'Haha!' boasted Rigaud. 'Once a gentleman, and always a gentleman.
A gentleman from the beginning, and a gentleman to the end. What the Devil! A gentleman must be waited on, I hope? It's a part of my character to be waited on!'
He half filled the tumbler as he said it, and drank off the contents when he had done saying it.
'Hah!' smacking his lips. 'Not a very old prisoner that! I judge by your looks, brave sir, that imprisonment will subdue your blood much sooner than it softens this hot wine. You are mellowing-- losing body and colour already. I salute you!'
He tossed off another half glass: holding it up both before and afterwards, so as to display his small, white hand.
'To business,' he then continued. 'To conversation. You have shown yourself more free of speech than body, sir.'
'I have used the freedom of telling you what you know yourself to be. You know yourself, as we all know you, to be far worse than that.'
'Add, always a gentleman, and it's no matter. Except in that regard, we are all alike. For example: you couldn't for your life be a gentleman; I couldn't for my life be otherwise. How great the difference! Let us go on. Words, sir, never influence the course of the cards, or the course of the dice. Do you know that? You do? I also play a game, and words are without power over it.'
Now that he was confronted with Cavalletto, and knew that his story was known--whatever thin disguise he had worn, he dropped; and faced it out, with a bare face, as the infamous wretch he was.
'No, my son,' he resumed, with a snap of his fingers. 'I play my game to the end in spite of words; and Death of my Body and Death of my Soul! I'll win it. You want to know why I played this little trick that you have interrupted? Know then that I had, and that I have--do you understand me? have--a commodity to sell to my lady your respectable mother. I described my precious commodity, and fixed my price. Touching the bargain, your admirable mother was a little too calm, too stolid, too immovable and statue-like. In fine, your admirable mother vexed me. To make variety in my position, and to amuse myself--what! a gentleman must be amused at somebody's expense!--I conceived the happy idea of disappearing. An idea, see you, that your characteristic mother and my Flintwinch would have been well enough pleased to execute. Ah! Bah, bah, bah, don't look as from high to low at me! I repeat it. Well enough pleased, excessively enchanted, and with all their hearts ravished. How strongly will you have it?'
He threw out the lees of his glass on the ground, so that they nearly spattered Cavalletto. This seemed to draw his attention to him anew. He set down his glass and said:
'I'll not fill it. What! I am born to be served. Come then, you Cavalletto, and fill!'
The little man looked at Clennam, whose eyes were occupied with Rigaud, and, seeing no prohibition, got up from the ground, and poured out from the bottle into the glass. The blending, as he did so, of his old submission with a sense of something humorous; the striving of that with a certain smouldering ferocity, which might have flashed fire in an instant (as the born gentleman seemed to think, for he had a wary eye upon him); and the easy yielding of all to a good-natured, careless, predominant propensity to sit down on the ground again: formed a very remarkable combination of character.
'This happy idea, brave sir,' Rigaud resumed after drinking, 'was a happy idea for several reasons. It amused me, it worried your dear mama and my Flintwinch, it caused you agonies (my terms for a lesson in politeness towards a gentleman), and it suggested to all the amiable persons interested that your entirely devoted is a man to fear. By Heaven, he is a man to fear! Beyond this; it might have restored her wit to my lady your mother--might, under the pressing little suspicion your wisdom has recognised, have persuaded her at last to announce, covertly, in the journals, that the difficulties of a certain contract would be removed by the appearance of a certain important party to it.