'State the real cause, Pa, or I'll state it myself. Mind! I will!'
Perhaps the energy with which she said this was infectious. However that may be, Mr Pecksniff changed his tone and the expression of his face for one of anger, if not downright violence, when he said:
'You will! you have. You did yesterday. You do always. You have no decency; you make no secret of your temper; you have exposed yourself to Mr Chuzzlewit a hundred times.'
'Myself!' cried Cherry, with a bitter smile. 'Oh indeed! I don't mind that.'
'Me, too, then,' said Mr Pecksniff.
His daughter answered with a scornful laugh.
'And since we have come to an explanation, Charity,' said Mr Pecksniff, rolling his head portentously, 'let me tell you that I won't allow it. None of your nonsense, Miss! I won't permit it to be done.'
'I shall do,' said Charity, rocking her chair backwards and forwards, and raising her voice to a high pitch, 'I shall do, Pa, what I please and what I have done. I am not going to be crushed in everything, depend upon it. I've been more shamefully used than anybody ever was in this world,' here she began to cry and sob, 'and may expect the worse treatment from you, I know. But I don't care for that. No, I don't!'
Mr Pecksniff was made so desperate by the loud tone in which she spoke, that, after looking about him in frantic uncertainty for some means of softening it, he rose and shook her until the ornamental bow of hair upon her head nodded like a plume. She was so very much astonished by this assault, that it really had the desired effect.
'I'll do it again!' cried Mr Pecksniff, as he resumed his seat and fetched his breath, 'if you dare to talk in that loud manner. How do you mean about being shamefully used? If Mr Jonas chose your sister in preference to you, who could help it, I should wish to know? What have I to do with it?'
'Wasn't I made a convenience of? Weren't my feelings trifled with? Didn't he address himself to me first?' sobbed Cherry, clasping her hands; 'and oh, good gracious, that I should live to be shook!'
'You'll live to be shaken again,' returned her parent, 'if you drive me to that means of maintaining the decorum of this humble roof. You surprise me. I wonder you have not more spirit. If Mr Jonas didn't care for you, how could you wish to have him?'
'I wish to have him!' exclaimed Cherry. 'I wish to have him, Pa!'
'Then what are you making all this piece of work for,' retorted her father, 'if you didn't wish to have him?'
'Because I was treated with duplicity,' said Cherry; 'and because my own sister and my own father conspired against me. I am not angry with HER,' said Cherry; looking much more angry than ever. 'I pity her. I'm sorry for her. I know the fate that's in store for her, with that Wretch.'
'Mr Jonas will survive your calling him a wretch, my child, I dare say,' said Mr Pecksniff, with returning resignation; 'but call him what you like and make an end of it.'
'Not an end, Pa,' said Charity. 'No, not an end. That's not the only point on which we're not agreed. I won't submit to it. It's better you should know that at once. No; I won't submit to it indeed, Pa! I am not quite a fool, and I am not blind. All I have got to say is, I won't submit to it.'
Whatever she meant, she shook Mr Pecksniff now; for his lame attempt to seem composed was melancholy in the last degree. His anger changed to meekness, and his words were mild and fawning.
'My dear,' he said; 'if in the short excitement of an angry moment I resorted to an unjustifiable means of suppressing a little outbreak calculated to injure you as well as myself--it's possible I may have done so; perhaps I did--I ask your pardon. A father asking pardon of his child,' said Mr Pecksniff, 'is, I believe, a spectacle to soften the most rugged nature.'
But it didn't at all soften Miss Pecksniff; perhaps because her nature was not rugged enough. On the contrary, she persisted in saying, over and over again, that she wasn't quite a fool, and wasn't blind, and wouldn't submit to it.