Chapter 32

Treats of Todger's again; and of another blighted plant besides the plants upon the leads

EARLY ON THE DAY NEXT AFTER that on which she bade adieu to the halls of her youth and the scenes of her childhood, Miss Pecksniff, arriving safely at the coach-office in London, was there received, and conducted to her peaceful home beneath the shadow of the Monument, by Mrs. Todgers. M. Todgers looked a little worn by cares of gravy and other such solicitudes arising out of her establishment, but displayed her usual earnestness and warmth of manner.

`And how, my sweet Miss Pecksniff,' said she, `how is your princely pa?'

Miss Pecksniff signified (in confidence) that he contemplated the introduction of a princely ma; and repeated the sentiment that she wasn't blind, and wasn't quite a fool, and wouldn't bear it.

Mrs. Todgers was more shocked by the intelligence than any one could have expected. She was quite bitter. She said there was no truth in man and that the warmer he expressed himself, as a general principle, the falser and more treacherous he was. She foresaw with astonishing clearness that the object of Mr. Pecksniff's attachment was designing, worthless, and wicked; and receiving from Charity the fullest confirmation of these views, protested with tears in her eyes that she loved Miss Pecksniff like a sister, and felt her injuries as if they were her own.

`Your real darling sister, I have not seen her more than once since her marriage,' said Mrs. Todgers, `and then I thought her looking poorly. My sweet Miss Pecksniff, I always thought that you was to be the lady?'

`Oh dear no!' cried Cherry, shaking her head. `Oh no, Mrs. Todgers. Thank you. No! not for any consideration he could offer.'

`I dare say you are right,' said Mrs. Todgers with a sigh. `I feared it all along. But the misery we have had from that match, here among ourselves, in this house, my dear Miss Pecksniff, nobody would believe.'

`Lor, Mrs. Todgers!'

`Awful, awful!' repeated Mrs. Todgers, with strong emphasis `You recollect our youngest gentleman, my dear?'

`Of course I do,' said Cherry.

`You might have observed,' said Mrs. Todgers, `how he used to watch your sister; and that a kind of stony dumbness came over him whenever she was in company?'

`I am sure I never saw anything of the sort,' said Cherry, in a peevish manner. `What nonsense, Mrs. Todgers!'

`My dear,' returned that lady in a hollow voice, `I have seen him again and again, sitting over his pie at dinner, with his spoon a perfect fixture in his mouth, looking at your sister. I have seen him standing in a corner of our drawing-room, gazing at her, in such a lonely, melancholy state, that he was more like a Pump than a man, and might have drawed tears.'

`I never saw it!' cried Cherry; `that's all I can say.'

`But when the marriage took place,' said Mrs. Todgers, proceeding with her subject, `when it was in the paper, and was read out here at breakfast, I thought he had taken leave of his senses, I did indeed. The violence of that young man, my dear Miss Pecksniff; the frightful opinions he expressed upon the subject of self-destruction; the extraordinary actions he performed with his tea; the clenching way in which he bit his bread and butter; the manner in which he taunted Mr. Jinkins; all combined to form a picture never to be forgotten.'

  By PanEris using Melati.

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