Little Dorrit HTML version

Nobody's Disappearance
Not resting satisfied with the endeavours he had made to recover his lost charge,
Mr Meagles addressed a letter of remonstrance, breathing nothing but goodwill,
not only to her, but to Miss Wade too. No answer coming to these epistles, or to
another written to the stubborn girl by the hand of her late young mistress, which
might have melted her if anything could (all three letters were returned weeks
afterwards as having been refused at the house- door), he deputed Mrs Meagles
to make the experiment of a personal interview. That worthy lady being unable to
obtain one, and being steadfastly denied admission, Mr Meagles besought Arthur
to essay once more what he could do. All that came of his compliance was, his
discovery that the empty house was left in charge of the old woman, that Miss
Wade was gone, that the waifs and strays of furniture were gone, and that the old
woman would accept any number of half-crowns and thank the donor kindly, but
had no information whatever to exchange for those coins, beyond constantly
offering for perusal a memorandum relative to fixtures, which the house- agent's
young man had left in the hall.
Unwilling, even under this discomfiture, to resign the ingrate and leave her
hopeless, in case of her better dispositions obtaining the mastery over the darker
side of her character, Mr Meagles, for six successive days, published a discreetly
covert advertisement in the morning papers, to the effect that if a certain young
person who had lately left home without reflection, would at any time apply to his
address at Twickenham, everything would be as it had been before, and no
reproaches need be apprehended. The unexpected consequences of this
notification suggested to the dismayed Mr Meagles for the first time that some
hundreds of young persons must be leaving their homes without reflection every
day; for shoals of wrong young people came down to Twickenham, who, not
finding themselves received with enthusiasm, generally demanded compensation
by way of damages, in addition to coach-hire there and back. Nor were these the
only uninvited clients whom the advertisement produced. The swarm of begging-
letter writers, who would seem to be always watching eagerly for any hook,
however small, to hang a letter upon, wrote to say that having seen the
advertisement, they were induced to apply with confidence for various sums,
ranging from ten shillings to fifty pounds: not because they knew anything about
the young person, but because they felt that to part with those donations would
greatly relieve the advertiser's mind. Several projectors, likewise, availed
themselves of the same opportunity to correspond with Mr Meagles; as, for
example, to apprise him that their attention having been called to the
advertisement by a friend, they begged to state that if they should ever hear
anything of the young person, they would not fail to make it known to him
immediately, and that in the meantime if he would oblige them with the funds
necessary for bringing to perfection a certain entirely novel description of Pump,
the happiest results would ensue to mankind.
Mr Meagles and his family, under these combined discouragements, had begun
reluctantly to give up Tattycoram as irrecoverable, when the new and active firm