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Oh! Such as it was! (Mr Dorrit could not bear the faintest appearance of its being depreciated, even by Mr Merdle himself.)
'--That, there is nothing in the bonds of spotless honour between myself and my fellow-man to prevent my parting with, if I choose. And that,' said Mr Merdle, now deeply intent upon a dust-cart that was passing the windows, 'shall be at your command whenever you think proper.'
New acknowledgments from Mr Dorrit. New passages of Mr Merdle's hand over his forehead. Calm and silence. Contemplation of Mr Dorrit's waistcoat buttons by Mr Merdle.
'My time being rather precious,' said Mr Merdle, suddenly getting up, as if he had been waiting in the interval for his legs and they had just come, 'I must be moving towards the City. Can I take you anywhere, sir? I shall be happy to set you down, or send you on. My carriage is at your disposal.'
Mr Dorrit bethought himself that he had business at his banker's. His banker's was in the City. That was fortunate; Mr Merdle would take him into the City. But, surely, he might not detain Mr Merdle while he assumed his coat? Yes, he might and must; Mr Merdle insisted on it. So Mr Dorrit, retiring into the next room, put himself under the hands of his valet, and in five minutes came back glorious.
Then said Mr Merdle, 'Allow me, sir. Take my arm!' Then leaning on Mr Merdle's arm, did Mr Dorrit descend the staircase, seeing the worshippers on the steps, and feeling that the light of Mr Merdle shone by reflection in himself. Then the carriage, and the ride into the City; and the people who looked at them; and the hats that flew off grey heads; and the general bowing and crouching before this wonderful mortal the like of which prostration of spirit was not to be seen--no, by high Heaven, no! It may be worth thinking of by Fawners of all denominations--in Westminster Abbey and Saint Paul's Cathedral put together, on any Sunday in the year. It was a rapturous dream to Mr Dorrit to find himself set aloft in this public car of triumph, making a magnificent progress to that befitting destination, the golden Street of the Lombards.
There Mr Merdle insisted on alighting and going his way a-foot, and leaving his poor equipage at Mr Dorrit's disposition. So the dream increased in rapture when Mr Dorrit came out of the bank alone, and people looked at him in default of Mr Merdle, and when, with the ears of his mind, he heard the frequent exclamation as he rolled glibly along, 'A wonderful man to be Mr Merdle's friend!'
At dinner that day, although the occasion was not foreseen and provided for, a brilliant company of such as are not made of the dust of the earth, but of some superior article for the present unknown, shed their lustrous benediction upon Mr Dorrit's daughter's marriage. And Mr Dorrit's daughter that day began, in earnest, her competition with that woman not present; and began it so well that Mr Dorrit could all but have taken his affidavit, if required, that Mrs Sparkler had all her life been lying at full length in the lap of luxury, and had never heard of such a rough word in the English tongue as Marshalsea.
Next day, and the day after, and every day, all graced by more dinner company, cards descended on Mr Dorrit like theatrical snow. As the friend and relative by marriage of the illustrious Merdle, Bar, Bishop, Treasury, Chorus, Everybody, wanted to make or improve Mr Dorrit's acquaintance. In Mr Merdle's heap of offices in the City, when Mr Dorrit appeared at any of them on his business taking him Eastward (which it frequently did, for it throve amazingly), the name of Dorrit was always a passport to the great presence of Merdle. So the dream increased in rapture every hour, as Mr Dorrit felt increasingly sensible that this connection had brought him forward indeed.
Only one thing sat otherwise than auriferously, and at the same time lightly, on Mr Dorrit's mind. It was the Chief Butler. That stupendous character looked at him, in the course of his official looking at the dinners, in a manner that Mr Dorrit considered questionable. He looked at him, as he passed through the hall and up the staircase, going to dinner, with a glazed fixedness that Mr Dorrit did not like. Seated at table in the act of drinking, Mr Dorrit still saw him through his wine-glass, regarding him with a cold and ghostly eye. It misgave him that the Chief Butler must have known a Collegian, and must have seen him in the College-- perhaps had been presented to him. He looked as closely at the Chief Butler as such a man could be looked at, and yet he did not recall that he had ever seen him elsewhere. Ultimately he was inclined to think that there was no reverence in the man, no sentiment in the great creature. But he was not relieved by that; for, let him think what he would, the Chief Butler had him in his supercilious eye, even when that eye was on the plate and other table-garniture; and he never let him out of it. To hint to him that this confinement in his eye was disagreeable, or to ask him what he meant, was an act too daring to venture upon; his severity with his employers and their visitors being terrific, and he never permitting himself to be approached with the slightest liberty.
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Little Dorrit -- by Charles Dickens