"Yes, did he," replied the first; "and then arter aggerawatin' me to assault him, gets three witnesses here to prove it. But I'll give it him, if I've six months for it. Come on!" and the cabman dashed his hat upon the ground, with a reckless disregard of his own private property, and knocked Mr. Pickwick's spectacles off, and followed up the attack with a blow on Mr. Pickwick's nose, and another on Mr. Pickwick's chest, and a third in Mr. Snodgrass's eye, and a fourth, by way of variety, in Mr. Tupman's waistcoat, and then danced into the road, and then back again to the pavement, and finally dashed the whole temporary supply of breath out of Mr. Winkle's body; and all in half-a-dozen seconds.
"Where's an officer?" said Mr. Snodgrass.
"Put 'em under the pump," suggested a hot-pieman.
"You shall smart for this," gasped Mr. Pickwick.
"Informers!" shouted the crowd.
"Come on," cried the cabman, who had been sparring without cessation the whole time.
The mob had hitherto been passive spectators of the scene, but as the intelligence of the Pickwickians being informers was spread among them, they began to canvass with considerable vivacity the propriety of enforcing the heated pastry-vendor's proposition; and there is no saying what acts of personal aggression they might have committed had not the affray been unexpectedly terminated by the interposition of a new comer.
"What's the fun?" said a rather tall thin young man, in a green coat, emerging suddenly from the coach yard.
"Informers!" shouted the crowd again.
"We are not," roared Mr. Pickwick, in a tone which, to any dispassionate listener, carried conviction with it.
"Ain't you, though,—ain't you?" said the young man, appealing to Mr. Pickwick, and making his way through the crowd by the infallible process of elbowing the countenances of its component members.