'I am outraged and insulted by it. Let me suppose the case that I myself may at a certain time--ha--or times, have made a--hum--an appeal, and a properly-worded appeal, and a delicate appeal, and an urgent appeal to some individual for a small temporary accommodation. Let me suppose that that accommodation could have been easily extended, and was not extended, and that that individual informed me that he begged to be excused. Am I to be told by my own son, that I therefore received treatment not due to a gentleman, and that I--ha--I submitted to it?'
His daughter Amy gently tried to calm him, but he would not on any account be calmed. He said his spirit was up, and wouldn't endure this.
Was he to be told that, he wished to know again, by his own son on his own hearth, to his own face? Was that humiliation to be put upon him by his own blood?
'You are putting it on yourself, father, and getting into all this injury of your own accord!' said the young gentleman morosely. 'What I have made up my mind about has nothing to do with you. What I said had nothing to do with you. Why need you go trying on other people's hats?'
'I reply it has everything to do with me,' returned the Father. 'I point out to you, sir, with indignation, that--hum--the--ha-- delicacy and peculiarity of your father's position should strike you dumb, sir, if nothing else should, in laying down such--ha-- such unnatural principles. Besides; if you are not filial, sir, if you discard that duty, you are at least--hum--not a Christian? Are you--ha--an Atheist? And is it Christian, let me ask you, to stigmatise and denounce an individual for begging to be excused this time, when the same individual may--ha--respond with the required accommodation next time? Is it the part of a Christian not to--hum--not to try him again?' He had worked himself into quite a religious glow and fervour.
'I see precious well,' said Mr Tip, rising, 'that I shall get no sensible or fair argument here to-night, and so the best thing I can do is to cut. Good night, Amy. Don't be vexed. I am very sorry it happens here, and you here, upon my soul I am; but I can't altogether part with my spirit, even for your sake, old girl.'
With those words he put on his hat and went out, accompanied by Miss Fanny; who did not consider it spirited on her part to take leave of Clennam with any less opposing demonstration than a stare, importing that she had always known him for one of the large body of conspirators.
When they were gone, the Father of the Marshalsea was at first inclined to sink into despondency again, and would have done so, but that a gentleman opportunely came up within a minute or two to attend him to the Snuggery. It was the gentleman Clennam had seen on the night of his own accidental detention there, who had that impalpable grievance about the misappropriated Fund on which the Marshal was supposed to batten. He presented himself as deputation to escort the Father to the Chair, it being an occasion on which he had promised to preside over the assembled Collegians in the enjoyment of a little Harmony.
'Such, you see, Mr Clennam,' said the Father, 'are the incongruities of my position here. But a public duty! No man, I am sure, would more readily recognise a public duty than yourself.'
Clennam besought him not to delay a moment. 'Amy, my dear, if you can persuade Mr Clennam to stay longer, I can leave the honours of our poor apology for an establishment with confidence in your hands, and perhaps you may do something towards erasing from Mr Clennam's mind the--ha--untoward and unpleasant circumstance which has occurred since tea-time.'
Clennam assured him that it had made no impression on his mind, and therefore required no erasure.
'My dear sir,' said the Father, with a removal of his black cap and a grasp of Clennam's hand, combining to express the safe receipt of his note and enclosure that afternoon, 'Heaven ever bless you!'
So, at last, Clennam's purpose in remaining was attained, and he could speak to Little Dorrit with nobody by.