Pickwick. Mr. Tupman, Mr. Snodgrass, and Mr. Winkle, who had been anxiously waiting the arrival of their illustrious leader, crowded to welcome him.
"Here's your fare," said Mr. Pickwick, holding out the shilling to the driver.
What was the learned man's astonishment, when that unaccountable person flung the money on the pavement, and requested in figurative terms to be allowed the pleasure of fighting him (Mr. Pickwick) for the amount!
"You are mad," said Mr. Snodgrass.
"Or drunk," said Mr. Winkle.
"Or both," said Mr. Tupman.
"Come on!" said the cab-driver, sparring away like clockwork. "Come on--all four on you."
"Here's a lark!" shouted half-a-dozen hackney coachmen. "Go to vork, Sam,"--and they crowded with great glee round the party.
"What's the row, Sam?" inquired one gentleman in black calico sleeves.
"Row!" replied the cabman, "what did he want my number for?"
"I didn't want your number," said the astonished Mr. Pickwick.
"What did you take it for, then?" inquired the cabman.
"I didn't take it," said Mr. Pickwick, indignantly.
"Would any body believe," continued the cab-driver, appealing to the crowd, "would any body believe as an informer 'ud go about in a man's cab, not only takin' down his number, but ev'ry word he says into the bargain" (a light flashed upon Mr. Pickwick--it was the note-book).
"Did he though?" inquired another cabman.
"Yes, did he," replied the first; "and then arter aggerawatin' me to assault him, gets three witnesses here to prove it. But I'll give it him, if I've six months for it. Come on!" and the cabman dashed his hat upon the ground, with a reckless disregard of his own private property, and knocked Mr. Pickwick's spectacles off, and followed up the attack with a blow on Mr. Pickwick's nose, and another on Mr. Pickwick's chest, and a third in Mr. Snodgrass's eye, and a fourth, by way of variety, in Mr. Tupman's waistcoat, and then danced into the road, and then back again to the pavement, and finally dashed the whole temporary supply of breath out of Mr. Winkle's body; and all in half-a-dozen seconds.
"Where's an officer?" said Mr. Snodgrass.
"Put 'em under the pump," suggested a hot-pieman.
"You shall smart for this," gasped Mr. Pickwick.
"Informers!" shouted the crowd.
"Come on," cried the cabman, who had been sparring without cessation the whole time.
The mob had hitherto been passive spectators of the scene, but as the intelligence of the Pickwickians being informers was spread among them, they began to canvass with considerable vivacity the propriety of enforcing the heated pastry-vendor's proposition; and there is no saying what acts of personal aggression
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