'Very good, very good,' said Pell, 'you're quite right, Mr. Weller. Mrs. Pell was a very elegant and accomplished woman; her manners were the theme of universal admiration in our neighbourhood. I was proud to see that woman dance; there was something so firm and dignified, and yet natural, in her motion. Her cutting, gentlemen, was simplicity itself. Ah! well, well! Excuse my asking the question, Mr. Samuel,' continued the attorney in a lower voice, 'was your mother-in-law tall?'
'Not wery,' replied Sam.
'Mrs. Pell was a tall figure,' said Pell, 'a splendid woman, with a noble shape, and a nose, gentlemen, formed to command and be majestic. She was very much attached to me — very much — highly connected, too. Her mother's brother, gentlemen, failed for eight hundred pounds, as a law stationer.'
'Vell,' said Mr. Weller, who had grown rather restless during this discussion, 'vith regard to bis'ness.'
The word was music to Pell's ears. He had been revolving in his mind whether any business was to be transacted, or whether he had been merely invited to partake of a glass of brandy-and-water, or a bowl of punch, or any similar professional compliment, and now the doubt was set at rest without his appearing at all eager for its solution. His eyes glistened as he laid his hat on the table, and said —
'What is the business upon which — um? Either of these gentlemen wish to go through the court? We require an arrest; a friendly arrest will do, you know; we are all friends here, I suppose?'
'Give me the dockyment, Sammy,' said Mr. Weller, taking the will from his son, who appeared to enjoy the interview amazingly. 'Wot we rekvire, sir, is a probe o' this here.'
'Probate, my dear Sir, probate,' said Pell.
'Well, sir,' replied Mr. Weller sharply, 'probe and probe it, is wery much the same; if you don't understand wot I mean, sir, I des-say I can find them as does.'
'No offence, I hope, Mr. Weller,' said Pell meekly. 'You are the executor, I see,' he added, casting his eyes over the paper.
'I am, sir,' replied Mr. Weller.
'These other gentlemen, I presume, are legatees, are they?' inquired Pell, with a congratulatory smile.
'Sammy is a leg-at-ease,' replied Mr. Weller; 'these other gen'l'm'n is friends o' mine, just come to see fair; a kind of umpires.'
'Oh!' said Pell, 'very good. I have no objections, I'm sure. I shall want a matter of five pound of you before I begin, ha! ha! ha!'
It being decided by the committee that the five pound might be advanced, Mr. Weller produced that sum; after which, a long consultation about nothing particular took place, in the course whereof Mr. Pell demonstrated to the perfect satisfaction of the gentlemen who saw fair, that unless the management of the business had been intrusted to him, it must all have gone wrong, for reasons not clearly made out, but no doubt sufficient. This important point being despatched, Mr. Pell refreshed himself with three chops, and liquids both malt and spirituous, at the expense of the estate; and then they all went away to Doctors' Commons.
The next day there was another visit to Doctors' Commons, and a great to-do with an attesting hostler, who, being inebriated, declined swearing anything but profane oaths, to the great scandal of a proctor and surrogate. Next week, there were more visits to Doctors' Commons, and there was a visit to the Legacy Duty Office besides, and there were treaties entered into, for the disposal of the lease and business, and ratifications of the same, and inventories to be made out, and lunches to be taken, and dinners to be eaten, and so many profitable things to be done, and such a mass of papers accumulated that Mr. Solomon Pell, and the boy, and the blue bag to boot, all got so stout that scarcely anybody would have known them for the same man, boy, and bag, that had loitered about Portugal Street, a few days before.
At length all these weighty matters being arranged, a day was fixed for selling out and transferring the stock, and of waiting with that view upon Wilkins Flasher, Esquire, stock-broker, of somewhere near the bank, who had been recommended by Mr. Solomon Pell for the purpose.
It was a kind of festive occasion, and the parties were attired accordingly. Mr. Weller's tops were newly cleaned, and his dress was arranged with peculiar care; the mottled-faced gentleman wore at his button-hole a full-sized dahlia with several leaves; and the coats of his two friends were adorned with nosegays of laurel and other evergreens. All three were habited in strict holiday costume; that is to say, they were wrapped up to the chins, and wore as many clothes as possible, which is, and has been, a stage-coachman's idea of full dress ever since stage-coaches were invented.
Mr. Pell was waiting at the usual place of meeting at the appointed time; even he wore a pair of gloves and a clean shirt, much frayed at the collar and wristbands by frequent washings.
'A quarter to two,' said Pell, looking at the parlour clock. 'If we are with Mr. Flasher at a quarter past, we shall just hit the best time.'
'What should you say to a drop o' beer, gen'l'm'n?' suggested the mottled-faced man. 'And a little bit o' cold beef,' said the second coachman.
'Or a oyster,' added the third, who was a hoarse gentleman, supported by very round legs.
'Hear, hear!' said Pell; 'to congratulate Mr. Weller, on his coming into possession of his property, eh? Ha! ha!'
'I'm quite agreeable, gen'l'm'n,' answered Mr. Weller. 'Sammy, pull the bell.'
Sammy complied; and the porter, cold beef, and oysters being promptly produced, the lunch was done ample justice to. Where everybody took so active a part, it is almost invidious to make a distinction; but if one individual evinced greater powers than another, it was the coachman with the hoarse voice, who took an imperial pint of vinegar with his oysters, without betraying the least emotion.
'Mr. Pell, Sir,' said the elder Mr. Weller, stirring a glass of brandy-and-water, of which one was placed before every gentleman when the oyster shells were removed — 'Mr. Pell, Sir, it wos my intention to have proposed the funs on this occasion, but Samivel has vispered to me — '
Here Mr. Samuel Weller, who had silently eaten his oysters with tranquil smiles, cried, 'Hear!' in a very loud voice. — 'Has vispered to me,' resumed his father, 'that it vould be better to dewote the liquor to vishin' you success and prosperity, and thankin' you for the manner in which you've brought this here business through. Here's your health, sir.'
'Hold hard there,' interposed the mottled-faced gentleman, with sudden energy; 'your eyes on me, gen'l'm'n!'
Saying this, the mottled-faced gentleman rose, as did the other gentlemen. The mottled-faced gentleman reviewed the company, and slowly lifted his hand, upon which every man (including him of the mottled countenance) drew a long breath, and lifted his tumbler to his lips. In one instant, the mottled-faced gentleman depressed his hand again, and every glass was set down empty. It is impossible to describe the thrilling effect produced by this striking ceremony. At once dignified, solemn, and impressive, it combined every element of grandeur.
'Well, gentlemen,' said Mr. Pell, 'all I can say is, that such marks of confidence must be very gratifying to a professional man. I don't wish to say anything that might appear egotistical, gentlemen, but I'm very glad, for your own sakes, that you came to me; that's all. If you had gone to any low member of the profession, it's my firm conviction, and I assure you of it as a fact, that you would have found yourselves in Queer Street before this. I could have wished my noble friend had been alive to have seen my management of this case. I don't say it out of pride, but I think — However, gentlemen, I won't trouble you with that. I'm generally to be found here, gentlemen, but if I'm not here, or over the way, that's my address. You'll find my terms very cheap and reasonable, and no man attends more to his clients than I do, and I hope I know a little of my profession besides. If you have any opportunity of recommending me to any of your friends, gentlemen, I shall be very much obliged to you, and so will they too, when they come to know me. Your healths, gentlemen.'
With this expression of his feelings, Mr. Solomon Pell laid three small written cards before Mr. Weller's friends, and, looking at the clock again, feared it was time to be walking. Upon this hint Mr. Weller settled the bill, and, issuing forth, the executor, legatee, attorney, and umpires, directed their steps towards the city.
The office of Wilkins Flasher, Esquire, of the Stock Exchange, was in a first floor up a court behind the Bank of England; the house of Wilkins Flasher, Esquire, was at Brixton, Surrey; the horse and stanhope of Wilkins Flasher, Esquire, were at an adjacent livery stable; the groom of Wilkins Flasher, Esquire, was on his way to the West End to deliver some game; the clerk of Wilkins Flasher, Esquire, had gone to his dinner; and so Wilkins Flasher, Esquire, himself, cried, 'Come in,' when Mr. Pell and his companions knocked at the counting-house door.
'Good-morning, Sir,' said Pell, bowing obsequiously. 'We want to make a little transfer, if you please.'
'Oh, just come in, will you?' said Mr. Flasher. 'Sit down a minute; I'll attend to you directly.'
'Thank you, Sir,' said Pell, 'there's no hurry. Take a chair, Mr. Weller.'
Mr. Weller took a chair, and Sam took a box, and the umpires took what they could get, and looked at the almanac and one or two papers which were wafered against the wall, with as much open-eyed reverence as if they had been the finest efforts of the old masters.
'Well, I'll bet you half a dozen of claret on it; come!' said Wilkins Flasher, Esquire, resuming the conversation to which Mr. Pell's entrance had caused a momentary interruption.
This was addressed to a very smart young gentleman who wore his hat on his right whisker, and was lounging over the desk, killing flies with a ruler. Wilkins Flasher, Esquire, was balancing himself on two legs of an office stool, spearing a wafer-box with a penknife, which he dropped every now and then with great dexterity into the very centre of a small red wafer that was stuck outside. Both gentlemen had very open waistcoats and very rolling collars, and very small boots, and very big rings, and very little watches, and very large guard-chains, and symmetrical inexpressibles, and scented pocket-handkerchiefs.
'I never bet half a dozen!' said the other gentleman. 'I'll take a dozen.'
'Done, Simmery, done!' said Wilkins Flasher, Esquire.
'P. P., mind,' observed the other.
'Of course,' replied Wilkins Flasher, Esquire. Wilkins Flasher, Esquire, entered it in a little book, with a gold pencil-case, and the other gentleman entered it also, in another little book with another gold pencil-case.