'Drag him away! Take him out of my reach!' said Martin; 'or I can't help it. The strong restraint I have put upon my hands has been enough to palsy them. I am not master of myself while he is within their range. Drag him away!'
Seeing that he still did not rise, Mr Tapley, without any compromise about it, actually did drag him away, and stick him up on the floor, with his back against the opposite wall.
'Hear me, rascal!' said Mr Chuzzlewit. 'I have summoned you here to witness your own work. I have summoned you here to witness it, because I know it will be gall and wormwood to you! I have summoned you here to witness it, because I know the sight of everybody here must be a dagger in your mean, false heart! What! do you know me as I am, at last!'
Mr Pecksniff had cause to stare at him, for the triumph in his face and speech and figure was a sight to stare at.
'Look there!' said the old man, pointing at him, and appealing to the rest. 'Look there! And then--come hither, my dear Martin--look here! here! here!' At every repetition of the word he pressed his grandson closer to his breast.
'The passion I felt, Martin, when I dared not do this,' he said, 'was in the blow I struck just now. Why did we ever part! How could we ever part! How could you ever fly from me to him!'
Martin was about to answer, but he stopped him, and went on.
'The fault was mine no less than yours. Mark has told me so today, and I have known it long; though not so long as I might have done. Mary, my love, come here.'
As she trembled and was very pale, he sat her in his own chair, and stood beside it with her hand in his; and Martin standing by him.
'The curse of our house,' said the old man, looking kindly down upon her, 'has been the love of self; has ever been the love of self. How often have I said so, when I never knew that I had wrought it upon others.'
He drew one hand through Martin's arm, and standing so, between them, proceeded thus:
'You all know how I bred this orphan up, to tend me. None of you can know by what degrees I have come to regard her as a daughter; for she has won upon me, by her self-forgetfulness, her tenderness, her patience, all the goodness of her nature, when Heaven is her witness that I took but little pains to draw it forth. It blossomed without cultivation, and it ripened without heat. I cannot find it in my heart to say that I am sorry for it now, or yonder fellow might be holding up his head.'
Mr Pecksniff put his hand into his waistcoat, and slightly shook that part of him to which allusion had been made; as if to signify that it was still uppermost.
'There is a kind of selfishness,' said Martin--'I have learned it in my own experience of my own breast--which is constantly upon the watch for selfishness in others; and holding others at a distance, by suspicions and distrusts, wonders why they don't approach, and don't confide, and calls that selfishness in them. Thus I once doubted those about me--not without reason in the beginning--and thus I once doubted you, Martin.'
'Not without reason,' Martin answered, 'either.'
'Listen, hypocrite! Listen, smooth-tongued, servile, crawling knave!' said Martin. 'Listen, you shallow dog. What! When I was seeking him, you had already spread your nets; you were already fishing for him, were ye? When I lay ill in this good woman's house and your meek spirit pleaded for my grandson, you had already caught him, had ye? Counting on the restoration of the love you knew I bore him, you designed him for one of your two daughters did ye? Or failing that, you traded in him as a speculation which at any rate should blind me with the lustre of your charity, and found a claim upon me! Why, even then I knew you, and I told you so. Did I tell you that I knew you, even then?'
'I am not angry, sir,' said Mr Pecksniff, softly. 'I can bear a great deal from you. I will never contradict you, Mr Chuzzlewit.'
'Observe!' said Martin, looking round. 'I put myself in that man's hands on terms as mean and base, and as degrading to himself, as I could render them in words.