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    Chapter 23

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    Chapter 58
    Previous Chapter
    CHAPTER 23

    Mistress Affery makes a Conditional Promise,
    respecting her Dreams

    Left alone, with the expressive looks and gestures of Mr Baptist,
    otherwise Giovanni Baptista Cavalletto, vividly before him, Clennam
    entered on a weary day. It was in vain that he tried to control
    his attention by directing it to any business occupation or train
    of thought; it rode at anchor by the haunting topic, and would hold
    to no other idea. As though a criminal should be chained in a
    stationary boat on a deep clear river, condemned, whatever
    countless leagues of water flowed past him, always to see the body
    of the fellow-creature he had drowned lying at the bottom,
    immovable, and unchangeable, except as the eddies made it broad or
    long, now expanding, now contracting its terrible lineaments; so
    Arthur, below the shifting current of transparent thoughts and
    fancies which were gone and succeeded by others as soon as come,
    saw, steady and dark, and not to be stirred from its place, the one
    subject that he endeavoured with all his might to rid himself of,
    and that he could not fly from. The assurance he now had, that
    Blandois, whatever his right name, was one of the worst of
    characters, greatly augmented the burden of his anxieties. Though
    the disappearance should be accounted for to-morrow, the fact that
    his mother had been in communication with such a man, would remain
    unalterable. That the communication had been of a secret kind, and
    that she had been submissive to him and afraid of him, he hoped
    might be known to no one beyond himself; yet, knowing it, how could
    he separate it from his old vague fears, and how believe that there
    was nothing evil in such relations?
    Her resolution not to enter on the question with him, and his
    knowledge of her indomitable character, enhanced his sense of
    helplessness. It was like the oppression of a dream to believe
    that shame and exposure were impending over her and his father's
    memory, and to be shut out, as by a brazen wall, from the
    possibility of coming to their aid. The purpose he had brought
    home to his native country, and had ever since kept in view, was,
    with her greatest determination, defeated by his mother herself, at
    the time of all others when he feared that it pressed most. His
    advice, energy, activity, money, credit, all his resources
    whatsoever, were all made useless. If she had been possessed of
    the old fabled influence, and had turned those who looked upon her
    into stone, she could not have rendered him more completely
    powerless (so it seemed to him in his distress of mind) than she
    did, when she turned her unyielding face to his in her gloomy room.

    But the light of that day's discovery, shining on these
    considerations, roused him to take a more decided course of action.

    Confident in the rectitude of his purpose, and impelled by a sense
    of overhanging danger closing in around, he resolved, if his mother
    would still admit of no approach, to make a desperate appeal to
    Affery. If she could be brought to become communicative, and to do
    what lay in her to break the spell of secrecy that enshrouded the
    house, he might shake off the paralysis of which every hour that
    passed over his head made him more acutely sensible. This was the
    result of his day's anxiety, and this was the decision he put in
    practice when the day closed in.

    His first disappointment, on arriving at the house, was to find the
    door open, and Mr Flintwinch smoking a pipe on the steps. If
    circumstances had been commonly favourable, Mistress Affery would
    have opened the door to his knock. Circumstances being uncommonly
    unfavourable, the door stood open, and Mr Flintwinch was smoking
    his pipe on the steps.

    'Good evening,' said Arthur.

    'Good evening,' said Mr Flintwinch.

    The smoke came crookedly out of Mr Flintwinch's mouth, as if it
    circulated through the whole of his wry figure and came back by his
    wry throat, before coming forth to mingle with the smoke from the
    crooked chimneys and the mists from the crooked river.

    'Have you any news?' said Arthur.

    'We have no news,' said Jeremiah.

    'I mean of the foreign man,' Arthur explained.

    _'I_ mean of the foreign man,' said Jeremiah.

    He looked so grim, as he stood askew, with the knot of his cravat
    under his ear, that the thought passed into Clennam's mind, and not
    for the first time by many, could Flintwinch for a purpose of his
    own have got rid of Blandois? Could it have been his secret, and
    his safety, that were at issue? He was small and bent, and perhaps
    not actively strong; yet he was as tough as an old yew-tree, and as
    crusty as an old jackdaw. Such a man, coming behind a much younger
    and more vigorous man, and having the will to put an end to him and
    no relenting, might do it pretty surely in that solitary place at
    a late hour.

    While, in the morbid condition of his thoughts, these thoughts
    drifted over the main one that was always in Clennam's mind, Mr
    Flintwinch, regarding the opposite house over the gateway with his
    neck twisted and one eye shut up, stood smoking with a vicious
    expression upon him; more as if he were trying to bite off the stem
    of his pipe, than as if he were enjoying it. Yet he was enjoying
    it in his own way.

    'You'll be able to take my likeness, the next time you call,
    Arthur, I should think,' said Mr Flintwinch, drily, as he stooped
    to knock the ashes out.

    Rather conscious and confused, Arthur asked his pardon, if he had
    stared at him unpolitely. 'But my mind runs so much upon this
    matter,' he said, 'that I lose myself.'

    'Hah! Yet I don't see,' returned Mr Flintwinch, quite at his
    leisure, 'why it should trouble YOU, Arthur.'

    'No?'

    'No,' said Mr Flintwinch, very shortly and decidedly: much as if he
    were of the canine race, and snapped at Arthur's hand.

    'Is it nothing to see those placards about? Is it nothing to me to
    see my mother's name and residence hawked up and down in such an
    association?'

    'I don't see,' returned Mr Flintwinch, scraping his horny cheek,
    'that it need signify much to you. But I'll tell you what I do
    see, Arthur,' glancing up at the windows; 'I see the light of fire
    and candle in your mother's room!'

    'And what has that to do with it?'

    'Why, sir, I read by it,' said Mr Flintwinch, screwing himself at
    him, 'that if it's advisable (as the proverb says it is) to let
    sleeping dogs lie, it's just as advisable, perhaps, to let missing
    dogs lie. Let 'em be. They generally turn up soon enough.'

    Mr Flintwinch turned short round when he had made this remark, and
    went into the dark hall. Clennam stood there, following him with
    his eyes, as he dipped for a light in the phosphorus-box in the
    little room at the side, got one after three or four dips, and
    lighted the dim lamp against the wall. All the while, Clennam was
    pursuing the probabilities--rather as if they were being shown to
    him by an invisible hand than as if he himself were conjuring them
    up--of Mr Flintwinch's ways and means of doing that darker deed,
    and removing its traces by any of the black avenues of shadow that
    lay around them.

    'Now, sir,' said the testy Jeremiah; 'will it be agreeable to walk
    up-stairs?'

    'My mother is alone, I suppose?'

    'Not alone,' said Mr Flintwinch. 'Mr Casby and his daughter are
    with her. They came in while I was smoking, and I stayed behind to
    have my smoke out.'

    This was the second disappointment. Arthur made no remark upon it,
    and repaired to his mother's room, where Mr Casby and Flora had
    been taking tea, anchovy paste, and hot buttered toast. The relics
    of those delicacies were not yet removed, either from the table or
    from the scorched countenance of Affery, who, with the kitchen
    toasting-fork still in her hand, looked like a sort of allegorical
    personage; except that she had a considerable advantage over the
    general run of such personages in point of significant emblematical
    purpose.

    Flora had spread her bonnet and shawl upon the bed, with a care
    indicative of an intention to stay some time. Mr Casby, too, was
    beaming near the hob, with his benevolent knobs shining as if the
    warm butter of the toast were exuding through the patriarchal
    skull, and with his face as ruddy as if the colouring matter of the
    anchovy paste were mantling in the patriarchal visage. Seeing
    this, as he exchanged the usual salutations, Clennam decided to
    speak to his mother without postponement.

    It had long been customary, as she never changed her room, for
    those who had anything to say to her apart, to wheel her to her
    desk; where she sat, usually with the back of her chair turned
    towards the rest of the room, and the person who talked with her
    seated in a corner, on a stool which was always set in that place
    for that purpose. Except that it was long since the mother and son
    had spoken together without the intervention of a third person, it
    was an ordinary matter of course within the experience of visitors
    for Mrs Clennam to be asked, with a word of apology for the
    interruption, if she could be spoken with on a matter of business,
    and, on her replying in the affirmative, to be wheeled into the
    position described.

    Therefore, when Arthur now made such an apology, and such a
    request, and moved her to her desk and seated himself on the stool,
    Mrs Finching merely began to talk louder and faster, as a delicate
    hint that she could overhear nothing, and Mr Casby stroked his long
    white locks with sleepy calmness.

    'Mother, I have heard something to-day which I feel persuaded you
    don't know, and which I think you should know, of the antecedents
    of that man I saw here.'

    'I know nothing of the antecedents of the man you saw here,
    Arthur.'

    She spoke aloud. He had lowered his own voice; but she rejected
    that advance towards confidence as she rejected every other, and
    spoke in her usual key and in her usual stern voice.

    'I have received it on no circuitous information; it has come to me
    direct.'
    She asked him, exactly as before, if he were there to tell her what
    it was?

    'I thought it right that you should know it.'

    'And what is it?'

    'He has been a prisoner in a French gaol.'

    She answered with composure, 'I should think that very likely.'

    ' But in a gaol for criminals, mother. On an accusation of
    murder.'

    She started at the word, and her looks expressed her natural
    horror. Yet she still spoke aloud, when she demanded:--

    'Who told you so?'

    'A man who was his fellow-prisoner.'

    'That man's antecedents, I suppose, were not known to you, before
    he told you?'

    'No.'

    'Though the man himself was?'

    'Yes.'

    'My case and Flintwinch's, in respect of this other man! I dare
    say the resemblance is not so exact, though, as that your informant
    became known to you through a letter from a correspondent with whom
    he had deposited money? How does that part of the parallel stand?'

    Arthur had no choice but to say that his informant had not become
    known to him through the agency of any such credentials, or indeed
    of any credentials at all. Mrs Clennam's attentive frown expanded
    by degrees into a severe look of triumph, and she retorted with
    emphasis, 'Take care how you judge others, then. I say to you,
    Arthur, for your good, take care how you judge!'
    Her emphasis had been derived from her eyes quite as much as from
    the stress she laid upon her words. She continued to look at him;
    and if, when he entered the house, he had had any latent hope of
    prevailing in the least with her, she now looked it out of his
    heart.

    'Mother, shall I do nothing to assist you?'

    'Nothing.'

    'Will you entrust me with no confidence, no charge, no explanation?

    Will you take no counsel with me? Will you not let me come near
    you?'

    'How can you ask me? You separated yourself from my affairs. It
    was not my act; it was yours. How can you consistently ask me such
    a question? You know that you left me to Flintwinch, and that he
    occupies your place.'

    Glancing at Jeremiah, Clennam saw in his very gaiters that his
    attention was closely directed to them, though he stood leaning
    against the wall scraping his jaw, and pretended to listen to Flora
    as she held forth in a most distracting manner on a chaos of
    subjects, in which mackerel, and Mr F.'s Aunt in a swing, had
    become entangled with cockchafers and the wine trade.

    'A prisoner, in a French gaol, on an accusation of murder,'
    repeated Mrs Clennam, steadily going over what her son had said.
    'That is all you know of him from the fellow-prisoner?'

    'In substance, all.'

    'And was the fellow-prisoner his accomplice and a murderer, too?
    But, of course, he gives a better account of himself than of his
    friend; it is needless to ask. This will supply the rest of them
    here with something new to talk about. Casby, Arthur tells me--'

    'Stay, mother! Stay, stay!' He interrupted her hastily, for it
    had not entered his imagination that she would openly proclaim what
    he had told her.

    'What now?' she said with displeasure. 'What more?'

    'I beg you to excuse me, Mr Casby--and you, too, Mrs Finching--for
    one other moment with my mother--'

    He had laid his hand upon her chair, or she would otherwise have
    wheeled it round with the touch of her foot upon the ground. They
    were still face to face. She looked at him, as he ran over the
    possibilities of some result he had not intended, and could not
    foresee, being influenced by Cavalletto's disclosure becoming a
    matter of notoriety, and hurriedly arrived at the conclusion that
    it had best not be talked about; though perhaps he was guided by no
    more distinct reason than that he had taken it for granted that his
    mother would reserve it to herself and her partner.

    'What now?' she said again, impatiently. 'What is it?'

    'I did not mean, mother, that you should repeat what I have
    communicated. I think you had better not repeat it.'

    'Do you make that a condition with me?'

    'Well! Yes.'

    'Observe, then! It is you who make this a secret,' said she,
    holding up her hand, 'and not I. It is you, Arthur, who bring here
    doubts and suspicions and entreaties for explanations, and it is
    you, Arthur, who bring secrets here. What is it to me, do you
    think, where the man has been, or what he has been? What can it be
    to me? The whole world may know it, if they care to know it; it is
    nothing to me. Now, let me go.'

    He yielded to her imperious but elated look, and turned her chair
    back to the place from which he had wheeled it. In doing so he saw
    elation in the face of Mr Flintwinch, which most assuredly was not
    inspired by Flora. this turning of his intelligence and of his
    whole attempt and design against himself, did even more than his
    mother's fixedness and firmness to convince him that his efforts
    with her were idle. Nothing remained but the appeal to his old
    friend Affery.

    But even to get the very doubtful and preliminary stage of making
    the appeal, seemed one of the least promising of human
    undertakings. She was so completely under the thrall of the two
    clever ones, was so systematically kept in sight by one or other of
    them, and was so afraid to go about the house besides, that every
    opportunity of speaking to her alone appeared to be forestalled.
    Over and above that, Mistress Affery, by some means (it was not
    very difficult to guess, through the sharp arguments of her liege
    lord), had acquired such a lively conviction of the hazard of
    saying anything under any circumstances, that she had remained all
    this time in a corner guarding herself from approach with that
    symbolical instrument of hers; so that, when a word or two had been
    addressed to her by Flora, or even by the bottle-green patriarch
    himself, she had warded off conversation with the toasting-fork
    like a dumb woman.

    After several abortive attempts to get Affery to look at him while
    she cleared the table and washed the tea-service, Arthur thought of
    an expedient which Flora might originate. To whom he therefore
    whispered, 'Could you say you would like to go through the house?'

    Now, poor Flora, being always in fluctuating expectation of the
    time when Clennam would renew his boyhood and be madly in love with
    her again, received the whisper with the utmost delight; not only
    as rendered precious by its mysterious character, but as preparing
    the way for a tender interview in which he would declare the state
    of his affections. She immediately began to work out the hint.

    'Ah dear me the poor old room,' said Flora, glancing round, 'looks
    just as ever Mrs Clennam I am touched to see except for being
    smokier which was to be expected with time and which we must all
    expect and reconcile ourselves to being whether we like it or not
    as I am sure I have had to do myself if not exactly smokier
    dreadfully stouter which is the same or worse, to think of the days
    when papa used to bring me here the least of girls a perfect mass
    of chilblains to be stuck upon a chair with my feet on the rails
    and stare at Arthur--pray excuse me--Mr Clennam--the least of boys
    in the frightfullest of frills and jackets ere yet Mr F. appeared
    a misty shadow on the horizon paying attentions like the well-known
    spectre of some place in Germany beginning with a B is a moral
    lesson inculcating that all the paths in life are similar to the
    paths down in the North of England where they get the coals and
    make the iron and things gravelled with ashes!'

    Having paid the tribute of a sigh to the instability of human
    existence, Flora hurried on with her purpose.

    'Not that at any time,' she proceeded, 'its worst enemy could have
    said it was a cheerful house for that it was never made to be but
    always highly impressive, fond memory recalls an occasion in youth
    ere yet the judgment was mature when Arthur--confirmed habit--Mr
    Clennam--took me down into an unused kitchen eminent for mouldiness
    and proposed to secrete me there for life and feed me on what he
    could hide from his meals when he was not at home for the holidays
    and on dry bread in disgrace which at that halcyon period too
    frequently occurred, would it be inconvenient or asking too much to
    beg to be permitted to revive those scenes and walk through the
    house?'

    Mrs Clennam, who responded with a constrained grace to Mrs
    Finching's good nature in being there at all, though her visit
    (before Arthur's unexpected arrival) was undoubtedly an act of pure
    good nature and no self-gratification, intimated that all the house
    was open to her. Flora rose and looked to Arthur for his escort.
    'Certainly,' said he, aloud; 'and Affery will light us, I dare
    say.'

    Affery was excusing herself with 'Don't ask nothing of me, Arthur!'
    when Mr Flintwinch stopped her with 'Why not? Affery, what's the
    matter with you, woman? Why not, jade!' Thus expostulated with,
    she came unwillingly out of her corner, resigned the toasting-fork
    into one of her husband's hands, and took the candlestick he
    offered from the other.

    'Go before, you fool!' said Jeremiah. 'Are you going up, or down,
    Mrs Finching?'

    Flora answered, 'Down.'

    'Then go before, and down, you Affery,' said Jeremiah. 'And do it
    properly, or I'll come rolling down the banisters, and tumbling
    over you!'

    Affery headed the exploring party; Jeremiah closed it. He had no
    intention of leaving them. Clennam looking back, and seeing him
    following three stairs behind, in the coolest and most methodical
    manner exclaimed in a low voice, 'Is there no getting rid of him!'
    Flora reassured his mind by replying promptly, 'Why though not
    exactly proper Arthur and a thing I couldn't think of before a
    younger man or a stranger still I don't mind him if you so
    particularly wish it and provided you'll have the goodness not to
    take me too tight.'

    Wanting the heart to explain that this was not at all what he
    meant, Arthur extended his supporting arm round Flora's figure.
    'Oh my goodness me,' said she. 'You are very obedient indeed
    really and it's extremely honourable and gentlemanly in you I am
    sure but still at the same time if you would like to be a little
    tighter than that I shouldn't consider it intruding.'

    In this preposterous attitude, unspeakably at variance with his
    anxious mind, Clennam descended to the basement of the house;
    finding that wherever it became darker than elsewhere, Flora became
    heavier, and that when the house was lightest she was too.
    Returning from the dismal kitchen regions, which were as dreary as
    they could be, Mistress Affery passed with the light into his
    father's old room, and then into the old dining-room; always
    passing on before like a phantom that was not to be overtaken, and
    neither turning nor answering when he whispered, 'Affery! I want
    to speak to you!'

    In the dining-room, a sentimental desire came over Flora to look
    into the dragon closet which had so often swallowed Arthur in the
    days of his boyhood--not improbably because, as a very dark closet,
    it was a likely place to be heavy in. Arthur, fast subsiding into
    despair, had opened it, when a knock was heard at the outer door.

    Mistress Affery, with a suppressed cry, threw her apron over her
    head.

    'What? You want another dose!' said Mr Flintwinch. 'You shall
    have it, my woman, you shall have a good one! Oh! You shall have
    a sneezer, you shall have a teaser!'

    'In the meantime is anybody going to the door?' said Arthur.

    'In the meantime, I am going to the door, sir,' returned the old
    man so savagely, as to render it clear that in a choice of
    difficulties he felt he must go, though he would have preferred not
    to go. 'Stay here the while, all! Affery, my woman, move an inch,
    or speak a word in your foolishness, and I'll treble your dose!'

    The moment he was gone, Arthur released Mrs Finching: with some
    difficulty, by reason of that lady misunderstanding his intentions,
    and making arrangements with a view to tightening instead of
    slackening.

    'Affery, speak to me now!'

    'Don't touch me, Arthur!' she cried, shrinking from him. 'Don't
    come near me. He'll see you. Jeremiah will. Don't.'

    'He can't see me,' returned Arthur, suiting the action to the word,
    'if I blow the candle out.'

    'He'll hear you,' cried Affery.

    'He can't hear me,' returned Arthur, suiting the action to the
    words again, 'if I draw you into this black closet, and speak here.

    Why do you hide your face?'

    'Because I am afraid of seeing something.'

    'You can't be afraid of seeing anything in this darkness, Affery.'

    'Yes I am. Much more than if it was light.'

    'Why are you afraid?'

    'Because the house is full of mysteries and secrets; because it's
    full of whisperings and counsellings; because it's full of noises.
    There never was such a house for noises. I shall die of 'em, if
    Jeremiah don't strangle me first. As I expect he will.'

    'I have never heard any noises here, worth speaking of.'

    'Ah! But you would, though, if you lived in the house, and was
    obliged to go about it as I am,' said Affery; 'and you'd feel that
    they was so well worth speaking of, that you'd feel you was nigh
    bursting through not being allowed to speak of 'em. Here's
    Jeremiah! You'll get me killed.'

    'My good Affery, I solemnly declare to you that I can see the light
    of the open door on the pavement of the hall, and so could you if
    you would uncover your face and look.'

    'I durstn't do it,' said Affery, 'I durstn't never, Arthur. I'm
    always blind-folded when Jeremiah an't a looking, and sometimes
    even when he is.'

    'He cannot shut the door without my seeing him,' said Arthur. 'You
    are as safe with me as if he was fifty miles away.'

    ('I wish he was!' cried Affery.)

    'Affery, I want to know what is amiss here; I want some light
    thrown on the secrets of this house.'
    'I tell you, Arthur,' she interrupted, 'noises is the secrets,
    rustlings and stealings about, tremblings, treads overhead and
    treads underneath.'

    'But those are not all the secrets.'

    'I don't know,' said Affery. 'Don't ask me no more. Your old
    sweetheart an't far off, and she's a blabber.'

    His old sweetheart, being in fact so near at hand that she was then
    reclining against him in a flutter, a very substantial angle of
    forty-five degrees, here interposed to assure Mistress Affery with
    greater earnestness than directness of asseveration, that what she
    heard should go no further, but should be kept inviolate, 'if on no
    other account on Arthur's--sensible of intruding in being too
    familiar Doyce and Clennam's.'

    'I make an imploring appeal to you, Affery, to you, one of the few
    agreeable early remembrances I have, for my mother's sake, for your
    husband's sake, for my own, for all our sakes. I am sure you can
    tell me something connected with the coming here of this man, if
    you will.'

    'Why, then I'll tell you, Arthur,' returned Affery--'Jeremiah's
    coming!'

    'No, indeed he is not. The door is open, and he is standing
    outside, talking.'

    'I'll tell you then,' said Affery, after listening, 'that the first
    time he ever come he heard the noises his own self. "What's that?"
    he said to me. "I don't know what it is," I says to him, catching
    hold of him, "but I have heard it over and over again." While I
    says it, he stands a looking at me, all of a shake, he do.'

    'Has he been here often?'

    'Only that night, and the last night.'

    'What did you see of him on the last night, after I was gone?'

    'Them two clever ones had him all alone to themselves. Jeremiah
    come a dancing at me sideways, after I had let you out (he always
    comes a dancing at me sideways when he's going to hurt me), and he
    said to me, "Now, Affery," he said, "I am a coming behind you, my
    woman, and a going to run you up." So he took and squeezed the
    back of my neck in his hand, till it made me open MY mouth, and
    then he pushed me before him to bed, squeezing all the way. That's
    what he calls running me up, he do. Oh, he's a wicked one!'

    'And did you hear or see no more, Affery?'

    'Don't I tell you I was sent to bed, Arthur! Here he is!'

    'I assure you he is still at the door. Those whisperings and
    counsellings, Affery, that you have spoken of. What are they?'

    'How should I know? Don't ask me nothing about 'em, Arthur. Get
    away!'

    'But my dear Affery; unless I can gain some insight into these
    hidden things, in spite of your husband and in spite of my mother,
    ruin will come of it.'

    'Don't ask me nothing,' repeated Affery. 'I have been in a dream
    for ever so long. Go away, go away!'

    'You said that before,' returned Arthur. 'You used the same
    expression that night, at the door, when I asked you what was going
    on here. What do you mean by being in a dream?'

    'I an't a going to tell you. Get away! I shouldn't tell you, if
    you was by yourself; much less with your old sweetheart here.'

    It was equally vain for Arthur to entreat, and for Flora to
    protest. Affery, who had been trembling and struggling the whole
    time, turned a deaf ear to all adjuration, and was bent on forcing
    herself out of the closet.

    'I'd sooner scream to Jeremiah than say another word! I'll call
    out to him, Arthur, if you don't give over speaking to me. Now
    here's the very last word I'll say afore I call to him--If ever you
    begin to get the better of them two clever ones your own self (you
    ought to it, as I told you when you first come home, for you
    haven't been a living here long years, to be made afeared of your
    life as I have), then do you get the better of 'em afore my face;
    and then do you say to me, Affery tell your dreams! Maybe, then
    I'll tell 'em!'

    The shutting of the door stopped Arthur from replying. They glided
    into the places where Jeremiah had left them; and Clennam, stepping
    forward as that old gentleman returned, informed him that he had
    accidentally extinguished the candle. Mr Flintwinch looked on as
    he re-lighted it at the lamp in the hall, and preserved a profound
    taciturnity respecting the person who had been holding him in
    conversation. Perhaps his irascibility demanded compensation for
    some tediousness that the visitor had expended on him; however that
    was, he took such umbrage at seeing his wife with her apron over
    her head, that he charged at her, and taking her veiled nose
    between his thumb and finger, appeared to throw the whole screw-
    power of his person into the wring he gave it.

    Flora, now permanently heavy, did not release Arthur from the
    survey of the house, until it had extended even to his old garret
    bedchamber. His thoughts were otherwise occupied than with the
    tour of inspection; yet he took particular notice at the time, as
    he afterwards had occasion to remember, of the airlessness and
    closeness of the house; that they left the track of their footsteps
    in the dust on the upper floors; and that there was a resistance to
    the opening of one room door, which occasioned Affery to cry out
    that somebody was hiding inside, and to continue to believe so,
    though somebody was sought and not discovered. When they at last
    returned to his mother's room, they found her shading her face with
    her muffled hand, and talking in a low voice to the Patriarch as he
    stood before the fire, whose blue eyes, polished head, and silken
    locks, turning towards them as they came in, imparted an
    inestimable value and inexhaustible love of his species to his
    remark:

    'So you have been seeing the premises, seeing the premises--
    premises--seeing the premises!'

    it was not in itself a jewel of benevolence or wisdom, yet he made
    it an exemplar of both that one would have liked to have a copy of.
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