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    Chapter 27

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    Chapter 28
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    CHAPTER 27

    Five-and-Twenty

    A frequently recurring doubt, whether Mr Pancks's desire to collect
    information relative to the Dorrit family could have any possible
    bearing on the misgivings he had imparted to his mother on his
    return from his long exile, caused Arthur Clennam much uneasiness
    at this period. What Mr Pancks already knew about the Dorrit
    family, what more he really wanted to find out, and why he should
    trouble his busy head about them at all, were questions that often
    perplexed him. Mr Pancks was not a man to waste his time and
    trouble in researches prompted by idle curiosity. That he had a
    specific object Clennam could not doubt. And whether the
    attainment of that object by Mr Pancks's industry might bring to
    light, in some untimely way, secret reasons which had induced his
    mother to take Little Dorrit by the hand, was a serious
    speculation.

    Not that he ever wavered either in his desire or his determination
    to repair a wrong that had been done in his father's time, should
    a wrong come to light, and be reparable. The shadow of a supposed
    act of injustice, which had hung over him since his father's death,
    was so vague and formless that it might be the result of a reality
    widely remote from his idea of it. But, if his apprehensions
    should prove to be well founded, he was ready at any moment to lay
    down all he had, and begin the world anew. As the fierce dark
    teaching of his childhood had never sunk into his heart, so that
    first article in his code of morals was, that he must begin, in
    practical humility, with looking well to his feet on Earth, and
    that he could never mount on wings of words to Heaven. Duty on
    earth, restitution on earth, action on earth; these first, as the
    first steep steps upward. Strait was the gate and narrow was the
    way; far straiter and narrower than the broad high road paved with
    vain professions and vain repetitions, motes from other men's eyes
    and liberal delivery of others to the judgment--all cheap materials
    costing absolutely nothing.

    No. It was not a selfish fear or hesitation that rendered him
    uneasy, but a mistrust lest Pancks might not observe his part of
    the understanding between them, and, making any discovery, might
    take some course upon it without imparting it to him. On the other
    hand, when he recalled his conversation with Pancks, and the little
    reason he had to suppose that there was any likelihood of that
    strange personage being on that track at all, there were times when
    he wondered that he made so much of it. Labouring in this sea, as
    all barks labour in cross seas, he tossed about and came to no
    haven.

    The removal of Little Dorrit herself from their customary
    association, did not mend the matter. She was so much out, and so
    much in her own room, that he began to miss her and to find a blank
    in her place. He had written to her to inquire if she were better,
    and she had written back, very gratefully and earnestly telling him
    not to be uneasy on her behalf, for she was quite well; but he had
    not seen her, for what, in their intercourse, was a long time.

    He returned home one evening from an interview with her father, who
    had mentioned that she was out visiting--which was what he always
    said when she was hard at work to buy his supper--and found Mr
    Meagles in an excited state walking up and down his room. On his
    opening the door, Mr Meagles stopped, faced round, and said:

    'Clennam!--Tattycoram!'

    'What's the matter?'

    'Lost!'

    'Why, bless my heart alive!' cried Clennam in amazement. 'What do
    you mean?'

    'Wouldn't count five-and-twenty, sir; couldn't be got to do it;
    stopped at eight, and took herself off.'

    'Left your house?'

    'Never to come back,' said Mr Meagles, shaking his head. 'You
    don't know that girl's passionate and proud character. A team of
    horses couldn't draw her back now; the bolts and bars of the old
    Bastille couldn't keep her.'

    'How did it happen? Pray sit down and tell me.'

    'As to how it happened, it's not so easy to relate: because you
    must have the unfortunate temperament of the poor impetuous girl
    herself, before you can fully understand it. But it came about in
    this way. Pet and Mother and I have been having a good deal of
    talk together of late. I'll not disguise from you, Clennam, that
    those conversations have not been of as bright a kind as I could
    wish; they have referred to our going away again. In proposing to
    do which, I have had, in fact, an object.'

    Nobody's heart beat quickly.

    'An object,' said Mr Meagles, after a moment's pause, 'that I will
    not disguise from you, either, Clennam. There's an inclination on
    the part of my dear child which I am sorry for. Perhaps you guess
    the person. Henry Gowan.'

    'I was not unprepared to hear it.'

    'Well!' said Mr Meagles, with a heavy sigh, 'I wish to God you had
    never had to hear it. However, so it is. Mother and I have done
    all we could to get the better of it, Clennam. We have tried
    tender advice, we have tried time, we have tried absence. As yet,
    of no use. Our late conversations have been upon the subject of
    going away for another year at least, in order that there might be
    an entire separation and breaking off for that term. Upon that
    question, Pet has been unhappy, and therefore Mother and I have
    been unhappy.'
    Clennam said that he could easily believe it.

    'Well!' continued Mr Meagles in an apologetic way, 'I admit as a
    practical man, and I am sure Mother would admit as a practical
    woman, that we do, in families, magnify our troubles and make
    mountains of our molehills in a way that is calculated to be rather
    trying to people who look on--to mere outsiders, you know, Clennam.

    Still, Pet's happiness or unhappiness is quite a life or death
    question with us; and we may be excused, I hope, for making much of
    it. At all events, it might have been borne by Tattycoram. Now,
    don't you think so?'

    'I do indeed think so,' returned Clennam, in most emphatic
    recognition of this very moderate expectation.

    'No, sir,' said Mr Meagles, shaking his head ruefully. 'She
    couldn't stand it. The chafing and firing of that girl, the
    wearing and tearing of that girl within her own breast, has been
    such that I have softly said to her again and again in passing her,
    'Five-and-twenty, Tattycoram, five-and-twenty!" I heartily wish she
    could have gone on counting five-and-twenty day and night, and then
    it wouldn't have happened.'

    Mr Meagles with a despondent countenance in which the goodness of
    his heart was even more expressed than in his times of cheerfulness
    and gaiety, stroked his face down from his forehead to his chin,
    and shook his head again.

    'I said to Mother (not that it was necessary, for she would have
    thought it all for herself), we are practical people, my dear, and
    we know her story; we see in this unhappy girl some reflection of
    what was raging in her mother's heart before ever such a creature
    as this poor thing was in the world; we'll gloss her temper over,
    Mother, we won't notice it at present, my dear, we'll take
    advantage of some better disposition in her another time. So we
    said nothing. But, do what we would, it seems as if it was to be;
    she broke out violently one night.'

    'How, and why?'

    'If you ask me Why,' said Mr Meagles, a little disturbed by the
    question, for he was far more intent on softening her case than the
    family's, 'I can only refer you to what I have just repeated as
    having been pretty near my words to Mother. As to How, we had said
    Good night to Pet in her presence (very affectionately, I must
    allow), and she had attended Pet up-stairs--you remember she was
    her maid. Perhaps Pet, having been out of sorts, may have been a
    little more inconsiderate than usual in requiring services of her:
    but I don't know that I have any right to say so; she was always
    thoughtful and gentle.'

    'The gentlest mistress in the world.'

    'Thank you, Clennam,' said Mr Meagles, shaking him by the hand;
    'you have often seen them together. Well! We presently heard this
    unfortunate Tattycoram loud and angry, and before we could ask what
    was the matter, Pet came back in a tremble, saying she was
    frightened of her. Close after her came Tattycoram in a flaming
    rage. "I hate you all three," says she, stamping her foot at us.
    "I am bursting with hate of the whole house."'

    'Upon which you--?'

    'I?' said Mr Meagles, with a plain good faith that might have
    commanded the belief of Mrs Gowan herself. 'I said, count five-
    and-twenty, Tattycoram.'

    Mr Meagles again stroked his face and shook his head, with an air
    of profound regret.

    'She was so used to do it, Clennam, that even then, such a picture
    of passion as you never saw, she stopped short, looked me full in
    the face, and counted (as I made out) to eight. But she couldn't
    control herself to go any further. There she broke down, poor
    thing, and gave the other seventeen to the four winds. Then it all
    burst out. She detested us, she was miserable with us, she
    couldn't bear it, she wouldn't bear it, she was determined to go
    away. She was younger than her young mistress, and would she
    remain to see her always held up as the only creature who was young
    and interesting, and to be cherished and loved? No. She wouldn't,
    she wouldn't, she wouldn't! What did we think she, Tattycoram,
    might have been if she had been caressed and cared for in her
    childhood, like her young mistress? As good as her? Ah! Perhaps
    fifty times as good. When we pretended to be so fond of one
    another, we exulted over her; that was what we did; we exulted over
    her and shamed her. And all in the house did the same. They
    talked about their fathers and mothers, and brothers and sisters;
    they liked to drag them up before her face. There was Mrs Tickit,
    only yesterday, when her little grandchild was with her, had been
    amused by the child's trying to call her (Tattycoram) by the
    wretched name we gave her; and had laughed at the name. Why, who
    didn't; and who were we that we should have a right to name her
    like a dog or a cat? But she didn't care. She would take no more
    benefits from us; she would fling us her name back again, and she
    would go. She would leave us that minute, nobody should stop her,
    and we should never hear of her again.'

    Mr Meagles had recited all this with such a vivid remembrance of
    his original, that he was almost as flushed and hot by this time as
    he described her to have been.

    'Ah, well!' he said, wiping his face. 'It was of no use trying
    reason then, with that vehement panting creature (Heaven knows what
    her mother's story must have been); so I quietly told her that she
    should not go at that late hour of night, and I gave her MY hand
    and took her to her room, and locked the house doors. But she was
    gone this morning.'
    'And you know no more of her?'

    'No more,' returned Mr Meagles. 'I have been hunting about all
    day. She must have gone very early and very silently. I have
    found no trace of her down about us.'

    'Stay! You want,' said Clennam, after a moment's reflection, 'to
    see her? I assume that?'

    'Yes, assuredly; I want to give her another chance; Mother and Pet
    want to give her another chance; come! You yourself,' said Mr
    Meagles, persuasively, as if the provocation to be angry were not
    his own at all, 'want to give the poor passionate girl another
    chance, I know, Clennam.'

    'It would be strange and hard indeed if I did not,' said Clennam,
    'when you are all so forgiving. What I was going to ask you was,
    have you thought of that Miss Wade?'

    'I have. I did not think of her until I had pervaded the whole of
    our neighbourhood, and I don't know that I should have done so then
    but for finding Mother and Pet, when I went home, full of the idea
    that Tattycoram must have gone to her. Then, of course, I recalled
    what she said that day at dinner when you were first with US.'

    'Have you any idea where Miss Wade is to be found?'

    'To tell you the truth,' returned Mr Meagles, 'it's because I have
    an addled jumble of a notion on that subject that you found me
    waiting here. There is one of those odd impressions in my house,
    which do mysteriously get into houses sometimes, which nobody seems
    to have picked up in a distinct form from anybody, and yet which
    everybody seems to have got hold of loosely from somebody and let
    go again, that she lives, or was living, thereabouts.' Mr Meagles
    handed him a slip of paper, on which was written the name of one of
    the dull by-streets in the Grosvenor region, near Park Lane.

    'Here is no number,' said Arthur looking over it.

    'No number, my dear Clennam?' returned his friend. 'No anything!
    The very name of the street may have been floating in the air; for,
    as I tell you, none of my people can say where they got it from.
    However, it's worth an inquiry; and as I would rather make it in
    company than alone, and as you too were a fellow-traveller of that
    immovable woman's, I thought perhaps--' Clennam finished the
    sentence for him by taking up his hat again, and saying he was
    ready.

    It was now summer-time; a grey, hot, dusty evening. They rode to
    the top of Oxford Street, and there alighting, dived in among the
    great streets of melancholy stateliness, and the little streets
    that try to be as stately and succeed in being more melancholy, of
    which there is a labyrinth near Park Lane. Wildernesses of corner
    houses, with barbarous old porticoes and appurtenances; horrors
    that came into existence under some wrong-headed person in some
    wrong-headed time, still demanding the blind admiration of all
    ensuing generations and determined to do so until they tumbled
    down; frowned upon the twilight. Parasite little tenements, with
    the cramp in their whole frame, from the dwarf hall-door on the
    giant model of His Grace's in the Square to the squeezed window of
    the boudoir commanding the dunghills in the Mews, made the evening
    doleful. Rickety dwellings of undoubted fashion, but of a capacity
    to hold nothing comfortably except a dismal smell, looked like the
    last result of the great mansions' breeding in-and-in; and, where
    their little supplementary bows and balconies were supported on
    thin iron columns, seemed to be scrofulously resting upon crutches.

    Here and there a Hatchment, with the whole science of Heraldry in
    it, loomed down upon the street, like an Archbishop discoursing on
    Vanity. The shops, few in number, made no show; for popular
    opinion was as nothing to them. The pastrycook knew who was on his
    books, and in that knowledge could be calm, with a few glass
    cylinders of dowager peppermint-drops in his window, and half-a-
    dozen ancient specimens of currant-jelly. A few oranges formed the
    greengrocer's whole concession to the vulgar mind. A single basket
    made of moss, once containing plovers' eggs, held all that the
    poulterer had to say to the rabble. Everybody in those streets
    seemed (which is always the case at that hour and season) to be
    gone out to dinner, and nobody seemed to be giving the dinners they
    had gone to. On the doorsteps there were lounging footmen with
    bright parti-coloured plumage and white polls, like an extinct race
    of monstrous birds; and butlers, solitary men of recluse demeanour,
    each of whom appeared distrustful of all other butlers. The roll
    of carriages in the Park was done for the day; the street lamps
    were lighting; and wicked little grooms in the tightest fitting
    garments, with twists in their legs answering to the twists in
    their minds, hung about in pairs, chewing straws and exchanging
    fraudulent secrets. The spotted dogs who went out with the
    carriages, and who were so associated with splendid equipages that
    it looked like a condescension in those animals to come out without
    them, accompanied helpers to and fro on messages. Here and there
    was a retiring public-house which did not require to be supported
    on the shoulders of the people, and where gentlemen out of livery
    were not much wanted.

    This last discovery was made by the two friends in pursuing their
    inquiries. Nothing was there, or anywhere, known of such a person
    as Miss Wade, in connection with the street they sought. It was
    one of the parasite streets; long, regular, narrow, dull and
    gloomy; like a brick and mortar funeral. They inquired at several
    little area gates, where a dejected youth stood spiking his chin on
    the summit of a precipitous little shoot of wooden steps, but could
    gain no information. They walked up the street on one side of the
    way, and down it on the other, what time two vociferous news-
    sellers, announcing an extraordinary event that had never happened
    and never would happen, pitched their hoarse voices into the secret
    chambers; but nothing came of it. At length they stood at the
    corner from which they had begun, and it had fallen quite dark, and
    they were no wiser.

    It happened that in the street they had several times passed a
    dingy house, apparently empty, with bills in the windows,
    announcing that it was to let. The bills, as a variety in the
    funeral procession, almost amounted to a decoration. Perhaps
    because they kept the house separated in his mind, or perhaps
    because Mr Meagles and himself had twice agreed in passing, 'It is
    clear she don't live there,' Clennam now proposed that they should
    go back and try that house before finally going away. Mr Meagles
    agreed, and back they went.

    They knocked once, and they rang once, without any response.

    'Empty,' said Mr Meagles, listening. 'Once more,' said Clennam,
    and knocked again. After that knock they heard a movement below,
    and somebody shuffling up towards the door.

    The confined entrance was so dark that it was impossible to make
    out distinctly what kind of person opened the door; but it appeared
    to be an old woman. 'Excuse our troubling you,' said Clennam.
    'Pray can you tell us where Miss Wade lives?' The voice in the
    darkness unexpectedly replied, 'Lives here.'

    'Is she at home?'

    No answer coming, Mr Meagles asked again. 'Pray is she at home?'

    After another delay, 'I suppose she is,' said the voice abruptly;
    'you had better come in, and I'll ask.'

    They 'were summarily shut into the close black house; and the
    figure rustling away, and speaking from a higher level, said, 'Come
    up, if you please; you can't tumble over anything.' They groped
    their way up-stairs towards a faint light, which proved to be the
    light of the street shining through a window; and the figure left
    them shut in an airless room.

    'This is odd, Clennam,' said Mr Meagles, softly.

    'Odd enough,' assented Clennam in the same tone, 'but we have
    succeeded; that's the main point. Here's a light coming!'

    The light was a lamp, and the bearer was an old woman: very dirty,
    very wrinkled and dry. 'She's at home,' she said (and the voice
    was the same that had spoken before); 'she'll come directly.'
    Having set the lamp down on the table, the old woman dusted her
    hands on her apron, which she might have done for ever without
    cleaning them, looked at the visitors with a dim pair of eyes, and
    backed out.

    The lady whom they had come to see, if she were the present
    occupant of the house, appeared to have taken up her quarters there
    as she might have established herself in an Eastern caravanserai.
    A small square of carpet in the middle of the room, a few articles
    of furniture that evidently did not belong to the room, and a
    disorder of trunks and travelling articles, formed the whole of her
    surroundings. Under some former regular inhabitant, the stifling
    little apartment had broken out into a pier-glass and a gilt table;
    but the gilding was as faded as last year's flowers, and the glass
    was so clouded that it seemed to hold in magic preservation all the
    fogs and bad weather it had ever reflected. The visitors had had
    a minute or two to look about them, when the door opened and Miss
    Wade came in.

    She was exactly the same as when they had parted. just as
    handsome, just as scornful, just as repressed. She manifested no
    surprise in seeing them, nor any other emotion. She requested them
    to be seated; and declining to take a seat herself, at once
    anticipated any introduction of their business.

    'I apprehend,' she said, 'that I know the cause of your favouring
    me with this visit. We may come to it at once.'

    'The cause then, ma'am,' said Mr Meagles, 'is Tattycoram.'

    'So I supposed.'

    'Miss Wade,' said Mr Meagles, 'will you be so kind as to say
    whether you know anything of her?'

    'Surely. I know she is here with me.'

    'Then, ma'am,' said Mr Meagles, 'allow me to make known to you that
    I shall be happy to have her back, and that my wife and daughter
    will be happy to have her back. She has been with us a long time:
    we don't forget her claims upon us, and I hope we know how to make
    allowances.'

    'You hope to know how to make allowances?' she returned, in a
    level, measured voice. 'For what?'

    'I think my friend would say, Miss Wade,' Arthur Clennam
    interposed, seeing Mr Meagles rather at a loss, 'for the passionate
    sense that sometimes comes upon the poor girl, of being at a
    disadvantage. Which occasionally gets the better of better
    remembrances.'

    The lady broke into a smile as she turned her eyes upon him.
    'Indeed?' was all she answered.

    She stood by the table so perfectly composed and still after this
    acknowledgment of his remark that Mr Meagles stared at her under a
    sort of fascination, and could not even look to Clennam to make
    another move. After waiting, awkwardly enough, for some moments,
    Arthur said:
    'Perhaps it would be well if Mr Meagles could see her, Miss Wade?'

    'That is easily done,' said she. 'Come here, child.' She had
    opened a door while saying this, and now led the girl in by the
    hand. It was very curious to see them standing together: the girl
    with her disengaged fingers plaiting the bosom of her dress, half
    irresolutely, half passionately; Miss Wade with her composed face
    attentively regarding her, and suggesting to an observer, with
    extraordinary force, in her composure itself (as a veil will
    suggest the form it covers), the unquenchable passion of her own
    nature.

    'See here,' she said, in the same level way as before. 'Here is
    your patron, your master. He is willing to take you back, my dear,
    if you are sensible of the favour and choose to go. You can be,
    again, a foil to his pretty daughter, a slave to her pleasant
    wilfulness, and a toy in the house showing the goodness of the
    family. You can have your droll name again, playfully pointing you
    out and setting you apart, as it is right that you should be
    pointed out and set apart. (Your birth, you know; you must not
    forget your birth.) You can again be shown to this gentleman's
    daughter, Harriet, and kept before her, as a living reminder of her
    own superiority and her gracious condescension. You can recover
    all these advantages and many more of the same kind which I dare
    say start up in your memory while I speak, and which you lose in
    taking refuge with me--you can recover them all by telling these
    gentlemen how humbled and penitent you are, and by going back to
    them to be forgiven. What do you say, Harriet? Will you go?'

    The girl who, under the influence of these words, had gradually
    risen in anger and heightened in colour, answered, raising her
    lustrous black eyes for the moment, and clenching her hand upon the
    folds it had been puckering up, 'I'd die sooner!'

    Miss Wade, still standing at her side holding her hand, looked
    quietly round and said with a smile, 'Gentlemen! What do you do
    upon that?'

    Poor Mr Meagles's inexpressible consternation in hearing his
    motives and actions so perverted, had prevented him from
    interposing any word until now; but now he regained the power of
    speech.

    'Tattycoram,' said he, 'for I'll call you by that name still, my
    good girl, conscious that I meant nothing but kindness when I gave
    it to you, and conscious that you know it--'

    'I don't!' said she, looking up again, and almost rending herself
    with the same busy hand.

    'No, not now, perhaps,' said Mr Meagles; 'not with that lady's eyes
    so intent upon you, Tattycoram,' she glanced at them for a moment,
    'and that power over you, which we see she exercises; not now,
    perhaps, but at another time. Tattycoram, I'll not ask that lady
    whether she believes what she has said, even in the anger and ill
    blood in which I and my friend here equally know she has spoken,
    though she subdues herself, with a determination that any one who
    has once seen her is not likely to forget. I'll not ask you, with
    your remembrance of my house and all belonging to it, whether you
    believe it. I'll only say that you have no profession to make to
    me or mine, and no forgiveness to entreat; and that all in the
    world that I ask you to do, is, to count five-and-twenty,
    Tattycoram.'

    She looked at him for an instant, and then said frowningly, 'I
    won't. Miss Wade, take me away, please.'

    The contention that raged within her had no softening in it now; it
    was wholly between passionate defiance and stubborn defiance. Her
    rich colour, her quick blood, her rapid breath, were all setting
    themselves against the opportunity of retracing their steps. 'I
    won't. I won't. I won't!' she repeated in a low, thick voice.
    'I'd be torn to pieces first. I'd tear myself to pieces first!'

    Miss Wade, who had released her hold, laid her hand protectingly on
    the girl's neck for a moment, and then said, looking round with her
    former smile and speaking exactly in her former tone, 'Gentlemen!
    What do you do upon that?'

    'Oh, Tattycoram, Tattycoram!' cried Mr Meagles, adjuring her
    besides with an earnest hand. 'Hear that lady's voice, look at
    that lady's face, consider what is in that lady's heart, and think
    what a future lies before you. My child, whatever you may think,
    that lady's influence over you--astonishing to us, and I should
    hardly go too far in saying terrible to us to see--is founded in
    passion fiercer than yours, and temper more violent than yours.
    What can you two be together? What can come of it?'

    'I am alone here, gentlemen,' observed Miss Wade, with no change of
    voice or manner. 'Say anything you will.'

    'Politeness must yield to this misguided girl, ma'am,' said Mr
    Meagles, 'at her present pass; though I hope not altogether to
    dismiss it, even with the injury you do her so strongly before me.
    Excuse me for reminding you in her hearing--I must say it--that you
    were a mystery to all of us, and had nothing in common with any of
    us when she unfortunately fell in your way. I don't know what you
    are, but you don't hide, can't hide, what a dark spirit you have
    within you. If it should happen that you are a woman, who, from
    whatever cause, has a perverted delight in making a sister-woman as
    wretched as she is (I am old enough to have heard of such), I warn
    her against you, and I warn you against yourself.'

    'Gentlemen!' said Miss Wade, calmly. 'When you have concluded--Mr
    Clennam, perhaps you will induce your friend--'

    'Not without another effort,' said Mr Meagles, stoutly.
    'Tattycoram, my poor dear girl, count five-and-twenty.'
    'Do not reject the hope, the certainty, this kind man offers you,'
    said Clennam in a low emphatic voice. 'Turn to the friends you
    have not forgotten. Think once more!'

    'I won't! Miss Wade,' said the girl, with her bosom swelling high,
    and speaking with her hand held to her throat, 'take me away!'

    'Tattycoram,' said Mr Meagles. 'Once more yet! The only thing I
    ask of you in the world, my child! Count five-and-twenty!'

    She put her hands tightly over her ears, confusedly tumbling down
    her bright black hair in the vehemence of the action, and turned
    her face resolutely to the wall. Miss Wade, who had watched her
    under this final appeal with that strange attentive smile, and that
    repressing hand upon her own bosom with which she had watched her
    in her struggle at Marseilles, then put her arm about her waist as
    if she took possession of her for evermore.

    And there was a visible triumph in her face when she turned it to
    dismiss the visitors.

    'As it is the last time I shall have the honour,' she said, 'and as
    you have spoken of not knowing what I am, and also of the
    foundation of my influence here, you may now know that it is
    founded in a common cause. What your broken plaything is as to
    birth, I am. She has no name, I have no name. Her wrong is my
    wrong. I have nothing more to say to you.'

    This was addressed to Mr Meagles, who sorrowfully went out. As
    Clennam followed, she said to him, with the same external composure
    and in the same level voice, but with a smile that is only seen on
    cruel faces: a very faint smile, lifting the nostril, scarcely
    touching the lips, and not breaking away gradually, but instantly
    dismissed when done with:

    'I hope the wife of your dear friend Mr Gowan, may be happy in the
    contrast of her extraction to this girl's and mine, and in the high
    good fortune that awaits her.'
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