'Fetch him!' cried the stranger. 'Fetch my Flintwinch! Tell him that it is his old Blandois, who comes from arriving in England; tell him that it is his little boy who is here, his cabbage, his well-beloved! Open the door, beautiful Mrs Flintwinch, and in the meantime let me to pass upstairs, to present my compliments-- homage of Blandois--to my lady! My lady lives always? It is well.
To Arthur's increased surprise, Mistress Affery, stretching her eyes wide at himself, as if in warning that this was not a gentleman for him to interfere with, drew back the chain, and opened the door. The stranger, without ceremony, walked into the hall, leaving Arthur to follow him.
'Despatch then! Achieve then! Bring my Flintwinch! Announce me to my lady!' cried the stranger, clanking about the stone floor.
'Pray tell me, Affery,' said Arthur aloud and sternly, as he surveyed him from head to foot with indignation; 'who is this gentleman?'
'Pray tell me, Affery,' the stranger repeated in his turn, 'who-- ha, ha, ha!--who is this gentleman?'
The voice of Mrs Clennam opportunely called from her chamber above, 'Affery, let them both come up. Arthur, come straight to me!'
'Arthur?' exclaimed Blandois, taking off his hat at arm's length, and bringing his heels together from a great stride in making him a flourishing bow. 'The son of my lady? I am the all-devoted of the son of my lady!'
Arthur looked at him again in no more flattering manner than before, and, turning on his heel without acknowledgment, went up- stairs. The visitor followed him up-stairs. Mistress Affery took the key from behind the door, and deftly slipped out to fetch her lord.
A bystander, informed of the previous appearance of Monsieur Blandois in that room, would have observed a difference in Mrs Clennam's present reception of him. Her face was not one to betray it; and her suppressed manner, and her set voice, were equally under her control. It wholly consisted in her never taking her eyes off his face from the moment of his entrance, and in her twice or thrice, when he was becoming noisy, swaying herself a very little forward in the chair in which she sat upright, with her hands immovable upon its elbows; as if she gave him the assurance that he should be presently heard at any length he would. Arthur did not fail to observe this; though the difference between the present occasion and the former was not within his power of observation.
'Madame,' said Blandois, 'do me the honour to present me to Monsieur, your son. It appears to me, madame, that Monsieur, your son, is disposed to complain of me. He is not polite.'
'Sir,' said Arthur, striking in expeditiously, 'whoever you are, and however you come to be here, if I were the master of this house I would lose no time in placing you on the outside of it.'
'But you are not,' said his mother, without looking at him. 'Unfortunately for the gratification of your unreasonable temper, you are not the master, Arthur.'
'I make no claim to be, mother. If I object to this person's manner of conducting himself here, and object to it so much, that if I had any authority here I certainly would not suffer him to remain a minute, I object on your account.'
'In the case of objection being necessary,' she returned, 'I could object for myself. And of course I should.'
The subject of their dispute, who had seated himself, laughed aloud, and rapped his legs with his hand.
'You have no right,' said Mrs Clennam, always intent on Blandois, however directly she addressed her son, 'to speak to the prejudice of any gentleman (least of all a gentleman from another country), because he does not conform to your standard, or square his behaviour by your rules. It is possible that the gentleman may, on similar grounds, object to you.'
'I hope so,' returned Arthur.
'The gentleman,' pursued Mrs Clennam, 'on a former occasion brought a letter of recommendation to us from highly esteemed and responsible correspondents. I am perfectly unacquainted with the gentleman's object in coming here at present.