I shall make no stranger of you. Thomas is a friend of mine, of rather long-standing, Mr. Chuzzlewit, you must know.'

`Thank you, sir,' said Tom. `You introduce me very kindly, and speak of me in terms of which I am very proud'

`Old Thomas!' cried his master, pleasantly `God bless you!'

Tom reported that the young ladies would appear directly, and that the best refreshments which the house afforded were even then in preparation, under their joint superintendence. While he was speaking, the old man looked at him intently, though with less harshness than was common to him; nor did the mutual embarrassment of Tom and the young lady, to whatever cause he attributed it, seem to escape his observation.

`Pecksniff,' he said after a pause, rising and taking him aside towards the window, `I was much shocked on hearing of my brother's death. We had been strangers for many years. My only comfort is that he must have lived the happier and better man for having associated no hopes or schemes with me. Peace to his memory! We were play-fellows once; and it would have been better for us both if we had died then.'

Finding him in this gentle mood, Mr. Pecksniff began to see another way out of his difficulties, besides the casting overboard of Jonas.

`That any man, my dear sir, could possibly be the happier for not knowing you,' he returned, `you will excuse my doubting. But that Mr. Anthony, in the evening of his life, was happier in the affection of his excellent son--a pattern, my dear sir, a pattern to all sons--and in the care of a distant relation who, however lowly in his means of serving him, had no bounds to his inclination; I can inform you.'

`How's this?' said the old man. `You are not a legatee?'

`You don't,' said Mr. Pecksniff, with a melancholy pressure of his hand, `quite understand my nature yet, I find. No, sir, I am not a legatee. I am proud to say I am not a legatee. I am proud to say that neither of my children is a legatee. And yet, sir, I was with him at his own request. He understood me somewhat better, sir. He wrote and said, "I am sick. I am sinking. Come to me!" I went to him. I sat beside his bed, sir, and I stood beside his grave. Yes, at the risk of offending even you, I did it, sir. Though the avowal should lead to our instant separation, and to the severing of those tender ties between us which have recently been formed, I make it. But I am not a legatee,' said Mr. Pecksniff, smiling dispassionately; `and I never expected to be a legatee. I knew better!'

`His son a pattern!' cried old Martin. `How can you tell me that? My brother had in his wealth the usual doom of wealth, and root of misery. He carried his corrupting influence with him, go where he would; and shed it round him, even on his hearth. It made of his own child a greedy expectant, who measured every day and hour the lessening distance between his father and the grave, and cursed his tardy progress on that dismal road.'

`No!' cried Mr. Pecksniff, boldly. `Not at all, sir!'

`But I saw that shadow in his house,' said Martin Chuzzlewit, `the last time we met, and warned him of its presence. I know it when I see it, do I not? I, who have lived within it all these years!'

`I deny it,' Mr. Pecksniff answered, warmly. `I deny it altogether. That bereaved young man is now in this house, sir, seeking in change of scene the peace of mind he has lost. Shall I be backward in doing justice to that young man, when even undertakers and coffinmakers have been moved by the conduct he has exhibited; when even mutes have spoken in his praise, and the medical man hasn't known what to do with himself in the excitement of his feelings! There is a person of the name of Gamp, sir--Mrs.

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