Charles Dickens.

Life and adventures of Martin Chuzzlewit online

. (page 61 of 80)
Online LibraryCharles DickensLife and adventures of Martin Chuzzlewit → online text (page 61 of 80)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


asity, to look down upon the steamboats ; from which he
ed that she had attacked him : standing in the front row :
■sign, and as her natural enemy.

What a very ill-natured person you mu.st be 1 ' said Tom.
lie lady cried out fiercely, " Where's the pelisse!" — meaning
:on.«tabulary — and went on to say, shaking the handle of the
ella at Tom, that but for them fellers never being in the way
they was wanted, she'd have given him in charge, she would.
If they greased their whi.skers less, and minded the duties
1 they're paid so heavy for, a little more," she observed, *' no
leedn't be drove mad by scrouding so ! "
le had been grievously kncicked about, no doubt, for her



I



I



596 LIFE AND AD VENTURES OF

bonnet was bent into the shape of a cocked hat. Being a fat lit
woman, too, she was in a state of great exhaustion and intei
heat. Instead of pursuing the altercation, therefore, Tom civi
inquired what boat she wanted to go on board of.

"I suppose," returned the lady, "as nobody but yourself f
want to look at a steam package, without wanting to go a boardi
of it, can tliey ! Booby ! "

"Which one do you want to look at then?" said Tc
" We'll make room for you if we can. Don't be so ill-tempered

" No blessed creetur as ever I was with in trying tim(
returned the lady, someAvhat softened, " and they're a many in tl
numbers, ever brought it as a charge again myself that I was a
thin' but mild and equal in my spirits. Never mind a contradict
of me, if you seems to feel it does you good, ma'am, I often &i:
for well you know that Sairey may be trusted not to give it V:
again. But I will not denige that I am worrited and wexed "
day, and with good reagion, Lord forbid ! "

By this time, Mrs. Gamp (for it was no other than that exj
enced practitioner) had, with Tom's assistance, squeezed
worked herself into a small corner between Ruth and the r
where, after breathing very hard for some little time, and perfo
ing a short series of dangerous evolutions with the umbrella,
managed to establish herself pretty comfortably.

" And which of all them smoking monsters is the Ankwi -
boat, I wonder. Goodness me ! " cried Mrs. Gamp.

" What boat did you want "? " asked Ruth.

" The Ankworks package," Mrs. Gamp replied. " I will A
deceive you, my sweet. Why should I ? "

" That is the Antwerp packet in the middle," said Ruth.

" And I wish it was in Jonadge's belly, I do," cried Mrs. Ga :
appearing to confound the prophet with the whale in i«
miraculous aspiration.

Ruth said nothing in reply ; but, as ]\Irs. Gamp, laying -T
chin against the cool iron of the rail, continued to look intent it
the Antwerp boat, and every now and then to give a little gii)
she inquired whether any child of hers was going abroad it
morning 1 Or perhaps her husband, she said kindly. ,

" Which shows," said Mrs. Gamp, casting up her eyes, "wl »
little way you've travelled into this wale of life, mydeary.ig
creetur. As a good friend of mine has frequent made reiuai to
me, wliich her name, my love, is Harris, Mrs. Harris througl'i*
square and up the steps a turnin' round by the tobacker shop, )li
Sairey, Sairey, little do we know wot lays afore us I ' ' fS-
Harris, ma'am,' I says, 'not much, it's true, but more thanou



.AIAKTIX CHUZZLEWIT. 597

ro. Our oak-il;itioiis, ma'am,' I says, * respectin" wut tlie
»r of a family will be, comes most times witliin one, ami
r than yoii would suppoge, exact.' ' Sairey,' says Mrs. Harris,
iwful way, 'Tell me wot is my individgle number.' 'No,
larris,' I says to her, 'ex-cuge me, if you please. j\Iy own,'
, ' has fallen out of three-pair backs, and had damp doorsteps
[ on their lungs, and one was turned up smilin' in a bedstead,
nown. Therefore, ma'am,' I says, 'seek not to proticii)ate,
ke 'em as they come and as they go.' Mine," said Mrs. Gamp,
; is all gone, my dear young chick. And as to husbands,
; a Avooden leg gone likeways home to its account, which in
istancy of walkin' into wine vaults, and never comin' out
'till fetched by force, was quite as weak as flesh, if not
r."

len she had delivered this oration, Mrs. Gamp leaned her
pon the cool iron again ; and looking intently at the Antwerp
'; shook her head and groaned.

wouldn't," said Mrs. Gamp, " I wouldn't be a man and have
, think upon my mind ! — but nobody as owned the name of
;ould do it ! "

iu and his sister glanced at each other ; and Ruth, after a
it's hesitation, asked Mrs. Gamp what troubled her so much.
ly dear," returned that lady, dropping her voice, " you are
an't you ? "

th laughed, blushed, and said "Yes."

Vorse luck," proceeded Mrs. Gamp, " for all parties ! But
is married, and in the marriage state ; and there is a dear
creetur a comin' down this mornin' to that very package,
is no more fit to trust herself to sea, than nothin' is ! "
} paused here, to look all over the deck of the packet in
)n, and on the steps leading down to it, and on the gangways,
iig to have thus assured herself that the object of her
seration had not yet arrived, she raised her eyes gradually
the top of the escape-pipe, and indignantly apostrophised the

'h drat you !" said Mrs. Gamp, shaking her uinl)rella at it,
•e a nice spluttering noisy monster for a delicate young
r to go and be a passinger by ; an't you ! You never do no
in that way, do you ? With your hammering, and roaring,
ssing, and lamp-iling, you brute ! Them Confusion steamers,"
Irs. Gamp, shaking her umbrella again, " has done more to
us out of our reg'lar work and bring ewents on at times when
Y counted on 'em (especially them screeching railroad ones),
ill the other frights that ever was took. I have hecrd of



i



598 LIFE AND ADVENTURES OF

one young man, a guard upon a railway, onh^ three year opened
well does Mrs. Harris know him, which indeed he is her c
relation by her sister's marriage with a master sawyer — as
godfather at this present time to six-and-twenty blessed lit
strangers, equally unexpected, and all on 'um named after t
Ingeins as was the cause. Ugh ! " said Mrs. Gamp, resuming 1
apostrophe, " one might easy know you was a man's inventic
from your disregardlessness of the weakness of our natm-s, so o
might, you brute ! "

It would not have been unnatural to suppose, from the fu'st p:
of Mrs. Gamp's lamentations, that she was connected with t
stage-coaching or post-horsing trade. She had no means of judgi
of the effect of her concluding remarks upon her young companic
for she interrupted herself at this point, and exclaimed :

"There she identically goes ! Poor sweet young creetur, th:
she goes, like a lamb to the sacrifige ! If there's any illness wli
that wessel gets to sea," said Mrs. Gamp, prophetically, " j
murder, and I'm the witness for the persecution." i

She was so very earnest on the subject, that Tom's sister (bi
as kind as Tom himself), could not help saying something to
in reply.

"Pray which is the lady," she inquired, "in whom you ap
much interested 1 "

" There ! " groaned Mrs. Gamp. " There she goes? ! A cro.-
the little wooden bridge at this minute. She's a slippiu' on a :
of orange-peel!" tightly clutching her umbrella. "What am
it give me ! "

"Do you mean the lady who is with that man wrapped p
from head to foot in a large cloak, so that his face is ah it
hidden ? "

" Well he may hide it ! " Mrs. Gamp replied. " He's good'U
to be ashamed of himself. Did you see him a jerkiug of her wt,
then 1 "

" He seems to be hasty with her, indeed."

" Now he's a taking of her down iuto the close cabin ! " U
Mrs. Gamp, impatiently. "What's the man about! Thet'*
is in him I think. Why can't he leave her in the open airl",

He did not, whatever his reason was, but led her quickly ( f
and disappeared himself, without loosening his cloak, or pausu.""
the crowded deck one moment longer than was necessary to ai
their way to that part of the vessel.

Tom had not heard this little dialogue ; for his attentior^'^'
been engaged in an unexpected manner. A hand upon his s "
had caused him to look round just when Mrs. Gamp conclude lef



MARTIN CHUZZLEAVIT. 599

ophe to the steam-engine ; and on his right arm, Ruth being
left, lie found their landlord ; to his great surprise.

was not so much surprised at the man's being there, as at
,viug got close to him so quietly and swiftly ; for another

had been at his elbow one instant before ; and he had not

meantime beeu conscious of any change or pressure in the
f people among whom he stood. He and Ruth had frequently
ied how noiselessly this landlord of tlieirs came into and
out of his own house ; but Tom was not the less amazed to
u at his elbow now.

beg your pardon, Mr. Pinch,"' he said in his car. " I am

infirm, and out of breath, and my eyes are not very good.

not as young as I w^as, Sir. You don't see a gentleman in

e cloak dowu yonder, with a lady on his arm ; a lady in a

id a black shawl ; do you 1 "

he did not, it was curious that in speaking he should have

I out from all the crowd the very people whom he described :

lould have glanced hastily from them to Tom, as if he were

g to direct his Avauderiug eyes.

L gentleman in a large cloak : " said Tom, "and a lady in a

shawl ! Let me see ! "

'es, yes ! " replied the other, with keen impatience. " A

man muffled up from head to foot — strangely muffled up for

morning as this — like an invalid, with his hand to his face
s minute, perhai)s. No, no, no ! not there," he added,
ing Tom's gaze ; " the other way ; in that direction ; down
•." Again he indicated, but this time in his hurry, with his
itched finger, the very spot on which the progress of these
s was checked at that moment.

'here are so many people, and so mucli motion, and so many
3," said Tom, " that I find it difficult to — no, I really don't
gentleman in a large cloak, and a lady in a black shawl,
s a lady in a red shawl over there ! "
ro, 110, no !" cried his landlord, pointing eagerly again, "not

Tiie other way : the other way. Look at the cabin steps.
! left. They must be near the cabin steps. Do you see the
steps ? There's the bell ringing already ! Do you see the

tay ! " said Tom, "you're right. Look ! there they go now.
t tlie gentleman you mean 1 Descending at this minute ;
he folds of a great cloak trailing down after him '! "
'he very man ! " returned the other, not looking at wliut Tom
il out, however, but at Tom's own face. " \Viil you do me
ness, Sir, a great kindness ] Will you put that letter in his



600 . LIFE AND ADVENTURES OF

hand ? Only give him that 1 He expects it. I am charged
do it by my employers, but I am late in finding him, and, not beii
as young as I have been, should never be able to make my way i
board and off the deck again in time. Will you pardon ii
boldness, and do me that great kindness 1 "

His liands shook, and his face bespoke the utmost interest a:
agitation, as he pressed the letter upon Tom, and pointed to :
destination, like the Tempter in some grim old carving.

To hesitate in the performance of a good-natured or cornp;
sionate office, was not in Tom's way. He took the lett«
whispered Ruth to wait till he returned, which Avould be imme
ately ; and ran down the stej^s with all the expedition he cor
make. There were so many people going down, so many otbii
coming up, such heavy goods iu com'se of transit to and fro, sv'
a ringing of bells, blowing-off of steam, and shouting of me
voices, that he had much ado to force his way, or keep in miud
which boat he was going. But, he reached the right one w
good speed, and, going down the cabin-stairs immediately, deser
the object of his search standing at the further end of the salo
with his back towards him, reading some notice which was hi
against the wall. As Tom advanced to give him the letter,
started, hearing footsteps, and turned round.

What was Tom's astonishment to find in him the man v
whom he had had the conflict in the field, poor Mercy's husbn
Jonas !

Tom understood him to say, what the devil did he want ;
it was not easy to make out what he said ; he spoke so indistint

" I w-aut nothing with you for myself," said Tom ; "I
asked a moment since to give you this letter. You w^ere poii
out to me, but I didn't know you in your strange dress. Take i

He did so, opened it, and read the writing on the inside. 'Ij
contents were evidently very brief; not more perhaps than |3
line ; but they struck upon him like a stone from a sling. 3
reeled back as he read. ;

His emotion was so different from any Tom had ever seen bel s
that he stopped involuntarily. Momentary as his state'f
indecision w'as, the bell ceased while he stood there; and a hce
voice calling down the steps, inquired if there was any one to
ashore.

"Ye.s," cried Jonas, "I — I am coming. Give me t -
AVhere's that woman ! Come back ; come back here."

He threw oijen another door as he spoke, and dragged, ra t
than led, her forth. She was pale and frightened, and amaze o
see her old acquaintance ; but had no time to speak, for they ""^



ISIARTIN CHUZZLEWIT. 601

t; a orcat stir above ; and Jonas drew her lapidly towards

ick.

Vhere are we going ? Wiiat is the matter I "

Ve are going back," said Jonas, wildly. " I have changed

iud, I can't go. Don't question me, or I shall be the death

.1, or some one else. Stop there ! Stop ! We're for the

Do you iiear 1 We're for the shore ! "
: turned, even in the madness of his hurry, and scowling
• back at Tom, shook his clenched hand at him. There are
lany human faces capable of the exi^ression with which he
panied that gesture.

dragged her up, and Tom followed them. Across the deck,
he side, along the crazy plank, and up the steps, he dragged
3rcely ; not bestowing any look on her, but gazing upwards
; while among the faces on the wharf. Suddenly he turned

and said to Tom with a tremendous oath :
Vhere is he ? "

fore Tom, in his indignation and amazement, could return an
r to a question he so little understood, a gentleman approached
behind, and saluted Jonas Chuzzlewit by name. He was a
man of foreign appearance, with a black moustache and
ers ; and addressed him with a polite composure, strangely
nt from his own distracted and desperate manner,
.'huzzlewit, my good fellow ! " said the gentleman, raising
,t in compliment to Mrs. Chuzzlewit, "I ask your i)ardon
y tliousand times. I am most unwiUing to interfere between
id a domestic trip of this natiu-e (ahvays so very charming
ifreshing, I know, although I have not the happiness to be a
tic man myself, which is the great infelicity of my existence) :
16 bee-hive, my dear friend, the bee-hive — will you introduce

■"his is Mr. Montague," said Jonas, whom the words appeared
ike.

["he most unhappy and most penitent of men, Mrs. Chuzzle-
pursued that gentleman, "for having Ijeen the means of
ig tliis excursion ; but as I tell my friend, tlic bee-hive ; tlie
ve. You projected a short little continental trip, my dear
, of course 'i "

nas maintained a dogged silence.

^lay I die," cried Montague, "but I am shocked ! Upon my
am shocked. But that confounded bee-hive of ours in tlie
nust be paramount to every other consideration, when tlicre
ley to be made ; and that is my best excuse. Here is a very
ar old female dropping curtseys on my right," said l^Iontaguc,



602 LIFE AND ADVENTURES OF

breaking off in his discourse, and looking at Mrs. Gamp, " who
not a friend of mine. Does anybody know her ? "

" Ah ! Well they knows me, bless their precious hearts ! " ga
Mrs. Gamp; "not forgettin' your own merry one, Sir, and loi
may it be so ! Wishin' as every one " (she delivered this in tl
form of a toast or sentiment) " was as merry, and as handsoui
looking, as a little bird has whispered me a certain gent is, whii
I will not name for fear I give offence Avhere none is due ! 1
precious lady," here she stopped short in her merriment, for s!
had until now affected to be vastly entertained, "you're too pj
by half ! "

" You are here too, are you?" mattered Jonas. " Ecod, the
are enough of you."

"I hope. Sir," returned Mrs. Gamp, dropping an indigna
curtsey, "as no bones is broke by me and Mrs. Harris walk
down upon a jDublic wharf. Which was the very words she s;
to me (although they was the last I ever had to speak) was the:
' Sairey,' she says, 'is it a public wharf?' ' Mrs. Harris,' I mal
answer, ' can you doubt it 1 You have know'd me, now, nia'a
eight and thirty year ; and did you ever know me go, or wish
go, where I was not made welcome, say the words.' ' No, Sain
Mrs. Harris says, 'contrairy quite.' And well she knows it, t
I am but a poor woman, but I've been sought arter, Sir, thoi
you may not think it. I've been knocked up at all hours of
night, and warned out by a many landlords, in consequence
being mistook for Fire. I goes out working for my bread,
true, but I maintains my indepency, Avith your kind leave, ;
which I will till death. I has my feelins as a woman. Sir, am
have been a mother likewaj's ; but touch a pipkin as belong.-
me, or make the least remarks on what I eats or drinks, ;
though you was the favouritest young, for'ard, hussy of a serv:
gal as ever come into a house, either you leaves the place, or
My earnins is not great. Sir, but I will not be impoged uij.
Bless the babe, and save the mother, is my motter. Sir; buit
makes so free as add to that. Don't try no impogician with J
Nuss, for she will not abear it ! " '

Mrs. Gamp concluded by drawing her shawl tightly over hei;f
with both hands, and, as usual, referring to I\Irs. Harris for 1
corroboration of these particulars. She had that peculiar tremb'^
of the head, which, in ladies of her excitable nature, may be tai
as a sure indication of their breaking out again very shortly; y*^
Jonas made a timely interposition.

"As you are here," he said, "you had better see to her, 'd
take her home. I am otherwise engaged." He said notlg



MARTIN CHUZZLEWIT. 608

; but looked at Moutague, as if to give liiiu notice tliat he

eady to attend him.

[ am sorry to take you away," said Montague.

nas gave him a sinister look, wliich long lived in Tom's

ry, and which he often recalled afterwards.

[ am, upon my life," said Montague. " Why did you make

essary 1 "

ith the same dark glance as before, Jonas replied, after a

nt's silence,

Che necessity is none of my making. You have brought it

yourself."

i said nothing more. He said even this as if he were bound,
a the other's power, but had a sullen and suppressed devil
1 him, which he could not quite resist. His very gait, as
(valked away together, was like that of a fettered man ; but,
ig to work out at his clenched hands, knitted brows, and
it lips, was the same imprisoned devil still,
ley got into a handsome cabriolet, whicli was waiting for

and drove away.

16 wliole of this extraordinary scene had passed so rapidly,
lie tumult which prevailed around was so unconscious of any
ssion from it, that, although Tom had been one of tlie chief
;, it was like a dream. No one had noticed him after they
?ft the packet. He had stood behind Jonas, and so near him,
he could not help hearing all that passed. He had stood

with his sister on his arm, expecting and hoping to have an
tuuity of explaining his strange share in this yet stranger
ess. But Jonas had not raised liis eyes from the ground ; no
Ise had even looked towards him ; and before he could resolve
y course of action, they were all gone.

B gazed round for his landlord. But he had done that more
once already ; and no such man was to be seen. He was
pursuing this search with his eyes, when he saw a hand
ning to him from a hackney-coach ; and hurrying towards it,

it was Merry's. She addressed him hurriedly, but bent out
! window, that she might not be overheard by her companion,
Gamp.

^Vhat is it?" she said, "Good Heaven, what is it? Why
le teU me last night to prepare for a long journey, and
have you brought us back like criminals? Dear Mr.
I ! " she clasped her hands distractedly, " be merciful to
Whatever this dreadful secret is, be merciful, and God will
you I "
[f any power of mercy lay with me," cried Tom, "trust mo,



604 LIFE AND ADVENTURES OF

you shouldirt ask in vain. Bnt I am far more ignorant and we;
than you."

She -withdrew into the coach again, and he saw the hand wavii
towards him for a moment ; but whether in reproachfuhiess •
incredulity, or misery, or grief, or sad adieu, or what else, he cou
not, being so hurried, understand. She was gone now ; and Ru
and he wei-e left to walk away, and wonder.

Had Mr. Nadgett appointed the man who never came, to m(
him upon London Bridge, that morning 1 He was certainly looki
over the i)arapet, and down upon the steamboat-wharf at tl
moment. It could not have been for pleasure ; he never toi
pleasure. Xo. He must have had some business there. i

I



CHAPTER XLI.

MR. JONAS AND HIS FRIEND, ARRIVING AT A PLEASANT UNDi;
STANDING, SET FORTH UPON AN ENTERPRISE.

The office of the Anglo-Bengalee Disinterested Loan and I
Insurance Company being near at hand ; and ]\Ir. ]\Iontague driv
Jonas straight there ; they had very little way to go. But
journey might have been one of several hours' duration, with
provoking a remark from either : for it was clear that Jonas
not mean to break the silence which prevailed between them, -
that it was not, as yet, his dear friend's cue to tempt him i
conversation.

He had thrown aside his cloak, as having now no motive
concealment, and with that garment huddled on his knees, sai
far removed from his companion as the limited space in sue
carriage would allow. There was a striking ditference in
manner, compared with what it had been, within a few minii
when Tom encountered him so unexpectedly on board the pad .
or when the ugly change had fallen on him in Mr. Montag 5
dressing-room. He had the aspect of a man found out, and I'l
at bay ; of being baffled, hunted, and beset ; but there was no,»
dawning and increasing purpose in his face, which changed it ^y
much. It was gloomy, distrustful, lowering; pale with an!',
and defeat ; it still was humbled, abject, cowardly, and me ;
but let the conflict go on as it would, there was one strong purje
wrestling with every emotion of his mind, and casting the wl e
series down as they arose.

Not prepossessing in appearance, at the best of times, it ry



^[ARTIX CflUZZLEWIT. 605

aclily supposed that he was not so now. He had left deep
5 of his front teeth in his nether lip; and those tokens of the
ion he had lately undergone, improved his looks as little as
javy corrugations in his forehead. But he was self-possessed

unnaturally self-possessed, indeed, as men quite otherwise
brave are known to be in desperate extremities ; and when
irriage stopped, he waited for no invitation, but leapt hardily
nd went up stairs.

le chairman followed him ; and closing the board-room door
»n as they had entered, threw himself upon a sofa. Jonas
before the window, looking down into the street ; and leajied
it the sash, resting his head upon his arms.
Phis is not handsome, Chuzzlewit ! " said IMontague, at
1. " Not handsome, upon my soul ! "

iVhat would you have me do ? " he answered, looking round
tly ; " what do you expect 1 "

;;!onfidence, my good fellow. Some confidence 1 " said
igue, in an injured tone.

3cod ! You show great confidence in me," retorted Jonas.
I't you?"

Do I not ? " said his companion, raising his head, and looking
n, but he had turned again. "Do I not 1 Have I not
ed to you the easy schemes I have formed for our advantage ;
dvantage, mind ; not mine alone ; and what is my i-eturn 1
ipted flight ! "'

low do you know that ? Who said I meant to fly 1 "
iVho said ! Come, come. A foreign boat, my friend, an
hour, a figiu-e wrapped up for disguise ! Who said ! If you

mean to jilt me, why Avere you there"? If you didn't mean

rne, why did you come back ? "
' came back," said Jonas, "to avoid disturbance."
foil were wise," rejoined his friend.

nas stood quite silent; still looking down into the street,
?sting his head upion his arms.

Sow, Chuzzlewit," said IMontague, "notwithstanding what
i-sscd, I will be phun with you. Are you attending to uw,
I I only see your back."
'' hear you. Go on 1 "

say that notwithstanding what has passed, I will l>c plain

fOU."

fou said that before. And I have told you once, I heard
ly it. Go on."

fou are a little chafed, but I can make allowance for that ;
.ni, fortunately, myself in the very best of tempers. Now,



606 LIFE AND ADYEXTURES OF

let us see how circumstances stand. A clay or two ago, I mentio:
to you, my clear fellow, that I thought I had discovered "



Online LibraryCharles DickensLife and adventures of Martin Chuzzlewit → online text (page 61 of 80)