Charles Dickens

Will you come?'

'I will,' said Montague, 'if that's your opinion.' And they shook hands upon it.

The boisterous manner which Jonas had exhibited during the latter part of this conversation, and which had gone on rapidly increasing with almost every word he had spoken, from the time when he looked his honourable friend in the face until now, did not now subside, but, remaining at its height, abided by him. Most unusual with him at any period; most inconsistent with his temper and constitution; especially unnatural it would appear in one so darkly circumstanced; it abided by him. It was not like the effect of wine, or any ardent drink, for he was perfectly coherent. It even made him proof against the usual influence of such means of excitement; for, although he drank deeply several times that day, with no reserve or caution, he remained exactly the same man, and his spirits neither rose nor fell in the least observable degree.

Deciding, after some discussion, to travel at night, in order that the day's business might not be broken in upon, they took counsel together in reference to the means. Mr Montague being of opinion that four horses were advisable, at all events for the first stage, as throwing a great deal of dust into people's eyes, in more senses than one, a travelling chariot and four lay under orders for nine o'clock. Jonas did not go home; observing, that his being obliged to leave town on business in so great a hurry, would be a good excuse for having turned back so unexpectedly in the morning. So he wrote a note for his portmanteau, and sent it by a messenger, who duly brought his luggage back, with a short note from that other piece of luggage, his wife, expressive of her wish to be allowed to come and see him for a moment. To this request he sent for answer, 'she had better;' and one such threatening affirmative being sufficient, in defiance of the English grammar, to express a negative, she kept away.

Mr Montague being much engaged in the course of the day, Jonas bestowed his spirits chiefly on the doctor, with whom he lunched in the medical officer's own room. On his way thither, encountering Mr Nadgett in the outer room, he bantered that stealthy gentleman on always appearing anxious to avoid him, and inquired if he were afraid of him. Mr Nadgett slyly answered, 'No, but he believed it must be his way as he had been charged with much the same kind of thing before.'

Mr Montague was listening to, or, to speak with greater elegance, he overheard, this dialogue. As soon as Jonas was gone he beckoned Nadgett to him with the feather of his pen, and whispered in his ear.

'Who gave him my letter this morning?'

'My lodger, sir,' said Nadgett, behind the palm of his hand.

'How came that about?'

'I found him on the wharf, sir. Being so much hurried, and you not arrived, it was necessary to do something. It fortunately occurred to me, that if I gave it him myself I could be of no further use. I should have been blown upon immediately.'

'Mr Nadgett, you are a jewel,' said Montague, patting him on the back. 'What's your lodger's name?'

'Pinch, sir. Thomas Pinch.'

Montague reflected for a little while, and then asked:

'From the country, do you know?'

'From Wiltshire, sir, he told me.'

They parted without another word. To see Mr Nadgett's bow when Montague and he next met, and to see Mr Montague acknowledge it, anybody might have undertaken to swear that they had never spoken to each other confidentially in all their lives.

In the meanwhile, Mr Jonas and the doctor made themselves very comfortable upstairs, over a bottle of the old Madeira and some sandwiches; for the doctor having been already invited to dine below at six o'clock, preferred a light repast for lunch. It was advisable, he said, in two points of view: First, as being healthy in itself. Secondly as being the better preparation for dinner.

'And you are bound for all our sakes to take particular care of your digestion, Mr Chuzzlewit, my dear sir,' said the doctor smacking his lips after a glass of wine; 'for depend upon it, it is worth preserving.