'They are, sir,' replied Job.
'You have fully made up your mind to go?'
'I have sir,' answered Job.
'With regard to such an outfit as was indispensable for Jingle,' said Perker, addressing Mr. Pickwick aloud. 'I have taken upon myself to make an arrangement for the deduction of a small sum from his quarterly salary, which, being made only for one year, and regularly remitted, will provide for that expense. I entirely disapprove of your doing anything for him, my dear sir, which is not dependent on his own exertions and good conduct.'
'Certainly,' interposed Jingle, with great firmness. 'Clear head — man of the world — quite right — perfectly.'
'By compounding with his creditor, releasing his clothes from the pawnbroker's, relieving him in prison, and paying for his passage,' continued Perker, without noticing Jingle's observation, 'you have already lost upwards of fifty pounds.'
'Not lost,' said Jingle hastily, 'Pay it all — stick to business — cash up — every farthing. Yellow fever, perhaps — can't help that — if not — ' Here Mr. Jingle paused, and striking the crown of his hat with great violence, passed his hand over his eyes, and sat down.
'He means to say,' said Job, advancing a few paces, 'that if he is not carried off by the fever, he will pay the money back again. If he lives, he will, Mr. Pickwick. I will see it done. I know he will, Sir,' said Job, with energy. 'I could undertake to swear it.'
'Well, well,' said Mr. Pickwick, who had been bestowing a score or two of frowns upon Perker, to stop his summary of benefits conferred, which the little attorney obstinately disregarded, 'you must be careful not to play any more desperate cricket matches, Mr. Jingle, or to renew your acquaintance with Sir Thomas Blazo, and I have little doubt of your preserving your health.'
Mr. Jingle smiled at this sally, but looked rather foolish notwithstanding; so Mr. Pickwick changed the subject by saying —
'You don't happen to know, do you, what has become of another friend of yours — a more humble one, whom I saw at Rochester?'
'Dismal Jemmy?' inquired Jingle.
Jingle shook his head.
'Clever rascal — queer fellow, hoaxing genius — Job's brother.'
'Job's brother!' exclaimed Mr. Pickwick. 'Well, now I look at him closely, there IS a likeness.'
'We were always considered like each other, Sir,' said Job, with a cunning look just lurking in the corners of his eyes, 'only I was really of a serious nature, and he never was. He emigrated to America, Sir, in consequence of being too much sought after here, to be comfortable; and has never been heard of since.'
'That accounts for my not having received the "page from the romance of real life," which he promised me one morning when he appeared to be contemplating suicide on Rochester Bridge, I suppose,' said Mr. Pickwick, smiling. 'I need not inquire whether his dismal behaviour was natural or assumed.'
'He could assume anything, Sir,' said Job. 'You may consider yourself very fortunate in having escaped him so easily. On intimate terms he would have been even a more dangerous acquaintance than — ' Job looked at Jingle, hesitated, and finally added, 'than — than-myself even.'
'A hopeful family yours, Mr. Trotter,' said Perker, sealing a letter which he had just finished writing.
'Yes, Sir,' replied Job. 'Very much so.'
'Well,' said the little man, laughing, 'I hope you are going to disgrace it. Deliver this letter to the agent when you reach Liverpool, and let me advise you, gentlemen, not to be too knowing in the West Indies. If you throw away this chance, you will both richly deserve to be hanged, as I sincerely trust you will be. And now you had better leave Mr. Pickwick and me alone, for we have other matters to talk over, and time is precious.' As Perker said this, he looked towards the door, with an evident desire to render the leave-taking as brief as possible.
It was brief enough on Mr. Jingle's part. He thanked the little attorney in a few hurried words for the kindness and promptitude with which he had rendered his assistance, and, turning to his benefactor, stood for a few seconds as if irresolute what to say or how to act. Job Trotter relieved his perplexity; for, with a humble and grateful bow to Mr. Pickwick, he took his friend gently by the arm, and led him away.
'A worthy couple!' said Perker, as the door closed behind them.
'I hope they may become so,' replied Mr. Pickwick. 'What do you think? Is there any chance of their permanent reformation?'
Perker shrugged his shoulders doubtfully, but observing Mr. Pickwick's anxious and disappointed look, rejoined —
'Of course there is a chance. I hope it may prove a good one. They are unquestionably penitent now; but then, you know, they have the recollection of very recent suffering fresh upon them. What they may become, when that fades away, is a problem that neither you nor I can solve. However, my dear Sir,' added Perker, laying his hand on Mr. Pickwick's shoulder, 'your object is equally honourable, whatever the result is. Whether that species of benevolence which is so very cautious and long-sighted that it is seldom exercised at all, lest its owner should be imposed upon, and so wounded in his self-love, be real charity or a worldly counterfeit, I leave to wiser heads than mine to determine. But if those two fellows were to commit a burglary to-morrow, my opinion of this action would be equally high.'
With these remarks, which were delivered in a much more animated and earnest manner than is usual in legal gentlemen, Perker drew his chair to his desk, and listened to Mr. Pickwick's recital of old Mr. Winkle's obstinacy.
'Give him a week,' said Perker, nodding his head prophetically.
'Do you think he will come round?' inquired Mr. Pickwick.
'I think he will,' rejoined Perker. 'If not, we must try the young lady's persuasion; and that is what anybody but you would have done at first.'
Mr. Perker was taking a pinch of snuff with various grotesque contractions of countenance, eulogistic of the persuasive powers appertaining unto young ladies, when the murmur of inquiry and answer was heard in the outer office, and Lowten tapped at the door.
'Come in!' cried the little man.
The clerk came in, and shut the door after him, with great mystery.
'What's the matter?' inquired Perker.
'You're wanted, Sir.'
'Who wants me?'
Lowten looked at Mr. Pickwick, and coughed.
'Who wants me? Can't you speak, Mr. Lowten?'
'Why, sir,' replied Lowten, 'it's Dodson; and Fogg is with him.'
'Bless my life!' said the little man, looking at his watch, 'I appointed them to be here at half-past eleven, to settle that matter of yours, Pickwick. I gave them an undertaking on which they sent down your discharge; it's very awkward, my dear Sir; what will you do? Would you like to step into the next room?'
The next room being the identical room in which Messrs. Dodson & Fogg were, Mr. Pickwick replied that he would remain where he was: the more especially as Messrs. Dodson & Fogg ought to be ashamed to look him in the face, instead of his being ashamed to see them. Which latter circumstance he begged Mr. Perker to note, with a glowing countenance and many marks of indignation.
'Very well, my dear Sir, very well,' replied Perker, 'I can only say that if you expect either Dodson or Fogg to exhibit any symptom of shame or confusion at having to look you, or anybody else, in the face, you are the most sanguine man in your expectations that I ever met with. Show them in, Mr. Lowten.'
Mr. Lowten disappeared with a grin, and immediately returned ushering in the firm, in due form of precedence — Dodson first, and Fogg afterwards.
'You have seen Mr. Pickwick, I believe?' said Perker to Dodson, inclining his pen in the direction where that gentleman was seated.
'How do you do, Mr. Pickwick?' said Dodson, in a loud voice.
'Dear me,'cried Fogg, 'how do you do, Mr. Pickwick? I hope you are well, Sir. I thought I knew the face,' said Fogg, drawing up a chair, and looking round him with a smile.
Mr. Pickwick bent his head very slightly, in answer to these salutations, and, seeing Fogg pull a bundle of papers from his coat pocket, rose and walked to the window.
'There's no occasion for Mr. Pickwick to move, Mr. Perker,' said Fogg, untying the red tape which encircled the little bundle, and smiling again more sweetly than before. 'Mr. Pickwick is pretty well acquainted with these proceedings. There are no secrets between us, I think. He! he! he!'
'Not many, I think,' said Dodson. 'Ha! ha! ha!' Then both the partners laughed together — pleasantly and cheerfully, as men who are going to receive money often do.
'We shall make Mr. Pickwick pay for peeping,' said Fogg, with considerable native humour, as he unfolded his papers. 'The amount of the taxed costs is one hundred and thirty-three, six, four, Mr. Perker.'
There was a great comparing of papers, and turning over of leaves, by Fogg and Perker, after this statement of profit and loss. Meanwhile, Dodson said, in an affable manner, to Mr. Pickwick —
'I don't think you are looking quite so stout as when I had the pleasure of seeing you last, Mr. Pickwick.'