At three or four o'clock in the afternoon, English time, the view from this window was very bright and peculiar; and Little Dorrit used to sit and muse here, much as she had been used to while away the time in her balcony at Venice. Seated thus one day, she was softly touched on the shoulder, and Fanny said, 'Well, Amy dear,' and took her seat at her side. Their seat was a part of the window; when there was anything in the way of a procession going on, they used to have bright draperies hung out of the window, and used to kneel or sit on this seat, and look out at it, leaning on the brilliant colour. But there was no procession that day, and Little Dorrit was rather surprised by Fanny's being at home at that hour, as she was generally out on horseback then.
'Well, Amy,' said Fanny, 'what are you thinking of, little one?' 'I was thinking of you, Fanny.'
'No? What a coincidence! I declare here's some one else. You were not thinking of this some one else too; were you, Amy?'
Amy HAD been thinking of this some one else too; for it was Mr Sparkler. She did not say so, however, as she gave him her hand. Mr Sparkler came and sat down on the other side of her, and she felt the fraternal railing come behind her, and apparently stretch on to include Fanny.
'Well, my little sister,' said Fanny with a sigh, 'I suppose you know what this means?'
'She's as beautiful as she's doated on,' stammered Mr Sparkler-- 'and there's no nonsense about her--it's arranged--'
'You needn't explain, Edmund,' said Fanny.
'No, my love,' said Mr Sparkler.
'In short, pet,' proceeded Fanny, 'on the whole, we are engaged. We must tell papa about it either to-night or to-morrow, according to the opportunities. Then it's done, and very little more need be said.'
'My dear Fanny,' said Mr Sparkler, with deference, 'I should like to say a word to Amy.'
'Well, well! Say it for goodness' sake,' returned the young lady.
'I am convinced, my dear Amy,' said Mr Sparkler, 'that if ever there was a girl, next to your highly endowed and beautiful sister, who had no nonsense about her--'
'We know all about that, Edmund,' interposed Miss Fanny. 'Never mind that. Pray go on to something else besides our having no nonsense about us.'
'Yes, my love,' said Mr Sparkler. 'And I assure you, Amy, that nothing can be a greater happiness to myself, myself--next to the happiness of being so highly honoured with the choice of a glorious girl who hasn't an atom of--'
'Pray, Edmund, pray!' interrupted Fanny, with a slight pat of her pretty foot upon the floor.
'My love, you're quite right,' said Mr Sparkler, 'and I know I have a habit of it. What I wished to declare was, that nothing can be a greater happiness to myself, myself-next to the happiness of being united to pre-eminently the most glorious of girls--than to have the happiness of cultivating the affectionate acquaintance of Amy. I may not myself,' said Mr Sparkler manfully, 'be up to the mark on some other subjects at a short notice, and I am aware that if you were to poll Society the general opinion would be that I am not; but on the subject of Amy I am up to the mark!'
Mr Sparkler kissed her, in witness thereof.
'A knife and fork and an apartment,' proceeded Mr Sparkler, growing, in comparison with his oratorical antecedents, quite diffuse, 'will ever be at Amy's disposal. My Governor, I am sure, will always be proud to entertain one whom I so much esteem. And regarding my mother,' said Mr Sparkler, 'who is a remarkably fine woman, with--'
'Edmund, Edmund!' cried Miss Fanny, as before.
'With submission, my soul,' pleaded Mr Sparkler. 'I know I have a habit of it, and I thank you very much, my adorable girl, for taking the trouble to correct it; but my mother is admitted on all sides to be a remarkably fine woman, and she really hasn't any.'
'That may be, or may not be,' returned Fanny, 'but pray don't mention it any more.'
'I will not, my love,' said Mr Sparkler.
'Then, in fact, you have nothing more to say, Edmund; have you?' inquired Fanny.