No slight circumstance, perhaps, could have better illustrated the difference of character between John Westlock and Martin Chuzzlewit, than the manner in which each of the young men contemplated Tom Pinch, after the little rupture just described. There was a certain amount of jocularity in the looks of both, no doubt, but there all resemblance ceased. The old pupil could not do enough to show Tom how cordially he felt towards him, and his friendly regard seemed of a graver and more thoughtful kind than before. The new one, on the other hand, had no impulse but to laugh at the recollection of Tom's extreme absurdity; and mingled with his amusement there was something slighting and contemptuous, indicative, as it appeared, of his opinion that Mr Pinch was much too far gone in simplicity to be admitted as the friend, on serious and equal terms, of any rational man.
John Westlock, who did nothing by halves, if he could help it, had provided beds for his two guests in the hotel; and after a very happy evening, they retired. Mr Pinch was sitting on the side of his bed with his cravat and shoes off, ruminating on the manifold good qualities of his old friend, when he was interrupted by a knock at his chamber door, and the voice of John himself.
'You're not asleep yet, are you, Tom?'
'Bless you, no! not I. I was thinking of you,' replied Tom, opening the door. 'Come in.'
'I am not going to detail you,' said John; 'but I have forgotten all the evening a little commission I took upon myself; and I am afraid I may forget it again, if I fail to discharge it at once. You know a Mr Tigg, Tom, I believe?'
'Tigg!' cried Tom. 'Tigg! The gentleman who borrowed some money of me?'
'Exactly,' said John Westlock. 'He begged me to present his compliments, and to return it with many thanks. Here it is. I suppose it's a good one, but he is rather a doubtful kind of customer, Tom.'
Mr Pinch received the little piece of gold with a face whose brightness might have shamed the metal; and said he had no fear about that. He was glad, he added, to find Mr Tigg so prompt and honourable in his dealings; very glad.
'Why, to tell you the truth, Tom,' replied his friend, 'he is not always so. If you'll take my advice, you'll avoid him as much as you can, in the event of your encountering him again. And by no means, Tom--pray bear this in mind, for I am very serious--by no means lend him money any more.'
'Aye, aye!' said Tom, with his eyes wide open.
'He is very far from being a reputable acquaintance,' returned young Westlock; 'and the more you let him know you think so, the better for you, Tom.'
'I say, John,' quoth Mr Pinch, as his countenance fell, and he shook his head in a dejected manner. 'I hope you are not getting into bad company.'
'No, no,' he replied laughing. 'Don't be uneasy on that score.'
'Oh, but I AM uneasy,' said Tom Pinch; 'I can't help it, when I hear you talking in that way. If Mr Tigg is what you describe him to be, you have no business to know him, John. You may laugh, but I don't consider it by any means a laughing matter, I assure you.'
'No, no,' returned his friend, composing his features. 'Quite right. It is not, certainly.'
'You know, John,' said Mr Pinch, 'your very good nature and kindness of heart make you thoughtless, and you can't be too careful on such a point as this. Upon my word, if I thought you were falling among bad companions, I should be quite wretched, for I know how difficult you would find it to shake them off. I would much rather have lost this money, John, than I would have had it back again on such terms.'
'I tell you, my dear good old fellow,' cried his friend, shaking him to and fro with both hands, and smiling at him with a cheerful, open countenance, that would have carried conviction to a mind much more suspicious than Tom's; 'I tell you there is no danger.'
'Well!' cried Tom, 'I am glad to hear it; I am overjoyed to hear it. I am sure there is not, when you say so in that manner.