Honourably accounts for Mr. Weller's absence, by describing a soiree to which he was invited and went; also relates how he was entrusted by Mr. Pickwick with a private mission of delicacy and importance
"MR. WELLER," said Mrs. Craddock, upon the morning of this very eventful day, "here's a letter for you."
"Wery odd that," said Sam, "I'm afeerd there must be somethin' the matter, for I don't recollect any gen'l'm'n in my circle of acquaintance as is capable o' writin' one."
"Perhaps something uncommon has taken place," observed Mrs. Craddock.
"It must be somethin' wery uncommon indeed, as could produce a letter out o' any friend o' mine," replied Sam, shaking his head dubiously; "nothin' less than a nat'ral conwulsion, as the young gen'l'm'n observed ven he wos took with fits. It can't be from the gov'ner," said Sam, looking at the direction. "He always prints, I know, 'cos he learnt writin' from the large bills in the bookin' offices. It's a wery strange thing now, where this here letter can ha' come from."
As Sam said this, he did what a great many people do when they are uncertain about the writer of a note,--looked at the seal, and then at the front, and then at the back, and then at the sides, and then at the superscription; and, as a last resource, thought perhaps he might as well look at the inside, and try to find out, from that.
"It's wrote on gilt-edged paper," said Sam, as he unfolded it, "and sealed in bronze vax with the top of a door-key. Now for it." And, with a very grave face, Mr. Weller slowly read as follows:
"A select company of the Bath footmen presents their compliments to Mr. Weller, and requests the pleasure of his company this evening, to a friendly swarry, consisting of a boiled leg of mutton with the usual trimmings. The swarry to be on table at half-past nine o'clock punctually."
This was inclosed in another note, which ran thus--
"Mr. John Smauker, the gentleman who had the pleasure of meeting Mr. Weller at the house of their mutual acquaintance, Mr. Bantam, a few days since, begs to enclose Mr. Weller the herewith invitation. If Mr. Weller will call on Mr. John Smauker at nine o'clock, Mr. John Smauker will have the pleasure of introducing Mr. Weller. (Signed) "JOHN SMAUKER."
The envelope was directed to blank Weller, Esq., at Mr. Pickwick's; and in a parenthesis, in the left hand corner, were the words "airy bell," as an instruction to the bearer.
"Vell," said Sam, "this is comin' it rayther powerful, this is. I never heerd a biled leg o' mutton called a swarry afore. I wonder wot they'd call a roast one."
However, without waiting to debate the point, Sam at once betook himself into the presence of Mr. Pickwick, and requested leave of absence for that evening, which was readily granted. With this permission, and the street-door key, Sam Weller issued forth a little before the appointed time, and strolled leisurely towards Queen Square, which he no sooner gained than he had the satisfaction of beholding Mr. John Smauker leaning his powdered head against a lamp post at a short distance off, smoking a cigar through an amber tube.
"How do you do, Mr. Weller?" said Mr. John Smauker, raising his hat gracefully with one hand, while he gently waved the other in a condescending manner. "How do you do, sir?"
"Why, reasonably conwalessent," replied Sam. "How do you find yourself, my dear feller?"
"Only so so," said Mr. John Smauker.
"Ah, you've been a workin' too hard," observed Sam. "I was fearful you would; it won't do, you know; you must not give way to that 'ere uncompromisin' spirit o' your'n."
"It's not so much that, Mr. Weller," replied Mr. John Smauker, "as bad wine; I'm afraid I've been dissipating."
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