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Charles Dickens > The Pickwick Papers > Chapter 43

The Pickwick Papers

Chapter 43


In a lofty room, ill-lighted and worse ventilated, situated in
Portugal Street, Lincoln's Inn Fields, there sit nearly the
whole year round, one, two, three, or four gentlemen in wigs,
as the case may be, with little writing-desks before them,
constructed after the fashion of those used by the judges of the land,
barring the French polish. There is a box of barristers on their
right hand; there is an enclosure of insolvent debtors on their left;
and there is an inclined plane of most especially dirty faces in
their front. These gentlemen are the Commissioners of the
Insolvent Court, and the place in which they sit, is the Insolvent
Court itself.

It is, and has been, time out of mind, the remarkable fate of
this court to be, somehow or other, held and understood, by the
general consent of all the destitute shabby-genteel people in
London, as their common resort, and place of daily refuge. It is
always full. The steams of beer and spirits perpetually ascend to
the ceiling, and, being condensed by the heat, roll down the walls
like rain; there are more old suits of clothes in it at one time,
than will be offered for sale in all Houndsditch in a twelvemonth;
more unwashed skins and grizzly beards than all the pumps and
shaving-shops between Tyburn and Whitechapel could render
decent, between sunrise and sunset.

It must not be supposed that any of these people have the least
shadow of business in, or the remotest connection with, the place
they so indefatigably attend. If they had, it would be no matter of
surprise, and the singularity of the thing would cease. Some of
them sleep during the greater part of the sitting; others carry
small portable dinners wrapped in pocket-handkerchiefs or
sticking out of their worn-out pockets, and munch and listen
with equal relish; but no one among them was ever known to have
the slightest personal interest in any case that was ever brought
forward. Whatever they do, there they sit from the first moment
to the last. When it is heavy, rainy weather, they all come in, wet
through; and at such times the vapours of the court are like those
of a fungus-pit.

A casual visitor might suppose this place to be a temple
dedicated to the Genius of Seediness. There is not a messenger or
process-server attached to it, who wears a coat that was made for
him; not a tolerably fresh, or wholesome-looking man in the
whole establishment, except a little white-headed apple-faced
tipstaff, and even he, like an ill-conditioned cherry preserved in
brandy, seems to have artificially dried and withered up into a
state of preservation to which he can lay no natural claim. The
very barristers' wigs are ill-powdered, and their curls lack crispness.

But the attorneys, who sit at a large bare table below the
commissioners, are, after all, the greatest curiosities. The professional
establishment of the more opulent of these gentlemen, consists of
a blue bag and a boy; generally a youth of the Jewish persuasion.
They have no fixed offices, their legal business being transacted
in the parlours of public-houses, or the yards of prisons, whither
they repair in crowds, and canvass for customers after the manner
of omnibus cads. They are of a greasy and mildewed appearance;
and if they can be said to have any vices at all, perhaps drinking
and cheating are the most conspicuous among them. Their
residences are usually on the outskirts of 'the Rules,' chiefly
lying within a circle of one mile from the obelisk in St. George's
Fields. Their looks are not prepossessing, and their manners
are peculiar.

Mr. Solomon Pell, one of this learned body, was a fat, flabby,
pale man, in a surtout which looked green one minute, and
brown the next, with a velvet collar of the same chameleon tints.
His forehead was narrow, his face wide, his head large, and his
nose all on one side, as if Nature, indignant with the propensities
she observed in him in his birth, had given it an angry tweak
which it had never recovered. Being short-necked and asthmatic,
however, he respired principally through this feature; so, perhaps,
what it wanted in ornament, it made up in usefulness.

'I'm sure to bring him through it,' said Mr. Pell.

'Are you, though?' replied the person to whom the assurance
was pledged.

'Certain sure,' replied Pell; 'but if he'd gone to any irregular
practitioner, mind you, I wouldn't have answered for the consequences.'

'Ah!' said the other, with open mouth.

'No, that I wouldn't,' said Mr. Pell; and he pursed up his lips,
frowned, and shook his head mysteriously.

Now, the place where this discourse occurred was the public-
house just opposite to the Insolvent Court; and the person with
whom it was held was no other than the elder Mr. Weller, who
had come there, to comfort and console a friend, whose petition
to be discharged under the act, was to be that day heard, and whose
attorney he was at that moment consulting.

'And vere is George?' inquired the old gentleman.

Mr. Pell jerked his head in the direction of a back parlour,
whither Mr. Weller at once repairing, was immediately greeted
in the warmest and most flattering manner by some half-dozen
of his professional brethren, in token of their gratification at his
arrival. The insolvent gentleman, who had contracted a speculative
but imprudent passion for horsing long stages, which had
led to his present embarrassments, looked extremely well, and
was soothing the excitement of his feelings with shrimps and porter.

The salutation between Mr. Weller and his friends was strictly
confined to the freemasonry of the craft; consisting of a jerking
round of the right wrist, and a tossing of the little finger into the
air at the same time. We once knew two famous coachmen (they
are dead now, poor fellows) who were twins, and between whom
an unaffected and devoted attachment existed. They passed
each other on the Dover road, every day, for twenty-four years,
never exchanging any other greeting than this; and yet, when
one died, the other pined away, and soon afterwards followed him!

'Vell, George,' said Mr. Weller senior, taking off his upper
coat, and seating himself with his accustomed gravity. 'How is it?
All right behind, and full inside?'

'All right, old feller,' replied the embarrassed gentleman.

'Is the gray mare made over to anybody?' inquired Mr. Weller
anxiously. George nodded in the affirmative.

'Vell, that's all right,' said Mr. Weller. 'Coach taken care on, also?'

'Con-signed in a safe quarter,' replied George, wringing the
heads off half a dozen shrimps, and swallowing them without any
more ado.

'Wery good, wery good,' said Mr. Weller. 'Alvays see to the
drag ven you go downhill. Is the vay-bill all clear and straight

'The schedule, sir,' said Pell, guessing at Mr. Weller's meaning,
'the schedule is as plain and satisfactory as pen and ink can
make it.'

Mr. Weller nodded in a manner which bespoke his inward
approval of these arrangements; and then, turning to Mr. Pell,
said, pointing to his friend George--

'Ven do you take his cloths off?'

'Why,' replied Mr. Pell, 'he stands third on the opposed list,
and I should think it would be his turn in about half an hour. I
told my clerk to come over and tell us when there was a chance.'

Mr. Weller surveyed the attorney from head to foot with great
admiration, and said emphatically--

'And what'll you take, sir?'

'Why, really,' replied Mr. Pell, 'you're very-- Upon my
word and honour, I'm not in the habit of-- It's so very early
in the morning, that, actually, I am almost-- Well, you may
bring me threepenn'orth of rum, my dear.'

The officiating damsel, who had anticipated the order before it
was given, set the glass of spirits before Pell, and retired.

'Gentlemen,' said Mr. Pell, looking round upon the company,
'success to your friend! I don't like to boast, gentlemen; it's not
my way; but I can't help saying, that, if your friend hadn't been
fortunate enough to fall into hands that-- But I won't say
what I was going to say. Gentlemen, my service to you.' Having
emptied the glass in a twinkling, Mr. Pell smacked his lips, and
looked complacently round on the assembled coachmen, who
evidently regarded him as a species of divinity.

'Let me see,' said the legal authority. 'What was I a-saying,

'I think you was remarkin' as you wouldn't have no objection
to another o' the same, Sir,' said Mr. Weller, with grave facetiousness.
'Ha, ha!' laughed Mr. Pell. 'Not bad, not bad. A professional
man, too! At this time of the morning, it would be rather too
good a-- Well, I don't know, my dear--you may do that
again, if you please. Hem!'

This last sound was a solemn and dignified cough, in which
Mr. Pell, observing an indecent tendency to mirth in some of his
auditors, considered it due to himself to indulge.

'The late Lord Chancellor, gentlemen, was very fond of me,'
said Mr. Pell.

'And wery creditable in him, too,' interposed Mr. Weller.

'Hear, hear,' assented Mr. Pell's client. 'Why shouldn't he be?

'Ah! Why, indeed!' said a very red-faced man, who had said
nothing yet, and who looked extremely unlikely to say anything
more. 'Why shouldn't he?'

A murmur of assent ran through the company.

'I remember, gentlemen,' said Mr. Pell, 'dining with him on one
occasion; there was only us two, but everything as splendid as if
twenty people had been expected--the great seal on a dumb-
waiter at his right hand, and a man in a bag-wig and suit of
armour guarding the mace with a drawn sword and silk stockings
--which is perpetually done, gentlemen, night and day; when he
said, "Pell," he said, "no false delicacy, Pell. You're a man of
talent; you can get anybody through the Insolvent Court, Pell;
and your country should be proud of you." Those were his very
words. "My Lord," I said, "you flatter me."--"Pell," he said,
"if I do, I'm damned."'

'Did he say that?' inquired Mr. Weller.

'He did,' replied Pell.

'Vell, then,' said Mr. Weller, 'I say Parliament ought to ha'
took it up; and if he'd been a poor man, they would ha' done it.'

'But, my dear friend,' argued Mr. Pell, 'it was in confidence.'

'In what?' said Mr. Weller.

'In confidence.'

'Oh! wery good,' replied Mr. Weller, after a little reflection.
'If he damned hisself in confidence, o' course that was another thing.'

'Of course it was,' said Mr. Pell. 'The distinction's obvious, you
will perceive.'

'Alters the case entirely,' said Mr. Weller. 'Go on, Sir.'
'No, I will not go on, Sir,' said Mr. Pell, in a low and serious
tone. 'You have reminded me, Sir, that this conversation was
private--private and confidential, gentlemen. Gentlemen, I am a
professional man. It may be that I am a good deal looked up to,
in my profession--it may be that I am not. Most people know. I
say nothing. Observations have already been made, in this room,
injurious to the reputation of my noble friend. You will excuse
me, gentlemen; I was imprudent. I feel that I have no right to
mention this matter without his concurrence. Thank you, Sir;
thank you.' Thus delivering himself, Mr. Pell thrust his hands
into his pockets, and, frowning grimly around, rattled three halfpence
with terrible determination.

This virtuous resolution had scarcely been formed, when the
boy and the blue bag, who were inseparable companions, rushed
violently into the room, and said (at least the boy did, for the
blue bag took no part in the announcement) that the case was
coming on directly. The intelligence was no sooner received than
the whole party hurried across the street, and began to fight their
way into court--a preparatory ceremony, which has been
calculated to occupy, in ordinary cases, from twenty-five minutes
to thirty.

Mr. Weller, being stout, cast himself at once into the crowd,
with the desperate hope of ultimately turning up in some place
which would suit him. His success was not quite equal to his
expectations; for having neglected to take his hat off, it was
knocked over his eyes by some unseen person, upon whose toes
he had alighted with considerable force. Apparently this
individual regretted his impetuosity immediately afterwards, for,
muttering an indistinct exclamation of surprise, he dragged the
old man out into the hall, and, after a violent struggle, released
his head and face.

'Samivel!' exclaimed Mr. Weller, when he was thus enabled to
behold his rescuer.

Sam nodded.

'You're a dutiful and affectionate little boy, you are, ain't
you,' said Mr. Weller, 'to come a-bonnetin' your father in his
old age?'

'How should I know who you wos?' responded the son. 'Do
you s'pose I wos to tell you by the weight o' your foot?'

'Vell, that's wery true, Sammy,' replied Mr. Weller, mollified
at once; 'but wot are you a-doin' on here? Your gov'nor can't
do no good here, Sammy. They won't pass that werdick, they
won't pass it, Sammy.' And Mr. Weller shook his head with
legal solemnity.

'Wot a perwerse old file it is!' exclaimed Sam. 'always a-goin'
on about werdicks and alleybis and that. Who said anything
about the werdick?'

Mr. Weller made no reply, but once more shook his head most learnedly.

'Leave off rattlin' that 'ere nob o' yourn, if you don't want it
to come off the springs altogether,' said Sam impatiently, 'and
behave reasonable. I vent all the vay down to the Markis o'
Granby, arter you, last night.'

'Did you see the Marchioness o' Granby, Sammy?' inquired
Mr. Weller, with a sigh.

'Yes, I did,' replied Sam.

'How wos the dear creetur a-lookin'?'

'Wery queer,' said Sam. 'I think she's a-injurin' herself
gradivally vith too much o' that 'ere pine-apple rum, and other
strong medicines of the same natur.'

'You don't mean that, Sammy?' said the senior earnestly.

'I do, indeed,' replied the junior. Mr. Weller seized his son's
hand, clasped it, and let it fall. There was an expression on his
countenance in doing so--not of dismay or apprehension, but
partaking more of the sweet and gentle character of hope. A
gleam of resignation, and even of cheerfulness, passed over his
face too, as he slowly said, 'I ain't quite certain, Sammy; I
wouldn't like to say I wos altogether positive, in case of any
subsekent disappointment, but I rayther think, my boy, I rayther
think, that the shepherd's got the liver complaint!'

'Does he look bad?' inquired Sam.

'He's uncommon pale,' replied his father, ''cept about the
nose, which is redder than ever. His appetite is wery so-so, but he
imbibes wonderful.'

Some thoughts of the rum appeared to obtrude themselves on
Mr. Weller's mind, as he said this; for he looked gloomy and
thoughtful; but he very shortly recovered, as was testified by a
perfect alphabet of winks, in which he was only wont to indulge
when particularly pleased.

'Vell, now,' said Sam, 'about my affair. Just open them ears o'
yourn, and don't say nothin' till I've done.' With this preface,
Sam related, as succinctly as he could, the last memorable
conversation he had had with Mr. Pickwick.

'Stop there by himself, poor creetur!' exclaimed the elder
Mr. Weller, 'without nobody to take his part! It can't be done,
Samivel, it can't be done.'

'O' course it can't,' asserted Sam: 'I know'd that, afore I came.'
'Why, they'll eat him up alive, Sammy,'exclaimed Mr. Weller.

Sam nodded his concurrence in the opinion.

'He goes in rayther raw, Sammy,' said Mr. Weller metaphorically,
'and he'll come out, done so ex-ceedin' brown, that his most
formiliar friends won't know him. Roast pigeon's nothin' to it, Sammy.'

Again Sam Weller nodded.

'It oughtn't to be, Samivel,' said Mr. Weller gravely.

'It mustn't be,' said Sam.

'Cert'nly not,' said Mr. Weller.

'Vell now,' said Sam, 'you've been a-prophecyin' away, wery
fine, like a red-faced Nixon, as the sixpenny books gives picters on.'

'Who wos he, Sammy?' inquired Mr. Weller.

'Never mind who he was,' retorted Sam; 'he warn't a coachman;
that's enough for you.'
'I know'd a ostler o' that name,' said Mr. Weller, musing.

'It warn't him,' said Sam. 'This here gen'l'm'n was a prophet.'

'Wot's a prophet?' inquired Mr. Weller, looking sternly on his son.

'Wy, a man as tells what's a-goin' to happen,' replied Sam.

'I wish I'd know'd him, Sammy,' said Mr. Weller. 'P'raps he
might ha' throw'd a small light on that 'ere liver complaint as we
wos a-speakin' on, just now. Hows'ever, if he's dead, and ain't
left the bisness to nobody, there's an end on it. Go on, Sammy,'
said Mr. Weller, with a sigh.

'Well,' said Sam, 'you've been a-prophecyin' avay about wot'll
happen to the gov'ner if he's left alone. Don't you see any way o'
takin' care on him?'

'No, I don't, Sammy,' said Mr. Weller, with a reflective visage.

'No vay at all?' inquired Sam.

'No vay,' said Mr. Weller, 'unless'--and a gleam of intelligence
lighted up his countenance as he sank his voice to a whisper, and
applied his mouth to the ear of his offspring--'unless it is getting
him out in a turn-up bedstead, unbeknown to the turnkeys,
Sammy, or dressin' him up like a old 'ooman vith a green

Sam Weller received both of these suggestions with unexpected
contempt, and again propounded his question.

'No,' said the old gentleman; 'if he von't let you stop there, I
see no vay at all. It's no thoroughfare, Sammy, no thoroughfare.'

'Well, then, I'll tell you wot it is,' said Sam, 'I'll trouble you
for the loan of five-and-twenty pound.'

'Wot good'll that do?' inquired Mr. Weller.

'Never mind,' replied Sam. 'P'raps you may ask for it five
minits arterwards; p'raps I may say I von't pay, and cut up
rough. You von't think o' arrestin' your own son for the money,
and sendin' him off to the Fleet, will you, you unnat'ral wagabone?'

At this reply of Sam's, the father and son exchanged a
complete code of telegraph nods and gestures, after which, the elder
Mr. Weller sat himself down on a stone step and laughed till he
was purple.

'Wot a old image it is!' exclaimed Sam, indignant at this loss
of time. 'What are you a-settin' down there for, con-wertin' your
face into a street-door knocker, wen there's so much to be done.
Where's the money?'
'In the boot, Sammy, in the boot,' replied Mr. Weller,
composing his features. 'Hold my hat, Sammy.'

Having divested himself of this encumbrance, Mr. Weller gave
his body a sudden wrench to one side, and by a dexterous twist,
contrived to get his right hand into a most capacious pocket,
from whence, after a great deal of panting and exertion, he
extricated a pocket-book of the large octavo size, fastened by a
huge leathern strap. From this ledger he drew forth a couple of
whiplashes, three or four buckles, a little sample-bag of corn,
and, finally, a small roll of very dirty bank-notes, from which he
selected the required amount, which he handed over to Sam.

'And now, Sammy,' said the old gentleman, when the whip-
lashes, and the buckles, and the samples, had been all put back,
and the book once more deposited at the bottom of the same
pocket, 'now, Sammy, I know a gen'l'm'n here, as'll do the rest
o' the bisness for us, in no time--a limb o' the law, Sammy, as
has got brains like the frogs, dispersed all over his body, and
reachin' to the wery tips of his fingers; a friend of the Lord
Chancellorship's, Sammy, who'd only have to tell him what he
wanted, and he'd lock you up for life, if that wos all.'

'I say,' said Sam, 'none o' that.'

'None o' wot?' inquired Mr. Weller.

'Wy, none o' them unconstitootional ways o' doin' it,' retorted
Sam. 'The have-his-carcass, next to the perpetual motion, is vun
of the blessedest things as wos ever made. I've read that 'ere in
the newspapers wery of'en.'

'Well, wot's that got to do vith it?' inquired Mr. Weller.

'Just this here,' said Sam, 'that I'll patronise the inwention,
and go in, that vay. No visperin's to the Chancellorship--I don't
like the notion. It mayn't be altogether safe, vith reference to
gettin' out agin.'

Deferring to his son's feeling upon this point, Mr. Weller at
once sought the erudite Solomon Pell, and acquainted him with
his desire to issue a writ, instantly, for the SUM of twenty-five
pounds, and costs of process; to be executed without delay upon
the body of one Samuel Weller; the charges thereby incurred, to
be paid in advance to Solomon Pell.

The attorney was in high glee, for the embarrassed coach-
horser was ordered to be discharged forthwith. He highly
approved of Sam's attachment to his master; declared that it
strongly reminded him of his own feelings of devotion to his
friend, the Chancellor; and at once led the elder Mr. Weller
down to the Temple, to swear the affidavit of debt, which the
boy, with the assistance of the blue bag, had drawn up on the spot.

Meanwhile, Sam, having been formally introduced to the
whitewashed gentleman and his friends, as the offspring of Mr.
Weller, of the Belle Savage, was treated with marked distinction,
and invited to regale himself with them in honour of the occasion
--an invitation which he was by no means backward in accepting.

The mirth of gentlemen of this class is of a grave and quiet
character, usually; but the present instance was one of peculiar
festivity, and they relaxed in proportion. After some rather
tumultuous toasting of the Chief Commissioner and Mr. Solomon
Pell, who had that day displayed such transcendent abilities, a
mottled-faced gentleman in a blue shawl proposed that somebody
should sing a song. The obvious suggestion was, that the mottled-
faced gentleman, being anxious for a song, should sing it himself;
but this the mottled-faced gentleman sturdily, and somewhat
offensively, declined to do. Upon which, as is not unusual in such
cases, a rather angry colloquy ensued.

'Gentlemen,' said the coach-horser, 'rather than disturb the
harmony of this delightful occasion, perhaps Mr. Samuel Weller
will oblige the company.'

'Raly, gentlemen,' said Sam, 'I'm not wery much in the habit
o' singin' without the instrument; but anythin' for a quiet life, as
the man said wen he took the sitivation at the lighthouse.'

With this prelude, Mr. Samuel Weller burst at once into the
following wild and beautiful legend, which, under the impression
that it is not generally known, we take the liberty of quoting. We
would beg to call particular attention to the monosyllable at the
end of the second and fourth lines, which not only enables the
singer to take breath at those points, but greatly assists the metre.



Bold Turpin vunce, on Hounslow Heath,
His bold mare Bess bestrode-er;
Ven there he see'd the Bishop's coach
A-coming along the road-er.
So he gallops close to the 'orse's legs,
And he claps his head vithin;
And the Bishop says, 'Sure as eggs is eggs,
This here's the bold Turpin!'


And the Bishop says, 'Sure as eggs is eggs,
This here's the bold Turpin!'


Says Turpin, 'You shall eat your words,
With a sarse of leaden bul-let;'
So he puts a pistol to his mouth,
And he fires it down his gul-let.
The coachman he not likin' the job,
Set off at full gal-lop,
But Dick put a couple of balls in his nob,
And perwailed on him to stop.

         CHORUS (sarcastically)

But Dick put a couple of balls in his nob,
And perwailed on him to stop.

'I maintain that that 'ere song's personal to the cloth,' said the
mottled-faced gentleman, interrupting it at this point. 'I demand
the name o' that coachman.'

'Nobody know'd,' replied Sam. 'He hadn't got his card in his pocket.'

'I object to the introduction o' politics,' said the mottled-
faced gentleman. 'I submit that, in the present company, that
'ere song's political; and, wot's much the same, that it ain't true.
I say that that coachman did not run away; but that he died
game--game as pheasants; and I won't hear nothin' said to
the contrairey.'

As the mottled-faced gentleman spoke with great energy and
determination, and as the opinions of the company seemed
divided on the subject, it threatened to give rise to fresh altercation,
when Mr. Weller and Mr. Pell most opportunely arrived.

'All right, Sammy,' said Mr. Weller.

'The officer will be here at four o'clock,' said Mr. Pell. 'I
suppose you won't run away meanwhile, eh? Ha! ha!'

'P'raps my cruel pa 'ull relent afore then,' replied Sam, with a
broad grin.

'Not I,' said the elder Mr. Weller.

'Do,' said Sam.

'Not on no account,' replied the inexorable creditor.

'I'll give bills for the amount, at sixpence a month,' said Sam.

'I won't take 'em,' said Mr. Weller.

'Ha, ha, ha! very good, very good,' said Mr. Solomon
Pell, who was making out his little bill of costs; 'a very
amusing incident indeed! Benjamin, copy that.' And Mr.
Pell smiled again, as he called Mr. Weller's attention to the amount.

'Thank you, thank you,' said the professional gentleman,
taking up another of the greasy notes as Mr. Weller took it from
the pocket-book. 'Three ten and one ten is five. Much obliged to
you, Mr. Weller. Your son is a most deserving young man, very
much so indeed, Sir. It's a very pleasant trait in a young man's
character, very much so,' added Mr. Pell, smiling smoothly
round, as he buttoned up the money.

'Wot a game it is!' said the elder Mr. Weller, with a chuckle.
'A reg'lar prodigy son!'

'Prodigal--prodigal son, Sir,' suggested Mr. Pell, mildly.

'Never mind, Sir,' said Mr. Weller, with dignity. 'I know wot's
o'clock, Sir. Wen I don't, I'll ask you, Sir.'

By the time the officer arrived, Sam had made himself so
extremely popular, that the congregated gentlemen determined to
see him to prison in a body. So off they set; the plaintiff and
defendant walking arm in arm, the officer in front, and eight stout
coachmen bringing up the rear. At Serjeant's Inn Coffee-house
the whole party halted to refresh, and, the legal arrangements
being completed, the procession moved on again.

Some little commotion was occasioned in Fleet Street, by the
pleasantry of the eight gentlemen in the flank, who persevered in
walking four abreast; it was also found necessary to leave the
mottled-faced gentleman behind, to fight a ticket-porter, it being
arranged that his friends should call for him as they came back.
Nothing but these little incidents occurred on the way. When they
reached the gate of the Fleet, the cavalcade, taking the time from
the plaintiff, gave three tremendous cheers for the defendant, and,
after having shaken hands all round, left him.

Sam, having been formally delivered into the warder's custody,
to the intense astonishment of Roker, and to the evident emotion
of even the phlegmatic Neddy, passed at once into the prison,
walked straight to his master's room, and knocked at the door.

'Come in,' said Mr. Pickwick.

Sam appeared, pulled off his hat, and smiled.

'Ah, Sam, my good lad!' said Mr. Pickwick, evidently delighted
to see his humble friend again; 'I had no intention of hurting your
feelings yesterday, my faithful fellow, by what I said. Put down
your hat, Sam, and let me explain my meaning, a little more at length.'

'Won't presently do, sir?' inquired Sam.

'Certainly,' said Mr. Pickwick; 'but why not now?'

'I'd rayther not now, sir,' rejoined Sam.

'Why?' inquired Mr. Pickwick.

''Cause--' said Sam, hesitating.

'Because of what?' inquired Mr. Pickwick, alarmed at his
follower's manner. 'Speak out, Sam.'

''Cause,' rejoined Sam--''cause I've got a little bisness as I
want to do.'

'What business?' inquired Mr. Pickwick, surprised at Sam's
confused manner.

'Nothin' partickler, Sir,' replied Sam.

'Oh, if it's nothing particular,' said Mr. Pickwick, with a
smile, 'you can speak with me first.'

'I think I'd better see arter it at once,' said Sam, still hesitating.

Mr. Pickwick looked amazed, but said nothing.

'The fact is--' said Sam, stopping short.

'Well!' said Mr. Pickwick. 'Speak out, Sam.'

'Why, the fact is,' said Sam, with a desperate effort, 'perhaps
I'd better see arter my bed afore I do anythin' else.'

'YOUR BED!' exclaimed Mr. Pickwick, in astonishment.

'Yes, my bed, Sir,' replied Sam, 'I'm a prisoner. I was arrested
this here wery arternoon for debt.'

'You arrested for debt!' exclaimed Mr. Pickwick, sinking into
a chair.

'Yes, for debt, Sir,' replied Sam. 'And the man as puts me in,
'ull never let me out till you go yourself.'

'Bless my heart and soul!' ejaculated Mr. Pickwick. 'What do
you mean?'

'Wot I say, Sir,' rejoined Sam. 'If it's forty years to come, I shall
be a prisoner, and I'm very glad on it; and if it had been Newgate,
it would ha' been just the same. Now the murder's out, and,
damme, there's an end on it!'

With these words, which he repeated with great emphasis and
violence, Sam Weller dashed his hat upon the ground, in a most
unusual state of excitement; and then, folding his arms, looked
firmly and fixedly in his master's face.


Mr. Pickwick felt a great deal too much touched by the warmth of
Sam's attachment, to be able to exhibit any manifestation of
anger or displeasure at the precipitate course he had adopted, in
voluntarily consigning himself to a debtor's prison for an
indefinite period. The only point on which he persevered in
demanding an explanation, was, the name of Sam's detaining
creditor; but this Mr. Weller as perseveringly withheld.

'It ain't o' no use, sir,' said Sam, again and again; 'he's a
malicious, bad-disposed, vorldly-minded, spiteful, windictive creetur,
with a hard heart as there ain't no soft'nin', as the wirtuous clergyman
remarked of the old gen'l'm'n with the dropsy, ven he said, that
upon the whole he thought he'd rayther leave his property to his
vife than build a chapel vith it.'

'But consider, Sam,' Mr. Pickwick remonstrated, 'the sum is so
small that it can very easily be paid; and having made up My
mind that you shall stop with me, you should recollect how much
more useful you would be, if you could go outside the walls.'
'Wery much obliged to you, sir,' replied Mr. Weller gravely;
'but I'd rayther not.'

'Rather not do what, Sam?'

'Wy, I'd rayther not let myself down to ask a favour o' this
here unremorseful enemy.'

'But it is no favour asking him to take his money, Sam,'
reasoned Mr. Pickwick.

'Beg your pardon, sir,' rejoined Sam, 'but it 'ud be a wery
great favour to pay it, and he don't deserve none; that's where
it is, sir.'

Here Mr. Pickwick, rubbing his nose with an air of some
vexation, Mr. Weller thought it prudent to change the theme of
the discourse.

'I takes my determination on principle, Sir,' remarked Sam,
'and you takes yours on the same ground; wich puts me in mind
o' the man as killed his-self on principle, wich o' course you've
heerd on, Sir.' Mr. Weller paused when he arrived at this point,
and cast a comical look at his master out of the corners of his eyes.

'There is no "of course" in the case, Sam,' said Mr. Pickwick,
gradually breaking into a smile, in spite of the uneasiness which
Sam's obstinacy had given him. 'The fame of the gentleman in
question, never reached my ears.'

'No, sir!' exclaimed Mr. Weller. 'You astonish me, Sir; he wos
a clerk in a gov'ment office, sir.'

'Was he?' said Mr. Pickwick.

'Yes, he wos, Sir,' rejoined Mr. Weller; 'and a wery pleasant
gen'l'm'n too--one o' the precise and tidy sort, as puts their feet
in little India-rubber fire-buckets wen it's wet weather, and never
has no other bosom friends but hare-skins; he saved up his
money on principle, wore a clean shirt ev'ry day on principle;
never spoke to none of his relations on principle, 'fear they
shou'd want to borrow money of him; and wos altogether, in
fact, an uncommon agreeable character. He had his hair cut on
principle vunce a fortnight, and contracted for his clothes on the
economic principle--three suits a year, and send back the old
uns. Being a wery reg'lar gen'l'm'n, he din'd ev'ry day at the
same place, where it was one-and-nine to cut off the joint, and a
wery good one-and-nine's worth he used to cut, as the landlord
often said, with the tears a-tricklin' down his face, let alone the
way he used to poke the fire in the vinter time, which wos a dead
loss o' four-pence ha'penny a day, to say nothin' at all o' the
aggrawation o' seein' him do it. So uncommon grand with it
too! "POST arter the next gen'l'm'n," he sings out ev'ry day ven
he comes in. "See arter the TIMES, Thomas; let me look at the
MORNIN' HERALD, when it's out o' hand; don't forget to bespeak
the CHRONICLE; and just bring the 'TIZER, vill you:" and then he'd
set vith his eyes fixed on the clock, and rush out, just a quarter
of a minit 'fore the time to waylay the boy as wos a-comin' in
with the evenin' paper, which he'd read with sich intense interest
and persewerance as worked the other customers up to the wery
confines o' desperation and insanity, 'specially one i-rascible old
gen'l'm'n as the vaiter wos always obliged to keep a sharp eye
on, at sich times, fear he should be tempted to commit some rash
act with the carving-knife. Vell, Sir, here he'd stop, occupyin' the
best place for three hours, and never takin' nothin' arter his
dinner, but sleep, and then he'd go away to a coffee-house a few
streets off, and have a small pot o' coffee and four crumpets,
arter wich he'd walk home to Kensington and go to bed. One
night he wos took very ill; sends for a doctor; doctor comes in a
green fly, with a kind o' Robinson Crusoe set o' steps, as he
could let down wen he got out, and pull up arter him wen he
got in, to perwent the necessity o' the coachman's gettin' down,
and thereby undeceivin' the public by lettin' 'em see that it wos
only a livery coat as he'd got on, and not the trousers to match.
"Wot's the matter?" says the doctor. "Wery ill," says the patient.
"Wot have you been a-eatin' on?" says the doctor. "Roast
weal," says the patient. "Wot's the last thing you dewoured?"
says the doctor. "Crumpets," says the patient. "That's it!" says
the doctor. "I'll send you a box of pills directly, and don't you
never take no more of 'em," he says. "No more o' wot?" says
the patient--"pills?" "No; crumpets," says the doctor. "Wy?"
says the patient, starting up in bed; "I've eat four crumpets,
ev'ry night for fifteen year, on principle." "Well, then, you'd
better leave 'em off, on principle," says the doctor. "Crumpets is
NOT wholesome, Sir," says the doctor, wery fierce. "But they're
so cheap," says the patient, comin' down a little, "and so wery
fillin' at the price." "They'd be dear to you, at any price; dear if
you wos paid to eat 'em," says the doctor. "Four crumpets a
night," he says, "vill do your business in six months!" The patient
looks him full in the face, and turns it over in his mind for a long
time, and at last he says, "Are you sure o' that 'ere, Sir?" "I'll
stake my professional reputation on it," says the doctor. "How
many crumpets, at a sittin', do you think 'ud kill me off at once?"
says the patient. "I don't know," says the doctor. "Do you think
half-a-crown's wurth 'ud do it?" says the patient. "I think it
might," says the doctor. "Three shillins' wurth 'ud be sure to do
it, I s'pose?" says the patient. "Certainly," says the doctor.
"Wery good," says the patient; "good-night." Next mornin' he
gets up, has a fire lit, orders in three shillins' wurth o' crumpets,
toasts 'em all, eats 'em all, and blows his brains out.'

'What did he do that for?' inquired Mr. Pickwick abruptly; for
he was considerably startled by this tragical termination of
the narrative.

'Wot did he do it for, Sir?' reiterated Sam. 'Wy, in support of
his great principle that crumpets wos wholesome, and to show
that he wouldn't be put out of his way for nobody!'
With such like shiftings and changings of the discourse, did
Mr. Weller meet his master's questioning on the night of his
taking up his residence in the Fleet. Finding all gentle remonstrance
useless, Mr. Pickwick at length yielded a reluctant consent
to his taking lodgings by the week, of a bald-headed cobbler, who
rented a small slip room in one of the upper galleries. To this
humble apartment Mr. Weller moved a mattress and bedding,
which he hired of Mr. Roker; and, by the time he lay down upon
it at night, was as much at home as if he had been bred in the
prison, and his whole family had vegetated therein for three generations.

'Do you always smoke arter you goes to bed, old cock?'
inquired Mr. Weller of his landlord, when they had both retired
for the night.

'Yes, I does, young bantam,' replied the cobbler.

'Will you allow me to in-quire wy you make up your bed
under that 'ere deal table?' said Sam.

''Cause I was always used to a four-poster afore I came here,
and I find the legs of the table answer just as well,' replied
the cobbler.

'You're a character, sir,' said Sam.

'I haven't got anything of the kind belonging to me,' rejoined
the cobbler, shaking his head; 'and if you want to meet with a
good one, I'm afraid you'll find some difficulty in suiting yourself
at this register office.'

The above short dialogue took place as Mr. Weller lay
extended on his mattress at one end of the room, and the cobbler
on his, at the other; the apartment being illumined by the light
of a rush-candle, and the cobbler's pipe, which was glowing
below the table, like a red-hot coal. The conversation, brief as it
was, predisposed Mr. Weller strongly in his landlord's favour;
and, raising himself on his elbow, he took a more lengthened
survey of his appearance than he had yet had either time or
inclination to make.

He was a sallow man--all cobblers are; and had a strong
bristly beard--all cobblers have. His face was a queer, good-
tempered, crooked-featured piece of workmanship, ornamented
with a couple of eyes that must have worn a very joyous
expression at one time, for they sparkled yet. The man was sixty,
by years, and Heaven knows how old by imprisonment, so that
his having any look approaching to mirth or contentment, was
singular enough. He was a little man, and, being half doubled up
as he lay in bed, looked about as long as he ought to have been
without his legs. He had a great red pipe in his mouth, and was
smoking, and staring at the rush-light, in a state of enviable

'Have you been here long?' inquired Sam, breaking the silence
which had lasted for some time.

'Twelve year,' replied the cobbler, biting the end of his pipe as
he spoke.

'Contempt?' inquired Sam.
     The cobbler nodded.

'Well, then,' said Sam, with some sternness, 'wot do you
persevere in bein' obstinit for, vastin' your precious life away, in
this here magnified pound? Wy don't you give in, and tell the
Chancellorship that you're wery sorry for makin' his court
contemptible, and you won't do so no more?'

The cobbler put his pipe in the corner of his mouth, while he smiled,
and then brought it back to its old place again; but said nothing.

'Wy don't you?' said Sam, urging his question strenuously.

'Ah,' said the cobbler, 'you don't quite understand these
matters. What do you suppose ruined me, now?'

'Wy,' said Sam, trimming the rush-light, 'I s'pose the beginnin'
wos, that you got into debt, eh?'

'Never owed a farden,' said the cobbler; 'try again.'

'Well, perhaps,' said Sam, 'you bought houses, wich is delicate
English for goin' mad; or took to buildin', wich is a medical
term for bein' incurable.'

The cobbler shook his head and said, 'Try again.'
     'You didn't go to law, I hope?' said Sam suspiciously.
     'Never in my life,' replied the cobbler. 'The fact is, I was ruined
by having money left me.'

'Come, come,' said Sam, 'that von't do. I wish some rich
enemy 'ud try to vork my destruction in that 'ere vay. I'd let him.'
     'Oh, I dare say you don't believe it,' said the cobbler, quietly
smoking his pipe. 'I wouldn't if I was you; but it's true for
all that.'

'How wos it?' inquired Sam, half induced to believe the fact
already, by the look the cobbler gave him.

'Just this,' replied the cobbler; 'an old gentleman that I
worked for, down in the country, and a humble relation of whose
I married--she's dead, God bless her, and thank Him for it!--
was seized with a fit and went off.'

'Where?' inquired Sam, who was growing sleepy after the
numerous events of the day.

'How should I know where he went?' said the cobbler, speaking
through his nose in an intense enjoyment of his pipe. 'He went
off dead.'

'Oh, that indeed,' said Sam. 'Well?'

'Well,' said the cobbler, 'he left five thousand pound behind him.'

'And wery gen-teel in him so to do,' said Sam.

'One of which,' continued the cobbler, 'he left to me, 'cause I
married his relation, you see.'

'Wery good,' murmured Sam.

'And being surrounded by a great number of nieces and
nevys, as was always quarrelling and fighting among themselves
for the property, he makes me his executor, and leaves the rest to
me in trust, to divide it among 'em as the will prowided.'

'Wot do you mean by leavin' it on trust?' inquired Sam, waking
up a little. 'If it ain't ready-money, were's the use on it?'
     'It's a law term, that's all,' said the cobbler.

'I don't think that,' said Sam, shaking his head. 'There's wery
little trust at that shop. Hows'ever, go on.'
'Well,' said the cobbler, 'when I was going to take out a
probate of the will, the nieces and nevys, who was desperately
disappointed at not getting all the money, enters a caveat
against it.'
     'What's that?' inquired Sam.

'A legal instrument, which is as much as to say, it's no go,'
replied the cobbler.

'I see,' said Sam, 'a sort of brother-in-law o' the have-his-
carcass. Well.'

'But,' continued the cobbler, 'finding that they couldn't agree
among themselves, and consequently couldn't get up a case
against the will, they withdrew the caveat, and I paid all the
legacies. I'd hardly done it, when one nevy brings an action to set
the will aside. The case comes on, some months afterwards, afore
a deaf old gentleman, in a back room somewhere down by Paul's
Churchyard; and arter four counsels had taken a day a-piece to
bother him regularly, he takes a week or two to consider, and
read the evidence in six volumes, and then gives his judgment
that how the testator was not quite right in his head, and I must
pay all the money back again, and all the costs. I appealed; the
case come on before three or four very sleepy gentlemen, who had
heard it all before in the other court, where they're lawyers
without work; the only difference being, that, there, they're
called doctors, and in the other place delegates, if you understand
that; and they very dutifully confirmed the decision of the old
gentleman below. After that, we went into Chancery, where we
are still, and where I shall always be. My lawyers have had all my
thousand pound long ago; and what between the estate, as they
call it, and the costs, I'm here for ten thousand, and shall stop
here, till I die, mending shoes. Some gentlemen have talked of
bringing it before Parliament, and I dare say would have done it,
only they hadn't time to come to me, and I hadn't power to go
to them, and they got tired of my long letters, and dropped the
business. And this is God's truth, without one word of suppression
or exaggeration, as fifty people, both in this place and out
of it, very well know.'

The cobbler paused to ascertain what effect his story had
produced on Sam; but finding that he had dropped asleep, knocked
the ashes out of his pipe, sighed, put it down, drew the bed-
clothes over his head, and went to sleep, too.

Mr. Pickwick was sitting at breakfast, alone, next morning
(Sam being busily engaged in the cobbler's room, polishing his
master's shoes and brushing the black gaiters) when there came a
knock at the door, which, before Mr. Pickwick could cry 'Come
in!' was followed by the appearance of a head of hair
and a cotton-velvet cap, both of which articles of dress he
had no difficulty in recognising as the personal property of
Mr. Smangle.

'How are you?' said that worthy, accompanying the inquiry
with a score or two of nods; 'I say--do you expect anybody this
morning? Three men--devilish gentlemanly fellows--have been
asking after you downstairs, and knocking at every door on the
hall flight; for which they've been most infernally blown up by
the collegians that had the trouble of opening 'em.'

'Dear me! How very foolish of them,' said Mr. Pickwick,
rising. 'Yes; I have no doubt they are some friends whom I
rather expected to see, yesterday.'

'Friends of yours!' exclaimed Smangle, seizing Mr. Pickwick
by the hand. 'Say no more. Curse me, they're friends of mine
from this minute, and friends of Mivins's, too. Infernal pleasant,
gentlemanly dog, Mivins, isn't he?' said Smangle, with great feeling.

'I know so little of the gentleman,' said Mr. Pickwick,
hesitating, 'that I--'

'I know you do,' interrupted Smangle, clasping Mr. Pickwick
by the shoulder. 'You shall know him better. You'll be delighted
with him. That man, Sir,' said Smangle, with a solemn countenance,
'has comic powers that would do honour to Drury Lane Theatre.'

'Has he indeed?' said Mr. Pickwick.

'Ah, by Jove he has!' replied Smangle. 'Hear him come the
four cats in the wheel-barrow--four distinct cats, sir, I pledge you
my honour. Now you know that's infernal clever! Damme, you
can't help liking a man, when you see these traits about him.
He's only one fault--that little failing I mentioned to you, you know.'

As Mr. Smangle shook his head in a confidential and sympathising
manner at this juncture, Mr. Pickwick felt that he was
expected to say something, so he said, 'Ah!' and looked restlessly
at the door.

'Ah!' echoed Mr. Smangle, with a long-drawn sigh. 'He's
delightful company, that man is, sir. I don't know better company
anywhere; but he has that one drawback. If the ghost of his
grandfather, Sir, was to rise before him this minute, he'd ask him
for the loan of his acceptance on an eightpenny stamp.'
     'Dear me!' exclaimed Mr. Pickwick.

'Yes,' added Mr. Smangle; 'and if he'd the power of raising
him again, he would, in two months and three days from this
time, to renew the bill!'

'Those are very remarkable traits,' said Mr. Pickwick; 'but
I'm afraid that while we are talking here, my friends may be in a
state of great perplexity at not finding me.'

'I'll show 'em the way,' said Smangle, making for the door.
'Good-day. I won't disturb you while they're here, you know. By
the bye--'

As Smangle pronounced the last three words, he stopped
suddenly, reclosed the door which he had opened, and, walking
softly back to Mr. Pickwick, stepped close up to him on tiptoe,
and said, in a very soft whisper--

'You couldn't make it convenient to lend me half-a-crown till
the latter end of next week, could you?'

Mr. Pickwick could scarcely forbear smiling, but managing to
preserve his gravity, he drew forth the coin, and placed it in
Mr. Smangle's palm; upon which, that gentleman, with many
nods and winks, implying profound mystery, disappeared in
quest of the three strangers, with whom he presently returned;
and having coughed thrice, and nodded as many times, as an
assurance to Mr. Pickwick that he would not forget to pay, he
shook hands all round, in an engaging manner, and at length
took himself off.

'My dear friends,' said Mr. Pickwick, shaking hands alternately
with Mr. Tupman, Mr. Winkle, and Mr. Snodgrass,
who were the three visitors in question, 'I am delighted to see you.'

The triumvirate were much affected. Mr. Tupman shook his
head deploringly, Mr. Snodgrass drew forth his handkerchief,
with undisguised emotion; and Mr. Winkle retired to the
window, and sniffed aloud.

'Mornin', gen'l'm'n,' said Sam, entering at the moment with
the shoes and gaiters. 'Avay vith melincholly, as the little boy
said ven his schoolmissus died. Velcome to the college, gen'l'm'n.'
     'This foolish fellow,' said Mr. Pickwick, tapping Sam on the
head as he knelt down to button up his master's gaiters--'this
foolish fellow has got himself arrested, in order to be near me.'
     'What!' exclaimed the three friends.

'Yes, gen'l'm'n,' said Sam, 'I'm a--stand steady, sir, if you
please--I'm a prisoner, gen'l'm'n. Con-fined, as the lady said.'
     'A prisoner!' exclaimed Mr. Winkle, with unaccountable vehemence.

'Hollo, sir!' responded Sam, looking up. 'Wot's the matter, Sir?'

'I had hoped, Sam, that-- Nothing, nothing,' said Mr.
Winkle precipitately.

There was something so very abrupt and unsettled in Mr.
Winkle's manner, that Mr. Pickwick involuntarily looked at his
two friends for an explanation.

'We don't know,' said Mr. Tupman, answering this mute
appeal aloud. 'He has been much excited for two days past,
and his whole demeanour very unlike what it usually is. We
feared there must be something the matter, but he resolutely
denies it.'

'No, no,' said Mr. Winkle, colouring beneath Mr. Pickwick's
gaze; 'there is really nothing. I assure you there is nothing, my
dear sir. It will be necessary for me to leave town, for a short
time, on private business, and I had hoped to have prevailed
upon you to allow Sam to accompany me.'

Mr. Pickwick looked more astonished than before.

'I think,' faltered Mr. Winkle, 'that Sam would have had no
objection to do so; but, of course, his being a prisoner here,
renders it impossible. So I must go alone.'

As Mr. Winkle said these words, Mr. Pickwick felt, with some
astonishment, that Sam's fingers were trembling at the gaiters, as
if he were rather surprised or startled. Sam looked up at Mr.
Winkle, too, when he had finished speaking; and though the
glance they exchanged was instantaneous, they seemed to understand
each other.

'Do you know anything of this, Sam?' said Mr. Pickwick sharply.

'No, I don't, sir,' replied Mr. Weller, beginning to button with
extraordinary assiduity.

'Are you sure, Sam?' said Mr. Pickwick.

'Wy, sir,' responded Mr. Weller; 'I'm sure so far, that I've
never heerd anythin' on the subject afore this moment. If I makes
any guess about it,' added Sam, looking at Mr. Winkle, 'I
haven't got any right to say what 'It is, fear it should be a
wrong 'un.'

'I have no right to make any further inquiry into the private
affairs of a friend, however intimate a friend,' said Mr. Pickwick,
after a short silence; 'at present let me merely say, that I do not
understand this at all. There. We have had quite enough of the

Thus expressing himself, Mr. Pickwick led the conversation to
different topics, and Mr. Winkle gradually appeared more at
ease, though still very far from being completely so. They had all
so much to converse about, that the morning very quickly passed
away; and when, at three o'clock, Mr. Weller produced upon the
little dining-table, a roast leg of mutton and an enormous meat-
pie, with sundry dishes of vegetables, and pots of porter, which
stood upon the chairs or the sofa bedstead, or where they could,
everybody felt disposed to do justice to the meal, notwithstanding
that the meat had been purchased, and dressed, and the pie
made, and baked, at the prison cookery hard by.

To these succeeded a bottle or two of very good wine, for
which a messenger was despatched by Mr. Pickwick to the Horn
Coffee-house, in Doctors' Commons. The bottle or two, indeed,
might be more properly described as a bottle or six, for by the
time it was drunk, and tea over, the bell began to ring for
strangers to withdraw.

But, if Mr. Winkle's behaviour had been unaccountable in the
morning, it became perfectly unearthly and solemn when, under
the influence of his feelings, and his share of the bottle or six,
he prepared to take leave of his friend. He lingered behind, until
Mr. Tupman and Mr. Snodgrass had disappeared, and then
fervently clenched Mr. Pickwick's hand, with an expression of
face in which deep and mighty resolve was fearfully blended with
the very concentrated essence of gloom.

'Good-night, my dear Sir!' said Mr. Winkle between his set teeth.

'Bless you, my dear fellow!' replied the warm-hearted Mr.
Pickwick, as he returned the pressure of his young friend's hand.

'Now then!' cried Mr. Tupman from the gallery.

'Yes, yes, directly,' replied Mr. Winkle. 'Good-night!'

'Good-night,' said Mr. Pickwick.

There was another good-night, and another, and half a dozen
more after that, and still Mr. Winkle had fast hold of his friend's
hand, and was looking into his face with the same strange expression.

'Is anything the matter?' said Mr. Pickwick at last, when his
arm was quite sore with shaking.
'Nothing,' said Mr. Winkle.

'Well then, good-night,' said Mr. Pickwick, attempting to
disengage his hand.

'My friend, my benefactor, my honoured companion,' murmured
Mr. Winkle, catching at his wrist. 'Do not judge me
harshly; do not, when you hear that, driven to extremity by
hopeless obstacles, I--'

'Now then,' said Mr. Tupman, reappearing at the door. 'Are
you coming, or are we to be locked in?'

'Yes, yes, I am ready,' replied Mr. Winkle. And with a violent
effort he tore himself away.

As Mr. Pickwick was gazing down the passage after them in
silent astonishment, Sam Weller appeared at the stair-head, and
whispered for one moment in Mr. Winkle's ear.

'Oh, certainly, depend upon me,' said that gentleman aloud.

'Thank'ee, sir. You won't forget, sir?' said Sam.
'Of course not,' replied Mr. Winkle.

'Wish you luck, Sir,' said Sam, touching his hat. 'I should very
much liked to ha' joined you, Sir; but the gov'nor, o' course,
is paramount.'

'It is very much to your credit that you remain here,'
said Mr. Winkle. With these words they disappeared down the stairs.

,Very extraordinary,' said Mr. Pickwick, going back into his
room, and seating himself at the table in a musing attitude.
'What can that young man be going to do?'

He had sat ruminating about the matter for some time, when
the voice of Roker, the turnkey, demanded whether he might
come in.

'By all means,' said Mr. Pickwick.

'I've brought you a softer pillow, Sir,' said Mr. Roker, 'instead
of the temporary one you had last night.'

'Thank you,' said Mr. Pickwick. 'Will you take a glass of wine?'

'You're wery good, Sir,' replied Mr. Roker, accepting the
proffered glass. 'Yours, sir.'

'Thank you,' said Mr. Pickwick.

'I'm sorry to say that your landlord's wery bad to-night, Sir,'
said Roker, setting down the glass, and inspecting the lining of
his hat preparatory to putting it on again.

'What! The Chancery prisoner!' exclaimed Mr. Pickwick.

'He won't be a Chancery prisoner wery long, Sir,' replied
Roker, turning his hat round, so as to get the maker's name
right side upwards, as he looked into it.

'You make my blood run cold,' said Mr. Pickwick. 'What do
you mean?'

'He's been consumptive for a long time past,' said Mr. Roker,
'and he's taken wery bad in the breath to-night. The doctor said,
six months ago, that nothing but change of air could save him.'

'Great Heaven!' exclaimed Mr. Pickwick; 'has this man been
slowly murdered by the law for six months?'

'I don't know about that,' replied Roker, weighing the hat by
the brim in both hands. 'I suppose he'd have been took the same,
wherever he was. He went into the infirmary, this morning; the
doctor says his strength is to be kept up as much as possible; and
the warden's sent him wine and broth and that, from his own
house. It's not the warden's fault, you know, sir.'

'Of course not,' replied Mr. Pickwick hastily.

'I'm afraid, however,' said Roker, shaking his head, 'that it's
all up with him. I offered Neddy two six-penn'orths to one upon
it just now, but he wouldn't take it, and quite right. Thank'ee, Sir.
Good-night, sir.'

'Stay,' said Mr. Pickwick earnestly. 'Where is this infirmary?'

'Just over where you slept, sir,' replied Roker. 'I'll show you, if
you like to come.' Mr. Pickwick snatched up his hat without
speaking, and followed at once.

The turnkey led the way in silence; and gently raising the
latch of the room door, motioned Mr. Pickwick to enter. It was
a large, bare, desolate room, with a number of stump bedsteads
made of iron, on one of which lay stretched the shadow of a man
--wan, pale, and ghastly. His breathing was hard and thick, and
he moaned painfully as it came and went. At the bedside sat a
short old man in a cobbler's apron, who, by the aid of a pair of
horn spectacles, was reading from the Bible aloud. It was the
fortunate legatee.

The sick man laid his hand upon his attendant's arm, and
motioned him to stop. He closed the book, and laid it on the bed.

'Open the window,' said the sick man.

He did so. The noise of carriages and carts, the rattle of
wheels, the cries of men and boys, all the busy sounds of a mighty
multitude instinct with life and occupation, blended into one
deep murmur, floated into the room. Above the hoarse loud
hum, arose, from time to time, a boisterous laugh; or a scrap of
some jingling song, shouted forth, by one of the giddy crowd,
would strike upon the ear, for an instant, and then be lost amidst
the roar of voices and the tramp of footsteps; the breaking of the
billows of the restless sea of life, that rolled heavily on, without.
These are melancholy sounds to a quiet listener at any time; but
how melancholy to the watcher by the bed of death!

'There is no air here,' said the man faintly. 'The place pollutes
it. It was fresh round about, when I walked there, years ago; but
it grows hot and heavy in passing these walls. I cannot breathe it.'

'We have breathed it together, for a long time,' said the old
man. 'Come, come.'

There was a short silence, during which the two spectators
approached the bed. The sick man drew a hand of his old fellow-
prisoner towards him, and pressing it affectionately between both
his own, retained it in his grasp.

'I hope,' he gasped after a while, so faintly that they bent their
ears close over the bed to catch the half-formed sounds his pale
lips gave vent to--'I hope my merciful Judge will bear in mind
my heavy punishment on earth. Twenty years, my friend, twenty
years in this hideous grave! My heart broke when my child died,
and I could not even kiss him in his little coffin. My loneliness
since then, in all this noise and riot, has been very dreadful. May
God forgive me! He has seen my solitary, lingering death.'

He folded his hands, and murmuring something more they
could not hear, fell into a sleep--only a sleep at first, for they saw
him smile.

They whispered together for a little time, and the turnkey,
stooping over the pillow, drew hastily back. 'He has got his
discharge, by G--!' said the man.

He had. But he had grown so like death in life, that they knew
not when he died.

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