Charles Dickens.

Dicken's works (Volume 27) online

. (page 21 of 28)
Online LibraryCharles DickensDicken's works (Volume 27) → online text (page 21 of 28)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


Your health ! "

" Thank you," returned young Westlock. " Yours.
And may the new pupil turn out as well as you
can desire ! "

"What new pupil?"

" The fortunate youth born under an auspicious



MARTIN CHUZZLEWIT. 307

star," returned John Westlock, laughing; "whose
parents, or guardians, are destined to be hooked by
the advertisement. What ! don't you know that he
has advertised again ? "

" No."

" Oh, yes ! I read it just before dinner in the old
newspaper. I know it to be his ; having some rea-
son to remember the style. Hush ! Here's Pinch.
Strange, is it not, that the more he likes Pecksniff
(if he can like him better than he does), the greater
reason one has to like him ? Not a word more, or
we shall spoil his whole enjoyment."

Tom entered as the words were spoken, with a
radiant smile upon his face ; and rubbing his hands,
more from a sense of delight than because he was
cold (for he had been running fast), sat down in his
warm corner again, and was as happy — as only
Tom Pinch could be. There is no other simile that
will express his state of mind.

" And so," he said, when he had gazed at his
friend for some time in silent pleasure, '' so you
really are a gentleman at last, John. Well, to be
sure ! "

''Trying to be, Tom; trying to be," he rejoined
good-humoredly. " There is no saying what I may
turn out, in time."

" I suppose you wouldn't carry your own box to
the mail now," said Tom Pinch, smiling : " although
you lost it altogether by not taking it."

" Wouldn't I ? " retorted John. " That's all you
know about it. Pinch. It must be a very heavy
box that I wouldn't carry to get away from Peck-
sniff's, Tom."

" There ! " cried Pinch, turning to Martin, " I



308 MARTIN CHUZZLEWIT.

told you so. The great favilt in his character is his
injustice to Pecksniff. You mustn't mind a word
he says on that subject. His prejudice is most
extraordinary."

" The absence of anything like prejudice on
Tom's part, you know," said John Westlock, laugh-
ing heartily, as he laid his hand on Mr, Pinch's
shoulder, " is perfectly wonderful. If one man
ever had a profound knowledge of another, and saw
him in a true light, and in his own proper colors,
Tom has that knowledge of Mr. Pecksniff."

" Why, of course I have," cried Tom. " That's
exactly what I have so often said to you. If you
knew him as well as I do — John, I'd give almost
any money to bring that about — you'd admire, re-
spect, and reverence him. You couldn't help it.
Oh, how you wounded his feelings when you went
away I "

^' If I had known whereabout his feelings lay,'*
retorted young Westlock, " I'd have done my best,
Tom, with that end in view, you may depend upon
it. But as I couldn't wound him in what he has
not, and in what he knows nothing of, except in his
ability to probe them to the quick in other people,
I am afraid I can lay no claim to your compli-
ment."

Mr. Pinch, being unwilling to protract a discus-
sion which might possibly corrupt Martin, forbore
to say anything in reply to this speech; but John
Westlock, whom nothing short of an iron gag would
have silenced when Mr. Pecksniff's merits were
once in question, continued notwithstanding.

" His feelings ! Oh, he's a tender-hearted man !
His feelings ! Oh, he's a considerate, conscientious,



MARTIN CHUZZLEWIT. 309

self-examining, moral vagabond, he is ! His feel-
ings ! Oh ! — What's the matter, Tom ? "

Mr. Pinch was by this time erect upon the
hearth-rug, buttoning his coat with great energy.

"I can't bear it," said Tom, shaking his head.
" No. I really cannot. You must excuse me, John.
I have a great esteem and friendship for you ;
I love you very much ; and have been perfectly
charmed and overjoyed to-day to find you just the
same as ever; but I cannot listen to this."

" Why, it's my old way, Tom ; and you say your-
self that you are glad to find me unchanged."

'' Not in this respect," said Tom Pinch. " You
must excuse me, John. I cannot, really; I will
not. It's very wrong ; you should be more guarded
in your expressions. It was bad enough when you
and I used to be alone together, but under existing
circumstances, I can't endure it, really. No. I
cannot indeed."

" You are quite right ! " exclaimed the other,
exchanging looks with Martin; -'and I am quite
wrong, Tom. I don't know how the deuce we fell
on this unlucky theme. I beg your pardon with
all my heart."

''You have a free and manly temper, I know,"
said Pinch ; " and therefore, your being so ungen-
erous in this one solitary instance, only grieves me
the more. It's not my pardon you have to ask,
John. You have done me nothing but kindnesses."

"Well! Pecksniff's pardon, then," said young
Westlock. "Anything, Tom, or anybody. Peck-
sniff's pardon — will that do ? Here ! let us drink
Pecksniff's health ! "

"Thank you," cried Tom, shaking hands with



310 MARTIN CHUZZLEWIT.

him eagerly and filling a bumper, " Thank you ;
I'll drink it with all my heart, John. Mr. Peck-
sniff's health, and prosperity to him ! "

John Westlock echoed the sentiment, or nearly
so ; for he drank Mr. Pecksniff's health, and Some-
thing to him — but what, was not quite audible.
The general unanimity being then completely re-
stored, they drew their chairs closer round the fire,
and conversed in perfect harmony and enjoyment
until bedtime.

No slight circumstance, perhaps, could have bet-
ter illustrated the difference of character between
John Westlock and Martin ChuzzlcAvit than the
manner in which each of the young men contem-
plated Tom Pinch, after the little rupture just
described. There was a certain amount of jocularity
in the looks of both, no doubt, but there all resem-
blance ceased. The old pupil could not do enough
to show Tom how cordially he felt towards him,
and his friendly regard seemed of a graver and
more thoughtful kind than before. The new one,
on the other hand, had no impulse but to laugh at
the recollection of Tom's extreme absurdity; and
mingled with his amusement there was something
slighting and contemptuous, indicative, as it
appeared, of his opinion that Mr. Pinch was much
too far gone in simplicity to be admitted as the
friend, on serious and equal terms, of any rational
man.

John Westlock, who did nothing by halves, if he
could help it, had provided beds for his two guests
in the hotel ; and after a very happy evening, they
retired. Mr. Pinch was sitting on the side of his
bed with his cravat and shoes off, ruminating on



MARTIN CHUZZLEWIT. 311

the manifold good qualities of his old friend, when
he was interrupted by a knock at his chamber door,
and the voice of John himself.

" You're not asleep yet, are you, Tom ? "

" Bless you, no ! not I. I was thinking of you,"
replied Tom, opening the door. "Come in."

" I am not going to detain you," said John ; " but
I have forgotten all the evening a little commission
I took upon myself ; and I am afraid I may forget
it again, if I fail to discharge it at once. You know
a Mr. Tigg, Tom, I believe ? "

"Tigg!" cried Tom. "Tigg! The gentleman
who borrowed some money of me ? "

"Exactly," said John Westlock. "He begged
me to present his compliments, and to return it with
many thanks. Here it is. I suppose it's a good
one, but he is rather a doubtful kind of customer,
Tom."

Mr. Pinch received the little piece of gold with
a face whose brightness might have shamed the
metal ; and said he had no fear about that. He was
glad, he added, to find Mr. Tigg so prompt and
honorable in his dealings ; very glad.

" Why, to tell you the truth, Tom," replied his
friend, "he's not always so. If you'll take my
advice, you'll avoid him as much as you can, in the
event of your encountering him again. And by no
means, Tom — pray bear this in mind, for I am very
serious — by no means lend him money any more."

" Ay, ay ! " said Tom, with his eyes wide open.

" He is very far from being a reputable acquaint-
ance," returned young Westlock; "and the more
you let him know you think so, the better for you,
Tom."



312 MARTIK CHUZZLEWIT.

" I say, John," quoth Mr. Pinch, as his counte-
nance fell, and he shook his head in a dejected
manner, " I hope you are not getting into bad
company."

"No, no," he replied, laughing. "Don't be un-
easy on that score."

" Oh, but I am uneasy," said Tom Pinch ; " I
can't help it, when I hear you talking in that way.
If Mr. Tigg is what you describe him to be, you
have no business to know him, John. You may
laugh, but I don't consider it by any means a laugh-
ing matter, I assure you."

" No, no," returned his friend, composing his
features. " Quite right. It is not, certainly."

" You know, John," said Mr. Pinch, " your very
good-nature and kindness of heart make you
thoughtless ; and you can't be too careful on such
a point as this. Upon my word, if I thought you
were falling among bad companions, I should be
quite wretched, for I know how difficult you would
find it to shake them off. I would much rather
have lost this money, John, than I would have had
it back again on such terms."

" I tell you, my dear good old fellow," cried his
friend, shaking him to and fro with both hands, and
smiling at him with a cheerful, open countenance,
that would have carried conviction to a mind much
more suspicious than Tom's ; " I tell you there is
no danger."

" Well ! " cried Tom, " I am glad to hear it ; I am
overjoyed to hear it. I am sure there is not, when
you say so in that manner. You won't take it ill,
John, that I said what I did just now ?"

" 111 ! " said the other, giving his hand a hearty



MARTIN CHUZZLEWIT. 313

squeeze. " Why, what do you think I am made of ?
Mr. Tigg and I are not on such an intimate footing
that you need be at all uneasy ; I give you my
solemn assurance of that, Tom. You are quite
comfortable now ? "

"Quite," said Tom.

" Then once more, good-night ! "

" Good-night ! " cried Tom ; " and such pleasant
dreams to you as should attend the sleep of the
best fellow in the world ! "

" — Except Pecksniff," said his friend, stopping
at the door for a moment, and looking gayly back.

"Except Pecksniff," answered Tom, with great
gravity; "of course."

And thus they parted for the night ; John West-
lock full of light-heartedness and good-humor ; and
poor Tom Pinch quite satisfied, though still, as he
turned over on his side in bed, he muttered to him-
self, " I really do wish, for all that, though, that he
wasn't acquainted with Mr, Tigg ! "

They breakfasted together very early next morn-
ing, for the two young men desired to get back
again in good season; and John Westlock was to
return to London by the coach that day. As he
had some hours to spare, he bore them company for
three or four miles on their walk, and only parted
from them at last in sheer necessity. The parting
was an unusually hearty one, not only as between
him and Tom Pinch, but on the side of Martin also,
who had found in the old pupil a very different sort
of person from the milksop he had prepared him-
self to expect.

Young Westlock stopped upon a rising ground,
when he had gone a little distance; and looked back.



314 MARTIN CHUZZLEWIT.

They were walking at a brisk pace, and Tom ap-
peared to be talking earnestly. Martin had taken
off his great-coat, the wind being now behind them,
and carried it upon his arm. As he looked, he saw
Tom relieve him of it, after a faint resistance, and,
throwing it upon his own, encumber himself with
the weight of both. This trivial incident impressed
the old pupil mightily, for he stood there, gazing
after them, until they were hidden from his view ;
when he shook his head, as if he were troubled by
some uneasy reflection, and thoughtfully retraced
his steps to Salisbury.

In the meantime Martin and Tom pursued their
way, until they halted, safe and sound, at Mr. Peck-
sniff's house, where a brief epistle from that good
gentleman to Mr. Pinch announced the family's
return by that night's coach. As it would pass the
corner of the lane at about six o'clock in the morn-
ing, Mr. Pecksniff requested that the gig might be
in waiting at the finger-post about that time,
together with a cart for the luggage. And to the
end that he might be received with the greater
honor, the young men agreed to rise early, and be
upon the spot themselves.

It was the least cheerful day they had yet passed
together. Martin was out of spirits and out of
humor, and took every opportunity of comparing
his condition and prospects with those of young
Westlock: much to his own disadvantage always.
This mood of his depressed Tom : and neither that
morning's parting, nor yesterday's dinner, helped
to mend the matter. So the hours dragged on
heavily enough ; and they were glad to go to bed
early.



MARTIN CHUZZLEWIT. 315

They were not quite so glad to get up again at
half-past four o'clock, in all the shivering discom-
fort of a dark winter's morning; but they turned
out punctually, and were at the finger-post full half
an hour before the appointed time. It was not by
any means a lively morning, for the sky was black
and cloudy, and it rained hard ; but Martin said
there was some satisfaction in seeing that brute of
a horse (by this he meant Mr. Pecksniff's Arab
steed) getting very wet; and that he rejoiced, on
his account, that it rained so fast. From this it
may be inferred that Martin's spirits had not
improved, as indeed they had not ; for while he and
Mr. Pinch stood waiting under a hedge, looking at
the rain, the gig, the cart, and its reeking driver, he
did nothing but grumble ; and, but that it is indis-
pensable to any dispute that there should be two
parties to it, he would certainly have picked a quar-
rel with Tom.

At length the noise of wheels was faintly audible
in the distance, and presently the coach came
splashing through the mud and mire, with one
miserable outside passenger crouching down among
wet straw, under a saturated umbrella; and the
coachman, guard, and horses in a fellowship of
dripping wretchedness. Immediately on its stop-
ping, Mr. Pecksniff let down the window-glass and
hailed Tom Pinch.

" Dear me, Mr. Pinch ! is it possible that you are
out upon this very inclement morning ? "

"Yes, sir," cried Tom, advancing eagerly, "Mr.
Chuzzlewit and I, sir."

" Oh ! " said Mr. Pecksniff, looking not so much
at Martin as at the spot on which he stood. " Oh !



316 MAHTIN CHUZZLEWIT.

Indeed ! Do me the favor to see to the trunks, if
you please, Mr. Pinch."

Then, Mr. Pecksniff descended, and helped his
daughters to alight ; but neither he nor the young
ladies took the slightest notice of Martin, who had
advanced to offer his assistance, but Avas repulsed
by Mr. Pecksniff's standing immediately before his
person, with his back towards him. In the same
manner, and in profound silence, Mr. Pecksniff
handed his daughters into the gig ; and following
himself and taking the reins, drove off home.

Lost in astonishment, Martin stood staring at the
coach, and when the coach had driven away, at Mr.
Pinch and the luggage, until the cart moved off too ;
when he said to Tom, —

"Now will you have the goodness to tell me
what this portends ? "

" What ? " asked Tom.

'' This fellow's behavior — Mr. Pecksniff's, I mean.
You saw it ? "

"No. Indeed I did not," cried Tom. "I was
busy with the trunks."

" It is no matter," said Martin. " Come ! Let
us make haste back." And without another word
he started off at such a pace, that Tom had some
difficulty in keeping up with him.

He had no care where he went, but walked
through little heaps of mud and little pools of
water with the utmost indifference ; looking straight
before him, and sometimes laughing in a strange
manner within himself. Tom felt that anything he
could say would only render him the more obstinate,
and therefore trusted to Mr. Pecksniff's manner,
when they reached the house, to remove the mistaken



MARTIN CHUZZLEWIT. 317

impression under which he felt convinced so great a
favorite as the new pupil must unquestionably be
laboring. But he was not a little amazed himself,
when tliey did reach it, and entered the parlor
where Mr. Pecksniff was sitting alone before the
fire, drinking some hot tea, to find, that instead of
taking favorable notice of his relative, and keeping
him, Mr. Pinch, in the background, he did exactly
the reverse, and was so lavish in his attentions to
Tom, that Tom was thoroughly confounded.

"Take some tea, Mr. Pinch — take some tea,"
said Pecksniff, stirring the fire. "You must be
very cold and damp. Pray take some tea, and come
into a warm place, Mr. Pinch."

Tom saw that Martin looked at Mr. Pecksniff as
though he could have easily found it in his heart to
give him an invitation to a very warm place ; but
he was quite silent, and standing opposite that gen-
tleman at the table, regarded him attentively.

"Take a chair, Mr. Pinch," said Pecksniff.
"Take a chair, if you please. How have things
gone on in our absence, Mr. Pinch ? "

" You — you will be very much pleased with the
grammar-school, sir," said Tom. "It's nearly fin-
ished."

" If you will have the goodness, Mr. Pinch," said
Pecksniff, waving his hand and smiling, "we will
not discuss anything connected with that question at
present. What have you been doing, Thomas,
humph ? "

Mr. Pinch looked from master to pupil, and from
pupil to master, and was so perplexed and dismayed,
that he wanted presence of mind to answer the
question. In this awkward interval, Mr. Pecksniff



318 MARTIN CHUZZLEWIT.

(who was perfectly conscious of Martin's gaze,
though he had never once glanced towards him)
poked the fire very much, and when he couldn't do
that any more, drank tea assiduously.

"Now, Mr. Pecksniff," said Martin at last, in a
very quiet voice, " if you have sufficiently refreshed
and recovered yourself, I shall be glad to hear what
you mean by this treatment of me."

" And what," said Mr. Pecksniff, turning his eyes
on Tom Pinch, even more placidly and gently than
before, " what have you been doing, Thomas,
humph ? "

When he had repeated this inquiry, he looked
round the walls of the room as if he were curious
to see whether any nails had been left there by
accident in former times.

Tom was almost at his wit's end what to say
between the two, and had already made a gesture as
if he would call Mr. Pecksniff's attention to the
gentleman who had last addressed him, when Mar-
tin saved him further trouble by doing so himself.

"Mr. Pecksniff," he said, softly rapping the table
twice or thrice, and moving a step or two nearer, so
that he could have touched him with his hand ;
" you heard what I said just now. Do me the favor
to reply, if you please. I ask you " — he raised his
voice a little here — " what you mean by this ? "

" I will talk to you, sir," said Mr. Pecksniff in a
severe voice, as he looked at him for the first time,
" presently."

" You are very obliging," returned Martin ; " pres-
ently will not do. I must trouble you to talk to me
at once."

Mr. Pecksniff made a feint of being deeply inter-



MARTIN CHUZZLEWIT. 319

ested in his pocket-book, but it shook in his hands ;
he trembled so.

" Now/' retorted Martin, rapping the table again.
" Now. Presently will not do. Now ! "

" Do you threaten me, sir ? " cried Mr. Pecksniff.

Martin looked at him, and made no answer ; but
a curious observer might have detected an ominous
twitching at his mouth, and perhaps an involuntary
attraction of his right hand in the direction of Mr.
Pecksniff's cravat.

" I lament to be obliged to say, sir," resumed Mr.
Pecksniff, " that it would be quite in keeping with
your character if you did threaten me. You have
deceived me. You have imposed upon a nature
which you knew to be confiding and unsuspicious.
You have obtained admission, sir," said Mr. Peck-
sniff, rising, "to this house, on perverted statements,
and on false pretences."

" Go on," said Martin, with a scornful smile. " I
understand you now. What more ? "

'• Thus much more, sir," cried Mr. Pecksniff, trem-
bling from head to foot, and trying to rub his hands,
as though he were only cold. " Thus much more, if
you force me to publish your shame before a third
party, which I was unwilling and indisposed to do.
This lowly roof, sir, must not be contaminated by
the presence of one who has deceived, and cruelly
deceived, an honorable, beloved, venerated, and ven-
erable gentleman ; and who wisely suppressed that
deceit from me when he sought my protection and
favor, knowing that, humble as I am, I am an honest
man, seeking to do my duty in this carnal universe,
and setting my face against all vice and treachery.
I weep for your depravity, sir," said Mr. Pecksniff ;



320 MARTIN CHUZZLEWIT.

" I mourn over your corruption, I pity your volun«
tary withdrawal of yourself from the flowery paths
of purity and peace;" here he struck himself upon
his breast, or moral garden ; '^ but I cannot have
a leper and a serpent for an inmate. Go forth,"
said Mr. Pecksniff, stretching out his hand ; " go
forth, young man ! Like all who know you, I re-
nounce you ! "

With what intention Martin made a stride for-
ward at these words, it is impossible to say. It is
enough to know that Tom Pinch caught him in his
arms, and that, at the same moment, Mr. Pecksniff
stepped back so hastily, that he missed his footing,
tumbled over a chair, and fell in a sitting posture
on the ground ; where he remained without an effort
to get up again, with his head in a corner : perhaps
considering it the safest place.

" Let me go, Pinch ! " cried Martin, shaking him
away. " Why do you hold me ? Do you think a
blow could make him a more abject creature than
he is ? Do you think that if I spat upon him, I
could degrade him to a lower level than his own ?
Look at him ! Look at him, Pinch ! "

Mr. Pinch involuntarily did so. Mr. Pecksniff
sitting, as has been already mentioned, on the car-
pet, with his head in an acute angle of the wainscot,
and all the damage and detriment of an uncomfort-
able journey about him, was not exactly a model of
all that is prepossessing and dignified in man, cer-
tainly. Still he was Pecksniff; it was impossible
to deprive him of that unique and paramount appeal
to Tom. And he returned Tom's glance, as if he
would have said, " Ay, Mr. Pinch, look at me !
Here I am ! You know what the Poet says about



\ I'-



y^f^




MARTIN CHUZZLEWIT. 321

an honest man : and an honest man is one of the
few great works that can be seen for nothing ! Look
at me ! "

'' I tell you," said Martin, " that as he lies there,
disgraced, bought, used ; a cloth for dirty hands, a
mat for dirty feet, a lying, fawning, servile hound,
he is the very last and worst among the vermin of
the world. And mark me, Pinch ! The day will
come — he knows it : see it written on his face
while I speak ! — when even you will find him out,
and will know him as I do, and as he knows I do.
He renounce me ! Cast your eyes on the Renouncer,
Pinch, and be the wiser for the recollection ! "

He pointed at him as he spoke with unutterable
contempt, and flinging his hat upon his head, walked
from the room and from the house. He went so
rapidly that he was already clear of the village,
when he heard Tom Pinch calling breathlessly after
him in the distance.

" Well ! what now ? " he said, when Tom came
up.

" Dear, dear ! " cried Tom, " are you going ? "

" Going ! " he echoed. " Going ! "

" I didn't so much mean that, as were you going
now at once — in this bad weather — on foot —
without your clothes — with no money ? " cried
Tom.

" Yes," he answered sternly, " I am."

" And where ? " cried Tom. " Oh, where will
yoti go ? "

*' I don't know," he said. " Yes, I do. I'll go to
America ! "

" No, no," cried Tom, in a kind of agony. " Don't
go there. Pray don't ! Think better of it. Don't

VOL. I.-21.



322 MARTIN CHUZZLEWIT.

be so dreadfully regardless of yourself. Don't go
to America ! "

" My mind is made up," he said. " Your friend
was right. I'll go to America. God bless you,
Pinch ! "

" Take this ! " cried Tom, pressing a book upon
him in great agitation. " I must make haste back,
and can't say anything I would. Heaven be with
you. Look at the leaf I have turned down. Good-
by ! good-by ! "

The simple fellow wrung him by the hand, with
tears stealing down his cheeks ; and they parted
hurriedly upon their separate ways.



CHAPTER XIII.

SHOWING WHAT BECAME OF MARTIN AND HIS DESPER-
ATE RESOLVE, AFTER HE LEFT MR. PECKSNIFF's
HOUSE ; WHAT PERSONS HE ENCOUNTERED, WHAT


1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 21 23 24 25 26 27 28

Online LibraryCharles DickensDicken's works (Volume 27) → online text (page 21 of 28)