Getting on

The newly married pair, on their arrival in Harley Street, Cavendish Square, London, were received by the Chief Butler. That great man was not interested in them, but on the whole endured them. People must continue to be married and given in marriage, or Chief Butlers would not be wanted. As nations are made to be taxed, so families are made to be butlered. The Chief Butler, no doubt, reflected that the course of nature required the wealthy population to be kept up, on his account.

He therefore condescended to look at the carriage from the Hall-door without frowning at it, and said, in a very handsome way, to one of his men, ‘Thomas, help with the luggage.’ He even escorted the Bride up-stairs into Mr Merdle’s presence; but this must be considered as an act of homage to the sex (of which he was an admirer, being notoriously captivated by the charms of a certain Duchess), and not as a committal of himself with the family.

Mr Merdle was slinking about the hearthrug, waiting to welcome Mrs Sparkler. His hand seemed to retreat up his sleeve as he advanced to do so, and he gave her such a superfluity of coat-cuff that it was like being received by the popular conception of Guy Fawkes. When he put his lips to hers, besides, he took himself into custody by the wrists, and backed himself among the ottomans and chairs and tables as if he were his own Police officer, saying to himself, ‘Now, none of that! Come! I’ve got you, you know, and you go quietly along with me!’

Mrs Sparkler, installed in the rooms of state—the innermost sanctuary of down, silk, chintz, and fine linen—felt that so far her triumph was good, and her way made, step by step. On the day before her marriage, she had bestowed on Mrs Merdle’s maid with an air of gracious indifference, in Mrs Merdle’s presence, a trifling little keepsake (bracelet, bonnet, and two dresses, all new) about four times as valuable as the present formerly made by Mrs Merdle to her. She was now established in Mrs Merdle’s own rooms, to which some extra touches had been given to render them more worthy of her occupation. In her mind’s eye, as she lounged there, surrounded by every luxurious accessory that wealth could obtain or invention devise, she saw the fair bosom that beat in unison with the exultation of her thoughts, competing with the bosom that had been famous so long, outshining it, and deposing it. Happy? Fanny must have been happy. No more wishing one’s self dead now.

The Courier had not approved of Mr Dorrit’s staying in the house of a friend, and had preferred to take him to an hotel in Brook Street, Grosvenor Square. Mr Merdle ordered his carriage to be ready early in the morning that he might wait upon Mr Dorrit immediately after breakfast. Bright the carriage looked, sleek the horses looked, gleaming the harness looked, luscious and lasting the liveries looked. A rich, responsible turn-out. An equipage for a Merdle. Early people looked after it as it rattled along the streets, and said, with awe in their breath, ‘There he goes!’

There he went, until Brook Street stopped him. Then, forth from its magnificent case came the jewel; not lustrous in itself, but quite the contrary.

Commotion in the office of the hotel. Merdle! The landlord, though a gentleman of a haughty spirit who had just driven a pair of thorough-bred horses into town, turned out to show him up- stairs. The clerks and servants cut him off by back-passages, and were found accidentally hovering in doorways and angles, that they might look upon him. Merdle! O ye sun, moon, and stars, the great man! The rich man, who had in a manner revised the New Testament, and already entered into the kingdom of Heaven. The man who could have any one he chose to dine with him, and who had made the money!

As he went up the stairs, people were already posted on the lower stairs, that his shadow might fall upon them when he came down. So were the sick brought out and laid in the track of the Apostle—who had not got into the good society, and had not made the money.

Mr Dorrit, dressing-gowned and newspapered, was at his breakfast. The Courier, with agitation in his voice, announced ‘Miss Mairdale!’ Mr Dorrit’s overwrought heart bounded as he leaped up.

  By PanEris using Melati.

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