Charles Dickens

Rigaud, for his part, arose from his chair, and seated himself on the table with his legs dangling. In this easy attitude, he met Mrs Clennam's set face, with his moustache going up and his nose coming down.

'Madame, I am a gentleman--'

'Of whom,' she interrupted in her steady tones, 'I have heard disparagement, in connection with a French jail and an accusation of murder.'

He kissed his hand to her with his exaggerated gallantry.

'Perfectly. Exactly. Of a lady too! What absurdity! How incredible! I had the honour of making a great success then; I hope to have the honour of making a great success now. I kiss your hands. Madame, I am a gentleman (I was going to observe), who when he says, "I will definitely finish this or that affair at the present sitting," does definitely finish it. I announce to you that we are arrived at our last sitting on our little business. You do me the favour to follow, and to comprehend?'

She kept her eyes fixed upon him with a frown. 'Yes.'

'Further, I am a gentleman to whom mere mercenary trade-bargains are unknown, but to whom money is always acceptable as the means of pursuing his pleasures. You do me the favour to follow, and to comprehend?'

'Scarcely necessary to ask, one would say. Yes.'

'Further, I am a gentleman of the softest and sweetest disposition, but who, if trifled with, becomes enraged. Noble natures under such circumstances become enraged. I possess a noble nature. When the lion is awakened--that is to say, when I enrage--the satisfaction of my animosity is as acceptable to me as money. You always do me the favour to follow, and to comprehend?'

'Yes,' she answered, somewhat louder than before.

'Do not let me derange you; pray be tranquil. I have said we are now arrived at our last sitting. Allow me to recall the two sittings we have held.'

'It is not necessary.'

'Death, madame,' he burst out, 'it's my fancy! Besides, it clears the way. The first sitting was limited. I had the honour of making your acquaintance--of presenting my letter; I am a Knight of Industry, at your service, madame, but my polished manners had won me so much of success, as a master of languages, among your compatriots who are as stiff as their own starch is to one another, but are ready to relax to a foreign gentleman of polished manners-- and of observing one or two little things,' he glanced around the room and smiled, 'about this honourable house, to know which was necessary to assure me, and to convince me that I had the distinguished pleasure of making the acquaintance of the lady I sought. I achieved this. I gave my word of honour to our dear Flintwinch that I would return. I gracefully departed.'

Her face neither acquiesced nor demurred. The same when he paused, and when he spoke, it as yet showed him always the one attentive frown, and the dark revelation before mentioned of her being nerved for the occasion.

'I say, gracefully departed, because it was graceful to retire without alarming a lady. To be morally graceful, not less than physically, is a part of the character of Rigaud Blandois. It was also politic, as leaving you with something overhanging you, to expect me again with a little anxiety on a day not named. But your slave is politic. By Heaven, madame, politic! Let us return. On the day not named, I have again the honour to render myself at your house. I intimate that I have something to sell, which, if not bought, will compromise madame whom I highly esteem. I explain myself generally. I demand--I think it was a thousand pounds. Will you correct me?'

Thus forced to speak, she replied with constraint, 'You demanded as much as a thousand pounds.'

'I demand at present, Two. Such are the evils of delay. But to return once more. We are not accordant; we differ on that occasion. I am playful; playfulness is a part of my amiable character. Playfully, I become as one slain and hidden. For, it may alone be worth half the sum to madame, to be freed from the suspicions that my droll idea awakens.