"The Pickwick Papers" is Charles Dickens' first novel. It was published in 1837 and was a great success. It has been translated into many languages since then and is read with interest all over the world. Everybody enjoys the amusing adventures of Mr Pickwick, his servant Sam Weller and the members of the famous Pickwick Club. Here is an extract from the novel.
One fine winter day Mr Wardle, in whose house Mr Pickwick and his friends were staying, said:
"What d'you say to an hour on the ice?" Everybody thought it was a good idea.
"You skate, Winkle, don't you?" (Mr Wardle had often heard Mr Winkle say that he went in for sports.)
"Ye-yes, oh yes," replied Mr Winkle. "But I - I - am rather out of practice."
"Oh, do skate, Mr Winkle," said one of the ladies. "I do so like to watch people skating."
"Oh, it's so graceful," said another young lady. A third young lady said it was very elegant.
"I should be very happy, I'm sure," said Mr Winkle, reddening, "but I've got no skates."
Hearing this, one of Mr Winkle's friends immediately promised to lend him his own pair.
"You needn't trouble about skates," somebody added. "There are lots of them downstairs."
Mr Winkle said he was very pleased, but looked rather uncomfortable.
Old Wardle led the way to a very nice skating-rink on a small lake near his house. The snow had already been swept away. The younger guests immediately put on their skates. Old Wardle soon joined them and they successfully performed a dance on the ice. All this time, Mr Winkle, blue with cold, was trying to put on his skates. After this had been done, Mr Winkle was raised to his feet by Sam Weller.
"Now, sir," said Sam. "Show them how to do it!"
"Stop, Sam, stop," said Mr Winkle, trembling and catching hold of Sam's arm with the grasp of a drowning man.
"How slippery it is, Sam!"
"Not an uncommon thing with ice, sir," answered Mr Weller. "Hold up, sir."