'Well, well, Mr. Weller, I will keep your money. I can do more good with it, perhaps, than you can.'
'Just the wery thing, to be sure,' said Mr. Weller, brightening up; 'o' course you can, sir.'
'Say no more about it,' said Mr. Pickwick, locking the pocket-book in his desk; 'I am heartily obliged to you, my good friend. Now sit down again. I want to ask your advice.'
The internal laughter occasioned by the triumphant success of his visit, which had convulsed not only Mr. Weller's face, but his arms, legs, and body also, during the locking up of the pocket-book, suddenly gave place to the most dignified gravity as he heard these words.
'Wait outside a few minutes, Sam, will you?' said Mr. Pickwick.
Sam immediately withdrew.
Mr. Weller looked uncommonly wise and very much amazed, when Mr. Pickwick opened the discourse by saying —
'You are not an advocate for matrimony, I think, Mr. Weller?'
Mr. Weller shook his head. He was wholly unable to speak; vague thoughts of some wicked widow having been successful in her designs on Mr. Pickwick, choked his utterance.
'Did you happen to see a young girl downstairs when you came in just now with your son?' inquired Mr. Pickwick.
'Yes. I see a young gal,' replied Mr. Weller shortly.
'What did you think of her, now? Candidly, Mr. Weller, what did you think of her?'
'I thought she wos wery plump, and vell made,' said Mr. Weller, with a critical air.
'So she is,' said Mr. Pickwick, 'so she is. What did you think of her manners, from what you saw of her?'
'Wery pleasant,' rejoined Mr. Weller. 'Wery pleasant and comformable.'
The precise meaning which Mr. Weller attached to this last-mentioned adjective, did not appear; but, as it was evident from the tone in which he used it that it was a favourable expression, Mr. Pickwick was as well satisfied as if he had been thoroughly enlightened on the subject.
'I take a great interest in her, Mr. Weller,' said Mr. Pickwick.
Mr. Weller coughed.
'I mean an interest in her doing well,' resumed Mr. Pickwick; 'a desire that she may be comfortable and prosperous. You understand?'
'Wery clearly,' replied Mr. Weller, who understood nothing yet.
'That young person,' said Mr. Pickwick, 'is attached to your son.'
'To Samivel Veller!' exclaimed the parent.
'Yes,' said Mr. Pickwick.
'It's nat'ral,' said Mr. Weller, after some consideration, 'nat'ral, but rayther alarmin'. Sammy must be careful.'
'How do you mean?' inquired Mr. Pickwick.
'Wery careful that he don't say nothin' to her,' responded Mr. Weller. 'Wery careful that he ain't led avay, in a innocent moment, to say anythin' as may lead to a conwiction for breach. You're never safe vith 'em, Mr. Pickwick, ven they vunce has designs on you; there's no knowin' vere to have 'em; and vile you're a-considering of it, they have you. I wos married fust, that vay myself, Sir, and Sammy wos the consekens o' the manoover.'
'You give me no great encouragement to conclude what I have to say,' observed Mr. Pickwick, 'but I had better do so at once. This young person is not only attached to your son, Mr. Weller, but your son is attached to her.'
'Vell,' said Mr. Weller, 'this here's a pretty sort o' thing to come to a father's ears, this is!'
'I have observed them on several occasions,' said Mr. Pickwick, making no comment on Mr. Weller's last remark; 'and entertain no doubt at all about it. Supposing I were desirous of establishing them comfortably as man and wife in some little business or situation, where they might hope to obtain a decent living, what should you think of it, Mr. Weller?'
At first, Mr. Weller received with wry faces a proposition involving the marriage of anybody in whom he took an interest; but, as Mr. Pickwick argued the point with him, and laid great stress on the fact that Mary was not a widow, he gradually became more tractable. Mr. Pickwick had great influence over him, and he had been much struck with Mary's appearance; having, in fact, bestowed several very unfatherly winks upon her, already. At length he said that it was not for him to oppose Mr. Pickwick's inclination, and that he would be very happy to yield to his advice; upon which, Mr. Pickwick joyfully took him at his word, and called Sam back into the room.
'Sam,' said Mr. Pickwick, clearing his throat, 'your father and I have been having some conversation about you.'
'About you, Samivel,' said Mr. Weller, in a patronising and impressive voice.
'I am not so blind, Sam, as not to have seen, a long time since, that you entertain something more than a friendly feeling towards Mrs. Winkle's maid,' said Mr. Pickwick.
'You hear this, Samivel?' said Mr. Weller, in the same judicial form of speech as before.
'I hope, Sir,' said Sam, addressing his master, 'I hope there's no harm in a young man takin' notice of a young 'ooman as is undeniably good-looking and well-conducted.'
'Certainly not,' said Mr. Pickwick.
'Not by no means,' acquiesced Mr. Weller, affably but magisterially.
'So far from thinking there is anything wrong in conduct so natural,' resumed Mr. Pickwick, 'it is my wish to assist and promote your wishes in this respect. With this view, I have had a little conversation with your father; and finding that he is of my opinion — '
'The lady not bein' a widder,' interposed Mr. Weller in explanation.
'The lady not being a widow,' said Mr. Pickwick, smiling. 'I wish to free you from the restraint which your present position imposes upon you, and to mark my sense of your fidelity and many excellent qualities, by enabling you to marry this girl at once, and to earn an independent livelihood for yourself and family. I shall be proud, Sam,' said Mr. Pickwick, whose voice had faltered a little hitherto, but now resumed its customary tone, 'proud and happy to make your future prospects in life my grateful and peculiar care.'
There was a profound silence for a short time, and then Sam said, in a low, husky sort of voice, but firmly withal —
'I'm very much obliged to you for your goodness, Sir, as is only like yourself; but it can't be done.'
'Can't be done!' ejaculated Mr. Pickwick in astonishment.
'Samivel!' said Mr. Weller, with dignity.
'I say it can't be done,' repeated Sam in a louder key. 'Wot's to become of you, Sir?'
'My good fellow,' replied Mr. Pickwick, 'the recent changes among my friends will alter my mode of life in future, entirely; besides, I am growing older, and want repose and quiet. My rambles, Sam, are over.'
'How do I know that 'ere, sir?' argued Sam. 'You think so now! S'pose you wos to change your mind, vich is not unlikely, for you've the spirit o' five-and-twenty in you still, what 'ud become on you vithout me? It can't be done, Sir, it can't be done.'
'Wery good, Samivel, there's a good deal in that,' said Mr. Weller encouragingly.
'I speak after long deliberation, Sam, and with the certainty that I shall keep my word,' said Mr. Pickwick, shaking his head. 'New scenes have closed upon me; my rambles are at an end.'
'Wery good,' rejoined Sam. 'Then, that's the wery best reason wy you should alvays have somebody by you as understands you, to keep you up and make you comfortable. If you vant a more polished sort o' feller, vell and good, have him; but vages or no vages, notice or no notice, board or no board, lodgin' or no lodgin', Sam Veller, as you took from the old inn in the Borough, sticks by you, come what may; and let ev'rythin' and ev'rybody do their wery fiercest, nothin' shall ever perwent it!'
At the close of this declaration, which Sam made with great emotion, the elder Mr. Weller rose from his chair, and, forgetting all considerations of time, place, or propriety, waved his hat above his head, and gave three vehement cheers.
'My good fellow,' said Mr. Pickwick, when Mr. Weller had sat down again, rather abashed at his own enthusiasm, 'you are bound to consider the young woman also.'
'I do consider the young 'ooman, Sir,' said Sam. 'I have considered the young 'ooman. I've spoke to her. I've told her how I'm sitivated; she's ready to vait till I'm ready, and I believe she vill. If she don't, she's not the young 'ooman I take her for, and I give her up vith readiness. You've know'd me afore, Sir. My mind's made up, and nothin' can ever alter it.'
Who could combat this resolution? Not Mr. Pickwick. He derived, at that moment, more pride and luxury of feeling from the disinterested attachment of his humble friends, than ten thousand protestations from the greatest men living could have awakened in his heart.
While this conversation was passing in Mr. Pickwick's room, a little old gentleman in a suit of snuff-coloured clothes, followed by a porter carrying a small portmanteau, presented himself below; and, after securing a bed for the night, inquired of the waiter whether one Mrs. Winkle was staying there, to which question the waiter of course responded in the affirmative.
'Is she alone?' inquired the old gentleman.
'I believe she is, Sir,' replied the waiter; 'I can call her own maid, Sir, if you — '
'No, I don't want her,' said the old gentleman quickly. 'Show me to her room without announcing me.'
'Eh, Sir?' said the waiter.
'Are you deaf?' inquired the little old gentleman.