marble effigies were in the church. With the
first planting of his foot upon the staircase of
his dusty office, all these mysteries increased ;
until, ascending step by step, as Tom ascended,
MRS. GAMP CREATES A SENSATION WITH UER UMBRELLA.
they attained their full growth in the solitary
labours of the day.
Every day brought one recurring, never-failing
source of speculation. This employer ; would
he come to-day, and what would he be like ?
For Tom could not stop short at Mr. Fips ; he
quite believed that Mr. Fips had spoken truly,
when he said he acted for another ; and what
manner of man that other was, became a full-
blown flower of wonder in the garden of Tom's
fancy, which never faded or got trodden down.
At one time, he conceived that Mr. Pecksniff,
repenting of his falsehood, might, by exertion of
his influence with some third person, have de-
vised these means of giving him employment.
He found this idea so insupportable after what
had taken place between that good man and
himself, that he confided it to John Westlock
on the very same day ; informing John that he
would rather ply for hire as a porter, than fall
so low in his own esteem as to accept the
smallest obligation from the hands of Mr. Peck-
sniff. But John assured him that he (Tom
Pinch) was far from doing justice to the cha-
racter of Mr. Pecksniff yet, if he supposed that
gentleman capable of performing a generous
MAR T1X CHUZZLE WIT.
action ; and that he might make his mind quite
easy on that h ! he saw the sun turn
green and the moon black, and at the same
time distinctly perceived with the naked eye,
twelve first-rate comets careering round those
planets. In which unusual state of things, he
said (and not before), it might become not
absolutely lunatic to suspect Mr. Pecksniff of
anything so monstrous. In short he Ian
the idea down, completely; and Tom, abandon-
ing it, was thrown upon his beam-ends again,
for some other solution.
In the meantime Tom attended to his duties
. and made considerable progress with the
books : which were already reduced to some
sort of order, and made a great appearance in
his fairly- written catalogue. During his business
hours, he indulged himself occasionally with
snatches of reading ; which were often, indeed,
a necessary part of his pursuit ; and as he
usually made bold to carry one of these goblin
volumes home at night (always bringing it back
again next morning, in case his strange em-
ployer should appear and ask what had become
of it), he led a happy, quiet, studious kind of
life, after his own heart.
But, though the books were never so interest-
ing, and never so full of novelty to Tom, they
could not so enchain him, in those mysterious
chambers, as to render him unconscious, for a
moment, of the lightest sound. Any footstep
on the flags without, set him listening atten-
tively, and when it turned into that house, and
came up, up, up, the stairs, he always thought
with a beating heart, " Now I am coming face
to face with him, at last ! " But no footstep
ever passed the floor immediately below : ex-
cept his own.
This mystery and loneliness engendered fan-
cies in Tom's mind, the folly of which his com-
mon sense could readily discover, but which
his common sense was quite unable to keep
away, notwithstanding; that quality being with
most of us, in such a case, like the old French
Police â€” quick at detection, but very weak as a
preventive power. Misgivings, undefined, ab
surd, inexplicable, that there was some one hid-
ing in the inner room â€” walking softly overhead,
peeping in through the doorchink, doing some-
thing stealthy, anywhere where he was not â€”
came over him a hundred times a day, making-
it pleasant to throw up the sash, and hold com-
munication even with the sparrows who had
built in the roof and water spout, and were
twittering about the windows all day long.
lie sat with the outer door wide open, at all
times, that he might hear the footsteps as they
entered, and turned off into the chambers on
the lower floors. Pie formed odd prepossessions
too, n rs in the streets ; and
would say within himself of such or such a man,
who struck him as having anything uncommon
in his dress or aspect, " I shouldn't wonder,
now, if that were But it never was. And
though he actually turned back and followed
more than one of these suspected individuals,
in a singular belief that they were going to the
place he was then upon his way from, he never
got any other satisiaction by it, than the satis-
faction of knowing it was not the case.
Mr. Fips, of Austin Friars, rather deepened
than illumined the obscurity of his position ;
for, on the first occasion of Tom's waiting on
him to receive his weekly pay, he said :
" Oh ! by-the-bye, Mr. Pinch, you needn't
mention it, if you please !"
Tom thought he was going to tell him a
secret; so he said that he wouldn't on any
account, and that Mr. Fips might entirely de-
pend upon him. But as Mr. Fips said " Very
good," in reply, and nothing more, Tom prompted
" Not on any account," repeated Tom.
Mr. Fips repeated " Very good."
"You were going to say" â€” Tom hinted.
"Oh dear no!" cried Fips. "Not at all."
However, seeing Tom confused, he added, " I
mean that you needn't mention any particulars
about your place of employment, to people
generally. You'll find it better not."
" I have not had the pleasure of seeing my
employer yet, sir," observed Tom, putting his
week's salary in his pocket.
"Haven't you?" said Fips. "No, I don't
suppose you have though."
" I should like to thank him, and to know
that what I have done so far, is done to his
satisfaction," faltered Tom.
"Quite right," said Mr. Fips, with a yawn.
" Highly creditable. Very proper."
Torn hastily resolved to try him on another
"I shall soon have fin! lied with the books,"
he said. " I hope that will not terminate my
engagement, sir, or render me useless."
"Oh dear no!" retorted Fips. "Plenty to
do : plen-ty to do ! Be careful how you go. It's
This was the very utmost extent of informa-
tion Tom could ever get out of him. So, it was
dark enough in all conscience: and if Mr. Fips
expressed himself with a double meaning he had
good reason for doing so.
But now a circumstance occurred, which
DOWN AMONG THE PACKETS.
helped to divert Tom's thoughts from even this
mystery, and to divide them between it and a
new channel, which was a very Nile in itself.
The way it came about was this. Having
always been an early riser, and having now no
organ to engage him in sweet converse every
morning, it was his habit to take a long walk
before going to the Temple ; and naturally in-
clining as a stranger, towards those parts of the
town which were conspicuous for the life and
animation pervading them, he became a great
frequenter of the market-places, bridges, quays,
and especially the steam-boat wharves ; for it
was very lively and fresh to see the people hurry-
ing away upon their many schemes of business
or pleasure, and it made Tom glad to think that
there was that much change and freedom in the
monotonous routine of city lives.
In most of these morning excursions Ruth
accompanied him. As their landlord was always
up and away at his business (whatever that might
be, no one seemed to know) at a very early
hour, the habits of the people of the house in
which they lodged corresponded with their own.
Thus, they had often finished their breakfast and
were out in the summer-air, by seven o'clock.
After a two hours' stroll they parted at some
convenient point ; Tom going to the Temple,
and his sister returning home, as methodically
as you please.
Many and many a pleasant stroll they had in
Covent-Garden Market : snuffing up the per-
fume of the fruits and flowers, wondering at the
magnificence of the pine-apples and melons ;
catching glimpses down side-avenues, of rows
and rows of old women, seated on inverted
baskets shelling peas ; looking unutterable things
at the fat bundles of asparagus with which the
dainty shops were fortified as with a breastwork ;
and at the herbalists' doors, gratefully inhaling
scents as of veal-stuffing yet uncooked, dreamily
mixed up with capsicums, brown-paper, seeds :
even with hints of lusty snails and fine young
curly leeches. Many and many a pleasant stroll
they had among the poultry markets, where
ducks and fowls, with necks unnaturally long,
lay stretched out in pairs, ready for cooking ;
where there were speckled eggs in mossy baskets,
white country sausages beyond impeachment by
surviving cat or dog, or horse or donkey, new
cheeses to any wild extent, live birds in coops
and cages, looking much too big to be natural,
in consequence of those receptacles being much
too little ; rabbits, alive and dead, innumerable.
Many a pleasant stroll they had among the
cool, refreshing, silvery fish-stalls, with a kind of
moonlight effect about their stock in trade, ex-
cepting always for the ruddy lobsters. Many a
pleasant stroll among the waggon-loads of fra-
grant hay, beneath which dogs and tired wag-
goners lay fast asleep, oblivious of the pieman
and the public-house. But, never half so good
a stroll, as down among the steam-boats on a
There they lay, alongside of each other; hard
and fast for ever, to all appearance, but designing
to get out somehow, and quite confident of doing
it ; and in that faith shoals of passengers, ami
heaps of luggage, were proceeding hurriedly on
board. Little steam-boats dashed up and down
the stream incessantly. Tiers upon tiers of
vessels, scores of masts, labyrinths of tackle, idle
sads, splashing oars, gliding row-boats, lumber-
ing barges, sunken piles, with ugly lodgings for
the water-rat within their mud-discoloured nooks ;
church-steeples, warehouses, house-roofs, arches,
bridges, men and women, children, casks, cranes,
boxes, horses, coaches, idlers, and hard-labourers :
there they were, all jumbled up together, any
summer morning, far beyond Tom's power of
In the midst of all this turmoil, there was an
incessant roar from every packet's funnel, which
quite expressed and carried out the uppermost
emotion of the scene. They all appeared to be
perspiring and bothering themselves, exactly as
their passengers did ; they never left off fretting
and chafing, in their own hoarse manner, once ;
but were always panting out, without any stops,
" Come along do make haste I'm very nervous
come along oh good gracious Ave shall never get
there how late you are do make haste I'm off
directly come along !"'
Even when they had left off, and had got
safely out into the current, on the smallest pro-
vocation they began again : for the bravest
packet of them all, being stopped by some en-
tanglement in the river, would immediately
begin to fume and pant afresh, "Oh here's a
stoppage what's the matter do go on there I'm
in a hurry it's done on purpose did you ever oh
my goodness do go on there !" and so, in a state
of mind bordering on distraction, would be last
seen drifting slowly through the mist into the
summer light beyond, that made it red.
Tern's ship, however, or, at least, the packet-
boat in which Tom and his sister took the
greatest interest on one particular occasion;
was not off yet, by any means ; but was at the
height of its disorder. The press of passengers
was very great ; another steam-boat lay on each
side of' her ; the gangways were choked up ;
distracted women, obviously bound for Graves-
end, but turning a deaf ear to all representations
JA i R TIN CHUZZLK WIT.
that this particular vessel was about to sail for
Antwerp, persisted in secreting baskets of re-
freshments behind bulk-heads and water-casks,
and under seats ; and very great confusion pre-
It was so amusing, that Tom, with Ruth upon
his arm, stood looking down from tire wharf, as
nearly regardless as it was in the nature of flesh
and blood to be, of an elderly lady behind him.
who had brought a large umbrella with her, and
didn't know what to do with it. This tremen-
dous instrument had a hooked handle; and its
vicinity was first made known to him by a pain-
ful pressure on the windpipe, consequent upon
its having caught him round the throat. Soon
after disengaging himself with perfect good
humour, he had a sensation of the ferule in his
back ; immediately afterwards, of the hook en-
tangling his ankles ; then of the umbrella gene-
rally, wandering about his hat, and flapping at
it like a great bird ; and lastly, of a poke or
thrust below the ribs, which gave him such ex-
ceeding anguish, that he could not refrain from
turning round, to offer a mild remonstrance.
Upon his turning round, he found the owner
of the umbrella struggling, on tiptoe, with a
countenance expressive of violent animosity, to
look down upon the steam-boats; from which
he inferred that she had attacked him, standing
in the front row, by design, as her natural
'â€¢ What a very ill-natured person you must
be ! " said Tom.
The lady cried out fiercely, " Where's the
pelisse !" â€” meaning the constabulary â€” and went
on to say, shaking the handle of the umbrella at
Tom, that but for them fellers never being in the
way when they was wanted, she'd have given him
in charge, she would.
" If they greased their whiskers less, and
minded the duties which they're paid so heavy
for, a little more," she observed, "no one
needn't be drove mad by scrouding so ! "
She had been grievously knocked about, no
doubt, for her bonnet was bent into the shape
of a cocked hat. Being a fat little woman, too,
she was in a state of great exhaustion and in-
tense heat. Instead of pursuing the altercation,
therefore, Tom civilly inquired what boat she
wanted to go on board of.
" I suppose," returned the lady, Â« as nobody
but yourself can want to look at a steam package,
without wanting to go a boarding of it, can they !
Looby ! "
" Which one do you want to look at then?''
said Tom. " We'll make room for you if we
can. Don't be so ill-tempered."
" No blessed creetur as ever I was with in
trying limes," returned the lady, somewhat soft-
ened, "and they're a many in their numbers,
ever brought it as a charge again myself that I
was anythin' but mild and equal in my spirits.
Never mind a contradicting of me, if you seems
to feel it does you good, ma'am. I often says, for
well you know that Sairey may be trusted not to
give it back again. But I will not denige that I
am worrited and wexed this day, and with good
reagion, Lord forbid ! "
By this time, Mrs. Cam]) (for it was no other
than that experienced practitioner) had, with
Tom's assistance, squeezed and worked herself
into a small corner between Ruth and the rail ;
where, after breathing very hard for some little
time, and performing a short series of dangerous
evolutions with the umbrella, she managed to
establish herself pretty comfortably.
" And which of all them smoking monsters is
the Ankworks boat, I wonder, Goodness me ! "
cried Mrs. Gamp.
" What boat did you want ? " asked Ruth.
" The Ankworks package," Mrs. Gamp re-
plied. " I will not deceive you, my sweet. Why
" That is the Antwerp packet in the middle,"
" And I wish it was in Jonadge's belly, I do,"
cried Mrs. Gamp ; appearing to confound the
prophet with the whale in this miraculous as-
Ruth said nothing in reply ; but, as Mrs.
Gamp, laying her chin against the cool iron of
the rail, continued to look intently at the Ant-
werp boat, and every now and then to give a
little groan, she inquired whether any child of
hers was going abroad that morning ? Or per-
haps her husband, she said kindly.
" Which shows," said Mrs. Gamp, casting up
her eyes, " what a little way you've travelled
into this wale of life, my dear young creetur !
As a good friend of mine has frequent made
remark to me, which her name, my love, is
Harris, Mrs. Harris through the square and up
the steps a turnin' round by the tobacker shop,
' Oh Sairey, Sairey, little do we know wot lays
afore us ! ' ' Mrs. Harris ma'am,' I says, ' not
much, it's true, but more than you suppoge.
Our calculations, ma'am,' I says, 'respectin' wot
the number of a family will be, comes most
times within one, and oftener than you would
suppoge, exact.' ' Sairey,' says Mrs. Harris, in
an awful way, ' Tell me wot is my indiwidgle
number.' ' No, Mrs. Harris,' I says to her,
' ex-cuge me, if you please. My own,' I says,
' has fallen out of three-pair backs, and had
MI$S. GAMP ON THE STEAM-ENGINE.
damp doorsteps settled on their lungs, and one
was turned up smilin' in a bedstead unbeknown.
Therefore, ma'am,' I says, ' seek not to protici-
pate, but take 'em as they come and as they go.'
Mine," said Mrs. Gamp, " mine is all gone, my
dear young chick. And as to husbands, there's
a wooden leg gone likeways home to it's ac-
count, which in its constancy of walkin' into
wine vaults, and never comin' out again 'till
fetched by force, was quite as weak as flesh, if
When she had delivered this oration, Mrs.
Gamp leaned her chin upon the cool iron again ;
and looking intently at the Antwerp packet,
shook her head and groaned.
" I wouldn't," said Mrs. Gamp, " I wouldn't
be a man and have such a think upon my mind !
â€” but nobody as owned the name of man, could
Tom and his sister glanced at each other;
and Ruth, after a moment's hesitation, asked
Mrs. Gamp what troubled her so much.
" My dear," returned that lady, dropping her
voice, "you are single, ain't you?"
Ruth laughed, blushed, and said " Yes."
"Worse luck/' proceeded Mrs. Gamp, "for
all parties ! But others is married, and in the
marriage state ; and there is a dear young
creetur a comin' down this mornin' to that
very package, Avhich is no more fit to trust
herself to sea, than nothin' is ! "
She paused here, to look over the deck of the
packet in question, and on the steps leading
down to it, and on the gangways. Seeming to
have thus assured herself that the object of her
commiseration had not yet arrived, she raised
her eyes gradually up to the top of the escape-
pipe, and indignantly apostrophised the vessel :
" Oh drat you ! " said Mrs. Gamp, shaking
her umbrella at it, " you're a nice spluttering
nisy monster for a delicate young creetur to go
and be a passinger by ; ain't you ! You never
do no harm in that way, do you ? With your
hammering, and roaring, and hissing, and lamp-
iling, you brute ! Them Confugion steamers,"
said Mrs. Gamp, shaking her umbrella again,
" has done more to throw us out of our reg'lar
work and bring ewents on at times when nobody
counted on 'em (especially them screeching
railroad ones), than all the other frights that
ever was took. I have heerd of one young
man, a guard upon a railway, only three year
opened â€” well does Mrs. Harris know him,
which indeed he is her own relation by her
sister's marriage with a master sawyer â€” as is
godfather at this present time to six-and-twenty
blessed little strangers, equally unexpected, and
all on 'em named after the Ingeins as was the
cause. Ugh ! " said Mrs. Gamp, resuming her
apostrophe, "one might easy know you was a
man's invention, from your disregardlessness of
the weakness of our naturs, so one might, you
brute ! "
It would not have been unnatural to suppose,
from the first part of Mrs. Gamp's lamentations,
that she was connected with the stage-coaching
or post-horsing trade. She had no means of
judging of the effect of her concluding re-
marks upon her young companion ; for she
interrupted herself at this point, and exclaimed :
" There she identically goes ! Poor sweet
young creetur, there she goes, like a lamb to the
sacrifige ! If there's any illness when that wessel
gets to sea," said Mrs. Gamp, prophetically, " it's
murder, and I'm the witness for the persecu-
She was so very earnest on the subject, that
Tom's sister (being as kind as Tom himself),
could not help saying something to her in
" Pray which is the lady," she inquired, " in
whom you are so much interested ? "
"There!" groaned Mrs. Gamp. "There
she goes ! A crossin' the little wooden bridge
at this minute. She's a slippin' on a bit of
orange-peel ! " tightly clutching her umbrella.
" What a turn it give me ! "
" Do you mean the lady who is with that
man wrapped up from head to foot in a large
cloak, so that his face is almost hidden ? "
" Well he may hide it !" Mrs. Gamp replied.
" He's good call to be ashamed of himself.
Did you see him a jerking of her wrist, then ?"
" He seems to be hasty with her, indeed."
" Now he's a taking of her down into the
close cabin ! " said Mrs. Gamp, impatiently.
" What's the man about ! The deuce is in
him I think. Wiiy can't he leave her in the
open air ? "
He did not, whatever his reason was, but led
her quickly down and disappeared himself,
without loosening his cloak, or pausing on the
crowded deck one moment longer than was
necessary to clear their way to that part of the
Tom had not heard this little dialogue ; for
his attention had been engaged in an unex-
pected manner. A hand upon his sleeve had
caused him to look round, just when Mrs.
Gamp concluded her apostrophe to the steam-
engine ; and on his right arm, Ruth being on
his left, he found their landlord : to his great
He was not so much surprised at the man's
being there, as at his having got close to him
so quietly and swiftly ; for another person had
been at his elbow one instant before : and he
had not in the meantime been conscious of any
change or pressure in the knot of pe< iple among
whom he stood, lie and Ruth had frequently
remarked how noiselessly this landlord of theirs
came into and went out of his own house ; but
Tom was not the less amazed to see him at his
'â€¢ I beg your pardon, Mr. Pinch," he said in
his ear. '" I am rather infirm, and out of
breath, and my eyes are not very good. I am
not as young as I was, sir. You don't see a
gentleman in a large cloak down yonder, with a
lady on his ami ; a lady in a veil and a black
shawl ; do you?"
If he did not, it was curious that in speaking
he should have singled out from all the crowd
the very people whom he described : and should
have glanced hastily from them to Tom, as if
he were burning to direct his wandering eyes.
"A gentleman in a large cloak!" said Tom,
" and a lady in a black shawl ! Let me see ! "
' ; Yes, yes ! " replied the other, with keen
impatience. "A gentleman muffled up from
head to foot â€” strangely muffled up for such a
morning as this â€” like an invalid, with his hand
to his face at this minute, perhaps. No, no,
no ! not there," he added, following Tom's
gaze ; " the other way ; in that direction ; down
yonder." Again he indicated, but this time in
his hurry, with his outstretched finger, the very
spot on which the progress of these persons was
checked at that moment.
" There are so many people, and so much
motion, and so many objects," said Tom, " that
I find it difficult to â€” no, I really don't see a
gentleman in a large cloak, and a lady in a
black shawl. There's a lady in a red shawl
over there !"
" No, no, no !" cried his landlord, pointing
eagerly again, " not there. The other way : the
other way. Look at the cabin steps. To the
left. They must be near the cabin steps. Do
you see the cabin steps? There's the bell
ringing already ! Do you see the steps ? "
" Stay ! " said Tom, " you're right. Look !
there they go now. Is that the gentleman you
mean? Descending at this minute, with the
folds of a great cloak trailing down after him ? "
" The very man ! " returned the other, not
looking at what Tom pointed out, however, but
at Tom's own face. "Will you do me a kind-
ness, sir, a great kindness ? Will you put that
letter in his hand? Only give him that ? He
expects it. I am charged to do it by my em-
ployers, but I am late in finding him, and, not
being as young as I have been, should never be
able to make my way on board and oft" the deck
again in time. Will you pardon my boldness,
and do me that great kindness?"'
His hands shook, and his face bespoke the
utmost interest and agitation, as he pressed the
upon Tom, and pointed to its destination,
like the Tempter in some grim old carving.
To hesitate in the performance of a good-
natured or compassionate office, was not in
Tone's way. He took the letter; whispered
Ruth to wait till he returned, which would be
immediately ; and ran down the steps with all