Charles Dickens.

Life and adventures of Martin Chuzzlewit online

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tallying with the very minute when I saw him returning hoi
The warrant has been out, and these ofticers have been with
some hours. We chose our time ; and seeing you come in, ;
seeing this person at the window — "

" Beckoned to him," said Mark, taking up the thread of
narrative, on hearing this allusion to himself, " to open the do'
which he did with a deal of pleasure."


That's all at present," said Nailgett, putting up his great
et-book, whicli from roere habit lie had produced when he
n his revelation, and had kept in his hand all the time ; " but
1 is plenty more to come. You asked me for the fiicts so far ;
ve related them, and need not detain these gentlemen any
;r. Are you ready, JMr. Slyme 1 "

And something more," replied that worthy, rising. "If you
round to the office, we shall be there as soon as you. Tom !
a coach ! "'

he officer to whom he spoke departed for that purpose. Old
in lingered for a few moments, as if he would liave addressed
1 words to Jonas ; but looking round, and seeing him still
d on the floor, rocking himself in a savage manner to and fro,
Chufteys arm, and slowly followed Nadgett out. John
ilock and Mark Tapley accomj^anied them. Mrs. Gamp had
red out first, for the better display of her feelings, in a kind
alking swoon ; for Mrs. Gamp performed swoons of diflerent
, upon a moderate notice, as Mr. Mould did Funerals.
Ha ! " muttered Slyme, looking after them. " Upon my
! As insensible of being disgraced by having such a nephew
yself, in such a situation, as he was of my being an honour
a credit to the family ! Tliat's the return I get for having
bled my spirit — such a spirit as mine — to earn a livelihood,

[e got up from his chair, and kicked it away indignantly.
And such a livelihood too ! When tliere are hundreds of
not fit to hold a candle to me, rolling in carriages and living
leir fortunes. Upon my soul it's a nice world ! "
[is eyes encountered Jonas, who looked earnestly towards him,
moved his lips as if he were whispering.
Eh ] " said Slyme.

onas glanced at the attendant whose back was towards him,
made a clumsy motion with his bound hands towards the door.
Humph!" said Slyme, thoughtfully. "I couldn't hope to
ace him into anything when you have shot so far ahead of
hough. I forgot that."^
onas repeated the same look and gesture.
Jack ! " said Slyme.
Hallo ! " returned his man.

Go down to the door, ready for the coach. Call out when
)me3. I'd rather have you there. Now then," he added,
ing hastily to Jonas, when the man was gone. "AVhat's the
onas es-sayed to rise.

3 c


" Stop a bit," said Slyme. "It's not so easy when your wri
are tiglit together. Now then ! Up ! What is it 1 "

" Put your hand in my pocket. Here ! The breast pock
on the left ! " said Jonas.

He did so ; and drew out a purse.

" There's a hundred pound in it," said Jonas, whose wo
were almost unintelligible ; as his face, in its pallor and ago
was scarcely human.

Slyme looked at him ; gave it into his hands ; and shook

"I can't. I daren't. I couldn't if I dared. Those felli
below — "

" Escape's impossible," said Jonas. " I know it. One hund
pound for only five minutes in the next room ! "

" What to do ? " he asked.

The face of his prisoner as he advanced to whisper in his •
made him recoil involuntarily. But he stopped and listened to li
The words were few, but his own face changed as he heard the

"I have it about me," said Jonas, putting his ha
to his throat, as though whatever he referred to, were hid '
in his neck-kerchief. " How should you know of it 1 How c<:
you know ? A hundred pound for only five minutes in the i
room ! The time's passing. Speak ! "

" It would be more — more creditable to the family," obsei ■
Slyme, with trembling lips. "I wish you hadn't told me hal '
much. Less would have served your purpose. You might 1
kept it to yourself."

"A hundred pound for only five minutes in the next ro(
Speak ! " cried Jonas, desperately.

He took the purse. Jonas, with a wild unsteady step, retre.
to the door in the glass partition.

"Stop ! " cried Slyme, catching at his skirts. "I don't k^'
about this. Yet it must end so at last. Are you guilty?" [

" Yes ! " said Jonas. '

"Are the proofs as they were told just now?"

" Yes ! " said Jonas.

" Will you — will you engage to say a — a Prayer, or somet li
of that sort 1 " faltered Slyme. '

Jonas broke from him without replying, and closed the "o
between them.

Slyme listened at the keyhole. After that, he crept awa )i
tiptoe, as far off" as he could ; and looked awfully towards li'
place. He was roused by the arrival of the coach, and ',-''
letting down the steps.


He's getting a few things together," he said, leaning out of

)w, and speaking to the two men below, who stood in the

ight of a street-lamp. " Keep your eye upon the back, one

u, for form's sake."

;ie of the men withdrew into the court. The other, seating

;lf on the steps of the coach, remained in C(invorsation with

e at the window : who perhaps had risen to be his superior,

rtue of his old propensity (once so much lauded by tlie

ered man) of being always round the corner. A useful habit

> present calling.

Where is he 1 " asked the man.

yme looked into the room for an instant and gave his head a

as nuich as to say, "Close at hand. I see him."

He"s booked," observed the man.

Through," said Slyme.

ley looked at each other, and up and down the street. The

on the coach-steiDS took his hat off, and put it on again, and

led a little.

I say ! He's taking his time ! " he remonstrated.

[ allowed him five minutes," said Slyme. " Time's more than

lough. I'll bring him down."

e withdrew from the window accordingly, and walked on

! to the door in the partition. He listened. There was not

ind within. He set the candles near it, that they might

through the glass.

was not easy, he found, to make up his mind to the opening
e door. But he flung it wide open suddenly, and with a
; then retreated. After peeping in and listening again, he
e started back as his eyes met those of Jonas, standing in an

of the wall, and staring at him. His neck-kerchief was otf ;

ce was ashy pale.

You're too soon," said Jonas, with an abject whimper. " I've

lad time. I have not been able to do it. I — live minutes

—two minutes more ! — Only one ! "

yme gave him no reply, but thrusting the purse ujjon him

orciiig it back into his pocket, called up his mun.

e whined, and cried, and cursed, and entreated them, and

gled, and submitted, in the same breatl),and had no power to

. But they got him away and into the coach, wlicre tlu-y put

)n a seat, but he soon fell moaning down among the straw ut

ottora, and lay there.

lie two men were with him ; Slyme being on tlie box with

river ; and they let him lie. Happening to pass a fruitorer's


on their way ; the door of which was open, though the shop -■
by this time shut ; one of them remarked how faint the peac

The other assented at the moment, but presently stooped dc
in quick alarm, and looked at the prisoner.

" Stop the coach ! He has poisoned himself ! The smell coi
from tliis bottle in his hand ! "

The hand had shut upon it tight. With that rigidity
grasp with which no living man, in the full strength and ene
of life, can clutch a prize he has won.

They dragged him out, into the dark street ; but jury, ju(
and hangman could have done no more, and could do nothing n'
Dead, dead, dead. !




Old Martin's cherished projects, so long hidden in his >
breast, so frequently in danger of abrupt disclosure through
bursting forth of the indignation he had hoarded up, during
residence with Mr. Pecksniff, were retarded, but not beyond a
hours, by the occurrences just now related. Stunned, as he
been at first by the intelligence conveyed to him through 1
Pinch and John Westlock, of the supposed manner of his brotl
death ; overwhelmed as he was by the subsequent narrative
Chuffey and Nadgett, and the forging of that chain of circ
stances ending in the death of Jonas, of wliich catastrophe he
immediately informed ; scattered as his pm-poses and hopes a
for the moment, by the crowding in of all these incidents betv
him and his end ; still their very intensity and the tumult of t i
assemblage nerved him to the rapid and unyielding executioi
his scheme. In every single circumstance, whether it were ci
cowardly, or false, he saw the flowering of the same pregnant s
Self; grasping, eager, narrow-ranging, over-reaching self; witl,
long train of suspicions, lusts, deceits, and all their gro\
consequences ; was the root of the vile tree. Mr. Pecksniff '
so presented his character before the old man's eyes, that he-
good, the tolerant, enduring Pecksniff — had become the incanKi
of all selfishness and treachery ; and the more odious the sli
in which those vices ranged themselves before him now,
sterner consolation he had in his design of setting Mr, Peck
right, and Mr, Pecksniff's victims too.


'o this work he brought, not only the energy and determination
ral to his character (which, as the reader may have observed
16 beginning of his or her acquaintance with this gentleman,

remarkable for the strong development of those quahties),
all the forced and inmaturally nurtured energy consecjucnt
I their long suppression. And these two tides of resolution
ng into one and sweeping on, became so strong and vigorous,
, to prevent themselves from being carried away before it,
ren knows where, Avas as much as John Westlock and Mark
ey together (though they were tolerably energetic too) could
ige to effect.

[e had sent for John Westlock immediately on his arrival ;
John, under the conduct of Tom Pinch, had waited on him.
ing a lively recollection of Mr. Tapley, he had caused that
leman's attendance to be secured, through John's means,
out delay ; and thus, as we have seen, they had all repaired,
ther, to the City. But his grandson he had refused to see
. to-morrow, when Mr. Tapley was instructed to summon him
le Temple at ten o'clock in the forenoon. Tom he would not
V to be employed in anything, lest he should be wrongfully
ected ; but he was a party to all their proceedings, and was

them until late at night — until after they knew of the
h of Jonas ; when he w-ent home to tell all these wonders to
! Piuth, and to prepare her for accompanying him to the
pie in the morning, agreeably to Mr. Chuzzlewit'.s particular

t was characteristic of old Martin, and his looking on t<»
ithiug which he had distinctly before him, that he communi-
1 to them nothing of his intentions, beyond such hints of
sal on Mr. Pecksniff as they gathered from the game lie had'
ed in that gentleman's house, and the brightening of his eyes
aever his name ^Y■^^s mentioned. Even to Jolin Westlock, in
111 he was evidently disposed to place great confidence (which
indeed be said of every one of them), he gave no explanation
tever. He merely requested him to return in the morning ;
with this for their utmost satisfaction, they left him, when the
t was far advanced, alone.

'he events of such a day might have worn out the body and
t of a much younger man than he, Init he sat in deep and
ful meditation imtil the morning was bright. Nor did he

then seek any prolonged repose, but merely sluiiibered in his
r, until seven o'clock, when Mr. Tapley had appointed to come
im by his desire : and came — as fresh and clean and cheerful
le morning itself.


" You are punctual," said ]Mr. Chuzzlewit, opening the door
him in reply to his light knock, which had roused him instantly

" My wishes, Sir," replied Mr. Tapley, whose mind woi
appear from the context to have been running on the matrimon
service, " is to love, honour, and obe}'. The clock's a-striki
now. Sir."

" Come in ! "

" Thank'ee, Sir," rejoined Mr. Tapley, "what could I do
you first, Sir 1 "'

" You gave my message to Martin 1 " said the old man, bendii
his eyes upon him.

"I did. Sir," returned Mark; "and you never see a geutlen
more surprised in all your born days than he was."

"What more did you tell himT' Mr. Chuzzlewit inquired.

" Why, Sir," said Mr. Tapley, smiling, " I should have liked
tell him a deal more, but not being able, Sir, I didn't tell

" You told him all you knew ? "

"But it was precious little. Sir," retorted Mr. Tapley. "Th
was very little resjiectin' you that I was able to tell him, '
I only mentioned my opinion that Mr. Pecksniff would f
himself deceived. Sir, and that you would find yourself deceiv
and that he would find himself deceived. Sir."

" In wliat 1 " asked Mr. Chuzzlewit.

" Meaning him. Sir 1 "

" Meaning both him and me."

"Well, Sir," said Mr. Tapley. "In your old opinions of c:
other. As to him, Su', and his opinions, I know he's a alte
man. I know it. I know'd it long afore he spoke to you t'ot
• day, and I must say it. Nobody don't know half as much of 1
as I do. Nobody can't. There was alw^ays a deal of good in li
but a little of it got crusted over, somehow. I can't say v
rolled the paste of that 'ere crust myself, but "

"Go on," said Martin. "Why do you stop?"

" But it — well ! I beg your pardon, but I think it may h; '
been you, Sir. Unintentional I think it may have been \ •
I don't believe that neither of you gave the other quite a .''
chance. There ! Now I've got rid on it," said Mr. Tapley iv}
fit of desperation : "I can't go a carryin' it about in my oa
mind, bustin' myself with it ; yesterday was quite long enouii.
It's out now. I can't help it. I'm sorry for it. Don't wisit.t
on him. Sir, that's all."

It was clear that Mark expected to be ordered out immediati ,
and was quite prepared to go.


So you thiuk," said Martin, "that his old faults are, in some
?e, of my creation, do you? "

Well, Sir," retorted j\Ir. Tapley, " I'm wery sorry, but I can't
y it. It's hardly fair of you. Sir, to make a ignorant man
'ict himself in this way, but I do think so. I am as respectful
)sed to you, Sir, as a man can be ; but I do think so."
he light of a faint smile seemed to break through the dull
liness of Martin's face, as he looked attentively at him, with-

Yet you are an ignorant man, you say," he observed, after a

Wery much so," Mr. Tapley replied.
And I a learned, well-instructed man, you think 1 "
Likewise wery much so," Mr. Tapley answered,
'he old man, with his cliin resting on his hand, paced the room
i or thrice before he added :
You have left him this morning 1 "
Come straight from him now. Sir."
For what : does he suppose 1 "

He don't know Avot to suppose, Sir, no more tlian myself. I
him jest wot passed yesterday. Sir, and that you had said to me,
1 you be here by seven in the morning 1 ' and that you had said
m, through me, ' Can you be here by ten in the morning 1 ' and
I iiad said 'Yes' to both. That's all, Sir."
lis frankness was so genuine that it plainly icas all.
Perhaps," said Martin, ''he may think you are going to
rt him, and to serve me t "

I have served him in that sort of Avay, Sir," replied Mark,
out the loss of any atom of his self-po.ssession ; " and we have
that sort of companions in misfortune, that my 0|jinion is, he
t beUeve a word on it. IS'o more than you do, Sir."
• Will you help me to dress 1 and get me some breakfiist from
liotel 1 '■' asked Martin.
' With pleasure, Sir," said Mark.

■And by-and-by," pursued Martin, "remaining in tlie room,
wish you to do, will you attend to the door yonder— give
is.sion to visitors, I mean, when they knock ? "
'Certainly, Sir," said Mr. Tapley.

'You will not find it necessary to exi)res8 surprise at their
;arance," Martin suggested.

' Oh dear, no. Sir ! " said Mr. Tapley, " not at all."
Uthough he pledged himself to this with perfect confidence, he
in a state of unbounded astonishment even now. Martin
;ared to observe it, and to have some sense of the ludicrous


bearing of Mr. Tapley uuder these perplexing circumstances ;
in spite of the composure of his voice and the gravity of liis fa
the same indistinct light flickered on the latter several tim
Mark bestirred himself, however, to execute the offices "with wh
he was entrusted ; and soon lost all tendency to any outw;
expression of his surprise, in the occupation of being brisk a

But when he had put Mr. Chuzzlewit's clothes in good ore
for dressing, and when that gentleman was dressed and sitting
his breakfast, Mr. Tapley's feelings of wonder began to return iipj
him with great violence ; and, standing beside the old man witl:
napkin under his arm (it was as natural and easy a joke to M;
to be a butler in the Temple, as it had been to volunteer as cc
on board the Screw), he found it difficult to resist the temptati
of casting sidelong glances at him very often. Nay, he found,
impossible ; and accordingly yielded to this impulse so often, tl
Martin caught him in the fiict some fifty times. Tlie extraordiDfj
things Mr. Tapley did with his own face when any of tht'
detections occurred ; the sudden occasions he had to rub his e;
or his nose or his chin ; the look of wisdom with which
immediately plunged into the deepest thought, or became intenst
interested in the habits and customs of the flies upon the ceihi
or the sparrows out of doors ; or the overwhelming politeness w
which he endeavoured to hide his confusion by handing the muft
may not unreasonably be assumed to have exercised the utm^
power of feature that even Martin Chuzzlewit the elder possesse

But he sat perfectly quiet and took his breakfast at his leisu
or made a show of doing so, for he scarcely ate or drank, a
frequently lapsed into long intervals of musing. When he h
finished, Mark sat down to his breakfast at the same table ; a
Mr. Chuzzlewit, quite silent still, walked up and down the rooii

Mark cleared away in due course, and set a chair out for hi
in which, as the time drew on towards ten o'clock, he took his se
leaning his hands upon his stick, and clenching them upon 1
handle, and resting his chin on them again. All his impatiei
and abstraction of manner had vanished now ; and as he sat the
looking, with his keen eyes, steadily towards the door, Mai'k coi
not help thinking what a firm, square, powerful face it was;,
exulting in the thought that Mr. Pecksniff, after playing a pre'
long game of bowls witli its owner, seemed to be at last in a vi
fair way of coming in for a rubber or two.

Mark's uncertainty in respect of what was going to be done
said, and by whom to whom, would have excited him in its(
But knowing for a certainty, besides, that young Martin v


ig, aud ill a very few minutes must arrive, he found it by no
s easy to remain quiet and silent. But, excepting that he
ioually couglied iu a hollow and unnatural manner to relieve
jlf, he behaved with great decorum through the longest ten
tes he had ever known.

knock at the door. Mr. Westlock. Mr. Tapley, in admitting
raised his eyebrows to the highest possible pitch, implying
by that he considered himself in an unsatisfactory position.
^huzzle'W'it received him very courteously,
^ark waited at the door for Tom Pinch and his sister, who
coming up the stairs. The old man went to meet them ;
her hands iu his ; and kissed her on the cheek. As this
d promising, Mr. Tapley smiled beniguautly.
J. Chuzzlewit had resumed his chair, before young Martin,
was close behind them, entered. The old man, scarcely
ug at him, pointed to a distant seat. This was less encourag-
and Mr. Tapley's spirits fell again.

e was quickly summoned to the door by another knock. He
lot start, or cry, or tumble down, at sight of Miss Graham and
Lupin, but he drew a very long breath, aud came back
ctly resigned, looking on tliem and on the rest with an
?ssion which seemed to say, that nothing could surprise him
more ; and that he was rather glad to have done with that
.tion for ever.

he old man received Mary no less tenderly than he had
i'ed Tom Pinch's sister. A look of friendly recognition passed
eeu himself and Mrs. Lupin, which implied the existence of a
ct understanding between them. It engendered no astonish-
in Mr. Tapley ; for, as he afterwards observed, he hadj^etired
the business, and sold off the stock.

ot the least curious feature in this assemblage was, that
body present was so much surprised and embarra-ssed by the
of everybody else, that nobody ventured to speak. Mr.
izlewit alone broke silence.

Set the door open, Mark ! " he said ; '• and come here."
c obeyed.

he last appointed footstep sounded now upon the staii-s.
• all knew it. It was Mr. Pecksniffs ; and Mr. Pecksniff was
hiury too, for he came bounding up with such uucommou
Jition that he stumbled twice or thrice.

Where is my venerable friend ! " he cried, upon the upper
ing ; and tlien with open arms came darting in.
'Id Martin merely looked at him ; but Mr. Pecksniff started
as if he had received the charge of an electric battery.


" My venerable frieud is well 1 " cried Mr. Pecksnift'.

" Quite well."

It seemed to reassure the anxious inquirer, He clasped
hands, and, looking upward with a pious joy, silently expressed
gratitude. He then looked round on the assembled group,
shook his head reproachfully. For such a man severely, q

" Oh, vermin ! " said Mr. Pecksniff. " Oh, bloodsuckers !
not enough that you have embittered the existence of an indivic
wholly uuparalleled in the biographical records of amiable pers
but must you now, even now, when he has made his election,
reposed his trust in a Numble, but at least sincere and disinters
relative ; must you now, vermin and swarmers (I regret to n
use of these strong expressions, my dear Sir, but there are t:
when honest indignation will not be controlled), must you i
vermin and swarmers (for I will repeat it), taking advantaj
his unprotected state, assemble round him from all quartern
wolves and vultures, and other animals of the feathered '
I assemble round — I will not say round carrion or a cafcs^i
Mr. Chuzzlewit is quite the contrary — but round their prey ; '
prey ; to rifle and despoil ; gorging their voracious maws,
staining their offensive beaks, with every description of carnivc
enjoyment ! "

As he stopped to fetch his breath, he waved them off,
solemn manner, with his hand.

" Horde of unnatural plunderers and robbers ! " he contin
" leave him ! leave him, I say ! Begone ! Abscond ! You
better be off ! Wander over the face of the earth, young Sirs.!
vagabonds as you are, and do not presume to remain in a|
which is hallowed by the grey hairs of the patriarchal gentli
to whose tottering limbs I have the honour to act as an unwc
but I hope an unassuming, prop and staff. And you, my ti
Sir," said Mr. Pecksniff, addressing himself in a tone of g
remonstrance to the old man, " how could you ever leave me, th^
even for this short period ! You have absented yourself, I di
doubt, upon some act of kindness to me ; bless you for it : buff
must not do it ; you must not be so venturesome. I should i '1
be angry with you if I could, my friend ! "

He advanced with outstretched arms to take the old 1 1
hand. But he had not seen how the hand clasped and chit
the stick within its grasp. As he came smiling on, ant :
within his reach, old Martin, with his burning indignation ore
into one vehement burst, and flashing out of every line!
wrinkle in his face, rose up, and struck him down upon tlie gn





With such a well-directed nervous blow, that down lie went,
heavily and true as if the charge of a Life-Guardsman had tumb
him out of a saddle. And whether he was stunned bj' the sho
or only confused by the wonder and novelty of this warm recepti
he did not offer to get up again ; but lay there, looking about h:
with a disconcerted meekness in his face so enormously ridicule
that neither Mark Tapley nor John Westlock could repress a sm
though both were actively interposing to prevent a repetition of
blow ; which the old man's gleaming eyes and vigorous attiti
seemed to render one of the most probable events in the world.

"Drag him away ! Take him out of my reach ! " said Mar
" Or I can't help it. The strong restraint I have put ui)ou

Online LibraryCharles DickensLife and adventures of Martin Chuzzlewit → online text (page 76 of 80)