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.