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'Boots,' said he, 'get me an officer.'
'Stay, stay,' said little Mr. Perker. 'Consider, Sir, consider.'
'I'll not consider,' replied Jingle. 'She's her own mistress--see who dares to take her away--unless she wishes it.'
'I WON'T be taken away,' murmured the spinster aunt. 'I DON'T wish it.' (Here there was a frightful relapse.)
'My dear Sir,' said the little man, in a low tone, taking Mr. Wardle and Mr. Pickwick apart--'my dear Sir, we're in a very awkward situation. It's a distressing case--very; I never knew one more so; but really, my dear sir, really we have no power to control this lady's actions. I warned you before we came, my dear sir, that there was nothing to look to but a compromise.'
There was a short pause.
'What kind of compromise would you recommend?' inquired Mr. Pickwick.
'Why, my dear Sir, our friend's in an unpleasant position--very much so. We must be content to suffer some pecuniary loss.'
'I'll suffer any, rather than submit to this disgrace, and let her, fool as she is, be made miserable for life,' said Wardle.
'I rather think it can be done,' said the bustling little man. 'Mr. Jingle, will you step with us into the next room for a moment?'
Mr. Jingle assented, and the quartette walked into an empty apartment.
'Now, sir,' said the little man, as he carefully closed the door, 'is there no way of accommodating this matter--step this way, sir, for a moment--into this window, Sir, where we can be alone --there, sir, there, pray sit down, sir. Now, my dear Sir, between you and I, we know very well, my dear Sir, that you have run off with this lady for the sake of her money. Don't frown, Sir, don't frown; I say, between you and I, WE know it. We are both men of the world, and WE know very well that our friends here, are not--eh?'
Mr. Jingle's face gradually relaxed; and something distantly resembling a wink quivered for an instant in his left eye.
'Very good, very good,' said the little man, observing the impression he had made. 'Now, the fact is, that beyond a few hundreds, the lady has little or nothing till the death of her mother--fine old lady, my dear Sir.'
'OLD,' said Mr. Jingle briefly but emphatically.
'Why, yes,' said the attorney, with a slight cough. 'You are right, my dear Sir, she is rather old. She comes of an old family though, my dear Sir; old in every sense of the word. The founder of that family came into Kent when Julius Caesar invaded Britain;--only one member of it, since, who hasn't lived to eighty-five, and he was beheaded by one of the Henrys. The old lady is not seventy-three now, my dear Sir.' The little man paused, and took a pinch of snuff.
'Well,' cried Mr. Jingle.
'Well, my dear sir--you don't take snuff!--ah! so much the better--expensive habit--well, my dear Sir, you're a fine young man, man of the world--able to push your fortune, if you had capital, eh?'
'Well,' said Mr. Jingle again.
'Do you comprehend me?'
'Don't you think--now, my dear Sir, I put it to you don't you think--that fifty pounds and liberty would be better than Miss Wardle and expectation?'
'Won't do--not half enough!' said Mr. Jingle, rising.
'Nay, nay, my dear Sir,' remonstrated the little attorney, seizing him by the button. 'Good round sum--a man like you could treble it in no time--great deal to be done with fifty pounds, my dear Sir.'
'More to be done with a hundred and fifty,' replied Mr. Jingle coolly.
'Well, my dear Sir, we won't waste time in splitting straws,' resumed the little man, 'say--say--seventy.' 'Won't do,' said Mr. Jingle.
'Don't go away, my dear sir--pray don't hurry,' said the little man. 'Eighty; come: I'll write you a cheque at once.'
'Won't do,' said Mr. Jingle.
'Well, my dear Sir, well,' said the little man, still detaining him; 'just tell me what WILL do.'
'Expensive affair,' said Mr. Jingle. 'Money out of pocket-- posting, nine pounds; licence, three--that's twelve--compensation, a hundred--hundred and twelve--breach of honour--and loss of the lady--'
'Yes, my dear Sir, yes,' said the little man, with a knowing look, 'never mind the last two items. That's a hundred and twelve--say a hundred--come.'
'And twenty,' said Mr. Jingle.
'Come, come, I'll write you a cheque,' said the little man; and down he sat at the table for that purpose.
'I'll make it payable the day after to-morrow,' said the little man, with a look towards Mr. Wardle; 'and we can get the lady away, meanwhile.' Mr. Wardle sullenly nodded assent.
'A hundred,' said the little man.
'And twenty,' said Mr. Jingle.
'My dear Sir,' remonstrated the little man.
'Give it him,' interposed Mr. Wardle, 'and let him go.'
The cheque was written by the little gentleman, and pocketed by Mr. Jingle.
'Now, leave this house instantly!' said Wardle, starting up.
'My dear Sir,' urged the little man.
'And mind,' said Mr. Wardle, 'that nothing should have induced me to make this compromise--not even a regard for my family--if I had not known that the moment you got any money in that pocket of yours, you'd go to the devil faster, if possible, than you would without it--'
'My dear sir,' urged the little man again.
'Be quiet, Perker,' resumed Wardle. 'Leave the room, Sir.'
'Off directly,' said the unabashed Jingle. 'Bye bye, Pickwick.' If any dispassionate spectator could have beheld the countenance of the illustrious man, whose name forms the leading feature of the title of this work, during the latter part of this conversation, he would have been almost induced to wonder that the indignant fire which flashed from his eyes did not melt the glasses of his spectacles--so majestic was his wrath. His nostrils dilated, and his fists clenched involuntarily, as he heard himself addressed by the villain. But he restrained himself again--he did not pulverise him.
'Here,' continued the hardened traitor, tossing the licence at Mr. Pickwick's feet; 'get the name altered--take home the lady --do for Tuppy.'
Mr. Pickwick was a philosopher, but philosophers are only men in armour, after all. The shaft had reached him, penetrated through his philosophical harness, to his very heart. In the frenzy of his rage, he hurled the inkstand madly forward, and followed it up himself. But Mr. Jingle had disappeared, and he found himself caught in the arms of Sam.
'Hollo,' said that eccentric functionary, 'furniter's cheap where you come from, Sir. Self-acting ink, that 'ere; it's wrote your mark upon the wall, old gen'l'm'n. Hold still, Sir; wot's the use o' runnin' arter a man as has made his lucky, and got to t'other end of the Borough by this time?'
Mr. Pickwick's mind, like those of all truly great men, was open to conviction. He was a quick and powerful reasoner; and a moment's reflection sufficed to remind him of the impotency of his rage. It subsided as quickly as it had been roused. He panted for breath, and looked benignantly round upon his friends.
Shall we tell the lamentations that ensued when Miss Wardle found herself deserted by the faithless Jingle? Shall we extract Mr. Pickwick's masterly description of that heartrending scene? His note-book, blotted with the tears of sympathising humanity, lies open before us; one word, and it is in the printer's hands. But, no! we will be resolute! We will not wring the public bosom, with the delineation of such suffering!
Slowly and sadly did the two friends and the deserted lady return next day in the Muggleton heavy coach. Dimly and darkly had the sombre shadows of a summer's night fallen upon all around, when they again reached Dingley Dell, and stood within the entrance to Manor Farm.
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The Pickwick Papers -- by Charles Dickens