`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 with you.'

`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 money.'

`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 as possible.

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 acquainted.'

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?'

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