Martin Chuzzlewit HTML version

Chapter 30
As the surgeon's first care after amputating a limb, is to take up the arteries the
cruel knife has severed, so it is the duty of this history, which in its remorseless
course has cut from the Pecksniffian trunk its right arm, Mercy, to look to the
parent stem, and see how in all its various ramifications it got on without her.
And first of Mr Pecksniff it may be observed, that having provided for his
youngest daughter that choicest of blessings, a tender and indulgent husband;
and having gratified the dearest wish of his parental heart by establishing her in
life so happily; he renewed his youth, and spreading the plumage of his own
bright conscience, felt himself equal to all kinds of flights. It is customary with
fathers in stage-plays, after giving their daughters to the men of their hearts, to
congratulate themselves on having no other business on their hands but to die
immediately; though it is rarely found that they are in a hurry to do it. Mr
Pecksniff, being a father of a more sage and practical class, appeared to think
that his immediate business was to live; and having deprived himself of one
comfort, to surround himself with others.
But however much inclined the good man was to be jocose and playful, and in
the garden of his fancy to disport himself (if one may say so) like an architectural
kitten, he had one impediment constantly opposed to him. The gentle Cherry,
stung by a sense of slight and injury, which far from softening down or wearing
out, rankled and festered in her heart--the gentle Cherry was in flat rebellion. She
waged fierce war against her dear papa, she led her parent what is usually
called, for want of a better figure of speech, the life of a dog. But never did that
dog live, in kennel, stable-yard, or house, whose life was half as hard as Mr
Pecksniff's with his gentle child.
The father and daughter were sitting at their breakfast. Tom had retired, and they
were alone. Mr Pecksniff frowned at first; but having cleared his brow, looked
stealthily at his child. Her nose was very red indeed, and screwed up tight, with
hostile preparation.
'Cherry,' cried Mr Pecksniff, 'what is amiss between us? My child, why are we
Miss Pecksniff's answer was scarcely a response to this gush of affection, for it
was simply, 'Bother, Pa!'
'Bother!' repeated Mr Pecksniff, in a tone of anguish.
'Oh! 'tis too late, Pa,' said his daughter, calmly 'to talk to me like this. I know what
it means, and what its value is.'
'This is hard!' cried Mr Pecksniff, addressing his breakfast-cup. 'This is very hard!
She is my child. I carried her in my arms when she wore shapeless worsted
shoes--I might say, mufflers--many years ago!'