Yes, my child. A slight shade of distress fell upon her, at his so often calling her a child. She was surprised that he should see it, or think of such a slight thing; but he said directly: I wanted a tender word, and could think of no other. As you just now gave yourself the name they give you at my mothers, and as that is the name by which I always think of you, let me call you Little Dorrit.
Thank you, sir, I should like it better than any name.
Little mother, Maggy (who had been falling asleep) put in, as a correction.
Its all the same, Maggy, returned Little Dorrit, all the same.
Is it all the same, mother?
Just the same.
Maggy laughed, and immediately snored. In Little Dorrits eyes and ears, the uncouth figure and the uncouth sound were as pleasant as could be. There was a glow of pride in her big child, overspreading her face, when it again met the eyes of the grave brown gentleman. She wondered what he was thinking of, as he looked at Maggy and her. She thought what a good father he would be. How, with some such look, he would counsel and cherish his daughter.
What I was going to tell you, sir, said Little Dorrit, is, that my brother is at large.
Arthur was rejoiced to hear it, and hoped he would do well.
And what I was going to tell you, sir, said Little Dorrit, trembling in all her little figure and in her voice, is, that I am not to know whose generosity released himam never to ask, and am never to be told, and am never to thank that gentleman with all my grateful heart!
He would probably need no thanks, Clennam said. Very likely he would be thankful himself (and with reason), that he had had the means and chance of doing a little service to her, who well deserved a great one.
And what I was going to say, sir, is, said Little Dorrit, trembling more and more, that if I knew him, and I might, I would tell him that he can never, never know how I feel his goodness, and how my good father would feel it. And what I was going to say, sir, is, that if I knew him, and I mightbut I dont know him and I must notI know that!I would tell him that I shall never any more lie down to sleep without having prayed to Heaven to bless him and reward him. And if I knew him, and I might, I would go down on my knees to him, and take his hand and kiss it and ask him not to draw it away, but to leave itO to leave it for a momentand let my thankful tears fall on it; for I have no other thanks to give him!
Little Dorrit had put his hand to her lips, and would have kneeled to him, but he gently prevented her, and replaced her in her chair.
Her eyes, and the tones of her voice, had thanked him far better than she thought. He was not able to say, quite as composedly as usual, There, Little Dorrit, there, there, there! We will suppose that you did know this person, and that you might do all this, and that it was all done. And now tell me, Who am quite another personwho am nothing more than the friend who begged you to trust himwhy you are out at midnight, and what it is that brings you so far through the streets at this late hour, my slight, delicate, child was on his lips again, Little Dorrit!
Maggy and I have been to-night, she answered, subduing herself with the quiet effort that had long been natural to her, to the theatre where my sister is engaged.
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