Shall I tell you how this is? Shall I put a great trust in you?'
'You shall, sir,' said Pancks, 'if you believe me worthy of it.'
'You may!' Mr Pancks's short and sharp rejoinder, confirmed by the sudden outstretching of his coaly hand, was most expressive and convincing. Arthur shook the hand warmly.
He then, softening the nature of his old apprehensions as much as was possible consistently with their being made intelligible and never alluding to his mother by name, but speaking vaguely of a relation of his, confided to Mr Pancks a broad outline of the misgivings he entertained, and of the interview he had witnessed. Mr Pancks listened with such interest that, regardless of the charms of the Eastern pipe, he put it in the grate among the fire- irons, and occupied his hands during the whole recital in so erecting the loops and hooks of hair all over his head, that he looked, when it came to a conclusion, like a journeyman Hamlet in conversation with his father's spirit.
'Brings me back, sir,' was his exclamation then, with a startling touch on Clennam's knee, 'brings me back, sir, to the Investments! I don't say anything of your making yourself poor to repair a wrong you never committed. That's you. A man must be himself. But I say this, fearing you may want money to save your own blood from exposure and disgrace--make as much as you can!'
Arthur shook his head, but looked at him thoughtfully too.
'Be as rich as you can, sir,' Pancks adjured him with a powerful concentration of all his energies on the advice. 'Be as rich as you honestly can. It's your duty. Not for your sake, but for the sake of others. Take time by the forelock. Poor Mr Doyce (who really is growing old) depends upon you. Your relative depends upon you. You don't know what depends upon you.'
'Well, well, well!' returned Arthur. 'Enough for to-night.'
'One word more, Mr Clennam,' retorted Pancks, 'and then enough for to-night. Why should you leave all the gains to the gluttons, knaves, and impostors? Why should you leave all the gains that are to be got to my proprietor and the like of him? Yet you're always doing it. When I say you, I mean such men as you. You know you are. Why, I see it every day of my life. I see nothing else. It's my business to see it. Therefore I say,' urged Pancks, 'Go in and win!'
'But what of Go in and lose?' said Arthur.
'Can't be done, sir,' returned Pancks. 'I have looked into it. Name up everywhere--immense resources--enormous capital--great position--high connection--government influence. Can't be done!'
Gradually, after this closing exposition, Mr Pancks subsided; allowed his hair to droop as much as it ever would droop on the utmost persuasion; reclaimed the pipe from the fire-irons, filled it anew, and smoked it out. They said little more; but were company to one another in silently pursuing the same subjects, and did not part until midnight. On taking his leave, Mr Pancks, when he had shaken hands with Clennam, worked completely round him before he steamed out at the door. This, Arthur received as an assurance that he might implicitly rely on Pancks, if he ever should come to need assistance; either in any of the matters of which they had spoken that night, or any other subject that could in any way affect himself.
At intervals all next day, and even while his attention was fixed on other things, he thought of Mr Pancks's investment of his thousand pounds, and of his having 'looked into it.' He thought of Mr Pancks's being so sanguine in this matter, and of his not being usually of a sanguine character. He thought of the great National Department, and of the delight it would be to him to see Doyce better off. He thought of the darkly threatening place that went by the name of Home in his remembrance, and of the gathering shadows which made it yet more darkly threatening than of old. He observed anew that wherever he went, he saw, or heard, or touched, the celebrated name of Merdle; he found it difficult even to remain at his desk a couple of hours, without having it presented to one of his bodily senses through some agency or other.