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tect, gentlemen," said the landlord, "has come down here, to help to lay the first stone of a new and splendid public building.”
"Is it to be built from his designs ?" asked Martin.
“The great Mr. Pecksniff, the celebrated architect, gentlemen," returned the landlord, who seemed to have an unspeakable delight in the repetition of these words, “carried off the First Premium, and will erect the building."
“Who lays the stone ?” asked Martin.
“Our member has come down express," returned the landlord. “No scrubs would do for no such a purpose. Nothing less would satisfy our Directors than our member in the House of Comnions, who is returned upon the Gentlemanly Interest.”
" Which interest is that?" asked Martin.
It was quite clear the landlord didn't. They always told him at election time, that it was the Gentlemanly side, and he immediately put on his top-boots, and voted for it.
"When does the ceremony take place ?” asked Martin.
"This day,” replied the landlord. Then pulling out his watch, he added, impressively,” almost this minute.”
Martin hastily inquired whether there was any possibility of getting in to witness it; and finding that there would be no objection to the admittance of any decent person, unless indeed the ground were full, hurried off with Mark, as hard as they could go. They were fortunate enough to squeeze themselves into a famous corner on the ground, where they could see all that passed, without much dread of being beheld by Mr. Pecksniff in return. They were not a minute too soon, for as they were in the act of congratulating each other, a great noise was heard at some distance, and everybody looked towards the gate. Several ladies prepared their pocket-handkerchiefs for waving; and a stray teacher belonging to the charity-school being much checred by mistake, was immensely groaned at when detected.
" Perhaps he has Tom Pinch with him,” Martin whispered to Mr. Tapley.
“It would be rather too much of a treat for him, wouldn't it, sir?" whispered Mr. Tapley in return.
There was no time to discuss the probabilities either way, for the charity-school, in clean linen, came filing in two and two, so much to the selfapproval of all the people present who didn't subscribe to it, that many of them shed tears. A band of music followed, led by a conscientious drummer who never left off. Then came a great many gentlemen with wands in their hands, and bows on their breasts, whose share in the proceedings did not appear to be distinctly laid down, and who trod upon each other, and blocked up the entry for a considerable period. These were followed by the Mayor and Corporation, all clustering round the Member for the Gentlemanly Interest; who had the great Mr. Pecksniff, the celebrated architect, on his right hand, and conversed with
him - familiarly as they came along. Then the ladies waved their handkerchiefs, and the gentlemen their hats, and the charity-children shrieked, and the Member for the Gentlemanly Interest bowed.
Silence being restored, the member for the Gentlemanly Interest rubbed his hands, and wagged his head, and looked about him pleasantly; and there was nothing this member did, at which some lady or other did not burst into an ecstatic waving of her pocket-handkerchief. When he looked up at the stone, they said how graceful! when he peeped into the hole, they said how condescending ! when he chatted with the Mayor, they said how easy! when he folded his arms they cried with one accord, how statesman-like!
Mr. Pecksniff was observed too; closely. When he talked to the Mayor, they said, Oh, really, what a courtly man he was ! when he laid his hand upon the mason's shoulder, giving him directions, how pleasant his demeanour to the working classes : just the sort of man who made their toil a pleasure to them, poor dear souls !
And now a silver trowel was brought; and when the member for the Gentlemanly Interests, tucking up his coat-sleeve, did a little sleight-of-hand with the mortar, the air was rent, so loud was the applause. The workman-like manner in which he did it was amazing. No one could conceive where such a gentlemanly creature could have picked the knowledge up.
When he had made a kind of dirt-pie under the direction of the mason, they brought a little vase containing coins, which the member for the Gentlemanly Interest jingled, as if he were going to conjure. Whereat they said how droll, how cheerful, what a flow of spirits! This put into its place, an ancient scholar read the inscription, which was in Latin : not in English: that would never do. It gave great satisfaction ; especially every time there was a good long substantive in the third declension, ablative case, with an adjective to match ; at which periods the assembly became very tender, and were much affected.
And now the stone was lowered down into its place, amidst the shouting of the concourse. When it was firmly fixed, the member for the Gentlemanly Interest struck upon it thrice with the handle of the trowel, as if inquiring, with a touch of humour, whether anybody was at home. Mr. Pecksniff then unrolled his Plans (prodigious plans they were), and people gathered round to look at and admire them.
Martin, who had been fretting himself-quite unnecessarily, as Mark thought-during the whole of these proceedings, could no longer restrain his impatience; but stepping forward among several others, looked straight over the shoulder of the unconscious Mr. Pecksniff, at the designs and plans he had unrolled. He returned to Mark, boiling
“Why, what's the matter, sir?” cried Mark. “Matter! This is my building." "Your building, sir!" said Mark. "My grammar-school. I invented it. I did it
all. He has only put four windows in the villain, and spoilt it !"
Mark could hardly believe it at first, but being assured that it was really so, actually held him to prevent his interference foolishly, until his temporary heat was passed. In the mean time, the member addressed the company on the gratifying deed which he had just performed.
He said that since he had sat in Parliament to represent the Gentlemanly Interest of that town; and he might add, the Lady Interest he hoped, besides (pocket-handkerchiefs); it had been his pleasant duty to come among them, and to raise his voice on their behalf in Another Place (pocket handkerchiefs and laughter), often. But he had never come among them, and had never raised his voice, with half such pure, such deep, such unalloyed delight, as now. “The present occasion, " he said, “will ever be memorable to me: not only for the reasons I have assigned, but because it has afforded me an opportunity of becoming personally known to a gentleman-" Here he pointed the trowel at Mr. Pecksniff, who was grected with vociferous cheering, and laid his hand upon his heart. "To a gentleman who, I am happy to believe, will reap both distinction and profit from this field : whose fame had previously penetrated to me-as to whose ears has it not !-but whose intellectual countenance I never had the distinguished honour to behold until this day, and whose intellectual conversation I had never before the improving pleasure to enjoy."