Charles Dickens

He would keep his own counsel.' But as he observed that he would take a walk, Mr Pecksniff insisted on accompanying him, remarking that he could leave a card for Mr Montague, as they went along, by way of gentleman-usher to himself at dinner-time. Which he did.

In the course of their walk, Mr Jonas affected to maintain that close reserve which had operated as a timely check upon him during the foregoing dialogue. And as he made no attempt to conciliate Mr Pecksniff, but, on the contrary, was more boorish and rude to him than usual, that gentleman, so far from suspecting his real design, laid himself out to be attacked with advantage. For it is in the nature of a knave to think the tools with which he works indispensable to knavery; and knowing what he would do himself in such a case, Mr Pecksniff argued, 'if this young man wanted anything of me for his own ends, he would be polite and deferential.'

The more Jonas repelled him in his hints and inquiries, the more solicitous, therefore, Mr Pecksniff became to be initiated into the golden mysteries at which he had obscurely glanced. Why should there be cold and worldly secrets, he observed, between relations? What was life without confidence? If the chosen husband of his daughter, the man to whom he had delivered her with so much pride and hope, such bounding and such beaming joy; if he were not a green spot in the barren waste of life, where was that oasis to be bound?

Little did Mr Pecksniff think on what a very green spot he planted one foot at that moment! Little did he foresee when he said, 'All is but dust!' how very shortly he would come down with his own!

Inch by inch, in his grudging and ill-conditioned way; sustained to the life, for the hope of making Mr Pecksniff suffer in that tender place, the pocket, where Jonas smarted so terribly himself, gave him an additional and malicious interest in the wiles he was set on to practise; inch by inch, and bit by bit, Jonas rather allowed the dazzling prospects of the Anglo-Bengalee establishment to escape him, than paraded them before his greedy listener. And in the same niggardly spirit, he left Mr Pecksniff to infer, if he chose (which he DID choose, of course), that a consciousness of not having any great natural gifts of speech and manner himself, rendered him desirous to have the credit of introducing to Mr Montague some one who was well endowed in those respects, and so atone for his own deficiencies. Otherwise, he muttered discontentedly, he would have seen his beloved father-in-law 'far enough off,' before he would have taken him into his confidence.

Primed in this artful manner, Mr Pecksniff presented himself at dinner-time in such a state of suavity, benevolence, cheerfulness, politeness, and cordiality, as even he had perhaps never attained before. The frankness of the country gentleman, the refinement of the artist, the good-humoured allowance of the man of the world; philanthropy, forbearance, piety, toleration, all blended together in a flexible adaptability to anything and everything; were expressed in Mr Pecksniff, as he shook hands with the great speculator and capitalist.

'Welcome, respected sir,' said Mr Pecksniff, 'to our humble village! We are a simple people; primitive clods, Mr Montague; but we can appreciate the honour of your visit, as my dear son-in-law can testify. It is very strange,' said Mr Pecksniff, pressing his hand almost reverentially, 'but I seem to know you. That towering forehead, my dear Jonas,' said Mr Pecksniff aside, 'and those clustering masses of rich hair--I must have seen you, my dear sir, in the sparkling throng.'

Nothing was more probable, they all agreed.

'I could have wished,' said Mr Pecksniff, 'to have had the honour of introducing you to an elderly inmate of our house: to the uncle of our friend. Mr Chuzzlewit, sir, would have been proud indeed to have taken you by the hand.'

'Is the gentleman here now?' asked Montague, turning deeply red. 'He is,' said Mr Pecksniff.

'You said nothing about that, Chuzzlewit.'

'I didn't suppose you'd care to hear of it,' returned Jonas.