Charles Dickens

You have come to stay with me, Jonas?'

'No. I've got a friend with me,' said Jonas.

'Bring your friend!' cried Mr Pecksniff, in a gush of hospitality. 'Bring any number of your friends!'

'This ain't the sort of man to be brought,' said Jonas, contemptuously. 'I think I see myself "bringing" him to your house, for a treat! Thank'ee all the same; but he's a little too near the top of the tree for that, Pecksniff.'

The good man pricked up his ears; his interest was awakened. A position near the top of the tree was greatness, virtue, goodness, sense, genius; or, it should rather be said, a dispensation from all, and in itself something immeasurably better than all; with Mr Pecksniff. A man who was able to look down upon Mr Pecksniff could not be looked up at, by that gentleman, with too great an amount of deference, or from a position of too much humility. So it always is with great spirits.

'I'll tell you what you may do, if you like,' said Jonas; 'you may come and dine with us at the Dragon. We were forced to come down to Salisbury last night, on some business, and I got him to bring me over here this morning, in his carriage; at least, not his own carriage, for we had a breakdown in the night, but one we hired instead; it's all the same. Mind what you're about, you know. He's not used to all sorts; he only mixes with the best!'

'Some young nobleman who has been borrowing money of you at good interest, eh?' said Mr Pecksniff, shaking his forefinger facetiously. 'I shall be delighted to know the gay sprig.'

'Borrowing!' echoed Jonas. 'Borrowing! When you're a twentieth part as rich as he is, you may shut up shop! We should be pretty well off if we could buy his furniture, and plate, and pictures, by clubbing together. A likely man to borrow: Mr Montague! Why since I was lucky enough (come! and I'll say, sharp enough, too) to get a share in the Assurance office that he's President of, I've made--never mind what I've made,' said Jonas, seeming to recover all at once his usual caution. 'You know me pretty well, and I don't blab about such things. But, Ecod, I've made a trifle.'

'Really, my dear Jonas,' cried Mr Pecksniff, with much warmth, 'a gentleman like this should receive some attention. Would he like to see the church? or if he has a taste for the fine arts--which I have no doubt he has, from the description you give of his circumstances--I can send him down a few portfolios. Salisbury Cathedral, my dear Jonas,' said Mr Pecksniff; the mention of the portfolios and his anxiety to display himself to advantage, suggesting his usual phraseology in that regard, 'is an edifice replete with venerable associations, and strikingly suggestive of the loftiest emotions. It is here we contemplate the work of bygone ages. It is here we listen to the swelling organ, as we stroll through the reverberating aisles. We have drawings of this celebrated structure from the North, from the South, from the East, from the West, from the South-East, from the Nor'West--'

During this digression, and indeed during the whole dialogue, Jonas had been rocking on his chair, with his hands in his pockets and his head thrown cunningly on one side. He looked at Mr Pecksniff now with such shrewd meaning twinkling in his eyes, that Mr Pecksniff stopped, and asked him what he was going to say.

'Ecod!' he answered. 'Pecksniff if I knew how you meant to leave your money, I could put you in the way of doubling it in no time. It wouldn't be bad to keep a chance like this snug in the family. But you're such a deep one!'

'Jonas!' cried Mr Pecksniff, much affected, 'I am not a diplomatical character; my heart is in my hand. By far the greater part of the inconsiderable savings I have accumulated in the course of--I hope--a not dishonourable or useless career, is already given, devised, and bequeathed (correct me, my dear Jonas, if I am technically wrong), with expressions of confidence, which I will not repeat; and in securities which it is unnecessary to mention to a person whom I cannot, whom I will not, whom I need not, name.' Here he gave the hand of his son-in-law a fervent squeeze, as if he would have added, 'God bless you; be very careful of it when you get it!'

Mr Jonas only shook his head and laughed, and, seeming to think better of what he had had in his mind, said, 'No.