Others, of a crook-backed shape, appeared to be maliciously holding themselves askew, that they might shut the prospect out and baffle Todgers's. The man who was mending a pen at an upper window over the way, became of paramount importance in the scene, and made a blank in it, ridiculously disproportionate in its extent, when he retired. The gambols of a piece of cloth upon the dyer's pole had far more interest for the moment than all the changing motion of the crowd. Yet even while the looker-on felt angry with himself for this, and wondered how it was, the tumult swelled into a roar; the hosts of objects seemed to thicken and expand a hundredfold, and after gazing round him, quite scared, he turned into Todgers's again, much more rapidly than he came out; and ten to one he told M. Todgers afterwards that if he hadn't done so, he would certainly have come into the street by the shortest cut; that is to say, head-foremost.
So said the two Miss Pecksniffs, when they retired with Mrs Todgers from this place of espial, leaving the youthful porter to close the door and follow them downstairs; who, being of a playful temperament, and contemplating with a delight peculiar to his sex and time of life, any chance of dashing himself into small fragments, lingered behind to walk upon the parapet.
It being the second day of their stay in London, the Miss Pecksniffs and Mrs Todgers were by this time highly confidential, insomuch that the last-named lady had already communicated the particulars of three early disappointments of a tender nature; and had furthermore possessed her young friends with a general summary of the life, conduct, and character of Mr Todgers. Who, it seemed, had cut his matrimonial career rather short, by unlawfully running away from his happiness, and establishing himself in foreign countries as a bachelor.
'Your pa was once a little particular in his attentions, my dears,' said Mrs Todgers, 'but to be your ma was too much happiness denied me. You'd hardly know who this was done for, perhaps?'
She called their attention to an oval miniature, like a little blister, which was tacked up over the kettle-holder, and in which there was a dreamy shadowing forth of her own visage.
'It's a speaking likeness!' cried the two Miss Pecksniffs.
'It was considered so once,' said Mrs Todgers, warming herself in a gentlemanly manner at the fire; 'but I hardly thought you would have known it, my loves.'
They would have known it anywhere. If they could have met with it in the street, or seen it in a shop window, they would have cried 'Good gracious! Mrs Todgers!'
'Presiding over an establishment like this, makes sad havoc with the features, my dear Miss Pecksniffs,' said Mrs Todgers. 'The gravy alone, is enough to add twenty years to one's age, I do assure you.'
'Lor'!' cried the two Miss Pecksniffs.
'The anxiety of that one item, my dears,' said Mrs Todgers, 'keeps the mind continually upon the stretch. There is no such passion in human nature, as the passion for gravy among commercial gentlemen. It's nothing to say a joint won't yield--a whole animal wouldn't yield--the amount of gravy they expect each day at dinner. And what I have undergone in consequence,' cried Mrs Todgers, raising her eyes and shaking her head, 'no one would believe!'
'Just like Mr Pinch, Merry!' said Charity. 'We have always noticed it in him, you remember?'
'Yes, my dear,' giggled Merry, 'but we have never given it him, you know.'
'You, my dears, having to deal with your pa's pupils who can't help themselves, are able to take your own way,' said Mrs Todgers; 'but in a commercial establishment, where any gentleman may say any Saturday evening, "Mrs Todgers, this day week we part, in consequence of the cheese," it is not so easy to preserve a pleasant understanding. Your pa was kind enough,' added the good lady, 'to invite me to take a ride with you to-day; and I think he mentioned that you were going to call upon Miss Pinch. Any relation to the gentleman you were speaking of just now, Miss Pecksniff?'
'For goodness sake, Mrs Todgers,' interposed the lively Merry, 'don't call him a gentleman.