'Then Mark Tapley had not only the great politeness to follow me to this house, but is waiting now, to see me home again. And for that attention, sir,' added Mr Tigg, stroking his moustache, 'I can tell you, that Mark Tapley had better in his infancy have been fed to suffocation by Mrs Tapley, than preserved to this time.'
Mr Pinch was not so dismayed by this terrible threat, but that he had voice enough to call to Mark to come in, and upstairs; a summons which he so speedily obeyed, that almost as soon as Tom and Mr Tigg had drawn in their heads and closed the window again, he, the denounced, appeared before them.
'Come here, Mark!' said Mr Pinch. 'Good gracious me! what's the matter between Mrs Lupin and this gentleman?'
'What gentleman, sir?' said Mark. 'I don't see no gentleman here sir, excepting you and the new gentleman,' to whom he made a rough kind of bow--'and there's nothing wrong between Mrs Lupin and either of you, Mr Pinch, I am sure.'
'Nonsense, Mark!' cried Tom. 'You see Mr--'
'Tigg,' interposed that gentleman. 'Wait a bit. I shall crush him soon. All in good time!'
'Oh HIM!' rejoined Mark, with an air of careless defiance. 'Yes, I see HIM. I could see him a little better, if he'd shave himself, and get his hair cut.'
Mr Tigg shook his head with a ferocious look, and smote himself once upon the breast.
'It's no use,' said Mark. 'If you knock ever so much in that quarter, you'll get no answer. I know better. There's nothing there but padding; and a greasy sort it is.'
'Nay, Mark,' urged Mr Pinch, interposing to prevent hostilities, 'tell me what I ask you. You're not out of temper, I hope?'
'Out of temper, sir!' cried Mark, with a grin; 'why no, sir. There's a little credit--not much--in being jolly, when such fellows as him is a-going about like roaring lions; if there is any breed of lions, at least, as is all roar and mane. What is there between him and Mrs Lupin, sir? Why, there's a score between him and Mrs Lupin. And I think Mrs Lupin lets him and his friend off very easy in not charging 'em double prices for being a disgrace to the Dragon. That's my opinion. I wouldn't have any such Peter the Wild Boy as him in my house, sir, not if I was paid race-week prices for it. He's enough to turn the very beer in the casks sour with his looks; he is! So he would, if it had judgment enough.'
'You're not answering my question, you know, Mark,' observed Mr Pinch.
'Well, sir,' said Mark, 'I don't know as there's much to answer further than that. Him and his friend goes and stops at the Moon and Stars till they've run a bill there; and then comes and stops with us and does the same. The running of bills is common enough Mr Pinch; it an't that as we object to; it's the ways of this chap. Nothing's good enough for him; all the women is dying for him he thinks, and is overpaid if he winks at 'em; and all the men was made to be ordered about by him. This not being aggravation enough, he says this morning to me, in his usual captivating way, "We're going to-night, my man." "Are you, sir?" says I. "Perhaps you'd like the bill got ready, sir?" "Oh no, my man," he says; "you needn't mind that. I'll give Pecksniff orders to see to that." In reply to which, the Dragon makes answer, "Thankee, sir, you're very kind to honour us so far, but as we don't know any particular good of you, and you don't travel with luggage, and Mr Pecksniff an't at home (which perhaps you mayn't happen to be aware of, sir), we should prefer something more satisfactory;" and that's where the matter stands. And I ask,' said Mr Tapley, pointing, in conclusion, to Mr Tigg, with his hat, 'any lady or gentleman, possessing ordinary strength of mind, to say whether he's a disagreeable-looking chap or not!'
'Let me inquire,' said Martin, interposing between this candid speech and the delivery of some blighting anathema by Mr Tigg, 'what the amount of this debt may be?'
'In point of money, sir, very little,' answered Mark. 'Only just turned of three pounds.