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Life And Adventures Of Martin Chuzzlewit by Charles Dickens

Part 11 out of 20

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reference to the cabriolet that very much amazed the passengers in
the street. But Mr Bailey, not at all disturbed, had still a shower
of pleasantries to bestow on any one who crossed his path; as,
calling to a full-grown coal-heaver in a wagon, who for a moment
blocked the way, 'Now, young 'un, who trusted YOU with a cart?'
inquiring of elderly ladies who wanted to cross, and ran back again,
'Why they didn't go to the workhouse and get an order to be buried?'
tempting boys, with friendly words, to get up behind, and
immediately afterwards cutting them down; and the like flashes of a
cheerful humour, which he would occasionally relieve by going round
St. James's Square at a hand gallop, and coming slowly into Pall
Mall by another entry, as if, in the interval, his pace had been a
perfect crawl.

It was not until these amusements had been very often repeated, and
the apple-stall at the corner had sustained so many miraculous
escapes as to appear impregnable, that Mr Bailey was summoned to the
door of a certain house in Pall Mall, and turning short, obeyed the
call and jumped out. It was not until he had held the bridle for
some minutes longer, every jerk of Cauliflower's brother's head, and
every twitch of Cauliflower's brother's nostril, taking him off his
legs in the meanwhile, that two persons entered the vehicle, one of
whom took the reins and drove rapidly off. Nor was it until Mr
Bailey had run after it some hundreds of yards in vain, that he
managed to lift his short leg into the iron step, and finally to get
his boots upon the little footboard behind. Then, indeed, he became
a sight to see; and--standing now on one foot and now upon the other,
now trying to look round the cab on this side, now on that, and now
endeavouring to peep over the top of it, as it went dashing in among
the carts and coaches--was from head to heel Newmarket.

The appearance of Mr Bailey's governor as he drove along fully
justified that enthusiastic youth's description of him to the
wondering Poll. He had a world of jet-black shining hair upon his
head, upon his cheeks, upon his chin, upon his upper lip. His
clothes, symmetrically made, were of the newest fashion and the
costliest kind. Flowers of gold and blue, and green and blushing
red, were on his waistcoat; precious chains and jewels sparkled on
his breast; his fingers, clogged with brilliant rings, were as
unwieldly as summer flies but newly rescued from a honey-pot. The
daylight mantled in his gleaming hat and boots as in a polished
glass. And yet, though changed his name, and changed his outward
surface, it was Tigg. Though turned and twisted upside down, and
inside out, as great men have been sometimes known to be; though no
longer Montague Tigg, but Tigg Montague; still it was Tigg; the same
Satanic, gallant, military Tigg. The brass was burnished,
lacquered, newly stamped; yet it was the true Tigg metal
notwithstanding.

Beside him sat a smiling gentleman, of less pretensions and of
business looks, whom he addressed as David. Surely not the David of
the--how shall it be phrased?--the triumvirate of golden balls? Not
David, tapster at the Lombards' Arms? Yes. The very man.

'The secretary's salary, David,' said Mr Montague, 'the office being
now established, is eight hundred pounds per annum, with his house-
rent, coals, and candles free. His five-and-twenty shares he holds,
of course. Is that enough?'

David smiled and nodded, and coughed behind a little locked
portfolio which he carried; with an air that proclaimed him to be
the secretary in question.

'If that's enough,' said Montague, 'I will propose it at the Board
to-day, in my capacity as chairman.'

The secretary smiled again; laughed, indeed, this time; and said,
rubbing his nose slily with one end of the portfolio:

'It was a capital thought, wasn't it?'

'What was a capital thought, David?' Mr Montague inquired.

'The Anglo-Bengalee,' tittered the secretary.

'The Anglo-Bengalee Disinterested Loan and Life Assurance Company is
rather a capital concern, I hope, David,' said Montague.

'Capital indeed!' cried the secretary, with another laugh--' in one
sense.'

'In the only important one,' observed the chairman; 'which is number
one, David.'

'What,' asked the secretary, bursting into another laugh, 'what will
be the paid up capital, according to the next prospectus?'

'A figure of two, and as many oughts after it as the printer can get
into the same line,' replied his friend. 'Ha, ha!'

At this they both laughed; the secretary so vehemently, that in
kicking up his feet, he kicked the apron open, and nearly started
Cauliflower's brother into an oyster shop; not to mention Mr
Bailey's receiving such a sudden swing, that he held on for a
moment quite a young Fame, by one strap and no legs.

'What a chap you are!' exclaimed David admiringly, when this little
alarm had subsided.

'Say, genius, David, genius.'

'"Well, upon my soul, you ARE a genius then,' said David. 'I always
knew you had the gift of the gab, of course; but I never believed
you were half the man you are. How could I?'

'I rise with circumstances, David. That's a point of genius in
itself,' said Tigg. 'If you were to lose a hundred pound wager to
me at this minute David, and were to pay it (which is most
confoundedly improbable), I should rise, in a mental point of view,
directly.'

It is due to Mr Tigg to say that he had really risen with his
opportunities; and, peculating on a grander scale, he had become
a grander man altogether.

'Ha, ha,' cried the secretary, laying his hand, with growing
familiarity, upon the chairman's arm. 'When I look at you, and
think of your property in Bengal being--ha, ha, ha!--'

The half-expressed idea seemed no less ludicrous to Mr Tigg than to
his friend, for he laughed too, heartily.

'--Being,' resumed David, 'being amenable--your property in Bengal
being amenable--to all claims upon the company; when I look at you
and think of that, you might tickle me into fits by waving the
feather of a pen at me. Upon my soul you might!'

'It a devilish fine property,' said Tigg Montague, 'to be amenable
to any claims. The preserve of tigers alone is worth a mint of
money, David.'

David could only reply in the intervals of his laughter, 'Oh, what a
chap you are!' and so continued to laugh, and hold his sides, and
wipe his eyes, for some time, without offering any other
observation.

'A capital idea?' said Tigg, returning after a time to his
companion's first remark; 'no doubt it was a capital idea. It was
my idea.'

'No, no. It was my idea,' said David. 'Hang it, let a man have
some credit. Didn't I say to you that I'd saved a few pounds?--'

'You said! Didn't I say to you,' interposed Tigg, 'that I had come
into a few pounds?'

'Certainly you did,' returned David, warmly, 'but that's not the
idea. Who said, that if we put the money together we could furnish
an office, and make a show?'

'And who said,' retorted Mr Tigg, 'that, provided we did it on a
sufficiently large scale, we could furnish an office and make a
show, without any money at all? Be rational, and just, and calm,
and tell me whose idea was that.'

'Why, there,' David was obliged to confess, 'you had the advantage
of me, I admit. But I don't put myself on a level with you. I only
want a little credit in the business.'

'All the credit you deserve to have,' said Tigg.

'The plain work of the company, David--figures, books, circulars,
advertisements, pen, ink, and paper, sealing-wax and wafers--is
admirably done by you. You are a first-rate groveller. I don't
dispute it. But the ornamental department, David; the inventive
and poetical department--'

'Is entirely yours,' said his friend. 'No question of it. But with
such a swell turnout as this, and all the handsome things you've
got about you, and the life you lead, I mean to say it's a precious
comfortable department too.'

'Does it gain the purpose? Is it Anglo-Bengalee?' asked Tigg.

'Yes,' said David.

'Could you undertake it yourself?' demanded Tigg.

'No,' said David.

'Ha, ha!' laughed Tigg. 'Then be contented with your station and
your profits, David, my fine fellow, and bless the day that made us
acquainted across the counter of our common uncle, for it was a
golden day to you.'

It will have been already gathered from the conversation of these
worthies, that they were embarked in an enterprise of some
magnitude, in which they addressed the public in general from the
strong position of having everything to gain and nothing at all to
lose; and which, based upon this great principle, was thriving
pretty comfortably.

The Anglo-Bengalee Disinterested Loan and Life Assurance Company
started into existence one morning, not an Infant Institution, but a
Grown-up Company running alone at a great pace, and doing business
right and left: with a 'branch' in a first floor over a tailor's at
the west-end of the town, and main offices in a new street in the
City, comprising the upper part of a spacious house resplendent in
stucco and plate-glass, with wire-blinds in all the windows, and
'Anglo-Bengalee' worked into the pattern of every one of them. On
the doorpost was painted again in large letters, 'offices of the
Anglo-Bengalee Disinterested Loan and Life Assurance Company,' and
on the door was a large brass plate with the same inscription;
always kept very bright, as courting inquiry; staring the City out
of countenance after office hours on working days, and all day long
on Sundays; and looking bolder than the Bank. Within, the offices
were newly plastered, newly painted, newly papered, newly countered,
newly floor-clothed, newly tabled, newly chaired, newly fitted up in
every way, with goods that were substantial and expensive, and
designed (like the company) to last. Business! Look at the green
ledgers with red backs, like strong cricket-balls beaten flat; the
court-guides directories, day-books, almanacks, letter-boxes,
weighing-machines for letters, rows of fire-buckets for dashing out
a conflagration in its first spark, and saving the immense wealth in
notes and bonds belonging to the company; look at the iron safes,
the clock, the office seal--in its capacious self, security for
anything. Solidity! Look at the massive blocks of marble in the
chimney-pieces, and the gorgeous parapet on the top of the house!
Publicity! Why, Anglo-Bengalee Disinterested Loan and Life Assurance
company is painted on the very coal-scuttles. It is repeated at
every turn until the eyes are dazzled with it, and the head is
giddy. It is engraved upon the top of all the letter paper, and it
makes a scroll-work round the seal, and it shines out of the
porter's buttons, and it is repeated twenty times in every circular
and public notice wherein one David Crimple, Esquire, Secretary and
resident Director, takes the liberty of inviting your attention to
the accompanying statement of the advantages offered by the Anglo-
Bengalee Disinterested Loan and Life Assurance Company; and fully
proves to you that any connection on your part with that
establishment must result in a perpetual Christmas Box and
constantly increasing Bonus to yourself, and that nobody can run any
risk by the transaction except the office, which, in its great
liberality is pretty sure to lose. And this, David Crimple,
Esquire, submits to you (and the odds are heavy you believe him), is
the best guarantee that can reasonably be suggested by the Board of
Management for its permanence and stability.

This gentleman's name, by the way, had been originally Crimp; but as
the word was susceptible of an awkward construction and might be
misrepresented, he had altered it to Crimple.

Lest with all these proofs and confirmations, any man should be
suspicious of the Anglo-Bengalee Disinterested Loan and Life
Assurance company; should doubt in tiger, cab, or person, Tigg
Montague, Esquire, (of Pall Mall and Bengal), or any other name in
the imaginative List of Directors; there was a porter on the
premises--a wonderful creature, in a vast red waistcoat and a short-
tailed pepper-and-salt coat--who carried more conviction to the
minds of sceptics than the whole establishment without him. No
confidences existed between him and the Directorship; nobody knew
where he had served last; no character or explanation had been given
or required. No questions had been asked on either side. This
mysterious being, relying solely on his figure, had applied for the
situation, and had been instantly engaged on his own terms. They
were high; but he knew, doubtless, that no man could carry such an
extent of waistcoat as himself, and felt the full value of his
capacity to such an institution. When he sat upon a seat erected
for him in a corner of the office, with his glazed hat hanging on a
peg over his head, it was impossible to doubt the respectability of
the concern. It went on doubling itself with every square inch of
his red waistcoat until, like the problem of the nails in the
horse's shoes, the total became enormous. People had been known to
apply to effect an insurance on their lives for a thousand pounds,
and looking at him, to beg, before the form of proposal was filled
up, that it might be made two. And yet he was not a giant. His
coat was rather small than otherwise. The whole charm was in his
waistcoat. Respectability, competence, property in Bengal or
anywhere else, responsibility to any amount on the part of the
company that employed him, were all expressed in that one garment.

Rival offices had endeavoured to lure him away; Lombard Street
itself had beckoned to him; rich companies had whispered 'Be a
Beadle!' but he still continued faithful to the Anglo-Bengalee.
Whether he was a deep rogue, or a stately simpleton, it was
impossible to make out, but he appeared to believe in the Anglo-
Bengalee. He was grave with imaginary cares of office; and having
nothing whatever to do, and something less to take care of, would
look as if the pressure of his numerous duties, and a sense of the
treasure in the company's strong-room, made him a solemn and a
thoughtful man.

As the cabriolet drove up to the door, this officer appeared
bare-headed on the pavement, crying aloud 'Room for the chairman,
room for the chairman, if you please!' much to the admiration of the
bystanders, who, it is needless to say, had their attention directed
to the Anglo-Bengalee Company thenceforth, by that means. Mr Tigg
leaped gracefully out, followed by the Managing Director (who was by
this time very distant and respectful), and ascended the stairs,
still preceded by the porter, who cried as he went, 'By your leave
there! by your leave! The Chairman of the Board, Gentle--MEN! In
like manner, but in a still more stentorian voice, he ushered the
chairman through the public office, where some humble clients were
transacting business, into an awful chamber, labelled Board-room;
the door of which sanctuary immediately closed, and screened the
great capitalist from vulgar eyes.

The board-room had a Turkey carpet in it, a sideboard, a portrait of
Tigg Montague, Esquire, as chairman; a very imposing chair of
office, garnished with an ivory hammer and a little hand-bell; and a
long table, set out at intervals with sheets of blotting-paper,
foolscap, clean pens, and inkstands. The chairman having taken his
seat with great solemnity, the secretary supported him on his right
hand, and the porter stood bolt upright behind them, forming a warm
background of waistcoat. This was the board: everything else being
a light-hearted little fiction.

'Bullamy!' said Mr Tigg.

'Sir!' replied the porter.

'Let the Medical Officer know, with my compliments, that I wish to
see him.'

Bullamy cleared his throat, and bustled out into the office, crying
'The Chairman of the Board wishes to see the Medical Officer. By
your leave there! By your leave!' He soon returned with the
gentleman in question; and at both openings of the board-room door--
at his coming in and at his going out--simple clients were seen to
stretch their necks and stand upon their toes, thirsting to catch
the slightest glimpse of that mysterious chamber.

'Jobling, my dear friend!' said Mr Tigg, 'how are you? Bullamy,
wait outside. Crimple, don't leave us. Jobling, my good fellow, I
am glad to see you.'

'And how are you, Mr Montague, eh?' said the Medical Officer,
throwing himself luxuriously into an easy-chair (they were all easy-
chairs in the board-room), and taking a handsome gold snuff-box from
the pocket of his black satin waistcoat. 'How are you? A little
worn with business, eh? If so, rest. A little feverish from wine,
humph? If so, water. Nothing at all the matter, and quite
comfortable? Then take some lunch. A very wholesome thing at this
time of day to strengthen the gastric juices with lunch, Mr
Montague.'

The Medical Officer (he was the same medical officer who had
followed poor old Anthony Chuzzlewit to the grave, and who had
attended Mrs Gamp's patient at the Bull) smiled in saying these
words; and casually added, as he brushed some grains of snuff from
his shirt-frill, 'I always take it myself about this time of day, do
you know!'

'Bullamy!' said the Chairman, ringing the little bell.

'Sir!'

'Lunch.'

'Not on my account, I hope?' said the doctor. 'You are very good.
Thank you. I'm quite ashamed. Ha, ha! if I had been a sharp
practitioner, Mr Montague, I shouldn't have mentioned it without a
fee; for you may depend upon it, my dear sir, that if you don't make
a point of taking lunch, you'll very soon come under my hands.
Allow me to illustrate this. In Mr Crimple's leg--'

The resident Director gave an involuntary start, for the doctor, in
the heat of his demonstration, caught it up and laid it across his
own, as if he were going to take it off, then and there.

'In Mr Crimple's leg, you'll observe,' pursued the doctor, turning
back his cuffs and spanning the limb with both hands, 'where Mr
Crimple's knee fits into the socket, here, there is--that is to say,
between the bone and the socket--a certain quantity of animal oil.'

'What do you pick MY leg out for?' said Mr Crimple, looking with
something of an anxious expression at his limb. 'It's the same with
other legs, ain't it?'

'Never you mind, my good sir,' returned the doctor, shaking his
head, 'whether it is the same with other legs, or not the same.'

'But I do mind,' said David.

'I take a particular case, Mr Montague,' returned the doctor, 'as
illustrating my remark, you observe. In this portion of Mr
Crimple's leg, sir, there is a certain amount of animal oil. In
every one of Mr Crimple's joints, sir, there is more or less of the
same deposit. Very good. If Mr Crimple neglects his meals, or
fails to take his proper quantity of rest, that oil wanes, and
becomes exhausted. What is the consequence? Mr Crimple's bones
sink down into their sockets, sir, and Mr Crimple becomes a weazen,
puny, stunted, miserable man!'

The doctor let Mr Crimple's leg fall suddenly, as if he were already
in that agreeable condition; turned down his wristbands again, and
looked triumphantly at the chairman.

'We know a few secrets of nature in our profession, sir,' said the
doctor. 'Of course we do. We study for that; we pass the Hall and
the College for that; and we take our station in society BY that.
It's extraordinary how little is known on these subjects generally.
Where do you suppose, now'--the doctor closed one eye, as he leaned
back smilingly in his chair, and formed a triangle with his hands,
of which his two thumbs composed the base--'where do you suppose Mr
Crimple's stomach is?'

Mr Crimple, more agitated than before, clapped his hand immediately
below his waistcoat.

'Not at all,' cried the doctor; 'not at all. Quite a popular
mistake! My good sir, you're altogether deceived.'

'I feel it there, when it's out of order; that's all I know,' said
Crimple.

'You think you do,' replied the doctor; 'but science knows better.
There was a patient of mine once,' touching one of the many mourning
rings upon his fingers, and slightly bowing his head, 'a gentleman
who did me the honour to make a very handsome mention of me in his
will--"in testimony," as he was pleased to say, "of the unremitting
zeal, talent, and attention of my friend and medical attendant, John
Jobling, Esquire, M.R.C.S.,"--who was so overcome by the idea of
having all his life laboured under an erroneous view of the locality
of this important organ, that when I assured him on my professional
reputation, he was mistaken, he burst into tears, put out his hand,
and said, "Jobling, God bless you!" Immediately afterwards he became
speechless, and was ultimately buried at Brixton.'

'By your leave there!' cried Bullamy, without. 'By your leave!
Refreshment for the Board-room!'

'Ha!' said the doctor, jocularly, as he rubbed his hands, and drew
his chair nearer to the table. 'The true Life Assurance, Mr
Montague. The best Policy in the world, my dear sir. We should be
provident, and eat and drink whenever we can. Eh, Mr Crimple?'

The resident Director acquiesced rather sulkily, as if the
gratification of replenishing his stomach had been impaired by the
unsettlement of his preconceived opinions in reference to its
situation. But the appearance of the porter and under-porter with a
tray covered with a snow-white cloth, which, being thrown back,
displayed a pair of cold roast fowls, flanked by some potted meats
and a cool salad, quickly restored his good humour. It was enhanced
still further by the arrival of a bottle of excellent madeira, and
another of champagne; and he soon attacked the repast with an
appetite scarcely inferior to that of the medical officer.

The lunch was handsomely served, with a profusion of rich glass
plate, and china; which seemed to denote that eating and drinking on
a showy scale formed no unimportant item in the business of the
Anglo-Bengalee Directorship. As it proceeded, the Medical Officer
grew more and more joyous and red-faced, insomuch that every
mouthful he ate, and every drop of wine he swallowed, seemed to
impart new lustre to his eyes, and to light up new sparks in his
nose and forehead.

In certain quarters of the City and its neighbourhood, Mr Jobling
was, as we have already seen in some measure, a very popular
character. He had a portentously sagacious chin, and a pompous
voice, with a rich huskiness in some of its tones that went directly
to the heart, like a ray of light shining through the ruddy medium
of choice old burgundy. His neckerchief and shirt-frill were ever
of the whitest, his clothes of the blackest and sleekest, his gold
watch-chain of the heaviest, and his seals of the largest. His
boots, which were always of the brightest, creaked as he walked.
Perhaps he could shake his head, rub his hands, or warm himself
before a fire, better than any man alive; and he had a peculiar way
of smacking his lips and saying, 'Ah!' at intervals while patients
detailed their symptoms, which inspired great confidence. It seemed
to express, 'I know what you're going to say better than you do; but
go on, go on.' As he talked on all occasions whether he had anything
to say or not, it was unanimously observed of him that he was 'full
of anecdote;' and his experience and profit from it were considered,
for the same reason, to be something much too extensive for
description. His female patients could never praise him too highly;
and the coldest of his male admirers would always say this for him
to their friends, 'that whatever Jobling's professional skill might
be (and it could not be denied that he had a very high reputation),
he was one of the most comfortable fellows you ever saw in your
life!'

Jobling was for many reasons, and not last in the list because his
connection lay principally among tradesmen and their families,
exactly the sort of person whom the Anglo-Bengalee Company wanted
for a medical officer. But Jobling was far too knowing to connect
himself with the company in any closer ties than as a paid (and well
paid) functionary, or to allow his connection to be misunderstood
abroad, if he could help it. Hence he always stated the case to an
inquiring patient, after this manner:

'Why, my dear sir, with regard to the Anglo-Bengalee, my
information, you see, is limited; very limited. I am the medical
officer, in consideration of a certain monthly payment. The
labourer is worthy of his hire; BIS DAT QUI CITO DAT'--('classical
scholar, Jobling!' thinks the patient, 'well-read man!')--'and I
receive it regularly. Therefore I am bound, so far as my own
knowledge goes, to speak well of the establishment.' ('Nothing can
be fairer than Jobling's conduct,' thinks the patient, who has just
paid Jobling's bill himself.) 'If you put any question to me, my
dear friend,' says the doctor, 'touching the responsibility or
capital of the company, there I am at fault; for I have no head for
figures, and not being a shareholder, am delicate of showing any
curiosity whatever on the subject. Delicacy--your amiable lady will
agree with me I am sure--should be one of the first characteristics
of a medical man.' ('Nothing can be finer or more gentlemanly than
Jobling's feeling,' thinks the patient.) 'Very good, my dear sir, so
the matter stands. You don't know Mr Montague? I'm sorry for it.
A remarkably handsome man, and quite the gentleman in every respect.
Property, I am told, in India. House and everything belonging to
him, beautiful. Costly furniture on the most elegant and lavish
scale. And pictures, which, even in an anatomical point of view,
are per-fection. In case you should ever think of doing anything
with the company, I'll pass you, you may depend upon it. I can
conscientiously report you a healthy subject. If I understand any
man's constitution, it is yours; and this little indisposition has
done him more good, ma'am,' says the doctor, turning to the
patient's wife, 'than if he had swallowed the contents of half the
nonsensical bottles in my surgery. For they ARE nonsense--to tell
the honest truth, one half of them are nonsense--compared with such
a constitution as his!' ('Jobling is the most friendly creature I
ever met with in my life,' thinks the patient; 'and upon my word and
honour, I'll consider of it!')

'Commission to you, doctor, on four new policies, and a loan this
morning, eh?' said Crimple, looking, when they had finished lunch,
over some papers brought in by the porter. 'Well done!'

'Jobling, my dear friend,' said Tigg, 'long life to you.'

'No, no. Nonsense. Upon my word I've no right to draw the
commission,' said the doctor, 'I haven't really. It's picking your
pocket. I don't recommend anybody here. I only say what I know.
My patients ask me what I know, and I tell 'em what I know. Nothing
else. Caution is my weak side, that's the truth; and always was
from a boy. That is,' said the doctor, filling his glass, 'caution
in behalf of other people. Whether I would repose confidence in
this company myself, if I had not been paying money elsewhere for
many years--that's quite another question.'

He tried to look as if there were no doubt about it; but feeling
that he did it but indifferently, changed the theme and praised the
wine.

'Talking of wine,' said the doctor, 'reminds me of one of the finest
glasses of light old port I ever drank in my life; and that was at a
funeral. You have not seen anything of--of THAT party, Mr Montague,
have you?' handing him a card.

'He is not buried, I hope?' said Tigg, as he took it. 'The honour
of his company is not requested if he is.'

'Ha, ha!' laughed the doctor. 'No; not quite. He was honourably
connected with that very occasion though.'

'Oh!' said Tigg, smoothing his moustache, as he cast his eyes upon
the name. 'I recollect. No. He has not been here.'

The words were on his lips, when Bullamy entered, and presented a
card to the Medical Officer.

'Talk of the what's his name--' observed the doctor rising.

'And he's sure to appear, eh?' said Tigg.

'Why, no, Mr Montague, no,' returned the doctor. 'We will not say
that in the present case, for this gentleman is very far from it.'

'So much the better,' retorted Tigg. 'So much the more adaptable to
the Anglo-Bengalee. Bullamy, clear the table and take the things
out by the other door. Mr Crimple, business.'

'Shall I introduce him?' asked Jobling.

'I shall be eternally delighted,' answered Tigg, kissing his hand
and smiling sweetly.

The doctor disappeared into the outer office, and immediately
returned with Jonas Chuzzlewit.

'Mr Montague,' said Jobling. 'Allow me. My friend Mr Chuzzlewit.
My dear friend--our chairman. Now do you know,' he added checking
himself with infinite policy, and looking round with a smile;
'that's a very singular instance of the force of example. It really
is a very remarkable instance of the force of example. I say OUR
chairman. Why do I say our chairman? Because he is not MY
chairman, you know. I have no connection with the company, farther
than giving them, for a certain fee and reward, my poor opinion as a
medical man, precisely as I may give it any day to Jack Noakes or
Tom Styles. Then why do I say our chairman? Simply because I hear
the phrase constantly repeated about me. Such is the involuntary
operation of the mental faculty in the imitative biped man. Mr
Crimple, I believe you never take snuff? Injudicious. You should.'

Pending these remarks on the part of the doctor, and the lengthened
and sonorous pinch with which he followed them up, Jonas took a seat
at the board; as ungainly a man as ever he has been within the
reader's knowledge. It is too common with all of us, but it is
especially in the nature of a mean mind, to be overawed by fine
clothes and fine furniture. They had a very decided influence on
Jonas.

'Now you two gentlemen have business to discuss, I know,' said the
doctor, 'and your time is precious. So is mine; for several lives
are waiting for me in the next room, and I have a round of visits to
make after--after I have taken 'em. Having had the happiness to
introduce you to each other, I may go about my business. Good-bye.
But allow me, Mr Montague, before I go, to say this of my friend who
sits beside you: That gentleman has done more, sir,' rapping his
snuff-box solemnly, 'to reconcile me to human nature, than any man
alive or dead. Good-bye!'

With these words Jobling bolted abruptly out of the room, and
proceeded in his own official department, to impress the lives in
waiting with a sense of his keen conscientiousness in the discharge
of his duty, and the great difficulty of getting into the Anglo-
Bengalee; by feeling their pulses, looking at their tongues,
listening at their ribs, poking them in the chest, and so forth;
though, if he didn't well know beforehand that whatever kind of
lives they were, the Anglo-Bengalee would accept them readily, he
was far from being the Jobling that his friend considered him; and
was not the original Jobling, but a spurious imitation.

Mr Crimple also departed on the business of the morning; and Jonas
Chuzzlewit and Tigg were left alone.

'I learn from our friend,' said Tigg, drawing his chair towards
Jonas with a winning ease of manner, 'that you have been thinking--'

'Oh! Ecod then he'd no right to say so,' cried Jonas, interrupting.
'I didn't tell HIM my thoughts. If he took it into his head that I
was coming here for such or such a purpose, why, that's his
lookout. I don't stand committed by that.'

Jonas said this offensively enough; for over and above the habitual
distrust of his character, it was in his nature to seek to revenge
himself on the fine clothes and the fine furniture, in exact
proportion as he had been unable to withstand their influence.

'If I come here to ask a question or two, and get a document or two
to consider of, I don't bind myself to anything. Let's understand
that, you know,' said Jonas.

'My dear fellow!' cried Tigg, clapping him on the shoulder, 'I
applaud your frankness. If men like you and I speak openly at
first, all possible misunderstanding is avoided. Why should I
disguise what you know so well, but what the crowd never dream of?
We companies are all birds of prey; mere birds of prey. The only
question is, whether in serving our own turn, we can serve yours
too; whether in double-lining our own nest, we can put a single
living into yours. Oh, you're in our secret. You're behind the
scenes. We'll make a merit of dealing plainly with you, when we
know we can't help it.'

It was remarked, on the first introduction of Mr Jonas into these
pages, that there is a simplicity of cunning no less than a
simplicity of innocence, and that in all matters involving a faith
in knavery, he was the most credulous of men. If Mr Tigg had
preferred any claim to high and honourable dealing, Jonas would have
suspected him though he had been a very model of probity; but when
he gave utterance to Jonas's own thoughts of everything and
everybody, Jonas began to feel that he was a pleasant fellow, and
one to be talked to freely.

He changed his position in the chair, not for a less awkward, but
for a more boastful attitude; and smiling in his miserable conceit
rejoined:

'You an't a bad man of business, Mr Montague. You know how to
set about it, I WILL say.'

'Tut, tut,' said Tigg, nodding confidentially, and showing his white
teeth; 'we are not children, Mr Chuzzlewit; we are grown men, I
hope.'

Jonas assented, and said after a short silence, first spreading out
his legs, and sticking one arm akimbo to show how perfectly at home
he was,

'The truth is--'

'Don't say, the truth,' interposed Tigg, with another grin. 'It's
so like humbug.'

Greatly charmed by this, Jonas began again.

'The long and the short of it is--'

'Better,' muttered Tigg. 'Much better!'

'--That I didn't consider myself very well used by one or two of the
old companies in some negotiations I have had with 'em--once had, I
mean. They started objections they had no right to start, and put
questions they had no right to put, and carried things much too high
for my taste.'

As he made these observations he cast down his eyes, and looked
curiously at the carpet. Mr Tigg looked curiously at him.

He made so long a pause, that Tigg came to the rescue, and said, in
his pleasantest manner:

'Take a glass of wine.'

'No, no,' returned Jonas, with a cunning shake of the head; 'none of
that, thankee. No wine over business. All very well for you, but
it wouldn't do for me.'

'What an old hand you are, Mr Chuzzlewit!' said Tigg, leaning back in
his chair, and leering at him through his half-shut eyes.

Jonas shook his head again, as much as to say, 'You're right there;'
And then resumed, jocosely:

'Not such an old hand, either, but that I've been and got married.
That's rather green, you'll say. Perhaps it is, especially as she's
young. But one never knows what may happen to these women, so I'm
thinking of insuring her life. It is but fair, you know, that a man
should secure some consolation in case of meeting with such a loss.'

'If anything can console him under such heart-breaking
circumstances,' murmured Tigg, with his eyes shut up as before.

'Exactly,' returned Jonas; 'if anything can. Now, supposing I did
it here, I should do it cheap, I know, and easy, without bothering
her about it; which I'd much rather not do, for it's just in a
woman's way to take it into her head, if you talk to her about
such things, that she's going to die directly.'

'So it is,' cried Tigg, kissing his hand in honour of the sex.
'You're quite right. Sweet, silly, fluttering little simpletons!'

'Well,' said Jonas, 'on that account, you know, and because offence
has been given me in other quarters, I wouldn't mind patronizing
this Company. But I want to know what sort of security there is for
the Company's going on. That's the--'

'Not the truth?' cried Tigg, holding up his jewelled hand. 'Don't
use that Sunday School expression, please!'

'The long and the short of it,' said Jonas. 'The long and the short
of it is, what's the security?'

'The paid-up capital, my dear sir,' said Tigg, referring to some
papers on the table, 'is, at this present moment--'

'Oh! I understand all about paid-up capitals, you know,' said Jonas.

'You do?' cried Tigg, stopping short.

'I should hope so.'

He turned the papers down again, and moving nearer to him, said in
his ear:

'I know you do. I know you do. Look at me!'

It was not much in Jonas's way to look straight at anybody; but thus
requested, he made shift to take a tolerable survey of the
chairman's features. The chairman fell back a little, to give him
the better opportunity.

'You know me?' he inquired, elevating his eyebrows. 'You recollect?
You've seen me before?'

'Why, I thought I remembered your face when I first came in,' said
Jonas, gazing at it; 'but I couldn't call to mind where I had seen
it. No. I don't remember, even now. Was it in the street?'

'Was it in Pecksniff's parlour?' said Tigg

'In Pecksniff's parlour!' echoed Jonas, fetching a long breath.
'You don't mean when--'

'Yes,' cried Tigg, 'when there was a very charming and delightful
little family party, at which yourself and your respected father
assisted.'

'Well, never mind HIM,' said Jonas. 'He's dead, and there's no help
for it.'

'Dead, is he!' cried Tigg, 'Venerable old gentleman, is he dead!
You're very like him.'

Jonas received this compliment with anything but a good grace,
perhaps because of his own private sentiments in reference to the
personal appearance of his deceased parent; perhaps because he was
not best pleased to find that Montague and Tigg were one. That
gentleman perceived it, and tapping him familiarly on the sleeve,
beckoned him to the window. From this moment, Mr Montague's
jocularity and flow of spirits were remarkable.

'Do you find me at all changed since that time?' he asked. 'Speak
plainly.'

Jonas looked hard at his waistcoat and jewels; and said 'Rather,
ecod!'

'Was I at all seedy in those days?' asked Montague.

'Precious seedy,' said Jonas.

Mr Montague pointed down into the street, where Bailey and the cab
were in attendance.

'Neat; perhaps dashing. Do you know whose it is?'

'No.'

'Mine. Do you like this room?'

'It must have cost a lot of money,' said Jonas.

'You're right. Mine too. Why don't you'--he whispered this, and
nudged him in the side with his elbow--'why don't you take premiums,
instead of paying 'em? That's what a man like you should do. Join
us!'

Jonas stared at him in amazement.

'Is that a crowded street?' asked Montague, calling his attention to
the multitude without.

'Very,' said Jonas, only glancing at it, and immediately afterwards
looking at him again.

'There are printed calculations,' said his companion, 'which will
tell you pretty nearly how many people will pass up and down that
thoroughfare in the course of a day. I can tell you how many of 'em
will come in here, merely because they find this office here;
knowing no more about it than they do of the Pyramids. Ha, ha!
Join us. You shall come in cheap.'

Jonas looked at him harder and harder.

'I can tell you,' said Tigg in his ear, 'how many of 'em will buy
annuities, effect insurances, bring us their money in a hundred
shapes and ways, force it upon us, trust us as if we were the Mint;
yet know no more about us than you do of that crossing-sweeper at
the corner. Not so much. Ha, ha!'

Jonas gradually broke into a smile.

'Yah!' said Montague, giving him a pleasant thrust in the breast;
'you're too deep for us, you dog, or I wouldn't have told you. Dine
with me to-morrow, in Pall Mall!'

'I will' said Jonas.

'Done!' cried Montague. 'Wait a bit. Take these papers with you
and look 'em over. See,' he said, snatching some printed forms from
the table. 'B is a little tradesman, clerk, parson, artist, author,
any common thing you like.'

'Yes,' said Jonas, looking greedily over his shoulder. 'Well!'

'B wants a loan. Say fifty or a hundred pound; perhaps more; no
matter. B proposes self and two securities. B is accepted. Two
securities give a bond. B assures his own life for double the
amount, and brings two friends' lives also--just to patronize the
office. Ha ha, ha! Is that a good notion?'

'Ecod, that's a capital notion!' cried Jonas. 'But does he really
do it?'

'Do it!' repeated the chairman. 'B's hard up, my good fellow, and
will do anything. Don't you see? It's my idea.'

'It does you honour. I'm blest if it don't,' said Jonas.

'I think it does,' replied the chairman, 'and I'm proud to hear you
say so. B pays the highest lawful interest--'

'That an't much,' interrupted Jonas.

'Right! quite right!' retorted Tigg. 'And hard it is upon the part
of the law that it should be so confoundedly down upon us
unfortunate victims; when it takes such amazing good interest for
itself from all its clients. But charity begins at home, and
justice begins next door. Well! The law being hard upon us, we're
not exactly soft upon B; for besides charging B the regular
interest, we get B's premium, and B's friends' premiums, and we
charge B for the bond, and, whether we accept him or not, we charge
B for "inquiries" (we keep a man, at a pound a week, to make 'em),
and we charge B a trifle for the secretary; and in short, my good
fellow, we stick it into B, up hill and down dale, and make a
devilish comfortable little property out of him. Ha, ha, ha! I
drive B, in point of fact,' said Tigg, pointing to the cabriolet,
'and a thoroughbred horse he is. Ha, ha, ha!'

Jonas enjoyed this joke very much indeed. It was quite in his
peculiar vein of humour.

'Then,' said Tigg Montague, 'we grant annuities on the very lowest
and most advantageous terms known in the money market; and the old
ladies and gentlemen down in the country buy 'em. Ha, ha, ha! And
we pay 'em too--perhaps. Ha, ha, ha!'

'But there's responsibility in that,' said Jonas, looking doubtful.

'I take it all myself,' said Tigg Montague. 'Here I am responsible
for everything. The only responsible person in the establishment!
Ha, ha, ha! Then there are the Life Assurances without loans; the
common policies. Very profitable, very comfortable. Money down,
you know; repeated every year; capital fun!'

'But when they begin to fall in,' observed Jonas. 'It's all very
well, while the office is young, but when the policies begin to
die--that's what I am thinking of.'

'At the first start, my dear fellow,' said Montague, 'to show you
how correct your judgment is, we had a couple of unlucky deaths that
brought us down to a grand piano.'

'Brought you down where?' cried Jonas.

'I give you my sacred word of honour,' said Tigg Montague, 'that I
raised money on every other individual piece of property, and was
left alone in the world with a grand piano. And it was an upright-
grand too, so that I couldn't even sit upon it. But, my dear
fellow, we got over it. We granted a great many new policies that
week (liberal allowance to solicitors, by the bye), and got over it
in no time. Whenever they should chance to fall in heavily, as you
very justly observe they may, one of these days; then--' he finished
the sentence in so low a whisper, that only one disconnected word
was audible, and that imperfectly. But it sounded like 'Bolt.'

'Why, you're as bold as brass!' said Jonas, in the utmost
admiration.

'A man can well afford to be as bold as brass, my good fellow, when
he gets gold in exchange!' cried the chairman, with a laugh that
shook him from head to foot. 'You'll dine with me to-morrow?'

'At what time?' asked Jonas.

'Seven. Here's my card. Take the documents. I see you'll join
us!'

'I don't know about that,' said Jonas. 'There's a good deal to be
looked into first.'

'You shall look,' said Montague, slapping him on the back, 'into
anything and everything you please. But you'll join us, I am
convinced. You were made for it. Bullamy!'

Obedient to the summons and the little bell, the waistcoat appeared.
Being charged to show Jonas out, it went before; and the voice
within it cried, as usual, 'By your leave there, by your leave!
Gentleman from the board-room, by your leave!'

Mr Montague being left alone, pondered for some moments, and then
said, raising his voice:

'Is Nadgett in the office there?'

'Here he is, sir.' And he promptly entered; shutting the board-room
door after him, as carefully as if he were about to plot a murder.

He was the man at a pound a week who made the inquiries. It was no
virtue or merit in Nadgett that he transacted all his Anglo-Bengalee
business secretly and in the closest confidence; for he was born to
be a secret. He was a short, dried-up, withered old man, who seemed
to have secreted his very blood; for nobody would have given him
credit for the possession of six ounces of it in his whole body.
How he lived was a secret; where he lived was a secret; and even
what he was, was a secret. In his musty old pocket-book he carried
contradictory cards, in some of which he called himself a coal-
merchant, in others a wine-merchant, in others a commission-agent,
in others a collector, in others an accountant; as if he really
didn't know the secret himself. He was always keeping appointments
in the City, and the other man never seemed to come. He would sit
on 'Change for hours, looking at everybody who walked in and out,
and would do the like at Garraway's, and in other business coffee-
rooms, in some of which he would be occasionally seen drying a very
damp pocket-handkerchief before the fire, and still looking over his
shoulder for the man who never appeared. He was mildewed,
threadbare, shabby; always had flue upon his legs and back; and kept
his linen so secretly buttoning up and wrapping over, that he might
have had none--perhaps he hadn't. He carried one stained beaver
glove, which he dangled before him by the forefinger as he walked or
sat; but even its fellow was a secret. Some people said he had been
a bankrupt, others that he had gone an infant into an ancient
Chancery suit which was still depending, but it was all a secret.
He carried bits of sealing-wax and a hieroglyphical old copper seal
in his pocket, and often secretly indited letters in corner boxes of
the trysting-places before mentioned; but they never appeared to go
to anybody, for he would put them into a secret place in his coat,
and deliver them to himself weeks afterwards, very much to his own
surprise, quite yellow. He was that sort of man that if he had died
worth a million of money, or had died worth twopence halfpenny,
everybody would have been perfectly satisfied, and would have said
it was just as they expected. And yet he belonged to a class; a
race peculiar to the City; who are secrets as profound to one
another, as they are to the rest of mankind.

'Mr Nadgett,' said Montague, copying Jonas Chuzzlewit's address upon
a piece of paper, from the card which was still lying on the table,
'any information about this name, I shall be glad to have myself.
Don't you mind what it is. Any you can scrape together, bring me.
Bring it to me, Mr Nadgett.'

Nadgett put on his spectacles, and read the name attentively; then
looked at the chairman over his glasses, and bowed; then took them
off, and put them in their case; and then put the case in his
pocket. When he had done so, he looked, without his spectacles, at
the paper as it lay before him, and at the same time produced his
pocket-book from somewhere about the middle of his spine. Large as
it was, it was very full of documents, but he found a place for this
one; and having clasped it carefully, passed it by a kind of solemn
legerdemain into the same region as before.

He withdrew with another bow and without a word; opening the door no
wider than was sufficient for his passage out; and shutting it as
carefully as before. The chairman of the board employed the rest of
the morning in affixing his sign-manual of gracious acceptance to
various new proposals of annuity-purchase and assurance. The
Company was looking up, for they flowed in gayly.

CHAPTER TWENTY-EIGHT

MR MONTAGUE AT HOME. AND MR JONAS CHUZZLEWIT AT HOME

There were many powerful reasons for Jonas Chuzzlewit being strongly
prepossessed in favour of the scheme which its great originator had
so boldly laid open to him; but three among them stood prominently
forward. Firstly, there was money to be made by it. Secondly, the
money had the peculiar charm of being sagaciously obtained at other
people's cost. Thirdly, it involved much outward show of homage and
distinction: a board being an awful institution in its own sphere,
and a director a mighty man. 'To make a swingeing profit, have a
lot of chaps to order about, and get into regular good society by
one and the same means, and them so easy to one's hand, ain't such a
bad look-out,' thought Jonas. The latter considerations were only
second to his avarice; for, conscious that there was nothing in his
person, conduct, character, or accomplishments, to command respect,
he was greedy of power, and was, in his heart, as much a tyrant as
any laureled conqueror on record.

But he determined to proceed with cunning and caution, and to be
very keen on his observation of the gentility of Mr Montague's
private establishment. For it no more occurred to this shallow
knave that Montague wanted him to be so, or he wouldn't have invited
him while his decision was yet in abeyance, than the possibility of
that genius being able to overreach him in any way, pierced through
his self-deceit by the inlet of a needle's point. He had said, in
the outset, that Jonas was too sharp for him; and Jonas, who would
have been sharp enough to believe him in nothing else, though he had
solemnly sworn it, believed him in that, instantly.

It was with a faltering hand, and yet with an imbecile attempt at
a swagger, that he knocked at his new friend's door in Pall Mall
when the appointed hour arrived. Mr Bailey quickly answered to
the summons. He was not proud and was kindly disposed to take
notice of Jonas; but Jonas had forgotten him.

'Mr Montague at home?'

'I should hope he wos at home, and waiting dinner, too,' said
Bailey, with the ease of an old acquaintance. 'Will you take your
hat up along with you, or leave it here?'

Mr Jonas preferred leaving it there.

'The hold name, I suppose?' said Bailey, with a grin.

Mr Jonas stared at him in mute indignation.

'What, don't you remember hold mother Todgers's?' said Mr Bailey,
with his favourite action of the knees and boots. 'Don't you
remember my taking your name up to the young ladies, when you came
a-courting there? A reg'lar scaly old shop, warn't it? Times is
changed ain't they. I say how you've growed!'

Without pausing for any acknowledgement of this compliment, he
ushered the visitor upstairs, and having announced him, retired
with a private wink.

The lower story of the house was occupied by a wealthy tradesman,
but Mr Montague had all the upper portion, and splendid lodging it
was. The room in which he received Jonas was a spacious and elegant
apartment, furnished with extreme magnificence; decorated with
pictures, copies from the antique in alabaster and marble, china
vases, lofty mirrors, crimson hangings of the richest silk, gilded
carvings, luxurious couches, glistening cabinets inlaid with
precious woods; costly toys of every sort in negligent abundance.
The only guests besides Jonas were the doctor, the resident
Director, and two other gentlemen, whom Montague presented in due
form.

'My dear friend, I am delighted to see you. Jobling you know, I
believe?'

'I think so,' said the doctor pleasantly, as he stepped out of the
circle to shake hands. 'I trust I have the honour. I hope so. My
dear sir, I see you well. Quite well? THAT'S well!'

'Mr Wolf,' said Montague, as soon as the doctor would allow him to
introduce the two others, 'Mr Chuzzlewit. Mr Pip, Mr Chuzzlewit.'

Both gentlemen were exceedingly happy to have the honour of making
Mr Chuzzlewit's acquaintance. The doctor drew Jonas a little apart,
and whispered behind his hand:

'Men of the world, my dear sir--men of the world. Hem! Mr Wolf
--literary character--you needn't mention it--remarkably clever
weekly paper--oh, remarkably clever! Mr Pip--theatrical man--
capital man to know--oh, capital man!'

'Well!' said Wolf, folding his arms and resuming a conversation
which the arrival of Jonas had interrupted. 'And what did Lord
Nobley say to that?'

'Why,' returned Pip, with an oath. 'He didn't know what to say.
Same, sir, if he wasn't as mute as a poker. But you know what a
good fellow Nobley is!'

'The best fellow in the world!' cried Wolf. 'It as only last week
that Nobley said to me, "By Gad, Wolf, I've got a living to bestow,
and if you had but been brought up at the University, strike me
blind if I wouldn't have made a parson of you!"'

'Just like him,' said Pip with another oath. 'And he'd have done
it!'

'Not a doubt of it,' said Wolf. 'But you were going to tell us--'

'Oh, yes!' cried Pip. 'To be sure. So I was. At first he was
dumb--sewn up, dead, sir--but after a minute he said to the Duke,
"Here's Pip. Ask Pip. Pip's our mutual friend. Ask Pip. He
knows." "Damme!" said the Duke, "I appeal to Pip then. Come, Pip.
Bandy or not bandy? Speak out!" "Bandy, your Grace, by the Lord
Harry!" said I. "Ha, ha!" laughed the Duke. "To be sure she is.
Bravo, Pip. Well said Pip. I wish I may die if you're not a trump,
Pip. Pop me down among your fashionable visitors whenever I'm in
town, Pip." And so I do, to this day.'

The conclusion of this story gave immense satisfaction, which was in
no degree lessened by the announcement of dinner. Jonas repaired to
the dining room, along with his distinguished host, and took his
seat at the board between that individual and his friend the doctor.
The rest fell into their places like men who were well accustomed to
the house; and dinner was done full justice to, by all parties.

It was a good a one as money (or credit, no matter which) could
produce. The dishes, wines, and fruits were of the choicest kind.
Everything was elegantly served. The plate was gorgeous. Mr Jonas
was in the midst of a calculation of the value of this item alone,
when his host disturbed him.

'A glass of wine?'

'Oh!' said Jonas, who had had several glasses already. 'As much of
that as you like! It's too good to refuse.'

'Well said, Mr Chuzzlewit!' cried Wolf.

'Tom Gag, upon my soul!' said Pip.

'Positively, you know, that's--ha, ha, ha!' observed the doctor,
laying down his knife and fork for one instant, and then going to work
again, pell-mell--'that's epigrammatic; quite!'

'You're tolerably comfortable, I hope?' said Tigg, apart to Jonas.

'Oh! You needn't trouble your head about ME,' he replied, 'Famous!'

'I thought it best not to have a party,' said Tigg. 'You feel
that?'

'Why, what do you call this?' retorted Jonas. 'You don't mean to
say you do this every day, do you?'

'My dear fellow,' said Montague, shrugging his shoulders, 'every day
of my life, when I dine at home. This is my common style. It was
of no use having anything uncommon for you. You'd have seen through
it. "You'll have a party?" said Crimple. "No, I won't," I said.
"he shall take us in the rough!"

'And pretty smooth, too, ecod!' said Jonas, glancing round the
table. 'This don't cost a trifle.'

'Why, to be candid with you, it does not,' returned the other. 'But
I like this sort of thing. It's the way I spend my money.'

Jonas thrust his tongue into his cheek, and said, 'Was it?'

'When you join us, you won't get rid of your share of the profits in
the same way?' said Tigg.

'Quite different,' retorted Jonas.

'Well, and you're right,' said Tigg, with friendly candour. 'You
needn't. It's not necessary. One of a Company must do it to hold the
connection together; but, as I take a pleasure in it, that's my
department. You don't mind dining expensively at another man's
expense, I hope?'

'Not a bit,' said Jonas.

'Then I hope you'll often dine with me?'

'Ah!' said Jonas, 'I don't mind. On the contrary.'

'And I'll never attempt to talk business to you over wine, I take my
oath,' said Tigg. 'Oh deep, deep, deep of you this morning! I must
tell 'em that. They're the very men to enjoy it. Pip, my good
fellow, I've a splendid little trait to tell you of my friend
Chuzzlewit who is the deepest dog I know; I give you my sacred word
of honour he is the deepest dog I know, Pip!'

Pip swore a frightful oath that he was sure of it already; and the
anecdote, being told, was received with loud applause, as an
incontestable proof of Mr Jonas's greatness. Pip, in a natural
spirit of emulation, then related some instances of his own depth;
and Wolf not to be left behind-hand, recited the leading points of
one or two vastly humorous articles he was then preparing. These
lucubrations being of what he called 'a warm complexion,' were
highly approved; and all the company agreed that they were full of
point.

'Men of the world, my dear sir,' Jobling whispered to Jonas;
'thorough men of the world! To a professional person like myself
it's quite refreshing to come into this kind of society. It's not
only agreeable--and nothing CAN be more agreeable--but it's
philosophically improving. It's character, my dear sir; character!'

It is so pleasant to find real merit appreciated, whatever its
particular walk in life may be, that the general harmony of the
company was doubtless much promoted by their knowing that the two
men of the world were held in great esteem by the upper classes of
society, and by the gallant defenders of their country in the army
and navy, but particularly the former. The least of their stories
had a colonel in it; lords were as plentiful as oaths; and even the
Blood Royal ran in the muddy channel of their personal recollections.

'Mr Chuzzlewit didn't know him, I'm afraid,' said Wolf, in reference
to a certain personage of illustrious descent, who had previously
figured in a reminiscence.

'No,' said Tigg. 'But we must bring him into contact with this sort
of fellows.'

'He was very fond of literature,' observed Wolf.

'Was he?' said Tigg.

'Oh, yes; he took my paper regularly for many years. Do you know he
said some good things now and then? He asked a certain Viscount,
who's a friend of mine--Pip knows him--"What's the editor's name,
what's the editor's name?" "Wolf." "Wolf, eh? Sharp biter, Wolf.
We must keep the Wolf from the door, as the proverb says. It was
very well. And being complimentary, I printed it.'

'But the Viscount's the boy!' cried Pip, who invented a new oath for
the introduction of everything he said. 'The Viscount's the boy! He
came into our place one night to take Her home; rather slued, but
not much; and said, "Where's Pip? I want to see Pip. Produce
Pip!"--"What's the row, my lord?"--"Shakspeare's an infernal humbug,
Pip! What's the good of Shakspeare, Pip? I never read him. What
the devil is it all about, Pip? There's a lot of feet in
Shakspeare's verse, but there an't any legs worth mentioning in
Shakspeare's plays, are there, Pip? Juliet, Desdemona, Lady
Macbeth, and all the rest of 'em, whatever their names are, might as
well have no legs at all, for anything the audience know about it,
Pip. Why, in that respect they're all Miss Biffins to the audience,
Pip. I'll tell you what it is. What the people call dramatic
poetry is a collection of sermons. Do I go to the theatre to be
lectured? No, Pip. If I wanted that, I'd go to church. What's the
legitimate object of the drama, Pip? Human nature. What are legs?
Human nature. Then let us have plenty of leg pieces, Pip, and I'll
stand by you, my buck!" and I am proud to say,' added Pip, 'that he
DID stand by me, handsomely.'

The conversation now becoming general, Mr Jonas's opinion was
requested on this subject; and as it was in full accordance with the
sentiments of Mr Pip, that gentleman was extremely gratified.
Indeed, both himself and Wolf had so much in common with Jonas, that
they became very amicable; and between their increasing friendship
and the fumes of wine, Jonas grew talkative.

It does not follow in the case of such a person that the more
talkative he becomes, the more agreeable he is; on the contrary, his
merits show to most advantage, perhaps, in silence. Having no
means, as he thought, of putting himself on an equality with the
rest, but by the assertion of that depth and sharpness on which he
had been complimented, Jonas exhibited that faculty to the utmost;
and was so deep and sharp that he lost himself in his own
profundity, and cut his fingers with his own edge-tools.

It was especially in his way and character to exhibit his quality at
his entertainer's expense; and while he drank of his sparkling
wines, and partook of his monstrous profusion, to ridicule the
extravagance which had set such costly fare before him. Even at
such a wanton board, and in such more than doubtful company, this
might have proved a disagreeable experiment, but that Tigg and
Crimple, studying to understand their man thoroughly, gave him what
license he chose: knowing that the more he took, the better for
their purpose. And thus while the blundering cheat--gull that he
was, for all his cunning--thought himself rolled up hedgehog
fashion, with his sharpest points towards them, he was, in fact,
betraying all his vulnerable parts to their unwinking watchfulness.

Whether the two gentlemen who contributed so much to the doctor's
philosophical knowledge (by the way, the doctor slipped off quietly,
after swallowing his usual amount of wine) had had their cue
distinctly from the host, or took it from what they saw and heard,
they acted their parts very well. They solicited the honour of
Jonas's better acquaintance; trusted that they would have the
pleasure of introducing him into that elevated society in which he
was so well qualified to shine; and informed him, in the most
friendly manner that the advantages of their respective
establishments were entirely at his control. In a word, they said
'Be one of us!' And Jonas said he was infinitely obliged to them,
and he would be; adding within himself, that so long as they 'stood
treat,' there was nothing he would like better.

After coffee, which was served in the drawing-room, there was a
short interval (mainly sustained by Pip and Wolf) of conversation;
rather highly spiced and strongly seasoned. When it flagged, Jonas
took it up and showed considerable humour in appraising the
furniture; inquiring whether such an article was paid for; what it
had originally cost, and the like. In all of this, he was, as he
considered, desperately hard on Montague, and very demonstrative of
his own brilliant parts.

Some Champagne Punch gave a new though temporary fillip to the
entertainments of the evening. For after leading to some noisy
proceedings, which were not intelligible, it ended in the unsteady
departure of the two gentlemen of the world, and the slumber of Mr
Jonas upon one of the sofas.

As he could not be made to understand where he was, Mr Bailey
received orders to call a hackney-coach, and take him home; which
that young gentleman roused himself from an uneasy sleep in the
hall to do. It being now almost three o'clock in the morning.

'Is he hooked, do you think?' whispered Crimple, as himself and
partner stood in a distant part of the room observing him as he lay.

'Aye!' said Tigg, in the same tone. 'With a strong iron, perhaps.
Has Nadgett been here to-night?'

'Yes. I went out to him. Hearing you had company, he went away.'

'Why did he do that?'

'He said he would come back early in the morning, before you were
out of bed.'

'Tell them to be sure and send him up to my bedside. Hush! Here's
the boy! Now Mr Bailey, take this gentleman home, and see him safely
in. Hallo, here! Why Chuzzlewit, halloa!'

They got him upright with some difficulty, and assisted him
downstairs, where they put his hat upon his head, and tumbled him
into the coach. Mr Bailey, having shut him in, mounted the box
beside the coachman, and smoked his cigar with an air of particular
satisfaction; the undertaking in which he was engaged having a free
and sporting character about it, which was quite congenial to his
taste.

Arriving in due time at the house in the City, Mr Bailey jumped
down, and expressed the lively nature of his feelings in a knock the
like of which had probably not been heard in that quarter since the
great fire of London. Going out into the road to observe the effect
of this feat, he saw that a dim light, previously visible at an
upper window, had been already removed and was travelling
downstairs. To obtain a foreknowledge of the bearer of this
taper, Mr Bailey skipped back to the door again, and put his eye
to the keyhole.

It was the merry one herself. But sadly, strangely altered! So
careworn and dejected, so faltering and full of fear; so fallen,
humbled, broken; that to have seen her quiet in her coffin would
have been a less surprise.

She set the light upon a bracket in the hall, and laid her hand upon
her heart; upon her eyes; upon her burning head. Then she came on
towards the door with such a wild and hurried step that Mr Bailey
lost his self-possession, and still had his eye where the keyhole
had been, when she opened it.

'Aha!' said Mr Bailey, with an effort. 'There you are, are you?
What's the matter? Ain't you well, though?'

In the midst of her astonishment as she recognized him in his
altered dress, so much of her old smile came back to her face that
Bailey was glad. But next moment he was sorry again, for he saw
tears standing in her poor dim eyes.

'Don't be frightened,' said Bailey. 'There ain't nothing the matter.
I've brought home Mr Chuzzlewit. He ain't ill. He's only a little
swipey, you know.' Mr Bailey reeled in his boots, to express
intoxication.

'Have you come from Mrs Todgers's?' asked Merry, trembling.

'Todgers's, bless you! No!' cried Mr Bailey. 'I haven't got nothin,
to do with Todgers's. I cut that connection long ago. He's been a-
dining with my governor at the west-end. Didn't you know he was a-
coming to see us?'

'No,' she said, faintly.

'Oh yes! We're heavy swells too, and so I tell you. Don't you come
out, a-catching cold in your head. I'll wake him!' Mr Bailey
expressing in his demeanour a perfect confidence that he could carry
him in with ease, if necessary, opened the coach door, let down the
steps, and giving Jonas a shake, cried 'We've got home, my flower!
Tumble up, then!'

He was so far recovered as to be able to respond to this appeal, and
to come stumbling out of the coach in a heap, to the great hazard of
Mr Bailey's person. When he got upon the pavement, Mr Bailey first
butted at him in front, and then dexterously propped him up behind;
and having steadied him by these means, he assisted him into the
house.

'You go up first with the light,' said Bailey to Mr Jonas, 'and
we'll foller. Don't tremble so. He won't hurt you. When I've had
a drop too much, I'm full of good natur myself.'

She went on before; and her husband and Bailey, by dint of tumbling
over each other, and knocking themselves about, got at last into the
sitting-room above stairs, where Jonas staggered into a seat.

'There!' said Mr Bailey. 'He's all right now. You ain't got
nothing to cry for, bless you! He's righter than a trivet!'

The ill-favoured brute, with dress awry, and sodden face, and
rumpled hair, sat blinking and drooping, and rolling his idiotic
eyes about, until, becoming conscious by degrees, he recognized his
wife, and shook his fist at her.

'Ah!' cried Mr Bailey, squaring his arms with a sudden emotion.
'What, you're wicious, are you? Would you though! You'd better
not!'

'Pray, go away!' said Merry. 'Bailey, my good boy, go home.
Jonas!' she said; timidly laying her hand upon his shoulder, and
bending her head down over him. 'Jonas!'

'Look at her!' cried Jonas, pushing her off with his extended arm.
'Look here! Look at her! Here's a bargain for a man!'

'Dear Jonas!'

'Dear Devil!' he replied, with a fierce gesture. 'You're a pretty
clog to be tied to a man for life, you mewling, white-faced cat!
Get out of my sight!'

'I know you don't mean it, Jonas. You wouldn't say it if you were
sober.'

With affected gayety she gave Bailey a piece of money, and again
implored him to be gone. Her entreaty was so earnest, that the boy
had not the heart to stay there. But he stopped at the bottom of
the stairs, and listened.

'I wouldn't say it if I was sober!' retorted Jonas. 'You know
better. Have I never said it when I was sober?'

'Often, indeed!' she answered through her tears.

'Hark ye!' cried Jonas, stamping his foot upon the ground. 'You
made me bear your pretty humours once, and ecod I'll make you bear
mine now. I always promised myself I would. I married you that I
might. I'll know who's master, and who's slave!'

'Heaven knows I am obedient!' said the sobbing girl. 'Much more so
than I ever thought to be!'

Jonas laughed in his drunken exultation. 'What! you're finding it
out, are you! Patience, and you will in time! Griffins have claws,
my girl. There's not a pretty slight you ever put upon me, nor a
pretty trick you ever played me, nor a pretty insolence you ever
showed me, that I won't pay back a hundred-fold. What else did I
marry you for? YOU, too!' he said, with coarse contempt.

It might have softened him--indeed it might--to hear her turn a
little fragment of a song he used to say he liked; trying, with
a heart so full, to win him back.

'Oho!' he said, 'you're deaf, are you? You don't hear me, eh? So
much the better for you. I hate you. I hate myself, for having,
been fool enough to strap a pack upon my back for the pleasure of
treading on it whenever I choose. Why, things have opened to me,
now, so that I might marry almost where I liked. But I wouldn't;
I'd keep single. I ought to be single, among the friends I know.
Instead of that, here I am, tied like a log to you. Pah! Why do
you show your pale face when I come home? Am I never to forget you?'

'How late it is!' she said cheerfully, opening the shutter after an
interval of silence. 'Broad day, Jonas!'

'Broad day or black night, what do I care!' was the kind rejoinder.

'The night passed quickly, too. I don't mind sitting up, at all.'

'Sit up for me again, if you dare!' growled Jonas.

'I was reading,' she proceeded, 'all night long. I began when you
went out, and read till you came home again. The strangest story,
Jonas! And true, the book says. I'll tell it you to-morrow.'

'True, was it?' said Jonas, doggedly.

'So the book says.'

'Was there anything in it, about a man's being determined to conquer
his wife, break her spirit, bend her temper, crush all her humours
like so many nut-shells--kill her, for aught I know?' said Jonas.

'No. Not a word,' she answered quickly.

'Oh!' he returned. 'That'll be a true story though, before long;
for all the book says nothing about it. It's a lying book, I see.
A fit book for a lying reader. But you're deaf. I forgot that.'

There was another interval of silence; and the boy was stealing
away, when he heard her footstep on the floor, and stopped. She
went up to him, as it seemed, and spoke lovingly; saying that she
would defer to him in everything and would consult his wishes and
obey them, and they might be very happy if he would be gentle with
her. He answered with an imprecation, and--

Not with a blow? Yes. Stern truth against the base-souled villain;
with a blow.

No angry cries; no loud reproaches. Even her weeping and her sobs
were stifled by her clinging round him. She only said, repeating
it in agony of heart, how could he, could he, could he--and lost
utterance in tears.

Oh woman, God beloved in old Jerusalem! The best among us need
deal lightly with thy faults, if only for the punishment thy nature
will endure, in bearing heavy evidence against us, on the Day of
Judgment!

CHAPTER TWENTY-NINE

IN WHICH SOME PEOPLE ARE PRECOCIOUS, OTHERS PROFESSIONAL, AND OTHERS
MYSTERIOUS; ALL IN THEIR SEVERAL WAYS

It may have been the restless remembrance of what he had seen and
heard overnight, or it may have been no deeper mental operation than
the discovery that he had nothing to do, which caused Mr Bailey, on
the following afternoon, to feel particularly disposed for agreeable
society, and prompted him to pay a visit to his friend Poll
Sweedlepipe.

On the little bell giving clamorous notice of a visitor's approach
(for Mr Bailey came in at the door with a lunge, to get as much
sound out of the bell as possible), Poll Sweedlepipe desisted from
the contemplation of a favourite owl, and gave his young friend
hearty welcome.

'Why, you look smarter by day,' said Poll, 'than you do by candle-
light. I never see such a tight young dasher.'

'Reether so, Polly. How's our fair friend, Sairah?'

'Oh, she's pretty well,' said Poll. 'She's at home.'

'There's the remains of a fine woman about Sairah, Poll,' observed
Mr Bailey, with genteel indifference.

'Oh!' thought Poll, 'he's old. He must be very old!'

'Too much crumb, you know,' said Mr Bailey; 'too fat, Poll. But
there's many worse at her time of life'

'The very owl's a-opening his eyes!' thought Poll. 'I don't wonder
at it in a bird of his opinions.'

He happened to have been sharpening his razors, which were lying
open in a row, while a huge strop dangled from the wall. Glancing
at these preparations, Mr Bailey stroked his chin, and a thought
appeared to occur to him.

'Poll,' he said, 'I ain't as neat as I could wish about the gills.
Being here, I may as well have a shave, and get trimmed close.'

The barber stood aghast; but Mr Bailey divested himself of his neck-
cloth, and sat down in the easy shaving chair with all the dignity
and confidence in life. There was no resisting his manner. The
evidence of sight and touch became as nothing. His chin was as
smooth as a new-laid egg or a scraped Dutch cheese; but Poll
Sweedlepipe wouldn't have ventured to deny, on affidavit, that he
had the beard of a Jewish rabbi.

'Go WITH the grain, Poll, all round, please,' said Mr Bailey,
screwing up his face for the reception of the lather. 'You may do
wot you like with the bits of whisker. I don't care for 'em.'

The meek little barber stood gazing at him with the brush and soap-
dish in his hand, stirring them round and round in a ludicrous
uncertainty, as if he were disabled by some fascination from
beginning. At last he made a dash at Mr Bailey's cheek. Then he
stopped again, as if the ghost of a beard had suddenly receded from
his touch; but receiving mild encouragement from Mr Bailey, in the
form of an adjuration to 'Go in and win,' he lathered him
bountifully. Mr Bailey smiled through the suds in his satisfaction.
'Gently over the stones, Poll. Go a tip-toe over the pimples!'

Poll Sweedlepipe obeyed, and scraped the lather off again with
particular care. Mr Bailey squinted at every successive dab, as it
was deposited on a cloth on his left shoulder, and seemed, with a
microscopic eye, to detect some bristles in it; for he murmured more
than once 'Reether redder than I could wish, Poll.' The operation
being concluded, Poll fell back and stared at him again, while Mr
Bailey, wiping his face on the jack-towel, remarked, 'that arter
late hours nothing freshened up a man so much as a easy shave.'

He was in the act of tying his cravat at the glass, without his
coat, and Poll had wiped his razor, ready for the next customer,
when Mrs Gamp, coming downstairs, looked in at the shop-door to
give the barber neighbourly good day. Feeling for her unfortunate
situation, in having conceived a regard for himself which it was not
in the nature of things that he could return, Mr Bailey hastened to
soothe her with words of kindness.

'Hallo!' he said, 'Sairah! I needn't ask you how you've been this
long time, for you're in full bloom. All a-blowin and a-growin;
ain't she, Polly?'

'Why, drat the Bragian boldness of that boy!' cried Mrs Gamp, though
not displeased. 'What a imperent young sparrow it is! I wouldn't be
that creetur's mother not for fifty pound!'

Mr Bailey regarded this as a delicate confession of her attachment,
and a hint that no pecuniary gain could recompense her for its being
rendered hopeless. He felt flattered. Disinterested affection is
always flattering.

'Ah, dear!' moaned Mrs Gamp, sinking into the shaving chair, 'that
there blessed Bull, Mr Sweedlepipe, has done his wery best to conker
me. Of all the trying inwalieges in this walley of the shadder,
that one beats 'em black and blue.'

It was the practice of Mrs Gamp and her friends in the profession,
to say this of all the easy customers; as having at once the effect
of discouraging competitors for office, and accounting for the
necessity of high living on the part of the nurses.

'Talk of constitooshun!' Mrs Gamp observed. 'A person's
constitooshun need be made of bricks to stand it. Mrs Harris jestly
says to me, but t'other day, "Oh! Sairey Gamp," she says, "how is it
done?" "Mrs Harris, ma'am," I says to her, "we gives no trust
ourselves, and puts a deal o'trust elsevere; these is our religious
feelins, and we finds 'em answer." "Sairey," says Mrs Harris, "sech
is life. Vich likeways is the hend of all things!"'

The barber gave a soft murmur, as much as to say that Mrs Harris's
remark, though perhaps not quite so intelligible as could be desired
from such an authority, did equal honour to her head and to her
heart.

'And here,' continued Mrs Gamp, 'and here am I a-goin twenty mile in
distant, on as wentersome a chance as ever any one as monthlied ever
run, I do believe. Says Mrs Harris, with a woman's and a mother's
art a-beatin in her human breast, she says to me, "You're not a-
goin, Sairey, Lord forgive you!" "Why am I not a-goin, Mrs Harris?"
I replies. "Mrs Gill," I says, "wos never wrong with six; and is it
likely, ma'am--I ast you as a mother--that she will begin to be
unreg'lar now? Often and often have I heerd him say," I says to Mrs
Harris, meaning Mr Gill, "that he would back his wife agen Moore's
almanack, to name the very day and hour, for ninepence farden. IS
it likely, ma'am," I says, "as she will fail this once?" Says Mrs
Harris "No, ma'am, not in the course of natur. But," she says, the
tears a-fillin in her eyes, "you knows much betterer than me, with
your experienge, how little puts us out. A Punch's show," she says,
"a chimbley sweep, a newfundlan dog, or a drunkin man a-comin round
the corner sharp may do it." So it may, Mr Sweedlepipes,' said Mrs
Gamp, 'there's no deniging of it; and though my books is clear for a
full week, I takes a anxious art along with me, I do assure you,
sir.'

'You're so full of zeal, you see!' said Poll. 'You worrit yourself
so.'

'Worrit myself!' cried Mrs Gamp, raising her hands and turning up
her eyes. 'You speak truth in that, sir, if you never speaks no
more 'twixt this and when two Sundays jines together. I feels the
sufferins of other people more than I feels my own, though no one
mayn't suppoge it. The families I've had,' said Mrs Gamp, 'if all
was knowd and credit done where credit's doo, would take a week to
chris'en at Saint Polge's fontin!'

'Where's the patient goin?' asked Sweedlepipe.

'Into Har'fordshire, which is his native air. But native airs nor
native graces neither,' Mrs Gamp observed, 'won't bring HIM round.'

'So bad as that?' inquired the wistful barber. 'Indeed!'

Mrs Gamp shook her head mysteriously, and pursed up her lips.
'There's fevers of the mind,' she said, 'as well as body. You may
take your slime drafts till you files into the air with
efferwescence; but you won't cure that.'

'Ah!' said the barber, opening his eyes, and putting on his raven
aspect; 'Lor!'

'No. You may make yourself as light as any gash balloon,' said Mrs
Gamp. 'But talk, when you're wrong in your head and when you're in
your sleep, of certain things; and you'll be heavy in your mind.'

'Of what kind of things now?' inquired Poll, greedily biting his
nails in his great interest. 'Ghosts?'

Mrs Gamp, who perhaps had been already tempted further than she had
intended to go, by the barber's stimulating curiosity, gave a sniff
of uncommon significance, and said, it didn't signify.

'I'm a-goin down with my patient in the coach this arternoon,' she
proceeded. 'I'm a-goin to stop with him a day or so, till he gets a
country nuss (drat them country nusses, much the orkard hussies
knows about their bis'ness); and then I'm a-comin back; and that's
my trouble, Mr Sweedlepipes. But I hope that everythink'll only go
on right and comfortable as long as I'm away; perwisin which, as Mrs
Harris says, Mrs Gill is welcome to choose her own time; all times
of the day and night bein' equally the same to me.'

During the progress of the foregoing remarks, which Mrs Gamp had
addressed exclusively to the barber, Mr Bailey had been tying his
cravat, getting on his coat, and making hideous faces at himself in
the glass. Being now personally addressed by Mrs Gamp, he turned
round, and mingled in the conversation.

'You ain't been in the City, I suppose, sir, since we was all three
there together,' said Mrs Gamp, 'at Mr Chuzzlewit's?'

'Yes, I have, Sairah. I was there last night.'

'Last night!' cried the barber.

'Yes, Poll, reether so. You can call it this morning, if you like
to be particular. He dined with us.'

'Who does that young Limb mean by "hus?"' said Mrs Gamp, with most
impatient emphasis.

'Me and my Governor, Sairah. He dined at our house. We wos very
merry, Sairah. So much so, that I was obliged to see him home in a
hackney coach at three o'clock in the morning.' It was on the tip of
the boy's tongue to relate what had followed; but remembering how
easily it might be carried to his master's ears, and the repeated
cautions he had had from Mr Crimple 'not to chatter,' he checked
himself; adding, only, 'She was sitting up, expecting him.'

'And all things considered,' said Mrs Gamp sharply, 'she might have
know'd better than to go a-tirin herself out, by doin' anythink of
the sort. Did they seem pretty pleasant together, sir?'

'Oh, yes,' answered Bailey, 'pleasant enough.'

'I'm glad on it,' said Mrs Gamp, with a second sniff of significance.

'They haven't been married so long,' observed Poll, rubbing his
hands, 'that they need be anything but pleasant yet awhile.'

'No,' said Mrs Gamp, with a third significant signal.

'Especially,' pursued the barber, 'when the gentleman bears such a
character as you gave him.'

'I speak; as I find, Mr Sweedlepipes,' said Mrs Gamp. 'Forbid it
should be otherways! But we never knows wot's hidden in each other's
hearts; and if we had glass winders there, we'd need keep the
shetters up, some on us, I do assure you!'

'But you don't mean to say--' Poll Sweedlepipe began.

'No,' said Mrs Gamp, cutting him very short, 'I don't. Don't think
I do. The torters of the Imposition shouldn't make me own I did.
All I says is,' added the good woman, rising and folding her shawl
about her, 'that the Bull's a-waitin, and the precious moments is
a-flyin' fast.'

The little barber having in his eager curiosity a great desire to
see Mrs Gamp's patient, proposed to Mr Bailey that they should
accompany her to the Bull, and witness the departure of the coach.
That young gentleman assenting, they all went out together.

Arriving at the tavern, Mrs Gamp (who was full-dressed for the
journey, in her latest suit of mourning) left her friends to
entertain themselves in the yard, while she ascended to the sick
room, where her fellow-labourer Mrs Prig was dressing the invalid.

He was so wasted, that it seemed as if his bones would rattle when
they moved him. His cheeks were sunken, and his eyes unnaturally
large. He lay back in the easy-chair like one more dead than
living; and rolled his languid eyes towards the door when Mrs Gamp
appeared, as painfully as if their weight alone were burdensome to
move.

'And how are we by this time?' Mrs Gamp observed. 'We looks
charming.'

'We looks a deal charminger than we are, then,' returned Mrs Prig, a
little chafed in her temper. 'We got out of bed back'ards, I think,
for we're as cross as two sticks. I never see sich a man. He
wouldn't have been washed, if he'd had his own way.'

'She put the soap in my mouth,' said the unfortunate patient feebly.

'Couldn't you keep it shut then?' retorted Mrs Prig. 'Who do you
think's to wash one feater, and miss another, and wear one's eyes
out with all manner of fine work of that description, for half-a-
crown a day! If you wants to be tittivated, you must pay accordin'.'

'Oh dear me!' cried the patient, 'oh dear, dear!'

'There!' said Mrs Prig, 'that's the way he's been a-conductin of
himself, Sarah, ever since I got him out of bed, if you'll believe
it.'

'Instead of being grateful,' Mrs Gamp observed, 'for all our little
ways. Oh, fie for shame, sir, fie for shame!'

Here Mrs Prig seized the patient by the chin, and began to rasp his
unhappy head with a hair-brush.

'I suppose you don't like that, neither!' she observed, stopping to
look at him.

It was just possible that he didn't for the brush was a specimen of
the hardest kind of instrument producible by modern art; and his
very eyelids were red with the friction. Mrs Prig was gratified to
observe the correctness of her supposition, and said triumphantly
'she know'd as much.'

When his hair was smoothed down comfortably into his eyes, Mrs Prig
and Mrs Gamp put on his neckerchief; adjusting his shirt collar with
great nicety, so that the starched points should also invade those
organs, and afflict them with an artificial ophthalmia. His
waistcoat and coat were next arranged; and as every button was
wrenched into a wrong button-hole, and the order of his boots was
reversed, he presented on the whole rather a melancholy appearance.

'I don't think it's right,' said the poor weak invalid. 'I feel as
if I was in somebody else's clothes. I'm all on one side; and
you've made one of my legs shorter than the other. There's a bottle
in my pocket too. What do you make me sit upon a bottle for?'

'Deuce take the man!' cried Mrs Gamp, drawing it forth. 'If he
ain't been and got my night-bottle here. I made a little cupboard
of his coat when it hung behind the door, and quite forgot it,
Betsey. You'll find a ingun or two, and a little tea and sugar in
his t'other pocket, my dear, if you'll just be good enough to take
'em out.'

Betsey produced the property in question, together with some other
articles of general chandlery; and Mrs Gamp transferred them to her
own pocket, which was a species of nankeen pannier. Refreshment
then arrived in the form of chops and strong ale for the ladies, and
a basin of beef-tea for the patient; which refection was barely at
an end when John Westlock appeared.

'Up and dressed!' cried John, sitting down beside him. 'That's
brave. How do you feel?'

'Much better. But very weak.'

'No wonder. You have had a hard bout of it. But country air, and
change of scene,' said John, 'will make another man of you! Why, Mrs
Gamp,' he added, laughing, as he kindly arranged the sick man's
garments, 'you have odd notions of a gentleman's dress!'

'Mr Lewsome an't a easy gent to get into his clothes, sir,' Mrs Gamp
replied with dignity; 'as me and Betsey Prig can certify afore the
Lord Mayor and Uncommon Counsellors, if needful!'

John at that moment was standing close in front of the sick man, in
the act of releasing him from the torture of the collars before
mentioned, when he said in a whisper:

'Mr Westlock! I don't wish to be overheard. I have something very
particular and strange to say to you; something that has been a
dreadful weight on my mind, through this long illness.'

Quick in all his motions, John was turning round to desire the women
to leave the room; when the sick man held him by the sleeve.

'Not now. I've not the strength. I've not the courage. May I tell
it when I have? May I write it, if I find that easier and better?'

'May you!' cried John. 'Why, Lewsome, what is this!'

'Don't ask me what it is. It's unnatural and cruel. Frightful to
think of. Frightful to tell. Frightful to know. Frightful to have
helped in. Let me kiss your hand for all your goodness to me. Be
kinder still, and don't ask me what it is!'

At first, John gazed at him in great surprise; but remembering how
very much reduced he was, and how recently his brain had been on
fire with fever, believed that he was labouring under some imaginary
horror or despondent fancy. For farther information on this point,
he took an opportunity of drawing Mrs Gamp aside, while Betsey Prig
was wrapping him in cloaks and shawls, and asked her whether he was
quite collected in his mind.

'Oh bless you, no!' said Mrs Gamp. 'He hates his nusses to this
hour. They always does it, sir. It's a certain sign. If you could
have heerd the poor dear soul a-findin fault with me and Betsey
Prig, not half an hour ago, you would have wondered how it is we
don't get fretted to the tomb.'

This almost confirmed John in his suspicion; so, not taking what had
passed into any serious account, he resumed his former cheerful
manner, and assisted by Mrs Gamp and Betsey Prig, conducted Lewsome
downstairs to the coach; just then upon the point of starting.
Poll Sweedlepipe was at the door with his arms tight folded and his
eyes wide open, and looked on with absorbing interest, while the
sick man was slowly moved into the vehicle. His bony hands and
haggard face impressed Poll wonderfully; and he informed Mr Bailey
in confidence, that he wouldn't have missed seeing him for a pound.
Mr Bailey, who was of a different constitution, remarked that he
would have stayed away for five shillings.

It was a troublesome matter to adjust Mrs Gamp's luggage to her
satisfaction; for every package belonging to that lady had the
inconvenient property of requiring to be put in a boot by itself,
and to have no other luggage near it, on pain of actions at law for
heavy damages against the proprietors of the coach. The umbrella
with the circular patch was particularly hard to be got rid of, and
several times thrust out its battered brass nozzle from improper
crevices and chinks, to the great terror of the other passengers.
Indeed, in her intense anxiety to find a haven of refuge for this
chattel, Mrs Gamp so often moved it, in the course of five minutes,
that it seemed not one umbrella but fifty. At length it was lost,
or said to be; and for the next five minutes she was face to face
with the coachman, go wherever he might, protesting that it should
be 'made good,' though she took the question to the House of
Commons.

At last, her bundle, and her pattens, and her basket, and
everything else, being disposed of, she took a friendly leave of
Poll and Mr Bailey, dropped a curtsey to John Westlock, and parted
as from a cherished member of the sisterhood with Betsey Prig.

'Wishin you lots of sickness, my darlin creetur,' Mrs Gamp observed,
'and good places. It won't be long, I hope, afore we works
together, off and on, again, Betsey; and may our next meetin' be at
a large family's, where they all takes it reg'lar, one from another,
turn and turn about, and has it business-like.'

'I don't care how soon it is,' said Mrs Prig; 'nor how many weeks it
lasts.'

Mrs Gamp with a reply in a congenial spirit was backing to the
coach, when she came in contact with a lady and gentleman who were
passing along the footway.

'Take care, take care here!' cried the gentleman. 'Halloo!
My dear! Why, it's Mrs Gamp!'

'What, Mr Mould!' exclaimed the nurse. 'And Mrs Mould! who would
have thought as we should ever have a meetin' here, I'm sure!'

'Going out of town, Mrs Gamp?' cried Mould. 'That's unusual, isn't
it?'

'It IS unusual, sir,' said Mrs Gamp. 'But only for a day or two at
most. The gent,' she whispered, 'as I spoke about.'

'What, in the coach!' cried Mould. 'The one you thought of
recommending? Very odd. My dear, this will interest you. The
gentleman that Mrs Gamp thought likely to suit us is in the coach,
my love.'

Mrs Mould was greatly interested.

'Here, my dear. You can stand upon the door-step,' said Mould, 'and
take a look at him. Ha! There he is. Where's my glass? Oh! all
right. I've got it. Do you see him, my dear?'

'Quite plain,' said Mrs Mould.

'Upon my life, you know, this is a very singular circumstance,' said
Mould, quite delighted. 'This is the sort of thing, my dear, I
wouldn't have missed on any account. It tickles one. It's
interesting. It's almost a little play, you know. Ah! There
he is! To be sure. Looks poorly, Mrs M., don't he?'

Mrs Mould assented.

'He's coming our way, perhaps, after all,' said Mould. 'Who knows!
I feel as if I ought to show him some little attention, really. He
don't seem a stranger to me. I'm very much inclined to move my hat,
my dear.'

'He's looking hard this way,' said Mrs Mould.

'Then I will!' cried Mould. 'How d'ye do, sir! I wish you good day.
Ha! He bows too. Very gentlemanly. Mrs Gamp has the cards in her
pocket, I have no doubt. This is very singular, my dear--and very
pleasant. I am not superstitious, but it really seems as if one was
destined to pay him those little melancholy civilities which belong
to our peculiar line of business. There can be no kind of objection
to your kissing your hand to him, my dear.'

Mrs Mould did so.

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