Charles Dickens, Bleak House: Ch. 29

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"With your ladyship's permission, then," says the young man, "I will now enter on my business.  Hem!  I am, as I told your ladyship in my first letter, in the law.  Being in the law, I have learnt the habit of not committing myself in writing, and therefore I did not mention to your ladyship the name of the firm with which I am connected and in which my standing—and I may add income—is tolerably good.  I may now state to your ladyship, in confidence, that the name of that firm is Kenge and Carboy, of Lincoln's Inn, which may not be altogether unknown to your ladyship in connexion with the case in Chancery of Jarndyce and Jarndyce."

My Lady's figure begins to be expressive of some attention.  She has ceased to toss the screen and holds it as if she were listening.

"Now, I may say to your ladyship at once," says Mr. Guppy, a little emboldened, "it is no matter arising out of Jarndyce and Jarndyce that made me so desirous to speak to your ladyship, which conduct I have no doubt did appear, and does appear, obtrusive—in fact, almost blackguardly."

After waiting for a moment to receive some assurance to the contrary, and not receiving any, Mr. Guppy proceeds, "If it had been Jarndyce and Jarndyce, I should have gone at once to your ladyship's solicitor, Mr. Tulkinghorn, of the Fields.  I have the pleasure of being acquainted with Mr. Tulkinghorn—at least we move when we meet one another—and if it had been any business of that sort, I should have gone to him."

My Lady turns a little round and says, "You had better sit down."

"Thank your ladyship."  Mr. Guppy does so.  "Now, your ladyship"—Mr. Guppy refers to a little slip of paper on which he has made small notes of his line of argument and which seems to involve him in the densest obscurity whenever he looks at it—"I—Oh, yes!—I place myself entirely in your ladyship's hands.  If your ladyship was to make any complaint to Kenge and Carboy or to Mr. Tulkinghorn of the present visit, I should be placed in a very disagreeable situation.  That, I openly admit.  Consequently, I rely upon your ladyship's honour."

My Lady, with a disdainful gesture of the hand that holds the screen, assures him of his being worth no complaint from her.

"Thank your ladyship," says Mr. Guppy; "quite satisfactory.  Now—I—dash it!—The fact is that I put down a head or two here of the order of the points I thought of touching upon, and they're written short, and I can't quite make out what they mean.  If your ladyship will excuse me taking it to the window half a moment, I—"

Mr. Guppy, going to the window, tumbles into a pair of love-birds, to whom he says in his confusion, "I beg your pardon, I am sure."  This does not tend to the greater legibility of his notes.  He murmurs, growing warm and red and holding the slip of paper now close to his eyes, now a long way off, "C.S.  What's C.S. for?  Oh!  C.S.!  Oh, I know!  Yes, to be sure!"  And comes back enlightened.

"I am not aware," says Mr. Guppy, standing midway between my Lady and his chair, "whether your ladyship ever happened to hear of, or to see, a young lady of the name of Miss Esther Summerson."

My Lady's eyes look at him full.  "I saw a young lady of that name not long ago.  This past autumn."

"Now, did it strike your ladyship that she was like anybody?" asks Mr. Guppy, crossing his arms, holding his head on one side, and scratching the corner of his mouth with his memoranda.

My Lady removes her eyes from him no more.

"No."