when he was rumoured to be coming down the stairs, often could not disperse so quickly but that he would be prematurely in among them, demanding their own arrears, and rooting them to the spot. Throughout the remainder of the day, Mr. Pancks's What were they up to? and What did they mean by it? sounded all over the Yard. Mr. Pancks wouldn't hear of excuses, wouldn't hear of complaints, wouldn't hear of repairs, wouldn't hear of anything but unconditional money down. Perspiring and puffing and darting about in eccentric directions, and becoming hotter and dingier every moment, he lashed the tide of the Yard into a most agitated and turbid state. It had not settled down into calm water again, full two hours after he had been seen fuming away on the horizon at the top of the steps.

There were several small assemblages of the Bleeding Hearts at the popular points of meeting in the Yard that night, among whom it was universally agreed that Mr. Pancks was a hard man to have to do with; and that it was much to be regretted, so it was, that a gentleman like Mr. Casby should put his rents in his hands, and never know him in his true light. For (said the Bleeding Hearts), if a gentleman with that head of hair and them eyes took his rents into his own hands, ma'am, there would be none of this worriting and wearing, and things would be very different.

At which identical evening hour and minute, the Patriarch -- who had floated serenely through the Yard in the forenoon before the harrying began, with the express design of getting up this trustfulness in his shining bumps and silken locks -- at which identical hour and minute, that first-rate humbug of a thousand guns was heavily floundering in the little Dock of his exhausted Tug at home, and was saying, as he turned his thumbs:

'A very bad day's work, Pancks, very bad day's work. It seems to me, sir, and I must insist on making the observation forcibly, in justice to myself, that you ought to have got much more money, much more money.'


CHAPTER XXIV
FORTUNE-TELLING

LITTLE DORRIT received a call that same evening from Mr. Plornish, who, having intimated that he wished to speak to her, privately, in a series of coughs so very noticeable as to favour the

-266-

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