Martin Chuzzlewit HTML version
IN WHICH MR CHEVY SLYME ASSERTS THE INDEPENDENCE OF HIS
SPIRIT, AND THE BLUE DRAGON LOSES A LIMB
Martin began to work at the grammar-school next morning, with so much vigour
and expedition, that Mr Pinch had new reason to do homage to the natural
endowments of that young gentleman, and to acknowledge his infinite superiority
to himself. The new pupil received Tom's compliments very graciously; and
having by this time conceived a real regard for him, in his own peculiar way,
predicted that they would always be the very best of friends, and that neither of
them, he was certain (but particularly Tom), would ever have reason to regret the
day on which they became acquainted. Mr Pinch was delighted to hear him say
this, and felt so much flattered by his kind assurances of friendship and
protection, that he was at a loss how to express the pleasure they afforded him.
And indeed it may be observed of this friendship, such as it was, that it had within
it more likely materials of endurance than many a sworn brotherhood that has
been rich in promise; for so long as the one party found a pleasure in patronizing,
and the other in being patronised (which was in the very essence of their
respective characters), it was of all possible events among the least probable,
that the twin demons, Envy and Pride, would ever arise between them. So in very
many cases of friendship, or what passes for it, the old axiom is reversed, and
like clings to unlike more than to like.
They were both very busy on the afternoon succeeding the family's departure--
Martin with the grammar-school, and Tom in balancing certain receipts of rents,
and deducting Mr Pecksniff's commission from the same; in which abstruse
employment he was much distracted by a habit his new friend had of whistling
aloud while he was drawing--when they were not a little startled by the
unexpected obtrusion into that sanctuary of genius, of a human head which,
although a shaggy and somewhat alarming head in appearance, smiled affably
upon them from the doorway, in a manner that was at once waggish, conciliatory,
and expressive of approbation.
'I am not industrious myself, gents both,' said the head, 'but I know how to
appreciate that quality in others. I wish I may turn grey and ugly, if it isn't in my
opinion, next to genius, one of the very charmingest qualities of the human mind.
Upon my soul, I am grateful to my friend Pecksniff for helping me to the
contemplation of such a delicious picture as you present. You remind me of
Whittington, afterwards thrice Lord Mayor of London. I give you my unsullied
word of honour, that you very strongly remind me of that historical character. You
are a pair of Whittingtons, gents, without the cat; which is a most agreeable and
blessed exception to me, for I am not attached to the feline species. My name is
Tigg; how do you do?'
Martin looked to Mr Pinch for an explanation; and Tom, who had never in his life
set eyes on Mr Tigg before, looked to that gentleman himself.
'Chevy Slyme?' said Mr Tigg, interrogatively, and kissing his left hand in token of
friendship. 'You will understand me when I say that I am the accredited agent of
Chevy Slyme; that I am the ambassador from the court of Chiv? Ha ha!'