Charles Dickens.

Life and adventures of Martin Chuzzlewit online

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was seen or heard no more.

Never more beheld by mortal eye or heard by mortal ear :!
man excepted. That man, parting the leaves and branches oi'
other side, near where the path emerged again, came leaping!
soon afterwards.

What had he left within the wood, that he sprang out of
if it were a hell !

The body of a murdered man. In one thick solitary spot, ; I
emong the last year's leaves of oak and beech, just as it had 1
headlong down. Sopping and soaking in among the leaves
formed its pillow ; oozing down into the boggy ground, as
cover itself from human sight ; forcing its way between and th i
the curling leaves, as if those senseless things rejected and fore (
it, and were coiled up in abhorrence ; went a dark, dark stah;l
dyed and scented the whole summer night from earth to hea ,3

The doer of this deed came leaping from the wood so fice
that he cast into the air a shower of fragments of young bcl
torn away in his passage, and fell with violence upon the a
But he quickly gained his feet again, and keeping underne h
hedge with his body bent, went running on towards the road. T
road once reached, he fell into a rapid walk, and set on to ir

And he was not sorry for what he had done. He was frigl '»
when he thought of it — when did he not think of it ! — but 1 'W
not sorry. He had had a terror and dread of the wood wl i
was in it ; but being out of it, and having committed the in
his fears were now diverted, strangely, to the dark room he h 1<
shut up at home. He had a greater horror, infinitely grear,
that room than of the wood. Now that he was on his retun;o


?meil bej'oiul comparison more dismal and more dreadful than
vood. His hideous secret was shut up in the room, and all
errors were there : to his thinking it was not in the wood

[e walked on for ten miles ; and then stopped at an alehouse
I coach, which he knew would pass through, on its way to
Ion, before long ; and which he also knew was not the coach
i\d travelled down by, for it came from another place. He sat
1 outside the door here, on a bench, beside a man who was
:ing his pipe. Having called for some beer, and drunk, him-
he offered it to this companion, who thanked him, and took a
ght. He could not help thinking that, if the man had known
le might scarcely have relished drinking out of the same cup


A fine night, master!" said this person. "And a rare

I didn't see it,'' was his hasty answer.
' Didn't see it 1 " returned the man.
' How the devil could I see it, if I was asleep ? '"

Asleep! Ay, ay." The man api^eared surprised by his
ipected irritability, and saying no more, smoked his pipe in
ce. They had not sat very long, when there was a knocking

' What's that 1 " cried Jonas.
' Can't say, I'm sure," replied the man.

{e made no further inquiry, for the last question liad escaped
, in spite of himself. But he was thinking, at the moment, of
;losed-up room ; of the possibility of their knocking at the door
ome special occasion ; of their being alarmed at receiving no
vcT ; of their bursting it open ; of their finding the room empty ;
leir fostening the door into the court, and rendering it impossil)le
iiiui to get into the house without showing himself in tlie garl>
wore; which would lead to rumour, rumour to dctcctiim,
ction to death. At that instant, as if by some design and
■r of circumstances, tlie knocking had come.
It still continued ; like a warning echo of the dread reality he

conjured \\\). As he could not sit and hear it, he paid for his
• and walked on again. And having slunk about, in jjlaces un-
wn to him, all day ; and being out at niglit, in a lonely road, in
unusual dress, and in that wandering and unsettle 1 frame of
d ; he stopped more than once to look about him, hoping he
ht be in a dream.
Still he wa.s not soriy. Xo. He had hated the man too much,

liad been bent, too desperately and too long, on setting himself


free. If the thing could have come over again, he would liave d
it again. His malignant and revengeful jDassions were not so ea
laid. There was no more penitence or remorse within him n
than there had been while the deed was brewing.

Dread and fear were upon him. To an extent he liad ne
counted on, and could not manage in the least degree. He was
horribly afraid of that infernal room at home. This made him
a gloomy, murderous, mad way, not only fearful for himself bin
himself; for being, as it were, a part of the room: a someth
supposed to be there, yet missing from it : he invested himself v
its mysterious terrors ; and when he pictured in his mind the v
chamber, folse and quiet, false and quiet, through the dark he
of two nights ; and the tumbled bed, and he not in it, tho
believed to be ; lie became in a manner his own ghost and pliant
and was at once the haunting sjiirit and the haunted man.

When the coach came up, which it soon did, he got a place
side, and was carried briskly onward towards home. No^^
taking his seat among the people behind, who were chiefly ecu
people, he conceived a fear that they knew of the murder, and W'
tell him that the body had been found ; which, considering the i
and place of the commission of the crime, were events ah
impossible to have happened yet, as he very well knew. .1
although he did know it, and had therefore no reason to re:
their ignorance as anything but the natural sequence to the f: i
still this very ignorance of theirs encom'aged him. So for enc i
aged him, that he began to believe the body never would be fo 'J
and began to speculate on that probability. Setting off from '
point ; and measuring time by the rapid hurry of his guilty thorn
and what had gone before the bloodshed, and the troojis of incobt
and disordered images, of which he was the constant prey ; he (■!
by daylight to regard the miu-der as an old murder, and to til
himself comparatively safe, because it had not been discovered 'I
Yet ! When the sun which looked into the wood, and gilded tl
its rising light a dead man's face, had seen that man alive. U'
sought to win him to one thought of Heaven, on its going iS\
last night !

But here were London streets again. Hush !

It was but five o'clock. He had time enough to reach his^vi
house unobserved, and before there were many people ir 1"
streets ; if nothing had happened so far, tending to his disco
He slipped down from the coach without troubling the driv t
stop his horses : and hurrying across the road, and in and f
every by-w-ay that lay near his course, at length approached bi.-,ffi
dwellino;. He used additional caution in his immediate neigh "f


, haltiug first to look all down the street before him ; then

ig swiftly through that one, and stopjjing to survey the next ;

■0 on.

he passage-Avay was empty when his murderer's face looked

it. He stole on to the door on tiittoe, as if he dreaded to dis-

his own imaginary rest.

'e listened. Not a sound. As he turned the key with a

bliug hand, and pushed the door softly open with his knee, a

itrous fear beset his mind.

'hat if the murdered man were there before him !

e cast a fearful glance all round. But there was nothing

e went in, locked the door, drew the key through and through
lust and damp in the fire-place to sully it again, and hung it
s of old. He took off" his disguise, tied it up in a bundle
: for carrying away and sinking in the river before night, and
d it up in a cupboard. These precautious taken, he undressed,
ivent to bed.

he raging thirst, the fire that burnt within him, as he lay
ith the clothes ; the augmented horror of the room, when they
it out from his view ; the agony of listening, in Avhich he paid
ced regard to every sound, and thought the most unlikely one
prelude to that knocking which should bring the news ; the
s with which he left his couch, and looking in the glass,
ined that his deed was broadly written in his face ; and lying
1 and burying himself once more beneath the blankets, licard
wn heart beating Murder, Murder, ]\Iurder, in the bed. What
3 can paint tremendous truths like these !
he morning advanced. There were footsteps in the house.
Iieard the blinds drawn up, and shutters opened ; and now
then a stealthy tread outside his own door. He tried to call lait
■ than once, but his mouth was dry as if it liad been filled with
ing sand. At last he sat uj) in his T)ed, and crieil :
Who's there ! "
t -was his wife.

le asked her wliat it was o'clock. Nine.
Did — did no one knock at my door, yesterday ? " he ftxltered,
niething disturbed me ; but unless you had knocked the door
1, you would iiave got no notice from me."
Xo one," she replied. That was well. He had waited, almost
thle.s.s, for her answer. It was a relief to him, if aiiytliing

Mr. Xadgett wanted to .see you," .she said, "but I tnld him
n-ere tired, and had requested not to be disturbed. He .sdd it


was of little consequeuce, and went awaj-. As I was opening
window, to let in the cool air, I saw him passing through the sti
this morning, very early ; lout he hasn't been again.''

Passing through the street that morning. Very early ! Jc
trembled at the thought of having had a narrow chance of se(
him himself : even him, who had no object but to avoid peo
and sneak on unobserved, and keep his own secrets : and who i

He called to her to get his breakfast ready, and prepared tc
up stairs : attiring himself in the clothes he had taken otf whei
came into that room, which had been ever since outside the d
In his secret dread of meeting the household for the first ti
after what he had done, he lingered at the door on slight preti
that they might see him without looking in his face ; and lei
ajar while he dressed ; and called out to have the windows opei
and the pavement watered, that they might become accustome'
his voice. Even when he had put off the time, by one mean,
other, so that he had seen or spoken to them all, he could
muster courage for a long while to go in among them, but stoo
his own door listening to the murmur of their distant conversal

He could not stop there for ever, and so joined them. His
glance at the glass had seen a tell-tale face, but that might 1
been because of his anxious looking in it. He dared not loo
them to see if they observed him, but he thought them

And whatsoever guard he kept upon himself, he coidd not 1
listening, and showing that he listened. Whether he attendet
their talk, or tried to think of other things, or talked himseljc
held his peace, or resolutely counted the dull tickings of a hc;«
clock at his back, he always lapsed, as if a spell were on him, ,t
eager listening : for he knew it must come, and his present pu 1
ment, and torture, and distraction, was, to listen for its comin

Hush :



Tom Pinch and Ruth were sitting at their early brealsl
with the window^ open, and a row of the freshest little F i^


ed before it ou the inside, -Uy Ruth's own liands ; and Rutli
lastened a sprig of geranium in Tom's button-liole, to make
very smart and summer-like for tlie day (it was obliged to
Listened in, or that dear old Tom was certain to lose it) ;
people were crying flowers up and down the street ; and a
dering bee, who had got himself in between the two sashes of
svindow, was bruising his head against the glass, endeavouring
Tce himself out into the fine morning, and considering himself
anted because he couldn't do it ; and the morning was as fine
)rning as ever was seen; and the fragrant air w-as kissing Ruth
rustling about Tom, as if it said, " How are you, my dears : I
? all this way on purpose to salute you;'"' and it was one of
3 glad times when we form, or ought to form, the wish that
y eue ou earth were able to be happy, and catching glimpses of
imumer of the heart, to feel the beauty of the summer of the year,
t was even a pleasanter breakfast than usual ; and it was
ys a pleasant one. For little Ruth had now two pupils to
id, each three times a week, and each two hours at a time ;
besides this, she had jminted some screens and card-racks, and,
lowu to Tom (was there ever anything so delightful !) had
:ed into a certain shop which dealt in such articles, after often
iug through the 'window; and had taken courage to ask the
ress of that shoi) whether she would buy them. And the
ress had not only bought them, but had ordered more ; and

very morning Ruth liad made confession of these facts to
, and had handed him the money in a little purse she had
ced expressly for the purpose. They had been in a flutter
it this, and perhaps had shed a happy tear or two for anything
history knows to the contrary ; but it was all over now ; and
•igliter face than Tom's, or a brighter face than Ruth's, the
ht sun had not looked ou since he went to bed last night.
'My dear girl," said Tom, coming so abruptly on the subject,

he interrupted himself in the act of cutting a slice of bread,

left the knife sticking in the loaf, " what a queer fellow our

lord is ! I don't believe he has been home once, since he got

iito that unsatisfactory scrajje. I begin to think he will never

e home again. What a mysterious life that man does lead, to

urc ! "

'Very strange. Is it not, Tom ! '

' Really," said Tom, " I hope it is only strange. I hope there

be nothing wrong in it. Sometimes I begin to be doubtful
lat. I must have an explanation with him," said Tom, shak-
iiis head as if this were a most tremendous threat, " when I
"•atcli him ! "


A short double knock at tlie uoor put Toui",s nieiiaciug looks
ilight, aud awakened an exi^ression of surprise instead.

" Heyday ! " said Tom. " An early hour for visitors 1 It m
be John, I suppose."

"I — I — don't think it was his knock, Tom," observed his lit

" No 1 " said Tom. " It surely can't be my employer, suddei
arrived in town ; directed here by Mi-. Fips ; and come for 1
key of the office. It's somebody inquiring for me, I deck
Come in, if you please ! "

But when the person came in, Tom Pinch, instead of sayi
"Didj'ou wish to speak with me, Sir?" or, "My name is Pin
Sir; what is your business, may I ask 1 " or addressing him in;
such distant terms ; cried out, '• Good gracious Heaven ! " j
seized him by both hands, with the liveliest manifestations;
astonishment and pleasure.

The visitor was not less moved than Tom himself, and t
shook hands a great many times, without another word be
spokeu on either side. Tom was the first to find his voice.

" Mark Tapley, too ! " said Tom, running towards the door,
shaking hands with somebody else. "My dear 3Iark, come
How are you, Mark ? He don't look like a day older than he i .
to do, at the Dragon. How are you, Mark ? "

" Uncommou jolly. Sir, thank'ee," returned Mr. Tapley, I
smiles and bows. " I hope I see you well. Sir."

" Good gracious me ! " cried Tom, patting him tenderly on ■
back. " How delightful it is to hear his old voice again ! }
dear Martin, sit down. My sister, Martin. Mr. Chuzzlewit, )
love. Mark Tapley from the Dragon, my dear. Good grac:ii
me, what a surprise this is ! Sit down. Lord bless me ! "

Tom was in such a state of excitement that he couldn't ]}]
himself still for a moment, but was constantly running b€t\ t
Mark and Martin, shaking hands with them alternately, i<i
presenting them over and over again to his sister.

"I remember the day we parted, Martin, as well as il
were yesterday," said Tom. " What a day it was ! and wh s
passion you were in ! And don't you remember my overta'ij!
you in the road that morning, Mark, when I was going to SalisTV
in the gig to fetch him, and you were looking out for a situate >
And don't you recollect the dinner we had at Salisbury, Ms Uj
with John Westlock, eh 1 Good gracious me ! Ruth, my ifi
Mr. Chuzzlewit. IMark Tapley, my love, from the Dragon. '"
cups and saucers, if you please. Bless my soul, how glad I a,t«
see you both ! "


iwd then Tom (as John Westlock had done oii his arrival) ran

the loaf to cut some bread and Initter fur tlicm ; and before

lad spread a single sUce, remembered sometliini,^ else, and came

ling back again to tell it ; and then he shook hands with them

II ; and then he introduced his sister again ; and then he did

ytliiug he had done already all over again ; and nothing Tom

d do, and nothing Tom could say, was half sufficient to express

joy at their safe return.

ilr. Tai)ley was the first to resume his composure. In a very

t space of time, he was discovered to have somehow installed

self in office as waiter, or attendant upon the party ; a tact

:h was first suggested to them by his temporary absence in the

hen, and speedy return with a kettle of boiling water, from

:h he replenished the tea-})ot with a self-possession that was

e his own.

'Sit down, and take your breaktast, Mark," said Tom.

ake him sit down and take his breakfast, Martin."

'Oil 1 I gave him up, long ago, as incorrigible," Martin replied.

e takes his own way, Tom. You would excuse him, ]\Iiss

-•h, if you knew his value."

'She knows it, bless you !" said Tom. ''I have told her all

It Mark Tapley. Have I not, Paith 1 "

'Yes, Tom."

' Not all," returned Martin, in a low voice. " The best of Mark

ley is only known to one man, Tom ; and but for Mark he

Id hardly lie alive to tell it."

' Mark ! " said Tom Pinch, energetically : '• if you don"t sit down

minute, I'll swear at you ! "

'Well, Sir," returned Mr. Tapley, "sooner than you should do
:, I'll com-ply. It's a considerable invasion of a man's j'dlity
je made so partickler welcome, but a Werb is a word as signi-
to be, to do, or to suffer (which is all the grammar, and enough

a.s ever I wos taught) ; and if there's a Werb alive, I'm it. PVir

always a bein', sometimes a doin', and continually a suti'erin'."

■'Not jolly yetl" asked Tom, with a smile.

''Why, I was rather so, over the water, Sir," returned Mr.

'ley ; "and not entirely without credit. But Human Natur' i.s

. conspiracy again' me ; I can't get on. I shall have to leave it

iiy will, Sir, to be wrote upon my tomb : ' He was a man as

ht have come out strong if he could have got a chance. But

as denied him.' "

Mr. Tapley took this occasion of looking about him with a grin,

subsequently attacking the breakfast, with an ajipetite not at
expressive of blighted hopes, or insurmuuntable despondency.


In the meauwhile, Martin drew his chair a little nearer to Tc
and his sister, and related to them what had passed at Mr. Pec
sniffs house ; adding in few words a general summary of the d
tresses and disappointments he had undergone since he L

" For your faithful stewardsliip in the trust I left with yc
Tom," he said, "and for all your goodness and disinterestedness
can never thank you enough. When I add Mary's thanks
mine "

Ah, Tom ! The blood retreated from his cheeks, and ciinie rul-
ing back, so violently, that it was pain to feel it : ease thou:
ease, to the aching of his woimded heart.

"When I add Mary's thanks to mine," said Martin, "I k
made the only poor acknowledgment it is in our power to oti'
but if you knew how much we feel, Tom, you would set some st
by it, I am sure."

And if they had known how much Tom felt — but that no huu
creature ever knew — they would have set some store by h
Indeed they would.

Tom changed the topic of discourse. He was sorry he could
pursue it, as it gave ]\Iartin pleasure ; but he was unable, at t
moment. Xo cbop of envy or bitterness was in his soul ; but
could not master the firm utterance of her name.

He inquired what Martin's projects were.

"No longer to make your fortune, Tom," said Martin, ''but
try to live. I tried that once in London, Tom : and failed,
you will give me the benefit of your advice and friendly counsi.
may succeed better under your guidance : I will do anythii
Tom, anything ; to gain a livelihood by my own exertions. My h^
do not soar above that, now.'' i

High-hearted, noble Tom ! Sorry to find the pride of his I
companion humbled, and to hear him speaking in this alte-l
strain ; at once, at once, he drove from his breast tlie inability')
contend with its deep emotions, and spoke out bravely.

" Your hopes do not soar above that I " cried Tom. " js
they do. How can you talk so ! They soar up to the time w J
you will be happy witli her, ]\Iartin. They soar up to the time w'u
you will be able to claim her, Martin. They soar up to the tie
when you will not be able to believe that you were ever cast i\o\
' iu spirit, or poor in pocket, Martin. Advice and friendly coiui! •
Why, of course. But you shall have better advice and con '1
(though you cannot have more friendly) than mine. You s:il
consult Jolin Westlock. We'll go there immediately. It is ;t
so early, that I shall have time to take you to his chambers be*


to busiuess ; they are iu uiy a\ ay ; auil I oau leave you there,
Ik over your afiairs with him. So come along. Come along.

a mau of occuixition now, you know," said Tom, with his
antest smile : '' and have no time to lose. Your hopes don't
higher than that? I dare say they don't. / know you,
Y well. They'll be soaring out of sight soon, Martin, and
Qg all the rest of us leagues behind."

Ah! But I may be a little changed,' said Martin, ''since
inew me pretty well, Tom."

What nonsense I " exclaimed Tom. "Why should you be
^ed ? You talk as if you were an old man. I never heard

a fellow I Come to John Westlock's, come. Come along,
: Tapley. It's Mark's doing, I have no doubt ; and it serves
•ight for having such a grumbler for your companion."
There's uo credit to be got through being jolly with i/ou, Mr.
Ii, anpvays," said Mark, with his face all wrinkled up Avitli
"A parish doctor might be jolly with you. There's
ing short of goin' to the U-nited States for a second trip,
ould make it at all creditable to be jolly, arter seein' you

cm laughed, and taking leave of his sister, hurried Mark and
in out into the street, and aw^ay to John Westlock's liy the
;st road ; for his hour of business was very near at hand, and
rided himself on always being exact to his time,
ohn Westlock was at home, but, strange to say, was rather
irrassed to see them ; and when Tom was about to go into the
. where he was breakfasting, said he had a stranger there. It
ared to be a mysterious stranger, for Juhu shut that door as he
it, and led them into the next room.

[e was very much delighted, though, to see Mark Tapley ; and
ved Martin ^vith his own frank courtesy. But Martin felt
he did not inspire John Westlock with any unusual interest ;
twice or thrice obser\-ed that he looked at Tom Pinch doubt-
; not to say compassionately. He thought, and blushed to
i, that he knew the cause of this.

I apprehend you are engaged," said Martin, when Tom had
unced the purport of their visit. " If you will allow me to
! again at your own time, I shall be glad to do so."
I am engaged," replied John, with some reluctance; "but
matter on which I am engaged is one, to say tlie truth, more
cdiately demanding your knowledge than mine."
Indeed ! " cried Martin.

It relates to a member of your family, and is of a serious
re. If vou will have the kindness to remain here, it will be


a satisfaction to me to have it privately comnuuiicated to you, i
order that you may judge of its importance for yourself."

" And in the meantime," said Tom, " I must really take myse
off, without any further ceremony."

" Is your business so very particular," asked Martin, " that yc
cannot remain with us for half an hour 1 I wish you could. Whi
is your business, Tom 1 "

It was Tom's turn to be embarrassed, now : but he plain!
said, after a little hesitation :

"Why, I am not at liberty to say what it is, Martin : thoug
I hope soon to be in a condition to do so, and am aware of r
other reason to prevent my doing so now, than the request of ni
employer. It's an aAvkward position to be placed in," said Toe
with an uneasy sense of seeming to doubt his friend, "as I fe
every day ; but I really cannot help it, can I, John 1 "

John Westlock replied in the negative ; and Martin, expres
ing himself ])erfectly satisfied, begged them not to say anoth'
word : though he could not help wondering very much, wb

Online LibraryCharles DickensLife and adventures of Martin Chuzzlewit → online text (page 70 of 80)