"No, sir," replied Mr. Pickwick, " he is a guest of ours."
"He is a member of your club, or I am mistaken?" said the Lieutenant, inquiringly.
"Certainly not," responded Mr. Pickwick.
"And never wears your club-button?" said the Lieutenant.
"No—never!" replied the astonished Mr. Pickwick.
Lieutenant Tappleton turned round to his friend Doctor Slammer, with a scarcely perceptible shrug of the shoulder, as if implying some doubt of the accuracy of his recollection.The little Doctor looked wrathful, but confounded; and Mr. Payne gazed with a ferocious aspect on the beaming countenance of the unconscious Pickwick.
"Sir," said the Doctor, suddenly addressing Mr. Tupman, in a tone which made that gentleman start as perceptibly as if a pin had been cunningly inserted in the calf of his leg, "you were at the ball here last night!"
Mr. Tupman gasped a faint affirmative, looking very hard at Mr. Pickwick all the while.
"That person was your companion," said the Doctor, pointing to the still unmoved stranger.
Mr. Tupman admitted the fact.
"Now, sir," said the Doctor to the stranger, "I ask you once again, in the presence of these gentlemen, whether you choose to give me your card, and to receive the treatment of a gentleman; or whether you impose upon me the necessity of personally chastising you on the spot?"
"Stay, sir," said Mr. Pickwick, "I really cannot allow this matter to go any further without some explanation. Tupman, recount the circumstances."
Mr. Tupman, thus solemnly abjured, stated the case in a few words; touched slightly on the borrowing of the coat; expatiated largely on its having been done "after dinner;" wound up with a little penitence on his own account; and left the stranger to clear himself as he best could.
He was apparently about to proceed to do so, when Lieutenant Tappleton, who had been eyeing him with great