CONTAINING STRANGE MATTER, ON WHICH MANY EVENTS IN THIS
HISTORY MAY, FOR THEIR GOOD OR EVIL INFLUENCE, CHIEFLY DEPEND
But Mr Pecksniff came to town on business. Had he forgotten that? Was he
always taking his pleasure with Todgers's jovial brood, unmindful of the serious
demands, whatever they might be, upon his calm consideration? No.
Time and tide will wait for no man, saith the adage. But all men have to wait for
time and tide. That tide which, taken at the flood, would lead Seth Pecksniff on to
fortune, was marked down in the table, and about to flow. No idle Pecksniff
lingered far inland, unmindful of the changes of the stream; but there, upon the
water's edge, over his shoes already, stood the worthy creature, prepared to
wallow in the very mud, so that it slid towards the quarter of his hope.
The trustfulness of his two fair daughters was beautiful indeed. They had that
firm reliance on their parent's nature, which taught them to feel certain that in all
he did he had his purpose straight and full before him. And that its noble end and
object was himself, which almost of necessity included them, they knew. The
devotion of these maids was perfect.
Their filial confidence was rendered the more touching, by their having no
knowledge of their parent's real designs, in the present instance. All that they
knew of his proceedings was, that every morning, after the early breakfast, he
repaired to the post office and inquired for letters. That task performed, his
business for the day was over; and he again relaxed, until the rising of another
sun proclaimed the advent of another post.
This went on for four or five days. At length, one morning, Mr Pecksniff returned
with a breathless rapidity, strange to observe in him, at other times so calm; and,
seeking immediate speech with his daughters, shut himself up with them in
private conference for two whole hours. Of all that passed in this period, only the
following words of Mr Pecksniff's utterance are known:
'How he has come to change so very much (if it should turn out as I expect, that
he has), we needn't stop to inquire. My dears, I have my thoughts upon the
subject, but I will not impart them. It is enough that we will not be proud,
resentful, or unforgiving. If he wants our friendship he shall have it. We know our
duty, I hope!'
That same day at noon, an old gentleman alighted from a hackney-coach at the
post-office, and, giving his name, inquired for a letter addressed to himself, and
directed to be left till called for. It had been lying there some days. The
superscription was in Mr Pecksniff's hand, and it was sealed with Mr Pecksniff's
It was very short, containing indeed nothing more than an address 'with Mr
Pecksniff's respectful, and (not withstanding what has passed) sincerely
affectionate regards.' The old gentleman tore off the direction--scattering the rest
in fragments to the winds--and giving it to the coachman, bade him drive as near
that place as he could. In pursuance of these instructions he was driven to the