'Are you serious?'

'Upon my word I am,' replied his new acquaintance. 'You and I will get on excellently well, I know; which it's no small relief to me to feel, for to tell you the truth, I am not at all the sort of fellow who could get on with everybody, and that's the point on which I had the greatest doubts. But they're quite relieved now.--Do me the favour to ring the bell, will you?'

Mr Pinch rose, and complied with great alacrity--the handle hung just over Martin's head, as he warmed himself--and listened with a smiling face to what his friend went on to say. It was:

'If you like punch, you'll allow me to order a glass apiece, as hot as it can be made, that we may usher in our friendship in a becoming manner. To let you into a secret, Mr Pinch, I never was so much in want of something warm and cheering in my life; but I didn't like to run the chance of being found drinking it, without knowing what kind of person you were; for first impressions, you know, often go a long way, and last a long time.'

Mr Pinch assented, and the punch was ordered. In due course it came; hot and strong. After drinking to each other in the steaming mixture, they became quite confidential.

'I'm a sort of relation of Pecksniff's, you know,' said the young man.

'Indeed!' cried Mr Pinch.

'Yes. My grandfather is his cousin, so he's kith and kin to me, somehow, if you can make that out. I can't.'

'Then Martin is your Christian name?' said Mr Pinch, thoughtfully. 'Oh!'

'Of course it is,' returned his friend: 'I wish it was my surname for my own is not a very pretty one, and it takes a long time to sign Chuzzlewit is my name.'

'Dear me!' cried Mr Pinch, with an involuntary start.

'You're not surprised at my having two names, I suppose?' returned the other, setting his glass to his lips. 'Most people have.'

'Oh, no,' said Mr Pinch, 'not at all. Oh dear no! Well!' And then remembering that Mr Pecksniff had privately cautioned him to say nothing in reference to the old gentleman of the same name who had lodged at the Dragon, but to reserve all mention of that person for him, he had no better means of hiding his confusion than by raising his own glass to his mouth. They looked at each other out of their respective tumblers for a few seconds, and then put them down empty.

'I told them in the stable to be ready for us ten minutes ago,' said Mr Pinch, glancing at the clock again. 'Shall we go?'

'If you please,' returned the other.

'Would you like to drive?' said Mr Pinch; his whole face beaming with a consciousness of the splendour of his offer. 'You shall, if you wish.'

'Why, that depends, Mr Pinch,' said Martin, laughing, 'upon what sort of a horse you have. Because if he's a bad one, I would rather keep my hands warm by holding them comfortably in my greatcoat pockets.'

He appeared to think this such a good joke, that Mr Pinch was quite sure it must be a capital one. Accordingly, he laughed too, and was fully persuaded that he enjoyed it very much. Then he settled his bill, and Mr Chuzzlewit paid for the punch; and having wrapped themselves up, to the extent of their respective means, they went out together to the front door, where Mr Pecksniff's property stopped the way.

'I won't drive, thank you, Mr Pinch,' said Martin, getting into the sitter's place. 'By the bye, there's a box of mine. Can we manage to take it?'

'Oh, certainly,' said Tom. 'Put it in, Dick, anywhere!'

It was not precisely of that convenient size which would admit of its being squeezed into any odd corner, but Dick the hostler got it in somehow, and Mr Chuzzlewit helped him. It was all on Mr Pinch's side, and Mr Chuzzlewit said he was very much afraid it would encumber him; to which Tom said, 'Not at all;' though it forced him into such an awkward position, that he had much ado to see anything but his own knees. But it is an ill wind that blows nobody any good; and the wisdom of the saying was verified in this instance; for the cold air came from Mr Pinch's side of the carriage, and by interposing a perfect wall of box and man between it and the new pupil, he shielded that young gentleman effectually; which was a great comfort.

Charles Dickens
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