throw o_nother log of wood against father comes home; while father himself, a ful_ile off, has just exchanged a friendly nod with the coachman, and turne_ound to take a good long stare at the vehicle as it whirls away.
  • And now the bugle plays a lively air as the coach rattles through th_ll–paved streets of a country town; and the coachman, undoing the buckl_hich keeps his ribands together, prepares to throw them off the moment h_tops. Mr. Pickwick emerges from his coat collar, and looks about him wit_reat curiosity; perceiving which, the coachman informs Mr. Pickwick of th_ame of the town, and tells him it was market–day yesterday, both of whic_ieces of information Mr. Pickwick retails to his fellow–passengers; whereupo_hey emerge from their coat collars too, and look about them also. Mr. Winkle, who sits at the extreme edge, with one leg dangling in the air, is nearl_recipitated into the street, as the coach twists round the sharp corner b_he cheesemonger’s shop, and turns into the market–place; and before Mr.
  • Snodgrass, who sits next to him, has recovered from his alarm, they pull up a_he inn yard where the fresh horses, with cloths on, are already waiting. Th_oachman throws down the reins and gets down himself, and the other outsid_assengers drop down also; except those who have no great confidence in thei_bility to get up again; and they remain where they are, and stamp their fee_gainst the coach to warm them—looking, with longing eyes and red noses, a_he bright fire in the inn bar, and the sprigs of holly with red berries whic_rnament the window.
  • But the guard has delivered at the corn–dealer’s shop, the brown paper packe_e took out of the little pouch which hangs over his shoulder by a leather_trap; and has seen the horses carefully put to; and has thrown on th_avement the saddle which was brought from London on the coach roof; and ha_ssisted in the conference between the coachman and the hostler about the gra_are that hurt her off fore–leg last Tuesday; and he and Mr. Weller are al_ight behind, and the coachman is all right in front, and the old gentlema_nside, who has kept the window down full two inches all this time, has pulle_t up again, and the cloths are off, and they are all ready for starting, except the ‘two stout gentlemen,’ whom the coachman inquires after with som_mpatience. Hereupon the coachman, and the guard, and Sam Weller, and Mr.
  • Winkle, and Mr. Snodgrass, and all the hostlers, and every one of the idlers, who are more in number than all the others put together, shout for the missin_entlemen as loud as they can bawl. A distant response is heard from the yard, and Mr. Pickwick and Mr. Tupman come running down it, quite out of breath, fo_hey have been having a glass of ale a–piece, and Mr. Pickwick’s fingers ar_o cold that he has been full five minutes before he could find the sixpenc_o pay for it. The coachman shouts an admonitory ‘Now then, gen’l’m’n,’ th_uard re–echoes it; the old gentleman inside thinks it a very extraordinar_hing that people will get down when they know there isn’t time for it; Mr.
  • Pickwick struggles up on one side, Mr. Tupman on the other; Mr. Winkle cries ‘All right’; and off they start. Shawls are pulled up, coat collars ar_eadjusted, the pavement ceases, the houses disappear; and they are once agai_ashing along the open road, with the fresh clear air blowing in their faces, and gladdening their very hearts within them.
  • Such was the progress of Mr. Pickwick and his friends by the Muggleto_elegraph, on their way to Dingley Dell; and at three o’clock that afternoo_hey all stood high and dry, safe and sound, hale and hearty, upon the step_f the Blue Lion, having taken on the road quite enough of ale and brandy, t_nable them to bid defiance to the frost that was binding up the earth in it_ron fetters, and weaving its beautiful network upon the trees and hedges. Mr.
  • Pickwick was busily engaged in counting the barrels of oysters an_uperintending the disinterment of the cod–fish, when he felt himself gentl_ulled by the skirts of the coat. Looking round, he discovered that th_ndividual who resorted to this mode of catching his attention was no othe_han Mr. Wardle’s favourite page, better known to the readers of thi_nvarnished history, by the distinguishing appellation of the fat boy.
  • ‘Aha!’ said Mr. Pickwick.
  • ‘Aha!’ said the fat boy.
  • As he said it, he glanced from the cod–fish to the oyster–barrels, an_huckled joyously. He was fatter than ever.
  • ‘Well, you look rosy enough, my young friend,’ said Mr. Pickwick.
  • ‘I’ve been asleep, right in front of the taproom fire,’ replied the fat boy, who had heated himself to the colour of a new chimney–pot, in the course of a_our’s nap. ‘Master sent me over with the shay–cart, to carry your luggage u_o the house. He’d ha’ sent some saddle–horses, but he thought you’d rathe_alk, being a cold day.’
  • ‘Yes, yes,’ said Mr. Pickwick hastily, for he remembered how they ha_ravelled over nearly the same ground on a previous occasion. ‘Yes, we woul_ather walk. Here, Sam!’
  • ‘Sir,’ said Mr. Weller.
  • ‘Help Mr. Wardle’s servant to put the packages into the cart, and then ride o_ith him. We will walk forward at once.’
  • Having given this direction, and settled with the coachman, Mr. Pickwick an_is three friends struck into the footpath across the fields, and walke_riskly away, leaving Mr. Weller and the fat boy confronted together for th_irst time. Sam looked at the fat boy with great astonishment, but withou_aying a word; and began to stow the luggage rapidly away in the cart, whil_he fat boy stood quietly by, and seemed to think it a very interesting sor_f thing to see Mr. Weller working by himself.
  • ‘There,’ said Sam, throwing in the last carpet–bag, ‘there they are!’
  • ‘Yes,’ said the fat boy, in a very satisfied tone, ‘there they are.’
  • ‘Vell, young twenty stun,’ said Sam, ‘you’re a nice specimen of a prize boy, you are!’ ‘Thank’ee,’ said the fat boy.
  • ‘You ain’t got nothin’ on your mind as makes you fret yourself, have you?’ inquired Sam.
  • ‘Not as I knows on,’ replied the fat boy.
  • ‘I should rayther ha’ thought, to look at you, that you was a–labourin’ unde_n unrequited attachment to some young ‘ooman,’ said Sam.
  • The fat boy shook his head.
  • ‘Vell,’ said Sam, ‘I am glad to hear it. Do you ever drink anythin’?’
  • ‘I likes eating better,’ replied the boy.
  • ‘Ah,’ said Sam, ‘I should ha’ s’posed that; but what I mean is, should yo_ike a drop of anythin’ as’d warm you? but I s’pose you never was cold, wit_ll them elastic fixtures, was you?’
  • ‘Sometimes,’ replied the boy; ‘and I likes a drop of something, when it’_ood.’
  • ‘Oh, you do, do you?’ said Sam, ‘come this way, then!’
  • The Blue Lion tap was soon gained, and the fat boy swallowed a glass of liquo_ithout so much as winking—a feat which considerably advanced him in Mr.
  • Weller’s good opinion. Mr. Weller having transacted a similar piece o_usiness on his own account, they got into the cart.
  • ‘Can you drive?’ said the fat boy. ‘I should rayther think so,’ replied Sam.
  • ‘There, then,’ said the fat boy, putting the reins in his hand, and pointin_p a lane, ‘it’s as straight as you can go; you can’t miss it.’
  • With these words, the fat boy laid himself affectionately down by the side o_he cod–fish, and, placing an oyster–barrel under his head for a pillow, fel_sleep instantaneously.
  • ‘Well,’ said Sam, ‘of all the cool boys ever I set my eyes on, this here youn_en’l’m’n is the coolest. Come, wake up, young dropsy!’
  • But as young dropsy evinced no symptoms of returning animation, Sam Weller sa_imself down in front of the cart, and starting the old horse with a jerk o_he rein, jogged steadily on, towards the Manor Farm.
  • Meanwhile, Mr. Pickwick and his friends having walked their blood into activ_irculation, proceeded cheerfully on. The paths were hard; the grass was cris_nd frosty; the air had a fine, dry, bracing coldness; and the rapid approac_f the gray twilight (slate–coloured is a better term in frosty weather) mad_hem look forward with pleasant anticipation to the comforts which awaite_hem at their hospitable entertainer’s. It was the sort of afternoon tha_ight induce a couple of elderly gentlemen, in a lonely field, to take of_heir greatcoats and play at leap–frog in pure lightness of heart and gaiety; and we firmly believe that had Mr. Tupman at that moment proffered ‘a back,’ Mr. Pickwick would have accepted his offer with the utmost avidity.
  • However, Mr. Tupman did not volunteer any such accommodation, and the friend_alked on, conversing merrily. As they turned into a lane they had to cross, the sound of many voices burst upon their ears; and before they had even ha_ime to form a guess to whom they belonged, they walked into the very centr_f the party who were expecting their arrival—a fact which was first notifie_o the Pickwickians, by the loud ‘Hurrah,’ which burst from old Wardle’s lips, when they appeared in sight.
  • First, there was Wardle himself, looking, if that were possible, more joll_han ever; then there were Bella and her faithful Trundle; and, lastly, ther_ere Emily and some eight or ten young ladies, who had all come down to th_edding, which was to take place next day, and who were in as happy an_mportant a state as young ladies usually are, on such momentous occasions; and they were, one and all, startling the fields and lanes, far and wide, wit_heir frolic and laughter.
  • The ceremony of introduction, under such circumstances, was very soo_erformed, or we should rather say that the introduction was soon over, without any ceremony at all. In two minutes thereafter, Mr. Pickwick wa_oking with the young ladies who wouldn’t come over the stile while h_ooked—or who, having pretty feet and unexceptionable ankles, preferre_tanding on the top rail for five minutes or so, declaring that they were to_rightened to move—with as much ease and absence of reserve or constraint, a_f he had known them for life. It is worthy of remark, too, that Mr. Snodgras_ffered Emily far more assistance than the absolute terrors of the stile (although it was full three feet high, and had only a couple o_tepping–stones) would seem to require; while one black–eyed young lady in _ery nice little pair of boots with fur round the top, was observed to screa_ery loudly, when Mr. Winkle offered to help her over.
  • All this was very snug and pleasant. And when the difficulties of the stil_ere at last surmounted, and they once more entered on the open field, ol_ardle informed Mr. Pickwick how they had all been down in a body to inspec_he furniture and fittings–up of the house, which the young couple were t_enant, after the Christmas holidays; at which communication Bella and Trundl_oth coloured up, as red as the fat boy after the taproom fire; and the youn_ady with the black eyes and the fur round the boots, whispered something i_mily’s ear, and then glanced archly at Mr. Snodgrass; to which Emil_esponded that she was a foolish girl, but turned very red, notwithstanding; and Mr. Snodgrass, who was as modest as all great geniuses usually are, fel_he crimson rising to the crown of his head, and devoutly wished, in th_nmost recesses of his own heart, that the young lady aforesaid, with he_lack eyes, and her archness, and her boots with the fur round the top, wer_ll comfortably deposited in the adjacent county.
  • But if they were social and happy outside the house, what was the warmth an_ordiality of their reception when they reached the farm! The very servant_rinned with pleasure at sight of Mr. Pickwick; and Emma bestowed _alf–demure, half–impudent, and all–pretty look of recognition, on Mr. Tupman, which was enough to make the statue of Bonaparte in the passage, unfold hi_rms, and clasp her within them.
  • The old lady was seated with customary state in the front parlour, but she wa_ather cross, and, by consequence, most particularly deaf. She never went ou_erself, and like a great many other old ladies of the same stamp, she was ap_o consider it an act of domestic treason, if anybody else took the liberty o_oing what she couldn’t. So, bless her old soul, she sat as upright as sh_ould, in her great chair, and looked as fierce as might be—and that wa_enevolent after all.
  • ‘Mother,’ said Wardle, ‘Mr. Pickwick. You recollect him?’
  • ‘Never mind,’ replied the old lady, with great dignity. ‘Don’t trouble Mr.
  • Pickwick about an old creetur like me. Nobody cares about me now, and it’_ery nat’ral they shouldn’t.’ Here the old lady tossed her head, and smoothe_own her lavender–coloured silk dress with trembling hands. ‘Come, come, ma’am,’ said Mr. Pickwick, ‘I can’t let you cut an old friend in this way. _ave come down expressly to have a long talk, and another rubber with you; an_e’ll show these boys and girls how to dance a minuet, before they’r_ight–and–forty hours older.’
  • The old lady was rapidly giving way, but she did not like to do it all a_nce; so she only said, ‘Ah! I can’t hear him!’
  • ‘Nonsense, mother,’ said Wardle. ‘Come, come, don’t be cross, there’s a goo_oul. Recollect Bella; come, you must keep her spirits up, poor girl.’
  • The good old lady heard this, for her lip quivered as her son said it. But ag_as its little infirmities of temper, and she was not quite brought round yet.
  • So, she smoothed down the lavender–coloured dress again, and turning to Mr.
  • Pickwick said, ‘Ah, Mr. Pickwick, young people was very different, when I wa_ girl.’
  • ‘No doubt of that, ma’am,’ said Mr. Pickwick, ‘and that’s the reason why _ould make much of the few that have any traces of the old stock’—and sayin_his, Mr. Pickwick gently pulled Bella towards him, and bestowing a kiss upo_er forehead, bade her sit down on the little stool at her grandmother’s feet.
  • Whether the expression of her countenance, as it was raised towards the ol_ady’s face, called up a thought of old times, or whether the old lady wa_ouched by Mr. Pickwick’s affectionate good–nature, or whatever was the cause, she was fairly melted; so she threw herself on her granddaughter’s neck, an_ll the little ill–humour evaporated in a gush of silent tears.
  • A happy party they were, that night. Sedate and solemn were the score o_ubbers in which Mr. Pickwick and the old lady played together; uproarious wa_he mirth of the round table. Long after the ladies had retired, did the ho_lder wine, well qualified with brandy and spice, go round, and round, an_ound again; and sound was the sleep and pleasant were the dreams tha_ollowed. It is a remarkable fact that those of Mr. Snodgrass bore constan_eference to Emily Wardle; and that the principal figure in Mr. Winkle’_isions was a young lady with black eyes, and arch smile, and a pair o_emarkably nice boots with fur round the tops.
  • Mr. Pickwick was awakened early in the morning, by a hum of voices and _attering of feet, sufficient to rouse even the fat boy from his heav_lumbers. He sat up in bed and listened. The female servants and femal_isitors were running constantly to and fro; and there were such multitudinou_emands for hot water, such repeated outcries for needles and thread, and s_any half–suppressed entreaties of ‘Oh, do come and tie me, there’s a dear!’ that Mr. Pickwick in his innocence began to imagine that something dreadfu_ust have occurred—when he grew more awake, and remembered the wedding. Th_ccasion being an important one, he dressed himself with peculiar care, an_escended to the breakfast–room.
  • There were all the female servants in a bran new uniform of pink muslin gown_ith white bows in their caps, running about the house in a state o_xcitement and agitation which it would be impossible to describe. The ol_ady was dressed out in a brocaded gown, which had not seen the light fo_wenty years, saving and excepting such truant rays as had stolen through th_hinks in the box in which it had been laid by, during the whole time. Mr.
  • Trundle was in high feather and spirits, but a little nervous withal. Th_earty old landlord was trying to look very cheerful and unconcerned, bu_ailing signally in the attempt. All the girls were in tears and white muslin, except a select two or three, who were being honoured with a private view o_he bride and bridesmaids, upstairs. All the Pickwickians were in mos_looming array; and there was a terrific roaring on the grass in front of th_ouse, occasioned by all the men, boys, and hobbledehoys attached to the farm, each of whom had got a white bow in his button–hole, and all of whom wer_heering with might and main; being incited thereto, and stimulated therein b_he precept and example of Mr. Samuel Weller, who had managed to become might_opular already, and was as much at home as if he had been born on the land.
  • A wedding is a licensed subject to joke upon, but there really is no grea_oke in the matter after all;—we speak merely of the ceremony, and beg it t_e distinctly understood that we indulge in no hidden sarcasm upon a marrie_ife. Mixed up with the pleasure and joy of the occasion, are the many regret_t quitting home, the tears of parting between parent and child, th_onsciousness of leaving the dearest and kindest friends of the happies_ortion of human life, to encounter its cares and troubles with others stil_ntried and little known—natural feelings which we would not render thi_hapter mournful by describing, and which we should be still more unwilling t_e supposed to ridicule.
  • Let us briefly say, then, that the ceremony was performed by the ol_lergyman, in the parish church of Dingley Dell, and that Mr. Pickwick’s nam_s attached to the register, still preserved in the vestry thereof; that th_oung lady with the black eyes signed her name in a very unsteady an_remulous manner; that Emily’s signature, as the other bridesmaid, is nearl_llegible; that it all went off in very admirable style; that the young ladie_enerally thought it far less shocking than they had expected; and tha_lthough the owner of the black eyes and the arch smile informed Mr. Wardl_hat she was sure she could never submit to anything so dreadful, we have th_ery best reasons for thinking she was mistaken. To all this, we may add, tha_r. Pickwick was the first who saluted the bride, and that in so doing h_hrew over her neck a rich gold watch and chain, which no mortal eyes but th_eweller’s had ever beheld before. Then, the old church bell rang as gaily a_t could, and they all returned to breakfast. ‘Vere does the mince–pies go, young opium–eater?’ said Mr. Weller to the fat boy, as he assisted in layin_ut such articles of consumption as had not been duly arranged on the previou_ight.
  • The fat boy pointed to the destination of the pies.
  • ‘Wery good,’ said Sam, ‘stick a bit o’ Christmas in ’em. T’other dis_pposite. There; now we look compact and comfortable, as the father said ve_e cut his little boy’s head off, to cure him o’ squintin’.’
  • As Mr. Weller made the comparison, he fell back a step or two, to give ful_ffect to it, and surveyed the preparations with the utmost satisfaction.
  • ‘Wardle,’ said Mr. Pickwick, almost as soon as they were all seated, ‘a glas_f wine in honour of this happy occasion!’
  • ‘I shall be delighted, my boy,’ said Wardle. ‘Joe—damn that boy, he’s gone t_leep.’ ‘No, I ain’t, sir,’ replied the fat boy, starting up from a remot_orner, where, like the patron saint of fat boys—the immortal Horner—he ha_een devouring a Christmas pie, though not with the coolness and deliberatio_hich characterised that young gentleman’s proceedings.
  • ‘Fill Mr. Pickwick’s glass.’
  • ‘Yes, sir.’
  • The fat boy filled Mr. Pickwick’s glass, and then retired behind his master’_hair, from whence he watched the play of the knives and forks, and th_rogress of the choice morsels from the dishes to the mouths of the company, with a kind of dark and gloomy joy that was most impressive.
  • ‘God bless you, old fellow!’ said Mr. Pickwick.
  • ‘Same to you, my boy,’ replied Wardle; and they pledged each other, heartily.
  • ‘Mrs. Wardle,’ said Mr. Pickwick, ‘we old folks must have a glass of win_ogether, in honour of this joyful event.’
  • The old lady was in a state of great grandeur just then, for she was sittin_t the top of the table in the brocaded gown, with her newly–marrie_randdaughter on one side, and Mr. Pickwick on the other, to do the carving.
  • Mr. Pickwick had not spoken in a very loud tone, but she understood him a_nce, and drank off a full glass of wine to his long life and happiness; afte_hich the worthy old soul launched forth into a minute and particular accoun_f her own wedding, with a dissertation on the fashion of wearing high–heele_hoes, and some particulars concerning the life and adventures of th_eautiful Lady Tollimglower, deceased; at all of which the old lady hersel_aughed very heartily indeed, and so did the young ladies too, for they wer_ondering among themselves what on earth grandma was talking about. When the_aughed, the old lady laughed ten times more heartily, and said that thes_lways had been considered capital stories, which caused them all to laug_gain, and put the old lady into the very best of humours. Then the cake wa_ut, and passed through the ring; the young ladies saved pieces to put unde_heir pillows to dream of their future husbands on; and a great deal o_lushing and merriment was thereby occasioned.
  • ‘Mr. Miller,’ said Mr. Pickwick to his old acquaintance, the hard–heade_entleman, ‘a glass of wine?’
  • ‘With great satisfaction, Mr. Pickwick,’ replied the hard–headed gentlema_olemnly.
  • ‘You’ll take me in?’ said the benevolent old clergyman.
  • ‘And me,’ interposed his wife. ‘And me, and me,’ said a couple of poo_elations at the bottom of the table, who had eaten and drunk very heartily, and laughed at everything.
  • Mr. Pickwick expressed his heartfelt delight at every additional suggestion; and his eyes beamed with hilarity and cheerfulness. ‘Ladies and gentlemen,’ said Mr. Pickwick, suddenly rising.
  • ‘Hear, hear! Hear, hear! Hear, hear!’ cried Mr. Weller, in the excitement o_is feelings.
  • ‘Call in all the servants,’ cried old Wardle, interposing to prevent th_ublic rebuke which Mr. Weller would otherwise most indubitably have receive_rom his master. ‘Give them a glass of wine each to drink the toast in. Now, Pickwick.’
  • Amidst the silence of the company, the whispering of the women–servants, an_he awkward embarrassment of the men, Mr. Pickwick proceeded—
  • ‘Ladies and gentlemen—no, I won’t say ladies and gentlemen, I’ll call you m_riends, my dear friends, if the ladies will allow me to take so great _iberty—’
  • Here Mr. Pickwick was interrupted by immense applause from the ladies, echoe_y the gentlemen, during which the owner of the eyes was distinctly heard t_tate that she could kiss that dear Mr. Pickwick. Whereupon Mr. Winkl_allantly inquired if it couldn’t be done by deputy: to which the young lad_ith the black eyes replied ‘Go away,’ and accompanied the request with a loo_hich said as plainly as a look could do, ‘if you can.’
  • ‘My dear friends,’ resumed Mr. Pickwick, ‘I am going to propose the health o_he bride and bridegroom—God bless ’em (cheers and tears). My young friend, Trundle, I believe to be a very excellent and manly fellow; and his wife _now to be a very amiable and lovely girl, well qualified to transfer t_nother sphere of action the happiness which for twenty years she has diffuse_round her, in her father’s house. (Here, the fat boy burst forth int_tentorian blubberings, and was led forth by the coat collar, by Mr. Weller.) I wish,’ added Mr. Pickwick—‘I wish I was young enough to be her sister’_usband (cheers), but, failing that, I am happy to be old enough to be he_ather; for, being so, I shall not be suspected of any latent designs when _ay, that I admire, esteem, and love them both (cheers and sobs). The bride’_ather, our good friend there, is a noble person, and I am proud to know him (great uproar). He is a kind, excellent, independent–spirited, fine–hearted, hospitable, liberal man (enthusiastic shouts from the poor relations, at al_he adjectives; and especially at the two last). That his daughter may enjo_ll the happiness, even he can desire; and that he may derive from th_ontemplation of her felicity all the gratification of heart and peace of min_hich he so well deserves, is, I am persuaded, our united wish. So, let u_rink their healths, and wish them prolonged life, and every blessing!’
  • Mr. Pickwick concluded amidst a whirlwind of applause; and once more were th_ungs of the supernumeraries, under Mr. Weller’s command, brought into activ_nd efficient operation. Mr. Wardle proposed Mr. Pickwick; Mr. Pickwic_roposed the old lady. Mr. Snodgrass proposed Mr. Wardle; Mr. Wardle propose_r. Snodgrass. One of the poor relations proposed Mr. Tupman, and the othe_oor relation proposed Mr. Winkle; all was happiness and festivity, until th_ysterious disappearance of both the poor relations beneath the table, warne_he party that it was time to adjourn.
  • At dinner they met again, after a five–and–twenty mile walk, undertaken by th_ales at Wardle’s recommendation, to get rid of the effects of the wine a_reakfast. The poor relations had kept in bed all day, with the view o_ttaining the same happy consummation, but, as they had been unsuccessful, they stopped there. Mr. Weller kept the domestics in a state of perpetua_ilarity; and the fat boy divided his time into small alternate allotments o_ating and sleeping.
  • The dinner was as hearty an affair as the breakfast, and was quite as noisy, without the tears. Then came the dessert and some more toasts. Then came th_ea and coffee; and then, the ball.
  • The best sitting–room at Manor Farm was a good, long, dark–panelled room wit_ high chimney–piece, and a capacious chimney, up which you could have drive_ne of the new patent cabs, wheels and all. At the upper end of the room, seated in a shady bower of holly and evergreens were the two best fiddlers, and the only harp, in all Muggleton. In all sorts of recesses, and on al_inds of brackets, stood massive old silver candlesticks with four branche_ach. The carpet was up, the candles burned bright, the fire blazed an_rackled on the hearth, and merry voices and light–hearted laughter ran_hrough the room. If any of the old English yeomen had turned into fairie_hen they died, it was just the place in which they would have held thei_evels.
  • If anything could have added to the interest of this agreeable scene, it woul_ave been the remarkable fact of Mr. Pickwick’s appearing without his gaiters, for the first time within the memory of his oldest friends.
  • ‘You mean to dance?’ said Wardle.
  • ‘Of course I do,’ replied Mr. Pickwick. ‘Don’t you see I am dressed for th_urpose?’ Mr. Pickwick called attention to his speckled silk stockings, an_martly tied pumps.
  • ‘You in silk stockings!’ exclaimed Mr. Tupman jocosely.
  • ‘And why not, sir—why not?’ said Mr. Pickwick, turning warmly upon him. ‘Oh, of course there is no reason why you shouldn’t wear them,’ responded Mr.
  • Tupman.
  • ‘I imagine not, sir—I imagine not,’ said Mr. Pickwick, in a very peremptor_one.
  • Mr. Tupman had contemplated a laugh, but he found it was a serious matter; s_e looked grave, and said they were a pretty pattern.
  • ‘I hope they are,’ said Mr. Pickwick, fixing his eyes upon his friend. ‘Yo_ee nothing extraordinary in the stockings, as stockings, I trust, Sir?’
  • ‘Certainly not. Oh, certainly not,’ replied Mr. Tupman. He walked away; an_r. Pickwick’s countenance resumed its customary benign expression.
  • ‘We are all ready, I believe,’ said Mr. Pickwick, who was stationed with th_ld lady at the top of the dance, and had already made four false starts, i_is excessive anxiety to commence.
  • ‘Then begin at once,’ said Wardle. ‘Now!’
  • Up struck the two fiddles and the one harp, and off went Mr. Pickwick int_ands across, when there was a general clapping of hands, and a cry of ‘Stop, stop!’
  • ‘What’s the matter?’ said Mr. Pickwick, who was only brought to, by th_iddles and harp desisting, and could have been stopped by no other earthl_ower, if the house had been on fire. ‘Where’s Arabella Allen?’ cried a doze_oices.
  • ‘And Winkle?‘added Mr. Tupman.
  • ‘Here we are!’ exclaimed that gentleman, emerging with his pretty companio_rom the corner; as he did so, it would have been hard to tell which was th_edder in the face, he or the young lady with the black eyes.
  • ‘What an extraordinary thing it is, Winkle,’ said Mr. Pickwick, rathe_ettishly, ‘that you couldn’t have taken your place before.’
  • ‘Not at all extraordinary,’ said Mr. Winkle.
  • ‘Well,’ said Mr. Pickwick, with a very expressive smile, as his eyes rested o_rabella, ‘well, I don’t know that it was extraordinary, either, after all.’
  • However, there was no time to think more about the matter, for the fiddles an_arp began in real earnest. Away went Mr. Pickwick—hands across—down th_iddle to the very end of the room, and half–way up the chimney, back again t_he door—poussette everywhere—loud stamp on the ground—ready for the nex_ouple—off again—all the figure over once more—another stamp to beat out th_ime—next couple, and the next, and the next again—never was such going; a_ast, after they had reached the bottom of the dance, and full fourteen coupl_fter the old lady had retired in an exhausted state, and the clergyman’s wif_ad been substituted in her stead, did that gentleman, when there was n_emand whatever on his exertions, keep perpetually dancing in his place, t_eep time to the music, smiling on his partner all the while with a blandnes_f demeanour which baffles all description.
  • Long before Mr. Pickwick was weary of dancing, the newly–married couple ha_etired from the scene. There was a glorious supper downstairs, notwithstanding, and a good long sitting after it; and when Mr. Pickwic_woke, late the next morning, he had a confused recollection of having, severally and confidentially, invited somewhere about five–and–forty people t_ine with him at the George and Vulture, the very first time they came t_ondon; which Mr. Pickwick rightly considered a pretty certain indication o_is having taken something besides exercise, on the previous night.
  • ‘And so your family has games in the kitchen to–night, my dear, has they?’ inquired Sam of Emma.
  • ‘Yes, Mr. Weller,’ replied Emma; ‘we always have on Christmas Eve. Maste_ouldn’t neglect to keep it up on any account.’
  • ‘Your master’s a wery pretty notion of keeping anythin’ up, my dear,’ said Mr.
  • Weller; ‘I never see such a sensible sort of man as he is, or such a reg’la_en’l’m’n.’ ‘Oh, that he is!’ said the fat boy, joining in the conversation; ‘don’t he breed nice pork!’ The fat youth gave a semi–cannibalic leer at Mr.
  • Weller, as he thought of the roast legs and gravy.
  • ‘Oh, you’ve woke up, at last, have you?’ said Sam.
  • The fat boy nodded.
  • ‘I’ll tell you what it is, young boa–constructer,’ said Mr. Welle_mpressively; ‘if you don’t sleep a little less, and exercise a little more, wen you comes to be a man you’ll lay yourself open to the same sort o_ersonal inconwenience as was inflicted on the old gen’l’m’n as wore th_igtail.’
  • ‘What did they do to him?’ inquired the fat boy, in a faltering voice.
  • ‘I’m a–going to tell you,’ replied Mr. Weller; ‘he was one o’ the larges_atterns as was ever turned out—reg’lar fat man, as hadn’t caught a glimpse o_is own shoes for five–and–forty year.’
  • ‘Lor!’ exclaimed Emma.
  • ‘No, that he hadn’t, my dear,’ said Mr. Weller; ‘and if you’d put an exac_odel of his own legs on the dinin’–table afore him, he wouldn’t ha’ known ’em. Well, he always walks to his office with a wery handsome gold watch–chai_anging out, about a foot and a quarter, and a gold watch in his fob pocket a_as worth—I’m afraid to say how much, but as much as a watch can be—a large, heavy, round manufacter, as stout for a watch, as he was for a man, and with _ig face in proportion. “You’d better not carry that ‘ere watch,” says the ol_en’l’m’n’s friends, “you’ll be robbed on it,” says they. “Shall I?” says he.
  • “Yes, you will,” says they. “Well,” says he, “I should like to see the thie_s could get this here watch out, for I’m blessed if I ever can, it’s such _ight fit,” says he, “and wenever I vants to know what’s o’clock, I’m oblige_o stare into the bakers’ shops,” he says. Well, then he laughs as hearty a_f he was a–goin’ to pieces, and out he walks agin with his powdered head an_igtail, and rolls down the Strand with the chain hangin’ out furder tha_ver, and the great round watch almost bustin’ through his gray kersey smalls.
  • There warn’t a pickpocket in all London as didn’t take a pull at that chain, but the chain ’ud never break, and the watch ’ud never come out, so they soo_ot tired of dragging such a heavy old gen’l’m’n along the pavement, and he’_o home and laugh till the pigtail wibrated like the penderlum of a Dutc_lock. At last, one day the old gen’l’m’n was a–rollin’ along, and he sees _ickpocket as he know’d by sight, a–coming up, arm in arm with a little bo_ith a wery large head. “Here’s a game,” says the old gen’l’m’n to himself, “they’re a–goin’ to have another try, but it won’t do!” So he begin_–chucklin’ wery hearty, wen, all of a sudden, the little boy leaves hold o_he pickpocket’s arm, and rushes head foremost straight into the ol_en’l’m’n’s stomach, and for a moment doubles him right up with the pain.
  • “Murder!” says the old gen’l’m’n. “All right, Sir,” says the pickpocket, a–wisperin’ in his ear. And wen he come straight agin, the watch and chain wa_one, and what’s worse than that, the old gen’l’m’n’s digestion was all wron_ver afterwards, to the wery last day of his life; so just you look about you, young feller, and take care you don’t get too fat.’
  • As Mr. Weller concluded this moral tale, with which the fat boy appeared muc_ffected, they all three repaired to the large kitchen, in which the famil_ere by this time assembled, according to annual custom on Christmas Eve, observed by old Wardle’s forefathers from time immemorial.
  • From the centre of the ceiling of this kitchen, old Wardle had just suspended, with his own hands, a huge branch of mistletoe, and this same branch o_istletoe instantaneously gave rise to a scene of general and most delightfu_truggling and confusion; in the midst of which, Mr. Pickwick, with _allantry that would have done honour to a descendant of Lady Tollimglowe_erself, took the old lady by the hand, led her beneath the mystic branch, an_aluted her in all courtesy and decorum. The old lady submitted to this piec_f practical politeness with all the dignity which befitted so important an_erious a solemnity, but the younger ladies, not being so thoroughly imbue_ith a superstitious veneration for the custom, or imagining that the value o_ salute is very much enhanced if it cost a little trouble to obtain it, screamed and struggled, and ran into corners, and threatened and remonstrated, and did everything but leave the room, until some of the less adventurou_entlemen were on the point of desisting, when they all at once found i_seless to resist any longer, and submitted to be kissed with a good grace.
  • Mr. Winkle kissed the young lady with the black eyes, and Mr. Snodgrass kisse_mily; and Mr. Weller, not being particular about the form of being under th_istletoe, kissed Emma and the other female servants, just as he caught them.
  • As to the poor relations, they kissed everybody, not even excepting th_lainer portions of the young lady visitors, who, in their excessiv_onfusion, ran right under the mistletoe, as soon as it was hung up, withou_nowing it! Wardle stood with his back to the fire, surveying the whole scene, with the utmost satisfaction; and the fat boy took the opportunity o_ppropriating to his own use, and summarily devouring, a particularly fin_ince–pie, that had been carefully put by, for somebody else.
  • Now, the screaming had subsided, and faces were in a glow, and curls in _angle, and Mr. Pickwick, after kissing the old lady as before mentioned, wa_tanding under the mistletoe, looking with a very pleased countenance on al_hat was passing around him, when the young lady with the black eyes, after _ittle whispering with the other young ladies, made a sudden dart forward, and, putting her arm round Mr. Pickwick’s neck, saluted him affectionately o_he left cheek; and before Mr. Pickwick distinctly knew what was the matter, he was surrounded by the whole body, and kissed by every one of them.
  • It was a pleasant thing to see Mr. Pickwick in the centre of the group, no_ulled this way, and then that, and first kissed on the chin, and then on th_ose, and then on the spectacles, and to hear the peals of laughter which wer_aised on every side; but it was a still more pleasant thing to see Mr.
  • Pickwick, blinded shortly afterwards with a silk handkerchief, falling u_gainst the wall, and scrambling into corners, and going through all th_ysteries of blind–man’s buff, with the utmost relish for the game, until a_ast he caught one of the poor relations, and then had to evade the blind–ma_imself, which he did with a nimbleness and agility that elicited th_dmiration and applause of all beholders. The poor relations caught the peopl_ho they thought would like it, and, when the game flagged, got caugh_hemselves. When they all tired of blind–man’s buff, there was a great game a_nap–dragon, and when fingers enough were burned with that, and all th_aisins were gone, they sat down by the huge fire of blazing logs to _ubstantial supper, and a mighty bowl of wassail, something smaller than a_rdinary wash–house copper, in which the hot apples were hissing and bubblin_ith a rich look, and a jolly sound, that were perfectly irresistible.
  • ‘This,’ said Mr. Pickwick, looking round him, ‘this is, indeed, comfort.’ ‘Ou_nvariable custom,’ replied Mr. Wardle. ‘Everybody sits down with us o_hristmas Eve, as you see them now—servants and all; and here we wait, unti_he clock strikes twelve, to usher Christmas in, and beguile the time wit_orfeits and old stories. Trundle, my boy, rake up the fire.’
  • Up flew the bright sparks in myriads as the logs were stirred. The deep re_laze sent forth a rich glow, that penetrated into the farthest corner of th_oom, and cast its cheerful tint on every face.
  • ‘Come,’ said Wardle, ‘a song—a Christmas song! I’ll give you one, in defaul_f a better.’
  • ‘Bravo!’ said Mr. Pickwick.
  • ‘Fill up,’ cried Wardle. ‘It will be two hours, good, before you see th_ottom of the bowl through the deep rich colour of the wassail; fill up al_ound, and now for the song.’
  • Thus saying, the merry old gentleman, in a good, round, sturdy voice, commenced without more ado—
  • {verse
  • **A Christmas Carol**
  • ‘I care not for Spring; on his fickle wing
  • Let the blossoms and buds be borne;
  • He woos them amain with his treacherous rain,
  • And he scatters them ere the morn.
  • An inconstant elf, he knows not himself,
  • Nor his own changing mind an hour,
  • He’ll smile in your face, and, with wry grimace,
  • He’ll wither your youngest flower.
  • ‘Let the Summer sun to his bright home run,
  • He shall never be sought by me;
  • When he’s dimmed by a cloud I can laugh aloud
  • And care not how sulky he be!
  • For his darling child is the madness wild
  • That sports in fierce fever’s train;
  • And when love is too strong, it don’t last long,
  • As many have found to their pain.
  • ‘A mild harvest night, by the tranquil light
  • Of the modest and gentle moon,
  • Has a far sweeter sheen for me, I ween,
  • Than the broad and unblushing noon.
  • But every leaf awakens my grief,
  • As it lieth beneath the tree;
  • So let Autumn air be never so fair,
  • It by no means agrees with me.
  • ‘But my song I troll out, for christmas Stout,
  • The hearty, the true, and the bold;
  • A bumper I drain, and with might and main
  • Give three cheers for this Christmas old!
  • We’ll usher him in with a merry din
  • That shall gladden his joyous heart,
  • And we’ll keep him up, while there’s bite or sup,
  • And in fellowship good, we’ll part.
  • ‘In his fine honest pride, he scorns to hide
  • One jot of his hard–weather scars;
  • They’re no disgrace, for there’s much the same trace
  • On the cheeks of our bravest tars.
  • Then again I sing till the roof doth ring
  • And it echoes from wall to wall—
  • To the stout old wight, fair welcome to–night,
  • As the King of the Seasons all!’
  • {verse
  • This song was tumultuously applauded—for friends and dependents make a capita_udience—and the poor relations, especially, were in perfect ecstasies o_apture. Again was the fire replenished, and again went the wassail round.
  • ‘How it snows!’ said one of the men, in a low tone.
  • ‘Snows, does it?’ said Wardle.
  • ‘Rough, cold night, Sir,’ replied the man; ‘and there’s a wind got up, tha_rifts it across the fields, in a thick white cloud.’
  • ‘What does Jem say?’ inquired the old lady. ‘There ain’t anything the matter, is there?’
  • ‘No, no, mother,’ replied Wardle; ‘he says there’s a snowdrift, and a win_hat’s piercing cold. I should know that, by the way it rumbles in th_himney.’
  • ‘Ah!’ said the old lady, ‘there was just such a wind, and just such a fall o_now, a good many years back, I recollect—just five years before your poo_ather died. It was a Christmas Eve, too; and I remember that on that ver_ight he told us the story about the goblins that carried away old Gabrie_rub.’
  • ‘The story about what?’ said Mr. Pickwick.
  • ‘Oh, nothing, nothing,’ replied Wardle. ‘About an old sexton, that the goo_eople down here suppose to have been carried away by goblins.’
  • ‘Suppose!’ ejaculated the old lady. ‘Is there anybody hardy enough t_isbelieve it? Suppose! Haven’t you heard ever since you were a child, that h_as carried away by the goblins, and don’t you know he was?’
  • ‘Very well, mother, he was, if you like,’ said Wardle laughing. ‘He wa_arried away by goblins, Pickwick; and there’s an end of the matter.’
  • ‘No, no,’ said Mr. Pickwick, ‘not an end of it, I assure you; for I must hea_ow, and why, and all about it.’
  • Wardle smiled, as every head was bent forward to hear, and filling out th_assail with no stinted hand, nodded a health to Mr. Pickwick, and began a_ollows—
  • But bless our editorial heart, what a long chapter we have been betrayed into!
  • We had quite forgotten all such petty restrictions as chapters, we solemnl_eclare. So here goes, to give the goblin a fair start in a new one. A clea_tage and no favour for the goblins, ladies and gentlemen, if you please.