Chapter 24Reports progress in certain homely matters of love, hatred, jealousy, and revenge
`HALLO, PECKSNIFF!' cried Mr. Jonas from the parlour. `Isn't somebody a-going to open that precious old door of yours?'
`Immediately, Mr. Jonas. Immediately.'
`Ecod,' muttered the orphan, `not before it's time neither. Whoever it is, has knocked three times, and each one loud enough to wake the--' he had such a repugnance to the idea of waking the Dead, that he stopped even then with the words upon his tongue, and said, instead, `the Seven Sleepers.'
`Immediately, Mr. Jonas; immediately,' repeated Pecksniff. `Thomas Pinch:' he couldn't make up his mind, in his great agitation, whether to call Tom his dear friend or a villain, so he shook his fist at him pro tem.: `go up to my daughters' room, and tell them who is here. Say Silence. Silence! Do you hear me, sir?
`Directly, sir!" cried Tom, departing, in a state of much amazement, on his errand.
`You'll--ha, ha, ha!--you'll excuse me, Mr. Jonas, if I close this door a moment, will you?' said Pecksniff. `This may be a professional call. Indeed I am pretty sure it is. Thank you.' Then Mr. Pecksniff, gently warbling a rustic stave, put on his garden hat, seized a spade, and opened the street door: calmly appearing on the threshold, as if he thought he had, from his vineyard, heard a modest rap, but was not quite certain.
Seeing a gentleman and lady before him, he started back in as much confusion as a good man with a crystal conscience might betray in mere surprise. Recognition came upon him the next moment, and he cried:
`Mr. Chuzzlewit! Can I believe my eyes! My dear sir; my good sir! A joyful hour, a happy hour indeed. Pray, my dear sir, walk in. You find me in my garden-dress. You will excuse it, I know. It is an ancient pursuit, gardening. Primitive, my dear sir. Or, if I am not mistaken, Adam was the first of our calling. My Eve, I grieve to say is no more, sir; but:' here he pointed to his spade, and shook his head as if he were not cheerful without an effort: `but I do a little bit of Adam still.'
He had by this time got them into the best parlour, where the portrait by Spiller, and the bust by Spoker, were.
`My daughters,' said Mr. Pecksniff, `will be overjoyed. If I could feel weary upon such a theme, I should have been worn out long ago, my dear sir, by their constant anticipation of this happiness and their repeated allusions to our meeting at Mrs. Todgers's. Their fair young friend, too,' said Mr. Pecksniff, `whom they so desire to know and love--indeed to know her, is to love--I hope I see her well. I hope in saying, "Welcome to my humble roof!" I find some echo in her own sentiments. If features are an index to the heart, I have no fears of that. An extremely engaging expression of countenance, Mr. Chuzzlewit, my dear sir; very much so!'
`Mary,' said the old man, `Mr. Pecksniff flatters you. But flattery from him is worth the having. He is not a dealer in it, and it comes from his heart. We thought Mr.--'
`Pinch,' said Mary.
`Mr. Pinch would have arrived before us, Pecksniff.'
`He did arrive before you, my dear sir,' retorted Pecksniff, raising his voice for the edification of Tom upon the stairs, `and was about, I dare say, to tell me of your coming, when I begged him first to knock at my daughters' chamber, and inquire after Charity, my dear child, who is not so well as I could wish. No,' said Mr. Pecksniff, answering their looks, `I am sorry to say, she is not. It is merely an hysterical affection; nothing more, I am not uneasy. Mr. Pinch! Thomas!' exclaimed Pecksniff, in his kindest accents. `Pray come in.
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