Arthur continuing to lie very ill in the Marshalsea, and Mr Rugg descrying no break in the legal sky affording a hope of his enlargement, Mr Pancks suffered desperately from self-reproaches. If it had not been for those infallible figures which proved that Arthur, instead of pining in imprisonment, ought to be promenading in a carriage and pair, and that Mr Pancks, instead of being restricted to his clerkly wages, ought to have from three to five thousand pounds of his own at his immediate disposal, that unhappy arithmetician would probably have taken to his bed, and there have made one of the many obscure persons who turned their faces to the wall and died, as a last sacrifice to the late Mr Merdle’s greatness. Solely supported by his unimpugnable calculations, Mr Pancks led an unhappy and restless life; constantly carrying his figures about with him in his hat, and not only going over them himself on every possible occasion, but entreating every human being he could lay hold of to go over them with him, and observe what a clear case it was. Down in Bleeding Heart Yard there was scarcely an inhabitant of note to whom Mr Pancks had not imparted his demonstration, and, as figures are catching, a kind of ciphering measles broke out in that locality, under the influence of which the whole Yard was light-headed.

The more restless Mr Pancks grew in his mind, the more impatient he became of the Patriarch. In their later conferences his snorting assumed an irritable sound which boded the Patriarch no good; likewise, Mr Pancks had on several occasions looked harder at the Patriarchal bumps than was quite reconcilable with the fact of his not being a painter, or a peruke-maker in search of the living model.

However, he steamed in and out of his little back Dock according as he was wanted or not wanted in the Patriarchal presence, and business had gone on in its customary course. Bleeding Heart Yard had been harrowed by Mr Pancks, and cropped by Mr Casby, at the regular seasons; Mr Pancks had taken all the drudgery and all the dirt of the business as his share; Mr Casby had taken all the profits, all the ethereal vapour, and all the moonshine, as his share; and, in the form of words which that benevolent beamer generally employed on Saturday evenings, when he twirled his fat thumbs after striking the week’s balance, ‘everything had been satisfactory to all parties—all parties—satisfactory, sir, to all parties.’

The Dock of the Steam-Tug, Pancks, had a leaden roof, which, frying in the very hot sunshine, may have heated the vessel. Be that as it may, one glowing Saturday evening, on being hailed by the lumbering bottle-green ship, the Tug instantly came working out of the Dock in a highly heated condition. ‘Mr Pancks,’ was the Patriarchal remark, ‘you have been remiss, you have been remiss, sir.’ ‘What do you mean by that?’ was the short rejoinder.

The Patriarchal state, always a state of calmness and composure, was so particularly serene that evening as to be provoking. Everybody else within the bills of mortality was hot; but the Patriarch was perfectly cool. Everybody was thirsty, and the Patriarch was drinking. There was a fragrance of limes or lemons about him; and he made a drink of golden sherry, which shone in a large tumbler as if he were drinking the evening sunshine. this was bad, but not the worst. The worst was, that with his big blue eyes, and his polished head, and his long white hair, and his bottle-green legs stretched out before him, terminating in his easy shoes easily crossed at the instep, he had a radiant appearance of having in his extensive benevolence made the drink for the human species, while he himself wanted nothing but his own milk of human kindness.

Wherefore, Mr Pancks said, ‘What do you mean by that?’ and put his hair up with both hands, in a highly portentous manner.

‘I mean, Mr Pancks, that you must be sharper with the people, sharper with the people, much sharper with the people, sir. You don’t squeeze them. You don’t squeeze them. Your receipts are not up to the mark. You must squeeze them, sir, or our connection will not continue to be as satisfactory as I could wish it to be to all parties. All parties.’

Don’t I squeeze ’em?’ retorted Mr Pancks. ‘What else am I made for?’

You are made for nothing else, Mr Pancks. You are made to do your duty, but you don’t do your duty. You are paid to squeeze, and you must squeeze to pay.’ The Patriarch so much surprised himself by

  By PanEris using Melati.

Previous chapter Back Home Email this Search Discuss Bookmark Next chapter/page
Copyright: All texts on Bibliomania are © Bibliomania.com Ltd, and may not be reproduced in any form without our written permission. See our FAQ for more details.