Page:Hopkinson Smith--In Dickens's London.djvu/42

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you know. Little distance after you've passed Saint George's Church—turns out of the High Street on the right hand side the way."

To have refused such an invitation from such a host was out of the question. Mr. Pickwick would not only come, but it would give him the greatest pleasure to come, the occasion being celebrated by a "party" made famous the world over as "Bob Sawyer's party" than which there is nothing more delightful in the whole range of modern fiction.

Great preparations we are told had been made for this festivity. Mr. Bob Sawyer had himself purchased the spirits at a wine vaults in High Street; the punch was ready-made in a red pan in the bedroom; a little table, covered with a green baize cloth, had been borrowed from the parlour, to play at cards on; and the glasses of the establishment, together with those which had been loaned for the occasion by the public-house, were all drawn up on a tray: nothing, in fact, had been omitted which could in any way add to the enjoyment of the evening. And yet, notwithstanding the highly satisfactory nature of all these arrangements, there was no question that a storm was brewing in the domestic atmosphere. This could plainly be seen in the hurried movements of several small puff clouds, one of which was slowly settling over the countenance of Mr. Bob Sawyer as he sat by his fireside awaiting the arrival of his guests. Another, equally ominous, had swept in the direction of that gentleman's landlady, while a third was slowly enveloping Bob's companion and fellow lodger, Mr. Ben Allen, who after gazing intently on the coals, had remarked in a tone of melancholy, after a long silence: