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IS CHIEFLY DEVOTED TO MATTERS OF BUSINESS, AND THE TEMPORAL ADVANTAGE OF DODSON AND FOGG-- Mr. WINKLE REAPPEARS UNDER EXTRAORDINARY CIRCUMSTANCES--Mr. PICKWICK'S BENEVOLENCE PROVES STRONGER THAN HIS OBSTINACY
Job Trotter, abating nothing of his speed, ran up Holborn, sometimes in the middle of the road, sometimes on the pavement, sometimes in the gutter, as the chances of getting along varied with the press of men, women, children, and coaches, in each division of the thoroughfare, and, regardless of all obstacles stopped not for an instant until he reached the gate of Gray's Inn. Notwithstanding all the expedition he had used, however, the gate had been closed a good half-hour when he reached it, and by the time he had discovered Mr. Perker's laundress, who lived with a married daughter, who had bestowed her hand upon a non-resident waiter, who occupied the one-pair of some number in some street closely adjoining to some brewery somewhere behind Gray's Inn Lane, it was within fifteen minutes of closing the prison for the night. Mr. Lowten had still to be ferreted out from the back parlour of the Magpie and Stump; and Job had scarcely accomplished this object, and communicated Sam Weller's message, when the clock struck ten.
'There,' said Lowten, 'it's too late now. You can't get in to-night; you've got the key of the street, my friend.'
'Never mind me,' replied Job. 'I can sleep anywhere. But won't it be better to see Mr. Perker to-night, so that we may be there, the first thing in the morning?'
'Why,' responded Lowten, after a little consideration, 'if it was in anybody else's case, Perker wouldn't be best pleased at my going up to his house; but as it's Mr. Pickwick's, I think I may venture to take a cab and charge it to the office.' Deciding on this line of conduct, Mr. Lowten took up his hat, and begging the assembled company to appoint a deputy-chairman during his temporary absence, led the way to the nearest coach-stand. Summoning the cab of most promising appearance, he directed the driver to repair to Montague Place, Russell Square.
Mr. Perker had had a dinner-party that day, as was testified by the appearance of lights in the drawing-room windows, the sound of an improved grand piano, and an improvable cabinet voice issuing therefrom, and a rather overpowering smell of meat which pervaded the steps and entry. In fact, a couple of very good country agencies happening to come up to town, at the same time, an agreeable little party had been got together to meet them, comprising Mr. Snicks, the Life Office Secretary, Mr. Prosee, the eminent counsel, three solicitors, one commissioner of bankrupts, a special pleader from the Temple, a small-eyed peremptory young gentleman, his pupil, who had written a lively book about the law of demises, with a vast quantity of marginal notes and references; and several other eminent and distinguished personages. From this society, little Mr. Perker detached himself, on his clerk being announced in a whisper; and repairing to the dining- room, there found Mr. Lowten and Job Trotter looking very dim and shadowy by the light of a kitchen candle, which the gentleman who condescended to appear in plush shorts and cottons for a quarterly stipend, had, with a becoming contempt for the clerk and all things appertaining to 'the office,' placed upon the table.
'Now, Lowten,' said little Mr. Perker, shutting the door,'what's the matter? No important letter come in a parcel, is there?'
'No, Sir,' replied Lowten. 'This is a messenger from Mr. Pickwick, Sir.'
'From Pickwick, eh?' said the little man, turning quickly to Job. 'Well, what is it?'
'Dodson and Fogg have taken Mrs. Bardell in execution for her costs, Sir,' said Job.
'No!' exclaimed Perker, putting his hands in his pockets, and reclining against the sideboard.
'Yes,' said Job. 'It seems they got a cognovit out of her, for the amount of 'em, directly after the trial.'
'By Jove!' said Perker, taking both hands out of his pockets, and striking the knuckles of his right against the palm of his left, emphatically, 'those are the cleverest scamps I ever had anything to do with!'
'The sharpest practitioners I ever knew, Sir,' observed Lowten.
'Sharp!' echoed Perker. 'There's no knowing where to have them.'
'Very true, Sir, there is not,' replied Lowten; and then, both master and man pondered for a few seconds, with animated countenances, as if they were reflecting upon one of the most beautiful and ingenious discoveries that the intellect of man had ever made. When they had in some measure recovered from their trance of admiration, Job Trotter discharged himself of the rest of his commission. Perker nodded his head thoughtfully, and pulled out his watch.
'At ten precisely, I will be there,' said the little man. 'Sam is quite right. Tell him so. Will you take a glass of wine, Lowten?' 'No, thank you, Sir.'
'You mean yes, I think,' said the little man, turning to the sideboard for a decanter and glasses.
As Lowten DID mean yes, he said no more on the subject, but inquired of Job, in an audible whisper, whether the portrait of Perker, which hung opposite the fireplace, wasn't a wonderful likeness, to which Job of course replied that it was. The wine being by this time poured out, Lowten drank to Mrs. Perker and the children, and Job to Perker. The gentleman in the plush shorts and cottons considering it no part of his duty to show the people from the office out, consistently declined to answer the bell, and they showed themselves out. The attorney betook himself to his drawing-room, the clerk to the Magpie and Stump, and Job to Covent Garden Market to spend the night in a vegetable basket.
Punctually at the appointed hour next morning, the good- humoured little attorney tapped at Mr. Pickwick's door, which was opened with great alacrity by Sam Weller.
'Mr. Perker, sir,' said Sam, announcing the visitor to Mr. Pickwick, who was sitting at the window in a thoughtful attitude. 'Wery glad you've looked in accidentally, Sir. I rather think the gov'nor wants to have a word and a half with you, Sir.'
Perker bestowed a look of intelligence on Sam, intimating that he understood he was not to say he had been sent for; and beckoning him to approach, whispered briefly in his ear.
'You don't mean that 'ere, Sir?' said Sam, starting back in excessive surprise.
Perker nodded and smiled.
Mr. Samuel Weller looked at the little lawyer, then at Mr. Pickwick, then at the ceiling, then at Perker again; grinned, laughed outright, and finally, catching up his hat from the carpet, without further explanation, disappeared.
'What does this mean?' inquired Mr. Pickwick, looking at Perker with astonishment. 'What has put Sam into this extraordinary state?'
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The Pickwick Papers -- by Charles Dickens