Martin Chuzzlewit HTML version

Chapter 13
Carrying Tom Pinch's book quite unconsciously under his arm, and not even
buttoning his coat as a protection against the heavy rain, Martin went doggedly
forward at the same quick pace, until he had passed the finger-post, and was on
the high road to London. He slackened very little in his speed even then, but he
began to think, and look about him, and to disengage his senses from the coil of
angry passions which hitherto had held them prisoner.
It must be confessed that, at that moment, he had no very agreeable
employment either for his moral or his physical perceptions. The day was
dawning from a patch of watery light in the east, and sullen clouds came driving
up before it, from which the rain descended in a thick, wet mist. It streamed from
every twig and bramble in the hedge; made little gullies in the path; ran down a
hundred channels in the road; and punched innumerable holes into the face of
every pond and gutter. It fell with an oozy, slushy sound among the grass; and
made a muddy kennel of every furrow in the ploughed fields. No living creature
was anywhere to be seen. The prospect could hardly have been more desolate if
animated nature had been dissolved in water, and poured down upon the earth
again in that form.
The range of view within the solitary traveller was quite as cheerless as the
scene without. Friendless and penniless; incensed to the last degree; deeply
wounded in his pride and self-love; full of independent schemes, and perfectly
destitute of any means of realizing them; his most vindictive enemy might have
been satisfied with the extent of his troubles. To add to his other miseries, he
was by this time sensible of being wet to the skin, and cold at his very heart.
In this deplorable condition he remembered Mr Pinch's book; more because it
was rather troublesome to carry, than from any hope of being comforted by that
parting gift. He looked at the dingy lettering on the back, and finding it to be an
odd volume of the 'Bachelor of Salamanca,' in the French tongue, cursed Tom
Pinch's folly twenty times. He was on the point of throwing it away, in his ill-
humour and vexation, when he bethought himself that Tom had referred him to a
leaf, turned down; and opening it at that place, that he might have additional
cause of complaint against him for supposing that any cold scrap of the
Bachelor's wisdom could cheer him in such circumstances, found!--
Well, well! not much, but Tom's all. The half-sovereign. He had wrapped it hastily
in a piece of paper, and pinned it to the leaf. These words were scrawled in
pencil on the inside: 'I don't want it indeed. I should not know what to do with it if I
had it.'
There are some falsehoods, Tom, on which men mount, as on bright wings,
towards Heaven. There are some truths, cold bitter taunting truths, wherein your
worldly scholars are very apt and punctual, which bind men down to earth with
leaden chains. Who would not rather have to fan him, in his dying hour, the