Hard Times HTML version
BOOK II: 3. The Whelp
IT was very remarkable that a young gentleman who had been brought up under one
continuous system of unnatural restraint, should be a hypocrite; but it was certainly the
case with Tom. It was very strange that a young gentleman who had never been left to
his own guidance for five consecutive minutes, should be incapable at last of governing
himself; but so it was with Tom. It was altogether unaccountable that a young
gentleman whose imagination had been strangled in his cradle, should be still
inconvenienced by its ghost in the form of grovelling sensualities; but such a monster,
beyond all doubt, was Tom.
'Do you smoke?' asked Mr. James Harthouse, when they came to the hotel.
'I believe you!' said Tom.
He could do no less than ask Tom up; and Tom could do no less than go up. What with
a cooling drink adapted to the weather, but not so weak as cool; and what with a rarer
tobacco than was to be bought in those parts; Tom was soon in a highly free and easy
state at his end of the sofa, and more than ever disposed to admire his new friend at the
Tom blew his smoke aside, after he had been smoking a little while, and took an
observation of his friend. 'He don't seem to care about his dress,' thought Tom, 'and yet
how capitally he does it. What an easy swell he is!'
Mr. James Harthouse, happening to catch Tom's eye, remarked that he drank nothing,
and filled his glass with his own negligent hand.
'Thank'ee,' said Tom. 'Thank'ee. Well, Mr. Harthouse, I hope you have had about a
dose of old Bounderby to-night.' Tom said this with one eye shut up again, and looking
over his glass knowingly, at his entertainer.
'A very good fellow indeed!' returned Mr. James Harthouse.
'You think so, don't you?' said Tom. And shut up his eye again.
Mr. James Harthouse smiled; and rising from his end of the sofa, and lounging with his
back against the chimney-piece, so that he stood before the empty fire-grate as he
smoked, in front of Tom and looking down at him, observed:
'What a comical brother-in-law you are!'
'What a comical brother-in-law old Bounderby is, I think you mean,' said Tom.