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    Chapter 27

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    Chapter 62
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    CHAPTER 27

    The Pupil of the Marshalsea

    The day was sunny, and the Marshalsea, with the hot noon striking
    upon it, was unwontedly quiet. Arthur Clennam dropped into a
    solitary arm-chair, itself as faded as any debtor in the jail, and
    yielded himself to his thoughts.

    In the unnatural peace of having gone through the dreaded arrest,
    and got there,--the first change of feeling which the prison most
    commonly induced, and from which dangerous resting-place so many
    men had slipped down to the depths of degradation and disgrace by
    so many ways,--he could think of some passages in his life, almost
    as if he were removed from them into another state of existence.
    Taking into account where he was, the interest that had first
    brought him there when he had been free to keep away, and the
    gentle presence that was equally inseparable from the walls and
    bars about him and from the impalpable remembrances of his later
    life which no walls or bars could imprison, it was not remarkable
    that everything his memory turned upon should bring him round again
    to Little Dorrit. Yet it was remarkable to him; not because of the
    fact itself, but because of the reminder it brought with it, how
    much the dear little creature had influenced his better
    resolutions.

    None of us clearly know to whom or to what we are indebted in this
    wise, until some marked stop in the whirling wheel of life brings
    the right perception with it. It comes with sickness, it comes
    with sorrow, it comes with the loss of the dearly loved, it is one
    of the most frequent uses of adversity. It came to Clennam in his
    adversity, strongly and tenderly. 'When I first gathered myself
    together,' he thought, 'and set something like purpose before my
    jaded eyes, whom had I before me, toiling on, for a good object's
    sake, without encouragement, without notice, against ignoble
    obstacles that would have turned an army of received heroes and
    heroines? One weak girl! When I tried to conquer my misplaced
    love, and to be generous to the man who was more fortunate than I,
    though he should never know it or repay me with a gracious word, in
    whom had I watched patience, self-denial, self-subdual, charitable
    construction, the noblest generosity of the affections? In the
    same poor girl! If I, a man, with a man's advantages and means and
    energies, had slighted the whisper in my heart, that if my father
    had erred, it was my first duty to conceal the fault and to repair
    it, what youthful figure with tender feet going almost bare on the
    damp ground, with spare hands ever working, with its slight shape
    but half protected from the sharp weather, would have stood before
    me to put me to shame? Little Dorrit's.' So always as he sat
    alone in the faded chair, thinking. Always, Little Dorrit. Until
    it seemed to him as if he met the reward of having wandered away
    from her, and suffered anything to pass between him and his
    remembrance of her virtues.

    His door was opened, and the head of the elder Chivery was put in
    a very little way, without being turned towards him.

    'I am off the Lock, Mr Clennam, and going out. Can I do anything
    for you?'

    'Many thanks. Nothing.'

    'You'll excuse me opening the door,' said Mr Chivery; 'but I
    couldn't make you hear.'

    'Did you knock?'
    'Half-a-dozen times.'

    Rousing himself, Clennam observed that the prison had awakened from
    its noontide doze, that the inmates were loitering about the shady
    yard, and that it was late in the afternoon. He had been thinking
    for hours.
    'Your things is come,' said Mr Chivery, 'and my son is going to
    carry 'em up. I should have sent 'em up but for his wishing to
    carry 'em himself. Indeed he would have 'em himself, and so I
    couldn't send 'em up. Mr Clennam, could I say a word to you?'

    'Pray come in,' said Arthur; for Mr Chivery's head was still put in
    at the door a very little way, and Mr Chivery had but one ear upon
    him, instead of both eyes. This was native delicacy in Mr Chivery
    --true politeness; though his exterior had very much of a turnkey
    about it, and not the least of a gentleman.

    'Thank you, sir,' said Mr Chivery, without advancing; 'it's no odds
    me coming in. Mr Clennam, don't you take no notice of my son (if
    you'll be so good) in case you find him cut up anyways difficult.
    My son has a 'art, and my son's 'art is in the right place. Me and
    his mother knows where to find it, and we find it sitiwated
    correct.'

    With this mysterious speech, Mr Chivery took his ear away and shut
    the door. He might have been gone ten minutes, when his son
    succeeded him.

    'Here's your portmanteau,' he said to Arthur, putting it carefully
    down.

    'It's very kind of you. I am ashamed that you should have the
    trouble.'

    He was gone before it came to that; but soon returned, saying
    exactly as before, 'Here's your black box:' which he also put down
    with care.

    'I am very sensible of this attention. I hope we may shake hands
    now, Mr John.'

    Young John, however, drew back, turning his right wrist in a socket
    made of his left thumb and middle-finger and said as he had said at
    first, 'I don't know as I can. No; I find I can't!' He then stood
    regarding the prisoner sternly, though with a swelling humour in
    his eyes that looked like pity.

    'Why are you angry with me,' said Clennam, 'and yet so ready to do
    me these kind services? There must be some mistake between us. If
    I have done anything to occasion it I am sorry.'

    'No mistake, sir,' returned John, turning the wrist backwards and
    forwards in the socket, for which it was rather tight. 'No
    mistake, sir, in the feelings with which my eyes behold you at the
    present moment! If I was at all fairly equal to your weight, Mr
    Clennam--which I am not; and if you weren't under a cloud--which
    you are; and if it wasn't against all rules of the Marshalsea--
    which it is; those feelings are such, that they would stimulate me,
    more to having it out with you in a Round on the present spot than
    to anything else I could name.'
    Arthur looked at him for a moment in some wonder, and some little
    anger. 'Well, well!' he said. 'A mistake, a mistake!' Turning
    away, he sat down with a heavy sigh in the faded chair again.

    Young John followed him with his eyes, and, after a short pause,
    cried out, 'I beg your pardon!'

    'Freely granted,' said Clennam, waving his hand without raising his
    sunken head. 'Say no more. I am not worth it.'

    'This furniture, sir,' said Young John in a voice of mild and soft
    explanation, 'belongs to me. I am in the habit of letting it out
    to parties without furniture, that have the room. It an't much,
    but it's at your service. Free, I mean. I could not think of
    letting you have it on any other terms. You're welcome to it for
    nothing.'

    Arthur raised his head again to thank him, and to say he could not
    accept the favour. John was still turning his wrist, and still
    contending with himself in his former divided manner.

    'What is the matter between us?' said Arthur.

    'I decline to name it, sir,' returned Young John, suddenly turning
    loud and sharp. 'Nothing's the matter.'

    Arthur looked at him again, in vain, for an explanation of his
    behaviour. After a while, Arthur turned away his head again.
    Young John said, presently afterwards, with the utmost mildness:

    'The little round table, sir, that's nigh your elbow, was--you know
    whose--I needn't mention him--he died a great gentleman. I bought
    it of an individual that he gave it to, and that lived here after
    him. But the individual wasn't any ways equal to him. Most
    individuals would find it hard to come up to his level.'

    Arthur drew the little table nearer, rested his arm upon it, and
    kept it there.

    'Perhaps you may not be aware, sir,' said Young John, 'that I
    intruded upon him when he was over here in London. On the whole he
    was of opinion that it WAS an intrusion, though he was so good as
    to ask me to sit down and to inquire after father and all other old
    friends. Leastways humblest acquaintances. He looked, to me, a
    good deal changed, and I said so when I came back. I asked him if
    Miss Amy was well--'

    'And she was?'

    'I should have thought you would have known without putting the
    question to such as me,' returned Young John, after appearing to
    take a large invisible pill. 'Since you do put me the question, I
    am sorry I can't answer it. But the truth is, he looked upon the
    inquiry as a liberty, and said, "What was that to me?" It was then
    I became quite aware I was intruding: of which I had been fearful
    before. However, he spoke very handsome afterwards; very
    handsome.'

    They were both silent for several minutes: except that Young John
    remarked, at about the middle of the pause, 'He both spoke and
    acted very handsome.'

    It was again Young John who broke the silence by inquiring:

    'If it's not a liberty, how long may it be your intentions, sir, to
    go without eating and drinking?'

    'I have not felt the want of anything yet,' returned Clennam. 'I
    have no appetite just now.'

    'The more reason why you should take some support, sir,' urged
    Young John. 'If you find yourself going on sitting here for hours
    and hours partaking of no refreshment because you have no appetite,
    why then you should and must partake of refreshment without an
    appetite. I'm going to have tea in my own apartment. If it's not
    a liberty, please to come and take a cup. Or I can bring a tray
    here in two minutes.'

    Feeling that Young John would impose that trouble on himself if he
    refused, and also feeling anxious to show that he bore in mind both
    the elder Mr Chivery's entreaty, and the younger Mr Chivery's
    apology, Arthur rose and expressed his willingness to take a cup of
    tea in Mr john's apartment. Young John locked his door for him as
    they went out, slided the key into his pocket with great dexterity,
    and led the way to his own residence.

    It was at the top of the house nearest to the gateway. It was the
    room to which Clennam had hurried on the day when the enriched
    family had left the prison for ever, and where he had lifted her
    insensible from the floor. He foresaw where they were going as
    soon as their feet touched the staircase. The room was so far
    changed that it was papered now, and had been repainted, and was
    far more comfortably furnished; but he could recall it just as he
    had seen it in that single glance, when he raised her from the
    ground and carried her down to the carriage.

    Young John looked hard at him, biting his fingers.

    'I see you recollect the room, Mr Clennam?'
    'I recollect it well, Heaven bless her!'

    Oblivious of the tea, Young John continued to bite his fingers and
    to look at his visitor, as long as his visitor continued to glance
    about the room. Finally, he made a start at the teapot, gustily
    rattled a quantity of tea into it from a canister, and set off for
    the common kitchen to fill it with hot water.

    The room was so eloquent to Clennam in the changed circumstances of
    his return to the miserable Marshalsea; it spoke to him so
    mournfully of her, and of his loss of her; that it would have gone
    hard with him to resist it, even though he had not been alone.
    Alone, he did not try. He had his hand on the insensible wall as
    tenderly as if it had been herself that he touched, and pronounced
    her name in a low voice. He stood at the window, looking over the
    prison-parapet with its grim spiked border, and breathed a
    benediction through the summer haze towards the distant land where
    she was rich and prosperous.

    Young John was some time absent, and, when he came back, showed
    that he had been outside by bringing with him fresh butter in a
    cabbage leaf, some thin slices of boiled ham in another cabbage
    leaf, and a little basket of water-cresses and salad herbs. When
    these were arranged upon the table to his satisfaction, they sat
    down to tea.

    Clennam tried to do honour to the meal, but unavailingly. The ham
    sickened him, the bread seemed to turn to sand in his mouth. He
    could force nothing upon himself but a cup of tea.

    'Try a little something green,' said Young John, handing him the
    basket.

    He took a sprig or so of water-cress, and tried again; but the
    bread turned to a heavier sand than before, and the ham (though it
    was good enough of itself) seemed to blow a faint simoom of ham
    through the whole Marshalsea.

    'Try a little more something green, sir,' said Young John; and
    again handed the basket.

    It was so like handing green meat into the cage of a dull
    imprisoned bird, and John had so evidently brought the little
    basket as a handful of fresh relief from the stale hot paving-
    stones and bricks of the jail, that Clennam said, with a smile, 'It
    was very kind of you to think of putting this between the wires;
    but I cannot even get this down to-day.'

    As if the difficulty were contagious, Young John soon pushed away
    his own plate, and fell to folding the cabbage-leaf that had
    contained the ham. When he had folded it into a number of layers,
    one over another, so that it was small in the palm of his hand, he
    began to flatten it between both his hands, and to eye Clennam
    attentively.
    'I wonder,' he at length said, compressing his green packet with
    some force, 'that if it's not worth your while to take care of
    yourself for your own sake, it's not worth doing for some one
    else's.'

    'Truly,' returned Arthur, with a sigh and a smile, 'I don't know
    for whose.'

    'Mr Clennam,' said John, warmly, 'I am surprised that a gentleman
    who is capable of the straightforwardness that you are capable of,
    should be capable of the mean action of making me such an answer.
    Mr Clennam, I am surprised that a gentleman who is capable of
    having a heart of his own, should be capable of the heartlessness
    of treating mine in that way. I am astonished at it, sir. Really
    and truly I am astonished!'

    Having got upon his feet to emphasise his concluding words, Young
    John sat down again, and fell to rolling his green packet on his
    right leg; never taking his eyes off Clennam, but surveying him
    with a fixed look of indignant reproach.

    'I had got over it, sir,' said John. 'I had conquered it, knowing
    that it must be conquered, and had come to the resolution to think
    no more about it. I shouldn't have given my mind to it again, I
    hope, if to this prison you had not been brought, and in an hour
    unfortunate for me, this day!' (In his agitation Young John
    adopted his mother's powerful construction of sentences.) 'When you
    first came upon me, sir, in the Lodge, this day, more as if a Upas
    tree had been made a capture of than a private defendant, such
    mingled streams of feelings broke loose again within me, that
    everything was for the first few minutes swept away before them,
    and I was going round and round in a vortex. I got out of it. I
    struggled, and got out of it. If it was the last word I had to
    speak, against that vortex with my utmost powers I strove, and out
    of it I came. I argued that if I had been rude, apologies was due,
    and those apologies without a question of demeaning, I did make.
    And now, when I've been so wishful to show that one thought is next
    to being a holy one with me and goes before all others--now, after
    all, you dodge me when I ever so gently hint at it, and throw me
    back upon myself. For, do not, sir,' said Young John, 'do not be
    so base as to deny that dodge you do, and thrown me back upon
    myself you have!'

    All amazement, Arthur gazed at him like one lost, only saying,
    'What is it? What do you mean, John?' But, John, being in that
    state of mind in which nothing would seem to be more impossible to
    a certain class of people than the giving of an answer, went ahead
    blindly.

    'I hadn't,' John declared, 'no, I hadn't, and I never had the
    audaciousness to think, I am sure, that all was anything but lost.
    I hadn't, no, why should I say I hadn't if I ever had, any hope
    that it was possible to be so blest, not after the words that
    passed, not even if barriers insurmountable had not been raised!
    But is that a reason why I am to have no memory, why I am to have
    no thoughts, why I am to have no sacred spots, nor anything?'

    'What can you mean?' cried Arthur.

    'It's all very well to trample on it, sir,' John went on, scouring
    a very prairie of wild words, 'if a person can make up his mind to
    be guilty of the action. It's all very well to trample on it, but
    it's there. It may be that it couldn't be trampled upon if it
    wasn't there. But that doesn't make it gentlemanly, that doesn't
    make it honourable, that doesn't justify throwing a person back
    upon himself after he has struggled and strived out of himself like
    a butterfly. The world may sneer at a turnkey, but he's a man--
    when he isn't a woman, which among female criminals he's expected
    to be.'

    Ridiculous as the incoherence of his talk was, there was yet a
    truthfulness in Young john's simple, sentimental character, and a
    sense of being wounded in some very tender respect, expressed in
    his burning face and in the agitation of his voice and manner,
    which Arthur must have been cruel to disregard. He turned his
    thoughts back to the starting-point of this unknown injury; and in
    the meantime Young John, having rolled his green packet pretty
    round, cut it carefully into three pieces, and laid it on a plate
    as if it were some particular delicacy.

    'It seems to me just possible,' said Arthur, when he had retraced
    the conversation to the water-cresses and back again, 'that you
    have made some reference to Miss Dorrit.'

    'It is just possible, sir,' returned John Chivery.

    'I don't understand it. I hope I may not be so unlucky as to make
    you think I mean to offend you again, for I never have meant to
    offend you yet, when I say I don't understand it.'

    'Sir,' said Young John, 'will you have the perfidy to deny that you
    know and long have known that I felt towards Miss Dorrit, call it
    not the presumption of love, but adoration and sacrifice ?'

    'Indeed, John, I will not have any perfidy if I know it; why you
    should suspect me of it I am at a loss to think. Did you ever hear
    from Mrs Chivery, your mother, that I went to see her once?'

    'No, sir,' returned John, shortly. 'Never heard of such a thing.'

    'But I did. Can you imagine why?'

    'No, sir,' returned John, shortly. 'I can't imagine why.'

    'I will tell you. I was solicitous to promote Miss Dorrit's
    happiness; and if I could have supposed that Miss Dorrit returned
    your affection--'

    Poor John Chivery turned crimson to the tips of his ears. 'Miss
    Dorrit never did, sir. I wish to be honourable and true, so far as
    in my humble way I can, and I would scorn to pretend for a moment
    that she ever did, or that she ever led me to believe she did; no,
    nor even that it was ever to be expected in any cool reason that
    she would or could. She was far above me in all respects at all
    times. As likewise,' added John, 'similarly was her gen-teel
    family.'
    His chivalrous feeling towards all that belonged to her made him so
    very respectable, in spite of his small stature and his rather weak
    legs, and his very weak hair, and his poetical temperament, that a
    Goliath might have sat in his place demanding less consideration at
    Arthur's hands.

    'You speak, john,' he said, with cordial admiration, 'like a Man.'

    'Well, sir,' returned John, brushing his hand across his eyes,

    'then I wish you'd do the same.'

    He was quick with this unexpected retort, and it again made Arthur
    regard him with a wondering expression of face.

    'Leastways,' said John, stretching his hand across the tea-tray,
    'if too strong a remark, withdrawn! But, why not, why not? When
    I say to you, Mr Clennam, take care of yourself for some one else's
    sake, why not be open, though a turnkey? Why did I get you the
    room which I knew you'd like best? Why did I carry up your things?

    Not that I found 'em heavy; I don't mention 'em on that accounts;
    far from it. Why have I cultivated you in the manner I have done
    since the morning? On the ground of your own merits? No. They're
    very great, I've no doubt at all; but not on the ground of them.
    Another's merits have had their weight, and have had far more
    weight with Me. Then why not speak free?'

    'Unaffectedly, John,' said Clennam, 'you are so good a fellow and
    I have so true a respect for your character, that if I have
    appeared to be less sensible than I really am of the fact that the
    kind services you have rendered me to-day are attributable to my
    having been trusted by Miss Dorrit as her friend--I confess it to
    be a fault, and I ask your forgiveness.'

    'Oh! why not,' John repeated with returning scorn, 'why not speak
    free!'

    'I declare to you,' returned Arthur, 'that I do not understand you.

    Look at me. Consider the trouble I have been in. Is it likely
    that I would wilfully add to my other self-reproaches, that of
    being ungrateful or treacherous to you. I do not understand you.'

    john's incredulous face slowly softened into a face of doubt. He
    rose, backed into the garret-window of the room, beckoned Arthur to
    come there, and stood looking at him thoughtfully.
    'Mr Clennam, do you mean to say that you don't know?'

    'What, John?'

    'Lord,' said Young John, appealing with a gasp to the spikes on the
    wall. 'He says, What!'

    Clennam looked at the spikes, and looked at John; and looked at the
    spikes, and looked at John.

    'He says What! And what is more,' exclaimed Young John, surveying
    him in a doleful maze, 'he appears to mean it! Do you see this
    window, sir?'

    'Of course I see this window.'

    'See this room?'

    'Why, of course I see this room.'

    'That wall opposite, and that yard down below? They have all been
    witnesses of it, from day to day, from night to night, from week to
    week, from month to month. For how often have I seen Miss Dorrit
    here when she has not seen me!'

    'Witnesses of what?' said Clennam.

    'Of Miss Dorrit's love.'

    'For whom?'

    'You,' said John. And touched him with the back of his hand upon
    the breast, and backed to his chair, and sat down on it with a pale
    face, holding the arms, and shaking his head at him.

    If he had dealt Clennam a heavy blow, instead of laying that light
    touch upon him, its effect could not have been to shake him more.
    He stood amazed; his eyes looking at John; his lips parted, and
    seeming now and then to form the word 'Me!' without uttering it;
    his hands dropped at his sides; his whole appearance that of a man
    who has been awakened from sleep, and stupefied by intelligence
    beyond his full comprehension.

    'Me!' he at length said aloud.

    'Ah!' groaned Young John. 'You!'

    He did what he could to muster a smile, and returned, 'Your fancy.
    You are completely mistaken.'

    'I mistaken, sir!' said Young John. '_I_ completely mistaken on
    that subject! No, Mr Clennam, don't tell me so. On any other, if
    you like, for I don't set up to be a penetrating character, and am
    well aware of my own deficiencies. But, _I_ mistaken on a point
    that has caused me more smart in my breast than a flight of
    savages' arrows could have done! _I_ mistaken on a point that
    almost sent me into my grave, as I sometimes wished it would, if
    the grave could only have been made compatible with the tobacco-
    business and father and mother's feelings! I mistaken on a point
    that, even at the present moment, makes me take out my pocket-
    handkercher like a great girl, as people say: though I am sure I
    don't know why a great girl should be a term of reproach, for every
    rightly constituted male mind loves 'em great and small. Don't
    tell me so, don't tell me so!'

    Still highly respectable at bottom, though absurd enough upon the
    surface, Young John took out his pocket-handkerchief with a genuine
    absence both of display and concealment, which is only to be seen
    in a man with a great deal of good in him, when he takes out his
    pocket-handkerchief for the purpose of wiping his eyes. Having
    dried them, and indulged in the harmless luxury of a sob and a
    sniff, he put it up again.

    The touch was still in its influence so like a blow that Arthur
    could not get many words together to close the subject with. He
    assured John Chivery when he had returned his handkerchief to his
    pocket, that he did all honour to his disinterestedness and to the
    fidelity of his remembrance of Miss Dorrit. As to the impression
    on his mind, of which he had just relieved it--here John
    interposed, and said, 'No impression! Certainty!'--as to that,
    they might perhaps speak of it at another time, but would say no
    more now. Feeling low-spirited and weary, he would go back to his
    room, with john's leave, and come out no more that night. John
    assented, and he crept back in the shadow of the wall to his own
    lodging.

    The feeling of the blow was still so strong upon him that, when the
    dirty old woman was gone whom he found sitting on the stairs
    outside his door, waiting to make his bed, and who gave him to
    understand while doing it, that she had received her instructions
    from Mr Chivery, 'not the old 'un but the young 'un,' he sat down
    in the faded arm-chair, pressing his head between his hands, as if
    he had been stunned. Little Dorrit love him! More bewildering to
    him than his misery, far.

    Consider the improbability. He had been accustomed to call her his
    child, and his dear child, and to invite her confidence by dwelling
    upon the difference in their respective ages, and to speak of
    himself as one who was turning old. Yet she might not have thought
    him old. Something reminded him that he had not thought himself
    so, until the roses had floated away upon the river.

    He had her two letters among other papers in his box, and he took
    them out and read them. There seemed to be a sound in them like
    the sound of her sweet voice. It fell upon his ear with many tones
    of tenderness, that were not insusceptible of the new meaning. Now
    it was that the quiet desolation of her answer,'No, No, No,' made
    to him that night in that very room--that night when he had been
    shown the dawn of her altered fortune, and when other words had
    passed between them which he had been destined to remember in
    humiliation and a prisoner, rushed into his mind.

    Consider the improbability.

    But it had a preponderating tendency, when considered, to become
    fainter. There was another and a curious inquiry of his own
    heart's that concurrently became stronger. In the reluctance he
    had felt to believe that she loved any one; in his desire to set
    that question at rest; in a half-formed consciousness he had had
    that there would be a kind of nobleness in his helping her love for
    any one, was there no suppressed something on his own side that he
    had hushed as it arose? Had he ever whispered to himself that he
    must not think of such a thing as her loving him, that he must not
    take advantage of her gratitude, that he must keep his experience
    in remembrance as a warning and reproof; that he must regard such
    youthful hopes as having passed away, as his friend's dead daughter
    had passed away; that he must be steady in saying to himself that
    the time had gone by him, and he was too saddened and old?

    He had kissed her when he raised her from the ground on the day
    when she had been so consistently and expressively forgotten.
    Quite as he might have kissed her, if she had been conscious? No
    difference?

    The darkness found him occupied with these thoughts. The darkness
    also found Mr and Mrs Plornish knocking at his door. They brought
    with them a basket, filled with choice selections from that stock
    in trade which met with such a quick sale and produced such a slow
    return. Mrs Plornish was affected to tears. Mr Plornish amiably
    growled, in his philosophical but not lucid manner, that there was
    ups you see, and there was downs. It was in vain to ask why ups,
    why downs; there they was, you know. He had heerd it given for a
    truth that accordin' as the world went round, which round it did
    rewolve undoubted, even the best of gentlemen must take his turn of
    standing with his ed upside down and all his air a flying the wrong
    way into what you might call Space. Wery well then. What Mr
    Plornish said was, wery well then. That gentleman's ed would come
    up-ards when his turn come, that gentleman's air would be a
    pleasure to look upon being all smooth again, and wery well then!

    It has been already stated that Mrs Plornish, not being
    philosophical, wept. It further happened that Mrs Plornish, not
    being philosophical, was intelligible. It may have arisen out of
    her softened state of mind, out of her sex's wit, out of a woman's
    quick association of ideas, or out of a woman's no association of
    ideas, but it further happened somehow that Mrs Plornish's
    intelligibility displayed itself upon the very subject of Arthur's
    meditations.

    'The way father has been talking about you, Mr Clennam,' said Mrs
    Plornish, 'you hardly would believe. It's made him quite poorly.
    As to his voice, this misfortune has took it away. You know what
    a sweet singer father is; but he couldn't get a note out for the
    children at tea, if you'll credit what I tell you.'

    While speaking, Mrs Plornish shook her head, and wiped her eyes,
    and looked retrospectively about the room.

    'As to Mr Baptist,' pursued Mrs Plornish, 'whatever he'll do when
    he comes to know of it, I can't conceive nor yet imagine. He'd
    have been here before now, you may be sure, but that he's away on
    confidential business of your own. The persevering manner in which
    he follows up that business, and gives himself no rest from it--it
    really do,' said Mrs Plornish, winding up in the Italian manner,
    'as I say to him, Mooshattonisha padrona.'

    Though not conceited, Mrs Plornish felt that she had turned this
    Tuscan sentence with peculiar elegance. Mr Plornish could not
    conceal his exultation in her accomplishments as a linguist.

    'But what I say is, Mr Clennam,' the good woman went on, 'there's
    always something to be thankful for, as I am sure you will yourself
    admit. Speaking in this room, it's not hard to think what the
    present something is. It's a thing to be thankful for, indeed,
    that Miss Dorrit is not here to know it.'

    Arthur thought she looked at him with particular expression.

    'It's a thing,' reiterated Mrs Plornish, 'to be thankful for,
    indeed, that Miss Dorrit is far away. It's to be hoped she is not
    likely to hear of it. If she had been here to see it, sir, it's
    not to be doubted that the sight of you,' Mrs Plornish repeated
    those words--'not to be doubted, that the sight of you--in
    misfortune and trouble, would have been almost too much for her
    affectionate heart. There's nothing I can think of, that would
    have touched Miss Dorrit so bad as that.'

    Of a certainty Mrs Plornish did look at him now, with a sort of
    quivering defiance in her friendly emotion.

    'Yes!' said she. 'And it shows what notice father takes, though at
    his time of life, that he says to me this afternoon, which Happy
    Cottage knows I neither make it up nor any ways enlarge, "Mary,
    it's much to be rejoiced in that Miss Dorrit is not on the spot to
    behold it." Those were father's words. Father's own words was,
    "Much to be rejoiced in, Mary, that Miss Dorrit is not on the spot
    to behold it." I says to father then, I says to him, "Father, you
    are right!" That,' Mrs Plornish concluded, with the air of a very
    precise legal witness, 'is what passed betwixt father and me. And
    I tell you nothing but what did pass betwixt me and father.'

    Mr Plornish, as being of a more laconic temperament, embraced this
    opportunity of interposing with the suggestion that she should now
    leave Mr Clennam to himself. 'For, you see,' said Mr Plornish,
    gravely, 'I know what it is, old gal;' repeating that valuable
    remark several times, as if it appeared to him to include some
    great moral secret. Finally, the worthy couple went away arm in
    arm.

    Little Dorrit, Little Dorrit. Again, for hours. Always Little
    Dorrit!

    Happily, if it ever had been so, it was over, and better over.
    Granted that she had loved him, and he had known it and had
    suffered himself to love her, what a road to have led her away
    upon--the road that would have brought her back to this miserable
    place! He ought to be much comforted by the reflection that she
    was quit of it forever; that she was, or would soon be, married
    (vague rumours of her father's projects in that direction had
    reached Bleeding Heart Yard, with the news of her sister's
    marriage); and that the Marshalsea gate had shut for ever on all
    those perplexed possibilities of a time that was gone.

    Dear Little Dorrit.

    Looking back upon his own poor story, she was its vanishing-point.
    Every thing in its perspective led to her innocent figure. He had
    travelled thousands of miles towards it; previous unquiet hopes and
    doubts had worked themselves out before it; it was the centre of
    the interest of his life; it was the termination of everything that
    was good and pleasant in it; beyond, there was nothing but mere
    waste and darkened sky.

    As ill at ease as on the first night of his lying down to sleep
    within those dreary walls, he wore the night out with such
    thoughts. What time Young John lay wrapt in peaceful slumber,
    after composing and arranging the following monumental inscription
    on his pillow--

    STRANGER!
    RESPECT THE TOMB OF
    JOHN CHIVERY, JUNIOR,
    WHO DIED AT AN ADVANCED AGE
    NOT NECESSARY TO MENTION.
    HE ENCOUNTERED HIS RIVAL IN A DISTRESSED STATE,
    AND FELT INCLINED
    TO HAVE A ROUND WITH HIM;
    BUT, FOR THE SAKE OF THE LOVED ONE, CONQUERED THOSE FEELINGS
    OF BITTERNESS, AND BECAME
    MAGNANIMOUS.
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    Chapter 62
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