The term of Mr Dorrits visit was within two days of being out, and he was about to dress for another inspection by the Chief Butler (whose victims were always dressed expressly for him), when one of the servants of the hotel presented himself bearing a card. Mr Dorrit, taking it, read:
The servant waited in speechless deference.
Man, man, said Mr Dorrit, turning upon him with grievous indignation, explain your motive in bringing me this ridiculous name. I am wholly unacquainted with it. Finching, sir? said Mr Dorrit, perhaps avenging himself on the Chief Butler by Substitute.
ha! What do you mean by Finching?
The man, man, seemed to mean Flinching as much as anything else, for he backed away from Mr Dorrits severe regard, as he replied, A lady, sir.
I know no such lady, sir, said Mr Dorrit. Take this card away. I know no Finching of either sex.
Ask your pardon, sir. The lady said she was aware she might be unknown by name. But she begged me to say, sir, that she had formerly the honour of being acquainted with Miss Dorrit. The lady said, sir, the youngest Miss Dorrit.
Mr Dorrit knitted his brows and rejoined, after a moment or two, Inform Mrs Finching, sir, emphasising the name as if the innocent man were solely responsible for it, that she can come up.
He had reflected, in his momentary pause, that unless she were admitted she might leave some message, or might say something below, having a disgraceful reference to that former state of existence. Hence the concession, and hence the appearance of Flora, piloted in by the man, man.
I have not the pleasure, said Mr Dorrit, standing with the card in his hand, and with an air which imported that it would scarcely have been a first-class pleasure if he had had it, of knowing either this name, or yourself, madam. Place a chair, sir. The responsible man, with a start, obeyed, and went out on tiptoe. Flora, putting aside her veil with a bashful tremor upon her, proceeded to introduce herself. At the same time a singular combination of perfumes was diffused through the room, as if some brandy had been put by mistake in a lavender-water bottle, or as if some lavender-water had been put by mistake in a brandy-bottle.
I beg Mr Dorrit to offer a thousand apologies and indeed they would be far too few for such an intrusion which I know must appear extremely bold in a lady and alone too, but I thought it best upon the whole however difficult and even apparently improper though Mr F.s Aunt would have willingly accompanied me and as a character of great force and spirit would probably have struck one possessed of such a knowledge of life as no doubt with so many changes must have been acquired, for Mr F. himself said frequently that although well educated in the neighbourhood of Blackheath at as high as eighty guineas which is a good deal for parents and the plate kept back too on going away but that is more a meanness than its value that he had learnt more in his first years as a commercial traveller with a large commission on the sale of an article that nobody would hear of much less buy which preceded the wine trade a long time than in the whole six years in that academy conducted by a college Bachelor, though why a Bachelor more clever than a married man I do not see and never did but pray excuse me that is not the point.
Mr Dorrit stood rooted to the carpet, a statue of mystification.
I must openly admit that I have no pretensions, said Flora, but having known the dear little thing which under altered circumstances appears a liberty but is not so intended and Goodness knows there was
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