Charles Dickens, Bleak House: Ch. 34

[+] | [-] | reset
 

"The old girl," says Mr. Bagnet, "puts it correct—why didn't you?"

"Well, she has a better husband by this time, I hope," returns the trooper.  "Anyhow, here I stand, this present day, NOT married to Joe Pouch's widder.  What shall I do?  You see all I have got about me.  It's not mine; it's yours.  Give the word, and I'll sell off every morsel.  If I could have hoped it would have brought in nearly the sum wanted, I'd have sold all long ago.  Don't believe that I'll leave you or yours in the lurch, Mat.  I'd sell myself first.  I only wish," says the trooper, giving himself a disparaging blow in the chest, "that I knew of any one who'd buy such a second-hand piece of old stores."

"Old girl," murmurs Mr. Bagnet, "give him another bit of my mind."

"George," says the old girl, "you are not so much to be blamed, on full consideration, except for ever taking this business without the means."

"And that was like me!" observes the penitent trooper, shaking his head.  "Like me, I know."

"Silence!  The old girl," says Mr. Bagnet, "is correct—in her way of giving my opinions—hear me out!"

"That was when you never ought to have asked for the security, George, and when you never ought to have got it, all things considered.  But what's done can't be undone.  You are always an honourable and straightforward fellow, as far as lays in your power, though a little flighty.  On the other hand, you can't admit but what it's natural in us to be anxious with such a thing hanging over our heads.  So forget and forgive all round, George.  Come!  Forget and forgive all round!"

Mrs. Bagnet, giving him one of her honest hands and giving her husband the other, Mr. George gives each of them one of his and holds them while he speaks.

"I do assure you both, there's nothing I wouldn't do to discharge this obligation.  But whatever I have been able to scrape together has gone every two months in keeping it up.  We have lived plainly enough here, Phil and I.  But the gallery don't quite do what was expected of it, and it's not—in short, it's not the mint.  It was wrong in me to take it?  Well, so it was.  But I was in a manner drawn into that step, and I thought it might steady me, and set me up, and you'll try to overlook my having such expectations, and upon my soul, I am very much obliged to you, and very much ashamed of myself."  With these concluding words, Mr. George gives a shake to each of the hands he holds, and relinquishing them, backs a pace or two in a broad-chested, upright attitude, as if he had made a final confession and were immediately going to be shot with all military honours.

"George, hear me out!" says Mr. Bagnet, glancing at his wife.  "Old girl, go on!"

Mr. Bagnet, being in this singular manner heard out, has merely to observe that the letter must be attended to without any delay, that it is advisable that George and he should immediately wait on Mr. Smallweed in person, and that the primary object is to save and hold harmless Mr. Bagnet, who had none of the money.  Mr. George, entirely assenting, puts on his hat and prepares to march with Mr. Bagnet to the enemy's camp.

"Don't you mind a woman's hasty word, George," says Mrs. Bagnet, patting him on the shoulder.  "I trust my old Lignum to you, and I am sure you'll bring him through it."

The trooper returns that this is kindly said and that he WILL bring Lignum through it somehow.  Upon which Mrs. Bagnet, with her cloak, basket, and umbrella, goes home, bright-eyed again, to the rest of her family, and the comrades sally forth on the hopeful errand of mollifying Mr. Smallweed.