The GAZETTE warned the electors of Eatanswill that the eyes not only of England, but of the whole civilised world, were upon them; and the INDEPENDENT imperatively demanded to know, whether the constituency of Eatanswill were the grand fellows they had always taken them for, or base and servile tools, undeserving alike of the name of Englishmen and the blessings of freedom. Never had such a commotion agitated the town before.
It was late in the evening when Mr. Pickwick and his companions, assisted by Sam, dismounted from the roof of the Eatanswill coach. Large blue silk flags were flying from the windows of the Town Arms Inn, and bills were posted in every sash, intimating, in gigantic letters, that the Honourable Samuel Slumkey's committee sat there daily. A crowd of idlers were assembled in the road, looking at a hoarse man in the balcony, who was apparently talking himself very red in the face in Mr. Slumkey's behalf; but the force and point of whose arguments were somewhat impaired by the perpetual beating of four large drums which Mr. Fizkin's committee had stationed at the street corner. There was a busy little man beside him, though, who took off his hat at intervals and motioned to the people to cheer, which they regularly did, most enthusiastically; and as the red- faced gentleman went on talking till he was redder in the face than ever, it seemed to answer his purpose quite as well as if anybody had heard him.
The Pickwickians had no sooner dismounted than they were surrounded by a branch mob of the honest and independent, who forthwith set up three deafening cheers, which being responded to by the main body (for it's not at all necessary for a crowd to know what they are cheering about), swelled into a tremendous roar of triumph, which stopped even the red-faced man in the balcony.
'Hurrah!' shouted the mob, in conclusion.
'One cheer more,' screamed the little fugleman in the balcony, and out shouted the mob again, as if lungs were cast-iron, with steel works.
'Slumkey for ever!' roared the honest and independent.
'Slumkey for ever!' echoed Mr. Pickwick, taking off his hat. 'No Fizkin!' roared the crowd.
'Certainly not!' shouted Mr. Pickwick. 'Hurrah!' And then there was another roaring, like that of a whole menagerie when the elephant has rung the bell for the cold meat.
'Who is Slumkey?'whispered Mr. Tupman.
'I don't know,' replied Mr. Pickwick, in the same tone. 'Hush. Don't ask any questions. It's always best on these occasions to do what the mob do.'
'But suppose there are two mobs?' suggested Mr. Snodgrass.
'Shout with the largest,' replied Mr. Pickwick.
Volumes could not have said more.
They entered the house, the crowd opening right and left to let them pass, and cheering vociferously. The first object of consideration was to secure quarters for the night.
'Can we have beds here?' inquired Mr. Pickwick, summoning the waiter.
'Don't know, Sir,' replied the man; 'afraid we're full, sir--I'll inquire, Sir.' Away he went for that purpose, and presently returned, to ask whether the gentleman were 'Blue.'
As neither Mr. Pickwick nor his companions took any vital interest in the cause of either candidate, the question was rather a difficult one to answer. In this dilemma Mr. Pickwick bethought himself of his new friend, Mr. Perker.
'Do you know a gentleman of the name of Perker?' inquired Mr. Pickwick.
'Certainly, Sir; Honourable Mr. Samuel Slumkey's agent.'
'He is Blue, I think?'
'Oh, yes, Sir.'
'Then WE are Blue,' said Mr.