Martin Chuzzlewit HTML version

Chapter 24
'Hallo, Pecksniff!' cried Mr Jonas from the parlour. 'Isn't somebody a-going to
open that precious old door of yours?'
'Immediately, Mr Jonas. Immediately.'
'Ecod,' muttered the orphan, 'not before it's time neither. Whoever it is, has
knocked three times, and each one loud enough to wake the--' he had such a
repugnance to the idea of waking the Dead, that he stopped even then with the
words upon his tongue, and said, instead, 'the Seven Sleepers.'
'Immediately, Mr Jonas; immediately,' repeated Pecksniff. 'Thomas Pinch'--he
couldn't make up his mind, in his great agitation, whether to call Tom his dear
friend or a villain, so he shook his fist at him PRO TEM--'go up to my daughters'
room, and tell them who is here. Say, Silence. Silence! Do you hear me, sir?
'Directly, sir!" cried Tom, departing, in a state of much amazement, on his errand.
'You'll--ha, ha, ha!--you'll excuse me, Mr Jonas, if I close this door a moment, will
you?' said Pecksniff. 'This may be a professional call. Indeed I am pretty sure it
is. Thank you.' Then Mr Pecksniff, gently warbling a rustic stave, put on his
garden hat, seized a spade, and opened the street door; calmly appearing on the
threshold, as if he thought he had, from his vineyard, heard a modest rap, but
was not quite certain.
Seeing a gentleman and lady before him, he started back in as much confusion
as a good man with a crystal conscience might betray in mere surprise.
Recognition came upon him the next moment, and he cried:
'Mr Chuzzlewit! Can I believe my eyes! My dear sir; my good sir! A joyful hour, a
happy hour indeed. Pray, my dear sir, walk in. You find me in my garden-dress.
You will excuse it, I know. It is an ancient pursuit, gardening. Primitive, my dear
sir. Or, if I am not mistaken, Adam was the first of our calling. MY Eve, I grieve to
say is no more, sir; but'--here he pointed to his spade, and shook his head as if
he were not cheerful without an effort--'but I do a little bit of Adam still.'
He had by this time got them into the best parlour, where the portrait by Spiller,
and the bust by Spoker, were.
'My daughters,' said Mr Pecksniff, 'will be overjoyed. If I could feel weary upon
such a theme, I should have been worn out long ago, my dear sir, by their
constant anticipation of this happiness and their repeated allusions to our
meeting at Mrs Todgers's. Their fair young friend, too,' said Mr Pecksniff, 'whom
they so desire to know and love--indeed to know her, is to love--I hope I see her
well. I hope in saying, "Welcome to my humble roof!" I find some echo in her own
sentiments. If features are an index to the heart, I have no fears of that. An
extremely engaging expression of countenance, Mr Chuzzlewit, my dear sir--very
much so!'
'Mary,' said the old man, 'Mr Pecksniff flatters you. But flattery from him is worth
the having. He is not a dealer in it, and it comes from his heart. We thought Mr--'
'Pinch,' said Mary.