If he had come from Court on these occasions, nay, if he had been the noble Refrigerator come home triumphantly from a foreign court to be presented and promoted on his last tremendous failure, Mrs Plornish could not have handed him with greater elevation about Bleeding Heart Yard. ‘Here’s Father,’ she would say, presenting him to a neighbour. ‘Father will soon be home with us for good, now. Ain’t Father looking well? Father’s a sweeter singer than ever; you’d never have forgotten it, if you’d aheard him just now.’ As to Mr Plornish, he had married these articles of belief in marrying Mr Nandy’s daughter, and only wondered how it was that so gifted an old gentleman had not made a fortune. This he attributed, after much reflection, to his musical genius not having been scientifically developed in his youth. ‘For why,’ argued Mr Plornish, ‘why go a-binding music when you’ve got it in yourself? That’s where it is, I consider.’

Old Nandy had a patron: one patron. He had a patron who in a certain sumptuous way—an apologetic way, as if he constantly took an admiring audience to witness that he really could not help being more free with this old fellow than they might have expected, on account of his simplicity and poverty—was mightily good to him. Old Nandy had been several times to the Marshalsea College, communicating with his son-in-law during his short durance there; and had happily acquired to himself, and had by degrees and in course of time much improved, the patronage of the Father of that national institution.

Mr Dorrit was in the habit of receiving this old man as if the old man held of him in vassalage under some feudal tenure. He made little treats and teas for him, as if he came in with his homage from some outlying district where the tenantry were in a primitive state.

It seemed as if there were moments when he could by no means have sworn but that the old man was an ancient retainer of his, who had been meritoriously faithful. When he mentioned him, he spoke of him casually as his old pensioner. He had a wonderful satisfaction in seeing him, and in commenting on his decayed condition after he was gone. It appeared to him amazing that he could hold up his head at all, poor creature. ‘In the Workhouse, sir, the Union; no privacy, no visitors, no station, no respect, no speciality. Most deplorable!’

It was Old Nandy’s birthday, and they let him out. He said nothing about its being his birthday, or they might have kept him in; for such old men should not be born. He passed along the streets as usual to Bleeding Heart Yard, and had his dinner with his daughter and son-in-law, and gave them Phyllis. He had hardly concluded, when Little Dorrit looked in to see how they all were.

‘Miss Dorrit!’ said Mrs Plornish. ‘Here’s Father! Ain’t he looking nice? And such voice he’s in!’

Little Dorrit gave him her hand, and smilingly said she had not seen him this long time.

‘No, they’re rather hard on poor Father,’ said Mrs Plornish with a lengthening face, ‘and don’t let him have half as much change and fresh air as would benefit him. But he’ll soon be home for good, now. Won’t you, Father?’

‘Yes, my dear, I hope so. In good time, please God.’

Here Mr Plornish delivered himself of an oration which he invariably made, word for word the same, on all such opportunities.

It was couched in the following terms:

‘John Edward Nandy. Sir. While there’s a ounce of wittles or drink of any sort in this present roof, you’re fully welcome to your share on it. While there’s a handful of fire or a mouthful of bed in this present roof, you’re fully welcome to your share on it.

  By PanEris using Melati.

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