But you know we always make an allowance for friction, and so I have reserved space to close in. My dear Clennam, I thoroughly confide in you; you have it in your power to be quite as useful to me as I have, or have had, it in my power to be useful to you; your old place awaits you, and wants you very much; there is nothing to detain you here one half-hour longer.'
There was silence, which was not broken until Arthur had stood for some time at the window with his back towards them, and until his little wife that was to be had gone to him and stayed by him.
'I made a remark a little while ago,' said Daniel Doyce then, 'which I am inclined to think was an incorrect one. I said there was nothing to detain you here, Clennam, half an hour longer. Am I mistaken in supposing that you would rather not leave here till to-morrow morning? Do I know, without being very wise, where you would like to go, direct from these walls and from this room?'
'You do,' returned Arthur. 'It has been our cherished purpose.'
'Very well!' said Doyce. 'Then, if this young lady will do me the honour of regarding me for four-and-twenty hours in the light of a father, and will take a ride with me now towards Saint Paul's Churchyard, I dare say I know what we want to get there.'
Little Dorrit and he went out together soon afterwards, and Mr Meagles lingered behind to say a word to his friend.
'I think, Arthur, you will not want Mother and me in the morning and we will keep away. It might set Mother thinking about Pet; she's a soft-hearted woman. She's best at the Cottage, and I'll stay there and keep her company.'
With that they parted for the time. And the day ended, and the night ended, and the morning came, and Little Dorrit, simply dressed as usual and having no one with her but Maggy, came into the prison with the sunshine. The poor room was a happy room that morning. Where in the world was there a room so full of quiet joy!
'My dear love,' said Arthur. 'Why does Maggy light the fire? We shall be gone directly.'
'I asked her to do it. I have taken such an odd fancy. I want you to burn something for me.'
'Only this folded paper. If you will put it in the fire with your own hand, just as it is, my fancy will be gratified.'
'Superstitious, darling Little Dorrit? Is it a charm?'
'It is anything you like best, my own,' she answered, laughing with glistening eyes and standing on tiptoe to kiss him, 'if you will only humour me when the fire burns up.'
So they stood before the fire, waiting: Clennam with his arm about her waist, and the fire shining, as fire in that same place had often shone, in Little Dorrit's eyes. 'Is it bright enough now?' said Arthur. 'Quite bright enough now,' said Little Dorrit. 'Does the charm want any words to be said?' asked Arthur, as he held the paper over the flame. 'You can say (if you don't mind) "I love you!' answered Little Dorrit. So he said it, and the paper burned away.
They passed very quietly along the yard; for no one was there, though many heads were stealthily peeping from the windows.
Only one face, familiar of old, was in the Lodge. When they had both accosted it, and spoken many kind words, Little Dorrit turned back one last time with her hand stretched out, saying, 'Good-bye, good John! I hope you will live very happy, dear!'
Then they went up the steps of the neighbouring Saint George's Church, and went up to the altar, where Daniel Doyce was waiting in his paternal character. And there was Little Dorrit's old friend who had given her the Burial Register for a pillow; full of admiration that she should come back to them to be married, after all.
And they were married with the sun shining on them through the painted figure of Our Saviour on the window. And they went into the very room where Little Dorrit had slumbered after her party, to sign the Marriage Register. And there, Mr Pancks, (destined to be chief clerk to Doyce and Clennam, and afterwards partner in the house), sinking the Incendiary in the peaceful friend, looked in at the door to see it done, with Flora gallantly supported on one arm and Maggy on the other, and a back-ground of John Chivery and father and other turnkeys who had run round for the moment, deserting the parent Marshalsea for its happy child.