They'll take you soon enough, Mr Clennam, I don't doubt; but, hear reason. It almost always happens, in these cases, that some insignificant matter pushes itself in front and makes much of itself. Now, I find there's a little one out--a mere Palace Court jurisdiction--and I have reason to believe that a caption may be made upon that. I wouldn't be taken upon that.'
'Why not?' asked Clennam.
'I'd be taken on a full-grown one, sir,' said Mr Rugg. 'It's as well to keep up appearances. As your professional adviser, I should prefer your being taken on a writ from one of the Superior Courts, if you have no objection to do me that favour. It looks better.'
'Mr Rugg,' said Arthur, in his dejection, 'my only wish is, that it should be over. I will go on, and take my chance.'
'Another word of reason, sir!' cried Mr Rugg. 'Now, this is reason. The other may be taste; but this is reason. If you should be taken on a little one, sir, you would go to the Marshalsea. Now, you know what the Marshalsea is. Very close. Excessively confined. Whereas in the King's Bench--' Mr Rugg waved his right hand freely, as expressing abundance of space. 'I would rather,' said Clennam, 'be taken to the Marshalsea than to any other prison.'
'Do you say so indeed, sir?' returned Mr Rugg. 'Then this is taste, too, and we may be walking.'
He was a little offended at first, but he soon overlooked it. They walked through the Yard to the other end. The Bleeding Hearts were more interested in Arthur since his reverses than formerly; now regarding him as one who was true to the place and had taken up his freedom. Many of them came out to look after him, and to observe to one another, with great unctuousness, that he was 'pulled down by it.' Mrs Plornish and her father stood at the top of the steps at their own end, much depressed and shaking their heads.
There was nobody visibly in waiting when Arthur and Mr Rugg arrived at the Counting-house. But an elderly member of the Jewish persuasion, preserved in rum, followed them close, and looked in at the glass before Mr Rugg had opened one of the day's letters.
'Oh!' said Mr Rugg, looking up. 'How do you do? Step in--Mr Clennam, I think this is the gentleman I was mentioning.'
This gentleman explained the object of his visit to be 'a tyfling madder ob bithznithz,' and executed his legal function.
'Shall I accompany you, Mr Clennam?' asked Mr Rugg politely, rubbing his hands.
'I would rather go alone, thank you. Be so good as send me my clothes.' Mr Rugg in a light airy way replied in the affirmative, and shook hands with him. He and his attendant then went down- stairs, got into the first conveyance they found, and drove to the old gates.
'Where I little thought, Heaven forgive me,' said Clennam to himself, 'that I should ever enter thus!'
Mr Chivery was on the Lock, and Young John was in the Lodge: either newly released from it, or waiting to take his own spell of duty. Both were more astonished on seeing who the prisoner was, than one might have thought turnkeys would have been. The elder Mr Chivery shook hands with him in a shame-faced kind of way, and said, 'I don't call to mind, sir, as I was ever less glad to see you.' The younger Mr Chivery, more distant, did not shake hands with him at all; he stood looking at him in a state of indecision so observable that it even came within the observation of Clennam with his heavy eyes and heavy heart. Presently afterwards, Young John disappeared into the jail.
As Clennam knew enough of the place to know that he was required to remain in the Lodge a certain time, he took a seat in a corner, and feigned to be occupied with the perusal of letters from his pocket.
They did not so engross his attention, but that he saw, with gratitude, how the elder Mr Chivery kept the Lodge clear of prisoners; how he signed to some, with his keys, not to come in, how he nudged others with his elbows to go out, and how he made his misery as easy to him as he could.
Arthur was sitting with his eyes fixed on the floor, recalling the past, brooding over the present, and not attending to either, when he felt himself touched upon the shoulder.