« PreviousContinue »
• Ye-yes ; O yes," replied Mr. Winkle. "I-I-am rather out of practice.”
“O, do skate, Mr. Winkle,” said Arabella. “I like to see it so much."
“O, it is so graceful,” said another young lady.
A third young lady said it was elegant, and a fourth expressed her opinion that it was “swanlike."
“I should be very happy, I'm sure,” said Mr. Winkle, reddening ; " but I have no skates."
This objection was at once overruled. Trundle had a couple of pairs, and the fat boy announced that there were half a dozen more down stairs; whereat Mr. Winkle expressed exquisite delight, and looked exquisitely uncomfortable.
Old Wardle led the way to a pretty large sheet of ice; and the fat boy and Mr. Weller having shoveled and swept away the snow which had fallen on it during the night, Mr. Bob Sawyer adjusted his skates with a dexterity which to Mr. Winkle was perfectly marvelous, and described circles with his left leg, and cut figures of eight, and inscribed upon the ice, without once stopping for breath, a great many other pleasant and astonishing devices, to the excessive satisfaction of Mr. Pickwick, Mr. Tupman, and the ladies; which reached a pitch of positive enthusiasm when old Wardle and Benjamin Allen, assisted by the aforesaid Bob Sawyer, performed some mystic evolutions which they called a reel.
All this time Mr. Winkle, with his face and hands blue with the cold, had been forcing a gimlet into the soles of his feet, and putting his skates on, with the points behind, and getting the straps into a very complicated and entangled state, with the assistance of Mr. Snodgrass, who knew rather less about skates than a
Hindoo. At length, however, with the assistance of Mr. Weller, the unfortunate skates were firmly screwed and buckled on, and Mr. Winkle was raised to his feet.
“Now, then, sir," said Sam, in an encouraging tone, “off with you, and show 'em how to do it.”
"Stop, Sam, stop!” said Mr. Winkle, trembling violently, and clutching hold of Sam's arm with the
grasp of a drowning man. “How slippery it is, Sam !"
“Not an uncommon thing upon ice, sir,” replied Mr. Weller. “Hold up, sir!"
This last observation of Mr. Weller's bore reference to a demonstration Mr. Winkle made at the instant, of a frantic desire to throw his feet in the air, and dash the back of his head on the ice.
“ These—these—are very awkward skates," said Mr. Winkle, staggering.
“Now, Winkle,” cried Mr. Pickwick, quite unconscious that there was anything the matter.
“Come; the ladies are all anxiety."
“Yes, yes," replied Mr. Winkle, with a ghastly smile. “I'm coming.
“Just going to begin,” said Sam, endeavoring to disengage himself.
Now, sir, start off !” “Stop an instant, Sam,” gasped Mr. Winkle, clinging most affectionately to Mr. Weller. “I find I've got a couple of coats at home that I don't want, Sam. You may have them, Sam."
“Thank'ee, sir," replied Mr. Weller,
“Never mind touching your hat, Sam,” said Mr. Winkle, hastily. “You needn't take your hand away to do that. I meant to have given you five shillings this morning for a Christmas-box, Sam. I'll give it to you this afternoon, Sam."
hear the gov.
“You're very good, sir," replied Mr. Weller.
“ Just hold me at first, Sam, will you ?” said Mr. Winkle. " There-that's right. I shall soon get in the way of it, Sam. Not too fast, Sam,—not too fast!”
Mr. Winkle stooping forward, with his body half doubled up, was being assisted over the ice by Mr. Weller in a very singular and un-swanlike manner, when Mr. Pickwick most innocently shouted from the opposite bank,-“ Sam !"
“Sir! shouted back Mr. Weller.
“ Don't you ernor calling ? Let
Let go, sir." With a violent effort Mr. Weller disengaged himself from the grasp of the agonized Pickwickian, and in so doing administered a considerable impetus to the unhappy Mr. Winkle. With an accuracy which no degree of dexterity or practice could have insured, that unfortunate gentleman bore swiftly down into the centre of the reel at the very moment when Mr. Bob Sawyer was performing a flourish of unparalleled beauty.
Mr. Winkle struck wildly against him, and with a loud crash they both fell heavily down. Mr. Pickwick ran to the spot. Bob Sawyer had risen to his feet, but Mr. Winkle was far too wise to do anything of the kind in skates. He was seated on the ice, making spasmodic efforts to smile; but anguish was depicted on every lineament of his countenance.
“Are you hurt ?" inquired Mr. Benjamin Allen, with great anxiety.
“Not much," said Mr. Winkle, rubbing his back very hard.
“I wish you 'd let me bleed you,” said Mr. Benjamin, with great eagerness.
"No, thank you,” replied Mr. Winkle, hurriedly. “I really think you had better," said Allen.
“Thank you," replied Mr. Winkle; “I'd rather not.”
“What do you think, Mr. Pickwick ?" inquired Bob Sawyer.
Mr. Pickwick was excited and indignant. He beckoned to Mr. Weller, and said, in a stern voice, "Take his skates off!”
'No; but really I had scarcely begun,” remonstrated Mr. Winkle.
“Take his skates off!" repeated Mr. Pickwick, firmly.
The command was not to be resisted. Mr. Winkle allowed Sam to obey it, in silence.
“ Lift him up,” said Mr. Pickwick. Sam assisted him to rise.
Mr. Pickwick retired a few paces apart from the bystanders; and, beckoning his friend to approach, fixed a searching look upon him, and uttered in a low, but distinct and emphatic tone, these remarkable words :
“You're a humbug, sir !"
"A humbug, sir! I will speak plainer, if you wish it. An impostor, sir!"
With these words Mr. Pickwick turned slowly on his heel, and rejoined his friends.
"ROM each age in every story shines one figure-head
sublime; One grand master-spirit, building towers from the wrecks
of time; One man who could find pure lilies, where the rest saw
With a daring born of purpose, he has risked and won
his life, And the world bows down and worships him, the hero
in the strife; Knowing nothing of the power that gave impulse to his
Could we draw aside the curtain, how amazed the world
would stand, That the whole campaign of reason by a woman had
been planned, And the armor had been buckled by a fearless mother's
Or the hero stands in silence at the brink of Slough
Despond, All forgot and sought by no one, save one woman true
and fond; But her impulse builds his purpose, reaching up to the
Beyond. When a grand, pure poem rings down the ages, undefiled, And we seek to know the wherefore, looking mid the
wind and wild, Oft we find the motive power was the lisping of a child;