The attorney was in high glee, for the embarrassed coach-horser was ordered to be discharged forthwith. He highly approved of Sam's attachment to his master; declared that it strongly reminded him of his own feelings of devotion to his friend, the Chancellor; and at once led the elder Mr. Weller down to the Temple, to swear the affidavit of debt, which the boy, with the assistance of the blue bag, had drawn up on the spot.
Meanwhile, Sam, having been formally introduced to the whitewashed gentleman and his friends, as the offspring of Mr. Weller, of the Belle Savage, was treated with marked distinction, and invited to regale himself with them in honour of the occasion — an invitation which he was by no means backward in accepting.
The mirth of gentlemen of this class is of a grave and quiet character, usually; but the present instance was one of peculiar festivity, and they relaxed in proportion. After some rather tumultuous toasting of the Chief Commissioner and Mr. Solomon Pell, who had that day displayed such transcendent abilities, a mottled-faced gentleman in a blue shawl proposed that somebody should sing a song. The obvious suggestion was, that the mottled-faced gentleman, being anxious for a song, should sing it himself; but this the mottled-faced gentleman sturdily, and somewhat offensively, declined to do. Upon which, as is not unusual in such cases, a rather angry colloquy ensued.
'Gentlemen,' said the coach-horser, 'rather than disturb the harmony of this delightful occasion, perhaps Mr. Samuel Weller will oblige the company.'
'Raly, gentlemen,' said Sam, 'I'm not wery much in the habit o' singin' without the instrument; but anythin' for a quiet life, as the man said wen he took the sitivation at the lighthouse.'
With this prelude, Mr. Samuel Weller burst at once into the following wild and beautiful legend, which, under the impression that it is not generally known, we take the liberty of quoting. We would beg to call particular attention to the monosyllable at the end of the second and fourth lines, which not only enables the singer to take breath at those points, but greatly assists the metre.
Bold Turpin vunce, on Hounslow Heath, His bold mare Bess bestrode-er; Ven there he see'd the Bishop's coach A-coming along the road-er. So he gallops close to the 'orse's legs, And he claps his head vithin; And the Bishop says, 'Sure as eggs is eggs, This here's the bold Turpin!'
And the Bishop says, 'Sure as eggs is eggs, This here's the bold Turpin!'
Says Turpin, 'You shall eat your words, With a sarse of leaden bul-let;' So he puts a pistol to his mouth, And he fires it down his gul-let. The coachman he not likin' the job, Set off at full gal-lop, But Dick put a couple of balls in his nob, And perwailed on him to stop.
But Dick put a couple of balls in his nob, And perwailed on him to stop.
'I maintain that that 'ere song's personal to the cloth,' said the mottled-faced gentleman, interrupting it at this point. 'I demand the name o' that coachman.'
'Nobody know'd,' replied Sam. 'He hadn't got his card in his pocket.'
'I object to the introduction o' politics,' said the mottled-faced gentleman. 'I submit that, in the present company, that 'ere song's political; and, wot's much the same, that it ain't true. I say that that coachman did not run away; but that he died game — game as pheasants; and I won't hear nothin' said to the contrairey.'
As the mottled-faced gentleman spoke with great energy and determination, and as the opinions of the company seemed divided on the subject, it threatened to give rise to fresh altercation, when Mr. Weller and Mr. Pell most opportunely arrived.
'All right, Sammy,' said Mr. Weller.
'The officer will be here at four o'clock,' said Mr. Pell. 'I suppose you won't run away meanwhile, eh? Ha! ha!'
'P'raps my cruel pa 'ull relent afore then,' replied Sam, with a broad grin.
'Not I,' said the elder Mr. Weller.
'Do,' said Sam.
'Not on no account,' replied the inexorable creditor.
'I'll give bills for the amount, at sixpence a month,' said Sam.
'I won't take 'em,' said Mr. Weller.
'Ha, ha, ha! very good, very good,' said Mr. Solomon Pell, who was making out his little bill of costs; 'a very amusing incident indeed! Benjamin, copy that.' And Mr. Pell smiled again, as he called Mr. Weller's attention to the amount.
'Thank you, thank you,' said the professional gentleman, taking up another of the greasy notes as Mr. Weller took it from the pocket-book. 'Three ten and one ten is five. Much obliged to you, Mr. Weller. Your son is a most deserving young man, very much so indeed, Sir. It's a very pleasant trait in a young man's character, very much so,' added Mr. Pell, smiling smoothly round, as he buttoned up the money.
'Wot a game it is!' said the elder Mr. Weller, with a chuckle. 'A reg'lar prodigy son!'
'Prodigal — prodigal son, Sir,' suggested Mr. Pell, mildly.
'Never mind, Sir,' said Mr. Weller, with dignity. 'I know wot's o'clock, Sir. Wen I don't, I'll ask you, Sir.'
By the time the officer arrived, Sam had made himself so extremely popular, that the congregated gentlemen determined to see him to prison in a body. So off they set; the plaintiff and defendant walking arm in arm, the officer in front, and eight stout coachmen bringing up the rear. At Serjeant's Inn Coffee-house the whole party halted to refresh, and, the legal arrangements being completed, the procession moved on again.
Some little commotion was occasioned in Fleet Street, by the pleasantry of the eight gentlemen in the flank, who persevered in walking four abreast; it was also found necessary to leave the mottled-faced gentleman behind, to fight a ticket-porter, it being arranged that his friends should call for him as they came back. Nothing but these little incidents occurred on the way. When they reached the gate of the Fleet, the cavalcade, taking the time from the plaintiff, gave three tremendous cheers for the defendant, and, after having shaken hands all round, left him.
Sam, having been formally delivered into the warder's custody, to the intense astonishment of Roker, and to the evident emotion of even the phlegmatic Neddy, passed at once into the prison, walked straight to his master's room, and knocked at the door.
'Come in,' said Mr. Pickwick.
Sam appeared, pulled off his hat, and smiled.
'Ah, Sam, my good lad!' said Mr. Pickwick, evidently delighted to see his humble friend again; 'I had no intention of hurting your feelings yesterday, my faithful fellow, by what I said. Put down your hat, Sam, and let me explain my meaning, a little more at length.'
'Won't presently do, sir?' inquired Sam.
'Certainly,' said Mr. Pickwick; 'but why not now?'
'I'd rayther not now, sir,' rejoined Sam.
'Why?' inquired Mr. Pickwick.
''Cause — ' said Sam, hesitating.
'Because of what?' inquired Mr. Pickwick, alarmed at his follower's manner. 'Speak out, Sam.'
''Cause,' rejoined Sam — ''cause I've got a little bisness as I want to do.'
'What business?' inquired Mr. Pickwick, surprised at Sam's confused manner.
'Nothin' partickler, Sir,' replied Sam.
'Oh, if it's nothing particular,' said Mr. Pickwick, with a smile, 'you can speak with me first.'
'I think I'd better see arter it at once,' said Sam, still hesitating.
Mr. Pickwick looked amazed, but said nothing.
'The fact is — ' said Sam, stopping short.
'Well!' said Mr. Pickwick. 'Speak out, Sam.'
'Why, the fact is,' said Sam, with a desperate effort, 'perhaps I'd better see arter my bed afore I do anythin' else.'
'YOUR BED!' exclaimed Mr. Pickwick, in astonishment.
'Yes, my bed, Sir,' replied Sam, 'I'm a prisoner. I was arrested this here wery arternoon for debt.'
'You arrested for debt!' exclaimed Mr. Pickwick, sinking into a chair.
'Yes, for debt, Sir,' replied Sam. 'And the man as puts me in, 'ull never let me out till you go yourself.'
'Bless my heart and soul!' ejaculated Mr. Pickwick. 'What do you mean?'
'Wot I say, Sir,' rejoined Sam. 'If it's forty years to come, I shall be a prisoner, and I'm very glad on it; and if it had been Newgate, it would ha' been just the same. Now the murder's out, and, damme, there's an end on it!'
With these words, which he repeated with great emphasis and violence, Sam Weller dashed his hat upon the ground, in a most unusual state of excitement; and then, folding his arms, looked firmly and fixedly in his master's face.