Martin Chuzzlewit HTML version

Chapter 6
It was morning; and the beautiful Aurora, of whom so much hath been written,
said, and sung, did, with her rosy fingers, nip and tweak Miss Pecksniff's nose. It
was the frolicsome custom of the Goddess, in her intercourse with the fair
Cherry, so to do; or in more prosaic phrase, the tip of that feature in the sweet
girl's countenance was always very red at breakfast-time. For the most part,
indeed, it wore, at that season of the day, a scraped and frosty look, as if it had
been rasped; while a similar phenomenon developed itself in her humour, which
was then observed to be of a sharp and acid quality, as though an extra lemon
(figuratively speaking) had been squeezed into the nectar of her disposition, and
had rather damaged its flavour.
This additional pungency on the part of the fair young creature led, on ordinary
occasions, to such slight consequences as the copious dilution of Mr Pinch's tea,
or to his coming off uncommonly short in respect of butter, or to other the like
results. But on the morning after the Installation Banquet, she suffered him to
wander to and fro among the eatables and drinkables, a perfectly free and
unchecked man; so utterly to Mr Pinch's wonder and confusion, that like the
wretched captive who recovered his liberty in his old age, he could make but little
use of his enlargement, and fell into a strange kind of flutter for want of some
kind hand to scrape his bread, and cut him off in the article of sugar with a lump,
and pay him those other little attentions to which he was accustomed. There was
something almost awful, too, about the self-possession of the new pupil; who
'troubled' Mr Pecksniff for the loaf, and helped himself to a rasher of that
gentleman's own particular and private bacon, with all the coolness in life. He
even seemed to think that he was doing quite a regular thing, and to expect that
Mr Pinch would follow his example, since he took occasion to observe of that
young man 'that he didn't get on'; a speech of so tremendous a character, that
Tom cast down his eyes involuntarily, and felt as if he himself had committed
some horrible deed and heinous breach of Mr Pecksniff's confidence. Indeed, the
agony of having such an indiscreet remark addressed to him before the
assembled family, was breakfast enough in itself, and would, without any other
matter of reflection, have settled Mr Pinch's business and quenched his appetite,
for one meal, though he had been never so hungry.
The young ladies, however, and Mr Pecksniff likewise, remained in the very best
of spirits in spite of these severe trials, though with something of a mysterious
understanding among themselves. When the meal was nearly over, Mr Pecksniff
smilingly explained the cause of their common satisfaction.
'It is not often,' he said, 'Martin, that my daughters and I desert our quiet home to
pursue the giddy round of pleasures that revolves abroad. But we think of doing
so to-day.'
'Indeed, sir!' cried the new pupil.