As to any thought of revenging himself on young Martin for his insolent expressions when they parted, and of shutting him out still more effectually from any hope of reconciliation with his grandfather, Mr Pecksniff was much too meek and forgiving to be suspected of harbouring it. As to being refused by Mary, Mr Pecksniff was quite satisfied that in her position she could never hold out if he and Mr Chuzzlewit were both against her. As to consulting the wishes of her heart in such a case, it formed no part of Mr Pecksniff's moral code; for he knew what a good man he was, and what a blessing he must be to anybody. His daughter having broken the ice, and the murder being out between them, Mr Pecksniff had now only to pursue his design as cleverly as he could, and by the craftiest approaches.
'Well, my good sir,' said Mr Pecksniff, meeting old Martin in the garden, for it was his habit to walk in and out by that way, as the fancy took him; 'and how is my dear friend this delicious morning?'
'Do you mean me?' asked the old man.
'Ah!' said Mr Pecksniff, 'one of his deaf days, I see. Could I mean any one else, my dear sir?'
'You might have meant Mary,' said the old man.
'Indeed I might. Quite true. I might speak of her as a dear, dear friend, I hope?' observed Mr Pecksniff.
'I hope so,' returned old Martin. 'I think she deserves it.'
'Think!' cried Pecksniff, 'think, Mr Chuzzlewit!'
'You are speaking, I know,' returned Martin, 'but I don't catch what you say. Speak up!'
'He's getting deafer than a flint,' said Pecksniff. 'I was saying, my dear sir, that I am afraid I must make up my mind to part with Cherry.'
'What has SHE been doing?' asked the old man.
'He puts the most ridiculous questions I ever heard!' muttered Mr Pecksniff. 'He's a child to-day.' After which he added, in a mild roar: 'She hasn't been doing anything, my dear friend.'
'What are you going to part with her for?' demanded Martin.
'She hasn't her health by any means,' said Mr Pecksniff. 'She misses her sister, my dear sir; they doted on each other from the cradle. And I think of giving her a run in London for a change. A good long run, sir, if I find she likes it.'
'Quite right,' cried Martin. 'It's judicious.'
'I am glad to hear you say so. I hope you mean to bear me company in this dull part, while she's away?' said Mr Pecksniff.
'I have no intention of removing from it,' was Martin's answer.
'Then why,' said Mr Pecksniff, taking the old man's arm in his, and walking slowly on; 'Why, my good sir, can't you come and stay with me? I am sure I could surround you with more comforts--lowly as is my Cot--than you can obtain at a village house of entertainment. And pardon me, Mr Chuzzlewit, pardon me if I say that such a place as the Dragon, however well-conducted (and, as far as I know, Mrs Lupin is one of the worthiest creatures in this county), is hardly a home for Miss Graham.'
Martin mused a moment; and then said, as he shook him by the hand:
'No. You're quite right; it is not.'
'The very sight of skittles,' Mr Pecksniff eloquently pursued, 'is far from being congenial to a delicate mind.'
'It's an amusement of the vulgar,' said old Martin, 'certainly.'
'Of the very vulgar,' Mr Pecksniff answered. 'Then why not bring Miss Graham here, sir? Here is the house. Here am I alone in it, for Thomas Pinch I do not count as any one. Our lovely friend shall occupy my daughter's chamber; you shall choose your own; we shall not quarrel, I hope!'
'We are not likely to do that,' said Martin.
Mr Pecksniff pressed his hand. 'We understand each other, my dear sir, I see!--I can wind him,' he thought, with exultation, 'round my little finger.'
'You leave the recompense to me?' said the old man, after a minute's silence.
'Oh! do not speak of recompense!' cried Pecksniff.
'I say,' repeated Martin, with a glimmer of his old obstinacy, 'you leave the recompense to me. Do you?'
'Since you desire it, my good sir.'
'I always desire it,' said the old man.