Little Dorrit received a call that same evening from Mr Plornish, who, having
intimated that he wished to speak to her privately, in a series of coughs so very
noticeable as to favour the idea that her father, as regarded her seamstress
occupation, was an illustration of the axiom that there are no such stone-blind
men as those who will not see, obtained an audience with her on the common
staircase outside the door.
'There's been a lady at our place to-day, Miss Dorrit,' Plornish growled, 'and
another one along with her as is a old wixen if ever I met with such. The way she
snapped a person's head off, dear me!'
The mild Plornish was at first quite unable to get his mind away from Mr F.'s
Aunt. 'For,' said he, to excuse himself, 'she is, I do assure you, the winegariest
At length, by a great effort, he detached himself from the subject sufficiently to
'But she's neither here nor there just at present. The other lady, she's Mr Casby's
daughter; and if Mr Casby an't well off, none better, it an't through any fault of
Pancks. For, as to Pancks, he does, he really does, he does indeed!'
Mr Plornish, after his usual manner, was a little obscure, but conscientiously
'And what she come to our place for,' he pursued, 'was to leave word that if Miss
Dorrit would step up to that card--which it's Mr Casby's house that is, and Pancks
he has a office at the back, where he really does, beyond belief--she would be
glad for to engage her. She was a old and a dear friend, she said particular, of Mr
Clennam, and hoped for to prove herself a useful friend to his friend. Them was
her words. Wishing to know whether Miss Dorrit could come to-morrow morning,
I said I would see you, Miss, and inquire, and look round there to-night, to say
yes, or, if you was engaged to-morrow, when.'
'I can go to-morrow, thank you,' said Little Dorrit. 'This is very kind of you, but you
are always kind.'
Mr Plornish, with a modest disavowal of his merits, opened the room door for her
readmission, and followed her in with such an exceedingly bald pretence of not
having been out at all, that her father might have observed it without being very
suspicious. In his affable unconsciousness, however, he took no heed. Plornish,
after a little conversation, in which he blended his former duty as a Collegian with
his present privilege as a humble outside friend, qualified again by his low estate
as a plasterer, took his leave; making the tour of the prison before he left, and
looking on at a game of skittles with the mixed feelings of an old inhabitant who
had his private reasons for believing that it might be his destiny to come back
Early in the morning, Little Dorrit, leaving Maggy in high domestic trust, set off for
the Patriarchal tent. She went by the Iron Bridge, though it cost her a penny, and
walked more slowly in that part of her journey than in any other. At five minutes