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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesMartin Chuzzlewit - Chapter THIRTY-SIX
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Martin Chuzzlewit - Chapter THIRTY-SIX Post by :stephe1 Category :Long Stories Author :Charles Dickens Date :January 2011 Read :2058

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Martin Chuzzlewit - Chapter THIRTY-SIX

TOM PINCH DEPARTS TO SEEK HIS FORTUNE. WHAT HE FINDS AT STARTING

 

Oh! What a different town Salisbury was in Tom Pinch's eyes to be

sure, when the substantial Pecksniff of his heart melted away into

an idle dream! He possessed the same faith in the wonderful shops,

the same intensified appreciation of the mystery and wickedness of

the place; made the same exalted estimate of its wealth, population,

and resources; and yet it was not the old city nor anything like it.

He walked into the market while they were getting breakfast ready

for him at the Inn; and though it was the same market as of old,

crowded by the same buyers and sellers; brisk with the same

business; noisy with the same confusion of tongues and cluttering of

fowls in coops; fair with the same display of rolls of butter, newly

made, set forth in linen cloths of dazzling whiteness; green with

the same fresh show of dewy vegetables; dainty with the same array

in higglers' baskets of small shaving-glasses, laces, braces,

trouser-straps, and hardware; savoury with the same unstinted show

of delicate pigs' feet, and pies made precious by the pork that once

had walked upon them; still it was strangely changed to Tom. For,

in the centre of the market-place, he missed a statue he had set up

there as in all other places of his personal resort; and it looked

cold and bare without that ornament.

 

The change lay no deeper than this, for Tom was far from being sage

enough to know, that, having been disappointed in one man, it would

have been a strictly rational and eminently wise proceeding to have

revenged himself upon mankind in general, by mistrusting them one

and all. Indeed this piece of justice, though it is upheld by the

authority of divers profound poets and honourable men, bears a

nearer resemblance to the justice of that good Vizier in the

Thousand-and-one Nights, who issues orders for the destruction of

all the Porters in Bagdad because one of that unfortunate fraternity

is supposed to have misconducted himself, than to any logical, not

to say Christian, system of conduct, known to the world in later

times.

 

Tom had so long been used to steep the Pecksniff of his fancy in his

tea, and spread him out upon his toast, and take him as a relish

with his beer, that he made but a poor breakfast on the first

morning after his expulsion. Nor did he much improve his appetite

for dinner by seriously considering his own affairs, and taking

counsel thereon with his friend the organist's assistant.

 

The organist's assistant gave it as his decided opinion that

whatever Tom did, he must go to London; for there was no place like

it. Which may be true in the main, though hardly, perhaps, in

itself, a sufficient reason for Tom's going there.

 

But Tom had thought of London before, and had coupled with it

thoughts of his sister, and of his old friend John Westlock, whose

advice he naturally felt disposed to seek in this important crisis

of his fortunes. To London, therefore, he resolved to go; and he

went away to the coach-office at once, to secure his place. The

coach being already full, he was obliged to postpone his departure

until the next night; but even this circumstance had its bright side

as well as its dark one, for though it threatened to reduce his poor

purse with unexpected country charges, it afforded him an

opportunity of writing to Mrs Lupin and appointing his box to be

brought to the old finger-post at the old time; which would enable

him to take that treasure with him to the metropolis, and save the

expense of its carriage. 'So,' said Tom, comforting himself, 'it's

very nearly as broad as it's long.'

 

And it cannot be denied that, when he had made up his mind to even

this extent, he felt an unaccustomed sense of freedom--a vague and

indistinct impression of holiday-making--which was very luxurious.

He had his moments of depression and anxiety, and they were, with

good reason, pretty numerous; but still, it was wonderfully pleasant

to reflect that he was his own master, and could plan and scheme for

himself. It was startling, thrilling, vast, difficult to

understand; it was a stupendous truth, teeming with responsibility

and self-distrust; but in spite of all his cares, it gave a curious

relish to the viands at the Inn, and interposed a dreamy haze

between him and his prospects, in which they sometimes showed to

magical advantage.

 

In this unsettled state of mind, Tom went once more to bed in the

low four-poster, to the same immovable surprise of the effigies of

the former landlord and the fat ox; and in this condition, passed

the whole of the succeeding day. When the coach came round at last

with 'London' blazoned in letters of gold upon the boot, it gave Tom

such a turn, that he was half disposed to run away. But he didn't

do it; for he took his seat upon the box instead, and looking down

upon the four greys, felt as if he were another grey himself, or, at

all events, a part of the turn-out; and was quite confused by the

novelty and splendour of his situation.

 

And really it might have confused a less modest man than Tom to find

himself sitting next that coachman; for of all the swells that ever

flourished a whip professionally, he might have been elected

emperor. He didn't handle his gloves like another man, but put them

on--even when he was standing on the pavement, quite detached from

the coach--as if the four greys were, somehow or other, at the ends

of the fingers. It was the same with his hat. He did things with

his hat, which nothing but an unlimited knowledge of horses and the

wildest freedom of the road, could ever have made him perfect in.

Valuable little parcels were brought to him with particular

instructions, and he pitched them into this hat, and stuck it on

again; as if the laws of gravity did not admit of such an event as

its being knocked off or blown off, and nothing like an accident

could befall it. The guard, too! Seventy breezy miles a day were

written in his very whiskers. His manners were a canter; his

conversation a round trot. He was a fast coach upon a down-hill

turnpike road; he was all pace. A waggon couldn't have moved

slowly, with that guard and his key-bugle on the top of it.

 

These were all foreshadowings of London, Tom thought, as he sat upon

the box, and looked about him. Such a coachman, and such a guard,

never could have existed between Salisbury and any other place. The

coach was none of your steady-going, yokel coaches, but a

swaggering, rakish, dissipated London coach; up all night, and lying

by all day, and leading a devil of a life. It cared no more for

Salisbury than if it had been a hamlet. It rattled noisily through

the best streets, defied the Cathedral, took the worst corners

sharpest, went cutting in everywhere, making everything get out of

its way; and spun along the open country-road, blowing a lively

defiance out of its key-bugle, as its last glad parting legacy.

 

It was a charming evening. Mild and bright. And even with the

weight upon his mind which arose out of the immensity and

uncertainty of London, Tom could not resist the captivating sense of

rapid motion through the pleasant air. The four greys skimmed

along, as if they liked it quite as well as Tom did; the bugle was

in as high spirits as the greys; the coachman chimed in sometimes

with his voice; the wheels hummed cheerfully in unison; the brass

work on the harness was an orchestra of little bells; and thus, as

they went clinking, jingling, rattling smoothly on, the whole

concern, from the buckles of the leaders' coupling-reins to the

handle of the hind boot, was one great instrument of music.

 

Yoho, past hedges, gates, and trees; past cottages and barns, and

people going home from work. Yoho, past donkey-chaises, drawn aside

into the ditch, and empty carts with rampant horses, whipped up at a

bound upon the little watercourse, and held by struggling carters

close to the five-barred gate, until the coach had passed the narrow

turning in the road. Yoho, by churches dropped down by themselves

in quiet nooks, with rustic burial-grounds about them, where the

graves are green, and daisies sleep--for it is evening--on the

bosoms of the dead. Yoho, past streams, in which the cattle cool

their feet, and where the rushes grow; past paddock-fences, farms,

and rick-yards; past last year's stacks, cut, slice by slice, away,

and showing, in the waning light, like ruined gables, old and brown.

Yoho, down the pebbly dip, and through the merry water-splash and up

at a canter to the level road again. Yoho! Yoho!

 

Was the box there, when they came up to the old finger-post? The

box! Was Mrs Lupin herself? Had she turned out magnificently as a

hostess should, in her own chaise-cart, and was she sitting in a

mahogany chair, driving her own horse Dragon (who ought to have been

called Dumpling), and looking lovely? Did the stage-coach pull up

beside her, shaving her very wheel, and even while the guard helped

her man up with the trunk, did he send the glad echoes of his bugle

careering down the chimneys of the distant Pecksniff, as if the

coach expressed its exultation in the rescue of Tom Pinch?

 

'This is kind indeed!' said Tom, bending down to shake hands with

her. 'I didn't mean to give you this trouble.'

 

'Trouble, Mr Pinch!' cried the hostess of the Dragon.

 

'Well! It's a pleasure to you, I know,' said Tom, squeezing her hand

heartily. 'Is there any news?'

 

The hostess shook her head.

 

'Say you saw me,' said Tom, 'and that I was very bold and cheerful,

and not a bit down-hearted; and that I entreated her to be the same,

for all is certain to come right at last. Good-bye!'

 

'You'll write when you get settled, Mr Pinch?' said Mrs Lupin.

 

'When I get settled!' cried Tom, with an involuntary opening of his

eyes. 'Oh, yes, I'll write when I get settled. Perhaps I had

better write before, because I may find that it takes a little time

to settle myself; not having too much money, and having only one

friend. I shall give your love to the friend, by the way. You were

always great with Mr Westlock, you know. Good-bye!'

 

'Good-bye!' said Mrs Lupin, hastily producing a basket with a long

bottle sticking out of it. 'Take this. Good-bye!'

 

'Do you want me to carry it to London for you?' cried Tom. She was

already turning the chaise-cart round.

 

'No, no,' said Mrs Lupin. 'It's only a little something for

refreshment on the road. Sit fast, Jack. Drive on, sir. All

right! Good-bye!'

 

She was a quarter of a mile off, before Tom collected himself; and

then he was waving his hand lustily; and so was she.

 

'And that's the last of the old finger-post,' thought Tom, straining

his eyes, 'where I have so often stood to see this very coach go by,

and where I have parted with so many companions! I used to compare

this coach to some great monster that appeared at certain times to

bear my friends away into the world. And now it's bearing me away,

to seek my fortune, Heaven knows where and how!'

 

It made Tom melancholy to picture himself walking up the lane and

back to Pecksniff's as of old; and being melancholy, he looked

downwards at the basket on his knee, which he had for the moment

forgotten.

 

'She is the kindest and most considerate creature in the world,'

thought Tom. 'Now I KNOW that she particularly told that man of

hers not to look at me, on purpose to prevent my throwing him a

shilling! I had it ready for him all the time, and he never once

looked towards me; whereas that man naturally, (for I know him very

well,) would have done nothing but grin and stare. Upon my word,

the kindness of people perfectly melts me.'

 

Here he caught the coachman's eye. The coachman winked.

'Remarkable fine woman for her time of life,' said the coachman.

 

'I quite agree with you,' returned Tom. 'So she is.'

 

'Finer than many a young 'un, I mean to say,' observed the coachman.

'Eh?'

 

'Than many a young one,' Tom assented.

 

'I don't care for 'em myself when they're too young,' remarked the

coachman.

 

This was a matter of taste, which Tom did not feel himself called

upon to discuss.

 

'You'll seldom find 'em possessing correct opinions about

refreshment, for instance, when they're too young, you know,' said

the coachman; 'a woman must have arrived at maturity, before her

mind's equal to coming provided with a basket like that.'

 

'Perhaps you would like to know what it contains?' said Tom,

smiling.

 

As the coachman only laughed, and as Tom was curious himself, he

unpacked it, and put the articles, one by one, upon the footboard.

A cold roast fowl, a packet of ham in slices, a crusty loaf, a piece

of cheese, a paper of biscuits, half a dozen apples, a knife, some

butter, a screw of salt, and a bottle of old sherry. There was a

letter besides, which Tom put in his pocket.

 

The coachman was so earnest in his approval of Mrs Lupin's provident

habits, and congratulated Torn so warmly on his good fortune, that

Tom felt it necessary, for the lady's sake, to explain that the

basket was a strictly Platonic basket, and had merely been presented

to him in the way of friendship. When he had made the statement

with perfect gravity; for he felt it incumbent on him to disabuse

the mind of this lax rover of any incorrect impressions on the

subject; he signified that he would be happy to share the gifts with

him, and proposed that they should attack the basket in a spirit of

good fellowship at any time in the course of the night which the

coachman's experience and knowledge of the road might suggest, as

being best adapted to the purpose. From this time they chatted so

pleasantly together, that although Tom knew infinitely more of

unicorns than horses, the coachman informed his friend the guard at

the end of the next stage, 'that rum as the box-seat looked, he was

as good a one to go, in pint of conversation, as ever he'd wish to

sit by.'

 

Yoho, among the gathering shades; making of no account the deep

reflections of the trees, but scampering on through light and

darkness, all the same, as if the light of London fifty miles away,

were quite enough to travel by, and some to spare. Yoho, beside the

village green, where cricket-players linger yet, and every little

indentation made in the fresh grass by bat or wicket, ball or

player's foot, sheds out its perfume on the night. Away with four

fresh horses from the Bald-faced Stag, where topers congregate about

the door admiring; and the last team with traces hanging loose, go

roaming off towards the pond, until observed and shouted after by a

dozen throats, while volunteering boys pursue them. Now, with a

clattering of hoofs and striking out of fiery sparks, across the old

stone bridge, and down again into the shadowy road, and through the

open gate, and far away, away, into the wold. Yoho!

 

Yoho, behind there, stop that bugle for a moment! Come creeping over

to the front, along the coach-roof, guard, and make one at this

basket! Not that we slacken in our pace the while, not we; we rather

put the bits of blood upon their metal, for the greater glory of the

snack. Ah! It is long since this bottle of old wine was brought

into contact with the mellow breath of night, you may depend, and

rare good stuff it is to wet a bugler's whistle with. Only try it.

Don't be afraid of turning up your finger, Bill, another pull! Now,

take your breath, and try the bugle, Bill. There's music! There's a

tone!' over the hills and far away,' indeed. Yoho! The skittish

mare is all alive to-night. Yoho! Yoho!

 

See the bright moon! High up before we know it; making the earth

reflect the objects on its breast like water. Hedges, trees, low

cottages, church steeples, blighted stumps and flourishing young

slips, have all grown vain upon the sudden, and mean to contemplate

their own fair images till morning. The poplars yonder rustle that

their quivering leaves may see themselves upon the ground. Not so

the oak; trembling does not become HIM; and he watches himself in

his stout old burly steadfastness, without the motion of a twig.

The moss-grown gate, ill-poised upon its creaking hinges, crippled

and decayed swings to and fro before its glass, like some fantastic

dowager; while our own ghostly likeness travels on, Yoho! Yoho!

through ditch and brake, upon the ploughed land and the smooth,

along the steep hillside and steeper wall, as if it were a phantom-

Hunter.

 

Clouds too! And a mist upon the Hollow! Not a dull fog that hides

it, but a light airy gauze-like mist, which in our eyes of modest

admiration gives a new charm to the beauties it is spread before; as

real gauze has done ere now, and would again, so please you, though

we were the Pope. Yoho! Why now we travel like the Moon herself.

Hiding this minute in a grove of trees; next minute in a patch of

vapour; emerging now upon our broad clear course; withdrawing now,

but always dashing on, our journey is a counter-part of hers. Yoho!

A match against the Moon!

 

The beauty of the night is hardly felt, when Day comes rushing up.

Yoho! Two stages, and the country roads are almost changed to a

continuous street. Yoho, past market-gardens, rows of houses,

villas, crescents, terraces, and squares; past waggons, coaches,

carts; past early workmen, late stragglers, drunken men, and sober

carriers of loads; past brick and mortar in its every shape; and in

among the rattling pavements, where a jaunty-seat upon a coach is

not so easy to preserve! Yoho, down countless turnings, and through

countless mazy ways, until an old Innyard is gained, and Tom Pinch,

getting down quite stunned and giddy, is in London!

 

'Five minutes before the time, too!' said the driver, as he received

his fee of Tom.

 

'Upon my word,' said Tom, 'I should not have minded very much, if we

had been five hours after it; for at this early hour I don't know

where to go, or what to do with myself.'

 

'Don't they expect you then?' inquired the driver.

 

'Who?' said Tom.

 

'Why them,' returned the driver.

 

His mind was so clearly running on the assumption of Tom's having

come to town to see an extensive circle of anxious relations and

friends, that it would have been pretty hard work to undeceive him.

Tom did not try. He cheerfully evaded the subject, and going into

the Inn, fell fast asleep before a fire in one of the public rooms

opening from the yard. When he awoke, the people in the house were

all astir, so he washed and dressed himself; to his great

refreshment after the journey; and, it being by that time eight

o'clock, went forth at once to see his old friend John.

 

John Westlock lived in Furnival's Inn, High Holborn, which was

within a quarter of an hour's walk of Tom's starting-point, but

seemed a long way off, by reason of his going two or three miles out

of the straight road to make a short cut. When at last he arrived

outside John's door, two stories up, he stood faltering with his

hand upon the knocker, and trembled from head to foot. For he was

rendered very nervous by the thought of having to relate what had

fallen out between himself and Pecksniff; and he had a misgiving

that John would exult fearfully in the disclosure.

 

'But it must be made,' thought Tom, 'sooner or later; and I had

better get it over.'

 

Rat tat.

 

'I am afraid that's not a London knock,' thought Tom. 'It didn't

sound bold. Perhaps that's the reason why nobody answers the door.'

 

It is quite certain that nobody came, and that Tom stood looking at

the knocker; wondering whereabouts in the neighbourhood a certain

gentleman resided, who was roaring out to somebody 'Come in!' with

all his might.

 

'Bless my soul!' thought Tom at last. 'Perhaps he lives here, and

is calling to me. I never thought of that. Can I open the door

from the outside, I wonder. Yes, to be sure I can.'

 

To be sure he could, by turning the handle; and to be sure when he

did turn it the same voice came rushing out, crying 'Why don't you

come in? Come in, do you hear? What are you standing there for?'--

quite violently.

 

Tom stepped from the little passage into the room from which these

sounds proceeded, and had barely caught a glimpse of a gentleman in

a dressing-gown and slippers (with his boots beside him ready to put

on), sitting at his breakfast with a newspaper in his hand, when the

said gentleman, at the imminent hazard of oversetting his tea-table,

made a plunge at Tom, and hugged him.

 

'Why, Tom, my boy!' cried the gentleman. 'Tom!'

 

'How glad I am to see you, Mr Westlock!' said Tom Pinch, shaking

both his hands, and trembling more than ever. 'How kind you are!'

 

'Mr Westlock!' repeated John, 'what do you mean by that, Pinch? You

have not forgotten my Christian name, I suppose?'

 

'No, John, no. I have not forgotten,' said Thomas Pinch. 'Good

gracious me, how kind you are!'

 

'I never saw such a fellow in all my life!' cried John. 'What do

you mean by saying THAT over and over again? What did you expect me

to be, I wonder! Here, sit down, Tom, and be a reasonable creature.

How are you, my boy? I am delighted to see you!'

 

'And I am delighted to see YOU,' said Tom.

 

'It's mutual, of course,' returned John. 'It always was, I hope.

If I had known you had been coming, Tom, I would have had something

for breakfast. I would rather have such a surprise than the best

breakfast in the world, myself; but yours is another case, and I

have no doubt you are as hungry as a hunter. You must make out as

well as you can, Tom, and we'll recompense ourselves at dinner-time.

You take sugar, I know; I recollect the sugar at Pecksniff's. Ha,

ha, ha! How IS Pecksniff? When did you come to town? DO begin at

something or other, Tom. There are only scraps here, but they are

not at all bad. Boar's Head potted. Try it, Tom. Make a beginning

whatever you do. What an old Blade you are! I am delighted to see

you.'

 

While he delivered himself of these words in a state of great

commotion, John was constantly running backwards and forwards to and

from the closet, bringing out all sorts of things in pots, scooping

extraordinary quantities of tea out of the caddy, dropping French

rolls into his boots, pouring hot water over the butter, and making

a variety of similar mistakes without disconcerting himself in the

least.

 

'There!' said John, sitting down for the fiftieth time, and

instantly starting up again to make some other addition to the

breakfast. 'Now we are as well off as we are likely to be till

dinner. And now let us have the news, Tom. Imprimis, how's

Pecksniff?'

 

'I don't know how he is,' was Tom's grave answer.

 

John Westlock put the teapot down, and looked at him, in

astonishment.

 

'I don't know how he is,' said Thomas Pinch; 'and, saving that I

wish him no ill, I don't care. I have left him, John. I have left

him for ever.'

 

'Voluntarily?'

 

'Why, no, for he dismissed me. But I had first found out that I was

mistaken in him; and I could not have remained with him under any

circumstances. I grieve to say that you were right in your estimate

of his character. It may be a ridiculous weakness, John, but it has

been very painful and bitter to me to find this out, I do assure

you.'

 

Tom had no need to direct that appealing look towards his friend, in

mild and gentle deprecation of his answering with a laugh. John

Westlock would as soon have thought of striking him down upon the

floor.

 

'It was all a dream of mine,' said Tom, 'and it is over. I'll tell

you how it happened, at some other time. Bear with my folly, John.

I do not, just now, like to think or speak about it.'

 

'I swear to you, Tom,' returned his friend, with great earnestness

of manner, after remaining silent for a few moments, 'that when I

see, as I do now, how deeply you feel this, I don't know whether to

be glad or sorry that you have made the discovery at last. I

reproach myself with the thought that I ever jested on the subject;

I ought to have known better.'

 

'My dear friend,' said Tom, extending his hand, 'it is very generous

and gallant in you to receive me and my disclosure in this spirit;

it makes me blush to think that I should have felt a moment's

uneasiness as I came along. You can't think what a weight is lifted

off my mind,' said Tom, taking up his knife and fork again, and

looking very cheerful. 'I shall punish the Boar's Head dreadfully.'

 

The host, thus reminded of his duties, instantly betook himself to

piling up all kinds of irreconcilable and contradictory viands in

Tom's plate, and a very capital breakfast Tom made, and very much

the better for it Tom felt.

 

'That's all right,' said John, after contemplating his visitor's

proceedings with infinite satisfaction. 'Now, about our plans. You

are going to stay with me, of course. Where's your box?'

 

'It's at the Inn,' said Tom. 'I didn't intend--'

 

'Never mind what you didn't intend,' John Westlock interposed.

'What you DID intend is more to the purpose. You intended, in

coming here, to ask my advice, did you not, Tom?'

 

'Certainly.'

 

'And to take it when I gave it to you?'

 

'Yes,' rejoined Tom, smiling, 'if it were good advice, which, being

yours, I have no doubt it will be.'

 

'Very well. Then don't be an obstinate old humbug in the outset,

Tom, or I shall shut up shop and dispense none of that invaluable

commodity. You are on a visit to me. I wish I had an organ for

you, Tom!'

 

'So do the gentlemen downstairs, and the gentlemen overhead I have

no doubt,' was Tom's reply.

 

'Let me see. In the first place, you will wish to see your sister

this morning,' pursued his friend, 'and of course you will like to

go there alone. I'll walk part of the way with you; and see about a

little business of my own, and meet you here again in the afternoon.

Put that in your pocket, Tom. It's only the key of the door. If

you come home first you'll want it.'

 

'Really,' said Tom, 'quartering one's self upon a friend in this

way--'

 

'Why, there are two keys,' interposed John Westlock. 'I can't open

the door with them both at once, can I? What a ridiculous fellow

you are, Tom? Nothing particular you'd like for dinner, is there?'

 

'Oh dear no,' said Tom.

 

'Very well, then you may as well leave it to me. Have a glass of

cherry brandy, Tom?'

 

'Not a drop! What remarkable chambers these are!' said Pinch

'there's everything in 'em!'

 

'Bless your soul, Tom, nothing but a few little bachelor

contrivances! the sort of impromptu arrangements that might have

suggested themselves to Philip Quarll or Robinson Crusoe, that's

all. What do you say? Shall we walk?'

 

'By all means,' cried Tom. 'As soon as you like.'

 

Accordingly John Westlock took the French rolls out of his boots,

and put his boots on, and dressed himself; giving Tom the paper to

read in the meanwhile. When he returned, equipped for walking, he

found Tom in a brown study, with the paper in his hand.

 

'Dreaming, Tom?'

 

'No,' said Mr Pinch, 'No. I have been looking over the advertising

sheet, thinking there might be something in it which would be likely

to suit me. But, as I often think, the strange thing seems to be

that nobody is suited. Here are all kinds of employers wanting all

sorts of servants, and all sorts of servants wanting all kinds of

employers, and they never seem to come together. Here is a

gentleman in a public office in a position of temporary difficulty,

who wants to borrow five hundred pounds; and in the very next

advertisement here is another gentleman who has got exactly that sum

to lend. But he'll never lend it to him, John, you'll find! Here is

a lady possessing a moderate independence, who wants to board and

lodge with a quiet, cheerful family; and here is a family describing

themselves in those very words, "a quiet, cheerful family," who want

exactly such a lady to come and live with them. But she'll never

go, John! Neither do any of these single gentlemen who want an airy

bedroom, with the occasional use of a parlour, ever appear to come

to terms with these other people who live in a rural situation

remarkable for its bracing atmosphere, within five minutes' walk of

the Royal Exchange. Even those letters of the alphabet who are

always running away from their friends and being entreated at the

tops of columns to come back, never DO come back, if we may judge

from the number of times they are asked to do it and don't. It

really seems,' said Tom, relinquishing the paper with a thoughtful

sigh, 'as if people had the same gratification in printing their

complaints as in making them known by word of mouth; as if they

found it a comfort and consolation to proclaim "I want such and such

a thing, and I can't get it, and I don't expect I ever shall!"'

 

John Westlock laughed at the idea, and they went out together. So

many years had passed since Tom was last in London, and he had known

so little of it then, that his interest in all he saw was very

great. He was particularly anxious, among other notorious

localities, to have those streets pointed out to him which were

appropriated to the slaughter of countrymen; and was quite

disappointed to find, after half-an-hour's walking, that he hadn't

had his pocket picked. But on John Westlock's inventing a

pickpocket for his gratification, and pointing out a highly

respectable stranger as one of that fraternity, he was much

delighted.

 

His friend accompanied him to within a short distance of Camberwell

and having put him beyond the possibility of mistaking the wealthy

brass-and-copper founder's, left him to make his visit. Arriving

before the great bell-handle, Tom gave it a gentle pull. The porter

appeared.

 

'Pray does Miss Pinch live here?' said Tom.

 

'Miss Pinch is governess here,' replied the porter.

 

At the same time he looked at Tom from head to foot, as if he would

have said, 'You are a nice man, YOU are; where did YOU come from?'

 

'It's the same young lady,' said Tom. 'It's quite right. Is she at

home?'

 

'I don't know, I'm sure,' rejoined the porter.

 

'Do you think you could have the goodness to ascertain?' said Tom.

He had quite a delicacy in offering the suggestion, for the

possibility of such a step did not appear to present itself to the

porter's mind at all.

 

The fact was that the porter in answering the gate-bell had,

according to usage, rung the house-bell (for it is as well to do

these things in the Baronial style while you are about it), and that

there the functions of his office had ceased. Being hired to open

and shut the gate, and not to explain himself to strangers, he left

this little incident to be developed by the footman with the tags,

who, at this juncture, called out from the door steps:

 

'Hollo, there! wot are you up to? This way, young man!'

 

'Oh!' said Tom, hurrying towards him. 'I didn't observe that there

was anybody else. Pray is Miss Pinch at home?'

 

'She's IN,' replied the footman. As much as to say to Tom: 'But if

you think she has anything to do with the proprietorship of this

place you had better abandon that idea.'

 

'I wish to see her, if you please,' said Tom.

 

The footman, being a lively young man, happened to have his

attention caught at that moment by the flight of a pigeon, in which

he took so warm an interest that his gaze was rivetted on the bird

until it was quite out of sight. He then invited Tom to come in,

and showed him into a parlour.

 

'Hany neem?' said the young man, pausing languidly at the door.

 

It was a good thought; because without providing the stranger, in

case he should happen to be of a warm temper, with a sufficient

excuse for knocking him down, it implied this young man's estimate

of his quality, and relieved his breast of the oppressive burden of

rating him in secret as a nameless and obscure individual.

 

'Say her brother, if you please,' said Tom.

 

'Mother?' drawled the footman.

 

'Brother,' repeated Tom, slightly raising his voice. 'And if you

will say, in the first instance, a gentleman, and then say her

brother, I shall be obliged to you, as she does not expect me or

know I am in London, and I do not wish to startle her.'

 

The young man's interest in Tom's observations had ceased long

before this time, but he kindly waited until now; when, shutting the

door, he withdrew.

 

'Dear me!' said Tom. 'This is very disrespectful and uncivil

behaviour. I hope these are new servants here, and that Ruth is

very differently treated.'

 

His cogitations were interrupted by the sound of voices in the

adjoining room. They seemed to be engaged in high dispute, or in

indignant reprimand of some offender; and gathering strength

occasionally, broke out into a perfect whirlwind. It was in one of

these gusts, as it appeared to Tom, that the footman announced him;

for an abrupt and unnatural calm took place, and then a dead

silence. He was standing before the window, wondering what domestic

quarrel might have caused these sounds, and hoping Ruth had nothing

to do with it, when the door opened, and his sister ran into his

arms.

 

'Why, bless my soul!' said Tom, looking at her with great pride,

when they had tenderly embraced each other, 'how altered you are

Ruth! I should scarcely have known you, my love, if I had seen you

anywhere else, I declare! You are so improved,' said Tom, with

inexpressible delight; 'you are so womanly; you are so--positively,

you know, you are so handsome!'

 

'If YOU think so Tom--'

 

'Oh, but everybody must think so, you know,' said Tom, gently

smoothing down her hair. 'It's matter of fact; not opinion. But

what's the matter?' said Tom, looking at her more intently, 'how

flushed you are! and you have been crying.'

 

'No, I have not, Tom.'

 

'Nonsense,' said her brother stoutly. 'That's a story. Don't tell

me! I know better. What is it, dear? I'm not with Mr Pecksniff

now. I am going to try and settle myself in London; and if you are

not happy here (as I very much fear you are not, for I begin to

think you have been deceiving me with the kindest and most

affectionate intention) you shall not remain here.'

 

Oh! Tom's blood was rising; mind that! Perhaps the Boar's Head had

something to do with it, but certainly the footman had. So had the

sight of his pretty sister--a great deal to do with it. Tom could

bear a good deal himself, but he was proud of her, and pride is a

sensitive thing. He began to think, 'there are more Pecksniffs than

one, perhaps,' and by all the pins and needles that run up and down

in angry veins, Tom was in a most unusual tingle all at once!

 

'We will talk about it, Tom,' said Ruth, giving him another kiss to

pacify him. 'I am afraid I cannot stay here.'

 

'Cannot!' replied Tom. 'Why then, you shall not, my love. Heyday!

You are not an object of charity! Upon my word!'

 

Tom was stopped in these exclamations by the footman, who brought a

message from his master, importing that he wished to speak with him

before he went, and with Miss Pinch also.

 

'Show the way,' said Tom. 'I'll wait upon him at once.'

 

Accordingly they entered the adjoining room from which the noise of

altercation had proceeded; and there they found a middle-aged

gentleman, with a pompous voice and manner, and a middle-aged lady,

with what may be termed an excisable face, or one in which starch

and vinegar were decidedly employed. There was likewise present

that eldest pupil of Miss Pinch, whom Mrs Todgers, on a previous

occasion, had called a syrup, and who was now weeping and sobbing

spitefully.

 

'My brother, sir,' said Ruth Pinch, timidly presenting Tom.

 

'Oh!' cried the gentleman, surveying Tom attentively. 'You really

are Miss Pinch's brother, I presume? You will excuse my asking. I

don't observe any resemblance.'

 

'Miss Pinch has a brother, I know,' observed the lady.

 

'Miss Pinch is always talking about her brother, when she ought to

be engaged upon my education,' sobbed the pupil.

 

'Sophia! Hold your tongue!' observed the gentleman. 'Sit down, if

you please,' addressing Tom.

 

Tom sat down, looking from one face to another, in mute surprise.

 

'Remain here, if you please, Miss Pinch,' pursued the gentleman,

looking slightly over his shoulder.

 

Tom interrupted him here, by rising to place a chair for his sister.

Having done which he sat down again.

 

'I am glad you chance to have called to see your sister to-day,

sir,' resumed the brass-and-copper founder. 'For although I do not

approve, as a principle, of any young person engaged in my family in

the capacity of a governess, receiving visitors, it happens in this

case to be well timed. I am sorry to inform you that we are not at

all satisfied with your sister.'

 

'We are very much DISsatisfied with her,' observed the lady.

 

'I'd never say another lesson to Miss Pinch if I was to be beat to

death for it!' sobbed the pupil.

 

'Sophia!' cried her father. 'Hold your tongue!'

 

'Will you allow me to inquire what your ground of dissatisfaction

is?' asked Tom.

 

'Yes,' said the gentleman, 'I will. I don't recognize it as a

right; but I will. Your sister has not the slightest innate power

of commanding respect. It has been a constant source of difference

between us. Although she has been in this family for some time, and

although the young lady who is now present has almost, as it were,

grown up under her tuition, that young lady has no respect for her.

Miss Pinch has been perfectly unable to command my daughter's

respect, or to win my daughter's confidence. Now,' said the

gentleman, allowing the palm of his hand to fall gravely down upon

the table: 'I maintain that there is something radically wrong in

that! You, as her brother, may be disposed to deny it--'

 

'I beg your pardon, sir,' said Tom. 'I am not at all disposed to

deny it. I am sure that there is something radically wrong;

radically monstrous, in that.'

 

'Good Heavens!' cried the gentleman, looking round the room with

dignity, 'what do I find to be the case! what results obtrude

themselves upon me as flowing from this weakness of character on the

part of Miss Pinch! What are my feelings as a father, when, after my

desire (repeatedly expressed to Miss Pinch, as I think she will not

venture to deny) that my daughter should be choice in her

expressions, genteel in her deportment, as becomes her station in

life, and politely distant to her inferiors in society, I find her,

only this very morning, addressing Miss Pinch herself as a beggar!'

 

'A beggarly thing,' observed the lady, in correction.

 

'Which is worse,' said the gentleman, triumphantly; 'which is worse.

A beggarly thing. A low, coarse, despicable expression!'

 

'Most despicable,' cried Tom. 'I am glad to find that there is a

just appreciation of it here.'

 

'So just, sir,' said the gentleman, lowering his voice to be the

more impressive. 'So just, that, but for my knowing Miss Pinch to

be an unprotected young person, an orphan, and without friends, I

would, as I assured Miss Pinch, upon my veracity and personal

character, a few minutes ago, I would have severed the connection

between us at that moment and from that time.'

 

'Bless my soul, sir!' cried Tom, rising from his seat; for he was

now unable to contain himself any longer; 'don't allow such

considerations as those to influence you, pray. They don't exist,

sir. She is not unprotected. She is ready to depart this instant.

Ruth, my dear, get your bonnet on!'

 

'Oh, a pretty family!' cried the lady. 'Oh, he's her brother!

There's no doubt about that!'

 

'As little doubt, madam,' said Tom, 'as that the young lady yonder

is the child of your teaching, and not my sister's. Ruth, my dear,

get your bonnet on!'

 

'When you say, young man,' interposed the brass-and-copper founder,

haughtily, 'with that impertinence which is natural to you, and

which I therefore do not condescend to notice further, that the

young lady, my eldest daughter, has been educated by any one but

Miss Pinch, you--I needn't proceed. You comprehend me fully. I

have no doubt you are used to it.'

 

'Sir!' cried Tom, after regarding him in silence for some little

time. 'If you do not understand what I mean, I will tell you. If

you do understand what I mean, I beg you not to repeat that mode of

expressing yourself in answer to it. My meaning is, that no man can

expect his children to respect what he degrades.'

 

'Ha, ha, ha!' laughed the gentleman. 'Cant! cant! The common cant!'

 

'The common story, sir!' said Tom; 'the story of a common mind.

Your governess cannot win the confidence and respect of your

children, forsooth! Let her begin by winning yours, and see what

happens then.'

 

'Miss Pinch is getting her bonnet on, I trust, my dear?' said the

gentleman.

 

'I trust she is,' said Tom, forestalling the reply. 'I have no

doubt she is. In the meantime I address myself to you, sir. You

made your statement to me, sir; you required to see me for that

purpose; and I have a right to answer it. I am not loud or

turbulent,' said Tom, which was quite true, 'though I can scarcely

say as much for you, in your manner of addressing yourself to me.

And I wish, on my sister's behalf, to state the simple truth.'

 

'You may state anything you like, young man,' returned the

gentleman, affecting to yawn. 'My dear, Miss Pinch's money.'

 

'When you tell me,' resumed Tom, who was not the less indignant for

keeping himself quiet, 'that my sister has no innate power of

commanding the respect of your children, I must tell you it is not

so; and that she has. She is as well bred, as well taught, as well

qualified by nature to command respect, as any hirer of a governess

you know. But when you place her at a disadvantage in reference to

every servant in your house, how can you suppose, if you have the

gift of common sense, that she is not in a tenfold worse position in

reference to your daughters?'

 

'Pretty well! Upon my word,' exclaimed the gentleman, 'this is

pretty well!'

 

'It is very ill, sir,' said Tom. 'It is very bad and mean, and

wrong and cruel. Respect! I believe young people are quick enough

to observe and imitate; and why or how should they respect whom no

one else respects, and everybody slights? And very partial they

must grow--oh, very partial!--to their studies, when they see to

what a pass proficiency in those same tasks has brought their

governess! Respect! Put anything the most deserving of respect

before your daughters in the light in which you place her, and you

will bring it down as low, no matter what it is!'

 

'You speak with extreme impertinence, young man,' observed the

gentleman.

 

'I speak without passion, but with extreme indignation and contempt

for such a course of treatment, and for all who practice it,' said

Tom. 'Why, how can you, as an honest gentleman, profess displeasure

or surprise at your daughter telling my sister she is something

beggarly and humble, when you are for ever telling her the same

thing yourself in fifty plain, outspeaking ways, though not in

words; and when your very porter and footman make the same delicate

announcement to all comers? As to your suspicion and distrust of

her; even of her word; if she is not above their reach, you have no

right to employ her.'

 

'No right!' cried the brass-and-copper founder.

 

'Distinctly not,' Tom answered. 'If you imagine that the payment of

an annual sum of money gives it to you, you immensely exaggerate its

power and value. Your money is the least part of your bargain in

such a case. You may be punctual in that to half a second on the

clock, and yet be Bankrupt. I have nothing more to say,' said Tom,

much flushed and flustered, now that it was over, 'except to crave

permission to stand in your garden until my sister is ready.'

 

Not waiting to obtain it, Tom walked out.

 

Before he had well begun to cool, his sister joined him. She was

crying; and Tom could not bear that any one about the house should

see her doing that.

 

'They will think you are sorry to go,' said Tom. 'You are not sorry

to go?'

 

'No, Tom, no. I have been anxious to go for a very long time.'

 

'Very well, then! Don't cry!' said Tom.

 

'I am so sorry for YOU, dear,' sobbed Tom's sister.

 

'But you ought to be glad on my account,' said Tom. 'I shall be

twice as happy with you for a companion. Hold up your head. There!

Now we go out as we ought. Not blustering, you know, but firm and

confident in ourselves.'

 

The idea of Tom and his sister blustering, under any circumstances,

was a splendid absurdity. But Tom was very far from feeling it to

be so, in his excitement; and passed out at the gate with such

severe determination written in his face that the porter hardly knew

him again.

 

It was not until they had walked some short distance, and Tom found

himself getting cooler and more collected, that he was quite

restored to himself by an inquiry from his sister, who said in her

pleasant little voice:

 

'Where are we going, Tom?'

 

'Dear me!' said Tom, stopping, 'I don't know.'

 

'Don't you--don't you live anywhere, dear?' asked Tom's sister

looking wistfully in his face.

 

'No,' said Tom. 'Not at present. Not exactly. I only arrived this

morning. We must have some lodgings.'

 

He didn't tell her that he had been going to stay with his friend

John, and could on no account think of billeting two inmates upon

him, of whom one was a young lady; for he knew that would make her

uncomfortable, and would cause her to regard herself as being an

inconvenience to him. Neither did he like to leave her anywhere

while he called on John, and told him of this change in his

arrangements; for he was delicate of seeming to encroach upon the

generous and hospitable nature of his friend. Therefore he said

again, 'We must have some lodgings, of course;' and said it as

stoutly as if he had been a perfect Directory and Guide-Book to all

the lodgings in London.

 

'Where shall we go and look for 'em?' said Tom. 'What do you

think?'

 

Tom's sister was not much wiser on such a topic than he was. So she

squeezed her little purse into his coat-pocket, and folding the

little hand with which she did so on the other little hand with

which she clasped his arm, said nothing.

 

'It ought to be a cheap neighbourhood,' said Tom, 'and not too far

from London. Let me see. Should you think Islington a good place?'

 

'I should think it was an excellent place, Tom.'

 

'It used to be called Merry Islington, once upon a time,' said Tom.

'Perhaps it's merry now; if so, it's all the better. Eh?'

 

'If it's not too dear,' said Tom's sister.

 

'Of course, if it's not too dear,' assented Tom. 'Well, where IS

Islington? We can't do better than go there, I should think. Let's

go.'

 

Tom's sister would have gone anywhere with him; so they walked off,

arm in arm, as comfortably as possible. Finding, presently, that

Islington was not in that neighbourhood, Tom made inquiries

respecting a public conveyance thither; which they soon obtained.

As they rode along they were very full of conversation indeed, Tom

relating what had happened to him, and Tom's sister relating what

had happened to her, and both finding a great deal more to say than

time to say it in; for they had only just begun to talk, in

comparison with what they had to tell each other, when they reached

their journey's end.

 

'Now,' said Tom, 'we must first look out for some very unpretending

streets, and then look out for bills in the windows.'

 

So they walked off again, quite as happily as if they had just

stepped out of a snug little house of their own, to look for

lodgings on account of somebody else. Tom's simplicity was

unabated, Heaven knows; but now that he had somebody to rely upon

him, he was stimulated to rely a little more upon himself, and was,

in his own opinion, quite a desperate fellow.

 

After roaming up and down for hours, looking at some scores of

lodgings, they began to find it rather fatiguing, especially as they

saw none which were at all adapted to their purpose. At length,

however, in a singular little old-fashioned house, up a blind

street, they discovered two small bedrooms and a triangular parlour,

which promised to suit them well enough. Their desiring to take

possession immediately was a suspicious circumstance, but even this

was surmounted by the payment of their first week's rent, and a

reference to John Westlock, Esquire, Furnival's Inn, High Holborn.

 

Ah! It was a goodly sight, when this important point was settled, to

behold Tom and his sister trotting round to the baker's, and the

butcher's, and the grocer's, with a kind of dreadful delight in the

unaccustomed cares of housekeeping; taking secret counsel together

as they gave their small orders, and distracted by the least

suggestion on the part of the shopkeeper! When they got back to the

triangular parlour, and Tom's sister, bustling to and fro, busy

about a thousand pleasant nothings, stopped every now and then to

give old Tom a kiss or smile upon him, Tom rubbed his hands as if

all Islington were his.

 

It was late in the afternoon now, though, and high time for Tom to

keep his appointment. So, after agreeing with his sister that in

consideration of not having dined, they would venture on the

extravagance of chops for supper at nine, he walked out again to

narrate these marvellous occurrences to John.

 

'I am quite a family man all at once,' thought Tom. 'If I can only

get something to do, how comfortable Ruth and I may be! Ah, that if!

But it's of no use to despond. I can but do that, when I have tried

everything and failed; and even then it won't serve me much. Upon

my word,' thought Tom, quickening his pace, 'I don't know what John

will think has become of me. He'll begin to be afraid I have

strayed into one of those streets where the countrymen are murdered;

and that I have been made meat pies of, or some such horrible

thing.'

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