'Aye, aye, aye! That's a cautious fellow.'
'He is a very cautious fellow indeed,' returned Arthur. 'Quite a specimen of caution.'
They both appeared to derive a larger amount of satisfaction from the cautious character of Mr Pancks, than was quite intelligible, judged by the surface of their conversation.
'And now,' said Daniel, looking at his watch, 'as time and tide wait for no man, my trusty partner, and as I am ready for starting, bag and baggage, at the gate below, let me say a last word. I want you to grant a request of mine.'
'Any request you can make--Except,' Clennam was quick with his exception, for his partner's face was quick in suggesting it, 'except that I will abandon your invention.'
'That's the request, and you know it is,' said Doyce.
'I say, No, then. I say positively, No. Now that I have begun, I will have some definite reason, some responsible statement, something in the nature of a real answer, from those people.'
'You will not,' returned Doyce, shaking his head. 'Take my word for it, you never will.'
'At least, I'll try,' said Clennam. 'It will do me no harm to try.'
'I am not certain of that,' rejoined Doyce, laying his hand persuasively on his shoulder. 'It has done me harm, my friend. It has aged me, tired me, vexed me, disappointed me. It does no man any good to have his patience worn out, and to think himself ill- used. I fancy, even already, that unavailing attendance on delays and evasions has made you something less elastic than you used to be.'
'Private anxieties may have done that for the moment,' said Clennam, 'but not official harrying. Not yet. I am not hurt yet.'
'Then you won't grant my request?'
'Decidedly, No,' said Clennam. 'I should be ashamed if I submitted to be so soon driven out of the field, where a much older and a much more sensitively interested man contended with fortitude so long.'
As there was no moving him, Daniel Doyce returned the grasp of his hand, and, casting a farewell look round the counting-house, went down-stairs with him. Doyce was to go to Southampton to join the small staff of his fellow-travellers; and a coach was at the gate, well furnished and packed, and ready to take him there. The workmen were at the gate to see him off, and were mightily proud of him. 'Good luck to you, Mr Doyce!' said one of the number. 'Wherever you go, they'll find as they've got a man among 'em) a man as knows his tools and as his tools knows, a man as is willing and a man as is able, and if that's not a man, where is a man!' This oration from a gruff volunteer in the back-ground, not previously suspected of any powers in that way, was received with three loud cheers; and the speaker became a distinguished character for ever afterwards. In the midst of the three loud cheers, Daniel gave them all a hearty 'Good Bye, Men!' and the coach disappeared from sight, as if the concussion of the air had blown it out of Bleeding Heart Yard.
Mr Baptist, as a grateful little fellow in a position of trust, was among the workmen, and had done as much towards the cheering as a mere foreigner could. In truth, no men on earth can cheer like Englishmen, who do so rally one another's blood and spirit when they cheer in earnest, that the stir is like the rush of their whole history, with all its standards waving at once, from Saxon Alfred's downwards. Mr Baptist had been in a manner whirled away before the onset, and was taking his breath in quite a scared condition when Clennam beckoned him to follow up-stairs, and return the books and papers to their places.
In the lull consequent on the departure--in that first vacuity which ensues on every separation, foreshadowing the great separation that is always overhanging all mankind--Arthur stood at his desk, looking dreamily out at a gleam of sun. But his liberated attention soon reverted to the theme that was foremost in his thoughts, and began, for the hundredth time, to dwell upon every circumstance that had impressed itself upon his mind on the mysterious night when he had seen the man at his mother's.