Charles Dickens.

Life and adventures of Martin Chuzzlewit online

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e helped in. Let me kiss your hand for all your goodness to

Be kinder still, and don't ask me what it is ! "
A-t first, John gazed at him, in great surprise ; but remember-
how very much reduced he was, and how recently his brain
been on fire with fever, believed that he was labouring under
e imaginary horror, or despondent fancy. For farther informa-
\ on this point, he took an opportunity of drawing Mrs. Gamp
e, wliile Betsey Prig was wrapping him in cloaks and shawls,
asked her whether he was quite collected in his mind.
" Oh bless you, no ! " said Mrs. Gamp. " He hates his nusses
this liour. They always does it. Sir. It's a certain sign. If
could have heerd the poor dear soul a findin' fault with me
Betsey Prig, not half an hour ago, you would have wondered
' it is we don't get fretted to the tomb."

rhis almost confirmed John in his suspicion ; so, not taking
it had passed into any serious account, he resumed his former
^rful manner, and assisted by Mrs. Gamp and Betsey Prig,
luctcd Leewsome down stairs to the coach : just then upon the
it of starting.

Poll Sweedlepipe was at the door with Ins arms tight folded
his eyes wide open, and looked on with absorbing interest,
le the sick man was slowly moved into the vehicle. His bony
ds and haggard face impressed Poll wonderfully ; and he
irmcd ^Ir. Bailey, in confidence, that he wouldn't have missed
ng him for a pound. Mr. Bailey, who was of a difterent
stitution, remarked, that he would have stayed away for

It was a troublesome matter to adjust Mrs. Gamp's luggage to
satisfaction ; for every package belonging to that lady iiad the
)nvenient property of requiring to be put in a boot by itself,
to have no other luggage near it, on pain of actions at law
heavy damages against the proprietors of the coach. The
brella with the circular patch was particularly hard to be got


rid of, and several times tlirust out its battered brass nozzle from
improper crevices and chinks, to the great terror of the other
passengers. Indeed, in her intense anxiety to find a haven of
refuge for this chattel, Mrs. Gamp so often moved it, in the
course of five minutes, that it seemed not one umbrella but fifty.
At length it was lost, or said to be ; and for the next five minutes
she was face to face with the coachman, go wherever he might,
protesting that it should be "made good," though she took tlie
question to the House of Commons.

At last, her bundle, and her pattens, and her basket, and
everything else, being disposed of, she took a friendly leave of
Poll and Mr. Bailey, dropped a curtsey to Joiin Westlock, and
parted as from a cherished member of the sisterhood witli Betsey

" Wishin' you lots of sickness, my darling creetur," Mrs. Gamp

J observed, "and good places. It won't be long, I hope, afore we

works together, off and on, again, Betsey ; and may our next

meetin' be at a large family's, where tliey all takes it reg'lar, one

from another, turn and turn about, and has it business-like."

" I don't care how soon it is," said Mrs. Prig ; " nor \\o\\
many weeks it lasts."

Mrs. Gamp with a reply in a congenial spirit was backing ti
the coach, when she came in contact witli a lady and gentlemai
who were passing along the footway.

" Take care, take care here ! " cried the gentleman. " Halloo
My dear ! Why, it's Mrs. Gamp ! "

"What, Mr. Mould!" exclaimed the nurse. "And Mr?
Mould ! who would have thought as we sliould ever have ;
meetin' here, I'm sure ! "

"Going out of town, Mrs. Gamp?" cried Mould. "That'
unusual, isn't it T'

" It is unusual, Sir," said Mrs. Gamp. " But only for a da
or two at most. The gent," she whispered, "as I spoke about."

"What, in the coach !" cried Mould. "The one you though
of recommending 1 Very odd. My dear, this will interest yoi
The gentleman that Mrs. Gamp thought likely to suit us, is i
the coach, my love."

Mrs. Mould was greatly interested. I

" Here, my dear. You can stand upon the door-step," sal
Mould, " and take a look at him. Ha ! There he is. Where
my glass ? Oh ! all right, I've got it. Do you see him, rr
dear 1 "

" Quite plain," said Mrs. Mould.

" Upon my life you knuw, this iri a very singular circumstance


itl jMonld, quite delighted. " This is the sort of tiling, my dear,
wouldn't have missed on any account. It tickles one. It's
tei-esting. It's almost a little play, you know. Ah ! There he
! To be sure. Looks poorly, Mrs. M., don't he 1 "

Mrs. Mould assented.

" He's coming our way, perhaps, after all," said Mould.
Who knows ! I feel as if I ought to show him some little
teution, really. He don't seem a stranger to me. I'm very
uch inclined to move my hat, my dear."

" He's looking hard this way," said Mrs. ]\Iould.

" Then I will ! " cried Mould. " How d'ye do, Sir 1 I wish
lU good day. Ha ! He bows too. Very gentlemanly. Mrs.
amp has the cards in her pocket, I have no doubt. This is very
:igular, my dear — and very pleasant. I am not superstitious,
It it really seems as if one was destined to pay him those little
elancholy civilities which belong to our peculiar line of business.
:iere can lie no kind of objection to your kissing your hand to
m, my dear."

Mrs. Mould did so.

" Ha ! " said Mould. " He's evidently gratifie<l. Poor fellow !
in quite glad you did it, my love. Bye bye, Mrs. Gamp ! "
aving his hand. " There he goes ; there he goes ! "

So he did ; for the coach rolled oft' as tlie words were spoken.
r. and ^Irs. Mould, in high good humour, went their merry way.
r. Bailey retired with Poll Sweedlepii)p as soon as possible ; but
me little time elapsed before he could remove his friend from
le ground, owing to the impression wrought upon the barber's
irves by Mrs. Prig, whom he pronounced, in admiration of her
!ard, to be a woman of transcendent charms.

When the light cloud of bustle hanging round the coach was
lus dispersed, Nadgett was seen in the darkest box of the Bull
iffee-room, looking wistfully up at the clock — as if the man who
;ver appeared were a little behind his time.



As the surgeon's first care after amputating a limb is to take
|j the arteries the cruel knife has severed, so it is the duty of
* 2g


this history, which in its remorseless course has cut from the
Pecksniifiau trunk its right arm, Mercy, to look to the parent
stem, and see liow in all its various ramifications it got on
without her.

And first of Mr. Pecksniff, it may be observed, that having
provided for his younger daughter that choicest of blessings, a
tender and indulgent husband ; and having gratified the dearest
wish of his parental heart by establishing her in life so happily ;
he renewed his youth, and spreading the plumage of his own
bright conscience, felt himself equal to all kinds of flights. It is
customary with fathers in stage-plays, after giving their daughters
to the men of their hearts, to congratulate themselves on having
no other business on their hands but to die immediately : though
it is rarely found that they are in a hurry to do it. Mr. Pecksniff,
being a father of a more sage and practical class, appeared to think
that his immediate business was to live ; and having deprived
himself of one comfort, to surround himself with others.

But however much inclined the good man was, to be jocose and
playful, and in the garden of his fancy to disport himself (if one
may say so), like an architectural kitten, he had one impediment,
constantly opposed to him. The gentle Cherry, stung by a sense!
of slight and mjury, which far from softening down or wearing'
out, rankled and festered in her heart — was in flat rebellion
She waged fierce war against her dear Papa ; she led her paren
what is usually called, for want of a better figure of speech, tin
life of a dog. But never did that dog live, in kennel, stable-yard
or house, whose life was half as hard as Mr. Pecksniff's with hi
gentle child.

The father and daughter were sitting at their breakfast. Ton
had retired, and they were alone. ]\Ir. Pecksniff frowned at first
but having cleared his brow, looked stealthily at his cliild. He
nose was very red indeed, and screwed up tight, with liostil

" Cherry," cried Mr. Pecksniff, " what is amiss between us'
My child, why are we disunited 1 " ;

Miss Pecksniff's answer was scarcely a response to this gus
of affection, for it was simply, " Bother, Pa ! "

" Bother ! " repeated Mr. Pecksniff", in a tone of anguish.

"Oh ! 'tis too late, Pa," said his daughter, calmly, "to talk 1
me like that. I know what it means, and what its value is."

"This is hard ! " cried Mr. Pecksniff, addressing his breakfas
cup. "This is very hard ! She is my cliild. I carried her
my arms, when she wore shapeless worsted shoes — I might sa
mufflers — many years ago ! "'


" Vou needn't tannt me with that, Pa," retorted ('herry, with
spiteful look. "I am not so many years older than my sister,
ther, though she is married to your friend 1 "

'' Ah, human nature, human nature ! Poor human nature ! "'
id Mr. Pecksniff, shaking his head at human nature as if he
dn't belong to it. "To think that this discord sliould arise
om such a cause ! oh dear, oh dear ! "

" From such a cause indeed ! " cried Cherry. " State the real
use, Pa, or I'll state it myself. Mind ! I will ! "

Perhaps the energy with which she said this was infectious,
owever that may be, Mr. Pecksniff changed his tone and the
:pression of his face, for one of anger if not downright violence,
hen he said :

"You will! you have. You did yesterday. You do alway.s.
ou have no decency ; you make no secret of your temper ; you
ive exposed yourself to Mr. Chuzzlewit a hundred times."

"Myself!" cried Cherry, with a bitter smile. "Oh indeed!
don't mind that."

"Me too, then,'' said Mr. Pecksniff.

His daughter answered with a scornful laugh.

" And since we have come to an explanation, Charity," said
T. Pecksniff, rolling his head portentously, "let me tell you that
won't allow it. None of your nonsense. Miss ! I won't permit
to be done."

" I shall do," said Charity, rocking her chair backwards and
rwards, and raising her voice to a high pitch, " I shall do, Pa,
iiat I please and what I have done. I am not going to be
ushed in everything, depend upon it. Fve been more shamefully
:ed tlian anybody ever was in tliis world," here she began to cry
id sob, "and may expect the worst treatment from you, I know,
ut I don't care for that. No I don't ! "

Mr. Pecksniff was made so desperate by the loud tone in wliich
16 spoke, that, after looking about him in frantic uncertainty for
ime means of softening it, he rose and shook her until the
namental bow of hair upon her head nodded like a plume. She
as so very much astonisheil by this assault, that it really had
le desired eflect.

" ril do it again ! " cried Mr. Pecksniff as he resumed his seat,
id fetched his breath, "if you dare to talk in that loud manner,
ow do you mean about being shamefully used 1 If Mr. Jonas
lose your sister in preference to you, who could help it, I should
ish to know "} Wliat have / to do with it 1 "
i "Wasn't I made a convenience of? Weren't my feelings trifled
;ith? Didn't he address himself to me first?" sobbed Cherry,


clasping her hands; "and oh good gracious, that I shoukl live
be shook ! "'

"You'll live to be shaken again," returned her parent, "if j
drive me to that means of maintaining the decorum of this huml
roof. You surprise me. I wonder you have not more spir
If Mr. Jonas didn't care for you, how could j-ou wish to ha
him ? "

" / wish to have him ! " exclaimed Cherry. " / wish to ha
him, Pa I "

" Then what are you making all this piece of work for," retort
her father, " if you didn't wish to have him ? "

"Because I was treated with duplicitj^," said Cherry; " ai
because my owu sister and my owu father conspired against u
I am not angry with her," said Cherry, looking much more ang
than ever. " I pity her. I'm sorry for her. I know the fa
that's in store for her, with that Wretch."

"Mr. Jonas will survive your calling him a wretch, my chil
I dare say," said Mr. Pecksniff, with returning resignation : " b
call him what you like and make an end of it."

" Not au end, Pa," said Charity. " No, not an end. Tha
not the only point on which we're not agreed. I won't submit
it. It's better you should know that, at once. No ; I woi
submit to it indeed, Pa ! I am not quite a fool, and I am i
blind. All I have got to say is, I won't submit to it."

Whatever she meant, she shook Mr. Pecksniff now ; for 1.
lame attempt to seem composed, was melancholy in the last degr!
His anger changed to meekness, and his words were mild a

" My dear," he said ; " if in the short excitement of an an.s
moment I resorted to any unjustifiable means of suppressing
little outbreak calculated to injure you as well as myself —
possible I may have done so ; perhaps I did — I ask your pard
A father asking pardon of his child," said Mr. Pecksniff, "is
believe, a spectacle to soften the most rugged nature."

But it didn't at all soften Miss Pecksniff : perhaps because
nature was not rugged enough. On the contrary, she persisl
in saying, over and over again, that she wasn't quite a fool, 1 1
wasn't blind, and wouldn't submit to it.

"You labour under some mistake, my child !" said Mr. Pe -
sniff : " but I will not ask you what it is ; I don't desire to kn .
No, pray!" he added, holding out his hand and colouring agu,
" let us avoid the subject, my dear, whatever it is ! "

" It's quite right that the subject should be avoided betw.n
us, Sir," said Cherry. "But I wish to be able to avoid it


Itogether, and cousequeiitly must beg you to provide me with a

Mr. Pecksiiift' looked about the room, and .said " A lioiue, my
bild ! "

" Another home, Papa," said Cherry with increasing stateliness.
Phice me at Mrs. Todgers's or somewhere, on an independent
)oting ; but I will not live here, if such is to be the case."

It is possible that j\Iiss Pecksnitt' saw in Mrs. Todgers's a
ision of enthusiastic men, pining to fall, in adoration, at her
;et. It is i»ssible that Mr. Pecksnitf, in his new-born juvenility,
iw in the suggestion of that same establishment, an easy means
f relieving himself from an irksome charge in the way of temper
lid watchfulness. It is undoubtedly a fact that in the attentive
irs of Mr. Pecksnitf, the proposition did not sound quite like the
ismal knell of all his hopes.

But he was a man of great feeling, and acute sensibility ; and
e squeezed his pocket-handkerchief against his eyes with both
ands — as such men always do : especially when they are observed.
One of my birds," Mr. Pecksniff said, "has left me for the
:ranger's breast ; the other would take Aving to Todgers's ! Well,
ell, what am I? I don't know what I am, exactly. Never
lind ! '

Even this remark, made more pathetic perhaps by his breaking
own in the middle of it, had no effect ujton Charity. She was
rim, rigid, and inflexible.

" But I have ever," said ]\Ir. Pecksniff, '' sacrificed my children's
*il)piness to my own — I mean my own happiness to my children's
-and I will not begin to regulate my life by other rules of
linduct now. If you can be happier at Mrs. Todgers's than in
iiur father's house, my dear, go to Mrs. Todgers's ! Do not think
i" me, my girl ! " said ]\Ir. Pecksnitf", with emotion : " I shall get
ii pretty well, no doubt."

I Miss Charity, who knew he had a secret pleasure in the con-
mplation of the proposed change, suppressed her own, and went
Ii to negotiate the terms. His views upon this subject were at
r&t 80 very limited that anotlier difference, involving possibly
jiother shaking, tlireatened to ensue ; but by degrees they came
' something like an understanding, and tlie storm blew over.
*uleed. Miss Charity's idea was so agreeable to both, that it
buld l)ave been strange if they had not come to an amicable
Ireennent. It was soon arranged between them that the i)roject
^ould be tried, and that immediately ; and that Cherry's not
ling well, and needing change of scene, and wishing to be near
|r sister, should form the excuse for her departure, to Mr.


Ohv;zzle\vit and i\Iary, to both of whom she liad pleaded indisiDosi-
tion for some time past. These premises agreed on, Mr. Pecksniti
gave her his blessing, with all the dignity of a self-denying man
who had made a hard sacrifice, but comforted himself with the
reflection that virtue is its own reward. Thus they were reconciled
for the first time since that not easily forgiven night, when Mr.
Jonas, repudiating the elder, had confessed his passion for the
younger sister, and Mr. Pecksniflf had abetted him on moral

But how happened it — in the name of an unexpected additioi
to that small family, the Seven Wonders of the World, whateve:
and wherever they may be, how happened it — that Mr. Pecksuit
and his daughter were about to part? How happened it tha
their mutual relations were so greatly altered ? Why Avas Mis
Pecksniff so clamorous to have it understood that she was neithe
blind nor foolish, and she wouldn't bear if? It is not possibl
that Mr. Pecksniff had any thoughts of marrying again ! or th?
his daughter, with the sharp eye of a single woman, fathome
his design !

Let us inquire into this.

Mr. Pecksniff, as a man without reproach, from Avhuni tb
breath of slander passed like common breath from any oth(
polished surface, could afford to do what common men could no
He knew the purity of his own motives ; and when he had
motive worked at it as only a very good man (or a very bad om
can. Did he set before himself any strong and palpable motivi
for taking a second wife? Yes: and not one or two of ther
but a combination of very niiuiy. ;

Old Martin Chuzzlewit had gradually undergone an importai,
change. Even upon the night when he made sucli an ill-tim(
arrival at Mr. Pecksniff's house, he was comparatively subdu(
and easy to deal with. This Mr. Pecksniff' attributed, at t'
time, to the effect his brother's death had had upon him. B
from that hour his character seemed to have modified by regul
degrees and to have softened down into a dull indifference i
almost every one but Mr. Pecksniff". His looks were much t'
same as ever, but his mind was singularly altered. It was r
that this or that jiassion stood out in brighter or in dimmer hue
but that the colour of the whole man was faded. As one tri'
disappeared, no other trait sprang up to take its place. His seni
dwindled too. He was less keen of sight ; was deaf sometimf
took little notice of what passed before him ; and Avould
l)rofoundly taciturn for days together. The process of this alte'
tion was so easy, that almost as soon as it began to be observ


Welti complete. But 3Ir. Pecksuiff saw it first, and having
ithony Chuzzlewit fresh in his recollection, saw in his brother
irtin the same process of decay.

To a gentleman of Mr. Pecksniff's tenderness, this was a very
lurnful sight. He could not but foresee the probability of his
pected relative being made the victim of designing persons,
1 of his riches falling into worthless hands. It gave him so
ich pain that he resolved to secure the property to himself; to
jp bad testamentary suitors at a distance ; to wall up the old
itleman, as it were, for his own use. By little and little,
;refore, he began to try whether Mr. Chuzzlewit gave any
)nuse of becoming an instrument in his hands ; and finding that
did, and indeed that he was very sujiple in his plastic fingers,
made it the business of his life — kind soul ! — -to establish an
;endancy over him : and every little test he durst apply meeting
th a success beyond his hopes, he began to think he heard old
irtiii's cash already chinking in his own unworldly pockets.
But when Mr. Pecksniff pondered on this subject (as, in his
dous way, he often did), and thought with an uplifted heart of
; train of circumstances which had delivered the old gentleman
his hands for the confusion of evil-doers and the triumph of
righteous nature, he always felt that Mary Graham was his
imbliug-block. Let the old man say what he would, Mr. Peck-
S knew he had a strong aS"ection for her. He knew that he
)wed it in a thousand little ways ; that he liked to have her
ir him, and was never quite at ease when she was absent long.
at he had ever really sworn to leave her nothing in his will,
•. Pecksuift" greatly doubted. That even if he had, therfe were
my ways by which he could evade the oath and satisfy his
iscience, Mr. Pecksniff" knew. That her unprotected state was
light burden on the old man's mind, he also knew, for IMr.
uzzlewit had jjlainly told him so. "Then,' said Mr. Pecksniff'
i'hat if I married her ! What," repeated Mr. Pecksniff", sticking
his hair and glancing at his bust by Spoker : " What if, making
•e of his approval first — he is nearly imbecile, poor gentleman —
narriod her ! "

Mr. Pecksniff" had a lively sense of the Beautiful : especially in
men. His manner towards the sex was remarkable for its
inuating character. It is recorded of him in another part of
?se pages, that he embraced Mrs. Todgers on the smallest pro-
bation : and it was a way he had : it was a part of the gentle
icidity of his disposition. Before any thought of matrimony
s in his mind, he had bestowed on Mary many little tokens of
i spiritual aduuration. They had been indignantly received,


but that was nothing. True, as the idea expanded within him,
these had become too ardent to escape the piercing eye of Clierry,
who read his scheme at once ; but he had always felt the power of
Mary's charms. So Interest and Inclination made a pair, and
drew the curricle of Mr. Pecksniff's plan.

As to any thought of revenging himself on young Martin for
his insolent expressions Avhen they parted, and of shutting him
out still more effectually from any hope of reconciliation with his
grandfather, Mr. Pecksniff was mucli too meek and forgiving to
be suspected of harbouring it. As to being refused by Mary, Mr.
Pecksniff was quite satisfied that in her position she could never
hold out if he and Mr. Chuzzlewit were both against her. As to
consulting the wishes of her heart in such a case, it formed no
part of Mr. Pecksniff"'s moral code ; for he knew what a good man
he was, and what a blessing he must be to anybody. His daughter
having broken the ice, and the murder being out between them,
Mr. Pecksniff had now only to pursue his design as cleverly as he
could, and by the craftiest approaches.

" Well, my good Sir," said Mr. Pecksniff, meeting old Martin
in the garden, for it was his habit to walk in and out by that
way, as the fancy took him: "and how is my dear friend this
delicious morning 1 "

"Do you mean me?" asked the old man.

"Ah!" said Mr. Pecksniff, "one of his deaf days, I see,
Could I mean any one else, my dear Sir ? "

" You might have meant Mary," said the old man.

" Indeed I might. Quite true. I might speak of her as a dear
dear friend, I hope ? " observed Mr. Pecksniff".

"I hope so," returned old Martin. "I think she deserves it."'

" Think ! " cried Pecksniff". " Tliink, Mr. Chuzzlewit ! "

"You are speaking I know," returned Martin, "but I dou'
catch what you say. Speak up ! "

" He's getting deafer than a flint," said Pecksniff". " I wa
saying, my dear Sir, that I am afraid I must make up my mim
to part with Cherry."

"What has she been doing V asked the old man.

" He puts the most ridiculous questions I ever heard ! '' muttere
Mr. Pecksniff. " He's a child to-day." After which he addec
in a mild roar ; " She hasn't been doing anything, my dear friend.

" What are you going to part with her for 1 " demanded Martii

" She hasn't her health by any means," said Mr. Pecksnit
" She misses her sister, my dear Sir ; they doated on each otht
from the cradle. And I think of giving her a run in London fc
a change. A good long run, Sir, if I find she likes it."


" Quite right," cried Martin. " It's judicious."

" I am glad to hear you say so. I hope you mean to bear
i eom])any in tliis dull jjurt, while she's away ? '" said Mv.

"1 have uo intention of removing from it," was Martin's

" Then why," said Mr. Pecksniff, taking the old man's arm in

Online LibraryCharles DickensLife and adventures of Martin Chuzzlewit → online text (page 47 of 80)