Charles Dickens.

Life and adventures of Martin Chuzzlewit online

. (page 79 of 80)
Online LibraryCharles DickensLife and adventures of Martin Chuzzlewit → online text (page 79 of 80)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


and though she never could forgive her dear papa, she was will
to receive her other relations. They had been separated,
observed, too long. It was enough to call down a judgment u
the family. She believed the death of Jonas was a judgment
them for their internal dissensions. And Miss Pecksniff ■
confirmed in this belief, by the lightness with which the visitiit
had flillen on herself.

By way of doing sacrifice — not in triumph ; not, of course
triumph, but in humiliation of spirit — this amiable young pei
wrote, therefore, to her kinswoman of the strong mind,
informed her, that her nuptials would take place on such a <
That she had been much hurt by the unnatural conduct of lieri
and daugliters, and hoped they miglit not have suft'ered in tlji
consciences. That being desirous to forgive her enemies, and mi
her peace with the world before entering into the most solemiiJ
covenants with tlie most devoted of men, she now held out !<
hand of friendship. That if the strong-minded woman took 1 1
hand, in the temper in which it was extended to her, she, ^ •
Pecksniff, did invite her to be present at the ceremony of



]\rARTIX C'TIUZZLEWIT. 785

ige, and did furthermore invite the three red-nosed spinsters,
augliters (but Miss PecksnitF did not particularise their
, to attend as bridesmaids.

e strong-minded womau returned for answer, that herself
uighters were, as regarded their consciences, in the enjoyment
ust health, which she knew Miss PecksnitF would be glad to

That she had received Miss Pecksniff's note with unalloyed
t, because she never had attached the least importance to
iltry and insignificant jealousies with which herself and circle
)een assailed ; otherwise than as she found them, in the
oplation, a harmless source of innocent mirth. That she

joyfully attend Miss Pecksniff's bridal ; and that her three
laughters would be happy to assist, on so interesting, and so
mexpected — which the strong-minded woman underlined — so
mexpected an occasion.

i the receipt of this gracious reply, Miss Pecksniff extended
>rgiveness and her invitations to Mr. and Mrs. Spottletoe ;
'. George Chuzzlewit the bachelor cousin ; to the solitary
; who usually had the toothache ; and to the hairy young
man with the outline of a face ; surviving remnants of the
that had once assembled in Mr. Pecksniff's parlour. After

Miss Pecksniff remarked, that there was a sweetness in
our duty, whicli neutralised the bitter in our cups,
e wedding guests had not yet assembled, and indeed it was
:ly that Miss Pecksniff herself was in the act of dressing
r leisure, when a carriage stopped near the Monument ; and

dismounting from the rumble, assisted Mr. Chuzzlewit to
. The carriage remained in waiting; so did Mr. Tapley.
'huzzlewit betook himself to Todgers's.

; was shown, by the degenerate successor of Mr. Bailey, into
lining -parlour; where — for his visit was expected — Mrs.
!rs immediately appeared.

iTou are dressed, I see, for the wedding," he said,
rs. Todgers, who was greatly flurried Ity the preparations,
d in the affirmative,

[t goes against my wishes to have it in progress just now, I
i you. Sir," said Mrs. Todgers; "but Miss Pecksniff's mind
set upon it, and it really is time that Miss Pecksniff was
ed. That cannot be denied. Sir."

^0," said Ml-. Chuzzlewit, " assuredly not. Her sister takes
vt in the proceedings 1 "

3h dear, no. Sir. Poor thing ! " said Mrs. Todgers, shaking
lead, and dropping her voice. " Since she has known the
, she has never left my room ; the next room."
.3e



786 LIFE AND ADVENTURES OF

"Is she prepared to see meV he inquired.

" Quite prepared, Sir."

" Then let us lose no time."

j\Irs. Todgers conducted him into the little back chamb
commanding the prospect of the cistern ; and there, sadly diflfera
from when it had first been her lodging, sat poor Merry, '
mourning weeds. The room looked very dark and sorrowful j si-
so did she ; but she had one friend beside her, faithfid to the las!
Old Chuffey. j

"When Mr. Chiizzlewit sat down at her side, she took his hai!
and put it to her lips. She was in great grief He too v
agitated ; for he had not seen her since their parting in t
churchyard.

"I judged you hastily," he said, in a low voice. "I fear
judged you cruelly. Let me know that I have your forgiveness.

She kissed his hand again ; and retaining it in hers, thank
him, in a broken voice, for all his kindness to her, since.

"Tom Pinch," said Martin, "has faithfully related to me
that you desired him to convey ; at a time when he deemed
very improbable that he would ever have an opportunity
delivering your message. Believe me, that if I ever deal ag;
with an ill-advised and unawakened nature, hiding the strength
thinks its weakness : I will have long and merciful considerati
for it."

" You had for me ; even for me," she answered. " I qii
believe it. I said the words you have repeated, when my distri
was very sharp and hard to bear ; I say them now for othei
but I cannot urge them for myself. You spoke to me after y
had seen and watched me day by day. There was gn
consideration in that. You might have spoken, perhaps, iin
kindly ; you might have tried to invite my confidence by grea
gentleness ; but the end would have been the same."

He shook his head in doubt, and not without some inw;
self-reproach.

"How can I hope," she said, "that your interposition ■woi
liave prevailed with me, when I know how obdurate I was !
never thought at all ; dear Mr. Chiizzlewit, I never thought
all ; I had no thought, no heart, no care to find one ; at that tii
It has grown out of my trouble. I have felt it in my trouble,
wouldn't recall my trouble, such as it is, and has been — and
is light in comparison with trials which hundreds of good pec
suffer every day, I know — I w^ouldn't recall it to-morrow, i
could. It has been my friend, for without it, no one could h
changed me ; nothing could have changed me. Do not luisti



MARTIX CHUZZLEWIT. 787

;cause of these tears ; I cauuot help thorn. I am grateful

iu iny soul. Indeed I am ! "

ndeed she is ! " said Mrs. Todgers. " I believe it, Sir."
Lnd so do I !" said Mr. Chiizzlewit. "Now, attend to me,
ear. Your late husband's estate, if not wasted by the
siou of a large debt to the broken office (which document,

useless to the nmaways, has been sent over to England by
: not so much for the sake of the creditors as for the
cation of their dislike to him, whom they suppose to be
iving), will be seized upon by law ; for it is not exempt, as
1, from the claims of those who have suffered by the fraud
ich he was engaged. Your father's property was all, or

all, embarked iu the same transaction. If there be any
t will be seized on, in like manner. There is no home

couldn't return to him," she said, with an instinctive
ice to his having forced her marriage on. "I could not
. to him ! "

'. know it," Mr. Chuzzlewit resumed : " and I am here,
ie I know it. Come with me ! From all who are about
)u are certain (I have ascertained it) of a generous welcome,
intil yom' health is re-established, and you are sufficiently
ised to bear that welcome, you shall have your abode in any
retreat of your own choosing, near London ; not so far
ed but that this kind-hearted lady may still visit you as
as she pleases. You have suffered much ; but you are
, and have a brighter and a better future stretching out

you. Come with me. Your sister is careless of you, I
She hurries on and publishes this marriage, in a spirit

(to say no more of it) is barely decent, is unsisterly, and

Leave the house before her guests arrive. She means to
ou pain. Spare her the offence, and come with me ! "
■s. Todgers, though most unwilling to part with her, added
ersuasions. Even poor old Chutfey (of course included in
roject) added his. She hurriedly attired herself, and was
to depart, when ]\Iiss Pecksniff" dashed into the room,
ss Pecksniff dashed in so suddenly, that she was placed in
ibarrassing position. For, though she had completed iier

toilette as to her head, on which she wore a bridal bonnet
orange flowers, she had not completed it as to her skirts,

displayed no choicer decoration than a dimity bedgown,
lad dashed in, iu fact, about half way through, to console
ster in her affliction Avith a sight of the aforesaid bonnet ;
■eing quite unconscious of the presence of a visitor, until she



78S LIFE AND ADVENTURES OF

found Mr. Clmzzlewit standing face to face with lier, her surprf'
was an uncomfortable one. *

" So, young lady ! " said the old man, eyeing her with strorl
disfavour. " You are to be married to-day ! " ■

" Yes, Sir," returned Miss Pecksniff, modestly. " I am. I-
my dress is rather — really, Mrs. Todgers ! "

" Your delicacy," said old Martin, " is troubled, I percei\
I am not surprised to find it so. You have chosen the period
your marriage, unfortunately."

" I beg your pardon, Mr. Chuzzlewit," retorted Cherry ; vc
red and angry in a moment : " but if you have anything to say
that subject, I must beg to refer you to Augustus. You w
scarcely think it manlj^, I hope, to force an argument on me, wli
Augustus is at all times ready to discuss it with you. I ha
nothing to do with any deceptions that may have been practi^^
on my parent," said Miss Pecksniff, pointedly; "and as I wish
be on good terms with everybody at such a time, I should ha
been glad if you would have favoured us with your company
breakfast. But I will not ask you as it is : seeing tliat you lia
been prepossessed and set against me in another quarter. I ho
I have my natural affections for another quarter, and my natii
pity for another quarter ; but I cannot always submit to
subservient to it, Mr. Chuzzlewit. That would be a little t
much. I trust I have more respect for myself, as well as for t
man who claims me as his Bride."

" Your sister, meeting, as I think : not as she says, for she 1
said nothing about it : with little consideration from you, is goi
aw^ay with me," said Mr. Chuzzlewit.

" I am very happy to find that she has some good fortune
last," returned Miss Pecksniff', tossing her head. "I cougratul;
her, I am .sure. I am not surprised that this event should
painful to her : painful to her : but I can't help that, ]\
Chuzzlewit. It's not my fault."

" Come, Miss Pecksniff' ! " said the old man, quietly,
.should like to see a better parting between you. I should like
see a better parting on your side, in such circumstances,
would make me your friend. You may want a friend one •
or other."

"Every relation of life, Mr. Chuzzlewit, begging your pardr
and every friend in life : " returned Miss Pecksniff", with digni
"is now bound up and cemented in Augustus. So long
Augustus is my owai, I cannot want a friend. When you spi
of friends, Sir, I must beg, once for all, to refer you to August
That is my impression of the religious ceremony in which I J



MARTIX CHUZZLEWIT. 789

)U to take a part at that altar to -wliich Augustus will
3t me. I bear no malice at any time, much less in a
at of triumph, towards any one ; much less towards my
On the contrary, I congratulate her. If you didn't hear
y so, I am not to blame. And as I owe it to Augustus, to
actual on an occasion when he may naturally be supposed
—to be impatient — -really, Mrs. Todgers ! — I must beg your
Sir, to retire."

ter these words the bridal bonnet disappeared ; with as
state, as the dimity bedgown left in it.
1 Martin gave his arm to the younger sister w'ithout
ng; and led her out. Mrs. Todgers, with her holiday
nts fluttering in the wind, accompanied them to the carriage,
round Llerry's neck at parting, and ran back to her own
house, crying the whole w^ay. She had a lean lank body,
Todgers, but a well-conditioned soul wdthin. Perhaps the
Samaritan was lean and lank, and found it hard to live.
knows !

•. Chuzzlewit followed her so closely with his eyes, that,
she had shut her own door, they did not encounter Mr.
fs face.

Yhy, Mark!" he said, as soon as he observed it, "what's
attcr ! "

[he wonderfuUest ewent, Sir ! " returned JNIark, pumping at
oice in a most laborious manner, and hardly able to
late with all his eftbrts. " A coincidence as never was
ed ! I'm blessed if here ain't two old neighbours of ourn,

tVhat neighbom-s ! " cried old Martin, looking out of window,
ere 1 "

[ was a walkin' up and down not five yards from this spot,"
Hr. Tapley, breathless, "and they come upon me like their
;hosts, as I thought they was ! It's the wonderfullcst ewent
ever happened. Bring a feather, somebody, and knock me

with it ! "

rt'hat do you mean ! " exclaimed old Martin, quite as much
d by the spectacle of Mark's excitement, as that strange
a was himself. " Neighbours, where ! "
Eere, Sir ! " replied i\Ir. Taplcj-. " Here in the City of
3n ! Here upon these very stones ! Here they arc, Sir I
I know 'em ! Lord love their welcome faces, don't I

'em ! "

ith which ejaculations Mr. Tapley not only pointed to a

t-looking man and woman standing by, but commenced



790 LIFE AND ADVENTURES OF

embracing them alternately, over and over again, in MonumeD
Yard.

" Neighbours, where ! " old Martin shouted : almost maddene
by his ineffectual efforts to get out at the coach-door.

" Neighbours in America ! Neighbours in Eden ! " cried Marl
" Neighbours in the swamp, neighbours in the bush, neighbours ij
the fever. Didn't she nurse us ! Didn't he help us ! Shouldn;
we both have died without 'em ! Hav'n't they come a struggliil
back, without a single child for their consolation ! And talk t
me of neighbours !"

Away he went again, in a perfectly wild state, hugging then
and skipping round them, and cutting in between them, as if 1
were performing some frantic and outlandish dance.

Mr. Chuzzlewit no sooner gathered who these people ■wcr
than he burst open the coach-door somehow or other, and can
tumbling out among them ; and as if the lunacy of Mr. TapL
were contagious, he immediately began to shake hands too, an
exhibit every demonstration of the liveliest joy.

" Get up behind ! " he said. " Get up in the rumble. Con
along with me ! Go you on the box, Mark. Home ! Home ! ''

" Home ! " cried Mr. Tapley, seizing the old man's hand in I
burst of enthusiasm. "Exactly my opinion. Sir. Home, f<!
ever ! Excuse the liberty, Sir, I can't help it. Success to tl
Jolly Tapley ! There's nothin' in the house they shan't have f'
the askin' for, except a bill. Home to be sure ! Hurrah ! "

Home they rolled accordingly, when he had got the old man
again, as fast as they could go ; Mark abating nothing of li
fervour by the way, but allowing it to vent itself as unrestrained
as if he had been on Salisbury Plain.

And now the wedding party began to assemble at Todgers'
Mr. Jinkins, the only boarder invited, was on the ground firs
He wore a white favour in his button-hole, and a bran new ext
super double-milled blue saxony dress coat (that was its descriptii
in the bill), with a variety of tortuous embellishments about tl
pockets, invented by the artist to do honour to the day. Tl
miserable Augustus no longer felt strongly even on the subject
Jinkins. He hadn't strength of mind enough to do it. "L
him come !" he had said, in answer to Miss Pecksniff, when si
urged the point. " Let him come ! He has ever been my roi
ahead through life. 'Tis meet he should be there. Ha, ha !
yes ! let Jinkins come ! "

Jinkins had come, with all the pleasure in life ; and there !
was. For some few minutes he had no companion but t
breakfast, which was set forth in the drawing-room, with unusu



M



MARTIN CHUZZLEWIT. 791

aud ceremoDy. But Mrs. Todgers soon joined liiiu ; and the
;lor cousin, tlie hairy young gentleman, and Sir. and I\Irs.
;letoe, arrived in quick succession.

T. Spottletoe honoured Jinkins with an encouraging bow.
id to know you, Sir," he said. " Give you joy ! " Under
Qipressiou that Jinkins was the happy man.
s. Jinkins expLained. He was merely doing the honours for
•ieud Moddle, who had ceased to reside in the house, and had
et arrived.

Not aiTived, Sir ! " exclaimed Spottletoe, in a great heat.
Xot yet," said Mr. Jinkins.

Upon my soul ! " cried Spottletoe. " He begins well !
1 my life and honour this young man begins well ! But I
d very much like to know how it is that every one who
s into contact with this family is guilty of some gross insult

Death ! Not arrived yet. Not here to receive us ! "
he nephew with the outline of a countenance, suggested that
ips he had ordered a new pair of boots, and they hadn't come

Don't talk to me of Boots, Sir I " retorted Spottletoe, with im-
;e indignation. " He is bound to come here in his slippers then ;
i bound to come here barefoot. Don't offer such a wretched
Bvasive plea to me on behalf of your friend, as Boots, Sir."
He is not 7n^ friend," said the nephew. " I never saw him."
Very well, Sir," returned the fiery Spottletoe. "Then don't
to me."

he door was thrown open at this juncture, and Miss Pecksniff
•ed, tottering, and supported by her three bridesmaids. The
ig-minded woman brought up the rear ; having waited outside
now, for the purpose of spoiling the effect.
How do you do, ma'am ! " said Spottletoe to the strong-
led woman in a tone of defiance. " I believe you see Mrs
tletoe. Ma'am."

'he strong-minded woman, with an air of great interest iu Mrs.
tletoe's health, regretted that she was not more easily seen,
ire erring, in that lady's case, upon the slim side.
Irs. Spottletoe is at least more easily seen than the bride-
m, Ma'am," returned that lady's husband. " That Is, unless
las confined his attentions to any particular part or branch
lis family, which would be quite in keeping with its usual
eedings."

' If you allude to me. Sir " the strong-minded woman began.

'Pray," interposed Miss Pecksniff, "do not allow Augustu.s,
his awful moment of his life and mine, to be the means of



792 LIFE AND ADVENTURES OF MARTIN CHUZZLEWIT.

disturbiug that harmony which it is ever Augustus's and my wis
to maintain. Augustus has not been introduced to any of ni
relations now present. He i^referred not."

" Why, then, I venture to assert," cried Mr. Si:)ottletoe, " tha
tlie man who aspires to join this family, and 'prefers not' to h
introduced to its members, is an impertinent Puj^py. That is m
opinion of li im ! "

The strong-minded woman remarked with great suavity, tha
she was afraid he must be. Her three daughters observed alou
that it was " shameful ! "

"You do not know Augustus," said Miss Pecksniff, tearfulh
" indeed you do not know him. Augustus is all mildness an
humility. Wait 'till you see Augustus, and I am sure he will coi
ciliate your affections."

" The question arises," said Spottletoe, folding his arms
" How long we are to wait. I am not accustomed to wait ; that'
the fact. And I want to know how long we are expected to wait.

" Mrs. Todgers ! " said Charity, " Mr. Jiukins ! I am afrai
there must be some mistake. I think Augustus must have goii
straight to the Altar ! "

As such a thing was possible, and the church was close at haut
Mr. Jinkius ran off to see : accomj^anied by Mr. George Chuzzlewi
the bachelor cousin, who preferred anything to the aggravatio
of sitting near the breakfast, without being able to eat it. Bii
they came back with no other tidings than a familiar message froi
the clerk, importing that if they wanted to be married tha
morning, they had better look sharp : as the curate wasn't goin
to Avait there all day.

The bride was now alarmed; seriously alarmed. Good Heaven-
what could have happened ! Augustus ! Dear Augustus !

Mr. Jiukins volunteered to take a cab, and seek him at tli
newly-furnished house. The strong-minded woman administere
comfort to Miss Pecksniff. " It was a specimen of what she lia
to expect. It would do her good. It would dispel the romauc
of the affair." The red-nosed daughters also administered th,
kindest comfort. " Perhaps he'd come," they said. The sketch
nephew hinted that he might have fallen off a bridge. The wrat
of Mr. Spottletoe resisted all the entreaties of his wife. Everj
body spoke at once, and Miss Pecksniff, with clasped hands, sough'
consolation everywhere and found it nowhere, when Jinkius, havin
met the postman at the door, came back with a letter : which b
l>ut into her hand.

]\Iiss Pecksniff opened it : glanced at it ; uttered a piercin
shriek ; threw it down upon the ground : and fainted away.







HF. Nfl'TIAI.S OF MI.sS PECKSNIFF RIX'EIVE A TEMPORAItY CUKCK.



794 LIFE AND ADVENTURES OF

Tliey i^icked it up ; and crowding round, and looking over or
another's shoulders, read, in the words and dashes following, th:
communication :

" Off Geavesend.
" Clipper Schooner, Cupid.
" JVednesday night.

"Ever injured Miss Pecksniff,

"Ere this reaches you, the undersigned will be — if not
corpse — on the way to Van Dieraen's Land. Send not in pursui
I never will be taken alive !

" The burden — 300 tons per register — forgive, if in my distra
tion, I allude to the ship — on my mind — has been truly dreadfu
Frequently — when you have sought to soothe my brow with kiss(
—has self-destruction flashed across me. Frequently — incredib.
as it may seem — have I abandoned the idea.

" I love another. She is another's. Everything appears to I
somebody else's. Nothing in the world is mine — not even m
Situation — which I have forfeited — by my rash conduct — i
running away.

"If you ever loved me, hear my last appeal ! The last appei
of a 7niserable and blighted exile. Forward the inclosed — it is tl
key of my desk — to the office — by hand. Please address to Bobl
and Cholberry — I mean to Chobbs and Bolberry — but my mind
totally unhinged. I left a penknife — with a buckhoru handle — ;
your work-box. It will repay the messenger. May it make hi;
happier than ever it did me !

" Oh, Miss Pecksniff, why didn't you leave me alone ! Was
not cruel, cruel ! Oh, my goodness, have you not been a witness >
my feelings — have you not seen them flowing from my eyes — d:
you not, yourself, reproach me witli weeping more than usual c
that dreadful night when last we met — in tliat house — where I cm
was peaceful — though blighted — in the society of Mrs. Todgers !

"But it was Avritten — in the Talmud— that you should invob
yourself in the inscrntable and gloomy Fate which it is my missi(
to accomplish, and which wreathes itself — e'en now — about my-
temples. I will not reproach, for I have wronged you. ]\Iay i\\
Furniture make some amends !

"Farewell ! Be the proud bride of a ducal coronet, and forg
me ! Long may it be before you know the anguish with which >
now subscribe myself — amid the tempestuous bowlings of the-'
sailors,

" Unalterably, never yours,

"Augustus."



MARTIN CHUZZLEWIT. 795

They thought as little of Miss Pecksniff, while thej' greedily
used this letter, as if she were the very last person on earth
cm it concerned. But Miss Pecksniff really had fainted away.
B bitterness of her mortification ; tlie bitterness of having sum-
ued witnesses, and such witnesses, to behold it ; the bitterness
knowing that the strong-minded woman and the red-nosed
igliters towered triumphant in this hour of their anticipated
irthrow ; was too much to be borne. Miss Pecksniff had fainted
ly in earnest.

What sounds are these tliat fall so grandly on tlie ear ! Wliat
kening room is this !

And that mild figure seated at an organ, who is he 1 Ah Tom,
,r Tom, old friend !

Thy head is prematurely grey, though Time has passed between
e and our old association, Tom. But, in those sounds with
ich it is thy wont to bear the twilight company, the music of
■ heart speaks out : the story of thy life relates itself.
Thy life is tranquil, calm, and happy, Tom. In the soft strain
ich ever and again comes stealing back upon the ear, the
tnory of thine old love may find a voice perhaps ; but it is a
asant, softened, whispering memory, like that in which we some-
es hold the dead, and does not pain or grieve thee, God be
nked !

Touch the notes lightly, Tom, as lightly as tliou wilt, but never
1 thine hand fall half so lightly on that Instrument as on the
d of thine old tyrant brouglit down very, very low ; and never
1 it make as hollow a response to any touch of thine, as he does
ays.

For a drunken, begging, squalid-letter-writing man, called Peck-
T: with a shrewish daughter: haunts thee, Tom; and when
makes appeals to thee for cash, reminds thee that he built thy
;une3 better tlian his own ; and wlien he spends it, entertains



Online LibraryCharles DickensLife and adventures of Martin Chuzzlewit → online text (page 79 of 80)