CHAPTER XXIII
MACHINERY IN MOTION

MR. MEAGLES bestirred himself with such prompt activity in the matter of the negotiation with Daniel Doyce which Clennam had entrusted to him, that he soon brought it into business train, and called on Clennam at nine o'clock one morning to make his report.

' Doyce is highly gratified by your good opinion,' he opened the business by saying, 'and desires nothing so much as that you should examine the affairs of the Works for yourself, and entirely understand them. He has handed me the keys of all his books and papers -- here they are jingling in this pocket -- and the only charge he has given me is "Let Mr. Clennam have the means of putting himself on a perfect equality with me as to knowing whatever I know. If it should come to nothing after all, he will respect my confidence. Unless I was sure of that to begin with, I should have nothing to do with him." And there, you see, said Mr. Meagles, 'you have Daniel Doyce all over.'

'A very honourable character.'

'Oh, yes, to be sure. Not a doubt of it. Odd, but very honourable. Very odd though. Now, would you believe, Clennam, said Mr. Meagles, with a hearty enjoyment of his friend's eccentricity, 'that I had a whole morning in What's-his-name Yard --'

'Bleeding Heart?'

'A whole morning in Bleeding Heart Yard, before I could induce him to pursue the subject at all?'

'How was that?'

'How was that, my friend? I no sooner mentioned your name in connection with it, than he declared off.'

'Declared off, on my account?'

'I no sooner mentioned your name, Clennam, than he said, "That will never do!" What did he mean by that? I asked him. No matter, Meagles; that would never do. Why would it never do? You'll hardly believe it, Clennam,' said Mr. Meagles, laughing within himself, 'but it came out that it would never do, because you and he, walking down to Twickenham together, had glided into a friendly conversation, in the course of which he had referred to his intention of taking a partner, supposing at

-251-

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