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Chapter 5

A SHORT ONE―SHOWING, AMONG OTHERMATTERS, HOW Mr. PICKWICK UNDERTOOKTO DRIVE, AND Mr. WINKLE TO RIDE, ANDHOW THEY BOTH DID ITright and pleasant was the sky, balmy the air, andbeautiful the appearance of every object around, as Mr.

  Pickwick leaned over the balustrades of RochesterBridge, contemplating nature, and waiting for breakfast. Thescene was indeed one which might well have charmed a far lessreflective mind, than that to which it was presented.

  On the left of the spectator lay the ruined wall, broken in manyplaces, and in some, overhanging the narrow beach below in rudeand heavy masses. Huge knots of seaweed hung upon the jaggedand pointed stones, trembling in every breath of wind; and thegreen ivy clung mournfully round the dark and ruinedbattlements. Behind it rose the ancient castle, its towers roofless,and its massive walls crumbling away, but telling us proudly of itsold might and strength, as when, seven hundred years ago, it rangwith the clash of arms, or resounded with the noise of feasting andrevelry. On either side, the banks of the Medway, covered withcornfields and pastures, with here and there a windmill, or adistant church, stretched away as far as the eye could see,presenting a rich and varied landscape, rendered more beautifulby the changing shadows which passed swiftly across it as the thinand half-formed clouds skimmed away in the light of the morningsun. The river, reflecting the clear blue of the sky, glistened andsparkled as it flowed noiselessly on; and the oars of the fishermendipped into the water with a clear and liquid sound, as their heavybut picturesque boats glided slowly down the stream.

  Mr. Pickwick was roused from the agreeable reverie into whichhe had been led by the objects before him, by a deep sigh, and atouch on his shoulder. He turned round: and the dismal man wasat his side.

  ‘Contemplating the scene?’ inquired the dismal man. ‘I was,’

  said Mr. Pickwick.

  ‘And congratulating yourself on being up so soon?’

  Mr. Pickwick nodded assent.

  ‘Ah! people need to rise early, to see the sun in all hissplendour, for his brightness seldom lasts the day through. Themorning of day and the morning of life are but too much alike.’

  ‘You speak truly, sir,’ said Mr. Pickwick.

  ‘How common the saying,’ continued the dismal man, ‘“Themorning’s too fine to last.” How well might it be applied to oureveryday existence. God! what would I forfeit to have the days ofmy childhood restored, or to be able to forget them for ever!’

  ‘You have seen much trouble, sir,’ said Mr. Pickwickcompassionately.

  ‘I have,’ said the dismal man hurriedly; ‘I have. More than thosewho see me now would believe possible.’ He paused for an instant,and then said abruptly―‘Did it ever strike you, on such a morning as this, that drowningwould be happiness and peace?’

  ‘God bless me, no!’ replied Mr. Pickwick, edging a little fromthe balustrade, as the possibility of the dismal man’s tipping himover, by way of experiment, occurred to him rather forcibly.

  ‘I have thought so, often,’ said the dismal man, without noticingthe action. ‘The calm, cool water seems to me to murmur aninvitation to repose and rest. A bound, a splash, a brief struggle;there is an eddy for an instant, it gradually subsides into a gentleripple; the waters have closed above your head, and the world hasclosed upon your miseries and misfortunes for ever.’ The sunkeneye of the dismal man flashed brightly as he spoke, but themomentary excitement quickly subsided; and he turned calmlyaway, as he said―‘There―enough of that. I wish to see you on another subject.

  You invited me to read that paper, the night before last, andlistened attentively while I did so.’

  ‘I did,’ replied Mr. Pickwick; ‘and I certainly thought―’

  ‘I asked for no opinion,’ said the dismal man, interrupting him,‘and I want none. You are travelling for amusement andinstruction. Suppose I forward you a curious manuscript―observe, not curious because wild or improbable, but curious as aleaf from the romance of real life―would you communicate it tothe club, of which you have spoken so frequently?’

  ‘Certainly,’ replied Mr. Pickwick, ‘if you wished it; and it wouldbe entered on their transactions.’

  ‘You shall have it,’ replied the dismal man. ‘Your address;’ and,Mr. Pickwick having communicated their probable route, thedismal man carefully noted it down in a greasy pocket-book, and,resisting Mr. Pickwick’s pressing invitation to breakfast, left thatgentleman at his inn, and walked slowly away.

  Mr. Pickwick found that his three companions had risen, andwere waiting his arrival to commence breakfast, which was readylaid in tempting display. They sat down to the meal; and broiledham, eggs, tea, coffee and sundries, began to disappear with arapidity which at once bore testimony to the excellence of the fare,and the appetites of its consumers.

  ‘Now, about Manor Farm,’ said Mr. Pickwick. ‘How shall wego?’

  ‘We had better consult the waiter, perhaps,’ said Mr. Tupman;and the waiter was summoned accordingly.

  ‘Dingley Dell, gentlemen―fifteen miles, gentlemen―crossroad―post-chaise, sir?’

  ‘Post-chaise won’t hold more than two,’ said Mr. Pickwick.

  ‘True, sir―beg your pardon, sir.―Very nice four-wheel chaise,sir―seat for two behind―one in front for the gentleman thatdrives―oh! beg your pardon, sir―that’ll only hold three.’

  ‘What’s to be done?’ said Mr. Snodgrass.

  ‘Perhaps one of the gentlemen would like to ride, sir?’

  suggested the waiter, looking towards Mr. Winkle; ‘very goodsaddle-horses, sir―any of Mr. Wardle’s men coming to Rochester,bring ’em back, sir.’

  ‘The very thing,’ said Mr. Pickwick. ‘Winkle, will you go onhorseback?’

  Now Mr. Winkle did entertain considerable misgivings in thevery lowest recesses of his own heart, relative to his equestrianskill; but, as he would not have them even suspected, on anyaccount, he at once replied with great hardihood, ‘Certainly. Ishould enjoy it of all things.’ Mr. Winkle had rushed upon his fate;there was no resource. ‘Let them be at the door by eleven,’ saidMr. Pickwick.

  ‘Very well, sir,’ replied the waiter.

  The waiter retired; the breakfast concluded; and the travellersascended to their respective bedrooms, to prepare a change ofclothing, to take with them on their approaching expedition.

  Mr. Pickwick had made his preliminary arrangements, and waslooking over the coffee-room blinds at the passengers in the street,when the waiter entered, and announced that the chaise wasready―an announcement which the vehicle itself confirmed, byforthwith appearing before the coffee-room blinds aforesaid.

  It was a curious little green box on four wheels, with a low placelike a wine-bin for two behind, and an elevated perch for one infront, drawn by an immense brown horse, displaying greatsymmetry of bone. An hostler stood near, holding by the bridleanother immense horse―apparently a near relative of the animalin the chaise―ready saddled for Mr. Winkle.

  ‘Bless my soul!’ said Mr. Pickwick, as they stood upon thepavement while the coats were being put in. ‘Bless my soul! who’sto drive? I never thought of that.’

  ‘Oh! you, of course,’ said Mr. Tupman.

  ‘Of course,’ said Mr. Snodgrass.

  ‘I!’ exclaimed Mr. Pickwick.

  ‘Not the slightest fear, sir,’ interposed the hostler. ‘Warrant himquiet, sir; a hinfant in arms might drive him.’

  ‘He don’t shy, does he?’ inquired Mr. Pickwick.

  ‘Shy, sir?―He wouldn’t shy if he was to meet a vaggin-load ofmonkeys with their tails burned off.’

  The last recommendation was indisputable. Mr. Tupman andMr. Snodgrass got into the bin; Mr. Pickwick ascended to hisperch, and deposited his feet on a floor-clothed shelf, erectedbeneath it for that purpose.

  ‘Now, shiny Villiam,’ said the hostler to the deputy hostler, ‘givethe gen’lm’n the ribbons.’ ‘Shiny Villiam’―so called, probably,from his sleek hair and oily countenance―placed the reins in Mr.

  Pickwick’s left hand; and the upper hostler thrust a whip into hisright.

  ‘Wo-o!’ cried Mr. Pickwick, as the tall quadruped evinced adecided inclination to back into the coffee-room window. ‘Wo-o!’

  echoed Mr. Tupman and Mr. Snodgrass, from the bin. ‘Only hisplayfulness, gen’lm’n,’ said the head hostler encouragingly; ‘jistkitch hold on him, Villiam.’ The deputy restrained the animal’simpetuosity, and the principal ran to assist Mr. Winkle inmounting.

  ‘T’other side, sir, if you please.’

  ‘Blowed if the gen’lm’n worn’t a-gettin’ up on the wrong side,’

  whispered a grinning post-boy to the inexpressibly gratifiedwaiter.

  Mr. Winkle, thus instructed, climbed into his saddle, with aboutas much difficulty as he would have experienced in getting up theside of a first-rate man-of-war.

  ‘All right?’ inquired Mr. Pickwick, with an inward presentimentthat it was all wrong.

  ‘All right,’ replied Mr. Winkle faintly.

  ‘Let ’em go,’ cried the hostler.―‘Hold him in, sir;’ and awaywent the chaise, and the saddle-horse, with Mr. Pickwick on thebox of the one, and Mr. Winkle on the back of the other, to thedelight and gratification of the whole inn-yard.

  ‘What makes him go sideways?’ said Mr. Snodgrass in the bin,to Mr. Winkle in the saddle.

  ‘I can’t imagine,’ replied Mr. Winkle. His horse was drifting upthe street in the most mysterious manner―side first, with his headtowards one side of the way, and his tail towards the other.

  Mr. Pickwick had no leisure to observe either this or any otherparticular, the whole of his faculties being concentrated in themanagement of the animal attached to the chaise, who displayedvarious peculiarities, highly interesting to a bystander, but by nomeans equally amusing to any one seated behind him. Besidesconstantly jerking his head up, in a very unpleasant anduncomfortable manner, and tugging at the reins to an extentwhich rendered it a matter of great difficulty for Mr. Pickwick tohold them, he had a singular propensity for darting suddenlyevery now and then to the side of the road, then stopping short,and then rushing forward for some minutes, at a speed which itwas wholly impossible to control.

  ‘What can he mean by this?’ said Mr. Snodgrass, when thehorse had executed this manoeuvre for the twentieth time.

  ‘I don’t know,’ replied Mr. Tupman; ‘it looks very like shying,don’t it?’ Mr. Snodgrass was about to reply, when he wasinterrupted by a shout from Mr. Pickwick.

  ‘Woo!’ said that gentleman; ‘I have dropped my whip.’

  ‘Winkle,’ said Mr. Snodgrass, as the equestrian came trottingup on the tall horse, with his hat over his ears, and shaking allover, as if he would shake to pieces, with the violence of theexercise, ‘pick up the whip, there’s a good fellow.’ Mr. Winklepulled at the bridle of the tall horse till he was black in the face;and having at length succeeded in stopping him, dismounted,handed the whip to Mr. Pickwick, and grasping the reins,prepared to remount.

  Now whether the tall horse, in the natural playfulness of hisdisposition, was desirous of having a little innocent recreationwith Mr. Winkle, or whether it occurred to him that he couldperform the journey as much to his own satisfaction without arider as with one, are points upon which, of course, we can arriveat no definite and distinct conclusion. By whatever motives theanimal was actuated, certain it is that Mr. Winkle had no soonertouched the reins, than he slipped them over his head, and dartedbackwards to their full length.

  ‘Poor fellow,’ said Mr. Winkle soothingly―‘poor fellow―goodold horse.’ The ‘poor fellow’ was proof against flattery; the moreMr. Winkle tried to get nearer him, the more he sidled away; and,notwithstanding all kinds of coaxing and wheedling, there wereMr. Winkle and the horse going round and round each other forten minutes, at the end of which time each was at precisely thesame distance from the other as when they first commenced―anunsatisfactory sort of thing under any circumstances, butparticularly so in a lonely road, where no assistance can beprocured.

  ‘What am I to do?’ shouted Mr. Winkle, after the dodging hadbeen prolonged for a considerable time. ‘What am I to do? I can’tget on him.’

  ‘You had better lead him till we come to a turnpike,’ replied Mr.

  Pickwick from the chaise.

  ‘But he won’t come!’ roared Mr. Winkle. ‘Do come and holdhim.’

  Mr. Pickwick was the very personation of kindness andhumanity: he threw the reins on the horse’s back, and havingdescended from his seat, carefully drew the chaise into the hedge,lest anything should come along the road, and stepped back to theassistance of his distressed companion, leaving Mr. Tupman andMr. Snodgrass in the vehicle.

  The horse no sooner beheld Mr. Pickwick advancing towardshim with the chaise whip in his hand, than he exchanged therotary motion in which he had previously indulged, for aretrograde movement of so very determined a character, that it atonce drew Mr. Winkle, who was still at the end of the bridle, at arather quicker rate than fast walking, in the direction from whichthey had just come. Mr. Pickwick ran to his assistance, but thefaster Mr. Pickwick ran forward, the faster the horse ranbackward. There was a great scraping of feet, and kicking up ofthe dust; and at last Mr. Winkle, his arms being nearly pulled outof their sockets, fairly let go his hold. The horse paused, stared,shook his head, turned round, and quietly trotted home toRochester, leaving Mr. Winkle and Mr. Pickwick gazing on eachother with countenances of blank dismay. A rattling noise at alittle distance attracted their attention. They looked up.

  ‘Bless my soul!’ exclaimed the agonised Mr. Pickwick; ‘there’sthe other horse running away!’

  It was but too true. The animal was startled by the noise, andthe reins were on his back. The results may be guessed. He tore offwith the four-wheeled chaise behind him, and Mr. Tupman andMr. Snodgrass in the four-wheeled chaise. The heat was a shortone. Mr. Tupman threw himself into the hedge, Mr. Snodgrassfollowed his example, the horse dashed the four―wheeled chaiseagainst a wooden bridge, separated the wheels from the body, andthe bin from the perch; and finally stood stock still to gaze uponthe ruin he had made.

  The first care of the two unspilt friends was to extricate theirunfortunate companions from their bed of quickset―a processwhich gave them the unspeakable satisfaction of discovering thatthey had sustained no injury, beyond sundry rents in theirgarments, and various lacerations from the brambles. The nextthing to be done was to unharness the horse. This complicatedprocess having been effected, the party walked slowly forward,leading the horse among them, and abandoning the chaise to itsfate.

  An hour’s walk brought the travellers to a little road-sidepublic-house, with two elm-trees, a horse trough, and a signpost,in front; one or two deformed hay-ricks behind, a kitchen gardenat the side, and rotten sheds and mouldering outhouses jumbled instrange confusion all about it. A red-headed man was working inthe garden; and to him Mr. Pickwick called lustily, ‘Hollo there!’

  The red-headed man raised his body, shaded his eyes with hishand, and stared, long and coolly, at Mr. Pickwick and hiscompanions.

  ‘Hollo there!’ repeated Mr. Pickwick.

  ‘Hollo!’ was the red-headed man’s reply.

  ‘How far is it to Dingley Dell?’

  ‘Better er seven mile.’

  ‘Is it a good road?’

  ‘No, ‘tain’t.’ Having uttered this brief reply, and apparentlysatisfied himself with another scrutiny, the red-headed manresumed his work. ‘We want to put this horse up here,’ said Mr.

  Pickwick; ‘I suppose we can, can’t we?’

  ‘Want to put that ere horse up, do ee?’ repeated the red-headedman, leaning on his spade.

  ‘Of course,’ replied Mr. Pickwick, who had by this timeadvanced, horse in hand, to the garden rails.

  ‘Missus’―roared the man with the red head, emerging from thegarden, and looking very hard at the horse―‘missus!’

  A tall, bony woman―straight all the way down―in a coarse,blue pelisse, with the waist an inch or two below her arm-pits,responded to the call.

  ‘Can we put this horse up here, my good woman?’ said Mr.

  Tupman, advancing, and speaking in his most seductive tones.

  The woman looked very hard at the whole party; and the red-headed man whispered something in her ear.

  ‘No,’ replied the woman, after a little consideration, ‘I’m afeerdon it.’

  ‘Afraid!’ exclaimed Mr. Pickwick, ‘what’s the woman afraid of?’

  ‘It got us in trouble last time,’ said the woman, turning into thehouse; ‘I woan’t have nothin’ to say to ’un .’

  ‘Most extraordinary thing I have ever met with in my life,’ saidthe astonished Mr. Pickwick.

  ‘I―I―really believe,’ whispered Mr. Winkle, as his friendsgathered round him, ‘that they think we have come by this horsein some dishonest manner.’

  ‘What!’ exclaimed Mr. Pickwick, in a storm of indignation. Mr.

  Winkle modestly repeated his suggestion.

  ‘Hollo, you fellow,’ said the angry Mr. Pickwick,’ do you thinkwe stole the horse?’

  ‘I’m sure ye did,’ replied the red-headed man, with a grin whichagitated his countenance from one auricular organ to the other.

  Saying which he turned into the house and banged the door afterhim.

  ‘It’s like a dream,’ ejaculated Mr. Pickwick, ‘a hideous dream.

  The idea of a man’s walking about all day with a dreadful horsethat he can’t get rid of!’ The depressed Pickwickians turnedmoodily away, with the tall quadruped, for which they all felt themost unmitigated disgust, following slowly at their heels.

  It was late in the afternoon when the four friends and theirfour-footed companion turned into the lane leading to ManorFarm; and even when they were so near their place of destination,the pleasure they would otherwise have experienced wasmaterially damped as they reflected on the singularity of theirappearance, and the absurdity of their situation. Torn clothes,lacerated faces, dusty shoes, exhausted looks, and, above all, thehorse. Oh, how Mr. Pickwick cursed that horse: he had eyed thenoble animal from time to time with looks expressive of hatredand revenge; more than once he had calculated the probableamount of the expense he would incur by cutting his throat; andnow the temptation to destroy him, or to cast him loose upon theworld, rushed upon his mind with tenfold force. He was rousedfrom a meditation on these dire imaginings by the suddenappearance of two figures at a turn of the lane. It was Mr. Wardle,and his faithful attendant, the fat boy.

  ‘Why, where have you been?’ said the hospitable old gentleman;‘I’ve been waiting for you all day. Well, you do look tired. What!

  Scratches! Not hurt, I hope―eh? Well, I am glad to hear that―very. So you’ve been spilt, eh? Never mind. Common accident inthese parts. Joe―he’s asleep again!―Joe, take that horse from thegentlemen, and lead it into the stable.’

  The fat boy sauntered heavily behind them with the animal;and the old gentleman, condoling with his guests in homely phraseon so much of the day’s adventures as they thought proper tocommunicate, led the way to the kitchen.

  ‘We’ll have you put to rights here ,’ said the old gentleman, ‘andthen I’ll introduce you to the people in the parlour. Emma, bringout the cherry brandy; now, Jane, a needle and thread here;towels and water, Mary. Come, girls, bustle about.’

  Three or four buxom girls speedily dispersed in search of thedifferent articles in requisition, while a couple of large-headed,circular-visaged males rose from their seats in the chimney-corner(for although it was a May evening their attachment to the woodfire appeared as cordial as if it were Christmas), and dived intosome obscure recesses, from which they speedily produced abottle of blacking, and some half-dozen brushes.

  ‘Bustle!’ said the old gentleman again, but the admonition wasquite unnecessary, for one of the girls poured out the cherrybrandy, and another brought in the towels, and one of the mensuddenly seizing Mr. Pickwick by the leg, at imminent hazard ofthrowing him off his balance, brushed away at his boot till hiscorns were red-hot; while the other shampooed Mr. Winkle with aheavy clothes-brush, indulging, during the operation, in thathissing sound which hostlers are wont to produce when engagedin rubbing down a horse.

  Mr. Snodgrass, having concluded his ablutions, took a survey ofthe room, while standing with his back to the fire, sipping hischerry brandy with heartfelt satisfaction. He describes it as a largeapartment, with a red brick floor and a capacious chimney; theceiling garnished with hams, sides of bacon, and ropes of onions.

  The walls were decorated with several hunting-whips, two orthree bridles, a saddle, and an old rusty blunderbuss, with aninscription below it, intimating that it was ‘Loaded’―as it hadbeen, on the same authority, for half a century at least. An oldeight-day clock, of solemn and sedate demeanour, ticked gravelyin one corner; and a silver watch, of equal antiquity, dangled fromone of the many hooks which ornamented the dresser.

  ‘Ready?’ said the old gentleman inquiringly, when his guestshad been washed, mended, brushed, and brandied.

  ‘Quite,’ replied Mr. Pickwick.

  ‘Come along, then;’ and the party having traversed several darkpassages, and being joined by Mr. Tupman, who had lingeredbehind to snatch a kiss from Emma, for which he had been dulyrewarded with sundry pushings and scratchings, arrived at theparlour door.

  ‘Welcome,’ said their hospitable host, throwing it open andstepping forward to announce them, ‘welcome, gentlemen, toManor Farm.’



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