Yoho! A match against the Moon!
The beauty of the night is hardly felt, when Day comes rushing up. Yoho! Two stages, and the country roads are almost changed to a continuous street. Yoho, past market-gardens, rows of houses, villas, crescents, terraces, and squares; past waggons, coaches, carts; past early workmen, late stragglers, drunken men, and sober carriers of loads; past brick and mortar in its every shape; and in among the rattling pavements, where a jaunty-seat upon a coach is not so easy to preserve! Yoho, down countless turnings, and through countless mazy ways, until an old Innyard is gained, and Tom Pinch, getting down quite stunned and giddy, is in London!
'Five minutes before the time, too!' said the driver, as he received his fee of Tom.
'Upon my word,' said Tom, 'I should not have minded very much, if we had been five hours after it; for at this early hour I don't know where to go, or what to do with myself.'
'Don't they expect you then?' inquired the driver.
'Who?' said Tom.
'Why them,' returned the driver.
His mind was so clearly running on the assumption of Tom's having come to town to see an extensive circle of anxious relations and friends, that it would have been pretty hard work to undeceive him. Tom did not try. He cheerfully evaded the subject, and going into the Inn, fell fast asleep before a fire in one of the public rooms opening from the yard. When he awoke, the people in the house were all astir, so he washed and dressed himself; to his great refreshment after the journey; and, it being by that time eight o'clock, went forth at once to see his old friend John.
John Westlock lived in Furnival's Inn, High Holborn, which was within a quarter of an hour's walk of Tom's starting-point, but seemed a long way off, by reason of his going two or three miles out of the straight road to make a short cut. When at last he arrived outside John's door, two stories up, he stood faltering with his hand upon the knocker, and trembled from head to foot. For he was rendered very nervous by the thought of having to relate what had fallen out between himself and Pecksniff; and he had a misgiving that John would exult fearfully in the disclosure.
'But it must be made,' thought Tom, 'sooner or later; and I had better get it over.'
'I am afraid that's not a London knock,' thought Tom. 'It didn't sound bold. Perhaps that's the reason why nobody answers the door.'
It is quite certain that nobody came, and that Tom stood looking at the knocker; wondering whereabouts in the neighbourhood a certain gentleman resided, who was roaring out to somebody 'Come in!' with all his might.
'Bless my soul!' thought Tom at last. 'Perhaps he lives here, and is calling to me. I never thought of that. Can I open the door from the outside, I wonder. Yes, to be sure I can.'
To be sure he could, by turning the handle; and to be sure when he did turn it the same voice came rushing out, crying 'Why don't you come in? Come in, do you hear? What are you standing there for?'-- quite violently.
Tom stepped from the little passage into the room from which these sounds proceeded, and had barely caught a glimpse of a gentleman in a dressing-gown and slippers (with his boots beside him ready to put on), sitting at his breakfast with a newspaper in his hand, when the said gentleman, at the imminent hazard of oversetting his tea-table, made a plunge at Tom, and hugged him.
'Why, Tom, my boy!' cried the gentleman. 'Tom!'
'How glad I am to see you, Mr Westlock!' said Tom Pinch, shaking both his hands, and trembling more than ever. 'How kind you are!'
'Mr Westlock!' repeated John, 'what do you mean by that, Pinch? You have not forgotten my Christian name, I suppose?'
'No, John, no. I have not forgotten,' said Thomas Pinch. 'Good gracious me, how kind you are!'
'I never saw such a fellow in all my life!' cried John. 'What do you mean by saying THAT over and over again? What did you expect me to be, I wonder! Here, sit down, Tom, and be a reasonable creature. How are you, my boy? I am delighted to see you!'
'And I am delighted to see YOU,' said Tom.