Martin Chuzzlewit HTML version

Chapter 41
The office of the Anglo-Bengalee Disinterested Loan and Life Assurance
Company being near at hand, and Mr Montague driving Jonas straight there,
they had very little way to go. But the journey might have been one of several
hours' duration, without provoking a remark from either; for it was clear that
Jonas did not mean to break the silence which prevailed between them, and that
it was not, as yet, his dear friend's cue to tempt them into conversation.
He had thrown aside his cloak, as having now no motive for concealment, and
with that garment huddled on his knees, sat as far removed from his companion
as the limited space in such a carriage would allow. There was a striking
difference in his manner, compared with what it had been, within a few minutes,
when Tom encountered him so unexpectedly on board the packet, or when the
ugly change had fallen on him in Mr Montague's dressing-room. He had the
aspect of a man found out and held at bay; of being baffled, hunted, and beset;
but there was now a dawning and increasing purpose in his face, which changed
it very much. It was gloomy, distrustful, lowering; pale with anger and defeat; it
still was humbled, abject, cowardly and mean; but, let the conflict go on as it
would, there was one strong purpose wrestling with every emotion of his mind,
and casting the whole series down as they arose.
Not prepossessing in appearance at the best of times, it may be readily
supposed that he was not so now. He had left deep marks of his front teeth in his
nether lip; and those tokens of the agitation he had lately undergone improved
his looks as little as the heavy corrugations in his forehead. But he was self-
possessed now; unnaturally self-possessed, indeed, as men quite otherwise than
brave are known to be in desperate extremities; and when the carriage stopped,
he waited for no invitation, but leapt hardily out, and went upstairs.
The chairman followed him; and closing the board-room door as soon as they
had entered, threw himself upon a sofa. Jonas stood before the window, looking
down into the street; and leaned against the sash, resting his head upon his
'This is not handsome, Chuzzlewit!' said Montague at length. 'Not handsome
upon my soul!'
'What would you have me do?' he answered, looking round abruptly; 'What do
you expect?'
'Confidence, my good fellow. Some confidence!' said Montague in an injured
'Ecod! You show great confidence in me,' retorted Jonas. 'Don't you?'
'Do I not?' said his companion, raising his head, and looking at him, but he had
turned again. 'Do I not? Have I not confided to you the easy schemes I have
formed for our advantage; OUR advantage, mind; not mine alone; and what is
my return? Attempted flight!'
'How do you know that? Who said I meant to fly?'