'She was so glad to see me,' said Tom, 'that I am sure she will be glad to see you. Your sympathy is certain to be much more delicate and acceptable than mine.'
'I am very far from being certain of that, Tom,' she replied; 'and indeed you do yourself an injustice. Indeed you do. But I hope she may like me, Tom.'
'Oh, she is sure to do that!' cried Tom, confidently.
'What a number of friends I should have, if everybody was of your way of thinking. Shouldn't I, Tom, dear?' said his little sister pinching him upon the cheek.
Tom laughed, and said that with reference to this particular case he had no doubt at all of finding a disciple in Merry. 'For you women,' said Tom, 'you women, my dear, are so kind, and in your kindness have such nice perception; you know so well how to be affectionate and full of solicitude without appearing to be; your gentleness of feeling is like your touch so light and easy, that the one enables you to deal with wounds of the mind as tenderly as the other enables you to deal with wounds of the body. You are such--'
'My goodness, Tom!' his sister interposed. 'You ought to fall in love immediately.'
Tom put this observation off good humouredly, but somewhat gravely too; and they were soon very chatty again on some other subject.
As they were passing through a street in the City, not very far from Mrs Todgers's place of residence, Ruth checked Tom before the window of a large Upholstery and Furniture Warehouse, to call his attention to something very magnificent and ingenious, displayed there to the best advantage, for the admiration and temptation of the public. Tom had hazarded some most erroneous and extravagantly wrong guess in relation to the price of this article, and had joined his sister in laughing heartily at his mistake, when he pressed her arm in his, and pointed to two persons at a little distance, who were looking in at the same window with a deep interest in the chests of drawers and tables.
'Hush!' Tom whispered. 'Miss Pecksniff, and the young gentleman to whom she is going to be married.'
'Why does he look as if he was going to be buried, Tom?' inquired his little sister.
'Why, he is naturally a dismal young gentleman, I believe,' said Tom 'but he is very civil and inoffensive.'
'I suppose they are furnishing their house,' whispered Ruth.
'Yes, I suppose they are,' replied Tom. 'We had better avoid speaking to them.'
They could not very well avoid looking at them, however, especially as some obstruction on the pavement, at a little distance, happened to detain them where they were for a few moments. Miss Pecksniff had quite the air of having taken the unhappy Moddle captive, and brought him up to the contemplation of the furniture like a lamb to the altar. He offered no resistance, but was perfectly resigned and quiet. The melancholy depicted in the turn of his languishing head, and in his dejected attitude, was extreme; and though there was a full-sized four-post bedstead in the window, such a tear stood trembling in his eye as seemed to blot it out.
'Augustus, my love,' said Miss Pecksniff, 'ask the price of the eight rosewood chairs, and the loo table.'
'Perhaps they are ordered already,' said Augustus. 'Perhaps they are Another's.'
'They can make more like them, if they are,' rejoined Miss Pecksniff.
'No, no, they can't,' said Moddle. 'It's impossible!'
He appeared, for the moment, to be quite overwhelmed and stupefied by the prospect of his approaching happiness; but recovering, entered the shop. He returned immediately, saying in a tone of despair
'Twenty-four pound ten!'
Miss Pecksniff, turning to receive this announcement, became conscious of the observation of Tom Pinch and his sister.
'Oh, really!' cried Miss Pecksniff, glancing about her, as if for some convenient means of sinking into the earth. 'Upon my word, I-- there never was such a--to think that one should be so very--Mr Augustus Moddle, Miss Pinch!'
Miss Pecksniff was quite gracious to Miss Pinch in this triumphant introduction; exceedingly gracious.