Martin Chuzzlewit HTML version

Chapter 11
The family were within two or three days of their departure from Mrs Todgers's,
and the commercial gentlemen were to a man despondent and not to be
comforted, because of the approaching separation, when Bailey junior, at the
jocund time of noon, presented himself before Miss Charity Pecksniff, then sitting
with her sister in the banquet chamber, hemming six new pocket-handkerchiefs
for Mr Jinkins; and having expressed a hope, preliminary and pious, that he
might be blest, gave her in his pleasant way to understand that a visitor attended
to pay his respects to her, and was at that moment waiting in the drawing-room.
Perhaps this last announcement showed in a more striking point of view than
many lengthened speeches could have done, the trustfulness and faith of
Bailey's nature; since he had, in fact, last seen the visitor on the door-mat, where,
after signifying to him that he would do well to go upstairs, he had left him to the
guidance of his own sagacity. Hence it was at least an even chance that the
visitor was then wandering on the roof of the house, or vainly seeking to extricate
himself from the maze of bedrooms; Todgers's being precisely that kind of
establishment in which an unpiloted stranger is pretty sure to find himself in some
place where he least expects and least desires to be.
'A gentleman for me!' cried Charity, pausing in her work; 'my gracious, Bailey!'
'Ah!' said Bailey. 'It IS my gracious, an't it? Wouldn't I be gracious neither, not if I
wos him!'
The remark was rendered somewhat obscure in itself, by reason (as the reader
may have observed) of a redundancy of negatives; but accompanied by action
expressive of a faithful couple walking arm- in-arm towards a parochial church,
mutually exchanging looks of love, it clearly signified this youth's conviction that
the caller's purpose was of an amorous tendency. Miss Charity affected to
reprove so great a liberty; but she could not help smiling. He was a strange boy,
to be sure. There was always some ground of probability and likelihood mingled
with his absurd behaviour. That was the best of it!
'But I don't know any gentlemen, Bailey,' said Miss Pecksniff. 'I think you must
have made a mistake.'
Mr Bailey smiled at the extreme wildness of such a supposition, and regarded the
young ladies with unimpaired affability.
'My dear Merry,' said Charity, 'who CAN it be? Isn't it odd? I have a great mind
not to go to him really. So very strange, you know!'
The younger sister plainly considered that this appeal had its origin in the pride of
being called upon and asked for; and that it was intended as an assertion of
superiority, and a retaliation upon her for having captured the commercial
gentlemen. Therefore, she replied, with great affection and politeness, that it
was, no doubt, very strange indeed; and that she was totally at a loss to conceive
what the ridiculous person unknown could mean by it.