" In the nose of my eldest and the chin of
my youngest, Mr. Chuzzlewit," returned the
widower, " their sainted parent — not myself,
their mother — lives again."
" I don't mean in person," said the old man.
" Morally — morally."
" 'Tis not for me to say," retorted Mr. Peck-
sniff with a gentle smile. " I have done my
" I could wish to see them," said Martin j
"are they near at hand?"
They were, very near; for they had, in fact,
been listening at the door, from the beginning
of this conversation until now, when they pre-
cipitately retired. Having wiped the signs of
weakness from his eyes, and so given them time
to get up-stairs, Mr. Pecksniff opened the door,
and mildly cried in the passage,
" My own darlings, where are you?''
"Here, my dear pa!" replied the distant
voice of Charity.
" Come down into the back parlour, if you
please, my love," said Mr. Pecksniff, " and
bring your sister with you."
" Yes, my dear pa," cried Merry ; and down
they came directly (being all obedience), singing
as they came.
Nothing could exceed the astonishment of
the two Miss Pecksniffs when they found a
stranger with their dear papa. Nothing could
surpass their mute amazement when he said.
" My children, Mr. Chuzzlewit !" But when he
told them that Mr. Chuzzlewit and he were
friends, and that Mr. Chuzzlewit had said such
kind and tender words as pierced his very heart,
the two Miss Pecksniffs cried with one accord,
"Thank Heaven for this!" and fell upon tin-
old man's neck. And when they had embraced
him with such fervour of affection that no words
ran describe it, they grouped themselves about
his chair, and hung over him : as figuring to
themselves no earthly joy like that of minister-
ing to his wants, and crowding into the re-
mainder of his life, the love they would have
diffused over their whole existence, from infancy,
if he — dear obdurate ! — had but consented to
receive the precious offering.
VERY IMPORTANT CONVERSATION.
The old man looked attentively from one to the
other, and then at Mr. Pecksniff, several times.
" What," he asked of Mr. Pecksniff, happening
to catch his eye in its descent : for until now it
had been piously upraised, with something of
that expression which the poetry of ages has
attributed to a domestic bird, when breathing
its last amid the ravages of an electric storm :
" What are their names?"
Mr. Pecksniff told him, and added, rather
hastily — his calumniators would have said, with
a view to any testamentary thoughts that might
be flitting through old Martin's mind — " Per-
haps, my dears, you had better write them
down. Your humble autographs are of no value
in themselves, but affection may prize them."
"Affection," said the old man, "will expend
itself on the living originals. Do not trouble
yourselves, my girls, I shall not so easily forget
you, Charity and Mercy, as to need such tokens
of remembrance. Cousin !"
" Sir ! " said Mr. Pecksniff, with alacrity.
" Do you never sit down ?"
"Why — yes — occasionally, sir," said Mr.
Pecksniff, who had been standing all this time.
" Will you do so now?"
" Can you ask me," returned Mr. Pecksniff,
slipping into a chair immediately, " whether I
will do anything that you desire ?"
"You talk confidently," said Martin, "and
you mean well ; but I fear you don't know what
an old man's humours are. You don't know
what it is to be required to court his likings and
dislikings ■ to adapt yourself to his prejudices ;
to do his bidding, be it what it may ; to bear
with his distrusts and jealousies ; and always
still be zealous in his service. When I remem-
ber how numerous these failings are in me, and
judge of their occasional enormity by the inju-
rious thoughts I lately entertained of you, I
hardly dare to claim you for my friend."
" My worthy sir," returned his relative, " how
can you talk in such a painful strain ! What
was more natural than that you should make
one slight mistake, when in all other respects
you were so very correct, and have had such
reason — such very sad and undeniable reason —
to judge of every one about you in the worst
light ! "
" True," replied the other. " You are very
lenient with me."
"We always said — my girls and I," cried Mr.
Pecksniff with increasing obsequiousness, " that
while we mourned the heaviness of our misfor-
tune in being confounded with the base and
mercenary, still we could not wonder at it. My
dears, you remember?"
Oh vividly ! A thousand times !
'• We uttered no complaint," said Mr. Peck-
sniff. " Occasionally we had the presumption
to console ourselves with the remark that Truth
would in the end prevail, and Virtue be triumph-
ant ; but not often. My loves, you recollect?"
Recollect! Could he doubt it? Dearest pa,
what strange, unnecessary questions !
" And when I saw you," resumed Mr. Peck-
sniff, with still greater deference, " in the little,
unassuming village where we take the liberty of
dwelling, I said you were mistaken in me, my
dear sir : that was all, I think?"
" No — not all," said Martin, who had been
sitting with his hand upon his brow for some
time past, and now looked up again : "you said
much more, which, added to other circumstances
that have come to my knowledge, opened my
eyes. You spoke to me. disinterestedly, on be-
half of — I needn't name him. You know whom
Trouble was expressed in Mr. Pecksniff's
visage, as he pressed his hot hands together,
and replied, with humility, "Quite disinterestedly,
sir, I assure you."
" I know it," said old Martin, in his quiet
way. " I am sure of it. I said so. It was dis-
interested too, in you, to draw that herd of
harpies off from me, and be their victim yourself;
most other men would have suffered them to
display themselves in all their rapacity, and
would have striven to rise, by contrast, in my
estimation. You felt for me, and drew them off,
for which I owe you many thanks. Although I
left the place, I know what passed behind my
back, you see !"
"You amaze me, sir!" cried Mr. Pecksniff:
which was true enough.
" My knowledge of your proceedings," said the
old man, " does not stop at this. You have a
new inmate in your house — "
" Yes, sir," rejoined the architect, " I have."
" He must quit it," said Martin.
"For — for yours?" asked Mr. Pecksniff, with
a quavering mildness.
" For any shelter he can find," the old man
answered. " He has deceived you."
" I hope not," said Mr. Pecksniff eagerly.
" I trust not. I have been extremely well dis-
posed towards that young man. I hope it can-
not be shown that he has forfeited all claim to
my protection. Deceit — deceit, my dear Mr.
Chuzzlewit, would be final. I should hold my-
self bound on proof of deceit, to renounce him
The old man glanced at both his fair sup-,
porters, but especially at Miss Mercy, whom,
indeed, he looked full in the face, with a greater
demonstration of interest than had yet appeared
in his features. His gaze again encountered
Mr. Pecksniff, as he said, composedly :
" Of course you know that he has made his
"Oh dear:*' cried Mr. Pecksniff, rubbing
his hair up very stiff upon his head, and staring
wildly at his daughters. "This is becoming
"You know the fact?'' repeated Martin.
" Surely not without his grandfather's consent
and approbation, my dear sir !" cried Mr. Peck-
sniff. " Don't tell me that. For the honour
of human nature, say you're not about to tell
'• 1 thought he had suppressed it," said the
The indignation felt by Mr. Pecksniff at this
terrible disclosure, was only to be equalled by
the kindling anger of his daughters. What !
Had they taken to their hearth and home a
secretly contracted serpent ; a crocodile who
had made a furtive offer of his hand ; an impo-
sition on society ; a bankrupt bachelor with no
effects, trading with the spinster world on false
pretences ! And oh, to think that he should
have disobeyed and practised on that sweet,
that venerable gentleman, whose name he bore ;
that kind and tender guardian ; his more than
father — to say nothing at all of mother —
horrible, horrible ! To turn him out with igno-
miny would be treatment, much too good.
Was there nothing else that could be done to
him? Had he incurred no legal pains and
penalties ? Could it be that the statutes of the
land were so remiss as to have affixed no punish-
ment to such delinquency? Monster; how
basely had they been deceived !
" I am glad to find you second me so
warmly," said the old man, holding up his hand
to stay the torrent of their wrath. " I will not
deny that it is a pleasure to me to find you
so full of zeal. We will consider that topic as
" No, my dear sir," cried Mr. Pecksniff, " not
as disposed of, until I have purged my house of
'• That will follow," said the old man, " in its
own time. I look upon that as dom ."
'■ You are very good, sir," answered Mr.
Pecksniff, shaking his hand. " You do me
honour. You may look upon it as done, I
" There is another topic," said Martin, " on
hlhopi you will assist me. You remember
" The young lady that I mentioned to you,
my dears, as having interested me so very much,"
remarked Mr. Pecksniff. " Excuse me inter-
rupting you, sir.''
" I told you her history;'' said the old man.
" Which I also mentioned, you will recollect,
my dears," cried Mr. Pecksniff. "Silly girls,
Mr. Chuzzlewit — quite moved by it, they were !"
" Why look now," said Martin, evidently
pleased : " I feared I should have had to urge
her case upon you, and ask you to regard her
favourably for my sake. But I find you have no
jealousies ! Well ! You have no cause for any,
to be sure. She has nothing to gain, from me,
my dears, and she knows it."
The two • Miss Pecksniffs murmured their
approval of this wise arrangement, and their cor-
dial sympathy with its interesting object.
" If I could have anticipated what has
come to pass between us four," said the old
man, thoughtfully : " but it is too late to think
of that. You would receive her courteously,
young ladies, and be kind to her, if need
Where was the orphan whom the two Miss
Pecksniffs would not have cherished in their
sisterly bosom? But when that orphan was
commended to their care by one on whom the
dammed-up love of years was gushing forth,
what exhaustless stores of pure affection yearned
to expend themselves upon her !
An interval ensued, during which Mr. Chuz-
zlewit, in an absent frame of mind, sat gazing
at the ground, without uttering a word : and
as it was plain that he had no desire to be
interrupted in his meditations, Mr. Pecksniff
and his daughters were profoundly silent also.
During the whole of the foregoing dialogue,
he had borne his part with a cold, passionless
promptitude, as though he had learned and
painfully rehearsed it all, a hundred times.
Even when his expressions were warmest and
his language most encouraging, he had retained
the same manner, without the least abate-
ment. But now there was a keener brightness
in his eye, and more expression in his voice, as
he said, awakening from his thoughtful mood:
" You know what will be said of this ? Have
"Said of what, my dear sir?" Mr. Pecksniff
" Of this new understanding between us."
Mr. Pecksniff looked benevolently sagacious,
and at the same time far above all earthly mis-
construction, as he shook his head, and observed
that a great many things would be said of it, no
A DELIGHTFUL UNDERSTANDING ESTABLISHED.
" A great many," rejoined the old man. " Some
will say that I dote in my old age ; that illness
has shaken me ; that I have lost all strength of
mind ; and have grown childish. You can bear
Mr. Pecksniff answered that it would be dread-
fully hard to bear, but he thought he could, if
he made a great effort.
" Others will say — I speak of disappointed,
angry people only — that you have lied and
fawned, and wormed yourself through dirty
Mays into my favour ; by such concessions and
such crooked deeds, such meannesses and vile
endurances as nothing could repay : no, not the
legacy of half the world we live in. You can
Mr. Pecksniff made reply that this would
be also very hard to bear, as reflecting, in
some degree, on the discernment of Mr. Chuz-
zlewit. Still he had a modest confidence that
he could sustain the calumny, with the help
of a good conscience, and that gentleman's
" With the great mass of slanderers," said old
Martin, leaning back in his chair, " the tale, as
I clearly foresee, will run thus : That to mark
my contempt for the rabble whom I despised, I
chose from among them the very worst, and
made him do my will, and pampered and en-
riched him at the cost of all the rest. That,
after casting about for the means of a punish-
ment which should rankle in the bosoms of
these kites the most, and strike into their gall,
I devised this scheme at a time when the last
link in the chain of grateful love and duty that
held me to my race, was roughly snapped
asunder : roughly, for I loved him well ; roughly,
for I had ever put my trust in his affection ;
roughly, for that he broke it when I loved him
most — God help me ! — and he without a pang
could throw me off, while I clung about his
heart ! Now," said the old man, dismissing
this passionate outburst, as suddenly as he had
yielded to it, " is your mind made up to bear
this likewise? Lay your account with having
it to bear, and put no trust in being set right
" My dear Mr. Chuzzlewit," cried Pecksniff
in an ecstasy, " for such a man as you have
shown yourself to be this day ; for a man so
injured, yet so very humane ; for a man so
— I am at a loss what precise term to use —
yet at the same time so remarkably — I don't
know how to express my meaning ; for such a
man as I have described, I hope it is no pre-
sumption to say that I, and I am sure I may
add my children also (my dears, we perfectly
agree in this, I think?), would bear anything
" Enough," said Martin. " You can charge
no consequences on me. When do you return
"Whenever you please, my dear sir. To-
night, if you desire it."
" I desire nothing," returned the old man,
" that is unreasonable. Such a request would
be. Will you be ready to return at the end of
The very time of all others that Mr. Pecksniff
would have suggested if it had been left to him
to make his own choice. As to his daughters —
the words, " Let us be at home on Saturday,
dear pa," were actually upon their lips.
" Your expenses, cousin," said Martin, taking
a folded slip of paper from his pocket-book,
" may possibly exceed that amount. If so, let
me know the balance that I owe you, when we
next meet. It would be useless if I told you
where I live just now : indeed, I have no fixed
abode. When I have, you shall know it. You
and your daughters may expect to see me before
long : in the mean time I need not tell you, that
we keep our own confidence. What you will do
when you get home, is understood between us.
Give me no account of it at any time ; and
never refer to it in any way. I ask that, as a
favour. I am commonly a man of few words,
cousin ; and all that need be said just now is
said, I think."
" One glass of wine — one morsel of this
homely cake ?" cried Mr. Pecksniff, venturing
to detain him. " My dears ! — "
The sisters flew to wait upon him.
" Poor girls !" said Mr. Pecksniff. " You will
excuse their agitation, my dear sir. They are
made up of feeling. A bad commodity to go
through the world with, Mr. Chuzzlewit ! My
youngest daughter is almost as much of a woman
as my eldest, is she not, sir?"
" Which is the youngest ?" asked the old man.
" Mercy, by five years," said Mr. Pecksniff.
" We sometimes venture to consider her rather
a fine figure, sir. Speaking as an artist, I may
perhaps be permitted to suggest, that its outline
is graceful and correct. I am naturally," said
Mr. Pecksniff, drying his hands upon his hand-
kerchief, and looking anxiously in his cousin's
face at almost every word, " proud, if I may use
the expression, to have a daughter who is con-
structed upon the best models."
" She seems to have a lively disposition," ob-
"Dear me!" said Mr. Pecksniff, "that is
quite remarkable. You have defined her charac-
ter, my dear sir, as correctly as if you had known
her from her birth. She has a lively dispositii n.
I assure you, my dear sir, that in our unpre-
tending home, her gaiety is delightful."
'• Xo doubt," returned the old man.
" Charity, upon the other hand," said Mr.
Pecksniff, " is remarkable for strong sense, and
for rather a deep tone of sentiment, if the par-
tiality of a father may be excused in saying so.
A wonderful affection between them, my dear
sir ! Allow me to drink your health. Bless
" I little thought," retorted Martin, " but a
month ago, that I should be breaking bread and
pouring wine with you. I drink to you."
Not at all abashed by the extraordinary
abruptness with which these latter words were
spoken, Mr. Pecksniff thanked him devoutly.
" Xow let me go," said Martin, putting down
the wine when he had merely touched it with
his lips. " My dears, good morning !"
But this distant form of farewell was by no
means tender enough for the yearnings of the
young ladies, who again embraced him with all
their hearts — with all their arms at any rate— to
which parting caresses their new-found friend
submitted with a better grace than might have
been expected from one who, not a moment
before, had pledged their parent in such a very
uncomfortable manner. These endearments
terminated, he took a hasty leave of Mr. Peck-
sniff, and withdrew, followed to the door by
both father and daughters, who stood there,
kissing their hands, and beaming with affection
until he disappeared : though, by the way, he
never once looked back, after he had crossed
"When they returned into the house, and were
again alone in Mrs. Todgers's room, the two
young ladies exhibited an unusual amount of
gaiety; insomuch that they clapped their hands,
and laughed, and looked with roguish aspects
and a bantering air upon their dear papa. This
conduct was so very unaccountable, that Mr.
Pecksniff (being singularly grave himself) could
scarcely choose but ask them what it meant;
and took them to task, in his gentle manner, for
yielding to such light emotions.
"If it was possible to divine any cau.
this merriment, even the most remote,'" he
" I should not reprove you. But when you can
have none whatever — oh, really, really !"
This admonition had so little effect on ?>:
that she was obliged to hold her handkerchief
before her rosy lips, and to throw herseli '
in her chair, with every demonstration of extreme
amusement; which want of duty so offended
Mr. Pecksniff that he reproved her in set terms,
and gave her his parental advice to correct her-
self in solitude and contemplation. But at that
juncture they were disturbed by the sound of
voices in dispute; and as it proceeded from the
next room, the subject matter of die altercation
quickly reached their ears.
" I don't care that ! Mrs. Todgers," said the
young gentleman who had been the youngest
gentleman in company on the day of the festival ;
"I don't care that, ma'am," said he, snapping
his fingers, " for Jinkins. Don't suppose I do."
" I am quite certain you don't, sir," replied
Mrs. Todgers. " You have too independent a
spirit, I know, to yield to anybody. And quite
right. There is no reason why you should give
way to any gentleman. Everybody must be well
aware of that."
" I should think no more of admitting daylight
into the fellow," said the youngest gentleman, in
a desperate voice, " than if he was a bull-dog."
Mrs. Todgers did not stop to inquire whether,
as a matter of principle, there was any particular
reason for admitting daylight even into a bull-
dog, otherwise than by the natural channel of
his eyes : but she seemed to wring her hands :
and she moaned.
" Let him be careful," said the youngest
gentleman. " I give him warning. No man
shall step between me and the current of my
vengeance. I know a Cove — " he used that
familiar epithet in his agitation, but corrected
himself, by adding, " a gentleman of property,
I mean — who practises with a pair of pistols
(fellows too,) of his own. If I am driven to
borrow 'em, and to send a friend to Jinkins, a
tragedy will get into the papers. That's all."
Again Mrs. Todgers moaned.
" I have borne this long enough," said the
youngest gentleman, "but now my soul rebels
against it, and I won't stand it any longer.
I left home originally, because I had that within
me which wouldn't be r by a
i ; and do you think I'm going to be put
down b)' him ? No."
" It is very wrong in Mr. Jinkins ; I know it
is perfectly inexcusable in Mr. Jinkins, if he
intends it," observed Mrs. Todgers.
" If he intends it !" cried the youngest gentle-
man. " Don't he interrupt and contradict me
on every occasion? Does he ever fail to inter-
pose himself between me and anything or any-
that he sees I have set my mind upon?
i he make a point of always | ling to
i me, when he's pouring out the beer?
Does he make bragging remarks about his
razors, and insulting allusions to people who
MRS. TODGERS IN TROUBLE.
have no necessity to shave more than once a
week? But let him look out; he'll find himself
shaved, pretty close, before long ; and so I tell
The young gentleman was mistaken in this
closing sentence, inasmuch as he never told it
to Jinkins, but always to Mrs. Todgers.
" However," he said, " these are not proper
subjects for ladies' ears. All I've got to say to
you, Mrs. Todgers, is, — a week's notice from
next Saturday. The same house can't contain
that miscreant and me any longer. If we get
over the intermediate time without bloodshed,
you may think yourself pretty fortunate. I don't
myself expect we shall."
"Dear, dear!" cried Mrs. Todgers, "what
would I have given to have prevented this?
To lose you, sir, would be like losing the house's
right-hand. So popular as you are among the
gentlemen ; so generally looked up to ; and so
much liked ! I do hope you'll think better of
it ; if on nobody else's account, on mine."
" There's Jinkins," said the youngest gentle-
man, moodily. " Your favourite. He'll console
you, and the gentlemen too, for the loss of
twenty such as me. I'm not understood in this
house. I never have been."
"Don't run away with that opinion, sir!"
cried Mrs. Todgers, with a show of honest
indignation. " Don't make such a charge as
that against the establishment, I must beg of
you. It is not so bad as that comes to, sir.
Make any remark you please against the gentle-
men, or against me ; but don't say you're not
understood in this house."
" I'm not treated as if I was," said the
" There you make a great mistake, sir," re-
turned Mrs. Todgers, in the same strain. " As
many of the gentlemen and I have often said,
you are too sensitive. That's where it is. You
are of too susceptible a nature; it's in your spirit."
The young gentleman coughed.
" And as," said Mrs. Todgers, " as to Mr.
Jinkins, I must beg of you, if we are to part, to
understand that I don't abet Mr. Jinkins by any
means. Far from it. I could wish that Mr.
Jinkins would take a lower tone in this establish-
ment ; and would not be the means of raising
differences between me and gentlemen that I
can much less bear to part with, than I could
with Mr. Jinkins. Mr. Jinkins is not such a
boarder, sir," added Mrs. Todgers, " that all
considerations of private feeling and respect
give way before him. Quite the contrary, I
The young gentleman was so much mollified
by these and similar speeches on the part of
Mrs. Todgers, that he and that lady gradually
changed positions; so that she became the
injured party, and he was understood to be the
injurer; but in a complimentary, not in an
offensive sense ; his cruel conduct being attribut-
able to his exalted nature, and to that alone.
So, in the end, the young gentleman withdrew
his notice, and assured Mrs. Todgers of his un-
alterable regard : and having done so, went
back to business.
" Goodness me, Miss Pecksniffs !" cried that