He fell into conversation with no gentleman who took him into a public- house, where there happened to be another gentleman who swore he had more money than any gentleman, and very soon proved he had more money than one gentleman by taking his away from him; neither did he fall into any other of the numerous man-traps which are set up without notice, in the public grounds of this city. But he lost his way. He very soon did that; and in trying to find it again he lost it more and more.
Now, Tom, in his guileless distrust of London, thought himself very knowing in coming to the determination that he would not ask to be directed to Furnival's Inn, if he could help it; unless, indeed, he should happen to find himself near the Mint, or the Bank of England; in which case he would step in, and ask a civil question or two, confiding in the perfect respectability of the concern. So on he went, looking up all the streets he came near, and going up half of them; and thus, by dint of not being true to Goswell Street, and filing off into Aldermanbury, and bewildering himself in Barbican, and being constant to the wrong point of the compass in London Wall, and then getting himself crosswise into Thames Street, by an instinct that would have been marvellous if he had had the least desire or reason to go there, he found himself, at last, hard by the Monument.
The Man in the Monument was quite as mysterious a being to Tom as the Man in the Moon. It immediately occurred to him that the lonely creature who held himself aloof from all mankind in that pillar like some old hermit was the very man of whom to ask his way. Cold, he might be; little sympathy he had, perhaps, with human passion--the column seemed too tall for that; but if Truth didn't live in the base of the Monument, notwithstanding Pope's couplet about the outside of it, where in London (thought Tom) was she likely to be found!
Coming close below the pillar, it was a great encouragement to Tom to find that the Man in the Monument had simple tastes; that stony and artificial as his residence was, he still preserved some rustic recollections; that he liked plants, hung up bird-cages, was not wholly cut off from fresh groundsel, and kept young trees in tubs. The Man in the Monument, himself, was sitting outside the door--his own door: the Monument-door: what a grand idea!--and was actually yawning, as if there were no Monument to stop his mouth, and give him a perpetual interest in his own existence.
Tom was advancing towards this remarkable creature, to inquire the way to Furnival's Inn, when two people came to see the Monument. They were a gentleman and a lady; and the gentleman said, 'How much a-piece?'
The Man in the Monument replied, 'A Tanner.'
It seemed a low expression, compared with the Monument.
The gentleman put a shilling into his hand, and the Man in the Monument opened a dark little door. When the gentleman and lady had passed out of view, he shut it again, and came slowly back to his chair.
He sat down and laughed.
'They don't know what a many steps there is!' he said. 'It's worth twice the money to stop here. Oh, my eye!'
The Man in the Monument was a Cynic; a worldly man! Tom couldn't ask his way of HIM. He was prepared to put no confidence in anything he said.
'My gracious!' cried a well-known voice behind Mr Pinch. 'Why, to be sure it is!'
At the same time he was poked in the back by a parasol. Turning round to inquire into this salute, he beheld the eldest daughter of his late patron.
'Miss Pecksniff!' said Tom.
'Why, my goodness, Mr Pinch!' cried Cherry. 'What are you doing here?'
'I have rather wandered from my way,' said Tom. 'I--'
'I hope you have run away,' said Charity. 'It would be quite spirited and proper if you had, when my Papa so far forgets himself.'
'I have left him,' returned Tom. 'But it was perfectly understood on both sides. It was not done clandestinely.'
'Is he married?' asked Cherry, with a spasmodic shake of her chin.
'No, not yet,' said Tom, colouring; 'to tell you the truth, I don't think he is likely to be, if--if Miss Graham is the object of his passion.'
'Tcha, Mr Pinch!' cried Charity, with sharp impatience, 'you're very easily deceived.