'He begins well! Upon my life and honour this young man begins well! But I should very much like to know how it is that every one who comes into contact with this family is guilty of some gross insult to it. Death! Not arrived yet. Not here to receive us!'
The nephew with the outline of a countenance, suggested that perhaps he had ordered a new pair of boots, and they hadn't come home.
'Don't talk to me of Boots, sir!' retorted Spottletoe, with immense indignation. 'He is bound to come here in his slippers then; he is bound to come here barefoot. Don't offer such a wretched and evasive plea to me on behalf of your friend, as Boots, sir.'
'He is not MY friend,' said the nephew. 'I never saw him.'
'Very well, sir,' returned the fiery Spottletoe. 'Then don't talk to me!'
The door was thrown open at this juncture, and Miss Pecksniff entered, tottering, and supported by her three bridesmaids. The strong-minded woman brought up the rear; having waited outside until now, for the purpose of spoiling the effect.
'How do you do, ma'am!' said Spottletoe to the strong-minded woman in a tone of defiance. 'I believe you see Mrs Spottletoe, ma'am?'
The strong-minded woman with an air of great interest in Mrs Spottletoe's health, regretted that she was not more easily seen. Nature erring, in that lady's case, upon the slim side.
'Mrs Spottletoe is at least more easily seen than the bridegroom, ma'am,' returned that lady's husband. 'That is, unless he has confined his attentions to any particular part or branch of this family, which would be quite in keeping with its usual proceedings.'
'If you allude to me, sir--' the strong-minded woman began.
'Pray,' interposed Miss Pecksniff, 'do not allow Augustus, at this awful moment of his life and mine, to be the means of disturbing that harmony which it is ever Augustus's and my wish to maintain. Augustus has not been introduced to any of my relations now present. He preferred not.'
'Why, then, I venture to assert,' cried Mr Spottletoe, 'that the man who aspires to join this family, and "prefers not" to be introduced to its members, is an impertinent Puppy. That is my opinion of HIM!'
The strong-minded woman remarked with great suavity, that she was afraid he must be. Her three daughters observed aloud that it was 'Shameful!'
'You do not know Augustus,' said Miss Pecksniff, tearfully, 'indeed you do not know him. Augustus is all mildness and humility. Wait till you see Augustus, and I am sure he will conciliate your affections.'
'The question arises,' said Spottletoe, folding his arms: 'How long we are to wait. I am not accustomed to wait; that's the fact. And I want to know how long we are expected to wait.'
'Mrs Todgers!' said Charity, 'Mr Jinkins! I am afraid there must be some mistake. I think Augustus must have gone straight to the Altar!'
As such a thing was possible, and the church was close at hand, Mr Jinkins ran off to see, accompanied by Mr George Chuzzlewit the bachelor cousin, who preferred anything to the aggravation of sitting near the breakfast, without being able to eat it. But they came back with no other tidings than a familiar message from the clerk, importing that if they wanted to be married that morning they had better look sharp, as the curate wasn't going to wait there all day.
The bride was now alarmed; seriously alarmed.