by a little cuffing and hustling for maltreatment sustained at othei
hands that night. All these assailants had to be rebutted, some by
fair words, some by foul, and some by blows. But Will INIarks was
not the man to be stopped or turned back now he had penetrated'
so far, and though he got on slowly, still he made his way dowr
Fleet Street and reached the church at last
As he had been forewarned, all was in readiness. Directly he
stopped, the coffin was. removed by four men, who appeared so
suddenly that they seemed to have started from the earth. A fifth
mounted the cart, and scarcely allowing Will time to snatch from
it a little bundle containing such of his own clothes as he had
thrown off on assuming his disguise, drove briskly away. Will
never saw cart or man again.
He followed the body into the church, and it was well he lost
no time in doing so, for the door was immediately closed. There
was no light in the building save that which came from a couple
of torches borne by two men in cloaks, who stood upon the brink
66 MASTER HUMPHREY'S CLOCK
of a vault. Each supported a female figure, and all observed a
By this dim and solemn glare, which made Will feel as though
light itself were dead, and its tomb the dreary arches that frowned
above, they placed the coffin in the vault, with uncovered heads,
and closed it up. One of the torch-bearers then turned to Will,
and stretched forth his hand, in which was a purse of gold. Some-
thing told him directly that those were the same eyes which he had
seen beneath the mask.
'Take it,' said the cavalier in a low voice, 'and be happy. Though
these have been hasty obsequies, and no priest has blessed the
work, there will not be the less peace with thee thereafter, for hav-
ing laid his bones beside those of his little children. Keep thy own
counsel, for thy sake no less than ours, and God be with thee!'
'The blessing of a widowed mother on thy head, good friend!'
cried the younger lady through her tears; 'the blessing of one who
has now no hope of rest but in this grave!'
Will stood with the purse in his hand, and involuntarily made a
gesture as though he would return it, for though a thoughtless
fellow, he was of a frank and generous nature. But the two gentle-
men, extinguishing their torches, cautioned him to be gone, as
their common safety would be endangered by a longer delay; and
at the same time their retreating footsteps sounded through the
church. He turned, therefore, towards the point at which he had
entered, and seeing by a faint gleam in the distance that the door
was again partially open, groped his way towards it and so passed
into the street.
Meantime the local authorities of Kingston had kept watch
and ward all the previous night, fancying every now and then
that dismal shrieks w^ere borne towards them on the wind, and
frequently winking to each other, and drawing closer to the fire as
they drank the health of the lonely sentinel, upon whom a clerical
gentleman present was especially severe by reason of his levity
and youthful folly. Two or three of the gravest in company, who
were of a theological turn, propounded to him the question,
whether such a character was not but poorly armed for single
combat with the Devil, and whether he himself would not have
been a stronger opponent; but the clerical gentleman, sharply
reproving them for their presumption in discussing such ques-
MASTER HUMPHREY'S CLOCK 67
tions, clearly showed that a fitter champion than Will could
scarcely have been selected, not only for that being a child of
Satan, he was the less likely to be alarmed by the appearance of
his own father, but because Satan himself would be at his ease in
such company, and would not scruple to kick up his heels to an
extent which it was quite certain he would never venture before
clerical eyes, under whose influence (as was notorious) he be-
came quite a tame and milk-and-water character.
But when next morning arrived, and with it no Will Marks,
and when a strong party repairing to the spot, as a strong party
ventured to do in broad day, found Will gone and the gibbet
empty, matters grew serious indeed. The day passing away and no
news arriving, and the night going on also without any intelligence,
the thing grew more tremendous still; in short, the neighbourhood
worked itself up to such a comfortable pitch of mystery and
horror, that it is a great question whether the general feeling was
not one of excessive disappointment, when, on the second morning
Will Marks returned.
However this may be, back Will came in a very cool and col-
lected state, and appearing not to trouble himself much about
anybody except old John Podgers, who, having been sent for, was
sitting in the Town Hall crying slowly, and dozing between
whiles. Having embraced his uncle and assured him of his safety,
Will mounted on a table and told his story to the crowd.
And surely they would have been the most unreasonable crowd
that ever assembled together, if they had been in the least respect
disappointed with the tale he told them; for besides describing
the Witches' Dance to the minutest motion of their legs, and per-
forming it in character on the table, with the assistance of a
broomstick, he related how they had carried off the body in a
copper caldron, and so bewitched him, that he lost his senses until
he found himself lying under a hedge at least ten miles off, whence
he had straightway returned as they then beheld. The story gained
such universal applause that it soon afterwards brought down
express from London the great witch-finder of the age, the Heaven-
born Hopkins, who having examined Will closely on several
points, pronounced it the most extraordinary and the best accredit-
ed witch-story ever known, under which title it was published at
the Three Bibles on London Bridge, in small quarto, with a view
68 MASTER HUMPHREY'S CLOCK
of the caldron from an original drawing, and a portrait of the
clerical gentleman as he sat by the fire.
On one point Will was particularly careful: and that was to
describe for the witches he had seen, three impossible old females,
whose likenesses never were or will be. Thus he saved the lives of
the suspected parties, and of all other old women who were dragged
before him to be identified.
This circumstance occasioned John Podgers much grief and
sorrow, until happening one day to cast his eyes upon his house-
keeper, and observing her to be plainly afflicted with rheumatism,
he procured her to be burnt as an undoubted witch. For this
service to the state he was immediately knighted, and became
from that time Sir John Podgers.
Will Marks never gained any clue to the mystery in which he
had been an actor, nor did any inscription in the church, which
he often visited afterwards, nor any of the limited inquiries that
he dared to make, yield him the least assistance. As he kept his
own secret, he was compelled to spend the gold discreetly and
sparingly. In the course of time he married the young lady of
whom I have already told you, whose maiden name is not recorded,
with whom he led a prosperous and happy life. Years and years
after this adventure, it was his wont to tell her upon a stormy
night that it was a great comfort to him to think those bones, to
whomsoever they might have once belonged, were not bleaching in
the troubled air, but were mouldering away with the dust of their
own kith and kindred in a quiet grave.
FURTHER PARTICULARS OF MASTER HUMPHREY'S VISITOR
Being very full of Mr. Pickwick's application, and highly
pleased with the compliment he had paid me, it will be readily
supposed that long before our next night of meeting I communi-
cated it to my three friends, who unanimously voted his admis-
sion into our body. We all looked forward with some impatience
to the occasion which would enroll him among us, but I am
greatly mistaken if Jack Redburn and myself were not by many
degrees the most impatient of the party.
At length the night came, and a few minutes after ten Mr. Pick-
wick's knock was heard at the street-door. He was shown into a
MASTER HUMPHREY'S CLOCK 69
lower room, and I directly took my crooked stick and went to
accompany him upstairs, in order that he might be presented with
all honour and formality.
'Mr. Pickwick,' said I, on entering the room, 'I am rejoiced to
see you,— rejoiced to believe that this is but the opening of a long
series of visits to this house, and but the beginning of a close and
That gentleman made a suitable reply with a cordiality and
frankness peculiarly his own, and glanced with a smile towards
two persons behind the door, whom I had not at first observed, and
whom I immediately recognised as Mr. Samuel Weller and his
It was a warm evening, but the elder Mr. Weller was attired,
notwithstanding, in a most capacious greatcoat, and his chin en-
veloped in a large speckled shawl, such as is usually worn by stage
coachmen on active service. He looked very rosy and very stout,
especially about the legs, which appeared to have been compressed
into his top-boots with some difficulty. His broad-brimmed hat he
held under his left arm, and with the forefinger of his right hand
he touched his forehead a great many times in acknowledgment
of my presence.
'I am very glad to see you in such good health, Mr, Weller,'
'Why, thankee, sir,' returned Mr. Weller, 'the axle an't broke
yet. We keeps up a steady pace, — not too sewere, but vith a
moderate degree o' friction, — and the consekens is that ve 're still
a runnin' and comes in to the time reg'lar. — My son Samivel, sir,
as you may have read on in history,' added Mr. Weller, intro-
ducing his first-born.
I received Sam very graciously, but before he could say a word
his father struck in again.
'Samivel Veller, sir,' said the old gentleman, 'has conferred
upon me the ancient title o' grandfather vich had long laid dor-
mouse, and wos s'posed to be nearly hextinct in our family.
Sammy, relate a anecdote o' vun o' them boys,— that 'ere little
anecdote about young Tony sayin' as he vould smoke a pipe unbe-
known to his mother.'
'Be quiet, can't you?' said Sam; 'I never see such a old mag
pie — never ! '
70 MASTER HUMPHREY'S CLOCK
'That 'ere Tony is the blessedest boy/ said Mr. Weller, heed-
less of this rebuff, 'the blessedest boy as ever / see in my days! of
all the charmin'est infants as ever I heerd tell on, includin' them as
was kivered over by the robin-redbreasts arter they 'd committed
sooicide with blackberries, there never wos any like that 'ere little
Tony. He 's alvays a playin' vith a quart pot, that boy is! To see
him a settin' down on the doorstep pretending to drink out of it,
and fetching a long breath artervards, and smoking a bit of fire-
vood, and sayin', "Now I 'm grandfather," — to see him a doin'
that at two year old is better than any play as wos ever wrote.
"Now I 'm grandfather! " He wouldn't take a pint pot if you wos
to make him a present on it, but he gets his quart, and then he
says, "Now I 'm grandfather!" '
Mr. Weller was so overpowered by this picture that he straight-
way fell into a most alarming fit of coughing, which must cer-
tainly have been attended with some fatal result but for the dex-
terity and promptitude of Sam, who, taking a firm grasp of the
shawl just under his father's chin, shook him to and fro with
great violence, at the same time administering some smart blows,
between his shoulders. By this curious mode of treatment Mr.
Weller was finally recovered, but with a very crimson face, and in a
state of great exhaustion.
'He '11 do now, Sam,' said Mr. Pickwick, who had been in some
'He 11 do, sir!' cried Sam, looking reproachfully at his parent.
'Yes, he will do one o' these days, — he '11 do for his-self and then
he '11 wish he hadn't. Did anybody ever see sich a inconsiderate old
file, — laughing into conwulsions afore company, and stamping on
the floor as if he 'd brought his own carpet vith him and wos
under a wager to punch the pattern out in a given time? He '11 be-
gin again in a minute. There — he 's a goin' off — I said he would!'
In fact, ]\lr. Weller, whose mind was still running upon his
precocious grandson, was seen to shake his head from side to side,
while a laugh, working like an earthquake, below the surface, pro-
duced various extraordinary appearances in his face, chest, and
shoulders, — the more alarming because unaccompanied by any
noise whatever. These emotions, however, gradually subsided, and
after three or four short relapses he wiped his eyes with the cuff
of his coat, and looked about him with tolerable composure.
MASTER HUMPHREY'S CLOCK 71
'Afore the governor vith-draws/ said Mr. Weller, 'there is a
pint, respecting vich Sammy has a qvestion to ask. Vile that
qvestion is a perwadin' this here conwersation, p'raps the gen-
I'men vill permit me to re-tire.'
'Wot are you goin' away for?' demanded Sam, seizing his father
by the coat-tail.
'I never see such a undootiful boy as you, Samivel,' returned
Mr, Weller. 'Didn't you make a solemn promise, amountin' almost
to a speeches o' wow, that you 'd put that 'ere qvestion on my
'Well, I 'm agreeable to do it,' said Sam, 'but not if you go
cuttin' away like that, as the bull turned round and mildly ob-
served to the drover ven they wos a goadin' him into the butcher's
door. The fact is, sir,' said Sam, addressing me, 'that he wants to
know somethin' respectin' that 'ere lady as is housekeeper here.'
'Ay. What is that?'
'Vy, sir,' said Sam, grinning still more, 'he wishes to know
vether she — '
'In short,' interposed old Mr. Weller decisively, a perspiration
breaking out upon his forehead, 'vether that 'ere old creetur is or is
not a widder.'
Mr. Pickwick laughed heartily, and so did I, as I replied deci-
sively, that 'my housekeeper was a spinster.'
'There!' cried Sam, 'now you're satisfied. You hear she's a
'A wot?' said his father, with deep scorn.
'A spinster,' replied Sam.
Mr. Weller looked very hard at his son for a minute or two,
and then said,
'Never mind vether she makes jokes or not, that 's no matter.
Wot I say is, is that 'ere female a widder, or is she not?'
'Wot do you mean by her making jokes?' demanded Sam, quite
aghast at the obscurity of his parent's speech.
'Never you mind, Samivel,' returned Mr. Weller gravely; 'puns
may be wery good things or they may be wery bad 'uns, and a
female may be none the better or she may be none the vurse for
making of 'em; that 's got nothing to do vith widders.'
'Wy now,' said Sam, looking round, 'would anybody believe as a
72 MASTER HUMPHREY'S CLOCK
man at his time o' life could be running his head agin spinsters
and punsters being the same thing?'
'There an't a straw's difference between 'em/' said Mr. Weller.
'Your father didn't drive a coach for so many years, not to be
ekal to his own langvidge as far as that goes, Sammy.'
Avoiding the question of etymology, upon which the old gentle-
man's mind was quite made up, he was several times assured that
the housekeeper had never been married. He expressed great satis-
faction on hearing this, and apologised for the question, remarking
that he had been greatly terrified by a widow not long before, and
that his natural timidity was increased in consequence.
'It wos on the rail,' said Mr. Weller, with strong emphasis; T
wos a goin' dowm to Birmingham by the rail, and I wos locked up
in a close carriage vith a living widder. Alone we wos; the widder
and me was alone ; and I believe it wos only because we wos alone
and there wos no clergyman in the conwayance, that that 'ere
widder didn't marry me afore ve reached the half-way station.
Ven I think how she began a screaming as we wos a goin' under
them tunnels in the dark, — how she kept on a faintin' and ketchin'
hold o' me, — ^and how I tried to bust open the door as was tight-
locked and perwented all escape — Ah! It was a awful thing, most
Mr. Weller was so very much overcome by this retrospect that
he was unable, until he had wiped his brow several times, to return
any reply to the question whether he approved of railway com-
munication, notwithstanding that it would appear from the answer
which he ultimately gave, that he entertained strong opinions on
'I con-sider,' said Mr. Weller, 'that the rail is unconstitootional
and an inwaser o' priwileges, and I should wery much like to know
what that 'ere old Carter as once stood up for our liberties and wun
'em too, — I should like to know wot he vould say, if he wos alive
now, to Englishmen being locked up vith widders, or with anybody
again their wills. Wot a old Carter would have said, a old Coach-
man may say, and I as-sert that in that pint o' view alone, the
rail is an inwaser. As to the comfort, vere 's the comfort o' sittin'
in a harm-cheer lookin' at brick walls or heaps o' mud, never
comin' to a public-house, never seein' a glass o' ale, never goin'
through a pike, never meetin' a change o' no kind (horses or
MASTER HUMPHREY'S CLOCK 73
othervise), but alvays comin' to a place, ven you come to one at
all, the wery picter o' the last, vith the same p'leesemen standing
about, the same blessed old bell a ringin', the same unfort'nate
people standing behind the bars, a waitin' to be let in; and every-
thin' the same except the name, vich is wrcte up in the same sized
letters as the last name, and vith the same colours. As to the
/jonour and dignity o' traveling vere can that be vithout a coach-
man ; and wot 's the rail to sich coachmen and guards as is some-
times forced to go by it, but a outrage and a insult? As to the
pace, wot sort o' pace do you think I, Tony Veller, could have
kept a coach goin' at, for five hundred thousand pound a mile,
paid in adwance afore the coach was on the road? And as to
the ingein, — a nasty, wheezin', creakin', gaspin', puffin', bustin'
monster, alvays out o' breath, vith a shiny green-and-gold back,
like a unpleasant beetle in that 'ere gas magnifier, — as to the ingein
as is alvays a pourin' out red-hot coals at night, and black smoke
in the day, the sensiblest thing it does, in my opinion, is, ven
there 's somethin' in the vay, and it sets up that 'ere frightful
scream vich seems to say, ^'Now here 's two hundred and forty
passengers in the wery greatest extremity o' danger, and here 's
their two hundred and forty screams in vun!" '
By this time I began to fear that my friends would be rendered
impatient by my protracted absence. I therefore begged Mr. Pick-
wick to accompany me upstairs, and left the two Mr. Wellers in
the care of the housekeeper, laying strict injunctions upon her to
treat them with all possible hospitality.
As we were going upstairs, Mr. Pickwick put on his spectacles,
which he had held in his hand hitherto; arranged his neckerchief,
smoothed down his waistcoat, and made many other little prepara-
tions of that kind which men are accustomed to be mindful of,
when they are going among strangers for the first time, and are
anxious to impress them pleasantly. Seeing that I smiled, he smiled
too, and said that if it had occurred to him before he left home,
74 MASTER^ HUMPHREY'S CLOCK
he would certainly have presented himself in pumps and silk
'I would, indeed, my dear sir,' he said very seriously; 'I would
have shown my respect for the society, by laying aside my gaiters.'
'You may rest assured,' said I, 'that they would have regretted
your doing so very much, for they are quite attached to them.'
'No, reallyl' cried Mr. Pickwick, with manifest pleasure. 'Do
you think they care about my gaiters? Do you seriously think
that they identify me at all with my gaiters?'
'I am sure they do,' I replied.
'Well, now,' said Mr. Pickwick, 'that is one of the most charm-
ing and agreeable circumstances tha^t could possibly have occurred
I should not have written down this short conversation, but that
it developed a slight point in Mr. Pickwick's character, with which
I was not previously acquainted. He has a secret pride in his
legs. The manner in which he spoke, and the accompanying glance
he bestowed upon his tights, convince me that Mr. Pickwick re-
gards his legs with much innocent vanity.
'But here are our friends,' said I, opening the door and taking
his arm in mine; 'let them speak for themselves. — Gentlemen, I
present to you Mr. Pickwick.'
Mr. Pickwick and I must have been a good contrast just then. I,
leaning quietty on my crutch-stick, with something of a care-worn,
patient air; he, having hold of my arm, and bowing in every di-
rection with the most elastic politeness, and an expression of face
whose sprightly cheerfulness and good-humour knew no bounds.
The difference between us must have been more striking yet, as we
advanced towards the table, and the amiable gentleman, adapting
his jocund step to my poor tread, had his attention divided between
treating my infirmities with the utmost consideration, and affecting
to be wholly unconscious that I required any.
I made him personally known to each of my friends in turn.
First, to the deaf gentleman, whom he regarded with much in-
terest, and accosted with great frankness and cordiality. He had
evidently some vague idea, at the moment, that my friend being
deaf must be dumb also; for when the latter opened his lips to
express the pleasure it afforded him to know a gentleman of whom
MASTER HUMPHREY'S CLOCK 75
he had heard so much, Mr, Pickwick was so extremely discon-
certed, that I was obHged to step in to his rehef.
His meeting with Jack Redburn was quite a treat to see. Mr.
Pickwick smiled, and shook hands, and looked at him through his
spectacles, and under them, and over them, and nodded his head
approvingly, and then nodded to me, as much as to say, 'This is
just the man; you were quite right;' and then turned to Jack and
said a few hearty words, and then did and said everything over
again with unimpaired vivacity. As to Jack himself, he was quite
as much delighted v\^ith Mr. Pickw^ick as Mr. Pickwick could pos-
sibly be with him. Two people never can have met together since
the world began, who exchanged a warmer or more enthusiastic
It was amusing to observe the difference between this encounter
and that which succeeded, between Mr. Pickwick and Mr. Miles.
It was clear that the latter gentleman viewed our new member as a
kind of rival in the affections of Jack Redburn, and besides this,
he had more than once hinted to me, in secret, that although he
had no doubt Mr. Pickwick was a very worthy man, still he did
consider that some of his exploits were unbecoming a gentleman of
his years and gravity. Over and above these grounds of distrust, it
is one of his fixed opinions, that the law never can by possibility
do anything wrong; he therefore looks upon Mr. Pickwick as one
who has justly suffered in purse and peace for a breach of his
plighted faith to an unprotected female, and holds that he is
called upon to regard him with some suspicion on that account.
These causes led to a rather cold and formal reception ; which Mr.
Pickwick acknowledged with the same stateliness and intense
politeness as was displayed on the other side. Indeed, he assumed
an air of such majestic defiance, that I was fearful he might break
out into some solemn protest or declaration, and therefore inducted
him into his chair without a moment's delay.
This piece of generalship was perfectly successful. The instant
he took his seat, Mr. Pickwick surveyed us all with a most benevo-
lent aspect, and was taken with a fit of smiling full five minutes
long. His interest in our ceremonies was immense. They are
not very numerous or complicated, and a description of them may
be comprised in very few words. As our transactions have already
been, and must necessarily continue to be, more or less anticipated
76 MASTER HUMPHREY'S CLOCK
by being presented in these pages at different times, and under
various forms, they do not require a detailed account.
Our first proceeding when we are assembled is to shake hands
all round, and greet each other with cheerful and pleasant looks.
Remembering that we assemble not only for the promotion of our
happiness, but with the view of adding something to the common
stock, an air of languor or indifference in any member of our
body would be regarded by the others as a kind of treason. We
have never had an offender in this respect ; but if we had, there is