"A very good substitute for it, at all events," replied Mr. Pickwick, laughing. "It must have been of great service to you, in the course of your rambling life, Sam."
"Service, sir," exclaimed Sam. "You may say that. Arter I run away from the carrier, and afore I took up with the vagginer, I had unfurnished lodgin's for a fortnight."
"Unfurnished lodgings?" said Mr. Pickwick.
"Yes--the dry arches of Waterloo Bridge. Fine sleeping-place--within ten minutes' walk of all the public offices--only if there is any objection to it, it is that the sitivation's rayther too airy. I see some queer sights there."
"Ah, I suppose you did," said Mr. Pickwick, with an air of considerable interest.
"Sights, sir," resumed Mr. Weller, "as 'ud penetrate your benevolent heart, and come out on the other side. You don't see the reg'lar wagrants there; trust 'em, they knows better than that. Young beggars, male and female, as hasn't made a rise in their profession, takes up their quarters there sometimes; but it's generally the worn-out, starving, houseless creeturs as rolls themselves in the dark corners o' them lonesome places--poor creeturs as an't up to the twopenny rope."
"And, pray, Sam, what is the twopenny rope?" inquired Mr. Pickwick.
"The twopenny rope, sir," replied Mr. Weller, "is just a cheap lodgin' house, where the beds is twopence a night."
"What do they call a bed a rope for?" said Mr. Pickwick.
"Bless your innocence, sir, that a'nt it," replied Sam. "Wen the lady and gen'l'm'n as keeps the Hot-el first begun business they used to make the beds on the floor; but this wouldn't do at no price, 'cos instead o' taking a moderate two-penn'orth o' sleep, the lodgers used to lie there half the day. So now they has two ropes, 'bout six foot apart, and three from the floor, which goes right down the room; and the beds are made of slips of coarse sacking, stretched across 'em."
"Well," said Mr. Pickwick.
"Well," said Mr. Weller, "the adwantage o' the plan's hobvious. At six o'clock every mornin' they lets go the ropes at one end, and down falls all the lodgers. 'Consequence is, that being thoroughly waked, they get up wery quietly, and walk away! Beg your pardon, sir," said Sam, suddenly breaking off in his loquacious discourse. "Is this Bury St. Edmunds?"
"It is," replied Mr. Pickwick.
The coach rattled through the well-paved streets of a handsome little town, of thriving and cleanly appearance, and stopped before a large inn situated in a wide open street, nearly facing the old abbey.
"And this," said Mr. Pickwick, looking up, "is the Angel! We alight here, Sam. But some caution is necessary. Order a private room, and do not mention my name. You understand."
"Right as a trivet, sir," replied Mr. Weller, with a wink of intelligence; and having dragged Mr. Pickwick's portmanteau from the hind boot, into which it had been hastily thrown when they joined the coach at Eatanswill, Mr. Weller disappeared on his errand. A private room was speedily engaged; and into it Mr. Pickwick was ushered without delay.
"Now, Sam," said Mr. Pickwick, "the first thing to be done is to--"
"Order dinner, sir," interposed Mr. Weller. "It's wery late, sir."
|Copyright: All texts on Bibliomania are © Bibliomania.com Ltd, and may not be reproduced in any form without our written permission. See our FAQ for more details.|