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'There's Winkle,' said Mr. Tupman, pulling his friend by the sleeve.
'Where!' said Mr. Pickwick, putting on his spectacles, which he had fortunately kept in his pocket hitherto. 'There,' said Mr. Tupman, 'on the top of that house.' And there, sure enough, in the leaden gutter of a tiled roof, were Mr. Winkle and Mrs. Pott, comfortably seated in a couple of chairs, waving their handkerchiefs in token of recognition--a compliment which Mr. Pickwick returned by kissing his hand to the lady.
The proceedings had not yet commenced; and as an inactive crowd is generally disposed to be jocose, this very innocent action was sufficient to awaken their facetiousness.
'Oh, you wicked old rascal,' cried one voice, 'looking arter the girls, are you?'
'Oh, you wenerable sinner,' cried another.
'Putting on his spectacles to look at a married 'ooman!' said a third.
'I see him a-winkin' at her, with his wicked old eye,' shouted a fourth.
'Look arter your wife, Pott,' bellowed a fifth--and then there was a roar of laughter.
As these taunts were accompanied with invidious comparisons between Mr. Pickwick and an aged ram, and several witticisms of the like nature; and as they moreover rather tended to convey reflections upon the honour of an innocent lady, Mr. Pickwick's indignation was excessive; but as silence was proclaimed at the moment, he contented himself by scorching the mob with a look of pity for their misguided minds, at which they laughed more boisterously than ever.
'Silence!' roared the mayor's attendants.
'Whiffin, proclaim silence,' said the mayor, with an air of pomp befitting his lofty station. In obedience to this command the crier performed another concerto on the bell, whereupon a gentleman in the crowd called out 'Muffins'; which occasioned another laugh.
'Gentlemen,' said the mayor, at as loud a pitch as he could possibly force his voice to--'gentlemen. Brother electors of the borough of Eatanswill. We are met here to-day for the purpose of choosing a representative in the room of our late--'
Here the mayor was interrupted by a voice in the crowd.
'Suc-cess to the mayor!' cried the voice, 'and may he never desert the nail and sarspan business, as he got his money by.'
This allusion to the professional pursuits of the orator was received with a storm of delight, which, with a bell-accompaniment, rendered the remainder of his speech inaudible, with the exception of the concluding sentence, in which he thanked the meeting for the patient attention with which they heard him throughout--an expression of gratitude which elicited another burst of mirth, of about a quarter of an hour's duration.
Next, a tall, thin gentleman, in a very stiff white neckerchief, after being repeatedly desired by the crowd to 'send a boy home, to ask whether he hadn't left his voice under the pillow,' begged to nominate a fit and proper person to represent them in Parliament. And when he said it was Horatio Fizkin, Esquire, of Fizkin Lodge, near Eatanswill, the Fizkinites applauded, and the Slumkeyites groaned, so long, and so loudly, that both he and the seconder might have sung comic songs in lieu of speaking, without anybody's being a bit the wiser.