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''Ay, ay," returned her father, raising his hand
mildly : " it is very well to say what can we expect
from Mr. Pinch ? but Mr. Pinch is a fellow-creature,
my dear ; Mr. Pinch is an item in the vast total of
humanity, my love ; and we have a right, it is our
duty, to expect in Mr. Pinch some development of
those better qualities, the possession of which in
our own persons inspires our humble self-respect.
No," continued Mr. Pecksniff. " No ! Heaven for-
bid that I should say, nothing can be expected from
Mr. Pinch; or that I should say, nothing can be
expected from any man alive (even the most de-
graded, which Mr. Pinch is not, no, really) ; but Mr.
Pinch has disappointed me : he has hurt me : I


think a little the worse of him on this account, but
not of human nature. Oh, no, no ! "

" Hark ! " said Miss Charity, holding up her
finger, as a gentle rap was heard at the street-door.
" There is the creature ! Now, mark my words, he
has come back with John Westlock for his box, and
is going to help him to take it to the mail. Only
mark my words, if that isn't his intention ! "

Even as she spoke, the box appeared to be in
progress of conveyance from the house, but after a
brief murmuring of question and answer, it was put
down again, and somebody knocked at the parlor

" Come in ! " cried Mr. Pecksniff — not severely ;
only virtuously. " Come in ! "

An ungainly, awkward-looking man, extremely
short-sighted, and prematurely bald, availed himself
of this permission; and seeing that Mr. Pecksniff
sat with his back towards him, gazing at the fire,
stood hesitating, with the door in his hand. He
was far from handsome certainly ; and was dressed
in a snulf-colored suit, of an uncouth make at the
best, which, being shrunken with long wear, was
twisted and tortured into all kinds of odd shapes ;
but notwithstanding his attire, and his clumsy
figure, which a great stoop in his shoulders, and a
ludicrous habit he had of thrusting his head for-
ward, by no means redeemed, one would not have
been disposed (unless Mr. Pecksniff said so) to con-
sider him a bad fellow by any means. He was
perhaps about thirty, but he might have been
almost any age between sixteen and sixty; being
one of those strange creatures who never decline
into an ancient appearance, but look their oldest


when they are very young, and get it over at

Keeping his hand upon the lock of the door, he
glanced from Mr. Pecksniff to Mercy, from Mercy
to Charity, and from Charity to Mr. Pecksniff again,
several times ; but the young ladies being as intent
upon the fire as their father was, and neither of the
three taking any notice of him, he was fain to say,
at last, —

" Oh ! I beg your pardon, Mr. Pecksniff : I beg
your pardon for intruding : but — "

"No intrusion, Mr. Pinch," said that gentleman
very sweetly, but without looking round. "Pray,
be seated, Mr. Pinch. Have the goodness to shut
the door, Mr. Pinch, if you please."

" Certainly, sir," said Pinch : not doing so, how-
ever, but holding it rather wider open than before,
and beckoning nervously to somebody without r
"Mr. Westlock, sir, hearing that you were come
home — "

" Mr. Pinch, Mr. Pinch ! " said Pecksniff, wheel-
ing his chair about, and looking at him with an
aspect of the deepest melancholy, " I did not expect
this from you. I have not deserved this from you ! "

" No, but upon my word, sir — " urged Pinch.

"The less you say, Mr. Pinch," interposed the
other, "the better. I utter no complaint. Make
no defence."

" No, but do have the goodness, sir," cried Pinch,
with great earnestness, " if you please. Mr. West-
lock, sir, going away for good and all, wishes to
leave none but friends behind him. Mr. Westlock
and you, sir, had a little difference the other day j
you have had many little differences."


" Little differences ! " cried Charity.

" Little differences ! " echoed Mercy.

" My loves ! " said Mr. Pecksniff, with the same
serene upraising of his hand ; " my dears ! " After
a solemn pause he meekly bowed to Mr. Pinch, as
who should say, " Proceed ; " but Mr. Pinch was so
very much at a loss how to resume, and looked so
helplessly at the two Miss Pecksniffs, that the con-
versation would most probably have terminated
there, if a good-looking youth, newly arrived at
man's estate, had not stepped forward from the
doorway and taken up the thread of the discourse.

"Come, Mr. Pecksniff," he said, with a smile,
" don't let there be any ill-blood between us, pray.
I am sorry we have ever differed, and extremely
sorry I have ever given you offence. Bear me no
ill-will at parting, sir."

" I bear," answered Mr. Pecksniff mildly, " no ill-
will to any man on earth."

" I told you he didn't," said Pinch in an under-
tone; "I knew he didn't. He always says he

" Then you will shake hands, sir ? " cried West-
lock, advancing a step or two, and bespeaking Mr.
Pinch's close attention by a glance.

" Umph ! " said Mr. Pecksniff, in his most winning

" You will shake hands, sir."

"No, John," said Mr. Pecksniff, with a calmness
quite ethereal ; " no, I will not shake hands, John.
I have forgiven you. I had already forgiven you,
even before you ceased to reproach and taunt me.
I have embraced you in the spirit, John, which is
better than shaking hands."


"Pinch," said the youth, turning towards him,
with a hearty disgust of his late master, " what did
I tell you ? "

Poor Pinch looked down uneasily at Mr. Peck-
sniff, whose eye was fixed upon him as it had been
from the first ; and looking up at the ceiling again,
made no reply.

" As to your forgiveness, Mr. Pecksniff," said the
youth, " I'll not have it upon such terms. I won't
be forgiven."

" Won't you, John ? " retorted Mr. Pecksniff, with
a smile. " You must. You can't help it. Forgive-
ness is a high quality ; an exalted virtue ; far above
your control or influence, John. I will forgive you.
You cannot move me to remember any wrong you
have ever done me, John."

" Wrong ! " cried the other, with all the heat and
impetuosity of his age. " Here's a pretty fellow !
Wrong ! Wrong I have done him ! He'll not even
remember the five hundred pounds he had with me
under false pretences ; or the seventy pounds a year
for board and lodging that would have been dear at
seventeen ! Here's a martyr ! "

" Money, John," said Mr. Pecksniff, " is the root
of all evil. I grieve to see that it is already bear-
ing evil fruit in you. But I will not remember its
existence. I will not even remember the conduct
of that misguided person " — and here, although he
spoke like one at peace with all the world, he used
an emphasis that plainly said, "I have my eye
upon the rascal now" — "that misguided person
who has brought you here to-night, seeking to dis-
turb (it is happiness to say, in vain) the heart's
repose and peace of one who would have shed his
dearest blood to serve him."


The voice of Mr. Pecksniff trembled as he spoke,
and sobs were heard from his daughters. Sounds
floated on the air, moreover, as if two spirit
voices had exclaimed: one, "Beast!" the other,
" Savage ! "

"Forgiveness," said Mr. Pecksniff, "entire and
pure forgiveness is not incompatible with a wounded
heart; perchance when the heart is wounded, it
becomes a greater virtue. With my breast still
wrung and grieved to its inmost core by the ingrati-
tude of that person, I am proud and glad to say,
that I forgive him. Nay ! I beg," cried Mr. Peck-
sniff, raising his voice, as Pinch appeared about to
speak, " I beg that individual not to offer a remark :
he will truly oblige me by not uttering one word :
just now. I am not sure that I am equal to the
trial. In a very short space of time, I shall have
sufficient fortitude, I trust, to converse with him as
if these events had never happened. But not," said
Mr. Pecksniff, turning round again towards the
fire, and waving his hand in the direction of the
door, " not now."

" Bah ! " cried John Westlock, with the utmost
disgust and disdain the monosyllable is capable of
expressing. " Ladies, good-evening. Come, Pinch,
it's not worth thinking of. I was right and you
were wrong. That's a small matter; you'll be
wiser another time."

So saying, he clapped that dejected companion on
the shoulder, turned upon his heel, and walked out
into the passage, whither poor Mr. Pinch, after
lingering irresolutely in the parlor for a few
seconds, expressing in his countenance the deepest
mental misery and gloom, followed him. Then


they took up the box between them, and sallied out
to meet the mail.

That fleet conveyance passed, every night, the
corner of a lane at some distance ; towards which
point they bent their steps. For some minutes
they walked along in silence, until at length young
Westlock burst into a loud laugh, and at intervals
into another, and another. Still there was no
response from his companion.

•' I'll tell you what, Pinch ! " he said abruptly,
after another lengthened silence. "You haven't
half enough of the devil in you. Half enough!
You haven't any."

" Well ! " said Pinch with a sigh, " I don't know,
I'm sure. It's a compliment to say so. If I
haven't, I suppose I'm all the better for it."

" All the better ! " repeated his companion tartly.
" All the worse, you mean to say."

" And yet," said Pinch, pursuing his own thoughts
and not this last remark on the part of his friend,
" 1 must have a good deal of what you call the devil
in me, too, or how could I make Pecksniff so un-
comfortable ? I wouldn't have occasioned him so
much distress — don't laugh, please — for a mine of
money : and Heaven knows I could find good use
for it too, John. How grieved he was ! "

" He grieved ! " returned the other.

" Why didn't you observe that the tears were
almost starting out of his eyes?" cried Pinch.
"Bless my soul, John, is it nothing to see a man
moved to that extent, and know one's self to be the
cause ? And did you hear him say that he could
have shed his blood for me ? "

" Do you want any blood shed for you ? " returned


his friend, with considerable irritation. "Does he
shed anything for you that you do want ? Does
he shed employment for you, instruction for you,
pocket-money for you ? Does he shed even legs of
mutton for you in any decent proportion to potatoes
and garden-stuif ? "

" I am afraid," said Pinch, sighing again, " that
I'm a great eater : I can't disguise from myself that
I'm a great eater. Now you know that, John."

'' You a great eater!" retorted his companion,
with no less indignation than before. " How do you
know you are ? "

There appeared to be forcible matter in this in-
quiry, for Mr. Pinch only repeated in an undertone
that he had a strong misgiving on the subject, and
that he greatly feared he was.

" Besides, whether I am or no," he added, " that
has little or nothing to do with his thinking me
ungrateful. John, there is scarcely a sin in the
world that is in my eyes such a crying one as
ingratitude ; and when he taxes me with that, and
believes me to be guilty of it, he makes me miser-
able and wretched."

"Do you think he don't know that?" returned
the other scornfully. " But come. Pinch, before I
say anything more to you, just run over the reasons
you have for being grateful to him at all, will you ?
Change hands first, for the box is heavy. That'll
do. Now, go on."

" In the first place," said Pinch, " he took me as
his pupil for much less than he asked."

" Well," rejoined his friend, perfectly unmoved
by this instance of generosity. " What in the
second place ? "

VOL. I.-3.


" What in the second place ? " cried Pinch, in a
sort of desperation ; " why, everything in the second
place. My poor old grandmother died happy to
think that she had put me with such an excellent
man. I have grown up in his house, I am in his
confidence, I am his assistant, he allows me a salary :
when his business improves, my prospects are to
improve too. All this, and a great deal more, is in
the second place. And in the very prologue and
preface to the first place, John, you must consider
this, which nobody knows better than I : that I was
born for much plainer and poorer things, that I am
not a good hand at his kind of business, and have
no talent for it, or indeed for anything else but
odds and ends that are of no use or service to any-

He said this with so much earnestness, and in a
tone so full of feeling, that his companion instinc-
tively changed his manner as he sat down on the
box (they had by this time reached the finger-post
at the end of the lane) ; motioned him to sit down
beside him ; and laid his hand upon his shoulder.

" I believe you are one of the best fellows in the
world," he said, " Tom Pinch."

"Not at all," rejoined Tom. "If you only knew
Pecksniff as well as I do, you might say it of him,
indeed, and say it truly."

" I'll say anything of him you like," returned the
other, " and not another word to his disparagement."

" It's for my sake, then ; not his, I am afraid,"
' said Pinch, shaking his head gravely.

"For whose you please, Tom, so that it does
please you. Oh ! He's a famous fellow ! He never
scraped and clawed into his pouch all your poor


grandmother's hard savings — she was a house-
keeper, wasn't she, Tom ? "

" Yes," said Mr. Pinch, nursing one of his large
knees, and nodding his head : " a gentleman's

"^e never scraped and clawed into his pouch all
her hard savings ; dazzling her with prospects of your
happiness and advancement, which he knew (and
no man better) never would be realized ! He never
speculated and traded on her pride in you, and her
having educated you, and on her desire that you at
least should live to be a gentleman. Not he, Tom ! "

" No," said Tom, looking into his friend's face, as
if he were a little doubtful of his meaning ; " of
course not."

" So I say," returned the youth, " of course he
never did. He didn't take less than he had asked,
because that less was all she had, and more than he
expected : not he, Tom ! He doesn't keep you as
his assistant because you are of any use to him;
because your wonderful faith in his pretensions is
of inestimable service in all his mean disputes;
because your honesty reflects honesty on him;
because your wandering about this little place all
your spare hours, reading in ancient books and
foreign tongues, gets noised abroad, even as far as
Salisbury, making of him, Pecksniff the master, a
man of learning and of vast importance. He gets
no credit from you, Tom, not he."

"Why, of course he don't," said Pinch, gazing at
his friend with a more troubled aspect than before.
" Pecksniff get credit from me ! Well ! "

"Don't I say that it's ridiculous," rejoined the
other, " even to think of such a thing ? "


"Why, it's madness," said Tom.

" Madness ! " returned young Westlock. " Cer-
tainly, it's madness. Who but a madman would
suppose he cares to hear it said on Sundays, that
the volunteer who plays the organ in the church, and
practises on summer evenings in the dark, is Mr.
Pecksniff's young man, eh, Tom ? Who but a mad-
man would suppose it is the game of such a man as
he, to have his name in everybody's mouth, con-
nected with the thousand useless odds and ends you
do (and which, of course, he taught you), eh, Tom ?
Who but a madman would suppose you advertise
him hereabouts, much cheaper and much better
than a chalker on the walls could, eh, Tom ? As
well might one suppose that he doesn't on all occa-
sions pour out his whole heart and soul to you ; that
he doesn't make you a very liberal, and indeed rather
an extravagant allowance ; or, to be more wild and
monstrous still, if that be possible, as well might one
suppose," and here, at every word, he struck him
lightly on the breast, " that Pecksniff traded in your
nature, and that your nature was, to be timid and dis-
trustful of yourself, and trustful of all other men,
but most of all, of him who least deserves it. There
would be madness, Tom ! "

Mr. Pinch had listened to all this with looks of
bewilderment, which seemed to be in part occasioned
by the matter of his companion's speech, and in
part by his rapid and vehement manner. Now that
he had come to a close, he drew a very long breath ;
and gazing wistfully in his face as if he were unable
to settle in his own mind what expression it wore,
and were desirous to draw from it as good a clew to
his real meaning as it was possible to obtain in the


dark, was about to answer, when the sound of the
mail guard's horn came cheerily upon their ears,
putting an immediate end to the conference : greatly,
as it seemed, to the satisfaction of the younger man,
who jumped up briskly, and gave his hand to his

"Both hands, Tom. I shall write to you from
London, mind ! "

" Yes," said Pinch. " Yes. Do, please. Good-
by. Good-by. I can hardly believe you're going.
It seems, now, but yesterday that you came. Good-
by ! my dear old fellow ! "

John Westlock returned his parting words with
no less heartiness of manner, and sprung up to his
seat upon the roof. Off went the mail at a canter
down the dark road : the lamps gleaming brightly,
and the horn awakening all the echoes far and

" Go your ways," said Pinch, apostrophizing the
coach : " I can hardly persuade myself but you're
alive, and are some great monster who visits this
place at certain intervals, to bear my friends away
into the world. You're more exulting and rampant
than usual to-night, I think : and you may well
crow over your prize ; for he is a fine lad, an ingen-
uous lad, and has but one fault that I know of : he
don't mean it, but he is most cruelly unjust to
Pecksniff ! "



Mention has been already made more than once
of a certain Dragon who swung and creaked com-
plainingly before the village alehouse door. A
faded, and an ancient dragon he was ; and many
a wintry storm of rain, snow, sleet, and hail, had
changed his color from a gaudy blue to a faint
lack-lustre shade of gray. But there he hung;
rearing, in a state of monstrous imbecility, on his
hind-legs; waxing, with every month that passed,
so much more dim and shapeless, that as you gazed
at him on one side of the signboard it seemed as if
he must be gradually melting through it, and coming
out upon the other.

He was a courteous and considerate dragon too ;
or had been in his distincter days ; for in the midst
of his rampant feebleness, he kept one of his fore-
paws near his nose, as though he would say, " Don't
mind me — it's only my fun ; " while he held out
the other, in polite and hospitable entreaty. Indeed
it must be conceded to the whole brood of dragons
of modern times, that they have made a great ad-


vance in civilization and refinement. - They no
longer demand a beautiful virgin for breakfast
every morning, with as much regularity as any tame
single gentleman expects his hot roll, but rest con-
tent with the society of idle bachelors and roving
married men : and they are now remarkable rather
for holding aloof from the softer sex and discour-
aging their visits (especially on Saturday nights),
than for rudely insisting on their company without
any reference to their inclinations, as they are
known to have done in days of yore.

Nor is this tribute to the reclaimed animals in
question so wide a digression into the realms of
Natural History as it may, at first sight, appear
to be : for the present business of these pages is
with the dragon who had his retreat in Mr. Peck-
sniff's neighborhood, and that courteous animal being
already on the carpet, there is nothing in the way
of its immediate transaction.

For many years, then, he had swung and creaked,
and flapped himself about, before the two windows
of the best bedroom in that house of entertainment
to which he lent his name : but never in all his
swinging, creaking, and flapping, had there been
such a stir within its dingy precincts, as on the
evening next after that upon which the incidents
detailed in the last chapter occurred ; when there
was such a hurrying up and down stairs of feet, such
a glancing of lights, such a whispering of voices,
such a smoking and sputtering of wood newly
lighted in a damp chimney, such an airing of linen,
such a scorching smell of hot warming-pans, such
a domestic bustle and to-do, in short, as never
dragon, griffin, unicorn, or other animal of that


species presided over, since they first began to
interest themselves in household affairs.

An old gentleman and a young lady travelling,
unattended, in a rusty old chariot with post-horses ;
coming nobody knew whence, and going nobody
knew whither; had turned out of the highroad, and
driven unexpectedly to the Blue Dragon : and here
was the old gentleman, who had taken this step by
reason of his sudden illness in the carriage, suffer-
ing the most horrible cramps and spasms, yet pro-
testing and vowing, in the very midst of his pain,
that he wouldn't have a doctor sent for, and
wouldn't take any remedies but those which the
young lady administered from a small medicine-
chest, and wouldn't, in a word, do anything but
terrify the landlady out of her five wits, and obsti-
nately refuse compliance with every suggestion that
was made to him.

Of all the five hundred proposals for his relief
which the good woman poured out in less than half
an hour, he would entertain but one. That was,
that he should go to bed. And it was in the prepa-
ration of his bed, and the arrangement of his cham-
ber, that all the stir was made in the room behind
the Dragon.

He was, beyond all question, very ill, and suffered
exceedingly : not the less, perhaps, because he was
a strong and vigorous old man, with a will of iron,
and a voice of brass. But neither the apprehen-
sions which he plainly entertained, at times, for his
life, nor the great pain he underwent, influenced his
resolution in the least degree. He would have no
person sent for. The worse he grew, the more
rigid and inflexible he became in his determina-


tion. If they sent for any person to attend him,
man, woman, or child, he would leave the house
directly (so he told them), though he quitted it on
foot, and died upon the threshold of the door,

Now, there being no medical practitioner actually
resident in the village but a poor apothecary who
was also a grocer and general dealer, the landlady
had, upon her own responsibility, sent for him, in
the very first burst and outset of the disaster. Of
course it followed, as a necessary result of his being
wanted, that he was not at home. He had gone
some miles away, and was not expected home until
late at night ; so, the landlady being by this time
pretty well beside herself, despatched the same
messenger in all haste for Mr. Pecksniff, as a
learned man who could bear a deal of responsi-
bility, and a moral man who could administer a
world of comfort to a troubled mind. That her
guest had need of some efficient services under the
latter head was obvious enough from the restless
expressions, importing, however, rather a worldly
than a spiritual anxiety, to which he gave frequent

From this last-mentioned secret errand, the mes-
senger returned with no better news than from the
first ; Mr. Pecksniff was not at home. However,
they got the patient into bed without him ; and, in
the course of two hours, he gradually became so far
better that there were much longer intervals than
at first between his terms of suffering. By degrees,
he ceased to suffer at all : though his exhaustion
was occasionally so great, that it suggested hardly
less alarm than his actual endurance had done.

It was in one of his intervals of repose, when.


looking round with great caution, and reaching un-
easily out of his nest of pillows, he endeavored,
with a strange air of secrecy and distrust, to make
use of the writing materials which he had ordered
to be placed on a table beside him, that the young
lady and the mistress of the Blue Dragon found
themselves sitting side by side before the fire in the

The mistress of the Blue Dragon was in outward

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