Charles Dickens, Bleak House: Ch. 42

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So saying, he unlocks his door, gropes his way into his murky rooms, lights his candles, and looks about him.  It is too dark to see much of the Allegory overhead there, but that importunate Roman, who is for ever toppling out of the clouds and pointing, is at his old work pretty distinctly.  Not honouring him with much attention, Mr. Tulkinghorn takes a small key from his pocket, unlocks a drawer in which there is another key, which unlocks a chest in which there is another, and so comes to the cellar-key, with which he prepares to descend to the regions of old wine.  He is going towards the door with a candle in his hand when a knock comes.

"Who's this?  Aye, aye, mistress, it's you, is it?  You appear at a good time.  I have just been hearing of you.  Now!  What do you want?"

He stands the candle on the chimney-piece in the clerk's hall and taps his dry cheek with the key as he addresses these words of welcome to Mademoiselle Hortense.  That feline personage, with her lips tightly shut and her eyes looking out at him sideways, softly closes the door before replying.

"I have had great deal of trouble to find you, sir."

"HAVE you!"

"I have been here very often, sir.  It has always been said to me, he is not at home, he is engage, he is this and that, he is not for you."

"Quite right, and quite true."

"Not true.  Lies!"

At times there is a suddenness in the manner of Mademoiselle Hortense so like a bodily spring upon the subject of it that such subject involuntarily starts and fails back.  It is Mr. Tulkinghorn's case at present, though Mademoiselle Hortense, with her eyes almost shut up (but still looking out sideways), is only smiling contemptuously and shaking her head.

"Now, mistress," says the lawyer, tapping the key hastily upon the chimney-piece.  "If you have anything to say, say it, say it."

"Sir, you have not use me well.  You have been mean and shabby."

"Mean and shabby, eh?" returns the lawyer, rubbing his nose with the key.

"Yes.  What is it that I tell you?  You know you have.  You have attrapped me—catched me—to give you information; you have asked me to show you the dress of mine my Lady must have wore that night, you have prayed me to come in it here to meet that boy.  Say!  Is it not?"  Mademoiselle Hortense makes another spring.

"You are a vixen, a vixen!" Mr. Tulkinghorn seems to meditate as he looks distrustfully at her, then he replies, "Well, wench, well.  I paid you."

"You paid me!" she repeats with fierce disdain.  "Two sovereign!  I have not change them, I re-fuse them, I des-pise them, I throw them from me!"  Which she literally does, taking them out of her bosom as she speaks and flinging them with such violence on the floor that they jerk up again into the light before they roll away into corners and slowly settle down there after spinning vehemently.

"Now!" says Mademoiselle Hortense, darkening her large eyes again.  "You have paid me?  Eh, my God, oh yes!"

Mr. Tulkinghorn rubs his head with the key while she entertains herself with a sarcastic laugh.