Книга Bleak House. Содержание - CHAPTER IV Telescopic Philanthropy
Mr. Kenge now retired, and Richard with him, to where I was, near the door, leaving my pet (it is so natural to me that again I can't help it!) sitting near the Lord Chancellor, with whom his lordship spoke a little part, asking her, as she told me afterwards, whether she had well reflected on the proposed arrangement, and if she thought she would be happy under the roof of Mr. Jarndyce of Bleak House, and why she thought so? Presently he rose courteously and released her, and then he spoke for a minute or two with Richard Carstone, not seated, but standing, and altogether with more ease and less ceremony, as if he still knew, though he WAS Lord Chancellor, how to go straight to the candour of a boy.
"Very well!" said his lordship aloud. "I shall make the order.
Mr. Jarndyce of Bleak House has chosen, so far as I may judge," and this was when he looked at me, "a very good companion for the young lady, and the arrangement altogether seems the best of which the circumstances admit."
He dismissed us pleasantly, and we all went out, very much obliged to him for being so affable and polite, by which he had certainly lost no dignity but seemed to us to have gained some.
When we got under the colonnade, Mr. Kenge remembered that he must go back for a moment to ask a question and left us in the fog, with the Lord Chancellor's carriage and servants waiting for him to come out.
"Well!" said Richard Carstone. "THAT'S over! And where do we go next, Miss Summerson?"
"Don't you know?" I said.
"Not in the least," said he.
"And don't YOU know, my love?" I asked Ada.
"No!" said she. "Don't you?"
"Not at all!" said I.
We looked at one another, half laughing at our being like the children in the wood, when a curious little old woman in a squeezed bonnet and carrying a reticule came curtsying and smiling up to us with an air of great ceremony.
"Oh!" said she. "The wards in Jarndyce! Ve-ry happy, I am sure, to have the honour! It is a good omen for youth, and hope, and beauty when they find themselves in this place, and don't know what's to come of it."
"Mad!" whispered Richard, not thinking she could hear him.
"Right! Mad, young gentleman," she returned so quickly that he was quite abashed. "I was a ward myself. I was not mad at that time," curtsying low and smiling between every little sentence. "I had youth and hope. I believe, beauty. It matters very little now.
Neither of the three served or saved me. I have the honour to attend court regularly. With my documents. I expect a judgment.
Shortly. On the Day of Judgment. I have discovered that the sixth seal mentioned in the Revelations is the Great Seal. It has been open a long time! Pray accept my blessing."
As Ada was a little frightened, I said, to humour the poor old lady, that we were much obliged to her.
"Ye-es!" she said mincingly. "I imagine so. And here is Conversation Kenge. With HIS documents! How does your honourable worship do?"
"Quite well, quite well! Now don't be troublesome, that's a good soul!" said Mr. Kenge, leading the way back.
"By no means," said the poor old lady, keeping up with Ada and me.
"Anything but troublesome. I shall confer estates on both-which is not being troublesome, I trust? I expect a judgment. Shortly.
On the Day of Judgment. This is a good omen for you. Accept my blessing!"
She stopped at the bottom of the steep, broad flight of stairs; but we looked back as we went up, and she was still there, saying, still with a curtsy and a smile between every little sentence,
"Youth. And hope. And beauty. And Chancery. And Conversation Kenge! Ha! Pray accept my blessing!"
We were to pass the night, Mr. Kenge told us when we arrived in his room, at Mrs. Jellyby's; and then he turned to me and said he took it for granted I knew who Mrs. Jellyby was.
"I really don't, sir," I returned. "Perhaps Mr. Carstone-or Miss Clare-"
But no, they knew nothing whatever about Mrs. Jellyby. "In-deed!
Mrs. Jellyby," said Mr. Kenge, standing with his back to the fire and casting his eyes over the dusty hearth-rug as if it were Mrs.
Jellyby's biography, "is a lady of very remarkable strength of character who devotes herself entirely to the public. She has devoted herself to an extensive variety of public subjects at various times and is at present (until something else attracts her) devoted to the subject of Africa, with a view to the general cultivation of the coffee berry-AND the natives-and the happy settlement, on the banks of the African rivers, of our superabundant home population. Mr. Jarndyce, who is desirous to aid any work that is considered likely to be a good work and who is much sought after by philanthropists, has, I believe, a very high opinion of Mrs. Jellyby."
Mr. Kenge, adjusting his cravat, then looked at us.
"And Mr. Jellyby, sir?" suggested Richard.
"Ah! Mr. Jellyby," said Mr. Kenge, "is-a-I don't know that I can describe him to you better than by saying that he is the husband of Mrs. Jellyby."
"A nonentity, sir?" said Richard with a droll look.
"I don't say that," returned Mr. Kenge gravely. "I can't say that, indeed, for I know nothing whatever OF Mr. Jellyby. I never, to my knowledge, had the pleasure of seeing Mr. Jellyby. He may be a very superior man, but he is, so to speak, merged-merged-in the more shining qualities of his wife." Mr. Kenge proceeded to tell us that as the road to Bleak House would have been very long, dark, and tedious on such an evening, and as we had been travelling already, Mr. Jarndyce had himself proposed this arrangement. A carriage would be at Mrs. Jellyby's to convey us out of town early in the forenoon of to-morrow.
He then rang a little bell, and the young gentleman came in.
Addressing him by the name of Guppy, Mr. Kenge inquired whether Miss Summerson's boxes and the rest of the baggage had been "sent round." Mr. Guppy said yes, they had been sent round, and a coach was waiting to take us round too as soon as we pleased.
"Then it only remains," said Mr. Kenge, shaking hands with us, "for me to express my lively satisfaction in (good day, Miss Clare!) the arrangement this day concluded and my (GOOD-bye to you, Miss Summerson!) lively hope that it will conduce to the happiness, the (glad to have had the honour of making your acquaintance, Mr.
Carstone!) welfare, the advantage in all points of view, of all concerned! Guppy, see the party safely there."
"Where IS 'there,' Mr. Guppy?" said Richard as we went downstairs.
"No distance," said Mr. Guppy; "round in Thavies Inn, you know."
"I can't say I know where it is, for I come from Winchester and am strange in London."
"Only round the corner," said Mr. Guppy. "We just twist up Chancery Lane, and cut along Holborn, and there we are in four minutes' time, as near as a toucher. This is about a London particular NOW, ain't it, miss?" He seemed quite delighted with it on my account.
"The fog is very dense indeed!" said I.
"Not that it affects you, though, I'm sure," said Mr. Guppy, putting up the steps. "On the contrary, it seems to do you good, miss, judging from your appearance."
I knew he meant well in paying me this compliment, so I laughed at myself for blushing at it when he had shut the door and got upon the box; and we all three laughed and chatted about our inexperience and the strangeness of London until we turned up under an archway to our destination-a narrow street of high houses like an oblong cistern to hold the fog. There was a confused little crowd of people, principally children, gathered about the house at which we stopped, which had a tarnished brass plate on the door with the inscription JELLYBY.
"Don't be frightened!" said Mr. Guppy, looking in at the coachwindow. "One of the young Jellybys been and got his head through the area railings!"