Charles Dickens.

Life and adventures of Martin Chuzzlewit online

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curious office Tom held, and why he was so secret, and ei
barrassed, and unlike himself, in reference to it. Nor could I
help reverting to it, in his own mind, several times after To
went away, which he did as soon as this conversation was ende
taking Mr. Tapley with hini, who, as he laughingly said, mig
accompany him as far as Fleet Street, Avithout injury.

"And what do i/ou mean to do, Mark?" asked Tom, as th
Avalked on together.

"Mean to do, Su-?" returned Mr. Tapley.

" Ay. What course of life do you mean to pursue ? "

"Well, Sir," said Mr. Tapley. " The fact is, that I have k
a-thinkiug rather of the matrimonial line, Sir."

" You don't say so, Mark ! " cried Tom.

"Yes, Sir. I've been a-turnin' of it over."

" And who is the lady, Mark 1 "

" The which. Sir ? " said Mr. Tapley.

"The lady. Come! You know what I said," repHed Tc
laugliing, " as well as I do ! "

Mr. Tapley suppressed his owni inclination to laugh ; and, w
one of his most whimsically-twisted looks, replied,

" You couldn't guess I suppose, Mr. Pinch 1 "

" How is it possible 1 " said Tom. " I don't know any of V' '
flames, Mark. Except Mrs. Lupin, indeed."

"Well, Sir!" retorted Mr. TajDley. "And supposing it '^;'
her ! "

Tom stopping in the street to look at him, Mr. Tapley ff '


iient presented to ids view, an utterly stolid and expressiou-
tace : a perfect dead wall of countenance. But opening
dow after window in it, with astonishing rapidity, and lighting
n all up as for a general illumination, he repeated :
' Snpposin', for the sake of argument, as it was her, Sir I "
" Why, I thought such a connexion wouldn't suit you, I\Iark,
luy terms I " cried Tom.

'Well, Sir, I used to think so myself, once,"' said ^Mark. " But
I't so clear about it now. A dear, sweet creetur. Sir ! ''
'A dear, sweet creature 1 To be sure she is," cried Tom.
ut she always was a dear, sweet creature, was she not ?"
" Was she not ! "' assented Mr. Taj^ley.

"Then why on earth didn't you marry her at first, jiark,
ead of wandering abroad : and losing all this time, and leaving
alone by herself : liable to be courted by other people 1 "
"Why, Sir," retorted Mr. Tapley, in a spirit of unbounded
fidence, " I'll tell you how it come about. You know me, Mr.
ch, Sir; there ant a gentleman alive as knows me better.
I're acquainted with my constitution, and you're acquainted
h my weakness. My constitution is, to be jolly; and my
ikuess is, to wish to find a credit in it. W^eiy good. Sir.
this state of mind, I gets a notion in my head that she looks
me with a eye of — with what you may call a fevourable sort
■ye in foct," said Mr. Taplej', -with modest hesitation.
"No doubt," replied Tom. "We knew that perfectly well
?n we spoke on this subject long ago ; before you left the

Mr. Tapley nodded assent. " Well Sir ! But bein' at that
e full of hopeful wisions, I arrives at the con-elusion that no
lit is to be got out of such a way of life as that, where every-
ig agreeable woidd be ready to one's hand. Lookin' on the
,'ht side of human life in short, one of my hopeful wisions is,
t there's a deal of misery a-waitiu' for me ; in the midst of
ich I may come out tolerable strong, and be j<jlly under cir-
iistances as reflects some credit. I goes into the world. Sir,
■y boyant, and I tries this. I goes aboard ship first, and wery
n discovers (by the ease with which I'm jolly, mind you) a.s
re's no credit to be got there. I might have took warning
this, and gave it up ; but I didn't. I gets to the U-nited
ites ; and then I do begin, I won't deny it, to feel some littU-
dit in sustaining my spirits. Wliat follows? Jest as I'm
;iiming to come out, and am a treadin' on the werge, my
ster deceives me."
" Deceives you '. " cried Tom.


"Swindles me," retorted Mr. Tapiey, with a beaming fa
" TmuLS his back on ev'ry thing as made his service a credita
one, and leaves me, high and dry, without a leg to stand up
In which state, I returns home. "Wery good. Then all
hopeful wisions bein' crushed ; and findin' that tliere an't
credit for me nowhere ; I abandons myself to despair, and sa
' Let me do that as has the least credit in it, of all ; marr
dear, sweet creetur, as is wery fond of me : me being, at
same time, wery fond of her : lead a hapjDy life ; and struggle
more again' the blight which settles on my prospects."

" If yom' philosophy, Llark," said Tom, who laughed heart
at this speech, "be the oddest I ever heard of, it is not the le
wise. Mrs. Lupin has said ' yes,' of course ? "

"Why, no, Sir," rei^lied Mr. Tapiey; "she haisn't gone so ■
as that yet. Which I attribute principally to my not ha>!
asked her. But we was wery agreeable together — comfortal
I may say — the night I come home. It's all right, Sir." ,

"Well!" said Tom, stopping at the Temjile Gate. "Im'
you joy, Mark, with all my heart. I shall see you again to-di
I dare say. Good-bye for the present.' '.

" Good-bye, Sir ! Good-bye, Mr. Pinch," he added, by wa^l
soliloquy, as he stood looking after him. " Although you o'
damper to a honourable ambition. You little think it, but
was the first to dash my hopes. Pecksnift' would have built
up for life, but your sweet temper pulled me down. Good-1
Mr. Pinch ! "

While these confidences were interchanged between Tom Pi
and Mark, Martin and John Westlock were very difterently i
gaged. They were no sooner left alone together than IMartin s I
with an eftbrt he could not disguise :

" Mr. Westlock, we have met only once before, but you 1
known Tom a long while, and that seems to render you fani i
to me. I cannot talk freely with you on any subject unle;
relieve my mind of what oppresses it just now. I see with ; i
that you so far mistrust me that you think me likely to impos ■'
Tom's regardlessness of himself, or on his kind nature, or soui j
liis good qualities."

" I had no intention," replied John, " of conveying any 'M
impression to you, and am exceedingly sorry to have done so."|

" But you entertain it ? " said Martin. |

" You ask me so pointedly and directly," returned the ob^
" that I cannot deny the having accustomed myself to regard )'
as one who, not in wantonness but in mere thoughtlessnes c
character, did not sutficiently consider his nature and did not c t


, it as it deserves to be treated. It is luucli easier to slight

to appreciate Tom Pinch.''

'ills was not said warndy, but was energetically spoken too ;
;here was no subject in the world (but one) on which the
ker felt so strongly.

I grew into tlie knowledge of Tom, ' he pursued, "as I grew
,rds manhood ; and I have learned to love him as something
itely better than myself. I did not think that you understood
when we met before. I did not think that you greatly cared
nderstand him. The instances itf this which I observed in
were, like my opportunities for observation, very trivial ; and

very harmless I dare say. But they were not agreeable to
and they forced themselves upon me ; for I was not upon the
h for them, believe me. You will say," added John, with a
?, as he subsided into more of his accustomed manner, " that
1 not by any means agreeable to you. I can only assure you,
eply, that I would not have originated this topic on any


I originated it," said ]\Iartin ; " and so far from having any
)laint to make against you, highly esteem the friendship you
rtxiin for Tom, and the very many proofs you have given him
, Why should I endeavour to conceal from you : ''' he coloured
ly though : " that I neither understood him nor cared to
'rstand him when I was his companion ; and that I am very
r sorry for it now ! "

t was so sincerely said, at once so modestly and manfully, that
1 oflered him his hand as if he had not done so before ; and
tin giving his in the same open sidrit. all constraint between
>'oung men vanished.

Now pray," said John, "when I tire your patience very much
hat I am going to say, recollect that it has an end to it, and

the end is the point of the story."

Vith this preface, he related all the circumstances connected
his having presided over the illness and slow recovery of the
int at the Bull ; and tacked on to the skirts of that narrative
I's own account of the business on the wharf. Martin was not
tie puzzled when he came to an end, for the two stories seemed
lave no connexion with each other, and to leave him, as the
se is, all abroad.

' If you will excuse me for one moment," said Jolin, rising,
kvill Ijeg you almost immediately to come into tlie next room."
'pon that, he left Martin to himself, in a state of considerable
nishment ; and soon came back again to fulfil his promise.
)nipanying him into the next i-oi^m, Martin fuund then' a thin!


person ; no doubt the stranger of whom his host liad spoken wl
Tom Pinch introduced him.

He was a young man ; with deep black hair an<l eyes,
was gaunt and pale ; and evidently had not long recovered fi
a severe illness. He stood as Martin entered, but sat again '
John's desire. His eyes were cast downward ; and but for
glance at them both, half in humiliation and half in entreaty,
kept them so, and sat quite still and silent.

" This person's name is Lewsome," said John Westlock, " wl,ii
I have mentioned to you as having been seized with illness at if
inn near here, and undergone so much. He has had a very Ijd
time of it, ever since he began to recover ; but as you see \:p
now doing well." '

As he did not move or speak, and John Westlock made a pae
Martin, not knowing what to say, said that he was glad to hea t

" The short statement that I wish you to hear from his jii
lips, Mr. Chuzzlewit," John pursued : looking attentively at J|ii,
and not at Martin : "he made to me for the first time yester^y,
and repeated to me this morning, without the least variatic'ol
any essential particular. I have already told you that he infold
me before he was removed from the Inn, that he had a seen tc
disclose to me which lay heavy on his mind. But, fluctuf i»
between sickness and health; and between his desire to re:v(
himself of it, and his dread of involving himself by revealin. t
he has, until yesterday, avoided the disclosure. I never pr<:eil
him for it (having no idea of its weight or import, or of my :'lil
to do so), until within a few days past ; when understanding )ni
Iiim, on his own voluntary avowal, in a letter from the coulry,
that it related to a person whose name was Jonas Cliuzzk'it
and thinking that it might throw some light on that little myiii}
which made Tom anxious now and then ; I urged the point lOii
him, and heard his statement, as you will now, from his own ps.
It is due to him to say, that in the apprehension of deatjlit
committed it to writing some time since, and folded it in a f'led
paper, addressed to me ; which he could not resolve, howevj tc
place of his own act in my hands. He has the paper in his bpt,
I believe, at this moment." '

The young man touched it hastily ; in corroboration of thckt.

"It will be well to leave that in our charge, perhaps, jiaid
John. " But do not mind it now." i

As he said this, he held up his hand to bespeak Mii'in'^
attention. It was already fixed upon the man before him.l'ho,
after a short silence said, in a low, weak, hollow voice : \

" What relation was Mr. Anthony Chuzzlewit, who — "


-Who died — to me'?" said IMartiii. " He was my graiid-
s brother."

fear he was made away with. Mxirdcred !"
[y God ! " said IMartin. " By whom ? "
3 young man, Lewsome, looked up in his face, and casting
his eyes again, replied :
fear, by nie."
!y you 1 "' cried Martin,
fot by my act, but I fear by ray means.''
peak out ! " said Martin, " and speak the truth."
fear this is the truth."

rtin was about to interrupt him again, but John Westlock
softly, " Let him tell his story in his own way," Lewsome
)n thus :

have been bred a surgeon, and for the last few years have
a general practitioner in the City, as his assistant. Wiiile I

his employment I became acquainted wdth Jonas Chuzzlewit.
the principal in this deed."

Vhat do you mean 1 " demanded Martin, sternly. " Do you
he is the son of the old man of whom you have spoken ? "
do," he answered.

remained silent for some moments ; when he resumed at
int where he had left off.

have reason to know it ; for I have often heard him wish
1 father dead, and complain of his being wearisome to liim,
drag upon liim. He was in the habit of doing so, at a place
•ting we had : three or four of us : at night. There was no
in tlie place, you may, wlien you hear that he was
lief of the party. I wish I Iiad died myself, and never

' stopped again ; and again resumed as before.
iVe met to drink and game ; not for large sums, but for
that were large to us. He generally won. Whether or no,
it money at interest to those who lost ; and in this way,
\ I think we all secretly hated him, lie came to be the
r j)f us. To propitiate him, we made a jest of'his fatlier :
;an with his debtors ; I was one : and we u.sed to toast a
T journey to the old man, and a swift inheritance to the


'■ paused again.

)nc night he came there in a very bad humour. He had been
y tried, he said, by the old man that day. He and I were
together ; and he angrily told me, that the old man w:us in
:ond childhood; that he was weak, imbecile, and drivelling ;


as uubearable to himself as he was to other people ; and thai
would be a charity to put him out of the way. He swore, that
had often thought of mixing something with the stuff he took
his cough, which should help him to die easily. People w
sometimes smothered who were bitten by mad dogs, he said ; ?
why not help these lingering old men out of their troubles t(
He looked fdl at me as he said so, and I looked full at him ; 1
it went no farther that night."

He stopped once more, and was silent for so long an inters
that John Westlock said " Go on." Martin had never removed
eyes from his face, but was so absorbed in horror and astoni
ment, that he could not speak.

" It may have been a week after that, or it may have been 1<
or more : the matter was in my mind all the time, but I cani
recollect the time, as I should any other period : when he sp(
to me again. We were alone then, too ; being there before :
usual hour of assembling. There was no ai^pointment betw
us ; but I think I went there to meet him, and I know he ca
there to meet me. He was tliere first. He was reading a ne
paper when I went in, and nodded to me without looking up
leaving off reading. I sat down opposite and close to him.
said, immediately, that he wanted me to get him some of
sorts of drugs. One that was instantaneous in its effect ; of wl
he wanted very little. One that was slow, and not suspicion
appearance ; of which he wanted more. While he was speal
to me he still read the newspaper. He said ' Drugs,' and iii
used any other word. Xeither did I."

" This all agrees with what I have heard before," obsei '
John AVestlock.

"I asked him what he Avanted them for? He said foi '
harm ; to physic cats ; what did it matter to me ? I was g ;
out to a distant colony (I had recently got the appointment, wl i
as Mr. Westlock knows, I have since lost by my sickness, ii
which was my only hope of salvation from ruin), and what d ,ii
matter to me ? He could get them without my aid at h; ^
hundred places, but not so easily as he could get them of 'e
This was true. He might not want them at all, he said, am-'i*
had no present idea of using them; but he wished to have <."'
by him. All this time he still read the newspaper. We tiseil
about the price. He was to forgive me a small debt — I wa.s < 'ti
in his power — and to pay me five pounds ; and there the ni ei
dropped, through others coming in. But next night, under e.^dv
similar circumstances, I gave liim the drugs, on his saying ^"^
a fool to think that he should ever use them for any harm : no


rave 1110 the money. We have never met since. I only know

; tlie poor old fatlier died soon afterwards : just as he would

i died from this cause : and that I liave undergone, and suffer

, intolerable misery. Nothing-,'' he added, stretching out his

ds, "can paint my misery! It is well deserved, but nothing

paint it."

iVith that he hung his head, and said no more. Wasted and

tched, he was not a creature upon whom to heap reproaches

: were unavailing.

'Let him remain at hand,'' said jMartiii, turning fnnii liiui ;

it out of sight, in Heaven's name ! ''

• He will remain here," John whispered. " Come with me ! "

;ly turning the key upon him as they went out, he conducted

•tin into the adjoining room, in which they had been before.

Martin was so amazed, so shocked, and confounded by what he

heard, that it was some time before he could reduce it to any
'r in his mind, or coidd sufficiently comprehend the bearing of

part upon another, to take in all the details at one view,
en he at length had the wliole narrative clearly before him,
u Westlock went on to point out the great iirobability of the
t of Jonas being known to other people, who traded in it for
r own benefit, and who were by such means able to e.xert that
trol over him which Tom Pinch had accidentally witnessed, and
oasciously assisted. This appeared so plain, that they agreed
n it without difficulty ; but instead of deriving the least assist-
? from this source, they found that it embarrassed them the

riiey knew notliiug of the real jDarties, who possessed this
■er. The only person before them was Tom's landlord. Tliey

no right to question Tom's landlord, even if tliey could find

I, which, according to Tom's account, it would not be easy to
And granting that they did question him, and he answered

licli was taking a good deal for granted), lie had only to say,
h reference to the adventure on the wharf, that he had "been
t from such and such a jjlace to summon Jonas Ijack on urgent
iness, and there was an end of it.

Besides, there was the great difficulty :ind responsibility of
nng at all in the matter. Lewsome's story might be false ; in
wretched state it might be greatly heightened by a diseased
ill : or admitting it to be entirely true, the old man might have
I a natural death. Mr. Pccksnitt" had been there at tlic time ;
foin immediately remembered, when he came back in the after-

II, and shared their counsels ; and there had been no secrecy
ut it, Martin's grandfather was of right the person to decide


upon the course that should be taken ; but to get at his v
would be impossible, for Mr. Pecksniff's views were certain ti
his. And the nature of Mr. Pecksnift''s views in reference t(
own son-in-law, might be easily reckoned upon.

Apart from these considerations, Martin could not endure
thought of seeming to grasp at tliis unnatural charge against
relative, and using it as a stepping-stone to his grandfatl
favour. But, that he would seem to do so, if he presented ]
self before his grandfather in Mr. Pecksniff's house again, for
purpose of declaring it ; and that Mr. Pecksniff, of all men, w
represent his conduct in that despicable liglit ; he perfectly
knew. On the other hand, to be in possession of such a staten
and to take no measures of further inquiry in reference to it,
tantamount to l)eing a partner in the guilt it professed to disi

In a word, they were wholly unable to discover any outlet
this maze of difficulty, which did not lie through some perpl
and entangled thicket. And although Mr. Tapley was proii
taken into their confidence ; and the fertile imagination of
gentleman suggested many bold expedients, which, to do i
justice, he was quite ready to carry into instant operation o
own personal responsibility ; still, 'bating the general zeal of 1
Tapley's nature, nothing was made particularly clearer by ;
offers of service.

It was in this position of affairs that Tom's account o :i
strange behaviour of the decayed clerk, upon the night of thve
party, became of great moment, and finally convinced them a
to arrive at a more accurate knowledge of the workings of'h
old man's mind and memory, would be to take a most impc ii
stride in their pursuit of the truth. So, having first satisfied iii;
selves that no communication had ever taken place be,e(
Lewsome and IMr. Chuftey (which would have accounted atD'
for any suspicions the latter might entertain), they unauin is
resolved that the old clerk was the man they wanted.

But, like the unanimous resolution of a public meeting ; 'i'
will oftentimes declare that this or that grievance is not '
borne a moment longer, which is nevertlieless borne for a ci ;"'
or two afterwards, without any modification ; they only n'-lu
in this the conclusion that they were all of one mind. For, ;Wi
one thing to want Mr. Chuffey, aiul another thing to get at in
and to do tliat without alarming him, or without alarming n"
or without being discomfited by the difficulty of striking, i "
instrument so out of tune and so unused, the note theys-g"
was an end as far from their reach as ever.

The question then became, who of those about the ol( jki


hail iiuist iiitluence with him, that nij^lit .' Tom said: his
Lj mistress, (.•learly. Bat Tom ami all of them shrank from
houjiht of entrai)ping her, and making her tlie innocent moans
iuging retribution on her cruel husband. Was there nobody
AVhy yes. In a very difierent way, Tom said, he was
snced by Mrs. Gamp, the nurse : who had once had the control
11, as he understood, for some time.

liey caught at this immediately. Here was a new way out,
oped in a quarter until then overlooked. John Westlock
Mrs. Gamp ; he had given her employment ; he was
lintcd with her place of residence : for that good lady had
iugly furnished him, at parting, with a pack of her professional
for general distribution. It was decided that Mrs. Gamp
d be approached with caution, but approached without delay ;
that the depths of that discreet matron's knowledge of Mr.
fey, and means of bringing them, or one of them, into com-
catiou with him, should be carefully sounded,
n this service, Martin and John Westlock determined to
ed that night ; w^aiting on Mrs. Gamp first, at her lodgings ;
;aking their chance of finding her in the repose of private life,
■ having to seek her out, elsewhere, in the exercise of her
ssioual duties. Tom returned home, that he might lose no
rtunity of having an interview with Nadgett, by being absent
le event of his reappearance. And IMr. Tapley remained (by
\vn particular desire) for the time being in Furnival's Inn, to
after Lewsome ; wiio might .safely have been loft to himself,
ver, fur any thought he seemed to entertain of giving them

ut l>efore they parted on their several errands, they caused
to read aloud, in the presence of them all, the paper which he
ibout him, and the declaration he had attached to it, which
to the ottoct, that he had written it voluntarily, in the tear of
1, and in tlie torture of his mind. And when he had done so,
all .signed it, and taking it from him, of his froo will, locked
a place of safety,

tartin also wrote, by John's advice, a letter to the trustees of
amous Grammar School, boldly claiming the successful design

S and charging Mr. Pecksnirt' with the fraud he had coi ittod.

lis proceeding also, John was hotly interested : ob.serving with
isual irreverence, tliat Mr. PecksniH' had been a successfid
1 all his life tliroutrh, and that it would l>e a lasting source
ippiiiess to him (John; if he couM help to do him jn.stice in
niallest particulai-.
. busy day '. But :Martin had no lodgings yet ; so when thcjse


matters were disposed of, lie excused himself iVom dining '
John Westlock and was fain to wander out alone, and look
some. He succeeded, after great trouble, in engaging two gai
for himself and Mark, situated in a court in the Strand, not
from Temple Bar. Their luggage, which was waiting for thei
a coach-office, he conveyed to this new place of refuge ; and it
with a glow of satisfaction, which as a selfish man he never c
have known and never had, that : thinking how much pains
trouble he had saved Mark, and how ])leased and astonished I
would be : he afterwards walked up and down, in the Ten
eating a meat-pie for his dinner.



Mrs. Gamp's apartment in Kingsgate Street, High Holl

Online LibraryCharles DickensLife and adventures of Martin Chuzzlewit → online text (page 71 of 80)