'Oh, no, Mr Pecksniff! Your second, and her bridesmaid!'
Mr Pecksniff smiled complacently; shook his head; and said, 'My daughters, Mrs Todgers. Merely my daughters.'
'Ah!' sighed the good lady, 'I must believe you, for now I look at 'em I think I should have known 'em anywhere. My dear Miss Pecksniffs, how happy your Pa has made me!'
She hugged them both; and being by this time overpowered by her feelings or the inclemency of the morning, jerked a little pocket handkerchief out of the little basket, and applied the same to her face.
'Now, my good madam,' said Mr Pecksniff, 'I know the rules of your establishment, and that you only receive gentlemen boarders. But it occurred to me, when I left home, that perhaps you would give my daughters house room, and make an exception in their favour.'
'Perhaps?' cried Mrs Todgers ecstatically. 'Perhaps?'
'I may say then, that I was sure you would,' said Mr Pecksniff. 'I know that you have a little room of your own, and that they can be comfortable there, without appearing at the general table.'
'Dear girls!' said Mrs Todgers. 'I must take that liberty once more.'
Mrs Todgers meant by this that she must embrace them once more, which she accordingly did with great ardour. But the truth was that the house being full with the exception of one bed, which would now be occupied by Mr Pecksniff, she wanted time for consideration; and so much time too (for it was a knotty point how to dispose of them), that even when this second embrace was over, she stood for some moments gazing at the sisters, with affection beaming in one eye, and calculation shining out of the other.
'I think I know how to arrange it,' said Mrs Todgers, at length. 'A sofa bedstead in the little third room which opens from my own parlour.--Oh, you dear girls!'
Thereupon she embraced them once more, observing that she could not decide which was most like their poor mother (which was highly probable, seeing that she had never beheld that lady), but that she rather thought the youngest was; and then she said that as the gentlemen would be down directly, and the ladies were fatigued with travelling, would they step into her room at once?
It was on the same floor; being, in fact, the back parlour; and had, as Mrs Todgers said, the great advantage (in London) of not being overlooked; as they would see when the fog cleared off. Nor was this a vainglorious boast, for it commanded at a perspective of two feet, a brown wall with a black cistern on the top. The sleeping apartment designed for the young ladies was approached from this chamber by a mightily convenient little door, which would only open when fallen against by a strong person. It commanded from a similar point of sight another angle of the wall, and another side of the cistern. 'Not the damp side,' said Mrs Todgers. 'THAT is Mr Jinkins's.'
In the first of these sanctuaries a fire was speedily kindled by the youthful porter, who, whistling at his work in the absence of Mrs Todgers (not to mention his sketching figures on his corduroys with burnt firewood), and being afterwards taken by that lady in the fact, was dismissed with a box on his ears. Having prepared breakfast for the young ladies with her own hands, she withdrew to preside in the other room; where the joke at Mr Jinkins's expense seemed to be proceeding rather noisily.
'I won't ask you yet, my dears,' said Mr Pecksniff, looking in at the door, 'how you like London. Shall I?'
'We haven't seen much of it, Pa!' cried Merry.
'Nothing, I hope,' said Cherry. (Both very miserably.)
'Indeed,' said Mr Pecksniff, 'that's true. We have our pleasure, and our business too, before us. All in good time. All in good time!'
Whether Mr Pecksniff's business in London was as strictly professional as he had given his new pupil to understand, we shall see, to adopt that worthy man's phraseology, 'all in good time.'
TOWN AND TODGER'S
Surely there never was, in any other borough, city, or hamlet in the world, such a singular sort of a place as Todgers's.