Charles Dickens.

Life and adventures of Martin Chuzzlewit online

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" Will you hold your tongue ? " said Jonas, looking fien
round, and glancing at the door.

" Well, well ! " said Montague. " Judicious ! Quite corre
My discoveries being published, would be like many other m(
discoveries in this honest world ; of no further use to me. 1
see, Chuzzlewit, how ingenuous and frank I am in showing you
weakness of my own position ! To return. I make, or thinl
make, a certain discovery, which I take an early opportunitj
mentioning in yoiu* ear, in that spirit of confidence which I re;
hoped did prevail between us, and was reciprocated by y
Perhaps there is something in it ; perhaps there is nothing,
have my knowledge and opinion on the subject. You have yoi
We will not discuss the cjuestion. But, my good fellow, you h
been weak ; what I wish to point out to you is, that you h
been weak. I may desire to turn this little incident to my aceo
(indeed I do — I'll not deny it), but my account does not lie
probing it, or using it against you."

" What do you call using it against me '? " asked Jonas, '
had not yet changed his attitude.

" Oh ! " said Montague, with a laugli. " We'll not enter

" Using it, to make a beggar of me. Is that the use
mean 1 "

" No."

"Ecod," muttered Jonas, bitterly. "That's the use in w
your account does lie. You speak the truth there."

" I wish you to venture (it's a very safe venture) a little i
with us, certainly, and to keep quiet," said Montague. ''
promised me you would ; and you must. I say it pla •
Chuzzlewit, you must. Reason the matter. If you don't, ;
secret is worthless to me ; and being so, it may as well become i
public property as mine : better, for I shall gain some cr t
bringing it to light. I want you, besides, to act as a decoy i
case I have already told you of. You clon't mind that, I k «v
You care nothing for the man (you care nothing for any man ; ,"
are too sharp ; so am I, I hope) ; and could bear any loss o: i
with pious fortitude. Ha, ha, ha ! You have tried to escape n
the first conseciuence. You cannot escape it, I assure you ^
have shown you that to-day. Now, I am not a moral man, Ji
know. I am not the least in the world affected by anything ^i
may have done ; by any little indiscretion you may have '>
mitted ; but I wish to profit by it, if I can ; and to a man of ^


ligeuce I make that free confession. I am not at all singular
lat infirmity. Every body_jjmfits_by tlie-iiulisci'etion of his
ibour ; and the peopIeTn the best repute, the most. Why do
^ive me this trouble f ~ If must come to a friendly agreement,
11 unfriendly crash. It must. If the former, you are very

hurt. If the latter — well ! you know best what is likely to
eu then."'

onas left the window, and walked up close to him. He did
ook him in the face ; it M'as not his habit to do that ; but he

his eyes towards him — on his breast, or thereabouts— and
at great pains to speak slowly and distinctly, in reply. Just
man in a state of conscious drunkenness might be.
Lying is of no use, now," he said. " I did think of getting
' this morning, and making better terms with you from a

To be sure ! To be sure ! " replied Montague. " Nothing
■ natural. I foresaw that, and provided against it. But I am
d I am interrupting you."

How the devil," pursued Jonas, with a still greater effort,
1 made choice of your messenger, and where you found him,
lot ask you. I owed him one good turn before to-day. If
are so careless of men in general, as you said you were just

you are quite indifierent to what becomes of such a crop-
d cur as that, and will leave me to settle my account with
in my own manner."
f he had raised his eyes to his companion's face, he would have

that Montague was evidently unable to comprehend his
uiiig. But continuing to stand before him, with his furtive

directed as before, and pausing here, only to moisten his dry
with his tongue, the fact was lost upon him. It might have
ck a close observer that this fixed and steady glance of
is's was a part of the alteration which had taken place in his
eanour. He kept it rivetted on one spot, with which his
ights had manifestly nothing to do ; like as a juggler walking
I cord or wire to any dangerous end, holds some object in his
t to steady him, an<l never wanders from it, lest he trip.
Montague was quick in his rejoinder, though he made it at a
ture. There was no difference of opinion between him and his
id on that point. Not the least.

' Your great discovery," Jonas proceeded, with a savage sneer
: got the better of him for the moment, " may be true, and may
alse. Whichever it is, I dare say I'm no worse than other men."
" Not a bit," .said Tigg. " Not a bit. We're all alike — or
rly so."


" I want to know this," Jonas went on to say ; " is it your
own ? You'll not wonder at my asking the question."

" My own ! " repeated Montague.

"Ay !" returned the other, gruffly. "Is it known to anybody
else ? Come ! Don't waver about that."

" No ! " said Montague, without the smallest hesitation.
" What would it be worth, do you think, unless I had the keeping
of it 1 "

Now, for the first time, Jonas looked at him. After a pause,
he put out his hand, and said, with a laugh :

" Come ! make things easy to me, and I'm yours. I don't know
that I may not be better off here, after all, than if I liad gone
away this morning. But here I am, and here I'll stay now.
Take your oath ! "

He cleared his throat, for he was speaking hoarsely, and said in
a lighter tone ;

" Shall I go to Pecksniff? When ? Say when ! "

" Immediately ! " cried Montague. " He cannot be enticed too

" Ecod ! " cried Jonas, with a wild laugh. " There's some fun
in catching that old hypocrite. I hate him. Shall I go to-night?"

"Ay! This," said Montague, ecstatically, "is like business!
We understand each other now ! To-night, my good fellow, by all

" Come with me ! " cried Jonas. "We must make a dash : go
down in state, and carry documents, for he's a deep one to deal
with, and must be drawn on with an artful hand, or he'll not
follow. I know him. As I can't take your lodgings or your
dinners down, I must take you. Will you come to-night 1 "

His friend appeared to hesitate ; and neither to have anticipated
this proposal, nor to relish it very much.

"We can concert our plans upon the road," said Jonas. "We
must not go direct to him, but cross over from some other place,
and turn out of our way to see him. I may not want to introduce
you, but I must have you on the spot. I know the man, I tell

" But, what if the man knows me 1 " said Montague, shrugging
his shoulders.

'' "He know ! " cried Jonas. " Don't you run that risk with fifty
men a day! Would your father know you? Did / know you?
Ecod, you were another figure when I saw you first. Ha, ha, ha!
I see the rents and patches now ! No false hair then, no black
dye! You were another sort of joker in those days, you were!
You even spoke dift'erent, then. You've acted the gentleniau 80


y since, that you've taken in yourself. If he should know

lat does it matter 1 Such a change is a proof of your success.

low that, or you would not have made yourself known to

nil you come ? "

f good follow," said Montague, still hesitating, " I can trust


ust me ! Ecod, you may trust me now far enough. I'll

;o away no more— no more ! " He stopped, and added in

sober tone, " I can't get on without you. Will you come 1 "

B'ill," said Montague, "if that's your opinion." And they

lands upon it.

boisterous manner which Jonas had exhibited during the
)art of this conversation, and which had gone on rapidly
ng with almost every word he had spoken ; from the
\en he looked his honourable friend in the face until now ;
I now subside, but, remaining at its height, abided by him.
iiusual with him at any period ; most inconsistent with his

an<i constitution ; especially unnatural it would appear in
darkly circumstanced ; it abided by him. It was not like
set of wine, or any ardent drink, for he was perfectly
t. It even made him proof against the usual influence of
cans of excitement ; for, although he drank deeply several
,hat day, with no reserve or caution, he remained exactly
le man, and his spirits neither rose nor fell in the least
ble degree.

kling, after some discussion, to travel at night, in order
le day's business might not be broken in upon, they took

together in reference to the means. Mr. Montague being
ion that four horses were advisable, at all events for the
ige, as throwing a great deal of dust into people's eyes, in
enses than one, a travelling chariot and four lay under
for nine o'clock. Jonas did not go home : observing, that
ng obliged to leave town on business in so great a hurry,
be a good excuse for having turned back so unexpectedly in
irning. So he wrote a note for his portmanteau, and sent
I messenger, wlio duly brought his luggage back, with a
lote from tliat other piece of luggage, his wife, expressive
wish to be allowed to come and see him for a moment.
i request he sent for answer, " she had better ; " and one
hreatening affirmative being sufficient, in defiance of the
1 grammar, to express a negative, she kept away.

Montague, being much engaged in the course of the day,
bestowed his spirits chiefly on the doctor, Avith whom ho
1 in the medical officer's own room. On his way thither,


encountering Mr. Nadgett in the outer office, he bantered 1
stealthy gentleman on always appearing anxious to avoid 1
and inquired if he were afraid of him. Mr. Nadgett si
answered, " No, but he believed it must be his way, as he
been charged with much the same kind of thing before."

Mr. Montague was listening to, or, to speak with gre;
elegance, he overheard this dialogue. As soon as Jonas
gone, he beckoned Nadgett to him with tlie feather of his ]
and whispered in his ear,

" Who gave him my letter this morning 1 "

" My lodger. Sir," said Nadgett, behind the palm of his hai;

"How came that about 1"

" I found him on the wharf, Sir. Being so much hurried,
you not arrived, it was necessary to do something. It fortuna
occurred to me, that if I gave it him myself, I could be of
further use. I should have been blown upon immediately."

"Mr. Nadgett, you are a jewel," said Montague, patting!
on the back. " What's your lodger's name ? "

" Pinch, Sir. Mr. Thomas Pinch."

Montague reflected for a little while, and then asked :

"From the country, do you know?"

" From Wiltshire, Sir, he told me."

They parted witliout another word. To see Mr. Nadgi
bow when Montague and he next met, and to see Mr. Mont;
acknowledge it, anybody might have undertaken to swear
they had never spoken to each other confidentially, in all t

In the meanwhile, Mr. Jonas and the doctor made themst
very comfortable up stairs, over a bottle of the old Madeira,
some sandwiches ; for the doctor having been already invite
dine below at six o'clock, preferred a light repast for lunch. I
was advisable, he said, in, two points of view : First, as 1
healthy in itself. Secondly, as being the better preparatioi

" And you are bound for all our sakes to take particular J
of your digestion, Mr. Chuzzlewit, my dear Sir," said the doiH
smacking his lips after a glass of wine ; " for depend upon _i
is worth preserving. It must be in admirable condition, •'
perfect chronometer-work. Otherwise your spirits could n( l-i
so remarkable. Your bosom's lord sits lightly on its throne.!'
Chuzzlewit, as what's-his-name says in the play. I wish he ^i'
it in a play which did anything like common justice to oui ™
fession, by-the-bye. There is an apothecary in that drama"
which is a low tiling ; vulgar, Sir ; out of nature altogether.",


[r. Jobling pulled out his shirt-frill of fine linen, as though he
il have added, " This is what I call nature in a medical man,
" and looked at Jonas for an observation,
onas not being in a condition to pursue the subject, took up a
of lancets that was lying on the table, and opened it.
Ah ! " said the doctor, leaning back in his chair, " I alwaj-s
'em out of my pocket before I oat. ]My pockets are rather
. Ha, ha, ha i "

Dna.s had opened one of the i^hining little instruments ; and
scrutinising it with a look as sharp and eager as its own
it edge.

Good steel, doctor. Good steel ! Eh ? "
Ye-es," replied the doctor, with the faltering modesty of
rship. " One might open a vein pretty dexterously with that,

It has opened a good many in its time, I suppose?" said
s, looking at it with a growing interest.
Not a few, my dear Sir, not a few. It has been engaged in
1 a pretty good practice, I believe I may say," replied the
»r, coughing as if the matter-of-fact were so very dry and
il that he couldn't help it. "In a pretty good practice,"
ited the doctor, putting another glass of wine to his lips.
Now, could you cut a man's throat witli such a thing as
" demanded Jonas.

Oh certainly, certainly, if you took him in the right place,"
ned the doctor. " It all depends upon that."
Wiiere you have your hand now, hey 1 " cried Jonas, bending
ird to look at it.

Yes," said the doctor ; " that's the jugular."
ona.s, in his vivacity, made a sudden sawing in the air, so
behind the doctor's jugular, that he turned quite red. Then
s (in the same strange spirit of vivacity) burst into a loud
rdant laugh.

No, no," said the doctor, shaking his head: "edge-tools,
-tools; never play with 'em. A very reniarkable instance
le skilful use of edge-tools, by the way, occurs to me at this
ent. It was a case of murder. I am afraid it was a of
ucr, committed by a member of our profession ; it was so
■ ically done."

Ay ! " said Jonas. " How was that 1 "
Why, Sir," returned Jobling, "the thing lies in a Mut-slicll.
tain gentleman was found, one morning, in an obscure street,
ing upright in an angle of a doorway — I should rather .say,
ig, in an upright position, in the angle of a doorway, and


supported consequently hy the doorway. Upon his waistc
there was one solitary drop of blood. He was dead, and co
and had been murdered, Sir."

" Only one drop of blood ! " said Jonas.

" Sir, that man," replied the doctor, " had been stabbed to
heart. Had been stabbed to the heart with such dexterity,
that he had died instantly, and had bled internally. It ■
supposed that a medical friend of his (to whom suspicion attacl
had engaged him in conversation on some pretence ; had ta
him, very likely, by the button in a conversational manner ;
examined his ground, at leisure, with his other hand ; had mar
the exact spot ; drawn out the instrument, whatever it was, y}\
he was quite prej^ared ; and " !

"And done the trick," suggested Jonas.

" Exactly so," replied the doctor. " It was quite an opera
it its way, and very neat. The medical friend never turned
and, as I tell you, he had the credit of it. Whether he did i
not, I can't say. But having had the honour to be called in '
two or three of my professional brethren on the occasion,
having assisted to make a careful examination of the wouii
have no hesitation in saying that it would have reflected ci
on any medical man ; and that in an unprofessional perso;
could not but be considered, either as an extraordinary woi
art, or the result of a still more extraordinary, happy, and fa\
able conjunction of circumstances."

His hearer was so much interested in this case, that the di c
went on to elucidate it with the assistance of his own finger .n
thumb and waistcoat ; and at Jonas's request, he took the fui e
trouble of standing up in one corner of the room, and altera; 1
representing the murdered man and the murderer; which hi 'i
with great effect. The bottle being emptied and the story I'e
Jonas was in precisely the same boisterous and unusual sta a
when they had sat down. If, as Jobling theorised, his >
digestion were the cause, he must have been a very ostrich.

At dinner, it was just the same ; and after dinner too ; th ?1
wine was drunk in abundance, and various rich meats eaten. A
nine o'clock it was still the same. There being a lamp iiji'
carriage, he swore they would take a pack of cards, and a Ul
of wine: and with these things under his cloak, went dow;t'
the door.

" Out of the way, Tom Thumb, and get to bed ! "

This was the salutation he bestowed on Mr. Bailey, who, b ^
and wrapped up, stood at the carriage-door to help him in.

" To bed. Sir ! I'm a going, too," said Bailey.


I alighted quickly, and walked back into the hall, where

igne was lighting a cigar : conducting Mr. Bailey with him,

; collar.

l'ou are not a going to take tliis monkey of a boy, are youT'

fes,'" said Montague, " I am."'

! gave the boy a shake, and threw him roughly aside. There

iiore of his taniiliar self in the action, than in anything he

lone that day ; but he broke out laughing immediately

ards ; and making a thrust at the doctor with his hand in

ion of his representation of the medical friend, went out to

irriage again, and took his seat. His comjianion followed

liately. Mr. Bailey climbed into the rumble.

t will be a stormy night ! " exclaimed the doctor, as they




IE doctor's prognostication in reference to the weather was
ily verified. Althougli the weather was not a patient of his,
10 third party had required him to give an opinion on the
the quick fulfilment of his prophecy may be taken as an
ice of his professional tact ; for, unless tlie threatening aspect
e uiglit had been perfectly plain and unmistakeable, Mr.
ig would never have compromised his reputation by deliver-
ny sentiments on tlie subject. He used this priucijjle in
:ine with too nuich success, to be unmindful of it in his
onest transactions.

was one of those hot, silent nights, when people sit at
»W8, listening for tiie thunder which they know will shortly

; when they recall dismal tales of hurricanes and earth-
's; and of lonely travellers on open plains, and lonely sliips
I struck by lightning. Liglitning flashed and (juivered on
jlack horizon even now ; and lioUow inui murings were in
vind, as though it had been blowing where the thunder
, and still was charged with its exhausted echoes. But the
, thougli gathering swiftly, had not yet come up ; and the
iUng stillness was the more solemn, from the dull intelligence
ieemed to hover in the air, of noise and coniiict afar off.

was very dark ; but in the murky sky there were masses of


cloud which shone with a lurid light, like monstrous heaps of cop
that had been heated in a furnace, and were growing cold. Tli
had been advancing steadily and slowly, but they were now moti
less, or nearly so ; and as the carriage clattered round the cort
of the streets, it passed, at every one, a knot of persons, who 1
come there — many from their houses close at hand, without hats-
look up at tliat quarter of the sky. And now a very few la
drops of rain began to fall, and thunder rumbled in the distanci

Jonas sat in a corner of the carriage, with his bottle resting
his knee, and gripped as tightly in his hand, as if he would h;
ground its neck to powder if he could. Instinctively attracted
the night, he had laid aside the pack of cards upon the cuslii<
and with the same involuntary imjiulse, so intelligible to botli
them as not to occasion a remark on either side, his compaii
had extinguished the lamp. The front glasses were down ; ;
they sat looking silently out upon the gloomy scene before then

They were clear of London : or as clear of it as travellers
be, whose way lies on the Western Road, within a stage of t
enormous city. Occasionally, they encountered a foot-passeu;
hurrying to the nearest place of shelter ; or some unwieldy (
proceeding onward at a heavy trot, with the same end in vi
Little clusters of such vehicles were gathered round the sta
yard or baiting-place of every way-side tavern ; while their dri\
watched the weather from the doors and open windows, or ni
merry within. Everywhere the people were disposed to bear e
other company, rather than sit alone ; so that groups of watcl
faces seemed to be looking out upon the night and them, t\
almost every house they passed.

It may appear strange that this should have disturbed Jo
or rendered him uneasy : but it did. After muttering to bini;
and often changing his position, he drew up the blind on his
of the carriage, and turned his shoulder sulkily towards it.
he neither looked at his companion, nor broke the silence wl
prevailed between them, and whicli had fallen so suddenly i
himself, by addressing a word to him.

The thunder rolled, the lightning flashed ; the rain poured d
like Heaven's wrath. Surrounded at one moment by intoler
light, and at the next by pitchy darkness, they still pressed for\
on their journey. Even when they arrived at the end of the st
and might have tarried, they did not ; but ordered horses
immediately. Nor had this any reference to some five mim
lull, which at that time seemed to promise a cessation of the st' '
They held their course as if they were impelled and driven h.;^
fury. Although they had not exchanged a dozen words, and iv^"


tarried very well, they seemed to feel, by joint cousent, that
rd tliey must go.

)uder aud louder the deep thunder rolled, as through the
id halls of some vast temple iu the sky ; fiercer and brighter
le the lightning; more and more heavily the rain poured
. Tiie horses (tliey were travelling now witli a single pair)
:ed and started from the rills of quivering tire that seemed to
along the ground before them : but there these two men sat, and
,rd they went as if they were led on by an invisible attraction.
le eye, partaking of tlie quickness of the tiasliing light, saw

every gleam a multitude of objects wliich it could not see at
y noon in fifty times that period. Bells iu steeples, with the
md wheel that moved tliem ; ragged nests of birds in cornices
looks ; f;aces full of consternation in the tilted waggons that

tearing past, their frightened teams ringing out a warning
1 the thunder drowned ; harrows and ploughs left out in fields ;

upon miles of hedge-divided country, with the distant fringe
:es as obvious as the scarecrow in the beanfield close at hand :
;rembling, vivid, flickering instant, everything was clear and
: tiien came a flush of red into the yelloAv light ; a change to

a brightness so intense that there was nothing else but light :
hen the deepest and profoundest darkness,
lie lightning, being very crooked and very dazzling, may have
ated or assisted a curious optical illusion, which suddenly rose
e the startled eyes of Montague in the carriage, and as rapidly
peared. He thought he saw Jonas with his hand lifted, and
ottle clenched in it like a hammer, making as if he would aim
w at his head. At the same time he observed (or so believed)
pression in his face ; a combination of the unnatural e.xcite-

he had shown all day, with a wild hatred and fear wliich
t have rendered a wolf a less terrible companion,
e uttered an involuntary exclamation, and called to the
r, who brought his horses to a stop with all speed.

could hardly have been as he supposed, for although he had
aken his eyes off his companion, and had not seen him move,
t reclining in his corner as before.

What's the matter ? " said Jonas. " Is that your general way
iking out of your sleep ? "

I could swear," returned the other, " that I have not closed
^es ! "

When you have sworn it," said Jonas, composedly, "we had
r go on again, if you have only stopped for that."
e uncorked the bottle with the help of his teeth ; and jiutting
his lips, took a long draught.


" I wish we had never started on this journey. This is m
said Montague, recoiling instinctively, and speaking in a voice t
betrayed his agitation : " this is not a night to travel in."

" Ecod ! you're right there," returned Jonas : " and we shouk
be out in it but for you. If you hadn't kept me waiting all d
we might have been at Salisbury by this time ; snug abed audj
asleep. What are we stopping now for 1 "

His companion put his head out of window for a moment, i
drawing it in again, observed (as if that were his cause of anxif
that the boy was drenched to the skin.

" Serve him right," said Jonas. " I'm glad of it. What
devil are we stopping now for 1 Are you going to spread him

Online LibraryCharles DickensLife and adventures of Martin Chuzzlewit → online text (page 62 of 80)