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Life and adventures of Martin Chuzzlewit online

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one beaver glove dangling before him ; but he would as soon hai
thought of the cross upon the top of St. Paul's Cathedral taki
note of what he did, or slowly winding a great net about his ii
as of Nadgett's being engaged in such an occupation.

Mr. Nadgett made a mysterious change about this time in
mysterious life : for whereas he had, until now, been first &
every morning coming down Cornhill, so exactly like the Nadget'
the day before as to occasion a popular belief that he never went
bed or took his clothes oflf, he Avas now first seen in Holb:
coming out of Kingsgate Street ; and it was soon discovered t
he actually went every morning to a barber's shop in that st;,
to get shaved ; and that the barber's name was Sweedlepipe. \.
seemed to make appointments with the man who never cameii
meet him at this barber's ; for he would frequently take 1^
spells of waiting in the shop, and would ask for pen and ink, ,il
pull out his pocket-book, and be very busy over it for an i'r
at a time. Mrs. G-amp and Mr. Sweedlepipe had many ('|'
discoursings on the subject of this mysterious customer; but )'
usually agreed that he had speculated too much and was kee i'
out of the way.

He must have appointed the man who nevBr kept his \^ i
to meet him at another new place too; for one day he was fo I
for the first time, by the waiter at the Mourning Coach-H',i'.
the House-of-call for Undertakers, down in the City there, ma i-
figures with a pipe-stem in the sawdust of a clean spittoon ; n'
declined to call for anything, on the ground of expecting a ge f-
man presently. As the gentleman was not honourable enougl"
keep his engagement, he came again next day, with his pocket- ■'^
in such a state of distension that he was regarded in the bar '
man of large property. After that, he repeated his visits i rj



MA1;TIX ClirZZLEWIT. 563

ami had so nnu-h writiiii;- to do. that he made nothing of
I'hig a capacious leaden inkstand in two sittings. Alchongh
?ver talked much, still, by being there among the regular
mers, he made their acquaintance ; and in course of time
le quite intimate with Mr. Tackcr, I\Ir. Mould's foreman ;
ven with Mr. Mould himself, who openly said he was a long-
id man, a dry one, a salt fish, a deep file, a rasper : and made
he subject of many other flattering encomiums.
; the same time, too, he told the peo^ile at the Insurance
, in his own mysterious way, that there was something wrong
itly wrong, of course) in his liver, and that he feared he

put himself under the doctor's hands. He w^as delivered
to Jobling upon this representation ; and though Jobling

not find out where his liver was wrong, wrong Mr. Nadgett
it was ; observing that it was his own liver, and he hoped
ght to know. Accordingly, he became Mr. Jobling's patient ;
ietailing his symptoms in his slow and secret way, was in and
f that gentleman's room a dozen times a-day.
3 he pursued all these occupations at once ; and all steadily ;
,11 secretly ; and never slackened in his watchfulness of every-

that Mr. Jonas said and did, and left unsaid and undone ;
not improbable that they were, secretly, essential parts of
great secret scheme which INFr. Nadgett had on foot.

WMs on the morning of this very day on which so much had
Mied to Tom Pinch, that Nadgett suddenly appeai'ed before
ilontague's house in Pall Mall — he always made his appearance

he had that moment come up a trap — when the clocks were
ng nine. He rang the bell in a covert under-handed way,
ough it were a treasonable act ; and passed in at the door,
loment it was opened wide enough to receive his body. That

he shut it immediately, with his own hands.
r. Bailey, taking up his name without delay, returned with
|uest that he wouhl follow him into his master's chamber,
chairman of the Anglo-Bengalee Disinterested Loan and Life
•ance Board was dressing, and received him as a business
n who was often backwards and forwards, and was received

times for his business' sake.
Well, I\Ir. Nadgett ! "

r. Nadgett put his hat upon the ground and coughed. The
laving withdrawn and shut the door, he went to it softly,
ined tlie handle, and returned to within a pace or two of the

in which Mr. Montague sat.
Any news, ]\Ir. Nadgett 1 "
I think we have some new.s at last. Sir."



564 LIFE AND ADVEXTURES OF

" I am happy to hear it. I began to fear you were off tt
scent, Mr. Nadgett."

" No, Sir. It grows cold occasionally. It will sometime;
We can't help that."

" You are Truth itself, Mr. Nadgett. Do you report a gres
success ? "

" That depends upon your judgment and construction of it,
was his answer, as he put on his spectacles.

" What do you think of it yourself. Have you pleased you
self?"

Mr. Nadgett rubbed his hands slowly, stroked his chin, lookf
round the room, and said, " Yes, yes, I think it's a good case,
am disposed to think it's a good case. Will you go into it i
once 1 "

" By all means."

Mr. Nadgett picked out a certain chair from among the re;
and having planted it in a particular spot, as carefully as if
had been going to vault over it, placed another chair in front
it : leaving room for his own legs between them. He then ^
down in chair number two, and laid his pocket-book, very careful
on chair number one. He then untied the pocket-book, and hu
the string over the back of chair number one. He then dr
both the chairs a little nearer Mr. Montague, and opening t
pocket-book spread out its contents. Finally, he selected
certain memorandum from the rest, and held it out to his employ
who, during the whole of these preliminary ceremonies, had b(
making violent efforts to conceal his impatience.

" I wish you wouldn't be so fond of making notes, my excell'
friend," said Tigg Montague with a ghastly smile. "I wish ;
would consent to give me their purport by word of mouth."

"I don't like word of mouth," said Mr. Nadgett, gravi'
" We never know who's listening."

Mr. Montague was going to retort, when Nadgett handed )
the paper, and said, with quiet exultation in his tone, " We'll be
at the beginning, and take that one first, if you please, Sir.'

The chairman cast his eyes upon it, coldly, and with a si
which did not render any great homage to the slow and methoc],'
habits of his spy. But he had not read half-a-dozen lines 'w '
the expression of his face began to change, and before he '
finished the perusal of the paper, it was full of grave and ser ■
attention.

" Number Two," said Mr. Nadgett, handing him another, ti
receiving back the first. "Read Number Two, Sir, if you plf^
There is more interest as you go on."



MARTIN CHUZZLEWIT. 565

igg Montague leaned backward in hi.s chair, and cast iii^on hi.s
iary such a look of A'acaut wonder (not uumingled with alarm),
Mr. Nadgott considered it necessary to repeat the request he
already twice preferred : with the view of recalling his
tion to the point in hand. Profiting by the hint, Mr.
;ague went on with Number Two, and afterwards with
bers Three, and Four, and Five, and so ou.
hese documents Avere all in Mr. Nadgett's writing, and were
•ently a series of memoranda, jotted down from time to time

the backs of old letters, or any scrap of paper that came
to hand. Loose straggling scraAvls they were, and of very
siting exterior ; but they had weighty purpose in them, if the
man's foce were any index to the character of their contents,
he progress of Mr. Nadgett's secret satisfaction arising out of
effect they made, kept pace with the emotions of the reader.
.rst, I\Ir. Nadgett sat with his spectacles low down upon his

looking over them at Ins employer, and nervously rubbing
lands. After a little M'hile, he changed his posture in his

for one of greater ease, and leisurely perused the next
ment he held ready, as if an occasional glance at his em-
ir's face were now enough, and all occasion for anxiety or
t were gone. And finally he rose and looked out of the
ow, where he stood, with a triumphant air, until Tigg
:ague had finished.

And this is the last, Mr. Nadgett ! " said that gentleman,
ing a long breath.
That, Sir, is the last."
You are a wonderful man, Mr. Nadgett ! "
I think it is a pretty good case," he returned, as he gathered
is papers. " It cost some trouble, Sir."

Tiie trouble shall be well rewarded, Mr. Nadgett." Nadgett
d. " Tliere is a deeper impression of Somebody's Hoof here,

I had expected, Mr. Nadgett. I may congratulate myself

your being such a good hand at a secret."

Oh ! nothing has an interest to me that's not a secret,"

ed Nadgett, as he tied the string about his pocket-book,

put it up. " It almost takes away any pleasure I may have

iu tiiis inquiry even to make it known to you."

A most invaluable constitution," Tigg retorted. " A great

for a gentleman employed as you are, Mr. Nadgett. Mucli

!r than discretion : though you possess that quality also in

raineut degree. I tliink I heard a double knock. Will you

your head out of window, and tell me whether there is any-

■ at the dour ? "



566 LIFE AND ADVENTURES OF

Mr. Nadgett softly raised the sash, aud peered out from tl
very comer, as a man might who was looking down into a stre
from whence a brisk discharge of musketry might be expected
any moment. Drawing in his head with equal caution, he observe
not altering his voice or manner :

" Mr. Jonas Chuzzlewit ! "

" I thought so," Tigg retorted.

" Shall I go 'I "

"I think you had better. Stay though ! No! remain hei
Mr. Nadgett, if you please."

It was remarkable how pale and Hurried he had become iu ;
instant. Tliere was nothing to account for it. His eye had f\ill
on his razors : but what of tiiem !

Mr. Chuzzlewit was announced. .

" Show him up directly, Nadgett ! Don't you leave us aloi
together. Mind you don't, now ! By the Lord ! " he added
a whisper to himself: "We don't know what may happen."

Saying this, he hurriedly took up a couple of hair-brushes, ii
began to exercise them on his own head, as if his toilet had i
been interrupted. Mr. Nadgett withdrew to the stove in wli
there was a small fire for the convenience of heating cmiing-iroi
and taking advantage of so favourable an opportunity for dry
his pocket-handkerchief, produced it without loss of time. Tl)
he stood, during the whole interview, holding it before the h.
and sometimes, but not often, glancing over his shoulder.

" My dear Chuzzlewit ! " cried Montague, as Jonas enterj:
"you rise with the lark. Though you go to bed with '8
nightingale, you rise with the lark. You have superhuip
energy, my dear Chuzzlewit ! " I

" Ecod ! " said Jonas, with an air of languor and ill-humoui'js
he took a chair, "I should be very glad not to get up with'e
lark, if I could help it. But I am a light sleeper; and it's be 'if
to be up, than lying awake, counting the dismal old church-clcis,
in bed." |

"A light sleeper!" cried his friend. "Now, what is a Ijit
sleeper? I often hear the expression, but upon my life I ll'C
not the least conception w^hat a light sleeper is." •

" Hallo ! " said Jonas, " Who's that 1 Oh, old what's ,-'■
name : looking (as usual) as if he wanted to skulk up the cliimi.'-

" Ha, ha ! I have no doubt he does." ;

" Well ! He's not wanted here, I suppose. He mayiO)
mayn't he ? " ,

" Oh, let him stay, let him stay ! " said Tigg. " He's a iiW
]jiece of furniture. He has been making his report, and is yve.%



MARTIX CHUZZLEWIT. 567

further orders. He has been told," said Tigg, raising his
;, "not to lose sight of certain friends of ours, or to think

he has done with them by any means. He understands his
less."

He need," replied Jonas : " for of all tlie precious old dummies
[ipearance that ever I saw, lie's about the worst. He's afraid
e, I think."

It's my belief," said Tigg, "that yon are Poison to him.
2;ett ! give me that towel ! "
[e had as little occasion for a towel as Jonas had for a start.

Nadgett brought it quickly; and, having lingered for a
lent, fell back upon his old post by the fire.

You see, uiy dear fellow," resumed Tigg, "you are too

i's the matter with your lips ? How white they are ! "

I took some vinegar just now," said Jonas. " I had oysters
iiy breakfast. "Where are they white ? " he added, nuittering
lath, and rubbing them upon his handkerchief. " I don't
ve they are white."

Now I look again, they are not," replied liis friend. "They
;oming right again."

Say what you were going to say," cried Jonas, angrily, "and
ny ftxce be ! As long as I can show my teeth when I want
ind I can do that pretty well), the colour of my lips is not
;rial."

Quite true," said Tigg. "I was only going to say that you
too quick and active for our friend. He is too shy to cope

such a man as you, but does his duty well. Oh very well !
what is a light sleeper ? "

' Hang a light sleeper ! " exclaimed Jonas, pettishly.
' No, no," interrupted Tigg. " Xo. We'll not do that.''
■A light .sleeper an't a heavy one," said Jonas in his sulky
: "don't sleep much, and don't sleep well, and don't sleep
tl."

An<l dream.s," said Tigg, "and cries out in an ugly niaiiner ;
when the candle burns down in the night, is in an agony ;
all that sort of thing. I see I "

'hey were silent for a little time. Then J(jnas spoke :
'Now we've done with child's talk, I want to have a word
I you. I want to have a word with you before we meet up
ler to-day. I am not satisfied with the state of affairs."
' Not satisfied ! " cried Tigg. "The money comes in well."
■'The money comes in well enough," retorted Jonas: "but it
t come out well enough. It can't be got at, easily enough,
iven't sufficient power ; it's all in your hands. Ecod ! wliat



568 Llt^E AND ADVENTURES OF MARTIN CHUZZLEWIT.

with one of your bye -laws, and another of your bye -laws, an
your votes in this capacity, and your votes in that capacity, an
your official rights, and your individual rights, and other people'
rights who are only you again, there are no rights left for nii
Everybody else's rights are my wrongs. "What's the use of ni
having a voice if it's always drowned 1 I might as well be duml
and it would be much less aggravating. I'm not agoing to stan
that, you know."

" No ? " said Tigg in an insinuating tone.

" No ! " retm-ned Jonas, " I'm not indeed. I'll play Old Goos(
I berry with the office, and make you glad to buy me out at a goo
'high figure, if you try any of your tricks with me."

"I give you my honour " Montague began.

" Oh ! confound your honour," interrupted Jonas, Avho becam,
more coarse and quarrelsome as the other remonstrated, which mai
have been a part of Mr. Montague's intention: "I want alitt'
more control over the money. You may have all the honcn.Ti7
you like ; I'll never bring you to book for that. But I'm m
agoing to stand it, as it is now. If you should take it into yoi
honourable head to go abroad with the bank, I don't see much :
prevent you. Well ! That won't do. I've had some very goi-
dinners here, but they'd come too dear on such terms : and ther
fore, that won't do."

" I am unfortunate to find you in this humour," said Tigg, wil
a remarkable kind of smile : " for I was going to propose to you-
for your own advantage ; solely for your own advantage — that yci
should venture a little more with us."

" Was you, by G — 1 " said Jonas, with a short laugh.

''' Yes. And to suggest," pursued Montague, " that surely yi
have friends ; indeed, I know you have ; who would answer o
purpose admirably, and wliom we should be delighted to receive.

" How kind of you ! You'd be delighted to receive 'em, won
you 1 " said Jonas, bantering.

" I give you my sacred honour, quite transported. As yu
friends, observe ! "

"Exactly," said Jonas : "as my friends, of course. You'll '
very much delighted when you get 'em, I have no doubt. A);
it'll be all to my advantage, won't it ? " j

" It will be very much to your advantage," answered Moutagii;
poising a brush in each hand, and looking steadily upon him. " ;
will be very much to your advantage, I assure you." |

" And you can tell me how," said Jonas, " can't you*? "

" Shall I tell you howl" returned the other.

"I think you had better," said Jonas. "Strange things ha*



^




ADGETT HKEATHES, AS USUAL,



AN ATMOSl'HEKE OF MY.STEUV.



570 LIFE AND ADVENTURES OF

been done in the lusurauce way before now, by strange sorts c
men, and I mean to take care of myself."'

" Chuzzlewit ! " replied Montague, leaning forward, with lii
arms upon his knees, and looking full into his ftice. " Strang
things have been done, and are done every day ; not only in ou
way, but in a variety of other ways ; and no one suspects then
But ours, as you say, my good friend, is a strange way ; and w
strangely happen, sometimes, to come into the knowledge of ver
strange events."

He beckoned to Jonas to bring his chair nearer ; and lookiu
slightly round, as if to remind him of the jn-esence of Xadget
whispered in his ear.

From red to white ; from white to red again ; from red (
yellow ; then to a cold, dull, awful, sweat-bedabbled blue. In th;;
short whisper, all these changes fell upon the face of Jonas Chiizzl
wit ; and when at last he laid his hand upon the whisperer's mout
appalled, lest any syllable of what he said should reach the ears
the third person present, it was as bloodless, and as heavy as t
hand of Death.

He drew his chair away, and sat a spectacle of terror, mise;
and rage. He was afraid to speak, or look, or move, or sit st'
Abject, crouching, and miserable, he was a greater degradation
the form he bore, than if he had been a loathsome wound from he
to heel.

His companion leisurely resumed his dressing, and cumjileted
glancing sometimes with a smile at the transformation he 1
effected, but never speaking once.

'• You'll not object," he said, when he was quite equipjjcd, '
venture further with us, Chuzzlewit, my friend ? "

His pale lips faintly stammered out a " No."

"Well said! That's like yourself. Do you know, I ■
thinking yesterday that your father-in-law, relying on your ad"
as a man of great sagacity in money matters, as no doubt you
Avould join us, if the thing were well presented to him. He
money ? "

"Yes, he has money."

•• Shall I leave Mr. Pecksniff to you? Will you undertake;
Mr. Pecksniff 1"

" ril try. I'll do my best."

"A thousand thanks," replied the other, clai)ping him uponf
shoulder. " Shall we walk down stairs 1 Mr. Nadgett 1 Fo '
us, if you please."

They went down in tliat order. Whatever Jonas felt in refer '^
to IMontague : whatever sense he had of being caged, and ba •»■



MARTIN CHUZZLEWIT. 571

apped, and having fiillen down into a pit of deepest ruin ;
ver thdnghts came crowding on his mind even at that early
of one terrible chance of escape, of one red glimmer in a sky
ckness ; he no more thought that the slinking figure half a
stairs behind him was his pursuing Fate, than that the other
at his side was his Good Angel.



CHAPTER XXXTX.

INIXG SOME FURTHER PARTICULARS OF THE DOMESTIC
ONOMY OF THE PINCHES ; WITH STRANGE NEWS FROM THE
FY, NARROWLY CONCERNING TuM.

EASANT little Ruth ! Cheerful, tidy, bustling, quiet little
No doll's house ever yielded greater delight to its young
ss, than little Ruth derived from her glorious donunion over
[angular parlour and the two small bed-roon)s.
be Tom's housekeeper. What dignity ! Housekeeping, ui)on
tnmonest terms, associated itself with elevated responsibilities
sorts and kinds ; but housekeeping for Tom, implied the
t complication of grave trusts and mighty charges. Well
she take the keys out of the little chiffonier which held the
d sugar ; and out of the two little damp cupboards down by
e-place, where the very black beetles got mouldy, and had
ine taken out of their backs by envious mildew ; and jingle
ujKMi a ring before Tom's eyes when he came down to break-
Well might she, laughing musically, put them up in that
l1 little pocket of licrs with a merry pride ! For it wna such
id novelty to be mistress of anything, that if she had been
Dst relentless and despotic of all little housekeepers, she might
pleaded just that much for her excuse, and have been honour-
icquitted.

far from being despotic, however, there was a coyness about
sry way of pouring out tiie tea, which Tom quite revelled in.
vhen she asked him what he would like to have for dinner,
Itered out "chops " as a reasonably good suggestion after their
ight's successful supper, Tom grew quite facetious and rallied
isperately.

don't know, Tom," said his sister, blushing, " I am not
confident, but I think I could make a beaf-steak pudding, if
], Tom."
n the whole catalogue of cookery, there is nothing 1 should



572 LIFE AND ADVENTURES OF

like so much as a beef-steak pudding ! " cried Tom : slapping
leg to give the greater force to this reply.

" Yes, dear, that's excelleut ! But if it should happen not
come quite right the first time," his sister faltered; "if it shoi
happen not to be a inidding exactly, but should turn out a stt
or a soup, or something of that sort, you'll not be vexed, Tc
will you?"

The serious way in which she looked at Tom ; the way
which Tom looked at her ; and the way in which she gradua
broke into a merry laugh at her own expense ; would h;
enchanted you.

"Why," said Tom, "this is capital It gives us a new, t
quite an uncommon interest in the dinner. AVe put into a lott'
for a beef-steak pudding, and it is impossible to say what we u
get. We may make some wonderful discover}^, perhaps, i
produce such a dish as never was known before."

" I shall not be at all surprised if we do, Tom," returned
sister, still laughing merrily, "or if it should prove to be sue''
dish as we shall not feel very anxious to produce again ; but
meat must come out of the saucepan at last, somehow or otl
you know. We can't cook it into nothing at all ; that's a gi
comfort. So if you like to venture, / will."

" I have not the least doubt," rejoined Tom, " that it will cc
out an excellent pudding ; or at all events, I am sure that I si
think it so. There is naturally something so handy and bi
about you, Ruth, that if you said you could make a bowl of fa'
less turtle soup, I should believe you."

And Tom was right. She was precisely that sort of pert
Nobody ought to have been able to resist her coaxing maun
and nobody had any business to try. Yet she never seemed
know it was her manner at all. That was the best of it.

Well ! she washed up the breakfast cups, chatting away
whole time, and telling Tom all sorts of anecdotes about the br;
and-copper founder ; put everything in its place ; made the n
as neat as herself; — you must not suppose its shape was halt
neat as hers though, or anything like it ; and brushed Tom's
hat round and round and round again, until it was as sleek as ,
Pecksniff". Then she discovered, all in a moment, that To,
shirt-collar was frayed at the edge ; and flying up stairs fO:
needle and thread, came flying down again with her thimble
and set it right with Avonderful expertuess ; never once sticl«
the needle into his face, although she was humming his pet t
from first to last, and beating time with the fingers of her
hand upon his neckcloth. She had no sooner done this, than



^[AKTIN CHUZZLEWIT. fwS

was again ; and there she stood once more, as brisk and busy
I bee, tying that compact little chin of hers into an equally
ipact little bonnet : intent on bustling out to the butcher's,
liout a minute's loss of time ; and inviting Tom to come and
the steak cut, with his own eyes. As to Tom, he was ready
50 anywliere : so off they trotted, arm-in-arm, as nimbly as you
use : saying to each other what a quiet street it was to lodge
and how very cheap, and what an airy situation.
ro see the butcher slap the steak, before he laid it on the
•k, and give his knife a sharpening, was to forget breakfast
antly. It was agreeable, too — it really was — to see him cut
ff, so smooth and juicy. There was nothing savage in the act,
lOugh the knife was large and keen ; it was a piece of art, high
; there was delicacy of touch, clearness of tone, skilful handling
:he subject, fine shading. It was the triumpli of mind over
ter ; quite.

Perhaps the greenest cabbage-leaf ever grown in a garden was
pped about tliis steak, before it was delivered over to Tom.

the butcher had a sentiment for his business, and knew how
^efine upon it. When he saw Tom putting the cabbage-leaf
> his pocket awkwardly, he begged to be allowed to do it for
; "for meat," he said, with some emotion, "must be humoured,
drove."

3ack they went to the lodgings again, after they had bought
e eggs, and flour, and such small matters ; and Tom sat



Online LibraryCharles DickensLife and adventures of Martin Chuzzlewit → online text (page 58 of 80)