Please to leave us. Come back at any other time when you may consider it a duty to bury half an hour wearily here. Good night.'
She held up her muffled fingers that he might touch them with his, according to their usual custom, and he stood over her wheeled chair to touch her face with his lips. He thought, then, that her cheek was more strained than usual, and that it was colder. As he followed the direction of her eyes, in rising again, towards Mr Flintwinch's good friend, Mr Blandois, Mr Blandois snapped his finger and thumb with one loud contemptuous snap.
'I leave your--your business acquaintance in my mother's room, Mr Flintwinch,' said Clennam, 'with a great deal of surprise and a great deal of unwillingness.'
The person referred to snapped his finger and thumb again.
'Good night, mother.'
'I had a friend once, my good comrade Flintwinch,' said Blandois, standing astride before the fire, and so evidently saying it to arrest Clennam's retreating steps, that he lingered near the door; 'I had a friend once, who had heard so much of the dark side of this city and its ways, that he wouldn't have confided himself alone by night with two people who had an interest in getting him under the ground--my faith! not even in a respectable house like this--unless he was bodily too strong for them. Bah! What a poltroon, my Flintwinch! Eh?'
'A cur, sir.'
'Agreed! A cur. But he wouldn't have done it, my Flintwinch, unless he had known them to have the will to silence him, without the power. He wouldn't have drunk from a glass of water under such circumstances--not even in a respectable house like this, my Flintwinch--unless he had seen one of them drink first, and swallow too!'
Disdaining to speak, and indeed not very well able, for he was half-choking, Clennam only glanced at the visitor as he passed out.
The visitor saluted him with another parting snap, and his nose came down over his moustache and his moustache went up under his nose, in an ominous and ugly smile.
'For Heaven's sake, Affery,' whispered Clennam, as she opened the door for him in the dark hall, and he groped his way to the sight of the night-sky, 'what is going on here?'
Her own appearance was sufficiently ghastly, standing in the dark with her apron thrown over her head, and speaking behind it in a low, deadened voice.
'Don't ask me anything, Arthur. I've been in a dream for ever so long. Go away!'
He went out, and she shut the door upon him. He looked up at the windows of his mother's room, and the dim light, deadened by the yellow blinds, seemed to say a response after Affery, and to mutter, 'Don't ask me anything. Go away!'
A Letter from Little Dorrit
Dear Mr Clennam,
As I said in my last that it was best for nobody to write to me, and as my sending you another little letter can therefore give you no other trouble than the trouble of reading it (perhaps you may not find leisure for even that, though I hope you will some day), I am now going to devote an hour to writing to you again. This time, I write from Rome.
We left Venice before Mr and Mrs Gowan did, but they were not so long upon the road as we were, and did not travel by the same way, and so when we arrived we found them in a lodging here, in a place called the Via Gregoriana. I dare say you know it.
Now I am going to tell you all I can about them, because I know that is what you most want to hear. Theirs is not a very comfortable lodging, but perhaps I thought it less so when I first saw it than you would have done, because you have been in many different countries and have seen many different customs. Of course it is a far, far better place--millions of times--than any I have ever been used to until lately; and I fancy I don't look at it with my own eyes, but with hers. For it would be easy to see that she has always been brought up in a tender and happy home, even if she had not told me so with great love for it.
Well, it is a rather bare lodging up a rather dark common staircase, and it is nearly all a large dull room, where Mr Gowan paints.