I mean of the foreign man, said Jeremiah.
He looked so grim, as he stood askew, with the knot of his cravat under his ear, that the thought passed into Clennams mind, and not for the first time by many, could Flintwinch for a purpose of his own have got rid of Blandois? Could it have been his secret, and his safety, that were at issue? He was small and bent, and perhaps not actively strong; yet he was as tough as an old yew-tree, and as crusty as an old jackdaw. Such a man, coming behind a much younger and more vigorous man, and having the will to put an end to him and no relenting, might do it pretty surely in that solitary place at a late hour.
While, in the morbid condition of his thoughts, these thoughts drifted over the main one that was always in Clennams mind, Mr Flintwinch, regarding the opposite house over the gateway with his neck twisted and one eye shut up, stood smoking with a vicious expression upon him; more as if he were trying to bite off the stem of his pipe, than as if he were enjoying it. Yet he was enjoying it in his own way.
Youll be able to take my likeness, the next time you call, Arthur, I should think, said Mr Flintwinch, drily, as he stooped to knock the ashes out.
Rather conscious and confused, Arthur asked his pardon, if he had stared at him unpolitely. But my mind runs so much upon this matter, he said, that I lose myself.
Hah! Yet I dont see, returned Mr Flintwinch, quite at his leisure, why it should trouble you, Arthur.
No, said Mr Flintwinch, very shortly and decidedly: much as if he were of the canine race, and snapped at Arthurs hand.
Is it nothing to see those placards about? Is it nothing to me to see my mothers name and residence hawked up and down in such an association?
I dont see, returned Mr Flintwinch, scraping his horny cheek, that it need signify much to you. But Ill tell you what I do see, Arthur, glancing up at the windows; I see the light of fire and candle in your mothers room!
And what has that to do with it?
Why, sir, I read by it, said Mr Flintwinch, screwing himself at him, that if its advisable (as the proverb says it is) to let sleeping dogs lie, its just as advisable, perhaps, to let missing dogs lie. Let em be. They generally turn up soon enough.
Mr Flintwinch turned short round when he had made this remark, and went into the dark hall. Clennam stood there, following him with his eyes, as he dipped for a light in the phosphorus-box in the little room at the side, got one after three or four dips, and lighted the dim lamp against the wall. All the while, Clennam was pursuing the probabilitiesrather as if they were being shown to him by an invisible hand than as if he himself were conjuring them upof Mr Flintwinchs ways and means of doing that darker deed, and removing its traces by any of the black avenues of shadow that lay around them.
Now, sir, said the testy Jeremiah; will it be agreeable to walk up-stairs?
My mother is alone, I suppose?
Not alone, said Mr Flintwinch. Mr Casby and his daughter are with her. They came in while I was smoking, and I stayed behind to have my smoke out.
This was the second disappointment. Arthur made no remark upon it, and repaired to his mothers room, where Mr Casby and Flora had been taking tea, anchovy paste, and hot buttered toast. The relics of
|Copyright: All texts on Bibliomania are © Bibliomania.com Ltd, and may not be reproduced in any form without our written permission. See our FAQ for more details.|