'Oh very well, Miss Pinch!' thought the sharp pupil, 'crying before strangers, as if you didn't like the situation!'
'Thomas is well,' said Mr Pecksniff; 'and sends his love and this letter. I cannot say, poor fellow, that he will ever be distinguished in our profession; but he has the will to do well, which is the next thing to having the power; and, therefore, we must bear with him. Eh?'
'I know he has the will, sir,' said Tom Pinch's sister, 'and I know how kindly and considerately you cherish it, for which neither he nor I can ever be grateful enough, as we very often say in writing to each other. The young ladies too,' she added, glancing gratefully at his two daughters, 'I know how much we owe to them.'
'My dears,' said Mr Pecksniff, turning to them with a smile: 'Thomas's sister is saying something you will be glad to hear, I think.'
'We can't take any merit to ourselves, papa!' cried Cherry, as they both apprised Tom Pinch's sister, with a curtsey, that they would feel obliged if she would keep her distance. 'Mr Pinch's being so well provided for is owing to you alone, and we can only say how glad we are to hear that he is as grateful as he ought to be.'
'Oh very well, Miss Pinch!' thought the pupil again. 'Got a grateful brother, living on other people's kindness!'
'It was very kind of you,' said Tom Pinch's sister, with Tom's own simplicity and Tom's own smile, 'to come here; very kind indeed; though how great a kindness you have done me in gratifying my wish to see you, and to thank you with my own lips, you, who make so light of benefits conferred, can scarcely think.'
'Very grateful; very pleasant; very proper,' murmured Mr Pecksniff.
'It makes me happy too,' said Ruth Pinch, who now that her first surprise was over, had a chatty, cheerful way with her, and a single-hearted desire to look upon the best side of everything, which was the very moral and image of Tom; 'very happy to think that you will be able to tell him how more than comfortably I am situated here, and how unnecessary it is that he should ever waste a regret on my being cast upon my own resources. Dear me! So long as I heard that he was happy, and he heard that I was,' said Tom's sister, 'we could both bear, without one impatient or complaining thought, a great deal more than ever we have had to endure, I am very certain.' And if ever the plain truth were spoken on this occasionally false earth, Tom's sister spoke it when she said that.
'Ah!' cried Mr Pecksniff whose eyes had in the meantime wandered to the pupil; 'certainly. And how do YOU do, my very interesting child?'
'Quite well, I thank you, sir,' replied that frosty innocent.
'A sweet face this, my dears,' said Mr Pecksniff, turning to his daughters. 'A charming manner!'
Both young ladies had been in ecstasies with the scion of a wealthy house (through whom the nearest road and shortest cut to her parents might be supposed to lie) from the first. Mrs Todgers vowed that anything one quarter so angelic she had never seen. 'She wanted but a pair of wings, a dear,' said that good woman, 'to be a young syrup'--meaning, possibly, young sylph, or seraph.
'If you will give that to your distinguished parents, my amiable little friend,' said Mr Pecksniff, producing one of his professional cards, 'and will say that I and my daughters--'
'And Mrs Todgers, pa,' said Merry.
'And Mrs Todgers, of London,' added Mr Pecksniff; 'that I, and my daughters, and Mrs Todgers, of London, did not intrude upon them, as our object simply was to take some notice of Miss Pinch, whose brother is a young man in my employment; but that I could not leave this very chaste mansion, without adding my humble tribute, as an Architect, to the correctness and elegance of the owner's taste, and to his just appreciation of that beautiful art to the cultivation of which I have devoted a life, and to the promotion of whose glory and advancement I have sacrified a--a fortune--I shall be very much obliged to you.'
'Missis's compliments to Miss Pinch,' said the footman, suddenly appearing, and speaking in exactly the same key as before, 'and begs to know wot my young lady is a-learning of just now.'
'Oh!' said Mr Pecksniff, 'Here is the young man.