Ha, ha! Do you see the door?'
His base triumph, struggling with his cowardice, and shame, and guilt, was so detestable, that they turned away from him, as if he were some obscene and filthy animal, repugnant to the sight. And here that last black crime was busy with him too; working within him to his perdition. But for that, the old clerk's story might have touched him, though never so lightly; but for that, the sudden removal of so great a load might have brought about some wholesome change even in him. With that deed done, however; with that unnecessary wasteful danger haunting him; despair was in his very triumph and relief; wild, ungovernable, raging despair, for the uselessness of the peril into which he had plunged; despair that hardened him and maddened him, and set his teeth a-grinding in a moment of his exultation.
'My good friend!' said old Martin, laying his hand on Chuffey's sleeve. 'This is no place for you to remain in. Come with me.'
'Just his old way!' cried Chuffey, looking up into his face. 'I almost believe it's Mr Chuzzlewit alive again. Yes! Take me with you! Stay, though, stay.'
'For what?' asked old Martin.
'I can't leave her, poor thing!' said Chuffey. 'She has been very good to me. I can't leave her, Mr Chuzzlewit. Thank you kindly. I'll remain here. I haven't long to remain; it's no great matter.'
As he meekly shook his poor, grey head, and thanked old Martin in these words, Mrs Gamp, now entirely in the room, was affected to tears.
'The mercy as it is!' she said, 'as sech a dear, good, reverend creetur never got into the clutches of Betsey Prig, which but for me he would have done, undoubted; facts bein' stubborn and not easy drove!'
'You heard me speak to you just now, old man,' said Jonas to his uncle. 'I'll have no more tampering with my people, man or woman. Do you see the door?'
'Do YOU see the door?' returned the voice of Mark, coming from that direction. 'Look at it!'
He looked, and his gaze was nailed there. Fatal, ill-omened blighted threshold, cursed by his father's footsteps in his dying hour, cursed by his young wife's sorrowing tread, cursed by the daily shadow of the old clerk's figure, cursed by the crossing of his murderer's feet--what men were standing in the door way!
Hark! It came on, roaring like a sea! Hawkers burst into the street, crying it up and down; windows were thrown open that the inhabitants might hear it; people stopped to listen in the road and on the pavement; the bells, the same bells, began to ring; tumbling over one another in a dance of boisterous joy at the discovery (that was the sound they had in his distempered thoughts), and making their airy play-ground rock.
'That is the man,' said Nadgett. 'By the window!'
Three others came in, laid hands upon him, and secured him. It was so quickly done, that he had not lost sight of the informer's face for an instant when his wrists were manacled together.
'Murder,' said Nadgett, looking round on the astonished group. 'Let no one interfere.'
The sounding street repeated Murder; barbarous and dreadful Murder. Murder, Murder, Murder. Rolling on from house to house, and echoing from stone to stone, until the voices died away into the distant hum, which seemed to mutter the same word!
They all stood silent: listening, and gazing in each other's faces, as the noise passed on.
Old Martin was the first to speak. 'What terrible history is this?' he demanded.
'Ask HIM,' said Nadgett. 'You're his friend, sir. He can tell you, if he will. He knows more of it than I do, though I know much.'
'How do you know much?'
'I have not been watching him so long for nothing,' returned Nadgett. 'I never watched a man so close as I have watched him.'
Another of the phantom forms of this terrific Truth! Another of the many shapes in which it started up about him, out of vacancy. This man, of all men in the world, a spy upon him; this man, changing his identity; casting off his shrinking, purblind, unobservant character, and springing up into a watchful enemy! The dead man might have come out of his grave, and not confounded and appalled him more.