Anthony's. This ancient female had been engaged, in fulfillment of a vow, registered by Mrs Todgers, that no more boys should darken the commercial doors; and she was chiefly remarkable for a total absence of all comprehension upon every subject whatever. She was a perfect Tomb for messages and small parcels; and when dispatched to the Post Office with letters, had been frequently seen endeavouring to insinuate them into casual chinks in private doors, under the delusion that any door with a hole in it would answer the purpose. She was a very little old woman, and always wore a very coarse apron with a bib before and a loop behind, together with bandages on her wrists, which appeared to be afflicted with an everlasting sprain. She was on all occasions chary of opening the street door, and ardent to shut it again; and she waited at table in a bonnet.
This was the only great change over and above the change which had fallen on the youngest gentleman. As for him, he more than corroborated the account of Mrs Todgers; possessing greater sensibility than even she had given him credit for. He entertained some terrible notions of Destiny, among other matters, and talked much about people's 'Missions'; upon which he seemed to have some private information not generally attainable, as he knew it had been poor Merry's mission to crush him in the bud. He was very frail and tearful; for being aware that a shepherd's mission was to pipe to his flocks, and that a boatswain's mission was to pipe all hands, and that one man's mission was to be a paid piper, and another man's mission was to pay the piper, so he had got it into his head that his own peculiar mission was to pipe his eye. Which he did perpetually.
He often informed Mrs Todgers that the sun had set upon him; that the billows had rolled over him; that the car of Juggernaut had crushed him, and also that the deadly Upas tree of Java had blighted him. His name was Moddle.
Towards this most unhappy Moddle, Miss Pecksniff conducted herself at first with distant haughtiness, being in no humour to be entertained with dirges in honour of her married sister. The poor young gentleman was additionally crushed by this, and remonstrated with Mrs Todgers on the subject.
'Even she turns from me, Mrs Todgers,' said Moddle.
'Then why don't you try and be a little bit more cheerful, sir?' retorted Mrs Todgers.
'Cheerful, Mrs Todgers! cheerful!' cried the youngest gentleman; 'when she reminds me of days for ever fled, Mrs Todgers!'
'Then you had better avoid her for a short time, if she does,' said Mrs Todgers, 'and come to know her again, by degrees. That's my advice.'
'But I can't avoid her,' replied Moddle, 'I haven't strength of mind to do it. Oh, Mrs Todgers, if you knew what a comfort her nose is to me!'
'Her nose, sir!' Mrs Todgers cried.
'Her profile, in general,' said the youngest gentleman, 'but particularly her nose. It's so like;' here he yielded to a burst of grief. 'it's so like hers who is Another's, Mrs Todgers!'
The observant matron did not fail to report this conversation to Charity, who laughed at the time, but treated Mr Moddle that very evening with increased consideration, and presented her side face to him as much as possible. Mr Moddle was not less sentimental than usual; was rather more so, if anything; but he sat and stared at her with glistening eyes, and seemed grateful.
'Well, sir!' said the lady of the Boarding-House next day. 'You held up your head last night. You're coming round, I think.'
'Only because she's so like her who is Another's, Mrs Todgers,' rejoined the youth. 'When she talks, and when she smiles, I think I'm looking on HER brow again, Mrs Todgers.'
This was likewise carried to Charity, who talked and smiled next evening in her most engaging manner, and rallying Mr Moddle on the lowness of his spirits, challenged him to play a rubber at cribbage. Mr Moddle taking up the gauntlet, they played several rubbers for sixpences, and Charity won them all.