He also took the liberty of opening another cupboard; but he shut it up again quickly, being rather startled by the sight of a black and a white surplice dangling against the wall; which had very much the appearance of two curates who had committed suicide by hanging themselves. Remembering that he had seen in the first cupboard a port-wine bottle and some biscuits, he peeped into it again, and helped himself with much deliberation; cogitating all the time though, in a very deep and weighty manner, as if his thoughts were otherwise employed.
He soon made up his mind, if it had ever been in doubt; and putting back the bottle and biscuits, opened the casement. He got out into the churchyard without any difficulty; shut the window after him; and walked straight home.
'Is Mr Pinch indoors?' asked Mr Pecksniff of his serving-maid.
'Just come in, sir.'
'Just come in, eh?' repeated Mr Pecksniff, cheerfully. 'And gone upstairs, I suppose?'
'Yes sir. Gone upstairs. Shall I call him, sir?'
'No,' said Mr Pecksniff, 'no. You needn't call him, Jane. Thank you, Jane. How are your relations, Jane?'
'Pretty well, I thank you, sir.'
'I am glad to hear it. Let them know I asked about them, Jane. Is Mr Chuzzlewit in the way, Jane?'
'Yes, sir. He's in the parlour, reading.'
'He's in the parlour, reading, is he, Jane?' said Mr Pecksniff. 'Very well. Then I think I'll go and see him, Jane.'
Never had Mr Pecksniff been beheld in a more pleasant humour!
But when he walked into the parlour where the old man was engaged as Jane had said; with pen and ink and paper on a table close at hand (for Mr Pecksniff was always very particular to have him well supplied with writing materials), he became less cheerful. He was not angry, he was not vindictive, he was not cross, he was not moody, but he was grieved; he was sorely grieved. As he sat down by the old man's side, two tears--not tears like those with which recording angels blot their entries out, but drops so precious that they use them for their ink--stole down his meritorious cheeks.
'What is the matter?' asked old Martin. 'Pecksniff, what ails you, man?'
'I am sorry to interrupt you, my dear sir, and I am still more sorry for the cause. My good, my worthy friend, I am deceived.'
'You are deceived!'
'Ah!' cried Mr Pecksniff, in an agony, 'deceived in the tenderest point. Cruelly deceived in that quarter, sir, in which I placed the most unbounded confidence. Deceived, Mr Chuzzlewit, by Thomas Pinch.'
'Oh! bad, bad, bad!' said Martin, laying down his book. 'Very bad! I hope not. Are you certain?'
'Certain, my good sir! My eyes and ears are witnesses. I wouldn't have believed it otherwise. I wouldn't have believed it, Mr Chuzzlewit, if a Fiery Serpent had proclaimed it from the top of Salisbury Cathedral. I would have said,' cried Mr Pecksniff, 'that the Serpent lied. Such was my faith in Thomas Pinch, that I would have cast the falsehood back into the Serpent's teeth, and would have taken Thomas to my heart. But I am not a Serpent, sir, myself, I grieve to say, and no excuse or hope is left me.'
Martin was greatly disturbed to see him so much agitated, and to hear such unexpected news. He begged him to compose himself, and asked upon what subject Mr Pinch's treachery had been developed.
'That is almost the worst of all, sir,' Mr Pecksniff answered. 'on a subject nearly concerning YOU. Oh! is it not enough,' said Mr Pecksniff, looking upward, 'that these blows must fall on me, but must they also hit my friends!'
'You alarm me,' cried the old man, changing colour. 'I am not so strong as I was. You terrify me, Pecksniff!'
'Cheer up, my noble sir,' said Mr Pecksniff, taking courage, 'and we will do what is required of us. You shall know all, sir, and shall be righted. But first excuse me, sir, excuse me. I have a duty to discharge, which I owe to society.'
He rang the bell, and Jane appeared. 'Send Mr Pinch here, if you please, Jane.'
Tom came. Constrained and altered in his manner, downcast and dejected, visibly confused; not liking to look Pecksniff in the face.