Charles Dickens.

Life and adventures of Martin Chuzzlewit online

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ar. There was the rub !

In the meantime the cribbage went on, and IMrs. Todgers went
'; for the youngest gentleman, dropping her society, began to
ke Miss Pecksnitt" to the play. He also began, as Mrs. Todgers
id, to slip home "in his dinner-times," and to get away from
the ofKce " at unholy seasons ; and twice, as he informed Mrs.
)dgers himself, he received anonymous letters, inclosing cards
)m Furniture Warehouses — clearly the act of that ungentlemanly
ffian Jinkins : only he hadn't evidence enough to call him out
•on. All of which, so Mrs. Todgers told Miss Pecksniff, spoke

plain English as the shining sun.

" My dear Miss Pecksnift", you may depend upon it," said Mrs.
>dgers, " that he is burning to propose."
1 "My goodness me, wliy don't he theuT' cried Cherry.


"Men are so much' more timid than we thhik 'em, my clear,
returned Mrs. Todgers. " The^^ baulk themselves continually,
saw the words on Todgers's lips for months and months and month
before he said 'em."

Miss Pecksnitf submitted that Todgers might not have been
fair specimen.

" Oh yes he was. Oh bless you, j^es my dear. I was vei
particular in those days, I assure you," said Islvs. Todgers, bridliuj
" No, no. You give Mr. Moddle a little encouragement, Mii
Pecksnitf, if you wish him to speak ; and he'll speak fast enougl
depend upon it."

" I am sure I don't know what encouragement he would hav
Mrs. Todgers," returned Charity. " He walks with me, and pk^
cards with me, and he comes and sits alone with me."

" Quite right," said Mrs. Todgers. " That's indispensable, u
dear." •■

" And he sits very close to me."

"Also quite correct," said Mrs. Todgers.

"And he looks at me."

" To be sure he does," said Mrs. Todgers.

" And he has his arm upon the back of the chair or sofa,
whatever it is — behind me, yon know."

"/ should think so," said Mrs. Todgers. m |

" And then he begins to cry ! " * ]

Mrs. Todgers admitted that he might do better than thaj
and might undoubtedly profit by the recollection of the great Lo
Nelson's signal at the battle of Trafalgar. iStill, she said,
Avould come round, or, not to mince the matter, would be broug
round, if Miss Pecksniif took up a decided position, and plaii
showed him that it must be done.

Determining to regulate her conduct by this opinion, the you
lady received Mr. Moddle, on the earliest subsequent occasi'
\yith an air of constraint ; and gradually leading him to inquire,
a dejected manner, why she was so changed, confessed to hiin tl
she felt it necessary for their mutual peace and happiness to t;i
a decided step. They had been much together lately, she observ(
much together, and had tasted the sweets of a genuine reciproc
of sentiment. She never could forget him, nor could she c
cease to think of him with feelings of the liveliest friendship; 1
people had begun to talk, the thing had been observed ; and it v
necessary that they should be nothing more to each other, tl
any gentleman and lady in society usually are. She was glad f
had had the resolution to say thus much before her feelings 1
been tried too far ; they had been greatly tried, she would adm



but though she was weak and silly, she would soon get the ]jett(
of it, she hoped.

Moddle, who had by this time Ijecome in the last degre.
maudlin, and who w^ept abundantly, inferred from the foregoir
avowal, that it was his mission to communicate to others tl
blight which had fallen on himself; and that, being a kind <
unintentional Vampire, he had had Miss Pecksniff assigned to hii
by the Fates, as Victim Number One. Miss Pecksniff controver
ing this opinion as sinful, Moddle was goaded on to ask whethi
she could be contented with a blighted heart ; and it appearing c
further examination that she could be, jilighted his dismal trot
which w^as accepted and returned.

He bore his good fortune with the utmost moderation. Inste;
of being triumphant, he shed more tears than he had ever be(
known to shed before : and, sobbing, said :

" Oh, what a day this has been ! I can't go back to the offi
this afternoon. Oh, what a trying day this has been, Go^
Gracious ! "




Fro3I Mr. Moddle to Eden is au easy and natural transitin
Mr. Moddle, living in the atmosphere of Miss Pecksniff's love, dw(
(if he had but known it) in a terrestrial Paradise. The thriving city
Eden was also a terrestrial Paradise, upon the showing of its pi
prietors. Tiie beautiful Miss Pecksniff might have been poetical
described as a something too good for man in his fallen and degrad
state. That was exactly the character of the thriving city of Eden,
poetically heightened by Zephaniah .Scadder, General Clioke, andotl!
worthies : part and parcel of the talons of that great American Eag
which is always airing itself sky-high in purest aether, and nevi
no never, never, tumbles down, with draggled wings, into the mv

When Mark Tapley, leaving Martin in the architectural a
surveying offices, had efl'ectually strengthened and encouraged 1
own spirits by the contemplation of their joint misfortunes,
proceeded, with new cheerfulness, in search of help : congratul
ing himself, as he went along, on the enviable position to whi
he had at last attained.

"I used to think, sometimes," said Mr. Tapley, "as a desoL,
island would suit me, but I should only liave had myself to provi


there, and being naterally a easy man to manage, tliere wouldn't
^•e been much credit in that. Now here I've got my partner to
:e care on, and he's something like the sort of man for the
rpose. I want a man as is ahvays a sliding otf his logs when he
;;ht to be on 'em. I want a man as is so low down in the
lool of life, tiiat he's ahvays a making figures of one in his copy-
)k, and can't get no further. I want a man as is his own great-
it and cloak, and is always a wrapping himself up in himself.
d I have got him too," said Mr. Tapley, after a moment's
;uce. " What a happiness ! "

He paused to look round, uncertain to which of the log-houses

should repair.

" I don't know which to take," he observed ; " that's the truth,
ey're equally prepossessing outside, and equally commodious, no
abt, within ; being fitted up with every convenience that a
ligator, in a state of natur', could possibly require. Let me see !
e citizen as turned out last night, lives under water, in the right-
iid dog-kennel at the corner. I don't want to trouble him if I
1 help it, poor man, for he is a melancholy object : a reg'lar
ttler in every respect. There's a house with a winder, but I'm
aid of their Ijeing proud. I don't know whether a door ain't
» aristocratic ; but here goes for the first one ! "

He went up to the nearest cabin, and knocked witli his hand,
ing desired to enter, he complied.

" Neighbour," said ]\Iark ; " for I am a neighbour, though you

ii't know me ; I've come a-begging. Hallo ! hal — lo ! Am

L-bei], and dreaming ! "

He made this exclamation on hearing his own name pronounced,
I finding himself clasped about the skirts by two little boys,
lose faces he had often washed, and whose suppers he had often
)ked, on board of that noble, and fast-sailing line-of-packct ship,
; Screw.

"My eyes is wrong!" said Mark. "I don't l)eli('ve 'cm.
at ain't my fellow-passenger yonder, a nursing her little girl,
10, I am sorry to see, is so delicate ; and that ain't her husliand
come to New York to fetch her. Nor these," he addetl, looking
rt'n upon the boys, " ain't them two young shavers as was so
iiiliar to me; though they are uncommon like 'em. That I
ist confess."

The woman shed tears, in very joy to see him; the man shook
th his hands, and would not let them go ; the two boys luiggrd
1 legs ; the sick child, in the mother's arms, stretched out lier
rning little fingers, and muttered, in her hoarse, dry throat, his
ll-remembered name.



It was the same fomily, sure enough. Altered by the sahibrious
■ of Eden. But the same.

"This is a new sort of a morning call,"" said Mark, drawing
long breath. " It strikes one all of a heap. Wait a little bit !
n a coming round, fast. That'll do ! These gentlemen ain't my
ends. Are they on the wisiting list of the house ? "

The inquiry referred to certain gaunt pigs, who liad walked in
;er him, and were much interested in the heels of tlie family,
i they did not belong to the mansion, they were expelled by the
little boys.

"I ain't superstitious about toads," said Mark, looking round
e room, " but if you could prevail upon the two or three I see

company, to step out at the same time, my young friends, I
ink they'd find the ojien air refreshing. Not that I at all object

'em. A very handsome animal is a toad," said Mr. Tapley,
ting down upon a stool : " very spotted ; very like a partickler
rle of old gentleman about the throat ; very bright-eyed, very
ol, and very slippy. But one sees 'em to the best advantage
t of doors perhaps."

While pretending, with such talk as this, to be perfectly at his
se, and to be the most iuditferent and careless of men, ]\Iark
ipley had an eye on all around him. The wan and meagre
pect of the family, the changed looks of the poor mother, the
rered child she held in her lap, the air of great despondency and
tie hope on everything, were jilain to him, and made a deep
ipression on his mind. He .saw it all as clearly and as quickly,

with his bodily eyes he saw the rough shelves supi)orted by
gs driven between the logs, of which the house was made ; the
lur-cask in the corner, serving also for a table ; tlie blankets,
ades, and other articles against the walls ; the damp that blotched
e ground ; or the crop of vegetable rottenness in every crevice
the hut.

" How is it that you have come here ] " asked tlie man, when
eir first expressions of surprise were over.

"Why, we come by the steamer last night," replied IMark.
Our intention is to make our fortuns with punctuality and
spatch ; and to retire upon our property as soon as ever it's
alised. But how are you all 1 You're looking noble ! "

" We are but si(;kly now," said the poor woman, bending over
T child. " But we shall do better when we are seasoned to
e place."

"There are some here,' thought ^lark, " wliose seasoning will
st for ever."

But he said cheerfully, "Do better! To be sure you will.


We shall all do better. What we've got to do, is, to keep u
our spirits, aud be neighbourly. We shall come all right in tb
end, never fear. That reminds me, by the bye, that my partner-
all wrong at present ; and that I looked in, to beg for liin
I wish you'd come, and give me your opinion of him, master."

That nuist have been a very unreasonable request on the pai
of Mark Tapley, with Avhich, in their gratitude for his kind office
on board the ship, they would not have complied instantly. Th
man rose to accompany him without a moment's delay. Befoi'
they went, Mark took the sick child in his arms, and tried t
comfort the mother ; but the hand of death was on it thai:
he saw. I

They found Martin in the house, lying wrapped up in h'
blanket on the ground. He was, to all appearance, very ill indeei
and shook and shivered horribly : not as people do from cold, bi
in a frightful kind of spasm or convulsion, that racked his who
body. Mark's friend pronounced his disease an aggravated kin
of fever, accompanied with ague ; which was very common i
tliose parts, and which he predicted would be worse to-morroA
and for many more to-morrows. He had had it himself oft' ai
on, he said, for a couple of years or so ; but he was thankful tha
wliile so many he had known had died about him, he had escap
with life.

" And with not too much of that," thouglit j\Iark, surveyii
his emaciated form. " Eden for ever ! "

They had some medicine in their chest ; and this man of p;
experience showed Mark how and when to administer it, and ho
he could best alleviate the sufferings of Martin. His attentio
did not stop there ; for he was backwards and forwards constant!
and rendered Mark good service in all his brisk attempts to ma
tlieir situation more endurable. Hope or comfort for the futii
he could not bestow. The season was a sickly one ; tlie sett
ment a grave. His child died that night ; aud Mark, keeping t
secret from Martin, helped to bury it, l)eneath a tree, next day.

With all his various duties of attendance upon Martin (w,
became the more exacting in his claims, the worse he grew), Ma
worked out of doors, early and late ; and with the assistance
his friend and others, laboured to do something witli their lar'
Not that he had the least strength of heart or hope, or steal
purpose in so doing, beyond the habitual cheerfulness of 1|
disposition, and his amazing power of self-sustainment ; for witl'
himself, he looked on their condition as beyond all hope, and,,!
his own words, "came out strong" in consequence. ;

" As to coming out as strong as I could wish, Sir," he confided?


•tin in a leisure moment ; tliat is to say, one eveninf,^ while he
wasiiing the linen of the establishment, after a hard clay's

k, " that I give up. It's a piece of good fortune as never is to

pen to me, I see ! "

'Would you -wish for circumstances stronger than these?"

■tin retorted with a groan, from underueatli his blanket.

'Why, only see how easy they might have been stronger, Sir,"
Mark, " if it wasn't for the envy of that uncommon fortun of

e, which is always after me, and tripping mc up. The night

landed here, I thought things did look pretty jolly. I won't

Y it. I thought they did look pretty jollj-."
' How do they look noAv '?" groaned Martin.

'Ah!" said Mark, "Ah to be sure. That's the question.

V do they look now ! On the very first morning of my going
what do I do? Stumble on a family I know, who are

itantly assisting of us in all sorts of ways, from that time to
! That won't do, you know : that ain't what I'd a right to
?ct. If I had stumbled on a serpent, and got bit ; or stumbled
I first-rate patriot, and got bowie-knifed ; or stumbled on a lot
sympathizers with inverted shirt-collars, and got made a lion

I might have distinguished myself, and earned some credit,
it is, the great object of my voyage is knocked on the head,
it would be, wherever I went. How do you feel to-niL:lit,

' Worse than ever," said poor Martin.

' That's something," returned Mark, " but not enough.

hing hut being very bad myself, and jolly to the last, will ever

ne justice."

'In Heaven's name, don't talk of that," said Martin, with a

II of terror. " What should I do, Mark, if you were taken ill !
Mr. Tapley's spirits appeared to Ite stimulated by this remark,
ough it was not a very flattering one. He proceeded witii his
hing in a brighter mood; and obsei-ved "that his glass was

'Tiiere's one good thing in this place, Sir," said Mr. Tapley,
ibbing away at the linen, " as me to be jolly ; and
; is, that it's a reg'lar little United States in itself. There's
or three American settlers left ; and they coolly comes over
even here, Sir, as if it was the whole.somcst and loveliest spot
he world. But they're like the cock that went and hid Idmself
Vive his life, and was found out by the noise he made. They
t help crowing. They was born to do it ; and do it they must,
itever comes of it."
Klancing from his work, out at the door, as he said these words,


Mark's eyes encountered a lean person in a blue frock and a stra'
hat, with a short black pipe in his rnoutli, and a great hickor
stick, studded all over with knots, in his hand ; who, smoking an
chewing as he came along, and spitting frequently, recorded h
progress by a train of decomposed tobacco on the ground.

"Here's one on 'em," cried Mark, "Hannibal Chollop."

"Don't let him in," said Martin, feebly,

" He won't want any letting in," replied Mark. " He'll com
in. Sir." Which turned out to be quite true, for he did. H
face was almost as hard and knobby as his stick ; and so were Ir
hands. His head was like an old black hearth-broom. He Sf
down on the chest with his hat on ; and crossing his legs au
looking up at Mark, said, without removing his pipe :

"Well, Mr. Co ! and how do you gifc along, Sir?"

It may be necessary to observe that Mr. Tapley had gravel
introduced himself to all strangers, by that name.

"Pretty well. Sir; pretty well," said Mark.

" If this ain't Mr. Chuzzlewit, ain't it ! " exclaimed the visito
"How do you git along, Sir?"

Martin shook his head, and drew the blanket over it involiv
tarily ; for he felt that Hannibal was going to spit ; and his ey
as the song says, was upon him.

" You need not regard me, Sir," observed Mr. Chollop, cor
jDlacently. " I am fever-proof, and likewise agur."

" Mine was a more selfish motive," said Martin, looking c
again. "I was afraid you were going to "

"I can calc'late my distance, Sir," returned Mr. Cholloji, "
an inch."

With a proof of which happy foculty he immediately favoun

" I re-cpiire. Sir," said Hannibal, " two foot clear in a circ'l
di-rection, and can engage my-self toe keep within it. I have go
ten foot, in a circ'lar di-rection, but that was for a w^ager,"

" I hope you won it. Sir," said Mark.

"Well, Sir, I realised the stakes," said Cholloix "Yes, Sir.

He was silent for a time, during which he was actively engag
in the formation of a magic circle round the chest on which he s;'
When it was completed, he began to talk again.

" How do you like our country, Sir % " he inquired, looking

" Not at all," was the invalid's reply.

Chollop continued to smoke without the least appearance j
emotion, until he felt disposed to speak again. That time |
length arriving, he took his pipe from his mouth, and said : i


■'lam not surprised to hear you say so. It re-quires An

■ation, and A preparation of the intellect. The mind oi" man

it be prepared for Freedom, INIr. Co."

He addressed himself to I\Iark : because he saw that Martin,

) wished him to go, being already half-mad with feverish

;ation which the droning voice of this new horror rendered

ost insupportable, had closed his eyes, and turned on his

nsy bed.

'A little bodily preparation wouldn't be amiss, either, would

ir," said Mark, "in the case of a blessed old swamp like this?"

' Do you con-sider this a swamp, Sir 1 "' inquired Chollop


'Why j'es. Sir," returned Mark. "I haven't a doubt about

nyself "

'The sentiment is quite Europian,'' said the Major, "and does

sm-prise me : what would your English millions say to such a
mp in England, Sir ? "
' They'd say it was an uncommon nasty one, I should think,"

Mark; "and that they would rather be inoculated for fever
ome other way."

' Europian ! " remarked Chollop, with sardonic pity. " Quite
opian ! "

A.nd there he sat. Silent and cool, as if the house were his ;
king away like a factory chimney.

Mr. Chollop was, of course, one of the most remarkable men in
country ; but he really was a notorious person besides. He

usually described by his friends, in the South and West, as
splendid sample of our na-tive raw material. Sir," and was
•h esteemed for his devotion to rational Liberty ; for the better
lagatiou whereof he usually carried a brace of revolving-pistols
lis coat pocket, with seven barrels apiece. He also carried,
mgst other trinkets, a sword-stick, which he called his
ickler;" and a great knife, which (for he was a man of a
isant turn of humour) he called " Ripper," in allusion to its
'ulness as a means of ventilating the stomach of any adversary

close contest. He had used these weapons with distinguished
:'t in several instances, all duly chronicled in the newspapers ;

was greatly beloved for the gallant manner in which he had
l)bed out" the eye of one gentleman, as he was in the act <>f
i-king at his own street-door.
Mr. Chollop was a man of a roving disposition ; and, in any

advanced community, might have Ijcen nnstaken for a violent
■xbond. But his fine qualities being perfectly understood and
beciated in those redons where his lot was cast, ami where he


had many kindred spirits to consort with, he may be regarded
having been born under a fortunate star, which is not always 1
case with a man so much before the age in which he liv
Preferring, with a view to the gratification of his tickling c.
ripping fancies, to dwell upon tlie outskirts of society, and in 1
more remote towns and cities, he was in the habit of eraigrat:
from place to place, and establishing in each some business — usua
a newspaper — which he presently sold : for the most part clos:
the bargain by challenging, stabbing, pistolling, or gouging, ■
new editor, before he had quite taken possession of the propertj

He had come to Eden on a speculation of this kind, but 1
abandoned it, and was about to leave. He always introdm
himself to strangers as a worshipper of Freedom ; was
consistent advocate of Lynch law, and slavery ; and invaria
recommended, both in print and speech, the " tarring ;
feathering " of any unpopular person who differed from liims
He called this " planting the standard of civilisation in the wil
gardens of My country."

There is little doubt that Chollop would have planted i;
standard in Eden at Mark's expense, in return for his plainnes'
speech (for the genuine Freedom is dumb, save v.'hen she vai
herself), but for the utter desolation and decay prevailing in
settlement, and his own approaching departure from it. A
was, he contented himself with showing Mark one of the revolv
pistols, and asking him what he thought of that weapon.

" It ain't long since I shot a man down with that, Sir, ui
State of IWinoi/," observed Chollop.

" Did yon, indeed ! " said Mark, without the smallest agitat
" Very free of you. And very independent ! "

"I shot him down. Sir," pursued Chollop, "for asserting iD(i
Spartan Portico, a tri-weekly journal, that the ancient Athenii
went a-head of the present Locofoco Ticket."

" And what's that 1 " asked Mark.

" Europian not to know," said Chollop, smoking plac V
" Europian quite ! "

After a short devotion to the interests of the magic circld'
resumed the conversation by observing :

"You won't half feel yoiu-self at home in Eden, now?" '

"No," said Mark, "I don't."

" You miss the imposts of your country. You miss tlie 1 s<
dues?" observed Chollop.

" And the houses — rather," said Mark.

"No window dues here. Sir," observed Chollop. ,

"And no windows to put 'em on," said Mark.


" No stakes, no dungeons, no blocks, no racks, no scaftblds, no
imbserews, no pikes, no pilluries," saitl Chollop.
"Xotliing but rewohvers and bowie-knives," returned IMark.
md what are tliey ? Not wortli mentioning ! ''
Tiie man who liad met tlieni on the night of their arrival came
wling up at this juncture, and looked in at the doi)r.
''Well, Sir!'' said Chollop. "How do yon git along?"'
He had considerable difficulty in getting along at all, and said
mucii in reply.

'*Mr. Co. And me, Sir," observed Chollop, "arc disputating a
ce. He ought to be slicked up pretty smart, to disputate
ween the Old World and the New, I do expect ? "
"Well ! " returned the miserable shadow. " So he had."
"I w;vs merely observing. Sir,'' said Mark, addressing his new
itor, " that I looked upon the city in which we have the honour
live, a.s being swampy. What's your sentiments 1 "
" I opinionate it's moist, i)erhaps, at certain times," returned

"But not as moist as England, Sir?" cried Chollop, with a
ce expression in his foce.

" Oh ! Not as moist as England ; let alone its Institutions,"
I tiie man.

" I should hope there ain't a swamp in all Americay, as don't
ip that small island into mush and molasses," observed Chollop,
isively. "You bought slick, straight, and right away, of
.dder. Sir?" to Mark.

He answered in the aflBrmative. Mr. Chollop winked at the
er citizen.

" Scadder is a smart man. Sir ? He is a rising man ? He is
nan as will come up'ards, right side up. Sir?" .Mr. Cholloj)
iked again at the other citizen.

" He should have his right side very high up, if I had my way,"
1 Mark. "As high up as the top of a good tall gallows,

Mr. Chollop was so delighted at the smartness of his excellent

Online LibraryCharles DickensLife and adventures of Martin Chuzzlewit → online text (page 51 of 80)