Charles Dickens.

Life and adventures of Martin Chuzzlewit online

. (page 23 of 80)
Online LibraryCharles DickensLife and adventures of Martin Chuzzlewit → online text (page 23 of 80)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


Mr. Pecksniff made a feint of being deeply interested 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. Pecksniff, rising, " to this
house, on perverted statements, and on false pretences."

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

"Thus much more, Sir," cried Mr. Pecksniff, trembling 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



]\IARTIN CHUZZLEWIT. 203

one, who has ilcceivcd, and cruelly deceived, an hononrabh^, beloved,
venerated, and venerable gentleman ; and who wisely suppressed
that deceit from me when he sought my protection and favour,
knowing that, humble as I am, I am an honest man, seeking to do
my duty in tliis carnal universe, and setting my face against all
vice and treacliery. I weep for your depravity, Sir," said Mr.
Pecksniff, " I mourn over your corruption, I pity your voluntary
withdrawal of j'ourself 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 fortli," said
Mr. Pecksniff, stretching out his hand: "go forth, young man!
Like all who know you, I renounce you ! "

With what intention Martin made a stride forward 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 hini a more
abject creature than he is 1 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. Piuch involuntarily did so. Mr. Pecksniff' sitting, as has
been already inentioned, on the carpet, with his head in an acute
angle of the wainscot, and all the damage and detriment of an
uncomfortable journey about him, was not exactly a model of all
that is prepossessing and dignified in man, certainly. Still he teas
Pecksniff"; it was impossible to deprive him of that unique and
paramount ajipeal to Tom. And he returned Tom's glance, as if
lie would have said, "Ay, Mr. Pinch, look at me! Here I am !
\''iu know^ what the Poet says about an honest man; and an
Imuest man is one of the few great works that can be seen for
nothing ! Look at me ! "

"I tell you," said Martin, "that as lie 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
lonie — he knows it : see it written on his face, the while I speak !

when even you will find him out, and will know him as I do,
.md as he knows I do. Jle renounce me ! Cast your eyes on the
Kenouncer, Pinch, and be the wiser for the recollection ! "

He pointed at him as he spoke, with unutterable contempt, and




MK. i'ECiiSXlFF KENUUXCES TUE KECElVEll,



LIFE AND ADVENTURES OF MARTIN CHUZZLEWIT. 205

inging his hat upon his head, walked from the room and from the
.ouse. He went so rapidly that he was already clear of the
illage, when he heard Tom Pinch calling breathlessly after him in
he distance.

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

" Dear, dear ! " cried Tom, " are you going 1 "

" Going ! " he echoed. " Going I ''

" I didn't so much mean that, as were you going now at once —
Q this bad weather — on foot — without your clothes — with no
noney 1 " cried Tom.

"Yes," he answered sternly, " T am."'

" And where 1 '" cried Tom. " Oh where will you go 1 "

"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.
ray don't ! Think better of it. Don't be so dreadfully regardless
)f yourself. _ Don't go to America ! "

"""^y mind is made up," he said. "Your friend was right.
['11 go to America. God bless you. Pinch ! "

■' Take this ! " cried Tom, pressing a book upon him in great
vgitation. "I must make haste back, and can't say anything I
ivould. Heaven be with you. Look at the leaf I have turned
iown. Good bye, good bye ! "

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



CHAPTER XIII.

■SHOWING WHAT BECAME OF MAETIX AND HIS DESPERATE RESOLVE
AFTER HE LEFT MR. PECKSNIFF'S HOUSE ; WHAT PERSONS HE
ENCOUNTERED ; WHAT ANXIETIES HE SUFFERED ; AND WHAT
NEWS HE HEARD.

Carrying Tom Pinch's book quite unconsciously under his arm,
and not even buttoning his coat as a protection against the heavj'
rain, Martin went doggedly forward at the same quick pace, until
he had passed the finger-post, and was on the high road 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 (jf angry passions which hitherto had held them prisoner.

It must be confessed that at that moment he had no very
agreeable employment either for his moral or his pliysical percep-
tions. The day was dawning from a patch of watery light in the



206 LIFE AND ADVENTURES OF

east, and sullen clouds came driving up before it, from which th(
rain descended in a thick, wet mist. It streamed from every twij
and bramble in the hedge; made little gullies in the path ; rai
down a hundred channels in the road; and punched innumerabh
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 any when
to be seen. The prospect could hardly have been more desolate i
animated nature had been dissolved in water, and poured dowi
upon the earth again in that form.

The range of view within the solitary traveller was quite af
cheerless as the scene without. Friendless and penniless ; incenset
to the last degree ; deeply wounded in his pride and self-love ; ful
of independent schemes, and perfectly destitute of any means o;
realizing them ; his most vindictive enemy might have been satisfiec
with the extent of his troubles. To add to his other miseries, h(
was by this time sensible of being wet to the skin, and cold at hi.'
very heart.

In this deplorable condition, he remembered Mr. Pinch's book
more because it was rather troublesome to carry, than from anj
hope of being comforted by that parting gift. He looked at tlu
dingy lettering on the back, and finding it to be an odd volume oi
the " Bachelor of Salamanca," in the French tongue, cursed Tom)
Pinch's folly, twenty times. He was on the point of throwing ilj
away, in his ill-humour and vexation, when he bethought himsell'
that Tom had referred him to a leaf, turned down ; and opening it.
at that place, that he might have additional cause of complaini
against him for suj^posing that any cold scrap of the Bachelor's-
wisdom 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 tc
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, wherein your worldly scholars are verj
apt and punctual, which bind men down to earth with leaden
chains. Who would not rather have to fan him, in his dyinfi
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 ! j

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



.MARTIN CHUZZLEWIT. 207



his spirits, and reminding him that he was not altogether destitute,
as he had left a foir stock of clothes behind him, and wore a gold
hunting-watch in his pocket. He found a curious gratification,
too, in thinking what a winning fellow he must be to liave made
such an impression on Tom ; and in reflecting how superior he
was to Tom ; and how much more likely to make his way in the
world. Animated liy these thoughts, and strengthened in his
design of endeavouring to pusli his fortune in anotlier country, he
resolved to get to London as a rallying-point, in the best way lie
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. PecksnitF, when he stopped to
breakfast at a little roadside alehouse ; and resting upon a higli-
backed settle before the fire, pulled off" his coat, and hung it before
the cheerful blaze, to dry. It was a very diiferent j^lace from tlie
last tavern in which he had regaled : boasting no greater extent of
accommodation than the brick-fioored kitchen yielded : but the mind
so soon accommodates itself to the necessities of the body, tliat
this poor waggoner's house- of-call, which he would have despised
yesterday, became now quite a choice hotel ; while his dish of eggs
Li 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
entertainment for Travellers."

He pushed away his empty plate ; and with a second mug upon
the hearth before him, looked thoughtfully at the fire until his
eyes ached. Then he looked at the highly -coloured Scripture
pieces ou the Avails, in little black frames like common shaving-
glasses, and saw how the Wise IMen (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 througli the
window at the falling rain, coming down aslant upon the sign-post
over against the house, and overflowing the horse-trougli ; 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 necessity, 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 liy 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.



208 LIFE AND ADA'EXTURES OF

He was a red-faced burly young fellow : smart iu his way, and
with a good-humoured countenance. As he advanced towards the
tire, 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 reck-
less 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 favourite when he was not ; and that
he snapped his fingers at her, the driver, and everybody 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 1 " asked 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, " Xow 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 1 " 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 fur coach-hire is a crown, for I have but two. If



MARTIX CHUZZLEWIT. 209

you can take me for tliat, and mj' waistcoat, or this silk liaiidkor-
ihief, do. If you can't, leave it alone."

Short and sweet," remarked the driver.

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

I didn't say I wanted more, did 1 1 " asked tlie driver, with
something like indignation.

"You didn't say my ofter was enough," rejoined Martin.

" Why how could I, when you wouldn't let me 1 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
ilk handkerchief's another thing ; and if you was satisfied when
s^e got to Hounslow, I shouldn't object to that as a gift."

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

"Yes, it is," returned the other.

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

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

The driver's name, as he soon informed Martin, was William
Simmons, better known as Bill ; and his spruce appearance was
ufficiently explained by his connexion with a large stage-coaching
stablishment at Hounslow, whither he was conveying his load
from a farm belonging to the concern in Wiltshire. He was fre-
P[uently 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 this instrument in his pocket, after screw-
ing off the mouthpiece to drain it ; " Limimy Ned of the Light
Salisbury, he was the one for musical talents. He teas a guard.
What you may call a Guardian Angel, was Ned."

"Is he dead"?" asked Martin.



210 LIFE AND ADVENTURES OF

" Dead ! " replied the other, with a 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 jiast tense," observed Martin, "so
I supposed he was no more."

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

"Did \\e1" asked Martin, with sudden interest. "AYhen?"

" 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."

"WelH" 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 scorn.

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

" New York, was it ? " asked Martin, thoughtfully.

"Yes," said Bill. "New York. I know that, because he
sent word home tliat 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 Columbia, and blowing up the President,
so I suppose it was something in the public line, or free-and-easy
way again. Any how, 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 witli 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, Init soon afterwards fell asleep,



MARTIN CHUZZLEWIT. 211

and reiiiaincd so for an hour or more. When lie awoke, liiidiiig
it had ceased to raiu, he took liis seat beside the driver, and asked
liini several 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 tlie voyage ; how much had he paid for passage-
money ; did he suffer greatly from sea-sickness? and so forth.
But on these points of detail, his friend was possessed of little or
no information ; either answering obviously at random, or acknow-
ledging 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 w^hich the van was bound, Martin got down,
paid his crown, and forced his silk handkerchief upon his honest
friend, notwithstanding 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 i\Ir. Pecksniff operated as a cordial to him ; awaken-
ing 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 ; and arriving there
in the middle of the night, and not knowing where to find a tavern
open, 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 coidd 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 grateful wdien he crept into it, for warmth, rest, and
forgetfulness.

It was quite late in the afternoon wlieii 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



212 LIFE AND ADVENTURES OF MARTIN CHUZZLEAVIT.

matter of absolute necessity that he should part with his watch
to some obliging pawnbroker; and he would have waited until
after dark for this purpose, though it had been the longest day in
tlie 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 favour 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 re-
peated in a ghastly transparency, 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 trifle more, you must indeed ! You
must dispense with one half-quarter 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 chafl'," said the shopman, 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."

" Its master has grown yellow in the service, if you mean that,
my friend," said Mr. Tigg ; "in the patriotic service of an ungrate-
ful country. You are making it two-and-six, I think 1 "

"I'm making it," returned the shopman, "what it alwaj's has
been — two shillings. Same name as usual, I suppose 1 "

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

" The old address 1"

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

"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.




nix MEETS A.\ AtyUAlMA.NCK, AT TllK KuCSE vf A MUTL'AL KELATXON.



214 LIFE AND ADVENTURES OF

Tigg. " The fact is still the same. The apartments for the under-
butler and the fifth footman being of a most confounded low and
vulgar kind at thirty-eight, Mayfair, I have been compelled, in my
regard for the feelings vrhich do them so much honour, to take on
lease, for seven, fourteen, or twenty-one years, renewable at the



Online LibraryCharles DickensLife and adventures of Martin Chuzzlewit → online text (page 23 of 80)