How do you dare to act like this? Who am I that you--ha--separate me from other gentlemen?'
Alas! The host called all the universe to witness that Monseigneur was the most amiable of the whole body of nobility, the most important, the most estimable, the most honoured. If he separated Monseigneur from others, it was only because he was more distinguished, more cherished, more generous, more renowned.
'Don't tell me so, sir,' returned Mr Dorrit, in a mighty heat. 'You have affronted me. You have heaped insults upon me. How dare you? Explain yourself.'
Ah, just Heaven, then, how could the host explain himself when he had nothing more to explain; when he had only to apologise, and confide himself to the so well-known magnanimity of Monseigneur!
'I tell you, sir,' said Mr Dorrit, panting with anger, 'that you separate me--ha--from other gentlemen; that you make distinctions between me and other gentlemen of fortune and station. I demand of you, why? I wish to know on--ha--what authority, on whose authority. Reply sir. Explain. Answer why.'
Permit the landlord humbly to submit to Monsieur the Courier then, that Monseigneur, ordinarily so gracious, enraged himself without cause. There was no why. Monsieur the Courier would represent to Monseigneur, that he deceived himself in suspecting that there was any why, but the why his devoted servant had already had the honour to present to him. The very genteel lady--
'Silence!' cried Mr Dorrit. 'Hold your tongue! I will hear no more of the very genteel lady; I will hear no more of you. Look at this family--my family--a family more genteel than any lady. You have treated this family with disrespect; you have been insolent to this family. I'll ruin you. Ha--send for the horses, pack the carriages, I'll not set foot in this man's house again!'
No one had interfered in the dispute, which was beyond the French colloquial powers of Edward Dorrit, Esquire, and scarcely within the province of the ladies. Miss Fanny, however, now supported her father with great bitterness; declaring, in her native tongue, that it was quite clear there was something special in this man's impertinence; and that she considered it important that he should be, by some means, forced to give up his authority for making distinctions between that family and other wealthy families. What the reasons of his presumption could be, she was at a loss to imagine; but reasons he must have, and they ought to be torn from him.
All the guides, mule-drivers, and idlers in the yard, had made themselves parties to the angry conference, and were much impressed by the courier's now bestirring himself to get the carriages out. With the aid of some dozen people to each wheel, this was done at a great cost of noise; and then the loading was proceeded with, pending the arrival of the horses from the post-house.
But the very genteel lady's English chariot being already horsed and at the inn-door, the landlord had slipped up-stairs to represent his hard case. This was notified to the yard by his now coming down the staircase in attendance on the gentleman and the lady, and by his pointing out the offended majesty of Mr Dorrit to them with a significant motion of his hand.
'Beg your pardon,' said the gentleman, detaching himself from the lady, and coming forward. 'I am a man of few words and a bad hand at an explanation--but lady here is extremely anxious that there should be no Row. Lady--a mother of mine, in point of fact--wishes me to say that she hopes no Row.'
Mr Dorrit, still panting under his injury, saluted the gentleman, and saluted the lady, in a distant, final, and invincible manner.
'No, but really--here, old feller; you!' This was the gentleman's way of appealing to Edward Dorrit, Esquire, on whom he pounced as a great and providential relief. 'Let you and I try to make this all right. Lady so very much wishes no Row.'
Edward Dorrit, Esquire, led a little apart by the button, assumed a diplomatic expression of countenance in replying, 'Why you must confess, that when you bespeak a lot of rooms beforehand, and they belong to you, it's not pleasant to find other people in 'em.'
'No,' said the other, 'I know it isn't.