Charles Dickens.

Life and adventures of Martin Chuzzlewit online

. (page 66 of 80)
Online LibraryCharles DickensLife and adventures of Martin Chuzzlewit → online text (page 66 of 80)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


conciliate Mr. Pecksniff, but, on the contrary, was more booi
and rude to him than usual, that gentleman, so far from suspect
his real design, laid himself out to be attacked with advanti'
For it is in the nature of a knave to think the tools with wll
he works indispensable to knavery; and knowing what he W(
do himself in such a case, Mr. Pecksniff argued, "if this yo
man wanted anything of me for his own ends, he would be pi
and deferential."

The more Jonas repelled liira in his hints and inquiries, i
more solicitous, therefore, Mr. Pecksniff became to be initiated
the golden mysteries at which he had obscurely glauced. ^
should there be cold and worldly secrets, he observed, \>%i\
relations 1 What was life without confidence '? If the ch
husband of his daughter, the man to whom he had delivered ,e
with so much pride and hope, such bounding and such beai|i
joy : if he were not a green spot in the barren waste of life, wr
was that Oasis to be found 1 ;

Little did Mr. Pecksniff" think on what a very green spoil
lilanted one foot at that moment ! Little did he foresee whe li
said, " All is but dust ! " how very shortly he would come Of
with his own !

Inch by inch, in his grudging and ill-conditioned way : sust^jie
to the life, for the ho])e of making IMr. Pecksniff suffer in '"^^
tender phice^the jpocket, where Jonas smarted so terribly hir:'l
gavelithi an additional and malicious interest in the wiles hf;*'"
set on to practise ; inch by inch, and bit by bit, Jonas rJie



MARTIX CHUZZLEWIT. 6-19

iweil the dazzling prospects of the Anglo-Bengalee cstablishnicnt
escape him, than paraded them before his greedy listener. And
the same niggardly spirit, he left ]\Ir. Peeksniif to infer, if he
se (which he did choose, of course), that a consciousness of nut
■iug any great natural gifts of speech and manner himself,
dered him desirous to have the credit of introducing to I\Ir.
ntague some one who was w'ell endowed in those resjiects, and
atone for his own deficiencies. Otherwise, he muttered discon-
tedly, he would have seen his beloved father-in-law " far enough
" before he would have taken him into his confidence.
Primed in this artful manner, Mr. Pecksniff presented liimself
ilinner-time in such a state of suavity, benevolence, cheerfulness,
iteness, and cordiality, as even he had perhaps never attained
ore. The frankness of the country gentleman, the refinement
the artist, the good-humoured allowance of the man of the
rid ; jihilanthropy, forbearance, piety, toleration, all blended
ether in a flexible adaptability to anything and everything ;
re expressed in Mr. Pecksnift', as he shook hands with the great
culator and capitalist.

"Welcome, respected Sir," said Mr. Pecksnirt", "to our humble
lage ! We are a simple people ; primitive clods, Mr. Montague ;
t we can appreciate the honour of your visit, as my dear son-in-
: can testify. It is very strange," said Mr. Pecksnitt', pressing
hand almost reverentiallj-, "but I seem to know you. That
rering forehead, my dear Jonas," said Mr. Pecksnifi' aside, " and
)se clustering masses of rich hair — I must have seen you, my
ir Sir, in the sparkling throng."
Nothing was more probable, they all agreed.
"I could have wished," said Mr. Pecksnitt", "to have had the
lOur of introducing you to an elderly inmate of our house : to
: uncle of our friend. Mr. Chuzzlewit, Sir, would have been
»ud indeed to have taken you by the hand."
"Is the gentleman here now?" asked Montague, turning deeply
1.

" He is," said ]Mr. Pecksniff.
"You said nothing about that, Chuzzlewit."
"I didn't suppose you'd care to hear of it," returned Jonas,
'on wouldn't care to know him, I can pi-omise you."
"Jonas! my dear Jonas!" I'emonstrated ]\Ir. I'ccksnilf.
teally \ "

"Oh! it's all very well for you to sjtcak uj) lor him, ' said
lias. "You have nailed him. You'll get a fortune by him."
"Oho ! Is the wind in that quarter ! " cried Montague. " Ha,
ha!" and here they all laughed — especially Mr. Pecksnitf.



650 LIFE AND ADVENTURES OF

" No, no 1 '' said that gentleman, clapping his son-in-law plaj
fully upon the shoulder. " You must not believe all that m
young relative says, Mr. Montague. You may believe him i
official business, and trust him in official business, but you muf-
not attach importance to his Hights of fancy."

" Upon my life, Mr. Pecksniff," cried Montague, " I attach tli
greatest importance to that last observation of his. I trust au
hope it's true. Money cannot be turned and turned again quick!
enough in the ordinary course, Mr. Pecksniff. There is nothic
like building our fortunes on the weaknesses of mankind."

"Oh fie ! Oh fie ! Oh fie, for .shame I" cried Mr, Pecksni)
But they all laughed again — especially Mr. Pecksnitt'.

" I give you my honour that ive do it," said Montague.

"Oh fie, fie!" cried Mr. Pecksuift'. "You are very pleasaui
That I am sure you don't ! That I am sure you don't ! Ho,
can you, you know ? "

Agahi they all laughed in concert ; and again Mr. Pecksu
laughed especially.

This was very agreeable indeed. It was confidential, eas
straightforward : and still left Mr. Pecksniff in the position
being in a gentle way the Mentor of the party. The greatc
achievements in the article of cookery that the Dragon had ev
performed, were set before them ; the oldest and best wines in t
Dragon's cellar saw the light on that occasion ; a thousand bubbl
indicative of the wealth and station of Mr. Montague in the dept
of his pursuits, were constantly rising to the surface of the ci
versation ; and they were as frank and merry as three honest ni
could be. Mr. Pecksniff" thouglit it a pity (he said so) that I\
Montague should think lightly of mankind and their weakness:
He was anxious upon this subject ; his mind ran upon it ; in C)
way or other he was constantly coming back to it ; he must msl
a convert of him, he said. And as often as Mr. Montague repea':
his sentiment about building fortunes on the weaknesses of m]
kind, and added frankly, " We do it I " just as often Mr. Pecksi;:'
repeated " Oh fie ! Oh fie, for shame ! I am sure you don't. Hj'
'•(1)1 you, you know 1 " laying a greater stress eacli time on th;'
last words.

The frequent repetition of this playfid inquiry on the partif
Mr. Pecksniff", led at last to playful answers on the part of If
Montague ; but after some little sharp-shooting on both sides, M-
Pecksniff' became grave, almost to tears ; observing that if !'•
Montague would give him leave, he would drink the health of ;S
young kinsman, Mr. Jonas : congratulating him upon the valu£;8
and distinguished friendship he had formed, but envying him,e



MARTIN CHUZZLEAVIT. 651

d confess, his usefulness to his fellow-creatures. For, if he
Tstood the objects of that Institution with which he was
y and advantageously connected- — knowing them l)ut iiuper-
y — they were calculated to do Good ; and for his (Mr. Peck-
's) part, if he could in any way promote them, he thought he
d be able to lay his head ui^on his pillow every night, with
bsolute certainty of going to sleep at once,
'he transition from this accidental remark (for it was quite
lental, and had fallen from Mr. Pecksniff in the openness of
oul), to the discussion of the subject as a matter of business,
easy. Books, papers, statements, tables, calculations of various
s, were soon spread out before them ; and as they were all
ed with one object, it is not surprising that they should all
: tended to one end. But still, whenever Montague enlarged
I the profits of the office, and said that as long as there were
i upon the wing it must succeed, Mr. Pecksniff mildly said
I fie ! " — and might indeed have remonstrated with him, but

he knew he was joking. Mr. Pecksniff did know he was
ig ; because he said so.
'here never had beeu before, and there never would be again,

an opijortuuity for the investment of a considerable sum (the

of advantage increased in proportion to the amount invested),
t that moment. The only time that had at all approached it,
the time when Jonas had come into the concern ; which made

ill-natm-ed now, and inclined him to pick out a doubt in tiiis
L', and a flaw in that, and grumblingly to advise ]\Ir. I'ecksniff
hink better of it. The sum which would complete the pro-
torship in this snug concern, was nearly equal to Mr. Peck-
's whole hoard : not counting Mr. Chuzzlewit, that is to say,
m he looked upon as money in the Bank, the possession of
'h inclined him the more to make a dash with his own private
ts for the capture of such a whale as Mr. Montague described.

returns began almost immediatelj', and were immense. Tlic
of it was, that Mr. Pecksniff agreetl to become the last partner

proprietor in the Anglo-Bengalee, and made an a])pointment
line with j\Ir. Montague, at Salisbury, on the next day but

then and there to complete the negotiation.

t took .so long to bring the subject to this head, that it was

ly midnight when they parted. When Mr. Pecksniff walked

n stairs to the door, he found Mrs. Lupin standing there,

ing out.

'Ah, my good friend!"' he said: "not a-bed yet! Conteni-

iiig the stars, Mrs. Lupin ? "

■It's a beautiful starlight night, Sir."



652 LIFE AND ADVENTURES OF

"A beautiful starlight night," said Mr. Pecksnitt", looking ii

" Behold the planets, how they shine ! Behold the those ti

persons wlio were here this morning, have left your house, I ho]
Mrs. Lupin 1 "

"Yes, Sir. They are gone."

" I am glad to hear it," said Mr. Pecksniff. " Behold t
wonders of the firmament, Mrs. Lupin ! How glorious is tl
scene ! When I look up at those shining orbs, I think that ea
of them is winking to the other to take notice of the vanity
men's pursuits. My fellow-men ! " cried Mr. Pecksniff, sliaking 1
head in pity ; "you are much mistaken ; my wormy relatives, y
are much deceived ! The stars are perfectly contented (I suppc
so) in their several spheres. Why are not you 1 Oh ! do \
strive and struggle to enrich yourselves, or to get the better
each other, my deluded friends, but look up there, with me ! "

Mrs. Lupin shook her head, and heaved a sigh. It was ve
affecting.

" Look up there, with me ! " repeated Mr. Pecksniff, stretchi
out his hand ; " with me, an humble individual who is also
Insect like yourselves. Can silver, gold, or precious stones, spar!
like those constellations ! I think not. Theu do not thirst
silver, gold, or i^recious stones ; but look up there, with me ! "

With these words, the good man patted Mrs. Lupin's ha
between his own, as if he would have added " think of this, i
good woman ! " and walked away in a sort of ecstasy or raptu
with his hat under his arm.

Jonas sat in the attitude in which Mr. Pecksniff had left lii
gazing moodily at his friend : who, surrounded by a heap
documents, was writing something on an oblong slip of paper.

" You mean to wait at Salisbury over the day after to-morr(
do you, then 1 " said Jonas.

"You heard our appointment," returned Montague, with
i-aising his eyes. " In any case I should have waited to see al
the boy."

They appeared to have changed places again ; Montague be
in high spirits ; and Jonas gloomy and lowering.

"You don't want me, I suppose?" said Jonas.

" I want you to put your name here," he returned, glancin.i i
him with a smile, " as soon as I have filled up the stamp. I i '>
as well have your note of hand for that extra capital. Tliat'.«
I want. If you wish to go home, I can manage Mr. Peeks'^
now, alone. There is a perfect understanding between us." J

Jonas sat scowling at him as he wrote, in silence. Whenjf
had iiuished his writing, and had dried it on the blotting-p£ «i



MARTIN CHUZZLEWIT. Gr.3

his travelling-(le!~k : he looked up, and to.ssed the pen towards
11.

" What, not a day's grace, not a day's trust, eh ? " said J<inas,
;terly. "Not after the pains I have taken with to-niglit's
>rkf'

" To-night's work was a part of our bargain," replied Montague;
ind so was this.'

"You drive a hard bargain," said Jonas, advancing to the table,
i'ou know best. Give it here ! ''

Montague gave him the paper. After pausing as if he could
t make up his mind to put his name to it, Jonas dipped his pen
stily in the nearest inkstand, and began to w'rite. But he had
u'cely marked the paper when he started back, in a panic.

•' Why, what the devil's this ? " he said. " It's bloody ! "

He had dipped the pen, as another moment shewed, into red
V. But he attached a strange degree of importance to the
stake. He asked how it had come there, who had brought it,
ly it had been brought ; and looked at Montague, at first, as if

tiiought he had put a trick upon him. Even when he used a
ferent pen, and the right ink, he made some scratches on another
per first, as half-believing they would turn red also.

"Black enough, this time," he said, handing the note to
untague. " Good-bye ! "

" Going now ! How do you mean to get away from here ? "

" I shall cross early in the morning, to the high road, before
u are out of bed ; and catch the day-coach, going up. Crood-
e!"

" You are in a hurry ! "

"I have Something to do," said Jonas. " Good-bye ! "

His friend looked after him as he went out, in surprise, which
;i<lnally gave place to an air of satisfaction and relief.

" It happens all the better. It brings about what I wanted,
thout any difficultv. I shall travel home alone."



CHAPTER XLV.

WHICH TOM PINCH AND HIS SISTf:K TAKK A LITTLK PL?:ASUUE ;
BUT QUITE IN A DOMESTIC WAY, AND WITH NO CKKE.MONV
ABOUT IT.

Tom Pinch and his sister having to part, for the dispatch of
morning's business, immediately after tlie dispersion of the



(554 LIFE AND ADA'ENTURES OF

other actors iu the scene upon the Wharf with which the read
has been ah-eady made acquainted, had no opportunity of discussu
the subject at that time. But Tom, in his solitary office, ai
Ruth, iu the triangular parlour, thought about nothing else s
day; and, when their hour of meeting in the afternoon approache
they were very full of it, to be sure.

There was a little plot between them, that Tom should alwa;
come out of the Temple by one way; and that was, past tl
fountain. Coming through Fountain Court, he was just to gian-
down the steps leading into Garden Court, and to look once £
round him ; and if Ruth had come to meet him, there he wou
see her ; not sauntering, you understand (on account of the clerks
but coming briskly up, with the best little laugh upon her fa
that ever 2)layed iu opposition to the fountain, and beat it all
nothing. For, fifty to one, Tom had been looking for her in tl
wrong direction, and had c^uite given her up, while she had be(
tripping towards him from the first : jingling that little reticule I
iiers (with all the keys in it) to attract his wandering observatio

Whether there was life enough left in the slow vegetation
Fountain Court for the smoky shrubs to have any consciousness
the brightest and purest-hearted little woman iu the world, is
question for gardeners, and those who are learned in the loves
plants. But, that it was a good thing for that same paved ya
to have such a delicate little figure flitting through it; that
passed like a smile from the grimy old houses, and the worn fl;
stones, and left them duller, darker, sterner than before ; there
no sort of doubt. The Temple fountain might have leaped
twenty feet to greet the spring of hopeful maidenhood, that in 1
person stole on, sparkling, through the dry and dusty channels
the Law; the chiriDing sparrows, bred in Temple chmks a
crannies, might have held their peace to listen to imaginary si
larks, as so fresh a little creature passed; the dingy boughs, unus
to droop, otherwise than in their puny growth, might have k
down in a kindred gracefulness, to shed their benedictions on 1
graceful head ; old love letters, shut up in iron boxes in t
neighbouring offices, and made of no account among the heaps
family papers into which they had strayed, and of which, in th!
degeneracy, they formed a part, might have stirred and flutteilj
with a moment's recollection of tlieir ancient tenderness, as f'
went lightly by. Anything might liave happened that did i
happen, and never will, for the love of Ruth.

Something happened, too, upon the afternoon of which t
history treats. Xot for her love. Oh no ! quite by accident, a
without the least reference to her at all.



JIARTIN CHUZZLEWIT. G^,r^

Either she was a little too soon, or Tom was a little too late —
was so precise iu general, that she timed it to half a minute —
no Tom was there. "Well ! But was anybody else there, that
blushed so deeply, after looking round, and tripped otf down
steps with such unusual expedition ?

iVhy, tlie fact is, that Mr. Westlock was passing at that
aent. The Temple is a public tlioroughfare ; they may write
on the gates that it is not, but so long as the gates are left
1 it is, and will be ; and Mr. Westlock had as good a right to
here as anybody else. But why did she ruu away, then 1 Not
ig ill dressed, for she was much too neat for that, why did she
away'? The brown hair that had fallen down beneath her
aet, and had one impertinent imp of a false flower clinging to
)oastful of its license before all men, that could not have been
cause, for it looked charming. Oh? foolish, panting, frightened
e heart, why did she run away !

\Ierrily the tiny fountain played, and merrily the dimples
•kled on its sunny face. John Westlock hurried after her.
ly the whispering water broke and fell ; and roguishly the
pies twinkled ; as he stole upon her footsteps.
3h, foolish, panting, timid little heart, why did she feign to be
onscious of his coming ! Why wish herself so far away, yet be
lutteringly happy there !

'I felt sure it was you," said John, when he overtook her,
;he sanctuary of Garden Court. " I knew I couhbi't l)e mis-
in."

5he was so surprised.

'You are waiting for your brother," said John. " Let me bear
company."

5o light was the touch of the coy little hand, that he glanced
n to assure himself he had it on his arm. But his glance,
)ping for an instant at the bright eyes, forgot its first design,
went no farther.

rhey walked up and down three or four times, speaking about
a and iiis mysterious employment. Now that was a very
oral and innocent subject, surely. Then why, whenever Ruth
;d up her eyes, did she let them fall again immediately, and
c the uncongenial pavement of the court 1 They were not sucjj
? as shun the light ; they were not such eyes as require to l)e
rded to enhance their value. They were much too precious and
genuine to stand in need of arts like those. Somebody nuist
e been looking at them !

rhey found out Tom, though, quickly enough. This pair of
5 descried him in the distance, the moment he ajjpearcd. ]\r



656 LIFE AND ADVENTURES OF

was stariug about him, as usual, in all directions but the rig
one ; and was as obstinate in not looking towards them, as if
had intended it. As it was plain that, being left to himself,
would walk away home, John Westlock darted off to stop him.

This made the approach of poor little Ruth, by herself, one
the most embarrassing of circumstances. There was Tom, ma
festing extreme surprise (he had no jDresence of mind, that Tom,
small occasions) ; there was John, making as light of it as
could, but explaining at the same time, with most luniecessf
elaboration ; and here was she, coming towards them, with both
them looking at her, conscious of blushing to a terrible extent, 1
trying to throw up her eyebrows carelessly, and pout her re
lips, as if she were the coolest and most unconcerned of lit:
women.

Merrily the fountain plashed and plashed, until the dirapl;
merging into one another, swelled into a general smile, that cove
the whole surface of the basin.

" What an extraordinary meeting ! " said Tom. " I sho
never have dreamed of seeing you two together, here."

"Quite accidental," John was heard to murnuu".

'• Exactly," cried Tom ; " that's what I mean, you know. I
wasn't accidental, there would be nothing remarkable in it."

"To be sure," said John.

" Such an out-of-the-w\ay place for you to have met in,"' pursU
Tom, quite delighted. " Sucii an unlikely spot ! "

John rather disputed that. On the contrary, he considered :i»
very likely spot, indeed. He was constantly passing to and P
there, he said. He shouldn't wonder if it were to happen agij.
His only wonder was, that it had never happened before. I

By this time Ruth had got round on the further side of J
brother, and had taken his arm. She was squeezing it now^s
much as to say, "Are you going to stop here all day, you dear, :.,
blundering Tom 1 " ^

Tom answered the squeeze as if it had been a speech. " Jol "
lie said, "if you'll give my sister your arm, we'll take her betw.n
us, and walk on. I have a curious circumstance to relate to ^i.
Our meeting could not have happened better."

Merrily the fountain leaped and danced, and merrily the smi ig
dimples twinkled and expanded more and more, until they bi :e
into a laugh against the basin's rim, and vanished.

" Tom," said his friend, as they turned into the noisy street I
have a proposition to make. It is, that you and your sister if
she will so fsir honour a poor bachelor's dwelling — give me a g 't
l^leasure, and come and dine with me."



.MARTIX OnUZZLEWIT. • C57

Wliat, to-day ? '' cried Tom.

Yes, to-day. It's close by, you know. Pray, IMiss Pincli,

upon it. It will be very disinterested, for I have nothing to
you."

Oh ! you must not believe that, Ruth," said Tom. " He is
lost tremendous fellow, in his housekeepiuf^, that I ever heard
r a single man. He ought to be Lord Mayor. Well ! what
lu say 1 Sliall we go 1 "

If you please, Tom," rejoined his dutiful little sister.
But I mean," said Tom, regarding her witli smiling admira-

"is there anything you ought to wear, and haven't got? I
ure I don't know, John : she may not be able to take her
et ofi", for anything I can tell."

Iiere was a great deal of laughing at this, and there were
s compliments from John Westlock — not comj^liments, he said
ast (and really he w^as right), but good, plain, honest truths,
1 no one could deny. Rutli laughed, and all that, but she
■■ no objection ; so it was an engagement.
If I liad knowui it a little sooner," said John, " I would have

another pudding. Not in rivalry ; but merely to exalt that
us one. I w^ouldn't on any account liave had it made with suet."
Why not"?" asked Tom.

Because that cookery book advises suet," said John Westlock :
I ours was made with flour and eggs."

Oh good gracious !" cried Tom. "Ours was made with flour
Jggs, was it? Ha, ha, ha! A beefsteak pudding made with

and eggs ! Why anybody knows better than that. / know
r than that! Ha, ha, ha!"

; is unnecessary to say that Tom had been present at the
ng of the pudding, and had been a devoted believer in it all
igh. But he was so delighted to have this joke against his

little sister, and was tickled to that degree at having found
)Ut, that he stopped in Temple Ear to laugh ; and it was no

to Tom, that he was anathematized and knocked about by
lurly passengers, than it weuld have heen to a post; for he
nned to exclaim witii unabated good humour, " flour and eggs !
efsteak pudding made witli flour and eggs !" until John West-
and his sister fairly ran away from him, and left him to have
augh out by himself; which he had; and then came dodging
iS the crowded street to them, with such sweet temper and
erness (it was quite a tender joke of Tom's) beaming in his

God bless it, that it might have purifled the air, though
pie Bar luul been, as in the golden days gone by, embellisiied

a row of rotting human heads.



658 LIFE AND ADVENTURES OF

There are sung chambers in those Inus where tlie bachel
live, and, for the desolate fellows they pretend to be, it is qi
surprising how well they get on. John was very pathetic on
subject of his dreary life, and the deplorable makeshifts ;
apologetic contrivances it involved ; but he really seemed to m;
himself pretty comfortable. His rooms were the perfection
neatness and convenience at any rate; and if he were anyth
but comfortable, the fault was certainly not theirs.

He had no sooner ushered Tom and his sister into his 1
room (where there was a beautiful little vase of fresh flowers
the table, all ready for Ruth. — Just as if he had expected 1
Tom said), than seizing his hat, he bustled out again, in his n
energetically bustling way ; and presently came hurrying back
they saw through the half-opened door, attended by a fiery-fa
matron attired in a crunched bonnet, with particularly long stri



Online LibraryCharles DickensLife and adventures of Martin Chuzzlewit → online text (page 66 of 80)