Immediately after which, a sprightly gentleman with a quantity of long black hair looked round a beam on the right, and said, 'Less noise there, darlings!' and also disappeared.
'The notion of you among professionals, Amy, is really the last thing I could have conceived!' said her sister. 'Why, how did you ever get here?'
'I don't know. The lady who told you I was here, was so good as to bring me in.'
'Like you quiet little things! You can make your way anywhere, I believe. I couldn't have managed it, Amy, though I know so much more of the world.'
It was the family custom to lay it down as family law, that she was a plain domestic little creature, without the great and sage experience of the rest. This family fiction was the family assertion of itself against her services. Not to make too much of them.
'Well! And what have you got on your mind, Amy? Of course you have got something on your mind about me?' said Fanny. She spoke as if her sister, between two and three years her junior, were her prejudiced grandmother.
'It is not much; but since you told me of the lady who gave you the bracelet, Fanny--'
The monotonous boy put his head round the beam on the left, and said, 'Look out there, ladies!' and disappeared. The sprightly gentleman with the black hair as suddenly put his head round the beam on the right, and said, 'Look out there, darlings!' and also disappeared. Thereupon all the young ladies rose and began shaking their skirts out behind.
'Well, Amy?' said Fanny, doing as the rest did; 'what were you going to say?'
'Since you told me a lady had given you the bracelet you showed me, Fanny, I have not been quite easy on your account, and indeed want to know a little more if you will confide more to me.'
'Now, ladies!' said the boy in the Scotch cap. 'Now, darlings!' said the gentleman with the black hair. They were every one gone in a moment, and the music and the dancing feet were heard again.
Little Dorrit sat down in a golden chair, made quite giddy by these rapid interruptions. Her sister and the rest were a long time gone; and during their absence a voice (it appeared to be that of the gentleman with the black hair) was continually calling out through the music, 'One, two, three, four, five, six--go! One, two, three, four, five, six--go! Steady, darlings! One, two, three, four, five, six--go!' Ultimately the voice stopped, and they all came back again, more or less out of breath, folding themselves in their shawls, and making ready for the streets. 'Stop a moment, Amy, and let them get away before us,' whispered Fanny. They were soon left alone; nothing more important happening, in the meantime, than the boy looking round his old beam, and saying, 'Everybody at eleven to-morrow, ladies!' and the gentleman with the black hair looking round his old beam, and saying, 'Everybody at eleven to-morrow, darlings!' each in his own accustomed manner.
When they were alone, something was rolled up or by other means got out of the way, and there was a great empty well before them, looking down into the depths of which Fanny said, 'Now, uncle!' Little Dorrit, as her eyes became used to the darkness, faintly made him out at the bottom of the well, in an obscure corner by himself, with his instrument in its ragged case under his arm.
The old man looked as if the remote high gallery windows, with their little strip of sky, might have been the point of his better fortunes, from which he had descended, until he had gradually sunk down below there to the bottom. He had been in that place six nights a week for many years, but had never been observed to raise his eyes above his music-book, and was confidently believed to have never seen a play. There were legends in the place that he did not so much as know the popular heroes and heroines by sight, and that the low comedian had 'mugged' at him in his richest manner fifty nights for a wager, and he had shown no trace of consciousness. The carpenters had a joke to the effect that he was dead without being aware of it; and the frequenters of the pit supposed him to pass his whole life, night and day, and Sunday and all, in the orchestra.