Charles Dickens.

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Carrying Tom Pinch's book quite unconsciously
under his arm, and not even buttoning his coat as
a protection against the heavy rain, Martin went
doggedly forward at the same quick pace, until he
had passed the finger-post, and was on the highroad
to London. He slackened very little in his speed
even then, but he began to think, and look about
him, and to disengage his senses from the coil
of angry passions which hitherto had held them

It must be confessed that, at that moment, he
had no very agreeable employment either for his
moral or his physical perceptions. The day was
dawning upon a patch of watery light in the east,
and sullen clouds came driving up before it, from
which the rain descended in a thick, wet mist. It
streamed from every twig and bramble in the hedge ;
made little gullies in the path ; ran down a hundred
channels in the road; and punched innumerable


holes into the face of every pond and gutter. It
fell with an oozy, slushy sound among the grass ;
and made a muddy kennel of every furrow in the
ploughed fields. No living creature was anywhere
to be seen. The prospect could hardly have been
more desolate if animated nature had been dissolved
in water, and poured down upon the earth again in
that form.

The range of view within the solitary traveller
was quite as cheerless as the scene without. Friend-
less and penniless ; incensed to the last degree ;
deeply wounded in his pride and self-love ; full of
independent schemes, and perfectly destitute of any
means of realizing them ; his most vindictive enemy
might have been satisfied with the extent of his
troubles. To add to his other miseries, he was by
this time sensible of being wet to the skin, and
cold at his very heart.

In this deplorable condition, he remembered Mr.
Pinch's book ; more because it was rather trouble-
some to carry, than from any hope of being com-
forted by that parting gift. He looked at the dingy
lettering on the back, and finding it to be an odd
volume of the ''Bachelor of Salamanca," in the
French tongue, cursed Tom Pinch's folly twenty
times. He was on the point of throwing it away,
in his ill-humor and vexation, when he bethought
himself that Tom had referred to a leaf, turned
down ; and opening it at that place, that he might
have additional cause of complaint against him for
supposing that any cold scrap of the Bachelor's wis-
dom could cheer him in such circumstances, found —

Well, well ! not much, but Tom's all. The half-
sovereign. He had wrapped it hastily in a piece of


paper, and pinned it to the leaf. These words were
scrawled in pencil on the inside : " I don't want it,
indeed. I should not know what to do with it if I
had it."

There are some falsehoods, Tom, on which men
mount, as on bright wings, towards heaven. There
are some truths, cold, bitter, taunting truths, where-
in your worldly scholars are very apt and punctual,
which bind men down to earth with leaden chains.
Who would not rather have to fan him, in his dying
hour, the lightest feather of a falsehood such as
thine, than all the quills that have been plucked
from the sharp porcupine, reproachful truth, since
time began ?

Martin felt keenly for himself, and he felt this
good deed of Tom's keenly. After a few minutes
it had the effect of raising his spirits, and remind-
ing him that he was not altogether destitute, as he
had left a fair stock of clothes behind him, and
wore a gold hunting-watch in his pocket. He found
a curious gratification, too, in thinking what a win-
ning fellow he must be to have made such an impres-
sion on Tom ; and in reflecting how superior he was
to Tom ; and how much more likely to make his
way in the world. Animated by these thoughts,
and strengthened in his design of endeavoring to
push his fortune in another country, he resolved to
get to London as a rallying-point, in the best way
he could ; and to lose no time about it.

He was ten good miles from the village made
illustrious by being the abiding-place of Mr. Peck-
sniff, when he stopped to breakfast at a little road-
side alehouse ; and resting upon a high-backed settle
before the fire, pulled off his coat, and hung it


before the cheerful blaze to dry. It was a very
different place from the last tavern in which he had
regaled : boasting no greater extent of accommoda-
tion than the brick-floored kitchen yielded : but the
mind so soon accommodates itself to the necessities
of the body, that this poor wagoners' house-of-call,
which he would have despised yesterday, became
now quite a choice hotel ; while his dish of eggs
and bacon, and his mug of beer, were not by any
means the coarse fare he had supposed, but fully
bore out the inscription on the window-shutter,
which proclaimed those viands to be "Good enter-
tainment for travellers."

He pushed away his empty plate : and with a
second mug upon the hearth before him, looked
thoughtfully at the fire till his eyes ached. Then
he looked at the highly colored Scripture pieces on
the walls, in little black frames like common shav-
ing-glasses, and saw how the Wise Men (with a
strong family likeness among them) worshipped in
a pink manger ; and how the Prodigal Son came
home in red rags to a purple father, and already
feasted his imagination on a sea-green calf. Then
he glanced through the window at the falling rain,
coming down aslant upon the sign-post over against
the house, and overflowing the horse-trough ; and
then he looked at the fire again, and seemed to
descry a doubly distant London, retreating among
the fragments of the burning wood.

He had repeated this process, in just the same
order, many times, as if it were a matter of neces-
sity, when the sound of wheels called his attention
to the window, out of its regular turn ; and there
he beheld a kind of light van drawn by four horses,


and laden, as well as he could see (for it was covered
in), with corn and straw. The driver, who was
alone, stopped at the door to water his team, and
presently came stamping and shaking the wet off
his hat and coat, into the room where Martin sat.

He was a red- faced burly young fellow ; smart in
his way, and with a good-humored countenance. As
he advanced towards the fire, he touched his shining
forehead with the forefinger of his stiff leather
glove, by way of salutation; and said (rather
unnecessarily) that it was an uncommon wet day.

" Very wet," said Martin.

" I don't know as ever I see a wetter."

" I never felt one," said Martin.

The driver glanced at Martin's soiled dress, and
his damp shirt-sleeves, and his coat hung up to dry ;
and said, after a pause, as he warmed his hands, —

" You have been caught in it, sir ? "

" Yes," was the short reply.

" Out riding, maybe ? " said the driver,

" I should have been, if I owned a horse ; but I
don't," returned Martin.

" That's bad," said the driver.

" And may be worse," said Martin.

Now, the driver said " That's bad," not so much
because Martin didn't own a horse, as because he
said he didn't with all the reckless desperation of
his mood and circumstances, and so left a great deal
to be inferred. Martin put his hands in his pockets
and whistled, when he had retorted on the driver ;
thus giving him to understand that he didn't care a
pin for Fortune ; that he was above pretending to
be her favorite when he was not ; and that he
snapped his fingers at her, the driver, and every-
body else.


The driver looked at him stealthily for a minute
or so ; and in the pauses of his warming, whistled
too. At length he asked, as he pointed his thumb
towards the road, —

" Up or down ? "

" Which is up ? " said Martin.

" London of course," said the driver.

" Up, then," said Martin. He tossed his head in
a careless manner afterwards, as if he would have
added, " Now you know all about it ; " put his hands
deeper into his pockets ; changed his tune, and
whistled a little louder.

" /'m going up," observed the driver ; " Hounslow,
ten miles this side London."

'' Are you ? " cried Martin, stopping short, and
looking at him.

The driver sprinkled the fire with his wet hat,
until it hissed again, and answered, " Ay ; to be sure
he was."

"Why, then," said Martin, "I'll be plain with
you. You may suppose from my dress that I have
money to spare. I have not. All I can afford for
coach-hire is a crown, for I have but two. If you
can take me for that, and my waistcoat, or this silk
handkerchief, do. If you can't, leave it alone."

"• Short and sweet," remarked the driver.

" You want more ? " said Martin. " Then I
haven't got more, and I can't get it, so there's an
end of that," Whereupon he began to whistle

" I didn't say I wanted more, did I ? " asked the
driver, with something like indignation.

" You didn't say my offer was enough/' rejoined


" Why, how could I, when you wouldn't let me ?
In regard to the waistcoat, I wouldn't have a man's
waistcoat, much less a gentleman's waistcoat, on my
mind, for no consideration ; but the silk handker-
chief's another thing ; and if you was satisfied when
we got to Hounslow, I shouldn't object to that as a

" Is it a bargain, then ? " said Martin.

" Yes, it is," returned the other.

" Then finish this beer," said Martin, handing
him the mug, and pulling on his coat with great
alacrity, "and let us be off as soon as you like."

In two minutes more he had paid his bill, which
amounted to a shilling ; was lying at full length on
a truss of straw, high and dry at the top of the van,
with the tilt a little open in front for the conven-
ience of talking to his new friend ; and was moving
along in the right direction with a most satisfactory
and encouraging briskness.

The driver's name, as he soon informed Martin,
was William Simmons, better known as Bill ; and
his spruce appearance was sufficiently explained by
his connection with a large stage-coaching establish-
ment at Hounslow, whither he was conveying his
load from a farm belonging to the concern in Wilt-
shire. He was frequently up and down the road on
such errands, he said, and to look after the sick and
rest horses, of which animals he had much to relate
that occupied a long time in the telling. He aspired
to the dignity of the regular box, and expected an
appointment on the first vacancy. He was musical
besides, and had a little key-bugle in his pocket, on
which, whenever the conversation flagged, he played
the first part of a great many tunes, and regularly
broke down in the second.


" Ah ! " said Bill, with a sigh, as he drew the back
of his hand across his lips, and put his instrument
in his pocket, after screwing off the moiithpiece to
drain it ; " Lummy Ned of the Light Salisbury, he
was the one for musical talents. He was a guard.
What you may call a Guard'an Angel, was Ned."

" Is he dead ? " asked Martin.

" Dead ! " replied the other, with contemptuous
emphasis. " Not he. You won't catch Ned a-dying
easy. No, no. He knows better than that."

" You spoke of him in the past tense," observed
Martin, " so I supposed he was no more."

" He's no more in England," said Bill, " if that's
what you mean. He went to the U-nited States."

" Did he ? " asked Martin with sudden interest.
'' When ? "

"Five year ago or thenabout," said Bill. "He
had set up in the public line here, and couldn't
meet his engagements, so he cut off to Liverpool
one day without saying anything about it, and went
and shipped himself for the U-nited States."

" Well ? " said Martin.

" Well ! as he landed there without a penny to
bless himself with, of course they wos very glad to
see him in the U-nited States."

" What do you mean ? " asked Martin, with some

"What do I mean?" said Bill. "Why, that.
All men are alike in the U-nited States, ain't they ?
It makes no odds whether a man has a thousand
pound, or nothing, there — particular in New York,
I'm told, where Ned landed."

" New York, was it ? " asked Martin thought-


"Yes," said Bill. "New York. I know that,
because he sent word home that it brought Old
York to his mind, quite wivid, in consequence of
being so exactly unlike it in every respect. I don't
understand wot particular business Ned turned his
mind to when he got there ; but he wrote home that
him and his friends was always a-singing Ale Co-
lumbia, and blowing up the President, so I suppose
it was something in the public line, or free and easy
way, again. Anyhow, he made his fortune."

"No!" cried Martin.

" Yes, he did," said Bill. " I know that, because
he lost it all the day after, in six and twenty banks
as broke. He settled a lot of the notes on his
father, when it was ascertained that they was really
stopped, and sent 'em over with a dutiful letter. I
know that, because they was shown down our yard
for the old gentleman's benefit, that he might treat
himself with tobacco in the workus."

"He was a foolish fellow not to take care of his
money when he had it," said Martin indignantly.

" There you're right," said Bill, " especially as it
was all in paper, and he might have took care of it
so very easy, by folding it up in a small parcel."

Martin said nothing in reply, but soon afterwards
fell asleep, and remained so for an hour or more.
When he awoke, finding it had ceased to rain, he
took his seat beside the driver, and asked him sev-
eral questions, — as how long had the fortunate
guard of the Light Salisbury been in crossing the
Atlantic ; at what time of the year had he sailed ;
what was the name of the ship in which he made
the voyage ; how much had he paid for passage-
money ; did he suffer greatly from seasickness ?


and so forth. But on these points of detail his
friend was possessed of little or no information;
either answering obviously at random, or acknowl-
edging that he had never heard, or had forgotten ;
nor, although he returned to the charge very often,
could he obtain any useful intelligence on these
essential particulars.

They jogged on all day, and stopped so often —
now to refresh, now to change their team of horses,
now to exchange or bring away a set of harness,
now on one point of business, and now upon another,
connected with the coaching on that line of road —
that it was midnight when they reached Hounslow.
A little short of the stables for which the van was
bound, Martin got down, paid his crown, and forced
his silk handkerchief upon his honest friend, not-
withstanding the many protestations that he didn't
wish to deprive him of it, with which he tried to
give the lie to his longing looks. That done, they
parted company ; and when the van had driven into
its own yard and the gates were closed, Martin
stood in the dark street, with a pretty strong sense
of being shut out, alone, upon the dreary world,
without the key of it.

But in this moment of despondency, and often
afterwards, the recollection of Mr. Pecksniff oper-
ated as a cordial to him ; awakening in his breast
an indignation that was very wholesome in nerving
him to obstinate endurance. Under the influence
of this fiery dram, he started off for London without
more ado. Arriving there in the middle of the
night, and not knowing where to find a tavern
open, he was fain to stroll about the streets and
market-places until morning.


He found himself, about an hour before dawn, in
the humbler regions of the Adelphi ; and addressing
himself to a man in a fur cap who was taking down
the shutters of an obscure public-house, informed
him that he was a stranger, and inquired if he
could have a bed there. It happened, by good-luck,
that he could. Though none of the gaudiest, it was
tolerably clean, and Martin felt very glad and grate-
ful when he crept into it, for warmth, rest, and

It was quite late in the afternoon when he awoke ;
and by the time he had washed and dressed, and
broken his fast, it was growing dusk again. This
was all the better, for it was now a matter of abso-
lute necessity that he should part with his watch
to some obliging pawnbroker. He would have
waited until after dark for this purpose, though it
had been the longest day in the year, and he had
begun it without a breakfast.

He passed more Golden Balls than all the jugglers
in Europe have juggled with, in the course of their
united performances, before he could determine in
favor of any particular shop where those symbols
were displayed. In the end, he came back to one
of the first he had seen, and entering by a side-door
in a court, where the three balls, with the legend
''Money Lent," were repeated in a ghastly trans-
parency, passed into one of a series of little closets,
or private boxes, erected for the accommodation of
the more bashful and uninitiated customers. He
bolted himself in ; pulled out his watch ; and laid
it on the counter.

" Upon my life and soul ! " said a low voice in the
next box to the shopman who was in treaty with


him, " you must make it more ; you must make it a
triile more, you must indeed ! You must dispense
with one half-qiiarter of an ounce in weighing out
your pound of flesh, my best of friends, and make
it two and six."

Martin drew back involuntarily, for he knew the
voice at once.

" You're always full of your chaff," said the shop-
man, rolling up the article (which looked like a
shirt), quite as a matter of course, and nibbing his
pen upon the counter.

'•' I shall never be full of my wheat," said Mr.
Tigg, "as long as I come here. Ha, ha! Not bad!
Make it two and six, my dear friend, positively for
this occasion only. Half a crown is a delightful
coin. Two and six ! Going at two and six ! For
the last time, at two and six ! "

"It'll never be the last time till it's quite worn
out," rejoined the shopman. "It's grown yellow in
the service as it is."

" It's master has grown yellow in the service, if
you mean that, my friend," said Mr. Tigg; "in the
patriotic service of an ungrateful country. You are
making it two and six, I think ? "

" I'm making it," returned the shopman, " what
it always has been — two shillings. Same name as
usual, I suppose ? "

" Still the same name," said Mr. Tigg ; " my claim
to the dormant peerage not being yet established by
the House of Lords."

" The old address ? "

" Not at all," said Mr. Tigg ; " I have removed my
town establishment from thirty-eight, Mayfair, to
number fifteen hundred and forty -two. Park Lane."


"Come, I'm not going to put down that, you
know," said the shopman, with a grin.

" You may put down what you please, my friend,"
quoth Mr. Tigg. '' The fact is still the same. The
apartments for the under-butler and the fifth foot-
man being of a most confounded low and vulgar
kind at thirty -eight, Mayfair, I have been compelled,
in my regard for the feelings which do them so
much honor, to take on lease, for seven, fourteen, or
twenty-one years, renewable at the option of the
tenant, the elegant and commodious family man-
sion, number fifteen hundred and forty-two. Park
Lane. Make it two and six, and come and see me ! "

The shopman was so highly entertained by this
piece of humor, that Mr. Tigg himself could not
repress some little show of exultation. It vented
itself, in part, in a desire to see how the occupant of
the next box received his pleasantry ; to ascertain
which, he glanced round the partition, and immedi-
ately, by the gaslight, recognized Martin.

" I wish I may die," said Mr. Tigg, stretching out
his body so far that his head was as much in Mar-
tin's little cell as Martin's own head was, " but this
is one of the most tremendous meetings in Ancient
or Modern History ! How are you ? What is the
news from the agricultural districts ? How are our
friends the P.'s ? Ha, ha ! David, pay particular
attention to this gentleman, immediately, as a friend
of mine, I beg."

" Here ! Please to give me the most you can for
this," said Martin, handing the watch to the shop-
man. " I want money sorely."

" He wants money sorely ! " cried Mr. Tigg with
excessive sympathy. "David, you will have the


goodness to do your very utmost for my friend, who
wants money sorely. You will deal with my friend
as if he were myself. A gold hunting-watch, David,
engine-turned, capped and jewelled in four holes,
escape movement, horizontal lever, and warranted to
perform correctly, upon my personal reputation, who
have observed it narrowly for many years, under the
most trying circumstances." Here he winked at
Martin, that he might understand this recommenda-
tion would have an immense effect upon the shop-
man. " What do you say, David, to my friend ?
Be very particular to deserve my custom and recom-
mendation, David."

" I can lend you three pounds on this, if you
like," said the shopman to Martin confidentially.
" It's very old-fashioned. I couldn't say more."

"And devilish handsome too," cried Mr. Tigg.
" Two twelve six for the watch, and seven and six
for personal regard. I am gratified: it may be
weakness, but I am. Three pounds will do. We
take it. The name of my friend is Smivey:
Chicken Smivey, of Holborn, twenty-six and a half
B : lodger." Here he winked at Martin again, to
apprise him that all the forms and ceremonies pre-
scribed by law were now complied with, and nothing
remained but the receipt of the money.

In point of fact, this proved to be the case, for
Martin, who had no resource but to take what was
offered him, signified his acquiescence by a nod of
his head, and presently came out with the cash in
his pocket. He was joined in the entry by Mr.
Tigg, who warmly congratulated him, as he took his
arm and accompanied him into the street, on the
successful issue of the negotiation.


" As for my part in the same," said Mr. Tigg,
"don't mention it. Don't compliment me, for I
can't bear it ! "

" I have no such intention, I assure you," retorted
Martin, releasing his arm, and stopping.

" You oblige me very much," said Mr. Tigg.
''Thank you."

" Now, sir," observed Martin, biting his lip, " this
is a large town, and we can easily find different
ways in it. If you will show me which is your
way, I will take another."

Mr. Tigg was about to speak, but Martin inter-
posed, —

" I need scarcely tell you, after what you have
just seen, that I have nothing to bestow upon your
friend, Mr. Slyme. And it is quite as unnecessary
for me to tell you that I don't desire the honor of
your company."

" Stop ! " cried Mr. Tigg, holding out his hand.
" Hold ! There is a most remarkably long-headed,
flowing-bearded, and patriarchal proverb, which ob-
serves that it is the duty of a man to be just before
he is generous. Be just now, and you can be gen-
erous presently. Do not confuse me with the man
Slyme. Do not distinguish the man Slyme as a
friend of mine, for he is no such thing. I have
been compelled, sir, to abandon the party whom you
call Slyme. I have no knowledge of the party
whom you call Slyme. I am, sir," said Mr. Tigg,
striking himself upon the breast, " a premium tulip,
of a very different growth and cultivation from the
cabbage Slyme, sir."

" It matters very little to me," said Martin coolly,
" whether you have set up as a vagabond on your

VOL. I.-22.


own account, or are still trading on behalf of Mr.
Slyme. I wish to hold no correspondence with you.
In the devil's name, man," said Martin, scarcely
able despite his vexation to repress a smile, as Mr.
Tigg stood leaning his back against the shutters of
a shop windoAV adjusting his hair with great com-
posure, " will you go one way or other ? "

" You will allow me to remind you, sir," said Mr.
Tigg, with sudden dignity, " that you — not I — that
you — I say emphatically, you — have reduced the
proceedings of this evening to a cold and distant
matter of business, when I was disposed to place
them on a friendly footing. It being made a mat-
ter of business, sir, I beg to say that I expect a trifle
(which I shall bestow in Charity) as commission
upon the pecuniary advance, in which I have ren-
dered you my humble services. After the terms in
which you have addressed me, sir," concluded Mr.
Tigg, "you will not insult me, if you please, by
offering more than half a crown."

Martin drew that piece of money from his pocket,

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Online LibraryCharles DickensDicken's works (Volume 27) → online text (page 22 of 28)