When we came home we found that a young man had called three times in the course of that one day to see me and that having been told on the occasion of his third call that I was not expected to return before ten o'clock at night, he had left word that he would call about then. He had left his card three times. Mr. Guppy.
As I naturally speculated on the object of these visits, and as I always associated something ludicrous with the visitor, it fell out that in laughing about Mr. Guppy I told my guardian of his old proposal and his subsequent retraction. "After that," said my guardian, "we will certainly receive this hero." So instructions were given that Mr. Guppy should be shown in when he came again, and they were scarcely given when he did come again.
He was embarrassed when he found my guardian with me, but recovered himself and said, "How de do, sir?"
"How do you do, sir?" returned my guardian.
"Thank you, sir, I am tolerable," returned Mr. Guppy. "Will you allow me to introduce my mother, Mrs. Guppy of the Old Street Road, and my particular friend, Mr. Weevle. That is to say, my friend has gone by the name of Weevle, but his name is really and truly Jobling."
My guardian begged them to be seated, and they all sat down.
"Tony," said Mr. Guppy to his friend after an awkward silence. "Will you open the case?"
"Do it yourself," returned the friend rather tartly.
"Well, Mr. Jarndyce, sir," Mr. Guppy, after a moment's consideration, began, to the great diversion of his mother, which she displayed by nudging Mr. Jobling with her elbow and winking at me in a most remarkable manner, "I had an idea that I should see Miss Summerson by herself and was not quite prepared for your esteemed presence. But Miss Summerson has mentioned to you, perhaps, that something has passed between us on former occasions?"
"Miss Summerson," returned my guardian, smiling, "has made a communication to that effect to me."
"That," said Mr. Guppy, "makes matters easier. Sir, I have come out of my articles at Kenge and Carboy's, and I believe with satisfaction to all parties. I am now admitted (after undergoing an examination that's enough to badger a man blue, touching a pack of nonsense that he don't want to know) on the roll of attorneys and have taken out my certificate, if it would be any satisfaction to you to see it."
"Thank you, Mr. Guppy," returned my guardian. "I am quite willing — I believe I use a legal phrase — to admit the certificate."
Mr. Guppy therefore desisted from taking something out of his pocket and proceeded without it.
"I have no capital myself, but my mother has a little property which takes the form of an annuity" — here Mr. Guppy's mother rolled her head as if she never could sufficiently enjoy the observation, and put her handkerchief to her mouth, and again winked at me — "and a few pounds for expenses out of pocket in conducting business will never be wanting, free of interest, which is an advantage, you know," said Mr. Guppy feelingly.
"Certainly an advantage," returned my guardian.
"I HAVE some connexion," pursued Mr. Guppy, "and it lays in the direction of Walcot Square, Lambeth. I have therefore taken a 'ouse in that locality, which, in the opinion of my friends, is a hollow bargain (taxes ridiculous, and use of fixtures included in the rent), and intend setting up professionally for myself there forthwith."
Here Mr. Guppy's mother fell into an extraordinary passion of rolling her head and smiling waggishly at anybody who would look at her.
"It's a six-roomer, exclusive of kitchens," said Mr. Guppy, "and in the opinion of my friends, a commodious tenement. When I mention my friends, I refer principally to my friend Jobling, who I believe has known me," Mr. Guppy looked at him with a sentimental air, "from boyhood's hour."
Mr. Jobling confirmed this with a sliding movement of his legs.
"My friend Jobling will render me his assistance in the capacity of clerk and will live in the 'ouse," said Mr. Guppy. "My mother will likewise live in the 'ouse when her present quarter in the Old Street Road shall have ceased and expired; and consequently there will be no want of society. My friend Jobling is naturally aristocratic by taste, and besides being acquainted with the movements of the upper circles, fully backs me in the intentions I am now developing."
Mr. Jobling said "Certainly" and withdrew a little from the elbow of Mr Guppy's mother.
"Now, I have no occasion to mention to you, sir, you being in the confidence of Miss Summerson," said Mr. Guppy, "(mother, I wish you'd be so good as to keep still), that Miss Summerson's image was formerly imprinted on my 'eart and that I made her a proposal of marriage."
"That I have heard," returned my guardian.
"Circumstances," pursued Mr. Guppy, "over which I had no control, but quite the contrary, weakened the impression of that image for a time. At which time Miss Summerson's conduct was highly genteel; I may even add, magnanimous."
My guardian patted me on the shoulder and seemed much amused.
"Now, sir," said Mr. Guppy, "I have got into that state of mind myself that I wish for a reciprocity of magnanimous behaviour. I wish to prove to Miss Summerson that I can rise to a heighth of which perhaps she hardly thought me capable. I find that the image which I did suppose had been eradicated from my 'eart is NOT eradicated. Its influence over me is still tremenjous, and yielding to it, I am willing to overlook the circumstances over which none of us have had any control and to renew those proposals to Miss Summerson which I had the honour to make at a former period. I beg to lay the 'ouse in Walcot Square, the business, and myself before Miss Summerson for her acceptance."
"Very magnanimous indeed, sir," observed my guardian.
"Well, sir," replied Mr. Guppy with candour, "my wish is to BE magnanimous. I do not consider that in making this offer to Miss Summerson I am by any means throwing myself away; neither is that the opinion of my friends. Still, there are circumstances which I submit may be taken into account as a set off against any little drawbacks of mine, and so a fair and equitable balance arrived at."
"I take upon myself, sir," said my guardian, laughing as he rang the bell, "to reply to your proposals on behalf of Miss Summerson. She is very sensible of your handsome intentions, and wishes you good evening, and wishes you well."
"Oh!" said Mr. Guppy with a blank look. "Is that tantamount, sir, to acceptance, or rejection, or consideration?"
"To decided rejection, if you please," returned my guardian.
Mr. Guppy looked incredulously at his friend, and at his mother, who suddenly turned very angry, and at the floor, and at the ceiling.