Part 7 out of 21
"Not at all, my dear," says Mr. Snagsby.
Here, Guster, who had been looking out of the bedroom window, comes
rustling and scratching down the little staircase like a popular
ghost, and falling flushed into the drawing-room, announces that
Mr. and Mrs. Chadband have appeared in the court. The bell at the
inner door in the passage immediately thereafter tinkling, she is
admonished by Mrs. Snagsby, on pain of instant reconsignment to her
patron saint, not to omit the ceremony of announcement. Much
discomposed in her nerves (which were previously in the best order)
by this threat, she so fearfully mutilates that point of state as
to announce "Mr. and Mrs. Cheeseming, least which, Imeantersay,
whatsername!" and retires conscience-stricken from the presence.
Mr. Chadband is a large yellow man with a fat smile and a general
appearance of having a good deal of train oil in his system. Mrs.
Chadband is a stern, severe-looking, silent woman. Mr. Chadband
moves softly and cumbrously, not unlike a bear who has been taught
to walk upright. He is very much embarrassed about the arms, as if
they were inconvenient to him and he wanted to grovel, is very much
in a perspiration about the head, and never speaks without first
putting up his great hand, as delivering a token to his hearers
that he is going to edify them.
"My friends," says Mr. Chadband, "peace be on this house! On the
master thereof, on the mistress thereof, on the young maidens, and
on the young men! My friends, why do I wish for peace? What is
peace? Is it war? No. Is it strife? No. Is it lovely, and
gentle, and beautiful, and pleasant, and serene, and joyful? Oh,
yes! Therefore, my friends, I wish for peace, upon you and upon
In consequence of Mrs. Snagsby looking deeply edified, Mr. Snagsby
thinks it expedient on the whole to say amen, which is well
"Now, my friends," proceeds Mr. Chadband, "since I am upon this
Guster presents herself. Mrs. Snagsby, in a spectral bass voice
and without removing her eyes from Chadband, says with dreadful
distinctness, "Go away!"
"Now, my friends," says Chadband, "since I am upon this theme, and
in my lowly path improving it--"
Guster is heard unaccountably to murmur "one thousing seven hundred
and eighty-two." The spectral voice repeats more solemnly, "Go
"Now, my friends," says Mr. Chadband, "we will inquire in a spirit
Still Guster reiterates "one thousing seven hundred and eighty-
Mr. Chadband, pausing with the resignation of a man accustomed to
be persecuted and languidly folding up his chin into his fat smile,
says, "Let us hear the maiden! Speak, maiden!"
"One thousing seven hundred and eighty-two, if you please, sir.
Which he wish to know what the shilling ware for," says Guster,
"For?" returns Mrs. Chadband. "For his fare!"
Guster replied that "he insistes on one and eightpence or on
summonsizzing the party." Mrs. Snagsby and Mrs. Chadband are
proceeding to grow shrill in indignation when Mr. Chadband quiets
the tumult by lifting up his hand.
"My friends," says he, "I remember a duty unfulfilled yesterday.
It is right that I should be chastened in some penalty. I ought
not to murmur. Rachael, pay the eightpence!"
While Mrs. Snagsby, drawing her breath, looks hard at Mr. Snagsby,
as who should say, "You hear this apostle!" and while Mr. Chadband
glows with humility and train oil, Mrs. Chadband pays the money.
It is Mr. Chadband's habit--it is the head and front of his
pretensions indeed--to keep this sort of debtor and creditor
account in the smallest items and to post it publicly on the most
"My friends," says Chadband, "eightpence is not much; it might
justly have been one and fourpence; it might justly have been half
a crown. O let us be joyful, joyful! O let us be joyful!"
With which remark, which appears from its sound to be an extract in
verse, Mr. Chadband stalks to the table, and before taking a chair,
lifts up his admonitory hand.
"My friends," says he, "what is this which we now behold as being
spread before us? Refreshment. Do we need refreshment then, my
friends? We do. And why do we need refreshment, my friends?
Because we are but mortal, because we are but sinful, because we
are but of the earth, because we are not of the air. Can we fly,
my friends? We cannot. Why can we not fly, my friends?"
Mr. Snagsby, presuming on the success of his last point, ventures
to observe in a cheerful and rather knowing tone, "No wings." But
is immediately frowned down by Mrs. Snagsby.
"I say, my friends," pursues Mr. Chadband, utterly rejecting and
obliterating Mr. Snagsby's suggestion, "why can we not fly? Is it
because we are calculated to walk? It is. Could we walk, my
friends, without strength? We could not. What should we do
without strength, my friends? Our legs would refuse to bear us,
our knees would double up, our ankles would turn over, and we
should come to the ground. Then from whence, my friends, in a
human point of view, do we derive the strength that is necessary to
our limbs? Is it," says Chadband, glancing over the table, "from
bread in various forms, from butter which is churned from the milk
which is yielded unto us by the cow, from the eggs which are laid
by the fowl, from ham, from tongue, from sausage, and from such
like? It is. Then let us partake of the good things which are set
The persecutors denied that there was any particular gift in Mr.
Chadband's piling verbose flights of stairs, one upon another,
after this fashion. But this can only be received as a proof of
their determination to persecute, since it must be within
everybody's experience that the Chadband style of oratory is widely
received and much admired.
Mr. Chadband, however, having concluded for the present, sits down
at Mr. Snagsby's table and lays about him prodigiously. The
conversion of nutriment of any sort into oil of the quality already
mentioned appears to be a process so inseparable from the
constitution of this exemplary vessel that in beginning to eat and
drink, he may be described as always becoming a kind of
considerable oil mills or other large factory for the production of
that article on a wholesale scale. On the present evening of the
long vacation, in Cook's Court, Cursitor Street, he does such a
powerful stroke of business that the warehouse appears to be quite
full when the works cease.
At this period of the entertainment, Guster, who has never
recovered her first failure, but has neglected no possible or
impossible means of bringing the establishment and herself into
contempt--among which may be briefly enumerated her unexpectedly
performing clashing military music on Mr. Chadband's head with
plates, and afterwards crowning that gentleman with muffins--at
which period of the entertainment, Guster whispers Mr. Snagsby that
he is wanted.
"And being wanted in the--not to put too fine a point upon it--in
the shop," says Mr. Snagsby, rising, "perhaps this good company
will excuse me for half a minute."
Mr. Snagsby descends and finds the two 'prentices intently
contemplating a police constable, who holds a ragged boy by the
"Why, bless my heart," says Mr. Snagsby, "what's the matter!"
"This boy," says the constable, "although he's repeatedly told to,
won't move on--"
"I'm always a-moving on, sar, cries the boy, wiping away his grimy
tears with his arm. "I've always been a-moving and a-moving on,
ever since I was born. Where can I possibly move to, sir, more nor
I do move!"
"He won't move on," says the constable calmly, with a slight
professional hitch of his neck involving its better settlement in
his stiff stock, "although he has been repeatedly cautioned, and
therefore I am obliged to take him into custody. He's as obstinate
a young gonoph as I know. He WON'T move on."
"Oh, my eye! Where can I move to!" cries the boy, clutching quite
desperately at his hair and beating his bare feet upon the floor of
Mr. Snagsby's passage.
"Don't you come none of that or I shall make blessed short work of
you!" says the constable, giving him a passionless shake. "My
instructions are that you are to move on. I have told you so five
"But where?" cries the boy.
"Well! Really, constable, you know," says Mr. Snagsby wistfully,
and coughing behind his hand his cough of great perplexity and
doubt, "really, that does seem a question. Where, you know?"
"My instructions don't go to that," replies the constable. "My
instructions are that this boy is to move on."
Do you hear, Jo? It is nothing to you or to any one else that the
great lights of the parliamentary sky have failed for some few
years in this business to set you the example of moving on. The
one grand recipe remains for you--the profound philosophical
prescription--the be-all and the end-all of your strange existence
upon earth. Move on! You are by no means to move off, Jo, for the
great lights can't at all agree about that. Move on!
Mr. Snagsby says nothing to this effect, says nothing at all
indeed, but coughs his forlornest cough, expressive of no
thoroughfare in any direction. By this time Mr. and Mrs. Chadband
and Mrs. Snagsby, hearing the altercation, have appeared upon the
stairs. Guster having never left the end of the passage, the whole
household are assembled.
"The simple question is, sir," says the constable, "whether you
know this boy. He says you do."
Mrs. Snagsby, from her elevation, instantly cries out, "No he
"My lit-tle woman!" says Mr. Snagsby, looking up the staircase.
"My love, permit me! Pray have a moment's patience, my dear. I do
know something of this lad, and in what I know of him, I can't say
that there's any harm; perhaps on the contrary, constable." To
whom the law-stationer relates his Joful and woful experience,
suppressing the half-crown fact.
"Well!" says the constable, "so far, it seems, he had grounds for
what he said. When I took him into custody up in Holborn, he said
you knew him. Upon that, a young man who was in the crowd said he
was acquainted with you, and you were a respectable housekeeper,
and if I'd call and make the inquiry, he'd appear. The young man
don't seem inclined to keep his word, but-- Oh! Here IS the young
Enter Mr. Guppy, who nods to Mr. Snagsby and touches his hat with
the chivalry of clerkship to the ladies on the stairs.
"I was strolling away from the office just now when I found this
row going on," says Mr. Guppy to the law-stationer, "and as your
name was mentioned, I thought it was right the thing should be
"It was very good-natured of you, sir," says Mr. Snagsby, "and I am
obliged to you." And Mr. Snagsby again relates his experience,
again suppressing the half-crown fact.
"Now, I know where you live," says the constable, then, to Jo.
"You live down in Tom-all-Alone's. That's a nice innocent place to
live in, ain't it?"
"I can't go and live in no nicer place, sir," replies Jo. "They
wouldn't have nothink to say to me if I wos to go to a nice
innocent place fur to live. Who ud go and let a nice innocent
lodging to such a reg'lar one as me!"
"You are very poor, ain't you?" says the constable.
"Yes, I am indeed, sir, wery poor in gin'ral," replies Jo. "I
leave you to judge now! I shook these two half-crowns out of him,"
says the constable, producing them to the company, "in only putting
my hand upon him!"
"They're wot's left, Mr. Snagsby," says Jo, "out of a sov-ring as
wos give me by a lady in a wale as sed she wos a servant and as
come to my crossin one night and asked to be showd this 'ere ouse
and the ouse wot him as you giv the writin to died at, and the
berrin-ground wot he's berrid in. She ses to me she ses 'are you
the boy at the inkwhich?' she ses. I ses 'yes' I ses. She ses to
me she ses 'can you show me all them places?' I ses 'yes I can' I
ses. And she ses to me 'do it' and I dun it and she giv me a
sov'ring and hooked it. And I an't had much of the sov'ring
neither," says Jo, with dirty tears, "fur I had to pay five bob,
down in Tom-all-Alone's, afore they'd square it fur to give me
change, and then a young man he thieved another five while I was
asleep and another boy he thieved ninepence and the landlord he
stood drains round with a lot more on it."
"You don't expect anybody to believe this, about the lady and the
sovereign, do you?" says the constable, eyeing him aside with
"I don't know as I do, sir," replies Jo. "I don't expect nothink
at all, sir, much, but that's the true hist'ry on it."
"You see what he is!" the constable observes to the audience.
"Well, Mr. Snagsby, if I don't lock him up this time, will you
engage for his moving on?"
"No!" cries Mrs. Snagsby from the stairs.
"My little woman!" pleads her husband. "Constable, I have no doubt
he'll move on. You know you really must do it," says Mr. Snagsby.
"I'm everyways agreeable, sir," says the hapless Jo.
"Do it, then," observes the constable. "You know what you have got
to do. Do it! And recollect you won't get off so easy next time.
Catch hold of your money. Now, the sooner you're five mile off,
the better for all parties."
With this farewell hint and pointing generally to the setting sun
as a likely place to move on to, the constable bids his auditors
good afternoon and makes the echoes of Cook's Court perform slow
music for him as he walks away on the shady side, carrying his
iron-bound hat in his hand for a little ventilation.
Now, Jo's improbable story concerning the lady and the sovereign
has awakened more or less the curiosity of all the company. Mr.
Guppy, who has an inquiring mind in matters of evidence and who has
been suffering severely from the lassitude of the long vacation,
takes that interest in the case that he enters on a regular cross-
examination of the witness, which is found so interesting by the
ladies that Mrs. Snagsby politely invites him to step upstairs and
drink a cup of tea, if he will excuse the disarranged state of the
tea-table, consequent on their previous exertions. Mr. Guppy
yielding his assent to this proposal, Jo is requested to follow
into the drawing-room doorway, where Mr. Guppy takes him in hand as
a witness, patting him into this shape, that shape, and the other
shape like a butterman dealing with so much butter, and worrying
him according to the best models. Nor is the examination unlike
many such model displays, both in respect of its eliciting nothing
and of its being lengthy, for Mr. Guppy is sensible of his talent,
and Mrs. Snagsby feels not only that it gratifies her inquisitive
disposition, but that it lifts her husband's establishment higher
up in the law. During the progress of this keen encounter, the
vessel Chadband, being merely engaged in the oil trade, gets
aground and waits to be floated off.
"Well!" says Mr. Guppy. "Either this boy sticks to it like
cobbler's-wax or there is something out of the common here that
beats anything that ever came into my way at Kenge and Carboy's."
Mrs. Chadband whispers Mrs. Snagsby, who exclaims, "You don't say
"For years!" replied Mrs. Chadband.
"Has known Kenge and Carboy's office for years," Mrs. Snagsby
triumphantly explains to Mr. Guppy. "Mrs. Chadband--this
gentleman's wife--Reverend Mr. Chadband."
"Oh, indeed!" says Mr. Guppy.
"Before I married my present husband," says Mrs. Chadband.
"Was you a party in anything, ma'am?" says Mr. Guppy, transferring
"NOT a party in anything, ma'am?" says Mr. Guppy.
Mrs. Chadband shakes her head.
"Perhaps you were acquainted with somebody who was a party in
something, ma'am?" says Mr. Guppy, who likes nothing better than to
model his conversation on forensic principles.
"Not exactly that, either," replies Mrs. Chadband, humouring the
joke with a hard-favoured smile.
"Not exactly that, either!" repeats Mr. Guppy. "Very good. Pray,
ma'am, was it a lady of your acquaintance who had some transactions
(we will not at present say what transactions) with Kenge and
Carboy's office, or was it a gentleman of your acquaintance? Take
time, ma'am. We shall come to it presently. Man or woman, ma'am?"
"Neither," says Mrs. Chadband as before.
"Oh! A child!" says Mr. Guppy, throwing on the admiring Mrs.
Snagsby the regular acute professional eye which is thrown on
British jurymen. "Now, ma'am, perhaps you'll have the kindness to
tell us WHAT child."
"You have got it at last, sir," says Mrs. Chadband with another
hard-favoured smile. "Well, sir, it was before your time, most
likely, judging from your appearance. I was left in charge of a
child named Esther Summerson, who was put out in life by Messrs.
Kenge and Carboy."
"Miss Summerson, ma'am!" cries Mr. Guppy, excited.
"I call her Esther Summerson," says Mrs. Chadband with austerity.
"There was no Miss-ing of the girl in my time. It was Esther.
'Esther, do this! Esther, do that!' and she was made to do it."
"My dear ma'am," returns Mr. Guppy, moving across the small
apartment, "the humble individual who now addresses you received
that young lady in London when she first came here from the
establishment to which you have alluded. Allow me to have the
pleasure of taking you by the hand."
Mr. Chadband, at last seeing his opportunity, makes his accustomed
signal and rises with a smoking head, which he dabs with his
pocket-handkerchief. Mrs. Snagsby whispers "Hush!"
"My friends," says Chadband, "we have partaken in moderation"
(which was certainly not the case so far as he was concerned) "of
the comforts which have been provided for us. May this house live
upon the fatness of the land; may corn and wine be plentiful
therein; may it grow, may it thrive, may it prosper, may it
advance, may it proceed, may it press forward! But, my friends,
have we partaken of any-hing else? We have. My friends, of what
else have we partaken? Of spiritual profit? Yes. From whence
have we derived that spiritual profit? My young friend, stand
Jo, thus apostrophized, gives a slouch backward, and another slouch
forward, and another slouch to each side, and confronts the
eloquent Chadband with evident doubts of his intentions.
"My young friend," says Chadband, "you are to us a pearl, you are
to us a diamond, you are to us a gem, you are to us a jewel. And
why, my young friend?"
"I don't know," replies Jo. "I don't know nothink."
"My young friend," says Chadband, "it is because you know nothing
that you are to us a gem and jewel. For what are you, my young
friend? Are you a beast of the field? No. A bird of the air?
No. A fish of the sea or river? No. You are a human boy, my
young friend. A human boy. O glorious to be a human boy! And why
glorious, my young friend? Because you are capable of receiving
the lessons of wisdom, because you are capable of profiting by this
discourse which I now deliver for your good, because you are not a
stick, or a staff, or a stock, or a stone, or a post, or a pillar.
O running stream of sparkling joy
To be a soaring human boy!
And do you cool yourself in that stream now, my young friend? No.
Why do you not cool yourself in that stream now? Because you are
in a state of darkness, because you are in a state of obscurity,
because you are in a state of sinfulness, because you are in a
state of bondage. My young friend, what is bondage? Let us, in a
spirit of love, inquire."
At this threatening stage of the discourse, Jo, who seems to have
been gradually going out of his mind, smears his right arm over his
face and gives a terrible yawn. Mrs. Snagsby indignantly expresses
her belief that he is a limb of the arch-fiend.
"My friends," says Mr. Chadband with his persecuted chin folding
itself into its fat smile again as he looks round, "it is right
that I should be humbled, it is right that I should be tried, it is
right that I should be mortified, it is right that I should be
corrected. I stumbled, on Sabbath last, when I thought with pride
of my three hours' improving. The account is now favourably
balanced: my creditor has accepted a composition. O let us be
joyful, joyful! O let us be joyful!"
Great sensation on the part of Mrs. Snagsby.
"My friends," says Chadband, looking round him in conclusion, "I
will not proceed with my young friend now. Will you come to-
morrow, my young friend, and inquire of this good lady where I am
to be found to deliver a discourse unto you, and will you come like
the thirsty swallow upon the next day, and upon the day after that,
and upon the day after that, and upon many pleasant days, to hear
discourses?" (This with a cow-like lightness.)
Jo, whose immediate object seems to be to get away on any terms,
gives a shuffling nod. Mr. Guppy then throws him a penny, and Mrs.
Snagsby calls to Guster to see him safely out of the house. But
before he goes downstairs, Mr. Snagsby loads him with some broken
meats from the table, which he carries away, hugging in his arms.
So, Mr. Chadband--of whom the persecutors say that it is no wonder
he should go on for any length of time uttering such abominable
nonsense, but that the wonder rather is that he should ever leave
off, having once the audacity to begin--retires into private life
until he invests a little capital of supper in the oil-trade. Jo
moves on, through the long vacation, down to Blackfriars Bridge,
where he finds a baking stony corner wherein to settle to his
And there he sits, munching and gnawing, and looking up at the
great cross on the summit of St. Paul's Cathedral, glittering above
a red-and-violet-tinted cloud of smoke. From the boy's face one
might suppose that sacred emblem to be, in his eyes, the crowning
confusion of the great, confused city--so golden, so high up, so
far out of his reach. There he sits, the sun going down, the river
running fast, the crowd flowing by him in two streams--everything
moving on to some purpose and to one end--until he is stirred up
and told to "move on" too.
A New Lodger
The long vacation saunters on towards term-time like an idle river
very leisurely strolling down a flat country to the sea. Mr. Guppy
saunters along with it congenially. He has blunted the blade of
his penknife and broken the point off by sticking that instrument
into his desk in every direction. Not that he bears the desk any
ill will, but he must do something, and it must be something of an
unexciting nature, which will lay neither his physical nor his
intellectual energies under too heavy contribution. He finds that
nothing agrees with him so well as to make little gyrations on one
leg of his stool, and stab his desk, and gape.
Kenge and Carboy are out of town, and the articled clerk has taken
out a shooting license and gone down to his father's, and Mr.
Guppy's two fellow-stipendiaries are away on leave. Mr. Guppy and
Mr. Richard Carstone divide the dignity of the office. But Mr.
Carstone is for the time being established in Kenge's room, whereat
Mr. Guppy chafes. So exceedingly that he with biting sarcasm
informs his mother, in the confidential moments when he sups with
her off a lobster and lettuce in the Old Street Road, that he is
afraid the office is hardly good enough for swells, and that if he
had known there was a swell coming, he would have got it painted.
Mr. Guppy suspects everybody who enters on the occupation of a
stool in Kenge and Carboy's office of entertaining, as a matter of
course, sinister designs upon him. He is clear that every such
person wants to depose him. If he be ever asked how, why, when, or
wherefore, he shuts up one eye and shakes his head. On the
strength of these profound views, he in the most ingenious manner
takes infinite pains to counterplot when there is no plot, and
plays the deepest games of chess without any adversary.
It is a source of much gratification to Mr. Guppy, therefore, to
find the new-comer constantly poring over the papers in Jarndyce
and Jarndyce, for he well knows that nothing but confusion and
failure can come of that. His satisfaction communicates itself to
a third saunterer through the long vacation in Kenge and Carboy's
office, to wit, Young Smallweed.
Whether Young Smallweed (metaphorically called Small and eke Chick
Weed, as it were jocularly to express a fledgling) was ever a boy
is much doubted in Lincoln's Inn. He is now something under
fifteen and an old limb of the law. He is facetiously understood
to entertain a passion for a lady at a cigar-shop in the
neighbourhood of Chancery Lane and for her sake to have broken off
a contract with another lady, to whom he had been engaged some
years. He is a town-made article, of small stature and weazen
features, but may be perceived from a considerable distance by
means of his very tall hat. To become a Guppy is the object of his
ambition. He dresses at that gentleman (by whom he is patronized),
talks at him, walks at him, founds himself entirely on him. He is
honoured with Mr. Guppy's particular confidence and occasionally
advises him, from the deep wells of his experience, on difficult
points in private life.
Mr. Guppy has been lolling out of window all the morning after
trying all the stools in succession and finding none of them easy,
and after several times putting his head into the iron safe with a
notion of cooling it. Mr. Smallweed has been twice dispatched for
effervescent drinks, and has twice mixed them in the two official
tumblers and stirred them up with the ruler. Mr. Guppy propounds
for Mr. Smallweed's consideration the paradox that the more you
drink the thirstier you are and reclines his head upon the window-
sill in a state of hopeless languor.
While thus looking out into the shade of Old Square, Lincoln's Inn,
surveying the intolerable bricks and mortar, Mr. Guppy becomes
conscious of a manly whisker emerging from the cloistered walk
below and turning itself up in the direction of his face. At the
same time, a low whistle is wafted through the Inn and a suppressed
voice cries, "Hip! Gup-py!"
"Why, you don't mean it!" says Mr. Guppy, aroused. "Small! Here's
Jobling!" Small's head looks out of window too and nods to
"Where have you sprung up from?" inquires Mr. Guppy.
"From the market-gardens down by Deptford. I can't stand it any
longer. I must enlist. I say! I wish you'd lend me half a crown.
Upon my soul, I'm hungry."
Jobling looks hungry and also has the appearance of having run to
seed in the market-gardens down by Deptford.
"I say! Just throw out half a crown if you have got one to spare.
I want to get some dinner."
"Will you come and dine with me?" says Mr. Guppy, throwing out the
coin, which Mr. Jobling catches neatly.
"How long should I have to hold out?" says Jobling.
"Not half an hour. I am only waiting here till the enemy goes,
returns Mr. Guppy, butting inward with his head.
"A new one. Going to be articled. Will you wait?"
"Can you give a fellow anything to read in the meantime?" says Mr
Smallweed suggests the law list. But Mr. Jobling declares with
much earnestness that he "can't stand it."
"You shall have the paper," says Mr. Guppy. "He shall bring it
down. But you had better not be seen about here. Sit on our
staircase and read. It's a quiet place."
Jobling nods intelligence and acquiescence. The sagacious
Smallweed supplies him with the newspaper and occasionally drops
his eye upon him from the landing as a precaution against his
becoming disgusted with waiting and making an untimely departure.
At last the enemy retreats, and then Smallweed fetches Mr. Jobling
"Well, and how are you?" says Mr. Guppy, shaking hands with him.
"So, so. How are you?"
Mr. Guppy replying that he is not much to boast of, Mr. Jobling
ventures on the question, "How is SHE?" This Mr. Guppy resents as
a liberty, retorting, "Jobling, there ARE chords in the human
mind--" Jobling begs pardon.
"Any subject but that!" says Mr. Guppy with a gloomy enjoyment of
his injury. "For there ARE chords, Jobling--"
Mr. Jobling begs pardon again.
During this short colloquy, the active Smallweed, who is of the
dinner party, has written in legal characters on a slip of paper,
"Return immediately." This notification to all whom it may
concern, he inserts in the letter-box, and then putting on the tall
hat at the angle of inclination at which Mr. Guppy wears his,
informs his patron that they may now make themselves scarce.
Accordingly they betake themselves to a neighbouring dining-house,
of the class known among its frequenters by the denomination slap-
bang, where the waitress, a bouncing young female of forty, is
supposed to have made some impression on the susceptible Smallweed,
of whom it may be remarked that he is a weird changeling to whom
years are nothing. He stands precociously possessed of centuries
of owlish wisdom. If he ever lay in a cradle, it seems as if he
must have lain there in a tail-coat. He has an old, old eye, has
Smallweed; and he drinks and smokes in a monkeyish way; and his
neck is stiff in his collar; and he is never to be taken in; and he
knows all about it, whatever it is. In short, in his bringing up
he has been so nursed by Law and Equity that he has become a kind
of fossil imp, to account for whose terrestrial existence it is
reported at the public offices that his father was John Doe and his
mother the only female member of the Roe family, also that his
first long-clothes were made from a blue bag.
Into the dining-house, unaffected by the seductive show in the
window of artificially whitened cauliflowers and poultry, verdant
baskets of peas, coolly blooming cucumbers, and joints ready for
the spit, Mr. Smallweed leads the way. They know him there and
defer to him. He has his favourite box, he bespeaks all the
papers, he is down upon bald patriarchs, who keep them more than
ten minutes afterwards. It is of no use trying him with anything
less than a full-sized "bread" or proposing to him any joint in cut
unless it is in the very best cut. In the matter of gravy he is
Conscious of his elfin power and submitting to his dread
experience, Mr. Guppy consults him in the choice of that day's
banquet, turning an appealing look towards him as the waitress
repeats the catalogue of viands and saying "What do YOU take,
Chick?" Chick, out of the profundity of his artfulness, preferring
"veal and ham and French beans--and don't you forget the stuffing,
Polly" (with an unearthly cock of his venerable eye), Mr. Guppy and
Mr. Jobling give the like order. Three pint pots of half-and-half
are superadded. Quickly the waitress returns bearing what is
apparently a model of the Tower of Babel but what is really a pile
of plates and flat tin dish-covers. Mr. Smallweed, approving of
what is set before him, conveys intelligent benignity into his
ancient eye and winks upon her. Then, amid a constant coming in,
and going out, and running about, and a clatter of crockery, and a
rumbling up and down of the machine which brings the nice cuts from
the kitchen, and a shrill crying for more nice cuts down the
speaking-pipe, and a shrill reckoning of the cost of nice cuts that
have been disposed of, and a general flush and steam of hot joints,
cut and uncut, and a considerably heated atmosphere in which the
soiled knives and tablecloths seem to break out spontaneously into
eruptions of grease and blotches of beer, the legal triumvirate
appease their appetites.
Mr. Jobling is buttoned up closer than mere adornment might
require. His hat presents at the rims a peculiar appearance of a
glistening nature, as if it had been a favourite snail-promenade.
The same phenomenon is visible on some parts of his coat, and
particularly at the seams. He has the faded appearance of a
gentleman in embarrassed circumstances; even his light whiskers
droop with something of a shabby air.
His appetite is so vigorous that it suggests spare living for some
little time back. He makes such a speedy end of his plate of veal
and ham, bringing it to a close while his companions are yet midway
in theirs, that Mr. Guppy proposes another. "Thank you, Guppy,"
says Mr. Jobling, "I really don't know but what I WILL take
Another being brought, he falls to with great goodwill.
Mr. Guppy takes silent notice of him at intervals until he is half
way through this second plate and stops to take an enjoying pull at
his pint pot of half-and-half (also renewed) and stretches out his
legs and rubs his hands. Beholding him in which glow of
contentment, Mr. Guppy says, "You are a man again, Tony!"
"Well, not quite yet," says Mr. Jobling. "Say, just born."
"Will you take any other vegetables? Grass? Peas? Summer
"Thank you, Guppy," says Mr. Jobling. "I really don't know but
what I WILL take summer cabbage."
Order given; with the sarcastic addition (from Mr. Smallweed) of
"Without slugs, Polly!" And cabbage produced.
"I am growing up, Guppy," says Mr. Jobling, plying his knife and
fork with a relishing steadiness.
"Glad to hear it."
"In fact, I have just turned into my teens," says Mr. Jobling.
He says no more until he has performed his task, which he achieves
as Messrs. Guppy and Smallweed finish theirs, thus getting over the
ground in excellent style and beating those two gentlemen easily by
a veal and ham and a cabbage.
"Now, Small," says Mr. Guppy, "what would you recommend about
"Marrow puddings," says Mr. Smallweed instantly.
"Aye, aye!" cries Mr. Jobling with an arch look. "You're there,
are you? Thank you, Mr. Guppy, I don't know but what I WILL take a
Three marrow puddings being produced, Mr. Jobling adds in a
pleasant humour that he is coming of age fast. To these succeed,
by command of Mr. Smallweed, "three Cheshires," and to those "three
small rums." This apex of the entertainment happily reached, Mr.
Jobling puts up his legs on the carpeted seat (having his own side
of the box to himself), leans against the wall, and says, "I am
grown up now, Guppy. I have arrived at maturity."
"What do you think, now," says Mr. Guppy, "about--you don't mind
"Not the least in the worid. I have the pleasure of drinking his
"Sir, to you!" says Mr. Smallweed.
"I was saying, what do you think NOW," pursues Mr. Guppy, "of
"Why, what I may think after dinner," returns Mr. Jobling, "is one
thing, my dear Guppy, and what I may think before dinner is another
thing. Still, even after dinner, I ask myself the question, What
am I to do? How am I to live? Ill fo manger, you know," says Mr.
Jobling, pronouncing that word as if he meant a necessary fixture
in an English stable. "Ill fo manger. That's the French saying,
and mangering is as necessary to me as it is to a Frenchman. Or
Mr. Smallweed is decidedly of opinion "much more so."
"If any man had told me," pursues Jobling, "even so lately as when
you and I had the frisk down in Lincolnshire, Guppy, and drove over
to see that house at Castle Wold--"
Mr. Smallweed corrects him--Chesney Wold.
"Chesney Wold. (I thank my honourable friend for that cheer.) If
any man had told me then that I should be as hard up at the present
time as I literally find myself, I should have--well, I should have
pitched into him," says Mr. Jobling, taking a little rum-and-water
with an air of desperate resignation; "I should have let fly at his
"Still, Tony, you were on the wrong side of the post then,"
remonstrates Mr. Guppy. "You were talking about nothing else in
"Guppy," says Mr. Jobling, "I will not deny it. I was on the wrong
side of the post. But I trusted to things coming round."
That very popular trust in flat things coming round! Not in their
being beaten round, or worked round, but in their "coming" round!
As though a lunatic should trust in the world's "coming"
"I had confident expectations that things would come round and be
all square," says Mr. Jobling with some vagueness of expression and
perhaps of meaning too. "But I was disappointed. They never did.
And when it came to creditors making rows at the office and to
people that the office dealt with making complaints about dirty
trifles of borrowed money, why there was an end of that connexion.
And of any new professional connexion too, for if I was to give a
reference to-morrow, it would be mentioned and would sew me up.
Then what's a fellow to do? I have been keeping out of the way and
living cheap down about the market-gardens, but what's the use of
living cheap when you have got no money? You might as well live
"Better," Mr. Smallweed thinks.
"Certainly. It's the fashionable way; and fashion and whiskers
have been my weaknesses, and I don't care who knows it," says Mr.
Jobling. "They are great weaknesses--Damme, sir, they are great.
Well," proceeds Mr. Jobling after a defiant visit to his rum-and-
water, "what can a fellow do, I ask you, BUT enlist?"
Mr. Guppy comes more fully into the conversation to state what, in
his opinion, a fellow can do. His manner is the gravely impressive
manner of a man who has not committed himself in life otherwise
than as he has become the victim of a tender sorrow of the heart.
"Jobling," says Mr. Guppy, "myself and our mutual friend Smallweed--"
Mr. Smallweed modestly observes, "Gentlemen both!" and drinks.
"--Have had a little conversation on this matter more than once
"Say, got the sack!" cries Mr. Jobling bitterly. "Say it, Guppy.
You mean it."
"No-o-o! Left the Inn," Mr. Smallweed delicately suggests.
"Since you left the Inn, Jobling," says Mr. Guppy; "and I have
mentioned to our mutual friend Smallweed a plan I have lately
thought of proposing. You know Snagsby the stationer?"
"I know there is such a stationer," returns Mr. Jobling. "He was
not ours, and I am not acquainted with him."
"He IS ours, Jobling, and I AM acquainted with him," Mr. Guppy
retorts. "Well, sir! I have lately become better acquainted with
him through some accidental circumstances that have made me a
visitor of his in private life. Those circumstances it is not
necessary to offer in argument. They may--or they may not--have
some reference to a subject which may--or may not--have cast its
shadow on my existence."
As it is Mr. Guppy's perplexing way with boastful misery to tempt
his particular friends into this subject, and the moment they touch
it, to turn on them with that trenchant severity about the chords
in the human mind, both Mr. Jobling and Mr. Smallweed decline the
pitfall by remaining silent.
"Such things may be," repeats Mr. Guppy, "or they may not be. They
are no part of the case. It is enough to mention that both Mr. and
Mrs. Snagsby are very willing to oblige me and that Snagsby has, in
busy times, a good deal of copying work to give out. He has all
Tulkinghorn's, and an excellent business besides. I believe if our
mutual friend Smallweed were put into the box, he could prove
Mr. Smallweed nods and appears greedy to be sworn.
"Now, gentlemen of the jury," says Mr. Guppy, "--I mean, now,
Jobling--you may say this is a poor prospect of a living. Granted.
But it's better than nothing, and better than enlistment. You want
time. There must be time for these late affairs to blow over. You
might live through it on much worse terms than by writing for
Mr. Jobling is about to interrupt when the sagacious Smallweed
checks him with a dry cough and the words, "Hem! Shakspeare!"
"There are two branches to this subject, Jobling," says Mr. Guppy.
"That is the first. I come to the second. You know Krook, the
Chancellor, across the lane. Come, Jobling," says Mr. Guppy in his
encouraging cross-examination-tone, "I think you know Krook, the
Chancellor, across the lane?"
"I know him by sight," says Mr. Jobling.
"You know him by sight. Very well. And you know little Flite?"
"Everybody knows her," says Mr. Jobling.
"Everybody knows her. VERY well. Now it has been one of my duties
of late to pay Flite a certain weekly allowance, deducting from it
the amount of her weekly rent, which I have paid (in consequence of
instructions I have received) to Krook himself, regularly in her
presence. This has brought me into communication with Krook and
into a knowledge of his house and his habits. I know he has a room
to let. You may live there at a very low charge under any name you
like, as quietly as if you were a hundred miles off. He'll ask no
questions and would accept you as a tenant at a word from me--
before the clock strikes, if you chose. And I tell you another
thing, Jobling," says Mr. Guppy, who has suddenly lowered his voice
and become familiar again, "he's an extraordinary old chap--always
rummaging among a litter of papers and grubbing away at teaching
himself to read and write, without getting on a bit, as it seems to
me. He is a most extraordinary old chap, sir. I don't know but
what it might be worth a fellow's while to look him up a bit."
"You don't mean--" Mr. Jobling begins.
"I mean," returns Mr. Guppy, shrugging his shoulders with becoming
modesty, "that I can't make him out. I appeal to our mutual friend
Smallweed whether he has or has not heard me remark that I can't
make him out."
Mr. Smallweed bears the concise testimony, "A few!"
"I have seen something of the profession and something of life,
Tony," says Mr. Guppy, "and it's seldom I can't make a man out,
more or less. But such an old card as this, so deep, so sly, and
secret (though I don't believe he is ever sober), I never came
across. Now, he must be precious old, you know, and he has not a
soul about him, and he is reported to be immensely rich; and
whether he is a smuggler, or a receiver, or an unlicensed
pawnbroker, or a money-lender--all of which I have thought likely
at different times--it might pay you to knock up a sort of
knowledge of him. I don't see why you shouldn't go in for it, when
everything else suits."
Mr. Jobling, Mr. Guppy, and Mr. Smallweed all lean their elbows on
the table and their chins upon their hands, and look at the
ceiling. After a time, they all drink, slowly lean back, put their
hands in their pockets, and look at one another.
"If I had the energy I once possessed, Tony!" says Mr. Guppy with a
sigh. "But there are chords in the human mind--"
Expressing the remainder of the desolate sentiment in rum-and-
water, Mr. Guppy concludes by resigning the adventure to Tony
Jobling and informing him that during the vacation and while things
are slack, his purse, "as far as three or four or even five pound
goes," will be at his disposal. "For never shall it be said," Mr.
Guppy adds with emphasis, "that William Guppy turned his back upon
The latter part of the proposal is so directly to the purpose that
Mr. Jobling says with emotion, "Guppy, my trump, your fist!" Mr.
Guppy presents it, saying, "Jobling, my boy, there it is!" Mr.
Jobling returns, "Guppy, we have been pals now for some years!"
Mr. Guppy replies, "Jobling, we have."
They then shake hands, and Mr. Jobling adds in a feeling manner,
"Thank you, Guppy, I don't know but what I WILL take another glass
for old acquaintance sake."
"Krook's last lodger died there," observes Mr. Guppy in an
"Did he though!" says Mr. Jobling.
"There was a verdict. Accidental death. You don't mind that?"
"No," says Mr. Jobling, "I don't mind it; but he might as well have
died somewhere else. It's devilish odd that he need go and die at
MY place!" Mr. Jobling quite resents this liberty, several times
returning to it with such remarks as, "There are places enough to
die in, I should think!" or, "He wouldn't have liked my dying at
HIS place, I dare say!"
However, the compact being virtually made, Mr. Guppy proposes to
dispatch the trusty Smallweed to ascertain if Mr. Krook is at home,
as in that case they may complete the negotiation without delay.
Mr. Jobling approving, Smallweed puts himself under the tall hat
and conveys it out of the dining-rooms in the Guppy manner. He
soon returns with the intelligence that Mr. Krook is at home and
that he has seen him through the shop-door, sitting in the back
premises, sleeping "like one o'clock."
"Then I'll pay," says Mr. Guppy, "and we'll go and see him. Small,
what will it be?"
Mr. Smallweed, compelling the attendance of the waitress with one
hitch of his eyelash, instantly replies as follows: "Four veals and
hams is three, and four potatoes is three and four, and one summer
cabbage is three and six, and three marrows is four and six, and
six breads is five, and three Cheshires is five and three, and four
half-pints of half-and-half is six and three, and four small rums
is eight and three, and three Pollys is eight and six. Eight and
six in half a sovereign, Polly, and eighteenpence out!"
Not at all excited by these stupendous calculations, Smallweed
dismisses his friends with a cool nod and remains behind to take a
little admiring notice of Polly, as opportunity may serve, and to
read the daily papers, which are so very large in proportion to
himself, shorn of his hat, that when he holds up the Times to run
his eye over the columns, he seems to have retired for the night
and to have disappeared under the bedclothes.
Mr. Guppy and Mr. Jobling repair to the rag and bottle shop, where
they find Krook still sleeping like one o'clock, that is to say,
breathing stertorously with his chin upon his breast and quite
insensible to any external sounds or even to gentle shaking. On
the table beside him, among the usual lumber, stand an empty gin-
bottle and a glass. The unwholesome air is so stained with this
liquor that even the green eyes of the cat upon her shelf, as they
open and shut and glimmer on the visitors, look drunk.
"Hold up here!" says Mr. Guppy, giving the relaxed figure of the
old man another shake. "Mr. Krook! Halloa, sir!"
But it would seem as easy to wake a bundle of old clothes with a
spirituous heat smouldering in it. "Did you ever see such a stupor
as he falls into, between drink and sleep?" says Mr. Guppy.
"If this is his regular sleep," returns Jobling, rather alarmed,
"it'll last a long time one of these days, I am thinking."
"It's always more like a fit than a nap," says Mr. Guppy, shaking
him again. "Halloa, your lordship! Why, he might be robbed fifty
times over! Open your eyes!"
After much ado, he opens them, but without appearing to see his
visitors or any other objects. Though he crosses one leg on
another, and folds his hands, and several times closes and opens
his parched lips, he seems to all intents and purposes as
insensible as before.
"He is alive, at any rate," says Mr. Guppy. "How are you, my Lord
Chancellor. I have brought a friend of mine, sir, on a little
matter of business."
The old man still sits, often smacking his dry lips without the
least consciousness. After some minutes he makes an attempt to
rise. They help him up, and he staggers against the wall and
stares at them.
"How do you do, Mr. Krook?" says Mr. Guppy in some discomfiture.
"How do you do, sir? You are looking charming, Mr. Krook. I hope
you are pretty well?"
The old man, in aiming a purposeless blow at Mr. Guppy, or at
nothing, feebly swings himself round and comes with his face
against the wall. So he remains for a minute or two, heaped up
against it, and then staggers down the shop to the front door. The
air, the movement in the court, the lapse of time, or the
combination of these things recovers him. He comes back pretty
steadily, adjusting his fur cap on his head and looking keenly at
"Your servant, gentlemen; I've been dozing. Hi! I am hard to wake,
"Rather so, indeed, sir," responds Mr. Guppy.
"What? You've been a-trying to do it, have you?" says the
"Only a little," Mr. Guppy explains.
The old man's eye resting on the empty bottle, he takes it up,
examines it, and slowly tilts it upside down.
"I say!" he cries like the hobgoblin in the story. "Somebody's
been making free here!"
"I assure you we found it so," says Mr. Guppy. "Would you allow me
to get it filled for you?"
"Yes, certainly I would!" cries Krook in high glee. "Certainly I
would! Don't mention it! Get it filled next door--Sol's Arms--the
Lord Chancellor's fourteenpenny. Bless you, they know ME!"
He so presses the empty bottle upon Mr. Guppy that that gentleman,
with a nod to his friend, accepts the trust and hurries out and
hurries in again with the bottle filled. The old man receives it
in his arms like a beloved grandchild and pats it tenderly.
"But, I say," he whispers, with his eyes screwed up, after tasting
it, "this ain't the Lord Chancellor's fourteenpenny. This is
"I thought you might like that better," says Mr. Guppy.
"You're a nobleman, sir," returns Krook with another taste, and his
hot breath seems to come towards them like a flame. "You're a
baron of the land."
Taking advantage of this auspicious moment, Mr. Guppy presents his
friend under the impromptu name of Mr. Weevle and states the object
of their visit. Krook, with his bottle under his arm (he never
gets beyond a certain point of either drunkenness or sobriety),
takes time to survey his proposed lodger and seems to approve of
him. "You'd like to see the room, young man?" he says. "Ah! It's
a good room! Been whitewashed. Been cleaned down with soft soap
and soda. Hi! It's worth twice the rent, letting alone my company
when you want it and such a cat to keep the mice away."
Commending the room after this manner, the old man takes them
upstairs, where indeed they do find it cleaner than it used to be
and also containing some old articles of furniture which he has dug
up from his inexhaustible stores. The terms are easily concluded--
for the Lord Chancellor cannot be hard on Mr. Guppy, associated as
he is with Kenge and Carboy, Jarndyce and Jarndyce, and other
famous claims on his professional consideration--and it is agreed
that Mr. Weevle shall take possession on the morrow. Mr. Weevle
and Mr. Guppy then repair to Cook's Court, Cursitor Street, where
the personal introduction of the former to Mr. Snagsby is effected
and (more important) the vote and interest of Mrs. Snagsby are
secured. They then report progress to the eminent Smallweed,
waiting at the office in his tall hat for that purpose, and
separate, Mr. Guppy explaining that he would terminate his little
entertainment by standing treat at the play but that there are
chords in the human mind which would render it a hollow mockery.
On the morrow, in the dusk of evening, Mr. Weevle modestly appears
at Krook's, by no means incommoded with luggage, and establishes
himself in his new lodging, where the two eyes in the shutters
stare at him in his sleep, as if they were full of wonder. On the
following day Mr. Weevle, who is a handy good-for-nothing kind of
young fellow, borrows a needle and thread of Miss Flite and a
hammer of his landlord and goes to work devising apologies for
window-curtains, and knocking up apologies for shelves, and hanging
up his two teacups, milkpot, and crockery sundries on a pennyworth
of little hooks, like a shipwrecked sailor making the best of it.
But what Mr. Weevle prizes most of all his few possessions (next
after his light whiskers, for which he has an attachment that only
whiskers can awaken in the breast of man) is a choice collection of
copper-plate impressions from that truly national work The
Divinities of Albion, or Galaxy Gallery of British Beauty,
representing ladies of title and fashion in every variety of smirk
that art, combined with capital, is capable of producing. With
these magnificent portraits, unworthily confined in a band-box
during his seclusion among the market-gardens, he decorates his
apartment; and as the Galaxy Gallery of British Beauty wears every
variety of fancy dress, plays every variety of musical instrument,
fondles every variety of dog, ogles every variety of prospect, and
is backed up by every variety of flower-pot and balustrade, the
result is very imposing.
But fashion is Mr. Weevle's, as it was Tony Jobling's, weakness.
To borrow yesterday's paper from the Sol's Arms of an evening and
read about the brilliant and distinguished meteors that are
shooting across the fashionable sky in every direction is
unspeakable consolation to him. To know what member of what
brilliant and distinguished circle accomplished the brilliant and
distinguished feat of joining it yesterday or contemplates the no
less brilliant and distinguished feat of leaving it to-morrow gives
him a thrill of joy. To be informed what the Galaxy Gallery of
British Beauty is about, and means to be about, and what Galaxy
marriages are on the tapis, and what Galaxy rumours are in
circulation, is to become acquainted with the most glorious
destinies of mankind. Mr. Weevle reverts from this intelligence to
the Galaxy portraits implicated, and seems to know the originals,
and to be known of them.
For the rest he is a quiet lodger, full of handy shifts and devices
as before mentioned, able to cook and clean for himself as well as
to carpenter, and developing social inclinations after the shades
of evening have fallen on the court. At those times, when he is
not visited by Mr. Guppy or by a small light in his likeness
quenched in a dark hat, he comes out of his dull room--where he has
inherited the deal wilderness of desk bespattered with a rain of
ink--and talks to Krook or is "very free," as they call it in the
court, commendingly, with any one disposed for conversation.
Wherefore, Mrs. Piper, who leads the court, is impelled to offer
two remarks to Mrs. Perkins: firstly, that if her Johnny was to
have whiskers, she could wish 'em to be identically like that young
man's; and secondly, "Mark my words, Mrs. Perkins, ma'am, and don't
you be surprised, Lord bless you, if that young man comes in at
last for old Krook's money!"
The Smallweed Family
In a rather ill-favoured and ill-savoured neighbourhood, though one
of its rising grounds bears the name of Mount Pleasant, the Elfin
Smallweed, christened Bartholomew and known on the domestic hearth
as Bart, passes that limited portion of his time on which the
office and its contingencies have no claim. He dwells in a little
narrow street, always solitary, shady, and sad, closely bricked in
on all sides like a tomb, but where there yet lingers the stump of
an old forest tree whose flavour is about as fresh and natural as
the Smallweed smack of youth.
There has been only one child in the Smallweed family for several
generations. Little old men and women there have been, but no
child, until Mr. Smallweed's grandmother, now living, became weak
in her intellect and fell (for the first time) into a childish
state. With such infantine graces as a total want of observation,
memory, understanding, and interest, and an eternal disposition to
fall asleep over the fire and into it, Mr. Smallweed's grandmother
has undoubtedly brightened the family.
Mr. Smallweed's grandfather is likewise of the party. He is in a
helpless condition as to his lower, and nearly so as to his upper,
limbs, but his mind is unimpaired. It holds, as well as it ever
held, the first four rules of arithmetic and a certain small
collection of the hardest facts. In respect of ideality,
reverence, wonder, and other such phrenological attributes, it is
no worse off than it used to be. Everything that Mr. Smallweed's
grandfather ever put away in his mind was a grub at first, and is a
grub at last. In all his life he has never bred a single
The father of this pleasant grandfather, of the neighbourhood of
Mount Pleasant, was a horny-skinned, two-legged, money-getting
species of spider who spun webs to catch unwary flies and retired
into holes until they were entrapped. The name of this old pagan's
god was Compound Interest. He lived for it, married it, died of
it. Meeting with a heavy loss in an honest little enterprise in
which all the loss was intended to have been on the other side, he
broke something--something necessary to his existence, therefore it
couldn't have been his heart--and made an end of his career. As
his character was not good, and he had been bred at a charity
school in a complete course, according to question and answer, of
those ancient people the Amorites and Hittites, he was frequently
quoted as an example of the failure of education.
His spirit shone through his son, to whom he had always preached of
"going out" early in life and whom he made a clerk in a sharp
scrivener's office at twelve years old. There the young gentleman
improved his mind, which was of a lean and anxious character, and
developing the family gifts, gradually elevated himself into the
discounting profession. Going out early in life and marrying late,
as his father had done before him, he too begat a lean and anxious-
minded son, who in his turn, going out early in life and marrying
late, became the father of Bartholomew and Judith Smallweed, twins.
During the whole time consumed in the slow growth of this family
tree, the house of Smallweed, always early to go out and late to
marry, has strengthened itself in its practical character, has
discarded all amusements, discountenanced all story-books, fairy-
tales, fictions, and fables, and banished all levities whatsoever.
Hence the gratifying fact that it has had no child born to it and
that the complete little men and women whom it has produced have
been observed to bear a likeness to old monkeys with something
depressing on their minds.
At the present time, in the dark little parlour certain feet below
the level of the street--a grim, hard, uncouth parlour, only
ornamented with the coarsest of baize table-covers, and the hardest
of sheet-iron tea-trays, and offering in its decorative character
no bad allegorical representation of Grandfather Smallweed's mind--
seated in two black horsehair porter's chairs, one on each side of
the fire-place, the superannuated Mr. and Mrs. Smallweed while away
the rosy hours. On the stove are a couple of trivets for the pots
and kettles which it is Grandfather Smallweed's usual occupation to
watch, and projecting from the chimney-piece between them is a sort
of brass gallows for roasting, which he also superintends when it
is in action. Under the venerable Mr. Smallweed's seat and guarded
by his spindle legs is a drawer in his chair, reported to contain
property to a fabulous amount. Beside him is a spare cushion with
which he is always provided in order that he may have something to
throw at the venerable partner of his respected age whenever she
makes an allusion to money--a subject on which he is particularly
"And where's Bart?" Grandfather Smallweed inquires of Judy, Bart's
"He an't come in yet," says Judy.
"It's his tea-time, isn't it?"
"How much do you mean to say it wants then?"
"Ten minutes." (Loud on the part of Judy.)
"Ho!" says Grandfather Smallweed. "Ten minutes."
Grandmother Smallweed, who has been mumbling and shaking her head
at the trivets, hearing figures mentioned, connects them with money
and screeches like a horrible old parrot without any plumage, "Ten
Grandfather Smallweed immediately throws the cushion at her.
"Drat you, be quiet!" says the good old man.
The effect of this act of jaculation is twofold. It not only
doubles up Mrs. Smallweed's head against the side of her porter's
chair and causes her to present, when extricated by her
granddaughter, a highly unbecoming state of cap, but the necessary
exertion recoils on Mr. Smallweed himself, whom it throws back into
HIS porter's chair like a broken puppet. The excellent old
gentleman being at these times a mere clothes-bag with a black
skull-cap on the top of it, does not present a very animated
appearance until he has undergone the two operations at the hands
of his granddaughter of being shaken up like a great bottle and
poked and punched like a great bolster. Some indication of a neck
being developed in him by these means, he and the sharer of his
life's evening again fronting one another in their two porter's
chairs, like a couple of sentinels long forgotten on their post by
the Black Serjeant, Death.
Judy the twin is worthy company for these associates. She is so
indubitably sister to Mr. Smallweed the younger that the two
kneaded into one would hardly make a young person of average
proportions, while she so happily exemplifies the before-mentioned
family likeness to the monkey tribe that attired in a spangled robe
and cap she might walk about the table-land on the top of a barrel-
organ without exciting much remark as an unusual specimen. Under
existing circumstances, however, she is dressed in a plain, spare
gown of brown stuff.
Judy never owned a doll, never heard of Cinderella, never played at
any game. She once or twice fell into children's company when she
was about ten years old, but the children couldn't get on with
Judy, and Judy couldn't get on with them. She seemed like an
animal of another species, and there was instinctive repugnance on
both sides. It is very doubtful whether Judy knows how to laugh.
She has so rarely seen the thing done that the probabilities are
strong the other way. Of anything like a youthful laugh, she
certainly can have no conception. If she were to try one, she
would find her teeth in her way, modelling that action of her face,
as she has unconsciously modelled all its other expressions, on her
pattern of sordid age. Such is Judy.
And her twin brother couldn't wind up a top for his life. He knows
no more of Jack the Giant Killer or of Sinbad the Sailor than he
knows of the people in the stars. He could as soon play at leap-
frog or at cricket as change into a cricket or a frog himself. But
he is so much the better off than his sister that on his narrow
world of fact an opening has dawned into such broader regions as
lie within the ken of Mr. Guppy. Hence his admiration and his
emulation of that shining enchanter.
Judy, with a gong-like clash and clatter, sets one of the sheet-
iron tea-trays on the table and arranges cups and saucers. The
bread she puts on in an iron basket, and the butter (and not much
of it) in a small pewter plate. Grandfather Smallweed looks hard
after the tea as it is served out and asks Judy where the girl is.
"Charley, do you mean?" says Judy.
"Hey?" from Grandfather Smallweed.
"Charley, do you mean?"
This touches a spring in Grandmother Smallweed, who, chuckling as
usual at the trivets, cries, "Over the water! Charley over the
water, Charley over the water, over the water to Charley, Charley
over the water, over the water to Charley!" and becomes quite
energetic about it. Grandfather looks at the cushion but has not
sufficiently recovered his late exertion.
"Ha!" he says when there is silence. "If that's her name. She
eats a deal. It would be better to allow her for her keep."
Judy, with her brother's wink, shakes her head and purses up her
mouth into no without saying it.
"No?" returns the old man. "Why not?"
"She'd want sixpence a day, and we can do it for less," says Judy.
Judy answers with a nod of deepest meaning and calls, as she
scrapes the butter on the loaf with every precaution against waste
and cuts it into slices, "You, Charley, where are you?" Timidly
obedient to the summons, a little girl in a rough apron and a large
bonnet, with her hands covered with soap and water and a scrubbing
brush in one of them, appears, and curtsys.
"What work are you about now?" says Judy, making an ancient snap at
her like a very sharp old beldame.
"I'm a-cleaning the upstairs back room, miss," replies Charley.
"Mind you do it thoroughly, and don't loiter. Shirking won't do
for me. Make haste! Go along!" cries Judy with a stamp upon the
ground. "You girls are more trouble than you're worth, by half."
On this severe matron, as she returns to her task of scraping the
butter and cutting the bread, falls the shadow of her brother,
looking in at the window. For whom, knife and loaf in hand, she
opens the street-door.
"Aye, aye, Bart!" says Grandfather Smallweed. "Here you are, hey?"
"Here I am," says Bart.
"Been along with your friend again, Bart?"
"Dining at his expense, Bart?"
Small nods again.
"That's right. Live at his expense as much as you can, and take
warning by his foolish example. That's the use of such a friend.
The only use you can put him to," says the venerable sage.
His grandson, without receiving this good counsel as dutifully as
he might, honours it with all such acceptance as may lie in a
slight wink and a nod and takes a chair at the tea-table. The four
old faces then hover over teacups like a company of ghastly
cherubim, Mrs. Smallweed perpetually twitching her head and
chattering at the trivets and Mr. Smallweed requiring to be
repeatedly shaken up like a large black draught.
"Yes, yes," says the good old gentleman, reverting to his lesson of
wisdom. "That's such advice as your father would have given you,
Bart. You never saw your father. More's the pity. He was my true
son." Whether it is intended to be conveyed that he was
particularly pleasant to look at, on that account, does not appear.
"He was my true son," repeats the old gentleman, folding his bread
and butter on his knee, "a good accountant, and died fifteen years
Mrs. Smallweed, following her usual instinct, breaks out with
"Fifteen hundred pound. Fifteen hundred pound in a black box,
fifteen hundred pound locked up, fifteen hundred pound put away and
hid!" Her worthy husband, setting aside his bread and butter,
immediately discharges the cushion at her, crushes her against the
side of her chair, and falls back in his own, overpowered. His
appearance, after visiting Mrs. Smallweed with one of these
admonitions, is particularly impressive and not wholly
prepossessing, firstly because the exertion generally twists his
black skull-cap over one eye and gives him an air of goblin
rakishness, secondly because he mutters violent imprecations
against Mrs. Smallweed, and thirdly because the contrast between
those powerful expressions and his powerless figure is suggestive
of a baleful old malignant who would be very wicked if he could.
All this, however, is so common in the Smallweed family circle that
it produces no impression. The old gentleman is merely shaken and
has his internal feathers beaten up, the cushion is restored to its
usual place beside him, and the old lady, perhaps with her cap
adjusted and perhaps not, is planted in her chair again, ready to
be bowled down like a ninepin.
Some time elapses in the present instance before the old gentleman
is sufficiently cool to resume his discourse, and even then he
mixes it up with several edifying expletives addressed to the
unconscious partner of his bosom, who holds communication with
nothing on earth but the trivets. As thus: "If your father, Bart,
had lived longer, he might have been worth a deal of money--you
brimstone chatterer!--but just as he was beginning to build up the
house that he had been making the foundations for, through many a
year--you jade of a magpie, jackdaw, and poll-parrot, what do you
mean!--he took ill and died of a low fever, always being a sparing
and a spare man, fule been a good son, and I think I meant to
have been one. But I wasn't. I was a thundering bad son, that's
the long and the short of it, and never was a credit to anybody."
"Surprising!" cries the old man.
"However," Mr. George resumes, "the less said about it, the better
now. Come! You know the agreement. Always a pipe out of the two
months' interest! (Bosh! It's all correct. You needn't be afraid
to order the pipe. Here's the new bill, and here's the two months'
interest-money, and a devil-and-all of a scrape it is to get it
together in my business.)"
Mr. George sits, with his arms folded, consuming the family and the
parlour while Grandfather Smallweed is assisted by Judy to two
black leathern cases out of a locked bureau, in one of which he
secures the document he has just received, and from the other takes
another similar document which hl of business care--I should like to throw a
cat at you instead of a cushion, and I will too if you make such a
confounded fool of yourself!--and your mother, who was a prudent
woman as dry as a chip, just dwindled away like touchwood after you
and Judy were born--you are an old pig. You are a brimstone pig.
You're a head of swine!"
Judy, not interested in what she has often heard, begins to collect
in a basin various tributary streams of tea, from the bottoms of
cups and saucers and from the bottom of the teapot for the little
charwoman's evening meal. In like manner she gets together, in the
iron bread-basket, as many outside fragments and worn-down heels of
loaves as the rigid economy of the house has left in existence.
"But your father and me were partners, Bart," says the old
gentleman, "and when I am gone, you and Judy will have all there
is. It's rare for you both that you went out early in life--Judy
to the flower business, and you to the law. You won't want to
spend it. You'll get your living without it, and put more to it.
When I am gone, Judy will go back to the flower business and you'll
still stick to the law."
One might infer from Judy's appearance that her business rather lay
with the thorns than the flowers, but she has in her time been
apprenticed to the art and mystery of artificial flower-making. A
close observer might perhaps detect both in her eye and her
brother's, when their venerable grandsire anticipates his being
gone, some little impatience to know when he may be going, and some
resentful opinion that it is time he went.
"Now, if everybody has done," says Judy, completing her
preparations, "I'll have that girl in to her tea. She would never
leave off if she took it by herself in the kitchen."
Charley is accordingly introduced, and under a heavy fire of eyes,
sits down to her basin and a Druidical ruin of bread and butter.
In the active superintendence of this young person, Judy Smallweed
appears to attain a perfectly geological age and to date from the
remotest periods. Her systematic manner of flying at her and
pouncing on her, with or without pretence, whether or no, is
wonderful, evincing an accomplishment in the art of girl-driving
seldom reached by the oldest practitioners.
"Now, don't stare about you all the afternoon," cries Judy, shaking
her head and stamping her foot as she happens to catch the glance
which has been previously sounding the basin of tea, "but take your
victuals and get back to your work."
"Yes, miss," says Charley.
"Don't say yes," returns Miss Smallweed, "for I know what you girls
are. Do it without saying it, and then I may begin to believe
Charley swallows a great gulp of tea in token of submission and so
disperses the Druidical ruins that Miss Smallweed charges her not
to gormandize, which "in you girls," she observes, is disgusting.
Charley might find some more difficulty in meeting her views on the
general subject of girls but for a knock at the door.
"See who it is, and don't chew when you open it!" cries Judy.
The object of her attentions withdrawing for the purpose, Miss
Smallweed takes that opportunity of jumbling the remainder of the
bread and butter together and launching two or three dirty tea-cups
into the ebb-tide of the basin of tea as a hint that she considers
the eating and drinking terminated.
"Now! Who is it, and what's wanted?" says the snappish Judy.
It is one Mr. George, it appears. Without other announcement or
ceremony, Mr. George walks in.
"Whew!" says Mr. George. "You are hot here. Always a fire, eh?
Well! Perhaps you do right to get used to one." Mr. George makes
the latter remark to himself as he nods to Grandfather Smallweed.
"Ho! It's you!" cries the old gentleman. "How de do? How de do?"
"Middling," replies Mr. George, taking a chair. "Your
granddaughter I have had the honour of seeing before; my service to
"This is my grandson," says Grandfather Smallweed. "You ha'n't
seen him before. He is in the law and not much at home."
"My service to him, too! He is like his sister. He is very like
his sister. He is devilish like his sister," says Mr. George,
laying a great and not altogether complimentary stress on his last
"And how does the world use you, Mr. George?" Grandfather Smallweed
inquires, slowly rubbing his legs.
"Pretty much as usual. Like a football."
He is a swarthy brown man of fifty, well made, and good looking,
with crisp dark hair, bright eyes, and a broad chest. His sinewy
and powerful hands, as sunburnt as his face, have evidently been
used to a pretty rough life. What is curious about him is that he
sits forward on his chair as if he were, from long habit, allowing
space for some dress or accoutrements that he has altogether laid
aside. His step too is measured and heavy and would go well with a
weighty clash and jingle of spurs. He is close-shaved now, but his
mouth is set as if his upper lip had been for years familiar with a
great moustache; and his manner of occasionally laying the open
palm of his broad brown hand upon it is to the same effect.
Altogether one might guess Mr. George to have been a trooper once
upon a time.
A special contrast Mr. George makes to the Smallweed family.
Trooper was never yet billeted upon a household more unlike him.
It is a broadsword to an oyster-knife. His developed figure and
their stunted forms, his large manner filling any amount of room
and their little narrow pinched ways, his sounding voice and their
sharp spare tones, are in the strongest and the strangest
opposition. As he sits in the middle of the grim parlour, leaning
a little forward, with his hands upon his thighs and his elbows
squared, he looks as though, if he remained there long, he would
absorb into himself the whole family and the whole four-roomed
house, extra little back-kitchen and all.
"Do you rub your legs to rub life into 'em?" he asks of Grandfather
Smallweed after looking round the room.
"Why, it's partly a habit, Mr. George, and--yes--it partly helps
the circulation," he replies.
"The cir-cu-la-tion!" repeats Mr. George, folding his arms upon his
chest and seeming to become two sizes larger. "Not much of that, I
"Truly I'm old, Mr. George," says Grandfather Smallweed. "But I
can carry my years. I'm older than HER," nodding at his wife, "and
see what she is? You're a brimstone chatterer!" with a sudden
revival of his late hostility.
"Unlucky old soul!" says Mr. George, turning his head in that
direction. "Don't scold the old lady. Look at her here, with her
poor cap half off her head and her poor hair all in a muddle. Hold
up, ma'am. That's better. There we are! Think of your mother,
Mr. Smallweed," says Mr. George, coming back to his seat from
assisting her, "if your wife an't enough."
"I suppose you were an excellent son, Mr. George?" the old man
hints with a leer.
The colour of Mr. George's face rather deepens as he replies, "Why
no. I wasn't."
"I am astonished at it."
"So am I. I ought to have hands to Mr. George, who twists
it up for a pipelight. As the old man inspects, through his
glasses, every up-stroke and down-stroke of both documents before
he releases them from their leathern prison, and as he counts the
money three times over and requires Judy to say every word she
utters at least twice, and is as tremulously slow of speech and
action as it is possible to be, this business is a long time in
progress. When it is quite concluded, and not before, he
disengages his ravenous eyes and fingers from it and answers Mr.
George's last remark by saying, "Afraid to order the pipe? We are
not so mercenary as that, sir. Judy, see directly to the pipe and
the glass of cold brandy-and-water for Mr. George."
The sportive twins, who have been looking straight before them all
this time except when they have been engrossed by the black
leathern cases, retire together, generally disdainful of the
visitor, but leaving him to the old man as two young cubs might
leave a traveller to the parental bear.
"And there you sit, I suppose, all the day long, eh?" says Mr.
George with folded arms.
"Just so, just so," the old man nods.
"And don't you occupy yourself at all?"
"I watch the fire--and the boiling and the roasting--"
"When there is any," says Mr. George with great expression.
"Just so. When there is any."
"Don't you read or get read to?"
The old man shakes his head with sharp sly triumph. "No, no. We
have never been readers in our family. It don't pay. Stuff.
Idleness. Folly. No, no!"
"There's not much to choose between your two states," says the
visitor in a key too low for the old man's dull hearing as he looks
from him to the old woman and back again. "I say!" in a louder
"I hear you."
"You'll sell me up at last, I suppose, when I am a day in arrear."
"My dear friend!" cries Grandfather Smallweed, stretching out both
hands to embrace him. "Never! Never, my dear friend! But my
friend in the city that I got to lend you the money--HE might!"
"Oh! You can't answer for him?" says Mr. George, finishing the
inquiry in his lower key with the words "You lying old rascal!"
"My dear friend, he is not to be depended on. I wouldn't trust
him. He will have his bond, my dear friend."
"Devil doubt him," says Mr. George. Charley appearing with a tray,
on which are the pipe, a small paper of tobacco, and the brandy-
and-water, he asks her, "How do you come here! You haven't got the
"I goes out to work, sir," returns Charley.
The trooper (if trooper he be or have been) takes her bonnet off,
with a light touch for so strong a hand, and pats her on the head.
"You give the house almost a wholesome look. It wants a bit of
youth as much as it wants fresh air." Then he dismisses her,
lights his pipe, and drinks to Mr. Smallweed's friend in the city--
the one solitary flight of that esteemed old gentleman's
"So you think he might be hard upon me, eh?"
"I think he might--I am afraid he would. I have known him do it,"
says Grandfather Smallweed incautiously, "twenty times."
Incautiously, because his stricken better-half, who has been dozing
over the fire for some time, is instantly aroused and jabbers
"Twenty thousand pounds, twenty twenty-pound notes in a money-box,
twenty guineas, twenty million twenty per cent, twenty--" and is
then cut short by the flying cushion, which the visitor, to whom
this singular experiment appears to be a novelty, snatches from her
face as it crushes her in the usual manner.
"You're a brimstone idiot. You're a scorpion--a brimstone
scorpion! You're a sweltering toad. You're a chattering
clattering broomstick witch that ought to be burnt!" gasps the old
man, prostrate in his chair. "My dear friend, will you shake me up
Mr. George, who has been looking first at one of them and then at
the other, as if he were demented, takes his venerable acquaintance
by the throat on receiving this request, and dragging him upright
in his chalr as easily as if he were a doll, appears in two minds
whether or no to shake all future power of cushioning out of him
and shake him into his grave. Resisting the temptation, but
agitating him violently enough to make his head roll like a
harlequin's, he puts him smartly down in his chair again and
adjusts his skull-cap with such a rub that the old man winks with
both eyes for a minute afterwards.
"O Lord!" gasps Mr. Smallweed. "That'll do. Thank you, my dear
friend, that'll do. Oh, dear me, I'm out of breath. O Lord!" And
Mr. Smallweed says it not without evident apprehensions of his dear
friend, who still stands over him looming larger than ever.
The alarming presence, however, gradually subsides into its chair
and falls to smoking in long puffs, consoling itself with the
philosophical reflection, "The name of your friend in the city
begins with a D, comrade, and you're about right respecting the
"Did you speak, Mr. George?" inquires the old man.
The trooper shakes his head, and leaning forward with his right
elbow on his right knee and his pipe supported in that hand, while
his other hand, resting on his left leg, squares his left elbow in
a martial manner, continues to smoke. Meanwhile he looks at Mr.
Smallweed with grave attention and now and then fans the cloud of
smoke away in order that he may see him the more clearly.
"I take it," he says, making just as much and as little change in
his position as will enable him to reach the glass to his lips with
a round, full action, "that I am the only man alive (or dead
either) that gets the value of a pipe out of YOU?"
"Well," returns the old man, "it's true that I don't see company,
Mr. George, and that I don't treat. I can't afford to it. But as
you, in your pleasant way, made your pipe a condition--"
"Why, it's not for the value of it; that's no great thing. It was
a fancy to get it out of you. To have something in for my money."
"Ha! You're prudent, prudent, sir!" cries Grandfather Smallweed,
rubbing his legs.
"Very. I always was." Puff. "It's a sure sign of my prudence
that I ever found the way here." Puff. "Also, that I am what I
am." Puff. "I am well known to be prudent," says Mr. George,
composedly smoking. "I rose in life that way."
"Don't he down-hearted, sir. You may rise yet."
Mr. George laughs and drinks.
"Ha'n't you no relations, now," asks Grandfather Smallweed with a
twinkle in his eyes, "who would pay off this little principal or
who would lend you a good name or two that I could persuade my
friend in the city to make you a further advance upon? Two good
names would be sufficient for my friend in the city. Ha'n't you no
such relations, Mr. George?"
Mr. George, still composedly smoking, replies, "If I had, I
shouldn't trouble them. I have been trouble enough to my
belongings in my day. It MAY be a very good sort of penitence in a
vagabond, who has wasted the best time of his life, to go back then
to decent people that he never was a credit to and live upon them,
but it's not my sort. The best kind of amends then for having gone
away is to keep away, in my opinion."
"But natural affection, Mr. George," hints Grandfather Smallweed.
"For two good names, hey?" says Mr. George, shaking his head and
still composedly smoking. "No. That's not my sort either."
Grandfather Smallweed has been gradually sliding down in his chair
since his last adjustment and is now a bundle of clothes with a
voice in it calling for Judy. That houri, appearing, shakes him up
in the usual manner and is charged by the old gentleman to remain
near him. For he seems chary of putting his visitor to the trouble
of repeating his late attentions.
"Ha!" he observes when he is in trim again. "If you could have
traced out the captain, Mr. George, it would have been the making
of you. If when you first came here, in consequence of our
advertisement in the newspapers--when I say 'our,' I'm alluding to
the advertisements of my friend in the city, and one or two others
who embark their capital in the same way, and are so friendly
towards me as sometimes to give me a lift with my little pittance--
if at that time you could have helped us, Mr. George, it would have
been the making of you."
"I was willing enough to be 'made,' as you call it," says Mr.
George, smoking not quite so placidly as before, for since the
entrance of Judy he has been in some measure disturbed by a
fascination, not of the admiring kind, which obliges him to look at
her as she stands by her grandfather's chair, "but on the whole, I
am glad I wasn't now."
"Why, Mr. George? In the name of--of brimstone, why?" says
Grandfather Smallweed with a plain appearance of exasperation.
(Brimstone apparently suggested by his eye lighting on Mrs.
Smallweed in her slumber.)
"For two reasons, comrade."
"And what two reasons, Mr. George? In the name of the--"
"Of our friend in the city?" suggests Mr. George, composedly
"Aye, if you like. What two reasons?"
"In the first place," returns Mr. George, but still looking at Judy
as if she being so old and so like her grandfather it is
indifferent which of the two he addresses, "you gentlemen took me
in. You advertised that Mr. Hawdon (Captain Hawdon, if you hold to
the saying 'Once a captain, always a captain') was to hear of
something to his advantage."
"Well?" returns the old man shrilly and sharply.
"Well!" says Mr. George, smoking on. "It wouldn't have been much
to his advantage to have been clapped into prison by the whole bill
and judgment trade of London."
"How do you know that? Some of his rich relations might have paid
his debts or compounded for 'em. Besides, he had taken US in. He
owed us immense sums all round. I would sooner have strangled him
than had no return. If I sit here thinking of him," snarls the old
man, holding up his impotent ten fingers, "I want to strangle him
now." And in a sudden access of fury, he throws the cushion at the
unoffending Mrs. Smallweed, but it passes harmlessly on one side of
"I don't need to be told," returns the trooper, taking his pipe
from his lips for a moment and carrying his eyes back from
following the progress of the cushion to the pipe-bowl which is
burning low, "that he carried on heavily and went to ruin. I have
been at his right hand many a day when he was charging upon ruin
full-gallop. I was with him when he was sick and well, rich and
poor. I laid this hand upon him after he had run through
everything and broken down everything beneath him--when he held a
pistol to his head."
"I wish he had let it off," says the benevolent old man, "and blown
his head into as many pieces as he owed pounds!"
"That would have been a smash indeed," returns the trooper coolly;
"any way, he had been young, hopeful, and handsome in the days gone
by, and I am glad I never found him, when he was neither, to lead
to a result so much to his advantage. That's reason number one."
"I hope number two's as good?" snarls the old man.
"Why, no. It's more of a selfish reason. If I had found him, I
must have gone to the other world to look. He was there."
"How do you know he was there?"
"He wasn't here."
"How do you know he wasn't here?"
"Don't lose your temper as well as your money," says Mr. George,
calmly knocking the ashes out of his pipe. "He was drowned long
before. I am convinced of it. He went over a ship's side.
Whether intentionally or accidentally, I don't know. Perhaps your
friend in the city does. Do you know what that tune is, Mr.
Smallweed?" he adds after breaking off to whistle one, accompanied
on the table with the empty pipe.
"Tune!" replied the old man. "No. We never have tunes here."
"That's the Dead March in Saul. They bury soldiers to it, so it's
the natural end of the subject. Now, if your pretty granddaughter
--excuse me, miss--will condescend to take care of this pipe for two
months, we shall save the cost of one next time. Good evening, Mr.
"My dear friend!" the old man gives him both his hands.
"So you think your friend in the city will be hard upon me if I
fall in a payment?" says the trooper, looking down upon him like a
"My dear friend, I am afraid he will," returns the old man, looking
up at him like a pygmy.
Mr. George laughs, and with a glance at Mr. Smallweed and a parting
salutation to the scornful Judy, strides out of the parlour,
clashing imaginary sabres and other metallic appurtenances as he
"You're a damned rogue," says the old gentleman, making a hideous
grimace at the door as he shuts it. "But I'll lime you, you dog,
I'll lime you!"
After this amiable remark, his spirit soars into those enchanting
regions of reflection which its education and pursuits have opened
to it, and again he and Mrs. Smallweed while away the rosy hours,
two unrelieved sentinels forgotten as aforesaid by the Black
While the twain are faithful to their post, Mr. George strides
through the streets with a massive kind of swagger and a grave-
enough face. It is eight o'clock now, and the day is fast drawing
in. He stops hard by Waterloo Bridge and reads a playbill, decides
to go to Astley's Theatre. Being there, is much delighted with the
horses and the feats of strength; looks at the weapons with a
critical eye; disapproves of the combats as giving evidences of
unskilful swordsmanship; but is touched home by the sentiments. In
the last scene, when the Emperor of Tartary gets up into a cart and
condescends to bless the united lovers by hovering over them with
the Union Jack, his eyelashes are moistened with emotion.
The theatre over, Mr. George comes across the water again and makes
his way to that curious region lying about the Haymarket and
Leicester Square which is a centre of attraction to indifferent
foreign hotels and indifferent foreigners, racket-courts, fighting-
men, swordsmen, footguards, old china, gaming-houses, exhibitions,
and a large medley of shabbiness and shrinking out of sight.
Penetrating to the heart of this region, he arrives by a court and
a long whitewashed passage at a great brick building composed of
bare walls, floors, roof-rafters, and skylights, on the front of
which, if it can be said to have any front, is painted GEORGE'S
SHOOTING GALLERY, &c.
Into George's Shooting Gallery, &c., he goes; and in it there are
gaslights (partly turned off now), and two whitened targets for
rifle-shooting, and archery accommodation, and fencing appliances,
and all necessaries for the British art of boxing. None of these
sports or exercises being pursued in George's Shooting Gallery to-
night, which is so devoid of company that a little grotesque man
with a large head has it all to himself and lies asleep upon the
The little man is dressed something like a gunsmith, in a green-
baize apron and cap; and his face and hands are dirty with
gunpowder and begrimed with the loading of guns. As he lies in the
light before a glaring white target, the black upon him shines
again. Not far off is the strong, rough, primitive table with a
vice upon it at which he has been working. He is a little man with
a face all crushed together, who appears, from a certain blue and
speckled appearance that one of his cheeks presents, to have been
blown up, in the way of business, at some odd time or times.
"Phil!" says the trooper in a quiet voice.
"All right!" cries Phil, scrambling to his feet.
"Anything been doing?"
"Flat as ever so much swipes," says Phil. "Five dozen rifle and a
dozen pistol. As to aim!" Phil gives a howl at the recollection.
"Shut up shop, Phil!"
As Phil moves about to execute this order, it appears that he is
lame, though able to move very quickly. On the speckled side of
his face he has no eyebrow, and on the other side he has a bushy
black one, which want of uniformity gives him a very singular and
rather sinister appearance. Everything seems to have happened to
his hands that could possibly take place consistently with the
retention of all the fingers, for they are notched, and seamed, and
crumpled all over. He appears to be very strong and lifts heavy
benches about as if he had no idea what weight was. He has a
curious way of limping round the gallery with his shoulder against
the wall and tacking off at objects he wants to lay hold of instead
of going straight to them, which has left a smear all round the
four walls, conventionally called "Phil's mark."
This custodian of George's Gallery in George's absence concludes
his proceedings, when he has locked the great doors and turned out
all the lights but one, which he leaves to glimmer, by dragging out
from a wooden cabin in a corner two mattresses and bedding. These
being drawn to opposite ends of the gallery, the trooper makes his
own bed and Phil makes his.
"Phil!" says the master, walking towards him without his coat and
waistcoat, and looking more soldierly than ever in his braces.
"You were found in a doorway, weren't you?"
"Gutter," says Phil. "Watchman tumbled over me."
"Then vagabondizing came natural to YOU from the beginning."
"As nat'ral as possible," says Phil.
"Good night, guv'ner."
Phil cannot even go straight to bed, but finds it necessary to
shoulder round two sides of the gallery and then tack off at his
mattress. The trooper, after taking a turn or two in the rifle-
distance and looking up at the moon now shining through the
skylights, strides to his own mattress by a shorter route and goes
to bed too.
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