CHAPTER LVI. AN IMPORTANT CONFERENCE TAKES PLACE BETWEEN Mr. PICKWICK AND SAMUEL WELLER, AT WHICH HIS PARENT ASSISTS — AN OLD GENTLEMAN IN A SNUFF-COLOURED SUIT ARRIVES UNEXPECTEDLY
Mr. Pickwick was sitting alone, musing over many things, and thinking among other considerations how he could best provide for the young couple whose present unsettled condition was matter of constant regret and anxiety to him, when Mary stepped lightly into the room, and, advancing to the table, said, rather hastily —
'Oh, if you please, Sir, Samuel is downstairs, and he says may his father see you?'
'Surely,' replied Mr. Pickwick.
'Thank you, Sir,' said Mary, tripping towards the door again.
'Sam has not been here long, has he?' inquired Mr. Pickwick.
'Oh, no, Sir,' replied Mary eagerly. 'He has only just come home. He is not going to ask you for any more leave, Sir, he says.'
Mary might have been conscious that she had communicated this last intelligence with more warmth than seemed actually necessary, or she might have observed the good-humoured smile with which Mr. Pickwick regarded her, when she had finished speaking. She certainly held down her head, and examined the corner of a very smart little apron, with more closeness than there appeared any absolute occasion for.
'Tell them they can come up at once, by all means,' said Mr. Pickwick.
Mary, apparently much relieved, hurried away with her message.
Mr. Pickwick took two or three turns up and down the room; and, rubbing his chin with his left hand as he did so, appeared lost in thought.
'Well, well,' said Mr. Pickwick, at length in a kind but somewhat melancholy tone, 'it is the best way in which I could reward him for his attachment and fidelity; let it be so, in Heaven's name. It is the fate of a lonely old man, that those about him should form new and different attachments and leave him. I have no right to expect that it should be otherwise with me. No, no,' added Mr. Pickwick more cheerfully, 'it would be selfish and ungrateful. I ought to be happy to have an opportunity of providing for him so well. I am. Of course I am.'
Mr. Pickwick had been so absorbed in these reflections, that a knock at the door was three or four times repeated before he heard it. Hastily seating himself, and calling up his accustomed pleasant looks, he gave the required permission, and Sam Weller entered, followed by his father.
'Glad to see you back again, Sam,' said Mr. Pickwick. 'How do you do, Mr. Weller?'
'Wery hearty, thank'ee, sir,' replied the widower; 'hope I see you well, sir.'
'Quite, I thank you,' replied Mr. Pickwick.
'I wanted to have a little bit o' conwersation with you, sir,' said Mr. Weller, 'if you could spare me five minits or so, sir.'
'Certainly,' replied Mr. Pickwick. 'Sam, give your father a chair.'
'Thank'ee, Samivel, I've got a cheer here,' said Mr. Weller, bringing one forward as he spoke; 'uncommon fine day it's been, sir,' added the old gentleman, laying his hat on the floor as he sat himself down.
'Remarkably so, indeed,' replied Mr. Pickwick. 'Very seasonable.'
'Seasonablest veather I ever see, sir,' rejoined Mr. Weller. Here, the old gentleman was seized with a violent fit of coughing, which, being terminated, he nodded his head and winked and made several supplicatory and threatening gestures to his son, all of which Sam Weller steadily abstained from seeing.
Mr. Pickwick, perceiving that there was some embarrassment on the old gentleman's part, affected to be engaged in cutting the leaves of a book that lay beside him, and waited patiently until Mr. Weller should arrive at the object of his visit.
'I never see sich a aggrawatin' boy as you are, Samivel,' said Mr. Weller, looking indignantly at his son; 'never in all my born days.'
'What is he doing, Mr. Weller?' inquired Mr. Pickwick.
'He von't begin, sir,' rejoined Mr. Weller; 'he knows I ain't ekal to ex-pressin' myself ven there's anythin' partickler to be done, and yet he'll stand and see me a-settin' here taking up your walable time, and makin' a reg'lar spectacle o' myself, rayther than help me out vith a syllable. It ain't filial conduct, Samivel,' said Mr. Weller, wiping his forehead; 'wery far from it.'
'You said you'd speak,' replied Sam; 'how should I know you wos done up at the wery beginnin'?'
'You might ha' seen I warn't able to start,' rejoined his father; 'I'm on the wrong side of the road, and backin' into the palin's, and all manner of unpleasantness, and yet you von't put out a hand to help me. I'm ashamed on you, Samivel.'
'The fact is, Sir,' said Sam, with a slight bow, 'the gov'nor's been a-drawin' his money.'
'Wery good, Samivel, wery good,' said Mr. Weller, nodding his head with a satisfied air, 'I didn't mean to speak harsh to you, Sammy. Wery good. That's the vay to begin. Come to the pint at once. Wery good indeed, Samivel.'
Mr. Weller nodded his head an extraordinary number of times, in the excess of his gratification, and waited in a listening attitude for Sam to resume his statement.
'You may sit down, Sam,' said Mr. Pickwick, apprehending that the interview was likely to prove rather longer than he had expected.
Sam bowed again and sat down; his father looking round, he continued —
'The gov'nor, sir, has drawn out five hundred and thirty pound.'
'Reduced counsels,' interposed Mr. Weller, senior, in an undertone.
'It don't much matter vether it's reduced counsels, or wot not,' said Sam; 'five hundred and thirty pounds is the sum, ain't it?'
'All right, Samivel,' replied Mr. Weller.
'To vich sum, he has added for the house and bisness — '
'Lease, good-vill, stock, and fixters,' interposed Mr. Weller.
'As much as makes it,' continued Sam, 'altogether, eleven hundred and eighty pound.'
'Indeed!' said Mr. Pickwick. 'I am delighted to hear it. I congratulate you, Mr. Weller, on having done so well.'
'Vait a minit, Sir,' said Mr. Weller, raising his hand in a deprecatory manner. 'Get on, Samivel.'
'This here money,' said Sam, with a little hesitation, 'he's anxious to put someveres, vere he knows it'll be safe, and I'm wery anxious too, for if he keeps it, he'll go a-lendin' it to somebody, or inwestin' property in horses, or droppin' his pocket-book down an airy, or makin' a Egyptian mummy of his-self in some vay or another.'
'Wery good, Samivel,' observed Mr. Weller, in as complacent a manner as if Sam had been passing the highest eulogiums on his prudence and foresight. 'Wery good.'
'For vich reasons,' continued Sam, plucking nervously at the brim of his hat — 'for vich reasons, he's drawn it out to-day, and come here vith me to say, leastvays to offer, or in other vords — '
'To say this here,' said the elder Mr. Weller impatiently, 'that it ain't o' no use to me. I'm a-goin' to vork a coach reg'lar, and ha'n't got noveres to keep it in, unless I vos to pay the guard for takin' care on it, or to put it in vun o' the coach pockets, vich 'ud be a temptation to the insides. If you'll take care on it for me, sir, I shall be wery much obliged to you. P'raps,' said Mr. Weller, walking up to Mr. Pickwick and whispering in his ear — 'p'raps it'll go a little vay towards the expenses o' that 'ere conwiction. All I say is, just you keep it till I ask you for it again.' With these words, Mr. Weller placed the pocket-book in Mr. Pickwick's hands, caught up his hat, and ran out of the room with a celerity scarcely to be expected from so corpulent a subject.
'Stop him, Sam!' exclaimed Mr. Pickwick earnestly. 'Overtake him; bring him back instantly! Mr. Weller — here — come back!'
Sam saw that his master's injunctions were not to be disobeyed; and, catching his father by the arm as he was descending the stairs, dragged him back by main force.
'My good friend,' said Mr. Pickwick, taking the old man by the hand, 'your honest confidence overpowers me.'
'I don't see no occasion for nothin' o' the kind, Sir,' replied Mr. Weller obstinately.
'I assure you, my good friend, I have more money than I can ever need; far more than a man at my age can ever live to spend,' said Mr. Pickwick.
'No man knows how much he can spend, till he tries,' observed Mr. Weller.
'Perhaps not,' replied Mr. Pickwick; 'but as I have no intention of trying any such experiments, I am not likely to come to want. I must beg you to take this back, Mr. Weller.' 'Wery well,' said Mr. Weller, with a discontented look. 'Mark my vords, Sammy, I'll do somethin' desperate vith this here property; somethin' desperate!'
'You'd better not,' replied Sam.
Mr. Weller reflected for a short time, and then, buttoning up his coat with great determination, said —
'I'll keep a pike.'
'Wot!' exclaimed Sam.
'A pike!' rejoined Mr. Weller, through his set teeth; 'I'll keep a pike. Say good-bye to your father, Samivel. I dewote the remainder of my days to a pike.'
This threat was such an awful one, and Mr. Weller, besides appearing fully resolved to carry it into execution, seemed so deeply mortified by Mr. Pickwick's refusal, that that gentleman, after a short reflection, said —