Part 9 out of 21
spoke, I saw before me, as if she had started into bodily shape
from my remembrance, Mrs. Rachael of my godmother's house.
"How do you do, Esther?" said she. "Do you recollect me?"
I gave her my hand and told her yes and that she was very little
"I wonder you remember those times, Esther," she returned with her
old asperity. "They are changed now. Well! I am glad to see you,
and glad you are not too proud to know me." But indeed she seemed
disappointed that I was not.
"Proud, Mrs. Rachael!" I remonstrated.
"I am married, Esther," she returned, coldly correcting me, "and am
Mrs. Chadband. Well! I wish you good day, and I hope you'll do
Mr. Guppy, who had been attentive to this short dialogue, heaved a
sigh in my ear and elbowed his own and Mrs. Rachael's way through
the confused little crowd of people coming in and going out, which
we were in the midst of and which the change in the business had
brought together. Richard and I were making our way through it,
and I was yet in the first chill of the late unexpected recognition
when I saw, coming towards us, but not seeing us, no less a person
than Mr. George. He made nothing of the people about him as he
tramped on, staring over their heads into the body of the court.
"George!" said Richard as I called his attention to him.
"You are well met, sir," he returned. "And you, miss. Could you
point a person out for me, I want? I don't understand these
Turning as he spoke and making an easy way for us, he stopped when
we were out of the press in a corner behind a great red curtain.
"There's a little cracked old woman," he began, "that--"
I put up my finger, for Miss Flite was close by me, having kept
beside me all the time and having called the attention of several
of her legal acquaintance to me (as I had overheard to my
confusion) by whispering in their ears, "Hush! Fitz Jarndyce on my
"Hem!" said Mr. George. "You remember, miss, that we passed some
conversation on a certain man this morning? Gridley," in a low
whisper behind his hand.
"Yes," said I.
"He is hiding at my place. I couldn't mention it. Hadn't his
authority. He is on his last march, miss, and has a whim to see
her. He says they can feel for one another, and she has been
almost as good as a friend to him here. I came down to look for
her, for when I sat by Gridley this afternoon, I seemed to hear the
roll of the muffled drums."
"Shall I tell her?" said I.
"Would you be so good?" he returned with a glance of something like
apprehension at Miss Flite. "It's a providence I met you, miss; I
doubt if I should have known how to get on with that lady." And he
put one hand in his breast and stood upright in a martial attitude
as I informed little Miss Flite, in her ear, of the purport of his
"My angry friend from Shropshire! Almost as celebrated as myself!"
she exclaimed. "Now really! My dear, I will wait upon him with
the greatest pleasure."
"He is living concealed at Mr. George's," said I. "Hush! This is
"In--deed!" returned Miss Flite. "Very proud to have the honour!
A military man, my dear. You know, a perfect general!" she
whispered to me.
Poor Miss Flite deemed it necessary to be so courtly and polite, as
a mark of her respect for the army, and to curtsy so very often
that it was no easy matter to get her out of the court. When this
was at last done, and addressing Mr. George as "General," she gave
him her arm, to the great entertainment of some idlers who were
looking on, he was so discomposed and begged me so respectfully
"not to desert him" that I could not make up my mind to do it,
especially as Miss Flite was always tractable with me and as she
too said, "Fitz Jarndyce, my dear, you will accompany us, of
course." As Richard seemed quite willing, and even anxious, that
we should see them safely to their destination, we agreed to do so.
And as Mr. George informed us that Gridley's mind had run on Mr.
Jarndyce all the afternoon after hearing of their interview in the
morning, I wrote a hasty note in pencil to my guardian to say where
we were gone and why. Mr. George sealed it at a coffee-house, that
it might lead to no discovery, and we sent it off by a ticket-
We then took a hackney-coach and drove away to the neighbourhood of
Leicester Square. We walked through some narrow courts, for which
Mr. George apologized, and soon came to the shooting gallery, the
door of which was closed. As he pulled a bell-handle which hung by
a chain to the door-post, a very respectable old gentleman with
grey hair, wearing spectacles, and dressed in a black spencer and
gaiters and a broad-brimmed hat, and carrying a large gold-beaded
cane, addressed him.
"I ask your pardon, my good friend," said he, "but is this George's
"It is, sir," returned Mr. George, glancing up at the great letters
in which that inscription was painted on the whitewashed wall.
"Oh! To be sure!" said the old gentleman, following his eyes.
"Thank you. Have you rung the bell?"
"My name is George, sir, and I have rung the bell."
"Oh, indeed?" said the old gentleman. "Your name is George? Then
I am here as soon as you, you see. You came for me, no doubt?"
"No, sir. You have the advantage of me."
"Oh, indeed?" said the old gentleman. "Then it was your young man
who came for me. I am a physician and was requested--five minutes
ago--to come and visit a sick man at George's Shooting Gallery."
"The muffled drums," said Mr. George, turning to Richard and me and
gravely shaking his head. "It's quite correct, sir. Will you
please to walk in."
The door being at that moment opened by a very singular-looking
little man in a green-baize cap and apron, whose face and hands and
dress were blackened all over, we passed along a dreary passage
into a large building with bare brick walls where there were
targets, and guns, and swords, and other things of that kind. When
we had all arrived here, the physician stopped, and taking off his
hat, appeared to vanish by magic and to leave another and quite a
different man in his place.
"Now lookee here, George," said the man, turning quickly round upon
him and tapping him on the breast with a large forefinger. "You
know me, and I know you. You're a man of the world, and I'm a man
of the world. My name's Bucket, as you are aware, and I have got a
peace-warrant against Gridley. You have kept him out of the way a
long time, and you have been artful in it, and it does you credit."
Mr. George, looking hard at him, bit his lip and shook his head.
"Now, George," said the other, keeping close to him, "you're a
sensible man and a well-conducted man; that's what YOU are, beyond
a doubt. And mind you, I don't talk to you as a common character,
because you have served your country and you know that when duty
calls we must obey. Consequently you're very far from wanting to
give trouble. If I required assistance, you'd assist me; that's
what YOU'D do. Phil Squod, don't you go a-sidling round the
gallery like that"--the dirty little man was shuffling about with
his shoulder against the wall, and his eyes on the intruder, in a
manner that looked threatening--"because I know you and won't have
"Phil!" said Mr. George.
The little man, with a low growl, stood still.
"Ladies and gentlemen," said Mr. Bucket, "you'll excuse anything
that may appear to be disagreeable in this, for my name's Inspector
Bucket of the Detective, and I have a duty to perform. George, I
know where my man is because I was on the roof last night and saw
him through the skylight, and you along with him. He is in there,
you know," pointing; "that's where HE is--on a sofy. Now I must
see my man, and I must tell my man to consider himself in custody;
but you know me, and you know I don't want to take any
uncomfortable measures. You give me your word, as from one man to
another (and an old soldier, mind you, likewise), that it's
honourable between us two, and I'll accommodate you to the utmost
of my power."
"I give it," was the reply. '"But it wasn't handsome in you, Mr.
"Gammon, George! Not handsome?" said Mr. Bucket, tapping him on
his broad breast again and shaking hands with him. "I don't say it
wasn't handsome in you to keep my man so close, do I? Be equally
good-tempered to me, old boy! Old William Tell, Old Shaw, the Life
Guardsman! Why, he's a model of the whole British army in himself,
ladies and gentlemen. I'd give a fifty-pun' note to be such a
figure of a man!"
The affair being brought to this head, Mr. George, after a little
consideration, proposed to go in first to his comrade (as he called
him), taking Miss Flite with him. Mr. Bucket agreeing, they went
away to the further end of the gallery, leaving us sitting and
standing by a table covered with guns. Mr. Bucket took this
opportunity of entering into a little light conversation, asking me
if I were afraid of fire-arms, as most young ladies were; asking
Richard if he were a good shot; asking Phil Squod which he
considered the best of those rifles and what it might be worth
first-hand, telling him in return that it was a pity he ever gave
way to his temper, for he was naturally so amiable that he might
have been a young woman, and making himself generally agreeable.
After a time he followed us to the further end of the gallery, and
Richard and I were going quietly away when Mr. George came after
us. He said that if we had no objection to see his comrade, he
would take a visit from us very kindly. The words had hardly
passed his lips when the bell was rung and my guardian appeared,
"on the chance," he slightly observed, "of being able to do any
little thing for a poor fellow involved in the same misfortune as
himself." We all four went back together and went into the place
where Gridley was.
It was a bare room, partitioned off from the gallery with unpainted
wood. As the screening was not more than eight or ten feet high
and only enclosed the sides, not the top, the rafters of the high
gallery roof were overhead, and the skylight through which Mr.
Bucket had looked down. The sun was low--near setting--and its
light came redly in above, without descending to the ground. Upon
a plain canvas-covered sofa lay the man from Shropshire, dressed
much as we had seen him last, but so changed that at first I
recognized no likeness in his colourless face to what I
He had been still writing in his hiding-place, and still dwelling
on his grievances, hour after hour. A table and some shelves were
covered with manuscript papers and with worn pens and a medley of
such tokens. Touchingly and awfully drawn together, he and the
little mad woman were side by side and, as it were, alone. She sat
on a chair holding his hand, and none of us went close to them.
His voice had faded, with the old expression of his face, with his
strength, with his anger, with his resistance to the wrongs that
had at last subdued him. The faintest shadow of an object full of
form and colour is such a picture of it as he was of the man from
Shropshire whom we had spoken with before.
He inclined his head to Richard and me and spoke to my guardian.
"Mr. Jarndyce, it is very kind of you to come to see me. I am not
long to be seen, I think. I am very glad to take your hand, sir.
You are a good man, superior to injustice, and God knows I honour
They shook hands earnestly, and my guardian said some words of
comfort to him.
"It may seem strange to you, sir," returned Gridley; "I should not
have liked to see you if this had been the flrst time of our
meeting. But you know I made a fight for it, you know I stood up
with my single hand against them all, you know I told them the
truth to the last, and told them what they were, and what they had
done to me; so I don't mind your seeing me, this wreck."
"You have been courageous with them many and many a time," returned
"Sir, I have been," with a faint smile. "I told you what would
come of it when I ceased to be so, and see here! Look at us--look
at us!" He drew the hand Miss Flite held through her arm and
brought her something nearer to him.
"This ends it. Of all my old associations, of all my old pursuits
and hopes, of all the living and the dead world, this one poor soul
alone comes natural to me, and I am fit for. There is a tie of
many suffering years between us two, and it is the only tie I ever
had on earth that Chancery has not broken."
"Accept my blessing, Gridley," said Miss Flite in tears. "Accept
"I thought, boastfully, that they never could break my heart, Mr.
Jarndyce. I was resolved that they should not. I did believe that
I could, and would, charge them with being the mockery they were
until I died of some bodily disorder. But I am worn out. How long
I have been wearing out, I don't know; I seemed to break down in an
hour. I hope they may never come to hear of it. I hope everybody
here will lead them to believe that I died defying them,
consistently and perseveringly, as I did through so many years."
Here Mr. Bucket, who was sitting in a corner by the door, good-
naturedly offered such consolation as he could administer.
"Come, come!" he said from his corner. "Don't go on in that way,
Mr. Gridley. You are only a little low. We are all of us a little
low sometimes. I am. Hold up, hold up! You'll lose your temper
with the whole round of 'em, again and again; and I shall take you
on a score of warrants yet, if I have luck."
He only shook his head.
"Don't shake your head," said Mr. Bucket. "Nod it; that's what I
want to see you do. Why, Lord bless your soul, what times we have
had together! Haven't I seen you in the Fleet over and over again
for contempt? Haven't I come into court, twenty afternoons for no
other purpose than to see you pin the Chancellor like a bull-dog?
Don't you remember when you first began to threaten the lawyers,
and the peace was sworn against you two or three times a week? Ask
the little old lady there; she has been always present. Hold up,
Mr. Gridley, hold up, sir!"
"What are you going to do about him?" asked George in a low voice.
"I don't know yet," said Bucket in the same tone. Then resuming
his encouragement, he pursued aloud: "Worn out, Mr. Gridley? After
dodging me for all these weeks and forcing me to climb the roof
here like a tom cat and to come to see you as a doctor? That ain't
like being worn out. I should think not! Now I tell you what you
want. You want excitement, you know, to keep YOU up; that's what
YOU want. You're used to it, and you can't do without it. I
couldn't myself. Very well, then; here's this warrant got by Mr.
Tulkinghorn of Lincoln's Inn Fields, and backed into half-a-dozen
counties since. What do you say to coming along with me, upon this
warrant, and having a good angry argument before the magistrates?
It'll do you good; it'll freshen you up and get you into training
for another turn at the Chancellor. Give in? Why, I am surprised
to hear a man of your energy talk of giving in. You mustn't do
that. You're half the fun of the fair in the Court of Chancery.
George, you lend Mr. Gridley a hand, and let's see now whether he
won't be better up than down."
"He is very weak," said the trooper in a low voice.
"Is he?" returned Bucket anxiously. "I only want to rouse him. I
don't like to see an old acquaintance giving in like this. It
would cheer him up more than anything if I could make him a little
waxy with me. He's welcome to drop into me, right and left, if he
likes. I shall never take advantage of it."
The roof rang with a scream from Miss Flite, which still rings in
"Oh, no, Gridley!" she cried as he fell heavily and calmly back
from before her. "Not without my blessing. After so many years!"
The sun was down, the light had gradually stolen from the roof, and
the shadow had crept upward. But to me the shadow of that pair,
one living and one dead, fell heavier on Richard's departure than
the darkness of the darkest night. And through Richard's farewell
words I heard it echoed: "Of all my old associations, of all my old
pursuits and hopes, of all the living and the dead world, this one
poor soul alone comes natural to me, and I am fit for. There is a
tie of many suffering years between us two, and it is the only tie
I ever had on earth that Chancery has not broken!"
Mrs. Snagsby Sees It All
There is disquietude in Cook's Court, Cursitor Street. Black
suspicion hides in that peaceful region. The mass of Cook's
Courtiers are in their usual state of mind, no better and no worse;
but Mr. Snagsby is changed, and his little woman knows it.
For Tom-all-Alone's and Lincoln's Inn Fields persist in harnessing
themselves, a pair of ungovernable coursers, to the chariot of Mr.
Snagsby's imagination; and Mr. Bucket drives; and the passengers
are Jo and Mr. Tulkinghorn; and the complete equipage whirls though
the law-stationery business at wild speed all round the clock.
Even in the little front kitchen where the family meals are taken,
it rattles away at a smoking pace from the dinner-table, when Mr.
Snagsby pauses in carving the first slice of the leg of mutton
baked with potatoes and stares at the kitchen wall.
Mr. Snagsby cannot make out what it is that he has had to do with.
Something is wrong somewhere, but what something, what may come of
it, to whom, when, and from which unthought of and unheard of
quarter is the puzzle of his life. His remote impressions of the
robes and coronets, the stars and garters, that sparkle through the
surface-dust of Mr. Tulkinghorn's chambers; his veneration for the
mysteries presided over by that best and closest of his customers,
whom all the Inns of Court, all Chancery Lane, and all the legal
neighbourhood agree to hold in awe; his remembrance of Detective
Mr. Bucket with his forefinger and his confidential manner,
impossible to be evaded or declined, persuade him that he is a
party to some dangerous secret without knowing what it is. And it
is the fearful peculiarity of this condition that, at any hour of
his daily life, at any opening of the shop-door, at any pull of the
bell, at any entrance of a messenger, or any delivery of a letter,
the secret may take air and fire, explode, and blow up--Mr. Bucket
only knows whom.
For which reason, whenever a man unknown comes into the shop (as
many men unknown do) and says, "Is Mr. Snagsby in?" or words to
that innocent effect, Mr. Snagsby's heart knocks hard at his guilty
breast. He undergoes so much from such inquiries that when they
are made by boys he revenges himself by flipping at their ears over
the counter and asking the young dogs what they mean by it and why
they can't speak out at once? More impracticable men and boys
persist in walking into Mr. Snagsby's sleep and terrifying him with
unaccountable questions, so that often when the cock at the little
dairy in Cursitor Street breaks out in his usual absurd way about
the morning, Mr. Snagsby finds himself in a crisis of nightmare,
with his little woman shaking him and saying "What's the matter
with the man!"
The little woman herself is not the least item in his difficulty.
To know that he is always keeping a secret from her, that he has
under all circumstances to conceal and hold fast a tender double
tooth, which her sharpness is ever ready to twist out of his head,
gives Mr. Snagsby, in her dentistical presence, much of the air of
a dog who has a reservation from his master and will look anywhere
rather than meet his eye.
These various signs and tokens, marked by the little woman, are not
lost upon her. They impel her to say, "Snagsby has something on
his mind!" And thus suspicion gets into Cook's Court, Cursitor
Street. From suspicion to jealousy, Mrs. Snagsby finds the road as
natural and short as from Cook's Court to Chancery Lane. And thus
jealousy gets into Cook's Court, Cursitor Street. Once there (and
it was always lurking thereabout), it is very active and nimble in
Mrs. Snagsby's breast, prompting her to nocturnal examinations of
Mr. Snagsby's pockets; to secret perusals of Mr. Snagsby's letters;
to private researches in the day book and ledger, till, cash-box,
and iron safe; to watchings at windows, listenings behind doors,
and a general putting of this and that together by the wrong end.
Mrs. Snagsby is so perpetually on the alert that the house becomes
ghostly with creaking boards and rustling garments. The 'prentices
think somebody may have been murdered there in bygone times.
Guster holds certain loose atoms of an idea (picked up at Tooting,
where they were found floating among the orphans) that there is
buried money underneath the cellar, guarded by an old man with a
white beard, who cannot get out for seven thousand years because he
said the Lord's Prayer backwards.
"Who was Nimrod?" Mrs. Snagsby repeatedly inquires of herself.
"Who was that lady--that creature? And who is that boy?" Now,
Nimrod being as dead as the mighty hunter whose name Mrs. Snagsby
has appropriated, and the lady being unproducible, she directs her
mental eye, for the present, with redoubled vigilance to the boy.
"And who," quoth Mrs. Snagsby for the thousand and first time, "is
that boy? Who is that--!" And there Mrs. Snagsby is seized with
He has no respect for Mr. Chadband. No, to be sure, and he
wouldn't have, of course. Naturally he wouldn't, under those
contagious circumstances. He was invited and appointed by Mr.
Chadband--why, Mrs. Snagsby heard it herself with her own ears!--to
come back, and be told where he was to go, to be addressed by Mr.
Chadband; and he never came! Why did he never come? Because he
was told not to come. Who told him not to come? Who? Ha, ha!
Mrs. Snagsby sees it all.
But happily (and Mrs. Snagsby tightly shakes her head and tightly
smiles) that boy was met by Mr. Chadband yesterday in the streets;
and that boy, as affording a subject which Mr. Chadband desires to
improve for the spiritual delight of a select congregation, was
seized by Mr. Chadband and threatened with being delivered over to
the police unless he showed the reverend gentleman where he lived
and unless he entered into, and fulfilled, an undertaking to appear
in Cook's Court to-morrow night, "'to--mor--row--night," Mrs.
Snagsby repeats for mere emphasis with another tight smile and
another tight shake of her head; and to-morrow night that boy will
be here, and to-morrow night Mrs. Snagsby will have her eye upon
him and upon some one else; and oh, you may walk a long while in
your secret ways (says Mrs. Snagsby with haughtiness and scorn),
but you can't blind ME!
Mrs. Snagsby sounds no timbrel in anybody's ears, but holds her
purpose quietly, and keeps her counsel. To-morrow comes, the
savoury preparations for the Oil Trade come, the evening comes.
Comes Mr. Snagsby in his black coat; come the Chadbands; come (when
the gorging vessel is replete) the 'prentices and Guster, to be
edified; comes at last, with his slouching head, and his shuflle
backward, and his shuffle forward, and his shuffle to the right,
and his shuffle to the left, and his bit of fur cap in his muddy
hand, which he picks as if it were some mangy bird he had caught
and was plucking before eating raw, Jo, the very, very tough
subject Mr. Chadband is to improve.
Mrs. Snagsby screws a watchful glance on Jo as he is brought into
the little drawing-room by Guster. He looks at Mr. Snagsby the
moment he comes in. Aha! Why does he look at Mr. Snagsby? Mr.
Snagsby looks at him. Why should he do that, but that Mrs. Snagsby
sees it all? Why else should that look pass between them, why else
should Mr. Snagsby be confused and cough a signal cough behind his
hand? It is as clear as crystal that Mr. Snagsby is that boy's
'"Peace, my friends," says Chadband, rising and wiping the oily
exudations from his reverend visage. "Peace be with us! My
friends, why with us? Because," with his fat smile, "it cannot be
against us, because it must be for us; because it is not hardening,
because it is softening; because it does not make war like the
hawk, but comes home unto us like the dove. Therefore, my friends,
peace be with us! My human boy, come forward!"
Stretching forth his flabby paw, Mr. Chadband lays the same on Jo's
arm and considers where to station him. Jo, very doubtful of his
reverend friend's intentions and not at all clear but that
something practical and painful is going to be done to him,
mutters, "You let me alone. I never said nothink to you. You let
"No, my young friend," says Chadband smoothly, "I will not let you
alone. And why? Because I am a harvest-labourer, because I am a
toiler and a moiler, because you are delivered over unto me and are
become as a precious instrument in my hands. My friends, may I so
employ this instrument as to use it to your advantage, to your
profit, to your gain, to your welfare, to your enrichment! My
young friend, sit upon this stool."
Jo, apparently possessed by an impression that the reverend
gentleman wants to cut his hair, shields his head with both arms
and is got into the required position with great difficulty and
every possible manifestation of reluctance.
When he is at last adjusted like a lay-figure, Mr. Chadband,
retiring behind the table, holds up his bear's-paw and says, "My
friends!" This is the signal for a general settlement of the
audience. The 'prentices giggle internally and nudge each other.
Guster falls into a staring and vacant state, compounded of a
stunned admiration of Mr. Chadband and pity for the friendless
outcast whose condition touches her nearly. Mrs. Snagsby silently
lays trains of gunpowder. Mrs. Chadband composes herself grimly by
the fire and warms her knees, finding that sensation favourable to
the reception of eloquence.
It happens that Mr. Chadband has a pulpit habit of fixing some
member of his congregation with his eye and fatly arguing his
points with that particular person, who is understood to be
expected to be moved to an occasional grunt, groan, gasp, or other
audible expression of inward working, which expression of inward
working, being echoed by some elderly lady in the next pew and so
communicated like a game of forfeits through a circle of the more
fermentable sinners present, serves the purpose of parliamentary
cheering and gets Mr. Chadband's steam up. From mere force of
habit, Mr. Chadband in saying "My friends!" has rested his eye on
Mr. Snagsby and proceeds to make that ill-starred stationer,
already sufficiently confused, the immediate recipient of his
"We have here among us, my friends," says Chadband, "a Gentile and
a heathen, a dweller in the tents of Tom-all-Alone's and a mover-on
upon the surface of the earth. We have here among us, my friends,"
and Mr. Chadband, untwisting the point with his dirty thumb-nail,
bestows an oily smile on Mr. Snagsby, signifying that he will throw
him an argumentative back-fall presently if he be not already down,
"a brother and a boy. Devoid of parents, devoid of relations,
devoid of flocks and herds, devoid of gold and silver and of
precious stones. Now, my friends, why do I say he is devoid of
these possessions? Why? Why is he?" Mr. Chadband states the
question as if he were propoundlng an entirely new riddle of much
ingenuity and merit to Mr. Snagsby and entreating him not to give
Mr. Snagsby, greatly perplexed by the mysterious look he received
just now from his little woman--at about the period when Mr.
Chadband mentioned the word parents--is tempted into modestly
remarking, "I don't know, I'm sure, sir." On which interruption
Mrs. Chadband glares and Mrs. Snagsby says, "For shame!"
"I hear a voice," says Chadband; "is it a still small voice, my
friends? I fear not, though I fain would hope so--"
"Ah--h!" from Mrs. Snagsby.
"Which says, 'I don't know.' Then I will tell you why. I say this
brother present here among us is devoid of parents, devoid of
relations, devoid of flocks and herds, devoid of gold, of silver,
and of precious stones because he is devoid of the light that
shines in upon some of us. What is that light? What is it? I ask
you, what is that light?"
Mr. Chadband draws back his head and pauses, but Mr. Snagsby is not
to be lured on to his destruction again. Mr. Chadband, leaning
forward over the table, pierces what he has got to follow directly
into Mr. Snagsby with the thumb-nail already mentioned.
"It is," says Chadband, "the ray of rays, the sun of suns, the moon
of moons, the star of stars. It is the light of Terewth."
Mr. Chadband draws himself up again and looks triumphantly at Mr.
Snagsby as if he would be glad to know how he feels after that.
"Of Terewth," says Mr. Chadband, hitting him again. "Say not to me
that it is NOT the lamp of lamps. I say to you it is. I say to
you, a million of times over, it is. It is! I say to you that I
will proclaim it to you, whether you like it or not; nay, that the
less you like it, the more I will proclaim it to you. With a
speaking-trumpet! I say to you that if you rear yourself against
it, you shall fall, you shall be bruised, you shall be battered,
you shall be flawed, you shall be smashed."
The present effect of this flight of oratory--much admired for its
general power by Mr. Chadband's followers--being not only to make
Mr. Chadband unpleasantly warm, but to represent the innocent Mr.
Snagsby in the light of a determined enemy to virtue, with a
forehead of brass and a heart of adamant, that unfortunate
tradesman becomes yet more disconcerted and is in a very advanced
state of low spirits and false position when Mr. Chadband
accidentally finishes him.
"My friends," he resumes after dabbing his fat head for some time--
and it smokes to such an extent that he seems to light his pocket-
handkerchief at it, which smokes, too, after every dab--"to pursue
the subject we are endeavouring with our lowly gifts to improve,
let us in a spirit of love inquire what is that Terewth to which I
have alluded. For, my young friends," suddenly addressing the
'prentices and Guster, to their consternation, "if I am told by the
doctor that calomel or castor-oil is good for me, I may naturally
ask what is calomel, and what is castor-oil. I may wish to be
informed of that before I dose myself with either or with both.
Now, my young friends, what is this Terewth then? Firstly (in a
spirit of love), what is the common sort of Terewth--the working
clothes--the every-day wear, my young friends? Is it deception?"
"Ah--h!" from Mrs. Snagsby.
"Is it suppression?"
A shiver in the negative from Mrs. Snagsby.
"Is it reservation?"
A shake of the head from Mrs. Snagsby--very long and very tight.
"No, my friends, it is neither of these. Neither of these names
belongs to it. When this young heathen now among us--who is now,
my friends, asleep, the seal of indifference and perdition being
set upon his eyelids; but do not wake him, for it is right that I
should have to wrestle, and to combat and to struggle, and to
conquer, for his sake--when this young hardened heathen told us a
story of a cock, and of a bull, and of a lady, and of a sovereign,
was THAT the Terewth? No. Or if it was partly, was it wholly and
entirely? No, my friends, no!"
If Mr. Snagsby could withstand his little woman's look as it enters
at his eyes, the windows of his soul, and searches the whole
tenement, he were other than the man he is. He cowers and droops.
"Or, my juvenile friends," says Chadband, descending to the level
of their comprehension with a very obtrusive demonstration in his
greasily meek smile of coming a long way downstairs for the
purpose, "if the master of this house was to go forth into the city
and there see an eel, and was to come back, and was to call unto
him the mistress of this house, and was to say, 'Sarah, rejoice
with me, for I have seen an elephant!' would THAT be Terewth?"
Mrs. Snagsby in tears.
"Or put it, my juvenile friends, that he saw an elephant, and
returning said 'Lo, the city is barren, I have seen but an eel,'
would THAT be Terewth?"
Mrs. Snagsby sobbing loudly.
"Or put it, my juvenile friends," said Chadband, stimulated by the
sound, "that the unnatural parents of this slumbering heathen--for
parents he had, my juvenile friends, beyond a doubt--after casting
him forth to the wolves and the vultures, and the wild dogs and the
young gazelles, and the serpents, went back to their dwellings and
had their pipes, and their pots, and their flutings and their
dancings, and their malt liquors, and their butcher's meat and
poultry, would THAT be Terewth?"
Mrs. Snagsby replies by delivering herself a prey to spasms, not an
unresisting prey, but a crying and a tearing one, so that Cook's
Court re-echoes with her shrieks. Finally, becoming cataleptic,
she has to be carried up the narrow staircase like a grand piano.
After unspeakable suffering, productive of the utmost
consternation, she is pronounced, by expresses from the bedroom,
free from pain, though much exhausted, in which state of affairs
Mr. Snagsby, trampled and crushed in the piano-forte removal, and
extremely timid and feeble, ventures to come out from behind the
door in the drawing-room.
All this time Jo has been standing on the spot where he woke up,
ever picking his cap and putting bits of fur in his mouth. He
spits them out with a remorseful air, for he feels that it is in
his nature to be an unimprovable reprobate and that it's no good
HIS trying to keep awake, for HE won't never know nothink. Though
it may be, Jo, that there is a history so interesting and affecting
even to minds as near the brutes as thine, recording deeds done on
this earth for common men, that if the Chadbands, removing their
own persons from the light, would but show it thee in simple
reverence, would but leave it unimproved, would but regard it as
being eloquent enough without their modest aid--it might hold thee
awake, and thou might learn from it yet!
Jo never heard of any such book. Its compilers and the Reverend
Chadband are all one to him, except that he knows the Reverend
Chadband and would rather run away from him for an hour than hear
him talk for five minutes. "It an't no good my waiting here no
longer," thinks Jo. "Mr. Snagsby an't a-going to say nothink to me
to-night." And downstairs he shuffles.
But downstairs is the charitable Guster, holding by the handrail of
the kitchen stairs and warding off a fit, as yet doubtfully, the
same having been induced by Mrs. Snagsby's screaming. She has her
own supper of bread and cheese to hand to Jo, with whom she
ventures to interchange a word or so for the first time.
"Here's something to eat, poor boy," says Guster.
"Thank'ee, mum," says Jo.
"Are you hungry?"
"Jist!" says Jo.
"What's gone of your father and your mother, eh?"
Jo stops in the middle of a bite and looks petrified. For this
orphan charge of the Christian saint whose shrine was at Tooting
has patted him on the shoulder, and it is the first time in his
life that any decent hand has been so laid upon him.
"I never know'd nothink about 'em," says Jo.
"No more didn't I of mine," cries Guster. She is repressing
symptoms favourable to the fit when she seems to take alarm at
something and vanishes down the stairs.
"Jo," whispers the law-stationer softly as the boy lingers on the
"Here I am, Mr. Snagsby!"
"I didn't know you were gone--there's another half-crown, Jo. It
was quite right of you to say nothing about the lady the other
night when we were out together. It would breed trouble. You
can't be too quiet, Jo."
"I am fly, master!"
And so, good night.
A ghostly shade, frilled and night-capped, follows the law-
stationer to the room he came from and glides higher up. And
henceforth he begins, go where he will, to be attended by another
shadow than his own, hardly less constant than his own, hardly less
quiet than his own. And into whatsoever atmosphere of secrecy his
own shadow may pass, let all concerned in the secrecy beware! For
the watchful Mrs. Snagsby is there too--bone of his bone, flesh of
his flesh, shadow of his shadow.
Wintry morning, looking with dull eyes and sallow face upon the
neighbourhood of Leicester Square, finds its inhabitants unwilling
to get out of bed. Many of them are not early risers at the
brightest of times, being birds of night who roost when the sun is
high and are wide awake and keen for prey when the stars shine out.
Behind dingy blind and curtain, in upper story and garret, skulking
more or less under false names, false hair, false titles, false
jewellery, and false histories, a colony of brigands lie in their
first sleep. Gentlemen of the green-baize road who could discourse
from personal experience of foreign galleys and home treadmills;
spies of strong governments that eternally quake with weakness and
miserable fear, broken traitors, cowards, bullies, gamesters,
shufflers, swindlers, and false witnesses; some not unmarked by the
branding-iron beneath their dirty braid; all with more cruelty in
them than was in Nero, and more crime than is in Newgate. For
howsoever bad the devil can be in fustian or smock-frock (and he
can be very bad in both), he is a more designing, callous, and
intolerable devil when he sticks a pin in his shirt-front, calls
himself a gentleman, backs a card or colour, plays a game or so of
billiards, and knows a little about bills and promissory notes than
in any other form he wears. And in such form Mr. Bucket shall find
him, when he will, still pervading the tributary channels of
But the wintry morning wants him not and wakes him not. It wakes
Mr. George of the shooting gallery and his familiar. They arise,
roll up and stow away their mattresses. Mr. George, having shaved
himself before a looking-glass of minute proportions, then marches
out, bare-headed and bare-chested, to the pump in the little yard
and anon comes back shining with yellow soap, friction, drifting
rain, and exceedingly cold water. As he rubs himself upon a large
jack-towel, blowing like a military sort of diver just come up, his
hair curling tighter and tighter on his sunburnt temples the more
he rubs it so that it looks as if it never could be loosened by any
less coercive instrument than an iron rake or a curry-comb--as he
rubs, and puffs, and polishes, and blows, turning his head from
side to side the more conveniently to excoriate his throat, and
standing with his body well bent forward to keep the wet from his
martial legs, Phil, on his knees lighting a fire, looks round as if
it were enough washing for him to see all that done, and sufficient
renovation for one day to take in the superfluous health his master
When Mr. George is dry, he goes to work to brush his head with two
hard brushes at once, to that unmerciful degree that Phil,
shouldering his way round the gallery in the act of sweeping it,
winks with sympathy. This chafing over, the ornamental part of Mr.
George's toilet is soon performed. He fills his pipe, lights it,
and marches up and down smoking, as his custom is, while Phil,
raising a powerful odour of hot rolls and coffee, prepares
breakfast. He smokes gravely and marches in slow time. Perhaps
this morning's pipe is devoted to the memory of Gridley in his
"And so, Phil," says George of the shooting gallery after several
turns in silence, "you were dreaming of the country last night?"
Phil, by the by, said as much in a tone of surprise as he scrambled
out of bed.
"What was it like?"
"I hardly know what it was like, guv'ner," said Phil, considering.
"How did you know it was the country?"
"On account of the grass, I think. And the swans upon it," says
Phil after further consideration.
"What were the swans doing on the grass?"
"They was a-eating of it, I expect," says Phil.
The master resumes his march, and the man resumes his preparation
of breakfast. It is not necessarily a lengthened preparation,
being limited to the setting forth of very simple breakfast
requisites for two and the broiling of a rasher of bacon at the
fire in the rusty grate; but as Phil has to sidle round a
considerable part of the gallery for every object he wants, and
never brings two objects at once, it takes time under the
circumstances. At length the breakfast is ready. Phil announcing
it, Mr. George knocks the ashes out of his pipe on the hob, stands
his pipe itself in the chimney corner, and sits down to the meal.
When he has helped himself, Phil follows suit, sitting at the
extreme end of the little oblong table and taking his plate on his
knees. Either in humility, or to hide his blackened hands, or
because it is his natural manner of eating.
"The country," says Mr. George, plying his knife and fork; "why, I
suppose you never clapped your eyes on the country, Phil?"
"I see the marshes once," says Phil, contentedly eating his
"THE marshes, commander," returns Phil.
"Where are they?"
"I don't know where they are," says Phil; "but I see 'em, guv'ner.
They was flat. And miste."
Governor and commander are interchangeable terms with Phil,
expressive of the same respect and deference and applicable to
nobody but Mr. George.
"I was born in the country, Phil."
"Was you indeed, commander?"
"Yes. And bred there."
Phil elevates his one eyebrow, and after respectfully staring at
his master to express interest, swallows a great gulp of coffee,
still staring at him.
"There's not a bird's note that I don't know," says Mr. George.
"Not many an English leaf or berry that I couldn't name. Not many
a tree that I couldn't climb yet if I was put to it. I was a real
country boy, once. My good mother lived in the country."
"She must have been a fine old lady, guv'ner," Phil observes.
"Aye! And not so old either, five and thirty years ago," says Mr.
George. "But I'll wager that at ninety she would be near as
upright as me, and near as broad across the shoulders."
"Did she die at ninety, guv'ner?" inquires Phil.
"No. Bosh! Let her rest in peace, God bless her!" says the
trooper. "What set me on about country boys, and runaways, and
good-for-nothings? You, to be sure! So you never clapped your
eyes upon the country--marshes and dreams excepted. Eh?"
Phil shakes his head.
"Do you want to see it?"
"N-no, I don't know as I do, particular," says Phil.
"The town's enough for you, eh?"
"Why, you see, commander," says Phil, "I ain't acquainted with
anythink else, and I doubt if I ain't a-getting too old to take to
"How old ARE you, Phil?" asks the trooper, pausing as he conveys
his smoking saucer to his lips.
"I'm something with a eight in it," says Phil. "It can't be
eighty. Nor yet eighteen. It's betwixt 'em, somewheres."
Mr. George, slowly putting down his saucer without tasting its
contents, is laughingly beginning, "Why, what the deuce, Phil--"
when he stops, seeing that Phil is counting on his dirty fingers.
"I was just eight," says Phil, "agreeable to the parish
calculation, when I went with the tinker. I was sent on a errand,
and I see him a-sittin under a old buildin with a fire all to
himself wery comfortable, and he says, 'Would you like to come
along a me, my man?' I says 'Yes,' and him and me and the fire
goes home to Clerkenwell together. That was April Fool Day. I was
able to count up to ten; and when April Fool Day come round again,
I says to myself, 'Now, old chap, you're one and a eight in it.'
April Fool Day after that, I says, 'Now, old chap, you're two and a
eight in it.' In course of time, I come to ten and a eight in it;
two tens and a eight in it. When it got so high, it got the upper
hand of me, but this is how I always know there's a eight in it."
"Ah!" says Mr. George, resuming his breakfast. "And where's the
"Drink put him in the hospital, guv'ner, and the hospital put him--
in a glass-case, I HAVE heerd," Phil replies mysteriously.
"By that means you got promotion? Took the business, Phil?"
"Yes, commander, I took the business. Such as it was. It wasn't
much of a beat--round Saffron Hill, Hatton Garden, Clerkenwell,
Smiffeld, and there--poor neighbourhood, where they uses up the
kettles till they're past mending. Most of the tramping tinkers
used to come and lodge at our place; that was the best part of my
master's earnings. But they didn't come to me. I warn't like him.
He could sing 'em a good song. I couldn't! He could play 'em a
tune on any sort of pot you please, so as it was iron or block tin.
I never could do nothing with a pot but mend it or bile it--never
had a note of music in me. Besides, I was too ill-looking, and
their wives complained of me."
"They were mighty particular. You would pass muster in a crowd,
Phil!" says the trooper with a pleasant smile.
"No, guv'ner," returns Phil, shaking his head. "No, I shouldn't.
I was passable enough when I went with the tinker, though nothing
to boast of then; but what with blowing the fire with my mouth when
I was young, and spileing my complexion, and singeing my hair off,
and swallering the smoke, and what with being nat'rally unfort'nate
in the way of running against hot metal and marking myself by sich
means, and what with having turn-ups with the tinker as I got
older, almost whenever he was too far gone in drink--which was
almost always--my beauty was queer, wery queer, even at that time.
As to since, what with a dozen years in a dark forge where the men
was given to larking, and what with being scorched in a accident at
a gas-works, and what with being blowed out of winder case-filling
at the firework business, I am ugly enough to be made a show on!"
Resigning himself to which condition with a perfectly satisfied
manner, Phil begs the favour of another cup of coffee. While
drinking it, he says, "It was after the case-filling blow-up when I
first see you, commander. You remember?"
"I remember, Phil. You were walking along in the sun."
"Crawling, guv'ner, again a wall--"
"True, Phil--shouldering your way on--"
"In a night-cap!" exclaims Phil, excited.
"In a night-cap--"
"And hobbling with a couple of sticks!" cries Phil, still more
"With a couple of sticks. When--"
"When you stops, you know," cries Phil, putting down his cup and
saucer and hastily removing his plate from his knees, "and says to
me, 'What, comrade! You have been in the wars!' I didn't say much
to you, commander, then, for I was took by surprise that a person
so strong and healthy and bold as you was should stop to speak to
such a limping bag of bones as I was. But you says to me, says
you, delivering it out of your chest as hearty as possible, so that
it was like a glass of something hot, 'What accident have you met
with? You have been badly hurt. What's amiss, old boy? Cheer up,
and tell us about it!' Cheer up! I was cheered already! I says
as much to you, you says more to me, I says more to you, you says
more to me, and here I am, commander! Here I am, commander!" cries
Phil, who has started from his chair and unaccountably begun to
sidle away. "If a mark's wanted, or if it will improve the
business, let the customers take aim at me. They can't spoil MY
beauty. I'M all right. Come on! If they want a man to box at,
let 'em box at me. Let 'em knock me well about the head. I don't
mind. If they want a light-weight to be throwed for practice,
Cornwall, Devonshire, or Lancashire, let 'em throw me. They won't
hurt ME. I have been throwed, all sorts of styles, all my life!"
With this unexpected speech, energetically delivered and
accompanied by action illustrative of the various exercises
referred to, Phil Squod shoulders his way round three sides of the
gallery, and abruptly tacking off at his commander, makes a butt at
him with his head, intended to express devotion to his service. He
then begins to clear away the breakfast.
Mr. George, after laughing cheerfully and clapping him on the
shoulder, assists in these arrangements and helps to get the
gallery into business order. That done, he takes a turn at the
dumb-bells, and afterwards weighing himself and opining that he is
getting "too fleshy," engages with great gravity in solitary
broadsword practice. Meanwhile Phil has fallen to work at his
usual table, where he screws and unscrews, and cleans, and files,
and whistles into small apertures, and blackens himself more and
more, and seems to do and undo everything that can be done and
undone about a gun.
Master and man are at length disturbed by footsteps in the passage,
where they make an unusual sound, denoting the arrival of unusual
company. These steps, advancing nearer and nearer to the gallery,
bring into it a group at first sight scarcely reconcilable with any
day in the year but the fifth of November.
It consists of a limp and ugly figure carried in a chair by two
bearers and attended by a lean female with a face like a pinched
mask, who might be expected immediately to recite the popular
verses commemorative of the time when they did contrive to blow Old
England up alive but for her keeping her lips tightly and defiantly
closed as the chair is put down. At which point the figure in it
gasping, "O Lord! Oh, dear me! I am shaken!" adds, "How de do, my
dear friend, how de do?" Mr. George then descries, in the
procession, the venerable Mr. Smallweed out for an airing, attended
by his granddaughter Judy as body-guard.
"Mr. George, my dear friend," says Grandfather Smallweed, removing
his right arm from the neck of one of his bearers, whom he has
nearly throttled coming along, "how de do? You're surprised to see
me, my dear friend."
"I should hardly have been more surprised to have seen your friend
in the city," returns Mr. George.
"I am very seldom out," pants Mr. Smallweed. "I haven't been out
for many months. It's inconvenient--and it comes expensive. But I
longed so much to see you, my dear Mr. George. How de do, sir?"
"I am well enough," says Mr. George. "I hope you are the same."
"You can't be too well, my dear friend." Mr. Smallweed takes him
by both hands. "I have brought my granddaughter Judy. I couldn't
keep her away. She longed so much to see you."
"Hum! She hears it calmly!" mutters Mr. George.
"So we got a hackney-cab, and put a chair in it, and just round the
corner they lifted me out of the cab and into the chair, and
carried me here that I might see my dear friend in his own
establishment! This," says Grandfather Smallweed, alluding to the
bearer, who has been in danger of strangulation and who withdraws
adjusting his windpipe, "is the driver of the cab. He has nothing
extra. It is by agreement included in his fare. This person," the
other bearer, "we engaged in the street outside for a pint of beer.
Which is twopence. Judy, give the person twopence. I was not sure
you had a workman of your own here, my dear friend, or we needn't
have employed this person."
Grandfather Smallweed refers to Phil with a glance of considerable
terror and a half-subdued "O Lord! Oh, dear me!" Nor in his
apprehension, on the surface of things, without some reason, for
Phil, who has never beheld the apparition in the black-velvet cap
before, has stopped short with a gun in his hand with much of the
air of a dead shot intent on picking Mr. Smallweed off as an ugly
old bird of the crow species.
"Judy, my child," says Grandfather Smallweed, "give the person his
twopence. It's a great deal for what he has done."
The person, who is one of those extraordinary specimens of human
fungus that spring up spontaneously in the western streets of
London, ready dressed in an old red jacket, with a "mission" for
holding horses and calling coaches, received his twopence with
anything but transport, tosses the money into the air, catches it
over-handed, and retires.
"My dear Mr. George," says Grandfather Smallweed, "would you be so
kind as help to carry me to the fire? I am accustomed to a fire,
and I am an old man, and I soon chill. Oh, dear me!"
His closing exclamation is jerked out of the venerable gentleman by
the suddenness with which Mr. Squod, like a genie, catches him up,
chair and all, and deposits him on the hearth-stone.
"O Lord!" says Mr. Smallweed, panting. "Oh, dear me! Oh, my
stars! My dear friend, your workman is very strong--and very
prompt. O Lord, he is very prompt! Judy, draw me back a little.
I'm being scorched in the legs," which indeed is testified to the
noses of all present by the smell of his worsted stockings.
The gentle Judy, having backed her grandfather a little way from
the fire, and having shaken him up as usual, and having released
his overshadowed eye from its black-velvet extinguisher, Mr.
Smallweed again says, "Oh, dear me! O Lord!" and looking about and
meeting Mr. George's glance, again stretches out both hands.
"My dear friend! So happy in this meeting! And this is your
establishment? It's a delightful place. It's a picture! You
never find that anything goes off here accidentally, do you, my
dear friend?" adds Grandfather Smallweed, very ill at ease.
"No, no. No fear of that."
"And your workman. He--Oh, dear me!--he never lets anything off
without meaning it, does he, my dear friend?"
"He has never hurt anybody but himself," says Mr. George, smiling.
"But he might, you know. He seems to have hurt himself a good
deal, and he might hurt somebody else," the old gentleman returns.
"He mightn't mean it--or he even might. Mr. George, will you order
him to leave his infernal firearms alone and go away?"
Obedient to a nod from the trooper, Phil retires, empty-handed, to
the other end of the gallery. Mr. Smallweed, reassured, falls to
rubbing his legs.
"And you're doing well, Mr. George?" he says to the trooper,
squarely standing faced about towards him with his broadsword in
his hand. "You are prospering, please the Powers?"
Mr. George answers with a cool nod, adding, "Go on. You have not
come to say that, I know."
"You are so sprightly, Mr. George," returns the venerable
grandfather. "You are such good company."
"Ha ha! Go on!" says Mr. George.
"My dear friend! But that sword looks awful gleaming and sharp.
It might cut somebody, by accident. It makes me shiver, Mr.
George. Curse him!" says the excellent old gentleman apart to Judy
as the trooper takes a step or two away to lay it aside. "He owes
me money, and might think of paying off old scores in this
murdering place. I wish your brimstone grandmother was here, and
he'd shave her head off."
Mr. George, returning, folds his arms, and looking down at the old
man, sliding every moment lower and lower in his chair, says
quietly, "Now for it!"
"Ho!" cries Mr. Smallweed, rubbing his hands with an artful
chuckle. "Yes. Now for it. Now for what, my dear friend?"
"For a pipe," says Mr. George, who with great composure sets his
chair in the chimney-corner, takes his pipe from the grate, fills
it and lights it, and falls to smoking peacefully.
This tends to the discomfiture of Mr. Smallweed, who finds it so
difficult to resume his object, whatever it may be, that he becomes
exasperated and secretly claws the air with an impotent
vindictiveness expressive of an intense desire to tear and rend the
visage of Mr. George. As the excellent old gentleman's nails are
long and leaden, and his hands lean and veinous, and his eyes green
and watery; and, over and above this, as he continues, while he
claws, to slide down in his chair and to collapse into a shapeless
bundle, he becomes such a ghastly spectacle, even in the accustomed
eyes of Judy, that that young virgin pounces at him with something
more than the ardour of affection and so shakes him up and pats and
pokes him in divers parts of his body, but particularly in that
part which the science of self-defence would call his wind, that in
his grievous distress he utters enforced sounds like a paviour's
When Judy has by these means set him up again in his chair, with a
white face and a frosty nose (but still clawing), she stretches out
her weazen forefinger and gives Mr. George one poke in the back.
The trooper raising his head, she makes another poke at her
esteemed grandfather, and having thus brought them together, stares
rigidly at the fire.
"Aye, aye! Ho, ho! U--u--u--ugh!" chatters Grandfather Smallweed,
swallowing his rage. "My dear friend!" (still clawing).
"I tell you what," says Mr. George. "If you want to converse with
me, you must speak out. I am one of the roughs, and I can't go
about and about. I haven't the art to do it. I am not clever
enough. It don't suit me. When you go winding round and round
me," says the trooper, putting his pipe between his lips again,
"damme, if I don't feel as if I was being smothered!"
And he inflates his broad chest to its utmost extent as if to
assure himself that he is not smothered yet.
"If you have come to give me a friendly call," continues Mr.
George, "I am obliged to you; how are you? If you have come to see
whether there's any property on the premises, look about you; you
are welcome. If you want to out with something, out with it!"
The blooming Judy, without removing her gaze from the fire, gives
her grandfather one ghostly poke.
"You see! It's her opinion too. And why the devil that young
woman won't sit down like a Christian," says Mr. George with his
eyes musingly fixed on Judy, "I can't comprehend."
"She keeps at my side to attend to me, sir," says Grandfather
Smallweed. "I am an old man, my dear Mr. George, and I need some
attention. I can carry my years; I am not a brimstone poll-parrot"
(snarling and looking unconsciously for the cushion), "but I need
attention, my dear friend."
"Well!" returns the trooper, wheeling his chair to face the old
man. "Now then?"
"My friend in the city, Mr. George, has done a little business with
a pupil of yours."
"Has he?" says Mr. George. "I am sorry to hear it."
"Yes, sir." Grandfather Smallweed rubs his legs. "He is a fine
young soldier now, Mr. George, by the name of Carstone. Friends
came forward and paid it all up, honourable."
"Did they?" returns Mr. George. "Do you think your friend in the
city would like a piece of advice?"
"I think he would, my dear friend. From you."
"I advise him, then, to do no more business in that quarter.
There's no more to be got by it. The young gentleman, to my
knowledge, is brought to a dead halt."
"No, no, my dear friend. No, no, Mr. George. No, no, no, sir,"
remonstrates Grandfather Smallweed, cunningly rubbing his spare
legs. "Not quite a dead halt, I think. He has good friends, and
he is good for his pay, and he is good for the selling price of his
commission, and he is good for his chance in a lawsuit, and he is
good for his chance in a wife, and--oh, do you know, Mr. George, I
think my friend would consider the young gentleman good for
something yet?" says Grandfather Smallweed, turning up his velvet
cap and scratching his ear like a monkey.
Mr. George, who has put aside his pipe and sits with an arm on his
chair-back, beats a tattoo on the ground with his right foot as if
he were not particularly pleased with the turn the conversation has
"But to pass from one subject to another," resumes Mr. Smallweed.
"'To promote the conversation, as a joker might say. To pass, Mr.
George, from the ensign to the captain."
"What are you up to, now?" asks Mr. George, pausing with a frown in
stroking the recollection of his moustache. "What captain?"
"Our captain. The captain we know of. Captain Hawdon."
"Oh! That's it, is it?" says Mr. George with a low whistle as he
sees both grandfather and granddaughter looking hard at him. "You
are there! Well? What about it? Come, I won't be smothered any
"My dear friend," returns the old man, "I was applied--Judy, shake
me up a little!--I was applied to yesterday about the captain, and
my opinion still is that the captain is not dead."
"Bosh!" observes Mr. George.
"What was your remark, my dear friend?" inquires the old man with
his hand to his ear.
"Ho!" says Grandfather Smallweed. "Mr. George, of my opinion you
can judge for yourself according to the questions asked of me and
the reasons given for asking 'em. Now, what do you think the
lawyer making the inquiries wants?"
"A job," says Mr. George.
"Nothing of the kind!"
"Can't be a lawyer, then," says Mr. George, folding his arms with
an air of confirmed resolution.
"My dear friend, he is a lawyer, and a famous one. He wants to see
some fragment in Captain Hawdon's writing. He don't want to keep
it. He only wants to see it and compare it with a writing in his
"Well, Mr. George. Happening to remember the advertisement
concerning Captain Hawdon and any information that could be given
respecting him, he looked it up and came to me--just as you did, my
dear friend. WILL you shake hands? So glad you came that day! I
should have missed forming such a friendship if you hadn't come!"
"Well, Mr. Smallweed?" says Mr. George again after going through
the ceremony with some stiffness.
"I had no such thing. I have nothing but his signature. Plague
pestilence and famine, battle murder and sudden death upon him,"
says the old man, making a curse out of one of his few remembrances
of a prayer and squeezing up his velvet cap between his angry
hands, "I have half a million of his signatures, I think! But
you," breathlessly recovering his mildness of speech as Judy re-
adjusts the cap on his skittle-ball of a head, "you, my dear Mr.
George, are likely to have some letter or paper that would suit the
purpose. Anything would suit the purpose, written in the hand."
"Some writing in that hand," says the trooper, pondering; "may be,
"My dearest friend!"
"May be, I have not."
"Ho!" says Grandfather Smallweed, crest-fallen.
"But if I had bushels of it, I would not show as much as would make
a cartridge without knowing why."
"Sir, I have told you why. My dear Mr. George, I have told you
"Not enough," says the trooper, shaking his head. "I must know
more, and approve it."
"Then, will you come to the lawyer? My dear friend, will you come
and see the gentleman?" urges Grandfather Smallweed, pulling out a
lean old silver watch with hands like the leg of a skeleton. "I
told him it was probable I might call upon him between ten and
eleven this forenoon, and it's now half after ten. Will you come
and see the gentleman, Mr. George?"
"Hum!" says he gravely. "I don't mind that. Though why this
should concern you so much, I don't know."
"Everything concerns me that has a chance in it of bringing
anything to light about him. Didn't he take us all in? Didn't he
owe us immense sums, all round? Concern me? Who can anything
about him concern more than me? Not, my dear friend," says
Grandfather Smallweed, lowering his tone, "that I want YOU to
betray anything. Far from it. Are you ready to come, my dear
"Aye! I'll come in a moment. I promise nothing, you know."
"No, my dear Mr. George; no."
"And you mean to say you're going to give me a lift to this place,
wherever it is, without charging for it?" Mr. George inquires,
getting his hat and thick wash-leather gloves.
This pleasantry so tickles Mr. Smallweed that he laughs, long and
low, before the fire. But ever while he laughs, he glances over
his paralytic shoulder at Mr. George and eagerly watches him as he
unlocks the padlock of a homely cupboard at the distant end of the
gallery, looks here and there upon the higher shelves, and
ultimately takes something out with a rustling of paper, folds it,
and puts it in his breast. Then Judy pokes Mr. Smallweed once, and
Mr. Smallweed pokes Judy once.
"I am ready," says the trooper, coming back. "Phil, you can carry
this old gentleman to his coach, and make nothing of him."
"Oh, dear me! O Lord! Stop a moment!" says Mr. Smallweed. "He's
so very prompt! Are you sure you can do it carefully, my worthy
Phil makes no reply, but seizing the chair and its load, sidles
away, tightly bugged by the now speechless Mr. Smallweed, and bolts
along the passage as if he had an acceptable commission to carry
the old gentleman to the nearest volcano. His shorter trust,
however, terminating at the cab, he deposits him there; and the
fair Judy takes her place beside him, and the chair embellishes the
roof, and Mr. George takes the vacant place upon the box.
Mr. George is quite confounded by the spectacle he beholds from
time to time as he peeps into the cab through the window behind
him, where the grim Judy is always motionless, and the old
gentleman with his cap over one eye is always sliding off the seat
into the straw and looking upward at him out of his other eye with
a helpless expression of being jolted in the back.
More Old Soldiers Than One
Mr. George has not far to ride with folded arms upon the box, for
their destination is Lincoln's Inn Fields. When the driver stops
his horses, Mr. George alights, and looking in at the window, says,
"What, Mr. Tulkinghorn's your man, is he?"
"Yes, my dear friend. Do you know him, Mr. George?"
"Why, I have heard of him--seen him too, I think. But I don't know
him, and he don't know me."
There ensues the carrying of Mr. Smallweed upstairs, which is done
to perfection with the trooper's help. He is borne into Mr.
Tulkinghorn's great room and deposited on the Turkey rug before the
fire. Mr. Tulkinghorn is not within at the present moment but will
be back directly. The occupant of the pew in the hall, having said
thus much, stirs the fire and leaves the triumvirate to warm
Mr. George is mightily curious in respect of the room. He looks up
at the painted ceiling, looks round at the old law-books,
contemplates the portraits of the great clients, reads aloud the
names on the boxes.
"'Sir Leicester Dedlock, Baronet,'" Mr. George reads thoughtfully.
"Ha! 'Manor of Chesney Wold.' Humph!" Mr. George stands looking
at these boxes a long while--as if they were pictures--and comes
back to the fire repeating, "Sir Leicester Dedlock, Baronet, and
Manor of Chesney Wold, hey?"
"Worth a mint of money, Mr. George!" whispers Grandfather
Smallweed, rubbing his legs. "Powerfully rich!"
"Who do you mean? This old gentleman, or the Baronet?"
"This gentleman, this gentleman."
"So I have heard; and knows a thing or two, I'll hold a wager. Not
bad quarters, either," says Mr. George, looking round again. "See
the strong-box yonder!"
This reply is cut short by Mr. Tulkinghorn's arrival. There is no
change in him, of course. Rustily drest, with his spectacles in
his hand, and their very case worn threadbare. In manner, close
and dry. In voice, husky and low. In face, watchful behind a
blind; habitually not uncensorious and contemptuous perhaps. The
peerage may have warmer worshippers and faithfuller believers than
Mr. Tulkinghorn, after all, if everything were known.
"Good morning, Mr. Smallweed, good morning!" he says as he comes
in. "You have brought the sergeant, I see. Sit down, sergeant."
As Mr. Tulkinghorn takes off his gloves and puts them in his hat,
he looks with half-closed eyes across the room to where the trooper
stands and says within himself perchance, "You'll do, my friend!"
"Sit down, sergeant," he repeats as he comes to his table, which is
set on one side of the fire, and takes his easy-chair. "Cold and
raw this morning, cold and raw!" Mr. Tulkinghorn warms before the
bars, alternately, the palms and knuckles of his hands and looks
(from behind that blind which is always down) at the trio sitting
in a little semicircle before him.
"Now, I can feel what I am about" (as perhaps he can in two
senses), "Mr. Smallweed." The old gentleman is newly shaken up by
Judy to bear his part in the conversation. "You have brought our
good friend the sergeant, I see."
"Yes, sir," returns Mr. Smallweed, very servile to the lawyer's
wealth and influence.
"And what does the sergeant say about this business?"
"Mr. George," says Grandfather Smallweed with a tremulous wave of
his shrivelled hand, "this is the gentleman, sir."
Mr. George salutes the gentleman but otherwise sits bolt upright
and profoundly silent--very forward in his chair, as if the full
complement of regulation appendages for a field-day hung about him.
Mr. Tulkinghorn proceeds, "Well, George--I believe your name is
"It is so, Sir."
"What do you say, George?"
"I ask your pardon, sir," returns the trooper, "but I should wish
to know what YOU say?"
"Do you mean in point of reward?"
"I mean in point of everything, sir."
This is so very trying to Mr. Smallweed's temper that he suddenly
breaks out with "You're a brimstone beast!" and as suddenly asks
pardon of Mr. Tulkinghorn, excusing himself for this slip of the
tongue by saying to Judy, "I was thinking of your grandmother, my
"I supposed, sergeant," Mr. Tulkinghorn resumes as he leans on one
side of his chair and crosses his legs, "that Mr. Smallweed might
have sufficiently explained the matter. It lies in the smallest
compass, however. You served under Captain Hawdon at one time, and
were his attendant in illness, and rendered him many little
services, and were rather in his confidence, I am told. That is
so, is it not?"
"Yes, sir, that is so," says Mr. George with military brevity.
"Therefore you may happen to have in your possession something--
anything, no matter what; accounts, instructions, orders, a letter,
anything--in Captain Hawdon's writing. I wish to compare his
writing with some that I have. If you can give me the opportunity,
you shall be rewarded for your trouble. Three, four, five,
guineas, you would consider handsome, I dare say."
"Noble, my dear friend!" cries Grandfather Smallweed, screwing up
"If not, say how much more, in your conscience as a soldier, you
can demand. There is no need for you to part with the writing,
against your inclination--though I should prefer to have it."
Mr. George sits squared in exactly the same attitude, looks at the
painted ceiling, and says never a word. The irascible Mr.
Smallweed scratches the air.
"The question is," says Mr. Tulkinghorn in his methodical, subdued,
uninterested way, "first, whether you have any of Captain Hawdon's
"First, whether I have any of Captain Hawdon's writing, sir,"
repeats Mr. George.
"Secondly, what will satisfy you for the trouble of producing it?"
"Secondly, what will satisfy me for the trouble of producing it,
sir," repeats Mr. George.
"Thirdly, you can judge for yourself whether it is at all like
that," says Mr. Tulkinghorn, suddenly handing him some sheets of
written paper tied together.
"Whether it is at all like that, sir. Just so," repeats Mr.
All three repetitions Mr. George pronounces in a mechanical manner,
looking straight at Mr. Tulkinghorn; nor does he so much as glance
at the affidavit in Jarndyce and Jarndyce, that has been given to
him for his inspection (though he still holds it in his hand), but
continues to look at the lawyer with an air of troubled meditation.
"Well?" says Mr. Tulkinghorn. "What do you say?"
"Well, sir," replies Mr. George, rising erect and looking immense,
"I would rather, if you'll excuse me, have nothing to do with
Mr. Tulkinghorn, outwardly quite undisturbed, demands, "Why not?"
"Why, sir," returns the trooper. "Except on military compulsion, I
am not a man of business. Among civilians I am what they call in
Scotland a ne'er-do-weel. I have no head for papers, sir. I can
stand any fire better than a fire of cross questions. I mentioned
to Mr. Smallweed, only an hour or so ago, that when I come into
things of this kind I feel as if I was being smothered. And that
is my sensation," says Mr. George, looking round upon the company,
"at the present moment."
With that, he takes three strides forward to replace the papers on
the lawyer's table and three strides backward to resume his former
station, where he stands perfectly upright, now looking at the
ground and now at the painted ceillhg, with his hands behind him as
if to prevent himself from accepting any other document whatever.
Under this provocation, Mr. Smallweed's favourite adjective of
disparagement is so close to his tongue that he begins the words
"my dear friend" with the monosyllable "brim," thus converting the
possessive pronoun into brimmy and appearing to have an impediment
in his speech. Once past this difficulty, however, he exhorts his
dear friend in the tenderest manner not to be rash, but to do what
so eminent a gentleman requires, and to do it with a good grace,
confident that it must be unobjectionable as well as profitable.
Mr. Tulkinghorn merely utters an occasional sentence, as, "You are
the best judge of your own interest, sergeant." "Take care you do
no harm by this." "Please yourself, please yourself." "If you
know what you mean, that's quite enough." These he utters with an
appearance of perfect indifference as he looks over the papers on
his table and prepares to write a letter.
Mr. George looks distrustfully from the painted ceiling to the
ground, from the ground to Mr. Smallweed, from Mr. Smallweed to Mr.
Tulkinghorn, and from Mr. Tulkinghorn to the painted ceiling again,
often in his perplexity changing the leg on which he rests.
"I do assure you, sir," says Mr. George, "not to say it
offensively, that between you and Mr. Smallweed here, I really am
being smothered fifty times over. I really am, sir. I am not a
match for you gentlemen. Will you allow me to ask why you want to
see the captain's hand, in the case that I could find any specimen
Mr. Tulkinghorn quietly shakes his head. "No. If you were a man
of business, sergeant, you would not need to be informed that there
are confidential reasons, very harmless in themselves, for many
such wants in the profession to which I belong. But if you are
afraid of doing any injury to Captain Hawdon, you may set your mind
at rest about that."
"Aye! He is dead, sir."
"IS he?" Mr. Tulkinghorn quietly sits down to write.
"Well, sir," says the trooper, looking into his hat after another
disconcerted pause, "I am sorry not to have given you more
satisfaction. If it would be any satisfaction to any one that I
should be confirmed in my judgment that I would rather have nothing
to do with this by a friend of mine who has a better head for
business than I have, and who is an old soldier, I am willing to
consult with him. I--I really am so completely smothered myself at
present," says Mr. George, passing his hand hopelessly across his
brow, "that I don't know but what it might be a satisfaction to
Mr. Smallweed, hearing that this authority is an old soldier, so
strongly inculcates the expediency of the trooper's taking counsel
with him, and particularly informing him of its being a question of
five guineas or more, that Mr. George engages to go and see him.
Mr. Tulkinghorn says nothing either way.
"I'll consult my friend, then, by your leave, sir," says the
trooper, "and I'll take the liberty of looking in again with the
final answer in the course of the day. Mr. Smallweed, if you wish
to be carried downstairs--"
"In a moment, my dear friend, in a moment. Will you first let me
speak half a word with this gentleman in private?"
"Certainly, sir. Don't hurry yourself on my account." The trooper
retires to a distant part of the room and resumes his curious
inspection of the boxes, strong and otherwise.
"If I wasn't as weak as a brimstone baby, sir," whispers
Grandfather Smallweed, drawing the lawyer down to his level by the
lapel of his coat and flashing some half-quenched green fire out of
his angry eyes, "I'd tear the writing away from him. He's got it
buttoned in his breast. I saw him put it there. Judy saw him put
it there. Speak up, you crabbed image for the sign of a walking-
stick shop, and say you saw him put it there!"
This vehement conjuration the old gentleman accompanies with such a
thrust at his granddaughter that it is too much for his strength,
and he slips away out of his chair, drawing Mr. Tulkinghorn with
him, until he is arrested by Judy, and well shaken.
"Violence will not do for me, my friend," Mr. Tulkinghorn then
"No, no, I know, I know, sir. But it's chafing and galling--it's--
it's worse than your smattering chattering magpie of a grandmother,"
to the imperturbable Judy, who only looks at the fire, "to know he
has got what's wanted and won't give it up. He, not to give it up!
HE! A vagabond! But never mind, sir, never mind. At the most, he
has only his own way for a little while. I have him periodically
in a vice. I'll twist him, sir. I'll screw him, sir. If he won't
do it with a good grace, I'll make him do it with a bad one, sir!
Now, my dear Mr. George," says Grandfather Smallweed, winking at
the lawyer hideously as he releases him, "I am ready for your kind
assistance, my excellent friend!"
Mr. Tulkinghorn, with some shadowy sign of amusement manifesting
itself through his self-possession, stands on the hearth-rug with
his back to the fire, watching the disappearance of Mr. Smallweed
and acknowledging the trooper's parting salute with one slight nod.
It is more difficult to get rid of the old gentleman, Mr. George
finds, than to bear a hand in carrying him downstairs, for when he
is replaced in his conveyance, he is so loquacious on the subject
of the guineas and retains such an affectionate hold of his button
--having, in truth, a secret longing to rip his coat open and rob
him--that some degree of force is necessary on the trooper's part
to effect a separation. It is accomplished at last, and he
proceeds alone in quest of his adviser.
By the cloisterly Temple, and by Whitefriars (there, not without a
glance at Hanging-Sword Alley, which would seem to be something in
his way), and by Blackfriars Bridge, and Blackfriars Road, Mr.
George sedately marches to a street of little shops lying somewhere
in that ganglion of roads from Kent and Surrey, and of streets from
the bridges of London, centring in the far-famed elephant who has
lost his castle formed of a thousand four-horse coaches to a
stronger iron monster than he, ready to chop him into mince-meat
any day he dares. To one of the little shops in this street, which
is a musician's shop, having a few fiddles in the window, and some
Pan's pipes and a tambourine, and a triangle, and certain elongated
scraps of music, Mr. George directs his massive tread. And halting
at a few paces from it, as he sees a soldierly looking woman, with
her outer skirts tucked up, come forth with a small wooden tub, and
in that tub commence a-whisking and a-splashing on the margin of
the pavement, Mr. George says to himself, "She's as usual, washing
greens. I never saw her, except upon a baggage-waggon, when she
wasn't washing greens!"
The subject of this reflection is at all events so occupied in
washing greens at present that she remains unsuspicious of Mr.
George's approach until, lifting up herself and her tub together
when she has poured the water off into the gutter, she finds him
standing near her. Her reception of him is not flattering.
"George, I never see you but I wish you was a hundred mile away!"
The trooper, without remarking on this welcome, follows into the
musical-instrument shop, where the lady places her tub of greens
upon the counter, and having shaken hands with him, rests her arms
"I never," she says, "George, consider Matthew Bagnet safe a minute
when you're near him. You are that resfless and that roving--"
"Yes! I know I am, Mrs. Bagnet. I know I am."
"You know you are!" says Mrs. Bagnet. "What's the use of that?
WHY are you?"
"The nature of the animal, I suppose," returns the trooper good-
"Ah!" cries Mrs. Bagnet, something shrilly. "But what satisfaction
will the nature of the animal be to me when the animal shall have
tempted my Mat away from the musical business to New Zealand or
Mrs. Bagnet is not at all an ill-looking woman. Rather large-
boned, a little coarse in the grain, and freckled by the sun and
wind which have tanned her hair upon the forehead, but healthy,
wholesome, and bright-eyed. A strong, busy, active, honest-faced
woman of from forty-five to fifty. Clean, hardy, and so
economically dressed (though substantially) that the only article
of ornament of which she stands possessed appear's to be her
wedding-ring, around which her finger has grown to be so large
since it was put on that it will never come off again until it
shall mingle with Mrs. Bagnet's dust.
"Mrs. Bagnet," says the trooper, "I am on my parole with you. Mat
will get no harm from me. You may trust me so far."
"Well, I think I may. But the very looks of you are unsettling,"
Mrs. Bagnet rejoins. "Ah, George, George! If you had only settled
down and married Joe Pouch's widow when he died in North America,
SHE'D have combed your hair for you."
"It was a chance for me, certainly," returns the trooper half
laughingly, half seriously, "but I shall never settle down into a
respectable man now. Joe Pouch's widow might have done me good--
there was something in her, and something of her--but I couldn't
make up my mind to it. If I had had the luck to meet with such a
wife as Mat found!"
Mrs. Bagnet, who seems in a virtuous way to be under little reserve
with a good sort of fellow, but to be another good sort of fellow
herself for that matter, receives this compliment by flicking Mr.
George in the face with a head of greens and taking her tub into
the little room behind the shop.
"Why, Quebec, my poppet," says George, following, on invitation,
into that department. "And little Malta, too! Come and kiss your
These young ladies--not supposed to have been actually christened
by the names applied to them, though always so called in the family
from the places of their birth in barracks--are respectively
employed on three-legged stools, the younger (some five or six
years old) in learning her letters out of a penny primer, the elder
(eight or nine perhaps) in teaching her and sewing with great
assiduity. Both hail Mr. George with acclamations as an old friend
and after some kissing and romping plant their stools beside him.
"And how's young Woolwich?" says Mr. George.
"Ah! There now!" cries Mrs. Bagnet, turning about from her
saucepans (for she is cooking dinner) with a bright flush on her
face. "Would you believe it? Got an engagement at the theayter,
with his father, to play the fife in a military piece."
"Well done, my godson!" cries Mr. George, slapping his thigh.
"I believe you!" says Mrs. Bagnet. "He's a Briton. That's what
Woolwich is. A Briton!"
"And Mat blows away at his bassoon, and you're respectable
civilians one and all," says Mr. George. "Family people. Children
growing up. Mat's old mother in Scotland, and your old father
somewhere else, corresponded with, and helped a little, and--well,
well! To be sure, I don't know why I shouldn't be wished a hundred
mile away, for I have not much to do with all this!"
Mr. George is becoming thoughtful, sitting before the fire in the
whitewashed room, which has a sanded floor and a barrack smell and
contains nothing superfluous and has not a visible speck of dirt or
dust in it, from the faces of Quebec and Malta to the bright tin
pots and pannikins upon the dresser shelves--Mr. George is becoming
thoughtful, sitting here while Mrs. Bagnet is busy, when Mr. Bagnet
and young Woolwich opportunely come home. Mr. Bagnet is an ex-
artilleryman, tall and upright, with shaggy eyebrows and whiskers
like the fibres of a coco-nut, not a hair upon his head, and a
torrid complexion. His voice, short, deep, and resonant, is not at
all unlike the tones of the instrument to which he is devoted.
Indeed there may be generally observed in him an unbending,
unyielding, brass-bound air, as if he were himself the bassoon of
the human orchestra. Young Woolwich is the type and model of a
Both father and son salute the trooper heartily. He saying, in due
season, that he has come to advise with Mr. Bagnet, Mr. Bagnet
hospitably declares that he will hear of no business until after
dinner and that his friend shall not partake of his counsel without
first partaking of boiled pork and greens. The trooper yielding to
this invitation, he and Mr. Bagnet, not to embarrass the domestic
preparations, go forth to take a turn up and down the little
street, which they promenade with measured tread and folded arms,
as if it were a rampart.
"George," says Mr. Bagnet. "You know me. It's my old girl that
advises. She has the head. But I never own to it before her.
Discipline must be maintained. Wait till the greens is off her
mind. Then we'll consult. Whatever the old girl says, do--do it!"
"I intend to, Mat," replies the other. "I would sooner take her
opinion than that of a college."
"College," returns Mr. Bagnet in short sentences, bassoon-like.
"What college could you leave--in another quarter of the world--
with nothing but a grey cloak and an umbrella--to make its way home
to Europe? The old girl would do it to-morrow. Did it once!"
"You are right," says Mr. George.
"What college," pursues Bagnet, "could you set up in life--with two
penn'orth of white lime--a penn'orth of fuller's earth--a ha'porth
of sand--and the rest of the change out of sixpence in money?
That's what the old girl started on. In the present business."
"I am rejoiced to hear it's thriving, Mat."
"The old girl," says Mr. Bagnet, acquiescing, "saves. Has a
stocking somewhere. With money in it. I never saw it. But I know
she's got it. Wait till the greens is off her mind. Then she'll
set you up."
"She is a treasure!" exclaims Mr. George.
"She's more. But I never own to it before her. Discipline must be
maintained. It was the old girl that brought out my musical
abilities. I should have been in the artillery now but for the old
girl. Six years I hammered at the fiddle. Ten at the flute. The
old girl said it wouldn't do; intention good, but want of
flexibility; try the bassoon. The old girl borrowed a bassoon from
the bandmaster of the Rifle Regiment. I practised in the trenches.
Got on, got another, get a living by it!"
George remarks that she looks as fresh as a rose and as sound as an
"The old girl," says Mr. Bagnet in reply, "is a thoroughly fine
woman. Consequently she is like a thoroughly fine day. Gets finer
as she gets on. I never saw the old girl's equal. But I never own
to it before her. Discipline must be maintained!"
Proceeding to converse on indifferent matters, they walk up and
down the little street, keeping step and time, until summoned by
Quebec and Malta to do justice to the pork and greens, over which
Mrs. Bagnet, like a military chaplain, says a short grace. In the
distribution of these comestibles, as in every other household
duty, Mrs. Bagnet developes an exact system, sitting with every
dish before her, allotting to every portion of pork its own portion
of pot-liquor, greens, potatoes, and even mustard, and serving it
out complete. Having likewise served out the beer from a can and
thus supplied the mess with all things necessary, Mrs. Bagnet
proceeds to satisfy her own hunger, which is in a healthy state.
The kit of the mess, if the table furniture may be so denominated,
is chiefly composed of utensils of horn and tin that have done duty
in several parts of the world. Young Woolwich's knife, in
particular, which is of the oyster kind, with the additional
feature of a strong shutting-up movement which frequently balks the
appetite of that young musician, is mentioned as having gone in
various hands the complete round of foreign service.
The dinner done, Mrs. Bagnet, assisted by the younger branches (who
polish their own cups and platters, knives and forks), makes all
the dinner garniture shine as brightly as before and puts it all
away, first sweeping the hearth, to the end that Mr. Bagnet and the
visitor may not be retarded in the smoking of their pipes. These
household cares involve much pattening and counter-pattening in the
backyard and considerable use of a pail, which is finally so happy
as to assist in the ablutions of Mrs. Bagnet herself. That old
girl reappearing by and by, quite fresh, and sitting down to her
needlework, then and only then--the greens being only then to be
considered as entirely off her mind--Mr. Bagnet requests the
trooper to state his case.
This Mr. George does with great discretion, appearing to address
himself to Mr. Bagnet, but having an eye solely on the old girl all
the time, as Bagnet has himself. She, equally discreet, busies
herself with her needlework. The case fully stated, Mr. Bagnet
resorts to his standard artifice for the maintenance of discipline.
"That's the whole of it, is it, George?" says he.
"That's the whole of it."
"You act according to my opinion?"
"I shall be guided," replies George, "entirely by it."
"Old girl," says Mr. Bagnet, "give him my opinion. You know it.
Tell him what it is."
It is that he cannot have too little to do with people who are too
deep for him and cannot be too careful of interference with matters
he does not understand--that the plain rule is to do nothing in the
dark, to be a party to nothing underhanded or mysterious, and never
to put his foot where he cannot see the ground. This, in effect,
is Mr. Bagnet's opinion, as delivered through the old girl, and it
so relieves Mr. George's mind by confirming his own opinion and
banishing his doubts that he composes himself to smoke another pipe
on that exceptional occasion and to have a talk over old times with
the whole Bagnet family, according to their various ranges of
Through these means it comes to pass that Mr. George does not again
rise to his full height in that parlour until the time is drawing
on when the bassoon and fife are expected by a British public at
the theatre; and as it takes time even then for Mr. George, in his
domestic character of Bluffy, to take leave of Quebec and Malta and
insinuate a sponsorial shilling into the pocket of his godson with
felicitations on his success in life, it is dark when Mr. George
again turns his face towards Lincoln's Inn Fields.
"A family home," he ruminates as he marches along, "however small
it is, makes a man like me look lonely. But it's well I never made
that evolution of matrimony. I shouldn't have been fit for it. I
am such a vagabond still, even at my present time of life, that I
couldn't hold to the gallery a month together if it was a regular
pursuit or if I didn't camp there, gipsy fashion. Come! I
disgrace nobody and cumber nobody; that's something. I have not
done that for many a long year!"
So he whistles it off and marches on.
Arrived in Lincoln's Inn Fields and mounting Mr. Tulkinghorn's
stair, he finds the outer door closed and the chambers shut, but
the trooper not knowing much about outer doors, and the staircase
being dark besides, he is yet fumbling and groping about, hoping to
discover a bell-handle or to open the door for himself, when Mr.
Tulkinghorn comes up the stairs (quietly, of course) and angrily
asks, "Who is that? What are you doing there?"
"I ask your pardon, sir. It's George. The sergeant."
"And couldn't George, the sergeant, see that my door was locked?"
"Why, no, sir, I couldn't. At any rate, I didn't," says the
trooper, rather nettled.
"Have you changed your mind? Or are you in the same mind?" Mr.
Tulkinghorn demands. But he knows well enough at a glance.
"In the same mind, sir."
"I thought so. That's sufficient. You can go. So you are the
man," says Mr. Tulkinghorn, opening his door with the key, "in
whose hiding-place Mr. Gridley was found?"
"Yes, I AM the man," says the trooper, stopping two or three stairs
down. "What then, sir?"
"What then? I don't like your associates. You should not have
seen the inside of my door this morning if I had thought of your
being that man. Gridley? A threatening, murderous, dangerous
With these words, spoken in an unusually high tone for him, the
lawyer goes into his rooms and shuts the door with a thundering
Mr. George takes his dismissal in great dudgeon, the greater
because a clerk coming up the stairs has heard the last words of
all and evidently applies them to him. "A pretty character to
bear," the trooper growls with a hasty oath as he strides
downstairs. "A threatening, murderous, dangerous fellow!" And
looking up, he sees the clerk looking down at him and marking him
as he passes a lamp. This so intensifies his dudgeon that for five
minutes he is in an ill humour. But he whistles that off like the
rest of it and marches home to the shooting gallery.
Sir Leicester Dedlock has got the better, for the time being, of
the family gout and is once more, in a literal no less than in a
figurative point of view, upon his legs. He is at his place in
Lincolnshire; but the waters are out again on the low-lying
grounds, and the cold and damp steal into Chesney Wold, though well
defended, and eke into Sir Leicester's bones. The blazing fires of
Back to Full Books