Part 3 out of 20
ARCHITECTURAL, AND EXACT RELATION OF THE PROGRESS MADE BY MR PINCH
IN THE CONFIDENCE AND FRIENDSHIP OF THE NEW PUPIL
It was morning; and the beautiful Aurora, of whom so much hath been
written, said, and sung, did, with her rosy fingers, nip and tweak
Miss Pecksniff's nose. It was the frolicsome custom of the Goddess,
in her intercourse with the fair Cherry, so to do; or in more
prosaic phrase, the tip of that feature in the sweet girl's
countenance was always very red at breakfast-time. For the most
part, indeed, it wore, at that season of the day, a scraped and
frosty look, as if it had been rasped; while a similar phenomenon
developed itself in her humour, which was then observed to be of a
sharp and acid quality, as though an extra lemon (figuratively
speaking) had been squeezed into the nectar of her disposition, and
had rather damaged its flavour.
This additional pungency on the part of the fair young creature led,
on ordinary occasions, to such slight consequences as the copious
dilution of Mr Pinch's tea, or to his coming off uncommonly short in
respect of butter, or to other the like results. But on the morning
after the Installation Banquet, she suffered him to wander to and
fro among the eatables and drinkables, a perfectly free and
unchecked man; so utterly to Mr Pinch's wonder and confusion, that
like the wretched captive who recovered his liberty in his old age,
he could make but little use of his enlargement, and fell into a
strange kind of flutter for want of some kind hand to scrape his
bread, and cut him off in the article of sugar with a lump, and pay
him those other little attentions to which he was accustomed. There
was something almost awful, too, about the self-possession of the
new pupil; who 'troubled' Mr Pecksniff for the loaf, and helped
himself to a rasher of that gentleman's own particular and private
bacon, with all the coolness in life. He even seemed to think that
he was doing quite a regular thing, and to expect that Mr Pinch
would follow his example, since he took occasion to observe of that
young man 'that he didn't get on'; a speech of so tremendous a
character, that Tom cast down his eyes involuntarily, and felt as if
he himself had committed some horrible deed and heinous breach of Mr
Pecksniff's confidence. Indeed, the agony of having such an
indiscreet remark addressed to him before the assembled family, was
breakfast enough in itself, and would, without any other matter of
reflection, have settled Mr Pinch's business and quenched his
appetite, for one meal, though he had been never so hungry.
The young ladies, however, and Mr Pecksniff likewise, remained in
the very best of spirits in spite of these severe trials, though
with something of a mysterious understanding among themselves. When
the meal was nearly over, Mr Pecksniff smilingly explained the cause
of their common satisfaction.
'It is not often,' he said, 'Martin, that my daughters and I desert
our quiet home to pursue the giddy round of pleasures that revolves
abroad. But we think of doing so to-day.'
'Indeed, sir!' cried the new pupil.
'Yes,' said Mr Pecksniff, tapping his left hand with a letter which
he held in his right. 'I have a summons here to repair to London;
on professional business, my dear Martin; strictly on professional
business; and I promised my girls, long ago, that whenever that
happened again, they should accompany me. We shall go forth to-
night by the heavy coach--like the dove of old, my dear Martin--and
it will be a week before we again deposit our olive-branches in the
passage. When I say olive-branches,' observed Mr Pecksniff, in
explanation, 'I mean, our unpretending luggage.'
'I hope the young ladies will enjoy their trip,' said Martin.
'Oh! that I'm sure we shall!' cried Mercy, clapping her hands.
'Good gracious, Cherry, my darling, the idea of London!'
'Ardent child!' said Mr Pecksniff, gazing on her in a dreamy way.
'And yet there is a melancholy sweetness in these youthful hopes!
It is pleasant to know that they never can be realised. I remember
thinking once myself, in the days of my childhood, that pickled
onions grew on trees, and that every elephant was born with an
impregnable castle on his back. I have not found the fact to be so;
far from it; and yet those visions have comforted me under
circumstances of trial. Even when I have had the anguish of
discovering that I have nourished in my breast on ostrich, and not a
human pupil--even in that hour of agony, they have soothed me.'
At this dread allusion to John Westlock, Mr Pinch precipitately
choked in his tea; for he had that very morning received a letter
from him, as Mr Pecksniff very well knew.
'You will take care, my dear Martin,' said Mr Pecksniff, resuming
his former cheerfulness, 'that the house does not run away in our
absence. We leave you in charge of everything. There is no
mystery; all is free and open. Unlike the young man in the Eastern
tale--who is described as a one-eyed almanac, if I am not mistaken,
'A one-eyed calender, I think, sir,' faltered Tom.
'They are pretty nearly the same thing, I believe,' said Mr
Pecksniff, smiling compassionately; 'or they used to be in my time.
Unlike that young man, my dear Martin, you are forbidden to enter no
corner of this house; but are requested to make yourself perfectly
at home in every part of it. You will be jovial, my dear Martin,
and will kill the fatted calf if you please!'
There was not the least objection, doubtless, to the young man's
slaughtering and appropriating to his own use any calf, fat or lean,
that he might happen to find upon the premises; but as no such
animal chanced at that time to be grazing on Mr Pecksniff's estate,
this request must be considered rather as a polite compliment that a
substantial hospitality. It was the finishing ornament of the
conversation; for when he had delivered it, Mr Pecksniff rose and
led the way to that hotbed of architectural genius, the two-pair
'Let me see,' he said, searching among the papers, 'how you can best
employ yourself, Martin, while I am absent. Suppose you were to
give me your idea of a monument to a Lord Mayor of London; or a tomb
for a sheriff; or your notion of a cow-house to be erected in a
nobleman's park. Do you know, now,' said Mr Pecksniff, folding his
hands, and looking at his young relation with an air of pensive
interest, 'that I should very much like to see your notion of a
But Martin by no means appeared to relish this suggestion.
'A pump,' said Mr Pecksniff, 'is very chaste practice. I have found
that a lamp post is calculated to refine the mind and give it a
classical tendency. An ornamental turnpike has a remarkable effect
upon the imagination. What do you say to beginning with an
'Whatever Mr Pecksniff pleased,' said Martin, doubtfully.
'Stay,' said that gentleman. 'Come! as you're ambitious, and are a
very neat draughtsman, you shall--ha ha!--you shall try your hand on
these proposals for a grammar-school; regulating your plan, of
course, by the printed particulars. Upon my word, now,' said Mr
Pecksniff, merrily, 'I shall be very curious to see what you make of
the grammar-school. Who knows but a young man of your taste might
hit upon something, impracticable and unlikely in itself, but which
I could put into shape? For it really is, my dear Martin, it really
is in the finishing touches alone, that great experience and long
study in these matters tell. Ha, ha, ha! Now it really will be,'
continued Mr Pecksniff, clapping his young friend on the back in his
droll humour, 'an amusement to me, to see what you make of the
Martin readily undertook this task, and Mr Pecksniff forthwith
proceeded to entrust him with the materials necessary for its
execution; dwelling meanwhile on the magical effect of a few
finishing touches from the hand of a master; which, indeed, as some
people said (and these were the old enemies again!) was
unquestionably very surprising, and almost miraculous; as there were
cases on record in which the masterly introduction of an additional
back window, or a kitchen door, or half-a-dozen steps, or even a
water spout, had made the design of a pupil Mr Pecksniff's own work,
and had brought substantial rewards into that gentleman's pocket.
But such is the magic of genius, which changes all it handles into
'When your mind requires to be refreshed by change of occupation,'
said Mr Pecksniff, 'Thomas Pinch will instruct you in the art of
surveying the back garden, or in ascertaining the dead level of the
road between this house and the finger-post, or in any other
practical and pleasing pursuit. There are a cart-load of loose
bricks, and a score or two of old flower-pots, in the back yard. If
you could pile them up my dear Martin, into any form which would
remind me on my return say of St. Peter's at Rome, or the Mosque of
St. Sophia at Constantinople, it would be at once improving to you
and agreeable to my feelings. And now,' said Mr Pecksniff, in
conclusion, 'to drop, for the present, our professional relations
and advert to private matters, I shall be glad to talk with you in
my own room, while I pack up my portmanteau.'
Martin attended him; and they remained in secret conference
together for an hour or more; leaving Tom Pinch alone. When the
young man returned, he was very taciturn and dull, in which state he
remained all day; so that Tom, after trying him once or twice with
indifferent conversation, felt a delicacy in obtruding himself upon
his thoughts, and said no more.
He would not have had leisure to say much, had his new friend been
ever so loquacious; for first of all Mr Pecksniff called him down to
stand upon the top of his portmanteau and represent ancient statues
there, until such time as it would consent to be locked; and then
Miss Charity called him to come and cord her trunk; and then Miss
Mercy sent for him to come and mend her box; and then he wrote the
fullest possible cards for all the luggage; and then he volunteered
to carry it all downstairs; and after that to see it safely carried
on a couple of barrows to the old finger-post at the end of the
lane; and then to mind it till the coach came up. In short, his
day's work would have been a pretty heavy one for a porter, but his
thorough good-will made nothing of it; and as he sat upon the
luggage at last, waiting for the Pecksniffs, escorted by the new
pupil, to come down the lane, his heart was light with the hope of
having pleased his benefactor.
'I was almost afraid,' said Tom, taking a letter from his pocket and
wiping his face, for he was hot with bustling about though it was a
cold day, 'that I shouldn't have had time to write it, and that
would have been a thousand pities; postage from such a distance
being a serious consideration, when one's not rich. She will be
glad to see my hand, poor girl, and to hear that Pecksniff is as
kind as ever. I would have asked John Westlock to call and see her,
and tell her all about me by word of mouth, but I was afraid he
might speak against Pecksniff to her, and make her uneasy. Besides,
they are particular people where she is, and it might have rendered
her situation uncomfortable if she had had a visit from a young man
like John. Poor Ruth!'
Tom Pinch seemed a little disposed to be melancholy for half a
minute or so, but he found comfort very soon, and pursued his
'I'm a nice man, I don't think, as John used to say (John was a
kind, merry-hearted fellow; I wish he had liked Pecksniff better),
to be feeling low, on account of the distance between us, when I
ought to be thinking, instead, of my extraordinary good luck in
having ever got here. I must have been born with a silver spoon in
my mouth, I am sure, to have ever come across Pecksniff. And here
have I fallen again into my usual good luck with the new pupil! Such
an affable, generous, free fellow, as he is, I never saw. Why, we
were companions directly! and he a relation of Pecksniff's too, and
a clever, dashing youth who might cut his way through the world as
if it were a cheese! Here he comes while the words are on my lips'
said Tom; 'walking down the lane as if the lane belonged to him.'
In truth, the new pupil, not at all disconcerted by the honour of
having Miss Mercy Pecksniff on his arm, or by the affectionate
adieux of that young lady, approached as Mr Pinch spoke, followed by
Miss Charity and Mr Pecksniff. As the coach appeared at the same
moment, Tom lost no time in entreating the gentleman last mentioned,
to undertake the delivery of his letter.
'Oh!' said Mr Pecksniff, glancing at the superscription. 'For your
sister, Thomas. Yes, oh yes, it shall be delivered, Mr Pinch. Make
your mind easy upon that score. She shall certainly have it, Mr
He made the promise with so much condescension and patronage, that
Tom felt he had asked a great deal (this had not occurred to his
mind before), and thanked him earnestly. The Miss Pecksniffs,
according to a custom they had, were amused beyond description at
the mention of Mr Pinch's sister. Oh the fright! The bare idea
of a Miss Pinch! Good heavens!
Tom was greatly pleased to see them so merry, for he took it as a
token of their favour, and good-humoured regard. Therefore he
laughed too and rubbed his hands and wished them a pleasant journey
and safe return, and was quite brisk. Even when the coach had
rolled away with the olive-branches in the boot and the family of
doves inside, he stood waving his hand and bowing; so much gratified
by the unusually courteous demeanour of the young ladies, that he
was quite regardless, for the moment, of Martin Chuzzlewit, who
stood leaning thoughtfully against the finger-post, and who after
disposing of his fair charge had hardly lifted his eyes from the
The perfect silence which ensued upon the bustle and departure of
the coach, together with the sharp air of the wintry afternoon,
roused them both at the same time. They turned, as by mutual
consent, and moved off arm-in-arm.
'How melancholy you are!' said Tom; 'what is the matter?'
'Nothing worth speaking of,' said Martin. 'Very little more than
was the matter yesterday, and much more, I hope, than will be the
matter to-morrow. I'm out of spirits, Pinch.'
'Well,' cried Tom, 'now do you know I am in capital spirits today,
and scarcely ever felt more disposed to be good company. It was a
very kind thing in your predecessor, John, to write to me, was it
'Why, yes,' said Martin carelessly; 'I should have thought he would
have had enough to do to enjoy himself, without thinking of you,
'Just what I felt to be so very likely,' Tom rejoined; 'but no, he
keeps his word, and says, "My dear Pinch, I often think of you," and
all sorts of kind and considerate things of that description.'
'He must be a devilish good-natured fellow,' said Martin, somewhat
peevishly: 'because he can't mean that, you know.'
'I don't suppose he can, eh?' said Tom, looking wistfully in his
companion's face. 'He says so to please me, you think?'
'Why, is it likely,' rejoined Martin, with greater earnestness,
'that a young man newly escaped from this kennel of a place, and
fresh to all the delights of being his own master in London, can
have much leisure or inclination to think favourably of anything or
anybody he has left behind him here? I put it to you, Pinch, is it
After a short reflection, Mr Pinch replied, in a more subdued tone,
that to be sure it was unreasonable to expect any such thing, and
that he had no doubt Martin knew best.
'Of course I know best,' Martin observed.
'Yes, I feel that,' said Mr Pinch mildly. 'I said so.' And when he
had made this rejoinder, they fell into a blank silence again, which
lasted until they reached home; by which time it was dark.
Now, Miss Charity Pecksniff, in consideration of the inconvenience
of carrying them with her in the coach, and the impossibility of
preserving them by artificial means until the family's return, had
set forth, in a couple of plates, the fragments of yesterday's
feast. In virtue of which liberal arrangement, they had the
happiness to find awaiting them in the parlour two chaotic heaps of
the remains of last night's pleasure, consisting of certain filmy
bits of oranges, some mummied sandwiches, various disrupted masses
of the geological cake, and several entire captain's biscuits. That
choice liquor in which to steep these dainties might not be wanting,
the remains of the two bottles of currant wine had been poured
together and corked with a curl-paper; so that every material was at
hand for making quite a heavy night of it.
Martin Chuzzlewit beheld these roystering preparations with infinite
contempt, and stirring the fire into a blaze (to the great
destruction of Mr Pecksniff's coals), sat moodily down before it, in
the most comfortable chair he could find. That he might the better
squeeze himself into the small corner that was left for him, Mr
Pinch took up his position on Miss Mercy Pecksniff's stool, and
setting his glass down upon the hearthrug and putting his plate
upon his knees, began to enjoy himself.
If Diogenes coming to life again could have rolled himself, tub and
all, into Mr Pecksniff's parlour and could have seen Tom Pinch as he
sat on Mercy Pecksniff's stool with his plate and glass before him
he could not have faced it out, though in his surliest mood, but
must have smiled good-temperedly. The perfect and entire
satisfaction of Tom; his surpassing appreciation of the husky
sandwiches, which crumbled in his mouth like saw-dust; the
unspeakable relish with which he swallowed the thin wine by drops,
and smacked his lips, as though it were so rich and generous that to
lose an atom of its fruity flavour were a sin; the look with which
he paused sometimes, with his glass in his hand, proposing silent
toasts to himself; and the anxious shade that came upon his
contented face when, after wandering round the room, exulting in its
uninvaded snugness, his glance encountered the dull brow of his
companion; no cynic in the world, though in his hatred of its men a
very griffin, could have withstood these things in Thomas Pinch.
Some men would have slapped him on the back, and pledged him in a
bumper of the currant wine, though it had been the sharpest vinegar
--aye, and liked its flavour too; some would have seized him by his
honest hand, and thanked him for the lesson that his simple nature
taught them. Some would have laughed with, and others would have
laughed at him; of which last class was Martin Chuzzlewit, who,
unable to restrain himself, at last laughed loud and long.
'That's right,' said Tom, nodding approvingly. 'Cheer up! That's
At which encouragement young Martin laughed again; and said, as soon
as he had breath and gravity enough:
'I never saw such a fellow as you are, Pinch.'
'Didn't you though?' said Tom. 'Well, it's very likely you do find
me strange, because I have hardly seen anything of the world, and
you have seen a good deal I dare say?'
'Pretty well for my time of life,' rejoined Martin, drawing his
chair still nearer to the fire, and spreading his feet out on the
fender. 'Deuce take it, I must talk openly to somebody. I'll talk
openly to you, Pinch.'
'Do!' said Tom. 'I shall take it as being very friendly of you,'
'I'm not in your way, am I?' inquired Martin, glancing down at Mr
Pinch, who was by this time looking at the fire over his leg.
'Not at all!' cried Tom.
'You must know then, to make short of a long story,' said Martin,
beginning with a kind of effort, as if the revelation were not
agreeable to him; 'that I have been bred up from childhood with
great expectations, and have always been taught to believe that I
should be, one day, very rich. So I should have been, but for
certain brief reasons which I am going to tell you, and which have
led to my being disinherited.'
'By your father?' inquired Mr Pinch, with open eyes.
'By my grandfather. I have had no parents these many years.
Scarcely within my remembrance.'
'Neither have I,' said Tom, touching the young man's hand with his
own and timidly withdrawing it again. 'Dear me!'
'Why, as to that, you know, Pinch,' pursued the other, stirring the
fire again, and speaking in his rapid, off-hand way; 'it's all very
right and proper to be fond of parents when we have them, and to
bear them in remembrance after they're dead, if you have ever known
anything of them. But as I never did know anything about mine
personally, you know, why, I can't be expected to be very
sentimental about 'em. And I am not; that's the truth.'
Mr Pinch was just then looking thoughtfully at the bars. But on his
companion pausing in this place, he started, and said 'Oh! of
course'--and composed himself to listen again.
'In a word,' said Martin, 'I have been bred and reared all my life
by this grandfather of whom I have just spoken. Now, he has a great
many good points--there is no doubt about that; I'll not disguise
the fact from you--but he has two very great faults, which are the
staple of his bad side. In the first place, he has the most
confirmed obstinacy of character you ever met with in any human
creature. In the second, he is most abominably selfish.'
'Is he indeed?' cried Tom.
'In those two respects,' returned the other, 'there never was such a
man. I have often heard from those who know, that they have been,
time out of mind, the failings of our family; and I believe there's
some truth in it. But I can't say of my own knowledge. All I have
to do, you know, is to be very thankful that they haven't descended
to me, and, to be very careful that I don't contract 'em.'
'To be sure,' said Mr Pinch. 'Very proper.'
'Well, sir,' resumed Martin, stirring the fire once more, and
drawing his chair still closer to it, 'his selfishness makes him
exacting, you see; and his obstinacy makes him resolute in his
exactions. The consequence is that he has always exacted a great
deal from me in the way of respect, and submission, and self-denial
when his wishes were in question, and so forth. I have borne a
great deal from him, because I have been under obligations to him
(if one can ever be said to be under obligations to one's own
grandfather), and because I have been really attached to him; but we
have had a great many quarrels for all that, for I could not
accommodate myself to his ways very often--not out of the least
reference to myself, you understand, but because--' he stammered
here, and was rather at a loss.
Mr Pinch being about the worst man in the world to help anybody out
of a difficulty of this sort, said nothing.
'Well! as you understand me,' resumed Martin, quickly, 'I needn't
hunt for the precise expression I want. Now I come to the cream of
my story, and the occasion of my being here. I am in love, Pinch.'
Mr Pinch looked up into his face with increased interest.
'I say I am in love. I am in love with one of the most beautiful
girls the sun ever shone upon. But she is wholly and entirely
dependent upon the pleasure of my grandfather; and if he were to
know that she favoured my passion, she would lose her home and
everything she possesses in the world. There is nothing very
selfish in THAT love, I think?'
'Selfish!' cried Tom. 'You have acted nobly. To love her as I am
sure you do, and yet in consideration for her state of dependence,
not even to disclose--'
'What are you talking about, Pinch?' said Martin pettishly: 'don't
make yourself ridiculous, my good fellow! What do you mean by not
'I beg your pardon,' answered Tom. 'I thought you meant that, or I
wouldn't have said it.'
'If I didn't tell her I loved her, where would be the use of my
being in love?' said Martin: 'unless to keep myself in a perpetual
state of worry and vexation?'
'That's true,' Tom answered. 'Well! I can guess what SHE said when
you told her,' he added, glancing at Martin's handsome face.
'Why, not exactly, Pinch,' he rejoined, with a slight frown;
'because she has some girlish notions about duty and gratitude, and
all the rest of it, which are rather hard to fathom; but in the main
you are right. Her heart was mine, I found.'
'Just what I supposed,' said Tom. 'Quite natural!' and, in his
great satisfaction, he took a long sip out of his wine-glass.
'Although I had conducted myself from the first with the utmost
circumspection,' pursued Martin, 'I had not managed matters so well
but that my grandfather, who is full of jealousy and distrust,
suspected me of loving her. He said nothing to her, but straightway
attacked me in private, and charged me with designing to corrupt the
fidelity to himself (there you observe his selfishness), of a young
creature whom he had trained and educated to be his only
disinterested and faithful companion, when he should have disposed
of me in marriage to his heart's content. Upon that, I took fire
immediately, and told him that with his good leave I would dispose
of myself in marriage, and would rather not be knocked down by him
or any other auctioneer to any bidder whomsoever.'
Mr Pinch opened his eyes wider, and looked at the fire harder than
he had done yet.
'You may be sure,' said Martin, 'that this nettled him, and that he
began to be the very reverse of complimentary to myself. Interview
succeeded interview; words engendered words, as they always do; and
the upshot of it was, that I was to renounce her, or be renounced by
him. Now you must bear in mind, Pinch, that I am not only
desperately fond of her (for though she is poor, her beauty and
intellect would reflect great credit on anybody, I don't care of
what pretensions who might become her husband), but that a chief
ingredient in my composition is a most determined--'
'Obstinacy,' suggested Tom in perfect good faith. But the
suggestion was not so well received as he had expected; for the
young man immediately rejoined, with some irritation,
'What a fellow you are, Pinch!'
'I beg your pardon,' said Tom, 'I thought you wanted a word.'
'I didn't want that word,' he rejoined. 'I told you obstinacy was
no part of my character, did I not? I was going to say, if you had
given me leave, that a chief ingredient in my composition is a most
'Oh!' cried Tom, screwing up his mouth, and nodding. 'Yes, yes; I
'And being firm,' pursued Martin, 'of course I was not going to
yield to him, or give way by so much as the thousandth part of an
'No, no,' said Tom.
'On the contrary, the more he urged, the more I was determined to
'To be sure!' said Tom.
'Very well,' rejoined Martin, throwing himself back in his chair,
with a careless wave of both hands, as if the subject were quite
settled, and nothing more could be said about it--'There is an end
of the matter, and here am I!'
Mr Pinch sat staring at the fire for some minutes with a puzzled
look, such as he might have assumed if some uncommonly difficult
conundrum had been proposed, which he found it impossible to guess.
At length he said:
'Pecksniff, of course, you had known before?'
'Only by name. No, I had never seen him, for my grandfather kept
not only himself but me, aloof from all his relations. But our
separation took place in a town in the adjoining country. From that
place I came to Salisbury, and there I saw Pecksniff's
advertisement, which I answered, having always had some natural
taste, I believe, in the matters to which it referred, and thinking
it might suit me. As soon as I found it to be his, I was doubly
bent on coming to him if possible, on account of his being--'
'Such an excellent man,' interposed Tom, rubbing his hands: 'so he
is. You were quite right.'
'Why, not so much on that account, if the truth must be spoken,'
returned Martin, 'as because my grandfather has an inveterate
dislike to him, and after the old man's arbitrary treatment of me, I
had a natural desire to run as directly counter to all his opinions
as I could. Well! As I said before, here I am. My engagement with
the young lady I have been telling you about is likely to be a
tolerably long one; for neither her prospects nor mine are very
bright; and of course I shall not think of marrying until I am well
able to do so. It would never do, you know, for me to be plunging
myself into poverty and shabbiness and love in one room up three
pair of stairs, and all that sort of thing.'
'To say nothing of her,' remarked Tom Pinch, in a low voice.
'Exactly so,' rejoined Martin, rising to warm his back, and leaning
against the chimney-piece. 'To say nothing of her. At the same
time, of course it's not very hard upon her to be obliged to yield
to the necessity of the case; first, because she loves me very much;
and secondly, because I have sacrificed a great deal on her account,
and might have done much better, you know.'
It was a very long time before Tom said 'Certainly;' so long, that
he might have taken a nap in the interval, but he did say it at
'Now, there is one odd coincidence connected with this love-story,'
said Martin, 'which brings it to an end. You remember what you told
me last night as we were coming here, about your pretty visitor in
'Surely I do,' said Tom, rising from his stool, and seating himself
in the chair from which the other had lately risen, that he might
see his face. 'Undoubtedly.'
'That was she.'
'I knew what you were going to say,' cried Tom, looking fixedly at
him, and speaking very softly. 'You don't tell me so?'
'That was she,' repeated the young man. 'After what I have heard
from Pecksniff, I have no doubt that she came and went with my
grandfather.--Don't you drink too much of that sour wine, or you'll
have a fit of some sort, Pinch, I see.'
'It is not very wholesome, I am afraid,' said Tom, setting down the
empty glass he had for some time held. 'So that was she, was it?'
Martin nodded assent; and adding, with a restless impatience, that
if he had been a few days earlier he would have seen her; and that
now she might be, for anything he knew, hundreds of miles away;
threw himself, after a few turns across the room, into a chair, and
chafed like a spoilt child.
Tom Pinch's heart was very tender, and he could not bear to see the
most indifferent person in distress; still less one who had awakened
an interest in him, and who regarded him (either in fact, or as he
supposed) with kindness, and in a spirit of lenient construction.
Whatever his own thoughts had been a few moments before--and to
judge from his face they must have been pretty serious--he dismissed
them instantly, and gave his young friend the best counsel and
comfort that occurred to him.
'All will be well in time,' said Tom, 'I have no doubt; and some
trial and adversity just now will only serve to make you more
attached to each other in better days. I have always read that the
truth is so, and I have a feeling within me, which tells me how
natural and right it is that it should be. That never ran smooth
yet,' said Tom, with a smile which, despite the homeliness of his
face, was pleasanter to see than many a proud beauty's brightest
glance; 'what never ran smooth yet, can hardly be expected to change
its character for us; so we must take it as we find it, and fashion
it into the very best shape we can, by patience and good-humour. I
have no power at all; I needn't tell you that; but I have an
excellent will; and if I could ever be of use to you, in any way
whatever, how very glad I should be!'
'Thank you,' said Martin, shaking his hand. 'You're a good fellow,
upon my word, and speak very kindly. Of course you know,' he added,
after a moment's pause, as he drew his chair towards the fire again,
'I should not hesitate to avail myself of your services if you could
help me at all; but mercy on us!'--Here he rumpled his hair
impatiently with his hand, and looked at Tom as if he took it rather
ill that he was not somebody else--'you might as well be a toasting-
fork or a frying-pan, Pinch, for any help you can render me.'
'Except in the inclination,' said Tom, gently.
'Oh! to be sure. I meant that, of course. If inclination went for
anything, I shouldn't want help. I tell you what you may do,
though, if you will, and at the present moment too.'
'What is that?' demanded Tom.
'Read to me.'
'I shall be delighted,' cried Tom, catching up the candle with
enthusiasm. 'Excuse my leaving you in the dark a moment, and I'll
fetch a book directly. What will you like? Shakespeare?'
'Aye!' replied his friend, yawning and stretching himself. 'He'll
do. I am tired with the bustle of to-day, and the novelty of
everything about me; and in such a case, there's no greater
luxury in the world, I think, than being read to sleep. You
won't mind my going to sleep, if I can?'
'Not at all!' cried Tom.
'Then begin as soon as you like. You needn't leave off when you see
me getting drowsy (unless you feel tired), for it's pleasant to wake
gradually to the sounds again. Did you ever try that?'
'No, I never tried that,' said Tom
'Well! You can, you know, one of these days when we're both in the
right humour. Don't mind leaving me in the dark. Look sharp!'
Mr Pinch lost no time in moving away; and in a minute or two
returned with one of the precious volumes from the shelf beside his
bed. Martin had in the meantime made himself as comfortable as
circumstances would permit, by constructing before the fire a
temporary sofa of three chairs with Mercy's stool for a pillow, and
lying down at full-length upon it.
'Don't be too loud, please,' he said to Pinch.
'No, no,' said Tom.
'You're sure you're not cold'
'Not at all!' cried Tom.
'I am quite ready, then.'
Mr Pinch accordingly, after turning over the leaves of his book with
as much care as if they were living and highly cherished creatures,
made his own selection, and began to read. Before he had completed
fifty lines his friend was snoring.
'Poor fellow!' said Tom, softly, as he stretched out his head to
peep at him over the backs of the chairs. 'He is very young to have
so much trouble. How trustful and generous in him to bestow all
this confidence in me. And that was she, was it?'
But suddenly remembering their compact, he took up the poem at the
place where he had left off, and went on reading; always forgetting
to snuff the candle, until its wick looked like a mushroom. He
gradually became so much interested, that he quite forgot to
replenish the fire; and was only reminded of his neglect by Martin
Chuzzlewit starting up after the lapse of an hour or so, and crying
with a shiver.
'Why, it's nearly out, I declare! No wonder I dreamed of being
frozen. Do call for some coals. What a fellow you are, Pinch!'
IN WHICH MR CHEVY SLYME ASSERTS THE INDEPENDENCE OF HIS SPIRIT, AND
THE BLUE DRAGON LOSES A LIMB
Martin began to work at the grammar-school next morning, with so
much vigour and expedition, that Mr Pinch had new reason to do
homage to the natural endowments of that young gentleman, and to
acknowledge his infinite superiority to himself. The new pupil
received Tom's compliments very graciously; and having by this time
conceived a real regard for him, in his own peculiar way, predicted
that they would always be the very best of friends, and that neither
of them, he was certain (but particularly Tom), would ever have
reason to regret the day on which they became acquainted. Mr Pinch
was delighted to hear him say this, and felt so much flattered by
his kind assurances of friendship and protection, that he was at a
loss how to express the pleasure they afforded him. And indeed it
may be observed of this friendship, such as it was, that it had
within it more likely materials of endurance than many a sworn
brotherhood that has been rich in promise; for so long as the one
party found a pleasure in patronizing, and the other in being
patronised (which was in the very essence of their respective
characters), it was of all possible events among the least probable,
that the twin demons, Envy and Pride, would ever arise between them.
So in very many cases of friendship, or what passes for it, the old
axiom is reversed, and like clings to unlike more than to like.
They were both very busy on the afternoon succeeding the family's
departure--Martin with the grammar-school, and Tom in balancing
certain receipts of rents, and deducting Mr Pecksniff's commission
from the same; in which abstruse employment he was much distracted
by a habit his new friend had of whistling aloud while he was
drawing--when they were not a little startled by the unexpected
obtrusion into that sanctuary of genius, of a human head which,
although a shaggy and somewhat alarming head in appearance, smiled
affably upon them from the doorway, in a manner that was at once
waggish, conciliatory, and expressive of approbation.
'I am not industrious myself, gents both,' said the head, 'but I
know how to appreciate that quality in others. I wish I may turn
grey and ugly, if it isn't in my opinion, next to genius, one of the
very charmingest qualities of the human mind. Upon my soul, I am
grateful to my friend Pecksniff for helping me to the contemplation
of such a delicious picture as you present. You remind me of
Whittington, afterwards thrice Lord Mayor of London. I give you my
unsullied word of honour, that you very strongly remind me of that
historical character. You are a pair of Whittingtons, gents,
without the cat; which is a most agreeable and blessed exception to
me, for I am not attached to the feline species. My name is Tigg;
how do you do?'
Martin looked to Mr Pinch for an explanation; and Tom, who had never
in his life set eyes on Mr Tigg before, looked to that gentleman
'Chevy Slyme?' said Mr Tigg, interrogatively, and kissing his left
hand in token of friendship. 'You will understand me when I say
that I am the accredited agent of Chevy Slyme; that I am the
ambassador from the court of Chiv? Ha ha!'
'Heyday!' asked Martin, starting at the mention of a name he knew.
'Pray, what does he want with me?'
'If your name is Pinch'--Mr Tigg began.
'It is not' said Martin, checking himself. 'That is Mr Pinch.'
'If that is Mr Pinch,' cried Tigg, kissing his hand again, and
beginning to follow his head into the room, 'he will permit me to
say that I greatly esteem and respect his character, which has been
most highly commended to me by my friend Pecksniff; and that I
deeply appreciate his talent for the organ, notwithstanding that I
do not, if I may use the expression, grind myself. If that is Mr
Pinch, I will venture to express a hope that I see him well, and
that he is suffering no inconvenience from the easterly wind?'
'Thank you,' said Tom. 'I am very well.'
'That is a comfort,' Mr Tigg rejoined. 'Then,' he added, shielding
his lips with the palm of his hand, and applying them close to Mr
Pinch's ear, 'I have come for the letter.'
'For the letter,' said Tom, aloud. 'What letter?'
'The letter,' whispered Tigg in the same cautious manner as before,
'which my friend Pecksniff addressed to Chevy Slyme, Esquire, and
left with you.'
'He didn't leave any letter with me,' said Tom.
'Hush!' cried the other. 'It's all the same thing, though not so
delicately done by my friend Pecksniff as I could have wished. The
'The money!' cried Tom quite scared.
'Exactly so,' said Mr Tigg. With which he rapped Tom twice or
thrice upon the breast and nodded several times, as though he would
say that he saw they understood each other; that it was unnecessary
to mention the circumstance before a third person; and that he would
take it as a particular favour if Tom would slip the amount into his
hand, as quietly as possible.
Mr Pinch, however, was so very much astounded by this (to him)
inexplicable deportment, that he at once openly declared there must
be some mistake, and that he had been entrusted with no commission
whatever having any reference to Mr Tigg or to his friend, either.
Mr Tigg received this declaration with a grave request that Mr Pinch
would have the goodness to make it again; and on Tom's repeating it
in a still more emphatic and unmistakable manner, checked it off,
sentence for sentence, by nodding his head solemnly at the end of
each. When it had come to a close for the second time, Mr Tigg sat
himself down in a chair and addressed the young men as follows:
'Then I tell you what it is, gents both. There is at this present
moment in this very place, a perfect constellation of talent and
genius, who is involved, through what I cannot but designate as the
culpable negligence of my friend Pecksniff, in a situation as
tremendous, perhaps, as the social intercourse of the nineteenth
century will readily admit of. There is actually at this instant,
at the Blue Dragon in this village--an ale-house, observe; a common,
paltry, low-minded, clodhopping, pipe-smoking ale-house--an
individual, of whom it may be said, in the language of the Poet,
that nobody but himself can in any way come up to him; who is
detained there for his bill. Ha! ha! For his bill. I repeat it--
for his bill. Now,' said Mr Tigg, 'we have heard of Fox's Book of
Martyrs, I believe, and we have heard of the Court of Requests, and
the Star Chamber; but I fear the contradiction of no man alive or
dead, when I assert that my friend Chevy Slyme being held in pawn
for a bill, beats any amount of cockfighting with which I am
Martin and Mr Pinch looked, first at each other, and afterwards at
Mr Tigg, who with his arms folded on his breast surveyed them, half
in despondency and half in bitterness.
'Don't mistake me, gents both,' he said, stretching forth his right
hand. 'If it had been for anything but a bill, I could have borne
it, and could still have looked upon mankind with some feeling of
respect; but when such a man as my friend Slyme is detained for a
score--a thing in itself essentially mean; a low performance on a
slate, or possibly chalked upon the back of a door--I do feel that
there is a screw of such magnitude loose somewhere, that the whole
framework of society is shaken, and the very first principles of
things can no longer be trusted. In short, gents both,' said Mr
Tigg with a passionate flourish of his hands and head, 'when a man
like Slyme is detained for such a thing as a bill, I reject the
superstitions of ages, and believe nothing. I don't even believe
that I DON'T believe, curse me if I do!'
'I am very sorry, I am sure,' said Tom after a pause, 'but Mr
Pecksniff said nothing to me about it, and I couldn't act without
his instructions. Wouldn't it be better, sir, if you were to go to
--to wherever you came from--yourself, and remit the money to your
'How can that be done, when I am detained also?' said Mr Tigg; 'and
when moreover, owing to the astounding, and I must add, guilty
negligence of my friend Pecksniff, I have no money for coach-hire?'
Tom thought of reminding the gentleman (who, no doubt, in his
agitation had forgotten it) that there was a post-office in the
land; and that possibly if he wrote to some friend or agent for a
remittance it might not be lost upon the road; or at all events that
the chance, however desperate, was worth trusting to. But, as his
good-nature presently suggested to him certain reasons for
abstaining from this hint, he paused again, and then asked:
'Did you say, sir, that you were detained also?'
'Come here,' said Mr Tigg, rising. 'You have no objection to my
opening this window for a moment?'
'Certainly not,' said Tom.
'Very good,' said Mr Tigg, lifting the sash. 'You see a fellow down
there in a red neckcloth and no waistcoat?'
'Of course I do,' cried Tom. 'That's Mark Tapley.'
'Mark Tapley is it?' said the gentleman. 'Then Mark Tapley had not
only the great politeness to follow me to this house, but is waiting
now, to see me home again. And for that attention, sir,' added Mr
Tigg, stroking his moustache, 'I can tell you, that Mark Tapley had
better in his infancy have been fed to suffocation by Mrs Tapley,
than preserved to this time.'
Mr Pinch was not so dismayed by this terrible threat, but that he
had voice enough to call to Mark to come in, and upstairs; a
summons which he so speedily obeyed, that almost as soon as Tom and
Mr Tigg had drawn in their heads and closed the window again, he,
the denounced, appeared before them.
'Come here, Mark!' said Mr Pinch. 'Good gracious me! what's the
matter between Mrs Lupin and this gentleman?'
'What gentleman, sir?' said Mark. 'I don't see no gentleman here
sir, excepting you and the new gentleman,' to whom he made a rough
kind of bow--'and there's nothing wrong between Mrs Lupin and either
of you, Mr Pinch, I am sure.'
'Nonsense, Mark!' cried Tom. 'You see Mr--'
'Tigg,' interposed that gentleman. 'Wait a bit. I shall crush him
soon. All in good time!'
'Oh HIM!' rejoined Mark, with an air of careless defiance. 'Yes, I
see HIM. I could see him a little better, if he'd shave himself,
and get his hair cut.'
Mr Tigg shook his head with a ferocious look, and smote himself once
upon the breast.
'It's no use,' said Mark. 'If you knock ever so much in that
quarter, you'll get no answer. I know better. There's nothing
there but padding; and a greasy sort it is.'
'Nay, Mark,' urged Mr Pinch, interposing to prevent hostilities,
'tell me what I ask you. You're not out of temper, I hope?'
'Out of temper, sir!' cried Mark, with a grin; 'why no, sir.
There's a little credit--not much--in being jolly, when such fellows
as him is a-going about like roaring lions; if there is any breed of
lions, at least, as is all roar and mane. What is there between him
and Mrs Lupin, sir? Why, there's a score between him and Mrs Lupin.
And I think Mrs Lupin lets him and his friend off very easy in not
charging 'em double prices for being a disgrace to the Dragon.
That's my opinion. I wouldn't have any such Peter the Wild Boy as
him in my house, sir, not if I was paid race-week prices for it.
He's enough to turn the very beer in the casks sour with his looks;
he is! So he would, if it had judgment enough.'
'You're not answering my question, you know, Mark,' observed Mr
'Well, sir,' said Mark, 'I don't know as there's much to answer
further than that. Him and his friend goes and stops at the Moon
and Stars till they've run a bill there; and then comes and stops
with us and does the same. The running of bills is common enough Mr
Pinch; it an't that as we object to; it's the ways of this chap.
Nothing's good enough for him; all the women is dying for him he
thinks, and is overpaid if he winks at 'em; and all the men was made
to be ordered about by him. This not being aggravation enough, he
says this morning to me, in his usual captivating way, "We're going
to-night, my man." "Are you, sir?" says I. "Perhaps you'd like the
bill got ready, sir?" "Oh no, my man," he says; "you needn't mind
that. I'll give Pecksniff orders to see to that." In reply to
which, the Dragon makes answer, "Thankee, sir, you're very kind to
honour us so far, but as we don't know any particular good of you,
and you don't travel with luggage, and Mr Pecksniff an't at home
(which perhaps you mayn't happen to be aware of, sir), we should
prefer something more satisfactory;" and that's where the matter
stands. And I ask,' said Mr Tapley, pointing, in conclusion, to Mr
Tigg, with his hat, 'any lady or gentleman, possessing ordinary
strength of mind, to say whether he's a disagreeable-looking chap or
'Let me inquire,' said Martin, interposing between this candid
speech and the delivery of some blighting anathema by Mr Tigg, 'what
the amount of this debt may be?'
'In point of money, sir, very little,' answered Mark. 'Only just
turned of three pounds. But it an't that; it's the--'
'Yes, yes, you told us so before,' said Martin. 'Pinch, a word with
'What is it?' asked Tom, retiring with him to a corner of the room.
'Why, simply--I am ashamed to say--that this Mr Slyme is a relation
of mine, of whom I never heard anything pleasant; and that I don't
want him here just now, and think he would be cheaply got rid of,
perhaps, for three or four pounds. You haven't enough money to pay
this bill, I suppose?'
Tom shook his head to an extent that left no doubt of his entire
'That's unfortunate, for I am poor too; and in case you had had it,
I'd have borrowed it of you. But if we told this landlady we would
see her paid, I suppose that would answer the same purpose?'
'Oh dear, yes!' said Tom. 'She knows me, bless you!'
'Then let us go down at once and tell her so; for the sooner we are
rid of their company the better. As you have conducted the
conversation with this gentleman hitherto, perhaps you'll tell him
what we purpose doing; will you?'
Mr Pinch, complying, at once imparted the intelligence to Mr Tigg,
who shook him warmly by the hand in return, assuring him that his
faith in anything and everything was again restored. It was not so
much, he said, for the temporary relief of this assistance that he
prized it, as for its vindication of the high principle that
Nature's Nobs felt with Nature's Nobs, and that true greatness of
soul sympathized with true greatness of soul, all the world over.
It proved to him, he said, that like him they admired genius, even
when it was coupled with the alloy occasionally visible in the metal
of his friend Slyme; and on behalf of that friend, he thanked them;
as warmly and heartily as if the cause were his own. Being cut
short in these speeches by a general move towards the stairs, he
took possession at the street door of the lapel of Mr Pinch's coat,
as a security against further interruption; and entertained that
gentleman with some highly improving discourse until they reached
the Dragon, whither they were closely followed by Mark and the new
The rosy hostess scarcely needed Mr Pinch's word as a preliminary to
the release of her two visitors, of whom she was glad to be rid on
any terms; indeed, their brief detention had originated mainly with
Mr Tapley, who entertained a constitutional dislike to gentleman
out-at-elbows who flourished on false pretences; and had conceived a
particular aversion to Mr Tigg and his friend, as choice specimens
of the species. The business in hand thus easily settled, Mr Pinch
and Martin would have withdrawn immediately, but for the urgent
entreaties of Mr Tigg that they would allow him the honour of
presenting them to his friend Slyme, which were so very difficult of
resistance that, yielding partly to these persuasions and partly to
their own curiosity, they suffered themselves to be ushered into the
presence of that distinguished gentleman.
He was brooding over the remains of yesterday's decanter of brandy,
and was engaged in the thoughtful occupation of making a chain of
rings on the top of the table with the wet foot of his drinking-
glass. Wretched and forlorn as he looked, Mr Slyme had once been in
his way, the choicest of swaggerers; putting forth his pretensions
boldly, as a man of infinite taste and most undoubted promise. The
stock-in-trade requisite to set up an amateur in this department of
business is very slight, and easily got together; a trick of the
nose and a curl of the lip sufficient to compound a tolerable sneer,
being ample provision for any exigency. But, in an evil hour, this
off-shoot of the Chuzzlewit trunk, being lazy, and ill qualified for
any regular pursuit and having dissipated such means as he ever
possessed, had formally established himself as a professor of Taste
for a livelihood; and finding, too late, that something more than
his old amount of qualifications was necessary to sustain him in
this calling, had quickly fallen to his present level, where he
retained nothing of his old self but his boastfulness and his bile,
and seemed to have no existence separate or apart from his friend
Tigg. And now so abject and so pitiful was he--at once so maudlin,
insolent, beggarly, and proud--that even his friend and parasite,
standing erect beside him, swelled into a Man by contrast.
'Chiv,' said Mr Tigg, clapping him on the back, 'my friend Pecksniff
not being at home, I have arranged our trifling piece of business
with Mr Pinch and friend. Mr Pinch and friend, Mr Chevy Slyme!
Chiv, Mr Pinch and friend!'
'These are agreeable circumstances in which to be introduced to
strangers,' said Chevy Slyme, turning his bloodshot eyes towards Tom
Pinch. 'I am the most miserable man in the world, I believe!'
Tom begged he wouldn't mention it; and finding him in this
condition, retired, after an awkward pause, followed by Martin. But
Mr Tigg so urgently conjured them, by coughs and signs, to remain in
the shadow of the door, that they stopped there.
'I swear,' cried Mr Slyme, giving the table an imbecile blow with
his fist, and then feebly leaning his head upon his hand, while some
drunken drops oozed from his eyes, 'that I am the wretchedest
creature on record. Society is in a conspiracy against me. I'm the
most literary man alive. I'm full of scholarship. I'm full of
genius; I'm full of information; I'm full of novel views on every
subject; yet look at my condition! I'm at this moment obliged to two
strangers for a tavern bill!'
Mr Tigg replenished his friend's glass, pressed it into his hand,
and nodded an intimation to the visitors that they would see him in
a better aspect immediately.
'Obliged to two strangers for a tavern bill, eh!' repeated Mr Slyme,
after a sulky application to his glass. 'Very pretty! And crowds of
impostors, the while, becoming famous; men who are no more on a
level with me than--Tigg, I take you to witness that I am the most
persecuted hound on the face of the earth.'
With a whine, not unlike the cry of the animal he named, in its
lowest state of humiliation, he raised his glass to his mouth again.
He found some encouragement in it; for when he set it down he
laughed scornfully. Upon that Mr Tigg gesticulated to the visitors
once more, and with great expression, implying that now the time was
come when they would see Chiv in his greatness.
'Ha, ha, ha,' laughed Mr Slyme. 'Obliged to two strangers for a
tavern bill! Yet I think I've a rich uncle, Tigg, who could buy up
the uncles of fifty strangers! Have I, or have I not? I come of a
good family, I believe! Do I, or do I not? I'm not a man of common
capacity or accomplishments, I think! Am I, or am I not?'
'You are the American aloe of the human race, my dear Chiv,' said Mr
Tigg, 'which only blooms once in a hundred years!'
'Ha, ha, ha!' laughed Mr Slyme again. 'Obliged to two strangers for
a tavern bill! I obliged to two architect's apprentices. Fellows
who measure earth with iron chains, and build houses like
bricklayers. Give me the names of those two apprentices. How dare
they oblige me!'
Mr Tigg was quite lost in admiration of this noble trait in his
friend's character; as he made known to Mr Pinch in a neat little
ballet of action, spontaneously invented for the purpose.
'I'll let 'em know, and I'll let all men know,' cried Chevy Slyme,
'that I'm none of the mean, grovelling, tame characters they meet
with commonly. I have an independent spirit. I have a heart that
swells in my bosom. I have a soul that rises superior to base
'Oh Chiv, Chiv,' murmured Mr Tigg, 'you have a nobly independent
'You go and do your duty, sir,' said Mr Slyme, angrily, 'and borrow
money for travelling expenses; and whoever you borrow it of, let 'em
know that I possess a haughty spirit, and a proud spirit, and have
infernally finely-touched chords in my nature, which won't brook
patronage. Do you hear? Tell 'em I hate 'em, and that that's the
way I preserve my self-respect; and tell 'em that no man ever
respected himself more than I do!'
He might have added that he hated two sorts of men; all those who
did him favours, and all those who were better off than himself; as
in either case their position was an insult to a man of his
stupendous merits. But he did not; for with the apt closing words
above recited, Mr Slyme; of too haughty a stomach to work, to beg,
to borrow, or to steal; yet mean enough to be worked or borrowed,
begged or stolen for, by any catspaw that would serve his turn; too
insolent to lick the hand that fed him in his need, yet cur enough
to bite and tear it in the dark; with these apt closing words Mr
Slyme fell forward with his head upon the table, and so declined
into a sodden sleep.
'Was there ever,' cried Mr Tigg, joining the young men at the door,
and shutting it carefully behind him, 'such an independent spirit as
is possessed by that extraordinary creature? Was there ever such a
Roman as our friend Chiv? Was there ever a man of such a purely
classical turn of thought, and of such a toga-like simplicity of
nature? Was there ever a man with such a flow of eloquence? Might
he not, gents both, I ask, have sat upon a tripod in the ancient
times, and prophesied to a perfectly unlimited extent, if previously
supplied with gin-and-water at the public cost?'
Mr Pinch was about to contest this latter position with his usual
mildness, when, observing that his companion had already gone
downstairs, he prepared to follow him.
'You are not going, Mr Pinch?' said Tigg.
'Thank you,' answered Tom. 'Yes. Don't come down.'
'Do you know that I should like one little word in private with you
Mr Pinch?' said Tigg, following him. 'One minute of your company in
the skittle-ground would very much relieve my mind. Might I beseech
'Oh, certainly,' replied Tom, 'if you really wish it.' So he
accompanied Mr Tigg to the retreat in question; on arriving at which
place that gentleman took from his hat what seemed to be the fossil
remains of an antediluvian pocket-handkerchief, and wiped his eyes
'You have not beheld me this day,' said Mr Tigg, 'in a favourable
'Don't mention that,' said Tom, 'I beg.'
'But you have NOT,' cried Tigg. 'I must persist in that opinion.
If you could have seen me, Mr Pinch, at the head of my regiment on
the coast of Africa, charging in the form of a hollow square, with
the women and children and the regimental plate-chest in the centre,
you would not have known me for the same man. You would have
respected me, sir.'
Tom had certain ideas of his own upon the subject of glory; and
consequently he was not quite so much excited by this picture as Mr
Tigg could have desired.
'But no matter!' said that gentleman. 'The school-boy writing home
to his parents and describing the milk-and-water, said "This is
indeed weakness." I repeat that assertion in reference to myself at
the present moment; and I ask your pardon. Sir, you have seen my
'No doubt,' said Mr Pinch.
'Sir, you have been impressed by my friend Slyme?'
'Not very pleasantly, I must say,' answered Tom, after a little
'I am grieved but not surprised,' cried Mr Tigg, detaining him with
both hands, 'to hear that you have come to that conclusion; for it
is my own. But, Mr Pinch, though I am a rough and thoughtless man,
I can honour Mind. I honour Mind in following my friend. To you of
all men, Mr Pinch, I have a right to make appeal on Mind's behalf,
when it has not the art to push its fortune in the world. And so,
sir--not for myself, who have no claim upon you, but for my crushed,
my sensitive and independent friend, who has--I ask the loan of
three half-crowns. I ask you for the loan of three half-crowns,
distinctly, and without a blush. I ask it, almost as a right. And
when I add that they will be returned by post, this week, I feel
that you will blame me for that sordid stipulation.'
Mr Pinch took from his pocket an old-fashioned red-leather purse
with a steel clasp, which had probably once belonged to his deceased
grandmother. It held one half-sovereign and no more. All Tom's
worldly wealth until next quarter-day.
'Stay!' cried Mr Tigg, who had watched this proceeding keenly. 'I
was just about to say, that for the convenience of posting you had
better make it gold. Thank you. A general direction, I suppose, to
Mr Pinch at Mr Pecksniff's--will that find you?'
'That'll find me,' said Tom. 'You had better put Esquire to Mr
Pecksniff's name, if you please. Direct to me, you know, at Seth
'At Seth Pecksniff's, Esquire,' repeated Mr Tigg, taking an exact
note of it with a stump of pencil. 'We said this week, I believe?'
'Yes; or Monday will do,' observed Tom.
'No, no, I beg your pardon. Monday will NOT do,' said Mr Tigg. 'If
we stipulated for this week, Saturday is the latest day. Did we
stipulate for this week?'
'Since you are so particular about it,' said Tom, 'I think we did.'
Mr Tigg added this condition to his memorandum; read the entry over
to himself with a severe frown; and that the transaction might be
the more correct and business-like, appended his initials to the
whole. That done, he assured Mr Pinch that everything was now
perfectly regular; and, after squeezing his hand with great fervour,
Tom entertained enough suspicion that Martin might possibly turn
this interview into a jest, to render him desirous to avoid the
company of that young gentleman for the present. With this view he
took a few turns up and down the skittle-ground, and did not re-
enter the house until Mr Tigg and his friend had quitted it, and the
new pupil and Mark were watching their departure from one of the
'I was just a-saying, sir, that if one could live by it,' observed
Mark, pointing after their late guests, 'that would be the sort of
service for me. Waiting on such individuals as them would be better
than grave-digging, sir.'
'And staying here would be better than either, Mark,' replied Tom.
'So take my advice, and continue to swim easily in smooth water.'
'It's too late to take it now, sir,' said Mark. 'I have broke it to
her, sir. I am off to-morrow morning.'
'Off!' cried Mr Pinch, 'where to?'
'I shall go up to London, sir.'
'What to be?' asked Mr Pinch.
'Well! I don't know yet, sir. Nothing turned up that day I opened
my mind to you, as was at all likely to suit me. All them trades I
thought of was a deal too jolly; there was no credit at all to be
got in any of 'em. I must look for a private service, I suppose,
sir. I might be brought out strong, perhaps, in a serious family,
'Perhaps you might come out rather too strong for a serious family's
'That's possible, sir. If I could get into a wicked family, I might
do myself justice; but the difficulty is to make sure of one's
ground, because a young man can't very well advertise that he wants
a place, and wages an't so much an object as a wicked sitivation; can
'Why, no,' said Mr Pinch, 'I don't think he can.'
'An envious family,' pursued Mark, with a thoughtful face; 'or a
quarrelsome family, or a malicious family, or even a good out-and-
out mean family, would open a field of action as I might do
something in. The man as would have suited me of all other men was
that old gentleman as was took ill here, for he really was a trying
customer. Howsever, I must wait and see what turns up, sir; and
hope for the worst.'
'You are determined to go then?' said Mr Pinch.
'My box is gone already, sir, by the waggon, and I'm going to walk
on to-morrow morning, and get a lift by the day coach when it
overtakes me. So I wish you good-bye, Mr Pinch--and you too, sir--
and all good luck and happiness!'
They both returned his greeting laughingly, and walked home arm-in-
arm. Mr Pinch imparting to his new friend, as they went, such
further particulars of Mark Tapley's whimsical restlessness as the
reader is already acquainted with.
In the meantime Mark, having a shrewd notion that his mistress was
in very low spirits, and that he could not exactly answer for the
consequences of any lengthened TETE-A-TETE in the bar, kept himself
obstinately out of her way all the afternoon and evening. In this
piece of generalship he was very much assisted by the great influx
of company into the taproom; for the news of his intention having
gone abroad, there was a perfect throng there all the evening, and
much drinking of healths and clinking of mugs. At length the house
was closed for the night; and there being now no help for it, Mark
put the best face he could upon the matter, and walked doggedly to
'If I look at her,' said Mark to himself, 'I'm done. I feel that
I'm a-going fast.'
'You have come at last,' said Mrs Lupin.
Aye, Mark said: There he was.
'And you are determined to leave us, Mark?' cried Mrs Lupin.
'Why, yes; I am,' said Mark; keeping his eyes hard upon the floor.
'I thought,' pursued the landlady, with a most engaging hesitation,
'that you had been--fond--of the Dragon?'
'So I am,' said Mark.
'Then,' pursued the hostess--and it really was not an unnatural
inquiry--'why do you desert it?'
But as he gave no manner of answer to this question; not even on its
being repeated; Mrs Lupin put his money into his hand, and asked
him--not unkindly, quite the contrary--what he would take?
It is proverbial that there are certain things which flesh and blood
cannot bear. Such a question as this, propounded in such a manner,
at such a time, and by such a person, proved (at least, as far as,
Mark's flesh and blood were concerned) to be one of them. He looked
up in spite of himself directly; and having once looked up, there
was no looking down again; for of all the tight, plump, buxom,
bright-eyed, dimple-faced landladies that ever shone on earth, there
stood before him then, bodily in that bar, the very pink and
'Why, I tell you what,' said Mark, throwing off all his constraint
in an instant and seizing the hostess round the waist--at which she
was not at all alarmed, for she knew what a good young man he was--
'if I took what I liked most, I should take you. If I only thought
what was best for me, I should take you. If I took what nineteen
young fellows in twenty would be glad to take, and would take at any
price, I should take you. Yes, I should,' cried Mr Tapley, shaking
his head expressively enough, and looking (in a momentary state of
forgetfulness) rather hard at the hostess's ripe lips. 'And no man
wouldn't wonder if I did!'
Mrs Lupin said he amazed her. She was astonished how he could say
such things. She had never thought it of him.
'Why, I never thought if of myself till now!' said Mark, raising his
eyebrows with a look of the merriest possible surprise. 'I always
expected we should part, and never have no explanation; I meant to
do it when I come in here just now; but there's something about you,
as makes a man sensible. Then let us have a word or two together;
letting it be understood beforehand,' he added this in a grave tone,
to prevent the possibility of any mistake, 'that I'm not a-going to
make no love, you know.'
There was for just one second a shade, though not by any means a
dark one, on the landlady's open brow. But it passed off instantly,
in a laugh that came from her very heart.
'Oh, very good!' she said; 'if there is to be no love-making, you
had better take your arm away.'
'Lord, why should I!' cried Mark. 'It's quite innocent.'
'Of course it's innocent,' returned the hostess, 'or I shouldn't
'Very well!' said Mark. 'Then let it be.'
There was so much reason in this that the landlady laughed again,
suffered it to remain, and bade him say what he had to say, and be
quick about it. But he was an impudent fellow, she added.
'Ha ha! I almost think I am!' cried Mark, 'though I never thought so
before. Why, I can say anything to-night!'
'Say what you're going to say if you please, and be quick,' returned
the landlady, 'for I want to get to bed.'
'Why, then, my dear good soul,' said Mark, 'and a kinder woman than
you are never drawed breath--let me see the man as says she did!--
what would be the likely consequence of us two being--'
'Oh nonsense!' cried Mrs Lupin. 'Don't talk about that any more.'
'No, no, but it an't nonsense,' said Mark; 'and I wish you'd attend.
What would be the likely consequence of us two being married? If I
can't be content and comfortable in this here lively Dragon now, is
it to be looked for as I should be then? By no means. Very good.
Then you, even with your good humour, would be always on the fret
and worrit, always uncomfortable in your own mind, always a-thinking
as you was getting too old for my taste, always a-picturing me to
yourself as being chained up to the Dragon door, and wanting to
break away. I don't know that it would be so,' said Mark, 'but I
don't know that it mightn't be. I am a roving sort of chap, I know.
I'm fond of change. I'm always a-thinking that with my good health
and spirits it would be more creditable in me to be jolly where
there's things a-going on to make one dismal. It may be a mistake
of mine you see, but nothing short of trying how it acts will set it
right. Then an't it best that I should go; particular when your
free way has helped me out to say all this, and we can part as good
friends as we have ever been since first I entered this here noble
Dragon, which,' said Mr Tapley in conclusion, 'has my good word and
my good wish to the day of my death!'
The hostess sat quite silent for a little time, but she very soon
put both her hands in Mark's and shook them heartily.
'For you are a good man,' she said; looking into his face with a
smile, which was rather serious for her. 'And I do believe have
been a better friend to me to-night than ever I have had in all my
'Oh! as to that, you know,' said Mark, 'that's nonsense. But love
my heart alive!' he added, looking at her in a sort of rapture, 'if
you ARE that way disposed, what a lot of suitable husbands there is
as you may drive distracted!'
She laughed again at this compliment; and, once more shaking him by
both hands, and bidding him, if he should ever want a friend, to
remember her, turned gayly from the little bar and up the Dragon
'Humming a tune as she goes,' said Mark, listening, 'in case I
should think she's at all put out, and should be made down-hearted.
Come, here's some credit in being jolly, at last!'
With that piece of comfort, very ruefully uttered, he went, in
anything but a jolly manner, to bed.
He rose early next morning, and was a-foot soon after sunrise. But
it was of no use; the whole place was up to see Mark Tapley off; the
boys, the dogs, the children, the old men, the busy people and the
idlers; there they were, all calling out 'Good-b'ye, Mark,' after
their own manner, and all sorry he was going. Somehow he had a kind
of sense that his old mistress was peeping from her chamber-window,
but he couldn't make up his mind to look back.
'Good-b'ye one, good-b'ye all!' cried Mark, waving his hat on the
top of his walking-stick, as he strode at a quick pace up the little
street. 'Hearty chaps them wheelwrights--hurrah! Here's the
butcher's dog a-coming out of the garden--down, old fellow! And Mr
Pinch a-going to his organ--good-b'ye, sir! And the terrier-bitch
from over the way--hie, then, lass! And children enough to hand down
human natur to the latest posterity--good-b'ye, boys and girls!
There's some credit in it now. I'm a-coming out strong at last.
These are the circumstances that would try a ordinary mind; but I'm
uncommon jolly. Not quite as jolly as I could wish to be, but very
near. Good-b'ye! good-b'ye!'
ACCOMPANIES MR PECKSNIFF AND HIS CHARMING DAUGHTERS TO THE CITY OF
LONDON; AND RELATES WHAT FELL OUT UPON THEIR WAY THITHER
When Mr Pecksniff and the two young ladies got into the heavy
coach at the end of the lane, they found it empty, which was a great
comfort; particularly as the outside was quite full and the
passengers looked very frosty. For as Mr Pecksniff justly observed
--when he and his daughters had burrowed their feet deep in the
straw, wrapped themselves to the chin, and pulled up both windows--
it is always satisfactory to feel, in keen weather, that many other
people are not as warm as you are. And this, he said, was quite
natural, and a very beautiful arrangement; not confined to coaches,
but extending itself into many social ramifications. 'For' (he
observed), 'if every one were warm and well-fed, we should lose the
satisfaction of admiring the fortitude with which certain conditions
of men bear cold and hunger. And if we were no better off than
anybody else, what would become of our sense of gratitude; which,'
said Mr Pecksniff with tears in his eyes, as he shook his fist at a
beggar who wanted to get up behind, 'is one of the holiest feelings
of our common nature.'
His children heard with becoming reverence these moral precepts from
the lips of their father, and signified their acquiescence in the
same, by smiles. That he might the better feed and cherish that
sacred flame of gratitude in his breast, Mr Pecksniff remarked that
he would trouble his eldest daughter, even in this early stage of
their journey, for the brandy-bottle. And from the narrow neck of
that stone vessel he imbibed a copious refreshment.
'What are we?' said Mr Pecksniff, 'but coaches? Some of us are slow
'Goodness, Pa!' cried Charity.
'Some of us, I say,' resumed her parent with increased emphasis,
'are slow coaches; some of us are fast coaches. Our passions are
the horses; and rampant animals too--!'
'Really, Pa,' cried both the daughters at once. 'How very
'And rampant animals too' repeated Mr Pecksniff with so much
determination, that he may be said to have exhibited, at the moment
a sort of moral rampancy himself;'--and Virtue is the drag. We start
from The Mother's Arms, and we run to The Dust Shovel.'
When he had said this, Mr Pecksniff, being exhausted, took some
further refreshment. When he had done that, he corked the bottle
tight, with the air of a man who had effectually corked the subject
also; and went to sleep for three stages.
The tendency of mankind when it falls asleep in coaches, is to wake
up cross; to find its legs in its way; and its corns an aggravation.
Mr Pecksniff not being exempt from the common lot of humanity found
himself, at the end of his nap, so decidedly the victim of these
infirmities, that he had an irresistible inclination to visit them
upon his daughters; which he had already begun to do in the shape of
divers random kicks, and other unexpected motions of his shoes, when
the coach stopped, and after a short delay the door was opened.
'Now mind,' said a thin sharp voice in the dark. 'I and my son go
inside, because the roof is full, but you agree only to charge us
outside prices. It's quite understood that we won't pay more. Is
'All right, sir,' replied the guard.
'Is there anybody inside now?' inquired the voice.
'Three passengers,' returned the guard.
'Then I ask the three passengers to witness this bargain, if they
will be so good,' said the voice. 'My boy, I think we may safely
In pursuance of which opinion, two people took their seats in the
vehicle, which was solemnly licensed by Act of Parliament to carry
any six persons who could be got in at the door.
'That was lucky!' whispered the old man, when they moved on again.
'And a great stroke of policy in you to observe it. He, he, he! We
couldn't have gone outside. I should have died of the rheumatism!'
Whether it occurred to the dutiful son that he had in some degree
over-reached himself by contributing to the prolongation of his
father's days; or whether the cold had effected his temper; is
doubtful. But he gave his father such a nudge in reply, that that
good old gentleman was taken with a cough which lasted for full five
minutes without intermission, and goaded Mr Pecksniff to that pitch
of irritation, that he said at last--and very suddenly:
'There is no room! There is really no room in this coach for any
gentleman with a cold in his head!'
'Mine,' said the old man, after a moment's pause, 'is upon my chest,
The voice and manner, together, now that he spoke out; the composure
of the speaker; the presence of his son; and his knowledge of Mr
Pecksniff; afforded a clue to his identity which it was impossible
'Hem! I thought,' said Mr Pecksniff, returning to his usual
mildness, 'that I addressed a stranger. I find that I address a
relative, Mr Anthony Chuzzlewit and his son Mr Jonas--for they, my
dear children, are our travelling companions--will excuse me for an
apparently harsh remark. It is not MY desire to wound the feelings
of any person with whom I am connected in family bonds. I may be a
Hypocrite,' said Mr Pecksniff, cuttingly; 'but I am not a Brute.'
'Pooh, pooh!' said the old man. 'What signifies that word,
Pecksniff? Hypocrite! why, we are all hypocrites. We were all
hypocrites t'other day. I am sure I felt that to be agreed upon
among us, or I shouldn't have called you one. We should not have
been there at all, if we had not been hypocrites. The only
difference between you and the rest was--shall I tell you the
difference between you and the rest now, Pecksniff?'
'If you please, my good sir; if you please.'
'Why, the annoying quality in YOU, is,' said the old man, 'that you
never have a confederate or partner in YOUR juggling; you would
deceive everybody, even those who practise the same art; and have a
way with you, as if you--he, he, he!--as if you really believed
yourself. I'd lay a handsome wager now,' said the old man, 'if I
laid wagers, which I don't and never did, that you keep up
appearances by a tacit understanding, even before your own daughters
here. Now I, when I have a business scheme in hand, tell Jonas what
it is, and we discuss it openly. You're not offended, Pecksniff?'
'Offended, my good sir!' cried that gentleman, as if he had received
the highest compliments that language could convey.
'Are you travelling to London, Mr Pecksniff?' asked the son.
'Yes, Mr Jonas, we are travelling to London. We shall have the
pleasure of your company all the way, I trust?'
'Oh! ecod, you had better ask father that,' said Jonas. 'I am not
a-going to commit myself.'
Mr Pecksniff was, as a matter of course, greatly entertained by this
retort. His mirth having subsided, Mr Jonas gave him to understand
that himself and parent were in fact travelling to their home in the
metropolis; and that, since the memorable day of the great family
gathering, they had been tarrying in that part of the country,
watching the sale of certain eligible investments, which they had
had in their copartnership eye when they came down; for it was their
custom, Mr Jonas said, whenever such a thing was practicable, to
kill two birds with one stone, and never to throw away sprats, but
as bait for whales. When he had communicated to Mr Pecksniff these
pithy scraps of intelligence, he said, 'That if it was all the same
to him, he would turn him over to father, and have a chat with the
gals;' and in furtherance of this polite scheme, he vacated his seat
adjoining that gentleman, and established himself in the opposite
corner, next to the fair Miss Mercy.
The education of Mr Jonas had been conducted from his cradle on the
strictest principles of the main chance. The very first word he
learnt to spell was 'gain,' and the second (when he got into two
syllables), 'money.' But for two results, which were not clearly
foreseen perhaps by his watchful parent in the beginning, his
training may be said to have been unexceptionable. One of these
flaws was, that having been long taught by his father to over-reach
everybody, he had imperceptibly acquired a love of over-reaching that
venerable monitor himself. The other, that from his early habits of
considering everything as a question of property, he had gradually
come to look, with impatience, on his parent as a certain amount of
personal estate, which had no right whatever to be going at large,
but ought to be secured in that particular description of iron safe
which is commonly called a coffin, and banked in the grave.
'Well, cousin!' said Mr Jonas--'Because we ARE cousins, you know, a
few times removed--so you're going to London?'
Miss Mercy replied in the affirmative, pinching her sister's arm at
the same time, and giggling excessively.
'Lots of beaux in London, cousin!' said Mr Jonas, slightly advancing
'Indeed, sir!' cried the young lady. 'They won't hurt us, sir, I
dare say.' And having given him this answer with great demureness
she was so overcome by her own humour, that she was fain to stifle
her merriment in her sister's shawl.
'Merry,' cried that more prudent damsel, 'really I am ashamed of
you. How can you go on so? You wild thing!' At which Miss Merry
only laughed the more, of course.
'I saw a wildness in her eye, t'other day,' said Mr Jonas,
addressing Charity. 'But you're the one to sit solemn! I say--You
were regularly prim, cousin!'
"Oh! The old-fashioned fright!' cried Merry, in a whisper. 'Cherry
my dear, upon my word you must sit next him. I shall die outright
if he talks to me any more; I shall, positively!' To prevent which
fatal consequence, the buoyant creature skipped out of her seat as
she spoke, and squeezed her sister into the place from which she had
'Don't mind crowding me,' cried Mr Jonas. 'I like to be crowded by
gals. Come a little closer, cousin.'
'No, thank you, sir,' said Charity.
'There's that other one a-laughing again,' said Mr Jonas; 'she's a-
laughing at my father, I shouldn't wonder. If he puts on that old
flannel nightcap of his, I don't know what she'll do! Is that my
father a-snoring, Pecksniff?'
'Yes, Mr Jonas.'
'Tread upon his foot, will you be so good?' said the young
gentleman. 'The foot next you's the gouty one.'
Mr Pecksniff hesitating to perform this friendly office, Mr Jonas
did it himself; at the same time crying:
'Come, wake up, father, or you'll be having the nightmare, and
screeching out, I know.--Do you ever have the nightmare, cousin?' he
asked his neighbour, with characteristic gallantry, as he dropped
his voice again.
'Sometimes,' answered Charity. 'Not often.'
'The other one,' said Mr Jonas, after a pause. 'Does SHE ever have
'I don't know,' replied Charity. 'You had better ask her.'
'She laughs so,' said Jonas; 'there's no talking to her. Only hark
how she's a-going on now! You're the sensible one, cousin!'
'Tut, tut!' cried Charity.
'Oh! But you are! You know you are!'
'Mercy is a little giddy,' said Miss Charity. But she'll sober down
'It'll be a very long time, then, if she does at all,' rejoined her
cousin. 'Take a little more room.'
'I am afraid of crowding you,' said Charity. But she took it
notwithstanding; and after one or two remarks on the extreme
heaviness of the coach, and the number of places it stopped at, they
fell into a silence which remained unbroken by any member of the
party until supper-time.
Although Mr Jonas conducted Charity to the hotel and sat himself
beside her at the board, it was pretty clear that he had an eye to
'the other one' also, for he often glanced across at Mercy, and
seemed to draw comparisons between the personal appearance of the
two, which were not unfavourable to the superior plumpness of the
younger sister. He allowed himself no great leisure for this kind
of observation, however, being busily engaged with the supper,
which, as he whispered in his fair companion's ear, was a contract
business, and therefore the more she ate, the better the bargain
was. His father and Mr Pecksniff, probably acting on the same wise
principle, demolished everything that came within their reach, and
by that means acquired a greasy expression of countenance,
indicating contentment, if not repletion, which it was very pleasant
When they could eat no more, Mr Pecksniff and Mr Jonas subscribed
for two sixpenny-worths of hot brandy-and-water, which the latter
gentleman considered a more politic order than one shillingsworth;
there being a chance of their getting more spirit out of the
innkeeper under this arrangement than if it were all in one glass.
Having swallowed his share of the enlivening fluid, Mr Pecksniff,
under pretence of going to see if the coach were ready, went
secretly to the bar, and had his own little bottle filled, in order
that he might refresh himself at leisure in the dark coach without
These arrangements concluded, and the coach being ready, they got
into their old places and jogged on again. But before he composed
himself for a nap, Mr Pecksniff delivered a kind of grace after
meat, in these words:
'The process of digestion, as I have been informed by anatomical
friends, is one of the most wonderful works of nature. I do not
know how it may be with others, but it is a great satisfaction to me
to know, when regaling on my humble fare, that I am putting in
motion the most beautiful machinery with which we have any
acquaintance. I really feel at such times as if I was doing a
public service. When I have wound myself up, if I may employ such a
term,' said Mr Pecksniff with exquisite tenderness, 'and know that I
am Going, I feel that in the lesson afforded by the works within me,
I am a Benefactor to my Kind!'
As nothing could be added to this, nothing was said; and Mr
Pecksniff, exulting, it may be presumed, in his moral utility, went
to sleep again.
The rest of the night wore away in the usual manner. Mr Pecksniff
and Old Anthony kept tumbling against each other and waking up much
terrified, or crushed their heads in opposite corners of the coach
and strangely tattooed the surface of their faces--Heaven knows how
--in their sleep. The coach stopped and went on, and went on and
stopped, times out of number. Passengers got up and passengers got
down, and fresh horses came and went and came again, with scarcely
any interval between each team as it seemed to those who were
dozing, and with a gap of a whole night between every one as it
seemed to those who were broad awake. At length they began to jolt
and rumble over horribly uneven stones, and Mr Pecksniff looking out
of window said it was to-morrow morning, and they were there.
Very soon afterwards the coach stopped at the office in the city;
and the street in which it was situated was already in a bustle,
that fully bore out Mr Pecksniff's words about its being morning,
though for any signs of day yet appearing in the sky it might have
been midnight. There was a dense fog too; as if it were a city in
the clouds, which they had been travelling to all night up a magic
beanstalk; and there was a thick crust upon the pavement like
oilcake; which, one of the outsides (mad, no doubt) said to another
(his keeper, of course), was Snow.
Taking a confused leave of Anthony and his son, and leaving the
luggage of himself and daughters at the office to be called for
afterwards, Mr Pecksniff, with one of the young ladies under each
arm, dived across the street, and then across other streets, and so
up the queerest courts, and down the strangest alleys and under the
blindest archways, in a kind of frenzy; now skipping over a kennel,
now running for his life from a coach and horses; now thinking he
had lost his way, now thinking he had found it; now in a state of
the highest confidence, now despondent to the last degree, but
always in a great perspiration and flurry; until at length they
stopped in a kind of paved yard near the Monument. That is to say,
Mr Pecksniff told them so; for as to anything they could see of the
Monument, or anything else but the buildings close at hand, they
might as well have been playing blindman's buff at Salisbury.
Mr Pecksniff looked about him for a moment, and then knocked at the
door of a very dingy edifice, even among the choice collection of
dingy edifices at hand; on the front of which was a little oval
board like a tea-tray, with this inscription--'Commercial Boarding-
House: M. Todgers.'
It seemed that M. Todgers was not up yet, for Mr Pecksniff knocked
twice and rang thrice, without making any impression on anything but
a dog over the way. At last a chain and some bolts were withdrawn
with a rusty noise, as if the weather had made the very fastenings
hoarse, and a small boy with a large red head, and no nose to speak
of, and a very dirty Wellington boot on his left arm, appeared; who
(being surprised) rubbed the nose just mentioned with the back of a
shoe-brush, and said nothing.
'Still a-bed my man?' asked Mr Pecksniff.
'Still a-bed!' replied the boy. 'I wish they wos still a-bed.
They're very noisy a-bed; all calling for their boots at once. I
thought you was the Paper, and wondered why you didn't shove
yourself through the grating as usual. What do you want?'
Considering his years, which were tender, the youth may be said to
have preferred this question sternly, and in something of a defiant
manner. But Mr Pecksniff, without taking umbrage at his bearing put
a card in his hand, and bade him take that upstairs, and show them
in the meanwhile into a room where there was a fire.
'Or if there's one in the eating parlour,' said Mr Pecksniff, 'I can
find it myself.' So he led his daughters, without waiting for any
further introduction, into a room on the ground-floor, where a
table-cloth (rather a tight and scanty fit in reference to the table
it covered) was already spread for breakfast; displaying a mighty
dish of pink boiled beef; an instance of that particular style of
loaf which is known to housekeepers as a slack-baked, crummy
quartern; a liberal provision of cups and saucers; and the usual
Inside the fender were some half-dozen pairs of shoes and boots, of
various sizes, just cleaned and turned with the soles upwards to
dry; and a pair of short black gaiters, on one of which was chalked
--in sport, it would appear, by some gentleman who had slipped down
for the purpose, pending his toilet, and gone up again--'Jinkins's
Particular,' while the other exhibited a sketch in profile, claiming
to be the portrait of Jinkins himself.
M. Todgers's Commercial Boarding-House was a house of that sort
which is likely to be dark at any time; but that morning it was
especially dark. There was an odd smell in the passage, as if the
concentrated essence of all the dinners that had been cooked in the
kitchen since the house was built, lingered at the top of the
kitchen stairs to that hour, and like the Black Friar in Don Juan,
'wouldn't be driven away.' In particular, there was a sensation of
cabbage; as if all the greens that had ever been boiled there, were
evergreens, and flourished in immortal strength. The parlour was
wainscoted, and communicated to strangers a magnetic and instinctive
consciousness of rats and mice. The staircase was very gloomy and
very broad, with balustrades so thick and heavy that they would have
served for a bridge. In a sombre corner on the first landing, stood
a gruff old giant of a clock, with a preposterous coronet of three
brass balls on his head; whom few had ever seen--none ever looked in
the face--and who seemed to continue his heavy tick for no other
reason than to warn heedless people from running into him
accidentally. It had not been papered or painted, hadn't Todgers's,
within the memory of man. It was very black, begrimed, and mouldy.
And, at the top of the staircase, was an old, disjointed, rickety,
ill-favoured skylight, patched and mended in all kinds of ways,
which looked distrustfully down at everything that passed below, and
covered Todgers's up as if it were a sort of human cucumber-frame,
and only people of a peculiar growth were reared there.
Mr Pecksniff and his fair daughters had not stood warming themselves
at the fire ten minutes, when the sound of feet was heard upon the
stairs, and the presiding deity of the establishment came hurrying
M. Todgers was a lady, rather a bony and hard-featured lady, with a
row of curls in front of her head, shaped like little barrels of
beer; and on the top of it something made of net--you couldn't call
it a cap exactly--which looked like a black cobweb. She had a
little basket on her arm, and in it a bunch of keys that jingled as
she came. In her other hand she bore a flaming tallow candle,
which, after surveying Mr Pecksniff for one instant by its light,
she put down upon the table, to the end that she might receive him
with the greater cordiality.
'Mr Pecksniff!' cried Mrs Todgers. 'Welcome to London! Who would
have thought of such a visit as this, after so--dear, dear!--so many
years! How do you DO, Mr Pecksniff?'
'As well as ever; and as glad to see you, as ever;' Mr Pecksniff
made response. 'Why, you are younger than you used to be!'
'YOU are, I am sure!' said Mrs Todgers. 'You're not a bit changed.'
'What do you say to this?' cried Mr Pecksniff, stretching out his
hand towards the young ladies. 'Does this make me no older?'
'Not your daughters!' exclaimed the lady, raising her hands and
clasping them. 'Oh, no, Mr Pecksniff! Your second, and her
Mr Pecksniff smiled complacently; shook his head; and said, 'My
daughters, Mrs Todgers. Merely my daughters.'
'Ah!' sighed the good lady, 'I must believe you, for now I look at
'em I think I should have known 'em anywhere. My dear Miss
Pecksniffs, how happy your Pa has made me!'
She hugged them both; and being by this time overpowered by her
feelings or the inclemency of the morning, jerked a little pocket
handkerchief out of the little basket, and applied the same to her
'Now, my good madam,' said Mr Pecksniff, 'I know the rules of your
establishment, and that you only receive gentlemen boarders. But it
occurred to me, when I left home, that perhaps you would give my
daughters house room, and make an exception in their favour.'
'Perhaps?' cried Mrs Todgers ecstatically. 'Perhaps?'
'I may say then, that I was sure you would,' said Mr Pecksniff. 'I
know that you have a little room of your own, and that they can be
comfortable there, without appearing at the general table.'
'Dear girls!' said Mrs Todgers. 'I must take that liberty once
Mrs Todgers meant by this that she must embrace them once more,
which she accordingly did with great ardour. But the truth was that
the house being full with the exception of one bed, which would now
be occupied by Mr Pecksniff, she wanted time for consideration; and
so much time too (for it was a knotty point how to dispose of them),
that even when this second embrace was over, she stood for some
moments gazing at the sisters, with affection beaming in one eye,
and calculation shining out of the other.
'I think I know how to arrange it,' said Mrs Todgers, at length. 'A
sofa bedstead in the little third room which opens from my own
parlour.--Oh, you dear girls!'
Thereupon she embraced them once more, observing that she could not
decide which was most like their poor mother (which was highly
probable, seeing that she had never beheld that lady), but that she
rather thought the youngest was; and then she said that as the
gentlemen would be down directly, and the ladies were fatigued with
travelling, would they step into her room at once?
It was on the same floor; being, in fact, the back parlour; and had,
as Mrs Todgers said, the great advantage (in London) of not being
overlooked; as they would see when the fog cleared off. Nor was
this a vainglorious boast, for it commanded at a perspective of two
feet, a brown wall with a black cistern on the top. The sleeping
apartment designed for the young ladies was approached from this
chamber by a mightily convenient little door, which would only open
when fallen against by a strong person. It commanded from a similar
point of sight another angle of the wall, and another side of the
cistern. 'Not the damp side,' said Mrs Todgers. 'THAT is Mr
In the first of these sanctuaries a fire was speedily kindled by the
youthful porter, who, whistling at his work in the absence of Mrs
Todgers (not to mention his sketching figures on his corduroys with
burnt firewood), and being afterwards taken by that lady in the
fact, was dismissed with a box on his ears. Having prepared
breakfast for the young ladies with her own hands, she withdrew to
preside in the other room; where the joke at Mr Jinkins's expense
seemed to be proceeding rather noisily.
'I won't ask you yet, my dears,' said Mr Pecksniff, looking in at
the door, 'how you like London. Shall I?'
'We haven't seen much of it, Pa!' cried Merry.
'Nothing, I hope,' said Cherry. (Both very miserably.)
'Indeed,' said Mr Pecksniff, 'that's true. We have our pleasure,
and our business too, before us. All in good time. All in good
Whether Mr Pecksniff's business in London was as strictly
professional as he had given his new pupil to understand, we shall
see, to adopt that worthy man's phraseology, 'all in good time.'
TOWN AND TODGER'S