Friday, September 6, 2013

Well Said: "Mr. Pancks, whose resources seemed equal to any emergency..."

I continue to be fascinated by how sharply Charles Dickens can draw minor characters. Mr. Pancks is one that I really enjoy as I work my way slowly through Little Dorrit. He is immensely practical and I really love the way he handles Mr. F's Aunt in this scene. She obviously has some form of senile dementia and he is completely unflustered while surprising the reader (or at least me) with his solution.
“Therefore Flora said, though still not without a certain boastfulness and triumph in her legacy, that Mr F.'s Aunt was 'very lively to-day, and she thought they had better go.' But Mr F.'s Aunt proved so lively as to take the suggestion in unexpected dudgeon and declare that she would not go; adding, with several injurious expressions, that if 'He'--too evidently meaning Clennam--wanted to get rid of her, 'let him chuck her out of winder;' and urgently expressing her desire to see 'Him' perform that ceremony.

In this dilemma, Mr Pancks, whose resources appeared equal to any emergency in the Patriarchal waters, slipped on his hat, slipped out at the counting-house door, and slipped in again a moment afterwards with an artificial freshness upon him, as if he had been in the country for some weeks. 'Why, bless my heart, ma'am!' said Mr Pancks, rubbing up his hair in great astonishment, 'is that you?

How do you do, ma'am? You are looking charming to-day! I am delighted to see you. Favour me with your arm, ma'am; we'll have a little walk together, you and me, if you'll honour me with your company.' And so escorted Mr F.'s Aunt down the private staircase of the counting-house with great gallantry and success.
Charles Dickens, Little Dorrit

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