'Accordingly, they do it. Your sister does it. Your brother does it. You alone, my favourite child, whom I made the friend and companion of my life when you were a mere--hum--Baby, do not do it.
You alone say you can't do it. I provide you with valuable assistance to do it. I attach an accomplished and highly bred lady --ha--Mrs General, to you, for the purpose of doing it. Is it surprising that I should be displeased? Is it necessary that I should defend myself for expressing my displeasure? No!'
Notwithstanding which, he continued to defend himself, without any abatement of his flushed mood.
'I am careful to appeal to that lady for confirmation, before I express any displeasure at all. I--hum--I necessarily make that appeal within limited bounds, or I--ha--should render legible, by that lady, what I desire to be blotted out. Am I selfish? Do I complain for my own sake? No. No. Principally for--ha hum--your sake, Amy.'
This last consideration plainly appeared, from his manner of pursuing it, to have just that instant come into his head.
'I said I was hurt. So I am. So I--ha--am determined to be, whatever is advanced to the contrary. I am hurt that my daughter, seated in the--hum--lap of fortune, should mope and retire and proclaim herself unequal to her destiny. I am hurt that she should --ha--systematically reproduce what the rest of us blot out; and seem--hum--I had almost said positively anxious--to announce to wealthy and distinguished society that she was born and bred in--ha hum--a place that I myself decline to name. But there is no inconsistency--ha--not the least, in my feeling hurt, and yet complaining principally for your sake, Amy. I do; I say again, I do. It is for your sake that I wish you, under the auspices of Mrs General, to form a--hum--a surface. It is for your sake that I wish you to have a--ha--truly refined mind, and (in the striking words of Mrs General) to be ignorant of everything that is not perfectly proper, placid, and pleasant.'
He had been running down by jerks, during his last speech, like a sort of ill-adjusted alarum. The touch was still upon his arm. He fell silent; and after looking about the ceiling again for a little while, looked down at her. Her head drooped, and he could not see her face; but her touch was tender and quiet, and in the expression of her dejected figure there was no blame--nothing but love. He began to whimper, just as he had done that night in the prison when she afterwards sat at his bedside till morning; exclaimed that he was a poor ruin and a poor wretch in the midst of his wealth; and clasped her in his arms. 'Hush, hush, my own dear! Kiss me!' was all she said to him. His tears were soon dried, much sooner than on the former occasion; and he was presently afterwards very high with his valet, as a way of righting himself for having shed any.
With one remarkable exception, to be recorded in its place, this was the only time, in his life of freedom and fortune, when he spoke to his daughter Amy of the old days.
But, now, the breakfast hour arrived; and with it Miss Fanny from her apartment, and Mr Edward from his apartment. Both these young persons of distinction were something the worse for late hours. As to Miss Fanny, she had become the victim of an insatiate mania for what she called 'going into society;'and would have gone into it head-foremost fifty times between sunset and sunrise, if so many opportunities had been at her disposal. As to Mr Edward, he, too, had a large acquaintance, and was generally engaged (for the most part, in diceing circles, or others of a kindred nature), during the greater part of every night. For this gentleman, when his fortunes changed, had stood at the great advantage of being already prepared for the highest associates, and having little to learn: so much was he indebted to the happy accidents which had made him acquainted with horse-dealing and billiard-marking.
At breakfast, Mr Frederick Dorrit likewise appeared.