Charles Dickens.

Life and adventures of Martin Chuzzlewit online

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;al it from her. Of course I knew that she was intelligent
juick, and for that reason was more upon my guard ; but I
not in the least prepared for this. I am sure her discovery
been sudden too. Dear mc ! " said Tom. " It's a most
dar instance of penetration ! "

om could not get it out of his head. There it was, when his
was on his itillow.

How she trembled when she began to tell me she knew it 1 "
^ht Tom, recalling all the little incidents and circumstances ;
1 how her face flushed ! But that was natural. Oh, quite
ral I That needs no accounting for."

om little thought how natural it was. Tom little knew that
! w;ls that in Rutli's ow^n heart, but newly set there, which
helped her to the reading of his mystery. Ah, Tom I He
't understand the whispers of the Temple Fountain, though he
^d it every d:iy.

riio so lively and cheerful as busy Kutli next morning ! Her
■ tap at Tom's door, and her light foot outside, woidd liave
nnisic to him though she had not spoken. But she said it
the brightest nidrning ever seen : and so it was; and if it had
otherwise, .'^he would have made it so to Tom.


She was ready with his neat breakfast when he weut dowi
stairs, and had her bouiiet ready for the early walk, and was si
full of news, that Tom was lost in wonder. She might have been
up all night, collecting it for his entertainment. There was Mr
Nadgett not come home yet, and there was bread down a penny ;
loaf, and there was twice as much strength in this tea as in tin
last, and the milkwomau's husband had come out of the hospita
cured, and the curly-headed child over the way had been lost al
yesterday, and she was going to make all sorts of preserves in ;
desperate hurry, and there happened to be a saucepan in the hou-'
which was the very saucepan for the purpose ; and she knew al;
about the last book Tom had brought home, all through, thougli
it was a teazer to read ; and she had so much to tell him that sli-
had finished breakfast first. Then she had her little bonnet on
and the tea and sugar locked up, and the keys in her reticule, aii'
the flower, as usual, in Tom's coat, and was, in all respects quit
ready to accompany him, before Tom knew she had begun t
prepare. And in short, as Tom said, with a confidence in his ow:
assertion which amounted to a defiance of the public in general
there never was such a little woman.

She made Tom talkative. It was impossible to resist hei
She put such enticing questions to him ; about books, and abou
dates of churches, and about organs, and about the Temple, aw
about all kinds of things. Indeed, she lightened the way (au'
Tom's heart with it) to that degree, that the Temple looked quit
blank and solitary when he jjarted from her at the gate.

"jSTo Mr. Fips's friend to-day, I suppose," thought Tom, as h
ascended the stairs.

Not yet, at any rate, for the door was closed as usual, and Tui
opened it with his key. He had got the books into perfect ordt
now, and had mended the torn leaves, and pasted up the broki'
backs, and substituted neat labels for the worn-out letterings. I
looked a ditterent place, it was so orderly and neat : Tom fel
some pride in contemplating the change he had wrought, thoug
there was no one to approve or disapprove of it.

He was at present occupied in making a fair copy of his dra)
of the catalogue ; on which, as there was no hurry, he was painfull
concentrating all the ingenious and laborious neatness he had eve
expended on map or plan in Mr. Pecksniff"'s workroom. It walj
a very marvel of a catalogue ; for Tom sometimes thought hj
was really getting his money too easily, and he had determine'
within himself that this document should take a little of h\
superfluous leisure out of him. ,

So, with pens and ruler, and compasses and india-rubber, an


cil, and black ink, and red h\k, Tom workod away all the
■uiug. He thong-ht a good deal about Martin, and their inter-
V of yesterday, and would have been far easier in his mind
le could liavc resolved to confide it to his friend John, and
have taken liis opinion on the subject. But besides that lie
w what John's boiling indignation would be, he bethonght
self that he was helping Martin now in a matter of great
nent, and that to deprive the latter of his assistance at such
•isis of affairs, would be to inflict a serious injury upon him.
■'So I'll keep it to myself," said Tom, with a sigh. "I'll keep
3 myself"

A.nd to work he went again, more assiduously than ever, with
pens, and the ruler, and the india-rubber, and the pencil, and
black ink, and the red ink, that he might forget it.
He had laboured away for another hour or more, when he
rd a footstep in the entry, down below.

"Ah!" said Tom, looking towards the door, "time was, not
J ago either, when that would have set me wondering and
acting. But I have left off now."
rhe footstep came on, up the stairs.

"Thirty-six, thirty-seven, thirty -eiglit," said Tom, counting,
ow you'll stop. Nobody ever comes past the thirty-eighth stair."
riic person did stop, certainly, but only to take breath ; for
the footstep came again. Forty, forty -one, forty-two, and so on.
The door stood open. As the tread advanced, Tom looked
latiently and eagerly towards it. When a figure came upon

landing, and arriving in the doorway, stopped and gazc<l at
I, he rose up from his chair, and half believerl he saw a spirit.
Old i\Iartin Chuzzlewit. The same whom he had left at Mr.
ksniff's, weak and sinking.

The same ! No, not the same, for this ohl man, though old,
I strong, and leaned upon his stick with a vigorous hand, while
h the other he signed to Tom to make no noise, (hw glance
;he resolute face, the watchful eye, the vigorous liand ujion the
T, the triumphant purpose in the figure, and such a light broke
)n Tom as blinded him.

"You have expected me," said Martin, "a long time."
"I was told that my employer would arrive soon," said Tom ;

" I know. You were ignorant who he was. It was my desire,
m glad it has been so well observed. I intended to have been
h you much sooner. I thought the time had come. I thought
nild know no more, and no worse, of him, than I did on that

when I saw you last. But I was wrong."

£.:: ^^




[e had by this time come up to Tom, and imw ho seized his hand.
I liave lived in his house, Pineli, and had liim fawning t)n
lays and weeks, and montlis. You know it. I liave suffered
to treat me like his tool and instrument. You know it ; you
seen mc there. I have undergone ten thousand times as
1 as I could have endured if I had been the miserable weak
nan he took me for. You know it. I have seen him offer
to Mary. You know it ; who better — who better, my true
!; ! I liave had his base soul bare before mc, day by day,
have not betrayed myself once. I never could have under-
such torture but for looking forward to this time."
[e stopped, even in the passion of his siieech ; if that can be
il passion which was so resolute and steady ; to press Tom's
,. again. Then he said, in gi-eat excitement :
Close the door, close the door. He w'ill not be long after
but may come too soon. The time now drawing on," said the
man, luirriedly : his eyes and whole face brightening as he
e: ''will make amends for all. I wouldn't have him die or
: himself, for millions of golden pieces ! Close the door ! "
om did so ; hardly knownng yet whether he was awake, or



'he night had now come, wlien tlic old clerk was to be delivered
to his keepers. In the midst of his guilty ilistractions, Jonas
not forgotten it.

t was a part of his guilty state of mind to remember it ; for
is i)ersistence in the scheme depended one of his ])recautions
lis own safety. A hint, a word, from the old man, uttered
nch a moment in attentive ears, might fire the train of
ieion, and destroy him. His watchfulness of every avenue
■hich the discovery of his guilt might be approached, sharpened
his sense of the danger by which he was encompassed. With
ler on his soul, and its innumerable alarms and terrors
ging at him night and day, he would have repeated the crime,
• had seen a path of safety stretching out beyond. It was in
imnishment ; it was in his guilty condition. Tiie very deed



which his fears rendered insupportable, his fears would h;
impelled him to commit again.

But keeping the old man close, according to his design, wojl
serve his turn. His purpose was, to escape, when the first ala'i
and wonder had subsided : and when he could make the atteii
without awakening instant suspicion. In the meanwhile tli
women would keep him quiet ; and if the talking humour ca
upon him, would not be easily startled. He knew their trade.
Nor had he spoken idly when he said the old man should
gagged. He had resolved to ensure his silence ; and he loril
to the end, not the means. He had been rough and rude ;
cruel to the old man all his life ; and violence was natural to
mind in connexion with him. " He shall be gagged if he spea
and pinioned if he writes," said Jonas, looking at him ; for tl
sat alone together. " He is mad enough for that ; I'll go throi
with it ! "
Hush !

Still listening ! To every sound. He had listened ever sii
and it had not come yet. The exposure of the Insurance offi
the flight of Crimple and Bullamy with the plunder, and ani^
the rest, as he feared, with his own bill, which he had not foi
in the pocket-book of the murdered man, and which with ;
Pecksniff's money had probably been remitted to one or otlui
those trusty friends for safe deposit at the banker's ; his imnie
losses, and peril of being still called to account as a i)artnei.
the broken firm ; all these things rose in his mind at one ti;
and always, but he could not contemplate them. He was a\v
of their presence, and of the rage, discomfiture, and despair, t
brought along with them ; but he thought — of his own controll
power and direction he thought — of the one dread question ui
Wlien they woidd find the body in the wood.

He tried — he had never left oft" trying — not to forget it '
there, for that was impossible, but to forget to weary himself
drawing vivid pictures of it in his fancy: by going softly ali
it and about it among the leaves, approaching it nearer and nc;
through a gap in the boughs, and startling the very flies t
were thickly sprinkled all over it, like heajDS of dried currai
His mind was fixed and fastened on the discovery, for intellig"'
of which he listened intently to every cry and shout ; listi'
when any one came in, or went out ; watched from the wini
the people who passed up and down the street ; and niistni^
his own looks and words. And the more his thoughts were
upon the discovery, the stronger was the fascination wl
attracted them to the thing itself: lying alone in the wood.


or ever showing and presenting it, as it were, to every
re -n-hom lie saw. " Look here ! Do you know of this ?
bund 1 Do you suspect me ? " If he had been condemned
IT the body in his arms, and lay it down for recognition at
;et of every one he met, it could not have been more
,utly with him, or a cause of more monotonous and dismal
ition than it was in this state of his mind.
11 he was not sorry. It was no contrition or remorse for
he had done that moved him ; it was nothing but alarm for
wn security. The vague consciousness he possessed of
J wrecked his fortune in the murderous venture, intensified
itred and revenge, and made him set the greater store by
he had gained. The man was dead ; nothing could undo
He felt a triumph yet, in the reflection.
! had kept a jealous watch on Chuftey, ever since the deed ;
1 leaving him but on compulsion, and then for as short
als as possible. They were alone altogether now. It was
lit, and the appointed time drew near at hand. Jonas
i up and down the room. Tlie old man sat in his accustomed

e slightest circumstance was matter of disquiet to the
:rer, and he was made uneasy at this time by the absence of
fe, who had left home early in the afternoon, and had not
ed yet. Xo tenderness for her was at the bottom of this ;
e had a misgiving that she might have been waylaid, and
ed into saying something that would ci-iminate him when
:W3 came. For anything he knew% she might have knocked
! door of his room, while he was away, and discovered his
Confound her, it was like her pale face, to be wandering
1 down the house ! Where was she now ?
)he went to her good friend, jNIrs. Todgers," said the old man,
he asked the question with an angry oath.
! To be sure ! always stealing away into the company of
roman. She was no friend of his. Who could tell what
I mischief they might hatch together 1 . Let her be fetched

e old man, muttering some words softly, rose as if he would
,'one himself, but Jonas thrust him back into his chair with
patient imprecation, and sent a servant-girl to fetch her.
he had charged her with her errand he walked to and fro
and never stopped till she came bark, which she did pretty
the way being short, and the woman having made good

i\\ ! Where was she ? Had she come t
3 b


No. She had left there, full three hours.

" Left there ! Alone 1 "

The messenger had not asked ; taking that for granted.

" Curse j'ou for a fool. Bring candles ! "

She had scarcely left the room, when the old clerk, who
been unusually observant of him ever since he had asked al
his wife, came suddenly upon him.

" Give her up ! " cried the old man. " Come ! Give hex-
to me ! Tell me what you have done with her. Quick ! I h
made no promises on that score. Tell me what you have d
with her."

He laid his hands upon his collar as he spoke, and grasped
tightly too.

" You shall not leave me ! " cried the old man. " I am sti
enough to cry out to the neighbours, and I will, unless you
her up. Give her up to me ! "

Jonas was so dismayed and conscience-stricken, that he
not even hardihood enough to unclench the old man's hands ^
his own ; but stood looking at him as well as he could in
darkness, without moving a finger. It was as much as he c^
do to ask him what he meant.

" I will know what you have done with her ! " retorted Chu
" If you hurt a hair of her head, you shall answer it. Poor tli
Poor thing ! Where is she 1 "

" Why, you old madman ! " said Jonas, in a low voice,
with trembling lips. " What Bedlam fit has come upon you n< •

" It is enough to make me mad, seeing what I have ser
this house ! " cried Chuft'ey. " Where is my dear old ma^-
Where is his only son that I have nursed upon my knee, a il
Where is she, she who was the last ; she that I've seen pi
day by day, and heard weeping in the dead of night ! Shf
the last, the last of all my friends 1 Heaven help me, she was
very last ! "

Seeing that tlie tears were stealing down his face, J
mustered courage to unclench his hands, and push him off bt i
he answered :

"Did you hear me ask for her ? Did you hear nie semi
her? How can I give you up what I liaven't got, idiot ! Ecoi!
give her up to you and welcome, if I could ; and a precious
you'd be ! "

"If she has come to any harm," cried Chuftey, "mind! '
old and silly ; but I have my memory sometimes ; and if she
come to any harm — "

"Devil take you," interrupted Jonas, but in a sujipressed ^'


" what harm do you suppose she has come to 1 I know no
wliere she is than you do ; I wish I did. Wait till she
! home, and see ; she can't be long. Will that content

Mind ! " exclaimed the old man. " Xot a hair of her head !

hair of her head ill-used ! I won't bear it. I — I — have

it too long, Jonas. I am silent, but I — I — I can speak.
—I can speak — " he stammered, as he crept back to his

and turned a threatening, though a feeble look upon him.
iTou can sj^eak, can you!" thought Jonas. "So, so, we'll
your speaking. It's well I knew of this in good time,
'iition is better than cure."

e had made a poor show of playing the bully and evincing
je to conciliate at the same time, but was so afraid of the
an that great drops had started out upon his brow ; and they

there yet. His unusual tone of voice and agitated manner
ufficiently expressed his fear ; but his face would have done
w, without that aid, as he again walked to and fro, glancing
n by the candle-light.

e stopped at the window to think. An opposite shop was
'd up ; and the tradesman and a customer were reading some
h1 bill together across the counter. The sight brought him

instantly, to the occupation he had forgotten. " Look here !
Du know of this 1 Is it found 1 Do you suspect me 1 "

hand upon the door. " What's that ! "
A pleasant evenin'," said the voice of Mrs. Gamp, "though
., which, bless you j\Ir. Chuzzlewit, we must expect when
irabers is three for twopence. How does Mr. Chuftey find
;lf to-night, Sir?"

rs. Gamp kept particularly close to the door in saying this,
lutseycd more than usual. She did not appear to be quite
ich at her ease as she generally was.

Get him to his room," said Jonas, walking up to her, and
:ing in her ear. " He has been raving to-night — stark mad.
t talk while he's here, but come down again."
Poor sweet dear ! " cried Mrs. Gamp, with uncommon tender-

" He's all of a tremble."
Well he may be," .said Jona.s, "after the mad fit he has had.
lira up stairs."

le was by this time assisting him to rise.
There's my blessed old chick ! " cried Mr.s. Gamji, in a tone
was at once soothing and encouraging. " There's my darlin'
^.'huffey ! Now come up to your own room, Sir, and lay down
our bed a bit ; for you're a shakiii' all over, as if your


precious jints was hung upon wires. That's a good ere
Come with Sairey ! "

" Is she come home ?" inquired the old man.

" She'll be here directly minnit," returned Mrs. G
" Come with Sairey, Mr. ChufFey. Come with your owu Sail

The good woman had no reference to any female in the woi
promising this speedy advent of the person for whom Mr. Ci
inquired, but merely threw it out as a means of pacifying th
man. It had its effect, for he permitted her to lead him a
and they quitted the room together.

Jonas looked out of the window again. They were still re:
the printed paper in the shop opposite, and a third man hadj
in the perusal. What could it be, to interest them so ?

A dispute or discussion seemed to rise among them, for th
looked up from their reading together, and one of the three,
had been glancing over the shoulder of another, stepped ba
explain or illustrate some action by his gestures.

Horror ! How like the blow he had struck in the wood !

It beat him from the window as if it had lighted on hii
As he staggered into a chair he thought of the change in
Gamp, exhibited in her new-born tenderness to her charge,
that because it was found 1 — because she knew of it ? — becaui
suspected him 1

" Mr. Chuffey is a lyin' down," said Mrs. Gamp, retu
"and much good may it do him, Mr. Chuzzlewit, which ha
can't and good it may : be joyful ! "

" Sit down," said Jonas, hoarsely, "and let us get this bu
done. Where is the other woman 1 "

"The other person's with him now," she answered.

" That's right," said Jonas. " He is not fit to be 1(
himself. Why, he fastened on me to-night ; here, upon my
like a savage dog. Old as he is, and feeble as he is usually, '
some trouble to shake him off. You — Hush ! — It's no
You told me the other woman's name. I forget it."

"I mentioned Betsey Prig," said Mrs. Gamp.

" She is to be trusted, is she ? "

" That she ain't ! " said Mrs. Gamp ; " nor have I brougli
Mr. Chuzzlewit. I've brought another, which engages tc :
every satigefaction."

" What is her name 1 " asked Jonas.

Mrs. Gamp looked at him in an odd way without returnir i
answer, but appeared to understand the question too.

" What is her name?" repeated Jonas.

"Her name," said Mrs. Gamp, "is Harris."


t was extraordinary how much effort it cost !iMrs. Gamp to
ounce the name she was commonly so ready with. She made
; three or four gasps before slie could get it out ; and, when she
uttered it, pressed her hand upon her side, and turned up her
, as if she were going to faint away. But, knowing her to
iir under a complication of internal disorders, which rendered a
drops of spirits indispensable at certain times to her existence,
which came on very strong when that remedy was not at hand,
IS merely supposed her to be the victim of one of these attacks.
Well ! " he said, hastily, for he felt how incapable he was of
ning his wandering attention to the subject. "You and she
' arranged to take care of him, have you 1 '"'
Irs. Gamp replied in the affirmative, and softly discharged
;lf of her familiar phrase, " Turn and turn about ; one off, one
But she spoke so tremulously that she felt called upon to

" which fiddle-strings is weakness to expredge my nerves this

onas stopped to listen. Then said, hurriedly :
■ We shall not quarrel about terms. Let them be the same as

were before. Keep him close, and keep him quiet. He
t be restrained. He has got it in his head to-night that my
's dead, and has been attacking me as if I had killed lier.
-it's common with mad people to take the worst iiincies of
e they like best. Isn't it t "
Irs. Gamp assented with a short groan.

' Keep him close, then, or in one of his fits he'll be doing me a
hief And don't trust him at any time ; for when he seems
: rational, he's wildest in his talk. But that you know already,
me see the other."

' The t'other person, Sir ? " said Mrs. Gamp.
'Ay! Go you to him and send the other. Quick I I'm

Irs. Gamp took two or three backward steps towards the door,

stopped there.

' It is your wishes, Mr. Chuzzlewit," she said, in a sort of

•ering croak, " to see the t'other person. Is it ? "

Jut the ghastly change in Jonas told lier that the other person

already seen. Before she could look round toward-s tlie door,

was put aside by old Martin's hand ; and ChuHey and John

tlock entered with him.

'Let no one leave the house," said Martin. "This man is my

licr's son. Ill-met, ill-trained, ill-begotten. If lie moves from

spot on which he stands, or speaks a word above his breath to

person here, fling up the window, and call for help ! "


"What right have you to give such directions in this houscf
asked Jonas faintly.

" The right of your wrong-doing. Come in there ! "

An irrepressible exclamation burst from the lips of Jouas,
Lewsome entered at the door. It was not a groan, or a shriek,
a word, but was wholly unlike any sound that had ever fallen
the ears of those whd heard it, while at the same time it was ■
most sharp and terrible expression of what was working in
guilty breast, that nature could have invented.

He had done murder for this ! He had girdled himself ah
with perils, agonies of mind, innumerable fears, for this ! He 1
hidden his secret in the wood ; pressed and stamped it down i
the bloody ground ; and here it started up when least expect
miles upon miles away ; known to many ; proclaiming itself fr
the lips of an old man who had renewed his strength and vig
as by a miracle, to give it voice against him !

He leaned his hand on the back of a chair, and looked at thi
It was in vain to try to do so, scornfully ; or with his ii;-
insolence. He required the chair for his support. But he m
a struggle for it.

" I know that fellow," he said, fetching his breath at ev
word, and pointing his trembling finger towards Lewsome. " I
the greatest liar alive. What's his last tale 1 Ha, ha ! Yci
rare fellows, too ! Why, that uncle of mine is childish ; 1 ■
even a greater child than his brother, my father, was, in his 1
age ; or than Chuffey is. What the devil do you mean," he ad( ,
looking fiercely at John AVestlock and Mark Tapley (the latter ! i
entered with Lewsome), " by coming here, and bringing two id ■
and a knave with you to take my house by storm. Hallo, the
Open the door ! Turn these strangers out ! "

"I tell you what," cried Mr. Tajiley, coming forward, "it
wasn't for your name, I'd drag you through the streets of my ' i
accord, and single-handed, I would! Ah, I would! Don't >
and look bold at me. You can't do it ! Now go on. Sir," ' >
was to old Martin. " Bring the murderin' wagabond upon js

Online LibraryCharles DickensLife and adventures of Martin Chuzzlewit → online text (page 74 of 80)