She beheld the extraordinary spectacle of Mr. Fledgeby in his shirt, a pair of Turkish trousers, and a Turkish cap, rolling over and over on his own carpet, and spluttering wonderfully (p. 305) —​James Mahoney's fifty-second illustration for Dickens's Our Mutual Friend, Household Edition, 1875, has the same lengthy caption in both the New York and London printings. Wood engraving by the Dalziels, 9.3 cm high x 13.3 cm wide. The composite wood-engraving concerns the aftermath of Alfred Lammles' thrashing Fascination Fledgeby for seizing his furniture for debt, and thereby driving the Lammles out of London. Jenny in this comic subplot experiences an epiphany as she discerns that Riah is no "wolf" and that Fledgeby ("Little Eyes") is the evil genius of Pubsey & Co.

Scanned image and text by Philip V. Allingham. [You may use this image without prior permission for any scholarly or educational purpose as long as you (1) credit the person who scanned the image and (2) link your document to this URL.]

Passage Realised

"Is your business done, Alfred?" inquired the lady.

"Very thoroughly done," replied the gentleman, as he took his hat from her.

"You can go up to Mr. Fledgeby as soon as you like," said the lady, moving haughtily away.

"Oh! And you can take these three pieces of stick with you," added the gentleman politely, 'and say, if you please, that they come from Mr. Alfred Lammle, with his compliments on leaving England. Mr. Alfred Lammle. Be so good as not to forget the name."

The three pieces of stick were three broken and frayed fragments of a stout lithe cane. Miss Jenny taking them wonderingly, and the gentleman repeating with a grin, "Mr. Alfred Lammle, if you'll be so good. Compliments, on leaving England," the lady and gentleman walked away quite deliberately, and Miss Jenny and her crutch-stick went up stairs. "Lammle, Lammle, Lammle?" Miss Jenny repeated as she panted from stair to stair, "where have I heard that name? Lammle, Lammle? I know! Saint Mary Axe!"

With a gleam of new intelligence in her sharp face, the dolls' dressmaker pulled at Fledgeby's bell. No one answered; but, from within the chambers, there proceeded a continuous spluttering sound of a highly singular and unintelligible nature.

"Good gracious! Is Little Eyes choking?' cried Miss Jenny.

Pulling at the bell again and getting no reply, she pushed the outer door, and found it standing ajar. No one being visible on her opening it wider, and the spluttering continuing, she took the liberty of opening an inner door, and then beheld the extraordinary spectacle of Mr. Fledgeby in a shirt, a pair of Turkish trousers, and a Turkish cap, rolling over and over on his own carpet, and spluttering wonderfully.

"Oh Lord!' gasped Mr Fledgeby. "Oh my eye! Stop thief! I am strangling. Fire! Oh my eye! A glass of water. Give me a glass of water. Shut the door. Murder! Oh Lord!" And then rolled and spluttered more than ever.

Hurrying into another room, Miss Jenny got a glass of water, and brought it for Fledgeby's relief: who, gasping, spluttering, and rattling in his throat betweenwhiles, drank some water, and laid his head faintly on her arm. — Book Four, Chapter 8, "A Few Grains of Pepper," p. 304.

Commentary: Jenny Wren and Fascination Fledgeby

As is the case with the serious plot involving Headstone, Wrayburn, and Lizzie Hexam, in this comic subplot involving the Lammles, Fledgeby, Riah, and Jenny Wren, Mahoney does not attempt to describe the assault itself, but jumps ahead to the consequences of the violence, with the broken cane lying at Jenny's feet and Fledgeby in his Turkish lounging suit curled up on the floor, a getup which Mahoney has already described in It was an edifying spectacle, the young man in his easy-chair taking his coffee, and the old man, with his grey head bent, standing awaiting his pleasure (p. 182), in the first chapter, "Lodgers in Queer Street," in the third book, "A Long Lane," also set in Fledgeby's bachelor rooms in The Albany. The comic illustration continues the textual motifs of imposture, deceit, and (ultimately) poetic justice as the fourth book brings the various strands of the plot to resolution. There is no counterpart to this illustration in the original serial sequence by Marcus Stone in 1864-65, for Stone jumps ahead to the October 1865 scene in Chapter Nine, "Two Places Vacated," when, having buried her father, Jenny has another idea to "fix," namely making a doll clergyman for a dolls' wedding, as she explains to her adoptive father, Riah.

The sequence begins with Fledgeby's visiting Jenny Wren in her workshop. Offering her remnants gratis if she can provide him with information about Lizzie Hexam's whereabouts, he invites her to visit him at his bachelor rooms in the Albany, Piccadilly. Since she has dolls to deliver in nearby Bond Street, she agrees to visit him the next morning, after breakfast. Upon her arrival, she encounters Sophronia Lemmle, holding her husband's hat, and then Alfred Lammle himself, descending the stairs in a self-satisfied manner, for he has just thrashed the money-lender responsible for his recent reversals, Fascination Fledgeby.

The crippled but knowing child with adult responsibilities becomes a "good witch" and an agent of Providence as she chastizes and punishes the usurer and deceiver by putting pepper in his vinegar plasters. Her comic chastisement of the poser indicates that she has realised that it has been Fledgeby rather than Riah who has been the real power behind Pubsey & Co. When she and Riah return to her lodgings, she finds her errant, alcoholic father dead, probably of alcohol poisoning.

Jenny Wren and Fledgeby illustrations in the original and later editions, 1865-67

Left: Sol Eytinge, Junior's dual character study of the staff of Pubsey & Co., Fledgeby and Riah (1867). Centre: Marcus Stone's October 1864 serial illustration of Fanny Cleaver admonishing her dissolute father, The Person of the House and The Bad Child.​ Right: Marcus Stone's March 1865 serial illustration of Trying on for the Doll's Dressmaker, in which the illustrator shows Jenny Wren's "principle" in operation. [Click on images to enlarge them.]

Above: Marcus Stone's interpretation of Jenny's regarding Riah as a kindred spirit after she has learned the truth about Pubsey & Co., and after Riah has been discharged by Fledgeby, Miss Wren fixes her Idea (October 1865). [Click on the image to enlarge it.]


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Last modified 13 January 2016