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country ladies who could show more. She could read any English book without much spelling; but for pickling, preserving, and cookery, none could excel her. She prided herself also on being an excellent contriver in housekeeping: though I could never find that we grew richer, with all her contrivan
However, we loved each other tenderly, and our fondness increased as we grew old. There was, in fact, nothing that could make us angry with the world or each other. We had an elegant house, situated in a fine country, and a good neighborhood. The year was spent in moral or rural amusements, in visiting our rich neighbors, and relieving such as were poor. We had no revolutions to fear, nor fatigues to undergo; all our adventures were by the fireside, and all our migrations from the blue bed to the brown.
As we lived near the road, we often had the traveller or the stranger visit us, to taste our gooseberry-wine, for which we had great reputation; and I profess, with the veracity of an historian, that I never knew one of them find fault with it. Our cousins, too, even to the fortieth remove, all remembered their affinity, without any help from the herald's office, and came very frequently to see us. Some of them did us no great honor by these claims of kindred; as we had the blind, the maimed, and the halt, amongst the number. However, my wife always insisted, that as they were the same flesh and blood, they should sit with us at the same table: so that if we had not very rich, we generally had very happy friends about us; for this remark will hold good through life, that the poorer the guest the better pleased he ever is with being treated; and as some men gaze with admiration at the colors of a tulip, or the wing of a butterfly, so I was by nature an admirer of happy human faces. However, when any one of our relations was found to be a person of very bad character, a troublesome guest, or one we desired to get rid of, upon leaving my house, I ever took care to lend him a ridingcoat, or a pair of boots, or sometimes a horse of small value, and I always had the satisfaction to find he never came back to return them. By this the house was cleared of such as we did not like; but never was the family of Wakefield known to turn the traveller or the poor dependant out of doors.
Thus we lived several years in a state of much happiness; not but that we sometimes had those little rubs which Providence sends to enhance the value of its favors. My orchard
was often robbed by school-boys, and my wife's custards plundered by the cats or the children. The squire would sometimes fall asleep in the most pathetic parts of my sermon, or his lady return my wife's civilities at church with a mutilated courtesy. But we soon got over the uneasiness caused by such accidents, and usually in three or four days began to wonder how they vexed us.
My children, the offspring of temperance, as they were educated without softness, so they were at once well-formed and healthy; my sons hardy and active, my daughters beautiful and blooming. Our eldest son was named George, after his uncle, who left us ten thousand pounds. Our second child, a girl, I intended to call after her aunt Grissel; but my wife, who had lately been reading romances, insisted upon her being called Olivia. In less than another year we had another daughter, and now I determined that Grissel should be her name; but a rich relation taking a fancy to stand godmother, the girl was by her directions called Sophia; so that we had two romantic names in the family; but I solemnly protest I had no hand in it. Moses was our next, and, after an interval of twelve years, we had two sons more.
It would be fruitless to deny my exultation when I saw my little ones about me; but the vanity and satisfaction of my wife were even greater than mine. When our visitors would say, "Well, upon my word, Mrs. Primrose, you have the finest children in the whole country: "-" Ay, neighbor," she would answer, "they are as Heaven made them-handsome enough, if they be good enough: for handsome is that handsome does." And then she would bid the girls hold up their heads, who, to conceal nothing, were certainly very handsome. Mere outside is so very trifling a circumstance with me, that I should scarce have remembered to mention it, had it not been a general topic of conversation in the country. Olivia, now about eighteen, had that luxuriancy of beauty, with which painters draw Hebe-open, sprightly, and commanding. Sophia's features were not so striking at first, but often did more certain execution; for they were soft, modest, and alluring. The one vanquished by a single blow, and the other by efforts successively repeated.
My eldest son, George, was bred at Oxford, as I intended him for one of the learned professions. My second boy, Moses, whom I designed for business, received a sort of miscellaneous education at home. But it is needless to attempt describing
the particular characters of young people that had seen but very little of the world. In short, a family likeness prevailed through all; and properly speaking, they had but one character-that of being all equally generous, credulous, simple, and inoffensive.
LXXXVII.-AN EXCURSION INTO THE COUNTRY.
MR. PICKWICK found that his three companions had risen, and were waiting his arrival to commence breakfast, which was ready laid in tempting display. They sat down to the meal; and broiled ham, eggs, tea, coffee and sundries, began to disappear with a rapidity which at once bore testimony to the excellence of the fare, and the appetites of its consumers. "Now about Manor Farm," said Mr. Pickwick. shall we go ? "
"We had better consult the waiter, perhaps," said Mr. Tupman; and the waiter was summoned accordingly.
"Dingley Dell, gentlemen ?-Ffteen miles, gentlemencross road.-Post-chaise, sir?"
"Post-chaise won't hold more than two," said Mr. Pick
“ True, sir—beg your pardon, sir.-Very nice four wheel chaise, sir-seat for two behind-one in front for the gentleman that drives-oh! beg your pardon, sir-that 'll only hold three."
"What's to be done?" said Mr: Snodgrass.
"Perhaps one of the gentlemen like to ride, sir," suggested the waiter, looking towards Mr. Winkle; "very good saddle horses, sir-any of Mr. Wardle's men coming to Rochester, bring 'em back, sir."
"The very thing," said Mr. Pickwick. you go on horseback?
Now Mr. Winkle did entertain considerable misgivings in the very lowest recesses of his own heart, relative to his equestrian skill; but, as he would not have them even suspected on any account, he at once replied with great hardihood, "Certainly. I should enjoy it of all things."
Mr. Winkle had rushed upon his fate; there was no re
"Let them be at the door by eleven," said Mr. Pick
"Very well, sir," replied the waiter.
The waiter retired; the breakfast concluded; and the travellers ascended to their respective bed-rooms, to prepare a change of clothing, to take with them on their approaching expedition.
Mr. Pickwick had made his preliminary arrangements, and was looking over the coffee-room blinds at the passengers in the street, when the waiter entered, and announced that the chaise was ready-an announcement which the vehicle itself confirmed, by forthwith appearing before the coffee-room blinds aforesaid.
It was a curious little green box on four wheels, with a low place like a wine bin for two behind and an elevated perch for one in front, drawn by an immense brown horse, displaying great symmetry of bone. An hostler stood near it, holding by the bridle another immense horse-apparently a near relative of the animal in the chaise-ready saddled for Mr. Winkle.
"Bless my soul!" said Mr. Pickwick, as they stood upon the pavement while the coats were being put in. soul! who's to drive? I never thought of that."
"Oh! you, of course," said Mr. Tupman.
"I!" exclaimed Mr. Pickwick.
"Not the slightest fear, sir," interposed the hostler. "Warrant him quiet, sir; a hinfant in arms might drive him."* "He don't shy, does he ?" inquired Mr. Pickwick.
"Shy, sir?-he wouldn't shy if he was to meet a vagginload of monkeys,† with their tails burnt off."
The last recommendation was indisputable. Mr. Tupman and Mr. Snodgrass got into the bin; Mr. Pickwick ascended to his perch, and deposited his feet on a floor-clothed shelf "erected beneath it, for that purpose."
Now, shiny Villiam," said the hostler to the deputy hostler, "give the gen'lm'n the ribbins." Shiny Villiam". so called, probably, from his sleek hair and oily countenance -placed the reins in Mr. Pickwick's left hand; and the upper hostler thrust a whip into his right.
"Woo!" cried Mr. Pickwick, as the tall quadruped evinced a decided inclination to back into the coffee-room window.
* A hinfant, an infant. Vaggin, wagon.
"Wo-o!" echoed Mr. Tupman and Mr. Snodgrass, from the bin.
Only his playfulness, gen'lm'n," said the head-hostler, encouragingly, "jist kitch* hold on him, Villiam." The deputy restrained the animal's impetuosity, and the principal ran to assist Mr. Winkle in mounting.
“Tother side, sir, if you please.'
"Blowed if the gen'lm'n worn't a gettin' up on the wrong side," whispered a grinning post-boy, to the inexpressibly gratified waiter.
Mr. Winkle, thus instructed, climbed into his saddle, with about as much difficulty as he would have experienced in getting up the side of a first-rate man-of-war.
"All right?" inquired Mr. Pickwick, with an inward presentiment that it was all wrong.
All right," replied Mr. Winkle faintly.
"Let 'em go," cried the hostler,-" hold him in, sir; and away went the chaise, and the saddle horse, with Mr. Pickwick on the box of the one, and Mr. Winkle on the back of the other, to the delight and gratification of the whole innyard.
"What makes him go sideways?" said Mr. Snodgrass in the bin, to Mr. Winkle in the saddle.
"I can't imagine," replied Mr. Winkle. His horse was going up the street in the most mysterious manner-side first, with his head towards one side of the way, and his tail to the other.
Mr. Pickwick had no leisure to observe either this, or any other particular, the whole of his faculties being concentrated in the management of the animal attached to the chaise, who displayed various peculiarities, highly interesting to a bystander, but by no means equally amusing to any one seated behind him. Besides constantly jerking his head up, in a very unpleasant and uncomfortable manner, and tugging at the reins to an extent which rendered it a matter of great difficulty for Mr. Pickwick to hold them, he had a singular propensity for darting suddenly every now and then to the side of the road, then stopping short, and then rushing forward for some minutes, at a speed which it was wholly impossible to control.
* Jist kitch, just catch. Blowed if the gen'lm'n worn't a gettin' up, I will be hanged if the gentleman was not getting up.