Having taken this little liberty with the Patriarchal person, Mr Pancks further astounded and attracted the Bleeding Hearts by saying in an audible voice, 'Now, you sugary swindler, I mean to have it out with you!'
Mr Pancks and the Patriarch were instantly the centre of a press, all eyes and ears; windows were thrown open, and door-steps were thronged.
'What do you pretend to be?' said Mr Pancks. 'What's your moral game? What do you go in for? Benevolence, an't it? You benevolent!' Here Mr Pancks, apparently without the intention of hitting him, but merely to relieve his mind and expend his superfluous power in wholesome exercise, aimed a blow at the bumpy head, which the bumpy head ducked to avoid. This singular performance was repeated, to the ever-increasing admiration of the spectators, at the end of every succeeding article of Mr Pancks's oration.
'I have discharged myself from your service,' said Pancks, 'that I may tell you what you are. You're one of a lot of impostors that are the worst lot of all the lots to be met with. Speaking as a sufferer by both, I don't know that I wouldn't as soon have the Merdle lot as your lot. You're a driver in disguise, a screwer by deputy, a wringer, and squeezer, and shaver by substitute. You're a philanthropic sneak. You're a shabby deceiver!' (The repetition of the performance at this point was received with a burst of laughter.)
'Ask these good people who's the hard man here. They'll tell you Pancks, I believe.'
This was confirmed with cries of 'Certainly,' and 'Hear!'
'But I tell you, good people--Casby! This mound of meekness, this lump of love, this bottle-green smiler, this is your driver!' said Pancks. 'If you want to see the man who would flay you alive--here he is! Don't look for him in me, at thirty shillings a week, but look for him in Casby, at I don't know how much a year!'
'Good!' cried several voices. 'Hear Mr Pancks!'
'Hear Mr Pancks?' cried that gentleman (after repeating the popular performance). 'Yes, I should think so! It's almost time to hear Mr Pancks. Mr Pancks has come down into the Yard to-night on purpose that you should hear him. Pancks is only the Works; but here's the Winder!'
The audience would have gone over to Mr Pancks, as one man, woman, and child, but for the long, grey, silken locks, and the broad- brimmed hat.
'Here's the Stop,' said Pancks, 'that sets the tune to be ground. And there is but one tune, and its name is Grind, Grind, Grind! Here's the Proprietor, and here's his Grubber. Why, good people, when he comes smoothly spinning through the Yard to-night, like a slow-going benevolent Humming-Top, and when you come about him with your complaints of the Grubber, you don't know what a cheat the Proprietor is! What do you think of his showing himself to-night, that I may have all the blame on Monday? What do you think of his having had me over the coals this very evening, because I don't squeeze you enough? What do you think of my being, at the present moment, under special orders to squeeze you dry on Monday?'
The reply was given in a murmur of 'Shame!' and 'Shabby!'
'Shabby?' snorted Pancks. 'Yes, I should think so! The lot that your Casby belongs to, is the shabbiest of all the lots. Setting their Grubbers on, at a wretched pittance, to do what they're ashamed and afraid to do and pretend not to do, but what they will have done, or give a man no rest! Imposing on you to give their Grubbers nothing but blame, and to give them nothing but credit! Why, the worst-looking cheat in all this town who gets the value of eighteenpence under false pretences, an't half such a cheat as this sign-post of The Casby's Head here!'
Cries of 'That's true!' and 'No more he an't!'
'And see what you get of these fellows, besides,' said Pancks' 'See what more you get of these precious Humming-Tops, revolving among you with such smoothness that you've no idea of the pattern painted on 'em, or the little window in 'em. I wish to call your attention to myself for a moment.