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IN WHICH MR CHEVY SLYME ASSERTS THE INDEPENDENCE OF HIS SPIRIT, AND THE
BLUE DRAGON LOSES A LIMB
Martin began to work at the grammar-school next morning, with so much
vigour and expedition, that Mr Pinch had new reason to do homage to
the natural endowments of that young gentleman, and to acknowledge
his infinite superiority to himself. The new pupil received Tom's
compliments very graciously; and having by this time conceived a real
regard for him, in his own peculiar way, predicted that they would
always be the very best of friends, and that neither of them, he was
certain (but particularly Tom), would ever have reason to regret the day
on which they became acquainted. Mr Pinch was delighted to hear him say
this, and felt so much flattered by his kind assurances of friendship
and protection, that he was at a loss how to express the pleasure they
afforded him. And indeed it may be observed of this friendship, such as
it was, that it had within it more likely materials of endurance than
many a sworn brotherhood that has been rich in promise; for so long as
the one party found a pleasure in patronizing, and the other in
being patronised (which was in the very essence of their respective
characters), it was of all possible events among the least probable,
that the twin demons, Envy and Pride, would ever arise between them. So
in very many cases of friendship, or what passes for it, the old axiom
is reversed, and like clings to unlike more than to like.
They were both very busy on the afternoon succeeding the family's
departure--Martin with the grammar-school, and Tom in balancing certain
receipts of rents, and deducting Mr Pecksniff's commission from the
same; in which abstruse employment he was much distracted by a habit his
new friend had of whistling aloud while he was drawing--when they were
not a little startled by the unexpected obtrusion into that sanctuary of
genius, of a human head which, although a shaggy and somewhat alarming
head in appearance, smiled affably upon them from the doorway, in
a manner that was at once waggish, conciliatory, and expressive of
'I am not industrious myself, gents both,' said the head, 'but I know
how to appreciate that quality in others. I wish I may turn grey
and ugly, if it isn't in my opinion, next to genius, one of the very
charmingest qualities of the human mind. Upon my soul, I am grateful
to my friend Pecksniff for helping me to the contemplation of such
a delicious picture as you present. You remind me of Whittington,
afterwards thrice Lord Mayor of London. I give you my unsullied word of
honour, that you very strongly remind me of that historical character.
You are a pair of Whittingtons, gents, without the cat; which is a most
agreeable and blessed exception to me, for I am not attached to the
feline species. My name is Tigg; how do you do?'
Martin looked to Mr Pinch for an explanation; and Tom, who had never in
his life set eyes on Mr Tigg before, looked to that gentleman himself.
'Chevy Slyme?' said Mr Tigg, interrogatively, and kissing his left hand
in token of friendship. 'You will understand me when I say that I am the
accredited agent of Chevy Slyme; that I am the ambassador from the court
of Chiv? Ha ha!'
'Heyday!' asked Martin, starting at the mention of a name he knew.
'Pray, what does he want with me?'
'If your name is Pinch'--Mr Tigg began.
'It is not' said Martin, checking himself. 'That is Mr Pinch.'
'If that is Mr Pinch,' cried Tigg, kissing his hand again, and beginning
to follow his head into the room, 'he will permit me to say that I
greatly esteem and respect his character, which has been most highly
commended to me by my friend Pecksniff; and that I deeply appreciate his
talent for the organ, notwithstanding that I do not, if I may use the
expression, grind myself. If that is Mr Pinch, I will venture to express
a hope that I see him well, and that he is suffering no inconvenience
from the easterly wind?'
'Thank you,' said Tom. 'I am very well.'
'That is a comfort,' Mr Tigg rejoined. 'Then,' he added, shielding his
lips with the palm of his hand, and applying them close to Mr Pinch's
ear, 'I have come for the letter.'
'For the letter,' said Tom, aloud. 'What letter?'
'The letter,' whispered Tigg in the same cautious manner as before,
'which my friend Pecksniff addressed to Chevy Slyme, Esquire, and left
'He didn't leave any letter with me,' said Tom.
'Hush!' cried the other. 'It's all the same thing, though not so
delicately done by my friend Pecksniff as I could have wished. The
'The money!' cried Tom quite scared.
'Exactly so,' said Mr Tigg. With which he rapped Tom twice or thrice
upon the breast and nodded several times, as though he would say that he
saw they understood each other; that it was unnecessary to mention
the circumstance before a third person; and that he would take it as a
particular favour if Tom would slip the amount into his hand, as quietly
Mr Pinch, however, was so very much astounded by this (to him)
inexplicable deportment, that he at once openly declared there must be
some mistake, and that he had been entrusted with no commission whatever
having any reference to Mr Tigg or to his friend, either. Mr Tigg
received this declaration with a grave request that Mr Pinch would have
the goodness to make it again; and on Tom's repeating it in a still more
emphatic and unmistakable manner, checked it off, sentence for sentence,
by nodding his head solemnly at the end of each. When it had come to
a close for the second time, Mr Tigg sat himself down in a chair and
addressed the young men as follows:
'Then I tell you what it is, gents both. There is at this present moment
in this very place, a perfect constellation of talent and genius, who is
involved, through what I cannot but designate as the culpable negligence
of my friend Pecksniff, in a situation as tremendous, perhaps, as the
social intercourse of the nineteenth century will readily admit
of. There is actually at this instant, at the Blue Dragon in this
village--an ale-house, observe; a common, paltry, low-minded,
clodhopping, pipe-smoking ale-house--an individual, of whom it may be
said, in the language of the Poet, that nobody but himself can in any
way come up to him; who is detained there for his bill. Ha! ha! For his
bill. I repeat it--for his bill. Now,' said Mr Tigg, 'we have heard
of Fox's Book of Martyrs, I believe, and we have heard of the Court of
Requests, and the Star Chamber; but I fear the contradiction of no man
alive or dead, when I assert that my friend Chevy Slyme being held
in pawn for a bill, beats any amount of cockfighting with which I am
Martin and Mr Pinch looked, first at each other, and afterwards at Mr
Tigg, who with his arms folded on his breast surveyed them, half in
despondency and half in bitterness.
'Don't mistake me, gents both,' he said, stretching forth his right
hand. 'If it had been for anything but a bill, I could have borne it,
and could still have looked upon mankind with some feeling of respect;
but when such a man as my friend Slyme is detained for a score--a thing
in itself essentially mean; a low performance on a slate, or possibly
chalked upon the back of a door--I do feel that there is a screw of
such magnitude loose somewhere, that the whole framework of society
is shaken, and the very first principles of things can no longer be
trusted. In short, gents both,' said Mr Tigg with a passionate flourish
of his hands and head, 'when a man like Slyme is detained for such
a thing as a bill, I reject the superstitions of ages, and believe
nothing. I don't even believe that I DON'T believe, curse me if I do!'
'I am very sorry, I am sure,' said Tom after a pause, 'but Mr
Pecksniff said nothing to me about it, and I couldn't act without his
instructions. Wouldn't it be better, sir, if you were to go to--to
wherever you came from--yourself, and remit the money to your friend?'
'How can that be done, when I am detained also?' said Mr Tigg; 'and when
moreover, owing to the astounding, and I must add, guilty negligence of
my friend Pecksniff, I have no money for coach-hire?'
Tom thought of reminding the gentleman (who, no doubt, in his agitation
had forgotten it) that there was a post-office in the land; and that
possibly if he wrote to some friend or agent for a remittance it might
not be lost upon the road; or at all events that the chance, however
desperate, was worth trusting to. But, as his good-nature presently
suggested to him certain reasons for abstaining from this hint, he
paused again, and then asked:
'Did you say, sir, that you were detained also?'
'Come here,' said Mr Tigg, rising. 'You have no objection to my opening
this window for a moment?'
'Certainly not,' said Tom.
'Very good,' said Mr Tigg, lifting the sash. 'You see a fellow down
there in a red neckcloth and no waistcoat?'
'Of course I do,' cried Tom. 'That's Mark Tapley.'
'Mark Tapley is it?' said the gentleman. 'Then Mark Tapley had not only
the great politeness to follow me to this house, but is waiting now, to
see me home again. And for that attention, sir,' added Mr Tigg, stroking
his moustache, 'I can tell you, that Mark Tapley had better in his
infancy have been fed to suffocation by Mrs Tapley, than preserved to
Mr Pinch was not so dismayed by this terrible threat, but that he had
voice enough to call to Mark to come in, and upstairs; a summons which
he so speedily obeyed, that almost as soon as Tom and Mr Tigg had drawn
in their heads and closed the window again, he, the denounced, appeared
'Come here, Mark!' said Mr Pinch. 'Good gracious me! what's the matter
between Mrs Lupin and this gentleman?'
'What gentleman, sir?' said Mark. 'I don't see no gentleman here sir,
excepting you and the new gentleman,' to whom he made a rough kind of
bow--'and there's nothing wrong between Mrs Lupin and either of you, Mr
Pinch, I am sure.'
'Nonsense, Mark!' cried Tom. 'You see Mr--'
'Tigg,' interposed that gentleman. 'Wait a bit. I shall crush him soon.
All in good time!'
'Oh HIM!' rejoined Mark, with an air of careless defiance. 'Yes, I see
HIM. I could see him a little better, if he'd shave himself, and get his
Mr Tigg shook his head with a ferocious look, and smote himself once
upon the breast.
'It's no use,' said Mark. 'If you knock ever so much in that quarter,
you'll get no answer. I know better. There's nothing there but padding;
and a greasy sort it is.'
'Nay, Mark,' urged Mr Pinch, interposing to prevent hostilities, 'tell
me what I ask you. You're not out of temper, I hope?'
'Out of temper, sir!' cried Mark, with a grin; 'why no, sir. There's
a little credit--not much--in being jolly, when such fellows as him is
a-going about like roaring lions; if there is any breed of lions, at
least, as is all roar and mane. What is there between him and Mrs Lupin,
sir? Why, there's a score between him and Mrs Lupin. And I think Mrs
Lupin lets him and his friend off very easy in not charging 'em double
prices for being a disgrace to the Dragon. That's my opinion. I wouldn't
have any such Peter the Wild Boy as him in my house, sir, not if I was
paid race-week prices for it. He's enough to turn the very beer in
the casks sour with his looks; he is! So he would, if it had judgment
'You're not answering my question, you know, Mark,' observed Mr Pinch.
'Well, sir,' said Mark, 'I don't know as there's much to answer further
than that. Him and his friend goes and stops at the Moon and Stars till
they've run a bill there; and then comes and stops with us and does the
same. The running of bills is common enough Mr Pinch; it an't that as
we object to; it's the ways of this chap. Nothing's good enough for him;
all the women is dying for him he thinks, and is overpaid if he winks at
'em; and all the men was made to be ordered about by him. This not being
aggravation enough, he says this morning to me, in his usual captivating
way, "We're going to-night, my man." "Are you, sir?" says I. "Perhaps
you'd like the bill got ready, sir?" "Oh no, my man," he says; "you
needn't mind that. I'll give Pecksniff orders to see to that." In reply
to which, the Dragon makes answer, "Thankee, sir, you're very kind to
honour us so far, but as we don't know any particular good of you, and
you don't travel with luggage, and Mr Pecksniff an't at home (which
perhaps you mayn't happen to be aware of, sir), we should prefer
something more satisfactory;" and that's where the matter stands. And I
ask,' said Mr Tapley, pointing, in conclusion, to Mr Tigg, with his hat,
'any lady or gentleman, possessing ordinary strength of mind, to say
whether he's a disagreeable-looking chap or not!'
'Let me inquire,' said Martin, interposing between this candid speech
and the delivery of some blighting anathema by Mr Tigg, 'what the amount
of this debt may be?'
'In point of money, sir, very little,' answered Mark. 'Only just turned
of three pounds. But it an't that; it's the--'
'Yes, yes, you told us so before,' said Martin. 'Pinch, a word with
'What is it?' asked Tom, retiring with him to a corner of the room.
'Why, simply--I am ashamed to say--that this Mr Slyme is a relation of
mine, of whom I never heard anything pleasant; and that I don't want him
here just now, and think he would be cheaply got rid of, perhaps, for
three or four pounds. You haven't enough money to pay this bill, I
Tom shook his head to an extent that left no doubt of his entire
'That's unfortunate, for I am poor too; and in case you had had it, I'd
have borrowed it of you. But if we told this landlady we would see her
paid, I suppose that would answer the same purpose?'
'Oh dear, yes!' said Tom. 'She knows me, bless you!'
'Then let us go down at once and tell her so; for the sooner we are rid
of their company the better. As you have conducted the conversation with
this gentleman hitherto, perhaps you'll tell him what we purpose doing;
Mr Pinch, complying, at once imparted the intelligence to Mr Tigg, who
shook him warmly by the hand in return, assuring him that his faith in
anything and everything was again restored. It was not so much, he said,
for the temporary relief of this assistance that he prized it, as for
its vindication of the high principle that Nature's Nobs felt with
Nature's Nobs, and that true greatness of soul sympathized with true
greatness of soul, all the world over. It proved to him, he said, that
like him they admired genius, even when it was coupled with the alloy
occasionally visible in the metal of his friend Slyme; and on behalf
of that friend, he thanked them; as warmly and heartily as if the
cause were his own. Being cut short in these speeches by a general move
towards the stairs, he took possession at the street door of the lapel
of Mr Pinch's coat, as a security against further interruption; and
entertained that gentleman with some highly improving discourse until
they reached the Dragon, whither they were closely followed by Mark and
the new pupil.
The rosy hostess scarcely needed Mr Pinch's word as a preliminary to
the release of her two visitors, of whom she was glad to be rid on
any terms; indeed, their brief detention had originated mainly with
Mr Tapley, who entertained a constitutional dislike to gentleman
out-at-elbows who flourished on false pretences; and had conceived a
particular aversion to Mr Tigg and his friend, as choice specimens of
the species. The business in hand thus easily settled, Mr Pinch and
Martin would have withdrawn immediately, but for the urgent entreaties
of Mr Tigg that they would allow him the honour of presenting them
to his friend Slyme, which were so very difficult of resistance that,
yielding partly to these persuasions and partly to their own curiosity,
they suffered themselves to be ushered into the presence of that
He was brooding over the remains of yesterday's decanter of brandy, and
was engaged in the thoughtful occupation of making a chain of rings on
the top of the table with the wet foot of his drinking-glass. Wretched
and forlorn as he looked, Mr Slyme had once been in his way, the
choicest of swaggerers; putting forth his pretensions boldly, as a
man of infinite taste and most undoubted promise. The stock-in-trade
requisite to set up an amateur in this department of business is very
slight, and easily got together; a trick of the nose and a curl of the
lip sufficient to compound a tolerable sneer, being ample provision for
any exigency. But, in an evil hour, this off-shoot of the Chuzzlewit
trunk, being lazy, and ill qualified for any regular pursuit and having
dissipated such means as he ever possessed, had formally established
himself as a professor of Taste for a livelihood; and finding, too late,
that something more than his old amount of qualifications was necessary
to sustain him in this calling, had quickly fallen to his present level,
where he retained nothing of his old self but his boastfulness and his
bile, and seemed to have no existence separate or apart from his friend
Tigg. And now so abject and so pitiful was he--at once so maudlin,
insolent, beggarly, and proud--that even his friend and parasite,
standing erect beside him, swelled into a Man by contrast.
'Chiv,' said Mr Tigg, clapping him on the back, 'my friend Pecksniff not
being at home, I have arranged our trifling piece of business with Mr
Pinch and friend. Mr Pinch and friend, Mr Chevy Slyme! Chiv, Mr Pinch
'These are agreeable circumstances in which to be introduced to
strangers,' said Chevy Slyme, turning his bloodshot eyes towards Tom
Pinch. 'I am the most miserable man in the world, I believe!'
Tom begged he wouldn't mention it; and finding him in this condition,
retired, after an awkward pause, followed by Martin. But Mr Tigg so
urgently conjured them, by coughs and signs, to remain in the shadow of
the door, that they stopped there.
'I swear,' cried Mr Slyme, giving the table an imbecile blow with his
fist, and then feebly leaning his head upon his hand, while some drunken
drops oozed from his eyes, 'that I am the wretchedest creature on
record. Society is in a conspiracy against me. I'm the most literary
man alive. I'm full of scholarship. I'm full of genius; I'm full of
information; I'm full of novel views on every subject; yet look at my
condition! I'm at this moment obliged to two strangers for a tavern
Mr Tigg replenished his friend's glass, pressed it into his hand, and
nodded an intimation to the visitors that they would see him in a better
'Obliged to two strangers for a tavern bill, eh!' repeated Mr Slyme,
after a sulky application to his glass. 'Very pretty! And crowds of
impostors, the while, becoming famous; men who are no more on a level
with me than--Tigg, I take you to witness that I am the most persecuted
hound on the face of the earth.'
With a whine, not unlike the cry of the animal he named, in its lowest
state of humiliation, he raised his glass to his mouth again. He found
some encouragement in it; for when he set it down he laughed scornfully.
Upon that Mr Tigg gesticulated to the visitors once more, and with great
expression, implying that now the time was come when they would see Chiv
in his greatness.
'Ha, ha, ha,' laughed Mr Slyme. 'Obliged to two strangers for a tavern
bill! Yet I think I've a rich uncle, Tigg, who could buy up the uncles
of fifty strangers! Have I, or have I not? I come of a good family,
I believe! Do I, or do I not? I'm not a man of common capacity or
accomplishments, I think! Am I, or am I not?'
'You are the American aloe of the human race, my dear Chiv,' said Mr
Tigg, 'which only blooms once in a hundred years!'
'Ha, ha, ha!' laughed Mr Slyme again. 'Obliged to two strangers for
a tavern bill! I obliged to two architect's apprentices. Fellows who
measure earth with iron chains, and build houses like bricklayers. Give
me the names of those two apprentices. How dare they oblige me!'
Mr Tigg was quite lost in admiration of this noble trait in his friend's
character; as he made known to Mr Pinch in a neat little ballet of
action, spontaneously invented for the purpose.
'I'll let 'em know, and I'll let all men know,' cried Chevy Slyme,
'that I'm none of the mean, grovelling, tame characters they meet with
commonly. I have an independent spirit. I have a heart that swells in my
bosom. I have a soul that rises superior to base considerations.'
'Oh Chiv, Chiv,' murmured Mr Tigg, 'you have a nobly independent nature,
'You go and do your duty, sir,' said Mr Slyme, angrily, 'and borrow
money for travelling expenses; and whoever you borrow it of, let 'em
know that I possess a haughty spirit, and a proud spirit, and have
infernally finely-touched chords in my nature, which won't brook
patronage. Do you hear? Tell 'em I hate 'em, and that that's the way
I preserve my self-respect; and tell 'em that no man ever respected
himself more than I do!'
He might have added that he hated two sorts of men; all those who did
him favours, and all those who were better off than himself; as in
either case their position was an insult to a man of his stupendous
merits. But he did not; for with the apt closing words above recited, Mr
Slyme; of too haughty a stomach to work, to beg, to borrow, or to steal;
yet mean enough to be worked or borrowed, begged or stolen for, by any
catspaw that would serve his turn; too insolent to lick the hand that
fed him in his need, yet cur enough to bite and tear it in the dark;
with these apt closing words Mr Slyme fell forward with his head upon
the table, and so declined into a sodden sleep.
'Was there ever,' cried Mr Tigg, joining the young men at the door,
and shutting it carefully behind him, 'such an independent spirit as is
possessed by that extraordinary creature? Was there ever such a Roman as
our friend Chiv? Was there ever a man of such a purely classical turn of
thought, and of such a toga-like simplicity of nature? Was there ever a
man with such a flow of eloquence? Might he not, gents both, I ask, have
sat upon a tripod in the ancient times, and prophesied to a perfectly
unlimited extent, if previously supplied with gin-and-water at the
Mr Pinch was about to contest this latter position with his usual
mildness, when, observing that his companion had already gone
downstairs, he prepared to follow him.
'You are not going, Mr Pinch?' said Tigg.
'Thank you,' answered Tom. 'Yes. Don't come down.'
'Do you know that I should like one little word in private with you Mr
Pinch?' said Tigg, following him. 'One minute of your company in the
skittle-ground would very much relieve my mind. Might I beseech that
'Oh, certainly,' replied Tom, 'if you really wish it.' So he accompanied
Mr Tigg to the retreat in question; on arriving at which place that
gentleman took from his hat what seemed to be the fossil remains of an
antediluvian pocket-handkerchief, and wiped his eyes therewith.
'You have not beheld me this day,' said Mr Tigg, 'in a favourable
'Don't mention that,' said Tom, 'I beg.'
'But you have NOT,' cried Tigg. 'I must persist in that opinion. If you
could have seen me, Mr Pinch, at the head of my regiment on the coast
of Africa, charging in the form of a hollow square, with the women and
children and the regimental plate-chest in the centre, you would not
have known me for the same man. You would have respected me, sir.'
Tom had certain ideas of his own upon the subject of glory; and
consequently he was not quite so much excited by this picture as Mr Tigg
could have desired.
'But no matter!' said that gentleman. 'The school-boy writing home to
his parents and describing the milk-and-water, said "This is indeed
weakness." I repeat that assertion in reference to myself at the present
moment; and I ask your pardon. Sir, you have seen my friend Slyme?'
'No doubt,' said Mr Pinch.
'Sir, you have been impressed by my friend Slyme?'
'Not very pleasantly, I must say,' answered Tom, after a little
'I am grieved but not surprised,' cried Mr Tigg, detaining him with both
hands, 'to hear that you have come to that conclusion; for it is my own.
But, Mr Pinch, though I am a rough and thoughtless man, I can honour
Mind. I honour Mind in following my friend. To you of all men, Mr Pinch,
I have a right to make appeal on Mind's behalf, when it has not the art
to push its fortune in the world. And so, sir--not for myself, who have
no claim upon you, but for my crushed, my sensitive and independent
friend, who has--I ask the loan of three half-crowns. I ask you for the
loan of three half-crowns, distinctly, and without a blush. I ask it,
almost as a right. And when I add that they will be returned by post,
this week, I feel that you will blame me for that sordid stipulation.'
Mr Pinch took from his pocket an old-fashioned red-leather purse with
a steel clasp, which had probably once belonged to his deceased
grandmother. It held one half-sovereign and no more. All Tom's worldly
wealth until next quarter-day.
'Stay!' cried Mr Tigg, who had watched this proceeding keenly. 'I was
just about to say, that for the convenience of posting you had better
make it gold. Thank you. A general direction, I suppose, to Mr Pinch at
Mr Pecksniff's--will that find you?'
'That'll find me,' said Tom. 'You had better put Esquire to Mr
Pecksniff's name, if you please. Direct to me, you know, at Seth
'At Seth Pecksniff's, Esquire,' repeated Mr Tigg, taking an exact note
of it with a stump of pencil. 'We said this week, I believe?'
'Yes; or Monday will do,' observed Tom.
'No, no, I beg your pardon. Monday will NOT do,' said Mr Tigg. 'If we
stipulated for this week, Saturday is the latest day. Did we stipulate
for this week?'
'Since you are so particular about it,' said Tom, 'I think we did.'
Mr Tigg added this condition to his memorandum; read the entry over to
himself with a severe frown; and that the transaction might be the more
correct and business-like, appended his initials to the whole. That
done, he assured Mr Pinch that everything was now perfectly regular;
and, after squeezing his hand with great fervour, departed.
Tom entertained enough suspicion that Martin might possibly turn this
interview into a jest, to render him desirous to avoid the company of
that young gentleman for the present. With this view he took a few turns
up and down the skittle-ground, and did not re-enter the house until
Mr Tigg and his friend had quitted it, and the new pupil and Mark were
watching their departure from one of the windows.
'I was just a-saying, sir, that if one could live by it,' observed Mark,
pointing after their late guests, 'that would be the sort of service
for me. Waiting on such individuals as them would be better than
'And staying here would be better than either, Mark,' replied Tom. 'So
take my advice, and continue to swim easily in smooth water.'
'It's too late to take it now, sir,' said Mark. 'I have broke it to her,
sir. I am off to-morrow morning.'
'Off!' cried Mr Pinch, 'where to?'
'I shall go up to London, sir.'
'What to be?' asked Mr Pinch.
'Well! I don't know yet, sir. Nothing turned up that day I opened my
mind to you, as was at all likely to suit me. All them trades I thought
of was a deal too jolly; there was no credit at all to be got in any
of 'em. I must look for a private service, I suppose, sir. I might be
brought out strong, perhaps, in a serious family, Mr Pinch.'
'Perhaps you might come out rather too strong for a serious family's
'That's possible, sir. If I could get into a wicked family, I might
do myself justice; but the difficulty is to make sure of one's ground,
because a young man can't very well advertise that he wants a place, and
wages an't so much an object as a wicked sitivation; can he, sir?'
'Why, no,' said Mr Pinch, 'I don't think he can.'
'An envious family,' pursued Mark, with a thoughtful face; 'or a
quarrelsome family, or a malicious family, or even a good out-and-out
mean family, would open a field of action as I might do something in.
The man as would have suited me of all other men was that old gentleman
as was took ill here, for he really was a trying customer. Howsever, I
must wait and see what turns up, sir; and hope for the worst.'
'You are determined to go then?' said Mr Pinch.
'My box is gone already, sir, by the waggon, and I'm going to walk on
to-morrow morning, and get a lift by the day coach when it overtakes me.
So I wish you good-bye, Mr Pinch--and you too, sir--and all good luck
They both returned his greeting laughingly, and walked home arm-in-arm.
Mr Pinch imparting to his new friend, as they went, such further
particulars of Mark Tapley's whimsical restlessness as the reader is
already acquainted with.
In the meantime Mark, having a shrewd notion that his mistress was
in very low spirits, and that he could not exactly answer for the
consequences of any lengthened TETE-A-TETE in the bar, kept himself
obstinately out of her way all the afternoon and evening. In this piece
of generalship he was very much assisted by the great influx of company
into the taproom; for the news of his intention having gone abroad,
there was a perfect throng there all the evening, and much drinking of
healths and clinking of mugs. At length the house was closed for the
night; and there being now no help for it, Mark put the best face he
could upon the matter, and walked doggedly to the bar-door.
'If I look at her,' said Mark to himself, 'I'm done. I feel that I'm
'You have come at last,' said Mrs Lupin.
Aye, Mark said: There he was.
'And you are determined to leave us, Mark?' cried Mrs Lupin.
'Why, yes; I am,' said Mark; keeping his eyes hard upon the floor.
'I thought,' pursued the landlady, with a most engaging hesitation,
'that you had been--fond--of the Dragon?'
'So I am,' said Mark.
'Then,' pursued the hostess--and it really was not an unnatural
inquiry--'why do you desert it?'
But as he gave no manner of answer to this question; not even on
its being repeated; Mrs Lupin put his money into his hand, and asked
him--not unkindly, quite the contrary--what he would take?
It is proverbial that there are certain things which flesh and blood
cannot bear. Such a question as this, propounded in such a manner, at
such a time, and by such a person, proved (at least, as far as, Mark's
flesh and blood were concerned) to be one of them. He looked up in spite
of himself directly; and having once looked up, there was no
looking down again; for of all the tight, plump, buxom, bright-eyed,
dimple-faced landladies that ever shone on earth, there stood before him
then, bodily in that bar, the very pink and pineapple.
'Why, I tell you what,' said Mark, throwing off all his constraint in an
instant and seizing the hostess round the waist--at which she was not at
all alarmed, for she knew what a good young man he was--'if I took what
I liked most, I should take you. If I only thought what was best for me,
I should take you. If I took what nineteen young fellows in twenty would
be glad to take, and would take at any price, I should take you. Yes,
I should,' cried Mr Tapley, shaking his head expressively enough, and
looking (in a momentary state of forgetfulness) rather hard at the
hostess's ripe lips. 'And no man wouldn't wonder if I did!'
Mrs Lupin said he amazed her. She was astonished how he could say such
things. She had never thought it of him.
'Why, I never thought if of myself till now!' said Mark, raising his
eyebrows with a look of the merriest possible surprise. 'I always
expected we should part, and never have no explanation; I meant to do it
when I come in here just now; but there's something about you, as makes
a man sensible. Then let us have a word or two together; letting it be
understood beforehand,' he added this in a grave tone, to prevent the
possibility of any mistake, 'that I'm not a-going to make no love, you
There was for just one second a shade, though not by any means a dark
one, on the landlady's open brow. But it passed off instantly, in a
laugh that came from her very heart.
'Oh, very good!' she said; 'if there is to be no love-making, you had
better take your arm away.'
'Lord, why should I!' cried Mark. 'It's quite innocent.'
'Of course it's innocent,' returned the hostess, 'or I shouldn't allow
'Very well!' said Mark. 'Then let it be.'
There was so much reason in this that the landlady laughed again,
suffered it to remain, and bade him say what he had to say, and be quick
about it. But he was an impudent fellow, she added.
'Ha ha! I almost think I am!' cried Mark, 'though I never thought so
before. Why, I can say anything to-night!'
'Say what you're going to say if you please, and be quick,' returned the
landlady, 'for I want to get to bed.'
'Why, then, my dear good soul,' said Mark, 'and a kinder woman than you
are never drawed breath--let me see the man as says she did!--what would
be the likely consequence of us two being--'
'Oh nonsense!' cried Mrs Lupin. 'Don't talk about that any more.'
'No, no, but it an't nonsense,' said Mark; 'and I wish you'd attend.
What would be the likely consequence of us two being married? If I can't
be content and comfortable in this here lively Dragon now, is it to be
looked for as I should be then? By no means. Very good. Then you, even
with your good humour, would be always on the fret and worrit, always
uncomfortable in your own mind, always a-thinking as you was getting too
old for my taste, always a-picturing me to yourself as being chained
up to the Dragon door, and wanting to break away. I don't know that it
would be so,' said Mark, 'but I don't know that it mightn't be. I am a
roving sort of chap, I know. I'm fond of change. I'm always a-thinking
that with my good health and spirits it would be more creditable in me
to be jolly where there's things a-going on to make one dismal. It may
be a mistake of mine you see, but nothing short of trying how it acts
will set it right. Then an't it best that I should go; particular when
your free way has helped me out to say all this, and we can part as
good friends as we have ever been since first I entered this here noble
Dragon, which,' said Mr Tapley in conclusion, 'has my good word and my
good wish to the day of my death!'
The hostess sat quite silent for a little time, but she very soon put
both her hands in Mark's and shook them heartily.
'For you are a good man,' she said; looking into his face with a smile,
which was rather serious for her. 'And I do believe have been a better
friend to me to-night than ever I have had in all my life.'
'Oh! as to that, you know,' said Mark, 'that's nonsense. But love my
heart alive!' he added, looking at her in a sort of rapture, 'if you ARE
that way disposed, what a lot of suitable husbands there is as you may
She laughed again at this compliment; and, once more shaking him by both
hands, and bidding him, if he should ever want a friend, to remember
her, turned gayly from the little bar and up the Dragon staircase.
'Humming a tune as she goes,' said Mark, listening, 'in case I should
think she's at all put out, and should be made down-hearted. Come,
here's some credit in being jolly, at last!'
With that piece of comfort, very ruefully uttered, he went, in anything
but a jolly manner, to bed.
He rose early next morning, and was a-foot soon after sunrise. But it
was of no use; the whole place was up to see Mark Tapley off; the boys,
the dogs, the children, the old men, the busy people and the idlers;
there they were, all calling out 'Good-b'ye, Mark,' after their own
manner, and all sorry he was going. Somehow he had a kind of sense that
his old mistress was peeping from her chamber-window, but he couldn't
make up his mind to look back.
'Good-b'ye one, good-b'ye all!' cried Mark, waving his hat on the top
of his walking-stick, as he strode at a quick pace up the little street.
'Hearty chaps them wheelwrights--hurrah! Here's the butcher's dog
a-coming out of the garden--down, old fellow! And Mr Pinch a-going to
his organ--good-b'ye, sir! And the terrier-bitch from over the way--hie,
then, lass! And children enough to hand down human natur to the latest
posterity--good-b'ye, boys and girls! There's some credit in it now. I'm
a-coming out strong at last. These are the circumstances that would try
a ordinary mind; but I'm uncommon jolly. Not quite as jolly as I could
wish to be, but very near. Good-b'ye! good-b'ye!'