I have been at a many places in my time, gentlemen, and I hope I knows what my duties is, and how the same should be performed; in course, if I did not, it would be very strange, and very wrong in sich a gentleman as Mr Mould, which has undertook the highest families in this land, and given every satisfaction, so to recommend me as he does. I have seen a deal of trouble my own self,' said Mrs Gamp, laying greater and greater stress upon her words, 'and I can feel for them as has their feelings tried, but I am not a Rooshan or a Prooshan, and consequently cannot suffer Spies to be set over me.'
Before it was possible that an answer could be returned, Mrs Gamp, growing redder in the face, went on to say:
'It is not a easy matter, gentlemen, to live when you are left a widder woman; particular when your feelings works upon you to that extent that you often find yourself a-going out on terms which is a certain loss, and never can repay. But in whatever way you earns your bread, you may have rules and regulations of your own which cannot be broke through. Some people,' said Mrs Gamp, again entrenching herself behind her strong point, as if it were not assailable by human ingenuity, 'may be Rooshans, and others may be Prooshans; they are born so, and will please themselves. Them which is of other naturs thinks different.'
'If I understand this good lady,' said Mr Pecksniff, turning to Jonas, 'Mr Chuffey is troublesome to her. Shall I fetch him down?'
'Do,' said Jonas. 'I was going to tell you he was up there, when she came in. I'd go myself and bring him down, only--only I'd rather you went, if you don't mind.'
Mr Pecksniff promptly departed, followed by Mrs Gamp, who, seeing that he took a bottle and glass from the cupboard, and carried it in his hand, was much softened.
'I am sure,' she said, 'that if it wasn't for his own happiness, I should no more mind him being there, poor dear, than if he was a fly. But them as isn't used to these things, thinks so much of 'em afterwards, that it's a kindness to 'em not to let 'em have their wish. And even,' said Mrs Gamp, probably in reference to some flowers of speech she had already strewn on Mr Chuffey, 'even if one calls 'em names, it's only done to rouse 'em.'
Whatever epithets she had bestowed on the old clerk, they had not roused HIM. He sat beside the bed, in the chair he had occupied all the previous night, with his hands folded before him, and his head bowed down; and neither looked up, on their entrance, nor gave any sign of consciousness, until Mr Pecksniff took him by the arm, when he meekly rose.
'Three score and ten,' said Chuffey, 'ought and carry seven. Some men are so strong that they live to four score--four times ought's an ought, four times two's an eight--eighty. Oh! why--why--why didn't he live to four times ought's an ought, and four times two's an eight, eighty?'
'Ah! what a wale of grief!' cried Mrs Gamp, possessing herself of the bottle and glass.
'Why did he die before his poor old crazy servant?' said Chuffey, clasping his hands and looking up in anguish. 'Take him from me, and what remains?'
'Mr Jonas,' returned Pecksniff, 'Mr Jonas, my good friend.'
'I loved him,' cried the old man, weeping. 'He was good to me. We learnt Tare and Tret together at school. I took him down once, six boys in the arithmetic class. God forgive me! Had I the heart to take him down!'
'Come, Mr Chuffey,' said Pecksniff. 'Come with me. Summon up your fortitude, Mr Chuffey.'
'Yes, I will,' returned the old clerk. 'Yes. I'll sum up my forty --How many times forty--Oh, Chuzzlewit and Son--Your own son Mr Chuzzlewit; your own son, sir!'
He yielded to the hand that guided him, as he lapsed into this familiar expression, and submitted to be led away. Mrs Gamp, with the bottle on one knee, and the glass on the other, sat upon a stool, shaking her head for a long time, until, in a moment of abstraction, she poured out a dram of spirits, and raised it to her lips. It was succeeded by a second, and by a third, and then her eyes--either in the sadness of her reflections upon life and death, or in her admiration of the liquor--were so turned up, as to be quite invisible.