The alarm was no sooner given, than Mr. Winkle scrambled back over the wall, and Arabella ran into the house; the garden gate was shut, and the three adventurers were making the best of their way down the lane, when they were startled by the scientific gentleman unlocking his garden gate.
'Hold hard,' whispered Sam, who was, of course, the first of the party. 'Show a light for just vun second, Sir.'
Mr. Pickwick did as he was desired, and Sam, seeing a man's head peeping out very cautiously within half a yard of his own, gave it a gentle tap with his clenched fist, which knocked it, with a hollow sound, against the gate. Having performed this feat with great suddenness and dexterity, Mr. Weller caught Mr. Pickwick up on his back, and followed Mr. Winkle down the lane at a pace which, considering the burden he carried, was perfectly astonishing.
'Have you got your vind back agin, Sir,' inquired Sam, when they had reached the end.
'Quite. Quite, now,' replied Mr. Pickwick.
'Then come along, Sir,' said Sam, setting his master on his feet again. 'Come betveen us, sir. Not half a mile to run. Think you're vinnin' a cup, sir. Now for it.'
Thus encouraged, Mr. Pickwick made the very best use of his legs. It may be confidently stated that a pair of black gaiters never got over the ground in better style than did those of Mr. Pickwick on this memorable occasion.
The coach was waiting, the horses were fresh, the roads were good, and the driver was willing. The whole party arrived in safety at the Bush before Mr. Pickwick had recovered his breath.
'in with you at once, sir,' said Sam, as he helped his master out. 'Don't stop a second in the street, arter that 'ere exercise. Beg your pardon, sir,'continued Sam, touching his hat as Mr. Winkle descended, 'hope there warn't a priory 'tachment, sir?'
Mr. Winkle grasped his humble friend by the hand, and whispered in his ear, 'It's all right, Sam; quite right.' Upon which Mr. Weller struck three distinct blows upon his nose in token of intelligence, smiled, winked, and proceeded to put the steps up, with a countenance expressive of lively satisfaction.
As to the scientific gentleman, he demonstrated, in a masterly treatise, that these wonderful lights were the effect of electricity; and clearly proved the same by detailing how a flash of fire danced before his eyes when he put his head out of the gate, and how he received a shock which stunned him for a quarter of an hour afterwards; which demonstration delighted all the scientific associations beyond measure, and caused him to be considered a light of science ever afterwards.
CHAPTER XL INTRODUCES Mr. PICKWICK TO A NEW AND NOT UNINTERESTING SCENE IN THE GREAT DRAMA OF LIFE
The remainder of the period which Mr. Pickwick had assigned as the duration of the stay at Bath passed over without the occurrence of anything material. Trinity term commenced. On the expiration of its first week, Mr. Pickwick and his friends returned to London; and the former gentleman, attended of course by Sam, straightway repaired to his old quarters at the George and Vulture.
On the third morning after their arrival, just as all the clocks in the city were striking nine individually, and somewhere about nine hundred and ninety-nine collectively, Sam was taking the air in George Yard, when a queer sort of fresh-painted vehicle drove up, out of which there jumped with great agility, throwing the reins to a stout man who sat beside him, a queer sort of gentleman, who seemed made for the vehicle, and the vehicle for him.
The vehicle was not exactly a gig, neither was it a stanhope. It was not what is currently denominated a dog-cart, neither was it a taxed cart, nor a chaise-cart, nor a guillotined cabriolet; and yet it had something of the character of each and every of these machines. It was painted a bright yellow, with the shafts and wheels picked out in black; and the driver sat in the orthodox sporting style, on cushions piled about two feet above the rail. The horse was a bay, a well-looking animal enough; but with something of a flash and dog-fighting air about him, nevertheless, which accorded both with the vehicle and his master.