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Digitized by the Internet Archive

in 2010 with funding from

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^- •^x







OUR MUTUAL FRIEND



BY

CHARLES DICKENS



BOOK THE THIRD,



NEW YORK:
PUBLISHED BY JOHN BRADBURN,

(successor to m. doolady,)

49 WALKER-STEEET.

1865.



K. 3



OUR MUTUAL FRIEND,

IN FOUR BOOKS.



BOOK THE THIRD

A LONG LANE.



CHAPTER I.

LODGERS IN QUEER STREET.

It was a foggy day in London, and the fog was heavy
and dark. Animate London, with smarting eyes and
irritated hings, was blinking, wheezing, and choking ; in-
animate London was a sooty spectre, divided in purpose
between being visible and invisible, and so being wholly
neither. Gaslights flared in the shops with a haggard
and unblessed air, as knowing themselves to be night-
creatures that had no business abroad under the sun ;
while the sun itself, when it was for a few moments dimly
indicated through circling eddies of fog, showed as if it
had gone out and were collapsing flat and cold. Even in
the surrounding country it was a foggy day, but there
the fog was gray, whereas in London it was, at about the
boundary line, dark yellow, and a little within it brown,
and then browner, and then browner, until at the heart of
the City — wiiich call Saint Mary Axe — it was rusty black.



46592.^^



4 OUR MUTUAL FRIEND.

From any point of the high ridge of land northward, it
might have been discerned that the loftiest buildings made
an occasional struggle to get their heads above the foggy
sea, and especially that the great dome of Saint Paul's
seemed to die hard ; but this was not perceivable in the
streets at their feet, where the whole metropolis was a
heap of vapor charged with muffled sound of wheels, and
enfolding a gigantic catarrh.

At nine o'clock on such a morning, the place of business
of Pubsey & Co. was not the liveliest object even in Saint
Mary Axe — which is not a very lively spot — with a sob-
bing gaslight in the counting-house window, and a bur-
glarious stream of fog creeping in to strangle it through
the keyhole of the main door. But the light went out,
and the main door opened, and Riah came forth with a
bag under his arm.

Almost in the act of coming out at the door Riah went
into the fog, and was lost to the eyes of Saint Mary
Axe. But the eyes of this history can follow him west-
ward, by Cornhill, Cheapside, Fleet Street, and the
Strand, to Piccadilly and the Albany. Thither he went
at his grave and measured pace, staff in hand, skirt at
heel; and more than one head, turning to look back at
his venerable figure already lost in the mist, supposed it
to be some ordinary figure indistinctly seen, which fancy
and the fog had worked into that passing likeness.

Arrived at the house in which his master's chambers
were on the second-floor, Riah proceeded up the stairs,
and paused at Fascination Fledgeby's door. Making free
with neither bell nor knocker, he struck upon the door
with the top of his staff, and, having listened, sat down
on the threshold. It was characteristic of his habitual



CUE MUTUAL FKIEND. 5

submission, that he sat down on the raw, dark staircase,
as many of his ancestors had probably sat down in dun-
geons, taking what befell him as it might befaU.

After a time, when he had grown so cold as to be fain
to blow upon his fingers, he arose and knocked with his
staff again, and listened again, and again sat down to
wait. Thrice he repeated these actions before his listen-
ing ears were greeted by the voice of Fledgeby, calling
from his bed, " Hold your row ! I'll come and open the
door directly I" But in lieu of coming directly, he fell
into a sleep for some quarter of an hour more, during
which added interval Riah sat upon the stairs and waited
with perfect patience.

At length the door stood open, and Mr. Fledgeby's
retreating drapery plunged into bed again. Following it
at a respectful distance, Kiah passed into the bedchamber,
where a fire had been sometime lighted, and was burning
briskly.

" Why, what time of night do you mean to call it V
inquired Fledgeby, turning away beneath the clothes, and
presenting a comfortable rampart of shoulder to the
chilled figure of the old man.

" Sir, it is full half past ten in the morning."

" The deuce it is ! Then it must be precious foggy ?"

" Very foggy, Sir."

*' And raw, then ?"

" Chill and bitter," said Riah, drawing out a hand-
kerchief, and wiping the moisture from his beard and long
gray hair as he stood on the verge of the rug, with his
eyes on the acceptable fire.

With a plunge of enjoyment Fledgeby settled himself
afresh.



6 OUR MUTUAL FRIEND.

"Any snow, or sleet, or slush, or anything of that
sort ?" he asked.

" No, Sir, no. Kot quite so bad as that. The streets
are pretty clean."

" You needn't brag about it," returned Fledgeby, dis-
appointed in his desire to heighten the contrast between
his bed and the streets. " But you're always bragging
about something. Got the books there ?"

" They are here, Sir."

" All right. I'll turn the general subject over in my
mind for a minute or two, and while I'm about it you can
empty your bag and get ready for me."

With another comfortable plunge Mr. Fledgeby fell
asleep again. The old man, having obeyed his directions,
sat down on the edge of a chair, and, folding his hands
before him, gradually yielded to the influence of the
warmth, and dozed. He was roused by Mr. Fledgeby's
appearing erect at the foot of the bed, in Turkish slip-
pers, rose-colored Turkish trowsers (got cheap from some-
body who had cheated some other somebody out of them,)
and a gown and cap to correspond. In that costume he
would have left nothing to be desired, if he had been
further fitted out with a bottomless chair, a lantern, and
a bunch of matches.

" Now, old 'un I" cried Fascination, in his light rail-
lery, " what dodgery are you up to next, sitting there
with your .eyes shut ? You ain't asleep. Catch a weasel
at it, and catch a Jew !"

•* Truly, Sir, I fear I nodded," said the old man.

" Not you I" returned Fledgeby, with a cunning look.
" A telling move with a good many, I dare say, but it
won't put me off my guard. Not a bad notion though, if



OUR MUTUAL FRIEND. 7

you want to look indifferent in driving a bargain. Ob,
you are a dodger !"

The old man shook his head, gently repudiating the
imputation, and suppressed a sigh, and moved to the table
at which Mr. Fledgeby was now pouring out for himself
a cup of steaming and fragrant coffee, from a pot that
had stood ready on the hob. It was an edifying spectacle,
the young man in his easy-chair taking his coffee, and the
old man with his grey head bent, standing awaiting his
pleasure.

" Now I" said Fledgeby. " Fork out your balance in
hand, and prove by figures how you make it out that it
ain't more. First of all, light that candle."

Riah obeyed, and then taking a bag from his breast,
and referring to the sum in the accounts for which they
made him responsible, told it out upon the table.
Fledgeby told it again with great care, and rang every
sovereign.

" I suppose," he said, taking one up to eye it closely,
" you haven't been lightening any of these ; but it's a trade
of your people's, you know. You understand what sweat-
ing a pound means ; don't you ?"

" Much as you do. Sir," returned the old man, with his
hands under opposite cuffs of his loose sleeves, as he stood
at the table, deferentially observant of the master's face.
*' May I take the liberty to say something ?"

" You may," Fledgeby graciously conceded.

" Do you not. Sir — without intending it — of a surety
without intending it — sometimes mingle the character I
fairly earn in your employment with the character which
it is your pojicy that I should bear ?"

" I don't find it worth my while to cut things so



8 OUE MUTUAL FRIEND.

fine as to go into the inquiry," Fascination coolly an-
swered,

'' Not in justice ?"

" Bother justice !" said Fledgeby.

" Not in generosity V^

" Jews and generosity !" said Fledgeby. " That's a
good connection ! Bring out your vouchers, and don't
talli Jerusalem palaver."

The voucliers were produced, and for the next half hour
Mr. Fledgeby concentrated his sublime attention on
them. They and the accounts were all found correct,
and the books and the papers resumed their places in
the bag.

"Next," said Fledgeby, " concerning that bill-broking
branch of the business ; tlm branch I like best. AVhat
queer bills are to be bought, and at what prices ? You
have got your list of what's in the market ?"

" Sir, a long list," replied Biah, taking out a pocket-
book, and selecting from its contents a folded paper,
which, being unfolded, became a sheet of foolscap covered
with close writing.

" Whew I" whistled Fledgeby, as he took it in his
Land. " Queer Street is full of lodgers just at present !
These are to be disposed of in parcels ; are they ?"

*' In parcels as set forth," returned the old man, look-
ing over his master's shoulder ; '*or the lump."

" Half the lump will be waste-paper, one knows before-
hand," said Fledgeby. " Can you get it at waste-paper
price ? That's the question."

Riah shook his head, and Fledgeby cast his small eyes
down the list. They presently began to twinkle, and he
no sooner became conscious of their twinkling, than be



QVTR inrruAL fkiend, 9

looked np over liis shoulder at the grave face above hhu,
and moved to the chimney-piece. Making a desk of it,
he stood there with his back to the old man, warming his
knees, perusing the list at his leisure, and often returning
to some lines of it, as though tliej were particularly in-
teresting. At those times he glanced in the chimney-
glass to see what note the old man took of him. He
took none that could be detected, but, aware of his em-
ployer's suspicions, stood with his eyes on the ground.

Mr. Fledgeby was thus amiably engaged when a step
was heard at the outer door, and the door was heard to
open hastily. " Hark ! That's your doing, you Pump
of Israel," said Fledgeby ; " you can't have shut it."
Then the step was heard within, and the voice of Mr.
Alfred Lammle called aloud, *-' Are you any where here,
Fledgeby ?" To which Fledgeby, after cautioning Riah
in a low voice to take his cue as it should be given
him, replied, " Here I am I" and opened his bedroom
door.

** Come in !" said Fledgeby. "This gentleman is only
Pubsey and Co. of Saint Mary Axe, that I am trying to
make terms for an unfortunate friend with in a matter of
some dishonored bills. But really Pubsey and Co. are so
strict with their debtors, and so hard to move, that I
seem to be wasting my time. Can't I make any terms
with you on my friend's part, Mr. Riah ?"

" I am but the representative of another, Sir,'^ returned
the Jew, in a low voice. "I do as I am bidden by my
principal. It is not my capital that is invested in
the business. It is not my profit that arises there-
from."

" Ha, ha 1" laughed Fledgeby. " Lammle ?"



10 OUR MUTUAL FRIEND.

" Ila, lia !" laughed Lamrale. " Yes. Of course.
We know."

" Devilish good, ain't it, Lammle ?" said Fledgeby,
unspeakably amused by his hidden joke.

" Always the same, always the same !" said Lammle.
" Mr. ^"

" Riah, Pubsey, and Co., Saint Mary Axe," Fledgeby
put in, as he wiped away the tears that trickled from his
eyes, so rare was his enjoyment of his secret joke.

" Mr. Kiah is bound to observe the invariable forms
for such cases made and provided," said Lammle.

" He is only the representative of another !" cried
Fledgeby. " Does as he is told by his principal I jN'ot
his capital that's invested in the business. Oh, that's
good. Ha ha ha ha !" Mr. Lammle joined in the laugh
and looked knowing ; and the more he did both, the
more exquisite the secret joke became for Mr. Fledgeby.

" However," said that fascinating gentleman, wiping
his eyes again, " if we go on in this way, we shall seem
to be almost making game of Mr. Riah, or of Pubsey and
Co., Saint Mary Axe, or of somebody : which is far from
our intention. Mr. Riah, if you would have the kindness
to step into the next room for a few moments while I
speak with Mr. Lammle here, I should like to try to
make terms with you once again before you go."

The old man, who had never raised his eyes during the
whole transaction of Mr. Fledgeby's joke, silently bowed
and passed out by the door which Fledgeby opened for
him. Having closed it on him, Fledgeby returned to
Lammle, standing with his back to the bedroom fire, with
one hand under his coat-skirts, and all his whiskers in the
other.



OCR MUTUAL FRIEND. 11

" Halloa !" said Flcdgcb}'. " There's somctbing
wrong !"

" How do you know it ?" demanded Lanimle.

" Because you show it," replied Fledgcby, in uninten-
tional rhyme.

" Well then ; there is," said Lammle ; "there is some-
thing wrong ; the whole thing's wrong."

" I say I" remonstrated Fascination very slowly, and
sitting down with his hands on his knees to stare at his
glowering friend with his back to the fire.

*' I tell you, Fledgeby," repeated Lammle, with a sweep
of his right arm, " the whole thing's wrong. The game's
up."

" What game's up ?" demanded Fledgeby, as slowly as
before, and more sternly.

" The game. Our game. Read that."

Fledgeby took a note from his extended hand and read
it aloud. " Alfred Lammle, Esquire. Sir : Allow Mrs.
Podsnap and myself to express our united sense of the
polite attentions of Mrs. Alfred Lammle and yourself
toward our daughter, Georgiana. Allow us also wholly
to reject them for the future, and to communicate our
final desire that the two families may become entire
strangers. I have the honor to be, Sir, your most
obedient and very humble servant, John Ponsnap."
Fledgeby looked at the three blank sides of this note,
quite as long and earnestly as at the first expressive side,
and then looked at Lammle, who responded with another
extensive sweep of his right arm.

'* Whose doing is this ?" said Fledgeby.
" Impossible to imagine," said Lammle.
" Perhaps," suggested Fledgeby, after reflecting with a



12 OUR MUTUAL FRIEND.

yery discontented brow, " somebody has been giving you
a bad character.''

" Or you," said Lammle, with a deeper frown.

Mr. Fledgeby appeared to be on the verge of some
mutinous expressions, when his hand happened to touch
his nose. A certain remembrance connected with that
feature operating as a timely warning, he took it thought-
fully between his thumb and forefinger and pondered j
Lammle meanwhile eyeing him with furtive eyes.

'' Well !" said Fledgeby. " This won't improve with
talking about. If we ever find out who did it, we'll mark
that person. There's nothing more to be said, except
that you undertook to do what circumstances prevent
your doing,"

" And that you undertook to do what you might have
done by this time if you had made a prompter use of cir-
cumstances," snarled Lammle.

" Hah ! That," remarked Fledgeby, with his hands
in the Turkish trowsers, " is matter of opinion."

" Mr. Fledgeby," said Lammle, in a bullying tone,
" am I to understand that you in any way reflect upon
me, or hint dissatisfaction with me, in this affair ?"

"No," said Fledgeby; "provided you have brouglit
my promissory note iu your pocket, and now hand it
over."

Lammle produced it, not without rehjctancc. Fledge-
by looked at it, identified it, twisted it up, nnd threw it
into the fire. They both looked at it as it bhized, went
out, and flew in feathery ash up the chimney.

" JYoio, Mr. Fledgeby," said Lammle, as before ; "am
I to undertand that you in any way reflect upon me, or
hint dissatisfaction with me, in this affair ?"



OUE MUTUAL FRIEND. 13

" No," said Fledgeby.

" Fioali}' and unreservedly no ?"

"Yes."'

" Fledgcby, my hand."

Mr. Fledgeby took it, saying, " And if Ave ever find
out who did this, we'll mark that person. And in the
most friendly manner let me mention one thing more. I
don't know what your circumstances are, and I don't ask
You have sustained a loss here. Many men are liable to
be involved at times, and you may be, or yon may not
be. But whatever you do, Lammle, don't — don't — don't,
I beg of you — ever fall into the hands of Pubsey and Co.
in the next room, for they are grinders. Regular flayers
and grinders, my dear Lammle," repeated Fledgeby, with
a peculiar relish, "and they'll skin you by the inch, from
the nape of your neck to the sole of your foot, and grind
every inch of your skin to tooth-powder. You have seen
what Mr. Iliah is. Never fall into his hands, Lammle, I
beg of you as a friend 1"

Mr. Lammle, disclosing some alarm at the solemnity
of this affectionate adjuration, demanded why the devil he
ever should fall into the hands of Pubsey and Co. ?

" To confess the fact, I was made a little uneasy," said
the candid Fledgeby, " by the manner in w^hich that Jew
looked at you when he heard your name. I didn't like
his eye. But it may have been the heated fancy of a
friend. Of course if yon are sure that you have no per-
sonal seetirity out, which you may not be quite equal to
meeting, and which can have got into his hands, it must
have been fancy. Still, I didn't like his eye."

The brooding Lammle, with certain white dints coming
and going in his palpitating nose, looked as if some tor-



14 OUR MUTUAL FRIEND.

mentiiij^ imp were pinching it. Fledgeby, watching him
with a twitch in liis mean face which did duty there for
a smile, looked very like the tormentor who was pinch-
ing.

" But I mustn't keep him waiting too long," said
Fledgeby, *' or he'll revenge it on my unfortunate friend.
How's your very clever and agreeable wife ? She knows
we have broken down ?"

" I showed her the letter."

*' Very much surprised ?" asked Fledgeby.

" I think she would have been more so," answered
Lammle, " if there had been more go in you V

" Oh ! — She lays it upon me, then ?"

" Mr. Fledgeby, I will not have my words miscon-
strued."

" Don't break out, Lammle," urged Fledgeby, in a
submissive tone, " because there's no occasion. I only
asked a question. Then she don't lay it upon me ? To
ask another question."

" No, Sir."

" Yery good," said Fledgeby, plainly seeing that she
did. " My compliments to her. Good-by I"

They shook hands, and Lammle strode out pondering.
Fledgeby saw him into the fog, and, returning to the fire
and musing with his face to it, stretched the legs of the
rose-colored Turkish trowsers wide apart, and medita-
tively bent his knees, as if he were going down upon
them.

" You have a pair of whiskers, Lammle, which I never
liked," murmured Fledgeby, " and which money can't
produce ; you are boastful of your manners and your con-
versation ; you wanted to puW my nose, and you have let



OUR MUTUAL FEIEND. 15

me in for a failure, and yonr wife says I am tlie cause of
it. I'll bowl you clown. 1 will, tliough I have no
whiskers," here he rubbed the places where they were
due, ** and no manners, and no conversation !"

Having thus relieved his noble mind, he collected the
legs of the Turkish trowsers, straightened himself on his
knees, and called out to Riah in the next room, " Halloa,
you Sir !" At sight of the old man re-entering with a
gentleness monstrously in contrast with the character he
had given him, Mr. Fledgeby was so tickled again, that
he exclaimed, laughing, " Good I Good I Upon my
soul it is uncommon good I"

" Xow, old 'un," proceeded Fledgeby, when he had had
his laugh out, " you'll buy np these lots that I mark with
my pencil — there's a tick there, and a tick there, and a
tick there — and I wager twopence you'll afterward go on
a squeezing those Christians hke the Jew you are. Xow,
next you'll want a check — or you'll say you want it,
though you've capital enough somewhere, if one only
knew where, but you'd be peppered and salted and grilled
on a gridiron before you'd own to it — and that check I'll
write."

When he had unlocked a drawer and taken a key from
it to open another drawer, in which was another key that
opened another drawer, in which was another key that
opened another drawer, in which was the check-book ;
and when he had written the check ; and when, reversing
the key and drawer process, he had placed his check-
book in safety again, he beckoned the old man, with the
folded check, to come and take it.

" Old 'un," said Fledgeby, when the Jew had put it in
his pocket-book, and was putting that iu the breast of his



16 OUR MUTUAL FRIEND.

outer garment ; " so much at present for my affairs.
Now a word about affairs that are not exactly mine.
Where is she ?"

With his hand not yet withdrawn from the breast of
his garment, Kiah started and paused.

" Oho !" said Fledgeby. " Didn't expect it ! Where
have you hidden her ?"

Showing that he was taken by surprise, the old man
looked at his master with some passing confusion, which
the master highly enjoyed.

" Is she in the house I pay rent and taxes for in Saint
Mary Axe ?" demanded Fledgeby.

" No, Sir."

" Is she in your garden up atop of that house — gone
up to be dead, or whatever the game is ?" asked
Fledgeby.

" No, Sir."

" Where is she then ?"

Riah bent his eyes upon the ground, as if considering
whether he could answer the question without breach of
faith, and then silently raised them to Fledgeby's face, as
if he could not.

'' Come !" said Fledgeby. " I won't press that just
now. But I want to know this, and I will know this,
mind you; What are you up to ?"

The old man, with an apologetic action of his head and
hands, as not comprehending the master's meaning, ad-
dressed to him a look of mute inquiry.

" Yon can't be a gallivanting dodger," said Fledgeby.
*' For you're a ' regular pity the sorrows,' you know — if
you do know any Christian rhyme — 'whose trembling
limbs have borne him to' — et cetrer. You're one of the



OUK MUTUAL FRIEND. Vl

Patriarchs ; you're a shaky old card ; and you can't be
in love with this Lizzie ?"

" Oh, Sir !'^ expostulated Riah. " Oh, Sir, Sir, Sir I"

" Then why," retorted Fledgeby, with some slight
tinge of a blush, " don't you out with your reason for
having your spoon in the soup at all ?"

" Sir, I will tell you the truth. But (your pardon for
the stipulation) it is in sacred confidence ; it is strictly
upon honor."

" Honor too !" cried Fledgeby, with a mocking lip.
" Honor among Jews. Well. Cut avvay."

" It is upon honor. Sir ?" the other still stipulated,
with respectful firmness.

" Oh, certainly. Honor bright," said Fledgeby.

The old man, never bidden to sit down, stood with an
earnest hand laid on the back of the young man's easy-
chair. The young man sat looking at the fire with a face
of listening curiosity, ready to check him off and catch
him tripping.

" Cut away," said Fledgeby. " Start with your
motive."

" Sir, I have no motive but to help the helpless."

Mr. Fledgeby could only express the feelings to which
this incredible statement gave rise in his breast by a pro-
digiously long derisive sniff.

" How I came to know, and much to esteem and to
respect, this damsel, T mentioned when you saw her in my
poor garden on the house-top," said the Jew.

" Did you?" said Fledgeby, distrustfully. "TVell, per-
haps you did, though."

" The better I knew her, the more interest I felt in her
fortunes. They gathered to a crisis. I found her beset



18 OVR MUTUAL FEIENB.

by a selfish and ungrateful brother, beset by an unac-
ceptable wooer, beset by the snares of a more powerful
lover, beset by the wiles of her own heart."

" She took to one of the chaps then ?"

" Sir, it was only natural that she should incline
toward him, for he had many and great adyantages.
But he was not of her station, and to marry her was not
in his mind. Perils were closing round her. and the circle
was fast darkening, when I — being as you have said, Sir,
too old and broken to be suspected of any feeling for her
but a father's — stepped in, and counseled flight. I said,
' My daughter, there are times of moral danger when the
hardest virtuous resolution to form is flight, and when
the most heroic bravery is flight.' She answered, she had
had this in her thoughts ; but whither to fly without help
she knew not, and there were none to help her. I showed
her there was one to help her, and it was I. And she is
gone."

" What did you do with her ?" asked Fledgeby, feel-
ing his cheek.


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