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8 of Fire - Casby & Pancks


Christopher Casby; Pancks.


Little Dorrit

      At the outset of Little Dorrit, it is fairly clear that Flora Finching's soft-spoken father, Mr. Casby, is a dear sweet older gentleman of respectable standing. A man in his employ, however, who speaks with him in low whispers, is something of a monster. As rent collector for an area of houses known as Bleeding Heart Yard, owned by Mr. Casby, Pancks is cruel and heartless to its poor inhabitants.


 As the book progresses, however, the reader discovers that what they thought to be true is something quite other – the exact opposite in fact. It is gentle respectable Mr. Casby who is heartless, putting the screws to Pancks to extort every last penny from his hapless tenants. Mr. Pancks, for his part, detests the old man and, resenting the position he's placed in, stages an open revolt against the two-faced crook. Here, in Bleeding Heart Yard, in front of all the mistreated denizens he was pressured to hassle and harangue, Pancks unmasks Mr. Casby for the under-handed for-flushing slum landlord he really is.


 Pancks, it turns out, is inquisitive and something of an amateur detective. Although a minor character, he is instrumental in helping Arthur Clennam discover the inheritance owing to Little Dorrit and her father. This in turn facilitates the Dorrit family's release from Marshalsea Prison, which itself goes some way in securing Amy Dorrit's gratitude and respect for Arthur Clennam. Pancks also helps his friend Arthur Clennam with the operation of his enterprise Clennam & Doyce. His ingenuity and pragmatism can be seen in an episode where he deals with Flora Finching's demented and sometimes troublesome aunt, Mrs. F. To spite Mr. Clennam, Mrs. F refuses to leave the house, at which Mr. Pancks slips out and returns a moment later as though just returned from a refreshing sojourn in the country. With an air of unassailable charm, he asks to escort Mrs. F on a postprandial walk - a chivalrous offer the addled lady would never dream of refusing.


 As with all the other characters in the book, save Little Dorrit herself, Pancks is not above falling victim to Mr. Merdle's financial schemes. The implication then, here in the 8 of Fire card, is less one of discernment or refinement as it is one of agency which accomplishes change, activity which separates the wheat from the chaff, and the answering of opportunity when it knocks.



Shorthand : Sudden turn around - startling outcome - much movement - crude but effective - the acceleration of facility - striking while the iron's hot - a certain courage - a persistent wherewithal - a favourable go-between - great news - cutting to the chase - co-operation - refusing to be co-opted - possible journeys - impetuous perhaps - rushing headlong - not so much success itself, but the how to's and wherefores of something finally succeeding.

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