Little Dorrit HTML version

2. Fellow Travellers
'No more of yesterday's howling over yonder to-day, Sir; is there?'
'I have heard none.'
'Then you may be sure there is none. When these people howl, they howl to be
'Most people do, I suppose.'
'Ah! but these people are always howling. Never happy otherwise.'
'Do you mean the Marseilles people?'
'I mean the French people. They're always at it. As to Marseilles, we know what
Marseilles is. It sent the most insurrectionary tune into the world that was ever
composed. It couldn't exist without allonging and marshonging to something or
other--victory or death, or blazes, or something.'
The speaker, with a whimsical good humour upon him all the time, looked over
the parapet-wall with the greatest disparagement of Marseilles; and taking up a
determined position by putting his hands in his pockets and rattling his money at
it, apostrophised it with a short laugh.
'Allong and marshong, indeed. It would be more creditable to you, I think, to let
other people allong and marshong about their lawful business, instead of shutting
'em up in quarantine!'
'Tiresome enough,' said the other. 'But we shall be out to-day.'
'Out to-day!' repeated the first. 'It's almost an aggravation of the enormity, that we
shall be out to-day. Out! What have we ever been in for?'
'For no very strong reason, I must say. But as we come from the East, and as the
East is the country of the plague--'
'The plague!' repeated the other. 'That's my grievance. I have had the plague
continually, ever since I have been here. I am like a sane man shut up in a
madhouse; I can't stand the suspicion of the thing. I came here as well as ever I
was in my life; but to suspect me of the plague is to give me the plague. And I
have had it--and I have got it.'
'You bear it very well, Mr Meagles,' said the second speaker, smiling.
'No. If you knew the real state of the case, that's the last observation you would
think of making. I have been waking up night after night, and saying, NOW I have
got it, NOW it has developed itself, NOW I am in for it, NOW these fellows are
making out their case for their precautions. Why, I'd as soon have a spit put
through me, and be stuck upon a card in a collection of beetles, as lead the life I
have been leading here.'
'Well, Mr Meagles, say no more about it now it's over,' urged a cheerful feminine
'Over!' repeated Mr Meagles, who appeared (though without any ill- nature) to be
in that peculiar state of mind in which the last word spoken by anybody else is a
new injury. 'Over! and why should I say no more about it because it's over?'
It was Mrs Meagles who had spoken to Mr Meagles; and Mrs Meagles was, like
Mr Meagles, comely and healthy, with a pleasant English face which had been