Descriptive of a very important proceeding on the part of Mr. Pickwick; no less an epoch in his life, than in this history
MR. PICKWICK'S apartments in Goswell Street, although on a limited scale, were not only of a very neat and comfortable description, but peculiarly adapted for the residence of a man of his genius and observation. His sitting-room was the first floor front, his bedroom the second floor front; and thus, whether he were sitting at his desk in his parlour, or standing before the dressing-glass in his dormitory, he had an equal opportunity of contemplating human nature in all the numerous phases it exhibits, in that not more populous than popular thoroughfare. His landlady, Mrs. Bardell--the relict and sole executrix of a deceased custom-house officer--was a comely woman of bustling manners and agreeable appearance, with a natural genius for cooking, improved by study and long practice, into an exquisite talent. There were no children, no servants, no fowls. The only other inmates of the house were a large man and a small boy; the first a lodger, the second a production of Mrs. Bardell's. The large man was always home precisely at ten o'clock at night, at which hour he regularly condensed himself into the limits of a dwarfish French bedstead in the back parlour; and the infantine sports and gymnastic exercises of Master Bardell were exclusively confined to the neighbouring pavements and gutters. Cleanliness and quiet reigned throughout the house; and in it Mr. Pickwick's will was law.
To any one acquainted with these points of the domestic economy of the establishment, and conversant with the admirable regulation of Mr. Pickwick's mind, his appearance and behaviour on the morning previous to that which had been fixed upon for the journey to Eatanswill, would have been most mysterious and unaccountable. He paced the room to and fro with hurried steps, popped his head out of the window at intervals of about three minutes each, constantly referred to his watch, and exhibited many other manifestations of impatience very unusual with him. It was evident that something of great importance was in contemplation, but what that something was, not even Mrs. Bardell herself had been enabled to discover.
"Mrs. Bardell," said Mr. Pickwick, at last, as that amiable female approached the termination of a prolonged dusting of the apartment.
"Sir," said Mrs. Bardell.
"Your little boy is a very long time gone."
"Why it's a good long way to the Borough, sir," remonstrated Mrs. Bardell.
"Ah," said Mr. Pickwick, "very true; so it is."
Mr. Pickwick relapsed into silence, and Mrs. Bardell resumed her dusting.
"Mrs. Bardell," said Mr. Pickwick, at the expiration of a few minutes.
"Sir," said Mrs. Bardell again.
"Do you think it a much greater expense to keep two people, than to keep one?"
"La, Mr. Pickwick," said Mrs. Bardell, colouring up to the very border of her cap, as she fancied she observed a species of matrimonial twinkle in the eyes of her lodger; "La, Mr. Pickwick, what a question!"
"Well, but do you?" inquired Mr. Pickwick.
"That depends--" said Mrs. Bardell, approaching the duster very near to Mr. Pickwick's elbow, which was planted on the table--"that depends a good deal upon the person, you know, Mr. Pickwick; and whether it's a saving and careful person, sir."
"That's very true," said Mr. Pickwick, "but the person I have in my eye (here he looked very hard at Mrs. Bardell) I think possesses these qualities; and has, moreover, a considerable knowledge of the world, and a great deal of sharpness, Mrs. Bardell; which may be of material use to me."
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