Page:Pieces People Ask For.djvu/29

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convince Mr. Pickwick that he was falling asleep; so he roused himself, and began to undress, when he recollected he had left his watch on the table down-stairs.

Now, this watch was a special favorite with Mr. Pickwick, having been carried about, beneath the shadow of his waistcoat, for a greater number of years than we feel called upon to state at present. The possibility of going to sleep unless it were ticking gently beneath his pillow, or in his watch-pocket over his head, had never entered Mr. Pickwick's brain. So as it was pretty late now, and he was unwilling to ring his bell at that hour of the night, he slipped on his coat, of which he had just divested himself, and, taking the japanned candlestick in his hand, walked quietly down-stairs.

The more stairs Mr. Pickwick went down, the more stairs there seemed to be to descend; and again and again, when Mr. Pickwick got into some narrow passage, and began to congratulate himself on having gained the ground-floor, did another flight of stairs appear before his astonished eyes. At last he reached a stone hall, which he remembered to have seen when he entered the house. Passage after passage did he explore; room after room did he peep into; at length, just as he was on the point of giving up the search in despair, he opened the door of the identical room in which he had spent the evening, and beheld his missing property on the table.

Mr. Pickwick seized the watch in triumph, and proceeded to retrace his steps to his bed-chamber. If his progress downwards had been attended with difficulties and uncertainty, his journey back was infinitely more perplexing. Rows of doors garnished with boots of every shape, make, and size, branched off in every possible direction. A dozen times did he softly turn the handle of some bedroom door which resembled his own, when a gruff cry from within, of "Who the devil's that?" or "What do you want here?" caused him to steal away, on tiptoe, with a marvellous celerity. He was reduced to the verge of despair, when an open door attracted his attention. He peeped in—right at last! There were the two beds, whose situation he perfectly remembered, and the fire still burning. His candle, not a long one when he first received it, had flickered away in the draughts of air through which he had passed, and sunk into the socket just as he closed the door after him. "No