'As I always say to Mother, why not have something pretty to look at, if you have anything at all?' A certain Mrs Tickit, who was Cook and Housekeeper when the family were at home, and Housekeeper only when the family were away, completed the establishment. Mr Meagles regretted that the nature of the duties in which she was engaged, rendered Mrs Tickit unpresentable at present, but hoped to introduce her to the new visitor to-morrow. She was an important part of the Cottage, he said, and all his friends knew her. That was her picture up in the corner. When they went away, she always put on the silk-gown and the jet-black row of curls represented in that portrait (her hair was reddish-grey in the kitchen), established herself in the breakfast-room, put her spectacles between two particular leaves of Doctor Buchan's Domestic Medicine, and sat looking over the blind all day until they came back again. It was supposed that no persuasion could be invented which would induce Mrs Tickit to abandon her post at the blind, however long their absence, or to dispense with the attendance of Dr Buchan; the lucubrations of which learned practitioner, Mr Meagles implicitly believed she had never yet consulted to the extent of one word in her life.
In the evening they played an old-fashioned rubber; and Pet sat looking over her father's hand, or singing to herself by fits and starts at the piano. She was a spoilt child; but how could she be otherwise? Who could be much with so pliable and beautiful a creature, and not yield to her endearing influence? Who could pass an evening in the house, and not love her for the grace and charm of her very presence in the room? This was Clennam's reflection, notwithstanding the final conclusion at which he had arrived up- stairs.
In making it, he revoked. 'Why, what are you thinking of, my good sir?' asked the astonished Mr Meagles, who was his partner.
'I beg your pardon. Nothing,' returned Clennam.
'Think of something, next time; that's a dear fellow,' said Mr Meagles.
Pet laughingly believed he had been thinking of Miss Wade.
'Why of Miss Wade, Pet?' asked her father.
'Why, indeed!' said Arthur Clennam.
Pet coloured a little, and went to the piano again.
As they broke up for the night, Arthur overheard Doyce ask his host if he could give him half an hour's conversation before breakfast in the morning? The host replying willingly, Arthur lingered behind a moment, having his own word to add to that topic.
'Mr Meagles,' he said, on their being left alone, 'do you remember when you advised me to go straight to London?'
'Perfectly well.' 'And when you gave me some other good advice which I needed at that time?'
'I won't say what it was worth,' answered Mr Meagles: 'but of course I remember our being very pleasant and confidential together.'
'I have acted on your advice; and having disembarrassed myself of an occupation that was painful to me for many reasons, wish to devote myself and what means I have, to another pursuit.'
'Right! You can't do it too soon,' said Mr Meagles.
'Now, as I came down to-day, I found that your friend, Mr Doyce, is looking for a partner in his business--not a partner in his mechanical knowledge, but in the ways and means of turning the business arising from it to the best account.'
'Just so,' said Mr Meagles, with his hands in his pockets, and with the old business expression of face that had belonged to the scales and scoop.
'Mr Doyce mentioned incidentally, in the course of our conversation, that he was going to take your valuable advice on the subject of finding such a partner. If you should think our views and opportunities at all likely to coincide, perhaps you will let him know my available position. I speak, of course, in ignorance of the details, and they may be unsuitable on both sides.'
'No doubt, no doubt,' said Mr Meagles, with the caution belonging to the scales and scoop.
'But they will be a question of figures and accounts--'
'Just so, just so,' said Mr Meagles, with arithmetical solidity belonging to the scales and scoop.