'And now you see me, my boy,' said Mr Meagles, shaking him by the hand stoutly; 'and now you shall have any explanation and every explanation. The fact is, I was here--came straight to you from the Allongers and Marshongers, or I should be ashamed to look you in the face this day,--but you were not in company trim at the moment, and I had to start off again to catch Doyce.'
'Poor Doyce!' sighed Arthur.
'Don't call him names that he don't deserve,' said Mr Meagles.
'He's not poor; he's doing well enough. Doyce is a wonderful fellow over there. I assure you he is making out his case like a house a-fire. He has fallen on his legs, has Dan. Where they don't want things done and find a man to do 'em, that man's off his legs; but where they do want things done and find a man to do 'em, that man's on his legs. You won't have occasion to trouble the Circumlocution Office any more. Let me tell you, Dan has done without 'em!'
'What a load you take from my mind!' cried Arthur. 'What happiness you give me!'
'Happiness?' retorted Mr Meagles. 'Don't talk about happiness till you see Dan. I assure you Dan is directing works and executing labours over yonder, that it would make your hair stand on end to look at. He's no public offender, bless you, now! He's medalled and ribboned, and starred and crossed, and I don't-know-what all'd, like a born nobleman. But we mustn't talk about that over here.'
'Oh, egad!' said Mr Meagles, shaking his head very seriously, 'he must hide all those things under lock and key when he comes over here. They won't do over here. In that particular, Britannia is a Britannia in the Manger--won't give her children such distinctions herself, and won't allow them to be seen when they are given by other countries. No, no, Dan!' said Mr Meagles, shaking his head again. 'That won't do here!'
'If you had brought me (except for Doyce's sake) twice what I have lost,' cried Arthur, 'you would not have given me the pleasure that you give me in this news.' 'Why, of course, of course,' assented Mr Meagles. 'Of course I know that, my good fellow, and therefore I come out with it in the first burst. Now, to go back, about catching Doyce. I caught Doyce. Ran against him among a lot of those dirty brown dogs in women's nightcaps a great deal too big for 'em, calling themselves Arabs and all sorts of incoherent races. YOU know 'em! Well! He was coming straight to me, and I was going to him, and so we came back together.'
'Doyce in England!' exclaimed Arthur.
'There!' said Mr Meagles, throwing open his arms. 'I am the worst man in the world to manage a thing of this sort. I don't know what I should have done if I had been in the diplomatic line--right, perhaps! The long and short of it is, Arthur, we have both been in England this fortnight. And if you go on to ask where Doyce is at the present moment, why, my plain answer is--here he is! And now I can breathe again at last!'
Doyce darted in from behind the door, caught Arthur by both hands, and said the rest for himself.
'There are only three branches of my subject, my dear Clennam,' said Doyce, proceeding to mould them severally, with his plastic thumb, on the palm of his hand, 'and they're soon disposed of. First, not a word more from you about the past. There was an error in your calculations. I know what that is.