Vanity Fair By William Makepeace Thackeray Chapters 5-7

"So it is, Joe," cried the Baronet, approvingly; "and I'd like to see the man can do me."

"So should oi," said Joe, grinning sulkily, and mounting the Baronet's baggage on the roof of the coach.

"Keep the box for me, Leader," exclaims the Member of Parliament to the coachman; who replied, "Yes, Sir Pitt," with a touch of his hat, and rage in his soul (for he had promised the box to a young gentleman from Cambridge, who would have given a crown to a certainty), and Miss Sharp was accommodated with a back seat inside the carriage, which might be said to be carrying her into the wide world.

How the young man from Cambridge sulkily put his five great-coats in front; but was reconciled when little Miss Sharp was made to quit the carriage, and mount up beside him — when he covered her up in one of his Benjamins, and became perfectly good-humoured — how the asthmatic gentleman, the prim lady, who declared upon her sacred honour she had never travelled in a public carriage before (there is always such a lady in a coach — Alas! was; for the coaches, where are they?), and the fat widow with the brandy-bottle, took their places inside — how the porter asked them all for money, and got sixpence from the gentleman and five greasy halfpence from the fat widow — and how the carriage at length drove away — now threading the dark lanes of Aldersgate, anon clattering by the Blue Cupola of St. Paul's, jingling rapidly by the strangers' entry of Fleet-Market, which, with Exeter 'Change, has now departed to the world of shadows — how they passed the White Bear in Piccadilly, and saw the dew rising up from the market-gardens of Knightsbridge — how Turnhamgreen, Brentwood, Bagshot, were passed — need not be told here. But the writer of these pages, who has pursued in former days, and in the same bright weather, the same remarkable journey, cannot but think of it with a sweet and tender regret. Where is the road now, and its merry incidents of life? Is there no Chelsea or Greenwich for the old honest pimple-nosed coachmen? I wonder where are they, those good fellows? Is old Weller alive or dead? and the waiters, yea, and the inns at which they waited, and the cold rounds of beef inside, and the stunted ostler, with his blue nose and clinking pail, where is he, and where is his generation? To those great geniuses now in petticoats, who shall write novels for the beloved reader's children, these men and things will be as much legend and history as Nineveh, or Coeur de Lion, or Jack Sheppard. For them stage-coaches will have become romances — a team of four bays as fabulous as Bucephalus or Black Bess. Ah, how their coats shone, as the stable-men pulled their clothes off, and away they went — ah, how their tails shook, as with smoking sides at the stage's end they demurely walked away into the inn-yard. Alas! we shall never hear the horn sing at midnight, or see the pike-gates fly open any more. Whither, however, is the light four-inside Trafalgar coach carrying us? Let us be set down at Queen's Crawley without further divagation, and see how Miss Rebecca Sharp speeds there.

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