'And do you mean to say, ma'am--is it possible, Mrs Todgers--that for such a miserable consideration as eighteen shillings a week, a female of your understanding can so far demean herself as to wear a double face, even for an instant?'
'I am forced to keep things on the square if I can, sir,' faltered Mrs Todgers. 'I must preserve peace among them, and keep my connection together, if possible, Mr Pecksniff. The profit is very small.'
'The profit!' cried that gentleman, laying great stress upon the word. 'The profit, Mrs Todgers! You amaze me!'
He was so severe, that Mrs Todgers shed tears.
'The profit!' repeated Mr pecksniff. 'The profit of dissimulation! To worship the golden calf of Baal, for eighteen shillings a week!'
'Don't in your own goodness be too hard upon me, Mr Pecksniff,' cried Mrs Todgers, taking out her handkerchief.
'Oh Calf, Calf!' cried Mr Pecksniff mournfully. 'Oh, Baal, Baal! oh my friend, Mrs Todgers! To barter away that precious jewel, self- esteem, and cringe to any mortal creature--for eighteen shillings a week!'
He was so subdued and overcome by the reflection, that he immediately took down his hat from its peg in the passage, and went out for a walk, to compose his feelings. Anybody passing him in the street might have known him for a good man at first sight; for his whole figure teemed with a consciousness of the moral homily he had read to Mrs Todgers.
Eighteen shillings a week! Just, most just, thy censure, upright Pecksniff! Had it been for the sake of a ribbon, star, or garter; sleeves of lawn, a great man's smile, a seat in parliament, a tap upon the shoulder from a courtly sword; a place, a party, or a thriving lie, or eighteen thousand pounds, or even eighteen hundred;--but to worship the golden calf for eighteen shillings a week! oh pitiful, pitiful!
WHEREIN A CERTAIN GENTLEMAN BECOMES PARTICULAR IN HIS ATTENTIONS TO A CERTAIN LADY; AND MORE COMING EVENTS THAN ONE, CAST THEIR SHADOWS BEFORE
The family were within two or three days of their departure from Mrs Todgers's, and the commercial gentlemen were to a man despondent and not to be comforted, because of the approaching separation, when Bailey junior, at the jocund time of noon, presented himself before Miss Charity Pecksniff, then sitting with her sister in the banquet chamber, hemming six new pocket-handkerchiefs for Mr Jinkins; and having expressed a hope, preliminary and pious, that he might be blest, gave her in his pleasant way to understand that a visitor attended to pay his respects to her, and was at that moment waiting in the drawing-room. Perhaps this last announcement showed in a more striking point of view than many lengthened speeches could have done, the trustfulness and faith of Bailey's nature; since he had, in fact, last seen the visitor on the door-mat, where, after signifying to him that he would do well to go upstairs, he had left him to the guidance of his own sagacity. Hence it was at least an even chance that the visitor was then wandering on the roof of the house, or vainly seeking to extricate himself from the maze of bedrooms; Todgers's being precisely that kind of establishment in which an unpiloted stranger is pretty sure to find himself in some place where he least expects and least desires to be.
'A gentleman for me!' cried Charity, pausing in her work; 'my gracious, Bailey!'
'Ah!' said Bailey. 'It IS my gracious, an't it? Wouldn't I be gracious neither, not if I wos him!'
The remark was rendered somewhat obscure in itself, by reason (as the reader may have observed) of a redundancy of negatives; but accompanied by action expressive of a faithful couple walking arm- in-arm towards a parochial church, mutually exchanging looks of love, it clearly signified this youth's conviction that the caller's purpose was of an amorous tendency. Miss Charity affected to reprove so great a liberty; but she could not help smiling. He was a strange boy, to be sure. There was always some ground of probability and likelihood mingled with his absurd behaviour.