`Of course,' said Martin. `But I don't know where she is. Not having had the heart to write in our distress-- you yourself thought silence most advisable--and consequently, never having heard from her since we left New York the first time, I don't know where she is, my good fellow.'
`My opinion is, sir,' returned Mark, `that what we've got to do is to travel straight to the Dragon. There's no need for you to go there, where you're known, unless you like. You may stop ten mile short of it. I'll go on. Mrs. Lupin will tell me all the news. Mr. Pinch will give me every information that we want: and right glad Mr. Pinch will be to do it. My proposal is: To set off walking this afternoon. To stop when we are tired. To get a lift when we can. To walk when we can't. To do it at once, and do it cheap.'
`Unless we do it cheap, we shall have some difficulty in doing it at all,' said Martin, pulling out the bank, and telling it over in his hand.
`The greater reason for losing no time, sir,' replied Mark. `Whereas, when you've seen the young lady; and know what state of mind the old gentleman's in, and all about it; then you'll know what to do next.'
`No doubt,' said Martin. `You are quite right.'
They were raising their glasses to their lips, when their hands stopped midway, and their gaze was arrested by a figure which slowly, very slowly, and reflectively, passed the window at that moment.
Mr. Pecksniff, Placid, calm, but proud. Honestly proud. Dressed with peculiar care, smiling with even more than usual blandness, pondering on the beauties of his art with a mild abstraction from all sordid thoughts, and gently travelling across the disc, as if he were a figure in a magic lantern.
As Mr. Pecksniff passed, a person coming in the opposite direction stopped to look after him with great interest and respect, almost with veneration; and the landlord bouncing out of the house, as if he had seen him too, joined this person, and spoke to him, and shook his head gravely, and looked after Mr. Pecksniff likewise.
Martin and Mark sat staring at each other, as if they could not believe it; but there stood the landlord, and the other man still. In spite of the indignation with which this glimpse of Mr. Pecksniff had inspired him, Martin could not help laughing heartily. Neither could Mark.
`We must inquire into this!' said Martin. `Ask the landlord in, Mark.'
Mr. Tapley retired for that purpose, and immediately returned with their large-headed host in safe convoy.
`Pray, landlord!' said Martin, `who is that gentleman who passed just now, and whom you were looking after?'
The landlord poked the fire as if, in his desire to make the most of his answer, he had become indifferent even to the price of coals; and putting his hands in his pockets, said, after inflating himself to give still further effect to his reply:
`That, gentlemen, is the great Mr. Pecksniff! The celebrated architect, gentlemen!'
He looked from one to the other while he said it, as if he were ready to assist the first man who might be overcome by the intelligence.
`The great Mr. Pecksniff, the celebrated architect, gentlemen.' said the landlord, `has come down here, to help to lay the first stone of a new and splendid public building.'
`Is it to be built from his designs?' asked Martin.
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