THE BLAND AND OPEN-HEARTED proprietor of Bachelors Hall slept on amidst the congenial accompaniments of rain, mud, dirt, damp, fog, and rats, until late in the day; when, summoning his valet Tom Scott to assist him to rise, and to prepare breakfast, he quitted his couch, and made his toilet. This duty performed, and his repast ended, he again betook himself to Bevis Marks.
This visit was not intended for Mr Swiveller, but for his friend and employer Mr Sampson Brass. Both gentlemen however were from home, nor was the life and light of law, Miss Sally, at her post either. The fact of their joint desertion of the office was made known to all comers by a scrap of paper in the handwriting of Mr Swiveller, which was attached to the bell-handle, and which, giving the reader no clue to the time of day when it was first posted, furnished him with the rather vague and unsatisfactory information that that gentleman would return in an hour.
Theres a servant, I suppose, said the dwarf, knocking at the house-door. Shell do.
After a sufficiently long interval, the door was opened, and a small voice immediately accosted him with, Oh please will you leave a card or message?
Eh? said the dwarf, looking down (it was something quite new to him) upon the small servant.
To this, the child, conducting her conversation as upon the occasion of her first interview with Mr Swiveller, again replied, Oh please will you leave a card or message?
Ill write a note, said the dwarf, pushing past her into the office; and mind your master has it directly he comes home. So Mr Quilp climbed up to the top of a tall stool to write the note, and the small servant, carefully tutored for such emergencies, looked on with her eyes wide open, ready, if he so much as abstracted a wafer, to rush into the street and give the alarm to the police.
As Mr Quilp folded his note (which was soon written: being a very short one) he encountered the gaze of the small servant. He looked at her long and earnestly.
How are you? said the dwarf, moistening a wafer with horrible grimaces.
The small servant, perhaps frightened by his looks, returned no audible reply; but it appeared from the motion of her lips that she was inwardly repeating the same form of expression concerning the note or message.
Do they use you ill here? is your mistress a Tartar? said Quilp with a chuckle.
In reply to the last interrogation, the small servant, with a look of infinite cunning mingled with fear, screwed up her mouth very tight and round, and nodded violently.
Whether there was anything in the peculiar slyness of her action which fascinated Mr Quilp, or anything in the expression of her features at the moment which attracted his attention for some other reason; or whether it merely occurred to him as a pleasant whim to stare the small servant out of countenance; certain it is, that he planted his elbows square and firmly on the desk, and squeezing up his cheeks with his hands, looked at her fixedly.
Where do you come from? he said after a long pause, stroking his chin.
I dont know.
Whats your name?
Nonsense! retorted Quilp. What does your mistress call you when she wants you?
|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.|