Charles Dickens.

Life and adventures of Martin Chuzzlewit online

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to dry ? "

" I have half a mind to take him inside," observed the ot
with some hesitation.

" Oh ! thankee ! " said Jonas. "We don't want any damp 1
here : especially a young imp like him. Let him be where h(
He ain't afraid of a little thunder and lightning, I dare say ; m
ever else is. Go on, driver ! We had better have hi7n in;
perhaps," he muttered with a laugh ; " and the horses ! "

" Don't go too fast," cried Montague to the postillion; "andt
care how you go. You were nearly in the ditch when I called to y

This was not true ; and Jonas bluntly said so, as they mc
forward again. Montague took little or no heed of what he s
but repeated that it was not a night for travelling, and sho
himself, both then and afterwards, unusually anxious.

From this time, Jonas recovered his former spirits ; if sue
term may be employed to express the state in which he had left
City. He had his bottle often at his mouth ; roared out suat
of songs, without the least regard to time or tune or voice, or ;
thing but loud discordance ; and urged his silent friend to be m
with him.

" You're the best company in the world, my good fellow,"
Montague with an efibrt, " and in general irresistible ; but to-n
— do you hear it ? "

" Ecod I hear and see it too," cried Jonas, shading his eyes

the moment, from the lightning which was flashing, not in any,

direction, but all round them. " What of that 1 It don't cha

you, nor me, nor our affairs. Chorus, chorus !

It may lighten and storm,

Till it hunt the red worm

From the grass wliere the gibbet is driven ;

But it can't hurt the dead,

And it won't save the head

That is doom'd to be rifled and riven.


must be a precious old song," he added with an oatli, as he
)ed short iu a kind of wonder at himself. " I haven't heard it
I was a boy, and how it comes into my head now, unless the
iiing put it there, I don't know. ' Cant hurt the dead ' ! No,
'And won't save the head' ! No, no. No ! Ha, hix, ha ! "
is mirth was of such a savage and extraordinary cluiracter,
vas, in an inexplicable way, at once so suited to the night, and
Lich a coarse intrusion on its terrors, that his fellow-traveller,
rs a coward, shrank from him in positive fear. Instead of
5 being his tool and instrument, their places seemed to be
sed. But there was reason for this too, Montague thought ;
the sense of his debasement might naturally inspire such a
with the wish to assert a noisy independence, and in that
ie to forget his real condition. Being quick enough in
Mice to such subjects of contemplation, he was not long in
g this argument into account, and giving it its full weight.
still he felt a vague sense of alarm, and was depressed and


e was certain he had not been asleep ; but his eyes might have
ved him, for looking at Jonas now, in any interval of darkness,
aid represent his figure to himself in any attitude his state of
suggested. On the other hand, he knew full well that Jonas
10 reason to love him ; and even taking the piece of pantomime
1 had so impressed his mind to be a real gesture, and not the
ing of his fancy, the most that could be said of it was, that it
piite in keeping with the rest of his diabolical fun, and had
;irae impotent expression of truth in it. " If he could kill me
a wish," thought the swindler, " I should not live long."
e resolved, that wlien he should have had his use of Jonas, he
I restrain liira with an iron curb : in tlie meantime, that he
not do better than leave him to take his own way, and pre-
his own jieculiar description of good-humour, after his own
nmon manner. It was no great sacrifice to bear with him ;
when all is got that can be got," thought Montague, " I sliall
lip across the water, and have the laugh on my side — and the

ich were his reflections from hour to hour ; his state of mind
one in which the same thoughts constantly present theni-
5 over and over again in wearisome repetition ; wliile Jonas,
:iprjeared to have dismissed reflection altogether, entertained
ilf as before. They agreed that they would go to Salisbury,
vould cross to Mr. Pecksniff""s in the murniiig ; and at the
'■ct of deluding that worthy gentleman, tlie spirits of his
)]e soQ-in-law became more boisterous than ever.


As the night wore on, the thunder died away, but still rol
gloomily and mournfully in the distance. The lightning too, thou
now comparatively harmless, was yet bright and frequent. 1
rain was quite as violent as it had ever been.

It was their ill-fortune, at about the time of dawn and iu 1
last stage of their journey, to have a restive pair of horses. Th
animals had been greatly terrified in their stable by the tempei
and coming out into the dreary interval between night and morni'
when the glare of the lightning was yet unsubdued by day, and 1
various objects in their view were presented in indistinct 8
exaggerated shapes which they would not have worn by niglit, tl
gradually became less and less capable of control ; until, takinc
sudden fright at something by the roadside, they dashed off wil
down a steep hill, flung the driver from his saddle, drew the carri;
to the brink of a ditch, stumbled headlong down, and threv
crashing over.

The travellers had opened the carriage door, and had eit
jumped or fallen out. Jonas was the first to stagger to his fi
He felt sick and weak, and very giddy, and, reeling to a five-bar
gate, stood holding by it : looking drowsily about, as the wll
landscape swam before his eyes. But by degrees he grew ii
conscious, and presently observed that Montague was lying sei
less in the road, within a few feet of the horses.

In an instant, as if his own faint body were siiddenly auimf
by a demon, he ran to the horses' heads ; and pulling at t'
bridles with all his force, set them struggling and plunging \
such mad violence as brought their hoofs at every effort nearei
the skull of the prostrate man, and must have led in half a mii
to his brains being dashed out on the highway.

As he did this, he fought and contended with them like a ) i
possessed : making them wilder by his cries.

" Whoop !" cried Jonas. "Whoop! again! another! Al
more, a little more ! Up, ye devils ! Hillo ! "

As he heard the driver who had risen and was hurrying
crying to him to desist, his violence increased.

" Hillo ! Hillo ! " cried Jonas.

" For God's sake ! " cried the driver. — " The gentleman — ii i'
road — he'll be killed ! " i

The same shouts and the same struggles were his only ansii
But the man darting in at the peril of his own life, saved Montagjs
by dragging him through the mire and water out of the reaoio
present harm. That done, he ran to Jonas; and with the ao
his knife they very shortly disengaged the horses from the bpii
chariot, and got them, cut and bleeding, on their legs again. '^'

■•'''■ 1,1- -




postillion and Jonas had now leisure to look at each other, wh:
they had not had yet.

" Presence of mind, presence of mind ! " cried Jonas, throwi
up his hands wildly. " What would you have done without mc

" The other gentleman would have done badly witliout m
returned the man, shaking his head. " You should have mo\
him first. I gave him up for dead."

" Presence of mind, you croaker, presence of mind ! " cried Jon
with a harsh loud laugh. " Was he struck, do you think ] ''

They both turned to look at him. Jonas muttered somethi
to himself, when he saw him sitting up beneath the hedge, looki
vacantly round.

"AVhat's the matter?" asked Montague. "Is anybody hurl

" Ecod ! " said Jonas, " it don't seem so. There are no boi
broke, after all."

Tliey raised him, and he tried to walk. He was a good d
shaken, and trembled very much. But with the exception of a i
cuts and bruises this was all the damage he had sustained.

"Cuts and bruises, eh?" said Jonas. " We've all got tli(
Only cuts and bruises, eh ? "

" I wouldn't have given sixpence for the gentleman's heac'
half a dozen seconds more, for all he's only cut and bruised," obser
the i)ost-boy. " If ever you're in an accident of this sort ag;
Sir ; which I hope you won't be ; never you pull at the bridle i
horse that's down, when there's a man's head in the way. T
can't be done twice without there being a dead man in the c;
it would have ended in that, this time, as sure as ever you v i
born, if I hadn't come up just when I did."

Jonas replied liy advising him with a curse to hold his ton;
and to go somewhere, whither he was not very likely to go of
own accord. But Montague, who had listened eagerly to e)
word, himself diverted the subject, by exclaiming : " Where's t
boy!" ^ _ ^ ^ I

"Ecod, I forgot that monkey," said Jonas. "What's beciK
of him ! " A very brief search settled that question. The uiir-
tunate Mr. Bailey had been thrown sheer over the hedge or the f
barred gate; and was lying in the neighbouring field, to all apjji'
ance dead.

" When I said to-night, that I wished I had never startecj)"
this journey," cried his master, "I knew it was an ill-fated j-P'
Look at this boy ! " j

" Is that all ? " growled Jonas. " If you call that a sign of i'-'

"Why, what should I call a sign of it?" asked Monti jie,
hurriedly. " What do you mean 1 " i


I mcau," said Jonas, stooping down over tlie body, "that I
: heard you were his father, or had any particidar reason to
much about him. Halloa. Hold up here 1 '
lit the boy was past holding up, or being hold up, or giving
)ther sign of life, than a faint and fitful beating of tiie heart.
• some discussion, the driver mounted the horse which had
least injured, and took the lad in his arms, as well as he could ;
^ jNIontague and Jonas leading the other horse, and carrying a
c between them, walked by his side towards Salisbury.
You'd get there in a few minutes, and be able to send assistance
eet us, if you went forward, post-boy," said Jonas. "Trot

Xo, no," cried Montague, hastily ; " we'll keep together."

AVliy, what a chicken you are ! You are not afraid of being

'd ; are you 1 " said Jonas.

I am not afraid of anything," replied the other, whose looks

nanner were in flat contradiction to Ids words. " But we'll


You were mighty anxious about the boy, a minute ago," said

s. " I suppose you know that he may die in the

itime 1 "

Ay, ay. I know. But we'll keep together.'"

s it was clear that he was not to be moved from this deter-

tion, Jonas made no other rejoinder than such as his face

;sse(l ; and they proceeded in company. They had three or

good miles to travel ; and the way was not made easier by

tate of the road, the burden by which they were embarrassed,

leir own stiff and sore condition. After a sufficiently long

painful walk, they arrived at the Inn ; and having knocked

)eople up (it being yet very early in the morning), sent out

engers to see to the carriage and its contents, and roused a

;on from his bed to tend the chief sufferer. All tlie service

)uld render, he rendered promptly and skilfully. But he gave

his opinion that the boy was labouring under a severe con-
on of the brain, and that Mr. Bailey's mortal course was run.
f Montague's strong interest in the announcement could Iiave

considered as unselfish, in any degree, it might liave been
Jeeming trait in a character that had no such lineaments to
;. But it was not difficidt to see that, for .some unexpressed
)n best appreciated by himself, he attached a strange value to
company and presence of this mere child. "When, after
ving some assistance from the surgeon himself, he retired to
bed-room prepared for him, and it was broad day, his mind
still dwelling on this theme.


" I would rather have lost," he said, " a thousand pounds t'
lost the boy just now. But I'll return home alone ; I am resol
upon that. Chuzzlewit shall go forward first, and I will fol
in my own time. I'll have no more of this," he added, wiping
damp forehead. "Twenty -four hours of this would turn
hair grey ! "

After examining his chamber, and looking under the bed, i
in the cupboards, and even behind the curtains, witli unus
caution (although it was, as has been said, broad day) he dou
locked the door by which he had entered, and retired to r
There was another door in the room, but it was locked on
outer side ; and with what place it comnumicated, he knew not

His fears or evil conscience reproduced this door in all
dreams. He dreamed that a dreadful secret was connected v
it : a secret which he knew, and yet did not know, for althoi
he was heavily responsible for it, and a party to it, he ■
harassed even in his vision by a distracting uncertainty in refere
to its import. Incoherently entwined with this dream ■
another, which represented it as the hiding-place of an eneni;
shadow, a phantom ; and made it the business of his life to k
the terrible creature closed up, and prevent it from forcing
way in upon him. With tliis view Nadgett, and he, and a stra
man with a bloody smear upon his head (who told him that
had been his playfellow, and told him, too, the real name of
old schoolmate, forgotten until then), worked with iron plates
nails to make the door secure ; but though they worked neve
hard, it was all in vain, for the nails broke, or changed to
twigs, or, what was worse, to worms, between their fingers ;
wood of the door splintered and crumbled, so that even i
would not remain in it ; and the iron plates curled up like
paper. All this time the creature on the other side — whetln
was in the shape of man, or beast, he neither knew nor soi
to know — was gaining on them. But his greatest terror
when the man with the bloody smear upon his head demande
him if he knew this creature's name, and said that he w
whisper it. At this the dreamer fell upon his knees, his w
blood thrilling with inexplicable fear, and held his ears. ^
looking at the speaker's lips, he saw that they formed the u
ance of the letter " J ; " and crying out aloud that the secret
discovered, and they were all lost, he awoke.

Awoke to find Jonas standing at his bedside watching i
And that very door wide open.

As their eyes met, Jonas retreated a few paces, and Mont
sprang out of bed.



' Heyday ! " said Jonas. "You're all alive this morning."

• Alive ! " the other stammered, as he pulled tlie bell-rope

jntly : " "What are you doing here 1 "

'It's your room to be sure/' said Jonas; "but I'm almost

ned to ask you what t/ou are doing here. My room is on

other side of that door. Xo one told me last niglit not to

I it. I thought it led into a passage, and was comiug out to

r breakfost. There's — there's no bell in my room."

ilontague had in the meantime admitted the man with his

water and boots, who hearing this, said, yes, there was ; and

ed into the adjoining room to point it out, at the head of


'I couldn't find it, then,"' said Jonas: "it's all the same.

1 I order breakfast ? "

lontague answered in the affirmative. "When Jonas had

ed, whistling, through his own room, he opened the door of

luuuication, to take out the key and fasten it on tlie inner

But it was taken out already,
le dragged a table against the door, and sat down to collect
5elf, as if his dreams still had some influence upon his mind.
'Au evil journey," he repeated .several times. "An evil
riey. But I'll travel home alone. I'll have no more of this ! "
lis presentiment, or superstition, that it was an evil journey,
not at all deter him from doing the evil for which the journey
undertaken. With this in view, he dressed himself more
fully than usual, to make a favourable impression on Mr.
csniff: and, lea-ssured by his own appearance, the beauty of
morning, and the flashing of the wet boughs outside his window
le merry sunshine, he was soon sufficiently inspirited to swear
.V round oaths, and hum tlie fag-end of a song.
Jut he still muttered to himself at intervals, for all tliat :
1 travel home alone ! "



)n the ni;,dit i)f the storm, Mrs. Lupin, hostess of the Blue
,'on, sat by lierself in her little bar. Her solitary cunditiou,
le bad weather, or both united, made ]\Irs. Lupin thoughtful,


not to say sorrowful ; and as she sat with her chin upon her ha
looking out through a low back lattice, rendered dim in
brightest daytime by clustering vine-leaves, she shook her Ik
very often, and said, " Dear me ! Ah, dear, dear me ! "

It was a melancholy time, even in the suugness of the Draj
bar. The rich expanse of corn-field, pasture-land, green slope, t
gentle undulation, with its sparkling brooks, its many hedgera
and its clumps of beautiful trees, was black and drearj-, from
diamond panes of the lattice away to the far horizon, wliere ■
thunder seemed to roll along the hills. The heavy rain b
down tlie tender branches of vine and jessamine, and tramp
on them in its fury ; and when the lightning gleamed, it sho\
the tearful leaves shivering and cowering together at the windi
and tapping at it urgently, as if beseeching to be sheltered fi
the dismal night.

As a mark of her respect for the lightning, Mrs. Lupin
removed her candle to the chimney-piece. Her basket of nee
work stood unheeded at her elbow ; her supper, spread on a ro
table not far off", was untasted ; and the knives had been remo
for fear of attraction. She had sat for a long time with her c
ujion her hand, saying to herself at intervals, " Dear me !
dear, dear me ! "

She was on the eve of saying so, once more, when the late <
the house-door (closed to keep the rain out), rattled on its v ^
worn catch, and a traveller came in, who, shutting it after him, '
walking straight up to the half-door of the bar, said, rather grn

"A pint of the best old beer here."

He had some reason to be gruff", for if he had passed the
in a waterfall, he could scarcely have been wetter than he •
He was wrapped up to the eyes in a rough blue sailor's coat, ^
had an oil-skiu hat on, from the capacious brim of which, the 'i
fell trickling down upon his breast, and back, and shouliis
Judging from a certain liveliness of chin — he had so pvdled di
his hat, and pulled up his collar, to defend himself from in
weather, that she could only see his chin, and even across tha n
drew the wet sleeve of his shaggy coat, as she looked at him — '"s
Lupin set him down for a good-natured fellow, too. ,

" A bad night ! " observed the hostess cheerfully.

The traveller shook himself like a Newfoundland dog, and k
it was, rather.

"There's a fire in the kitchen,'' said Mrs. Lupin, ''and ,i"J
good company there. Hadn't you better go and dry yourself

"No, thankee," said the man, glancing towards the kitei
as he spoke : he seemed to know the way. '


;'s enough to give you your death of coM,"' oliservod the

don't take my death easy," veturnod tlio traveller; "or I
most likely have took it aturo to-night. Your health,

5. Lupin thanked him ; but in the act of lifting the tankard
mouth, he changed his mind, and put it down again,
ing his body back, and looking about him stiffly, as a man does
wra]ipcd up, and has his hat low down over his eyes, he said,
"hat do vou call this house? Not the Dragon, do you 1"
5. Lupin complacently made answer, " Yes, the Dragon."
t'hy, tlien, you've got a sort of a relation of mine here,
," said the traveller : "a young man of the name of Tapley.
! iLark, my boy ! " apostrophising the premises, " have I
ipon you at last, old buck ! "

:s was touching Mrs. Lupin on a tender point. She turned
1 the candle on the chimney-piece, and said, with her back
Is the traveller :

[obody should be made more welcome at the Dragon, master,
ny one who brought me news of Mark. But it's many and
a long day and month since he left here and England. And
er he's alive or dead, poor fellow. Heaven above us only

J shook her head, and her voice trembled ; her hand must

lone so too, for the light required a deal of trimming.

Vhere did he go, ma'am ? " asked the traveller, in a gentler

le went," said Mrs. Lujiin, with increased distress, "to
ca. He was always tender-hearted and kind, and perhaps
5 moment may be lying in prison under sentence of death,
king pity on some miserable black, and helping the jwor
ay creetur to escape. How couhl he ever go to America 1
didn't he go to some of those countries which arc not quite
rous ; where the savages eat each other fairly, and gi\e an
chance to every one ! "

lite subdued by this time, Mrs. Liq)iii sobbed, ami was
ig to a chair to give her grief free vent, when tlie traveller
t her in his arms, and she uttered a glad cry of recognition.
i'e.«, I will ! " cried Mark, " another— one more — twenty
1 You didn't know me in that hat and coat? I thought
ould have known me anywhere ! Ten more ! "
>io I should have known you, if I could have seen you ; but
ildn't, and you spoke so gruff. I didn't think you could
grntt" to me, Mark, at first coming back."


" Fifteen more ! " said Mr. Tapley. " How handsome and
young you look ! Six more ! The last lialf-dozen warn't a
one, and must be done over again. Lord bless you, what a ■
it is to see you ! One more ! Well, I never was so jolly,
a few more, on account of there not being any credit in it ! "

When Mr. Tapley stopped in these calculations in si
addition, he did it, not because he was at all tired of the exei
but because he was out of breath. The pause reminded hi
other duties.

" ]\Ir. Martin Chuzzlewit's outside,'' he said. "I left
under the cart-shed, while I came on to see if there was any
here. We want to keep quiet to-night, till we know the
from you, and what it's best for us to do."

" There's not a soul in the house except the kitchen comp
returned the hostess. " If they were to know you had come \
Mark, they'd have a bonfire in the street, late as it is."

" But they mustn't know it to-night, my precious soul,'
Mark : "so have the house shut, and the kitchen fire madi
and when it's all readj', \nit a light in tlie winder, and we'll
in. One more ! I long to hear about old friends. Yon" '
me all about 'em, won't you : ]\Ir. Pinch, and the butcher
down the street, and the terrier over the way, and the
Wright's, and every one of 'em. When I first caught sight I
church to-night, I thought the steeple would have choked e
did. One more ! Won't you "? Not a very little one to fiiii
with 1 " ;

"You have had plenty, I am sm-e," said the hostess. ■''
along with your foreign manners ! "

"That ain't foreign, bless you!" cried Mark. "Na.e
oysters, that is ! One more, because it's native ! As a e 'k
respect for the land we live in ! This don't count as betwe }'
and me, you understand," said Mr. Tapley. "I an't a 'ssi
you now, you'll observe. I have been among the patriots I'm
kissiu' my country."

It would have been very unreasonable to complain f ^
exhibition of his patriotism with which he followed up this (!)lai
tion, that it was all lukewarm or indifferent. When he hfjgiv'
full expression to his nationality, he hurried ofi" to IMartinjW'ii
Mrs. Lupin, in a state of great agitation and excitement, jlpa"
for their reception. [

The company soon came tumbling out: insisting to ea!*^''
that the Dragon clock was half an hour too fast, and it
thunder must have affected it. Imi)atient, wet, and weary ib
they were, Martin and Mark were overjoyed to see these c



[itched them with delighted interest, as tliey departed from

use, and passed elose by them.

'here's the old tailor, j\lark ! "' whispered Martin.

'here he goes. Sir ! A little bandier than he was, I think,

in't he? His figure's so far altered, as it seems to me,

ou might wheel a rather laiger barrow between his legs as

Iks, than you could have done conveniently, when we know'd

There's Sam a coming out, Sir."

di, to be sure ! " cried Martin : " Sam, the hostler. I
r whether that horse of Pecksniff's is alive still 1 "
rot a doubt on it, Sir," returned Mark. " That's a descrip-
' animal. Sir, as will go on in a bony way peculiar to himself
long time, and get into the newspapers at last under the
)f ' Sing'lar Tenacity of Life in a Quadrnped.' As if he
•er been alive in all his life, worth mentioning ! There's the
Sir, — wery drunk, as usual."

see him ! " said Martin, laughing. *' But, my life, how wet

Online LibraryCharles DickensLife and adventures of Martin Chuzzlewit → online text (page 63 of 80)