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pleasanter to see than many a proud beauty's bright-
est glance : " what never ran smooth yet, can hardly
be expected to change its character for us ; so we
must take it as we find it, and fashion it into the
very best shape we can, by patience and good-humor.
I have no power at all ; I needn't tell you that ; but
I have an excellent will ; and if I could ever be of
use to you, in any way whatever, how very glad I
should be ! "

"Thank you," said Martin, shaking his hand.
" You're a good fellow, uj)on my word, and speak
very kindly. Of course you know," he added, after
a moment's pause, as he drew his chair towards the
fire again, " I should not hesitate to avail myself of
your services if you could help me at all ; but
mercy on us ! " — here he rumpled his hair impa-
tiently with his hand, and looked at Tom as if he
took it rather ill that he was not somebody else —
" you might as well be a toasting-fork or a frying-
pan, Pinch, for any help you can render me."

" Except in the inclination," said Tom gently.

" Oh ! to be sure. I meant that, of course. If
inclination went for anything, I shouldn't want
help. I tell you what you may do, though, if you
will — at the present moment too."

" What is that ? " demanded Tom.



MARTIN CHUZZLEWIT. 161

"Eead tome."

"I shall be delighted," cried Tom, catching up
the candle, with enthusiasm. '' Excuse my leaving
you in the dark a moment, and I'll fetch a book
directly. What will you like ? Shakspeare ? "

" Ay ! " replied his friend, yawning and stretching
himself. " He'll do. I am tired with the bustle of
to-day, and the novelty of everything about me;
and in such a case there's no greater luxury in the
world, I think, than being read to sleep. You
won't mind my going to sleep, if I can ? "

" Not at all ! " cried Tom.

" Then begin as soon as you like. You needn't
leave off when you see me getting drowsy (unless
you feel tired), for it's pleasant to wake gradually
to the sounds again. Did you ever try that ? "

" No, I never tried that," said Tom.

" Well ! You can, you know, one of these days
when we're both in the right humor. Don't mind
leaving me in the dark. Look sharp ! "

Mr. Pinch lost no time in moving away ; and in a
minute or two returned with one of the precious
volumes from the shelf beside his bed. Martin had
in the meantime made himself as comfortable as
circumstances would permit, by constructing before
the fire a temporary sofa of three chairs with
Mercy's stool for a pillow, and lying down at full
length upon it.

" Don't be too loud, please," he said to Pinch.

" No, no," said Tom.

" You're sure you're not cold ? "

"Not at all!" cried Tom.

" I am quite ready, then."

Mr. Pinch accordingly, after turning over the



152 MARTIN CHUZZLEWIT.

leaves of his book with as much care as if they
were living and highly cherished creatures, made
his own selection, and began to read. Before he
had completed fifty lines, his friend was snoring.

" Poor fellow ! " said Tom, softly, as he stretched
out his head to peep at him over the backs of the
chairs. " He is very young to have so much trouble.
How trustful and generous in him to bestow all this
confidence in me ! And that was she, was it ? "

But suddenly remembering their compact, he took
up the poem at the place where he had left off,
and went on reading ; always forgetting to snuff the
candle, until its wick looked like a mushroom. He
gradually became so much interested, that he quite
forgot to replenish the fire ; and was only reminded
of his neglect by Martin Chuzzlewit starting up
after the lapse of an hour or so, and crying with a
shiver, —

" Why, it's nearly out, I declare ! No wonder I
dreamed of being frozen. Do call for some coals.
What a fellow you are, Pinch !''



CHAPTER VII.

IN WHICH MR. CHEVY SLYME ASSERTS THE INDE-
PENDENCE OF HIS SPIRIT 5 AND THE BLUE DRAGON
LOSES A LIMB.

Martin began to work at the grammar-school
next morning with so much vigor and expedition,
that Mr. Pinch had new reason to do homage to the
natural endowments of that young gentleman, and
to acknowledge his infinite superiority to himself.
The new pupil received Tom's compliments very
graciously; and having by this time conceived a
real regard for him, in his own peculiar way, pre-
dicted that they would always be the very best of
friends, and that neither of them, he was certain
(but particularly Tom), would ever have reason to
regret the day on which they became acquainted.
Mr. Pinch was delighted to hear him say this, and
felt so much flattered by his kind assurances of
friendship and protection, that he was at a loss how
to express the pleasure they afforded him. And
indeed it may be observed of this friendship, such
as it was, that it had within it more likely materials
of endurance than many a sworn brotherhood that
has been rich in promise ; for so long as the one
party found a pleasure in patronizing, and the other



154 MARTIN CHUZZLEWIT.

in being patronized (which was in the very essence
of their respective characters), it was of all possible
events among the least probable, that the twin
demons Envy and Pride would ever arise between
them. So in very many cases of friendship, or
what passes for it, the old axiom is reversed, and
like clings to unlike more than to like.

They were both very busy on the afternoon suc-
ceeding the family's departure — Martin with the
grammar-school, and Tom in balancing certain
receipts of rents, and deducting Mr. Pecksniff's
commission from the same ; in which abstruse em-
ployment he was much distracted by a habit his
new friend had of whistling aloud while he was
drawing — when they were not a little startled by
the unexpected obtrusion into that sanctuary of
genius of a human head, which, although a shaggy
and somewhat alarming head in appearance, smiled
affabl}'" upon them from the doorway, in a manner
that was at once waggish, conciliatory, and expres-
sive of approbation.

"I am not industrious myself, gents both," said
the head, " but I know how to appreciate that qual-
ity in others. I wish I may turn gray and ugly, if
it isn't, in my opinion, next to genius, one of the
very charmingest qualities of the human mind.
Upon my soul, I am grateful to my friend Pecksniff
for helping me to the contemplation of such a deli-
cious picture as you present. You remind me of
Whittington, afterwards thrice Lord Mayor of Lon-
don. I give you my unsullied word of honor, that
you very strongly remind me of that historical
character. You are a pair of Whittingtons, gents,
without the cat; which is a most agreeable and



MARTIN CHIJZZLEWIT. 155

blessed exception to me, for I am not attached to the
feline species. My name is Tigg ; how do you do ? "

Martin looked to Mr. Pinch for an explanation ;
and Tom, who had never in his life set eyes on Mr.
Tigg before, looked to that gentleman himself.

" Chevy Slyme ? " said Mr. Tigg interrogatively,
and kissing his left hand in token of friendship.
**' You will understand me when I say that I am the
accredited agent of Chevy Slyme — that I am the
ambassador from the court of Chiv ? Ha, ha ! "

" Heyday ! " asked Martin, starting at the men-
tion of a name he knew. "Pray what does he
want with me ? "

" If your name is Pinch — " Mr. Tigg began.

"It is not," said Martin, checking himself.
"That is Mr. Pinch."

" If that is Mr. Pinch," cried Tigg, kissing his
hand again, and beginning to follow his head into
the room, "he will permit me to say that I greatly
esteem and respect his character, which has been
most highly commended to me by my friend Peck-
sniff ; and that I deeply appreciate his talent for
the organ, notwithstanding that I do not, if I may
use the expression, grind, myself. If this is Mr.
Pinch, I will venture to express a hope that I see
him well, and that he is suffering no inconvenience
from the easterly wind ? "

" Thank you," said Tom. " I am very well."

"That is a comfort," Mr. Tigg rejoined. "Then,"
he added, shielding his lips with the palm of his
hand, and applying them close to Mr. Pinch's ear,
" I have come for the letter."

" For the letter," said Tom aloud. " What
letter ? "



156 MARTIN CHUZZLEWIT.

"The letter," whispered Tigg, in the same cau-
tious manner as before, " which my friend Pecksniff
addressed to Chevy Slyme, Esquire, and left with
you."

" He didn't leave any letter with me," said Tom.

" Hush ! " cried the other. " It's all the same
thing, though not so delicately done by my friend
Pecksniff as I could have wished — the money."

" The money ! " cried Tom, quite scared.

''Exactly so," said Mr. Tigg. With which he
rapped Tom twice or thrice upon the breast and
nodded several times, as though he would say, that
he saw they understood each other ; that it was un-
necessary to mention the circumstance before a
third person ; and that he would take it as a partic-
ular favor if Tom would slip the amount into his
hand as quietly as possible.

Mr. Pinch, however, was so much astounded by
this (to him) inexplicable deportment, that he at
once openly declared there must be some mistake,
and that he had been intrusted with no commission
whatever having any reference to Mr. Tigg or to
his friend either. Mr. Tigg received this declaration
with a grave request that Mr. Pinch would have the
goodness to make it again ; and on Tom's repeating
it in a still more emphatic and unmistakable man-
ner, checked it off, sentence for sentence, by nodding
his head solemnly at the end of each. When it
had come to a close for the second time, Mr. Tigg sat
himself down in a chair and addressed the young
men as follows :

" Then I tell you what it is, gents both. There
is at this present moment, in this very place, a per-
fect constellation of talent and genius, who is in-



MARTIN CHUZZLEWIT. 157

volved, through what I cannot but designate as the
culpable negligence of my friend Pecksniff, in a
situation as tremendous, perhaps, as the social inter-
course of the nineteenth century will readily admit
of. There is actually at this instant, at the Blue
Dragon in this village — an alehouse, observe ; a
common, paltry, low-minded, clod-hopping, pipe-
smoking alehouse — an individual, of whom it may
be said, in the language of the Poet, that nobody
but himself can in any way come up to him ; who
is detained there for his bill. Ha ! ha ! For his
bill. I repeat it — for his bill. Now," said Mr.
Tigg, " we have heard of Fox's Book of Martyrs,
I believe, and we have heard of the Court of Re-
quests, and the Star Chamber ; but I fear the con-
tradiction of no man, alive or dead, when I assert
that my friend Chevy Slyme being held in pawn for
a bill, beats any amount of cock-fighting with which
I am acquainted."

Martin and Mr. Pinch looked, first at each other,
and afterwards at Mr. Tigg, who with his arms
folded on his breast surveyed them, half in despond-
ency, and half in bitterness.

"Don't mistake me, gents both," he said, stretch-
ing forth his right hand. " If it had been for any-
thing but a bill, I could have borne it, and could
still have looked upon mankind with some feeling
of respect ; but when such a man as my friend
Slyme is detained for a score — a thing in itself
essentially mean ; a low performance on a slate, or
possibly chalked upon the back of a door — I do
feel that there is a screw of such magnitude loose
somewhere, that the whole framework of society is
shaken, and the very first principles of things can



158 MAHTIN CHUZZLEWIT.

no longer be trusted. In short, gents both," said
Mr. Tigg with a passionate flourish of his hands
a'nd head, " when a man like Slyme is detained for
such a thing as a bill, I reject the superstition of
ages, and believe nothing. I don't even believe that
I don't believe, curse me if I do ! "

" I am very sorry, I am sure," said Tom after a
pause, " but Mr. Pecksniff said nothing to me about
it, and I couldn't act without his instructions.
Wouldn't it be better, sir, if you were to go to —
to wherever you came from — yourself, and remit
the money to your friend ? "

" How can that be done, when I am detained
also ? " said Mr. Tigg ; " and when moreover, owing
to the astounding, and I must add, guilty negligence
of my friend Pecksniff, I have no money for coach
hire ? "

Tom thought of reminding the gentleman (who,
no doubt, in his agitation had forgotten it) that
there was a post-office in the land ; and that possi-
bly, if he wrote to some friend or agent for a remit-
tance, it might not be lost upon the road ; or at
all events that the chance, however desperate, was
worth trusting to. But, as his good-nature presently
suggested to him certain reasons for abstaining from
this hint, he paused again, and then asked, —

" Did you say, sir, that you were detained also ? "

" Come here," said Mr. Tigg, rising. " You have
no objection to my opening this window for a
moment ? "

"Certainly not," said Tom.

" Very good," said Mr. Tigg, lifting the sash.
" You see a fellow down there in a red neckcloth
and no waistcoat ? "



MARTIN CHUZZLEWIT. 159

"Of course I do," cried Tom. "That's Mark
Tapley."

" Mark Tapley, is it ? " said the gentleman. "Then
Mark Tapley had not only the great politeness to
follow me to this house, but is waiting now to see
me home again. And for that act of attention, sir,"
added Mr. Tigg, stroking his mustache, " I can tell
you that Mark Tapley had better in his infancy
have been fed to suffocation by Mrs. Tapley, than
preserved to this time."

Mr. Pinch was not so dismayed by this terrible
threat, but that he had voice enough to call to Mark
to come in, and upstairs ; a summons which he so
speedily obeyed, that almost as soon as Tom and Mr.
Tigg had drawn in their heads and closed the win-
dow again, he, the denounced, appeared before them.

" Come here, Mark ! " said Mr. Pinch. " Good
gracious me, what's the matter between Mrs. Lupin
and this gentleman ? "

" What gentleman, sir ? " said Mark. " I don't
see no gentleman here, sir, excepting you and the
new gentleman," to whom he made a rough kind of
bow — " and there's nothing wrong between Mrs.
Lupin and either of you, Mr. Pinch, I am sure."

" Nonsense, Mark ! " cried Tom, " You see
Mr. — "

"Tigg," interposed that gentleman. "Wait a
bit. I shall crush him soon. All in good time ! "

"Oh, him?" rejoined Mark, with an air of care-
less defiance. " Yes, I see hiin. I could see him a
little better, if he'd shave himself, and get his hair
cut."

Mr. Tigg shook his head with a ferocious look,
and smote himself once upon the breast.



160 MARTIN CHUZZLEWIT.

" It's no use," said Mark. " If you knock ever
so much in that quarter, you'll get no answer. I
know better. There's nothing there but padding;
and a greasy sort it is."

"Nay, Mark," urged Mr. Pinch, interposing to
prevent hostilities, " tell me what I ask you. You're
not out of temper, I hope ? "

" Out of temper, sir ! " cried Mark, with a grin ;
" why, no, sir. There's a little credit — not much —
in being jolly, when such fellows as him is a-going
about like roaring lions : if there is any breed of
lions, at least, as is all roar and mane. What is
there between him and Mrs. Lupin, sir ? Why,
there's a score between him and Mrs. Lupin. And
I think Mrs. Lupin lets him and his friend off very
easy in not charging 'em double prices for being a
disgrace to the Dragon. That's my opinion. I
wouldn't have any such Peter the Wild Boy as him
in my house, sir, not if I was paid race-week prices
for it. He's enough to turn the very beer in the
casks sour with his looks : he is ! So he would, if
it had judgment enough."

" You're not answering my question, you know,
Mark," observed Mr. Pinch.

" Well, sir," said Mark, " I don't know as there's
much to answer further than that. Him and his
friend goes and stops at the Moon and Stars till
they've run a bill there ; and then comes and stops
with us and does the same. The running of bills is
common enough, Mr. Pinch ; it ain't that as we
object to ; it's the ways of this chap. Nothing's
good enough for him ; all the women is dying for
him, he thinks, and is overpaid if he winks at 'em ;
and all the men was made to be ordered about by



MARTIN CHUZZLEWIT. 161

him. This not being aggravation enough, he says
this morning to me, in his usual captivating way,
' We're going to-night, my man.' ' Are you, sir ? '
says I. 'Perhaps you'd like the bill got ready,
sir?' 'Oh, no, my man,' he says; 'you needn't
mind that. I'll give Pecksniff orders to see to
that.' In reply to which the Dragon makes answer,
' Thankee, sir, you're very kind to honor us so far,
but as we don't know any particular good of you,
and you don't travel with luggage, and Mr. Peck-
sniff ain't at home (which perhaps you mayn't
happen to be aware of, sir), we should prefer some-
thing more satisfactory ; ' and that's where the mat-
ter stands. And I ask," said Mr. Tapley, pointing,
in conclusion, to Mr. Tigg, with his hat, " any lady
or gentleman, possessing ordinary strength of mind,
to say, whether he's a disagreeable-looking chap or
not ? "

*' Let me inquire," said Martin, interposing be-
tween this candid speech and the delivery of some
blighting anathema by Mr. Tigg, " what the amount
of this debt may be."

" In point of money, sir, very little," answered
Mark. " Only just turned of three pounds. But it
ain't that ; it's the — "

" Yes, yes, you told us so before," said Martin.
"Pinch, a word with you."

" What is it ? " asked Tom, retiring with him to
a corner of the room.

" Why, simply — I am ashamed to say — that this
Mr. Slyme is a relation of mine, of whom I never
heard anything pleasant ; and that I don't want him
here just now, and think he would be cheaply got
rid of, perhaps, for three or four pounds. You
VOL, i.-ll.



162 MARTIN CHUZZLEWIT.

haven't enough money to pay this bill, I sup-
pose ? "

Tom shook his head to an extent that left no
doubt of his entire sincerity.

" That's unfortunate, for I am poor too ; and in
case you had had it, I'd have borrowed it of you.
But if we told this landlady we would see her paid,
I suppose that would answer the same purpose ? "

" Oh, dear, yes ! " said Tom. " She knows me,
bless you ! "

" Then, let us go down at once and tell her so ;
for the sooner we are rid of their company the
better. As you have conducted the conversation
with this gentleman hitherto, perhaps you'll tell
him what we purpose doing ; will you ? "

Mr. Pinch, complying, at once imparted the intel-
ligence to Mr. Tigg, who shook him warmly by the
hand in return, assuring him that his faith in any-
thing and everything was again restored. It was
not so much, he said, for the temporary relief of
this assistance that he prized it, as for its vindica-
tion of the high principle that Nature's Nobs felt
with Nature's Nobs, and that true greatness of soul
sympathized with true greatness of soul, all the
world over. It proved to him, he said, that like
him they admired genius, even when it was coupled
with the alloy occasionally visible in the metal of
his friend Slyme ; and on behalf of that friend he
thanked them; as warmly and heartily as if the
cause were his own. Being cut short in these
speeches by a general move towards the stairs, he
took possession at the street-door of the lapel of
Mr. Pinch's coat, as a security against further inter-
ruption ; and entertained that gentleman with some



MARTIN CHUZZLEWIT. 163

highly improving discourse until they reached the
Dragon, whither they were closely followed by
Mark and the new pupil.

The rosy hostess scarcely needed Mr. Pinch's
word as a preliminary to the release of her two
visitors, of whom she was glad to be rid on any
terms ; indeed, their brief detention had originated
mainly with Mr. Tapley, who entertained a consti-
tutional dislike to gentlemen out at elbows who
flourished on false pretences ; and had conceived a
particular aversion to Mr. Tigg and his friend, as
choice specimens of the species. The business in
hand thus easily settled, Mr. Pinch and Martin
would have withdrawn immediately, but for the
urgent entreaties of Mr. Tigg that they would
allow him the honor of presenting them to his
friend Slyme, which were so very difficult of resist-
ance that, yielding partly to these persuasions and
partly to their own curiosity, they suffered them-
selves to be ushered into the presence of that dis-
tinguished gentleman.

He was brooding over the remains of yesterday's
decanter of brandy, and was engaged in the thought-
ful occupation of making a chain of rings on the top
of the table with the wet foot of his drinking-glass.
Wretched and forlorn as he looked, Mr. Slyme had
once been, in his way, the choicest of swaggerers :
putting forth his pretensions boldly, as a man of
infinite taste and most undoubted promise. The
stock in trade requisite to set up an amateur in this
department of business is very slight and easily got
together ; a trick of the nose and a curl of the lip
sufficient to compound a tolerable sneer, being ample
provision for any exigency. But, in an evil hour,



164 MARTIN CHUZZLEWIT.

this offshoot of the Chuzzlewit trunk, being lazy,
and ill qualified for any regular pursuit, and having
dissipated such means as he ever possessed, had
formally established himself as a professor of Taste
for a livelihood ; and finding, too late, that something
more than his old amount of qualifications was
necessary to sustain him in this calling, had quickly
fallen to his present level, where he retained nothing
of his old self but his boastfuluess and his bile, and
seemed to have no existence separate or apart from
his friend Tigg. And now so abject and so pitiful
was he — at once so maudlin, insolent, beggarly,
and proud — that even his friend and parasite,
standing erect beside him, swelled into a Man by
contrast.

" Chiv," said Mr. Tigg, clapping him on the back,
"my friend Pecksniff not being at home, I have
arranged our trifling piece of business with Mr.
Pinch and his friend. Mr. Pinch and friend, Mr.
Chevy Slyme — Chiv, Mr. Pinch and friend ! "

" These are agreeable circumstances in which to
be introduced to strangers," said Chevy Slyme,
turning his bloodshot eyes towards Tom Pinch.
"I am the most miserable man in the world, I
believe ! "

Tom begged he wouldn't mention it ; and finding
him in this condition, retired, after an awkward
pause, followed by Martin. But Mr. Tigg so
urgently conjured them, by coughs and signs, to
remain in the shadow of the door, that they stopped
there.

"I swear," cried Mr. Slyme, giving the table an
imbecile blow with his fist, and then feebly leaning
his head upon his hand, while some drunken drops



MARTIN CHUZZLEWIT. 165

oozed from his eyes, "that I am the wretchedest
creature on record. Society is in a conspiracy
against me. I'm the most literary man alive. I'm
full of scholarship ; I'm full of genius ; I'm full of
information : I'm full of novel views on every sub-
ject ; yet look at my condition ! I'm at this moment
obliged to two strangers for a tavern bill ! "

Mr. Tigg replenished his friend's glass, pressed
it into his hand, and nodded an intimation to the
visitors that they would see him in a better aspect
immediately.

" Obliged to two strangers for a tavern bill, eh ? "
repeated Mr. Slyme, after a sulky application to his
glass. " Very pretty ! And crowds of impostors,
the while, becoming famous : men who are no more
on a level with me than — Tigg, I take you to
■vritness that I am the most persecuted hound on the
face of the earth."

With a whine, not unlike the cry of the animal he
named, in its lowest state of humiliation, he raised
his glass to his mouth again. He found some
encouragement in it ; for when he set it down, he
laughed scornfully. Upon that Mr. Tigg gesticu-
lated to the visitors once more, and with great ex-
pression : implying that now the time was come
when they would see Chiv in his greatness.

" Ha, ha, ha ! " laughed Mr. Slyme. " Obliged to
two strangers for a tavern bill ! Yet I think I've a
rich uncle, Tigg, who could buy up the uncles of
fifty strangers ? Have I, or have I not ? I come
of a good family, I believe ? Do I, or do I not ?
I'm not a man of common capacity or accomplish-
ments, I think ? Am I, or am I not ? "

" You are the American aloe of the human race,



166 MAETIN CHUZZLEWIT.

my dear Cliiv," said Mr. Tigg, " which only blooms
once in a hundred years ! "

" Ha, ha, ha ! " laughed Mr. Slyme again.
" Obliged to two strangers for a tavern bill ! I !


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Online LibraryCharles DickensDicken's works (Volume 27) → online text (page 11 of 28)