Little Dorrit HTML version
Machinery in Motion
Mr Meagles bestirred himself with such prompt activity in the matter of the
negotiation with Daniel Doyce which Clennam had entrusted to him, that he soon
brought it into business train, and called on Clennam at nine o'clock one morning
to make his report. 'Doyce is highly gratified by your good opinion,' he opened
the business by saying, 'and desires nothing so much as that you should
examine the affairs of the Works for yourself, and entirely understand them. He
has handed me the keys of all his books and papers--here they are jingling in this
pocket--and the only charge he has given me is "Let Mr Clennam have the
means of putting himself on a perfect equality with me as to knowing whatever I
know. If it should come to nothing after all, he will respect my confidence. Unless
I was sure of that to begin with, I should have nothing to do with him." And there,
you see,' said Mr Meagles, 'you have Daniel Doyce all over.'
'A very honourable character.'
'Oh, yes, to be sure. Not a doubt of it. Odd, but very honourable. Very odd
though. Now, would you believe, Clennam,' said Mr Meagles, with a hearty
enjoyment of his friend's eccentricity, 'that I had a whole morning in What's-his-
name Yard-- '
'A whole morning in Bleeding Heart Yard, before I could induce him to pursue the
subject at all?'
'How was that?'
'How was that, my friend? I no sooner mentioned your name in connection with it
than he declared off.'
'Declared off on my account?'
'I no sooner mentioned your name, Clennam, than he said, "That will never do!"
What did he mean by that? I asked him. No matter, Meagles; that would never
do. Why would it never do? You'll hardly believe it, Clennam,' said Mr Meagles,
laughing within himself, 'but it came out that it would never do, because you and
he, walking down to Twickenham together, had glided into a friendly conversation
in the course of which he had referred to his intention of taking a partner,
supposing at the time that you were as firmly and finally settled as St Paul's
Cathedral. "Whereas," says he, "Mr Clennam might now believe, if I entertained
his proposition, that I had a sinister and designing motive in what was open free
speech. Which I can't bear," says he, "which I really
am too proud to bear."'
'I should as soon suspect--'
'Of course you would,' interrupted Mr Meagles, 'and so I told him. But it took a
morning to scale that wall; and I doubt if any other man than myself (he likes me
of old) could have got his leg over it. Well, Clennam. This business-like obstacle
surmounted, he then stipulated that before resuming with you I should look over
the books and form my own opinion. I looked over the books, and formed my
own opinion. "Is it, on the whole, for, or against?" says he. "For," says I. "Then,"
says he, "you may now, my good friend, give Mr Clennam the means of forming