'Not by no means,' replied that gentleman.
Here Mary laughed, and said the cook had made her; and the cook laughed, and said she hadn't.
'I ha'n't got a glass,' said Mary.
'Drink with me, my dear,' said Mr. Weller. 'Put your lips to this here tumbler, and then I can kiss you by deputy.'
'For shame, Mr. Weller!' said Mary.
'What's a shame, my dear?'
'Talkin' in that way.'
'Nonsense; it ain't no harm. It's natur; ain't it, cook?'
'Don't ask me, imperence,' replied the cook, in a high state of delight; and hereupon the cook and Mary laughed again, till what between the beer, and the cold meat, and the laughter combined, the latter young lady was brought to the verge of choking — an alarming crisis from which she was only recovered by sundry pats on the back, and other necessary attentions, most delicately administered by Mr. Samuel Weller. In the midst of all this jollity and conviviality, a loud ring was heard at the garden gate, to which the young gentleman who took his meals in the wash-house, immediately responded. Mr. Weller was in the height of his attentions to the pretty house-maid; Mr. Muzzle was busy doing the honours of the table; and the cook had just paused to laugh, in the very act of raising a huge morsel to her lips; when the kitchen door opened, and in walked Mr. Job Trotter.
We have said in walked Mr. Job Trotter, but the statement is not distinguished by our usual scrupulous adherence to fact. The door opened and Mr. Trotter appeared. He would have walked in, and was in the very act of doing so, indeed, when catching sight of Mr. Weller, he involuntarily shrank back a pace or two, and stood gazing on the unexpected scene before him, perfectly motionless with amazement and terror.
'Here he is!' said Sam, rising with great glee. 'Why we were that wery moment a-speaking o' you. How are you? Where have you been? Come in.'
Laying his hand on the mulberry collar of the unresisting Job, Mr. Weller dragged him into the kitchen; and, locking the door, handed the key to Mr. Muzzle, who very coolly buttoned it up in a side pocket.
'Well, here's a game!' cried Sam. 'Only think o' my master havin' the pleasure o' meeting yourn upstairs, and me havin' the joy o' meetin' you down here. How are you gettin' on, and how is the chandlery bis'ness likely to do? Well, I am so glad to see you. How happy you look. It's quite a treat to see you; ain't it, Mr. Muzzle?'
'Quite,' said Mr. Muzzle.
'So cheerful he is!' said Sam.
'In such good spirits!' said Muzzle. 'And so glad to see us — that makes it so much more comfortable,' said Sam. 'Sit down; sit down.'
Mr. Trotter suffered himself to be forced into a chair by the fireside. He cast his small eyes, first on Mr. Weller, and then on Mr. Muzzle, but said nothing.
'Well, now,' said Sam, 'afore these here ladies, I should jest like to ask you, as a sort of curiosity, whether you don't consider yourself as nice and well-behaved a young gen'l'm'n, as ever used a pink check pocket-handkerchief, and the number four collection?'
'And as was ever a-going to be married to a cook,' said that lady indignantly. 'The willin!'
'And leave off his evil ways, and set up in the chandlery line arterwards,' said the housemaid.
'Now, I'll tell you what it is, young man,' said Mr. Muzzle solemnly, enraged at the last two allusions, 'this here lady (pointing to the cook) keeps company with me; and when you presume, Sir, to talk of keeping chandlers' shops with her, you injure me in one of the most delicatest points in which one man can injure another. Do you understand that, Sir?'
Here Mr. Muzzle, who had a great notion of his eloquence, in which he imitated his master, paused for a reply.
But Mr. Trotter made no reply. So Mr. Muzzle proceeded in a solemn manner —
'It's very probable, sir, that you won't be wanted upstairs for several minutes, Sir, because MY master is at this moment particularly engaged in settling the hash of YOUR master, Sir; and therefore you'll have leisure, Sir, for a little private talk with me, Sir. Do you understand that, Sir?'
Mr. Muzzle again paused for a reply; and again Mr. Trotter disappointed him.
'Well, then,' said Mr. Muzzle, 'I'm very sorry to have to explain myself before ladies, but the urgency of the case will be my excuse. The back kitchen's empty, Sir. If you will step in there, Sir, Mr. Weller will see fair, and we can have mutual satisfaction till the bell rings. Follow me, Sir!'
As Mr. Muzzle uttered these words, he took a step or two towards the door; and, by way of saving time, began to pull off his coat as he walked along.
Now, the cook no sooner heard the concluding words of this desperate challenge, and saw Mr. Muzzle about to put it into execution, than she uttered a loud and piercing shriek; and rushing on Mr. Job Trotter, who rose from his chair on the instant, tore and buffeted his large flat face, with an energy peculiar to excited females, and twining her hands in his long black hair, tore therefrom about enough to make five or six dozen of the very largest-sized mourning-rings. Having accomplished this feat with all the ardour which her devoted love for Mr. Muzzle inspired, she staggered back; and being a lady of very excitable and delicate feelings, she instantly fell under the dresser, and fainted away.
At this moment, the bell rang.
'That's for you, Job Trotter,' said Sam; and before Mr. Trotter could offer remonstrance or reply — even before he had time to stanch the wounds inflicted by the insensible lady — Sam seized one arm and Mr. Muzzle the other, and one pulling before, and the other pushing behind, they conveyed him upstairs, and into the parlour.
It was an impressive tableau. Alfred Jingle, Esquire, alias Captain Fitz-Marshall, was standing near the door with his hat in his hand, and a smile on his face, wholly unmoved by his very unpleasant situation. Confronting him, stood Mr. Pickwick, who had evidently been inculcating some high moral lesson; for his left hand was beneath his coat tail, and his right extended in air, as was his wont when delivering himself of an impressive address. At a little distance, stood Mr. Tupman with indignant countenance, carefully held back by his two younger friends; at the farther end of the room were Mr. Nupkins, Mrs. Nupkins, and Miss Nupkins, gloomily grand and savagely vexed. 'What prevents me,' said Mr. Nupkins, with magisterial dignity, as Job was brought in — 'what prevents me from detaining these men as rogues and impostors? It is a foolish mercy. What prevents me?'
'Pride, old fellow, pride,' replied Jingle, quite at his ease. 'Wouldn't do — no go — caught a captain, eh? — ha! ha! very good — husband for daughter — biter bit — make it public — not for worlds — look stupid — very!'
'Wretch,' said Mr. Nupkins, 'we scorn your base insinuations.'
'I always hated him,' added Henrietta.
'Oh, of course,' said Jingle. 'Tall young man — old lover — Sidney Porkenham — rich — fine fellow — not so rich as captain, though, eh? — turn him away — off with him — anything for captain — nothing like captain anywhere — all the girls — raving mad — eh, Job, eh?'
Here Mr. Jingle laughed very heartily; and Job, rubbing his hands with delight, uttered the first sound he had given vent to since he entered the house — a low, noiseless chuckle, which seemed to intimate that he enjoyed his laugh too much, to let any of it escape in sound. 'Mr. Nupkins,' said the elder lady,'this is not a fit conversation for the servants to overhear. Let these wretches be removed.'
'Certainly, my dear,' Said Mr. Nupkins. 'Muzzle!'
'Open the front door.'
'Yes, your Worship.'
'Leave the house!' said Mr. Nupkins, waving his hand emphatically.
Jingle smiled, and moved towards the door.
'Stay!' said Mr. Pickwick. Jingle stopped.
'I might,' said Mr. Pickwick, 'have taken a much greater revenge for the treatment I have experienced at your hands, and that of your hypocritical friend there.'
Job Trotter bowed with great politeness, and laid his hand upon his heart.
'I say,' said Mr. Pickwick, growing gradually angry, 'that I might have taken a greater revenge, but I content myself with exposing you, which I consider a duty I owe to society. This is a leniency, Sir, which I hope you will remember.'
When Mr. Pickwick arrived at this point, Job Trotter, with facetious gravity, applied his hand to his ear, as if desirous not to lose a syllable he uttered.
'And I have only to add, sir,' said Mr. Pickwick, now thoroughly angry, 'that I consider you a rascal, and a — a — ruffian — and — and worse than any man I ever saw, or heard of, except that pious and sanctified vagabond in the mulberry livery.'
'Ha! ha!' said Jingle, 'good fellow, Pickwick — fine heart — stout old boy — but must NOT be passionate — bad thing, very — bye, bye — see you again some day — keep up your spirits — now, Job — trot!'
With these words, Mr. Jingle stuck on his hat in his old fashion, and strode out of the room. Job Trotter paused, looked round, smiled and then with a bow of mock solemnity to Mr. Pickwick, and a wink to Mr. Weller, the audacious slyness of which baffles all description, followed the footsteps of his hopeful master.
'Sam,' said Mr. Pickwick, as Mr. Weller was following.
'Sir.' 'Stay here.'
Mr. Weller seemed uncertain.