« PreviousContinue »
Mrs. Bardell’s being engaged to Pickwick was the current topic of conversation in the neighborhood, after the fainting in July. Had heard Mr. Pickwick ask the little boy how he should like to have another father. Did not know that Mrs. Bardell was at that time keeping company with the baker, but did know that the baker was then a single man and is now married. Couldn't swear that Mrs. Bardell was not very fond of the baker, but should think that the baker was not very fond of Mrs. Bardell, or he wouldn't have married somebody else. Thought Mrs. Bardell fainted away on the morning in July, because Pickwick asked her to name the day; knew that she (witness) fainted away stone dead when Mr. Sanders asked her to name the day, and believed that everybody as called herself a lady would do the same, under similar circumstances.
Serjeant Buzfuz now rose with more importance than he had yet exhibited, if that were possible, and vociferated: “Call Samuel Weller.”
It was quite unnecessary to call Samuel Weller; for Samuel Weller stepped briskly into the box the instant his name was pronounced; and placing his hat on the floor, and his arms on the rail, took a bird's-eye view of the bar, and a comprehensive survey of the bench, with a remarkably cheerful and lively aspect.
“What's your name, sir?” inquired the judge.
“Sam Weller, my Lord,” replied that gentleman.
“Do you spell it with a 'V' or a ‘W'?”
“That depends upon the taste and fancy of the speller, my Lord,” replied Sam, “I never had occasion to spell it more than once or twice in my life, but I spells it with a 'V.'”
Here a voice in the gallery exclaimed aloud,
“Quite right too, Samuel, quite right. Put it down a we, my Lord, put it down a we."
“Who is that, who dares to address the court?” said the little judge, looking up. “Usher.”
“Yes, my Lord.”
“Yes, my Lord.”
But as the usher didn't find the person, he didn't bring him; and, after a great commotion, all the people who had got up to look for the culprit, sat down again. The little judge turned to the witness as soon as his indignation would allow him to speak, and said, “Do you know who that was, sir?"
“I rayther suspect it was my father, my Lord,” replied Sam. “Do you see him here now?” said the judge.
“No, I don't, my Lord,” replied Sam, staring right up into the lantern in the roof of the court.
“If you could have pointed him out, I would have committed him instantly,” said the judge.
Sam bowed his acknowledgment and turned, with unimpaired cheerfulness of countenance, towards Serjeant Buzfuz.
“Now, Mr. Weller,” said Serjeant Buzfuz. “Now, sir," replied Sam.
“I believe you are in the service of Mr. Pickwick, the defendant in this case. Speak up, if you please, Mr. Weller.”
“I mean to speak up, sir,” replied Sam; “I am in the service o' that 'ere gen'l'man, and a wery good service it is.”
“Little to do, and plenty to get, I suppose?” said Serjeant Buzfuz, with jocularity.
“Oh, quite enough to get, sir, as the soldier said ven they ordered him three hundred and fifty lashes,” replied Sam.
“You must not tell us what the soldier, or any other man said, sir,” interposed the judge; “it's not evidence.”
“Wery good, my Lord,” replied Sam.
recollect anything particular happening on the morning when you were first engaged by defendant; eh, Mr. Weller?” said Serjeant Buzfuz.
“Yes, I do, sir,” replied Sam. "Have the goodness to tell the jury what it was.”
“I had a reg'lar new fit out o'clothes that mornin', gen'l'men of the jury,” said Sam, “and that was a wery partickler and uncommon circumstance with me in those days."
Hereupon there was a general laugh; and the little judge, looking with an angry countenance over his desk, said, “You had better be careful, sir.”
“So Mr. Pickwick said at that time, my Lord,” replied Sam; "and I was wery careful o' that 'ere suit of clothes; wery careful indeed, my Lord.” ”
The judge looked sternly at Sam for full two minutes, but Sam's features were so perfectly calm and serene that the judge said nothing, and motioned Serjeant Buzfuz to proceed.
“Do you mean to tell me, Mr. Weller,” said Serjeant Buzfuz, folding his arms emphatically, and turning half-round to the jury, as if in mute assurance that he would bother the witness yet: “Do you mean to tell me, Mr. Weller, that you saw nothing of this fainting on the part of the plaintiff in the arms of the defendant, which you heard described by the witnesses?"
"Certainly not,” replied Sam, “I was in the passage 'till they called me up, and then the old lady was not there."
“Now, attend, Mr. Weller,” said Serjeant Buzfuz, dipping a large pen into the inkstand before him, for the purpose of frightening Sam with a
show of taking down his answer. "You were in the passage, and yet you saw nothing of what was going forward. Have you a pair of eyes, Mr. Weller?”
“Yes, I have a pair of eyes,” replied Sam, “and that's just it. If they wos a pair o' patent double million magnifyin' gas microscopes of hextra power, p'raps I might be able to see through a flight o stairs and a deal door; but bein' only eyes, you see, my wision's limited.”
At this answer, which was delivered without the slightest appearance of irritation, and with the most complete simplicity and equanimity of manner, the spectators tittered, the little judge smiled, and Serjeant Buzfuz looked particularly foolish. After a short consultation with Dodson and Fogg, the learned Serjeant again turned towards Sam, and said, with a painful effort to conceal his vexation,
“Now, Mr. Weller, I'll ask you a question on another point, if you please.”
“If you please, sir,” rejoined Sam, with the utmost good-humor.
“Do you remember going up to Mrs. Bardell's house, one night in November last?"
“Oh, yes, wery well.”
“Oh, you do remember that, Mr. Weller,” said Serjeant Buzfuz, recovering his spirits; “I thought we should get at something at last.”
“I rayther thought that, too, sir,” replied Sam: and at that the spectators tittered again.
“Well; I suppose you went up to have a little talk about this trial-eh, Mr. Weller?” said Serjeant Buzfuz, looking knowingly at the jury.