Pickwick's friend, Mr. Jingle, come 'pon --little visit.'
'Is anything the matter with Mr. Snodgrass, Sir?' inquired Emily, with great anxiety.
'Nothing the matter, ma'am,' replied the stranger. 'Cricket dinner--glorious party--capital songs--old port--claret--good --very good--wine, ma'am--wine.'
'It wasn't the wine,' murmured Mr. Snodgrass, in a broken voice. 'It was the salmon.' (Somehow or other, it never is the wine, in these cases.)
'Hadn't they better go to bed, ma'am?' inquired Emma. 'Two of the boys will carry the gentlemen upstairs.'
'I won't go to bed,' said Mr. Winkle firmly.
'No living boy shall carry me,' said Mr. Pickwick stoutly; and he went on smiling as before. 'Hurrah!' gasped Mr. Winkle faintly.
'Hurrah!' echoed Mr. Pickwick, taking off his hat and dashing it on the floor, and insanely casting his spectacles into the middle of the kitchen. At this humorous feat he laughed outright.
'Let's--have--'nother--bottle,'cried Mr. Winkle, commencing in a very loud key, and ending in a very faint one. His head dropped upon his breast; and, muttering his invincible determination not to go to his bed, and a sanguinary regret that he had not 'done for old Tupman' in the morning, he fell fast asleep; in which condition he was borne to his apartment by two young giants under the personal superintendence of the fat boy, to whose protecting care Mr. Snodgrass shortly afterwards confided his own person, Mr. Pickwick accepted the proffered arm of Mr. Tupman and quietly disappeared, smiling more than ever; and Mr. Wardle, after taking as affectionate a leave of the whole family as if he were ordered for immediate execution, consigned to Mr. Trundle the honour of conveying him upstairs, and retired, with a very futile attempt to look impressively solemn and dignified. 'What a shocking scene!' said the spinster aunt.
'Dis-gusting!' ejaculated both the young ladies.
'Dreadful--dreadful!' said Jingle, looking very grave: he was about a bottle and a half ahead of any of his companions. 'Horrid spectacle--very!'
'What a nice man!' whispered the spinster aunt to Mr. Tupman.
'Good-looking, too!' whispered Emily Wardle.
'Oh, decidedly,' observed the spinster aunt.
Mr. Tupman thought of the widow at Rochester, and his mind was troubled. The succeeding half-hour's conversation was not of a nature to calm his perturbed spirit. The new visitor was very talkative, and the number of his anecdotes was only to be exceeded by the extent of his politeness. Mr. Tupman felt that as Jingle's popularity increased, he (Tupman) retired further into the shade. His laughter was forced--his merriment feigned; and when at last he laid his aching temples between the sheets, he thought, with horrid delight, on the satisfaction it would afford him to have Jingle's head at that moment between the feather bed and the mattress.
The indefatigable stranger rose betimes next morning, and, although his companions remained in bed overpowered with the dissipation of the previous night, exerted himself most successfully to promote the hilarity of the breakfast-table. So successful were his efforts, that even the deaf old lady insisted on having one or two of his best jokes retailed through the trumpet; and even she condescended to observe to the spinster aunt, that 'He' (meaning Jingle) 'was an impudent young fellow:' a sentiment in which all her relations then and there present thoroughly coincided.
It was the old lady's habit on the fine summer mornings to repair to the arbour in which Mr. Tupman had already signalised himself, in form and manner following: first, the fat boy fetched from a peg behind the old lady's bedroom door, a close black satin bonnet, a warm cotton shawl, and a thick stick with a capacious handle; and the old lady, having put on the bonnet and shawl at her leisure, would lean one hand on the stick and the other on the fat boy's shoulder, and walk leisurely to the arbour, where the fat boy would leave her to enjoy the fresh air for the space of half an hour; at the expiration of which time he would return and reconduct her to the house.