Charles Dickens.

Life and adventures of Martin Chuzzlewit online

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cheerfully. It happened that Tom Pinch had a word to say to his
friend the organist's assistant, and so deserted his warm corner for
a few minutes at this season, lest it should grow too late ; leaving
tlie other two young men together.

They drank his health in his absence, of course ; and John
Westlock took that opportunity of saying, that he had never had
even a peevish word with Tom during the whole term of their
residence in Mr. Pecksnift''s house. This naturally led him to dwell
upon Tom's character, and to liint tliat Mr. Pecksnift" understood it
pretty well. He only hinted this, and very distantly : knowing


f that it pained Tom Pinch to have that gentleman disparaged, and
thinking- it woukl be as well to leave the new pupil to his own

"Yes,"' said Martin. " It's impossible to like Piuch better than
1 1 1 do, or to do greater justice to his good qualities. He is the most
willing fellow I ever saw."

" Pie's rather too willing," observed John, who was quick in
'ij>ervation. " It's quite a fault in him."'

''So it is," said Martin. "Very true. There was a fellow

only a week or so ago — a Mr. Tigg — who borrowed all the money

! he had, on a promise to repay it in a few days. It was but half a

! : sovereign, to be sure ; but it's well it was no more, for he'll never

see it again."

■' Poor fellow ! "' said John, who had been very attentive to these
\\'w words. " Perhaps you have not had an opportunity of
observing that, in his own pecuniary transactions, Tom's proud."

"You don't say so! No, I haven't. "What do you mean?
Won't he borrow 1 "

Joliu ^Yestlock shook his head.

" That's very odd," said Martin, setting down his empty glass.
"He's a strange compound, to be sure."

"As to receiving money as a gift," resumed John Westlock ;
"I think he'd die first."

"He's made up of simplicity," said Martin. "Help yourself."
"You, however," pursued John, filling his own glass, and
looking at his companion with some curiosity, " who are older
than the majority of Mr. Pecksniff''s assistants, and have evidently
: had much more experience, understand him, I liave no doubt, and
:see how liable he is to be imposed upon."

I "Certainly," said Martin, stretching out his legs, and holding
this wine between his eye and the light, "Mr. Pecksnift' knows
I that too. So do his daughters. Eh 1 "

John Westlock smiled, but made no answer.
"By the bye," said Martin, "that reminds me. What's your
opinion of Pecksnift" ? How did he use you? What do you
think of him now 1 — Coolly, you know, when it's all over ? "

"Ask Pinch," returned the old pupil. " He knows what my
sentiments used to be upon the subject. They are not changed,
I assure you."

"No, no," said Martin, "I'd rather have them from you."
"But Pinch saj's they are unjust," urged John with a smile.
"Oh ! well ! Tiien I know what course they take beforeliand,"
said Martin ; " and, therefore, you can have no delicacy in speak-
ing plainly. Don't mind me, I beg. I don't like him, I tell you


frankly. I am witli him because it happens from particular
circumstances to suit my convenience. I have some ability, I
believe, in that way ; and the obligation, if any, will most likely
be on his side and not mine. At the lowest mark, the balance
will be even and there'll be no obligation at all. So you may
talk to me, as if I had no connexion with him."

"If you press me to give my opinion" — returned John

"Yes, I do," said Martin. "You'll oblige me."

" — I should say," resumed the other, " that he is the most
consummate scoundrel on the face of the earth."

" Oh ! " said Martin, as coolly as ever. " That's rather strong."

"Not stronger than he deserves," said John; "and if he
called upon me to express my opinion of him to his face, I would
do so in the very same terms, without the least qualification.
His treatment of Pinch is in itself enough to justify them ; but
when I look back upon the five years I passed in that house, and
remember the hypocrisy, the knavery, the meannesses, the false
pretences, the lip service of that fellow, and his trading in saintly
semblances for the very Avorst realities ; when I remember how
often I was the witness of all this, and how often I was made a
kind of party to it, by tire fact of being there, with him for my
teacher ; I swear to you, that I almost despise myself."

Martin drained his glass, and looked at the fire.

" I don't mean to say, that is a right feeling," pursued John
Westlock, "because it was no fault of mine; and I can quite
understand — you, for instance, fully appreciating him, and yet
being forced by circumstances to remain there. I tell you simply
what my feeling is ; and even now, when, as you say, it's all over ;
and when I have the satisfaction of knowing that he always hated
me, and we always quarrelled, and I always told him my mind ;
even now, I feel sorry that I didn't yield to an impulse I often
had, as a boy, of running away from him and going abroad."

"Why abroad?" asked Martin, turning his eyes upon the

" In search," replied John Westlock, shruggiug his shoulders,
"of the livelihood I couldn't have earned at home. There would
have been something spirited in that. But, come — fill your glass,
and let us forget him."

"As soon as you please," said Martin. "In reference to
myself and my connexion with him, I have only to repeat what
I said before. I have taken my own way with him so far, and
shall continue to do so, even more than ever ; for the fact is — to
tell you the truth — that I believe he looks to me to supply his


tiefects, and coiUdii't afford to lose me. I liad a notion of that
in first going there. Your health ! "

"Thank you," returned young Westlock. "Yours. And may
the new pupil turn out as well as you can desire ! "

"What new pupil?"

"The fortunate youth, born under an auspicious star," returned
John Westlock, laughing; "whose parents, or guardians, arc
destined to be hooked by the advertisement. What ! Don't you
know that lie has advertised again 1 "


" Oh, yes. I read it just before dinner in the old newspaper.
I know it to be his ; having some reason to remember the style.
Hush ! Here's Pinch. Strange, is it not, that the more he likes
Pecksniff (if he can like him better than he does), the greater
reason one has to like /dm ? Not a word more, or we shall spoil
his whole enjoyment."

Tom entered as the words were spoken, with a radiant smile
upon his face ; and rubbing his hands, more from a sense of
delight than because he was cold (for he had been running fast),
sat down in his warm corner again, and was as happy as — as only
Tom Pincli could be. There was no other simile that will express
his state of mind.

"And so," he said, when he had gazed at his friend for some
time in silent pleasure, " so you really are a gentleman at last,
John. Well, to be sure ! "

" Trying to be, Tom; trying to be," he rejoined good-humouredly.
"There is no saying what I may turn out, in time."

"I suppose you wouldn't carry your own box to the mail now,"
said Tom Pinch, smiling : " althougli you lost it altogether by not
taking it."

" Wouldn't 1 1 " retorted John. " That's all you know about
it, Pinch. It must be a very heavy box that I wouldn't carry to
get away from Pecksniff's, Tom."

" There ! " cried Pinch, turning to Martin, " I told you so.
The great fault in his character is his injustice to Pecksniff". You
mustn't mind a word he says on that subject. His prejudice is
most extraordinary."

"The absence of anything like prejudice on Tom's part, you
know," said John AVestlock, laugliing heartily, as he laid his
hand on Mr. Pinch's shoulder, "is perfectly wonderful. If one
man ever had a profound knowledge of another, and saw him in
a true light, and in his own proper colours, Tom has that know-
ledge of Mr. Pecksniff."

"Why, of course I have," cried Tom. "That's exactly what


I have so often said to you. If you knew him as well as I do —
John, I'd give almost any money to bring that about — you'd
admire, respect, and reverence him. You couldn't help it. Oh,
how you wounded his feelings when you went away 1 "

" If I had known whereabout his feelings lay," retorted young
Westlock, "I'd have done my best, Tom, with that end in view,
you may depend upon it. But as I couldn't wound him in what
he has not, and in what he knows nothing of, except in his
ability to probe them to the quick in other people, I am afraid I
can lay no claim to your compliment."

Mr. Pinch, being unwilling to protract a discussion which
might possibly corrupt ]\Iartin, forebore to say anything in reply
to this speech ; but John "Westlock, whom nothing short of an
iron gag would have silenced when Mr. Pecksniff's merits were
once in question, continued notwithstanding.

" His feelings ! Oh, he's a tender-hearted man. His feelings !
Oh, he's a considerate, conscientious, self-examining, moral vaga-
bond, he is ! His feelings 1 Oh 1 — what's the matter, Tom ? "

Mr. Pinch was by this time erect upon the hearth-rug, button-
ing his coat with great energy.

" I can't bear it," said Tom, shaking his head. " Xo. I
really cannot. You must excuse me, John. I have a great esteem
and friendship for you ; I love you very much ; and have been
perfectly charmed and overjoyed to-day, to find you just the same
as ever; but I cannot listen to this."

" Why, it's my old way, Tom ; and you say yourself that you
are glad to find me unchanged."

"Xot in this respect," said Tom Pinch. "You must excuse
me, John. I cannot, really; I will not. It's very wrong; you
should be more guarded in your expressions. It was bad enough
when you and I used to be alone together, but under existing
circumstances, I can't endure it, really. No. I cannot, indeed."

" You are quite right ! " exclaimed the other, exchanging looks
with Martin; "and I am quite wrong, Tom. I don't know how
the deuce we fell on this unlucky theme. I beg yom- pardon with
all my heart."

" You have a free and manly temper, I know," said Pinch ;
"and therefore, your being so ungenerous in this one solitary
instance, only grieves me the more. It's not my pardon you have
to ask, John. You have done me nothing but kindnesses."

" AVell ! Pecksniff's pardon, then," said young "Westlock.
" Anything, Tom, or anybody. Pecksniff's pardon — will that
do ? Here I let us drink Pecksniff's health I "

"Thank you," cried Tom, shaking hands with him eagerly.


and filling a bumper. "Thank you; I'll drink it with all my
lieart, John. Mr. Pecksuitt"'s health, and prosperity to him ! "

John Westlock echoed the sentiment, or nearly so ; for he drank
Mr. Pecksniff's health, and Something to him — but what, was
not quite audible. Tlie general unanimity being then completely
restored, they drew their chairs closer round the fire, and conversed
in perfect harmony and enjoyment until bed-time.

No slight circumstance, perhaps, could have better illustrated
the difference of character between John "Westlock and Martin
( huzzlewit, than the manner in which each of the young men con-
templated Tom Pinch, after the little rupture just described.
There was a certain amount of jocularity in the looks of both, no
doubt, but there all resemblance ceased. The old pupil could not
do enough to show Tom how cordially he felt towards him, and
his friendly regard seemed of a graver and more thoughtful kind
than before. The new one, on the other hand, had no impulse
but to laugh at the recollection of Tom's extreme absurdity ; and
mingled with his amusement there was something shghting and
contemptuous, indicative, as it appeared, of his opinion that Mr.
I'inch was much too far gone in simplicity, to be admitted as the
friend, on serious and equal terms, of any rational man.

Jnhn Westlock, who did nothing by halves, if he could help it,
had provided beds for his two guests in the hotel ; and after a
very happy evening, they retired. Mr. Pinch was sitting on the
side of his bed with his cravat and shoes oft", ruminating on the
manifold good qualities of his old friend, when he was interrupted
Ity a knock at his chamber door, and the voice of Jolin himself

"You're not asleep yet, are you, Tom?"

" Bless you, no ! not I. I was thinking of you," replied Tom,
opening the door. " Come in."

" I am not going to detain you," said John ; " but I have for-
gotten all the evening a little commission I took upon myself; and
I am afraid I may forget it again, if I fail to discharge it at once.
You know a Mr. Tigg, Tom, I believe 1 "

" Tigg ! " cried Tom. " Tigg ! The gentleman who borrowed
some money of me 1 "

" Exactly," said John Westlock. " He begged me to present
his compliments, ami to return it with many thanks. Here it is.
I suppose it's a good one, but he is rather a doubtful kind of
customer, Tom."

Mr. Pinch received the little piece of gold, with a face whose
brightness might have shamed the metal ; and said he had no fear
about that. He was glad, he added, to find Uv. Tigg so prompt
and honourable in his dealings ; very glad.


" Why, to tell you the truth, Tom," replied his friend, " he is
not always so. If you'll take my advice, you'll avoid him as much
as you can, in the event of your encountering him again. And
by no means, Tom — pray bear this in mind, for I am very serious
— by no means lend him money any more."

" Ay, ay ! " said Tom, with his eyes wide open.

" He is very far from being a reputable acquaintance," returned
young Westlock ; " and the more you let him know you think so,
the better for you, Tom."

" I say, John," quoth Mr. Pinch, as his countenance fell, and
he shook his head in a dejected manner, "I hope you are not
getting into bad company."

"No, no," he replied laughing. "Don't be uneasy on that score."

"Oh but I a??i uneasy," said Tom Pinch; "I can't help it,
when I hear you talking in that way. If Mr. Tigg is what you
describe him to be, you have no business to know him, John. You
may laugh, but I don't consider it by any means a laughing matter,
I assure you."

" No, no," returned his friend, composing his features. " Quite
right. It is not, certainly."

"You know, John," said Mr. Pinch, "your very good nature
and kindness of heart make you thoughtless ; and you can't be
too careful on such a point as this. Upon my word, if I thought
you were falling among bad companions, I should be quite wretched,
for I know how difficult you would find it to shake them ott". I
would much rather have lost this money, John, than I would have
had it back again on such terms."

"I tell you, my dear good old fellow," cried his friend, shaking
him to and fro with both hands, and smiling at him with a cheerful,
ojien countenance, that would have carried conviction to a mind
much more suspicious than Tom's ; "I tell you there is no danger."

"Well!" cried Tom, "I am glad to hear it; I am overjoyed
to hear it. I am sure there is not, when you say so in that
manner. You won't take it ill, John, that I said what I did just

" 111 ! " said the other, giving his hand a hearty squeeze ; " why
what do you think I am made of? Mr. Tigg and I are not on
such an intimate footing that you need be at all uneasy, I give
you my solemn assurance of that, Tom. You are quite comfortable
now 1 "

" Quite," said Tom.

" Tlien once more, good night ! "

" Good night ! " cried Tom ; " and such pleasant dreams to you,
as should attend the sleep of the best fellow in the world ! "


"Excei)t Pecksniff," said his friend, stopping at the (h)ur tor a
moment, and looking gaily back.

" Except Pecksniff'," answered Tom, with great gravity ; " of

And thus they parted for the night ; John Westlock full of
light-heartedness and good humour, and poor Tom Pinch quite
satisfied ; though still, as he turned over on his side in bed, he
muttered to himself, " I really do wish, for all that, though, that
he wasn't acquainted with Mr. Tigg ! "

They breakfasted together very early next morning, for the
two young men desired to get back again in good season ; and
John Westlock was to return to London by the coach that day.
As he had some hours to spare, he bore them company for three
or four miles on their walk, and only jDarted from them at last in
sheer necessity. The parting was an unusually hearty one, not
only as between him and Tom Pinch, but on the side of Martin
also, who had found in the old pupil a very different sort of person
from the milksop he had prepared himself to expect.

Yoimg Westlock stopped upon a rising ground, when he had
gone a little distance, and looked back. They were walking at a
brisk pace, and Tom aj^peared to be talking earnestly. Martin
had taken off' his great-coat, the wind being now behind them, and
carried it upon Ins arm. As he looked, he saw Tom relieve him of
it, after a faint resistance, and, throwing it upon his own, encumber
himself with the weight of both. This trivial incident impressed
the old pupil mightily, for he stood there, gazing after them, until
they were hidden from his view ; when he shook his liead, as if he
were troubled by some uneasy reflection, and thoughtfully retraced
his steps to Salisbury.

In the meantime, Martin and Tom pmsued their way, until
they halted, safe and sound, at Mr. Pecksniff's house, where a
brief epistle from that good gentleman to Mr. Pinch, announced
the fiimily's return by that night's coach. As it would pass the
corner of the lane at about six o'clock in the morning, Mr.
Pecksniff requested that the gig might be in waiting at the
finger-post about that time, together with a cart for the luggage.
And to the end that he might be received with the greater honour,
the young men agreed to rise early, and be upon the spot

It was the least cheerful day they had yet passed together.
Martin was out of spirits and out of humour, and took every
opportunity of comparing his condition aiul prospects with those
of young Westlock : much to his own disadvantage always.
This mood of his depressed Tom ; and neither that morning's


parting, uor yesterday's dinner, helped to mend tlie matter. So
the hours dragged on heavily enough ; and they were glad to go )
to bed earlj'. j

They were not quite so glad to get up again at half-past four '
o'clock, in all the shivering discomfort of a dark winter's morning ;
but they turned out punctually, and were at the finger-post full
half-an-hour before the appointed time. It was not by any means|
a lively morning, for the sky was black and cloudy, and it rainedl
hard ; but Martin said there was some satisfaction in seeing that
brute of a horse (by this, he meant Mr. Pecksniff's Arab steed)
getting very wet ; and that he rejoiced, on his account, that it
rained so fast. From this it may be inferred, that JMartin's spirits
had not improved, as indeed they had not ; for while he and Mr.
Pinch stood waiting under a hedge, looking at the rain, the gig,
the cart, and its reeking driver, he did nothing but grumble ; and,
but that it is indispensable to any dispute that there should be
two parties to it, he would certainly have picked a quarrel with

At length the noise of wheels was faintly audible in the distance,
and presently the coach came splashing through the mud and mire,
with one miserable outside passenger crouching down among wet
straw, under a saturated umbrella ; and the coachman, guard, and
horses, in a fellowship of dripping wretchedness. Immediately on
its stopping, Mr. Pecksniff let down the window-glass and hailed
Tom Pinch.

" Dear me, Mr. Pinch ! Is it possible that you are out upon
this very inclement morning ? "

" Yes, Sir," cried Tom, advancing eagerly, " Mr. Chuzzlewit
and I, Sir."

"Oh !" said Mr. Pecksniff, looking, not so much at Martin as
at the spot on which he stood. " Oh ! Indeed ! Do me the
favour to see to the trunks, if you please, Mr. Pinch."

Then Mr. Pecksniff" descended, and helped his daughters to
alight ; but neither he nor the young ladies took the slightest
notice of Martin, who had advanced to offer his assistance, but
was repulsed by Mr. Pecksniff"'s standing immediately before his
person, with his back towards him. In the same manner, and in
profound silence, Mr. Pecksniff handed his daughters into the gig ;
and following himself and taking the reins, drove off home.

Lost in astonishment, Martin stood staring at the coach ; and
when the coach had driven away, at Mr. Pinch and the luggage,
until the cart moved off' too ; when he said to Tom :

"Now, will you have the goodness to tell me what this
portends ] "


"What?" asked Tom.

"This fellow's behaviour — Mr. Pecksiuft''s, I mean. You
saw it ? ■'

"No. Indeed I did not," cried Tom. "I was busy with the

"It is no matter," said Mai'^in. " Come ! Let us make liaste
back." And without another word he started off at sucli a pace,
that Tom had some difficulty in keeping up witli him.

He had no care where he went, but walked through little heaps
of mud and little pools of water with the utmost indifference ;
looking straight before him, and sometimes laughing in a strange
manner within himself. Tom felt that anything he could say
would only render him the more obstinate, and therefore trusted
to Mr. Pecksniff's manner when they reached the house, to remove
the mistaken impression under whiclr he felt convinced so great a
favourite as the new pupil must unquestionably be labouring.
But he was not a little amazed himself, when they did reach it,
and entered the parlour where Mr. Pecksniff" was sitting alone before
the fire, drinking some hot tea, to find, that instead of taking
favourable notice of his relative, and keeping him, Mr. Pinch, in
the background, he did exactly the reverse, and was so lavish in
his attentions that Tom was thoroughly confounded.

"Take some tea, Mr. Pinch — take some tea," said Pecksnift',
stirring the fire. " You must be very cold and damp. Pray take
some tea, and come into a warm place, Mr. Pinch."

Tom saw that Martin looked at Mr. Pecksnitt' as though he
could have easily found it in his heart to give him an invitation
to a very warm place ; but he was c^uite silent, and standing
oppo-site that gentleman at the table, regarded him attentively.

"Take a chair, Mr. Pinch," said Pecksniff^ "Take a chair,
if you please. How have things gone on in our absence, Mr.

"You — you will be very much pleased with the grammar
school. Sir," said Tom. "It's nearly finished."

"If you will have the goodness, ]\Ir. Pinch," said Pecksnitt",
waving his hand and smiling, "we will not discuss anything
connected with that question at present. What have you been
doing, Thomas, humph?"

Mr. Pinch looked from master to pupil, and from pupil to
master, and was so perplexed and dismayed, that he wanted
presence of mind to answer the question. In this awkward interval,
Mr. Pecksnitt' (who was perfectly conscious of Martin's gaze, though
he had never once glanced towards him) poked the fire very much,
and when he couldn't do that any more, drank tea assiduously.


"l!s"ow, Mr. Pecksuiti','' said Martin at last, in a very quiet I
voice, " if you have sufficiently refreshed and recovered yourself, I
shall be glad to hear what you mean by this treatment of me."

"And what," said Mr. PecksnitF, turning his eyes on Tom
Pinch, even more placidly and gently than before, "what have yon
been doing, Thomas, humph ? "

When he had repeated this inquiry, he looked round the walls
of the room as if he were curious to see whether any nails had been
left there by accident in former times.

Tom was almost at his wits' end what to say between the two,
and had already made a gesture as if he would call Mr. Pecksniffs
attention to the gentleman who had last addressed him, when
Martin saved him further trouble, by doing so himself.

"Mr. Pecksniff," he said, softly rapping the table twice or
thrice, and moving a step or two nearer, so that he could have
touched him with his hand ; " you heard what I said just now.
Do me the favour to reply, if you please. I ask you " — he raised
his voice a little here — "what you mean by this?"

"I will talk to you, Sir," said Mr. Pecksniff in a severe voice,
as he looked at him for the first time, " presently."

" You are very obliging," returned Martin ; "presently will not
do. I must trouble you to talk to me at once."

Online LibraryCharles DickensLife and adventures of Martin Chuzzlewit → online text (page 22 of 80)