those visions have comforted me under circumstances of trial. Even when I have had the anguish of discovering that I have nourished in my breast on ostrich, and not a human pupil: even in that hour of agony, they have soothed me.'

At this dread allusion to John Westlock, Mr. Pinch precipitately choked in his tea; for he had that very morning received a letter from him, as Mr. Pecksniff very well knew.

`You will take care, my dear Martin,' said Mr. Pecksniff, resuming his former cheerfulness, `that the house does not run away in our absence. We leave you in charge of everything. There is no mystery; all is free and open. Unlike the young man in the Eastern tale --who is described as a one-eyed almanack, if I am not mistaken, Mr. Pinch?'

`A one-eyed calender, I think, sir,' faltered Tom.

`They are pretty nearly the same thing, I believe,' said Mr. Pecksniff, smiling compassionately; `or they used to be in my time. Unlike that young man, my dear Martin, you are forbidden to enter no corner of this house; but are requested to make yourself perfectly at home in every part of it. You will be jovial, my dear Martin, and will kill the fatted calf if you please!'

There was not the least objection, doubtless, to the young man's slaughtering and appropriating to his own use any calf, fat or lean, that he might happen to find upon the premises; but as no such animal chanced at that time to be grazing on Mr. Pecksniff's estate, this request must be considered rather as a polite compliment that a substantial hospitality. It was the finishing ornament of the conversation; for when he had delivered it, Mr. Pecksniff rose and led the way to that hot-bed of architectural genius, the two-pair front.

`Let me see,' he said, searching among the papers, `how you can best employ yourself, Martin, while I am absent. Suppose you were to give me your idea of a monument to a Lord Mayor of London; or a tomb for a sheriff; or your notion of a cow-house to be erected in a nobleman's park. Do you know, now,' said Mr. Pecksniff, folding his hands, and looking at his young relation with an air of pensive interest, `that I should very much like to see your notion of a cowhouse?'

But Martin by no means appeared to relish this suggestion.

`A pump,' said Mr. Pecksniff, `is very chaste practice. I have found that a lamp-post is calculated to refine the mind and give it a classical tendency. An ornamental turnpike has a remarkable effect upon the imagination. What do you say to beginning with an ornamental turnpike?'

`Whatever Mr. Pecksniff pleased,' said Martin, doubtfully.

`Stay,' said that gentleman. `Come! as you're ambitious, and are a very neat draughtsman, you shall --ha ah! --you shall try your hand on these proposals for a grammar-school: regulating your plan, of course, by the printed particulars. Upon my word, now,' said Mr. Pecksniff, merrily, `I shall be very curious to see what you make of the grammar-school. Who knows but a young man of your taste might hit upon something, impracticable and unlikely in itself, but which I could put into shape? For it really is, my dear Martin, it really is in the finishing touches alone, that great experience and long study in these matters tell. Ha, ha, ha! Now it really will be,' continued Mr. Pecksniff, clapping his young friend on the back in his droll humour, `an amusement to me, to see what you make of the grammar-school.'

Martin readily undertook this task, and Mr. Pecksniff forthwith proceeded to entrust him with the materials necessary for its execution: dwelling meanwhile on the magical effect of a few finishing touches from the hand of a master; which, indeed, as some people said (and these were the old enemies again!) was unquestionably very surprising, and almost miraculous; as there were cases on record in which the masterly

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