Chapter 46 Records a touching Act of delicate Feeling not unmixed wit_leasantry, achieved and performed by Messrs. Dodson and Fogg
It was within a week of the close of the month of July, that a hackne_abriolet, number unrecorded, was seen to proceed at a rapid pace up Goswel_treet; three people were squeezed into it besides the driver, who sat in hi_wn particular little dickey at the side; over the apron were hung two shawls, belonging to two small vixenish–looking ladies under the apron; between whom, compressed into a very small compass, was stowed away, a gentleman of heav_nd subdued demeanour, who, whenever he ventured to make an observation, wa_napped up short by one of the vixenish ladies before–mentioned. Lastly, th_wo vixenish ladies and the heavy gentleman were giving the drive_ontradictory directions, all tending to the one point, that he should stop a_rs. Bardell’s door; which the heavy gentleman, in direct opposition to, an_efiance of, the vixenish ladies, contended was a green door and not a yello_ne.
‘Stop at the house with a green door, driver,’ said the heavy gentleman.
‘Oh! You perwerse creetur!’ exclaimed one of the vixenish ladies. ‘Drive t_he ‘ouse with the yellow door, cabmin.’
Upon this the cabman, who in a sudden effort to pull up at the house with th_reen door, had pulled the horse up so high that he nearly pulled him backwar_nto the cabriolet, let the animal’s fore–legs down to the ground again, an_aused.
‘Now vere am I to pull up?’ inquired the driver. ‘Settle it among yourselves.
All I ask is, vere?’
Here the contest was renewed with increased violence; and the horse bein_roubled with a fly on his nose, the cabman humanely employed his leisure i_ashing him about on the head, on the counter–irritation principle.
‘Most wotes carries the day!’ said one of the vixenish ladies at length. ‘The ‘ouse with the yellow door, cabman.’
But after the cabriolet had dashed up, in splendid style, to the house wit_he yellow door, ‘making,’ as one of the vixenish ladies triumphantly said, ‘acterrally more noise than if one had come in one’s own carriage,’ and afte_he driver had dismounted to assist the ladies in getting out, the small roun_ead of Master Thomas Bardell was thrust out of the one–pair window of a hous_ith a red door, a few numbers off.
‘Aggrawatin’ thing!’ said the vixenish lady last–mentioned, darting _ithering glance at the heavy gentleman.
‘My dear, it’s not my fault,’ said the gentleman.
‘Don’t talk to me, you creetur, don’t,’ retorted the lady. ‘The house with th_ed door, cabmin. Oh! If ever a woman was troubled with a ruffinly creetur, that takes a pride and a pleasure in disgracing his wife on every possibl_ccasion afore strangers, I am that woman!’
‘You ought to be ashamed of yourself, Raddle,’ said the other little woman, who was no other than Mrs. Cluppins. ‘What have I been a–doing of?’ asked Mr.
‘Don’t talk to me, don’t, you brute, for fear I should be perwoked to forgi_y sect and strike you!’ said Mrs. Raddle.
While this dialogue was going on, the driver was most ignominiously leadin_he horse, by the bridle, up to the house with the red door, which Maste_ardell had already opened. Here was a mean and low way of arriving at _riend’s house! No dashing up, with all the fire and fury of the animal; n_umping down of the driver; no loud knocking at the door; no opening of th_pron with a crash at the very last moment, for fear of the ladies sitting i_ draught; and then the man handing the shawls out, afterwards, as if he wer_ private coachman! The whole edge of the thing had been taken off—it wa_latter than walking.
‘Well, Tommy,’ said Mrs. Cluppins, ‘how’s your poor dear mother?’
‘Oh, she’s very well,’ replied Master Bardell. ‘She’s in the front parlour, all ready. I’m ready too, I am.’ Here Master Bardell put his hands in hi_ockets, and jumped off and on the bottom step of the door.
‘Is anybody else a–goin’, Tommy?’ said Mrs. Cluppins, arranging her pelerine.
‘Mrs. Sanders is going, she is,’ replied Tommy; ‘I’m going too, I am.’
‘Drat the boy,’ said little Mrs. Cluppins. ‘He thinks of nobody but himself.
Here, Tommy, dear.’
‘Well,’ said Master Bardell.
‘Who else is a–goin’, lovey?’ said Mrs. Cluppins, in an insinuating manner.
‘Oh! Mrs. Rogers is a–goin’,’ replied Master Bardell, opening his eyes ver_ide as he delivered the intelligence.
‘What? The lady as has taken the lodgings!’ ejaculated Mrs. Cluppins.
Master Bardell put his hands deeper down into his pockets, and nodded exactl_hirty–five times, to imply that it was the lady–lodger, and no other.
‘Bless us!’ said Mrs. Cluppins. ‘It’s quite a party!’
‘Ah, if you knew what was in the cupboard, you’d say so,’ replied Maste_ardell.
‘What is there, Tommy?’ said Mrs. Cluppins coaxingly. ‘You’ll tell me, Tommy, I know.’ ‘No, I won’t,’ replied Master Bardell, shaking his head, and applyin_imself to the bottom step again.
‘Drat the child!’ muttered Mrs. Cluppins. ‘What a prowokin’ little wretch i_s! Come, Tommy, tell your dear Cluppy.’
‘Mother said I wasn’t to,’ rejoined Master Bardell, ‘I’m a–goin’ to have some, I am.’ Cheered by this prospect, the precocious boy applied himself to hi_nfantile treadmill, with increased vigour.
The above examination of a child of tender years took place while Mr. and Mrs.
Raddle and the cab–driver were having an altercation concerning the fare, which, terminating at this point in favour of the cabman, Mrs. Raddle came u_ottering.
‘Lauk, Mary Ann! what’s the matter?’ said Mrs. Cluppins.
‘It’s put me all over in such a tremble, Betsy,’ replied Mrs. Raddle. ‘Raddl_in’t like a man; he leaves everythink to me.’
This was scarcely fair upon the unfortunate Mr. Raddle, who had been thrus_side by his good lady in the commencement of the dispute, and peremptoril_ommanded to hold his tongue. He had no opportunity of defending himself, however, for Mrs. Raddle gave unequivocal signs of fainting; which, bein_erceived from the parlour window, Mrs. Bardell, Mrs. Sanders, the lodger, an_he lodger’s servant, darted precipitately out, and conveyed her into th_ouse, all talking at the same time, and giving utterance to variou_xpressions of pity and condolence, as if she were one of the most sufferin_ortals on earth. Being conveyed into the front parlour, she was ther_eposited on a sofa; and the lady from the first floor running up to the firs_loor, returned with a bottle of sal–volatile, which, holding Mrs. Raddl_ight round the neck, she applied in all womanly kindness and pity to he_ose, until that lady with many plunges and struggles was fain to declar_erself decidedly better.
‘Ah, poor thing!’ said Mrs. Rogers, ‘I know what her feelin’s is, too well.’ ‘Ah, poor thing! so do I,’ said Mrs. Sanders; and then all the ladies moane_n unison, and said they knew what it was, and they pitied her from thei_earts, they did. Even the lodger’s little servant, who was thirteen years ol_nd three feet high, murmured her sympathy.
‘But what’s been the matter?’ said Mrs. Bardell.
‘Ah, what has decomposed you, ma’am?’ inquired Mrs. Rogers.
‘I have been a good deal flurried,’ replied Mrs. Raddle, in a reproachfu_anner. Thereupon the ladies cast indignant glances at Mr. Raddle.
‘Why, the fact is,’ said that unhappy gentleman, stepping forward, ‘when w_lighted at this door, a dispute arose with the driver of the cabrioily—’ _oud scream from his wife, at the mention of this word, rendered all furthe_xplanation inaudible.
‘You’d better leave us to bring her round, Raddle,’ said Mrs. Cluppins.
‘She’ll never get better as long as you’re here.’
All the ladies concurred in this opinion; so Mr. Raddle was pushed out of th_oom, and requested to give himself an airing in the back yard. Which he di_or about a quarter of an hour, when Mrs. Bardell announced to him with _olemn face that he might come in now, but that he must be very careful how h_ehaved towards his wife. She knew he didn’t mean to be unkind; but Mary An_as very far from strong, and, if he didn’t take care, he might lose her whe_e least expected it, which would be a very dreadful reflection for hi_fterwards; and so on. All this, Mr. Raddle heard with great submission, an_resently returned to the parlour in a most lamb–like manner.
‘Why, Mrs. Rogers, ma’am,’ said Mrs. Bardell, ‘you’ve never been introduced, _eclare! Mr. Raddle, ma’am; Mrs. Cluppins, ma’am; Mrs. Raddle, ma’am.’
‘Which is Mrs. Cluppins’s sister,’ suggested Mrs. Sanders.
‘Oh, indeed!’ said Mrs. Rogers graciously; for she was the lodger, and he_ervant was in waiting, so she was more gracious than intimate, in right o_er position. ‘Oh, indeed!’
Mrs. Raddle smiled sweetly, Mr. Raddle bowed, and Mrs. Cluppins said, ‘she wa_ure she was very happy to have an opportunity of being known to a lady whic_he had heerd so much in favour of, as Mrs. Rogers.’ A compliment which th_ast–named lady acknowledged with graceful condescension.
‘Well, Mr. Raddle,’ said Mrs. Bardell; ‘I’m sure you ought to feel very muc_onoured at you and Tommy being the only gentlemen to escort so many ladie_ll the way to the Spaniards, at Hampstead. Don’t you think he ought, Mrs.
Rogers, ma’am?’ ‘Oh, certainly, ma’am,’ replied Mrs. Rogers; after whom al_he other ladies responded, ‘Oh, certainly.’
‘Of course I feel it, ma’am,’ said Mr. Raddle, rubbing his hands, and evincin_ slight tendency to brighten up a little. ‘Indeed, to tell you the truth, _aid, as we was a–coming along in the cabrioily—’
At the recapitulation of the word which awakened so many painfu_ecollections, Mrs. Raddle applied her handkerchief to her eyes again, an_ttered a half–suppressed scream; so that Mrs. Bardell frowned upon Mr.
Raddle, to intimate that he had better not say anything more, and desired Mrs.
Rogers’s servant, with an air, to ‘put the wine on.’
This was the signal for displaying the hidden treasures of the closet, whic_omprised sundry plates of oranges and biscuits, and a bottle of old cruste_ort—that at one–and–nine—with another of the celebrated East India sherry a_ourteen–pence, which were all produced in honour of the lodger, and afforde_nlimited satisfaction to everybody. After great consternation had bee_xcited in the mind of Mrs. Cluppins, by an attempt on the part of Tommy t_ecount how he had been cross–examined regarding the cupboard then in action (which was fortunately nipped in the bud by his imbibing half a glass of th_ld crusted ‘the wrong way,’ and thereby endangering his life for som_econds), the party walked forth in quest of a Hampstead stage. This was soo_ound, and in a couple of hours they all arrived safely in the Spaniard_ea–gardens, where the luckless Mr. Raddle’s very first act nearly occasione_is good lady a relapse; it being neither more nor less than to order tea fo_even, whereas (as the ladies one and all remarked), what could have bee_asier than for Tommy to have drank out of anybody’s cup—or everybody’s, i_hat was all—when the waiter wasn’t looking, which would have saved one hea_f tea, and the tea just as good!
However, there was no help for it, and the tea–tray came, with seven cups an_aucers, and bread–and–butter on the same scale. Mrs. Bardell was unanimousl_oted into the chair, and Mrs. Rogers being stationed on her right hand, an_rs. Raddle on her left, the meal proceeded with great merriment and success.
‘How sweet the country is, to be sure!’ sighed Mrs. Rogers; ‘I almost wish _ived in it always.’
‘Oh, you wouldn’t like that, ma’am,’ replied Mrs. Bardell, rather hastily; fo_t was not at all advisable, with reference to the lodgings, to encourage suc_otions; ‘you wouldn’t like it, ma’am.’
‘Oh! I should think you was a deal too lively and sought after, to be conten_ith the country, ma’am,’ said little Mrs. Cluppins.
‘Perhaps I am, ma’am. Perhaps I am,’ sighed the first–floor lodger.
‘For lone people as have got nobody to care for them, or take care of them, o_s have been hurt in their mind, or that kind of thing,’ observed Mr. Raddle, plucking up a little cheerfulness, and looking round, ‘the country is all ver_ell. The country for a wounded spirit, they say.’
Now, of all things in the world that the unfortunate man could have said, an_ould have been preferable to this. Of course Mrs. Bardell burst into tears, and requested to be led from the table instantly; upon which the affectionat_hild began to cry too, most dismally.
‘Would anybody believe, ma’am,’ exclaimed Mrs. Raddle, turning fiercely to th_irst–floor lodger, ‘that a woman could be married to such a unmanly creetur, which can tamper with a woman’s feelings as he does, every hour in the day, ma’am?’
‘My dear,’ remonstrated Mr. Raddle, ‘I didn’t mean anything, my dear.’
‘You didn’t mean!’ repeated Mrs. Raddle, with great scorn and contempt. ‘G_way. I can’t bear the sight on you, you brute.’
‘You must not flurry yourself, Mary Ann,’ interposed Mrs. Cluppins. ‘Yo_eally must consider yourself, my dear, which you never do. Now go away, Raddle, there’s a good soul, or you’ll only aggravate her.’
‘You had better take your tea by yourself, Sir, indeed,’ said Mrs. Rogers, again applying the smelling–bottle.
Mrs. Sanders, who, according to custom, was very busy with th_read–and–butter, expressed the same opinion, and Mr. Raddle quietly retired.
After this, there was a great hoisting up of Master Bardell, who was rather _arge size for hugging, into his mother’s arms, in which operation he got hi_oots in the tea–board, and occasioned some confusion among the cups an_aucers. But that description of fainting fits, which is contagious amon_adies, seldom lasts long; so when he had been well kissed, and a little crie_ver, Mrs. Bardell recovered, set him down again, wondering how she could hav_een so foolish, and poured out some more tea.
It was at this moment, that the sound of approaching wheels was heard, an_hat the ladies, looking up, saw a hackney–coach stop at the garden gate.
‘More company!’ said Mrs. Sanders.
‘It’s a gentleman,’ said Mrs. Raddle.
‘Well, if it ain’t Mr. Jackson, the young man from Dodson and Fogg’s!’ crie_rs. Bardell. ‘Why, gracious! Surely Mr. Pickwick can’t have paid th_amages.’
‘Or hoffered marriage!’ said Mrs. Cluppins.
‘Dear me, how slow the gentleman is,‘exclaimed Mrs. Rogers. ‘Why doesn’t h_ake haste!’
As the lady spoke these words, Mr. Jackson turned from the coach where he ha_een addressing some observations to a shabby man in black leggings, who ha_ust emerged from the vehicle with a thick ash stick in his hand, and made hi_ay to the place where the ladies were seated; winding his hair round the bri_f his hat, as he came along. ‘Is anything the matter? Has anything take_lace, Mr. Jackson?’ said Mrs. Bardell eagerly.
‘Nothing whatever, ma’am,’ replied Mr. Jackson. ‘How de do, ladies? I have t_sk pardon, ladies, for intruding—but the law, ladies—the law.’ With thi_pology Mr. Jackson smiled, made a comprehensive bow, and gave his hai_nother wind. Mrs. Rogers whispered Mrs. Raddle that he was really an elegan_oung man.
‘I called in Goswell Street,’ resumed Mr. Jackson, ‘and hearing that you wer_ere, from the slavey, took a coach and came on. Our people want you down i_he city directly, Mrs. Bardell.’
‘Lor!’ ejaculated that lady, starting at the sudden nature of th_ommunication.
‘Yes,’ said Mr. Jackson, biting his lip. ‘It’s very important and pressin_usiness, which can’t be postponed on any account. Indeed, Dodson expressl_aid so to me, and so did Fogg. I’ve kept the coach on purpose for you to g_ack in.’
‘How very strange!’ exclaimed Mrs. Bardell.
The ladies agreed that it was very strange, but were unanimously of opinio_hat it must be very important, or Dodson & Fogg would never have sent; an_urther, that the business being urgent, she ought to repair to Dodson & Fogg’s without any delay.
There was a certain degree of pride and importance about being wanted by one’_awyers in such a monstrous hurry, that was by no means displeasing to Mrs.
Bardell, especially as it might be reasonably supposed to enhance he_onsequence in the eyes of the first–floor lodger. She simpered a little, affected extreme vexation and hesitation, and at last arrived at th_onclusion that she supposed she must go.
‘But won’t you refresh yourself after your walk, Mr. Jackson?’ said Mrs.
‘Why, really there ain’t much time to lose,’ replied Jackson; ‘and I’ve got _riend here,’ he continued, looking towards the man with the ash stick.
‘Oh, ask your friend to come here, Sir,’ said Mrs. Bardell. ‘Pray ask you_riend here, Sir.’
‘Why, thank’ee, I’d rather not,’ said Mr. Jackson, with some embarrassment o_anner. ‘He’s not much used to ladies’ society, and it makes him bashful. I_ou’ll order the waiter to deliver him anything short, he won’t drink it of_t once, won’t he!—only try him!’ Mr. Jackson’s fingers wandered playfull_ound his nose at this portion of his discourse, to warn his hearers that h_as speaking ironically.
The waiter was at once despatched to the bashful gentleman, and the bashfu_entleman took something; Mr. Jackson also took something, and the ladies too_omething, for hospitality’s sake. Mr. Jackson then said he was afraid it wa_ime to go; upon which, Mrs. Sanders, Mrs. Cluppins, and Tommy (who it wa_rranged should accompany Mrs. Bardell, leaving the others to Mr. Raddle’_rotection), got into the coach.
‘Isaac,’ said Jackson, as Mrs. Bardell prepared to get in, looking up at th_an with the ash stick, who was seated on the box, smoking a cigar.
‘This is Mrs. Bardell.’
‘Oh, I know’d that long ago,’ said the man.
Mrs. Bardell got in, Mr. Jackson got in after her, and away they drove. Mrs.
Bardell could not help ruminating on what Mr. Jackson’s friend had said.
Shrewd creatures, those lawyers. Lord bless us, how they find people out!
‘Sad thing about these costs of our people’s, ain’t it,’ said Jackson, whe_rs. Cluppins and Mrs. Sanders had fallen asleep; ‘your bill of costs, _ean.’
‘I’m very sorry they can’t get them,’ replied Mrs. Bardell. ‘But if you la_entlemen do these things on speculation, why you must get a loss now an_hen, you know.’
‘You gave them a cognovit for the amount of your costs, after the trial, I’_old!’ said Jackson.
‘Yes. Just as a matter of form,’ replied Mrs. Bardell.
‘Certainly,’ replied Jackson drily. ‘Quite a matter of form. Quite.’
On they drove, and Mrs. Bardell fell asleep. She was awakened, after som_ime, by the stopping of the coach.
‘Bless us!’ said the lady .‘Are we at Freeman’s Court?’
‘We’re not going quite so far,’ replied Jackson. ‘Have the goodness to ste_ut.’
Mrs. Bardell, not yet thoroughly awake, complied. It was a curious place: _arge wall, with a gate in the middle, and a gas–light burning inside.
‘Now, ladies,’ cried the man with the ash stick, looking into the coach, an_haking Mrs. Sanders to wake her, ‘Come!’ Rousing her friend, Mrs. Sander_lighted. Mrs. Bardell, leaning on Jackson’s arm, and leading Tommy by th_and, had already entered the porch. They followed.
The room they turned into was even more odd–looking than the porch. Such _umber of men standing about! And they stared so!
‘What place is this?’ inquired Mrs. Bardell, pausing.
‘Only one of our public offices,’ replied Jackson, hurrying her through _oor, and looking round to see that the other women were following. ‘Loo_harp, Isaac!’
‘Safe and sound,’ replied the man with the ash stick. The door swung heavil_fter them, and they descended a small flight of steps.
‘Here we are at last. All right and tight, Mrs. Bardell!’ said Jackson, looking exultingly round.
‘What do you mean?’ said Mrs. Bardell, with a palpitating heart.
‘Just this,’ replied Jackson, drawing her a little on one side; ‘don’t b_rightened, Mrs. Bardell. There never was a more delicate man than Dodson, ma’am, or a more humane man than Fogg. It was their duty in the way o_usiness, to take you in execution for them costs; but they were anxious t_pare your feelings as much as they could. What a comfort it must be, to you, to think how it’s been done! This is the Fleet, ma’am. Wish you good–night, Mrs. Bardell. Good–night, Tommy!’
As Jackson hurried away in company with the man with the ash stick anothe_an, with a key in his hand, who had been looking on, led the bewildere_emale to a second short flight of steps leading to a doorway. Mrs. Bardel_creamed violently; Tommy roared; Mrs. Cluppins shrunk within herself; an_rs. Sanders made off, without more ado. For there stood the injured Mr.
Pickwick, taking his nightly allowance of air; and beside him leant Samue_eller, who, seeing Mrs. Bardell, took his hat off with mock reverence, whil_is master turned indignantly on his heel.
‘Don’t bother the woman,’ said the turnkey to Weller; ‘she’s just come in.’
‘A prisoner!’ said Sam, quickly replacing his hat. ‘Who’s the plaintives? Wha_or? Speak up, old feller.’
‘Dodson and Fogg,’ replied the man; ‘execution on cognovit for costs.’
‘Here, Job, Job!’ shouted Sam, dashing into the passage. ‘Run to Mr. Perker’s, Job. I want him directly. I see some good in this. Here’s a game. Hooray!
vere’s the gov’nor?’
But there was no reply to these inquiries, for Job had started furiously off, the instant he received his commission, and Mrs. Bardell had fainted in rea_ownright earnest.