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38. Chapter Thirty-eight
In walking from the city with his sentimental friend, Tom Pinch had looked into the face, and brushed against the threadbare sleeve, of Mr Nadgett, man of mystery to the Anglo-Bengalee Disinterested Loan and Life Assurance Company. Mr Nadgett naturally passed away from Tom's remembrance as he passed out of his view; for he didn't know him, and had never heard his name.
As there are a vast number of people in the huge metropolis of England who rise up every morning not knowing where their heads will rest at night, so there are a multitude who shooting arrows over houses as their daily business, never know on whom they fall. Mr Nadgett might have passed Tom Pinch ten thousand times; might even have been quite familiar with his face, his name, pursuits, and character; yet never once have dreamed that Tom had any interest in any act or mystery of his. Tom might have done the like by him of course. But the same private man out of all the men alive, was in the mind of each at the same moment; was prominently connected though in a different manner, with the day's adventures of both; and formed, when they passed each other in the street, the one absorbing topic of their thoughts.
Why Tom had Jonas Chuzzlewit in his mind requires no explanation. Why Mr Nadgett should have had Jonas Chuzzlewit in his, is quite another thing.
But, somehow or other, that amiable and worthy orphan had become a part of the mystery of Mr Nadgett's existence. Mr Nadgett took an interest in his lightest proceedings; and it never flagged or wavered. He watched him in and out of the Assurance Office, where he was now formally installed as a Director; he dogged his footsteps in the streets; he stood listening when he talked; he sat in coffee- rooms entering his name in the great pocket-book, over and over again; he wrote letters to himself about him constantly; and, when he found them in his pocket, put them in the fire, with such distrust and caution that he would bend down to watch the crumpled tinder while it floated upwards, as if his mind misgave him, that the mystery it had contained might come out at the chimney-pot.
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