to conceal his dislike and repugnance. He departed on his errand, however, and immediately returned, ushering in its object.
Your servant, Sir, said the dwarf, I encountered your messenger half-way. I thought youd allow me to pay my compliments to you. I hope youre well. I hope youre very well.
There was a short pause, while the dwarf, with half-shut eyes and puckered face, stood waiting for an answer. Receiving none, he turned towards his more familiar acquaintance.
Christophers mother! he cried. Such a dear lady, such a worthy woman, so blest in her honest son! How is Christophers mother? Have change of air and scene improved her? Her little family too, and Christopher? Do they thrive? Do they flourish? Are they growing into worthy citizens, eh?
Making his voice ascend in the scale with every succeeding question, Mr Quilp finished in a shrill squeak, and subsided into the panting look which was customary with him, and which, whether it were assumed or natural, had equally the effect of banishing all expression from his face, and rendering it, as far as it afforded any index to his mood or meaning, a perfect blank.
Mr Quilp, said the single gentleman.
The dwarf put his hand to his great flapped ear, and counterfeited the closest attention.
We two have met before
Surely, cried Quilp, nodding his head. Oh surely, Sir. Such an honour and pleasure its both, Christophers mother, its both is not to be forgotten so soon. By no means!
You may remember that the day I arrived in London, and found the house to which I drove, empty and deserted, I was directed by some of the neighbours to you, and waited upon you without stopping for rest or refreshment?
How precipitate that was, and yet what an earnest and vigorous measure! said Quilp, conferring with himself, in imitation of his friend Mr Sampson Brass.
I found, said the single gentleman, you, most unaccountably, in possession of everything that had so recently belonged to another man, and that other man, who up to the time of your entering upon his property had been looked upon as affluent, reduced to sudden beggary, and driven from house and home.
We had warrant for what we did, my good Sir, rejoined Quilp, we had our warrant. Dont say driven either. He went of his own accord vanished in the night, Sir.
No matter, said the single gentleman angrily. He was gone.
Yes, he was gone, said Quilp, with the same exasperating composure. No doubt he was gone. The only question was, where. And its a question still.
Now, what am I to think, said the single gentleman, sternly regarding him, of you, who, plainly indisposed to give me any information then nay, obviously holding back, and sheltering yourself with all kinds of cunning, trickery, and evasion, are dogging my footsteps now?
I dogging! cried Quilp.
Why, are you not? returned his questioner, fretted into a state of the utmost irritation. Were you not a few hours since, sixty miles off, and in the chapel to which this good woman goes to say her prayers?
|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.|