I had better say you were well and happy.'
'Yes, yes, yes! Say I was very well and very happy. And that I thanked him affectionately, and would never forget him.'
'I shall see you in the morning. After that we are sure to meet again before very long. Good night!'
'Good night. Thank you, thank you. Good night, my dear!'
Both of them were hurried and fluttered as they exchanged this parting, and as the visitor came out of the door. She had expected to meet the lady's husband approaching it; but the person in the gallery was not he: it was the traveller who had wiped the wine- drops from his moustache with the piece of bread. When he heard the step behind him, he turned round--for he was walking away in the dark. His politeness, which was extreme, would not allow of the young lady's lighting herself down-stairs, or going down alone. He took her lamp, held it so as to throw the best light on the stone steps, and followed her all the way to the supper-room. She went down, not easily hiding how much she was inclined to shrink and tremble; for the appearance of this traveller was particularly disagreeable to her. She had sat in her quiet corner before supper imagining what he would have been in the scenes and places within her experience, until he inspired her with an aversion that made him little less than terrific.
He followed her down with his smiling politeness, followed her in, and resumed his seat in the best place in the hearth. There with the wood-fire, which was beginning to burn low, rising and falling upon him in the dark room, he sat with his legs thrust out to warm, drinking the hot wine down to the lees, with a monstrous shadow imitating him on the wall and ceiling.
The tired company had broken up, and all the rest were gone to bed except the young lady's father, who dozed in his chair by the fire.
The traveller had been at the pains of going a long way up-stairs to his sleeping-room to fetch his pocket-flask of brandy. He told them so, as he poured its contents into what was left of the wine, and drank with a new relish.
'May I ask, sir, if you are on your way to Italy?'
The grey-haired gentleman had roused himself, and was preparing to withdraw. He answered in the affirmative.
'I also!' said the traveller. 'I shall hope to have the honour of offering my compliments in fairer scenes, and under softer circumstances, than on this dismal mountain.'
The gentleman bowed, distantly enough, and said he was obliged to him.
'We poor gentlemen, sir,' said the traveller, pulling his moustache dry with his hand, for he had dipped it in the wine and brandy; 'we poor gentlemen do not travel like princes, but the courtesies and graces of life are precious to us. To your health, sir!'
'Sir, I thank you.'
'To the health of your distinguished family--of the fair ladies, your daughters!'
'Sir, I thank you again, I wish you good night. My dear, are our-- ha--our people in attendance?'
'They are close by, father.'
'Permit me!' said the traveller, rising and holding the door open, as the gentleman crossed the room towards it with his arm drawn through his daughter's. 'Good repose! To the pleasure of seeing you once more! To to-morrow!'
As he kissed his hand, with his best manner and his daintiest smile, the young lady drew a little nearer to her father, and passed him with a dread of touching him.
'Humph!' said the insinuating traveller, whose manner shrunk, and whose voice dropped when he was left alone. 'If they all go to bed, why I must go. They are in a devil of a hurry. One would think the night would be long enough, in this freezing silence and solitude, if one went to bed two hours hence.'
Throwing back his head in emptying his glass, he cast his eyes upon the travellers' book, which lay on the piano, open, with pens and ink beside it, as if the night's names had been registered when he was absent. Taking it in his hand, he read these entries.
William Dorrit, Esquire Frederick Dorrit, Esquire Edward Dorrit, Esquire Miss Dorrit Miss Amy Dorrit Mrs General and Suite. From France to Italy.