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66 No, don't," said Ben Allen.
"I fear I must," said Bob, with heroic firmness. "I'll pay her what I owe her, and give her warning to-morrow morning." Poor fellow! how devoutly he wished he could!
Mr. Bob Sawyer's heart-sickening attempts to rally under this last blow communicated a dispiriting influence to the company, the greater part of whom, with the view of raising their spirits, attached themselves with extra cordiality to the cold brandy and water, the first perceptible effects of which were displayed in a renewal of hostilities between the scorbutic youth and the gentleman in the shirt. The belligerents vented their feelings of mutual contempt, for some time, in a variety of frownings and snortings, until at last the scorbutic youth felt it necessary to come to a more explicit understanding on the matter; when the following clear understanding took place.
"Sawyer," said the scorbutic youth in a loud voice. "Well, Noddy," replied Mr. Bob Sawyer.
"I should be very sorry, Sawyer," said Mr. Noddy, "to create any unpleasantness at any friend's table, and much less at yours, Sawyer,-very; but I must take this opportunity of informing Mr. Gunter that he is no gentleman.'
"And I should be very sorry, Sawyer, to create any disturbance in the street in which you reside," said Mr. Gunter, "but I'm afraid I shall be under the necessity of alarming the neighbours by throwing the person who has just spoken out of window."
"What do you mean by that, sir?" inquired Mr. Noddy.
"What I say, sir," replied Mr. Gunter.
"I should like to see you do it, sir," said Mr. Noddy.
"You shall feel me do it in half a minute, sir,” replied Mr. Gunter.
"I request that you'll favour me with your card, sir," said Mr. Noddy,
"I'll do nothing of the kind, sir," replied Mr. Gunter.
"Why not, sir?" inquired Mr. Noddy.
"Because you'll stick it up over your chimneypiece, and delude your visitors into the false belief that a gentleman has been to see you, sir," replied Mr. Gunter.
"Sir, a friend of mine shall wait on you in the morning," said Mr. Noddy.
"Sir, I'm very much obliged to you for the caution, and I'll leave particular directions with the servant to lock up the spoons," replied Mr. Gunter.
At this point the remainder of the guests interposed, and remonstrated with both parties on the impropriety of their conduct; on which Mr. Noddy begged to state that his father was quite as respectable as Mr. Gunter's father; to which Mr. Gunter replied that his father was to the full as respectable as Mr. Noddy's father, and that his father's son was as good a man as Mr. Noddy, any day in the week. As this announcement seemed the prelude to a recommencement of the dispute, there was another interference on the part of the company; and a vast quantity of talking and clamouring ensued, in the course of which Mr. Noddy gradually allowed his feelings to overpower him, and professed that he had ever entertained a devoted personal attachment towards Mr. Gunter. To this Mr. Gunter replied that, upon the whole, he rather preferred Mr. Noddy to his own brother; on hearing which admission, Mr. Noddy magnanimously rose from his seat, and proffered his hand to Mr. Gunter. Mr. Gunter grasped it with affecting fervour; and everybody said that the whole dispute had been conducted in a manner which was highly honourable to both parties concerned.
Now," said Jack Hopkins, "just to set us going again, Bob, I don't mind singing a song." And Hopkins, incited thereto, by tumultuous applause, plunged himself at once into "The King, God bless him," which he sang as loud as he could, to a novel air, compounded of
the "Bay of Biscay," and "A Frog he would." The chorus was the essence of the song; and, as each gentleman sang it to the tune he knew best, the effect was very striking indeed.
It was at the end of the chorus to the first verse, that Mr. Pickwick held up his hand in a listening attitude, and said, as soon as silence was restored:
"Hush! I beg your pardon. I thought I heard somebody calling from up stairs.
A profound silence immediately ensued; and Mr. Bob Sawyer was observed to turn pale.
"I think I hear it now," said Mr. Pickwick. the goodness to open the door."
The door was no sooner opened than all doubt on the subject was removed.
"Mr. Sawyer! Mr. Sawyer!" screamed a voice from the two-pair landing.
"It's my landlady," said Bob Sawyer, looking round him with great dismay. "Yes, Mrs. Raddle."
"What do you mean by this, Mr. Sawyer?" replied the voice, with great shrillness and rapidity of utterance. "Ain't it enough to be swindled out of one's rent, and money lent out of pocket besides, and abused and insulted by your friends that dares to call themselves men: without having the house turned out of window, and noise enough made to bring the fire-engines here at two o'clock in the morning ?-Turn them wretches away."
"You ought to be ashamed of yourselves," said the voice of Mr. Raddle, which appeared to proceed from beneath some distant bed-clothes.
"Ashamed of themselves!" said Mrs. Raddle. "Why don't you go down and knock 'em every one down stairs? You would if you was a man.
"I should if I was a dozen men, my dear," replied Mr. Raddle, pacifically, "but they've the advantage of me in numbers, my dear."
"Ugh, you coward!" replied Mrs. Raddle, with supreme contempt. "Do you mean to turn them wretches out, or not, Mr. Sawyer?"
"They're going, Mrs. Raddle, they're going," said the miserable Bob. "I'm afraid you'd better go," said Mr. Bob Sawyer to his friends. "I thought you were making too much noise."
"It's a very unfortunate thing," said the prim man. "Just as we were getting so comfortable too!" The prim man was just beginning to have a dawning recollection of the story he had forgotten.
"It's hardly to be borne," said the prim man, looking round. "Hardly to be borne, is it ?"
"Not to be endured," replied Jack Hopkins; "let's have the other verse, Bob; come, here goes!"
"No, no, Jack, don't," interposed Bob Sawyer; "it's a capital song, but I am afraid we had better not have the other verse. They are very violent people, the people of the house."
"Shall I step up stairs, and pitch into the landlord!" inquired Hopkins, "or keep on ringing the bell, or go and groan on the staircase? You may command me, Bob."
"I am very much indebted to you for your friendship and good nature, Hopkins," said the wretched Mr. Bob Sawyer, "but I think the best plan to avoid any further dispute is for us to break up at once.”
"Now, Mr. Sawyer !" screamed the shrill voice of Mrs. Raddle, 66 are them brutes going?"
"They're only looking for their hats, Mrs. Raddle," said Bob; "they are going directly."
"Going!" said Mrs. Raddle, thrusting her night-cap over the banisters just as Mr. Pickwick, followed by Mr. Tupman, emerged from the sitting room. "Going! What did they ever come for?"
"My dear ma'am," remonstrated Mr. Pickwick, looking up.
"Get along with you, you old wretch !" replied Mrs. Raddle, hastily withdrawing the night-cap. "Old enough to be his grandfather, you villin! worse than
any of 'em."
Mr. Pickwick found it in vain to protest his inno
cence, so hurried down stairs into the street, whither he was closely followed by Mr. Tupman, Mr. Winkle, and Mr. Snodgrass.
The visitors having all departed, in compliance with the rather pressing request of Mrs. Raddle, the luckless Mr. Bob Sawyer was left alone, to meditate on the probable events of the morrow, and the pleasures of the evening.
(By permission of Messrs. Chapman and Hall.)
THE CATARACT OF LODORE.
How does the water come down at Lodore?
The request of their brother, and hear how the water Comes down at Lodore, with its rush and its roar, As many a time they had seen it before.
So I told them in rhyme, for of rhymes I had store. And 'twas in my vocation that thus I should sing, Because I was laureate to them and the King.