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Charles Dickens > The Pickwick Papers > Chapter 45

The Pickwick Papers

Chapter 45


It was within a week of the close of the month of July, that a
hackney cabriolet, number unrecorded, was seen to proceed at a
rapid pace up Goswell Street; three people were squeezed into
it besides the driver, who sat in his own 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 heavy and subdued demeanour, who, whenever he
ventured to make an observation, was snapped up short by one of
the vixenish ladies before-mentioned. Lastly, the two vixenish
ladies and the heavy gentleman were giving the driver contradictory
directions, all tending to the one point, that he should stop at
Mrs. Bardell's door; which the heavy gentleman, in direct
opposition to, and defiance of, the vixenish ladies, contended
was a green door and not a yellow one.

'Stop at the house with a green door, driver,' said the heavy

'Oh! You perwerse creetur!' exclaimed one of the vixenish
ladies. 'Drive to the 'ouse with the yellow door, cabmin.'

Upon this the cabman, who in a sudden effort to pull up at the
house with the green door, had pulled the horse up so high that
he nearly pulled him backward into the cabriolet, let the animal's
fore-legs down to the ground again, and paused.

'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 being troubled with a fly on his nose, the cabman humanely
employed his leisure in lashing 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 with the 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 after the driver had dismounted
to assist the ladies in getting out, the small round head of Master
Thomas Bardell was thrust out of the one-pair window of a
house with a red door, a few numbers off.

'Aggrawatin' thing!' said the vixenish lady last-mentioned,
darting a withering 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 the red 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 possible occasion 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. Raddle.

'Don't talk to me, don't, you brute, for fear I should be
perwoked to forgit my sect and strike you!' said Mrs. Raddle.

While this dialogue was going on, the driver was most
ignominiously leading the horse, by the bridle, up to the house
with the red door, which Master Bardell had already opened.
Here was a mean and low way of arriving at a friend's house!
No dashing up, with all the fire and fury of the animal; no
jumping down of the driver; no loud knocking at the door; no
opening of the apron with a crash at the very last moment, for
fear of the ladies sitting in a draught; and then the man handing
the shawls out, afterwards, as if he were a private coachman!
The whole edge of the thing had been taken off--it was flatter
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 his pockets, 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 very wide 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 exactly thirty-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 Master Bardell.

'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
applying himself to the bottom step again.

'Drat the child!' muttered Mrs. Cluppins. 'What a prowokin'
little wretch it is! 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 his infantile 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 up tottering.

'Lauk, Mary Ann! what's the matter?' said Mrs. Cluppins.

'It's put me all over in such a tremble, Betsy,' replied Mrs.
Raddle. 'Raddle ain't like a man; he leaves everythink to me.'

This was scarcely fair upon the unfortunate Mr. Raddle, who
had been thrust aside by his good lady in the commencement of
the dispute, and peremptorily commanded to hold his tongue.
He had no opportunity of defending himself, however, for Mrs.
Raddle gave unequivocal signs of fainting; which, being perceived
from the parlour window, Mrs. Bardell, Mrs. Sanders, the
lodger, and the lodger's servant, darted precipitately out, and
conveyed her into the house, all talking at the same time, and
giving utterance to various expressions of pity and condolence,
as if she were one of the most suffering mortals on earth. Being
conveyed into the front parlour, she was there deposited on a
sofa; and the lady from the first floor running up to the first floor,
returned with a bottle of sal-volatile, which, holding Mrs. Raddle
tight round the neck, she applied in all womanly kindness and
pity to her nose, until that lady with many plunges and struggles
was fain to declare herself 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 moaned in unison, and said they knew what it was, and
they pitied her from their hearts, they did. Even the lodger's little
servant, who was thirteen years old and 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
reproachful manner. Thereupon the ladies cast indignant glances
at Mr. Raddle.

'Why, the fact is,' said that unhappy gentleman, stepping
forward, 'when we alighted at this door, a dispute arose with the
driver of the cabrioily--' A loud scream from his wife, at the
mention of this word, rendered all further explanation 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 the room, and requested to give himself an airing
in the back yard. Which he did for about a quarter of an hour,
when Mrs. Bardell announced to him with a solemn face that he
might come in now, but that he must be very careful how he
behaved towards his wife. She knew he didn't mean to be unkind;
but Mary Ann was very far from strong, and, if he didn't take
care, he might lose her when he least expected it, which would be
a very dreadful reflection for him afterwards; and so on. All this,
Mr. Raddle heard with great submission, and presently returned
to the parlour in a most lamb-like manner.

'Why, Mrs. Rogers, ma'am,' said Mrs. Bardell, 'you've never
been introduced, I declare! 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 her servant was in waiting, so she was more gracious
than intimate, in right of her position. 'Oh, indeed!'

Mrs. Raddle smiled sweetly, Mr. Raddle bowed, and Mrs.
Cluppins said, 'she was sure she was very happy to have an
opportunity of being known to a lady which she had heerd so
much in favour of, as Mrs. Rogers.' A compliment which the
last-named lady acknowledged with graceful condescension.

'Well, Mr. Raddle,' said Mrs. Bardell; 'I'm sure you ought to
feel very much honoured at you and Tommy being the only
gentlemen to escort so many ladies all 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 all the
other ladies responded, 'Oh, certainly.'

'Of course I feel it, ma'am,' said Mr. Raddle, rubbing his
hands, and evincing a slight tendency to brighten up a little.
'Indeed, to tell you the truth, I said, as we was a-coming along in
the cabrioily--'

At the recapitulation of the word which awakened so many
painful recollections, Mrs. Raddle applied her handkerchief to her
eyes again, and uttered 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, which comprised sundry plates of oranges and biscuits,
and a bottle of old crusted port--that at one-and-nine--with
another of the celebrated East India sherry at fourteen-pence,
which were all produced in honour of the lodger, and afforded
unlimited satisfaction to everybody. After great consternation
had been excited in the mind of Mrs. Cluppins, by an attempt on
the part of Tommy to recount 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 the old crusted
'the wrong way,' and thereby endangering his life for some
seconds), the party walked forth in quest of a Hampstead stage.
This was soon found, and in a couple of hours they all arrived
safely in the Spaniards Tea-gardens, where the luckless Mr.
Raddle's very first act nearly occasioned his good lady a relapse;
it being neither more nor less than to order tea for seven, whereas
(as the ladies one and all remarked), what could have been easier
than for Tommy to have drank out of anybody's cup--or everybody's,
if that was all--when the waiter wasn't looking,
which would have saved one head of tea, and the tea just as good!

However, there was no help for it, and the tea-tray came, with
seven cups and saucers, and bread-and-butter on the same scale.
Mrs. Bardell was unanimously voted into the chair, and Mrs.
Rogers being stationed on her right hand, and Mrs. 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 I lived in it always.'

'Oh, you wouldn't like that, ma'am,' replied Mrs. Bardell,
rather hastily; for it was not at all advisable, with reference to the
lodgings, to encourage such notions; 'you wouldn't like it, ma'am.'

'Oh! I should think you was a deal too lively and sought after,
to be content with 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, or as 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 very well. The country for
a wounded spirit, they say.'

Now, of all things in the world that the unfortunate man could
have said, any would have been preferable to this. Of course
Mrs. Bardell burst into tears, and requested to be led from the
table instantly; upon which the affectionate child began to cry
too, most dismally.

'Would anybody believe, ma'am,' exclaimed Mrs. Raddle,
turning fiercely to the first-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. 'Go away. I can't bear the sight on you, you brute.'

'You must not flurry yourself, Mary Ann,' interposed Mrs.
Cluppins. 'You really 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
the bread-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 a large size for hugging, into his mother's arms, in
which operation he got his boots in the tea-board, and occasioned
some confusion among the cups and saucers. But that description
of fainting fits, which is contagious among ladies, seldom lasts
long; so when he had been well kissed, and a little cried over,
Mrs. Bardell recovered, set him down again, wondering how she
could have been so foolish, and poured out some more tea.

It was at this moment, that the sound of approaching wheels
was heard, and that 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!' cried Mrs. Bardell. 'Why, gracious! Surely Mr. Pickwick
can't have paid the damages.'

'Or hoffered marriage!' said Mrs. Cluppins.

'Dear me, how slow the gentleman is,'exclaimed Mrs. Rogers.
'Why doesn't he make haste!'

As the lady spoke these words, Mr. Jackson turned from the
coach where he had been addressing some observations to a
shabby man in black leggings, who had just emerged from the
vehicle with a thick ash stick in his hand, and made his way to
the place where the ladies were seated; winding his hair round
the brim of his hat, as he came along.
'Is anything the matter? Has anything taken place, Mr.
Jackson?' said Mrs. Bardell eagerly.

'Nothing whatever, ma'am,' replied Mr. Jackson. 'How de do,
ladies? I have to ask pardon, ladies, for intruding--but the law,
ladies--the law.' With this apology Mr. Jackson smiled, made a
comprehensive bow, and gave his hair another wind. Mrs.
Rogers whispered Mrs. Raddle that he was really an elegant
young man.

'I called in Goswell Street,' resumed Mr. Jackson, 'and hearing
that you were here, from the slavey, took a coach and came on.
Our people want you down in the city directly, Mrs. Bardell.'

'Lor!' ejaculated that lady, starting at the sudden nature of
the communication.

'Yes,' said Mr. Jackson, biting his lip. 'It's very important and
pressing business, which can't be postponed on any account.
Indeed, Dodson expressly said so to me, and so did Fogg. I've
kept the coach on purpose for you to go back in.'

'How very strange!' exclaimed Mrs. Bardell.

The ladies agreed that it WAS very strange, but were
unanimously of opinion that it must be very important, or Dodson
& Fogg would never have sent; and further, 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's lawyers in such a monstrous hurry, that
was by no means displeasing to Mrs. Bardell, especially as it
might be reasonably supposed to enhance her consequence in the
eyes of the first-floor lodger. She simpered a little, affected
extreme vexation and hesitation, and at last arrived at the
conclusion that she supposed she must go.

'But won't you refresh yourself after your walk, Mr. Jackson?'
said Mrs. Bardell persuasively.

'Why, really there ain't much time to lose,' replied Jackson;
'and I've got a friend here,' he continued, looking towards the
man with the ash stick.

'Oh, ask your friend to come here, Sir,' said Mrs. Bardell.
'Pray ask your friend here, Sir.'

'Why, thank'ee, I'd rather not,' said Mr. Jackson, with some
embarrassment of manner. 'He's not much used to ladies' society,
and it makes him bashful. If you'll order the waiter to deliver him
anything short, he won't drink it off at once, won't he!--only
try him!' Mr. Jackson's fingers wandered playfully round his nose
at this portion of his discourse, to warn his hearers that he was
speaking ironically.

The waiter was at once despatched to the bashful gentleman,
and the bashful gentleman took something; Mr. Jackson also
took something, and the ladies took something, for hospitality's
sake. Mr. Jackson then said he was afraid it was time to go;
upon which, Mrs. Sanders, Mrs. Cluppins, and Tommy (who it
was arranged should accompany Mrs. Bardell, leaving the others
to Mr. Raddle's protection), got into the coach.

'Isaac,' said Jackson, as Mrs. Bardell prepared to get in,
looking up at the man 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, when Mrs. Cluppins and Mrs. Sanders had fallen
asleep; 'your bill of costs, I mean.'

'I'm very sorry they can't get them,' replied Mrs. Bardell. 'But
if you law gentlemen do these things on speculation, why you
must get a loss now and then, you know.'

'You gave them a COGNOVIT for the amount of your costs, after
the trial, I'm told!' 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 some time, 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 step out.'

Mrs. Bardell, not yet thoroughly awake, complied. It was a
curious place: a large 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, and shaking Mrs. Sanders to wake her, 'Come!'
Rousing her friend, Mrs. Sanders alighted. Mrs. Bardell, leaning
on Jackson's arm, and leading Tommy by the hand, had already
entered the porch. They followed.

The room they turned into was even more odd-looking than
the porch. Such a number 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 a door, and looking round to see that the other women
were following. 'Look sharp, Isaac!'

'Safe and sound,' replied the man with the ash stick. The door
swung heavily after 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 be frightened, 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 of business, to take you in
execution for them costs; but they were anxious to spare 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 another man, with a key in his hand, who had been
looking on, led the bewildered female to a second short flight of
steps leading to a doorway. Mrs. Bardell screamed violently;
Tommy roared; Mrs. Cluppins shrunk within herself; and Mrs.
Sanders made off, without more ado. For there stood the injured
Mr. Pickwick, taking his nightly allowance of air; and beside him
leant Samuel Weller, who, seeing Mrs. Bardell, took his hat off
with mock reverence, while his 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? What for? 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 real downright earnest.

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