Charles Dickens

If you wish them to remain here during our little conversation, say the word. It is nothing to me.'

'Why should I wish them to remain here?' said Mrs Clennam. 'What have I to do with them?'

'Then, dearest madame,' said Rigaud, throwing himself into an arm- chair so heavily that the old room trembled, 'you will do well to dismiss them. It is your affair. They are not my spies, not my rascals.'

'Hark! You Pancks,' said Mrs Clennam, bending her brows upon him angrily, 'you Casby's clerk! Attend to your employer's business and your own. Go. And take that other man with you.' 'Thank you, ma'am,' returned Mr Pancks, 'I am glad to say I see no objection to our both retiring. We have done all we undertook to do for Mr Clennam. His constant anxiety has been (and it grew worse upon him when he became a prisoner), that this agreeable gentleman should be brought back here to the place from which he slipped away. Here he is--brought back. And I will say,' added Mr Pancks, 'to his ill-looking face, that in my opinion the world would be no worse for his slipping out of it altogether.'

'Your opinion is not asked,' answered Mrs Clennam. 'Go.'

'I am sorry not to leave you in better company, ma'am,' said Pancks; 'and sorry, too, that Mr Clennam can't be present. It's my fault, that is.'

'You mean his own,' she returned.

'No, I mean mine, ma'am,' said Pancks,'for it was my misfortune to lead him into a ruinous investment.' (Mr Pancks still clung to that word, and never said speculation.) 'Though I can prove by figures,' added Mr Pancks, with an anxious countenance, 'that it ought to have been a good investment. I have gone over it since it failed, every day of my life, and it comes out--regarded as a question of figures--triumphant. The present is not a time or place,' Mr Pancks pursued, with a longing glance into his hat, where he kept his calculations, 'for entering upon the figures; but the figures are not to be disputed. Mr Clennam ought to have been at this moment in his carriage and pair, and I ought to have been worth from three to five thousand pound.'

Mr Pancks put his hair erect with a general aspect of confidence that could hardly have been surpassed, if he had had the amount in his pocket. These incontrovertible figures had been the occupation of every moment of his leisure since he had lost his money, and were destined to afford him consolation to the end of his days.

'However,' said Mr Pancks, 'enough of that. Altro, old boy, you have seen the figures, and you know how they come out.' Mr Baptist, who had not the slightest arithmetical power of compensating himself in this way, nodded, with a fine display of bright teeth.

At whom Mr Flintwinch had been looking, and to whom he then said:

'Oh! it's you, is it? I thought I remembered your face, but I wasn't certain till I saw your teeth. Ah! yes, to be sure. It was this officious refugee,' said Jeremiah to Mrs Clennam, 'who came knocking at the door on the night when Arthur and Chatterbox were here, and who asked me a whole Catechism of questions about Mr Blandois.'

'It is true,' Mr Baptist cheerfully admitted. 'And behold him, padrone! I have found him consequentementally.'

'I shouldn't have objected,' returned Mr Flintwinch, 'to your having broken your neck consequentementally.'

'And now,' said Mr Pancks, whose eye had often stealthily wandered to the window-seat and the stocking that was being mended there, 'I've only one other word to say before I go. If Mr Clennam was here--but unfortunately, though he has so far got the better of this fine gentleman as to return him to this place against his will, he is ill and in prison--ill and in prison, poor fellow--if he was here,' said Mr Pancks, taking one step aside towards the window-seat, and laying his right hand upon the stocking; 'he would say, "Affery, tell your dreams!"'

Mr Pancks held up his right forefinger between his nose and the stocking with a ghostly air of warning, turned, steamed out and towed Mr Baptist after him.