‘You see,’ said the young man,’the Marshal’s family living in the country at present, the Marshal has given Miss Dorrit one of the rooms in his house to use when she likes. Don’t you think you had better come up there, and let me bring Miss Dorrit?’

She signified her assent, and he unlocked a door and conducted her up a side staircase into a dwelling- house above. He showed her into a darkening room, and left her. The room looked down into the darkening prison-yard, with its inmates strolling here and there, leaning out of windows communing as much apart as they could with friends who were going away, and generally wearing out their imprisonment as they best might that summer evening. The air was heavy and hot; the closeness of the place, oppressive; and from without there arose a rush of free sounds, like the jarring memory of such things in a headache and heartache. She stood at the window, bewildered, looking down into this prison as it were out of her own different prison, when a soft word or two of surprise made her start, and Little Dorrit stood before her.

‘Is it possible, Mrs Clennam, that you are so happily recovered as—’

Little Dorrit stopped, for there was neither happiness nor health in the face that turned to her. ‘This is not recovery; it is not strength; I don’t know what it is.’ With an agitated wave of her hand, she put all that aside. ‘You have a packet left with you which you were to give to Arthur, if it was not reclaimed before this place closed to-night.’


‘I reclaim it.’

Little Dorrit took it from her bosom, and gave it into her hand, which remained stretched out after receiving it.

‘Have you any idea of its contents?’

Frightened by her being there with that new power Of Movement in her, which, as she said herself, was not strength, and which was unreal to look upon, as though a picture or statue had been animated, Little Dorrit answered ‘No.’

‘Read them.’

Little Dorrit took the packet from the still outstretched hand, and broke the seal. Mrs Clennam then gave her the inner packet that was addressed to herself, and held the other. The shadow of the wall and of the prison buildings, which made the room sombre at noon, made it too dark to read there, with the dusk deepening apace, save in the window. In the window, where a little of the bright summer evening sky could shine upon her, Little Dorrit stood, and read. After a broken exclamation or so of wonder and of terror, she read in silence. When she had finished, she looked round, and her old mistress bowed herself before her.

‘You know, now, what I have done.’

‘I think so. I am afraid so; though my mind is so hurried, and so sorry, and has so much to pity that it has not been able to follow all I have read,’ said Little Dorrit tremulously.

‘I will restore to you what I have withheld from you. Forgive me. Can you forgive me?’

‘I can, and Heaven knows I do! Do not kiss my dress and kneel to me; you are too old to kneel to me; I forgive you freely without that.’

‘I have more yet to ask.’

  By PanEris using Melati.

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