'And oh, by-the-bye!' said Pancks, 'you were to live to know what was behind us on that little hand of yours. And so you shall, you shall, my darling.--Eh, Miss Dorrit?'
He had suddenly checked himself. Where he got all the additional black prongs from, that now flew up all over his head like the myriads of points that break out in the large change of a great firework, was a wonderful mystery.
'But I shall be missed;' he came back to that; 'and I don't want 'em to miss me. Mr Clennam, you and I made a bargain. I said you should find me stick to it. You shall find me stick to it now, sir, if you'll step out of the room a moment. Miss Dorrit, I wish you good night. Miss Dorrit, I wish you good fortune.'
He rapidly shook her by both hands, and puffed down stairs. Arthur followed him with such a hurried step, that he had very nearly tumbled over him on the last landing, and rolled him down into the yard.
'What is it, for Heaven's sake!' Arthur demanded, when they burst out there both together.
'Stop a moment, sir. Mr Rugg. Let me introduce him.' With those words he presented another man without a hat, and also with a cigar, and also surrounded with a halo of ale and tobacco smoke, which man, though not so excited as himself, was in a state which would have been akin to lunacy but for its fading into sober method when compared with the rampancy of Mr Pancks. 'Mr Clennam, Mr Rugg,' said Pancks. 'Stop a moment. Come to the pump.'
They adjourned to the pump. Mr Pancks, instantly putting his head under the spout, requested Mr Rugg to take a good strong turn at the handle. Mr Rugg complying to the letter, Mr Pancks came forth snorting and blowing to some purpose, and dried himself on his handkerchief.
'I am the clearer for that,' he gasped to Clennam standing astonished. 'But upon my soul, to hear her father making speeches in that chair, knowing what we know, and to see her up in that room in that dress, knowing what we know, is enough to--give me a back, Mr Rugg--a little higher, sir,--that'll do!'
Then and there, on that Marshalsea pavement, in the shades of evening, did Mr Pancks, of all mankind, fly over the head and shoulders of Mr Rugg of Pentonville, General Agent, Accountant, and Recoverer of Debts. Alighting on his feet, he took Clennam by the button-hole, led him behind the pump, and pantingly produced from his pocket a bundle of papers. Mr Rugg, also, pantingly produced from his pocket a bundle of papers.
'Stay!' said Clennam in a whisper.'You have made a discovery.'
Mr Pancks answered, with an unction which there is no language to convey, 'We rather think so.'
'Does it implicate any one?'
'How implicate, sir?'
'In any suppression or wrong dealing of any kind?'
'Not a bit of it.'
'Thank God!' said Clennam to himself. 'Now show me.' 'You are to understand'--snorted Pancks, feverishly unfolding papers, and speaking in short high-pressure blasts of sentences, 'Where's the Pedigree? Where's Schedule number four, Mr Rugg? Oh!
all right! Here we are.--You are to understand that we are this very day virtually complete. We shan't be legally for a day or two. Call it at the outside a week. We've been at it night and day for I don't know how long. Mr Rugg, you know how long? Never mind. Don't say. You'll only confuse me. You shall tell her, Mr Clennam. Not till we give you leave. Where's that rough total, Mr Rugg? Oh! Here we are! There sir! That's what you'll have to break to her. That man's your Father of the Marshalsea!'
Mrs Merdle's Complaint
Resigning herself to inevitable fate by making the best of those people, the Miggleses, and submitting her philosophy to the draught upon it, of which she had foreseen the likelihood in her interview with Arthur, Mrs Gowan handsomely resolved not to oppose her son's marriage. In her progress to, and happy arrival at, this resolution, she was possibly influenced, not only by her maternal affections but by three politic considerations.