'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.
'Vell, now,' said Sam, 'about my affair. Just open them ears o' yourn, and don't say nothin' till I've done.' With this preface, Sam related, as succinctly as he could, the last memorable conversation he had had with Mr. Pickwick.
'Stop there by himself, poor creetur!' exclaimed the elder Mr. Weller, 'without nobody to take his part! It can't be done, Samivel, it can't be done.'
'O' course it can't,' asserted Sam: 'I know'd that, afore I came.' 'Why, they'll eat him up alive, Sammy,'exclaimed Mr. Weller.
Sam nodded his concurrence in the opinion.
'He goes in rayther raw, Sammy,' said Mr. Weller metaphorically, 'and he'll come out, done so ex-ceedin' brown, that his most formiliar friends won't know him. Roast pigeon's nothin' to it, Sammy.'
Again Sam Weller nodded.
'It oughtn't to be, Samivel,' said Mr. Weller gravely.
'It mustn't be,' said Sam.
'Cert'nly not,' said Mr. Weller.
'Vell now,' said Sam, 'you've been a-prophecyin' away, wery fine, like a red-faced Nixon, as the sixpenny books gives picters on.'
'Who wos he, Sammy?' inquired Mr. Weller.
'Never mind who he was,' retorted Sam; 'he warn't a coachman; that's enough for you.' 'I know'd a ostler o' that name,' said Mr. Weller, musing.
'It warn't him,' said Sam. 'This here gen'l'm'n was a prophet.'
'Wot's a prophet?' inquired Mr. Weller, looking sternly on his son.
'Wy, a man as tells what's a-goin' to happen,' replied Sam.
'I wish I'd know'd him, Sammy,' said Mr. Weller. 'P'raps he might ha' throw'd a small light on that 'ere liver complaint as we wos a-speakin' on, just now. Hows'ever, if he's dead, and ain't left the bisness to nobody, there's an end on it. Go on, Sammy,' said Mr. Weller, with a sigh.
'Well,' said Sam, 'you've been a-prophecyin' avay about wot'll happen to the gov'ner if he's left alone. Don't you see any way o' takin' care on him?'
'No, I don't, Sammy,' said Mr. Weller, with a reflective visage.
'No vay at all?' inquired Sam.
'No vay,' said Mr. Weller, 'unless' — and a gleam of intelligence lighted up his countenance as he sank his voice to a whisper, and applied his mouth to the ear of his offspring — 'unless it is getting him out in a turn-up bedstead, unbeknown to the turnkeys, Sammy, or dressin' him up like a old 'ooman vith a green wail.'
Sam Weller received both of these suggestions with unexpected contempt, and again propounded his question.
'No,' said the old gentleman; 'if he von't let you stop there, I see no vay at all. It's no thoroughfare, Sammy, no thoroughfare.'
'Well, then, I'll tell you wot it is,' said Sam, 'I'll trouble you for the loan of five-and-twenty pound.'
'Wot good'll that do?' inquired Mr. Weller.
'Never mind,' replied Sam. 'P'raps you may ask for it five minits arterwards; p'raps I may say I von't pay, and cut up rough. You von't think o' arrestin' your own son for the money, and sendin' him off to the Fleet, will you, you unnat'ral wagabone?'
At this reply of Sam's, the father and son exchanged a complete code of telegraph nods and gestures, after which, the elder Mr. Weller sat himself down on a stone step and laughed till he was purple.
'Wot a old image it is!' exclaimed Sam, indignant at this loss of time. 'What are you a-settin' down there for, con-wertin' your face into a street-door knocker, wen there's so much to be done. Where's the money?' 'In the boot, Sammy, in the boot,' replied Mr. Weller, composing his features. 'Hold my hat, Sammy.'
Having divested himself of this encumbrance, Mr. Weller gave his body a sudden wrench to one side, and by a dexterous twist, contrived to get his right hand into a most capacious pocket, from whence, after a great deal of panting and exertion, he extricated a pocket-book of the large octavo size, fastened by a huge leathern strap. From this ledger he drew forth a couple of whiplashes, three or four buckles, a little sample-bag of corn, and, finally, a small roll of very dirty bank-notes, from which he selected the required amount, which he handed over to Sam.
'And now, Sammy,' said the old gentleman, when the whip-lashes, and the buckles, and the samples, had been all put back, and the book once more deposited at the bottom of the same pocket, 'now, Sammy, I know a gen'l'm'n here, as'll do the rest o' the bisness for us, in no time — a limb o' the law, Sammy, as has got brains like the frogs, dispersed all over his body, and reachin' to the wery tips of his fingers; a friend of the Lord Chancellorship's, Sammy, who'd only have to tell him what he wanted, and he'd lock you up for life, if that wos all.'
'I say,' said Sam, 'none o' that.'
'None o' wot?' inquired Mr. Weller.
'Wy, none o' them unconstitootional ways o' doin' it,' retorted Sam. 'The have-his-carcass, next to the perpetual motion, is vun of the blessedest things as wos ever made. I've read that 'ere in the newspapers wery of'en.'
'Well, wot's that got to do vith it?' inquired Mr. Weller.
'Just this here,' said Sam, 'that I'll patronise the inwention, and go in, that vay. No visperin's to the Chancellorship — I don't like the notion. It mayn't be altogether safe, vith reference to gettin' out agin.'
Deferring to his son's feeling upon this point, Mr. Weller at once sought the erudite Solomon Pell, and acquainted him with his desire to issue a writ, instantly, for the SUM of twenty-five pounds, and costs of process; to be executed without delay upon the body of one Samuel Weller; the charges thereby incurred, to be paid in advance to Solomon Pell.