Tantissimi classici della letteratura e della cultura politica,
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Abbe Prevost - MANON LESCAUT
Alcott, Louisa M. - AN OLDFASHIONED GIRL
Alcott, Louisa M. - LITTLE MEN
Alcott, Louisa M. - LITTLE WOMEN
Alcott, Louisa May - JACK AND JILL
Alcott, Louisa May - LIFE LETTERS AND JOURNALS
Andersen, Hans Christian - FAIRY TALES
Anonimo - BEOWULF
Ariosto, Ludovico - ORLANDO ENRAGED
Aurelius, Marcus - MEDITATIONS
Austen, Jane - EMMA
Austen, Jane - MANSFIELD PARK
Austen, Jane - NORTHANGER ABBEY
Austen, Jane - PERSUASION
Austen, Jane - PRIDE AND PREJUDICE
Austen, Jane - SENSE AND SENSIBILITY
Authors, Various - LETTERS OF ABELARD AND HELOISE
Authors, Various - SELECTED ENGLISH LETTERS
Autori Vari - THE WORLD ENGLISH BIBLE
Bacon, Francis - THE ADVANCEMENT OF LEARNING
Balzac, Honore de - EUGENIE GRANDET
Balzac, Honore de - FATHER GORIOT
Baroness Orczy - THE SCARLET PIMPERNEL
Barrie, J. M. - PETER AND WENDY
Barrie, James M. - PETER PAN
Bierce, Ambrose - THE DEVIL'S DICTIONARY
Blake, William - SONGS OF INNOCENCE AND EXPERIENCE
Boccaccio, Giovanni - DECAMERONE
Brent, Linda - INCIDENTS IN THE LIFE OF A SLAVE GIRL
Bronte, Charlotte - JANE EYRE
Bronte, Charlotte - VILLETTE
Buchan, John - GREENMANTLE
Buchan, John - MR STANDFAST
Buchan, John - THE 39 STEPS
Bunyan, John - THE PILGRIM'S PROGRESS
Burckhardt, Jacob - THE CIVILIZATION OF THE RENAISSANCE IN ITALY
Burnett, Frances H. - A LITTLE PRINCESS
Burnett, Frances H. - LITTLE LORD FAUNTLEROY
Burnett, Frances H. - THE SECRET GARDEN
Butler, Samuel - EREWHON
Carlyle, Thomas - PAST AND PRESENT
Carlyle, Thomas - THE FRENCH REVOLUTION
Cellini, Benvenuto - AUTOBIOGRAPHY
Cervantes - DON QUIXOTE
Chaucer, Geoffrey - THE CANTERBURY TALES
Chesterton, G. K. - A SHORT HISTORY OF ENGLAND
Chesterton, G. K. - THE BALLAD OF THE WHITE HORSE
Chesterton, G. K. - THE INNOCENCE OF FATHER BROWN
Chesterton, G. K. - THE MAN WHO KNEW TOO MUCH
Chesterton, G. K. - THE MAN WHO WAS THURSDAY
Chesterton, G. K. - THE WISDOM OF FATHER BROWN
Chesterton, G. K. - TWELVE TYPES
Chesterton, G. K. - WHAT I SAW IN AMERICA
Chesterton, Gilbert K. - HERETICS
Chopin, Kate - AT FAULT
Chopin, Kate - BAYOU FOLK
Chopin, Kate - THE AWAKENING AND SELECTED SHORT STORIES
Clark Hall, John R. - A CONCISE ANGLOSAXON DICTIONARY
Clarkson, Thomas - AN ESSAY ON THE SLAVERY AND COMMERCE OF THE HUMAN SPECIES
Clausewitz, Carl von - ON WAR
Coleridge, Herbert - A DICTIONARY OF THE FIRST OR OLDEST WORDS IN THE ENGLISH
Coleridge, S. T. - COMPLETE POETICAL WORKS
Coleridge, S. T. - HINTS TOWARDS THE FORMATION OF A MORE COMPREHENSIVE THEORY
Coleridge, S. T. - THE RIME OF THE ANCIENT MARINER
Collins, Wilkie - THE MOONSTONE
Collodi - PINOCCHIO
Conan Doyle, Arthur - A STUDY IN SCARLET
Conan Doyle, Arthur - MEMOIRS OF SHERLOCK HOLMES
Conan Doyle, Arthur - THE HOUND OF THE BASKERVILLES
Conan Doyle, Arthur - THE RETURN OF SHERLOCK HOLMES
Conan Doyle, Arthur - THE SIGN OF THE FOUR
Conrad, Joseph - HEART OF DARKNESS
Conrad, Joseph - LORD JIM
Conrad, Joseph - NOSTROMO
Conrad, Joseph - THE NIGGER OF THE NARCISSUS
Conrad, Joseph - TYPHOON
Crane, Stephen - LAST WORDS
Crane, Stephen - MAGGIE
Crane, Stephen - THE RED BADGE OF COURAGE
Crane, Stephen - WOUNDS IN THE RAIN
Dante - THE DIVINE COMEDY: HELL
Dante - THE DIVINE COMEDY: PARADISE
Dante - THE DIVINE COMEDY: PURGATORY
Darwin, Charles - THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF CHARLES DARWIN
Darwin, Charles - THE ORIGIN OF SPECIES
Defoe, Daniel - A GENERAL HISTORY OF THE PYRATES
Defoe, Daniel - A JOURNAL OF THE PLAGUE YEAR
Defoe, Daniel - CAPTAIN SINGLETON
Defoe, Daniel - MOLL FLANDERS
Defoe, Daniel - ROBINSON CRUSOE
Defoe, Daniel - THE COMPLETE ENGLISH TRADESMAN
Defoe, Daniel - THE FURTHER ADVENTURES OF ROBINSON CRUSOE
Deledda, Grazia - AFTER THE DIVORCE
Dickens, Charles - A CHRISTMAS CAROL
Dickens, Charles - A TALE OF TWO CITIES
Dickens, Charles - BLEAK HOUSE
Dickens, Charles - DAVID COPPERFIELD
Dickens, Charles - DONBEY AND SON
Dickens, Charles - GREAT EXPECTATIONS
Dickens, Charles - HARD TIMES
Dickens, Charles - LETTERS VOLUME 1
Dickens, Charles - LITTLE DORRIT
Dickens, Charles - MARTIN CHUZZLEWIT
Dickens, Charles - NICHOLAS NICKLEBY
Dickens, Charles - OLIVER TWIST
Dickens, Charles - OUR MUTUAL FRIEND
Dickens, Charles - PICTURES FROM ITALY
Dickens, Charles - THE MYSTERY OF EDWIN DROOD
Dickens, Charles - THE OLD CURIOSITY SHOP
Dickens, Charles - THE PICKWICK PAPERS
Dickinson, Emily - POEMS
Dostoevsky, Fyodor - CRIME AND PUNISHMENT
Dostoyevsky, Fyodor - THE BROTHERS KARAMAZOV
Du Maurier, George - TRILBY
Dumas, Alexandre - THE COUNT OF MONTE CRISTO
Dumas, Alexandre - THE MAN IN THE IRON MASK
Dumas, Alexandre - THE THREE MUSKETEERS
Eliot, George - DANIEL DERONDA
Eliot, George - MIDDLEMARCH
Eliot, George - SILAS MARNER
Eliot, George - THE MILL ON THE FLOSS
Engels, Frederick - THE CONDITION OF THE WORKING-CLASS IN ENGLAND IN 1844
Equiano - AUTOBIOGRAPHY
Esopo - FABLES
Fenimore Cooper, James - THE LAST OF THE MOHICANS
Fielding, Henry - TOM JONES
France, Anatole - THAIS
France, Anatole - THE GODS ARE ATHIRST
France, Anatole - THE LIFE OF JOAN OF ARC
France, Anatole - THE SEVEN WIVES OF BLUEBEARD
Frank Baum, L. - THE PATCHWORK GIRL OF OZ
Frank Baum, L. - THE WONDERFUL WIZARD OF OZ
Franklin, Benjamin - AUTOBIOGRAPHY
Frazer, James George - THE GOLDEN BOUGH
Freud, Sigmund - DREAM PSYCHOLOGY
Galsworthy, John - COMPLETE PLAYS
Galsworthy, John - STRIFE
Galsworthy, John - STUDIES AND ESSAYS
Galsworthy, John - THE FIRST AND THE LAST
Galsworthy, John - THE FORSYTE SAGA
Galsworthy, John - THE LITTLE MAN
Galsworthy, John - THE SILVER BOX
Galsworthy, John - THE SKIN GAME
Gaskell, Elizabeth - CRANFORD
Gaskell, Elizabeth - MARY BARTON
Gaskell, Elizabeth - NORTH AND SOUTH
Gaskell, Elizabeth - THE LIFE OF CHARLOTTE BRONTE
Gay, John - THE BEGGAR'S OPERA
Gentile, Maria - THE ITALIAN COOK BOOK
Gilbert and Sullivan - PLAYS
Goethe - FAUST
Gogol - DEAD SOULS
Goldsmith, Oliver - SHE STOOPS TO CONQUER
Goldsmith, Oliver - THE VICAR OF WAKEFIELD
Grahame, Kenneth - THE WIND IN THE WILLOWS
Grimm, Brothers - FAIRY TALES
Harding, A. R. - GINSENG AND OTHER MEDICINAL PLANTS
Hardy, Thomas - A CHANGED MAN AND OTHER TALES
Hardy, Thomas - FAR FROM THE MADDING CROWD
Hardy, Thomas - JUDE THE OBSCURE
Hardy, Thomas - TESS OF THE D'URBERVILLES
Hardy, Thomas - THE MAYOR OF CASTERBRIDGE
Hartley, Cecil B. - THE GENTLEMEN'S BOOK OF ETIQUETTE
Hawthorne, Nathaniel - LITTLE MASTERPIECES
Hawthorne, Nathaniel - THE SCARLET LETTER
Henry VIII - LOVE LETTERS TO ANNE BOLEYN
Henry, O. - CABBAGES AND KINGS
Henry, O. - SIXES AND SEVENS
Henry, O. - THE FOUR MILLION
Henry, O. - THE TRIMMED LAMP
Henry, O. - WHIRLIGIGS
Hindman Miller, Gustavus - TEN THOUSAND DREAMS INTERPRETED
Hobbes, Thomas - LEVIATHAN
Homer - THE ILIAD
Homer - THE ODYSSEY
Hornaday, William T. - THE EXTERMINATION OF THE AMERICAN BISON
Hume, David - A TREATISE OF HUMAN NATURE
Hume, David - AN ENQUIRY CONCERNING HUMAN UNDERSTANDING
Hume, David - DIALOGUES CONCERNING NATURAL RELIGION
Ibsen, Henrik - A DOLL'S HOUSE
Ibsen, Henrik - AN ENEMY OF THE PEOPLE
Ibsen, Henrik - GHOSTS
Ibsen, Henrik - HEDDA GABLER
Ibsen, Henrik - JOHN GABRIEL BORKMAN
Ibsen, Henrik - ROSMERHOLM
Ibsen, Henrik - THE LADY FROM THE SEA
Ibsen, Henrik - THE MASTER BUILDER
Ibsen, Henrik - WHEN WE DEAD AWAKEN
Irving, Washington - THE LEGEND OF SLEEPY HOLLOW
James, Henry - ITALIAN HOURS
James, Henry - THE ASPERN PAPERS
James, Henry - THE BOSTONIANS
James, Henry - THE PORTRAIT OF A LADY
James, Henry - THE TURN OF THE SCREW
James, Henry - WASHINGTON SQUARE
Jerome, Jerome K. - THREE MEN IN A BOAT
Jerome, Jerome K. - THREE MEN ON THE BUMMEL
Jevons, Stanley - POLITICAL ECONOMY
Johnson, Samuel - A GRAMMAR OF THE ENGLISH TONGUE
Jonson, Ben - THE ALCHEMIST
Jonson, Ben - VOLPONE
Joyce, James - A PORTRAIT OF THE ARTIST AS A YOUNG MAN
Joyce, James - CHAMBER MUSIC
Joyce, James - DUBLINERS
Joyce, James - ULYSSES
Keats, John - ENDYMION
Keats, John - POEMS PUBLISHED IN 1817
Keats, John - POEMS PUBLISHED IN 1820
King James - THE BIBLE
Kipling, Rudyard - CAPTAINS COURAGEOUS
Kipling, Rudyard - INDIAN TALES
Kipling, Rudyard - JUST SO STORIES
Kipling, Rudyard - KIM
Kipling, Rudyard - THE JUNGLE BOOK
Kipling, Rudyard - THE MAN WHO WOULD BE KING
Kipling, Rudyard - THE SECOND JUNGLE BOOK
Lawrence, D. H - THE RAINBOW
Lawrence, D. H - THE WHITE PEACOCK
Lawrence, D. H - TWILIGHT IN ITALY
Lawrence, D. H. - AARON'S ROD
Lawrence, D. H. - SONS AND LOVERS
Lawrence, D. H. - THE LOST GIRL
Lawrence, D. H. - WOMEN IN LOVE
Lear, Edward - BOOK OF NONSENSE
Lear, Edward - LAUGHABLE LYRICS
Lear, Edward - MORE NONSENSE
Lear, Edward - NONSENSE SONG
Leblanc, Maurice - ARSENE LUPIN VS SHERLOCK HOLMES
Leblanc, Maurice - THE ADVENTURES OF ARSENE LUPIN
Leblanc, Maurice - THE CONFESSIONS OF ARSENE LUPIN
Leblanc, Maurice - THE HOLLOW NEEDLE
Leblanc, Maurice - THE RETURN OF ARSENE LUPIN
Lehmann, Lilli - HOW TO SING
Leroux, Gaston - THE MAN WITH THE BLACK FEATHER
Leroux, Gaston - THE MYSTERY OF THE YELLOW ROOM
Leroux, Gaston - THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA
London, Jack - MARTIN EDEN
London, Jack - THE CALL OF THE WILD
London, Jack - WHITE FANG
Machiavelli, Nicolo' - THE PRINCE
Malthus, Thomas - PRINCIPLE OF POPULATION
Mansfield, Katherine - THE GARDEN PARTY AND OTHER STORIES
Marlowe, Christopher - THE JEW OF MALTA
Marryat, Captain - THE CHILDREN OF THE NEW FOREST
Maupassant, Guy De - BEL AMI
Melville, Hermann - MOBY DICK
Melville, Hermann - TYPEE
Mill, John Stuart - PRINCIPLES OF POLITICAL ECONOMY
Milton, John - PARADISE LOST
Mitra, S. M. - HINDU TALES FROM THE SANSKRIT
Montaigne, Michel de - ESSAYS
Montgomery, Lucy Maud - ANNE OF GREEN GABLES
More, Thomas - UTOPIA
Nesbit, E. - FIVE CHILDREN AND IT
Nesbit, E. - THE PHOENIX AND THE CARPET
Nesbit, E. - THE RAILWAY CHILDREN
Nesbit, E. - THE STORY OF THE AMULET
Newton, Isaac - OPTICKS
Nietsche, Friedrich - BEYOND GOOD AND EVIL
Nietsche, Friedrich - THUS SPAKE ZARATHUSTRA
Nightingale, Florence - NOTES ON NURSING
Owen, Wilfred - POEMS
Ozaki, Yei Theodora - JAPANESE FAIRY TALES
Pascal, Blaise - PENSEES
Pellico, Silvio - MY TEN YEARS IMPRISONMENT
Perrault, Charles - FAIRY TALES
Pirandello, Luigi - THREE PLAYS
Plato - THE REPUBLIC
Poe, Edgar Allan - THE COMPLETE POETICAL WORKS 1
Poe, Edgar Allan - THE COMPLETE POETICAL WORKS 2
Poe, Edgar Allan - THE COMPLETE POETICAL WORKS 3
Poe, Edgar Allan - THE COMPLETE POETICAL WORKS 4
Poe, Edgar Allan - THE COMPLETE POETICAL WORKS 5
Poe, Edgar Allan - THE FALL OF THE HOUSE OF USHER
Potter, Beatrix - THE TALE OF PETER RABBIT
Proust, Marcel - SWANN'S WAY
Radcliffe, Ann - A SICILIAN ROMANCE
Ricardo, David - ON THE PRINCIPLES OF POLITICAL ECONOMY AND TAXATION
Richardson, Samuel - PAMELA
Rider Haggard, H. - ALLAN QUATERMAIN
Rider Haggard, H. - KING SOLOMON'S MINES
Rousseau, J. J. - THE ORIGIN AND FOUNDATION OF INEQUALITY AMONG MANKIND
Ruskin, John - THE SEVEN LAMPS OF ARCHITECTURE
Schiller, Friedrich - THE DEATH OF WALLENSTEIN
Schiller, Friedrich - THE PICCOLOMINI
Schopenhauer, Arthur - THE ART OF CONTROVERSY
Schopenhauer, Arthur - THE WISDOM OF LIFE
Scott Fitzgerald, F. - FLAPPERS AND PHILOSOPHERS
Scott Fitzgerald, F. - TALES OF THE JAZZ AGE
Scott Fitzgerald, F. - THE BEAUTIFUL AND DAMNED
Scott Fitzgerald, F. - THIS SIDE OF PARADISE
Scott, Walter - IVANHOE
Scott, Walter - QUENTIN DURWARD
Scott, Walter - ROB ROY
Scott, Walter - THE BRIDE OF LAMMERMOOR
Scott, Walter - WAVERLEY
Sedgwick, Anne Douglas - THE THIRD WINDOW
Sewell, Anna - BLACK BEAUTY
Shakespeare, William - COMPLETE WORKS
Shakespeare, William - HAMLET
Shakespeare, William - OTHELLO
Shakespeare, William - ROMEO AND JULIET
Shelley, Mary - FRANKENSTEIN
Shelley, Percy Bysshe - A DEFENCE OF POETRY AND OTHER ESSAYS
Shelley, Percy Bysshe - COMPLETE POETICAL WORKS
Sheridan, Richard B. - THE SCHOOL FOR SCANDAL
Sienkiewicz, Henryk - QUO VADIS
Smith, Adam - THE WEALTH OF NATIONS
Smollett, Tobias - TRAVELS THROUGH FRANCE AND ITALY
Spencer, Herbert - ESSAYS ON EDUCATION AND KINDRED SUBJECTS
Spyri, Johanna - HEIDI
Sterne, Laurence - A SENTIMENTAL JOURNEY
Sterne, Laurence - TRISTRAM SHANDY
Stevenson, Robert Louis - A CHILD'S GARDEN OF VERSES
Stevenson, Robert Louis - ESSAYS IN THE ART OF WRITING
Stevenson, Robert Louis - KIDNAPPED
Stevenson, Robert Louis - NEW ARABIAN NIGHTS
Stevenson, Robert Louis - THE BLACK ARROW
Stevenson, Robert Louis - THE STRANGE CASE OF DR. JEKYLL AND MR. HYDE
Stevenson, Robert Louis - TREASURE ISLAND
Stoker, Bram - DRACULA
Strindberg, August - LUCKY PEHR
Strindberg, August - MASTER OLOF
Strindberg, August - THE RED ROOM
Strindberg, August - THE ROAD TO DAMASCUS
Strindberg, August - THERE ARE CRIMES AND CRIMES
Swift, Jonathan - A MODEST PROPOSAL
Swift, Jonathan - A TALE OF A TUB
Swift, Jonathan - GULLIVER'S TRAVELS
Swift, Jonathan - THE BATTLE OF THE BOOKS AND OTHER SHORT PIECES
Tagore, Rabindranath - FRUIT GATHERING
Tagore, Rabindranath - THE GARDENER
Tagore, Rabindranath - THE HUNGRY STONES AND OTHER STORIES
Thackeray, William - BARRY LYNDON
Thackeray, William - VANITY FAIR
Thackeray, William Makepeace - THE BOOK OF SNOBS
Thackeray, William Makepeace - THE ROSE AND THE RING
Thackeray, William Makepeace - THE VIRGINIANS
Thoreau, Henry David - WALDEN
Tolstoi, Leo - A LETTER TO A HINDU
Tolstoy, Lev - ANNA KARENINA
Tolstoy, Lev - WAR AND PEACE
Trollope, Anthony - AN AUTOBIOGRAPHY
Trollope, Anthony - BARCHESTER TOWERS
Trollope, Anthony - FRAMLEY PARSONAGE
Trollope, Anthony - THE EUSTACE DIAMONDS
Trollope, Anthony - THE MAN WHO KEPT HIS MONEY IN A BOX
Trollope, Anthony - THE WARDEN
Trollope, Anthony - THE WAY WE LIVE NOW
Twain, Mark - LIFE ON THE MISSISSIPPI
Twain, Mark - SPEECHES
Twain, Mark - THE ADVENTURES OF HUCKLEBERRY FINN
Twain, Mark - THE ADVENTURES OF TOM SAWYER
Twain, Mark - THE PRINCE AND THE PAUPER
Vari, Autori - THE MAGNA CARTA
Verga, Giovanni - SICILIAN STORIES
Verne, Jules - 20000 LEAGUES UNDER THE SEAS
Verne, Jules - A JOURNEY TO THE CENTRE OF THE EARTH
Verne, Jules - ALL AROUND THE MOON
Verne, Jules - AROUND THE WORLD IN 80 DAYS
Verne, Jules - FIVE WEEKS IN A BALLOON
Verne, Jules - FROM THE EARTH TO THE MOON
Verne, Jules - MICHAEL STROGOFF
Verne, Jules - THE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND
Voltaire - PHILOSOPHICAL DICTIONARY
Vyasa - MAHABHARATA
Wallace, Edgar - SANDERS OF THE RIVER
Wallace, Edgar - THE DAFFODIL MYSTERY
Wallace, Lew - BEN HUR
Webster, Jean - DADDY LONG LEGS
Wedekind, Franz - THE AWAKENING OF SPRING
Wells, H. G. - KIPPS
Wells, H. G. - THE INVISIBLE MAN
Wells, H. G. - THE ISLAND OF DOCTOR MOREAU
Wells, H. G. - THE STOLEN BACILLUS AND OTHER INCIDENTS
Wells, H. G. - THE TIME MACHINE
Wells, H. G. - THE WAR OF THE WORLDS
Wells, H. G. - WHAT IS COMING
Wharton, Edith - THE AGE OF INNOCENCE
White, Andrew Dickson - FIAT MONEY INFLATION IN FRANCE
Wilde, Oscar - A WOMAN OF NO IMPORTANCE
Wilde, Oscar - AN IDEAL HUSBAND
Wilde, Oscar - DE PROFUNDIS
Wilde, Oscar - LADY WINDERMERE'S FAN
Wilde, Oscar - SALOME
Wilde, Oscar - SELECTED POEMS
Wilde, Oscar - THE BALLAD OF READING GAOL
Wilde, Oscar - THE CANTERVILLE GHOST
Wilde, Oscar - THE HAPPY PRINCE AND OTHER TALES
Wilde, Oscar - THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING EARNEST
Wilde, Oscar - THE PICTURE OF DORIAN GREY
Wilde, Oscar - THE SOUL OF MAN
Wilson, Epiphanius - SACRED BOOKS OF THE EAST
Wollstonecraft, Mary - A VINDICATION OF THE RIGHTS OF WOMAN
Woolf, Virgina - NIGHT AND DAY
Woolf, Virgina - THE VOYAGE OUT
Woolf, Virginia - JACOB'S ROOM
Woolf, Virginia - MONDAY OR TUESDAY
Wordsworth, William - POEMS
Wordsworth, William - PROSE WORKS
Zola, Emile - THERESE RAQUIN
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ISTRUZIONI D'USO DETTAGLIATE
By Charles Dickens.
PUBLISHED IN 1857.
BOOK THE FIRST: POVERTY.
CHAPTER 1. Sun and Shadow.
Thirty years ago, Marseilles lay burning in the sun, one day.
A blazing sun upon a fierce August day was no greater rarity in southern
France then, than at any other time, before or since. Everything in
Marseilles, and about Marseilles, had stared at the fervid sky, and been
stared at in return, until a staring habit had become universal there.
Strangers were stared out of countenance by staring white houses,
staring white walls, staring white streets, staring tracts of arid road,
staring hills from which verdure was burnt away. The only things to be
seen not fixedly staring and glaring were the vines drooping under their
load of grapes. These did occasionally wink a little, as the hot air
barely moved their faint leaves.
There was no wind to make a ripple on the foul water within the harbour,
or on the beautiful sea without. The line of demarcation between the two
colours, black and blue, showed the point which the pure sea would not
pass; but it lay as quiet as the abominable pool, with which it never
mixed. Boats without awnings were too hot to touch; ships blistered at
their moorings; the stones of the quays had not cooled, night or
day, for months. Hindoos, Russians, Chinese, Spaniards, Portuguese,
Englishmen, Frenchmen, Genoese, Neapolitans, Venetians, Greeks, Turks,
descendants from all the builders of Babel, come to trade at Marseilles,
sought the shade alike--taking refuge in any hiding-place from a sea too
intensely blue to be looked at, and a sky of purple, set with one great
flaming jewel of fire.
The universal stare made the eyes ache. Towards the distant line of
Italian coast, indeed, it was a little relieved by light clouds of mist,
slowly rising from the evaporation of the sea, but it softened nowhere
else. Far away the staring roads, deep in dust, stared from the
hill-side, stared from the hollow, stared from the interminable
plain. Far away the dusty vines overhanging wayside cottages, and the
monotonous wayside avenues of parched trees without shade, drooped
beneath the stare of earth and sky. So did the horses with drowsy bells,
in long files of carts, creeping slowly towards the interior; so did
their recumbent drivers, when they were awake, which rarely happened;
so did the exhausted labourers in the fields. Everything that lived or
grew, was oppressed by the glare; except the lizard, passing swiftly
over rough stone walls, and the cicala, chirping his dry hot chirp, like
a rattle. The very dust was scorched brown, and something quivered in
the atmosphere as if the air itself were panting.
Blinds, shutters, curtains, awnings, were all closed and drawn to keep
out the stare. Grant it but a chink or keyhole, and it shot in like a
white-hot arrow. The churches were the freest from it. To come out of
the twilight of pillars and arches--dreamily dotted with winking lamps,
dreamily peopled with ugly old shadows piously dozing, spitting, and
begging--was to plunge into a fiery river, and swim for life to the
nearest strip of shade. So, with people lounging and lying wherever
shade was, with but little hum of tongues or barking of dogs, with
occasional jangling of discordant church bells and rattling of vicious
drums, Marseilles, a fact to be strongly smelt and tasted, lay broiling
in the sun one day. In Marseilles that day there was a villainous
prison. In one of its chambers, so repulsive a place that even the
obtrusive stare blinked at it, and left it to such refuse of reflected
light as it could find for itself, were two men. Besides the two men,
a notched and disfigured bench, immovable from the wall, with a
draught-board rudely hacked upon it with a knife, a set of draughts,
made of old buttons and soup bones, a set of dominoes, two mats, and two
or three wine bottles. That was all the chamber held, exclusive of rats
and other unseen vermin, in addition to the seen vermin, the two men.
It received such light as it got through a grating of iron bars
fashioned like a pretty large window, by means of which it could be
always inspected from the gloomy staircase on which the grating gave.
There was a broad strong ledge of stone to this grating where the bottom
of it was let into the masonry, three or four feet above the ground.
Upon it, one of the two men lolled, half sitting and half lying, with
his knees drawn up, and his feet and shoulders planted against the
opposite sides of the aperture. The bars were wide enough apart to
admit of his thrusting his arm through to the elbow; and so he held on
negligently, for his greater ease.
A prison taint was on everything there. The imprisoned air, the
imprisoned light, the imprisoned damps, the imprisoned men, were all
deteriorated by confinement. As the captive men were faded and haggard,
so the iron was rusty, the stone was slimy, the wood was rotten, the air
was faint, the light was dim. Like a well, like a vault, like a tomb,
the prison had no knowledge of the brightness outside, and would have
kept its polluted atmosphere intact in one of the spice islands of the
The man who lay on the ledge of the grating was even chilled. He jerked
his great cloak more heavily upon him by an impatient movement of one
shoulder, and growled, 'To the devil with this Brigand of a Sun that
never shines in here!'
He was waiting to be fed, looking sideways through the bars that he
might see the further down the stairs, with much of the expression of
a wild beast in similar expectation. But his eyes, too close together,
were not so nobly set in his head as those of the king of beasts are in
his, and they were sharp rather than bright--pointed weapons with little
surface to betray them. They had no depth or change; they glittered,
and they opened and shut. So far, and waiving their use to himself, a
clockmaker could have made a better pair. He had a hook nose, handsome
after its kind, but too high between the eyes by probably just as much
as his eyes were too near to one another. For the rest, he was large and
tall in frame, had thin lips, where his thick moustache showed them at
all, and a quantity of dry hair, of no definable colour, in its shaggy
state, but shot with red. The hand with which he held the grating
(seamed all over the back with ugly scratches newly healed), was
unusually small and plump; would have been unusually white but for the
prison grime. The other man was lying on the stone floor, covered with a
coarse brown coat.
'Get up, pig!' growled the first. 'Don't sleep when I am hungry.'
'It's all one, master,' said the pig, in a submissive manner, and not
without cheerfulness; 'I can wake when I will, I can sleep when I will.
It's all the same.'
As he said it, he rose, shook himself, scratched himself, tied his brown
coat loosely round his neck by the sleeves (he had previously used it
as a coverlet), and sat down upon the pavement yawning, with his back
against the wall opposite to the grating.
'Say what the hour is,' grumbled the first man.
'The mid-day bells will ring--in forty minutes.' When he made the
little pause, he had looked round the prison-room, as if for certain
'You are a clock. How is it that you always know?'
'How can I say? I always know what the hour is, and where I am. I was
brought in here at night, and out of a boat, but I know where I am. See
here! Marseilles harbour;' on his knees on the pavement, mapping it all
out with a swarthy forefinger; 'Toulon (where the galleys are), Spain
over there, Algiers over there. Creeping away to the left here, Nice.
Round by the Cornice to Genoa. Genoa Mole and Harbour. Quarantine
Ground. City there; terrace gardens blushing with the bella donna. Here,
Porto Fino. Stand out for Leghorn. Out again for Civita Vecchia, so away
to--hey! there's no room for Naples;' he had got to the wall by this
time; 'but it's all one; it's in there!'
He remained on his knees, looking up at his fellow-prisoner with a
lively look for a prison. A sunburnt, quick, lithe, little man, though
rather thickset. Earrings in his brown ears, white teeth lighting up his
grotesque brown face, intensely black hair clustering about his brown
throat, a ragged red shirt open at his brown breast. Loose, seaman-like
trousers, decent shoes, a long red cap, a red sash round his waist, and
a knife in it.
'Judge if I come back from Naples as I went! See here, my master! Civita
Vecchia, Leghorn, Porto Fino, Genoa, Cornice, Off Nice (which is in
there), Marseilles, you and me. The apartment of the jailer and his keys
is where I put this thumb; and here at my wrist they keep the national
razor in its case--the guillotine locked up.'
The other man spat suddenly on the pavement, and gurgled in his throat.
Some lock below gurgled in its throat immediately afterwards, and then
a door crashed. Slow steps began ascending the stairs; the prattle of
a sweet little voice mingled with the noise they made; and the
prison-keeper appeared carrying his daughter, three or four years old,
and a basket.
'How goes the world this forenoon, gentlemen? My little one, you see,
going round with me to have a peep at her father's birds. Fie, then!
Look at the birds, my pretty, look at the birds.'
He looked sharply at the birds himself, as he held the child up at
the grate, especially at the little bird, whose activity he seemed to
mistrust. 'I have brought your bread, Signor John Baptist,' said he
(they all spoke in French, but the little man was an Italian); 'and if I
might recommend you not to game--'
'You don't recommend the master!' said John Baptist, showing his teeth
as he smiled.
'Oh! but the master wins,' returned the jailer, with a passing look of
no particular liking at the other man, 'and you lose. It's quite another
thing. You get husky bread and sour drink by it; and he gets sausage of
Lyons, veal in savoury jelly, white bread, strachino cheese, and good
wine by it. Look at the birds, my pretty!'
'Poor birds!' said the child.
The fair little face, touched with divine compassion, as it peeped
shrinkingly through the grate, was like an angel's in the prison. John
Baptist rose and moved towards it, as if it had a good attraction for
him. The other bird remained as before, except for an impatient glance
at the basket.
'Stay!' said the jailer, putting his little daughter on the outer ledge
of the grate, 'she shall feed the birds. This big loaf is for Signor
John Baptist. We must break it to get it through into the cage. So,
there's a tame bird to kiss the little hand! This sausage in a vine
leaf is for Monsieur Rigaud. Again--this veal in savoury jelly is for
Monsieur Rigaud. Again--these three white little loaves are for Monsieur
Rigaud. Again, this cheese--again, this wine--again, this tobacco--all
for Monsieur Rigaud. Lucky bird!'
The child put all these things between the bars into the soft, Smooth,
well-shaped hand, with evident dread--more than once drawing back
her own and looking at the man with her fair brow roughened into an
expression half of fright and half of anger. Whereas she had put the
lump of coarse bread into the swart, scaled, knotted hands of John
Baptist (who had scarcely as much nail on his eight fingers and two
thumbs as would have made out one for Monsieur Rigaud), with ready
confidence; and, when he kissed her hand, had herself passed it
caressingly over his face. Monsieur Rigaud, indifferent to this
distinction, propitiated the father by laughing and nodding at the
daughter as often as she gave him anything; and, so soon as he had
all his viands about him in convenient nooks of the ledge on which he
rested, began to eat with an appetite.
When Monsieur Rigaud laughed, a change took place in his face, that
was more remarkable than prepossessing. His moustache went up under his
nose, and his nose came down over his moustache, in a very sinister and
'There!' said the jailer, turning his basket upside down to beat the
crumbs out, 'I have expended all the money I received; here is the note
of it, and that's a thing accomplished. Monsieur Rigaud, as I expected
yesterday, the President will look for the pleasure of your society at
an hour after mid-day, to-day.'
'To try me, eh?' said Rigaud, pausing, knife in hand and morsel in
'You have said it. To try you.'
'There is no news for me?' asked John Baptist, who had begun,
contentedly, to munch his bread.
The jailer shrugged his shoulders.
'Lady of mine! Am I to lie here all my life, my father?'
'What do I know!' cried the jailer, turning upon him with southern
quickness, and gesticulating with both his hands and all his fingers,
as if he were threatening to tear him to pieces. 'My friend, how is it
possible for me to tell how long you are to lie here? What do I know,
John Baptist Cavalletto? Death of my life! There are prisoners here
sometimes, who are not in such a devil of a hurry to be tried.' He
seemed to glance obliquely at Monsieur Rigaud in this remark; but
Monsieur Rigaud had already resumed his meal, though not with quite so
quick an appetite as before.
'Adieu, my birds!' said the keeper of the prison, taking his pretty
child in his arms, and dictating the words with a kiss.
'Adieu, my birds!' the pretty child repeated.
Her innocent face looked back so brightly over his shoulder, as he
walked away with her, singing her the song of the child's game:
'Who passes by this road so late?
Compagnon de la Majolaine!
Who passes by this road so late?
that John Baptist felt it a point of honour to reply at the grate, and
in good time and tune, though a little hoarsely:
'Of all the king's knights 'tis the flower,
Compagnon de la Majolaine!
Of all the king's knights 'tis the flower,
which accompanied them so far down the few steep stairs, that the
prison-keeper had to stop at last for his little daughter to hear the
song out, and repeat the Refrain while they were yet in sight. Then the
child's head disappeared, and the prison-keeper's head disappeared, but
the little voice prolonged the strain until the door clashed.
Monsieur Rigaud, finding the listening John Baptist in his way before
the echoes had ceased (even the echoes were the weaker for imprisonment,
and seemed to lag), reminded him with a push of his foot that he had
better resume his own darker place. The little man sat down again
upon the pavement with the negligent ease of one who was thoroughly
accustomed to pavements; and placing three hunks of coarse bread before
himself, and falling to upon a fourth, began contentedly to work his way
through them as if to clear them off were a sort of game.
Perhaps he glanced at the Lyons sausage, and perhaps he glanced at the
veal in savoury jelly, but they were not there long, to make his mouth
water; Monsieur Rigaud soon dispatched them, in spite of the president
and tribunal, and proceeded to suck his fingers as clean as he could,
and to wipe them on his vine leaves. Then, as he paused in his drink
to contemplate his fellow-prisoner, his moustache went up, and his nose
'How do you find the bread?'
'A little dry, but I have my old sauce here,' returned John Baptist,
holding up his knife. 'How sauce?'
'I can cut my bread so--like a melon. Or so--like an omelette. Or
so--like a fried fish. Or so--like Lyons sausage,' said John Baptist,
demonstrating the various cuts on the bread he held, and soberly chewing
what he had in his mouth.
'Here!' cried Monsieur Rigaud. 'You may drink. You may finish this.'
It was no great gift, for there was mighty little wine left; but Signor
Cavalletto, jumping to his feet, received the bottle gratefully, turned
it upside down at his mouth, and smacked his lips.
'Put the bottle by with the rest,' said Rigaud.
The little man obeyed his orders, and stood ready to give him a lighted
match; for he was now rolling his tobacco into cigarettes by the aid of
little squares of paper which had been brought in with it.
'Here! You may have one.'
'A thousand thanks, my master!' John Baptist said in his own language,
and with the quick conciliatory manner of his own countrymen.
Monsieur Rigaud arose, lighted a cigarette, put the rest of his stock
into a breast-pocket, and stretched himself out at full length upon the
bench. Cavalletto sat down on the pavement, holding one of his ankles in
each hand, and smoking peacefully. There seemed to be some uncomfortable
attraction of Monsieur Rigaud's eyes to the immediate neighbourhood of
that part of the pavement where the thumb had been in the plan. They
were so drawn in that direction, that the Italian more than once
followed them to and back from the pavement in some surprise.
'What an infernal hole this is!' said Monsieur Rigaud, breaking a long
pause. 'Look at the light of day. Day? the light of yesterday week, the
light of six months ago, the light of six years ago. So slack and dead!'
It came languishing down a square funnel that blinded a window in the
staircase wall, through which the sky was never seen--nor anything else.
'Cavalletto,' said Monsieur Rigaud, suddenly withdrawing his gaze from
this funnel to which they had both involuntarily turned their eyes, 'you
know me for a gentleman?'
'How long have we been here?' 'I, eleven weeks, to-morrow night at
midnight. You, nine weeks and three days, at five this afternoon.'
'Have I ever done anything here? Ever touched the broom, or spread
the mats, or rolled them up, or found the draughts, or collected the
dominoes, or put my hand to any kind of work?'
'Have you ever thought of looking to me to do any kind of work?'
John Baptist answered with that peculiar back-handed shake of the
right forefinger which is the most expressive negative in the Italian
'No! You knew from the first moment when you saw me here, that I was a
'ALTRO!' returned John Baptist, closing his eyes and giving his head a
most vehement toss. The word being, according to its Genoese emphasis,
a confirmation, a contradiction, an assertion, a denial, a taunt,
a compliment, a joke, and fifty other things, became in the present
instance, with a significance beyond all power of written expression,
our familiar English 'I believe you!'
'Haha! You are right! A gentleman I am! And a gentleman I'll live, and
a gentleman I'll die! It's my intent to be a gentleman. It's my game.
Death of my soul, I play it out wherever I go!'
He changed his posture to a sitting one, crying with a triumphant air:
'Here I am! See me! Shaken out of destiny's dice-box into the company
of a mere smuggler;--shut up with a poor little contraband trader, whose
papers are wrong, and whom the police lay hold of besides, for placing
his boat (as a means of getting beyond the frontier) at the disposition
of other little people whose papers are wrong; and he instinctively
recognises my position, even by this light and in this place. It's well
done! By Heaven! I win, however the game goes.'
Again his moustache went up, and his nose came down.
'What's the hour now?' he asked, with a dry hot pallor upon him, rather
difficult of association with merriment.
'A little half-hour after mid-day.'
'Good! The President will have a gentleman before him soon. Come!
Shall I tell you on what accusation? It must be now, or never, for I
shall not return here. Either I shall go free, or I shall go to be made
ready for shaving. You know where they keep the razor.'
Signor Cavalletto took his cigarette from between his parted lips, and
showed more momentary discomfiture than might have been expected.
'I am a'--Monsieur Rigaud stood up to say it--'I am a cosmopolitan
gentleman. I own no particular country. My father was Swiss--Canton de
Vaud. My mother was French by blood, English by birth. I myself was born
in Belgium. I am a citizen of the world.'
His theatrical air, as he stood with one arm on his hip within the folds
of his cloak, together with his manner of disregarding his companion
and addressing the opposite wall instead, seemed to intimate that he
was rehearsing for the President, whose examination he was shortly to
undergo, rather than troubling himself merely to enlighten so small a
person as John Baptist Cavalletto.
'Call me five-and-thirty years of age. I have seen the world. I have
lived here, and lived there, and lived like a gentleman everywhere. I
have been treated and respected as a gentleman universally. If you try
to prejudice me by making out that I have lived by my wits--how do
your lawyers live--your politicians--your intriguers--your men of the
He kept his small smooth hand in constant requisition, as if it were a
witness to his gentility that had often done him good service before.
'Two years ago I came to Marseilles. I admit that I was poor; I had been
ill. When your lawyers, your politicians, your intriguers, your men of
the Exchange fall ill, and have not scraped money together, they become
poor. I put up at the Cross of Gold,--kept then by Monsieur Henri
Barronneau--sixty-five at least, and in a failing state of health. I had
lived in the house some four months when Monsieur Henri Barronneau had
the misfortune to die;--at any rate, not a rare misfortune, that. It
happens without any aid of mine, pretty often.'
John Baptist having smoked his cigarette down to his fingers' ends,
Monsieur Rigaud had the magnanimity to throw him another. He lighted the
second at the ashes of the first, and smoked on, looking sideways at his
companion, who, preoccupied with his own case, hardly looked at him.
'Monsieur Barronneau left a widow. She was two-and-twenty. She had
gained a reputation for beauty, and (which is often another thing) was
beautiful. I continued to live at the Cross of Gold. I married Madame
Barronneau. It is not for me to say whether there was any great
disparity in such a match. Here I stand, with the contamination of a
jail upon me; but it is possible that you may think me better suited to
her than her former husband was.'
He had a certain air of being a handsome man--which he was not; and
a certain air of being a well-bred man--which he was not. It was mere
swagger and challenge; but in this particular, as in many others,
blustering assertion goes for proof, half over the world.
'Be it as it may, Madame Barronneau approved of me. That is not to
prejudice me, I hope?'
His eye happening to light upon John Baptist with this inquiry, that
little man briskly shook his head in the negative, and repeated in an
argumentative tone under his breath, altro, altro, altro, altro--an
infinite number of times.
'Now came the difficulties of our position. I am proud. I say nothing
in defence of pride, but I am proud. It is also my character to govern.
I can't submit; I must govern. Unfortunately, the property of Madame
Rigaud was settled upon herself. Such was the insane act of her late
husband. More unfortunately still, she had relations. When a wife's
relations interpose against a husband who is a gentleman, who is proud,
and who must govern, the consequences are inimical to peace. There
was yet another source of difference between us. Madame Rigaud was
unfortunately a little vulgar. I sought to improve her manners and
ameliorate her general tone; she (supported in this likewise by her
relations) resented my endeavours. Quarrels began to arise between us;
and, propagated and exaggerated by the slanders of the relations of
Madame Rigaud, to become notorious to the neighbours. It has been said
that I treated Madame Rigaud with cruelty. I may have been seen to slap
her face--nothing more. I have a light hand; and if I have been seen
apparently to correct Madame Rigaud in that manner, I have done it
If the playfulness of Monsieur Rigaud were at all expressed by his smile
at this point, the relations of Madame Rigaud might have said that
they would have much preferred his correcting that unfortunate woman
'I am sensitive and brave. I do not advance it as a merit to be
sensitive and brave, but it is my character. If the male relations of
Madame Rigaud had put themselves forward openly, I should have known how
to deal with them. They knew that, and their machinations were conducted
in secret; consequently, Madame Rigaud and I were brought into frequent
and unfortunate collision. Even when I wanted any little sum of money
for my personal expenses, I could not obtain it without collision--and
I, too, a man whose character it is to govern! One night, Madame Rigaud
and myself were walking amicably--I may say like lovers--on a height
overhanging the sea. An evil star occasioned Madame Rigaud to advert to
her relations; I reasoned with her on that subject, and remonstrated on
the want of duty and devotion manifested in her allowing herself to be
influenced by their jealous animosity towards her husband. Madame Rigaud
retorted; I retorted; Madame Rigaud grew warm; I grew warm, and provoked
her. I admit it. Frankness is a part of my character. At length, Madame
Rigaud, in an access of fury that I must ever deplore, threw herself
upon me with screams of passion (no doubt those that were overheard
at some distance), tore my clothes, tore my hair, lacerated my hands,
trampled and trod the dust, and finally leaped over, dashing herself to
death upon the rocks below. Such is the train of incidents which
malice has perverted into my endeavouring to force from Madame Rigaud
a relinquishment of her rights; and, on her persistence in a refusal to
make the concession I required, struggling with her--assassinating her!'
He stepped aside to the ledge where the vine leaves yet lay strewn
about, collected two or three, and stood wiping his hands upon them,
with his back to the light.
'Well,' he demanded after a silence, 'have you nothing to say to all
'It's ugly,' returned the little man, who had risen, and was brightening
his knife upon his shoe, as he leaned an arm against the wall.
'What do you mean?' John Baptist polished his knife in silence.
'Do you mean that I have not represented the case correctly?'
'Al-tro!' returned John Baptist. The word was an apology now, and stood
for 'Oh, by no means!'
'Presidents and tribunals are so prejudiced.'
'Well,' cried the other, uneasily flinging the end of his cloak over his
shoulder with an oath, 'let them do their worst!'
'Truly I think they will,' murmured John Baptist to himself, as he bent
his head to put his knife in his sash.
Nothing more was said on either side, though they both began walking
to and fro, and necessarily crossed at every turn. Monsieur Rigaud
sometimes stopped, as if he were going to put his case in a new light,
or make some irate remonstrance; but Signor Cavalletto continuing to
go slowly to and fro at a grotesque kind of jog-trot pace with his eyes
turned downward, nothing came of these inclinings.
By-and-by the noise of the key in the lock arrested them both. The sound
of voices succeeded, and the tread of feet. The door clashed, the voices
and the feet came on, and the prison-keeper slowly ascended the stairs,
followed by a guard of soldiers.
'Now, Monsieur Rigaud,' said he, pausing for a moment at the grate, with
his keys in his hands, 'have the goodness to come out.'
'I am to depart in state, I see?' 'Why, unless you did,' returned the
jailer, 'you might depart in so many pieces that it would be difficult
to get you together again. There's a crowd, Monsieur Rigaud, and it
doesn't love you.'
He passed on out of sight, and unlocked and unbarred a low door in the
corner of the chamber. 'Now,' said he, as he opened it and appeared
within, 'come out.'
There is no sort of whiteness in all the hues under the sun at all like
the whiteness of Monsieur Rigaud's face as it was then. Neither is there
any expression of the human countenance at all like that expression in
every little line of which the frightened heart is seen to beat. Both
are conventionally compared with death; but the difference is the whole
deep gulf between the struggle done, and the fight at its most desperate
He lighted another of his paper cigars at his companion's; put it
tightly between his teeth; covered his head with a soft slouched hat;
threw the end of his cloak over his shoulder again; and walked out into
the side gallery on which the door opened, without taking any further
notice of Signor Cavalletto. As to that little man himself, his whole
attention had become absorbed in getting near the door and looking out
at it. Precisely as a beast might approach the opened gate of his den
and eye the freedom beyond, he passed those few moments in watching and
peering, until the door was closed upon him.
There was an officer in command of the soldiers; a stout, serviceable,
profoundly calm man, with his drawn sword in his hand, smoking a cigar.
He very briefly directed the placing of Monsieur Rigaud in the midst of
the party, put himself with consummate indifference at their head, gave
the word 'march!' and so they all went jingling down the staircase. The
door clashed--the key turned--and a ray of unusual light, and a breath
of unusual air, seemed to have passed through the jail, vanishing in a
tiny wreath of smoke from the cigar.
Still, in his captivity, like a lower animal--like some impatient ape,
or roused bear of the smaller species--the prisoner, now left solitary,
had jumped upon the ledge, to lose no glimpse of this departure. As he
yet stood clasping the grate with both hands, an uproar broke upon his
hearing; yells, shrieks, oaths, threats, execrations, all comprehended
in it, though (as in a storm) nothing but a raging swell of sound
Excited into a still greater resemblance to a caged wild animal by his
anxiety to know more, the prisoner leaped nimbly down, ran round the
chamber, leaped nimbly up again, clasped the grate and tried to shake
it, leaped down and ran, leaped up and listened, and never rested until
the noise, becoming more and more distant, had died away. How many
better prisoners have worn their noble hearts out so; no man thinking
of it; not even the beloved of their souls realising it; great kings
and governors, who had made them captive, careering in the sunlight
jauntily, and men cheering them on. Even the said great personages dying
in bed, making exemplary ends and sounding speeches; and polite history,
more servile than their instruments, embalming them!
At last, John Baptist, now able to choose his own spot within the
compass of those walls for the exercise of his faculty of going to sleep
when he would, lay down upon the bench, with his face turned over on his
crossed arms, and slumbered. In his submission, in his lightness, in his
good humour, in his short-lived passion, in his easy contentment with
hard bread and hard stones, in his ready sleep, in his fits and starts,
altogether a true son of the land that gave him birth.
The wide stare stared itself out for one while; the Sun went down in
a red, green, golden glory; the stars came out in the heavens, and the
fire-flies mimicked them in the lower air, as men may feebly imitate
the goodness of a better order of beings; the long dusty roads and the
interminable plains were in repose--and so deep a hush was on the sea,
that it scarcely whispered of the time when it shall give up its dead.
CHAPTER 2 Fellow Travellers
'No more of yesterday's howling over yonder to-day, Sir; is there?'
'I have heard none.'
'Then you may be sure there is none. When these people howl, they howl
to be heard.'
'Most people do, I suppose.'
'Ah! but these people are always howling. Never happy otherwise.'
'Do you mean the Marseilles people?'
'I mean the French people. They're always at it. As to Marseilles, we
know what Marseilles is. It sent the most insurrectionary tune into the
world that was ever composed. It couldn't exist without allonging and
marshonging to something or other--victory or death, or blazes, or
The speaker, with a whimsical good humour upon him all the time, looked
over the parapet-wall with the greatest disparagement of Marseilles; and
taking up a determined position by putting his hands in his pockets and
rattling his money at it, apostrophised it with a short laugh.
'Allong and marshong, indeed. It would be more creditable to you,
I think, to let other people allong and marshong about their lawful
business, instead of shutting 'em up in quarantine!'
'Tiresome enough,' said the other. 'But we shall be out to-day.'
'Out to-day!' repeated the first. 'It's almost an aggravation of the
enormity, that we shall be out to-day. Out! What have we ever been in
'For no very strong reason, I must say. But as we come from the East,
and as the East is the country of the plague--'
'The plague!' repeated the other. 'That's my grievance. I have had the
plague continually, ever since I have been here. I am like a sane man
shut up in a madhouse; I can't stand the suspicion of the thing. I came
here as well as ever I was in my life; but to suspect me of the plague
is to give me the plague. And I have had it--and I have got it.'
'You bear it very well, Mr Meagles,' said the second speaker, smiling.
'No. If you knew the real state of the case, that's the last observation
you would think of making. I have been waking up night after night, and
saying, NOW I have got it, NOW it has developed itself, NOW I am in for
it, NOW these fellows are making out their case for their precautions.
Why, I'd as soon have a spit put through me, and be stuck upon a card in
a collection of beetles, as lead the life I have been leading here.'
'Well, Mr Meagles, say no more about it now it's over,' urged a cheerful
'Over!' repeated Mr Meagles, who appeared (though without any
ill-nature) to be in that peculiar state of mind in which the last word
spoken by anybody else is a new injury. 'Over! and why should I say no
more about it because it's over?'
It was Mrs Meagles who had spoken to Mr Meagles; and Mrs Meagles was,
like Mr Meagles, comely and healthy, with a pleasant English face which
had been looking at homely things for five-and-fifty years or more, and
shone with a bright reflection of them.
'There! Never mind, Father, never mind!' said Mrs Meagles. 'For goodness
sake content yourself with Pet.'
'With Pet?' repeated Mr Meagles in his injured vein. Pet, however,
being close behind him, touched him on the shoulder, and Mr Meagles
immediately forgave Marseilles from the bottom of his heart.
Pet was about twenty. A fair girl with rich brown hair hanging free in
natural ringlets. A lovely girl, with a frank face, and wonderful eyes;
so large, so soft, so bright, set to such perfection in her kind good
head. She was round and fresh and dimpled and spoilt, and there was in
Pet an air of timidity and dependence which was the best weakness in
the world, and gave her the only crowning charm a girl so pretty and
pleasant could have been without.
'Now, I ask you,' said Mr Meagles in the blandest confidence, falling
back a step himself, and handing his daughter a step forward to
illustrate his question: 'I ask you simply, as between man and man,
you know, DID you ever hear of such damned nonsense as putting Pet in
'It has had the result of making even quarantine enjoyable.' 'Come!'
said Mr Meagles, 'that's something to be sure. I am obliged to you for
that remark. Now, Pet, my darling, you had better go along with Mother
and get ready for the boat. The officer of health, and a variety of
humbugs in cocked hats, are coming off to let us out of this at last:
and all we jail-birds are to breakfast together in something approaching
to a Christian style again, before we take wing for our different
destinations. Tattycoram, stick you close to your young mistress.'
He spoke to a handsome girl with lustrous dark hair and eyes, and very
neatly dressed, who replied with a half curtsey as she passed off in the
train of Mrs Meagles and Pet. They crossed the bare scorched terrace
all three together, and disappeared through a staring white archway.
Mr Meagles's companion, a grave dark man of forty, still stood looking
towards this archway after they were gone; until Mr Meagles tapped him
on the arm.
'I beg your pardon,' said he, starting.
'Not at all,' said Mr Meagles.
They took one silent turn backward and forward in the shade of the wall,
getting, at the height on which the quarantine barracks are placed, what
cool refreshment of sea breeze there was at seven in the morning. Mr
Meagles's companion resumed the conversation.
'May I ask you,' he said, 'what is the name of--'
'Tattycoram?' Mr Meagles struck in. 'I have not the least idea.'
'I thought,' said the other, 'that--'
'Tattycoram?' suggested Mr Meagles again.
'Thank you--that Tattycoram was a name; and I have several times
wondered at the oddity of it.'
'Why, the fact is,' said Mr Meagles, 'Mrs Meagles and myself are, you
see, practical people.'
'That you have frequently mentioned in the course of the agreeable and
interesting conversations we have had together, walking up and down on
these stones,' said the other, with a half smile breaking through the
gravity of his dark face.
'Practical people. So one day, five or six years ago now, when we took
Pet to church at the Foundling--you have heard of the Foundling Hospital
in London? Similar to the Institution for the Found Children in Paris?'
'I have seen it.'
'Well! One day when we took Pet to church there to hear the
music--because, as practical people, it is the business of our lives to
show her everything that we think can please her--Mother (my usual name
for Mrs Meagles) began to cry so, that it was necessary to take her out.
"What's the matter, Mother?" said I, when we had brought her a little
round: "you are frightening Pet, my dear." "Yes, I know that, Father,"
says Mother, "but I think it's through my loving her so much, that it
ever came into my head." "That ever what came into your head, Mother?"
"O dear, dear!" cried Mother, breaking out again, "when I saw all those
children ranged tier above tier, and appealing from the father none of
them has ever known on earth, to the great Father of us all in Heaven,
I thought, does any wretched mother ever come here, and look among those
young faces, wondering which is the poor child she brought into this
forlorn world, never through all its life to know her love, her kiss,
her face, her voice, even her name!" Now that was practical in Mother,
and I told her so. I said, "Mother, that's what I call practical in you,
The other, not unmoved, assented.
'So I said next day: Now, Mother, I have a proposition to make that I
think you'll approve of. Let us take one of those same little children
to be a little maid to Pet. We are practical people. So if we should
find her temper a little defective, or any of her ways a little wide
of ours, we shall know what we have to take into account. We shall
know what an immense deduction must be made from all the influences and
experiences that have formed us--no parents, no child-brother or sister,
no individuality of home, no Glass Slipper, or Fairy Godmother. And
that's the way we came by Tattycoram.'
'And the name itself--'
'By George!' said Mr Meagles, 'I was forgetting the name itself. Why,
she was called in the Institution, Harriet Beadle--an arbitrary name,
of course. Now, Harriet we changed into Hattey, and then into Tatty,
because, as practical people, we thought even a playful name might be
a new thing to her, and might have a softening and affectionate kind of
effect, don't you see? As to Beadle, that I needn't say was wholly out
of the question. If there is anything that is not to be tolerated on
any terms, anything that is a type of Jack-in-office insolence and
absurdity, anything that represents in coats, waistcoats, and big sticks
our English holding on by nonsense after every one has found it out, it
is a beadle. You haven't seen a beadle lately?'
'As an Englishman who has been more than twenty years in China, no.'
'Then,' said Mr Meagles, laying his forefinger on his companion's breast
with great animation, 'don't you see a beadle, now, if you can help it.
Whenever I see a beadle in full fig, coming down a street on a Sunday
at the head of a charity school, I am obliged to turn and run away, or
I should hit him. The name of Beadle being out of the question, and the
originator of the Institution for these poor foundlings having been a
blessed creature of the name of Coram, we gave that name to Pet's little
maid. At one time she was Tatty, and at one time she was Coram, until we
got into a way of mixing the two names together, and now she is always
'Your daughter,' said the other, when they had taken another silent turn
to and fro, and, after standing for a moment at the wall glancing down
at the sea, had resumed their walk, 'is your only child, I know, Mr
Meagles. May I ask you--in no impertinent curiosity, but because I have
had so much pleasure in your society, may never in this labyrinth of
a world exchange a quiet word with you again, and wish to preserve an
accurate remembrance of you and yours--may I ask you, if I have not
gathered from your good wife that you have had other children?'
'No. No,' said Mr Meagles. 'Not exactly other children. One other
'I am afraid I have inadvertently touched upon a tender theme.'
'Never mind,' said Mr Meagles. 'If I am grave about it, I am not at all
sorrowful. It quiets me for a moment, but does not make me unhappy. Pet
had a twin sister who died when we could just see her eyes--exactly like
Pet's--above the table, as she stood on tiptoe holding by it.'
'Ah! indeed, indeed!'
'Yes, and being practical people, a result has gradually sprung up in
the minds of Mrs Meagles and myself which perhaps you may--or perhaps
you may not--understand. Pet and her baby sister were so exactly alike,
and so completely one, that in our thoughts we have never been able
to separate them since. It would be of no use to tell us that our dead
child was a mere infant. We have changed that child according to the
changes in the child spared to us and always with us. As Pet has grown,
that child has grown; as Pet has become more sensible and womanly, her
sister has become more sensible and womanly by just the same degrees.
It would be as hard to convince me that if I was to pass into the other
world to-morrow, I should not, through the mercy of God, be received
there by a daughter, just like Pet, as to persuade me that Pet herself
is not a reality at my side.' 'I understand you,' said the other,
'As to her,' pursued her father, 'the sudden loss of her little picture
and playfellow, and her early association with that mystery in which we
all have our equal share, but which is not often so forcibly presented
to a child, has necessarily had some influence on her character. Then,
her mother and I were not young when we married, and Pet has always had
a sort of grown-up life with us, though we have tried to adapt ourselves
to her. We have been advised more than once when she has been a
little ailing, to change climate and air for her as often as we
could--especially at about this time of her life--and to keep her
amused. So, as I have no need to stick at a bank-desk now (though I have
been poor enough in my time I assure you, or I should have married Mrs
Meagles long before), we go trotting about the world. This is how you
found us staring at the Nile, and the Pyramids, and the Sphinxes, and
the Desert, and all the rest of it; and this is how Tattycoram will be a
greater traveller in course of time than Captain Cook.'
'I thank you,' said the other, 'very heartily for your confidence.'
'Don't mention it,' returned Mr Meagles, 'I am sure you are quite
welcome. And now, Mr Clennam, perhaps I may ask you whether you have yet
come to a decision where to go next?'
'Indeed, no. I am such a waif and stray everywhere, that I am liable to
be drifted where any current may set.'
'It's extraordinary to me--if you'll excuse my freedom in saying
so--that you don't go straight to London,' said Mr Meagles, in the tone
of a confidential adviser.
'Perhaps I shall.'
'Ay! But I mean with a will.'
'I have no will. That is to say,'--he coloured a little,--'next to none
that I can put in action now. Trained by main force; broken, not bent;
heavily ironed with an object on which I was never consulted and which
was never mine; shipped away to the other end of the world before I
was of age, and exiled there until my father's death there, a year ago;
always grinding in a mill I always hated; what is to be expected from me
in middle life? Will, purpose, hope? All those lights were extinguished
before I could sound the words.'
'Light 'em up again!' said Mr Meagles.
'Ah! Easily said. I am the son, Mr Meagles, of a hard father and
mother. I am the only child of parents who weighed, measured, and priced
everything; for whom what could not be weighed, measured, and priced,
had no existence. Strict people as the phrase is, professors of a stern
religion, their very religion was a gloomy sacrifice of tastes and
sympathies that were never their own, offered up as a part of a bargain
for the security of their possessions. Austere faces, inexorable
discipline, penance in this world and terror in the next--nothing
graceful or gentle anywhere, and the void in my cowed heart
everywhere--this was my childhood, if I may so misuse the word as to
apply it to such a beginning of life.'
'Really though?' said Mr Meagles, made very uncomfortable by the picture
offered to his imagination. 'That was a tough commencement. But come!
You must now study, and profit by, all that lies beyond it, like a
'If the people who are usually called practical, were practical in your
'Why, so they are!' said Mr Meagles.
'Are they indeed?'
'Well, I suppose so,' returned Mr Meagles, thinking about it. 'Eh?
One can but be practical, and Mrs Meagles and myself are nothing else.'
'My unknown course is easier and more helpful than I had expected to
find it, then,' said Clennam, shaking his head with his grave smile.
'Enough of me. Here is the boat.'
The boat was filled with the cocked hats to which Mr Meagles entertained
a national objection; and the wearers of those cocked hats landed
and came up the steps, and all the impounded travellers congregated
together. There was then a mighty production of papers on the part of
the cocked hats, and a calling over of names, and great work of signing,
sealing, stamping, inking, and sanding, with exceedingly blurred,
gritty, and undecipherable results. Finally, everything was done
according to rule, and the travellers were at liberty to depart
whithersoever they would.
They made little account of stare and glare, in the new pleasure of
recovering their freedom, but flitted across the harbour in gay boats,
and reassembled at a great hotel, whence the sun was excluded by closed
lattices, and where bare paved floors, lofty ceilings, and resounding
corridors tempered the intense heat. There, a great table in a great
room was soon profusely covered with a superb repast; and the quarantine
quarters became bare indeed, remembered among dainty dishes, southern
fruits, cooled wines, flowers from Genoa, snow from the mountain tops,
and all the colours of the rainbow flashing in the mirrors.
'But I bear those monotonous walls no ill-will now,' said Mr Meagles.
'One always begins to forgive a place as soon as it's left behind; I
dare say a prisoner begins to relent towards his prison, after he is let
They were about thirty in company, and all talking; but necessarily in
groups. Father and Mother Meagles sat with their daughter between them,
the last three on one side of the table: on the opposite side sat Mr
Clennam; a tall French gentleman with raven hair and beard, of a swart
and terrible, not to say genteelly diabolical aspect, but who had
shown himself the mildest of men; and a handsome young Englishwoman,
travelling quite alone, who had a proud observant face, and had either
withdrawn herself from the rest or been avoided by the rest--nobody,
herself excepted perhaps, could have quite decided which. The rest
of the party were of the usual materials: travellers on business, and
travellers for pleasure; officers from India on leave; merchants in
the Greek and Turkey trades; a clerical English husband in a meek
strait-waistcoat, on a wedding trip with his young wife; a majestic
English mama and papa, of the patrician order, with a family of three
growing-up daughters, who were keeping a journal for the confusion of
their fellow-creatures; and a deaf old English mother, tough in travel,
with a very decidedly grown-up daughter indeed, which daughter went
sketching about the universe in the expectation of ultimately toning
herself off into the married state.
The reserved Englishwoman took up Mr Meagles in his last remark. 'Do
you mean that a prisoner forgives his prison?' said she, slowly and with
'That was my speculation, Miss Wade. I don't pretend to know positively
how a prisoner might feel. I never was one before.'
'Mademoiselle doubts,' said the French gentleman in his own language,
'it's being so easy to forgive?'
Pet had to translate this passage to Mr Meagles, who never by any
accident acquired any knowledge whatever of the language of any country
into which he travelled. 'Oh!' said he. 'Dear me! But that's a pity,
'That I am not credulous?' said Miss Wade.
'Not exactly that. Put it another way. That you can't believe it easy to
'My experience,' she quietly returned, 'has been correcting my belief
in many respects, for some years. It is our natural progress, I have
'Well, well! But it's not natural to bear malice, I hope?' said Mr
'If I had been shut up in any place to pine and suffer, I should always
hate that place and wish to burn it down, or raze it to the ground. I
know no more.' 'Strong, sir?' said Mr Meagles to the Frenchman; it being
another of his habits to address individuals of all nations in idiomatic
English, with a perfect conviction that they were bound to understand
it somehow. 'Rather forcible in our fair friend, you'll agree with me, I
The French gentleman courteously replied, 'Plait-il?' To which Mr
Meagles returned with much satisfaction, 'You are right. My opinion.'
The breakfast beginning by-and-by to languish, Mr Meagles made the
company a speech. It was short enough and sensible enough, considering
that it was a speech at all, and hearty. It merely went to the effect
that as they had all been thrown together by chance, and had all
preserved a good understanding together, and were now about to disperse,
and were not likely ever to find themselves all together again, what
could they do better than bid farewell to one another, and give one
another good-speed in a simultaneous glass of cool champagne all round
the table? It was done, and with a general shaking of hands the assembly
broke up for ever.
The solitary young lady all this time had said no more. She rose with
the rest, and silently withdrew to a remote corner of the great room,
where she sat herself on a couch in a window, seeming to watch the
reflection of the water as it made a silver quivering on the bars of the
lattice. She sat, turned away from the whole length of the apartment, as
if she were lonely of her own haughty choice. And yet it would have been
as difficult as ever to say, positively, whether she avoided the rest,
or was avoided.
The shadow in which she sat, falling like a gloomy veil across her
forehead, accorded very well with the character of her beauty. One could
hardly see the face, so still and scornful, set off by the arched
dark eyebrows, and the folds of dark hair, without wondering what its
expression would be if a change came over it. That it could soften or
relent, appeared next to impossible. That it could deepen into anger or
any extreme of defiance, and that it must change in that direction when
it changed at all, would have been its peculiar impression upon most
observers. It was dressed and trimmed into no ceremony of expression.
Although not an open face, there was no pretence in it. 'I am
self-contained and self-reliant; your opinion is nothing to me; I have
no interest in you, care nothing for you, and see and hear you with
indifference'--this it said plainly. It said so in the proud eyes, in
the lifted nostril, in the handsome but compressed and even cruel mouth.
Cover either two of those channels of expression, and the third would
have said so still. Mask them all, and the mere turn of the head would
have shown an unsubduable nature.
Pet had moved up to her (she had been the subject of remark among her
family and Mr Clennam, who were now the only other occupants of the
room), and was standing at her side.
'Are you'--she turned her eyes, and Pet faltered--'expecting any one to
meet you here, Miss Wade?'
'Father is sending to the Poste Restante. Shall he have the pleasure of
directing the messenger to ask if there are any letters for you?'
'I thank him, but I know there can be none.'
'We are afraid,' said Pet, sitting down beside her, shyly and half
tenderly, 'that you will feel quite deserted when we are all gone.'
'Not,' said Pet, apologetically and embarrassed by her eyes, 'not, of
course, that we are any company to you, or that we have been able to be
so, or that we thought you wished it.'
'I have not intended to make it understood that I did wish it.'
'No. Of course. But--in short,' said Pet, timidly touching her hand as
it lay impassive on the sofa between them, 'will you not allow Father to
tender you any slight assistance or service? He will be very glad.'
'Very glad,' said Mr Meagles, coming forward with his wife and Clennam.
'Anything short of speaking the language, I shall be delighted to
undertake, I am sure.'
'I am obliged to you,' she returned, 'but my arrangements are made, and
I prefer to go my own way in my own manner.'
'Do you?' said Mr Meagles to himself, as he surveyed her with a puzzled
look. 'Well! There's character in that, too.'
'I am not much used to the society of young ladies, and I am afraid I
may not show my appreciation of it as others might. A pleasant journey
to you. Good-bye!'
She would not have put out her hand, it seemed, but that Mr Meagles put
out his so straight before her that she could not pass it. She put hers
in it, and it lay there just as it had lain upon the couch.
'Good-bye!' said Mr Meagles. 'This is the last good-bye upon the list,
for Mother and I have just said it to Mr Clennam here, and he only waits
to say it to Pet. Good-bye! We may never meet again.'
'In our course through life we shall meet the people who are coming to
meet us, from many strange places and by many strange roads,' was the
composed reply; 'and what it is set to us to do to them, and what it is
set to them to do to us, will all be done.' There was something in the
manner of these words that jarred upon Pet's ear. It implied that what
was to be done was necessarily evil, and it caused her to say in a
whisper, 'O Father!' and to shrink childishly, in her spoilt way, a
little closer to him. This was not lost on the speaker.
'Your pretty daughter,' she said, 'starts to think of such things. Yet,'
looking full upon her, 'you may be sure that there are men and women
already on their road, who have their business to do with YOU, and who
will do it. Of a certainty they will do it. They may be coming hundreds,
thousands, of miles over the sea there; they may be close at hand now;
they may be coming, for anything you know or anything you can do to
prevent it, from the vilest sweepings of this very town.'
With the coldest of farewells, and with a certain worn expression on her
beauty that gave it, though scarcely yet in its prime, a wasted look,
she left the room.
Now, there were many stairs and passages that she had to traverse in
passing from that part of the spacious house to the chamber she had
secured for her own occupation. When she had almost completed the
journey, and was passing along the gallery in which her room was, she
heard an angry sound of muttering and sobbing. A door stood open, and
within she saw the attendant upon the girl she had just left; the maid
with the curious name.
She stood still, to look at this maid. A sullen, passionate girl! Her
rich black hair was all about her face, her face was flushed and hot,
and as she sobbed and raged, she plucked at her lips with an unsparing
'Selfish brutes!' said the girl, sobbing and heaving between whiles.
'Not caring what becomes of me! Leaving me here hungry and thirsty and
tired, to starve, for anything they care! Beasts! Devils! Wretches!'
'My poor girl, what is the matter?'
She looked up suddenly, with reddened eyes, and with her hands
suspended, in the act of pinching her neck, freshly disfigured with
great scarlet blots. 'It's nothing to you what's the matter. It don't
signify to any one.'
'O yes it does; I am sorry to see you so.'
'You are not sorry,' said the girl. 'You are glad. You know you are
glad. I never was like this but twice over in the quarantine yonder; and
both times you found me. I am afraid of you.'
'Afraid of me?'
'Yes. You seem to come like my own anger, my own malice, my
own--whatever it is--I don't know what it is. But I am ill-used, I am
ill-used, I am ill-used!' Here the sobs and the tears, and the tearing
hand, which had all been suspended together since the first surprise,
went on together anew.
The visitor stood looking at her with a strange attentive smile. It was
wonderful to see the fury of the contest in the girl, and the bodily
struggle she made as if she were rent by the Demons of old.
'I am younger than she is by two or three years, and yet it's me that
looks after her, as if I was old, and it's she that's always petted and
called Baby! I detest the name. I hate her! They make a fool of her,
they spoil her. She thinks of nothing but herself, she thinks no more of
me than if I was a stock and a stone!' So the girl went on.
'You must have patience.'
'I WON'T have patience!'
'If they take much care of themselves, and little or none of you, you
must not mind it.'
I WILL mind it.'
'Hush! Be more prudent. You forget your dependent position.'
'I don't care for that. I'll run away. I'll do some mischief. I won't
bear it; I can't bear it; I shall die if I try to bear it!'
The observer stood with her hand upon her own bosom, looking at the
girl, as one afflicted with a diseased part might curiously watch the
dissection and exposition of an analogous case.
The girl raged and battled with all the force of her youth and fulness
of life, until by little and little her passionate exclamations trailed
off into broken murmurs as if she were in pain. By corresponding degrees
she sank into a chair, then upon her knees, then upon the ground beside
the bed, drawing the coverlet with her, half to hide her shamed head and
wet hair in it, and half, as it seemed, to embrace it, rather than have
nothing to take to her repentant breast.
'Go away from me, go away from me! When my temper comes upon me, I
am mad. I know I might keep it off if I only tried hard enough, and
sometimes I do try hard enough, and at other times I don't and won't.
What have I said! I knew when I said it, it was all lies. They think I
am being taken care of somewhere, and have all I want.
They are nothing but good to me. I love them dearly; no people could
ever be kinder to a thankless creature than they always are to me. Do,
do go away, for I am afraid of you. I am afraid of myself when I feel my
temper coming, and I am as much afraid of you. Go away from me, and let
me pray and cry myself better!' The day passed on; and again the wide
stare stared itself out; and the hot night was on Marseilles; and
through it the caravan of the morning, all dispersed, went their
appointed ways. And thus ever by day and night, under the sun and under
the stars, climbing the dusty hills and toiling along the weary plains,
journeying by land and journeying by sea, coming and going so strangely,
to meet and to act and react on one another, move all we restless
travellers through the pilgrimage of life.
CHAPTER 3. Home
It was a Sunday evening in London, gloomy, close, and stale. Maddening
church bells of all degrees of dissonance, sharp and flat, cracked
and clear, fast and slow, made the brick-and-mortar echoes hideous.
Melancholy streets, in a penitential garb of soot, steeped the souls of
the people who were condemned to look at them out of windows, in dire
despondency. In every thoroughfare, up almost every alley, and down
almost every turning, some doleful bell was throbbing, jerking, tolling,
as if the Plague were in the city and the dead-carts were going round.
Everything was bolted and barred that could by possibility furnish
relief to an overworked people. No pictures, no unfamiliar animals, no
rare plants or flowers, no natural or artificial wonders of the ancient
world--all TABOO with that enlightened strictness, that the ugly South
Sea gods in the British Museum might have supposed themselves at home
again. Nothing to see but streets, streets, streets. Nothing to breathe
but streets, streets, streets. Nothing to change the brooding mind,
or raise it up. Nothing for the spent toiler to do, but to compare the
monotony of his seventh day with the monotony of his six days, think
what a weary life he led, and make the best of it--or the worst,
according to the probabilities.
At such a happy time, so propitious to the interests of religion and
morality, Mr Arthur Clennam, newly arrived from Marseilles by way of
Dover, and by Dover coach the Blue-eyed Maid, sat in the window of a
coffee-house on Ludgate Hill. Ten thousand responsible houses surrounded
him, frowning as heavily on the streets they composed, as if they were
every one inhabited by the ten young men of the Calender's story, who
blackened their faces and bemoaned their miseries every night. Fifty
thousand lairs surrounded him where people lived so unwholesomely that
fair water put into their crowded rooms on Saturday night, would be
corrupt on Sunday morning; albeit my lord, their county member, was
amazed that they failed to sleep in company with their butcher's meat.
Miles of close wells and pits of houses, where the inhabitants gasped
for air, stretched far away towards every point of the compass. Through
the heart of the town a deadly sewer ebbed and flowed, in the place of
a fine fresh river. What secular want could the million or so of
human beings whose daily labour, six days in the week, lay among these
Arcadian objects, from the sweet sameness of which they had no escape
between the cradle and the grave--what secular want could they possibly
have upon their seventh day? Clearly they could want nothing but a
Mr Arthur Clennam sat in the window of the coffee-house on Ludgate Hill,
counting one of the neighbouring bells, making sentences and burdens of
songs out of it in spite of himself, and wondering how many sick
people it might be the death of in the course of the year. As the hour
approached, its changes of measure made it more and more exasperating.
At the quarter, it went off into a condition of deadly-lively
importunity, urging the populace in a voluble manner to Come to church,
Come to church, Come to church! At the ten minutes, it became aware
that the congregation would be scanty, and slowly hammered out in low
spirits, They WON'T come, they WON'T come, they WON'T come! At the five
minutes, it abandoned hope, and shook every house in the neighbourhood
for three hundred seconds, with one dismal swing per second, as a groan
'Thank Heaven!' said Clennam, when the hour struck, and the bell
But its sound had revived a long train of miserable Sundays, and the
procession would not stop with the bell, but continued to march on.
'Heaven forgive me,' said he, 'and those who trained me. How I have
hated this day!'
There was the dreary Sunday of his childhood, when he sat with his hands
before him, scared out of his senses by a horrible tract which commenced
business with the poor child by asking him in its title, why he was
going to Perdition?--a piece of curiosity that he really, in a frock and
drawers, was not in a condition to satisfy--and which, for the further
attraction of his infant mind, had a parenthesis in every other line
with some such hiccupping reference as 2 Ep. Thess. c. iii, v. 6 &
7. There was the sleepy Sunday of his boyhood, when, like a military
deserter, he was marched to chapel by a picquet of teachers three times
a day, morally handcuffed to another boy; and when he would willingly
have bartered two meals of indigestible sermon for another ounce or
two of inferior mutton at his scanty dinner in the flesh. There was the
interminable Sunday of his nonage; when his mother, stern of face and
unrelenting of heart, would sit all day behind a Bible--bound, like her
own construction of it, in the hardest, barest, and straitest boards,
with one dinted ornament on the cover like the drag of a chain, and a
wrathful sprinkling of red upon the edges of the leaves--as if it, of
all books! were a fortification against sweetness of temper, natural
affection, and gentle intercourse. There was the resentful Sunday of a
little later, when he sat down glowering and glooming through the tardy
length of the day, with a sullen sense of injury in his heart, and no
more real knowledge of the beneficent history of the New Testament than
if he had been bred among idolaters. There was a legion of Sundays,
all days of unserviceable bitterness and mortification, slowly passing
before him. 'Beg pardon, sir,' said a brisk waiter, rubbing the table.
'Wish see bed-room?'
'Yes. I have just made up my mind to do it.'
'Chaymaid!' cried the waiter. 'Gelen box num seven wish see room!'
'Stay!' said Clennam, rousing himself. 'I was not thinking of what I
said; I answered mechanically. I am not going to sleep here. I am going
'Deed, sir? Chaymaid! Gelen box num seven, not go sleep here, gome.'
He sat in the same place as the day died, looking at the dull houses
opposite, and thinking, if the disembodied spirits of former inhabitants
were ever conscious of them, how they must pity themselves for their old
places of imprisonment. Sometimes a face would appear behind the dingy
glass of a window, and would fade away into the gloom as if it had seen
enough of life and had vanished out of it. Presently the rain began to
fall in slanting lines between him and those houses, and people began
to collect under cover of the public passage opposite, and to look out
hopelessly at the sky as the rain dropped thicker and faster. Then wet
umbrellas began to appear, draggled skirts, and mud. What the mud had
been doing with itself, or where it came from, who could say? But it
seemed to collect in a moment, as a crowd will, and in five minutes to
have splashed all the sons and daughters of Adam. The lamplighter was
going his rounds now; and as the fiery jets sprang up under his touch,
one might have fancied them astonished at being suffered to introduce
any show of brightness into such a dismal scene.
Mr Arthur Clennam took up his hat and buttoned his coat, and walked out.
In the country, the rain would have developed a thousand fresh scents,
and every drop would have had its bright association with some beautiful
form of growth or life. In the city, it developed only foul stale
smells, and was a sickly, lukewarm, dirt-stained, wretched addition to
He crossed by St Paul's and went down, at a long angle, almost to the
water's edge, through some of the crooked and descending streets which
lie (and lay more crookedly and closely then) between the river and
Cheapside. Passing, now the mouldy hall of some obsolete Worshipful
Company, now the illuminated windows of a Congregationless Church that
seemed to be waiting for some adventurous Belzoni to dig it out and
discover its history; passing silent warehouses and wharves, and here
and there a narrow alley leading to the river, where a wretched little
bill, FOUND DROWNED, was weeping on the wet wall; he came at last to the
house he sought. An old brick house, so dingy as to be all but black,
standing by itself within a gateway. Before it, a square court-yard
where a shrub or two and a patch of grass were as rank (which is saying
much) as the iron railings enclosing them were rusty; behind it,
a jumble of roots. It was a double house, with long, narrow,
heavily-framed windows. Many years ago, it had had it in its mind to
slide down sideways; it had been propped up, however, and was leaning on
some half-dozen gigantic crutches: which gymnasium for the neighbouring
cats, weather-stained, smoke-blackened, and overgrown with weeds,
appeared in these latter days to be no very sure reliance.
'Nothing changed,' said the traveller, stopping to look round. 'Dark and
miserable as ever. A light in my mother's window, which seems never to
have been extinguished since I came home twice a year from school, and
dragged my box over this pavement. Well, well, well!'
He went up to the door, which had a projecting canopy in carved work
of festooned jack-towels and children's heads with water on the brain,
designed after a once-popular monumental pattern, and knocked. A
shuffling step was soon heard on the stone floor of the hall, and the
door was opened by an old man, bent and dried, but with keen eyes.
He had a candle in his hand, and he held it up for a moment to assist
his keen eyes. 'Ah, Mr Arthur?' he said, without any emotion, 'you are
come at last? Step in.'
Mr Arthur stepped in and shut the door.
'Your figure is filled out, and set,' said the old man, turning to look
at him with the light raised again, and shaking his head; 'but you don't
come up to your father in my opinion. Nor yet your mother.'
'How is my mother?'
'She is as she always is now. Keeps her room when not actually
bedridden, and hasn't been out of it fifteen times in as many years,
Arthur.' They had walked into a spare, meagre dining-room. The old man
had put the candlestick upon the table, and, supporting his right elbow
with his left hand, was smoothing his leathern jaws while he looked at
the visitor. The visitor offered his hand. The old man took it coldly
enough, and seemed to prefer his jaws, to which he returned as soon as
'I doubt if your mother will approve of your coming home on the Sabbath,
Arthur,' he said, shaking his head warily.
'You wouldn't have me go away again?'
'Oh! I? I? I am not the master. It's not what "I" would have. I have
stood between your father and mother for a number of years. I don't
pretend to stand between your mother and you.'
'Will you tell her that I have come home?'
'Yes, Arthur, yes. Oh, to be sure! I'll tell her that you have come
home. Please to wait here. You won't find the room changed.'
He took another candle from a cupboard, lighted it, left the first on
the table, and went upon his errand. He was a short, bald old man, in a
high-shouldered black coat and waistcoat, drab breeches, and long drab
gaiters. He might, from his dress, have been either clerk or servant,
and in fact had long been both. There was nothing about him in the way
of decoration but a watch, which was lowered into the depths of its
proper pocket by an old black ribbon, and had a tarnished copper key
moored above it, to show where it was sunk. His head was awry, and
he had a one-sided, crab-like way with him, as if his foundations had
yielded at about the same time as those of the house, and he ought to
have been propped up in a similar manner.
'How weak am I,' said Arthur Clennam, when he was gone, 'that I could
shed tears at this reception! I, who have never experienced anything
else; who have never expected anything else.' He not only could,
but did. It was the momentary yielding of a nature that had been
disappointed from the dawn of its perceptions, but had not quite given
up all its hopeful yearnings yet. He subdued it, took up the candle,
and examined the room. The old articles of furniture were in their old
places; the Plagues of Egypt, much the dimmer for the fly and smoke
plagues of London, were framed and glazed upon the walls. There was the
old cellaret with nothing in it, lined with lead, like a sort of coffin
in compartments; there was the old dark closet, also with nothing in
it, of which he had been many a time the sole contents, in days of
punishment, when he had regarded it as the veritable entrance to that
bourne to which the tract had found him galloping. There was the large,
hard-featured clock on the sideboard, which he used to see bending its
figured brows upon him with a savage joy when he was behind-hand with
his lessons, and which, when it was wound up once a week with an iron
handle, used to sound as if it were growling in ferocious anticipation
of the miseries into which it would bring him. But here was the old man
come back, saying, 'Arthur, I'll go before and light you.'
Arthur followed him up the staircase, which was panelled off into spaces
like so many mourning tablets, into a dim bed-chamber, the floor of
which had gradually so sunk and settled, that the fire-place was in a
dell. On a black bier-like sofa in this hollow, propped up behind with
one great angular black bolster like the block at a state execution in
the good old times, sat his mother in a widow's dress.
She and his father had been at variance from his earliest remembrance.
To sit speechless himself in the midst of rigid silence, glancing in
dread from the one averted face to the other, had been the peacefullest
occupation of his childhood. She gave him one glassy kiss, and four
stiff fingers muffled in worsted. This embrace concluded, he sat down on
the opposite side of her little table. There was a fire in the grate,
as there had been night and day for fifteen years. There was a kettle on
the hob, as there had been night and day for fifteen years. There was a
little mound of damped ashes on the top of the fire, and another little
mound swept together under the grate, as there had been night and day
for fifteen years. There was a smell of black dye in the airless room,
which the fire had been drawing out of the crape and stuff of the
widow's dress for fifteen months, and out of the bier-like sofa for
'Mother, this is a change from your old active habits.'
'The world has narrowed to these dimensions, Arthur,' she rep lied,
glancing round the room. 'It is well for me that I never set my heart
upon its hollow vanities.'
The old influence of her presence and her stern strong voice, so
gathered about her son, that he felt conscious of a renewal of the timid
chill and reserve of his childhood.
'Do you never leave your room, mother?'
'What with my rheumatic affection, and what with its attendant debility
or nervous weakness--names are of no matter now--I have lost the use
of my limbs. I never leave my room. I have not been outside this door
for--tell him for how long,' she said, speaking over her shoulder.
'A dozen year next Christmas,' returned a cracked voice out of the
'Is that Affery?' said Arthur, looking towards it.
The cracked voice replied that it was Affery: and an old woman came
forward into what doubtful light there was, and kissed her hand once;
then subsided again into the dimness.
'I am able,' said Mrs Clennam, with a slight motion of her
worsted-muffled right hand toward a chair on wheels, standing before a
tall writing cabinet close shut up, 'I am able to attend to my business
duties, and I am thankful for the privilege. It is a great privilege.
But no more of business on this day. It is a bad night, is it not?'
'Does it snow?'
'Snow, mother? And we only yet in September?'
'All seasons are alike to me,' she returned, with a grim kind of
luxuriousness. 'I know nothing of summer and winter, shut up here.
The Lord has been pleased to put me beyond all that.' With her cold grey
eyes and her cold grey hair, and her immovable face, as stiff as the
folds of her stony head-dress,--her being beyond the reach of the
seasons seemed but a fit sequence to her being beyond the reach of all
On her little table lay two or three books, her handkerchief, a pair of
steel spectacles newly taken off, and an old-fashioned gold watch in a
heavy double case. Upon this last object her son's eyes and her own now
'I see that you received the packet I sent you on my father's death,
'I never knew my father to show so much anxiety on any subject, as that
his watch should be sent straight to you.'
'I keep it here as a remembrance of your father.'
'It was not until the last, that he expressed the wish; when he could
only put his hand upon it, and very indistinctly say to me "your
mother." A moment before, I thought him wandering in his mind, as he
had been for many hours--I think he had no consciousness of pain in his
short illness--when I saw him turn himself in his bed and try to open
'Was your father, then, not wandering in his mind when he tried to open
'No. He was quite sensible at that time.'
Mrs Clennam shook her head; whether in dismissal of the deceased or
opposing herself to her son's opinion, was not clearly expressed.
'After my father's death I opened it myself, thinking there might be,
for anything I knew, some memorandum there. However, as I need not tell
you, mother, there was nothing but the old silk watch-paper worked in
beads, which you found (no doubt) in its place between the cases, where
I found and left it.'
Mrs Clennam signified assent; then added, 'No more of business on this
day,' and then added, 'Affery, it is nine o'clock.'
Upon this, the old woman cleared the little table, went out of the room,
and quickly returned with a tray on which was a dish of little rusks and
a small precise pat of butter, cool, symmetrical, white, and plump. The
old man who had been standing by the door in one attitude during the
whole interview, looking at the mother up-stairs as he had looked at the
son down-stairs, went out at the same time, and, after a longer absence,
returned with another tray on which was the greater part of a bottle
of port wine (which, to judge by his panting, he had brought from the
cellar), a lemon, a sugar-basin, and a spice box. With these materials
and the aid of the kettle, he filled a tumbler with a hot and
odorous mixture, measured out and compounded with as much nicety as a
physician's prescription. Into this mixture Mrs Clennam dipped certain
of the rusks, and ate them; while the old woman buttered certain other
of the rusks, which were to be eaten alone. When the invalid had eaten
all the rusks and drunk all the mixture, the two trays were removed;
and the books and the candle, watch, handkerchief, and spectacles were
replaced upon the table. She then put on the spectacles and read certain
passages aloud from a book--sternly, fiercely, wrathfully--praying that
her enemies (she made them by her tone and manner expressly hers) might
be put to the edge of the sword, consumed by fire, smitten by plagues
and leprosy, that their bones might be ground to dust, and that they
might be utterly exterminated. As she read on, years seemed to fall
away from her son like the imaginings of a dream, and all the old dark
horrors of his usual preparation for the sleep of an innocent child to
She shut the book and remained for a little time with her face shaded by
her hand. So did the old man, otherwise still unchanged in attitude; so,
probably, did the old woman in her dimmer part of the room. Then the
sick woman was ready for bed.
'Good night, Arthur. Affery will see to your accommodation. Only touch
me, for my hand is tender.' He touched the worsted muffling of her
hand--that was nothing; if his mother had been sheathed in brass there
would have been no new barrier between them--and followed the old man
and woman down-stairs.
The latter asked him, when they were alone together among the heavy
shadows of the dining-room, would he have some supper?
'No, Affery, no supper.'
'You shall if you like,' said Affery. 'There's her tomorrow's partridge
in the larder--her first this year; say the word and I'll cook it.'
No, he had not long dined, and could eat nothing.
'Have something to drink, then,' said Affery; 'you shall have some of
her bottle of port, if you like. I'll tell Jeremiah that you ordered me
to bring it you.'
No; nor would he have that, either.
'It's no reason, Arthur,' said the old woman, bending over him to
whisper, 'that because I am afeared of my life of 'em, you should be.
You've got half the property, haven't you?'
'Well then, don't you be cowed. You're clever, Arthur, an't you?' He
nodded, as she seemed to expect an answer in the affirmative. 'Then
stand up against them! She's awful clever, and none but a clever one
durst say a word to her. HE'S a clever one--oh, he's a clever one!--and
he gives it her when he has a mind to't, he does!'
'Your husband does?'
'Does? It makes me shake from head to foot, to hear him give it her. My
husband, Jeremiah Flintwinch, can conquer even your mother. What can he
be but a clever one to do that!'
His shuffling footstep coming towards them caused her to retreat to the
other end of the room. Though a tall, hard-favoured, sinewy old woman,
who in her youth might have enlisted in the Foot Guards without much
fear of discovery, she collapsed before the little keen-eyed crab-like
'Now, Affery,' said he, 'now, woman, what are you doing? Can't you find
Master Arthur something or another to pick at?'
Master Arthur repeated his recent refusal to pick at anything.
'Very well, then,' said the old man; 'make his bed. Stir yourself.' His
neck was so twisted that the knotted ends of his white cravat usually
dangled under one ear; his natural acerbity and energy, always
contending with a second nature of habitual repression, gave his
features a swollen and suffused look; and altogether, he had a weird
appearance of having hanged himself at one time or other, and of having
gone about ever since, halter and all, exactly as some timely hand had
cut him down.
'You'll have bitter words together to-morrow, Arthur; you and your
mother,' said Jeremiah. 'Your having given up the business on your
father's death--which she suspects, though we have left it to you to
tell her--won't go off smoothly.'
'I have given up everything in life for the business, and the time came
for me to give up that.'
'Good!' cried Jeremiah, evidently meaning Bad. 'Very good! only don't
expect me to stand between your mother and you, Arthur. I stood between
your mother and your father, fending off this, and fending off that, and
getting crushed and pounded betwixt em; and I've done with such work.'
'You will never be asked to begin it again for me, Jeremiah.'
'Good. I'm glad to hear it; because I should have had to decline it, if
I had been. That's enough--as your mother says--and more than enough of
such matters on a Sabbath night. Affery, woman, have you found what you
She had been collecting sheets and blankets from a press, and hastened
to gather them up, and to reply, 'Yes, Jeremiah.' Arthur Clennam helped
her by carrying the load himself, wished the old man good night, and
went up-stairs with her to the top of the house.
They mounted up and up, through the musty smell of an old close house,
little used, to a large garret bed-room. Meagre and spare, like all the
other rooms, it was even uglier and grimmer than the rest, by being the
place of banishment for the worn-out furniture. Its movables were ugly
old chairs with worn-out seats, and ugly old chairs without any seats;
a threadbare patternless carpet, a maimed table, a crippled wardrobe,
a lean set of fire-irons like the skeleton of a set deceased, a
washing-stand that looked as if it had stood for ages in a hail of
dirty soapsuds, and a bedstead with four bare atomies of posts, each
terminating in a spike, as if for the dismal accommodation of lodgers
who might prefer to impale themselves. Arthur opened the long low
window, and looked out upon the old blasted and blackened forest of
chimneys, and the old red glare in the sky, which had seemed to him once
upon a time but a nightly reflection of the fiery environment that was
presented to his childish fancy in all directions, let it look where it
He drew in his head again, sat down at the bedside, and looked on at
Affery Flintwinch making the bed.
'Affery, you were not married when I went away.'
She screwed her mouth into the form of saying 'No,' shook her head, and
proceeded to get a pillow into its case.
'How did it happen?'
'Why, Jeremiah, o' course,' said Affery, with an end of the pillow-case
between her teeth.
'Of course he proposed it, but how did it all come about? I should have
thought that neither of you would have married; least of all should I
have thought of your marrying each other.'
'No more should I,' said Mrs Flintwinch, tying the pillow tightly in its
'That's what I mean. When did you begin to think otherwise?'
'Never begun to think otherwise at all,' said Mrs Flintwinch.
Seeing, as she patted the pillow into its place on the bolster, that he
was still looking at her as if waiting for the rest of her reply,
she gave it a great poke in the middle, and asked, 'How could I help
'How could you help yourself from being married!'
'O' course,' said Mrs Flintwinch. 'It was no doing o' mine. I'D never
thought of it. I'd got something to do, without thinking, indeed! She
kept me to it (as well as he) when she could go about, and she could go
about then.' 'Well?'
'Well?' echoed Mrs Flintwinch. 'That's what I said myself. Well! What's
the use of considering? If them two clever ones have made up their minds
to it, what's left for me to do? Nothing.'
'Was it my mother's project, then?'
'The Lord bless you, Arthur, and forgive me the wish!' cried Affery,
speaking always in a low tone. 'If they hadn't been both of a mind in
it, how could it ever have been? Jeremiah never courted me; t'ant likely
that he would, after living in the house with me and ordering me
about for as many years as he'd done. He said to me one day, he said,
"Affery," he said, "now I am going to tell you something. What do you
think of the name of Flintwinch?" "What do I think of it?" I says.
"Yes," he said, "because you're going to take it," he said. "Take it?" I
says. "Jere-MI-ah?" Oh! he's a clever one!'
Mrs Flintwinch went on to spread the upper sheet over the bed, and the
blanket over that, and the counterpane over that, as if she had quite
concluded her story. 'Well?' said Arthur again.
'Well?' echoed Mrs Flintwinch again. 'How could I help myself? He said
to me, "Affery, you and me must be married, and I'll tell you why. She's
failing in health, and she'll want pretty constant attendance up in
her room, and we shall have to be much with her, and there'll be nobody
about now but ourselves when we're away from her, and altogether it will
be more convenient. She's of my opinion," he said, "so if you'll put
your bonnet on next Monday morning at eight, we'll get it over."' Mrs
Flintwinch tucked up the bed.
'Well?' repeated Mrs Flintwinch, 'I think so! I sits me down and says
it. Well!--Jeremiah then says to me, "As to banns, next Sunday being the
third time of asking (for I've put 'em up a fortnight), is my reason for
naming Monday. She'll speak to you about it herself, and now she'll find
you prepared, Affery." That same day she spoke to me, and she said, "So,
Affery, I understand that you and Jeremiah are going to be married. I
am glad of it, and so are you, with reason. It is a very good thing for
you, and very welcome under the circumstances to me. He is a sensible
man, and a trustworthy man, and a persevering man, and a pious man."
What could I say when it had come to that? Why, if it had been--a
smothering instead of a wedding,' Mrs Flintwinch cast about in her mind
with great pains for this form of expression, 'I couldn't have said a
word upon it, against them two clever ones.'
'In good faith, I believe so.' 'And so you may, Arthur.'
'Affery, what girl was that in my mother's room just now?'
'Girl?' said Mrs Flintwinch in a rather sharp key.
'It was a girl, surely, whom I saw near you--almost hidden in the dark
'Oh! She? Little Dorrit? She's nothing; she's a whim of--hers.' It was a
peculiarity of Affery Flintwinch that she never spoke of Mrs Clennam
by name. 'But there's another sort of girls than that about. Have you
forgot your old sweetheart? Long and long ago, I'll be bound.'
'I suffered enough from my mother's separating us, to remember her.
I recollect her very well.'
'Have you got another?'
'Here's news for you, then. She's well to do now, and a widow. And if
you like to have her, why you can.'
'And how do you know that, Affery?'
'Them two clever ones have been speaking about it.--There's Jeremiah on
the stairs!' She was gone in a moment.
Mrs Flintwinch had introduced into the web that his mind was busily
weaving, in that old workshop where the loom of his youth had stood, the
last thread wanting to the pattern. The airy folly of a boy's love had
found its way even into that house, and he had been as wretched under
its hopelessness as if the house had been a castle of romance. Little
more than a week ago at Marseilles, the face of the pretty girl from
whom he had parted with regret, had had an unusual interest for him, and
a tender hold upon him, because of some resemblance, real or imagined,
to this first face that had soared out of his gloomy life into the
bright glories of fancy. He leaned upon the sill of the long low window,
and looking out upon the blackened forest of chimneys again, began to
dream; for it had been the uniform tendency of this man's life--so much
was wanting in it to think about, so much that might have been better
directed and happier to speculate upon--to make him a dreamer, after
CHAPTER 4. Mrs Flintwinch has a Dream
When Mrs Flintwinch dreamed, she usually dreamed, unlike the son of her
old mistress, with her eyes shut. She had a curiously vivid dream that
night, and before she had left the son of her old mistress many hours.
In fact it was not at all like a dream; it was so very real in every
respect. It happened in this wise.
The bed-chamber occupied by Mr and Mrs Flintwinch was within a few paces
of that to which Mrs Clennam had been so long confined. It was not on
the same floor, for it was a room at the side of the house, which was
approached by a steep descent of a few odd steps, diverging from the
main staircase nearly opposite to Mrs Clennam's door. It could scarcely
be said to be within call, the walls, doors, and panelling of the old
place were so cumbrous; but it was within easy reach, in any undress,
at any hour of the night, in any temperature. At the head of the bed
and within a foot of Mrs Flintwinch's ear, was a bell, the line of which
hung ready to Mrs Clennam's hand. Whenever this bell rang, up started
Affery, and was in the sick room before she was awake.
Having got her mistress into bed, lighted her lamp, and given her good
night, Mrs Flintwinch went to roost as usual, saving that her lord had
not yet appeared. It was her lord himself who became--unlike the
last theme in the mind, according to the observation of most
philosophers--the subject of Mrs Flintwinch's dream. It seemed to her
that she awoke after sleeping some hours, and found Jeremiah not yet
abed. That she looked at the candle she had left burning, and, measuring
the time like King Alfred the Great, was confirmed by its wasted state
in her belief that she had been asleep for some considerable period.
That she arose thereupon, muffled herself up in a wrapper, put on
her shoes, and went out on the staircase, much surprised, to look for
The staircase was as wooden and solid as need be, and Affery went
straight down it without any of those deviations peculiar to dreams.
She did not skim over it, but walked down it, and guided herself by the
banisters on account of her candle having died out. In one corner of
the hall, behind the house-door, there was a little waiting-room, like a
well-shaft, with a long narrow window in it as if it had been ripped up.
In this room, which was never used, a light was burning.
Mrs Flintwinch crossed the hall, feeling its pavement cold to her
stockingless feet, and peeped in between the rusty hinges on the door,
which stood a little open. She expected to see Jeremiah fast asleep or
in a fit, but he was calmly seated in a chair, awake, and in his usual
health. But what--hey?--Lord forgive us!--Mrs Flintwinch muttered some
ejaculation to this effect, and turned giddy.
For, Mr Flintwinch awake, was watching Mr Flintwinch asleep. He sat on
one side of the small table, looking keenly at himself on the other side
with his chin sunk on his breast, snoring. The waking Flintwinch had his
full front face presented to his wife; the sleeping Flintwinch was
in profile. The waking Flintwinch was the old original; the sleeping
Flintwinch was the double, just as she might have distinguished between
a tangible object and its reflection in a glass, Affery made out this
difference with her head going round and round.
If she had had any doubt which was her own Jeremiah, it would have been
resolved by his impatience. He looked about him for an offensive weapon,
caught up the snuffers, and, before applying them to the cabbage-headed
candle, lunged at the sleeper as though he would have run him through
'Who's that? What's the matter?' cried the sleeper, starting.
Mr Flintwinch made a movement with the snuffers, as if he would have
enforced silence on his companion by putting them down his throat; the
companion, coming to himself, said, rubbing his eyes, 'I forgot where I
'You have been asleep,' snarled Jeremiah, referring to his watch, 'two
hours. You said you would be rested enough if you had a short nap.'
'I have had a short nap,' said Double.
'Half-past two o'clock in the morning,' muttered Jeremiah. 'Where's your
hat? Where's your coat? Where's the box?'
'All here,' said Double, tying up his throat with sleepy carefulness in
a shawl. 'Stop a minute. Now give me the sleeve--not that sleeve, the
other one. Ha! I'm not as young as I was.' Mr Flintwinch had pulled
him into his coat with vehement energy. 'You promised me a second glass
after I was rested.'
'Drink it!' returned Jeremiah, 'and--choke yourself, I was going
to say--but go, I mean.'At the same time he produced the identical
port-wine bottle, and filled a wine-glass.
'Her port-wine, I believe?' said Double, tasting it as if he were in the
Docks, with hours to spare. 'Her health.'
He took a sip.
He took another sip.
He took another sip.
'And all friends round St Paul's.' He emptied and put down the
wine-glass half-way through this ancient civic toast, and took up the
box. It was an iron box some two feet square, which he carried under his
arms pretty easily. Jeremiah watched his manner of adjusting it, with
jealous eyes; tried it with his hands, to be sure that he had a firm
hold of it; bade him for his life be careful what he was about; and then
stole out on tiptoe to open the door for him. Affery, anticipating
the last movement, was on the staircase. The sequence of things was
so ordinary and natural, that, standing there, she could hear the door
open, feel the night air, and see the stars outside.
But now came the most remarkable part of the dream. She felt so afraid
of her husband, that being on the staircase, she had not the power to
retreat to her room (which she might easily have done before he had
fastened the door), but stood there staring. Consequently when he came
up the staircase to bed, candle in hand, he came full upon her. He
looked astonished, but said not a word. He kept his eyes upon her, and
kept advancing; and she, completely under his influence, kept retiring
before him. Thus, she walking backward and he walking forward, they
came into their own room. They were no sooner shut in there, than Mr
Flintwinch took her by the throat, and shook her until she was black in
'Why, Affery, woman--Affery!' said Mr Flintwinch. 'What have you been
dreaming of? Wake up, wake up! What's the matter?'
'The--the matter, Jeremiah?' gasped Mrs Flintwinch, rolling her eyes.
'Why, Affery, woman--Affery! You have been getting out of bed in your
sleep, my dear! I come up, after having fallen asleep myself, below, and
find you in your wrapper here, with the nightmare. Affery, woman,' said
Mr Flintwinch, with a friendly grin on his expressive countenance, 'if
you ever have a dream of this sort again, it'll be a sign of your being
in want of physic. And I'll give you such a dose, old woman--such a
Mrs Flintwinch thanked him and crept into bed.
CHAPTER 5. Family Affairs
As the city clocks struck nine on Monday morning, Mrs Clennam was
wheeled by Jeremiah Flintwinch of the cut-down aspect to her tall
cabinet. When she had unlocked and opened it, and had settled herself
at its desk, Jeremiah withdrew--as it might be, to hang himself more
effectually--and her son appeared.
'Are you any better this morning, mother?'
She shook her head, with the same austere air of luxuriousness that she
had shown over-night when speaking of the weather.
'I shall never be better any more. It is well for me, Arthur, that I
know it and can bear it.'
Sitting with her hands laid separately upon the desk, and the tall
cabinet towering before her, she looked as if she were performing on a
dumb church organ. Her son thought so (it was an old thought with him),
while he took his seat beside it.
She opened a drawer or two, looked over some business papers, and put
them back again. Her severe face had no thread of relaxation in it, by
which any explorer could have been guided to the gloomy labyrinth of her
'Shall I speak of our affairs, mother? Are you inclined to enter upon
'Am I inclined, Arthur? Rather, are you? Your father has been dead a
year and more. I have been at your disposal, and waiting your pleasure,
'There was much to arrange before I could leave; and when I did leave, I
travelled a little for rest and relief.'
She turned her face towards him, as not having heard or understood his
last words. 'For rest and relief.'
She glanced round the sombre room, and appeared from the motion of her
lips to repeat the words to herself, as calling it to witness how little
of either it afforded her.
'Besides, mother, you being sole executrix, and having the direction and
management of the estate, there remained little business, or I might say
none, that I could transact, until you had had time to arrange matters
to your satisfaction.'
'The accounts are made out,' she returned. 'I have them here. The
vouchers have all been examined and passed. You can inspect them when
you like, Arthur; now, if you please.'
'It is quite enough, mother, to know that the business is completed.
Shall I proceed then?'
'Why not?' she said, in her frozen way.
'Mother, our House has done less and less for some years past, and our
dealings have been progressively on the decline. We have never shown
much confidence, or invited much; we have attached no people to us; the
track we have kept is not the track of the time; and we have been
left far behind. I need not dwell on this to you, mother. You know it
'I know what you mean,' she answered, in a qualified tone. 'Even this
old house in which we speak,' pursued her son, 'is an instance of what I
say. In my father's earlier time, and in his uncle's time before him,
it was a place of business--really a place of business, and business
resort. Now, it is a mere anomaly and incongruity here, out of date and
out of purpose. All our consignments have long been made to Rovinghams'
the commission-merchants; and although, as a check upon them, and in
the stewardship of my father's resources, your judgment and watchfulness
have been actively exerted, still those qualities would have influenced
my father's fortunes equally, if you had lived in any private dwelling:
would they not?'
'Do you consider,' she returned, without answering his question, 'that
a house serves no purpose, Arthur, in sheltering your infirm and
afflicted--justly infirm and righteously afflicted--mother?'
'I was speaking only of business purposes.'
'With what object?'
'I am coming to it.'
'I foresee,' she returned, fixing her eyes upon him, 'what it is.
But the Lord forbid that I should repine under any visitation. In my
sinfulness I merit bitter disappointment, and I accept it.'
'Mother, I grieve to hear you speak like this, though I have had my
apprehensions that you would--'
'You knew I would. You knew ME,' she interrupted.
Her son paused for a moment. He had struck fire out of her, and was
'Well!' she said, relapsing into stone. 'Go on. Let me hear.'
'You have anticipated, mother, that I decide for my part, to abandon
the business. I have done with it. I will not take upon myself to advise
you; you will continue it, I see. If I had any influence with you, I
would simply use it to soften your judgment of me in causing you this
disappointment: to represent to you that I have lived the half of a long
term of life, and have never before set my own will against yours. I
cannot say that I have been able to conform myself, in heart and spirit,
to your rules; I cannot say that I believe my forty years have been
profitable or pleasant to myself, or any one; but I have habitually
submitted, and I only ask you to remember it.'
Woe to the suppliant, if such a one there were or ever had been, who had
any concession to look for in the inexorable face at the cabinet. Woe to
the defaulter whose appeal lay to the tribunal where those severe eyes
presided. Great need had the rigid woman of her mystical religion,
veiled in gloom and darkness, with lightnings of cursing, vengeance, and
destruction, flashing through the sable clouds. Forgive us our debts as
we forgive our debtors, was a prayer too poor in spirit for her. Smite
Thou my debtors, Lord, wither them, crush them; do Thou as I would do,
and Thou shalt have my worship: this was the impious tower of stone she
built up to scale Heaven.
'Have you finished, Arthur, or have you anything more to say to me?
I think there can be nothing else. You have been short, but full of
'Mother, I have yet something more to say. It has been upon my mind,
night and day, this long time. It is far more difficult to say than what
I have said. That concerned myself; this concerns us all.'
'Us all! Who are us all?'
'Yourself, myself, my dead father.'
She took her hands from the desk; folded them in her lap; and sat
looking towards the fire, with the impenetrability of an old Egyptian
'You knew my father infinitely better than I ever knew him; and his
reserve with me yielded to you. You were much the stronger, mother, and
directed him. As a child, I knew it as well as I know it now. I knew
that your ascendancy over him was the cause of his going to China to
take care of the business there, while you took care of it here (though
I do not even now know whether these were really terms of separation
that you agreed upon); and that it was your will that I should remain
with you until I was twenty, and then go to him as I did. You will not
be offended by my recalling this, after twenty years?'
'I am waiting to hear why you recall it.'
He lowered his voice, and said, with manifest reluctance, and against
'I want to ask you, mother, whether it ever occurred to you to
At the word Suspect, she turned her eyes momentarily upon her son, with
a dark frown. She then suffered them to seek the fire, as before; but
with the frown fixed above them, as if the sculptor of old Egypt had
indented it in the hard granite face, to frown for ages.
'--that he had any secret remembrance which caused him trouble of
mind--remorse? Whether you ever observed anything in his conduct
suggesting that; or ever spoke to him upon it, or ever heard him hint at
such a thing?'
'I do not understand what kind of secret remembrance you mean to infer
that your father was a prey to,' she returned, after a silence. 'You
speak so mysteriously.'
'Is it possible, mother,' her son leaned forward to be the nearer to her
while he whispered it, and laid his hand nervously upon her desk, 'is
it possible, mother, that he had unhappily wronged any one, and made no
Looking at him wrathfully, she bent herself back in her chair to keep
him further off, but gave him no reply.
'I am deeply sensible, mother, that if this thought has never at any
time flashed upon you, it must seem cruel and unnatural in me, even in
this confidence, to breathe it. But I cannot shake it off.
Time and change (I have tried both before breaking silence) do nothing
to wear it out. Remember, I was with my father. Remember, I saw his face
when he gave the watch into my keeping, and struggled to express that he
sent it as a token you would understand, to you. Remember, I saw him at
the last with the pencil in his failing hand, trying to write some word
for you to read, but to which he could give no shape. The more
remote and cruel this vague suspicion that I have, the stronger the
circumstances that could give it any semblance of probability to me.
For Heaven's sake, let us examine sacredly whether there is any wrong
entrusted to us to set right. No one can help towards it, mother, but
Still so recoiling in her chair that her overpoised weight moved it,
from time to time, a little on its wheels, and gave her the appearance
of a phantom of fierce aspect gliding away from him, she interposed her
left arm, bent at the elbow with the back of her hand towards her face,
between herself and him, and looked at him in a fixed silence.
'In grasping at money and in driving hard bargains--I have begun, and I
must speak of such things now, mother--some one may have been grievously
deceived, injured, ruined. You were the moving power of all this
machinery before my birth; your stronger spirit has been infused into
all my father's dealings for more than two score years. You can set
these doubts at rest, I think, if you will really help me to discover
the truth. Will you, mother?'
He stopped in the hope that she would speak. But her grey hair was not
more immovable in its two folds, than were her firm lips.
'If reparation can be made to any one, if restitution can be made to any
one, let us know it and make it. Nay, mother, if within my means, let ME
make it. I have seen so little happiness come of money; it has brought
within my knowledge so little peace to this house, or to any one
belonging to it, that it is worth less to me than to another. It can buy
me nothing that will not be a reproach and misery to me, if I am haunted
by a suspicion that it darkened my father's last hours with remorse, and
that it is not honestly and justly mine.' There was a bell-rope hanging
on the panelled wall, some two or three yards from the cabinet. By a
swift and sudden action of her foot, she drove her wheeled chair rapidly
back to it and pulled it violently--still holding her arm up in its
shield-like posture, as if he were striking at her, and she warding off
A girl came hurrying in, frightened.
'Send Flintwinch here!'
In a moment the girl had withdrawn, and the old man stood within the
door. 'What! You're hammer and tongs, already, you two?' he said, coolly
stroking his face. 'I thought you would be. I was pretty sure of it.'
'Flintwinch!' said the mother, 'look at my son. Look at him!'
'Well, I AM looking at him,' said Flintwinch.
She stretched out the arm with which she had shielded herself, and as
she went on, pointed at the object of her anger.
'In the very hour of his return almost--before the shoe upon his foot is
dry--he asperses his father's memory to his mother! Asks his mother
to become, with him, a spy upon his father's transactions through a
lifetime! Has misgivings that the goods of this world which we have
painfully got together early and late, with wear and tear and toil and
self-denial, are so much plunder; and asks to whom they shall be given
up, as reparation and restitution!'
Although she said this raging, she said it in a voice so far from being
beyond her control that it was even lower than her usual tone. She also
spoke with great distinctness.
'Reparation!' said she. 'Yes, truly! It is easy for him to talk of
reparation, fresh from journeying and junketing in foreign lands, and
living a life of vanity and pleasure. But let him look at me, in prison,
and in bonds here. I endure without murmuring, because it is appointed
that I shall so make reparation for my sins. Reparation! Is there none
in this room? Has there been none here this fifteen years?'
Thus was she always balancing her bargains with the Majesty of heaven,
posting up the entries to her credit, strictly keeping her set-off, and
claiming her due. She was only remarkable in this, for the force
and emphasis with which she did it. Thousands upon thousands do it,
according to their varying manner, every day.
'Flintwinch, give me that book!'
The old man handed it to her from the table. She put two fingers between
the leaves, closed the book upon them, and held it up to her son in
a threatening way. 'In the days of old, Arthur, treated of in this
commentary, there were pious men, beloved of the Lord, who would have
cursed their sons for less than this: who would have sent them forth,
and sent whole nations forth, if such had supported them, to be avoided
of God and man, and perish, down to the baby at the breast. But I only
tell you that if you ever renew that theme with me, I will renounce you;
I will so dismiss you through that doorway, that you had better have
been motherless from your cradle. I will never see or know you more. And
if, after all, you were to come into this darkened room to look upon me
lying dead, my body should bleed, if I could make it, when you came near
In part relieved by the intensity of this threat, and in part (monstrous
as the fact is) by a general impression that it was in some sort a
religious proceeding, she handed back the book to the old man, and was
'Now,' said Jeremiah; 'premising that I'm not going to stand between you
two, will you let me ask (as I have been called in, and made a third)
what is all this about?'
'Take your version of it,' returned Arthur, finding it left to him to
speak, 'from my mother. Let it rest there. What I have said, was said to
my mother only.' 'Oh!' returned the old man. 'From your mother? Take
it from your mother? Well! But your mother mentioned that you had been
suspecting your father. That's not dutiful, Mr Arthur. Who will you be
'Enough,' said Mrs Clennam, turning her face so that it was addressed
for the moment to the old man only. 'Let no more be said about this.'
'Yes, but stop a bit, stop a bit,' the old man persisted. 'Let us see
how we stand. Have you told Mr Arthur that he mustn't lay offences at
his father's door? That he has no right to do it? That he has no ground
to go upon?'
'I tell him so now.'
'Ah! Exactly,' said the old man. 'You tell him so now. You hadn't told
him so before, and you tell him so now. Ay, ay! That's right! You know I
stood between you and his father so long, that it seems as if death had
made no difference, and I was still standing between you. So I will, and
so in fairness I require to have that plainly put forward. Arthur, you
please to hear that you have no right to mistrust your father, and have
no ground to go upon.'
He put his hands to the back of the wheeled chair, and muttering to
himself, slowly wheeled his mistress back to her cabinet. 'Now,' he
resumed, standing behind her: 'in case I should go away leaving things
half done, and so should be wanted again when you come to the other half
and get into one of your flights, has Arthur told you what he means to
do about the business?'
'He has relinquished it.'
'In favour of nobody, I suppose?'
Mrs Clennam glanced at her son, leaning against one of the windows.
He observed the look and said, 'To my mother, of course. She does what
'And if any pleasure,' she said after a short pause, 'could arise for me
out of the disappointment of my expectations that my son, in the prime
of his life, would infuse new youth and strength into it, and make it
of great profit and power, it would be in advancing an old and faithful
servant. Jeremiah, the captain deserts the ship, but you and I will sink
or float with it.'
Jeremiah, whose eyes glistened as if they saw money, darted a sudden
look at the son, which seemed to say, 'I owe YOU no thanks for this; YOU
have done nothing towards it!' and then told the mother that he thanked
her, and that Affery thanked her, and that he would never desert her,
and that Affery would never desert her. Finally, he hauled up his watch
from its depths, and said, 'Eleven. Time for your oysters!' and with
that change of subject, which involved no change of expression or
manner, rang the bell.
But Mrs Clennam, resolved to treat herself with the greater rigour for
having been supposed to be unacquainted with reparation, refused to
eat her oysters when they were brought. They looked tempting; eight in
number, circularly set out on a white plate on a tray covered with a
white napkin, flanked by a slice of buttered French roll, and a little
compact glass of cool wine and water; but she resisted all persuasions,
and sent them down again--placing the act to her credit, no doubt, in
her Eternal Day-Book.
This refection of oysters was not presided over by Affery, but by the
girl who had appeared when the bell was rung; the same who had been in
the dimly-lighted room last night. Now that he had an opportunity of
observing her, Arthur found that her diminutive figure, small features,
and slight spare dress, gave her the appearance of being much younger
than she was. A woman, probably of not less than two-and-twenty, she
might have been passed in the street for little more than half that
age. Not that her face was very youthful, for in truth there was more
consideration and care in it than naturally belonged to her utmost
years; but she was so little and light, so noiseless and shy, and
appeared so conscious of being out of place among the three hard elders,
that she had all the manner and much of the appearance of a subdued
In a hard way, and in an uncertain way that fluctuated between patronage
and putting down, the sprinkling from a watering-pot and hydraulic
pressure, Mrs Clennam showed an interest in this dependent. Even in the
moment of her entrance, upon the violent ringing of the bell, when the
mother shielded herself with that singular action from the son, Mrs
Clennam's eyes had had some individual recognition in them, which seemed
reserved for her. As there are degrees of hardness in the hardest metal,
and shades of colour in black itself, so, even in the asperity of Mrs
Clennam's demeanour towards all the rest of humanity and towards Little
Dorrit, there was a fine gradation.
Little Dorrit let herself out to do needlework. At so much a day--or at
so little--from eight to eight, Little Dorrit was to be hired. Punctual
to the moment, Little Dorrit appeared; punctual to the moment, Little
Dorrit vanished. What became of Little Dorrit between the two eights was
Another of the moral phenomena of Little Dorrit. Besides her
consideration money, her daily contract included meals. She had an
extraordinary repugnance to dining in company; would never do so, if
it were possible to escape. Would always plead that she had this bit of
work to begin first, or that bit of work to finish first; and would, of
a certainty, scheme and plan--not very cunningly, it would seem, for she
deceived no one--to dine alone. Successful in this, happy in carrying
off her plate anywhere, to make a table of her lap, or a box, or the
ground, or even as was supposed, to stand on tip-toe, dining moderately
at a mantel-shelf; the great anxiety of Little Dorrit's day was set at
It was not easy to make out Little Dorrit's face; she was so retiring,
plied her needle in such removed corners, and started away so scared if
encountered on the stairs. But it seemed to be a pale transparent face,
quick in expression, though not beautiful in feature, its soft hazel
eyes excepted. A delicately bent head, a tiny form, a quick little pair
of busy hands, and a shabby dress--it must needs have been very shabby
to look at all so, being so neat--were Little Dorrit as she sat at work.
For these particulars or generalities concerning Little Dorrit, Mr
Arthur was indebted in the course of the day to his own eyes and to Mrs
Affery's tongue. If Mrs Affery had had any will or way of her own, it
would probably have been unfavourable to Little Dorrit. But as 'them two
clever ones'--Mrs Affery's perpetual reference, in whom her personality
was swallowed up--were agreed to accept Little Dorrit as a matter of
course, she had nothing for it but to follow suit. Similarly, if the
two clever ones had agreed to murder Little Dorrit by candlelight, Mrs
Affery, being required to hold the candle, would no doubt have done it.
In the intervals of roasting the partridge for the invalid chamber, and
preparing a baking-dish of beef and pudding for the dining-room, Mrs
Affery made the communications above set forth; invariably putting
her head in at the door again after she had taken it out, to enforce
resistance to the two clever ones. It appeared to have become a perfect
passion with Mrs Flintwinch, that the only son should be pitted against
In the course of the day, too, Arthur looked through the whole house.
Dull and dark he found it. The gaunt rooms, deserted for years upon
years, seemed to have settled down into a gloomy lethargy from which
nothing could rouse them again. The furniture, at once spare and
lumbering, hid in the rooms rather than furnished them, and there was
no colour in all the house; such colour as had ever been there, had long
ago started away on lost sunbeams--got itself absorbed, perhaps, into
flowers, butterflies, plumage of birds, precious stones, what not. There
was not one straight floor from the foundation to the roof; the ceilings
were so fantastically clouded by smoke and dust, that old women might
have told fortunes in them better than in grouts of tea; the dead-cold
hearths showed no traces of having ever been warmed but in heaps of soot
that had tumbled down the chimneys, and eddied about in little
dusky whirlwinds when the doors were opened. In what had once been
a drawing-room, there were a pair of meagre mirrors, with dismal
processions of black figures carrying black garlands, walking round
the frames; but even these were short of heads and legs, and one
undertaker-like Cupid had swung round on its own axis and got upside
down, and another had fallen off altogether. The room Arthur Clennam's
deceased father had occupied for business purposes, when he first
remembered him, was so unaltered that he might have been imagined still
to keep it invisibly, as his visible relict kept her room up-stairs;
Jeremiah Flintwinch still going between them negotiating. His picture,
dark and gloomy, earnestly speechless on the wall, with the eyes
intently looking at his son as they had looked when life departed from
them, seemed to urge him awfully to the task he had attempted; but as
to any yielding on the part of his mother, he had now no hope, and as to
any other means of setting his distrust at rest, he had abandoned hope a
Down in the cellars, as up in the bed-chambers, old objects that he well
remembered were changed by age and decay, but were still in their
old places; even to empty beer-casks hoary with cobwebs, and empty
wine-bottles with fur and fungus choking up their throats. There, too,
among unusual bottle-racks and pale slants of light from the yard above,
was the strong room stored with old ledgers, which had as musty and
corrupt a smell as if they were regularly balanced, in the dead small
hours, by a nightly resurrection of old book-keepers.
The baking-dish was served up in a penitential manner on a shrunken
cloth at an end of the dining-table, at two o'clock, when he dined with
Mr Flintwinch, the new partner. Mr Flintwinch informed him that his
mother had recovered her equanimity now, and that he need not fear her
again alluding to what had passed in the morning. 'And don't you lay
offences at your father's door, Mr Arthur,' added Jeremiah, 'once for
all, don't do it! Now, we have done with the subject.'
Mr Flintwinch had been already rearranging and dusting his own
particular little office, as if to do honour to his accession to new
dignity. He resumed this occupation when he was replete with beef, had
sucked up all the gravy in the baking-dish with the flat of his knife,
and had drawn liberally on a barrel of small beer in the scullery. Thus
refreshed, he tucked up his shirt-sleeves and went to work again; and Mr
Arthur, watching him as he set about it, plainly saw that his father's
picture, or his father's grave, would be as communicative with him as
this old man.
'Now, Affery, woman,' said Mr Flintwinch, as she crossed the hall. 'You
hadn't made Mr Arthur's bed when I was up there last. Stir yourself.
But Mr Arthur found the house so blank and dreary, and was so unwilling
to assist at another implacable consignment of his mother's enemies
(perhaps himself among them) to mortal disfigurement and immortal ruin,
that he announced his intention of lodging at the coffee-house where he
had left his luggage. Mr Flintwinch taking kindly to the idea of getting
rid of him, and his mother being indifferent, beyond considerations of
saving, to most domestic arrangements that were not bounded by the walls
of her own chamber, he easily carried this point without new offence.
Daily business hours were agreed upon, which his mother, Mr Flintwinch,
and he, were to devote together to a necessary checking of books and
papers; and he left the home he had so lately found, with depressed
But Little Dorrit?
The business hours, allowing for intervals of invalid regimen of oysters
and partridges, during which Clennam refreshed himself with a walk,
were from ten to six for about a fortnight. Sometimes Little Dorrit was
employed at her needle, sometimes not, sometimes appeared as a humble
visitor: which must have been her character on the occasion of his
arrival. His original curiosity augmented every day, as he watched for
her, saw or did not see her, and speculated about her. Influenced by his
predominant idea, he even fell into a habit of discussing with himself
the possibility of her being in some way associated with it. At last he
resolved to watch Little Dorrit and know more of her story.
CHAPTER 6. The Father of the Marshalsea
Thirty years ago there stood, a few doors short of the church of Saint
George, in the borough of Southwark, on the left-hand side of the way
going southward, the Marshalsea Prison. It had stood there many years
before, and it remained there some years afterwards; but it is gone now,
and the world is none the worse without it.
It was an oblong pile of barrack building, partitioned into squalid
houses standing back to back, so that there were no back rooms;
environed by a narrow paved yard, hemmed in by high walls duly spiked at
top. Itself a close and confined prison for debtors, it contained within
it a much closer and more confined jail for smugglers. Offenders against
the revenue laws, and defaulters to excise or customs who had incurred
fines which they were unable to pay, were supposed to be incarcerated
behind an iron-plated door closing up a second prison, consisting of a
strong cell or two, and a blind alley some yard and a half wide, which
formed the mysterious termination of the very limited skittle-ground in
which the Marshalsea debtors bowled down their troubles.
Supposed to be incarcerated there, because the time had rather outgrown
the strong cells and the blind alley. In practice they had come to be
considered a little too bad, though in theory they were quite as good as
ever; which may be observed to be the case at the present day with other
cells that are not at all strong, and with other blind alleys that are
stone-blind. Hence the smugglers habitually consorted with the debtors
(who received them with open arms), except at certain constitutional
moments when somebody came from some Office, to go through some form of
overlooking something which neither he nor anybody else knew anything
about. On these truly British occasions, the smugglers, if any, made a
feint of walking into the strong cells and the blind alley, while this
somebody pretended to do his something: and made a reality of walking
out again as soon as he hadn't done it--neatly epitomising the
administration of most of the public affairs in our right little, tight
There had been taken to the Marshalsea Prison, long before the day when
the sun shone on Marseilles and on the opening of this narrative, a
debtor with whom this narrative has some concern.
He was, at that time, a very amiable and very helpless middle-aged
gentleman, who was going out again directly. Necessarily, he was going
out again directly, because the Marshalsea lock never turned upon a
debtor who was not. He brought in a portmanteau with him, which he
doubted its being worth while to unpack; he was so perfectly clear--like
all the rest of them, the turnkey on the lock said--that he was going
out again directly.
He was a shy, retiring man; well-looking, though in an effeminate style;
with a mild voice, curling hair, and irresolute hands--rings upon the
fingers in those days--which nervously wandered to his trembling lip a
hundred times in the first half-hour of his acquaintance with the jail.
His principal anxiety was about his wife.
'Do you think, sir,' he asked the turnkey, 'that she will be very much
shocked, if she should come to the gate to-morrow morning?'
The turnkey gave it as the result of his experience that some of 'em was
and some of 'em wasn't. In general, more no than yes. 'What like is she,
you see?' he philosophically asked: 'that's what it hinges on.'
'She is very delicate and inexperienced indeed.'
'That,' said the turnkey, 'is agen her.'
'She is so little used to go out alone,' said the debtor, 'that I am at
a loss to think how she will ever make her way here, if she walks.'
'P'raps,' quoth the turnkey, 'she'll take a ackney coach.'
'Perhaps.' The irresolute fingers went to the trembling lip. 'I hope she
will. She may not think of it.'
'Or p'raps,' said the turnkey, offering his suggestions from the the top
of his well-worn wooden stool, as he might have offered them to a child
for whose weakness he felt a compassion, 'p'raps she'll get her brother,
or her sister, to come along with her.'
'She has no brother or sister.'
'Niece, nevy, cousin, serwant, young 'ooman, greengrocer.--Dash it!
One or another on 'em,' said the turnkey, repudiating beforehand the
refusal of all his suggestions.
'I fear--I hope it is not against the rules--that she will bring the
'The children?' said the turnkey. 'And the rules? Why, lord set you
up like a corner pin, we've a reg'lar playground o' children here.
Children! Why we swarm with 'em. How many a you got?'
'Two,' said the debtor, lifting his irresolute hand to his lip again,
and turning into the prison.
The turnkey followed him with his eyes. 'And you another,' he observed
to himself, 'which makes three on you. And your wife another, I'll lay
a crown. Which makes four on you. And another coming, I'll lay
half-a-crown. Which'll make five on you. And I'll go another seven and
sixpence to name which is the helplessest, the unborn baby or you!'
He was right in all his particulars. She came next day with a little
boy of three years old, and a little girl of two, and he stood entirely
'Got a room now; haven't you?' the turnkey asked the debtor after a week
'Yes, I have got a very good room.'
'Any little sticks a coming to furnish it?' said the turnkey.
'I expect a few necessary articles of furniture to be delivered by the
carrier, this afternoon.'
'Missis and little 'uns a coming to keep you company?' asked the
'Why, yes, we think it better that we should not be scattered, even for
a few weeks.'
'Even for a few weeks, OF course,' replied the turnkey. And he followed
him again with his eyes, and nodded his head seven times when he was
The affairs of this debtor were perplexed by a partnership, of which he
knew no more than that he had invested money in it; by legal matters
of assignment and settlement, conveyance here and conveyance there,
suspicion of unlawful preference of creditors in this direction, and of
mysterious spiriting away of property in that; and as nobody on the face
of the earth could be more incapable of explaining any single item in
the heap of confusion than the debtor himself, nothing comprehensible
could be made of his case. To question him in detail, and endeavour
to reconcile his answers; to closet him with accountants and sharp
practitioners, learned in the wiles of insolvency and bankruptcy; was
only to put the case out at compound interest and incomprehensibility.
The irresolute fingers fluttered more and more ineffectually about the
trembling lip on every such occasion, and the sharpest practitioners
gave him up as a hopeless job.
'Out?' said the turnkey, 'he'll never get out, unless his creditors take
him by the shoulders and shove him out.'
He had been there five or six months, when he came running to this
turnkey one forenoon to tell him, breathless and pale, that his wife was
'As anybody might a known she would be,' said the turnkey.
'We intended,' he returned, 'that she should go to a country lodging
only to-morrow. What am I to do! Oh, good heaven, what am I to do!'
'Don't waste your time in clasping your hands and biting your fingers,'
responded the practical turnkey, taking him by the elbow, 'but come
along with me.'
The turnkey conducted him--trembling from head to foot, and constantly
crying under his breath, What was he to do! while his irresolute fingers
bedabbled the tears upon his face--up one of the common staircases in
the prison to a door on the garret story. Upon which door the turnkey
knocked with the handle of his key.
'Come in!' cried a voice inside.
The turnkey, opening the door, disclosed in a wretched, ill-smelling
little room, two hoarse, puffy, red-faced personages seated at a
rickety table, playing at all-fours, smoking pipes, and drinking brandy.
'Doctor,' said the turnkey, 'here's a gentleman's wife in want of you
without a minute's loss of time!'
The doctor's friend was in the positive degree of hoarseness, puffiness,
red-facedness, all-fours, tobacco, dirt, and brandy; the doctor in
the comparative--hoarser, puffier, more red-faced, more all-fourey,
tobaccoer, dirtier, and brandier. The doctor was amazingly shabby, in
a torn and darned rough-weather sea-jacket, out at elbows and eminently
short of buttons (he had been in his time the experienced surgeon
carried by a passenger ship), the dirtiest white trousers conceivable by
mortal man, carpet slippers, and no visible linen. 'Childbed?' said
the doctor. 'I'm the boy!' With that the doctor took a comb from the
chimney-piece and stuck his hair upright--which appeared to be his
way of washing himself--produced a professional chest or case, of most
abject appearance, from the cupboard where his cup and saucer and coals
were, settled his chin in the frowsy wrapper round his neck, and became
a ghastly medical scarecrow.
The doctor and the debtor ran down-stairs, leaving the turnkey to return
to the lock, and made for the debtor's room. All the ladies in the
prison had got hold of the news, and were in the yard. Some of them
had already taken possession of the two children, and were hospitably
carrying them off; others were offering loans of little comforts from
their own scanty store; others were sympathising with the greatest
volubility. The gentlemen prisoners, feeling themselves at a
disadvantage, had for the most part retired, not to say sneaked,
to their rooms; from the open windows of which some of them now
complimented the doctor with whistles as he passed below, while others,
with several stories between them, interchanged sarcastic references to
the prevalent excitement.
It was a hot summer day, and the prison rooms were baking between the
high walls. In the debtor's confined chamber, Mrs Bangham, charwoman and
messenger, who was not a prisoner (though she had been once), but
was the popular medium of communication with the outer world, had
volunteered her services as fly-catcher and general attendant. The walls
and ceiling were blackened with flies. Mrs Bangham, expert in sudden
device, with one hand fanned the patient with a cabbage leaf, and with
the other set traps of vinegar and sugar in gallipots; at the same time
enunciating sentiments of an encouraging and congratulatory nature,
adapted to the occasion.
'The flies trouble you, don't they, my dear?' said Mrs Bangham. 'But
p'raps they'll take your mind off of it, and do you good. What between
the buryin ground, the grocer's, the waggon-stables, and the paunch
trade, the Marshalsea flies gets very large. P'raps they're sent as a
consolation, if we only know'd it. How are you now, my dear? No better?
No, my dear, it ain't to be expected; you'll be worse before you're
better, and you know it, don't you? Yes. That's right! And to think of
a sweet little cherub being born inside the lock! Now ain't it pretty,
ain't THAT something to carry you through it pleasant? Why, we ain't
had such a thing happen here, my dear, not for I couldn't name the time
when. And you a crying too?' said Mrs Bangham, to rally the patient more
and more. 'You! Making yourself so famous! With the flies a falling into
the gallipots by fifties! And everything a going on so well! And here if
there ain't,' said Mrs Bangham as the door opened, 'if there ain't your
dear gentleman along with Dr Haggage! And now indeed we ARE complete, I
The doctor was scarcely the kind of apparition to inspire a patient
with a sense of absolute completeness, but as he presently delivered the
opinion, 'We are as right as we can be, Mrs Bangham, and we shall
come out of this like a house afire;' and as he and Mrs Bangham took
possession of the poor helpless pair, as everybody else and anybody else
had always done, the means at hand were as good on the whole as better
would have been. The special feature in Dr Haggage's treatment of the
case, was his determination to keep Mrs Bangham up to the mark. As thus:
'Mrs Bangham,' said the doctor, before he had been there twenty minutes,
'go outside and fetch a little brandy, or we shall have you giving in.'
'Thank you, sir. But none on my accounts,' said Mrs Bangham.
'Mrs Bangham,' returned the doctor, 'I am in professional attendance
on this lady, and don't choose to allow any discussion on your part. Go
outside and fetch a little brandy, or I foresee that you'll break down.'
'You're to be obeyed, sir,' said Mrs Bangham, rising. 'If you was to put
your own lips to it, I think you wouldn't be the worse, for you look but
'Mrs Bangham,' returned the doctor, 'I am not your business, thank you,
but you are mine. Never you mind ME, if you please. What you have got to
do, is, to do as you are told, and to go and get what I bid you.'
Mrs Bangham submitted; and the doctor, having administered her
potion, took his own. He repeated the treatment every hour, being very
determined with Mrs Bangham. Three or four hours passed; the flies
fell into the traps by hundreds; and at length one little life, hardly
stronger than theirs, appeared among the multitude of lesser deaths.
'A very nice little girl indeed,' said the doctor; 'little, but
well-formed. Halloa, Mrs Bangham! You're looking queer! You be off,
ma'am, this minute, and fetch a little more brandy, or we shall have you
By this time, the rings had begun to fall from the debtor's irresolute
hands, like leaves from a wintry tree. Not one was left upon them that
night, when he put something that chinked into the doctor's greasy palm.
In the meantime Mrs Bangham had been out on an errand to a neighbouring
establishment decorated with three golden balls, where she was very well
'Thank you,' said the doctor, 'thank you. Your good lady is quite
composed. Doing charmingly.'
'I am very happy and very thankful to know it,' said the debtor, 'though
I little thought once, that--'
'That a child would be born to you in a place like this?' said the
doctor. 'Bah, bah, sir, what does it signify? A little more elbow-room
is all we want here. We are quiet here; we don't get badgered here;
there's no knocker here, sir, to be hammered at by creditors and bring a
man's heart into his mouth. Nobody comes here to ask if a man's at
home, and to say he'll stand on the door mat till he is. Nobody writes
threatening letters about money to this place. It's freedom, sir, it's
freedom! I have had to-day's practice at home and abroad, on a march,
and aboard ship, and I'll tell you this: I don't know that I have ever
pursued it under such quiet circumstances as here this day. Elsewhere,
people are restless, worried, hurried about, anxious respecting one
thing, anxious respecting another. Nothing of the kind here, sir. We
have done all that--we know the worst of it; we have got to the bottom,
we can't fall, and what have we found? Peace. That's the word for
it. Peace.' With this profession of faith, the doctor, who was an old
jail-bird, and was more sodden than usual, and had the additional and
unusual stimulus of money in his pocket, returned to his associate and
chum in hoarseness, puffiness, red-facedness, all-fours, tobacco, dirt,
Now, the debtor was a very different man from the doctor, but he had
already begun to travel, by his opposite segment of the circle, to the
same point. Crushed at first by his imprisonment, he had soon found a
dull relief in it. He was under lock and key; but the lock and key that
kept him in, kept numbers of his troubles out. If he had been a man with
strength of purpose to face those troubles and fight them, he might have
broken the net that held him, or broken his heart; but being what he
was, he languidly slipped into this smooth descent, and never more took
one step upward.
When he was relieved of the perplexed affairs that nothing would make
plain, through having them returned upon his hands by a dozen agents in
succession who could make neither beginning, middle, nor end of them or
him, he found his miserable place of refuge a quieter refuge than it
had been before. He had unpacked the portmanteau long ago; and his elder
children now played regularly about the yard, and everybody knew the
baby, and claimed a kind of proprietorship in her.
'Why, I'm getting proud of you,' said his friend the turnkey, one day.
'You'll be the oldest inhabitant soon. The Marshalsea wouldn't be like
the Marshalsea now, without you and your family.'
The turnkey really was proud of him. He would mention him in laudatory
terms to new-comers, when his back was turned. 'You took notice of him,'
he would say, 'that went out of the lodge just now?'
New-comer would probably answer Yes.
'Brought up as a gentleman, he was, if ever a man was. Ed'cated at no
end of expense. Went into the Marshal's house once to try a new piano
for him. Played it, I understand, like one o'clock--beautiful! As to
languages--speaks anything. We've had a Frenchman here in his time, and
it's my opinion he knowed more French than the Frenchman did. We've had
an Italian here in his time, and he shut him up in about half a minute.
You'll find some characters behind other locks, I don't say you won't;
but if you want the top sawyer in such respects as I've mentioned, you
must come to the Marshalsea.'
When his youngest child was eight years old, his wife, who had long been
languishing away--of her own inherent weakness, not that she retained
any greater sensitiveness as to her place of abode than he did--went
upon a visit to a poor friend and old nurse in the country, and died
there. He remained shut up in his room for a fortnight afterwards;
and an attorney's clerk, who was going through the Insolvent Court,
engrossed an address of condolence to him, which looked like a Lease,
and which all the prisoners signed.
When he appeared again he was greyer (he had soon begun to turn grey);
and the turnkey noticed that his hands went often to his trembling lips
again, as they had used to do when he first came in.
But he got pretty well over it in a month or two; and in the meantime
the children played about the yard as regularly as ever, but in black.
Then Mrs Bangham, long popular medium of communication with the outer
world, began to be infirm, and to be found oftener than usual comatose
on pavements, with her basket of purchases spilt, and the change of her
clients ninepence short. His son began to supersede Mrs Bangham, and
to execute commissions in a knowing manner, and to be of the prison
prisonous, of the streets streety.
Time went on, and the turnkey began to fail. His chest swelled, and his
legs got weak, and he was short of breath. The well-worn wooden stool
was 'beyond him,' he complained. He sat in an arm-chair with a cushion,
and sometimes wheezed so, for minutes together, that he couldn't turn
the key. When he was overpowered by these fits, the debtor often turned
it for him. 'You and me,' said the turnkey, one snowy winter's night
when the lodge, with a bright fire in it, was pretty full of company,
'is the oldest inhabitants. I wasn't here myself above seven year before
you. I shan't last long. When I'm off the lock for good and all, you'll
be the Father of the Marshalsea.'
The turnkey went off the lock of this world next day. His words were
remembered and repeated; and tradition afterwards handed down from
generation to generation--a Marshalsea generation might be calculated as
about three months--that the shabby old debtor with the soft manner and
the white hair, was the Father of the Marshalsea.
And he grew to be proud of the title. If any impostor had arisen to
claim it, he would have shed tears in resentment of the attempt to
deprive him of his rights. A disposition began to be perceived in him
to exaggerate the number of years he had been there; it was generally
understood that you must deduct a few from his account; he was vain, the
fleeting generations of debtors said.
All new-comers were presented to him. He was punctilious in the exaction
of this ceremony. The wits would perform the office of introduction with
overcharged pomp and politeness, but they could not easily overstep his
sense of its gravity. He received them in his poor room (he disliked an
introduction in the mere yard, as informal--a thing that might happen
to anybody), with a kind of bowed-down beneficence. They were welcome to
the Marshalsea, he would tell them. Yes, he was the Father of the place.
So the world was kind enough to call him; and so he was, if more than
twenty years of residence gave him a claim to the title. It looked
small at first, but there was very good company there--among a
mixture--necessarily a mixture--and very good air.
It became a not unusual circumstance for letters to be put under his
door at night, enclosing half-a-crown, two half-crowns, now and then at
long intervals even half-a-sovereign, for the Father of the Marshalsea.
'With the compliments of a collegian taking leave.' He received the
gifts as tributes, from admirers, to a public character. Sometimes
these correspondents assumed facetious names, as the Brick, Bellows, Old
Gooseberry, Wideawake, Snooks, Mops, Cutaway, the Dogs-meat Man; but he
considered this in bad taste, and was always a little hurt by it.
In the fulness of time, this correspondence showing signs of wearing
out, and seeming to require an effort on the part of the correspondents
to which in the hurried circumstances of departure many of them might
not be equal, he established the custom of attending collegians of
a certain standing, to the gate, and taking leave of them there. The
collegian under treatment, after shaking hands, would occasionally
stop to wrap up something in a bit of paper, and would come back again
He would look round surprised.'Me?' he would say, with a smile. By
this time the collegian would be up with him, and he would paternally
add,'What have you forgotten? What can I do for you?'
'I forgot to leave this,' the collegian would usually return, 'for the
Father of the Marshalsea.'
'My good sir,' he would rejoin, 'he is infinitely obliged to you.' But,
to the last, the irresolute hand of old would remain in the pocket into
which he had slipped the money during two or three turns about the yard,
lest the transaction should be too conspicuous to the general body of
One afternoon he had been doing the honours of the place to a rather
large party of collegians, who happened to be going out, when, as he was
coming back, he encountered one from the poor side who had been taken in
execution for a small sum a week before, had 'settled' in the course of
that afternoon, and was going out too. The man was a mere Plasterer in
his working dress; had his wife with him, and a bundle; and was in high
'God bless you, sir,' he said in passing.
'And you,' benignantly returned the Father of the Marshalsea.
They were pretty far divided, going their several ways, when the
Plasterer called out, 'I say!--sir!' and came back to him.
'It ain't much,' said the Plasterer, putting a little pile of halfpence
in his hand, 'but it's well meant.'
The Father of the Marshalsea had never been offered tribute in copper
yet. His children often had, and with his perfect acquiescence it had
gone into the common purse to buy meat that he had eaten, and drink that
he had drunk; but fustian splashed with white lime, bestowing halfpence
on him, front to front, was new.
'How dare you!' he said to the man, and feebly burst into tears.
The Plasterer turned him towards the wall, that his face might not be
seen; and the action was so delicate, and the man was so penetrated with
repentance, and asked pardon so honestly, that he could make him no less
acknowledgment than, 'I know you meant it kindly. Say no more.'
'Bless your soul, sir,' urged the Plasterer, 'I did indeed. I'd do more
by you than the rest of 'em do, I fancy.'
'What would you do?' he asked.
'I'd come back to see you, after I was let out.'
'Give me the money again,' said the other, eagerly, 'and I'll keep it,
and never spend it. Thank you for it, thank you! I shall see you again?'
'If I live a week you shall.'
They shook hands and parted. The collegians, assembled in Symposium in
the Snuggery that night, marvelled what had happened to their Father; he
walked so late in the shadows of the yard, and seemed so downcast.
CHAPTER 7. The Child of the Marshalsea
The baby whose first draught of air had been tinctured with Doctor
Haggage's brandy, was handed down among the generations of collegians,
like the tradition of their common parent. In the earlier stages of her
existence, she was handed down in a literal and prosaic sense; it being
almost a part of the entrance footing of every new collegian to nurse
the child who had been born in the college.
'By rights,' remarked the turnkey when she was first shown to him, 'I
ought to be her godfather.'
The debtor irresolutely thought of it for a minute, and said, 'Perhaps
you wouldn't object to really being her godfather?'
'Oh! "I" don't object,' replied the turnkey, 'if you don't.'
Thus it came to pass that she was christened one Sunday afternoon, when
the turnkey, being relieved, was off the lock; and that the turnkey
went up to the font of Saint George's Church, and promised and vowed and
renounced on her behalf, as he himself related when he came back, 'like
a good 'un.'
This invested the turnkey with a new proprietary share in the child,
over and above his former official one. When she began to walk and talk,
he became fond of her; bought a little arm-chair and stood it by the
high fender of the lodge fire-place; liked to have her company when he
was on the lock; and used to bribe her with cheap toys to come and talk
to him. The child, for her part, soon grew so fond of the turnkey that
she would come climbing up the lodge-steps of her own accord at all
hours of the day. When she fell asleep in the little armchair by the
high fender, the turnkey would cover her with his pocket-handkerchief;
and when she sat in it dressing and undressing a doll which soon came
to be unlike dolls on the other side of the lock, and to bear a horrible
family resemblance to Mrs Bangham--he would contemplate her from the
top of his stool with exceeding gentleness. Witnessing these things,
the collegians would express an opinion that the turnkey, who was a
bachelor, had been cut out by nature for a family man. But the turnkey
thanked them, and said, 'No, on the whole it was enough to see other
people's children there.' At what period of her early life the little
creature began to perceive that it was not the habit of all the world to
live locked up in narrow yards surrounded by high walls with spikes at
the top, would be a difficult question to settle. But she was a very,
very little creature indeed, when she had somehow gained the knowledge
that her clasp of her father's hand was to be always loosened at the
door which the great key opened; and that while her own light steps were
free to pass beyond it, his feet must never cross that line. A pitiful
and plaintive look, with which she had begun to regard him when she was
still extremely young, was perhaps a part of this discovery.
With a pitiful and plaintive look for everything, indeed, but with
something in it for only him that was like protection, this Child of
the Marshalsea and the child of the Father of the Marshalsea, sat by her
friend the turnkey in the lodge, kept the family room, or wandered about
the prison-yard, for the first eight years of her life. With a pitiful
and plaintive look for her wayward sister; for her idle brother; for the
high blank walls; for the faded crowd they shut in; for the games of the
prison children as they whooped and ran, and played at hide-and-seek,
and made the iron bars of the inner gateway 'Home.'
Wistful and wondering, she would sit in summer weather by the high
fender in the lodge, looking up at the sky through the barred window,
until, when she turned her eyes away, bars of light would arise between
her and her friend, and she would see him through a grating, too.
'Thinking of the fields,' the turnkey said once, after watching her,
'Where are they?' she inquired.
'Why, they're--over there, my dear,' said the turnkey, with a vague
flourish of his key. 'Just about there.'
'Does anybody open them, and shut them? Are they locked?'
The turnkey was discomfited. 'Well,' he said. 'Not in general.'
'Are they very pretty, Bob?' She called him Bob, by his own particular
request and instruction.
'Lovely. Full of flowers. There's buttercups, and there's daisies,
and there's'--the turnkey hesitated, being short of floral
nomenclature--'there's dandelions, and all manner of games.'
'Is it very pleasant to be there, Bob?'
'Prime,' said the turnkey.
'Was father ever there?'
'Hem!' coughed the turnkey. 'O yes, he was there, sometimes.'
'Is he sorry not to be there now?'
'N-not particular,' said the turnkey.
'Nor any of the people?' she asked, glancing at the listless crowd
within. 'O are you quite sure and certain, Bob?'
At this difficult point of the conversation Bob gave in, and changed the
subject to hard-bake: always his last resource when he found his little
friend getting him into a political, social, or theological corner.
But this was the origin of a series of Sunday excursions that these two
curious companions made together. They used to issue from the lodge on
alternate Sunday afternoons with great gravity, bound for some meadows
or green lanes that had been elaborately appointed by the turnkey in
the course of the week; and there she picked grass and flowers to bring
home, while he smoked his pipe. Afterwards, there were tea-gardens,
shrimps, ale, and other delicacies; and then they would come back hand
in hand, unless she was more than usually tired, and had fallen asleep
on his shoulder.
In those early days, the turnkey first began profoundly to consider
a question which cost him so much mental labour, that it remained
undetermined on the day of his death. He decided to will and bequeath
his little property of savings to his godchild, and the point arose how
could it be so 'tied up' as that only she should have the benefit of
it? His experience on the lock gave him such an acute perception of the
enormous difficulty of 'tying up' money with any approach to tightness,
and contrariwise of the remarkable ease with which it got loose, that
through a series of years he regularly propounded this knotty point to
every new insolvent agent and other professional gentleman who passed in
'Supposing,' he would say, stating the case with his key on the
professional gentleman's waistcoat; 'supposing a man wanted to leave his
property to a young female, and wanted to tie it up so that nobody else
should ever be able to make a grab at it; how would you tie up that
'Settle it strictly on herself,' the professional gentleman would
'But look here,' quoth the turnkey. 'Supposing she had, say a brother,
say a father, say a husband, who would be likely to make a grab at that
property when she came into it--how about that?'
'It would be settled on herself, and they would have no more legal claim
on it than you,' would be the professional answer.
'Stop a bit,' said the turnkey. 'Supposing she was tender-hearted, and
they came over her. Where's your law for tying it up then?'
The deepest character whom the turnkey sounded, was unable to produce
his law for tying such a knot as that. So, the turnkey thought about it
all his life, and died intestate after all.
But that was long afterwards, when his god-daughter was past sixteen.
The first half of that space of her life was only just accomplished,
when her pitiful and plaintive look saw her father a widower. From that
time the protection that her wondering eyes had expressed towards him,
became embodied in action, and the Child of the Marshalsea took upon
herself a new relation towards the Father.
At first, such a baby could do little more than sit with him, deserting
her livelier place by the high fender, and quietly watching him. But
this made her so far necessary to him that he became accustomed to her,
and began to be sensible of missing her when she was not there. Through
this little gate, she passed out of childhood into the care-laden world.
What her pitiful look saw, at that early time, in her father, in her
sister, in her brother, in the jail; how much, or how little of the
wretched truth it pleased God to make visible to her; lies hidden with
many mysteries. It is enough that she was inspired to be something which
was not what the rest were, and to be that something, different and
laborious, for the sake of the rest. Inspired? Yes. Shall we speak of
the inspiration of a poet or a priest, and not of the heart impelled by
love and self-devotion to the lowliest work in the lowliest way of life!
With no earthly friend to help her, or so much as to see her, but the
one so strangely assorted; with no knowledge even of the common daily
tone and habits of the common members of the free community who are not
shut up in prisons; born and bred in a social condition, false even with
a reference to the falsest condition outside the walls; drinking from
infancy of a well whose waters had their own peculiar stain, their own
unwholesome and unnatural taste; the Child of the Marshalsea began her
No matter through what mistakes and discouragements, what ridicule (not
unkindly meant, but deeply felt) of her youth and little figure, what
humble consciousness of her own babyhood and want of strength, even
in the matter of lifting and carrying; through how much weariness
and hopelessness, and how many secret tears; she drudged on, until
recognised as useful, even indispensable. That time came. She took the
place of eldest of the three, in all things but precedence; was the
head of the fallen family; and bore, in her own heart, its anxieties and
At thirteen, she could read and keep accounts, that is, could put down
in words and figures how much the bare necessaries that they wanted
would cost, and how much less they had to buy them with. She had been,
by snatches of a few weeks at a time, to an evening school outside,
and got her sister and brother sent to day-schools by desultory starts,
during three or four years. There was no instruction for any of them at
home; but she knew well--no one better--that a man so broken as to be
the Father of the Marshalsea, could be no father to his own children.
To these scanty means of improvement, she added another of her own
contriving. Once, among the heterogeneous crowd of inmates there
appeared a dancing-master. Her sister had a great desire to learn the
dancing-master's art, and seemed to have a taste that way. At thirteen
years old, the Child of the Marshalsea presented herself to the
dancing-master, with a little bag in her hand, and preferred her humble
'If you please, I was born here, sir.'
'Oh! You are the young lady, are you?' said the dancing-master,
surveying the small figure and uplifted face.
'And what can I do for you?' said the dancing-master.
'Nothing for me, sir, thank you,' anxiously undrawing the strings of
the little bag; 'but if, while you stay here, you could be so kind as to
teach my sister cheap--'
'My child, I'll teach her for nothing,' said the dancing-master,
shutting up the bag. He was as good-natured a dancing-master as ever
danced to the Insolvent Court, and he kept his word. The sister was so
apt a pupil, and the dancing-master had such abundant leisure to bestow
upon her (for it took him a matter of ten weeks to set to his creditors,
lead off, turn the Commissioners, and right and left back to his
professional pursuits), that wonderful progress was made. Indeed the
dancing-master was so proud of it, and so wishful to display it before
he left to a few select friends among the collegians, that at six
o'clock on a certain fine morning, a minuet de la cour came off in
the yard--the college-rooms being of too confined proportions for the
purpose--in which so much ground was covered, and the steps were so
conscientiously executed, that the dancing-master, having to play the
kit besides, was thoroughly blown.
The success of this beginning, which led to the dancing-master's
continuing his instruction after his release, emboldened the poor child
to try again. She watched and waited months for a seamstress. In the
fulness of time a milliner came in, and to her she repaired on her own
'I beg your pardon, ma'am,' she said, looking timidly round the door of
the milliner, whom she found in tears and in bed: 'but I was born here.'
Everybody seemed to hear of her as soon as they arrived; for the
milliner sat up in bed, drying her eyes, and said, just as the
dancing-master had said:
'Oh! You are the child, are you?'
'I am sorry I haven't got anything for you,' said the milliner, shaking
'It's not that, ma'am. If you please I want to learn needle-work.'
'Why should you do that,' returned the milliner, 'with me before you? It
has not done me much good.'
'Nothing--whatever it is--seems to have done anybody much good who comes
here,' she returned in all simplicity; 'but I want to learn just the
'I am afraid you are so weak, you see,' the milliner objected.
'I don't think I am weak, ma'am.'
'And you are so very, very little, you see,' the milliner objected.
'Yes, I am afraid I am very little indeed,' returned the Child of the
Marshalsea; and so began to sob over that unfortunate defect of hers,
which came so often in her way. The milliner--who was not morose or
hard-hearted, only newly insolvent--was touched, took her in hand with
goodwill, found her the most patient and earnest of pupils, and made her
a cunning work-woman in course of time.
In course of time, and in the very self-same course of time, the Father
of the Marshalsea gradually developed a new flower of character. The
more Fatherly he grew as to the Marshalsea, and the more dependent he
became on the contributions of his changing family, the greater stand
he made by his forlorn gentility. With the same hand that he pocketed
a collegian's half-crown half an hour ago, he would wipe away the
tears that streamed over his cheeks if any reference were made to his
daughters' earning their bread. So, over and above other daily cares,
the Child of the Marshalsea had always upon her the care of preserving
the genteel fiction that they were all idle beggars together.
The sister became a dancer. There was a ruined uncle in the family
group--ruined by his brother, the Father of the Marshalsea, and knowing
no more how than his ruiner did, but accepting the fact as an inevitable
certainty--on whom her protection devolved. Naturally a retired and
simple man, he had shown no particular sense of being ruined at the time
when that calamity fell upon him, further than that he left off washing
himself when the shock was announced, and never took to that luxury any
more. He had been a very indifferent musical amateur in his better days;
and when he fell with his brother, resorted for support to playing a
clarionet as dirty as himself in a small Theatre Orchestra. It was the
theatre in which his niece became a dancer; he had been a fixture there
a long time when she took her poor station in it; and he accepted
the task of serving as her escort and guardian, just as he would have
accepted an illness, a legacy, a feast, starvation--anything but soap.
To enable this girl to earn her few weekly shillings, it was necessary
for the Child of the Marshalsea to go through an elaborate form with the
'Fanny is not going to live with us just now, father. She will be here a
good deal in the day, but she is going to live outside with uncle.'
'You surprise me. Why?'
'I think uncle wants a companion, father. He should be attended to, and
'A companion? He passes much of his time here. And you attend to him and
look after him, Amy, a great deal more than ever your sister will. You
all go out so much; you all go out so much.'
This was to keep up the ceremony and pretence of his having no idea that
Amy herself went out by the day to work.
'But we are always glad to come home, father; now, are we not? And as to
Fanny, perhaps besides keeping uncle company and taking care of him, it
may be as well for her not quite to live here, always. She was not born
here as I was, you know, father.'
'Well, Amy, well. I don't quite follow you, but it's natural I suppose
that Fanny should prefer to be outside, and even that you often should,
too. So, you and Fanny and your uncle, my dear, shall have your own way.
Good, good. I'll not meddle; don't mind me.'
To get her brother out of the prison; out of the succession to Mrs
Bangham in executing commissions, and out of the slang interchange with
very doubtful companions consequent upon both; was her hardest task. At
eighteen he would have dragged on from hand to mouth, from hour to hour,
from penny to penny, until eighty. Nobody got into the prison from whom
he derived anything useful or good, and she could find no patron for him
but her old friend and godfather.
'Dear Bob,' said she, 'what is to become of poor Tip?' His name was
Edward, and Ted had been transformed into Tip, within the walls.
The turnkey had strong private opinions as to what would become of
poor Tip, and had even gone so far with the view of averting their
fulfilment, as to sound Tip in reference to the expediency of running
away and going to serve his country. But Tip had thanked him, and said
he didn't seem to care for his country.
'Well, my dear,' said the turnkey, 'something ought to be done with him.
Suppose I try and get him into the law?'
'That would be so good of you, Bob!'
The turnkey had now two points to put to the professional gentlemen as
they passed in and out. He put this second one so perseveringly that
a stool and twelve shillings a week were at last found for Tip in the
office of an attorney in a great National Palladium called the Palace
Court; at that time one of a considerable list of everlasting bulwarks
to the dignity and safety of Albion, whose places know them no more.
Tip languished in Clifford's Inns for six months, and at the expiration
of that term sauntered back one evening with his hands in his pockets,
and incidentally observed to his sister that he was not going back
'Not going back again?' said the poor little anxious Child of the
Marshalsea, always calculating and planning for Tip, in the front rank
of her charges.
'I am so tired of it,' said Tip, 'that I have cut it.'
Tip tired of everything. With intervals of Marshalsea lounging, and Mrs
Bangham succession, his small second mother, aided by her trusty friend,
got him into a warehouse, into a market garden, into the hop trade,
into the law again, into an auctioneers, into a brewery, into a
stockbroker's, into the law again, into a coach office, into a waggon
office, into the law again, into a general dealer's, into a distillery,
into the law again, into a wool house, into a dry goods house, into the
Billingsgate trade, into the foreign fruit trade, and into the docks.
But whatever Tip went into, he came out of tired, announcing that he
had cut it. Wherever he went, this foredoomed Tip appeared to take the
prison walls with him, and to set them up in such trade or calling;
and to prowl about within their narrow limits in the old slip-shod,
purposeless, down-at-heel way; until the real immovable Marshalsea walls
asserted their fascination over him, and brought him back.
Nevertheless, the brave little creature did so fix her heart on her
brother's rescue, that while he was ringing out these doleful changes,
she pinched and scraped enough together to ship him for Canada. When he
was tired of nothing to do, and disposed in its turn to cut even that,
he graciously consented to go to Canada. And there was grief in her
bosom over parting with him, and joy in the hope of his being put in a
straight course at last.
'God bless you, dear Tip. Don't be too proud to come and see us, when
you have made your fortune.'
'All right!' said Tip, and went.
But not all the way to Canada; in fact, not further than Liverpool.
After making the voyage to that port from London, he found himself
so strongly impelled to cut the vessel, that he resolved to walk back
again. Carrying out which intention, he presented himself before her at
the expiration of a month, in rags, without shoes, and much more tired
than ever. At length, after another interval of successorship to Mrs
Bangham, he found a pursuit for himself, and announced it.
'Amy, I have got a situation.'
'Have you really and truly, Tip?'
'All right. I shall do now. You needn't look anxious about me any more,
'What is it, Tip?'
'Why, you know Slingo by sight?'
'Not the man they call the dealer?'
'That's the chap. He'll be out on Monday, and he's going to give me a
'What is he a dealer in, Tip?'
'Horses. All right! I shall do now, Amy.'
She lost sight of him for months afterwards, and only heard from him
once. A whisper passed among the elder collegians that he had been seen
at a mock auction in Moorfields, pretending to buy plated articles for
massive silver, and paying for them with the greatest liberality in
bank notes; but it never reached her ears. One evening she was alone at
work--standing up at the window, to save the twilight lingering above
the wall--when he opened the door and walked in.
She kissed and welcomed him; but was afraid to ask him any questions. He
saw how anxious and timid she was, and appeared sorry.
'I am afraid, Amy, you'll be vexed this time. Upon my life I am!'
'I am very sorry to hear you say so, Tip. Have you come back?'
'Not expecting this time that what you had found would answer very well,
I am less surprised and sorry than I might have been, Tip.'
'Ah! But that's not the worst of it.'
'Not the worst of it?'
'Don't look so startled. No, Amy, not the worst of it. I have come back,
you see; but--DON'T look so startled--I have come back in what I may
call a new way. I am off the volunteer list altogether. I am in now, as
one of the regulars.'
'Oh! Don't say you are a prisoner, Tip! Don't, don't!'
'Well, I don't want to say it,' he returned in a reluctant tone; 'but if
you can't understand me without my saying it, what am I to do? I am in
for forty pound odd.'
For the first time in all those years, she sunk under her cares. She
cried, with her clasped hands lifted above her head, that it would kill
their father if he ever knew it; and fell down at Tip's graceless feet.
It was easier for Tip to bring her to her senses than for her to bring
him to understand that the Father of the Marshalsea would be beside
himself if he knew the truth. The thing was incomprehensible to Tip, and
altogether a fanciful notion. He yielded to it in that light only, when
he submitted to her entreaties, backed by those of his uncle and sister.
There was no want of precedent for his return; it was accounted for
to the father in the usual way; and the collegians, with a better
comprehension of the pious fraud than Tip, supported it loyally.
This was the life, and this the history, of the child of the Marshalsea
at twenty-two. With a still surviving attachment to the one miserable
yard and block of houses as her birthplace and home, she passed to and
fro in it shrinkingly now, with a womanly consciousness that she was
pointed out to every one. Since she had begun to work beyond the walls,
she had found it necessary to conceal where she lived, and to come and
go as secretly as she could, between the free city and the iron gates,
outside of which she had never slept in her life. Her original timidity
had grown with this concealment, and her light step and her little
figure shunned the thronged streets while they passed along them.
Worldly wise in hard and poor necessities, she was innocent in all
things else. Innocent, in the mist through which she saw her father,
and the prison, and the turbid living river that flowed through it and
This was the life, and this the history, of Little Dorrit; now going
home upon a dull September evening, observed at a distance by Arthur
Clennam. This was the life, and this the history, of Little Dorrit;
turning at the end of London Bridge, recrossing it, going back again,
passing on to Saint George's Church, turning back suddenly once more,
and flitting in at the open outer gate and little court-yard of the
CHAPTER 8. The Lock
Arthur Clennam stood in the street, waiting to ask some passer-by what
place that was. He suffered a few people to pass him in whose face there
was no encouragement to make the inquiry, and still stood pausing in the
street, when an old man came up and turned into the courtyard.
He stooped a good deal, and plodded along in a slow pre-occupied manner,
which made the bustling London thoroughfares no very safe resort for
him. He was dirtily and meanly dressed, in a threadbare coat, once blue,
reaching to his ankles and buttoned to his chin, where it vanished in
the pale ghost of a velvet collar. A piece of red cloth with which that
phantom had been stiffened in its lifetime was now laid bare, and poked
itself up, at the back of the old man's neck, into a confusion of grey
hair and rusty stock and buckle which altogether nearly poked his
hat off. A greasy hat it was, and a napless; impending over his eyes,
cracked and crumpled at the brim, and with a wisp of pocket-handkerchief
dangling out below it. His trousers were so long and loose, and his
shoes so clumsy and large, that he shuffled like an elephant; though how
much of this was gait, and how much trailing cloth and leather, no one
could have told. Under one arm he carried a limp and worn-out case,
containing some wind instrument; in the same hand he had a pennyworth
of snuff in a little packet of whitey-brown paper, from which he slowly
comforted his poor blue old nose with a lengthened-out pinch, as Arthur
Clennam looked at him. To this old man crossing the court-yard, he
preferred his inquiry, touching him on the shoulder. The old man stopped
and looked round, with the expression in his weak grey eyes of one whose
thoughts had been far off, and who was a little dull of hearing also.
'Pray, sir,' said Arthur, repeating his question, 'what is this place?'
'Ay! This place?' returned the old man, staying his pinch of snuff on
its road, and pointing at the place without looking at it. 'This is the
'The debtors' prison?'
'Sir,' said the old man, with the air of deeming it not quite necessary
to insist upon that designation, 'the debtors' prison.'
He turned himself about, and went on.
'I beg your pardon,' said Arthur, stopping him once more, 'but will you
allow me to ask you another question? Can any one go in here?'
'Any one can go IN,' replied the old man; plainly adding by the
significance of his emphasis, 'but it is not every one who can go out.'
'Pardon me once more. Are you familiar with the place?'
'Sir,' returned the old man, squeezing his little packet of snuff in his
hand, and turning upon his interrogator as if such questions hurt him.
'I beg you to excuse me. I am not impertinently curious, but have a good
object. Do you know the name of Dorrit here?'
'My name, sir,' replied the old man most unexpectedly, 'is Dorrit.'
Arthur pulled off his hat to him. 'Grant me the favour of half-a-dozen
words. I was wholly unprepared for your announcement, and hope that
assurance is my sufficient apology for having taken the liberty of
addressing you. I have recently come home to England after a long
absence. I have seen at my mother's--Mrs Clennam in the city--a young
woman working at her needle, whom I have only heard addressed or spoken
of as Little Dorrit. I have felt sincerely interested in her, and have
had a great desire to know something more about her. I saw her, not a
minute before you came up, pass in at that door.'
The old man looked at him attentively. 'Are you a sailor, sir?' he
asked. He seemed a little disappointed by the shake of the head that
replied to him. 'Not a sailor? I judged from your sunburnt face that you
might be. Are you in earnest, sir?'
'I do assure you that I am, and do entreat you to believe that I am, in
'I know very little of the world, sir,' returned the other, who had a
weak and quavering voice. 'I am merely passing on, like the shadow over
the sun-dial. It would be worth no man's while to mislead me; it would
really be too easy--too poor a success, to yield any satisfaction. The
young woman whom you saw go in here is my brother's child. My brother
is William Dorrit; I am Frederick. You say you have seen her at your
mother's (I know your mother befriends her), you have felt an interest
in her, and you wish to know what she does here. Come and see.'
He went on again, and Arthur accompanied him.
'My brother,' said the old man, pausing on the step and slowly facing
round again, 'has been here many years; and much that happens even among
ourselves, out of doors, is kept from him for reasons that I needn't
enter upon now. Be so good as to say nothing of my niece's working at
her needle. Be so good as to say nothing that goes beyond what is said
among us. If you keep within our bounds, you cannot well be wrong. Now!
Come and see.'
Arthur followed him down a narrow entry, at the end of which a key was
turned, and a strong door was opened from within. It admitted them into
a lodge or lobby, across which they passed, and so through another door
and a grating into the prison. The old man always plodding on before,
turned round, in his slow, stiff, stooping manner, when they came to the
turnkey on duty, as if to present his companion. The turnkey nodded; and
the companion passed in without being asked whom he wanted.
The night was dark; and the prison lamps in the yard, and the candles in
the prison windows faintly shining behind many sorts of wry old curtain
and blind, had not the air of making it lighter. A few people loitered
about, but the greater part of the population was within doors. The old
man, taking the right-hand side of the yard, turned in at the third or
fourth doorway, and began to ascend the stairs. 'They are rather dark,
sir, but you will not find anything in the way.'
He paused for a moment before opening a door on the second story. He had
no sooner turned the handle than the visitor saw Little Dorrit, and saw
the reason of her setting so much store by dining alone.
She had brought the meat home that she should have eaten herself, and
was already warming it on a gridiron over the fire for her father, clad
in an old grey gown and a black cap, awaiting his supper at the table.
A clean cloth was spread before him, with knife, fork, and spoon,
salt-cellar, pepper-box, glass, and pewter ale-pot. Such zests as his
particular little phial of cayenne pepper and his pennyworth of pickles
in a saucer, were not wanting.
She started, coloured deeply, and turned white. The visitor, more with
his eyes than by the slight impulsive motion of his hand, entreated her
to be reassured and to trust him.
'I found this gentleman,' said the uncle--'Mr Clennam, William, son of
Amy's friend--at the outer gate, wishful, as he was going by, of paying
his respects, but hesitating whether to come in or not. This is my
brother William, sir.'
'I hope,' said Arthur, very doubtful what to say, 'that my respect for
your daughter may explain and justify my desire to be presented to you,
'Mr Clennam,' returned the other, rising, taking his cap off in the
flat of his hand, and so holding it, ready to put on again, 'you do me
honour. You are welcome, sir;' with a low bow. 'Frederick, a chair. Pray
sit down, Mr Clennam.'
He put his black cap on again as he had taken it off, and resumed his
own seat. There was a wonderful air of benignity and patronage in his
manner. These were the ceremonies with which he received the collegians.
'You are welcome to the Marshalsea, sir. I have welcomed many gentlemen
to these walls. Perhaps you are aware--my daughter Amy may have
mentioned that I am the Father of this place.'
'I--so I have understood,' said Arthur, dashing at the assertion.
'You know, I dare say, that my daughter Amy was born here. A good girl,
sir, a dear girl, and long a comfort and support to me. Amy, my dear,
put this dish on; Mr Clennam will excuse the primitive customs to which
we are reduced here. Is it a compliment to ask you if you would do me
the honour, sir, to--'
'Thank you,' returned Arthur. 'Not a morsel.'
He felt himself quite lost in wonder at the manner of the man, and that
the probability of his daughter's having had a reserve as to her family
history, should be so far out of his mind.
She filled his glass, put all the little matters on the table ready to
his hand, and then sat beside him while he ate his supper. Evidently in
observance of their nightly custom, she put some bread before herself,
and touched his glass with her lips; but Arthur saw she was troubled
and took nothing. Her look at her father, half admiring him and proud
of him, half ashamed for him, all devoted and loving, went to his inmost
The Father of the Marshalsea condescended towards his brother as an
amiable, well-meaning man; a private character, who had not arrived at
distinction. 'Frederick,' said he, 'you and Fanny sup at your lodgings
to-night, I know. What have you done with Fanny, Frederick?' 'She is
walking with Tip.'
'Tip--as you may know--is my son, Mr Clennam. He has been a little
wild, and difficult to settle, but his introduction to the world was
rather'--he shrugged his shoulders with a faint sigh, and looked round
the room--'a little adverse. Your first visit here, sir?'
'You could hardly have been here since your boyhood without my
knowledge. It very seldom happens that anybody--of any pretensions-any
pretensions--comes here without being presented to me.'
'As many as forty or fifty in a day have been introduced to my brother,'
said Frederick, faintly lighting up with a ray of pride.
'Yes!' the Father of the Marshalsea assented. 'We have even exceeded
that number. On a fine Sunday in term time, it is quite a Levee--quite
a Levee. Amy, my dear, I have been trying half the day to remember the
name of the gentleman from Camberwell who was introduced to me last
Christmas week by that agreeable coal-merchant who was remanded for six
'I don't remember his name, father.'
'Frederick, do you remember his name?' Frederick doubted if he had ever
heard it. No one could doubt that Frederick was the last person upon
earth to put such a question to, with any hope of information.
'I mean,' said his brother, 'the gentleman who did that handsome action
with so much delicacy. Ha! Tush! The name has quite escaped me. Mr
Clennam, as I have happened to mention handsome and delicate action, you
may like, perhaps, to know what it was.'
'Very much,' said Arthur, withdrawing his eyes from the delicate head
beginning to droop and the pale face with a new solicitude stealing over
'It is so generous, and shows so much fine feeling, that it is almost a
duty to mention it. I said at the time that I always would mention it
on every suitable occasion, without regard to personal sensitiveness.
A--well--a--it's of no use to disguise the fact--you must know, Mr
Clennam, that it does sometimes occur that people who come here desire
to offer some little--Testimonial--to the Father of the place.'
To see her hand upon his arm in mute entreaty half-repressed, and her
timid little shrinking figure turning away, was to see a sad, sad sight.
'Sometimes,' he went on in a low, soft voice, agitated, and clearing
his throat every now and then; 'sometimes--hem--it takes one shape and
sometimes another; but it is generally--ha--Money. And it is, I cannot
but confess it, it is too often--hem--acceptable. This gentleman that I
refer to, was presented to me, Mr Clennam, in a manner highly gratifying
to my feelings, and conversed not only with great politeness, but with
great--ahem--information.' All this time, though he had finished his
supper, he was nervously going about his plate with his knife and
fork, as if some of it were still before him. 'It appeared from his
conversation that he had a garden, though he was delicate of mentioning
it at first, as gardens are--hem--are not accessible to me. But it came
out, through my admiring a very fine cluster of geranium--beautiful
cluster of geranium to be sure--which he had brought from his
conservatory. On my taking notice of its rich colour, he showed me a
piece of paper round it, on which was written, "For the Father of the
Marshalsea," and presented it to me. But this was--hem--not all. He made
a particular request, on taking leave, that I would remove the paper in
half an hour. I--ha--I did so; and I found that it contained--ahem--two
guineas. I assure you, Mr Clennam, I have received--hem--Testimonials
in many ways, and of many degrees of value, and they have always
been--ha--unfortunately acceptable; but I never was more pleased than
with this--ahem--this particular Testimonial.' Arthur was in the act
of saying the little he could say on such a theme, when a bell began to
ring, and footsteps approached the door. A pretty girl of a far better
figure and much more developed than Little Dorrit, though looking much
younger in the face when the two were observed together, stopped in the
doorway on seeing a stranger; and a young man who was with her, stopped
'Mr Clennam, Fanny. My eldest daughter and my son, Mr Clennam. The bell
is a signal for visitors to retire, and so they have come to say good
night; but there is plenty of time, plenty of time. Girls, Mr Clennam
will excuse any household business you may have together. He knows, I
dare say, that I have but one room here.'
'I only want my clean dress from Amy, father,' said the second girl.
'And I my clothes,' said Tip.
Amy opened a drawer in an old piece of furniture that was a chest of
drawers above and a bedstead below, and produced two little bundles,
which she handed to her brother and sister. 'Mended and made up?'
Clennam heard the sister ask in a whisper. To which Amy answered 'Yes.'
He had risen now, and took the opportunity of glancing round the room.
The bare walls had been coloured green, evidently by an unskilled hand,
and were poorly decorated with a few prints. The window was curtained,
and the floor carpeted; and there were shelves and pegs, and other such
conveniences, that had accumulated in the course of years. It was a
close, confined room, poorly furnished; and the chimney smoked to boot,
or the tin screen at the top of the fireplace was superfluous; but
constant pains and care had made it neat, and even, after its kind,
comfortable. All the while the bell was ringing, and the uncle was
anxious to go. 'Come, Fanny, come, Fanny,' he said, with his ragged
clarionet case under his arm; 'the lock, child, the lock!'
Fanny bade her father good night, and whisked off airily. Tip had
already clattered down-stairs. 'Now, Mr Clennam,' said the uncle,
looking back as he shuffled out after them, 'the lock, sir, the lock.'
Mr Clennam had two things to do before he followed; one, to offer his
testimonial to the Father of the Marshalsea, without giving pain to his
child; the other to say something to that child, though it were but a
word, in explanation of his having come there.
'Allow me,' said the Father, 'to see you down-stairs.'
She had slipped out after the rest, and they were alone. 'Not on any
account,' said the visitor, hurriedly. 'Pray allow me to--' chink,
'Mr Clennam,' said the Father, 'I am deeply, deeply--' But his visitor
had shut up his hand to stop the clinking, and had gone down-stairs with
He saw no Little Dorrit on his way down, or in the yard. The last two or
three stragglers were hurrying to the lodge, and he was following,
when he caught sight of her in the doorway of the first house from the
entrance. He turned back hastily.
'Pray forgive me,' he said, 'for speaking to you here; pray forgive me
for coming here at all! I followed you to-night. I did so, that I might
endeavour to render you and your family some service. You know the
terms on which I and my mother are, and may not be surprised that I
have preserved our distant relations at her house, lest I should
unintentionally make her jealous, or resentful, or do you any injury in
her estimation. What I have seen here, in this short time, has greatly
increased my heartfelt wish to be a friend to you. It would recompense
me for much disappointment if I could hope to gain your confidence.'
She was scared at first, but seemed to take courage while he spoke to
'You are very good, sir. You speak very earnestly to me. But I--but I
wish you had not watched me.'
He understood the emotion with which she said it, to arise in her
father's behalf; and he respected it, and was silent.
'Mrs Clennam has been of great service to me; I don't know what we
should have done without the employment she has given me; I am afraid
it may not be a good return to become secret with her; I can say no more
to-night, sir. I am sure you mean to be kind to us. Thank you, thank
you.' 'Let me ask you one question before I leave. Have you known my
'I think two years, sir,--The bell has stopped.'
'How did you know her first? Did she send here for you?'
'No. She does not even know that I live here. We have a friend, father
and I--a poor labouring man, but the best of friends--and I wrote out
that I wished to do needlework, and gave his address. And he got what
I wrote out displayed at a few places where it cost nothing, and Mrs
Clennam found me that way, and sent for me. The gate will be locked,
She was so tremulous and agitated, and he was so moved by compassion for
her, and by deep interest in her story as it dawned upon him, that he
could scarcely tear himself away. But the stoppage of the bell, and the
quiet in the prison, were a warning to depart; and with a few hurried
words of kindness he left her gliding back to her father.
But he remained too late. The inner gate was locked, and the lodge
closed. After a little fruitless knocking with his hand, he was standing
there with the disagreeable conviction upon him that he had got to get
through the night, when a voice accosted him from behind.
'Caught, eh?' said the voice. 'You won't go home till morning. Oh! It's
you, is it, Mr Clennam?'
The voice was Tip's; and they stood looking at one another in the
prison-yard, as it began to rain.
'You've done it,' observed Tip; 'you must be sharper than that next
'But you are locked in too,' said Arthur.
'I believe I am!' said Tip, sarcastically. 'About! But not in your way.
I belong to the shop, only my sister has a theory that our governor must
never know it. I don't see why, myself.'
'Can I get any shelter?' asked Arthur. 'What had I better do?'
'We had better get hold of Amy first of all,' said Tip, referring any
difficulty to her as a matter of course.
'I would rather walk about all night--it's not much to do--than give
'You needn't do that, if you don't mind paying for a bed. If you don't
mind paying, they'll make you up one on the Snuggery table, under the
circumstances. If you'll come along, I'll introduce you there.'
As they passed down the yard, Arthur looked up at the window of the room
he had lately left, where the light was still burning. 'Yes, sir,' said
Tip, following his glance. 'That's the governor's. She'll sit with him
for another hour reading yesterday's paper to him, or something of that
sort; and then she'll come out like a little ghost, and vanish away
without a sound.'
'I don't understand you.'
'The governor sleeps up in the room, and she has a lodging at the
turnkey's. First house there,' said Tip, pointing out the doorway into
which she had retired. 'First house, sky parlour. She pays twice as much
for it as she would for one twice as good outside. But she stands by the
governor, poor dear girl, day and night.'
This brought them to the tavern-establishment at the upper end of the
prison, where the collegians had just vacated their social evening club.
The apartment on the ground-floor in which it was held, was the Snuggery
in question; the presidential tribune of the chairman, the pewter-pots,
glasses, pipes, tobacco-ashes, and general flavour of members, were
still as that convivial institution had left them on its adjournment.
The Snuggery had two of the qualities popularly held to be essential to
grog for ladies, in respect that it was hot and strong; but in the third
point of analogy, requiring plenty of it, the Snuggery was defective;
being but a cooped-up apartment.
The unaccustomed visitor from outside, naturally assumed everybody here
to be prisoners--landlord, waiter, barmaid, potboy, and all. Whether
they were or not, did not appear; but they all had a weedy look. The
keeper of a chandler's shop in a front parlour, who took in gentlemen
boarders, lent his assistance in making the bed. He had been a tailor in
his time, and had kept a phaeton, he said. He boasted that he stood up
litigiously for the interests of the college; and he had undefined and
undefinable ideas that the marshal intercepted a 'Fund,' which ought to
come to the collegians. He liked to believe this, and always impressed
the shadowy grievance on new-comers and strangers; though he could not,
for his life, have explained what Fund he meant, or how the notion had
got rooted in his soul. He had fully convinced himself, notwithstanding,
that his own proper share of the Fund was three and ninepence a week;
and that in this amount he, as an individual collegian, was swindled by
the marshal, regularly every Monday. Apparently, he helped to make the
bed, that he might not lose an opportunity of stating this case; after
which unloading of his mind, and after announcing (as it seemed he
always did, without anything coming of it) that he was going to write a
letter to the papers and show the marshal up, he fell into miscellaneous
conversation with the rest. It was evident from the general tone of the
whole party, that they had come to regard insolvency as the normal state
of mankind, and the payment of debts as a disease that occasionally
broke out. In this strange scene, and with these strange spectres
flitting about him, Arthur Clennam looked on at the preparations as if
they were part of a dream. Pending which, the long-initiated Tip, with
an awful enjoyment of the Snuggery's resources, pointed out the common
kitchen fire maintained by subscription of collegians, the boiler for
hot water supported in like manner, and other premises generally tending
to the deduction that the way to be healthy, wealthy, and wise, was to
come to the Marshalsea.
The two tables put together in a corner, were, at length, converted into
a very fair bed; and the stranger was left to the Windsor chairs,
the presidential tribune, the beery atmosphere, sawdust, pipe-lights,
spittoons and repose. But the last item was long, long, long, in linking
itself to the rest. The novelty of the place, the coming upon it without
preparation, the sense of being locked up, the remembrance of that room
up-stairs, of the two brothers, and above all of the retiring childish
form, and the face in which he now saw years of insufficient food, if
not of want, kept him waking and unhappy.
Speculations, too, bearing the strangest relations towards the prison,
but always concerning the prison, ran like nightmares through his mind
while he lay awake. Whether coffins were kept ready for people who might
die there, where they were kept, how they were kept, where people who
died in the prison were buried, how they were taken out, what forms were
observed, whether an implacable creditor could arrest the dead? As to
escaping, what chances there were of escape? Whether a prisoner could
scale the walls with a cord and grapple, how he would descend upon
the other side? whether he could alight on a housetop, steal down a
staircase, let himself out at a door, and get lost in the crowd? As to
Fire in the prison, if one were to break out while he lay there?
And these involuntary starts of fancy were, after all, but the setting
of a picture in which three people kept before him. His father, with the
steadfast look with which he had died, prophetically darkened forth in
the portrait; his mother, with her arm up, warding off his suspicion;
Little Dorrit, with her hand on the degraded arm, and her drooping head
What if his mother had an old reason she well knew for softening to
this poor girl! What if the prisoner now sleeping quietly--Heaven grant
it!--by the light of the great Day of judgment should trace back his
fall to her. What if any act of hers and of his father's, should have
even remotely brought the grey heads of those two brothers so low!
A swift thought shot into his mind. In that long imprisonment here, and
in her own long confinement to her room, did his mother find a balance
to be struck? 'I admit that I was accessory to that man's captivity. I
have suffered for it in kind. He has decayed in his prison: I in mine. I
have paid the penalty.'
When all the other thoughts had faded out, this one held possession
of him. When he fell asleep, she came before him in her wheeled chair,
warding him off with this justification. When he awoke, and sprang up
causelessly frightened, the words were in his ears, as if her voice had
slowly spoken them at his pillow, to break his rest: 'He withers away in
his prison; I wither away in mine; inexorable justice is done; what do I
owe on this score!'
CHAPTER 9. Little Mother
The morning light was in no hurry to climb the prison wall and look in
at the Snuggery windows; and when it did come, it would have been more
welcome if it had come alone, instead of bringing a rush of rain with
it. But the equinoctial gales were blowing out at sea, and the impartial
south-west wind, in its flight, would not neglect even the narrow
Marshalsea. While it roared through the steeple of St George's Church,
and twirled all the cowls in the neighbourhood, it made a swoop to beat
the Southwark smoke into the jail; and, plunging down the chimneys
of the few early collegians who were yet lighting their fires, half
suffocated them. Arthur Clennam would have been little disposed to
linger in bed, though his bed had been in a more private situation, and
less affected by the raking out of yesterday's fire, the kindling of
to-day's under the collegiate boiler, the filling of that Spartan vessel
at the pump, the sweeping and sawdusting of the common room, and other
such preparations. Heartily glad to see the morning, though little
rested by the night, he turned out as soon as he could distinguish
objects about him, and paced the yard for two heavy hours before the
gate was opened.
The walls were so near to one another, and the wild clouds hurried
over them so fast, that it gave him a sensation like the beginning of
sea-sickness to look up at the gusty sky. The rain, carried aslant by
flaws of wind, blackened that side of the central building which he had
visited last night, but left a narrow dry trough under the lee of the
wall, where he walked up and down among the waits of straw and dust
and paper, the waste droppings of the pump, and the stray leaves of
yesterday's greens. It was as haggard a view of life as a man need look
Nor was it relieved by any glimpse of the little creature who had
brought him there. Perhaps she glided out of her doorway and in at that
where her father lived, while his face was turned from both; but he saw
nothing of her. It was too early for her brother; to have seen him once,
was to have seen enough of him to know that he would be sluggish to
leave whatever frowsy bed he occupied at night; so, as Arthur Clennam
walked up and down, waiting for the gate to open, he cast about in
his mind for future rather than for present means of pursuing his
At last the lodge-gate turned, and the turnkey, standing on the step,
taking an early comb at his hair, was ready to let him out. With a
joyful sense of release he passed through the lodge, and found himself
again in the little outer court-yard where he had spoken to the brother
There was a string of people already straggling in, whom it was not
difficult to identify as the nondescript messengers, go-betweens, and
errand-bearers of the place. Some of them had been lounging in the rain
until the gate should open; others, who had timed their arrival
with greater nicety, were coming up now, and passing in with damp
whitey-brown paper bags from the grocers, loaves of bread, lumps of
butter, eggs, milk, and the like. The shabbiness of these attendants
upon shabbiness, the poverty of these insolvent waiters upon insolvency,
was a sight to see. Such threadbare coats and trousers, such fusty gowns
and shawls, such squashed hats and bonnets, such boots and shoes, such
umbrellas and walking-sticks, never were seen in Rag Fair. All of
them wore the cast-off clothes of other men and women, were made up of
patches and pieces of other people's individuality, and had no sartorial
existence of their own proper. Their walk was the walk of a race apart.
They had a peculiar way of doggedly slinking round the corner, as if
they were eternally going to the pawnbroker's. When they coughed, they
coughed like people accustomed to be forgotten on doorsteps and in
draughty passages, waiting for answers to letters in faded ink, which
gave the recipients of those manuscripts great mental disturbance and no
satisfaction. As they eyed the stranger in passing, they eyed him with
borrowing eyes--hungry, sharp, speculative as to his softness if they
were accredited to him, and the likelihood of his standing something
handsome. Mendicity on commission stooped in their high shoulders,
shambled in their unsteady legs, buttoned and pinned and darned and
dragged their clothes, frayed their button-holes, leaked out of their
figures in dirty little ends of tape, and issued from their mouths in
As these people passed him standing still in the court-yard, and one of
them turned back to inquire if he could assist him with his services,
it came into Arthur Clennam's mind that he would speak to Little Dorrit
again before he went away. She would have recovered her first surprise,
and might feel easier with him. He asked this member of the fraternity
(who had two red herrings in his hand, and a loaf and a blacking brush
under his arm), where was the nearest place to get a cup of coffee
at. The nondescript replied in encouraging terms, and brought him to a
coffee-shop in the street within a stone's throw.
'Do you know Miss Dorrit?' asked the new client.
The nondescript knew two Miss Dorrits; one who was born inside--That was
the one! That was the one? The nondescript had known her many years.
In regard of the other Miss Dorrit, the nondescript lodged in the same
house with herself and uncle.
This changed the client's half-formed design of remaining at the
coffee-shop until the nondescript should bring him word that Dorrit
had issued forth into the street. He entrusted the nondescript with a
confidential message to her, importing that the visitor who had waited
on her father last night, begged the favour of a few words with her at
her uncle's lodging; he obtained from the same source full directions to
the house, which was very near; dismissed the nondescript gratified with
half-a-crown; and having hastily refreshed himself at the coffee-shop,
repaired with all speed to the clarionet-player's dwelling.
There were so many lodgers in this house that the doorpost seemed to be
as full of bell-handles as a cathedral organ is of stops. Doubtful
which might be the clarionet-stop, he was considering the point, when a
shuttlecock flew out of the parlour window, and alighted on his hat.
He then observed that in the parlour window was a blind with the
inscription, MR CRIPPLES's ACADEMY; also in another line, EVENING
TUITION; and behind the blind was a little white-faced boy, with a slice
of bread-and-butter and a battledore.
The window being accessible from the footway, he looked in over the
blind, returned the shuttlecock, and put his question.
'Dorrit?' said the little white-faced boy (Master Cripples in fact). 'Mr
Dorrit? Third bell and one knock.' The pupils of Mr Cripples appeared to
have been making a copy-book of the street-door, it was so extensively
scribbled over in pencil.
The frequency of the inscriptions, 'Old Dorrit,' and 'Dirty Dick,'
in combination, suggested intentions of personality on the part Of
Mr Cripples's pupils. There was ample time to make these observations
before the door was opened by the poor old man himself.
'Ha!' said he, very slowly remembering Arthur, 'you were shut in last
'Yes, Mr Dorrit. I hope to meet your niece here presently.'
'Oh!' said he, pondering. 'Out of my brother's way? True. Would you come
up-stairs and wait for her?'
Turning himself as slowly as he turned in his mind whatever he heard or
said, he led the way up the narrow stairs. The house was very close, and
had an unwholesome smell. The little staircase windows looked in at the
back windows of other houses as unwholesome as itself, with poles and
lines thrust out of them, on which unsightly linen hung; as if the
inhabitants were angling for clothes, and had had some wretched bites
not worth attending to. In the back garret--a sickly room, with a
turn-up bedstead in it, so hastily and recently turned up that the
blankets were boiling over, as it were, and keeping the lid open--a
half-finished breakfast of coffee and toast for two persons was jumbled
down anyhow on a rickety table.
There was no one there. The old man mumbling to himself, after some
consideration, that Fanny had run away, went to the next room to fetch
her back. The visitor, observing that she held the door on the inside,
and that, when the uncle tried to open it, there was a sharp adjuration
of 'Don't, stupid!' and an appearance of loose stocking and flannel,
concluded that the young lady was in an undress. The uncle, without
appearing to come to any conclusion, shuffled in again, sat down in his
chair, and began warming his hands at the fire; not that it was cold, or
that he had any waking idea whether it was or not.
'What did you think of my brother, sir?' he asked, when he by-and-by
discovered what he was doing, left off, reached over to the
chimney-piece, and took his clarionet case down.
'I was glad,' said Arthur, very much at a loss, for his thoughts were
on the brother before him; 'to find him so well and cheerful.' 'Ha!'
muttered the old man, 'yes, yes, yes, yes, yes!'
Arthur wondered what he could possibly want with the clarionet case. He
did not want it at all. He discovered, in due time, that it was not the
little paper of snuff (which was also on the chimney-piece), put it back
again, took down the snuff instead, and solaced himself with a pinch. He
was as feeble, spare, and slow in his pinches as in everything else, but
a certain little trickling of enjoyment of them played in the poor worn
nerves about the corners of his eyes and mouth.
'Amy, Mr Clennam. What do you think of her?'
'I am much impressed, Mr Dorrit, by all that I have seen of her and
thought of her.'
'My brother would have been quite lost without Amy,' he returned. 'We
should all have been lost without Amy. She is a very good girl, Amy. She
does her duty.'
Arthur fancied that he heard in these praises a certain tone of custom,
which he had heard from the father last night with an inward protest and
feeling of antagonism. It was not that they stinted her praises, or
were insensible to what she did for them; but that they were lazily
habituated to her, as they were to all the rest of their condition.
He fancied that although they had before them, every day, the means of
comparison between her and one another and themselves, they regarded her
as being in her necessary place; as holding a position towards them all
which belonged to her, like her name or her age. He fancied that they
viewed her, not as having risen away from the prison atmosphere, but as
appertaining to it; as being vaguely what they had a right to expect,
and nothing more.
Her uncle resumed his breakfast, and was munching toast sopped in
coffee, oblivious of his guest, when the third bell rang. That was Amy,
he said, and went down to let her in; leaving the visitor with as vivid
a picture on his mind of his begrimed hands, dirt-worn face, and decayed
figure, as if he were still drooping in his chair.
She came up after him, in the usual plain dress, and with the usual
timid manner. Her lips were a little parted, as if her heart beat faster
'Mr Clennam, Amy,' said her uncle, 'has been expecting you some time.'
'I took the liberty of sending you a message.'
'I received the message, sir.'
'Are you going to my mother's this morning? I think not, for it is past
your usual hour.' 'Not to-day, sir. I am not wanted to-day.'
'Will you allow Me to walk a little way in whatever direction you may
be going? I can then speak to you as we walk, both without detaining you
here, and without intruding longer here myself.'
She looked embarrassed, but said, if he pleased. He made a pretence of
having mislaid his walking-stick, to give her time to set the bedstead
right, to answer her sister's impatient knock at the wall, and to say a
word softly to her uncle. Then he found it, and they went down-stairs;
she first, he following; the uncle standing at the stair-head, and
probably forgetting them before they had reached the ground floor.
Mr Cripples's pupils, who were by this time coming to school, desisted
from their morning recreation of cuffing one another with bags and
books, to stare with all the eyes they had at a stranger who had been
to see Dirty Dick. They bore the trying spectacle in silence, until the
mysterious visitor was at a safe distance; when they burst into pebbles
and yells, and likewise into reviling dances, and in all respects buried
the pipe of peace with so many savage ceremonies, that, if Mr Cripples
had been the chief of the Cripplewayboo tribe with his war-paint on,
they could scarcely have done greater justice to their education.
In the midst of this homage, Mr Arthur Clennam offered his arm to Little
Dorrit, and Little Dorrit took it. 'Will you go by the Iron Bridge,'
said he, 'where there is an escape from the noise of the street?' Little
Dorrit answered, if he pleased, and presently ventured to hope that he
would 'not mind' Mr Cripples's boys, for she had herself received
her education, such as it was, in Mr Cripples's evening academy. He
returned, with the best will in the world, that Mr Cripples's boys were
forgiven out of the bottom of his soul. Thus did Cripples unconsciously
become a master of the ceremonies between them, and bring them more
naturally together than Beau Nash might have done if they had lived
in his golden days, and he had alighted from his coach and six for the
The morning remained squally, and the streets were miserably muddy, but
no rain fell as they walked towards the Iron Bridge. The little creature
seemed so young in his eyes, that there were moments when he found
himself thinking of her, if not speaking to her, as if she were a child.
Perhaps he seemed as old in her eyes as she seemed young in his.
'I am sorry to hear you were so inconvenienced last night, sir, as to be
locked in. It was very unfortunate.'
It was nothing, he returned. He had had a very good bed.
'Oh yes!' she said quickly; 'she believed there were excellent beds at
the coffee-house.' He noticed that the coffee-house was quite a majestic
hotel to her, and that she treasured its reputation. 'I believe it is
very expensive,' said Little Dorrit, 'but MY father has told me that
quite beautiful dinners may be got there. And wine,' she added timidly.
'Were you ever there?'
'Oh no! Only into the kitchen to fetch hot water.'
To think of growing up with a kind of awe upon one as to the luxuries of
that superb establishment, the Marshalsea Hotel!
'I asked you last night,' said Clennam, 'how you had become acquainted
with my mother. Did you ever hear her name before she sent for you?'
'Do you think your father ever did?'
He met her eyes raised to his with so much wonder in them (she was
scared when the encounter took place, and shrunk away again), that he
felt it necessary to say:
'I have a reason for asking, which I cannot very well explain; but you
must, on no account, suppose it to be of a nature to cause you the least
alarm or anxiety. Quite the reverse. And you think that at no time of
your father's life was my name of Clennam ever familiar to him?'
He felt, from the tone in which she spoke, that she was glancing up at
him with those parted lips; therefore he looked before him, rather than
make her heart beat quicker still by embarrassing her afresh.
Thus they emerged upon the Iron Bridge, which was as quiet after the
roaring streets as though it had been open country. The wind blew
roughly, the wet squalls came rattling past them, skimming the pools on
the road and pavement, and raining them down into the river. The clouds
raced on furiously in the lead-Coloured sky, the smoke and mist raced
after them, the dark tide ran fierce and strong in the same direction.
Little Dorrit seemed the least, the quietest, and weakest of Heaven's
'Let me put you in a coach,' said Clennam, very nearly adding 'my poor
She hurriedly declined, saying that wet or dry made little difference to
her; she was used to go about in all weathers. He knew it to be so, and
was touched with more pity; thinking of the slight figure at his side,
making its nightly way through the damp dark boisterous streets to such
a place of rest. 'You spoke so feelingly to me last night, sir, and
I found afterwards that you had been so generous to my father, that I
could not resist your message, if it was only to thank you; especially
as I wished very much to say to you--' she hesitated and trembled, and
tears rose in her eyes, but did not fall.
'To say to me--?'
'That I hope you will not misunderstand my father. Don't judge him, sir,
as you would judge others outside the gates. He has been there so long!
I never saw him outside, but I can understand that he must have grown
different in some things since.'
'My thoughts will never be unjust or harsh towards him, believe me.'
'Not,' she said, with a prouder air, as the misgiving evidently crept
upon her that she might seem to be abandoning him, 'not that he has
anything to be ashamed of for himself, or that I have anything to be
ashamed of for him. He only requires to be understood. I only ask for
him that his life may be fairly remembered. All that he said was quite
true. It all happened just as he related it. He is very much respected.
Everybody who comes in, is glad to know him. He is more courted than
anyone else. He is far more thought of than the Marshal is.'
If ever pride were innocent, it was innocent in Little Dorrit when she
grew boastful of her father.
'It is often said that his manners are a true gentleman's, and quite
a study. I see none like them in that place, but he is admitted to
be superior to all the rest. This is quite as much why they make him
presents, as because they know him to be needy. He is not to be blamed
for being in need, poor love. Who could be in prison a quarter of a
century, and be prosperous!'
What affection in her words, what compassion in her repressed tears,
what a great soul of fidelity within her, how true the light that shed
false brightness round him!
'If I have found it best to conceal where my home is, it is not because
I am ashamed of him. God forbid! Nor am I so much ashamed of the place
itself as might be supposed. People are not bad because they come there.
I have known numbers of good, persevering, honest people come there
through misfortune. They are almost all kind-hearted to one another.
And it would be ungrateful indeed in me, to forget that I have had many
quiet, comfortable hours there; that I had an excellent friend there
when I was quite a baby, who was very very fond of me; that I have been
taught there, and have worked there, and have slept soundly there. I
think it would be almost cowardly and cruel not to have some little
attachment for it, after all this.'
She had relieved the faithful fulness of her heart, and modestly said,
raising her eyes appealingly to her new friend's, 'I did not mean to say
so much, nor have I ever but once spoken about this before. But it seems
to set it more right than it was last night. I said I wished you had
not followed me, sir. I don't wish it so much now, unless you should
think--indeed I don't wish it at all, unless I should have spoken so
confusedly, that--that you can scarcely understand me, which I am afraid
may be the case.'
He told her with perfect truth that it was not the case; and putting
himself between her and the sharp wind and rain, sheltered her as well
as he could.
'I feel permitted now,' he said, 'to ask you a little more concerning
your father. Has he many creditors?'
'Oh! a great number.'
'I mean detaining creditors, who keep him where he is?'
'Oh yes! a great number.'
'Can you tell me--I can get the information, no doubt, elsewhere, if you
cannot--who is the most influential of them?'
Little Dorrit said, after considering a little, that she used to
hear long ago of Mr Tite Barnacle as a man of great power. He was a
commissioner, or a board, or a trustee, 'or something.' He lived
in Grosvenor Square, she thought, or very near it. He was under
Government--high in the Circumlocution Office. She appeared to have
acquired, in her infancy, some awful impression of the might of this
formidable Mr Tite Barnacle of Grosvenor Square, or very near it, and
the Circumlocution Office, which quite crushed her when she mentioned
'It can do no harm,' thought Arthur, 'if I see this Mr Tite Barnacle.'
The thought did not present itself so quietly but that her quickness
intercepted it. 'Ah!' said Little Dorrit, shaking her head with the mild
despair of a lifetime. 'Many people used to think once of getting my
poor father out, but you don't know how hopeless it is.'
She forgot to be shy at the moment, in honestly warning him away from
the sunken wreck he had a dream of raising; and looked at him with
eyes which assuredly, in association with her patient face, her fragile
figure, her spare dress, and the wind and rain, did not turn him from
his purpose of helping her.
'Even if it could be done,' said she--'and it never can be done
now--where could father live, or how could he live? I have often thought
that if such a change could come, it might be anything but a service to
him now. People might not think so well of him outside as they do there.
He might not be so gently dealt with outside as he is there. He might
not be so fit himself for the life outside as he is for that.' Here for
the first time she could not restrain her tears from falling; and the
little thin hands he had watched when they were so busy, trembled as
they clasped each other.
'It would be a new distress to him even to know that I earn a little
money, and that Fanny earns a little money. He is so anxious about us,
you see, feeling helplessly shut up there. Such a good, good father!'
He let the little burst of feeling go by before he spoke. It was soon
gone. She was not accustomed to think of herself, or to trouble any one
with her emotions. He had but glanced away at the piles of city roofs
and chimneys among which the smoke was rolling heavily, and at the
wilderness of masts on the river, and the wilderness of steeples on
the shore, indistinctly mixed together in the stormy haze, when she
was again as quiet as if she had been plying her needle in his mother's
'You would be glad to have your brother set at liberty?'
'Oh very, very glad, sir!'
'Well, we will hope for him at least. You told me last night of a friend
His name was Plornish, Little Dorrit said.
And where did Plornish live? Plornish lived in Bleeding Heart Yard. He
was 'only a plasterer,' Little Dorrit said, as a caution to him not to
form high social expectations of Plornish. He lived at the last house in
Bleeding Heart Yard, and his name was over a little gateway. Arthur took
down the address and gave her his. He had now done all he sought to do
for the present, except that he wished to leave her with a reliance
upon him, and to have something like a promise from her that she would
'There is one friend!' he said, putting up his pocketbook. 'As I take
you back--you are going back?'
'Oh yes! going straight home.'
'As I take you back,' the word home jarred upon him, 'let me ask you to
persuade yourself that you have another friend. I make no professions,
and say no more.'
'You are truly kind to me, sir. I am sure I need no more.'
They walked back through the miserable muddy streets, and among the
poor, mean shops, and were jostled by the crowds of dirty hucksters
usual to a poor neighbourhood. There was nothing, by the short way, that
was pleasant to any of the five senses. Yet it was not a common passage
through common rain, and mire, and noise, to Clennam, having this
little, slender, careful creature on his arm. How young she seemed to
him, or how old he to her; or what a secret either to the other, in that
beginning of the destined interweaving of their stories, matters not
here. He thought of her having been born and bred among these scenes,
and shrinking through them now, familiar yet misplaced; he thought
of her long acquaintance with the squalid needs of life, and of her
innocence; of her solicitude for others, and her few years, and her
They were come into the High Street, where the prison stood, when a
voice cried, 'Little mother, little mother!' Little Dorrit stopping and
looking back, an excited figure of a strange kind bounced against them
(still crying 'little mother'), fell down, and scattered the contents of
a large basket, filled with potatoes, in the mud.
'Oh, Maggy,' said Little Dorrit, 'what a clumsy child you are!'
Maggy was not hurt, but picked herself up immediately, and then began
to pick up the potatoes, in which both Little Dorrit and Arthur Clennam
helped. Maggy picked up very few potatoes and a great quantity of mud;
but they were all recovered, and deposited in the basket. Maggy then
smeared her muddy face with her shawl, and presenting it to Mr Clennam
as a type of purity, enabled him to see what she was like.
She was about eight-and-twenty, with large bones, large features, large
feet and hands, large eyes and no hair. Her large eyes were limpid and
almost colourless; they seemed to be very little affected by light,
and to stand unnaturally still. There was also that attentive listening
expression in her face, which is seen in the faces of the blind; but she
was not blind, having one tolerably serviceable eye. Her face was not
exceedingly ugly, though it was only redeemed from being so by a smile;
a good-humoured smile, and pleasant in itself, but rendered pitiable
by being constantly there. A great white cap, with a quantity of
opaque frilling that was always flapping about, apologised for Maggy's
baldness, and made it so very difficult for her old black bonnet to
retain its place upon her head, that it held on round her neck like a
gipsy's baby. A commission of haberdashers could alone have reported
what the rest of her poor dress was made of, but it had a strong general
resemblance to seaweed, with here and there a gigantic tea-leaf. Her
shawl looked particularly like a tea-leaf after long infusion.
Arthur Clennam looked at Little Dorrit with the expression of one
saying, 'May I ask who this is?' Little Dorrit, whose hand this Maggy,
still calling her little mother, had begun to fondle, answered in words
(they were under a gateway into which the majority of the potatoes had
'This is Maggy, sir.'
'Maggy, sir,' echoed the personage presented. 'Little mother!'
'She is the grand-daughter--' said Little Dorrit.
'Grand-daughter,' echoed Maggy.
'Of my old nurse, who has been dead a long time. Maggy, how old are
'Ten, mother,' said Maggy.
'You can't think how good she is, sir,' said Little Dorrit, with
'Good SHE is,' echoed Maggy, transferring the pronoun in a most
expressive way from herself to her little mother.
'Or how clever,' said Little Dorrit. 'She goes on errands as well as
any one.' Maggy laughed. 'And is as trustworthy as the Bank of England.'
Maggy laughed. 'She earns her own living entirely. Entirely, sir!' said
Little Dorrit, in a lower and triumphant tone.
'What is her history?' asked Clennam.
'Think of that, Maggy?' said Little Dorrit, taking her two large hands
and clapping them together. 'A gentleman from thousands of miles away,
wanting to know your history!'
'My history?' cried Maggy. 'Little mother.'
'She means me,' said Little Dorrit, rather confused; 'she is very much
attached to me. Her old grandmother was not so kind to her as she should
have been; was she, Maggy?' Maggy shook her head, made a drinking vessel
of her clenched left hand, drank out of it, and said, 'Gin.' Then beat
an imaginary child, and said, 'Broom-handles and pokers.'
'When Maggy was ten years old,' said Little Dorrit, watching her face
while she spoke, 'she had a bad fever, sir, and she has never grown any
older ever since.'
'Ten years old,' said Maggy, nodding her head. 'But what a nice
hospital! So comfortable, wasn't it? Oh so nice it was. Such a Ev'nly
'She had never been at peace before, sir,' said Little Dorrit, turning
towards Arthur for an instant and speaking low, 'and she always runs off
'Such beds there is there!' cried Maggy. 'Such lemonades! Such oranges!
Such d'licious broth and wine! Such Chicking! Oh, AIN'T it a delightful
place to go and stop at!'
'So Maggy stopped there as long as she could,' said Little Dorrit,
in her former tone of telling a child's story; the tone designed for
Maggy's ear, 'and at last, when she could stop there no longer, she came
out. Then, because she was never to be more than ten years old, however
long she lived--'
'However long she lived,' echoed Maggy.
'And because she was very weak; indeed was so weak that when she began
to laugh she couldn't stop herself--which was a great pity--'
(Maggy mighty grave of a sudden.)
'Her grandmother did not know what to do with her, and for some years
was very unkind to her indeed. At length, in course of time, Maggy began
to take pains to improve herself, and to be very attentive and very
industrious; and by degrees was allowed to come in and out as often as
she liked, and got enough to do to support herself, and does support
herself. And that,' said Little Dorrit, clapping the two great hands
together again, 'is Maggy's history, as Maggy knows!'
Ah! But Arthur would have known what was wanting to its completeness,
though he had never heard of the words Little mother; though he had
never seen the fondling of the small spare hand; though he had had no
sight for the tears now standing in the colourless eyes; though he had
had no hearing for the sob that checked the clumsy laugh. The dirty
gateway with the wind and rain whistling through it, and the basket of
muddy potatoes waiting to be spilt again or taken up, never seemed the
common hole it really was, when he looked back to it by these lights.
They were very near the end of their walk, and they now came out of the
gateway to finish it. Nothing would serve Maggy but that they must stop
at a grocer's window, short of their destination, for her to show her
learning. She could read after a sort; and picked out the fat figures in
the tickets of prices, for the most part correctly. She also stumbled,
with a large balance of success against her failures, through various
philanthropic recommendations to Try our Mixture, Try our Family Black,
Try our Orange-flavoured Pekoe, challenging competition at the head
of Flowery Teas; and various cautions to the public against spurious
establishments and adulterated articles. When he saw how pleasure
brought a rosy tint into Little Dorrit's face when Maggy made a hit,
he felt that he could have stood there making a library of the grocer's
window until the rain and wind were tired.
The court-yard received them at last, and there he said goodbye to
Little Dorrit. Little as she had always looked, she looked less than
ever when he saw her going into the Marshalsea lodge passage, the little
mother attended by her big child. The cage door opened, and when the
small bird, reared in captivity, had tamely fluttered in, he saw it shut
again; and then he came away.
CHAPTER 10. Containing the whole Science of Government
The Circumlocution Office was (as everybody knows without being told)
the most important Department under Government. No public business of
any kind could possibly be done at any time without the acquiescence of
the Circumlocution Office. Its finger was in the largest public pie,
and in the smallest public tart. It was equally impossible to do the
plainest right and to undo the plainest wrong without the express
authority of the Circumlocution Office. If another Gunpowder Plot had
been discovered half an hour before the lighting of the match, nobody
would have been justified in saving the parliament until there had
been half a score of boards, half a bushel of minutes, several sacks
of official memoranda, and a family-vault full of ungrammatical
correspondence, on the part of the Circumlocution Office.
This glorious establishment had been early in the field, when the one
sublime principle involving the difficult art of governing a country,
was first distinctly revealed to statesmen. It had been foremost to
study that bright revelation and to carry its shining influence through
the whole of the official proceedings. Whatever was required to be done,
the Circumlocution Office was beforehand with all the public departments
in the art of perceiving--HOW NOT TO DO IT.
Through this delicate perception, through the tact with which it
invariably seized it, and through the genius with which it always acted
on it, the Circumlocution Office had risen to overtop all the public
departments; and the public condition had risen to be--what it was.
It is true that How not to do it was the great study and object of
all public departments and professional politicians all round the
Circumlocution Office. It is true that every new premier and every
new government, coming in because they had upheld a certain thing as
necessary to be done, were no sooner come in than they applied their
utmost faculties to discovering How not to do it. It is true that from
the moment when a general election was over, every returned man who had
been raving on hustings because it hadn't been done, and who had been
asking the friends of the honourable gentleman in the opposite interest
on pain of impeachment to tell him why it hadn't been done, and who had
been asserting that it must be done, and who had been pledging himself
that it should be done, began to devise, How it was not to be done. It
is true that the debates of both Houses of Parliament the whole session
through, uniformly tended to the protracted deliberation, How not to
do it. It is true that the royal speech at the opening of such session
virtually said, My lords and gentlemen, you have a considerable
stroke of work to do, and you will please to retire to your respective
chambers, and discuss, How not to do it. It is true that the royal
speech, at the close of such session, virtually said, My lords and
gentlemen, you have through several laborious months been considering
with great loyalty and patriotism, How not to do it, and you have found
out; and with the blessing of Providence upon the harvest (natural, not
political), I now dismiss you. All this is true, but the Circumlocution
Office went beyond it.
Because the Circumlocution Office went on mechanically, every day,
keeping this wonderful, all-sufficient wheel of statesmanship, How not
to do it, in motion. Because the Circumlocution Office was down upon any
ill-advised public servant who was going to do it, or who appeared to be
by any surprising accident in remote danger of doing it, with a minute,
and a memorandum, and a letter of instructions that extinguished him. It
was this spirit of national efficiency in the Circumlocution Office
that had gradually led to its having something to do with everything.
Mechanicians, natural philosophers, soldiers, sailors, petitioners,
memorialists, people with grievances, people who wanted to prevent
grievances, people who wanted to redress grievances, jobbing people,
jobbed people, people who couldn't get rewarded for merit, and people
who couldn't get punished for demerit, were all indiscriminately tucked
up under the foolscap paper of the Circumlocution Office.
Numbers of people were lost in the Circumlocution Office. Unfortunates
with wrongs, or with projects for the general welfare (and they had
better have had wrongs at first, than have taken that bitter English
recipe for certainly getting them), who in slow lapse of time and agony
had passed safely through other public departments; who, according to
rule, had been bullied in this, over-reached by that, and evaded by
the other; got referred at last to the Circumlocution Office, and
never reappeared in the light of day. Boards sat upon them, secretaries
minuted upon them, commissioners gabbled about them, clerks registered,
entered, checked, and ticked them off, and they melted away. In short,
all the business of the country went through the Circumlocution Office,
except the business that never came out of it; and its name was Legion.
Sometimes, angry spirits attacked the Circumlocution Office. Sometimes,
parliamentary questions were asked about it, and even parliamentary
motions made or threatened about it by demagogues so low and ignorant as
to hold that the real recipe of government was, How to do it. Then would
the noble lord, or right honourable gentleman, in whose department it
was to defend the Circumlocution Office, put an orange in his pocket,
and make a regular field-day of the occasion. Then would he come down to
that house with a slap upon the table, and meet the honourable gentleman
foot to foot. Then would he be there to tell that honourable gentleman
that the Circumlocution Office not only was blameless in this matter,
but was commendable in this matter, was extollable to the skies in this
matter. Then would he be there to tell that honourable gentleman that,
although the Circumlocution Office was invariably right and wholly
right, it never was so right as in this matter. Then would he be there
to tell that honourable gentleman that it would have been more to his
honour, more to his credit, more to his good taste, more to his good
sense, more to half the dictionary of commonplaces, if he had left the
Circumlocution Office alone, and never approached this matter. Then
would he keep one eye upon a coach or crammer from the Circumlocution
Office sitting below the bar, and smash the honourable gentleman with
the Circumlocution Office account of this matter. And although one
of two things always happened; namely, either that the Circumlocution
Office had nothing to say and said it, or that it had something to say
of which the noble lord, or right honourable gentleman, blundered one
half and forgot the other; the Circumlocution Office was always voted
immaculate by an accommodating majority.
Such a nursery of statesmen had the Department become in virtue of a
long career of this nature, that several solemn lords had attained the
reputation of being quite unearthly prodigies of business, solely from
having practised, How not to do it, as the head of the Circumlocution
Office. As to the minor priests and acolytes of that temple, the result
of all this was that they stood divided into two classes, and, down to
the junior messenger, either believed in the Circumlocution Office as
a heaven-born institution that had an absolute right to do whatever it
liked; or took refuge in total infidelity, and considered it a flagrant
The Barnacle family had for some time helped to administer the
Circumlocution Office. The Tite Barnacle Branch, indeed, considered
themselves in a general way as having vested rights in that direction,
and took it ill if any other family had much to say to it. The Barnacles
were a very high family, and a very large family. They were dispersed
all over the public offices, and held all sorts of public places. Either
the nation was under a load of obligation to the Barnacles, or the
Barnacles were under a load of obligation to the nation. It was not
quite unanimously settled which; the Barnacles having their opinion, the
The Mr Tite Barnacle who at the period now in question usually coached
or crammed the statesman at the head of the Circumlocution Office, when
that noble or right honourable individual sat a little uneasily in his
saddle by reason of some vagabond making a tilt at him in a newspaper,
was more flush of blood than money. As a Barnacle he had his place,
which was a snug thing enough; and as a Barnacle he had of course put
in his son Barnacle Junior in the office. But he had intermarried with
a branch of the Stiltstalkings, who were also better endowed in a
sanguineous point of view than with real or personal property, and of
this marriage there had been issue, Barnacle junior and three young
ladies. What with the patrician requirements of Barnacle junior, the
three young ladies, Mrs Tite Barnacle nee Stiltstalking, and himself,
Mr Tite Barnacle found the intervals between quarter day and quarter day
rather longer than he could have desired; a circumstance which he always
attributed to the country's parsimony. For Mr Tite Barnacle, Mr Arthur
Clennam made his fifth inquiry one day at the Circumlocution Office;
having on previous occasions awaited that gentleman successively in a
hall, a glass case, a waiting room, and a fire-proof passage where the
Department seemed to keep its wind. On this occasion Mr Barnacle was not
engaged, as he had been before, with the noble prodigy at the head of
the Department; but was absent. Barnacle Junior, however, was announced
as a lesser star, yet visible above the office horizon.
With Barnacle junior, he signified his desire to confer; and found that
young gentleman singeing the calves of his legs at the parental fire,
and supporting his spine against the mantel-shelf. It was a comfortable
room, handsomely furnished in the higher official manner; an presenting
stately suggestions of the absent Barnacle, in the thick carpet, the
leather-covered desk to sit at, the leather-covered desk to stand at,
the formidable easy-chair and hearth-rug, the interposed screen, the
torn-up papers, the dispatch-boxes with little labels sticking out of
them, like medicine bottles or dead game, the pervading smell of leather
and mahogany, and a general bamboozling air of How not to do it.
The present Barnacle, holding Mr Clennam's card in his hand, had a
youthful aspect, and the fluffiest little whisker, perhaps, that ever
was seen. Such a downy tip was on his callow chin, that he seemed half
fledged like a young bird; and a compassionate observer might have urged
that, if he had not singed the calves of his legs, he would have died
of cold. He had a superior eye-glass dangling round his neck, but
unfortunately had such flat orbits to his eyes and such limp little
eyelids that it wouldn't stick in when he put it up, but kept tumbling
out against his waistcoat buttons with a click that discomposed him very
'Oh, I say. Look here! My father's not in the way, and won't be in the
way to-day,' said Barnacle Junior. 'Is this anything that I can do?'
(Click! Eye-glass down. Barnacle Junior quite frightened and feeling all
round himself, but not able to find it.)
'You are very good,' said Arthur Clennam. 'I wish however to see Mr
'But I say. Look here! You haven't got any appointment, you know,' said
(By this time he had found the eye-glass, and put it up again.)
'No,' said Arthur Clennam. 'That is what I wish to have.'
'But I say. Look here! Is this public business?' asked Barnacle junior.
(Click! Eye-glass down again. Barnacle Junior in that state of search
after it that Mr Clennam felt it useless to reply at present.)
'Is it,' said Barnacle junior, taking heed of his visitor's brown face,
'anything about--Tonnage--or that sort of thing?'
(Pausing for a reply, he opened his right eye with his hand, and stuck
his glass in it, in that inflammatory manner that his eye began watering
'No,' said Arthur, 'it is nothing about tonnage.'
'Then look here. Is it private business?'
'I really am not sure. It relates to a Mr Dorrit.'
'Look here, I tell you what! You had better call at our house, if you
are going that way. Twenty-four, Mews Street, Grosvenor Square. My
father's got a slight touch of the gout, and is kept at home by it.'
(The misguided young Barnacle evidently going blind on his eye-glass
side, but ashamed to make any further alteration in his painful
'Thank you. I will call there now. Good morning.' Young Barnacle seemed
discomfited at this, as not having at all expected him to go.
'You are quite sure,' said Barnacle junior, calling after him when he
got to the door, unwilling wholly to relinquish the bright business idea
he had conceived; 'that it's nothing about Tonnage?'
With such assurance, and rather wondering what might have taken place
if it HAD been anything about tonnage, Mr Clennam withdrew to pursue his
Mews Street, Grosvenor Square, was not absolutely Grosvenor Square
itself, but it was very near it. It was a hideous little street of dead
wall, stables, and dunghills, with lofts over coach-houses inhabited by
coachmen's families, who had a passion for drying clothes and decorating
their window-sills with miniature turnpike-gates. The principal
chimney-sweep of that fashionable quarter lived at the blind end of Mews
Street; and the same corner contained an establishment much frequented
about early morning and twilight for the purchase of wine-bottles and
kitchen-stuff. Punch's shows used to lean against the dead wall in Mews
Street, while their proprietors were dining elsewhere; and the dogs of
the neighbourhood made appointments to meet in the same locality. Yet
there were two or three small airless houses at the entrance end of Mews
Street, which went at enormous rents on account of their being abject
hangers-on to a fashionable situation; and whenever one of these fearful
little coops was to be let (which seldom happened, for they were in
great request), the house agent advertised it as a gentlemanly residence
in the most aristocratic part of town, inhabited solely by the elite of
the beau monde.
If a gentlemanly residence coming strictly within this narrow margin had
not been essential to the blood of the Barnacles, this particular branch
would have had a pretty wide selection among, let us say, ten thousand
houses, offering fifty times the accommodation for a third of the money.
As it was, Mr Barnacle, finding his gentlemanly residence extremely
inconvenient and extremely dear, always laid it, as a public servant,
at the door of the country, and adduced it as another instance of the
Arthur Clennam came to a squeezed house, with a ramshackle bowed
front, little dingy windows, and a little dark area like a damp
waistcoat-pocket, which he found to be number twenty-four, Mews Street,
Grosvenor Square. To the sense of smell the house was like a sort of
bottle filled with a strong distillation of Mews; and when the footman
opened the door, he seemed to take the stopper out.
The footman was to the Grosvenor Square footmen, what the house was to
the Grosvenor Square houses. Admirable in his way, his way was a back
and a bye way. His gorgeousness was not unmixed with dirt; and both in
complexion and consistency he had suffered from the closeness of his
pantry. A sallow flabbiness was upon him when he took the stopper out,
and presented the bottle to Mr Clennam's nose.
'Be so good as to give that card to Mr Tite Barnacle, and to say that I
have just now seen the younger Mr Barnacle, who recommended me to call
The footman (who had as many large buttons with the Barnacle crest upon
them on the flaps of his pockets, as if he were the family strong box,
and carried the plate and jewels about with him buttoned up) pondered
over the card a little; then said, 'Walk in.'
It required some judgment to do it without butting the inner hall-door
open, and in the consequent mental confusion and physical darkness
slipping down the kitchen stairs. The visitor, however, brought himself
up safely on the door-mat.
Still the footman said 'Walk in,' so the visitor followed him. At the
inner hall-door, another bottle seemed to be presented and another
stopper taken out. This second vial appeared to be filled with
concentrated provisions and extract of Sink from the pantry. After a
skirmish in the narrow passage, occasioned by the footman's opening the
door of the dismal dining-room with confidence, finding some one there
with consternation, and backing on the visitor with disorder, the
visitor was shut up, pending his announcement, in a close back parlour.
There he had an opportunity of refreshing himself with both the
bottles at once, looking out at a low blinding wall three feet off,
and speculating on the number of Barnacle families within the bills of
mortality who lived in such hutches of their own free flunkey choice.
Mr Barnacle would see him. Would he walk up-stairs? He would, and
he did; and in the drawing-room, with his leg on a rest, he found Mr
Barnacle himself, the express image and presentment of How not to do it.
Mr Barnacle dated from a better time, when the country was not so
parsimonious and the Circumlocution Office was not so badgered. He wound
and wound folds of white cravat round his neck, as he wound and wound
folds of tape and paper round the neck of the country. His wristbands
and collar were oppressive; his voice and manner were oppressive. He
had a large watch-chain and bunch of seals, a coat buttoned up to
inconvenience, a waistcoat buttoned up to inconvenience, an unwrinkled
pair of trousers, a stiff pair of boots. He was altogether splendid,
massive, overpowering, and impracticable. He seemed to have been sitting
for his portrait to Sir Thomas Lawrence all the days of his life.
'Mr Clennam?' said Mr Barnacle. 'Be seated.'
Mr Clennam became seated.
'You have called on me, I believe,' said Mr Barnacle, 'at the
Circumlocution--' giving it the air of a word of about five-and-twenty
'I have taken that liberty.'
Mr Barnacle solemnly bent his head as who should say, 'I do not deny
that it is a liberty; proceed to take another liberty, and let me know
'Allow me to observe that I have been for some years in China, am quite
a stranger at home, and have no personal motive or interest in the
inquiry I am about to make.'
Mr Barnacle tapped his fingers on the table, and, as if he were now
sitting for his portrait to a new and strange artist, appeared to say
to his visitor, 'If you will be good enough to take me with my present
lofty expression, I shall feel obliged.'
'I have found a debtor in the Marshalsea Prison of the name of Dorrit,
who has been there many years. I wish to investigate his confused
affairs so far as to ascertain whether it may not be possible, after
this lapse of time, to ameliorate his unhappy condition. The name of
Mr Tite Barnacle has been mentioned to me as representing some highly
influential interest among his creditors. Am I correctly informed?'
It being one of the principles of the Circumlocution Office never, on
any account whatever, to give a straightforward answer, Mr Barnacle
'On behalf of the Crown, may I ask, or as private individual?'
'The Circumlocution Department, sir,' Mr Barnacle replied, 'may have
possibly recommended--possibly--I cannot say--that some public claim
against the insolvent estate of a firm or copartnership to which this
person may have belonged, should be enforced. The question may have
been, in the course of official business, referred to the Circumlocution
Department for its consideration. The Department may have either
originated, or confirmed, a Minute making that recommendation.'
'I assume this to be the case, then.'
'The Circumlocution Department,' said Mr Barnacle, 'is not responsible
for any gentleman's assumptions.'
'May I inquire how I can obtain official information as to the real
state of the case?'
'It is competent,' said Mr Barnacle, 'to any member of the--Public,'
mentioning that obscure body with reluctance, as his natural enemy,
'to memorialise the Circumlocution Department. Such formalities as are
required to be observed in so doing, may be known on application to the
proper branch of that Department.'
'Which is the proper branch?'
'I must refer you,' returned Mr Barnacle, ringing the bell, 'to the
Department itself for a formal answer to that inquiry.'
'Excuse my mentioning--'
'The Department is accessible to the--Public,' Mr Barnacle was always
checked a little by that word of impertinent signification, 'if
the--Public approaches it according to the official forms; if
the--Public does not approach it according to the official forms,
the--Public has itself to blame.'
Mr Barnacle made him a severe bow, as a wounded man of family, a wounded
man of place, and a wounded man of a gentlemanly residence, all rolled
into one; and he made Mr Barnacle a bow, and was shut out into Mews
Street by the flabby footman.
Having got to this pass, he resolved as an exercise in perseverance,
to betake himself again to the Circumlocution Office, and try what
satisfaction he could get there. So he went back to the Circumlocution
Office, and once more sent up his card to Barnacle junior by a messenger
who took it very ill indeed that he should come back again, and who was
eating mashed potatoes and gravy behind a partition by the hall fire.
He was readmitted to the presence of Barnacle junior, and found that
young gentleman singeing his knees now, and gaping his weary way on
to four o'clock. 'I say. Look here. You stick to us in a devil of a
manner,' Said Barnacle junior, looking over his shoulder.
'I want to know--'
'Look here. Upon my soul you mustn't come into the place saying you
want to know, you know,' remonstrated Barnacle junior, turning about and
putting up the eye-glass.
'I want to know,' said Arthur Clennam, who had made up his mind to
persistence in one short form of words, 'the precise nature of the claim
of the Crown against a prisoner for debt, named Dorrit.'
'I say. Look here. You really are going it at a great pace, you know.
Egad, you haven't got an appointment,' said Barnacle junior, as if the
thing were growing serious.
'I want to know,' said Arthur, and repeated his case.
Barnacle junior stared at him until his eye-glass fell out, and then
put it in again and stared at him until it fell out again. 'You have
no right to come this sort of move,' he then observed with the greatest
weakness. 'Look here. What do you mean? You told me you didn't know
whether it was public business or not.'
'I have now ascertained that it is public business,' returned the
suitor, 'and I want to know'--and again repeated his monotonous inquiry.
Its effect upon young Barnacle was to make him repeat in a defenceless
way, 'Look here! Upon my SOUL you mustn't come into the place saying you
want to know, you know!' The effect of that upon Arthur Clennam was
to make him repeat his inquiry in exactly the same words and tone
as before. The effect of that upon young Barnacle was to make him a
wonderful spectacle of failure and helplessness.
'Well, I tell you what. Look here. You had better try the Secretarial
Department,' he said at last, sidling to the bell and ringing it.
'Jenkinson,' to the mashed potatoes messenger, 'Mr Wobbler!'
Arthur Clennam, who now felt that he had devoted himself to the storming
of the Circumlocution Office, and must go through with it, accompanied
the messenger to another floor of the building, where that functionary
pointed out Mr Wobbler's room. He entered that apartment, and found two
gentlemen sitting face to face at a large and easy desk, one of whom was
polishing a gun-barrel on his pocket-handkerchief, while the other was
spreading marmalade on bread with a paper-knife.
'Mr Wobbler?' inquired the suitor.
Both gentlemen glanced at him, and seemed surprised at his assurance.
'So he went,' said the gentleman with the gun-barrel, who was an
extremely deliberate speaker, 'down to his cousin's place, and took the
Dog with him by rail. Inestimable Dog. Flew at the porter fellow when he
was put into the dog-box, and flew at the guard when he was taken out.
He got half-a-dozen fellows into a Barn, and a good supply of Rats, and
timed the Dog. Finding the Dog able to do it immensely, made the match,
and heavily backed the Dog. When the match came off, some devil of
a fellow was bought over, Sir, Dog was made drunk, Dog's master was
'Mr Wobbler?' inquired the suitor.
The gentleman who was spreading the marmalade returned, without looking
up from that occupation, 'What did he call the Dog?'
'Called him Lovely,' said the other gentleman. 'Said the Dog was the
perfect picture of the old aunt from whom he had expectations. Found him
particularly like her when hocussed.'
'Mr Wobbler?' said the suitor.
Both gentlemen laughed for some time. The gentleman with the gun-barrel,
considering it, on inspection, in a satisfactory state, referred it to
the other; receiving confirmation of his views, he fitted it into its
place in the case before him, and took out the stock and polished that,
'Mr Wobbler?' said the suitor.
'What's the matter?' then said Mr Wobbler, with his mouth full.
'I want to know--' and Arthur Clennam again mechanically set forth what
he wanted to know.
'Can't inform you,' observed Mr Wobbler, apparently to his lunch. 'Never
heard of it. Nothing at all to do with it. Better try Mr Clive, second
door on the left in the next passage.'
'Perhaps he will give me the same answer.'
'Very likely. Don't know anything about it,' said Mr Wobbler.
The suitor turned away and had left the room, when the gentleman with
the gun called out 'Mister! Hallo!'
He looked in again.
'Shut the door after you. You're letting in a devil of a draught here!'
A few steps brought him to the second door on the left in the next
passage. In that room he found three gentlemen; number one doing nothing
particular, number two doing nothing particular, number three doing
nothing particular. They seemed, however, to be more directly concerned
than the others had been in the effective execution of the great
principle of the office, as there was an awful inner apartment with a
double door, in which the Circumlocution Sages appeared to be assembled
in council, and out of which there was an imposing coming of papers,
and into which there was an imposing going of papers, almost constantly;
wherein another gentleman, number four, was the active instrument.
'I want to know,' said Arthur Clennam,--and again stated his case in the
same barrel-organ way. As number one referred him to number two, and
as number two referred him to number three, he had occasion to state
it three times before they all referred him to number four, to whom he
stated it again.
Number four was a vivacious, well-looking, well-dressed, agreeable
young fellow--he was a Barnacle, but on the more sprightly side of
the family--and he said in an easy way, 'Oh! you had better not bother
yourself about it, I think.'
'Not bother myself about it?'
'No! I recommend you not to bother yourself about it.'
This was such a new point of view that Arthur Clennam found himself at a
loss how to receive it.
'You can if you like. I can give you plenty of forms to fill up. Lots of
'em here. You can have a dozen if you like. But you'll never go on with
it,' said number four.
'Would it be such hopeless work? Excuse me; I am a stranger in England.'
'I don't say it would be hopeless,' returned number four, with a frank
smile. 'I don't express an opinion about that; I only express an opinion
about you. I don't think you'd go on with it. However, of course, you
can do as you like. I suppose there was a failure in the performance of
a contract, or something of that kind, was there?'
'I really don't know.'
'Well! That you can find out. Then you'll find out what Department the
contract was in, and then you'll find out all about it there.'
'I beg your pardon. How shall I find out?'
'Why, you'll--you'll ask till they tell you. Then you'll memorialise
that Department (according to regular forms which you'll find out) for
leave to memorialise this Department. If you get it (which you may after
a time), that memorial must be entered in that Department, sent to
be registered in this Department, sent back to be signed by that
Department, sent back to be countersigned by this Department, and then
it will begin to be regularly before that Department. You'll find out
when the business passes through each of these stages by asking at both
Departments till they tell you.'
'But surely this is not the way to do the business,' Arthur Clennam
could not help saying.
This airy young Barnacle was quite entertained by his simplicity in
supposing for a moment that it was. This light in hand young Barnacle
knew perfectly that it was not. This touch and go young Barnacle had
'got up' the Department in a private secretaryship, that he might
be ready for any little bit of fat that came to hand; and he fully
understood the Department to be a politico-diplomatic hocus pocus piece
of machinery for the assistance of the nobs in keeping off the
snobs. This dashing young Barnacle, in a word, was likely to become a
statesman, and to make a figure.
'When the business is regularly before that Department, whatever it is,'
pursued this bright young Barnacle, 'then you can watch it from time
to time through that Department. When it comes regularly before this
Department, then you must watch it from time to time through this
Department. We shall have to refer it right and left; and when we refer
it anywhere, then you'll have to look it up. When it comes back to us
at any time, then you had better look US up. When it sticks anywhere,
you'll have to try to give it a jog. When you write to another
Department about it, and then to this Department about it, and don't
hear anything satisfactory about it, why then you had better--keep on
Arthur Clennam looked very doubtful indeed. 'But I am obliged to you at
any rate,' said he, 'for your politeness.'
'Not at all,' replied this engaging young Barnacle. 'Try the thing, and
see how you like it. It will be in your power to give it up at any time,
if you don't like it. You had better take a lot of forms away with you.
Give him a lot of forms!' With which instruction to number two, this
sparkling young Barnacle took a fresh handful of papers from numbers one
and three, and carried them into the sanctuary to offer to the presiding
Idol of the Circumlocution Office.
Arthur Clennam put his forms in his pocket gloomily enough, and went
his way down the long stone passage and the long stone staircase. He had
come to the swing doors leading into the street, and was waiting, not
over patiently, for two people who were between him and them to pass out
and let him follow, when the voice of one of them struck familiarly on
his ear. He looked at the speaker and recognised Mr Meagles. Mr Meagles
was very red in the face--redder than travel could have made him--and
collaring a short man who was with him, said, 'come out, you rascal,
It was such an unexpected hearing, and it was also such an unexpected
sight to see Mr Meagles burst the swing doors open, and emerge into the
street with the short man, who was of an unoffending appearance, that
Clennam stood still for the moment exchanging looks of surprise with the
porter. He followed, however, quickly; and saw Mr Meagles going down
the street with his enemy at his side. He soon came up with his old
travelling companion, and touched him on the back. The choleric face
which Mr Meagles turned upon him smoothed when he saw who it was, and he
put out his friendly hand.
'How are you?' said Mr Meagles. 'How d'ye do? I have only just come over
from abroad. I am glad to see you.'
'And I am rejoiced to see you.'
'Mrs Meagles and your daughter--?'
'Are as well as possible,' said Mr Meagles. 'I only wish you had come
upon me in a more prepossessing condition as to coolness.'
Though it was anything but a hot day, Mr Meagles was in a heated state
that attracted the attention of the passersby; more particularly as
he leaned his back against a railing, took off his hat and cravat, and
heartily rubbed his steaming head and face, and his reddened ears and
neck, without the least regard for public opinion.
'Whew!' said Mr Meagles, dressing again. 'That's comfortable. Now I am
'You have been ruffled, Mr Meagles. What is the matter?'
'Wait a bit, and I'll tell you. Have you leisure for a turn in the
'As much as you please.'
'Come along then. Ah! you may well look at him.' He happened to have
turned his eyes towards the offender whom Mr Meagles had so angrily
collared. 'He's something to look at, that fellow is.'
He was not much to look at, either in point of size or in point of
dress; being merely a short, square, practical looking man, whose hair
had turned grey, and in whose face and forehead there were deep lines of
cogitation, which looked as though they were carved in hard wood. He
was dressed in decent black, a little rusty, and had the appearance of
a sagacious master in some handicraft. He had a spectacle-case in his
hand, which he turned over and over while he was thus in question,
with a certain free use of the thumb that is never seen but in a hand
accustomed to tools.
'You keep with us,' said Mr Meagles, in a threatening kind of Way, 'and
I'll introduce you presently. Now then!'
Clennam wondered within himself, as they took the nearest way to the
Park, what this unknown (who complied in the gentlest manner) could have
been doing. His appearance did not at all justify the suspicion that he
had been detected in designs on Mr Meagles's pocket-handkerchief; nor
had he any appearance of being quarrelsome or violent. He was a quiet,
plain, steady man; made no attempt to escape; and seemed a little
depressed, but neither ashamed nor repentant. If he were a criminal
offender, he must surely be an incorrigible hypocrite; and if he were no
offender, why should Mr Meagles have collared him in the Circumlocution
Office? He perceived that the man was not a difficulty in his own
mind alone, but in Mr Meagles's too; for such conversation as they had
together on the short way to the Park was by no means well sustained,
and Mr Meagles's eye always wandered back to the man, even when he spoke
of something very different.
At length they being among the trees, Mr Meagles stopped short, and
'Mr Clennam, will you do me the favour to look at this man? His name
is Doyce, Daniel Doyce. You wouldn't suppose this man to be a notorious
rascal; would you?'
'I certainly should not.' It was really a disconcerting question, with
the man there.
'No. You would not. I know you would not. You wouldn't suppose him to be
a public offender; would you?'
'No. But he is. He is a public offender. What has he been guilty of?
Murder, manslaughter, arson, forgery, swindling, house-breaking, highway
robbery, larceny, conspiracy, fraud? Which should you say, now?'
'I should say,' returned Arthur Clennam, observing a faint smile in
Daniel Doyce's face, 'not one of them.'
'You are right,' said Mr Meagles. 'But he has been ingenious, and he has
been trying to turn his ingenuity to his country's service. That makes
him a public offender directly, sir.'
Arthur looked at the man himself, who only shook his head.
'This Doyce,' said Mr Meagles, 'is a smith and engineer. He is not in a
large way, but he is well known as a very ingenious man. A dozen years
ago, he perfects an invention (involving a very curious secret process)
of great importance to his country and his fellow-creatures. I won't say
how much money it cost him, or how many years of his life he had been
about it, but he brought it to perfection a dozen years ago. Wasn't it a
dozen?' said Mr Meagles, addressing Doyce. 'He is the most exasperating
man in the world; he never complains!'
'Yes. Rather better than twelve years ago.'
'Rather better?' said Mr Meagles, 'you mean rather worse. Well, Mr
Clennam, he addresses himself to the Government. The moment he addresses
himself to the Government, he becomes a public offender! Sir,' said Mr
Meagles, in danger of making himself excessively hot again, 'he ceases
to be an innocent citizen, and becomes a culprit.
He is treated from that instant as a man who has done some infernal
action. He is a man to be shirked, put off, brow-beaten, sneered at,
handed over by this highly-connected young or old gentleman, to that
highly-connected young or old gentleman, and dodged back again; he is a
man with no rights in his own time, or his own property; a mere outlaw,
whom it is justifiable to get rid of anyhow; a man to be worn out by all
It was not so difficult to believe, after the morning's experience, as
Mr Meagles supposed.
'Don't stand there, Doyce, turning your spectacle-case over and over,'
cried Mr Meagles, 'but tell Mr Clennam what you confessed to me.'
'I undoubtedly was made to feel,' said the inventor, 'as if I had
committed an offence. In dancing attendance at the various offices, I
was always treated, more or less, as if it was a very bad offence. I
have frequently found it necessary to reflect, for my own self-support,
that I really had not done anything to bring myself into the Newgate
Calendar, but only wanted to effect a great saving and a great
'There!' said Mr Meagles. 'Judge whether I exaggerate. Now you'll be
able to believe me when I tell you the rest of the case.'
With this prelude, Mr Meagles went through the narrative; the
established narrative, which has become tiresome; the matter-of-course
narrative which we all know by heart. How, after interminable attendance
and correspondence, after infinite impertinences, ignorances, and
insults, my lords made a Minute, number three thousand four hundred
and seventy-two, allowing the culprit to make certain trials of his
invention at his own expense.
How the trials were made in the presence of a board of six, of whom two
ancient members were too blind to see it, two other ancient members were
too deaf to hear it, one other ancient member was too lame to get near
it, and the final ancient member was too pig-headed to look at it. How
there were more years; more impertinences, ignorances, and insults. How
my lords then made a Minute, number five thousand one hundred and three,
whereby they resigned the business to the Circumlocution Office. How the
Circumlocution Office, in course of time, took up the business as if
it were a bran new thing of yesterday, which had never been heard of
before; muddled the business, addled the business, tossed the business
in a wet blanket. How the impertinences, ignorances, and insults went
through the multiplication table. How there was a reference of the
invention to three Barnacles and a Stiltstalking, who knew nothing about
it; into whose heads nothing could be hammered about it; who got bored
about it, and reported physical impossibilities about it. How the
Circumlocution Office, in a Minute, number eight thousand seven hundred
and forty, 'saw no reason to reverse the decision at which my lords had
arrived.' How the Circumlocution Office, being reminded that my lords
had arrived at no decision, shelved the business. How there had been
a final interview with the head of the Circumlocution Office that very
morning, and how the Brazen Head had spoken, and had been, upon the
whole, and under all the circumstances, and looking at it from the
various points of view, of opinion that one of two courses was to be
pursued in respect of the business: that was to say, either to leave it
alone for evermore, or to begin it all over again.
'Upon which,' said Mr Meagles, 'as a practical man, I then and there, in
that presence, took Doyce by the collar, and told him it was plain to
me that he was an infamous rascal and treasonable disturber of the
government peace, and took him away. I brought him out of the office
door by the collar, that the very porter might know I was a practical
man who appreciated the official estimate of such characters; and here
If that airy young Barnacle had been there, he would have frankly told
them perhaps that the Circumlocution Office had achieved its function.
That what the Barnacles had to do, was to stick on to the national ship
as long as they could. That to trim the ship, lighten the ship, clean
the ship, would be to knock them off; that they could but be knocked off
once; and that if the ship went down with them yet sticking to it, that
was the ship's look out, and not theirs.
'There!' said Mr Meagles, 'now you know all about Doyce. Except, which I
own does not improve my state of mind, that even now you don't hear him
'You must have great patience,' said Arthur Clennam, looking at him with
some wonder, 'great forbearance.'
'No,' he returned, 'I don't know that I have more than another man.'
'By the Lord, you have more than I have, though!' cried Mr Meagles.
Doyce smiled, as he said to Clennam, 'You see, my experience of these
things does not begin with myself. It has been in my way to know a
little about them from time to time. Mine is not a particular case. I am
not worse used than a hundred others who have put themselves in the same
position--than all the others, I was going to say.'
'I don't know that I should find that a consolation, if it were my case;
but I am very glad that you do.'
'Understand me! I don't say,' he replied in his steady, planning
way, and looking into the distance before him as if his grey eye were
measuring it, 'that it's recompense for a man's toil and hope; but it's
a certain sort of relief to know that I might have counted on this.'
He spoke in that quiet deliberate manner, and in that undertone, which
is often observable in mechanics who consider and adjust with great
nicety. It belonged to him like his suppleness of thumb, or his peculiar
way of tilting up his hat at the back every now and then, as if he were
contemplating some half-finished work of his hand and thinking about it.
'Disappointed?' he went on, as he walked between them under the trees.
'Yes. No doubt I am disappointed. Hurt? Yes. No doubt I am hurt. That's
only natural. But what I mean when I say that people who put themselves
in the same position are mostly used in the same way--'
'In England,' said Mr Meagles.
'Oh! of course I mean in England. When they take their inventions into
foreign countries, that's quite different. And that's the reason why so
many go there.'
Mr Meagles very hot indeed again.
'What I mean is, that however this comes to be the regular way of our
government, it is its regular way. Have you ever heard of any projector
or inventor who failed to find it all but inaccessible, and whom it did
not discourage and ill-treat?'
'I cannot say that I ever have.'
'Have you ever known it to be beforehand in the adoption of any useful
thing? Ever known it to set an example of any useful kind?'
'I am a good deal older than my friend here,' said Mr Meagles, 'and I'll
answer that. Never.'
'But we all three have known, I expect,' said the inventor, 'a pretty
many cases of its fixed determination to be miles upon miles, and years
upon years, behind the rest of us; and of its being found out persisting
in the use of things long superseded, even after the better things were
well known and generally taken up?'
They all agreed upon that.
'Well then,' said Doyce, with a sigh, 'as I know what such a metal will
do at such a temperature, and such a body under such a pressure, so I
may know (if I will only consider), how these great lords and gentlemen
will certainly deal with such a matter as mine.
I have no right to be surprised, with a head upon my shoulders, and
memory in it, that I fall into the ranks with all who came before me. I
ought to have let it alone. I have had warning enough, I am sure.'
With that he put up his spectacle-case, and said to Arthur, 'If I don't
complain, Mr Clennam, I can feel gratitude; and I assure you that I
feel it towards our mutual friend. Many's the day, and many's the way in
which he has backed me.'
'Stuff and nonsense,' said Mr Meagles.
Arthur could not but glance at Daniel Doyce in the ensuing silence.
Though it was evidently in the grain of his character, and of his
respect for his own case, that he should abstain from idle murmuring,
it was evident that he had grown the older, the sterner, and the poorer,
for his long endeavour. He could not but think what a blessed thing
it would have been for this man, if he had taken a lesson from the
gentlemen who were so kind as to take a nation's affairs in charge, and
had learnt How not to do it.
Mr Meagles was hot and despondent for about five minutes, and then began
to cool and clear up.
'Come, come!' said he. 'We shall not make this the better by being grim.
Where do you think of going, Dan?'
'I shall go back to the factory,' said Dan. 'Why then, we'll all go
back to the factory, or walk in that direction,' returned Mr Meagles
cheerfully. 'Mr Clennam won't be deterred by its being in Bleeding Heart
'Bleeding Heart Yard?' said Clennam. 'I want to go there.'
'So much the better,' cried Mr Meagles. 'Come along!'
As they went along, certainly one of the party, and probably more than
one, thought that Bleeding Heart Yard was no inappropriate destination
for a man who had been in official correspondence with my lords and the
Barnacles--and perhaps had a misgiving also that Britannia herself might
come to look for lodgings in Bleeding Heart Yard some ugly day or other,
if she over-did the Circumlocution Office.
CHAPTER 11. Let Loose
A late, dull autumn night was closing in upon the river Saone. The
stream, like a sullied looking-glass in a gloomy place, reflected the
clouds heavily; and the low banks leaned over here and there, as if they
were half curious, and half afraid, to see their darkening pictures in
the water. The flat expanse of country about Chalons lay a long heavy
streak, occasionally made a little ragged by a row of poplar trees
against the wrathful sunset. On the banks of the river Saone it was wet,
depressing, solitary; and the night deepened fast.
One man slowly moving on towards Chalons was the only visible figure in
the landscape. Cain might have looked as lonely and avoided. With an old
sheepskin knapsack at his back, and a rough, unbarked stick cut out of
some wood in his hand; miry, footsore, his shoes and gaiters trodden
out, his hair and beard untrimmed; the cloak he carried over his
shoulder, and the clothes he wore, sodden with wet; limping along in
pain and difficulty; he looked as if the clouds were hurrying from him,
as if the wail of the wind and the shuddering of the grass were directed
against him, as if the low mysterious plashing of the water murmured at
him, as if the fitful autumn night were disturbed by him.
He glanced here, and he glanced there, sullenly but shrinkingly; and
sometimes stopped and turned about, and looked all round him. Then he
limped on again, toiling and muttering.
'To the devil with this plain that has no end! To the devil with these
stones that cut like knives! To the devil with this dismal darkness,
wrapping itself about one with a chill! I hate you!'
And he would have visited his hatred upon it all with the scowl he threw
about him, if he could. He trudged a little further; and looking into
the distance before him, stopped again. 'I, hungry, thirsty, weary. You,
imbeciles, where the lights are yonder, eating and drinking, and warming
yourselves at fires! I wish I had the sacking of your town; I would
repay you, my children!'
But the teeth he set at the town, and the hand he shook at the town,
brought the town no nearer; and the man was yet hungrier, and thirstier,
and wearier, when his feet were on its jagged pavement, and he stood
looking about him.
There was the hotel with its gateway, and its savoury smell of cooking;
there was the cafe with its bright windows, and its rattling of
dominoes; there was the dyer's with its strips of red cloth on the
doorposts; there was the silversmith's with its earrings, and its
offerings for altars; there was the tobacco dealer's with its lively
group of soldier customers coming out pipe in mouth; there were the bad
odours of the town, and the rain and the refuse in the kennels, and
the faint lamps slung across the road, and the huge Diligence, and its
mountain of luggage, and its six grey horses with their tails tied up,
getting under weigh at the coach office. But no small cabaret for a
straitened traveller being within sight, he had to seek one round the
dark corner, where the cabbage leaves lay thickest, trodden about the
public cistern at which women had not yet left off drawing water. There,
in the back street he found one, the Break of Day. The curtained windows
clouded the Break of Day, but it seemed light and warm, and it announced
in legible inscriptions with appropriate pictorial embellishment
of billiard cue and ball, that at the Break of Day one could play
billiards; that there one could find meat, drink, and lodgings, whether
one came on horseback, or came on foot; and that it kept good wines,
liqueurs, and brandy. The man turned the handle of the Break of Day
door, and limped in.
He touched his discoloured slouched hat, as he came in at the door, to
a few men who occupied the room. Two were playing dominoes at one of the
little tables; three or four were seated round the stove, conversing
as they smoked; the billiard-table in the centre was left alone for the
time; the landlady of the Daybreak sat behind her little counter among
her cloudy bottles of syrups, baskets of cakes, and leaden drainage for
glasses, working at her needle.
Making his way to an empty little table in a corner of the room behind
the stove, he put down his knapsack and his cloak upon the ground. As
he raised his head from stooping to do so, he found the landlady beside
'One can lodge here to-night, madame?'
'Perfectly!' said the landlady in a high, sing-song, cheery voice.
'Good. One can dine--sup--what you please to call it?'
'Ah, perfectly!' cried the landlady as before. 'Dispatch then, madame,
if you please. Something to eat, as quickly as you can; and some wine at
once. I am exhausted.'
'It is very bad weather, monsieur,' said the landlady.
'And a very long road.'
'A cursed road.'
His hoarse voice failed him, and he rested his head upon his hands until
a bottle of wine was brought from the counter. Having filled and emptied
his little tumbler twice, and having broken off an end from the great
loaf that was set before him with his cloth and napkin, soup-plate,
salt, pepper, and oil, he rested his back against the corner of the
wall, made a couch of the bench on which he sat, and began to chew
crust, until such time as his repast should be ready. There had been
that momentary interruption of the talk about the stove, and that
temporary inattention to and distraction from one another, which is
usually inseparable in such a company from the arrival of a stranger. It
had passed over by this time; and the men had done glancing at him, and
were talking again.
'That's the true reason,' said one of them, bringing a story he had
been telling, to a close, 'that's the true reason why they said that the
devil was let loose.' The speaker was the tall Swiss belonging to the
church, and he brought something of the authority of the church into the
discussion--especially as the devil was in question.
The landlady having given her directions for the new guest's
entertainment to her husband, who acted as cook to the Break of Day, had
resumed her needlework behind her counter. She was a smart, neat, bright
little woman, with a good deal of cap and a good deal of stocking, and
she struck into the conversation with several laughing nods of her head,
but without looking up from her work.
'Ah Heaven, then,' said she. 'When the boat came up from Lyons, and
brought the news that the devil was actually let loose at Marseilles,
some fly-catchers swallowed it. But I? No, not I.'
'Madame, you are always right,' returned the tall Swiss. 'Doubtless you
were enraged against that man, madame?'
'Ay, yes, then!' cried the landlady, raising her eyes from her work,
opening them very wide, and tossing her head on one side. 'Naturally,
'He was a bad subject.'
'He was a wicked wretch,' said the landlady, 'and well merited what he
had the good fortune to escape. So much the worse.'
'Stay, madame! Let us see,' returned the Swiss, argumentatively turning
his cigar between his lips. 'It may have been his unfortunate destiny.
He may have been the child of circumstances. It is always possible that
he had, and has, good in him if one did but know how to find it out.
Philosophical philanthropy teaches--'
The rest of the little knot about the stove murmured an objection to
the introduction of that threatening expression. Even the two players
at dominoes glanced up from their game, as if to protest against
philosophical philanthropy being brought by name into the Break of Day.
'Hold there, you and your philanthropy,' cried the smiling landlady,
nodding her head more than ever. 'Listen then. I am a woman, I. I know
nothing of philosophical philanthropy. But I know what I have seen, and
what I have looked in the face in this world here, where I find myself.
And I tell you this, my friend, that there are people (men and women
both, unfortunately) who have no good in them--none. That there are
people whom it is necessary to detest without compromise. That there are
people who must be dealt with as enemies of the human race. That there
are people who have no human heart, and who must be crushed like savage
beasts and cleared out of the way. They are but few, I hope; but I have
seen (in this world here where I find myself, and even at the little
Break of Day) that there are such people. And I do not doubt that this
man--whatever they call him, I forget his name--is one of them.'
The landlady's lively speech was received with greater favour at
the Break of Day, than it would have elicited from certain amiable
whitewashers of the class she so unreasonably objected to, nearer Great
'My faith! If your philosophical philanthropy,' said the landlady,
putting down her work, and rising to take the stranger's soup from her
husband, who appeared with it at a side door, 'puts anybody at the mercy
of such people by holding terms with them at all, in words or deeds, or
both, take it away from the Break of Day, for it isn't worth a sou.'
As she placed the soup before the guest, who changed his attitude to a
sitting one, he looked her full in the face, and his moustache went up
under his nose, and his nose came down over his moustache.
'Well!' said the previous speaker, 'let us come back to our subject.
Leaving all that aside, gentlemen, it was because the man was acquitted
on his trial that people said at Marseilles that the devil was let
loose. That was how the phrase began to circulate, and what it meant;
'How do they call him?' said the landlady. 'Biraud, is it not?'
'Rigaud, madame,' returned the tall Swiss.
'Rigaud! To be sure.'
The traveller's soup was succeeded by a dish of meat, and that by a dish
of vegetables. He ate all that was placed before him, emptied his bottle
of wine, called for a glass of rum, and smoked his cigarette with
his cup of coffee. As he became refreshed, he became overbearing; and
patronised the company at the Daybreak in certain small talk at which he
assisted, as if his condition were far above his appearance.
The company might have had other engagements, or they might have felt
their inferiority, but in any case they dispersed by degrees, and not
being replaced by other company, left their new patron in possession of
the Break of Day. The landlord was clinking about in his kitchen; the
landlady was quiet at her work; and the refreshed traveller sat smoking
by the stove, warming his ragged feet.
'Pardon me, madame--that Biraud.'
'Rigaud. Pardon me again--has contracted your displeasure, how?'
The landlady, who had been at one moment thinking within herself that
this was a handsome man, at another moment that this was an ill-looking
man, observed the nose coming down and the moustache going up, and
strongly inclined to the latter decision. Rigaud was a criminal, she
said, who had killed his wife.
'Ay, ay? Death of my life, that's a criminal indeed. But how do you know
'All the world knows it.'
'Hah! And yet he escaped justice?'
'Monsieur, the law could not prove it against him to its satisfaction.
So the law says. Nevertheless, all the world knows he did it. The people
knew it so well, that they tried to tear him to pieces.'
'Being all in perfect accord with their own wives?' said the guest.
The landlady of the Break of Day looked at him again, and felt almost
confirmed in her last decision. He had a fine hand, though, and he
turned it with a great show. She began once more to think that he was
not ill-looking after all.
'Did you mention, madame--or was it mentioned among the gentlemen--what
became of him?' The landlady shook her head; it being the first
conversational stage at which her vivacious earnestness had ceased to
nod it, keeping time to what she said. It had been mentioned at the
Daybreak, she remarked, on the authority of the journals, that he had
been kept in prison for his own safety. However that might be, he had
escaped his deserts; so much the worse.
The guest sat looking at her as he smoked out his final cigarette, and
as she sat with her head bent over her work, with an expression that
might have resolved her doubts, and brought her to a lasting conclusion
on the subject of his good or bad looks if she had seen it. When she did
look up, the expression was not there. The hand was smoothing his shaggy
moustache. 'May one ask to be shown to bed, madame?'
Very willingly, monsieur. Hola, my husband! My husband would conduct him
up-stairs. There was one traveller there, asleep, who had gone to bed
very early indeed, being overpowered by fatigue; but it was a large
chamber with two beds in it, and space enough for twenty. This the
landlady of the Break of Day chirpingly explained, calling between
whiles, 'Hola, my husband!' out at the side door.
My husband answered at length, 'It is I, my wife!' and presenting
himself in his cook's cap, lighted the traveller up a steep and narrow
staircase; the traveller carrying his own cloak and knapsack, and
bidding the landlady good night with a complimentary reference to the
pleasure of seeing her again to-morrow. It was a large room, with a
rough splintery floor, unplastered rafters overhead, and two bedsteads
on opposite sides. Here 'my husband' put down the candle he carried, and
with a sidelong look at his guest stooping over his knapsack, gruffly
gave him the instruction, 'The bed to the right!' and left him to his
repose. The landlord, whether he was a good or a bad physiognomist, had
fully made up his mind that the guest was an ill-looking fellow.
The guest looked contemptuously at the clean coarse bedding prepared for
him, and, sitting down on the rush chair at the bedside, drew his money
out of his pocket, and told it over in his hand. 'One must eat,' he
muttered to himself, 'but by Heaven I must eat at the cost of some other
As he sat pondering, and mechanically weighing his money in his palm,
the deep breathing of the traveller in the other bed fell so regularly
upon his hearing that it attracted his eyes in that direction. The man
was covered up warm, and had drawn the white curtain at his head, so
that he could be only heard, not seen. But the deep regular breathing,
still going on while the other was taking off his worn shoes and
gaiters, and still continuing when he had laid aside his coat and
cravat, became at length a strong provocative to curiosity, and
incentive to get a glimpse of the sleeper's face.
The waking traveller, therefore, stole a little nearer, and yet a little
nearer, and a little nearer to the sleeping traveller's bed, until he
stood close beside it. Even then he could not see his face, for he had
drawn the sheet over it. The regular breathing still continuing, he put
his smooth white hand (such a treacherous hand it looked, as it went
creeping from him!) to the sheet, and gently lifted it away.
'Death of my soul!' he whispered, falling back, 'here's Cavalletto!'
The little Italian, previously influenced in his sleep, perhaps, by the
stealthy presence at his bedside, stopped in his regular breathing, and
with a long deep respiration opened his eyes. At first they were not
awake, though open. He lay for some seconds looking placidly at his
old prison companion, and then, all at once, with a cry of surprise and
alarm, sprang out of bed.
'Hush! What's the matter? Keep quiet! It's I. You know me?' cried the
other, in a suppressed voice.
But John Baptist, widely staring, muttering a number of invocations
and ejaculations, tremblingly backing into a corner, slipping on
his trousers, and tying his coat by the two sleeves round his neck,
manifested an unmistakable desire to escape by the door rather than
renew the acquaintance. Seeing this, his old prison comrade fell back
upon the door, and set his shoulders against it.
'Cavalletto! Wake, boy! Rub your eyes and look at me. Not the name you
used to call me--don't use that--Lagnier, say Lagnier!'
John Baptist, staring at him with eyes opened to their utmost width,
made a number of those national, backhanded shakes of the right
forefinger in the air, as if he were resolved on negativing beforehand
everything that the other could possibly advance during the whole term
of his life.
'Cavalletto! Give me your hand. You know Lagnier, the gentleman. Touch
the hand of a gentleman!'
Submitting himself to the old tone of condescending authority, John
Baptist, not at all steady on his legs as yet, advanced and put his
hand in his patron's. Monsieur Lagnier laughed; and having given it a
squeeze, tossed it up and let it go.
'Then you were--' faltered John Baptist.
'Not shaved? No. See here!' cried Lagnier, giving his head a twirl; 'as
tight on as your own.'
John Baptist, with a slight shiver, looked all round the room as if to
recall where he was. His patron took that opportunity of turning the key
in the door, and then sat down upon his bed.
'Look!' he said, holding up his shoes and gaiters. 'That's a poor trim
for a gentleman, you'll say. No matter, you shall see how Soon I'll mend
it. Come and sit down. Take your old place!'
John Baptist, looking anything but reassured, sat down on the floor at
the bedside, keeping his eyes upon his patron all the time.
'That's well!' cried Lagnier. 'Now we might be in the old infernal hole
again, hey? How long have you been out?'
'Two days after you, my master.'
'How do you come here?'
'I was cautioned not to stay there, and so I left the town at once,
and since then I have changed about. I have been doing odds and ends at
Avignon, at Pont Esprit, at Lyons; upon the Rhone, upon the Saone.' As
he spoke, he rapidly mapped the places out with his sunburnt hand upon
the floor. 'And where are you going?'
'Going, my master?'
John Baptist seemed to desire to evade the question without knowing how.
'By Bacchus!' he said at last, as if he were forced to the admission, 'I
have sometimes had a thought of going to Paris, and perhaps to England.'
'Cavalletto. This is in confidence. I also am going to Paris and perhaps
to England. We'll go together.'
The little man nodded his head, and showed his teeth; and yet seemed not
quite convinced that it was a surpassingly desirable arrangement.
'We'll go together,' repeated Lagnier. 'You shall see how soon I will
force myself to be recognised as a gentleman, and you shall profit by
it. It is agreed? Are we one?'
'Oh, surely, surely!' said the little man.
'Then you shall hear before I sleep--and in six words, for I want
sleep--how I appear before you, I, Lagnier. Remember that. Not the
'Altro, altro! Not Ri--' Before John Baptist could finish the name, his
comrade had got his hand under his chin and fiercely shut up his mouth.
'Death! what are you doing? Do you want me to be trampled upon and
stoned? Do YOU want to be trampled upon and stoned? You would be. You
don't imagine that they would set upon me, and let my prison chum go?
Don't think it!' There was an expression in his face as he released his
grip of his friend's jaw, from which his friend inferred that if the
course of events really came to any stoning and trampling, Monsieur
Lagnier would so distinguish him with his notice as to ensure his
having his full share of it. He remembered what a cosmopolitan gentleman
Monsieur Lagnier was, and how few weak distinctions he made.
'I am a man,' said Monsieur Lagnier, 'whom society has deeply wronged
since you last saw me. You know that I am sensitive and brave, and that
it is my character to govern. How has society respected those qualities
in me? I have been shrieked at through the streets. I have been guarded
through the streets against men, and especially women, running at me
armed with any weapons they could lay their hands on. I have lain in
prison for security, with the place of my confinement kept a secret,
lest I should be torn out of it and felled by a hundred blows. I have
been carted out of Marseilles in the dead of night, and carried leagues
away from it packed in straw. It has not been safe for me to go near my
house; and, with a beggar's pittance in my pocket, I have walked through
vile mud and weather ever since, until my feet are crippled--look at
them! Such are the humiliations that society has inflicted upon me,
possessing the qualities I have mentioned, and which you know me to
possess. But society shall pay for it.'
All this he said in his companion's ear, and with his hand before his
'Even here,' he went on in the same way, 'even in this mean
drinking-shop, society pursues me. Madame defames me, and her guests
defame me. I, too, a gentleman with manners and accomplishments
to strike them dead! But the wrongs society has heaped upon me are
treasured in this breast.'
To all of which John Baptist, listening attentively to the suppressed
hoarse voice, said from time to time, 'Surely, surely!' tossing his
head and shutting his eyes, as if there were the clearest case against
society that perfect candour could make out.
'Put my shoes there,' continued Lagnier. 'Hang my cloak to dry there
by the door. Take my hat.' He obeyed each instruction, as it was given.
'And this is the bed to which society consigns me, is it? Hah. Very
As he stretched out his length upon it, with a ragged handkerchief
bound round his wicked head, and only his wicked head showing above the
bedclothes, John Baptist was rather strongly reminded of what had so
very nearly happened to prevent the moustache from any more going up as
it did, and the nose from any more coming down as it did.
'Shaken out of destiny's dice-box again into your company, eh? By
Heaven! So much the better for you. You'll profit by it. I shall need a
long rest. Let me sleep in the morning.'
John Baptist replied that he should sleep as long as he would, and
wishing him a happy night, put out the candle. One might have Supposed
that the next proceeding of the Italian would have been to undress;
but he did exactly the reverse, and dressed himself from head to foot,
saving his shoes. When he had so done, he lay down upon his bed with
some of its coverings over him, and his coat still tied round his neck,
to get through the night.
When he started up, the Godfather Break of Day was peeping at its
namesake. He rose, took his shoes in his hand, turned the key in the
door with great caution, and crept downstairs. Nothing was astir there
but the smell of coffee, wine, tobacco, and syrups; and madame's little
counter looked ghastly enough. But he had paid madame his little note
at it over night, and wanted to see nobody--wanted nothing but to get on
his shoes and his knapsack, open the door, and run away.
He prospered in his object. No movement or voice was heard when he
opened the door; no wicked head tied up in a ragged handkerchief looked
out of the upper window. When the sun had raised his full disc above the
flat line of the horizon, and was striking fire out of the long muddy
vista of paved road with its weary avenue of little trees, a black speck
moved along the road and splashed among the flaming pools of rain-water,
which black speck was John Baptist Cavalletto running away from his
CHAPTER 12. Bleeding Heart Yard
In London itself, though in the old rustic road towards a suburb of note
where in the days of William Shakespeare, author and stage-player, there
were Royal hunting-seats--howbeit no sport is left there now but for
hunters of men--Bleeding Heart Yard was to be found; a place much
changed in feature and in fortune, yet with some relish of ancient
greatness about it. Two or three mighty stacks of chimneys, and a few
large dark rooms which had escaped being walled and subdivided out of
the recognition of their old proportions, gave the Yard a character.
It was inhabited by poor people, who set up their rest among its faded
glories, as Arabs of the desert pitch their tents among the fallen
stones of the Pyramids; but there was a family sentimental feeling
prevalent in the Yard, that it had a character.
As if the aspiring city had become puffed up in the very ground on which
it stood, the ground had so risen about Bleeding Heart Yard that you
got into it down a flight of steps which formed no part of the original
approach, and got out of it by a low gateway into a maze of shabby
streets, which went about and about, tortuously ascending to the level
again. At this end of the Yard and over the gateway, was the factory of
Daniel Doyce, often heavily beating like a bleeding heart of iron,
with the clink of metal upon metal. The opinion of the Yard was divided
respecting the derivation of its name. The more practical of its inmates
abided by the tradition of a murder; the gentler and more imaginative
inhabitants, including the whole of the tender sex, were loyal to the
legend of a young lady of former times closely imprisoned in her chamber
by a cruel father for remaining true to her own true love, and refusing
to marry the suitor he chose for her. The legend related how that the
young lady used to be seen up at her window behind the bars, murmuring a
love-lorn song of which the burden was, 'Bleeding Heart, Bleeding Heart,
bleeding away,' until she died. It was objected by the murderous party
that this Refrain was notoriously the invention of a tambour-worker, a
spinster and romantic, still lodging in the Yard. But, forasmuch as all
favourite legends must be associated with the affections, and as many
more people fall in love than commit murder--which it may be hoped,
howsoever bad we are, will continue until the end of the world to be
the dispensation under which we shall live--the Bleeding Heart, Bleeding
Heart, bleeding away story, carried the day by a great majority. Neither
party would listen to the antiquaries who delivered learned lectures in
the neighbourhood, showing the Bleeding Heart to have been the heraldic
cognisance of the old family to whom the property had once belonged.
And, considering that the hour-glass they turned from year to year was
filled with the earthiest and coarsest sand, the Bleeding Heart Yarders
had reason enough for objecting to be despoiled of the one little golden
grain of poetry that sparkled in it.
Down in to the Yard, by way of the steps, came Daniel Doyce, Mr Meagles,
and Clennam. Passing along the Yard, and between the open doors on
either hand, all abundantly garnished with light children nursing heavy
ones, they arrived at its opposite boundary, the gateway. Here Arthur
Clennam stopped to look about him for the domicile of Plornish,
plasterer, whose name, according to the custom of Londoners, Daniel
Doyce had never seen or heard of to that hour.
It was plain enough, nevertheless, as Little Dorrit had said; over a
lime-splashed gateway in the corner, within which Plornish kept a ladder
and a barrel or two. The last house in Bleeding Heart Yard which she
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