Charles Dickens.

Life and adventures of Martin Chuzzlewit online

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"Complimentary," said Anthony. "Complimentary, upon my

i word. It was an involuntary tribute to your abilities, even at

the time ; and it was not a time to suggest compliments either.

But we agreed in the coach, you know, that we quite understood

each other."

" Oh, quite ! " assented Mr. Pecksniff, in a manner which
implied that he himself was misunderstood most cruelly, but
would not complain.

Anthony glanced at his son as he sat beside Miss Charity, and
then at Mr. Pecksniff", and then at his son again, very many times.
It happened that Mr. Pecksnift''s glances took a similar direction ;
but when he became aware of it, he first cast down his eyes, and
then closed them ; as if he were determined that the old man
j should read nothing there.
{ "Jonas is a shrewd lad,"' said the old man.
1 "He appears," rejoined Mr. Pecksniff in his most candid
; manner, " to be very shrewd."

"And careful," said the old man.

"And careful, I have no doubt," returned Mr. Pecksniff.
"Lookye!" said Anthony in his ear. "I think he is sweet
; upon yom- daughter."

I "Tut, my good sir," said Mr. Pecksniff, with his eyes still

' closed ; " young people — young people — a kind of cousins, too —
no more sweetness than is in that, sir."

" Why, there is very little sweetness in that, according to our
experience," returned Anthony. " Isn't there a trifle more here 1 "
" Impossible to say," rejoined Mr. Pecksniff. " Quite impossible !
You surprise me."

"Yes, I know that," said the old man, drily. "It may last;
I mean the sweetness, not the surprise ; anil it may die otl".
Supposing it should last, perhaps (you having featlicred your nest
pretty well, and I having done the same) we might have a mutual
interest in the matter."


Mr. Pecksnirt', smiliug geutl}', ■was about to speak, but Anthony
stopped him.

" I know what you are going to say. It's quite unnecessary,
You have never thought of this for a moment ; and in a point so i
nearly affecting the happiness of your dear child, you couldn't, as
a tender father, express an opinion ; and so forth. Yes, c^uite
right. And like you ! But it seems to me, my dear Pecksnifl:',"
added Anthony, laying his hand upon his sleeve, "that if you and
I kept up the joke of pretending not to see this, one of us might
possibly be placed in a position of disadvantage ; and as I am very
unwilling to be that party myself, you will excuse my taking the.
liberty of putting the matter beyond a doubt, thus early ; and
having it distinctly understood, as it is now, that Ave do see it,
and do know it. Thank you for your attention. We are now
upon an equal footing ; which is agreeable to us both, I am sure."

He rose as he spoke ; and giving Mr. Pecksniff a nod of
intelligence, moved away from him to where the young people
were sitting : leaving that good man somewhat puzzled and dis-
comfited by such very jjlaiu dealing, and not quite free from a
sense of having been foiled in the exercise of his familiar weapons.

But the night-coach had a punctual character, and it was time
to join it at the office ; which was so near at hand, that they had
already sent their luggage, and arranged to walk. Thither the
whole party repaired, therefore, after no more delay than sufficed
for the equipment of the Miss Pecksniffs and IMrs. Todgers.
They found the coach already at its starting-place, and the horses
in ; there, too, were a large majority of the commercial gentlemen,
including the youngest, who was visibly agitated, and in a state
of deep mental dejection.

Nothing could equal the distress of Mrs. Todgers in parting
from the young ladies, except the strong emotions with which she
bade adieu to Mr. Pecksniff. Never surely was a pocket-handker-
chief taken in and out of a flat reticule so often as Mrs. Todgers's
was, as she stood upon the pavement by the coach-door, sujjported
on either side by a commercial gentleman ; and by the light of
the coach-lamps caught such brief snatches and glimpses of the
good man's face, as the constant interposition of Mr. Jinkins
allowed. For Jinkins, to the last the youngest gentleman's rock
ahead in life, stood upon the coach -step talking to the ladies.
Upon the other step was Mr. Jonas, who maintained that position
in right of his cousinship ; whereas the youngest gentleman, who
had been first upon the ground, was deep in the booking-office
among the black and red placards, and the portraits of fast
coaches, where he was ignominiously harassed by porters, and


liail to coiitfiul and strive perpetually with heavy baggage. Tiiis
I'alse position, combined with his nervous excitement, brought
about the very consumnuition and catastrophe of his miseries ;
\'nv wlien, in the moment of parting, he aimed a tlowor — a hot-
lioiise tiower, that had cost money — at the fair hand of ]\Iercy,
it reached, instead, the coachman on the box, who tiiankeil him
kindly, and stuck it in his button-hole.

They were otf now; and Todgers's was alone again. The two
young ladies, leaning back in their separate corners, resigned
themselves to their own regretful thoughts. But Mr. Pecksniff,
dismissing all ephemeral considerations of social pleasure and
enjoyment, concentrated his meditations on the one great virtuous
purpose before him, of casting out that ingrate and deceiver,
whose presence yet troubled his domestic hearth, and was a
sacrilege upon the altars of his household gods.



Mr. Pinch and Martin, little dreaming of the stormy weather
that impended, made themselves very comfortable in the Peck-
snitKan halls, and improved their friendship daily. I\Iartin's
facility, both of invention and execution, being remarkable, the
grammar-school proceeded with great vigour ; and Tom repeatedly
declared, that if tliere were anything like certainty in human
affairs, or impartiality in human judges, a design so new and
full of merit could not fail to carry off the first prize when the
time of competition arrived. Without being quite so saiignine
himself, Martin had his hopeful anticipations too ; and they
served to make him brisk and eager at his task.

"If I should turn out a great architect, Tom," said the new
pupil one day, as he stood at a little distance from his drawing,
and eyed it Avith much complacency, " PU tell you what .should be
one of the things Pd build."

"Ay!" cried Tom. "What?"

"Why, your fortune."

"No!" said Tom Pincli, quite as much delighted as if the


thing were done. " Would you though 1 How kind of you to
say so."

" I'd build it up, Tom,'' returned Martin, " on such a strong
foundation, that it should last your life — ay, and your children's
lives too, and their children's after them. I'd be your patron,
Tom. I'd take you under my protection. Let me see tlie man
who should give the cold shoulder to anybody I chose to protect
and patronise, if I were at the top of the tree, Tom ! "

"Now, I don't think," said Mr. Pinch, "upon my word, that
I was ever more gratified than by this. I really don't."

"Oh ! I mean Avhat I say," retorted Martin, with a manner
as free and easy in its condescension to, not to say in its com-
passion for, the other, as if he were already First Architect in
Ordinary to all the Crowned Heads in Euro^je. " I'd do it — I'd
provide for you."

"I am afraid," said Tom, shaking his head, "that I should be
a mighty awkward person to provide for. "

" Pooh, pooh ! " rejoined Martin. " Never mind that. If I
took it in my head to say, ' Pinch is a clever fellow ; I apjn-ove
of Pinch ; ' I should like to know the man who would venture to
put himself in opposition to me. Besides, confound it, Tom, you
could be useful to me in a hundred ways."

" If I were not useful in one or two, it shouldn't be for want
of trying," said Tom.

" For instance," pursued Martin, after a short reflection, "you'd
1)0 a capital fellow, now, to see that my ideas were properly carried
out ; and to overlook the works in their progress before they were
suliiciently advanced to be very interesting to me; and to take all
that sort of j^laiu sailing. Then you'd be a splendid fellow to
show peoi^le over my studio, and to talk about Art to 'em, when
I couldn't be bored myself, and all that kind of thing. For it
would be devilish creditable, Tom (I'm quite in earnest, I give
you my word), to have a man of your information about one,
instead of some ordinary blockhead. Oh, I'd take care of you.
You'd be useful, rely upon it ! "

To say that Tom had no idea of playing first fiddle in any
social orchestra, but was always quite satisfied to be set down for
the hundred and fiftieth violin in the band, or thereabouts, is to
express his modesty in very inadequate terms. He was much
delighted, therefore, by these observations.

" I should be married to her then, Tom, of course," said

What was that which checked Tom Pincli so suddenly, in tlie
hio;h flow of his dadness : bringing the blood into his honest


cheeks, and a remorseful feeling to liis honest heart, as if hv wore
unworthy of his friend's regard 1

"I should be married to her then," said Martin, looking with
a smile towards the light : "and we sliould have, I lioi)e, chihh-cn
:ili 'ut us. Tliey'd be very fond of you, Tom."

But not a word said Mr. Pinch. The words he wouhl have
uttered, died upon his lips, and found a life more spiritual in
self-denying thoughts.

"All the children hereabouts are fond of you, Tom, and mine
would be, of course," pursued ]\Iartin. " Perhajis I might name
one of 'em after you. Tom, eh ? AVell, I don't know ; Tom's not
a bad name. Thomas Pinch Cluizzlewit. T. P. C. on his pina-
fores — no objection to that, I should say 1 "

Tom cleared his throat, and smiled.

"She would like you, Tom, I know," said Martin.

" Ay ! " cried Tom Pinch, faintly.

"I can tell exactly what she would think of you," said Martin,
leaning his chin iipon his hand, and looking through tlie window-
glass as if he read there what he said ; "I know her so well. She
would smile, Tom, often at first when you spoke to her, or when
she looked at you — merrily too — but you wouldn't mind that. A
brighter smile you never saw ! "

"No, no," said Tom. "I wouldn't mind that."

"She would be as tender with you, Tom," said Martin, "as if
you were a child yourself So you are almost, in some things,
an't yon, Tom 1 "

Mr. Pinch nodded his entire assent.

" She w^ould always be kind and good-humoured, and glad to
see you," said Martin; "and when she found out exactly what
sort of fellow you were (which she'd do, very soon), she would
pretend to give you little commissions to execute, and to ask little
services of you, which she knew you were burning to render ; so
that when she really pleased you most, she would try to make you
think you most pleased her. She would take to you uncommonly,
Tom ; and would understand you far more delicately than I ever
shall ; and would often say, I know, tliat you were a harmless,
gentle, well-intentioned, good fellow."

How silent Tom Pinch was !

"In honour of old times," said Martin, "and of her having
heard you play the organ in this damp little church down here —
for nothing too — we will have one in the house. I siiall build an
architectural music-room on a plan of my own, and it'll look rather
knowing in a recess at one end. There you sliall play away, Tom,
till you tire yourself; and, as you like to do so in the dark, it


shall ht dark ; and luauy's the summer eveuiug she and I -will sit
and listen to you, Tom j be sure of that ! "

It may have required a stronger effort ou Tom Pinch"s part to
leave the seat on which he sat, and shake his friend by both hands,
with nothing but serenity and grateful feeling painted ou his face j
it may have required a stronger effort to perform this simple act
with a pure heart, than to achieve many and many a deed to which
the doubtful trumpet blo-mi by Fame has lustily resounded.
Doubtful, because from its long hovering over scenes of violence,
the smoke and steam of death have clogged the keys of that brave
instrument ; and it is not always that its notes are eitlier true or

"It's a proof of the kindness of human nature," said Tom,
characteristically putting himself quite out of sight in the matter,
'• that everybody who comes here, as you have done, is more con-
siderate and affectionate to me than I should have any right to
hope, if I were the most sanguine creature in the world ; or should
have any power to exiness, if I Avere the most eloquent. It really
overpowers me. But trust me," said Tom, "that I am not
ungrateful — -that I never forget — and tliat, if I can ever prove the
truth of my words to you, I will."

" Thafs all right," observed Martin, leaning back in his chair
with a hand in each pocket, and yawning drearily. "Very fine
talking, Tom • but I'm at Pecksniffs, I remember, and perhaps
a mile or so out of the high-road to fortune just at this minute.
tSo you've heard again this morning from what's his name, eh I "

"Who may that be?" asked Tom, seeming to enter a mild
protest on behalf of the dignity of an absent person.

" You know. What is it 1 Northkey."

" Westlock," rejoined Tom, in rather a louder tone than usual.

"Ah! to be sm-e," said Martin, "Westlock. I knew it was
something connected with a point of the compass and a door.
Well ! and what says Westlock 1 "

" Oh ! he has come into his proj^erty," answered Tom, nodding
his head, and smiling.

" He's a lucky dog," said Martin. '• I wish it were mine
instead. Is that all the mystery you were to tell me 1 '

" No," said Tom : " not all."

" What's the rest ? " asked Martin.

" For the matter of that," said Tom, " it's no mystery, and you
won't think much of it ; but it's very pleasant to me. John
always used to say when he was here, ' Mark my words, Pinch.
When my father's executors cash up ' — he used strange expressions
now and then, but that was his wav."


•• Cash-up's a very good expression," observed Martin, '• wiien
(It her people don't apply it to you. "Well? — What a slow iVllow
\ I ai are, Pinch ! "

'• Yes, I am I know,"' said Tom ; " but you'll make me nervous
if you tell me so. I'm afraid you have put me out a little now, for
1 f ii'uot wliat I was going to say."

■' When John's father's executors cashed up — " said IMartin

••Oh yes, to be sure,"' cried Tom; "yes. 'Then,' says John,
• I'll give you a dinner, Pinch, and come down to Salisbury on
liHri)ose.' Now, when John wrote the other day — the morning
IVH'ksnift' left, you know — he said his business was on the point of
lieing immediately settled, and as he was to receive his money
directly, when could I meet him at Salisbury 1 I wrote and said,
any day this week ; and I told him besides, that there was a new
jiuiiil here, and what a fine fellow you were, and what friends we
liad become. IJpon which John w-rites back this letter " — Tom
pn idiiced it — " fixes to-morrow ; sends his compliments to you ;
and begs that we three may have the pleasure of dining together —
n- it at the house where you and I were, either ; but at the very
li-t hotel in the town. Piead what he says."

■■ Very well,"' said Martin, glancing over it with his customary
(•M.ihiess : "much obliged to him. I'm agreeable."'

Tom could have wished him to be a little more astonished, a
little more pleased, or in some form or other a little more interested
ill such a great event. But he was perfectly self-possessed : and,
falling into his favourite solace of whistling, took another turn at
tlie grammar-school, as if nothing at all had hai)pened.

Mr. Pecksniff's horse being regarded in the liglit of a sacred
aiiiiiud, only to be driven by him, the chief priest of that temple,
>'V by some person distinctly nominated for the time being to that
hiuh otfice by himself, the two young men agreed to walk to
Salisbury ; and so, when the time came, they set oflF on foot ;
\vlii(-h was, after all, a better mode of travelling than in the gig,
as the weather was very cold and very dry.

IJetter ! A rare strong, hearty, healthy walk — four statute
miles an hour — preferable to that rumbling, tumbling, jolting,
shaking, scraping, creaking, villanous old gig? Why, the two
tilings will not admit of comparison. It is an insult to the walk,
' I set them side by side. Where is an instance of a gig having

V circulated a man's blood, unless when, putting him in danger

is neck, it awakened in his veins and in his cans, and all along

iii> spine, a tingling heat, much more peculiar than agreeable 1

When did a gig ever sharpen anybody's wits and energies, unless


it -was when the Lorse bolted, and, crashing madly down a steep
hill with a stone wall at the bottom, his desperate circumstances
suggested to the only gentleman left inside, some novel and
unheard-of mode of dropping out behind 1 Better than the gig !

The air was cold, Tom ; so it was, there is no denying it ; but
would it have been more genial in the gig ? The blacksmith's fire
burned very bright, and leaped up high, as though it wanted men
to Avarm ; but would it have been less tempting, looked at from
the clammy cushions of a gig ? The wind blew keenly, nipping
the features of the hardy wight who fought his way along ; blind-
ing him with his own hair if he had enough of it, and with wintry
dust if he hadn't ; stopping his breath as though he had been
soused in a cold bath ; tearing aside his wrappings-up, and whist-
ling in the very marroAV of his bones ; but it would have done all
this a hundred times more fiercely to a man in a gig, wouldn't it?
A fig for gigs !

Better than the gig ! When were travellers by wheels and
hoofs seen with such red-hot cheeks as those 1 when were they so
good humouredly and merrily bloused ? when did their laughter
ring upon the air, as they turned them round, what time the
stronger gusts came sweeping up ; and, facing round again as they
passed by, dashed on in such a glow of ruddy health as nothing
could keep pace with, but the high spirits it engendered *? Better
than the gig ! Why, here is a man in a gig coming the same way
now. Look at him as he passes his whip into his left hand, chafes
his numbed right lingers on his granite leg, and beats those
marble toes of his upon the foot-board. Ha, ha, ha ! Who Avould
exchange this rapid hurry of the blood for yonder stagnant misery,
though its iMce were twenty miles for one ?

Better than the gig ! No man in a gig could have such
interest in the milestones. No man in a gig could see, or feel, or
think, like merry users of their legs. How, as the wind sweeps on,
upon these breezy downs, it tracks its flight in darkening ripples
on the grass, and smoothest shadows on the hills ! Look round
and round upon this bare bleak plain, and see even here, upon a
Avinter's day, hoAV beautiful the shadows are ! Alas 1 it is the
nature of their kind to be so. The loA^eliest things in life, Tom,
are but shadows ; and they come and go, and change and fiide
away, as rapidly as these !

Another mile, and then begins a f;xll of snow, making the crow,
Avho skims away so close above the ground to shirk the Avind, a
blot of ink upon the landscape. But though it drives and drifts
against them as they Avalk, stiffening on their skirts, and freez-
ing ill tlie lashes of their eyes, they Avouldn't have it fall more


sparingly, no, not so much as by a single flake, althougli tlioy had

to go a score of miles. And, lo ! the towers of the Old Cathedral

rise before them, even now ! and bye and bye they come into the

sheltered streets, made strangely silent by their white carpet ; and

so to the Inn for which they are bound ; where tliey present such

flushed and burning faces to the cold waiter, and arc so brim fid of

: vigour, that he almost feels assaulted by their presence ; and,

i having nothing to oppose to the attack (being fresh, or rather stale,

; from the blazing fire in the coftee-room), is quite put out of his

j pale countenance.

I A famous Inn ! the hall a very grove of dead game, and

dangling joints of mutton; and in one corner an illustrious larder,

1 with glass doors, developing cold fowls and noble joints, and tarts

' wherein the raspberry jam coyly withdrew itself, as such a precious

I creature should, behind a lattice-work of pastry. And behold, on

j the first floor, at the court-end of the house, in a room with all the

j window-curtains drawn, a fire piled half-way up the chimney, plates

warming before it, wax candles gleaming everywhere, and a table

j spread for three, with silver and glass enough for thirty— John

I Westlock : not the old John of Pecksnift"'s, but a proper gentleman :

I looking another and a grander person, with the consciousness of

being his own master and having money in the bank : and yet in

some respects the old John too, for he seized Tom Pinch by both

his hands the instant he appeared, and fairly hugged him, in his

cordial welcome.

"And this,"' said John, "is Mr. Chuzzlewit. I am very glad
to see him ! " — John had an oft'-hand manner of bis own ; so they
shook hands warmly, and were friends in no time.

" Stand oft' a moment, Tom," cried the old pupil, laying one hand
on each of Mr. Pinch's shoulders, and holding him out at arm's length.
" Let me look at you ! Just the same ! Not a bit changed ! "

"Why, it's not so very long ago, you know," said Tom Pinch,
"after all."

" It seems an age to me,'" cried John ; " and so it ought to seem
to you, you dog." And then he pushed Tom down into the easiest
chair, and clapped him on the back so heartily, and so like his old
self in their old bed-room at old Pecksnift's, that it was a toss-up
with Tom Pinch Avhetlier he should laugh or cry. Laugliter won
it; and they all three laughed together.

"I have ordered everything for dinner, that we used to say we'd
have, Tom," observed John "NVestlock.

" No ! " said Tom Pinch, " Have you 1 "

"Everything. Don't laugh, if you can help it, before tlie
waiters. / couldn't when T was ordering it. It's like a dream.'


John was wrong there, because nobody ever dreamed such
soup as was put upon the table directly afterwards ; or sucli fish ;
or such side-dishes ; or such a top and bottom ; or such a course
of birds and sweets ; or in short anything approaching the
reality of that entertainment at ten-and-sixpence a head, exclusive
of wines. As to them, the man who can dream such iced cham-
pagne, such claret, port, or sherry, had better go to bed and stop

But perhaps the finest feature of the banquet was, that
nobody was half so much amazed by everything as John himself,
who, in his high delight, was constantly bursting into fits of
laughter, and then endeavouring to appear preternaturally solemn,
lest the waiters should conceive he wasn't used to it. Some of
the tilings they brought him to carve, were such outrageous
practical jokes, though, that it was impossible to stand it ; and
when Tom Pinch insisted, in spite of the deferential advice of an
attendant, not only on breaking down the outer wall of a raised
pie with a tablespoon, but on trying to eat it afterwards, John
lost all dignity, and sat behind the gorgeous dish-cover at the
head of the table, roaring to that extent that he was audible in the
kitchen. Nor had he the least objection to laugh at himself, as
lie demonstrated when they had all three gathered round the fire,
and the dessert was on the table ; at which period, the head
waiter inquired with respectful solicitude whether that port, being
a light and tawny wine, was suited to his taste, or whether he
would wish to try a fruity port with greater body. To this John
gravely answered that he was well satisfied with what he had,
which he esteemed, as one might say, a pretty tidy vintage ; for
wliich the waiter thanked him and withdrew. And then John told
his friends, with a broad grin, that he supposed it was all right,
l)ut he didn't know ; and went off into a perfect shout.

They were very merry and full of enjoyment the whole time,
but not the least pleasant part of the festival was when they all
three sat about the fire, cracking nuts, drinking wine, and talking

Online LibraryCharles DickensLife and adventures of Martin Chuzzlewit → online text (page 21 of 80)