Study Guide

Little Dorrit Book 2, Chapter 20

By Charles Dickens

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Book 2, Chapter 20

Introduces the next

  • Arthur gets off the boat at Calais, the French town across the Channel from England. There's a mob of French scam artists there, jockeying for the tourists – kind of like taxicabs at an airport.
  • He gets around them and goes to find a specific address, which apparently was found by Pancks in some of Casby's papers.
  • It's a gross, beat-up house.
  • He goes up and announces himself as Monsieur Blandois.
  • Miss Wade comes out and is shocked to see Arthur.
  • He apologizes for the false name, and she kind of half-lies about not even knowing who Blandois is, until Arthur says that he saw them talking on the street.
  • The situation is tense. Miss Wade is as cold, stone-faced, and haughty as ever, and Arthur is uncomfortable.
  • Still, he asks her if she knows anything about where Blandois might be, so that he can clear his mother's name.
  • Miss Wade mocks him and wonders what makes him think his mother doesn't have anything to do with the disappearance.
  • She is evasive and things are fishy, but basically she says she has no idea where he is and that she hasn't had any contact with him. She then tells him what she knows: he was some kind of thuggish lowlife that she hired to be "a spy who would fetch and carry for money" (2.20.47). She assumes that if he could have gotten more out of her by killing her, he wouldn't have thought twice about it.
  • Then she asks Arthur why he doesn't ask Gowan about his close friend. Arthur says Gowan has no idea where Blandois is.
  • Miss Wade then announces that she hates Gowan's wife – a lot. Like really, really hates her.
  • Then she says she has written down some of her life history for Arthur to explain what she means by hate. (Apparently it's way more than what most people mean.) Arthur takes the writing. (But seriously, who writes down a quick bio for some acquaintance to read?)
  • Then Miss Wade calls in Harriet (Tattycoram) to say hello.
  • Harriet has no info about Blandois either but asks about the Meagleses. Arthur says they are doing well, and in turns asks her if she really went by their cottage that time the servant saw her.
  • Miss Wade is all, no way!
  • But Harriet says, way. She also says that she didn't go to gloat over her old masters, but went because sometimes she misses them.
  • Miss Wade is all, you are almost a pet dog then and should go back to them if you miss their money so much.
  • She and Harriet have bitter words back and forth and both clearly just spend their days tearing each other down. It's all very dysfunctional, and it's still unclear if they are lovers, or if Harriet is now Miss Wade's adopted daughter, or servant, or what on earth is going on.
  • Arthur has had enough of them, leaves, and gets back on the boat to go back to England. On the boat, he reads the pages Miss Wade gave him.

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