Then don't be an obstinate old humbug in the outset, Tom, or I shall shut up shop and dispense none of that invaluable commodity. You are on a visit to me. I wish I had an organ for you, Tom!'
'So do the gentlemen downstairs, and the gentlemen overhead I have no doubt,' was Tom's reply.
'Let me see. In the first place, you will wish to see your sister this morning,' pursued his friend, 'and of course you will like to go there alone. I'll walk part of the way with you; and see about a little business of my own, and meet you here again in the afternoon. Put that in your pocket, Tom. It's only the key of the door. If you come home first you'll want it.'
'Really,' said Tom, 'quartering one's self upon a friend in this way--'
'Why, there are two keys,' interposed John Westlock. 'I can't open the door with them both at once, can I? What a ridiculous fellow you are, Tom? Nothing particular you'd like for dinner, is there?'
'Oh dear no,' said Tom.
'Very well, then you may as well leave it to me. Have a glass of cherry brandy, Tom?'
'Not a drop! What remarkable chambers these are!' said Pinch 'there's everything in 'em!'
'Bless your soul, Tom, nothing but a few little bachelor contrivances! the sort of impromptu arrangements that might have suggested themselves to Philip Quarll or Robinson Crusoe, that's all. What do you say? Shall we walk?'
'By all means,' cried Tom. 'As soon as you like.'
Accordingly John Westlock took the French rolls out of his boots, and put his boots on, and dressed himself; giving Tom the paper to read in the meanwhile. When he returned, equipped for walking, he found Tom in a brown study, with the paper in his hand.
'No,' said Mr Pinch, 'No. I have been looking over the advertising sheet, thinking there might be something in it which would be likely to suit me. But, as I often think, the strange thing seems to be that nobody is suited. Here are all kinds of employers wanting all sorts of servants, and all sorts of servants wanting all kinds of employers, and they never seem to come together. Here is a gentleman in a public office in a position of temporary difficulty, who wants to borrow five hundred pounds; and in the very next advertisement here is another gentleman who has got exactly that sum to lend. But he'll never lend it to him, John, you'll find! Here is a lady possessing a moderate independence, who wants to board and lodge with a quiet, cheerful family; and here is a family describing themselves in those very words, "a quiet, cheerful family," who want exactly such a lady to come and live with them. But she'll never go, John! Neither do any of these single gentlemen who want an airy bedroom, with the occasional use of a parlour, ever appear to come to terms with these other people who live in a rural situation remarkable for its bracing atmosphere, within five minutes' walk of the Royal Exchange. Even those letters of the alphabet who are always running away from their friends and being entreated at the tops of columns to come back, never DO come back, if we may judge from the number of times they are asked to do it and don't. It really seems,' said Tom, relinquishing the paper with a thoughtful sigh, 'as if people had the same gratification in printing their complaints as in making them known by word of mouth; as if they found it a comfort and consolation to proclaim "I want such and such a thing, and I can't get it, and I don't expect I ever shall!"'
John Westlock laughed at the idea, and they went out together. So many years had passed since Tom was last in London, and he had known so little of it then, that his interest in all he saw was very great. He was particularly anxious, among other notorious localities, to have those streets pointed out to him which were appropriated to the slaughter of countrymen; and was quite disappointed to find, after half-an-hour's walking, that he hadn't had his pocket picked. But on John Westlock's inventing a pickpocket for his gratification, and pointing out a highly respectable stranger as one of that fraternity, he was much delighted.