Hearing that I was your professional adviser, he declined to interpose before my very limited function was performed. Happily,' said Mr Rugg, with sarcasm, 'I did not so far travel out of the record as to ask the gentleman for his name.'
'I suppose I have no resource but to see him,' sighed Clennam, wearily.
'Then it IS your good pleasure, sir?' retorted Rugg. 'Am I honoured by your instructions to mention as much to the gentleman, as I pass out? I am? Thank you, sir. I take my leave.' His leave he took accordingly, in dudgeon.
The gentleman of military exterior had so imperfectly awakened Clennam's curiosity, in the existing state of his mind, that a half-forgetfulness of such a visitor's having been referred to, was already creeping over it as a part of the sombre veil which almost always dimmed it now, when a heavy footstep on the stairs aroused him. It appeared to ascend them, not very promptly or spontaneously, yet with a display of stride and clatter meant to be insulting. As it paused for a moment on the landing outside his door, he could not recall his association with the peculiarity of its sound, though he thought he had one. Only a moment was given him for consideration. His door was immediately swung open by a thump, and in the doorway stood the missing Blandois, the cause of many anxieties.
'Salve, fellow jail-bird !' said he. 'You want me, it seems. Here I am!'
Before Arthur could speak to him in his indignant wonder, Cavalletto followed him into the room. Mr Pancks followed Cavalletto. Neither of the two had been there since its present occupant had had possession of it. Mr Pancks, breathing hard, sidled near the window, put his hat on the ground, stirred his hair up with both hands, and folded his arms, like a man who had come to a pause in a hard day's work. Mr Baptist, never taking his eyes from his dreaded chum of old, softly sat down on the floor with his back against the door and one of his ankles in each hand: resuming the attitude (except that it was now expressive of unwinking watchfulness) in which he had sat before the same man in the deeper shade of another prison, one hot morning at Marseilles. 'I have it on the witnessing of these two madmen,' said Monsieur Blandois, otherwise Lagnier, otherwise Rigaud, 'that you want me, brother-bird. Here I am!' Glancing round contemptuously at the bedstead, which was turned up by day, he leaned his back against it as a resting-place, without removing his hat from his head, and stood defiantly lounging with his hands in his pockets.
'You villain of ill-omen!' said Arthur. 'You have purposely cast a dreadful suspicion upon my mother's house. Why have you done it?
What prompted you to the devilish invention?'
Monsieur Rigaud, after frowning at him for a moment, laughed. 'Hear this noble gentleman! Listen, all the world, to this creature of Virtue! But take care, take care. It is possible, my friend, that your ardour is a little compromising. Holy Blue! It is possible.'
'Signore!' interposed Cavalletto, also addressing Arthur: 'for to commence, hear me! I received your instructions to find him, Rigaud; is it not?'
'It is the truth.'
'I go, consequentementally,'--it would have given Mrs Plornish great concern if she could have been persuaded that his occasional lengthening of an adverb in this way, was the chief fault of his English,--'first among my countrymen. I ask them what news in Londra, of foreigners arrived. Then I go among the French. Then I go among the Germans. They all tell me. The great part of us know well the other, and they all tell me. But!--no person can tell me nothing of him, Rigaud. Fifteen times,' said Cavalletto, thrice throwing out his left hand with all its fingers spread, and doing it so rapidly that the sense of sight could hardly follow the action, 'I ask of him in every place where go the foreigners; and fifteen times,' repeating the same swift performance, 'they know nothing. But!--' At this significant Italian rest on the word 'But,' his backhanded shake of his right forefinger came into play; a very little, and very cautiously.