`Mark Tapley, too!' said Tom, running towards the door, and shaking hands with somebody else. `My dear Mark, come in. How are you, Mark? He don't look a day older than he used to do at the Dragon. How are you, Mark?'
`Uncommonly jolly, sir, thank'ee,' returned Mr. Tapley, all smiles and bows. `I hope I see you well, sir.'
`Good gracious me!' cried Tom, patting him tenderly on the back. `How delightful it is to hear his old voice again! My dear Martin, sit down. My sister, Martin. Mr. Chuzzlewit, my love. Mark Tapley from the Dragon, my dear. Good gracious me, what a surprise this is! Sit down. Lord, bless me!'
Tom was in such a state of excitement that he couldn't keep himself still for a moment, but was constantly running between Mark and Martin, shaking hands with them alternately, and presenting them over and over again to his sister.
`I remember the day we parted, Martin, as well as if it were yesterday,' said Tom. `What a day it was! and what a passion you were in! And don't you remember my overtaking you in the road that morning, Mark, when I was going to Salisbury in the gig to fetch him and you were looking out for a situation? And don't you recollect the dinner we had at Salisbury, Martin, with John Westlock, eh! Good gracious me! Ruth, my dear, Mr. Chuzzlewit. Mark Tapley, my love, from the Dragon. More cups and saucers, if you please. Bless my soul, how glad I am to see you both!'
And then Tom (as John Westlock had done on his arrival) ran off to the loaf to cut some bread and butter for them; and before he had spread a single slice, remembered something else, and came running back again to tell it; and then he shook hands with them again; and then he introduced his sister again; and then he did everything he had done already all over again; and nothing Tom could do, and nothing Tom could say, was half sufficient to express his joy at their safe return.
Mr. Tapley was the first to resume his composure. In a very short space of time he was discovered to have somehow installed himself m office as waiter, or attendant upon the party; a fact which was first suggested to them by his temporary absence in the kitchen, and speedy return with a kettle of boiling water, from which he replenished the tea-pot with a self-possession that was quite his own.
`Sit down, and take your breakfast, Mark,' said Tom. `Make him sit down and take his breakfast, Martin.'
`Oh! I gave him up, long ago, as incorrigible,' Martin replied. `He takes his own way, Tom. You would excuse him, Miss Pinch, if you knew his value.'
`She knows it, bless you!' said Tom. `I have told her all about Mark Tapley. Have I not, Ruth?'
`Not all,' returned Martin, in a low voice. `The best of Mark Tapley is only known to one man, Tom; and but for Mark he would hardly be alive to tell it!'
`Mark!' said Tom Pinch energetically: `if you don't sit down this minute, I'll swear at you!'
`Well, sir,' returned Mr. Tapley, `sooner than you should do that, I'll com-ply. It's a considerable invasion of a man's jollity to be made so partickler welcome, but a Werb is a word as signifies to be, to do, or to suffer (which is all the grammar, and enough too, as ever I wos taught); and if there's a Werb alive, I'm it. For I'm always a-bein', sometimes a-doin', and continually a-sufferin'.'
`Not jolly yet?' asked Tom, with a smile.
`Why, I was rather so, over the water, sir,' returned Mr. Tapley; `and not entirely without credit. But Human Natur' is in a conspiracy again' me; I can't get on. I shall have to leave it in my will, sir, to be wrote upon
|Copyright: All texts on Bibliomania are © Bibliomania.com Ltd, and may not be reproduced in any form without our written permission. See our FAQ for more details.|