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    Chapter 26

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    Chapter 27
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    CHAPTER 26

    Nobody's State of Mind

    If Arthur Clennam had not arrived at that wise decision firmly to
    restrain himself from loving Pet, he would have lived on in a state
    of much perplexity, involving difficult struggles with his own
    heart. Not the least of these would have been a contention, always
    waging within it, between a tendency to dislike Mr Henry Gowan, if
    not to regard him with positive repugnance, and a whisper that the
    inclination was unworthy. A generous nature is not prone to strong
    aversions, and is slow to admit them even dispassionately; but when
    it finds ill-will gaining upon it, and can discern between-whiles
    that its origin is not dispassionate, such a nature becomes
    distressed.

    Therefore Mr Henry Gowan would have clouded Clennam's mind, and
    would have been far oftener present to it than more agreeable
    persons and subjects but for the great prudence of his decision
    aforesaid. As it was, Mr Gowan seemed transferred to Daniel
    Doyce's mind; at all events, it so happened that it usually fell to
    Mr Doyce's turn, rather than to Clennam's, to speak of him in the
    friendly conversations they held together. These were of frequent
    occurrence now; as the two partners shared a portion of a roomy
    house in one of the grave old-fashioned City streets, lying not far
    from the Bank of England, by London Wall.

    Mr Doyce had been to Twickenham to pass the day. Clennam had
    excused himself. Mr Doyce was just come home. He put in his head
    at the door of Clennam's sitting-room to say Good night.

    'Come in, come in!' said Clennam.

    'I saw you were reading,' returned Doyce, as he entered, 'and
    thought you might not care to be disturbed.'

    But for the notable resolution he had made, Clennam really might
    not have known what he had been reading; really might not have had
    his eyes upon the book for an hour past, though it lay open before
    him. He shut it up, rather quickly.

    'Are they well?' he asked.

    'Yes,' said Doyce; 'they are well. They are all well.'

    Daniel had an old workmanlike habit of carrying his pocket-
    handkerchief in his hat. He took it out and wiped his forehead
    with it, slowly repeating, 'They are all well. Miss Minnie looking
    particularly well, I thought.'

    'Any company at the cottage?'

    'No, no company.'
    'And how did you get on, you four?' asked Clennam gaily.

    'There were five of us,' returned his partner. 'There was What's-
    his-name. He was there.'
    'Who is he?' said Clennam.

    'Mr Henry Gowan.'

    'Ah, to be sure!' cried Clennam with unusual vivacity, 'Yes!--I
    forgot him.'

    'As I mentioned, you may remember,' said Daniel Doyce, 'he is
    always there on Sunday.'

    'Yes, yes,' returned Clennam; 'I remember now.'

    Daniel Doyce, still wiping his forehead, ploddingly repeated.
    'Yes. He was there, he was there. Oh yes, he was there. And his
    dog. He was there too.'

    'Miss Meagles is quite attached to--the--dog,' observed Clennam.

    'Quite so,' assented his partner. 'More attached to the dog than
    I am to the man.'

    'You mean Mr--?'

    'I mean Mr Gowan, most decidedly,' said Daniel Doyce.

    There was a gap in the conversation, which Clennam devoted to
    winding up his watch.

    'Perhaps you are a little hasty in your judgment,' he said. 'Our
    judgments--I am supposing a general case--'

    'Of course,' said Doyce.

    'Are so liable to be influenced by many considerations, which,
    almost without our knowing it, are unfair, that it is necessary to
    keep a guard upon them. For instance, Mr--'

    'Gowan,' quietly said Doyce, upon whom the utterance of the name
    almost always devolved.

    'Is young and handsome, easy and quick, has talent, and has seen a
    good deal of various kinds of life. It might be difficult to give
    an unselfish reason for being prepossessed against him.'

    'Not difficult for me, I think, Clennam,' returned his partner. 'I
    see him bringing present anxiety, and, I fear, future sorrow, into
    my old friend's house. I see him wearing deeper lines into my old
    friend's face, the nearer he draws to, and the oftener he looks at,
    the face of his daughter. In short, I see him with a net about the
    pretty and affectionate creature whom he will never make happy.'
    'We don't know,' said Clennam, almost in the tone of a man in pain,
    'that he will not make her happy.'

    'We don't know,' returned his partner, 'that the earth will last
    another hundred years, but we think it highly probable.'

    'Well, well!' said Clennam, 'we must be hopeful, and we must at
    least try to be, if not generous (which, in this case, we have no
    opportunity of being), just. We will not disparage this gentleman,
    because he is successful in his addresses to the beautiful object
    of his ambition; and we will not question her natural right to
    bestow her love on one whom she finds worthy of it.'

    'Maybe, my friend,' said Doyce. 'Maybe also, that she is too young
    and petted, too confiding and inexperienced, to discriminate well.'

    'That,' said Clennam, 'would be far beyond our power of
    correction.'

    Daniel Doyce shook his head gravely, and rejoined, 'I fear so.'

    'Therefore, in a word,' said Clennam, 'we should make up our minds
    that it is not worthy of us to say any ill of Mr Gowan. It would
    be a poor thing to gratify a prejudice against him. And I resolve,
    for my part, not to depreciate him.'

    'I am not quite so sure of myself, and therefore I reserve my
    privilege of objecting to him,' returned the other. 'But, if I am
    not sure of myself, I am sure of you, Clennam, and I know what an
    upright man you are, and how much to be respected. Good night, MY
    friend and partner!' He shook his hand in saying this, as if there
    had been something serious at the bottom of their conversation; and
    they separated.

    By this time they had visited the family on several occasions, and
    had always observed that even a passing allusion to Mr Henry Gowan
    when he was not among them, brought back the cloud which had
    obscured Mr Meagles's sunshine on the morning of the chance
    encounter at the Ferry. If Clennam had ever admitted the forbidden
    passion into his breast, this period might have been a period of
    real trial; under the actual circumstances, doubtless it was
    nothing--nothing.

    Equally, if his heart had given entertainment to that prohibited
    guest, his silent fighting of his way through the mental condition
    of this period might have been a little meritorious. In the
    constant effort not to be betrayed into a new phase of the
    besetting sin of his experience, the pursuit of selfish objects by
    low and small means, and to hold instead to some high principle of
    honour and generosity, there might have been a little merit. In
    the resolution not even to avoid Mr Meagles's house, lest, in the
    selfish sparing of himself, he should bring any slight distress
    upon the daughter through making her the cause of an estrangement
    which he believed the father would regret, there might have been a
    little merit. In the modest truthfulness of always keeping in view
    the greater equality of Mr Gowan's years and the greater
    attractions of his person and manner, there might have been a
    little merit. In doing all this and much more, in a perfectly
    unaffected way and with a manful and composed constancy, while the
    pain within him (peculiar as his life and history) was very sharp,
    there might have been some quiet strength of character. But, after
    the resolution he had made, of course he could have no such merits
    as these; and such a state of mind was nobody's--nobody's.

    Mr Gowan made it no concern of his whether it was nobody's or
    somebody's. He preserved his perfect serenity of manner on all
    occasions, as if the possibility of Clennam's presuming to have
    debated the great question were too distant and ridiculous to be
    imagined. He had always an affability to bestow on Clennam and an
    ease to treat him with, which might of itself (in the
    supposititious case of his not having taken that sagacious course)
    have been a very uncomfortable element in his state of mind.

    'I quite regret you were not with us yesterday,' said Mr Henry
    Gowan, calling on Clennam the next morning. 'We had an agreeable
    day up the river there.'

    So he had heard, Arthur said.

    'From your partner?' returned Henry Gowan. 'What a dear old fellow
    he is!'

    'I have a great regard for him.'

    'By Jove, he is the finest creature!' said Gowan. 'So fresh, so
    green, trusts in such wonderful things!'

    Here was one of the many little rough points that had a tendency to
    grate on Clennam's hearing. He put it aside by merely repeating
    that he had a high regard for Mr Doyce.

    'He is charming! To see him mooning along to that time of life,
    laying down nothing by the way and picking up nothing by the way,
    is delightful. It warms a man. So unspoilt, so simple, such a
    good soul! Upon my life Mr Clennam, one feels desperately worldly
    and wicked in comparison with such an innocent creature. I speak
    for myself, let me add, without including you. You are genuine
    also.'

    'Thank you for the compliment,' said Clennam, ill at ease; 'you are
    too, I hope?'

    'So so,' rejoined the other. 'To be candid with you, tolerably.
    I am not a great impostor. Buy one of my pictures, and I assure
    you, in confidence, it will not be worth the money. Buy one of
    another man's--any great professor who beats me hollow--and the
    chances are that the more you give him, the more he'll impose upon
    you. They all do it.'
    'All painters?'

    'Painters, writers, patriots, all the rest who have stands in the
    market. Give almost any man I know ten pounds, and he will impose
    upon you to a corresponding extent; a thousand pounds--to a
    corresponding extent; ten thousand pounds--to a corresponding
    extent. So great the success, so great the imposition. But what
    a capital world it is!' cried Gowan with warm enthusiasm. 'What a
    jolly, excellent, lovable world it is!'

    'I had rather thought,' said Clennam, 'that the principle you
    mention was chiefly acted on by--'

    'By the Barnacles?' interrupted Gowan, laughing.

    'By the political gentlemen who condescend to keep the
    Circumlocution Office.'

    'Ah! Don't be hard upon the Barnacles,' said Gowan, laughing
    afresh, 'they are darling fellows! Even poor little Clarence, the
    born idiot of the family, is the most agreeable and most endearing
    blockhead! And by Jupiter, with a kind of cleverness in him too
    that would astonish you!'

    'It would. Very much,' said Clennam, drily.

    'And after all,' cried Gowan, with that characteristic balancing of
    his which reduced everything in the wide world to the same light
    weight, 'though I can't deny that the Circumlocution Office may
    ultimately shipwreck everybody and everything, still, that will
    probably not be in our time--and it's a school for gentlemen.'

    'It's a very dangerous, unsatisfactory, and expensive school to the
    people who pay to keep the pupils there, I am afraid,' said
    Clennam, shaking his head.

    'Ah! You are a terrible fellow,' returned Gowan, airily. 'I can
    understand how you have frightened that little donkey, Clarence,
    the most estimable of moon-calves (I really love him) nearly out of
    his wits. But enough of him, and of all the rest of them. I want
    to present you to my mother, Mr Clennam. Pray do me the favour to
    give me the opportunity.'

    In nobody's state of mind, there was nothing Clennam would have
    desired less, or would have been more at a loss how to avoid.

    'My mother lives in a most primitive manner down in that dreary
    red-brick dungeon at Hampton Court,' said Gowan. 'If you would
    make your own appointment, suggest your own day for permitting me
    to take you there to dinner, you would be bored and she would be
    charmed. Really that's the state of the case.'

    What could Clennam say after this? His retiring character included
    a great deal that was simple in the best sense, because unpractised
    and unused; and in his simplicity and modesty, he could only say
    that he was happy to place himself at Mr Gowan's disposal.
    Accordingly he said it, and the day was fixed. And a dreaded day
    it was on his part, and a very unwelcome day when it came and they
    went down to Hampton Court together.

    The venerable inhabitants of that venerable pile seemed, in those
    times, to be encamped there like a sort of civilised gipsies.
    There was a temporary air about their establishments, as if they
    were going away the moment they could get anything better; there
    was also a dissatisfied air about themselves, as if they took it
    very ill that they had not already got something much better.
    Genteel blinds and makeshifts were more or less observable as soon
    as their doors were opened; screens not half high enough, which
    made dining-rooms out of arched passages, and warded off obscure
    corners where footboys slept at nights with their heads among the
    knives and forks; curtains which called upon you to believe that
    they didn't hide anything; panes of glass which requested you not
    to see them; many objects of various forms, feigning to have no
    connection with their guilty secret, a bed; disguised traps in
    walls, which were clearly coal-cellars; affectations of no
    thoroughfares, which were evidently doors to little kitchens.
    Mental reservations and artful mysteries grew out of these things.
    Callers looking steadily into the eyes of their receivers,
    pretended not to smell cooking three feet off; people, confronting
    closets accidentally left open, pretended not to see bottles;
    visitors with their heads against a partition of thin canvas, and
    a page and a young female at high words on the other side, made
    believe to be sitting in a primeval silence. There was no end to
    the small social accommodation-bills of this nature which the
    gipsies of gentility were constantly drawing upon, and accepting
    for, one another.

    Some of these Bohemians were of an irritable temperament, as
    constantly soured and vexed by two mental trials: the first, the
    consciousness that they had never got enough out of the public; the
    second, the consciousness that the public were admitted into the
    building. Under the latter great wrong, a few suffered
    dreadfully--particularly on Sundays, when they had for some time
    expected the earth to open and swallow the public up; but which
    desirable event had not yet occurred, in consequence of some
    reprehensible laxity in the arrangements of the Universe.

    Mrs Gowan's door was attended by a family servant of several years'
    standing, who had his own crow to pluck with the public concerning
    a situation in the Post-Office which he had been for some time
    expecting, and to which he was not yet appointed. He perfectly
    knew that the public could never have got him in, but he grimly
    gratified himself with the idea that the public kept him out.
    Under the influence of this injury (and perhaps of some little
    straitness and irregularity in the matter of wages), he had grown
    neglectful of his person and morose in mind; and now beholding in
    Clennam one of the degraded body of his oppressors, received him
    with ignominy.
    Mrs Gowan, however, received him with condescension. He found her
    a courtly old lady, formerly a Beauty, and still sufficiently well-
    favoured to have dispensed with the powder on her nose and a
    certain impossible bloom under each eye. She was a little lofty
    with him; so was another old lady, dark-browed and high-nosed, and
    who must have had something real about her or she could not have
    existed, but it was certainly not her hair or her teeth or her
    figure or her complexion; so was a grey old gentleman of dignified
    and sullen appearance; both of whom had come to dinner. But, as
    they had all been in the British Embassy way in sundry parts of the
    earth, and as a British Embassy cannot better establish a character
    with the Circumlocution Office than by treating its compatriots
    with illimitable contempt (else it would become like the Embassies
    of other countries), Clennam felt that on the whole they let him
    off lightly.

    The dignified old gentleman turned out to be Lord Lancaster
    Stiltstalking, who had been maintained by the Circumlocution Office
    for many years as a representative of the Britannic Majesty abroad.

    This noble Refrigerator had iced several European courts in his
    time, and had done it with such complete success that the very name
    of Englishman yet struck cold to the stomachs of foreigners who had
    the distinguished honour of remembering him at a distance of a
    quarter of a century.

    He was now in retirement, and hence (in a ponderous white cravat,
    like a stiff snow-drift) was so obliging as to shade the dinner.
    There was a whisper of the pervading Bohemian character in the
    nomadic nature of the service and its curious races of plates and
    dishes; but the noble Refrigerator, infinitely better than plate or
    porcelain, made it superb. He shaded the dinner, cooled the wines,
    chilled the gravy, and blighted the vegetables.

    There was only one other person in the room: a microscopically
    small footboy, who waited on the malevolent man who hadn't got into
    the Post-Office. Even this youth, if his jacket could have been
    unbuttoned and his heart laid bare, would have been seen, as a
    distant adherent of the Barnacle family, already to aspire to a
    situation under Government.

    Mrs Gowan with a gentle melancholy upon her, occasioned by her
    son's being reduced to court the swinish public as a follower of
    the low Arts, instead of asserting his birthright and putting a
    ring through its nose as an acknowledged Barnacle, headed the
    conversation at dinner on the evil days. It was then that Clennam
    learned for the first time what little pivots this great world goes
    round upon.

    'If John Barnacle,' said Mrs Gowan, after the degeneracy of the
    times had been fully ascertained, 'if John Barnacle had but
    abandoned his most unfortunate idea of conciliating the mob, all
    would have been well, and I think the country would have been
    preserved.'
    The old lady with the high nose assented; but added that if
    Augustus Stiltstalking had in a general way ordered the cavalry out
    with instructions to charge, she thought the country would have
    been preserved.

    The noble Refrigerator assented; but added that if William Barnacle
    and Tudor Stiltstalking, when they came over to one another and
    formed their ever-memorable coalition, had boldly muzzled the
    newspapers, and rendered it penal for any Editor-person to presume
    to discuss the conduct of any appointed authority abroad or at
    home, he thought the country would have been preserved.

    It was agreed that the country (another word for the Barnacles and
    Stiltstalkings) wanted preserving, but how it came to want
    preserving was not so clear. It was only clear that the question
    was all about John Barnacle, Augustus Stiltstalking, William
    Barnacle and Tudor Stiltstalking, Tom, Dick, or Harry Barnacle or
    Stiltstalking, because there was nobody else but mob. And this was
    the feature of the conversation which impressed Clennam, as a man
    not used to it, very disagreeably: making him doubt if it were
    quite right to sit there, silently hearing a great nation narrowed
    to such little bounds. Remembering, however, that in the
    Parliamentary debates, whether on the life of that nation's body or
    the life of its soul, the question was usually all about and
    between John Barnacle, Augustus Stiltstalking, William Barnacle and
    Tudor Stiltstalking, Tom, Dick, or Harry Barnacle or Stiltstalking,
    and nobody else; he said nothing on the part of mob, bethinking
    himself that mob was used to it.

    Mr Henry Gowan seemed to have a malicious pleasure in playing off
    the three talkers against each other, and in seeing Clennam
    startled by what they said. Having as supreme a contempt for the
    class that had thrown him off as for the class that had not taken
    him on, he had no personal disquiet in anything that passed. His
    healthy state of mind appeared even to derive a gratification from
    Clennam's position of embarrassment and isolation among the good
    company; and if Clennam had been in that condition with which
    Nobody was incessantly contending, he would have suspected it, and
    would have struggled with the suspicion as a meanness, even while
    he sat at the table.

    In the course of a couple of hours the noble Refrigerator, at no
    time less than a hundred years behind the period, got about five
    centuries in arrears, and delivered solemn political oracles
    appropriate to that epoch. He finished by freezing a cup of tea
    for his own drinking, and retiring at his lowest temperature. Then
    Mrs Gowan, who had been accustomed in her days of a vacant arm-
    chair beside her to which to summon state to retain her devoted
    slaves, one by one, for short audiences as marks of her especial
    favour, invited Clennam with a turn of her fan to approach the
    presence. He obeyed, and took the tripod recently vacated by Lord
    Lancaster Stiltstalking.

    'Mr Clennam,' said Mrs Gowan, 'apart from the happiness I have in
    becoming known to you, though in this odiously inconvenient place--
    a mere barrack--there is a subject on which I am dying to speak to
    you. It is the subject in connection with which my son first had,
    I believe, the pleasure of cultivating your acquaintance.'

    Clennam inclined his head, as a generally suitable reply to what he
    did not yet quite understand.

    'First,' said Mrs Gowan, 'now, is she really pretty?'

    In nobody's difficulties, he would have found it very difficult to
    answer; very difficult indeed to smile, and say 'Who?'

    'Oh! You know!' she returned. 'This flame of Henry's. This
    unfortunate fancy. There! If it is a point of honour that I
    should originate the name--Miss Mickles--Miggles.'

    'Miss Meagles,' said Clennam, 'is very beautiful.'

    'Men are so often mistaken on those points,' returned Mrs Gowan,
    shaking her head, 'that I candidly confess to you I feel anything
    but sure of it, even now; though it is something to have Henry
    corroborated with so much gravity and emphasis. He picked the
    people up at Rome, I think?'

    The phrase would have given nobody mortal offence. Clennam
    replied, 'Excuse me, I doubt if I understand your expression.'

    'Picked the people up,' said Mrs Gowan, tapping the sticks of her
    closed fan (a large green one, which she used as a hand-screen) on
    her little table. 'Came upon them. Found them out. Stumbled UP
    against them.'

    'The people?'

    'Yes. The Miggles people.'

    'I really cannot say,' said Clennam, 'where my friend Mr Meagles
    first presented Mr Henry Gowan to his daughter.'

    'I am pretty sure he picked her up at Rome; but never mind where--
    somewhere. Now (this is entirely between ourselves), is she very
    plebeian?'

    'Really, ma'am,' returned Clennam, 'I am so undoubtedly plebeian
    myself, that I do not feel qualified to judge.'

    'Very neat!' said Mrs Gowan, coolly unfurling her screen. 'Very
    happy! From which I infer that you secretly think her manner equal
    to her looks?'

    Clennam, after a moment's stiffness, bowed.

    'That's comforting, and I hope you may be right. Did Henry tell me
    you had travelled with them?'
    'I travelled with my friend Mr Meagles, and his wife and daughter,
    during some months.' (Nobody's heart might have been wrung by the
    remembrance.)

    'Really comforting, because you must have had a large experience of
    them. You see, Mr Clennam, this thing has been going on for a long
    time, and I find no improvement in it. Therefore to have the
    opportunity of speaking to one so well informed about it as
    yourself, is an immense relief to me. Quite a boon. Quite a
    blessing, I am sure.'

    'Pardon me,' returned Clennam, 'but I am not in Mr Henry Gowan's
    confidence. I am far from being so well informed as you suppose me
    to be. Your mistake makes my position a very delicate one. No
    word on this topic has ever passed between Mr Henry Gowan and
    myself.'

    Mrs Gowan glanced at the other end of the room, where her son was
    playing ecarte on a sofa, with the old lady who was for a charge of
    cavalry.

    'Not in his confidence? No,' said Mrs Gowan. 'No word has passed
    between you? No. That I can imagine. But there are unexpressed
    confidences, Mr Clennam; and as you have been together intimately
    among these people, I cannot doubt that a confidence of that sort
    exists in the present case. Perhaps you have heard that I have
    suffered the keenest distress of mind from Henry's having taken to
    a pursuit which--well!' shrugging her shoulders, 'a very
    respectable pursuit, I dare say, and some artists are, as artists,
    quite superior persons; still, we never yet in our family have gone
    beyond an Amateur, and it is a pardonable weakness to feel a
    little--'

    As Mrs Gowan broke off to heave a sigh, Clennam, however resolute
    to be magnanimous, could not keep down the thought that there was
    mighty little danger of the family's ever going beyond an Amateur,
    even as it was.

    'Henry,' the mother resumed, 'is self-willed and resolute; and as
    these people naturally strain every nerve to catch him, I can
    entertain very little hope, Mr Clennam, that the thing will be
    broken off. I apprehend the girl's fortune will be very small;
    Henry might have done much better; there is scarcely anything to
    compensate for the connection: still, he acts for himself; and if
    I find no improvement within a short time, I see no other course
    than to resign myself and make the best of these people. I am
    infinitely obliged to you for what you have told me.'
    As she shrugged her shoulders, Clennam stiffly bowed again. With
    an uneasy flush upon his face, and hesitation in his manner, he
    then said in a still lower tone than he had adopted yet:

    'Mrs Gowan, I scarcely know how to acquit myself of what I feel to
    be a duty, and yet I must ask you for your kind consideration in
    attempting to discharge it. A misconception on your part, a very
    great misconception if I may venture to call it so, seems to
    require setting right. You have supposed Mr Meagles and his family
    to strain every nerve, I think you said--'

    'Every nerve,' repeated Mrs Gowan, looking at him in calm
    obstinacy, with her green fan between her face and the fire.

    'To secure Mr Henry Gowan?'

    The lady placidly assented.

    'Now that is so far,' said Arthur, 'from being the case, that I
    know Mr Meagles to be unhappy in this matter; and to have
    interposed all reasonable obstacles with the hope of putting an end
    to it.'

    Mrs Gowan shut up her great green fan, tapped him on the arm with
    it, and tapped her smiling lips. 'Why, of course,' said she.
    'Just what I mean.'

    Arthur watched her face for some explanation of what she did mean.

    'Are you really serious, Mr Clennam? Don't you see?'

    Arthur did not see; and said so.

    'Why, don't I know my son, and don't I know that this is exactly
    the way to hold him?' said Mrs Gowan, contemptuously; 'and do not
    these Miggles people know it, at least as well as I? Oh, shrewd
    people, Mr Clennam: evidently people of business! I believe
    Miggles belonged to a Bank. It ought to have been a very
    profitable Bank, if he had much to do with its management. This is
    very well done, indeed.'

    'I beg and entreat you, ma'am--' Arthur interposed.

    'Oh, Mr Clennam, can you really be so credulous?'

    It made such a painful impression upon him to hear her talking in
    this haughty tone, and to see her patting her contemptuous lips
    with her fan, that he said very earnestly, 'Believe me, ma'am, this
    is unjust, a perfectly groundless suspicion.'

    'Suspicion?' repeated Mrs Gowan. 'Not suspicion, Mr Clennam,
    Certainty. It is very knowingly done indeed, and seems to have
    taken YOU in completely.' She laughed; and again sat tapping her
    lips with her fan, and tossing her head, as if she added, 'Don't
    tell me. I know such people will do anything for the honour of
    such an alliance.'

    At this opportune moment, the cards were thrown up, and Mr Henry
    Gowan came across the room saying, 'Mother, if you can spare Mr
    Clennam for this time, we have a long way to go, and it's getting
    late.' Mr Clennam thereupon rose, as he had no choice but to do;
    and Mrs Gowan showed him, to the last, the same look and the same
    tapped contemptuous lips.

    'You have had a portentously long audience of my mother,' said
    Gowan, as the door closed upon them. 'I fervently hope she has not
    bored you?'

    'Not at all,' said Clennam.

    They had a little open phaeton for the journey, and were soon in it
    on the road home. Gowan, driving, lighted a cigar; Clennam
    declined one. Do what he would, he fell into such a mood of
    abstraction that Gowan said again, 'I am very much afraid my mother
    has bored you?' To which he roused himself to answer, 'Not at
    all!' and soon relapsed again.

    In that state of mind which rendered nobody uneasy, his
    thoughtfulness would have turned principally on the man at his
    side. He would have thought of the morning when he first saw him
    rooting out the stones with his heel, and would have asked himself,
    'Does he jerk me out of the path in the same careless, cruel way?'
    He would have thought, had this introduction to his mother been
    brought about by him because he knew what she would say, and that
    he could thus place his position before a rival and loftily warn
    him off, without himself reposing a word of confidence in him? He
    would have thought, even if there were no such design as that, had
    he brought him there to play with his repressed emotions, and
    torment him? The current of these meditations would have been
    stayed sometimes by a rush of shame, bearing a remonstrance to
    himself from his own open nature, representing that to shelter such
    suspicions, even for the passing moment, was not to hold the high,
    unenvious course he had resolved to keep. At those times, the
    striving within him would have been hardest; and looking up and
    catching Gowan's eyes, he would have started as if he had done him
    an injury.

    Then, looking at the dark road and its uncertain objects, he would
    have gradually trailed off again into thinking, 'Where are we
    driving, he and I, I wonder, on the darker road of life? How will
    it be with us, and with her, in the obscure distance?' Thinking of
    her, he would have been troubled anew with a reproachful misgiving
    that it was not even loyal to her to dislike him, and that in being
    so easily prejudiced against him he was less deserving of her than
    at first.

    'You are evidently out of spirits,' said Gowan; 'I am very much
    afraid my mother must have bored you dreadfully.'
    'Believe me, not at all,' said Clennam. 'It's nothing--nothing!'
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