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48

ELECTIONS

sent it to Mr. Perker forthwith, if lie should happen to be in the house. The waiter retired; and reappearing almost immediately with a request that Mr. Pickwick would follow him, led the way to a large room on the first floor, where, seated at a long table covered with books and papers, was Mr. Perker.

"Ah—ah, my dear sir," said the little man, advancing to meet him; "very happy to see you, my dear sir, very. Pray sit down. So you have carried your intention into effect. You have come down here to see an election—eh?"

Mr. Pickwick replied in the affirmative.

"Spirited contest, my dear sir," said the little man.

" I am delighted to hear it," said Mr Pickwick, rubbing his hands. "I like to see sturdy patriotism, on whatever side it is called forth. And so it's a spirited contest?"

"Oh yes," said the little man, "very much so, indeed. We have opened all the public-houses in the place, and left our adversary nothing but the beer-shops. Masterly stroke of policy that, my dear sir, eh?" The little man smiled complacently and took a large pinch of snuff.

"And what are the probabilities as to the result of the contest?" inquired Mr. Pickwick.

"Why, doubtful, my dear sir; rather doubtful as yet," replied the little man. "Fizkin's people have got three-and-thirty voters in the lock-up coach-house at the White Hart."

"In the coach-house!" said Mr. Pickwick, considerably astonished by this second stroke of policy.

"They keep 'em locked up there till they want'em," resumed the little man. "The effect of that is, you see, to prevent our getting at them; and even if we could, it would be of no use, for

1. complacently: pleased with oneseif.

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