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Life and adventures of Martin Chuzzlewit online

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3, and walking slowly on : " AVhy, my good Sir, can't you come
d stay with me ? I am sure I could surround you with more
oiforts — lowly as is my cot, than you can obtain at a village
use of entertainment. And pardon me, Mr. Chuzzlewit, pardon
; if I say that such a i)lace as the Dragon, however well-conducted
ad, as far as I know, Mrs. Lupin is one of the worthiest creatures
this county), is hardly a home for ]\Iiss Graham."

Martin mused a moment : and then said, as he shook him by
e liand,

"Xo. You're quite right; it is not."

"The very sight of skittles," Mr. Pecksniff eloquently pursued,
s far from being congenial to a delicate mind."

" It's an amusement of the vulgar," said old Martin, " certainly."

"Of the very vulgar," Mr. Pecksniff answered. "Then wliy
t bring Miss Graham here, Sir 1 Here is the house ! Here
1 I alone in it, for Thomas Pinch I do not count as any one.
or lovely friend shall occupy my daughter's chamber ; you shall
cose your own ; we shall not quarrel, I hope ! "

"We are not likely to do that," said Martin.

Mr. Pecksniff pressed his hand. " We understand each other,
y dear Sir, I see ! — I can wind him," he thought, with exultation,
round my little finger ! "

" You leave the recompense to me 1 " said the old man, after a
inute's silence.

" Oh ! do not speak of recompense ! " cried Pecksniff.

"I say," repeated Martin, with a glimmer of his old obstinacy,
^•ou leave the recompense to me. Do you ? "

"Since you desire it, my good Sir."

"I always desire it," said the old man. "You know I always
sire it. I wish to pay as I go, even when I buy of you. Not
at I do not leave a balance to be settled one day, Pecksniff."

The architect was too much overcome to speak. He tried to
op a tear upon his patron's hand, but couldn't find one in his dry
5tillery.

" May that day be very distant !" was his pious exclamation.
Ah Sir! If I could say how deep an interest I have in you and
urs 1 I allude to our beautiful young friend."



458 LIFE AND ADVENTURES OF

" True,'' he answered. " True. She need have some on
interested in her. I did her wrong to train her as I did. Oiphai
though she was, she woidd have found some one to protect he
whom she might have loved again. When she was a child, '.
pleased myself with the thought that in gratifying my whim o
placing her between me and false-hearted knaves, I had done her ;
kindness. Now she is a woman, I have no such comfort. Sh
has no protector but herself. I have put her at such odds wit!
the world, that any dog may bark or fawn upon her at his pleasuie
Indeed she stands in need of delicate consideration. Yes ; indeei
she does ! "

" If her position could be altered and defined, Sir 1 " Mi
Pecksniff hinted.

" How can that be done 1 Should I make a seamstress of hei
or a governess ? "

"Heaven forbid!" said Mr. Pecksniff. "My dear Sir, thei
are other ways. There are indeed. But I am much excited an
embarrassed at present, and would rather not pursue the subjec
I scarcely know what I mean. Permit me to resume it at anothc
time." j

"You are not unwell?" asked Martin anxiously. I

" No, no ! " cried Pecksniff. " No. Permit me to resume it i
another time. I'll walk a little. Bless you ! "

Old Martin blessed him in return, and squeezed his hand. .-
he turned away, and slowly walked towards the house, Mr. Pec
sniff stood gazing after him : being pretty well recovered from h
late emotion, which, in any other man, one might have thoug
had been assumed as a machinery for feeUng Martin's pulse. Tl
change in the old man found such a slight expression in his figui
that Mr. Pecksniff, looking after him, could not help saying
himself :

" And I can wind him round my little finger ! Only think !

Old Martin happening to tm'n his head, saluted him afiectic
ately. Mr. Pecksniff' returned the gesture.

" Wliy the time was," said Mr. Pecksniff; "and not long af
when he wouldn't look at me ! How soothing is tliis chanj'
Such is the delicate texture of the human heart : so comi:)licatedj
the process of its being softened ! Externally he looks the sani
and I can wind him round my little finger. Only think ! ''

In sober truth, there did appear to be nothing on which I;.
Pecksniff might not have ventured with Martin Chuzzlewit ; '
whatever Mr. Pecksniff said or did was right, and whatever '
advised was done. Martin had escaped so many snares from nee!'
fortune-hunters, and had withered in the shell of his susi^icion ai



JIARTIN CHUZZLEWIT. 459

istrust for .su many years, but to become tlie good mans tool ami
laytbing. "With the happiness of this conviction painted on his
ice, tiie architect went forth upon his morning walk.

The summer weather in his bosom was reflected in the breast of
'ature. Through deep green vistas where the boughs arched
i'er-head, and showed the sunlight flashing in the beautiful
erspective ; through dewy fern from which the startled hares
■aped up, and fled at his api)roach ; by mantled pools, and fallen
•ees, and down in hollow places, rustling among last year's leaves
hose scent was Memory; the placid Pecksnift" strolled. By
leadow gates and hedges fragrant with wild roses ; and by
latched-roofed cottages whose inmates humbly bowed before him
5 a man both good and wise ; the worthy Pecksnift" walked in
•anquil meditation. The bee passed onward, humming of the
'ork he had to do ; the idle gnats for ever going round and round
1 one contracting and exj landing ring, yet always going on as fast
5 he, danced merrily before him ; the colour of the long grass
ime and went, as if the light clouds made it tinad as they floated
irough the distant air. The birds, so many Pecksnift' consciences,
iiig gaily u])on every branch ; and ]\Ir. Pecksnift" paid his homage
3 the day by ruminating on his projects as he walked along.

Chancing to trip, in his abstraction, over the spreading root of
n old tree, he raised his pious eyes to take a survey of the ground
efore him. It startled him to see the embodied image of his
boughts not far ahead. Mary herself. And alone.

At first Mr. Pecksnift" stopped, as if witli the intention of
voiding her : but his next impulse Avas, to advance, which he did
t a bri.sk pace ; carolling as he went, so sweetly and with so much
luocence, that he only wanted feathers and wings to be a bird.

Hearing notes behind her, not belonging to tlie songsters of the
rove, she looked round. Mr. Pecksnift" kissed his hand, and was
t her side immediately.

"Communing with Nature?" said Mr. Pecksnift". " So am I.''

She said the morning was so beautiful that she had walked
irther than she intended, and would return. Mr. Pecksnift" said
; wjis exactly his case, and he would return with her.

"Take my arm, sweet girl," said ]\Ir. Pecksnift".

Mary declined it, and walked so very fast that he remonstrated.
You were loitering when I came ujjon you," Mr. Pecksnift" said.
Wliy be so cruel as to hurry now! You would not sliun me,
•ould you ? "

"Yes, I would," she answered, turning her gluwing check
idignantly upon him, "you know I would. Kelea.se me, Mr.
'eeksnifl". Your touch is disagreeable to me."



460 LIFE AND ADVENTURES OF

His touch ! What, that chaste patriarchal touch which Mrs.
Todgers — surely a discreet lady — had endured, uot ouly without
complaint, but with apparent satisfaction ! This was positively
wrong. Mr. Pecksniff was sorry to hear her say it.

"If you have not observed," said Mary, "that it is so, pray
take the assurance from my Yii)S, and do not, as you are a gentle-
man, continue to offend me."

" AVell, well ! " said Mr. Pecksniff, mildly, " I feel that I might
consider this becoming in a daughter of my own, and why should
I object to it in one so beautiful ! It's harsh. It cuts me to the
soul," said Mr. Pecksniff: "but I cannot quarrel with you,
Mary."

She tried to say she was sorry to hear it, but burst into tears.
Mr. Pecksniff now repeated the Todgers performance on a com-
fortable scale, as if he intended it to last some time ; and in
his disengaged hand, catching hers, employed himself in separating
the fingers with his own, and sometimes kissing them, as he
pursued the conversation thus :

" I am glad we met. I am very glad we met. I am able now
to ease my bosom of a heavy load, and speak to you in confidence.
Mary," said Mr. Pecksniff, in his tenderest tones : indeed, they
were so very tender that he almost squeaked : "My soul I I love
you ! "

A fantastic thing, that maiden affectation ! She made believe
to shudder.

"I love you," said Mr. Pecksniff, "my gentle life, with a
devotion which is quite surprising, even to myself I did suppose
that the sensation was buried iu the silent tomb of a lady, only
second to you in qualities of the mind and form ; but I find I am
mistaken."

She tried to disengage her hand, but might as well have tried
to free herself from the embrace of an affectionate boa-constrictor :
if anything so wily may be brought into comparison with Pecksniff.

" Although I am a widower," said Mr. Pecksuift* examining
the rings upon her fingers, and tracing the course of one delicate
blue vein with his fat thumb, " a widower with two daughters,'
still I am not encumbered, my love. One of them, as you know,
is married. The other, by her own desire, but with a view, I
will confess — why uot 1 — to my altering my condition, is about
to leave her father's house. I have a character, I hope. Peopk
are pleased to speak well of me, I think. My pereon and maunen
are not absolutely those of a monster, I trust. Ah, naughtj
Hand ! " said Mr. Pecksniff, apostrophising the reluctant prize.'
" why did you take me prisoner ! Go, go ! "



MARTIN CHUZZLEWIT. 461

Ho slapped the hand to punish it ; but relenting, folded it in
, waistcoat, to comfort it again.

" Blessed in each other, and in the society of our venerable
jnd, my darling," said Mr. Pecksniff, "we shall be happy,
ben he is wafted to a haven of rest, we will console each other.
J pretty primrose, what do you say 1 "

"It is possible," Mary answered, in a hurried manner, "that I
^dit to feel grateful for this mark of your confidence. I cannot
' that I do, but I am willing to suppose you may deserve my
inks. Take them ; and pray leave me, Mr. Pecksniff."

The good man smiled a greasy smile : and drew her closer to
u.

" Pray, pray release me, Mr. Pecksniff. I cannot listen to
.u- proposal. I cannot receive it. There are many to whom it
ly be acceptable, but it is not so to me. As an act of kindness
J an act of pity, leave me ! "

i\Ir. Pecksniff walked on with his arm round her waist, and
r hand in his, as contentedly as if they had been all in all to
;h other, and were joined together in the bonds of truest love.

" If you force me by your superior strength," said Mary, who
ding that good words had not the least effect upon him, made

furtlier effort to suppress her indignation : " if you force me by
ur superior strength to accompany you back, and to be the
bject of your insolence upon the way, you cannot constrain the
pression of my thoughts. I hold you in the deepest abhorrence.
inow your real nature and despise it."

"No, no," said Mr. Pecksniff, sweetly. "No, no, no ! "

" By what arts or unhappy chances you have gained your
luence over Mr. Chuzzlewit, I do not know," said Mary: "it
ly be strong enough to soften even this, but he shall know of
i.s, trust me. Sir."

Mr. Pecksniff raised his heavy eyelids languidly, and let them
1 again. It was saying with perfect coolness, "Ay, ay! In-
ed!"

"Is it not enough," said INFary, "that you warp and change
5 nature, adajjt his every prejudice to yom- bad ends, and harden
heart naturally kind by shutting out the truth and allowing
ne but ftdse and distorted views to reach it ; is it not enough
at you have the power of doing this, and that you exercise it,
t nuist you also be so coarse, so cruel, and so cowardly to me 1 "

Still Mr. Pecksniff led her calmly on, and looked as mild as
y lamb that ever pastured in the fields.

" Will nothing move you. Sir 1 " cried Mary.

"My dear," observed Mr. Pecksniff, with a placid leer, "a



462 LIFE AND ADYEXTURES OF

habit of self-examination, and the practice of — -shall I say (
virtue 1 "

" Of hypocrisy," said I\Iary.

" No, no," resumed JNIr. Pecksniff, chafing the captive han
reproachfully: "of vu'tue — have enabled me to set such guard
upon myself, that it is really difficult to ruffle me. It is a curior
fact, but it is difficult, do you know, for any one to ruffle uk
And did she think," said Mr. Pecksniff, with a playful tighteuin
of his grasp, "that she could! How little did she know h:
heart I "

Little indeed ! Her mind was so strangely constituted thf
she would have preferred the caresses of a toad, an adder, or
serpent : nay, the hug of a bear : to the endearments of M
Pecksniff.

" Come, come," said that good gentleman, "a word or two wi
set this matter right, and establish a pleasant understandii
between us. I am not angry, my love."

" You angry ! "

" No," said ]\Ir. Pecksniff, " I am not. I say so. Neith
are you."

There was a beating heart beneath his hand that told anoth
story though.

"I am sure you are not," said Mr. Pecksniff: "and I will t(
you why. There are two Martin Chuzzlewits, my dear ; and yo
carrying your anger to one might have a serious effect — who know
— upon the other. You woiddn't wish to hurt him, would you

She trembled violently, and looked at him with such a pre
disdain that he turned his eyes away. No doubt lest he shou
be offended with her in spite of his better self.

"A passive quarrel, my love," said Mr. Pecksniff, "may
changed into an active one, remember. It would be sad to blig
even a disinherited young man in his already blighted prospect
but how easy to do it. Ah, how easy ! Hai'e I influence wi
our venerable friend, do you think ? Well, perhaps I ha'
Perhaps I have."

He raised his eyes to hers; and nodded with an air of ban,
that was charming.

" No," he continued, thoughtfully. " Upon the whole, i
sweet, if I were you, I'd keep my secret to myself. I am not ■
all sure : very far from it : that it would surprise our friend
any way, for he and I have had some conversation together oi'
this morning, and he is anxious, very anxious, to establish yom
some moi'e settled manner. But whether he was surprised or i-
surprised, tlie consequence of your imparting it might be the sai .



MARTIN OHUZZLEWIT. 463

lartin, junior, might suffer severely. I'd have compassion on
[artin, junior, do you know!" said ^Ir. Pecksniff, with a jht-
lasive smile. "Yes. He don't deserve it, but I would. "

She wept so bitterly now, and was so much distressed, that he
lought it prudent to unclasp her waist, and hold heronly by the liand.

"As to our own share in the precious little mystery," said Mr.
ecksuiff, " we will keep it to ourselves, and talk of it between
iireelves, and you shall think it over. You will consent, my
(ve ; you will consent, I know. Whatever you may tliink ; you
ill. I seem to remember to have heard : I really don't ki.ow
here, or how:" he added, with bewitching frankness, "that
DU and Martin junior, when you were children, had a sort of
lildish fondness for each other. "When we are married, you
lall have the satisfaction of thinking that it didn't last, to
liu him, but passed away, to do him good ; for we'll see then,
■hat we can do to put some trifling help in Martin junior's way.
{iwe I any influence with our venerable friend? Well ! Perhaps
have. Perhaps I have."

The outlet from the wood in which these tender passages
ccurred, was close to ]\Ir. Pecksniff''s house. They were now so
ear it that he stopped, and holding up her little finger, said in
hiyful accents, as a parting fancv :

"Shall I bite it r'

Receiving no reply he kissed it instead ; and then stooping
own. inclined his flabby face to hers — he had a flabby face,
Ithough he was a good man- — and with a blessing, which from
nch a source was quite enough to set her up in life, and prosper
er for tliat time forth, jiermitted her to leave him.

Gallantry in its true sense is supposed to ennoble and dignify

man ; and love has shed refinenient.s- on innumerable Cymons.
hit Mr. Pecksniff" : perhaps because to one of his exalted nature
hese were mere grossnesses : certainly did not appear to any
nusual advantage, now that he was left alone. On the contrary,
e seemed to be shrunk and reduced ; to be trying to hide himself
ithin himself: and to be wretched at not having tlie power to
it. His shoes Ir)oked too large ; his sleeves looked too long ;
is hair looked too limp ; his hat looked too little ; his features
ioked too mean ; his exposed throat looked as if a halter would
ave done it good. For a minute or two, in fact, he was hot, and
ale, and mean, and shy, and slinking, and consequently not at all
Vcksniffian. But after that, he recovered him-sclf, and went
oine with as beneficent an air as if he liad been the High Priest
f the summer weather.

"I have arranged to go. Papa," said Charity, "to-morrow."



464 LIFE AXD ADVENTURES OF

" So soon, my child ! '"

'* I cau't go too soou," said Charity, "under the circiimstances
I have written to Mrs. Todgers to propose an arrangement, auc
have requested her to meet me at the coach, at all events. You'l
be quite your own master now, Mr. Pinch 1 "

Mr. Pecksniff had just gone out of the room, and Tom ha(
just come into it.

" My own master ! " repeated Tom.

" Yes, you'll have nobody to interfere with you," said Charity
" At least I hope you won't. Hera ! It's a changing world."

"What! are — are you going to be married, Miss Pecksniff?'
asked Tom in great surprise.

" Xot exactly," faltered Cherry. " I haven't made up mi
mind to be. I believe I could be, if I chose, Mr. Pinch."

" Of course you could ! " said Tom. And he said it in perfec
good faith. He believed it from the bottom of his heart.

" Xo," said Cherry. " / am not going to be married. Xobod,'
is, that I know of. Hem ! But I am not going to live witl
Papa. I have my reasons, but it's all a secret. I shall alway.
feel very kindly towards you, I assure you, for the boldness yo
showed that night. As to you and me, Mr. Pinch, v:e part th'
best friends possible '"

Tom thanked her for her confidence, and for her friendsliip
but there was a mystery in the former, which perfectly bewildere(
him. In his extravagant devotion to the family, he had felt th
loss of Merry more than any one but those who knew that for al
the slights he underwent he thought his owu demerits were t
blame, could possibly have understood. He had scarcely K
conciled himself to that, when here was Charity about to leav
them. She had grown "up, as it were, under Tom's eye. Th
sisters were a part of Pecksniff, and a part of Tom ; items i
Pecksniff's goodness, and in Tom's service. He couldn't bear it
not two hours' sleep had Tom that night, through dwelling in Li
bed upon these dreadful changes.

Wheu morning dawned, he thought he must have dreamed thi;
piece of ambiguity ; but no, on going down stairs he found ther^
packing trunks and cording boxes, and making other preparation
for Miss Charity's departure, which lasted all day long. In goo
time for the evening- coach. Miss Charity deposited her hous'
keeping keys with much ceremony upon the parlour table ; too
a gracious leave of all the house ; and quitted her paternal roof-
a blessing, for which the Pecksniffian servant was observed h
some profane persons to be particularly active in the thank;
givinsr at church next Sundav.



MARTIN CHUZZLEWIT. 465



CHAPTER XXXI.

I. nXCH IS DISCHARGED OF A DUTY WHICH HE NEVER OWED
TO ANYBODY ; AND MR. PECKSNIFF DISCHARGES A DUTY
WHICH HE OWES TO SOCIETY.

The closing words of the last chapter, lead iiaturall}' to the
mmcncement of this, its successor ; for it has to do with a
urch. AVith the church so often mentioned heretofore, in
lich Tom Pinch played the organ for nothing.

One sultry afternoon, about a week after Miss Charity's de-
rtiu-e for London, Mr. Pecksniff" being out walking by himself,
ok it into his head to stray into the churchyard. As he was
igering among the tombstones, endeavouring to extract an avail-
ile sentiment or two from the epitaphs — for he never lost an
iportunity of making up a few moral crackers, to be let off" as
casiou sei'ved — -Tom Pinch began to practise. Tom could run
iwn to the church and do so whenever he had time to spare ;
r it was a simple little organ, provided with wind by the action

the musician's feet ; and he was independent, even of a bellows-
ower. Though if Tom had wanted one at any time, there was
)t a man or boy in all the village, and away to the turnpike (toU-
au included), but would have blown away for him till he was
ack in the face.

Mr. Pecksniff' had no objection to music ; not the least. He
as tolerant of everything — he often said so. He considered it a
igabond kind of trifling, in general, just suited to Tom's capacity,
ut in regard to Tom's performance upon this same organ, he was
markably lenient, singularly amiable ; for when Tom played it
1 Sundays, Mr. Pecksniff" in his unbounded sympathy felt as if
! played it himself, and were a benefactor to the congregation.
) whenever it was impossible to devise any other means of taking
e value of Tom's wages out of him, Mr. Pecksniff" gave him leave

cultivate this instrument. For which mark of his consideration,
pm was very grateful.

I The afternoon was remarkably warm, and I\Ir. Pecksniff" had
len strolling a long way. He had not what may be called a
ie ear for music, but he knew when it had a tranquillising

fluence on his soul ; and that was the case now, for it sounded
him like a melodious snore. He approadied the church, and

iking through the diamond lattice of a window near the ] torch,
2 11



466 LIFE AXD ADVENTURES OF

sa^y Tom, -with the curtains in the loft drawn back, pkying away
with great expression and tenderness.

The church had an inviting air of coolness. The old oak rod
supported by cross-beams, the hoary walls, the marble tablets, and
the cracked stone pavement, were refreshing to look at. There
were leaves of ivy tapping gently at the opposite windows ; and
the sun poured in through only one : leaving the body of the
church in tempting shade. But the most tempting spot of all,
was one red-curtained and soft-cushioned pew, wherein the official
dignitaries of the place (of whom Mr. Pecksniff was the head and
chief) enshrined themselves on Sundays. Mr. Pecksniff's seat was
in the corner : a remarkably comfortable corner ; where his very
large Prayer-Book was at that minute making the most of its
quarto self upon the desk. He determined to go in and rest.

He entered very softly ; in part because it w-as a church ; iu
part because his tread was alw^ays soft ; in part because Tom
played a solemn tune ; in part because he thought he would
surprise him when he stopped. Unbolting the door of the high
pew of state, he glided in and shut it after him ; then sitting in
his usual place, and stretching out his legs upon the hassocks, he
composed himself to listen to the music.

It is an unaccountable circumstance that he should have felt
drowsy there, where the force of association might surely havf
been enough to keep him wide awake ; but he did. He had nol
been in the snug little corner five minutes before he began to nod
He had not recovered himself one minute before he began to noi
again. In the very act of opening his e3'es indolently, he noddei
again. In the very act of shutting them, he nodded again
So he fell out of one nod into another until at last he ceased t(
nod at all, and was as fast as the church itself.

He had a consciousness of the organ, long after he fell asleep
though as to its being an oi-gan he had no more idea of that, thai
he had of its being a Bull. After a while he began to have a
intervals the same dreamy impressions of voices ; and awakeniii;
to an indolent curiosity upon the subject, opened his eyes.

He was so indolent, that after glancing at the hassocks and th
pew, he was already half-way off to sleep again, when it occurre
to him that there really were voices in the church : low voice;
talking earnestly hard by : while the echoes seemed to mutte
responses. He roused himself, and listened.

Before he had listened half a dozen seconds, he became as broa
awake as ever he had been in all his life. "With eyes, and ear;
and mouth, wide opeii, he moved himself a very little with tl
utmost caution, and gathering the curtain in his hand, peeped on



MARTIN CHUZZLEWIT. 467

Tom Pinch ami Mary. Of course. Ho liad recognised their



Online LibraryCharles DickensLife and adventures of Martin Chuzzlewit → online text (page 48 of 80)