I may feel in my own breast, that Mr Chuzzlewit does not regard--me, for instance; say me--with exactly that amount of Christian love which should subsist between us. I may feel grieved and hurt at the circumstance; still I may not rush to the conclusion that Mr Chuzzlewit is wholly without a justification in all his coldnesses. Heaven forbid! Besides; how, Mr Tigg,' continued Pecksniff even more gravely and impressively than he had spoken yet, 'how could Mr Chuzzlewit be prevented from having these peculiar and most extraordinary confidences of which you speak; the existence of which I must admit; and which I cannot but deplore--for his sake? Consider, my good sir--' and here Mr Pecksniff eyed him wistfully-- 'how very much at random you are talking.'
'Why, as to that,' rejoined Tigg, 'it certainly is a difficult question.'
'Undoubtedly it is a difficult question,' Mr Pecksniff answered. As he spoke he drew himself aloft, and seemed to grow more mindful, suddenly, of the moral gulf between himself and the creature he addressed. 'Undoubtedly it is a very difficult question. And I am far from feeling sure that it is a question any one is authorized to discuss. Good evening to you.'
'You don't know that the Spottletoes are here, I suppose?' said Mr Tigg.
'What do you mean, sir? what Spottletoes?' asked Pecksniff, stopping abruptly on his way to the door.
'Mr and Mrs Spottletoe,' said Chevy Slyme, Esquire, speaking aloud for the first time, and speaking very sulkily; shambling with his legs the while. 'Spottletoe married my father's brother's child, didn't he? And Mrs Spottletoe is Chuzzlewit's own niece, isn't she? She was his favourite once. You may well ask what Spottletoes.'
'Now upon my sacred word!' cried Mr Pecksniff, looking upwards. 'This is dreadful. The rapacity of these people is absolutely frightful!'
'It's not only the Spottletoes either, Tigg,' said Slyme, looking at that gentleman and speaking at Mr Pecksniff. 'Anthony Chuzzlewit and his son have got wind of it, and have come down this afternoon. I saw 'em not five minutes ago, when I was waiting round the corner.'
'Oh, Mammon, Mammon!' cried Mr Pecksniff, smiting his forehead.
'So there,' said Slyme, regardless of the interruption, 'are his brother and another nephew for you, already.'
'This is the whole thing, sir,' said Mr Tigg; 'this is the point and purpose at which I was gradually arriving when my friend Slyme here, with six words, hit it full. Mr Pecksniff, now that your cousin (and Chiv's uncle) has turned up, some steps must be taken to prevent his disappearing again; and, if possible, to counteract the influence which is exercised over him now, by this designing favourite. Everybody who is interested feels it, sir. The whole family is pouring down to this place. The time has come when individual jealousies and interests must be forgotten for a time, sir, and union must be made against the common enemy. When the common enemy is routed, you will all set up for yourselves again; every lady and gentleman who has a part in the game, will go in on their own account and bowl away, to the best of their ability, at the testator's wicket, and nobody will be in a worse position than before. Think of it. Don't commit yourself now. You'll find us at the Half Moon and Seven Stars in this village, at any time, and open to any reasonable proposition. Hem! Chiv, my dear fellow, go out and see what sort of a night it is.'
Mr Slyme lost no time in disappearing, and it is to be presumed in going round the corner. Mr Tigg, planting his legs as wide apart as he could be reasonably expected by the most sanguine man to keep them, shook his head at Mr Pecksniff and smiled.
'We must not be too hard,' he said, 'upon the little eccentricities of our friend Slyme. You saw him whisper me?'
Mr Pecksniff had seen him.
'You heard my answer, I think?'
Mr Pecksniff had heard it.
'Five shillings, eh?' said Mr Tigg, thoughtfully. 'Ah! what an extraordinary fellow! Very moderate too!'
Mr Pecksniff made no answer.