`My wishes, sir,' replied Mr. Tapley, whose mind would appear from the context to have been running on the matrimonial service, `is to love, honour, and obey. The clock's a-striking now, sir.'

`Come in!'

`Thank'ee, sir,' rejoined Mr. Tapley, `what could I do for you first, sir?'

`You gave my message to Martin?' said the old man, bending his eyes upon him.

`I did, sir,' returned Mark; `and you never see a gentleman more surprised in all your born days than he was.'

`What more did you tell him?' Mr. Chuzzlewit inquired.

`Why, sir,' said Mr. Tapley, smiling, `I should have liked to tell him a deal more, but not being able, sir, I didn't tell it him.'

`You told him all you knew?'

`But it was precious little, sir,' retorted Mr. Tapley. `There was very little respectin' you that I was able to tell him, sir. I only mentioned my opinion that Mr. Pecksniff would find himself deceived, sir, and that you would find yourself deceived, and that he would find himself deceived, sir.'

`In what?' asked Mr. Chuzzlewit.

`Meaning him, sir?'

`Meaning both him and me.'

`Well, sir,' said Mr. Tapley. `In your old opinions of each other. As to him, sir, and his opinions, I know he's a altered man. I know it. I know'd it long afore he spoke to you t'other day, and I must say it. Nobody don't know half as much of him as I do. Nobody can't. There was always a deal of good in him, but a little of it got crusted over, somehow. I can't say who rolled the paste of that 'ere crust myself, but--'

`Go on,' said Martin. `Why do you stop?'

`But it--well! I beg your pardon, but I think it may have been you, sir. Unintentional I think it may have been you. I don't believe that neither of you gave the other quite a fair chance. There! Now I've got rid on it,' said Mr. Tapley in a fit of desperation: `I can't go a-carryin' it about in my own mind, bustin' myself with it; yesterday was quite long enough. It's out now. I can't help it. I'm sorry for it. Don't wisit on him, sir, that's all.'

It was clear that Mark expected to be ordered out immediately, and was quite prepared to go.

`So you think,' said Martin, `that his old faults are, in some degree, of my creation, do you?'

`Well, sir,' retorted Mr. Tapley, `I'm werry sorry, but I can't unsay it. It's hardly fair of you, sir, to make a ignorant man conwict himself in this way, but I do think so. I am as respectful disposed to you, sir, as a man can be; but I do think so.'

The light of a faint smile seemed to break through the dull steadiness of Martin's face, as he looked attentively at him, without replying.

`Yet you are an ignorant man, you say,' he observed after a long pause.

`Werry much so,' Mr. Tapley replied.

  By PanEris using Melati.

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