Little Dorrit's Party
Arthur Clennam rose hastily, and saw her standing at the door. This history must
sometimes see with Little Dorrit's eyes, and shall begin that course by seeing
Little Dorrit looked into a dim room, which seemed a spacious one to her, and
grandly furnished. Courtly ideas of Covent Garden, as a place with famous
coffee-houses, where gentlemen wearing gold- laced coats and swords had
quarrelled and fought duels; costly ideas of Covent Garden, as a place where
there were flowers in winter at guineas a-piece, pine-apples at guineas a pound,
and peas at guineas a pint; picturesque ideas of Covent Garden, as a place
where there was a mighty theatre, showing wonderful and beautiful sights to
richly-dressed ladies and gentlemen, and which was for ever far beyond the
reach of poor Fanny or poor uncle; desolate ideas of Covent Garden, as having
all those arches in it, where the miserable children in rags among whom she had
just now passed, like young rats, slunk and hid, fed on offal, huddled together for
warmth, and were hunted about (look to the rats young and old, all ye Barnacles,
for before God they are eating away our foundations, and will bring the roofs on
our heads!); teeming ideas of Covent Garden, as a place of past and present
mystery, romance, abundance, want, beauty, ugliness, fair country gardens, and
foul street gutters; all confused together,--made the room dimmer than it was in
Little Dorrit's eyes, as they timidly saw it from the door.
At first in the chair before the gone-out fire, and then turned round wondering to
see her, was the gentleman whom she sought. The brown, grave gentleman,
who smiled so pleasantly, who was so frank and considerate in his manner, and
yet in whose earnestness there was something that reminded her of his mother,
with the great difference that she was earnest in asperity and he in gentleness.
Now he regarded her with that attentive and inquiring look before which Little
Dorrit's eyes had always fallen, and before which they fell still.
'My poor child! Here at midnight?'
'I said Little Dorrit, sir, on purpose to prepare you. I knew you must be very much
'Are you alone?'
'No sir, I have got Maggy with me.'
Considering her entrance sufficiently prepared for by this mention of her name,
Maggy appeared from the landing outside, on the broad grin. She instantly
suppressed that manifestation, however, and became fixedly solemn.
'And I have no fire,' said Clennam. 'And you are--' He was going to say so lightly
clad, but stopped himself in what would have been a reference to her poverty,
saying instead, 'And it is so cold.'
Putting the chair from which he had risen nearer to the grate, he made her sit
down in it; and hurriedly bringing wood and coal, heaped them together and got a
'Your foot is like marble, my child;' he had happened to touch it, while stooping
on one knee at his work of kindling the fire; 'put it nearer the warmth.' Little Dorrit