Dickens Update 21; Book 2: Issue 18

In Chapter XXVII, The Pupil of the Marshalsea, changes are taking place in Arthur’s vision of the world: “…it was not remarkable that everything his memory turned upon should should bring him round again to Little Dorrit.” “Until it seemed to him as if he met the reward of having wandered away from her, and suffered anything to come between him and his remembrance of her virtue.” John Chivery brings Arthur some furniture and invites him for tea in his (John’s) own apartment.
See picture to the right.Mr John Chivery's tea table Bk 2 ChXXVIII p752 Gradually John reveals how Arthur has brought back his memories of Amy and eventually he and Arthur sort things out. John explains that he has done what he has for Arthur because of his feelings for Amy. Arthur admits to not knowing that Amy loved him and his reaction is that of “a man who has been awakened from sleep, and stupified by intelligence beyond his full comprehension. ” Back in his room Arthur finds this love “more bewildering to him than is misery, far.”

An entertaining tibbit from Dickens: “It further happened that Mrs. Plornnish, not being philosophical, was intelligible.”

The Plornishes verify what John Chivery had told Arthur about Amy’s love for him.

In Chapter XXVIII, An Appearance in the Marshalsea, Arthur has a visit from a Barnacle who asks him not to come back and bother the folks at the Circumlocution Office and also discusses Mr. Merdle and how someone else will soon come along and repeat Mr. Merdle’s fiasco. Then Mr. Rugg drops in on Arthur and, later, Mr. Cavelletto (Jean Baptist) along with Pancks and a mysterious “military” man( Rigaud-Lagnier-Blandois).Inthe Old Room Bk2 ChXXVIIIp772 Arthur insists Rigaud explain what he has been up to and Rigaud insists on a bottle of wine which Pancks gets. Rigaud will not tell his specific business but sends a note to Mrs. Clennam who agrees to meet him in a week’s time. Rigaud will stay in a hotel with Cavelletto to guard him.  Arthur feels worse than ever.

In Chapter XXIX, A Plea in the Marshalsea, Arthur experiences  “an agonised impatience with the prison” and “felt it a labor to draw his breath in it”. This changed to “a desolate calm” and “settled down in the despondency of a low, slow fever.” While he is in a serious deteriorated state, Little Dorrit visits. She has brought Maggy with her. Amy had just returned the previous day and enquired of Mrs. Plornish about Arthur. He tells her he has “thought of you, Little Dorrit, every day, every hour, every minute since” he has been in the Marshalsea. Amy fixes up the room, sends Maggy for more provisions and sets about making the room a curtain. Amy offer him the money she will inherit but he cannot accept. John come to check on Arthur in the night and to tell him he had escorted Amy to her hotel. He had promised Amy to care for Arthur and passed him a message the gist of which was that she sent her “undying love”. A delightful ending for Issue 18 and, of course, leaves the reader wanting even more resolution.