"I haven't done nothing under-handed," says you. "I haven't been skulking about the premises, here I am, for-give me, I ask your pardon, God Bless You!"'
Martin smiled, but felt that it was good advice notwithstanding, and resolved to act upon it. When they had ascertained from Mrs Lupin that Pecksniff had already returned from the great ceremonial at which they had beheld him in his glory; and when they had fully arranged the order of their proceedings; they went to bed, intent upon the morrow.
In pursuance of their project as agreed upon at this discussion, Mr Tapley issued forth next morning, after breakfast, charged with a letter from Martin to his grandfather, requesting leave to wait upon him for a few minutes. And postponing as he went along the congratulations of his numerous friends until a more convenient season, he soon arrived at Mr Pecksniff's house. At that gentleman's door; with a face so immovable that it would have been next to an impossibility for the most acute physiognomist to determine what he was thinking about, or whether he was thinking at all; he straightway knocked.
A person of Mr Tapley's observation could not long remain insensible to the fact that Mr Pecksniff was making the end of his nose very blunt against the glass of the parlour window, in an angular attempt to discover who had knocked at the door. Nor was Mr Tapley slow to baffle this movement on the part of the enemy, by perching himself on the top step, and presenting the crown of his hat in that direction. But possibly Mr Pecksniff had already seen him, for Mark soon heard his shoes creaking, as he advanced to open the door with his own hands.
Mr Pecksniff was as cheerful as ever, and sang a little song in the passage.
'How d'ye do, sir?' said Mark.
'Oh!' cried Mr Pecksniff. 'Tapley, I believe? The Prodigal returned! We don't want any beer, my friend.'
'Thankee, sir,' said Mark. 'I couldn't accommodate you if you did. A letter, sir. Wait for an answer.'
'For me?' cried Mr Pecksniff. 'And an answer, eh?'
'Not for you, I think, sir,' said Mark, pointing out the direction. 'Chuzzlewit, I believe the name is, sir.'
'Oh!' returned Mr Pecksniff. 'Thank you. Yes. Who's it from, my good young man?'
'The gentleman it comes from wrote his name inside, sir,' returned Mr Tapley with extreme politeness. 'I see him a-signing of it at the end, while I was a-waitin'.'
'And he said he wanted an answer, did he?' asked Mr Pecksniff in his most persuasive manner.
Mark replied in the affirmative.
'He shall have an answer. Certainly,' said Mr Pecksniff, tearing the letter into small pieces, as mildly as if that were the most flattering attention a correspondent could receive. 'Have the goodness to give him that, with my compliments, if you please. Good morning!' Whereupon he handed Mark the scraps; retired, and shut the door.
Mark thought it prudent to subdue his personal emotions, and return to Martin at the Dragon. They were not unprepared for such a reception, and suffered an hour or so to elapse before making another attempt. When this interval had gone by, they returned to Mr Pecksniff's house in company. Martin knocked this time, while Mr Tapley prepared himself to keep the door open with his foot and shoulder, when anybody came, and by that means secure an enforced parley. But this precaution was needless, for the servant-girl appeared almost immediately. Brushing quickly past her as he had resolved in such a case to do, Martin (closely followed by his faithful ally) opened the door of that parlour in which he knew a visitor was most likely to be found; passed at once into the room; and stood, without a word of notice or announcement, in the presence of his grandfather.
Mr Pecksniff also was in the room; and Mary. In the swift instant of their mutual recognition, Martin saw the old man droop his grey head, and hide his face in his hands.
It smote him to the heart. In his most selfish and most careless day, this lingering remnant of the old man's ancient love, this buttress of a ruined tower he had built up in the time gone by, with so much pride and hope, would have caused a pang in Martin's heart. But now, changed for the better in his worst respect; looking through an altered medium on his former friend, the guardian of his childhood, so broken and bowed down; resentment, sullenness, self-confidence, and pride, were all swept away, before the starting tears upon the withered cheeks.