'And in its place,' said Clennam, slowly and distinctly, 'are the means to possess and enjoy the utmost that they have so long shut out. Mr Dorrit, there is not the smallest doubt that within a few days you will be free, and highly prosperous. I congratulate you with all my soul on this change of fortune, and on the happy future into which you are soon to carry the treasure you have been blest with here--the best of all the riches you can have elsewhere--the treasure at your side.'
With those words, he pressed his hand and released it; and his daughter, laying her face against his, encircled him in the hour of his prosperity with her arms, as she had in the long years of his adversity encircled him with her love and toil and truth; and poured out her full heart in gratitude, hope, joy, blissful ecstasy, and all for him.
'I shall see him as I never saw him yet. I shall see my dear love, with the dark cloud cleared away. I shall see him, as my poor mother saw him long ago. O my dear, my dear! O father, father! O thank God, thank God!'
He yielded himself to her kisses and caresses, but did not return them, except that he put an arm about her. Neither did he say one word. His steadfast look was now divided between her and Clennam, and he began to shake as if he were very cold. Explaining to Little Dorrit that he would run to the coffee-house for a bottle of wine, Arthur fetched it with all the haste he could use. While it was being brought from the cellar to the bar, a number of excited people asked him what had happened; when he hurriedly informed them that Mr Dorrit had succeeded to a fortune.
On coming back with the wine in his hand, he found that she had placed her father in his easy chair, and had loosened his shirt and neckcloth. They filled a tumbler with wine, and held it to his lips. When he had swallowed a little, he took the glass himself and emptied it. Soon after that, he leaned back in his chair and cried, with his handkerchief before his face.
After this had lasted a while Clennam thought it a good season for diverting his attention from the main surprise, by relating its details. Slowly, therefore, and in a quiet tone of voice, he explained them as best he could, and enlarged on the nature of Pancks's service.
'He shall be--ha--he shall be handsomely recompensed, sir,' said the Father, starting up and moving hurriedly about the room. 'Assure yourself, Mr Clennam, that everybody concerned shall be-- ha--shall be nobly rewarded. No one, my dear sir, shall say that he has an unsatisfied claim against me. I shall repay the--hum-- the advances I have had from you, sir, with peculiar pleasure. I beg to be informed at your earliest convenience, what advances you have made my son.'
He had no purpose in going about the room, but he was not still a moment.
'Everybody,' he said, 'shall be remembered. I will not go away from here in anybody's debt. All the people who have been--ha-- well behaved towards myself and my family, shall be rewarded. Chivery shall be rewarded. Young John shall be rewarded. I particularly wish, and intend, to act munificently, Mr Clennam.'
'Will you allow me,' said Arthur, laying his purse on the table, 'to supply any present contingencies, Mr Dorrit? I thought it best to bring a sum of money for the purpose.'
'Thank you, sir, thank you. I accept with readiness, at the present moment, what I could not an hour ago have conscientiously taken. I am obliged to you for the temporary accommodation. Exceedingly temporary, but well timed--well timed.' His hand had closed upon the money, and he carried it about with him. 'Be so kind, sir, as to add the amount to those former advances to which I have already referred; being careful, if you please, not to omit advances made to my son. A mere verbal statement of the gross amount is all I shall--ha--all I shall require.'
His eye fell upon his daughter at this point, and he stopped for a moment to kiss her, and to pat her head.
'It will be necessary to find a milliner, my love, and to make a speedy and complete change in your very plain dress.