Dickens Update #18; Book 2: Issue 15

In Cahapter XV No Just Cause or Impediment Why These Two Persons Should Not Be Joined Together, we learn Mr. Dorrit’s reaction to Fanny’s engagement: “a family connexion of a gratifying nature with Mr. Merdle, the master spirit of the age.”  Mr. Dorrit received Mr. Sparkler’s offer “very much as he would have received three or four half-crowns from him in the days that were gone.” Through correspondence described hilariously by Dickens, Mr. Dorrit and Mr. Merdle reached a “satisfactory understanding” re the marriage.  Mr. Dorrit and Fanny have words about Mrs. General. Mr. Dorrit sends for Mrs. General to inform her of Fanny’s engagement and the diminution of her duties as a result. Fanny makes it clear that she neither asked for nor required Mrs. General’s consent.  Mr. Sparkler returns to England to work.  Fanny says Edmund cannot be trusted to go by himself: “For if it’s possible – and it generally is – to do a foolish thing, he is sure to do it.”  The marriage takes place in Rome. Mr. Dorrit informs Amy how much he wishes her to be married. Mr. Dorrit goes to Florence to join Fanny and Sparkler while Amy remains with Mrs. General.

In Chapter XVI, Getting On, Fanny and Sparkler arrive in Cavendish Square. In the morning Mr. Merdle goes to pay his respects to Mr. Dorrit who is housed in an hotel. Dickens continues his “over the top” descriptions of Mr. Merdle. “O ye sun, moon, and stars, the great man!”Dorrit tells Merdle he has come to arrange “the laying out…in the best way of…my money.” Dorrit goes with Merdle to the city where he will visit his banker. In the days ahead “the name of Dorrit was always a passport to the great presence of Merdle.”

In Chapter XVII Missing, Flora Finching calls on Mr. Dorrit: she saw news in the paper that Mr. Dorrit had arrived from Italy. She reports to Mr. Dorrit the “disappearance” of Rigaud after leaving Mrs. Clennam’s house. Flora asks Mr. Dorrit to make enquiries when he returns to Italy. DorritMIssing and Dreaming Bk2 ChXVIII p653(1) goes to see Clennam and Co. for himself and tells Mrs. Clennam that Rigaud had been in Henry Gowan’s company in Italy. (see picture to right) Mr. Dorrit cannot get any information regarding the business Rigaud had transacted with Mr. Clennam and he goes home much disturbed by his experience.

In Chapter XVIII A Castle in the Air, young John Chivery is waiting for Mr. Dorrit when he returns from his farewell dinner at the Merdles.  John receives a shocking rather unwelcoming reaction from Mr. Dorrit who apologizes and asks after the family and gives John a cheque for 100 pounds to be distributed at the Marshalsea. Next day he left. While in Paris he buys gifts for a woman….hence building his castle in the air. Readers are left in suspense regarding the woman’s identity at the end of Issue 15.