Charles Dickens

After a while, Arthur turned away his head again. Young John said, presently afterwards, with the utmost mildness:

'The little round table, sir, that's nigh your elbow, was--you know whose--I needn't mention him--he died a great gentleman. I bought it of an individual that he gave it to, and that lived here after him. But the individual wasn't any ways equal to him. Most individuals would find it hard to come up to his level.'

Arthur drew the little table nearer, rested his arm upon it, and kept it there.

'Perhaps you may not be aware, sir,' said Young John, 'that I intruded upon him when he was over here in London. On the whole he was of opinion that it WAS an intrusion, though he was so good as to ask me to sit down and to inquire after father and all other old friends. Leastways humblest acquaintances. He looked, to me, a good deal changed, and I said so when I came back. I asked him if Miss Amy was well--'

'And she was?'

'I should have thought you would have known without putting the question to such as me,' returned Young John, after appearing to take a large invisible pill. 'Since you do put me the question, I am sorry I can't answer it. But the truth is, he looked upon the inquiry as a liberty, and said, "What was that to me?" It was then I became quite aware I was intruding: of which I had been fearful before. However, he spoke very handsome afterwards; very handsome.'

They were both silent for several minutes: except that Young John remarked, at about the middle of the pause, 'He both spoke and acted very handsome.'

It was again Young John who broke the silence by inquiring:

'If it's not a liberty, how long may it be your intentions, sir, to go without eating and drinking?'

'I have not felt the want of anything yet,' returned Clennam. 'I have no appetite just now.'

'The more reason why you should take some support, sir,' urged Young John. 'If you find yourself going on sitting here for hours and hours partaking of no refreshment because you have no appetite, why then you should and must partake of refreshment without an appetite. I'm going to have tea in my own apartment. If it's not a liberty, please to come and take a cup. Or I can bring a tray here in two minutes.'

Feeling that Young John would impose that trouble on himself if he refused, and also feeling anxious to show that he bore in mind both the elder Mr Chivery's entreaty, and the younger Mr Chivery's apology, Arthur rose and expressed his willingness to take a cup of tea in Mr john's apartment. Young John locked his door for him as they went out, slided the key into his pocket with great dexterity, and led the way to his own residence.

It was at the top of the house nearest to the gateway. It was the room to which Clennam had hurried on the day when the enriched family had left the prison for ever, and where he had lifted her insensible from the floor. He foresaw where they were going as soon as their feet touched the staircase. The room was so far changed that it was papered now, and had been repainted, and was far more comfortably furnished; but he could recall it just as he had seen it in that single glance, when he raised her from the ground and carried her down to the carriage.

Young John looked hard at him, biting his fingers.

'I see you recollect the room, Mr Clennam?' 'I recollect it well, Heaven bless her!'

Oblivious of the tea, Young John continued to bite his fingers and to look at his visitor, as long as his visitor continued to glance about the room. Finally, he made a start at the teapot, gustily rattled a quantity of tea into it from a canister, and set off for the common kitchen to fill it with hot water.

The room was so eloquent to Clennam in the changed circumstances of his return to the miserable Marshalsea; it spoke to him so mournfully of her, and of his loss of her; that it would have gone hard with him to resist it, even though he had not been alone. Alone, he did not try. He had his hand on the insensible wall as tenderly as if it had been herself that he touched, and pronounced her name in a low voice.