Charles Dickens.

Life and adventures of Martin Chuzzlewit online

. (page 43 of 80)
Online LibraryCharles DickensLife and adventures of Martin Chuzzlewit → online text (page 43 of 80)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

" Cherry, then," said Bailey. " Cherry's short for it. It's a
the same."

" It don't begin with a C at all." retorted Mrs. Gamp, shakiu
her head. " It begins with a M."

'■ Whew ! " cried Mr. Bailey, slapping a little cloud of pipecla
out of his left leg, " then he's been and married the merry one ! "

As these words were mysterious, Mrs. Gamp called upon hi
to explain, which Mr. Bailey proceeded to do : that lady listenii


greedily to everything he said. He was yet in the fulucss of
his narrative when the sound of wheels, and a double knock at the
street door, announced the arrival of the uewly-niarried coujjle.
Beirgiug him to reserve what more he had to say, for her hearing
on the way home, Mrs. Gamp took up the candle, and hurried
away to receive and welcome the young mistress of the house.

" Wishing you appiness and joy with all my art," said Mrs.
Gamp, dropping a curtesy as they entered the hall ; " and you,
too. Sir. Your lady looks a little tired with the jouruey, Mr.
Chuzzlewit a pretty dear ! "

"She has bothered enough about it," grumbled Mr. Jonas.
" Now, show a light, Avill you ! "

"This way, ma'am, if you please," said Mrs. Gamp, going up-
stairs before them. " Things has been made as comfortable as
they could be ; but there's many things you'll have to alter your
own self when you gets time to look about you. Ah ! sweet thing !
But you don't," added Mrs. Gamp, internally, "you don't look
much like a merry one, I must say ! "

It was true ; she did not. The death that had gone before the
bridal seemed to have left its shade upon the house. The air was
heavy and oppressive ; the rooms were dark ; a deep gloom tilled
up every chink and corner. Upon the hearthstone, like a creature
of ill omen, sat the aged clerk, with his eyes fixed on some
withered branches in the stove. He rose and looked at her.

" So there you are, Mr, Chuft"," said Jonas carelessly, as he
dusted his boots ; " still in the land of the living, eh 1 "

" Still in the land of the living. Sir," retorted Mrs. Gamp.
" And Mr. Chutfey may thank you for it, as many and many a
time I've told him."

Mr. Jonas was not in the best of humours, for he merely said,
as he looked round, "We don't want you any more, you know,
^Irs. Gamp."

"I'm a going immediate. Sir," returned the nurse; "unless
there's nothink I can do for you, ma'am. Ain't there," said Mrs.
Gamp, with a look of great sweetness, and rummaging all the time
in her pocket ; " ain't there nothink I can do for you, my little bird?"

" No," said Merry, almost crying. " You had better go away,
please ! "

With a leer of mingled sweetness and slyness ; with one eye
on the future, one on the bride, and an arch expression in her face,
partly spiritual, partly spirituous, and wholly professional and
peculiar to her art ; Mrs. Gamp rummaged in her pocket again,
and took from it a printed card, whereon was an inscrijitioii copied
from her sign-board.


" Would you be so good, my darling dovey of a dear young
married lady," Mrs. Gamp observed, in a low voice, "as put that
somewheres where you can keep it in your mind 1 I'm well be-
known to many ladies, and it's my card. Gamp is my name, and
Gamp my nater. Livin' quite handy, I will make so bold as call
in now and then, and make inquiry how your health and spirits is,
my precious chick ! "

And with innumerable leers, winks, coughs, nods, smiles, and
curtseys, all leading to the establishment of a mysterious and
confidential understanding between herself and the bride, Mrs.
Gamp, invoking a blessing upon the house, leered, winked,
coughed, nodded, smiled, and curtseyed herself out of the room.

" But I will say, and I would if I was led a Martha to the
Stakes for it," Mrs. Gamp remarked below-stairs, in a whisper,
" that she don't look much like a merry one at this i^resent
moment of time."

" Ah ! wait till you hear her laugh ! " said Bailey.

"Hem!" cried Mrs. Gamp, in a kind of groan. "I will,

They said no more in the house, for Mrs. Gamp put on her
bonnet, Mr. Sweedlepipe took up her box, and Mr. Bailey accom-
panied them towards Kingsgate Street ; recounting to Mrs. Gamp,
as tliey went along, the origin and progress of his acquaintance with
Mrs. Chuzzlevvit and her sister. It was a pleasant instance of this
youth's precocity, that he fancied Mrs. Gamp had conceived a
tenderness for him, and was much tickled by her misplaced

As the door closed heavily behind them, Mrs. Jonas sat down;
in a chair, and felt a strange chill creep upon her, whilst she looked'
about the room. It was pretty much as she had known it, but:
ajjpeared more dreary. She had thought to see it brightened to;
receive her. S

" It ain't good enough for you, I suppose ? " said Jonas, watching]
her looks. {

" Why, it '/.s dull," s^id Merry, trying to be more herself !

"It'll be duller before you're done with it," retorted Jonas, "ili
you give me any of your airs. You're a nice article, to turn sulky
on first coming home ! 'Ecod you used to have life enough, wher,
you could i^lague me with it. The gal's down stairs. Ring th(|
bell for supper, while I take my boots oft" ! " :

She roused herself from looking after him as he left the room
to do what he had desired : when the old man Chuftey laid hi:'
hand softly on her arm.

" You are not married 1 " he said eagerly. " Not married ? "



" Yes. A month ago. Good Heaveu, what is the matter 1 "

He auswered nothing was the matter ; and turned from her.
But in her fear and wonder, turning also, she saw him raise his
trembling hands above his head, and heard him sny :

" Oh ! woe, woe, woe, upon this wicked house ! "

It was her welcome, — Home.



Mr. Bailey, Junior — for the sporting character, whilom of
general utility at Todgers's, had now regularly set up in life under
that name, without troubling himself to obtain from the legis-
lature a direct licence in the form of a Private Bill, which of all
kinds and classes of bills is without exception the most unreason-
able in its charges — Mr. Bailey, Junior, just tall enough to be
seen by an inquiring eye, gazing indolently at society from beueatb
the apron of his master's cab, drove slowly up and down Pall Mai)
about the hour of noon, in waiting for his "Governor." Tk
horse of distinguished family, who had Capricorn for his nepheM-
and Cauliflower for his brother, showed himself worthy of his higl
relations by champing at the bit until his chest was white witl
foam, and rearing like a horse in heraldry ; the plated harness an(
the patent leather glittered in the sun ; pedestrians admired ; Mr
Bailey was complacent, but unmoved. He seemed to say, "J
barrow, good people, a mere barrow ; nothing to what we could dc
if we chose ! " and on he went, squaring his short green arms out
side the apron, as if he were hooked on to it by his armpits.

Mr. Bailey had a great opinion of Brother to Cauliflower, an^
estimated his powers highly. But he never told him so. On th
contrary, it Avas his practice, in driving that animal, to assail hii,
with disrespectful, if not injurious, expressions, as, "Ah! woul
you ! " " Did you think it, then "? " " Where are you going f '
nowl" "No you won't, my lad!" and similar fragmentar
remarks. These being usually accompanied by a jerk of the reii
or a crack of the whip, led to many trials of strengtli between then
and to many contentions for the upper hand, terminating, now an
then, in china shops, and other unusual goals, as Mr, Bailey ha^
already hinted to his friend Poll Sweedlepipe.


Ou the present occasion ]Mr. Bailey, being in spirits, vas mure
than commonly hard upon his charge ; in consequence of which
that fiery animal confined himself almost entirely to his hind legs
in displaying his paces, and constantly got himself into jiositions
with reference to the cabriolet that veiy much amazed tlie
piissengers in the street. But Mv. Baile}'^, not at all disturbed,
had still a shower of pleasantries to bestow on any one who crossed
his path : as, calling to a full-grown coalheaver in a wagon, who
for a moment blocked the way, " Now, young 'un, who trusted
YOU with a cart 1 " inquiring of elderly ladies who wanted to cross,
and ran back again, " Why they didn't go to the w^orkhouse and
get an order to be buried ; " tempting boys, with friendly words,
to get up behind, and immediately afterwards cutting them down ;
and the like flashes of a cheerful humour, which he would occa-
sionally relieve by going round St. James's Square at a hand gallop,
and coming slowly into Pall Mall by another entry, as if, in the
interval, his pace had been a perfect crawl.

It was not until these amusements had been very often repeated,
and the apple-stall at the corner had sustained so many miraculous
escapes as to appear impregnable, that Mr. Bailey was summoned
to the door of a certain house in Pall Mall, and turning short,
obeyed the call and jumped out. It was not until he had held the
bridle for some minutes longer, — every jerk of Cauliflower's brother's
head, and every twitch of Cauliflower's brother's nostril, taking
him ort" his legs in the meanwhile, that two persons entered the
vehicle, one of Avhom took the reins and drove rapidly ott". Nor
was it until j\Ir. Bailey had run after it some hundreds of yards in
vain, that he managed to lift hisshort leg into the iron ste]), and finally
to get his boots upon the little footboard behind. Then, indeed,
he became a sight to see : and— standing now on one foot and now
upon the other ; now trying to look round the cab on this side,
now on that ; and now endeavouring to peep over the top of it, as
it went dashing in among the carts and coaches — was from head
to heel Newmarket.

Tlie appearance of Mr. Bailey's governor as he drove along,
fully justified that enthusiastic youth's description of him to the
wondering Poll. He had a w^orld of jet-black shining hair upon
his head, upon his cheeks, upon liis chin, upon his ujjper lip. His
clothes, symmetrically made, were of the newest fashion and the
costliest kind. Flowers of gold and blue, and green and blushing
red, were on his waistcoat ; precious chains and jewels sparkled on
liis breast ; his fingers, clogged with brilliant rings, were as
unwieldy as summer flies but newly rescued from a honey-pot.
The daylight mantled in his gleaming hat and boots as in a polished


glass. And yet, though changed his name, and changed his out-
ward surface, it was Tigg. Though turned and twisted upside
down, and inside out, as great men have been sometimes known
to be ; though no longer Montague Tigg, but Tigg Montague ; still
it was Tigg : the same Satanic, gallant, military Tigg. The brass
was burnished, lacquered, newly -stamped ; yet it was the true Tigg
metal notwithstanding.

Beside him sat a smiling gentleman, of less pretensions and of
business looks, whom he addressed as David. Surely not the
David of the — how shall it be phrased 1 — the triumvirate of golden
balls 1 Not David, tapster at the Lombards' Arms 1 Yes. The
very man.

" The secretary's salary, David," said Mr. Montague, " the office
being now established, is eight hundred pounds per annum, with
his house-rent, coals, and candles free. His five-and-twenty shares
he holds, of course. Is that enough 1 "

David smiled and nodded, and coughed behind a little locked
portfolio which he carried ; with an air that proclaimed him to be
the secretary in question.

" If that's enough," said Montague, " I will propose it at the
Board to-day, in my capacity as chairman."

The secretary smiled again ; laughed, indeed, this time ; and
said, rubbing his nose slily with one end of the portfolio :

" It was a capital thought, wasn't it 1 "

"What was a capital thought, David?" Mr. Montagu^

" The Anglo-Bengalee," tittered the secretary.

"The Anglo-Bengalee Disinterested Loan and Life Iiisurancei
Company, is rather a capital concern, I hope, David," said Mon-

"Capital indeed!'' cried the secretary, with another laugh — 1
"in one sense."

"In the only important one," observed the chairman; "which
is number one, David."

"What," asked the secretary, bursting into another laugh,
"what will be the paid-up capital according to the next pro-
spectus 1 "

"A figure of two, and as many oughts after it as the printer
can get into the same line," replied his friend. " Ha, ha ! "

At this they both laughed ; the secretary so vehemently, thai
in kicking up his feet, he kicked the apron open, and nearly
started Cauliflower's brother into an oyster-shop ; not to mentioi
Mr. Bailey's receiving such a sudden swing, that he held on fo'
the moment, quite a young Fame, by one strap and no legs.


" Wliat a chap you .ire ! " exclaimed David athniringly, when
is little alarm had subsided.

"Say genius, David, genius."

"Well, upon my soul, you are a genius then," said David. " I
v/ays knew you had the gift of the gab, of course ; but I never
'lieved you were lialf the man you are. How could 1 1 "

" I rise with circumstances, David. That's a point of genius

itself,"' said Tigg. " If you were to lose a hundred pound wager

me at tliis minute, David, and were to pay it (which is most
ufoundedly improbable), I should rls*, in a mental point of view,

It is due to j\Ir. Tigg to say that he had really risen with his
•portunities ; and peculating on a grander scale, had become a
ander man, altogether.

'' Ha, ha," cried the secretary, laying his hand, with growing
miliarity, upon the chairman's arm. " When I look at you,
id think of your property in Bengal being— ha, ha, ha ! — "

The half-expressed idea seemed no less ludicrous to Mr. Tigg
lan to his friend, for he laughed too, heartily.

" — Being," resumed David, " behig amenable — your property in
sngal being amenable — to all claims upon the company ; when I
ok at you and think of that, you might tickle me into fits by
aving the feather of a pen at me. Upon my soul you might ! "

" It's a devilish fine jiroperty," said Tigg Montague, " to be
nenable to any claims. The preserve of tigers alone is worth a
int of money, David."

David could only reply in the intervals of his laughter, " Oh,
hat a chap you are ! " and so continued to laugh, and hold his
ies, and wipe his eyes, for some time, without ottering any other

" A ca})ital idea ? " said Tigg, returning after a time to his
impanion's first remark : " no doubt it was a capital idea. It
as my idea."

" No, no. It was my idea," said David. " Hang it, let a man have
ime credit. Didn't I say to you that I'd saved a few pounds? — "

"You said! Didn't I say to you," interposed Tigg, "that /
id come into a few pounds 1 "

" Certainly you did," returned David, warndy, " but that's not
le idea. Who said, that if we put the money together we could
rnish an office, and make a show 1 "

"And who said," retorted Mr. Tigg, "that, providing we did it
1 a sufficiently large scale, we could furnish an office and nuike a
low, without any money at all ? Be rational, and just, and calm,
id tell me whose idea was that."


"Why there," David was obliged to confess, "you had the
advantage of me, I admit. But I don't put myself on a level
with you. I only want a little credit in the business."

"AH the credit you deserve, you have," said Tigg. "The
plain work of the company, David — figures, books, circulars,
advertisements, pen, ink and paper, sealing-wax and wafers — is
admirably done by you. You are a first-rate groveller. I don't
dispute it. But the ornamental department, David ; the inventive
and poetical department — "

"Is entirely yours," saitUhis friend. " No question of it. But
with such a swell turn-out as this, and all the handsome things
you've got about you, and the life you lead, I mean to say it's a
precious comfortable department too."

"Does it gain the purpose? Is it Anglo -Bengalee?" asked

"Yes," said David.

"Could you imdertake it yourself?" demanded Tigg.

"No," said David.

"Ha, ha!" laughed Tigg. "Then be contented with youi
station and your profits, David, my fine fellow, and bless the day
that made us acquainted across the counter of our common uncle. |
for it was a golden day to you."

It will have been already gathered from the conversation o
these worthies, that they were embarked in an enterprise of souk
magnitude, in which they addressed the public in general froii
the strong position of having everything to gain, and nothing a
all to lose ; and which, based upon this great principle, wa
thriving pretty comfortably.

The Anglo -Bengalee Disinterested Loan and Life Insuranc
Company, started into existence one morning, not an Infant Ir
stitution, but a Grown-up Company running alone at a great pac(
and doing business right and left : with a " branch " in a first floe
over a tailor's at the West-end of the town, and main ofiices in
new street in the City, comprising the upper part of a spaciov
house, resplendent in stucco and plate-glass, with wire blinds i
all the windows, and " Anglo- Bengalee " worked into the patteij
of every one of them. On the door-post was painted again i,
large letters, " Offices of tlie Anglo-Bengalee Disinterested Loa|
and Life Insurance Company," and on the door was a large brai^
plate with the same inscription : always kept very bright, v
courting inquiry ; staring the City out of countenance after offi''
hours on working days, and all day long on Sundays ; and looldi;
bolder than the Bank. Within, the ofiices were newly plasterer
newly painted, newly papered, newly countered, newly floor-clothe;



?-\vly tabled, newly chaired, newly fitted -up in every way, with
xnls that were substantial and expensive, and designed (like tlie
)mpauy) to last. Business ! Look at the green ledgers with
id backs, like strong cricket-balls beaten fiat ; the court-guides,
irectories, day-books, almanacks, letter-boxes, weighing-machines
ir letters, rows of lire-buckets for dashing out a conflagration in
s first spark, and saving the immense wealth in notes and bonds
^longing to the company ; look at the iron safes, the clock, the
fice seal — in its capacious self, security for anything. Solidity I
ook at the massive blocks of marble in the chimney-pieces, and
16 gorgeous parapet on the top of the house ! Publicity ! Why,
nglo-Bengalee Disinterested Loan and Life Insurance Company

painted on the very coal-scuttles. It is repeated at every turn
atil the eyes are dazzled with it, and the head is giddy. It is
igraved upon the top of all the letter paper, and it makes a
;roll-work round the seal, and it shines out of the porter's
attons, and it is repeated twenty times in every circular and
Liblic notice whereiu one David Crimple, Esquire, Secretary and
ssident Director, takes the liberty of inviting your attention to the
^companying statement of the advantages offered by the Anglo-
eugalee Disinterested Loan and Life Insurance Company : and fully
roves to you that any connection on your part with that establish-
lent must result in a perpetual Christmas Box and constantly
icreasing Bonus to yourself, and that nobody can run any risk
y the transaction except the office, which, in its great liberality,

pretty sure to lose. And this, David Crimple, Esquire, submits
) you (and the odds are heavy you believe him), is the best
aaranteo that can reasonably be suggested by the Board of
[anagement for its permanence and stability.

This gentleman's name, by the way, had been originally Crimp ;
nt as the word was susceptible of an awkward construction and
light be misrepresented, he had altered it to Crimple.

Lest with all these proofs and confirmations, any man slioidd
e suspicious of the Anglo-Bengalee Disinterested Loan and Life
iisurance Company ; should doubt in tiger, cab, or person, Tigg
lontaguo Esquire (of Pall Mall and Bengal), or any other name
1 the imaginative List of Directors ; there was a porter on the
remises — a wonderful creature, in a vast red waistcoat and a
liort-tailed pepper-and-salt coat — who carried more conviction to
lie minds of sceptics than the whole establishment without him.
ro confidences existed between him and the Directorshi}) ; nobody
new where he had served last ; no character or explanation had
een given or required. No c^uestions had been asked on either
ide, This mysterious being, relying solely on his figure, had


applied for the situation, and had been instantly engaged on his
own terms. They were high ; but he knew, doubtless, tliat no
man could carry such an extent of waistcoat as himself, and felt
the full value of his capacity to such an institution. When he
sat upon a seat erected for him in a corner of the office, with his
glazed hat hanging on a peg over his head, it was impossible to
doubt the respectability of the concern. It went on doubling
itself with every square inch of his red waistcoat until, like the
problem of the nails in the horse's shoes, the total became
enormous. People had been known to apply to effect an insur-
ance on their lives for a thousand pounds, and looking at him,
to beg, before the form of proposal was filled up, that it might be
made two. And yet he was not a giant. His coat was rather
small than otherwise. The Avhole charm was in his waistcoat.
Respectability, competence, property in Bengal or anywhere else,
responsibility to any amount on the part of the company that:
employed him, were all expressed in that one garment. i

Rival offices had endeavoured to lure him away; Lombard
Street itself had beckoned to him ; rich companies had whispered
" Be a Beadle ! " but he still continued fiiithful to the Anglo-
Bengalee. Wiiether he was a deep rogue, or a stately simpleton,
it was impossible to make out, but he appeared to believe in the
Anglo-Bengalee. He was grave with imaginary cares of office
and having nothing whatever to do, and something less to tab
care of, would look as if the pressure of his numerous duties, am
a sense of the treasure in the company's strong-room, made him ;
solemn and a thoughtful man.

As the cabriolet drove up to the door, this officer appearei
bareheaded on the pavement, crying aloud " Room for the chair
man, room for the chairman, if you please ! " much to the ad
miration of the bystanders, who, it is needless to say, had thei
attention directed to the Anglo-Bengalee Comijany thenceforth, b;
that means. Mr. Tigg leaped gracefully out, followed by th
Managing Director (who was by this time very distant am'
respectful) and ascended the stairs, still preceded by the porter;
who cried as he went, "By your leave there! by your leave ^
The Chairman of the Board, Gentle — men!" In like mannei
but in a still more stentorian voice, he ushered the chairma'
through the public office, where some humble clients were trans ^
acting business, into an awful chamber, labelled Board-room : tb|
door of which sanctuary immediately closed, and screened tb
great capitalist from vulgar eyes. .

The board-room had a Turkey carpet in it, a sideboard, >
portrait of Tigg Montague Esquire as chairman ; a very imposiu:


Iiair of office, garnislied witli an ivory hammer and a little hand-
ell ; and a long table, set ont at intervals with sheets of blottiug-
apcr, foolscap, clean pens, and inkstands. The chairman having
iken his seat with great solemnity, tlie secretary supported him
II his right hand, and the porter stood bolt upright behind them,
)rming a warm background of waistcoat. This was the board :
rerything else being a light-hearted little liction.

'^Bullamy!" said Mr.^Tigg.

" Sir ! "' replied the Porter.

"Let the Medical Officer know, with my com])liments, that I
ish to see him."

Bullamy cleared his throat, and bustled out into the office,
■ying " The Chairman of the Board wislies to see the Medical
fficer. By your leave there ! By your leave ! " He soon re-
u-ned with the gentleman in question ; and at both openings
f the board-room door — at his coming in and at his going out —
mple clients were seen to stretch their necks and stand upon
leir toes, thirsting to catch the slightest glimpse of that mysterious

Online LibraryCharles DickensLife and adventures of Martin Chuzzlewit → online text (page 43 of 80)