The Man in the Monument was a Cynic; a worldly man! Tom couldn't ask his way of him. He was prepared to put no confidence in anything he said.
`My gracious!' cried a well-known voice behind Mr. Pinch. `Why, to be sure it is!'
At the same time he was poked in the back by a parasol. Turning round to inquire into this salute, he beheld the eldest daughter of his late patron.
`Miss Pecksniff!' said Tom.
`Why, my goodness, Mr. Pinch!' cried Cherry. `What are you doing here?'
`I have rather wandered from my way,' said Tom. `I--'
`I hope you have run away,' said Charity. `It would be quite spirited and proper if you had, when my Papa so far forgets himself.'
`I have left him,' returned Tom. `But it was perfectly understood on both sides. It was not done clandestinely.'
`Is he married?' asked Cherry, with a spasmodic shake of her chin.
`No, not yet,' said Tom, colouring: `to tell you the truth, I don't think he is likely to be, if -- if Miss Graham is the object of his passion.'
`Tcha, Mr. Pinch!' cried Charity, with sharp impatience, `you're very easily deceived. You don't know the arts of which such a creature is capable. Oh! it's a wicked world.'
`You are not married?' Tom hinted, to divert the conversation.
`N--no!' said Cherry, tracing out one particular paving-stone in Monument Yard with the end of her parasol. `I -- but really it's quite impossible to explain. Won't you walk in?'
`You live here, then?' said Tom
`Yes,' returned Miss Pecksniff, pointing with her parasol to Todgers's: `I reside with this lady, at present.'
The great stress on the two last words suggested to Tom that he was expected to say something in reference to them. So he said.
`Only at present! Are you going home again soon?'
`No, Mr. Pinch,' returned Charity. `No, thank you. No! A mother-in-law who is younger than -- I mean to say, who is as nearly as possible about the same age as one's self, would not quite suit my spint. Not quite!' said Cherry, with a spiteful shiver.
`I thought from your saying "at present"' -- Tom observed.
`Really, upon my word! I had no idea you would press me so very closely on the subject, Mr. Pinch,' said Charity, blushing, `or I should not have been so foolish as to allude to -- oh really! -- won't you walk in?'
Tom mentioned, to excuse himself, that he had an appointment in Furnival's Inn, and that coming from Islington he had taken a few wrong turnings, and arrived at the Monument instead. Miss Pecksniff simpered very much when he asked her if she knew the way to Furnival's Inn, and at length found courage to reply.
`A gentleman who is a friend of mine, or at least who is not exactly a friend so much as a sort of acquaintance -- oh upon my word, I hardly know what I say, Mr. Pinch. you mustn't suppose there is any engagement
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