CHAPTER XXI--A RECOGNITION
Nothing occurred in the night to flutter the tired dove; and the dove arose refreshed. With Mr. Grewgious, when the clock struck ten in the morning, came Mr. Crisparkle, who had come at one plunge out of the river at Cloisterham.
'Miss Twinkleton was so uneasy, Miss Rosa,' he explained to her, 'and came round to Ma and me with your note, in such a state of wonder, that, to quiet her, I volunteered on this service by the very first train to be caught in the morning. I wished at the time that you had come to me; but now I think it best that you did AS you did, and came to your guardian.'
'I did think of you,' Rosa told him; 'but Minor Canon Corner was so near him--'
'I understand. It was quite natural.'
'I have told Mr. Crisparkle,' said Mr. Grewgious, 'all that you told me last night, my dear. Of course I should have written it to him immediately; but his coming was most opportune. And it was particularly kind of him to come, for he had but just gone.'
'Have you settled,' asked Rosa, appealing to them both, 'what is to be done for Helena and her brother?'
'Why really,' said Mr. Crisparkle, 'I am in great perplexity. If even Mr. Grewgious, whose head is much longer than mine, and who is a whole night's cogitation in advance of me, is undecided, what must I be!'
The Unlimited here put her head in at the door--after having rapped, and been authorised to present herself--announcing that a gentleman wished for a word with another gentleman named Crisparkle, if any such gentleman were there. If no such gentleman were there, he begged pardon for being mistaken.
'Such a gentleman is here,' said Mr. Crisparkle, 'but is engaged just now.'
'Is it a dark gentleman?' interposed Rosa, retreating on her guardian.
'No, Miss, more of a brown gentleman.'
'You are sure not with black hair?' asked Rosa, taking courage.
'Quite sure of that, Miss. Brown hair and blue eyes.'
'Perhaps,' hinted Mr. Grewgious, with habitual caution, 'it might be well to see him, reverend sir, if you don't object. When one is in a difficulty or at a loss, one never knows in what direction a way out may chance to open. It is a business principle of mine, in such a case, not to close up any direction, but to keep an eye on every direction that may present itself. I could relate an anecdote in point, but that it would be premature.'
'If Miss Rosa will allow me, then? Let the gentleman come in,' said Mr. Crisparkle.
The gentleman came in; apologised, with a frank but modest grace, for not finding Mr. Crisparkle alone; turned to Mr. Crisparkle, and smilingly asked the unexpected question: 'Who am I?'
'You are the gentleman I saw smoking under the trees in Staple Inn, a few minutes ago.'
'True. There I saw you. Who else am I?'
Mr. Crisparkle concentrated his attention on a handsome face, much sunburnt; and the ghost of some departed boy seemed to rise, gradually and dimly, in the room.
The gentleman saw a struggling recollection lighten up the Minor Canon's features, and smiling again, said: 'What will you have for breakfast this morning? You are out of jam.'
'Wait a moment!' cried Mr. Crisparkle, raising his right hand. 'Give me another instant! Tartar!'
The two shook hands with the greatest heartiness, and then went the wonderful length--for Englishmen--of laying their hands each on the other's shoulders, and looking joyfully each into the other's face.
'My old fag!' said Mr. Crisparkle.
'My old master!' said Mr. Tartar.
'You saved me from drowning!' said Mr. Crisparkle.
'After which you took to swimming, you know!' said Mr. Tartar.
'God bless my soul!' said Mr. Crisparkle.
'Amen!' said Mr. Tartar.
And then they fell to shaking hands most heartily again.
'Imagine,' exclaimed Mr. Crisparkle, with glistening eyes: 'Miss Rosa Bud and Mr. Grewgious, imagine Mr. Tartar, when he was the smallest of juniors, diving for me, catching me, a big heavy senior, by the hair of the head, and striking out for the shore with me like a water-giant!'
'Imagine my not letting him sink, as I was his fag!' said Mr. Tartar.