Part 5 out of 20
purpose was of an amorous tendency. Miss Charity affected to
reprove so great a liberty; but she could not help smiling. He was
a strange boy, to be sure. There was always some ground of
probability and likelihood mingled with his absurd behaviour. That
was the best of it!
'But I don't know any gentlemen, Bailey,' said Miss Pecksniff. 'I
think you must have made a mistake.'
Mr Bailey smiled at the extreme wildness of such a supposition, and
regarded the young ladies with unimpaired affability.
'My dear Merry,' said Charity, 'who CAN it be? Isn't it odd? I
have a great mind not to go to him really. So very strange, you
The younger sister plainly considered that this appeal had its
origin in the pride of being called upon and asked for; and that it
was intended as an assertion of superiority, and a retaliation upon
her for having captured the commercial gentlemen. Therefore, she
replied, with great affection and politeness, that it was, no doubt,
very strange indeed; and that she was totally at a loss to conceive
what the ridiculous person unknown could mean by it.
'Quite impossible to divine!' said Charity, with some sharpness,
'though still, at the same time, you needn't be angry, my dear.'
'Thank you,' retorted Merry, singing at her needle. 'I am quite
aware of that, my love.'
'I am afraid your head is turned, you silly thing,' said Cherry.
'Do you know, my dear,' said Merry, with engaging candour, 'that I
have been afraid of that, myself, all along! So much incense and
nonsense, and all the rest of it, is enough to turn a stronger head
than mine. What a relief it must be to you, my dear, to be so very
comfortable in that respect, and not to be worried by those odious
men! How do you do it, Cherry?'
This artless inquiry might have led to turbulent results, but for
the strong emotions of delight evinced by Bailey junior, whose
relish in the turn the conversation had lately taken was so acute,
that it impelled and forced him to the instantaneous performance of
a dancing step, extremely difficult in its nature, and only to be
achieved in a moment of ecstasy, which is commonly called The Frog's
Hornpipe. A manifestation so lively, brought to their immediate
recollection the great virtuous precept, 'Keep up appearances
whatever you do,' in which they had been educated. They forbore at
once, and jointly signified to Mr Bailey that if he should presume
to practice that figure any more in their presence, they would
instantly acquaint Mrs Todgers with the fact, and would demand his
condign punishment, at the hands of that lady. The young gentleman
having expressed the bitterness of his contrition by affecting to
wipe away scalding tears with his apron, and afterwards feigning to
wring a vast amount of water from that garment, held the door open
while Miss Charity passed out; and so that damsel went in state
upstairs to receive her mysterious adorer.
By some strange occurrence of favourable circumstances he had found
out the drawing-room, and was sitting there alone.
'Ah, cousin!' he said. 'Here I am, you see. You thought I was
lost, I'll be bound. Well! how do you find yourself by this time?'
Miss Charity replied that she was quite well, and gave Mr Jonas
Chuzzlewit her hand.
'That's right,' said Mr Jonas, 'and you've got over the fatigues of
the journey have you? I say. How's the other one?'
'My sister is very well, I believe,' returned the young lady. 'I
have not heard her complain of any indisposition, sir. Perhaps you
would like to see her, and ask her yourself?'
'No, no cousin!' said Mr Jonas, sitting down beside her on the
window-seat. 'Don't be in a hurry. There's no occasion for that,
you know. What a cruel girl you are!'
'It's impossible for YOU to know,' said Cherry, 'whether I am or
'Well, perhaps it is,' said Mr Jonas. 'I say--Did you think I was
lost? You haven't told me that.'
'I didn't think at all about it,' answered Cherry.
'Didn't you though?' said Jonas, pondering upon this strange reply.
'Did the other one?'
'I am sure it's impossible for me to say what my sister may, or may
not have thought on such a subject,' cried Cherry. 'She never said
anything to me about it, one way or other.'
'Didn't she laugh about it?' inquired Jonas.
'No. She didn't even laugh about it,' answered Charity.
'She's a terrible one to laugh, an't she?' said Jonas, lowering his
'She is very lively,' said Cherry.
'Liveliness is a pleasant thing--when it don't lead to spending
money. An't it?' asked Mr Jonas.
'Very much so, indeed,' said Cherry, with a demureness of manner
that gave a very disinterested character to her assent.
'Such liveliness as yours I mean, you know,' observed Mr Jonas, as
he nudged her with his elbow. 'I should have come to see you
before, but I didn't know where you was. How quick you hurried off,
'I was amenable to my papa's directions,' said Miss Charity.
'I wish he had given me his direction,' returned her cousin, 'and
then I should have found you out before. Why, I shouldn't have
found you even now, if I hadn't met him in the street this morning.
What a sleek, sly chap he is! Just like a tomcat, an't he?'
'I must trouble you to have the goodness to speak more respectfully
of my papa, Mr Jonas,' said Charity. 'I can't allow such a tone as
that, even in jest.'
'Ecod, you may say what you like of MY father, then, and so I give
you leave,' said Jonas. 'I think it's liquid aggravation that
circulates through his veins, and not regular blood. How old should
you think my father was, cousin?'
'Old, no doubt,' replied Miss Charity; 'but a fine old gentleman.'
'A fine old gentleman!' repeated Jonas, giving the crown of his hat
an angry knock. 'Ah! It's time he was thinking of being drawn out a
little finer too. Why, he's eighty!'
'Is he, indeed?' said the young lady.
'And ecod,' cried Jonas, 'now he's gone so far without giving in, I
don't see much to prevent his being ninety; no, nor even a hundred.
Why, a man with any feeling ought to be ashamed of being eighty, let
alone more. Where's his religion, I should like to know, when he
goes flying in the face of the Bible like that? Threescore-and-
ten's the mark, and no man with a conscience, and a proper sense of
what's expected of him, has any business to live longer.'
Is any one surprised at Mr Jonas making such a reference to such a
book for such a purpose? Does any one doubt the old saw, that the
Devil (being a layman) quotes Scripture for his own ends? If he
will take the trouble to look about him, he may find a greater
number of confirmations of the fact in the occurrences of any single
day, than the steam-gun can discharge balls in a minute.
'But there's enough of my father,' said Jonas; 'it's of no use to go
putting one's self out of the way by talking about HIM. I called to
ask you to come and take a walk, cousin, and see some of the sights;
and to come to our house afterwards, and have a bit of something.
Pecksniff will most likely look in in the evening, he says, and
bring you home. See, here's his writing; I made him put it down
this morning when he told me he shouldn't be back before I came
here; in case you wouldn't believe me. There's nothing like proof,
is there? Ha, ha! I say--you'll bring the other one, you know!'
Miss Charity cast her eyes upon her father's autograph, which merely
said--'Go, my children, with your cousin. Let there be union among
us when it is possible;' and after enough of hesitation to impart a
proper value to her consent, withdrew to prepare her sister and
herself for the excursion. She soon returned, accompanied by Miss
Mercy, who was by no means pleased to leave the brilliant triumphs
of Todgers's for the society of Mr Jonas and his respected father.
'Aha!' cried Jonas. 'There you are, are you?'
'Yes, fright,' said Mercy, 'here I am; and I would much rather be
anywhere else, I assure you.'
'You don't mean that,' cried Mr Jonas. 'You can't, you know. It
'You can have what opinion you like, fright,' retorted Mercy. 'I am
content to keep mine; and mine is that you are a very unpleasant,
odious, disagreeable person.' Here she laughed heartily, and seemed
to enjoy herself very much.
'Oh, you're a sharp gal!' said Mr Jonas. 'She's a regular teaser,
an't she, cousin?'
Miss Charity replied in effect, that she was unable to say what the
habits and propensities of a regular teaser might be; and that even
if she possessed such information, it would ill become her to admit
the existence of any creature with such an unceremonious name in her
family; far less in the person of a beloved sister; 'whatever,'
added Cherry with an angry glance, 'whatever her real nature may
'Well, my dear,' said Merry, 'the only observation I have to make
is, that if we don't go out at once, I shall certainly take my
bonnet off again, and stay at home.'
This threat had the desired effect of preventing any farther
altercation, for Mr Jonas immediately proposed an adjournment, and
the same being carried unanimously, they departed from the house
straightway. On the doorstep, Mr Jonas gave an arm to each cousin;
which act of gallantry being observed by Bailey junior, from the
garret window, was by him saluted with a loud and violent fit of
coughing, to which paroxysm he was still the victim when they turned
Mr Jonas inquired in the first instance if they were good walkers
and being answered, 'Yes,' submitted their pedestrian powers to a
pretty severe test; for he showed them as many sights, in the way of
bridges, churches, streets, outsides of theatres, and other free
spectacles, in that one forenoon, as most people see in a
twelvemonth. It was observable in this gentleman, that he had an
insurmountable distaste to the insides of buildings, and that he was
perfectly acquainted with the merits of all shows, in respect of
which there was any charge for admission, which it seemed were every
one detestable, and of the very lowest grade of merit. He was so
thoroughly possessed with this opinion, that when Miss Charity
happened to mention the circumstance of their having been twice or
thrice to the theatre with Mr Jinkins and party, he inquired, as a
matter of course, 'where the orders came from?' and being told that
Mr Jinkins and party paid, was beyond description entertained,
observing that 'they must be nice flats, certainly;' and often in
the course of the walk, bursting out again into a perfect convulsion
of laughter at the surpassing silliness of those gentlemen, and
(doubtless) at his own superior wisdom.
When they had been out for some hours and were thoroughly fatigued,
it being by that time twilight, Mr Jonas intimated that he would
show them one of the best pieces of fun with which he was
acquainted. This joke was of a practical kind, and its humour lay
in taking a hackney-coach to the extreme limits of possibility for a
shilling. Happily it brought them to the place where Mr Jonas
dwelt, or the young ladies might have rather missed the point and
cream of the jest.
The old-established firm of Anthony Chuzzlewit and Son, Manchester
Warehousemen, and so forth, had its place of business in a very
narrow street somewhere behind the Post Office; where every house
was in the brightest summer morning very gloomy; and where light
porters watered the pavement, each before his own employer's
premises, in fantastic patterns, in the dog-days; and where spruce
gentlemen with their hands in the pockets of symmetrical trousers,
were always to be seen in warm weather, contemplating their
undeniable boots in dusty warehouse doorways; which appeared to be
the hardest work they did, except now and then carrying pens behind
their ears. A dim, dirty, smoky, tumble-down, rotten old house it
was, as anybody would desire to see; but there the firm of Anthony
Chuzzlewit and Son transacted all their business and their pleasure
too, such as it was; for neither the young man nor the old had any
other residence, or any care or thought beyond its narrow limits.
Business, as may be readily supposed, was the main thing in this
establishment; insomuch indeed that it shouldered comfort out of
doors, and jostled the domestic arrangements at every turn. Thus in
the miserable bedrooms there were files of moth-eaten letters
hanging up against the walls; and linen rollers, and fragments of
old patterns, and odds and ends of spoiled goods, strewed upon the
ground; while the meagre bedsteads, washing-stands, and scraps of
carpet, were huddled away into corners as objects of secondary
consideration, not to be thought of but as disagreeable necessities,
furnishing no profit, and intruding on the one affair of life. The
single sitting-room was on the same principle, a chaos of boxes and
old papers, and had more counting-house stools in it than chairs;
not to mention a great monster of a desk straddling over the middle
of the floor, and an iron safe sunk into the wall above the fireplace.
The solitary little table for purposes of refection and social
enjoyment, bore as fair a proportion to the desk and other business
furniture, as the graces and harmless relaxations of life had ever
done, in the persons of the old man and his son, to their pursuit
of wealth. It was meanly laid out now for dinner; and in a chair
before the fire sat Anthony himself, who rose to greet his son
and his fair cousins as they entered.
An ancient proverb warns us that we should not expect to find old
heads upon young shoulders; to which it may be added that we seldom
meet with that unnatural combination, but we feel a strong desire to
knock them off; merely from an inherent love we have of seeing
things in their right places. It is not improbable that many men,
in no wise choleric by nature, felt this impulse rising up within
them, when they first made the acquaintance of Mr Jonas; but if
they had known him more intimately in his own house, and had sat
with him at his own board, it would assuredly have been paramount to
all other considerations.
'Well, ghost!' said Mr Jonas, dutifully addressing his parent by
that title. 'Is dinner nearly ready?'
'I should think it was,' rejoined the old man.
'What's the good of that?' rejoined the son. 'I should think it
was. I want to know.'
'Ah! I don't know for certain,' said Anthony.
'You don't know for certain,' rejoined his son in a lower tone.
'No. You don't know anything for certain, YOU don't. Give me your
candle here. I want it for the gals.'
Anthony handed him a battered old office candlestick, with which Mr
Jonas preceded the young ladies to the nearest bedroom, where he
left them to take off their shawls and bonnets; and returning,
occupied himself in opening a bottle of wine, sharpening the
carving-knife, and muttering compliments to his father, until they
and the dinner appeared together. The repast consisted of a hot leg
of mutton with greens and potatoes; and the dishes having been set
upon the table by a slipshod old woman, they were left to enjoy it
after their own manner.
'Bachelor's Hall, you know, cousin,' said Mr Jonas to Charity. 'I
say--the other one will be having a laugh at this when she gets
home, won't she? Here; you sit on the right side of me, and I'll
have her upon the left. Other one, will you come here?'
'You're such a fright,' replied Mercy, 'that I know I shall have no
appetite if I sit so near you; but I suppose I must.'
'An't she lively?' whispered Mr Jonas to the elder sister, with his
favourite elbow emphasis.
'Oh I really don't know!' replied Miss Pecksniff, tartly. 'I am
tired of being asked such ridiculous questions.'
'What's that precious old father of mine about now?' said Mr Jonas,
seeing that his parent was travelling up and down the room instead
of taking his seat at table. 'What are you looking for?'
'I've lost my glasses, Jonas,' said old Anthony.
'Sit down without your glasses, can't you?' returned his son. 'You
don't eat or drink out of 'em, I think; and where's that sleepy-
headed old Chuffey got to! Now, stupid. Oh! you know your name, do
It would seem that he didn't, for he didn't come until the father
called. As he spoke, the door of a small glass office, which was
partitioned off from the rest of the room, was slowly opened, and a
little blear-eyed, weazen-faced, ancient man came creeping out. He
was of a remote fashion, and dusty, like the rest of the furniture;
he was dressed in a decayed suit of black; with breeches garnished
at the knees with rusty wisps of ribbon, the very paupers of
shoestrings; on the lower portion of his spindle legs were dingy
worsted stockings of the same colour. He looked as if he had
been put away and forgotten half a century before, and somebody
had just found him in a lumber-closet.
Such as he was, he came slowly creeping on towards the table, until
at last he crept into the vacant chair, from which, as his dim
faculties became conscious of the presence of strangers, and those
strangers ladies, he rose again, apparently intending to make a bow.
But he sat down once more without having made it, and breathing on
his shrivelled hands to warm them, remained with his poor blue nose
immovable above his plate, looking at nothing, with eyes that saw
nothing, and a face that meant nothing. Take him in that state, and
he was an embodiment of nothing. Nothing else.
'Our clerk,' said Mr Jonas, as host and master of the ceremonies:
'Is he deaf?' inquired one of the young ladies.
'No, I don't know that he is. He an't deaf, is he, father?'
'I never heard him say he was,' replied the old man.
'Blind?' inquired the young ladies.
'N--no. I never understood that he was at all blind,' said Jonas,
carelessly. 'You don't consider him so, do you, father?'
'Certainly not,' replied Anthony.
'What is he, then?'
'Why, I'll tell you what he is,' said Mr Jonas, apart to the young
ladies, 'he's precious old, for one thing; and I an't best pleased
with him for that, for I think my father must have caught it of him.
He's a strange old chap, for another,' he added in a louder voice,
'and don't understand any one hardly, but HIM!' He pointed to his
honoured parent with the carving-fork, in order that they might know
whom he meant.
'How very strange!' cried the sisters.
'Why, you see,' said Mr Jonas, 'he's been addling his old brains
with figures and book-keeping all his life; and twenty years ago or
so he went and took a fever. All the time he was out of his head
(which was three weeks) he never left off casting up; and he got to
so many million at last that I don't believe he's ever been quite
right since. We don't do much business now though, and he an't a
'A very good one,' said Anthony.
'Well! He an't a dear one at all events,' observed Jonas; 'and he
earns his salt, which is enough for our look-out. I was telling you
that he hardly understands any one except my father; he always
understands him, though, and wakes up quite wonderful. He's been
used to his ways so long, you see! Why, I've seen him play whist,
with my father for a partner; and a good rubber too; when he had no
more notion what sort of people he was playing against, than you
'Has he no appetite?' asked Merry.
'Oh, yes,' said Jonas, plying his own knife and fork very fast. 'He
eats--when he's helped. But he don't care whether he waits a minute
or an hour, as long as father's here; so when I'm at all sharp set,
as I am to-day, I come to him after I've taken the edge off my own
hunger, you know. Now, Chuffey, stupid, are you ready?'
Chuffey remained immovable.
'Always a perverse old file, he was,' said Mr Jonas, coolly helping
himself to another slice. 'Ask him, father.'
'Are you ready for your dinner, Chuffey?' asked the old man
'Yes, yes,' said Chuffey, lighting up into a sentient human creature
at the first sound of the voice, so that it was at once a curious
and quite a moving sight to see him. 'Yes, yes. Quite ready, Mr
Chuzzlewit. Quite ready, sir. All ready, all ready, all ready.'
With that he stopped, smilingly, and listened for some further
address; but being spoken to no more, the light forsook his face by
little and little, until he was nothing again.
'He'll be very disagreeable, mind,' said Jonas, addressing his
cousins as he handed the old man's portion to his father. 'He
always chokes himself when it an't broth. Look at him, now! Did
you ever see a horse with such a wall-eyed expression as he's got?
If it hadn't been for the joke of it I wouldn't have let him come
in to-day; but I thought he'd amuse you.'
The poor old subject of this humane speech was, happily for himself,
as unconscious of its purport as of most other remarks that were
made in his presence. But the mutton being tough, and his gums
weak, he quickly verified the statement relative to his choking
propensities, and underwent so much in his attempts to dine, that Mr
Jonas was infinitely amused; protesting that he had seldom seen him
better company in all his life, and that he was enough to make a man
split his sides with laughing. Indeed, he went so far as to assure
the sisters, that in this point of view he considered Chuffey
superior to his own father; which, as he significantly added, was
saying a great deal.
It was strange enough that Anthony Chuzzlewit, himself so old a man,
should take a pleasure in these gibings of his estimable son at the
expense of the poor shadow at their table. But he did,
unquestionably; though not so much--to do him justice--with
reference to their ancient clerk, as in exultation at the sharpness
of Jonas. For the same reason that young man's coarse allusions,
even to himself, filled him with a stealthy glee; causing him to rub
his hands and chuckle covertly, as if he said in his sleeve, 'I
taught him. I trained him. This is the heir of my bringing-up.
Sly, cunning, and covetous, he'll not squander my money. I worked
for this; I hoped for this; it has been the great end and aim of my
What a noble end and aim it was to contemplate in the attainment
truly! But there be some who manufacture idols after the fashion of
themselves, and fail to worship them when they are made; charging
their deformity on outraged nature. Anthony was better than these
at any rate.
Chuffey boggled over his plate so long, that Mr Jones, losing
patience, took it from him at last with his own hands, and requested
his father to signify to that venerable person that he had better
'peg away at his bread;' which Anthony did.
'Aye, aye!' cried the old man, brightening up as before, when this
was communicated to him in the same voice, 'quite right, quite
right. He's your own son, Mr Chuzzlewit! Bless him for a sharp
lad! Bless him, bless him!'
Mr Jonas considered this so particularly childish (perhaps with some
reason), that he only laughed the more, and told his cousins that he
was afraid one of these fine days, Chuffey would be the death of
him. The cloth was then removed, and the bottle of wine set upon
the table, from which Mr Jonas filled the young ladies' glasses,
calling on them not to spare it, as they might be certain there was
plenty more where that came from. But he added with some haste
after this sally that it was only his joke, and they wouldn't
suppose him to be in earnest, he was sure.
'I shall drink,' said Anthony, 'to Pecksniff. Your father, my
dears. A clever man, Pecksniff. A wary man! A hypocrite, though,
eh? A hypocrite, girls, eh? Ha, ha, ha! Well, so he is. Now,
among friends, he is. I don't think the worse of him for that,
unless it is that he overdoes it. You may overdo anything, my
darlings. You may overdo even hypocrisy. Ask Jonas!'
'You can't overdo taking care of yourself,' observed that hopeful
gentleman with his mouth full.
'Do you hear that, my dears?' cried Anthony, quite enraptured.
'Wisdom, wisdom! A good exception, Jonas. No. It's not easy to
'Except,' whispered Mr Jonas to his favourite cousin, 'except when
one lives too long. Ha, ha! Tell the other one that--I say!'
'Good gracious me!' said Cherry, in a petulant manner. 'You can
tell her yourself, if you wish, can't you?'
'She seems to make such game of one,' replied Mr Jonas.
'Then why need you trouble yourself about her?' said Charity. 'I am
sure she doesn't trouble herself much about you.'
'Don't she though?' asked Jonas.
'Good gracious me, need I tell you that she don't?' returned the
Mr Jonas made no verbal rejoinder, but he glanced at Mercy with an
odd expression in his face; and said THAT wouldn't break his heart,
she might depend upon it. Then he looked on Charity with even
greater favour than before, and besought her, as his polite manner
was, to 'come a little closer.'
'There's another thing that's not easily overdone, father,' remarked
Jonas, after a short silence.
'What's that?' asked the father; grinning already in anticipation.
'A bargain,' said the son. 'Here's the rule for bargains--"Do
other men, for they would do you." That's the true business precept.
All others are counterfeits.'
The delighted father applauded this sentiment to the echo; and was
so much tickled by it, that he was at the pains of imparting the
same to his ancient clerk, who rubbed his hands, nodded his palsied
head, winked his watery eyes, and cried in his whistling tones,
'Good! good! Your own son, Mr Chuzzlewit' with every feeble
demonstration of delight that he was capable of making. But this
old man's enthusiasm had the redeeming quality of being felt in
sympathy with the only creature to whom he was linked by ties of
long association, and by his present helplessness. And if there had
been anybody there, who cared to think about it, some dregs of a
better nature unawakened, might perhaps have been descried through
that very medium, melancholy though it was, yet lingering at the
bottom of the worn-out cask called Chuffey.
As matters stood, nobody thought or said anything upon the subject;
so Chuffey fell back into a dark corner on one side of the
fireplace, where he always spent his evenings, and was neither seen
nor heard again that night; save once, when a cup of tea was given
him, in which he was seen to soak his bread mechanically. There was
no reason to suppose that he went to sleep at these seasons, or that
he heard, or saw, or felt, or thought. He remained, as it were,
frozen up--if any term expressive of such a vigorous process can be
applied to him--until he was again thawed for the moment by a word
or touch from Anthony.
Miss Charity made tea by desire of Mr Jonas, and felt and looked so
like the lady of the house that she was in the prettiest confusion
imaginable; the more so from Mr Jonas sitting close beside her, and
whispering a variety of admiring expressions in her ear. Miss
Mercy, for her part, felt the entertainment of the evening to be so
distinctly and exclusively theirs, that she silently deplored the
commercial gentlemen--at that moment, no doubt, wearying for her
return--and yawned over yesterday's newspaper. As to Anthony, he
went to sleep outright, so Jonas and Cherry had a clear stage to
themselves as long as they chose to keep possession of it.
When the tea-tray was taken away, as it was at last, Mr Jonas
produced a dirty pack of cards, and entertained the sisters with
divers small feats of dexterity: whereof the main purpose of every
one was, that you were to decoy somebody into laying a wager with
you that you couldn't do it; and were then immediately to win and
pocket his money. Mr Jonas informed them that these accomplishments
were in high vogue in the most intellectual circles, and that large
amounts were constantly changing hands on such hazards. And it may
be remarked that he fully believed this; for there is a simplicity
of cunning no less than a simplicity of innocence; and in all
matters where a lively faith in knavery and meanness was required as
the ground-work of belief, Mr Jonas was one of the most credulous of
men. His ignorance, which was stupendous, may be taken into
account, if the reader pleases, separately.
This fine young man had all the inclination to be a profligate of
the first water, and only lacked the one good trait in the common
catalogue of debauched vices--open-handedness--to be a notable
vagabond. But there his griping and penurious habits stepped in;
and as one poison will sometimes neutralise another, when wholesome
remedies would not avail, so he was restrained by a bad passion from
quaffing his full measure of evil, when virtue might have sought to
hold him back in vain.
By the time he had unfolded all the peddling schemes he knew upon
the cards, it was growing late in the evening; and Mr Pecksniff not
making his appearance, the young ladies expressed a wish to return
home. But this, Mr Jonas, in his gallantry, would by no means
allow, until they had partaken of some bread and cheese and porter;
and even then he was excessively unwilling to allow them to depart;
often beseeching Miss Charity to come a little closer, or to stop a
little longer, and preferring many other complimentary petitions of
that nature in his own hospitable and earnest way. When all his
efforts to detain them were fruitless, he put on his hat and
greatcoat preparatory to escorting them to Todgers's; remarking that
he knew they would rather walk thither than ride; and that for his
part he was quite of their opinion.
'Good night,' said Anthony. 'Good night; remember me to--ha, ha,
ha!--to Pecksniff. Take care of your cousin, my dears; beware of
Jonas; he's a dangerous fellow. Don't quarrel for him, in any
'Oh, the creature!' cried Mercy. 'The idea of quarrelling for HIM!
You may take him, Cherry, my love, all to yourself. I make you a
present of my share.'
'What! I'm a sour grape, am I, cousin?' said Jonas.
Miss Charity was more entertained by this repartee than one would
have supposed likely, considering its advanced age and simple
character. But in her sisterly affection she took Mr Jonas to task
for leaning so very hard upon a broken reed, and said that he must
not be so cruel to poor Merry any more, or she (Charity) would
positively be obliged to hate him. Mercy, who really had her share
of good humour, only retorted with a laugh; and they walked home in
consequence without any angry passages of words upon the way. Mr
Jonas being in the middle, and having a cousin on each arm,
sometimes squeezed the wrong one; so tightly too, as to cause her
not a little inconvenience; but as he talked to Charity in whispers
the whole time, and paid her great attention, no doubt this was an
accidental circumstance. When they arrived at Todgers's, and the
door was opened, Mercy broke hastily from them, and ran upstairs;
but Charity and Jonas lingered on the steps talking together for
more than five minutes; so, as Mrs Todgers observed next morning, to
a third party, 'It was pretty clear what was going on THERE, and she
was glad of it, for it really was high time that Miss Pecksniff
thought of settling.'
And now the day was coming on, when that bright vision which had
burst on Todgers's so suddenly, and made a sunshine in the shady
breast of Jinkins, was to be seen no more; when it was to be packed,
like a brown paper parcel, or a fish-basket, or an oyster barrel or a
fat gentleman, or any other dull reality of life, in a stagecoach
and carried down into the country.
'Never, my dear Miss Pecksniffs,' said Mrs Todgers, when they
retired to rest on the last night of their stay, 'never have I seen
an establishment so perfectly broken-hearted as mine is at this
present moment of time. I don't believe the gentlemen will be the
gentlemen they were, or anything like it--no, not for weeks to come.
You have a great deal to answer for, both of you.'
They modestly disclaimed any wilful agency in this disastrous state
of things, and regretted it very much.
'Your pious pa, too,' said Mrs Todgers. 'There's a loss! My dear
Miss Pecksniffs, your pa is a perfect missionary of peace and love.'
Entertaining an uncertainty as to the particular kind of love
supposed to be comprised in Mr Pecksniff's mission, the young ladies
received the compliment rather coldly.
'If I dared,' said Mrs Todgers, perceiving this, 'to violate a
confidence which has been reposed in me, and to tell you why I must
beg of you to leave the little door between your room and mine open
tonight, I think you would be interested. But I mustn't do it, for I
promised Mr Jinkins faithfully, that I would be as silent as the
'Dear Mrs Todgers! What can you mean?'
'Why, then, my sweet Miss Pecksniffs,' said the lady of the house;
'my own loves, if you will allow me the privilege of taking that
freedom on the eve of our separation, Mr Jinkins and the gentlemen
have made up a little musical party among themselves, and DO intend,
in the dead of this night, to perform a serenade upon the stairs
outside the door. I could have wished, I own,' said Mrs Todgers,
with her usual foresight, 'that it had been fixed to take place an
hour or two earlier; because when gentlemen sit up late they drink,
and when they drink they're not so musical, perhaps, as when they
don't. But this is the arrangement; and I know you will be
gratified, my dear Miss Pecksniffs, by such a mark of their
The young ladies were at first so much excited by the news, that
they vowed they couldn't think of going to bed until the serenade
was over. But half an hour of cool waiting so altered their opinion
that they not only went to bed, but fell asleep; and were, moreover,
not ecstatically charmed to be awakened some time afterwards by
certain dulcet strains breaking in upon the silent watches of the
It was very affecting--very. Nothing more dismal could have been
desired by the most fastidious taste. The gentleman of a vocal turn
was head mute, or chief mourner; Jinkins took the bass; and the rest
took anything they could get. The youngest gentleman blew his
melancholy into a flute. He didn't blow much out of it, but that
was all the better. If the two Miss Pecksniffs and Mrs Todgers had
perished by spontaneous combustion, and the serenade had been in
honour of their ashes, it would have been impossible to surpass the
unutterable despair expressed in that one chorus, 'Go where glory
waits thee!' It was a requiem, a dirge, a moan, a howl, a wail, a
lament, an abstract of everything that is sorrowful and hideous in
sound. The flute of the youngest gentleman was wild and fitful. It
came and went in gusts, like the wind. For a long time together he
seemed to have left off, and when it was quite settled by Mrs
Todgers and the young ladies that, overcome by his feelings, he had
retired in tears, he unexpectedly turned up again at the very top of
the tune, gasping for breath. He was a tremendous performer. There
was no knowing where to have him; and exactly when you thought he
was doing nothing at all, then was he doing the very thing that
ought to astonish you most.
There were several of these concerted pieces; perhaps two or three
too many, though that, as Mrs Todgers said, was a fault on the right
side. But even then, even at that solemn moment, when the thrilling
sounds may be presumed to have penetrated into the very depths of
his nature, if he had any depths, Jinkins couldn't leave the
youngest gentleman alone. He asked him distinctly, before the
second song began--as a personal favour too, mark the villain in
that--not to play. Yes; he said so; not to play. The breathing of
the youngest gentleman was heard through the key-hole of the door.
He DIDN'T play. What vent was a flute for the passions swelling up
within his breast? A trombone would have been a world too mild.
The serenade approached its close. Its crowning interest was at
hand. The gentleman of a literary turn had written a song on the
departure of the ladies, and adapted it to an old tune. They all
joined, except the youngest gentleman in company, who, for the
reasons aforesaid, maintained a fearful silence. The song (which
was of a classical nature) invoked the oracle of Apollo, and
demanded to know what would become of Todgers's when CHARITY and
MERCY were banished from its walls. The oracle delivered no opinion
particularly worth remembering, according to the not infrequent
practice of oracles from the earliest ages down to the present time.
In the absence of enlightenment on that subject, the strain deserted
it, and went on to show that the Miss Pecksniffs were nearly related
to Rule Britannia, and that if Great Britain hadn't been an island,
there could have been no Miss Pecksniffs. And being now on a
nautical tack, it closed with this verse:
'All hail to the vessel of Pecksniff the sire!
And favouring breezes to fan;
While Tritons flock round it, and proudly admire
The architect, artist, and man!'
As they presented this beautiful picture to the imagination, the
gentlemen gradually withdrew to bed to give the music the effect of
distance; and so it died away, and Todgers's was left to its
Mr Bailey reserved his vocal offering until the morning, when he put
his head into the room as the young ladies were kneeling before
their trunks, packing up, and treated them to an imitation of the
voice of a young dog in trying circumstances; when that animal is
supposed by persons of a lively fancy, to relieve his feelings by
calling for pen and ink.
'Well, young ladies,' said the youth, 'so you're a-going home, are
you, worse luck?'
'Yes, Bailey, we're going home,' returned Mercy.
'An't you a-going to leave none of 'em a lock of your hair?'
inquired the youth. 'It's real, an't it?'
They laughed at this, and told him of course it was.
'Oh, is it of course, though?' said Bailey. 'I know better than
that. Hers an't. Why, I see it hanging up once, on that nail by
the winder. Besides, I have gone behind her at dinner-time and
pulled it; and she never know'd. I say, young ladies, I'm a-going
to leave. I an't a-going to stand being called names by her, no
Miss Mercy inquired what his plans for the future might be; in reply
to whom Mr Bailey intimated that he thought of going either into
top-boots, or into the army.
'Into the army!' cried the young ladies, with a laugh.
'Ah!' said Bailey, 'why not? There's a many drummers in the Tower.
I'm acquainted with 'em. Don't their country set a valley on 'em,
mind you! Not at all!'
'You'll be shot, I see,' observed Mercy.
'Well!' cried Mr Bailey, 'wot if I am? There's something gamey in
it, young ladies, an't there? I'd sooner be hit with a cannon-ball
than a rolling-pin, and she's always a-catching up something of that
sort, and throwing it at me, when the gentlemans' appetites is good.
Wot,' said Mr Bailey, stung by the recollection of his wrongs, 'wot,
if they DO consume the per-vishuns. It an't MY fault, is it?'
'Surely no one says it is,' said Mercy.
'Don't they though?' retorted the youth. 'No. Yes. Ah! oh! No one
mayn't say it is! but some one knows it is. But I an't a-going to
have every rise in prices wisited on me. I an't a-going to be
killed because the markets is dear. I won't stop. And therefore,'
added Mr Bailey, relenting into a smile, 'wotever you mean to give
me, you'd better give me all at once, becos if ever you come back
agin, I shan't be here; and as to the other boy, HE won't deserve
nothing, I know.'
The young ladies, on behalf of Mr Pecksniff and themselves, acted on
this thoughtful advice; and in consideration of their private
friendship, presented Mr Bailey with a gratuity so liberal that he
could hardly do enough to show his gratitude; which found but an
imperfect vent, during the remainder of the day, in divers secret
slaps upon his pocket, and other such facetious pantomime. Nor was
it confined to these ebullitions; for besides crushing a bandbox,
with a bonnet in it, he seriously damaged Mr Pecksniff's luggage, by
ardently hauling it down from the top of the house; and in short
evinced, by every means in his power, a lively sense of the favours
he had received from that gentleman and his family.
Mr Pecksniff and Mr Jinkins came home to dinner arm-in-arm; for the
latter gentleman had made half-holiday on purpose; thus gaining an
immense advantage over the youngest gentleman and the rest, whose
time, as it perversely chanced, was all bespoke, until the evening.
The bottle of wine was Mr Pecksniff's treat, and they were very
sociable indeed; though full of lamentations on the necessity of
parting. While they were in the midst of their enjoyment, old
Anthony and his son were announced; much to the surprise of Mr
Pecksniff, and greatly to the discomfiture of Jinkins.
'Come to say good-bye, you see,' said Anthony, in a low voice, to Mr
Pecksniff, as they took their seats apart at the table, while the
rest conversed among themselves. 'Where's the use of a division
between you and me? We are the two halves of a pair of scissors,
when apart, Pecksniff; but together we are something. Eh?'
'Unanimity, my good sir,' rejoined Mr Pecksniff, 'is always
'I don't know about that,' said the old man, 'for there are some
people I would rather differ from than agree with. But you know my
opinion of you.'
Mr Pecksniff, still having 'hypocrite' in his mind, only replied by
a motion of his head, which was something between an affirmative
bow, and a negative shake.
'Complimentary,' said Anthony. 'Complimentary, upon my word. It
was an involuntary tribute to your abilities, even at the time; and
it was not a time to suggest compliments either. But we agreed in
the coach, you know, that we quite understood each other.'
'Oh, quite!' assented Mr Pecksniff, in a manner which implied that
he himself was misunderstood most cruelly, but would not complain.
Anthony glanced at his son as he sat beside Miss Charity, and then
at Mr Pecksniff, and then at his son again, very many times. It
happened that Mr Pecksniff's glances took a similar direction; but
when he became aware of it, he first cast down his eyes, and then
closed them; as if he were determined that the old man should read
'Jonas is a shrewd lad,' said the old man.
'He appears,' rejoined Mr Pecksniff in his most candid manner, 'to
be very shrewd.'
'And careful,' said the old man.
'And careful, I have no doubt,' returned Mr Pecksniff.
'Look ye!' said Anthony in his ear. 'I think he is sweet upon you
'Tut, my good sir,' said Mr Pecksniff, with his eyes still closed;
'young people--young people--a kind of cousins, too--no more
sweetness than is in that, sir.'
'Why, there is very little sweetness in that, according to our
experience,' returned Anthony. 'Isn't there a trifle more here?'
'Impossible to say,' rejoined Mr Pecksniff. 'Quite impossible! You
'Yes, I know that,' said the old man, drily. 'It may last; I mean
the sweetness, not the surprise; and it may die off. Supposing it
should last, perhaps (you having feathered your nest pretty well,
and I having done the same), we might have a mutual interest in the
Mr Pecksniff, smiling gently, was about to speak, but Anthony
'I know what you are going to say. It's quite unnecessary. You
have never thought of this for a moment; and in a point so nearly
affecting the happiness of your dear child, you couldn't, as a
tender father, express an opinion; and so forth. Yes, quite right.
And like you! But it seems to me, my dear Pecksniff,' added Anthony,
laying his hand upon his sleeve, 'that if you and I kept up the joke
of pretending not to see this, one of us might possibly be placed in
a position of disadvantage; and as I am very unwilling to be that
party myself, you will excuse my taking the liberty of putting the
matter beyond a doubt thus early; and having it distinctly
understood, as it is now, that we do see it, and do know it. Thank
you for your attention. We are now upon an equal footing; which is
agreeable to us both, I am sure.'
He rose as he spoke; and giving Mr Pecksniff a nod of intelligence,
moved away from him to where the young people were sitting; leaving
that good man somewhat puzzled and discomfited by such very plain
dealing, and not quite free from a sense of having been foiled in
the exercise of his familiar weapons.
But the night-coach had a punctual character, and it was time to
join it at the office; which was so near at hand that they had
already sent their luggage and arranged to walk. Thither the whole
party repaired, therefore, after no more delay than sufficed for the
equipment of the Miss Pecksniffs and Mrs Todgers. They found the
coach already at its starting-place, and the horses in; there, too,
were a large majority of the commercial gentlemen, including the
youngest, who was visibly agitated, and in a state of deep mental
Nothing could equal the distress of Mrs Todgers in parting from the
young ladies, except the strong emotions with which she bade adieu
to Mr Pecksniff. Never surely was a pocket-handkerchief taken in
and out of a flat reticule so often as Mrs Todgers's was, as she
stood upon the pavement by the coach-door supported on either side
by a commercial gentleman; and by the sight of the coach-lamps
caught such brief snatches and glimpses of the good man's face, as
the constant interposition of Mr Jinkins allowed. For Jinkins, to
the last the youngest gentleman's rock a-head in life, stood upon the
coachstep talking to the ladies. Upon the other step was Mr Jonas,
who maintained that position in right of his cousinship; whereas the
youngest gentleman, who had been first upon the ground, was deep in
the booking-office among the black and red placards, and the
portraits of fast coaches, where he was ignominiously harassed by
porters, and had to contend and strive perpetually with heavy
baggage. This false position, combined with his nervous excitement,
brought about the very consummation and catastrophe of his miseries;
for when in the moment of parting he aimed a flower, a hothouse
flower that had cost money, at the fair hand of Mercy, it reached,
instead, the coachman on the box, who thanked him kindly, and stuck
it in his buttonhole.
They were off now; and Todgers's was alone again. The two young
ladies, leaning back in their separate corners, resigned themselves
to their own regretful thoughts. But Mr Pecksniff, dismissing all
ephemeral considerations of social pleasure and enjoyment,
concentrated his meditations on the one great virtuous purpose
before him, of casting out that ingrate and deceiver, whose presence
yet troubled his domestic hearth, and was a sacrilege upon the
altars of his household gods.
WILL BE SEEN IN THE LONG RUN, IF NOT IN THE SHORT ONE, TO CONCERN
MR PINCH AND OTHERS, NEARLY. MR PECKSNIFF ASSERTS THE DIGNITY OF
OUTRAGED VIRTUE. YOUNG MARTIN CHUZZLEWIT FORMS A DESPERATE
Mr Pinch and Martin, little dreaming of the stormy weather that
impended, made themselves very comfortable in the Pecksniffian
halls, and improved their friendship daily. Martin's facility, both
of invention and execution, being remarkable, the grammar-school
proceeded with great vigour; and Tom repeatedly declared, that if
there were anything like certainty in human affairs, or impartiality
in human judges, a design so new and full of merit could not fail to
carry off the first prize when the time of competition arrived.
Without being quite so sanguine himself, Martin had his hopeful
anticipations too; and they served to make him brisk and eager at
'If I should turn out a great architect, Tom,' said the new pupil
one day, as he stood at a little distance from his drawing, and eyed
it with much complacency, 'I'll tell you what should be one of the
things I'd build.'
'Aye!' cried Tom. 'What?'
'Why, your fortune.'
'No!' said Tom Pinch, quite as much delighted as if the thing were
done. 'Would you though? How kind of you to say so.'
'I'd build it up, Tom,' returned Martin, 'on such a strong
foundation, that it should last your life--aye, and your children's
lives too, and their children's after them. I'd be your patron,
Tom. I'd take you under my protection. Let me see the man who
should give the cold shoulder to anybody I chose to protect and
patronise, if I were at the top of the tree, Tom!'
'Now, I don't think,' said Mr Pinch, 'upon my word, that I was ever
more gratified than by this. I really don't.'
'Oh! I mean what I say,' retorted Martin, with a manner as free and
easy in its condescension to, not to say in its compassion for, the
other, as if he were already First Architect in ordinary to all the
Crowned Heads in Europe. 'I'd do it. I'd provide for you.'
'I am afraid,' said Tom, shaking his head, 'that I should be a
mighty awkward person to provide for.'
'Pooh, pooh!' rejoined Martin. 'Never mind that. If I took it in
my head to say, "Pinch is a clever fellow; I approve of Pinch;" I
should like to know the man who would venture to put himself in
opposition to me. Besides, confound it, Tom, you could be useful to
me in a hundred ways.'
'If I were not useful in one or two, it shouldn't be for want of
trying,' said Tom.
'For instance,' pursued Martin, after a short reflection, 'you'd be
a capital fellow, now, to see that my ideas were properly carried
out; and to overlook the works in their progress before they were
sufficiently advanced to be very interesting to ME; and to take all
that sort of plain sailing. Then you'd be a splendid fellow to show
people over my studio, and to talk about Art to 'em, when I couldn't
be bored myself, and all that kind of thing. For it would be
devilish creditable, Tom (I'm quite in earnest, I give you my word),
to have a man of your information about one, instead of some
ordinary blockhead. Oh, I'd take care of you. You'd be useful,
rely upon it!'
To say that Tom had no idea of playing first fiddle in any social
orchestra, but was always quite satisfied to be set down for the
hundred and fiftieth violin in the band, or thereabouts, is to
express his modesty in very inadequate terms. He was much
delighted, therefore, by these observations.
'I should be married to her then, Tom, of course,' said Martin.
What was that which checked Tom Pinch so suddenly, in the high flow
of his gladness; bringing the blood into his honest cheeks, and a
remorseful feeling to his honest heart, as if he were unworthy of
his friend's regard?
'I should be married to her then,' said Martin, looking with a smile
towards the light; 'and we should have, I hope, children about us.
They'd be very fond of you, Tom.'
But not a word said Mr Pinch. The words he would have uttered died
upon his lips, and found a life more spiritual in self-denying
'All the children hereabouts are fond of you, Tom, and mine would
be, of course,' pursued Martin. 'Perhaps I might name one of 'em
after you. Tom, eh? Well, I don't know. Tom's not a bad name.
Thomas Pinch Chuzzlewit. T. P. C. on his pinafores--no objection
to that, I should say?'
Tom cleared his throat, and smiled.
'SHE would like you, Tom, I know,' said Martin.
'Aye!' cried Tom Pinch, faintly.
'I can tell exactly what she would think of you,' said Martin
leaning his chin upon his hand, and looking through the window-glass
as if he read there what he said; 'I know her so well. She would
smile, Tom, often at first when you spoke to her, or when she looked
at you--merrily too--but you wouldn't mind that. A brighter smile
you never saw.'
'No, no,' said Tom. 'I wouldn't mind that.'
'She would be as tender with you, Tom,' said Martin, 'as if you were
a child yourself. So you are almost, in some things, an't you,
Mr Pinch nodded his entire assent.
'She would always be kind and good-humoured, and glad to see you,'
said Martin; 'and when she found out exactly what sort of fellow you
were (which she'd do very soon), she would pretend to give you
little commissions to execute, and to ask little services of you,
which she knew you were burning to render; so that when she really
pleased you most, she would try to make you think you most pleased
her. She would take to you uncommonly, Tom; and would understand
you far more delicately than I ever shall; and would often say, I
know, that you were a harmless, gentle, well-intentioned, good
How silent Tom Pinch was!
'In honour of old time,' said Martin, 'and of her having heard you
play the organ in this damp little church down here--for nothing
too--we will have one in the house. I shall build an architectural
music-room on a plan of my own, and it'll look rather knowing in a
recess at one end. There you shall play away, Tom, till you tire
yourself; and, as you like to do so in the dark, it shall BE dark;
and many's the summer evening she and I will sit and listen to you,
Tom; be sure of that!'
It may have required a stronger effort on Tom Pinch's part to leave
the seat on which he sat, and shake his friend by both hands, with
nothing but serenity and grateful feeling painted on his face; it
may have required a stronger effort to perform this simple act with
a pure heart, than to achieve many and many a deed to which the
doubtful trumpet blown by Fame has lustily resounded. Doubtful,
because from its long hovering over scenes of violence, the smoke
and steam of death have clogged the keys of that brave instrument;
and it is not always that its notes are either true or tuneful.
'It's a proof of the kindness of human nature,' said Tom,
characteristically putting himself quite out of sight in the matter,
'that everybody who comes here, as you have done, is more
considerate and affectionate to me than I should have any right to
hope, if I were the most sanguine creature in the world; or should
have any power to express, if I were the most eloquent. It really
overpowers me. But trust me,' said Tom, 'that I am not ungrateful--
that I never forget--and that if I can ever prove the truth of my
words to you, I will.'
'That's all right,' observed Martin, leaning back in his chair with
a hand in each pocket, and yawning drearily. 'Very fine talking,
Tom; but I'm at Pecksniff's, I remember, and perhaps a mile or so
out of the high-road to fortune just at this minute. So you've
heard again this morning from what's his name, eh?'
'Who may that be?' asked Tom, seeming to enter a mild protest on
behalf of the dignity of an absent person.
'YOU know. What is it? Northkey.'
'Westlock,' rejoined Tom, in rather a louder tone than usual.
'Ah! to be sure,' said Martin, 'Westlock. I knew it was something
connected with a point of the compass and a door. Well! and what
'Oh! he has come into his property,' answered Tom, nodding his head,
'He's a lucky dog,' said Martin. 'I wish it were mine instead. Is
that all the mystery you were to tell me?'
'No,' said Tom; 'not all.'
'What's the rest?' asked Martin.
'For the matter of that,' said Tom, 'it's no mystery, and you won't
think much of it; but it's very pleasant to me. John always used to
say when he was here, "Mark my words, Pinch. When my father's
executors cash up"--he used strange expressions now and then, but
that was his way.'
'Cash-up's a very good expression,' observed Martin, 'when other
people don't apply it to you. Well!--What a slow fellow you are,
'Yes, I am I know,' said Tom; 'but you'll make me nervous if you
tell me so. I'm afraid you have put me out a little now, for I
forget what I was going to say.'
'When John's father's executors cashed up,' said Martin impatiently.
'Oh yes, to be sure,' cried Tom; 'yes. "Then," says John, "I'll
give you a dinner, Pinch, and come down to Salisbury on purpose."
Now, when John wrote the other day--the morning Pecksniff left, you
know--he said his business was on the point of being immediately
settled, and as he was to receive his money directly, when could I
meet him at Salisbury? I wrote and said, any day this week; and I
told him besides, that there was a new pupil here, and what a fine
fellow you were, and what friends we had become. Upon which John
writes back this letter'--Tom produced it--'fixes to-morrow; sends
his compliments to you; and begs that we three may have the pleasure
of dining together; not at the house where you and I were, either;
but at the very first hotel in the town. Read what he says.'
'Very well,' said Martin, glancing over it with his customary
coolness; 'much obliged to him. I'm agreeable.'
Tom could have wished him to be a little more astonished, a little
more pleased, or in some form or other a little more interested in
such a great event. But he was perfectly self-possessed; and falling
into his favourite solace of whistling, took another turn at the
grammar-school, as if nothing at all had happened.
Mr Pecksniff's horse being regarded in the light of a sacred animal,
only to be driven by him, the chief priest of that temple, or by
some person distinctly nominated for the time being to that high
office by himself, the two young men agreed to walk to Salisbury;
and so, when the time came, they set off on foot; which was, after
all, a better mode of travelling than in the gig, as the weather was
very cold and very dry.
Better! A rare strong, hearty, healthy walk--four statute miles an
hour--preferable to that rumbling, tumbling, jolting, shaking,
scraping, creaking, villanous old gig? Why, the two things will not
admit of comparison. It is an insult to the walk, to set them side
by side. Where is an instance of a gig having ever circulated a
man's blood, unless when, putting him in danger of his neck, it
awakened in his veins and in his ears, and all along his spine, a
tingling heat, much more peculiar than agreeable? When did a gig
ever sharpen anybody's wits and energies, unless it was when the
horse bolted, and, crashing madly down a steep hill with a stone
wall at the bottom, his desperate circumstances suggested to the
only gentleman left inside, some novel and unheard-of mode of
dropping out behind? Better than the gig!
The air was cold, Tom; so it was, there was no denying it; but would
it have been more genial in the gig? The blacksmith's fire burned
very bright, and leaped up high, as though it wanted men to warm;
but would it have been less tempting, looked at from the clammy
cushions of a gig? The wind blew keenly, nipping the features of
the hardy wight who fought his way along; blinding him with his own
hair if he had enough to it, and wintry dust if he hadn't; stopping
his breath as though he had been soused in a cold bath; tearing
aside his wrappings-up, and whistling in the very marrow of his
bones; but it would have done all this a hundred times more fiercely
to a man in a gig, wouldn't it? A fig for gigs!
Better than the gig! When were travellers by wheels and hoofs seen
with such red-hot cheeks as those? when were they so good-
humouredly and merrily bloused? when did their laughter ring upon
the air, as they turned them round, what time the stronger gusts
came sweeping up; and, facing round again as they passed by, dashed
on, in such a glow of ruddy health as nothing could keep pace with,
but the high spirits it engendered? Better than the gig! Why, here
is a man in a gig coming the same way now. Look at him as he passes
his whip into his left hand, chafes his numbed right fingers on his
granite leg, and beats those marble toes of his upon the foot-board.
Ha, ha, ha! Who would exchange this rapid hurry of the blood for
yonder stagnant misery, though its pace were twenty miles for one?
Better than the gig! No man in a gig could have such interest in the
milestones. No man in a gig could see, or feel, or think, like
merry users of their legs. How, as the wind sweeps on, upon these
breezy downs, it tracks its flight in darkening ripples on the
grass, and smoothest shadows on the hills! Look round and round upon
this bare bleak plain, and see even here, upon a winter's day, how
beautiful the shadows are! Alas! it is the nature of their kind to
be so. The loveliest things in life, Tom, are but shadows; and they
come and go, and change and fade away, as rapidly as these!
Another mile, and then begins a fall of snow, making the crow, who
skims away so close above the ground to shirk the wind, a blot of
ink upon the landscape. But though it drives and drifts against
them as they walk, stiffening on their skirts, and freezing in the
lashes of their eyes, they wouldn't have it fall more sparingly, no,
not so much as by a single flake, although they had to go a score of
miles. And, lo! the towers of the Old Cathedral rise before them,
even now! and by-and-bye they come into the sheltered streets, made
strangely silent by their white carpet; and so to the Inn for which
they are bound; where they present such flushed and burning faces to
the cold waiter, and are so brimful of vigour, that he almost feels
assaulted by their presence; and, having nothing to oppose to the
attack (being fresh, or rather stale, from the blazing fire in the
coffee-room), is quite put out of his pale countenance.
A famous Inn! the hall a very grove of dead game, and dangling
joints of mutton; and in one corner an illustrious larder, with
glass doors, developing cold fowls and noble joints, and tarts
wherein the raspberry jam coyly withdrew itself, as such a precious
creature should, behind a lattice work of pastry. And behold, on
the first floor, at the court-end of the house, in a room with all
the window-curtains drawn, a fire piled half-way up the chimney,
plates warming before it, wax candles gleaming everywhere, and a
table spread for three, with silver and glass enough for thirty--
John Westlock; not the old John of Pecksniff's, but a proper
gentleman; looking another and a grander person, with the
consciousness of being his own master and having money in the bank;
and yet in some respects the old John too, for he seized Tom Pinch
by both his hands the instant he appeared, and fairly hugged him, in
his cordial welcome.
'And this,' said John, 'is Mr Chuzzlewit. I am very glad to see
him!'--John had an off-hand manner of his own; so they shook hands
warmly, and were friends in no time.
'Stand off a moment, Tom,' cried the old pupil, laying one hand on
each of Mr Pinch's shoulders, and holding him out at arm's length.
'Let me look at you! Just the same! Not a bit changed!'
'Why, it's not so very long ago, you know,' said Tom Pinch, 'after
'It seems an age to me,' cried John. 'and so it ought to seem to
you, you dog.' And then he pushed Tom down into the easiest chair,
and clapped him on the back so heartily, and so like his old self in
their old bedroom at old Pecksniff's that it was a toss-up with Tom
Pinch whether he should laugh or cry. Laughter won it; and they all
three laughed together.
'I have ordered everything for dinner, that we used to say we'd
have, Tom,' observed John Westlock.
'No!' said Tom Pinch. 'Have you?'
'Everything. Don't laugh, if you can help it, before the waiters.
I couldn't when I was ordering it. It's like a dream.'
John was wrong there, because nobody ever dreamed such soup as was
put upon the table directly afterwards; or such fish; or such
side-dishes; or such a top and bottom; or such a course of birds and
sweets; or in short anything approaching the reality of that
entertainment at ten-and-sixpence a head, exclusive of wines. As to
THEM, the man who can dream such iced champagne, such claret, port,
or sherry, had better go to bed and stop there.
But perhaps the finest feature of the banquet was, that nobody was
half so much amazed by everything as John himself, who in his high
delight was constantly bursting into fits of laughter, and then
endeavouring to appear preternaturally solemn, lest the waiters
should conceive he wasn't used to it. Some of the things they
brought him to carve, were such outrageous practical jokes, though,
that it was impossible to stand it; and when Tom Pinch insisted, in
spite of the deferential advice of an attendant, not only on
breaking down the outer wall of a raised pie with a tablespoon, but
on trying to eat it afterwards, John lost all dignity, and sat
behind the gorgeous dish-cover at the head of the table, roaring to
that extent that he was audible in the kitchen. Nor had he the
least objection to laugh at himself, as he demonstrated when they
had all three gathered round the fire and the dessert was on the
table; at which period the head waiter inquired with respectful
solicitude whether that port, being a light and tawny wine, was
suited to his taste, or whether he would wish to try a fruity port
with greater body. To this John gravely answered that he was well
satisfied with what he had, which he esteemed, as one might say, a
pretty tidy vintage; for which the waiter thanked him and withdrew.
And then John told his friends, with a broad grin, that he supposed
it was all right, but he didn't know; and went off into a perfect
They were very merry and full of enjoyment the whole time, but not
the least pleasant part of the festival was when they all three sat
about the fire, cracking nuts, drinking wine and talking cheerfully.
It happened that Tom Pinch had a word to say to his friend the
organist's assistant, and so deserted his warm corner for a few
minutes at this season, lest it should grow too late; leaving the
other two young men together.
They drank his health in his absence, of course; and John Westlock
took that opportunity of saying, that he had never had even a
peevish word with Tom during the whole term of their residence in Mr
Pecksniff's house. This naturally led him to dwell upon Tom's
character, and to hint that Mr Pecksniff understood it pretty well.
He only hinted this, and very distantly; knowing that it pained Tom
Pinch to have that gentleman disparaged, and thinking it would be as
well to leave the new pupil to his own discoveries.
'Yes,' said Martin. 'It's impossible to like Pinch better than I
do, or to do greater justice to his good qualities. He is the most
willing fellow I ever saw.'
'He's rather too willing,' observed John, who was quick in
observation. 'It's quite a fault in him.'
'So it is,' said Martin. 'Very true. There was a fellow only a
week or so ago--a Mr Tigg--who borrowed all the money he had, on a
promise to repay it in a few days. It was but half a sovereign, to
be sure; but it's well it was no more, for he'll never see it
'Poor fellow!' said John, who had been very attentive to these few
words. 'Perhaps you have not had an opportunity of observing that,
in his own pecuniary transactions, Tom's proud.'
'You don't say so! No, I haven't. What do you mean? Won't he
John Westlock shook his head.
'That's very odd,' said Martin, setting down his empty glass. 'He's
a strange compound, to be sure.'
'As to receiving money as a gift,' resumed John Westlock; 'I think
he'd die first.'
'He's made up of simplicity,' said Martin. 'Help yourself.'
'You, however,' pursued John, filling his own glass, and looking at
his companion with some curiosity, 'who are older than the majority
of Mr Pecksniff's assistants, and have evidently had much more
experience, understand him, I have no doubt, and see how liable he
is to be imposed upon.'
'Certainly,' said Martin, stretching out his legs, and holding his
wine between his eye and the light. 'Mr Pecksniff knows that too.
So do his daughters. Eh?'
John Westlock smiled, but made no answer.
'By the bye,' said Martin, 'that reminds me. What's your opinion of
Pecksniff? How did he use you? What do you think of him now?--
Coolly, you know, when it's all over?'
'Ask Pinch,' returned the old pupil. 'He knows what my sentiments
used to be upon the subject. They are not changed, I assure you.'
'No, no,' said Martin, 'I'd rather have them from you.'
'But Pinch says they are unjust,' urged John with a smile.
'Oh! well! Then I know what course they take beforehand,' said
Martin; 'and, therefore, you can have no delicacy in speaking
plainly. Don't mind me, I beg. I don't like him I tell you
frankly. I am with him because it happens from particular
circumstances to suit my convenience. I have some ability, I
believe, in that way; and the obligation, if any, will most likely
be on his side and not mine. At the lowest mark, the balance will
be even, and there'll be no obligation at all. So you may talk to
me, as if I had no connection with him.'
'If you press me to give my opinion--' returned John Westlock.
'Yes, I do,' said Martin. 'You'll oblige me.'
'--I should say,' resumed the other, 'that he is the most consummate
scoundrel on the face of the earth.'
'Oh!' said Martin, as coolly as ever. 'That's rather strong.'
'Not stronger than he deserves,' said John; 'and if he called upon
me to express my opinion of him to his face, I would do so in the
very same terms, without the least qualification. His treatment of
Pinch is in itself enough to justify them; but when I look back upon
the five years I passed in that house, and remember the hyprocrisy,
the knavery, the meannesses, the false pretences, the lip service of
that fellow, and his trading in saintly semblances for the very
worst realities; when I remember how often I was the witness of all
this and how often I was made a kind of party to it, by the fact of
being there, with him for my teacher; I swear to you that I almost
Martin drained his glass, and looked at the fire.
'I don't mean to say that is a right feeling,' pursued John Westlock
'because it was no fault of mine; and I can quite understand--you
for instance, fully appreciating him, and yet being forced by
circumstances to remain there. I tell you simply what my feeling
is; and even now, when, as you say, it's all over; and when I have
the satisfaction of knowing that he always hated me, and we always
quarrelled, and I always told him my mind; even now, I feel sorry
that I didn't yield to an impulse I often had, as a boy, of running
away from him and going abroad.'
'Why abroad?' asked Martin, turning his eyes upon the speaker.
'In search,' replied John Westlock, shrugging his shoulders, 'of the
livelihood I couldn't have earned at home. There would have been
something spirited in that. But, come! Fill your glass, and let us
'As soon as you please,' said Martin. 'In reference to myself and
my connection with him, I have only to repeat what I said before. I
have taken my own way with him so far, and shall continue to do so,
even more than ever; for the fact is, to tell you the truth, that I
believe he looks to me to supply his defects, and couldn't afford to
lose me. I had a notion of that in first going there. Your
'Thank you,' returned young Westlock. 'Yours. And may the new
pupil turn out as well as you can desire!'
'What new pupil?'
'The fortunate youth, born under an auspicious star,' returned John
Westlock, laughing; 'whose parents, or guardians, are destined to be
hooked by the advertisement. What! Don't you know that he has
'Oh, yes. I read it just before dinner in the old newspaper. I
know it to be his; having some reason to remember the style. Hush!
Here's Pinch. Strange, is it not, that the more he likes Pecksniff
(if he can like him better than he does), the greater reason one has
to like HIM? Not a word more, or we shall spoil his whole
Tom entered as the words were spoken, with a radiant smile upon his
face; and rubbing his hands, more from a sense of delight than
because he was cold (for he had been running fast), sat down in his
warm corner again, and was as happy as only Tom Pinch could be.
There is no other simile that will express his state of mind.
'And so,' he said, when he had gazed at his friend for some time in
silent pleasure, 'so you really are a gentleman at last, John.
Well, to be sure!'
'Trying to be, Tom; trying to be,' he rejoined good-humouredly.
'There is no saying what I may turn out, in time.'
'I suppose you wouldn't carry your own box to the mail now?' said
Tom Pinch, smiling; 'although you lost it altogether by not taking
'Wouldn't I?' retorted John. 'That's all you know about it, Pinch.
It must be a very heavy box that I wouldn't carry to get away from
'There!' cried Pinch, turning to Martin, 'I told you so. The great
fault in his character is his injustice to Pecksniff. You mustn't
mind a word he says on that subject. His prejudice is most
'The absence of anything like prejudice on Tom's part, you know,'
said John Westlock, laughing heartily, as he laid his hand on Mr
Pinch's shoulder, 'is perfectly wonderful. If one man ever had a
profound knowledge of another, and saw him in a true light, and in
his own proper colours, Tom has that knowledge of Mr Pecksniff.'
'Why, of course I have,' cried Tom. 'That's exactly what I have so
often said to you. If you knew him as well as I do--John, I'd give
almost any money to bring that about--you'd admire, respect, and
reverence him. You couldn't help it. Oh, how you wounded his
feelings when you went away!'
'If I had known whereabout his feelings lay,' retorted young
Westlock, 'I'd have done my best, Tom, with that end in view, you
may depend upon it. But as I couldn't wound him in what he has not,
and in what he knows nothing of, except in his ability to probe them
to the quick in other people, I am afraid I can lay no claim to your
Mr Pinch, being unwilling to protract a discussion which might
possibly corrupt Martin, forbore to say anything in reply to this
speech; but John Westlock, whom nothing short of an iron gag would
have silenced when Mr Pecksniff's merits were once in question,
'HIS feelings! Oh, he's a tender-hearted man. HIS feelings! Oh,
he's a considerate, conscientious, self-examining, moral vagabond,
he is! HIS feelings! Oh!--what's the matter, Tom?'
Mr Pinch was by this time erect upon the hearth-rug, buttoning his
coat with great energy.
'I can't bear it,' said Tom, shaking his head. 'No. I really
cannot. You must excuse me, John. I have a great esteem and
friendship for you; I love you very much; and have been perfectly
charmed and overjoyed to-day, to find you just the same as ever; but
I cannot listen to this.'
'Why, it's my old way, Tom; and you say yourself that you are glad
to find me unchanged.'
'Not in this respect,' said Tom Pinch. 'You must excuse me, John.
I cannot, really; I will not. It's very wrong; you should be more
guarded in your expressions. It was bad enough when you and I used
to be alone together, but under existing circumstances, I can't
endure it, really. No. I cannot, indeed.'
'You are quite right!' exclaimed the other, exchanging looks with
Martin. 'and I am quite wrong, Tom. I don't know how the deuce we
fell on this unlucky theme. I beg your pardon with all my heart.'
'You have a free and manly temper, I know,' said Pinch; 'and
therefore, your being so ungenerous in this one solitary instance,
only grieves me the more. It's not my pardon you have to ask, John.
You have done ME nothing but kindnesses.'
'Well! Pecksniff's pardon then,' said young Westlock. 'Anything
Tom, or anybody. Pecksniff's pardon--will that do? Here! let us
drink Pecksniff's health!'
'Thank you,' cried Tom, shaking hands with him eagerly, and filling
a bumper. 'Thank you; I'll drink it with all my heart, John. Mr
Pecksniff's health, and prosperity to him!'
John Westlock echoed the sentiment, or nearly so; for he drank Mr
Pecksniff's health, and Something to him--but what, was not quite
audible. The general unanimity being then completely restored, they
drew their chairs closer round the fire, and conversed in perfect
harmony and enjoyment until bed-time.
No slight circumstance, perhaps, could have better illustrated the
difference of character between John Westlock and Martin Chuzzlewit,
than the manner in which each of the young men contemplated Tom
Pinch, after the little rupture just described. There was a certain
amount of jocularity in the looks of both, no doubt, but there all
resemblance ceased. The old pupil could not do enough to show Tom
how cordially he felt towards him, and his friendly regard seemed of
a graver and more thoughtful kind than before. The new one, on the
other hand, had no impulse but to laugh at the recollection of Tom's
extreme absurdity; and mingled with his amusement there was
something slighting and contemptuous, indicative, as it appeared, of
his opinion that Mr Pinch was much too far gone in simplicity to be
admitted as the friend, on serious and equal terms, of any rational
John Westlock, who did nothing by halves, if he could help it, had
provided beds for his two guests in the hotel; and after a very
happy evening, they retired. Mr Pinch was sitting on the side of
his bed with his cravat and shoes off, ruminating on the manifold
good qualities of his old friend, when he was interrupted by a knock
at his chamber door, and the voice of John himself.
'You're not asleep yet, are you, Tom?'
'Bless you, no! not I. I was thinking of you,' replied Tom, opening
the door. 'Come in.'
'I am not going to detail you,' said John; 'but I have forgotten all
the evening a little commission I took upon myself; and I am afraid
I may forget it again, if I fail to discharge it at once. You know
a Mr Tigg, Tom, I believe?'
'Tigg!' cried Tom. 'Tigg! The gentleman who borrowed some money of
'Exactly,' said John Westlock. 'He begged me to present his
compliments, and to return it with many thanks. Here it is. I
suppose it's a good one, but he is rather a doubtful kind of
Mr Pinch received the little piece of gold with a face whose
brightness might have shamed the metal; and said he had no fear
about that. He was glad, he added, to find Mr Tigg so prompt and
honourable in his dealings; very glad.
'Why, to tell you the truth, Tom,' replied his friend, 'he is not
always so. If you'll take my advice, you'll avoid him as much as
you can, in the event of your encountering him again. And by no
means, Tom--pray bear this in mind, for I am very serious--by no
means lend him money any more.'
'Aye, aye!' said Tom, with his eyes wide open.
'He is very far from being a reputable acquaintance,' returned young
Westlock; 'and the more you let him know you think so, the better
for you, Tom.'
'I say, John,' quoth Mr Pinch, as his countenance fell, and he shook
his head in a dejected manner. 'I hope you are not getting into bad
'No, no,' he replied laughing. 'Don't be uneasy on that score.'
'Oh, but I AM uneasy,' said Tom Pinch; 'I can't help it, when I hear
you talking in that way. If Mr Tigg is what you describe him to be,
you have no business to know him, John. You may laugh, but I don't
consider it by any means a laughing matter, I assure you.'
'No, no,' returned his friend, composing his features. 'Quite
right. It is not, certainly.'
'You know, John,' said Mr Pinch, 'your very good nature and kindness
of heart make you thoughtless, and you can't be too careful on such
a point as this. Upon my word, if I thought you were falling among
bad companions, I should be quite wretched, for I know how difficult
you would find it to shake them off. I would much rather have lost
this money, John, than I would have had it back again on such
'I tell you, my dear good old fellow,' cried his friend, shaking him
to and fro with both hands, and smiling at him with a cheerful, open
countenance, that would have carried conviction to a mind much more
suspicious than Tom's; 'I tell you there is no danger.'
'Well!' cried Tom, 'I am glad to hear it; I am overjoyed to hear it.
I am sure there is not, when you say so in that manner. You won't
take it ill, John, that I said what I did just now!'
'Ill!' said the other, giving his hand a hearty squeeze; 'why what
do you think I am made of? Mr Tigg and I are not on such an
intimate footing that you need be at all uneasy, I give you my
solemn assurance of that, Tom. You are quite comfortable now?'
'Quite,' said Tom.
'Then once more, good night!'
'Good night!' cried Tom; 'and such pleasant dreams to you as should
attend the sleep of the best fellow in the world!'
'--Except Pecksniff,' said his friend, stopping at the door for a
moment, and looking gayly back.
'Except Pecksniff,' answered Tom, with great gravity; 'of course.'
And thus they parted for the night; John Westlock full of light-
heartedness and good humour, and poor Tom Pinch quite satisfied;
though still, as he turned over on his side in bed, he muttered to
himself, 'I really do wish, for all that, though, that he wasn't
acquainted with Mr Tigg.'
They breakfasted together very early next morning, for the two young
men desired to get back again in good season; and John Westlock was
to return to London by the coach that day. As he had some hours to
spare, he bore them company for three or four miles on their walk,
and only parted from them at last in sheer necessity. The parting
was an unusually hearty one, not only as between him and Tom Pinch,
but on the side of Martin also, who had found in the old pupil a
very different sort of person from the milksop he had prepared
himself to expect.
Young Westlock stopped upon a rising ground, when he had gone a
little distance, and looked back. They were walking at a brisk
pace, and Tom appeared to be talking earnestly. Martin had taken
off his greatcoat, the wind being now behind them, and carried it
upon his arm. As he looked, he saw Tom relieve him of it, after a
faint resistance, and, throwing it upon his own, encumber himself
with the weight of both. This trivial incident impressed the old
pupil mightily, for he stood there, gazing after them, until they
were hidden from his view; when he shook his head, as if he were
troubled by some uneasy reflection, and thoughtfully retraced his
steps to Salisbury.
In the meantime, Martin and Tom pursued their way, until they
halted, safe and sound, at Mr Pecksniff's house, where a brief
epistle from that good gentleman to Mr Pinch announced the family's
return by that night's coach. As it would pass the corner of the
lane at about six o'clock in the morning, Mr Pecksniff requested
that the gig might be in waiting at the finger-post about that time,
together with a cart for the luggage. And to the end that he might
be received with the greater honour, the young men agreed to rise
early, and be upon the spot themselves.
It was the least cheerful day they had yet passed together. Martin
was out of spirits and out of humour, and took every opportunity of
comparing his condition and prospects with those of young Westlock;
much to his own disadvantage always. This mood of his depressed
Tom; and neither that morning's parting, nor yesterday's dinner,
helped to mend the matter. So the hours dragged on heavily enough;
and they were glad to go to bed early.
They were not quite so glad to get up again at half-past four
o'clock, in all the shivering discomfort of a dark winter's morning;
but they turned out punctually, and were at the finger-post full
half-an-hour before the appointed time. It was not by any means a
lively morning, for the sky was black and cloudy, and it rained
hard; but Martin said there was some satisfaction in seeing that
brute of a horse (by this, he meant Mr Pecksniff's Arab steed)
getting very wet; and that he rejoiced, on his account, that it
rained so fast. From this it may be inferred that Martin's spirits
had not improved, as indeed they had not; for while he and Mr Pinch
stood waiting under a hedge, looking at the rain, the gig, the cart,
and its reeking driver, he did nothing but grumble; and, but that it
is indispensable to any dispute that there should be two parties to
it, he would certainly have picked a quarrel with Tom.
At length the noise of wheels was faintly audible in the distance
and presently the coach came splashing through the mud and mire with
one miserable outside passenger crouching down among wet straw,
under a saturated umbrella; and the coachman, guard, and horses, in
a fellowship of dripping wretchedness. Immediately on its stopping,
Mr Pecksniff let down the window-glass and hailed Tom Pinch.
'Dear me, Mr Pinch! Is it possible that you are out upon this very
'Yes, sir,' cried Tom, advancing eagerly, 'Mr Chuzzlewit and I,
'Oh!' said Mr Pecksniff, looking not so much at Martin as at the
spot on which he stood. 'Oh! Indeed. Do me the favour to see to
the trunks, if you please, Mr Pinch.'
Then Mr Pecksniff descended, and helped his daughters to alight; but
neighter he nor the young ladies took the slightest notice of Martin,
who had advanced to offer his assistance, but was repulsed by Mr
Pecksniff's standing immediately before his person, with his back
towards him. In the same manner, and in profound silence, Mr
Pecksniff handed his daughters into the gig; and following himself
and taking the reins, drove off home.
Lost in astonishment, Martin stood staring at the coach, and when
the coach had driven away, at Mr Pinch, and the luggage, until the
cart moved off too; when he said to Tom:
'Now will you have the goodness to tell me what THIS portends?'
'What?' asked Tom.
'This fellow's behaviour. Mr Pecksniff's, I mean. You saw it?'
'No. Indeed I did not,' cried Tom. 'I was busy with the trunks.'
'It is no matter,' said Martin. 'Come! Let us make haste back!'
And without another word started off at such a pace, that Tom
had some difficulty in keeping up with him.
He had no care where he went, but walked through little heaps of mud
and little pools of water with the utmost indifference; looking
straight before him, and sometimes laughing in a strange manner
within himself. Tom felt that anything he could say would only
render him the more obstinate, and therefore trusted to Mr
Pecksniff's manner when they reached the house, to remove the
mistaken impression under which he felt convinced so great a
favourite as the new pupil must unquestionably be labouring. But he
was not a little amazed himself, when they did reach it, and entered
the parlour where Mr Pecksniff was sitting alone before the fire,
drinking some hot tea, to find that instead of taking favourable
notice of his relative and keeping him, Mr Pinch, in the background,
he did exactly the reverse, and was so lavish in his attentions to
Tom, that Tom was thoroughly confounded.
'Take some tea, Mr Pinch--take some tea,' said Pecksniff, stirring
the fire. 'You must be very cold and damp. Pray take some tea, and
come into a warm place, Mr Pinch.'
Tom saw that Martin looked at Mr Pecksniff as though he could have
easily found it in his heart to give HIM an invitation to a very
warm place; but he was quite silent, and standing opposite that
gentleman at the table, regarded him attentively.
'Take a chair, Pinch,' said Pecksniff. 'Take a chair, if you
please. How have things gone on in our absence, Mr Pinch?'
'You--you will be very much pleased with the grammar-school, sir,'
said Tom. 'It's nearly finished.'
'If you will have the goodness, Mr Pinch,' said Pecksniff, waving
his hand and smiling, 'we will not discuss anything connected with
that question at present. What have YOU been doing, Thomas, humph?'
Mr Pinch looked from master to pupil, and from pupil to master, and
was so perplexed and dismayed that he wanted presence of mind to
answer the question. In this awkward interval, Mr Pecksniff (who
was perfectly conscious of Martin's gaze, though he had never once
glanced towards him) poked the fire very much, and when he couldn't
do that any more, drank tea assiduously.
'Now, Mr Pecksniff,' said Martin at last, in a very quiet voice, 'if
you have sufficiently refreshed and recovered yourself, I shall be
glad to hear what you mean by this treatment of me.'
'And what,' said Mr Pecksniff, turning his eyes on Tom Pinch, even
more placidly and gently than before, 'what have YOU been doing,
When he had repeated this inquiry, he looked round the walls of the
room as if he were curious to see whether any nails had been left
there by accident in former times.
Tom was almost at his wit's end what to say between the two, and had
already made a gesture as if he would call Mr Pecksniff's attention
to the gentleman who had last addressed him, when Martin saved him
further trouble, by doing so himself.
'Mr Pecksniff,' he said, softly rapping the table twice or thrice,
and moving a step or two nearer, so that he could have touched him
with his hand; 'you heard what I said just now. Do me the favour to
reply, if you please. I ask you'--he raised his voice a little
here--'what you mean by this?'
'I will talk to you, sir,' said Mr Pecksniff in a severe voice, as
he looked at him for the first time, 'presently.'
'You are very obliging,' returned Martin; 'presently will not do. I
must trouble you to talk to me at once.'
Mr Pecksniff made a feint of being deeply interested in his
pocketbook, but it shook in his hands; he trembled so.
'Now,' retorted Martin, rapping the table again. 'Now. Presently
will not do. Now!'
'Do you threaten me, sir?' cried Mr Pecksniff.
Martin looked at him, and made no answer; but a curious observer
might have detected an ominous twitching at his mouth, and perhaps
an involuntary attraction of his right hand in the direction of Mr
'I lament to be obliged to say, sir,' resumed Mr Pecksniff, 'that it
would be quite in keeping with your character if you did threaten
me. You have deceived me. You have imposed upon a nature which you
knew to be confiding and unsuspicious. You have obtained admission,
sir,' said Mr Pecksniff, rising, 'to this house, on perverted
statements and on false pretences.'
'Go on,' said Martin, with a scornful smile. 'I understand you now.
'Thus much more, sir,' cried Mr Pecksniff, trembling from head to
foot, and trying to rub his hands, as though he were only cold.
'Thus much more, if you force me to publish your shame before a
third party, which I was unwilling and indisposed to do. This lowly
roof, sir, must not be contaminated by the presence of one who has
deceived, and cruelly deceived, an honourable, beloved, venerated,
and venerable gentleman; and who wisely suppressed that deceit from
me when he sought my protection and favour, knowing that, humble as
I am, I am an honest man, seeking to do my duty in this carnal
universe, and setting my face against all vice and treachery. I
weep for your depravity, sir,' said Mr Pecksniff; 'I mourn over your
corruption, I pity your voluntary withdrawal of yourself from the
flowery paths of purity and peace;' here he struck himself upon his
breast, or moral garden; 'but I cannot have a leper and a serpent
for an inmate. Go forth,' said Mr Pecksniff, stretching out his
hand: 'go forth, young man! Like all who know you, I renounce you!'
With what intention Martin made a stride forward at these words, it
is impossible to say. It is enough to know that Tom Pinch caught
him in his arms, and that, at the same moment, Mr Pecksniff stepped
back so hastily, that he missed his footing, tumbled over a chair,
and fell in a sitting posture on the ground; where he remained
without an effort to get up again, with his head in a corner,
perhaps considering it the safest place.
'Let me go, Pinch!' cried Martin, shaking him away. 'Why do you
hold me? Do you think a blow could make him a more abject creature
than he is? Do you think that if I spat upon him, I could degrade
him to a lower level than his own? Look at him. Look at him,
Mr Pinch involuntarily did so. Mr Pecksniff sitting, as has been
already mentioned, on the carpet, with his head in an acute angle of
the wainscot, and all the damage and detriment of an uncomfortable
journey about him, was not exactly a model of all that is
prepossessing and dignified in man, certainly. Still he WAS
Pecksniff; it was impossible to deprive him of that unique and
paramount appeal to Tom. And he returned Tom's glance, as if he
would have said, 'Aye, Mr Pinch, look at me! Here I am! You know
what the Poet says about an honest man; and an honest man is one of
the few great works that can be seen for nothing! Look at me!'
'I tell you,' said Martin, 'that as he lies there, disgraced,
bought, used; a cloth for dirty hands, a mat for dirty feet, a
lying, fawning, servile hound, he is the very last and worst among
the vermin of the world. And mark me, Pinch! The day will come--he
knows it; see it written on his face, while I speak!--when even you
will find him out, and will know him as I do, and as he knows I do.
HE renounce ME! Cast your eyes on the Renouncer, Pinch, and be the
wiser for the recollection!'
He pointed at him as he spoke, with unutterable contempt, and
flinging his hat upon his head, walked from the room and from the
house. He went so rapidly that he was already clear of the village,
when he heard Tom Pinch calling breathlessly after him in the
'Well! what now?' he said, when Tom came up.
'Dear, dear!' cried Tom, 'are you going?'
'Going!' he echoed. 'Going!'
'I didn't so much mean that, as were you going now at once--in this
bad weather--on foot--without your clothes--with no money?' cried
'Yes,' he answered sternly, 'I am.'
'And where?' cried Tom. 'Oh where will you go?'
'I don't know,' he said. 'Yes, I do. I'll go to America!'
'No, no,' cried Tom, in a kind of agony. 'Don't go there. Pray
don't. Think better of it. Don't be so dreadfully regardless of
yourself. Don't go to America!'
'My mind is made up,' he said. 'Your friend was right. I'll go to
America. God bless you, Pinch!'
'Take this!' cried Tom, pressing a book upon him in great agitation.
'I must make haste back, and can't say anything I would. Heaven be
with you. Look at the leaf I have turned down. Good-bye, good-bye!'
The simple fellow wrung him by the hand, with tears stealing down
his cheeks; and they parted hurriedly upon their separate ways.
SHOWING WHAT BECAME OF MARTIN AND HIS DESPARATE RESOLVE, AFTER HE
LEFT MR PECKSNIFF'S HOUSE; WHAT PERSONS HE ENCOUNTERED; WHAT
ANXIETIES HE SUFFERED; AND WHAT NEWS HE HEARD
Carrying Tom Pinch's book quite unconsciously under his arm, and not
even buttoning his coat as a protection against the heavy rain,
Martin went doggedly forward at the same quick pace, until he had
passed the finger-post, and was on the high road to London. He
slackened very little in his speed even then, but he began to think,
and look about him, and to disengage his senses from the coil of
angry passions which hitherto had held them prisoner.
It must be confessed that, at that moment, he had no very agreeable
employment either for his moral or his physical perceptions. The
day was dawning from a patch of watery light in the east, and sullen
clouds came driving up before it, from which the rain descended in a
thick, wet mist. It streamed from every twig and bramble in the
hedge; made little gullies in the path; ran down a hundred channels
in the road; and punched innumerable holes into the face of every
pond and gutter. It fell with an oozy, slushy sound among the
grass; and made a muddy kennel of every furrow in the ploughed
fields. No living creature was anywhere to be seen. The prospect
could hardly have been more desolate if animated nature had been
dissolved in water, and poured down upon the earth again in that
The range of view within the solitary traveller was quite as
cheerless as the scene without. Friendless and penniless; incensed
to the last degree; deeply wounded in his pride and self-love; full
of independent schemes, and perfectly destitute of any means of
realizing them; his most vindictive enemy might have been satisfied
with the extent of his troubles. To add to his other miseries, he
was by this time sensible of being wet to the skin, and cold at his
In this deplorable condition he remembered Mr Pinch's book; more
because it was rather troublesome to carry, than from any hope of
being comforted by that parting gift. He looked at the dingy
lettering on the back, and finding it to be an odd volume of the
'Bachelor of Salamanca,' in the French tongue, cursed Tom Pinch's
folly twenty times. He was on the point of throwing it away, in his
ill-humour and vexation, when he bethought himself that Tom had
referred him to a leaf, turned down; and opening it at that place,
that he might have additional cause of complaint against him for