Little Dorrit HTML version
Nobody's State of Mind
If Arthur Clennam had not arrived at that wise decision firmly to restrain himself
from loving Pet, he would have lived on in a state of much perplexity, involving
difficult struggles with his own heart. Not the least of these would have been a
contention, always waging within it, between a tendency to dislike Mr Henry
Gowan, if not to regard him with positive repugnance, and a whisper that the
inclination was unworthy. A generous nature is not prone to strong aversions,
and is slow to admit them even dispassionately; but when it finds ill-will gaining
upon it, and can discern between-whiles that its origin is not dispassionate, such
a nature becomes distressed.
Therefore Mr Henry Gowan would have clouded Clennam's mind, and would
have been far oftener present to it than more agreeable persons and subjects but
for the great prudence of his decision aforesaid. As it was, Mr Gowan seemed
transferred to Daniel Doyce's mind; at all events, it so happened that it usually fell
to Mr Doyce's turn, rather than to Clennam's, to speak of him in the friendly
conversations they held together. These were of frequent occurrence now; as the
two partners shared a portion of a roomy house in one of the grave old-fashioned
City streets, lying not far from the Bank of England, by London Wall.
Mr Doyce had been to Twickenham to pass the day. Clennam had excused
himself. Mr Doyce was just come home. He put in his head at the door of
Clennam's sitting-room to say Good night.
'Come in, come in!' said Clennam.
'I saw you were reading,' returned Doyce, as he entered, 'and thought you might
not care to be disturbed.'
But for the notable resolution he had made, Clennam really might not have
known what he had been reading; really might not have had his eyes upon the
book for an hour past, though it lay open before him. He shut it up, rather quickly.
'Are they well?' he asked.
'Yes,' said Doyce; 'they are well. They are all well.'
Daniel had an old workmanlike habit of carrying his pocket- handkerchief in his
hat. He took it out and wiped his forehead with it, slowly repeating, 'They are all
well. Miss Minnie looking particularly well, I thought.'
'Any company at the cottage?'
'No, no company.' 'And how did you get on, you four?' asked Clennam gaily.
'There were five of us,' returned his partner. 'There was What's- his-name. He
was there.' 'Who is he?' said Clennam.
'Mr Henry Gowan.'
'Ah, to be sure!' cried Clennam with unusual vivacity, 'Yes!--I forgot him.'
'As I mentioned, you may remember,' said Daniel Doyce, 'he is always there on
'Yes, yes,' returned Clennam; 'I remember now.'
Daniel Doyce, still wiping his forehead, ploddingly repeated. 'Yes. He was there,
he was there. Oh yes, he was there. And his dog. He was there too.'
'Miss Meagles is quite attached to--the--dog,' observed Clennam.
'Quite so,' assented his partner. 'More attached to the dog than I am to the man.'