My best love to dearest Amy, and I will write to her very soon.'
'Shall I convey any message to--ha--anybody else?' asked Mr Dorrit, in an insinuating manner.
'Papa,' said Fanny, before whom Mrs General instantly loomed, 'no, I thank you. You are very kind, Pa, but I must beg to be excused. There is no other message to send, I thank you, dear papa, that it would be at all agreeable to you to take.'
They parted in an outer drawing-room, where only Mr Sparkler waited on his lady, and dutifully bided his time for shaking hands. When Mr Sparkler was admitted to this closing audience, Mr Merdle came creeping in with not much more appearance of arms in his sleeves than if he had been the twin brother of Miss Biffin, and insisted on escorting Mr Dorrit down-stairs. All Mr Dorrit's protestations being in vain, he enjoyed the honour of being accompanied to the hall-door by this distinguished man, who (as Mr Dorrit told him in shaking hands on the step) had really overwhelmed him with attentions and services during this memorable visit. Thus they parted; Mr Dorrit entering his carriage with a swelling breast, not at all sorry that his Courier, who had come to take leave in the lower regions, should have an opportunity of beholding the grandeur of his departure.
The aforesaid grandeur was yet full upon Mr Dorrit when he alighted at his hotel. Helped out by the Courier and some half-dozen of the hotel servants, he was passing through the hall with a serene magnificence, when lo! a sight presented itself that struck him dumb and motionless. John Chivery, in his best clothes, with his tall hat under his arm, his ivory-handled cane genteelly embarrassing his deportment, and a bundle of cigars in his hand!
'Now, young man,' said the porter. 'This is the gentleman. This young man has persisted in waiting, sir, saying you would be glad to see him.'
Mr Dorrit glared on the young man, choked, and said, in the mildest of tones, 'Ah! Young John! It is Young John, I think; is it not?'
'Yes, sir,' returned Young John.
'I--ha--thought it was Young john!' said Mr Dorrit. 'The young man may come up,' turning to the attendants, as he passed on: 'oh yes, he may come up. Let Young John follow. I will speak to him above.'
Young John followed, smiling and much gratified. Mr Dorrit's rooms were reached. Candles were lighted. The attendants withdrew.
'Now, sir,' said Mr Dorrit, turning round upon him and seizing him by the collar when they were safely alone. 'What do you mean by this?'
The amazement and horror depicted in the unfortunate john's face-- for he had rather expected to be embraced next--were of that powerfully expressive nature that Mr Dorrit withdrew his hand and merely glared at him.
'How dare you do this?' said Mr Dorrit. 'How do you presume to come here? How dare you insult me?'
'I insult you, sir?' cried Young John. 'Oh!'
'Yes, sir,' returned Mr Dorrit. 'Insult me. Your coming here is an affront, an impertinence, an audacity. You are not wanted here.
Who sent you here? What--ha--the Devil do you do here?'
'I thought, sir,' said Young John, with as pale and shocked a face as ever had been turned to Mr Dorrit's in his life--even in his College life: 'I thought, sir, you mightn't object to have the goodness to accept a bundle--'
'Damn your bundle, sir!' cried Mr Dorrit, in irrepressible rage. 'I--hum--don't smoke.'
'I humbly beg your pardon, sir. You used to.'
'Tell me that again,' cried Mr Dorrit, quite beside himself, 'and I'll take the poker to you!'
John Chivery backed to the door.
'Stop, sir!' cried Mr Dorrit. 'Stop! Sit down. Confound you,
John Chivery dropped into the chair nearest the door, and Mr Dorrit walked up and down the room; rapidly at first; then, more slowly. Once, he went to the window, and stood there with his forehead against the glass. All of a sudden, he turned and said:
'What else did you come for, Sir?'
'Nothing else in the world, sir. Oh dear me! Only to say, Sir, that I hoped you was well, and only to ask if Miss Amy was Well?'
'What's that to you, sir?' retorted Mr Dorrit.