'However,' he said, 'these are not proper subjects for ladies' ears. All I've got to say to you, Mrs Todgers, is, a week's notice from next Saturday. The same house can't contain that miscreant and me any longer. If we get over the intermediate time without bloodshed, you may think yourself pretty fortunate. I don't myself expect we shall.'
'Dear, dear!' cried Mrs Todgers, 'what would I have given to have prevented this? To lose you, sir, would be like losing the house's right-hand. So popular as you are among the gentlemen; so generally looked up to; and so much liked! I do hope you'll think better of it; if on nobody else's account, on mine.'
'There's Jinkins,' said the youngest gentleman, moodily. 'Your favourite. He'll console you, and the gentlemen too, for the loss of twenty such as me. I'm not understood in this house. I never have been.'
'Don't run away with that opinion, sir!' cried Mrs Todgers, with a show of honest indignation. 'Don't make such a charge as that against the establishment, I must beg of you. It is not so bad as that comes to, sir. Make any remark you please against the gentlemen, or against me; but don't say you're not understood in this house.'
'I'm not treated as if I was,' said the youngest gentleman.
'There you make a great mistake, sir,' returned Mrs Todgers, in the same strain. 'As many of the gentlemen and I have often said, you are too sensitive. That's where it is. You are of too susceptible a nature; it's in your spirit.'
The young gentleman coughed.
'And as,' said Mrs Todgers, 'as to Mr Jinkins, I must beg of you, if we ARE to part, to understand that I don't abet Mr Jinkins by any means. Far from it. I could wish that Mr Jinkins would take a lower tone in this establishment, and would not be the means of raising differences between me and gentlemen that I can much less bear to part with than I could with Mr Jinkins. Mr Jinkins is not such a boarder, sir,' added Mrs Todgers, 'that all considerations of private feeling and respect give way before him. Quite the contrary, I assure you.'
The young gentleman was so much mollified by these and similar speeches on the part of Mrs Todgers, that he and that lady gradually changed positions; so that she became the injured party, and he was understood to be the injurer; but in a complimentary, not in an offensive sense; his cruel conduct being attributable to his exalted nature, and to that alone. So, in the end, the young gentleman withdrew his notice, and assured Mrs Todgers of his unalterable regard; and having done so, went back to business.
'Goodness me, Miss Pecksniffs!' cried that lady, as she came into the back room, and sat wearily down, with her basket on her knees, and her hands folded upon it, 'what a trial of temper it is to keep a house like this! You must have heard most of what has just passed. Now did you ever hear the like?'
'Never!' said the two Miss Pecksniffs.
'Of all the ridiculous young fellows that ever I had to deal with,' resumed Mrs Todgers, 'that is the most ridiculous and unreasonable. Mr Jinkins is hard upon him sometimes, but not half as hard as he deserves. To mention such a gentleman as Mr Jinkins in the same breath with HIM--you know it's too much! And yet he's as jealous of him, bless you, as if he was his equal.'
The young ladies were greatly entertained by Mrs Todgers's account, no less than with certain anecdotes illustrative of the youngest gentleman's character, which she went on to tell them. But Mr Pecksniff looked quite stern and angry; and when she had concluded, said in a solemn voice:
'Pray, Mrs Todgers, if I may inquire, what does that young gentleman contribute towards the support of these premises?'
'Why, sir, for what HE has, he pays about eighteen shillings a week!' said Mrs Todgers.
'Eighteen shillings a week!' repeated Mr Pecksniff.
'Taking one week with another; as near that as possible,' said Mrs Todgers.
Mr Pecksniff rose from his chair, folded his arms, looked at her, and shook his head.