Martin Chuzzlewit HTML version

Chapter 31
The closing words of the last chapter lead naturally to the commencement of this,
its successor; for it has to do with a church. With the church, so often mentioned
heretofore, in which Tom Pinch played the organ for nothing.
One sultry afternoon, about a week after Miss Charity's departure for London, Mr
Pecksniff being out walking by himself, took it into his head to stray into the
churchyard. As he was lingering among the tombstones, endeavouring to extract
an available sentiment or two from the epitaphs--for he never lost an opportunity
of making up a few moral crackers, to be let off as occasion served--Tom Pinch
began to practice. Tom could run down to the church and do so whenever he had
time to spare; for it was a simple little organ, provided with wind by the action of
the musician's feet; and he was independent, even of a bellows-blower. Though if
Tom had wanted one at any time, there was not a man or boy in all the village,
and away to the turnpike (tollman included), but would have blown away for him
till he was black in the face.
Mr Pecksniff had no objection to music; not the least. He was tolerant of
everything; he often said so. He considered it a vagabond kind of trifling, in
general, just suited to Tom's capacity. But in regard to Tom's performance upon
this same organ, he was remarkably lenient, singularly amiable; for when Tom
played it on Sundays, Mr Pecksniff in his unbounded sympathy felt as if he
played it himself, and were a benefactor to the congregation. So whenever it was
impossible to devise any other means of taking the value of Tom's wages out of
him, Mr Pecksniff gave him leave to cultivate this instrument. For which mark of
his consideration Tom was very grateful.
The afternoon was remarkably warm, and Mr Pecksniff had been strolling a long
way. He had not what may be called a fine ear for music, but he knew when it
had a tranquilizing influence on his soul; and that was the case now, for it
sounded to him like a melodious snore. He approached the church, and looking
through the diamond lattice of a window near the porch, saw Tom, with the
curtains in the loft drawn back, playing away with great expression and
The church had an inviting air of coolness. The old oak roof supported by cross-
beams, the hoary walls, the marble tablets, and the cracked stone pavement,
were refreshing to look at. There were leaves of ivy tapping gently at the opposite
windows; and the sun poured in through only one; leaving the body of the church
in tempting shade. But the most tempting spot of all, was one red- curtained and
soft-cushioned pew, wherein the official dignitaries of the place (of whom Mr
Pecksniff was the head and chief) enshrined themselves on Sundays. Mr
Pecksniff's seat was in the corner; a remarkably comfortable corner; where his
very large Prayer-Book was at that minute making the most of its quarto self
upon the desk. He determined to go in and rest.