Little Dorrit HTML version
What was behind Mr Pancks on Little Dorrit's Hand
It was at this time that Mr Pancks, in discharge of his compact with Clennam,
revealed to him the whole of his gipsy story, and told him Little Dorrit's fortune.
Her father was heir-at-law to a great estate that had long lain unknown of,
unclaimed, and accumulating. His right was now clear, nothing interposed in his
way, the Marshalsea gates stood open, the Marshalsea walls were down, a few
flourishes of his pen, and he was extremely rich.
In his tracking out of the claim to its complete establishment, Mr Pancks had
shown a sagacity that nothing could baffle, and a patience and secrecy that
nothing could tire. 'I little thought, sir,' said Pancks, 'when you and I crossed
Smithfield that night, and I told you what sort of a Collector I was, that this would
come of it. I little thought, sir, when I told you you were not of the Clennams of
Cornwall, that I was ever going to tell you who were of the Dorrits of Dorsetshire.'
He then went on to detail. How, having that name recorded in his note-book, he
was first attracted by the name alone. How, having often found two exactly
similar names, even belonging to the same place, to involve no traceable
consanguinity, near or distant, he did not at first give much heed to this, except in
the way of speculation as to what a surprising change would be made in the
condition of a little seamstress, if she could be shown to have any interest in so
large a property. How he rather supposed himself to have pursued the idea into
its next degree, because there was something uncommon in the quiet little
seamstress, which pleased him and provoked his curiosity.
How he had felt his way inch by inch, and 'Moled it out, sir' (that was Mr Pancks's
expression), grain by grain. How, in the beginning of the labour described by this
new verb, and to render which the more expressive Mr Pancks shut his eyes in
pronouncing it and shook his hair over them, he had alternated from sudden
lights and hopes to sudden darkness and no hopes, and back again, and back
again. How he had made acquaintances in the Prison, expressly that he might
come and go there as all other comers and goers did; and how his first ray of
light was unconsciously given him by Mr Dorrit himself and by his son; to both of
whom he easily became known; with both of whom he talked much, casually ('but
always Moleing you'll observe,' said Mr Pancks): and from whom he derived,
without being at all suspected, two or three little points of family history which, as
he began to hold clues of his own, suggested others. How it had at length
become plain to Mr Pancks that he had made a real discovery of the heir-at-law
to a great fortune, and that his discovery had but to be ripened to legal fulness
and perfection. How he had, thereupon, sworn his landlord, Mr Rugg, to secrecy
in a solemn manner, and taken him into Moleing partnership.
How they had employed John Chivery as their sole clerk and agent, seeing to
whom he was devoted. And how, until the present hour, when authorities mighty
in the Bank and learned in the law declared their successful labours ended, they
had confided in no other human being.
'So if the whole thing had broken down, sir,' concluded Pancks, 'at the very last,
say the day before the other day when I showed you our papers in the Prison