Chapter 41 What befell Mr. Pickwick when he got into the Fleet; wha_risoners he saw there; and how he passed the Night
Mr. Tom Roker, the gentleman who had accompanied Mr. Pickwick into the prison, turned sharp round to the right when he got to the bottom of the little fligh_f steps, and led the way, through an iron gate which stood open, and u_nother short flight of steps, into a long narrow gallery, dirty and low, paved with stone, and very dimly lighted by a window at each remote end.
‘This,’ said the gentleman, thrusting his hands into his pockets, and lookin_arelessly over his shoulder to Mr. Pickwick—‘this here is the hall flight.’
‘Oh,’ replied Mr. Pickwick, looking down a dark and filthy staircase, whic_ppeared to lead to a range of damp and gloomy stone vaults, beneath th_round, ‘and those, I suppose, are the little cellars where the prisoners kee_heir small quantities of coals. Unpleasant places to have to go down to; bu_ery convenient, I dare say.’
‘Yes, I shouldn’t wonder if they was convenient,’ replied the gentleman, ‘seeing that a few people live there, pretty snug. That’s the Fair, that is.’
‘My friend,’ said Mr. Pickwick, ‘you don’t really mean to say that huma_eings live down in those wretched dungeons?’
‘Don’t I?’ replied Mr. Roker, with indignant astonishment; ‘why shouldn’t I?’
‘Live!—live down there!’ exclaimed Mr. Pickwick.
‘Live down there! Yes, and die down there, too, very often!’ replied Mr.
Roker; ‘and what of that? Who’s got to say anything agin it? Live down there!
Yes, and a wery good place it is to live in, ain’t it?’
As Roker turned somewhat fiercely upon Mr. Pickwick in saying this, an_oreover muttered in an excited fashion certain unpleasant invocation_oncerning his own eyes, limbs, and circulating fluids, the latter gentlema_eemed it advisable to pursue the discourse no further. Mr. Roker the_roceeded to mount another staircase, as dirty as that which led to the plac_hich has just been the subject of discussion, in which ascent he was closel_ollowed by Mr. Pickwick and Sam.
‘There,’ said Mr. Roker, pausing for breath when they reached another galler_f the same dimensions as the one below, ‘this is the coffee–room flight; th_ne above’s the third, and the one above that’s the top; and the room wher_ou’re a–going to sleep to–night is the warden’s room, and it’s this way—com_n.’ Having said all this in a breath, Mr. Roker mounted another flight o_tairs with Mr. Pickwick and Sam Weller following at his heels.
These staircases received light from sundry windows placed at some littl_istance above the floor, and looking into a gravelled area bounded by a hig_rick wall, with iron chevaux–de–frise at the top. This area, it appeared fro_r. Roker’s statement, was the racket–ground; and it further appeared, on th_estimony of the same gentleman, that there was a smaller area in that portio_f the prison which was nearest Farringdon Street, denominated and called ‘th_ainted Ground,’ from the fact of its walls having once displayed th_emblance of various men–of–war in full sail, and other artistical effect_chieved in bygone times by some imprisoned draughtsman in his leisure hours.
Having communicated this piece of information, apparently more for the purpos_f discharging his bosom of an important fact, than with any specific view o_nlightening Mr. Pickwick, the guide, having at length reached anothe_allery, led the way into a small passage at the extreme end, opened a door, and disclosed an apartment of an appearance by no means inviting, containin_ight or nine iron bedsteads.
‘There,’ said Mr. Roker, holding the door open, and looking triumphantly roun_t Mr. Pickwick, ‘there’s a room!’
Mr. Pickwick’s face, however, betokened such a very trifling portion o_atisfaction at the appearance of his lodging, that Mr. Roker looked, for _eciprocity of feeling, into the countenance of Samuel Weller, who, until now, had observed a dignified silence. ‘There’s a room, young man,’ observed Mr.
‘I see it,’ replied Sam, with a placid nod of the head.
‘You wouldn’t think to find such a room as this in the Farringdon Hotel, woul_ou?’ said Mr. Roker, with a complacent smile.
To this Mr. Weller replied with an easy and unstudied closing of one eye; which might be considered to mean, either that he would have thought it, o_hat he would not have thought it, or that he had never thought anything a_ll about it, as the observer’s imagination suggested. Having executed thi_eat, and reopened his eye, Mr. Weller proceeded to inquire which was th_ndividual bedstead that Mr. Roker had so flatteringly described as a_ut–and–outer to sleep in.
‘That’s it,’ replied Mr. Roker, pointing to a very rusty one in a corner. ‘I_ould make any one go to sleep, that bedstead would, whether they wanted to o_ot.’
‘I should think,’ said Sam, eyeing the piece of furniture in question with _ook of excessive disgust—‘I should think poppies was nothing to it.’
‘Nothing at all,’ said Mr. Roker.
‘And I s’pose,’ said Sam, with a sidelong glance at his master, as if to se_hether there were any symptoms of his determination being shaken by wha_assed, ‘I s’pose the other gen’l’men as sleeps here are gen’l’men.’
‘Nothing but it,’ said Mr. Roker. ‘One of ’em takes his twelve pints of ale _ay, and never leaves off smoking even at his meals.’
‘He must be a first–rater,’ said Sam.
‘A1,’ replied Mr. Roker.
Nothing daunted, even by this intelligence, Mr. Pickwick smilingly announce_is determination to test the powers of the narcotic bedstead for that night; and Mr. Roker, after informing him that he could retire to rest at whateve_our he thought proper, without any further notice or formality, walked off, leaving him standing with Sam in the gallery.
It was getting dark; that is to say, a few gas jets were kindled in this plac_hich was never light, by way of compliment to the evening, which had set i_utside. As it was rather warm, some of the tenants of the numerous littl_ooms which opened into the gallery on either hand, had set their doors ajar.
Mr. Pickwick peeped into them as he passed along, with great curiosity an_nterest. Here, four or five great hulking fellows, just visible through _loud of tobacco smoke, were engaged in noisy and riotous conversation ove_alf–emptied pots of beer, or playing at all–fours with a very greasy pack o_ards. In the adjoining room, some solitary tenant might be seen poring, b_he light of a feeble tallow candle, over a bundle of soiled and tattere_apers, yellow with dust and dropping to pieces from age, writing, for th_undredth time, some lengthened statement of his grievances, for the perusa_f some great man whose eyes it would never reach, or whose heart it woul_ever touch. In a third, a man, with his wife and a whole crowd of children, might be seen making up a scanty bed on the ground, or upon a few chairs, fo_he younger ones to pass the night in. And in a fourth, and a fifth, and _ixth, and a seventh, the noise, and the beer, and the tobacco smoke, and th_ards, all came over again in greater force than before.
In the galleries themselves, and more especially on the stair–cases, ther_ingered a great number of people, who came there, some because their room_ere empty and lonesome, others because their rooms were full and hot; th_reater part because they were restless and uncomfortable, and not possesse_f the secret of exactly knowing what to do with themselves. There were man_lasses of people here, from the labouring man in his fustian jacket, to th_roken–down spendthrift in his shawl dressing–gown, most appropriately out a_lbows; but there was the same air about them all—a kind of listless, jail–bird, careless swagger, a vagabondish who’s–afraid sort of bearing, whic_s wholly indescribable in words, but which any man can understand in on_oment if he wish, by setting foot in the nearest debtors’ prison, and lookin_t the very first group of people he sees there, with the same interest as Mr.
‘It strikes me, Sam,’ said Mr. Pickwick, leaning over the iron rail at th_tair–head–‘it strikes me, Sam, that imprisonment for debt is scarcely an_unishment at all.’
‘Think not, sir?’ inquired Mr. Weller.
‘You see how these fellows drink, and smoke, and roar,’ replied Mr. Pickwick.
‘It’s quite impossible that they can mind it much.’
‘Ah, that’s just the wery thing, Sir,’ rejoined Sam, ‘they don’t mind it; it’_ reg’lar holiday to them—all porter and skittles. It’s the t’other vuns a_ets done over vith this sort o’ thing; them down–hearted fellers as can’_vig avay at the beer, nor play at skittles neither; them as vould pay if the_ould, and gets low by being boxed up. I’ll tell you wot it is, sir; them a_s always a–idlin’ in public–houses it don’t damage at all, and them as i_lvays a–workin’ wen they can, it damages too much. “It’s unekal,” as m_ather used to say wen his grog worn’t made half–and–half: “it’s unekal, an_hat’s the fault on it.”’
‘I think you’re right, Sam,’ said Mr. Pickwick, after a few moments’ reflection, ‘quite right.’
‘P’raps, now and then, there’s some honest people as likes it,’ observed Mr.
Weller, in a ruminative tone, ‘but I never heerd o’ one as I can call to mind, ‘cept the little dirty–faced man in the brown coat; and that was force o_abit.’
‘And who was he?’ inquired Mr. Pickwick.
‘Wy, that’s just the wery point as nobody never know’d,’ replied Sam.
‘But what did he do?’
‘Wy, he did wot many men as has been much better know’d has done in thei_ime, Sir,’ replied Sam, ‘he run a match agin the constable, and vun it.’
‘In other words, I suppose,’ said Mr. Pickwick, ‘he got into debt.’
‘Just that, Sir,’ replied Sam, ‘and in course o’ time he come here i_onsekens. It warn’t much—execution for nine pound nothin’, multiplied by fiv_or costs; but hows’ever here he stopped for seventeen year. If he got an_rinkles in his face, they were stopped up vith the dirt, for both the dirt_ace and the brown coat wos just the same at the end o’ that time as they wo_t the beginnin’. He wos a wery peaceful, inoffendin’ little creetur, and wo_lvays a–bustlin’ about for somebody, or playin’ rackets and never vinnin’; till at last the turnkeys they got quite fond on him, and he wos in the lodg_v’ry night, a–chattering vith ’em, and tellin’ stories, and all that ‘ere.
Vun night he wos in there as usual, along vith a wery old friend of his, a_os on the lock, ven he says all of a sudden, “I ain’t seen the marke_utside, Bill,” he says (Fleet Market wos there at that time)—“I ain’t see_he market outside, Bill,” he says, “for seventeen year.” “I know you ain’t,” says the turnkey, smoking his pipe. “I should like to see it for a minit, Bill,” he says. “Wery probable,” says the turnkey, smoking his pipe wer_ierce, and making believe he warn’t up to wot the little man wanted. “Bill,” says the little man, more abrupt than afore, “I’ve got the fancy in my head.
Let me see the public streets once more afore I die; and if I ain’t struc_ith apoplexy, I’ll be back in five minits by the clock.” “And wot ’ud becom_’ me if you wos struck with apoplexy?” said the turnkey. “Wy,” says th_ittle creetur, “whoever found me, ’ud bring me home, for I’ve got my card i_y pocket, Bill,” he says, “No. 20, Coffee–room Flight”: and that wos true, sure enough, for wen he wanted to make the acquaintance of any new–comer, h_sed to pull out a little limp card vith them words on it and nothin’ else; i_onsideration of vich, he vos alvays called Number Tventy. The turnkey takes _ixed look at him, and at last he says in a solemn manner, “Tventy,” he says, “I’ll trust you; you Won’t get your old friend into trouble.” “No, my boy; _ope I’ve somethin’ better behind here,” says the little man; and as he sai_t he hit his little vesket wery hard, and then a tear started out o’ eac_ye, which wos wery extraordinary, for it wos supposed as water never touche_is face. He shook the turnkey by the hand; out he vent—’
‘And never came back again,’ said Mr. Pickwick.
‘Wrong for vunce, sir,’ replied Mr. Weller, ‘for back he come, two minit_fore the time, a–bilin’ with rage, sayin’ how he’d been nearly run over by _ackney–coach that he warn’t used to it; and he was blowed if he wouldn’_rite to the lord mayor. They got him pacified at last; and for five year_rter that, he never even so much as peeped out o’ the lodge gate.’
‘At the expiration of that time he died, I suppose,’ said Mr. Pickwick.
‘No, he didn’t, Sir,’ replied Sam. ‘He got a curiosity to go and taste th_eer at a new public–house over the way, and it wos such a wery nice parlour, that he took it into his head to go there every night, which he did for a lon_ime, always comin’ back reg’lar about a quarter of an hour afore the gat_hut, which was all wery snug and comfortable. At last he began to get s_recious jolly, that he used to forget how the time vent, or care nothin’ a_ll about it, and he went on gettin’ later and later, till vun night his ol_riend wos just a–shuttin’ the gate—had turned the key in fact—wen he come up.
“Hold hard, Bill,” he says. “Wot, ain’t you come home yet, Tventy?’ says th_urnkey, “I thought you wos in, long ago.” “No, I wasn’t,” says the littl_an, with a smile. “Well, then, I’ll tell you wot it is, my friend,” says th_urnkey, openin’ the gate wery slow and sulky, “it’s my ‘pinion as you’ve go_nto bad company o’ late, which I’m wery sorry to see. Now, I don’t wish to d_othing harsh,” he says, “but if you can’t confine yourself to steady circles, and find your vay back at reg’lar hours, as sure as you’re a–standin’ there, I’ll shut you out altogether!” The little man was seized vith a wiolent fit o’ tremblin’, and never vent outside the prison walls artervards!’
As Sam concluded, Mr. Pickwick slowly retraced his steps downstairs. After _ew thoughtful turns in the Painted Ground, which, as it was now dark, wa_early deserted, he intimated to Mr. Weller that he thought it high time fo_im to withdraw for the night; requesting him to seek a bed in some adjacen_ublic–house, and return early in the morning, to make arrangements for th_emoval of his master’s wardrobe from the George and Vulture. This request Mr.
Samuel Weller prepared to obey, with as good a grace as he could assume, bu_ith a very considerable show of reluctance nevertheless. He even went so fa_s to essay sundry ineffectual hints regarding the expediency of stretchin_imself on the gravel for that night; but finding Mr. Pickwick obstinatel_eaf to any such suggestions, finally withdrew.
There is no disguising the fact that Mr. Pickwick felt very low–spirited an_ncomfortable—not for lack of society, for the prison was very full, and _ottle of wine would at once have purchased the utmost good–fellowship of _ew choice spirits, without any more formal ceremony of introduction; but h_as alone in the coarse, vulgar crowd, and felt the depression of spirits an_inking of heart, naturally consequent on the reflection that he was coope_nd caged up, without a prospect of liberation. As to the idea of releasin_imself by ministering to the sharpness of Dodson & Fogg, it never for a_nstant entered his thoughts.
In this frame of mind he turned again into the coffee–room gallery, and walke_lowly to and fro. The place was intolerably dirty, and the smell of tobacc_moke perfectly suffocating. There was a perpetual slamming and banging o_oors as the people went in and out; and the noise of their voices an_ootsteps echoed and re–echoed through the passages constantly. A young woman, with a child in her arms, who seemed scarcely able to crawl, from emaciatio_nd misery, was walking up and down the passage in conversation with he_usband, who had no other place to see her in. As they passed Mr. Pickwick, h_ould hear the female sob bitterly; and once she burst into such a passion o_rief, that she was compelled to lean against the wall for support, while th_an took the child in his arms, and tried to soothe her.
Mr. Pickwick’s heart was really too full to bear it, and he went upstairs t_ed.
Now, although the warder’s room was a very uncomfortable one (being, in ever_oint of decoration and convenience, several hundred degrees inferior to th_ommon infirmary of a county jail), it had at present the merit of bein_holly deserted save by Mr. Pickwick himself. So, he sat down at the foot o_is little iron bedstead, and began to wonder how much a year the warder mad_ut of the dirty room. Having satisfied himself, by mathematical calculation, that the apartment was about equal in annual value to the freehold of a smal_treet in the suburbs of London, he took to wondering what possible temptatio_ould have induced a dingy–looking fly that was crawling over his pantaloons, to come into a close prison, when he had the choice of so many air_ituations—a course of meditation which led him to the irresistible conclusio_hat the insect was insane. After settling this point, he began to b_onscious that he was getting sleepy; whereupon he took his nightcap out o_he pocket in which he had had the precaution to stow it in the morning, and, leisurely undressing himself, got into bed and fell asleep.
‘Bravo! Heel over toe—cut and shuffle—pay away at it, Zephyr! I’m smothered i_he opera house isn’t your proper hemisphere. Keep it up! Hooray!’ Thes_xpressions, delivered in a most boisterous tone, and accompanied with lou_eals of laughter, roused Mr. Pickwick from one of those sound slumbers which, lasting in reality some half–hour, seem to the sleeper to have been protracte_or three weeks or a month.
The voice had no sooner ceased than the room was shaken with such violenc_hat the windows rattled in their frames, and the bedsteads trembled again.
Mr. Pickwick started up, and remained for some minutes fixed in mut_stonishment at the scene before him.
On the floor of the room, a man in a broad–skirted green coat, with corduro_nee–smalls and gray cotton stockings, was performing the most popular step_f a hornpipe, with a slang and burlesque caricature of grace and lightness, which, combined with the very appropriate character of his costume, wa_nexpressibly absurd. Another man, evidently very drunk, who had probably bee_umbled into bed by his companions, was sitting up between the sheets, warbling as much as he could recollect of a comic song, with the mos_ntensely sentimental feeling and expression; while a third, seated on one o_he bedsteads, was applauding both performers with the air of a profoun_onnoisseur, and encouraging them by such ebullitions of feeling as ha_lready roused Mr. Pickwick from his sleep.
This last man was an admirable specimen of a class of gentry which never ca_e seen in full perfection but in such places—they may be met with, in a_mperfect state, occasionally about stable–yards and Public–houses; but the_ever attain their full bloom except in these hot–beds, which would almos_eem to be considerately provided by the legislature for the sole purpose o_earing them.
He was a tall fellow, with an olive complexion, long dark hair, and very thic_ushy whiskers meeting under his chin. He wore no neckerchief, as he had bee_laying rackets all day, and his Open shirt collar displayed their ful_uxuriance. On his head he wore one of the common eighteenpenny Frenc_kull–caps, with a gaudy tassel dangling therefrom, very happily in keepin_ith a common fustian coat. His legs, which, being long, were afflicted wit_eakness, graced a pair of Oxford–mixture trousers, made to show the ful_ymmetry of those limbs. Being somewhat negligently braced, however, and, moreover, but imperfectly buttoned, they fell in a series of not the mos_raceful folds over a pair of shoes sufficiently down at heel to display _air of very soiled white stockings. There was a rakish, vagabond smartness, and a kind of boastful rascality, about the whole man, that was worth a min_f gold.
This figure was the first to perceive that Mr. Pickwick was looking on; upo_hich he winked to the Zephyr, and entreated him, with mock gravity, not t_ake the gentleman. ‘Why, bless the gentleman’s honest heart and soul!’ sai_he Zephyr, turning round and affecting the extremity of surprise; ‘th_entleman is awake. Hem, Shakespeare! How do you do, Sir? How is Mary an_arah, sir? and the dear old lady at home, Sir? Will you have the kindness t_ut my compliments into the first little parcel you’re sending that way, sir, and say that I would have sent ’em before, only I was afraid they might b_roken in the wagon, sir?’
‘Don’t overwhelm the gentlemen with ordinary civilities when you see he’_nxious to have something to drink,’ said the gentleman with the whiskers, with a jocose air. ‘Why don’t you ask the gentleman what he’ll take?’
‘Dear me, I quite forgot,’ replied the other. ‘What will you take, sir? Wil_ou take port wine, sir, or sherry wine, sir? I can recommend the ale, sir; o_erhaps you’d like to taste the porter, sir? Allow me to have the felicity o_anging up your nightcap, Sir.’
With this, the speaker snatched that article of dress from Mr. Pickwick’_ead, and fixed it in a twinkling on that of the drunken man, who, firml_mpressed with the belief that he was delighting a numerous assembly, continued to hammer away at the comic song in the most melancholy strain_maginable.
Taking a man’s nightcap from his brow by violent means, and adjusting it o_he head of an unknown gentleman, of dirty exterior, however ingenious _itticism in itself, is unquestionably one of those which come under th_enomination of practical jokes. Viewing the matter precisely in this light, Mr. Pickwick, without the slightest intimation of his purpose, spran_igorously out of bed, struck the Zephyr so smart a blow in the chest as t_eprive him of a considerable portion of the commodity which sometimes bear_is name, and then, recapturing his nightcap, boldly placed himself in a_ttitude of defence.
‘Now,’ said Mr. Pickwick, gasping no less from excitement than from th_xpenditure of so much energy, ‘come on—both of you—both of you!’ With thi_iberal invitation the worthy gentleman communicated a revolving motion to hi_lenched fists, by way of appalling his antagonists with a display of science.
It might have been Mr. Pickwick’s very unexpected gallantry, or it might hav_een the complicated manner in which he had got himself out of bed, and falle_ll in a mass upon the hornpipe man, that touched his adversaries. Touche_hey were; for, instead of then and there making an attempt to commi_an–slaughter, as Mr. Pickwick implicitly believed they would have done, the_aused, stared at each other a short time, and finally laughed outright.
‘Well, you’re a trump, and I like you all the better for it,’ said the Zephyr.
‘Now jump into bed again, or you’ll catch the rheumatics. No malice, I hope?’ said the man, extending a hand the size of the yellow clump of fingers whic_ometimes swings over a glover’s door.
‘Certainly not,’ said Mr. Pickwick, with great alacrity; for, now that th_xcitement was over, he began to feel rather cool about the legs.
‘Allow me the H–onour,’ said the gentleman with the whiskers, presenting hi_exter hand, and aspirating the h.
‘With much pleasure, sir,’ said Mr. Pickwick; and having executed a very lon_nd solemn shake, he got into bed again.
‘My name is Smangle, sir,’ said the man with the whiskers.
‘Oh,’ said Mr. Pickwick.
‘Mine is Mivins,’ said the man in the stockings.
‘I am delighted to hear it, sir,’ said Mr. Pickwick.
‘Hem,’ coughed Mr. Smangle.
‘Did you speak, sir?’ said Mr. Pickwick.
‘No, I did not, sir,’ said Mr. Smangle.
All this was very genteel and pleasant; and, to make matters still mor_omfortable, Mr. Smangle assured Mr. Pickwick a great many more times that h_ntertained a very high respect for the feelings of a gentleman; whic_entiment, indeed, did him infinite credit, as he could be in no wise suppose_o understand them.
‘Are you going through the court, sir?’ inquired Mr. Smangle. ‘Through th_hat?’ said Mr. Pickwick.
‘Through the court—Portugal Street—the Court for Relief of—You know.’
‘Oh, no,’ replied Mr. Pickwick. ‘No, I am not.’
‘Going out, perhaps?’ suggested Mr. Mivins.
‘I fear not,’ replied Mr. Pickwick. ‘I refuse to pay some damages, and am her_n consequence.’
‘Ah,’ said Mr. Smangle, ‘paper has been my ruin.’
‘A stationer, I presume, Sir?’ said Mr. Pickwick innocently.
‘Stationer! No, no; confound and curse me! Not so low as that. No trade. Whe_ say paper, I mean bills.’
‘Oh, you use the word in that sense. I see,’ said Mr. Pickwick. ‘Damme! _entleman must expect reverses,’ said Smangle. ‘What of that? Here am I in th_leet Prison. Well; good. What then? I’m none the worse for that, am I?’
‘Not a bit,’ replied Mr. Mivins. And he was quite right; for, so far from Mr.
Smangle being any the worse for it, he was something the better, inasmuch a_o qualify himself for the place, he had attained gratuitous possession o_ertain articles of jewellery, which, long before that, had found their way t_he pawnbroker’s.
‘Well; but come,’ said Mr. Smangle; ‘this is dry work. Let’s rinse our mouth_ith a drop of burnt sherry; the last–comer shall stand it, Mivins shall fetc_t, and I’ll help to drink it. That’s a fair and gentlemanlike division o_abour, anyhow. Curse me!’
Unwilling to hazard another quarrel, Mr. Pickwick gladly assented to th_roposition, and consigned the money to Mr. Mivins, who, as it was nearl_leven o’clock, lost no time in repairing to the coffee–room on his errand.
‘I say,’ whispered Smangle, the moment his friend had left the room; ‘what di_ou give him?’
‘Half a sovereign,’ said Mr. Pickwick.
‘He’s a devilish pleasant gentlemanly dog,’ said Mr. Smangle;—‘inferna_leasant. I don’t know anybody more so; but—’ Here Mr. Smangle stopped short, and shook his head dubiously.
‘You don’t think there is any probability of his appropriating the money t_is own use?’ said Mr. Pickwick.
‘Oh, no! Mind, I don’t say that; I expressly say that he’s a devilis_entlemanly fellow,’ said Mr. Smangle. ‘But I think, perhaps, if somebody wen_own, just to see that he didn’t dip his beak into the jug by accident, o_ake some confounded mistake in losing the money as he came upstairs, it woul_e as well. Here, you sir, just run downstairs, and look after that gentleman, will you?’
This request was addressed to a little timid–looking, nervous man, whos_ppearance bespoke great poverty, and who had been crouching on his bedstea_ll this while, apparently stupefied by the novelty of his situation.
‘You know where the coffee–room is,’ said Smangle; ‘just run down, and tel_hat gentleman you’ve come to help him up with the jug. Or—stop—I’ll tell yo_hat—I’ll tell you how we’ll do him,’ said Smangle, with a cunning look.
‘How?’ said Mr. Pickwick.
‘Send down word that he’s to spend the change in cigars. Capital thought. Ru_nd tell him that; d’ye hear? They shan’t be wasted,’ continued Smangle, turning to Mr. Pickwick. ‘I’ll smoke ’em.’
This manoeuvring was so exceedingly ingenious and, withal, performed with suc_mmovable composure and coolness, that Mr. Pickwick would have had no wish t_isturb it, even if he had had the power. In a short time Mr. Mivins returned, bearing the sherry, which Mr. Smangle dispensed in two little cracked mugs; considerately remarking, with reference to himself, that a gentleman must no_e particular under such circumstances, and that, for his part, he was not to_roud to drink out of the jug. In which, to show his sincerity, he forthwit_ledged the company in a draught which half emptied it.
An excellent understanding having been by these means promoted, Mr. Smangl_roceeded to entertain his hearers with a relation of divers romanti_dventures in which he had been from time to time engaged, involving variou_nteresting anecdotes of a thoroughbred horse, and a magnificent Jewess, bot_f surpassing beauty, and much coveted by the nobility and gentry of thes_ingdoms.
Long before these elegant extracts from the biography of a gentleman wer_oncluded, Mr. Mivins had betaken himself to bed, and had set in snoring fo_he night, leaving the timid stranger and Mr. Pickwick to the full benefit o_r. Smangle’s experiences.
Nor were the two last–named gentlemen as much edified as they might have bee_y the moving passages narrated. Mr. Pickwick had been in a state of slumbe_or some time, when he had a faint perception of the drunken man bursting ou_fresh with the comic song, and receiving from Mr. Smangle a gentl_ntimation, through the medium of the water–jug, that his audience was no_usically disposed. Mr. Pickwick then once again dropped off to sleep, with _onfused consciousness that Mr. Smangle was still engaged in relating a lon_tory, the chief point of which appeared to be that, on some occasio_articularly stated and set forth, he had ‘done’ a bill and a gentleman at th_ame time.