Life And Adventures Of Martin Chuzzlewit
Part 16 out of 20
'Ah!' said the doctor, leaning back in his chair, 'I always take 'em
out of my pocket before I eat. My pockets are rather tight. Ha,
Jonas had opened one of the shining little instruments; and was
scrutinizing it with a look as sharp and eager as its own bright
'Good steel, doctor. Good steel! Eh!'
'Ye-es,' replied the doctor, with the faltering modesty of
ownership. 'One might open a vein pretty dexterously with that, Mr
'It has opened a good many in its time, I suppose?' said Jonas
looking at it with a growing interest.
'Not a few, my dear sir, not a few. It has been engaged in a--in a
pretty good practice, I believe I may say,' replied the doctor,
coughing as if the matter-of-fact were so very dry and literal that
he couldn't help it. 'In a pretty good practice,' repeated the
doctor, putting another glass of wine to his lips.
'Now, could you cut a man's throat with such a thing as this?'
'Oh certainly, certainly, if you took him in the right place,'
returned the doctor. 'It all depends upon that.'
'Where you have your hand now, hey?' cried Jonas, bending forward
to look at it.
'Yes,' said the doctor; 'that's the jugular.'
Jonas, in his vivacity, made a sudden sawing in the air, so close
behind the doctor's jugular that he turned quite red. Then Jonas
(in the same strange spirit of vivacity) burst into a loud
'No, no,' said the doctor, shaking his head; 'edge tools, edge
tools; never play with 'em. A very remarkable instance of the
skillful use of edge-tools, by the way, occurs to me at this moment.
It was a case of murder. I am afraid it was a case of murder,
committed by a member of our profession; it was so artistically
'Aye!' said Jonas. 'How was that?'
'Why, sir,' returned Jobling, 'the thing lies in a nutshell. A
certain gentleman was found, one morning, in an obscure street,
lying in an angle of a doorway--I should rather say, leaning, in an
upright position, in the angle of a doorway, and supported
consequently by the doorway. Upon his waistcoat there was one
solitary drop of blood. He was dead and cold; and had been
'Only one drop of blood!' said Jonas.
'Sir, that man,' replied the doctor, 'had been stabbed to the heart.
Had been stabbed to the heart with such dexterity, sir, that he had
died instantly, and had bled internally. It was supposed that a
medical friend of his (to whom suspicion attached) had engaged him
in conversation on some pretence; had taken him, very likely, by the
button in a conversational manner; had examined his ground at
leisure with his other hand; had marked the exact spot; drawn out
the instrument, whatever it was, when he was quite prepared; and--'
'And done the trick,' suggested Jonas.
'Exactly so,' replied the doctor. 'It was quite an operation in its
way, and very neat. The medical friend never turned up; and, as I
tell you, he had the credit of it. Whether he did it or not I can't
say. But, having had the honour to be called in with two or three
of my professional brethren on the occasion, and having assisted to
make a careful examination of the wound, I have no hesitation in
saying that it would have reflected credit on any medical man; and
that in an unprofessional person it could not but be considered,
either as an extraordinary work of art, or the result of a still
more extraordinary, happy, and favourable conjunction of
His hearer was so much interested in this case, that the doctor went
on to elucidate it with the assistance of his own finger and thumb
and waistcoat; and at Jonas's request, he took the further trouble
of going into a corner of the room, and alternately representing the
murdered man and the murderer; which he did with great effect. The
bottle being emptied and the story done, Jonas was in precisely the
same boisterous and unusual state as when they had sat down. If, as
Jobling theorized, his good digestion were the cause, he must have
been a very ostrich.
At dinner it was just the same; and after dinner too; though wine
was drunk in abundance, and various rich meats eaten. At nine
o'clock it was still the same. There being a lamp in the carriage,
he swore they would take a pack of cards, and a bottle of wine; and
with these things under his cloak, went down to the door.
'Out of the way, Tom Thumb, and get to bed!'
This was the salutation he bestowed on Mr Bailey, who, booted and
wrapped up, stood at the carriage door to help him in.
'To bed, sir! I'm a-going, too,' said Bailey.
He alighted quickly, and walked back into the hall, where Montague
was lighting a cigar; conducting Mr Bailey with him, by the collar.
'You are not a-going to take this monkey of a boy, are you?'
'Yes,' said Montague.
He gave the boy a shake, and threw him roughly aside. There was
more of his familiar self in the action, than in anything he had
done that day; but he broke out laughing immediately afterwards, and
making a thrust at the doctor with his hand, in imitation of his
representation of the medical friend, went out to the carriage
again, and took his seat. His companion followed immediately. Mr
Bailey climbed into the rumble. 'It will be a stormy night!'
exclaimed the doctor, as they started.
CONTINUATION OF THE ENTERPRISE OF MR JONAS AND HIS FRIEND
The doctor's prognostication in reference to the weather was
speedily verified. Although the weather was not a patient of his,
and no third party had required him to give an opinion on the case,
the quick fulfilment of his prophecy may be taken as an instance of
his professional tact; for, unless the threatening aspect of the
night had been perfectly plain and unmistakable, Mr Jobling would
never have compromised his reputation by delivering any sentiments
on the subject. He used this principle in Medicine with too much
success to be unmindful of it in his commonest transactions.
It was one of those hot, silent nights, when people sit at windows
listening for the thunder which they know will shortly break; when
they recall dismal tales of hurricanes and earthquakes; and of
lonely travellers on open plains, and lonely ships at sea, struck by
lightning. Lightning flashed and quivered on the black horizon even
now; and hollow murmurings were in the wind, as though it had been
blowing where the thunder rolled, and still was charged with its
exhausted echoes. But the storm, though gathering swiftly, had not
yet come up; and the prevailing stillness was the more solemn, from
the dull intelligence that seemed to hover in the air, of noise and
conflict afar off.
It was very dark; but in the murky sky there were masses of cloud
which shone with a lurid light, like monstrous heaps of copper that
had been heated in a furnace, and were growing cold. These had been
advancing steadily and slowly, but they were now motionless, or
nearly so. As the carriage clattered round the corners of the
streets, it passed at every one a knot of persons who had come
there--many from their houses close at hand, without hats--to look
up at that quarter of the sky. And now a very few large drops of
rain began to fall, and thunder rumbled in the distance.
Jonas sat in a corner of the carriage with his bottle resting on his
knee, and gripped as tightly in his hand as if he would have ground
its neck to powder if he could. Instinctively attracted by the
night, he had laid aside the pack of cards upon the cushion; and
with the same involuntary impulse, so intelligible to both of them
as not to occasion a remark on either side, his companion had
extinguished the lamp. The front glasses were down; and they sat
looking silently out upon the gloomy scene before them.
They were clear of London, or as clear of it as travellers can be
whose way lies on the Western Road, within a stage of that enormous
city. Occasionally they encountered a foot-passenger, hurrying to
the nearest place of shelter; or some unwieldy cart proceeding
onward at a heavy trot, with the same end in view. Little clusters
of such vehicles were gathered round the stable-yard or baiting-
place of every wayside tavern; while their drivers watched the
weather from the doors and open windows, or made merry within.
Everywhere the people were disposed to bear each other company
rather than sit alone; so that groups of watchful faces seemed to be
looking out upon the night AND THEM, from almost every house they
It may appear strange that this should have disturbed Jonas, or
rendered him uneasy; but it did. After muttering to himself, and
often changing his position, he drew up the blind on his side of the
carriage, and turned his shoulder sulkily towards it. But he
neither looked at his companion, nor broke the silence which
prevailed between them, and which had fallen so suddenly upon
himself, by addressing a word to him.
The thunder rolled, the lightning flashed; the rain poured down like
Heaven's wrath. Surrounded at one moment by intolerable light, and
at the next by pitchy darkness, they still pressed forward on their
journey. Even when they arrived at the end of the stage, and might
have tarried, they did not; but ordered horses out immediately. Nor
had this any reference to some five minutes' lull, which at that
time seemed to promise a cessation of the storm. They held their
course as if they were impelled and driven by its fury. Although
they had not exchanged a dozen words, and might have tarried very
well, they seemed to feel, by joint consent, that onward they must
Louder and louder the deep thunder rolled, as through the myriad
halls of some vast temple in the sky; fiercer and brighter became
the lightning, more and more heavily the rain poured down. The
horses (they were travelling now with a single pair) plunged and
started from the rills of quivering fire that seemed to wind along
the ground before them; but there these two men sat, and forward
they went as if they were led on by an invisible attraction.
The eye, partaking of the quickness of the flashing light, saw in
its every gleam a multitude of objects which it could not see at
steady noon in fifty times that period. Bells in steeples, with the
rope and wheel that moved them; ragged nests of birds in cornices
and nooks; faces full of consternation in the tilted waggons that
came tearing past; their frightened teams ringing out a warning
which the thunder drowned; harrows and ploughs left out in fields;
miles upon miles of hedge-divided country, with the distant fringe
of trees as obvious as the scarecrow in the bean-field close at hand;
in a trembling, vivid, flickering instant, everything was clear and
plain; then came a flush of red into the yellow light; a change to
blue; a brightness so intense that there was nothing else but light;
and then the deepest and profoundest darkness.
The lightning being very crooked and very dazzling may have
presented or assisted a curious optical illusion, which suddenly
rose before the startled eyes of Montague in the carriage, and as
rapidly disappeared. He thought he saw Jonas with his hand lifted,
and the bottle clenched in it like a hammer, making as if he would
aim a blow at his head. At the same time he observed (or so
believed) an expression in his face--a combination of the unnatural
excitement he had shown all day, with a wild hatred and fear--which
might have rendered a wolf a less terrible companion.
He uttered an involuntary exclamation, and called to the driver, who
brought his horses to a stop with all speed.
It could hardly have been as he supposed, for although he had not
taken his eyes off his companion, and had not seen him move, he sat
reclining in his corner as before.
'What's the matter?' said Jonas. 'Is that your general way of
waking out of your sleep?'
'I could swear,' returned the other, 'that I have not closed my
'When you have sworn it,' said Jonas, composedly, 'we had better go
on again, if you have only stopped for that.'
He uncorked the bottle with the help of his teeth; and putting it to
his lips, took a long draught.
'I wish we had never started on this journey. This is not,' said
Montague, recoiling instinctively, and speaking in a voice that
betrayed his agitation; 'this is not a night to travel in.'
'Ecod! you're right there,' returned Jonas, 'and we shouldn't be out
in it but for you. If you hadn't kept me waiting all day, we might
have been at Salisbury by this time; snug abed and fast asleep.
What are we stopping for?'
His companion put his head out of window for a moment, and drawing
it in again, observed (as if that were his cause of anxiety), that
the boy was drenched to the skin.
'Serve him right,' said Jonas. 'I'm glad of it. What the devil are
we stopping for? Are you going to spread him out to dry?'
'I have half a mind to take him inside,' observed the other with
'Oh! thankee!' said Jonas. 'We don't want any damp boys here;
especially a young imp like him. Let him be where he is. He ain't
afraid of a little thunder and lightning, I dare say; whoever else
is. Go on, driver. We had better have HIM inside perhaps,' he
muttered with a laugh; 'and the horses!'
'Don't go too fast,' cried Montague to the postillion; 'and take
care how you go. You were nearly in the ditch when I called to
This was not true; and Jonas bluntly said so, as they moved forward
again. Montague took little or no heed of what he said, but
repeated that it was not a night for travelling, and showed himself,
both then and afterwards, unusually anxious.
From this time Jonas recovered his former spirits, if such a term
may be employed to express the state in which he had left the city.
He had his bottle often at his mouth; roared out snatches of songs,
without the least regard to time or tune or voice, or anything but
loud discordance; and urged his silent friend to be merry with him.
'You're the best company in the world, my good fellow,' said
Montague with an effort, 'and in general irresistible; but to-night
--do you hear it?'
'Ecod! I hear and see it too,' cried Jonas, shading his eyes, for
the moment, from the lightning which was flashing, not in any one
direction, but all around them. 'What of that? It don't change
you, nor me, nor our affairs. Chorus, chorus,
It may lighten and storm,
Till it hunt the red worm
From the grass where the gibbet is driven;
But it can't hurt the dead,
And it won't save the head
That is doom'd to be rifled and riven.
That must be a precious old song,' he added with an oath, as he
stopped short in a kind of wonder at himself. 'I haven't heard it
since I was a boy, and how it comes into my head now, unless the
lightning put it there, I don't know. "Can't hurt the dead"! No,
no. "And won't save the head"! No, no. No! Ha, ha, ha!'
His mirth was of such a savage and extraordinary character, and was,
in an inexplicable way, at once so suited to the night, and yet such
a coarse intrusion on its terrors, that his fellow-traveller, always
a coward, shrunk from him in positive fear. Instead of Jonas being
his tool and instrument, their places seemed to be reversed. But
there was reason for this too, Montague thought; since the sense of
his debasement might naturally inspire such a man with the wish to
assert a noisy independence, and in that licence to forget his real
condition. Being quick enough, in reference to such subjects of
contemplation, he was not long in taking this argument into account
and giving it its full weight. But still, he felt a vague sense of
alarm, and was depressed and uneasy.
He was certain he had not been asleep; but his eyes might have
deceived him; for, looking at Jonas now in any interval of darkness,
he could represent his figure to himself in any attitude his state
of mind suggested. On the other hand, he knew full well that Jonas
had no reason to love him; and even taking the piece of pantomime
which had so impressed his mind to be a real gesture, and not the
working of his fancy, the most that could be said of it was, that it
was quite in keeping with the rest of his diabolical fun, and had
the same impotent expression of truth in it. 'If he could kill me
with a wish,' thought the swindler, 'I should not live long.'
He resolved that when he should have had his use of Jonas, he would
restrain him with an iron curb; in the meantime, that he could not
do better than leave him to take his own way, and preserve his own
peculiar description of good-humour, after his own uncommon manner.
It was no great sacrifice to bear with him; 'for when all is got
that can be got,' thought Montague, 'I shall decamp across the
water, and have the laugh on my side--and the gains.'
Such were his reflections from hour to hour; his state of mind being
one in which the same thoughts constantly present themselves over
and over again in wearisome repetition; while Jonas, who appeared to
have dismissed reflection altogether, entertained himself as before.
They agreed that they would go to Salisbury, and would cross to Mr
Pecksniff's in the morning; and at the prospect of deluding that
worthy gentleman, the spirits of his amiable son-in-law became more
boisterous than ever.
As the night wore on, the thunder died away, but still rolled
gloomily and mournfully in the distance. The lightning too, though
now comparatively harmless, was yet bright and frequent. The rain
was quite as violent as it had ever been.
It was their ill-fortune, at about the time of dawn and in the last
stage of their journey, to have a restive pair of horses. These
animals had been greatly terrified in their stable by the tempest;
and coming out into the dreary interval between night and morning,
when the glare of the lightning was yet unsubdued by day, and the
various objects in their view were presented in indistinct and
exaggerated shapes which they would not have worn by night, they
gradually became less and less capable of control; until, taking a
sudden fright at something by the roadside, they dashed off wildly
down a steep hill, flung the driver from his saddle, drew the
carriage to the brink of a ditch, stumbled headlong down, and threw
it crashing over.
The travellers had opened the carriage door, and had either jumped
or fallen out. Jonas was the first to stagger to his feet. He felt
sick and weak, and very giddy, and reeling to a five-barred gate,
stood holding by it; looking drowsily about as the whole landscape
swam before his eyes. But, by degrees, he grew more conscious, and
presently observed that Montague was lying senseless in the road,
within a few feet of the horses.
In an instant, as if his own faint body were suddenly animated by a
demon, he ran to the horses' heads; and pulling at their bridles
with all his force, set them struggling and plunging with such mad
violence as brought their hoofs at every effort nearer to the skull
of the prostrate man; and must have led in half a minute to his
brains being dashed out on the highway.
As he did this, he fought and contended with them like a man
possessed, making them wilder by his cries.
'Whoop!' cried Jonas. 'Whoop! again! another! A little more, a
little more! Up, ye devils! Hillo!'
As he heard the driver, who had risen and was hurrying up, crying to
him to desist, his violence increased.
'Hiilo! Hillo!' cried Jonas.
'For God's sake!' cried the driver. 'The gentleman--in the road--
he'll be killed!'
The same shouts and the same struggles were his only answer. But
the man darting in at the peril of his own life, saved Montague's,
by dragging him through the mire and water out of the reach of
present harm. That done, he ran to Jonas; and with the aid of his
knife they very shortly disengaged the horses from the broken
chariot, and got them, cut and bleeding, on their legs again. The
postillion and Jonas had now leisure to look at each other, which
they had not had yet.
'Presence of mind, presence of mind!' cried Jonas, throwing up his
hands wildly. 'What would you have done without me?'
'The other gentleman would have done badly without ME,' returned the
man, shaking his head. 'You should have moved him first. I gave
him up for dead.'
'Presence of mind, you croaker, presence of mind' cried Jonas with a
harsh loud laugh. 'Was he struck, do you think?'
They both turned to look at him. Jonas muttered something to
himself, when he saw him sitting up beneath the hedge, looking
'What's the matter?' asked Montague. 'Is anybody hurt?'
'Ecod!' said Jonas, 'it don't seem so. There are no bones broken,
They raised him, and he tried to walk. He was a good deal shaken,
and trembled very much. But with the exception of a few cuts and
bruises this was all the damage he had sustained.
'Cuts and bruises, eh?' said Jonas. 'We've all got them. Only cuts
and bruises, eh?'
'I wouldn't have given sixpence for the gentleman's head in half-a-
dozen seconds more, for all he's only cut and bruised,' observed the
post-boy. 'If ever you're in an accident of this sort again, sir;
which I hope you won't be; never you pull at the bridle of a horse
that's down, when there's a man's head in the way. That can't be
done twice without there being a dead man in the case; it would have
ended in that, this time, as sure as ever you were born, if I hadn't
come up just when I did.'
Jonas replied by advising him with a curse to hold his tongue, and
to go somewhere, whither he was not very likely to go of his own
accord. But Montague, who had listened eagerly to every word,
himself diverted the subject, by exclaiming: 'Where's the boy?'
'Ecod! I forgot that monkey,' said Jonas. 'What's become of him?' A
very brief search settled that question. The unfortunate Mr Bailey
had been thrown sheer over the hedge or the five-barred gate; and
was lying in the neighbouring field, to all appearance dead.
'When I said to-night, that I wished I had never started on this
journey,' cried his master, 'I knew it was an ill-fated one. Look
at this boy!'
'Is that all?' growled Jonas. 'If you call THAT a sign of it--'
'Why, what should I call a sign of it?' asked Montague, hurriedly.
'What do you mean?'
'I mean,' said Jonas, stooping down over the body, 'that I never
heard you were his father, or had any particular reason to care much
about him. Halloa. Hold up there!'
But the boy was past holding up, or being held up, or giving any
other sign of life than a faint and fitful beating of the heart.
After some discussion the driver mounted the horse which had been
least injured, and took the lad in his arms as well as he could;
while Montague and Jonas, leading the other horse, and carrying a
trunk between them, walked by his side towards Salisbury.
'You'd get there in a few minutes, and be able to send assistance to
meet us, if you went forward, post-boy,' said Jonas. 'Trot on!'
'No, no,' cried Montague; 'we'll keep together.'
'Why, what a chicken you are! You are not afraid of being robbed;
are you?' said Jonas.
'I am not afraid of anything,' replied the other, whose looks and
manner were in flat contradiction to his words. 'But we'll keep
'You were mighty anxious about the boy, a minute ago,' said Jonas.
'I suppose you know that he may die in the meantime?'
'Aye, aye. I know. But we'll keep together.'
As it was clear that he was not to be moved from this determination,
Jonas made no other rejoinder than such as his face expressed; and
they proceeded in company. They had three or four good miles to
travel; and the way was not made easier by the state of the road,
the burden by which they were embarrassed, or their own stiff and
sore condition. After a sufficiently long and painful walk, they
arrived at the Inn; and having knocked the people up (it being yet
very early in the morning), sent out messengers to see to the
carriage and its contents, and roused a surgeon from his bed to tend
the chief sufferer. All the service he could render, he rendered
promptly and skillfully. But he gave it as his opinion that the boy
was labouring under a severe concussion of the brain, and that Mr
Bailey's mortal course was run.
If Montague's strong interest in the announcement could have been
considered as unselfish in any degree, it might have been a
redeeming trait in a character that had no such lineaments to spare.
But it was not difficult to see that, for some unexpressed reason
best appreciated by himself, he attached a strange value to the
company and presence of this mere child. When, after receiving some
assistance from the surgeon himself, he retired to the bedroom
prepared for him, and it was broad day, his mind was still dwelling
on this theme,
'I would rather have lost,' he said, 'a thousand pounds than lost
the boy just now. But I'll return home alone. I am resolved upon
that. Chuzzlewit shall go forward first, and I will follow in my
own time. I'll have no more of this,' he added, wiping his damp
forehead. 'Twenty-four hours of this would turn my hair grey!'
After examining his chamber, and looking under the bed, and in the
cupboards, and even behind the curtains, with unusual caution
(although it was, as has been said, broad day), he double-locked the
door by which he had entered, and retired to rest. There was
another door in the room, but it was locked on the outer side; and
with what place it communicated, he knew not.
His fears or evil conscience reproduced this door in all his dreams.
He dreamed that a dreadful secret was connected with it; a secret
which he knew, and yet did not know, for although he was heavily
responsible for it, and a party to it, he was harassed even in his
vision by a distracting uncertainty in reference to its import.
Incoherently entwined with this dream was another, which represented
it as the hiding-place of an enemy, a shadow, a phantom; and made it
the business of his life to keep the terrible creature closed up,
and prevent it from forcing its way in upon him. With this view
Nadgett, and he, and a strange man with a bloody smear upon his head
(who told him that he had been his playfellow, and told him, too,
the real name of an old schoolmate, forgotten until then), worked
with iron plates and nails to make the door secure; but though they
worked never so hard, it was all in vain, for the nails broke, or
changed to soft twigs, or what was worse, to worms, between their
fingers; the wood of the door splintered and crumbled, so that even
nails would not remain in it; and the iron plates curled up like hot
paper. All this time the creature on the other side--whether it was
in the shape of man, or beast, he neither knew nor sought to know--
was gaining on them. But his greatest terror was when the man with
the bloody smear upon his head demanded of him if he knew this
creatures name, and said that he would whisper it. At this the
dreamer fell upon his knees, his whole blood thrilling with
inexplicable fear, and held his ears. But looking at the speaker's
lips, he saw that they formed the utterance of the letter 'J'; and
crying out aloud that the secret was discovered, and they were all
lost, he awoke.
Awoke to find Jonas standing at his bedside watching him. And that
very door wide open.
As their eyes met, Jonas retreated a few paces, and Montague sprang
out of bed.
'Heyday!' said Jonas. 'You're all alive this morning.'
'Alive!' the other stammered, as he pulled the bell-rope violently.
'What are you doing here?'
'It's your room to be sure,' said Jonas; 'but I'm almost inclined to
ask you what YOU are doing here? My room is on the other side of
that door. No one told me last night not to open it. I thought it
led into a passage, and was coming out to order breakfast. There's
--there's no bell in my room.'
Montague had in the meantime admitted the man with his hot water and
boots, who hearing this, said, yes, there was; and passed into the
adjoining room to point it out, at the head of the bed.
'I couldn't find it, then,' said Jonas; 'it's all the same. Shall I
Montague answered in the affirmative. When Jonas had retired,
whistling, through his own room, he opened the door of
communication, to take out the key and fasten it on the inner side.
But it was taken out already.
He dragged a table against the door, and sat down to collect
himself, as if his dreams still had some influence upon his mind.
'An evil journey,' he repeated several times. 'An evil journey.
But I'll travel home alone. I'll have no more of this.'
His presentiment, or superstition, that it was an evil journey, did
not at all deter him from doing the evil for which the journey was
undertaken. With this in view, he dressed himself more carefully
than usual to make a favourable impression on Mr Pecksniff; and,
reassured by his own appearance, the beauty of the morning, and the
flashing of the wet boughs outside his window in the merry sunshine,
was soon sufficiently inspirited to swear a few round oaths, and hum
the fag-end of a song.
But he still muttered to himself at intervals, for all that: 'I'll
travel home alone!'
HAS AN INFLUENCE ON THE FORTUNES OF SEVERAL PEOPLE. MR PECKSNIFF IS
EXHIBITED IN THE PLENITUDE OF POWER; AND WIELDS THE SAME WITH
FORTITUDE AND MAGNANIMITY
On the night of the storm, Mrs Lupin, hostess of the Blue Dragon,
sat by herself in her little bar. Her solitary condition, or the
bad weather, or both united, made Mrs Lupin thoughtful, not to say
sorrowful. As she sat with her chin upon her hand, looking out
through a low back lattice, rendered dim in the brightest day-time
by clustering vine-leaves, she shook her head very often, and said,
'Dear me! Oh, dear, dear me!'
It was a melancholy time, even in the snugness of the Dragon bar.
The rich expanse of corn-field, pasture-land, green slope, and
gentle undulation, with its sparkling brooks, its many hedgerows,
and its clumps of beautiful trees, was black and dreary, from the
diamond panes of the lattice away to the far horizon, where the
thunder seemed to roll along the hills. The heavy rain beat down
the tender branches of vine and jessamine, and trampled on them in
its fury; and when the lightning gleamed it showed the tearful
leaves shivering and cowering together at the window, and tapping at
it urgently, as if beseeching to be sheltered from the dismal night.
As a mark of her respect for the lightning, Mrs Lupin had removed
her candle to the chimney-piece. Her basket of needle-work stood
unheeded at her elbow; her supper, spread on a round table not far
off, was untasted; and the knives had been removed for fear of
attraction. She had sat for a long time with her chin upon her
hand, saying to herself at intervals, 'Dear me! Ah, dear, dear me!'
She was on the eve of saying so, once more, when the latch of the
house-door (closed to keep the rain out), rattled on its well-worn
catch, and a traveller came in, who, shutting it after him, and
walking straight up to the half-door of the bar, said, rather
'A pint of the best old beer here.'
He had some reason to be gruff, for if he had passed the day in a
waterfall, he could scarcely have been wetter than he was. He was
wrapped up to the eyes in a rough blue sailor's coat, and had an
oil-skin hat on, from the capacious brim of which the rain fell
trickling down upon his breast, and back, and shoulders. Judging
from a certain liveliness of chin--he had so pulled down his hat,
and pulled up his collar, to defend himself from the weather, that
she could only see his chin, and even across that he drew the wet
sleeve of his shaggy coat, as she looked at him--Mrs Lupin set him
down for a good-natured fellow, too.
'A bad night!' observed the hostess cheerfully.
The traveller shook himself like a Newfoundland dog, and said it
'There's a fire in the kitchen,' said Mrs Lupin, 'and very good
company there. Hadn't you better go and dry yourself?'
'No, thankee,' said the man, glancing towards the kitchen as he
spoke; he seemed to know the way.
'It's enough to give you your death of cold,' observed the hostess.
'I don't take my death easy,' returned the traveller; 'or I should
most likely have took it afore to-night. Your health, ma'am!'
Mrs Lupin thanked him; but in the act of lifting the tankard to his
mouth, he changed his mind, and put it down again. Throwing his
body back, and looking about him stiffly, as a man does who is
wrapped up, and has his hat low down over his eyes, he said:
'What do you call this house? Not the Dragon, do you?'
Mrs Lupin complacently made answer, 'Yes, the Dragon.'
'Why, then, you've got a sort of a relation of mine here, ma'am,'
said the traveller; 'a young man of the name of Tapley. What! Mark,
my boy!' apostrophizing the premises, 'have I come upon you at last,
This was touching Mrs Lupin on a tender point. She turned to trim
the candle on the chimney-piece, and said, with her back towards the
'Nobody should be made more welcome at the Dragon, master, than any
one who brought me news of Mark. But it's many and many a long day
and month since he left here and England. And whether he's alive or
dead, poor fellow, Heaven above us only knows!'
She shook her head, and her voice trembled; her hand must have done
so too, for the light required a deal of trimming.
'Where did he go, ma'am?' asked the traveller, in a gentler voice.
'He went,' said Mrs Lupin, with increased distress, 'to America. He
was always tender-hearted and kind, and perhaps at this moment may
be lying in prison under sentence of death, for taking pity on some
miserable black, and helping the poor runaway creetur to escape.
How could he ever go to America! Why didn't he go to some of those
countries where the savages eat each other fairly, and give an equal
chance to every one!'
Quite subdued by this time, Mrs Lupin sobbed, and was retiring to a
chair to give her grief free vent, when the traveller caught her in
his arms, and she uttered a glad cry of recognition.
'Yes, I will!' cried Mark, 'another--one more--twenty more! You
didn't know me in that hat and coat? I thought you would have known
me anywheres! Ten more!'
'So I should have known you, if I could have seen you; but I
couldn't, and you spoke so gruff. I didn't think you could speak
gruff to me, Mark, at first coming back.'
'Fifteen more!' said Mr Tapley. 'How handsome and how young you
look! Six more! The last half-dozen warn't a fair one, and must be
done over again. Lord bless you, what a treat it is to see you! One
more! Well, I never was so jolly. Just a few more, on account of
there not being any credit in it!'
When Mr Tapley stopped in these calculations in simple addition, he
did it, not because he was at all tired of the exercise, but because
he was out of breath. The pause reminded him of other duties.
'Mr Martin Chuzzlewit's outside,' he said. 'I left him under the
cartshed, while I came on to see if there was anybody here. We
want to keep quiet to-night, till we know the news from you, and
what it's best for us to do.'
'There's not a soul in the house, except the kitchen company,'
returned the hostess. 'If they were to know you had come back,
Mark, they'd have a bonfire in the street, late as it is.'
'But they mustn't know it to-night, my precious soul,' said Mark;
'so have the house shut, and the kitchen fire made up; and when it's
all ready, put a light in the winder, and we'll come in. One more!
I long to hear about old friends. You'll tell me all about 'em,
won't you; Mr Pinch, and the butcher's dog down the street, and the
terrier over the way, and the wheelwright's, and every one of 'em.
When I first caught sight of the church to-night, I thought the
steeple would have choked me, I did. One more! Won't you? Not a
very little one to finish off with?'
'You have had plenty, I am sure,' said the hostess. 'Go along with
your foreign manners!'
'That ain't foreign, bless you!' cried Mark. 'Native as oysters,
that is! One more, because it's native! As a mark of respect for the
land we live in! This don't count as between you and me, you
understand,' said Mr Tapley. 'I ain't a-kissing you now, you'll
observe. I have been among the patriots; I'm a-kissin' my country.'
It would have been very unreasonable to complain of the exhibition
of his patriotism with which he followed up this explanation, that
it was at all lukewarm or indifferent. When he had given full
expression to his nationality, he hurried off to Martin; while Mrs
Lupin, in a state of great agitation and excitement, prepared for
The company soon came tumbling out; insisting to each other that the
Dragon clock was half an hour too fast, and that the thunder must
have affected it. Impatient, wet, and weary though they were,
Martin and Mark were overjoyed to see these old faces, and watched
them with delighted interest as they departed from the house, and
passed close by them.
'There's the old tailor, Mark!' whispered Martin.
'There he goes, sir! A little bandier than he was, I think, sir,
ain't he? His figure's so far altered, as it seems to me, that you
might wheel a rather larger barrow between his legs as he walks,
than you could have done conveniently when we know'd him. There's
Sam a-coming out, sir.'
'Ah, to be sure!' cried Martin; 'Sam, the hostler. I wonder whether
that horse of Pecksniff's is alive still?'
'Not a doubt on it, sir,' returned Mark. 'That's a description of
animal, sir, as will go on in a bony way peculiar to himself for a
long time, and get into the newspapers at last under the title of
"Sing'lar Tenacity of Life in a Quadruped." As if he had ever been
alive in all his life, worth mentioning! There's the clerk, sir--
wery drunk, as usual.'
'I see him!' said Martin, laughing. 'But, my life, how wet you are,
'I am! What do you consider yourself, sir?'
'Oh, not half as bad,' said his fellow-traveller, with an air of
great vexation. 'I told you not to keep on the windy side, Mark,
but to let us change and change about. The rain has been beating on
you ever since it began.'
'You don't know how it pleases me, sir,' said Mark, after a short
silence, 'if I may make so bold as say so, to hear you a-going on in
that there uncommon considerate way of yours; which I don't mean to
attend to, never, but which, ever since that time when I was floored
in Eden, you have showed.'
'Ah, Mark!' sighed Martin, 'the less we say of that the better. Do
I see the light yonder?'
'That's the light!' cried Mark. 'Lord bless her, what briskness she
possesses! Now for it, sir. Neat wines, good beds, and first-rate
entertainment for man or beast.'
The kitchen fire burnt clear and red, the table was spread out, the
kettle boiled; the slippers were there, the boot-jack too, sheets of
ham were there, cooking on the gridiron; half-a-dozen eggs were
there, poaching in the frying-pan; a plethoric cherry-brandy bottle
was there, winking at a foaming jug of beer upon the table; rare
provisions were there, dangling from the rafters as if you had only
to open your mouth, and something exquisitely ripe and good would be
glad of the excuse for tumbling into it. Mrs Lupin, who for their
sakes had dislodged the very cook, high priestess of the temple,
with her own genial hands was dressing their repast.
It was impossible to help it--a ghost must have hugged her. The
Atlantic Ocean and the Red Sea being, in that respect, all one,
Martin hugged her instantly. Mr Tapley (as if the idea were quite
novel, and had never occurred to him before), followed, with much
gravity, on the same side.
'Little did I ever think,' said Mrs Lupin, adjusting her cap and
laughing heartily; yes, and blushing too; 'often as I have said that
Mr Pecksniff's young gentlemen were the life and soul of the Dragon,
and that without them it would be too dull to live in--little did I
ever think I am sure, that any one of them would ever make so free
as you, Mr Martin! And still less that I shouldn't be angry with
him, but should be glad with all my heart to be the first to welcome
him home from America, with Mark Tapley for his--'
'For his friend, Mrs Lupin,' interposed Martin.
'For his friend,' said the hostess, evidently gratified by this
distinction, but at the same time admonishing Mr Tapley with a fork
to remain at a respectful distance. 'Little did I ever think that!
But still less, that I should ever have the changes to relate that I
shall have to tell you of, when you have done your supper!'
'Good Heaven!' cried Martin, changing colour, 'what changes?'
'SHE,' said the hostess, 'is quite well, and now at Mr Pecksniff's.
Don't be at all alarmed about her. She is everything you could
wish. It's of no use mincing matters, or making secrets, is it?'
added Mrs Lupin. 'I know all about it, you see!'
'My good creature,' returned Martin, 'you are exactly the person who
ought to know all about it. I am delighted to think you DO know
about that! But what changes do you hint at? Has any death
'No, no!' said the hostess. 'Not as bad as that. But I declare now
that I will not be drawn into saying another word till you have had
your supper. If you ask me fifty questions in the meantime, I won't
She was so positive, that there was nothing for it but to get the
supper over as quickly as possible; and as they had been walking a
great many miles, and had fasted since the middle of the day, they
did no great violence to their own inclinations in falling on it
tooth and nail. It took rather longer to get through than might
have been expected; for, half-a-dozen times, when they thought they
had finished, Mrs Lupin exposed the fallacy of that impression
triumphantly. But at last, in the course of time and nature, they
gave in. Then, sitting with their slippered feet stretched out upon
the kitchen hearth (which was wonderfully comforting, for the night
had grown by this time raw and chilly), and looking with involuntary
admiration at their dimpled, buxom, blooming hostess, as the
firelight sparkled in her eyes and glimmered in her raven hair, they
composed themselves to listen to her news.
Many were the exclamations of surprise which interrupted her, when
she told them of the separation between Mr Pecksniff and his
daughters, and between the same good gentleman and Mr Pinch. But
these were nothing to the indignant demonstrations of Martin, when
she related, as the common talk of the neighbourhood, what entire
possession he had obtained over the mind and person of old Mr
Chuzzlewit, and what high honour he designed for Mary. On receipt
of this intelligence, Martin's slippers flew off in a twinkling, and
he began pulling on his wet boots with that indefinite intention of
going somewhere instantly, and doing something to somebody, which is
the first safety-valve of a hot temper.
'He!' said Martin, 'smooth-tongued villain that he is! He! Give me
that other boot, Mark?'
'Where was you a-thinking of going to, sir?' inquired Mr Tapley
drying the sole at the fire, and looking coolly at it as he spoke,
as if it were a slice of toast.
'Where!' repeated Martin. 'You don't suppose I am going to remain
here, do you?'
The imperturbable Mark confessed that he did.
You do!' retorted Martin angrily. 'I am much obliged to you. What
do you take me for?'
'I take you for what you are, sir,' said Mark; 'and, consequently,
am quite sure that whatever you do will be right and sensible. The
Martin darted an impatient look at him, without taking it, and
walked rapidly up and down the kitchen several times, with one boot
and a stocking on. But, mindful of his Eden resolution, he had
already gained many victories over himself when Mark was in the case,
and he resolved to conquer now. So he came back to the book-jack,
laid his hand on Mark's shoulder to steady himself, pulled the boot
off, picked up his slippers, put them on, and sat down again. He
could not help thrusting his hands to the very bottom of his
pockets, and muttering at intervals, 'Pecksniff too! That fellow!
Upon my soul! In-deed! What next?' and so forth; nor could he help
occasionally shaking his fist at the chimney, with a very
threatening countenance; but this did not last long; and he heard
Mrs Lupin out, if not with composure, at all events in silence.
'As to Mr Pecksniff himself,' observed the hostess in conclusion,
spreading out the skirts of her gown with both hands, and nodding
her head a great many times as she did so, 'I don't know what to
say. Somebody must have poisoned his mind, or influenced him in
some extraordinary way. I cannot believe that such a noble-spoken
gentleman would go and do wrong of his own accord!'
A noble-spoken gentleman! How many people are there in the world,
who, for no better reason, uphold their Pecksniffs to the last and
abandon virtuous men, when Pecksniffs breathe upon them!
'As to Mr Pinch,' pursued the landlady, 'if ever there was a dear,
good, pleasant, worthy soul alive, Pinch, and no other, is his name.
But how do we know that old Mr Chuzzlewit himself was not the cause
of difference arising between him and Mr Pecksniff? No one but
themselves can tell; for Mr Pinch has a proud spirit, though he has
such a quiet way; and when he left us, and was so sorry to go, he
scorned to make his story good, even to me.'
'Poor old Tom!' said Martin, in a tone that sounded like remorse.
'It's a comfort to know,' resumed the landlady, 'that he has his
sister living with him, and is doing well. Only yesterday he sent
me back, by post, a little'--here the colour came into her cheeks--
'a little trifle I was bold enough to lend him when he went away;
saying, with many thanks, that he had good employment, and didn't
want it. It was the same note; he hadn't broken it. I never
thought I could have been so little pleased to see a bank-note come
back to me as I was to see that.'
'Kindly said, and heartily!' said Martin. 'Is it not, Mark?'
'She can't say anything as does not possess them qualities,'
returned Mr Tapley; 'which as much belongs to the Dragon as its
licence. And now that we have got quite cool and fresh, to the
subject again, sir; what will you do? If you're not proud, and can
make up your mind to go through with what you spoke of, coming along,
that's the course for you to take. If you started wrong with your
grandfather (which, you'll excuse my taking the liberty of saying,
appears to have been the case), up with you, sir, and tell him so,
and make an appeal to his affections. Don't stand out. He's a
great deal older than you, and if he was hasty, you was hasty too.
Give way, sir, give way.'
The eloquence of Mr Tapley was not without its effect on Martin but
he still hesitated, and expressed his reason thus:
'That's all very true, and perfectly correct, Mark; and if it were
a mere question of humbling myself before HIM, I would not consider
it twice. But don't you see, that being wholly under this
hypocrite's government, and having (if what we hear be true) no mind
or will of his own, I throw myself, in fact, not at his feet, but at
the feet of Mr Pecksniff? And when I am rejected and spurned away,'
said Martin, turning crimson at the thought, 'it is not by him; my
own blood stirred against me; but by Pecksniff--Pecksniff, Mark!'
'Well, but we know beforehand,' returned the politic Mr Tapley,
'that Pecksniff is a wagabond, a scoundrel, and a willain.'
'A most pernicious villain!' said Martin.
'A most pernicious willain. We know that beforehand, sir; and,
consequently, it's no shame to be defeated by Pecksniff. Blow
Pecksniff!' cried Mr Tapley, in the fervour of his eloquence.
'Who's he! It's not in the natur of Pecksniff to shame US, unless he
agreed with us, or done us a service; and, in case he offered any
audacity of that description, we could express our sentiments in the
English language, I hope. Pecksniff!' repeated Mr Tapley, with
ineffable disdain. 'What's Pecksniff, who's Pecksniff, where's
Pecksniff, that he's to be so much considered? We're not a-
calculating for ourselves;' he laid uncommon emphasis on the last
syllable of that word, and looked full in Martin's face; 'we're
making a effort for a young lady likewise as has undergone her
share; and whatever little hope we have, this here Pecksniff is not
to stand in its way, I expect. I never heard of any act of
Parliament, as was made by Pecksniff. Pecksniff! Why, I wouldn't
see the man myself; I wouldn't hear him; I wouldn't choose to know
he was in company. I'd scrape my shoes on the scraper of the door,
and call that Pecksniff, if you liked; but I wouldn't condescend no
The amazement of Mrs Lupin, and indeed of Mr Tapley himself for that
matter, at this impassioned flow of language, was immense. But
Martin, after looking thoughtfully at the fire for a short time,
'You are right, Mark. Right or wrong, it shall be done. I'll do
'One word more, sir,' returned Mark. 'Only think of him so far as
not to give him a handle against you. Don't you do anything secret
that he can report before you get there. Don't you even see Miss
Mary in the morning, but let this here dear friend of ours'--Mr
Tapley bestowed a smile upon the hostess--'prepare her for what's a-
going to happen, and carry any little message as may be agreeable.
She knows how. Don't you?' Mrs Lupin laughed and tossed her head.
'Then you go in, bold and free as a gentleman should. "I haven't
done nothing under-handed," says you. "I haven't been skulking
about the premises, here I am, for-give me, I ask your pardon, God
Martin smiled, but felt that it was good advice notwithstanding, and
resolved to act upon it. When they had ascertained from Mrs Lupin
that Pecksniff had already returned from the great ceremonial at
which they had beheld him in his glory; and when they had fully
arranged the order of their proceedings; they went to bed, intent
upon the morrow.
In pursuance of their project as agreed upon at this discussion, Mr
Tapley issued forth next morning, after breakfast, charged with a
letter from Martin to his grandfather, requesting leave to wait upon
him for a few minutes. And postponing as he went along the
congratulations of his numerous friends until a more convenient
season, he soon arrived at Mr Pecksniff's house. At that
gentleman's door; with a face so immovable that it would have been
next to an impossibility for the most acute physiognomist to
determine what he was thinking about, or whether he was thinking at
all; he straightway knocked.
A person of Mr Tapley's observation could not long remain insensible
to the fact that Mr Pecksniff was making the end of his nose very
blunt against the glass of the parlour window, in an angular attempt
to discover who had knocked at the door. Nor was Mr Tapley slow to
baffle this movement on the part of the enemy, by perching himself
on the top step, and presenting the crown of his hat in that
direction. But possibly Mr Pecksniff had already seen him, for Mark
soon heard his shoes creaking, as he advanced to open the door with
his own hands.
Mr Pecksniff was as cheerful as ever, and sang a little song in the
'How d'ye do, sir?' said Mark.
'Oh!' cried Mr Pecksniff. 'Tapley, I believe? The Prodigal
returned! We don't want any beer, my friend.'
'Thankee, sir,' said Mark. 'I couldn't accommodate you if you did.
A letter, sir. Wait for an answer.'
'For me?' cried Mr Pecksniff. 'And an answer, eh?'
'Not for you, I think, sir,' said Mark, pointing out the direction.
'Chuzzlewit, I believe the name is, sir.'
'Oh!' returned Mr Pecksniff. 'Thank you. Yes. Who's it from, my
good young man?'
'The gentleman it comes from wrote his name inside, sir,' returned
Mr Tapley with extreme politeness. 'I see him a-signing of it at
the end, while I was a-waitin'.'
'And he said he wanted an answer, did he?' asked Mr Pecksniff in his
most persuasive manner.
Mark replied in the affirmative.
'He shall have an answer. Certainly,' said Mr Pecksniff, tearing
the letter into small pieces, as mildly as if that were the most
flattering attention a correspondent could receive. 'Have the
goodness to give him that, with my compliments, if you please. Good
morning!' Whereupon he handed Mark the scraps; retired, and shut the
Mark thought it prudent to subdue his personal emotions, and return
to Martin at the Dragon. They were not unprepared for such a
reception, and suffered an hour or so to elapse before making
another attempt. When this interval had gone by, they returned to
Mr Pecksniff's house in company. Martin knocked this time, while Mr
Tapley prepared himself to keep the door open with his foot and
shoulder, when anybody came, and by that means secure an enforced
parley. But this precaution was needless, for the servant-girl
appeared almost immediately. Brushing quickly past her as he had
resolved in such a case to do, Martin (closely followed by his
faithful ally) opened the door of that parlour in which he knew a
visitor was most likely to be found; passed at once into the room;
and stood, without a word of notice or announcement, in the presence
of his grandfather.
Mr Pecksniff also was in the room; and Mary. In the swift instant
of their mutual recognition, Martin saw the old man droop his grey
head, and hide his face in his hands.
It smote him to the heart. In his most selfish and most careless
day, this lingering remnant of the old man's ancient love, this
buttress of a ruined tower he had built up in the time gone by, with
so much pride and hope, would have caused a pang in Martin's heart.
But now, changed for the better in his worst respect; looking
through an altered medium on his former friend, the guardian of his
childhood, so broken and bowed down; resentment, sullenness,
self-confidence, and pride, were all swept away, before the starting
tears upon the withered cheeks. He could not bear to see them. He
could not bear to think they fell at sight of him. He could not
bear to view reflected in them, the reproachful and irrevocable
He hurriedly advanced to seize the old man's hand in his, when Mr
Pecksniff interposed himself between them.
'No, young man!' said Mr Pecksniff, striking himself upon the
breast, and stretching out his other arm towards his guest as if it
were a wing to shelter him. 'No, sir. None of that. Strike here,
sir, here! Launch your arrows at me, sir, if you'll have the
goodness; not at Him!'
'Grandfather!' cried Martin. 'Hear me! I implore you, let me
'Would you, sir? Would you?' said Mr Pecksniff, dodging about, so
as to keep himself always between them. 'Is it not enough, sir,
that you come into my house like a thief in the night, or I should
rather say, for we can never be too particular on the subject of
Truth, like a thief in the day-time; bringing your dissolute
companions with you, to plant themselves with their backs against
the insides of parlour doors, and prevent the entrance or issuing
forth of any of my household'--Mark had taken up this position, and
held it quite unmoved--'but would you also strike at venerable
Virtue? Would you? Know that it is not defenceless. I will be its
shield, young man. Assail me. Come on, sir. Fire away!'
'Pecksniff,' said the old man, in a feeble voice. 'Calm yourself.
'I can't be calm,' cried Mr Pecksniff, 'and I won't be quiet. My
benefactor and my friend! Shall even my house be no refuge for your
'Stand aside!' said the old man, stretching out his hand; 'and let
me see what it is I used to love so dearly.'
'It is right that you should see it, my friend,' said Mr Pecksniff.
'It is well that you should see it, my noble sir. It is desirable
that you should contemplate it in its true proportions. Behold it!
There it is, sir. There it is!'
Martin could hardly be a mortal man, and not express in his face
something of the anger and disdain with which Mr Pecksniff inspired
him. But beyond this he evinced no knowledge whatever of that
gentleman's presence or existence. True, he had once, and that at
first, glanced at him involuntarily, and with supreme contempt; but
for any other heed he took of him, there might have been nothing in
his place save empty air.
As Mr Pecksniff withdrew from between them, agreeably to the wish
just now expressed (which he did during the delivery of the
observations last recorded), old Martin, who had taken Mary Graham's
hand in his, and whispered kindly to her, as telling her she had no
cause to be alarmed, gently pushed her from him, behind his chair;
and looked steadily at his grandson.
'And that,' he said, 'is he. Ah! that is he! Say what you wish to
say. But come no nearer,'
'His sense of justice is so fine,' said Mr Pecksniff, 'that he will
hear even him, although he knows beforehand that nothing can come of
it. Ingenuous mind!' Mr Pecksniff did not address himself
immediately to any person in saying this, but assuming the position
of the Chorus in a Greek Tragedy, delivered his opinion as a
commentary on the proceedings.
'Grandfather!' said Martin, with great earnestness. 'From a painful
journey, from a hard life, from a sick-bed, from privation and
distress, from gloom and disappointment, from almost hopelessness
and despair, I have come back to you.'
'Rovers of this sort,' observed Mr Pecksniff, as Chorus, 'very
commonly come back when they find they don't meet with the success
they expected in their marauding ravages.'
'But for this faithful man,' said Martin, turning towards Mark,
'whom I first knew in this place, and who went away with me
voluntarily, as a servant, but has been, throughout, my zealous and
devoted friend; but for him, I must have died abroad. Far from
home, far from any help or consolation; far from the probability
even of my wretched fate being ever known to any one who cared to
hear it--oh, that you would let me say, of being known to you!'
The old man looked at Mr Pecksniff. Mr Pecksniff looked at him.
'Did you speak, my worthy sir?' said Mr Pecksniff, with a smile.
The old man answered in the negative. 'I know what you thought,'
said Mr Pecksniff, with another smile. 'Let him go on my friend.
The development of self-interest in the human mind is always a
curious study. Let him go on, sir.'
'Go on!' observed the old man; in a mechanical obedience, it
appeared, to Mr Pecksniff's suggestion.
'I have been so wretched and so poor,' said Martin, 'that I am
indebted to the charitable help of a stranger, in a land of
strangers, for the means of returning here. All this tells against
me in your mind, I know. I have given you cause to think I have
been driven here wholly by want, and have not been led on, in any
degree, by affection or regret. When I parted from you,
Grandfather, I deserved that suspicion, but I do not now. I do not
The Chorus put its hand in its waistcoat, and smiled. 'Let him go
on, my worthy sir,' it said. 'I know what you are thinking of, but
don't express it prematurely.'
Old Martin raised his eyes to Mr Pecksniff's face, and appearing to
derive renewed instruction from his looks and words, said, once
'I have little more to say,' returned Martin. 'And as I say it now,
with little or no hope, Grandfather; whatever dawn of hope I had on
entering the room; believe it to be true. At least, believe it to
'Beautiful Truth!' exclaimed the Chorus, looking upward. 'How is
your name profaned by vicious persons! You don't live in a well, my
holy principle, but on the lips of false mankind. It is hard to
bear with mankind, dear sir'--addressing the elder Mr Chuzzlewit;
'but let us do so meekly. It is our duty so to do. Let us be among
the Few who do their duty. If,' pursued the Chorus, soaring up into
a lofty flight, 'as the poet informs us, England expects Every man
to do his duty, England is the most sanguine country on the face of
the earth, and will find itself continually disappointed.'
'Upon that subject,' said Martin, looking calmly at the old man as
he spoke, but glancing once at Mary, whose face was now buried in
her hands, upon the back of his easy-chair; 'upon that subject which
first occasioned a division between us, my mind and heart are
incapable of change. Whatever influence they have undergone, since
that unhappy time, has not been one to weaken but to strengthen me.
I cannot profess sorrow for that, nor irresolution in that, nor
shame in that. Nor would you wish me, I know. But that I might
have trusted to your love, if I had thrown myself manfully upon it;
that I might have won you over with ease, if I had been more
yielding and more considerate; that I should have best remembered
myself in forgetting myself, and recollecting you; reflection,
solitude, and misery, have taught me. I came resolved to say this,
and to ask your forgiveness; not so much in hope for the future, as
in regret for the past; for all that I would ask of you is, that you
would aid me to live. Help me to get honest work to do, and I would
do it. My condition places me at the disadvantage of seeming to
have only my selfish ends to serve, but try if that be so or not.
Try if I be self-willed, obdurate, and haughty, as I was; or have
been disciplined in a rough school. Let the voice of nature and
association plead between us, Grandfather; and do not, for one
fault, however thankless, quite reject me!'
As he ceased, the grey head of the old man drooped again; and he
concealed his face behind his outspread fingers.
'My dear sir,' cried Mr Pecksniff, bending over him, 'you must not
give way to this. It is very natural, and very amiable, but you
must not allow the shameless conduct of one whom you long ago cast
off, to move you so far. Rouse yourself. Think,' said Pecksniff,
'think of Me, my friend.'
'I will,' returned old Martin, looking up into his face. 'You
recall me to myself. I will.'
'Why, what,' said Mr Pecksniff, sitting down beside him in a chair
which he drew up for the purpose, and tapping him playfully on the
arm, 'what is the matter with my strong-minded compatriot, if I may
venture to take the liberty of calling him by that endearing
expression? Shall I have to scold my coadjutor, or to reason with
an intellect like this? I think not.'
'No, no. There is no occasion,' said the old man. 'A momentary
feeling. Nothing more.'
'Indignation,' observed Mr Pecksniff, 'WILL bring the scalding tear
into the honest eye, I know'--he wiped his own elaborately. 'But we
have highest duties to perform than that. Rouse yourself, Mr
Chuzzlewit. Shall I give expression to your thoughts, my friend?'
'Yes,' said old Martin, leaning back in his chair, and looking at
him, half in vacancy and half in admiration, as if he were
fascinated by the man. 'Speak for me, Pecksniff, Thank you. You
are true to me. Thank you!'
'Do not unman me, sir,' said Mr Pecksniff, shaking his hand
vigorously, 'or I shall be unequal to the task. It is not agreeable
to my feelings, my good sir, to address the person who is now before
us, for when I ejected him from this house, after hearing of his
unnatural conduct from your lips, I renounced communication with him
for ever. But you desire it; and that is sufficient. Young man!
The door is immediately behind the companion of your infamy. Blush
if you can; begone without a blush, if you can't.'
Martin looked as steadily at his grandfather as if there had been a
dead silence all this time. The old man looked no less steadily at
'When I ordered you to leave this house upon the last occasion of
your being dismissed from it with disgrace,' said Mr Pecksniff;
'when, stung and stimulated beyond endurance by your shameless
conduct to this extraordinarily noble-minded individual, I exclaimed
"Go forth!" I told you that I wept for your depravity. Do not
suppose that the tear which stands in my eye at this moment, is shed
for you. It is shed for him, sir. It is shed for him.'
Here Mr Pecksniff, accidentally dropping the tear in question on a
bald part of Mr Chuzzlewit's head, wiped the place with his pocket-
handkerchief, and begged pardon.
'It is shed for him, sir, whom you seek to make the victim of your
arts,' said Mr Pecksniff; 'whom you seek to plunder, to deceive, and
to mislead. It is shed in sympathy with him, and admiration of him;
not in pity for him, for happily he knows what you are. You shall
not wrong him further, sir, in any way,' said Mr Pecksniff, quite
transported with enthusiasm, 'while I have life. You may bestride
my senseless corse, sir. That is very likely. I can imagine a mind
like yours deriving great satisfaction from any measure of that
kind. But while I continue to be called upon to exist, sir, you
must strike at him through me. Awe!' said Mr Pecksniff, shaking his
head at Martin with indignant jocularity; 'and in such a cause you
will find me, my young sir, an Ugly Customer!'
Still Martin looked steadily and mildly at his grandfather. 'Will
you give me no answer,' he said, at length, 'not a word?'
'You hear what has been said,' replied the old man, without averting
his eyes from the face of Mr Pecksniff; who nodded encouragingly.
'I have not heard your voice. I have not heard your spirit,'
'Tell him again,' said the old man, still gazing up in Mr
'I only hear,' replied Martin, strong in his purpose from the first,
and stronger in it as he felt how Pecksniff winced and shrunk
beneath his contempt; 'I only hear what you say to me, grandfather.'
Perhaps it was well for Mr Pecksniff that his venerable friend found
in his (Mr Pecksniff's) features an exclusive and engrossing object
of contemplation, for if his eyes had gone astray, and he had
compared young Martin's bearing with that of his zealous defender,
the latter disinterested gentleman would scarcely have shown to
greater advantage than on the memorable afternoon when he took Tom
Pinch's last receipt in full of all demands. One really might have
thought there was some quality in Mr Pecksniff--an emanation from
the brightness and purity within him perhaps--which set off and
adorned his foes; they looked so gallant and so manly beside him.
'Not a word?' said Martin, for the second time.
'I remember that I have a word to say, Pecksniff,' observed the old
man. 'But a word. You spoke of being indebted to the charitable
help of some stranger for the means of returning to England. Who is
he? And what help in money did he render you?'
Although he asked this question of Martin, he did not look towards
him, but kept his eyes on Mr Pecksniff as before. It appeared to
have become a habit with him, both in a literal and figurative
sense, to look to Mr Pecksniff alone.
Martin took out his pencil, tore a leaf from his pocket-book, and
hastily wrote down the particulars of his debt to Mr Bevan. The old
man stretched out his hand for the paper, and took it; but his eyes
did not wander from Mr Pecksniff's face.
'It would be a poor pride and a false humility,' said Martin, in a
low voice, 'to say, I do not wish that to be paid, or that I have
any present hope of being able to pay it. But I never felt my
poverty so deeply as I feel it now.'
'Read it to me, Pecksniff,' said the old man.
Mr Pecksniff, after approaching the perusal of the paper as if it
were a manuscript confession of a murder, complied.
'I think, Pecksniff,' said old Martin, 'I could wish that to be
discharged. I should not like the lender, who was abroad, who had
no opportunity of making inquiry, and who did (as he thought) a kind
action, to suffer.'
'An honourable sentiment, my dear sir. Your own entirely. But a
dangerous precedent,' said Mr Pecksniff, 'permit me to suggest.'
'It shall not be a precedent,' returned the old man. 'It is the
only recognition of him. But we will talk of it again. You shall
advise me. There is nothing else?'
'Nothing else,' said Mr Pecksniff buoyantly, 'but for you to recover
this intrusion--this cowardly and indefensible outrage on your
feelings--with all possible dispatch, and smile again.'
'You have nothing more to say?' inquired the old man, laying his
hand with unusual earnestness on Mr Pecksniff's sleeve.
Mr Pecksniff would not say what rose to his lips. For reproaches he
observed, were useless.
'You have nothing at all to urge? You are sure of that! If you have,
no matter what it is, speak freely. I will oppose nothing that you
ask of me,' said the old man.
The tears rose in such abundance to Mr Pecksniff's eyes at this
proof of unlimited confidence on the part of his friend, that he was
fain to clasp the bridge of his nose convulsively before he could at
all compose himself. When he had the power of utterance again, he
said with great emotion, that he hoped he should live to deserve
this; and added, that he had no other observation whatever to make.
For a few moments the old man sat looking at him, with that blank
and motionless expression which is not uncommon in the faces of
those whose faculties are on the wane, in age. But he rose up
firmly too, and walked towards the door, from which Mark withdrew to
make way for him.
The obsequious Mr Pecksniff proffered his arm. The old man took it.
Turning at the door, he said to Martin, waving him off with his
'You have heard him. Go away. It is all over. Go!'
Mr Pecksniff murmured certain cheering expressions of sympathy and
encouragement as they retired; and Martin, awakening from the stupor
into which the closing portion of this scene had plunged him, to the
opportunity afforded by their departure, caught the innocent cause
of all in his embrace, and pressed her to his heart.
'Dear girl!' said Martin. 'He has not changed you. Why, what an
impotent and harmless knave the fellow is!'
'You have restrained yourself so nobly! You have borne so much!'
'Restrained myself!' cried Martin, cheerfully. 'You were by, and
were unchanged, I knew. What more advantage did I want? The sight
of me was such a bitterness to the dog, that I had my triumph in his
being forced to endure it. But tell me, love--for the few hasty
words we can exchange now are precious--what is this which has been
rumoured to me? Is it true that you are persecuted by this knave's
'I was, dear Martin, and to some extent am now; but my chief source
of unhappiness has been anxiety for you. Why did you leave us in
such terrible suspense?'
'Sickness, distance; the dread of hinting at our real condition,
the impossibility of concealing it except in perfect silence; the
knowledge that the truth would have pained you infinitely more than
uncertainty and doubt,' said Martin, hurriedly; as indeed everything
else was done and said, in those few hurried moments, 'were the
causes of my writing only once. But Pecksniff? You needn't fear to
tell me the whole tale; for you saw me with him face to face,
hearing him speak, and not taking him by the throat; what is the
history of his pursuit of you? Is it known to my grandfather?'
'And he assists him in it?'
'No,' she answered eagerly.
'Thank Heaven!' cried Martin, 'that it leaves his mind unclouded in
that one respect!'
'I do not think,' said Mary, 'it was known to him at first. When
this man had sufficiently prepared his mind, he revealed it to him
by degrees. I think so, but I only know it from my own impression:
now from anything they told me. Then he spoke to me alone.'
'My grandfather did?' said Martin.
'Yes--spoke to me alone, and told me--'
'What the hound had said,' cried Martin. 'Don't repeat it.'
'And said I knew well what qualities he possessed; that he was
moderately rich; in good repute; and high in his favour and
confidence. But seeing me very much distressed, he said that he
would not control or force my inclinations, but would content
himself with telling me the fact. He would not pain me by dwelling
on it, or reverting to it; nor has he ever done so since, but has
truly kept his word.'
'The man himself?--' asked Martin.
'He has had few opportunities of pursuing his suit. I have never
walked out alone, or remained alone an instant in his presence.
Dear Martin, I must tell you,' she continued, 'that the kindness of
your grandfather to me remains unchanged. I am his companion still.
An indescribable tenderness and compassion seem to have mingled
themselves with his old regard; and if I were his only child, I
could not have a gentler father. What former fancy or old habit
survives in this, when his heart has turned so cold to you, is a
mystery I cannot penetrate; but it has been, and it is, a happiness
to me, that I remained true to him; that if he should wake from his
delusion, even at the point of death, I am here, love, to recall you
to his thoughts.'
Martin looked with admiration on her glowing face, and pressed his
lips to hers.
'I have sometimes heard, and read,' she said, 'that those whose
powers had been enfeebled long ago, and whose lives had faded, as it
were, into a dream, have been known to rouse themselves before
death, and inquire for familiar faces once very dear to them; but
forgotten, unrecognized, hated even, in the meantime. Think, if
with his old impressions of this man, he should suddenly resume his
former self, and find in him his only friend!'
'I would not urge you to abandon him, dearest,' said Martin, 'though
I could count the years we are to wear out asunder. But the
influence this fellow exercises over him has steadily increased, I
She could not help admitting that. Steadily, imperceptibly, and
surely, until it was paramount and supreme. She herself had none;
and yet he treated her with more affection than at any previous
time. Martin thought the inconsistency a part of his weakness and
'Does the influence extend to fear?' said Martin. 'Is he timid of
asserting his own opinion in the presence of this infatuation? I
fancied so just now.'
'I have thought so, often. Often when we are sitting alone, almost
as we used to do, and I have been reading a favourite book to him or
he has been talking quite cheerfully, I have observed that the
entrance of Mr Pecksniff has changed his whole demeanour. He has
broken off immediately, and become what you have seen to-day. When
we first came here he had his impetuous outbreaks, in which it was
not easy for Mr Pecksniff with his utmost plausibility to appease
him. But these have long since dwindled away. He defers to him in
everything, and has no opinion upon any question, but that which is
forced upon him by this treacherous man.'
Such was the account, rapidly furnished in whispers, and
interrupted, brief as it was, by many false alarms of Mr Pecksniff's
return; which Martin received of his grandfather's decline, and of
that good gentleman's ascendancy. He heard of Tom Pinch too, and
Jonas too, with not a little about himself into the bargain; for
though lovers are remarkable for leaving a great deal unsaid on all
occasions, and very properly desiring to come back and say it, they
are remarkable also for a wonderful power of condensation, and can,
in one way or other, give utterance to more language--eloquent
language--in any given short space of time, than all the six hundred
and fifty-eight members in the Commons House of Parliament of the
United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland; who are strong lovers
no doubt, but of their country only, which makes all the difference;
for in a passion of that kind (which is not always returned), it is
the custom to use as many words as possible, and express nothing
A caution from Mr Tapley; a hasty interchange of farewells, and of
something else which the proverb says must not be told of
afterwards; a white hand held out to Mr Tapley himself, which he
kissed with the devotion of a knight-errant; more farewells, more
something else's; a parting word from Martin that he would write
from London and would do great things there yet (Heaven knows what,
but he quite believed it); and Mark and he stood on the outside of
the Pecksniffian halls.
'A short interview after such an absence!' said Martin, sorrowfully.
'But we are well out of the house. We might have placed ourselves
in a false position by remaining there, even so long, Mark.'
'I don't know about ourselves, sir,' he returned; 'but somebody else
would have got into a false position, if he had happened to come
back again, while we was there. I had the door all ready, sir. If
Pecksniff had showed his head, or had only so much as listened
behind it, I would have caught him like a walnut. He's the sort of
man,' added Mr Tapley, musing, 'as would squeeze soft, I know.'
A person who was evidently going to Mr Pecksniff's house, passed
them at this moment. He raised his eyes at the mention of the
architect's name; and when he had gone on a few yards, stopped and
gazed at them. Mr Tapley, also, looked over his shoulder, and so
did Martin; for the stranger, as he passed, had looked very sharply
'Who may that be, I wonder!' said Martin. 'The face seems familiar
to me, but I don't know the man.'
'He seems to have a amiable desire that his face should be tolerable
familiar to us,' said Mr Tapley, 'for he's a-staring pretty hard.
He'd better not waste his beauty, for he ain't got much to spare.'
Coming in sight of the Dragon, they saw a travelling carriage at the
'And a Salisbury carriage, eh?' said Mr Tapley. 'That's what he
came in depend upon it. What's in the wind now? A new pupil, I
shouldn't wonder. P'raps it's a order for another grammar-school,
of the same pattern as the last.'
Before they could enter at the door, Mrs Lupin came running out; and
beckoning them to the carriage showed them a portmanteau with the
name of CHUZZLEWIT upon it.
'Miss Pecksniff's husband that was,' said the good woman to Martin.
'I didn't know what terms you might be on, and was quite in a worry
till you came back.'
'He and I have never interchanged a word yet,' observed Martin; 'and
as I have no wish to be better or worse acquainted with him, I will
not put myself in his way. We passed him on the road, I have no
doubt. I am glad he timed his coming as he did. Upon my word! Miss
Pecksniff's husband travels gayly!'
'A very fine-looking gentleman with him--in the best room now,'
whispered Mrs Lupin, glancing up at the window as they went into the
house. 'He has ordered everything that can be got for dinner; and
has the glossiest moustaches and whiskers ever you saw.'
'Has he?' cried Martin, 'why then we'll endeavour to avoid him too,
in the hope that our self-denial may be strong enough for the
sacrifice. It is only for a few hours,' said Martin, dropping
wearily into a chair behind the little screen in the bar. 'Our
visit has met with no success, my dear Mrs Lupin, and I must go to
'Dear, dear!' cried the hostess.
'Yes, one foul wind no more makes a winter, than one swallow makes a
summer. I'll try it again. Tom Pinch has succeeded. With his
advice to guide me, I may do the same. I took Tom under my
protection once, God save the mark!' said Martin, with a melancholy
smile; 'and promised I would make his fortune. Perhaps Tom will
take me under HIS protection now, and teach me how to earn my
FURTHER CONTINUATION OF THE ENTERPRISE OF MR JONAS AND HIS FRIEND
It was a special quality, among the many admirable qualities
possessed by Mr Pecksniff, that the more he was found out, the more
hypocrisy he practised. Let him be discomfited in one quarter, and
he refreshed and recompensed himself by carrying the war into
another. If his workings and windings were detected by A, so much
the greater reason was there for practicing without loss of time on
B, if it were only to keep his hand in. He had never been such a
saintly and improving spectacle to all about him, as after his
detection by Thomas Pinch. He had scarcely ever been at once so
tender in his humanity, and so dignified and exalted in his virtue,
as when young Martin's scorn was fresh and hot upon him.
Having this large stock of superfluous sentiment and morality on
hand which must positively be cleared off at any sacrifice, Mr
Pecksniff no sooner heard his son-in-law announced, than he regarded
him as a kind of wholesale or general order, to be immediately
executed. Descending, therefore, swiftly to the parlour, and
clasping the young man in his arms, he exclaimed, with looks and
gestures that denoted the perturbation of his spirit:
'Jonas. My child--she is well! There is nothing the matter?'
'What, you're at it again, are you?' replied his son-in-law. 'Even
with me? Get away with you, will you?'
'Tell me she is well then,' said Mr Pecksniff. 'Tell me she is well
'She's well enough,' retorted Jonas, disengaging himself. 'There's
nothing the matter with HER.'
'There is nothing the matter with her!' cried Mr Pecksniff, sitting
down in the nearest chair, and rubbing up his hair. 'Fie upon my
weakness! I cannot help it, Jonas. Thank you. I am better now.
How is my other child; my eldest; my Cherrywerrychigo?' said Mr
Pecksniff, inventing a playful little name for her, in the restored
lightness of his heart.
'She's much about the same as usual,' returned Jonas. 'She sticks
pretty close to the vinegar-bottle. You know she's got a
sweetheart, I suppose?'
'I have heard of it,' said Mr Pecksniff, 'from headquarters; from my
child herself I will not deny that it moved me to contemplate the
loss of my remaining daughter, Jonas--I am afraid we parents are
selfish, I am afraid we are--but it has ever been the study of my
life to qualify them for the domestic hearth; and it is a sphere
which Cherry will adorn.'
'She need adorn some sphere or other,' observed the son-in-law, for
she ain't very ornamental in general.'
'My girls are now provided for,' said Mr Pecksniff. 'They are now
happily provided for, and I have not laboured in vain!'
This is exactly what Mr Pecksniff would have said, if one of his
daughters had drawn a prize of thirty thousand pounds in the
lottery, or if the other had picked up a valuable purse in the
street, which nobody appeared to claim. In either of these cases he
would have invoked a patriarchal blessing on the fortunate head,
with great solemnity, and would have taken immense credit to
himself, as having meant it from the infant's cradle.
'Suppose we talk about something else, now,' observed Jonas, drily.
'just for a change. Are you quite agreeable?'
'Quite,' said Mr Pecksniff. 'Ah, you wag, you naughty wag! You
laugh at poor old fond papa. Well! He deserves it. And he don't
mind it either, for his feelings are their own reward. You have
come to stay with me, Jonas?'
'No. I've got a friend with me,' said Jonas.
'Bring your friend!' cried Mr Pecksniff, in a gush of hospitality.
'Bring any number of your friends!'
'This ain't the sort of man to be brought,' said Jonas,
contemptuously. 'I think I see myself "bringing" him to your house,
for a treat! Thank'ee all the same; but he's a little too near the
top of the tree for that, Pecksniff.'
The good man pricked up his ears; his interest was awakened. A
position near the top of the tree was greatness, virtue, goodness,
sense, genius; or, it should rather be said, a dispensation from
all, and in itself something immeasurably better than all; with Mr
Pecksniff. A man who was able to look down upon Mr Pecksniff could
not be looked up at, by that gentleman, with too great an amount of
deference, or from a position of too much humility. So it always is
with great spirits.
'I'll tell you what you may do, if you like,' said Jonas; 'you may
come and dine with us at the Dragon. We were forced to come down to
Salisbury last night, on some business, and I got him to bring me
over here this morning, in his carriage; at least, not his own
carriage, for we had a breakdown in the night, but one we hired
instead; it's all the same. Mind what you're about, you know. He's
not used to all sorts; he only mixes with the best!'
'Some young nobleman who has been borrowing money of you at good
interest, eh?' said Mr Pecksniff, shaking his forefinger facetiously.
'I shall be delighted to know the gay sprig.'
'Borrowing!' echoed Jonas. 'Borrowing! When you're a twentieth part
as rich as he is, you may shut up shop! We should be pretty well off
if we could buy his furniture, and plate, and pictures, by clubbing
together. A likely man to borrow: Mr Montague! Why since I was
lucky enough (come! and I'll say, sharp enough, too) to get a share
in the Assurance office that he's President of, I've made--never
mind what I've made,' said Jonas, seeming to recover all at once his
usual caution. 'You know me pretty well, and I don't blab about
such things. But, Ecod, I've made a trifle.'
'Really, my dear Jonas,' cried Mr Pecksniff, with much warmth, 'a
gentleman like this should receive some attention. Would he like to
see the church? or if he has a taste for the fine arts--which I
have no doubt he has, from the description you give of his
circumstances--I can send him down a few portfolios. Salisbury
Cathedral, my dear Jonas,' said Mr Pecksniff; the mention of the
portfolios and his anxiety to display himself to advantage,
suggesting his usual phraseology in that regard, 'is an edifice
replete with venerable associations, and strikingly suggestive of
the loftiest emotions. It is here we contemplate the work of bygone
ages. It is here we listen to the swelling organ, as we stroll
through the reverberating aisles. We have drawings of this
celebrated structure from the North, from the South, from the East,
from the West, from the South-East, from the Nor'West--'
During this digression, and indeed during the whole dialogue, Jonas
had been rocking on his chair, with his hands in his pockets and his
head thrown cunningly on one side. He looked at Mr Pecksniff now
with such shrewd meaning twinkling in his eyes, that Mr Pecksniff
stopped, and asked him what he was going to say.
'Ecod!' he answered. 'Pecksniff if I knew how you meant to leave
your money, I could put you in the way of doubling it in no time.
It wouldn't be bad to keep a chance like this snug in the family.
But you're such a deep one!'
'Jonas!' cried Mr Pecksniff, much affected, 'I am not a
diplomatical character; my heart is in my hand. By far the
greater part of the inconsiderable savings I have accumulated in the
course of--I hope--a not dishonourable or useless career, is already
given, devised, and bequeathed (correct me, my dear Jonas, if I am
technically wrong), with expressions of confidence, which I will not
repeat; and in securities which it is unnecessary to mention to a
person whom I cannot, whom I will not, whom I need not, name.' Here
he gave the hand of his son-in-law a fervent squeeze, as if he would
have added, 'God bless you; be very careful of it when you get it!'
Mr Jonas only shook his head and laughed, and, seeming to think
better of what he had had in his mind, said, 'No. He would keep his
own counsel.' But as he observed that he would take a walk, Mr
Pecksniff insisted on accompanying him, remarking that he could
leave a card for Mr Montague, as they went along, by way of
gentleman-usher to himself at dinner-time. Which he did.
In the course of their walk, Mr Jonas affected to maintain that
close reserve which had operated as a timely check upon him during
the foregoing dialogue. And as he made no attempt to conciliate Mr
Pecksniff, but, on the contrary, was more boorish and rude to him
than usual, that gentleman, so far from suspecting his real design,
laid himself out to be attacked with advantage. For it is in the
nature of a knave to think the tools with which he works
indispensable to knavery; and knowing what he would do himself in
such a case, Mr Pecksniff argued, 'if this young man wanted anything
of me for his own ends, he would be polite and deferential.'
The more Jonas repelled him in his hints and inquiries, the more
solicitous, therefore, Mr Pecksniff became to be initiated into the
golden mysteries at which he had obscurely glanced. Why should
there be cold and worldly secrets, he observed, between relations?
What was life without confidence? If the chosen husband of his
daughter, the man to whom he had delivered her with so much pride
and hope, such bounding and such beaming joy; if he were not a green
spot in the barren waste of life, where was that oasis to be bound?
Little did Mr Pecksniff think on what a very green spot he planted
one foot at that moment! Little did he foresee when he said, 'All is
but dust!' how very shortly he would come down with his own!
Inch by inch, in his grudging and ill-conditioned way; sustained to
the life, for the hope of making Mr Pecksniff suffer in that tender
place, the pocket, where Jonas smarted so terribly himself, gave him
an additional and malicious interest in the wiles he was set on to
practise; inch by inch, and bit by bit, Jonas rather allowed the
dazzling prospects of the Anglo-Bengalee establishment to escape
him, than paraded them before his greedy listener. And in the same
niggardly spirit, he left Mr Pecksniff to infer, if he chose (which
he DID choose, of course), that a consciousness of not having any
great natural gifts of speech and manner himself, rendered him
desirous to have the credit of introducing to Mr Montague some one
who was well endowed in those respects, and so atone for his own
deficiencies. Otherwise, he muttered discontentedly, he would have
seen his beloved father-in-law 'far enough off,' before he would
have taken him into his confidence.
Primed in this artful manner, Mr Pecksniff presented himself at
dinner-time in such a state of suavity, benevolence, cheerfulness,
politeness, and cordiality, as even he had perhaps never attained
before. The frankness of the country gentleman, the refinement of
the artist, the good-humoured allowance of the man of the world;
philanthropy, forbearance, piety, toleration, all blended together
in a flexible adaptability to anything and everything; were
expressed in Mr Pecksniff, as he shook hands with the great
speculator and capitalist.
'Welcome, respected sir,' said Mr Pecksniff, 'to our humble village!
We are a simple people; primitive clods, Mr Montague; but we can
appreciate the honour of your visit, as my dear son-in-law can
testify. It is very strange,' said Mr Pecksniff, pressing his hand
almost reverentially, 'but I seem to know you. That towering
forehead, my dear Jonas,' said Mr Pecksniff aside, 'and those
clustering masses of rich hair--I must have seen you, my dear sir,
in the sparkling throng.'
Nothing was more probable, they all agreed.
'I could have wished,' said Mr Pecksniff, 'to have had the honour of
introducing you to an elderly inmate of our house: to the uncle of
our friend. Mr Chuzzlewit, sir, would have been proud indeed to
have taken you by the hand.'
'Is the gentleman here now?' asked Montague, turning deeply red.
'He is,' said Mr Pecksniff.
'You said nothing about that, Chuzzlewit.'
'I didn't suppose you'd care to hear of it,' returned Jonas. 'You
wouldn't care to know him, I can promise you.'
'Jonas! my dear Jonas!' remonstrated Mr Pecksniff. 'Really!'
'Oh! it's all very well for you to speak up for him,' said Jonas.
'You have nailed him. You'll get a fortune by him.'
'Oho! Is the wind in that quarter?' cried Montague. 'Ha, ha, ha!'
and here they all laughed--especially Mr Pecksniff.
'No, no!' said that gentleman, clapping his son-in-law playfully
upon the shoulder. 'You must not believe all that my young relative
says, Mr Montague. You may believe him in official business, and
trust him in official business, but you must not attach importance
to his flights of fancy.'
'Upon my life, Mr Pecksniff,' cried Montague, 'I attach the greatest
importance to that last observation of his. I trust and hope it's
true. Money cannot be turned and turned again quickly enough in the
ordinary course, Mr Pecksniff. There is nothing like building our
fortune on the weaknesses of mankind.'
'Oh fie! oh fie, for shame!' cried Mr Pecksniff. But they all
laughed again--especially Mr Pecksniff.
'I give you my honour that WE do it,' said Montague.
'Oh fie, fie!' cried Mr Pecksniff. 'You are very pleasant. That I
am sure you don't! That I am sure you don't! How CAN you, you know?'
Again they all laughed in concert; and again Mr Pecksniff laughed
This was very agreeable indeed. It was confidential, easy,
straight-forward; and still left Mr Pecksniff in the position of
being in a gentle way the Mentor of the party. The greatest
achievements in the article of cookery that the Dragon had ever
performed, were set before them; the oldest and best wines in the
Dragon's cellar saw the light on that occasion; a thousand bubbles,
indicative of the wealth and station of Mr Montague in the depths of
his pursuits, were constantly rising to the surface of the
conversation; and they were as frank and merry as three honest men
could be. Mr Pecksniff thought it a pity (he said so) that Mr
Montague should think lightly of mankind and their weaknesses. He
was anxious upon this subject; his mind ran upon it; in one way or
another he was constantly coming back to it; he must make a convert
of him, he said. And as often as Mr Montague repeated his sentiment
about building fortunes on the weaknesses of mankind, and added
frankly, 'WE do it!' just as often Mr Pecksniff repeated 'Oh fie! oh
fie, for shame! I am sure you don't. How CAN you, you know?' laying
a greater stress each time on those last words.
The frequent repetition of this playful inquiry on the part of Mr
Pecksniff, led at last to playful answers on the part of Mr
Montague; but after some little sharp-shooting on both sides, Mr
Pecksniff became grave, almost to tears; observing that if Mr
Montague would give him leave, he would drink the health of his
young kinsman, Mr Jonas; congratulating him upon the valuable and
distinguished friendship he had formed, but envying him, he would
confess, his usefulness to his fellow-creatures. For, if he
understood the objects of that Institution with which he was newly
and advantageously connected--knowing them but imperfectly--they
were calculated to do Good; and for his (Mr Pecksniff's) part, if he
could in any way promote them, he thought he would be able to lay
his head upon his pillow every night, with an absolute certainty of
going to sleep at once.
The transition from this accidental remark (for it was quite
accidental and had fallen from Mr Pecksniff in the openness of his
soul), to the discussion of the subject as a matter of business, was
easy. Books, papers, statements, tables, calculations of various
kinds, were soon spread out before them; and as they were all framed
with one object, it is not surprising that they should all have
tended to one end. But still, whenever Montague enlarged upon the
profits of the office, and said that as long as there were gulls
upon the wing it must succeed, Mr Pecksniff mildly said 'Oh fie!'--
and might indeed have remonstrated with him, but that he knew he was
joking. Mr Pecksniff did know he was joking; because he said so.
There never had been before, and there never would be again, such an
opportunity for the investment of a considerable sum (the rate of
advantage increased in proportion to the amount invested), as at
that moment. The only time that had at all approached it, was the
time when Jonas had come into the concern; which made him ill-natured
now, and inclined him to pick out a doubt in this place, and a flaw
in that, and grumbling to advise Mr Pecksniff to think better of it.
The sum which would complete the proprietorship in this snug
concern, was nearly equal to Mr Pecksniff's whole hoard; not
counting Mr Chuzzlewit, that is to say, whom he looked upon as money
in the Bank, the possession of which inclined him the more to make a
dash with his own private sprats for the capture of such a whale as
Mr Montague described. The returns began almost immediately, and
were immense. The end of it was, that Mr Pecksniff agreed to become
the last partner and proprietor in the Anglo-Bengalee, and made an
appointment to dine with Mr Montague, at Salisbury, on the next day
but one, then and there to complete the negotiation.
It took so long to bring the subject to this head, that it was
nearly midnight when they parted. When Mr Pecksniff walked
downstairs to the door, he found Mrs Lupin standing there, looking
'Ah, my good friend!' he said; 'not a-bed yet! Contemplating the
stars, Mrs Lupin?'
'It's a beautiful starlight night, sir.'
'A beautiful starlight night,' said Mr Pecksniff, looking up.
'Behold the planets, how they shine! Behold the--those two persons
who were here this morning have left your house, I hope, Mrs Lupin?'
'Yes, sir. They are gone.'
'I am glad to hear it,' said Mr Pecksniff. 'Behold the wonders of
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