Briefly illustrative of two points;--first, the power of hysterics, and, secondly, the force of circumstances
FOR two days after the breakfast at Mrs. Hunter's the Pickwickians remained at Eatanswill, anxiously awaiting the arrival of some intelligence from their revered leader. Mr. Tupman and Mr. Snodgrass were once again left to their own means of amusement; for Mr. Winkle, in compliance with a most pressing invitation, continued to reside at Mr. Pott's house, and to devote his time to the companionship of his amiable lady. Nor was the occasional society of Mr. Pott himself, wanting to complete their felicity. Deeply immersed in the intensity of his speculations for the public weal and the destruction of the Independent, it was not the habit of that great man to descend from his mental pinnacle to the humble level of ordinary minds. On this occasion, however, and as if expressly in compliment to any follower of Mr. Pickwick's, he unbent, relaxed, stepped down from his pedestal, and walked upon the ground: benignly adapting his remarks to the comprehension of the herd, and seeming in outward form, if not in spirit, to be one of them.
Such having been the demeanour of this celebrated public character towards Mr. Winkle, it will be readily imagined that considerable surprise was depicted on the countenance of the latter gentleman, when, as he was sitting alone in the breakfast-room, the door was hastily thrown open, and as hastily closed, on the entrance of Mr. Pott, who, stalking majestically towards him, and thrusting aside his proffered hand, ground his teeth, as if to put a sharper edge on what he was about to utter, and exclaimed, in a saw-like voice,--
"Sir!" exclaimed Mr. Winkle, starting from his chair.
"Serpent, sir," repeated Mr. Pott, raising his voice, and then suddenly depressing it; "I said, Serpent, sir-- make the most of it."
When you have parted with a man, at two o'clock in the morning, on terms of the utmost good fellowship, and he meets you again, at half-past nine, and greets you as a serpent, it is not unreasonable to conclude that something of an unpleasant nature has occurred meanwhile. So Mr. Winkle thought. He returned Mr. Pott's gaze of stone, and in compliance with that gentleman's request, proceeded to make the most he could of the "serpent." The most, however, was nothing at all; so after a profound silence of some minutes' duration, he said,--
"Serpent, sir! Serpent, Mr. Pott! What can you mean, sir?--this is pleasantry."
"Pleasantry, sir!" exclaimed Pott, with a motion of the hand, indicative of a strong desire to hurl the Britannia metal tea-pot at the head of his visitor. "Pleasantry, sir!--but no, I will be calm; I will be calm, sir;" in proof of his calmness, Mr. Pott flung himself into a chair, and foamed at the mouth.
"My dear sir," interposed Mr. Winkle.
"Dear sir!" replied Pott. "How dare you address me, as dear sir, sir? How dare you look me in the face and do it, sir?"
"Well, sir, if you come to that," responded Mr. Winkle, "how dare you look me in the face, and call me a serpent, sir?"
"Because you are one," replied Mr. Pott.
"Prove it, sir," said Mr. Winkle, warmly. "Prove it."
A malignant scowl passed over the profound face of the editor, as he drew from his pocket, the Independent of that morning; and laying his finger on a particular paragraph, threw the journal across the table to Mr. Winkle.
That gentleman took it up, and read as follows:--
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