Because she freezes them into it? interrupted Fanny. I dont mean that; quite different from that. Come! Has it never struck you, Amy, that Pa is monstrously polite to Mrs General.
Amy, murmuring No, looked quite confounded. No; I dare say not. But he is, said Fanny. He is, Amy. And remember my words. Mrs General has designs on Pa!
Dear Fanny, do you think it possible that Mrs General has designs on any one?
Do I think it possible? retorted Fanny. My love, I know it. I tell you she has designs on Pa. And more than that, I tell you Pa considers her such a wonder, such a paragon of accomplishment, and such an acquisition to our family, that he is ready to get himself into a state of perfect infatuation with her at any moment. And that opens a pretty picture of things, I hope? Think of me with Mrs General for a Mama!
Little Dorrit did not reply, Think of me with Mrs General for a Mama; but she looked anxious, and seriously inquired what had led Fanny to these conclusions.
Lord, my darling, said Fanny, tartly. You might as well ask me how I know when a man is struck with myself! But, of course I do know. It happens pretty often: but I always know it. I know this in much the same way, I suppose. At all events, I know it.
You never heard Papa say anything?
Say anything? repeated Fanny. My dearest, darling child, what necessity has he had, yet awhile, to say anything?
And you have never heard Mrs General say anything? My goodness me, Amy, returned Fanny, is she the sort of woman to say anything? Isnt it perfectly plain and clear that she has nothing to do at present but to hold herself upright, keep her aggravating gloves on, and go sweeping about? Say anything! If she had the ace of trumps in her hand at whist, she wouldnt say anything, child. It would come out when she played it.
At least, you may be mistaken, Fanny. Now, may you not?
O yes, I may be, said Fanny, but I am not. However, I am glad you can contemplate such an escape, my dear, and I am glad that you can take this for the present with sufficient coolness to think of such a chance. It makes me hope that you may be able to bear the connection. I should not be able to bear it, and I should not try.
Id marry young Sparkler first.
O, you would never marry him, Fanny, under any circumstances.
Upon my word, my dear, rejoined that young lady with exceeding indifference, I wouldnt positively answer even for that. Theres no knowing what might happen. Especially as I should have many opportunities, afterwards, of treating that woman, his mother, in her own style. Which I most decidedly should not be slow to avail myself of, Amy.
No more passed between the sisters then; but what had passed gave the two subjects of Mrs General and Mr Sparkler great prominence in Little Dorrits mind, and thenceforth she thought very much of both.
Mrs General, having long ago formed her own surface to such perfection that it hid whatever was below it (if anything), no observation was to be made in that quarter. Mr Dorrit was undeniably very polite to her and had a high opinion of her; but Fanny, impetuous at most times, might easily be wrong for all that.
Whereas, the Sparkler question was on the different footing that any one could see what was going on there, and Little Dorrit saw it and pondered on it with many doubts and wonderings.
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