The boy sighed deeply, and, bestowing an ardent gaze upon its plumpness, unwillingly consigned it to his master.
'That's right--look sharp. Now the tongue--now the pigeon pie. Take care of that veal and ham--mind the lobsters--take the salad out of the cloth--give me the dressing.' Such were the hurried orders which issued from the lips of Mr. Wardle, as he handed in the different articles described, and placed dishes in everybody's hands, and on everybody's knees, in endless number. 'Now ain't this capital?' inquired that jolly personage, when the work of destruction had commenced.
'Capital!' said Mr. Winkle, who was carving a fowl on the box.
'Glass of wine?'
'With the greatest pleasure.' 'You'd better have a bottle to yourself up there, hadn't you?'
'You're very good.'
'Yes, Sir.' (He wasn't asleep this time, having just succeeded in abstracting a veal patty.)
'Bottle of wine to the gentleman on the box. Glad to see you, Sir.'
'Thank'ee.' Mr. Winkle emptied his glass, and placed the bottle on the coach-box, by his side.
'Will you permit me to have the pleasure, Sir?' said Mr. Trundle to Mr. Winkle.
'With great pleasure,' replied Mr. Winkle to Mr. Trundle, and then the two gentlemen took wine, after which they took a glass of wine round, ladies and all.
'How dear Emily is flirting with the strange gentleman,' whispered the spinster aunt, with true spinster-aunt-like envy, to her brother, Mr. Wardle.
'Oh! I don't know,' said the jolly old gentleman; 'all very natural, I dare say--nothing unusual. Mr. Pickwick, some wine, Sir?' Mr. Pickwick, who had been deeply investigating the interior of the pigeon-pie, readily assented.
'Emily, my dear,' said the spinster aunt, with a patronising air, 'don't talk so loud, love.'
'Aunt and the little old gentleman want to have it all to themselves, I think,' whispered Miss Isabella Wardle to her sister Emily. The young ladies laughed very heartily, and the old one tried to look amiable, but couldn't manage it.
'Young girls have such spirits,' said Miss Wardle to Mr. Tupman, with an air of gentle commiseration, as if animal spirits were contraband, and their possession without a permit a high crime and misdemeanour.
'Oh, they have,' replied Mr. Tupman, not exactly making the sort of reply that was expected from him. 'It's quite delightful.'
'Hem!' said Miss Wardle, rather dubiously.
'Will you permit me?' said Mr. Tupman, in his blandest manner, touching the enchanting Rachael's wrist with one hand, and gently elevating the bottle with the other. 'Will you permit me?'
'Oh, sir!' Mr. Tupman looked most impressive; and Rachael expressed her fear that more guns were going off, in which case, of course, she should have required support again.
'Do you think my dear nieces pretty?' whispered their affectionate aunt to Mr. Tupman.
'I should, if their aunt wasn't here,' replied the ready Pickwickian, with a passionate glance.
'Oh, you naughty man--but really, if their complexions were a little better, don't you think they would be nice-looking girls-- by candlelight?'
'Yes; I think they would,' said Mr. Tupman, with an air of indifference.
'Oh, you quiz--I know what you were going to say.'
'What?' inquired Mr. Tupman, who had not precisely made up his mind to say anything at all.
'You were going to say that Isabel stoops--I know you were-- you men are such observers. Well, so she does; it can't be denied; and, certainly, if there is one thing more than another that makes a girl look ugly it is stooping. I often tell her that when she gets a little older she'll be quite frightful. Well, you are a quiz!'
Mr. Tupman had no objection to earning the reputation at so cheap a rate: so he looked very knowing, and smiled mysteriously.
'What a sarcastic smile,' said the admiring Rachael; 'I declare I'm quite afraid of you.'
'Afraid of me!'
'Oh, you can't disguise anything from me--I know what that smile means very well.'
'What?' said Mr.