'Not worth while splitting a guinea,' said the stranger, 'toss who shall pay for both--I call; you spin--first time--woman-- woman--bewitching woman,' and down came the sovereign with the dragon (called by courtesy a woman) uppermost.
Mr. Tupman rang the bell, purchased the tickets, and ordered chamber candlesticks. In another quarter of an hour the stranger was completely arrayed in a full suit of Mr. Nathaniel Winkle's.
'It's a new coat,' said Mr. Tupman, as the stranger surveyed himself with great complacency in a cheval glass; 'the first that's been made with our club button,' and he called his companions' attention to the large gilt button which displayed a bust of Mr. Pickwick in the centre, and the letters 'P. C.' on either side.
'"P. C."' said the stranger--'queer set out--old fellow's likeness, and "P. C."--What does "P. C." stand for--Peculiar Coat, eh?'
Mr. Tupman, with rising indignation and great importance, explained the mystic device.
'Rather short in the waist, ain't it?' said the stranger, screwing himself round to catch a glimpse in the glass of the waist buttons, which were half-way up his back. 'Like a general postman's coat --queer coats those--made by contract--no measuring-- mysterious dispensations of Providence--all the short men get long coats--all the long men short ones.' Running on in this way, Mr. Tupman's new companion adjusted his dress, or rather the dress of Mr. Winkle; and, accompanied by Mr. Tupman, ascended the staircase leading to the ballroom.
'What names, sir?' said the man at the door. Mr. Tracy Tupman was stepping forward to announce his own titles, when the stranger prevented him.
'No names at all;' and then he whispered Mr. Tupman, 'names won't do--not known--very good names in their way, but not great ones--capital names for a small party, but won't make an impression in public assemblies--incog. the thing-- gentlemen from London--distinguished foreigners--anything.' The door was thrown open, and Mr. Tracy Tupman and the stranger entered the ballroom.
It was a long room, with crimson-covered benches, and wax candles in glass chandeliers. The musicians were securely confined in an elevated den, and quadrilles were being systematically got through by two or three sets of dancers. Two card-tables were made up in the adjoining card-room, and two pair of old ladies, and a corresponding number of stout gentlemen, were executing whist therein.
The finale concluded, the dancers promenaded the room, and Mr. Tupman and his companion stationed themselves in a corner to observe the company.
'Charming women,' said Mr. Tupman.
'Wait a minute,' said the stranger, 'fun presently--nobs not come yet--queer place--dockyard people of upper rank don't know dockyard people of lower rank--dockyard people of lower rank don't know small gentry--small gentry don't know tradespeople--commissioner don't know anybody.'
'Who's that little boy with the light hair and pink eyes, in a fancy dress?'inquired Mr. Tupman.
'Hush, pray--pink eyes--fancy dress--little boy--nonsense-- ensign 97th--Honourable Wilmot Snipe--great family--Snipes--very.'
'Sir Thomas Clubber, Lady Clubber, and the Misses Clubber!' shouted the man at the door in a stentorian voice. A great sensation was created throughout the room by the entrance of a tall gentleman in a blue coat and bright buttons, a large lady in blue satin, and two young ladies, on a similar scale, in fashionably- made dresses of the same hue.
'Commissioner--head of the yard--great man--remarkably great man,' whispered the stranger in Mr. Tupman's ear, as the charitable committee ushered Sir Thomas Clubber and family to the top of the room. The Honourable Wilmot Snipe, and other distinguished gentlemen crowded to render homage to the Misses Clubber; and Sir Thomas Clubber stood bolt upright, and looked majestically over his black kerchief at the assembled company.
'Mr. Smithie, Mrs. Smithie, and the Misses Smithie,' was the next announcement.