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Life And Adventures Of Martin Chuzzlewit by Charles Dickens

Part 14 out of 20

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handkerchiefs were waved again; the charity children were admonished
to grow up Pecksniffs, every boy among them; the Corporation,
gentlemen with wands, member for the Gentlemanly Interest, all
cheered for Mr Pecksniff. Three cheers for Mr Pecksniff! Three more
for Mr Pecksniff! Three more for Mr Pecksniff, gentlemen, if you
please! One more, gentlemen, for Mr Pecksniff, and let it be a good
one to finish with!

In short, Mr Pecksniff was supposed to have done a great work and
was very kindly, courteously, and generously rewarded. When the
procession moved away, and Martin and Mark were left almost alone
upon the ground, his merits and a desire to acknowledge them formed
the common topic. He was only second to the Gentlemanly member.

'Compare the fellow's situation to-day with ours!' said Martin
bitterly.

'Lord bless you, sir!' cried Mark, 'what's the use? Some architects
are clever at making foundations, and some architects are clever at
building on 'em when they're made. But it'll all come right in the
end, sir; it'll all come right!'

'And in the meantime--' began Martin.

'In the meantime, as you say, sir, we have a deal to do, and far to
go. So sharp's the word, and Jolly!'

'You are the best master in the world, Mark,' said Martin, 'and I
will not be a bad scholar if I can help it, I am resolved! So come!
Best foot foremost, old fellow!'

CHAPTER THIRTY-SIX

TOM PINCH DEPARTS TO SEEK HIS FORTUNE. WHAT HE FINDS AT STARTING

Oh! What a different town Salisbury was in Tom Pinch's eyes to be
sure, when the substantial Pecksniff of his heart melted away into
an idle dream! He possessed the same faith in the wonderful shops,
the same intensified appreciation of the mystery and wickedness of
the place; made the same exalted estimate of its wealth, population,
and resources; and yet it was not the old city nor anything like it.
He walked into the market while they were getting breakfast ready
for him at the Inn; and though it was the same market as of old,
crowded by the same buyers and sellers; brisk with the same
business; noisy with the same confusion of tongues and cluttering of
fowls in coops; fair with the same display of rolls of butter, newly
made, set forth in linen cloths of dazzling whiteness; green with
the same fresh show of dewy vegetables; dainty with the same array
in higglers' baskets of small shaving-glasses, laces, braces,
trouser-straps, and hardware; savoury with the same unstinted show
of delicate pigs' feet, and pies made precious by the pork that once
had walked upon them; still it was strangely changed to Tom. For,
in the centre of the market-place, he missed a statue he had set up
there as in all other places of his personal resort; and it looked
cold and bare without that ornament.

The change lay no deeper than this, for Tom was far from being sage
enough to know, that, having been disappointed in one man, it would
have been a strictly rational and eminently wise proceeding to have
revenged himself upon mankind in general, by mistrusting them one
and all. Indeed this piece of justice, though it is upheld by the
authority of divers profound poets and honourable men, bears a
nearer resemblance to the justice of that good Vizier in the
Thousand-and-one Nights, who issues orders for the destruction of
all the Porters in Bagdad because one of that unfortunate fraternity
is supposed to have misconducted himself, than to any logical, not
to say Christian, system of conduct, known to the world in later
times.

Tom had so long been used to steep the Pecksniff of his fancy in his
tea, and spread him out upon his toast, and take him as a relish
with his beer, that he made but a poor breakfast on the first
morning after his expulsion. Nor did he much improve his appetite
for dinner by seriously considering his own affairs, and taking
counsel thereon with his friend the organist's assistant.

The organist's assistant gave it as his decided opinion that
whatever Tom did, he must go to London; for there was no place like
it. Which may be true in the main, though hardly, perhaps, in
itself, a sufficient reason for Tom's going there.

But Tom had thought of London before, and had coupled with it
thoughts of his sister, and of his old friend John Westlock, whose
advice he naturally felt disposed to seek in this important crisis
of his fortunes. To London, therefore, he resolved to go; and he
went away to the coach-office at once, to secure his place. The
coach being already full, he was obliged to postpone his departure
until the next night; but even this circumstance had its bright side
as well as its dark one, for though it threatened to reduce his poor
purse with unexpected country charges, it afforded him an
opportunity of writing to Mrs Lupin and appointing his box to be
brought to the old finger-post at the old time; which would enable
him to take that treasure with him to the metropolis, and save the
expense of its carriage. 'So,' said Tom, comforting himself, 'it's
very nearly as broad as it's long.'

And it cannot be denied that, when he had made up his mind to even
this extent, he felt an unaccustomed sense of freedom--a vague and
indistinct impression of holiday-making--which was very luxurious.
He had his moments of depression and anxiety, and they were, with
good reason, pretty numerous; but still, it was wonderfully pleasant
to reflect that he was his own master, and could plan and scheme for
himself. It was startling, thrilling, vast, difficult to
understand; it was a stupendous truth, teeming with responsibility
and self-distrust; but in spite of all his cares, it gave a curious
relish to the viands at the Inn, and interposed a dreamy haze
between him and his prospects, in which they sometimes showed to
magical advantage.

In this unsettled state of mind, Tom went once more to bed in the
low four-poster, to the same immovable surprise of the effigies of
the former landlord and the fat ox; and in this condition, passed
the whole of the succeeding day. When the coach came round at last
with 'London' blazoned in letters of gold upon the boot, it gave Tom
such a turn, that he was half disposed to run away. But he didn't
do it; for he took his seat upon the box instead, and looking down
upon the four greys, felt as if he were another grey himself, or, at
all events, a part of the turn-out; and was quite confused by the
novelty and splendour of his situation.

And really it might have confused a less modest man than Tom to find
himself sitting next that coachman; for of all the swells that ever
flourished a whip professionally, he might have been elected
emperor. He didn't handle his gloves like another man, but put them
on--even when he was standing on the pavement, quite detached from
the coach--as if the four greys were, somehow or other, at the ends
of the fingers. It was the same with his hat. He did things with
his hat, which nothing but an unlimited knowledge of horses and the
wildest freedom of the road, could ever have made him perfect in.
Valuable little parcels were brought to him with particular
instructions, and he pitched them into this hat, and stuck it on
again; as if the laws of gravity did not admit of such an event as
its being knocked off or blown off, and nothing like an accident
could befall it. The guard, too! Seventy breezy miles a day were
written in his very whiskers. His manners were a canter; his
conversation a round trot. He was a fast coach upon a down-hill
turnpike road; he was all pace. A waggon couldn't have moved
slowly, with that guard and his key-bugle on the top of it.

These were all foreshadowings of London, Tom thought, as he sat upon
the box, and looked about him. Such a coachman, and such a guard,
never could have existed between Salisbury and any other place. The
coach was none of your steady-going, yokel coaches, but a
swaggering, rakish, dissipated London coach; up all night, and lying
by all day, and leading a devil of a life. It cared no more for
Salisbury than if it had been a hamlet. It rattled noisily through
the best streets, defied the Cathedral, took the worst corners
sharpest, went cutting in everywhere, making everything get out of
its way; and spun along the open country-road, blowing a lively
defiance out of its key-bugle, as its last glad parting legacy.

It was a charming evening. Mild and bright. And even with the
weight upon his mind which arose out of the immensity and
uncertainty of London, Tom could not resist the captivating sense of
rapid motion through the pleasant air. The four greys skimmed
along, as if they liked it quite as well as Tom did; the bugle was
in as high spirits as the greys; the coachman chimed in sometimes
with his voice; the wheels hummed cheerfully in unison; the brass
work on the harness was an orchestra of little bells; and thus, as
they went clinking, jingling, rattling smoothly on, the whole
concern, from the buckles of the leaders' coupling-reins to the
handle of the hind boot, was one great instrument of music.

Yoho, past hedges, gates, and trees; past cottages and barns, and
people going home from work. Yoho, past donkey-chaises, drawn aside
into the ditch, and empty carts with rampant horses, whipped up at a
bound upon the little watercourse, and held by struggling carters
close to the five-barred gate, until the coach had passed the narrow
turning in the road. Yoho, by churches dropped down by themselves
in quiet nooks, with rustic burial-grounds about them, where the
graves are green, and daisies sleep--for it is evening--on the
bosoms of the dead. Yoho, past streams, in which the cattle cool
their feet, and where the rushes grow; past paddock-fences, farms,
and rick-yards; past last year's stacks, cut, slice by slice, away,
and showing, in the waning light, like ruined gables, old and brown.
Yoho, down the pebbly dip, and through the merry water-splash and up
at a canter to the level road again. Yoho! Yoho!

Was the box there, when they came up to the old finger-post? The
box! Was Mrs Lupin herself? Had she turned out magnificently as a
hostess should, in her own chaise-cart, and was she sitting in a
mahogany chair, driving her own horse Dragon (who ought to have been
called Dumpling), and looking lovely? Did the stage-coach pull up
beside her, shaving her very wheel, and even while the guard helped
her man up with the trunk, did he send the glad echoes of his bugle
careering down the chimneys of the distant Pecksniff, as if the
coach expressed its exultation in the rescue of Tom Pinch?

'This is kind indeed!' said Tom, bending down to shake hands with
her. 'I didn't mean to give you this trouble.'

'Trouble, Mr Pinch!' cried the hostess of the Dragon.

'Well! It's a pleasure to you, I know,' said Tom, squeezing her hand
heartily. 'Is there any news?'

The hostess shook her head.

'Say you saw me,' said Tom, 'and that I was very bold and cheerful,
and not a bit down-hearted; and that I entreated her to be the same,
for all is certain to come right at last. Good-bye!'

'You'll write when you get settled, Mr Pinch?' said Mrs Lupin.

'When I get settled!' cried Tom, with an involuntary opening of his
eyes. 'Oh, yes, I'll write when I get settled. Perhaps I had
better write before, because I may find that it takes a little time
to settle myself; not having too much money, and having only one
friend. I shall give your love to the friend, by the way. You were
always great with Mr Westlock, you know. Good-bye!'

'Good-bye!' said Mrs Lupin, hastily producing a basket with a long
bottle sticking out of it. 'Take this. Good-bye!'

'Do you want me to carry it to London for you?' cried Tom. She was
already turning the chaise-cart round.

'No, no,' said Mrs Lupin. 'It's only a little something for
refreshment on the road. Sit fast, Jack. Drive on, sir. All
right! Good-bye!'

She was a quarter of a mile off, before Tom collected himself; and
then he was waving his hand lustily; and so was she.

'And that's the last of the old finger-post,' thought Tom, straining
his eyes, 'where I have so often stood to see this very coach go by,
and where I have parted with so many companions! I used to compare
this coach to some great monster that appeared at certain times to
bear my friends away into the world. And now it's bearing me away,
to seek my fortune, Heaven knows where and how!'

It made Tom melancholy to picture himself walking up the lane and
back to Pecksniff's as of old; and being melancholy, he looked
downwards at the basket on his knee, which he had for the moment
forgotten.

'She is the kindest and most considerate creature in the world,'
thought Tom. 'Now I KNOW that she particularly told that man of
hers not to look at me, on purpose to prevent my throwing him a
shilling! I had it ready for him all the time, and he never once
looked towards me; whereas that man naturally, (for I know him very
well,) would have done nothing but grin and stare. Upon my word,
the kindness of people perfectly melts me.'

Here he caught the coachman's eye. The coachman winked.
'Remarkable fine woman for her time of life,' said the coachman.

'I quite agree with you,' returned Tom. 'So she is.'

'Finer than many a young 'un, I mean to say,' observed the coachman.
'Eh?'

'Than many a young one,' Tom assented.

'I don't care for 'em myself when they're too young,' remarked the
coachman.

This was a matter of taste, which Tom did not feel himself called
upon to discuss.

'You'll seldom find 'em possessing correct opinions about
refreshment, for instance, when they're too young, you know,' said
the coachman; 'a woman must have arrived at maturity, before her
mind's equal to coming provided with a basket like that.'

'Perhaps you would like to know what it contains?' said Tom,
smiling.

As the coachman only laughed, and as Tom was curious himself, he
unpacked it, and put the articles, one by one, upon the footboard.
A cold roast fowl, a packet of ham in slices, a crusty loaf, a piece
of cheese, a paper of biscuits, half a dozen apples, a knife, some
butter, a screw of salt, and a bottle of old sherry. There was a
letter besides, which Tom put in his pocket.

The coachman was so earnest in his approval of Mrs Lupin's provident
habits, and congratulated Torn so warmly on his good fortune, that
Tom felt it necessary, for the lady's sake, to explain that the
basket was a strictly Platonic basket, and had merely been presented
to him in the way of friendship. When he had made the statement
with perfect gravity; for he felt it incumbent on him to disabuse
the mind of this lax rover of any incorrect impressions on the
subject; he signified that he would be happy to share the gifts with
him, and proposed that they should attack the basket in a spirit of
good fellowship at any time in the course of the night which the
coachman's experience and knowledge of the road might suggest, as
being best adapted to the purpose. From this time they chatted so
pleasantly together, that although Tom knew infinitely more of
unicorns than horses, the coachman informed his friend the guard at
the end of the next stage, 'that rum as the box-seat looked, he was
as good a one to go, in pint of conversation, as ever he'd wish to
sit by.'

Yoho, among the gathering shades; making of no account the deep
reflections of the trees, but scampering on through light and
darkness, all the same, as if the light of London fifty miles away,
were quite enough to travel by, and some to spare. Yoho, beside the
village green, where cricket-players linger yet, and every little
indentation made in the fresh grass by bat or wicket, ball or
player's foot, sheds out its perfume on the night. Away with four
fresh horses from the Bald-faced Stag, where topers congregate about
the door admiring; and the last team with traces hanging loose, go
roaming off towards the pond, until observed and shouted after by a
dozen throats, while volunteering boys pursue them. Now, with a
clattering of hoofs and striking out of fiery sparks, across the old
stone bridge, and down again into the shadowy road, and through the
open gate, and far away, away, into the wold. Yoho!

Yoho, behind there, stop that bugle for a moment! Come creeping over
to the front, along the coach-roof, guard, and make one at this
basket! Not that we slacken in our pace the while, not we; we rather
put the bits of blood upon their metal, for the greater glory of the
snack. Ah! It is long since this bottle of old wine was brought
into contact with the mellow breath of night, you may depend, and
rare good stuff it is to wet a bugler's whistle with. Only try it.
Don't be afraid of turning up your finger, Bill, another pull! Now,
take your breath, and try the bugle, Bill. There's music! There's a
tone!' over the hills and far away,' indeed. Yoho! The skittish
mare is all alive to-night. Yoho! Yoho!

See the bright moon! High up before we know it; making the earth
reflect the objects on its breast like water. Hedges, trees, low
cottages, church steeples, blighted stumps and flourishing young
slips, have all grown vain upon the sudden, and mean to contemplate
their own fair images till morning. The poplars yonder rustle that
their quivering leaves may see themselves upon the ground. Not so
the oak; trembling does not become HIM; and he watches himself in
his stout old burly steadfastness, without the motion of a twig.
The moss-grown gate, ill-poised upon its creaking hinges, crippled
and decayed swings to and fro before its glass, like some fantastic
dowager; while our own ghostly likeness travels on, Yoho! Yoho!
through ditch and brake, upon the ploughed land and the smooth,
along the steep hillside and steeper wall, as if it were a phantom-
Hunter.

Clouds too! And a mist upon the Hollow! Not a dull fog that hides
it, but a light airy gauze-like mist, which in our eyes of modest
admiration gives a new charm to the beauties it is spread before; as
real gauze has done ere now, and would again, so please you, though
we were the Pope. Yoho! Why now we travel like the Moon herself.
Hiding this minute in a grove of trees; next minute in a patch of
vapour; emerging now upon our broad clear course; withdrawing now,
but always dashing on, our journey is a counter-part of hers. Yoho!
A match against the Moon!

The beauty of the night is hardly felt, when Day comes rushing up.
Yoho! Two stages, and the country roads are almost changed to a
continuous street. Yoho, past market-gardens, rows of houses,
villas, crescents, terraces, and squares; past waggons, coaches,
carts; past early workmen, late stragglers, drunken men, and sober
carriers of loads; past brick and mortar in its every shape; and in
among the rattling pavements, where a jaunty-seat upon a coach is
not so easy to preserve! Yoho, down countless turnings, and through
countless mazy ways, until an old Innyard is gained, and Tom Pinch,
getting down quite stunned and giddy, is in London!

'Five minutes before the time, too!' said the driver, as he received
his fee of Tom.

'Upon my word,' said Tom, 'I should not have minded very much, if we
had been five hours after it; for at this early hour I don't know
where to go, or what to do with myself.'

'Don't they expect you then?' inquired the driver.

'Who?' said Tom.

'Why them,' returned the driver.

His mind was so clearly running on the assumption of Tom's having
come to town to see an extensive circle of anxious relations and
friends, that it would have been pretty hard work to undeceive him.
Tom did not try. He cheerfully evaded the subject, and going into
the Inn, fell fast asleep before a fire in one of the public rooms
opening from the yard. When he awoke, the people in the house were
all astir, so he washed and dressed himself; to his great
refreshment after the journey; and, it being by that time eight
o'clock, went forth at once to see his old friend John.

John Westlock lived in Furnival's Inn, High Holborn, which was
within a quarter of an hour's walk of Tom's starting-point, but
seemed a long way off, by reason of his going two or three miles out
of the straight road to make a short cut. When at last he arrived
outside John's door, two stories up, he stood faltering with his
hand upon the knocker, and trembled from head to foot. For he was
rendered very nervous by the thought of having to relate what had
fallen out between himself and Pecksniff; and he had a misgiving
that John would exult fearfully in the disclosure.

'But it must be made,' thought Tom, 'sooner or later; and I had
better get it over.'

Rat tat.

'I am afraid that's not a London knock,' thought Tom. 'It didn't
sound bold. Perhaps that's the reason why nobody answers the door.'

It is quite certain that nobody came, and that Tom stood looking at
the knocker; wondering whereabouts in the neighbourhood a certain
gentleman resided, who was roaring out to somebody 'Come in!' with
all his might.

'Bless my soul!' thought Tom at last. 'Perhaps he lives here, and
is calling to me. I never thought of that. Can I open the door
from the outside, I wonder. Yes, to be sure I can.'

To be sure he could, by turning the handle; and to be sure when he
did turn it the same voice came rushing out, crying 'Why don't you
come in? Come in, do you hear? What are you standing there for?'--
quite violently.

Tom stepped from the little passage into the room from which these
sounds proceeded, and had barely caught a glimpse of a gentleman in
a dressing-gown and slippers (with his boots beside him ready to put
on), sitting at his breakfast with a newspaper in his hand, when the
said gentleman, at the imminent hazard of oversetting his tea-table,
made a plunge at Tom, and hugged him.

'Why, Tom, my boy!' cried the gentleman. 'Tom!'

'How glad I am to see you, Mr Westlock!' said Tom Pinch, shaking
both his hands, and trembling more than ever. 'How kind you are!'

'Mr Westlock!' repeated John, 'what do you mean by that, Pinch? You
have not forgotten my Christian name, I suppose?'

'No, John, no. I have not forgotten,' said Thomas Pinch. 'Good
gracious me, how kind you are!'

'I never saw such a fellow in all my life!' cried John. 'What do
you mean by saying THAT over and over again? What did you expect me
to be, I wonder! Here, sit down, Tom, and be a reasonable creature.
How are you, my boy? I am delighted to see you!'

'And I am delighted to see YOU,' said Tom.

'It's mutual, of course,' returned John. 'It always was, I hope.
If I had known you had been coming, Tom, I would have had something
for breakfast. I would rather have such a surprise than the best
breakfast in the world, myself; but yours is another case, and I
have no doubt you are as hungry as a hunter. You must make out as
well as you can, Tom, and we'll recompense ourselves at dinner-time.
You take sugar, I know; I recollect the sugar at Pecksniff's. Ha,
ha, ha! How IS Pecksniff? When did you come to town? DO begin at
something or other, Tom. There are only scraps here, but they are
not at all bad. Boar's Head potted. Try it, Tom. Make a beginning
whatever you do. What an old Blade you are! I am delighted to see
you.'

While he delivered himself of these words in a state of great
commotion, John was constantly running backwards and forwards to and
from the closet, bringing out all sorts of things in pots, scooping
extraordinary quantities of tea out of the caddy, dropping French
rolls into his boots, pouring hot water over the butter, and making
a variety of similar mistakes without disconcerting himself in the
least.

'There!' said John, sitting down for the fiftieth time, and
instantly starting up again to make some other addition to the
breakfast. 'Now we are as well off as we are likely to be till
dinner. And now let us have the news, Tom. Imprimis, how's
Pecksniff?'

'I don't know how he is,' was Tom's grave answer.

John Westlock put the teapot down, and looked at him, in
astonishment.

'I don't know how he is,' said Thomas Pinch; 'and, saving that I
wish him no ill, I don't care. I have left him, John. I have left
him for ever.'

'Voluntarily?'

'Why, no, for he dismissed me. But I had first found out that I was
mistaken in him; and I could not have remained with him under any
circumstances. I grieve to say that you were right in your estimate
of his character. It may be a ridiculous weakness, John, but it has
been very painful and bitter to me to find this out, I do assure
you.'

Tom had no need to direct that appealing look towards his friend, in
mild and gentle deprecation of his answering with a laugh. John
Westlock would as soon have thought of striking him down upon the
floor.

'It was all a dream of mine,' said Tom, 'and it is over. I'll tell
you how it happened, at some other time. Bear with my folly, John.
I do not, just now, like to think or speak about it.'

'I swear to you, Tom,' returned his friend, with great earnestness
of manner, after remaining silent for a few moments, 'that when I
see, as I do now, how deeply you feel this, I don't know whether to
be glad or sorry that you have made the discovery at last. I
reproach myself with the thought that I ever jested on the subject;
I ought to have known better.'

'My dear friend,' said Tom, extending his hand, 'it is very generous
and gallant in you to receive me and my disclosure in this spirit;
it makes me blush to think that I should have felt a moment's
uneasiness as I came along. You can't think what a weight is lifted
off my mind,' said Tom, taking up his knife and fork again, and
looking very cheerful. 'I shall punish the Boar's Head dreadfully.'

The host, thus reminded of his duties, instantly betook himself to
piling up all kinds of irreconcilable and contradictory viands in
Tom's plate, and a very capital breakfast Tom made, and very much
the better for it Tom felt.

'That's all right,' said John, after contemplating his visitor's
proceedings with infinite satisfaction. 'Now, about our plans. You
are going to stay with me, of course. Where's your box?'

'It's at the Inn,' said Tom. 'I didn't intend--'

'Never mind what you didn't intend,' John Westlock interposed.
'What you DID intend is more to the purpose. You intended, in
coming here, to ask my advice, did you not, Tom?'

'Certainly.'

'And to take it when I gave it to you?'

'Yes,' rejoined Tom, smiling, 'if it were good advice, which, being
yours, I have no doubt it will be.'

'Very well. Then don't be an obstinate old humbug in the outset,
Tom, or I shall shut up shop and dispense none of that invaluable
commodity. You are on a visit to me. I wish I had an organ for
you, Tom!'

'So do the gentlemen downstairs, and the gentlemen overhead I have
no doubt,' was Tom's reply.

'Let me see. In the first place, you will wish to see your sister
this morning,' pursued his friend, 'and of course you will like to
go there alone. I'll walk part of the way with you; and see about a
little business of my own, and meet you here again in the afternoon.
Put that in your pocket, Tom. It's only the key of the door. If
you come home first you'll want it.'

'Really,' said Tom, 'quartering one's self upon a friend in this
way--'

'Why, there are two keys,' interposed John Westlock. 'I can't open
the door with them both at once, can I? What a ridiculous fellow
you are, Tom? Nothing particular you'd like for dinner, is there?'

'Oh dear no,' said Tom.

'Very well, then you may as well leave it to me. Have a glass of
cherry brandy, Tom?'

'Not a drop! What remarkable chambers these are!' said Pinch
'there's everything in 'em!'

'Bless your soul, Tom, nothing but a few little bachelor
contrivances! the sort of impromptu arrangements that might have
suggested themselves to Philip Quarll or Robinson Crusoe, that's
all. What do you say? Shall we walk?'

'By all means,' cried Tom. 'As soon as you like.'

Accordingly John Westlock took the French rolls out of his boots,
and put his boots on, and dressed himself; giving Tom the paper to
read in the meanwhile. When he returned, equipped for walking, he
found Tom in a brown study, with the paper in his hand.

'Dreaming, Tom?'

'No,' said Mr Pinch, 'No. I have been looking over the advertising
sheet, thinking there might be something in it which would be likely
to suit me. But, as I often think, the strange thing seems to be
that nobody is suited. Here are all kinds of employers wanting all
sorts of servants, and all sorts of servants wanting all kinds of
employers, and they never seem to come together. Here is a
gentleman in a public office in a position of temporary difficulty,
who wants to borrow five hundred pounds; and in the very next
advertisement here is another gentleman who has got exactly that sum
to lend. But he'll never lend it to him, John, you'll find! Here is
a lady possessing a moderate independence, who wants to board and
lodge with a quiet, cheerful family; and here is a family describing
themselves in those very words, "a quiet, cheerful family," who want
exactly such a lady to come and live with them. But she'll never
go, John! Neither do any of these single gentlemen who want an airy
bedroom, with the occasional use of a parlour, ever appear to come
to terms with these other people who live in a rural situation
remarkable for its bracing atmosphere, within five minutes' walk of
the Royal Exchange. Even those letters of the alphabet who are
always running away from their friends and being entreated at the
tops of columns to come back, never DO come back, if we may judge
from the number of times they are asked to do it and don't. It
really seems,' said Tom, relinquishing the paper with a thoughtful
sigh, 'as if people had the same gratification in printing their
complaints as in making them known by word of mouth; as if they
found it a comfort and consolation to proclaim "I want such and such
a thing, and I can't get it, and I don't expect I ever shall!"'

John Westlock laughed at the idea, and they went out together. So
many years had passed since Tom was last in London, and he had known
so little of it then, that his interest in all he saw was very
great. He was particularly anxious, among other notorious
localities, to have those streets pointed out to him which were
appropriated to the slaughter of countrymen; and was quite
disappointed to find, after half-an-hour's walking, that he hadn't
had his pocket picked. But on John Westlock's inventing a
pickpocket for his gratification, and pointing out a highly
respectable stranger as one of that fraternity, he was much
delighted.

His friend accompanied him to within a short distance of Camberwell
and having put him beyond the possibility of mistaking the wealthy
brass-and-copper founder's, left him to make his visit. Arriving
before the great bell-handle, Tom gave it a gentle pull. The porter
appeared.

'Pray does Miss Pinch live here?' said Tom.

'Miss Pinch is governess here,' replied the porter.

At the same time he looked at Tom from head to foot, as if he would
have said, 'You are a nice man, YOU are; where did YOU come from?'

'It's the same young lady,' said Tom. 'It's quite right. Is she at
home?'

'I don't know, I'm sure,' rejoined the porter.

'Do you think you could have the goodness to ascertain?' said Tom.
He had quite a delicacy in offering the suggestion, for the
possibility of such a step did not appear to present itself to the
porter's mind at all.

The fact was that the porter in answering the gate-bell had,
according to usage, rung the house-bell (for it is as well to do
these things in the Baronial style while you are about it), and that
there the functions of his office had ceased. Being hired to open
and shut the gate, and not to explain himself to strangers, he left
this little incident to be developed by the footman with the tags,
who, at this juncture, called out from the door steps:

'Hollo, there! wot are you up to? This way, young man!'

'Oh!' said Tom, hurrying towards him. 'I didn't observe that there
was anybody else. Pray is Miss Pinch at home?'

'She's IN,' replied the footman. As much as to say to Tom: 'But if
you think she has anything to do with the proprietorship of this
place you had better abandon that idea.'

'I wish to see her, if you please,' said Tom.

The footman, being a lively young man, happened to have his
attention caught at that moment by the flight of a pigeon, in which
he took so warm an interest that his gaze was rivetted on the bird
until it was quite out of sight. He then invited Tom to come in,
and showed him into a parlour.

'Hany neem?' said the young man, pausing languidly at the door.

It was a good thought; because without providing the stranger, in
case he should happen to be of a warm temper, with a sufficient
excuse for knocking him down, it implied this young man's estimate
of his quality, and relieved his breast of the oppressive burden of
rating him in secret as a nameless and obscure individual.

'Say her brother, if you please,' said Tom.

'Mother?' drawled the footman.

'Brother,' repeated Tom, slightly raising his voice. 'And if you
will say, in the first instance, a gentleman, and then say her
brother, I shall be obliged to you, as she does not expect me or
know I am in London, and I do not wish to startle her.'

The young man's interest in Tom's observations had ceased long
before this time, but he kindly waited until now; when, shutting the
door, he withdrew.

'Dear me!' said Tom. 'This is very disrespectful and uncivil
behaviour. I hope these are new servants here, and that Ruth is
very differently treated.'

His cogitations were interrupted by the sound of voices in the
adjoining room. They seemed to be engaged in high dispute, or in
indignant reprimand of some offender; and gathering strength
occasionally, broke out into a perfect whirlwind. It was in one of
these gusts, as it appeared to Tom, that the footman announced him;
for an abrupt and unnatural calm took place, and then a dead
silence. He was standing before the window, wondering what domestic
quarrel might have caused these sounds, and hoping Ruth had nothing
to do with it, when the door opened, and his sister ran into his
arms.

'Why, bless my soul!' said Tom, looking at her with great pride,
when they had tenderly embraced each other, 'how altered you are
Ruth! I should scarcely have known you, my love, if I had seen you
anywhere else, I declare! You are so improved,' said Tom, with
inexpressible delight; 'you are so womanly; you are so--positively,
you know, you are so handsome!'

'If YOU think so Tom--'

'Oh, but everybody must think so, you know,' said Tom, gently
smoothing down her hair. 'It's matter of fact; not opinion. But
what's the matter?' said Tom, looking at her more intently, 'how
flushed you are! and you have been crying.'

'No, I have not, Tom.'

'Nonsense,' said her brother stoutly. 'That's a story. Don't tell
me! I know better. What is it, dear? I'm not with Mr Pecksniff
now. I am going to try and settle myself in London; and if you are
not happy here (as I very much fear you are not, for I begin to
think you have been deceiving me with the kindest and most
affectionate intention) you shall not remain here.'

Oh! Tom's blood was rising; mind that! Perhaps the Boar's Head had
something to do with it, but certainly the footman had. So had the
sight of his pretty sister--a great deal to do with it. Tom could
bear a good deal himself, but he was proud of her, and pride is a
sensitive thing. He began to think, 'there are more Pecksniffs than
one, perhaps,' and by all the pins and needles that run up and down
in angry veins, Tom was in a most unusual tingle all at once!

'We will talk about it, Tom,' said Ruth, giving him another kiss to
pacify him. 'I am afraid I cannot stay here.'

'Cannot!' replied Tom. 'Why then, you shall not, my love. Heyday!
You are not an object of charity! Upon my word!'

Tom was stopped in these exclamations by the footman, who brought a
message from his master, importing that he wished to speak with him
before he went, and with Miss Pinch also.

'Show the way,' said Tom. 'I'll wait upon him at once.'

Accordingly they entered the adjoining room from which the noise of
altercation had proceeded; and there they found a middle-aged
gentleman, with a pompous voice and manner, and a middle-aged lady,
with what may be termed an excisable face, or one in which starch
and vinegar were decidedly employed. There was likewise present
that eldest pupil of Miss Pinch, whom Mrs Todgers, on a previous
occasion, had called a syrup, and who was now weeping and sobbing
spitefully.

'My brother, sir,' said Ruth Pinch, timidly presenting Tom.

'Oh!' cried the gentleman, surveying Tom attentively. 'You really
are Miss Pinch's brother, I presume? You will excuse my asking. I
don't observe any resemblance.'

'Miss Pinch has a brother, I know,' observed the lady.

'Miss Pinch is always talking about her brother, when she ought to
be engaged upon my education,' sobbed the pupil.

'Sophia! Hold your tongue!' observed the gentleman. 'Sit down, if
you please,' addressing Tom.

Tom sat down, looking from one face to another, in mute surprise.

'Remain here, if you please, Miss Pinch,' pursued the gentleman,
looking slightly over his shoulder.

Tom interrupted him here, by rising to place a chair for his sister.
Having done which he sat down again.

'I am glad you chance to have called to see your sister to-day,
sir,' resumed the brass-and-copper founder. 'For although I do not
approve, as a principle, of any young person engaged in my family in
the capacity of a governess, receiving visitors, it happens in this
case to be well timed. I am sorry to inform you that we are not at
all satisfied with your sister.'

'We are very much DISsatisfied with her,' observed the lady.

'I'd never say another lesson to Miss Pinch if I was to be beat to
death for it!' sobbed the pupil.

'Sophia!' cried her father. 'Hold your tongue!'

'Will you allow me to inquire what your ground of dissatisfaction
is?' asked Tom.

'Yes,' said the gentleman, 'I will. I don't recognize it as a
right; but I will. Your sister has not the slightest innate power
of commanding respect. It has been a constant source of difference
between us. Although she has been in this family for some time, and
although the young lady who is now present has almost, as it were,
grown up under her tuition, that young lady has no respect for her.
Miss Pinch has been perfectly unable to command my daughter's
respect, or to win my daughter's confidence. Now,' said the
gentleman, allowing the palm of his hand to fall gravely down upon
the table: 'I maintain that there is something radically wrong in
that! You, as her brother, may be disposed to deny it--'

'I beg your pardon, sir,' said Tom. 'I am not at all disposed to
deny it. I am sure that there is something radically wrong;
radically monstrous, in that.'

'Good Heavens!' cried the gentleman, looking round the room with
dignity, 'what do I find to be the case! what results obtrude
themselves upon me as flowing from this weakness of character on the
part of Miss Pinch! What are my feelings as a father, when, after my
desire (repeatedly expressed to Miss Pinch, as I think she will not
venture to deny) that my daughter should be choice in her
expressions, genteel in her deportment, as becomes her station in
life, and politely distant to her inferiors in society, I find her,
only this very morning, addressing Miss Pinch herself as a beggar!'

'A beggarly thing,' observed the lady, in correction.

'Which is worse,' said the gentleman, triumphantly; 'which is worse.
A beggarly thing. A low, coarse, despicable expression!'

'Most despicable,' cried Tom. 'I am glad to find that there is a
just appreciation of it here.'

'So just, sir,' said the gentleman, lowering his voice to be the
more impressive. 'So just, that, but for my knowing Miss Pinch to
be an unprotected young person, an orphan, and without friends, I
would, as I assured Miss Pinch, upon my veracity and personal
character, a few minutes ago, I would have severed the connection
between us at that moment and from that time.'

'Bless my soul, sir!' cried Tom, rising from his seat; for he was
now unable to contain himself any longer; 'don't allow such
considerations as those to influence you, pray. They don't exist,
sir. She is not unprotected. She is ready to depart this instant.
Ruth, my dear, get your bonnet on!'

'Oh, a pretty family!' cried the lady. 'Oh, he's her brother!
There's no doubt about that!'

'As little doubt, madam,' said Tom, 'as that the young lady yonder
is the child of your teaching, and not my sister's. Ruth, my dear,
get your bonnet on!'

'When you say, young man,' interposed the brass-and-copper founder,
haughtily, 'with that impertinence which is natural to you, and
which I therefore do not condescend to notice further, that the
young lady, my eldest daughter, has been educated by any one but
Miss Pinch, you--I needn't proceed. You comprehend me fully. I
have no doubt you are used to it.'

'Sir!' cried Tom, after regarding him in silence for some little
time. 'If you do not understand what I mean, I will tell you. If
you do understand what I mean, I beg you not to repeat that mode of
expressing yourself in answer to it. My meaning is, that no man can
expect his children to respect what he degrades.'

'Ha, ha, ha!' laughed the gentleman. 'Cant! cant! The common cant!'

'The common story, sir!' said Tom; 'the story of a common mind.
Your governess cannot win the confidence and respect of your
children, forsooth! Let her begin by winning yours, and see what
happens then.'

'Miss Pinch is getting her bonnet on, I trust, my dear?' said the
gentleman.

'I trust she is,' said Tom, forestalling the reply. 'I have no
doubt she is. In the meantime I address myself to you, sir. You
made your statement to me, sir; you required to see me for that
purpose; and I have a right to answer it. I am not loud or
turbulent,' said Tom, which was quite true, 'though I can scarcely
say as much for you, in your manner of addressing yourself to me.
And I wish, on my sister's behalf, to state the simple truth.'

'You may state anything you like, young man,' returned the
gentleman, affecting to yawn. 'My dear, Miss Pinch's money.'

'When you tell me,' resumed Tom, who was not the less indignant for
keeping himself quiet, 'that my sister has no innate power of
commanding the respect of your children, I must tell you it is not
so; and that she has. She is as well bred, as well taught, as well
qualified by nature to command respect, as any hirer of a governess
you know. But when you place her at a disadvantage in reference to
every servant in your house, how can you suppose, if you have the
gift of common sense, that she is not in a tenfold worse position in
reference to your daughters?'

'Pretty well! Upon my word,' exclaimed the gentleman, 'this is
pretty well!'

'It is very ill, sir,' said Tom. 'It is very bad and mean, and
wrong and cruel. Respect! I believe young people are quick enough
to observe and imitate; and why or how should they respect whom no
one else respects, and everybody slights? And very partial they
must grow--oh, very partial!--to their studies, when they see to
what a pass proficiency in those same tasks has brought their
governess! Respect! Put anything the most deserving of respect
before your daughters in the light in which you place her, and you
will bring it down as low, no matter what it is!'

'You speak with extreme impertinence, young man,' observed the
gentleman.

'I speak without passion, but with extreme indignation and contempt
for such a course of treatment, and for all who practice it,' said
Tom. 'Why, how can you, as an honest gentleman, profess displeasure
or surprise at your daughter telling my sister she is something
beggarly and humble, when you are for ever telling her the same
thing yourself in fifty plain, outspeaking ways, though not in
words; and when your very porter and footman make the same delicate
announcement to all comers? As to your suspicion and distrust of
her; even of her word; if she is not above their reach, you have no
right to employ her.'

'No right!' cried the brass-and-copper founder.

'Distinctly not,' Tom answered. 'If you imagine that the payment of
an annual sum of money gives it to you, you immensely exaggerate its
power and value. Your money is the least part of your bargain in
such a case. You may be punctual in that to half a second on the
clock, and yet be Bankrupt. I have nothing more to say,' said Tom,
much flushed and flustered, now that it was over, 'except to crave
permission to stand in your garden until my sister is ready.'

Not waiting to obtain it, Tom walked out.

Before he had well begun to cool, his sister joined him. She was
crying; and Tom could not bear that any one about the house should
see her doing that.

'They will think you are sorry to go,' said Tom. 'You are not sorry
to go?'

'No, Tom, no. I have been anxious to go for a very long time.'

'Very well, then! Don't cry!' said Tom.

'I am so sorry for YOU, dear,' sobbed Tom's sister.

'But you ought to be glad on my account,' said Tom. 'I shall be
twice as happy with you for a companion. Hold up your head. There!
Now we go out as we ought. Not blustering, you know, but firm and
confident in ourselves.'

The idea of Tom and his sister blustering, under any circumstances,
was a splendid absurdity. But Tom was very far from feeling it to
be so, in his excitement; and passed out at the gate with such
severe determination written in his face that the porter hardly knew
him again.

It was not until they had walked some short distance, and Tom found
himself getting cooler and more collected, that he was quite
restored to himself by an inquiry from his sister, who said in her
pleasant little voice:

'Where are we going, Tom?'

'Dear me!' said Tom, stopping, 'I don't know.'

'Don't you--don't you live anywhere, dear?' asked Tom's sister
looking wistfully in his face.

'No,' said Tom. 'Not at present. Not exactly. I only arrived this
morning. We must have some lodgings.'

He didn't tell her that he had been going to stay with his friend
John, and could on no account think of billeting two inmates upon
him, of whom one was a young lady; for he knew that would make her
uncomfortable, and would cause her to regard herself as being an
inconvenience to him. Neither did he like to leave her anywhere
while he called on John, and told him of this change in his
arrangements; for he was delicate of seeming to encroach upon the
generous and hospitable nature of his friend. Therefore he said
again, 'We must have some lodgings, of course;' and said it as
stoutly as if he had been a perfect Directory and Guide-Book to all
the lodgings in London.

'Where shall we go and look for 'em?' said Tom. 'What do you
think?'

Tom's sister was not much wiser on such a topic than he was. So she
squeezed her little purse into his coat-pocket, and folding the
little hand with which she did so on the other little hand with
which she clasped his arm, said nothing.

'It ought to be a cheap neighbourhood,' said Tom, 'and not too far
from London. Let me see. Should you think Islington a good place?'

'I should think it was an excellent place, Tom.'

'It used to be called Merry Islington, once upon a time,' said Tom.
'Perhaps it's merry now; if so, it's all the better. Eh?'

'If it's not too dear,' said Tom's sister.

'Of course, if it's not too dear,' assented Tom. 'Well, where IS
Islington? We can't do better than go there, I should think. Let's
go.'

Tom's sister would have gone anywhere with him; so they walked off,
arm in arm, as comfortably as possible. Finding, presently, that
Islington was not in that neighbourhood, Tom made inquiries
respecting a public conveyance thither; which they soon obtained.
As they rode along they were very full of conversation indeed, Tom
relating what had happened to him, and Tom's sister relating what
had happened to her, and both finding a great deal more to say than
time to say it in; for they had only just begun to talk, in
comparison with what they had to tell each other, when they reached
their journey's end.

'Now,' said Tom, 'we must first look out for some very unpretending
streets, and then look out for bills in the windows.'

So they walked off again, quite as happily as if they had just
stepped out of a snug little house of their own, to look for
lodgings on account of somebody else. Tom's simplicity was
unabated, Heaven knows; but now that he had somebody to rely upon
him, he was stimulated to rely a little more upon himself, and was,
in his own opinion, quite a desperate fellow.

After roaming up and down for hours, looking at some scores of
lodgings, they began to find it rather fatiguing, especially as they
saw none which were at all adapted to their purpose. At length,
however, in a singular little old-fashioned house, up a blind
street, they discovered two small bedrooms and a triangular parlour,
which promised to suit them well enough. Their desiring to take
possession immediately was a suspicious circumstance, but even this
was surmounted by the payment of their first week's rent, and a
reference to John Westlock, Esquire, Furnival's Inn, High Holborn.

Ah! It was a goodly sight, when this important point was settled, to
behold Tom and his sister trotting round to the baker's, and the
butcher's, and the grocer's, with a kind of dreadful delight in the
unaccustomed cares of housekeeping; taking secret counsel together
as they gave their small orders, and distracted by the least
suggestion on the part of the shopkeeper! When they got back to the
triangular parlour, and Tom's sister, bustling to and fro, busy
about a thousand pleasant nothings, stopped every now and then to
give old Tom a kiss or smile upon him, Tom rubbed his hands as if
all Islington were his.

It was late in the afternoon now, though, and high time for Tom to
keep his appointment. So, after agreeing with his sister that in
consideration of not having dined, they would venture on the
extravagance of chops for supper at nine, he walked out again to
narrate these marvellous occurrences to John.

'I am quite a family man all at once,' thought Tom. 'If I can only
get something to do, how comfortable Ruth and I may be! Ah, that if!
But it's of no use to despond. I can but do that, when I have tried
everything and failed; and even then it won't serve me much. Upon
my word,' thought Tom, quickening his pace, 'I don't know what John
will think has become of me. He'll begin to be afraid I have
strayed into one of those streets where the countrymen are murdered;
and that I have been made meat pies of, or some such horrible
thing.'

CHAPTER THIRTY-SEVEN

TOM PINCH, GOING ASTRAY, FINDS THAT HE IS NOT THE ONLY PERSON IN
THAT PREDICAMENT. HE RETALIATES UPON A FALLEN FOE

Tom's evil genius did not lead him into the dens of any of those
preparers of cannibalic pastry, who are represented in many standard
country legends as doing a lively retail business in the Metropolis;
nor did it mark him out as the prey of ring-droppers, pea and
thimble-riggers, duffers, touters, or any of those bloodless
sharpers, who are, perhaps, a little better known to the Police. He
fell into conversation with no gentleman who took him into a public-
house, where there happened to be another gentleman who swore he had
more money than any gentleman, and very soon proved he had more
money than one gentleman by taking his away from him; neither did he
fall into any other of the numerous man-traps which are set up
without notice, in the public grounds of this city. But he lost his
way. He very soon did that; and in trying to find it again he lost
it more and more.

Now, Tom, in his guileless distrust of London, thought himself very
knowing in coming to the determination that he would not ask to be
directed to Furnival's Inn, if he could help it; unless, indeed, he
should happen to find himself near the Mint, or the Bank of England;
in which case he would step in, and ask a civil question or two,
confiding in the perfect respectability of the concern. So on he
went, looking up all the streets he came near, and going up half of
them; and thus, by dint of not being true to Goswell Street, and
filing off into Aldermanbury, and bewildering himself in Barbican,
and being constant to the wrong point of the compass in London Wall,
and then getting himself crosswise into Thames Street, by an
instinct that would have been marvellous if he had had the least
desire or reason to go there, he found himself, at last, hard by the
Monument.

The Man in the Monument was quite as mysterious a being to Tom as
the Man in the Moon. It immediately occurred to him that the lonely
creature who held himself aloof from all mankind in that pillar like
some old hermit was the very man of whom to ask his way. Cold, he
might be; little sympathy he had, perhaps, with human passion--the
column seemed too tall for that; but if Truth didn't live in the
base of the Monument, notwithstanding Pope's couplet about the
outside of it, where in London (thought Tom) was she likely to be
found!

Coming close below the pillar, it was a great encouragement to Tom
to find that the Man in the Monument had simple tastes; that stony
and artificial as his residence was, he still preserved some rustic
recollections; that he liked plants, hung up bird-cages, was not
wholly cut off from fresh groundsel, and kept young trees in tubs.
The Man in the Monument, himself, was sitting outside the door--his
own door: the Monument-door: what a grand idea!--and was actually
yawning, as if there were no Monument to stop his mouth, and give
him a perpetual interest in his own existence.

Tom was advancing towards this remarkable creature, to inquire the
way to Furnival's Inn, when two people came to see the Monument.
They were a gentleman and a lady; and the gentleman said, 'How much
a-piece?'

The Man in the Monument replied, 'A Tanner.'

It seemed a low expression, compared with the Monument.

The gentleman put a shilling into his hand, and the Man in the
Monument opened a dark little door. When the gentleman and lady had
passed out of view, he shut it again, and came slowly back to his
chair.

He sat down and laughed.

'They don't know what a many steps there is!' he said. 'It's worth
twice the money to stop here. Oh, my eye!'

The Man in the Monument was a Cynic; a worldly man! Tom couldn't ask
his way of HIM. He was prepared to put no confidence in anything he
said.

'My gracious!' cried a well-known voice behind Mr Pinch. 'Why, to
be sure it is!'

At the same time he was poked in the back by a parasol. Turning
round to inquire into this salute, he beheld the eldest daughter of
his late patron.

'Miss Pecksniff!' said Tom.

'Why, my goodness, Mr Pinch!' cried Cherry. 'What are you doing
here?'

'I have rather wandered from my way,' said Tom. 'I--'

'I hope you have run away,' said Charity. 'It would be quite
spirited and proper if you had, when my Papa so far forgets
himself.'

'I have left him,' returned Tom. 'But it was perfectly understood
on both sides. It was not done clandestinely.'

'Is he married?' asked Cherry, with a spasmodic shake of her chin.

'No, not yet,' said Tom, colouring; 'to tell you the truth, I don't
think he is likely to be, if--if Miss Graham is the object of his
passion.'

'Tcha, Mr Pinch!' cried Charity, with sharp impatience, 'you're very
easily deceived. You don't know the arts of which such a creature
is capable. Oh! it's a wicked world.'

'You are not married?' Tom hinted, to divert the conversation.

'N--no!' said Cherry, tracing out one particular paving-stone in
Monument Yard with the end of her parasol. 'I--but really it's
quite impossible to explain. Won't you walk in?'

'You live here, then?' said Tom

'Yes,' returned Miss Pecksniff, pointing with her parasol to
Todgers's; 'I reside with this lady, AT PRESENT.'

The great stress on the two last words suggested to Tom that he was
expected to say something in reference to them. So he said.

'Only at present! Are you going home again soon?'

'No, Mr Pinch,' returned Charity. 'No, thank you. No! A mother-in-
law who is younger than--I mean to say, who is as nearly as possible
about the same age as one's self, would not quite suit my spirit.
Not quite!' said Cherry, with a spiteful shiver.

'I thought from your saying "at present"'--Tom observed.

'Really, upon my word! I had no idea you would press me so very
closely on the subject, Mr Pinch,' said Charity, blushing, 'or I
should not have been so foolish as to allude to--oh really!--won't
you walk in?'

Tom mentioned, to excuse himself, that he had an appointment in
Furnival's Inn, and that coming from Islington he had taken a few
wrong turnings, and arrived at the Monument instead. Miss Pecksniff
simpered very much when he asked her if she knew the way to
Furnival's Inn, and at length found courage to reply.

'A gentleman who is a friend of mine, or at least who is not exactly
a friend so much as a sort of acquaintance--Oh upon my word, I
hardly know what I say, Mr Pinch; you mustn't suppose there is any
engagement between us; or at least if there is, that it is at all a
settled thing as yet--is going to Furnival's Inn immediately, I
believe upon a little business, and I am sure he would be very glad
to accompany you, so as to prevent your going wrong again. You had
better walk in. You will very likely find my sister Merry here,'
she said with a curious toss of her head, and anything but an
agreeable smile.

'Then, I think, I'll endeavour to find my way alone,' said Tom, 'for
I fear she would not be very glad to see me. That unfortunate
occurrence, in relation to which you and I had some amicable words
together, in private, is not likely to have impressed her with any
friendly feeling towards me. Though it really was not my fault.'

'She has never heard of that, you may depend,' said Cherry,
gathering up the corners of her mouth, and nodding at Tom. 'I am
far from sure that she would bear you any mighty ill will for it, if
she had.'

'You don't say so?' cried Tom, who was really concerned by this
insinuation.

'I say nothing,' said Charity. 'If I had not already known what
shocking things treachery and deceit are in themselves, Mr Pinch, I
might perhaps have learnt it from the success they meet with--from
the success they meet with.' Here she smiled as before. 'But I
don't say anything. On the contrary, I should scorn it. You had
better walk in!'

There was something hidden here, which piqued Tom's interest and
troubled his tender heart. When, in a moment's irresolution, he
looked at Charity, he could not but observe a struggle in her face
between a sense of triumph and a sense of shame; nor could he but
remark how, meeting even his eyes, which she cared so little for,
she turned away her own, for all the splenetic defiance in her
manner.

An uneasy thought entered Tom's head; a shadowy misgiving that the
altered relations between himself and Pecksniff were somehow to
involve an altered knowledge on his part of other people, and were
to give him an insight into much of which he had had no previous
suspicion. And yet he put no definite construction upon Charity's
proceedings. He certainly had no idea that as he had been the
audience and spectator of her mortification, she grasped with eager
delight at any opportunity of reproaching her sister with his
presence in HER far deeper misery; for he knew nothing of it, and
only pictured that sister as the same giddy, careless, trivial
creature she always had been, with the same slight estimation of
himself which she had never been at the least pains to conceal. In
short, he had merely a confused impression that Miss Pecksniff was
not quite sisterly or kind; and being curious to set it right,
accompanied her as she desired.

The house-door being opened, she went in before Tom, requesting him
to follow her; and led the way to the parlour door.

'Oh, Merry!' she said, looking in, 'I am so glad you have not gone
home. Who do you think I have met in the street, and brought to see
you! Mr Pinch! There. Now you ARE surprised, I am sure!'

Not more surprised than Tom was, when he looked upon her. Not so
much. Not half so much.

'Mr Pinch has left Papa, my dear,' said Cherry, 'and his prospects
are quite flourishing. I have promised that Augustus, who is going
that way, shall escort him to the place he wants. Augustus, my
child, where are you?'

With these words Miss Pecksniff screamed her way out of the parlour,
calling on Augustus Moddle to appear; and left Tom Pinch alone with
her sister.

If she had always been his kindest friend; if she had treated him
through all his servitude with such consideration as was never yet
received by struggling man; if she had lightened every moment of
those many years, and had ever spared and never wounded him; his
honest heart could not have swelled before her with a deeper pity,
or a purer freedom from all base remembrance than it did then.

'My gracious me! You are really the last person in the world I
should have thought of seeing, I am sure!'

Tom was sorry to hear her speaking in her old manner. He had not
expected that. Yet he did not feel it a contradiction that he
should be sorry to see her so unlike her old self, and sorry at the
same time to hear her speaking in her old manner. The two things
seemed quite natural.

'I wonder you find any gratification in coming to see me. I can't
think what put it in your head. I never had much in seeing you.
There was no love lost between us, Mr Pinch, at any time, I think.'

Her bonnet lay beside her on the sofa, and she was very busy with
the ribbons as she spoke. Much too busy to be conscious of the work
her fingers did.

'We never quarrelled,' said Tom.--Tom was right in that, for one
person can no more quarrel without an adversary, than one person can
play at chess, or fight a duel. 'I hoped you would be glad to shake
hands with an old friend. Don't let us rake up bygones,' said Tom.
'If I ever offended you, forgive me.'

She looked at him for a moment; dropped her bonnet from her hands;
spread them before her altered face, and burst into tears.

'Oh, Mr Pinch!' she said, 'although I never used you well, I did
believe your nature was forgiving. I did not think you could be
cruel.'

She spoke as little like her old self now, for certain, as Tom could
possibly have wished. But she seemed to be appealing to him
reproachfully, and he did not understand her.

'I seldom showed it--never--I know that. But I had that belief in
you, that if I had been asked to name the person in the world least
likely to retort upon me, I would have named you, confidently.'

'Would have named me!' Tom repeated.

'Yes,' she said with energy, 'and I have often thought so.'

After a moment's reflection, Tom sat himself upon a chair beside
her.

'Do you believe,' said Tom, 'oh, can you think, that what I said
just now, I said with any but the true and plain intention which my
words professed? I mean it, in the spirit and the letter. If I
ever offended you, forgive me; I may have done so, many times. You
never injured or offended me. How, then, could I possibly retort,
if even I were stern and bad enough to wish to do it!'

After a little while she thanked him, through her tears and sobs,
and told him she had never been at once so sorry and so comforted,
since she left home. Still she wept bitterly; and it was the
greater pain to Tom to see her weeping, from her standing in
especial need, just then, of sympathy and tenderness.

'Come, come!' said Tom, 'you used to be as cheerful as the day was
long.'

'Ah! used!' she cried, in such a tone as rent Tom's heart.

'And will be again,' said Tom.

'No, never more. No, never, never more. If you should talk with
old Mr Chuzzlewit, at any time,' she added, looking hurriedly into
his face--'I sometimes thought he liked you, but suppressed it--will
you promise me to tell him that you saw me here, and that I said I
bore in mind the time we talked together in the churchyard?'

Tom promised that he would.

'Many times since then, when I have wished I had been carried there
before that day, I have recalled his words. I wish that he should
know how true they were, although the least acknowledgment to that
effect has never passed my lips and never will.'

Tom promised this, conditionally too. He did not tell her how
improbable it was that he and the old man would ever meet again,
because he thought it might disturb her more.

'If he should ever know this, through your means, dear Mr Pinch,'
said Mercy, 'tell him that I sent the message, not for myself, but
that he might be more forbearing and more patient, and more trustful
to some other person, in some other time of need. Tell him that if
he could know how my heart trembled in the balance that day, and
what a very little would have turned the scale, his own would bleed
with pity for me.'

'Yes, yes,' said Tom, 'I will.'

'When I appeared to him the most unworthy of his help, I was--I know
I was, for I have often, often, thought about it since--the most
inclined to yield to what he showed me. Oh! if he had relented but
a little more; if he had thrown himself in my way for but one other
quarter of an hour; if he had extended his compassion for a vain,
unthinking, miserable girl, in but the least degree; he might, and I
believe he would, have saved her! Tell him that I don't blame him,
but am grateful for the effort that he made; but ask him for the
love of God, and youth, and in merciful consideration for the
struggle which an ill-advised and unwakened nature makes to hide the
strength it thinks its weakness--ask him never, never, to forget
this, when he deals with one again!'

Although Tom did not hold the clue to her full meaning, he could
guess it pretty nearly. Touched to the quick, he took her hand and
said, or meant to say, some words of consolation. She felt and
understood them, whether they were spoken or no. He was not quite
certain, afterwards, but that she had tried to kneel down at his
feet, and bless him.

He found that he was not alone in the room when she had left it.
Mrs Todgers was there, shaking her head. Tom had never seen Mrs
Todgers, it is needless to say, but he had a perception of her being
the lady of the house; and he saw some genuine compassion in her
eyes, that won his good opinion.

'Ah, sir! You are an old friend, I see,' said Mrs Todgers.

'Yes,' said Tom.

'And yet,' quoth Mrs Todgers, shutting the door softly, 'she hasn't
told you what her troubles are, I'm certain.'

Tom was struck by these words, for they were quite true. 'Indeed,'
he said, 'she has not.'

'And never would,' said Mrs Todgers, 'if you saw her daily. She
never makes the least complaint to me, or utters a single word of
explanation or reproach. But I know,' said Mrs Todgers, drawing in
her breath, 'I know!'

Tom nodded sorrowfully, 'So do I.'

'I fully believe,' said Mrs Todgers, taking her pocket-handkerchief
from the flat reticule, 'that nobody can tell one half of what that
poor young creature has to undergo. But though she comes here,
constantly, to ease her poor full heart without his knowing it; and
saying, "Mrs Todgers, I am very low to-day; I think that I shall
soon be dead," sits crying in my room until the fit is past; I know
no more from her. And, I believe,' said Mrs Todgers, putting back
her handkerchief again, 'that she considers me a good friend too.'

Mrs Todgers might have said her best friend. Commercial gentlemen
and gravy had tried Mrs Todgers's temper; the main chance--it was
such a very small one in her case, that she might have been excused
for looking sharp after it, lest it should entirely vanish from her
sight--had taken a firm hold on Mrs Todgers's attention. But in
some odd nook in Mrs Todgers's breast, up a great many steps, and in
a corner easy to be overlooked, there was a secret door, with
'Woman' written on the spring, which, at a touch from Mercy's hand,
had flown wide open, and admitted her for shelter.

When boarding-house accounts are balanced with all other ledgers,
and the books of the Recording Angel are made up for ever, perhaps
there may be seen an entry to thy credit, lean Mrs Todgers, which
shall make thee beautiful!

She was growing beautiful so rapidly in Tom's eyes; for he saw that
she was poor, and that this good had sprung up in her from among the
sordid strivings of her life; that she might have been a very Venus
in a minute more, if Miss Pecksniff had not entered with her friend.

'Mr Thomas Pinch!' said Charity, performing the ceremony of
introduction with evident pride. 'Mr Moddle. Where's my sister?'

'Gone, Miss Pecksniff,' Mrs Todgers answered. 'She had appointed to
be home.'

'Ah!' said Charity, looking at Tom. 'Oh, dear me!'

'She's greatly altered since she's been Anoth--since she's been
married, Mrs Todgers!' observed Moddle.

'My dear Augustus!' said Miss Pecksniff, in a low voice. 'I verily
believe you have said that fifty thousand times, in my hearing.
What a Prose you are!'

This was succeeded by some trifling love passages, which appeared to
originate with, if not to be wholly carried on by Miss Pecksniff.
At any rate, Mr Moddle was much slower in his responses than is
customary with young lovers, and exhibited a lowness of spirits
which was quite oppressive.

He did not improve at all when Tom and he were in the streets, but
sighed so dismally that it was dreadful to hear him. As a means of
cheering him up, Tom told him that he wished him joy.

'Joy!' cried Moddle. 'Ha, ha!'

'What an extraordinary young man!' thought Tom.

'The Scorner has not set his seal upon you. YOU care what becomes
of you?' said Moddle.

Tom admitted that it was a subject in which he certainly felt some
interest.

'I don't,' said Mr Moddle. 'The Elements may have me when they
please. I'm ready.'

Tom inferred from these, and other expressions of the same nature,
that he was jealous. Therefore he allowed him to take his own
course; which was such a gloomy one, that he felt a load removed
from his mind when they parted company at the gate of Furnival's
Inn.

It was now a couple of hours past John Westlock's dinner-time; and
he was walking up and down the room, quite anxious for Tom's safety.
The table was spread; the wine was carefully decanted; and the
dinner smelt delicious.

'Why, Tom, old boy, where on earth have you been? Your box is here.
Get your boots off instantly, and sit down!'

'I am sorry to say I can't stay, John,' replied Tom Pinch, who was
breathless with the haste he had made in running up the stairs.

'Can't stay!'

'If you'll go on with your dinner,' said Tom, 'I'll tell you my
reason the while. I mustn't eat myself, or I shall have no appetite
for the chops.'

'There are no chops here, my food fellow.'

'No. But there are at Islington,' said Tom.

John Westlock was perfectly confounded by this reply, and vowed he
would not touch a morsel until Tom had explained himself fully. So
Tom sat down, and told him all; to which he listened with the
greatest interest.

He knew Tom too well, and respected his delicacy too much, to ask
him why he had taken these measures without communicating with him
first. He quite concurred in the expediency of Tom's immediately
returning to his sister, as he knew so little of the place in
which he had left her, and good-humouredly proposed to ride back
with him in a cab, in which he might convey his box. Tom's
proposition that he should sup with them that night, he flatly
rejected, but made an appointment with him for the morrow. 'And now
Tom,' he said, as they rode along, 'I have a question to ask you to
which I expect a manly and straightforward answer. Do you want any
money? I am pretty sure you do.'

'I don't indeed,' said Tom.

'I believe you are deceiving me.'

'No. With many thanks to you, I am quite in earnest,' Tom replied.
'My sister has some money, and so have I. If I had nothing else,
John, I have a five-pound note, which that good creature, Mrs Lupin,
of the Dragon, handed up to me outside the coach, in a letter
begging me to borrow it; and then drove off as hard as she could
go.'

'And a blessing on every dimple in her handsome face, say I!' cried
John, 'though why you should give her the preference over me, I
don't know. Never mind. I bide my time, Tom.'

'And I hope you'll continue to bide it,' returned Tom, gayly. 'For
I owe you more, already, in a hundred other ways, than I can ever
hope to pay.'

They parted at the door of Tom's new residence. John Westlock,
sitting in the cab, and, catching a glimpse of a blooming little
busy creature darting out to kiss Tom and to help him with his box,
would not have had the least objection to change places with him.

Well! she WAS a cheerful little thing; and had a quaint, bright
quietness about her that was infinitely pleasant. Surely she was
the best sauce for chops ever invented. The potatoes seemed to take
a pleasure in sending up their grateful steam before her; the froth
upon the pint of porter pouted to attract her notice. But it was
all in vain. She saw nothing but Tom. Tom was the first and last
thing in the world.

As she sat opposite to Tom at supper, fingering one of Tom's pet
tunes upon the table-cloth, and smiling in his face, he had never
been so happy in his life.

CHAPTER THIRTY-EIGHT

SECRET SERVICE

In walking from the city with his sentimental friend, Tom Pinch had
looked into the face, and brushed against the threadbare sleeve, of
Mr Nadgett, man of mystery to the Anglo-Bengalee Disinterested Loan
and Life Assurance Company. Mr Nadgett naturally passed away from
Tom's remembrance as he passed out of his view; for he didn't know
him, and had never heard his name.

As there are a vast number of people in the huge metropolis of
England who rise up every morning not knowing where their heads will
rest at night, so there are a multitude who shooting arrows over
houses as their daily business, never know on whom they fall. Mr
Nadgett might have passed Tom Pinch ten thousand times; might even
have been quite familiar with his face, his name, pursuits, and
character; yet never once have dreamed that Tom had any interest in
any act or mystery of his. Tom might have done the like by him of
course. But the same private man out of all the men alive, was in
the mind of each at the same moment; was prominently connected
though in a different manner, with the day's adventures of both; and
formed, when they passed each other in the street, the one absorbing
topic of their thoughts.

Why Tom had Jonas Chuzzlewit in his mind requires no explanation.
Why Mr Nadgett should have had Jonas Chuzzlewit in his, is quite
another thing.

But, somehow or other, that amiable and worthy orphan had become a
part of the mystery of Mr Nadgett's existence. Mr Nadgett took an
interest in his lightest proceedings; and it never flagged or
wavered. He watched him in and out of the Assurance Office, where
he was now formally installed as a Director; he dogged his footsteps
in the streets; he stood listening when he talked; he sat in coffee-
rooms entering his name in the great pocket-book, over and over
again; he wrote letters to himself about him constantly; and, when
he found them in his pocket, put them in the fire, with such
distrust and caution that he would bend down to watch the crumpled
tinder while it floated upwards, as if his mind misgave him, that
the mystery it had contained might come out at the chimney-pot.

And yet all this was quite a secret. Mr Nadgett kept it to himself,
and kept it close. Jonas had no more idea that Mr Nadgett's eyes
were fixed on him, than he had that he was living under the daily
inspection and report of a whole order of Jesuits. Indeed Mr
Nadgett's eyes were seldom fixed on any other objects than the
ground, the clock, or the fire; but every button on his coat might
have been an eye, he saw so much.

The secret manner of the man disarmed suspicion in this wise;
suggesting, not that he was watching any one, but that he thought
some other man was watching him. He went about so stealthily, and
kept himself so wrapped up in himself, that the whole object of his
life appeared to be, to avoid notice and preserve his own mystery.
Jonas sometimes saw him in the street, hovering in the outer office,
waiting at the door for the man who never came, or slinking off with
his immovable face and drooping head, and the one beaver glove
dangling before him; but he would as soon have thought of the cross
upon the top of St. Paul's Cathedral taking note of what he did, or
slowly winding a great net about his feet, as of Nadgett's being
engaged in such an occupation.

Mr Nadgett made a mysterious change about this time in his
mysterious life: for whereas he had, until now, been first seen
every morning coming down Cornhill, so exactly like the Nadgett of
the day before as to occasion a popular belief that he never went to
bed or took his clothes off, he was now first seen in Holborn,
coming out of Kingsgate Street; and it was soon discovered that he
actually went every morning to a barber's shop in that street to get
shaved; and that the barber's name was Sweedlepipe. He seemed to
make appointments with the man who never came, to meet him at this
barber's; for he would frequently take long spells of waiting in the
shop, and would ask for pen and ink, and pull out his pocket-book,
and be very busy over it for an hour at a time. Mrs Gamp and Mr
Sweedlepipe had many deep discoursings on the subject of this
mysterious customer; but they usually agreed that he had speculated
too much and was keeping out of the way.

He must have appointed the man who never kept his word, to meet him
at another new place too; for one day he was found, for the first
time, by the waiter at the Mourning Coach-Horse, the House-of-call
for Undertakers, down in the City there, making figures with a pipe-
stem in the sawdust of a clean spittoon; and declining to call for
anything, on the ground of expecting a gentleman presently. As the
gentleman was not honourable enough to keep his engagement, he came
again next day, with his pocket-book in such a state of distention
that he was regarded in the bar as a man of large property. After
that, he repeated his visits every day, and had so much writing to
do, that he made nothing of emptying a capacious leaden inkstand in
two sittings. Although he never talked much, still, by being there
among the regular customers, he made their acquaintance. and in
course of time became quite intimate with Mr Tacker, Mr Mould's
foreman; and even with Mr Mould himself, who openly said he was a
long-headed man, a dry one, a salt fish, a deep file, a rasper; and
made him the subject of many other flattering encomiums.

At the same time, too, he told the people at the Assurance Office,
in his own mysterious way, that there was something wrong (secretly
wrong, of course) in his liver, and that he feared he must put
himself under the doctor's hands. He was delivered over to Jobling
upon this representation; and though Jobling could not find out
where his liver was wrong, wrong Mr Nadgett said it was; observing
that it was his own liver, and he hoped he ought to know.
Accordingly, he became Mr Jobling's patient; and detailing his
symptoms in his slow and secret way, was in and out of that
gentleman's room a dozen times a day.

As he pursued all these occupations at once; and all steadily; and
all secretly; and never slackened in his watchfulness of everything
that Mr Jonas said and did, and left unsaid and undone; it is not
improbable that they were, secretly, essential parts of some great
scheme which Mr Nadgett had on foot.

It was on the morning of this very day on which so much had happened
to Tom Pinch, that Nadgett suddenly appeared before Mr Montague's
house in Pall Mall--he always made his appearance as if he had that
moment come up a trap--when the clocks were striking nine. He rang
the bell in a covert under-handed way, as though it were a
treasonable act; and passed in at the door, the moment it was opened
wide enough to receive his body. That done, he shut it immediately
with his own hands.

Mr Bailey, taking up his name without delay, returned with a request
that he would follow him into his master's chamber. The chairman of
the Anglo-Bengalee Disinterested Loan and Life Assurance Board was
dressing, and received him as a business person who was often
backwards and forwards, and was received at all times for his
business' sake.

'Well, Mr Nadgett?'

Mr Nadgett put his hat upon the ground and coughed. The boy having
withdrawn and shut the door, he went to it softly, examined the
handle, and returned to within a pace or two of the chair in which
Mr Montague sat.

'Any news, Mr Nadgett?'

'I think we have some news at last, sir.'

'I am happy to hear it. I began to fear you were off the scent, Mr
Nadgett.'

'No, sir. It grows cold occasionally. It will sometimes. We can't
help that.'

'You are truth itself, Mr Nadgett. Do you report a great success?'

'That depends upon your judgment and construction of it,' was his
answer, as he put on his spectacles.

'What do you think of it yourself? Have you pleased yourself?'

Mr Nadgett rubbed his hands slowly, stroked his chin, looked round
the room, and said, 'Yes, yes, I think it's a good case. I am
disposed to think it's a good case. Will you go into it at once?'

'By all means.'

Mr Nadgett picked out a certain chair from among the rest, and
having planted it in a particular spot, as carefully as if he had
been going to vault over it, placed another chair in front of it;
leaving room for his own legs between them. He then sat down in
chair number two, and laid his pocket-book, very carefully, on chair
number one. He then untied the pocket-book, and hung the string
over the back of chair number one. He then drew both the chairs a
little nearer Mr Montague, and opening the pocket-book spread out
its contents. Finally he selected a certain memorandum from the
rest, and held it out to his employer, who, during the whole of
these preliminary ceremonies, had been making violent efforts to
conceal his impatience.

'I wish you wouldn't be so fond of making notes, my excellent
friend,' said Tigg Montague with a ghastly smile. 'I wish you would
consent to give me their purport by word of mouth.'

'I don't like word of mouth,' said Mr Nadgett gravely. 'We never
know who's listening.'

Mr Montague was going to retort, when Nadgett handed him the paper,
and said, with quiet exultation in his tone, 'We'll begin at the
beginning, and take that one first, if you please, sir.'

The chairman cast his eyes upon it, coldly, and with a smile which
did not render any great homage to the slow and methodical habits of
his spy. But he had not read half-a-dozen lines when the expression
of his face began to change, and before he had finished the perusal
of the paper, it was full of grave and serious attention.

'Number Two,' said Mr Nadgett, handing him another, and receiving
back the first. 'Read Number Two, sir, if you please. There is
more interest as you go on.'

Tigg Montague leaned backward in his chair, and cast upon his
emissary such a look of vacant wonder (not unmingled with alarm),
that Mr Nadgett considered it necessary to repeat the request he had
already twice preferred; with the view to recalling his attention to
the point in hand. Profiting by the hint, Mr Montague went on with
Number Two, and afterwards with Numbers Three, and Four, and Five,
and so on.

These documents were all in Mr Nadgett's writing, and were
apparently a series of memoranda, jotted down from time to time upon
the backs of old letters, or any scrap of paper that came first to
hand. Loose straggling scrawls they were, and of very uninviting
exterior; but they had weighty purpose in them, if the chairman's
face were any index to the character of their contents.

The progress of Mr Nadgett's secret satisfaction arising out of the
effect they made, kept pace with the emotions of the reader. At
first, Mr Nadgett sat with his spectacles low down upon his nose,
looking over them at his employer, and nervously rubbing his hands.
After a little while, he changed his posture in his chair for one of
greater ease, and leisurely perused the next document he held ready
as if an occasional glance at his employer's face were now enough
and all occasion for anxiety or doubt were gone. And finally he
rose and looked out of the window, where he stood with a triumphant
air until Tigg Montague had finished.

'And this is the last, Mr Nadgett!' said that gentleman, drawing a
long breath.

'That, sir, is the last.'

'You are a wonderful man, Mr Nadgett!'

'I think it is a pretty good case,' he returned as he gathered up
his papers. 'It cost some trouble, sir.'

'The trouble shall be well rewarded, Mr Nadgett.' Nadgett bowed.
'There is a deeper impression of Somebody's Hoof here, than I had
expected, Mr Nadgett. I may congratulate myself upon your being
such a good hand at a secret.'

'Oh! nothing has an interest to me that's not a secret,' replied
Nadgett, as he tied the string about his pocket-book, and put it up.
'It always takes away any pleasure I may have had in this inquiry
even to make it known to you.'

'A most invaluable constitution,' Tigg retorted. 'A great gift for
a gentleman employed as you are, Mr Nadgett. Much better than
discretion; though you possess that quality also in an eminent
degree. I think I heard a double knock. Will you put your head out
of window, and tell me whether there is anybody at the door?'

Mr Nadgett softly raised the sash, and peered out from the very
corner, as a man might who was looking down into a street from
whence a brisk discharge of musketry might be expected at any
moment. Drawing in his head with equal caution, he observed, not
altering his voice or manner:

'Mr Jonas Chuzzlewit!'

'I thought so,' Tigg retorted.

'Shall I go?'

'I think you had better. Stay though! No! remain here, Mr Nadgett,
if you please.'

It was remarkable how pale and flurried he had become in an instant.
There was nothing to account for it. His eye had fallen on his
razors; but what of them!

Mr Chuzzlewit was announced.

'Show him up directly. Nadgett! don't you leave us alone together.
Mind you don't, now! By the Lord!' he added in a whisper to himself:
'We don't know what may happen.'

Saying this, he hurriedly took up a couple of hair-brushes, and
began to exercise them on his own head, as if his toilet had not
been interrupted. Mr Nadgett withdrew to the stove, in which there
was a small fire for the convenience of heating curling-irons; and
taking advantage of so favourable an opportunity for drying his
pocket-handkerchief, produced it without loss of time. There he
stood, during the whole interview, holding it before the bars, and
sometimes, but not often, glancing over his shoulder.

'My dear Chuzzlewit!' cried Montague, as Jonas entered. 'You rise
with the lark. Though you go to bed with the nightingale, you rise
with the lark. You have superhuman energy, my dear Chuzzlewit!'

'Ecod!' said Jonas, with an air of langour and ill-humour, as he
took a chair, 'I should be very glad not to get up with the lark, if
I could help it. But I am a light sleeper; and it's better to be up
than lying awake, counting the dismal old church-clocks, in bed.'

'A light sleeper!' cried his friend. 'Now, what is a light sleeper?
I often hear the expression, but upon my life I have not the least
conception what a light sleeper is.'

'Hallo!' said Jonas, 'Who's that? Oh, old what's-his-name: looking
(as usual) as if he wanted to skulk up the chimney.'

'Ha, ha! I have no doubt he does.'

'Well! He's not wanted here, I suppose,' said Jonas. 'He may go,
mayn't he?'

'Oh, let him stay, let him stay!' said Tigg. 'He's a mere piece of
furniture. He has been making his report, and is waiting for
further orders. He has been told,' said Tigg, raising his voice,
'not to lose sight of certain friends of ours, or to think that he
has done with them by any means. He understands his business.'

'He need,' replied Jonas; 'for of all the precious old dummies in
appearance that I ever saw, he's about the worst. He's afraid of
me, I think.'

'It's my belief,' said Tigg, 'that you are Poison to him. Nadgett!
give me that towel!'

He had as little occasion for a towel as Jonas had for a start. But
Nadgett brought it quickly; and, having lingered for a moment, fell
back upon his old post by the fire.

'You see, my dear fellow,' resumed Tigg, 'you are too--what's the
matter with your lips? How white they are!'

'I took some vinegar just now,' said Jonas. 'I had oysters for my
breakfast. Where are they white?' he added, muttering an oath, and
rubbing them upon his handkerchief. 'I don't believe they ARE
white.'

'Now I look again, they are not,' replied his friend. 'They are
coming right again.'

'Say what you were going to say,' cried Jonas angrily, 'and let my
face be! As long as I can show my teeth when I want to (and I can do
that pretty well), the colour of my lips is not material.'

'Quite true,' said Tigg. 'I was only going to say that you are too
quick and active for our friend. He is too shy to cope with such a
man as you, but does his duty well. Oh, very well! But what is a
light sleeper?'

'Hang a light sleeper!' exclaimed Jonas pettishly.

'No, no,' interrupted Tigg. 'No. We'll not do that.'

'A light sleeper ain't a heavy one,' said Jonas in his sulky way;
'don't sleep much, and don't sleep well, and don't sleep sound.'

'And dreams,' said Tigg, 'and cries out in an ugly manner; and when
the candle burns down in the night, is in an agony; and all that
sort of thing. I see!'

They were silent for a little time. Then Jonas spoke:

'Now we've done with child's talk, I want to have a word with you.
I want to have a word with you before we meet up yonder to-day.
I am not satisfied with the state of affairs.'

'Not satisfied!' cried Tigg. 'The money comes in well.'

'The money comes in well enough,' retorted Jonas, 'but it don't come
out well enough. It can't be got at easily enough. I haven't
sufficient power; it is all in your hands. Ecod! what with one of
your by-laws, and another of your by-laws, and your votes in this
capacity, and your votes in that capacity, and your official rights,
and your individual rights, and other people's rights who are only
you again, there are no rights left for me. Everybody else's rights
are my wrongs. What's the use of my having a voice if it's always
drowned? I might as well be dumb, and it would be much less
aggravating. I'm not a-going to stand that, you know.'

'No!' said Tigg in an insinuating tone.

'No!' returned Jonas, 'I'm not indeed. I'll play old Gooseberry
with the office, and make you glad to buy me out at a good high
figure, if you try any of your tricks with me.'

'I give you my honour--' Montague began.

'Oh! confound your honour,' interrupted Jonas, who became more
coarse and quarrelsome as the other remonstrated, which may have
been a part of Mr Montague's intention; 'I want a little more
control over the money. You may have all the honour, if you like;
I'll never bring you to book for that. But I'm not a-going to stand
it, as it is now. If you should take it into your honourable head
to go abroad with the bank, I don't see much to prevent you. Well!
That won't do. I've had some very good dinners here, but they'd
come too dear on such terms; and therefore, that won't do.'

'I am unfortunate to find you in this humour,' said Tigg, with a
remarkable kind of smile; 'for I was going to propose to you--for
your own advantage; solely for your own advantage--that you should
venture a little more with us.'

'Was you, by G--?' said Jonas, with a short laugh.

'Yes. And to suggest,' pursued Montague, 'that surely you have
friends; indeed, I know you have; who would answer our purpose
admirably, and whom we should be delighted to receive.'

'How kind of you! You'd be delighted to receive 'em, would you?'
said Jonas, bantering.

'I give you my sacred honour, quite transported. As your friends,
observe!'

'Exactly,' said Jonas; 'as my friends, of course. You'll be very
much delighted when you get 'em, I have no doubt. And it'll be all
to my advantage, won't it?'

'It will be very much to your advantage,' answered Montague poising
a brush in each hand, and looking steadily upon him. 'It will be
very much to your advantage, I assure you.'

'And you can tell me how,' said Jonas, 'can't you?'

'SHALL I tell you how?' returned the other.

'I think you had better,' said Jonas. 'Strange things have been
done in the Assurance way before now, by strange sorts of men,
and I mean to take care of myself.'

'Chuzzlewit!' replied Montague, leaning forward, with his arms upon
his knees, and looking full into his face. 'Strange things have
been done, and are done every day; not only in our way, but in a
variety of other ways; and no one suspects them. But ours, as you
say, my good friend, is a strange way; and we strangely happen,
sometimes, to come into the knowledge of very strange events.'

He beckoned to Jonas to bring his chair nearer; and looking slightly
round, as if to remind him of the presence of Nadgett, whispered in
his ear.

From red to white; from white to red again; from red to yellow; then

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