wohnzimmer konstanz bilder
our mutual friend by charles dickenschapter 1 of an educational character the school at which young charley hexam hadfirst learned from a book--the streets being, for pupils of his degree, the greatpreparatory establishment in which very much that is never unlearned is learned without and before book--was a miserableloft in an unsavoury yard. its atmosphere was oppressive anddisagreeable; it was crowded, noisy, and confusing; half the pupils dropped asleep,or fell into a state of waking stupefaction; the other half kept them in
either condition by maintaining amonotonous droning noise, as if they were performing, out of time and tune, on aruder sort of bagpipe. the teachers, animated solely by goodintentions, had no idea of execution, and a lamentable jumble was the upshot of theirkind endeavours. it was a school for all ages, and for bothsexes. the latter were kept apart, and the formerwere partitioned off into square assortments. but, all the place was pervaded by a grimlyludicrous pretence that every pupil was childish and innocent.
this pretence, much favoured by the lady-visitors, led to the ghastliest absurdities. young women old in the vices of thecommonest and worst life, were expected to profess themselves enthralled by the goodchild's book, the adventures of little margery, who resided in the village cottage by the mill; severely reproved and morallysquashed the miller, when she was five and he was fifty; divided her porridge withsinging birds; denied herself a new nankeen bonnet, on the ground that the turnips did not wear nankeen bonnets, neither did thesheep who ate them; who plaited straw and
delivered the dreariest orations to allcomers, at all sorts of unseasonable times. so, unwieldy young dredgers and hulkingmudlarks were referred to the experiences of thomas twopence, who, having resolvednot to rob (under circumstances of uncommon atrocity) his particular friend and benefactor, of eighteenpence, presentlycame into supernatural possession of three and sixpence, and lived a shining lightever afterwards. (note, that the benefactor came to nogood.) several swaggering sinners had writtentheir own biographies in the same strain; it always appearing from the lessons ofthose very boastful persons, that you were
to do good, not because it was good, but because you were to make a good thing ofit. contrariwise, the adult pupils were taughtto read (if they could learn) out of the new testament; and by dint of stumblingover the syllables and keeping their bewildered eyes on the particular syllables coming round to their turn, were asabsolutely ignorant of the sublime history, as if they had never seen or heard of it. an exceedingly and confoundingly perplexingjumble of a school, in fact, where black spirits and grey, red spirits and white,jumbled jumbled jumbled jumbled, jumbled
every night. and particularly every sunday night. for then, an inclined plane of unfortunateinfants would be handed over to the prosiest and worst of all the teachers withgood intentions, whom nobody older would endure. who, taking his stand on the floor beforethem as chief executioner, would be attended by a conventional volunteer boy asexecutioner's assistant. when and where it first became theconventional system that a weary or inattentive infant in a class must have itsface smoothed downward with a hot hand, or
when and where the conventional volunteer boy first beheld such system in operation,and became inflamed with a sacred zeal to administer it, matters not. it was the function of the chiefexecutioner to hold forth, and it was the function of the acolyte to dart at sleepinginfants, yawning infants, restless infants, whimpering infants, and smooth their wretched faces; sometimes with one hand, asif he were anointing them for a whisker; sometimes with both hands, applied afterthe fashion of blinkers. and so the jumble would be in action inthis department for a mortal hour; the
exponent drawling on to my dearertchilderrenerr, let us say, for example, about the beautiful coming to the sepulchre; and repeating the word sepulchre(commonly used among infants) five hundred times, and never once hinting what itmeant; the conventional boy smoothing away right and left, as an infallible commentary; the whole hot-bed of flushedand exhausted infants exchanging measles, rashes, whooping-cough, fever, and stomachdisorders, as if they were assembled in high market for the purpose. even in this temple of good intentions, anexceptionally sharp boy exceptionally
determined to learn, could learn something,and, having learned it, could impart it much better than the teachers; as being more knowing than they, and not at thedisadvantage in which they stood towards the shrewder pupils. in this way it had come about that charleyhexam had risen in the jumble, taught in the jumble, and been received from thejumble into a better school. 'so you want to go and see your sister,hexam?' 'if you please, mr headstone.''i have half a mind to go with you. where does your sister live?'
'why, she is not settled yet, mr headstone.i'd rather you didn't see her till she is settled, if it was all the same to you.''look here, hexam.' mr bradley headstone, highly certificatedstipendiary schoolmaster, drew his right forefinger through one of the buttonholesof the boy's coat, and looked at it attentively. 'i hope your sister may be good company foryou?' 'why do you doubt it, mr headstone?''i did not say i doubted it.' 'no, sir; you didn't say so.' bradley headstone looked at his fingeragain, took it out of the buttonhole and
looked at it closer, bit the side of it andlooked at it again. 'you see, hexam, you will be one of us. in good time you are sure to pass acreditable examination and become one of us.then the question is--' the boy waited so long for the question,while the schoolmaster looked at a new side of his finger, and bit it, and looked at itagain, that at length the boy repeated: 'the question is, sir--?' 'whether you had not better leave wellalone.' 'is it well to leave my sister alone, mrheadstone?'
'i do not say so, because i do not know. i put it to you.i ask you to think of it. i want you to consider.you know how well you are doing here.' 'after all, she got me here,' said the boy,with a struggle. 'perceiving the necessity of it,'acquiesced the schoolmaster, 'and making up her mind fully to the separation. yes.' the boy, with a return of that formerreluctance or struggle or whatever it was, seemed to debate with himself.at length he said, raising his eyes to the master's face:
'i wish you'd come with me and see her, mrheadstone, though she is not settled. i wish you'd come with me, and take her inthe rough, and judge her for yourself.' 'you are sure you would not like,' askedthe schoolmaster, 'to prepare her?' 'my sister lizzie,' said the boy, proudly,'wants no preparing, mr headstone. what she is, she is, and shows herself tobe. there's no pretending about my sister.' his confidence in her, sat more easily uponhim than the indecision with which he had twice contended. it was his better nature to be true to her,if it were his worse nature to be wholly
selfish.and as yet the better nature had the stronger hold. 'well, i can spare the evening,' said theschoolmaster. 'i am ready to walk with you.''thank you, mr headstone. and i am ready to go.' bradley headstone, in his decent black coatand waistcoat, and decent white shirt, and decent formal black tie, and decentpantaloons of pepper and salt, with his decent silver watch in his pocket and its decent hair-guard round his neck, looked athoroughly decent young man of six-and-
twenty. he was never seen in any other dress, andyet there was a certain stiffness in his manner of wearing this, as if there were awant of adaptation between him and it, recalling some mechanics in their holidayclothes. he had acquired mechanically a great storeof teacher's knowledge. he could do mental arithmetic mechanically,sing at sight mechanically, blow various wind instruments mechanically, even playthe great church organ mechanically. from his early childhood up, his mind hadbeen a place of mechanical stowage. the arrangement of his wholesale warehouse,so that it might be always ready to meet
the demands of retail dealers history here,geography there, astronomy to the right, political economy to the left--natural history, the physical sciences, figures,music, the lower mathematics, and what not, all in their several places--this care hadimparted to his countenance a look of care; while the habit of questioning and being questioned had given him a suspiciousmanner, or a manner that would be better described as one of lying in wait.there was a kind of settled trouble in the face. it was the face belonging to a naturallyslow or inattentive intellect that had
toiled hard to get what it had won, andthat had to hold it now that it was gotten. he always seemed to be uneasy lest anythingshould be missing from his mental warehouse, and taking stock to assurehimself. suppression of so much to make room for somuch, had given him a constrained manner, over and above. yet there was enough of what was animal,and of what was fiery (though smouldering), still visible in him, to suggest that ifyoung bradley headstone, when a pauper lad, had chanced to be told off for the sea, he would not have been the last man in aship's crew.
regarding that origin of his, he was proud,moody, and sullen, desiring it to be forgotten. and few people knew of it.in some visits to the jumble his attention had been attracted to this boy hexam. an undeniable boy for a pupil-teacher; anundeniable boy to do credit to the master who should bring him on. combined with this consideration, there mayhave been some thought of the pauper lad now never to be mentioned. be that how it might, he had with painsgradually worked the boy into his own
school, and procured him some offices todischarge there, which were repaid with food and lodging. such were the circumstances that hadbrought together, bradley headstone and young charley hexam that autumn evening. autumn, because full half a year had comeand gone since the bird of prey lay dead upon the river-shore. the schools--for they were twofold, as thesexes--were down in that district of the flat country tending to the thames, wherekent and surrey meet, and where the railways still bestride the market-gardensthat will soon die under them.
the schools were newly built, and therewere so many like them all over the country, that one might have thought thewhole were but one restless edifice with the locomotive gift of aladdin's palace. they were in a neighbourhood which lookedlike a toy neighbourhood taken in blocks out of a box by a child of particularlyincoherent mind, and set up anyhow; here, one side of a new street; there, a large solitary public-house facing nowhere; here,another unfinished street already in ruins; there, a church; here, an immense newwarehouse; there, a dilapidated old country villa; then, a medley of black ditch,
sparkling cucumber-frame, rank field,richly cultivated kitchen-garden, brick viaduct, arch-spanned canal, and disorderof frowziness and fog. as if the child had given the table a kick,and gone to sleep. but, even among school-buildings, school-teachers, and school-pupils, all according to pattern and all engendered in the lightof the latest gospel according to monotony, the older pattern into which so many fortunes have been shaped for good andevil, comes out. it came out in miss peecher theschoolmistress, watering her flowers, as mr bradley headstone walked forth.
it came out in miss peecher theschoolmistress, watering the flowers in the little dusty bit of garden attached to hersmall official residence, with little windows like the eyes in needles, and little doors like the covers of school-books. small, shining, neat, methodical, and buxomwas miss peecher; cherry-cheeked and tuneful of voice. a little pincushion, a little housewife, alittle book, a little workbox, a little set of tables and weights and measures, and alittle woman, all in one. she could write a little essay on anysubject, exactly a slate long, beginning at
the left-hand top of one side and ending atthe right-hand bottom of the other, and the essay should be strictly according to rule. if mr bradley headstone had addressed awritten proposal of marriage to her, she would probably have replied in a completelittle essay on the theme exactly a slate long, but would certainly have replied yes. for she loved him.the decent hair-guard that went round his neck and took care of his decent silverwatch was an object of envy to her. so would miss peecher have gone round hisneck and taken care of him. of him, insensible.because he did not love miss peecher.
miss peecher's favourite pupil, whoassisted her in her little household, was in attendance with a can of water toreplenish her little watering-pot, and sufficiently divined the state of miss peecher's affections to feel it necessarythat she herself should love young charley hexam. so, there was a double palpitation amongthe double stocks and double wall-flowers, when the master and the boy looked over thelittle gate. 'a fine evening, miss peecher,' said themaster. 'a very fine evening, mr headstone,' saidmiss peecher.
'are you taking a walk?' 'hexam and i are going to take a longwalk.' 'charming weather,' remarked miss peecher,for a long walk.' 'ours is rather on business than merepleasure,' said the master. miss peecher inverting her watering-pot,and very carefully shaking out the few last drops over a flower, as if there were somespecial virtue in them which would make it a jack's beanstalk before morning, called for replenishment to her pupil, who hadbeen speaking to the boy. 'good-night, miss peecher,' said themaster.
'good-night, mr headstone,' said themistress. the pupil had been, in her state ofpupilage, so imbued with the class-custom of stretching out an arm, as if to hail acab or omnibus, whenever she found she had an observation on hand to offer to miss peecher, that she often did it in theirdomestic relations; and she did it now. 'well, mary anne?' said miss peecher.'if you please, ma'am, hexam said they were going to see his sister.' 'but that can't be, i think,' returned misspeecher: 'because mr headstone can have no business with her.'mary anne again hailed.
'well, mary anne?' 'if you please, ma'am, perhaps it's hexam'sbusiness?' 'that may be,' said miss peecher.'i didn't think of that. not that it matters at all.' mary anne again hailed.'well, mary anne?' 'they say she's very handsome.' 'oh, mary anne, mary anne!' returned misspeecher, slightly colouring and shaking her head, a little out of humour; 'how oftenhave i told you not to use that vague expression, not to speak in that generalway?
when you say they say, what do you mean?part of speech they?' mary anne hooked her right arm behind herin her left hand, as being under examination, and replied:'personal pronoun.' 'person, they?' 'third person.''number, they?' 'plural number.''then how many do you mean, mary anne? two? or more?' 'i beg your pardon, ma'am,' said mary anne,disconcerted now she came to think of it; 'but i don't know that i mean more than herbrother himself.'
as she said it, she unhooked her arm. 'i felt convinced of it,' returned misspeecher, smiling again. 'now pray, mary anne, be careful anothertime. he says is very different from they say,remember. difference between he says and they say?give it me.' mary anne immediately hooked her right armbehind her in her left hand--an attitude absolutely necessary to the situation--andreplied: 'one is indicative mood, present tense, third person singular, verb activeto say. other is indicative mood, present tense,third person plural, verb active to say.'
'why verb active, mary anne?' 'because it takes a pronoun after it in theobjective case, miss peecher.' 'very good indeed,' remarked miss peecher,with encouragement. 'in fact, could not be better. don't forget to apply it, another time,mary anne.' this said, miss peecher finished thewatering of her flowers, and went into her little official residence, and took arefresher of the principal rivers and mountains of the world, their breadths, depths, and heights, before settling themeasurements of the body of a dress for her
own personal occupation. bradley headstone and charley hexam dulygot to the surrey side of westminster bridge, and crossed the bridge, and madealong the middlesex shore towards millbank. in this region are a certain little streetcalled church street, and a certain little blind square, called smith square, in thecentre of which last retreat is a very hideous church with four towers at the four corners, generally resembling somepetrified monster, frightful and gigantic, on its back with its legs in the air. they found a tree near by in a corner, anda blacksmith's forge, and a timber yard,
and a dealer's in old iron. what a rusty portion of a boiler and agreat iron wheel or so meant by lying half- buried in the dealer's fore-court, nobodyseemed to know or to want to know. like the miller of questionable jollity inthe song, they cared for nobody, no not they, and nobody cared for them. after making the round of this place, andnoting that there was a deadly kind of repose on it, more as though it had takenlaudanum than fallen into a natural rest, they stopped at the point where the street and the square joined, and where there weresome little quiet houses in a row.
to these charley hexam finally led the way,and at one of these stopped. 'this must be where my sister lives, sir. this is where she came for a temporarylodging, soon after father's death.' 'how often have you seen her since?' 'why, only twice, sir,' returned the boy,with his former reluctance; 'but that's as much her doing as mine.''how does she support herself?' 'she was always a fair needlewoman, and shekeeps the stockroom of a seaman's outfitter.''does she ever work at her own lodging here?'
'sometimes; but her regular hours andregular occupation are at their place of business, i believe, sir.this is the number.' the boy knocked at a door, and the doorpromptly opened with a spring and a click. a parlour door within a small entry stoodopen, and disclosed a child--a dwarf--a girl--a something--sitting on a little lowold-fashioned arm-chair, which had a kind of little working bench before it. 'i can't get up,' said the child, 'becausemy back's bad, and my legs are queer. but i'm the person of the house.''who else is at home?' asked charley hexam, staring.
'nobody's at home at present,' returned thechild, with a glib assertion of her dignity, 'except the person of the house.what did you want, young man?' 'i wanted to see my sister.' 'many young men have sisters,' returned thechild. 'give me your name, young man?' the queer little figure, and the queer butnot ugly little face, with its bright grey eyes, were so sharp, that the sharpness ofthe manner seemed unavoidable. as if, being turned out of that mould, itmust be sharp. 'hexam is my name.''ah, indeed?' said the person of the house.
'i thought it might be. your sister will be in, in about a quarterof an hour. i am very fond of your sister.she's my particular friend. take a seat. and this gentleman's name?''mr headstone, my schoolmaster.' 'take a seat.and would you please to shut the street door first? i can't very well do it myself; because myback's so bad, and my legs are so queer.' they complied in silence, and the littlefigure went on with its work of gumming or
gluing together with a camel's-hair brushcertain pieces of cardboard and thin wood, previously cut into various shapes. the scissors and knives upon the benchshowed that the child herself had cut them; and the bright scraps of velvet and silkand ribbon also strewn upon the bench showed that when duly stuffed (and stuffing too was there), she was to cover themsmartly. the dexterity of her nimble fingers wasremarkable, and, as she brought two thin edges accurately together by giving them alittle bite, she would glance at the visitors out of the corners of her grey
eyes with a look that out-sharpened all herother sharpness. 'you can't tell me the name of my trade,i'll be bound,' she said, after taking several of these observations. 'you make pincushions,' said charley.'what else do i make?' 'pen-wipers,' said bradley headstone.'ha! ha! what else do i make? you're a schoolmaster, but you can't tellme.' 'you do something,' he returned, pointingto a corner of the little bench, 'with straw; but i don't know what.'
'well done you!' cried the person of thehouse. 'i only make pincushions and pen-wipers, touse up my waste. but my straw really does belong to mybusiness. try again.what do i make with my straw?' 'dinner-mats?' 'a schoolmaster, and says dinner-mats!i'll give you a clue to my trade, in a game of forfeits. i love my love with a b because she'sbeautiful; i hate my love with a b because she is brazen; i took her to the sign ofthe blue boar, and i treated her with
bonnets; her name's bouncer, and she lives in bedlam.--now, what do i make with mystraw?' 'ladies' bonnets?''fine ladies',' said the person of the house, nodding assent. 'dolls'.i'm a doll's dressmaker.' 'i hope it's a good business?'the person of the house shrugged her shoulders and shook her head. 'no. poorly paid.and i'm often so pressed for time! i had a doll married, last week, and wasobliged to work all night.
and it's not good for me, on account of myback being so bad and my legs so queer.' they looked at the little creature with awonder that did not diminish, and the schoolmaster said: 'i am sorry your fineladies are so inconsiderate.' 'it's the way with them,' said the personof the house, shrugging her shoulders again. 'and they take no care of their clothes,and they never keep to the same fashions a month.i work for a doll with three daughters. bless you, she's enough to ruin herhusband!' the person of the house gave a weird littlelaugh here, and gave them another look out
of the corners of her eyes. she had an elfin chin that was capable ofgreat expression; and whenever she gave this look, she hitched this chin up.as if her eyes and her chin worked together on the same wires. 'are you always as busy as you are now?''busier. i'm slack just now.i finished a large mourning order the day before yesterday. doll i work for, lost a canary-bird.'the person of the house gave another little laugh, and then nodded her head severaltimes, as who should moralize, 'oh this
world, this world!' 'are you alone all day?' asked bradleyheadstone. 'don't any of the neighbouring children--?' 'ah, lud!' cried the person of the house,with a little scream, as if the word had pricked her.'don't talk of children. i can't bear children. i know their tricks and their manners.'she said this with an angry little shake of her tight fist close before her eyes. perhaps it scarcely required the teacher-habit, to perceive that the doll's
dressmaker was inclined to be bitter on thedifference between herself and other children. but both master and pupil understood it so.'always running about and screeching, always playing and fighting, always skip-skip-skipping on the pavement and chalking it for their games! oh! i know their tricks and their manners!'shaking the little fist as before. 'and that's not all. ever so often calling names in through aperson's keyhole, and imitating a person's back and legs.oh! i know their tricks and their manners.
and i'll tell you what i'd do, to punish'em. there's doors under the church in thesquare--black doors, leading into black vaults. well!i'd open one of those doors, and i'd cram 'em all in, and then i'd lock the door andthrough the keyhole i'd blow in pepper.' 'what would be the good of blowing inpepper?' asked charley hexam. 'to set 'em sneezing,' said the person ofthe house, 'and make their eyes water. and when they were all sneezing andinflamed, i'd mock 'em through the keyhole. just as they, with their tricks and theirmanners, mock a person through a person's
keyhole!' an uncommonly emphatic shake of her littlefist close before her eyes, seemed to ease the mind of the person of the house; forshe added with recovered composure, 'no, no, no. no children for me.give me grown-ups.' it was difficult to guess the age of thisstrange creature, for her poor figure furnished no clue to it, and her face wasat once so young and so old. twelve, or at the most thirteen, might benear the mark. 'i always did like grown-ups,' she went on,'and always kept company with them.
so sensible. sit so quiet.don't go prancing and capering about! and i mean always to keep among none butgrown-ups till i marry. i suppose i must make up my mind to marry,one of these days.' she listened to a step outside that caughther ear, and there was a soft knock at the door. pulling at a handle within her reach, shesaid, with a pleased laugh: 'now here, for instance, is a grown-up that's myparticular friend!' and lizzie hexam in a black dress entered the room.
'charley! you!'taking him to her arms in the old way--of which he seemed a little ashamed--she sawno one else. 'there, there, there, liz, all right mydear. see! here's mr headstone come with me.' her eyes met those of the schoolmaster, whohad evidently expected to see a very different sort of person, and a murmuredword or two of salutation passed between them. she was a little flurried by the unexpectedvisit, and the schoolmaster was not at his ease.but he never was, quite.
'i told mr headstone you were not settled,liz, but he was so kind as to take an interest in coming, and so i brought him.how well you look!' bradley seemed to think so. 'ah! don't she, don't she?' cried theperson of the house, resuming her occupation, though the twilight was fallingfast. 'i believe you she does! but go on with your chat, one and all: you one two three, my com-pa-nie,and don't mind me.' --pointing this impromptu rhyme with threepoints of her thin fore-finger.
'i didn't expect a visit from you,charley,' said his sister. 'i supposed that if you wanted to see meyou would have sent to me, appointing me to come somewhere near the school, as i didlast time. i saw my brother near the school, sir,' tobradley headstone, 'because it's easier for me to go there, than for him to come here.i work about midway between the two places.' 'you don't see much of one another,' saidbradley, not improving in respect of ease. 'no.'with a rather sad shake of her head. 'charley always does well, mr headstone?'
'he could not do better.i regard his course as quite plain before him.''i hoped so. i am so thankful. so well done of you, charley dear!it is better for me not to come (except when he wants me) between him and hisprospects. you think so, mr headstone?' conscious that his pupil-teacher waslooking for his answer, that he himself had suggested the boy's keeping aloof from thissister, now seen for the first time face to face, bradley headstone stammered:
'your brother is very much occupied, youknow. he has to work hard. one cannot but say that the less hisattention is diverted from his work, the better for his future.when he shall have established himself, why then--it will be another thing then.' lizzie shook her head again, and returned,with a quiet smile: 'i always advised him as you advise him.did i not, charley?' 'well, never mind that now,' said the boy. 'how are you getting on?''very well, charley.
i want for nothing.''you have your own room here?' 'oh yes. upstairs.and it's quiet, and pleasant, and airy.' 'and she always has the use of this roomfor visitors,' said the person of the house, screwing up one of her little bonyfists, like an opera-glass, and looking through it, with her eyes and her chin inthat quaint accordance. 'always this room for visitors; haven'tyou, lizzie dear?' it happened that bradley headstone noticeda very slight action of lizzie hexam's hand, as though it checked the doll'sdressmaker.
and it happened that the latter noticed himin the same instant; for she made a double eyeglass of her two hands, looked at himthrough it, and cried, with a waggish shake of her head: 'aha! caught you spying, didi?' it might have fallen out so, any way; butbradley headstone also noticed that immediately after this, lizzie, who had nottaken off her bonnet, rather hurriedly proposed that as the room was getting darkthey should go out into the air. they went out; the visitors saying good-night to the doll's dressmaker, whom they left, leaning back in her chair with herarms crossed, singing to herself in a sweet thoughtful little voice.
'i'll saunter on by the river,' saidbradley. 'you will be glad to talk together.' as his uneasy figure went on before themamong the evening shadows, the boy said to his sister, petulantly:'when are you going to settle yourself in some christian sort of place, liz? i thought you were going to do it beforenow.' 'i am very well where i am, charley.''very well where you are! i am ashamed to have brought mr headstonewith me. how came you to get into such company asthat little witch's?'
'by chance at first, as it seemed, charley. but i think it must have been by somethingmore than chance, for that child--you remember the bills upon the walls at home?''confound the bills upon the walls at home! i want to forget the bills upon the wallsat home, and it would be better for you to do the same,' grumbled the boy.'well; what of them?' 'this child is the grandchild of the oldman.' 'what old man?''the terrible drunken old man, in the list slippers and the night-cap.' the boy asked, rubbing his nose in a mannerthat half expressed vexation at hearing so
much, and half curiosity to hear more: 'howcame you to make that out? what a girl you are!' 'the child's father is employed by thehouse that employs me; that's how i came to know it, charley. the father is like his own father, a weakwretched trembling creature, falling to pieces, never sober.but a good workman too, at the work he does. the mother is dead.this poor ailing little creature has come to be what she is, surrounded by drunkenpeople from her cradle--if she ever had
one, charley.' 'i don't see what you have to do with her,for all that,' said the boy. 'don't you, charley?'the boy looked doggedly at the river. they were at millbank, and the river rolledon their left. his sister gently touched him on theshoulder, and pointed to it. 'any compensation--restitution--never mindthe word, you know my meaning. father's grave.'but he did not respond with any tenderness. after a moody silence he broke out in anill-used tone: 'it'll be a very hard thing, liz, if, wheni am trying my best to get up in the world,
you pull me back.' 'i, charley?''yes, you, liz. why can't you let bygones be bygones? why can't you, as mr headstone said to methis very evening about another matter, leave well alone? what we have got to do, is, to turn ourfaces full in our new direction, and keep straight on.''and never look back? not even to try to make some amends?' 'you are such a dreamer,' said the boy,with his former petulance.
'it was all very well when we sat beforethe fire--when we looked into the hollow down by the flare--but we are looking intothe real world, now.' 'ah, we were looking into the real worldthen, charley!' 'i understand what you mean by that, butyou are not justified in it. i don't want, as i raise myself to shakeyou off, liz. i want to carry you up with me.that's what i want to do, and mean to do. i know what i owe you. i said to mr headstone this very evening,"after all, my sister got me here." well, then.don't pull me back, and hold me down.
that's all i ask, and surely that's notunconscionable.' she had kept a steadfast look upon him, andshe answered with composure: 'i am not here selfishly, charley. to please myself i could not be too farfrom that river.' 'nor could you be too far from it to pleaseme. let us get quit of it equally. why should you linger about it any morethan i? i give it a wide berth.' 'i can't get away from it, i think,' saidlizzie, passing her hand across her
forehead.'it's no purpose of mine that i live by it still.' 'there you go, liz!dreaming again! you lodge yourself of your own accord in ahouse with a drunken--tailor, i suppose--or something of the sort, and a little crookedantic of a child, or old person, or whatever it is, and then you talk as if youwere drawn or driven there. now, do be more practical.' she had been practical enough with him, insuffering and striving for him; but she only laid her hand upon his shoulder--notreproachfully--and tapped it twice or
thrice. she had been used to do so, to soothe himwhen she carried him about, a child as heavy as herself.tears started to his eyes. 'upon my word, liz,' drawing the back ofhis hand across them, 'i mean to be a good brother to you, and to prove that i knowwhat i owe you. all i say is, that i hope you'll controlyour fancies a little, on my account. i'll get a school, and then you must comeand live with me, and you'll have to control your fancies then, so why not now? now, say i haven't vexed you.''you haven't, charley, you haven't.'
'and say i haven't hurt you.''you haven't, charley.' but this answer was less ready. 'say you are sure i didn't mean to.come! there's mr headstone stopping and lookingover the wall at the tide, to hint that it's time to go. kiss me, and tell me that you know i didn'tmean to hurt you.' she told him so, and they embraced, andwalked on and came up with the schoolmaster. 'but we go your sister's way,' he remarked,when the boy told him he was ready.
and with his cumbrous and uneasy action hestiffly offered her his arm. her hand was just within it, when she drewit back. he looked round with a start, as if hethought she had detected something that repelled her, in the momentary touch. 'i will not go in just yet,' said lizzie.'and you have a distance before you, and will walk faster without me.' being by this time close to vauxhallbridge, they resolved, in consequence, to take that way over the thames, and theyleft her; bradley headstone giving her his hand at parting, and she thanking him forhis care of her brother.
the master and the pupil walked on, rapidlyand silently. they had nearly crossed the bridge, when agentleman came coolly sauntering towards them, with a cigar in his mouth, his coatthrown back, and his hands behind him. something in the careless manner of thisperson, and in a certain lazily arrogant air with which he approached, holdingpossession of twice as much pavement as another would have claimed, instantlycaught the boy's attention. as the gentleman passed the boy looked athim narrowly, and then stood still, looking after him. 'who is it that you stare after?' askedbradley.
'why!' said the boy, with a confused andpondering frown upon his face, 'it is that wrayburn one!' bradley headstone scrutinized the boy asclosely as the boy had scrutinized the gentleman. 'i beg your pardon, mr headstone, but icouldn't help wondering what in the world brought him here!' though he said it as if his wonder werepast--at the same time resuming the walk-- it was not lost upon the master that helooked over his shoulder after speaking, and that the same perplexed and ponderingfrown was heavy on his face.
'you don't appear to like your friend,hexam?' 'i don't like him,' said the boy. 'why not?''he took hold of me by the chin in a precious impertinent way, the first time iever saw him,' said the boy. 'again, why?' 'for nothing.or--it's much the same--because something i happened to say about my sister didn'thappen to please him.' 'then he knows your sister?' 'he didn't at that time,' said the boy,still moodily pondering.
'does now?' the boy had so lost himself that he lookedat mr bradley headstone as they walked on side by side, without attempting to replyuntil the question had been repeated; then he nodded and answered, 'yes, sir.' 'going to see her, i dare say.''it can't be!' said the boy, quickly. 'he doesn't know her well enough.i should like to catch him at it!' when they had walked on for a time, morerapidly than before, the master said, clasping the pupil's arm between the elbowand the shoulder with his hand: 'you were going to tell me something aboutthat person.
what did you say his name was?''wrayburn. mr eugene wrayburn. he is what they call a barrister, withnothing to do. the first time he came to our old place waswhen my father was alive. he came on business; not that it was hisbusiness--he never had any business--he was brought by a friend of his.''and the other times?' 'there was only one other time that i knowof. when my father was killed by accident, hechanced to be one of the finders. he was mooning about, i suppose, takingliberties with people's chins; but there he
was, somehow. he brought the news home to my sister earlyin the morning, and brought miss abbey potterson, a neighbour, to help break it toher. he was mooning about the house when i wasfetched home in the afternoon--they didn't know where to find me till my sister couldbe brought round sufficiently to tell them- -and then he mooned away.' 'and is that all?''that's all, sir.' bradley headstone gradually released theboy's arm, as if he were thoughtful, and they walked on side by side as before.
after a long silence between them, bradleyresumed the talk. 'i suppose--your sister--' with a curiousbreak both before and after the words, 'has received hardly any teaching, hexam?' 'hardly any, sir.''sacrificed, no doubt, to her father's objections.i remember them in your case. yet--your sister--scarcely looks or speakslike an ignorant person.' 'lizzie has as much thought as the best, mrheadstone. too much, perhaps, without teaching. i used to call the fire at home, her books,for she was always full of fancies--
sometimes quite wise fancies, considering--when she sat looking at it.' 'i don't like that,' said bradleyheadstone. his pupil was a little surprised by thisstriking in with so sudden and decided and emotional an objection, but took it as aproof of the master's interest in himself. it emboldened him to say: 'i have never brought myself to mention itopenly to you, mr headstone, and you're my witness that i couldn't even make up mymind to take it from you before we came out to-night; but it's a painful thing to think that if i get on as well as you hope, ishall be--i won't say disgraced, because i
don't mean disgraced-but--rather put to theblush if it was known--by a sister who has been very good to me.' 'yes,' said bradley headstone in a slurringway, for his mind scarcely seemed to touch that point, so smoothly did it glide toanother, 'and there is this possibility to consider. some man who had worked his way might cometo admire--your sister--and might even in time bring himself to think of marrying--your sister--and it would be a sad drawback and a heavy penalty upon him, if; overcoming in his mind other inequalitiesof condition and other considerations
against it, this inequality and thisconsideration remained in full force.' 'that's much my own meaning, sir.' 'ay, ay,' said bradley headstone, 'but youspoke of a mere brother. now, the case i have supposed would be amuch stronger case; because an admirer, a husband, would form the connexionvoluntarily, besides being obliged to proclaim it: which a brother is not. after all, you know, it must be said of youthat you couldn't help yourself: while it would be said of him, with equal reason,that he could.' 'that's true, sir.
sometimes since lizzie was left free byfather's death, i have thought that such a young woman might soon acquire more thanenough to pass muster. and sometimes i have even thought thatperhaps miss peecher--' 'for the purpose, i would advise not misspeecher,' bradley headstone struck in with a recurrence of his late decision ofmanner. 'would you be so kind as to think of it forme, mr headstone?' 'yes, hexam, yes.i'll think of it. i'll think maturely of it. i'll think well of it.'their walk was almost a silent one
afterwards, until it ended at the school-house. there, one of neat miss peecher's littlewindows, like the eyes in needles, was illuminated, and in a corner near it satmary anne watching, while miss peecher at the table stitched at the neat little body she was making up by brown paper patternfor her own wearing. n.b. miss peecher and miss peecher's pupils werenot much encouraged in the unscholastic art of needlework, by government.mary anne with her face to the window, held her arm up.
'well, mary anne?''mr headstone coming home, ma'am.' in about a minute, mary anne again hailed.'yes, mary anne?' 'gone in and locked his door, ma'am.' miss peecher repressed a sigh as shegathered her work together for bed, and transfixed that part of her dress where herheart would have been if she had had the dress on, with a sharp, sharp needle. > our mutual friend by charles dickenschapter 2 still educational
the person of the house, doll's dressmakerand manufacturer of ornamental pincushions and pen-wipers, sat in her quaint littlelow arm-chair, singing in the dark, until lizzie came back. the person of the house had attained thatdignity while yet of very tender years indeed, through being the only trustworthyperson in the house. 'well lizzie-mizzie-wizzie,' said she,breaking off in her song, 'what's the news out of doors?' 'what's the news in doors?' returnedlizzie, playfully smoothing the bright long fair hair which grew very luxuriant andbeautiful on the head of the doll's
dressmaker. 'let me see, said the blind man.why the last news is, that i don't mean to marry your brother.''no?' 'no-o,' shaking her head and her chin. 'don't like the boy.''what do you say to his master?' 'i say that i think he's bespoke.' lizzie finished putting the hair carefullyback over the misshapen shoulders, and then lighted a candle.it showed the little parlour to be dingy, but orderly and clean.
she stood it on the mantelshelf, remotefrom the dressmaker's eyes, and then put the room door open, and the house dooropen, and turned the little low chair and its occupant towards the outer air. it was a sultry night, and this was a fine-weather arrangement when the day's work was done. to complete it, she seated herself in achair by the side of the little chair, and protectingly drew under her arm the sparehand that crept up to her. 'this is what your loving jenny wren callsthe best time in the day and night,' said the person of the house.
her real name was fanny cleaver; but shehad long ago chosen to bestow upon herself the appellation of miss jenny wren. 'i have been thinking,' jenny went on, 'asi sat at work to-day, what a thing it would be, if i should be able to have yourcompany till i am married, or at least courted. because when i am courted, i shall make himdo some of the things that you do for me. he couldn't brush my hair like you do, orhelp me up and down stairs like you do, and he couldn't do anything like you do; but hecould take my work home, and he could call for orders in his clumsy way.
and he shall too.i'll trot him about, i can tell him!' jenny wren had her personal vanities--happily for her--and no intentions were stronger in her breast than the varioustrials and torments that were, in the fulness of time, to be inflicted upon'him.' 'wherever he may happen to be just atpresent, or whoever he may happen to be,' said miss wren, 'i know his tricks and hismanners, and i give him warning to look out.' 'don't you think you are rather hard uponhim?' asked her friend, smiling, and smoothing her hair.'not a bit,' replied the sage miss wren,
with an air of vast experience. 'my dear, they don't care for you, thosefellows, if you're not hard upon 'em. but i was saying if i should be able tohave your company. ah! what a large if! ain't it?''i have no intention of parting company, jenny.''don't say that, or you'll go directly.' 'am i so little to be relied upon?' 'you're more to be relied upon than silverand gold.' as she said it, miss wren suddenly brokeoff, screwed up her eyes and her chin, and
looked prodigiously knowing. 'aha! who comes here? a grenadier.what does he want? a pot of beer. and nothing else in the world, my dear!'a man's figure paused on the pavement at the outer door.'mr eugene wrayburn, ain't it?' said miss wren. 'so i am told,' was the answer.'you may come in, if you're good.' 'i am not good,' said eugene, 'but i'llcome in.' he gave his hand to jenny wren, and he gavehis hand to lizzie, and he stood leaning by
the door at lizzie's side. he had been strolling with his cigar, hesaid, (it was smoked out and gone by this time,) and he had strolled round to returnin that direction that he might look in as he passed. had she not seen her brother to-night?'yes,' said lizzie, whose manner was a little troubled.gracious condescension on our brother's part! mr eugene wrayburn thought he had passed myyoung gentleman on the bridge yonder. who was his friend with him?'the schoolmaster.'
'to be sure. looked like it.'lizzie sat so still, that one could not have said wherein the fact of her mannerbeing troubled was expressed; and yet one could not have doubted it. eugene was as easy as ever; but perhaps, asshe sat with her eyes cast down, it might have been rather more perceptible that hisattention was concentrated upon her for certain moments, than its concentration upon any subject for any short time everwas, elsewhere. 'i have nothing to report, lizzie,' saideugene.
'but, having promised you that an eyeshould be always kept on mr riderhood through my friend lightwood, i likeoccasionally to renew my assurance that i keep my promise, and keep my friend up tothe mark.' 'i should not have doubted it, sir.' 'generally, i confess myself a man to bedoubted,' returned eugene, coolly, 'for all that.''why are you?' asked the sharp miss wren. 'because, my dear,' said the airy eugene,'i am a bad idle dog.' 'then why don't you reform and be a gooddog?' inquired miss wren. 'because, my dear,' returned eugene,'there's nobody who makes it worth my
while.have you considered my suggestion, lizzie?' this in a lower voice, but only as if itwere a graver matter; not at all to the exclusion of the person of the house. 'i have thought of it, mr wrayburn, but ihave not been able to make up my mind to accept it.''false pride!' said eugene. 'i think not, mr wrayburn. i hope not.''false pride!' repeated eugene. 'why, what else is it?the thing is worth nothing in itself. the thing is worth nothing to me.
what can it be worth to me?you know the most i make of it. i propose to be of some use to somebody--which i never was in this world, and never shall be on any other occasion--by payingsome qualified person of your own sex and age, so many (or rather so few) contemptible shillings, to come here,certain nights in the week, and give you certain instruction which you wouldn't wantif you hadn't been a self-denying daughter and sister. you know that it's good to have it, or youwould never have so devoted yourself to your brother's having it.
then why not have it: especially when ourfriend miss jenny here would profit by it too? if i proposed to be the teacher, or toattend the lessons--obviously incongruous!- -but as to that, i might as well be on theother side of the globe, or not on the globe at all. false pride, lizzie.because true pride wouldn't shame, or be shamed by, your thankless brother. true pride wouldn't have schoolmastersbrought here, like doctors, to look at a bad case.true pride would go to work and do it.
you know that, well enough, for you knowthat your own true pride would do it to- morrow, if you had the ways and means whichfalse pride won't let me supply. very well. i add no more than this.your false pride does wrong to yourself and does wrong to your dead father.''how to my father, mr wrayburn?' she asked, with an anxious face. 'how to your father?can you ask! by perpetuating the consequences of hisignorant and blind obstinacy. by resolving not to set right the wrong hedid you.
by determining that the deprivation towhich he condemned you, and which he forced upon you, shall always rest upon his head.' it chanced to be a subtle string to sound,in her who had so spoken to her brother within the hour. it sounded far more forcibly, because ofthe change in the speaker for the moment; the passing appearance of earnestness,complete conviction, injured resentment of suspicion, generous and unselfish interest. all these qualities, in him usually solight and careless, she felt to be inseparable from some touch of theiropposites in her own breast.
she thought, had she, so far below him andso different, rejected this disinterestedness, because of some vainmisgiving that he sought her out, or heeded any personal attractions that he mightdescry in her? the poor girl, pure of heart and purpose,could not bear to think it. sinking before her own eyes, as shesuspected herself of it, she drooped her head as though she had done him some wickedand grievous injury, and broke into silent tears. 'don't be distressed,' said eugene, very,very kindly. 'i hope it is not i who have distressedyou.
i meant no more than to put the matter inits true light before you; though i acknowledge i did it selfishly enough, fori am disappointed.' disappointed of doing her a service. how else could he be disappointed?'it won't break my heart,' laughed eugene; 'it won't stay by me eight-and-forty hours;but i am genuinely disappointed. i had set my fancy on doing this littlething for you and for our friend miss jenny.the novelty of my doing anything in the least useful, had its charms. i see, now, that i might have managed itbetter.
i might have affected to do it wholly forour friend miss j. i might have got myself up, morally, as sireugene bountiful. but upon my soul i can't make flourishes,and i would rather be disappointed than try.' if he meant to follow home what was inlizzie's thoughts, it was skilfully done. if he followed it by mere fortuitouscoincidence, it was done by an evil chance. 'it opened out so naturally before me,'said eugene. 'the ball seemed so thrown into my hands byaccident! i happen to be originally brought intocontact with you, lizzie, on those two
occasions that you know of. i happen to be able to promise you that awatch shall be kept upon that false accuser, riderhood. i happen to be able to give you some littleconsolation in the darkest hour of your distress, by assuring you that i don'tbelieve him. on the same occasion i tell you that i amthe idlest and least of lawyers, but that i am better than none, in a case i have noteddown with my own hand, and that you may be always sure of my best help, and incidentally of lightwood's too, in yourefforts to clear your father.
so, it gradually takes my fancy that i mayhelp you--so easily!--to clear your father of that other blame which i mentioned a fewminutes ago, and which is a just and real one. i hope i have explained myself; for i amheartily sorry to have distressed you. i hate to claim to mean well, but i reallydid mean honestly and simply well, and i want you to know it.' 'i have never doubted that, mr wrayburn,'said lizzie; the more repentant, the less he claimed.'i am very glad to hear it. though if you had quite understood my wholemeaning at first, i think you would not
have refused.do you think you would?' 'i--don't know that i should, mr wrayburn.' 'well!then why refuse now you do understand it?' 'it's not easy for me to talk to you,'returned lizzie, in some confusion, 'for you see all the consequences of what i say,as soon as i say it.' 'take all the consequences,' laughedeugene, 'and take away my disappointment. lizzie hexam, as i truly respect you, andas i am your friend and a poor devil of a gentleman, i protest i don't even nowunderstand why you hesitate.' there was an appearance of openness,trustfulness, unsuspecting generosity, in
his words and manner, that won the poorgirl over; and not only won her over, but again caused her to feel as though she had been influenced by the opposite qualities,with vanity at their head. 'i will not hesitate any longer, mrwrayburn. i hope you will not think the worse of mefor having hesitated at all. for myself and for jenny--you let me answerfor you, jenny dear?' the little creature had been leaning back,attentive, with her elbows resting on the elbows of her chair, and her chin upon herhands. without changing her attitude, sheanswered, 'yes!' so suddenly that it rather
seemed as if she had chopped themonosyllable than spoken it. 'for myself and for jenny, i thankfullyaccept your kind offer.' 'agreed! dismissed!' said eugene, giving lizzie hishand before lightly waving it, as if he waved the whole subject away.'i hope it may not be often that so much is made of so little!' then he fell to talking playfully withjenny wren. 'i think of setting up a doll, miss jenny,'he said. 'you had better not,' replied thedressmaker.
'why not?''you are sure to break it. all you children do.' 'but that makes good for trade, you know,miss wren,' returned eugene. 'much as people's breaking promises andcontracts and bargains of all sorts, makes good for my trade.' 'i don't know about that,' miss wrenretorted; 'but you had better by half set up a pen-wiper, and turn industrious, anduse it.' 'why, if we were all as industrious as you,little busy-body, we should begin to work as soon as we could crawl, and there wouldbe a bad thing!'
'do you mean,' returned the littlecreature, with a flush suffusing her face, 'bad for your backs and your legs?' 'no, no, no,' said eugene; shocked--to dohim justice--at the thought of trifling with her infirmity.'bad for business, bad for business. if we all set to work as soon as we coulduse our hands, it would be all over with the dolls' dressmakers.' 'there's something in that,' replied misswren; 'you have a sort of an idea in your noddle sometimes.' then, in a changed tone; 'talking of ideas,my lizzie,' they were sitting side by side
as they had sat at first, 'i wonder how ithappens that when i am work, work, working here, all alone in the summer-time, i smellflowers.' 'as a commonplace individual, i shouldsay,' eugene suggested languidly--for he was growing weary of the person of thehouse--'that you smell flowers because you do smell flowers.' 'no i don't,' said the little creature,resting one arm upon the elbow of her chair, resting her chin upon that hand, andlooking vacantly before her; 'this is not a flowery neighbourhood. it's anything but that.and yet as i sit at work, i smell miles of
flowers. i smell roses, till i think i see the rose-leaves lying in heaps, bushels, on the floor.i smell fallen leaves, till i put down my hand--so--and expect to make them rustle. i smell the white and the pink may in thehedges, and all sorts of flowers that i never was among.for i have seen very few flowers indeed, in my life.' 'pleasant fancies to have, jenny dear!'said her friend: with a glance towards eugene as if she would have asked himwhether they were given the child in
compensation for her losses. 'so i think, lizzie, when they come to me.and the birds i hear! oh!' cried the little creature, holding outher hand and looking upward, 'how they sing!' there was something in the face and actionfor the moment, quite inspired and beautiful.then the chin dropped musingly upon the hand again. 'i dare say my birds sing better than otherbirds, and my flowers smell better than other flowers.
for when i was a little child,' in a toneas though it were ages ago, 'the children that i used to see early in the morningwere very different from any others that i ever saw. they were not like me; they were notchilled, anxious, ragged, or beaten; they were never in pain. they were not like the children of theneighbours; they never made me tremble all over, by setting up shrill noises, and theynever mocked me. such numbers of them too! all in white dresses, and with somethingshining on the borders, and on their heads,
that i have never been able to imitate withmy work, though i know it so well. they used to come down in long brightslanting rows, and say all together, "who is this in pain!who is this in pain!" when i told them who it was, they answered,"come and play with us!" when i said "i never play!i can't play!" they swept about me and took me up, and made me light. then it was all delicious ease and resttill they laid me down, and said, all together, "have patience, and we will comeagain." whenever they came back, i used to knowthey were coming before i saw the long
bright rows, by hearing them ask, alltogether a long way off, "who is this in pain! who is this in pain!"and i used to cry out, "o my blessed children, it's poor me.have pity on me. take me up and make me light!"' by degrees, as she progressed in thisremembrance, the hand was raised, the late ecstatic look returned, and she becamequite beautiful. having so paused for a moment, silent, witha listening smile upon her face, she looked round and recalled herself.'what poor fun you think me; don't you, mr
wrayburn? you may well look tired of me.but it's saturday night, and i won't detain you.' 'that is to say, miss wren,' observedeugene, quite ready to profit by the hint, 'you wish me to go?''well, it's saturday night,' she returned, and my child's coming home. and my child is a troublesome bad child,and costs me a world of scolding. i would rather you didn't see my child.''a doll?' said eugene, not understanding, and looking for an explanation.
but lizzie, with her lips only, shaping thetwo words, 'her father,' he delayed no longer.he took his leave immediately. at the corner of the street he stopped tolight another cigar, and possibly to ask himself what he was doing otherwise.if so, the answer was indefinite and vague. who knows what he is doing, who is carelesswhat he does! a man stumbled against him as he turnedaway, who mumbled some maudlin apology. looking after this man, eugene saw him goin at the door by which he himself had just come out.on the man's stumbling into the room, lizzie rose to leave it.
'don't go away, miss hexam,' he said in asubmissive manner, speaking thickly and with difficulty.'don't fly from unfortunate man in shattered state of health. give poor invalid honour of your company.it ain't--ain't catching.' lizzie murmured that she had something todo in her own room, and went away upstairs. 'how's my jenny?' said the man, timidly. 'how's my jenny wren, best of children,object dearest affections broken-hearted invalid?' to which the person of the house,stretching out her arm in an attitude of
command, replied with irresponsiveasperity: 'go along with you! go along into your corner! get into your corner directly!' the wretched spectacle made as if he wouldhave offered some remonstrance; but not venturing to resist the person of thehouse, thought better of it, and went and sat down on a particular chair of disgrace. 'oh-h-h!' cried the person of the house,pointing her little finger, 'you bad old boy!oh-h-h you naughty, wicked creature! what do you mean by it?'
the shaking figure, unnerved and disjointedfrom head to foot, put out its two hands a little way, as making overtures of peaceand reconciliation. abject tears stood in its eyes, and stainedthe blotched red of its cheeks. the swollen lead-coloured under liptrembled with a shameful whine. the whole indecorous threadbare ruin, fromthe broken shoes to the prematurely-grey scanty hair, grovelled. not with any sense worthy to be called asense, of this dire reversal of the places of parent and child, but in a pitifulexpostulation to be let off from a scolding.
'i know your tricks and your manners,'cried miss wren. 'i know where you've been to!'(which indeed it did not require discernment to discover). 'oh, you disgraceful old chap!'the very breathing of the figure was contemptible, as it laboured and rattled inthat operation, like a blundering clock. 'slave, slave, slave, from morning tonight,' pursued the person of the house, 'and all for this!what do you mean by it?' there was something in that emphasized'what,' which absurdly frightened the figure.
as often as the person of the house workedher way round to it--even as soon as he saw that it was coming--he collapsed in anextra degree. 'i wish you had been taken up, and lockedup,' said the person of the house. 'i wish you had been poked into cells andblack holes, and run over by rats and spiders and beetles. i know their tricks and their manners, andthey'd have tickled you nicely. ain't you ashamed of yourself?''yes, my dear,' stammered the father. 'then,' said the person of the house,terrifying him by a grand muster of her spirits and forces before recurring to theemphatic word, 'what do you mean by it?'
'circumstances over which had no control,'was the miserable creature's plea in extenuation. 'i'll circumstance you and control youtoo,' retorted the person of the house, speaking with vehement sharpness, 'if youtalk in that way. i'll give you in charge to the police, andhave you fined five shillings when you can't pay, and then i won't pay the moneyfor you, and you'll be transported for life. how should you like to be transported forlife?' 'shouldn't like it.poor shattered invalid.
trouble nobody long,' cried the wretchedfigure. 'come, come!' said the person of the house,tapping the table near her in a business- like manner, and shaking her head and herchin; 'you know what you've got to do. put down your money this instant.' the obedient figure began to rummage in itspockets. 'spent a fortune out of your wages, i'll bebound!' said the person of the house. 'put it here! all you've got left!every farthing!' such a business as he made of collecting itfrom his dogs'-eared pockets; of expecting
it in this pocket, and not finding it; ofnot expecting it in that pocket, and passing it over; of finding no pocket wherethat other pocket ought to be! 'is this all?' demanded the person of thehouse, when a confused heap of pence and shillings lay on the table. 'got no more,' was the rueful answer, withan accordant shake of the head. 'let me make sure.you know what you've got to do. turn all your pockets inside out, and leave'em so!' cried the person of the house. he obeyed. and if anything could have made him lookmore abject or more dismally ridiculous
than before, it would have been his sodisplaying himself. 'here's but seven and eightpencehalfpenny!' exclaimed miss wren, after reducing the heap to order.'oh, you prodigal old son! now you shall be starved.' 'no, don't starve me,' he urged,whimpering. 'if you were treated as you ought to be,'said miss wren, 'you'd be fed upon the skewers of cats' meat;--only the skewers,after the cats had had the meat. as it is, go to bed.' when he stumbled out of the corner tocomply, he again put out both his hands,
and pleaded: 'circumstances over which nocontrol--' 'get along with you to bed!' cried misswren, snapping him up. 'don't speak to me.i'm not going to forgive you. go to bed this moment!' seeing another emphatic 'what' upon itsway, he evaded it by complying and was heard to shuffle heavily up stairs, andshut his door, and throw himself on his bed. within a little while afterwards, lizziecame down. 'shall we have our supper, jenny dear?'
'ah! bless us and save us, we need havesomething to keep us going,' returned miss jenny, shrugging her shoulders. lizzie laid a cloth upon the little bench(more handy for the person of the house than an ordinary table), and put upon itsuch plain fare as they were accustomed to have, and drew up a stool for herself. 'now for supper!what are you thinking of, jenny darling?' 'i was thinking,' she returned, coming outof a deep study, 'what i would do to him, if he should turn out a drunkard.' 'oh, but he won't,' said lizzie.'you'll take care of that, beforehand.'
'i shall try to take care of it beforehand,but he might deceive me. oh, my dear, all those fellows with theirtricks and their manners do deceive!' with the little fist in full action.'and if so, i tell you what i think i'd do. when he was asleep, i'd make a spoon redhot, and i'd have some boiling liquor bubbling in a saucepan, and i'd take it outhissing, and i'd open his mouth with the other hand--or perhaps he'd sleep with his mouth ready open--and i'd pour it down histhroat, and blister it and choke him.' 'i am sure you would do no such horriblething,' said lizzie. 'shouldn't i?
well; perhaps i shouldn't.but i should like to!' 'i am equally sure you would not.''not even like to? well, you generally know best. only you haven't always lived among it as ihave lived--and your back isn't bad and your legs are not queer.' as they went on with their supper, lizzietried to bring her round to that prettier and better state.but, the charm was broken. the person of the house was the person of ahouse full of sordid shames and cares, with an upper room in which that abased figurewas infecting even innocent sleep with
sensual brutality and degradation. the doll's dressmaker had become a littlequaint shrew; of the world, worldly; of the earth, earthy.poor doll's dressmaker! how often so dragged down by hands thatshould have raised her up; how often so misdirected when losing her way on theeternal road, and asking guidance! poor, poor little doll's dressmaker! our mutual friend by charles dickenschapter 3 a piece of work britannia, sitting meditating one fine day(perhaps in the attitude in which she is
presented on the copper coinage), discoversall of a sudden that she wants veneering in parliament. it occurs to her that veneering is 'arepresentative man'--which cannot in these times be doubted--and that her majesty'sfaithful commons are incomplete without him. so, britannia mentions to a legal gentlemanof her acquaintance that if veneering will 'put down' five thousand pounds, he maywrite a couple of initial letters after his name at the extremely cheap rate of twothousand five hundred per letter. it is clearly understood between britanniaand the legal gentleman that nobody is to
take up the five thousand pounds, but thatbeing put down they will disappear by magical conjuration and enchantment. the legal gentleman in britannia'sconfidence going straight from that lady to veneering, thus commissioned, veneeringdeclares himself highly flattered, but requires breathing time to ascertain'whether his friends will rally round him.' above all things, he says, it behoves himto be clear, at a crisis of this importance, 'whether his friends will rallyround him.' the legal gentleman, in the interests ofhis client cannot allow much time for this purpose, as the lady rather thinks sheknows somebody prepared to put down six
thousand pounds; but he says he will giveveneering four hours. veneering then says to mrs veneering, 'wemust work,' and throws himself into a hansom cab. mrs veneering in the same momentrelinquishes baby to nurse; presses her aquiline hands upon her brow, to arrangethe throbbing intellect within; orders out the carriage; and repeats in a distracted and devoted manner, compounded of opheliaand any self-immolating female of antiquity you may prefer, 'we must work.' veneering having instructed his driver tocharge at the public in the streets, like
the life-guards at waterloo, is drivenfuriously to duke street, saint james's. there, he finds twemlow in his lodgings,fresh from the hands of a secret artist who has been doing something to his hair withyolks of eggs. the process requiring that twemlow shall,for two hours after the application, allow his hair to stick upright and drygradually, he is in an appropriate state for the receipt of startling intelligence; looking equally like the monument on fishstreet hill, and king priam on a certain incendiary occasion not wholly unknown as aneat point from the classics. 'my dear twemlow,' says veneering, graspingboth his hands, as the dearest and oldest
of my friends--'('then there can be no more doubt about it in future,' thinks twemlow, 'and i am!') '--are you of opinion that your cousin,lord snigsworth, would give his name as a member of my committee?i don't go so far as to ask for his lordship; i only ask for his name. do you think he would give me his name?'in sudden low spirits, twemlow replies, 'i don't think he would.' 'my political opinions,' says veneering,not previously aware of having any, 'are identical with those of lord snigsworth,and perhaps as a matter of public feeling
and public principle, lord snigsworth wouldgive me his name.' 'it might be so,' says twemlow; 'but--' andperplexedly scratching his head, forgetful of the yolks of eggs, is the morediscomfited by being reminded how stickey he is. 'between such old and intimate friends asourselves,' pursues veneering, 'there should in such a case be no reserve. promise me that if i ask you to do anythingfor me which you don't like to do, or feel the slightest difficulty in doing, you willfreely tell me so.' this, twemlow is so kind as to promise,with every appearance of most heartily
intending to keep his word. 'would you have any objection to write downto snigsworthy park, and ask this favour of lord snigsworth? of course if it were granted i should knowthat i owed it solely to you; while at the same time you would put it to lordsnigsworth entirely upon public grounds. would you have any objection?' says twemlow, with his hand to hisforehead, 'you have exacted a promise from me.''i have, my dear twemlow.' 'and you expect me to keep it honourably.'
'i do, my dear twemlow.' 'on the whole, then;--observe me,' urgestwemlow with great nicety, as if; in the case of its having been off the whole, hewould have done it directly--'on the whole, i must beg you to excuse me from addressingany communication to lord snigsworth.' 'bless you, bless you!' says veneering;horribly disappointed, but grasping him by both hands again, in a particularly ferventmanner. it is not to be wondered at that poortwemlow should decline to inflict a letter on his noble cousin (who has gout in thetemper), inasmuch as his noble cousin, who allows him a small annuity on which he
lives, takes it out of him, as the phrasegoes, in extreme severity; putting him, when he visits at snigsworthy park, under akind of martial law; ordaining that he shall hang his hat on a particular peg, sit on a particular chair, talk on particularsubjects to particular people, and perform particular exercises: such as sounding thepraises of the family varnish (not to say pictures), and abstaining from the choicest of the family wines unless expresslyinvited to partake. 'one thing, however, i can do for you,'says twemlow; 'and that is, work for you.' veneering blesses him again.
'i'll go,' says twemlow, in a rising hurryof spirits, 'to the club;--let us see now; what o'clock is it?''twenty minutes to eleven.' 'i'll be,' says twemlow, 'at the club byten minutes to twelve, and i'll never leave it all day.' veneering feels that his friends arerallying round him, and says, 'thank you, thank you.i knew i could rely upon you. i said to anastatia before leaving homejust now to come to you--of course the first friend i have seen on a subject somomentous to me, my dear twemlow--i said to anastatia, "we must work."'
'you were right, you were right,' repliestwemlow. 'tell me.is she working?' 'she is,' says veneering. 'good!' cries twemlow, polite littlegentleman that he is. 'a woman's tact is invaluable.to have the dear sex with us, is to have everything with us.' 'but you have not imparted to me,' remarksveneering, 'what you think of my entering the house of commons?''i think,' rejoins twemlow, feelingly, 'that it is the best club in london.'
veneering again blesses him, plunges downstairs, rushes into his hansom, and directs the driver to be up and at the britishpublic, and to charge into the city. meanwhile twemlow, in an increasing hurryof spirits, gets his hair down as well as he can--which is not very well; for, afterthese glutinous applications it is restive, and has a surface on it somewhat in the nature of pastry--and gets to the club bythe appointed time. at the club he promptly secures a largewindow, writing materials, and all the newspapers, and establishes himself;immoveable, to be respectfully contemplated by pall mall.
sometimes, when a man enters who nods tohim, twemlow says, 'do you know veneering?' man says, 'no; member of the club?'twemlow says, 'yes. coming in for pocket- breaches.' man says, 'ah!hope he may find it worth the money!' yawns, and saunters out. towards six o'clock of the afternoon,twemlow begins to persuade himself that he is positively jaded with work, and thinksit much to be regretted that he was not brought up as a parliamentary agent. from twemlow's, veneering dashes atpodsnap's place of business.
finds podsnap reading the paper, standing,and inclined to be oratorical over the astonishing discovery he has made, thatitaly is not england. respectfully entreats podsnap's pardon forstopping the flow of his words of wisdom, and informs him what is in the wind.tells podsnap that their political opinions are identical. gives podsnap to understand that he,veneering, formed his political opinions while sitting at the feet of him, podsnap.seeks earnestly to know whether podsnap 'will rally round him?' says podsnap, something sternly, 'now,first of all, veneering, do you ask my
advice?'veneering falters that as so old and so dear a friend-- 'yes, yes, that's all very well,' sayspodsnap; 'but have you made up your mind to take this borough of pocket-breaches on itsown terms, or do you ask my opinion whether you shall take it or leave it alone?' veneering repeats that his heart's desireand his soul's thirst are, that podsnap shall rally round him.'now, i'll be plain with you, veneering,' says podsnap, knitting his brows. 'you will infer that i don't care aboutparliament, from the fact of my not being
there?'why, of course veneering knows that! of course veneering knows that if podsnapchose to go there, he would be there, in a space of time that might be stated by thelight and thoughtless as a jiffy. 'it is not worth my while,' pursuespodsnap, becoming handsomely mollified, 'and it is the reverse of important to myposition. but it is not my wish to set myself up aslaw for another man, differently situated. you think it is worth your while, and isimportant to your position. is that so?' always with the proviso that podsnap willrally round him, veneering thinks it is so.
'then you don't ask my advice,' sayspodsnap. 'good. then i won't give it you.but you do ask my help. good.then i'll work for you.' veneering instantly blesses him, andapprises him that twemlow is already working. podsnap does not quite approve that anybodyshould be already working--regarding it rather in the light of a liberty--buttolerates twemlow, and says he is a well- connected old female who will do no harm.
'i have nothing very particular to do to-day,' adds podsnap, 'and i'll mix with some influential people. i had engaged myself to dinner, but i'llsend mrs podsnap and get off going myself; and i'll dine with you at eight.it's important we should report progress and compare notes. now, let me see.you ought to have a couple of active energetic fellows, of gentlemanly manners,to go about.' veneering, after cogitation, thinks ofboots and brewer. 'whom i have met at your house,' sayspodsnap.
'yes. they'll do very well. let them each have a cab, and go about.' veneering immediately mentions what ablessing he feels it, to possess a friend capable of such grand administrativesuggestions, and really is elated at this going about of boots and brewer, as an idea wearing an electioneering aspect andlooking desperately like business. leaving podsnap, at a hand-gallop, hedescends upon boots and brewer, who enthusiastically rally round him by at oncebolting off in cabs, taking opposite directions.
then veneering repairs to the legalgentleman in britannia's confidence, and with him transacts some delicate affairs ofbusiness, and issues an address to the independent electors of pocket-breaches, announcing that he is coming among them fortheir suffrages, as the mariner returns to the home of his early childhood: a phrasewhich is none the worse for his never having been near the place in his life, and not even now distinctly knowing where itis. mrs veneering, during the same eventfulhours, is not idle. no sooner does the carriage turn out, allcomplete, than she turns into it, all
complete, and gives the word 'to ladytippins's.' that charmer dwells over a staymaker's inthe belgravian borders, with a life-size model in the window on the ground floor ofa distinguished beauty in a blue petticoat, stay-lace in hand, looking over hershoulder at the town in innocent surprise. as well she may, to find herself dressingunder the circumstances. lady tippins at home? lady tippins at home, with the roomdarkened, and her back (like the lady's at the ground-floor window, though for adifferent reason) cunningly turned towards the light.
lady tippins is so surprised by seeing herdear mrs veneering so early--in the middle of the night, the pretty creature calls it--that her eyelids almost go up, under the influence of that emotion. to whom mrs veneering incoherentlycommunicates, how that veneering has been offered pocket-breaches; how that it is thetime for rallying round; how that veneering has said 'we must work'; how that she is here, as a wife and mother, to entreat ladytippins to work; how that the carriage is at lady tippins's disposal for purposes ofwork; how that she, proprietress of said bran new elegant equipage, will return home
on foot--on bleeding feet if need be--towork (not specifying how), until she drops by the side of baby's crib.'my love,' says lady tippins, 'compose yourself; we'll bring him in.' and lady tippins really does work, and workthe veneering horses too; for she clatters about town all day, calling upon everybodyshe knows, and showing her entertaining powers and green fan to immense advantage, by rattling on with, my dear soul, what doyou think? what do you suppose me to be?you'll never guess. i'm pretending to be an electioneeringagent.
and for what place of all places?pocket-breaches. and why? because the dearest friend i have in theworld has bought it. and who is the dearest friend i have in theworld? a man of the name of veneering. not omitting his wife, who is the otherdearest friend i have in the world; and i positively declare i forgot their baby, whois the other. and we are carrying on this little farce tokeep up appearances, and isn't it refreshing!
then, my precious child, the fun of it isthat nobody knows who these veneerings are, and that they know nobody, and that theyhave a house out of the tales of the genii, and give dinners out of the arabian nights. curious to see 'em, my dear?say you'll know 'em. come and dine with 'em.they shan't bore you. say who shall meet you. we'll make up a party of our own, and i'llengage that they shall not interfere with you for one single moment.you really ought to see their gold and silver camels.
i call their dinner-table, the caravan.do come and dine with my veneerings, my own veneerings, my exclusive property, thedearest friends i have in the world! and above all, my dear, be sure you promiseme your vote and interest and all sorts of plumpers for pocket-breaches; for wecouldn't think of spending sixpence on it, my love, and can only consent to be brought in by the spontaneous thingummies of theincorruptible whatdoyoucallums. now, the point of view seized by thebewitching tippins, that this same working and rallying round is to keep upappearances, may have something in it, but not all the truth.
more is done, or considered to be done--which does as well--by taking cabs, and 'going about,' than the fair tippins knewof. many vast vague reputations have been made,solely by taking cabs and going about. this particularly obtains in allparliamentary affairs. whether the business in hand be to get aman in, or get a man out, or get a man over, or promote a railway, or jockey arailway, or what else, nothing is understood to be so effectual as scouring nowhere in a violent hurry--in short, astaking cabs and going about. probably because this reason is in the air,twemlow, far from being singular in his
persuasion that he works like a trojan, iscapped by podsnap, who in his turn is capped by boots and brewer. at eight o'clock when all these hardworkers assemble to dine at veneering's, it is understood that the cabs of boots andbrewer mustn't leave the door, but that pails of water must be brought from the nearest baiting-place, and cast over thehorses' legs on the very spot, lest boots and brewer should have instant occasion tomount and away. those fleet messengers require theanalytical to see that their hats are deposited where they can be laid hold of atan instant's notice; and they dine
(remarkably well though) with the air of firemen in charge of an engine, expectingintelligence of some tremendous conflagration. mrs veneering faintly remarks, as dinneropens, that many such days would be too much for her. 'many such days would be too much for allof us,' says podsnap; 'but we'll bring him in!''we'll bring him in,' says lady tippins, sportively waving her green fan. 'veneering for ever!''we'll bring him in!' says twemlow.
'we'll bring him in!' say boots and brewer. strictly speaking, it would be hard to showcause why they should not bring him in, pocket-breaches having closed its littlebargain, and there being no opposition. however, it is agreed that they must 'work'to the last, and that if they did not work, something indefinite would happen. it is likewise agreed that they are all soexhausted with the work behind them, and need to be so fortified for the work beforethem, as to require peculiar strengthening from veneering's cellar. therefore, the analytical has orders toproduce the cream of the cream of his
binns, and therefore it falls out thatrallying becomes rather a trying word for the occasion; lady tippins being observed gamely to inculcate the necessity ofrearing round their dear veneering; podsnap advocating roaring round him; boots andbrewer declaring their intention of reeling round him; and veneering thanking his devoted friends one and all, with greatemotion, for rarullarulling round him. in these inspiring moments, brewer strikesout an idea which is the great hit of the day. he consults his watch, and says (like guyfawkes), he'll now go down to the house of
commons and see how things look. 'i'll keep about the lobby for an hour orso,' says brewer, with a deeply mysterious countenance, 'and if things look well, iwon't come back, but will order my cab for nine in the morning.' 'you couldn't do better,' says podsnap.veneering expresses his inability ever to acknowledge this last service.tears stand in mrs veneering's affectionate eyes. boots shows envy, loses ground, and isregarded as possessing a second-rate mind. they all crowd to the door, to see breweroff.
brewer says to his driver, 'now, is yourhorse pretty fresh?' eyeing the animal with critical scrutiny.driver says he's as fresh as butter. 'put him along then,' says brewer; 'houseof commons.' driver darts up, brewer leaps in, theycheer him as he departs, and mr podsnap says, 'mark my words, sir. that's a man of resource; that's a man tomake his way in life.' when the time comes for veneering todeliver a neat and appropriate stammer to the men of pocket-breaches, only podsnapand twemlow accompany him by railway to that sequestered spot.
the legal gentleman is at the pocket-breaches branch station, with an open carriage with a printed bill 'veneering forever' stuck upon it, as if it were a wall; and they gloriously proceed, amidst the grins of the populace, to a feeble littletown hall on crutches, with some onions and bootlaces under it, which the legalgentleman says are a market; and from the front window of that edifice veneeringspeaks to the listening earth. in the moment of his taking his hat off,podsnap, as per agreement made with mrs veneering, telegraphs to that wife andmother, 'he's up.' veneering loses his way in the usual nothoroughfares of speech, and podsnap and
twemlow say hear hear! and sometimes, whenhe can't by any means back himself out of some very unlucky no thoroughfare, 'he-a-a- r he-a-a-r!' with an air of facetiousconviction, as if the ingenuity of the thing gave them a sensation of exquisitepleasure. but veneering makes two remarkably goodpoints; so good, that they are supposed to have been suggested to him by the legalgentleman in britannia's confidence, while briefly conferring on the stairs. point the first is this.veneering institutes an original comparison between the country, and a ship; pointedlycalling the ship, the vessel of the state,
and the minister the man at the helm. veneering's object is to let pocket-breaches know that his friend on his right (podsnap) is a man of wealth. consequently says he, 'and, gentlemen, whenthe timbers of the vessel of the state are unsound and the man at the helm isunskilful, would those great marine insurers, who rank among our world-famed merchant-princes--would they insure her,gentlemen? would they underwrite her?would they incur a risk in her? would they have confidence in her?
why, gentlemen, if i appealed to myhonourable friend upon my right, himself among the greatest and most respected ofthat great and much respected class, he would answer no!' point the second is this.the telling fact that twemlow is related to lord snigsworth, must be let off. veneering supposes a state of publicaffairs that probably never could by any possibility exist (though this is not quitecertain, in consequence of his picture being unintelligible to himself andeverybody else), and thus proceeds. 'why, gentlemen, if i were to indicate sucha programme to any class of society, i say
it would be received with derision, wouldbe pointed at by the finger of scorn. if i indicated such a programme to anyworthy and intelligent tradesman of your town--nay, i will here be personal, and sayour town--what would he reply? he would reply, "away with it!" that's what he would reply, gentlemen.in his honest indignation he would reply, "away with it!"but suppose i mounted higher in the social scale. suppose i drew my arm through the arm of myrespected friend upon my left, and, walking with him through the ancestral woods of hisfamily, and under the spreading beeches of
snigsworthy park, approached the noble hall, crossed the courtyard, entered by thedoor, went up the staircase, and, passing from room to room, found myself at last inthe august presence of my friend's near kinsman, lord snigsworth. and suppose i said to that venerable earl,"my lord, i am here before your lordship, presented by your lordship's near kinsman,my friend upon my left, to indicate that programme;" what would his lordship answer? why, he would answer, "away with it!"that's what he would answer, gentlemen. "away with it!"
unconsciously using, in his exalted sphere,the exact language of the worthy and intelligent tradesman of our town, the nearand dear kinsman of my friend upon my left would answer in his wrath, "away with it!"' veneering finishes with this last success,and mr podsnap telegraphs to mrs veneering, 'he's down.' then, dinner is had at the hotel with thelegal gentleman, and then there are in due succession, nomination, and declaration.finally mr podsnap telegraphs to mrs veneering, 'we have brought him in.' another gorgeous dinner awaits them ontheir return to the veneering halls, and
lady tippins awaits them, and boots andbrewer await them. there is a modest assertion on everybody'spart that everybody single-handed 'brought him in'; but in the main it is conceded byall, that that stroke of business on brewer's part, in going down to the house that night to see how things looked, wasthe master-stroke. a touching little incident is related bymrs veneering, in the course of the evening. mrs veneering is habitually disposed to betearful, and has an extra disposition that way after her late excitement.
previous to withdrawing from the dinner-table with lady tippins, she says, in a pathetic and physically weak manner:'you will all think it foolish of me, i know, but i must mention it. as i sat by baby's crib, on the nightbefore the election, baby was very uneasy in her sleep.' the analytical chemist, who is gloomilylooking on, has diabolical impulses to suggest 'wind' and throw up his situation;but represses them. 'after an interval almost convulsive, babycurled her little hands in one another and smiled.'
mrs veneering stopping here, mr podsnapdeems it incumbent on him to say: 'i wonder why!' 'could it be, i asked myself,' says mrsveneering, looking about her for her pocket-handkerchief, 'that the fairies weretelling baby that her papa would shortly be an m. p.?' so overcome by the sentiment is mrsveneering, that they all get up to make a clear stage for veneering, who goes roundthe table to the rescue, and bears her out backward, with her feet impressively scraping the carpet: after remarking thather work has been too much for her
strength. whether the fairies made any mention of thefive thousand pounds, and it disagreed with baby, is not speculated upon. poor little twemlow, quite done up, istouched, and still continues touched after he is safely housed over the livery-stableyard in duke street, saint james's. but there, upon his sofa, a tremendousconsideration breaks in upon the mild gentleman, putting all softerconsiderations to the rout. 'gracious heavens! now i have time to think of it, he neversaw one of his constituents in all his
days, until we saw them together!' after having paced the room in distress ofmind, with his hand to his forehead, the innocent twemlow returns to his sofa andmoans: 'i shall either go distracted, or die, ofthis man. he comes upon me too late in life.i am not strong enough to bear him!' our mutual friend by charles dickenschapter 4 cupid prompted to use the cold language of the world, mrsalfred lammle rapidly improved the acquaintance of miss podsnap.
to use the warm language of mrs lammle, sheand her sweet georgiana soon became one: in heart, in mind, in sentiment, in soul. whenever georgiana could escape from thethraldom of podsnappery; could throw off the bedclothes of the custard-colouredphaeton, and get up; could shrink out of the range of her mother's rocking, and (so to speak) rescue her poor little frostytoes from being rocked over; she repaired to her friend, mrs alfred lammle.mrs podsnap by no means objected. as a consciously 'splendid woman,'accustomed to overhear herself so denominated by elderly osteologistspursuing their studies in dinner society,
mrs podsnap could dispense with herdaughter. mr podsnap, for his part, on being informedwhere georgiana was, swelled with patronage of the lammles. that they, when unable to lay hold of him,should respectfully grasp at the hem of his mantle; that they, when they could not baskin the glory of him the sun, should take up with the pale reflected light of the watery young moon his daughter; appeared quitenatural, becoming, and proper. it gave him a better opinion of thediscretion of the lammles than he had heretofore held, as showing that theyappreciated the value of the connexion.
so, georgiana repairing to her friend, mrpodsnap went out to dinner, and to dinner, and yet to dinner, arm in arm with mrspodsnap: settling his obstinate head in his cravat and shirt-collar, much as if he were performing on the pandean pipes, in his ownhonour, the triumphal march, see the conquering podsnap comes, sound thetrumpets, beat the drums! it was a trait in mr podsnap's character(and in one form or other it will be generally seen to pervade the depths andshallows of podsnappery), that he could not endure a hint of disparagement of anyfriend or acquaintance of his. 'how dare you?' he would seem to say, insuch a case.
'what do you mean? i have licensed this person.this person has taken out my certificate. through this person you strike at me,podsnap the great. and it is not that i particularly care forthe person's dignity, but that i do most particularly care for podsnap's.' hence, if any one in his presence hadpresumed to doubt the responsibility of the lammles, he would have been mightilyhuffed. not that any one did, for veneering, m.p.,was always the authority for their being very rich, and perhaps believed it.as indeed he might, if he chose, for
anything he knew of the matter. mr and mrs lammle's house in sackvillestreet, piccadilly, was but a temporary residence. it has done well enough, they informedtheir friends, for mr lammle when a bachelor, but it would not do now. so, they were always looking at palatialresidences in the best situations, and always very nearly taking or buying one,but never quite concluding the bargain. hereby they made for themselves a shininglittle reputation apart. people said, on seeing a vacant palatialresidence, 'the very thing for the
lammles!' and wrote to the lammles aboutit, and the lammles always went to look at it, but unfortunately it never exactlyanswered. in short, they suffered so manydisappointments, that they began to think it would be necessary to build a palatialresidence. and hereby they made another shiningreputation; many persons of their acquaintance becoming by anticipationdissatisfied with their own houses, and envious of the non-existent lammlestructure. the handsome fittings and furnishings ofthe house in sackville street were piled thick and high over the skeleton up-stairs,and if it ever whispered from under its
load of upholstery, 'here i am in the closet!' it was to very few ears, andcertainly never to miss podsnap's. what miss podsnap was particularly charmedwith, next to the graces of her friend, was the happiness of her friend's married life. this was frequently their theme ofconversation. 'i am sure,' said miss podsnap, 'mr lammleis like a lover. at least i--i should think he was.' 'georgiana, darling!' said mrs lammle,holding up a forefinger, 'take care!' 'oh my goodness me!' exclaimed misspodsnap, reddening.
'what have i said now?' 'alfred, you know,' hinted mrs lammle,playfully shaking her head. 'you were never to say mr lammle any more,georgiana.' 'oh! alfred, then.i am glad it's no worse. i was afraid i had said something shocking.i am always saying something wrong to ma.' 'to me, georgiana dearest?' 'no, not to you; you are not ma.i wish you were.' mrs lammle bestowed a sweet and lovingsmile upon her friend, which miss podsnap
returned as she best could. they sat at lunch in mrs lammle's ownboudoir. 'and so, dearest georgiana, alfred is likeyour notion of a lover?' 'i don't say that, sophronia,' georgianareplied, beginning to conceal her elbows. 'i haven't any notion of a lover.the dreadful wretches that ma brings up at places to torment me, are not lovers. i only mean that mr--''again, dearest georgiana?' 'that alfred--''sounds much better, darling.' '--loves you so.
he always treats you with such delicategallantry and attention. now, don't he?' 'truly, my dear,' said mrs lammle, with arather singular expression crossing her face.'i believe that he loves me, fully as much as i love him.' 'oh, what happiness!' exclaimed misspodsnap. 'but do you know, my georgiana,' mrs lammleresumed presently, 'that there is something suspicious in your enthusiastic sympathywith alfred's tenderness?' 'good gracious no, i hope not!'
'doesn't it rather suggest,' said mrslammle archly, 'that my georgiana's little heart is--''oh don't!' miss podsnap blushingly besought her. 'please don't!i assure you, sophronia, that i only praise alfred, because he is your husband and sofond of you.' sophronia's glance was as if a rather newlight broke in upon her. it shaded off into a cool smile, as shesaid, with her eyes upon her lunch, and her eyebrows raised: 'you are quite wrong, my love, in yourguess at my meaning.
what i insinuated was, that my georgiana'slittle heart was growing conscious of a vacancy.' 'no, no, no,' said georgiana.'i wouldn't have anybody say anything to me in that way for i don't know how manythousand pounds.' 'in what way, my georgiana?' inquired mrslammle, still smiling coolly with her eyes upon her lunch, and her eyebrows raised.'you know,' returned poor little miss podsnap. 'i think i should go out of my mind,sophronia, with vexation and shyness and detestation, if anybody did.it's enough for me to see how loving you
and your husband are. that's a different thing.i couldn't bear to have anything of that sort going on with myself.i should beg and pray to--to have the person taken away and trampled upon.' ah! here was alfred. having stolen in unobserved, he playfullyleaned on the back of sophronia's chair, and, as miss podsnap saw him, put one ofsophronia's wandering locks to his lips, and waved a kiss from it towards misspodsnap. 'what is this about husbands anddetestations?' inquired the captivating
alfred. 'why, they say,' returned his wife, 'thatlisteners never hear any good of themselves; though you--but pray how longhave you been here, sir?' 'this instant arrived, my own.' 'then i may go on--though if you had beenhere but a moment or two sooner, you would have heard your praises sounded bygeorgiana.' 'only, if they were to be called praises atall which i really don't think they were,' explained miss podsnap in a flutter, 'forbeing so devoted to sophronia.' 'sophronia!' murmured alfred.
'my life!' and kissed her hand.in return for which she kissed his watch- chain. 'but it was not i who was to be taken awayand trampled upon, i hope?' said alfred, drawing a seat between them.'ask georgiana, my soul,' replied his wife. alfred touchingly appealed to georgiana. 'oh, it was nobody,' replied miss podsnap.'it was nonsense.' 'but if you are determined to know, mrinquisitive pet, as i suppose you are,' said the happy and fond sophronia, smiling,'it was any one who should venture to aspire to georgiana.'
'sophronia, my love,' remonstrated mrlammle, becoming graver, 'you are not serious?''alfred, my love,' returned his wife, 'i dare say georgiana was not, but i am.' 'now this,' said mr lammle, 'shows theaccidental combinations that there are in things! could you believe, my ownest, that i camein here with the name of an aspirant to our georgiana on my lips?''of course i could believe, alfred,' said mrs lammle, 'anything that you told me.' 'you dear one!and i anything that you told me.'
how delightful those interchanges, and thelooks accompanying them! now, if the skeleton up-stairs had takenthat opportunity, for instance, of calling out 'here i am, suffocating in the closet!''i give you my honour, my dear sophronia--' 'and i know what that is, love,' said she. 'you do, my darling--that i came into theroom all but uttering young fledgeby's name.tell georgiana, dearest, about young fledgeby.' 'oh no, don't!please don't!' cried miss podsnap, putting her fingers in her ears.'i'd rather not.'
mrs lammle laughed in her gayest manner,and, removing her georgiana's unresisting hands, and playfully holding them in herown at arms' length, sometimes near together and sometimes wide apart, went on: 'you must know, you dearly beloved littlegoose, that once upon a time there was a certain person called young fledgeby. and this young fledgeby, who was of anexcellent family and rich, was known to two other certain persons, dearly attached toone another and called mr and mrs alfred lammle. so this young fledgeby, being one night atthe play, there sees with mr and mrs alfred
lammle, a certain heroine called--''no, don't say georgiana podsnap!' pleaded that young lady almost in tears. 'please don't.oh do do do say somebody else! not georgiana podsnap.oh don't, don't, don't!' 'no other,' said mrs lammle, laughingairily, and, full of affectionate blandishments, opening and closinggeorgiana's arms like a pair of compasses, than my little georgiana podsnap. so this young fledgeby goes to that alfredlammle and says--' 'oh ple-e-e-ease don't!'
georgiana, as if the supplication werebeing squeezed out of her by powerful compression.'i so hate him for saying it!' 'for saying what, my dear?' laughed mrslammle. 'oh, i don't know what he said,' criedgeorgiana wildly, 'but i hate him all the same for saying it.' 'my dear,' said mrs lammle, always laughingin her most captivating way, 'the poor young fellow only says that he is strickenall of a heap.' 'oh, what shall i ever do!' interposedgeorgiana. 'oh my goodness what a fool he must be!''--and implores to be asked to dinner, and
to make a fourth at the play another time. and so he dines to-morrow and goes to theopera with us. that's all. except, my dear georgiana--and what willyou think of this!--that he is infinitely shyer than you, and far more afraid of youthan you ever were of any one in all your days!' in perturbation of mind miss podsnap stillfumed and plucked at her hands a little, but could not help laughing at the notionof anybody's being afraid of her. with that advantage, sophronia flatteredher and rallied her more successfully, and
then the insinuating alfred flattered herand rallied her, and promised that at any moment when she might require that service at his hands, he would take young fledgebyout and trample on him. thus it remained amicably understood thatyoung fledgeby was to come to admire, and that georgiana was to come to be admired;and georgiana with the entirely new sensation in her breast of having that prospect before her, and with many kissesfrom her dear sophronia in present possession, preceded six feet one ofdiscontented footman (an amount of the article that always came for her when shewalked home) to her father's dwelling.
the happy pair being left together, mrslammle said to her husband: 'if i understand this girl, sir, yourdangerous fascinations have produced some effect upon her. i mention the conquest in good time becausei apprehend your scheme to be more important to you than your vanity.' there was a mirror on the wall before them,and her eyes just caught him smirking in it. she gave the reflected image a look of thedeepest disdain, and the image received it in the glass.
next moment they quietly eyed each other,as if they, the principals, had had no part in that expressive transaction. it may have been that mrs lammle tried insome manner to excuse her conduct to herself by depreciating the poor littlevictim of whom she spoke with acrimonious contempt. it may have been too that in this she didnot quite succeed, for it is very difficult to resist confidence, and she knew she hadgeorgiana's. nothing more was said between the happypair. perhaps conspirators who have onceestablished an understanding, may not be
over-fond of repeating the terms andobjects of their conspiracy. next day came; came georgiana; and camefledgeby. georgiana had by this time seen a good dealof the house and its frequenters. as there was a certain handsome room with abilliard table in it--on the ground floor, eating out a backyard--which might havebeen mr lammle's office, or library, but was called by neither name, but simply mr lammle's room, so it would have been hardfor stronger female heads than georgiana's to determine whether its frequenters weremen of pleasure or men of business. between the room and the men there werestrong points of general resemblance.
both were too gaudy, too slangey, tooodorous of cigars, and too much given to horseflesh; the latter characteristic beingexemplified in the room by its decorations, and in the men by their conversation. high-stepping horses seemed necessary toall mr lammle's friends--as necessary as their transaction of business together in agipsy way at untimely hours of the morning and evening, and in rushes and snatches. there were friends who seemed to be alwayscoming and going across the channel, on errands about the bourse, and greek andspanish and india and mexican and par and premium and discount and three quarters andseven eighths.
there were other friends who seemed to bealways lolling and lounging in and out of the city, on questions of the bourse, andgreek and spanish and india and mexican and par and premium and discount and threequarters and seven eighths. they were all feverish, boastful, andindefinably loose; and they all ate and drank a great deal; and made bets in eatingand drinking. they all spoke of sums of money, and onlymentioned the sums and left the money to be understood; as 'five and forty thousandtom,' or 'two hundred and twenty-two on every individual share in the lot joe.' they seemed to divide the world into twoclasses of people; people who were making
enormous fortunes, and people who werebeing enormously ruined. they were always in a hurry, and yet seemedto have nothing tangible to do; except a few of them (these, mostly asthmatic andthick-lipped) who were for ever demonstrating to the rest, with gold pencil-cases which they could hardly holdbecause of the big rings on their forefingers, how money was to be made. lastly, they all swore at their grooms, andthe grooms were not quite as respectful or complete as other men's grooms; seemingsomehow to fall short of the groom point as their masters fell short of the gentlemanpoint.
young fledgeby was none of these. young fledgeby had a peachy cheek, or acheek compounded of the peach and the red red red wall on which it grows, and was anawkward, sandy-haired, small-eyed youth, exceeding slim (his enemies would have said lanky), and prone to self-examination inthe articles of whisker and moustache. while feeling for the whisker that heanxiously expected, fledgeby underwent remarkable fluctuations of spirits, rangingalong the whole scale from confidence to despair. there were times when he started, asexclaiming 'by jupiter here it is at last!'
there were other times when, being equallydepressed, he would be seen to shake his head, and give up hope. to see him at those periods leaning on achimneypiece, like as on an urn containing the ashes of his ambition, with the cheekthat would not sprout, upon the hand on which that cheek had forced conviction, wasa distressing sight. not so was fledgeby seen on this occasion. arrayed in superb raiment, with his operahat under his arm, he concluded his self- examination hopefully, awaited the arrivalof miss podsnap, and talked small-talk with mrs lammle.
in facetious homage to the smallness of histalk, and the jerky nature of his manners, fledgeby's familiars had agreed to conferupon him (behind his back) the honorary title of fascination fledgeby. 'warm weather, mrs lammle,' saidfascination fledgeby. mrs lammle thought it scarcely as warm asit had been yesterday. 'perhaps not,' said fascination fledgeby,with great quickness of repartee; 'but i expect it will be devilish warm to-morrow.'he threw off another little scintillation. 'been out to-day, mrs lammle?' mrs lammle answered, for a short drive.'some people,' said fascination fledgeby,
'are accustomed to take long drives; but itgenerally appears to me that if they make 'em too long, they overdo it.' being in such feather, he might havesurpassed himself in his next sally, had not miss podsnap been announced. mrs lammle flew to embrace her darlinglittle georgy, and when the first transports were over, presented mrfledgeby. mr lammle came on the scene last, for hewas always late, and so were the frequenters always late; all hands beingbound to be made late, by private information about the bourse, and greek and
spanish and india and mexican and par andpremium and discount and three quarters and seven eighths. a handsome little dinner was servedimmediately, and mr lammle sat sparkling at his end of the table, with his servantbehind his chair, and his ever-lingering doubts upon the subject of his wages behindhimself. mr lammle's utmost powers of sparkling werein requisition to-day, for fascination fledgeby and georgiana not only struck eachother speechless, but struck each other into astonishing attitudes; georgiana, as she sat facing fledgeby, making suchefforts to conceal her elbows as were
totally incompatible with the use of aknife and fork; and fledgeby, as he sat facing georgiana, avoiding her countenance by every possible device, and betraying thediscomposure of his mind in feeling for his whiskers with his spoon, his wine glass,and his bread. so, mr and mrs alfred lammle had to prompt,and this is how they prompted. 'georgiana,' said mr lammle, low andsmiling, and sparkling all over, like a harlequin; 'you are not in your usualspirits. why are you not in your usual spirits,georgiana?' georgiana faltered that she was much thesame as she was in general; she was not
aware of being different. 'not aware of being different!' retorted mralfred lammle. 'you, my dear georgiana!who are always so natural and unconstrained with us! who are such a relief from the crowd thatare all alike! who are the embodiment of gentleness,simplicity, and reality!' miss podsnap looked at the door, as if sheentertained confused thoughts of taking refuge from these compliments in flight. 'now, i will be judged,' said mr lammle,raising his voice a little, 'by my friend
fledgeby.''oh don't!' miss podsnap faintly ejaculated: when mrslammle took the prompt-book. 'i beg your pardon, alfred, my dear, but icannot part with mr fledgeby quite yet; you must wait for him a moment. mr fledgeby and i are engaged in a personaldiscussion.' fledgeby must have conducted it on his sidewith immense art, for no appearance of uttering one syllable had escaped him. 'a personal discussion, sophronia, my love?what discussion? fledgeby, i am jealous.what discussion, fledgeby?'
'shall i tell him, mr fledgeby?' asked mrslammle. trying to look as if he knew anything aboutit, fascination replied, 'yes, tell him.' 'we were discussing then,' said mrs lammle,'if you must know, alfred, whether mr fledgeby was in his usual flow of spirits.' 'why, that is the very point, sophronia,that georgiana and i were discussing as to herself!what did fledgeby say?' 'oh, a likely thing, sir, that i am goingto tell you everything, and be told nothing!what did georgiana say?' 'georgiana said she was doing her usualjustice to herself to-day, and i said she
was not.''precisely,' exclaimed mrs lammle, 'what i said to mr fledgeby.' still, it wouldn't do.they would not look at one another. no, not even when the sparkling hostproposed that the quartette should take an appropriately sparkling glass of wine. georgiana looked from her wine glass at mrlammle and at mrs lammle; but mightn't, couldn't, shouldn't, wouldn't, look at mrfledgeby. fascination looked from his wine glass atmrs lammle and at mr lammle; but mightn't, couldn't, shouldn't, wouldn't, look atgeorgiana.
more prompting was necessary. cupid must be brought up to the mark.the manager had put him down in the bill for the part, and he must play it.'sophronia, my dear,' said mr lammle, 'i don't like the colour of your dress.' 'i appeal,' said mrs lammle, 'to mrfledgeby.' 'and i,' said mr lammle, 'to georgiana.' 'georgy, my love,' remarked mrs lammleaside to her dear girl, 'i rely upon you not to go over to the opposition.now, mr fledgeby.' fascination wished to know if the colourwere not called rose-colour?
yes, said mr lammle; actually he kneweverything; it was really rose-colour. fascination took rose-colour to mean thecolour of roses. (in this he was very warmly supported by mrand mrs lammle.) fascination had heard the term queen offlowers applied to the rose. similarly, it might be said that the dresswas the queen of dresses. ('very happy, fledgeby!' from mr lammle.) notwithstanding, fascination's opinion wasthat we all had our eyes--or at least a large majority of us--and that--and--andhis farther opinion was several ands, with nothing beyond them.
'oh, mr fledgeby,' said mrs lammle, 'todesert me in that way! oh, mr fledgeby, to abandon my poor dearinjured rose and declare for blue!' 'victory, victory!' cried mr lammle; 'yourdress is condemned, my dear.' 'but what,' said mrs lammle, stealing heraffectionate hand towards her dear girl's, 'what does georgy say?' 'she says,' replied mr lammle, interpretingfor her, 'that in her eyes you look well in any colour, sophronia, and that if she hadexpected to be embarrassed by so pretty a compliment as she has received, she wouldhave worn another colour herself. though i tell her, in reply, that it wouldnot have saved her, for whatever colour she
had worn would have been fledgeby's colour. but what does fledgeby say?' 'he says,' replied mrs lammle, interpretingfor him, and patting the back of her dear girl's hand, as if it were fledgeby who waspatting it, 'that it was no compliment, but a little natural act of homage that hecouldn't resist. and,' expressing more feeling as if it weremore feeling on the part of fledgeby, 'he is right, he is right!' still, no not even now, would they look atone another. seeming to gnash his sparkling teeth,studs, eyes, and buttons, all at once, mr
lammle secretly bent a dark frown on thetwo, expressive of an intense desire to bring them together by knocking their headstogether. 'have you heard this opera of to-night,fledgeby?' he asked, stopping very short, to prevent himself from running on into'confound you.' 'why no, not exactly,' said fledgeby. 'in fact i don't know a note of it.''neither do you know it, georgy?' said mrs lammle.'n-no,' replied georgiana, faintly, under the sympathetic coincidence. 'why, then,' said mrs lammle, charmed bythe discovery which flowed from the
premises, 'you neither of you know it!how charming!' even the craven fledgeby felt that the timewas now come when he must strike a blow. he struck it by saying, partly to mrslammle and partly to the circumambient air, 'i consider myself very fortunate in beingreserved by--' as he stopped dead, mr lammle, making thatgingerous bush of his whiskers to look out of, offered him the word 'destiny.''no, i wasn't going to say that,' said fledgeby. 'i was going to say fate. i consider it very fortunate that fate haswritten in the book of--in the book which
is its own property--that i should go tothat opera for the first time under the memorable circumstances of going with misspodsnap.' to which georgiana replied, hooking her twolittle fingers in one another, and addressing the tablecloth, 'thank you, buti generally go with no one but you, sophronia, and i like that very much.' content perforce with this success for thetime, mr lammle let miss podsnap out of the room, as if he were opening her cage door,and mrs lammle followed. coffee being presently served up stairs, hekept a watch on fledgeby until miss podsnap's cup was empty, and then directedhim with his finger (as if that young
gentleman were a slow retriever) to go andfetch it. this feat he performed, not only withoutfailure, but even with the original embellishment of informing miss podsnapthat green tea was considered bad for the nerves. though there miss podsnap unintentionallythrew him out by faltering, 'oh, is it indeed?how does it act?' which he was not prepared to elucidate. the carriage announced, mrs lammle said;'don't mind me, mr fledgeby, my skirts and cloak occupy both my hands, take misspodsnap.'
and he took her, and mrs lammle went next,and mr lammle went last, savagely following his little flock, like a drover. but he was all sparkle and glitter in thebox at the opera, and there he and his dear wife made a conversation between fledgebyand georgiana in the following ingenious and skilful manner. they sat in this order: mrs lammle,fascination fledgeby, georgiana, mr lammle. mrs lammle made leading remarks tofledgeby, only requiring monosyllabic replies. mr lammle did the like with georgiana.at times mrs lammle would lean forward to
address mr lammle to this purpose. 'alfred, my dear, mr fledgeby very justlysays, apropos of the last scene, that true constancy would not require any suchstimulant as the stage deems necessary.' to which mr lammle would reply, 'ay,sophronia, my love, but as georgiana has observed to me, the lady had no sufficientreason to know the state of the gentleman's affections.' to which mrs lammle would rejoin, 'verytrue, alfred; but mr fledgeby points out,' this. to which alfred would demur: 'undoubtedly,sophronia, but georgiana acutely remarks,'
that. through this device the two young peopleconversed at great length and committed themselves to a variety of delicatesentiments, without having once opened their lips, save to say yes or no, and eventhat not to one another. fledgeby took his leave of miss podsnap atthe carriage door, and the lammles dropped her at her own home, and on the way mrslammle archly rallied her, in her fond and protecting manner, by saying at intervals,'oh little georgiana, little georgiana!' which was not much; but the tone added,'you have enslaved your fledgeby.' and thus the lammles got home at last, andthe lady sat down moody and weary, looking
at her dark lord engaged in a deed ofviolence with a bottle of soda-water as though he were wringing the neck of some unlucky creature and pouring its blood downhis throat. as he wiped his dripping whiskers in anogreish way, he met her eyes, and pausing, said, with no very gentle voice: 'well?''was such an absolute booby necessary to the purpose?''i know what i am doing. he is no such dolt as you suppose.' 'a genius, perhaps?''you sneer, perhaps; and you take a lofty
air upon yourself perhaps! but i tell you this:--when that youngfellow's interest is concerned, he holds as tight as a horse-leech.when money is in question with that young fellow, he is a match for the devil.' 'is he a match for you?''he is. almost as good a one as you thought me foryou. he has no quality of youth in him, but suchas you have seen to-day. touch him upon money, and you touch nobooby then. he really is a dolt, i suppose, in otherthings; but it answers his one purpose very
well.''has she money in her own right in any case?' 'ay! she has money in her own right in anycase. you have done so well to-day, sophronia,that i answer the question, though you know i object to any such questions. you have done so well to-day, sophronia,that you must be tired. get to bed.'