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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, gentlemen?'
'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.
'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.
'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.
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The Pickwick Papers -- by Charles Dickens