Charles Dickens.

Life and adventures of Martin Chuzzlewit online

. (page 12 of 80)
Online LibraryCharles DickensLife and adventures of Martin Chuzzlewit → online text (page 12 of 80)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

"Although I had conducted myself from the first with the
utmost circumspection," pursued Martin, " I had not managed
matters so well but that my grandfather, who is full of jealousy
and distrust, suspected me of loving her. He said nothing to her,
but straigiitway attacked me in private, and charged me with
designing to corrupt the fidelity to himself (there you observe his
selfishness), of a young creature whom lie had trained and educated
to be his only disinterested and faithful companion when he sliould
have disposed of me in marriage to his heart's content. Upon
that, I took fire immediately, and told him that with his good
leave I would dispose of myself in marriage, and would rather not
be knocked down by him or any other auctioneer to any bidder

]\[r. Pinch opened his eyes wider and looked at the fire harder
than he had done yet.


"You may be sure," said Martin, "that tliis nettled him, and
that he began to be tlie very reverse of complimentary to myself.
Interview succeeded interview ; words engendered words, as they
always do ; and the upshot of it was, that I was to renounce her,
or be renounced by him. Now you must bear in mind. Pinch, that
I am not only desperately fond of her (for though she is poor, her
beauty and intellect would reflect great credit on anybody, I don't
care of what pretensions, who might become her husband), but
that a chief ingredient in my composition is a most determined — "
" Obstinacy," suggested Tom in peifect good faith. But the
suggestion was not so well received as he had expected ; for the
young man immediately rejoined, with some irritation,
" What a fellow you are, Pinch ! "

" I beg your pardon," said Tom, "I thought you wanted a word."

" I didn't want that word," he rejoined. " I told you obstinacy

was no part of my character, did I not 1 I was going to say, if

you had given me leave, that a chief ingredient iu my composition

is a most determined firmness."

" Oh!" cried Tom, screwing up his mouth, and nodding. "Yes,
yes ; I see ! "

"And being firm," pursued Martin, "of course I was not going
to yield to him, or give way by so much as the thousandth part of
an inch."

" No, no," said Tom.

" On the contrary ; the more he urged, the more I was deter-
mined to oppose him."

" To be sure ! " said Tom.

"Very well," rejoined Martin, throwing himself back in his
chair, with a careless wave of both hands, as if the subject were
quite settled, and nothing more could be said about it — "There is
an end of the matter, and here am I ! "

Mr. Pinch sat staring at the fire for some minutes with a
puzzled look, such as he might have assumed if some uncommonly
difficult conundrum had been proposed, which he found it impos-
sible to guess. At length he said :

" Pecksnift', of course, you had known before '? "
" Only by name. No, I had never seen him, for my grandfather
kept not only himself but me, aloof from all his relations. But
our separation took place in a town in the adjoining county. From
that place I came to Salisbury, and there I saw Pecksnitt^'s adver-
tisement, which I answered, having always had some natural taste,
I believe, in the matters to which it referred, and thinking it might
suit mc. As soon as I found it to be his, I was doubly bent on
coming to him if possible, on account of his being — "


"Such an excellent man," intcriwsed Tom, rubhini;- his liands :
"so he is. You were quite right."

"Why not so mucli on that account, if tlie trutli must he
spoken,'"' returned jMartin, "as because my grandfatlier has an in-
veterate dislike to him, and after the old man's arbitrary treatment
of me I had a natural desire to run as directly counter to all his
opinions as I could. Well ! as I said before, here I am. My en-
gagement with the young lady I have been telling you about, is
■likely to be a tolerably long one ; for neither her prospects, nor
mine, are very bright ; and of course I shall not think of marry-
ing until I am well able to do so. It would never do, you
know, foi" me to be plunging myself into jDoverty and shabbiness
and love in one room up three pair of stairs, and all that sort of
tiling." j

"To say nothing of her," remarked Tom Pinch, in a low voicc.|

" Exactly so," rejoined jMartin, rising to warm his back, and
leaning against the chimney-piece. " To say nothing of her. At
the same time, of course it's not very hard upon her to be obliged
to yield to the necessity of the case : first, because she loves
me very much ; and secondly, because I have sacrificed a great
deal on her account, and might have done much better, you

It was a very long time before Tom said " Certainly ; " so long,
that he might have taken a nap in the interval, but he did say it
at last.

" Xow, there is one odd coincidence connected with this love-
story," said Martin, "which brings it to an end. You remember
what you told me last night as we were coming here, about your
pretty visitor in the church 1 "

"Surely I do," said Tom, rising from his stool, and seating
himself in the chair from which the other had lately risen, that he
might see his face. " Undoubtedly."

" That was she."

" I knew wliat you were going to say," cried Tom, looking
fixedly at him, and speaking very softly. "You don't tell
me so ? "

"That was she," repeated the young man. "After what I
have heard from Pecksniff, I have no doubt that she came and
went with my grandfather. — Don't you drink too much of that
sour wine, or you'll have a fit of some sort. Pinch, I see."

" It is not very wholesome, I am afraid," said Tom, setting
down the empty glass he had for some time held. "So that was
she, was it 1 "

Martin nodded assent : and adding, with a restless impatience,


that if he had been a few days earlier he would have seen her ;
and that now she might be, for anything he knew, hundreds of
miles away; threw himself, after a few turns across the room, into
a chair, and chafed like a spoilt child.

Tom Pinch's heart was very tender, and he could not bear to
see the most indifferent person in distress ; still less one who had
awakened an interest in him, and who regarded him (either in fact,
or as he supposed) with kindness, and in a spirit of lenient con-
struction. Whatever his own thoughts had been a few moments
before — and to judge from his face they must have been pretty
serious — he dismissed them instantly, and gave his young friend
the best counsel and comfort that occurred to him.

"All will be well in time," said Tom, "I have no doubt; and
some trial and adversity just now will only serve to make you
more attached to each other in better days. I have always read
that the truth is so, and I have a feeling within me, which tells
me how natural and right it is that it should be. What never ran
smooth yet," said Tom, with a smile, which despite the homeliness
of his face, was pleasanter to see than many a proud beauty's
brightest glance : "what never ran smooth yet, can hardly be ex-
pected to change its character for us ; so we must take it as we
find it, and fashion it into the very best shape we can, by patience
and good-humour. I have no power at all ; I needn't tell you
that ; but I have an excellent will ; and if I could ever be of use
to you, in any way whatever, how very glad I should be ! "

"Thank you," said Martin, shaking his hand. "You're a good
fellow, upon my word, and speak very kindly. Of course, you
know," he added, after a moment's pause, as he drew his chair
towards the fire again, " I should not hesitate to avail myself of
your services if you could help me at all ; but mercy on us ! " —
Here he rumpled his hair impatiently with his hand, and looked at
Tom as if he took it rather ill that he was not somebody else —
" you might as well be a toasting-fork or a frying-pan. Pinch, for
any help you can render me."

"Except in the inclination," said Tom, gently.

"Oh! to be sure. I meant that, of course. If inclination
went for anything, I shouldn't want help. I tell you what you
may do, though, if you will— at the present moment too."

"AVhat is thatT' demanded Tom.

" Read to me."

" I shall be delighted," cried Tom, catching up the candle, with
enthusiasm. "Excuse my leaving you in the dark a moment, and
I'll fetch a book directlj-. What will you like? Shakspeare?"

" Ay ! " replied his friend, yawning and stretching himself.


• He'll do. I am tiroil with the Inistle uf to-day, and tlio novelty
nl every tlnng- about lue ; and in .sueh a ease, there's no greater
liiKury in the world, I think, than being read to sleep. You won't
miud my going to sleep, if I can 1 "'

'' Not at all ! " cried Tom.

■• Then begin as soon as you like. You needn't leave off when
V'lu see me getting drowsy (unless you feel tired), for it's pleasant
to wake gradually to the sounds again. Did you ever try thatl"

•• Xo, I never tried that," said Tom.

'• Well ! You can, you know, one of these days wlien we're
li.nh in the right humour. I)ou"t miud leaving me in the dark.
Li.> )k sharp ! "

3Ir. Pinch lost no time in moving away ; and in a minute or
two returned witli one of the precious volumes from tlie shelf
beside his bed. Martin had in the meantime made himself as
comfortable as circumstances would i)ermit, by constructing before
tlie tire a temporary sofa of three chairs with Mercy's stool for a
pillow, and lying down at full length upon it.

"• Don't be too loud, please," he said to Pinch.

••Xo, no," said Tom.

" You're sure you're not cold 1 "

'■ Not at all ! " cried Tom.

••I am quite ready then."

]Mr. Pinch accordingly, after turning over the leaves of his took
with as nuich care as if they were living and highly cherished
creatures, jiiade his own selection, and began to read. Before he
had completed fifty lines, his friend was snoring.

" Poor fellow I " said Tom, softly, as he stretched out his head
tu ]ieep at him over the backs of the chairs. " He is very young
to have so much trouble. How trustful and generous in him to
bestow all this confidence in me. And tliat was she, was iti"

But suddenly remembering tlieir campact, he took up the poem
at the place where he had left off, and Ment on reading ; always
f^ructting to snuff the candle, until its wick looked like a
iiii'ohroom. He gradually became so much interested, that he
unite forgot to replenish the fire; and was only reminded of his
iieu'lect by Martin Chuzzlewit starting up after tlie lapse of an
hour or so, and crying with a shiver :

" Why, it's nearly out, I declare ! Xo wonder I dreamed of
liring frozen. Do call for some coals. What a fellow you are,
I'iiicli ! "




Martin began to work at the grammar-school next morning,
with so much vigour and expedition, that Mr. Pinch had new reason
to do homage to tlie natural endowments of that young gentleman,
and to acknowledge his infinite superiority to himself. The new
pupil received Tom's compliments very graciously ; and having by
this time conceived a real regard for him, in his own peculiar way,
predicted that they would always be the very best of friends, and
that neither of them, he was certain (but particularly Tom), would
ever have reason to regret the day on which they became
acquainted. Mr. Pinch was delighted to hear him say this, and
felt so much flattered by his kind assurances of friendship and
protection, that he was at a loss how to express the pleasure they
aftbrded him. And indeed it may be observed of this friendship,
such as it was, that it had within it more likely materials of
endurance than many a sworn brotherhood that has been rich in
promise ; for so long as the one party found a pleasure in patron-
ising, and the other in being patronised (which was in the very
essence of their respective characters), it was of all possible events
among the least probable, that the twin demons, Envy and Pride,
would ever arise between them. So in very many cases of
friendship, or what passes for it, the old axiom is reversed, and
like clings to unlike more than to like.

They were both very busy on the afternoon succeeding the
family's departure — Martin with the grammar-school, and Tom
in balancing certain receipts of rents, and deducting Mr. Pecksniff's
commission from the same ; in which abstruse employment he was
much distracted by a habit his new friend had of wliistling aloud,
while he was drawing — when they were not a little startled by
the unexpected obtrusion into that sanctuary of genius, of a human
head, which although a shaggy and somewhat alarming head, in
appearance, smiled affably upon them from the doorway, in a
manner that was at once waggish, conciliatory, and expressive of

"I am not industrious myself, gents both," said the head,
" but I know how to appreciate that quality in otiiers. I wish I
may turn gray and ugly, if it isn't, in my opinion, next to genius,
one of the very charmingest qualities of the human mind. Upon


my soul, I am grateful to my friend Pecksnitf for iielping mo to
the contemplation of such a clelicious picture as you present. You
remind me of Whittington, afterwards thrice Lord i\Iayor of
Lonilon. I give you my unsullied word of honour, that you very
strongly remind me of that historical character. You are a pair
of Whittingtons, gents, without the cat ; which is a most agreeable
and blessed exception to me, for I am not attached to the feline
species. My name is Tigg ; how do you do ? "

jMartiu looked to Mr. Pinch for an explanation ; aiul Tom, who
had never in his life set eyes on Mv. Tigg before, looked to that
gentleman himself.

" Ciievy Slyme?" said Mr. Tigg, interrogatively, and kissing
his left hand in token of friendship. " You will understand me
when I say that I am the accredited agent of Chevy Slyme— that
I am the ambassador from the court of Chiv 1 Ha ha ! "

" Heyday ! "' asked Martin, starting at the mention of a name
he knew. "Pray, what does he want with me?"

"If your name is Pinch — " Mr. Tigg began.

" It is not," said Martin, checking himself. " That is Mr.

"If that is Mr. Pinch," cried Tigg, kissing his hand again, and
beginning to follow his head into the room, " he will permit me to
say that I greatly esteem and respect his character, which has
been most highly commended to me by my friend Pecksniff; and
tliat I deeply appreciate his talent for the oigan, notwithstanding
that I do not, if I may use the expression, grind, myself If that
is Mr. Pinch, I will venture to express a hope that I see him
well, and that he is suffering no inconvenience from the easterly
wind 1"

" Thank you," said Tom, " I am very well."

"That is a comfort," IMr. Tigg rejoined. "Then," he added,
shielding his lips with the palm of his hand, and applying tliem
close to Mr. Pinch's ear, " I have come for the letter."

" For the letter 1 " said Tom, aloud. " What letter 1 "

" The letter," whispered Tigg, in the same cautious manner as
before, " which my friend Pecksniff addressed to Chevy Slyme,
Esquire, and left with you."

"He didn't leave any letter with me," said Tom.

" Hush ! " cried the other. " It's all the same thing, though
not so delicately done by my friend Pecksniff as I could have
Avished — the money."

"The money ! " cried Tom, quite scared.

"Exactly so," said Mr. Tigg. With which he rapped Tom
twice or thrice upon the breast and nodded several times, as


thougli he would ,say, tluit he saw they uiulerstood each other ;
tliat it was unnecessary to meutiou tlie circumstance before a third
person ; and that he would take it as a particular favour if Tom
would slip the amount into his hand, as quietly as possible.

Mr. Pinch, however, was so very much astounded by this (to
him) inexplicable deportment, that he at once openly declared
there must be some mistake, and that he had been entrusted
with no commission whatever having any reference to Mr. Tigg or
to his friend either. — Mr. Tigg received this declaration with a grave
request that Mr. Pinch would have the goodness to make it
again ; and on Tom's repeating it in a still more emphatic and
lunnistakable manner, checked it oft*, sentence for sentence, by
nodding his head solemnly at the end of each. When it had come
to a close for the second time, Mr. Tigg sat himself down iu a
chair and addressed the young men as follows :

"Then I tell you what it is, gents both. There is at this
present moment in this very jjlace, a perfect constellation of talent
and genius, who is involved, through what I cannot but designate
as the culpable negligence of my friend Pecksniff', in a situation
as tremendous, perhaps, as the social intercourse of the nineteenth
century will readily admit of. There is actually at this instant, at
the Blue Dragon in this village — an alehouse observe ; a common,
paltry, low-minded, clodhopping, pipe- smoking alehouse — an
individual, of whom it may be said, in the language of the Poet,
that nobody but himself can in any way come up to him ; w^ho is
detained there for his bill. Ha ! ha ! For his bill. I repeat it
— for his bill. Nt)w," said Mr. Tigg, "we have heard of Fox's
Book of Martyrs, I believe, and we have heard of the Court of
Requests, and the Star Chamber ; but I fear the contradiction
of no man alive or dead, when I assert that my friend Chevy
Slyme being held in i^awn for a bill, beats any amount of cock-
fighting with which I am acquainted."

Martin and Mr. Pinch looked, first at each other, and afterwards
at Mr. Tigg, who with his arms folded on his breast surveyed them,
lialf in despondency and half in bitterness.

" Don't mistake me, gents both," he said, stretching forth his
right hand. "If it had been for anything but a bill, I could have
borne it, and could still have looked upon mankind with some
feeling of respect : but when such a man as my friend Slyme is
detained for a score — a thing in itself essentially mean ; a low
performance on a slate, or possibly chalked upon the back of a
door — I do feel that there is a S{-rew of such magnitude loose
somewhere, that the whole framework of society is shaken, and
the very first principles of things can no longer be trusted. In


short, goiit« both," said ]\Ir. Tigg with a passionate tiounsli of his
hands and head, '• when a man like 81ynie is detained for such a
thing as a bill, I reject the superstitions of ages, and believe
nothing. I don't even believe that I don't believe, curse nic if I do ! "

"I am very sorry, I am sure," said Tom after a pause, "but
Mr. Pecksniff said nothing to me about it, and I couldn't act
without his instructions. Wouldn't it be better, Sir, if you
were to go to — to wherever you came from — yourself, and remit
the money to your friend ? "

"How can that be done, when I am detained also?" sniil Mr.
Tigg ; " and when moreover, owing to the astounding, and I must
add, guilty negligence of my friend Pecksniff, I have no money for
coach-hire ? "'

Tom thought of reminding the gentleman (who, no doubt, in
his agitation had forgotten it) that there was a post-office in the
land ; and that possibly if he wrote to some friend or ngent for a
remittance it might not be lost upon the road ; or at all events
that the chance, however desperate, was worth trusting to. But,
as his good-nature presently suggested to him certain reasons for
abstaining from this hint, he paused again, and then asked :

" Did you say, Sir, that you Avere detained also 1 "

"Come here," said Mr. Tigg, rising. "You have no objection
to my opening this Avindow^ for a moment ? "

" Certainly not," said Tom.

"Very good," said Mr. Tigg, lifting the sash. "You see a
fellow down there in a red neckcloth and no waistcoat ? "

"Of course I do," cried Tom. "That's Mark Tapley."

"Mark Tapley is it?" said the gentleman. "Then Mark
Tapley had not only the great politeness to follow me to this
house, but is waiting now, to see me home again. And for that
act of attention, Sir," added Mr. Tigg, stroking liis moustache, " I
can tell you, that ]\Iark Tapley had better in his infancy have been
fed to suttbcation by Mrs. Tapley, than preserved to this time."

]\Ir. Pinch was not so dismayed by this terrible threat, but that
he had voice enough to call to Mark to come in, and up stairs ; a
summons which he so speedily obeyed, that almost as soon as Tom
and j\Ir. Tigg had drawni in their heads and closed the window
again, he the denounced apjjcared before them.

"Come here, Mark!" said Mr. Pinch. "Good gracious me!
what's the matter between Mrs. Lupin and this gentleman?"

"What gentleman. Sir?" said Mark. "I don't sec no gentle-
man here, Sir, excepting you and the new gentleman," to whom
he made a rough kind of bow — "and there's nothing wrong
between Mrs. Lupin and either of you, I\lr. Pinch, T am sure."


"Nonsense, Mark !" cried Tom. "You see Mr. — "

"Tigg," interposed that gentleman. " AVait a bit. I shall
crush him soon. All in good time ! "

"Oh him!" rejoined Mark, with an air of careless defiance.
"Yes, I see him. I could see him a little better, if he'd shave
himself, and get his hair cut."

Mr. Tigg shook his head with a ferocious look, and smote
himself once upon the breast.

" It's no use," said Mark. " If you knock ever so much in
that quarter, you'll get no answer. I know better. There's
nothing there but padding : and a greasy sort it is."

"Nay, Mark," urged Mr. Pinch, interposing to prevent
hostilities, " tell me Avhat I ask you. You're not out of temj^er,
I hope % "

"Out of temper, Sir!" cried Mark, with a grin- "why no,
Sir. There's a little credit — not much — in being jolly, when such
fellows as him is a going about like roaring lions : if there is any
breed of lions, at least, as is all roar and mane. What is there
between him and Mrs. Lupin, Sir ? Why, there's a score between
him and Mrs. Lupin. And I think Mrs. Lupin lets him and his
friend off very easy in not charging 'em double prices for being
a disgrace to the Dragon. That's my opinion. I wouldn't have
any such Peter the Wild Boy as him in my house. Sir, not if I
was paid race-week prices for it. He's enough to turn the very
beer in the casks sour, with his looks, he is ! So he Avould, if it
had judgment enough."

"You're not answering my question, you know, Mai-k,"
observed Mr. Pinch.

"Well, Sir," said Mark, "I don't know as there's much to
answer further than that. Him and his friend goes and stops at
the Moon and Stars till they've run a bill there ; and then comes
and stops with us and does the same. The running of bills is
common enough, Mr. Pinch ; it an't that as we object to ; it's the
ways of this chaj). Nothing's good enough for him ; all the
women is dying for him he thinks, and is over-paid if he winks
at 'em ; and all the men was made to be ordered abont by him.
This not being aggravation enough, he says this morning to me,
in his usual captivating way, 'We're going to night, my man.'
' Are you, Sir ? ' says I. ' Peihaps you'd like the bill got ready.
Sir?' 'Oh no, my man,' he says; 'you needn't mind that. I'll
give Pecksniff orders to see to that.' In reply to which, the
Dragon makes answer, ' Thankee, Sir, you're very kind to honour
us so far, but as Ave don't know any i)articular good of you, and
you don't travel with luggage, and Mr. Pecksniff an't at home


(which ixTliap.-; you inayirt ha|)])eii to be aware of, Sir), we shuuUl
jiicfer something more satislactory ; " and tliat's ■where the matter
stands. And I ask," said Mr. TapU-y, pointing, in conelusion, to
Mr. Tigg, Avitli liis liat, " any lady or gentleman, po.sscssing
didinary strength of mind, to say, whether he's a disagreeable-
looking chap or not ! "

"Let me inquire,'' said Martin, interposing between this candid
speech and the delivery of some blighting anathema by Mr. Tigg,
••what the amount of this debt may be."

"In point of money. Sir, very little," answered Mark. "Only
just turned of three pounds. But it an't that ; it's the — — ■"

"Yes, yes, you told us so before," said IMartin. "Pinch, a
word with you."

" AVhat is it 'I "' asked Tom, retiring with him to a corner of
the room.

"AVhy, simply — I am ashamed to say — that this Mr. Slyme
is a relation of nnne, of whom I never heard anything ^jleasant ;

Online LibraryCharles DickensLife and adventures of Martin Chuzzlewit → online text (page 12 of 80)