Hush! said Clennam, smiling and touching her lips with his hand. Forgetfulness in you who remember so many and so much, would be new indeed. Shall I remind you that I am not, and that I never was, anything but the friend whom you agreed to trust? No. You remember it, dont you?
I try to do so, or I should have broken the promise just now, when my mistaken brother was here. You will consider his bringing-up in this place, and will not judge him hardly, poor fellow, I know! In raising her eyes with these words, she observed his face more nearly than she had done yet, and said, with a quick change of tone, You have not been ill, Mr Clennam?
Nor tried? Nor hurt? she asked him, anxiously.
It fell to Clennam now, to be not quite certain how to answer. He said in reply:
To speak the truth, I have been a little troubled, but it is over.
Do I show it so plainly? I ought to have more fortitude and self- command than that. I thought I had. I must learn them of you. Who could teach me better!
He never thought that she saw in him what no one else could see. He never thought that in the whole world there were no other eyes that looked upon him with the same light and strength as hers.
But it brings me to something that I wish to say, he continued, and therefore I will not quarrel even with my own face for telling tales and being unfaithful to me. Besides, it is a privilege and pleasure to confide in my Little Dorrit. Let me confess then, that, forgetting how grave I was, and how old I was, and how the time for such things had gone by me with the many years of sameness and little happiness that made up my long life far away, without marking itthat, forgetting all this, I fancied I loved some one.
Do I know her, sir? asked Little Dorrit.
No, my child.
Not the lady who has been kind to me for your sake?
Flora. No, no. Do you think
I never quite thought so, said Little Dorrit, more to herself than him. I did wonder at it a little.
Well! said Clennam, abiding by the feeling that had fallen on him in the avenue on the night of the roses, the feeling that he was an older man, who had done with that tender part of life, I found out my mistake, and I thought about it a littlein short, a good dealand got wiser. Being wiser, I counted up my years and considered what I am, and looked back, and looked forward, and found that I should soon be grey. I found that I had climbed the hill, and passed the level ground upon the top, and was descending quickly.
If he had known the sharpness of the pain he caused the patient heart, in speaking thus! While doing it, too, with the purpose of easing and serving her.
I found that the day when any such thing would have been graceful in me, or good in me, or hopeful or happy for me or any one in connection with me, was gone, and would never shine again.
O! If he had known, if he had known! If he could have seen the dagger in his hand, and the cruel wounds it struck in the faithful bleeding breast of his Little Dorrit!
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