'But after all,' said Mr. Nupkins, brightening for a moment, after a long pause; 'after all, this is a mere statement. Captain Fitz-Marshall is a man of very engaging manners, and, I dare say, has many enemies. What proof have you of the truth of these representations?'
'Confront me with him,' said Mr. Pickwick, 'that is all I ask, and all I require. Confront him with me and my friends here; you will want no further proof.'
'Why,' said Mr. Nupkins, 'that might be very easily done, for he will be here to-night, and then there would be no occasion to make the matter public, just — just — for the young man's own sake, you know. I — I — should like to consult Mrs. Nupkins on the propriety of the step, in the first instance, though. At all events, Mr. Pickwick, we must despatch this legal business before we can do anything else. Pray step back into the next room.'
Into the next room they went.
'Grummer,' said the magistrate, in an awful voice.
'Your Wash-up,' replied Grummer, with the smile of a favourite.
'Come, come, Sir,' said the magistrate sternly, 'don't let me see any of this levity here. It is very unbecoming, and I can assure you that you have very little to smile at. Was the account you gave me just now strictly true? Now be careful, sir!' 'Your Wash-up,' stammered Grummer, 'I-'
'Oh, you are confused, are you?' said the magistrate. 'Mr. Jinks, you observe this confusion?'
'Certainly, Sir,' replied Jinks.
'Now,' said the magistrate, 'repeat your statement, Grummer, and again I warn you to be careful. Mr. Jinks, take his words down.'
The unfortunate Grummer proceeded to re-state his complaint, but, what between Mr. Jinks's taking down his words, and the magistrate's taking them up, his natural tendency to rambling, and his extreme confusion, he managed to get involved, in something under three minutes, in such a mass of entanglement and contradiction, that Mr. Nupkins at once declared he didn't believe him. So the fines were remitted, and Mr. Jinks found a couple of bail in no time. And all these solemn proceedings having been satisfactorily concluded, Mr. Grummer was ignominiously ordered out — an awful instance of the instability of human greatness, and the uncertain tenure of great men's favour.
Mrs. Nupkins was a majestic female in a pink gauze turban and a light brown wig. Miss Nupkins possessed all her mamma's haughtiness without the turban, and all her ill-nature without the wig; and whenever the exercise of these two amiable qualities involved mother and daughter in some unpleasant dilemma, as they not infrequently did, they both concurred in laying the blame on the shoulders of Mr. Nupkins. Accordingly, when Mr. Nupkins sought Mrs. Nupkins, and detailed the communication which had been made by Mr. Pickwick, Mrs. Nupkins suddenly recollected that she had always expected something of the kind; that she had always said it would be so; that her advice was never taken; that she really did not know what Mr. Nupkins supposed she was; and so forth.
'The idea!' said Miss Nupkins, forcing a tear of very scanty proportions into the corner of each eye; 'the idea of my being made such a fool of!'
'Ah! you may thank your papa, my dear,' said Mrs. Nupkins; 'how I have implored and begged that man to inquire into the captain's family connections; how I have urged and entreated him to take some decisive step! I am quite certain nobody would believe it — quite.'
'But, my dear,' said Mr. Nupkins.
'Don't talk to me, you aggravating thing, don't!' said Mrs. Nupkins.
'My love,' said Mr. Nupkins, 'you professed yourself very fond of Captain Fitz-Marshall. You have constantly asked him here, my dear, and you have lost no opportunity of introducing him elsewhere.'
'Didn't I say so, Henrietta?' cried Mrs. Nupkins, appealing to her daughter with the air of a much-injured female. 'Didn't I say that your papa would turn round and lay all this at my door? Didn't I say so?' Here Mrs. Nupkins sobbed.
'Oh, pa!' remonstrated Miss Nupkins. And here she sobbed too.
'Isn't it too much, when he has brought all this disgrace and ridicule upon us, to taunt me with being the cause of it?' exclaimed Mrs. Nupkins.
'How can we ever show ourselves in society!' said Miss Nupkins.
'How can we face the Porkenhams?' cried Mrs. Nupkins.
'Or the Griggs!' cried Miss Nupkins. 'Or the Slummintowkens!' cried Mrs. Nupkins. 'But what does your papa care! What is it to HIM!' At this dreadful reflection, Mrs. Nupkins wept mental anguish, and Miss Nupkins followed on the same side.
Mrs. Nupkins's tears continued to gush forth, with great velocity, until she had gained a little time to think the matter over; when she decided, in her own mind, that the best thing to do would be to ask Mr. Pickwick and his friends to remain until the captain's arrival, and then to give Mr. Pickwick the opportunity he sought. If it appeared that he had spoken truly, the captain could be turned out of the house without noising the matter abroad, and they could easily account to the Porkenhams for his disappearance, by saying that he had been appointed, through the Court influence of his family, to the governor-generalship of Sierra Leone, of Saugur Point, or any other of those salubrious climates which enchant Europeans so much, that when they once get there, they can hardly ever prevail upon themselves to come back again.
When Mrs. Nupkins dried up her tears, Miss Nupkins dried up hers, and Mr. Nupkins was very glad to settle the matter as Mrs. Nupkins had proposed. So Mr. Pickwick and his friends, having washed off all marks of their late encounter, were introduced to the ladies, and soon afterwards to their dinner; and Mr. Weller, whom the magistrate, with his peculiar sagacity, had discovered in half an hour to be one of the finest fellows alive, was consigned to the care and guardianship of Mr. Muzzle, who was specially enjoined to take him below, and make much of him.
'How de do, sir?' said Mr. Muzzle, as he conducted Mr. Weller down the kitchen stairs.
'Why, no considerable change has taken place in the state of my system, since I see you cocked up behind your governor's chair in the parlour, a little vile ago,' replied Sam.
'You will excuse my not taking more notice of you then,' said Mr. Muzzle. 'You see, master hadn't introduced us, then. Lord, how fond he is of you, Mr. Weller, to be sure!'
'Ah!' said Sam, 'what a pleasant chap he is!'
'Ain't he?'replied Mr. Muzzle.
'So much humour,' said Sam.
'And such a man to speak,' said Mr. Muzzle. 'How his ideas flow, don't they?'
'Wonderful,' replied Sam; 'they comes a-pouring out, knocking each other's heads so fast, that they seems to stun one another; you hardly know what he's arter, do you?' 'That's the great merit of his style of speaking,' rejoined Mr. Muzzle. 'Take care of the last step, Mr. Weller. Would you like to wash your hands, sir, before we join the ladies'! Here's a sink, with the water laid on, Sir, and a clean jack towel behind the door.'
'Ah! perhaps I may as well have a rinse,' replied Mr. Weller, applying plenty of yellow soap to the towel, and rubbing away till his face shone again. 'How many ladies are there?'
'Only two in our kitchen,' said Mr. Muzzle; 'cook and 'ouse-maid. We keep a boy to do the dirty work, and a gal besides, but they dine in the wash'us.'
'Oh, they dines in the wash'us, do they?' said Mr. Weller.
'Yes,' replied Mr. Muzzle, 'we tried 'em at our table when they first come, but we couldn't keep 'em. The gal's manners is dreadful vulgar; and the boy breathes so very hard while he's eating, that we found it impossible to sit at table with him.'
'Young grampus!' said Mr. Weller.
'Oh, dreadful,' rejoined Mr. Muzzle; 'but that is the worst of country service, Mr. Weller; the juniors is always so very savage. This way, sir, if you please, this way.'
Preceding Mr. Weller, with the utmost politeness, Mr. Muzzle conducted him into the kitchen.
'Mary,' said Mr. Muzzle to the pretty servant-girl, 'this is Mr. Weller; a gentleman as master has sent down, to be made as comfortable as possible.'
'And your master's a knowin' hand, and has just sent me to the right place,' said Mr. Weller, with a glance of admiration at Mary. 'If I wos master o' this here house, I should alvays find the materials for comfort vere Mary wos.' 'Lor, Mr. Weller!' said Mary blushing.
'Well, I never!' ejaculated the cook.
'Bless me, cook, I forgot you,' said Mr. Muzzle. 'Mr. Weller, let me introduce you.'
'How are you, ma'am?' said Mr. Weller.'Wery glad to see you, indeed, and hope our acquaintance may be a long 'un, as the gen'l'm'n said to the fi' pun' note.'
When this ceremony of introduction had been gone through, the cook and Mary retired into the back kitchen to titter, for ten minutes; then returning, all giggles and blushes, they sat down to dinner. Mr. Weller's easy manners and conversational powers had such irresistible influence with his new friends, that before the dinner was half over, they were on a footing of perfect intimacy, and in possession of a full account of the delinquency of Job Trotter.
'I never could a-bear that Job,' said Mary.
'No more you never ought to, my dear,' replied Mr. Weller.
'Why not?' inquired Mary.
''Cos ugliness and svindlin' never ought to be formiliar with elegance and wirtew,' replied Mr. Weller. 'Ought they, Mr. Muzzle?'