In pursuance of which opinion, two people took their seats in the vehicle, which was solemnly licensed by Act of Parliament to carry any six persons who could be got in at the door.
`That was lucky!' whispered the old man, when they moved on again. `And a great stroke of policy in you to observe it. He, he, he! We couldn't have gone outside. I should have died of the rheumatism!'
Whether it occurred to the dutiful son that he had in some degree over-reached himself by contributing to the prolongation of his father's days; or whether the cold had effected his temper; is doubtful. But he gave his father such a nudge in reply, that that good old gentleman was taken with a cough which lasted for full five minutes without intermission, and goaded Mr. Pecksniff to that pitch of irritation, that he said at last: and very suddenly:
`There is no room! There is really no room in this coach for any gentleman with a cold in his head!'
`Mine,' said the old man, after a moment's pause, `is upon my chest, Pecksniff.'
The voice and manner, together, now that he spoke out; the composure of the speaker; the presence of his son; and his knowledge of Mr. Pecksniff; afforded a clue to his identity which it was impossible to mistake.
`Hem! I thought,' said Mr. Pecksniff, returning to his usual mildness, `that I addressed a stranger. I find that I address a relative, Mr. Anthony Chuzzlewit and his son Mr. Jonas -- for they, my dear children, are our travelling companions -- will excuse me for an apparently harsh remark. It is not my desire to wound the feelings of any person with whom I am connected in family bonds. I may be a Hypocrite,' said Mr. Pecksniff, cuttingly, `but I am not a Brute.'
`Pooh, pooh!' said the old man. `What signifies that word, Pecksniff? Hypocrite! why, we are all hypocrites. We were all hypocrites t'other day. I am sure I felt that to be agreed upon among us, or I shouldn't have called you one. We should not have been there at all, if we had not been hypocrites. The only difference between you and the rest was -- shall I tell you the difference between you and the rest now, Pecksniff?'
`If you please, my good sir; if you please.'
`Why, the annoying quality in you, is,' said the old man, `that you never have a confederate or partner in your juggling; you would deceive everybody, even those who practise the same art; and have a way with you, as if you -- he, he, he! -- as if you really believed yourself. I'd lay a handsome wager now,' said the old man, `if I laid wagers, which I don't and never did, that you keep up appearances by a tacit understanding, even before your own daughters here. Now I, when I have a business scheme in hand, tell Jonas what it is, and we discuss it openly. You're not offended, Pecksniff?'
`Offended, my good sir!' cried that gentleman, as if he had received the highest compliments that language could convey.
`Are you travelling to London, Mr. Pecksniff?' asked the son.
`Yes, Mr. Jonas, we are travelling to London. We shall have the pleasure of your company all the way, I trust?'
`Oh! ecod, you had better ask father that,' said Jonas. `I am not a-going to commit myself.'
Mr. Pecksniff was, as a matter of course, greatly entertained by this retort. His mirth having subsided, Mr. Jonas gave him to understand that himself and parent were in fact travelling to their home in the metropolis: and that, since the memorable day of the great family gathering, they had been tarrying in that part of the country, watching the sale of certain eligible investments, which they had had in their copartnership eye when they came down; for it was their custom, Mr. Jonas said, whenever such a thing was practicable, to kill two birds with one stone, and never to throw away sprats, but as bait for whales.
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