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    Chapter 31

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    Chapter 32
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    CHAPTER 31

    Spirit

    Anybody may pass, any day, in the thronged thoroughfares of the
    metropolis, some meagre, wrinkled, yellow old man (who might be
    supposed to have dropped from the stars, if there were any star in
    the Heavens dull enough to be suspected of casting off so feeble a
    spark), creeping along with a scared air, as though bewildered and
    a little frightened by the noise and bustle. This old man is
    always a little old man. If he were ever a big old man, he has
    shrunk into a little old man; if he were always a little old man,
    he has dwindled into a less old man. His coat is a colour, and
    cut, that never was the mode anywhere, at any period. Clearly, it
    was not made for him, or for any individual mortal. Some wholesale
    contractor measured Fate for five thousand coats of such quality,
    and Fate has lent this old coat to this old man, as one of a long
    unfinished line of many old men. It has always large dull metal
    buttons, similar to no other buttons. This old man wears a hat, a
    thumbed and napless and yet an obdurate hat, which has never
    adapted itself to the shape of his poor head. His coarse shirt and
    his coarse neckcloth have no more individuality than his coat and
    hat; they have the same character of not being his--of not being
    anybody's. Yet this old man wears these clothes with a certain
    unaccustomed air of being dressed and elaborated for the public
    ways; as though he passed the greater part of his time in a
    nightcap and gown. And so, like the country mouse in the second
    year of a famine, come to see the town mouse, and timidly threading
    his way to the town-mouse's lodging through a city of cats, this
    old man passes in the streets.

    Sometimes, on holidays towards evening, he will be seen to walk
    with a slightly increased infirmity, and his old eyes will glimmer
    with a moist and marshy light. Then the little old man is drunk.
    A very small measure will overset him; he may be bowled off his
    unsteady legs with a half-pint pot. Some pitying acquaintance--
    chance acquaintance very often--has warmed up his weakness with a
    treat of beer, and the consequence will be the lapse of a longer
    time than usual before he shall pass again. For the little old man
    is going home to the Workhouse; and on his good behaviour they do
    not let him out often (though methinks they might, considering the
    few years he has before him to go out in, under the sun); and on
    his bad behaviour they shut him up closer than ever in a grove of
    two score and nineteen more old men, every one of whom smells of
    all the others.

    Mrs Plornish's father,--a poor little reedy piping old gentleman,
    like a worn-out bird; who had been in what he called the music-
    binding business, and met with great misfortunes, and who had
    seldom been able to make his way, or to see it or to pay it, or to
    do anything at all with it but find it no thoroughfare,--had
    retired of his own accord to the Workhouse which was appointed by
    law to be the Good Samaritan of his district (without the twopence,
    which was bad political economy), on the settlement of that
    execution which had carried Mr Plornish to the Marshalsea College.
    Previous to his son-in-law's difficulties coming to that head, Old
    Nandy (he was always so called in his legal Retreat, but he was Old
    Mr Nandy among the Bleeding Hearts) had sat in a corner of the
    Plornish fireside, and taken his bite and sup out of the Plornish
    cupboard. He still hoped to resume that domestic position when
    Fortune should smile upon his son-in-law; in the meantime, while
    she preserved an immovable countenance, he was, and resolved to
    remain, one of these little old men in a grove of little old men
    with a community of flavour.

    But no poverty in him, and no coat on him that never was the mode,
    and no Old Men's Ward for his dwelling-place, could quench his
    daughter's admiration. Mrs Plornish was as proud of her father's
    talents as she could possibly have been if they had made him Lord
    Chancellor. She had as firm a belief in the sweetness and
    propriety of his manners as she could possibly have had if he had
    been Lord Chamberlain. The poor little old man knew some pale and
    vapid little songs, long out of date, about Chloe, and Phyllis, and
    Strephon being wounded by the son of Venus; and for Mrs Plornish
    there was no such music at the Opera as the small internal
    flutterings and chirpings wherein he would discharge himself of
    these ditties, like a weak, little, broken barrel-organ, ground by
    a baby. On his 'days out,' those flecks of light in his flat vista
    of pollard old men,' it was at once Mrs Plornish's delight and
    sorrow, when he was strong with meat, and had taken his full
    halfpenny-worth of porter, to say, 'Sing us a song, Father.' Then
    he would give them Chloe, and if he were in pretty good spirits,
    Phyllis also--Strephon he had hardly been up to since he went into
    retirement--and then would Mrs Plornish declare she did believe
    there never was such a singer as Father, and wipe her eyes.

    If he had come from Court on these occasions, nay, if he had been
    the noble Refrigerator come home triumphantly from a foreign court
    to be presented and promoted on his last tremendous failure, Mrs
    Plornish could not have handed him with greater elevation about
    Bleeding Heart Yard. 'Here's Father,' she would say, presenting
    him to a neighbour. 'Father will soon be home with us for good,
    now. Ain't Father looking well? Father's a sweeter singer than
    ever; you'd never have forgotten it, if you'd aheard him just now.'

    As to Mr Plornish, he had married these articles of belief in
    marrying Mr Nandy's daughter, and only wondered how it was that so
    gifted an old gentleman had not made a fortune. This he
    attributed, after much reflection, to his musical genius not having
    been scientifically developed in his youth. 'For why,' argued Mr
    Plornish, 'why go a-binding music when you've got it in yourself?
    That's where it is, I consider.'

    Old Nandy had a patron: one patron. He had a patron who in a
    certain sumptuous way--an apologetic way, as if he constantly took
    an admiring audience to witness that he really could not help being
    more free with this old fellow than they might have expected, on
    account of his simplicity and poverty--was mightily good to him.
    Old Nandy had been several times to the Marshalsea College,
    communicating with his son-in-law during his short durance there;
    and had happily acquired to himself, and had by degrees and in
    course of time much improved, the patronage of the Father of that
    national institution.

    Mr Dorrit was in the habit of receiving this old man as if the old
    man held of him in vassalage under some feudal tenure. He made
    little treats and teas for him, as if he came in with his homage
    from some outlying district where the tenantry were in a primitive
    state.

    It seemed as if there were moments when he could by no means have
    sworn but that the old man was an ancient retainer of his, who had
    been meritoriously faithful. When he mentioned him, he spoke of
    him casually as his old pensioner. He had a wonderful satisfaction
    in seeing him, and in commenting on his decayed condition after he
    was gone. It appeared to him amazing that he could hold up his
    head at all, poor creature. 'In the Workhouse, sir, the Union; no
    privacy, no visitors, no station, no respect, no speciality. Most
    deplorable!'

    It was Old Nandy's birthday, and they let him out. He said nothing
    about its being his birthday, or they might have kept him in; for
    such old men should not be born. He passed along the streets as
    usual to Bleeding Heart Yard, and had his dinner with his daughter
    and son-in-law, and gave them Phyllis. He had hardly concluded,
    when Little Dorrit looked in to see how they all were.

    'Miss Dorrit,' said Mrs Plornish, 'here's Father! Ain't he looking
    nice? And such voice he's in!'

    Little Dorrit gave him her hand, and smilingly said she had not
    seen him this long time.

    'No, they're rather hard on poor Father,' said Mrs Plornish with a
    lengthening face, 'and don't let him have half as much change and
    fresh air as would benefit him. But he'll soon be home for good,
    now. Won't you, Father?'

    'Yes, my dear, I hope so. In good time, please God.'

    Here Mr Plornish delivered himself of an oration which he
    invariably made, word for word the same, on all such opportunities.

    It was couched in the following terms:

    'John Edward Nandy. Sir. While there's a ounce of wittles or
    drink of any sort in this present roof, you're fully welcome to
    your share on it. While there's a handful of fire or a mouthful of
    bed in this present roof, you're fully welcome to your share on it.

    If so be as there should be nothing in this present roof, you
    should be as welcome to your share on it as if it was something,
    much or little. And this is what I mean and so I don't deceive
    you, and consequently which is to stand out is to entreat of you,
    and therefore why not do it?'

    To this lucid address, which Mr Plornish always delivered as if he
    had composed it (as no doubt he had) with enormous labour, Mrs
    Plornish's father pipingly replied:

    'I thank you kindly, Thomas, and I know your intentions well, which
    is the same I thank you kindly for. But no, Thomas. Until such
    times as it's not to take it out of your children's mouths, which
    take it is, and call it by what name you will it do remain and
    equally deprive, though may they come, and too soon they can not
    come, no Thomas, no!'

    Mrs Plornish, who had been turning her face a little away with a
    corner of her apron in her hand, brought herself back to the
    conversation again by telling Miss Dorrit that Father was going
    over the water to pay his respects, unless she knew of any reason
    why it might not be agreeable.

    Her answer was, 'I am going straight home, and if he will come with
    me I shall be so glad to take care of him--so glad,' said Little
    Dorrit, always thoughtful of the feelings of the weak, 'of his
    company.'

    'There, Father!' cried Mrs Plornish. 'Ain't you a gay young man to
    be going for a walk along with Miss Dorrit! Let me tie your neck-
    handkerchief into a regular good bow, for you're a regular beau
    yourself, Father, if ever there was one.'

    With this filial joke his daughter smartened him up, and gave him
    a loving hug, and stood at the door with her weak child in her
    arms, and her strong child tumbling down the steps, looking after
    her little old father as he toddled away with his arm under Little
    Dorrit's.

    They walked at a slow pace, and Little Dorrit took him by the Iron
    Bridge and sat him down there for a rest, and they looked over at
    the water and talked about the shipping, and the old man mentioned
    what he would do if he had a ship full of gold coming home to him
    (his plan was to take a noble lodging for the Plornishes and
    himself at a Tea Gardens, and live there all the rest of their
    lives, attended on by the waiter), and it was a special birthday of
    the old man. They were within five minutes of their destination,
    when, at the corner of her own street, they came upon Fanny in her
    new bonnet bound for the same port.

    'Why, good gracious me, Amy!' cried that young lady starting. 'You
    never mean it!'

    'Mean what, Fanny dear?'

    'Well! I could have believed a great deal of you,' returned the
    young lady with burning indignation, 'but I don't think even I
    could have believed this, of even you!'

    'Fanny!' cried Little Dorrit, wounded and astonished.

    'Oh! Don't Fanny me, you mean little thing, don't! The idea of
    coming along the open streets, in the broad light of day, with a
    Pauper!' (firing off the last word as if it were a ball from an
    air-gun).
    'O Fanny!'

    'I tell you not to Fanny me, for I'll not submit to it! I never
    knew such a thing. The way in which you are resolved and
    determined to disgrace us on all occasions, is really infamous.
    You bad little thing!'

    'Does it disgrace anybody,' said Little Dorrit, very gently, 'to
    take care of this poor old man?'

    'Yes, miss,' returned her sister, 'and you ought to know it does.
    And you do know it does, and you do it because you know it does.
    The principal pleasure of your life is to remind your family of
    their misfortunes. And the next great pleasure of your existence
    is to keep low company. But, however, if you have no sense of
    decency, I have. You'll please to allow me to go on the other side
    of the way, unmolested.'

    With this, she bounced across to the opposite pavement. The old
    disgrace, who had been deferentially bowing a pace or two off (for
    Little Dorrit had let his arm go in her wonder, when Fanny began),
    and who had been hustled and cursed by impatient passengers for
    stopping the way, rejoined his companion, rather giddy, and said,
    'I hope nothing's wrong with your honoured father, Miss? I hope
    there's nothing the matter in the honoured family?'

    'No, no,' returned Little Dorrit. 'No, thank you. Give me your
    arm again, Mr Nandy. We shall soon be there now.'

    So she talked to him as she had talked before, and they came to the
    Lodge and found Mr Chivery on the lock, and went in. Now, it
    happened that the Father of the Marshalsea was sauntering towards
    the Lodge at the moment when they were coming out of it, entering
    the prison arm in arm. As the spectacle of their approach met his
    view, he displayed the utmost agitation and despondency of mind;
    and--altogether regardless of Old Nandy, who, making his reverence,
    stood with his hat in his hand, as he always did in that gracious
    presence--turned about, and hurried in at his own doorway and up
    the staircase.

    Leaving the old unfortunate, whom in an evil hour she had taken
    under her protection, with a hurried promise to return to him
    directly, Little Dorrit hastened after her father, and, on the
    staircase, found Fanny following her, and flouncing up with
    offended dignity. The three came into the room almost together;
    and the Father sat down in his chair, buried his face in his hands,
    and uttered a groan.

    'Of course,' said Fanny. 'Very proper. Poor, afflicted Pa! Now,
    I hope you believe me, Miss?'

    'What is it, father?' cried Little Dorrit, bending over him. 'Have
    I made you unhappy, father? Not I, I hope!'

    'You hope, indeed! I dare say! Oh, you'--Fanny paused for a
    sufficiently strong expression--'you Common-minded little Amy! You
    complete prison-child!'

    He stopped these angry reproaches with a wave of his hand, and
    sobbed out, raising his face and shaking his melancholy head at his
    younger daughter, 'Amy, I know that you are innocent in intention.
    But you have cut me to the soul.'
    'Innocent in intention!' the implacable Fanny struck in. 'Stuff in
    intention! Low in intention! Lowering of the family in
    intention!'

    'Father!' cried Little Dorrit, pale and trembling. 'I am very
    sorry. Pray forgive me. Tell me how it is, that I may not do it
    again!'

    'How it is, you prevaricating little piece of goods!' cried Fanny.
    'You know how it is. I have told you already, so don't fly in the
    face of Providence by attempting to deny it!'

    'Hush! Amy,' said the father, passing his pocket-handkerchief
    several times across his face, and then grasping it convulsively in
    the hand that dropped across his knee, 'I have done what I could to
    keep you select here; I have done what I could to retain you a
    position here. I may have succeeded; I may not. You may know it;
    you may not. I give no opinion. I have endured everything here
    but humiliation. That I have happily been spared--until this day.'

    Here his convulsive grasp unclosed itself, and he put his pocket-
    handkerchief to his eyes again. Little Dorrit, on the ground
    beside him, with her imploring hand upon his arm, watched him
    remorsefully. Coming out of his fit of grief, he clenched his
    pocket-handkerchief once more.

    'Humiliation I have happily been spared until this day. Through
    all my troubles there has been that--Spirit in myself, and that--
    that submission to it, if I may use the term, in those about me,
    which has spared me--ha--humiliation. But this day, this minute,
    I have keenly felt it.'

    'Of course! How could it be otherwise?' exclaimed the
    irrepressible Fanny. 'Careering and prancing about with a Pauper!'
    (air-gun again).

    'But, dear father,' cried Little Dorrit, 'I don't justify myself
    for having wounded your dear heart--no! Heaven knows I don't!'
    She clasped her hands in quite an agony of distress. 'I do nothing
    but beg and pray you to be comforted and overlook it. But if I had
    not known that you were kind to the old man yourself, and took much
    notice of him, and were always glad to see him, I would not have
    come here with him, father, I would not, indeed. What I have been
    so unhappy as to do, I have done in mistake. I would not wilfully
    bring a tear to your eyes, dear love!' said Little Dorrit, her
    heart well-nigh broken, 'for anything the world could give me, or
    anything it could take away.'

    Fanny, with a partly angry and partly repentant sob, began to cry
    herself, and to say--as this young lady always said when she was
    half in passion and half out of it, half spiteful with herself and
    half spiteful with everybody else--that she wished she were dead.

    The Father of the Marshalsea in the meantime took his younger
    daughter to his breast, and patted her head.
    'There, there! Say no more, Amy, say no more, my child. I will
    forget it as soon as I can. I,' with hysterical cheerfulness, 'I--
    shall soon be able to dismiss it. It is perfectly true, my dear,
    that I am always glad to see my old pensioner--as such, as such--
    and that I do--ha--extend as much protection and kindness to the--
    hum--the bruised reed--I trust I may so call him without
    impropriety--as in my circumstances, I can. It is quite true that
    this is the case, my dear child. At the same time, I preserve in
    doing this, if I may--ha--if I may use the expression--Spirit.
    Becoming Spirit. And there are some things which are,' he stopped
    to sob, 'irreconcilable with that, and wound that--wound it deeply.

    It is not that I have seen my good Amy attentive, and--ha--
    condescending to my old pensioner--it is not that that hurts me.
    It is, if I am to close the painful subject by being explicit, that
    I have seen my child, my own child, my own daughter, coming into
    this College out of the public streets--smiling! smiling!--arm in
    arm with--O my God, a livery!'

    This reference to the coat of no cut and no time, the unfortunate
    gentleman gasped forth, in a scarcely audible voice, and with his
    clenched pocket-handkerchief raised in the air. His excited
    feelings might have found some further painful utterance, but for
    a knock at the door, which had been already twice repeated, and to
    which Fanny (still wishing herself dead, and indeed now going so
    far as to add, buried) cried 'Come in!'

    'Ah, Young John!' said the Father, in an altered and calmed voice.
    'What is it, Young John?'

    'A letter for you, sir, being left in the Lodge just this minute,
    and a message with it, I thought, happening to be there myself,
    sir, I would bring it to your room.' The speaker's attention was
    much distracted by the piteous spectacle of Little Dorrit at her
    father's feet, with her head turned away.

    'Indeed, John? Thank you.'

    'The letter is from Mr Clennam, sir--it's the answer--and the
    message was, sir, that Mr Clennam also sent his compliments, and
    word that he would do himself the pleasure of calling this
    afternoon, hoping to see you, and likewise,' attention more
    distracted than before, 'Miss Amy.'

    'Oh!' As the Father glanced into the letter (there was a bank-note
    in it), he reddened a little, and patted Amy on the head afresh.
    'Thank you, Young John. Quite right. Much obliged to you for your
    attention. No one waiting?'

    'No, sir, no one waiting.'

    'Thank you, John. How is your mother, Young John?'

    'Thank you, sir, she's not quite as well as we could wish--in fact,
    we none of us are, except father--but she's pretty well, sir.'
    'Say we sent our remembrances, will you? Say kind remembrances, if
    you please, Young John.'

    'Thank you, sir, I will.' And Mr Chivery junior went his way,
    having spontaneously composed on the spot an entirely new epitaph
    for himself, to the effect that Here lay the body of John Chivery,
    Who, Having at such a date, Beheld the idol of his life, In grief
    and tears, And feeling unable to bear the harrowing spectacle,
    Immediately repaired to the abode of his inconsolable parents, And
    terminated his existence by his own rash act.

    'There, there, Amy!' said the Father, when Young John had closed
    the door, 'let us say no more about it.' The last few minutes had
    improved his spirits remarkably, and he was quite lightsome.
    'Where is my old pensioner all this while? We must not leave him
    by himself any longer, or he will begin to suppose he is not
    welcome, and that would pain me. Will you fetch him, my child, or
    shall I?'

    'If you wouldn't mind, father,' said Little Dorrit, trying to bring
    her sobbing to a close.

    'Certainly I will go, my dear. I forgot; your eyes are rather red.

    There! Cheer up, Amy. Don't be uneasy about me. I am quite
    myself again, my love, quite myself. Go to your room, Amy, and
    make yourself look comfortable and pleasant to receive Mr Clennam.'

    'I would rather stay in my own room, Father,' returned Little
    Dorrit, finding it more difficult than before to regain her
    composure. 'I would far rather not see Mr Clennam.'

    'Oh, fie, fie, my dear, that's folly. Mr Clennam is a very
    gentlemanly man--very gentlemanly. A little reserved at times; but
    I will say extremely gentlemanly. I couldn't think of your not
    being here to receive Mr Clennam, my dear, especially this
    afternoon. So go and freshen yourself up, Amy; go and freshen
    yourself up, like a good girl.'

    Thus directed, Little Dorrit dutifully rose and obeyed: only
    pausing for a moment as she went out of the room, to give her
    sister a kiss of reconciliation. Upon which, that young lady,
    feeling much harassed in her mind, and having for the time worn out
    the wish with which she generally relieved it, conceived and
    executed the brilliant idea of wishing Old Nandy dead, rather than
    that he should come bothering there like a disgusting, tiresome,
    wicked wretch, and making mischief between two sisters.

    The Father of the Marshalsea, even humming a tune, and wearing his
    black velvet cap a little on one side, so much improved were his
    spirits, went down into the yard, and found his old pensioner
    standing there hat in hand just within the gate, as he had stood
    all this time. 'Come, Nandy!' said he, with great suavity. 'Come
    up-stairs, Nandy; you know the way; why don't you come up-stairs?'
    He went the length, on this occasion, of giving him his hand and
    saying, 'How are you, Nandy? Are you pretty well?' To which that
    vocalist returned, 'I thank you, honoured sir, I am all the better
    for seeing your honour.' As they went along the yard, the Father
    of the Marshalsea presented him to a Collegian of recent date. 'An
    old acquaintance of mine, sir, an old pensioner.' And then said,
    'Be covered, my good Nandy; put your hat on,' with great
    consideration.

    His patronage did not stop here; for he charged Maggy to get the
    tea ready, and instructed her to buy certain tea-cakes, fresh
    butter, eggs, cold ham, and shrimps: to purchase which collation he
    gave her a bank-note for ten pounds, laying strict injunctions on
    her to be careful of the change. These preparations were in an
    advanced stage of progress, and his daughter Amy had come back with
    her work, when Clennam presented himself; whom he most graciously
    received, and besought to join their meal.

    'Amy, my love, you know Mr Clennam even better than I have the
    happiness of doing. Fanny, my dear, you are acquainted with Mr
    Clennam.' Fanny acknowledged him haughtily; the position she
    tacitly took up in all such cases being that there was a vast
    conspiracy to insult the family by not understanding it, or
    sufficiently deferring to it, and here was one of the conspirators.

    'This, Mr Clennam, you must know, is an old pensioner of mine, Old
    Nandy, a very faithful old man.' (He always spoke of him as an
    object of great antiquity, but he was two or three years younger
    than himself.) 'Let me see. You know Plornish, I think? I think
    my daughter Amy has mentioned to me that you know poor Plornish?'

    'O yes!' said Arthur Clennam.

    'Well, sir, this is Mrs Plornish's father.'

    'Indeed? I am glad to see him.'

    'You would be more glad if you knew his many good qualities,
    Mr Clennam.'

    'I hope I shall come to know them through knowing him,' said
    Arthur, secretly pitying the bowed and submissive figure.

    'It is a holiday with him, and he comes to see his old friends, who
    are always glad to see him,' observed the Father of the Marshalsea.

    Then he added behind his hand, ('Union, poor old fellow. Out for
    the day.')

    By this time Maggy, quietly assisted by her Little Mother, had
    spread the board, and the repast was ready. It being hot weather
    and the prison very close, the window was as wide open as it could
    be pushed. 'If Maggy will spread that newspaper on the window-
    sill, my dear,' remarked the Father complacently and in a half
    whisper to Little Dorrit, 'my old pensioner can have his tea there,
    while we are having ours.'

    So, with a gulf between him and the good company of about a foot in
    width, standard measure, Mrs Plornish's father was handsomely
    regaled. Clennam had never seen anything like his magnanimous
    protection by that other Father, he of the Marshalsea; and was lost
    in the contemplation of its many wonders.

    The most striking of these was perhaps the relishing manner in
    which he remarked on the pensioner's infirmities and failings, as
    if he were a gracious Keeper making a running commentary on the
    decline of the harmless animal he exhibited.

    'Not ready for more ham yet, Nandy? Why, how slow you are! (His
    last teeth,' he explained to the company, 'are going, poor old
    boy.')

    At another time, he said, 'No shrimps, Nandy?' and on his not
    instantly replying, observed, ('His hearing is becoming very
    defective. He'll be deaf directly.')

    At another time he asked him, 'Do you walk much, Nandy, about the
    yard within the walls of that place of yours?'

    'No, sir; no. I haven't any great liking for that.'

    'No, to be sure,' he assented. 'Very natural.' Then he privately
    informed the circle ('Legs going.')

    Once he asked the pensioner, in that general clemency which asked
    him anything to keep him afloat, how old his younger grandchild
    was?

    'John Edward,' said the pensioner, slowly laying down his knife and
    fork to consider. 'How old, sir? Let me think now.'

    The Father of the Marshalsea tapped his forehead ('Memory weak.')

    'John Edward, sir? Well, I really forget. I couldn't say at this
    minute, sir, whether it's two and two months, or whether it's two
    and five months. It's one or the other.'

    'Don't distress yourself by worrying your mind about it,' he
    returned, with infinite forbearance. ('Faculties evidently
    decaying--old man rusts in the life he leads!')

    The more of these discoveries that he persuaded himself he made in
    the pensioner, the better he appeared to like him; and when he got
    out of his chair after tea to bid the pensioner good-bye, on his
    intimating that he feared, honoured sir, his time was running out,
    he made himself look as erect and strong as possible.

    'We don't call this a shilling, Nandy, you know,' he said, putting
    one in his hand. 'We call it tobacco.'

    'Honoured sir, I thank you. It shall buy tobacco. My thanks and
    duty to Miss Amy and Miss Fanny. I wish you good night, Mr
    Clennam.'

    'And mind you don't forget us, you know, Nandy,' said the Father.
    'You must come again, mind, whenever you have an afternoon. You
    must not come out without seeing us, or we shall be jealous. Good
    night, Nandy. Be very careful how you descend the stairs, Nandy;
    they are rather uneven and worn.' With that he stood on the
    landing, watching the old man down: and when he came into the room
    again, said, with a solemn satisfaction on him, 'A melancholy sight
    that, Mr Clennam, though one has the consolation of knowing that he
    doesn't feel it himself. The poor old fellow is a dismal wreck.
    Spirit broken and gone--pulverised--crushed out of him, sir,
    completely!'

    As Clennam had a purpose in remaining, he said what he could
    responsive to these sentiments, and stood at the window with their
    enunciator, while Maggy and her Little Mother washed the tea-
    service and cleared it away. He noticed that his companion stood
    at the window with the air of an affable and accessible Sovereign,
    and that, when any of his people in the yard below looked up, his
    recognition of their salutes just stopped short of a blessing.

    When Little Dorrit had her work on the table, and Maggy hers on the
    bedstead, Fanny fell to tying her bonnet as a preliminary to her
    departure. Arthur, still having his purpose, still remained. At
    this time the door opened, without any notice, and Mr Tip came in.
    He kissed Amy as she started up to meet him, nodded to Fanny,
    nodded to his father, gloomed on the visitor without further
    recognition, and sat down.

    'Tip, dear,' said Little Dorrit, mildly, shocked by this, 'don't
    you see--'

    'Yes, I see, Amy. If you refer to the presence of any visitor you
    have here--I say, if you refer to that,' answered Tip, jerking his
    head with emphasis towards his shoulder nearest Clennam, 'I see!'

    'Is that all you say?'

    'That's all I say. And I suppose,' added the lofty young man,
    after a moment's pause, 'that visitor will understand me, when I
    say that's all I say. In short, I suppose the visitor will
    understand that he hasn't used me like a gentleman.'

    'I do not understand that,' observed the obnoxious personage
    referred to with tranquillity.

    'No? Why, then, to make it clearer to you, sir, I beg to let you
    know that when I address what I call a properly-worded appeal, and
    an urgent appeal, and a delicate appeal, to an individual, for a
    small temporary accommodation, easily within his power--easily
    within his power, mind!--and when that individual writes back word
    to me that he begs to be excused, I consider that he doesn't treat
    me like a gentleman.'

    The Father of the Marshalsea, who had surveyed his son in silence,
    no sooner heard this sentiment, than he began in angry voice:--

    'How dare you--' But his son stopped him.

    'Now, don't ask me how I dare, father, because that's bosh. As to
    the fact of the line of conduct I choose to adopt towards the
    individual present, you ought to be proud of my showing a proper
    spirit.'

    'I should think so!' cried Fanny.

    'A proper spirit?' said the Father. 'Yes, a proper spirit; a
    becoming spirit. Is it come to this that my son teaches me--ME--
    spirit!'

    'Now, don't let us bother about it, father, or have any row on the
    subject. I have fully made up my mind that the individual present
    has not treated me like a gentleman. And there's an end of it.'

    'But there is not an end of it, sir,' returned the Father. 'But
    there shall not be an end of it. You have made up your mind? You
    have made up your mind?'

    'Yes, I have. What's the good of keeping on like that?'

    'Because,' returned the Father, in a great heat, 'you had no right
    to make up your mind to what is monstrous, to what is--ha--immoral,
    to what is--hum--parricidal. No, Mr Clennam, I beg, sir. Don't
    ask me to desist; there is a--hum--a general principle involved
    here, which rises even above considerations of--ha--hospitality.
    I object to the assertion made by my son. I--ha--I personally
    repel it.'

    'Why, what is it to you, father?' returned the son, over his
    shoulder.

    'What is it to me, sir? I have a--hum--a spirit, sir, that will
    not endure it. I,' he took out his pocket-handkerchief again and
    dabbed his face. 'I am outraged and insulted by it. Let me
    suppose the case that I myself may at a certain time--ha--or times,
    have made a--hum--an appeal, and a properly-worded appeal, and a
    delicate appeal, and an urgent appeal to some individual for a
    small temporary accommodation. Let me suppose that that
    accommodation could have been easily extended, and was not
    extended, and that that individual informed me that he begged to be
    excused. Am I to be told by my own son, that I therefore received
    treatment not due to a gentleman, and that I--ha--I submitted to
    it?'

    His daughter Amy gently tried to calm him, but he would not on any
    account be calmed. He said his spirit was up, and wouldn't endure
    this.

    Was he to be told that, he wished to know again, by his own son on
    his own hearth, to his own face? Was that humiliation to be put
    upon him by his own blood?

    'You are putting it on yourself, father, and getting into all this
    injury of your own accord!' said the young gentleman morosely.
    'What I have made up my mind about has nothing to do with you.
    What I said had nothing to do with you. Why need you go trying on
    other people's hats?'

    'I reply it has everything to do with me,' returned the Father. 'I
    point out to you, sir, with indignation, that--hum--the--ha--
    delicacy and peculiarity of your father's position should strike
    you dumb, sir, if nothing else should, in laying down such--ha--
    such unnatural principles. Besides; if you are not filial, sir, if
    you discard that duty, you are at least--hum--not a Christian? Are
    you--ha--an Atheist? And is it Christian, let me ask you, to
    stigmatise and denounce an individual for begging to be excused
    this time, when the same individual may--ha--respond with the
    required accommodation next time? Is it the part of a Christian
    not to--hum--not to try him again?' He had worked himself into
    quite a religious glow and fervour.

    'I see precious well,' said Mr Tip, rising, 'that I shall get no
    sensible or fair argument here to-night, and so the best thing I
    can do is to cut. Good night, Amy. Don't be vexed. I am very
    sorry it happens here, and you here, upon my soul I am; but I can't
    altogether part with my spirit, even for your sake, old girl.'

    With those words he put on his hat and went out, accompanied by
    Miss Fanny; who did not consider it spirited on her part to take
    leave of Clennam with any less opposing demonstration than a stare,
    importing that she had always known him for one of the large body
    of conspirators.

    When they were gone, the Father of the Marshalsea was at first
    inclined to sink into despondency again, and would have done so,
    but that a gentleman opportunely came up within a minute or two to
    attend him to the Snuggery. It was the gentleman Clennam had seen
    on the night of his own accidental detention there, who had that
    impalpable grievance about the misappropriated Fund on which the
    Marshal was supposed to batten. He presented himself as deputation
    to escort the Father to the Chair, it being an occasion on which he
    had promised to preside over the assembled Collegians in the
    enjoyment of a little Harmony.

    'Such, you see, Mr Clennam,' said the Father, 'are the
    incongruities of my position here. But a public duty! No man, I
    am sure, would more readily recognise a public duty than yourself.'

    Clennam besought him not to delay a moment.
    'Amy, my dear, if you can persuade Mr Clennam to stay longer, I can
    leave the honours of our poor apology for an establishment with
    confidence in your hands, and perhaps you may do something towards
    erasing from Mr Clennam's mind the--ha--untoward and unpleasant
    circumstance which has occurred since tea-time.'

    Clennam assured him that it had made no impression on his mind, and
    therefore required no erasure.

    'My dear sir,' said the Father, with a removal of his black cap and
    a grasp of Clennam's hand, combining to express the safe receipt of
    his note and enclosure that afternoon, 'Heaven ever bless you!'

    So, at last, Clennam's purpose in remaining was attained, and he
    could speak to Little Dorrit with nobody by. Maggy counted as
    nobody, and she was by.
    Next Chapter
    Chapter 32
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