We only know that he paused suddenly, drew a long and deep breath, and looked anxiously on, as two of the principal members of the Dingley Dell club approached Mr. Pickwick, and said--
'We are about to partake of a plain dinner at the Blue Lion, Sir; we hope you and your friends will join us.' 'Of course,' said Mr. Wardle, 'among our friends we include Mr.--;' and he looked towards the stranger.
'Jingle,' said that versatile gentleman, taking the hint at once. 'Jingle--Alfred Jingle, Esq., of No Hall, Nowhere.'
'I shall be very happy, I am sure,' said Mr. Pickwick. 'So shall I,' said Mr. Alfred Jingle, drawing one arm through Mr. Pickwick's, and another through Mr. Wardle's, as he whispered confidentially in the ear of the former gentleman:--
'Devilish good dinner--cold, but capital--peeped into the room this morning--fowls and pies, and all that sort of thing-- pleasant fellows these--well behaved, too--very.'
There being no further preliminaries to arrange, the company straggled into the town in little knots of twos and threes; and within a quarter of an hour were all seated in the great room of the Blue Lion Inn, Muggleton--Mr. Dumkins acting as chairman, and Mr. Luffey officiating as vice.
There was a vast deal of talking and rattling of knives and forks, and plates; a great running about of three ponderous- headed waiters, and a rapid disappearance of the substantial viands on the table; to each and every of which item of confusion, the facetious Mr. Jingle lent the aid of half-a-dozen ordinary men at least. When everybody had eaten as much as possible, the cloth was removed, bottles, glasses, and dessert were placed on the table; and the waiters withdrew to 'clear away,'or in other words, to appropriate to their own private use and emolument whatever remnants of the eatables and drinkables they could contrive to lay their hands on.
Amidst the general hum of mirth and conversation that ensued, there was a little man with a puffy Say-nothing-to-me,-or-I'll- contradict-you sort of countenance, who remained very quiet; occasionally looking round him when the conversation slackened, as if he contemplated putting in something very weighty; and now and then bursting into a short cough of inexpressible grandeur. At length, during a moment of comparative silence, the little man called out in a very loud, solemn voice,--
Everybody was hushed into a profound stillness as the individual addressed, replied--
'I wish to address a few words to you, Sir, if you will entreat the gentlemen to fill their glasses.'
Mr. Jingle uttered a patronising 'Hear, hear,' which was responded to by the remainder of the company; and the glasses having been filled, the vice-president assumed an air of wisdom in a state of profound attention; and said--
'Sir,' said the little man, rising, 'I wish to address what I have to say to you and not to our worthy chairman, because our worthy chairman is in some measure--I may say in a great degree --the subject of what I have to say, or I may say to--to--' 'State,' suggested Mr. Jingle.
'Yes, to state,' said the little man, 'I thank my honourable friend, if he will allow me to call him so (four hears and one certainly from Mr. Jingle), for the suggestion. Sir, I am a Deller --a Dingley Deller (cheers). I cannot lay claim to the honour of forming an item in the population of Muggleton; nor, Sir, I will frankly admit, do I covet that honour: and I will tell you why, Sir (hear); to Muggleton I will readily concede all these honours and distinctions to which it can fairly lay claim--they are too numerous and too well known to require aid or recapitulation from me. But, sir, while we remember that Muggleton has given birth to a Dumkins and a Podder, let us never forget that Dingley Dell can boast a Luffey and a Struggles. (Vociferous cheering.) Let me not be considered as wishing to detract from the merits of the former gentlemen. Sir, I envy them the luxury of their own feelings on this occasion.