Charles Dickens.

Life and adventures of Martin Chuzzlewit online

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and that I don't want him here just now, and think he would be
rlieaply got rid of, perhaps, for three or four poiuids. You haven't
( nough money to pay this bill, I suppose ? "

Tom shook his head to an extent that left no doubt of his
entire sincerity.

" That's unfortunate, for I am poor too • iuid in case you had
liad it, I'd have borrowed it of you. But if we told this landlady
we would see her paid, I suppose that Avould answer the same
purpose 1 "

" Oh dear, yes ! " said Tom. " She knows me, bless you ! "

" Then, let us go doAvn at once and tell her so ; for the sooner
we are rid of their company the better. As you have conducted
the conversation Avith this gentleman hitherto, perhaps you'll tell
him what we purpose doing ; will you 1 "

Mr. Pinch complying, at once imparted the intelligence to Mr.
Tigg, who shook him warndy l)y the hand in return, assuring him
that his faith in anything and everything was again restored. It
was not so much, lie said, for the temporaiy relief of this assist-
ance that he prized it, as for its vindication of the liigh i)rinciple
that Nature's Nobs felt Avith Nature's Nobs, and true greatness
of soul sympathised with true greatness of soul, all the world over.
It proved to him, he said, that like him they admired genius,
even when it was coupled with the alloy occasionally visible in
the metal of his friend Slyme ; and on behalf of that friei;d, he
thanked them ; as warmly and heartily as if the cause were his
own. Being cut sliort in these sjjeeches by a general move towards
__the stairs, he took i)o-isession at the street-door of the lapel of


Mr. Pinch's coat, as a security against fiirtiier iiiterrujitiou; and
entertained tliat gentleman with some highly improving discourse
until they reached the Dragon, Avhither they Avcre closely followed
by Llark and the new pupil.

The rosy hostess scarcely needed Mr. Pinch's word as a
preliminary to the release of her two visitors, of whom she was
glad to be rid on any terms : indeed, their brief detention had
originated mainly with Mr. Tapley, who entertained a constitu-
tional dislike to gentlemen out-at-elbows who flourished on false
pretences ; and had conceived a particular aversion to Mr. Tigg
and his friend, as choice specimens of the species. The business
in hand thus easily settled, Mr. Pinch and Martin would have
withdrawn immediatelj", but for the urgent entreaties of JMr. Tigg
that they would allow him the honour of presenting them to his
friend Slyme, which were so very difficult of resistance that, yield-
ing partly to these persuasions and partly to their own curiosity,
they suffered themselves to be ushered into the presence of that
distinguished gentleman.

He was brooding over the lemains of yesterday's decanter of
brandy, and was engaged in the thoughtful occupation of making
a chain of rings on the top of the table wdth the wet foot of liis
drinking-glass. Wretched and forlorn as he looked, Mr. Slyme
had once been, in his wa}-^, the choicest of swaggerers : ]jutting
forth his pretensions, boldly, as a man of infinite taste and most
undoubted promise. The stock-in-trade requisite to set up an
amateur in tliis department of business is very slight, and easily
got together ; a trick of the nose and a curl of the lip sufficient
to compoimd a tolerable sneer, being am])le i^rovision for any
exigency. But, in an evil hour, this off-shoot of the Chuzzlewit
trunk, being lazy, and ill qualified for any regular pursuit, and
having dissipated such means as he ever possessed, had formally
established himself as a professor of Taste for a livelihood ; and
finding, too late, that something more than his old amount of
qualifications Avas necessary to sustain him in this calling, had
quickly fallen to liis present level, wliere he retained nothing of
his old self but his boastfulness and his bile, and seemed to have
no existence separate or apart from his friend Tigg. And now'
so abject and so ])itiful was he — at once so maudlin, insolent,
beggarly, and proud — that even his friend and jjarasite, standing
erect beside him, swelled into a I\Ian by contrast.

"Cliiv," said Mr. Tigg, clapping him on the back, ''my friend
Pecksniff not being at home, I have arranged our trifling piece
of business with Mr. Pinch and friend. Mr. Pinch and 'friend,
Mr. Chevy Slyme — Chiv, Mr. Pinch and friend : "


" These arc agreeable circumstaiK'OS ill whicli to be iiitiudueed
to strangers," said Chevy Slyme, turning liis Woodsliut eyes
towards Tom Pinch. ''I am tlie most miserable man in the
worhl, I believe ! "

Tom begged he woukhrt mention it ; and finding him in this
condition, retired, after an awkward pause, followed by Martin.
But Mr. Tigg so urgently conjured them, by coughs and signs, to
remain in the shadow of the door, that they stopped there.

" I swear," cried INIr. Slyme, giving the table an imbecile blow
with his fist, and then feebly leaning his head upon his hand,
wiiile some drunken drops oozed from his eyes, " that I am the
wretchedest creature on record. Society is in a conspiracy against
me. I'm the most literary man alive. I'm full of scholarship ;
I'm full of genius ; I'm full of information ; I'm full of novel
views on every subject ; yet look at my condition ! I'm at this
moment obliged to two strangers for a tavern bill ! "

Mr. Tigg replenished his friend's glass, pressed it into his
hand, and nodded an intimation to the visitors that they would
see him in a better aspect immediately.

" Obliged to two strangers for a tavern bill, eh ! " repeated ]\Ir.
Slyme, after a sulky application to his glass. "Very pretty!
Aud crowds of impostors, the while, becoming famous : men who
are no more on a level with me than — Tigg, I take you to witness
that I am the most persecuted hound on the face of the earth."

"With a whine, not unlike the cry of the animal he named, in
its loAvest state of humiliation, he raised his glass to his m.outh
again. He found some encouragement in it ; for when he set it
down, he laughed scornfully. Uiwu that ]\Ir. Tigg gesticulated to
the visitors once more, and with great expression : implying that
now tlie time w-as come when they would see Chiv in his

" Ha, ha, ha ! " laughed Mr. Slyme. " Obliged to two strangers
for a tavern bill 1 Yet I think I've a rich uncle, Tigg, who
could buy up the uncles of fifty strangers ? Have I, or have I
not 1 I come of a good family, I believe 1 Do I, or do I not 1
I'm not a man of common capacity or accomi)lisliments, I think.
Am I, or am I not ? "

"You are the American aloe of the human race, my dear Chiv,"
said Mr. Tigg, " which only blooms once in a hundred years ! "

" Ha, ha, lia ! " laughed Mr. Slyme, again. '• Obliged to two
strangers for a tavern bill! I! Obliged to two architect's
apprentices — fellows who measure earth with iron chains, and
build houses like bricklayers. Give me the names of those two
apprentices. How dare they ol)ligc me ! "


Mr. Tigg was quite lost in admiration of this noble trait in
his friend's character ; as he made known to Mr. Pinch in a neat
little ballet of action, spontaneously invented for the pui-pose.

" I'll let 'em know, and I'll let all men know," cried Chevy
Slyme, " that I'm none of the mean, grovelling, tame characters
they meet with commonly. I have an independent spirit. I have
a heart that swells in my bosom. I have a soul that rises superior
to base considerations."

" Oh, Chiv, Chiv," murmured Mr. Tigg, " you liave a nobly
independent nature, Chiv ! "

"You go and do your duty, Sir," said Mr. Slyme, angrily,
" and borrow money for travelling expenses ; and whoever you
borrow it of, let 'em know that I possess a haughty spirit, and a
proud spirit, and have infernally finely-touched chords in my
nature, which won't brook patronage. Do you hear 1 Tell 'em I
hate 'em, and that that's the way I preserve my self-respect ; and
tell 'em that no man ever respected himself more than I do ! "

He might have added that he hated two sorts of men ; all
those who did him favours, and all those who were better off than
himself; as in either case their position was an insult to a man
of his stupendous merits. But he did not ; for with the apt closing
words above recited, Mr. Slyme— of too haughty a stomach to
work, to beg, to borrow, or to steal ; yet mean enough to be
worked or borrowed, begged or stolen for, by any catsjmw that
would serve his turn ; too insolent to lick the hand that fed him
in his need, yet cur enough to bite and tear it in the dark — with
these apt closing words, Mr. Slyme fell forward with his head
upon the table, and so declined into a sodden sleep.

"Was there ever," cried Mr. Tigg, joining the young men at
the door, and shutting it carefully behind him, "such an in-
dependent spirit as is possessed by that extraordinary creature ?
Was there ever such a Roman as our friend Chiv ? Was there
ever a man of such a purely classical turn of thought, and of such
a toga-like simplicity of nature'? AVas there ever a man with
such a flow of eloquence? Might he not, gents both, I ask, have
sat upon a tripod in the ancient times, and jn'ophesied to a
perfectly unlimited extent, if previously sujiplied Avith gin-and-
water at the public cost '( "

Mr. Pinch was about to contest this latter position with his
usual mildness, when, observing that his companion had already
gone down stairs, he prepared to follow him.

" You arc not going, Mr. Pinch 1 " said Tigg.

"Thank you," answered Tom. "Yes. Don't come down."

"Do you know that I should like one little word in private


with you, Mr. Pincli T" said Tigg, following' him. " One iniimte
if your company in the skittlo-ground would vciy much relieve
my mind. Might I l)eseech that favour?"

•'Oh, certainly," replied Tom, "if you leally wish it." 80 he
accompanit'd Mr. Tigg to the retreat in question : on arriving at
which place that gentleman took from his hat what seemed to he
the fossil remains of an antediluvian jnicket- handkerchief, and
wi})cd his eyes therewith.

"You have not beheld me this day," said JMr. Tigg, "in a
favourable light."

"Don't mention that," said Tom, "I beg."
" But you have not" cried Tigg. " I must persist in that
npinion. If you could have seen me, Mr. Pinch, at the head of
my regiment on the coast of Africa, charging in the form of a
litillow sc[uare with the women and children and the regimental
plate-chest iu the centre, you wotdd not have known me for the
s.ime man. You would have respected me, Sir."

Tom had certain ideas of his own upon the subject of glory ;
and consequently he was not quite so much excited by this picture
as ^Ir. Tigg could have desired.

"But no matter!" said that gentleman. "The school -boy
writing home to his parents and describing the milk-and-water,
.^aid ' This is indeed weakness.' I repeat that assertion in reference
to myself at the present moment : and I ask your pardon. Sir,
you have seen my friend Slyme ? "
" Iso doubt," said Mr. Pinch.

" Sir, you have been impressed by my fi lend Slyme ? "
"Not very pleasantly, I must say," answered Tom, after a
little hesitation.

"I am grieved but not surprised," cried Mr. Tigg, detaining
liim by both lapels, " to hear that you have come to that conclusion ;
Inr it is my own. But, Mr. Pinch, though I am a I'ough and
tlioughtless man, I can honom- Mind. I honoiu' Mind in follow-
ing my friend. To you of all men, Mr. Pinch, I have a right to
make appeal on ]\Iind"s behalf, when it has not the art to push its
fortime in the world. And so, Sir — not for myself, who have wo
rlaim njion you, but for my crushed, my sensitive and independent
iViend, who has — I ask the loan of three half-crowns. I ask you
for the loan of three half-crowns, distinctly, and without a blush.
I ask it, almost as a right. And when I add that they will be
returned by post, this week, I feel that you will Idanie me for
that sordid stipulation."

]\Ir. Pinch took from his ])ockct iin old fashioned red-leather
purse with a steel clasp, which had probably uiicc belonged tn his


deceased grandmother. It held one half-sovereign and no more.
All Tom's worldly wealth until next quarter-day.

" Stay ! " cried Mr. Tigg, who had watched this proceeding
keenly. "I was just about to say, that for the convenience of
posting you had better make it gold. Thank you. A general
direction, I suppose, to Mr. Pinch, at Mr. Pecksniff's — will that
find you 1 "

"That'll find me," said Tom. " You had better put Esquire to
Mr, Pecksnift"'s name, if you please. Direct to me, you know, at
Seth Pecksniff's, Esquire."

"At Seth Pecksnift"'s, Esquire," repeated Mr. Tigg, taking an
exact note of it, with a stump of pencil. "We said this week, I
believe 1 "

"Yes : or Monday will do," observed Tom.

"No, no, I beg your pardon. Monday will not do," said Mr.
Tigg. " If we stipulated for this week, Saturday is the latest day.
Did we stipulate for this week ? "

" Since you are so particular about it," said Tom, "I think we did."

Mr, Tigg added this condition to his memorandum ; read the
entry over to himself with a severe frown ; and that the transaction
might be the more correct and business-like, appended his initials
to the whole. That done, he assured Mr. Pinch that everything
was now perfectly regular ; and, after squeezing his hand with great
fervour, departed.

Tom entertained enougli suspicion that Martin might possibly
turn this interview into a jest, to render him desirous to avoid the
company of that young gentleman for the present. With this view
he took a few turns up and down the skittle-ground, and did not
re-enter the house until Mr. Tigg and his friend had quitted it, and
the new pupil and Mark were watching their departure from one of
the windows.

" I was just a saying, Sir, that if one could live by it," observed
Mark, pointing after their late guests, " that would be the sort of
service for me. Waiting on sucli individuals as them, woidd be
better than grave-digging. Sir."

" And staying here would be better than either, Mark," rejAicd
Tom. " So take my advice, and continue to swim easily in smooth

"It's too late to take it now, Sir," said Llark. " I have broke
it to her, Sir. I am off to-morrow morning,"

"Off"!" cried Mr. Pinch, "where to?"

" I shall go up to London, Sir."

"What to be"?" asked Mr. Pinch.

" Well ! I don't know yet. Sir. Nothing turned up that day I


opened my mind to yoii, as wa.s at all likely to suit me. All tlioiii
trades I thought of was a deal too jnlly ; there was no credit at all
to be got in any of 'em. I nuist look for a private service, I sup-
pose, Sir. I might be brought out strong, perhaps, in ji serious
family, Mr. Pinch."

" Perhaps you might come out rather too strong for a serious
family's taste, JNIark."

" That's possible, Sir. If I could get into a wicked family, 1
might do myself justice : but the difficulty is to make sure of one's
ground, because a young man can't very well advertise that he
wants a place, and wages an't so much an object as a wicked
sitivation ; can he. Sir 1 "

"Why, no," said Mr. Pinch, "I don't think he can."

"An envious famil}'^," pursued Mark, with a thoughtful face;
" or a quarrelsome family, or a malicious family, or even a good
out-and-out mean family, would open a field of action as I might do
something in. The man as would have suited me of all other men
was that old gentleman as was took ill here, for he really was a
trying customer. Howsever, I must wait and see what turns up,
Sir ; and hope for the worst."

" You are determined to go then 1 " said Mr. Pinch.

" My box is gone already, Sir, by the waggon, and I'm going to
walk on to-morrow morning, and get a lift by the day coach when
it overtakes me. So I wish you good by'e, Mr. Pinch — and you
too, Sir, — and all good luck and happiness ! "

They both returned his greeting laughingly, and walked home
arm-in-arm : Mr. Pinch imparting to his new friend, as they went,
such further particulars of Mark Tapley's whimsical restlessness as
the reader is already acquainted with.

In the mean time IVIark, having a shrewd notion that his mis-
tress was in very low spirits, and that he could not exactly answer
for the consequences of any lengthened tete-a-ii'te in the bar, kept
himself obstinately out of her way all the afternoon and evening.
In this piece of generalship he was very much assisteil by the great
influx of company into the tap-room ; for the news of his intention
having gone abroad, tliere was a perfect throng there all the evening,
and much drinking of healths and clinking of mugs. At length
the house was closed for the night ; and there being now no help
for it, ]\Iark put the best face he could upon the matter, and walked
doggedly to the bar-door.

" If I look at her," said ]\Iark to himself, " I'm done. I feel
that I'm a going fast."

" You have come at last," said Mrs. Lupin.

Ay, Mark snid : There he was.


" And you are deternnned to leave us, ^Nlark 1 " cried Mrs.

" Why, yes ; I am," said Mark ; keeping his eyes hard upon the

"I thought," pursued the landlady, with a most engaging hesi-
tation, " that you had been — fond — of the Dragon 1 "

" So I am," said Mark.

" Then," pursued the hostess — and it really was not an unnatural
inquiry — " why do you desert it 1 "'

But as he gave no manner of answer to this question ; not even
on its being repeated; Mrs. Lupin put his money into his hand, and
asked him — not unkindly, quite the contrary— what he would take.

It is proverbial that there are certain things which flesh and
blood cannot bear. Such a question as this, propounded in such a
manner, at such a time, and by such a person, proved (at least, as
far as Mark's flesh and blood were concerned) to be one of them.
He looked up in spite of himself directly ; and having once looked
up, there was no looking down again ; for of all the tight, plump,
buxom, bright-eyed, dimple-faced landladies that ever shone on earth,
there stood before lum then, bodily in that bar, the very pink and

"Why, I tell you what," said Mark, throwing oft' all his con-
straint in an instant, and seizing the hostess round the waist — at
which she was not at all alarmed, for she knew what a good young
man he was — " if I took what I liked most, I should take you. If
I only thought of Avhat was best for me, I should take you. If I
took what nineteen young fellows in twenty would be glad to take,
and would take at any price, I should take you. Yes, I should,"
critnl Mr. Tapley, shaking his head, expressively enough, and looking
(in a momentary state of forgetfulness) rather hard at the hostess's
ripe lips. " And no man wouldn't wonder if I did ! "

Mrs. Lupin said he amazed her. She was astonished how he
could say such things. She had never thought it of him.

" Why, I never thought it of myself till now ! " .said Mark,
raising his eyebrows with a look of the merriest possible surprise.
" I always expected we should part, and never have no explanation ;
I meant to do it when I come in here just now ; but there's some-
thing about you, as makes a man sensible. Then let us have a
word or two together : letting it be understood beforehand — " he
added this in a grave tone, to prevent the possibility of any mistake
— " that I'm not a going to make no love, you know."

There wa^ for just one second a shade — though not by any
means a dark one — on the landlady's open lirow. But it passed oft"
instantly, in a laugh that came from her very heart.


"Oh, very good ! " she said ; " if there is to be no love-making,
you had lietter take your arm away."

"Lord, why should I ! '" cried Mark. " It's quite innocent."

"Of course it's innocent," returned the hostess, "or I sliouldn't
allow it."

" Very well ! " said Mark. " Then let it be."

There was so much reason in tins, that the landlady laughed
again, suffered it to remain, and bade him say what he had to say,
and be quick about it. But he was an impudent fellow, she

" Ha ha ! I almost tliink I am ! " cried Mark, " though I never
thought so before. Why, I can say anything to-niglit ! "

"Say what you're going to say if you please, and be quick," re-
turned the landlady, " for I want to get to bed."

" Why, then, my dear good soul," said Mark, " and a kinder
woman than you are, never drawed breath — let me see the man as
says she did ! — what would be the likely consequence of us two
being — "

" Oil nonsense ! " cried Mrs. Lupin. " Don't talk about that
any more."

"No, no, but it an't nonsense," said Mark; "and I wish you'd
attend. What would be the likely consequence of us two being
married 1 If I can't be content and comfortable in this here lively
Dragon now, is it to be looked for as I should be then 1 By no
means. Very good. Then yon, even with your good humour,
would be always on the fret and worrit, always uncomfortable in
your own mind, always a thinking as you was getting too old for
my taste, always a picturing me to yourself as being chained up to
the Dragon door, and wanting to break away. I don't know that
it would be so," said Mark, " but I don't know that it mightn't be.
I am a roving sort of chap, I know. I'm fond of change. I'm
always a thinking thatMitli my good health and spirits it would be
more creditable in me to be jolly where there's things a going on
to make one dismal. It may be a mistake of mine, you see, but
nothing short of trying how it acts, will set it right. Then an't it
best that I should go : particular when your free way has helped
me out to say all this, and we can part as good friends as we huve
ever been since first I entered this here noble Dragon, which," said
Mr. Tapley in conclnsion, " has my good word and my good wish,
to the tlay of my death ! "

. The hostess sat quite silent for a little time, but she very soon
put botli her hands in Llark's and shook them heartily.

" For you are a good man," she said ; looking into his face with
a smile, which was rather serious for her. "And I do believe have



been a better fiieiitl to lue to-uight than ever I liave lia'l in all niv

"Oh! as to that, you know," said Mark, " that".s nonsense.
But love my heart alive ! " he added, looking at iier in a sort of
rapture, "if you are that Avay disposed, what a lot of suitable
husbands there is as you may drive distracted ! "

She laughed again at this coniplinient ; and, once more shaking
him by both hands, and bidding him, if he should ever want a
friend, to remember her, turned gaily from the little bar, and up
the Dragon staircase.

" Humming a tune as she goes," said Mark, listening, " in case
I should think she's at all put out, and should be made down-
hearted. Come, here's some credit in being jolly, at last I "

With that piece of comfort, very ruefully uttered, he went, in
anything but a jolly manner, to bed.

He rose early next morning, and was a-foot soon after sunrise.
But it was of no use ; the whole place was up to see ]\Iark Tapley
off: the boys, the dogs, the children, the old men, the busy people
and the idlers : there they were, all calling out Good by'e, Mark,"
after their own manner, and all sorry he was going. Somehow he
had a kind of sense that his old mistress was peeping from her
chamber-window, but he couldn't make up his mind to look back.

" Good by'e one, good by'e all ! " cried Mark, waving his hat on
the top of his walking-stick, as he strode at a quick pace up the
little street. " Hearty chaps them wheelwrights — hurrah I Here's
the butcher's dog a-coming out of the garden — down, old fellow I
And Mr. Pinch a-going to his organ — good liy'e. Sir 1 And the
terrier-bitch from over the way — hie, then, lass ! And children
luough to hand down human natur to the latest posterity — good
by'e, boys and girls ! There's .'^ome credit in it now. I'm u-coming
out strong at last. These are the circumstances as would try a
ordinary mind ; but Fm uncommon jolly ; not quite as jolly as I
couhl wish to be, but very near. G<Jod by'e ! good by'e ! ''



AViiEN Mr. Pecksniff and the two young ladies got into the heavy

Online LibraryCharles DickensLife and adventures of Martin Chuzzlewit → online text (page 13 of 80)