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DAVID COPPERFIELD

by CHARLES DICKENS


AFFECTIONATELY INSCRIBED TO
THE HON. Mr. AND Mrs. RICHARD WATSON
OF ROCKINGHAMNORTHAMPTONSHIRE.


CONTENTS


I. I Am Born
II. I Observe
III. I Have a Change
IV. I Fall into Disgrace
V. I Am Sent Away
VI. I Enlarge My Circle of Acquaintance
VII. My 'First Half' at Salem House
VIII. My Holidays. Especially One Happy Afternoon
IX. I Have a Memorable Birthday
X. I Become Neglectedand Am Provided For
XI. I Begin Life on My Own Accountand Don't Like It
XII. Liking Life on My Own Account No BetterI Form a Great Resolution
XIII. The Sequel of My Resolution
XIV. My Aunt Makes up Her Mind About Me
XV. I Make Another Beginning
XVI. I Am a New Boy in More Senses Than One
XVII. Somebody Turns Up
XVIII. A Retrospect
XIX. I Look About Me and Make a Discovery
XX. Steerforth's Home
XXI. Little Em'ly
XXII. Some Old Scenesand Some New People
XXIII. I Corroborate Mr. Dickand Choose a Profession
XXIV. My First Dissipation
XXV. Good and Bad Angels
XXVI. I Fall into Captivity
XXVII. Tommy Traddles
XXVIII. Mr. Micawber's Gauntlet
XXIX. I Visit Steerforth at His HomeAgain
XXX. A Loss
XXXI. A Greater Loss
XXXII. The Beginning of a Long Journey
XXXIII. Blissful
XXXIV. My Aunt Astonishes Me
XXXV. Depression
XXXVI. Enthusiasm
XXXVII. A Little Cold Water
XXXVIII. A Dissolution of Partnership
XXXIX. Wickfield and Heep
XL. The Wanderer
XLI. Dora's Aunts
XLII. Mischief
XLIII. Another Retrospect

XLIV. Our Housekeeping
XLV. Mr. Dick Fulfils My Aunt's Predictions
XLVI. Intelligence
XLVII. Martha
XLVIII. Domestic
XLIX. I Am Involved in Mystery
L. Mr. Peggotty's Dream Comes True
LI. The Beginning of a Longer Journey
LII. I Assist at an Explosion
LIII. Another Retrospect
LIV. Mr. Micawber's Transactions
LV. Tempest
LVI. The New Woundand the Old
LVII. The Emigrants
LVIII. Absence
LIX. Return
LX. Agnes
LXI. I Am Shown Two Interesting Penitents
LXII. A Light Shines on My Way
LXIII. A Visitor
LXIV. A Last Retrospect
PREFACE TO 1850 EDITION

I do not find it easy to get sufficiently far away from this Book
in the first sensations of having finished itto refer to it with
the composure which this formal heading would seem to require. My
interest in itis so recent and strong; and my mind is so divided
between pleasure and regret - pleasure in the achievement of a long
designregret in the separation from many companions - that I am
in danger of wearying the reader whom I lovewith personal
confidencesand private emotions.

Besides whichall that I could say of the Storyto any purpose
I have endeavoured to say in it.

It would concern the reader littleperhapsto knowhow
sorrowfully the pen is laid down at the close of a two-years'
imaginative task; or how an Author feels as if he were dismissing
some portion of himself into the shadowy worldwhen a crowd of the
creatures of his brain are going from him for ever. YetI have
nothing else to tell; unlessindeedI were to confess (which
might be of less moment still) that no one can ever believe this
Narrativein the readingmore than I have believed it in the
writing.

Instead of looking backthereforeI will look forward. I cannot
close this Volume more agreeably to myselfthan with a hopeful
glance towards the time when I shall again put forth my two green
leaves once a monthand with a faithful remembrance of the genial
sun and showers that have fallen on these leaves of David
Copperfieldand made me happy.

LondonOctober1850.

PREFACE TO
THE CHARLES DICKENS EDITION

I REMARKED in the original Preface to this Bookthat I did not


find it easy to get sufficiently far away from itin the first
sensations of having finished itto refer to it with the composure
which this formal heading would seem to require. My interest in it
was so recent and strongand my mind was so divided between
pleasure and regret - pleasure in the achievement of a long design
regret in the separation from many companions - that I was in
danger of wearying the reader with personal confidences and private
emotions.

Besides whichall that I could have said of the Story to any
purposeI had endeavoured to say in it.

It would concern the reader littleperhapsto know how
sorrowfully the pen is laid down at the close of a two-years'
imaginative task; or how an Author feels as if he were dismissing
some portion of himself into the shadowy worldwhen a crowd of the
creatures of his brain are going from him for ever. YetI had
nothing else to tell; unlessindeedI were to confess (which
might be of less moment still)that no one can ever believe this
Narrativein the readingmore than I believed it in the writing.

So true are these avowals at the present daythat I can now only
take the reader into one confidence more. Of all my booksI like
this the best. It will be easily believed that I am a fond parent
to every child of my fancyand that no one can ever love that
family as dearly as I love them. Butlike many fond parentsI
have in my heart of hearts a favourite child. And his name is
DAVID COPPERFIELD.

1869

THE PERSONAL HISTORY AND
EXPERIENCE OF
DAVID COPPERFIELD THE YOUNGER

CHAPTER 1
I AM BORN

Whether I shall turn out to be the hero of my own lifeor whether
that station will be held by anybody elsethese pages must show.
To begin my life with the beginning of my lifeI record that I was
born (as I have been informed and believe) on a Fridayat twelve
o'clock at night. It was remarked that the clock began to strike
and I began to crysimultaneously.

In consideration of the day and hour of my birthit was declared
by the nurseand by some sage women in the neighbourhood who had
taken a lively interest in me several months before there was any
possibility of our becoming personally acquaintedfirstthat I
was destined to be unlucky in life; and secondlythat I was
privileged to see ghosts and spirits; both these gifts inevitably
attachingas they believedto all unlucky infants of either
genderborn towards the small hours on a Friday night.

I need say nothing hereon the first headbecause nothing can
show better than my history whether that prediction was verified or
falsified by the result. On the second branch of the questionI
will only remarkthat unless I ran through that part of my


inheritance while I was still a babyI have not come into it yet.
But I do not at all complain of having been kept out of this
property; and if anybody else should be in the present enjoyment of
ithe is heartily welcome to keep it.

I was born with a caulwhich was advertised for salein the
newspapersat the low price of fifteen guineas. Whether sea-going
people were short of money about that timeor were short of faith
and preferred cork jacketsI don't know; all I know isthat there
was but one solitary biddingand that was from an attorney
connected with the bill-broking businesswho offered two pounds in
cashand the balance in sherrybut declined to be guaranteed from
drowning on any higher bargain. Consequently the advertisement was
withdrawn at a dead loss - for as to sherrymy poor dear mother's
own sherry was in the market then - and ten years afterwardsthe
caul was put up in a raffle down in our part of the countryto
fifty members at half-a-crown a headthe winner to spend five
shillings. I was present myselfand I remember to have felt quite
uncomfortable and confusedat a part of myself being disposed of
in that way. The caul was wonI recollectby an old lady with a
hand-basketwhovery reluctantlyproduced from it the stipulated
five shillingsall in halfpenceand twopence halfpenny short - as
it took an immense time and a great waste of arithmeticto
endeavour without any effect to prove to her. It is a fact which
will be long remembered as remarkable down therethat she was
never drownedbut died triumphantly in bedat ninety-two. I have
understood that it wasto the lasther proudest boastthat she
never had been on the water in her lifeexcept upon a bridge; and
that over her tea (to which she was extremely partial) sheto the
lastexpressed her indignation at the impiety of mariners and
otherswho had the presumption to go 'meandering' about the world.
It was in vain to represent to her that some conveniencestea
perhaps includedresulted from this objectionable practice. She
always returnedwith greater emphasis and with an instinctive
knowledge of the strength of her objection'Let us have no
meandering.'

Not to meander myselfat presentI will go back to my birth.

I was born at Blunderstonein Suffolkor 'there by'as they say
in Scotland. I was a posthumous child. My father's eyes had
closed upon the light of this world six monthswhen mine opened on
it. There is something strange to meeven nowin the reflection
that he never saw me; and something stranger yet in the shadowy
remembrance that I have of my first childish associations with his
white grave-stone in the churchyardand of the indefinable
compassion I used to feel for it lying out alone there in the dark
nightwhen our little parlour was warm and bright with fire and
candleand the doors of our house were - almost cruellyit seemed
to me sometimes - bolted and locked against it.

An aunt of my father'sand consequently a great-aunt of mineof
whom I shall have more to relate by and bywas the principal
magnate of our family. Miss Trotwoodor Miss Betseyas my poor
mother always called herwhen she sufficiently overcame her dread
of this formidable personage to mention her at all (which was
seldom)had been married to a husband younger than herselfwho
was very handsomeexcept in the sense of the homely adage
'handsome isthat handsome does' - for he was strongly suspected
of having beaten Miss Betseyand even of having onceon a
disputed question of suppliesmade some hasty but determined
arrangements to throw her out of a two pair of stairs' window.
These evidences of an incompatibility of temper induced Miss Betsey
to pay him offand effect a separation by mutual consent. He went


to India with his capitaland thereaccording to a wild legend in
our familyhe was once seen riding on an elephantin company with
a Baboon; but I think it must have been a Baboo - or a Begum.
Anyhowfrom India tidings of his death reached homewithin ten
years. How they affected my auntnobody knew; for immediately
upon the separationshe took her maiden name againbought a
cottage in a hamlet on the sea-coast a long way offestablished
herself there as a single woman with one servantand was
understood to live secludedever afterwardsin an inflexible
retirement.

My father had once been a favourite of hersI believe; but she was
mortally affronted by his marriageon the ground that my mother
was 'a wax doll'. She had never seen my motherbut she knew her
to be not yet twenty. My father and Miss Betsey never met again.
He was double my mother's age when he marriedand of but a
delicate constitution. He died a year afterwardsandas I have
saidsix months before I came into the world.

This was the state of matterson the afternoon ofwhat I may be
excused for callingthat eventful and important Friday. I can
make no claim therefore to have knownat that timehow matters
stood; or to have any remembrancefounded on the evidence of my
own sensesof what follows.

My mother was sitting by the firebut poorly in healthand very
low in spiritslooking at it through her tearsand desponding
heavily about herself and the fatherless little strangerwho was
already welcomed by some grosses of prophetic pinsin a drawer
upstairsto a world not at all excited on the subject of his
arrival; my motherI saywas sitting by the firethat bright
windy March afternoonvery timid and sadand very doubtful of
ever coming alive out of the trial that was before herwhen
lifting her eyes as she dried themto the window oppositeshe saw
a strange lady coming up the garden.

MY mother had a sure foreboding at the second glancethat it was
Miss Betsey. The setting sun was glowing on the strange ladyover
the garden-fenceand she came walking up to the door with a fell
rigidity of figure and composure of countenance that could have
belonged to nobody else.

When she reached the houseshe gave another proof of her identity.
My father had often hinted that she seldom conducted herself like
any ordinary Christian; and nowinstead of ringing the bellshe
came and looked in at that identical windowpressing the end of
her nose against the glass to that extentthat my poor dear mother
used to say it became perfectly flat and white in a moment.

She gave my mother such a turnthat I have always been convinced
I am indebted to Miss Betsey for having been born on a Friday.

My mother had left her chair in her agitationand gone behind it
in the corner. Miss Betseylooking round the roomslowly and
inquiringlybegan on the other sideand carried her eyes onlike
a Saracen's Head in a Dutch clockuntil they reached my mother.
Then she made a frown and a gesture to my motherlike one who was
accustomed to be obeyedto come and open the door. My mother
went.

'Mrs. David CopperfieldI think' said Miss Betsey; the emphasis
referringperhapsto my mother's mourning weedsand her
condition.


'Yes' said my motherfaintly.


'Miss Trotwood' said the visitor. 'You have heard of herI dare
say?'


My mother answered she had had that pleasure. And she had a
disagreeable consciousness of not appearing to imply that it had
been an overpowering pleasure.


'Now you see her' said Miss Betsey. My mother bent her headand
begged her to walk in.


They went into the parlour my mother had come fromthe fire in the
best room on the other side of the passage not being lighted - not
having been lightedindeedsince my father's funeral; and when
they were both seatedand Miss Betsey said nothingmy mother
after vainly trying to restrain herselfbegan to cry.
'Oh tuttuttut!' said Miss Betseyin a hurry. 'Don't do that!
Comecome!'


My mother couldn't help it notwithstandingso she cried until she
had had her cry out.


'Take off your capchild' said Miss Betsey'and let me see you.'


MY mother was too much afraid of her to refuse compliance with this
odd requestif she had any disposition to do so. Therefore she
did as she was toldand did it with such nervous hands that her
hair (which was luxuriant and beautiful) fell all about her face.


'Whybless my heart!' exclaimed Miss Betsey. 'You are a very
Baby!'


My mother wasno doubtunusually youthful in appearance even for
her years; she hung her headas if it were her faultpoor thing
and saidsobbingthat indeed she was afraid she was but a
childish widowand would be but a childish mother if she lived.
In a short pause which ensuedshe had a fancy that she felt Miss
Betsey touch her hairand that with no ungentle hand; butlooking
at herin her timid hopeshe found that lady sitting with the
skirt of her dress tucked upher hands folded on one kneeand her
feet upon the fenderfrowning at the fire.


'In the name of Heaven' said Miss Betseysuddenly'why Rookery?'


'Do you mean the housema'am?' asked my mother.


'Why Rookery?' said Miss Betsey. 'Cookery would have been more to
the purposeif you had had any practical ideas of lifeeither of
you.'


'The name was Mr. Copperfield's choice' returned my mother. 'When
he bought the househe liked to think that there were rooks about
it.'


The evening wind made such a disturbance just nowamong some tall
old elm-trees at the bottom of the gardenthat neither my mother
nor Miss Betsey could forbear glancing that way. As the elms bent
to one anotherlike giants who were whispering secretsand after
a few seconds of such reposefell into a violent flurrytossing
their wild arms aboutas if their late confidences were really too
wicked for their peace of mindsome weatherbeaten ragged old
rooks'-nestsburdening their higher branchesswung like wrecks
upon a stormy sea.



'Where are the birds?' asked Miss Betsey.

'The -? ' My mother had been thinking of something else.

'The rooks - what has become of them?' asked Miss Betsey.

'There have not been any since we have lived here' said my mother.
'We thought - Mr. Copperfield thought - it was quite a large
rookery; but the nests were very old onesand the birds have
deserted them a long while.'

'David Copperfield all over!' cried Miss Betsey. 'David
Copperfield from head to foot! Calls a house a rookery when
there's not a rook near itand takes the birds on trustbecause
he sees the nests!'

'Mr. Copperfield' returned my mother'is deadand if you dare to
speak unkindly of him to me -'

My poor dear motherI supposehad some momentary intention of
committing an assault and battery upon my auntwho could easily
have settled her with one handeven if my mother had been in far
better training for such an encounter than she was that evening.
But it passed with the action of rising from her chair; and she sat
down again very meeklyand fainted.

When she came to herselfor when Miss Betsey had restored her
whichever it wasshe found the latter standing at the window. The
twilight was by this time shading down into darkness; and dimly as
they saw each otherthey could not have done that without the aid
of the fire.

'Well?' said Miss Betseycoming back to her chairas if she had
only been taking a casual look at the prospect; 'and when do you
expect -'

'I am all in a tremble' faltered my mother. 'I don't know what's
the matter. I shall dieI am sure!'

'Nonono' said Miss Betsey. 'Have some tea.'

'Oh dear medear medo you think it will do me any good?' cried
my mother in a helpless manner.

'Of course it will' said Miss Betsey. 'It's nothing but fancy.
What do you call your girl?'

'I don't know that it will be a girlyetma'am' said my mother
innocently.

'Bless the Baby!' exclaimed Miss Betseyunconsciously quoting the
second sentiment of the pincushion in the drawer upstairsbut
applying it to my mother instead of me'I don't mean that. I mean
your servant-girl.'

'Peggotty' said my mother.

'Peggotty!' repeated Miss Betseywith some indignation. 'Do you
mean to saychildthat any human being has gone into a Christian
churchand got herself named Peggotty?'
'It's her surname' said my motherfaintly. 'Mr. Copperfield
called her by itbecause her Christian name was the same as mine.'


'Here! Peggotty!' cried Miss Betseyopening the parlour door.
'Tea. Your mistress is a little unwell. Don't dawdle.'


Having issued this mandate with as much potentiality as if she had
been a recognized authority in the house ever since it had been a
houseand having looked out to confront the amazed Peggotty coming
along the passage with a candle at the sound of a strange voice
Miss Betsey shut the door againand sat down as before: with her
feet on the fenderthe skirt of her dress tucked upand her hands
folded on one knee.


'You were speaking about its being a girl' said Miss Betsey. 'I
have no doubt it will be a girl. I have a presentiment that it
must be a girl. Now childfrom the moment of the birth of this
girl -'


'Perhaps boy' my mother took the liberty of putting in.


'I tell you I have a presentiment that it must be a girl' returned
Miss Betsey. 'Don't contradict. From the moment of this girl's
birthchildI intend to be her friend. I intend to be her
godmotherand I beg you'll call her Betsey Trotwood Copperfield.
There must be no mistakes in life with THIS Betsey Trotwood. There
must be no trifling with HER affectionspoor dear. She must be
well brought upand well guarded from reposing any foolish
confidences where they are not deserved. I must make that MY
care.'


There was a twitch of Miss Betsey's headafter each of these
sentencesas if her own old wrongs were working within herand
she repressed any plainer reference to them by strong constraint.
So my mother suspectedat leastas she observed her by the low
glimmer of the fire: too much scared by Miss Betseytoo uneasy in
herselfand too subdued and bewildered altogetherto observe
anything very clearlyor to know what to say.


'And was David good to youchild?' asked Miss Betseywhen she had
been silent for a little whileand these motions of her head had
gradually ceased. 'Were you comfortable together?'


'We were very happy' said my mother. 'Mr. Copperfield was only
too good to me.'


'Whathe spoilt youI suppose?' returned Miss Betsey.


'For being quite alone and dependent on myself in this rough world
againyesI fear he did indeed' sobbed my mother.


'Well! Don't cry!' said Miss Betsey. 'You were not equally
matchedchild - if any two people can be equally matched - and so
I asked the question. You were an orphanweren't you?'
'Yes.'


'And a governess?'


'I was nursery-governess in a family where Mr. Copperfield came to
visit. Mr. Copperfield was very kind to meand took a great deal
of notice of meand paid me a good deal of attentionand at last
proposed to me. And I accepted him. And so we were married' said
my mother simply.


'Ha! Poor Baby!' mused Miss Betseywith her frown still bent upon
the fire. 'Do you know anything?'



'I beg your pardonma'am' faltered my mother.

'About keeping housefor instance' said Miss Betsey.

'Not muchI fear' returned my mother. 'Not so much as I could
wish. But Mr. Copperfield was teaching me -'

('Much he knew about it himself!') said Miss Betsey in a
parenthesis.

-'And I hope I should have improvedbeing very anxious to learn
and he very patient to teach meif the great misfortune of his
death' - my mother broke down again hereand could get no farther.
'Wellwell!' said Miss Betsey.

-'I kept my housekeeping-book regularlyand balanced it with Mr.
Copperfield every night' cried my mother in another burst of
distressand breaking down again.

'Wellwell!' said Miss Betsey. 'Don't cry any more.'

-'And I am sure we never had a word of difference respecting it
except when Mr. Copperfield objected to my threes and fives being
too much like each otheror to my putting curly tails to my sevens
and nines' resumed my mother in another burstand breaking down
again.
'You'll make yourself ill' said Miss Betsey'and you know that
will not be good either for you or for my god-daughter. Come! You
mustn't do it!'

This argument had some share in quieting my motherthough her
increasing indisposition had a larger one. There was an interval
of silenceonly broken by Miss Betsey's occasionally ejaculating
'Ha!' as she sat with her feet upon the fender.

'David had bought an annuity for himself with his moneyI know'
said sheby and by. 'What did he do for you?'

'Mr. Copperfield' said my motheranswering with some difficulty
'was so considerate and good as to secure the reversion of a part
of it to me.'

'How much?' asked Miss Betsey.

'A hundred and five pounds a year' said my mother.

'He might have done worse' said my aunt.

The word was appropriate to the moment. My mother was so much
worse that Peggottycoming in with the teaboard and candlesand
seeing at a glance how ill she was- as Miss Betsey might have
done sooner if there had been light enough- conveyed her upstairs
to her own room with all speed; and immediately dispatched Ham
Peggottyher nephewwho had been for some days past secreted in
the houseunknown to my motheras a special messenger in case of
emergencyto fetch the nurse and doctor.

Those allied powers were considerably astonishedwhen they arrived
within a few minutes of each otherto find an unknown lady of
portentous appearancesitting before the firewith her bonnet
tied over her left armstopping her ears with jewellers' cotton.
Peggotty knowing nothing about herand my mother saying nothing


about hershe was quite a mystery in the parlour; and the fact of
her having a magazine of jewellers' cotton in her pocketand
sticking the article in her ears in that waydid not detract from
the solemnity of her presence.

The doctor having been upstairs and come down againand having
satisfied himselfI supposethat there was a probability of this
unknown lady and himself having to sit thereface to facefor
some hourslaid himself out to be polite and social. He was the
meekest of his sexthe mildest of little men. He sidled in and
out of a roomto take up the less space. He walked as softly as
the Ghost in Hamletand more slowly. He carried his head on one
sidepartly in modest depreciation of himselfpartly in modest
propitiation of everybody else. It is nothing to say that he
hadn't a word to throw at a dog. He couldn't have thrown a word at
a mad dog. He might have offered him one gentlyor half a oneor
a fragment of one; for he spoke as slowly as he walked; but he
wouldn't have been rude to himand he couldn't have been quick
with himfor any earthly consideration.

Mr. Chilliplooking mildly at my aunt with his head on one side
and making her a little bowsaidin allusion to the jewellers'
cottonas he softly touched his left ear:

'Some local irritationma'am?'

'What!' replied my auntpulling the cotton out of one ear like a
cork.

Mr. Chillip was so alarmed by her abruptness - as he told my mother
afterwards - that it was a mercy he didn't lose his presence of
mind. But he repeated sweetly:

'Some local irritationma'am?'

'Nonsense!' replied my auntand corked herself againat one blow.

Mr. Chillip could do nothing after thisbut sit and look at her
feeblyas she sat and looked at the fireuntil he was called
upstairs again. After some quarter of an hour's absencehe
returned.

'Well?' said my aunttaking the cotton out of the ear nearest to
him.

'Wellma'am' returned Mr. Chillip'we are- we are progressing
slowlyma'am.'

'Ba--a--ah!' said my auntwith a perfect shake on the contemptuous
interjection. And corked herself as before.

Really - really - as Mr. Chillip told my motherhe was almost
shocked; speaking in a professional point of view alonehe was
almost shocked. But he sat and looked at hernotwithstandingfor
nearly two hoursas she sat looking at the fireuntil he was
again called out. After another absencehe again returned.

'Well?' said my aunttaking out the cotton on that side again.

'Wellma'am' returned Mr. Chillip'we are - we are progressing

slowlyma'am.'

'Ya--a--ah!' said my aunt. With such a snarl at himthat Mr.


Chillip absolutely could not bear it. It was really calculated to
break his spirithe said afterwards. He preferred to go and sit
upon the stairsin the dark and a strong draughtuntil he was
again sent for.

Ham Peggottywho went to the national schooland was a very
dragon at his catechismand who may therefore be regarded as a
credible witnessreported next daythat happening to peep in at
the parlour-door an hour after thishe was instantly descried by
Miss Betseythen walking to and fro in a state of agitationand
pounced upon before he could make his escape. That there were now
occasional sounds of feet and voices overhead which he inferred the
cotton did not excludefrom the circumstance of his evidently
being clutched by the lady as a victim on whom to expend her
superabundant agitation when the sounds were loudest. That
marching him constantly up and down by the collar (as if he had
been taking too much laudanum)sheat those timesshook him
rumpled his hairmade light of his linenstopped his ears as if
she confounded them with her ownand otherwise tousled and
maltreated him. This was in part confirmed by his auntwho saw
him at half past twelve o'clocksoon after his releaseand
affirmed that he was then as red as I was.

The mild Mr. Chillip could not possibly bear malice at such a time
if at any time. He sidled into the parlour as soon as he was at
libertyand said to my aunt in his meekest manner:

'Wellma'amI am happy to congratulate you.'

'What upon?' said my auntsharply.

Mr. Chillip was fluttered againby the extreme severity of my
aunt's manner; so he made her a little bow and gave her a little
smileto mollify her.

'Mercy on the manwhat's he doing!' cried my auntimpatiently.
'Can't he speak?'

'Be calmmy dear ma'am' said Mr. Chillipin his softest accents.

'There is no longer any occasion for uneasinessma'am. Be calm.'

It has since been considered almost a miracle that my aunt didn't
shake himand shake what he had to sayout of him. She only
shook her own head at himbut in a way that made him quail.

'Wellma'am' resumed Mr. Chillipas soon as he had courage'I
am happy to congratulate you. All is now overma'amand well
over.'

During the five minutes or so that Mr. Chillip devoted to the
delivery of this orationmy aunt eyed him narrowly.

'How is she?' said my auntfolding her arms with her bonnet still
tied on one of them.

'Wellma'amshe will soon be quite comfortableI hope' returned
Mr. Chillip. 'Quite as comfortable as we can expect a young mother
to beunder these melancholy domestic circumstances. There cannot
be any objection to your seeing her presentlyma'am. It may do
her good.'

'And SHE. How is SHE?' said my auntsharply.


Mr. Chillip laid his head a little more on one sideand looked at
my aunt like an amiable bird.

'The baby' said my aunt. 'How is she?'

'Ma'am' returned Mr. Chillip'I apprehended you had known. It's
a boy.'

My aunt said never a wordbut took her bonnet by the stringsin
the manner of a slingaimed a blow at Mr. Chillip's head with it
put it on bentwalked outand never came back. She vanished like
a discontented fairy; or like one of those supernatural beings
whom it was popularly supposed I was entitled to see; and never
came back any more.

No. I lay in my basketand my mother lay in her bed; but Betsey
Trotwood Copperfield was for ever in the land of dreams and
shadowsthe tremendous region whence I had so lately travelled;
and the light upon the window of our room shone out upon the
earthly bourne of all such travellersand the mound above the
ashes and the dust that once was hewithout whom I had never been.

CHAPTER 2
I OBSERVE

The first objects that assume a distinct presence before meas I
look far backinto the blank of my infancyare my mother with her
pretty hair and youthful shapeand Peggotty with no shape at all
and eyes so dark that they seemed to darken their whole
neighbourhood in her faceand cheeks and arms so hard and red that
I wondered the birds didn't peck her in preference to apples.

I believe I can remember these two at a little distance apart
dwarfed to my sight by stooping down or kneeling on the floorand
I going unsteadily from the one to the other. I have an impression
on my mind which I cannot distinguish from actual remembranceof
the touch of Peggotty's forefinger as she used to hold it out to
meand of its being roughened by needleworklike a pocket
nutmeg-grater.

This may be fancythough I think the memory of most of us can go
farther back into such times than many of us suppose; just as I
believe the power of observation in numbers of very young children
to be quite wonderful for its closeness and accuracy. IndeedI
think that most grown men who are remarkable in this respectmay
with greater propriety be said not to have lost the facultythan
to have acquired it; the ratheras I generally observe such men to
retain a certain freshnessand gentlenessand capacity of being
pleasedwhich are also an inheritance they have preserved from
their childhood.

I might have a misgiving that I am 'meandering' in stopping to say
thisbut that it brings me to remark that I build these
conclusionsin part upon my own experience of myself; and if it
should appear from anything I may set down in this narrative that
I was a child of close observationor that as a man I have a
strong memory of my childhoodI undoubtedly lay claim to both of
these characteristics.

Looking backas I was sayinginto the blank of my infancythe
first objects I can remember as standing out by themselves from a


confusion of thingsare my mother and Peggotty. What else do I
remember? Let me see.

There comes out of the cloudour house - not new to mebut quite
familiarin its earliest remembrance. On the ground-floor is
Peggotty's kitchenopening into a back yard; with a pigeon-house
on a polein the centrewithout any pigeons in it; a great dogkennel
in a cornerwithout any dog; and a quantity of fowls that
look terribly tall to mewalking aboutin a menacing and
ferocious manner. There is one cock who gets upon a post to crow
and seems to take particular notice of me as I look at him through
the kitchen windowwho makes me shiverhe is so fierce. Of the
geese outside the side-gate who come waddling after me with their
long necks stretched out when I go that wayI dream at night: as
a man environed by wild beasts might dream of lions.

Here is a long passage - what an enormous perspective I make of it!

-leading from Peggotty's kitchen to the front door. A dark
store-room opens out of itand that is a place to be run past at
night; for I don't know what may be among those tubs and jars and
old tea-chestswhen there is nobody in there with a dimly-burning
lightletting a mouldy air come out of the doorin which there is
the smell of soappicklespeppercandlesand coffeeall at one
whiff. Then there are the two parlours: the parlour in which we
sit of an eveningmy mother and I and Peggotty - for Peggotty is
quite our companionwhen her work is done and we are alone - and
the best parlour where we sit on a Sunday; grandlybut not so
comfortably. There is something of a doleful air about that room
to mefor Peggotty has told me - I don't know whenbut apparently
ages ago - about my father's funeraland the company having their
black cloaks put on. One Sunday night my mother reads to Peggotty
and me in therehow Lazarus was raised up from the dead. And I am
so frightened that they are afterwards obliged to take me out of
bedand show me the quiet churchyard out of the bedroom window
with the dead all lying in their graves at restbelow the solemn
moon.
There is nothing half so green that I know anywhereas the grass
of that churchyard; nothing half so shady as its trees; nothing
half so quiet as its tombstones. The sheep are feeding therewhen
I kneel upearly in the morningin my little bed in a closet
within my mother's roomto look out at it; and I see the red light
shining on the sun-dialand think within myself'Is the sun-dial
gladI wonderthat it can tell the time again?'

Here is our pew in the church. What a high-backed pew! With a
window near itout of which our house can be seenand IS seen
many times during the morning's serviceby Peggottywho likes to
make herself as sure as she can that it's not being robbedor is
not in flames. But though Peggotty's eye wandersshe is much
offended if mine doesand frowns to meas I stand upon the seat
that I am to look at the clergyman. But I can't always look at him

-I know him without that white thing onand I am afraid of his
wondering why I stare soand perhaps stopping the service to
inquire - and what am I to do? It's a dreadful thing to gapebut
I must do something. I look at my motherbut she pretends not to
see me. I look at a boy in the aisleand he makes faces at me.
I look at the sunlight coming in at the open door through the
porchand there I see a stray sheep - I don't mean a sinnerbut
mutton - half making up his mind to come into the church. I feel
that if I looked at him any longerI might be tempted to say
something out loud; and what would become of me then! I look up at
the monumental tablets on the walland try to think of Mr. Bodgers

late of this parishand what the feelings of Mrs. Bodgers must
have beenwhen affliction sorelong time Mr. Bodgers boreand
physicians were in vain. I wonder whether they called in Mr.
Chillipand he was in vain; and if sohow he likes to be reminded
of it once a week. I look from Mr. Chillipin his Sunday
neckclothto the pulpit; and think what a good place it would be
to play inand what a castle it would makewith another boy
coming up the stairs to attack itand having the velvet cushion
with the tassels thrown down on his head. In time my eyes
gradually shut up; andfrom seeming to hear the clergyman singing
a drowsy song in the heatI hear nothinguntil I fall off the
seat with a crashand am taken outmore dead than aliveby
Peggotty.

And now I see the outside of our housewith the latticed
bedroom-windows standing open to let in the sweet-smelling airand
the ragged old rooks'-nests still dangling in the elm-trees at the
bottom of the front garden. Now I am in the garden at the back
beyond the yard where the empty pigeon-house and dog-kennel are a
very preserve of butterfliesas I remember itwith a high
fenceand a gate and padlock; where the fruit clusters on the
treesriper and richer than fruit has ever been sincein any
other gardenand where my mother gathers some in a basketwhile
I stand bybolting furtive gooseberriesand trying to look
unmoved. A great wind risesand the summer is gone in a moment.
We are playing in the winter twilightdancing about the parlour.
When my mother is out of breath and rests herself in an
elbow-chairI watch her winding her bright curls round her
fingersand straitening her waistand nobody knows better than I
do that she likes to look so welland is proud of being so pretty.

That is among my very earliest impressions. Thatand a sense that
we were both a little afraid of Peggottyand submitted ourselves
in most things to her directionwere among the first opinions - if
they may be so called - that I ever derived from what I saw.

Peggotty and I were sitting one night by the parlour firealone.
I had been reading to Peggotty about crocodiles. I must have read
very perspicuouslyor the poor soul must have been deeply
interestedfor I remember she had a cloudy impressionafter I had
donethat they were a sort of vegetable. I was tired of reading
and dead sleepy; but having leaveas a high treatto sit up until
my mother came home from spending the evening at a neighbour'sI
would rather have died upon my post (of course) than have gone to
bed. I had reached that stage of sleepiness when Peggotty seemed
to swell and grow immensely large. I propped my eyelids open with
my two forefingersand looked perseveringly at her as she sat at
work; at the little bit of wax-candle she kept for her thread - how
old it lookedbeing so wrinkled in all directions! - at the little
house with a thatched roofwhere the yard-measure lived; at her
work-box with a sliding lidwith a view of St. Paul's Cathedral
(with a pink dome) painted on the top; at the brass thimble on her
finger; at herselfwhom I thought lovely. I felt so sleepythat
I knew if I lost sight of anything for a momentI was gone.

'Peggotty' says Isuddenly'were you ever married?'

'LordMaster Davy' replied Peggotty. 'What's put marriage in
your head?'

She answered with such a startthat it quite awoke me. And then
she stopped in her workand looked at mewith her needle drawn
out to its thread's length.


'But WERE you ever marriedPeggotty?' says I. 'You are a very
handsome womanan't you?'

I thought her in a different style from my mothercertainly; but
of another school of beautyI considered her a perfect example.
There was a red velvet footstool in the best parlouron which my
mother had painted a nosegay. The ground-work of that stooland
Peggotty's complexion appeared to me to be one and the same thing.
The stool was smoothand Peggotty was roughbut that made no
difference.

'Me handsomeDavy!' said Peggotty. 'Lawknomy dear! But what
put marriage in your head?'

'I don't know! - You mustn't marry more than one person at a time
may youPeggotty?'

'Certainly not' says Peggottywith the promptest decision.

'But if you marry a personand the person dieswhy then you may
marry another personmayn't youPeggotty?'

'YOU MAY' says Peggotty'if you choosemy dear. That's a matter
of opinion.'

'But what is your opinionPeggotty?' said I.

I asked herand looked curiously at herbecause she looked so
curiously at me.

'My opinion is' said Peggottytaking her eyes from meafter a
little indecision and going on with her work'that I never was
married myselfMaster Davyand that I don't expect to be. That's
all I know about the subject.'

'You an't crossI supposePeggottyare you?' said Iafter
sitting quiet for a minute.

I really thought she wasshe had been so short with me; but I was
quite mistaken: for she laid aside her work (which was a stocking
of her own)and opening her arms widetook my curly head within
themand gave it a good squeeze. I know it was a good squeeze
becausebeing very plumpwhenever she made any little exertion
after she was dressedsome of the buttons on the back of her gown
flew off. And I recollect two bursting to the opposite side of the
parlourwhile she was hugging me.

'Now let me hear some more about the Crorkindills' said Peggotty
who was not quite right in the name yet'for I an't heard half
enough.'

I couldn't quite understand why Peggotty looked so queeror why
she was so ready to go back to the crocodiles. Howeverwe
returned to those monsterswith fresh wakefulness on my partand
we left their eggs in the sand for the sun to hatch; and we ran
away from themand baffled them by constantly turningwhich they
were unable to do quicklyon account of their unwieldy make; and
we went into the water after themas nativesand put sharp pieces
of timber down their throats; and in short we ran the whole
crocodile gauntlet. I didat least; but I had my doubts of
Peggottywho was thoughtfully sticking her needle into various
parts of her face and armsall the time.

We had exhausted the crocodilesand begun with the alligators


when the garden-bell rang. We went out to the door; and there was
my motherlooking unusually prettyI thoughtand with her a
gentleman with beautiful black hair and whiskerswho had walked
home with us from church last Sunday.

As my mother stooped down on the threshold to take me in her arms
and kiss methe gentleman said I was a more highly privileged
little fellow than a monarch - or something like that; for my later
understanding comesI am sensibleto my aid here.

'What does that mean?' I asked himover her shoulder.

He patted me on the head; but somehowI didn't like him or his
deep voiceand I was jealous that his hand should touch my
mother's in touching me - which it did. I put it awayas well as
I could.

'OhDavy!' remonstrated my mother.

'Dear boy!' said the gentleman. 'I cannot wonder at his devotion!'

I never saw such a beautiful colour on my mother's face before.
She gently chid me for being rude; andkeeping me close to her
shawlturned to thank the gentleman for taking so much trouble as
to bring her home. She put out her hand to him as she spokeand
as he met it with his ownshe glancedI thoughtat me.

'Let us say "good night"my fine boy' said the gentlemanwhen he
had bent his head - I saw him! - over my mother's little glove.

'Good night!' said I.

'Come! Let us be the best friends in the world!' said the
gentlemanlaughing. 'Shake hands!'

My right hand was in my mother's leftso I gave him the other.

'Whythat's the Wrong handDavy!' laughed the gentleman.

MY mother drew my right hand forwardbut I was resolvedfor my
former reasonnot to give it himand I did not. I gave him the
otherand he shook it heartilyand said I was a brave fellowand
went away.

At this minute I see him turn round in the gardenand give us a
last look with his ill-omened black eyesbefore the door was shut.

Peggottywho had not said a word or moved a fingersecured the
fastenings instantlyand we all went into the parlour. My mother
contrary to her usual habitinstead of coming to the elbow-chair
by the fireremained at the other end of the roomand sat singing
to herself.

-'Hope you have had a pleasant eveningma'am' said Peggotty
standing as stiff as a barrel in the centre of the roomwith a
candlestick in her hand.
'Much obliged to youPeggotty' returned my motherin a cheerful
voice'I have had a VERY pleasant evening.'

'A stranger or so makes an agreeable change' suggested Peggotty.

'A very agreeable changeindeed' returned my mother.


Peggotty continuing to stand motionless in the middle of the room
and my mother resuming her singingI fell asleepthough I was not
so sound asleep but that I could hear voiceswithout hearing what
they said. When I half awoke from this uncomfortable dozeI found
Peggotty and my mother both in tearsand both talking.

'Not such a one as thisMr. Copperfield wouldn't have liked' said
Peggotty. 'That I sayand that I swear!'

'Good Heavens!' cried my mother'you'll drive me mad! Was ever
any poor girl so ill-used by her servants as I am! Why do I do
myself the injustice of calling myself a girl? Have I never been
marriedPeggotty?'

'God knows you havema'am' returned Peggotty.
'Thenhow can you dare' said my mother - 'you know I don't mean
how can you darePeggottybut how can you have the heart - to
make me so uncomfortable and say such bitter things to mewhen you
are well aware that I haven'tout of this placea single friend
to turn to?'

'The more's the reason' returned Peggotty'for saying that it
won't do. No! That it won't do. No! No price could make it do.
No!' - I thought Peggotty would have thrown the candlestick away
she was so emphatic with it.

'How can you be so aggravating' said my mothershedding more
tears than before'as to talk in such an unjust manner! How can
you go on as if it was all settled and arrangedPeggottywhen I
tell you over and over againyou cruel thingthat beyond the
commonest civilities nothing has passed! You talk of admiration.
What am I to do? If people are so silly as to indulge the
sentimentis it my fault? What am I to doI ask you? Would you
wish me to shave my head and black my faceor disfigure myself
with a burnor a scaldor something of that sort? I dare say you
wouldPeggotty. I dare say you'd quite enjoy it.'

Peggotty seemed to take this aspersion very much to heartI
thought.

'And my dear boy' cried my mothercoming to the elbow-chair in
which I wasand caressing me'my own little Davy! Is it to be
hinted to me that I am wanting in affection for my precious
treasurethe dearest little fellow that ever was!'

'Nobody never went and hinted no such a thing' said Peggotty.

'You didPeggotty!' returned my mother. 'You know you did. What
else was it possible to infer from what you saidyou unkind
creaturewhen you know as well as I dothat on his account only
last quarter I wouldn't buy myself a new parasolthough that old
green one is frayed the whole way upand the fringe is perfectly
mangy? You know it isPeggotty. You can't deny it.' Then
turning affectionately to mewith her cheek against mine'Am I a
naughty mama to youDavy? Am I a nastycruelselfishbad mama?
Say I ammy child; say "yes"dear boyand Peggotty will love
you; and Peggotty's love is a great deal better than mineDavy.
I don't love you at alldo I?'

At thiswe all fell a-crying together. I think I was the loudest
of the partybut I am sure we were all sincere about it. I was
quite heart-broken myselfand am afraid that in the first
transports of wounded tenderness I called Peggotty a 'Beast'. That
honest creature was in deep afflictionI rememberand must have


become quite buttonless on the occasion; for a little volley of
those explosives went offwhenafter having made it up with my
mothershe kneeled down by the elbow-chairand made it up with
me.

We went to bed greatly dejected. My sobs kept waking mefor a
long time; and when one very strong sob quite hoisted me up in bed
I found my mother sitting on the coverletand leaning over me.
fell asleep in her armsafter thatand slept soundly.

Whether it was the following Sunday when I saw the gentleman again
or whether there was any greater lapse of time before he
reappearedI cannot recall. I don't profess to be clear about
dates. But there he wasin churchand he walked home with us
afterwards. He came intooto look at a famous geranium we had
in the parlour-window. It did not appear to me that he took much
notice of itbut before he went he asked my mother to give him a
bit of the blossom. She begged him to choose it for himselfbut
he refused to do that - I could not understand why - so she plucked
it for himand gave it into his hand. He said he would never
never part with it any more; and I thought he must be quite a fool
not to know that it would fall to pieces in a day or two.

Peggotty began to be less with usof an eveningthan she had
always been. My mother deferred to her very much - more than
usualit occurred to me - and we were all three excellent friends;
still we were different from what we used to beand were not so
comfortable among ourselves. Sometimes I fancied that Peggotty
perhaps objected to my mother's wearing all the pretty dresses she
had in her drawersor to her going so often to visit at that
neighbour's; but I couldn'tto my satisfactionmake out how it
was.

GraduallyI became used to seeing the gentleman with the black
whiskers. I liked him no better than at firstand had the same
uneasy jealousy of him; but if I had any reason for it beyond a
child's instinctive dislikeand a general idea that Peggotty and
I could make much of my mother without any helpit certainly was
not THE reason that I might have found if I had been older. No
such thing came into my mindor near it. I could observein
little piecesas it were; but as to making a net of a number of
these piecesand catching anybody in itthat wasas yetbeyond
me.

One autumn morning I was with my mother in the front gardenwhen
Mr. Murdstone - I knew him by that name now - came byon
horseback. He reined up his horse to salute my motherand said he
was going to Lowestoft to see some friends who were there with a
yachtand merrily proposed to take me on the saddle before him if
I would like the ride.

The air was so clear and pleasantand the horse seemed to like the
idea of the ride so much himselfas he stood snorting and pawing
at the garden-gatethat I had a great desire to go. So I was sent
upstairs to Peggotty to be made spruce; and in the meantime Mr.
Murdstone dismountedandwith his horse's bridle drawn over his
armwalked slowly up and down on the outer side of the sweetbriar
fencewhile my mother walked slowly up and down on the inner to
keep him company. I recollect Peggotty and I peeping out at them
from my little window; I recollect how closely they seemed to be
examining the sweetbriar between themas they strolled along; and
howfrom being in a perfectly angelic temperPeggotty turned
cross in a momentand brushed my hair the wrong wayexcessively
hard.


Mr. Murdstone and I were soon offand trotting along on the green
turf by the side of the road. He held me quite easily with one
armand I don't think I was restless usually; but I could not make
up my mind to sit in front of him without turning my head
sometimesand looking up in his face. He had that kind of shallow
black eye - I want a better word to express an eye that has no
depth in it to be looked into - whichwhen it is abstractedseems
from some peculiarity of light to be disfiguredfor a moment at a
timeby a cast. Several times when I glanced at himI observed
that appearance with a sort of aweand wondered what he was
thinking about so closely. His hair and whiskers were blacker and
thickerlooked at so nearthan even I had given them credit for
being. A squareness about the lower part of his faceand the
dotted indication of the strong black beard he shaved close every
dayreminded me of the wax-work that had travelled into our
neighbourhood some half-a-year before. Thishis regular eyebrows
and the rich whiteand blackand brownof his complexion -
confound his complexionand his memory! - made me think himin
spite of my misgivingsa very handsome man. I have no doubt that
my poor dear mother thought him so too.


We went to an hotel by the seawhere two gentlemen were smoking
cigars in a room by themselves. Each of them was lying on at least
four chairsand had a large rough jacket on. In a corner was a
heap of coats and boat-cloaksand a flagall bundled up together.


They both rolled on to their feet in an untidy sort of mannerwhen
we came inand said'HalloaMurdstone! We thought you were
dead!'


'Not yet' said Mr. Murdstone.


'And who's this shaver?' said one of the gentlementaking hold of
me.


'That's Davy' returned Mr. Murdstone.


'Davy who?' said the gentleman. 'Jones?'


'Copperfield' said Mr. Murdstone.


'What! Bewitching Mrs. Copperfield's encumbrance?' cried the
gentleman. 'The pretty little widow?'


'Quinion' said Mr. Murdstone'take careif you please.
Somebody's sharp.'


'Who is?' asked the gentlemanlaughing.
I looked upquickly; being curious to know.


'Only Brooks of Sheffield' said Mr. Murdstone.


I was quite relieved to find that it was only Brooks of Sheffield;
forat firstI really thought it was I.


There seemed to be something very comical in the reputation of Mr.
Brooks of Sheffieldfor both the gentlemen laughed heartily when
he was mentionedand Mr. Murdstone was a good deal amused also.
After some laughingthe gentleman whom he had called Quinion
said:


'And what is the opinion of Brooks of Sheffieldin reference to
the projected business?'



'WhyI don't know that Brooks understands much about it at
present' replied Mr. Murdstone; 'but he is not generally
favourableI believe.'

There was more laughter at thisand Mr. Quinion said he would ring
the bell for some sherry in which to drink to Brooks. This he did;
and when the wine camehe made me have a littlewith a biscuit
andbefore I drank itstand up and say'Confusion to Brooks of
Sheffield!' The toast was received with great applauseand such
hearty laughter that it made me laugh too; at which they laughed
the more. In shortwe quite enjoyed ourselves.

We walked about on the cliff after thatand sat on the grassand
looked at things through a telescope - I could make out nothing
myself when it was put to my eyebut I pretended I could - and
then we came back to the hotel to an early dinner. All the time we
were outthe two gentlemen smoked incessantly - whichI thought
if I might judge from the smell of their rough coatsthey must
have been doingever since the coats had first come home from the
tailor's. I must not forget that we went on board the yachtwhere
they all three descended into the cabinand were busy with some
papers. I saw them quite hard at workwhen I looked down through
the open skylight. They left meduring this timewith a very
nice man with a very large head of red hair and a very small shiny
hat upon itwho had got a cross-barred shirt or waistcoat onwith
'Skylark' in capital letters across the chest. I thought it was
his name; and that as he lived on board ship and hadn't a street
door to put his name onhe put it there instead; but when I called
him Mr. Skylarkhe said it meant the vessel.

I observed all day that Mr. Murdstone was graver and steadier than
the two gentlemen. They were very gay and careless. They joked
freely with one anotherbut seldom with him. It appeared to me
that he was more clever and cold than they wereand that they
regarded him with something of my own feeling. I remarked that
once or twice when Mr. Quinion was talkinghe looked at Mr.
Murdstone sidewaysas if to make sure of his not being displeased;
and that once when Mr. Passnidge (the other gentleman) was in high
spiritshe trod upon his footand gave him a secret caution with
his eyesto observe Mr. Murdstonewho was sitting stern and
silent. Nor do I recollect that Mr. Murdstone laughed at all that
dayexcept at the Sheffield joke - and thatby the bywas his
own.

We went home early in the evening. It was a very fine eveningand
my mother and he had another stroll by the sweetbriarwhile I was
sent in to get my tea. When he was gonemy mother asked me all
about the day I had hadand what they had said and done. I
mentioned what they had said about herand she laughedand told
me they were impudent fellows who talked nonsense - but I knew it
pleased her. I knew it quite as well as I know it now. I took the
opportunity of asking if she was at all acquainted with Mr. Brooks
of Sheffieldbut she answered Noonly she supposed he must be a
manufacturer in the knife and fork way.

Can I say of her face - altered as I have reason to remember it
perished as I know it is - that it is gonewhen here it comes
before me at this instantas distinct as any face that I may
choose to look on in a crowded street? Can I say of her innocent
and girlish beautythat it fadedand was no morewhen its breath
falls on my cheek nowas it fell that night? Can I say she ever
changedwhen my remembrance brings her back to lifethus only;
andtruer to its loving youth than I have beenor man ever is


still holds fast what it cherished then?

I write of her just as she was when I had gone to bed after this
talkand she came to bid me good night. She kneeled down
playfully by the side of the bedand laying her chin upon her
handsand laughingsaid:

'What was it they saidDavy? Tell me again. I can't believe it.'

'"Bewitching -"' I began.

My mother put her hands upon my lips to stop me.

'It was never bewitching' she saidlaughing. 'It never could
have been bewitchingDavy. Now I know it wasn't!'

'Yesit was. "Bewitching Mrs. Copperfield"' I repeated stoutly.
'Andpretty.'

'Nonoit was never pretty. Not pretty' interposed my mother
laying her fingers on my lips again.

'Yes it was. "Pretty little widow."'

'What foolishimpudent creatures!' cried my motherlaughing and
covering her face. 'What ridiculous men! An't they? Davy dear -'

'WellMa.'

'Don't tell Peggotty; she might be angry with them. I am
dreadfully angry with them myself; but I would rather Peggotty
didn't know.'

I promisedof course; and we kissed one another over and over
againand I soon fell fast asleep.

It seems to meat this distance of timeas if it were the next
day when Peggotty broached the striking and adventurous proposition
I am about to mention; but it was probably about two months
afterwards.

We were sitting as beforeone evening (when my mother was out as
before)in company with the stocking and the yard-measureand the
bit of waxand the box with St. Paul's on the lidand the
crocodile bookwhen Peggottyafter looking at me several times
and opening her mouth as if she were going to speakwithout doing
it - which I thought was merely gapingor I should have been
rather alarmed - said coaxingly:

'Master Davyhow should you like to go along with me and spend a
fortnight at my brother's at Yarmouth? Wouldn't that be a treat?'

'Is your brother an agreeable manPeggotty?' I inquired
provisionally.

'Ohwhat an agreeable man he is!' cried Peggottyholding up her
hands. 'Then there's the sea; and the boats and ships; and the
fishermen; and the beach; and Am to play with -'

Peggotty meant her nephew Hammentioned in my first chapter; but
she spoke of him as a morsel of English Grammar.

I was flushed by her summary of delightsand replied that it would
indeed be a treatbut what would my mother say?


'Why then I'll as good as bet a guinea' said Peggottyintent upon
my face'that she'll let us go. I'll ask herif you likeas
soon as ever she comes home. There now!'

'But what's she to do while we're away?' said Iputting my small
elbows on the table to argue the point. 'She can't live by
herself.'

If Peggotty were looking for a holeall of a suddenin the heel
of that stockingit must have been a very little one indeedand
not worth darning.

'I say! Peggotty! She can't live by herselfyou know.'

'Ohbless you!' said Peggottylooking at me again at last.
'Don't you know? She's going to stay for a fortnight with Mrs.
Grayper. Mrs. Grayper's going to have a lot of company.'

Oh! If that was itI was quite ready to go. I waitedin the
utmost impatienceuntil my mother came home from Mrs. Grayper's
(for it was that identical neighbour)to ascertain if we could get
leave to carry out this great idea. Without being nearly so much
surprised as I had expectedmy mother entered into it readily; and
it was all arranged that nightand my board and lodging during the
visit were to be paid for.

The day soon came for our going. It was such an early day that it
came sooneven to mewho was in a fever of expectationand half
afraid that an earthquake or a fiery mountainor some other great
convulsion of naturemight interpose to stop the expedition. We
were to go in a carrier's cartwhich departed in the morning after
breakfast. I would have given any money to have been allowed to
wrap myself up over-nightand sleep in my hat and boots.

It touches me nearly nowalthough I tell it lightlyto recollect
how eager I was to leave my happy home; to think how little I
suspected what I did leave for ever.

I am glad to recollect that when the carrier's cart was at the
gateand my mother stood there kissing mea grateful fondness for
her and for the old place I had never turned my back upon before
made me cry. I am glad to know that my mother cried tooand that
I felt her heart beat against mine.

I am glad to recollect that when the carrier began to movemy
mother ran out at the gateand called to him to stopthat she
might kiss me once more. I am glad to dwell upon the earnestness
and love with which she lifted up her face to mineand did so.

As we left her standing in the roadMr. Murdstone came up to where
she wasand seemed to expostulate with her for being so moved.
was looking back round the awning of the cartand wondered what
business it was of his. Peggottywho was also looking back on the
other sideseemed anything but satisfied; as the face she brought
back in the cart denoted.

I sat looking at Peggotty for some timein a reverie on this
supposititious case: whetherif she were employed to lose me like
the boy in the fairy taleI should be able to track my way home
again by the buttons she would shed.


CHAPTER 3
I HAVE A CHANGE

The carrier's horse was the laziest horse in the worldI should
hopeand shuffled alongwith his head downas if he liked to
keep people waiting to whom the packages were directed. I fancied
indeedthat he sometimes chuckled audibly over this reflection
but the carrier said he was only troubled with a cough.
The carrier had a way of keeping his head downlike his horseand
of drooping sleepily forward as he drovewith one of his arms on
each of his knees. I say 'drove'but it struck me that the cart
would have gone to Yarmouth quite as well without himfor the
horse did all that; and as to conversationhe had no idea of it
but whistling.

Peggotty had a basket of refreshments on her kneewhich would have
lasted us out handsomelyif we had been going to London by the
same conveyance. We ate a good dealand slept a good deal.
Peggotty always went to sleep with her chin upon the handle of the
baskether hold of which never relaxed; and I could not have
believed unless I had heard her do itthat one defenceless woman
could have snored so much.

We made so many deviations up and down lanesand were such a long
time delivering a bedstead at a public-houseand calling at other
placesthat I was quite tiredand very gladwhen we saw
Yarmouth. It looked rather spongy and soppyI thoughtas I
carried my eye over the great dull waste that lay across the river;
and I could not help wonderingif the world were really as round
as my geography book saidhow any part of it came to be so flat.
But I reflected that Yarmouth might be situated at one of the
poles; which would account for it.

As we drew a little nearerand saw the whole adjacent prospect
lying a straight low line under the skyI hinted to Peggotty that
a mound or so might have improved it; and also that if the land had
been a little more separated from the seaand the town and the
tide had not been quite so much mixed uplike toast and waterit
would have been nicer. But Peggotty saidwith greater emphasis
than usualthat we must take things as we found themand that
for her partshe was proud to call herself a Yarmouth Bloater.

When we got into the street (which was strange enough to me) and
smelt the fishand pitchand oakumand tarand saw the sailors
walking aboutand the carts jingling up and down over the stones
I felt that I had done so busy a place an injustice; and said as
much to Peggottywho heard my expressions of delight with great
complacencyand told me it was well known (I suppose to those who
had the good fortune to be born Bloaters) that Yarmouth wasupon
the wholethe finest place in the universe.

'Here's my Am!' screamed Peggotty'growed out of knowledge!'

He was waiting for usin factat the public-house; and asked me
how I found myselflike an old acquaintance. I did not feelat
firstthat I knew him as well as he knew mebecause he had never
come to our house since the night I was bornand naturally he had
the advantage of me. But our intimacy was much advanced by his
taking me on his back to carry me home. He wasnowa huge
strong fellow of six feet highbroad in proportionand
round-shouldered; but with a simpering boy's face and curly light
hair that gave him quite a sheepish look. He was dressed in a
canvas jacketand a pair of such very stiff trousers that they


would have stood quite as well alonewithout any legs in them.
And you couldn't so properly have said he wore a hatas that he
was covered in a-toplike an old buildingwith something pitchy.

Ham carrying me on his back and a small box of ours under his arm
and Peggotty carrying another small box of ourswe turned down
lanes bestrewn with bits of chips and little hillocks of sandand
went past gas-worksrope-walksboat-builders' yardsshipwrights'
yardsship-breakers' yardscaulkers' yardsriggers' lofts
smiths' forgesand a great litter of such placesuntil we came
out upon the dull waste I had already seen at a distance; when Ham
said

'Yon's our houseMas'r Davy!'

I looked in all directionsas far as I could stare over the
wildernessand away at the seaand away at the riverbut no
house could I make out. There was a black bargeor some other
kind of superannuated boatnot far offhigh and dry on the
groundwith an iron funnel sticking out of it for a chimney and
smoking very cosily; but nothing else in the way of a habitation
that was visible to me.

'That's not it?' said I. 'That ship-looking thing?'

'That's itMas'r Davy' returned Ham.

If it had been Aladdin's palaceroc's egg and allI suppose I
could not have been more charmed with the romantic idea of living
in it. There was a delightful door cut in the sideand it was
roofed inand there were little windows in it; but the wonderful
charm of it wasthat it was a real boat which had no doubt been
upon the water hundreds of timesand which had never been intended
to be lived inon dry land. That was the captivation of it to me.
If it had ever been meant to be lived inI might have thought it
smallor inconvenientor lonely; but never having been designed
for any such useit became a perfect abode.

It was beautifully clean insideand as tidy as possible. There
was a tableand a Dutch clockand a chest of drawersand on the
chest of drawers there was a tea-tray with a painting on it of a
lady with a parasoltaking a walk with a military-looking child
who was trundling a hoop. The tray was kept from tumbling downby
a bible; and the trayif it had tumbled downwould have smashed
a quantity of cups and saucers and a teapot that were grouped
around the book. On the walls there were some common coloured
picturesframed and glazedof scripture subjects; such as I have
never seen since in the hands of pedlarswithout seeing the whole
interior of Peggotty's brother's house againat one view. Abraham
in red going to sacrifice Isaac in blueand Daniel in yellow cast
into a den of green lionswere the most prominent of these. Over
the little mantelshelfwas a picture of the 'Sarah Jane' lugger
built at Sunderlandwith a real little wooden stern stuck on to
it; a work of artcombining composition with carpentrywhich I
considered to be one of the most enviable possessions that the
world could afford. There were some hooks in the beams of the
ceilingthe use of which I did not divine then; and some lockers
and boxes and conveniences of that sortwhich served for seats and
eked out the chairs.

All this I saw in the first glance after I crossed the threshold child-
likeaccording to my theory - and then Peggotty opened a
little door and showed me my bedroom. It was the completest and
most desirable bedroom ever seen - in the stern of the vessel; with


a little windowwhere the rudder used to go through; a little
looking-glassjust the right height for menailed against the
walland framed with oyster-shells; a little bedwhich there was
just room enough to get into; and a nosegay of seaweed in a blue
mug on the table. The walls were whitewashed as white as milkand
the patchwork counterpane made my eyes quite ache with its
brightness. One thing I particularly noticed in this delightful
housewas the smell of fish; which was so searchingthat when I
took out my pocket-handkerchief to wipe my noseI found it smelt
exactly as if it had wrapped up a lobster. On my imparting this
discovery in confidence to Peggottyshe informed me that her
brother dealt in lobsterscrabsand crawfish; and I afterwards
found that a heap of these creaturesin a state of wonderful
conglomeration with one anotherand never leaving off pinching
whatever they laid hold ofwere usually to be found in a little
wooden outhouse where the pots and kettles were kept.

We were welcomed by a very civil woman in a white apronwhom I had
seen curtseying at the door when I was on Ham's backabout a
quarter of a mile off. Likewise by a most beautiful little girl
(or I thought her so) with a necklace of blue beads onwho
wouldn't let me kiss her when I offered tobut ran away and hid
herself. By and bywhen we had dined in a sumptuous manner off
boiled dabsmelted butterand potatoeswith a chop for mea
hairy man with a very good-natured face came home. As he called
Peggotty 'Lass'and gave her a hearty smack on the cheekI had no
doubtfrom the general propriety of her conductthat he was her
brother; and so he turned out - being presently introduced to me as
Mr. Peggottythe master of the house.

'Glad to see yousir' said Mr. Peggotty. 'You'll find us rough
sirbut you'll find us ready.'

I thanked himand replied that I was sure I should be happy in
such a delightful place.

'How's your Masir?' said Mr. Peggotty. 'Did you leave her pretty
jolly?'

I gave Mr. Peggotty to understand that she was as jolly as I could
wishand that she desired her compliments - which was a polite
fiction on my part.

'I'm much obleeged to herI'm sure' said Mr. Peggotty. 'Well
sirif you can make out herefur a fortnut'long wi' her'
nodding at his sister'and Hamand little Em'lywe shall be
proud of your company.'

Having done the honours of his house in this hospitable mannerMr.
Peggotty went out to wash himself in a kettleful of hot water
remarking that 'cold would never get his muck off'. He soon
returnedgreatly improved in appearance; but so rubicundthat I
couldn't help thinking his face had this in common with the
lobsterscrabsand crawfish- that it went into the hot water
very blackand came out very red.

After teawhen the door was shut and all was made snug (the nights
being cold and misty now)it seemed to me the most delicious
retreat that the imagination of man could conceive. To hear the
wind getting up out at seato know that the fog was creeping over
the desolate flat outsideand to look at the fireand think that
there was no house near but this oneand this one a boatwas like
enchantment. Little Em'ly had overcome her shynessand was
sitting by my side upon the lowest and least of the lockerswhich


was just large enough for us twoand just fitted into the chimney
corner. Mrs. Peggotty with the white apronwas knitting on the
opposite side of the fire. Peggotty at her needlework was as much
at home with St. Paul's and the bit of wax-candleas if they had
never known any other roof. Hamwho had been giving me my first
lesson in all-fourswas trying to recollect a scheme of telling
fortunes with the dirty cardsand was printing off fishy
impressions of his thumb on all the cards he turned. Mr. Peggotty
was smoking his pipe. I felt it was a time for conversation and
confidence.

'Mr. Peggotty!' says I.

'Sir' says he.

'Did you give your son the name of Hambecause you lived in a sort
of ark?'

Mr. Peggotty seemed to think it a deep ideabut answered:

'Nosir. I never giv him no name.'

'Who gave him that namethen?' said Iputting question number two
of the catechism to Mr. Peggotty.

'Whysirhis father giv it him' said Mr. Peggotty.

'I thought you were his father!'

'My brother Joe was his father' said Mr. Peggotty.

'DeadMr. Peggotty?' I hintedafter a respectful pause.

'Drowndead' said Mr. Peggotty.

I was very much surprised that Mr. Peggotty was not Ham's father
and began to wonder whether I was mistaken about his relationship
to anybody else there. I was so curious to knowthat I made up my
mind to have it out with Mr. Peggotty.

'Little Em'ly' I saidglancing at her. 'She is your daughter
isn't sheMr. Peggotty?'

'Nosir. My brother-in-lawTomwas her father.'

I couldn't help it. '- DeadMr. Peggotty?' I hintedafter
another respectful silence.

'Drowndead' said Mr. Peggotty.

I felt the difficulty of resuming the subjectbut had not got to
the bottom of it yetand must get to the bottom somehow. So I
said:

'Haven't you ANY childrenMr. Peggotty?'

'Nomaster' he answered with a short laugh. 'I'm a bacheldore.'

'A bachelor!' I saidastonished. 'Whywho's thatMr. Peggotty?'
pointing to the person in the apron who was knitting.

'That's Missis Gummidge' said Mr. Peggotty.

'GummidgeMr. Peggotty?'


But at this point Peggotty - I mean my own peculiar Peggotty - made
such impressive motions to me not to ask any more questionsthat
I could only sit and look at all the silent companyuntil it was
time to go to bed. Thenin the privacy of my own little cabin
she informed me that Ham and Em'ly were an orphan nephew and niece
whom my host had at different times adopted in their childhood
when they were left destitute: and that Mrs. Gummidge was the widow
of his partner in a boatwho had died very poor. He was but a
poor man himselfsaid Peggottybut as good as gold and as true as
steel - those were her similes. The only subjectshe informed me
on which he ever showed a violent temper or swore an oathwas this
generosity of his; and if it were ever referred toby any one of
themhe struck the table a heavy blow with his right hand (had
split it on one such occasion)and swore a dreadful oath that he
would be 'Gormed' if he didn't cut and run for goodif it was ever
mentioned again. It appearedin answer to my inquiriesthat
nobody had the least idea of the etymology of this terrible verb
passive to be gormed; but that they all regarded it as constituting
a most solemn imprecation.

I was very sensible of my entertainer's goodnessand listened to
the women's going to bed in another little crib like mine at the
opposite end of the boatand to him and Ham hanging up two
hammocks for themselves on the hooks I had noticed in the roofin
a very luxurious state of mindenhanced by my being sleepy. As
slumber gradually stole upon meI heard the wind howling out at
sea and coming on across the flat so fiercelythat I had a lazy
apprehension of the great deep rising in the night. But I
bethought myself that I was in a boatafter all; and that a man
like Mr. Peggotty was not a bad person to have on board if anything
did happen.

Nothing happenedhoweverworse than morning. Almost as soon as
it shone upon the oyster-shell frame of my mirror I was out of bed
and out with little Em'lypicking up stones upon the beach.

'You're quite a sailorI suppose?' I said to Em'ly. I don't know
that I supposed anything of the kindbut I felt it an act of
gallantry to say something; and a shining sail close to us made
such a pretty little image of itselfat the momentin her bright
eyethat it came into my head to say this.

'No' replied Em'lyshaking her head'I'm afraid of the sea.'

'Afraid!' I saidwith a becoming air of boldnessand looking very
big at the mighty ocean. 'I an't!'

'Ah! but it's cruel' said Em'ly. 'I have seen it very cruel to
some of our men. I have seen it tear a boat as big as our house
all to pieces.'

'I hope it wasn't the boat that -'

'That father was drownded in?' said Em'ly. 'No. Not that oneI
never see that boat.'

'Nor him?' I asked her.

Little Em'ly shook her head. 'Not to remember!'

Here was a coincidence! I immediately went into an explanation how
I had never seen my own father; and how my mother and I had always
lived by ourselves in the happiest state imaginableand lived so


thenand always meant to live so; and how my father's grave was in
the churchyard near our houseand shaded by a treebeneath the
boughs of which I had walked and heard the birds sing many a
pleasant morning. But there were some differences between Em'ly's
orphanhood and mineit appeared. She had lost her mother before
her father; and where her father's grave was no one knewexcept
that it was somewhere in the depths of the sea.

'Besides' said Em'lyas she looked about for shells and pebbles
'your father was a gentleman and your mother is a lady; and my
father was a fisherman and my mother was a fisherman's daughter
and my uncle Dan is a fisherman.'

'Dan is Mr. Peggottyis he?' said I.

'Uncle Dan - yonder' answered Em'lynodding at the boat-house.

'Yes. I mean him. He must be very goodI should think?'

'Good?' said Em'ly. 'If I was ever to be a ladyI'd give him a
sky-blue coat with diamond buttonsnankeen trousersa red velvet
waistcoata cocked hata large gold watcha silver pipeand a
box of money.'

I said I had no doubt that Mr. Peggotty well deserved these
treasures. I must acknowledge that I felt it difficult to picture
him quite at his ease in the raiment proposed for him by his
grateful little nieceand that I was particularly doubtful of the
policy of the cocked hat; but I kept these sentiments to myself.

Little Em'ly had stopped and looked up at the sky in her
enumeration of these articlesas if they were a glorious vision.
We went on againpicking up shells and pebbles.

'You would like to be a lady?' I said.

Emily looked at meand laughed and nodded 'yes'.

'I should like it very much. We would all be gentlefolks together
then. Meand uncleand Hamand Mrs. Gummidge. We wouldn't mind
thenwhen there comes stormy weather. - Not for our own sakesI
mean. We would for the poor fishermen'sto be sureand we'd help
'em with money when they come to any hurt.' This seemed to me to
be a very satisfactory and therefore not at all improbable picture.
I expressed my pleasure in the contemplation of itand little
Em'ly was emboldened to sayshyly

'Don't you think you are afraid of the seanow?'

It was quiet enough to reassure mebut I have no doubt if I had
seen a moderately large wave come tumbling inI should have taken
to my heelswith an awful recollection of her drowned relations.
HoweverI said 'No' and I added'You don't seem to be either
though you say you are' - for she was walking much too near the
brink of a sort of old jetty or wooden causeway we had strolled
uponand I was afraid of her falling over.

'I'm not afraid in this way' said little Em'ly. 'But I wake when
it blowsand tremble to think of Uncle Dan and Ham and believe I
hear 'em crying out for help. That's why I should like so much to
be a lady. But I'm not afraid in this way. Not a bit. Look
here!'

She started from my sideand ran along a jagged timber which


protruded from the place we stood uponand overhung the deep water
at some heightwithout the least defence. The incident is so
impressed on my remembrancethat if I were a draughtsman I could
draw its form hereI dare sayaccurately as it was that dayand
little Em'ly springing forward to her destruction (as it appeared
to me)with a look that I have never forgottendirected far out
to sea.

The lightboldfluttering little figure turned and came back safe
to meand I soon laughed at my fearsand at the cry I had
uttered; fruitlessly in any casefor there was no one near. But
there have been times sincein my manhoodmany times there have
beenwhen I have thoughtIs it possibleamong the possibilities
of hidden thingsthat in the sudden rashness of the child and her
wild look so far offthere was any merciful attraction of her into
dangerany tempting her towards him permitted on the part of her
dead fatherthat her life might have a chance of ending that day?
There has been a time since when I have wondered whetherif the
life before her could have been revealed to me at a glanceand so
revealed as that a child could fully comprehend itand if her
preservation could have depended on a motion of my handI ought to
have held it up to save her. There has been a time since - I do
not say it lasted longbut it has been - when I have asked myself
the questionwould it have been better for little Em'ly to have
had the waters close above her head that morning in my sight; and
when I have answered Yesit would have been.

This may be premature. I have set it down too soonperhaps. But
let it stand.

We strolled a long wayand loaded ourselves with things that we
thought curiousand put some stranded starfish carefully back into
the water - I hardly know enough of the race at this moment to be
quite certain whether they had reason to feel obliged to us for
doing soor the reverse - and then made our way home to Mr.
Peggotty's dwelling. We stopped under the lee of the
lobster-outhouse to exchange an innocent kissand went in to
breakfast glowing with health and pleasure.

'Like two young mavishes' Mr. Peggotty said. I knew this meant
in our local dialectlike two young thrushesand received it as
a compliment.

Of course I was in love with little Em'ly. I am sure I loved that
baby quite as trulyquite as tenderlywith greater purity and
more disinterestednessthan can enter into the best love of a
later time of lifehigh and ennobling as it is. I am sure my
fancy raised up something round that blue-eyed mite of a child
which etherealizedand made a very angel of her. Ifany sunny
forenoonshe had spread a little pair of wings and flown away
before my eyesI don't think I should have regarded it as much
more than I had had reason to expect.

We used to walk about that dim old flat at Yarmouth in a loving
mannerhours and hours. The days sported by usas if Time had
not grown up himself yetbut were a child tooand always at play.
I told Em'ly I adored herand that unless she confessed she adored
me I should be reduced to the necessity of killing myself with a
sword. She said she didand I have no doubt she did.

As to any sense of inequalityor youthfulnessor other difficulty
in our waylittle Em'ly and I had no such troublebecause we had
no future. We made no more provision for growing olderthan we
did for growing younger. We were the admiration of Mrs. Gummidge


and Peggottywho used to whisper of an evening when we sat
lovinglyon our little locker side by side'Lor! wasn't it
beautiful!' Mr. Peggotty smiled at us from behind his pipeand
Ham grinned all the evening and did nothing else. They had
something of the sort of pleasure in usI supposethat they might
have had in a pretty toyor a pocket model of the Colosseum.

I soon found out that Mrs. Gummidge did not always make herself so
agreeable as she might have been expected to dounder the
circumstances of her residence with Mr. Peggotty. Mrs. Gummidge's
was rather a fretful dispositionand she whimpered more sometimes
than was comfortable for other parties in so small an
establishment. I was very sorry for her; but there were moments
when it would have been more agreeableI thoughtif Mrs. Gummidge
had had a convenient apartment of her own to retire toand had
stopped there until her spirits revived.

Mr. Peggotty went occasionally to a public-house called The Willing
Mind. I discovered thisby his being out on the second or third
evening of our visitand by Mrs. Gummidge's looking up at the
Dutch clockbetween eight and nineand saying he was thereand
thatwhat was moreshe had known in the morning he would go
there.

Mrs. Gummidge had been in a low state all dayand had burst into
tears in the forenoonwhen the fire smoked. 'I am a lone lorn
creetur'' were Mrs. Gummidge's wordswhen that unpleasant
occurrence took place'and everythink goes contrary with me.'

'Ohit'll soon leave off' said Peggotty - I again mean our
Peggotty - 'and besidesyou knowit's not more disagreeable to
you than to us.'

'I feel it more' said Mrs. Gummidge.

It was a very cold daywith cutting blasts of wind. Mrs.
Gummidge's peculiar corner of the fireside seemed to me to be the
warmest and snuggest in the placeas her chair was certainly the
easiestbut it didn't suit her that day at all. She was
constantly complaining of the coldand of its occasioning a
visitation in her back which she called 'the creeps'. At last she
shed tears on that subjectand said again that she was 'a lone
lorn creetur' and everythink went contrary with her'.

'It is certainly very cold' said Peggotty. 'Everybody must feel
it so.'

'I feel it more than other people' said Mrs. Gummidge.

So at dinner; when Mrs. Gummidge was always helped immediately
after meto whom the preference was given as a visitor of
distinction. The fish were small and bonyand the potatoes were
a little burnt. We all acknowledged that we felt this something of
a disappointment; but Mrs. Gummidge said she felt it more than we
didand shed tears againand made that former declaration with
great bitterness.

Accordinglywhen Mr. Peggotty came home about nine o'clockthis
unfortunate Mrs. Gummidge was knitting in her cornerin a very
wretched and miserable condition. Peggotty had been working
cheerfully. Ham had been patching up a great pair of waterboots;
and Iwith little Em'ly by my sidehad been reading to them.
Mrs. Gummidge had never made any other remark than a forlorn sigh
and had never raised her eyes since tea.


'WellMates' said Mr. Peggottytaking his seat'and how are
you?'

We all said somethingor looked somethingto welcome himexcept
Mrs. Gummidgewho only shook her head over her knitting.

'What's amiss?' said Mr. Peggottywith a clap of his hands.
'Cheer upold Mawther!' (Mr. Peggotty meant old girl.)

Mrs. Gummidge did not appear to be able to cheer up. She took out
an old black silk handkerchief and wiped her eyes; but instead of
putting it in her pocketkept it outand wiped them againand
still kept it outready for use.

'What's amissdame?' said Mr. Peggotty.

'Nothing' returned Mrs. Gummidge. 'You've come from The Willing
MindDan'l?'

'Why yesI've took a short spell at The Willing Mind tonight'
said Mr. Peggotty.

'I'm sorry I should drive you there' said Mrs. Gummidge.

'Drive! I don't want no driving' returned Mr. Peggotty with an
honest laugh. 'I only go too ready.'

'Very ready' said Mrs. Gummidgeshaking her headand wiping her
eyes. 'Yesyesvery ready. I am sorry it should be along of me
that you're so ready.'

'Along o' you! It an't along o' you!' said Mr. Peggotty. 'Don't
ye believe a bit on it.'

'Yesyesit is' cried Mrs. Gummidge. 'I know what I am. I know
that I am a lone lorn creetur'and not only that everythink goes
contrary with mebut that I go contrary with everybody. Yesyes.
I feel more than other people doand I show it more. It's my
misfortun'.'

I really couldn't help thinkingas I sat taking in all thisthat
the misfortune extended to some other members of that family
besides Mrs. Gummidge. But Mr. Peggotty made no such retortonly
answering with another entreaty to Mrs. Gummidge to cheer up.

'I an't what I could wish myself to be' said Mrs. Gummidge. 'I am
far from it. I know what I am. My troubles has made me contrary.
I feel my troublesand they make me contrary. I wish I didn't
feel 'embut I do. I wish I could be hardened to 'embut I an't.
I make the house uncomfortable. I don't wonder at it. I've made
your sister so all dayand Master Davy.'

Here I was suddenly meltedand roared out'Noyou haven'tMrs.
Gummidge' in great mental distress.

'It's far from right that I should do it' said Mrs. Gummidge. 'It
an't a fit return. I had better go into the house and die. I am
a lone lorn creetur'and had much better not make myself contrary
here. If thinks must go contrary with meand I must go contrary
myselflet me go contrary in my parish. Dan'lI'd better go into
the houseand die and be a riddance!'

Mrs. Gummidge retired with these wordsand betook herself to bed.


When she was goneMr. Peggottywho had not exhibited a trace of
any feeling but the profoundest sympathylooked round upon usand
nodding his head with a lively expression of that sentiment still
animating his facesaid in a whisper:

'She's been thinking of the old 'un!'

I did not quite understand what old one Mrs. Gummidge was supposed
to have fixed her mind uponuntil Peggottyon seeing me to bed
explained that it was the late Mr. Gummidge; and that her brother
always took that for a received truth on such occasionsand that
it always had a moving effect upon him. Some time after he was in
his hammock that nightI heard him myself repeat to Ham'Poor
thing! She's been thinking of the old 'un!' And whenever Mrs.
Gummidge was overcome in a similar manner during the remainder of
our stay (which happened some few times)he always said the same
thing in extenuation of the circumstanceand always with the
tenderest commiseration.

So the fortnight slipped awayvaried by nothing but the variation
of the tidewhich altered Mr. Peggotty's times of going out and
coming inand altered Ham's engagements also. When the latter was
unemployedhe sometimes walked with us to show us the boats and
shipsand once or twice he took us for a row. I don't know why
one slight set of impressions should be more particularly
associated with a place than anotherthough I believe this obtains
with most peoplein reference especially to the associations of
their childhood. I never hear the nameor read the nameof
Yarmouthbut I am reminded of a certain Sunday morning on the
beachthe bells ringing for churchlittle Em'ly leaning on my
shoulderHam lazily dropping stones into the waterand the sun
away at seajust breaking through the heavy mistand showing us
the shipslike their own shadows.

At last the day came for going home. I bore up against the
separation from Mr. Peggotty and Mrs. Gummidgebut my agony of
mind at leaving little Em'ly was piercing. We went arm-in-arm to
the public-house where the carrier put upand I promisedon the
roadto write to her. (I redeemed that promise afterwardsin
characters larger than those in which apartments are usually
announced in manuscriptas being to let.) We were greatly overcome
at parting; and if everin my lifeI have had a void made in my
heartI had one made that day.

Nowall the time I had been on my visitI had been ungrateful to
my home againand had thought little or nothing about it. But I
was no sooner turned towards itthan my reproachful young
conscience seemed to point that way with a ready finger; and I
feltall the more for the sinking of my spiritsthat it was my
nestand that my mother was my comforter and friend.

This gained upon me as we went along; so that the nearer we drew
the more familiar the objects became that we passedthe more
excited I was to get thereand to run into her arms. But
Peggottyinstead of sharing in those transportstried to check
them (though very kindly)and looked confused and out of sorts.

Blunderstone Rookery would comehoweverin spite of herwhen the
carrier's horse pleased - and did. How well I recollect iton a
cold grey afternoonwith a dull skythreatening rain!

The door openedand I lookedhalf laughing and half crying in my
pleasant agitationfor my mother. It was not shebut a strange
servant.


'WhyPeggotty!' I saidruefully'isn't she come home?'

'YesyesMaster Davy' said Peggotty. 'She's come home. Wait a
bitMaster Davyand I'll - I'll tell you something.'

Between her agitationand her natural awkwardness in getting out
of the cartPeggotty was making a most extraordinary festoon of
herselfbut I felt too blank and strange to tell her so. When she
had got downshe took me by the hand; led mewonderinginto the
kitchen; and shut the door.

'Peggotty!' said Iquite frightened. 'What's the matter?'

'Nothing's the matterbless youMaster Davy dear!' she answered
assuming an air of sprightliness.

'Something's the matterI'm sure. Where's mama?'

'Where's mamaMaster Davy?' repeated Peggotty.

'Yes. Why hasn't she come out to the gateand what have we come
in here for? OhPeggotty!' My eyes were fulland I felt as if
I were going to tumble down.

'Bless the precious boy!' cried Peggottytaking hold of me. 'What
is it? Speakmy pet!'

'Not deadtoo! Ohshe's not deadPeggotty?'

Peggotty cried out No! with an astonishing volume of voice; and
then sat downand began to pantand said I had given her a turn.

I gave her a hug to take away the turnor to give her another turn
in the right directionand then stood before herlooking at her
in anxious inquiry.

'You seedearI should have told you before now' said Peggotty
'but I hadn't an opportunity. I ought to have made itperhaps
but I couldn't azackly' - that was always the substitute for
exactlyin Peggotty's militia of words - 'bring my mind to it.'

'Go onPeggotty' said Imore frightened than before.

'Master Davy' said Peggottyuntying her bonnet with a shaking
handand speaking in a breathless sort of way. 'What do you
think? You have got a Pa!'

I trembledand turned white. Something - I don't know whator
how - connected with the grave in the churchyardand the raising
of the deadseemed to strike me like an unwholesome wind.

'A new one' said Peggotty.

'A new one?' I repeated.

Peggotty gave a gaspas if she were swallowing something that was
very hardandputting out her handsaid:

'Come and see him.'

'I don't want to see him.'

-'And your mama' said Peggotty.

I ceased to draw backand we went straight to the best parlour
where she left me. On one side of the firesat my mother; on the
otherMr. Murdstone. My mother dropped her workand arose
hurriedlybut timidly I thought.


'NowClara my dear' said Mr. Murdstone. 'Recollect! control
yourselfalways control yourself! Davy boyhow do you do?'


I gave him my hand. After a moment of suspenseI went and kissed
my mother: she kissed mepatted me gently on the shoulderand sat
down again to her work. I could not look at herI could not look
at himI knew quite well that he was looking at us both; and I
turned to the window and looked out thereat some shrubs that were
drooping their heads in the cold.


As soon as I could creep awayI crept upstairs. My old dear
bedroom was changedand I was to lie a long way off. I rambled
downstairs to find anything that was like itselfso altered it all
seemed; and roamed into the yard. I very soon started back from
therefor the empty dog-kennel was filled up with a great dog -
deep mouthed and black-haired like Him - and he was very angry at
the sight of meand sprang out to get at me.


CHAPTER 4
I FALL INTO DISGRACE


If the room to which my bed was removed were a sentient thing that
could give evidenceI might appeal to it at this day - who sleeps
there nowI wonder! - to bear witness for me what a heavy heart I
carried to it. I went up therehearing the dog in the yard bark
after me all the way while I climbed the stairs; andlooking as
blank and strange upon the room as the room looked upon mesat
down with my small hands crossedand thought.


I thought of the oddest things. Of the shape of the roomof the
cracks in the ceilingof the paper on the wallsof the flaws in
the window-glass making ripples and dimples on the prospectof the
washing-stand being rickety on its three legsand having a
discontented something about itwhich reminded me of Mrs. Gummidge
under the influence of the old one. I was crying all the time
butexcept that I was conscious of being cold and dejectedI am
sure I never thought why I cried. At last in my desolation I began
to consider that I was dreadfully in love with little Em'lyand
had been torn away from her to come here where no one seemed to
want meor to care about mehalf as much as she did. This made
such a very miserable piece of business of itthat I rolled myself
up in a corner of the counterpaneand cried myself to sleep.


I was awoke by somebody saying 'Here he is!' and uncovering my hot
head. My mother and Peggotty had come to look for meand it was
one of them who had done it.


'Davy' said my mother. 'What's the matter?'


I thought it was very strange that she should ask meand answered
'Nothing.' I turned over on my faceI recollectto hide my
trembling lipwhich answered her with greater truth.
'Davy' said my mother. 'Davymy child!'


I dare say no words she could have uttered would have affected me



so muchthenas her calling me her child. I hid my tears in the
bedclothesand pressed her from me with my handwhen she would
have raised me up.

'This is your doingPeggottyyou cruel thing!' said my mother.
'I have no doubt at all about it. How can you reconcile it to your
conscienceI wonderto prejudice my own boy against meor
against anybody who is dear to me? What do you mean by it
Peggotty?'

Poor Peggotty lifted up her hands and eyesand only answeredin
a sort of paraphrase of the grace I usually repeated after dinner
'Lord forgive youMrs. Copperfieldand for what you have said
this minutemay you never be truly sorry!'

'It's enough to distract me' cried my mother. 'In my honeymoon
toowhen my most inveterate enemy might relentone would think
and not envy me a little peace of mind and happiness. Davyyou
naughty boy! Peggottyyou savage creature! Ohdear me!' cried
my motherturning from one of us to the otherin her pettish
wilful manner'what a troublesome world this iswhen one has the
most right to expect it to be as agreeable as possible!'

I felt the touch of a hand that I knew was neither hers nor
Peggotty'sand slipped to my feet at the bed-side. It was Mr.
Murdstone's handand he kept it on my arm as he said:

'What's this? Claramy lovehave you forgotten? - Firmnessmy
dear!'

'I am very sorryEdward' said my mother. 'I meant to be very
goodbut I am so uncomfortable.'

'Indeed!' he answered. 'That's a bad hearingso soonClara.'

'I say it's very hard I should be made so now' returned my mother
pouting; 'and it is - very hard - isn't it?'

He drew her to himwhispered in her earand kissed her. I knew
as wellwhen I saw my mother's head lean down upon his shoulder
and her arm touch his neck - I knew as well that he could mould her
pliant nature into any form he choseas I knownowthat he did
it.

'Go you belowmy love' said Mr. Murdstone. 'David and I will
come downtogether. My friend' turning a darkening face on
Peggottywhen he had watched my mother outand dismissed her with
a nod and a smile; 'do you know your mistress's name?'

'She has been my mistress a long timesir' answered Peggotty'I
ought to know it.'
'That's true' he answered. 'But I thought I heard youas I came
upstairsaddress her by a name that is not hers. She has taken
mineyou know. Will you remember that?'

Peggottywith some uneasy glances at mecurtseyed herself out of
the room without replying; seeingI supposethat she was expected
to goand had no excuse for remaining. When we two were left
alonehe shut the doorand sitting on a chairand holding me
standing before himlooked steadily into my eyes. I felt my own
attractedno less steadilyto his. As I recall our being opposed
thusface to faceI seem again to hear my heart beat fast and
high.


'David' he saidmaking his lips thinby pressing them together
'if I have an obstinate horse or dog to deal withwhat do you
think I do?'

'I don't know.'

'I beat him.'

I had answered in a kind of breathless whisperbut I feltin my
silencethat my breath was shorter now.

'I make him winceand smart. I say to myselfI'll conquer that
fellow; and if it were to cost him all the blood he hadI should
do it. What is that upon your face?'

'Dirt' I said.

He knew it was the mark of tears as well as I. But if he had asked
the question twenty timeseach time with twenty blowsI believe
my baby heart would have burst before I would have told him so.

'You have a good deal of intelligence for a little fellow' he
saidwith a grave smile that belonged to him'and you understood
me very wellI see. Wash that facesirand come down with me.'

He pointed to the washing-standwhich I had made out to be like
Mrs. Gummidgeand motioned me with his head to obey him directly.
I had little doubt thenand I have less doubt nowthat he would
have knocked me down without the least compunctionif I had
hesitated.

'Claramy dear' he saidwhen I had done his biddingand he
walked me into the parlourwith his hand still on my arm; 'you
will not be made uncomfortable any moreI hope. We shall soon
improve our youthful humours.'

God help meI might have been improved for my whole lifeI might
have been made another creature perhapsfor lifeby a kind word
at that season. A word of encouragement and explanationof pity
for my childish ignoranceof welcome homeof reassurance to me
that it was homemight have made me dutiful to him in my heart
henceforthinstead of in my hypocritical outsideand might have
made me respect instead of hate him. I thought my mother was sorry
to see me standing in the room so scared and strangeand that
presentlywhen I stole to a chairshe followed me with her eyes
more sorrowfully still - missingperhapssome freedom in my
childish tread - but the word was not spokenand the time for it
was gone.

We dined alonewe three together. He seemed to be very fond of my
mother - I am afraid I liked him none the better for that - and she
was very fond of him. I gathered from what they saidthat an
elder sister of his was coming to stay with themand that she was
expected that evening. I am not certain whether I found out then
or afterwardsthatwithout being actively concerned in any
businesshe had some share inor some annual charge upon the
profits ofa wine-merchant's house in Londonwith which his
family had been connected from his great-grandfather's timeand in
which his sister had a similar interest; but I may mention it in
this placewhether or no.

After dinnerwhen we were sitting by the fireand I was
meditating an escape to Peggotty without having the hardihood to
slip awaylest it should offend the master of the housea coach


drove up to the garden-gate and he went out to receive the visitor.
My mother followed him. I was timidly following herwhen she
turned round at the parlour doorin the duskand taking me in her
embrace as she had been used to dowhispered me to love my new
father and be obedient to him. She did this hurriedly and
secretlyas if it were wrongbut tenderly; andputting out her
hand behind herheld mine in ituntil we came near to where he
was standing in the gardenwhere she let mine goand drew hers
through his arm.

It was Miss Murdstone who was arrivedand a gloomy-looking lady
she was; darklike her brotherwhom she greatly resembled in face
and voice; and with very heavy eyebrowsnearly meeting over her
large noseas ifbeing disabled by the wrongs of her sex from
wearing whiskersshe had carried them to that account. She
brought with her two uncompromising hard black boxeswith her
initials on the lids in hard brass nails. When she paid the
coachman she took her money out of a hard steel purseand she kept
the purse in a very jail of a bag which hung upon her arm by a
heavy chainand shut up like a bite. I had neverat that time
seen such a metallic lady altogether as Miss Murdstone was.

She was brought into the parlour with many tokens of welcomeand
there formally recognized my mother as a new and near relation.
Then she looked at meand said:

'Is that your boysister-in-law?'

My mother acknowledged me.

'Generally speaking' said Miss Murdstone'I don't like boys. How
d'ye doboy?'

Under these encouraging circumstancesI replied that I was very
welland that I hoped she was the same; with such an indifferent
gracethat Miss Murdstone disposed of me in two words:

'Wants manner!'

Having uttered whichwith great distinctnessshe begged the
favour of being shown to her roomwhich became to me from that
time forth a place of awe and dreadwherein the two black boxes
were never seen open or known to be left unlockedand where (for
I peeped in once or twice when she was out) numerous little steel
fetters and rivetswith which Miss Murdstone embellished herself
when she was dressedgenerally hung upon the looking-glass in
formidable array.

As well as I could make outshe had come for goodand had no
intention of ever going again. She began to 'help' my mother next
morningand was in and out of the store-closet all dayputting
things to rightsand making havoc in the old arrangements. Almost
the first remarkable thing I observed in Miss Murdstone washer
being constantly haunted by a suspicion that the servants had a man
secreted somewhere on the premises. Under the influence of this
delusionshe dived into the coal-cellar at the most untimely
hoursand scarcely ever opened the door of a dark cupboard without
clapping it to againin the belief that she had got him.

Though there was nothing very airy about Miss Murdstoneshe was a
perfect Lark in point of getting up. She was up (andas I believe
to this hourlooking for that man) before anybody in the house was
stirring. Peggotty gave it as her opinion that she even slept with
one eye open; but I could not concur in this idea; for I tried it


myself after hearing the suggestion thrown outand found it
couldn't be done.

On the very first morning after her arrival she was up and ringing
her bell at cock-crow. When my mother came down to breakfast and
was going to make the teaMiss Murdstone gave her a kind of peck
on the cheekwhich was her nearest approach to a kissand said:

'NowClaramy dearI am come hereyou knowto relieve you of
all the trouble I can. You're much too pretty and thoughtless' my
mother blushed but laughedand seemed not to dislike this
character - 'to have any duties imposed upon you that can be
undertaken by me. If you'll be so good as give me your keysmy
dearI'll attend to all this sort of thing in future.'

From that timeMiss Murdstone kept the keys in her own little jail
all dayand under her pillow all nightand my mother had no more
to do with them than I had.

My mother did not suffer her authority to pass from her without a
shadow of protest. One night when Miss Murdstone had been
developing certain household plans to her brotherof which he
signified his approbationmy mother suddenly began to cryand
said she thought she might have been consulted.

'Clara!' said Mr. Murdstone sternly. 'Clara! I wonder at you.'

'Ohit's very well to say you wonderEdward!' cried my mother
'and it's very well for you to talk about firmnessbut you
wouldn't like it yourself.'

FirmnessI may observewas the grand quality on which both Mr.
and Miss Murdstone took their stand. However I might have
expressed my comprehension of it at that timeif I had been called
uponI nevertheless did clearly comprehend in my own waythat it
was another name for tyranny; and for a certain gloomyarrogant
devil's humourthat was in them both. The creedas I should
state it nowwas this. Mr. Murdstone was firm; nobody in his
world was to be so firm as Mr. Murdstone; nobody else in his world
was to be firm at allfor everybody was to be bent to his
firmness. Miss Murdstone was an exception. She might be firmbut
only by relationshipand in an inferior and tributary degree. My
mother was another exception. She might be firmand must be; but
only in bearing their firmnessand firmly believing there was no
other firmness upon earth.

'It's very hard' said my mother'that in my own house -'

'My own house?' repeated Mr. Murdstone. 'Clara!'

'OUR own houseI mean' faltered my motherevidently frightened

-'I hope you must know what I meanEdward - it's very hard that
in YOUR own house I may not have a word to say about domestic
matters. I am sure I managed very well before we were married.
There's evidence' said my mothersobbing; 'ask Peggotty if I
didn't do very well when I wasn't interfered with!'
'Edward' said Miss Murdstone'let there be an end of this. I go
tomorrow.'

'Jane Murdstone' said her brother'be silent! How dare you to
insinuate that you don't know my character better than your words
imply?'


'I am sure' my poor mother went onat a grievous disadvantage
and with many tears'I don't want anybody to go. I should be very
miserable and unhappy if anybody was to go. I don't ask much. I
am not unreasonable. I only want to be consulted sometimes. I am
very much obliged to anybody who assists meand I only want to be
consulted as a mere formsometimes. I thought you were pleased
oncewith my being a little inexperienced and girlishEdward - I
am sure you said so - but you seem to hate me for it nowyou are
so severe.'

'Edward' said Miss Murdstoneagain'let there be an end of this.
I go tomorrow.'

'Jane Murdstone' thundered Mr. Murdstone. 'Will you be silent?
How dare you?'

Miss Murdstone made a jail-delivery of her pocket-handkerchiefand
held it before her eyes.

'Clara' he continuedlooking at my mother'you surprise me! You
astound me! YesI had a satisfaction in the thought of marrying
an inexperienced and artless personand forming her characterand
infusing into it some amount of that firmness and decision of which
it stood in need. But when Jane Murdstone is kind enough to come
to my assistance in this endeavourand to assumefor my sakea
condition something like a housekeeper'sand when she meets with
a base return -'

'OhprayprayEdward' cried my mother'don't accuse me of
being ungrateful. I am sure I am not ungrateful. No one ever said
I was before. I have many faultsbut not that. Ohdon'tmy
dear!'

'When Jane Murdstone meetsI say' he went onafter waiting until
my mother was silent'with a base returnthat feeling of mine is
chilled and altered.'

'Don'tmy lovesay that!' implored my mother very piteously.
'Ohdon'tEdward! I can't bear to hear it. Whatever I amI am
affectionate. I know I am affectionate. I wouldn't say itif I
wasn't sure that I am. Ask Peggotty. I am sure she'll tell you
I'm affectionate.'

'There is no extent of mere weaknessClara' said Mr. Murdstone in
reply'that can have the least weight with me. You lose breath.'

'Pray let us be friends' said my mother'I couldn't live under
coldness or unkindness. I am so sorry. I have a great many
defectsI knowand it's very good of youEdwardwith your
strength of mindto endeavour to correct them for me. JaneI
don't object to anything. I should be quite broken-hearted if you
thought of leaving -' My mother was too much overcome to go on.

'Jane Murdstone' said Mr. Murdstone to his sister'any harsh
words between us areI hopeuncommon. It is not my fault that so
unusual an occurrence has taken place tonight. I was betrayed into
it by another. Nor is it your fault. You were betrayed into it by
another. Let us both try to forget it. And as this' he added
after these magnanimous words'is not a fit scene for the boy -
Davidgo to bed!'

I could hardly find the doorthrough the tears that stood in my
eyes. I was so sorry for my mother's distress; but I groped my way
outand groped my way up to my room in the darkwithout even


having the heart to say good night to Peggottyor to get a candle
from her. When her coming up to look for mean hour or so
afterwardsawoke meshe said that my mother had gone to bed
poorlyand that Mr. and Miss Murdstone were sitting alone.

Going down next morning rather earlier than usualI paused outside
the parlour dooron hearing my mother's voice. She was very
earnestly and humbly entreating Miss Murdstone's pardonwhich that
lady grantedand a perfect reconciliation took place. I never
knew my mother afterwards to give an opinion on any matterwithout
first appealing to Miss Murdstoneor without having first
ascertained by some sure meanswhat Miss Murdstone's opinion was;
and I never saw Miss Murdstonewhen out of temper (she was infirm
that way)move her hand towards her bag as if she were going to
take out the keys and offer to resign them to my motherwithout
seeing that my mother was in a terrible fright.

The gloomy taint that was in the Murdstone blooddarkened the
Murdstone religionwhich was austere and wrathful. I have
thoughtsincethat its assuming that character was a necessary
consequence of Mr. Murdstone's firmnesswhich wouldn't allow him
to let anybody off from the utmost weight of the severest penalties
he could find any excuse for. Be this as it mayI well remember
the tremendous visages with which we used to go to churchand the
changed air of the place. Againthe dreaded Sunday comes round
and I file into the old pew firstlike a guarded captive brought
to a condemned service. AgainMiss Murdstonein a black velvet
gownthat looks as if it had been made out of a pallfollows
close upon me; then my mother; then her husband. There is no
Peggotty nowas in the old time. AgainI listen to Miss
Murdstone mumbling the responsesand emphasizing all the dread
words with a cruel relish. AgainI see her dark eyes roll round
the church when she says 'miserable sinners'as if she were
calling all the congregation names. AgainI catch rare glimpses
of my mothermoving her lips timidly between the twowith one of
them muttering at each ear like low thunder. AgainI wonder with
a sudden fear whether it is likely that our good old clergyman can
be wrongand Mr. and Miss Murdstone rightand that all the angels
in Heaven can be destroying angels. Againif I move a finger or
relax a muscle of my faceMiss Murdstone pokes me with her
prayer-bookand makes my side ache.

Yesand againas we walk homeI note some neighbours looking at
my mother and at meand whispering. Againas the three go on
arm-in-armand I linger behind aloneI follow some of those
looksand wonder if my mother's step be really not so light as I
have seen itand if the gaiety of her beauty be really almost
worried away. AgainI wonder whether any of the neighbours call
to mindas I dohow we used to walk home togethershe and I; and
I wonder stupidly about thatall the dreary dismal day.

There had been some talk on occasions of my going to boardingschool.
Mr. and Miss Murdstone had originated itand my mother
had of course agreed with them. Nothinghoweverwas concluded on
the subject yet. In the meantimeI learnt lessons at home.
Shall I ever forget those lessons! They were presided over
nominally by my motherbut really by Mr. Murdstone and his sister
who were always presentand found them a favourable occasion for
giving my mother lessons in that miscalled firmnesswhich was the
bane of both our lives. I believe I was kept at home for that
purpose. I had been apt enough to learnand willing enoughwhen
my mother and I had lived alone together. I can faintly remember
learning the alphabet at her knee. To this daywhen I look upon
the fat black letters in the primerthe puzzling novelty of their


shapesand the easy good-nature of O and Q and Sseem to present
themselves again before me as they used to do. But they recall no
feeling of disgust or reluctance. On the contraryI seem to have
walked along a path of flowers as far as the crocodile-bookand to
have been cheered by the gentleness of my mother's voice and manner
all the way. But these solemn lessons which succeeded thoseI
remember as the death-blow of my peaceand a grievous daily
drudgery and misery. They were very longvery numerousvery hard

-perfectly unintelligiblesome of themto me - and I was
generally as much bewildered by them as I believe my poor mother
was herself.
Let me remember how it used to beand bring one morning back
again.

I come into the second-best parlour after breakfastwith my books
and an exercise-bookand a slate. My mother is ready for me at
her writing-deskbut not half so ready as Mr. Murdstone in his
easy-chair by the window (though he pretends to be reading a book)
or as Miss Murdstonesitting near my mother stringing steel beads.
The very sight of these two has such an influence over methat I
begin to feel the words I have been at infinite pains to get into
my headall sliding awayand going I don't know where. I wonder
where they do goby the by?

I hand the first book to my mother. Perhaps it is a grammar
perhaps a historyor geography. I take a last drowning look at
the page as I give it into her handand start off aloud at a
racing pace while I have got it fresh. I trip over a word. Mr.
Murdstone looks up. I trip over another word. Miss Murdstone
looks up. I reddentumble over half-a-dozen wordsand stop. I
think my mother would show me the book if she daredbut she does
not dareand she says softly:

'OhDavyDavy!'

'NowClara' says Mr. Murdstone'be firm with the boy. Don't
sayOh, Davy, Davy!That's childish. He knows his lessonor
he does not know it.'

'He does NOT know it' Miss Murdstone interposes awfully.

'I am really afraid he does not' says my mother.

'Thenyou seeClara' returns Miss Murdstone'you should just
give him the book backand make him know it.'

'Yescertainly' says my mother; 'that is what I intend to domy
dear Jane. NowDavytry once moreand don't be stupid.'

I obey the first clause of the injunction by trying once morebut
am not so successful with the secondfor I am very stupid. I
tumble down before I get to the old placeat a point where I was
all right beforeand stop to think. But I can't think about the
lesson. I think of the number of yards of net in Miss Murdstone's
capor of the price of Mr. Murdstone's dressing-gownor any such
ridiculous problem that I have no business withand don't want to
have anything at all to do with. Mr. Murdstone makes a movement of
impatience which I have been expecting for a long time. Miss
Murdstone does the same. My mother glances submissively at them
shuts the bookand lays it by as an arrear to be worked out when
my other tasks are done.

There is a pile of these arrears very soonand it swells like a


rolling snowball. The bigger it getsthe more stupid I get. The
case is so hopelessand I feel that I am wallowing in such a bog
of nonsensethat I give up all idea of getting outand abandon
myself to my fate. The despairing way in which my mother and I
look at each otheras I blunder onis truly melancholy. But the
greatest effect in these miserable lessons is when my mother
(thinking nobody is observing her) tries to give me the cue by the
motion of her lips. At that instantMiss Murdstonewho has been
lying in wait for nothing else all alongsays in a deep warning
voice:

'Clara!'

My mother startscoloursand smiles faintly. Mr. Murdstone comes
out of his chairtakes the bookthrows it at me or boxes my ears
with itand turns me out of the room by the shoulders.

Even when the lessons are donethe worst is yet to happenin the
shape of an appalling sum. This is invented for meand delivered
to me orally by Mr. Murdstoneand begins'If I go into a
cheesemonger's shopand buy five thousand double-Gloucester
cheeses at fourpence-halfpenny eachpresent payment' - at which I
see Miss Murdstone secretly overjoyed. I pore over these cheeses
without any result or enlightenment until dinner-timewhenhaving
made a Mulatto of myself by getting the dirt of the slate into the
pores of my skinI have a slice of bread to help me out with the
cheesesand am considered in disgrace for the rest of the evening.

It seems to meat this distance of timeas if my unfortunate
studies generally took this course. I could have done very well if
I had been without the Murdstones; but the influence of the
Murdstones upon me was like the fascination of two snakes on a
wretched young bird. Even when I did get through the morning with
tolerable creditthere was not much gained but dinner; for Miss
Murdstone never could endure to see me untaskedand if I rashly
made any show of being unemployedcalled her brother's attention
to me by saying'Claramy dearthere's nothing like work - give
your boy an exercise'; which caused me to be clapped down to some
new labourthere and then. As to any recreation with other
children of my ageI had very little of that; for the gloomy
theology of the Murdstones made all children out to be a swarm of
little vipers (though there WAS a child once set in the midst of
the Disciples)and held that they contaminated one another.

The natural result of this treatmentcontinuedI supposefor
some six months or morewas to make me sullendulland dogged.
I was not made the less so by my sense of being daily more and more
shut out and alienated from my mother. I believe I should have
been almost stupefied but for one circumstance.

It was this. My father had left a small collection of books in a
little room upstairsto which I had access (for it adjoined my
own) and which nobody else in our house ever troubled. From that
blessed little roomRoderick RandomPeregrine PickleHumphrey
ClinkerTom Jonesthe Vicar of WakefieldDon QuixoteGil Blas
and Robinson Crusoecame outa glorious hostto keep me company.
They kept alive my fancyand my hope of something beyond that
place and time- theyand the Arabian Nightsand the Tales of
the Genii- and did me no harm; for whatever harm was in some of
them was not there for me; I knew nothing of it. It is astonishing
to me nowhow I found timein the midst of my porings and
blunderings over heavier themesto read those books as I did. It
is curious to me how I could ever have consoled myself under my
small troubles (which were great troubles to me)by impersonating


my favourite characters in them - as I did - and by putting Mr. and
Miss Murdstone into all the bad ones - which I did too. I have
been Tom Jones (a child's Tom Jonesa harmless creature) for a
week together. I have sustained my own idea of Roderick Random for
a month at a stretchI verily believe. I had a greedy relish for
a few volumes of Voyages and Travels - I forget whatnow - that
were on those shelves; and for days and days I can remember to have
gone about my region of our housearmed with the centre-piece out
of an old set of boot-trees - the perfect realization of Captain
Somebodyof the Royal British Navyin danger of being beset by
savagesand resolved to sell his life at a great price. The
Captain never lost dignityfrom having his ears boxed with the
Latin Grammar. I did; but the Captain was a Captain and a heroin
despite of all the grammars of all the languages in the worlddead
or alive.

This was my only and my constant comfort. When I think of itthe
picture always rises in my mindof a summer eveningthe boys at
play in the churchyardand I sitting on my bedreading as if for
life. Every barn in the neighbourhoodevery stone in the church
and every foot of the churchyardhad some association of its own
in my mindconnected with these booksand stood for some locality
made famous in them. I have seen Tom Pipes go climbing up the
church-steeple; I have watched Strapwith the knapsack on his
backstopping to rest himself upon the wicket-gate; and I know
that Commodore Trunnion held that club with Mr. Picklein the
parlour of our little village alehouse.

The reader now understandsas well as I dowhat I was when I came
to that point of my youthful history to which I am now coming
again.

One morning when I went into the parlour with my booksI found my
mother looking anxiousMiss Murdstone looking firmand Mr.
Murdstone binding something round the bottom of a cane - a lithe
and limber canewhich he left off binding when I came inand
poised and switched in the air.

'I tell youClara' said Mr. Murdstone'I have been often flogged
myself.'

'To be sure; of course' said Miss Murdstone.

'Certainlymy dear Jane' faltered my mothermeekly. 'But - but
do you think it did Edward good?'

'Do you think it did Edward harmClara?' asked Mr. Murdstone
gravely.

'That's the point' said his sister.

To this my mother returned'Certainlymy dear Jane' and said no
more.

I felt apprehensive that I was personally interested in this
dialogueand sought Mr. Murdstone's eye as it lighted on mine.

'NowDavid' he said - and I saw that cast again as he said it '
you must be far more careful today than usual.' He gave the cane
another poiseand another switch; and having finished his
preparation of itlaid it down beside himwith an impressive
lookand took up his book.

This was a good freshener to my presence of mindas a beginning.


I felt the words of my lessons slipping offnot one by oneor
line by linebut by the entire page; I tried to lay hold of them;
but they seemedif I may so express itto have put skates onand
to skim away from me with a smoothness there was no checking.

We began badlyand went on worse. I had come in with an idea of
distinguishing myself ratherconceiving that I was very well
prepared; but it turned out to be quite a mistake. Book after book
was added to the heap of failuresMiss Murdstone being firmly
watchful of us all the time. And when we came at last to the five
thousand cheeses (canes he made it that dayI remember)my mother
burst out crying.

'Clara!' said Miss Murdstonein her warning voice.

'I am not quite wellmy dear JaneI think' said my mother.

I saw him winksolemnlyat his sisteras he rose and said
taking up the cane:

'WhyJanewe can hardly expect Clara to bearwith perfect
firmnessthe worry and torment that David has occasioned her
today. That would be stoical. Clara is greatly strengthened and
improvedbut we can hardly expect so much from her. Davidyou
and I will go upstairsboy.'

As he took me out at the doormy mother ran towards us. Miss
Murdstone said'Clara! are you a perfect fool?' and interfered.
I saw my mother stop her ears thenand I heard her crying.

He walked me up to my room slowly and gravely - I am certain he had
a delight in that formal parade of executing justice - and when we
got theresuddenly twisted my head under his arm.

'Mr. Murdstone! Sir!' I cried to him. 'Don't! Pray don't beat
me! I have tried to learnsirbut I can't learn while you and
Miss Murdstone are by. I can't indeed!'

'Can't youindeedDavid?' he said. 'We'll try that.'

He had my head as in a vicebut I twined round him somehowand
stopped him for a momententreating him not to beat me. It was
only a moment that I stopped himfor he cut me heavily an instant
afterwardsand in the same instant I caught the hand with which he
held me in my mouthbetween my teethand bit it through. It sets
my teeth on edge to think of it.

He beat me thenas if he would have beaten me to death. Above all
the noise we madeI heard them running up the stairsand crying
out - I heard my mother crying out - and Peggotty. Then he was
gone; and the door was locked outside; and I was lyingfevered and
hotand tornand soreand raging in my puny wayupon the floor.

How well I recollectwhen I became quietwhat an unnatural
stillness seemed to reign through the whole house! How well I
rememberwhen my smart and passion began to coolhow wicked I
began to feel!

I sat listening for a long whilebut there was not a sound. I
crawled up from the floorand saw my face in the glassso
swollenredand ugly that it almost frightened me. My stripes
were sore and stiffand made me cry afreshwhen I moved; but they
were nothing to the guilt I felt. It lay heavier on my breast than
if I had been a most atrocious criminalI dare say.


It had begun to grow darkand I had shut the window (I had been
lyingfor the most partwith my head upon the sillby turns
cryingdozingand looking listlessly out)when the key was
turnedand Miss Murdstone came in with some bread and meatand
milk. These she put down upon the table without a wordglaring at
me the while with exemplary firmnessand then retiredlocking the
door after her.

Long after it was dark I sat therewondering whether anybody else
would come. When this appeared improbable for that nightI
undressedand went to bed; andthereI began to wonder fearfully
what would be done to me. Whether it was a criminal act that I had
committed? Whether I should be taken into custodyand sent to
prison? Whether I was at all in danger of being hanged?

I never shall forget the wakingnext morning; the being cheerful
and fresh for the first momentand then the being weighed down by
the stale and dismal oppression of remembrance. Miss Murdstone
reappeared before I was out of bed; told mein so many wordsthat
I was free to walk in the garden for half an hour and no longer;
and retiredleaving the door openthat I might avail myself of
that permission.

I did soand did so every morning of my imprisonmentwhich lasted
five days. If I could have seen my mother aloneI should have
gone down on my knees to her and besought her forgiveness; but I
saw no oneMiss Murdstone exceptedduring the whole time - except
at evening prayers in the parlour; to which I was escorted by Miss
Murdstone after everybody else was placed; where I was stationed
a young outlawall alone by myself near the door; and whence I was
solemnly conducted by my jailerbefore any one arose from the
devotional posture. I only observed that my mother was as far off
from me as she could beand kept her face another way so that I
never saw it; and that Mr. Murdstone's hand was bound up in a large
linen wrapper.

The length of those five days I can convey no idea of to any one.
They occupy the place of years in my remembrance. The way in which
I listened to all the incidents of the house that made themselves
audible to me; the ringing of bellsthe opening and shutting of
doorsthe murmuring of voicesthe footsteps on the stairs; to any
laughingwhistlingor singingoutsidewhich seemed more dismal
than anything else to me in my solitude and disgrace - the
uncertain pace of the hoursespecially at nightwhen I would wake
thinking it was morningand find that the family were not yet gone
to bedand that all the length of night had yet to come - the
depressed dreams and nightmares I had - the return of daynoon
afternooneveningwhen the boys played in the churchyardand I
watched them from a distance within the roombeing ashamed to show
myself at the window lest they should know I was a prisoner - the
strange sensation of never hearing myself speak - the fleeting
intervals of something like cheerfulnesswhich came with eating
and drinkingand went away with it - the setting in of rain one
eveningwith a fresh smelland its coming down faster and faster
between me and the churchuntil it and gathering night seemed to
quench me in gloomand fearand remorse - all this appears to
have gone round and round for years instead of daysit is so
vividly and strongly stamped on my remembrance.
On the last night of my restraintI was awakened by hearing my own
name spoken in a whisper. I started up in bedand putting out my
arms in the darksaid:

'Is that youPeggotty?'


There was no immediate answerbut presently I heard my name again
in a tone so very mysterious and awfulthat I think I should have
gone into a fitif it had not occurred to me that it must have
come through the keyhole.

I groped my way to the doorand putting my own lips to the
keyholewhispered: 'Is that youPeggotty dear?'

'Yesmy own precious Davy' she replied. 'Be as soft as a mouse
or the Cat'll hear us.'

I understood this to mean Miss Murdstoneand was sensible of the
urgency of the case; her room being close by.

'How's mamadear Peggotty? Is she very angry with me?'

I could hear Peggotty crying softly on her side of the keyholeas
I was doing on minebefore she answered. 'No. Not very.'

'What is going to be done with mePeggotty dear? Do you know?'

'School. Near London' was Peggotty's answer. I was obliged to
get her to repeat itfor she spoke it the first time quite down my
throatin consequence of my having forgotten to take my mouth away
from the keyhole and put my ear there; and though her words tickled
me a good dealI didn't hear them.

'WhenPeggotty?'

'Tomorrow.'

'Is that the reason why Miss Murdstone took the clothes out of my
drawers?' which she had donethough I have forgotten to mention
it.

'Yes' said Peggotty. 'Box.'

'Shan't I see mama?'

'Yes' said Peggotty. 'Morning.'

Then Peggotty fitted her mouth close to the keyholeand delivered
these words through it with as much feeling and earnestness as a
keyhole has ever been the medium of communicatingI will venture
to assert: shooting in each broken little sentence in a convulsive
little burst of its own.

'Davydear. If I ain't been azackly as intimate with you.
Latelyas I used to be. It ain't because I don't love you. just
as well and moremy pretty poppet. It's because I thought it
better for you. And for someone else besides. Davymy darling
are you listening? Can you hear?'

'Ye-ye-ye-yesPeggotty!' I sobbed.

'My own!' said Peggottywith infinite compassion. 'What I want to
sayis. That you must never forget me. For I'll never forget
you. And I'll take as much care of your mamaDavy. As ever I
took of you. And I won't leave her. The day may come when she'll
be glad to lay her poor head. On her stupidcross old Peggotty's
arm again. And I'll write to youmy dear. Though I ain't no
scholar. And I'll - I'll -' Peggotty fell to kissing the keyhole
as she couldn't kiss me.


'Thank youdear Peggotty!' said I. 'Ohthank you! Thank you!
Will you promise me one thingPeggotty? Will you write and tell
Mr. Peggotty and little Em'lyand Mrs. Gummidge and Hamthat I am
not so bad as they might supposeand that I sent 'em all my love

-especially to little Em'ly? Will youif you pleasePeggotty?'
The kind soul promisedand we both of us kissed the keyhole with
the greatest affection - I patted it with my handI recollectas
if it had been her honest face - and parted. From that night there
grew up in my breast a feeling for Peggotty which I cannot very
well define. She did not replace my mother; no one could do that;
but she came into a vacancy in my heartwhich closed upon herand
I felt towards her something I have never felt for any other human
being. It was a sort of comical affectiontoo; and yet if she had
diedI cannot think what I should have doneor how I should have
acted out the tragedy it would have been to me.

In the morning Miss Murdstone appeared as usualand told me I was
going to school; which was not altogether such news to me as she
supposed. She also informed me that when I was dressedI was to
come downstairs into the parlourand have my breakfast. ThereI
found my mothervery pale and with red eyes: into whose arms I
ranand begged her pardon from my suffering soul.

'OhDavy!' she said. 'That you could hurt anyone I love! Try to
be betterpray to be better! I forgive you; but I am so grieved
Davythat you should have such bad passions in your heart.'

They had persuaded her that I was a wicked fellowand she was more
sorry for that than for my going away. I felt it sorely. I tried
to eat my parting breakfastbut my tears dropped upon my breadand-
butterand trickled into my tea. I saw my mother look at me
sometimesand then glance at the watchful Miss Murdstoneand than
look downor look away.

'Master Copperfield's box there!' said Miss Murdstonewhen wheels
were heard at the gate.

I looked for Peggottybut it was not she; neither she nor Mr.
Murdstone appeared. My former acquaintancethe carrierwas at
the door. the box was taken out to his cartand lifted in.

'Clara!' said Miss Murdstonein her warning note.

'Readymy dear Jane' returned my mother. 'Good-byeDavy. You
are going for your own good. Good-byemy child. You will come
home in the holidaysand be a better boy.'

'Clara!' Miss Murdstone repeated.

'Certainlymy dear Jane' replied my motherwho was holding me.
'I forgive youmy dear boy. God bless you!'

'Clara!' Miss Murdstone repeated.

Miss Murdstone was good enough to take me out to the cartand to
say on the way that she hoped I would repentbefore I came to a
bad end; and then I got into the cartand the lazy horse walked
off with it.

CHAPTER 5


I AM SENT AWAY FROM HOME

We might have gone about half a mileand my pocket-handkerchief
was quite wet throughwhen the carrier stopped short. Looking out
to ascertain for whatI sawto MY amazementPeggotty burst from
a hedge and climb into the cart. She took me in both her armsand
squeezed me to her stays until the pressure on my nose was
extremely painfulthough I never thought of that till afterwards
when I found it very tender. Not a single word did Peggotty speak.
Releasing one of her armsshe put it down in her pocket to the
elbowand brought out some paper bags of cakes which she crammed
into my pocketsand a purse which she put into my handbut not
one word did she say. After another and a final squeeze with both
armsshe got down from the cart and ran away; andmy belief is
and has always beenwithout a solitary button on her gown. I
picked up oneof several that were rolling aboutand treasured it
as a keepsake for a long time.

The carrier looked at meas if to inquire if she were coming back.
I shook my headand said I thought not. 'Then come up' said the
carrier to the lazy horse; who came up accordingly.

Having by this time cried as much as I possibly couldI began to
think it was of no use crying any moreespecially as neither
Roderick Randomnor that Captain in the Royal British Navyhad
ever criedthat I could rememberin trying situations. The
carrierseeing me in this resolutionproposed that my pockethandkerchief
should be spread upon the horse's back to dry. I
thanked himand assented; and particularly small it lookedunder
those circumstances.

I had now leisure to examine the purse. It was a stiff leather
pursewith a snapand had three bright shillings in itwhich
Peggotty had evidently polished up with whiteningfor my greater
delight. But its most precious contents were two half-crowns
folded together in a bit of paperon which was writtenin my
mother's hand'For Davy. With my love.' I was so overcome by
thisthat I asked the carrier to be so good as to reach me my
pocket-handkerchief again; but he said he thought I had better do
without itand I thought I really hadso I wiped my eyes on my
sleeve and stopped myself.

For goodtoo; thoughin consequence of my previous emotionsI
was still occasionally seized with a stormy sob. After we had
jogged on for some little timeI asked the carrier if he was going
all the way.

'All the way where?' inquired the carrier.

'There' I said.

'Where's there?' inquired the carrier.

'Near London' I said.

'Why that horse' said the carrierjerking the rein to point him
out'would be deader than pork afore he got over half the ground.'

'Are you only going to Yarmouth then?' I asked.

'That's about it' said the carrier. 'And there I shall take you
to the stage-cutchand the stage-cutch that'll take you to wherever
it is.'


As this was a great deal for the carrier (whose name was Mr.
Barkis) to say - he beingas I observed in a former chapterof a
phlegmatic temperamentand not at all conversational - I offered
him a cake as a mark of attentionwhich he ate at one gulp
exactly like an elephantand which made no more impression on his
big face than it would have done on an elephant's.


'Did SHE make 'emnow?' said Mr. Barkisalways leaning forward
in his slouching wayon the footboard of the cart with an arm on
each knee.


'Peggottydo you meansir?'


'Ah!' said Mr. Barkis. 'Her.'


'Yes. She makes all our pastryand does all our cooking.'


'Do she though?' said Mr. Barkis.
He made up his mouth as if to whistlebut he didn't whistle. He
sat looking at the horse's earsas if he saw something new there;
and sat sofor a considerable time. By and byhe said:


'No sweetheartsI b'lieve?'


'Sweetmeats did you sayMr. Barkis?' For I thought he wanted
something else to eatand had pointedly alluded to that
description of refreshment.


'Hearts' said Mr. Barkis. 'Sweet hearts; no person walks with
her!'


'With Peggotty?'


'Ah!' he said. 'Her.'


'Ohno. She never had a sweetheart.'


'Didn't shethough!' said Mr. Barkis.


Again he made up his mouth to whistleand again he didn't whistle
but sat looking at the horse's ears.


'So she makes' said Mr. Barkisafter a long interval of
reflection'all the apple parstiesand doos all the cookingdo
she?'


I replied that such was the fact.


'Well. I'll tell you what' said Mr. Barkis. 'P'raps you might be
writin' to her?'


'I shall certainly write to her' I rejoined.


'Ah!' he saidslowly turning his eyes towards me. 'Well! If you
was writin' to herp'raps you'd recollect to say that Barkis was
willin'; would you?'


'That Barkis is willing' I repeatedinnocently. 'Is that all the
message?'


'Ye-es' he saidconsidering. 'Ye-es. Barkis is willin'.'


'But you will be at Blunderstone again tomorrowMr. Barkis' I



saidfaltering a little at the idea of my being far away from it
thenand could give your own message so much better.'

As he repudiated this suggestionhoweverwith a jerk of his head
and once more confirmed his previous request by sayingwith
profound gravity'Barkis is willin'. That's the message' I
readily undertook its transmission. While I was waiting for the
coach in the hotel at Yarmouth that very afternoonI procured a
sheet of paper and an inkstandand wrote a note to Peggottywhich
ran thus: 'My dear Peggotty. I have come here safe. Barkis is
willing. My love to mama. Yours affectionately. P.S. He says he
particularly wants you to know - BARKIS IS WILLING.'

When I had taken this commission on myself prospectivelyMr.
Barkis relapsed into perfect silence; and Ifeeling quite worn out
by all that had happened latelylay down on a sack in the cart and
fell asleep. I slept soundly until we got to Yarmouth; which was
so entirely new and strange to me in the inn-yard to which we
drovethat I at once abandoned a latent hope I had had of meeting
with some of Mr. Peggotty's family thereperhaps even with little
Em'ly herself.

The coach was in the yardshining very much all overbut without
any horses to it as yet; and it looked in that state as if nothing
was more unlikely than its ever going to London. I was thinking
thisand wondering what would ultimately become of my boxwhich
Mr. Barkis had put down on the yard-pavement by the pole (he having
driven up the yard to turn his cart)and also what would
ultimately become of mewhen a lady looked out of a bow-window
where some fowls and joints of meat were hanging upand said:

'Is that the little gentleman from Blunderstone?'

'Yesma'am' I said.

'What name?' inquired the lady.

'Copperfieldma'am' I said.

'That won't do' returned the lady. 'Nobody's dinner is paid for
herein that name.'

'Is it Murdstonema'am?' I said.

'If you're Master Murdstone' said the lady'why do you go and
give another namefirst?'

I explained to the lady how it waswho than rang a belland
called out'William! show the coffee-room!' upon which a waiter
came running out of a kitchen on the opposite side of the yard to
show itand seemed a good deal surprised when he was only to show
it to me.

It was a large long room with some large maps in it. I doubt if I
could have felt much stranger if the maps had been real foreign
countriesand I cast away in the middle of them. I felt it was
taking a liberty to sit downwith my cap in my handon the corner
of the chair nearest the door; and when the waiter laid a cloth on
purpose for meand put a set of castors on itI think I must have
turned red all over with modesty.

He brought me some chopsand vegetablesand took the covers off
in such a bouncing manner that I was afraid I must have given him
some offence. But he greatly relieved my mind by putting a chair


for me at the tableand sayingvery affably'Nowsix-foot! come
on!'

I thanked himand took my seat at the board; but found it
extremely difficult to handle my knife and fork with anything like
dexterityor to avoid splashing myself with the gravywhile he
was standing oppositestaring so hardand making me blush in the
most dreadful manner every time I caught his eye. After watching
me into the second chophe said:

'There's half a pint of ale for you. Will you have it now?'

I thanked him and said'Yes.' Upon which he poured it out of a
jug into a large tumblerand held it up against the lightand
made it look beautiful.

'My eye!' he said. 'It seems a good dealdon't it?'

'It does seem a good deal' I answered with a smile. For it was
quite delightful to meto find him so pleasant. He was a
twinkling-eyedpimple-faced manwith his hair standing upright
all over his head; and as he stood with one arm a-kimboholding up
the glass to the light with the other handhe looked quite
friendly.

'There was a gentleman hereyesterday' he said - 'a stout
gentlemanby the name of Topsawyer - perhaps you know him?'

'No' I said'I don't think -'

'In breeches and gaitersbroad-brimmed hatgrey coatspeckled
choker' said the waiter.

'No' I said bashfully'I haven't the pleasure -'

'He came in here' said the waiterlooking at the light through
the tumbler'ordered a glass of this ale - WOULD order it - I told
him not - drank itand fell dead. It was too old for him. It
oughtn't to be drawn; that's the fact.'

I was very much shocked to hear of this melancholy accidentand
said I thought I had better have some water.

'Why you see' said the waiterstill looking at the light through
the tumblerwith one of his eyes shut up'our people don't like
things being ordered and left. It offends 'em. But I'll drink it
if you like. I'm used to itand use is everything. I don't think
it'll hurt meif I throw my head backand take it off quick.
Shall I?'

I replied that he would much oblige me by drinking itif he
thought he could do it safelybut by no means otherwise. When he
did throw his head backand take it off quickI had a horrible
fearI confessof seeing him meet the fate of the lamented Mr.
Topsawyerand fall lifeless on the carpet. But it didn't hurt
him. On the contraryI thought he seemed the fresher for it.

'What have we got here?' he saidputting a fork into my dish.
'Not chops?'

'Chops' I said.

'Lord bless my soul!' he exclaimed'I didn't know they were chops.
Whya chop's the very thing to take off the bad effects of that


beer! Ain't it lucky?'

So he took a chop by the bone in one handand a potato in the
otherand ate away with a very good appetiteto my extreme
satisfaction. He afterwards took another chopand another potato;
and after thatanother chop and another potato. When we had done
he brought me a puddingand having set it before meseemed to
ruminateand to become absent in his mind for some moments.

'How's the pie?' he saidrousing himself.

'It's a pudding' I made answer.

'Pudding!' he exclaimed. 'Whybless meso it is! What!' looking
at it nearer. 'You don't mean to say it's a batter-pudding!'

'Yesit is indeed.'

'Whya batter-pudding' he saidtaking up a table-spoon'is my
favourite pudding! Ain't that lucky? Come onlittle 'unand
let's see who'll get most.'

The waiter certainly got most. He entreated me more than once to
come in and winbut what with his table-spoon to my tea-spoonhis
dispatch to my dispatchand his appetite to my appetiteI was
left far behind at the first mouthfuland had no chance with him.
I never saw anyone enjoy a pudding so muchI think; and he
laughedwhen it was all goneas if his enjoyment of it lasted
still.

Finding him so very friendly and companionableit was then that I
asked for the pen and ink and paperto write to Peggotty. He not
only brought it immediatelybut was good enough to look over me
while I wrote the letter. When I had finished ithe asked me
where I was going to school.

I said'Near London' which was all I knew.

'Oh! my eye!' he saidlooking very low-spirited'I am sorry for
that.'

'Why?' I asked him.

'OhLord!' he saidshaking his head'that's the school where
they broke the boy's ribs - two ribs - a little boy he was. I
should say he was - let me see - how old are youabout?'

I told him between eight and nine.

'That's just his age' he said. 'He was eight years and six months
old when they broke his first rib; eight years and eight months old
when they broke his secondand did for him.'

I could not disguise from myselfor from the waiterthat this was
an uncomfortable coincidenceand inquired how it was done. His
answer was not cheering to my spiritsfor it consisted of two
dismal words'With whopping.'

The blowing of the coach-horn in the yard was a seasonable
diversionwhich made me get up and hesitatingly inquirein the
mingled pride and diffidence of having a purse (which I took out of
my pocket)if there were anything to pay.

'There's a sheet of letter-paper' he returned. 'Did you ever buy


a sheet of letter-paper?'

I could not remember that I ever had.

'It's dear' he said'on account of the duty. Threepence. That's
the way we're taxed in this country. There's nothing elseexcept
the waiter. Never mind the ink. I lose by that.'

'What should you - what should I - how much ought I to - what would
it be right to pay the waiterif you please?' I stammered
blushing.

'If I hadn't a familyand that family hadn't the cowpock' said
the waiter'I wouldn't take a sixpence. If I didn't support a
aged pairintand a lovely sister' - here the waiter was greatly
agitated - 'I wouldn't take a farthing. If I had a good placeand
was treated well hereI should beg acceptance of a trifleinstead
of taking of it. But I live on broken wittles - and I sleep on the
coals' - here the waiter burst into tears.

I was very much concerned for his misfortunesand felt that any
recognition short of ninepence would be mere brutality and hardness
of heart. Therefore I gave him one of my three bright shillings
which he received with much humility and venerationand spun up
with his thumbdirectly afterwardsto try the goodness of.

It was a little disconcerting to meto findwhen I was being
helped up behind the coachthat I was supposed to have eaten all
the dinner without any assistance. I discovered thisfrom
overhearing the lady in the bow-window say to the guard'Take care
of that childGeorgeor he'll burst!' and from observing that the
women-servants who were about the place came out to look and giggle
at me as a young phenomenon. My unfortunate friend the waiterwho
had quite recovered his spiritsdid not appear to be disturbed by
thisbut joined in the general admiration without being at all
confused. If I had any doubt of himI suppose this half awakened
it; but I am inclined to believe that with the simple confidence of
a childand the natural reliance of a child upon superior years
(qualities I am very sorry any children should prematurely change
for worldly wisdom)I had no serious mistrust of him on the whole
even then.

I felt it rather hardI must ownto be madewithout deserving
itthe subject of jokes between the coachman and guard as to the
coach drawing heavy behindon account of my sitting thereand as
to the greater expediency of my travelling by waggon. The story of
my supposed appetite getting wind among the outside passengers
they were merry upon it likewise; and asked me whether I was going
to be paid forat schoolas two brothers or threeand whether I
was contracted foror went upon the regular terms; with other
pleasant questions. But the worst of it wasthat I knew I should
be ashamed to eat anythingwhen an opportunity offeredand that
after a rather light dinnerI should remain hungry all night - for
I had left my cakes behindat the hotelin my hurry. My
apprehensions were realized. When we stopped for supper I couldn't
muster courage to take anythough I should have liked it very
muchbut sat by the fire and said I didn't want anything. This
did not save me from more jokeseither; for a husky-voiced
gentleman with a rough facewho had been eating out of a
sandwich-box nearly all the wayexcept when he had been drinking
out of a bottlesaid I was like a boa-constrictor who took enough
at one meal to last him a long time; after whichhe actually
brought a rash out upon himself with boiled beef.


We had started from Yarmouth at three o'clock in the afternoonand
we were due in London about eight next morning. It was Mid-summer
weatherand the evening was very pleasant. When we passed through
a villageI pictured to myself what the insides of the houses were
likeand what the inhabitants were about; and when boys came
running after usand got up behind and swung there for a little
wayI wondered whether their fathers were aliveand whether they
Were happy at home. I had plenty to think ofthereforebesides
my mind running continually on the kind of place I was going to which
was an awful speculation. SometimesI rememberI resigned
myself to thoughts of home and Peggotty; and to endeavouringin a
confused blind wayto recall how I had feltand what sort of boy
I used to bebefore I bit Mr. Murdstone: which I couldn't satisfy
myself about by any meansI seemed to have bitten him in such a
remote antiquity.

The night was not so pleasant as the eveningfor it got chilly;
and being put between two gentlemen (the rough-faced one and
another) to prevent my tumbling off the coachI was nearly
smothered by their falling asleepand completely blocking me up.
They squeezed me so hard sometimesthat I could not help crying
out'Oh! If you please!' - which they didn't like at allbecause
it woke them. Opposite me was an elderly lady in a great fur
cloakwho looked in the dark more like a haystack than a ladyshe
was wrapped up to such a degree. This lady had a basket with her
and she hadn't known what to do with itfor a long timeuntil she
found that on account of my legs being shortit could go
underneath me. It cramped and hurt me sothat it made me
perfectly miserable; but if I moved in the leastand made a glass
that was in the basket rattle against something else (as it was
sure to do)she gave me the cruellest poke with her footand
said'Comedon't YOU fidget. YOUR bones are young enoughI'm
sure!'

At last the sun roseand then my companions seemed to sleep
easier. The difficulties under which they had laboured all night
and which had found utterance in the most terrific gasps and
snortsare not to be conceived. As the sun got highertheir
sleep became lighterand so they gradually one by one awoke. I
recollect being very much surprised by the feint everybody made
thenof not having been to sleep at alland by the uncommon
indignation with which everyone repelled the charge. I labour
under the same kind of astonishment to this dayhaving invariably
observed that of all human weaknessesthe one to which our common
nature is the least disposed to confess (I cannot imagine why) is
the weakness of having gone to sleep in a coach.

What an amazing place London was to me when I saw it in the
distanceand how I believed all the adventures of all my favourite
heroes to be constantly enacting and re-enacting thereand how I
vaguely made it out in my own mind to be fuller of wonders and
wickedness than all the cities of the earthI need not stop here
to relate. We approached it by degreesand gotin due timeto
the inn in the Whitechapel districtfor which we were bound. I
forget whether it was the Blue Bullor the Blue Boar; but I know
it was the Blue Somethingand that its likeness was painted up on
the back of the coach.

The guard's eye lighted on me as he was getting downand he said
at the booking-office door:

'Is there anybody here for a yoongster booked in the name of
Murdstonefrom BloonderstoneSooffolkto be left till called
for?'


Nobody answered.

'Try Copperfieldif you pleasesir' said Ilooking helplessly
down.

'Is there anybody here for a yoongsterbooked in the name of
Murdstonefrom BloonderstoneSooffolkbut owning to the name of
Copperfieldto be left till called for?' said the guard. 'Come!
IS there anybody?'

No. There was nobody. I looked anxiously around; but the inquiry
made no impression on any of the bystandersif I except a man in
gaiterswith one eyewho suggested that they had better put a
brass collar round my neckand tie me up in the stable.

A ladder was broughtand I got down after the ladywho was like
a haystack: not daring to stiruntil her basket was removed. The
coach was clear of passengers by that timethe luggage was very
soon cleared outthe horses had been taken out before the luggage
and now the coach itself was wheeled and backed off by some
hostlersout of the way. Stillnobody appearedto claim the
dusty youngster from BlunderstoneSuffolk.

More solitary than Robinson Crusoewho had nobody to look at him
and see that he was solitaryI went into the booking-officeand
by invitation of the clerk on dutypassed behind the counterand
sat down on the scale at which they weighed the luggage. Hereas
I sat looking at the parcelspackagesand booksand inhaling the
smell of stables (ever since associated with that morning)a
procession of most tremendous considerations began to march through
my mind. Supposing nobody should ever fetch mehow long would
they consent to keep me there? Would they keep me long enough to
spend seven shillings? Should I sleep at night in one of those
wooden binswith the other luggageand wash myself at the pump in
the yard in the morning; or should I be turned out every nightand
expected to come again to be left till called forwhen the office
opened next day? Supposing there was no mistake in the caseand
Mr. Murdstone had devised this plan to get rid of mewhat should
I do? If they allowed me to remain there until my seven shillings
were spentI couldn't hope to remain there when I began to starve.
That would obviously be inconvenient and unpleasant to the
customersbesides entailing on the Blue Whatever-it-wasthe risk
of funeral expenses. If I started off at onceand tried to walk
back homehow could I ever find my wayhow could I ever hope to
walk so farhow could I make sure of anyone but Peggottyeven if
I got back? If I found out the nearest proper authoritiesand
offered myself to go for a soldieror a sailorI was such a
little fellow that it was most likely they wouldn't take me in.
These thoughtsand a hundred other such thoughtsturned me
burning hotand made me giddy with apprehension and dismay. I was
in the height of my fever when a man entered and whispered to the
clerkwho presently slanted me off the scaleand pushed me over
to himas if I were weighedboughtdeliveredand paid for.

As I went out of the officehand in hand with this new
acquaintanceI stole a look at him. He was a gauntsallow young
manwith hollow cheeksand a chin almost as black as Mr.
Murdstone's; but there the likeness endedfor his whiskers were
shaved offand his hairinstead of being glossywas rusty and
dry. He was dressed in a suit of black clothes which were rather
rusty and dry tooand rather short in the sleeves and legs; and he
had a white neck-kerchief onthat was not over-clean. I did not
and do notsuppose that this neck-kerchief was all the linen he


worebut it was all he showed or gave any hint of.

'You're the new boy?' he said.
'Yessir' I said.

I supposed I was. I didn't know.

'I'm one of the masters at Salem House' he said.

I made him a bow and felt very much overawed. I was so ashamed to
allude to a commonplace thing like my boxto a scholar and a
master at Salem Housethat we had gone some little distance from
the yard before I had the hardihood to mention it. We turned back
on my humbly insinuating that it might be useful to me hereafter;
and he told the clerk that the carrier had instructions to call for
it at noon.

'If you pleasesir' I saidwhen we had accomplished about the
same distance as before'is it far?'

'It's down by Blackheath' he said.

'Is that farsir?' I diffidently asked.

'It's a good step' he said. 'We shall go by the stage-coach.
It's about six miles.'

I was so faint and tiredthat the idea of holding out for six
miles morewas too much for me. I took heart to tell him that I
had had nothing all nightand that if he would allow me to buy
something to eatI should be very much obliged to him. He
appeared surprised at this - I see him stop and look at me now and
after considering for a few momentssaid he wanted to call on
an old person who lived not far offand that the best way would be
for me to buy some breador whatever I liked best that was
wholesomeand make my breakfast at her housewhere we could get
some milk.

Accordingly we looked in at a baker's windowand after I had made
a series of proposals to buy everything that was bilious in the
shopand he had rejected them one by onewe decided in favour of
a nice little loaf of brown breadwhich cost me threepence. Then
at a grocer's shopwe bought an egg and a slice of streaky bacon;
which still left what I thought a good deal of changeout of the
second of the bright shillingsand made me consider London a very
cheap place. These provisions laid inwe went on through a great
noise and uproar that confused my weary head beyond description
and over a bridge whichno doubtwas London Bridge (indeed I
think he told me sobut I was half asleep)until we came to the
poor person's housewhich was a part of some alms-housesas I
knew by their lookand by an inscription on a stone over the gate
which said they were established for twenty-five poor women.

The Master at Salem House lifted the latch of one of a number of
little black doors that were all alikeand had each a little
diamond-paned window on one sideand another little diamond- paned
window above; and we went into the little house of one of these
poor old womenwho was blowing a fire to make a little saucepan
boil. On seeing the master enterthe old woman stopped with the
bellows on her kneeand said something that I thought sounded like
'My Charley!' but on seeing me come in tooshe got upand rubbing
her hands made a confused sort of half curtsey.

'Can you cook this young gentleman's breakfast for himif you


please?' said the Master at Salem House.

'Can I?' said the old woman. 'Yes can Isure!'

'How's Mrs. Fibbitson today?' said the Masterlooking at another
old woman in a large chair by the firewho was such a bundle of
clothes that I feel grateful to this hour for not having sat upon
her by mistake.

'Ahshe's poorly' said the first old woman. 'It's one of her bad
days. If the fire was to go outthrough any accidentI verily
believe she'd go out tooand never come to life again.'

As they looked at herI looked at her also. Although it was a
warm dayshe seemed to think of nothing but the fire. I fancied
she was jealous even of the saucepan on it; and I have reason to
know that she took its impressment into the service of boiling my
egg and broiling my baconin dudgeon; for I saw herwith my own
discomfited eyesshake her fist at me oncewhen those culinary
operations were going onand no one else was looking. The sun
streamed in at the little windowbut she sat with her own back and
the back of the large chair towards itscreening the fire as if
she were sedulously keeping IT warminstead of it keeping her
warmand watching it in a most distrustful manner. The completion
of the preparations for my breakfastby relieving the firegave
her such extreme joy that she laughed aloud - and a very
unmelodious laugh she hadI must say.

I sat down to my brown loafmy eggand my rasher of baconwith
a basin of milk besidesand made a most delicious meal. While I
was yet in the full enjoyment of itthe old woman of the house
said to the Master:

'Have you got your flute with you?'

'Yes' he returned.

'Have a blow at it' said the old womancoaxingly. 'Do!'

The Masterupon thisput his hand underneath the skirts of his
coatand brought out his flute in three pieceswhich he screwed
togetherand began immediately to play. My impression isafter
many years of considerationthat there never can have been anybody
in the world who played worse. He made the most dismal sounds I
have ever heard produced by any meansnatural or artificial. I
don't know what the tunes were - if there were such things in the
performance at allwhich I doubt - but the influence of the strain
upon me wasfirstto make me think of all my sorrows until I
could hardly keep my tears back; then to take away my appetite; and
lastlyto make me so sleepy that I couldn't keep my eyes open.
They begin to close againand I begin to nodas the recollection
rises fresh upon me. Once more the little roomwith its open
corner cupboardand its square-backed chairsand its angular
little staircase leading to the room aboveand its three peacock's
feathers displayed over the mantelpiece - I remember wondering when
I first went inwhat that peacock would have thought if he had
known what his finery was doomed to come to - fades from before me
and I nodand sleep. The flute becomes inaudiblethe wheels of
the coach are heard insteadand I am on my journey. The coach
joltsI wake with a startand the flute has come back againand
the Master at Salem House is sitting with his legs crossedplaying
it dolefullywhile the old woman of the house looks on delighted.
She fades in her turnand he fadesand all fadesand there is no
fluteno Masterno Salem Houseno David Copperfieldno anything


but heavy sleep.

I dreamedI thoughtthat once while he was blowing into this
dismal flutethe old woman of the housewho had gone nearer and
nearer to him in her ecstatic admirationleaned over the back of
his chair and gave him an affectionate squeeze round the neck
which stopped his playing for a moment. I was in the middle state
between sleeping and wakingeither then or immediately afterwards;
foras he resumed - it was a real fact that he had stopped playing

-I saw and heard the same old woman ask Mrs. Fibbitson if it
wasn't delicious (meaning the flute)to which Mrs. Fibbitson
replied'Ayay! yes!' and nodded at the fire: to whichI am
persuadedshe gave the credit of the whole performance.
When I seemed to have been dozing a long whilethe Master at Salem
House unscrewed his flute into the three piecesput them up as
beforeand took me away. We found the coach very near at hand
and got upon the roof; but I was so dead sleepythat when we
stopped on the road to take up somebody elsethey put me inside
where there were no passengersand where I slept profoundlyuntil
I found the coach going at a footpace up a steep hill among green
leaves. Presentlyit stoppedand had come to its destination.


A short walk brought us - I mean the Master and me - to Salem
Housewhich was enclosed with a high brick walland looked very
dull. Over a door in this wall was a board with SALEM HousE upon
it; and through a grating in this door we were surveyed when we
rang the bell by a surly facewhich I foundon the door being
openedbelonged to a stout man with a bull-necka wooden leg
overhanging templesand his hair cut close all round his head.


'The new boy' said the Master.


The man with the wooden leg eyed me all over - it didn't take long
for there was not much of me - and locked the gate behind usand
took out the key. We were going up to the houseamong some dark
heavy treeswhen he called after my conductor.
'Hallo!'


We looked backand he was standing at the door of a little lodge
where he livedwith a pair of boots in his hand.


'Here! The cobbler's been' he said'since you've been outMr.
Melland he says he can't mend 'em any more. He says there ain't
a bit of the original boot leftand he wonders you expect it.'


With these words he threw the boots towards Mr. Mellwho went back
a few paces to pick them upand looked at them (very
disconsolatelyI was afraid)as we went on together. I observed
thenfor the first timethat the boots he had on were a good deal
the worse for wearand that his stocking was just breaking out in
one placelike a bud.


Salem House was a square brick building with wings; of a bare and
unfurnished appearance. All about it was so very quietthat I
said to Mr. Mell I supposed the boys were out; but he seemed
surprised at my not knowing that it was holiday-time. That all the
boys were at their several homes. That Mr. Creaklethe
proprietorwas down by the sea-side with Mrs. and Miss Creakle;
and that I was sent in holiday-time as a punishment for my
misdoingall of which he explained to me as we went along.


I gazed upon the schoolroom into which he took meas the most
forlorn and desolate place I had ever seen. I see it now. A long



room with three long rows of desksand six of formsand bristling
all round with pegs for hats and slates. Scraps of old copy-books
and exercises litter the dirty floor. Some silkworms' housesmade
of the same materialsare scattered over the desks. Two miserable
little white miceleft behind by their ownerare running up and
down in a fusty castle made of pasteboard and wirelooking in all
the corners with their red eyes for anything to eat. A birdin a
cage very little bigger than himselfmakes a mournful rattle now
and then in hopping on his perchtwo inches highor dropping from
it; but neither sings nor chirps. There is a strange unwholesome
smell upon the roomlike mildewed corduroyssweet apples wanting
airand rotten books. There could not well be more ink splashed
about itif it had been roofless from its first constructionand
the skies had rainedsnowedhailedand blown ink through the
varying seasons of the year.

Mr. Mell having left me while he took his irreparable boots
upstairsI went softly to the upper end of the roomobserving all
this as I crept along. Suddenly I came upon a pasteboard placard
beautifully writtenwhich was lying on the deskand bore these
words: 'TAKE CARE OF HIM. HE BITES.'

I got upon the desk immediatelyapprehensive of at least a great
dog underneath. Butthough I looked all round with anxious eyes
I could see nothing of him. I was still engaged in peering about
when Mr. Mell came backand asked me what I did up there?

'I beg your pardonsir' says I'if you pleaseI'm looking for
the dog.'

'Dog?' he says. 'What dog?'

'Isn't it a dogsir?'

'Isn't what a dog?'

'That's to be taken care ofsir; that bites.'

'NoCopperfield' says hegravely'that's not a dog. That's a
boy. My instructions areCopperfieldto put this placard on your
back. I am sorry to make such a beginning with youbut I must do
it.' With that he took me downand tied the placardwhich was
neatly constructed for the purposeon my shoulders like a
knapsack; and wherever I wentafterwardsI had the consolation of
carrying it.

What I suffered from that placardnobody can imagine. Whether it
was possible for people to see me or notI always fancied that
somebody was reading it. It was no relief to turn round and find
nobody; for wherever my back wasthere I imagined somebody always
to be. That cruel man with the wooden leg aggravated my
sufferings. He was in authority; and if he ever saw me leaning
against a treeor a wallor the househe roared out from his
lodge door in a stupendous voice'Halloyou sir! You
Copperfield! Show that badge conspicuousor I'll report you!'
The playground was a bare gravelled yardopen to all the back of
the house and the offices; and I knew that the servants read it
and the butcher read itand the baker read it; that everybodyin
a wordwho came backwards and forwards to the houseof a morning
when I was ordered to walk thereread that I was to be taken care
offor I bitI recollect that I positively began to have a dread
of myselfas a kind of wild boy who did bite.

There was an old door in this playgroundon which the boys had a


custom of carving their names. It was completely covered with such
inscriptions. In my dread of the end of the vacation and their
coming backI could not read a boy's namewithout inquiring in
what tone and with what emphasis HE would read'Take care of him.
He bites.' There was one boy - a certain J. Steerforth - who cut
his name very deep and very oftenwhoI conceivedwould read it
in a rather strong voiceand afterwards pull my hair. There was
another boyone Tommy Traddleswho I dreaded would make game of
itand pretend to be dreadfully frightened of me. There was a
thirdGeorge Demplewho I fancied would sing it. I have looked
a little shrinking creatureat that dooruntil the owners of all
the names - there were five-and-forty of them in the school then
Mr. Mell said - seemed to send me to Coventry by general
acclamationand to cry outeach in his own way'Take care of
him. He bites!'

It was the same with the places at the desks and forms. It was the
same with the groves of deserted bedsteads I peeped aton my way
toand when I was inmy own bed. I remember dreaming night after
nightof being with my mother as she used to beor of going to a
party at Mr. Peggotty'sor of travelling outside the stage-coach
or of dining again with my unfortunate friend the waiterand in
all these circumstances making people scream and stareby the
unhappy disclosure that I had nothing on but my little night-shirt
and that placard.

In the monotony of my lifeand in my constant apprehension of the
re-opening of the schoolit was such an insupportable affliction!
I had long tasks every day to do with Mr. Mell; but I did them
there being no Mr. and Miss Murdstone hereand got through them
without disgrace. Beforeand after themI walked about supervised
as I have mentionedby the man with the wooden leg.
How vividly I call to mind the damp about the housethe green
cracked flagstones in the courtan old leaky water-buttand the
discoloured trunks of some of the grim treeswhich seemed to have
dripped more in the rain than other treesand to have blown less
in the sun! At one we dinedMr. Mell and Iat the upper end of
a long bare dining-roomfull of deal tablesand smelling of fat.
Thenwe had more tasks until teawhich Mr. Mell drank out of a
blue teacupand I out of a tin pot. All day longand until seven
or eight in the eveningMr. Mellat his own detached desk in the
schoolroomworked hard with peninkrulerbooksand writingpaper
making out the bills (as I found) for last half-year. When
he had put up his things for the night he took out his fluteand
blew at ituntil I almost thought he would gradually blow his
whole being into the large hole at the topand ooze away at the
keys.

I picture my small self in the dimly-lighted roomssitting with my
head upon my handlistening to the doleful performance of Mr.
Melland conning tomorrow's lessons. I picture myself with my
books shut upstill listening to the doleful performance of Mr.
Melland listening through it to what used to be at homeand to
the blowing of the wind on Yarmouth flatsand feeling very sad and
solitary. I picture myself going up to bedamong the unused
roomsand sitting on my bed-side crying for a comfortable word
from Peggotty. I picture myself coming downstairs in the morning
and looking through a long ghastly gash of a staircase window at
the school-bell hanging on the top of an out-house with a
weathercock above it; and dreading the time when it shall ring J.
Steerforth and the rest to work: which is only secondin my
foreboding apprehensionsto the time when the man with the wooden
leg shall unlock the rusty gate to give admission to the awful Mr.
Creakle. I cannot think I was a very dangerous character in any of


these aspectsbut in all of them I carried the same warning on my
back.

Mr. Mell never said much to mebut he was never harsh to me. I
suppose we were company to each otherwithout talking. I forgot
to mention that he would talk to himself sometimesand grinand
clench his fistand grind his teethand pull his hair in an
unaccountable manner. But he had these peculiarities: and at first
they frightened methough I soon got used to them.

CHAPTER 6
I ENLARGE MY CIRCLE OF ACQUAINTANCE

I HAD led this life about a monthwhen the man with the wooden leg
began to stump about with a mop and a bucket of waterfrom which
I inferred that preparations were making to receive Mr. Creakle and
the boys. I was not mistaken; for the mop came into the schoolroom
before longand turned out Mr. Mell and mewho lived where we
couldand got on how we couldfor some daysduring which we were
always in the way of two or three young womenwho had rarely shown
themselves beforeand were so continually in the midst of dust
that I sneezed almost as much as if Salem House had been a great
snuff-box.

One day I was informed by Mr. Mell that Mr. Creakle would be home
that evening. In the eveningafter teaI heard that he was come.
Before bedtimeI was fetched by the man with the wooden leg to
appear before him.

Mr. Creakle's part of the house was a good deal more comfortable
than oursand he had a snug bit of garden that looked pleasant
after the dusty playgroundwhich was such a desert in miniature
that I thought no one but a camelor a dromedarycould have felt
at home in it. It seemed to me a bold thing even to take notice
that the passage looked comfortableas I went on my way
tremblingto Mr. Creakle's presence: which so abashed mewhen I
was ushered into itthat I hardly saw Mrs. Creakle or Miss Creakle
(who were both therein the parlour)or anything but Mr. Creakle
a stout gentleman with a bunch of watch-chain and sealsin an
arm-chairwith a tumbler and bottle beside him.

'So!' said Mr. Creakle. 'This is the young gentleman whose teeth
are to be filed! Turn him round.'

The wooden-legged man turned me about so as to exhibit the placard;
and having afforded time for a full survey of itturned me about
againwith my face to Mr. Creakleand posted himself at Mr.
Creakle's side. Mr. Creakle's face was fieryand his eyes were
smalland deep in his head; he had thick veins in his foreheada
little noseand a large chin. He was bald on the top of his head;
and had some thin wet-looking hair that was just turning grey
brushed across each templeso that the two sides interlaced on his
forehead. But the circumstance about him which impressed me most
wasthat he had no voicebut spoke in a whisper. The exertion
this cost himor the consciousness of talking in that feeble way
made his angry face so much more angryand his thick veins so much
thickerwhen he spokethat I am not surprisedon looking back
at this peculiarity striking me as his chief one.
'Now' said Mr. Creakle. 'What's the report of this boy?'

'There's nothing against him yet' returned the man with the wooden


leg. 'There has been no opportunity.'


I thought Mr. Creakle was disappointed. I thought Mrs. and Miss
Creakle (at whom I now glanced for the first timeand who were
boththin and quiet) were not disappointed.


'Come heresir!' said Mr. Creaklebeckoning to me.


'Come here!' said the man with the wooden legrepeating the
gesture.


'I have the happiness of knowing your father-in-law' whispered Mr.
Creakletaking me by the ear; 'and a worthy man he isand a man
of a strong character. He knows meand I know him. Do YOU know
me? Hey?' said Mr. Creaklepinching my ear with ferocious
playfulness.


'Not yetsir' I saidflinching with the pain.


'Not yet? Hey?' repeated Mr. Creakle. 'But you will soon. Hey?'


'You will soon. Hey?' repeated the man with the wooden leg. I
afterwards found that he generally actedwith his strong voiceas
Mr. Creakle's interpreter to the boys.


I was very much frightenedand saidI hoped soif he pleased.
I feltall this whileas if my ear were blazing; he pinched it so
hard.


'I'll tell you what I am' whispered Mr. Creakleletting it go at
lastwith a screw at parting that brought the water into my eyes.
'I'm a Tartar.'


'A Tartar' said the man with the wooden leg.


'When I say I'll do a thingI do it' said Mr. Creakle; 'and when
I say I will have a thing doneI will have it done.'


'- Will have a thing doneI will have it done' repeated the man
with the wooden leg.


'I am a determined character' said Mr. Creakle. 'That's what I
am. I do my duty. That's what I do. My flesh and blood' - he
looked at Mrs. Creakle as he said this - 'when it rises against me
is not my flesh and blood. I discard it. Has that fellow' - to
the man with the wooden leg -'been here again?'


'No' was the answer.


'No' said Mr. Creakle. 'He knows better. He knows me. Let him
keep away. I say let him keep away' said Mr. Creaklestriking
his hand upon the tableand looking at Mrs. Creakle'for he knows
me. Now you have begun to know me toomy young friendand you
may go. Take him away.'


I was very glad to be ordered awayfor Mrs. and Miss Creakle were
both wiping their eyesand I felt as uncomfortable for them as I
did for myself. But I had a petition on my mind which concerned me
so nearlythat I couldn't help sayingthough I wondered at my own
courage:


'If you pleasesir -'


Mr. Creakle whispered'Hah! What's this?' and bent his eyes upon



meas if he would have burnt me up with them.

'If you pleasesir' I faltered'if I might be allowed (I am very
sorry indeedsirfor what I did) to take this writing offbefore
the boys come back -'

Whether Mr. Creakle was in earnestor whether he only did it to
frighten meI don't knowbut he made a burst out of his chair
before which I precipitately retreatedwithout waiting for the
escort Of the man with the wooden legand never once stopped until
I reached my own bedroomwherefinding I was not pursuedI went
to bedas it was timeand lay quakingfor a couple of hours.

Next morning Mr. Sharp came back. Mr. Sharp was the first master
and superior to Mr. Mell. Mr. Mell took his meals with the boys
but Mr. Sharp dined and supped at Mr. Creakle's table. He was a
limpdelicate-looking gentlemanI thoughtwith a good deal of
noseand a way of carrying his head on one sideas if it were a
little too heavy for him. His hair was very smooth and wavy; but
I was informed by the very first boy who came back that it was a
wig (a second-hand one HE said)and that Mr. Sharp went out every
Saturday afternoon to get it curled.

It was no other than Tommy Traddles who gave me this piece of
intelligence. He was the first boy who returned. He introduced
himself by informing me that I should find his name on the righthand
corner of the gateover the top-bolt; upon that I said
'Traddles?' to which he replied'The same' and then he asked me
for a full account of myself and family.

It was a happy circumstance for me that Traddles came back first.
He enjoyed my placard so muchthat he saved me from the
embarrassment of either disclosure or concealmentby presenting me
to every other boy who came backgreat or smallimmediately on
his arrivalin this form of introduction'Look here! Here's a
game!' Happilytoothe greater part of the boys came back
low-spiritedand were not so boisterous at my expense as I had
expected. Some of them certainly did dance about me like wild
Indiansand the greater part could not resist the temptation of
pretending that I was a dogand patting and soothing melest I
should biteand saying'Lie downsir!' and calling me Towzer.
This was naturally confusingamong so many strangersand cost me
some tearsbut on the whole it was much better than I had
anticipated.

I was not considered as being formally received into the school
howeveruntil J. Steerforth arrived. Before this boywho was
reputed to be a great scholarand was very good-lookingand at
least half-a-dozen years my seniorI was carried as before a
magistrate. He inquiredunder a shed in the playgroundinto the
particulars of my punishmentand was pleased to express his
opinion that it was 'a jolly shame'; for which I became bound to
him ever afterwards.

'What money have you gotCopperfield?' he saidwalking aside with
me when he had disposed of my affair in these terms. I told him
seven shillings.

'You had better give it to me to take care of' he said. 'At
leastyou can if you like. You needn't if you don't like.'

I hastened to comply with his friendly suggestionand opening
Peggotty's purseturned it upside down into his hand.


'Do you want to spend anything now?' he asked me.

'No thank you' I replied.

'You canif you likeyou know' said Steerforth. 'Say the word.'

'Nothank yousir' I repeated.

'Perhaps you'd like to spend a couple of shillings or soin a
bottle of currant wine by and byup in the bedroom?' said
Steerforth. 'You belong to my bedroomI find.'

It certainly had not occurred to me beforebut I saidYesI
should like that.

'Very good' said Steerforth. 'You'll be glad to spend another
shilling or soin almond cakesI dare say?'

I saidYesI should like thattoo.

'And another shilling or so in biscuitsand another in fruiteh?'
said Steerforth. 'I sayyoung Copperfieldyou're going it!'

I smiled because he smiledbut I was a little troubled in my mind
too.

'Well!' said Steerforth. 'We must make it stretch as far as we
can; that's all. I'll do the best in my power for you. I can go
out when I likeand I'll smuggle the prog in.' With these words
he put the money in his pocketand kindly told me not to make
myself uneasy; he would take care it should be all right.
He was as good as his wordif that were all right which I had a
secret misgiving was nearly all wrong - for I feared it was a waste
of my mother's two half-crowns - though I had preserved the piece
of paper they were wrapped in: which was a precious saving. When
we went upstairs to bedhe produced the whole seven
shillings'worthand laid it out on my bed in the moonlight
saying:

'There you areyoung Copperfieldand a royal spread you've got.'

I couldn't think of doing the honours of the feastat my time of
lifewhile he was by; my hand shook at the very thought of it. I
begged him to do me the favour of presiding; and my request being
seconded by the other boys who were in that roomhe acceded to it
and sat upon my pillowhanding round the viands - with perfect
fairnessI must say - and dispensing the currant wine in a little
glass without a footwhich was his own property. As to meI sat
on his left handand the rest were grouped about uson the
nearest beds and on the floor.

How well I recollect our sitting theretalking in whispers; or
their talkingand my respectfully listeningI ought rather to
say; the moonlight falling a little way into the roomthrough the
windowpainting a pale window on the floorand the greater part
of us in shadowexcept when Steerforth dipped a match into a
phosphorus-boxwhen he wanted to look for anything on the board
and shed a blue glare over us that was gone directly! A certain
mysterious feelingconsequent on the darknessthe secrecy of the
reveland the whisper in which everything was saidsteals over me
againand I listen to all they tell me with a vague feeling of
solemnity and awewhich makes me glad that they are all so near
and frightens me (though I feign to laugh) when Traddles pretends
to see a ghost in the corner.


I heard all kinds of things about the school and all belonging to
it. I heard that Mr. Creakle had not preferred his claim to being
a Tartar without reason; that he was the sternest and most severe
of masters; that he laid about himright and leftevery day of
his lifecharging in among the boys like a trooperand slashing
awayunmercifully. That he knew nothing himselfbut the art of
slashingbeing more ignorant (J. Steerforth said) than the lowest
boy in the school; that he had beena good many years agoa small
hop-dealer in the Boroughand had taken to the schooling business
after being bankrupt in hopsand making away with Mrs. Creakle's
money. With a good deal more of that sortwhich I wondered how
they knew.

I heard that the man with the wooden legwhose name was Tungay
was an obstinate barbarian who had formerly assisted in the hop
businessbut had come into the scholastic line with Mr. Creakle
in consequenceas was supposed among the boysof his having
broken his leg in Mr. Creakle's serviceand having done a deal of
dishonest work for himand knowing his secrets. I heard that with
the single exception of Mr. CreakleTungay considered the whole
establishmentmasters and boysas his natural enemiesand that
the only delight of his life was to be sour and malicious. I heard
that Mr. Creakle had a sonwho had not been Tungay's friendand
whoassisting in the schoolhad once held some remonstrance with
his father on an occasion when its discipline was very cruelly
exercisedand was supposedbesidesto have protested against his
father's usage of his mother. I heard that Mr. Creakle had turned
him out of doorsin consequence; and that Mrs. and Miss Creakle
had been in a sad wayever since.

But the greatest wonder that I heard of Mr. Creakle wasthere
being one boy in the school on whom he never ventured to lay a
handand that boy being J. Steerforth. Steerforth himself
confirmed this when it was statedand said that he should like to
begin to see him do it. On being asked by a mild boy (not me) how
he would proceed if he did begin to see him do ithe dipped a
match into his phosphorus-box on purpose to shed a glare over his
replyand said he would commence by knocking him down with a blow
on the forehead from the seven-and-sixpenny ink-bottle that was
always on the mantelpiece. We sat in the dark for some time
breathless.

I heard that Mr. Sharp and Mr. Mell were both supposed to be
wretchedly paid; and that when there was hot and cold meat for
dinner at Mr. Creakle's tableMr. Sharp was always expected to say
he preferred cold; which was again corroborated by J. Steerforth
the only parlour-boarder. I heard that Mr. Sharp's wig didn't fit
him; and that he needn't be so 'bounceable' - somebody else said
'bumptious' - about itbecause his own red hair was very plainly
to be seen behind.

I heard that one boywho was a coal-merchant's soncame as a
set-off against the coal-billand was calledon that account
'Exchange or Barter' - a name selected from the arithmetic book as
expressing this arrangement. I heard that the table beer was a
robbery of parentsand the pudding an imposition. I heard that
Miss Creakle was regarded by the school in general as being in love
with Steerforth; and I am sureas I sat in the darkthinking of
his nice voiceand his fine faceand his easy mannerand his
curling hairI thought it very likely. I heard that Mr. Mell was
not a bad sort of fellowbut hadn't a sixpence to bless himself
with; and that there was no doubt that old Mrs. Mellhis mother
was as poor as job. I thought of my breakfast thenand what had


sounded like 'My Charley!' but I wasI am glad to rememberas
mute as a mouse about it.


The hearing of all thisand a good deal moreoutlasted the
banquet some time. The greater part of the guests had gone to bed
as soon as the eating and drinking were over; and wewho had
remained whispering and listening half-undressedat last betook
ourselves to bedtoo.


'Good nightyoung Copperfield' said Steerforth. 'I'll take care
of you.'
'You're very kind' I gratefully returned. 'I am very much obliged
to you.'


'You haven't got a sisterhave you?' said Steerforthyawning.


'No' I answered.


'That's a pity' said Steerforth. 'If you had had oneI should
think she would have been a prettytimidlittlebright-eyed sort
of girl. I should have liked to know her. Good nightyoung
Copperfield.'


'Good nightsir' I replied.


I thought of him very much after I went to bedand raised myself
I recollectto look at him where he lay in the moonlightwith his
handsome face turned upand his head reclining easily on his arm.
He was a person of great power in my eyes; that wasof coursethe
reason of my mind running on him. No veiled future dimly glanced
upon him in the moonbeams. There was no shadowy picture of his
footstepsin the garden that I dreamed of walking in all night.


CHAPTER 7
MY 'FIRST HALF' AT SALEM HOUSE


School began in earnest next day. A profound impression was made
upon meI rememberby the roar of voices in the schoolroom
suddenly becoming hushed as death when Mr. Creakle entered after
breakfastand stood in the doorway looking round upon us like a
giant in a story-book surveying his captives.


Tungay stood at Mr. Creakle's elbow. He had no occasionI
thoughtto cry out 'Silence!' so ferociouslyfor the boys were
all struck speechless and motionless.


Mr. Creakle was seen to speakand Tungay was heardto this
effect.


'Nowboysthis is a new half. Take care what you're aboutin
this new half. Come fresh up to the lessonsI advise youfor I
come fresh up to the punishment. I won't flinch. It will be of no
use your rubbing yourselves; you won't rub the marks out that I
shall give you. Now get to workevery boy!'


When this dreadful exordium was overand Tungay had stumped out
againMr. Creakle came to where I satand told me that if I were
famous for bitinghe was famous for bitingtoo. He then showed
me the caneand asked me what I thought of THATfor a tooth? Was
it a sharp toothhey? Was it a double toothhey? Had it a deep
pronghey? Did it bitehey? Did it bite? At every question he



gave me a fleshy cut with it that made me writhe; so I was very
soon made free of Salem House (as Steerforth said)and was very
soon in tears also.

Not that I mean to say these were special marks of distinction
which only I received. On the contrarya large majority of the
boys (especially the smaller ones) were visited with similar
instances of noticeas Mr. Creakle made the round of the
schoolroom. Half the establishment was writhing and cryingbefore
the day's work began; and how much of it had writhed and cried
before the day's work was overI am really afraid to recollect
lest I should seem to exaggerate.

I should think there never can have been a man who enjoyed his
profession more than Mr. Creakle did. He had a delight in cutting
at the boyswhich was like the satisfaction of a craving appetite.
I am confident that he couldn't resist a chubby boyespecially;
that there was a fascination in such a subjectwhich made him
restless in his minduntil he had scored and marked him for the
day. I was chubby myselfand ought to know. I am sure when I
think of the fellow nowmy blood rises against him with the
disinterested indignation I should feel if I could have known all
about him without having ever been in his power; but it rises
hotlybecause I know him to have been an incapable brutewho had
no more right to be possessed of the great trust he heldthan to
be Lord High Admiralor Commander-in-Chief - in either of which
capacities it is probable that he would have done infinitely less
mischief.

Miserable little propitiators of a remorseless Idolhow abject we
were to him! What a launch in life I think it nowon looking
backto be so mean and servile to a man of such parts and
pretensions!

Here I sit at the desk againwatching his eye - humbly watching
his eyeas he rules a ciphering-book for another victim whose
hands have just been flattened by that identical rulerand who is
trying to wipe the sting out with a pocket-handkerchief. I have
plenty to do. I don't watch his eye in idlenessbut because I am
morbidly attracted to itin a dread desire to know what he will do
nextand whether it will be my turn to sufferor somebody else's.
A lane of small boys beyond mewith the same interest in his eye
watch it too. I think he knows itthough he pretends he don't.
He makes dreadful mouths as he rules the ciphering-book; and now he
throws his eye sideways down our laneand we all droop over our
books and tremble. A moment afterwards we are again eyeing him.
An unhappy culpritfound guilty of imperfect exerciseapproaches
at his command. The culprit falters excusesand professes a
determination to do better tomorrow. Mr. Creakle cuts a joke
before he beats himand we laugh at it- miserable little dogs
we laughwith our visages as white as ashesand our hearts
sinking into our boots.

Here I sit at the desk againon a drowsy summer afternoon. A buzz
and hum go up around meas if the boys were so many bluebottles.
A cloggy sensation of the lukewarm fat of meat is upon me (we dined
an hour or two ago)and my head is as heavy as so much lead. I
would give the world to go to sleep. I sit with my eye on Mr.
Creakleblinking at him like a young owl; when sleep overpowers me
for a minutehe still looms through my slumberruling those
ciphering-booksuntil he softly comes behind me and wakes me to
plainer perception of himwith a red ridge across my back.

Here I am in the playgroundwith my eye still fascinated by him


though I can't see him. The window at a little distance from which
I know he is having his dinnerstands for himand I eye that
instead. If he shows his face near itmine assumes an imploring
and submissive expression. If he looks out through the glassthe
boldest boy (Steerforth excepted) stops in the middle of a shout or
yelland becomes contemplative. One dayTraddles (the most
unfortunate boy in the world) breaks that window accidentallywith
a ball. I shudder at this moment with the tremendous sensation of
seeing it doneand feeling that the ball has bounded on to Mr.
Creakle's sacred head.

Poor Traddles! In a tight sky-blue suit that made his arms and
legs like German sausagesor roly-poly puddingshe was the
merriest and most miserable of all the boys. He was always being
caned - I think he was caned every day that half-yearexcept one
holiday Monday when he was only ruler'd on both hands - and was
always going to write to his uncle about itand never did. After
laying his head on the desk for a little whilehe would cheer up
somehowbegin to laugh againand draw skeletons all over his
slatebefore his eyes were dry. I used at first to wonder what
comfort Traddles found in drawing skeletons; and for some time
looked upon him as a sort of hermitwho reminded himself by those
symbols of mortality that caning couldn't last for ever. But I
believe he only did it because they were easyand didn't want any
features.

He was very honourableTraddles wasand held it as a solemn duty
in the boys to stand by one another. He suffered for this on
several occasions; and particularly oncewhen Steerforth laughed
in churchand the Beadle thought it was Traddlesand took him
out. I see him nowgoing away in custodydespised by the
congregation. He never said who was the real offenderthough he
smarted for it next dayand was imprisoned so many hours that he
came forth with a whole churchyard-full of skeletons swarming all
over his Latin Dictionary. But he had his reward. Steerforth said
there was nothing of the sneak in Traddlesand we all felt that to
be the highest praise. For my partI could have gone through a
good deal (though I was much less brave than Traddlesand nothing
like so old) to have won such a recompense.

To see Steerforth walk to church before usarm-in-arm with Miss
Creaklewas one of the great sights of my life. I didn't think
Miss Creakle equal to little Em'ly in point of beautyand I didn't
love her (I didn't dare); but I thought her a young lady of
extraordinary attractionsand in point of gentility not to be
surpassed. When Steerforthin white trouserscarried her parasol
for herI felt proud to know him; and believed that she could not
choose but adore him with all her heart. Mr. Sharp and Mr. Mell
were both notable personages in my eyes; but Steerforth was to them
what the sun was to two stars.

Steerforth continued his protection of meand proved a very useful
friend; since nobody dared to annoy one whom he honoured with his
countenance. He couldn't - or at all events he didn't - defend me
from Mr. Creaklewho was very severe with me; but whenever I had
been treated worse than usualhe always told me that I wanted a
little of his pluckand that he wouldn't have stood it himself;
which I felt he intended for encouragementand considered to be
very kind of him. There was one advantageand only one that I
know ofin Mr. Creakle's severity. He found my placard in his way
when he came up or down behind the form on which I satand wanted
to make a cut at me in passing; for this reason it was soon taken
offand I saw it no more.


An accidental circumstance cemented the intimacy between Steerforth
and mein a manner that inspired me with great pride and
satisfactionthough it sometimes led to inconvenience. It
happened on one occasionwhen he was doing me the honour of
talking to me in the playgroundthat I hazarded the observation
that something or somebody - I forget what now - was like something
or somebody in Peregrine Pickle. He said nothing at the time; but
when I was going to bed at nightasked me if I had got that book?

I told him noand explained how it was that I had read itand all
those other books of which I have made mention.

'And do you recollect them?' Steerforth said.

'Oh yes' I replied; I had a good memoryand I believed I
recollected them very well.

'Then I tell you whatyoung Copperfield' said Steerforth'you
shall tell 'em to me. I can't get to sleep very early at night
and I generally wake rather early in the morning. We'll go over
'em one after another. We'll make some regular Arabian Nights of
it.'

I felt extremely flattered by this arrangementand we commenced
carrying it into execution that very evening. What ravages I
committed on my favourite authors in the course of my
interpretation of themI am not in a condition to sayand should
be very unwilling to know; but I had a profound faith in themand
I hadto the best of my beliefa simpleearnest manner of
narrating what I did narrate; and these qualities went a long way.

The drawback wasthat I was often sleepy at nightor out of
spirits and indisposed to resume the story; and then it was rather
hard workand it must be done; for to disappoint or to displease
Steerforth was of course out of the question. In the morningtoo
when I felt wearyand should have enjoyed another hour's repose
very muchit was a tiresome thing to be rousedlike the Sultana
Scheherazadeand forced into a long story before the getting-up
bell rang; but Steerforth was resolute; and as he explained to me
in returnmy sums and exercisesand anything in my tasks that was
too hard for meI was no loser by the transaction. Let me do
myself justicehowever. I was moved by no interested or selfish
motivenor was I moved by fear of him. I admired and loved him
and his approval was return enough. It was so precious to me that
I look back on these triflesnowwith an aching heart.

Steerforth was consideratetoo; and showed his considerationin
one particular instancein an unflinching manner that was a little
tantalizingI suspectto poor Traddles and the rest. Peggotty's
promised letter - what a comfortable letter it was! - arrived
before 'the half' was many weeks old; and with it a cake in a
perfect nest of orangesand two bottles of cowslip wine. This
treasureas in duty boundI laid at the feet of Steerforthand
begged him to dispense.

'NowI'll tell you whatyoung Copperfield' said he: 'the wine
shall be kept to wet your whistle when you are story-telling.'

I blushed at the ideaand begged himin my modestynot to think
of it. But he said he had observed I was sometimes hoarse - a
little roopy was his exact expression - and it should beevery
dropdevoted to the purpose he had mentioned. Accordinglyit was
locked up in his boxand drawn off by himself in a phialand
administered to me through a piece of quill in the corkwhen I was


supposed to be in want of a restorative. Sometimesto make it a
more sovereign specifiche was so kind as to squeeze orange juice
into itor to stir it up with gingeror dissolve a peppermint
drop in it; and although I cannot assert that the flavour was
improved by these experimentsor that it was exactly the compound
one would have chosen for a stomachicthe last thing at night and
the first thing in the morningI drank it gratefully and was very
sensible of his attention.

We seemto meto have been months over Peregrineand months more
over the other stories. The institution never flagged for want of
a storyI am certain; and the wine lasted out almost as well as
the matter. Poor Traddles - I never think of that boy but with a
strange disposition to laughand with tears in my eyes - was a
sort of chorusin general; and affected to be convulsed with mirth
at the comic partsand to be overcome with fear when there was any
passage of an alarming character in the narrative. This rather put
me outvery often. It was a great jest of hisI recollectto
pretend that he couldn't keep his teeth from chatteringwhenever
mention was made of an Alguazill in connexion with the adventures
of Gil Blas; and I remember that when Gil Blas met the captain of
the robbers in Madridthis unlucky joker counterfeited such an
ague of terrorthat he was overheard by Mr. Creaklewho was
prowling about the passageand handsomely flogged for disorderly
conduct in the bedroom.
Whatever I had within me that was romantic and dreamywas
encouraged by so much story-telling in the dark; and in that
respect the pursuit may not have been very profitable to me. But
the being cherished as a kind of plaything in my roomand the
consciousness that this accomplishment of mine was bruited about
among the boysand attracted a good deal of notice to me though I
was the youngest therestimulated me to exertion. In a school
carried on by sheer crueltywhether it is presided over by a dunce
or notthere is not likely to be much learnt. I believe our boys
weregenerallyas ignorant a set as any schoolboys in existence;
they were too much troubled and knocked about to learn; they could
no more do that to advantagethan any one can do anything to
advantage in a life of constant misfortunetormentand worry.
But my little vanityand Steerforth's helpurged me on somehow;
and without saving me from muchif anythingin the way of
punishmentmade mefor the time I was therean exception to the
general bodyinsomuch that I did steadily pick up some crumbs of
knowledge.

In this I was much assisted by Mr. Mellwho had a liking for me
that I am grateful to remember. It always gave me pain to observe
that Steerforth treated him with systematic disparagementand
seldom lost an occasion of wounding his feelingsor inducing
others to do so. This troubled me the more for a long time
because I had soon told Steerforthfrom whom I could no more keep
such a secretthan I could keep a cake or any other tangible
possessionabout the two old women Mr. Mell had taken me to see;
and I was always afraid that Steerforth would let it outand twit
him with it.

We little thoughtany one of usI dare saywhen I ate my
breakfast that first morningand went to sleep under the shadow of
the peacock's feathers to the sound of the flutewhat consequences
would come of the introduction into those alms-houses of my
insignificant person. But the visit had its unforeseen
consequences; and of a serious sorttooin their way.

One day when Mr. Creakle kept the house from indispositionwhich
naturally diffused a lively joy through the schoolthere was a


good deal of noise in the course of the morning's work. The great
relief and satisfaction experienced by the boys made them difficult
to manage; and though the dreaded Tungay brought his wooden leg in
twice or thriceand took notes of the principal offenders' names
no great impression was made by itas they were pretty sure of
getting into trouble tomorrowdo what they wouldand thought it
wiseno doubtto enjoy themselves today.

It wasproperlya half-holiday; being Saturday. But as the noise
in the playground would have disturbed Mr. Creakleand the weather
was not favourable for going out walkingwe were ordered into
school in the afternoonand set some lighter tasks than usual
which were made for the occasion. It was the day of the week on
which Mr. Sharp went out to get his wig curled; so Mr. Mellwho
always did the drudgerywhatever it waskept school by himself.
If I could associate the idea of a bull or a bear with anyone so
mild as Mr. MellI should think of himin connexion with that
afternoon when the uproar was at its heightas of one of those
animalsbaited by a thousand dogs. I recall him bending his
aching headsupported on his bony handover the book on his desk
and wretchedly endeavouring to get on with his tiresome work
amidst an uproar that might have made the Speaker of the House of
Commons giddy. Boys started in and out of their placesplaying at
puss in the corner with other boys; there were laughing boys
singing boystalking boysdancing boyshowling boys; boys
shuffled with their feetboys whirled about himgrinningmaking
facesmimicking him behind his back and before his eyes; mimicking
his povertyhis bootshis coathis mothereverything belonging
to him that they should have had consideration for.

'Silence!' cried Mr. Mellsuddenly rising upand striking his
desk with the book. 'What does this mean! It's impossible to bear
it. It's maddening. How can you do it to meboys?'

It was my book that he struck his desk with; and as I stood beside
himfollowing his eye as it glanced round the roomI saw the boys
all stopsome suddenly surprisedsome half afraidand some sorry
perhaps.

Steerforth's place was at the bottom of the schoolat the opposite
end of the long room. He was lounging with his back against the
walland his hands in his pocketsand looked at Mr. Mell with his
mouth shut up as if he were whistlingwhen Mr. Mell looked at him.

'SilenceMr. Steerforth!' said Mr. Mell.

'Silence yourself' said Steerforthturning red. 'Whom are you
talking to?'

'Sit down' said Mr. Mell.

'Sit down yourself' said Steerforth'and mind your business.'

There was a titterand some applause; but Mr. Mell was so white
that silence immediately succeeded; and one boywho had darted out
behind him to imitate his mother againchanged his mindand
pretended to want a pen mended.

'If you thinkSteerforth' said Mr. Mell'that I am not
acquainted with the power you can establish over any mind here' he
laid his handwithout considering what he did (as I supposed)
upon my head - 'or that I have not observed youwithin a few
minutesurging your juniors on to every sort of outrage against
meyou are mistaken.'


'I don't give myself the trouble of thinking at all about you'
said Steerforthcoolly; 'so I'm not mistakenas it happens.'

'And when you make use of your position of favouritism heresir'
pursued Mr. Mellwith his lip trembling very much'to insult a
gentleman -'

'A what? - where is he?' said Steerforth.

Here somebody cried out'ShameJ. Steerforth! Too bad!' It was
Traddles; whom Mr. Mell instantly discomfited by bidding him hold
his tongue.

-'To insult one who is not fortunate in lifesirand who never
gave you the least offenceand the many reasons for not insulting
whom you are old enough and wise enough to understand' said Mr.
Mellwith his lips trembling more and more'you commit a mean and
base action. You can sit down or stand up as you pleasesir.
Copperfieldgo on.'
'Young Copperfield' said Steerforthcoming forward up the room
'stop a bit. I tell you whatMr. Mellonce for all. When you
take the liberty of calling me mean or baseor anything of that
sortyou are an impudent beggar. You are always a beggaryou
know; but when you do thatyou are an impudent beggar.'

I am not clear whether he was going to strike Mr. Mellor Mr. Mell
was going to strike himor there was any such intention on either
side. I saw a rigidity come upon the whole school as if they had
been turned into stoneand found Mr. Creakle in the midst of us
with Tungay at his sideand Mrs. and Miss Creakle looking in at
the door as if they were frightened. Mr. Mellwith his elbows on
his desk and his face in his handssatfor some momentsquite
still.

'Mr. Mell' said Mr. Creakleshaking him by the arm; and his
whisper was so audible nowthat Tungay felt it unnecessary to
repeat his words; 'you have not forgotten yourselfI hope?'

'Nosirno' returned the Mastershowing his faceand shaking
his headand rubbing his hands in great agitation. 'Nosir. No.
I have remembered myselfI - noMr. CreakleI have not forgotten
myselfI - I have remembered myselfsir. I - I - could wish you
had remembered me a little soonerMr. Creakle. It - it - would
have been more kindsirmore justsir. It would have saved me
somethingsir.'

Mr. Creaklelooking hard at Mr. Mellput his hand on Tungay's
shoulderand got his feet upon the form close byand sat upon the
desk. After still looking hard at Mr. Mell from his throneas he
shook his headand rubbed his handsand remained in the same
state of agitationMr. Creakle turned to Steerforthand said:

'Nowsiras he don't condescend to tell mewhat is this?'

Steerforth evaded the question for a little while; looking in scorn
and anger on his opponentand remaining silent. I could not help
thinking even in that intervalI rememberwhat a noble fellow he
was in appearanceand how homely and plain Mr. Mell looked opposed
to him.

'What did he mean by talking about favouritesthen?' said
Steerforth at length.


'Favourites?' repeated Mr. Creaklewith the veins in his forehead
swelling quickly. 'Who talked about favourites?'

'He did' said Steerforth.

'And praywhat did you mean by thatsir?' demanded Mr. Creakle
turning angrily on his assistant.

'I meantMr. Creakle' he returned in a low voice'as I said;
that no pupil had a right to avail himself of his position of
favouritism to degrade me.'

'To degrade YOU?' said Mr. Creakle. 'My stars! But give me leave
to ask youMr. What's-your-name'; and here Mr. Creakle folded his
armscane and allupon his chestand made such a knot of his
brows that his little eyes were hardly visible below them;
'whetherwhen you talk about favouritesyou showed proper respect
to me? To mesir' said Mr. Creakledarting his head at him
suddenlyand drawing it back again'the principal of this
establishmentand your employer.'

'It was not judicioussirI am willing to admit' said Mr. Mell.
'I should not have done soif I had been cool.'

Here Steerforth struck in.

'Then he said I was meanand then he said I was baseand then I
called him a beggar. If I had been coolperhaps I shouldn't have
called him a beggar. But I didand I am ready to take the
consequences of it.'

Without consideringperhapswhether there were any consequences
to be takenI felt quite in a glow at this gallant speech. It
made an impression on the boys toofor there was a low stir among
themthough no one spoke a word.

'I am surprisedSteerforth - although your candour does you
honour' said Mr. Creakle'does you honourcertainly - I am
surprisedSteerforthI must saythat you should attach such an
epithet to any person employed and paid in Salem Housesir.'

Steerforth gave a short laugh.

'That's not an answersir' said Mr. Creakle'to my remark. I
expect more than that from youSteerforth.'

If Mr. Mell looked homelyin my eyesbefore the handsome boyit
would be quite impossible to say how homely Mr. Creakle looked.
'Let him deny it' said Steerforth.

'Deny that he is a beggarSteerforth?' cried Mr. Creakle. 'Why
where does he go a-begging?'

'If he is not a beggar himselfhis near relation's one' said
Steerforth. 'It's all the same.'

He glanced at meand Mr. Mell's hand gently patted me upon the
shoulder. I looked up with a flush upon my face and remorse in my
heartbut Mr. Mell's eyes were fixed on Steerforth. He continued
to pat me kindly on the shoulderbut he looked at him.

'Since you expect meMr. Creakleto justify myself' said
Steerforth'and to say what I mean- what I have to say isthat


his mother lives on charity in an alms-house.'

Mr. Mell still looked at himand still patted me kindly on the
shoulderand said to himselfin a whisperif I heard right:
'YesI thought so.'

Mr. Creakle turned to his assistantwith a severe frown and
laboured politeness:

'Nowyou hear what this gentleman saysMr. Mell. Have the
goodnessif you pleaseto set him right before the assembled
school.'

'He is rightsirwithout correction' returned Mr. Mellin the
midst of a dead silence; 'what he has said is true.'

'Be so good then as declare publiclywill you' said Mr. Creakle
putting his head on one sideand rolling his eyes round the
school'whether it ever came to my knowledge until this moment?'

'I believe not directly' he returned.

'Whyyou know not' said Mr. Creakle. 'Don't youman?'

'I apprehend you never supposed my worldly circumstances to be very
good' replied the assistant. 'You know what my position isand
always has beenhere.'

'I apprehendif you come to that' said Mr. Creaklewith his
veins swelling again bigger than ever'that you've been in a wrong
position altogetherand mistook this for a charity school. Mr.
Mellwe'll partif you please. The sooner the better.'

'There is no time' answered Mr. Mellrising'like the present.'

'Sirto you!' said Mr. Creakle.

'I take my leave of youMr. Creakleand all of you' said Mr.
Mellglancing round the roomand again patting me gently on the
shoulders. 'James Steerforththe best wish I can leave you is
that you may come to be ashamed of what you have done today. At
present I would prefer to see you anything rather than a friendto
meor to anyone in whom I feel an interest.'

Once more he laid his hand upon my shoulder; and then taking his
flute and a few books from his deskand leaving the key in it for
his successorhe went out of the schoolwith his property under
his arm. Mr. Creakle then made a speechthrough Tungayin which
he thanked Steerforth for asserting (though perhaps too warmly) the
independence and respectability of Salem House; and which he wound
up by shaking hands with Steerforthwhile we gave three cheers I
did not quite know what forbut I supposed for Steerforthand
so joined in them ardentlythough I felt miserable. Mr. Creakle
then caned Tommy Traddles for being discovered in tearsinstead of
cheerson account of Mr. Mell's departure; and went back to his
sofaor his bedor wherever he had come from.

We were left to ourselves nowand looked very blankI recollect
on one another. For myselfI felt so much self-reproach and
contrition for my part in what had happenedthat nothing would
have enabled me to keep back my tears but the fear that Steerforth
who often looked at meI sawmight think it unfriendly - orI
should rather sayconsidering our relative agesand the feeling
with which I regarded himundutiful - if I showed the emotion


which distressed me. He was very angry with Traddlesand said he
was glad he had caught it.

Poor Traddleswho had passed the stage of lying with his head upon
the deskand was relieving himself as usual with a burst of
skeletonssaid he didn't care. Mr. Mell was ill-used.

'Who has ill-used himyou girl?' said Steerforth.

'Whyyou have' returned Traddles.

'What have I done?' said Steerforth.

'What have you done?' retorted Traddles. 'Hurt his feelingsand
lost him his situation.'

'His feelings?' repeated Steerforth disdainfully. 'His feelings
will soon get the better of itI'll be bound. His feelings are
not like yoursMiss Traddles. As to his situation - which was a
precious onewasn't it? - do you suppose I am not going to write
homeand take care that he gets some money? Polly?'

We thought this intention very noble in Steerforthwhose mother
was a widowand richand would do almost anythingit was said
that he asked her. We were all extremely glad to see Traddles so
put downand exalted Steerforth to the skies: especially when he
told usas he condescended to dothat what he had done had been
done expressly for usand for our cause; and that he had conferred
a great boon upon us by unselfishly doing it.
But I must say that when I was going on with a story in the dark
that nightMr. Mell's old flute seemed more than once to sound
mournfully in my ears; and that when at last Steerforth was tired
and I lay down in my bedI fancied it playing so sorrowfully
somewherethat I was quite wretched.

I soon forgot him in the contemplation of Steerforthwhoin an
easy amateur wayand without any book (he seemed to me to know
everything by heart)took some of his classes until a new master
was found. The new master came from a grammar school; and before
he entered on his dutiesdined in the parlour one dayto be
introduced to Steerforth. Steerforth approved of him highlyand
told us he was a Brick. Without exactly understanding what learned
distinction was meant by thisI respected him greatly for itand
had no doubt whatever of his superior knowledge: though he never
took the pains with me - not that I was anybody - that Mr. Mell had
taken.

There was only one other event in this half-yearout of the daily
school-lifethat made an impression upon me which still survives.
It survives for many reasons.

One afternoonwhen we were all harassed into a state of dire
confusionand Mr. Creakle was laying about him dreadfullyTungay
came inand called out in his usual strong way: 'Visitors for
Copperfield!'

A few words were interchanged between him and Mr. Creakleaswho
the visitors wereand what room they were to be shown into; and
then Iwho hadaccording to customstood up on the announcement
being madeand felt quite faint with astonishmentwas told to go
by the back stairs and get a clean frill onbefore I repaired to
the dining-room. These orders I obeyedin such a flutter and
hurry of my young spirits as I had never known before; and when I
got to the parlour doorand the thought came into my head that it


might be my mother - I had only thought of Mr. or Miss Murdstone
until then - I drew back my hand from the lockand stopped to have
a sob before I went in.

At first I saw nobody; but feeling a pressure against the doorI
looked round itand thereto my amazementwere Mr. Peggotty and
Hamducking at me with their hatsand squeezing one another
against the wall. I could not help laughing; but it was much more
in the pleasure of seeing themthan at the appearance they made.
We shook hands in a very cordial way; and I laughed and laughed
until I pulled out my pocket-handkerchief and wiped my eyes.

Mr. Peggotty (who never shut his mouth onceI rememberduring the
visit) showed great concern when he saw me do thisand nudged Ham
to say something.

'Cheer upMas'r Davy bor'!' said Hamin his simpering way. 'Why
how you have growed!'

'Am I grown?' I saiddrying my eyes. I was not crying at anything
in particular that I know of; but somehow it made me cryto see
old friends.

'GrowedMas'r Davy bor'? Ain't he growed!' said Ham.

'Ain't he growed!' said Mr. Peggotty.

They made me laugh again by laughing at each otherand then we all
three laughed until I was in danger of crying again.

'Do you know how mama isMr. Peggotty?' I said. 'And how my dear
dearold Peggotty is?'

'Oncommon' said Mr. Peggotty.

'And little Em'lyand Mrs. Gummidge?'

'On - common' said Mr. Peggotty.

There was a silence. Mr. Peggottyto relieve ittook two
prodigious lobstersand an enormous craband a large canvas bag
of shrimpsout of his pocketsand piled them up in Ham's arms.

'You see' said Mr. Peggotty'knowing as you was partial to a
little relish with your wittles when you was along with uswe took
the liberty. The old Mawther biled 'emshe did. Mrs. Gummidge
biled 'em. Yes' said Mr. Peggottyslowlywho I thought appeared
to stick to the subject on account of having no other subject
ready'Mrs. GummidgeI do assure youshe biled 'em.'

I expressed my thanks; and Mr. Peggottyafter looking at Hamwho
stood smiling sheepishly over the shellfishwithout making any
attempt to help himsaid:

'We comeyou seethe wind and tide making in our favourin one
of our Yarmouth lugs to Gravesen'. My sister she wrote to me the
name of this here placeand wrote to me as if ever I chanced to
come to Gravesen'I was to come over and inquire for Mas'r Davy
and give her dootyhumbly wishing him well and reporting of the
fam'ly as they was oncommon toe-be-sure. Little Em'lyyou see
she'll write to my sister when I go backas I see you and as you
was similarly oncommonand so we make it quite a merrygo-
rounder.'


I was obliged to consider a little before I understood what Mr.
Peggotty meant by this figureexpressive of a complete circle of
intelligence. I then thanked him heartily; and saidwith a
consciousness of reddeningthat I supposed little Em'ly was
altered toosince we used to pick up shells and pebbles on the
beach?


'She's getting to be a womanthat's wot she's getting to be' said
Mr. Peggotty. 'Ask HIM.'
He meant Hamwho beamed with delight and assent over the bag of
shrimps.


'Her pretty face!' said Mr. Peggottywith his own shining like a
light.


'Her learning!' said Ham.


'Her writing!' said Mr. Peggotty. 'Why it's as black as jet! And
so large it isyou might see it anywheres.'


It was perfectly delightful to behold with what enthusiasm Mr.
Peggotty became inspired when he thought of his little favourite.
He stands before me againhis bluff hairy face irradiating with a
joyful love and pridefor which I can find no description. His
honest eyes fire upand sparkleas if their depths were stirred
by something bright. His broad chest heaves with pleasure. His
strong loose hands clench themselvesin his earnestness; and he
emphasizes what he says with a right arm that showsin my pigmy
viewlike a sledge-hammer.


Ham was quite as earnest as he. I dare say they would have said
much more about herif they had not been abashed by the unexpected
coming in of Steerforthwhoseeing me in a corner speaking with
two strangersstopped in a song he was singingand said: 'I
didn't know you were hereyoung Copperfield!' (for it was not the
usual visiting room) and crossed by us on his way out.


I am not sure whether it was in the pride of having such a friend
as Steerforthor in the desire to explain to him how I came to
have such a friend as Mr. Peggottythat I called to him as he was
going away. But I saidmodestly - Good Heavenhow it all comes
back to me this long time afterwards! -


'Don't goSteerforthif you please. These are two Yarmouth
boatmen - very kindgood people - who are relations of my nurse
and have come from Gravesend to see me.'


'Ayeaye?' said Steerforthreturning. 'I am glad to see them.
How are you both?'


There was an ease in his manner - a gay and light manner it was
but not swaggering - which I still believe to have borne a kind of
enchantment with it. I still believe himin virtue of this
carriagehis animal spiritshis delightful voicehis handsome
face and figureandfor aught I knowof some inborn power of
attraction besides (which I think a few people possess)to have
carried a spell with him to which it was a natural weakness to
yieldand which not many persons could withstand. I could not but
see how pleased they were with himand how they seemed to open
their hearts to him in a moment.


'You must let them know at homeif you pleaseMr. Peggotty' I
said'when that letter is sentthat Mr. Steerforth is very kind
to meand that I don't know what I should ever do here without



him.'

'Nonsense!' said Steerforthlaughing. 'You mustn't tell them
anything of the sort.'

'And if Mr. Steerforth ever comes into Norfolk or SuffolkMr.
Peggotty' I said'while I am thereyou may depend upon it I
shall bring him to Yarmouthif he will let meto see your house.
You never saw such a good houseSteerforth. It's made out of a
boat!'

'Made out of a boatis it?' said Steerforth. 'It's the right sort
of a house for such a thorough-built boatman.'

'So 'tissirso 'tissir' said Hamgrinning. 'You're right
young gen'l'm'n! Mas'r Davy bor'gen'l'm'n's right. A thoroughbuilt
boatman! Horhor! That's what he istoo!'

Mr. Peggotty was no less pleased than his nephewthough his
modesty forbade him to claim a personal compliment so vociferously.

'Wellsir' he saidbowing and chucklingand tucking in the ends
of his neckerchief at his breast: 'I thankeesirI thankee! I do
my endeavours in my line of lifesir.'

'The best of men can do no moreMr. Peggotty' said Steerforth.
He had got his name already.

'I'll pound itit's wot you do yourselfsir' said Mr. Peggotty
shaking his head'and wot you do well - right well! I thankee
sir. I'm obleeged to yousirfor your welcoming manner of me.
I'm roughsirbut I'm ready - least waysI hope I'm readyyou
unnerstand. My house ain't much for to seesirbut it's hearty
at your service if ever you should come along with Mas'r Davy to
see it. I'm a reg'lar DodmanI am' said Mr. Peggottyby which
he meant snailand this was in allusion to his being slow to go
for he had attempted to go after every sentenceand had somehow or
other come back again; 'but I wish you both welland I wish you
happy!'

Ham echoed this sentimentand we parted with them in the heartiest
manner. I was almost tempted that evening to tell Steerforth about
pretty little Em'lybut I was too timid of mentioning her name
and too much afraid of his laughing at me. I remember that I
thought a good dealand in an uneasy sort of wayabout Mr.
Peggotty having said that she was getting on to be a woman; but I
decided that was nonsense.

We transported the shellfishor the 'relish' as Mr. Peggotty had
modestly called itup into our room unobservedand made a great
supper that evening. But Traddles couldn't get happily out of it.
He was too unfortunate even to come through a supper like anybody
else. He was taken ill in the night - quite prostrate he was - in
consequence of Crab; and after being drugged with black draughts
and blue pillsto an extent which Demple (whose father was a
doctor) said was enough to undermine a horse's constitution
received a caning and six chapters of Greek Testament for refusing
to confess.

The rest of the half-year is a jumble in my recollection of the
daily strife and struggle of our lives; of the waning summer and
the changing season; of the frosty mornings when we were rung out
of bedand the coldcold smell of the dark nights when we were
rung into bed again; of the evening schoolroom dimly lighted and


indifferently warmedand the morning schoolroom which was nothing
but a great shivering-machine; of the alternation of boiled beef
with roast beefand boiled mutton with roast mutton; of clods of
bread-and-butterdog's-eared lesson-bookscracked slates
tear-blotted copy-bookscaningsruleringshair-cuttingsrainy
Sundayssuet-puddingsand a dirty atmosphere of inksurrounding
all.

I well remember thoughhow the distant idea of the holidaysafter
seeming for an immense time to be a stationary speckbegan to come
towards usand to grow and grow. How from counting monthswe
came to weeksand then to days; and how I then began to be afraid
that I should not be sent for and when I learnt from Steerforth
that I had been sent forand was certainly to go homehad dim
forebodings that I might break my leg first. How the breaking-up
day changed its place fastat lastfrom the week after next to
next weekthis weekthe day after tomorrowtomorrowtoday
tonight - when I was inside the Yarmouth mailand going home.

I had many a broken sleep inside the Yarmouth mailand many an
incoherent dream of all these things. But when I awoke at
intervalsthe ground outside the window was not the playground of
Salem Houseand the sound in my ears was not the sound of Mr.
Creakle giving it to Traddlesbut the sound of the coachman
touching up the horses.

CHAPTER 8
MY HOLIDAYS. ESPECIALLY ONE HAPPY AFTERNOON

When we arrived before day at the inn where the mail stoppedwhich
was not the inn where my friend the waiter livedI was shown up to
a nice little bedroomwith DOLPHIN painted on the door. Very cold
I wasI knownotwithstanding the hot tea they had given me before
a large fire downstairs; and very glad I was to turn into the
Dolphin's bedpull the Dolphin's blankets round my headand go to
sleep.

Mr. Barkis the carrier was to call for me in the morning at nine
o'clock. I got up at eighta little giddy from the shortness of
my night's restand was ready for him before the appointed time.
He received me exactly as if not five minutes had elapsed since we
were last togetherand I had only been into the hotel to get
change for sixpenceor something of that sort.

As soon as I and my box were in the cartand the carrier seated
the lazy horse walked away with us all at his accustomed pace.

'You look very wellMr. Barkis' I saidthinking he would like to
know it.

Mr. Barkis rubbed his cheek with his cuffand then looked at his
cuff as if he expected to find some of the bloom upon it; but made
no other acknowledgement of the compliment.

'I gave your messageMr. Barkis' I said: 'I wrote to Peggotty.'

'Ah!' said Mr. Barkis.

Mr. Barkis seemed gruffand answered drily.

'Wasn't it rightMr. Barkis?' I askedafter a little hesitation.


'Whyno' said Mr. Barkis.

'Not the message?'

'The message was right enoughperhaps' said Mr. Barkis; 'but it
come to an end there.'

Not understanding what he meantI repeated inquisitively: 'Came to
an endMr. Barkis?'

'Nothing come of it' he explainedlooking at me sideways. 'No
answer.'

'There was an answer expectedwas thereMr. Barkis?' said I
opening my eyes. For this was a new light to me.

'When a man says he's willin'' said Mr. Barkisturning his glance
slowly on me again'it's as much as to saythat man's a-waitin'
for a answer.'

'WellMr. Barkis?'

'Well' said Mr. Barkiscarrying his eyes back to his horse's
ears; 'that man's been a-waitin' for a answer ever since.'

'Have you told her soMr. Barkis?'

'No - no' growled Mr. Barkisreflecting about it. 'I ain't got
no call to go and tell her so. I never said six words to her
myselfI ain't a-goin' to tell her so.'

'Would you like me to do itMr. Barkis?' said Idoubtfully.
'You might tell herif you would' said Mr. Barkiswith another
slow look at me'that Barkis was a-waitin' for a answer. Says you

-what name is it?'
'Her name?'

'Ah!' said Mr. Barkiswith a nod of his head.

'Peggotty.'

'Chrisen name? Or nat'ral name?' said Mr. Barkis.

'Ohit's not her Christian name. Her Christian name is Clara.'

'Is it though?' said Mr. Barkis.

He seemed to find an immense fund of reflection in this
circumstanceand sat pondering and inwardly whistling for some
time.

'Well!' he resumed at length. 'Says youPeggotty! Barkis is
waitin' for a answer.Says sheperhapsAnswer to what?Says
youTo what I told you.What is that?says she. "Barkis is
willin' says you.'

This extremely artful suggestion Mr. Barkis accompanied with a
nudge of his elbow that gave me quite a stitch in my side. After
that, he slouched over his horse in his usual manner; and made no
other reference to the subject except, half an hour afterwards,
taking a piece of chalk from his pocket, and writing up, inside the
tilt of the cart, 'Clara Peggotty' - apparently as a private


memorandum.

Ah, what a strange feeling it was to be going home when it was not
home, and to find that every object I looked at, reminded me of the
happy old home, which was like a dream I could never dream again!
The days when my mother and I and Peggotty were all in all to one
another, and there was no one to come between us, rose up before me
so sorrowfully on the road, that I am not sure I was glad to be
there - not sure but that I would rather have remained away, and
forgotten it in Steerforth's company. But there I was; and soon I
was at our house, where the bare old elm-trees wrung their many
hands in the bleak wintry air, and shreds of the old rooks'-nests
drifted away upon the wind.

The carrier put my box down at the garden-gate, and left me. I
walked along the path towards the house, glancing at the windows,
and fearing at every step to see Mr. Murdstone or Miss Murdstone
lowering out of one of them. No face appeared, however; and being
come to the house, and knowing how to open the door, before dark,
without knocking, I went in with a quiet, timid step.

God knows how infantine the memory may have been, that was awakened
within me by the sound of my mother's voice in the old parlour,
when I set foot in the hall. She was singing in a low tone. I
think I must have lain in her arms, and heard her singing so to me
when I was but a baby. The strain was new to me, and yet it was so
old that it filled my heart brim-full; like a friend come back from
a long absence.

I believed, from the solitary and thoughtful way in which my mother
murmured her song, that she was alone. And I went softly into the
room. She was sitting by the fire, suckling an infant, whose tiny
hand she held against her neck. Her eyes were looking down upon
its face, and she sat singing to it. I was so far right, that she
had no other companion.

I spoke to her, and she started, and cried out. But seeing me, she
called me her dear Davy, her own boy! and coming half across the
room to meet me, kneeled down upon the ground and kissed me, and
laid my head down on her bosom near the little creature that was
nestling there, and put its hand to my lips.

I wish I had died. I wish I had died then, with that feeling in my
heart! I should have been more fit for Heaven than I ever have
been since.

'He is your brother,' said my mother, fondling me. 'Davy, my
pretty boy! My poor child!' Then she kissed me more and more, and
clasped me round the neck. This she was doing when Peggotty came
running in, and bounced down on the ground beside us, and went mad
about us both for a quarter of an hour.

It seemed that I had not been expected so soon, the carrier being
much before his usual time. It seemed, too, that Mr. and Miss
Murdstone had gone out upon a visit in the neighbourhood, and would
not return before night. I had never hoped for this. I had never
thought it possible that we three could be together undisturbed,
once more; and I felt, for the time, as if the old days were come
back.

We dined together by the fireside. Peggotty was in attendance to
wait upon us, but my mother wouldn't let her do it, and made her
dine with us. I had my own old plate, with a brown view of a
man-of-war in full sail upon it, which Peggotty had hoarded


somewhere all the time I had been away, and would not have had
broken, she said, for a hundred pounds. I had my own old mug with
David on it, and my own old little knife and fork that wouldn't
cut.

While we were at table, I thought it a favourable occasion to tell
Peggotty about Mr. Barkis, who, before I had finished what I had to
tell her, began to laugh, and throw her apron over her face.

'Peggotty,' said my mother. 'What's the matter?'

Peggotty only laughed the more, and held her apron tight over her
face when my mother tried to pull it away, and sat as if her head
were in a bag.

'What are you doing, you stupid creature?' said my mother,
laughing.

'Oh, drat the man!' cried Peggotty. 'He wants to marry me.'

'It would be a very good match for you; wouldn't it?' said my
mother.

'Oh! I don't know,' said Peggotty. 'Don't ask me. I wouldn't
have him if he was made of gold. Nor I wouldn't have anybody.'

'Then, why don't you tell him so, you ridiculous thing?' said my
mother.

'Tell him so,' retorted Peggotty, looking out of her apron. 'He
has never said a word to me about it. He knows better. If he was
to make so bold as say a word to me, I should slap his face.'

Her own was as red as ever I saw it, or any other face, I think;
but she only covered it again, for a few moments at a time, when
she was taken with a violent fit of laughter; and after two or
three of those attacks, went on with her dinner.

I remarked that my mother, though she smiled when Peggotty looked
at her, became more serious and thoughtful. I had seen at first
that she was changed. Her face was very pretty still, but it
looked careworn, and too delicate; and her hand was so thin and
white that it seemed to me to be almost transparent. But the
change to which I now refer was superadded to this: it was in her
manner, which became anxious and fluttered. At last she said,
putting out her hand, and laying it affectionately on the hand of
her old servant,

'Peggotty, dear, you are not going to be married?'

'Me, ma'am?' returned Peggotty, staring. 'Lord bless you, no!'

'Not just yet?' said my mother, tenderly.

'Never!' cried Peggotty.

My mother took her hand, and said:

'Don't leave me, Peggotty. Stay with me. It will not be for long,
perhaps. What should I ever do without you!'

'Me leave you, my precious!' cried Peggotty. 'Not for all the
world and his wife. Why, what's put that in your silly little
head?' - For Peggotty had been used of old to talk to my mother


sometimes like a child.

But my mother made no answer, except to thank her, and Peggotty
went running on in her own fashion.

'Me leave you? I think I see myself. Peggotty go away from you?
I should like to catch her at it! No, no, no,' said Peggotty,
shaking her head, and folding her arms; 'not she, my dear. It
isn't that there ain't some Cats that would be well enough pleased
if she did, but they sha'n't be pleased. They shall be aggravated.
I'll stay with you till I am a cross cranky old woman. And when
I'm too deaf, and too lame, and too blind, and too mumbly for want
of teeth, to be of any use at all, even to be found fault with,
than I shall go to my Davy, and ask him to take me in.'

'And, Peggotty,' says I, 'I shall be glad to see you, and I'll make
you as welcome as a queen.'

'Bless your dear heart!' cried Peggotty. 'I know you will!' And
she kissed me beforehand, in grateful acknowledgement of my
hospitality. After that, she covered her head up with her apron
again and had another laugh about Mr. Barkis. After that, she took
the baby out of its little cradle, and nursed it. After that, she
cleared the dinner table; after that, came in with another cap on,
and her work-box, and the yard-measure, and the bit of wax-candle,
all just the same as ever.

We sat round the fire, and talked delightfully. I told them what
a hard master Mr. Creakle was, and they pitied me very much. I
told them what a fine fellow Steerforth was, and what a patron of
mine, and Peggotty said she would walk a score of miles to see him.
I took the little baby in my arms when it was awake, and nursed it
lovingly. When it was asleep again, I crept close to my mother's
side according to my old custom, broken now a long time, and sat
with my arms embracing her waist, and my little red cheek on her
shoulder, and once more felt her beautiful hair drooping over me like
an angel's wing as I used to think, I recollect - and was very
happy indeed.

While I sat thus, looking at the fire, and seeing pictures in the
red-hot coals, I almost believed that I had never been away; that
Mr. and Miss Murdstone were such pictures, and would vanish when
the fire got low; and that there was nothing real in all that I
remembered, save my mother, Peggotty, and I.

Peggotty darned away at a stocking as long as she could see, and
then sat with it drawn on her left hand like a glove, and her
needle in her right, ready to take another stitch whenever there
was a blaze. I cannot conceive whose stockings they can have been
that Peggotty was always darning, or where such an unfailing supply
of stockings in want of darning can have come from. From my
earliest infancy she seems to have been always employed in that
class of needlework, and never by any chance in any other.

'I wonder,' said Peggotty, who was sometimes seized with a fit of
wondering on some most unexpected topic, 'what's become of Davy's
great-aunt?'
'Lor, Peggotty!' observed my mother, rousing herself from a
reverie, 'what nonsense you talk!'

'Well, but I really do wonder, ma'am,' said Peggotty.

'What can have put such a person in your head?' inquired my mother.
'Is there nobody else in the world to come there?'


'I don't know how it is,' said Peggotty, 'unless it's on account of
being stupid, but my head never can pick and choose its people.
They come and they go, and they don't come and they don't go, just
as they like. I wonder what's become of her?'

'How absurd you are, Peggotty!' returned my mother. 'One would
suppose you wanted a second visit from her.'

'Lord forbid!' cried Peggotty.

'Well then, don't talk about such uncomfortable things, there's a
good soul,' said my mother. 'Miss Betsey is shut up in her cottage
by the sea, no doubt, and will remain there. At all events, she is
not likely ever to trouble us again.'

'No!' mused Peggotty. 'No, that ain't likely at all. - I wonder,
if she was to die, whether she'd leave Davy anything?'

'Good gracious me, Peggotty,' returned my mother, 'what a
nonsensical woman you are! when you know that she took offence at
the poor dear boy's ever being born at all.'

'I suppose she wouldn't be inclined to forgive him now,' hinted
Peggotty.

'Why should she be inclined to forgive him now?' said my mother,
rather sharply.

'Now that he's got a brother, I mean,' said Peggotty.

MY mother immediately began to cry, and wondered how Peggotty dared
to say such a thing.

'As if this poor little innocent in its cradle had ever done any
harm to you or anybody else, you jealous thing!' said she. 'You
had much better go and marry Mr. Barkis, the carrier. Why don't
you?'

'I should make Miss Murdstone happy, if I was to,' said Peggotty.

'What a bad disposition you have, Peggotty!' returned my mother.
'You are as jealous of Miss Murdstone as it is possible for a
ridiculous creature to be. You want to keep the keys yourself, and
give out all the things, I suppose? I shouldn't be surprised if
you did. When you know that she only does it out of kindness and
the best intentions! You know she does, Peggotty - you know it
well.'

Peggotty muttered something to the effect of 'Bother the best
intentions!' and something else to the effect that there was a
little too much of the best intentions going on.

'I know what you mean, you cross thing,' said my mother. 'I
understand you, Peggotty, perfectly. You know I do, and I wonder
you don't colour up like fire. But one point at a time. Miss
Murdstone is the point now, Peggotty, and you sha'n't escape from
it. Haven't you heard her say, over and over again, that she
thinks I am too thoughtless and too - a - a -'

'Pretty,' suggested Peggotty.

'Well,' returned my mother, half laughing, 'and if she is so silly
as to say so, can I be blamed for it?'


'No one says you can,' said Peggotty.

'No, I should hope not, indeed!' returned my mother. 'Haven't you
heard her say, over and over again, that on this account she wished
to spare me a great deal of trouble, which she thinks I am not
suited for, and which I really don't know myself that I AM suited
for; and isn't she up early and late, and going to and fro
continually - and doesn't she do all sorts of things, and grope
into all sorts of places, coal-holes and pantries and I don't know
where, that can't be very agreeable - and do you mean to insinuate
that there is not a sort of devotion in that?'

'I don't insinuate at all,' said Peggotty.

'You do, Peggotty,' returned my mother. 'You never do anything
else, except your work. You are always insinuating. You revel in
it. And when you talk of Mr. Murdstone's good intentions -'

'I never talked of 'em,' said Peggotty.

'No, Peggotty,' returned my mother, 'but you insinuated. That's
what I told you just now. That's the worst of you. You WILL
insinuate. I said, at the moment, that I understood you, and you
see I did. When you talk of Mr. Murdstone's good intentions, and
pretend to slight them (for I don't believe you really do, in your
heart, Peggotty), you must be as well convinced as I am how good
they are, and how they actuate him in everything. If he seems to
have been at all stern with a certain person, Peggotty - you
understand, and so I am sure does Davy, that I am not alluding to
anybody present - it is solely because he is satisfied that it is
for a certain person's benefit. He naturally loves a certain
person, on my account; and acts solely for a certain person's good.
He is better able to judge of it than I am; for I very well know
that I am a weak, light, girlish creature, and that he is a firm,
grave, serious man. And he takes,' said my mother, with the tears
which were engendered in her affectionate nature, stealing down her
face, 'he takes great pains with me; and I ought to be very
thankful to him, and very submissive to him even in my thoughts;
and when I am not, Peggotty, I worry and condemn myself, and feel
doubtful of my own heart, and don't know what to do.'

Peggotty sat with her chin on the foot of the stocking, looking
silently at the fire.

'There, Peggotty,' said my mother, changing her tone, 'don't let us
fall out with one another, for I couldn't bear it. You are my true
friend, I know, if I have any in the world. When I call you a
ridiculous creature, or a vexatious thing, or anything of that
sort, Peggotty, I only mean that you are my true friend, and always
have been, ever since the night when Mr. Copperfield first brought
me home here, and you came out to the gate to meet me.'

Peggotty was not slow to respond, and ratify the treaty of
friendship by giving me one of her best hugs. I think I had some
glimpses of the real character of this conversation at the time;
but I am sure, now, that the good creature originated it, and took
her part in it, merely that my mother might comfort herself with
the little contradictory summary in which she had indulged. The
design was efficacious; for I remember that my mother seemed more
at ease during the rest of the evening, and that Peggotty observed
her less.

When we had had our tea, and the ashes were thrown up, and the


candles snuffed, I read Peggotty a chapter out of the Crocodile
Book, in remembrance of old times - she took it out of her pocket:
I don't know whether she had kept it there ever since - and then we
talked about Salem House, which brought me round again to
Steerforth, who was my great subject. We were very happy; and that
evening, as the last of its race, and destined evermore to close
that volume of my life, will never pass out of my memory.

It was almost ten o'clock before we heard the sound of wheels. We
all got up then; and my mother said hurriedly that, as it was so
late, and Mr. and Miss Murdstone approved of early hours for young
people, perhaps I had better go to bed. I kissed her, and went
upstairs with my candle directly, before they came in. It appeared
to my childish fancy, as I ascended to the bedroom where I had been
imprisoned, that they brought a cold blast of air into the house
which blew away the old familiar feeling like a feather.

I felt uncomfortable about going down to breakfast in the morning,
as I had never set eyes on Mr. Murdstone since the day when I
committed my memorable offence. However, as it must be done, I
went down, after two or three false starts half-way, and as many
runs back on tiptoe to my own room, and presented myself in the
parlour.

He was standing before the fire with his back to it, while Miss
Murdstone made the tea. He looked at me steadily as I entered, but
made no sign of recognition whatever.
I went up to him, after a moment of confusion, and said: 'I beg
your pardon, sir. I am very sorry for what I did, and I hope you
will forgive me.'

'I am glad to hear you are sorry, David,' he replied.

The hand he gave me was the hand I had bitten. I could not
restrain my eye from resting for an instant on a red spot upon it;
but it was not so red as I turned, when I met that sinister
expression in his face.

'How do you do, ma'am?' I said to Miss Murdstone.

'Ah, dear me!' sighed Miss Murdstone, giving me the tea-caddy scoop
instead of her fingers. 'How long are the holidays?'

'A month, ma'am.'

'Counting from when?'

'From today, ma'am.'

'Oh!' said Miss Murdstone. 'Then here's one day off.'

She kept a calendar of the holidays in this way, and every morning
checked a day off in exactly the same manner. She did it gloomily
until she came to ten, but when she got into two figures she became
more hopeful, and, as the time advanced, even jocular.

It was on this very first day that I had the misfortune to throw
her, though she was not subject to such weakness in general, into
a state of violent consternation. I came into the room where she
and my mother were sitting; and the baby (who was only a few weeks
old) being on my mother's lap, I took it very carefully in my arms.
Suddenly Miss Murdstone gave such a scream that I all but dropped
it.


'My dear Jane!' cried my mother.

'Good heavens, Clara, do you see?' exclaimed Miss Murdstone.

'See what, my dear Jane?' said my mother; 'where?'

'He's got it!' cried Miss Murdstone. 'The boy has got the baby!'

She was limp with horror; but stiffened herself to make a dart at
me, and take it out of my arms. Then, she turned faint; and was so
very ill that they were obliged to give her cherry brandy. I was
solemnly interdicted by her, on her recovery, from touching my
brother any more on any pretence whatever; and my poor mother, who,
I could see, wished otherwise, meekly confirmed the interdict, by
saying: 'No doubt you are right, my dear Jane.'

On another occasion, when we three were together, this same dear
baby - it was truly dear to me, for our mother's sake - was the
innocent occasion of Miss Murdstone's going into a passion. My
mother, who had been looking at its eyes as it lay upon her lap,
said:

'Davy! come here!' and looked at mine.

I saw Miss Murdstone lay her beads down.

'I declare,' said my mother, gently, 'they are exactly alike. I
suppose they are mine. I think they are the colour of mine. But
they are wonderfully alike.'

'What are you talking about, Clara?' said Miss Murdstone.

'My dear Jane,' faltered my mother, a little abashed by the harsh
tone of this inquiry, 'I find that the baby's eyes and Davy's are
exactly alike.'

'Clara!' said Miss Murdstone, rising angrily, 'you are a positive
fool sometimes.'

'My dear Jane,' remonstrated my mother.

'A positive fool,' said Miss Murdstone. 'Who else could compare my
brother's baby with your boy? They are not at all alike. They are
exactly unlike. They are utterly dissimilar in all respects. I
hope they will ever remain so. I will not sit here, and hear such
comparisons made.' With that she stalked out, and made the door
bang after her.

In short, I was not a favourite with Miss Murdstone. In short, I
was not a favourite there with anybody, not even with myself; for
those who did like me could not show it, and those who did not,
showed it so plainly that I had a sensitive consciousness of always
appearing constrained, boorish, and dull.

I felt that I made them as uncomfortable as they made me. If I
came into the room where they were, and they were talking together
and my mother seemed cheerful, an anxious cloud would steal over
her face from the moment of my entrance. If Mr. Murdstone were in
his best humour, I checked him. If Miss Murdstone were in her
worst, I intensified it. I had perception enough to know that my
mother was the victim always; that she was afraid to speak to me or
to be kind to me, lest she should give them some offence by her
manner of doing so, and receive a lecture afterwards; that she was
not only ceaselessly afraid of her own offending, but of my


offending, and uneasily watched their looks if I only moved.
Therefore I resolved to keep myself as much out of their way as I
could; and many a wintry hour did I hear the church clock strike,
when I was sitting in my cheerless bedroom, wrapped in my little
great-coat, poring over a book.

In the evening, sometimes, I went and sat with Peggotty in the
kitchen. There I was comfortable, and not afraid of being myself.
But neither of these resources was approved of in the parlour. The
tormenting humour which was dominant there stopped them both. I
was still held to be necessary to my poor mother's training, and,
as one of her trials, could not be suffered to absent myself.

'David,' said Mr. Murdstone, one day after dinner when I was going
to leave the room as usual; 'I am sorry to observe that you are of
a sullen disposition.'

'As sulky as a bear!' said Miss Murdstone.

I stood still, and hung my head.

'Now, David,' said Mr. Murdstone, 'a sullen obdurate disposition
is, of all tempers, the worst.'

'And the boy's is, of all such dispositions that ever I have seen,'
remarked his sister, 'the most confirmed and stubborn. I think, my
dear Clara, even you must observe it?'

'I beg your pardon, my dear Jane,' said my mother, 'but are you
quite sure - I am certain you'll excuse me, my dear Jane - that you
understand Davy?'

'I should be somewhat ashamed of myself, Clara,' returned Miss
Murdstone, 'if I could not understand the boy, or any boy. I don't
profess to be profound; but I do lay claim to common sense.'

'No doubt, my dear Jane,' returned my mother, 'your understanding
is very vigorous -'

'Oh dear, no! Pray don't say that, Clara,' interposed Miss
Murdstone, angrily.

'But I am sure it is,' resumed my mother; 'and everybody knows it
is. I profit so much by it myself, in many ways - at least I ought
to - that no one can be more convinced of it than myself; and
therefore I speak with great diffidence, my dear Jane, I assure
you.'

'We'll say I don't understand the boy, Clara,' returned Miss
Murdstone, arranging the little fetters on her wrists. 'We'll
agree, if you please, that I don't understand him at all. He is
much too deep for me. But perhaps my brother's penetration may
enable him to have some insight into his character. And I believe
my brother was speaking on the subject when we - not very decently

-interrupted him.'
'I think, Clara,' said Mr. Murdstone, in a low grave voice, 'that
there may be better and more dispassionate judges of such a
question than you.'

'Edward,' replied my mother, timidly, 'you are a far better judge
of all questions than I pretend to be. Both you and Jane are. I
only said -'


'You only said something weak and inconsiderate,' he replied. 'Try
not to do it again, my dear Clara, and keep a watch upon yourself.'

MY mother's lips moved, as if she answered 'Yes, my dear Edward,'
but she said nothing aloud.

'I was sorry, David, I remarked,' said Mr. Murdstone, turning his
head and his eyes stiffly towards me, 'to observe that you are of
a sullen disposition. This is not a character that I can suffer to
develop itself beneath my eyes without an effort at improvement.
You must endeavour, sir, to change it. We must endeavour to change
it for you.'

'I beg your pardon, sir,' I faltered. 'I have never meant to be
sullen since I came back.'

'Don't take refuge in a lie, sir!' he returned so fiercely, that I
saw my mother involuntarily put out her trembling hand as if to
interpose between us. 'You have withdrawn yourself in your
sullenness to your own room. You have kept your own room when you
ought to have been here. You know now, once for all, that I
require you to be here, and not there. Further, that I require you
to bring obedience here. You know me, David. I will have it
done.'

Miss Murdstone gave a hoarse chuckle.

'I will have a respectful, prompt, and ready bearing towards
myself,' he continued, 'and towards Jane Murdstone, and towards
your mother. I will not have this room shunned as if it were
infected, at the pleasure of a child. Sit down.'

He ordered me like a dog, and I obeyed like a dog.

'One thing more,' he said. 'I observe that you have an attachment
to low and common company. You are not to associate with servants.
The kitchen will not improve you, in the many respects in which you
need improvement. Of the woman who abets you, I say nothing since
you, Clara,' addressing my mother in a lower voice, 'from old
associations and long-established fancies, have a weakness
respecting her which is not yet overcome.'

'A most unaccountable delusion it is!' cried Miss Murdstone.

'I only say,' he resumed, addressing me, 'that I disapprove of your
preferring such company as Mistress Peggotty, and that it is to be
abandoned. Now, David, you understand me, and you know what will
be the consequence if you fail to obey me to the letter.'

I knew well - better perhaps than he thought, as far as my poor
mother was concerned - and I obeyed him to the letter. I retreated
to my own room no more; I took refuge with Peggotty no more; but
sat wearily in the parlour day after day, looking forward to night,
and bedtime.

What irksome constraint I underwent, sitting in the same attitude
hours upon hours, afraid to move an arm or a leg lest Miss
Murdstone should complain (as she did on the least pretence) of my
restlessness, and afraid to move an eye lest she should light on
some look of dislike or scrutiny that would find new cause for
complaint in mine! What intolerable dulness to sit listening to
the ticking of the clock; and watching Miss Murdstone's little
shiny steel beads as she strung them; and wondering whether she
would ever be married, and if so, to what sort of unhappy man; and


counting the divisions in the moulding of the chimney-piece; and
wandering away, with my eyes, to the ceiling, among the curls and
corkscrews in the paper on the wall!

What walks I took alone, down muddy lanes, in the bad winter
weather, carrying that parlour, and Mr. and Miss Murdstone in it,
everywhere: a monstrous load that I was obliged to bear, a daymare
that there was no possibility of breaking in, a weight that brooded
on my wits, and blunted them!

What meals I had in silence and embarrassment, always feeling that
there were a knife and fork too many, and that mine; an appetite
too many, and that mine; a plate and chair too many, and those
mine; a somebody too many, and that I!

What evenings, when the candles came, and I was expected to employ
myself, but, not daring to read an entertaining book, pored over
some hard-headed, harder-hearted treatise on arithmetic; when the
tables of weights and measures set themselves to tunes, as 'Rule
Britannia', or 'Away with Melancholy'; when they wouldn't stand
still to be learnt, but would go threading my grandmother's needle
through my unfortunate head, in at one ear and out at the other!
What yawns and dozes I lapsed into, in spite of all my care; what
starts I came out of concealed sleeps with; what answers I never
got, to little observations that I rarely made; what a blank space
I seemed, which everybody overlooked, and yet was in everybody's
way; what a heavy relief it was to hear Miss Murdstone hail the
first stroke of nine at night, and order me to bed!

Thus the holidays lagged away, until the morning came when Miss
Murdstone said: 'Here's the last day off!' and gave me the closing
cup of tea of the vacation.

I was not sorry to go. I had lapsed into a stupid state; but I was
recovering a little and looking forward to Steerforth, albeit Mr.
Creakle loomed behind him. Again Mr. Barkis appeared at the gate,
and again Miss Murdstone in her warning voice, said: 'Clara!' when
my mother bent over me, to bid me farewell.

I kissed her, and my baby brother, and was very sorry then; but not
sorry to go away, for the gulf between us was there, and the
parting was there, every day. And it is not so much the embrace
she gave me, that lives in my mind, though it was as fervent as
could be, as what followed the embrace.

I was in the carrier's cart when I heard her calling to me. I
looked out, and she stood at the garden-gate alone, holding her
baby up in her arms for me to see. It was cold still weather; and
not a hair of her head, nor a fold of her dress, was stirred, as
she looked intently at me, holding up her child.

So I lost her. So I saw her afterwards, in my sleep at school - a
silent presence near my bed - looking at me with the same intent
face - holding up her baby in her arms.

CHAPTER 9
I HAVE A MEMORABLE BIRTHDAY

I PASS over all that happened at school, until the anniversary of
my birthday came round in March. Except that Steerforth was more
to be admired than ever, I remember nothing. He was going away at


the end of the half-year, if not sooner, and was more spirited and
independent than before in my eyes, and therefore more engaging
than before; but beyond this I remember nothing. The great
remembrance by which that time is marked in my mind, seems to have
swallowed up all lesser recollections, and to exist alone.

It is even difficult for me to believe that there was a gap of full
two months between my return to Salem House and the arrival of that
birthday. I can only understand that the fact was so, because I
know it must have been so; otherwise I should feel convinced that
there was no interval, and that the one occasion trod upon the
other's heels.

How well I recollect the kind of day it was! I smell the fog that
hung about the place; I see the hoar frost, ghostly, through it; I
feel my rimy hair fall clammy on my cheek; I look along the dim
perspective of the schoolroom, with a sputtering candle here and
there to light up the foggy morning, and the breath of the boys
wreathing and smoking in the raw cold as they blow upon their
fingers, and tap their feet upon the floor. It was after
breakfast, and we had been summoned in from the playground, when
Mr. Sharp entered and said:

'David Copperfield is to go into the parlour.'

I expected a hamper from Peggotty, and brightened at the order.
Some of the boys about me put in their claim not to be forgotten in
the distribution of the good things, as I got out of my seat with
great alacrity.

'Don't hurry, David,' said Mr. Sharp. 'There's time enough, my
boy, don't hurry.'

I might have been surprised by the feeling tone in which he spoke,
if I had given it a thought; but I gave it none until afterwards.
I hurried away to the parlour; and there I found Mr. Creakle,
sitting at his breakfast with the cane and a newspaper before him,
and Mrs. Creakle with an opened letter in her hand. But no hamper.

'David Copperfield,' said Mrs. Creakle, leading me to a sofa, and
sitting down beside me. 'I want to speak to you very particularly.
I have something to tell you, my child.'

Mr. Creakle, at whom of course I looked, shook his head without
looking at me, and stopped up a sigh with a very large piece of
buttered toast.

'You are too young to know how the world changes every day,' said
Mrs. Creakle, 'and how the people in it pass away. But we all have
to learn it, David; some of us when we are young, some of us when
we are old, some of us at all times of our lives.'

I looked at her earnestly.

'When you came away from home at the end of the vacation,' said
Mrs. Creakle, after a pause, 'were they all well?' After another
pause, 'Was your mama well?'

I trembled without distinctly knowing why, and still looked at her
earnestly, making no attempt to answer.

'Because,' said she, 'I grieve to tell you that I hear this morning
your mama is very ill.'


A mist rose between Mrs. Creakle and me, and her figure seemed to
move in it for an instant. Then I felt the burning tears run down
my face, and it was steady again.

'She is very dangerously ill,' she added.

I knew all now.

'She is dead.'

There was no need to tell me so. I had already broken out into a
desolate cry, and felt an orphan in the wide world.

She was very kind to me. She kept me there all day, and left me
alone sometimes; and I cried, and wore myself to sleep, and awoke
and cried again. When I could cry no more, I began to think; and
then the oppression on my breast was heaviest, and my grief a dull
pain that there was no ease for.

And yet my thoughts were idle; not intent on the calamity that
weighed upon my heart, but idly loitering near it. I thought of
our house shut up and hushed. I thought of the little baby, who,
Mrs. Creakle said, had been pining away for some time, and who,
they believed, would die too. I thought of my father's grave in
the churchyard, by our house, and of my mother lying there beneath
the tree I knew so well. I stood upon a chair when I was left
alone, and looked into the glass to see how red my eyes were, and
how sorrowful my face. I considered, after some hours were gone,
if my tears were really hard to flow now, as they seemed to be,
what, in connexion with my loss, it would affect me most to think
of when I drew near home - for I was going home to the funeral. I
am sensible of having felt that a dignity attached to me among the
rest of the boys, and that I was important in my affliction.

If ever child were stricken with sincere grief, I was. But I
remember that this importance was a kind of satisfaction to me,
when I walked in the playground that afternoon while the boys were
in school. When I saw them glancing at me out of the windows, as
they went up to their classes, I felt distinguished, and looked
more melancholy, and walked slower. When school was over, and they
came out and spoke to me, I felt it rather good in myself not to be
proud to any of them, and to take exactly the same notice of them
all, as before.

I was to go home next night; not by the mail, but by the heavy
night-coach, which was called the Farmer, and was principally used
by country-people travelling short intermediate distances upon the
road. We had no story-telling that evening, and Traddles insisted
on lending me his pillow. I don't know what good he thought it
would do me, for I had one of my own: but it was all he had to
lend, poor fellow, except a sheet of letter-paper full of
skeletons; and that he gave me at parting, as a soother of my
sorrows and a contribution to my peace of mind.

I left Salem House upon the morrow afternoon. I little thought
then that I left it, never to return. We travelled very slowly all
night, and did not get into Yarmouth before nine or ten o'clock in
the morning. I looked out for Mr. Barkis, but he was not there;
and instead of him a fat, short-winded, merry-looking, little old
man in black, with rusty little bunches of ribbons at the knees of
his breeches, black stockings, and a broad-brimmed hat, came
puffing up to the coach window, and said:

'Master Copperfield?'


'Yes, sir.'

'Will you come with me, young sir, if you please,' he said, opening
the door, 'and I shall have the pleasure of taking you home.'

I put my hand in his, wondering who he was, and we walked away to
a shop in a narrow street, on which was written OMER, DRAPER,
TAILOR, HABERDASHER, FUNERAL FURNISHER, &c. It was a close and
stifling little shop; full of all sorts of clothing, made and
unmade, including one window full of beaver-hats and bonnets. We
went into a little back-parlour behind the shop, where we found
three young women at work on a quantity of black materials, which
were heaped upon the table, and little bits and cuttings of which
were littered all over the floor. There was a good fire in the
room, and a breathless smell of warm black crape - I did not know
what the smell was then, but I know now.

The three young women, who appeared to be very industrious and
comfortable, raised their heads to look at me, and then went on
with their work. Stitch, stitch, stitch. At the same time there
came from a workshop across a little yard outside the window, a
regular sound of hammering that kept a kind of tune: RAT - tat-tat,
RAT - tat-tat, RAT - tat-tat, without any variation.

'Well,' said my conductor to one of the three young women. 'How do
you get on, Minnie?'

'We shall be ready by the trying-on time,' she replied gaily,
without looking up. 'Don't you be afraid, father.'

Mr. Omer took off his broad-brimmed hat, and sat down and panted.
He was so fat that he was obliged to pant some time before he could
say:

'That's right.'

'Father!' said Minnie, playfully. 'What a porpoise you do grow!'

'Well, I don't know how it is, my dear,' he replied, considering
about it. 'I am rather so.'

'You are such a comfortable man, you see,' said Minnie. 'You take
things so easy.'

'No use taking 'em otherwise, my dear,' said Mr. Omer.

'No, indeed,' returned his daughter. 'We are all pretty gay here,
thank Heaven! Ain't we, father?'

'I hope so, my dear,' said Mr. Omer. 'As I have got my breath now,
I think I'll measure this young scholar. Would you walk into the
shop, Master Copperfield?'

I preceded Mr. Omer, in compliance with his request; and after
showing me a roll of cloth which he said was extra super, and too
good mourning for anything short of parents, he took my various
dimensions, and put them down in a book. While he was recording
them he called my attention to his stock in trade, and to certain
fashions which he said had 'just come up', and to certain other
fashions which he said had 'just gone out'.

'And by that sort of thing we very often lose a little mint of
money,' said Mr. Omer. 'But fashions are like human beings. They


come in, nobody knows when, why, or how; and they go out, nobody
knows when, why, or how. Everything is like life, in my opinion,
if you look at it in that point of view.'

I was too sorrowful to discuss the question, which would possibly
have been beyond me under any circumstances; and Mr. Omer took me
back into the parlour, breathing with some difficulty on the way.

He then called down a little break-neck range of steps behind a
door: 'Bring up that tea and bread-and-butter!' which, after some
time, during which I sat looking about me and thinking, and
listening to the stitching in the room and the tune that was being
hammered across the yard, appeared on a tray, and turned out to be
for me.

'I have been acquainted with you,' said Mr. Omer, after watching me
for some minutes, during which I had not made much impression on
the breakfast, for the black things destroyed my appetite, 'I have
been acquainted with you a long time, my young friend.'

'Have you, sir?'

'All your life,' said Mr. Omer. 'I may say before it. I knew your
father before you. He was five foot nine and a half, and he lays
in five-and-twen-ty foot of ground.'

'RAT - tat-tat, RAT - tat-tat, RAT - tat-tat,' across the yard.

'He lays in five and twen-ty foot of ground, if he lays in a
fraction,' said Mr. Omer, pleasantly. 'It was either his request
or her direction, I forget which.'

'Do you know how my little brother is, sir?' I inquired.

Mr. Omer shook his head.

'RAT - tat-tat, RAT - tat-tat, RAT - tat-tat.'

'He is in his mother's arms,' said he.

'Oh, poor little fellow! Is he dead?'

'Don't mind it more than you can help,' said Mr. Omer. 'Yes. The
baby's dead.'

My wounds broke out afresh at this intelligence. I left the
scarcely-tasted breakfast, and went and rested my head on another
table, in a corner of the little room, which Minnie hastily
cleared, lest I should spot the mourning that was lying there with
my tears. She was a pretty, good-natured girl, and put my hair
away from my eyes with a soft, kind touch; but she was very
cheerful at having nearly finished her work and being in good time,
and was so different from me!

Presently the tune left off, and a good-looking young fellow came
across the yard into the room. He had a hammer in his hand, and
his mouth was full of little nails, which he was obliged to take
out before he could speak.

'Well, Joram!' said Mr. Omer. 'How do you get on?'

'All right,' said Joram. 'Done, sir.'

Minnie coloured a little, and the other two girls smiled at one


another.

'What! you were at it by candle-light last night, when I was at the
club, then? Were you?' said Mr. Omer, shutting up one eye.

'Yes,' said Joram. 'As you said we could make a little trip of it,
and go over together, if it was done, Minnie and me - and you.'

'Oh! I thought you were going to leave me out altogether,' said
Mr. Omer, laughing till he coughed.

'- As you was so good as to say that,' resumed the young man, 'why
I turned to with a will, you see. Will you give me your opinion of
it?'

'I will,' said Mr. Omer, rising. 'My dear'; and he stopped and
turned to me: 'would you like to see your -'

'No, father,' Minnie interposed.

'I thought it might be agreeable, my dear,' said Mr. Omer. 'But
perhaps you're right.'

I can't say how I knew it was my dear, dear mother's coffin that
they went to look at. I had never heard one making; I had never
seen one that I know of.- but it came into my mind what the noise
was, while it was going on; and when the young man entered, I am
sure I knew what he had been doing.

The work being now finished, the two girls, whose names I had not
heard, brushed the shreds and threads from their dresses, and went
into the shop to put that to rights, and wait for customers.
Minnie stayed behind to fold up what they had made, and pack it in
two baskets. This she did upon her knees, humming a lively little
tune the while. Joram, who I had no doubt was her lover, came in
and stole a kiss from her while she was busy (he didn't appear to
mind me, at all), and said her father was gone for the chaise, and
he must make haste and get himself ready. Then he went out again;
and then she put her thimble and scissors in her pocket, and stuck
a needle threaded with black thread neatly in the bosom of her
gown, and put on her outer clothing smartly, at a little glass
behind the door, in which I saw the reflection of her pleased face.

All this I observed, sitting at the table in the corner with my
head leaning on my hand, and my thoughts running on very different
things. The chaise soon came round to the front of the shop, and
the baskets being put in first, I was put in next, and those three
followed. I remember it as a kind of half chaise-cart, half
pianoforte-van, painted of a sombre colour, and drawn by a black
horse with a long tail. There was plenty of room for us all.

I do not think I have ever experienced so strange a feeling in my
life (I am wiser now, perhaps) as that of being with them,
remembering how they had been employed, and seeing them enjoy the
ride. I was not angry with them; I was more afraid of them, as if
I were cast away among creatures with whom I had no community of
nature. They were very cheerful. The old man sat in front to
drive, and the two young people sat behind him, and whenever he
spoke to them leaned forward, the one on one side of his chubby
face and the other on the other, and made a great deal of him.
They would have talked to me too, but I held back, and moped in my
corner; scared by their love-making and hilarity, though it was far
from boisterous, and almost wondering that no judgement came upon
them for their hardness of heart.


So, when they stopped to bait the horse, and ate and drank and
enjoyed themselves, I could touch nothing that they touched, but
kept my fast unbroken. So, when we reached home, I dropped out of
the chaise behind, as quickly as possible, that I might not be in
their company before those solemn windows, looking blindly on me
like closed eyes once bright. And oh, how little need I had had to
think what would move me to tears when I came back - seeing the
window of my mother's room, and next it that which, in the better
time, was mine!

I was in Peggotty's arms before I got to the door, and she took me
into the house. Her grief burst out when she first saw me; but she
controlled it soon, and spoke in whispers, and walked softly, as if
the dead could be disturbed. She had not been in bed, I found, for
a long time. She sat up at night still, and watched. As long as
her poor dear pretty was above the ground, she said, she would
never desert her.

Mr. Murdstone took no heed of me when I went into the parlour where
he was, but sat by the fireside, weeping silently, and pondering in
his elbow-chair. Miss Murdstone, who was busy at her writing-desk,
which was covered with letters and papers, gave me her cold
finger-nails, and asked me, in an iron whisper, if I had been
measured for my mourning.

I said: 'Yes.'

'And your shirts,' said Miss Murdstone; 'have you brought 'em
home?'

'Yes, ma'am. I have brought home all my clothes.'

This was all the consolation that her firmness administered to me.
I do not doubt that she had a choice pleasure in exhibiting what
she called her self-command, and her firmness, and her strength of
mind, and her common sense, and the whole diabolical catalogue of
her unamiable qualities, on such an occasion. She was particularly
proud of her turn for business; and she showed it now in reducing
everything to pen and ink, and being moved by nothing. All the
rest of that day, and from morning to night afterwards, she sat at
that desk, scratching composedly with a hard pen, speaking in the
same imperturbable whisper to everybody; never relaxing a muscle of
her face, or softening a tone of her voice, or appearing with an
atom of her dress astray.

Her brother took a book sometimes, but never read it that I saw.
He would open it and look at it as if he were reading, but would
remain for a whole hour without turning the leaf, and then put it
down and walk to and fro in the room. I used to sit with folded
hands watching him, and counting his footsteps, hour after hour.
He very seldom spoke to her, and never to me. He seemed to be the
only restless thing, except the clocks, in the whole motionless
house.

In these days before the funeral, I saw but little of Peggotty,
except that, in passing up or down stairs, I always found her close
to the room where my mother and her baby lay, and except that she
came to me every night, and sat by my bed's head while I went to
sleep. A day or two before the burial - I think it was a day or
two before, but I am conscious of confusion in my mind about that
heavy time, with nothing to mark its progress - she took me into
the room. I only recollect that underneath some white covering on
the bed, with a beautiful cleanliness and freshness all around it,


there seemed to me to lie embodied the solemn stillness that was in
the house; and that when she would have turned the cover gently
back, I cried: 'Oh no! oh no!' and held her hand.

If the funeral had been yesterday, I could not recollect it better.
The very air of the best parlour, when I went in at the door, the
bright condition of the fire, the shining of the wine in the
decanters, the patterns of the glasses and plates, the faint sweet
smell of cake, the odour of Miss Murdstone's dress, and our black
clothes. Mr. Chillip is in the room, and comes to speak to me.

'And how is Master David?' he says, kindly.

I cannot tell him very well. I give him my hand, which he holds in
his.

'Dear me!' says Mr. Chillip, meekly smiling, with something shining
in his eye. 'Our little friends grow up around us. They grow out
of our knowledge, ma'am?' This is to Miss Murdstone, who makes no
reply.

'There is a great improvement here, ma'am?' says Mr. Chillip.

Miss Murdstone merely answers with a frown and a formal bend: Mr.
Chillip, discomfited, goes into a corner, keeping me with him, and
opens his mouth no more.

I remark this, because I remark everything that happens, not
because I care about myself, or have done since I came home. And
now the bell begins to sound, and Mr. Omer and another come to make
us ready. As Peggotty was wont to tell me, long ago, the followers
of my father to the same grave were made ready in the same room.

There are Mr. Murdstone, our neighbour Mr. Grayper, Mr. Chillip,
and I. When we go out to the door, the Bearers and their load are
in the garden; and they move before us down the path, and past the
elms, and through the gate, and into the churchyard, where I have
so often heard the birds sing on a summer morning.

We stand around the grave. The day seems different to me from
every other day, and the light not of the same colour - of a sadder
colour. Now there is a solemn hush, which we have brought from
home with what is resting in the mould; and while we stand
bareheaded, I hear the voice of the clergyman, sounding remote in
the open air, and yet distinct and plain, saying: 'I am the
Resurrection and the Life, saith the Lord!' Then I hear sobs; and,
standing apart among the lookers-on, I see that good and faithful
servant, whom of all the people upon earth I love the best, and
unto whom my childish heart is certain that the Lord will one day
say: 'Well done.'

There are many faces that I know, among the little crowd; faces
that I knew in church, when mine was always wondering there; faces
that first saw my mother, when she came to the village in her
youthful bloom. I do not mind them - I mind nothing but my grief

-and yet I see and know them all; and even in the background, far
away, see Minnie looking on, and her eye glancing on her
sweetheart, who is near me.
It is over, and the earth is filled in, and we turn to come away.
Before us stands our house, so pretty and unchanged, so linked in
my mind with the young idea of what is gone, that all my sorrow has
been nothing to the sorrow it calls forth. But they take me on;
and Mr. Chillip talks to me; and when we get home, puts some water


to my lips; and when I ask his leave to go up to my room, dismisses
me with the gentleness of a woman.

All this, I say, is yesterday's event. Events of later date have
floated from me to the shore where all forgotten things will
reappear, but this stands like a high rock in the ocean.

I knew that Peggotty would come to me in my room. The Sabbath
stillness of the time (the day was so like Sunday! I have
forgotten that) was suited to us both. She sat down by my side
upon my little bed; and holding my hand, and sometimes putting it
to her lips, and sometimes smoothing it with hers, as she might
have comforted my little brother, told me, in her way, all that she
had to tell concerning what had happened.

'She was never well,' said Peggotty, 'for a long time. She was
uncertain in her mind, and not happy. When her baby was born, I
thought at first she would get better, but she was more delicate,
and sunk a little every day. She used to like to sit alone before
her baby came, and then she cried; but afterwards she used to sing
to it - so soft, that I once thought, when I heard her, it was like
a voice up in the air, that was rising away.

'I think she got to be more timid, and more frightened-like, of
late; and that a hard word was like a blow to her. But she was
always the same to me. She never changed to her foolish Peggotty,
didn't my sweet girl.'

Here Peggotty stopped, and softly beat upon my hand a little while.

'The last time that I saw her like her own old self, was the night
when you came home, my dear. The day you went away, she said to
me, I never shall see my pretty darling again. Something tells me
sothat tells the truthI know."

'She tried to hold up after that; and many a timewhen they told
her she was thoughtless and light-heartedmade believe to be so;
but it was all a bygone then. She never told her husband what she
had told me - she was afraid of saying it to anybody else - till
one nighta little more than a week before it happenedwhen she
said to him: "My dearI think I am dying."

'"It's off my mind nowPeggotty she told me, when I laid her in
her bed that night. He will believe it more and morepoor
fellowevery day for a few days to come; and then it will be past.
I am very tired. If this is sleepsit by me while I sleep: don't
leave me. God bless both my children! God protect and keep my
fatherless boy!"

'I never left her afterwards' said Peggotty. 'She often talked to
them two downstairs - for she loved them; she couldn't bear not to
love anyone who was about her - but when they went away from her
bed-sideshe always turned to meas if there was rest where
Peggotty wasand never fell asleep in any other way.

'On the last nightin the eveningshe kissed meand said: "If my
baby should die tooPeggottyplease let them lay him in my arms
and bury us together." (It was done; for the poor lamb lived but
a day beyond her.) "Let my dearest boy go with us to our
resting-place she said, and tell him that his motherwhen she
lay hereblessed him not oncebut a thousand times."'

Another silence followed thisand another gentle beating on my
hand.


'It was pretty far in the night' said Peggotty'when she asked me
for some drink; and when she had taken itgave me such a patient
smilethe dear! - so beautiful!

'Daybreak had comeand the sun was risingwhen she said to me
how kind and considerate Mr. Copperfield had always been to her
and how he had borne with herand told herwhen she doubted
herselfthat a loving heart was better and stronger than wisdom
and that he was a happy man in hers. "Peggottymy dear she said
then, put me nearer to you for she was very weak. Lay your
good arm underneath my neck she said, and turn me to youfor
your face is going far offand I want it to be near." I put it as
she asked; and oh Davy! the time had come when my first parting
words to you were true - when she was glad to lay her poor head on
her stupid cross old Peggotty's arm - and she died like a child
that had gone to sleep!'

Thus ended Peggotty's narration. From the moment of my knowing of
the death of my motherthe idea of her as she had been of late had
vanished from me. I remembered herfrom that instantonly as the
young mother of my earliest impressionswho had been used to wind
her bright curls round and round her fingerand to dance with me
at twilight in the parlour. What Peggotty had told me nowwas so
far from bringing me back to the later periodthat it rooted the
earlier image in my mind. It may be curiousbut it is true. In
her death she winged her way back to her calm untroubled youthand
cancelled all the rest.

The mother who lay in the gravewas the mother of my infancy; the
little creature in her armswas myselfas I had once beenhushed
for ever on her bosom.

CHAPTER 10
I BECOME NEGLECTEDAND AM PROVIDED FOR

The first act of business Miss Murdstone performed when the day of
the solemnity was overand light was freely admitted into the
housewas to give Peggotty a month's warning. Much as Peggotty
would have disliked such a serviceI believe she would have
retained itfor my sakein preference to the best upon earth.
She told me we must partand told me why; and we condoled with one
anotherin all sincerity.

As to me or my futurenot a word was saidor a step taken. Happy
they would have beenI dare sayif they could have dismissed me
at a month's warning too. I mustered courage onceto ask Miss
Murdstone when I was going back to school; and she answered dryly
she believed I was not going back at all. I was told nothing more.
I was very anxious to know what was going to be done with meand
so was Peggotty; but neither she nor I could pick up any
information on the subject.

There was one change in my conditionwhichwhile it relieved me
of a great deal of present uneasinessmight have made meif I had
been capable of considering it closelyyet more uncomfortable
about the future. It was this. The constraint that had been put
upon mewas quite abandoned. I was so far from being required to
keep my dull post in the parlourthat on several occasionswhen
I took my seat thereMiss Murdstone frowned to me to go away. I


was so far from being warned off from Peggotty's societythat
provided I was not in Mr. Murdstone'sI was never sought out or
inquired for. At first I was in daily dread of his taking my
education in hand againor of Miss Murdstone's devoting herself to
it; but I soon began to think that such fears were groundlessand
that all I had to anticipate was neglect.

I do not conceive that this discovery gave me much pain then. I
was still giddy with the shock of my mother's deathand in a kind
of stunned state as to all tributary things. I can recollect
indeedto have speculatedat odd timeson the possibility of my
not being taught any moreor cared for any more; and growing up to
be a shabbymoody manlounging an idle life awayabout the
village; as well as on the feasibility of my getting rid of this
picture by going away somewherelike the hero in a storyto seek
my fortune: but these were transient visionsdaydreams I sat
looking at sometimesas if they were faintly painted or written on
the wall of my roomand whichas they melted awayleft the wall
blank again.

'Peggotty' I said in a thoughtful whisperone eveningwhen I was
warming my hands at the kitchen fire'Mr. Murdstone likes me less
than he used to. He never liked me muchPeggotty; but he would
rather not even see me nowif he can help it.'

'Perhaps it's his sorrow' said Peggottystroking my hair.

'I am surePeggottyI am sorry too. If I believed it was his
sorrowI should not think of it at all. But it's not that; oh
noit's not that.'

'How do you know it's not that?' said Peggottyafter a silence.

'Ohhis sorrow is another and quite a different thing. He is
sorry at this momentsitting by the fireside with Miss Murdstone;
but if I was to go inPeggottyhe would be something besides.'

'What would he be?' said Peggotty.

'Angry' I answeredwith an involuntary imitation of his dark
frown. 'If he was only sorryhe wouldn't look at me as he does.
I am only sorryand it makes me feel kinder.'

Peggotty said nothing for a little while; and I warmed my handsas
silent as she.

'Davy' she said at length.

'YesPeggotty?'
'I have triedmy dearall ways I could think of - all the ways
there areand all the ways there ain'tin short - to get a
suitable service herein Blunderstone; but there's no such a
thingmy love.'

'And what do you mean to doPeggotty' says Iwistfully. 'Do you
mean to go and seek your fortune?'

'I expect I shall be forced to go to Yarmouth' replied Peggotty
'and live there.'

'You might have gone farther off' I saidbrightening a little
'and been as bad as lost. I shall see you sometimesmy dear old
Peggottythere. You won't be quite at the other end of the world
will you?'


'Contrary waysplease God!' cried Peggottywith great animation.
'As long as you are heremy petI shall come over every week of
my life to see you. One dayevery week of my life!'

I felt a great weight taken off my mind by this promise: but even
this was not allfor Peggotty went on to say:

'I'm a-goingDavyyou seeto my brother'sfirstfor another
fortnight's visit - just till I have had time to look about meand
get to be something like myself again. NowI have been thinking
that perhapsas they don't want you here at presentyou might be
let to go along with me.'

If anythingshort of being in a different relation to every one
about mePeggotty exceptedcould have given me a sense of
pleasure at that timeit would have been this project of all
others. The idea of being again surrounded by those honest faces
shining welcome on me; of renewing the peacefulness of the sweet
Sunday morningwhen the bells were ringingthe stones dropping in
the waterand the shadowy ships breaking through the mist; of
roaming up and down with little Em'lytelling her my troublesand
finding charms against them in the shells and pebbles on the beach;
made a calm in my heart. It was ruffled next momentto be sure
by a doubt of Miss Murdstone's giving her consent; but even that
was set at rest soonfor she came out to take an evening grope in
the store-closet while we were yet in conversationand Peggotty
with a boldness that amazed mebroached the topic on the spot.

'The boy will be idle there' said Miss Murdstonelooking into a
pickle-jar'and idleness is the root of all evil. Butto be
surehe would be idle here - or anywherein my opinion.'

Peggotty had an angry answer readyI could see; but she swallowed
it for my sakeand remained silent.

'Humph!' said Miss Murdstonestill keeping her eye on the pickles;
'it is of more importance than anything else - it is of paramount
importance - that my brother should not be disturbed or made
uncomfortable. I suppose I had better say yes.'

I thanked herwithout making any demonstration of joylest it
should induce her to withdraw her assent. Nor could I help
thinking this a prudent coursesince she looked at me out of the
pickle-jarwith as great an access of sourness as if her black
eyes had absorbed its contents. Howeverthe permission was given
and was never retracted; for when the month was outPeggotty and
I were ready to depart.

Mr. Barkis came into the house for Peggotty's boxes. I had never
known him to pass the garden-gate beforebut on this occasion he
came into the house. And he gave me a look as he shouldered the
largest box and went outwhich I thought had meaning in itif
meaning could ever be said to find its way into Mr. Barkis's
visage.

Peggotty was naturally in low spirits at leaving what had been her
home so many yearsand where the two strong attachments of her
life - for my mother and myself - had been formed. She had been
walking in the churchyardtoovery early; and she got into the
cartand sat in it with her handkerchief at her eyes.

So long as she remained in this conditionMr. Barkis gave no sign
of life whatever. He sat in his usual place and attitude like a


great stuffed figure. But when she began to look about herand to
speak to mehe nodded his head and grinned several times. I have
not the least notion at whomor what he meant by it.

'It's a beautiful dayMr. Barkis!' I saidas an act of
politeness.

'It ain't bad' said Mr. Barkiswho generally qualified his
speechand rarely committed himself.

'Peggotty is quite comfortable nowMr. Barkis' I remarkedfor
his satisfaction.

'Is shethough?' said Mr. Barkis.

After reflecting about itwith a sagacious airMr. Barkis eyed
herand said:

'ARE you pretty comfortable?'

Peggotty laughedand answered in the affirmative.

'But really and trulyyou know. Are you?' growled Mr. Barkis
sliding nearer to her on the seatand nudging her with his elbow.
'Are you? Really and truly pretty comfortable? Are you? Eh?'

At each of these inquiries Mr. Barkis shuffled nearer to herand
gave her another nudge; so that at last we were all crowded
together in the left-hand corner of the cartand I was so squeezed
that I could hardly bear it.

Peggotty calling his attention to my sufferingsMr. Barkis gave me
a little more room at onceand got away by degrees. But I could
not help observing that he seemed to think he had hit upon a
wonderful expedient for expressing himself in a neatagreeable
and pointed mannerwithout the inconvenience of inventing
conversation. He manifestly chuckled over it for some time. By
and by he turned to Peggotty againand repeating'Are you pretty
comfortable though?' bore down upon us as beforeuntil the breath
was nearly edged out of my body. By and by he made another descent
upon us with the same inquiryand the same result. At lengthI
got up whenever I saw him comingand standing on the foot-board
pretended to look at the prospect; after which I did very well.

He was so polite as to stop at a public-houseexpressly on our
accountand entertain us with broiled mutton and beer. Even when
Peggotty was in the act of drinkinghe was seized with one of
those approachesand almost choked her. But as we drew nearer to
the end of our journeyhe had more to do and less time for
gallantry; and when we got on Yarmouth pavementwe were all too
much shaken and joltedI apprehendto have any leisure for
anything else.

Mr. Peggotty and Ham waited for us at the old place. They received
me and Peggotty in an affectionate mannerand shook hands with Mr.
Barkiswhowith his hat on the very back of his headand a
shame-faced leer upon his countenanceand pervading his very legs
presented but a vacant appearanceI thought. They each took one
of Peggotty's trunksand we were going awaywhen Mr. Barkis
solemnly made a sign to me with his forefinger to come under an
archway.

'I say' growled Mr. Barkis'it was all right.'


I looked up into his faceand answeredwith an attempt to be very
profound: 'Oh!'

'It didn't come to a end there' said Mr. Barkisnodding
confidentially. 'It was all right.'

Again I answered'Oh!'

'You know who was willin'' said my friend. 'It was Barkisand
Barkis only.'

I nodded assent.

'It's all right' said Mr. Barkisshaking hands; 'I'm a friend of
your'n. You made it all rightfirst. It's all right.'

In his attempts to be particularly lucidMr. Barkis was so
extremely mysteriousthat I might have stood looking in his face
for an hourand most assuredly should have got as much information
out of it as out of the face of a clock that had stoppedbut for
Peggotty's calling me away. As we were going alongshe asked me
what he had said; and I told her he had said it was all right.

'Like his impudence' said Peggotty'but I don't mind that! Davy
dearwhat should you think if I was to think of being married?'

'Why - I suppose you would like me as much thenPeggottyas you
do now?' I returnedafter a little consideration.

Greatly to the astonishment of the passengers in the streetas
well as of her relations going on beforethe good soul was obliged
to stop and embrace me on the spotwith many protestations of her
unalterable love.

'Tell me what should you saydarling?' she asked againwhen this
was overand we were walking on.

'If you were thinking of being married - to Mr. BarkisPeggotty?'

'Yes' said Peggotty.

'I should think it would be a very good thing. For then you know
Peggottyyou would always have the horse and cart to bring you
over to see meand could come for nothingand be sure of coming.'

'The sense of the dear!' cried Peggotty. 'What I have been
thinking ofthis month back! Yesmy precious; and I think I
should be more independent altogetheryou see; let alone my
working with a better heart in my own housethan I could in
anybody else's now. I don't know what I might be fit fornowas
a servant to a stranger. And I shall be always near my pretty's
resting-place' said Peggottymusing'and be able to see it when
I like; and when I lie down to restI may be laid not far off from
my darling girl!'

We neither of us said anything for a little while.

'But I wouldn't so much as give it another thought' said Peggotty
cheerily 'if my Davy was anyways against it - not if I had been
asked in church thirty times three times overand was wearing out
the ring in my pocket.'

'Look at mePeggotty' I replied; 'and see if I am not really
gladand don't truly wish it!' As indeed I didwith all my


heart.

'Wellmy life' said Peggottygiving me a squeeze'I have
thought of it night and dayevery way I canand I hope the right
way; but I'll think of it againand speak to my brother about it
and in the meantime we'll keep it to ourselvesDavyyou and me.
Barkis is a good plain creature' said Peggotty'and if I tried to
do my duty by himI think it would be my fault if I wasn't - if I
wasn't pretty comfortable' said Peggottylaughing heartily.
This quotation from Mr. Barkis was so appropriateand tickled us
both so muchthat we laughed again and againand were quite in a
pleasant humour when we came within view of Mr. Peggotty's cottage.

It looked just the sameexcept that it mayperhapshave shrunk
a little in my eyes; and Mrs. Gummidge was waiting at the door as
if she had stood there ever since. All within was the samedown
to the seaweed in the blue mug in my bedroom. I went into the
out-house to look about me; and the very same lobsterscrabsand
crawfish possessed by the same desire to pinch the world in
generalappeared to be in the same state of conglomeration in the

same old corner.

But there was no little Em'ly to be seenso I asked Mr. Peggotty
where she was.

'She's at schoolsir' said Mr. Peggottywiping the heat
consequent on the porterage of Peggotty's box from his forehead;
'she'll be home' looking at the Dutch clock'in from twenty
minutes to half-an-hour's time. We all on us feel the loss of her
bless ye!'

Mrs. Gummidge moaned.

'Cheer upMawther!' cried Mr. Peggotty.

'I feel it more than anybody else' said Mrs. Gummidge; 'I'm a lone
lorn creetur'and she used to be a'most the only thing that didn't
go contrary with me.'

Mrs. Gummidgewhimpering and shaking her headapplied herself to
blowing the fire. Mr. Peggottylooking round upon us while she
was so engagedsaid in a low voicewhich he shaded with his hand:
'The old 'un!' From this I rightly conjectured that no improvement
had taken place since my last visit in the state of Mrs. Gummidge's
spirits.

Nowthe whole place wasor it should have beenquite as
delightful a place as ever; and yet it did not impress me in the
same way. I felt rather disappointed with it. Perhaps it was
because little Em'ly was not at home. I knew the way by which she
would comeand presently found myself strolling along the path to
meet her.

A figure appeared in the distance before longand I soon knew it
to be Em'lywho was a little creature still in staturethough she
was grown. But when she drew nearerand I saw her blue eyes
looking bluerand her dimpled face looking brighterand her whole
self prettier and gayera curious feeling came over me that made
me pretend not to know herand pass by as if I were looking at
something a long way off. I have done such a thing since in later
lifeor I am mistaken.

Little Em'ly didn't care a bit. She saw me well enough; but


instead of turning round and calling after meran away laughing.
This obliged me to run after herand she ran so fast that we were
very near the cottage before I caught her.

'Ohit's youis it?' said little Em'ly.

'Whyyou knew who it wasEm'ly' said I.

'And didn't YOU know who it was?' said Em'ly. I was going to kiss
herbut she covered her cherry lips with her handsand said she
wasn't a baby nowand ran awaylaughing more than everinto the
house.

She seemed to delight in teasing mewhich was a change in her I
wondered at very much. The tea table was readyand our little
locker was put out in its old placebut instead of coming to sit
by meshe went and bestowed her company upon that grumbling Mrs.
Gummidge: and on Mr. Peggotty's inquiring whyrumpled her hair all
over her face to hide itand could do nothing but laugh.

'A little pussit is!' said Mr. Peggottypatting her with his
great hand.

'So sh' is! so sh' is!' cried Ham. 'Mas'r Davy bor'so sh' is!'
and he sat and chuckled at her for some timein a state of mingled
admiration and delightthat made his face a burning red.

Little Em'ly was spoiled by them allin fact; and by no one more
than Mr. Peggotty himselfwhom she could have coaxed into
anythingby only going and laying her cheek against his rough
whisker. That was my opinionat leastwhen I saw her do it; and
I held Mr. Peggotty to be thoroughly in the right. But she was so
affectionate and sweet-naturedand had such a pleasant manner of
being both sly and shy at oncethat she captivated me more than
ever.

She was tender-heartedtoo; for whenas we sat round the fire
after teaan allusion was made by Mr. Peggotty over his pipe to
the loss I had sustainedthe tears stood in her eyesand she
looked at me so kindly across the tablethat I felt quite thankful
to her.

'Ah!' said Mr. Peggottytaking up her curlsand running them over
his hand like water'here's another orphanyou seesir. And
here' said Mr. Peggottygiving Ham a backhanded knock in the
chest'is another of 'emthough he don't look much like it.'

'If I had you for my guardianMr. Peggotty' said Ishaking my
head'I don't think I should FEEL much like it.'

'Well saidMas'r Davy bor'!' cried Hamin an ecstasy. 'Hoorah!
Well said! Nor more you wouldn't! Hor! Hor!' - Here he returned
Mr. Peggotty's back-handerand little Em'ly got up and kissed Mr.
Peggotty. 'And how's your friendsir?' said Mr. Peggotty to me.

'Steerforth?' said I.

'That's the name!' cried Mr. Peggottyturning to Ham. 'I knowed
it was something in our way.'

'You said it was Rudderford' observed Hamlaughing.

'Well!' retorted Mr. Peggotty. 'And ye steer with a rudderdon't
ye? It ain't fur off. How is hesir?'


'He was very well indeed when I came awayMr. Peggotty.'

'There's a friend!' said Mr. Peggottystretching out his pipe.
'There's a friendif you talk of friends! WhyLord love my heart
aliveif it ain't a treat to look at him!'

'He is very handsomeis he not?' said Imy heart warming with
this praise.

'Handsome!' cried Mr. Peggotty. 'He stands up to you like - like
a - why I don't know what he don't stand up to you like. He's so
bold!'

'Yes! That's just his character' said I. 'He's as brave as a
lionand you can't think how frank he isMr. Peggotty.'

'And I do supposenow' said Mr. Peggottylooking at me through
the smoke of his pipe'that in the way of book-larning he'd take
the wind out of a'most anything.'

'Yes' said Idelighted; 'he knows everything. He is
astonishingly clever.'

'There's a friend!' murmured Mr. Peggottywith a grave toss of his
head.

'Nothing seems to cost him any trouble' said I. 'He knows a task
if he only looks at it. He is the best cricketer you ever saw. He
will give you almost as many men as you like at draughtsand beat
you easily.'

Mr. Peggotty gave his head another tossas much as to say: 'Of
course he will.'

'He is such a speaker' I pursued'that he can win anybody over;
and I don't know what you'd say if you were to hear him singMr.
Peggotty.'

Mr. Peggotty gave his head another tossas much as to say: 'I have
no doubt of it.'

'Thenhe's such a generousfinenoble fellow' said Iquite
carried away by my favourite theme'that it's hardly possible to
give him as much praise as he deserves. I am sure I can never feel
thankful enough for the generosity with which he has protected me
so much younger and lower in the school than himself.'

I was running onvery fast indeedwhen my eyes rested on little
Em'ly's facewhich was bent forward over the tablelistening with
the deepest attentionher breath heldher blue eyes sparkling
like jewelsand the colour mantling in her cheeks. She looked so
extraordinarily earnest and prettythat I stopped in a sort of
wonder; and they all observed her at the same timefor as I
stoppedthey laughed and looked at her.

'Em'ly is like me' said Peggotty'and would like to see him.'

Em'ly was confused by our all observing herand hung down her
headand her face was covered with blushes. Glancing up presently
through her stray curlsand seeing that we were all looking at her
still (I am sure Ifor onecould have looked at her for hours)
she ran awayand kept away till it was nearly bedtime.


I lay down in the old little bed in the stern of the boatand the
wind came moaning on across the flat as it had done before. But I
could not help fancyingnowthat it moaned of those who were
gone; and instead of thinking that the sea might rise in the night
and float the boat awayI thought of the sea that had risensince
I last heard those soundsand drowned my happy home. I recollect
as the wind and water began to sound fainter in my earsputting a
short clause into my prayerspetitioning that I might grow up to
marry little Em'lyand so dropping lovingly asleep.

The days passed pretty much as they had passed beforeexcept - it
was a great exception- that little Em'ly and I seldom wandered on
the beach now. She had tasks to learnand needle-work to do; and
was absent during a great part of each day. But I felt that we
should not have had those old wanderingseven if it had been
otherwise. Wild and full of childish whims as Em'ly wasshe was
more of a little woman than I had supposed. She seemed to have got
a great distance away from mein little more than a year. She
liked mebut she laughed at meand tormented me; and when I went
to meet herstole home another wayand was laughing at the door
when I came backdisappointed. The best times were when she sat
quietly at work in the doorwayand I sat on the wooden step at her
feetreading to her. It seems to meat this hourthat I have
never seen such sunlight as on those bright April afternoons; that
I have never seen such a sunny little figure as I used to see
sitting in the doorway of the old boat; that I have never beheld
such skysuch watersuch glorified ships sailing away into golden
air.

On the very first evening after our arrivalMr. Barkis appeared in
an exceedingly vacant and awkward conditionand with a bundle of
oranges tied up in a handkerchief. As he made no allusion of any
kind to this propertyhe was supposed to have left it behind him
by accident when he went away; until Hamrunning after him to
restore itcame back with the information that it was intended for
Peggotty. After that occasion he appeared every evening at exactly
the same hourand always with a little bundleto which he never
alludedand which he regularly put behind the door and left there.
These offerings of affection were of a most various and eccentric
description. Among them I remember a double set of pigs' trotters
a huge pin-cushionhalf a bushel or so of applesa pair of jet
earringssome Spanish onionsa box of dominoesa canary bird and
cageand a leg of pickled pork.

Mr. Barkis's wooingas I remember itwas altogether of a peculiar
kind. He very seldom said anything; but would sit by the fire in
much the same attitude as he sat in his cartand stare heavily at
Peggottywho was opposite. One nightbeingas I suppose
inspired by lovehe made a dart at the bit of wax-candle she kept
for her threadand put it in his waistcoat-pocket and carried it
off. After thathis great delight was to produce it when it was
wantedsticking to the lining of his pocketin a partially melted
stateand pocket it again when it was done with. He seemed to
enjoy himself very muchand not to feel at all called upon to
talk. Even when he took Peggotty out for a walk on the flatshe
had no uneasiness on that headI believe; contenting himself with
now and then asking her if she was pretty comfortable; and I
remember that sometimesafter he was gonePeggotty would throw
her apron over her faceand laugh for half-an-hour. Indeedwe
were all more or less amusedexcept that miserable Mrs. Gummidge
whose courtship would appear to have been of an exactly parallel
natureshe was so continually reminded by these transactions of
the old one.


At lengthwhen the term of my visit was nearly expiredit was
given out that Peggotty and Mr. Barkis were going to make a day's
holiday togetherand that little Em'ly and I were to accompany
them. I had but a broken sleep the night beforein anticipation
of the pleasure of a whole day with Em'ly. We were all astir
betimes in the morning; and while we were yet at breakfastMr.
Barkis appeared in the distancedriving a chaise-cart towards the
object of his affections.

Peggotty was dressed as usualin her neat and quiet mourning; but
Mr. Barkis bloomed in a new blue coatof which the tailor had
given him such good measurethat the cuffs would have rendered
gloves unnecessary in the coldest weatherwhile the collar was so
high that it pushed his hair up on end on the top of his head. His
bright buttonstoowere of the largest size. Rendered complete
by drab pantaloons and a buff waistcoatI thought Mr. Barkis a
phenomenon of respectability.

When we were all in a bustle outside the doorI found that Mr.
Peggotty was prepared with an old shoewhich was to be thrown
after us for luckand which he offered to Mrs. Gummidge for that
purpose.

'No. It had better be done by somebody elseDan'l' said Mrs.
Gummidge. 'I'm a lone lorn creetur' myselfand everythink that
reminds me of creetur's that ain't lone and lorngoes contrary
with me.'

'Comeold gal!' cried Mr. Peggotty. 'Take and heave it.'

'NoDan'l' returned Mrs. Gummidgewhimpering and shaking her
head. 'If I felt lessI could do more. You don't feel like me
Dan'l; thinks don't go contrary with younor you with them; you
had better do it yourself.'

But here Peggottywho had been going about from one to another in
a hurried waykissing everybodycalled out from the cartin
which we all were by this time (Em'ly and I on two little chairs
side by side)that Mrs. Gummidge must do it. So Mrs. Gummidge did
it; andI am sorry to relatecast a damp upon the festive
character of our departureby immediately bursting into tearsand
sinking subdued into the arms of Hamwith the declaration that she
knowed she was a burdenand had better be carried to the House at
once. Which I really thought was a sensible ideathat Ham might
have acted on.

Away we wenthoweveron our holiday excursion; and the first
thing we did was to stop at a churchwhere Mr. Barkis tied the
horse to some railsand went in with Peggottyleaving little
Em'ly and me alone in the chaise. I took that occasion to put my
arm round Em'ly's waistand propose that as I was going away so
very soon nowwe should determine to be very affectionate to one
anotherand very happyall day. Little Em'ly consentingand
allowing me to kiss herI became desperate; informing herI
recollectthat I never could love anotherand that I was prepared
to shed the blood of anybody who should aspire to her affections.

How merry little Em'ly made herself about it! With what a demure
assumption of being immensely older and wiser than Ithe fairy
little woman said I was 'a silly boy'; and then laughed so
charmingly that I forgot the pain of being called by that
disparaging namein the pleasure of looking at her.

Mr. Barkis and Peggotty were a good while in the churchbut came


out at lastand then we drove away into the country. As we were
going alongMr. Barkis turned to meand saidwith a wink- by
the byI should hardly have thoughtbeforethat he could wink:

'What name was it as I wrote up in the cart?'

'Clara Peggotty' I answered.

'What name would it be as I should write up nowif there was a
tilt here?'

'Clara Peggottyagain?' I suggested.

'Clara Peggotty BARKIS!' he returnedand burst into a roar of
laughter that shook the chaise.

In a wordthey were marriedand had gone into the church for no
other purpose. Peggotty was resolved that it should be quietly
done; and the clerk had given her awayand there had been no
witnesses of the ceremony. She was a little confused when Mr.
Barkis made this abrupt announcement of their unionand could not
hug me enough in token of her unimpaired affection; but she soon
became herself againand said she was very glad it was over.

We drove to a little inn in a by-roadwhere we were expectedand
where we had a very comfortable dinnerand passed the day with
great satisfaction. If Peggotty had been married every day for the
last ten yearsshe could hardly have been more at her ease about
it; it made no sort of difference in her: she was just the same as
everand went out for a stroll with little Em'ly and me before
teawhile Mr. Barkis philosophically smoked his pipeand enjoyed
himselfI supposewith the contemplation of his happiness. If
soit sharpened his appetite; for I distinctly call to mind that
although he had eaten a good deal of pork and greens at dinnerand
had finished off with a fowl or twohe was obliged to have cold
boiled bacon for teaand disposed of a large quantity without any
emotion.

I have often thoughtsincewhat an oddinnocentout-of-the-way
kind of wedding it must have been! We got into the chaise again
soon after darkand drove cosily backlooking up at the stars
and talking about them. I was their chief exponentand opened Mr.
Barkis's mind to an amazing extent. I told him all I knewbut he
would have believed anything I might have taken it into my head to
impart to him; for he had a profound veneration for my abilities
and informed his wife in my hearingon that very occasionthat I
was 'a young Roeshus' - by which I think he meant prodigy.

When we had exhausted the subject of the starsor rather when I
had exhausted the mental faculties of Mr. Barkislittle Em'ly and
I made a cloak of an old wrapperand sat under it for the rest of
the journey. Ahhow I loved her! What happiness (I thought) if
we were marriedand were going away anywhere to live among the
trees and in the fieldsnever growing oldernever growing wiser
children everrambling hand in hand through sunshine and among
flowery meadowslaying down our heads on moss at nightin a sweet
sleep of purity and peaceand buried by the birds when we were
dead! Some such picturewith no real world in itbright with the
light of our innocenceand vague as the stars afar offwas in my
mind all the way. I am glad to think there were two such guileless
hearts at Peggotty's marriage as little Em'ly's and mine. I am
glad to think the Loves and Graces took such airy forms in its
homely procession.


Wellwe came to the old boat again in good time at night; and
there Mr. and Mrs. Barkis bade us good-byeand drove away snugly
to their own home. I felt thenfor the first timethat I had
lost Peggotty. I should have gone to bed with a sore heart indeed
under any other roof but that which sheltered little Em'ly's head.

Mr. Peggotty and Ham knew what was in my thoughts as well as I did
and were ready with some supper and their hospitable faces to drive
it away. Little Em'ly came and sat beside me on the locker for the
only time in all that visit; and it was altogether a wonderful
close to a wonderful day.

It was a night tide; and soon after we went to bedMr. Peggotty
and Ham went out to fish. I felt very brave at being left alone in
the solitary housethe protector of Em'ly and Mrs. Gummidgeand
only wished that a lion or a serpentor any ill-disposed monster
would make an attack upon usthat I might destroy himand cover
myself with glory. But as nothing of the sort happened to be
walking about on Yarmouth flats that nightI provided the best
substitute I could by dreaming of dragons until morning.

With morning came Peggotty; who called to meas usualunder my
window as if Mr. Barkis the carrier had been from first to last a
dream too. After breakfast she took me to her own homeand a
beautiful little home it was. Of all the moveables in itI must
have been impressed by a certain old bureau of some dark wood in
the parlour (the tile-floored kitchen was the general
sitting-room)with a retreating top which openedlet downand
became a deskwithin which was a large quarto edition of Foxe's
Book of Martyrs. This precious volumeof which I do not recollect
one wordI immediately discovered and immediately applied myself
to; and I never visited the house afterwardsbut I kneeled on a
chairopened the casket where this gem was enshrinedspread my
arms over the deskand fell to devouring the book afresh. I was
chiefly edifiedI am afraidby the pictureswhich were numerous
and represented all kinds of dismal horrors; but the Martyrs and
Peggotty's house have been inseparable in my mind ever sinceand
are now.

I took leave of Mr. Peggottyand Hamand Mrs. Gummidgeand
little Em'lythat day; and passed the night at Peggotty'sin a
little room in the roof (with the Crocodile Book on a shelf by the
bed's head) which was to be always minePeggotty saidand should
always be kept for me in exactly the same state.

'Young or oldDavy dearas long as I am alive and have this house
over my head' said Peggotty'you shall find it as if I expected
you here directly minute. I shall keep it every dayas I used to
keep your old little roommy darling; and if you was to go to
Chinayou might think of it as being kept just the sameall the
time you were away.'

I felt the truth and constancy of my dear old nursewith all my
heartand thanked her as well as I could. That was not very well
for she spoke to me thuswith her arms round my neckin the
morningand I was going home in the morningand I went home in
the morningwith herself and Mr. Barkis in the cart. They left me
at the gatenot easily or lightly; and it was a strange sight to
me to see the cart go ontaking Peggotty awayand leaving me
under the old elm-trees looking at the housein which there was no
face to look on mine with love or liking any more.

And now I fell into a state of neglectwhich I cannot look back
upon without compassion. I fell at once into a solitary condition


-apart from all friendly noticeapart from the society of all
other boys of my own ageapart from all companionship but my own
spiritless thoughts- which seems to cast its gloom upon this
paper as I write.
What would I have givento have been sent to the hardest school
that ever was kept! - to have been taught somethinganyhow
anywhere! No such hope dawned upon me. They disliked me; and they
sullenlysternlysteadilyoverlooked me. I think Mr.
Murdstone's means were straitened at about this time; but it is
little to the purpose. He could not bear me; and in putting me
from him he triedas I believeto put away the notion that I had
any claim upon him - and succeeded.

I was not actively ill-used. I was not beatenor starved; but the
wrong that was done to me had no intervals of relentingand was
done in a systematicpassionless manner. Day after dayweek
after weekmonth after monthI was coldly neglected. I wonder
sometimeswhen I think of itwhat they would have done if I had
been taken with an illness; whether I should have lain down in my
lonely roomand languished through it in my usual solitary wayor
whether anybody would have helped me out.

When Mr. and Miss Murdstone were at homeI took my meals with
them; in their absenceI ate and drank by myself. At all times I
lounged about the house and neighbourhood quite disregardedexcept
that they were jealous of my making any friends: thinkingperhaps
that if I didI might complain to someone. For this reason
though Mr. Chillip often asked me to go and see him (he was a
widowerhavingsome years before thatlost a little small
light-haired wifewhom I can just remember connecting in my own
thoughts with a pale tortoise-shell cat)it was but seldom that I
enjoyed the happiness of passing an afternoon in his closet of a
surgery; reading some book that was new to mewith the smell of
the whole Pharmacopoeia coming up my noseor pounding something in
a mortar under his mild directions.

For the same reasonadded no doubt to the old dislike of herI
was seldom allowed to visit Peggotty. Faithful to her promiseshe
either came to see meor met me somewhere nearonce every week
and never empty-handed; but many and bitter were the
disappointments I hadin being refused permission to pay a visit
to her at her house. Some few timeshoweverat long intervals
I was allowed to go there; and then I found out that Mr. Barkis was
something of a miseror as Peggotty dutifully expressed itwas 'a
little near'and kept a heap of money in a box under his bed
which he pretended was only full of coats and trousers. In this
cofferhis riches hid themselves with such a tenacious modesty
that the smallest instalments could only be tempted out by
artifice; so that Peggotty had to prepare a long and elaborate
schemea very Gunpowder Plotfor every Saturday's expenses.

All this time I was so conscious of the waste of any promise I had
givenand of my being utterly neglectedthat I should have been
perfectly miserableI have no doubtbut for the old books. They
were my only comfort; and I was as true to them as they were to me
and read them over and over I don't know how many times more.

I now approach a period of my lifewhich I can never lose the
remembrance ofwhile I remember anything: and the recollection of
which has oftenwithout my invocationcome before me like a
ghostand haunted happier times.

I had been outone dayloitering somewherein the listless


meditative manner that my way of life engenderedwhenturning the
corner of a lane near our houseI came upon Mr. Murdstone walking
with a gentleman. I was confusedand was going by themwhen the
gentleman cried:

'What! Brooks!'

'NosirDavid Copperfield' I said.

'Don't tell me. You are Brooks' said the gentleman. 'You are
Brooks of Sheffield. That's your name.'

At these wordsI observed the gentleman more attentively. His
laugh coming to my remembrance tooI knew him to be Mr. Quinion
whom I had gone over to Lowestoft with Mr. Murdstone to seebefore

-it is no matter - I need not recall when.
'And how do you get onand where are you being educatedBrooks?'
said Mr. Quinion.

He had put his hand upon my shoulderand turned me aboutto walk
with them. I did not know what to replyand glanced dubiously at
Mr. Murdstone.

'He is at home at present' said the latter. 'He is not being
educated anywhere. I don't know what to do with him. He is a
difficult subject.'

That olddouble look was on me for a moment; and then his eyes
darkened with a frownas it turnedin its aversionelsewhere.

'Humph!' said Mr. Quinionlooking at us bothI thought. 'Fine
weather!'

Silence ensuedand I was considering how I could best disengage my
shoulder from his handand go awaywhen he said:

'I suppose you are a pretty sharp fellow still? EhBrooks?'

'Aye! He is sharp enough' said Mr. Murdstoneimpatiently. 'You
had better let him go. He will not thank you for troubling him.'

On this hintMr. Quinion released meand I made the best of my
way home. Looking back as I turned into the front gardenI saw
Mr. Murdstone leaning against the wicket of the churchyardand Mr.
Quinion talking to him. They were both looking after meand I
felt that they were speaking of me.

Mr. Quinion lay at our house that night. After breakfastthe next
morningI had put my chair awayand was going out of the room
when Mr. Murdstone called me back. He then gravely repaired to
another tablewhere his sister sat herself at her desk. Mr.
Quinionwith his hands in his pocketsstood looking out of
window; and I stood looking at them all.

'David' said Mr. Murdstone'to the young this is a world for
action; not for moping and droning in.'

-'As you do' added his sister.
'Jane Murdstoneleave it to meif you please. I sayDavidto
the young this is a world for actionand not for moping and
droning in. It is especially so for a young boy of your
dispositionwhich requires a great deal of correcting; and to


which no greater service can be done than to force it to conform to
the ways of the working worldand to bend it and break it.'


'For stubbornness won't do here' said his sister 'What it wants
isto be crushed. And crushed it must be. Shall betoo!'


He gave her a lookhalf in remonstrancehalf in approvaland
went on:


'I suppose you knowDavidthat I am not rich. At any rateyou
know it now. You have received some considerable education
already. Education is costly; and even if it were notand I could
afford itI am of opinion that it would not be at all advantageous
to you to be kept at school. What is before youis a fight with
the world; and the sooner you begin itthe better.'


I think it occurred to me that I had already begun itin my poor
way: but it occurs to me nowwhether or no.


'You have heard the "counting-house" mentioned sometimes' said Mr.
Murdstone.


'The counting-housesir?' I repeated.
'Of Murdstone and Grinbyin the wine trade' he replied.


I suppose I looked uncertainfor he went on hastily:


'You have heard the "counting-house" mentionedor the businessor
the cellarsor the wharfor something about it.'


'I think I have heard the business mentionedsir' I said
remembering what I vaguely knew of his and his sister's resources.
'But I don't know when.'


'It does not matter when' he returned. 'Mr. Quinion manages that
business.'


I glanced at the latter deferentially as he stood looking out of
window.


'Mr. Quinion suggests that it gives employment to some other boys
and that he sees no reason why it shouldn'ton the same terms
give employment to you.'


'He having' Mr. Quinion observed in a low voiceand half turning
round'no other prospectMurdstone.'


Mr. Murdstonewith an impatienteven an angry gestureresumed
without noticing what he had said:


'Those terms arethat you will earn enough for yourself to provide
for your eating and drinkingand pocket-money. Your lodging
(which I have arranged for) will be paid by me. So will your
washing -'


'- Which will be kept down to my estimate' said his sister.


'Your clothes will be looked after for youtoo' said Mr.
Murdstone; 'as you will not be ableyet awhileto get them for
yourself. So you are now going to LondonDavidwith Mr. Quinion
to begin the world on your own account.'


'In shortyou are provided for' observed his sister; 'and will
please to do your duty.'



Though I quite understood that the purpose of this announcement was
to get rid of meI have no distinct remembrance whether it pleased
or frightened me. My impression isthat I was in a state of
confusion about itandoscillating between the two points
touched neither. Nor had I much time for the clearing of my
thoughtsas Mr. Quinion was to go upon the morrow.

Behold meon the morrowin a much-worn little white hatwith a
black crape round it for my mothera black jacketand a pair of
hardstiff corduroy trousers - which Miss Murdstone considered the
best armour for the legs in that fight with the world which was now
to come off. behold me so attiredand with my little worldly all
before me in a small trunksittinga lone lorn child (as Mrs.
Gummidge might have said)in the post-chaise that was carrying Mr.
Quinion to the London coach at Yarmouth! Seehow our house and
church are lessening in the distance; how the grave beneath the
tree is blotted out by intervening objects; how the spire points
upwards from my old playground no moreand the sky is empty!

CHAPTER 11
I BEGIN LIFE ON MY OWN ACCOUNTAND DON'T LIKE IT

I know enough of the world nowto have almost lost the capacity of
being much surprised by anything; but it is matter of some surprise
to meeven nowthat I can have been so easily thrown away at such
an age. A child of excellent abilitiesand with strong powers of
observationquickeagerdelicateand soon hurt bodily or
mentallyit seems wonderful to me that nobody should have made any
sign in my behalf. But none was made; and I becameat ten years
olda little labouring hind in the service of Murdstone and
Grinby.

Murdstone and Grinby's warehouse was at the waterside. It was down
in Blackfriars. Modern improvements have altered the place; but it
was the last house at the bottom of a narrow streetcurving down
hill to the riverwith some stairs at the endwhere people took
boat. It was a crazy old house with a wharf of its ownabutting
on the water when the tide was inand on the mud when the tide was
outand literally overrun with rats. Its panelled rooms
discoloured with the dirt and smoke of a hundred yearsI dare say;
its decaying floors and staircase; the squeaking and scuffling of
the old grey rats down in the cellars; and the dirt and rottenness
of the place; are thingsnot of many years agoin my mindbut of
the present instant. They are all before mejust as they were in
the evil hour when I went among them for the first timewith my
trembling hand in Mr. Quinion's.

Murdstone and Grinby's trade was among a good many kinds of people
but an important branch of it was the supply of wines and spirits
to certain packet ships. I forget now where they chiefly wentbut
I think there were some among them that made voyages both to the
East and West Indies. I know that a great many empty bottles were
one of the consequences of this trafficand that certain men and
boys were employed to examine them against the lightand reject
those that were flawedand to rinse and wash them. When the empty
bottles ran shortthere were labels to be pasted on full onesor
corks to be fitted to themor seals to be put upon the corksor
finished bottles to be packed in casks. All this work was my work
and of the boys employed upon it I was one.


There were three or four of uscounting me. My working place was
established in a corner of the warehousewhere Mr. Quinion could
see mewhen he chose to stand up on the bottom rail of his stool
in the counting-houseand look at me through a window above the
desk. Hitheron the first morning of my so auspiciously beginning
life on my own accountthe oldest of the regular boys was summoned
to show me my business. His name was Mick Walkerand he wore a
ragged apron and a paper cap. He informed me that his father was
a bargemanand walkedin a black velvet head-dressin the Lord
Mayor's Show. He also informed me that our principal associate
would be another boy whom he introduced by the - to me extraordinary
name of Mealy Potatoes. I discoveredhoweverthat
this youth had not been christened by that namebut that it had
been bestowed upon him in the warehouseon account of his
complexionwhich was pale or mealy. Mealy's father was a
watermanwho had the additional distinction of being a fireman
and was engaged as such at one of the large theatres; where some
young relation of Mealy's - I think his little sister - did Imps in
the Pantomimes.

No words can express the secret agony of my soul as I sunk into
this companionship; compared these henceforth everyday associates
with those of my happier childhood - not to say with Steerforth
Traddlesand the rest of those boys; and felt my hopes of growing
up to be a learned and distinguished mancrushed in my bosom. The
deep remembrance of the sense I hadof being utterly without hope
now; of the shame I felt in my position; of the misery it was to my
young heart to believe that day by day what I had learnedand
thoughtand delighted inand raised my fancy and my emulation up
bywould pass away from melittle by littlenever to be brought
back any more; cannot be written. As often as Mick Walker went
away in the course of that forenoonI mingled my tears with the
water in which I was washing the bottles; and sobbed as if there
were a flaw in my own breastand it were in danger of bursting.

The counting-house clock was at half past twelveand there was
general preparation for going to dinnerwhen Mr. Quinion tapped at
the counting-house windowand beckoned to me to go in. I went in
and found there a stoutishmiddle-aged personin a brown surtout
and black tights and shoeswith no more hair upon his head (which
was a large oneand very shining) than there is upon an eggand
with a very extensive facewhich he turned full upon me. His
clothes were shabbybut he had an imposing shirt-collar on. He
carried a jaunty sort of a stickwith a large pair of rusty
tassels to it; and a quizzing-glass hung outside his coat- for
ornamentI afterwards foundas he very seldom looked through it
and couldn't see anything when he did.

'This' said Mr. Quinionin allusion to myself'is he.'

'This' said the strangerwith a certain condescending roll in his
voiceand a certain indescribable air of doing something genteel
which impressed me very much'is Master Copperfield. I hope I see
you wellsir?'

I said I was very welland hoped he was. I was sufficiently ill
at easeHeaven knows; but it was not in my nature to complain much
at that time of my lifeso I said I was very welland hoped he
was.

'I am' said the stranger'thank Heavenquite well. I have
received a letter from Mr. Murdstonein which he mentions that he
would desire me to receive into an apartment in the rear of my
housewhich is at present unoccupied - and isin shortto be let


as a - in short' said the strangerwith a smile and in a burst of
confidence'as a bedroom - the young beginner whom I have now the
pleasure to -' and the stranger waved his handand settled his
chin in his shirt-collar.


'This is Mr. Micawber' said Mr. Quinion to me.


'Ahem!' said the stranger'that is my name.'


'Mr. Micawber' said Mr. Quinion'is known to Mr. Murdstone. He
takes orders for us on commissionwhen he can get any. He has
been written to by Mr. Murdstoneon the subject of your lodgings
and he will receive you as a lodger.'


'My address' said Mr. Micawber'is Windsor TerraceCity Road.
I - in short' said Mr. Micawberwith the same genteel airand in
another burst of confidence - 'I live there.'


I made him a bow.


'Under the impression' said Mr. Micawber'that your
peregrinations in this metropolis have not as yet been extensive
and that you might have some difficulty in penetrating the arcana
of the Modern Babylon in the direction of the City Road- in
short' said Mr. Micawberin another burst of confidence'that
you might lose yourself - I shall be happy to call this evening
and install you in the knowledge of the nearest way.'


I thanked him with all my heartfor it was friendly in him to
offer to take that trouble.


'At what hour' said Mr. Micawber'shall I -'


'At about eight' said Mr. Quinion.


'At about eight' said Mr. Micawber. 'I beg to wish you good day
Mr. Quinion. I will intrude no longer.'


So he put on his hatand went out with his cane under his arm:
very uprightand humming a tune when he was clear of the
counting-house.


Mr. Quinion then formally engaged me to be as useful as I could in
the warehouse of Murdstone and Grinbyat a salaryI thinkof six
shillings a week. I am not clear whether it was six or seven. I
am inclined to believefrom my uncertainty on this headthat it
was six at first and seven afterwards. He paid me a week down
(from his own pocketI believe)and I gave Mealy sixpence out of
it to get my trunk carried to Windsor Terrace that night: it being
too heavy for my strengthsmall as it was. I paid sixpence more
for my dinnerwhich was a meat pie and a turn at a neighbouring
pump; and passed the hour which was allowed for that mealin
walking about the streets.


At the appointed time in the eveningMr. Micawber reappeared. I
washed my hands and faceto do the greater honour to his
gentilityand we walked to our houseas I suppose I must now call
ittogether; Mr. Micawber impressing the name of streetsand the
shapes of corner houses upon meas we went alongthat I might
find my way backeasilyin the morning.


Arrived at this house in Windsor Terrace (which I noticed was
shabby like himselfbut alsolike himselfmade all the show it
could)he presented me to Mrs. Micawbera thin and faded lady



not at all youngwho was sitting in the parlour (the first floor
was altogether unfurnishedand the blinds were kept down to delude
the neighbours)with a baby at her breast. This baby was one of
twins; and I may remark here that I hardly everin all my
experience of the familysaw both the twins detached from Mrs.
Micawber at the same time. One of them was always taking
refreshment.

There were two other children; Master Micawberaged about four
and Miss Micawberaged about three. Theseand a
dark-complexioned young womanwith a habit of snortingwho was
servant to the familyand informed mebefore half an hour had
expiredthat she was 'a Orfling'and came from St. Luke's
workhousein the neighbourhoodcompleted the establishment. My
room was at the top of the houseat the back: a close chamber;
stencilled all over with an ornament which my young imagination
represented as a blue muffin; and very scantily furnished.

'I never thought' said Mrs. Micawberwhen she came uptwin and
allto show me the apartmentand sat down to take breath'before
I was marriedwhen I lived with papa and mamathat I should ever
find it necessary to take a lodger. But Mr. Micawber being in
difficultiesall considerations of private feeling must give way.'

I said: 'Yesma'am.'

'Mr. Micawber's difficulties are almost overwhelming just at
present' said Mrs. Micawber; 'and whether it is possible to bring
him through themI don't know. When I lived at home with papa and
mamaI really should have hardly understood what the word meant
in the sense in which I now employ itbut experientia does itas
papa used to say.'

I cannot satisfy myself whether she told me that Mr. Micawber had
been an officer in the Marinesor whether I have imagined it. I
only know that I believe to this hour that he WAS in the Marines
once upon a timewithout knowing why. He was a sort of town
traveller for a number of miscellaneous housesnow; but made
little or nothing of itI am afraid.

'If Mr. Micawber's creditors will not give him time' said Mrs.
Micawber'they must take the consequences; and the sooner they
bring it to an issue the better. Blood cannot be obtained from a
stoneneither can anything on account be obtained at present (not
to mention law expenses) from Mr. Micawber.'

I never can quite understand whether my precocious self-dependence
confused Mrs. Micawber in reference to my ageor whether she was
so full of the subject that she would have talked about it to the
very twins if there had been nobody else to communicate withbut
this was the strain in which she beganand she went on accordingly
all the time I knew her.

Poor Mrs. Micawber! She said she had tried to exert herselfand
soI have no doubtshe had. The centre of the street door was
perfectly covered with a great brass-plateon which was engraved
'Mrs. Micawber's Boarding Establishment for Young Ladies': but I
never found that any young lady had ever been to school there; or
that any young lady ever cameor proposed to come; or that the
least preparation was ever made to receive any young lady. The
only visitors I ever sawor heard ofwere creditors. THEY used
to come at all hoursand some of them were quite ferocious. One
dirty-faced manI think he was a boot-makerused to edge himself
into the passage as early as seven o'clock in the morningand call


up the stairs to Mr. Micawber - 'Come! You ain't out yetyou
know. Pay uswill you? Don't hideyou know; that's mean. I
wouldn't be mean if I was you. Pay uswill you? You just pay us
d'ye hear? Come!' Receiving no answer to these tauntshe would
mount in his wrath to the words 'swindlers' and 'robbers'; and
these being ineffectual toowould sometimes go to the extremity of
crossing the streetand roaring up at the windows of the second
floorwhere he knew Mr. Micawber was. At these timesMr.
Micawber would be transported with grief and mortificationeven to
the length (as I was once made aware by a scream from his wife) of
making motions at himself with a razor; but within half-an-hour
afterwardshe would polish up his shoes with extraordinary pains
and go outhumming a tune with a greater air of gentility than
ever. Mrs. Micawber was quite as elastic. I have known her to be
thrown into fainting fits by the king's taxes at three o'clockand
to eat lamb chopsbreadedand drink warm ale (paid for with two
tea-spoons that had gone to the pawnbroker's) at four. On one
occasionwhen an execution had just been put incoming home
through some chance as early as six o'clockI saw her lying (of
course with a twin) under the grate in a swoonwith her hair all
torn about her face; but I never knew her more cheerful than she
wasthat very same nightover a veal cutlet before the kitchen
firetelling me stories about her papa and mamaand the company
they used to keep.

In this houseand with this familyI passed my leisure time. My
own exclusive breakfast of a penny loaf and a pennyworth of milk
I provided myself. I kept another small loafand a modicum of
cheeseon a particular shelf of a particular cupboardto make my
supper on when I came back at night. This made a hole in the six
or seven shillingsI know well; and I was out at the warehouse all
dayand had to support myself on that money all the week. From
Monday morning until Saturday nightI had no adviceno counsel
no encouragementno consolationno assistanceno supportof any
kindfrom anyonethat I can call to mindas I hope to go to
heaven!

I was so young and childishand so little qualified - how could I
be otherwise? - to undertake the whole charge of my own existence
that oftenin going to Murdstone and Grinby'sof a morningI
could not resist the stale pastry put out for sale at half-price at
the pastrycooks' doorsand spent in that the money I should have
kept for my dinner. ThenI went without my dinneror bought a
roll or a slice of pudding. I remember two pudding shopsbetween
which I was dividedaccording to my finances. One was in a court
close to St. Martin's Church - at the back of the church- which
is now removed altogether. The pudding at that shop was made of
currantsand was rather a special puddingbut was dear
twopennyworth not being larger than a pennyworth of more ordinary
pudding. A good shop for the latter was in the Strand - somewhere
in that part which has been rebuilt since. It was a stout pale
puddingheavy and flabbyand with great flat raisins in itstuck
in whole at wide distances apart. It came up hot at about my time
every dayand many a day did I dine off it. When I dined
regularly and handsomelyI had a saveloy and a penny loafor a
fourpenny plate of red beef from a cook's shop; or a plate of bread
and cheese and a glass of beerfrom a miserable old public-house
opposite our place of businesscalled the Lionor the Lion and
something else that I have forgotten. OnceI remember carrying my
own bread (which I had brought from home in the morning) under my
armwrapped in a piece of paperlike a bookand going to a
famous alamode beef-house near Drury Laneand ordering a 'small
plate' of that delicacy to eat with it. What the waiter thought of
such a strange little apparition coming in all aloneI don't know;


but I can see him nowstaring at me as I ate my dinnerand
bringing up the other waiter to look. I gave him a halfpenny for
himselfand I wish he hadn't taken it.


We had half-an-hourI thinkfor tea. When I had money enoughI
used to get half-a-pint of ready-made coffee and a slice of bread
and butter. When I had noneI used to look at a venison shop in
Fleet Street; or I have strolledat such a timeas far as Covent
Garden Marketand stared at the pineapples. I was fond of
wandering about the Adelphibecause it was a mysterious place
with those dark arches. I see myself emerging one evening from
some of these archeson a little public-house close to the river
with an open space before itwhere some coal-heavers were dancing;
to look at whom I sat down upon a bench. I wonder what they
thought of me!


I was such a childand so littlethat frequently when I went into
the bar of a strange public-house for a glass of ale or porterto
moisten what I had had for dinnerthey were afraid to give it me.
I remember one hot evening I went into the bar of a public-house
and said to the landlord:
'What is your best - your very best - ale a glass?' For it was a
special occasion. I don't know what. It may have been my
birthday.


'Twopence-halfpenny' says the landlord'is the price of the
Genuine Stunning ale.'


'Then' says Iproducing the money'just draw me a glass of the
Genuine Stunningif you pleasewith a good head to it.'


The landlord looked at me in return over the barfrom head to
footwith a strange smile on his face; and instead of drawing the
beerlooked round the screen and said something to his wife. She
came out from behind itwith her work in her handand joined him
in surveying me. Here we standall threebefore me now. The
landlord in his shirt-sleevesleaning against the bar
window-frame; his wife looking over the little half-door; and Iin
some confusionlooking up at them from outside the partition.
They asked me a good many questions; aswhat my name washow old
I waswhere I livedhow I was employedand how I came there. To
all of whichthat I might commit nobodyI inventedI am afraid
appropriate answers. They served me with the alethough I suspect
it was not the Genuine Stunning; and the landlord's wifeopening
the little half-door of the barand bending downgave me my money
backand gave me a kiss that was half admiring and half
compassionatebut all womanly and goodI am sure.


I know I do not exaggerateunconsciously and unintentionallythe
scantiness of my resources or the difficulties of my life. I know
that if a shilling were given me by Mr. Quinion at any timeI
spent it in a dinner or a tea. I know that I workedfrom morning
until nightwith common men and boysa shabby child. I know that
I lounged about the streetsinsufficiently and unsatisfactorily
fed. I know thatbut for the mercy of GodI might easily have
beenfor any care that was taken of mea little robber or a
little vagabond.


Yet I held some station at Murdstone and Grinby's too. Besides
that Mr. Quinion did what a careless man so occupiedand dealing
with a thing so anomalouscouldto treat me as one upon a
different footing from the restI never saidto man or boyhow
it was that I came to be thereor gave the least indication of
being sorry that I was there. That I suffered in secretand that



I suffered exquisitelyno one ever knew but I. How much I
sufferedit isas I have said alreadyutterly beyond my power to
tell. But I kept my own counseland I did my work. I knew from
the firstthatif I could not do my work as well as any of the
restI could not hold myself above slight and contempt. I soon
became at least as expeditious and as skilful as either of the
other boys. Though perfectly familiar with themmy conduct and
manner were different enough from theirs to place a space between
us. They and the men generally spoke of me as 'the little gent'
or 'the young Suffolker.' A certain man named Gregorywho was
foreman of the packersand another named Tippwho was the carman
and wore a red jacketused to address me sometimes as 'David': but
I think it was mostly when we were very confidentialand when I
had made some efforts to entertain themover our workwith some
results of the old readings; which were fast perishing out of my
remembrance. Mealy Potatoes uprose onceand rebelled against my
being so distinguished; but Mick Walker settled him in no time.

My rescue from this kind of existence I considered quite hopeless
and abandonedas suchaltogether. I am solemnly convinced that
I never for one hour was reconciled to itor was otherwise than
miserably unhappy; but I bore it; and even to Peggottypartly for
the love of her and partly for shamenever in any letter (though
many passed between us) revealed the truth.

Mr. Micawber's difficulties were an addition to the distressed
state of my mind. In my forlorn state I became quite attached to
the familyand used to walk aboutbusy with Mrs. Micawber's
calculations of ways and meansand heavy with the weight of Mr.
Micawber's debts. On a Saturday nightwhich was my grand treat

-partly because it was a great thing to walk home with six or
seven shillings in my pocketlooking into the shops and thinking
what such a sum would buyand partly because I went home early-
Mrs. Micawber would make the most heart-rending confidences to me;
also on a Sunday morningwhen I mixed the portion of tea or coffee
I had bought over-nightin a little shaving-potand sat late at
my breakfast. It was nothing at all unusual for Mr. Micawber to
sob violently at the beginning of one of these Saturday night
conversationsand sing about jack's delight being his lovely Nan
towards the end of it. I have known him come home to supper with
a flood of tearsand a declaration that nothing was now left but
a jail; and go to bed making a calculation of the expense of
putting bow-windows to the house'in case anything turned up'
which was his favourite expression. And Mrs. Micawber was just the
same.
A curious equality of friendshiporiginatingI supposein our
respective circumstancessprung up between me and these people
notwithstanding the ludicrous disparity in our years. But I never
allowed myself to be prevailed upon to accept any invitation to eat
and drink with them out of their stock (knowing that they got on
badly with the butcher and bakerand had often not too much for
themselves)until Mrs. Micawber took me into her entire
confidence. This she did one evening as follows:

'Master Copperfield' said Mrs. Micawber'I make no stranger of
youand therefore do not hesitate to say that Mr. Micawber's
difficulties are coming to a crisis.'

It made me very miserable to hear itand I looked at Mrs.
Micawber's red eyes with the utmost sympathy.

'With the exception of the heel of a Dutch cheese - which is not
adapted to the wants of a young family' - said Mrs. Micawber


'there is really not a scrap of anything in the larder. I was
accustomed to speak of the larder when I lived with papa and mama
and I use the word almost unconsciously. What I mean to express
isthat there is nothing to eat in the house.'

'Dear me!' I saidin great concern.

I had two or three shillings of my week's money in my pocket - from
which I presume that it must have been on a Wednesday night when we
held this conversation - and I hastily produced themand with
heartfelt emotion begged Mrs. Micawber to accept of them as a loan.
But that ladykissing meand making me put them back in my
pocketreplied that she couldn't think of it.

'Nomy dear Master Copperfield' said she'far be it from my
thoughts! But you have a discretion beyond your yearsand can
render me another kind of serviceif you will; and a service I
will thankfully accept of.'

I begged Mrs. Micawber to name it.

'I have parted with the plate myself' said Mrs. Micawber. 'Six
teatwo saltand a pair of sugarsI have at different times
borrowed money onin secretwith my own hands. But the twins are
a great tie; and to mewith my recollectionsof papa and mama
these transactions are very painful. There are still a few trifles
that we could part with. Mr. Micawber's feelings would never allow
him to dispose of them; and Clickett' - this was the girl from the
workhouse - 'being of a vulgar mindwould take painful liberties
if so much confidence was reposed in her. Master Copperfieldif
I might ask you -'

I understood Mrs. Micawber nowand begged her to make use of me to
any extent. I began to dispose of the more portable articles of
property that very evening; and went out on a similar expedition
almost every morningbefore I went to Murdstone and Grinby's.

Mr. Micawber had a few books on a little chiffonierwhich he
called the library; and those went first. I carried themone
after anotherto a bookstall in the City Road - one part of which
near our housewas almost all bookstalls and bird shops then - and
sold them for whatever they would bring. The keeper of this
bookstallwho lived in a little house behind itused to get tipsy
every nightand to be violently scolded by his wife every morning.
More than oncewhen I went there earlyI had audience of him in
a turn-up bedsteadwith a cut in his forehead or a black eye
bearing witness to his excesses over-night (I am afraid he was
quarrelsome in his drink)and hewith a shaking hand
endeavouring to find the needful shillings in one or other of the
pockets of his clotheswhich lay upon the floorwhile his wife
with a baby in her arms and her shoes down at heelnever left off
rating him. Sometimes he had lost his moneyand then he would ask
me to call again; but his wife had always got some - had taken his
I dare saywhile he was drunk - and secretly completed the bargain
on the stairsas we went down together.
At the pawnbroker's shoptooI began to be very well known. The
principal gentleman who officiated behind the countertook a good
deal of notice of me; and often got meI recollectto decline a
Latin noun or adjectiveor to conjugate a Latin verbin his ear
while he transacted my business. After all these occasions Mrs.
Micawber made a little treatwhich was generally a supper; and
there was a peculiar relish in these meals which I well remember.

At last Mr. Micawber's difficulties came to a crisisand he was


arrested early one morningand carried over to the King's Bench
Prison in the Borough. He told meas he went out of the house
that the God of day had now gone down upon him - and I really
thought his heart was broken and mine too. But I heard
afterwardsthat he was seen to play a lively game at skittles
before noon.

On the first Sunday after he was taken thereI was to go and see
himand have dinner with him. I was to ask my way to such a
placeand just short of that place I should see such another
placeand just short of that I should see a yardwhich I was to
crossand keep straight on until I saw a turnkey. All this I did;
and when at last I did see a turnkey (poor little fellow that I
was!)and thought howwhen Roderick Random was in a debtors'
prisonthere was a man there with nothing on him but an old rug
the turnkey swam before my dimmed eyes and my beating heart.

Mr. Micawber was waiting for me within the gateand we went up to
his room (top story but one)and cried very much. He solemnly
conjured meI rememberto take warning by his fate; and to
observe that if a man had twenty pounds a-year for his incomeand
spent nineteen pounds nineteen shillings and sixpencehe would be
happybut that if he spent twenty pounds one he would be
miserable. After which he borrowed a shilling of me for porter
gave me a written order on Mrs. Micawber for the amountand put
away his pocket-handkerchiefand cheered up.

We sat before a little firewith two bricks put within the rusted
grateone on each sideto prevent its burning too many coals;
until another debtorwho shared the room with Mr. Micawbercame
in from the bakehouse with the loin of mutton which was our
joint-stock repast. Then I was sent up to 'Captain Hopkins' in the
room overheadwith Mr. Micawber's complimentsand I was his young
friendand would Captain Hopkins lend me a knife and fork.

Captain Hopkins lent me the knife and forkwith his compliments to
Mr. Micawber. There was a very dirty lady in his little roomand
two wan girlshis daughterswith shock heads of hair. I thought
it was better to borrow Captain Hopkins's knife and forkthan
Captain Hopkins's comb. The Captain himself was in the last
extremity of shabbinesswith large whiskersand an oldold brown
great-coat with no other coat below it. I saw his bed rolled up in
a corner; and what plates and dishes and pots he hadon a shelf;
and I divined (God knows how) that though the two girls with the
shock heads of hair were Captain Hopkins's childrenthe dirty lady
was not married to Captain Hopkins. My timid station on his
threshold was not occupied more than a couple of minutes at most;
but I came down again with all this in my knowledgeas surely as
the knife and fork were in my hand.

There was something gipsy-like and agreeable in the dinnerafter
all. I took back Captain Hopkins's knife and fork early in the
afternoonand went home to comfort Mrs. Micawber with an account
of my visit. She fainted when she saw me returnand made a little
jug of egg-hot afterwards to console us while we talked it over.

I don't know how the household furniture came to be sold for the
family benefitor who sold itexcept that I did not. Sold it
washoweverand carried away in a van; except the beda few
chairsand the kitchen table. With these possessions we encamped
as it werein the two parlours of the emptied house in Windsor
Terrace; Mrs. Micawberthe childrenthe Orflingand myself; and
lived in those rooms night and day. I have no idea for how long
though it seems to me for a long time. At last Mrs. Micawber


resolved to move into the prisonwhere Mr. Micawber had now
secured a room to himself. So I took the key of the house to the
landlordwho was very glad to get it; and the beds were sent over
to the King's Benchexcept minefor which a little room was hired
outside the walls in the neighbourhood of that Institutionvery
much to my satisfactionsince the Micawbers and I had become too
used to one anotherin our troublesto part. The Orfling was
likewise accommodated with an inexpensive lodging in the same
neighbourhood. Mine was a quiet back-garret with a sloping roof
commanding a pleasant prospect of a timberyard; and when I took
possession of itwith the reflection that Mr. Micawber's troubles
had come to a crisis at lastI thought it quite a paradise.

All this time I was working at Murdstone and Grinby's in the same
common wayand with the same common companionsand with the same
sense of unmerited degradation as at first. But I neverhappily
for me no doubtmade a single acquaintanceor spoke to any of the
many boys whom I saw daily in going to the warehousein coming
from itand in prowling about the streets at meal-times. I led
the same secretly unhappy life; but I led it in the same lonely
self-reliant manner. The only changes I am conscious of are
firstlythat I had grown more shabbyand secondlythat I was now
relieved of much of the weight of Mr. and Mrs. Micawber's cares;
for some relatives or friends had engaged to help them at their
present passand they lived more comfortably in the prison than
they had lived for a long while out of it. I used to breakfast
with them nowin virtue of some arrangementof which I have
forgotten the details. I forgettooat what hour the gates were
opened in the morningadmitting of my going in; but I know that I
was often up at six o'clockand that my favourite lounging-place
in the interval was old London Bridgewhere I was wont to sit in
one of the stone recesseswatching the people going byor to look
over the balustrades at the sun shining in the waterand lighting
up the golden flame on the top of the Monument. The Orfling met me
here sometimesto be told some astonishing fictions respecting the
wharves and the Tower; of which I can say no more than that I hope
I believed them myself. In the evening I used to go back to the
prisonand walk up and down the parade with Mr. Micawber; or play
casino with Mrs. Micawberand hear reminiscences of her papa and
mama. Whether Mr. Murdstone knew where I wasI am unable to say.
I never told them at Murdstone and Grinby's.

Mr. Micawber's affairsalthough past their crisiswere very much
involved by reason of a certain 'Deed'of which I used to hear a
great dealand which I supposenowto have been some former
composition with his creditorsthough I was so far from being
clear about it thenthat I am conscious of having confounded it
with those demoniacal parchments which are held to haveonce upon
a timeobtained to a great extent in Germany. At last this
document appeared to be got out of the waysomehow; at all events
it ceased to be the rock-ahead it had been; and Mrs. Micawber
informed me that 'her family' had decided that Mr. Micawber should
apply for his release under the Insolvent Debtors Actwhich would
set him freeshe expectedin about six weeks.

'And then' said Mr. Micawberwho was present'I have no doubt I
shallplease Heavenbegin to be beforehand with the worldand to
live in a perfectly new mannerif - in shortif anything turns
up.'

By way of going in for anything that might be on the cardsI call
to mind that Mr. Micawberabout this timecomposed a petition to
the House of Commonspraying for an alteration in the law of
imprisonment for debt. I set down this remembrance herebecause


it is an instance to myself of the manner in which I fitted my old
books to my altered lifeand made stories for myselfout of the
streetsand out of men and women; and how some main points in the
character I shall unconsciously developI supposein writing my
lifewere gradually forming all this while.


There was a club in the prisonin which Mr. Micawberas a
gentlemanwas a great authority. Mr. Micawber had stated his idea
of this petition to the cluband the club had strongly approved of
the same. Wherefore Mr. Micawber (who was a thoroughly
good-natured manand as active a creature about everything but his
own affairs as ever existedand never so happy as when he was busy
about something that could never be of any profit to him) set to
work at the petitioninvented itengrossed it on an immense sheet
of paperspread it out on a tableand appointed a time for all
the cluband all within the walls if they choseto come up to his
room and sign it.


When I heard of this approaching ceremonyI was so anxious to see
them all come inone after anotherthough I knew the greater part
of them alreadyand they methat I got an hour's leave of absence
from Murdstone and Grinby'sand established myself in a corner for
that purpose. As many of the principal members of the club as
could be got into the small room without filling itsupported Mr.
Micawber in front of the petitionwhile my old friend Captain
Hopkins (who had washed himselfto do honour to so solemn an
occasion) stationed himself close to itto read it to all who were
unacquainted with its contents. The door was then thrown openand
the general population began to come inin a long file: several
waiting outsidewhile one enteredaffixed his signatureand went
out. To everybody in successionCaptain Hopkins said: 'Have you
read it?' - 'No.' - 'Would you like to hear it read?' If he
weakly showed the least disposition to hear itCaptain Hopkinsin
a loud sonorous voicegave him every word of it. The Captain
would have read it twenty thousand timesif twenty thousand people
would have heard himone by one. I remember a certain luscious
roll he gave to such phrases as 'The people's representatives in
Parliament assembled' 'Your petitioners therefore humbly approach
your honourable house' 'His gracious Majesty's unfortunate
subjects' as if the words were something real in his mouthand
delicious to taste; Mr. Micawbermeanwhilelistening with a
little of an author's vanityand contemplating (not severely) the
spikes on the opposite wall.


As I walked to and fro daily between Southwark and Blackfriarsand
lounged about at meal-times in obscure streetsthe stones of which
mayfor anything I knowbe worn at this moment by my childish
feetI wonder how many of these people were wanting in the crowd
that used to come filing before me in review againto the echo of
Captain Hopkins's voice! When my thoughts go backnowto that
slow agony of my youthI wonder how much of the histories I
invented for such people hangs like a mist of fancy over
well-remembered facts! When I tread the old groundI do not
wonder that I seem to see and pitygoing on before mean innocent
romantic boymaking his imaginative world out of such strange
experiences and sordid things!


CHAPTER 12
LIKING LIFE ON MY OWN ACCOUNT NO BETTER


I FORM A GREAT RESOLUTION


In due timeMr. Micawber's petition was ripe for hearing; and that
gentleman was ordered to be discharged under the Actto my great
joy. His creditors were not implacable; and Mrs. Micawber informed
me that even the revengeful boot-maker had declared in open court
that he bore him no malicebut that when money was owing to him he
liked to be paid. He said he thought it was human nature.

M r Micawber returned to the King's Bench when his case was over
as some fees were to be settledand some formalities observed
before he could be actually released. The club received him with
transportand held an harmonic meeting that evening in his honour;
while Mrs. Micawber and I had a lamb's fry in privatesurrounded
by the sleeping family.

'On such an occasion I will give youMaster Copperfield' said
Mrs. Micawber'in a little more flip' for we had been having some
already'the memory of my papa and mama.'

'Are they deadma'am?' I inquiredafter drinking the toast in a
wine-glass.

'My mama departed this life' said Mrs. Micawber'before Mr.
Micawber's difficulties commencedor at least before they became
pressing. My papa lived to bail Mr. Micawber several timesand
then expiredregretted by a numerous circle.'

Mrs. Micawber shook her headand dropped a pious tear upon the
twin who happened to be in hand.

As I could hardly hope for a more favourable opportunity of putting
a question in which I had a near interestI said to Mrs. Micawber:

'May I askma'amwhat you and Mr. Micawber intend to donow that
Mr. Micawber is out of his difficultiesand at liberty? Have you
settled yet?'

'My family' said Mrs. Micawberwho always said those two words
with an airthough I never could discover who came under the
denomination'my family are of opinion that Mr. Micawber should
quit Londonand exert his talents in the country. Mr. Micawber is
a man of great talentMaster Copperfield.'

I said I was sure of that.

'Of great talent' repeated Mrs. Micawber. 'My family are of
opinionthatwith a little interestsomething might be done for
a man of his ability in the Custom House. The influence of my
family being localit is their wish that Mr. Micawber should go
down to Plymouth. They think it indispensable that he should be
upon the spot.'

'That he may be ready?' I suggested.

'Exactly' returned Mrs. Micawber. 'That he may be ready - in case
of anything turning up.'

'And do you go tooma'am?'

The events of the dayin combination with the twinsif not with
the fliphad made Mrs. Micawber hystericaland she shed tears as
she replied:

'I never will desert Mr. Micawber. Mr. Micawber may have concealed
his difficulties from me in the first instancebut his sanguine


temper may have led him to expect that he would overcome them. The
pearl necklace and bracelets which I inherited from mamahave been
disposed of for less than half their value; and the set of coral
which was the wedding gift of my papahas been actually thrown
away for nothing. But I never will desert Mr. Micawber. No!'
cried Mrs. Micawbermore affected than before'I never will do
it! It's of no use asking me!'

I felt quite uncomfortable - as if Mrs. Micawber supposed I had
asked her to do anything of the sort! - and sat looking at her in
alarm.

'Mr. Micawber has his faults. I do not deny that he is
improvident. I do not deny that he has kept me in the dark as to
his resources and his liabilities both' she went onlooking at
the wall; 'but I never will desert Mr. Micawber!'

Mrs. Micawber having now raised her voice into a perfect screamI
was so frightened that I ran off to the club-roomand disturbed
Mr. Micawber in the act of presiding at a long tableand leading
the chorus of

Gee upDobbin
Gee hoDobbin
Gee upDobbin
Gee upand gee ho - o - o!


with the tidings that Mrs. Micawber was in an alarming stateupon
which he immediately burst into tearsand came away with me with
his waistcoat full of the heads and tails of shrimpsof which he
had been partaking.

'Emmamy angel!' cried Mr. Micawberrunning into the room; 'what
is the matter?'

'I never will desert youMicawber!' she exclaimed.

'My life!' said Mr. Micawbertaking her in his arms. 'I am
perfectly aware of it.'

'He is the parent of my children! He is the father of my twins!
He is the husband of my affections' cried Mrs. Micawber
struggling; 'and I ne - ver - will - desert Mr. Micawber!'

Mr. Micawber was so deeply affected by this proof of her devotion
(as to meI was dissolved in tears)that he hung over her in a
passionate mannerimploring her to look upand to be calm. But
the more he asked Mrs. Micawber to look upthe more she fixed her
eyes on nothing; and the more he asked her to compose herselfthe
more she wouldn't. Consequently Mr. Micawber was soon so overcome
that he mingled his tears with hers and mine; until he begged me to
do him the favour of taking a chair on the staircasewhile he got
her into bed. I would have taken my leave for the nightbut he
would not hear of my doing that until the strangers' bell should
ring. So I sat at the staircase windowuntil he came out with
another chair and joined me.

'How is Mrs. Micawber nowsir?' I said.

'Very low' said Mr. Micawbershaking his head; 'reaction. Ah
this has been a dreadful day! We stand alone now - everything is
gone from us!'

Mr. Micawber pressed my handand groanedand afterwards shed


tears. I was greatly touchedand disappointed toofor I had
expected that we should be quite gay on this happy and
long-looked-for occasion. But Mr. and Mrs. Micawber were so used
to their old difficultiesI thinkthat they felt quite
shipwrecked when they came to consider that they were released from
them. All their elasticity was departedand I never saw them half
so wretched as on this night; insomuch that when the bell rangand
Mr. Micawber walked with me to the lodgeand parted from me there
with a blessingI felt quite afraid to leave him by himselfhe
was so profoundly miserable.

But through all the confusion and lowness of spirits in which we
had beenso unexpectedly to meinvolvedI plainly discerned that
Mr. and Mrs. Micawber and their family were going away from London
and that a parting between us was near at hand. It was in my walk
home that nightand in the sleepless hours which followed when I
lay in bedthat the thought first occurred to me - though I don't
know how it came into my head - which afterwards shaped itself into
a settled resolution.

I had grown to be so accustomed to the Micawbersand had been so
intimate with them in their distressesand was so utterly
friendless without themthat the prospect of being thrown upon
some new shift for a lodgingand going once more among unknown
peoplewas like being that moment turned adrift into my present
lifewith such a knowledge of it ready made as experience had
given me. All the sensitive feelings it wounded so cruellyall
the shame and misery it kept alive within my breastbecame more
poignant as I thought of this; and I determined that the life was
unendurable.

That there was no hope of escape from itunless the escape was my
own actI knew quite well. I rarely heard from Miss Murdstone
and never from Mr. Murdstone: but two or three parcels of made or
mended clothes had come up for meconsigned to Mr. Quinionand in
each there was a scrap of paper to the effect that J. M. trusted D.

C. was applying himself to businessand devoting himself wholly to
his duties - not the least hint of my ever being anything else than
the common drudge into which I was fast settling down.
The very next day showed mewhile my mind was in the first
agitation of what it had conceivedthat Mrs. Micawber had not
spoken of their going away without warrant. They took a lodging in
the house where I livedfor a week; at the expiration of which
time they were to start for Plymouth. Mr. Micawber himself came
down to the counting-housein the afternoonto tell Mr. Quinion
that he must relinquish me on the day of his departureand to give
me a high characterwhich I am sure I deserved. And Mr. Quinion
calling in Tipp the carmanwho was a married manand had a room
to letquartered me prospectively on him - by our mutual consent
as he had every reason to think; for I said nothingthough my
resolution was now taken.

I passed my evenings with Mr. and Mrs. Micawberduring the
remaining term of our residence under the same roof; and I think we
became fonder of one another as the time went on. On the last
Sundaythey invited me to dinner; and we had a loin of pork and
apple sauceand a pudding. I had bought a spotted wooden horse
over-night as a parting gift to little Wilkins Micawber - that was
the boy - and a doll for little Emma. I had also bestowed a
shilling on the Orflingwho was about to be disbanded.

We had a very pleasant daythough we were all in a tender state
about our approaching separation.


'I shall neverMaster Copperfield' said Mrs. Micawber'revert to
the period when Mr. Micawber was in difficultieswithout thinking
of you. Your conduct has always been of the most delicate and
obliging description. You have never been a lodger. You have been
a friend.'

'My dear' said Mr. Micawber; 'Copperfield' for so he had been
accustomed to call meof late'has a heart to feel for the
distresses of his fellow-creatures when they are behind a cloud
and a head to planand a hand to - in shorta general ability to
dispose of such available property as could be made away with.'

I expressed my sense of this commendationand said I was very
sorry we were going to lose one another.

'My dear young friend' said Mr. Micawber'I am older than you; a
man of some experience in lifeand - and of some experiencein
shortin difficultiesgenerally speaking. At presentand until
something turns up (which I amI may sayhourly expecting)I
have nothing to bestow but advice. Still my advice is so far worth
takingthat - in shortthat I have never taken it myselfand am
the' - here Mr. Micawberwho had been beaming and smilingall
over his head and faceup to the present momentchecked himself
and frowned - 'the miserable wretch you behold.'

'My dear Micawber!' urged his wife.

'I say' returned Mr. Micawberquite forgetting himselfand
smiling again'the miserable wretch you behold. My advice is
never do tomorrow what you can do today. Procrastination is the
thief of time. Collar him!'

'My poor papa's maxim' Mrs. Micawber observed.

'My dear' said Mr. Micawber'your papa was very well in his way
and Heaven forbid that I should disparage him. Take him for all in
allwe ne'er shall - in shortmake the acquaintanceprobablyof
anybody else possessingat his time of lifethe same legs for
gaitersand able to read the same description of printwithout
spectacles. But he applied that maxim to our marriagemy dear;
and that was so far prematurely entered intoin consequencethat
I never recovered the expense.' Mr. Micawber looked aside at Mrs.
Micawberand added: 'Not that I am sorry for it. Quite the
contrarymy love.' After whichhe was grave for a minute or so.

'My other piece of adviceCopperfield' said Mr. Micawber'you
know. Annual income twenty poundsannual expenditure nineteen
nineteen and sixresult happiness. Annual income twenty pounds
annual expenditure twenty pounds ought and sixresult misery. The
blossom is blightedthe leaf is witheredthe god of day goes down
upon the dreary sceneand - and in short you are for ever floored.
As I am!'

To make his example the more impressiveMr. Micawber drank a glass
of punch with an air of great enjoyment and satisfactionand
whistled the College Hornpipe.

I did not fail to assure him that I would store these precepts in
my mindthough indeed I had no need to do soforat the time
they affected me visibly. Next morning I met the whole family at
the coach officeand saw themwith a desolate hearttake their
places outsideat the back.


'Master Copperfield' said Mrs. Micawber'God bless you! I never
can forget all thatyou knowand I never would if I could.'

'Copperfield' said Mr. Micawber'farewell! Every happiness and
prosperity! Ifin the progress of revolving yearsI could
persuade myself that my blighted destiny had been a warning to you
I should feel that I had not occupied another man's place in
existence altogether in vain. In case of anything turning up (of
which I am rather confident)I shall be extremely happy if it
should be in my power to improve your prospects.'

I thinkas Mrs. Micawber sat at the back of the coachwith the
childrenand I stood in the road looking wistfully at thema mist
cleared from her eyesand she saw what a little creature I really
was. I think sobecause she beckoned to me to climb upwith
quite a new and motherly expression in her faceand put her arm
round my neckand gave me just such a kiss as she might have given
to her own boy. I had barely time to get down again before the
coach startedand I could hardly see the family for the
handkerchiefs they waved. It was gone in a minute. The Orfling
and I stood looking vacantly at each other in the middle of the
roadand then shook hands and said good-bye; she going backI
supposeto St. Luke's workhouseas I went to begin my weary day
at Murdstone and Grinby's.

But with no intention of passing many more weary days there. No.
I had resolved to run away. - To goby some means or otherdown
into the countryto the only relation I had in the worldand tell
my story to my auntMiss Betsey.
I have already observed that I don't know how this desperate idea
came into my brain. Butonce thereit remained there; and
hardened into a purpose than which I have never entertained a more
determined purpose in my life. I am far from sure that I believed
there was anything hopeful in itbut my mind was thoroughly made
up that it must be carried into execution.

Againand againand a hundred times againsince the night when
the thought had first occurred to me and banished sleepI had gone
over that old story of my poor mother's about my birthwhich it
had been one of my great delights in the old time to hear her tell
and which I knew by heart. My aunt walked into that storyand
walked out of ita dread and awful personage; but there was one
little trait in her behaviour which I liked to dwell onand which
gave me some faint shadow of encouragement. I could not forget how
my mother had thought that she felt her touch her pretty hair with
no ungentle hand; and though it might have been altogether my
mother's fancyand might have had no foundation whatever in fact
I made a little pictureout of itof my terrible aunt relenting
towards the girlish beauty that I recollected so well and loved so
muchwhich softened the whole narrative. It is very possible that
it had been in my mind a long timeand had gradually engendered my
determination.

As I did not even know where Miss Betsey livedI wrote a long
letter to Peggottyand asked herincidentallyif she remembered;
pretending that I had heard of such a lady living at a certain
place I named at randomand had a curiosity to know if it were the
same. In the course of that letterI told Peggotty that I had a
particular occasion for half a guinea; and that if she could lend
me that sum until I could repay itI should be very much obliged
to herand would tell her afterwards what I had wanted it for.

Peggotty's answer soon arrivedand wasas usualfull of
affectionate devotion. She enclosed the half guinea (I was afraid


she must have had a world of trouble to get it out of Mr. Barkis's
box)and told me that Miss Betsey lived near Doverbut whether at
Dover itselfat HytheSandgateor Folkestoneshe could not say.
One of our menhoweverinforming me on my asking him about these
placesthat they were all close togetherI deemed this enough for
my objectand resolved to set out at the end of that week.

Being a very honest little creatureand unwilling to disgrace the
memory I was going to leave behind me at Murdstone and Grinby'sI
considered myself bound to remain until Saturday night; andas I
had been paid a week's wages in advance when I first came there
not to present myself in the counting-house at the usual hourto
receive my stipend. For this express reasonI had borrowed the
half-guineathat I might not be without a fund for my
travelling-expenses. Accordinglywhen the Saturday night came
and we were all waiting in the warehouse to be paidand Tipp the
carmanwho always took precedencewent in first to draw his
moneyI shook Mick Walker by the hand; asked himwhen it came to
his turn to be paidto say to Mr. Quinion that I had gone to move
my box to Tipp's; andbidding a last good night to Mealy Potatoes
ran away.

My box was at my old lodgingover the waterand I had written a
direction for it on the back of one of our address cards that we
nailed on the casks: 'Master Davidto be left till called forat
the Coach OfficeDover.' This I had in my pocket ready to put on
the boxafter I should have got it out of the house; and as I went
towards my lodgingI looked about me for someone who would help me
to carry it to the booking-office.

There was a long-legged young man with a very little empty
donkey-cartstanding near the Obeliskin the Blackfriars Road
whose eye I caught as I was going byand whoaddressing me as
'Sixpenn'orth of bad ha'pence' hoped 'I should know him agin to
swear to' - in allusionI have no doubtto my staring at him. I
stopped to assure him that I had not done so in bad mannersbut
uncertain whether he might or might not like a job.

'Wot job?' said the long-legged young man.

'To move a box' I answered.

'Wot box?' said the long-legged young man.

I told him minewhich was down that street thereand which I
wanted him to take to the Dover coach office for sixpence.

'Done with you for a tanner!' said the long-legged young manand
directly got upon his cartwhich was nothing but a large wooden
tray on wheelsand rattled away at such a ratethat it was as
much as I could do to keep pace with the donkey.

There was a defiant manner about this young manand particularly
about the way in which he chewed straw as he spoke to methat I
did not much like; as the bargain was madehoweverI took him
upstairs to the room I was leavingand we brought the box down
and put it on his cart. NowI was unwilling to put the
direction-card on therelest any of my landlord's family should
fathom what I was doingand detain me; so I said to the young man
that I would be glad if he would stop for a minutewhen he came to
the dead-wall of the King's Bench prison. The words were no sooner
out of my mouththan he rattled away as if hemy boxthe cart
and the donkeywere all equally mad; and I was quite out of breath
with running and calling after himwhen I caught him at the place


appointed.

Being much flushed and excitedI tumbled my half-guinea out of my
pocket in pulling the card out. I put it in my mouth for safety
and though my hands trembled a good dealhad just tied the card on
very much to my satisfactionwhen I felt myself violently chucked
under the chin by the long-legged young manand saw my half-guinea
fly out of my mouth into his hand.

'Wot!' said the young manseizing me by my jacket collarwith a
frightful grin. 'This is a pollis caseis it? You're a-going to
boltare you? Come to the pollisyou young warmincome to the
pollis!'

'You give me my money backif you please' said Ivery much
frightened; 'and leave me alone.'

'Come to the pollis!' said the young man. 'You shall prove it
yourn to the pollis.'

'Give me my box and moneywill you' I criedbursting into tears.

The young man still replied: 'Come to the pollis!' and was dragging
me against the donkey in a violent manneras if there were any
affinity between that animal and a magistratewhen he changed his
mindjumped into the cartsat upon my boxandexclaiming that
he would drive to the pollis straightrattled away harder than
ever.

I ran after him as fast as I couldbut I had no breath to call out
withand should not have dared to call outnowif I had. I
narrowly escaped being run overtwenty times at leastin half a
mile. Now I lost himnow I saw himnow I lost himnow I was cut
at with a whipnow shouted atnow down in the mudnow up again
now running into somebody's armsnow running headlong at a post.
At lengthconfused by fright and heatand doubting whether half
London might not by this time be turning out for my apprehension
I left the young man to go where he would with my box and money;
andpanting and cryingbut never stoppingfaced about for
Greenwichwhich I had understood was on the Dover Road: taking
very little more out of the worldtowards the retreat of my aunt
Miss Betseythan I had brought into iton the night when my
arrival gave her so much umbrage.

CHAPTER 13
THE SEQUEL OF MY RESOLUTION

For anything I knowI may have had some wild idea of running all
the way to Doverwhen I gave up the pursuit of the young man with
the donkey-cartand started for Greenwich. My scattered senses
were soon collected as to that pointif I had; for I came to a
stop in the Kent Roadat a terrace with a piece of water before
itand a great foolish image in the middleblowing a dry shell.
Here I sat down on a doorstepquite spent and exhausted with the
efforts I had already madeand with hardly breath enough to cry
for the loss of my box and half-guinea.

It was by this time dark; I heard the clocks strike tenas I sat
resting. But it was a summer nightfortunatelyand fine weather.
When I had recovered my breathand had got rid of a stifling
sensation in my throatI rose up and went on. In the midst of my


distressI had no notion of going back. I doubt if I should have
had anythough there had been a Swiss snow-drift in the Kent Road.

But my standing possessed of only three-halfpence in the world (and
I am sure I wonder how they came to be left in my pocket on a
Saturday night!) troubled me none the less because I went on. I
began to picture to myselfas a scrap of newspaper intelligence
my being found dead in a day or twounder some hedge; and I
trudged on miserablythough as fast as I coulduntil I happened
to pass a little shopwhere it was written up that ladies' and
gentlemen's wardrobes were boughtand that the best price was
given for ragsbonesand kitchen-stuff. The master of this shop
was sitting at the door in his shirt-sleevessmoking; and as there
were a great many coats and pairs of trousers dangling from the low
ceilingand only two feeble candles burning inside to show what
they wereI fancied that he looked like a man of a revengeful
dispositionwho had hung all his enemiesand was enjoying
himself.

My late experiences with Mr. and Mrs. Micawber suggested to me that
here might be a means of keeping off the wolf for a little while.
I went up the next by-streettook off my waistcoatrolled it
neatly under my armand came back to the shop door.

'If you pleasesir' I said'I am to sell this for a fair price.'

Mr. Dolloby - Dolloby was the name over the shop doorat least took
the waistcoatstood his pipe on its headagainst the
door-postwent into the shopfollowed by mesnuffed the two
candles with his fingersspread the waistcoat on the counterand
looked at it thereheld it up against the lightand looked at it
thereand ultimately said:

'What do you call a pricenowfor this here little weskit?'

'Oh! you know bestsir' I returned modestly.

'I can't be buyer and seller too' said Mr. Dolloby. 'Put a price
on this here little weskit.'

'Would eighteenpence be?'- I hintedafter some hesitation.

Mr. Dolloby rolled it up againand gave it me back. 'I should rob
my family' he said'if I was to offer ninepence for it.'

This was a disagreeable way of putting the business; because it
imposed upon mea perfect strangerthe unpleasantness of asking
Mr. Dolloby to rob his family on my account. My circumstances
being so very pressinghoweverI said I would take ninepence for
itif he pleased. Mr. Dollobynot without some grumblinggave
ninepence. I wished him good nightand walked out of the shop the
richer by that sumand the poorer by a waistcoat. But when I
buttoned my jacketthat was not much.
IndeedI foresaw pretty clearly that my jacket would go nextand
that I should have to make the best of my way to Dover in a shirt
and a pair of trousersand might deem myself lucky if I got there
even in that trim. But my mind did not run so much on this as
might be supposed. Beyond a general impression of the distance
before meand of the young man with the donkey-cart having used me
cruellyI think I had no very urgent sense of my difficulties when
I once again set off with my ninepence in my pocket.

A plan had occurred to me for passing the nightwhich I was going
to carry into execution. This wasto lie behind the wall at the


back of my old schoolin a corner where there used to be a
haystack. I imagined it would be a kind of company to have the
boysand the bedroom where I used to tell the storiesso near me:
although the boys would know nothing of my being thereand the
bedroom would yield me no shelter.

I had had a hard day's workand was pretty well jaded when I came
climbing outat lastupon the level of Blackheath. It cost me
some trouble to find out Salem House; but I found itand I found
a haystack in the cornerand I lay down by it; having first walked
round the walland looked up at the windowsand seen that all was
dark and silent within. Never shall I forget the lonely sensation
of first lying downwithout a roof above my head!

Sleep came upon me as it came on many other outcastsagainst whom
house-doors were lockedand house-dogs barkedthat night - and I
dreamed of lying on my old school-bedtalking to the boys in my
room; and found myself sitting uprightwith Steerforth's name upon
my lipslooking wildly at the stars that were glistening and
glimmering above me. When I remembered where I was at that
untimely houra feeling stole upon me that made me get upafraid
of I don't know whatand walk about. But the fainter glimmering
of the starsand the pale light in the sky where the day was
comingreassured me: and my eyes being very heavyI lay down
again and slept - though with a knowledge in my sleep that it was
cold - until the warm beams of the sunand the ringing of the
getting-up bell at Salem Houseawoke me. If I could have hoped
that Steerforth was thereI would have lurked about until he came
out alone; but I knew he must have left long since. Traddles still
remainedperhapsbut it was very doubtful; and I had not
sufficient confidence in his discretion or good luckhowever
strong my reliance was on his good natureto wish to trust him
with my situation. So I crept away from the wall as Mr. Creakle's
boys were getting upand struck into the long dusty track which I
had first known to be the Dover Road when I was one of themand
when I little expected that any eyes would ever see me the wayfarer
I was nowupon it.

What a different Sunday morning from the old Sunday morning at
Yarmouth! In due time I heard the church-bells ringingas I
plodded on; and I met people who were going to church; and I passed
a church or two where the congregation were insideand the sound
of singing came out into the sunshinewhile the beadle sat and
cooled himself in the shade of the porchor stood beneath the
yew-treewith his hand to his foreheadglowering at me going by.
But the peace and rest of the old Sunday morning were on
everythingexcept me. That was the difference. I felt quite
wicked in my dirt and dustwith my tangled hair. But for the
quiet picture I had conjured upof my mother in her youth and
beautyweeping by the fireand my aunt relenting to herI hardly
think I should have had the courage to go on until next day. But
it always went before meand I followed.

I gotthat Sundaythrough three-and-twenty miles on the straight
roadthough not very easilyfor I was new to that kind of toil.
I see myselfas evening closes incoming over the bridge at
Rochesterfootsore and tiredand eating bread that I had bought
for supper. One or two little houseswith the notice'Lodgings
for Travellers'hanging outhad tempted me; but I was afraid of
spending the few pence I hadand was even more afraid of the
vicious looks of the trampers I had met or overtaken. I sought no
shelterthereforebut the sky; and toiling into Chatham- which
in that night's aspectis a mere dream of chalkand drawbridges
and mastless ships in a muddy riverroofed like Noah's arks



creptat lastupon a sort of grass-grown battery overhanging a
lanewhere a sentry was walking to and fro. Here I lay downnear
a cannon; andhappy in the society of the sentry's footsteps
though he knew no more of my being above him than the boys at Salem
House had known of my lying by the wallslept soundly until
morning.

Very stiff and sore of foot I was in the morningand quite dazed
by the beating of drums and marching of troopswhich seemed to hem
me in on every side when I went down towards the long narrow
street. Feeling that I could go but a very little way that dayif
I were to reserve any strength for getting to my journey's endI
resolved to make the sale of my jacket its principal business.
AccordinglyI took the jacket offthat I might learn to do
without it; and carrying it under my armbegan a tour of
inspection of the various slop-shops.

It was a likely place to sell a jacket in; for the dealers in
second-hand clothes were numerousand weregenerally speakingon
the look-out for customers at their shop doors. But as most of
them hadhanging up among their stockan officer's coat or two
epaulettes and allI was rendered timid by the costly nature of
their dealingsand walked about for a long time without offering
my merchandise to anyone.

This modesty of mine directed my attention to the marine-store
shopsand such shops as Mr. Dolloby'sin preference to the
regular dealers. At last I found one that I thought looked
promisingat the corner of a dirty laneending in an enclosure
full of stinging-nettlesagainst the palings of which some
second-hand sailors' clothesthat seemed to have overflowed the
shopwere fluttering among some cotsand rusty gunsand oilskin
hatsand certain trays full of so many old rusty keys of so many
sizes that they seemed various enough to open all the doors in the
world.

Into this shopwhich was low and smalland which was darkened
rather than lighted by a little windowoverhung with clothesand
was descended into by some stepsI went with a palpitating heart;
which was not relieved when an ugly old manwith the lower part of
his face all covered with a stubbly grey beardrushed out of a
dirty den behind itand seized me by the hair of my head. He was
a dreadful old man to look atin a filthy flannel waistcoatand
smelling terribly of rum. His bedsteadcovered with a tumbled and
ragged piece of patchworkwas in the den he had come fromwhere
another little window showed a prospect of more stinging-nettles
and a lame donkey.

'Ohwhat do you want?' grinned this old manin a fierce
monotonous whine. 'Ohmy eyes and limbswhat do you want? Oh
my lungs and liverwhat do you want? Ohgoroogoroo!'

I was so much dismayed by these wordsand particularly by the
repetition of the last unknown onewhich was a kind of rattle in
his throatthat I could make no answer; hereupon the old man
still holding me by the hairrepeated:

'Ohwhat do you want? Ohmy eyes and limbswhat do you want?
Ohmy lungs and liverwhat do you want? Ohgoroo!' - which he
screwed out of himselfwith an energy that made his eyes start in
his head.

'I wanted to know' I saidtrembling'if you would buy a jacket.'


'Ohlet's see the jacket!' cried the old man. 'Ohmy heart on
fireshow the jacket to us! Ohmy eyes and limbsbring the
jacket out!'

With that he took his trembling handswhich were like the claws of
a great birdout of my hair; and put on a pair of spectaclesnot
at all ornamental to his inflamed eyes.

'Ohhow much for the jacket?' cried the old manafter examining
it. 'Oh - goroo! - how much for the jacket?'

'Half-a-crown' I answeredrecovering myself.

'Ohmy lungs and liver' cried the old man'no! Ohmy eyesno!
Ohmy limbsno! Eighteenpence. Goroo!'

Every time he uttered this ejaculationhis eyes seemed to be in
danger of starting out; and every sentence he spokehe delivered
in a sort of tunealways exactly the sameand more like a gust of
windwhich begins lowmounts up highand falls againthan any
other comparison I can find for it.

'Well' said Iglad to have closed the bargain'I'll take
eighteenpence.'

'Ohmy liver!' cried the old manthrowing the jacket on a shelf.
'Get out of the shop! Ohmy lungsget out of the shop! Ohmy
eyes and limbs - goroo! - don't ask for money; make it an
exchange.' I never was so frightened in my lifebefore or since;
but I told him humbly that I wanted moneyand that nothing else
was of any use to mebut that I would wait for itas he desired
outsideand had no wish to hurry him. So I went outsideand sat
down in the shade in a corner. And I sat there so many hoursthat
the shade became sunlightand the sunlight became shade againand
still I sat there waiting for the money.

There never was such another drunken madman in that line of
businessI hope. That he was well known in the neighbourhoodand
enjoyed the reputation of having sold himself to the devilI soon
understood from the visits he received from the boyswho
continually came skirmishing about the shopshouting that legend
and calling to him to bring out his gold. 'You ain't pooryou
knowCharleyas you pretend. Bring out your gold. Bring out
some of the gold you sold yourself to the devil for. Come! It's
in the lining of the mattressCharley. Rip it open and let's have
some!' Thisand many offers to lend him a knife for the purpose
exasperated him to such a degreethat the whole day was a
succession of rushes on his partand flights on the part of the
boys. Sometimes in his rage he would take me for one of themand
come at memouthing as if he were going to tear me in pieces;
thenremembering mejust in timewould dive into the shopand
lie upon his bedas I thought from the sound of his voiceyelling
in a frantic wayto his own windy tunethe 'Death of Nelson';
with an Oh! before every lineand innumerable Goroos interspersed.
As if this were not bad enough for methe boysconnecting me with
the establishmenton account of the patience and perseverance with
which I sat outsidehalf-dressedpelted meand used me very ill
all day.

He made many attempts to induce me to consent to an exchange; at
one time coming out with a fishing-rodat another with a fiddle
at another with a cocked hatat another with a flute. But I
resisted all these overturesand sat there in desperation; each
time asking himwith tears in my eyesfor my money or my jacket.


At last he began to pay me in halfpence at a time; and was full two
hours getting by easy stages to a shilling.

'Ohmy eyes and limbs!' he then criedpeeping hideously out of
the shopafter a long pause'will you go for twopence more?'

'I can't' I said; 'I shall be starved.'

'Ohmy lungs and liverwill you go for threepence?'

'I would go for nothingif I could' I said'but I want the money
badly.'

'Ohgo-roo!' (it is really impossible to express how he twisted
this ejaculation out of himselfas he peeped round the door-post
at meshowing nothing but his crafty old head); 'will you go for
fourpence?'

I was so faint and weary that I closed with this offer; and taking
the money out of his clawnot without tremblingwent away more
hungry and thirsty than I had ever beena little before sunset.
But at an expense of threepence I soon refreshed myself completely;
andbeing in better spirits thenlimped seven miles upon my road.

My bed at night was under another haystackwhere I rested
comfortablyafter having washed my blistered feet in a streamand
dressed them as well as I was ablewith some cool leaves. When I
took the road again next morningI found that it lay through a
succession of hop-grounds and orchards. It was sufficiently late
in the year for the orchards to be ruddy with ripe apples; and in
a few places the hop-pickers were already at work. I thought it
all extremely beautifuland made up my mind to sleep among the
hops that night: imagining some cheerful companionship in the long
perspectives of poleswith the graceful leaves twining round them.

The trampers were worse than ever that dayand inspired me with a
dread that is yet quite fresh in my mind. Some of them were most
ferocious-looking ruffianswho stared at me as I went by; and
stoppedperhapsand called after me to come back and speak to
themand when I took to my heelsstoned me. I recollect one
young fellow - a tinkerI supposefrom his wallet and brazier who
had a woman with himand who faced about and stared at me
thus; and then roared to me in such a tremendous voice to come
backthat I halted and looked round.

'Come herewhen you're called' said the tinker'or I'll rip your
young body open.'

I thought it best to go back. As I drew nearer to themtrying to
propitiate the tinker by my looksI observed that the woman had a
black eye.

'Where are you going?' said the tinkergripping the bosom of my
shirt with his blackened hand.

'I am going to Dover' I said.

'Where do you come from?' asked the tinkergiving his hand another
turn in my shirtto hold me more securely.

'I come from London' I said.

'What lay are you upon?' asked the tinker. 'Are you a prig?'


'N-no' I said.

'Ain't youby G--? If you make a brag of your honesty to me'
said the tinker'I'll knock your brains out.'

With his disengaged hand he made a menace of striking meand then
looked at me from head to foot.

'Have you got the price of a pint of beer about you?' said the
tinker. 'If you haveout with itafore I take it away!'

I should certainly have produced itbut that I met the woman's
lookand saw her very slightly shake her headand form 'No!' with
her lips.

'I am very poor' I saidattempting to smile'and have got no
money.'

'Whywhat do you mean?' said the tinkerlooking so sternly at me
that I almost feared he saw the money in my pocket.

'Sir!' I stammered.

'What do you mean' said the tinker'by wearing my brother's silk
handkerchief! Give it over here!' And he had mine off my neck in
a momentand tossed it to the woman.

The woman burst into a fit of laughteras if she thought this a
jokeand tossed it back to menodded onceas slightly as before
and made the word 'Go!' with her lips. Before I could obey
howeverthe tinker seized the handkerchief out of my hand with a
roughness that threw me away like a featherand putting it loosely
round his own neckturned upon the woman with an oathand knocked
her down. I never shall forget seeing her fall backward on the
hard roadand lie there with her bonnet tumbled offand her hair
all whitened in the dust; norwhen I looked back from a distance
seeing her sitting on the pathwaywhich was a bank by the
roadsidewiping the blood from her face with a corner of her
shawlwhile he went on ahead.

This adventure frightened me sothatafterwardswhen I saw any
of these people comingI turned back until I could find a
hiding-placewhere I remained until they had gone out of sight;
which happened so oftenthat I was very seriously delayed. But
under this difficultyas under all the other difficulties of my
journeyI seemed to be sustained and led on by my fanciful picture
of my mother in her youthbefore I came into the world. It always
kept me company. It was thereamong the hopswhen I lay down to
sleep; it was with me on my waking in the morning; it went before
me all day. I have associated itever sincewith the sunny
street of Canterburydozing as it were in the hot light; and with
the sight of its old houses and gatewaysand the statelygrey
Cathedralwith the rooks sailing round the towers. When I came
at lastupon the barewide downs near Doverit relieved the
solitary aspect of the scene with hope; and not until I reached
that first great aim of my journeyand actually set foot in the
town itselfon the sixth day of my flightdid it desert me. But
thenstrange to saywhen I stood with my ragged shoesand my
dustysunburnthalf-clothed figurein the place so long desired
it seemed to vanish like a dreamand to leave me helpless and
dispirited.

I inquired about my aunt among the boatmen firstand received
various answers. One said she lived in the South Foreland Light


and had singed her whiskers by doing so; anotherthat she was made
fast to the great buoy outside the harbourand could only be
visited at half-tide; a thirdthat she was locked up in Maidstone
jail for child-stealing; a fourththat she was seen to mount a
broom in the last high windand make direct for Calais. The
fly-driversamong whom I inquired nextwere equally jocose and
equally disrespectful; and the shopkeepersnot liking my
appearancegenerally repliedwithout hearing what I had to say
that they had got nothing for me. I felt more miserable and
destitute than I had done at any period of my running away. My
money was all goneI had nothing left to dispose of; I was hungry
thirstyand worn out; and seemed as distant from my end as if I
had remained in London.

The morning had worn away in these inquiriesand I was sitting on
the step of an empty shop at a street cornernear the
market-placedeliberating upon wandering towards those other
places which had been mentionedwhen a fly-drivercoming by with
his carriagedropped a horsecloth. Something good-natured in the
man's faceas I handed it upencouraged me to ask him if he could
tell me where Miss Trotwood lived; though I had asked the question
so oftenthat it almost died upon my lips.

'Trotwood' said he. 'Let me see. I know the nametoo. Old
lady?'

'Yes' I said'rather.'

'Pretty stiff in the back?' said hemaking himself upright.

'Yes' I said. 'I should think it very likely.'

'Carries a bag?' said he - 'bag with a good deal of room in it - is
gruffishand comes down upon yousharp?'

My heart sank within me as I acknowledged the undoubted accuracy of
this description.

'Why thenI tell you what' said he. 'If you go up there'
pointing with his whip towards the heights'and keep right on till
you come to some houses facing the seaI think you'll hear of her.
My opinion is she won't stand anythingso here's a penny for you.'

I accepted the gift thankfullyand bought a loaf with it.
Dispatching this refreshment by the wayI went in the direction my
friend had indicatedand walked on a good distance without coming
to the houses he had mentioned. At length I saw some before me;
and approaching themwent into a little shop (it was what we used
to call a general shopat home)and inquired if they could have
the goodness to tell me where Miss Trotwood lived. I addressed
myself to a man behind the counterwho was weighing some rice for
a young woman; but the lattertaking the inquiry to herself
turned round quickly.

'My mistress?' she said. 'What do you want with herboy?'

'I want' I replied'to speak to herif you please.'

'To beg of heryou mean' retorted the damsel.

'No' I said'indeed.' But suddenly remembering that in truth I
came for no other purposeI held my peace in confusionand felt
my face burn.


MY aunt's handmaidas I supposed she was from what she had said
put her rice in a little basket and walked out of the shop; telling
me that I could follow herif I wanted to know where Miss Trotwood
lived. I needed no second permission; though I was by this time in
such a state of consternation and agitationthat my legs shook
under me. I followed the young womanand we soon came to a very
neat little cottage with cheerful bow-windows: in front of ita
small square gravelled court or garden full of flowerscarefully
tendedand smelling deliciously.

'This is Miss Trotwood's' said the young woman. 'Now you know;
and that's all I have got to say.' With which words she hurried
into the houseas if to shake off the responsibility of my
appearance; and left me standing at the garden-gatelooking
disconsolately over the top of it towards the parlour windowwhere
a muslin curtain partly undrawn in the middlea large round green
screen or fan fastened on to the windowsilla small tableand a
great chairsuggested to me that my aunt might be at that moment
seated in awful state.

My shoes were by this time in a woeful condition. The soles had
shed themselves bit by bitand the upper leathers had broken and
burst until the very shape and form of shoes had departed from
them. My hat (which had served me for a night-captoo) was so
crushed and bentthat no old battered handleless saucepan on a
dunghill need have been ashamed to vie with it. My shirt and
trousersstained with heatdewgrassand the Kentish soil on
which I had slept - and torn besides - might have frightened the
birds from my aunt's gardenas I stood at the gate. My hair had
known no comb or brush since I left London. My faceneckand
handsfrom unaccustomed exposure to the air and sunwere burnt to
a berry-brown. From head to foot I was powdered almost as white
with chalk and dustas if I had come out of a lime-kiln. In this
plightand with a strong consciousness of itI waited to
introduce myself toand make my first impression onmy formidable
aunt.

The unbroken stillness of the parlour window leading me to infer
after a whilethat she was not thereI lifted up my eyes to the
window above itwhere I saw a floridpleasant-looking gentleman
with a grey headwho shut up one eye in a grotesque mannernodded
his head at me several timesshook it at me as oftenlaughedand
went away.

I had been discomposed enough before; but I was so much the more
discomposed by this unexpected behaviourthat I was on the point
of slinking offto think how I had best proceedwhen there came
out of the house a lady with her handkerchief tied over her cap
and a pair of gardening gloves on her handswearing a gardening
pocket like a toll-man's apronand carrying a great knife. I knew
her immediately to be Miss Betseyfor she came stalking out of the
house exactly as my poor mother had so often described her stalking
up our garden at Blunderstone Rookery.

'Go away!' said Miss Betseyshaking her headand making a distant
chop in the air with her knife. 'Go along! No boys here!'

I watched herwith my heart at my lipsas she marched to a corner
of her gardenand stooped to dig up some little root there. Then
without a scrap of couragebut with a great deal of desperation
I went softly in and stood beside hertouching her with my finger.

'If you pleasema'am' I began.


She started and looked up.

'If you pleaseaunt.'

'EH?' exclaimed Miss Betseyin a tone of amazement I have never
heard approached.

'If you pleaseauntI am your nephew.'

'OhLord!' said my aunt. And sat flat down in the garden-path.

'I am David Copperfieldof Blunderstonein Suffolk - where you
cameon the night when I was bornand saw my dear mama. I have
been very unhappy since she died. I have been slightedand taught
nothingand thrown upon myselfand put to work not fit for me.
It made me run away to you. I was robbed at first setting outand
have walked all the wayand have never slept in a bed since I
began the journey.' Here my self-support gave way all at once; and
with a movement of my handsintended to show her my ragged state
and call it to witness that I had suffered somethingI broke into
a passion of cryingwhich I suppose had been pent up within me all
the week.

My auntwith every sort of expression but wonder discharged from
her countenancesat on the gravelstaring at meuntil I began to
cry; when she got up in a great hurrycollared meand took me
into the parlour. Her first proceeding there was to unlock a tall
pressbring out several bottlesand pour some of the contents of
each into my mouth. I think they must have been taken out at
randomfor I am sure I tasted aniseed wateranchovy sauceand
salad dressing. When she had administered these restorativesas
I was still quite hystericaland unable to control my sobsshe
put me on the sofawith a shawl under my headand the
handkerchief from her own head under my feetlest I should sully
the cover; and thensitting herself down behind the green fan or
screen I have already mentionedso that I could not see her face
ejaculated at intervals'Mercy on us!' letting those exclamations
off like minute guns.

After a time she rang the bell. 'Janet' said my auntwhen her
servant came in. 'Go upstairsgive my compliments to Mr. Dick
and say I wish to speak to him.'

Janet looked a little surprised to see me lying stiffly on the sofa
(I was afraid to move lest it should be displeasing to my aunt)
but went on her errand. My auntwith her hands behind herwalked
up and down the roomuntil the gentleman who had squinted at me
from the upper window came in laughing.

'Mr. Dick' said my aunt'don't be a foolbecause nobody can be
more discreet than you canwhen you choose. We all know that. So
don't be a foolwhatever you are.'

The gentleman was serious immediatelyand looked at meI thought
as if he would entreat me to say nothing about the window.

'Mr. Dick' said my aunt'you have heard me mention David
Copperfield? Now don't pretend not to have a memorybecause you
and I know better.'

'David Copperfield?' said Mr. Dickwho did not appear to me to
remember much about it. 'David Copperfield? Oh yesto be sure.
Davidcertainly.'


'Well' said my aunt'this is his boy - his son. He would be as
like his father as it's possible to beif he was not so like his
mothertoo.'

'His son?' said Mr. Dick. 'David's son? Indeed!'

'Yes' pursued my aunt'and he has done a pretty piece of
business. He has run away. Ah! His sisterBetsey Trotwood
never would have run away.' My aunt shook her head firmly
confident in the character and behaviour of the girl who never was
born.

'Oh! you think she wouldn't have run away?' said Mr. Dick.

'Bless and save the man' exclaimed my auntsharply'how he
talks! Don't I know she wouldn't? She would have lived with her
god-motherand we should have been devoted to one another. Where
in the name of wondershould his sisterBetsey Trotwoodhave run
fromor to?'

'Nowhere' said Mr. Dick.

'Well then' returned my auntsoftened by the reply'how can you
pretend to be wool-gatheringDickwhen you are as sharp as a
surgeon's lancet? Nowhere you see young David Copperfieldand
the question I put to you iswhat shall I do with him?'

'What shall you do with him?' said Mr. Dickfeeblyscratching his
head. 'Oh! do with him?'

'Yes' said my auntwith a grave lookand her forefinger held up.
'Come! I want some very sound advice.'

'Whyif I was you' said Mr. Dickconsideringand looking
vacantly at me'I should -' The contemplation of me seemed to
inspire him with a sudden ideaand he addedbriskly'I should
wash him!'

'Janet' said my auntturning round with a quiet triumphwhich I
did not then understand'Mr. Dick sets us all right. Heat the
bath!'

Although I was deeply interested in this dialogueI could not help
observing my auntMr. Dickand Janetwhile it was in progress
and completing a survey I had already been engaged in making of the
room.

MY aunt was a tallhard-featured ladybut by no means
ill-looking. There was an inflexibility in her facein her voice
in her gait and carriageamply sufficient to account for the
effect she had made upon a gentle creature like my mother; but her
features were rather handsome than otherwisethough unbending and
austere. I particularly noticed that she had a very quickbright
eye. Her hairwhich was greywas arranged in two plain
divisionsunder what I believe would be called a mob-cap; I mean
a capmuch more common then than nowwith side-pieces fastening
under the chin. Her dress was of a lavender colourand perfectly
neat; but scantily madeas if she desired to be as little
encumbered as possible. I remember that I thought itin form
more like a riding-habit with the superfluous skirt cut offthan
anything else. She wore at her side a gentleman's gold watchif
I might judge from its size and makewith an appropriate chain and
seals; she had some linen at her throat not unlike a shirt-collar
and things at her wrists like little shirt-wristbands.


Mr. Dickas I have already saidwas grey-headedand florid: I
should have said all about himin saying sohad not his head been
curiously bowed - not by age; it reminded me of one of Mr.
Creakle's boys' heads after a beating - and his grey eyes prominent
and largewith a strange kind of watery brightness in them that
made mein combination with his vacant mannerhis submission to
my auntand his childish delight when she praised himsuspect him
of being a little mad; thoughif he were madhow he came to be
there puzzled me extremely. He was dressed like any other ordinary
gentlemanin a loose grey morning coat and waistcoatand white
trousers; and had his watch in his foband his money in his
pockets: which he rattled as if he were very proud of it.

Janet was a pretty blooming girlof about nineteen or twentyand
a perfect picture of neatness. Though I made no further
observation of her at the momentI may mention here what I did not
discover until afterwardsnamelythat she was one of a series of
protegees whom my aunt had taken into her service expressly to
educate in a renouncement of mankindand who had generally
completed their abjuration by marrying the baker.

The room was as neat as Janet or my aunt. As I laid down my pen
a moment sinceto think of itthe air from the sea came blowing
in againmixed with the perfume of the flowers; and I saw the
old-fashioned furniture brightly rubbed and polishedmy aunt's
inviolable chair and table by the round green fan in the
bow-windowthe drugget-covered carpetthe catthe kettle-holder
the two canariesthe old chinathe punchbowl full of dried
rose-leavesthe tall press guarding all sorts of bottles and pots
andwonderfully out of keeping with the restmy dusty self upon
the sofataking note of everything.

Janet had gone away to get the bath readywhen my auntto my
great alarmbecame in one moment rigid with indignationand had
hardly voice to cry out'Janet! Donkeys!'

Upon whichJanet came running up the stairs as if the house were
in flamesdarted out on a little piece of green in frontand
warned off two saddle-donkeyslady-riddenthat had presumed to
set hoof upon it; while my auntrushing out of the houseseized
the bridle of a third animal laden with a bestriding childturned
himled him forth from those sacred precinctsand boxed the ears
of the unlucky urchin in attendance who had dared to profane that
hallowed ground.

To this hour I don't know whether my aunt had any lawful right of
way over that patch of green; but she had settled it in her own
mind that she hadand it was all the same to her. The one great
outrage of her lifedemanding to be constantly avengedwas the
passage of a donkey over that immaculate spot. In whatever
occupation she was engagedhowever interesting to her the
conversation in which she was taking parta donkey turned the
current of her ideas in a momentand she was upon him straight.
Jugs of waterand watering-potswere kept in secret places ready
to be discharged on the offending boys; sticks were laid in ambush
behind the door; sallies were made at all hours; and incessant war
prevailed. Perhaps this was an agreeable excitement to the
donkey-boys; or perhaps the more sagacious of the donkeys
understanding how the case stooddelighted with constitutional
obstinacy in coming that way. I only know that there were three
alarms before the bath was ready; and that on the occasion of the
last and most desperate of allI saw my aunt engage
single-handedwith a sandy-headed lad of fifteenand bump his


sandy head against her own gatebefore he seemed to comprehend
what was the matter. These interruptions were of the more
ridiculous to mebecause she was giving me broth out of a
table-spoon at the time (having firmly persuaded herself that I was
actually starvingand must receive nourishment at first in very
small quantities)andwhile my mouth was yet open to receive the
spoonshe would put it back into the basincry 'Janet! Donkeys!'
and go out to the assault.

The bath was a great comfort. For I began to be sensible of acute
pains in my limbs from lying out in the fieldsand was now so
tired and low that I could hardly keep myself awake for five
minutes together. When I had bathedthey (I mean my aunt and
Janet) enrobed me in a shirt and a pair of trousers belonging to
Mr. Dickand tied me up in two or three great shawls. What sort
of bundle I looked likeI don't knowbut I felt a very hot one.
Feeling also very faint and drowsyI soon lay down on the sofa
again and fell asleep.

It might have been a dreamoriginating in the fancy which had
occupied my mind so longbut I awoke with the impression that my
aunt had come and bent over meand had put my hair away from my
faceand laid my head more comfortablyand had then stood looking
at me. The words'Pretty fellow' or 'Poor fellow' seemed to be
in my earstoo; but certainly there was nothing elsewhen I
awoketo lead me to believe that they had been uttered by my aunt
who sat in the bow-window gazing at the sea from behind the green
fanwhich was mounted on a kind of swiveland turned any way.

We dined soon after I awokeoff a roast fowl and a pudding; I
sitting at tablenot unlike a trussed bird myselfand moving my
arms with considerable difficulty. But as my aunt had swathed me
upI made no complaint of being inconvenienced. All this time I
was deeply anxious to know what she was going to do with me; but
she took her dinner in profound silenceexcept when she
occasionally fixed her eyes on me sitting oppositeand said
'Mercy upon us!' which did not by any means relieve my anxiety.

The cloth being drawnand some sherry put upon the table (of which
I had a glass)my aunt sent up for Mr. Dick againwho joined us
and looked as wise as he could when she requested him to attend to
my storywhich she elicited from megraduallyby a course of
questions. During my recitalshe kept her eyes on Mr. Dickwho
I thought would have gone to sleep but for thatand who
whensoever he lapsed into a smilewas checked by a frown from my
aunt.

'Whatever possessed that poor unfortunate Babythat she must go
and be married again' said my auntwhen I had finished'I can't
conceive.'

'Perhaps she fell in love with her second husband' Mr. Dick
suggested.

'Fell in love!' repeated my aunt. 'What do you mean? What
business had she to do it?'

'Perhaps' Mr. Dick simperedafter thinking a little'she did it
for pleasure.'

'Pleasureindeed!' replied my aunt. 'A mighty pleasure for the
poor Baby to fix her simple faith upon any dog of a fellowcertain
to ill-use her in some way or other. What did she propose to
herselfI should like to know! She had had one husband. She had


seen David Copperfield out of the worldwho was always running
after wax dolls from his cradle. She had got a baby - ohthere
were a pair of babies when she gave birth to this child sitting
herethat Friday night! - and what more did she want?'

Mr. Dick secretly shook his head at meas if he thought there was
no getting over this.

'She couldn't even have a baby like anybody else' said my aunt.
'Where was this child's sisterBetsey Trotwood? Not forthcoming.
Don't tell me!'

Mr. Dick seemed quite frightened.

'That little man of a doctorwith his head on one side' said my
aunt'Jellipsor whatever his name waswhat was he about? All
he could dowas to say to melike a robin redbreast - as he is "
It's a boy." A boy! Yahthe imbecility of the whole set of
'em!'

The heartiness of the ejaculation startled Mr. Dick exceedingly;
and metooif I am to tell the truth.

'And thenas if this was not enoughand she had not stood
sufficiently in the light of this child's sisterBetsey Trotwood'
said my aunt'she marries a second time - goes and marries a
Murderer - or a man with a name like it - and stands in THIS
child's light! And the natural consequence isas anybody but a
baby might have foreseenthat he prowls and wanders. He's as like
Cain before he was grown upas he can be.'

Mr. Dick looked hard at meas if to identify me in this character.

'And then there's that woman with the Pagan name' said my aunt
'that Peggottyshe goes and gets married next. Because she has
not seen enough of the evil attending such thingsshe goes and
gets married nextas the child relates. I only hope' said my
auntshaking her head'that her husband is one of those Poker
husbands who abound in the newspapersand will beat her well with
one.'

I could not bear to hear my old nurse so decriedand made the
subject of such a wish. I told my aunt that indeed she was
mistaken. That Peggotty was the bestthe truestthe most
faithfulmost devotedand most self-denying friend and servant in
the world; who had ever loved me dearlywho had ever loved my
mother dearly; who had held my mother's dying head upon her armon
whose face my mother had imprinted her last grateful kiss. And my
remembrance of them bothchoking meI broke down as I was trying
to say that her home was my homeand that all she had was mine
and that I would have gone to her for shelterbut for her humble
stationwhich made me fear that I might bring some trouble on her

-I broke downI sayas I was trying to say soand laid my face
in my hands upon the table.
'Wellwell!' said my aunt'the child is right to stand by those
who have stood by him - Janet! Donkeys!'

I thoroughly believe that but for those unfortunate donkeyswe
should have come to a good understanding; for my aunt had laid her
hand on my shoulderand the impulse was upon methus emboldened
to embrace her and beseech her protection. But the interruption
and the disorder she was thrown into by the struggle outsideput
an end to all softer ideas for the presentand kept my aunt


indignantly declaiming to Mr. Dick about her determination to
appeal for redress to the laws of her countryand to bring actions
for trespass against the whole donkey proprietorship of Dover
until tea-time.

After teawe sat at the window - on the look-outas I imagined
from my aunt's sharp expression of facefor more invaders - until
duskwhen Janet set candlesand a backgammon-boardon the table
and pulled down the blinds.

'NowMr. Dick' said my auntwith her grave lookand her
forefinger up as before'I am going to ask you another question.
Look at this child.'

'David's son?' said Mr. Dickwith an attentivepuzzled face.

'Exactly so' returned my aunt. 'What would you do with himnow?'

'Do with David's son?' said Mr. Dick.

'Ay' replied my aunt'with David's son.'

'Oh!' said Mr. Dick. 'Yes. Do with - I should put him to bed.'

'Janet!' cried my auntwith the same complacent triumph that I had
remarked before. 'Mr. Dick sets us all right. If the bed is
readywe'll take him up to it.'

Janet reporting it to be quite readyI was taken up to it; kindly
but in some sort like a prisoner; my aunt going in front and Janet
bringing up the rear. The only circumstance which gave me any new
hopewas my aunt's stopping on the stairs to inquire about a smell
of fire that was prevalent there; and janet's replying that she had
been making tinder down in the kitchenof my old shirt. But there
were no other clothes in my room than the odd heap of things I
wore; and when I was left therewith a little taper which my aunt
forewarned me would burn exactly five minutesI heard them lock my
door on the outside. Turning these things over in my mind I deemed
it possible that my auntwho could know nothing of memight
suspect I had a habit of running awayand took precautionson
that accountto have me in safe keeping.

The room was a pleasant oneat the top of the houseoverlooking
the seaon which the moon was shining brilliantly. After I had
said my prayersand the candle had burnt outI remember how I
still sat looking at the moonlight on the wateras if I could hope
to read my fortune in itas in a bright book; or to see my mother
with her childcoming from Heavenalong that shining pathto
look upon me as she had looked when I last saw her sweet face. I
remember how the solemn feeling with which at length I turned my
eyes awayyielded to the sensation of gratitude and rest which the
sight of the white-curtained bed - and how much more the lying
softly down upon itnestling in the snow-white sheets! - inspired.
I remember how I thought of all the solitary places under the night
sky where I had sleptand how I prayed that I never might be
houseless any moreand never might forget the houseless. I
remember how I seemed to floatthendown the melancholy glory of
that track upon the seaaway into the world of dreams.

CHAPTER 14
MY AUNT MAKES UP HER MIND ABOUT ME


On going down in the morningI found my aunt musing so profoundly
over the breakfast tablewith her elbow on the traythat the
contents of the urn had overflowed the teapot and were laying the
whole table-cloth under waterwhen my entrance put her meditations
to flight. I felt sure that I had been the subject of her
reflectionsand was more than ever anxious to know her intentions
towards me. Yet I dared not express my anxietylest it should
give her offence.

My eyeshowevernot being so much under control as my tongue
were attracted towards my aunt very often during breakfast. I
never could look at her for a few moments together but I found her
looking at me - in an odd thoughtful manneras if I were an
immense way offinstead of being on the other side of the small
round table. When she had finished her breakfastmy aunt very
deliberately leaned back in her chairknitted her browsfolded
her armsand contemplated me at her leisurewith such a fixedness
of attention that I was quite overpowered by embarrassment. Not
having as yet finished my own breakfastI attempted to hide my
confusion by proceeding with it; but my knife tumbled over my fork
my fork tripped up my knifeI chipped bits of bacon a surprising
height into the air instead of cutting them for my own eatingand
choked myself with my teawhich persisted in going the wrong way
instead of the right oneuntil I gave in altogetherand sat
blushing under my aunt's close scrutiny.

'Hallo!' said my auntafter a long time.

I looked upand met her sharp bright glance respectfully.

'I have written to him' said my aunt.

'To -?'

'To your father-in-law' said my aunt. 'I have sent him a letter
that I'll trouble him to attend toor he and I will fall outI
can tell him!'

'Does he know where I amaunt?' I inquiredalarmed.

'I have told him' said my auntwith a nod.

'Shall I - be - given up to him?' I faltered.

'I don't know' said my aunt. 'We shall see.'

'Oh! I can't think what I shall do' I exclaimed'if I have to go
back to Mr. Murdstone!'

'I don't know anything about it' said my auntshaking her head.
'I can't sayI am sure. We shall see.'

My spirits sank under these wordsand I became very downcast and
heavy of heart. My auntwithout appearing to take much heed of
meput on a coarse apron with a bibwhich she took out of the
press; washed up the teacups with her own hands; andwhen
everything was washed and set in the tray againand the cloth
folded and put on the top of the wholerang for Janet to remove
it. She next swept up the crumbs with a little broom (putting on
a pair of gloves first)until there did not appear to be one
microscopic speck left on the carpet; next dusted and arranged the
roomwhich was dusted and arranged to a hair'sbreadth already.
When all these tasks were performed to her satisfactionshe took


off the gloves and apronfolded them upput them in the
particular corner of the press from which they had been taken
brought out her work-box to her own table in the open windowand
sat downwith the green fan between her and the lightto work.

'I wish you'd go upstairs' said my auntas she threaded her
needle'and give my compliments to Mr. Dickand I'll be glad to
know how he gets on with his Memorial.'

I rose with all alacrityto acquit myself of this commission.

'I suppose' said my aunteyeing me as narrowly as she had eyed
the needle in threading it'you think Mr. Dick a short nameeh?'

'I thought it was rather a short nameyesterday' I confessed.

'You are not to suppose that he hasn't got a longer nameif he
chose to use it' said my auntwith a loftier air. 'Babley - Mr.
Richard Babley - that's the gentleman's true name.'

I was going to suggestwith a modest sense of my youth and the
familiarity I had been already guilty ofthat I had better give
him the full benefit of that namewhen my aunt went on to say:

'But don't you call him by itwhatever you do. He can't bear his
name. That's a peculiarity of his. Though I don't know that it's
much of a peculiarityeither; for he has been ill-used enoughby
some that bear itto have a mortal antipathy for itHeaven knows.
Mr. Dick is his name hereand everywhere elsenow - if he ever
went anywhere elsewhich he don't. So take carechildyou don't
call him anything BUT Mr. Dick.'

I promised to obeyand went upstairs with my message; thinkingas
I wentthat if Mr. Dick had been working at his Memorial longat
the same rate as I had seen him working at itthrough the open
doorwhen I came downhe was probably getting on very well
indeed. I found him still driving at it with a long penand his
head almost laid upon the paper. He was so intent upon itthat I
had ample leisure to observe the large paper kite in a cornerthe
confusion of bundles of manuscriptthe number of pensandabove
allthe quantity of ink (which he seemed to have inin
half-gallon jars by the dozen)before he observed my being
present.

'Ha! Phoebus!' said Mr. Dicklaying down his pen. 'How does the
world go? I'll tell you what' he addedin a lower tone'I
shouldn't wish it to be mentionedbut it's a -' here he beckoned
to meand put his lips close to my ear - 'it's a mad world. Mad
as Bedlamboy!' said Mr. Dicktaking snuff from a round box on
the tableand laughing heartily.

Without presuming to give my opinion on this questionI delivered
my message.

'Well' said Mr. Dickin answer'my compliments to herand I I
believe I have made a start. I think I have made a start' said
Mr. Dickpassing his hand among his grey hairand casting
anything but a confident look at his manuscript. 'You have been to
school?'

'Yessir' I answered; 'for a short time.'

'Do you recollect the date' said Mr. Dicklooking earnestly at
meand taking up his pen to note it down'when King Charles the


First had his head cut off?'
I said I believed it happened in the year sixteen hundred and
forty-nine.


'Well' returned Mr. Dickscratching his ear with his penand
looking dubiously at me. 'So the books say; but I don't see how
that can be. Becauseif it was so long agohow could the people
about him have made that mistake of putting some of the trouble out
of his headafter it was taken offinto mine?'


I was very much surprised by the inquiry; but could give no
information on this point.


'It's very strange' said Mr. Dickwith a despondent look upon his
papersand with his hand among his hair again'that I never can
get that quite right. I never can make that perfectly clear. But
no matterno matter!' he said cheerfullyand rousing himself
'there's time enough! My compliments to Miss TrotwoodI am
getting on very well indeed.'


I was going awaywhen he directed my attention to the kite.


'What do you think of that for a kite?' he said.


I answered that it was a beautiful one. I should think it must
have been as much as seven feet high.


'I made it. We'll go and fly ityou and I' said Mr. Dick. 'Do
you see this?'


He showed me that it was covered with manuscriptvery closely and
laboriously written; but so plainlythat as I looked along the
linesI thought I saw some allusion to King Charles the First's
head againin one or two places.


'There's plenty of string' said Mr. Dick'and when it flies high
it takes the facts a long way. That's my manner of diffusing 'em.
I don't know where they may come down. It's according to
circumstancesand the windand so forth; but I take my chance of
that.'


His face was so very mild and pleasantand had something so
reverend in itthough it was hale and heartythat I was not sure
but that he was having a good-humoured jest with me. So I laughed
and he laughedand we parted the best friends possible.


'Wellchild' said my auntwhen I went downstairs. 'And what of
Mr. Dickthis morning?'


I informed her that he sent his complimentsand was getting on
very well indeed.


'What do you think of him?' said my aunt.


I had some shadowy idea of endeavouring to evade the questionby
replying that I thought him a very nice gentleman; but my aunt was
not to be so put offfor she laid her work down in her lapand
saidfolding her hands upon it:


'Come! Your sister Betsey Trotwood would have told me what she
thought of anyonedirectly. Be as like your sister as you can
and speak out!'


'Is he - is Mr. Dick - I ask because I don't knowaunt - is he at



all out of his mindthen?' I stammered; for I felt I was on
dangerous ground.

'Not a morsel' said my aunt.

'Ohindeed!' I observed faintly.

'If there is anything in the world' said my auntwith great
decision and force of manner'that Mr. Dick is notit's that.'

I had nothing better to offerthan another timid'Ohindeed!'

'He has been CALLED mad' said my aunt. 'I have a selfish pleasure
in saying he has been called mador I should not have had the
benefit of his society and advice for these last ten years and
upwards - in factever since your sisterBetsey Trotwood
disappointed me.'

'So long as that?' I said.

'And nice people they werewho had the audacity to call him mad'
pursued my aunt. 'Mr. Dick is a sort of distant connexion of mine

-it doesn't matter how; I needn't enter into that. If it hadn't
been for mehis own brother would have shut him up for life.
That's all.'
I am afraid it was hypocritical in mebut seeing that my aunt felt
strongly on the subjectI tried to look as if I felt strongly too.

'A proud fool!' said my aunt. 'Because his brother was a little
eccentric - though he is not half so eccentric as a good many
people - he didn't like to have him visible about his houseand
sent him away to some private asylum-place: though he had been left
to his particular care by their deceased fatherwho thought him
almost a natural. And a wise man he must have been to think so!
Mad himselfno doubt.'

Againas my aunt looked quite convincedI endeavoured to look
quite convinced also.

'So I stepped in' said my aunt'and made him an offer. I said
Your brother's sane - a great deal more sane than you are, or ever
will be, it is to be hoped. Let him have his little income, and
come and live with me. I am not afraid of him, I am not proud, I
am ready to take care of him, and shall not ill-treat him as some
people (besides the asylum-folks) have done.After a good deal of
squabbling' said my aunt'I got him; and he has been here ever
since. He is the most friendly and amenable creature in existence;
and as for advice! - But nobody knows what that man's mind is
except myself.'

My aunt smoothed her dress and shook her headas if she smoothed
defiance of the whole world out of the oneand shook it out of the
other.

'He had a favourite sister' said my aunt'a good creatureand
very kind to him. But she did what they all do - took a husband.
And HE did what they all do - made her wretched. It had such an
effect upon the mind of Mr. Dick (that's not madnessI hope!)
thatcombined with his fear of his brotherand his sense of his
unkindnessit threw him into a fever. That was before he came to
mebut the recollection of it is oppressive to him even now. Did
he say anything to you about King Charles the Firstchild?'


'Yesaunt.'

'Ah!' said my auntrubbing her nose as if she were a little vexed.
'That's his allegorical way of expressing it. He connects his
illness with great disturbance and agitationnaturallyand that's
the figureor the simileor whatever it's calledwhich he
chooses to use. And why shouldn't heif he thinks proper!'

I said: 'Certainlyaunt.'

'It's not a business-like way of speaking' said my aunt'nor a
worldly way. I am aware of that; and that's the reason why I
insist upon itthat there shan't be a word about it in his
Memorial.'

'Is it a Memorial about his own history that he is writingaunt?'

'Yeschild' said my auntrubbing her nose again. 'He is
memorializing the Lord Chancelloror the Lord Somebody or other one
of those peopleat all eventswho are paid to be memorialized

-about his affairs. I suppose it will go inone of these days.
He hasn't been able to draw it up yetwithout introducing that
mode of expressing himself; but it don't signify; it keeps him
employed.'
In factI found out afterwards that Mr. Dick had been for upwards
of ten years endeavouring to keep King Charles the First out of the
Memorial; but he had been constantly getting into itand was there
now.

'I say again' said my aunt'nobody knows what that man's mind is
except myself; and he's the most amenable and friendly creature in
existence. If he likes to fly a kite sometimeswhat of that!
Franklin used to fly a kite. He was a Quakeror something of that
sortif I am not mistaken. And a Quaker flying a kite is a much
more ridiculous object than anybody else.'

If I could have supposed that my aunt had recounted these
particulars for my especial behoofand as a piece of confidence in
meI should have felt very much distinguishedand should have
augured favourably from such a mark of her good opinion. But I
could hardly help observing that she had launched into them
chiefly because the question was raised in her own mindand with
very little reference to methough she had addressed herself to me
in the absence of anybody else.

At the same timeI must say that the generosity of her
championship of poor harmless Mr. Dicknot only inspired my young
breast with some selfish hope for myselfbut warmed it unselfishly
towards her. I believe that I began to know that there was
something about my auntnotwithstanding her many eccentricities
and odd humoursto be honoured and trusted in. Though she was
just as sharp that day as on the day beforeand was in and out
about the donkeys just as oftenand was thrown into a tremendous
state of indignationwhen a young mangoing byogled Janet at a
window (which was one of the gravest misdemeanours that could be
committed against my aunt's dignity)she seemed to me to command
more of my respectif not less of my fear.

The anxiety I underwentin the interval which necessarily elapsed
before a reply could be received to her letter to Mr. Murdstone
was extreme; but I made an endeavour to suppress itand to be as
agreeable as I could in a quiet wayboth to my aunt and Mr. Dick.
The latter and I would have gone out to fly the great kite; but


that I had still no other clothes than the anything but ornamental
garments with which I had been decorated on the first dayand
which confined me to the houseexcept for an hour after darkwhen
my auntfor my health's sakeparaded me up and down on the cliff
outsidebefore going to bed. At length the reply from Mr.
Murdstone cameand my aunt informed meto my infinite terror
that he was coming to speak to her herself on the next day. On the
next daystill bundled up in my curious habilimentsI sat
counting the timeflushed and heated by the conflict of sinking
hopes and rising fears within me; and waiting to be startled by the
sight of the gloomy facewhose non-arrival startled me every
minute.

MY aunt was a little more imperious and stern than usualbut I
observed no other token of her preparing herself to receive the
visitor so much dreaded by me. She sat at work in the windowand
I sat bywith my thoughts running astray on all possible and
impossible results of Mr. Murdstone's visituntil pretty late in
the afternoon. Our dinner had been indefinitely postponed; but it
was growing so latethat my aunt had ordered it to be got ready
when she gave a sudden alarm of donkeysand to my consternation
and amazementI beheld Miss Murdstoneon a side-saddleride
deliberately over the sacred piece of greenand stop in front of
the houselooking about her.

'Go along with you!' cried my auntshaking her head and her fist
at the window. 'You have no business there. How dare you
trespass? Go along! Oh! you bold-faced thing!'

MY aunt was so exasperated by the coolness with which Miss
Murdstone looked about herthat I really believe she was
motionlessand unable for the moment to dart out according to
custom. I seized the opportunity to inform her who it was; and
that the gentleman now coming near the offender (for the way up was
very steepand he had dropped behind)was Mr. Murdstone himself.

'I don't care who it is!' cried my auntstill shaking her head and
gesticulating anything but welcome from the bow-window. 'I won't
be trespassed upon. I won't allow it. Go away! Janetturn him
round. Lead him off!' and I sawfrom behind my aunta sort of
hurried battle-piecein which the donkey stood resisting
everybodywith all his four legs planted different wayswhile
Janet tried to pull him round by the bridleMr. Murdstone tried to
lead him onMiss Murdstone struck at Janet with a parasoland
several boyswho had come to see the engagementshouted
vigorously. But my auntsuddenly descrying among them the young
malefactor who was the donkey's guardianand who was one of the
most inveterate offenders against herthough hardly in his teens
rushed out to the scene of actionpounced upon himcaptured him
dragged himwith his jacket over his headand his heels grinding
the groundinto the gardenandcalling upon Janet to fetch the
constables and justicesthat he might be takentriedand
executed on the spotheld him at bay there. This part of the
businesshoweverdid not last long; for the young rascalbeing
expert at a variety of feints and dodgesof which my aunt had no
conceptionsoon went whooping awayleaving some deep impressions
of his nailed boots in the flower-bedsand taking his donkey in
triumph with him.

Miss Murdstoneduring the latter portion of the contesthad
dismountedand was now waiting with her brother at the bottom of
the stepsuntil my aunt should be at leisure to receive them. My
aunta little ruffled by the combatmarched past them into the
housewith great dignityand took no notice of their presence


until they were announced by Janet.

'Shall I go awayaunt?' I askedtrembling.

'Nosir' said my aunt. 'Certainly not!' With which she pushed
me into a corner near herand fenced Me in with a chairas if it
were a prison or a bar of justice. This position I continued to
occupy during the whole interviewand from it I now saw Mr. and
Miss Murdstone enter the room.

'Oh!' said my aunt'I was not aware at first to whom I had the
pleasure of objecting. But I don't allow anybody to ride over that
turf. I make no exceptions. I don't allow anybody to do it.'

'Your regulation is rather awkward to strangers' said Miss
Murdstone.

'Is it!' said my aunt.

Mr. Murdstone seemed afraid of a renewal of hostilitiesand
interposing began:

'Miss Trotwood!'

'I beg your pardon' observed my aunt with a keen look. 'You are
the Mr. Murdstone who married the widow of my late nephewDavid
Copperfieldof Blunderstone Rookery! - Though why RookeryI don't
know!'

'I am' said Mr. Murdstone.

'You'll excuse my sayingsir' returned my aunt'that I think it
would have been a much better and happier thing if you had left
that poor child alone.'

'I so far agree with what Miss Trotwood has remarked' observed
Miss Murdstonebridling'that I consider our lamented Clara to
have beenin all essential respectsa mere child.'

'It is a comfort to you and mema'am' said my aunt'who are
getting on in lifeand are not likely to be made unhappy by our
personal attractionsthat nobody can say the same of us.'

'No doubt!' returned Miss MurdstonethoughI thoughtnot with a
very ready or gracious assent. 'And it certainly might have been
as you saya better and happier thing for my brother if he had
never entered into such a marriage. I have always been of that
opinion.'

'I have no doubt you have' said my aunt. 'Janet' ringing the
bell'my compliments to Mr. Dickand beg him to come down.'

Until he camemy aunt sat perfectly upright and stifffrowning at
the wall. When he camemy aunt performed the ceremony of
introduction.

'Mr. Dick. An old and intimate friend. On whose judgement' said
my auntwith emphasisas an admonition to Mr. Dickwho was
biting his forefinger and looking rather foolish'I rely.'

Mr. Dick took his finger out of his mouthon this hintand stood
among the groupwith a grave and attentive expression of face.

My aunt inclined her head to Mr. Murdstonewho went on:


'Miss Trotwood: on the receipt of your letterI considered it an
act of greater justice to myselfand perhaps of more respect to
you-'

'Thank you' said my auntstill eyeing him keenly. 'You needn't
mind me.'

'To answer it in personhowever inconvenient the journey' pursued
Mr. Murdstone'rather than by letter. This unhappy boy who has
run away from his friends and his occupation -'

'And whose appearance' interposed his sisterdirecting general
attention to me in my indefinable costume'is perfectly scandalous
and disgraceful.'

'Jane Murdstone' said her brother'have the goodness not to
interrupt me. This unhappy boyMiss Trotwoodhas been the
occasion of much domestic trouble and uneasiness; both during the
lifetime of my late dear wifeand since. He has a sullen
rebellious spirit; a violent temper; and an untowardintractable
disposition. Both my sister and myself have endeavoured to correct
his vicesbut ineffectually. And I have felt - we both have felt
I may say; my sister being fully in my confidence - that it is
right you should receive this grave and dispassionate assurance
from our lips.'

'It can hardly be necessary for me to confirm anything stated by my
brother' said Miss Murdstone; 'but I beg to observethatof all
the boys in the worldI believe this is the worst boy.'

'Strong!' said my auntshortly.

'But not at all too strong for the facts' returned Miss Murdstone.

'Ha!' said my aunt. 'Wellsir?'

'I have my own opinions' resumed Mr. Murdstonewhose face
darkened more and morethe more he and my aunt observed each
otherwhich they did very narrowly'as to the best mode of
bringing him up; they are foundedin parton my knowledge of him
and in part on my knowledge of my own means and resources. I am
responsible for them to myselfI act upon themand I say no more
about them. It is enough that I place this boy under the eye of a
friend of my ownin a respectable business; that it does not
please him; that he runs away from it; makes himself a common
vagabond about the country; and comes herein ragsto appeal to
youMiss Trotwood. I wish to set before youhonourablythe
exact consequences - so far as they are within my knowledge - of
your abetting him in this appeal.'

'But about the respectable business first' said my aunt. 'If he
had been your own boyyou would have put him to itjust the same
I suppose?'

'If he had been my brother's own boy' returned Miss Murdstone
striking in'his characterI trustwould have been altogether
different.'

'Or if the poor childhis motherhad been alivehe would still
have gone into the respectable businesswould he?' said my aunt.

'I believe' said Mr. Murdstonewith an inclination of his head
'that Clara would have disputed nothing which myself and my sister


Jane Murdstone were agreed was for the best.'

Miss Murdstone confirmed this with an audible murmur.

'Humph!' said my aunt. 'Unfortunate baby!'

Mr. Dickwho had been rattling his money all this timewas
rattling it so loudly nowthat my aunt felt it necessary to check
him with a lookbefore saying:

'The poor child's annuity died with her?'

'Died with her' replied Mr. Murdstone.

'And there was no settlement of the little property - the house and
garden - the what's-its-name Rookery without any rooks in it - upon
her boy?'

'It had been left to herunconditionallyby her first husband'
Mr. Murdstone beganwhen my aunt caught him up with the greatest
irascibility and impatience.

'Good Lordmanthere's no occasion to say that. Left to her
unconditionally! I think I see David Copperfield looking forward
to any condition of any sort or kindthough it stared him
point-blank in the face! Of course it was left to her
unconditionally. But when she married again - when she took that
most disastrous step of marrying youin short' said my aunt'to
be plain - did no one put in a word for the boy at that time?'

'My late wife loved her second husbandma'am' said Mr. Murdstone
'and trusted implicitly in him.'

'Your late wifesirwas a most unworldlymost unhappymost
unfortunate baby' returned my auntshaking her head at him.
'That's what she was. And nowwhat have you got to say next?'

'Merely thisMiss Trotwood' he returned. 'I am here to take
David back - to take him back unconditionallyto dispose of him as
I think properand to deal with him as I think right. I am not
here to make any promiseor give any pledge to anybody. You may
possibly have some ideaMiss Trotwoodof abetting him in his
running awayand in his complaints to you. Your mannerwhich I
must say does not seem intended to propitiateinduces me to think
it possible. Now I must caution you that if you abet him onceyou
abet him for good and all; if you step in between him and menow
you must step inMiss Trotwoodfor ever. I cannot trifleor be
trifled with. I am herefor the first and last timeto take him
away. Is he ready to go? If he is not - and you tell me he is
not; on any pretence; it is indifferent to me what - my doors are
shut against him henceforthand yoursI take it for grantedare
open to him.'

To this addressmy aunt had listened with the closest attention
sitting perfectly uprightwith her hands folded on one kneeand
looking grimly on the speaker. When he had finishedshe turned
her eyes so as to command Miss Murdstonewithout otherwise
disturbing her attitudeand said:

'Wellma'amhave YOU got anything to remark?'

'IndeedMiss Trotwood' said Miss Murdstone'all that I could say
has been so well said by my brotherand all that I know to be the
fact has been so plainly stated by himthat I have nothing to add


except my thanks for your politeness. For your very great
politenessI am sure' said Miss Murdstone; with an irony which no
more affected my auntthan it discomposed the cannon I had slept
by at Chatham.

'And what does the boy say?' said my aunt. 'Are you ready to go
David?'

I answered noand entreated her not to let me go. I said that
neither Mr. nor Miss Murdstone had ever liked meor had ever been
kind to me. That they had made my mamawho always loved me
dearlyunhappy about meand that I knew it welland that
Peggotty knew it. I said that I had been more miserable than I
thought anybody could believewho only knew how young I was. And
I begged and prayed my aunt - I forget in what terms nowbut I
remember that they affected me very much then - to befriend and
protect mefor my father's sake.

'Mr. Dick' said my aunt'what shall I do with this child?'

Mr. Dick consideredhesitatedbrightenedand rejoined'Have him
measured for a suit of clothes directly.'

'Mr. Dick' said my aunt triumphantly'give me your handfor your
common sense is invaluable.' Having shaken it with great
cordialityshe pulled me towards her and said to Mr. Murdstone:

'You can go when you like; I'll take my chance with the boy. If
he's all you say he isat least I can do as much for him thenas
you have done. But I don't believe a word of it.'

'Miss Trotwood' rejoined Mr. Murdstoneshrugging his shoulders
as he rose'if you were a gentleman -'

'Bah! Stuff and nonsense!' said my aunt. 'Don't talk to me!'

'How exquisitely polite!' exclaimed Miss Murdstonerising.
'Overpoweringreally!'

'Do you think I don't know' said my auntturning a deaf ear to
the sisterand continuing to address the brotherand to shake her
head at him with infinite expression'what kind of life you must
have led that poorunhappymisdirected baby? Do you think I
don't know what a woeful day it was for the soft little creature
when you first came in her way - smirking and making great eyes at
herI'll be boundas if you couldn't say boh! to a goose!'

'I never heard anything so elegant!' said Miss Murdstone.

'Do you think I can't understand you as well as if I had seen you'
pursued my aunt'now that I DO see and hear you - whichI tell
you candidlyis anything but a pleasure to me? Oh yesbless us!
who so smooth and silky as Mr. Murdstone at first! The poor
benighted innocent had never seen such a man. He was made of
sweetness. He worshipped her. He doted on her boy - tenderly
doted on him! He was to be another father to himand they were
all to live together in a garden of rosesweren't they? Ugh! Get
along with youdo!' said my aunt.

'I never heard anything like this person in my life!' exclaimed
Miss Murdstone.

'And when you had made sure of the poor little fool' said my aunt

-'God forgive me that I should call her soand she gone where YOU

won't go in a hurry - because you had not done wrong enough to her
and hersyou must begin to train hermust you? begin to break
herlike a poor caged birdand wear her deluded life awayin
teaching her to sing YOUR notes?'

'This is either insanity or intoxication' said Miss Murdstonein
a perfect agony at not being able to turn the current of my aunt's
address towards herself; 'and my suspicion is that it's
intoxication.'

Miss Betseywithout taking the least notice of the interruption
continued to address herself to Mr. Murdstone as if there had been
no such thing.

'Mr. Murdstone' she saidshaking her finger at him'you were a
tyrant to the simple babyand you broke her heart. She was a
loving baby - I know that; I knew ityears before you ever saw her

-and through the best part of her weakness you gave her the wounds
she died of. There is the truth for your comforthowever you like
it. And you and your instruments may make the most of it.'
'Allow me to inquireMiss Trotwood' interposed Miss Murdstone
'whom you are pleased to callin a choice of words in which I am
not experiencedmy brother's instruments?'

'It was clear enoughas I have told youyears before YOU ever saw
her - and whyin the mysterious dispensations of Providenceyou
ever did see heris more than humanity can comprehend - it was
clear enough that the poor soft little thing would marry somebody
at some time or other; but I did hope it wouldn't have been as bad
as it has turned out. That was the timeMr. Murdstonewhen she
gave birth to her boy here' said my aunt; 'to the poor child you
sometimes tormented her through afterwardswhich is a disagreeable
remembrance and makes the sight of him odious now. Ayeaye! you
needn't wince!' said my aunt. 'I know it's true without that.'

He had stood by the doorall this whileobservant of her with a
smile upon his facethough his black eyebrows were heavily
contracted. I remarked nowthatthough the smile was on his face
stillhis colour had gone in a momentand he seemed to breathe as
if he had been running.

'Good daysir' said my aunt'and good-bye! Good day to you
tooma'am' said my auntturning suddenly upon his sister. 'Let
me see you ride a donkey over my green againand as sure as you
have a head upon your shouldersI'll knock your bonnet offand
tread upon it!'

It would require a painterand no common painter tooto depict my
aunt's face as she delivered herself of this very unexpected
sentimentand Miss Murdstone's face as she heard it. But the
manner of the speechno less than the matterwas so fierythat
Miss Murdstonewithout a word in answerdiscreetly put her arm
through her brother'sand walked haughtily out of the cottage; my
aunt remaining in the window looking after them; preparedI have
no doubtin case of the donkey's reappearanceto carry her threat
into instant execution.

No attempt at defiance being madehoweverher face gradually
relaxedand became so pleasantthat I was emboldened to kiss and
thank her; which I did with great heartinessand with both my arms
clasped round her neck. I then shook hands with Mr. Dickwho
shook hands with me a great many timesand hailed this happy close
of the proceedings with repeated bursts of laughter.


'You'll consider yourself guardianjointly with meof this child
Mr. Dick' said my aunt.

'I shall be delighted' said Mr. Dick'to be the guardian of
David's son.'

'Very good' returned my aunt'that's settled. I have been
thinkingdo you knowMr. Dickthat I might call him Trotwood?'

'Certainlycertainly. Call him Trotwoodcertainly' said Mr.
Dick. 'David's son's Trotwood.'

'Trotwood Copperfieldyou mean' returned my aunt.

'Yesto be sure. Yes. Trotwood Copperfield' said Mr. Dicka
little abashed.

My aunt took so kindly to the notionthat some ready-made clothes
which were purchased for me that afternoonwere marked 'Trotwood
Copperfield'in her own handwritingand in indelible marking-ink
before I put them on; and it was settled that all the other clothes
which were ordered to be made for me (a complete outfit was bespoke
that afternoon) should be marked in the same way.

Thus I began my new lifein a new nameand with everything new
about me. Now that the state of doubt was overI feltfor many
dayslike one in a dream. I never thought that I had a curious
couple of guardiansin my aunt and Mr. Dick. I never thought of
anything about myselfdistinctly. The two things clearest in my
mind werethat a remoteness had come upon the old Blunderstone
life - which seemed to lie in the haze of an immeasurable distance;
and that a curtain had for ever fallen on my life at Murdstone and
Grinby's. No one has ever raised that curtain since. I have
lifted it for a momenteven in this narrativewith a reluctant
handand dropped it gladly. The remembrance of that life is
fraught with so much pain to mewith so much mental suffering and
want of hopethat I have never had the courage even to examine how
long I was doomed to lead it. Whether it lasted for a yearor
moreor lessI do not know. I only know that it wasand ceased
to be; and that I have writtenand there I leave it.

CHAPTER 15
I MAKE ANOTHER BEGINNING

Mr. Dick and I soon became the best of friendsand very often
when his day's work was donewent out together to fly the great
kite. Every day of his life he had a long sitting at the Memorial
which never made the least progresshowever hard he labouredfor
King Charles the First always strayed into itsooner or laterand
then it was thrown asideand another one begun. The patience and
hope with which he bore these perpetual disappointmentsthe mild
perception he had that there was something wrong about King Charles
the Firstthe feeble efforts he made to keep him outand the
certainty with which he came inand tumbled the Memorial out of
all shapemade a deep impression on me. What Mr. Dick supposed
would come of the Memorialif it were completed; where he thought
it was to goor what he thought it was to do; he knew no more than
anybody elseI believe. Nor was it at all necessary that he
should trouble himself with such questionsfor if anything were
certain under the sunit was certain that the Memorial never would


be finished. It was quite an affecting sightI used to thinkto
see him with the kite when it was up a great height in the air.
What he had told mein his roomabout his belief in its
disseminating the statements pasted on itwhich were nothing but
old leaves of abortive Memorialsmight have been a fancy with him
sometimes; but not when he was outlooking up at the kite in the
skyand feeling it pull and tug at his hand. He never looked so
serene as he did then. I used to fancyas I sat by him of an
eveningon a green slopeand saw him watch the kite high in the
quiet airthat it lifted his mind out of its confusionand bore
it (such was my boyish thought) into the skies. As he wound the
string in and it came lower and lower down out of the beautiful
lightuntil it fluttered to the groundand lay there like a dead
thinghe seemed to wake gradually out of a dream; and I remember
to have seen him take it upand look about him in a lost wayas
if they had both come down togetherso that I pitied him with all
my heart.

While I advanced in friendship and intimacy with Mr. DickI did
not go backward in the favour of his staunch friendmy aunt. She
took so kindly to methatin the course of a few weeksshe
shortened my adopted name of Trotwood into Trot; and even
encouraged me to hopethat if I went on as I had begunI might
take equal rank in her affections with my sister Betsey Trotwood.

'Trot' said my aunt one eveningwhen the backgammon-board was
placed as usual for herself and Mr. Dick'we must not forget your
education.'

This was my only subject of anxietyand I felt quite delighted by
her referring to it.

'Should you like to go to school at Canterbury?' said my aunt.

I replied that I should like it very muchas it was so near her.

'Good' said my aunt. 'Should you like to go tomorrow?'

Being already no stranger to the general rapidity of my aunt's
evolutionsI was not surprised by the suddenness of the proposal
and said: 'Yes.'

'Good' said my aunt again. 'Janethire the grey pony and chaise
tomorrow morning at ten o'clockand pack up Master Trotwood's
clothes tonight.'

I was greatly elated by these orders; but my heart smote me for my
selfishnesswhen I witnessed their effect on Mr. Dickwho was so
low-spirited at the prospect of our separationand played so ill
in consequencethat my auntafter giving him several admonitory
raps on the knuckles with her dice-boxshut up the boardand
declined to play with him any more. Buton hearing from my aunt
that I should sometimes come over on a Saturdayand that he could
sometimes come and see me on a Wednesdayhe revived; and vowed to
make another kite for those occasionsof proportions greatly
surpassing the present one. In the morning he was downhearted
againand would have sustained himself by giving me all the money
he had in his possessiongold and silver tooif my aunt had not
interposedand limited the gift to five shillingswhichat his
earnest petitionwere afterwards increased to ten. We parted at
the garden-gate in a most affectionate mannerand Mr. Dick did not
go into the house until my aunt had driven me out of sight of it.

My auntwho was perfectly indifferent to public opiniondrove the


grey pony through Dover in a masterly manner; sitting high and
stiff like a state coachmankeeping a steady eye upon him wherever
he wentand making a point of not letting him have his own way in
any respect. When we came into the country roadshe permitted him
to relax a littlehowever; and looking at me down in a valley of
cushion by her sideasked me whether I was happy?

'Very happy indeedthank youaunt' I said.

She was much gratified; and both her hands being occupiedpatted
me on the head with her whip.

'Is it a large schoolaunt?' I asked.

'WhyI don't know' said my aunt. 'We are going to Mr.
Wickfield's first.'

'Does he keep a school?' I asked.

'NoTrot' said my aunt. 'He keeps an office.'

I asked for no more information about Mr. Wickfieldas she offered
noneand we conversed on other subjects until we came to
Canterburywhereas it was market-daymy aunt had a great
opportunity of insinuating the grey pony among cartsbaskets
vegetablesand huckster's goods. The hair-breadth turns and
twists we madedrew down upon us a variety of speeches from the
people standing aboutwhich were not always complimentary; but my
aunt drove on with perfect indifferenceand I dare say would have
taken her own way with as much coolness through an enemy's country.

At length we stopped before a very old house bulging out over the
road; a house with long low lattice-windows bulging out still
fartherand beams with carved heads on the ends bulging out too
so that I fancied the whole house was leaning forwardtrying to
see who was passing on the narrow pavement below. It was quite
spotless in its cleanliness. The old-fashioned brass knocker on
the low arched doorornamented with carved garlands of fruit and
flowerstwinkled like a star; the two stone steps descending to
the door were as white as if they had been covered with fair linen;
and all the angles and cornersand carvings and mouldingsand
quaint little panes of glassand quainter little windowsthough
as old as the hillswere as pure as any snow that ever fell upon
the hills.

When the pony-chaise stopped at the doorand my eyes were intent
upon the houseI saw a cadaverous face appear at a small window on
the ground floor (in a little round tower that formed one side of
the house)and quickly disappear. The low arched door then
openedand the face came out. It was quite as cadaverous as it
had looked in the windowthough in the grain of it there was that
tinge of red which is sometimes to be observed in the skins of
red-haired people. It belonged to a red-haired person - a youth of
fifteenas I take it nowbut looking much older - whose hair was
cropped as close as the closest stubble; who had hardly any
eyebrowsand no eyelashesand eyes of a red-brownso unsheltered
and unshadedthat I remember wondering how he went to sleep. He
was high-shouldered and bony; dressed in decent blackwith a white
wisp of a neckcloth; buttoned up to the throat; and had a long
lankskeleton handwhich particularly attracted my attentionas
he stood at the pony's headrubbing his chin with itand looking
up at us in the chaise.

'Is Mr. Wickfield at homeUriah Heep?' said my aunt.


'Mr. Wickfield's at homema'am' said Uriah Heep'if you'll
please to walk in there' - pointing with his long hand to the room
he meant.

We got out; and leaving him to hold the ponywent into a long low
parlour looking towards the streetfrom the window of which I
caught a glimpseas I went inof Uriah Heep breathing into the
pony's nostrilsand immediately covering them with his handas if
he were putting some spell upon him. Opposite to the tall old
chimney-piece were two portraits: one of a gentleman with grey hair
(though not by any means an old man) and black eyebrowswho was
looking over some papers tied together with red tape; the otherof
a ladywith a very placid and sweet expression of facewho was
looking at me.

I believe I was turning about in search of Uriah's picturewhen
a door at the farther end of the room openinga gentleman entered
at sight of whom I turned to the first-mentioned portrait againto
make quite sure that it had not come out of its frame. But it was
stationary; and as the gentleman advanced into the lightI saw
that he was some years older than when he had had his picture
painted.

'Miss Betsey Trotwood' said the gentleman'pray walk in. I was
engaged for a momentbut you'll excuse my being busy. You know my
motive. I have but one in life.'

Miss Betsey thanked himand we went into his roomwhich was
furnished as an officewith bookspaperstin boxesand so
forth. It looked into a gardenand had an iron safe let into the
wall; so immediately over the mantelshelfthat I wonderedas I
sat downhow the sweeps got round it when they swept the chimney.

'WellMiss Trotwood' said Mr. Wickfield; for I soon found that it
was heand that he was a lawyerand steward of the estates of a
rich gentleman of the county; 'what wind blows you here? Not an
ill windI hope?'

'No' replied my aunt. 'I have not come for any law.'

'That's rightma'am' said Mr. Wickfield. 'You had better come
for anything else.'
His hair was quite white nowthough his eyebrows were still black.
He had a very agreeable faceandI thoughtwas handsome. There
was a certain richness in his complexionwhich I had been long
accustomedunder Peggotty's tuitionto connect with port wine;
and I fancied it was in his voice tooand referred his growing
corpulency to the same cause. He was very cleanly dressedin a
blue coatstriped waistcoatand nankeen trousers; and his fine
frilled shirt and cambric neckcloth looked unusually soft and
whitereminding my strolling fancy (I call to mind) of the plumage
on the breast of a swan.

'This is my nephew' said my aunt.

'Wasn't aware you had oneMiss Trotwood' said Mr. Wickfield.

'My grand-nephewthat is to say' observed my aunt.

'Wasn't aware you had a grand-nephewI give you my word' said Mr.
Wickfield.

'I have adopted him' said my auntwith a wave of her hand


importing that his knowledge and his ignorance were all one to her
'and I have brought him hereto put to a school where he may be
thoroughly well taughtand well treated. Now tell me where that
school isand what it isand all about it.'

'Before I can advise you properly' said Mr. Wickfield - 'the old
questionyou know. What's your motive in this?'

'Deuce take the man!' exclaimed my aunt. 'Always fishing for
motiveswhen they're on the surface! Whyto make the child happy
and useful.'

'It must be a mixed motiveI think' said Mr. Wickfieldshaking
his head and smiling incredulously.

'A mixed fiddlestick' returned my aunt. 'You claim to have one
plain motive in all you do yourself. You don't supposeI hope
that you are the only plain dealer in the world?'

'Aybut I have only one motive in lifeMiss Trotwood' he
rejoinedsmiling. 'Other people have dozensscoreshundreds.
I have only one. There's the difference. Howeverthat's beside
the question. The best school? Whatever the motiveyou want the
best?'

My aunt nodded assent.

'At the best we have' said Mr. Wickfieldconsidering'your
nephew couldn't board just now.'

'But he could board somewhere elseI suppose?' suggested my aunt.

Mr. Wickfield thought I could. After a little discussionhe
proposed to take my aunt to the schoolthat she might see it and
judge for herself; alsoto take herwith the same objectto two
or three houses where he thought I could be boarded. My aunt
embracing the proposalwe were all three going out togetherwhen
he stopped and said:

'Our little friend here might have some motiveperhapsfor
objecting to the arrangements. I think we had better leave him
behind?'

My aunt seemed disposed to contest the point; but to facilitate
matters I said I would gladly remain behindif they pleased; and
returned into Mr. Wickfield's officewhere I sat down againin
the chair I had first occupiedto await their return.

It so happened that this chair was opposite a narrow passagewhich
ended in the little circular room where I had seen Uriah Heep's
pale face looking out of the window. Uriahhaving taken the pony
to a neighbouring stablewas at work at a desk in this roomwhich
had a brass frame on the top to hang paper uponand on which the
writing he was making a copy of was then hanging. Though his face
was towards meI thoughtfor some timethe writing being between
usthat he could not see me; but looking that way more
attentivelyit made me uncomfortable to observe thatevery now
and thenhis sleepless eyes would come below the writinglike two
red sunsand stealthily stare at me for I dare say a whole minute
at a timeduring which his pen wentor pretended to goas
cleverly as ever. I made several attempts to get out of their way

-such as standing on a chair to look at a map on the other side of
the roomand poring over the columns of a Kentish newspaper - but
they always attracted me back again; and whenever I looked towards

those two red sunsI was sure to find themeither just rising or
just setting.

At lengthmuch to my reliefmy aunt and Mr. Wickfield came back
after a pretty long absence. They were not so successful as I
could have wished; for though the advantages of the school were
undeniablemy aunt had not approved of any of the boarding-houses
proposed for me.

'It's very unfortunate' said my aunt. 'I don't know what to do
Trot.'

'It does happen unfortunately' said Mr. Wickfield. 'But I'll tell
you what you can doMiss Trotwood.'

'What's that?' inquired my aunt.

'Leave your nephew herefor the present. He's a quiet fellow. He
won't disturb me at all. It's a capital house for study. As quiet
as a monasteryand almost as roomy. Leave him here.'

My aunt evidently liked the offerthough she was delicate of
accepting it. So did I.
'ComeMiss Trotwood' said Mr. Wickfield. 'This is the way out of
the difficulty. It's only a temporary arrangementyou know. If
it don't act wellor don't quite accord with our mutual
conveniencehe can easily go to the right-about. There will be
time to find some better place for him in the meanwhile. You had
better determine to leave him here for the present!'

'I am very much obliged to you' said my aunt; 'and so is heI
see; but -'

'Come! I know what you mean' cried Mr. Wickfield. 'You shall not
be oppressed by the receipt of favoursMiss Trotwood. You may pay
for himif you like. We won't be hard about termsbut you shall
pay if you will.'

'On that understanding' said my aunt'though it doesn't lessen
the real obligationI shall be very glad to leave him.'

'Then come and see my little housekeeper' said Mr. Wickfield.

We accordingly went up a wonderful old staircase; with a balustrade
so broad that we might have gone up thatalmost as easily; and
into a shady old drawing-roomlighted by some three or four of the
quaint windows I had looked up at from the street: which had old
oak seats in themthat seemed to have come of the same trees as
the shining oak floorand the great beams in the ceiling. It was
a prettily furnished roomwith a piano and some lively furniture
in red and greenand some flowers. It seemed to be all old nooks
and corners; and in every nook and corner there was some queer
little tableor cupboardor bookcaseor seator something or
otherthat made me think there was not such another good corner in
the room; until I looked at the next oneand found it equal to it
if not better. On everything there was the same air of retirement
and cleanliness that marked the house outside.

Mr. Wickfield tapped at a door in a corner of the panelled wall
and a girl of about my own age came quickly out and kissed him. On
her faceI saw immediately the placid and sweet expression of the
lady whose picture had looked at me downstairs. It seemed to my
imagination as if the portrait had grown womanlyand the original
remained a child. Although her face was quite bright and happy


there was a tranquillity about itand about her - a quietgood
calm spirit - that I never have forgotten; that I shall never
forget. This was his little housekeeperhis daughter AgnesMr.
Wickfield said. When I heard how he said itand saw how he held
her handI guessed what the one motive of his life was.

She had a little basket-trifle hanging at her sidewith keys in
it; and she looked as staid and as discreet a housekeeper as the
old house could have. She listened to her father as he told her
about mewith a pleasant face; and when he had concludedproposed
to my aunt that we should go upstairs and see my room. We all went
togethershe before us: and a glorious old room it waswith more
oak beamsand diamond panes; and the broad balustrade going all
the way up to it.

I cannot call to mind where or whenin my childhoodI had seen a
stained glass window in a church. Nor do I recollect its subject.
But I know that when I saw her turn roundin the grave light of
the old staircaseand wait for usaboveI thought of that
window; and I associated something of its tranquil brightness with
Agnes Wickfield ever afterwards.

My aunt was as happy as I wasin the arrangement made for me; and
we went down to the drawing-room againwell pleased and gratified.
As she would not hear of staying to dinnerlest she should by any
chance fail to arrive at home with the grey pony before dark; and
as I apprehend Mr. Wickfield knew her too well to argue any point
with her; some lunch was provided for her thereand Agnes went
back to her governessand Mr. Wickfield to his office. So we were
left to take leave of one another without any restraint.

She told me that everything would be arranged for me by Mr.
Wickfieldand that I should want for nothingand gave me the
kindest words and the best advice.

'Trot' said my aunt in conclusion'be a credit to yourselfto
meand Mr. Dickand Heaven be with you!'

I was greatly overcomeand could only thank heragain and again
and send my love to Mr. Dick.

'Never' said my aunt'be mean in anything; never be false; never
be cruel. Avoid those three vicesTrotand I can always be
hopeful of you.'

I promisedas well as I couldthat I would not abuse her kindness
or forget her admonition.

'The pony's at the door' said my aunt'and I am off! Stay here.'
With these words she embraced me hastilyand went out of the room
shutting the door after her. At first I was startled by so abrupt
a departureand almost feared I had displeased her; but when I
looked into the streetand saw how dejectedly she got into the
chaiseand drove away without looking upI understood her better
and did not do her that injustice.

By five o'clockwhich was Mr. Wickfield's dinner-hourI had
mustered up my spirits againand was ready for my knife and fork.
The cloth was only laid for us two; but Agnes was waiting in the
drawing-room before dinnerwent down with her fatherand sat
opposite to him at table. I doubted whether he could have dined
without her.

We did not stay thereafter dinnerbut came upstairs into the


drawing-room again: in one snug corner of whichAgnes set glasses
for her fatherand a decanter of port wine. I thought he would
have missed its usual flavourif it had been put there for him by
any other hands.

There he sattaking his wineand taking a good deal of itfor
two hours; while Agnes played on the pianoworkedand talked to
him and me. He wasfor the most partgay and cheerful with us;
but sometimes his eyes rested on herand he fell into a brooding
stateand was silent. She always observed this quicklyI
thoughtand always roused him with a question or caress. Then he
came out of his meditationand drank more wine.

Agnes made the teaand presided over it; and the time passed away
after itas after dinneruntil she went to bed; when her father
took her in his arms and kissed herandshe being goneordered
candles in his office. Then I went to bed too.

But in the course of the evening I had rambled down to the door
and a little way along the streetthat I might have another peep
at the old housesand the grey Cathedral; and might think of my
coming through that old city on my journeyand of my passing the
very house I lived inwithout knowing it. As I came backI saw
Uriah Heep shutting up the office; and feeling friendly towards
everybodywent in and spoke to himand at partinggave him my
hand. But ohwhat a clammy hand his was! as ghostly to the touch
as to the sight! I rubbed mine afterwardsto warm itAND TO RUB
HIS OFF.

It was such an uncomfortable handthatwhen I went to my roomit
was still cold and wet upon my memory. Leaning out of the window
and seeing one of the faces on the beam-ends looking at me
sidewaysI fancied it was Uriah Heep got up there somehowand
shut him out in a hurry.

CHAPTER 16
I AM A NEW BOY IN MORE SENSES THAN ONE

Next morningafter breakfastI entered on school life again. I
wentaccompanied by Mr. Wickfieldto the scene of my future
studies - a grave building in a courtyardwith a learned air about
it that seemed very well suited to the stray rooks and jackdaws who
came down from the Cathedral towers to walk with a clerkly bearing
on the grass-plot - and was introduced to my new masterDoctor
Strong.

Doctor Strong looked almost as rustyto my thinkingas the tall
iron rails and gates outside the house; and almost as stiff and
heavy as the great stone urns that flanked themand were set up
on the top of the red-brick wallat regular distances all round
the courtlike sublimated skittlesfor Time to play at. He was
in his library (I mean Doctor Strong was)with his clothes not
particularly well brushedand his hair not particularly well
combed; his knee-smalls unbraced; his long black gaiters
unbuttoned; and his shoes yawning like two caverns on the
hearth-rug. Turning upon me a lustreless eyethat reminded me of
a long-forgotten blind old horse who once used to crop the grass
and tumble over the gravesin Blunderstone churchyardhe said he
was glad to see me: and then he gave me his hand; which I didn't
know what to do withas it did nothing for itself.


Butsitting at worknot far from Doctor Strongwas a very pretty
young lady - whom he called Annieand who was his daughterI
supposed - who got me out of my difficulty by kneeling down to put
Doctor Strong's shoes onand button his gaiterswhich she did
with great cheerfulness and quickness. When she had finishedand
we were going out to the schoolroomI was much surprised to hear
Mr. Wickfieldin bidding her good morningaddress her as 'Mrs.
Strong'; and I was wondering could she be Doctor Strong's son's
wifeor could she be Mrs. Doctor Strongwhen Doctor Strong
himself unconsciously enlightened me.

'By the byWickfield' he saidstopping in a passage with his
hand on my shoulder; 'you have not found any suitable provision for
my wife's cousin yet?'

'No' said Mr. Wickfield. 'No. Not yet.'

'I could wish it done as soon as it can be doneWickfield' said
Doctor Strong'for Jack Maldon is needyand idle; and of those
two bad thingsworse things sometimes come. What does Doctor
Watts say' he addedlooking at meand moving his head to the
time of his quotation'"Satan finds some mischief stillfor idle
hands to do."'

'EgadDoctor' returned Mr. Wickfield'if Doctor Watts knew
mankindhe might have writtenwith as much truthSatan finds
some mischief still, for busy hands to do.The busy people achieve
their full share of mischief in the worldyou may rely upon it.
What have the people been aboutwho have been the busiest in
getting moneyand in getting powerthis century or two? No
mischief?'

'Jack Maldon will never be very busy in getting eitherI expect'
said Doctor Strongrubbing his chin thoughtfully.

'Perhaps not' said Mr. Wickfield; 'and you bring me back to the
questionwith an apology for digressing. NoI have not been able
to dispose of Mr. Jack Maldon yet. I believe' he said this with
some hesitation'I penetrate your motiveand it makes the thing
more difficult.'

'My motive' returned Doctor Strong'is to make some suitable
provision for a cousinand an old playfellowof Annie's.'

'YesI know' said Mr. Wickfield; 'at home or abroad.'

'Aye!' replied the Doctorapparently wondering why he emphasized
those words so much. 'At home or abroad.'

'Your own expressionyou know' said Mr. Wickfield. 'Or abroad.'

'Surely' the Doctor answered. 'Surely. One or other.'

'One or other? Have you no choice?' asked Mr. Wickfield.

'No' returned the Doctor.

'No?' with astonishment.

'Not the least.'

'No motive' said Mr. Wickfield'for meaning abroadand not at
home?'


'No' returned the Doctor.

'I am bound to believe youand of course I do believe you' said
Mr. Wickfield. 'It might have simplified my office very muchif
I had known it before. But I confess I entertained another
impression.'

Doctor Strong regarded him with a puzzled and doubting lookwhich
almost immediately subsided into a smile that gave me great
encouragement; for it was full of amiability and sweetnessand
there was a simplicity in itand indeed in his whole mannerwhen
the studiouspondering frost upon it was got throughvery
attractive and hopeful to a young scholar like me. Repeating 'no'
and 'not the least'and other short assurances to the same
purportDoctor Strong jogged on before usat a queeruneven
pace; and we followed: Mr. Wickfieldlooking graveI observed
and shaking his head to himselfwithout knowing that I saw him.

The schoolroom was a pretty large hallon the quietest side of the
houseconfronted by the stately stare of some half-dozen of the
great urnsand commanding a peep of an old secluded garden
belonging to the Doctorwhere the peaches were ripening on the
sunny south wall. There were two great aloesin tubson the turf
outside the windows; the broad hard leaves of which plant (looking
as if they were made of painted tin) have ever sinceby
associationbeen symbolical to me of silence and retirement.
About five-and-twenty boys were studiously engaged at their books
when we went inbut they rose to give the Doctor good morningand
remained standing when they saw Mr. Wickfield and me.

'A new boyyoung gentlemen' said the Doctor; 'Trotwood
Copperfield.'

One Adamswho was the head-boythen stepped out of his place and
welcomed me. He looked like a young clergymanin his white
cravatbut he was very affable and good-humoured; and he showed me
my placeand presented me to the mastersin a gentlemanly way
that would have put me at my easeif anything could.

It seemed to me so longhoweversince I had been among such boys
or among any companions of my own ageexcept Mick Walker and Mealy
Potatoesthat I felt as strange as ever I have done in my life.
I was so conscious of having passed through scenes of which they
could have no knowledgeand of having acquired experiences foreign
to my ageappearanceand condition as one of themthat I half
believed it was an imposture to come there as an ordinary little
schoolboy. I had becomein the Murdstone and Grinby timehowever
short or long it may have beenso unused to the sports and games
of boysthat I knew I was awkward and inexperienced in the
commonest things belonging to them. Whatever I had learnthad so
slipped away from me in the sordid cares of my life from day to
nightthat nowwhen I was examined about what I knewI knew
nothingand was put into the lowest form of the school. But
troubled as I wasby my want of boyish skilland of book-learning
tooI was made infinitely more uncomfortable by the consideration
thatin what I did knowI was much farther removed from my
companions than in what I did not. My mind ran upon what they
would thinkif they knew of my familiar acquaintance with the
King's Bench Prison? Was there anything about me which would
reveal my proceedings in connexion with the Micawber family - all
those pawningsand sellingsand suppers - in spite of myself?
Suppose some of the boys had seen me coming through Canterbury
wayworn and raggedand should find me out? What would they say
who made so light of moneyif they could know how I had scraped my


halfpence togetherfor the purchase of my daily saveloy and beer
or my slices of pudding? How would it affect themwho were so
innocent of London lifeand London streetsto discover how
knowing I was (and was ashamed to be) in some of the meanest phases
of both? All this ran in my head so muchon that first day at
Doctor Strong'sthat I felt distrustful of my slightest look and
gesture; shrunk within myself whensoever I was approached by one of
my new schoolfellows; and hurried off the minute school was over
afraid of committing myself in my response to any friendly notice
or advance.

But there was such an influence in Mr. Wickfield's old housethat
when I knocked at itwith my new school-books under my armI
began to feel my uneasiness softening away. As I went up to my
airy old roomthe grave shadow of the staircase seemed to fall
upon my doubts and fearsand to make the past more indistinct. I
sat theresturdily conning my booksuntil dinner-time (we were
out of school for good at three); and went downhopeful of
becoming a passable sort of boy yet.

Agnes was in the drawing-roomwaiting for her fatherwho was
detained by someone in his office. She met me with her pleasant
smileand asked me how I liked the school. I told her I should
like it very muchI hoped; but I was a little strange to it at
first.

'You have never been to school' I said'have you?'
'Oh yes! Every day.'

'Ahbut you mean hereat your own home?'

'Papa couldn't spare me to go anywhere else' she answeredsmiling
and shaking her head. 'His housekeeper must be in his houseyou
know.'

'He is very fond of youI am sure' I said.

She nodded 'Yes' and went to the door to listen for his coming up
that she might meet him on the stairs. Butas he was not there
she came back again.

'Mama has been dead ever since I was born' she saidin her quiet
way. 'I only know her picturedownstairs. I saw you looking at
it yesterday. Did you think whose it was?'

I told her yesbecause it was so like herself.

'Papa says sotoo' said Agnespleased. 'Hark! That's papa
now!'

Her bright calm face lighted up with pleasure as she went to meet
himand as they came inhand in hand. He greeted me cordially;
and told me I should certainly be happy under Doctor Strongwho
was one of the gentlest of men.

'There may be someperhaps - I don't know that there are - who
abuse his kindness' said Mr. Wickfield. 'Never be one of those
Trotwoodin anything. He is the least suspicious of mankind; and
whether that's a meritor whether it's a blemishit deserves
consideration in all dealings with the Doctorgreat or small.'

He spokeI thoughtas if he were wearyor dissatisfied with
something; but I did not pursue the question in my mindfor dinner
was just then announcedand we went down and took the same seats


as before.

We had scarcely done sowhen Uriah Heep put in his red head and
his lank hand at the doorand said:

'Here's Mr. Maldon begs the favour of a wordsir.'

'I am but this moment quit of Mr. Maldon' said his master.

'Yessir' returned Uriah; 'but Mr. Maldon has come backand he
begs the favour of a word.'

As he held the door open with his handUriah looked at meand
looked at Agnesand looked at the dishesand looked at the
platesand looked at every object in the roomI thought- yet
seemed to look at nothing; he made such an appearance all the while
of keeping his red eyes dutifully on his master.
'I beg your pardon. It's only to sayon reflection' observed a
voice behind Uriahas Uriah's head was pushed awayand the
speaker's substituted - 'pray excuse me for this intrusion - that
as it seems I have no choice in the matterthe sooner I go abroad
the better. My cousin Annie did saywhen we talked of itthat
she liked to have her friends within reach rather than to have them
banishedand the old Doctor -'

'Doctor Strongwas that?' Mr. Wickfield interposedgravely.

'Doctor Strongof course' returned the other; 'I call him the old
Doctor; it's all the sameyou know.'

'I don't know' returned Mr. Wickfield.

'WellDoctor Strong' said the other - 'Doctor Strong was of the
same mindI believed. But as it appears from the course you take
with me he has changed his mindwhy there's no more to be said
except that the sooner I am offthe better. ThereforeI thought
I'd come back and saythat the sooner I am off the better. When
a plunge is to be made into the waterit's of no use lingering on
the bank.'

'There shall be as little lingering as possiblein your caseMr.
Maldonyou may depend upon it' said Mr. Wickfield.

'Thank'ee' said the other. 'Much obliged. I don't want to look
a gift-horse in the mouthwhich is not a gracious thing to do;
otherwiseI dare saymy cousin Annie could easily arrange it in
her own way. I suppose Annie would only have to say to the old
Doctor -'

'Meaning that Mrs. Strong would only have to say to her husband do
I follow you?' said Mr. Wickfield.

'Quite so' returned the other'- would only have to saythat she
wanted such and such a thing to be so and so; and it would be so
and soas a matter of course.'

'And why as a matter of courseMr. Maldon?' asked Mr. Wickfield
sedately eating his dinner.

'Whybecause Annie's a charming young girland the old Doctor -
Doctor StrongI mean - is not quite a charming young boy' said
Mr. Jack Maldonlaughing. 'No offence to anybodyMr. Wickfield.
I only mean that I suppose some compensation is fair and reasonable
in that sort of marriage.'


'Compensation to the ladysir?' asked Mr. Wickfield gravely.

'To the ladysir' Mr. Jack Maldon answeredlaughing. But
appearing to remark that Mr. Wickfield went on with his dinner in
the same sedateimmovable mannerand that there was no hope of
making him relax a muscle of his facehe added:
'HoweverI have said what I came to sayandwith another apology
for this intrusionI may take myself off. Of course I shall
observe your directionsin considering the matter as one to be
arranged between you and me solelyand not to be referred toup
at the Doctor's.'

'Have you dined?' asked Mr. Wickfieldwith a motion of his hand
towards the table.

'Thank'ee. I am going to dine' said Mr. Maldon'with my cousin
Annie. Good-bye!'

Mr. Wickfieldwithout risinglooked after him thoughtfully as he
went out. He was rather a shallow sort of young gentlemanI
thoughtwith a handsome facea rapid utteranceand a confident
bold air. And this was the first I ever saw of Mr. Jack Maldon;
whom I had not expected to see so soonwhen I heard the Doctor
speak of him that morning.

When we had dinedwe went upstairs againwhere everything went on
exactly as on the previous day. Agnes set the glasses and
decanters in the same cornerand Mr. Wickfield sat down to drink
and drank a good deal. Agnes played the piano to himsat by him
and worked and talkedand played some games at dominoes with me.
In good time she made tea; and afterwardswhen I brought down my
bookslooked into themand showed me what she knew of them (which
was no slight matterthough she said it was)and what was the
best way to learn and understand them. I see herwith her modest
orderlyplacid mannerand I hear her beautiful calm voiceas I
write these words. The influence for all goodwhich she came to
exercise over me at a later timebegins already to descend upon my
breast. I love little Em'lyand I don't love Agnes - nonot at
all in that way - but I feel that there are goodnesspeaceand
truthwherever Agnes is; and that the soft light of the coloured
window in the churchseen long agofalls on her alwaysand on me
when I am near herand on everything around.

The time having come for her withdrawal for the nightand she
having left usI gave Mr. Wickfield my handpreparatory to going
away myself. But he checked me and said: 'Should you like to stay
with usTrotwoodor to go elsewhere?'

'To stay' I answeredquickly.

'You are sure?'

'If you please. If I may!'

'Whyit's but a dull life that we lead hereboyI am afraid' he
said.

'Not more dull for me than Agnessir. Not dull at all!'

'Than Agnes' he repeatedwalking slowly to the great
chimney-pieceand leaning against it. 'Than Agnes!'

He had drank wine that evening (or I fancied it)until his eyes


were bloodshot. Not that I could see them nowfor they were cast
downand shaded by his hand; but I had noticed them a little while
before.

'Now I wonder' he muttered'whether my Agnes tires of me. When
should I ever tire of her! But that's differentthat's quite
different.'

He was musingnot speaking to me; so I remained quiet.

'A dull old house' he said'and a monotonous life; but I must
have her near me. I must keep her near me. If the thought that I
may die and leave my darlingor that my darling may die and leave
mecomes like a spectreto distress my happiest hoursand is
only to be drowned in -'

He did not supply the word; but pacing slowly to the place where he
had satand mechanically going through the action of pouring wine
from the empty decanterset it down and paced back again.

'If it is miserable to bearwhen she is here' he said'what
would it beand she away? Nonono. I cannot try that.'

He leaned against the chimney-piecebrooding so long that I could
not decide whether to run the risk of disturbing him by goingor
to remain quietly where I wasuntil he should come out of his
reverie. At length he aroused himselfand looked about the room
until his eyes encountered mine.

'Stay with usTrotwoodeh?' he said in his usual mannerand as
if he were answering something I had just said. 'I am glad of it.
You are company to us both. It is wholesome to have you here.
Wholesome for mewholesome for Agneswholesome perhaps for all of
us.'

'I am sure it is for mesir' I said. 'I am so glad to be here.'

'That's a fine fellow!' said Mr. Wickfield. 'As long as you are
glad to be hereyou shall stay here.' He shook hands with me upon
itand clapped me on the back; and told me that when I had
anything to do at night after Agnes had left usor when I wished
to read for my own pleasureI was free to come down to his room
if he were there and if I desired it for company's sakeand to sit
with him. I thanked him for his consideration; andas he went
down soon afterwardsand I was not tiredwent down toowith a
book in my handto avail myselffor half-an-hourof his
permission.

Butseeing a light in the little round officeand immediately
feeling myself attracted towards Uriah Heepwho had a sort of
fascination for meI went in there instead. I found Uriah reading
a great fat bookwith such demonstrative attentionthat his lank
forefinger followed up every line as he readand made clammy
tracks along the page (or so I fully believed) like a snail.

'You are working late tonightUriah' says I.

'YesMaster Copperfield' says Uriah.

As I was getting on the stool oppositeto talk to him more
convenientlyI observed that he had not such a thing as a smile
about himand that he could only widen his mouth and make two hard
creases down his cheeksone on each sideto stand for one.


'I am not doing office-workMaster Copperfield' said Uriah.

'What workthen?' I asked.

'I am improving my legal knowledgeMaster Copperfield' said
Uriah. 'I am going through Tidd's Practice. Ohwhat a writer Mr.
Tidd isMaster Copperfield!'

My stool was such a tower of observationthat as I watched him
reading on againafter this rapturous exclamationand following
up the lines with his forefingerI observed that his nostrils
which were thin and pointedwith sharp dints in themhad a
singular and most uncomfortable way of expanding and contracting
themselves - that they seemed to twinkle instead of his eyeswhich
hardly ever twinkled at all.

'I suppose you are quite a great lawyer?' I saidafter looking at
him for some time.

'MeMaster Copperfield?' said Uriah. 'Ohno! I'm a very umble
person.'

It was no fancy of mine about his handsI observed; for he
frequently ground the palms against each other as if to squeeze
them dry and warmbesides often wiping themin a stealthy wayon
his pocket-handkerchief.

'I am well aware that I am the umblest person going' said Uriah
Heepmodestly; 'let the other be where he may. My mother is
likewise a very umble person. We live in a numble abodeMaster
Copperfieldbut have much to be thankful for. My father's former
calling was umble. He was a sexton.'

'What is he now?' I asked.

'He is a partaker of glory at presentMaster Copperfield' said
Uriah Heep. 'But we have much to be thankful for. How much have
I to be thankful for in living with Mr. Wickfield!'

I asked Uriah if he had been with Mr. Wickfield long?

'I have been with himgoing on four yearMaster Copperfield'
said Uriah; shutting up his bookafter carefully marking the place
where he had left off. 'Since a year after my father's death. How
much have I to be thankful forin that! How much have I to be
thankful forin Mr. Wickfield's kind intention to give me my
articleswhich would otherwise not lay within the umble means of
mother and self!'

'Thenwhen your articled time is overyou'll be a regular lawyer
I suppose?' said I.

'With the blessing of ProvidenceMaster Copperfield' returned
Uriah.

'Perhaps you'll be a partner in Mr. Wickfield's businessone of
these days' I saidto make myself agreeable; 'and it will be
Wickfield and Heepor Heep late Wickfield.'

'Oh noMaster Copperfield' returned Uriahshaking his head'I
am much too umble for that!'

He certainly did look uncommonly like the carved face on the beam
outside my windowas he satin his humilityeyeing me sideways


with his mouth widenedand the creases in his cheeks.


'Mr. Wickfield is a most excellent manMaster Copperfield' said
Uriah. 'If you have known him longyou know itI am suremuch
better than I can inform you.'


I replied that I was certain he was; but that I had not known him
long myselfthough he was a friend of my aunt's.


'OhindeedMaster Copperfield' said Uriah. 'Your aunt is a
sweet ladyMaster Copperfield!'


He had a way of writhing when he wanted to express enthusiasm
which was very ugly; and which diverted my attention from the
compliment he had paid my relationto the snaky twistings of his
throat and body.


'A sweet ladyMaster Copperfield!' said Uriah Heep. 'She has a
great admiration for Miss AgnesMaster CopperfieldI believe?'


I said'Yes' boldly; not that I knew anything about itHeaven
forgive me!


'I hope you havetooMaster Copperfield' said Uriah. 'But I am
sure you must have.'


'Everybody must have' I returned.


'Ohthank youMaster Copperfield' said Uriah Heep'for that
remark! It is so true! Umble as I amI know it is so true! Oh
thank youMaster Copperfield!'
He writhed himself quite off his stool in the excitement of his
feelingsandbeing offbegan to make arrangements for going
home.


'Mother will be expecting me' he saidreferring to a pale
inexpressive-faced watch in his pocket'and getting uneasy; for
though we are very umbleMaster Copperfieldwe are much attached
to one another. If you would come and see usany afternoonand
take a cup of tea at our lowly dwellingmother would be as proud
of your company as I should be.'


I said I should be glad to come.


'Thank youMaster Copperfield' returned Uriahputting his book
away upon the shelf - 'I suppose you stop heresome timeMaster
Copperfield?'


I said I was going to be brought up thereI believedas long as
I remained at school.


'Ohindeed!' exclaimed Uriah. 'I should think YOU would come into
the business at lastMaster Copperfield!'


I protested that I had no views of that sortand that no such
scheme was entertained in my behalf by anybody; but Uriah insisted
on blandly replying to all my assurances'OhyesMaster
CopperfieldI should think you wouldindeed!' and'Ohindeed
Master CopperfieldI should think you wouldcertainly!' over and
over again. Beingat lastready to leave the office for the
nighthe asked me if it would suit my convenience to have the
light put out; and on my answering 'Yes' instantly extinguished
it. After shaking hands with me - his hand felt like a fishin
the dark - he opened the door into the street a very littleand



crept outand shut itleaving me to grope my way back into the
house: which cost me some trouble and a fall over his stool. This
was the proximate causeI supposeof my dreaming about himfor
what appeared to me to be half the night; and dreamingamong other
thingsthat he had launched Mr. Peggotty's house on a piratical
expeditionwith a black flag at the mastheadbearing the
inscription 'Tidd's Practice'under which diabolical ensign he was
carrying me and little Em'ly to the Spanish Mainto be drowned.

I got a little the better of my uneasiness when I went to school
next dayand a good deal the better next dayand so shook it off
by degreesthat in less than a fortnight I was quite at homeand
happyamong my new companions. I was awkward enough in their
gamesand backward enough in their studies; but custom would
improve me in the first respectI hopedand hard work in the
second. AccordinglyI went to work very hardboth in play and in
earnestand gained great commendation. Andin a very little
whilethe Murdstone and Grinby life became so strange to me that
I hardly believed in itwhile my present life grew so familiar
that I seemed to have been leading it a long time.

Doctor Strong's was an excellent school; as different from Mr.
Creakle's as good is from evil. It was very gravely and decorously
orderedand on a sound system; with an appealin everythingto
the honour and good faith of the boysand an avowed intention to
rely on their possession of those qualities unless they proved
themselves unworthy of itwhich worked wonders. We all felt that
we had a part in the management of the placeand in sustaining its
character and dignity. Hencewe soon became warmly attached to it

-I am sure I did for oneand I never knewin all my timeof any
other boy being otherwise - and learnt with a good willdesiring
to do it credit. We had noble games out of hoursand plenty of
liberty; but even thenas I rememberwe were well spoken of in
the townand rarely did any disgraceby our appearance or manner
to the reputation of Doctor Strong and Doctor Strong's boys.
Some of the higher scholars boarded in the Doctor's houseand
through them I learnedat second handsome particulars of the
Doctor's history - ashow he had not yet been married twelve
months to the beautiful young lady I had seen in the studywhom he
had married for love; for she had not a sixpenceand had a world
of poor relations (so our fellows said) ready to swarm the Doctor
out of house and home. Alsohow the Doctor's cogitating manner
was attributable to his being always engaged in looking out for
Greek roots; whichin my innocence and ignoranceI supposed to be
a botanical furor on the Doctor's partespecially as he always
looked at the ground when he walked aboutuntil I understood that
they were roots of wordswith a view to a new Dictionary which he
had in contemplation. Adamsour head-boywho had a turn for
mathematicshad made a calculationI was informedof the time
this Dictionary would take in completingon the Doctor's planand
at the Doctor's rate of going. He considered that it might be done
in one thousand six hundred and forty-nine yearscounting from the
Doctor's lastor sixty-secondbirthday.

But the Doctor himself was the idol of the whole school: and it
must have been a badly composed school if he had been anything
elsefor he was the kindest of men; with a simple faith in him
that might have touched the stone hearts of the very urns upon the
wall. As he walked up and down that part of the courtyard which
was at the side of the housewith the stray rooks and jackdaws
looking after him with their heads cocked slylyas if they knew
how much more knowing they were in worldly affairs than heif any
sort of vagabond could only get near enough to his creaking shoes


to attract his attention to one sentence of a tale of distress
that vagabond was made for the next two days. It was so notorious
in the housethat the masters and head-boys took pains to cut
these marauders off at anglesand to get out of windowsand turn
them out of the courtyardbefore they could make the Doctor aware
of their presence; which was sometimes happily effected within a
few yards of himwithout his knowing anything of the matteras he
jogged to and fro. Outside his own domainand unprotectedhe was
a very sheep for the shearers. He would have taken his gaiters off
his legsto give away. In factthere was a story current among
us (I have no ideaand never hadon what authoritybut I have
believed it for so many years that I feel quite certain it is
true)that on a frosty dayone winter-timehe actually did
bestow his gaiters on a beggar-womanwho occasioned some scandal
in the neighbourhood by exhibiting a fine infant from door to door
wrapped in those garmentswhich were universally recognizedbeing
as well known in the vicinity as the Cathedral. The legend added
that the only person who did not identify them was the Doctor
himselfwhowhen they were shortly afterwards displayed at the
door of a little second-hand shop of no very good reputewhere
such things were taken in exchange for ginwas more than once
observed to handle them approvinglyas if admiring some curious
novelty in the patternand considering them an improvement on his
own.

It was very pleasant to see the Doctor with his pretty young wife.
He had a fatherlybenignant way of showing his fondness for her
which seemed in itself to express a good man. I often saw them
walking in the garden where the peaches wereand I sometimes had
a nearer observation of them in the study or the parlour. She
appeared to me to take great care of the Doctorand to like him
very muchthough I never thought her vitally interested in the
Dictionary: some cumbrous fragments of which work the Doctor always
carried in his pocketsand in the lining of his hatand generally
seemed to be expounding to her as they walked about.

I saw a good deal of Mrs. Strongboth because she had taken a
liking for me on the morning of my introduction to the Doctorand
was always afterwards kind to meand interested in me; and because
she was very fond of Agnesand was often backwards and forwards at
our house. There was a curious constraint between her and Mr.
WickfieldI thought (of whom she seemed to be afraid)that never
wore off. When she came there of an eveningshe always shrunk
from accepting his escort homeand ran away with me instead. And
sometimesas we were running gaily across the Cathedral yard
togetherexpecting to meet nobodywe would meet Mr. Jack Maldon
who was always surprised to see us.

Mrs. Strong's mama was a lady I took great delight in. Her name
was Mrs. Markleham; but our boys used to call her the Old Soldier
on account of her generalshipand the skill with which she
marshalled great forces of relations against the Doctor. She was
a littlesharp-eyed womanwho used to wearwhen she was dressed
one unchangeable capornamented with some artificial flowersand
two artificial butterflies supposed to be hovering above the
flowers. There was a superstition among us that this cap had come
from Franceand could only originate in the workmanship of that
ingenious nation: but all I certainly know about itisthat it
always made its appearance of an eveningwheresoever Mrs.
Markleham made HER appearance; that it was carried about to
friendly meetings in a Hindoo basket; that the butterflies had the
gift of trembling constantly; and that they improved the shining
hours at Doctor Strong's expenselike busy bees.


I observed the Old Soldier - not to adopt the name disrespectfully

-to pretty good advantageon a night which is made memorable to
me by something else I shall relate. It was the night of a little
party at the Doctor'swhich was given on the occasion of Mr. Jack
Maldon's departure for Indiawhither he was going as a cadetor
something of that kind: Mr. Wickfield having at length arranged the
business. It happened to be the Doctor's birthdaytoo. We had
had a holidayhad made presents to him in the morninghad made a
speech to him through the head-boyand had cheered him until we
were hoarseand until he had shed tears. And nowin the evening
Mr. WickfieldAgnesand Iwent to have tea with him in his
private capacity.
Mr. Jack Maldon was therebefore us. Mrs. Strongdressed in
whitewith cherry-coloured ribbonswas playing the pianowhen we
went in; and he was leaning over her to turn the leaves. The clear
red and white of her complexion was not so blooming and flower-like
as usualI thoughtwhen she turned round; but she looked very
prettyWonderfully pretty.

'I have forgottenDoctor' said Mrs. Strong's mamawhen we were
seated'to pay you the compliments of the day - though they are
as you may supposevery far from being mere compliments in my
case. Allow me to wish you many happy returns.'

'I thank youma'am' replied the Doctor.

'Manymanymanyhappy returns' said the Old Soldier. 'Not only
for your own sakebut for Annie'sand John Maldon'sand many
other people's. It seems but yesterday to meJohnwhen you were
a little creaturea head shorter than Master Copperfieldmaking
baby love to Annie behind the gooseberry bushes in the
back-garden.'

'My dear mama' said Mrs. Strong'never mind that now.'

'Anniedon't be absurd' returned her mother. 'If you are to
blush to hear of such things now you are an old married womanwhen
are you not to blush to hear of them?'

'Old?' exclaimed Mr. Jack Maldon. 'Annie? Come!'

'YesJohn' returned the Soldier. 'Virtuallyan old married
woman. Although not old by years - for when did you ever hear me
sayor who has ever heard me saythat a girl of twenty was old by
years! - your cousin is the wife of the Doctorandas suchwhat
I have described her. It is well for youJohnthat your cousin
is the wife of the Doctor. You have found in him an influential
and kind friendwho will be kinder yetI venture to predictif
you deserve it. I have no false pride. I never hesitate to admit
franklythat there are some members of our family who want a
friend. You were one yourselfbefore your cousin's influence
raised up one for you.'

The Doctorin the goodness of his heartwaved his hand as if to
make light of itand save Mr. Jack Maldon from any further
reminder. But Mrs. Markleham changed her chair for one next the
Doctor'sand putting her fan on his coat-sleevesaid:

'Noreallymy dear Doctoryou must excuse me if I appear to
dwell on this ratherbecause I feel so very strongly. I call it
quite my monomaniait is such a subject of mine. You are a
blessing to us. You really are a Boonyou know.'


'Nonsensenonsense' said the Doctor.

'NonoI beg your pardon' retorted the Old Soldier. 'With
nobody presentbut our dear and confidential friend Mr. Wickfield
I cannot consent to be put down. I shall begin to assert the
privileges of a mother-in-lawif you go on like thatand scold
you. I am perfectly honest and outspoken. What I am sayingis
what I said when you first overpowered me with surprise - you
remember how surprised I was? - by proposing for Annie. Not that
there was anything so very much out of the wayin the mere fact of
the proposal - it would be ridiculous to say that! - but because
you having known her poor fatherand having known her from a baby
six months oldI hadn't thought of you in such a light at allor
indeed as a marrying man in any way- simply thatyou know.'

'Ayeaye' returned the Doctorgood-humouredly. 'Never mind.'

'But I DO mind' said the Old Soldierlaying her fan upon his
lips. 'I mind very much. I recall these things that I may be
contradicted if I am wrong. Well! Then I spoke to Annieand I
told her what had happened. I saidMy dear, here's Doctor Strong
has positively been and made you the subject of a handsome
declaration and an offer.Did I press it in the least? No. I
saidNow, Annie, tell me the truth this moment; is your heart
free?Mama,she said cryingI am extremely young- which was
perfectly true - "and I hardly know if I have a heart at all."
Then, my dear,I saidyou may rely upon it, it's free. At all
events, my love,said IDoctor Strong is in an agitated state of
mind, and must be answered. He cannot be kept in his present state
of suspense.Mama,said Anniestill cryingwould he be
unhappy without me? If he would, I honour and respect him so much,
that I think I will have him.So it was settled. And thenand
not till thenI said to AnnieAnnie, Doctor Strong will not only
be your husband, but he will represent your late father: he will
represent the head of our family, he will represent the wisdom and
station, and I may say the means, of our family; and will be, in
short, a Boon to it.I used the word at the timeand I have used
it againtoday. If I have any merit it is consistency.'

The daughter had sat quite silent and still during this speech
with her eyes fixed on the ground; her cousin standing near her
and looking on the ground too. She now said very softlyin a
trembling voice:

'MamaI hope you have finished?'
'Nomy dear Annie' returned the Old Soldier'I have not quite
finished. Since you ask memy loveI reply that I have not. I
complain that you really are a little unnatural towards your own
family; andas it is of no use complaining to you. I mean to
complain to your husband. Nowmy dear Doctordo look at that
silly wife of yours.'

As the Doctor turned his kind facewith its smile of simplicity
and gentlenesstowards hershe drooped her head more. I noticed
that Mr. Wickfield looked at her steadily.

'When I happened to say to that naughty thingthe other day'
pursued her mothershaking her head and her fan at herplayfully
'that there was a family circumstance she might mention to you indeed
I thinkwas bound to mention - she saidthat to mention
it was to ask a favour; and thatas you were too generousand as
for her to ask was always to haveshe wouldn't.'

'Anniemy dear' said the Doctor. 'That was wrong. It robbed me


of a pleasure.'

'Almost the very words I said to her!' exclaimed her mother. 'Now
reallyanother timewhen I know what she would tell you but for
this reasonand won'tI have a great mindmy dear Doctorto
tell you myself.'

'I shall be glad if you will' returned the Doctor.

'Shall I?'

'Certainly.'

'WellthenI will!' said the Old Soldier. 'That's a bargain.'
And havingI supposecarried her pointshe tapped the Doctor's
hand several times with her fan (which she kissed first)and
returned triumphantly to her former station.

Some more company coming inamong whom were the two masters and
Adamsthe talk became general; and it naturally turned on Mr. Jack
Maldonand his voyageand the country he was going toand his
various plans and prospects. He was to leave that nightafter
supperin a post-chaisefor Gravesend; where the shipin which
he was to make the voyagelay; and was to be gone - unless he came
home on leaveor for his health - I don't know how many years. I
recollect it was settled by general consent that India was quite a
misrepresented countryand had nothing objectionable in itbut a
tiger or twoand a little heat in the warm part of the day. For
my own partI looked on Mr. Jack Maldon as a modern Sindbadand
pictured him the bosom friend of all the Rajahs in the East
sitting under canopiessmoking curly golden pipes - a mile long
if they could be straightened out.

Mrs. Strong was a very pretty singer: as I knewwho often heard
her singing by herself. Butwhether she was afraid of singing
before peopleor was out of voice that eveningit was certain
that she couldn't sing at all. She tried a duetoncewith her
cousin Maldonbut could not so much as begin; and afterwardswhen
she tried to sing by herselfalthough she began sweetlyher voice
died away on a suddenand left her quite distressedwith her head
hanging down over the keys. The good Doctor said she was nervous
andto relieve herproposed a round game at cards; of which he
knew as much as of the art of playing the trombone. But I remarked
that the Old Soldier took him into custody directlyfor her
partner; and instructed himas the first preliminary of
initiationto give her all the silver he had in his pocket.

We had a merry gamenot made the less merry by the Doctor's
mistakesof which he committed an innumerable quantityin spite
of the watchfulness of the butterfliesand to their great
aggravation. Mrs. Strong had declined to playon the ground of
not feeling very well; and her cousin Maldon had excused himself
because he had some packing to do. When he had done ithowever
he returnedand they sat togethertalkingon the sofa. From
time to time she came and looked over the Doctor's handand told
him what to play. She was very paleas she bent over himand I
thought her finger trembled as she pointed out the cards; but the
Doctor was quite happy in her attentionand took no notice of
thisif it were so.

At supperwe were hardly so gay. Everyone appeared to feel that
a parting of that sort was an awkward thingand that the nearer it
approachedthe more awkward it was. Mr. Jack Maldon tried to be
very talkativebut was not at his easeand made matters worse.


And they were not improvedas it appeared to meby the Old
Soldier: who continually recalled passages of Mr. Jack Maldon's
youth.

The Doctorhoweverwho feltI am surethat he was making
everybody happywas well pleasedand had no suspicion but that we
were all at the utmost height of enjoyment.

'Anniemy dear' said helooking at his watchand filling his
glass'it is past your cousin jack's timeand we must not detain
himsince time and tide - both concerned in this case - wait for
no man. Mr. Jack Maldonyou have a long voyageand a strange
countrybefore you; but many men have had bothand many men will
have bothto the end of time. The winds you are going to tempt
have wafted thousands upon thousands to fortuneand brought
thousands upon thousands happily back.'

'It's an affecting thing' said Mrs. Markleham - 'however it's
viewedit's affectingto see a fine young man one has known from
an infantgoing away to the other end of the worldleaving all he
knows behindand not knowing what's before him. A young man
really well deserves constant support and patronage' looking at
the Doctor'who makes such sacrifices.'

'Time will go fast with youMr. Jack Maldon' pursued the Doctor
'and fast with all of us. Some of us can hardly expectperhaps
in the natural course of thingsto greet you on your return. The
next best thing is to hope to do itand that's my case. I shall
not weary you with good advice. You have long had a good model
before youin your cousin Annie. Imitate her virtues as nearly as
you can.'

Mrs. Markleham fanned herselfand shook her head.

'FarewellMr. Jack' said the Doctorstanding up; on which we all
stood up. 'A prosperous voyage outa thriving career abroadand
a happy return home!'

We all drank the toastand all shook hands with Mr. Jack Maldon;
after which he hastily took leave of the ladies who were thereand
hurried to the doorwhere he was receivedas he got into the
chaisewith a tremendous broadside of cheers discharged by our
boyswho had assembled on the lawn for the purpose. Running in
among them to swell the ranksI was very near the chaise when it
rolled away; and I had a lively impression made upon mein the
midst of the noise and dustof having seen Mr. Jack Maldon rattle
past with an agitated faceand something cherry-coloured in his
hand.

After another broadside for the Doctorand another for the
Doctor's wifethe boys dispersedand I went back into the house
where I found the guests all standing in a group about the Doctor
discussing how Mr. Jack Maldon had gone awayand how he had borne
itand how he had felt itand all the rest of it. In the midst
of these remarksMrs. Markleham cried: 'Where's Annie?'

No Annie was there; and when they called to herno Annie replied.
But all pressing out of the roomin a crowdto see what was the
matterwe found her lying on the hall floor. There was great
alarm at firstuntil it was found that she was in a swoonand
that the swoon was yielding to the usual means of recovery; when
the Doctorwho had lifted her head upon his kneeput her curls
aside with his handand saidlooking around:


'Poor Annie! She's so faithful and tender-hearted! It's the
parting from her old playfellow and friend - her favourite cousin

-that has done this. Ah! It's a pity! I am very sorry!'
When she opened her eyesand saw where she wasand that we were
all standing about hershe arose with assistance: turning her
headas she did soto lay it on the Doctor's shoulder - or to
hide itI don't know which. We went into the drawing-roomto
leave her with the Doctor and her mother; but she saidit seemed
that she was better than she had been since morningand that she
would rather be brought among us; so they brought her inlooking
very white and weakI thoughtand sat her on a sofa.

'Anniemy dear' said her motherdoing something to her dress.
'See here! You have lost a bow. Will anybody be so good as find
a ribbon; a cherry-coloured ribbon?'

It was the one she had worn at her bosom. We all looked for it; I
myself looked everywhereI am certain - but nobody could find it.

'Do you recollect where you had it lastAnnie?' said her mother.

I wondered how I could have thought she looked whiteor anything
but burning redwhen she answered that she had had it safea
little while agoshe thoughtbut it was not worth looking for.

Neverthelessit was looked for againand still not found. She
entreated that there might be no more searching; but it was still
sought forin a desultory wayuntil she was quite welland the
company took their departure.

We walked very slowly homeMr. WickfieldAgnesand I - Agnes and
I admiring the moonlightand Mr. Wickfield scarcely raising his
eyes from the ground. When weat lastreached our own door
Agnes discovered that she had left her little reticule behind.
Delighted to be of any service to herI ran back to fetch it.

I went into the supper-room where it had been leftwhich was
deserted and dark. But a door of communication between that and
the Doctor's studywhere there was a lightbeing openI passed
on thereto say what I wantedand to get a candle.

The Doctor was sitting in his easy-chair by the firesideand his
young wife was on a stool at his feet. The Doctorwith a
complacent smilewas reading aloud some manuscript explanation or
statement of a theory out of that interminable Dictionaryand she
was looking up at him. But with such a face as I never saw. It
was so beautiful in its formit was so ashy paleit was so fixed
in its abstractionit was so full of a wildsleep-walkingdreamy
horror of I don't know what. The eyes were wide openand her
brown hair fell in two rich clusters on her shouldersand on her
white dressdisordered by the want of the lost ribbon. Distinctly
as I recollect her lookI cannot say of what it was expressiveI
cannot even say of what it is expressive to me nowrising again
before my older judgement. Penitencehumiliationshamepride
loveand trustfulness - I see them all; and in them allI see
that horror of I don't know what.

My entranceand my saying what I wantedroused her. It disturbed
the Doctor toofor when I went back to replace the candle I had
taken from the tablehe was patting her headin his fatherly way
and saying he was a merciless drone to let her tempt him into
reading on; and he would have her go to bed.


But she asked himin a rapidurgent mannerto let her stay - to
let her feel assured (I heard her murmur some broken words to this
effect) that she was in his confidence that night. Andas she
turned again towards himafter glancing at me as I left the room
and went out at the doorI saw her cross her hands upon his knee
and look up at him with the same facesomething quietedas he
resumed his reading.

It made a great impression on meand I remembered it a long time
afterwards; as I shall have occasion to narrate when the time
comes.

CHAPTER 17
SOMEBODY TURNS UP

It has not occurred to me to mention Peggotty since I ran away;
butof courseI wrote her a letter almost as soon as I was housed
at Doverand anotherand a longer lettercontaining all
particulars fully relatedwhen my aunt took me formally under her
protection. On my being settled at Doctor Strong's I wrote to her
againdetailing my happy condition and prospects. I never could
have derived anything like the pleasure from spending the money Mr.
Dick had given methat I felt in sending a gold half-guinea to
Peggottyper postenclosed in this last letterto discharge the
sum I had borrowed of her: in which epistlenot beforeI
mentioned about the young man with the donkey-cart.

To these communications Peggotty replied as promptlyif not as
conciselyas a merchant's clerk. Her utmost powers of expression
(which were certainly not great in ink) were exhausted in the
attempt to write what she felt on the subject of my journey. Four
sides of incoherent and interjectional beginnings of sentences
that had no endexcept blotswere inadequate to afford her any
relief. But the blots were more expressive to me than the best
composition; for they showed me that Peggotty had been crying all
over the paperand what could I have desired more?

I made outwithout much difficultythat she could not take quite
kindly to my aunt yet. The notice was too short after so long a
prepossession the other way. We never knew a personshe wrote;
but to think that Miss Betsey should seem to be so different from
what she had been thought to bewas a Moral! - that was her word.
She was evidently still afraid of Miss Betseyfor she sent her
grateful duty to her but timidly; and she was evidently afraid of
metooand entertained the probability of my running away again
soon: if I might judge from the repeated hints she threw outthat
the coach-fare to Yarmouth was always to be had of her for the
asking.

She gave me one piece of intelligence which affected me very much
namelythat there had been a sale of the furniture at our old
homeand that Mr. and Miss Murdstone were gone awayand the house
was shut upto be let or sold. God knows I had no part in it
while they remained therebut it pained me to think of the dear
old place as altogether abandoned; of the weeds growing tall in the
gardenand the fallen leaves lying thick and wet upon the paths.
I imagined how the winds of winter would howl round ithow the
cold rain would beat upon the window-glasshow the moon would make
ghosts on the walls of the empty roomswatching their solitude all
night. I thought afresh of the grave in the churchyardunderneath
the tree: and it seemed as if the house were dead toonowand all


connected with my father and mother were faded away.

There was no other news in Peggotty's letters. Mr. Barkis was an
excellent husbandshe saidthough still a little near; but we all
had our faultsand she had plenty (though I am sure I don't know
what they were); and he sent his dutyand my little bedroom was
always ready for me. Mr. Peggotty was welland Ham was welland
Mrs.. Gummidge was but poorlyand little Em'ly wouldn't send her
lovebut said that Peggotty might send itif she liked.

All this intelligence I dutifully imparted to my auntonly
reserving to myself the mention of little Em'lyto whom I
instinctively felt that she would not very tenderly incline. While
I was yet new at Doctor Strong'sshe made several excursions over
to Canterbury to see meand always at unseasonable hours: with the
viewI supposeof taking me by surprise. Butfinding me well
employedand bearing a good characterand hearing on all hands
that I rose fast in the schoolshe soon discontinued these visits.
I saw her on a Saturdayevery third or fourth weekwhen I went
over to Dover for a treat; and I saw Mr. Dick every alternate
Wednesdaywhen he arrived by stage-coach at noonto stay until
next morning.

On these occasions Mr. Dick never travelled without a leathern
writing-deskcontaining a supply of stationery and the Memorial;
in relation to which document he had a notion that time was
beginning to press nowand that it really must be got out of hand.

Mr. Dick was very partial to gingerbread. To render his visits the
more agreeablemy aunt had instructed me to open a credit for him
at a cake shopwhich was hampered with the stipulation that he
should not be served with more than one shilling's-worth in the
course of any one day. Thisand the reference of all his little
bills at the county inn where he sleptto my auntbefore they
were paidinduced me to suspect that he was only allowed to rattle
his moneyand not to spend it. I found on further investigation
that this was soor at least there was an agreement between him
and my aunt that he should account to her for all his
disbursements. As he had no idea of deceiving herand always
desired to please herhe was thus made chary of launching into
expense. On this pointas well as on all other possible points
Mr. Dick was convinced that my aunt was the wisest and most
wonderful of women; as he repeatedly told me with infinite secrecy
and always in a whisper.

'Trotwood' said Mr. Dickwith an air of mysteryafter imparting
this confidence to meone Wednesday; 'who's the man that hides
near our house and frightens her?'

'Frightens my auntsir?'

Mr. Dick nodded. 'I thought nothing would have frightened her' he
said'for she's -' here he whispered softly'don't mention it the
wisest and most wonderful of women.' Having said whichhe
drew backto observe the effect which this description of her made
upon me.

'The first time he came' said Mr. Dick'was- let me see- sixteen
hundred and forty-nine was the date of King Charles's execution.
I think you said sixteen hundred and forty-nine?'

'Yessir.'

'I don't know how it can be' said Mr. Dicksorely puzzled and


shaking his head. 'I don't think I am as old as that.'

'Was it in that year that the man appearedsir?' I asked.

'Whyreally' said Mr. Dick'I don't see how it can have been in
that yearTrotwood. Did you get that date out of history?'

'Yessir.'

'I suppose history never liesdoes it?' said Mr. Dickwith a
gleam of hope.

'Oh dearnosir!' I repliedmost decisively. I was ingenuous
and youngand I thought so.

'I can't make it out' said Mr. Dickshaking his head. 'There's
something wrongsomewhere. Howeverit was very soon after the
mistake was made of putting some of the trouble out of King
Charles's head into my headthat the man first came. I was
walking out with Miss Trotwood after teajust at darkand there
he wasclose to our house.'

'Walking about?' I inquired.

'Walking about?' repeated Mr. Dick. 'Let me seeI must recollect
a bit. N-nono; he was not walking about.'

I askedas the shortest way to get at itwhat he WAS doing.

'Wellhe wasn't there at all' said Mr. Dick'until he came up
behind herand whispered. Then she turned round and faintedand
I stood still and looked at himand he walked away; but that he
should have been hiding ever since (in the ground or somewhere)is
the most extraordinary thing!'

'HAS he been hiding ever since?' I asked.

'To be sure he has' retorted Mr. Dicknodding his head gravely.
'Never came outtill last night! We were walking last nightand
he came up behind her againand I knew him again.'

'And did he frighten my aunt again?'

'All of a shiver' said Mr. Dickcounterfeiting that affection and
making his teeth chatter. 'Held by the palings. Cried. But
Trotwoodcome here' getting me close to himthat he might
whisper very softly; 'why did she give him moneyboyin the
moonlight?'

'He was a beggarperhaps.'

Mr. Dick shook his headas utterly renouncing the suggestion; and
having replied a great many timesand with great confidence'No
beggarno beggarno beggarsir!' went on to saythat from his
window he had afterwardsand late at nightseen my aunt give this
person money outside the garden rails in the moonlightwho then
slunk away - into the ground againas he thought probable - and
was seen no more: while my aunt came hurriedly and secretly back
into the houseand hadeven that morningbeen quite different
from her usual self; which preyed on Mr. Dick's mind.

I had not the least beliefin the outset of this storythat the
unknown was anything but a delusion of Mr. Dick'sand one of the
line of that ill-fated Prince who occasioned him so much


difficulty; but after some reflection I began to entertain the
question whether an attemptor threat of an attemptmight have
been twice made to take poor Mr. Dick himself from under my aunt's
protectionand whether my auntthe strength of whose kind feeling
towards him I knew from herselfmight have been induced to pay a
price for his peace and quiet. As I was already much attached to
Mr. Dickand very solicitous for his welfaremy fears favoured
this supposition; and for a long time his Wednesday hardly ever
came roundwithout my entertaining a misgiving that he would not
be on the coach-box as usual. There he always appearedhowever
grey-headedlaughingand happy; and he never had anything more to
tell of the man who could frighten my aunt.

These Wednesdays were the happiest days of Mr. Dick's life; they
were far from being the least happy of mine. He soon became known
to every boy in the school; and though he never took an active part
in any game but kite-flyingwas as deeply interested in all our
sports as anyone among us. How often have I seen himintent upon
a match at marbles or pegtoplooking on with a face of unutterable
interestand hardly breathing at the critical times! How often
at hare and houndshave I seen him mounted on a little knoll
cheering the whole field on to actionand waving his hat above his
grey headoblivious of King Charles the Martyr's headand all
belonging to it! How many a summer hour have I known to be but
blissful minutes to him in the cricket-field! How many winter days
have I seen himstanding blue-nosedin the snow and east wind
looking at the boys going down the long slideand clapping his
worsted gloves in rapture!

He was an universal favouriteand his ingenuity in little things
was transcendent. He could cut oranges into such devices as none
of us had an idea of. He could make a boat out of anythingfrom
a skewer upwards. He could turn cramp-bones into chessmen; fashion
Roman chariots from old court cards; make spoked wheels out of
cotton reelsand bird-cages of old wire. But he was greatest of
allperhapsin the articles of string and straw; with which we
were all persuaded he could do anything that could be done by
hands.

Mr. Dick's renown was not long confined to us. After a few
WednesdaysDoctor Strong himself made some inquiries of me about
himand I told him all my aunt had told me; which interested the
Doctor so much that he requestedon the occasion of his next
visitto be presented to him. This ceremony I performed; and the
Doctor begging Mr. Dickwhensoever he should not find me at the
coach officeto come on thereand rest himself until our
morning's work was overit soon passed into a custom for Mr. Dick
to come on as a matter of courseandif we were a little lateas
often happened on a Wednesdayto walk about the courtyardwaiting
for me. Here he made the acquaintance of the Doctor's beautiful
young wife (paler than formerlyall this time; more rarely seen by
me or anyoneI think; and not so gaybut not less beautiful)and
so became more and more familiar by degreesuntilat lasthe
would come into the school and wait. He always sat in a particular
corneron a particular stoolwhich was called 'Dick'after him;
here he would sitwith his grey head bent forwardattentively
listening to whatever might be going onwith a profound veneration
for the learning he had never been able to acquire.

This veneration Mr. Dick extended to the Doctorwhom he thought
the most subtle and accomplished philosopher of any age. It was
long before Mr. Dick ever spoke to him otherwise than bareheaded;
and even when he and the Doctor had struck up quite a friendship
and would walk together by the houron that side of the courtyard


which was known among us as The Doctor's WalkMr. Dick would pull
off his hat at intervals to show his respect for wisdom and
knowledge. How it ever came about that the Doctor began to read
out scraps of the famous Dictionaryin these walksI never knew;
perhaps he felt it all the sameat firstas reading to himself.
Howeverit passed into a custom too; and Mr. Dicklistening with
a face shining with pride and pleasurein his heart of hearts
believed the Dictionary to be the most delightful book in the
world.

As I think of them going up and down before those schoolroom
windows - the Doctor reading with his complacent smilean
occasional flourish of the manuscriptor grave motion of his head;
and Mr. Dick listeningenchained by interestwith his poor wits
calmly wandering God knows whereupon the wings of hard words - I
think of it as one of the pleasantest thingsin a quiet waythat
I have ever seen. I feel as if they might go walking to and fro
for everand the world might somehow be the better for it - as if
a thousand things it makes a noise aboutwere not one half so good
for itor me.

Agnes was one of Mr. Dick's friendsvery soon; and in often coming
to the househe made acquaintance with Uriah. The friendship
between himself and me increased continuallyand it was maintained
on this odd footing: thatwhile Mr. Dick came professedly to look
after me as my guardianhe always consulted me in any little
matter of doubt that aroseand invariably guided himself by my
advice; not only having a high respect for my native sagacitybut
considering that I inherited a good deal from my aunt.

One Thursday morningwhen I was about to walk with Mr. Dick from
the hotel to the coach office before going back to school (for we
had an hour's school before breakfast)I met Uriah in the street
who reminded me of the promise I had made to take tea with himself
and his mother: addingwith a writhe'But I didn't expect you to
keep itMaster Copperfieldwe're so very umble.'

I really had not yet been able to make up my mind whether I liked
Uriah or detested him; and I was very doubtful about it stillas
I stood looking him in the face in the street. But I felt it quite
an affront to be supposed proudand said I only wanted to be
asked.

' Ohif that's allMaster Copperfield' said Uriah'and it
really isn't our umbleness that prevents youwill you come this
evening? But if it is our umblenessI hope you won't mind owning
to itMaster Copperfield; for we are well aware of our condition.'

I said I would mention it to Mr. Wickfieldand if he approvedas
I had no doubt he wouldI would come with pleasure. Soat six
o'clock that eveningwhich was one of the early office evenings
I announced myself as readyto Uriah.

'Mother will be proudindeed' he saidas we walked away
together. 'Or she would be proudif it wasn't sinfulMaster
Copperfield.'

'Yet you didn't mind supposing I was proud this morning' I
returned.

'Oh dearnoMaster Copperfield!' returned Uriah. 'Ohbelieve
meno! Such a thought never came into my head! I shouldn't have
deemed it at all proud if you had thought US too umble for you.
Because we are so very umble.'


'Have you been studying much law lately?' I askedto change the
subject.


'OhMaster Copperfield' he saidwith an air of self-denial'my
reading is hardly to be called study. I have passed an hour or two
in the eveningsometimeswith Mr. Tidd.'


'Rather hardI suppose?' said I.
'He is hard to me sometimes' returned Uriah. 'But I don't know
what he might be to a gifted person.'


After beating a little tune on his chin as he walked onwith the
two forefingers of his skeleton right handhe added:


'There are expressionsyou seeMaster Copperfield - Latin words
and terms - in Mr. Tiddthat are trying to a reader of my umble
attainments.'


'Would you like to be taught Latin?' I said briskly. 'I will teach
it you with pleasureas I learn it.'


'Ohthank youMaster Copperfield' he answeredshaking his head.
'I am sure it's very kind of you to make the offerbut I am much
too umble to accept it.'


'What nonsenseUriah!'


'Ohindeed you must excuse meMaster Copperfield! I am greatly
obligedand I should like it of all thingsI assure you; but I am
far too umble. There are people enough to tread upon me in my
lowly statewithout my doing outrage to their feelings by
possessing learning. Learning ain't for me. A person like myself
had better not aspire. If he is to get on in lifehe must get on
umblyMaster Copperfield!'


I never saw his mouth so wideor the creases in his cheeks so
deepas when he delivered himself of these sentiments: shaking his
head all the timeand writhing modestly.


'I think you are wrongUriah' I said. 'I dare say there are
several things that I could teach youif you would like to learn
them.'


'OhI don't doubt thatMaster Copperfield' he answered; 'not in
the least. But not being umble yourselfyou don't judge well
perhapsfor them that are. I won't provoke my betters with
knowledgethank you. I'm much too umble. Here is my umble
dwellingMaster Copperfield!'


We entered a lowold-fashioned roomwalked straight into from the
streetand found there Mrs. Heepwho was the dead image of Uriah
only short. She received me with the utmost humilityand
apologized to me for giving her son a kissobserving thatlowly
as they werethey had their natural affectionswhich they hoped
would give no offence to anyone. It was a perfectly decent room
half parlour and half kitchenbut not at all a snug room. The
tea-things were set upon the tableand the kettle was boiling on
the hob. There was a chest of drawers with an escritoire topfor
Uriah to read or write at of an evening; there was Uriah's blue bag
lying down and vomiting papers; there was a company of Uriah's
books commanded by Mr. Tidd; there was a corner cupboard: and there
were the usual articles of furniture. I don't remember that any
individual object had a barepinchedspare look; but I do



remember that the whole place had.

It was perhaps a part of Mrs. Heep's humilitythat she still wore
weeds. Notwithstanding the lapse of time that had occurred since
Mr. Heep's deceaseshe still wore weeds. I think there was some
compromise in the cap; but otherwise she was as weedy as in the
early days of her mourning.

'This is a day to be rememberedmy UriahI am sure' said Mrs.
Heepmaking the tea'when Master Copperfield pays us a visit.'

'I said you'd think somother' said Uriah.

'If I could have wished father to remain among us for any reason'
said Mrs. Heep'it would have beenthat he might have known his
company this afternoon.'

I felt embarrassed by these compliments; but I was sensibletoo
of being entertained as an honoured guestand I thought Mrs. Heep
an agreeable woman.

'My Uriah' said Mrs. Heep'has looked forward to thissira
long while. He had his fears that our umbleness stood in the way
and I joined in them myself. Umble we areumble we have been
umble we shall ever be' said Mrs. Heep.

'I am sure you have no occasion to be soma'am' I said'unless
you like.'

'Thank yousir' retorted Mrs. Heep. 'We know our station and are
thankful in it.'

I found that Mrs. Heep gradually got nearer to meand that Uriah
gradually got opposite to meand that they respectfully plied me
with the choicest of the eatables on the table. There was nothing
particularly choice thereto be sure; but I took the will for the
deedand felt that they were very attentive. Presently they began
to talk about auntsand then I told them about mine; and about
fathers and mothersand then I told them about mine; and then Mrs.
Heep began to talk about fathers-in-lawand then I began to tell
her about mine - but stoppedbecause my aunt had advised me to
observe a silence on that subject. A tender young corkhowever
would have had no more chance against a pair of corkscrewsor a
tender young tooth against a pair of dentistsor a little
shuttlecock against two battledoresthan I had against Uriah and
Mrs. Heep. They did just what they liked with me; and wormed
things out of me that I had no desire to tellwith a certainty I
blush to think of. the more especiallyas in my juvenile
franknessI took some credit to myself for being so confidential
and felt that I was quite the patron of my two respectful
entertainers.

They were very fond of one another: that was certain. I take it
that had its effect upon meas a touch of nature; but the skill
with which the one followed up whatever the other saidwas a touch
of art which I was still less proof against. When there was
nothing more to be got out of me about myself (for on the Murdstone
and Grinby lifeand on my journeyI was dumb)they began about
Mr. Wickfield and Agnes. Uriah threw the ball to Mrs. HeepMrs.
Heep caught it and threw it back to UriahUriah kept it up a
little whilethen sent it back to Mrs. Heepand so they went on
tossing it about until I had no idea who had got itand was quite
bewildered. The ball itself was always changing too. Now it was
Mr. Wickfieldnow Agnesnow the excellence of Mr. Wickfieldnow


my admiration of Agnes; now the extent of Mr. Wickfield's business
and resourcesnow our domestic life after dinner; nowthe wine
that Mr. Wickfield tookthe reason why he took itand the pity
that it was he took so much; now one thingnow anotherthen
everything at once; and all the timewithout appearing to speak
very oftenor to do anything but sometimes encourage them a
littlefor fear they should be overcome by their humility and the
honour of my companyI found myself perpetually letting out
something or other that I had no business to let out and seeing the
effect of it in the twinkling of Uriah's dinted nostrils.

I had begun to be a little uncomfortableand to wish myself well
out of the visitwhen a figure coming down the street passed the
door - it stood open to air the roomwhich was warmthe weather
being close for the time of year - came back againlooked inand
walked inexclaiming loudly'Copperfield! Is it possible?'

It was Mr. Micawber! It was Mr. Micawberwith his eye-glassand
his walking-stickand his shirt-collarand his genteel airand
the condescending roll in his voiceall complete!

'My dear Copperfield' said Mr. Micawberputting out his hand
'this is indeed a meeting which is calculated to impress the mind
with a sense of the instability and uncertainty of all human - in
shortit is a most extraordinary meeting. Walking along the
streetreflecting upon the probability of something turning up (of
which I am at present rather sanguine)I find a young but valued
friend turn upwho is connected with the most eventful period of
my life; I may saywith the turning-point of my existence.
Copperfieldmy dear fellowhow do you do?'

I cannot say - I really cannot say - that I was glad to see Mr.
Micawber there; but I was glad to see him tooand shook hands with
himheartilyinquiring how Mrs. Micawber was.

'Thank you' said Mr. Micawberwaving his hand as of oldand
settling his chin in his shirt-collar. 'She is tolerably
convalescent. The twins no longer derive their sustenance from
Nature's founts - in short' said Mr. Micawberin one of his
bursts of confidence'they are weaned - and Mrs. Micawber isat
presentmy travelling companion. She will be rejoiced
Copperfieldto renew her acquaintance with one who has proved
himself in all respects a worthy minister at the sacred altar of
friendship.'

I said I should be delighted to see her.

'You are very good' said Mr. Micawber.

Mr. Micawber then smiledsettled his chin againand looked about
him.

'I have discovered my friend Copperfield' said Mr. Micawber
genteellyand without addressing himself particularly to anyone
'not in solitudebut partaking of a social meal in company with a
widow ladyand one who is apparently her offspring - in short'
said Mr. Micawberin another of his bursts of confidence'her
son. I shall esteem it an honour to be presented.'

I could do no lessunder these circumstancesthan make Mr.
Micawber known to Uriah Heep and his mother; which I accordingly
did. As they abased themselves before himMr. Micawber took a
seatand waved his hand in his most courtly manner.


'Any friend of my friend Copperfield's' said Mr. Micawber'has a
personal claim upon myself.'

'We are too umblesir' said Mrs. Heep'my son and meto be the
friends of Master Copperfield. He has been so good as take his tea
with usand we are thankful to him for his companyalso to you
sirfor your notice.'

'Ma'am' returned Mr. Micawberwith a bow'you are very obliging:
and what are you doingCopperfield? Still in the wine trade?'

I was excessively anxious to get Mr. Micawber away; and replied
with my hat in my handand a very red faceI have no doubtthat
I was a pupil at Doctor Strong's.

'A pupil?' said Mr. Micawberraising his eyebrows. 'I am
extremely happy to hear it. Although a mind like my friend
Copperfield's' - to Uriah and Mrs. Heep - 'does not require that
cultivation whichwithout his knowledge of men and thingsit
would requirestill it is a rich soil teeming with latent
vegetation - in short' said Mr. Micawbersmilingin another
burst of confidence'it is an intellect capable of getting up the
classics to any extent.'

Uriahwith his long hands slowly twining over one anothermade a
ghastly writhe from the waist upwardsto express his concurrence
in this estimation of me.

'Shall we go and see Mrs. Micawbersir?' I saidto get Mr.
Micawber away.

'If you will do her that favourCopperfield' replied Mr.
Micawberrising. 'I have no scruple in sayingin the presence of
our friends herethat I am a man who hasfor some years
contended against the pressure of pecuniary difficulties.' I knew
he was certain to say something of this kind; he always would be so
boastful about his difficulties. 'Sometimes I have risen superior
to my difficulties. Sometimes my difficulties have - in short
have floored me. There have been times when I have administered a
succession of facers to them; there have been times when they have
been too many for meand I have given inand said to Mrs.
Micawberin the words of CatoPlato, thou reasonest well. It's
all up now. I can show fight no more.But at no time of my life'
said Mr. Micawber'have I enjoyed a higher degree of satisfaction
than in pouring my griefs (if I may describe difficultieschiefly
arising out of warrants of attorney and promissory notes at two and
four monthsby that word) into the bosom of my friend
Copperfield.'

Mr. Micawber closed this handsome tribute by saying'Mr. Heep!
Good evening. Mrs. Heep! Your servant' and then walking out with
me in his most fashionable mannermaking a good deal of noise on
the pavement with his shoesand humming a tune as we went.

It was a little inn where Mr. Micawber put upand he occupied a
little room in itpartitioned off from the commercial roomand
strongly flavoured with tobacco-smoke. I think it was over the
kitchenbecause a warm greasy smell appeared to come up through
the chinks in the floorand there was a flabby perspiration on the
walls. I know it was near the baron account of the smell of
spirits and jingling of glasses. Hererecumbent on a small sofa
underneath a picture of a race-horsewith her head close to the
fireand her feet pushing the mustard off the dumb-waiter at the
other end of the roomwas Mrs. Micawberto whom Mr. Micawber


entered firstsaying'My dearallow me to introduce to you a
pupil of Doctor Strong's.'

I noticedby the bythat although Mr. Micawber was just as much
confused as ever about my age and standinghe always remembered
as a genteel thingthat I was a pupil of Doctor Strong's.

Mrs. Micawber was amazedbut very glad to see me. I was very glad
to see her tooandafter an affectionate greeting on both sides
sat down on the small sofa near her.

'My dear' said Mr. Micawber'if you will mention to Copperfield
what our present position iswhich I have no doubt he will like to
knowI will go and look at the paper the whileand see whether
anything turns up among the advertisements.'

'I thought you were at Plymouthma'am' I said to Mrs. Micawber
as he went out.

'My dear Master Copperfield' she replied'we went to Plymouth.'

'To be on the spot' I hinted.

'Just so' said Mrs. Micawber. 'To be on the spot. Butthe truth
istalent is not wanted in the Custom House. The local influence
of my family was quite unavailing to obtain any employment in that
departmentfor a man of Mr. Micawber's abilities. They would
rather NOT have a man of Mr. Micawber's abilities. He would only
show the deficiency of the others. Apart from which' said Mrs.
Micawber'I will not disguise from youmy dear Master
Copperfieldthat when that branch of my family which is settled in
Plymouthbecame aware that Mr. Micawber was accompanied by myself
and by little Wilkins and his sisterand by the twinsthey did
not receive him with that ardour which he might have expected
being so newly released from captivity. In fact' said Mrs.
Micawberlowering her voice- 'this is between ourselves - our
reception was cool.'

'Dear me!' I said.

'Yes' said Mrs. Micawber. 'It is truly painful to contemplate
mankind in such an aspectMaster Copperfieldbut our reception
wasdecidedlycool. There is no doubt about it. In factthat
branch of my family which is settled in Plymouth became quite
personal to Mr. Micawberbefore we had been there a week.'

I saidand thoughtthat they ought to be ashamed of themselves.

'Stillso it was' continued Mrs. Micawber. 'Under such
circumstanceswhat could a man of Mr. Micawber's spirit do? But
one obvious course was left. To borrowof that branch of my
familythe money to return to Londonand to return at any
sacrifice.'

'Then you all came back againma'am?' I said.

'We all came back again' replied Mrs. Micawber. 'Since thenI
have consulted other branches of my family on the course which it
is most expedient for Mr. Micawber to take - for I maintain that he
must take some courseMaster Copperfield' said Mrs. Micawber
argumentatively. 'It is clear that a family of sixnot including
a domesticcannot live upon air.'

'Certainlyma'am' said I.


'The opinion of those other branches of my family' pursued Mrs.
Micawber'isthat Mr. Micawber should immediately turn his
attention to coals.'

'To whatma'am?'

'To coals' said Mrs. Micawber. 'To the coal trade. Mr. Micawber
was induced to thinkon inquirythat there might be an opening
for a man of his talent in the Medway Coal Trade. Thenas Mr.
Micawber very properly saidthe first step to be taken clearly
wasto come and see the Medway. Which we came and saw. I say
weMaster Copperfield; for I never will' said Mrs. Micawber
with emotion'I never will desert Mr. Micawber.'

I murmured my admiration and approbation.

'We came' repeated Mrs. Micawber'and saw the Medway. My opinion
of the coal trade on that river isthat it may require talentbut
that it certainly requires capital. TalentMr. Micawber has;
capitalMr. Micawber has not. We sawI thinkthe greater part
of the Medway; and that is my individual conclusion. Being so near
hereMr. Micawber was of opinion that it would be rash not to come
onand see the Cathedral. Firstlyon account of its being so
well worth seeingand our never having seen it; and secondlyon
account of the great probability of something turning up in a
cathedral town. We have been here' said Mrs. Micawber'three
days. Nothing hasas yetturned up; and it may not surprise you
my dear Master Copperfieldso much as it would a strangerto know
that we are at present waiting for a remittance from Londonto
discharge our pecuniary obligations at this hotel. Until the
arrival of that remittance' said Mrs. Micawber with much feeling
'I am cut off from my home (I allude to lodgings in Pentonville)
from my boy and girland from my twins.'

I felt the utmost sympathy for Mr. and Mrs. Micawber in this
anxious extremityand said as much to Mr. Micawberwho now
returned: adding that I only wished I had money enoughto lend
them the amount they needed. Mr. Micawber's answer expressed the
disturbance of his mind. He saidshaking hands with me
'Copperfieldyou are a true friend; but when the worst comes to
the worstno man is without a friend who is possessed of shaving
materials.' At this dreadful hint Mrs. Micawber threw her arms
round Mr. Micawber's neck and entreated him to be calm. He wept;
but so far recoveredalmost immediatelyas to ring the bell for
the waiterand bespeak a hot kidney pudding and a plate of shrimps
for breakfast in the morning.

When I took my leave of themthey both pressed me so much to come
and dine before they went awaythat I could not refuse. Butas
I knew I could not come next daywhen I should have a good deal to
prepare in the eveningMr. Micawber arranged that he would call at
Doctor Strong's in the course of the morning (having a presentiment
that the remittance would arrive by that post)and propose the day
afterif it would suit me better. Accordingly I was called out of
school next forenoonand found Mr. Micawber in the parlour; who
had called to say that the dinner would take place as proposed.
When I asked him if the remittance had comehe pressed my hand and
departed.

As I was looking out of window that same eveningit surprised me
and made me rather uneasyto see Mr. Micawber and Uriah Heep walk
pastarm in arm: Uriah humbly sensible of the honour that was done
himand Mr. Micawber taking a bland delight in extending his


patronage to Uriah. But I was still more surprisedwhen I went to
the little hotel next day at the appointed dinner-hourwhich was
four o'clockto findfrom what Mr. Micawber saidthat he had
gone home with Uriahand had drunk brandy-and-water at Mrs.
Heep's.

'And I'll tell you whatmy dear Copperfield' said Mr. Micawber
'your friend Heep is a young fellow who might be attorney-general.
If I had known that young manat the period when my difficulties
came to a crisisall I can say isthat I believe my creditors
would have been a great deal better managed than they were.'

I hardly understood how this could have beenseeing that Mr.
Micawber had paid them nothing at all as it was; but I did not like
to ask. Neither did I like to saythat I hoped he had not been
too communicative to Uriah; or to inquire if they had talked much
about me. I was afraid of hurting Mr. Micawber's feelingsorat
all eventsMrs. Micawber'sshe being very sensitive; but I was
uncomfortable about ittooand often thought about it afterwards.

We had a beautiful little dinner. Quite an elegant dish of fish;
the kidney-end of a loin of vealroasted; fried sausage-meat; a
partridgeand a pudding. There was wineand there was strong
ale; and after dinner Mrs. Micawber made us a bowl of hot punch
with her own hands.

Mr. Micawber was uncommonly convivial. I never saw him such good
company. He made his face shine with the punchso that it looked
as if it had been varnished all over. He got cheerfully
sentimental about the townand proposed success to it; observing
that Mrs. Micawber and himself had been made extremely snug and
comfortable there and that he never should forget the agreeable
hours they had passed in Canterbury. He proposed me afterwards;
and heand Mrs. Micawberand Itook a review of our past
acquaintancein the course of which we sold the property all over
again. Then I proposed Mrs. Micawber: orat leastsaid
modestly'If you'll allow meMrs. MicawberI shall now have the
pleasure of drinking your healthma'am.' On which Mr. Micawber
delivered an eulogium on Mrs. Micawber's characterand said she
had ever been his guidephilosopherand friendand that he would
recommend mewhen I came to a marrying time of lifeto marry such
another womanif such another woman could be found.

As the punch disappearedMr. Micawber became still more friendly
and convivial. Mrs. Micawber's spirits becoming elevatedtoowe
sang 'Auld Lang Syne'. When we came to 'Here's a handmy trusty
frere'we all joined hands round the table; and when we declared
we would 'take a right gude Willie Waught'and hadn't the least
idea what it meantwe were really affected.

In a wordI never saw anybody so thoroughly jovial as Mr. Micawber
wasdown to the very last moment of the eveningwhen I took a
hearty farewell of himself and his amiable wife. ConsequentlyI
was not preparedat seven o'clock next morningto receive the
following communicationdated half past nine in the evening; a
quarter of an hour after I had left him:


'My DEAR YOUNG FRIEND

'The die is cast - all is over. Hiding the ravages of care with a
sickly mask of mirthI have not informed youthis eveningthat
there is no hope of the remittance! Under these circumstances
alike humiliating to endurehumiliating to contemplateand
humiliating to relateI have discharged the pecuniary liability


contracted at this establishmentby giving a note of handmade
payable fourteen days after dateat my residencePentonville
London. When it becomes dueit will not be taken up. The result
is destruction. The bolt is impendingand the tree must fall.

'Let the wretched man who now addresses youmy dear Copperfield
be a beacon to you through life. He writes with that intention
and in that hope. If he could think himself of so much useone
gleam of day mightby possibilitypenetrate into the cheerless
dungeon of his remaining existence - though his longevity isat
present (to say the least of it)extremely problematical.

'This is the last communicationmy dear Copperfieldyou will ever
receive

'From

'The

'Beggared Outcast

'WILKINS MICAWBER.'

I was so shocked by the contents of this heart-rending letterthat
I ran off directly towards the little hotel with the intention of
taking it on my way to Doctor Strong'sand trying to soothe Mr.
Micawber with a word of comfort. Buthalf-way thereI met the
London coach with Mr. and Mrs. Micawber up behind; Mr. Micawber
the very picture of tranquil enjoymentsmiling at Mrs. Micawber's
conversationeating walnuts out of a paper bagwith a bottle
sticking out of his breast pocket. As they did not see meI
thought it bestall things considerednot to see them. Sowith
a great weight taken off my mindI turned into a by-street that
was the nearest way to schooland feltupon the wholerelieved
that they were gone; though I still liked them very much
nevertheless.

CHAPTER 18
A RETROSPECT

My school-days! The silent gliding on of my existence - the
unseenunfelt progress of my life - from childhood up to youth!
Let me thinkas I look back upon that flowing waternow a dry
channel overgrown with leaveswhether there are any marks along
its courseby which I can remember how it ran.

A momentand I occupy my place in the Cathedralwhere we all went
togetherevery Sunday morningassembling first at school for that
purpose. The earthy smellthe sunless airthe sensation of the
world being shut outthe resounding of the organ through the black
and white arched galleries and aislesare wings that take me back
and hold me hovering above those daysin a half-sleeping and
half-waking dream.

I am not the last boy in the school. I have risen in a few months
over several heads. But the first boy seems to me a mighty
creaturedwelling afar offwhose giddy height is unattainable.
Agnes says 'No' but I say 'Yes' and tell her that she little
thinks what stores of knowledge have been mastered by the wonderful
Beingat whose place she thinks Ieven Iweak aspirantmay


arrive in time. He is not my private friend and public patronas
Steerforth wasbut I hold him in a reverential respect. I chiefly
wonder what he'll bewhen he leaves Doctor Strong'sand what
mankind will do to maintain any place against him.

But who is this that breaks upon me? This is Miss Shepherdwhom
I love.

Miss Shepherd is a boarder at the Misses Nettingalls'
establishment. I adore Miss Shepherd. She is a little girlin a
spencerwith a round face and curly flaxen hair. The Misses
Nettingalls' young ladies come to the Cathedral too. I cannot look
upon my bookfor I must look upon Miss Shepherd. When the
choristers chauntI hear Miss Shepherd. In the service I mentally
insert Miss Shepherd's name - I put her in among the Royal Family.
At homein my own roomI am sometimes moved to cry out'OhMiss
Shepherd!' in a transport of love.

For some timeI am doubtful of Miss Shepherd's feelingsbutat
lengthFate being propitiouswe meet at the dancing-school. I
have Miss Shepherd for my partner. I touch Miss Shepherd's glove
and feel a thrill go up the right arm of my jacketand come out at
my hair. I say nothing to Miss Shepherdbut we understand each
other. Miss Shepherd and myself live but to be united.

Why do I secretly give Miss Shepherd twelve Brazil nuts for a
presentI wonder? They are not expressive of affectionthey are
difficult to pack into a parcel of any regular shapethey are hard
to crackeven in room doorsand they are oily when cracked; yet
I feel that they are appropriate to Miss Shepherd. Softseedy
biscuitsalsoI bestow upon Miss Shepherd; and oranges
innumerable. OnceI kiss Miss Shepherd in the cloak-room.
Ecstasy! What are my agony and indignation next daywhen I hear
a flying rumour that the Misses Nettingall have stood Miss Shepherd
in the stocks for turning in her toes!

Miss Shepherd being the one pervading theme and vision of my life
how do I ever come to break with her? I can't conceive. And yet
a coolness grows between Miss Shepherd and myself. Whispers reach
me of Miss Shepherd having said she wished I wouldn't stare soand
having avowed a preference for Master Jones - for Jones! a boy of
no merit whatever! The gulf between me and Miss Shepherd widens.
At lastone dayI meet the Misses Nettingalls' establishment out
walking. Miss Shepherd makes a face as she goes byand laughs to
her companion. All is over. The devotion of a life - it seems a
lifeit is all the same - is at an end; Miss Shepherd comes out of
the morning serviceand the Royal Family know her no more.

I am higher in the schooland no one breaks my peace. I am not at
all politenowto the Misses Nettingalls' young ladiesand
shouldn't dote on any of themif they were twice as many and
twenty times as beautiful. I think the dancing-school a tiresome
affairand wonder why the girls can't dance by themselves and
leave us alone. I am growing great in Latin versesand neglect
the laces of my boots. Doctor Strong refers to me in public as a
promising young scholar. Mr. Dick is wild with joyand my aunt
remits me a guinea by the next post.

The shade of a young butcher riseslike the apparition of an armed
head in Macbeth. Who is this young butcher? He is the terror of
the youth of Canterbury. There is a vague belief abroadthat the
beef suet with which he anoints his hair gives him unnatural
strengthand that he is a match for a man. He is a broad-faced
bull-neckedyoung butcherwith rough red cheeksan


ill-conditioned mindand an injurious tongue. His main use of
this tongueisto disparage Doctor Strong's young gentlemen. He
sayspubliclythat if they want anything he'll give it 'em. He
names individuals among them (myself included)whom he could
undertake to settle with one handand the other tied behind him.
He waylays the smaller boys to punch their unprotected headsand
calls challenges after me in the open streets. For these
sufficient reasons I resolve to fight the butcher.

It is a summer eveningdown in a green hollowat the corner of a
wall. I meet the butcher by appointment. I am attended by a
select body of our boys; the butcherby two other butchersa
young publicanand a sweep. The preliminaries are adjustedand
the butcher and myself stand face to face. In a moment the butcher
lights ten thousand candles out of my left eyebrow. In another
momentI don't know where the wall isor where I amor where
anybody is. I hardly know which is myself and which the butcher
we are always in such a tangle and tussleknocking about upon the
trodden grass. Sometimes I see the butcherbloody but confident;
sometimes I see nothingand sit gasping on my second's knee;
sometimes I go in at the butcher madlyand cut my knuckles open
against his facewithout appearing to discompose him at all. At
last I awakevery queer about the headas from a giddy sleepand
see the butcher walking offcongratulated by the two other
butchers and the sweep and publicanand putting on his coat as he
goes; from which I augurjustlythat the victory is his.

I am taken home in a sad plightand I have beef-steaks put to my
eyesand am rubbed with vinegar and brandyand find a great puffy
place bursting out on my upper lipwhich swells immoderately. For
three or four days I remain at homea very ill-looking subject
with a green shade over my eyes; and I should be very dullbut
that Agnes is a sister to meand condoles with meand reads to
meand makes the time light and happy. Agnes has my confidence
completelyalways; I tell her all about the butcherand the
wrongs he has heaped upon me; she thinks I couldn't have done
otherwise than fight the butcherwhile she shrinks and trembles at
my having fought him.

Time has stolen on unobservedfor Adams is not the head-boy in the
days that are come nownor has he been this many and many a day.
Adams has left the school so longthat when he comes backon a
visit to Doctor Strongthere are not many therebesides myself
who know him. Adams is going to be called to the bar almost
directlyand is to be an advocateand to wear a wig. I am
surprised to find him a meeker man than I had thoughtand less
imposing in appearance. He has not staggered the world yet
either; for it goes on (as well as I can make out) pretty much the
same as if he had never joined it.

A blankthrough which the warriors of poetry and history march on
in stately hosts that seem to have no end - and what comes next!
I am the head-boynow! I look down on the line of boys below me
with a condescending interest in such of them as bring to my mind
the boy I was myselfwhen I first came there. That little fellow
seems to be no part of me; I remember him as something left behind
upon the road of life - as something I have passedrather than
have actually been - and almost think of him as of someone else.

And the little girl I saw on that first day at Mr. Wickfield's
where is she? Gone also. In her steadthe perfect likeness of
the picturea child likeness no moremoves about the house; and
Agnes - my sweet sisteras I call her in my thoughtsmy
counsellor and friendthe better angel of the lives of all who


come within her calmgoodself-denying influence - is quite a
woman.

What other changes have come upon mebesides the changes in my
growth and looksand in the knowledge I have garnered all this
while? I wear a gold watch and chaina ring upon my little
fingerand a long-tailed coat; and I use a great deal of bear's
grease - whichtaken in conjunction with the ringlooks bad. Am
I in love again? I am. I worship the eldest Miss Larkins.

The eldest Miss Larkins is not a little girl. She is a talldark
black-eyedfine figure of a woman. The eldest Miss Larkins is not
a chicken; for the youngest Miss Larkins is not thatand the
eldest must be three or four years older. Perhaps the eldest Miss
Larkins may be about thirty. My passion for her is beyond all
bounds.

The eldest Miss Larkins knows officers. It is an awful thing to
bear. I see them speaking to her in the street. I see them cross
the way to meet herwhen her bonnet (she has a bright taste in
bonnets) is seen coming down the pavementaccompanied by her
sister's bonnet. She laughs and talksand seems to like it. I
spend a good deal of my own spare time in walking up and down to
meet her. If I can bow to her once in the day (I know her to bow
toknowing Mr. Larkins)I am happier. I deserve a bow now and
then. The raging agonies I suffer on the night of the Race Ball
where I know the eldest Miss Larkins will be dancing with the
militaryought to have some compensationif there be even-handed
justice in the world.

My passion takes away my appetiteand makes me wear my newest silk
neckerchief continually. I have no relief but in putting on my
best clothesand having my boots cleaned over and over again. I
seemthento be worthier of the eldest Miss Larkins. Everything
that belongs to heror is connected with heris precious to me.
Mr. Larkins (a gruff old gentleman with a double chinand one of
his eyes immovable in his head) is fraught with interest to me.
When I can't meet his daughterI go where I am likely to meet him.
To say 'How do you doMr. Larkins? Are the young ladies and all
the family quite well?' seems so pointedthat I blush.

I think continually about my age. Say I am seventeenand say that
seventeen is young for the eldest Miss Larkinswhat of that?
BesidesI shall be one-and-twenty in no time almost. I regularly
take walks outside Mr. Larkins's house in the eveningthough it
cuts me to the heart to see the officers go inor to hear them up
in the drawing-roomwhere the eldest Miss Larkins plays the harp.
I even walkon two or three occasionsin a sicklyspoony manner
round and round the house after the family are gone to bed
wondering which is the eldest Miss Larkins's chamber (and pitching
I dare say nowon Mr. Larkins's instead); wishing that a fire
would burst out; that the assembled crowd would stand appalled;
that Idashing through them with a laddermight rear it against
her windowsave her in my armsgo back for something she had left
behindand perish in the flames. For I am generally disinterested
in my loveand think I could be content to make a figure before
Miss Larkinsand expire.

Generallybut not always. Sometimes brighter visions rise before
me. When I dress (the occupation of two hours)for a great ball
given at the Larkins's (the anticipation of three weeks)I indulge
my fancy with pleasing images. I picture myself taking courage to
make a declaration to Miss Larkins. I picture Miss Larkins sinking
her head upon my shoulderand saying'OhMr. Copperfieldcan I


believe my ears!' I picture Mr. Larkins waiting on me next morning
and saying'My dear Copperfieldmy daughter has told me all.
Youth is no objection. Here are twenty thousand pounds. Be
happy!' I picture my aunt relentingand blessing us; and Mr. Dick
and Doctor Strong being present at the marriage ceremony. I am a
sensible fellowI believe - I believeon looking backI mean and
modest I am sure; but all this goes on notwithstanding.
I repair to the enchanted housewhere there are lights
chatteringmusicflowersofficers (I am sorry to see)and the
eldest Miss Larkinsa blaze of beauty. She is dressed in blue
with blue flowers in her hair - forget-me-nots - as if SHE had any
need to wear forget-me-nots. It is the first really grown-up party
that I have ever been invited toand I am a little uncomfortable;
for I appear not to belong to anybodyand nobody appears to have
anything to say to meexcept Mr. Larkinswho asks me how my
schoolfellows arewhich he needn't doas I have not come there to
be insulted.

But after I have stood in the doorway for some timeand feasted my
eyes upon the goddess of my heartshe approaches me - shethe
eldest Miss Larkins! - and asks me pleasantlyif I dance?

I stammerwith a bow'With youMiss Larkins.'

'With no one else?' inquires Miss Larkins.

'I should have no pleasure in dancing with anyone else.'

Miss Larkins laughs and blushes (or I think she blushes)and says
'Next time but oneI shall be very glad.'

The time arrives. 'It is a waltzI think' Miss Larkins
doubtfully observeswhen I present myself. 'Do you waltz? If
notCaptain Bailey -'

But I do waltz (pretty welltooas it happens)and I take Miss
Larkins out. I take her sternly from the side of Captain Bailey.
He is wretchedI have no doubt; but he is nothing to me. I have
been wretchedtoo. I waltz with the eldest Miss Larkins! I don't
know whereamong whomor how long. I only know that I swim about
in spacewith a blue angelin a state of blissful deliriumuntil
I find myself alone with her in a little roomresting on a sofa.
She admires a flower (pink camellia japonicaprice half-a-crown)
in my button-hole. I give it herand say:

'I ask an inestimable price for itMiss Larkins.'

'Indeed! What is that?' returns Miss Larkins.

'A flower of yoursthat I may treasure it as a miser does gold.'

'You're a bold boy' says Miss Larkins. 'There.'

She gives it menot displeased; and I put it to my lipsand then
into my breast. Miss Larkinslaughingdraws her hand through my
armand says'Now take me back to Captain Bailey.'

I am lost in the recollection of this delicious interviewand the
waltzwhen she comes to me againwith a plain elderly gentleman
who has been playing whist all nightupon her armand says:

'Oh! here is my bold friend! Mr. Chestle wants to know youMr.
Copperfield.'


I feel at once that he is a friend of the familyand am much
gratified.

'I admire your tastesir' says Mr. Chestle. 'It does you credit.
I suppose you don't take much interest in hops; but I am a pretty
large grower myself; and if you ever like to come over to our
neighbourhood - neighbourhood of Ashford - and take a run about our
place-we shall be glad for you to stop as long as you like.'

I thank Mr. Chestle warmlyand shake hands. I think I am in a
happy dream. I waltz with the eldest Miss Larkins once again. She
says I waltz so well! I go home in a state of unspeakable bliss
and waltz in imaginationall night longwith my arm round the
blue waist of my dear divinity. For some days afterwardsI am
lost in rapturous reflections; but I neither see her in the street
nor when I call. I am imperfectly consoled for this disappointment
by the sacred pledgethe perished flower.

'Trotwood' says Agnesone day after dinner. 'Who do you think is
going to be married tomorrow? Someone you admire.'

'Not youI supposeAgnes?'

'Not me!' raising her cheerful face from the music she is copying.
'Do you hear himPapa? - The eldest Miss Larkins.'

'To - to Captain Bailey?' I have just enough power to ask.

'No; to no Captain. To Mr. Chestlea hop-grower.'

I am terribly dejected for about a week or two. I take off my
ringI wear my worst clothesI use no bear's greaseand I
frequently lament over the late Miss Larkins's faded flower.
Beingby that timerather tired of this kind of lifeand having
received new provocation from the butcherI throw the flower away
go out with the butcherand gloriously defeat him.

Thisand the resumption of my ringas well as of the bear's
grease in moderationare the last marks I can discernnowin my
progress to seventeen.

CHAPTER 19
I LOOK ABOUT MEAND MAKE A DISCOVERY

I am doubtful whether I was at heart glad or sorrywhen my
school-days drew to an endand the time came for my leaving Doctor
Strong's. I had been very happy thereI had a great attachment
for the Doctorand I was eminent and distinguished in that little
world. For these reasons I was sorry to go; but for other reasons
unsubstantial enoughI was glad. Misty ideas of being a young man
at my own disposalof the importance attaching to a young man at
his own disposalof the wonderful things to be seen and done by
that magnificent animaland the wonderful effects he could not
fail to make upon societylured me away. So powerful were these
visionary considerations in my boyish mindthat I seemaccording
to my present way of thinkingto have left school without natural
regret. The separation has not made the impression on methat
other separations have. I try in vain to recall how I felt about
itand what its circumstances were; but it is not momentous in my
recollection. I suppose the opening prospect confused me. I know
that my juvenile experiences went for little or nothing then; and


that life was more like a great fairy storywhich I was just about
to begin to readthan anything else.

MY aunt and I had held many grave deliberations on the calling to
which I should be devoted. For a year or more I had endeavoured to
find a satisfactory answer to her often-repeated question'What I
would like to be?' But I had no particular likingthat I could
discoverfor anything. If I could have been inspired with a
knowledge of the science of navigationtaken the command of a
fast-sailing expeditionand gone round the world on a triumphant
voyage of discoveryI think I might have considered myself
completely suited. Butin the absence of any such miraculous
provisionmy desire was to apply myself to some pursuit that would
not lie too heavily upon her purse; and to do my duty in it
whatever it might be.

Mr. Dick had regularly assisted at our councilswith a meditative
and sage demeanour. He never made a suggestion but once; and on
that occasion (I don't know what put it in his head)he suddenly
proposed that I should be 'a Brazier'. My aunt received this
proposal so very ungraciouslythat he never ventured on a second;
but ever afterwards confined himself to looking watchfully at her
for her suggestionsand rattling his money.

'TrotI tell you whatmy dear' said my auntone morning in the
Christmas season when I left school: 'as this knotty point is still
unsettledand as we must not make a mistake in our decision if we
can help itI think we had better take a little breathing-time.
In the meanwhileyou must try to look at it from a new point of
viewand not as a schoolboy.'

'I willaunt.'

'It has occurred to me' pursued my aunt'that a little change
and a glimpse of life out of doorsmay be useful in helping you to
know your own mindand form a cooler judgement. Suppose you were
to go down into the old part of the country againfor instance
and see that - that out-of-the-way woman with the savagest of
names' said my auntrubbing her nosefor she could never
thoroughly forgive Peggotty for being so called.

'Of all things in the worldauntI should like it best!'

'Well' said my aunt'that's luckyfor I should like it too. But
it's natural and rational that you should like it. And I am very
well persuaded that whatever you doTrotwill always be natural
and rational.'

'I hope soaunt.'

'Your sisterBetsey Trotwood' said my aunt'would have been as
natural and rational a girl as ever breathed. You'll be worthy of
herwon't you?'

'I hope I shall be worthy of YOUaunt. That will be enough for
me.'

'It's a mercy that poor dear baby of a mother of yours didn't
live' said my auntlooking at me approvingly'or she'd have been
so vain of her boy by this timethat her soft little head would
have been completely turnedif there was anything of it left to
turn.' (My aunt always excused any weakness of her own in my
behalfby transferring it in this way to my poor mother.) 'Bless
meTrotwoodhow you do remind me of her!'


'PleasantlyI hopeaunt?' said I.

'He's as like herDick' said my auntemphatically'he's as like
heras she was that afternoon before she began to fret - bless my
hearthe's as like heras he can look at me out of his two eyes!'

'Is he indeed?' said Mr. Dick.

'And he's like Davidtoo' said my auntdecisively.

'He is very like David!' said Mr. Dick.

'But what I want you to beTrot' resumed my aunt'- I don't mean
physicallybut morally; you are very well physically - isa firm
fellow. A fine firm fellowwith a will of your own. With
resolution' said my auntshaking her cap at meand clenching her
hand. 'With determination. With characterTrot - with strength
of character that is not to be influencedexcept on good reason
by anybodyor by anything. That's what I want you to be. That's
what your father and mother might both have beenHeaven knowsand
been the better for it.'

I intimated that I hoped I should be what she described.

'That you may beginin a small wayto have a reliance upon
yourselfand to act for yourself' said my aunt'I shall send you
upon your tripalone. I did thinkonceof Mr. Dick's going with
you; buton second thoughtsI shall keep him to take care of me.'

Mr. Dickfor a momentlooked a little disappointed; until the
honour and dignity of having to take care of the most wonderful
woman in the worldrestored the sunshine to his face.

'Besides' said my aunt'there's the Memorial -'

'Ohcertainly' said Mr. Dickin a hurry'I intendTrotwoodto
get that done immediately - it really must be done immediately!
And then it will go inyou know - and then -' said Mr. Dickafter
checking himselfand pausing a long time'there'll be a pretty
kettle of fish!'

In pursuance of my aunt's kind schemeI was shortly afterwards
fitted out with a handsome purse of moneyand a portmanteauand
tenderly dismissed upon my expedition. At partingmy aunt gave me
some good adviceand a good many kisses; and said that as her
object was that I should look about meand should think a little
she would recommend me to stay a few days in Londonif I liked it
either on my way down into Suffolkor in coming back. In a word
I was at liberty to do what I wouldfor three weeks or a month;
and no other conditions were imposed upon my freedom than the
before-mentioned thinking and looking about meand a pledge to
write three times a week and faithfully report myself.

I went to Canterbury firstthat I might take leave of Agnes and
Mr. Wickfield (my old room in whose house I had not yet
relinquished)and also of the good Doctor. Agnes was very glad to
see meand told me that the house had not been like itself since
I had left it.

'I am sure I am not like myself when I am away' said I. 'I seem
to want my right handwhen I miss you. Though that's not saying
much; for there's no head in my right handand no heart. Everyone
who knows youconsults with youand is guided by youAgnes.'


'Everyone who knows mespoils meI believe' she answered
smiling.

'No. it's because you are like no one else. You are so goodand
so sweet-tempered. You have such a gentle natureand you are
always right.'

'You talk' said Agnesbreaking into a pleasant laughas she sat
at work'as if I were the late Miss Larkins.'

'Come! It's not fair to abuse my confidence' I answered
reddening at the recollection of my blue enslaver. 'But I shall
confide in youjust the sameAgnes. I can never grow out of
that. Whenever I fall into troubleor fall in loveI shall
always tell youif you'll let me - even when I come to fall in
love in earnest.'

'Whyyou have always been in earnest!' said Agneslaughing again.

'Oh! that was as a childor a schoolboy' said Ilaughing in my
turnnot without being a little shame-faced. 'Times are altering
nowand I suppose I shall be in a terrible state of earnestness
one day or other. My wonder isthat you are not in earnest
yourselfby this timeAgnes.'

Agnes laughed againand shook her head.

'OhI know you are not!' said I'because if you had been you
would have told me. Or at least' - for I saw a faint blush in her
face'you would have let me find it out for myself. But there is
no one that I know ofwho deserves to love youAgnes. Someone of
a nobler characterand more worthy altogether than anyone I have
ever seen heremust rise upbefore I give my consent. In the
time to comeI shall have a wary eye on all admirers; and shall
exact a great deal from the successful oneI assure you.'

We had gone onso farin a mixture of confidential jest and
earnestthat had long grown naturally out of our familiar
relationsbegun as mere children. But Agnesnow suddenly lifting
up her eyes to mineand speaking in a different mannersaid:

'Trotwoodthere is something that I want to ask youand that I
may not have another opportunity of asking for a long timeperhaps

-something I would askI thinkof no one else. Have you
observed any gradual alteration in Papa?'
I had observed itand had often wondered whether she had too. I
must have shown as muchnowin my face; for her eyes were in a
moment cast downand I saw tears in them.

'Tell me what it is' she saidin a low voice.

'I think - shall I be quite plainAgnesliking him so much?'

'Yes' she said.

'I think he does himself no good by the habit that has increased
upon him since I first came here. He is often very nervous - or I
fancy so.'

'It is not fancy' said Agnesshaking her head.

'His hand trembleshis speech is not plainand his eyes look


wild. I have remarked that at those timesand when he is least
like himselfhe is most certain to be wanted on some business.'

'By Uriah' said Agnes.

'Yes; and the sense of being unfit for itor of not having
understood itor of having shown his condition in spite of
himselfseems to make him so uneasythat next day he is worse
and next day worseand so he becomes jaded and haggard. Do not be
alarmed by what I sayAgnesbut in this state I saw himonly the
other eveninglay down his head upon his deskand shed tears like
a child.'

Her hand passed softly before my lips while I was yet speakingand
in a moment she had met her father at the door of the roomand was
hanging on his shoulder. The expression of her faceas they both
looked towards meI felt to be very touching. There was such deep
fondness for himand gratitude to him for all his love and care
in her beautiful look; and there was such a fervent appeal to me to
deal tenderly by himeven in my inmost thoughtsand to let no
harsh construction find any place against him; she wasat onceso
proud of him and devoted to himyet so compassionate and sorry
and so reliant upon me to be sotoo; that nothing she could have
said would have expressed more to meor moved me more.

We were to drink tea at the Doctor's. We went there at the usual
hour; and round the study fireside found the Doctorand his young
wifeand her mother. The Doctorwho made as much of my going
away as if I were going to Chinareceived me as an honoured guest;
and called for a log of wood to be thrown on the firethat he
might see the face of his old pupil reddening in the blaze.

'I shall not see many more new faces in Trotwood's stead
Wickfield' said the Doctorwarming his hands; 'I am getting lazy
and want ease. I shall relinquish all my young people in another
six monthsand lead a quieter life.'

'You have said soany time these ten yearsDoctor' Mr. Wickfield
answered.

'But now I mean to do it' returned the Doctor. 'My first master
will succeed me - I am in earnest at last - so you'll soon have to
arrange our contractsand to bind us firmly to themlike a couple
of knaves.'

'And to take care' said Mr. Wickfield'that you're not imposed
oneh? As you certainly would bein any contract you should make
for yourself. Well! I am ready. There are worse tasks than that
in my calling.'

'I shall have nothing to think of then' said the Doctorwith a
smile'but my Dictionary; and this other contract-bargain -
Annie.'

As Mr. Wickfield glanced towards hersitting at the tea table by
Agnesshe seemed to me to avoid his look with such unwonted
hesitation and timiditythat his attention became fixed upon her
as if something were suggested to his thoughts.

'There is a post come in from IndiaI observe' he saidafter a
short silence.

'By the by! and letters from Mr. Jack Maldon!' said the Doctor.


'Indeed!'
'Poor dear Jack!' said Mrs. Marklehamshaking her head. 'That
trying climate! - like livingthey tell meon a sand-heap
underneath a burning-glass! He looked strongbut he wasn't. My
dear Doctorit was his spiritnot his constitutionthat he
ventured on so boldly. Anniemy dearI am sure you must
perfectly recollect that your cousin never was strong - not what
can be called ROBUSTyou know' said Mrs. Marklehamwith
emphasisand looking round upon us generally'- from the time
when my daughter and himself were children togetherand walking
aboutarm-in-armthe livelong day.'

Anniethus addressedmade no reply.

'Do I gather from what you sayma'amthat Mr. Maldon is ill?'
asked Mr. Wickfield.

'Ill!' replied the Old Soldier. 'My dear sirhe's all sorts of
things.'

'Except well?' said Mr. Wickfield.

'Except wellindeed!' said the Old Soldier. 'He has had dreadful
strokes of the sunno doubtand jungle fevers and aguesand
every kind of thing you can mention. As to his liver' said the
Old Soldier resignedly'thatof coursehe gave up altogether
when he first went out!'

'Does he say all this?' asked Mr. Wickfield.

'Say? My dear sir' returned Mrs. Marklehamshaking her head and
her fan'you little know my poor Jack Maldon when you ask that
question. Say? Not he. You might drag him at the heels of four
wild horses first.'

'Mama!' said Mrs. Strong.

'Anniemy dear' returned her mother'once for allI must really
beg that you will not interfere with meunless it is to confirm
what I say. You know as well as I do that your cousin Maldon would
be dragged at the heels of any number of wild horses - why should
I confine myself to four! I WON'T confine myself to four - eight
sixteentwo-and-thirtyrather than say anything calculated to
overturn the Doctor's plans.'

'Wickfield's plans' said the Doctorstroking his faceand
looking penitently at his adviser. 'That is to sayour joint
plans for him. I said myselfabroad or at home.'

'And I said' added Mr. Wickfield gravely'abroad. I was the means
of sending him abroad. It's my responsibility.'

'Oh! Responsibility!' said the Old Soldier. 'Everything was done
for the bestmy dear Mr. Wickfield; everything was done for the
kindest and bestwe know. But if the dear fellow can't live
therehe can't live there. And if he can't live therehe'll die
theresooner than he'll overturn the Doctor's plans. I know him'
said the Old Soldierfanning herselfin a sort of calm prophetic
agony'and I know he'll die theresooner than he'll overturn the
Doctor's plans.'

'Wellwellma'am' said the Doctor cheerfully'I am not bigoted
to my plansand I can overturn them myself. I can substitute some
other plans. If Mr. Jack Maldon comes home on account of ill


healthhe must not be allowed to go backand we must endeavour to
make some more suitable and fortunate provision for him in this
country.'

Mrs. Markleham was so overcome by this generous speech - whichI
need not sayshe had not at all expected or led up to - that she
could only tell the Doctor it was like himselfand go several
times through that operation of kissing the sticks of her fanand
then tapping his hand with it. After which she gently chid her
daughter Anniefor not being more demonstrative when such
kindnesses were showeredfor her sakeon her old playfellow; and
entertained us with some particulars concerning other deserving
members of her familywhom it was desirable to set on their
deserving legs.

All this timeher daughter Annie never once spokeor lifted up
her eyes. All this timeMr. Wickfield had his glance upon her as
she sat by his own daughter's side. It appeared to me that he
never thought of being observed by anyone; but was so intent upon
herand upon his own thoughts in connexion with heras to be
quite absorbed. He now asked what Mr. Jack Maldon had actually
written in reference to himselfand to whom he had written?

'Whyhere' said Mrs. Marklehamtaking a letter from the
chimney-piece above the Doctor's head'the dear fellow says to the
Doctor himself - where is it? Oh! - "I am sorry to inform you that
my health is suffering severelyand that I fear I may be reduced
to the necessity of returning home for a timeas the only hope of
restoration." That's pretty plainpoor fellow! His only hope of
restoration! But Annie's letter is plainer still. Annieshow me
that letter again.'

'Not nowmama' she pleaded in a low tone.

'My dearyou absolutely areon some subjectsone of the most
ridiculous persons in the world' returned her mother'and perhaps
the most unnatural to the claims of your own family. We never
should have heard of the letter at allI believeunless I had
asked for it myself. Do you call that confidencemy lovetowards
Doctor Strong? I am surprised. You ought to know better.'

The letter was reluctantly produced; and as I handed it to the old
ladyI saw how the unwilling hand from which I took ittrembled.

'Now let us see' said Mrs. Marklehamputting her glass to her
eye'where the passage is. "The remembrance of old timesmy
dearest Annie" - and so forth - it's not there. "The amiable old
Proctor" - who's he? Dear meAnniehow illegibly your cousin
Maldon writesand how stupid I am! "Doctor of course. Ah!
amiable indeed!' Here she left off, to kiss her fan again, and
shake it at the Doctor, who was looking at us in a state of placid
satisfaction. 'Now I have found it. You may not be surprised to
hearAnnie - no, to be sure, knowing that he never was really
strong; what did I say just now? - that I have undergone so much
in this distant placeas to have decided to leave it at all
hazards; on sick leaveif I can; on total resignationif that is
not to be obtained. What I have enduredand do endure hereis
insupportable." And but for the promptitude of that best of
creatures' said Mrs. Marklehamtelegraphing the Doctor as before
and refolding the letter'it would be insupportable to me to think
of.'

Mr. Wickfield said not one wordthough the old lady looked to him
as if for his commentary on this intelligence; but sat severely


silentwith his eyes fixed on the ground. Long after the subject
was dismissedand other topics occupied ushe remained so; seldom
raising his eyesunless to rest them for a momentwith a
thoughtful frownupon the Doctoror his wifeor both.

The Doctor was very fond of music. Agnes sang with great sweetness
and expressionand so did Mrs. Strong. They sang togetherand
played duets togetherand we had quite a little concert. But I
remarked two things: firstthat though Annie soon recovered her
composureand was quite herselfthere was a blank between her and
Mr. Wickfield which separated them wholly from each other;
secondlythat Mr. Wickfield seemed to dislike the intimacy between
her and Agnesand to watch it with uneasiness. And nowI must
confessthe recollection of what I had seen on that night when Mr.
Maldon went awayfirst began to return upon me with a meaning it
had never hadand to trouble me. The innocent beauty of her face
was not as innocent to me as it had been; I mistrusted the natural
grace and charm of her manner; and when I looked at Agnes by her
sideand thought how good and true Agnes wassuspicions arose
within me that it was an ill-assorted friendship.

She was so happy in it herselfhoweverand the other was so happy
toothat they made the evening fly away as if it were but an hour.
It closed in an incident which I well remember. They were taking
leave of each otherand Agnes was going to embrace her and kiss
herwhen Mr. Wickfield stepped between themas if by accident
and drew Agnes quickly away. Then I sawas though all the
intervening time had been cancelledand I were still standing in
the doorway on the night of the departurethe expression of that
night in the face of Mrs. Strongas it confronted his.

I cannot say what an impression this made upon meor how
impossible I found itwhen I thought of her afterwardsto
separate her from this lookand remember her face in its innocent
loveliness again. It haunted me when I got home. I seemed to have
left the Doctor's roof with a dark cloud lowering on it. The
reverence that I had for his grey headwas mingled with
commiseration for his faith in those who were treacherous to him
and with resentment against those who injured him. The impending
shadow of a great afflictionand a great disgrace that had no
distinct form in it yetfell like a stain upon the quiet place
where I had worked and played as a boyand did it a cruel wrong.
I had no pleasure in thinkingany moreof the grave old
broad-leaved aloe-treeswhich remained shut up in themselves a
hundred years togetherand of the trim smooth grass-plotand the
stone urnsand the Doctor's walkand the congenial sound of the
Cathedral bell hovering above them all. It was as if the tranquil
sanctuary of my boyhood had been sacked before my faceand its
peace and honour given to the winds.

But morning brought with it my parting from the old housewhich
Agnes had filled with her influence; and that occupied my mind
sufficiently. I should be there again soonno doubt; I might
sleep again - perhaps often - in my old room; but the days of my
inhabiting there were goneand the old time was past. I was
heavier at heart when I packed up such of my books and clothes as
still remained there to be sent to Doverthan I cared to show to
Uriah Heep; who was so officious to help methat I uncharitably
thought him mighty glad that I was going.

I got away from Agnes and her fathersomehowwith an indifferent
show of being very manlyand took my seat upon the box of the
London coach. I was so softened and forgivinggoing through the
townthat I had half a mind to nod to my old enemy the butcher


and throw him five shillings to drink. But he looked such a very
obdurate butcher as he stood scraping the great block in the shop
and moreoverhis appearance was so little improved by the loss of
a front tooth which I had knocked outthat I thought it best to
make no advances.


The main object on my mindI rememberwhen we got fairly on the
roadwas to appear as old as possible to the coachmanand to
speak extremely gruff. The latter point I achieved at great
personal inconvenience; but I stuck to itbecause I felt it was a
grown-up sort of thing.


'You are going throughsir?' said the coachman.


'YesWilliam' I saidcondescendingly (I knew him); 'I am going
to London. I shall go down into Suffolk afterwards.'


'Shootingsir?' said the coachman.


He knew as well as I did that it was just as likelyat that time
of yearI was going down there whaling; but I felt complimented
too.


'I don't know' I saidpretending to be undecided'whether I
shall take a shot or not.'
'Birds is got wery shyI'm told' said William.


'So I understand' said I.


'Is Suffolk your countysir?' asked William.


'Yes' I saidwith some importance. 'Suffolk's my county.'


'I'm told the dumplings is uncommon fine down there' said William.


I was not aware of it myselfbut I felt it necessary to uphold the
institutions of my countyand to evince a familiarity with them;
so I shook my headas much as to say'I believe you!'


'And the Punches' said William. 'There's cattle! A Suffolk
Punchwhen he's a good unis worth his weight in gold. Did you
ever breed any Suffolk Punches yourselfsir?'


'N-no' I said'not exactly.'


'Here's a gen'lm'n behind meI'll pound it' said William'as has
bred 'em by wholesale.'


The gentleman spoken of was a gentleman with a very unpromising
squintand a prominent chinwho had a tall white hat on with a
narrow flat brimand whose close-fitting drab trousers seemed to
button all the way up outside his legs from his boots to his hips.
His chin was cocked over the coachman's shoulderso near to me
that his breath quite tickled the back of my head; and as I looked
at himhe leered at the leaders with the eye with which he didn't
squintin a very knowing manner.


'Ain't you?' asked William.


'Ain't I what?' said the gentleman behind.


'Bred them Suffolk Punches by wholesale?'


'I should think so' said the gentleman. 'There ain't no sort of



orse that I ain't bredand no sort of dorg. Orses and dorgs is
some men's fancy. They're wittles and drink to me - lodgingwife
and children - readingwritingand Arithmetic - snufftobacker
and sleep.'

'That ain't a sort of man to see sitting behind a coach-boxis it
though?' said William in my earas he handled the reins.

I construed this remark into an indication of a wish that he should
have my placeso I blushingly offered to resign it.

'Wellif you don't mindsir' said William'I think it would be
more correct.'

I have always considered this as the first fall I had in life.
When I booked my place at the coach office I had had 'Box Seat'
written against the entryand had given the book-keeper
half-a-crown. I was got up in a special great-coat and shawl
expressly to do honour to that distinguished eminence; had
glorified myself upon it a good deal; and had felt that I was a
credit to the coach. And herein the very first stageI was
supplanted by a shabby man with a squintwho had no other merit
than smelling like a livery-stablesand being able to walk across
memore like a fly than a human beingwhile the horses were at a
canter!

A distrust of myselfwhich has often beset me in life on small
occasionswhen it would have been better awaywas assuredly not
stopped in its growth by this little incident outside the
Canterbury coach. It was in vain to take refuge in gruffness of
speech. I spoke from the pit of my stomach for the rest of the
journeybut I felt completely extinguishedand dreadfully young.

It was curious and interestingneverthelessto be sitting up
there behind four horses: well educatedwell dressedand with
plenty of money in my pocket; and to look out for the places where
I had slept on my weary journey. I had abundant occupation for my
thoughtsin every conspicuous landmark on the road. When I looked
down at the trampers whom we passedand saw that well-remembered
style of face turned upI felt as if the tinker's blackened hand
were in the bosom of my shirt again. When we clattered through the
narrow street of Chathamand I caught a glimpsein passingof
the lane where the old monster lived who had bought my jacketI
stretched my neck eagerly to look for the place where I had satin
the sun and in the shadewaiting for my money. When we cameat
lastwithin a stage of Londonand passed the veritable Salem
House where Mr. Creakle had laid about him with a heavy handI
would have given all I hadfor lawful permission to get down and
thrash himand let all the boys out like so many caged sparrows.

We went to the Golden Cross at Charing Crossthen a mouldy sort of
establishment in a close neighbourhood. A waiter showed me into
the coffee-room; and a chambermaid introduced me to my small
bedchamberwhich smelt like a hackney-coachand was shut up like
a family vault. I was still painfully conscious of my youthfor
nobody stood in any awe of me at all: the chambermaid being utterly
indifferent to my opinions on any subjectand the waiter being
familiar with meand offering advice to my inexperience.

'Well now' said the waiterin a tone of confidence'what would
you like for dinner? Young gentlemen likes poultry in general:
have a fowl!'

I told himas majestically as I couldthat I wasn't in the humour


for a fowl.

'Ain't you?' said the waiter. 'Young gentlemen is generally tired
of beef and mutton: have a weal cutlet!'

I assented to this proposalin default of being able to suggest
anything else.

'Do you care for taters?' said the waiterwith an insinuating
smileand his head on one side. 'Young gentlemen generally has
been overdosed with taters.'

I commanded himin my deepest voiceto order a veal cutlet and
potatoesand all things fitting; and to inquire at the bar if
there were any letters for Trotwood CopperfieldEsquire - which I
knew there were notand couldn't bebut thought it manly to
appear to expect.

He soon came back to say that there were none (at which I was much
surprised) and began to lay the cloth for my dinner in a box by the
fire. While he was so engagedhe asked me what I would take with
it; and on my replying 'Half a pint of sherry'thought it a
favourable opportunityI am afraidto extract that measure of
wine from the stale leavings at the bottoms of several small
decanters. I am of this opinionbecausewhile I was reading the
newspaperI observed him behind a low wooden partitionwhich was
his private apartmentvery busy pouring out of a number of those
vessels into onelike a chemist and druggist making up a
prescription. When the wine cametooI thought it flat; and it
certainly had more English crumbs in itthan were to be expected
in a foreign wine in anything like a pure statebut I was bashful
enough to drink itand say nothing.

Being then in a pleasant frame of mind (from which I infer that
poisoning is not always disagreeable in some stages of the
process)I resolved to go to the play. It was Covent Garden
Theatre that I chose; and therefrom the back of a centre boxI
saw Julius Caesar and the new Pantomime. To have all those noble
Romans alive before meand walking in and out for my
entertainmentinstead of being the stern taskmasters they had been
at schoolwas a most novel and delightful effect. But the mingled
reality and mystery of the whole showthe influence upon me of the
poetrythe lightsthe musicthe companythe smooth stupendous
changes of glittering and brilliant scenerywere so dazzlingand
opened up such illimitable regions of delightthat when I came out
into the rainy streetat twelve o'clock at nightI felt as if I
had come from the cloudswhere I had been leading a romantic life
for agesto a bawlingsplashinglink-lighted
umbrella-strugglinghackney-coach-jostlingpatten-clinking
muddymiserable world.

I had emerged by another doorand stood in the street for a little
whileas if I really were a stranger upon earth: but the
unceremonious pushing and hustling that I receivedsoon recalled
me to myselfand put me in the road back to the hotel; whither I
wentrevolving the glorious vision all the way; and whereafter
some porter and oystersI sat revolving it stillat past one
o'clockwith my eyes on the coffee-room fire.

I was so filled with the playand with the past - for it wasin
a mannerlike a shining transparencythrough which I saw my
earlier life moving along - that I don't know when the figure of a
handsome well-formed young man dressed with a tasteful easy
negligence which I have reason to remember very wellbecame a real


presence to me. But I recollect being conscious of his company
without having noticed his coming in - and my still sitting
musingover the coffee-room fire.

At last I rose to go to bedmuch to the relief of the sleepy
waiterwho had got the fidgets in his legsand was twisting them
and hitting themand putting them through all kinds of contortions
in his small pantry. In going towards the doorI passed the
person who had come inand saw him plainly. I turned directly
came backand looked again. He did not know mebut I knew him in
a moment.

At another time I might have wanted the confidence or the decision
to speak to himand might have put it off until next dayand
might have lost him. Butin the then condition of my mindwhere
the play was still running highhis former protection of me
appeared so deserving of my gratitudeand my old love for him
overflowed my breast so freshly and spontaneouslythat I went up
to him at oncewith a fast-beating heartand said:

'Steerforth! won't you speak to me?'

He looked at me - just as he used to looksometimes -but I saw no
recognition in his face.

'You don't remember meI am afraid' said I.

'My God!' he suddenly exclaimed. 'It's little Copperfield!'

I grasped him by both handsand could not let them go. But for
very shameand the fear that it might displease himI could have
held him round the neck and cried.

'I nevernevernever was so glad! My dear SteerforthI am so
overjoyed to see you!'

'And I am rejoiced to see youtoo!' he saidshaking my hands
heartily. 'WhyCopperfieldold boydon't be overpowered!' And
yet he was gladtooI thoughtto see how the delight I had in
meeting him affected me.

I brushed away the tears that my utmost resolution had not been
able to keep backand I made a clumsy laugh of itand we sat down
togetherside by side.

'Whyhow do you come to be here?' said Steerforthclapping me on
the shoulder.

'I came here by the Canterbury coachtoday. I have been adopted
by an aunt down in that part of the countryand have just finished
my education there. How do YOU come to be hereSteerforth?'

'WellI am what they call an Oxford man' he returned; 'that is to
sayI get bored to death down thereperiodically - and I am on my
way now to my mother's. You're a devilish amiable-looking fellow
Copperfield. just what you used to benow I look at you! Not
altered in the least!'

'I knew you immediately' I said; 'but you are more easily
remembered.'

He laughed as he ran his hand through the clustering curls of his
hairand said gaily:


'YesI am on an expedition of duty. My mother lives a little way
out of town; and the roads being in a beastly conditionand our
house tedious enoughI remained here tonight instead of going on.
I have not been in town half-a-dozen hoursand those I have been
dozing and grumbling away at the play.'

'I have been at the playtoo' said I. 'At Covent Garden. What
a delightful and magnificent entertainmentSteerforth!'

Steerforth laughed heartily.

'My dear young Davy' he saidclapping me on the shoulder again
'you are a very Daisy. The daisy of the fieldat sunriseis not
fresher than you are. I have been at Covent Gardentooand there
never was a more miserable business. Holloayou sir!'

This was addressed to the waiterwho had been very attentive to
our recognitionat a distanceand now came forward deferentially.

'Where have you put my friendMr. Copperfield?' said Steerforth.

'Beg your pardonsir?'

'Where does he sleep? What's his number? You know what I mean'
said Steerforth.

'Wellsir' said the waiterwith an apologetic air. 'Mr.
Copperfield is at present in forty-foursir.'

'And what the devil do you mean' retorted Steerforth'by putting
Mr. Copperfield into a little loft over a stable?'

'Whyyou see we wasn't awaresir' returned the waiterstill
apologetically'as Mr. Copperfield was anyways particular. We can
give Mr. Copperfield seventy-twosirif it would be preferred.
Next yousir.'

'Of course it would be preferred' said Steerforth. 'And do it at
once.'
The waiter immediately withdrew to make the exchange. Steerforth
very much amused at my having been put into forty-fourlaughed
againand clapped me on the shoulder againand invited me to
breakfast with him next morning at ten o'clock - an invitation I
was only too proud and happy to accept. It being now pretty late
we took our candles and went upstairswhere we parted with
friendly heartiness at his doorand where I found my new room a
great improvement on my old oneit not being at all mustyand
having an immense four-post bedstead in itwhich was quite a
little landed estate. Hereamong pillows enough for sixI soon
fell asleep in a blissful conditionand dreamed of ancient Rome
Steerforthand friendshipuntil the early morning coaches
rumbling out of the archway underneathmade me dream of thunder
and the gods.

CHAPTER 20
STEERFORTH'S HOME

When the chambermaid tapped at my door at eight o'clockand
informed me that my shaving-water was outsideI felt severely the
having no occasion for itand blushed in my bed. The suspicion
that she laughed toowhen she said itpreyed upon my mind all the


time I was dressing; and gave meI was consciousa sneaking and
guilty air when I passed her on the staircaseas I was going down
to breakfast. I was so sensitively awareindeedof being younger
than I could have wishedthat for some time I could not make up my
mind to pass her at allunder the ignoble circumstances of the
case; buthearing her there with a broomstood peeping out of
window at King Charles on horsebacksurrounded by a maze of
hackney-coachesand looking anything but regal in a drizzling rain
and a dark-brown foguntil I was admonished by the waiter that the
gentleman was waiting for me.

It was not in the coffee-room that I found Steerforth expecting me
but in a snug private apartmentred-curtained and Turkey-carpeted
where the fire burnt brightand a fine hot breakfast was set forth
on a table covered with a clean cloth; and a cheerful miniature of
the roomthe firethe breakfastSteerforthand allwas shining
in the little round mirror over the sideboard. I was rather
bashful at firstSteerforth being so self-possessedand elegant
and superior to me in all respects (age included); but his easy
patronage soon put that to rightsand made me quite at home. I
could not enough admire the change he had wrought in the Golden
Cross; or compare the dull forlorn state I had held yesterdaywith
this morning's comfort and this morning's entertainment. As to the
waiter's familiarityit was quenched as if it had never been. He
attended on usas I may sayin sackcloth and ashes.

'NowCopperfield' said Steerforthwhen we were alone'I should
like to hear what you are doingand where you are goingand all
about you. I feel as if you were my property.'
Glowing with pleasure to find that he had still this interest in
meI told him how my aunt had proposed the little expedition that
I had before meand whither it tended.

'As you are in no hurrythen' said Steerforth'come home with me
to Highgateand stay a day or two. You will be pleased with my
mother - she is a little vain and prosy about mebut that you can
forgive her - and she will be pleased with you.'

'I should like to be as sure of thatas you are kind enough to say
you are' I answeredsmiling.

'Oh!' said Steerforth'everyone who likes mehas a claim on her
that is sure to be acknowledged.'

'Then I think I shall be a favourite' said I.

'Good!' said Steerforth. 'Come and prove it. We will go and see
the lions for an hour or two - it's something to have a fresh
fellow like you to show them toCopperfield - and then we'll
journey out to Highgate by the coach.'

I could hardly believe but that I was in a dreamand that I should
wake presently in number forty-fourto the solitary box in the
coffee-room and the familiar waiter again. After I had written to
my aunt and told her of my fortunate meeting with my admired old
schoolfellowand my acceptance of his invitationwe went out in
a hackney-chariotand saw a Panorama and some other sightsand
took a walk through the Museumwhere I could not help observing
how much Steerforth knewon an infinite variety of subjectsand
of how little account he seemed to make his knowledge.

'You'll take a high degree at collegeSteerforth' said I'if you
have not done so already; and they will have good reason to be
proud of you.'


'I take a degree!' cried Steerforth. 'Not I! my dear Daisy - will
you mind my calling you Daisy?'

'Not at all!' said I.

'That's a good fellow! My dear Daisy' said Steerforthlaughing.
'I have not the least desire or intention to distinguish myself in
that way. I have done quite sufficient for my purpose. I find
that I am heavy company enough for myself as I am.'

'But the fame -' I was beginning.

'You romantic Daisy!' said Steerforthlaughing still more
heartily: 'why should I trouble myselfthat a parcel of
heavy-headed fellows may gape and hold up their hands? Let them do
it at some other man. There's fame for himand he's welcome to
it.'

I was abashed at having made so great a mistakeand was glad to
change the subject. Fortunately it was not difficult to dofor
Steerforth could always pass from one subject to another with a
carelessness and lightness that were his own.

Lunch succeeded to our sight-seeingand the short winter day wore
away so fastthat it was dusk when the stage-coach stopped with us
at an old brick house at Highgate on the summit of the hill. An
elderly ladythough not very far advanced in yearswith a proud
carriage and a handsome facewas in the doorway as we alighted;
and greeting Steerforth as 'My dearest James' folded him in her
arms. To this lady he presented me as his motherand she gave me
a stately welcome.

It was a genteel old-fashioned housevery quiet and orderly. From
the windows of my room I saw all London lying in the distance like
a great vapourwith here and there some lights twinkling through
it. I had only timein dressingto glance at the solid
furniturethe framed pieces of work (doneI supposedby
Steerforth's mother when she was a girl)and some pictures in
crayons of ladies with powdered hair and bodicescoming and going
on the wallsas the newly-kindled fire crackled and sputtered
when I was called to dinner.

There was a second lady in the dining-roomof a slight short
figuredarkand not agreeable to look atbut with some
appearance of good looks toowho attracted my attention: perhaps
because I had not expected to see her; perhaps because I found
myself sitting opposite to her; perhaps because of something really
remarkable in her. She had black hair and eager black eyesand
was thinand had a scar upon her lip. It was an old scar - I
should rather call it seamfor it was not discolouredand had
healed years ago - which had once cut through her mouthdownward
towards the chinbut was now barely visible across the table
except above and on her upper lipthe shape of which it had
altered. I concluded in my own mind that she was about thirty
years of ageand that she wished to be married. She was a little
dilapidated - like a house - with having been so long to let; yet
hadas I have saidan appearance of good looks. Her thinness
seemed to be the effect of some wasting fire within herwhich
found a vent in her gaunt eyes.

She was introduced as Miss Dartleand both Steerforth and his
mother called her Rosa. I found that she lived thereand had been
for a long time Mrs. Steerforth's companion. It appeared to me


that she never said anything she wanted to sayoutright; but
hinted itand made a great deal more of it by this practice. For
examplewhen Mrs. Steerforth observedmore in jest than earnest
that she feared her son led but a wild life at collegeMiss Dartle
put in thus:


'Ohreally? You know how ignorant I amand that I only ask for
informationbut isn't it always so? I thought that kind of life
was on all hands understood to be - eh?'
'It is education for a very grave professionif you mean that
Rosa' Mrs. Steerforth answered with some coldness.


'Oh! Yes! That's very true' returned Miss Dartle. 'But isn't
itthough? - I want to be put rightif I am wrong - isn't it
really?'


'Really what?' said Mrs. Steerforth.


'Oh! You mean it's not!' returned Miss Dartle. 'WellI'm very
glad to hear it! NowI know what to do! That's the advantage of
asking. I shall never allow people to talk before me about
wastefulness and profligacyand so forthin connexion with that
lifeany more.'


'And you will be right' said Mrs. Steerforth. 'My son's tutor is
a conscientious gentleman; and if I had not implicit reliance on my
sonI should have reliance on him.'


'Should you?' said Miss Dartle. 'Dear me! Conscientiousis he?
Really conscientiousnow?'


'YesI am convinced of it' said Mrs. Steerforth.


'How very nice!' exclaimed Miss Dartle. 'What a comfort! Really
conscientious? Then he's not - but of course he can't beif he's
really conscientious. WellI shall be quite happy in my opinion
of himfrom this time. You can't think how it elevates him in my
opinionto know for certain that he's really conscientious!'


Her own views of every questionand her correction of everything
that was said to which she was opposedMiss Dartle insinuated in
the same way: sometimesI could not conceal from myselfwith
great powerthough in contradiction even of Steerforth. An
instance happened before dinner was done. Mrs. Steerforth speaking
to me about my intention of going down into SuffolkI said at
hazard how glad I should beif Steerforth would only go there with
me; and explaining to him that I was going to see my old nurseand
Mr. Peggotty's familyI reminded him of the boatman whom he had
seen at school.


'Oh! That bluff fellow!' said Steerforth. 'He had a son with him
hadn't he?'


'No. That was his nephew' I replied; 'whom he adoptedthoughas
a son. He has a very pretty little niece toowhom he adopted as
a daughter. In shorthis house - or rather his boatfor he lives
in oneon dry land - is full of people who are objects of his
generosity and kindness. You would be delighted to see that
household.'


'Should I?' said Steerforth. 'WellI think I should. I must see
what can be done. It would be worth a journey (not to mention the
pleasure of a journey with youDaisy)to see that sort of people
togetherand to make one of 'em.'



My heart leaped with a new hope of pleasure. But it was in
reference to the tone in which he had spoken of 'that sort of
people'that Miss Dartlewhose sparkling eyes had been watchful
of usnow broke in again.

'Ohbutreally? Do tell me. Are theythough?' she said.

'Are they what? And are who what?' said Steerforth.

'That sort of people. - Are they really animals and clodsand
beings of another order? I want to know SO much.'

'Whythere's a pretty wide separation between them and us' said
Steerforthwith indifference. 'They are not to be expected to be
as sensitive as we are. Their delicacy is not to be shockedor
hurt easily. They are wonderfully virtuousI dare say - some
people contend for thatat least; and I am sure I don't want to
contradict them - but they have not very fine naturesand they may
be thankful thatlike their coarse rough skinsthey are not
easily wounded.'

'Really!' said Miss Dartle. 'WellI don't knownowwhen I have
been better pleased than to hear that. It's so consoling! It's
such a delight to know thatwhen they sufferthey don't feel!
Sometimes I have been quite uneasy for that sort of people; but now
I shall just dismiss the idea of themaltogether. Live and learn.
I had my doubtsI confessbut now they're cleared up. I didn't
knowand now I do knowand that shows the advantage of asking don't
it?'

I believed that Steerforth had said what he hadin jestor to
draw Miss Dartle out; and I expected him to say as much when she
was goneand we two were sitting before the fire. But he merely
asked me what I thought of her.

'She is very cleveris she not?' I asked.

'Clever! She brings everything to a grindstone' said Steerforth
and sharpens itas she has sharpened her own face and figure these
years past. She has worn herself away by constant sharpening. She
is all edge.'

'What a remarkable scar that is upon her lip!' I said.

Steerforth's face felland he paused a moment.

'Whythe fact is' he returned'I did that.'

'By an unfortunate accident!'

'No. I was a young boyand she exasperated meand I threw a
hammer at her. A promising young angel I must have been!'
I was deeply sorry to have touched on such a painful themebut
that was useless now.

'She has borne the mark ever sinceas you see' said Steerforth;
'and she'll bear it to her graveif she ever rests in one - though
I can hardly believe she will ever rest anywhere. She was the
motherless child of a sort of cousin of my father's. He died one
day. My motherwho was then a widowbrought her here to be
company to her. She has a couple of thousand pounds of her own
and saves the interest of it every yearto add to the principal.
There's the history of Miss Rosa Dartle for you.'


'And I have no doubt she loves you like a brother?' said I.

'Humph!' retorted Steerforthlooking at the fire. 'Some brothers
are not loved over much; and some love - but help yourself
Copperfield! We'll drink the daisies of the fieldin compliment
to you; and the lilies of the valley that toil notneither do they
spinin compliment to me - the more shame for me!' A moody smile
that had overspread his features cleared off as he said this
merrilyand he was his own frankwinning self again.

I could not help glancing at the scar with a painful interest when
we went in to tea. It was not long before I observed that it was
the most susceptible part of her faceand thatwhen she turned
palethat mark altered firstand became a dulllead-coloured
streaklengthening out to its full extentlike a mark in
invisible ink brought to the fire. There was a little altercation
between her and Steerforth about a cast of the dice at back gammon

-when I thought herfor one momentin a storm of rage; and then
I saw it start forth like the old writing on the wall.
It was no matter of wonder to me to find Mrs. Steerforth devoted to
her son. She seemed to be able to speak or think about nothing
else. She showed me his picture as an infantin a locketwith
some of his baby-hair in it; she showed me his picture as he had
been when I first knew him; and she wore at her breast his picture
as he was now. All the letters he had ever written to hershe
kept in a cabinet near her own chair by the fire; and she would
have read me some of themand I should have been very glad to hear
them tooif he had not interposedand coaxed her out of the
design.

'It was at Mr. Creakle'smy son tells methat you first became
acquainted' said Mrs. Steerforthas she and I were talking at one
tablewhile they played backgammon at another. 'IndeedI
recollect his speakingat that timeof a pupil younger than
himself who had taken his fancy there; but your nameas you may
supposehas not lived in my memory.'

'He was very generous and noble to me in those daysI assure you
ma'am' said I'and I stood in need of such a friend. I should
have been quite crushed without him.'

'He is always generous and noble' said Mrs. Steerforthproudly.

I subscribed to this with all my heartGod knows. She knew I did;
for the stateliness of her manner already abated towards meexcept
when she spoke in praise of himand then her air was always lofty.

'It was not a fit school generally for my son' said she; 'far from
it; but there were particular circumstances to be considered at the
timeof more importance even than that selection. My son's high
spirit made it desirable that he should be placed with some man who
felt its superiorityand would be content to bow himself before
it; and we found such a man there.'

I knew thatknowing the fellow. And yet I did not despise him the
more for itbut thought it a redeeming quality in him if he could
be allowed any grace for not resisting one so irresistible as
Steerforth.

'My son's great capacity was tempted onthereby a feeling of
voluntary emulation and conscious pride' the fond lady went on to
say. 'He would have risen against all constraint; but he found


himself the monarch of the placeand he haughtily determined to be
worthy of his station. It was like himself.'

I echoedwith all my heart and soulthat it was like himself.

'So my son tookof his own willand on no compulsionto the
course in which he can alwayswhen it is his pleasureoutstrip
every competitor' she pursued. 'My son informs meMr.
Copperfieldthat you were quite devoted to himand that when you
met yesterday you made yourself known to him with tears of joy.
should be an affected woman if I made any pretence of being
surprised by my son's inspiring such emotions; but I cannot be
indifferent to anyone who is so sensible of his meritand I am
very glad to see you hereand can assure you that he feels an
unusual friendship for youand that you may rely on his
protection.'

Miss Dartle played backgammon as eagerly as she did everything
else. If I had seen herfirstat the boardI should have
fancied that her figure had got thinand her eyes had got large
over that pursuitand no other in the world. But I am very much
mistaken if she missed a word of thisor lost a look of mine as I
received it with the utmost pleasureand honoured by Mrs.
Steerforth's confidencefelt older than I had done since I left
Canterbury.

When the evening was pretty far spentand a tray of glasses and
decanters came inSteerforth promisedover the firethat he
would seriously think of going down into the country with me.
There was no hurryhe said; a week hence would do; and his mother
hospitably said the same. While we were talkinghe more than once
called me Daisy; which brought Miss Dartle out again.

'But reallyMr. Copperfield' she asked'is it a nickname? And
why does he give it you? Is it - eh? - because he thinks you young
and innocent? I am so stupid in these things.'

I coloured in replying that I believed it was.

'Oh!' said Miss Dartle. 'Now I am glad to know that! I ask for
informationand I am glad to know it. He thinks you young and
innocent; and so you are his friend. Wellthat's quite
delightful!'

She went to bed soon after thisand Mrs. Steerforth retired too.
Steerforth and Iafter lingering for half-an-hour over the fire
talking about Traddles and all the rest of them at old Salem House
went upstairs together. Steerforth's room was next to mineand I
went in to look at it. It was a picture of comfortfull of
easy-chairscushions and footstoolsworked by his mother's hand
and with no sort of thing omitted that could help to render it
complete. Finallyher handsome features looked down on her
darling from a portrait on the wallas if it were even something
to her that her likeness should watch him while he slept.

I found the fire burning clear enough in my room by this timeand
the curtains drawn before the windows and round the bedgiving it
a very snug appearance. I sat down in a great chair upon the
hearth to meditate on my happiness; and had enjoyed the
contemplation of it for some timewhen I found a likeness of Miss
Dartle looking eagerly at me from above the chimney-piece.

It was a startling likenessand necessarily had a startling look.
The painter hadn't made the scarbut I made it; and there it was


coming and going; now confined to the upper lip as I had seen it at
dinnerand now showing the whole extent of the wound inflicted by
the hammeras I had seen it when she was passionate.

I wondered peevishly why they couldn't put her anywhere else
instead of quartering her on me. To get rid of herI undressed
quicklyextinguished my lightand went to bed. Butas I fell
asleepI could not forget that she was still there looking'Is it
reallythough? I want to know'; and when I awoke in the nightI
found that I was uneasily asking all sorts of people in my dreams
whether it really was or not - without knowing what I meant.

CHAPTER 21
LITTLE EM'LY

There was a servant in that housea man whoI understoodwas
usually with Steerforthand had come into his service at the
Universitywho was in appearance a pattern of respectability. I
believe there never existed in his station a more
respectable-looking man. He was taciturnsoft-footedvery quiet
in his mannerdeferentialobservantalways at hand when wanted
and never near when not wanted; but his great claim to
consideration was his respectability. He had not a pliant facehe
had rather a stiff neckrather a tight smooth head with short hair
clinging to it at the sidesa soft way of speakingwith a
peculiar habit of whispering the letter S so distinctlythat he
seemed to use it oftener than any other man; but every peculiarity
that he had he made respectable. If his nose had been upside-down
he would have made that respectable. He surrounded himself with an
atmosphere of respectabilityand walked secure in it. It would
have been next to impossible to suspect him of anything wronghe
was so thoroughly respectable. Nobody could have thought of
putting him in a liveryhe was so highly respectable. To have
imposed any derogatory work upon himwould have been to inflict a
wanton insult on the feelings of a most respectable man. And of
thisI noticed- the women-servants in the household were so
intuitively consciousthat they always did such work themselves
and generally while he read the paper by the pantry fire.

Such a self-contained man I never saw. But in that qualityas in
every other he possessedhe only seemed to be the more
respectable. Even the fact that no one knew his Christian name
seemed to form a part of his respectability. Nothing could be
objected against his surnameLittimerby which he was known.
Peter might have been hangedor Tom transported; but Littimer was
perfectly respectable.

It was occasionedI supposeby the reverend nature of
respectability in the abstractbut I felt particularly young in
this man's presence. How old he was himselfI could not guess and
that again went to his credit on the same score; for in the
calmness of respectability he might have numbered fifty years as
well as thirty.

Littimer was in my room in the morning before I was upto bring me
that reproachful shaving-waterand to put out my clothes. When I
undrew the curtains and looked out of bedI saw himin an equable
temperature of respectabilityunaffected by the east wind of
Januaryand not even breathing frostilystanding my boots right
and left in the first dancing positionand blowing specks of dust
off my coat as he laid it down like a baby.


I gave him good morningand asked him what o'clock it was. He
took out of his pocket the most respectable hunting-watch I ever
sawand preventing the spring with his thumb from opening far
looked in at the face as if he were consulting an oracular oyster
shut it up againand saidif I pleasedit was half past eight.

'Mr. Steerforth will be glad to hear how you have restedsir.'

'Thank you' said I'very well indeed. Is Mr. Steerforth quite
well?'

'Thank yousirMr. Steerforth is tolerably well.' Another of his
characteristics - no use of superlatives. A cool calm medium
always.

'Is there anything more I can have the honour of doing for you
sir? The warning-bell will ring at nine; the family take breakfast
at half past nine.'

'NothingI thank you.'

'I thank YOUsirif you please'; and with thatand with a little
inclination of his head when he passed the bed-sideas an apology
for correcting mehe went outshutting the door as delicately as
if I had just fallen into a sweet sleep on which my life depended.

Every morning we held exactly this conversation: never any more
and never any less: and yetinvariablyhowever far I might have
been lifted out of myself over-nightand advanced towards maturer
yearsby Steerforth's companionshipor Mrs. Steerforth's
confidenceor Miss Dartle's conversationin the presence of this
most respectable man I becameas our smaller poets sing'a boy
again'.

He got horses for us; and Steerforthwho knew everythinggave me
lessons in riding. He provided foils for usand Steerforth gave
me lessons in fencing - glovesand I beganof the same masterto
improve in boxing. It gave me no manner of concern that Steerforth
should find me a novice in these sciencesbut I never could bear
to show my want of skill before the respectable Littimer. I had no
reason to believe that Littimer understood such arts himself; he
never led me to suppose anything of the kindby so much as the
vibration of one of his respectable eyelashes; yet whenever he was
bywhile we were practisingI felt myself the greenest and most
inexperienced of mortals.

I am particular about this manbecause he made a particular effect
on me at that timeand because of what took place thereafter.

The week passed away in a most delightful manner. It passed
rapidlyas may be supposedto one entranced as I was; and yet it
gave me so many occasions for knowing Steerforth betterand
admiring him more in a thousand respectsthat at its close I
seemed to have been with him for a much longer time. A dashing way
he had of treating me like a playthingwas more agreeable to me
than any behaviour he could have adopted. It reminded me of our
old acquaintance; it seemed the natural sequel of it; it showed me
that he was unchanged; it relieved me of any uneasiness I might
have feltin comparing my merits with hisand measuring my claims
upon his friendship by any equal standard; above allit was a
familiarunrestrainedaffectionate demeanour that he used towards
no one else. As he had treated me at school differently from all
the restI joyfully believed that he treated me in life unlike any


other friend he had. I believed that I was nearer to his heart
than any other friendand my own heart warmed with attachment to
him.
He made up his mind to go with me into the countryand the day
arrived for our departure. He had been doubtful at first whether
to take Littimer or notbut decided to leave him at home. The
respectable creaturesatisfied with his lot whatever it was
arranged our portmanteaux on the little carriage that was to take
us into Londonas if they were intended to defy the shocks of
agesand received my modestly proffered donation with perfect
tranquillity.

We bade adieu to Mrs. Steerforth and Miss Dartlewith many thanks
on my partand much kindness on the devoted mother's. The last
thing I saw was Littimer's unruffled eye; fraughtas I fancied
with the silent conviction that I was very young indeed.

What I feltin returning so auspiciously to the old familiar
placesI shall not endeavour to describe. We went down by the
Mail. I was so concernedI recollecteven for the honour of
Yarmouththat when Steerforth saidas we drove through its dark
streets to the innthatas well as he could make outit was a
goodqueerout-of-the-way kind of holeI was highly pleased. We
went to bed on our arrival (I observed a pair of dirty shoes and
gaiters in connexion with my old friend the Dolphin as we passed
that door)and breakfasted late in the morning. Steerforthwho
was in great spiritshad been strolling about the beach before I
was upand had made acquaintancehe saidwith half the boatmen
in the place. Moreoverhe had seenin the distancewhat he was
sure must be the identical house of Mr. Peggottywith smoke coming
out of the chimney; and had had a great mindhe told meto walk
in and swear he was myself grown out of knowledge.

'When do you propose to introduce me thereDaisy?' he said. 'I am
at your disposal. Make your own arrangements.'

'WhyI was thinking that this evening would be a good time
Steerforthwhen they are all sitting round the fire. I should
like you to see it when it's snugit's such a curious place.'

'So be it!' returned Steerforth. 'This evening.'

'I shall not give them any notice that we are hereyou know' said
Idelighted. 'We must take them by surprise.'

'Ohof course! It's no fun' said Steerforth'unless we take
them by surprise. Let us see the natives in their aboriginal
condition.'

'Though they ARE that sort of people that you mentioned' I
returned.

'Aha! What! you recollect my skirmishes with Rosado you?' he
exclaimed with a quick look. 'Confound the girlI am half afraid
of her. She's like a goblin to me. But never mind her. Now what
are you going to do? You are going to see your nurseI suppose?'

'Whyyes' I said'I must see Peggotty first of all.'

'Well' replied Steerforthlooking at his watch. 'Suppose I
deliver you up to be cried over for a couple of hours. Is that
long enough?'

I answeredlaughingthat I thought we might get through it in


that timebut that he must come also; for he would find that his
renown had preceded himand that he was almost as great a
personage as I was.

'I'll come anywhere you like' said Steerforth'or do anything you
like. Tell me where to come to; and in two hours I'll produce
myself in any state you pleasesentimental or comical.'

I gave him minute directions for finding the residence of Mr.
Barkiscarrier to Blunderstone and elsewhere; andon this
understandingwent out alone. There was a sharp bracing air; the
ground was dry; the sea was crisp and clear; the sun was diffusing
abundance of lightif not much warmth; and everything was fresh
and lively. I was so fresh and lively myselfin the pleasure of
being therethat I could have stopped the people in the streets
and shaken hands with them.

The streets looked smallof course. The streets that we have only
seen as children always doI believewhen we go back to them.
But I had forgotten nothing in themand found nothing changed
until I came to Mr. Omer's shop. OMER AND Joram was now written
upwhere OMER used to be; but the inscriptionDRAPERTAILOR
HABERDASHERFUNERAL FURNISHER&c.remained as it was.

My footsteps seemed to tend so naturally to the shop doorafter I
had read these words from over the waythat I went across the road
and looked in. There was a pretty woman at the back of the shop
dancing a little child in her armswhile another little fellow
clung to her apron. I had no difficulty in recognizing either
Minnie or Minnie's children. The glass door of the parlour was not
open; but in the workshop across the yard I could faintly hear the
old tune playingas if it had never left off.

'Is Mr. Omer at home?' said Ientering. 'I should like to see
himfor a momentif he is.'

'Oh yessirhe is at home' said Minnie; 'the weather don't suit
his asthma out of doors. Joecall your grandfather!'

The little fellowwho was holding her aprongave such a lusty
shoutthat the sound of it made him bashfuland he buried his
face in her skirtsto her great admiration. I heard a heavy
puffing and blowing coming towards usand soon Mr. Omer
shorter-winded than of yorebut not much older-lookingstood
before me.

'Servantsir' said Mr. Omer. 'What can I do for yousir?'
'You can shake hands with meMr. Omerif you please' said I
putting out my own. 'You were very good-natured to me oncewhen
I am afraid I didn't show that I thought so.'

'Was I though?' returned the old man. 'I'm glad to hear itbut I
don't remember when. Are you sure it was me?'

'Quite.'

'I think my memory has got as short as my breath' said Mr. Omer
looking at me and shaking his head; 'for I don't remember you.'

'Don't you remember your coming to the coach to meet meand my
having breakfast hereand our riding out to Blunderstone together:
youand Iand Mrs. Joramand Mr. Joram too - who wasn't her
husband then?'


'WhyLord bless my soul!' exclaimed Mr. Omerafter being thrown
by his surprise into a fit of coughing'you don't say so! Minnie
my dearyou recollect? Dear meyes; the party was a ladyI
think?'

'My mother' I rejoined.

'To - be - sure' said Mr. Omertouching my waistcoat with his
forefinger'and there was a little child too! There was two
parties. The little party was laid along with the other party.
Over at Blunderstone it wasof course. Dear me! And how have you
been since?'

Very wellI thanked himas I hoped he had been too.

'Oh! nothing to grumble atyou know' said Mr. Omer. 'I find my
breath gets shortbut it seldom gets longer as a man gets older.
I take it as it comesand make the most of it. That's the best
wayain't it?'

Mr. Omer coughed againin consequence of laughingand was
assisted out of his fit by his daughterwho now stood close beside
usdancing her smallest child on the counter.

'Dear me!' said Mr. Omer. 'Yesto be sure. Two parties! Whyin
that very rideif you'll believe methe day was named for my
Minnie to marry Joram. "Do name itsir says Joram. Yesdo
father says Minnie. And now he's come into the business. And
look here! The youngest!'

Minnie laughed, and stroked her banded hair upon her temples, as
her father put one of his fat fingers into the hand of the child
she was dancing on the counter.

'Two parties, of course!' said Mr. Omer, nodding his head
retrospectively. 'Ex-actly so! And Joram's at work, at this
minute, on a grey one with silver nails, not this measurement' the
measurement of the dancing child upon the counter - 'by a good
two inches. - Will you take something?'

I thanked him, but declined.

'Let me see,' said Mr. Omer. 'Barkis's the carrier's wife -
Peggotty's the boatman's sister - she had something to do with your
family? She was in service there, sure?'

My answering in the affirmative gave him great satisfaction.

'I believe my breath will get long next, my memory's getting so
much so,' said Mr. Omer. 'Well, sir, we've got a young relation of
hers here, under articles to us, that has as elegant a taste in the
dress-making business - I assure you I don't believe there's a
Duchess in England can touch her.'

'Not little Em'ly?' said I, involuntarily.

'Em'ly's her name,' said Mr. Omer, 'and she's little too. But if
you'll believe me, she has such a face of her own that half the
women in this town are mad against her.'

'Nonsense, father!' cried Minnie.

'My dear,' said Mr. Omer, 'I don't say it's the case with you,'
winking at me, 'but I say that half the women in Yarmouth - ah! and


in five mile round - are mad against that girl.'

'Then she should have kept to her own station in life, father,'
said Minnie, 'and not have given them any hold to talk about her,
and then they couldn't have done it.'

'Couldn't have done it, my dear!' retorted Mr. Omer. 'Couldn't
have done it! Is that YOUR knowledge of life? What is there that
any woman couldn't do, that she shouldn't do - especially on the
subject of another woman's good looks?'

I really thought it was all over with Mr. Omer, after he had
uttered this libellous pleasantry. He coughed to that extent, and
his breath eluded all his attempts to recover it with that
obstinacy, that I fully expected to see his head go down behind the
counter, and his little black breeches, with the rusty little
bunches of ribbons at the knees, come quivering up in a last
ineffectual struggle. At length, however, he got better, though he
still panted hard, and was so exhausted that he was obliged to sit
on the stool of the shop-desk.

'You see,' he said, wiping his head, and breathing with difficulty,
'she hasn't taken much to any companions here; she hasn't taken
kindly to any particular acquaintances and friends, not to mention
sweethearts. In consequence, an ill-natured story got about, that
Em'ly wanted to be a lady. Now my opinion is, that it came into
circulation principally on account of her sometimes saying, at the
school, that if she was a lady she would like to do so-and-so for
her uncle - don't you see? - and buy him such-and-such fine
things.'

'I assure you, Mr. Omer, she has said so to me,' I returned
eagerly, 'when we were both children.'

Mr. Omer nodded his head and rubbed his chin. 'Just so. Then out
of a very little, she could dress herself, you see, better than
most others could out of a deal, and that made things unpleasant.
Moreover, she was rather what might be called wayward - I'll go so
far as to say what I should call wayward myself,' said Mr. Omer; 'didn't
know her own mind quite - a little spoiled - and couldn't,
at first, exactly bind herself down. No more than that was ever
said against her, Minnie?'

'No, father,' said Mrs. Joram. 'That's the worst, I believe.'

'So when she got a situation,' said Mr. Omer, 'to keep a fractious
old lady company, they didn't very well agree, and she didn't stop.
At last she came here, apprenticed for three years. Nearly two of
'em are over, and she has been as good a girl as ever was. Worth
any six! Minnie, is she worth any six, now?'

'Yes, father,' replied Minnie. 'Never say I detracted from her!'

'Very good,' said Mr. Omer. 'That's right. And so, young
gentleman,' he added, after a few moments' further rubbing of his
chin, 'that you may not consider me long-winded as well as
short-breathed, I believe that's all about it.'

As they had spoken in a subdued tone, while speaking of Em'ly, I
had no doubt that she was near. On my asking now, if that were not
so, Mr. Omer nodded yes, and nodded towards the door of the
parlour. My hurried inquiry if I might peep in, was answered with
a free permission; and, looking through the glass, I saw her
sitting at her work. I saw her, a most beautiful little creature,


with the cloudless blue eyes, that had looked into my childish
heart, turned laughingly upon another child of Minnie's who was
playing near her; with enough of wilfulness in her bright face to
justify what I had heard; with much of the old capricious coyness
lurking in it; but with nothing in her pretty looks, I am sure, but
what was meant for goodness and for happiness, and what was on a
good and

happy course.

The tune across the yard that seemed as if it never had left off alas!
it was the tune that never DOES leave off - was beating,
softly, all the while.

'Wouldn't you like to step in,' said Mr. Omer, 'and speak to her?
Walk in and speak to her, sir! Make yourself at home!'

I was too bashful to do so then - I was afraid of confusing her,
and I was no less afraid of confusing myself.- but I informed
myself of the hour at which she left of an evening, in order that
our visit might be timed accordingly; and taking leave of Mr. Omer,
and his pretty daughter, and her little children, went away to my
dear old Peggotty's.

Here she was, in the tiled kitchen, cooking dinner! The moment I
knocked at the door she opened it, and asked me what I pleased to
want. I looked at her with a smile, but she gave me no smile in
return. I had never ceased to write to her, but it must have been
seven years since we had met.

'Is Mr. Barkis at home, ma'am?' I said, feigning to speak roughly
to her.

'He's at home, sir,' returned Peggotty, 'but he's bad abed with the
rheumatics.'

'Don't he go over to Blunderstone now?' I asked.

'When he's well he do,' she answered.

'Do YOU ever go there, Mrs. Barkis?'

She looked at me more attentively, and I noticed a quick movement
of her hands towards each other.

'Because I want to ask a question about a house there, that they
call the - what is it? - the Rookery,' said I.

She took a step backward, and put out her hands in an undecided
frightened way, as if to keep me off.

'Peggotty!' I cried to her.

She cried, 'My darling boy!' and we both burst into tears, and were
locked in one another's arms.

What extravagances she committed; what laughing and crying over me;
what pride she showed, what joy, what sorrow that she whose pride
and joy I might have been, could never hold me in a fond embrace;
I have not the heart to tell. I was troubled with no misgiving
that it was young in me to respond to her emotions. I had never
laughed and cried in all my life, I dare say - not even to her more
freely than I did that morning.


'Barkis will be so glad,' said Peggotty, wiping her eyes with her
apron, 'that it'll do him more good than pints of liniment. May I
go and tell him you are here? Will you come up and see him, my
dear?'

Of course I would. But Peggotty could not get out of the room as
easily as she meant to, for as often as she got to the door and
looked round at me, she came back again to have another laugh and
another cry upon my shoulder. At last, to make the matter easier,
I went upstairs with her; and having waited outside for a minute,
while she said a word of preparation to Mr. Barkis, presented
myself before that invalid.

He received me with absolute enthusiasm. He was too rheumatic to
be shaken hands with, but he begged me to shake the tassel on the
top of his nightcap, which I did most cordially. When I sat down
by the side of the bed, he said that it did him a world of good to
feel as if he was driving me on the Blunderstone road again. As he
lay in bed, face upward, and so covered, with that exception, that
he seemed to be nothing but a face - like a conventional cherubim

-he looked the queerest object I ever beheld.
'What name was it, as I wrote up in the cart, sir?' said Mr.
Barkis, with a slow rheumatic smile.

'Ah! Mr. Barkis, we had some grave talks about that matter, hadn't
we?'

'I was willin' a long time, sir?' said Mr. Barkis.

'A long time,' said I.

'And I don't regret it,' said Mr. Barkis. 'Do you remember what
you told me once, about her making all the apple parsties and doing
all the cooking?'

'Yes, very well,' I returned.

'It was as true,' said Mr. Barkis, 'as turnips is. It was as
true,' said Mr. Barkis, nodding his nightcap, which was his only
means of emphasis, 'as taxes is. And nothing's truer than them.'

Mr. Barkis turned his eyes upon me, as if for my assent to this
result of his reflections in bed; and I gave it.

'Nothing's truer than them,' repeated Mr. Barkis; 'a man as poor as
I am, finds that out in his mind when he's laid up. I'm a very
poor man, sir!'

'I am sorry to hear it, Mr. Barkis.'

'A very poor man, indeed I am,' said Mr. Barkis.

Here his right hand came slowly and feebly from under the
bedclothes, and with a purposeless uncertain grasp took hold of a
stick which was loosely tied to the side of the bed. After some
poking about with this instrument, in the course of which his face
assumed a variety of distracted expressions, Mr. Barkis poked it
against a box, an end of which had been visible to me all the time.
Then his face became composed.

'Old clothes,' said Mr. Barkis.

'Oh!' said I.


'I wish it was Money, sir,' said Mr. Barkis.

'I wish it was, indeed,' said I.

'But it AIN'T,' said Mr. Barkis, opening both his eyes as wide as
he possibly could.

I expressed myself quite sure of that, and Mr. Barkis, turning his
eyes more gently to his wife, said:

'She's the usefullest and best of women, C. P. Barkis. All the
praise that anyone can give to C. P. Barkis, she deserves, and
more! My dear, you'll get a dinner today, for company; something
good to eat and drink, will you?'

I should have protested against this unnecessary demonstration in
my honour, but that I saw Peggotty, on the opposite side of the
bed, extremely anxious I should not. So I held my peace.

'I have got a trifle of money somewhere about me, my dear,' said
Mr. Barkis, 'but I'm a little tired. If you and Mr. David will
leave me for a short nap, I'll try and find it when I wake.'

We left the room, in compliance with this request. When we got
outside the door, Peggotty informed me that Mr. Barkis, being now
'a little nearer' than he used to be, always resorted to this same
device before producing a single coin from his store; and that he
endured unheard-of agonies in crawling out of bed alone, and taking
it from that unlucky box. In effect, we presently heard him
uttering suppressed groans of the most dismal nature, as this
magpie proceeding racked him in every joint; but while Peggotty's
eyes were full of compassion for him, she said his generous impulse
would do him good, and it was better not to check it. So he
groaned on, until he had got into bed again, suffering, I have no
doubt, a martyrdom; and then called us in, pretending to have just
woke up from a refreshing sleep, and to produce a guinea from under
his pillow. His satisfaction in which happy imposition on us, and
in having preserved the impenetrable secret of the box, appeared to
be a sufficient compensation to him for all his tortures.

I prepared Peggotty for Steerforth's arrival and it was not long
before he came. I am persuaded she knew no difference between his
having been a personal benefactor of hers, and a kind friend to me,
and that she would have received him with the utmost gratitude and
devotion in any case. But his easy, spirited good humour; his
genial manner, his handsome looks, his natural gift of adapting
himself to whomsoever he pleased, and making direct, when he cared
to do it, to the main point of interest in anybody's heart; bound
her to him wholly in five minutes. His manner to me, alone, would
have won her. But, through all these causes combined, I sincerely
believe she had a kind of adoration for him before he left the
house that night.

He stayed there with me to dinner - if I were to say willingly, I
should not half express how readily and gaily. He went into Mr.
Barkis's room like light and air, brightening and refreshing it as
if he were healthy weather. There was no noise, no effort, no
consciousness, in anything he did; but in everything an
indescribable lightness, a seeming impossibility of doing anything
else, or doing anything better, which was so graceful, so natural,
and agreeable, that it overcomes me, even now, in the remembrance.

We made merry in the little parlour, where the Book of Martyrs,


unthumbed since my time, was laid out upon the desk as of old, and
where I now turned over its terrific pictures, remembering the old
sensations they had awakened, but not feeling them. When Peggotty
spoke of what she called my room, and of its being ready for me at
night, and of her hoping I would occupy it, before I could so much
as look at Steerforth, hesitating, he was possessed of the whole
case.

'Of course,' he said. 'You'll sleep here, while we stay, and I
shall sleep at the hotel.'

'But to bring you so far,' I returned, 'and to separate, seems bad
companionship, Steerforth.'

'Why, in the name of Heaven, where do you naturally belong?' he
said. 'What is seems"compared to that?' It was settled at
once.

He maintained all his delightful qualities to the lastuntil we
started forthat eight o'clockfor Mr. Peggotty's boat. Indeed
they were more and more brightly exhibited as the hours went on;
for I thought even thenand I have no doubt nowthat the
consciousness of success in his determination to pleaseinspired
him with a new delicacy of perceptionand made itsubtle as it
wasmore easy to him. If anyone had told methenthat all this
was a brilliant gameplayed for the excitement of the momentfor
the employment of high spiritsin the thoughtless love of
superiorityin a mere wasteful careless course of winning what was
worthless to himand next minute thrown away - I sayif anyone
had told me such a lie that nightI wonder in what manner of
receiving it my indignation would have found a vent! Probably only
in an increasehad that been possibleof the romantic feelings of
fidelity and friendship with which I walked beside himover the
dark wintry sands towards the old boat; the wind sighing around us
even more mournfullythan it had sighed and moaned upon the night
when I first darkened Mr. Peggotty's door.

'This is a wild kind of placeSteerforthis it not?'

'Dismal enough in the dark' he said: 'and the sea roars as if it
were hungry for us. Is that the boatwhere I see a light yonder?'
'That's the boat' said I.

'And it's the same I saw this morning' he returned. 'I came
straight to itby instinctI suppose.'

We said no more as we approached the lightbut made softly for the
door. I laid my hand upon the latch; and whispering Steerforth to
keep close to mewent in.

A murmur of voices had been audible on the outsideandat the
moment of our entrancea clapping of hands: which latter noiseI
was surprised to seeproceeded from the generally disconsolate
Mrs. Gummidge. But Mrs. Gummidge was not the only person there who
was unusually excited. Mr. Peggottyhis face lighted up with
uncommon satisfactionand laughing with all his mightheld his
rough arms wide openas if for little Em'ly to run into them; Ham
with a mixed expression in his face of admirationexultationand
a lumbering sort of bashfulness that sat upon him very wellheld
little Em'ly by the handas if he were presenting her to Mr.
Peggotty; little Em'ly herselfblushing and shybut delighted
with Mr. Peggotty's delightas her joyous eyes expressedwas
stopped by our entrance (for she saw us first) in the very act of
springing from Ham to nestle in Mr. Peggotty's embrace. In the


first glimpse we had of them alland at the moment of our passing
from the dark cold night into the warm light roomthis was the way
in which they were all employed: Mrs. Gummidge in the background
clapping her hands like a madwoman.

The little picture was so instantaneously dissolved by our going
inthat one might have doubted whether it had ever been. I was in
the midst of the astonished familyface to face with Mr. Peggotty
and holding out my hand to himwhen Ham shouted:

'Mas'r Davy! It's Mas'r Davy!'

In a moment we were all shaking hands with one anotherand asking
one another how we didand telling one another how glad we were to
meetand all talking at once. Mr. Peggotty was so proud and
overjoyed to see usthat he did not know what to say or dobut
kept over and over again shaking hands with meand then with
Steerforthand then with meand then ruffling his shaggy hair all
over his headand laughing with such glee and triumphthat it was
a treat to see him.

'Whythat you two gent'lmen - gent'lmen growed - should come to
this here roof tonightof all nights in my life' said Mr.
Peggotty'is such a thing as never happened aforeI do rightly
believe! Em'lymy darlingcome here! Come heremy little
witch! There's Mas'r Davy's friendmy dear! There's the
gent'lman as you've heerd onEm'ly. He comes to see youalong
with Mas'r Davyon the brightest night of your uncle's life as
ever was or will beGorm the t'other oneand horroar for it!'

After delivering this speech all in a breathand with
extraordinary animation and pleasureMr. Peggotty put one of his
large hands rapturously on each side of his niece's faceand
kissing it a dozen timeslaid it with a gentle pride and love upon
his broad chestand patted it as if his hand had been a lady's.
Then he let her go; and as she ran into the little chamber where I
used to sleeplooked round upon usquite hot and out of breath
with his uncommon satisfaction.

'If you two gent'lmen - gent'lmen growed nowand such gent'lmen -'
said Mr. Peggotty.

'So th' areso th' are!' cried Ham. 'Well said! So th' are.
Mas'r Davy bor' - gent'lmen growed - so th' are!'

'If you two gent'lmengent'lmen growed' said Mr. Peggotty'don't
ex-cuse me for being in a state of mindwhen you understand
mattersI'll arks your pardon. Em'lymy dear! - She knows I'm a
going to tell' here his delight broke out again'and has made
off. Would you be so good as look arter herMawtherfor a
minute?'

Mrs. Gummidge nodded and disappeared.

'If this ain't' said Mr. Peggottysitting down among us by the
fire'the brightest night o' my lifeI'm a shellfish - biled too

-and more I can't say. This here little Em'lysir' in a low
voice to Steerforth'- her as you see a blushing here just now -'
Steerforth only nodded; but with such a pleased expression of
interestand of participation in Mr. Peggotty's feelingsthat the
latter answered him as if he had spoken.

'To be sure' said Mr. Peggotty. 'That's herand so she is.


Thankeesir.'

Ham nodded to me several timesas if he would have said so too.

'This here little Em'ly of ours' said Mr. Peggotty'has beenin
our housewhat I suppose (I'm a ignorant manbut that's my
belief) no one but a little bright-eyed creetur can be in a house.
She ain't my child; I never had one; but I couldn't love her more.
You understand! I couldn't do it!'

'I quite understand' said Steerforth.

'I know you dosir' returned Mr. Peggotty'and thankee again.
Mas'r Davyhe can remember what she was; you may judge for your
own self what she is; but neither of you can't fully know what she
has beenisand will beto my loving art. I am roughsir'
said Mr. Peggotty'I am as rough as a Sea Porkypine; but no one
unlessmayhapit is a womancan knowI thinkwhat our little
Em'ly is to me. And betwixt ourselves' sinking his voice lower
yet'that woman's name ain't Missis Gummidge neitherthough she
has a world of merits.'
Mr. Peggotty ruffled his hair againwith both handsas a further
preparation for what he was going to sayand went onwith a hand
upon each of his knees:

'There was a certain person as had know'd our Em'lyfrom the time
when her father was drownded; as had seen her constant; when a
babbywhen a young galwhen a woman. Not much of a person to
look athe warn't' said Mr. Peggotty'something o' my own build

-rough - a good deal o' the sou'-wester in him - wery salt - but
on the wholea honest sort of a chapwith his art in the right
place.'
I thought I had never seen Ham grin to anything like the extent to
which he sat grinning at us now.

'What does this here blessed tarpaulin go and do' said Mr.
Peggottywith his face one high noon of enjoyment'but he loses
that there art of his to our little Em'ly. He follers her about
he makes hisself a sort o' servant to herhe loses in a great
measure his relish for his wittlesand in the long-run he makes it
clear to me wot's amiss. Now I could wish myselfyou seethat
our little Em'ly was in a fair way of being married. I could wish
to see herat all ewentsunder articles to a honest man as had a
right to defend her. I don't know how long I may liveor how soon
I may die; but I know that if I was capsizedany nightin a gale
of wind in Yarmouth Roads hereand was to see the town-lights
shining for the last time over the rollers as I couldn't make no
head againstI could go down quieter for thinking "There's a man
ashore thereiron-true to my little Em'lyGod bless herand no
wrong can touch my Em'ly while so be as that man lives."'

Mr. Peggottyin simple earnestnesswaved his right armas if he
were waving it at the town-lights for the last timeand then
exchanging a nod with Hamwhose eye he caughtproceeded as
before.

'Well! I counsels him to speak to Em'ly. He's big enoughbut he's
bashfuller than a little unand he don't like. So I speak.
What! Him!says Em'ly. "Him that I've know'd so intimate so
many yearsand like so much. OhUncle! I never can have him.
He's such a good fellow!" I gives her a kissand I says no more to
her thanMy dear, you're right to speak out, you're to choose for
yourself, you're as free as a little bird.Then I aways to him


and I saysI wish it could have been so, but it can't. But you
can both be as you was, and wot I say to you is, Be as you was with
her, like a man.He says to mea-shaking of my handI will!he
says. And he was - honourable and manful - for two year going on
and we was just the same at home here as afore.'

Mr. Peggotty's facewhich had varied in its expression with the
various stages of his narrativenow resumed all its former
triumphant delightas he laid a hand upon my knee and a hand upon
Steerforth's (previously wetting them bothfor the greater
emphasis of the action)and divided the following speech between
us:

'All of a suddenone evening - as it might be tonight - comes
little Em'ly from her workand him with her! There ain't so much
in thatyou'll say. Nobecause he takes care on herlike a
brotherarter darkand indeed afore darkand at all times. But
this tarpaulin chaphe takes hold of her handand he cries out to
mejoyfulLook here! This is to be my little wife!And she
sayshalf bold and half shyand half a laughing and half a
cryingYes, Uncle! If you please.- If I please!' cried Mr.
Peggottyrolling his head in an ecstasy at the idea; 'Lordas if
I should do anythink else! - "If you pleaseI am steadier nowand
I have thought better of itand I'll be as good a little wife as
I can to himfor he's a deargood fellow!" Then Missis Gummidge
she claps her hands like a playand you come in. Theer! the
murder's out!' said Mr. Peggotty - 'You come in! It took place
this here present hour; and here's the man that'll marry herthe
minute she's out of her time.'

Ham staggeredas well he mightunder the blow Mr. Peggotty dealt
him in his unbounded joyas a mark of confidence and friendship;
but feeling called upon to say something to ushe saidwith much
faltering and great difficulty:

'She warn't no higher than you wasMas'r Davy - when you first
come - when I thought what she'd grow up to be. I see her grown up

-gent'lmen - like a flower. I'd lay down my life for her - Mas'r
Davy - Oh! most content and cheerful! She's more to me - gent'lmen
-than - she's all to me that ever I can wantand more than ever
I - than ever I could say. I - I love her true. There ain't a
gent'lman in all the land - nor yet sailing upon all the sea - that
can love his lady more than I love herthough there's many a
common man - would say better - what he meant.'
I thought it affecting to see such a sturdy fellow as Ham was now
trembling in the strength of what he felt for the pretty little
creature who had won his heart. I thought the simple confidence
reposed in us by Mr. Peggotty and by himselfwasin itself
affecting. I was affected by the story altogether. How far my
emotions were influenced by the recollections of my childhoodI
don't know. Whether I had come there with any lingering fancy that
I was still to love little Em'lyI don't know. I know that I was
filled with pleasure by all this; butat firstwith an
indescribably sensitive pleasurethat a very little would have
changed to pain.

Thereforeif it had depended upon me to touch the prevailing chord
among them with any skillI should have made a poor hand of it.
But it depended upon Steerforth; and he did it with such address
that in a few minutes we were all as easy and as happy as it was
possible to be.

'Mr. Peggotty' he said'you are a thoroughly good fellowand


deserve to be as happy as you are tonight. My hand upon it! Ham
I give you joymy boy. My hand upon thattoo! Daisystir the
fireand make it a brisk one! and Mr. Peggottyunless you can
induce your gentle niece to come back (for whom I vacate this seat
in the corner)I shall go. Any gap at your fireside on such a
night - such a gap least of all - I wouldn't makefor the wealth
of the Indies!'

So Mr. Peggotty went into my old room to fetch little Em'ly. At
first little Em'ly didn't like to comeand then Ham went.
Presently they brought her to the firesidevery much confusedand
very shy- but she soon became more assured when she found how
gently and respectfully Steerforth spoke to her; how skilfully he
avoided anything that would embarrass her; how he talked to Mr.
Peggotty of boatsand shipsand tidesand fish; how he referred
to me about the time when he had seen Mr. Peggotty at Salem House;
how delighted he was with the boat and all belonging to it; how
lightly and easily he carried onuntil he brought usby degrees
into a charmed circleand we were all talking away without any
reserve.

Em'lyindeedsaid little all the evening; but she lookedand
listenedand her face got animatedand she was charming.
Steerforth told a story of a dismal shipwreck (which arose out of
his talk with Mr. Peggotty)as if he saw it all before him - and
little Em'ly's eyes were fastened on him all the timeas if she
saw it too. He told us a merry adventure of his ownas a relief
to thatwith as much gaiety as if the narrative were as fresh to
him as it was to us - and little Em'ly laughed until the boat rang
with the musical soundsand we all laughed (Steerforth too)in
irresistible sympathy with what was so pleasant and light-hearted.
He got Mr. Peggotty to singor rather to roar'When the stormy
winds do blowdo blowdo blow'; and he sang a sailor's song
himselfso pathetically and beautifullythat I could have almost
fancied that the real wind creeping sorrowfully round the house
and murmuring low through our unbroken silencewas there to
listen.

As to Mrs. Gummidgehe roused that victim of despondency with a
success never attained by anyone else (so Mr. Peggotty informed
me)since the decease of the old one. He left her so little
leisure for being miserablethat she said next day she thought she
must have been bewitched.

But he set up no monopoly of the general attentionor the
conversation. When little Em'ly grew more courageousand talked
(but still bashfully) across the fire to meof our old wanderings
upon the beachto pick up shells and pebbles; and when I asked her
if she recollected how I used to be devoted to her; and when we
both laughed and reddenedcasting these looks back on the pleasant
old timesso unreal to look at now; he was silent and attentive
and observed us thoughtfully. She satat this timeand all the
eveningon the old locker in her old little corner by the fire -
Ham beside herwhere I used to sit. I could not satisfy myself
whether it was in her own little tormenting wayor in a maidenly
reserve before usthat she kept quite close to the walland away
from him; but I observed that she did soall the evening.

As I rememberit was almost midnight when we took our leave. We
had had some biscuit and dried fish for supperand Steerforth had
produced from his pocket a full flask of Hollandswhich we men (I
may say we mennowwithout a blush) had emptied. We parted
merrily; and as they all stood crowded round the door to light us
as far as they could upon our roadI saw the sweet blue eyes of


little Em'ly peeping after usfrom behind Hamand heard her soft
voice calling to us to be careful how we went.

'A most engaging little Beauty!' said Steerforthtaking my arm.
'Well! It's a quaint placeand they are quaint companyand it's
quite a new sensation to mix with them.'

'How fortunate we aretoo' I returned'to have arrived to
witness their happiness in that intended marriage! I never saw
people so happy. How delightful to see itand to be made the
sharers in their honest joyas we have been!'

'That's rather a chuckle-headed fellow for the girl; isn't he?'
said Steerforth.

He had been so hearty with himand with them allthat I felt a
shock in this unexpected and cold reply. But turning quickly upon
himand seeing a laugh in his eyesI answeredmuch relieved:

'AhSteerforth! It's well for you to joke about the poor! You
may skirmish with Miss Dartleor try to hide your sympathies in
jest from mebut I know better. When I see how perfectly you
understand themhow exquisitely you can enter into happiness like
this plain fisherman'sor humour a love like my old nurse'sI
know that there is not a joy or sorrownot an emotionof such
peoplethat can be indifferent to you. And I admire and love you
for itSteerforthtwenty times the more!'

He stoppedandlooking in my facesaid'DaisyI believe you
are in earnestand are good. I wish we all were!' Next moment he
was gaily singing Mr. Peggotty's songas we walked at a round pace
back to Yarmouth.

CHAPTER 22
SOME OLD SCENESAND SOME NEW PEOPLE

Steerforth and I stayed for more than a fortnight in that part of
the country. We were very much togetherI need not say; but
occasionally we were asunder for some hours at a time. He was a
good sailorand I was but an indifferent one; and when he went out
boating with Mr. Peggottywhich was a favourite amusement of his
I generally remained ashore. My occupation of Peggotty's
spare-room put a constraint upon mefrom which he was free: for
knowing how assiduously she attended on Mr. Barkis all dayI did
not like to remain out late at night; whereas Steerforthlying at
the Innhad nothing to consult but his own humour. Thus it came
aboutthat I heard of his making little treats for the fishermen
at Mr. Peggotty's house of call'The Willing Mind'after I was in
bedand of his being afloatwrapped in fishermen's clotheswhole
moonlight nightsand coming back when the morning tide was at
flood. By this timehoweverI knew that his restless nature and
bold spirits delighted to find a vent in rough toil and hard
weatheras in any other means of excitement that presented itself
freshly to him; so none of his proceedings surprised me.

Another cause of our being sometimes apartwasthat I had
naturally an interest in going over to Blunderstoneand revisiting
the old familiar scenes of my childhood; while Steerforthafter
being there oncehad naturally no great interest in going there
again. Henceon three or four days that I can at once recallwe
went our several ways after an early breakfastand met again at a


late dinner. I had no idea how he employed his time in the
intervalbeyond a general knowledge that he was very popular in
the placeand had twenty means of actively diverting himself where
another man might not have found one.

For my own partmy occupation in my solitary pilgrimages was to
recall every yard of the old road as I went along itand to haunt
the old spotsof which I never tired. I haunted themas my
memory had often doneand lingered among them as my younger
thoughts had lingered when I was far away. The grave beneath the
treewhere both my parents lay - on which I had looked outwhen
it was my father's onlywith such curious feelings of compassion
and by which I had stoodso desolatewhen it was opened to
receive my pretty mother and her baby - the grave which Peggotty's
own faithful care had ever since kept neatand made a garden of
I walked nearby the hour. It lay a little off the churchyard
pathin a quiet cornernot so far removed but I could read the
names upon the stone as I walked to and frostartled by the sound
of the church-bell when it struck the hourfor it was like a
departed voice to me. My reflections at these times were always
associated with the figure I was to make in lifeand the
distinguished things I was to do. My echoing footsteps went to no
other tunebut were as constant to that as if I had come home to
build my castles in the air at a living mother's side.

There were great changes in my old home. The ragged nestsso long
deserted by the rookswere gone; and the trees were lopped and
topped out of their remembered shapes. The garden had run wild
and half the windows of the house were shut up. It was occupied
but only by a poor lunatic gentlemanand the people who took care
of him. He was always sitting at my little windowlooking out
into the churchyard; and I wondered whether his rambling thoughts
ever went upon any of the fancies that used to occupy mineon the
rosy mornings when I peeped out of that same little window in my
night-clothesand saw the sheep quietly feeding in the light of
the rising sun.

Our old neighboursMr. and Mrs. Grayperwere gone to South
Americaand the rain had made its way through the roof of their
empty houseand stained the outer walls. Mr. Chillip was married
again to a tallraw-bonedhigh-nosed wife; and they had a weazen
little babywith a heavy head that it couldn't hold upand two
weak staring eyeswith which it seemed to be always wondering why
it had ever been born.

It was with a singular jumble of sadness and pleasure that I used
to linger about my native placeuntil the reddening winter sun
admonished me that it was time to start on my returning walk. But
when the place was left behindand especially when Steerforth and
I were happily seated over our dinner by a blazing fireit was
delicious to think of having been there. So it wasthough in a
softened degreewhen I went to my neat room at night; andturning
over the leaves of the crocodile-book (which was always thereupon
a little table)remembered with a grateful heart how blest I was
in having such a friend as Steerforthsuch a friend as Peggotty
and such a substitute for what I had lost as my excellent and
generous aunt.

MY nearest way to Yarmouthin coming back from these long walks
was by a ferry. It landed me on the flat between the town and the
seawhich I could make straight acrossand so save myself a
considerable circuit by the high road. Mr. Peggotty's house being
on that waste-placeand not a hundred yards out of my trackI
always looked in as I went by. Steerforth was pretty sure to be


there expecting meand we went on together through the frosty air
and gathering fog towards the twinkling lights of the town.

One dark eveningwhen I was later than usual - for I hadthat
daybeen making my parting visit to Blunderstoneas we were now
about to return home - I found him alone in Mr. Peggotty's house
sitting thoughtfully before the fire. He was so intent upon his
own reflections that he was quite unconscious of my approach.
Thisindeedhe might easily have been if he had been less
absorbedfor footsteps fell noiselessly on the sandy ground
outside; but even my entrance failed to rouse him. I was standing
close to himlooking at him; and stillwith a heavy browhe was
lost in his meditations.

He gave such a start when I put my hand upon his shoulderthat he
made me start too.

'You come upon me' he saidalmost angrily'like a reproachful
ghost!'

'I was obliged to announce myselfsomehow' I replied. 'Have I
called you down from the stars?'

'No' he answered. 'No.'

'Up from anywherethen?' said Itaking my seat near him.

'I was looking at the pictures in the fire' he returned.

'But you are spoiling them for me' said Ias he stirred it
quickly with a piece of burning woodstriking out of it a train of
red-hot sparks that went careering up the little chimneyand
roaring out into the air.

'You would not have seen them' he returned. 'I detest this
mongrel timeneither day nor night. How late you are! Where have
you been?'

'I have been taking leave of my usual walk' said I.

'And I have been sitting here' said Steerforthglancing round the
room'thinking that all the people we found so glad on the night
of our coming downmight - to judge from the present wasted air of
the place - be dispersedor deador come to I don't know what
harm. DavidI wish to God I had had a judicious father these last
twenty years!'

'My dear Steerforthwhat is the matter?'

'I wish with all my soul I had been better guided!' he exclaimed.
'I wish with all my soul I could guide myself better!'

There was a passionate dejection in his manner that quite amazed
me. He was more unlike himself than I could have supposed
possible.

'It would be better to be this poor Peggottyor his lout of a
nephew' he saidgetting up and leaning moodily against the
chimney-piecewith his face towards the fire'than to be myself
twenty times richer and twenty times wiserand be the torment to
myself that I have beenin this Devil's bark of a boatwithin the
last half-hour!'

I was so confounded by the alteration in himthat at first I could


only observe him in silenceas he stood leaning his head upon his
handand looking gloomily down at the fire. At length I begged
himwith all the earnestness I feltto tell me what had occurred
to cross him so unusuallyand to let me sympathize with himif I
could not hope to advise him. Before I had well concludedhe
began to laugh - fretfully at firstbut soon with returning
gaiety.

'Tutit's nothingDaisy! nothing!' he replied. 'I told you at
the inn in LondonI am heavy company for myselfsometimes. I
have been a nightmare to myselfjust now - must have had oneI
think. At odd dull timesnursery tales come up into the memory
unrecognized for what they are. I believe I have been confounding
myself with the bad boy who "didn't care"and became food for
lions - a grander kind of going to the dogsI suppose. What old
women call the horrorshave been creeping over me from head to
foot. I have been afraid of myself.'

'You are afraid of nothing elseI think' said I.

'Perhaps notand yet may have enough to be afraid of too' he
answered. 'Well! So it goes by! I am not about to be hipped
againDavid; but I tell youmy good fellowonce morethat it
would have been well for me (and for more than me) if I had had a
steadfast and judicious father!'

His face was always full of expressionbut I never saw it express
such a dark kind of earnestness as when he said these wordswith
his glance bent on the fire.

'So much for that!' he saidmaking as if he tossed something light
into the airwith his hand. "'Whybeing goneI am a man again
like Macbeth. And now for dinner! If I have not (Macbeth-like)
broken up the feast with most admired disorder, Daisy.'

'But where are they all, I wonder!' said I.

'God knows,' said Steerforth. 'After strolling to the ferry
looking for you, I strolled in here and found the place deserted.
That set me thinking, and you found me thinking.'

The advent of Mrs. Gummidge with a basket, explained how the house
had happened to be empty. She had hurried out to buy something
that was needed, against Mr. Peggotty's return with the tide; and
had left the door open in the meanwhile, lest Ham and little Em'ly,
with whom it was an early night, should come home while she was
gone. Steerforth, after very much improving Mrs. Gummidge's
spirits by a cheerful salutation and a jocose embrace, took my arm,
and hurried me away.

He had improved his own spirits, no less than Mrs. Gummidge's, for
they were again at their usual flow, and he was full of vivacious
conversation as we went along.

'And so,' he said, gaily, 'we abandon this buccaneer life tomorrow,
do we?'

'So we agreed,' I returned. 'And our places by the coach are
taken, you know.'

'Ay! there's no help for it, I suppose,' said Steerforth. 'I have
almost forgotten that there is anything to do in the world but to
go out tossing on the sea here. I wish there was not.'


'As long as the novelty should last,' said I, laughing.

'Like enough,' he returned; 'though there's a sarcastic meaning in
that observation for an amiable piece of innocence like my young
friend. Well! I dare say I am a capricious fellow, David. I know
I am; but while the iron is hot, I can strike it vigorously too.
I could pass a reasonably good examination already, as a pilot in
these waters, I think.'

'Mr. Peggotty says you are a wonder,' I returned.

'A nautical phenomenon, eh?' laughed Steerforth.

'Indeed he does, and you know how truly; I know how ardent you are
in any pursuit you follow, and how easily you can master it. And
that amazes me most in you, Steerforth- that you should be
contented with such fitful uses of your powers.'

'Contented?' he answered, merrily. 'I am never contented, except
with your freshness, my gentle Daisy. As to fitfulness, I have
never learnt the art of binding myself to any of the wheels on
which the Ixions of these days are turning round and round. I
missed it somehow in a bad apprenticeship, and now don't care about
it. - You know I have bought a boat down here?'

'What an extraordinary fellow you are, Steerforth!' I exclaimed,
stopping - for this was the first I had heard of it. 'When you may
never care to come near the place again!'

'I don't know that,' he returned. 'I have taken a fancy to the
place. At all events,' walking me briskly on, 'I have bought a
boat that was for sale - a clipper, Mr. Peggotty says; and so she
is - and Mr. Peggotty will be master of her in my absence.'

'Now I understand you, Steerforth!' said I, exultingly. 'You
pretend to have bought it for yourself, but you have really done so
to confer a benefit on him. I might have known as much at first,
knowing you. My dear kind Steerforth, how can I tell you what I
think of your generosity?'

'Tush!' he answered, turning red. 'The less said, the better.'

'Didn't I know?' cried I, 'didn't I say that there was not a joy,
or sorrow, or any emotion of such honest hearts that was
indifferent to you?'

'Aye, aye,' he answered, 'you told me all that. There let it rest.
We have said enough!'

Afraid of offending him by pursuing the subject when he made so
light of it, I only pursued it in my thoughts as we went on at even
a quicker pace than before.

'She must be newly rigged,' said Steerforth, 'and I shall leave
Littimer behind to see it done, that I may know she is quite
complete. Did I tell you Littimer had come down?'

' No.'

'Oh yes! came down this morning, with a letter from my mother.'

As our looks met, I observed that he was pale even to his lips,
though he looked very steadily at me. I feared that some
difference between him and his mother might have led to his being


in the frame of mind in which I had found him at the solitary
fireside. I hinted so.

'Oh no!' he said, shaking his head, and giving a slight laugh.
'Nothing of the sort! Yes. He is come down, that man of mine.'

'The same as ever?' said I.

'The same as ever,' said Steerforth. 'Distant and quiet as the
North Pole. He shall see to the boat being fresh named. She's the
Stormy Petrel" now. What does Mr. Peggotty care for Stormy
Petrels! I'll have her christened again.'

'By what name?' I asked.

'The "Little Em'ly".'

As he had continued to look steadily at meI took it as a reminder
that he objected to being extolled for his consideration. I could
not help showing in my face how much it pleased mebut I said
littleand he resumed his usual smileand seemed relieved.

'But see here' he saidlooking before us'where the original
little Em'ly comes! And that fellow with hereh? Upon my soul
he's a true knight. He never leaves her!'

Ham was a boat-builder in these dayshaving improved a natural
ingenuity in that handicraftuntil he had become a skilled
workman. He was in his working-dressand looked rugged enough
but manly withaland a very fit protector for the blooming little
creature at his side. Indeedthere was a frankness in his face
an honestyand an undisguised show of his pride in herand his
love for herwhich wereto methe best of good looks. I
thoughtas they came towards usthat they were well matched even
in that particular.

She withdrew her hand timidly from his arm as we stopped to speak
to themand blushed as she gave it to Steerforth and to me. When
they passed onafter we had exchanged a few wordsshe did not
like to replace that handbutstill appearing timid and
constrainedwalked by herself. I thought all this very pretty and
engagingand Steerforth seemed to think so tooas we looked after
them fading away in the light of a young moon.

Suddenly there passed us - evidently following them - a young woman
whose approach we had not observedbut whose face I saw as she
went byand thought I had a faint remembrance of. She was lightly
dressed; looked boldand haggardand flauntingand poor; but
seemedfor the timeto have given all that to the wind which was
blowingand to have nothing in her mind but going after them. As
the dark distant levelabsorbing their figures into itselfleft
but itself visible between us and the sea and cloudsher figure
disappeared in like mannerstill no nearer to them than before.

'That is a black shadow to be following the girl' said Steerforth
standing still; 'what does it mean?'

He spoke in a low voice that sounded almost strange to Me.

'She must have it in her mind to beg of themI think' said I.

'A beggar would be no novelty' said Steerforth; 'but it is a
strange thing that the beggar should take that shape tonight.'


'Why?' I asked.

'For no better reasontrulythan because I was thinking' he
saidafter a pause'of something like itwhen it came by. Where
the Devil did it come fromI wonder!'

'From the shadow of this wallI think' said Ias we emerged upon
a road on which a wall abutted.

'It's gone!' he returnedlooking over his shoulder. 'And all ill
go with it. Now for our dinner!'

But he looked again over his shoulder towards the sea-line
glimmering afar offand yet again. And he wondered about itin
some broken expressionsseveral timesin the short remainder of
our walk; and only seemed to forget it when the light of fire and
candle shone upon usseated warm and merryat table.

Littimer was thereand had his usual effect upon me. When I said
to him that I hoped Mrs. Steerforth and Miss Dartle were wellhe
answered respectfully (and of course respectably)that they were
tolerably wellhe thanked meand had sent their compliments.
This was alland yet he seemed to me to say as plainly as a man
could say: 'You are very youngsir; you are exceedingly young.'

We had almost finished dinnerwhen taking a step or two towards
the tablefrom the corner where he kept watch upon usor rather
upon meas I felthe said to his master:

'I beg your pardonsir. Miss Mowcher is down here.'

'Who?' cried Steerforthmuch astonished.

'Miss Mowchersir.'

'Whywhat on earth does she do here?' said Steerforth.

'It appears to be her native part of the countrysir. She informs
me that she makes one of her professional visits hereevery year
sir. I met her in the street this afternoonand she wished to
know if she might have the honour of waiting on you after dinner
sir.'

'Do you know the Giantess in questionDaisy?' inquired Steerforth.

I was obliged to confess - I felt ashamedeven of being at this
disadvantage before Littimer - that Miss Mowcher and I were wholly
unacquainted.

'Then you shall know her' said Steerforth'for she is one of the
seven wonders of the world. When Miss Mowcher comesshow her in.'

I felt some curiosity and excitement about this ladyespecially as
Steerforth burst into a fit of laughing when I referred to herand
positively refused to answer any question of which I made her the
subject. I remainedthereforein a state of considerable
expectation until the cloth had been removed some half an hourand
we were sitting over our decanter of wine before the firewhen the
door openedand Littimerwith his habitual serenity quite
undisturbedannounced:

'Miss Mowcher!'

I looked at the doorway and saw nothing. I was still looking at


the doorwaythinking that Miss Mowcher was a long while making her
appearancewhento my infinite astonishmentthere came waddling
round a sofa which stood between me and ita pursy dwarfof about
forty or forty-fivewith a very large head and facea pair of
roguish grey eyesand such extremely little armsthatto enable
herself to lay a finger archly against her snub noseas she ogled
Steerforthshe was obliged to meet the finger half-wayand lay
her nose against it. Her chinwhich was what is called a double
chinwas so fat that it entirely swallowed up the strings of her
bonnetbow and all. Throat she had none; waist she had none; legs
she had noneworth mentioning; for though she was more than
full-sized down to where her waist would have beenif she had had
anyand though she terminatedas human beings generally doin a
pair of feetshe was so short that she stood at a common-sized
chair as at a tableresting a bag she carried on the seat. This
lady - dressed in an off-handeasy style; bringing her nose and
her forefinger togetherwith the difficulty I have described;
standing with her head necessarily on one sideandwith one of
her sharp eyes shut upmaking an uncommonly knowing face - after
ogling Steerforth for a few momentsbroke into a torrent of words.

'What! My flower!' she pleasantly beganshaking her large head at
him. 'You're thereare you! Ohyou naughty boyfie for shame
what do you do so far away from home? Up to mischiefI'll be
bound. Ohyou're a downy fellowSteerforthso you areand I'm
anotherain't I? Hahaha! You'd have betted a hundred pound
to fivenowthat you wouldn't have seen me herewouldn't you?
Bless youman aliveI'm everywhere. I'm here and thereand
where notlike the conjurer's half-crown in the lady's
handkercher. Talking of handkerchers - and talking of ladies what
a comfort you are to your blessed motherain't youmy dear
boyover one of my shouldersand I don't say which!'

Miss Mowcher untied her bonnetat this passage of her discourse
threw back the stringsand sat downpantingon a footstool in
front of the fire - making a kind of arbour of the dining table
which spread its mahogany shelter above her head.

'Oh my stars and what's-their-names!' she went onclapping a hand
on each of her little kneesand glancing shrewdly at me'I'm of
too full a habitthat's the factSteerforth. After a flight of
stairsit gives me as much trouble to draw every breath I wantas
if it was a bucket of water. If you saw me looking out of an upper
windowyou'd think I was a fine womanwouldn't you?'

'I should think thatwherever I saw you' replied Steerforth.

'Go alongyou dogdo!' cried the little creaturemaking a whisk
at him with the handkerchief with which she was wiping her face
'and don't be impudent! But I give you my word and honour I was at
Lady Mithers's last week - THERE'S a woman! How SHE wears! - and
Mithers himself came into the room where I was waiting for her THERE'S
a man! How HE wears! and his wig toofor he's had it
these ten years - and he went on at that rate in the complimentary
linethat I began to think I should be obliged to ring the bell.
Ha! ha! ha! He's a pleasant wretchbut he wants principle.'

'What were you doing for Lady Mithers?' asked Steerforth.

'That's tellingsmy blessed infant' she retortedtapping her
nose againscrewing up her faceand twinkling her eyes like an
imp of supernatural intelligence. 'Never YOU mind! You'd like to
know whether I stop her hair from falling offor dye itor touch
up her complexionor improve her eyebrowswouldn't you? And so


you shallmy darling - when I tell you! Do you know what my great
grandfather's name was?'

'No' said Steerforth.

'It was Walkermy sweet pet' replied Miss Mowcher'and he came
of a long line of Walkersthat I inherit all the Hookey estates
from.'

I never beheld anything approaching to Miss Mowcher's wink except
Miss Mowcher's self-possession. She had a wonderful way toowhen
listening to what was said to heror when waiting for an answer to
what she had said herselfof pausing with her head cunningly on
one sideand one eye turned up like a magpie's. Altogether I was
lost in amazementand sat staring at herquite obliviousI am
afraidof the laws of politeness.

She had by this time drawn the chair to her sideand was busily
engaged in producing from the bag (plunging in her short arm to the
shoulderat every dive) a number of small bottlesspongescombs
brushesbits of flannellittle pairs of curling-ironsand other
instrumentswhich she tumbled in a heap upon the chair. From this
employment she suddenly desistedand said to Steerforthmuch to
my confusion:

'Who's your friend?'

'Mr. Copperfield' said Steerforth; 'he wants to know you.'

'Wellthenhe shall! I thought he looked as if he did!' returned
Miss Mowcherwaddling up to mebag in handand laughing on me as
she came. 'Face like a peach!' standing on tiptoe to pinch my
cheek as I sat. 'Quite tempting! I'm very fond of peaches. Happy
to make your acquaintanceMr. CopperfieldI'm sure.'

I said that I congratulated myself on having the honour to make
hersand that the happiness was mutual.

'Ohmy goodnesshow polite we are!' exclaimed Miss Mowcher
making a preposterous attempt to cover her large face with her
morsel of a hand. 'What a world of gammon and spinnage it is
thoughain't it!'

This was addressed confidentially to both of usas the morsel of
a hand came away from the faceand buried itselfarm and allin
the bag again.

'What do you meanMiss Mowcher?' said Steerforth.

'Ha! ha! ha! What a refreshing set of humbugs we areto be sure
ain't wemy sweet child?' replied that morsel of a womanfeeling
in the bag with her head on one side and her eye in the air. 'Look
here!' taking something out. 'Scraps of the Russian Prince's
nails. Prince Alphabet turned topsy-turvyI call himfor his
name's got all the letters in ithiggledy-piggledy.'

'The Russian Prince is a client of yoursis he?' said Steerforth.

'I believe youmy pet' replied Miss Mowcher. 'I keep his nails
in order for him. Twice a week! Fingers and toes.'

'He pays wellI hope?' said Steerforth.

'Paysas he speaksmy dear child - through the nose' replied


Miss Mowcher. 'None of your close shavers the Prince ain't. You'd
say soif you saw his moustachios. Red by natureblack by art.'

'By your artof course' said Steerforth.

Miss Mowcher winked assent. 'Forced to send for me. Couldn't help
it. The climate affected his dye; it did very well in Russiabut
it was no go here. You never saw such a rusty Prince in all your
born days as he was. Like old iron!'
'Is that why you called him a humbugjust now?' inquired
Steerforth.

'Ohyou're a broth of a boyain't you?' returned Miss Mowcher
shaking her head violently. 'I saidwhat a set of humbugs we were
in generaland I showed you the scraps of the Prince's nails to
prove it. The Prince's nails do more for me in private families of
the genteel sortthan all my talents put together. I always carry
'em about. They're the best introduction. If Miss Mowcher cuts
the Prince's nailsshe must be all right. I give 'em away to the
young ladies. They put 'em in albumsI believe. Ha! ha! ha!
Upon my lifethe whole social system(as the men call it when
they make speeches in Parliament) is a system of Prince's nails!'
said this least of womentrying to fold her short armsand
nodding her large head.

Steerforth laughed heartilyand I laughed too. Miss Mowcher
continuing all the time to shake her head (which was very much on
one side)and to look into the air with one eyeand to wink with
the other.

'Wellwell!' she saidsmiting her small kneesand rising'this
is not business. ComeSteerforthlet's explore the polar
regionsand have it over.'

She then selected two or three of the little instrumentsand a
little bottleand asked (to my surprise) if the table would bear.
On Steerforth's replying in the affirmativeshe pushed a chair
against itand begging the assistance of my handmounted up
pretty nimblyto the topas if it were a stage.

'If either of you saw my ankles' she saidwhen she was safely
elevated'say soand I'll go home and destroy myself!'

'I did not' said Steerforth.

'I did not' said I.

'Well then' cried Miss Mowcher' I'll consent to live. Now
duckyduckyduckycome to Mrs. Bond and be killed.'

This was an invocation to Steerforth to place himself under her
hands; whoaccordinglysat himself downwith his back to the
tableand his laughing face towards meand submitted his head to
her inspectionevidently for no other purpose than our
entertainment. To see Miss Mowcher standing over himlooking at
his rich profusion of brown hair through a large round magnifying
glasswhich she took out of her pocketwas a most amazing
spectacle.

'You're a pretty fellow!' said Miss Mowcherafter a brief
inspection. 'You'd be as bald as a friar on the top of your head
in twelve monthsbut for me. just half a minutemy young friend
and we'll give you a polishing that shall keep your curls on for
the next ten years!'


With thisshe tilted some of the contents of the little bottle on
to one of the little bits of flannelandagain imparting some of
the virtues of that preparation to one of the little brushesbegan
rubbing and scraping away with both on the crown of Steerforth's
head in the busiest manner I ever witnessedtalking all the time.

'There's Charley Pyegravethe duke's son' she said. 'You know
Charley?' peeping round into his face.

'A little' said Steerforth.

'What a man HE is! THERE'S a whisker! As to Charley's legsif
they were only a pair (which they ain't)they'd defy competition.
Would you believe he tried to do without me - in the Life-Guards
too?'

'Mad!' said Steerforth.

'It looks like it. Howevermad or sanehe tried' returned Miss
Mowcher. 'What does he dobutlo and behold youhe goes into a
perfumer's shopand wants to buy a bottle of the Madagascar
Liquid.'

'Charley does?' said Steerforth.

'Charley does. But they haven't got any of the Madagascar Liquid.'

'What is it? Something to drink?' asked Steerforth.

'To drink?' returned Miss Mowcherstopping to slap his cheek. 'To
doctor his own moustachios withyou know. There was a woman in
the shop - elderly female - quite a Griffin - who had never even
heard of it by name. "Begging pardonsir said the Griffin to
Charley, it's not - not - not ROUGEis it?" "Rouge said
Charley to the Griffin. What the unmentionable to ears politedo
you think I want with rouge?" "No offencesir said the Griffin;
we have it asked for by so many namesI thought it might be." Now
thatmy child' continued Miss Mowcherrubbing all the time as
busily as ever'is another instance of the refreshing humbug I was
speaking of. I do something in that way myself - perhaps a good
deal - perhaps a little - sharp's the wordmy dear boy - never
mind!'

'In what way do you mean? In the rouge way?' said Steerforth.

'Put this and that togethermy tender pupil' returned the wary
Mowchertouching her nose'work it by the rule of Secrets in all
tradesand the product will give you the desired result. I say I
do a little in that way myself. One DowagerSHE calls it
lip-salve. AnotherSHE calls it gloves. AnotherSHE calls it
tucker-edging. AnotherSHE calls it a fan. I call it whatever
THEY call it. I supply it for 'embut we keep up the trick soto
one anotherand make believe with such a facethat they'd as soon
think of laying it onbefore a whole drawing-roomas before me.
And when I wait upon 'emthey'll say to me sometimes - WITH IT ON

-thickand no mistake - "How am I lookingMowcher? Am I pale?"
Ha! ha! ha! ha! Isn't THAT refreshingmy young friend!'
I never did in my days behold anything like Mowcher as she stood
upon the dining tableintensely enjoying this refreshmentrubbing
busily at Steerforth's headand winking at me over it.

'Ah!' she said. 'Such things are not much in demand hereabouts.


That sets me off again! I haven't seen a pretty woman since I've
been herejemmy.'

'No?' said Steerforth.

'Not the ghost of one' replied Miss Mowcher.

'We could show her the substance of oneI think?' said Steerforth
addressing his eyes to mine. 'EhDaisy?'

'Yesindeed' said I.

'Aha?' cried the little creatureglancing sharply at my faceand
then peeping round at Steerforth's. 'Umph?'

The first exclamation sounded like a question put to both of us
and the second like a question put to Steerforth only. She seemed
to have found no answer to eitherbut continued to rubwith her
head on one side and her eye turned upas if she were looking for
an answer in the air and were confident of its appearing presently.

'A sister of yoursMr. Copperfield?' she criedafter a pauseand
still keeping the same look-out. 'Ayeaye?'

'No' said Steerforthbefore I could reply. 'Nothing of the sort.
On the contraryMr. Copperfield used - or I am much mistaken - to
have a great admiration for her.'

'Whyhasn't he now?' returned Miss Mowcher. 'Is he fickle? Oh
for shame! Did he sip every flowerand change every houruntil
Polly his passion requited? - Is her name Polly?'

The Elfin suddenness with which she pounced upon me with this
questionand a searching lookquite disconcerted me for a moment.

'NoMiss Mowcher' I replied. 'Her name is Emily.'

'Aha?' she cried exactly as before. 'Umph? What a rattle I am!
Mr. Copperfieldain't I volatile?'

Her tone and look implied something that was not agreeable to me in
connexion with the subject. So I saidin a graver manner than any
of us had yet assumed:
'She is as virtuous as she is pretty. She is engaged to be married
to a most worthy and deserving man in her own station of life. I
esteem her for her good senseas much as I admire her for her good
looks.'

'Well said!' cried Steerforth. 'Hearhearhear! Now I'll quench
the curiosity of this little Fatimamy dear Daisyby leaving her
nothing to guess at. She is at present apprenticedMiss Mowcher
or articledor whatever it may beto Omer and Joram
HaberdashersMillinersand so forthin this town. Do you
observe? Omer and Joram. The promise of which my friend has
spokenis made and entered into with her cousin; Christian name
Ham; surnamePeggotty; occupationboat-builder; also of this
town. She lives with a relative; Christian nameunknown; surname
Peggotty; occupationseafaring; also of this town. She is the
prettiest and most engaging little fairy in the world. I admire
her - as my friend does - exceedingly. If it were not that I might
appear to disparage her Intendedwhich I know my friend would not
likeI would addthat to me she seems to be throwing herself
away; that I am sure she might do better; and that I swear she was
born to be a lady.'


Miss Mowcher listened to these wordswhich were very slowly and
distinctly spokenwith her head on one sideand her eye in the
air as if she were still looking for that answer. When he ceased
she became brisk again in an instantand rattled away with
surprising volubility.

'Oh! And that's all about itis it?' she exclaimedtrimming his
whiskers with a little restless pair of scissorsthat went
glancing round his head in all directions. 'Very well: very well!
Quite a long story. Ought to end "and they lived happy ever
afterwards"; oughtn't it? Ah! What's that game at forfeits? I
love my love with an Ebecause she's enticing; I hate her with an
Ebecause she's engaged. I took her to the sign of the exquisite
and treated her with an elopementher name's Emilyand she lives
in the east? Ha! ha! ha! Mr. Copperfieldain't I volatile?'

Merely looking at me with extravagant slynessand not waiting for
any replyshe continuedwithout drawing breath:

'There! If ever any scapegrace was trimmed and touched up to
perfectionyou areSteerforth. If I understand any noddle in the
worldI understand yours. Do you hear me when I tell you thatmy
darling? I understand yours' peeping down into his face. 'Now
you may mizzlejemmy (as we say at Court)and if Mr. Copperfield
will take the chair I'll operate on him.'

'What do you sayDaisy?' inquired Steerforthlaughingand
resigning his seat. 'Will you be improved?'

'Thank youMiss Mowchernot this evening.'

'Don't say no' returned the little womanlooking at me with the
aspect of a connoisseur; 'a little bit more eyebrow?'

'Thank you' I returned'some other time.'

'Have it carried half a quarter of an inch towards the temple'
said Miss Mowcher. 'We can do it in a fortnight.'

'NoI thank you. Not at present.'

'Go in for a tip' she urged. 'No? Let's get the scaffolding up
thenfor a pair of whiskers. Come!'

I could not help blushing as I declinedfor I felt we were on my
weak pointnow. But Miss Mowcherfinding that I was not at
present disposed for any decoration within the range of her art
and that I wasfor the time beingproof against the blandishments
of the small bottle which she held up before one eye to enforce her
persuasionssaid we would make a beginning on an early dayand
requested the aid of my hand to descend from her elevated station.
Thus assistedshe skipped down with much agilityand began to tie
her double chin into her bonnet.

'The fee' said Steerforth'is -'

'Five bob' replied Miss Mowcher'and dirt cheapmy chicken.
Ain't I volatileMr. Copperfield?'

I replied politely: 'Not at all.' But I thought she was rather so
when she tossed up his two half-crowns like a goblin piemancaught
themdropped them in her pocketand gave it a loud slap.


'That's the Till!' observed Miss Mowcherstanding at the chair
againand replacing in the bag a miscellaneous collection of
little objects she had emptied out of it. 'Have I got all my
traps? It seems so. It won't do to be like long Ned Beadwood
when they took him to church "to marry him to somebody"as he
saysand left the bride behind. Ha! ha! ha! A wicked rascal
Nedbut droll! NowI know I'm going to break your heartsbut I
am forced to leave you. You must call up all your fortitudeand
try to bear it. Good-byeMr. Copperfield! Take care of yourself
jockey of Norfolk! How I have been rattling on! It's all the
fault of you two wretches. I forgive you! "Bob swore!" - as the
Englishman said for "Good night"when he first learnt Frenchand
thought it so like English. "Bob swore my ducks!'

With the bag slung over her arm, and rattling as she waddled away,
she waddled to the door, where she stopped to inquire if she should
leave us a lock of her hair. 'Ain't I volatile?' she added, as a
commentary on this offer, and, with her finger on her nose,
departed.

Steerforth laughed to that degree, that it was impossible for me to
help laughing too; though I am not sure I should have done so, but
for this inducement. When we had had our laugh quite out, which
was after some time, he told me that Miss Mowcher had quite an
extensive connexion, and made herself useful to a variety of people
in a variety of ways. Some people trifled with her as a mere
oddity, he said; but she was as shrewdly and sharply observant as
anyone he knew, and as long-headed as she was short-armed. He told
me that what she had said of being here, and there, and everywhere,
was true enough; for she made little darts into the provinces, and
seemed to pick up customers everywhere, and to know everybody. I
asked him what her disposition was: whether it was at all
mischievous, and if her sympathies were generally on the right side
of things: but, not succeeding in attracting his attention to these
questions after two or three attempts, I forbore or forgot to
repeat them. He told me instead, with much rapidity, a good deal
about her skill, and her profits; and about her being a scientific
cupper, if I should ever have occasion for her service in that
capacity.

She was the principal theme of our conversation during the evening:
and when we parted for the night Steerforth called after me over
the banisters, 'Bob swore!' as I went downstairs.

I was surprised, when I came to Mr. Barkis's house, to find Ham
walking up and down in front of it, and still more surprised to
learn from him that little Em'ly was inside. I naturally inquired
why he was not there too, instead of pacing the streets by himself?

'Why, you see, Mas'r Davy,' he rejoined, in a hesitating manner,
'Em'ly, she's talking to some 'un in here.'

'I should have thought,' said I, smiling, 'that that was a reason
for your being in here too, Ham.'

'Well, Mas'r Davy, in a general way, so 't would be,' he returned;
'but look'ee here, Mas'r Davy,' lowering his voice, and speaking
very gravely. 'It's a young woman, sir - a young woman, that Em'ly
knowed once, and doen't ought to know no more.'

When I heard these words, a light began to fall upon the figure I
had seen following them, some hours ago.

'It's a poor wurem, Mas'r Davy,' said Ham, 'as is trod under foot


by all the town. Up street and down street. The mowld o' the
churchyard don't hold any that the folk shrink away from, more.'


'Did I see her tonight, Ham, on the sand, after we met you?'


'Keeping us in sight?' said Ham. 'It's like you did, Mas'r Davy.
Not that I know'd then, she was theer, sir, but along of her
creeping soon arterwards under Em'ly's little winder, when she see
the light come, and whispering Em'lyEm'lyfor Christ's sake
have a woman's heart towards me. I was once like you!" Those was
solemn wordsMas'r Davyfur to hear!'


'They were indeedHam. What did Em'ly do?'
'Says Em'lyMartha, is it you? Oh, Martha, can it be you?- for
they had sat at work togethermany a dayat Mr. Omer's.'


'I recollect her now!' cried Irecalling one of the two girls I
had seen when I first went there. 'I recollect her quite well!'


'Martha Endell' said Ham. 'Two or three year older than Em'ly
but was at the school with her.'


'I never heard her name' said I. 'I didn't mean to interrupt
you.'


'For the matter o' thatMas'r Davy' replied Ham'all's told
a'most in them wordsEm'ly, Em'ly, for Christ's sake, have a
woman's heart towards me. I was once like you!She wanted to
speak to Em'ly. Em'ly couldn't speak to her theerfor her loving
uncle was come homeand he wouldn't - noMas'r Davy' said Ham
with great earnestness'he couldn'tkind-natur'dtender-hearted
as he issee them two togetherside by sidefor all the
treasures that's wrecked in the sea.'


I felt how true this was. I knew iton the instantquite as well
as Ham.


'So Em'ly writes in pencil on a bit of paper' he pursued'and
gives it to her out o' winder to bring here. "Show that she
says, to my auntMrs. Barkisand she'll set you down by her
firefor the love of metill uncle is gone outand I can come."
By and by she tells me what I tell youMas'r Davyand asks me to
bring her. What can I do? She doen't ought to know any suchbut
I can't deny herwhen the tears is on her face.'


He put his hand into the breast of his shaggy jacketand took out
with great care a pretty little purse.


'And if I could deny her when the tears was on her faceMas'r
Davy' said Hamtenderly adjusting it on the rough palm of his
hand'how could I deny her when she give me this to carry for her


-knowing what she brought it for? Such a toy as it is!' said Ham
thoughtfully looking on it. 'With such a little money in itEm'ly
my dear.'
I shook him warmly by the hand when he had put it away again - for
that was more satisfactory to me than saying anything - and we
walked up and downfor a minute or twoin silence. The door
opened thenand Peggotty appearedbeckoning to Ham to come in.
I would have kept awaybut she came after meentreating me to
come in too. Even thenI would have avoided the room where they
all werebut for its being the neat-tiled kitchen I have mentioned
more than once. The door opening immediately into itI found
myself among them before I considered whither I was going.


The girl - the same I had seen upon the sands - was near the fire.
She was sitting on the groundwith her head and one arm lying on
a chair. I fanciedfrom the disposition of her figurethat Em'ly
had but newly risen from the chairand that the forlorn head might
perhaps have been lying on her lap. I saw but little of the girl's
faceover which her hair fell loose and scatteredas if she had
been disordering it with her own hands; but I saw that she was
youngand of a fair complexion. Peggotty had been crying. So had
little Em'ly. Not a word was spoken when we first went in; and the
Dutch clock by the dresser seemedin the silenceto tick twice as
loud as usual. Em'ly spoke first.

'Martha wants' she said to Ham'to go to London.'

'Why to London?' returned Ham.

He stood between themlooking on the prostrate girl with a mixture
of compassion for herand of jealousy of her holding any
companionship with her whom he loved so wellwhich I have always
remembered distinctly. They both spoke as if she were ill; in a
softsuppressed tone that was plainly heardalthough it hardly
rose above a whisper.

'Better there than here' said a third voice aloud - Martha's
though she did not move. 'No one knows me there. Everybody knows
me here.'

'What will she do there?' inquired Ham.

She lifted up her headand looked darkly round at him for a
moment; then laid it down againand curved her right arm about her
neckas a woman in a feveror in an agony of pain from a shot
might twist herself.

'She will try to do well' said little Em'ly. 'You don't know what
she has said to us. Does he - do they - aunt?'

Peggotty shook her head compassionately.

'I'll try' said Martha'if you'll help me away. I never can do
worse than I have done here. I may do better. Oh!' with a
dreadful shiver'take me out of these streetswhere the whole
town knows me from a child!'

As Em'ly held out her hand to HamI saw him put in it a little
canvas bag. She took itas if she thought it were her purseand
made a step or two forward; but finding her mistakecame back to
where he had retired near meand showed it to him.

'It's all yournEm'ly' I could hear him say. 'I haven't nowt in
all the wureld that ain't yournmy dear. It ain't of no delight
to meexcept for you!'

The tears rose freshly in her eyesbut she turned away and went to
Martha. What she gave herI don't know. I saw her stooping over
herand putting money in her bosom. She whispered somethingas
she asked was that enough? 'More than enough' the other saidand
took her hand and kissed it.

Then Martha aroseand gathering her shawl about hercovering her
face with itand weeping aloudwent slowly to the door. She
stopped a moment before going outas if she would have uttered
something or turned back; but no word passed her lips. Making the


same lowdrearywretched moaning in her shawlshe went away.

As the door closedlittle Em'ly looked at us three in a hurried
manner and then hid her face in her handsand fell to sobbing.

'Doen'tEm'ly!' said Hamtapping her gently on the shoulder.
'Doen'tmy dear! You doen't ought to cry sopretty!'

'OhHam!' she exclaimedstill weeping pitifully'I am not so
good a girl as I ought to be! I know I have not the thankful
heartsometimesI ought to have!'

'Yesyesyou haveI'm sure' said Ham.

'No! no! no!' cried little Em'lysobbingand shaking her head.
'I am not as good a girl as I ought to be. Not near! not near!'
And still she criedas if her heart would break.

'I try your love too much. I know I do!' she sobbed. 'I'm often
cross to youand changeable with youwhen I ought to be far
different. You are never so to me. Why am I ever so to youwhen
I should think of nothing but how to be gratefuland to make you
happy!'

'You always make me so' said Ham'my dear! I am happy in the
sight of you. I am happyall day longin the thoughts of you.'

'Ah! that's not enough!' she cried. 'That is because you are good;
not because I am! Ohmy dearit might have been a better fortune
for youif you had been fond of someone else - of someone steadier
and much worthier than mewho was all bound up in youand never
vain and changeable like me!'

'Poor little tender-heart' said Hamin a low voice. 'Martha has
overset heraltogether.'

'Pleaseaunt' sobbed Em'ly'come hereand let me lay my head
upon you. OhI am very miserable tonightaunt! OhI am not as
good a girl as I ought to be. I am notI know!'

Peggotty had hastened to the chair before the fire. Em'lywith
her arms around her neckkneeled by herlooking up most earnestly
into her face.

'Ohprayaunttry to help me! Hamdeartry to help me! Mr.
Davidfor the sake of old timesdopleasetry to help me! I
want to be a better girl than I am. I want to feel a hundred times
more thankful than I do. I want to feel morewhat a blessed thing
it is to be the wife of a good manand to lead a peaceful life.
Oh meoh me! Oh my heartmy heart!'

She dropped her face on my old nurse's breastandceasing this
supplicationwhich in its agony and grief was half a woman'shalf
a child'sas all her manner was (beingin thatmore naturaland
better suited to her beautyas I thoughtthan any other manner
could have been)wept silentlywhile my old nurse hushed her like
an infant.

She got calmer by degreesand then we soothed her; now talking
encouraginglyand now jesting a little with heruntil she began
to raise her head and speak to us. So we got onuntil she was
able to smileand then to laughand then to sit uphalf ashamed;
while Peggotty recalled her stray ringletsdried her eyesand
made her neat againlest her uncle should wonderwhen she got


homewhy his darling had been crying.

I saw her dothat nightwhat I had never seen her do before. I
saw her innocently kiss her chosen husband on the cheekand creep
close to his bluff form as if it were her best support. When they
went away togetherin the waning moonlightand I looked after
themcomparing their departure in my mind with Martha'sI saw
that she held his arm with both her handsand still kept close to
him.

CHAPTER 23
I CORROBORATE Mr. DICKAND CHOOSE A PROFESSION

When I awoke in the morning I thought very much of little Em'ly
and her emotion last nightafter Martha had left. I felt as if I
had come into the knowledge of those domestic weaknesses and
tendernesses in a sacred confidenceand that to disclose them
even to Steerforthwould be wrong. I had no gentler feeling
towards anyone than towards the pretty creature who had been my
playmateand whom I have always been persuadedand shall always
be persuadedto my dying dayI then devotedly loved. The
repetition to any ears - even to Steerforth's - of what she had
been unable to repress when her heart lay open to me by an
accidentI felt would be a rough deedunworthy of myself
unworthy of the light of our pure childhoodwhich I always saw
encircling her head. I made a resolutionthereforeto keep it in
my own breast; and there it gave her image a new grace.

While we were at breakfasta letter was delivered to me from my
aunt. As it contained matter on which I thought Steerforth could
advise me as well as anyoneand on which I knew I should be
delighted to consult himI resolved to make it a subject of
discussion on our journey home. For the present we had enough to
doin taking leave of all our friends. Mr. Barkis was far from
being the last among themin his regret at our departure; and I
believe would even have opened the box againand sacrificed
another guineaif it would have kept us eight-and-forty hours in
Yarmouth. Peggotty and all her family were full of grief at our
going. The whole house of Omer and Joram turned out to bid us
good-bye; and there were so many seafaring volunteers in attendance
on Steerforthwhen our portmanteaux went to the coachthat if we
had had the baggage of a regiment with uswe should hardly have
wanted porters to carry it. In a wordwe departed to the regret
and admiration of all concernedand left a great many people very
sorry behind US.

Do you stay long hereLittimer?' said Ias he stood waiting to
see the coach start.

'Nosir' he replied; 'probably not very longsir.'

'He can hardly sayjust now' observed Steerforthcarelessly.
'He knows what he has to doand he'll do it.'

'That I am sure he will' said I.

Littimer touched his hat in acknowledgement of my good opinionand
I felt about eight years old. He touched it once morewishing us
a good journey; and we left him standing on the pavementas
respectable a mystery as any pyramid in Egypt.


For some little time we held no conversationSteerforth being
unusually silentand I being sufficiently engaged in wondering
within myselfwhen I should see the old places againand what new
changes might happen to me or them in the meanwhile. At length
Steerforthbecoming gay and talkative in a momentas he could
become anything he liked at any momentpulled me by the arm:

'Find a voiceDavid. What about that letter you were speaking of
at breakfast?'

'Oh!' said Itaking it out of my pocket. 'It's from my aunt.'

'And what does she sayrequiring consideration?'

'Whyshe reminds meSteerforth' said I'that I came out on
this expedition to look about meand to think a little.'

'Whichof courseyou have done?'

'Indeed I can't say I haveparticularly. To tell you the truth
I am afraid I have forgotten it.'

'Well! look about you nowand make up for your negligence' said
Steerforth. 'Look to the rightand you'll see a flat country
with a good deal of marsh in it; look to the leftand you'll see
the same. Look to the frontand you'll find no difference; look
to the rearand there it is still.'
I laughedand replied that I saw no suitable profession in the
whole prospect; which was perhaps to be attributed to its flatness.

'What says our aunt on the subject?' inquired Steerforthglancing
at the letter in my hand. 'Does she suggest anything?'

'Whyyes' said I. 'She asks mehereif I think I should like
to be a proctor? What do you think of it?'

'WellI don't know' replied Steerforthcoolly. 'You may as well
do that as anything elseI suppose?'

I could not help laughing againat his balancing all callings and
professions so equally; and I told him so.

'What is a proctorSteerforth?' said I.

'Whyhe is a sort of monkish attorney' replied Steerforth. 'He
isto some faded courts held in Doctors' Commons- a lazy old
nook near St. Paul's Churchyard - what solicitors are to the courts
of law and equity. He is a functionary whose existencein the
natural course of thingswould have terminated about two hundred
years ago. I can tell you best what he isby telling you what
Doctors' Commons is. It's a little out-of-the-way placewhere
they administer what is called ecclesiastical lawand play all
kinds of tricks with obsolete old monsters of acts of Parliament
which three-fourths of the world know nothing aboutand the other
fourth supposes to have been dug upin a fossil statein the days
of the Edwards. It's a place that has an ancient monopoly in suits
about people's wills and people's marriagesand disputes among
ships and boats.'

'NonsenseSteerforth!' I exclaimed. 'You don't mean to say that
there is any affinity between nautical matters and ecclesiastical
matters?'

'I don'tindeedmy dear boy' he returned; 'but I mean to say


that they are managed and decided by the same set of peopledown
in that same Doctors' Commons. You shall go there one dayand
find them blundering through half the nautical terms in Young's
Dictionaryapropos of the "Nancy" having run down the "Sarah
Jane"or Mr. Peggotty and the Yarmouth boatmen having put off in
a gale of wind with an anchor and cable to the "Nelson" Indiaman in
distress; and you shall go there another dayand find them deep in
the evidencepro and conrespecting a clergyman who has
misbehaved himself; and you shall find the judge in the nautical
casethe advocate in the clergyman's caseor contrariwise. They
are like actors: now a man's a judgeand now he is not a judge;
now he's one thingnow he's another; now he's something else
change and change about; but it's always a very pleasant
profitable little affair of private theatricalspresented to an
uncommonly select audience.'

'But advocates and proctors are not one and the same?' said Ia
little puzzled. 'Are they?'

'No' returned Steerforth'the advocates are civilians - men who
have taken a doctor's degree at college - which is the first reason
of my knowing anything about it. The proctors employ the
advocates. Both get very comfortable feesand altogether they
make a mighty snug little party. On the wholeI would recommend
you to take to Doctors' Commons kindlyDavid. They plume themselves
on their gentility thereI can tell youif that's any
satisfaction.'

I made allowance for Steerforth's light way of treating the
subjectandconsidering it with reference to the staid air of
gravity and antiquity which I associated with that 'lazy old nook
near St. Paul's Churchyard'did not feel indisposed towards my
aunt's suggestion; which she left to my free decisionmaking no
scruple of telling me that it had occurred to heron her lately
visiting her own proctor in Doctors' Commons for the purpose of
settling her will in my favour.

'That's a laudable proceeding on the part of our auntat all
events' said Steerforthwhen I mentioned it; 'and one deserving
of all encouragement. Daisymy advice is that you take kindly to
Doctors' Commons.'

I quite made up my mind to do so. I then told Steerforth that my
aunt was in town awaiting me (as I found from her letter)and that
she had taken lodgings for a week at a kind of private hotel at
Lincoln's Inn Fieldswhere there was a stone staircaseand a
convenient door in the roof; my aunt being firmly persuaded that
every house in London was going to be burnt down every night.

We achieved the rest of our journey pleasantlysometimes recurring
to Doctors' Commonsand anticipating the distant days when I
should be a proctor therewhich Steerforth pictured in a variety
of humorous and whimsical lightsthat made us both merry. When we
came to our journey's endhe went homeengaging to call upon me
next day but one; and I drove to Lincoln's Inn Fieldswhere I
found my aunt upand waiting supper.

If I had been round the world since we partedwe could hardly have
been better pleased to meet again. My aunt cried outright as she
embraced me; and saidpretending to laughthat if my poor mother
had been alivethat silly little creature would have shed tears
she had no doubt.

'So you have left Mr. Dick behindaunt?' said I. 'I am sorry for


that. AhJanethow do you do?'


As Janet curtsiedhoping I was wellI observed my aunt's visage
lengthen very much.


'I am sorry for ittoo' said my auntrubbing her nose. 'I have
had no peace of mindTrotsince I have been here.'
Before I could ask whyshe told me.


'I am convinced' said my auntlaying her hand with melancholy
firmness on the table'that Dick's character is not a character to
keep the donkeys off. I am confident he wants strength of purpose.
I ought to have left Janet at homeinsteadand then my mind might
perhaps have been at ease. If ever there was a donkey trespassing
on my green' said my auntwith emphasis'there was one this
afternoon at four o'clock. A cold feeling came over me from head
to footand I know it was a donkey!'


I tried to comfort her on this pointbut she rejected consolation.


'It was a donkey' said my aunt; 'and it was the one with the
stumpy tail which that Murdering sister of a woman rodewhen she
came to my house.' This had beenever sincethe only name my
aunt knew for Miss Murdstone. 'If there is any Donkey in Dover
whose audacity it is harder to me to bear than another'sthat'
said my auntstriking the table'is the animal!'


Janet ventured to suggest that my aunt might be disturbing herself
unnecessarilyand that she believed the donkey in question was
then engaged in the sand-and-gravel line of businessand was not
available for purposes of trespass. But my aunt wouldn't hear of
it.


Supper was comfortably served and hotthough my aunt's rooms were
very high up - whether that she might have more stone stairs for
her moneyor might be nearer to the door in the roofI don't know


-and consisted of a roast fowla steakand some vegetablesto
all of which I did ample justiceand which were all excellent.
But my aunt had her own ideas concerning London provisionand ate
but little.
'I suppose this unfortunate fowl was born and brought up in a
cellar' said my aunt'and never took the air except on a hackney
coach-stand. I hope the steak may be beefbut I don't believe it.
Nothing's genuine in the placein my opinionbut the dirt.'

'Don't you think the fowl may have come out of the countryaunt?'
I hinted.

'Certainly not' returned my aunt. 'It would be no pleasure to a
London tradesman to sell anything which was what he pretended it
was.'

I did not venture to controvert this opinionbut I made a good
supperwhich it greatly satisfied her to see me do. When the
table was clearedJanet assisted her to arrange her hairto put
on her nightcapwhich was of a smarter construction than usual
('in case of fire'my aunt said)and to fold her gown back over
her kneesthese being her usual preparations for warming herself
before going to bed. I then made heraccording to certain
established regulations from which no deviationhowever slight
could ever be permitteda glass of hot wine and waterand a slice
of toast cut into long thin strips. With these accompaniments we
were left alone to finish the eveningmy aunt sitting opposite to


me drinking her wine and water; soaking her strips of toast in it
one by onebefore eating them; and looking benignantly on mefrom
among the borders of her nightcap.

'WellTrot' she began'what do you think of the proctor plan?
Or have you not begun to think about it yet?'

'I have thought a good deal about itmy dear auntand I have
talked a good deal about it with Steerforth. I like it very much
indeed. I like it exceedingly.'

'Come!' said my aunt. 'That's cheering!'

'I have only one difficultyaunt.'

'Say what it isTrot' she returned.

'WhyI want to askauntas this seemsfrom what I understand
to be a limited professionwhether my entrance into it would not
be very expensive?'

'It will cost' returned my aunt'to article youjust a thousand
pounds.'

'Nowmy dear aunt' said Idrawing my chair nearer'I am uneasy
in my mind about that. It's a large sum of money. You have
expended a great deal on my educationand have always been as
liberal to me in all things as it was possible to be. You have
been the soul of generosity. Surely there are some ways in which
I might begin life with hardly any outlayand yet begin with a
good hope of getting on by resolution and exertion. Are you sure
that it would not be better to try that course? Are you certain
that you can afford to part with so much moneyand that it is
right that it should be so expended? I only ask youmy second
motherto consider. Are you certain?'

My aunt finished eating the piece of toast on which she was then
engagedlooking me full in the face all the while; and then
setting her glass on the chimney-pieceand folding her hands upon
her folded skirtsreplied as follows:

'Trotmy childif I have any object in lifeit is to provide for
your being a gooda sensibleand a happy man. I am bent upon it

-so is Dick. I should like some people that I know to hear Dick's
conversation on the subject. Its sagacity is wonderful. But no
one knows the resources of that man's intellectexcept myself!'
She stopped for a moment to take my hand between hersand went on:

'It's in vainTrotto recall the pastunless it works some
influence upon the present. Perhaps I might have been better
friends with your poor father. Perhaps I might have been better
friends with that poor child your mothereven after your sister
Betsey Trotwood disappointed me. When you came to mea little
runaway boyall dusty and way-wornperhaps I thought so. From
that time until nowTrotyou have ever been a credit to me and a
pride and a pleasure. I have no other claim upon my means; at
least' - here to my surprise she hesitatedand was confused - 'no
I have no other claim upon my means - and you are my adopted child.
Only be a loving child to me in my ageand bear with my whims and
fancies; and you will do more for an old woman whose prime of life
was not so happy or conciliating as it might have beenthan ever
that old woman did for you.'


It was the first time I had heard my aunt refer to her past
history. There was a magnanimity in her quiet way of doing soand
of dismissing itwhich would have exalted her in my respect and
affectionif anything could.

'All is agreed and understood between usnowTrot' said my aunt
'and we need talk of this no more. Give me a kissand we'll go to
the Commons after breakfast tomorrow.'

We had a long chat by the fire before we went to bed. I slept in
a room on the same floor with my aunt'sand was a little disturbed
in the course of the night by her knocking at my door as often as
she was agitated by a distant sound of hackney-coaches or
market-cartsand inquiring'if I heard the engines?' But towards
morning she slept betterand suffered me to do so too.

At about mid-daywe set out for the office of Messrs Spenlow and
Jorkinsin Doctors' Commons. My auntwho had this other general
opinion in reference to Londonthat every man she saw was a
pickpocketgave me her purse to carry for herwhich had ten
guineas in it and some silver.

We made a pause at the toy shop in Fleet Streetto see the giants
of Saint Dunstan's strike upon the bells - we had timed our going
so as to catch them at itat twelve o'clock - and then went on
towards Ludgate Hilland St. Paul's Churchyard. We were crossing
to the former placewhen I found that my aunt greatly accelerated
her speedand looked frightened. I observedat the same time
that a lowering ill-dressed man who had stopped and stared at us in
passinga little beforewas coming so close after us as to brush
against her.

'Trot! My dear Trot!' cried my auntin a terrified whisperand
pressing my arm. 'I don't know what I am to do.'

'Don't be alarmed' said I. 'There's nothing to be afraid of.
Step into a shopand I'll soon get rid of this fellow.'

'Nonochild!' she returned. 'Don't speak to him for the world.
I entreatI order you!'

'Good Heavenaunt!' said I. 'He is nothing but a sturdy
beggar.'

'You don't know what he is!' replied my aunt. 'You don't know who
he is! You don't know what you say!'

We had stopped in an empty door-waywhile this was passingand he
had stopped too.

'Don't look at him!' said my auntas I turned my head indignantly
'but get me a coachmy dearand wait for me in St. Paul's
Churchyard.'

'Wait for you?' I replied.

'Yes' rejoined my aunt. 'I must go alone. I must go with him.'

'With himaunt? This man?'

'I am in my senses' she replied'and I tell you I must. Get mea
coach!'

However much astonished I might beI was sensible that I had no


right to refuse compliance with such a peremptory command. I
hurried away a few pacesand called a hackney-chariot which was
passing empty. Almost before I could let down the stepsmy aunt
sprang inI don't know howand the man followed. She waved her
hand to me to go awayso earnestlythatall confounded as I was
I turned from them at once. In doing soI heard her say to the
coachman'Drive anywhere! Drive straight on!' and presently the
chariot passed megoing up the hill.

What Mr. Dick had told meand what I had supposed to be a delusion
of hisnow came into my mind. I could not doubt that this person
was the person of whom he had made such mysterious mentionthough
what the nature of his hold upon my aunt could possibly beI was
quite unable to imagine. After half an hour's cooling in the
churchyardI saw the chariot coming back. The driver stopped
beside meand my aunt was sitting in it alone.

She had not yet sufficiently recovered from her agitation to be
quite prepared for the visit we had to make. She desired me to get
into the chariotand to tell the coachman to drive slowly up and
down a little while. She said no moreexcept'My dear child
never ask me what it wasand don't refer to it' until she had
perfectly regained her composurewhen she told me she was quite
herself nowand we might get out. On her giving me her purse to
pay the driverI found that all the guineas were goneand only
the loose silver remained.

Doctors' Commons was approached by a little low archway. Before we
had taken many paces down the street beyond itthe noise of the
city seemed to meltas if by magicinto a softened distance. A
few dull courts and narrow ways brought us to the sky-lighted
offices of Spenlow and Jorkins; in the vestibule of which temple
accessible to pilgrims without the ceremony of knockingthree or
four clerks were at work as copyists. One of thesea little dry
mansitting by himselfwho wore a stiff brown wig that looked as
if it were made of gingerbreadrose to receive my auntand show
us into Mr. Spenlow's room.

'Mr. Spenlow's in Courtma'am' said the dry man; 'it's an Arches
day; but it's close byand I'll send for him directly.'

As we were left to look about us while Mr. Spenlow was fetchedI
availed myself of the opportunity. The furniture of the room was
old-fashioned and dusty; and the green baize on the top of the
writing-table had lost all its colourand was as withered and pale
as an old pauper. There were a great many bundles of papers on it
some endorsed as Allegationsand some (to my surprise) as Libels
and some as being in the Consistory Courtand some in the Arches
Courtand some in the Prerogative Courtand some in the Admiralty
Courtand some in the Delegates' Court; giving me occasion to
wonder muchhow many Courts there might be in the grossand how
long it would take to understand them all. Besides thesethere
were sundry immense manuscript Books of Evidence taken on
affidavitstrongly boundand tied together in massive setsa set
to each causeas if every cause were a history in ten or twenty
volumes. All this looked tolerably expensiveI thoughtand gave
me an agreeable notion of a proctor's business. I was casting my
eyes with increasing complacency over these and many similar
objectswhen hasty footsteps were heard in the room outsideand
Mr. Spenlowin a black gown trimmed with white furcame hurrying
intaking off his hat as he came.

He was a little light-haired gentlemanwith undeniable bootsand
the stiffest of white cravats and shirt-collars. He was buttoned


upmighty trim and tightand must have taken a great deal of
pains with his whiskerswhich were accurately curled. His gold
watch-chain was so massivethat a fancy came across methat he
ought to have a sinewy golden armto draw it out withlike those
which are put up over the goldbeaters' shops. He was got up with
such careand was so stiffthat he could hardly bend himself;
being obligedwhen he glanced at some papers on his deskafter
sitting down in his chairto move his whole bodyfrom the bottom
of his spinelike Punch.

I had previously been presented by my auntand had been
courteously received. He now said:

'And soMr. Copperfieldyou think of entering into our
profession? I casually mentioned to Miss Trotwoodwhen I had the
pleasure of an interview with her the other day' - with another
inclination of his body - Punch again - 'that there was a vacancy
here. Miss Trotwood was good enough to mention that she had a
nephew who was her peculiar careand for whom she was seeking to
provide genteelly in life. That nephewI believeI have now the
pleasure of' - Punch again.
I bowed my acknowledgementsand saidmy aunt had mentioned to me
that there was that openingand that I believed I should like it
very much. That I was strongly inclined to like itand had taken
immediately to the proposal. That I could not absolutely pledge
myself to like ituntil I knew something more about it. That
although it was little else than a matter of formI presumed I
should have an opportunity of trying how I liked itbefore I bound
myself to it irrevocably.

'Oh surely! surely!' said Mr. Spenlow. 'We alwaysin this house
propose a month - an initiatory month. I should be happymyself
to propose two months - three - an indefinite periodin fact - but
I have a partner. Mr. Jorkins.'

'And the premiumsir' I returned'is a thousand pounds?'

'And the premiumStamp includedis a thousand pounds' said Mr.
Spenlow. 'As I have mentioned to Miss TrotwoodI am actuated by
no mercenary considerations; few men are less soI believe; but
Mr. Jorkins has his opinions on these subjectsand I am bound to
respect Mr. Jorkins's opinions. Mr. Jorkins thinks a thousand
pounds too littlein short.'

'I supposesir' said Istill desiring to spare my aunt'that it
is not the custom hereif an articled clerk were particularly
usefuland made himself a perfect master of his profession' - I
could not help blushingthis looked so like praising myself - 'I
suppose it is not the customin the later years of his timeto
allow him any -'

Mr. Spenlowby a great effortjust lifted his head far enough out
of his cravat to shake itand answeredanticipating the word
'salary':

'No. I will not say what consideration I might give to that point
myselfMr. Copperfieldif I were unfettered. Mr. Jorkins is
immovable.'

I was quite dismayed by the idea of this terrible Jorkins. But I
found out afterwards that he was a mild man of a heavy temperament
whose place in the business was to keep himself in the background
and be constantly exhibited by name as the most obdurate and
ruthless of men. If a clerk wanted his salary raisedMr. Jorkins


wouldn't listen to such a proposition. If a client were slow to
settle his bill of costsMr. Jorkins was resolved to have it paid;
and however painful these things might be (and always were) to the
feelings of Mr. SpenlowMr. Jorkins would have his bond. The
heart and hand of the good angel Spenlow would have been always
openbut for the restraining demon Jorkins. As I have grown
olderI think I have had experience of some other houses doing
business on the principle of Spenlow and Jorkins!

It was settled that I should begin my month's probation as soon as
I pleasedand that my aunt need neither remain in town nor return
at its expirationas the articles of agreementof which I was to
be the subjectcould easily be sent to her at home for her
signature. When we had got so farMr. Spenlow offered to take me
into Court then and thereand show me what sort of place it was.
As I was willing enough to knowwe went out with this object
leaving my aunt behind; who would trust herselfshe saidin no
such placeand whoI thinkregarded all Courts of Law as a sort
of powder-mills that might blow up at any time.

Mr. Spenlow conducted me through a paved courtyard formed of grave
brick houseswhich I inferredfrom the Doctors' names upon the
doorsto be the official abiding-places of the learned advocates
of whom Steerforth had told me; and into a large dull roomnot
unlike a chapel to my thinkingon the left hand. The upper part
of this room was fenced off from the rest; and thereon the two
sides of a raised platform of the horse-shoe formsitting on easy
old-fashioned dining-room chairswere sundry gentlemen in red
gowns and grey wigswhom I found to be the Doctors aforesaid.
Blinking over a little desk like a pulpit-deskin the curve of the
horse-shoewas an old gentlemanwhomif I had seen him in an
aviaryI should certainly have taken for an owlbut whoI
learnedwas the presiding judge. In the space within the
horse-shoelower than thesethat is to sayon about the level of
the floorwere sundry other gentlemenof Mr. Spenlow's rankand
dressed like him in black gowns with white fur upon themsitting
at a long green table. Their cravats were in general stiffI
thoughtand their looks haughty; but in this last respect I
presently conceived I had done them an injusticefor when two or
three of them had to rise and answer a question of the presiding
dignitaryI never saw anything more sheepish. The public
represented by a boy with a comforterand a shabby-genteel man
secretly eating crumbs out of his coat pocketswas warming itself
at a stove in the centre of the Court. The languid stillness of
the place was only broken by the chirping of this fire and by the
voice of one of the Doctorswho was wandering slowly through a
perfect library of evidenceand stopping to put upfrom time to
timeat little roadside inns of argument on the journey.
AltogetherI have neveron any occasionmade one at such a
coseydoseyold-fashionedtime-forgottensleepy-headed little
family-party in all my life; and I felt it would be quite a
soothing opiate to belong to it in any character - except perhaps
as a suitor.

Very well satisfied with the dreamy nature of this retreatI
informed Mr. Spenlow that I had seen enough for that timeand we
rejoined my aunt; in company with whom I presently departed from
the Commonsfeeling very young when I went out of Spenlow and
Jorkins'son account of the clerks poking one another with their
pens to point me out.

We arrived at Lincoln's Inn Fields without any new adventures
except encountering an unlucky donkey in a costermonger's cartwho
suggested painful associations to my aunt. We had another long


talk about my planswhen we were safely housed; and as I knew she
was anxious to get homeandbetween firefoodand pickpockets
could never be considered at her ease for half-an-hour in London
I urged her not to be uncomfortable on my accountbut to leave me
to take care of myself.

'I have not been here a week tomorrowwithout considering that
toomy dear' she returned. 'There is a furnished little set of
chambers to be let in the AdelphiTrotwhich ought to suit you to
a marvel.'

With this brief introductionshe produced from her pocket an
advertisementcarefully cut out of a newspapersetting forth that
in Buckingham Street in the Adelphi there was to be let furnished
with a view of the rivera singularly desirableand compact set
of chambersforming a genteel residence for a young gentlemana
member of one of the Inns of Courtor otherwisewith immediate
possession. Terms moderateand could be taken for a month only
if required.

'Whythis is the very thingaunt!' said Iflushed with the
possible dignity of living in chambers.

'Then come' replied my auntimmediately resuming the bonnet she
had a minute before laid aside. 'We'll go and look at 'em.'

Away we went. The advertisement directed us to apply to Mrs. Crupp
on the premisesand we rung the area bellwhich we supposed to
communicate with Mrs. Crupp. It was not until we had rung three or
four times that we could prevail on Mrs. Crupp to communicate with
usbut at last she appearedbeing a stout lady with a flounce of
flannel petticoat below a nankeen gown.

'Let us see these chambers of yoursif you pleasema'am' said my
aunt.

'For this gentleman?' said Mrs. Cruppfeeling in her pocket for
her keys.

'Yesfor my nephew' said my aunt.

'And a sweet set they is for sich!' said Mrs. Crupp.

So we went upstairs.

They were on the top of the house - a great point with my aunt
being near the fire-escape - and consisted of a little half-blind
entry where you could see hardly anythinga little stone-blind
pantry where you could see nothing at alla sitting-roomand a
bedroom. The furniture was rather fadedbut quite good enough for
me; andsure enoughthe river was outside the windows.

As I was delighted with the placemy aunt and Mrs. Crupp withdrew
into the pantry to discuss the termswhile I remained on the
sitting-room sofahardly daring to think it possible that I could
be destined to live in such a noble residence. After a single
combat of some duration they returnedand I sawto my joyboth
in Mrs. Crupp's countenance and in my aunt'sthat the deed was
done.

'Is it the last occupant's furniture?' inquired my aunt.

'Yesit isma'am' said Mrs. Crupp.


'What's become of him?' asked my aunt.

Mrs. Crupp was taken with a troublesome coughin the midst of
which she articulated with much difficulty. 'He was took ill here
ma'amand - ugh! ugh! ugh! dear me! - and he died!'

'Hey! What did he die of?' asked my aunt.

'Wellma'amhe died of drink' said Mrs. Cruppin confidence.
'And smoke.'

'Smoke? You don't mean chimneys?' said my aunt.

'Noma'am' returned Mrs. Crupp. 'Cigars and pipes.'

'That's not catchingTrotat any rate' remarked my auntturning
to me.

'Noindeed' said I.

In shortmy auntseeing how enraptured I was with the premises
took them for a monthwith leave to remain for twelve months when
that time was out. Mrs. Crupp was to find linenand to cook;
every other necessary was already provided; and Mrs. Crupp
expressly intimated that she should always yearn towards me as a
son. I was to take possession the day after tomorrowand Mrs.
Crupp saidthank Heaven she had now found summun she could care
for!

On our way backmy aunt informed me how she confidently trusted
that the life I was now to lead would make me firm and
self-reliantwhich was all I wanted. She repeated this several
times next dayin the intervals of our arranging for the
transmission of my clothes and books from Mr. Wickfield's; relative
to whichand to all my late holidayI wrote a long letter to
Agnesof which my aunt took chargeas she was to leave on the
succeeding day. Not to lengthen these particularsI need only
addthat she made a handsome provision for all my possible wants
during my month of trial; that Steerforthto my great
disappointment and hers toodid not make his appearance before she
went away; that I saw her safely seated in the Dover coach
exulting in the coming discomfiture of the vagrant donkeyswith
Janet at her side; and that when the coach was goneI turned my
face to the Adelphipondering on the old days when I used to roam
about its subterranean archesand on the happy changes which had
brought me to the surface.

CHAPTER 24
MY FIRST DISSIPATION

It was a wonderfully fine thing to have that lofty castle to
myselfand to feelwhen I shut my outer doorlike Robinson
Crusoewhen he had got into his fortificationand pulled his
ladder up after him. It was a wonderfully fine thing to walk about
town with the key of my house in my pocketand to know that I
could ask any fellow to come homeand make quite sure of its being
inconvenient to nobodyif it were not so to me. It was a
wonderfully fine thing to let myself in and outand to come and go
without a word to anyoneand to ring Mrs. Crupp upgaspingfrom
the depths of the earthwhen I wanted her - and when she was
disposed to come. All thisI saywas wonderfully fine; but I


must saytoothat there were times when it was very dreary.

It was fine in the morningparticularly in the fine mornings. It
looked a very freshfree lifeby daylight: still fresherand
more freeby sunlight. But as the day declinedthe life seemed
to go down too. I don't know how it was; it seldom looked well by
candle-light. I wanted somebody to talk tothen. I missed Agnes.
I found a tremendous blankin the place of that smiling repository
of my confidence. Mrs. Crupp appeared to be a long way off. I
thought about my predecessorwho had died of drink and smoke; and
I could have wished he had been so good as to liveand not bother
me with his decease.

After two days and nightsI felt as if I had lived there for a
yearand yet I was not an hour olderbut was quite as much
tormented by my own youthfulness as ever.

Steerforth not yet appearingwhich induced me to apprehend that he
must be illI left the Commons early on the third dayand walked
out to Highgate. Mrs. Steerforth was very glad to see meand said
that he had gone away with one of his Oxford friends to see another
who lived near St. Albansbut that she expected him to return
tomorrow. I was so fond of himthat I felt quite jealous of his
Oxford friends.

As she pressed me to stay to dinnerI remainedand I believe we
talked about nothing but him all day. I told her how much the
people liked him at Yarmouthand what a delightful companion he
had been. Miss Dartle was full of hints and mysterious questions
but took a great interest in all our proceedings thereand said
'Was it really though?' and so forthso oftenthat she got
everything out of me she wanted to know. Her appearance was
exactly what I have described itwhen I first saw her; but the
society of the two ladies was so agreeableand came so natural to
methat I felt myself falling a little in love with her. I could
not help thinkingseveral times in the course of the eveningand
particularly when I walked home at nightwhat delightful company
she would be in Buckingham Street.

I was taking my coffee and roll in the morningbefore going to the
Commons - and I may observe in this place that it is surprising how
much coffee Mrs. Crupp usedand how weak it wasconsidering when
Steerforth himself walked into my unbounded joy.

'My dear Steerforth' cried I'I began to think I should never see
you again!'

'I was carried offby force of arms' said Steerforth'the very
next morning after I got home. WhyDaisywhat a rare old
bachelor you are here!'

I showed him over the establishmentnot omitting the pantrywith
no little prideand he commended it highly. 'I tell you whatold
boy' he added'I shall make quite a town-house of this place
unless you give me notice to quit.'

This was a delightful hearing. I told him if he waited for that
he would have to wait till doomsday.

'But you shall have some breakfast!' said Iwith my hand on the
bell-rope'and Mrs. Crupp shall make you some fresh coffeeand
I'll toast you some bacon in a bachelor's Dutch-oventhat I have
got here.'


'Nono!' said Steerforth. 'Don't ring! I can't! I am going to
breakfast with one of these fellows who is at the Piazza Hotelin
Covent Garden.'

'But you'll come back to dinner?' said I.

'I can'tupon my life. There's nothing I should like betterbut
I must remain with these two fellows. We are all three off
together tomorrow morning.'

'Then bring them here to dinner' I returned. 'Do you think they
would come?'

'Oh! they would come fast enough' said Steerforth; 'but we should
inconvenience you. You had better come and dine with us
somewhere.'

I would not by any means consent to thisfor it occurred to me
that I really ought to have a little house-warmingand that there
never could be a better opportunity. I had a new pride in my rooms
after his approval of themand burned with a desire to develop
their utmost resources. I therefore made him promise positively in
the names of his two friendsand we appointed six o'clock as the
dinner-hour.

When he was goneI rang for Mrs. Cruppand acquainted her with my
desperate design. Mrs. Crupp saidin the first placeof course
it was well known she couldn't be expected to waitbut she knew a
handy young manwho she thought could be prevailed upon to do it
and whose terms would be five shillingsand what I pleased. I
saidcertainly we would have him. Next Mrs. Crupp said it was
clear she couldn't be in two places at once (which I felt to be
reasonable)and that 'a young gal' stationed in the pantry with a
bedroom candlethere never to desist from washing plateswould be
indispensable. I saidwhat would be the expense of this young
female? and Mrs. Crupp said she supposed eighteenpence would
neither make me nor break me. I said I supposed not; and THAT was
settled. Then Mrs. Crupp saidNow about the dinner.

It was a remarkable instance of want of forethought on the part of
the ironmonger who had made Mrs. Crupp's kitchen fireplacethat it
was capable of cooking nothing but chops and mashed potatoes. As
to a fish-kittleMrs. Crupp saidwell! would I only come and look
at the range? She couldn't say fairer than that. Would I come and
look at it? As I should not have been much the wiser if I HAD
looked at itI declinedand said'Never mind fish.' But Mrs.
Crupp saidDon't say that; oysters was inwhy not them? So THAT
was settled. Mrs. Crupp then said what she would recommend would
be this. A pair of hot roast fowls - from the pastry-cook's; a
dish of stewed beefwith vegetables - from the pastry-cook's; two
little corner thingsas a raised pie and a dish of kidneys - from
the pastrycook's; a tartand (if I liked) a shape of jelly - from
the pastrycook's. ThisMrs. Crupp saidwould leave her at full
liberty to concentrate her mind on the potatoesand to serve up
the cheese and celery as she could wish to see it done.

I acted on Mrs. Crupp's opinionand gave the order at the
pastry-cook's myself. Walking along the Strandafterwardsand
observing a hard mottled substance in the window of a ham and beef
shopwhich resembled marblebut was labelled 'Mock Turtle'I
went in and bought a slab of itwhich I have since seen reason to
believe would have sufficed for fifteen people. This preparation
Mrs. Cruppafter some difficultyconsented to warm up; and it
shrunk so much in a liquid statethat we found it what Steerforth


called 'rather a tight fit' for four.

These preparations happily completedI bought a little dessert in
Covent Garden Marketand gave a rather extensive order at a retail
wine-merchant's in that vicinity. When I came home in the
afternoonand saw the bottles drawn up in a square on the pantry
floorthey looked so numerous (though there were two missing
which made Mrs. Crupp very uncomfortable)that I was absolutely
frightened at them.

One of Steerforth's friends was named Graingerand the other
Markham. They were both very gay and lively fellows; Grainger
something older than Steerforth; Markhamyouthful-lookingand I
should say not more than twenty. I observed that the latter always
spoke of himself indefinitelyas 'a man'and seldom or never in
the first person singular.

'A man might get on very well hereMr. Copperfield' said Markham

-meaning himself.
'It's not a bad situation' said I'and the rooms are really
commodious.'

'I hope you have both brought appetites with you?' said Steerforth.

'Upon my honour' returned Markham'town seems to sharpen a man's
appetite. A man is hungry all day long. A man is perpetually
eating.'

Being a little embarrassed at firstand feeling much too young to
presideI made Steerforth take the head of the table when dinner
was announcedand seated myself opposite to him. Everything was
very good; we did not spare the wine; and he exerted himself so
brilliantly to make the thing pass off wellthat there was no
pause in our festivity. I was not quite such good company during
dinner as I could have wished to befor my chair was opposite the
doorand my attention was distracted by observing that the handy
young man went out of the room very oftenand that his shadow
always presented itselfimmediately afterwardson the wall of the
entrywith a bottle at its mouth. The 'young gal' likewise
occasioned me some uneasiness: not so much by neglecting to wash
the platesas by breaking them. For being of an inquisitive
dispositionand unable to confine herself (as her positive
instructions were) to the pantryshe was constantly peering in at
usand constantly imagining herself detected; in which beliefshe
several times retired upon the plates (with which she had carefully
paved the floor)and did a great deal of destruction.

Thesehoweverwere small drawbacksand easily forgotten when the
cloth was clearedand the dessert put on the table; at which
period of the entertainment the handy young man was discovered to
be speechless. Giving him private directions to seek the society
of Mrs. Cruppand to remove the 'young gal' to the basement also
I abandoned myself to enjoyment.

I beganby being singularly cheerful and light-hearted; all sorts
of half-forgotten things to talk aboutcame rushing into my mind
and made me hold forth in a most unwonted manner. I laughed
heartily at my own jokesand everybody else's; called Steerforth
to order for not passing the wine; made several engagements to go
to Oxford; announced that I meant to have a dinner-party exactly
like thatonce a weekuntil further notice; and madly took so
much snuff out of Grainger's boxthat I was obliged to go into the
pantryand have a private fit of sneezing ten minutes long.


I went onby passing the wine faster and faster yetand
continually starting up with a corkscrew to open more winelong
before any was needed. I proposed Steerforth's health. I said he
was my dearest friendthe protector of my boyhoodand the
companion of my prime. I said I was delighted to propose his
health. I said I owed him more obligations than I could ever
repayand held him in a higher admiration than I could ever
express. I finished by saying'I'll give you Steerforth! God
bless him! Hurrah!' We gave him three times threeand another
and a good one to finish with. I broke my glass in going round the
table to shake hands with himand I said (in two words)
'Steerforth - you'retheguidingstarofmyexistence.'

I went onby finding suddenly that somebody was in the middle of
a song. Markham was the singerand he sang 'When the heart of a
man is depressed with care'. He saidwhen he had sung ithe
would give us 'Woman!' I took objection to thatand I couldn't
allow it. I said it was not a respectful way of proposing the
toastand I would never permit that toast to be drunk in my house
otherwise than as 'The Ladies!' I was very high with himmainly I
think because I saw Steerforth and Grainger laughing at me - or at
him - or at both of us. He said a man was not to be dictated to.
I said a man was. He said a man was not to be insultedthen. I
said he was right there - never under my roofwhere the Lares were
sacredand the laws of hospitality paramount. He said it was no
derogation from a man's dignity to confess that I was a devilish
good fellow. I instantly proposed his health.

Somebody was smoking. We were all smoking. I was smokingand
trying to suppress a rising tendency to shudder. Steerforth had
made a speech about mein the course of which I had been affected
almost to tears. I returned thanksand hoped the present company
would dine with me tomorrowand the day after - each day at five
o'clockthat we might enjoy the pleasures of conversation and
society through a long evening. I felt called upon to propose an
individual. I would give them my aunt. Miss Betsey Trotwoodthe
best of her sex!

Somebody was leaning out of my bedroom windowrefreshing his
forehead against the cool stone of the parapetand feeling the air
upon his face. It was myself. I was addressing myself as
'Copperfield'and saying'Why did you try to smoke? You might
have known you couldn't do it.' Nowsomebody was unsteadily
contemplating his features in the looking-glass. That was I too.
I was very pale in the looking-glass; my eyes had a vacant
appearance; and my hair - only my hairnothing else - looked
drunk.

Somebody said to me'Let us go to the theatreCopperfield!' There
was no bedroom before mebut again the jingling table covered with
glasses; the lamp; Grainger on my right handMarkham on my left
and Steerforth opposite - all sitting in a mistand a long way
off. The theatre? To be sure. The very thing. Come along! But
they must excuse me if I saw everybody out firstand turned the
lamp off - in case of fire.

Owing to some confusion in the darkthe door was gone. I was
feeling for it in the window-curtainswhen Steerforthlaughing
took me by the arm and led me out. We went downstairsone behind
another. Near the bottomsomebody felland rolled down.
Somebody else said it was Copperfield. I was angry at that false
reportuntilfinding myself on my back in the passageI began to
think there might be some foundation for it.


A very foggy nightwith great rings round the lamps in the
streets! There was an indistinct talk of its being wet. I
considered it frosty. Steerforth dusted me under a lamp-postand
put my hat into shapewhich somebody produced from somewhere in a
most extraordinary mannerfor I hadn't had it on before.
Steerforth then said'You are all rightCopperfieldare you
not?' and I told him'Neverberrer.'

A mansitting in a pigeon-hole-placelooked out of the fogand
took money from somebodyinquiring if I was one of the gentlemen
paid forand appearing rather doubtful (as I remember in the
glimpse I had of him) whether to take the money for me or not.
Shortly afterwardswe were very high up in a very hot theatre
looking down into a large pitthat seemed to me to smoke; the
people with whom it was crammed were so indistinct. There was a
great stagetoolooking very clean and smooth after the streets;
and there were people upon ittalking about something or other
but not at all intelligibly. There was an abundance of bright
lightsand there was musicand there were ladies down in the
boxesand I don't know what more. The whole building looked to me
as if it were learning to swim; it conducted itself in such an
unaccountable mannerwhen I tried to steady it.

On somebody's motionwe resolved to go downstairs to the
dress-boxeswhere the ladies were. A gentleman loungingfull
dressedon a sofawith an opera-glass in his handpassed before
my viewand also my own figure at full length in a glass. Then I
was being ushered into one of these boxesand found myself saying
something as I sat downand people about me crying 'Silence!' to
somebodyand ladies casting indignant glances at meand - what!
yes! - Agnessitting on the seat before mein the same boxwith
a lady and gentleman beside herwhom I didn't know. I see her
face nowbetter than I did thenI dare saywith its indelible
look of regret and wonder turned upon me.

'Agnes!' I saidthickly'Lorblessmer! Agnes!'

'Hush! Pray!' she answeredI could not conceive why. 'You
disturb the company. Look at the stage!'

I triedon her injunctionto fix itand to hear something of
what was going on therebut quite in vain. I looked at her again
by and byand saw her shrink into her cornerand put her gloved
hand to her forehead.

'Agnes!' I said. 'I'mafraidyou'renorwell.'

'Yesyes. Do not mind meTrotwood' she returned. 'Listen! Are
you going away soon?'

'Amigoarawaysoo?' I repeated.

'Yes.'

I had a stupid intention of replying that I was going to waitto
hand her downstairs. I suppose I expressed itsomehow; for after
she had looked at me attentively for a little whileshe appeared
to understandand replied in a low tone:

'I know you will do as I ask youif I tell you I am very earnest
in it. Go away nowTrotwoodfor my sakeand ask your friends to
take you home.'


She had so far improved mefor the timethat though I was angry
with herI felt ashamedand with a short 'Goori!' (which I
intended for 'Good night!') got up and went away. They followed
and I stepped at once out of the box-door into my bedroomwhere
only Steerforth was with mehelping me to undressand where I was
by turns telling him that Agnes was my sisterand adjuring him to
bring the corkscrewthat I might open another bottle of wine.

How somebodylying in my bedlay saying and doing all this over
againat cross purposesin a feverish dream all night - the bed
a rocking sea that was never still! Howas that somebody slowly
settled down into myselfdid I begin to parchand feel as if my
outer covering of skin were a hard board; my tongue the bottom of
an empty kettlefurred with long serviceand burning up over a
slow fire; the palms of my handshot plates of metal which no ice
could cool!

But the agony of mindthe remorseand shame I felt when I became
conscious next day! My horror of having committed a thousand
offences I had forgottenand which nothing could ever expiate - my
recollection of that indelible look which Agnes had given me - the
torturing impossibility of communicating with hernot knowing
Beast that I washow she came to be in Londonor where she stayed

-my disgust of the very sight of the room where the revel had been
held - my racking head - the smell of smokethe sight of glasses
the impossibility of going outor even getting up! Ohwhat a day
it was!
Ohwhat an eveningwhen I sat down by my fire to a basin of
mutton brothdimpled all over with fatand thought I was going
the way of my predecessorand should succeed to his dismal story
as well as to his chambersand had half a mind to rush express to
Dover and reveal all! What an eveningwhen Mrs. Cruppcoming in
to take away the broth-basinproduced one kidney on a cheese-plate
as the entire remains of yesterday's feastand I was really
inclined to fall upon her nankeen breast and sayin heartfelt
penitence'OhMrs. CruppMrs. Cruppnever mind the broken
meats! I am very miserable!' - only that I doubtedeven at that
passif Mrs. Crupp were quite the sort of woman to confide in!

CHAPTER 25
GOOD AND BAD ANGELS

I was going out at my door on the morning after that deplorable day
of headachesicknessand repentancewith an odd confusion in my
mind relative to the date of my dinner-partyas if a body of
Titans had taken an enormous lever and pushed the day before
yesterday some months backwhen I saw a ticket-porter coming
upstairswith a letter in his hand. He was taking his time about
his errandthen; but when he saw me on the top of the staircase
looking at him over the banistershe swung into a trotand came
up panting as if he had run himself into a state of exhaustion.

'T. CopperfieldEsquire' said the ticket-portertouching his hat
with his little cane.

I could scarcely lay claim to the name: I was so disturbed by the
conviction that the letter came from Agnes. HoweverI told him I
was T. CopperfieldEsquireand he believed itand gave me the
letterwhich he said required an answer. I shut him out on the
landing to wait for the answerand went into my chambers againin
such a nervous state that I was fain to lay the letter down on my


breakfast tableand familiarize myself with the outside of it a
littlebefore I could resolve to break the seal.

I foundwhen I did open itthat it was a very kind note
containing no reference to my condition at the theatre. All it
said was'My dear Trotwood. I am staying at the house of papa's
agentMr. Waterbrookin Ely PlaceHolborn. Will you come and
see me todayat any time you like to appoint? Ever yours
affectionatelyAGNES. '

It took me such a long time to write an answer at all to my
satisfactionthat I don't know what the ticket-porter can have
thoughtunless he thought I was learning to write. I must have
written half-a-dozen answers at least. I began one'How can I
ever hopemy dear Agnesto efface from your remembrance the
disgusting impression' - there I didn't like itand then I tore it
up. I began another'Shakespeare has observedmy dear Agneshow
strange it is that a man should put an enemy into his mouth' - that
reminded me of Markhamand it got no farther. I even tried
poetry. I began one notein a six-syllable line'Ohdo not
remember' - but that associated itself with the fifth of November
and became an absurdity. After many attemptsI wrote'My dear
Agnes. Your letter is like youand what could I say of it that
would be higher praise than that? I will come at four o'clock.
Affectionately and sorrowfullyT.C.' With this missive (which I
was in twenty minds at once about recallingas soon as it was out
of my hands)the ticket-porter at last departed.

If the day were half as tremendous to any other professional
gentleman in Doctors' Commons as it was to meI sincerely believe
he made some expiation for his share in that rotten old
ecclesiastical cheese. Although I left the office at half past
threeand was prowling about the place of appointment within a few
minutes afterwardsthe appointed time was exceeded by a full
quarter of an houraccording to the clock of St. Andrew's
Holbornbefore I could muster up sufficient desperation to pull
the private bell-handle let into the left-hand door-post of Mr.
Waterbrook's house.

The professional business of Mr. Waterbrook's establishment was
done on the ground-floorand the genteel business (of which there
was a good deal) in the upper part of the building. I was shown
into a pretty but rather close drawing-roomand there sat Agnes
netting a purse.

She looked so quiet and goodand reminded me so strongly of my
airy fresh school days at Canterburyand the soddensmokystupid
wretch I had been the other nightthatnobody being byI yielded
to my self-reproach and shameand - in shortmade a fool of
myself. I cannot deny that I shed tears. To this hour I am
undecided whether it was upon the whole the wisest thing I could
have doneor the most ridiculous.

'If it had been anyone but youAgnes' said Iturning away my
head'I should not have minded it half so much. But that it
should have been you who saw me! I almost wish I had been dead
first.'

She put her hand - its touch was like no other hand - upon my arm
for a moment; and I felt so befriended and comfortedthat I could
not help moving it to my lipsand gratefully kissing it.

'Sit down' said Agnescheerfully. 'Don't be unhappyTrotwood.
If you cannot confidently trust mewhom will you trust?'


'AhAgnes!' I returned. 'You are my good Angel!'

She smiled rather sadlyI thoughtand shook her head.

'YesAgnesmy good Angel! Always my good Angel!'

'If I wereindeedTrotwood' she returned'there is one thing
that I should set my heart on very much.'


I looked at her inquiringly; but already with a foreknowledge of
her meaning.


'On warning you' said Agneswith a steady glance'against your
bad Angel.'


'My dear Agnes' I began'if you mean Steerforth -'


'I doTrotwood' she returned.
'ThenAgnesyou wrong him very much. He my bad Angelor
anyone's! Heanything but a guidea supportand a friend to me!
My dear Agnes! Nowis it not unjustand unlike youto judge him
from what you saw of me the other night?'


'I do not judge him from what I saw of you the other night' she
quietly replied.


'From whatthen?'


'From many things - trifles in themselvesbut they do not seem to
me to be sowhen they are put together. I judge himpartly from
your account of himTrotwoodand your characterand the
influence he has over you.'


There was always something in her modest voice that seemed to touch
a chord within meanswering to that sound alone. It was always
earnest; but when it was very earnestas it was nowthere was a
thrill in it that quite subdued me. I sat looking at her as she
cast her eyes down on her work; I sat seeming still to listen to
her; and Steerforthin spite of all my attachment to himdarkened
in that tone.


'It is very bold in me' said Agneslooking up again'who have
lived in such seclusionand can know so little of the worldto
give you my advice so confidentlyor even to have this strong
opinion. But I know in what it is engenderedTrotwood- in how
true a remembrance of our having grown up togetherand in how true
an interest in all relating to you. It is that which makes me
bold. I am certain that what I say is right. I am quite sure it
is. I feel as if it were someone else speaking to youand not I
when I caution you that you have made a dangerous friend.'


Again I looked at heragain I listened to her after she was
silentand again his imagethough it was still fixed in my heart
darkened.


'I am not so unreasonable as to expect' said Agnesresuming her
usual toneafter a little while'that you willor that you can
at oncechange any sentiment that has become a conviction to you;
least of all a sentiment that is rooted in your trusting
disposition. You ought not hastily to do that. I only ask you
Trotwoodif you ever think of me - I mean' with a quiet smile
for I was going to interrupt herand she knew why'as often as
you think of me - to think of what I have said. Do you forgive me



for all this?'

'I will forgive youAgnes' I replied'when you come to do
Steerforth justiceand to like him as well as I do.'

'Not until then?' said Agnes.

I saw a passing shadow on her face when I made this mention of him
but she returned my smileand we were again as unreserved in our
mutual confidence as of old.

'And whenAgnes' said I'will you forgive me the other night?'

'When I recall it' said Agnes.

She would have dismissed the subject sobut I was too full of it
to allow thatand insisted on telling her how it happened that I
had disgraced myselfand what chain of accidental circumstances
had had the theatre for its final link. It was a great relief to
me to do thisand to enlarge on the obligation that I owed to
Steerforth for his care of me when I was unable to take care of
myself.

'You must not forget' said Agnescalmly changing the conversation
as soon as I had concluded'that you are always to tell menot
only when you fall into troublebut when you fall in love. Who
has succeeded to Miss LarkinsTrotwood?'

'No oneAgnes.'

'SomeoneTrotwood' said Agneslaughingand holding up her
finger.

'NoAgnesupon my word! There is a ladycertainlyat Mrs.
Steerforth's housewho is very cleverand whom I like to talk to

-Miss Dartle - but I don't adore her.'
Agnes laughed again at her own penetrationand told me that if I
were faithful to her in my confidence she thought she should keep
a little register of my violent attachmentswith the date
durationand termination of eachlike the table of the reigns of
the kings and queensin the History of England. Then she asked me
if I had seen Uriah.

'Uriah Heep?' said I. 'No. Is he in London?'

'He comes to the office downstairsevery day' returned Agnes.
'He was in London a week before me. I am afraid on disagreeable
businessTrotwood.'

'On some business that makes you uneasyAgnesI see' said I.
'What can that be?'

Agnes laid aside her workand repliedfolding her hands upon one
anotherand looking pensively at me out of those beautiful soft
eyes of hers:

'I believe he is going to enter into partnership with papa.'

'What? Uriah? That meanfawning fellowworm himself into such
promotion!' I criedindignantly. 'Have you made no remonstrance
about itAgnes? Consider what a connexion it is likely to be.
You must speak out. You must not allow your father to take such a
mad step. You must prevent itAgneswhile there's time.'


Still looking at meAgnes shook her head while I was speaking
with a faint smile at my warmth: and then replied:

'You remember our last conversation about papa? It was not long
after that - not more than two or three days - when he gave me the
first intimation of what I tell you. It was sad to see him
struggling between his desire to represent it to me as a matter of
choice on his partand his inability to conceal that it was forced
upon him. I felt very sorry.'

'Forced upon himAgnes! Who forces it upon him?'

'Uriah' she repliedafter a moment's hesitation'has made
himself indispensable to papa. He is subtle and watchful. He has
mastered papa's weaknessesfostered themand taken advantage of
themuntil - to say all that I mean in a wordTrotwood- until
papa is afraid of him.'

There was more that she might have said; more that she knewor
that she suspected; I clearly saw. I could not give her pain by
asking what it wasfor I knew that she withheld it from meto
spare her father. It had long been going on to thisI was
sensible: yesI could not but feelon the least reflectionthat
it had been going on to this for a long time. I remained silent.

'His ascendancy over papa' said Agnes'is very great. He
professes humility and gratitude - with truthperhaps: I hope so

-but his position is really one of powerand I fear he makes a
hard use of his power.'
I said he was a houndwhichat the momentwas a great
satisfaction to me.

'At the time I speak ofas the time when papa spoke to me'
pursued Agnes'he had told papa that he was going away; that he
was very sorryand unwilling to leavebut that he had better
prospects. Papa was very much depressed thenand more bowed down
by care than ever you or I have seen him; but he seemed relieved by
this expedient of the partnershipthough at the same time he
seemed hurt by it and ashamed of it.'

'And how did you receive itAgnes?'

'I didTrotwood' she replied'what I hope was right. Feeling
sure that it was necessary for papa's peace that the sacrifice
should be madeI entreated him to make it. I said it would
lighten the load of his life - I hope it will! - and that it would
give me increased opportunities of being his companion. Oh
Trotwood!' cried Agnesputting her hands before her faceas her
tears started on it'I almost feel as if I had been papa's enemy
instead of his loving child. For I know how he has alteredin his
devotion to me. I know how he has narrowed the circle of his
sympathies and dutiesin the concentration of his whole mind upon
me. I know what a multitude of things he has shut out for my sake
and how his anxious thoughts of me have shadowed his lifeand
weakened his strength and energyby turning them always upon one
idea. If I could ever set this right! If I could ever work out
his restorationas I have so innocently been the cause of his
decline!'

I had never before seen Agnes cry. I had seen tears in her eyes
when I had brought new honours home from schooland I had seen
them there when we last spoke about her fatherand I had seen her


turn her gentle head aside when we took leave of one another; but
I had never seen her grieve like this. It made me so sorry that I
could only sayin a foolishhelpless manner'PrayAgnesdon't!
Don'tmy dear sister!'

But Agnes was too superior to me in character and purposeas I
know well nowwhatever I might know or not know thento be long
in need of my entreaties. The beautifulcalm mannerwhich makes
her so different in my remembrance from everybody elsecame back
againas if a cloud had passed from a serene sky.

'We are not likely to remain alone much longer' said Agnes'and
while I have an opportunitylet me earnestly entreat you
Trotwoodto be friendly to Uriah. Don't repel him. Don't resent
(as I think you have a general disposition to do) what may be
uncongenial to you in him. He may not deserve itfor we know no
certain ill of him. In any casethink first of papa and me!'

Agnes had no time to say morefor the room door openedand Mrs.
Waterbrookwho was a large lady - or who wore a large dress: I
don't exactly know whichfor I don't know which was dress and
which was lady - came sailing in. I had a dim recollection of
having seen her at the theatreas if I had seen her in a pale
magic lantern; but she appeared to remember me perfectlyand still
to suspect me of being in a state of intoxication.

Finding by degreeshoweverthat I was soberand (I hope) that I
was a modest young gentlemanMrs. Waterbrook softened towards me
considerablyand inquiredfirstlyif I went much into the parks
and secondlyif I went much into society. On my replying to both
these questions in the negativeit occurred to me that I fell
again in her good opinion; but she concealed the fact gracefully
and invited me to dinner next day. I accepted the invitationand
took my leavemaking a call on Uriah in the office as I went out
and leaving a card for him in his absence.

When I went to dinner next dayand on the street door being
openedplunged into a vapour-bath of haunch of muttonI divined
that I was not the only guestfor I immediately identified the
ticket-porter in disguiseassisting the family servantand
waiting at the foot of the stairs to carry up my name. He looked
to the best of his abilitywhen he asked me for it confidentially
as if he had never seen me before; but well did I know himand
well did he know me. Conscience made cowards of us both.

I found Mr. Waterbrook to be a middle-aged gentlemanwith a short
throatand a good deal of shirt-collarwho only wanted a black
nose to be the portrait of a pug-dog. He told me he was happy to
have the honour of making my acquaintance; and when I had paid my
homage to Mrs. Waterbrookpresented mewith much ceremonyto a
very awful lady in a black velvet dressand a great black velvet
hatwhom I remember as looking like a near relation of Hamlet's say
his aunt.

Mrs. Henry Spiker was this lady's name; and her husband was there
too: so cold a manthat his headinstead of being greyseemed to
be sprinkled with hoar-frost. Immense deference was shown to the
Henry Spikersmale and female; which Agnes told me was on account
of Mr. Henry Spiker being solicitor to something Or to SomebodyI
forget what or whichremotely connected with the Treasury.

I found Uriah Heep among the companyin a suit of blackand in
deep humility. He told mewhen I shook hands with himthat he
was proud to be noticed by meand that he really felt obliged to


me for my condescension. I could have wished he had been less
obliged to mefor he hovered about me in his gratitude all the
rest of the evening; and whenever I said a word to Agneswas sure
with his shadowless eyes and cadaverous faceto be looking gauntly
down upon us from behind.

There were other guests - all iced for the occasionas it struck
melike the wine. But there was one who attracted my attention
before he came inon account of my hearing him announced as Mr.
Traddles! My mind flew back to Salem House; and could it be Tommy
I thoughtwho used to draw the skeletons!

I looked for Mr. Traddles with unusual interest. He was a sober
steady-looking young man of retiring mannerswith a comic head of
hairand eyes that were rather wide open; and he got into an
obscure corner so soonthat I had some difficulty in making him
out. At length I had a good view of himand either my vision
deceived meor it was the old unfortunate Tommy.

I made my way to Mr. Waterbrookand saidthat I believed I had
the pleasure of seeing an old schoolfellow there.

'Indeed!' said Mr. Waterbrooksurprised. 'You are too young to
have been at school with Mr. Henry Spiker?'

'OhI don't mean him!' I returned. 'I mean the gentleman named
Traddles.'

'Oh! Ayeaye! Indeed!' said my hostwith much diminished
interest. 'Possibly.'

'If it's really the same person' said Iglancing towards him'it
was at a place called Salem House where we were togetherand he
was an excellent fellow.'

'Oh yes. Traddles is a good fellow' returned my host nodding his
head with an air of toleration. 'Traddles is quite a good fellow.'

'It's a curious coincidence' said I.

'It is really' returned my host'quite a coincidencethat
Traddles should be here at all: as Traddles was only invited this
morningwhen the place at tableintended to be occupied by Mrs.
Henry Spiker's brotherbecame vacantin consequence of his
indisposition. A very gentlemanly manMrs. Henry Spiker's
brotherMr. Copperfield.'

I murmured an assentwhich was full of feelingconsidering that
I knew nothing at all about him; and I inquired what Mr. Traddles
was by profession.

'Traddles' returned Mr. Waterbrook'is a young man reading for
the bar. Yes. He is quite a good fellow - nobody's enemy but his
own.'

'Is he his own enemy?' said Isorry to hear this.

'Well' returned Mr. Waterbrookpursing up his mouthand playing
with his watch-chainin a comfortableprosperous sort of way. 'I
should say he was one of those men who stand in their own light.
YesI should say he would neverfor examplebe worth five
hundred pound. Traddles was recommended to me by a professional
friend. Oh yes. Yes. He has a kind of talent for drawing briefs
and stating a case in writingplainly. I am able to throw


something in Traddles's wayin the course of the year; something

-for him - considerable. Oh yes. Yes.'
I was much impressed by the extremely comfortable and satisfied
manner in which Mr. Waterbrook delivered himself of this little
word 'Yes'every now and then. There was wonderful expression in
it. It completely conveyed the idea of a man who had been born
not to say with a silver spoonbut with a scaling-ladderand had
gone on mounting all the heights of life one after anotheruntil
now he lookedfrom the top of the fortificationswith the eye of
a philosopher and a patronon the people down in the trenches.

My reflections on this theme were still in progress when dinner was
announced. Mr. Waterbrook went down with Hamlet's aunt. Mr. Henry
Spiker took Mrs. Waterbrook. Agneswhom I should have liked to
take myselfwas given to a simpering fellow with weak legs.
UriahTraddlesand Ias the junior part of the companywent
down lasthow we could. I was not so vexed at losing Agnes as I
might have beensince it gave me an opportunity of making myself
known to Traddles on the stairswho greeted me with great fervour;
while Uriah writhed with such obtrusive satisfaction and
self-abasementthat I could gladly have pitched him over the
banisters.
Traddles and I were separated at tablebeing billeted in two
remote corners: he in the glare of a red velvet lady; Iin the
gloom of Hamlet's aunt. The dinner was very longand the
conversation was about the Aristocracy - and Blood. Mrs.
Waterbrook repeatedly told usthat if she had a weaknessit was
Blood.

It occurred to me several times that we should have got on better
if we had not been quite so genteel. We were so exceedingly
genteelthat our scope was very limited. A Mr. and Mrs. Gulpidge
were of the partywho had something to do at second-hand (at
leastMr. Gulpidge had) with the law business of the Bank; and
what with the Bankand what with the Treasurywe were as
exclusive as the Court Circular. To mend the matterHamlet's aunt
had the family failing of indulging in soliloquyand held forth in
a desultory mannerby herselfon every topic that was introduced.
These were few enoughto be sure; but as we always fell back upon
Bloodshe had as wide a field for abstract speculation as her
nephew himself.

We might have been a party of Ogresthe conversation assumed such
a sanguine complexion.

'I confess I am of Mrs. Waterbrook's opinion' said Mr. Waterbrook
with his wine-glass at his eye. 'Other things are all very well in
their waybut give me Blood!'

'Oh! There is nothing' observed Hamlet's aunt'so satisfactory
to one! There is nothing that is so much one's beau-ideal of - of
all that sort of thingspeaking generally. There are some low
minds (not manyI am happy to believebut there are some) that
would prefer to do what I should call bow down before idols.
Positively Idols! Before serviceintellectand so on. But these
are intangible points. Blood is not so. We see Blood in a nose
and we know it. We meet with it in a chinand we sayThere it
is! That's Blood!It is an actual matter of fact. We point it
out. It admits of no doubt.'

The simpering fellow with the weak legswho had taken Agnes down
stated the question more decisively yetI thought.


'Ohyou knowdeuce take it' said this gentlemanlooking round
the board with an imbecile smile'we can't forego Bloodyou know.
We must have Bloodyou know. Some young fellowsyou knowmay be
a little behind their stationperhapsin point of education and
behaviourand may go a little wrongyou knowand get themselves
and other people into a variety of fixes - and all that - but deuce
take itit's delightful to reflect that they've got Blood in 'em!
MyselfI'd rather at any time be knocked down by a man who had got
Blood in himthan I'd be picked up by a man who hadn't!'

This sentimentas compressing the general question into a
nutshellgave the utmost satisfactionand brought the gentleman
into great notice until the ladies retired. After thatI observed
that Mr. Gulpidge and Mr. Henry Spikerwho had hitherto been very
distantentered into a defensive alliance against usthe common
enemyand exchanged a mysterious dialogue across the table for our
defeat and overthrow.

'That affair of the first bond for four thousand five hundred
pounds has not taken the course that was expectedSpiker' said
Mr. Gulpidge.

'Do you mean the D. of A.'s?' said Mr. Spiker.

'The C. of B.'s!' said Mr. Gulpidge.

Mr. Spiker raised his eyebrowsand looked much concerned.

'When the question was referred to Lord - I needn't name him' said
Mr. Gulpidgechecking himself


'I understand' said Mr. Spiker'N.'

Mr. Gulpidge darkly nodded - 'was referred to himhis answer was
Money, or no release.'

'Lord bless my soul!' cried Mr. Spiker.

'Money, or no release,' repeated Mr. Gulpidgefirmly. 'The next
in reversion - you understand me?'

'K.' said Mr. Spikerwith an ominous look.

'- K. then positively refused to sign. He was attended at
Newmarket for that purposeand he point-blank refused to do it.'

Mr. Spiker was so interestedthat he became quite stony.

'So the matter rests at this hour' said Mr. Gulpidgethrowing
himself back in his chair. 'Our friend Waterbrook will excuse me
if I forbear to explain myself generallyon account of the
magnitude of the interests involved.'

Mr. Waterbrook was only too happyas it appeared to meto have
such interestsand such nameseven hinted atacross his table.
He assumed an expression of gloomy intelligence (though I am
persuaded he knew no more about the discussion than I did)and
highly approved of the discretion that had been observed. Mr.
Spikerafter the receipt of such a confidencenaturally desired
to favour his friend with a confidence of his own; therefore the
foregoing dialogue was succeeded by anotherin which it was Mr.
Gulpidge's turn to be surprisedand that by another in which the
surprise came round to Mr. Spiker's turn againand so onturn and
turn about. All this time wethe outsidersremained oppressed by


the tremendous interests involved in the conversation; and our host
regarded us with prideas the victims of a salutary awe and
astonishment.
I was very glad indeed to get upstairs to Agnesand to talk with
her in a cornerand to introduce Traddles to herwho was shybut
agreeableand the same good-natured creature still. As he was
obliged to leave earlyon account of going away next morning for
a monthI had not nearly so much conversation with him as I could
have wished; but we exchanged addressesand promised ourselves the
pleasure of another meeting when he should come back to town. He
was greatly interested to hear that I knew Steerforthand spoke of
him with such warmth that I made him tell Agnes what he thought of
him. But Agnes only looked at me the whileand very slightly
shook her head when only I observed her.

As she was not among people with whom I believed she could be very
much at homeI was almost glad to hear that she was going away
within a few daysthough I was sorry at the prospect of parting
from her again so soon. This caused me to remain until all the
company were gone. Conversing with herand hearing her singwas
such a delightful reminder to me of my happy life in the grave old
house she had made so beautifulthat I could have remained there
half the night; buthaving no excuse for staying any longerwhen
the lights of Mr. Waterbrook's society were all snuffed outI took
my leave very much against my inclination. I felt thenmore than
everthat she was my better Angel; and if I thought of her sweet
face and placid smileas though they had shone on me from some
removed beinglike an AngelI hope I thought no harm.

I have said that the company were all gone; but I ought to have
excepted Uriahwhom I don't include in that denominationand who
had never ceased to hover near us. He was close behind me when I
went downstairs. He was close beside mewhen I walked away from
the houseslowly fitting his long skeleton fingers into the still
longer fingers of a great Guy Fawkes pair of gloves.

It was in no disposition for Uriah's companybut in remembrance of
the entreaty Agnes had made to methat I asked him if he would
come home to my roomsand have some coffee.

'OhreallyMaster Copperfield' he rejoined - 'I beg your pardon
Mister Copperfieldbut the other comes so naturalI don't like
that you should put a constraint upon yourself to ask a numble
person like me to your ouse.'

'There is no constraint in the case' said I. 'Will you come?'

'I should like tovery much' replied Uriahwith a writhe.

'Wellthencome along!' said I.

I could not help being rather short with himbut he appeared not
to mind it. We went the nearest waywithout conversing much upon
the road; and he was so humble in respect of those scarecrow
glovesthat he was still putting them onand seemed to have made
no advance in that labourwhen we got to my place.

I led him up the dark stairsto prevent his knocking his head
against anythingand really his damp cold hand felt so like a frog
in minethat I was tempted to drop it and run away. Agnes and
hospitality prevailedhoweverand I conducted him to my fireside.
When I lighted my candleshe fell into meek transports with the
room that was revealed to him; and when I heated the coffee in an
unassuming block-tin vessel in which Mrs. Crupp delighted to


prepare it (chieflyI believebecause it was not intended for the
purposebeing a shaving-potand because there was a patent
invention of great price mouldering away in the pantry)he
professed so much emotionthat I could joyfully have scalded him.


'OhreallyMaster Copperfield- I mean Mister Copperfield' said
Uriah'to see you waiting upon me is what I never could have
expected! Butone way and anotherso many things happen to me
which I never could have expectedI am surein my umble station
that it seems to rain blessings on my ed. You have heard
somethingI des-sayof a change in my expectationsMaster
Copperfield- I should sayMister Copperfield?'


As he sat on my sofawith his long knees drawn up under his
coffee-cuphis hat and gloves upon the ground close to himhis
spoon going softly round and roundhis shadowless red eyeswhich
looked as if they had scorched their lashes offturned towards me
without looking at methe disagreeable dints I have formerly
described in his nostrils coming and going with his breathand a
snaky undulation pervading his frame from his chin to his bootsI
decided in my own mind that I disliked him intensely. It made me
very uncomfortable to have him for a guestfor I was young then
and unused to disguise what I so strongly felt.


'You have heard somethingI des-sayof a change in my
expectationsMaster Copperfield- I should sayMister
Copperfield?' observed Uriah.


'Yes' said I'something.'


'Ah! I thought Miss Agnes would know of it!' he quietly returned.
'I'm glad to find Miss Agnes knows of it. Ohthank youMaster -
Mister Copperfield!'


I could have thrown my bootjack at him (it lay ready on the rug)
for having entrapped me into the disclosure of anything concerning
Agneshowever immaterial. But I only drank my coffee.


'What a prophet you have shown yourselfMister Copperfield!'
pursued Uriah. 'Dear mewhat a prophet you have proved yourself
to be! Don't you remember saying to me oncethat perhaps I should
be a partner in Mr. Wickfield's businessand perhaps it might be
Wickfield and Heep? You may not recollect it; but when a person is
umbleMaster Copperfielda person treasures such things up!'


'I recollect talking about it' said I'though I certainly did not
think it very likely then.'
'Oh! who would have thought it likelyMister Copperfield!'
returned Uriahenthusiastically. 'I am sure I didn't myself. I
recollect saying with my own lips that I was much too umble. So I
considered myself really and truly.'


He satwith that carved grin on his facelooking at the fireas
I looked at him.


'But the umblest personsMaster Copperfield' he presently
resumed'may be the instruments of good. I am glad to think I
have been the instrument of good to Mr. Wickfieldand that I may
be more so. Oh what a worthy man he isMister Copperfieldbut
how imprudent he has been!'


'I am sorry to hear it' said I. I could not help addingrather
pointedly'on all accounts.'



'Decidedly soMister Copperfield' replied Uriah. 'On all
accounts. Miss Agnes's above all! You don't remember your own
eloquent expressionsMaster Copperfield; but I remember how you
said one day that everybody must admire herand how I thanked you
for it! You have forgot thatI have no doubtMaster
Copperfield?'

'No' said Idrily.

'Oh how glad I am you have not!' exclaimed Uriah. 'To think that
you should be the first to kindle the sparks of ambition in my
umble breastand that you've not forgot it! Oh! - Would you
excuse me asking for a cup more coffee?'

Something in the emphasis he laid upon the kindling of those
sparksand something in the glance he directed at me as he said
ithad made me start as if I had seen him illuminated by a blaze
of light. Recalled by his requestpreferred in quite another tone
of voiceI did the honours of the shaving-pot; but I did them with
an unsteadiness of handa sudden sense of being no match for him
and a perplexed suspicious anxiety as to what he might be going to
say nextwhich I felt could not escape his observation.

He said nothing at all. He stirred his coffee round and roundhe
sipped ithe felt his chin softly with his grisly handhe looked
at the firehe looked about the roomhe gasped rather than smiled
at mehe writhed and undulated aboutin his deferential
servilityhe stirred and sipped againbut he left the renewal of
the conversation to me.

'SoMr. Wickfield' said Iat last'who is worth five hundred of
you - or me'; for my lifeI thinkI could not have helped
dividing that part of the sentence with an awkward jerk; 'has been
imprudenthas heMr. Heep?'

'Ohvery imprudent indeedMaster Copperfield' returned Uriah
sighing modestly. 'Ohvery much so! But I wish you'd call me
Uriahif you please. It's like old times.'

'Well! Uriah' said Ibolting it out with some difficulty.

'Thank you' he returnedwith fervour. 'Thank youMaster
Copperfield! It's like the blowing of old breezes or the ringing
of old bellses to hear YOU say Uriah. I beg your pardon. Was I
making any observation?'

'About Mr. Wickfield' I suggested.

'Oh! Yestruly' said Uriah. 'Ah! Great imprudenceMaster
Copperfield. It's a topic that I wouldn't touch uponto any soul
but you. Even to you I can only touch upon itand no more. If
anyone else had been in my place during the last few yearsby this
time he would have had Mr. Wickfield (ohwhat a worthy man he is
Master Copperfieldtoo!) under his thumb. Un--der--his thumb'
said Uriahvery slowlyas he stretched out his cruel-looking hand
above my tableand pressed his own thumb upon ituntil it shook
and shook the room.

If I had been obliged to look at him with him splay foot on Mr.
Wickfield's headI think I could scarcely have hated him more.

'OhdearyesMaster Copperfield' he proceededin a soft voice
most remarkably contrasting with the action of his thumbwhich did
not diminish its hard pressure in the least degree'there's no


doubt of it. There would have been lossdisgraceI don't know
what at all. Mr. Wickfield knows it. I am the umble instrument of
umbly serving himand he puts me on an eminence I hardly could
have hoped to reach. How thankful should I be!' With his face
turned towards meas he finishedbut without looking at mehe
took his crooked thumb off the spot where he had planted itand
slowly and thoughtfully scraped his lank jaw with itas if he were
shaving himself.

I recollect well how indignantly my heart beatas I saw his crafty
facewith the appropriately red light of the fire upon it
preparing for something else.

'Master Copperfield' he began - 'but am I keeping you up?'

'You are not keeping me up. I generally go to bed late.'

'Thank youMaster Copperfield! I have risen from my umble station
since first you used to address meit is true; but I am umble
still. I hope I never shall be otherwise than umble. You will not
think the worse of my umblenessif I make a little confidence to
youMaster Copperfield? Will you?'

'Oh no' said Iwith an effort.

'Thank you!' He took out his pocket-handkerchiefand began wiping
the palms of his hands. 'Miss AgnesMaster Copperfield -'
'WellUriah?'

'Ohhow pleasant to be called Uriahspontaneously!' he cried; and
gave himself a jerklike a convulsive fish. 'You thought her
looking very beautiful tonightMaster Copperfield?'

'I thought her looking as she always does: superiorin all
respectsto everyone around her' I returned.

'Ohthank you! It's so true!' he cried. 'Ohthank you very much
for that!'

'Not at all' I saidloftily. 'There is no reason why you should
thank me.'

'Why thatMaster Copperfield' said Uriah'isin factthe
confidence that I am going to take the liberty of reposing. Umble
as I am' he wiped his hands harderand looked at them and at the
fire by turns'umble as my mother isand lowly as our poor but
honest roof has ever beenthe image of Miss Agnes (I don't mind
trusting you with my secretMaster Copperfieldfor I have always
overflowed towards you since the first moment I had the pleasure of
beholding you in a pony-shay) has been in my breast for years. Oh
Master Copperfieldwith what a pure affection do I love the ground
my Agnes walks on!'

I believe I had a delirious idea of seizing the red-hot poker out
of the fireand running him through with it. It went from me with
a shocklike a ball fired from a rifle: but the image of Agnes
outraged by so much as a thought of this red-headed animal's
remained in my mind when I looked at himsitting all awry as if
his mean soul griped his bodyand made me giddy. He seemed to
swell and grow before my eyes; the room seemed full of the echoes
of his voice; and the strange feeling (to whichperhapsno one is
quite a stranger) that all this had occurred beforeat some
indefinite timeand that I knew what he was going to say next
took possession of me.


A timely observation of the sense of power that there was in his
facedid more to bring back to my remembrance the entreaty of
Agnesin its full forcethan any effort I could have made. I
asked himwith a better appearance of composure than I could have
thought possible a minute beforewhether he had made his feelings
known to Agnes.

'Oh noMaster Copperfield!' he returned; 'oh dearno! Not to
anyone but you. You see I am only just emerging from my lowly
station. I rest a good deal of hope on her observing how useful I
am to her father (for I trust to be very useful to him indeed
Master Copperfield)and how I smooth the way for himand keep him
straight. She's so much attached to her fatherMaster Copperfield
(ohwhat a lovely thing it is in a daughter!)that I think she
may comeon his accountto be kind to me.'

I fathomed the depth of the rascal's whole schemeand understood
why he laid it bare.

'If you'll have the goodness to keep my secretMaster
Copperfield' he pursued'and notin generalto go against me
I shall take it as a particular favour. You wouldn't wish to make
unpleasantness. I know what a friendly heart you've got; but
having only known me on my umble footing (on my umblest I should
sayfor I am very umble still)you mightunbeknowngo against
me ratherwith my Agnes. I call her mineyou seeMaster
Copperfield. There's a song that saysI'd crowns resign, to call
her mine!I hope to do itone of these days.'

Dear Agnes! So much too loving and too good for anyone that I
could think ofwas it possible that she was reserved to be the
wife of such a wretch as this!

'There's no hurry at presentyou knowMaster Copperfield' Uriah
proceededin his slimy wayas I sat gazing at himwith this
thought in my mind. 'My Agnes is very young still; and mother and
me will have to work our way upwardsand make a good many new
arrangementsbefore it would be quite convenient. So I shall have
time gradually to make her familiar with my hopesas opportunities
offer. OhI'm so much obliged to you for this confidence! Oh
it's such a reliefyou can't thinkto know that you understand
our situationand are certain (as you wouldn't wish to make
unpleasantness in the family) not to go against me!'

He took the hand which I dared not withholdand having given it a
damp squeezereferred to his pale-faced watch.

'Dear me!' he said'it's past one. The moments slip away soin
the confidence of old timesMaster Copperfieldthat it's almost
half past one!'

I answered that I had thought it was later. Not that I had really
thought sobut because my conversational powers were effectually
scattered.

'Dear me!' he saidconsidering. 'The ouse that I am stopping at

-a sort of a private hotel and boarding ouseMaster Copperfield
near the New River ed - will have gone to bed these two hours.'
'I am sorry' I returned'that there is only one bed hereand
that I -'

'Ohdon't think of mentioning bedsMaster Copperfield!' he


rejoined ecstaticallydrawing up one leg. 'But would you have any
objections to my laying down before the fire?'

'If it comes to that' I said'pray take my bedand I'll lie down
before the fire.'

His repudiation of this offer was almost shrill enoughin the
excess of its surprise and humilityto have penetrated to the ears
of Mrs. Cruppthen sleepingI supposein a distant chamber
situated at about the level of low-water marksoothed in her
slumbers by the ticking of an incorrigible clockto which she
always referred me when we had any little difference on the score
of punctualityand which was never less than three-quarters of an
hour too slowand had always been put right in the morning by the
best authorities. As no arguments I could urgein my bewildered
conditionhad the least effect upon his modesty in inducing him to
accept my bedroomI was obliged to make the best arrangements I
couldfor his repose before the fire. The mattress of the sofa
(which was a great deal too short for his lank figure)the sofa
pillowsa blanketthe table-covera clean breakfast-clothand
a great-coatmade him a bed and coveringfor which he was more
than thankful. Having lent him a night-capwhich he put on at
onceand in which he made such an awful figurethat I have never
worn one sinceI left him to his rest.

I never shall forget that night. I never shall forget how I turned
and tumbled; how I wearied myself with thinking about Agnes and
this creature; how I considered what could I doand what ought I
to do; how I could come to no other conclusion than that the best
course for her peace was to do nothingand to keep to myself what
I had heard. If I went to sleep for a few momentsthe image of
Agnes with her tender eyesand of her father looking fondly on
heras I had so often seen him lookarose before me with
appealing facesand filled me with vague terrors. When I awoke
the recollection that Uriah was lying in the next roomsat heavy
on me like a waking nightmare; and oppressed me with a leaden
dreadas if I had had some meaner quality of devil for a lodger.

The poker got into my dozing thoughts besidesand wouldn't come
out. I thoughtbetween sleeping and wakingthat it was still red
hotand I had snatched it out of the fireand run him through the
body. I was so haunted at last by the ideathough I knew there
was nothing in itthat I stole into the next room to look at him.
There I saw himlying on his backwith his legs extending to I
don't know wheregurglings taking place in his throatstoppages
in his noseand his mouth open like a post-office. He was so much
worse in reality than in my distempered fancythat afterwards I
was attracted to him in very repulsionand could not help
wandering in and out every half-hour or soand taking another look
at him. Stillthe longlong night seemed heavy and hopeless as
everand no promise of day was in the murky sky.

When I saw him going downstairs early in the morning (forthank
Heaven! he would not stay to breakfast)it appeared to me as if
the night was going away in his person. When I went out to the
CommonsI charged Mrs. Crupp with particular directions to leave
the windows openthat my sitting-room might be airedand purged
of his presence.

CHAPTER 26
I FALL INTO CAPTIVITY


I saw no more of Uriah Heepuntil the day when Agnes left town.
I was at the coach office to take leave of her and see her go; and
there was hereturning to Canterbury by the same conveyance. It
was some small satisfaction to me to observe his spare
short-waistedhigh-shoulderedmulberry-coloured great-coat
perched upin company with an umbrella like a small tenton the
edge of the back seat on the roofwhile Agnes wasof course
inside; but what I underwent in my efforts to be friendly with him
while Agnes looked onperhaps deserved that little recompense. At
the coach windowas at the dinner-partyhe hovered about us
without a moment's intermissionlike a great vulture: gorging
himself on every syllable that I said to Agnesor Agnes said to
me.

In the state of trouble into which his disclosure by my fire had
thrown meI had thought very much of the words Agnes had used in
reference to the partnership. 'I did what I hope was right.
Feeling sure that it was necessary for papa's peace that the
sacrifice should be madeI entreated him to make it.' A miserable
foreboding that she would yield toand sustain herself bythe
same feeling in reference to any sacrifice for his sakehad
oppressed me ever since. I knew how she loved him. I knew what
the devotion of her nature was. I knew from her own lips that she
regarded herself as the innocent cause of his errorsand as owing
him a great debt she ardently desired to pay. I had no consolation
in seeing how different she was from this detestable Rufus with the
mulberry-coloured great-coatfor I felt that in the very
difference between themin the self-denial of her pure soul and
the sordid baseness of histhe greatest danger lay. All this
doubtlesshe knew thoroughlyand hadin his cunningconsidered
well.

Yet I was so certain that the prospect of such a sacrifice afar
offmust destroy the happiness of Agnes; and I was so surefrom
her mannerof its being unseen by her thenand having cast no
shadow on her yet; that I could as soon have injured heras given
her any warning of what impended. Thus it was that we parted
without explanation: she waving her hand and smiling farewell from
the coach window; her evil genius writhing on the roofas if he
had her in his clutches and triumphed.

I could not get over this farewell glimpse of them for a long time.
When Agnes wrote to tell me of her safe arrivalI was as miserable
as when I saw her going away. Whenever I fell into a thoughtful
statethis subject was sure to present itselfand all my
uneasiness was sure to be redoubled. Hardly a night passed without
my dreaming of it. It became a part of my lifeand as inseparable
from my life as my own head.

I had ample leisure to refine upon my uneasiness: for Steerforth
was at Oxfordas he wrote to meand when I was not at the
CommonsI was very much alone. I believe I had at this time some
lurking distrust of Steerforth. I wrote to him most affectionately
in reply to hisbut I think I was gladupon the wholethat he
could not come to London just then. I suspect the truth to be
that the influence of Agnes was upon meundisturbed by the sight
of him; and that it was the more powerful with mebecause she had
so large a share in my thoughts and interest.

In the meantimedays and weeks slipped away. I was articled to
Spenlow and Jorkins. I had ninety pounds a year (exclusive of my
house-rent and sundry collateral matters) from my aunt. My rooms
were engaged for twelve months certain: and though I still found


them dreary of an eveningand the evenings longI could settle
down into a state of equable low spiritsand resign myself to
coffee; which I seemon looking backto have taken by the gallon
at about this period of my existence. At about this timetooI
made three discoveries: firstthat Mrs. Crupp was a martyr to a
curious disorder called 'the spazzums'which was generally
accompanied with inflammation of the noseand required to be
constantly treated with peppermint; secondlythat something
peculiar in the temperature of my pantrymade the brandy-bottles
burst; thirdlythat I was alone in the worldand much given to
record that circumstance in fragments of English versification.

On the day when I was articledno festivity took placebeyond my
having sandwiches and sherry into the office for the clerksand
going alone to the theatre at night. I went to see The Stranger
as a Doctors' Commons sort of playand was so dreadfully cut up
that I hardly knew myself in my own glass when I got home. Mr.
Spenlow remarkedon this occasionwhen we concluded our business
that he should have been happy to have seen me at his house at
Norwood to celebrate our becoming connectedbut for his domestic
arrangements being in some disorderon account of the expected
return of his daughter from finishing her education at Paris. But
he intimated that when she came home he should hope to have the
pleasure of entertaining me. I knew that he was a widower with one
daughterand expressed my acknowledgements.

Mr. Spenlow was as good as his word. In a week or twohe referred
to this engagementand saidthat if I would do him the favour to
come down next Saturdayand stay till Mondayhe would be
extremely happy. Of course I said I would do him the favour; and
he was to drive me down in his phaetonand to bring me back.

When the day arrivedmy very carpet-bag was an object of
veneration to the stipendiary clerksto whom the house at Norwood
was a sacred mystery. One of them informed me that he had heard
that Mr. Spenlow ate entirely off plate and china; and another
hinted at champagne being constantly on draughtafter the usual
custom of table-beer. The old clerk with the wigwhose name was
Mr. Tiffeyhad been down on business several times in the course
of his careerand had on each occasion penetrated to the
breakfast-parlour. He described it as an apartment of the most
sumptuous natureand said that he had drunk brown East India
sherry thereof a quality so precious as to make a man wink. We
had an adjourned cause in the Consistory that day - about
excommunicating a baker who had been objecting in a vestry to a
paving-rate - and as the evidence was just twice the length of
Robinson Crusoeaccording to a calculation I madeit was rather
late in the day before we finished. Howeverwe got him
excommunicated for six weeksand sentenced in no end of costs; and
then the baker's proctorand the judgeand the advocates on both
sides (who were all nearly related)went out of town togetherand
Mr. Spenlow and I drove away in the phaeton.

The phaeton was a very handsome affair; the horses arched their
necks and lifted up their legs as if they knew they belonged to
Doctors' Commons. There was a good deal of competition in the
Commons on all points of displayand it turned out some very
choice equipages then; though I always have consideredand always
shall considerthat in my time the great article of competition
there was starch: which I think was worn among the proctors to as
great an extent as it is in the nature of man to bear.

We were very pleasantgoing downand Mr. Spenlow gave me some
hints in reference to my profession. He said it was the genteelest


profession in the worldand must on no account be confounded with
the profession of a solicitor: being quite another sort of thing
infinitely more exclusiveless mechanicaland more profitable.
We took things much more easily in the Commons than they could be
taken anywhere elsehe observedand that set usas a privileged
classapart. He said it was impossible to conceal the
disagreeable factthat we were chiefly employed by solicitors; but
he gave me to understand that they were an inferior race of men
universally looked down upon by all proctors of any pretensions.

I asked Mr. Spenlow what he considered the best sort of
professional business? He repliedthat a good case of a disputed
willwhere there was a neat little estate of thirty or forty
thousand poundswasperhapsthe best of all. In such a casehe
saidnot only were there very pretty pickingsin the way of
arguments at every stage of the proceedingsand mountains upon
mountains of evidence on interrogatory and counter-interrogatory
(to say nothing of an appeal lyingfirst to the Delegatesand
then to the Lords)butthe costs being pretty sure to come out of
the estate at lastboth sides went at it in a lively and spirited
mannerand expense was no consideration. Thenhe launched into
a general eulogium on the Commons. What was to be particularly
admired (he said) in the Commonswas its compactness. It was the
most conveniently organized place in the world. It was the
complete idea of snugness. It lay in a nutshell. For example: You
brought a divorce caseor a restitution caseinto the Consistory.
Very good. You tried it in the Consistory. You made a quiet
little round game of itamong a family groupand you played it
out at leisure. Suppose you were not satisfied with the
Consistorywhat did you do then? Whyyou went into the Arches.
What was the Arches? The same courtin the same roomwith the
same barand the same practitionersbut another judgefor there
the Consistory judge could plead any court-day as an advocate.
Wellyou played your round game out again. Still you were not
satisfied. Very good. What did you do then? Whyyou went to the
Delegates. Who were the Delegates? Whythe Ecclesiastical
Delegates were the advocates without any businesswho had looked
on at the round game when it was playing in both courtsand had
seen the cards shuffledand cutand playedand had talked to all
the players about itand now came freshas judgesto settle the
matter to the satisfaction of everybody! Discontented people might
talk of corruption in the Commonscloseness in the Commonsand
the necessity of reforming the Commonssaid Mr. Spenlow solemnly
in conclusion; but when the price of wheat per bushel had been
highestthe Commons had been busiest; and a man might lay his hand
upon his heartand say this to the whole world- 'Touch the
Commonsand down comes the country!'

I listened to all this with attention; and thoughI must sayI
had my doubts whether the country was quite as much obliged to the
Commons as Mr. Spenlow made outI respectfully deferred to his
opinion. That about the price of wheat per bushelI modestly felt
was too much for my strengthand quite settled the question. I
have neverto this hourgot the better of that bushel of wheat.
It has reappeared to annihilate meall through my lifein
connexion with all kinds of subjects. I don't know nowexactly
what it has to do with meor what right it has to crush meon an
infinite variety of occasions; but whenever I see my old friend the
bushel brought in by the head and shoulders (as he always isI
observe)I give up a subject for lost.

This is a digression. I was not the man to touch the Commonsand
bring down the country. I submissively expressedby my silence
my acquiescence in all I had heard from my superior in years and


knowledge; and we talked about The Stranger and the Dramaand the
pairs of horsesuntil we came to Mr. Spenlow's gate.

There was a lovely garden to Mr. Spenlow's house; and though that
was not the best time of the year for seeing a gardenit was so
beautifully keptthat I was quite enchanted. There was a charming
lawnthere were clusters of treesand there were perspective
walks that I could just distinguish in the darkarched over with
trellis-workon which shrubs and flowers grew in the growing
season. 'Here Miss Spenlow walks by herself' I thought. 'Dear
me!'

We went into the housewhich was cheerfully lighted upand into
a hall where there were all sorts of hatscapsgreat-coats
plaidsgloveswhipsand walking-sticks. 'Where is Miss Dora?'
said Mr. Spenlow to the servant. 'Dora!' I thought. 'What a
beautiful name!'

We turned into a room near at hand (I think it was the identical
breakfast-roommade memorable by the brown East Indian sherry)
and I heard a voice say'Mr. Copperfieldmy daughter Doraand my
daughter Dora's confidential friend!' It wasno doubtMr.
Spenlow's voicebut I didn't know itand I didn't care whose it
was. All was over in a moment. I had fulfilled my destiny. I was
a captive and a slave. I loved Dora Spenlow to distraction!

She was more than human to me. She was a Fairya SylphI don't
know what she was - anything that no one ever sawand everything
that everybody ever wanted. I was swallowed up in an abyss of love
in an instant. There was no pausing on the brink; no looking down
or looking back; I was goneheadlongbefore I had sense to say a
word to her.

'I' observed a well-remembered voicewhen I had bowed and
murmured something'have seen Mr. Copperfield before.'

The speaker was not Dora. No; the confidential friendMiss
Murdstone!

I don't think I was much astonished. To the best of my judgement
no capacity of astonishment was left in me. There was nothing
worth mentioning in the material worldbut Dora Spenlowto be
astonished about. I said'How do you doMiss Murdstone? I hope
you are well.' She answered'Very well.' I said'How is Mr.
Murdstone?' She replied'My brother is robustI am obliged to
you.'

Mr. SpenlowwhoI supposehad been surprised to see us recognize
each otherthen put in his word.

'I am glad to find' he said'Copperfieldthat you and Miss
Murdstone are already acquainted.'

'Mr. Copperfield and myself' said Miss Murdstonewith severe
composure'are connexions. We were once slightly acquainted. It
was in his childish days. Circumstances have separated us since.
I should not have known him.'

I replied that I should have known heranywhere. Which was true
enough.

'Miss Murdstone has had the goodness' said Mr. Spenlow to me'to
accept the office - if I may so describe it - of my daughter Dora's
confidential friend. My daughter Dora havingunhappilyno


motherMiss Murdstone is obliging enough to become her companion
and protector.'

A passing thought occurred to me that Miss Murdstonelike the
pocket instrument called a life-preserverwas not so much designed
for purposes of protection as of assault. But as I had none but
passing thoughts for any subject save DoraI glanced at her
directly afterwardsand was thinking that I sawin her prettily
pettish mannerthat she was not very much inclined to be
particularly confidential to her companion and protectorwhen a
bell rangwhich Mr. Spenlow said was the first dinner-belland so
carried me off to dress.

The idea of dressing one's selfor doing anything in the way of
actionin that state of lovewas a little too ridiculous. I
could only sit down before my firebiting the key of my
carpet-bagand think of the captivatinggirlishbright-eyed
lovely Dora. What a form she hadwhat a face she hadwhat a
gracefulvariableenchanting manner!

The bell rang again so soon that I made a mere scramble of my
dressinginstead of the careful operation I could have wished
under the circumstancesand went downstairs. There was some
company. Dora was talking to an old gentleman with a grey head.
Grey as he was - and a great-grandfather into the bargainfor he
said so - I was madly jealous of him.

What a state of mind I was in! I was jealous of everybody. I
couldn't bear the idea of anybody knowing Mr. Spenlow better than
I did. It was torturing to me to hear them talk of occurrences in
which I had had no share. When a most amiable personwith a
highly polished bald headasked me across the dinner tableif
that were the first occasion of my seeing the groundsI could have
done anything to him that was savage and revengeful.

I don't remember who was thereexcept Dora. I have not the least
idea what we had for dinnerbesides Dora. My impression isthat
I dined off Doraentirelyand sent away half-a-dozen plates
untouched. I sat next to her. I talked to her. She had the most
delightful little voicethe gayest little laughthe pleasantest
and most fascinating little waysthat ever led a lost youth into
hopeless slavery. She was rather diminutive altogether. So much
the more preciousI thought.

When she went out of the room with Miss Murdstone (no other ladies
were of the party)I fell into a reverieonly disturbed by the
cruel apprehension that Miss Murdstone would disparage me to her.
The amiable creature with the polished head told me a long story
which I think was about gardening. I think I heard him say'my
gardener'several times. I seemed to pay the deepest attention to
himbut I was wandering in a garden of Eden all the whilewith
Dora.

My apprehensions of being disparaged to the object of my engrossing
affection were revived when we went into the drawing-roomby the
grim and distant aspect of Miss Murdstone. But I was relieved of
them in an unexpected manner.

'David Copperfield' said Miss Murdstonebeckoning me aside into
a window. 'A word.'

I confronted Miss Murdstone alone.

'David Copperfield' said Miss Murdstone'I need not enlarge upon


family circumstances. They are not a tempting subject.'
'Far from itma'am' I returned.

'Far from it' assented Miss Murdstone. 'I do not wish to revive
the memory of past differencesor of past outrages. I have
received outrages from a person - a female I am sorry to sayfor
the credit of my sex - who is not to be mentioned without scorn and
disgust; and therefore I would rather not mention her.'

I felt very fiery on my aunt's account; but I said it would
certainly be betterif Miss Murdstone pleasednot to mention her.
I could not hear her disrespectfully mentionedI addedwithout
expressing my opinion in a decided tone.

Miss Murdstone shut her eyesand disdainfully inclined her head;
thenslowly opening her eyesresumed:

'David CopperfieldI shall not attempt to disguise the factthat
I formed an unfavourable opinion of you in your childhood. It may
have been a mistaken oneor you may have ceased to justify it.
That is not in question between us now. I belong to a family
remarkableI believefor some firmness; and I am not the creature
of circumstance or change. I may have my opinion of you. You may
have your opinion of me.'

I inclined my headin my turn.

'But it is not necessary' said Miss Murdstone'that these
opinions should come into collision here. Under existing
circumstancesit is as well on all accounts that they should not.
As the chances of life have brought us together againand may
bring us together on other occasionsI would saylet us meet here
as distant acquaintances. Family circumstances are a sufficient
reason for our only meeting on that footingand it is quite
unnecessary that either of us should make the other the subject of
remark. Do you approve of this?'

'Miss Murdstone' I returned'I think you and Mr. Murdstone used
me very cruellyand treated my mother with great unkindness. I
shall always think soas long as I live. But I quite agree in
what you propose.'

Miss Murdstone shut her eyes againand bent her head. Thenjust
touching the back of my hand with the tips of her coldstiff
fingersshe walked awayarranging the little fetters on her
wrists and round her neck; which seemed to be the same setin
exactly the same stateas when I had seen her last. These
reminded mein reference to Miss Murdstone's natureof the
fetters over a jail door; suggesting on the outsideto all
beholderswhat was to be expected within.

All I know of the rest of the evening isthat I heard the empress
of my heart sing enchanted ballads in the French language
generally to the effect thatwhatever was the matterwe ought
always to danceTa ra laTa ra la! accompanying herself on a
glorified instrumentresembling a guitar. That I was lost in
blissful delirium. That I refused refreshment. That my soul
recoiled from punch particularly. That when Miss Murdstone took
her into custody and led her awayshe smiled and gave me her
delicious hand. That I caught a view of myself in a mirror
looking perfectly imbecile and idiotic. That I retired to bed in
a most maudlin state of mindand got up in a crisis of feeble
infatuation.


It was a fine morningand earlyand I thought I would go and take
a stroll down one of those wire-arched walksand indulge my
passion by dwelling on her image. On my way through the hallI
encountered her little dogwho was called Jip - short for Gipsy.
I approached him tenderlyfor I loved even him; but he showed his
whole set of teethgot under a chair expressly to snarland
wouldn't hear of the least familiarity.

The garden was cool and solitary. I walked aboutwondering what
my feelings of happiness would beif I could ever become engaged
to this dear wonder. As to marriageand fortuneand all thatI
believe I was almost as innocently undesigning thenas when I
loved little Em'ly. To be allowed to call her 'Dora'to write to
herto dote upon and worship herto have reason to think that
when she was with other people she was yet mindful of meseemed to
me the summit of human ambition - I am sure it was the summit of
mine. There is no doubt whatever that I was a lackadaisical young
spooney; but there was a purity of heart in all thisthat prevents
my having quite a contemptuous recollection of itlet me laugh as
I may.

I had not been walking longwhen I turned a cornerand met her.
I tingle again from head to foot as my recollection turns that
cornerand my pen shakes in my hand.

'You - are - out earlyMiss Spenlow' said I.

'It's so stupid at home' she replied'and Miss Murdstone is so
absurd! She talks such nonsense about its being necessary for the
day to be airedbefore I come out. Aired!' (She laughedherein
the most melodious manner.) 'On a Sunday morningwhen I don't
practiseI must do something. So I told papa last night I must
come out. Besidesit's the brightest time of the whole day.
Don't you think so?'

I hazarded a bold flightand said (not without stammering) that it
was very bright to me thenthough it had been very dark to me a
minute before.

'Do you mean a compliment?' said Dora'or that the weather has
really changed?'

I stammered worse than beforein replying that I meant no
complimentbut the plain truth; though I was not aware of any
change having taken place in the weather. It was in the state of
my own feelingsI added bashfully: to clench the explanation.

I never saw such curls - how could Ifor there never were such
curls! - as those she shook out to hide her blushes. As to the
straw hat and blue ribbons which was on the top of the curlsif I
could only have hung it up in my room in Buckingham Streetwhat a
priceless possession it would have been!

'You have just come home from Paris' said I.

'Yes' said she. 'Have you ever been there?'

'No.'

'Oh! I hope you'll go soon! You would like it so much!'

Traces of deep-seated anguish appeared in my countenance. That she
should hope I would gothat she should think it possible I could
gowas insupportable. I depreciated Paris; I depreciated France.


I said I wouldn't leave Englandunder existing circumstancesfor
any earthly consideration. Nothing should induce me. In short
she was shaking the curls againwhen the little dog came running
along the walk to our relief.

He was mortally jealous of meand persisted in barking at me. She
took him up in her arms - oh my goodness! - and caressed himbut
he persisted upon barking still. He wouldn't let me touch him
when I tried; and then she beat him. It increased my sufferings
greatly to see the pats she gave him for punishment on the bridge
of his blunt nosewhile he winked his eyesand licked her hand
and still growled within himself like a little double-bass. At
length he was quiet - well he might be with her dimpled chin upon
his head! - and we walked away to look at a greenhouse.

'You are not very intimate with Miss Murdstoneare you?' said
Dora. -'My pet.'

(The two last words were to the dog. Ohif they had only been to
me!)

'No' I replied. 'Not at all so.'

'She is a tiresome creature' said Dorapouting. 'I can't think
what papa can have been aboutwhen he chose such a vexatious thing
to be my companion. Who wants a protector? I am sure I don't want
a protector. Jip can protect me a great deal better than Miss
Murdstone- can't youJipdear?'

He only winked lazilywhen she kissed his ball of a head.

'Papa calls her my confidential friendbut I am sure she is no
such thing - is sheJip? We are not going to confide in any such
cross peopleJip and I. We mean to bestow our confidence where we
likeand to find out our own friendsinstead of having them found
out for us - don't weJip?'

jip made a comfortable noisein answera little like a tea-kettle
when it sings. As for meevery word was a new heap of fetters
riveted above the last.

'It is very hardbecause we have not a kind Mamathat we are to
haveinsteada sulkygloomy old thing like Miss Murdstone
always following us about - isn't itJip? Never mindJip. We
won't be confidentialand we'll make ourselves as happy as we can
in spite of herand we'll tease herand not please her - won't
weJip?'

If it had lasted any longerI think I must have gone down on my
knees on the gravelwith the probability before me of grazing
themand of being presently ejected from the premises besides.
Butby good fortune the greenhouse was not far offand these
words brought us to it.

It contained quite a show of beautiful geraniums. We loitered
along in front of themand Dora often stopped to admire this one
or that oneand I stopped to admire the same oneand Dora
laughingheld the dog up childishlyto smell the flowers; and if
we were not all three in Fairylandcertainly I was. The scent of
a geranium leafat this daystrikes me with a half comical half
serious wonder as to what change has come over me in a moment; and
then I see a straw hat and blue ribbonsand a quantity of curls
and a little black dog being held upin two slender armsagainst
a bank of blossoms and bright leaves.


Miss Murdstone had been looking for us. She found us here; and
presented her uncongenial cheekthe little wrinkles in it filled
with hair powderto Dora to be kissed. Then she took Dora's arm
in hersand marched us into breakfast as if it were a soldier's
funeral.

How many cups of tea I drankbecause Dora made itI don't know.
ButI perfectly remember that I sat swilling tea until my whole
nervous systemif I had had any in those daysmust have gone by
the board. By and by we went to church. Miss Murdstone was
between Dora and me in the pew; but I heard her singand the
congregation vanished. A sermon was delivered - about Doraof
course - and I am afraid that is all I know of the service.

We had a quiet day. No companya walka family dinner of four
and an evening of looking over books and pictures; Miss Murdstone
with a homily before herand her eye upon uskeeping guard
vigilantly. Ah! little did Mr. Spenlow imaginewhen he sat
opposite to me after dinner that daywith his pocket-handkerchief
over his headhow fervently I was embracing himin my fancyas
his son-in-law! Little did he thinkwhen I took leave of him at
nightthat he had just given his full consent to my being engaged
to Doraand that I was invoking blessings on his head!

We departed early in the morningfor we had a Salvage case coming
on in the Admiralty Courtrequiring a rather accurate knowledge of
the whole science of navigationin which (as we couldn't be
expected to know much about those matters in the Commons) the judge
had entreated two old Trinity Mastersfor charity's saketo come
and help him out. Dora was at the breakfast-table to make the tea
againhowever; and I had the melancholy pleasure of taking off my
hat to her in the phaetonas she stood on the door-step with Jip
in her arms.

What the Admiralty was to me that day; what nonsense I made of our
case in my mindas I listened to it; how I saw 'DORA' engraved
upon the blade of the silver oar which they lay upon the tableas
the emblem of that high jurisdiction; and how I felt when Mr.
Spenlow went home without me (I had had an insane hope that he
might take me back again)as if I were a mariner myselfand the
ship to which I belonged had sailed away and left me on a desert
island; I shall make no fruitless effort to describe. If that
sleepy old court could rouse itselfand present in any visible
form the daydreams I have had in it about Dorait would reveal my
truth.

I don't mean the dreams that I dreamed on that day alonebut day
after dayfrom week to weekand term to term. I went therenot
to attend to what was going onbut to think about Dora. If ever
I bestowed a thought upon the casesas they dragged their slow
length before meit was only to wonderin the matrimonial cases
(remembering Dora)how it was that married people could ever be
otherwise than happy; andin the Prerogative casesto consider
if the money in question had been left to mewhat were the
foremost steps I should immediately have taken in regard to Dora.
Within the first week of my passionI bought four sumptuous
waistcoats - not for myself; I had no pride in them; for Dora - and
took to wearing straw-coloured kid gloves in the streetsand laid
the foundations of all the corns I have ever had. If the boots I
wore at that period could only be produced and compared with the
natural size of my feetthey would show what the state of my heart
wasin a most affecting manner.


And yetwretched cripple as I made myself by this act of homage to
DoraI walked miles upon miles daily in the hope of seeing her.
Not only was I soon as well known on the Norwood Road as the
postmen on that beatbut I pervaded London likewise. I walked
about the streets where the best shops for ladies wereI haunted
the Bazaar like an unquiet spiritI fagged through the Park again
and againlong after I was quite knocked up. Sometimesat long
intervals and on rare occasionsI saw her. Perhaps I saw her
glove waved in a carriage window; perhaps I met herwalked with
her and Miss Murdstone a little wayand spoke to her. In the
latter case I was always very miserable afterwardsto think that
I had said nothing to the purpose; or that she had no idea of the
extent of my devotionor that she cared nothing about me. I was
always looking outas may be supposedfor another invitation to
Mr. Spenlow's house. I was always being disappointedfor I got
none.

Mrs. Crupp must have been a woman of penetration; for when this
attachment was but a few weeks oldand I had not had the courage
to write more explicitly even to Agnesthan that I had been to Mr.
Spenlow's house'whose family' I added'consists of one
daughter'; - I say Mrs. Crupp must have been a woman of
penetrationforeven in that early stageshe found it out. She
came up to me one eveningwhen I was very lowto ask (she being
then afflicted with the disorder I have mentioned) if I could
oblige her with a little tincture of cardamums mixed with rhubarb
and flavoured with seven drops of the essence of cloveswhich was
the best remedy for her complaint; - orif I had not such a thing
by mewith a little brandywhich was the next best. It was not
she remarkedso palatable to herbut it was the next best. As I
had never even heard of the first remedyand always had the second
in the closetI gave Mrs. Crupp a glass of the secondwhich (that
I might have no suspicion of its being devoted to any improper use)
she began to take in my presence.

'Cheer upsir' said Mrs. Crupp. 'I can't abear to see you so
sir: I'm a mother myself.'

I did not quite perceive the application of this fact to myself
but I smiled on Mrs. Cruppas benignly as was in my power.

'Comesir' said Mrs. Crupp. 'Excuse me. I know what it issir.
There's a lady in the case.'

'Mrs. Crupp?' I returnedreddening.

'Ohbless you! Keep a good heartsir!' said Mrs. Cruppnodding
encouragement. 'Never say diesir! If She don't smile upon you
there's a many as will. You are a young gentleman to be smiled on
Mr. Copperfulland you must learn your waluesir.'

Mrs. Crupp always called me Mr. Copperfull: firstlyno doubt
because it was not my name; and secondlyI am inclined to think
in some indistinct association with a washing-day.

'What makes you suppose there is any young lady in the caseMrs.
Crupp?' said I.

'Mr. Copperfull' said Mrs. Cruppwith a great deal of feeling
'I'm a mother myself.'

For some time Mrs. Crupp could only lay her hand upon her nankeen
bosomand fortify herself against returning pain with sips of her
medicine. At length she spoke again.


'When the present set were took for you by your dear auntMr.
Copperfull' said Mrs. Crupp'my remark wereI had now found
summun I could care for. "Thank Ev'in!" were the expressionI
have now found summun I can care for!- You don't eat enoughsir
nor yet drink.'

'Is that what you found your supposition onMrs. Crupp?' said I.

'Sir' said Mrs. Cruppin a tone approaching to severity'I've
laundressed other young gentlemen besides yourself. A young
gentleman may be over-careful of himselfor he may be
under-careful of himself. He may brush his hair too regularor
too un-regular. He may wear his boots much too large for himor
much too small. That is according as the young gentleman has his
original character formed. But let him go to which extreme he may
sirthere's a young lady in both of 'em.'

Mrs. Crupp shook her head in such a determined mannerthat I had
not an inch of vantage-ground left.

'It was but the gentleman which died here before yourself' said
Mrs. Crupp'that fell in love - with a barmaid - and had his
waistcoats took in directlythough much swelled by drinking.'

'Mrs. Crupp' said I'I must beg you not to connect the young lady
in my case with a barmaidor anything of that sortif you
please.'

'Mr. Copperfull' returned Mrs. Crupp'I'm a mother myselfand
not likely. I ask your pardonsirif I intrude. I should never
wish to intrude where I were not welcome. But you are a young
gentlemanMr. Copperfulland my adwice to you isto cheer up
sirto keep a good heartand to know your own walue. If you was
to take to somethingsir' said Mrs. Crupp'if you was to take to
skittlesnowwhich is healthyyou might find it divert your
mindand do you good.'

With these wordsMrs. Cruppaffecting to be very careful of the
brandy - which was all gone - thanked me with a majestic curtsey
and retired. As her figure disappeared into the gloom of the
entrythis counsel certainly presented itself to my mind in the
light of a slight liberty on Mrs. Crupp's part; butat the same
timeI was content to receive itin another point of viewas a
word to the wiseand a warning in future to keep my secret better.

CHAPTER 27
TOMMY TRADDLES

It may have been in consequence of Mrs. Crupp's adviceand
perhapsfor no better reason than because there was a certain
similarity in the sound of the word skittles and Traddlesthat it
came into my headnext dayto go and look after Traddles. The
time he had mentioned was more than outand he lived in a little
street near the Veterinary College at Camden Townwhich was
principally tenantedas one of our clerks who lived in that
direction informed meby gentlemen studentswho bought live
donkeysand made experiments on those quadrupeds in their private
apartments. Having obtained from this clerk a direction to the
academic grove in questionI set outthe same afternoonto visit
my old schoolfellow.


I found that the street was not as desirable a one as I could have
wished it to befor the sake of Traddles. The inhabitants
appeared to have a propensity to throw any little trifles they were
not in want ofinto the road: which not only made it rank and
sloppybut untidy tooon account of the cabbage-leaves. The
refuse was not wholly vegetable eitherfor I myself saw a shoea
doubled-up saucepana black bonnetand an umbrellain various
stages of decompositionas I was looking out for the number I
wanted.


The general air of the place reminded me forcibly of the days when
I lived with Mr. and Mrs. Micawber. An indescribable character of
faded gentility that attached to the house I soughtand made it
unlike all the other houses in the street - though they were all
built on one monotonous patternand looked like the early copies
of a blundering boy who was learning to make housesand had not
yet got out of his cramped brick-and-mortar pothooks - reminded me
still more of Mr. and Mrs. Micawber. Happening to arrive at the
door as it was opened to the afternoon milkmanI was reminded of
Mr. and Mrs. Micawber more forcibly yet.


'Now' said the milkman to a very youthful servant girl. 'Has that
there little bill of mine been heerd on?'


'Ohmaster says he'll attend to it immediate' was the reply.


'Because' said the milkmangoing on as if he had received no
answerand speakingas I judged from his tonerather for the
edification of somebody within the housethan of the youthful
servant - an impression which was strengthened by his manner of
glaring down the passage - 'because that there little bill has been
running so longthat I begin to believe it's run away altogether
and never won't be heerd of. NowI'm not a going to stand ityou
know!' said the milkmanstill throwing his voice into the house
and glaring down the passage.


As to his dealing in the mild article of milkby the bythere
never was a greater anomaly. His deportment would have been fierce
in a butcher or a brandy-merchant.


The voice of the youthful servant became faintbut she seemed to
mefrom the action of her lipsagain to murmur that it would be
attended to immediate.


'I tell you what' said the milkmanlooking hard at her for the
first timeand taking her by the chin'are you fond of milk?'


'YesI likes it' she replied.
'Good' said the milkman. 'Then you won't have none tomorrow.
D'ye hear? Not a fragment of milk you won't have tomorrow.'


I thought she seemedupon the wholerelieved by the prospect of
having any today. The milkmanafter shaking his head at her
darklyreleased her chinand with anything rather than good-will
opened his canand deposited the usual quantity in the family jug.
This donehe went awaymutteringand uttered the cry of his
trade next doorin a vindictive shriek.


'Does Mr. Traddles live here?' I then inquired.


A mysterious voice from the end of the passage replied 'Yes.' Upon
which the youthful servant replied 'Yes.'



'Is he at home?' said I.

Again the mysterious voice replied in the affirmativeand again
the servant echoed it. Upon thisI walked inand in pursuance of
the servant's directions walked upstairs; consciousas I passed
the back parlour-doorthat I was surveyed by a mysterious eye
probably belonging to the mysterious voice.

When I got to the top of the stairs - the house was only a story
high above the ground floor - Traddles was on the landing to meet
me. He was delighted to see meand gave me welcomewith great
heartinessto his little room. It was in the front of the house
and extremely neatthough sparely furnished. It was his only
roomI saw; for there was a sofa-bedstead in itand his
blacking-brushes and blacking were among his books - on the top
shelfbehind a dictionary. His table was covered with papersand
he was hard at work in an old coat. I looked at nothingthat I
know ofbut I saw everythingeven to the prospect of a church
upon his china inkstandas I sat down - and thistoowas a
faculty confirmed in me in the old Micawber times. Various
ingenious arrangements he had madefor the disguise of his chest
of drawersand the accommodation of his bootshis shaving-glass
and so forthparticularly impressed themselves upon meas
evidences of the same Traddles who used to make models of
elephants' dens in writing-paper to put flies in; and to comfort
himself under ill usagewith the memorable works of art I have so
often mentioned.

In a corner of the room was something neatly covered up with a
large white cloth. I could not make out what that was.

'Traddles' said Ishaking hands with him againafter I had sat
down'I am delighted to see you.'

'I am delighted to see YOUCopperfield' he returned. 'I am very
glad indeed to see you. It was because I was thoroughly glad to
see you when we met in Ely Placeand was sure you were thoroughly
glad to see methat I gave you this address instead of my address
at chambers.'
'Oh! You have chambers?' said I.

'WhyI have the fourth of a room and a passageand the fourth of
a clerk' returned Traddles. 'Three others and myself unite to
have a set of chambers - to look business-like - and we quarter the
clerk too. Half-a-crown a week he costs me.'

His old simple character and good temperand something of his old
unlucky fortune alsoI thoughtsmiled at me in the smile with
which he made this explanation.

'It's not because I have the least prideCopperfieldyou
understand' said Traddles'that I don't usually give my address
here. It's only on account of those who come to mewho might not
like to come here. For myselfI am fighting my way on in the
world against difficultiesand it would be ridiculous if I made a
pretence of doing anything else.'

'You are reading for the barMr. Waterbrook informed me?' said I.

'Whyyes' said Traddlesrubbing his hands slowly over one
another. 'I am reading for the bar. The fact isI have just
begun to keep my termsafter rather a long delay. It's some time
since I was articledbut the payment of that hundred pounds was a
great pull. A great pull!' said Traddleswith a winceas if he


had had a tooth out.

'Do you know what I can't help thinking ofTraddlesas I sit here
looking at you?' I asked him.

'No' said he.

'That sky-blue suit you used to wear.'

'Lordto be sure!' cried Traddleslaughing. 'Tight in the arms
and legsyou know? Dear me! Well! Those were happy times
weren't they?'

'I think our schoolmaster might have made them happierwithout
doing any harm to any of usI acknowledge' I returned.

'Perhaps he might' said Traddles. 'But dear methere was a good
deal of fun going on. Do you remember the nights in the bedroom?
When we used to have the suppers? And when you used to tell the
stories? Hahaha! And do you remember when I got caned for
crying about Mr. Mell? Old Creakle! I should like to see him
againtoo!'

'He was a brute to youTraddles' said Iindignantly; for his
good humour made me feel as if I had seen him beaten but yesterday.

'Do you think so?' returned Traddles. 'Really? Perhaps he was
rather. But it's all overa long while. Old Creakle!'

'You were brought up by an unclethen?' said I.

'Of course I was!' said Traddles. 'The one I was always going to
write to. And always didn'teh! Hahaha! YesI had an uncle
then. He died soon after I left school.'

'Indeed!'

'Yes. He was a retired - what do you call it! - draper cloth-
merchant - and had made me his heir. But he didn't like me
when I grew up.'

'Do you really mean that?' said I. He was so composedthat I
fancied he must have some other meaning.

'Oh dearyesCopperfield! I mean it' replied Traddles. 'It was
an unfortunate thingbut he didn't like me at all. He said I
wasn't at all what he expectedand so he married his housekeeper.'

'And what did you do?' I asked.

'I didn't do anything in particular' said Traddles. 'I lived with
themwaiting to be put out in the worlduntil his gout
unfortunately flew to his stomach - and so he diedand so she
married a young manand so I wasn't provided for.'

'Did you get nothingTraddlesafter all?'

'Oh dearyes!' said Traddles. 'I got fifty pounds. I had never
been brought up to any professionand at first I was at a loss
what to do for myself. HoweverI beganwith the assistance of
the son of a professional manwho had been to Salem House -
Yawlerwith his nose on one side. Do you recollect him?'

No. He had not been there with me; all the noses were straight in


my day.

'It don't matter' said Traddles. 'I beganby means of his
assistanceto copy law writings. That didn't answer very well;
and then I began to state cases for themand make abstractsand
that sort of work. For I am a plodding kind of fellow
Copperfieldand had learnt the way of doing such things pithily.
Well! That put it in my head to enter myself as a law student; and
that ran away with all that was left of the fifty pounds. Yawler
recommended me to one or two other officeshowever - Mr.
Waterbrook's for one - and I got a good many jobs. I was fortunate
enoughtooto become acquainted with a person in the publishing
waywho was getting up an Encyclopaediaand he set me to work;
andindeed' (glancing at his table)'I am at work for him at this
minute. I am not a bad compilerCopperfield' said Traddles
preserving the same air of cheerful confidence in all he said'but
I have no invention at all; not a particle. I suppose there never
was a young man with less originality than I have.'

As Traddles seemed to expect that I should assent to this as a
matter of courseI nodded; and he went onwith the same sprightly
patience - I can find no better expression - as before.

'Soby little and littleand not living highI managed to scrape
up the hundred pounds at last' said Traddles; 'and thank Heaven
that's paid - though it was - though it certainly was' said
Traddleswincing again as if he had had another tooth out'a
pull. I am living by the sort of work I have mentionedstilland
I hopeone of these daysto get connected with some newspaper:
which would almost be the making of my fortune. NowCopperfield
you are so exactly what you used to bewith that agreeable face
and it's so pleasant to see youthat I sha'n't conceal anything.
Therefore you must know that I am engaged.'

Engaged! OhDora!

'She is a curate's daughter' said Traddles; 'one of tendown in
Devonshire. Yes!' For he saw me glanceinvoluntarilyat the
prospect on the inkstand. 'That's the church! You come round here
to the leftout of this gate' tracing his finger along the
inkstand'and exactly where I hold this penthere stands the
house - facingyou understandtowards the church.'

The delight with which he entered into these particularsdid not
fully present itself to me until afterwards; for my selfish
thoughts were making a ground-plan of Mr. Spenlow's house and
garden at the same moment.

'She is such a dear girl!' said Traddles; 'a little older than me
but the dearest girl! I told you I was going out of town? I have
been down there. I walked thereand I walked backand I had the
most delightful time! I dare say ours is likely to be a rather
long engagementbut our motto is "Wait and hope!" We always say
that. "Wait and hope we always say. And she would wait,
Copperfield, till she was sixty - any age you can mention - for
me!'

Traddles rose from his chair, and, with a triumphant smile, put his
hand upon the white cloth I had observed.

'However,' he said, 'it's not that we haven't made a beginning
towards housekeeping. No, no; we have begun. We must get on by
degrees, but we have begun. Here,' drawing the cloth off with
great pride and care, 'are two pieces of furniture to commence


with. This flower-pot and stand, she bought herself. You put that
in a parlour window,' said Traddles, falling a little back from it
to survey it with the greater admiration, 'with a plant in it, and

-and there you are! This little round table with the marble top
(it's two feet ten in circumference), I bought. You want to lay a
book down, you know, or somebody comes to see you or your wife, and
wants a place to stand a cup of tea upon, and - and there you are
again!' said Traddles. 'It's an admirable piece of workmanship firm
as a rock!'
I praised them both, highly, and Traddles replaced the covering as
carefully as he had removed it.
'It's not a great deal towards the furnishing,' said Traddles, 'but
it's something. The table-cloths, and pillow-cases, and articles
of that kind, are what discourage me most, Copperfield. So does
the ironmongery - candle-boxes, and gridirons, and that sort of
necessaries - because those things tell, and mount up. However,
wait

and hope!" And I assure you she's the dearest girl!'

'I am quite certain of it' said I.

'In the meantime' said Traddlescoming back to his chair; 'and
this is the end of my prosing about myselfI get on as well as I
can. I don't make muchbut I don't spend much. In generalI
board with the people downstairswho are very agreeable people
indeed. Both Mr. and Mrs. Micawber have seen a good deal of life
and are excellent company.'

'My dear Traddles!' I quickly exclaimed. 'What are you talking
about?'

Traddles looked at meas if he wondered what I was talking about.

'Mr. and Mrs. Micawber!' I repeated. 'WhyI am intimately
acquainted with them!'

An opportune double knock at the doorwhich I knew well from old
experience in Windsor Terraceand which nobody but Mr. Micawber
could ever have knocked at that doorresolved any doubt in my mind
as to their being my old friends. I begged Traddles to ask his
landlord to walk up. Traddles accordingly did soover the
banister; and Mr. Micawbernot a bit changed - his tightshis
stickhis shirt-collarand his eye-glassall the same as ever came
into the room with a genteel and youthful air.

'I beg your pardonMr. Traddles' said Mr. Micawberwith the old
roll in his voiceas he checked himself in humming a soft tune.
'I was not aware that there was any individualalien to this
tenementin your sanctum.'

Mr. Micawber slightly bowed to meand pulled up his shirt-collar.

'How do you doMr. Micawber?' said I.

'Sir' said Mr. Micawber'you are exceedingly obliging. I am in
statu quo.'

'And Mrs. Micawber?' I pursued.

'Sir' said Mr. Micawber'she is alsothank Godin statu quo.'

'And the childrenMr. Micawber?'


'Sir' said Mr. Micawber'I rejoice to reply that they are
likewisein the enjoyment of salubrity.'

All this timeMr. Micawber had not known me in the leastthough
he had stood face to face with me. But nowseeing me smilehe
examined my features with more attentionfell backcried'Is it
possible! Have I the pleasure of again beholding Copperfield!' and
shook me by both hands with the utmost fervour.

'Good HeavenMr. Traddles!' said Mr. Micawber'to think that I
should find you acquainted with the friend of my youththe
companion of earlier days! My dear!' calling over the banisters to
Mrs. Micawberwhile Traddles looked (with reason) not a little
amazed at this description of me. 'Here is a gentleman in Mr.
Traddles's apartmentwhom he wishes to have the pleasure of
presenting to youmy love!'

Mr. Micawber immediately reappearedand shook hands with me again.

'And how is our good friend the DoctorCopperfield?' said Mr.
Micawber'and all the circle at Canterbury?'

'I have none but good accounts of them' said I.

'I am most delighted to hear it' said Mr. Micawber. 'It was at
Canterbury where we last met. Within the shadowI may
figuratively sayof that religious edifice immortalized by
Chaucerwhich was anciently the resort of Pilgrims from the
remotest corners of - in short' said Mr. Micawber'in the
immediate neighbourhood of the Cathedral.'

I replied that it was. Mr. Micawber continued talking as volubly
as he could; but notI thoughtwithout showingby some marks of
concern in his countenancethat he was sensible of sounds in the
next roomas of Mrs. Micawber washing her handsand hurriedly
opening and shutting drawers that were uneasy in their action.

'You find usCopperfield' said Mr. Micawberwith one eye on
Traddles'at present establishedon what may be designated as a
small and unassuming scale; butyou are aware that I havein the
course of my careersurmounted difficultiesand conquered
obstacles. You are no stranger to the factthat there have been
periods of my lifewhen it has been requisite that I should pause
until certain expected events should turn up; when it has been
necessary that I should fall backbefore making what I trust I
shall not be accused of presumption in terming - a spring. The
present is one of those momentous stages in the life of man. You
find mefallen backFOR a spring; and I have every reason to
believe that a vigorous leap will shortly be the result.'

I was expressing my satisfactionwhen Mrs. Micawber came in; a
little more slatternly than she used to beor so she seemed now
to my unaccustomed eyesbut still with some preparation of herself
for companyand with a pair of brown gloves on.

'My dear' said Mr. Micawberleading her towards me'here is a
gentleman of the name of Copperfieldwho wishes to renew his
acquaintance with you.'

It would have been betteras it turned outto have led gently up
to this announcementfor Mrs. Micawberbeing in a delicate state
of healthwas overcome by itand was taken so unwellthat Mr.
Micawber was obligedin great trepidationto run down to the


water-butt in the backyardand draw a basinful to lave her brow
with. She presently revivedhoweverand was really pleased to
see me. We had half-an-hour's talkall together; and I asked her
about the twinswhoshe saidwere 'grown great creatures'; and
after Master and Miss Micawberwhom she described as 'absolute
giants'but they were not produced on that occasion.

Mr. Micawber was very anxious that I should stay to dinner.

I
should not have been averse to do sobut that I imagined I
detected troubleand calculation relative to the extent of the
cold meatin Mrs. Micawber's eye. I therefore pleaded another
engagement; and observing that Mrs. Micawber's spirits were
immediately lightenedI resisted all persuasion to forego it.

But I told Traddlesand Mr. and Mrs. Micawberthat before I could
think of leavingthey must appoint a day when they would come and
dine with me. The occupations to which Traddles stood pledged
rendered it necessary to fix a somewhat distant one; but an
appointment was made for the purposethat suited us alland then
I took my leave.

Mr. Micawberunder pretence of showing me a nearer way than that
by which I had comeaccompanied me to the corner of the street;
being anxious (he explained to me) to say a few words to an old
friendin confidence.

'My dear Copperfield' said Mr. Micawber'I need hardly tell you
that to have beneath our roofunder existing circumstancesa mind
like that which gleams - if I may be allowed the expression - which
gleams - in your friend Traddlesis an unspeakable comfort. With
a washerwomanwho exposes hard-bake for sale in her
parlour-windowdwelling next doorand a Bow-street officer
residing over the wayyou may imagine that his society is a source
of consolation to myself and to Mrs. Micawber. I am at presentmy
dear Copperfieldengaged in the sale of corn upon commission. It
is not an avocation of a remunerative description - in other words
it does not pay - and some temporary embarrassments of a pecuniary
nature have been the consequence. I amhoweverdelighted to add
that I have now an immediate prospect of something turning up (I am
not at liberty to say in what direction)which I trust will enable
me to providepermanentlyboth for myself and for your friend
Traddlesin whom I have an unaffected interest. You mayperhaps
be prepared to hear that Mrs. Micawber is in a state of health
which renders it not wholly improbable that an addition may be
ultimately made to those pledges of affection which - in shortto
the infantine group. Mrs. Micawber's family have been so good as
to express their dissatisfaction at this state of things. I have
merely to observethat I am not aware that it is any business of
theirsand that I repel that exhibition of feeling with scornand
with defiance!'

Mr. Micawber then shook hands with me againand left me.

CHAPTER 28
Mr. MICAWBER'S GAUNTLET

Until the day arrived on which I was to entertain my newly-found
old friendsI lived principally on Dora and coffee. In my
love-lorn conditionmy appetite languished; and I was glad of it
for I felt as though it would have been an act of perfidy towards
Dora to have a natural relish for my dinner. The quantity of


walking exercise I tookwas not in this respect attended with its
usual consequenceas the disappointment counteracted the fresh
air. I have my doubtstoofounded on the acute experience
acquired at this period of my lifewhether a sound enjoyment of
animal food can develop itself freely in any human subject who is
always in torment from tight boots. I think the extremities
require to be at peace before the stomach will conduct itself with
vigour.

On the occasion of this domestic little partyI did not repeat my
former extensive preparations. I merely provided a pair of soles
a small leg of muttonand a pigeon-pie. Mrs. Crupp broke out into
rebellion on my first bashful hint in reference to the cooking of
the fish and jointand saidwith a dignified sense of injury
'No! Nosir! You will not ask me sich a thingfor you are
better acquainted with me than to suppose me capable of doing what
I cannot do with ampial satisfaction to my own feelings!' Butin
the enda compromise was effected; and Mrs. Crupp consented to
achieve this featon condition that I dined from home for a
fortnight afterwards.

And here I may remarkthat what I underwent from Mrs. Cruppin
consequence of the tyranny she established over mewas dreadful.
I never was so much afraid of anyone. We made a compromise of
everything. If I hesitatedshe was taken with that wonderful
disorder which was always lying in ambush in her systemreadyat
the shortest noticeto prey upon her vitals. If I rang the bell
impatientlyafter half-a-dozen unavailing modest pullsand she
appeared at last - which was not by any means to be relied upon she
would appear with a reproachful aspectsink breathless on a
chair near the doorlay her hand upon her nankeen bosomand
become so illthat I was gladat any sacrifice of brandy or
anything elseto get rid of her. If I objected to having my bed
made at five o'clock in the afternoon - which I do still think an
uncomfortable arrangement - one motion of her hand towards the same
nankeen region of wounded sensibility was enough to make me falter
an apology. In shortI would have done anything in an honourable
way rather than give Mrs. Crupp offence; and she was the terror of
my life.

I bought a second-hand dumb-waiter for this dinner-partyin
preference to re-engaging the handy young man; against whom I had
conceived a prejudicein consequence of meeting him in the Strand
one Sunday morningin a waistcoat remarkably like one of mine
which had been missing since the former occasion. The 'young gal'
was re-engaged; but on the stipulation that she should only bring
in the dishesand then withdraw to the landing-placebeyond the
outer door; where a habit of sniffing she had contracted would be
lost upon the guestsand where her retiring on the plates would be
a physical impossibility.

Having laid in the materials for a bowl of punchto be compounded
by Mr. Micawber; having provided a bottle of lavender-watertwo
wax-candlesa paper of mixed pinsand a pincushionto assist
Mrs. Micawber in her toilette at my dressing-table; having also
caused the fire in my bedroom to be lighted for Mrs. Micawber's
convenience; and having laid the cloth with my own handsI awaited
the result with composure.

At the appointed timemy three visitors arrived together. Mr.
Micawber with more shirt-collar than usualand a new ribbon to his
eye-glass; Mrs. Micawber with her cap in a whitey-brown paper
parcel; Traddles carrying the parceland supporting Mrs. Micawber
on his arm. They were all delighted with my residence. When I


conducted Mrs. Micawber to my dressing-tableand she saw the scale
on which it was prepared for hershe was in such rapturesthat
she called Mr. Micawber to come in and look.

'My dear Copperfield' said Mr. Micawber'this is luxurious. This
is a way of life which reminds me of the period when I was myself
in a state of celibacyand Mrs. Micawber had not yet been
solicited to plight her faith at the Hymeneal altar.'

'He meanssolicited by himMr. Copperfield' said Mrs. Micawber
archly. 'He cannot answer for others.'

'My dear' returned Mr. Micawber with sudden seriousness'I have
no desire to answer for others. I am too well aware that whenin
the inscrutable decrees of Fateyou were reserved for meit is
possible you may have been reserved for onedestinedafter a
protracted struggleat length to fall a victim to pecuniary
involvements of a complicated nature. I understand your allusion
my love. I regret itbut I can bear it.'

'Micawber!' exclaimed Mrs. Micawberin tears. 'Have I deserved
this! Iwho never have deserted you; who never WILL desert you
Micawber!'
'My love' said Mr. Micawbermuch affected'you will forgiveand
our old and tried friend Copperfield willI am sureforgivethe
momentary laceration of a wounded spiritmade sensitive by a
recent collision with the Minion of Power - in other wordswith a
ribald Turncock attached to the water-works - and will pitynot
condemnits excesses.'

Mr. Micawber then embraced Mrs. Micawberand pressed my hand;
leaving me to infer from this broken allusion that his domestic
supply of water had been cut off that afternoonin consequence of
default in the payment of the company's rates.

To divert his thoughts from this melancholy subjectI informed Mr.
Micawber that I relied upon him for a bowl of punchand led him to
the lemons. His recent despondencynot to say despairwas gone
in a moment. I never saw a man so thoroughly enjoy himself amid
the fragrance of lemon-peel and sugarthe odour of burning rum
and the steam of boiling wateras Mr. Micawber did that afternoon.
It was wonderful to see his face shining at us out of a thin cloud
of these delicate fumesas he stirredand mixedand tastedand
looked as if he were makinginstead of puncha fortune for his
family down to the latest posterity. As to Mrs. MicawberI don't
know whether it was the effect of the capor the lavender-water
or the pinsor the fireor the wax-candlesbut she came out of
my roomcomparatively speakinglovely. And the lark was never
gayer than that excellent woman.

I suppose - I never ventured to inquirebut I suppose - that Mrs.
Cruppafter frying the soleswas taken ill. Because we broke
down at that point. The leg of mutton came up very red withinand
very pale without: besides having a foreign substance of a gritty
nature sprinkled over itas if if had had a fall into the ashes of
that remarkable kitchen fireplace. But we were not in condition to
judge of this fact from the appearance of the gravyforasmuch as
the 'young gal' had dropped it all upon the stairs - where it
remainedby the byin a long trainuntil it was worn out. The
pigeon-pie was not badbut it was a delusive pie: the crust being
like a disappointing headphrenologically speaking: full of lumps
and bumpswith nothing particular underneath. In shortthe
banquet was such a failure that I should have been quite unhappy about
the failureI meanfor I was always unhappy about Dora - if


I had not been relieved by the great good humour of my companyand
by a bright suggestion from Mr. Micawber.

'My dear friend Copperfield' said Mr. Micawber'accidents will
occur in the best-regulated families; and in families not regulated
by that pervading influence which sanctifies while it enhances the

-a - I would sayin shortby the influence of Womanin the
lofty character of Wifethey may be expected with confidenceand
must be borne with philosophy. If you will allow me to take the
liberty of remarking that there are few comestibles betterin
their waythan a Deviland that I believewith a little division
of labourwe could accomplish a good one if the young person in
attendance could produce a gridironI would put it to youthat
this little misfortune may be easily repaired.'
There was a gridiron in the pantryon which my morning rasher of
bacon was cooked. We had it inin a twinklingand immediately
applied ourselves to carrying Mr. Micawber's idea into effect. The
division of labour to which he had referred was this: - Traddles
cut the mutton into slices; Mr. Micawber (who could do anything of
this sort to perfection) covered them with peppermustardsalt
and cayenne; I put them on the gridironturned them with a fork
and took them offunder Mr. Micawber's direction; and Mrs.
Micawber heatedand continually stirredsome mushroom ketchup in
a little saucepan. When we had slices enough done to begin upon
we fell-towith our sleeves still tucked up at the wristmore
slices sputtering and blazing on the fireand our attention
divided between the mutton on our platesand the mutton then
preparing.

What with the novelty of this cookerythe excellence of itthe
bustle of itthe frequent starting up to look after itthe
frequent sitting down to dispose of it as the crisp slices came off
the gridiron hot and hotthe being so busyso flushed with the
fireso amusedand in the midst of such a tempting noise and
savourwe reduced the leg of mutton to the bone. My own appetite
came back miraculously. I am ashamed to record itbut I really
believe I forgot Dora for a little while. I am satisfied that Mr.
and Mrs. Micawber could not have enjoyed the feast moreif they
had sold a bed to provide it. Traddles laughed as heartilyalmost
the whole timeas he ate and worked. Indeed we all didall at
once; and I dare say there was never a greater success.

We were at the height of our enjoymentand were all busily
engagedin our several departmentsendeavouring to bring the last
batch of slices to a state of perfection that should crown the
feastwhen I was aware of a strange presence in the roomand my
eyes encountered those of the staid Littimerstanding hat in hand
before me.

'What's the matter?' I involuntarily asked.

'I beg your pardonsirI was directed to come in. Is my master
not heresir?'

'No.'

'Have you not seen himsir?'

'No; don't you come from him?'

'Not immediately sosir.'

'Did he tell you you would find him here?'


'Not exactly sosir. But I should think he might be here
tomorrowas he has not been here today.'
'Is he coming up from Oxford?'


'I begsir' he returned respectfully'that you will be seated
and allow me to do this.' With which he took the fork from my
unresisting handand bent over the gridironas if his whole
attention were concentrated on it.


We should not have been much discomposedI dare sayby the
appearance of Steerforth himselfbut we became in a moment the
meekest of the meek before his respectable serving-man. Mr.
Micawberhumming a tuneto show that he was quite at ease
subsided into his chairwith the handle of a hastily concealed
fork sticking out of the bosom of his coatas if he had stabbed
himself. Mrs. Micawber put on her brown glovesand assumed a
genteel languor. Traddles ran his greasy hands through his hair
and stood it bolt uprightand stared in confusion on the
table-cloth. As for meI was a mere infant at the head of my own
table; and hardly ventured to glance at the respectable phenomenon
who had come from Heaven knows whereto put my establishment to
rights.


Meanwhile he took the mutton off the gridironand gravely handed
it round. We all took somebut our appreciation of it was gone
and we merely made a show of eating it. As we severally pushed
away our plateshe noiselessly removed themand set on the
cheese. He took that offtoowhen it was done with; cleared the
table; piled everything on the dumb-waiter; gave us our
wine-glasses; andof his own accordwheeled the dumb-waiter into
the pantry. All this was done in a perfect mannerand he never
raised his eyes from what he was about. Yet his very elbowswhen
he had his back towards meseemed to teem with the expression of
his fixed opinion that I was extremely young.


'Can I do anything moresir?'


I thanked him and saidNo; but would he take no dinner himself?


'NoneI am obliged to yousir.'


'Is Mr. Steerforth coming from Oxford?'


'I beg your pardonsir?'


'Is Mr. Steerforth coming from Oxford?'


'I should imagine that he might be here tomorrowsir. I rather
thought he might have been here todaysir. The mistake is mine
no doubtsir.'


'If you should see him first -' said I.


'If you'll excuse mesirI don't think I shall see him first.'


'In case you do' said I'pray say that I am sorry he was not here
todayas an old schoolfellow of his was here.'


'Indeedsir!' and he divided a bow between me and Traddleswith
a glance at the latter.


He was moving softly to the doorwhenin a forlorn hope of saying
something naturally - which I never couldto this man - I said:



'Oh! Littimer!'

'Sir!'

'Did you remain long at Yarmouththat time?'

'Not particularly sosir.'

'You saw the boat completed?'

'Yessir. I remained behind on purpose to see the boat
completed.'

'I know!' He raised his eyes to mine respectfully.

'Mr. Steerforth has not seen it yetI suppose?'

'I really can't saysir. I think - but I really can't saysir.
I wish you good nightsir.'

He comprehended everybody presentin the respectful bow with which
he followed these wordsand disappeared. My visitors seemed to
breathe more freely when he was gone; but my own relief was very
greatfor besides the constraintarising from that extraordinary
sense of being at a disadvantage which I always had in this man's
presencemy conscience had embarrassed me with whispers that I had
mistrusted his masterand I could not repress a vague uneasy dread
that he might find it out. How was ithaving so little in reality
to concealthat I always DID feel as if this man were finding me
out?

Mr. Micawber roused me from this reflectionwhich was blended with
a certain remorseful apprehension of seeing Steerforth himselfby
bestowing many encomiums on the absent Littimer as a most
respectable fellowand a thoroughly admirable servant. Mr.
MicawberI may remarkhad taken his full share of the general
bowand had received it with infinite condescension.

'But punchmy dear Copperfield' said Mr. Micawbertasting it
'like time and tidewaits for no man. Ah! it is at the present
moment in high flavour. My lovewill you give me your opinion?'

Mrs. Micawber pronounced it excellent.

'Then I will drink' said Mr. Micawber'if my friend Copperfield
will permit me to take that social libertyto the days when my
friend Copperfield and myself were youngerand fought our way in
the world side by side. I may sayof myself and Copperfieldin
words we have sung together before nowthat

We twa hae run about the braes
And pu'd the gowans' fine

-in a figurative point of view - on several occasions. I am not
exactly aware' said Mr. Micawberwith the old roll in his voice
and the old indescribable air of saying something genteel'what
gowans may bebut I have no doubt that Copperfield and myself
would frequently have taken a pull at themif it had been
feasible.'
Mr. Micawberat the then present momenttook a pull at his punch.


So we all did: Traddles evidently lost in wondering at what distant
time Mr. Micawber and I could have been comrades in the battle of
the world.

'Ahem!' said Mr. Micawberclearing his throatand warming with
the punch and with the fire. 'My dearanother glass?'

Mrs. Micawber said it must be very little; but we couldn't allow
thatso it was a glassful.

'As we are quite confidential hereMr. Copperfield' said Mrs.
Micawbersipping her punch'Mr. Traddles being a part of our
domesticityI should much like to have your opinion on Mr.
Micawber's prospects. For corn' said Mrs. Micawber
argumentatively'as I have repeatedly said to Mr. Micawbermay be
gentlemanlybut it is not remunerative. Commission to the extent
of two and ninepence in a fortnight cannothowever limited our
ideasbe considered remunerative.'

We were all agreed upon that.

'Then' said Mrs. Micawberwho prided herself on taking a clear
view of thingsand keeping Mr. Micawber straight by her woman's
wisdomwhen he might otherwise go a little crooked'then I ask
myself this question. If corn is not to be relied uponwhat is?
Are coals to be relied upon? Not at all. We have turned our
attention to that experimenton the suggestion of my familyand
we find it fallacious.'

Mr. Micawberleaning back in his chair with his hands in his
pocketseyed us asideand nodded his headas much as to say that
the case was very clearly put.

'The articles of corn and coals' said Mrs. Micawberstill more
argumentatively'being equally out of the questionMr.
CopperfieldI naturally look round the worldand sayWhat is
there in which a person of Mr. Micawber's talent is likely to
succeed?And I exclude the doing anything on commissionbecause
commission is not a certainty. What is best suited to a person of
Mr. Micawber's peculiar temperament isI am convinceda
certainty.'

Traddles and I both expressedby a feeling murmurthat this great
discovery was no doubt true of Mr. Micawberand that it did him
much credit.

'I will not conceal from youmy dear Mr. Copperfield' said Mrs.
Micawber'that I have long felt the Brewing business to be
particularly adapted to Mr. Micawber. Look at Barclay and Perkins!
Look at TrumanHanburyand Buxton! It is on that extensive
footing that Mr. MicawberI know from my own knowledge of himis
calculated to shine; and the profitsI am toldare e-NOR-MOUS!
But if Mr. Micawber cannot get into those firms - which decline to
answer his letterswhen he offers his services even in an inferior
capacity - what is the use of dwelling upon that idea? None. I
may have a conviction that Mr. Micawber's manners -'

'Hem! Reallymy dear' interposed Mr. Micawber.

'My lovebe silent' said Mrs. Micawberlaying her brown glove on
his hand. 'I may have a convictionMr. Copperfieldthat Mr.
Micawber's manners peculiarly qualify him for the Banking business.
I may argue within myselfthat if I had a deposit at a
banking-housethe manners of Mr. Micawberas representing that


banking-housewould inspire confidenceand must extend the
connexion. But if the various banking-houses refuse to avail
themselves of Mr. Micawber's abilitiesor receive the offer of
them with contumelywhat is the use of dwelling upon THAT idea?
None. As to originating a banking-businessI may know that there
are members of my family whoif they chose to place their money in
Mr. Micawber's handsmight found an establishment of that
description. But if they do NOT choose to place their money in Mr.
Micawber's hands - which they don't - what is the use of that?
Again I contend that we are no farther advanced than we were
before.'

I shook my headand said'Not a bit.' Traddles also shook his
headand said'Not a bit.'

'What do I deduce from this?' Mrs. Micawber went on to saystill
with the same air of putting a case lucidly. 'What is the
conclusionmy dear Mr. Copperfieldto which I am irresistibly
brought? Am I wrong in sayingit is clear that we must live?'

I answered 'Not at all!' and Traddles answered 'Not at all!' and I
found myself afterwards sagely addingalonethat a person must
either live or die.

'Just so' returned Mrs. Micawber'It is precisely that. And the
fact ismy dear Mr. Copperfieldthat we can not live without
something widely different from existing circumstances shortly
turning up. Now I am convincedmyselfand this I have pointed
out to Mr. Micawber several times of latethat things cannot be
expected to turn up of themselves. We mustin a measureassist
to turn them up. I may be wrongbut I have formed that opinion.'

Both Traddles and I applauded it highly.

'Very well' said Mrs. Micawber. 'Then what do I recommend? Here
is Mr. Micawber with a variety of qualifications - with great
talent -'

'Reallymy love' said Mr. Micawber.

'Praymy dearallow me to conclude. Here is Mr. Micawberwith
a variety of qualificationswith great talent - I should saywith
geniusbut that may be the partiality of a wife -'

Traddles and I both murmured 'No.'

'And here is Mr. Micawber without any suitable position or
employment. Where does that responsibility rest? Clearly on
society. Then I would make a fact so disgraceful knownand boldly
challenge society to set it right. It appears to memy dear Mr.
Copperfield' said Mrs. Micawberforcibly'that what Mr. Micawber
has to dois to throw down the gauntlet to societyand sayin
effectShow me who will take that up. Let the party immediately
step forward.'

I ventured to ask Mrs. Micawber how this was to be done.

'By advertising' said Mrs. Micawber - 'in all the papers. It
appears to methat what Mr. Micawber has to doin justice to
himselfin justice to his familyand I will even go so far as to
say in justice to societyby which he has been hitherto
overlookedis to advertise in all the papers; to describe himself
plainly as so-and-sowith such and such qualifications and to put
it thus: "Now employ meon remunerative termsand address


post-paidto W. M.Post OfficeCamden Town."'

'This idea of Mrs. Micawber'smy dear Copperfield' said Mr.
Micawbermaking his shirt-collar meet in front of his chinand
glancing at me sideways'isin factthe Leap to which I alluded
when I last had the pleasure of seeing you.'

'Advertising is rather expensive' I remarkeddubiously.

'Exactly so!' said Mrs. Micawberpreserving the same logical air.
'Quite truemy dear Mr. Copperfield! I have made the identical
observation to Mr. Micawber. It is for that reason especially
that I think Mr. Micawber ought (as I have already saidin justice
to himselfin justice to his familyand in justice to society) to
raise a certain sum of money - on a bill.'

Mr. Micawberleaning back in his chairtrifled with his eye-glass
and cast his eyes up at the ceiling; but I thought him observant of
Traddlestoowho was looking at the fire.

'If no member of my family' said Mrs. Micawber'is possessed of
sufficient natural feeling to negotiate that bill - I believe there
is a better business-term to express what I mean -'

Mr. Micawberwith his eyes still cast up at the ceilingsuggested
'Discount.'

'To discount that bill' said Mrs. Micawber'then my opinion is
that Mr. Micawber should go into the Cityshould take that bill
into the Money Marketand should dispose of it for what he can
get. If the individuals in the Money Market oblige Mr. Micawber to
sustain a great sacrificethat is between themselves and their
consciences. I view itsteadilyas an investment. I recommend
Mr. Micawbermy dear Mr. Copperfieldto do the same; to regard it
as an investment which is sure of returnand to make up his mind
to any sacrifice.'

I feltbut I am sure I don't know whythat this was self-denying
and devoted in Mrs. Micawberand I uttered a murmur to that
effect. Traddleswho took his tone from medid likewisestill
looking at the fire.

'I will not' said Mrs. Micawberfinishing her punchand
gathering her scarf about her shoulderspreparatory to her
withdrawal to my bedroom: 'I will not protract these remarks on the
subject of Mr. Micawber's pecuniary affairs. At your firesidemy
dear Mr. Copperfieldand in the presence of Mr. Traddleswho
though not so old a friendis quite one of ourselvesI could not
refrain from making you acquainted with the course I advise Mr.
Micawber to take. I feel that the time is arrived when Mr.
Micawber should exert himself and - I will add - assert himself
and it appears to me that these are the means. I am aware that I
am merely a femaleand that a masculine judgement is usually
considered more competent to the discussion of such questions;
still I must not forget thatwhen I lived at home with my papa and
mamamy papa was in the habit of sayingEmma's form is fragile,
but her grasp of a subject is inferior to none.That my papa was
too partialI well know; but that he was an observer of character
in some degreemy duty and my reason equally forbid me to doubt.'

With these wordsand resisting our entreaties that she would grace
the remaining circulation of the punch with her presenceMrs.
Micawber retired to my bedroom. And really I felt that she was a
noble woman - the sort of woman who might have been a Roman matron


and done all manner of heroic thingsin times of public trouble.

In the fervour of this impressionI congratulated Mr. Micawber on
the treasure he possessed. So did Traddles. Mr. Micawber extended
his hand to each of us in successionand then covered his face
with his pocket-handkerchiefwhich I think had more snuff upon it
than he was aware of. He then returned to the punchin the
highest state of exhilaration.

He was full of eloquence. He gave us to understand that in our
children we lived againand thatunder the pressure of pecuniary
difficultiesany accession to their number was doubly welcome. He
said that Mrs. Micawber had latterly had her doubts on this point
but that he had dispelled themand reassured her. As to her
familythey were totally unworthy of herand their sentiments
were utterly indifferent to himand they might - I quote his own
expression - go to the Devil.

Mr. Micawber then delivered a warm eulogy on Traddles. He said
Traddles's was a characterto the steady virtues of which he (Mr.
Micawber) could lay no claimbut whichhe thanked Heavenhe
could admire. He feelingly alluded to the young ladyunknown
whom Traddles had honoured with his affectionand who had
reciprocated that affection by honouring and blessing Traddles with
her affection. Mr. Micawber pledged her. So did I. Traddles
thanked us bothby sayingwith a simplicity and honesty I had
sense enough to be quite charmed with'I am very much obliged to
you indeed. And I do assure youshe's the dearest girl! -'

Mr. Micawber took an early opportunityafter thatof hinting
with the utmost delicacy and ceremonyat the state of MY
affections. Nothing but the serious assurance of his friend
Copperfield to the contraryhe observedcould deprive him of the
impression that his friend Copperfield loved and was beloved.
After feeling very hot and uncomfortable for some timeand after
a good deal of blushingstammeringand denyingI saidhaving my
glass in my hand'Well! I would give them D.!' which so excited
and gratified Mr. Micawberthat he ran with a glass of punch into
my bedroomin order that Mrs. Micawber might drink D.who drank
it with enthusiasmcrying from withinin a shrill voice'Hear
hear! My dear Mr. CopperfieldI am delighted. Hear!' and tapping
at the wallby way of applause.

Our conversationafterwardstook a more worldly turn; Mr.
Micawber telling us that he found Camden Town inconvenientand
that the first thing he contemplated doingwhen the advertisement
should have been the cause of something satisfactory turning up
was to move. He mentioned a terrace at the western end of Oxford
Streetfronting Hyde Parkon which he had always had his eyebut
which he did not expect to attain immediatelyas it would require
a large establishment. There would probably be an intervalhe
explainedin which he should content himself with the upper part
of a houseover some respectable place of business - say in
Piccadilly- which would be a cheerful situation for Mrs.
Micawber; and whereby throwing out a bow-windowor carrying up
the roof another storyor making some little alteration of that
sortthey might livecomfortably and reputablyfor a few years.
Whatever was reserved for himhe expressly saidor wherever his
abode might bewe might rely on this - there would always be a
room for Traddlesand a knife and fork for me. We acknowledged
his kindness; and he begged us to forgive his having launched into
these practical and business-like detailsand to excuse it as
natural in one who was making entirely new arrangements in life.


Mrs. Micawbertapping at the wall again to know if tea were ready
broke up this particular phase of our friendly conversation. She
made tea for us in a most agreeable manner; andwhenever I went
near herin handing about the tea-cups and bread-and-butterasked
mein a whisperwhether D. was fairor darkor whether she was
shortor tall: or something of that kind; which I think I liked.
After teawe discussed a variety of topics before the fire; and
Mrs. Micawber was good enough to sing us (in a smallthinflat
voicewhich I remembered to have consideredwhen I first knew
herthe very table-beer of acoustics) the favourite ballads of
'The Dashing White Sergeant'and 'Little Tafflin'. For both of
these songs Mrs. Micawber had been famous when she lived at home
with her papa and mama. Mr. Micawber told usthat when he heard
her sing the first oneon the first occasion of his seeing her
beneath the parental roofshe had attracted his attention in an
extraordinary degree; but that when it came to Little Tafflinhe
had resolved to win that woman or perish in the attempt.


It was between ten and eleven o'clock when Mrs. Micawber rose to
replace her cap in the whitey-brown paper parceland to put on her
bonnet. Mr. Micawber took the opportunity of Traddles putting on
his great-coatto slip a letter into my handwith a whispered
request that I would read it at my leisure. I also took the
opportunity of my holding a candle over the banisters to light them
downwhen Mr. Micawber was going firstleading Mrs. Micawberand
Traddles was following with the capto detain Traddles for a
moment on the top of the stairs.


'Traddles' said I'Mr. Micawber don't mean any harmpoor fellow:
butif I were youI wouldn't lend him anything.'


'My dear Copperfield' returned Traddlessmiling'I haven't got
anything to lend.'


'You have got a nameyou know' said I.


'Oh! You call THAT something to lend?' returned Traddleswith a
thoughtful look.


'Certainly.'


'Oh!' said Traddles. 'Yesto be sure! I am very much obliged to
youCopperfield; but - I am afraid I have lent him that already.'


'For the bill that is to be a certain investment?' I inquired.


'No' said Traddles. 'Not for that one. This is the first I have
heard of that one. I have been thinking that he will most likely
propose that oneon the way home. Mine's another.'


'I hope there will be nothing wrong about it' said I.
'I hope not' said Traddles. 'I should think notthoughbecause
he told meonly the other daythat it was provided for. That was
Mr. Micawber's expressionProvided for.'


Mr. Micawber looking up at this juncture to where we were standing
I had only time to repeat my caution. Traddles thanked meand
descended. But I was much afraidwhen I observed the good-natured
manner in which he went down with the cap in his handand gave
Mrs. Micawber his armthat he would be carried into the Money
Market neck and heels.


I returned to my firesideand was musinghalf gravely and half
laughingon the character of Mr. Micawber and the old relations



between uswhen I heard a quick step ascending the stairs. At
firstI thought it was Traddles coming back for something Mrs.
Micawber had left behind; but as the step approachedI knew it
and felt my heart beat highand the blood rush to my facefor it
was Steerforth's.


I was never unmindful of Agnesand she never left that sanctuary
in my thoughts - if I may call it so - where I had placed her from
the first. But when he enteredand stood before me with his hand
outthe darkness that had fallen on him changed to lightand I
felt confounded and ashamed of having doubted one I loved so
heartily. I loved her none the less; I thought of her as the same
benignantgentle angel in my life; I reproached myselfnot her
with having done him an injury; and I would have made him any
atonement if I had known what to makeand how to make it.


'WhyDaisyold boydumb-foundered!' laughed Steerforthshaking
my hand heartilyand throwing it gaily away. 'Have I detected you
in another feastyou Sybarite! These Doctors' Commons fellows are
the gayest men in townI believeand beat us sober Oxford people
all to nothing!' His bright glance went merrily round the roomas
he took the seat on the sofa opposite to mewhich Mrs. Micawber
had recently vacatedand stirred the fire into a blaze.


'I was so surprised at first' said Igiving him welcome with all
the cordiality I felt'that I had hardly breath to greet you with
Steerforth.'


'Wellthe sight of me is good for sore eyesas the Scotch say'
replied Steerforth'and so is the sight of youDaisyin full
bloom. How are youmy Bacchanal?'


'I am very well' said I; 'and not at all Bacchanalian tonight
though I confess to another party of three.'


'All of whom I met in the streettalking loud in your praise'
returned Steerforth. 'Who's our friend in the tights?'


I gave him the best idea I couldin a few wordsof Mr. Micawber.
He laughed heartily at my feeble portrait of that gentlemanand
said he was a man to knowand he must know him.
'But who do you suppose our other friend is?' said Iin my turn.


'Heaven knows' said Steerforth. 'Not a boreI hope? I thought
he looked a little like one.'


'Traddles!' I repliedtriumphantly.


'Who's he?' asked Steerforthin his careless way.


'Don't you remember Traddles? Traddles in our room at Salem
House?'


'Oh! That fellow!' said Steerforthbeating a lump of coal on the
top of the firewith the poker. 'Is he as soft as ever? And
where the deuce did you pick him up?'


I extolled Traddles in replyas highly as I could; for I felt that
Steerforth rather slighted him. Steerforthdismissing the subject
with a light nodand a smileand the remark that he would be glad
to see the old fellow toofor he had always been an odd fish
inquired if I could give him anything to eat? During most of this
short dialoguewhen he had not been speaking in a wild vivacious
mannerhe had sat idly beating on the lump of coal with the poker.



I observed that he did the same thing while I was getting out the
remains of the pigeon-pieand so forth.

'WhyDaisyhere's a supper for a king!' he exclaimedstarting
out of his silence with a burstand taking his seat at the table.
'I shall do it justicefor I have come from Yarmouth.'

'I thought you came from Oxford?' I returned.

'Not I' said Steerforth. 'I have been seafaring - better
employed.'

'Littimer was here todayto inquire for you' I remarked'and I
understood him that you were at Oxford; thoughnow I think of it
he certainly did not say so.'

'Littimer is a greater fool than I thought himto have been
inquiring for me at all' said Steerforthjovially pouring out a
glass of wineand drinking to me. 'As to understanding himyou
are a cleverer fellow than most of usDaisyif you can do that.'

'That's trueindeed' said Imoving my chair to the table. 'So
you have been at YarmouthSteerforth!' interested to know all
about it. 'Have you been there long?'

'No' he returned. 'An escapade of a week or so.'

'And how are they all? Of courselittle Emily is not married
yet?'

'Not yet. Going to beI believe - in so many weeksor monthsor
something or other. I have not seen much of 'em. By the by'; he
laid down his knife and forkwhich he had been using with great
diligenceand began feeling in his pockets; 'I have a letter for
you.'

'From whom?'

'Whyfrom your old nurse' he returnedtaking some papers out of
his breast pocket. "'J. SteerforthEsquiredebtorto The
Willing Mind"; that's not it. Patienceand we'll find it
presently. Old what's-his-name's in a bad wayand it's about
thatI believe.'

'Barkisdo you mean?'

'Yes!' still feeling in his pocketsand looking over their
contents: 'it's all over with poor BarkisI am afraid. I saw a
little apothecary there - surgeonor whatever he is - who brought
your worship into the world. He was mighty learned about the case
to me; but the upshot of his opinion wasthat the carrier was
making his last journey rather fast. - Put your hand into the
breast pocket of my great-coat on the chair yonderand I think
you'll find the letter. Is it there?'

'Here it is!' said I.

'That's right!'

It was from Peggotty; something less legible than usualand brief.
It informed me of her husband's hopeless stateand hinted at his
being 'a little nearer' than heretoforeand consequently more
difficult to manage for his own comfort. It said nothing of her
weariness and watchingand praised him highly. It was written


with a plainunaffectedhomely piety that I knew to be genuine
and ended with 'my duty to my ever darling' - meaning myself.

While I deciphered itSteerforth continued to eat and drink.

'It's a bad job' he saidwhen I had done; 'but the sun sets every
dayand people die every minuteand we mustn't be scared by the
common lot. If we failed to hold our ownbecause that equal foot
at all men's doors was heard knocking somewhereevery object in
this world would slip from us. No! Ride on! Rough-shod if need
besmooth-shod if that will dobut ride on! Ride on over all
obstaclesand win the race!'

'And win what race?' said I.

'The race that one has started in' said he. 'Ride on!'

I noticedI rememberas he pausedlooking at me with his
handsome head a little thrown backand his glass raised in his
handthatthough the freshness of the sea-wind was on his face
and it was ruddythere were traces in itmade since I last saw
itas if he had applied himself to some habitual strain of the
fervent energy whichwhen rousedwas so passionately roused
within him. I had it in my thoughts to remonstrate with him upon
his desperate way of pursuing any fancy that he took - such as this
buffeting of rough seasand braving of hard weatherfor example

-when my mind glanced off to the immediate subject of our
conversation againand pursued that instead.
'I tell you whatSteerforth' said I'if your high spirits will
listen to me -'

'They are potent spiritsand will do whatever you like' he
answeredmoving from the table to the fireside again.

'Then I tell you whatSteerforth. I think I will go down and see
my old nurse. It is not that I can do her any goodor render her
any real service; but she is so attached to me that my visit will
have as much effect on heras if I could do both. She will take
it so kindly that it will be a comfort and support to her. It is
no great effort to makeI am surefor such a friend as she has
been to me. Wouldn't you go a day's journeyif you were in my
place?'

His face was thoughtfuland he sat considering a little before he
answeredin a low voice'Well! Go. You can do no harm.'

'You have just come back' said I'and it would be in vain to ask
you to go with me?'

'Quite' he returned. 'I am for Highgate tonight. I have not seen
my mother this long timeand it lies upon my consciencefor it's
something to be loved as she loves her prodigal son. - Bah!
Nonsense! - You mean to go tomorrowI suppose?' he saidholding
me out at arm's lengthwith a hand on each of my shoulders.

'YesI think so.'

'Wellthendon't go till next day. I wanted you to come and stay
a few days with us. Here I amon purpose to bid youand you fly
off to Yarmouth!'

'You are a nice fellow to talk of flying offSteerforthwho are
always running wild on some unknown expedition or other!'


He looked at me for a moment without speakingand then rejoined
still holding me as beforeand giving me a shake:

'Come! Say the next dayand pass as much of tomorrow as you can
with us! Who knows when we may meet againelse? Come! Say the
next day! I want you to stand between Rosa Dartle and meand keep
us asunder.'

'Would you love each other too muchwithout me?'

'Yes; or hate' laughed Steerforth; 'no matter which. Come! Say
the next day!'

I said the next day; and he put on his great-coat and lighted his
cigarand set off to walk home. Finding him in this intentionI
put on my own great-coat (but did not light my own cigarhaving
had enough of that for one while) and walked with him as far as the
open road: a dull roadthenat night. He was in great spirits
all the way; and when we partedand I looked after him going so
gallantly and airily homewardI thought of his saying'Ride on
over all obstaclesand win the race!' and wishedfor the first
timethat he had some worthy race to run.

I was undressing in my own roomwhen Mr. Micawber's letter tumbled
on the floor. Thus reminded of itI broke the seal and read as
follows. It was dated an hour and a half before dinner. I am not
sure whether I have mentioned thatwhen Mr. Micawber was at any
particularly desperate crisishe used a sort of legal phraseology
which he seemed to think equivalent to winding up his affairs.

'SIR - for I dare not say my dear Copperfield

'It is expedient that I should inform you that the undersigned is
Crushed. Some flickering efforts to spare you the premature
knowledge of his calamitous positionyou may observe in him this
day; but hope has sunk beneath the horizonand the undersigned is
Crushed.

'The present communication is penned within the personal range (I
cannot call it the society) of an individualin a state closely
bordering on intoxicationemployed by a broker. That individual
is in legal possession of the premisesunder a distress for rent.
His inventory includesnot only the chattels and effects of every
description belonging to the undersignedas yearly tenant of this
habitationbut also those appertaining to Mr. Thomas Traddles
lodgera member of the Honourable Society of the Inner Temple.

'If any drop of gloom were wanting in the overflowing cupwhich is
now "commended" (in the language of an immortal Writer) to the lips
of the undersignedit would be found in the factthat a friendly
acceptance granted to the undersignedby the before-mentioned Mr.
Thomas Traddlesfor the sum Of 23l 4s 9 1/2d is over dueand is
NOT provided for. Alsoin the fact that the living
responsibilities clinging to the undersigned willin the course of
naturebe increased by the sum of one more helpless victim; whose
miserable appearance may be looked for - in round numbers - at the
expiration of a period not exceeding six lunar months from the
present date.

'After premising thus muchit would be a work of supererogation to
addthat dust and ashes are for ever scattered


'On
'The
'Head
'Of
'WILKINS MICAWBER.'

Poor Traddles! I knew enough of Mr. Micawber by this timeto
foresee that he might be expected to recover the blow; but my
night's rest was sorely distressed by thoughts of Traddlesand of
the curate's daughterwho was one of tendown in Devonshireand
who was such a dear girland who would wait for Traddles (ominous
praise!) until she was sixtyor any age that could be mentioned.

CHAPTER 29
I VISIT STEERFORTH AT HIS HOMEAGAIN

I mentioned to Mr. Spenlow in the morningthat I wanted leave of
absence for a short time; and as I was not in the receipt of any
salaryand consequently was not obnoxious to the implacable
Jorkinsthere was no difficulty about it. I took that
opportunitywith my voice sticking in my throatand my sight
failing as I uttered the wordsto express my hope that Miss
Spenlow was quite well; to which Mr. Spenlow repliedwith no more
emotion than if he had been speaking of an ordinary human being
that he was much obliged to meand she was very well.

We articled clerksas germs of the patrician order of proctors
were treated with so much considerationthat I was almost my own
master at all times. As I did not carehoweverto get to
Highgate before one or two o'clock in the dayand as we had
another little excommunication case in court that morningwhich
was called The office of the judge promoted by Tipkins against
Bullock for his soul's correctionI passed an hour or two in
attendance on it with Mr. Spenlow very agreeably. It arose out of
a scuffle between two churchwardensone of whom was alleged to
have pushed the other against a pump; the handle of which pump
projecting into a school-housewhich school-house was under a
gable of the church-roofmade the push an ecclesiastical offence.
It was an amusing case; and sent me up to Highgateon the box of
the stage-coachthinking about the Commonsand what Mr. Spenlow
had said about touching the Commons and bringing down the country.

Mrs. Steerforth was pleased to see meand so was Rosa Dartle. I
was agreeably surprised to find that Littimer was not thereand
that we were attended by a modest little parlour-maidwith blue
ribbons in her capwhose eye it was much more pleasantand much
less disconcertingto catch by accidentthan the eye of that
respectable man. But what I particularly observedbefore I had
been half-an-hour in the housewas the close and attentive watch
Miss Dartle kept upon me; and the lurking manner in which she
seemed to compare my face with Steerforth'sand Steerforth's with
mineand to lie in wait for something to come out between the two.
So surely as I looked towards herdid I see that eager visage
with its gaunt black eyes and searching browintent on mine; or
passing suddenly from mine to Steerforth's; or comprehending both
of us at once. In this lynx-like scrutiny she was so far from
faltering when she saw I observed itthat at such a time she only
fixed her piercing look upon me with a more intent expression
still. Blameless as I wasand knew that I wasin reference to
any wrong she could possibly suspect me ofI shrunk before her


strange eyesquite unable to endure their hungry lustre.

All dayshe seemed to pervade the whole house. If I talked to
Steerforth in his roomI heard her dress rustle in the little
gallery outside. When he and I engaged in some of our old
exercises on the lawn behind the houseI saw her face pass from
window to windowlike a wandering lightuntil it fixed itself in
oneand watched us. When we all four went out walking in the
afternoonshe closed her thin hand on my arm like a springto
keep me backwhile Steerforth and his mother went on out of
hearing: and then spoke to me.

'You have been a long time' she said'without coming here. Is
your profession really so engaging and interesting as to absorb
your whole attention? I ask because I always want to be informed
when I am ignorant. Is it reallythough?'

I replied that I liked it well enoughbut that I certainly could
not claim so much for it.

'Oh! I am glad to know thatbecause I always like to be put right
when I am wrong' said Rosa Dartle. 'You mean it is a little dry
perhaps?'

'Well' I replied; 'perhaps it was a little dry.'

'Oh! and that's a reason why you want relief and change excitement
and all that?' said she. 'Ah! very true! But isn't it
a little - Eh? - for him; I don't mean you?'

A quick glance of her eye towards the spot where Steerforth was
walkingwith his mother leaning on his armshowed me whom she
meant; but beyond thatI was quite lost. And I looked soI have
no doubt.

'Don't it - I don't say that it doesmind I want to know - don't
it rather engross him? Don't it make himperhapsa little more
remiss than usual in his visits to his blindly-doting - eh?' With
another quick glance at themand such a glance at me as seemed to
look into my innermost thoughts.

'Miss Dartle' I returned'pray do not think -'

'I don't!' she said. 'Oh dear medon't suppose that I think
anything! I am not suspicious. I only ask a question. I don't
state any opinion. I want to found an opinion on what you tell me.
Thenit's not so? Well! I am very glad to know it.'

'It certainly is not the fact' said Iperplexed'that I am
accountable for Steerforth's having been away from home longer than
usual - if he has been: which I really don't know at this moment
unless I understand it from you. I have not seen him this long
whileuntil last night.'

'No?'

'IndeedMiss Dartleno!'

As she looked full at meI saw her face grow sharper and paler
and the marks of the old wound lengthen out until it cut through
the disfigured lipand deep into the nether lipand slanted down
the face. There was something positively awful to me in thisand
in the brightness of her eyesas she saidlooking fixedly at me:


'What is he doing?'

I repeated the wordsmore to myself than herbeing so amazed.

'What is he doing?' she saidwith an eagerness that seemed enough
to consume her like a fire. 'In what is that man assisting him
who never looks at me without an inscrutable falsehood in his eyes?
If you are honourable and faithfulI don't ask you to betray your
friend. I ask you only to tell meis it angeris it hatredis
it prideis it restlessnessis it some wild fancyis it love
what is itthat is leading him?'

'Miss Dartle' I returned'how shall I tell youso that you will
believe methat I know of nothing in Steerforth different from
what there was when I first came here? I can think of nothing. I
firmly believe there is nothing. I hardly understand even what you
mean.'

As she still stood looking fixedly at mea twitching or throbbing
from which I could not dissociate the idea of paincame into that
cruel mark; and lifted up the corner of her lip as if with scorn
or with a pity that despised its object. She put her hand upon it
hurriedly - a hand so thin and delicatethat when I had seen her
hold it up before the fire to shade her faceI had compared it in
my thoughts to fine porcelain - and sayingin a quickfierce
passionate way'I swear you to secrecy about this!' said not a
word more.

Mrs. Steerforth was particularly happy in her son's societyand
Steerforth wason this occasionparticularly attentive and
respectful to her. It was very interesting to me to see them
togethernot only on account of their mutual affectionbut
because of the strong personal resemblance between themand the
manner in which what was haughty or impetuous in him was softened
by age and sexin herto a gracious dignity. I thoughtmore
than oncethat it was well no serious cause of division had ever
come between them; or two such natures - I ought rather to express
ittwo such shades of the same nature - might have been harder to
reconcile than the two extremest opposites in creation. The idea
did not originate in my own discernmentI am bound to confessbut
in a speech of Rosa Dartle's.

She said at dinner:

'Ohbut do tell methoughsomebodybecause I have been thinking
about it all dayand I want to know.'

'You want to know whatRosa?' returned Mrs. Steerforth. 'Pray
prayRosado not be mysterious.'

'Mysterious!' she cried. 'Oh! really? Do you consider me so?'

'Do I constantly entreat you' said Mrs. Steerforth'to speak
plainlyin your own natural manner?'

'Oh! then this is not my natural manner?' she rejoined. 'Now you
must really bear with mebecause I ask for information. We never
know ourselves.'

'It has become a second nature' said Mrs. Steerforthwithout any
displeasure; 'but I remember- and so must youI think- when
your manner was differentRosa; when it was not so guardedand
was more trustful.'


'I am sure you are right' she returned; 'and so it is that bad
habits grow upon one! Really? Less guarded and more trustful?
How can Iimperceptiblyhave changedI wonder! Wellthat's
very odd! I must study to regain my former self.'

'I wish you would' said Mrs. Steerforthwith a smile.

'Oh! I really willyou know!' she answered. 'I will learn
frankness from - let me see - from James.'

'You cannot learn franknessRosa' said Mrs. Steerforth quickly for
there was always some effect of sarcasm in what Rosa Dartle
saidthough it was saidas this wasin the most unconscious
manner in the world - 'in a better school.'

'That I am sure of' she answeredwith uncommon fervour. 'If I am
sure of anythingof courseyou knowI am sure of that.'

Mrs. Steerforth appeared to me to regret having been a little
nettled; for she presently saidin a kind tone:

'Wellmy dear Rosawe have not heard what it is that you want to
be satisfied about?'

'That I want to be satisfied about?' she repliedwith provoking
coldness. 'Oh! It was only whether peoplewho are like each
other in their moral constitution - is that the phrase?'

'It's as good a phrase as another' said Steerforth.

'Thank you: - whether peoplewho are like each other in their
moral constitutionare in greater danger than people not so
circumstancedsupposing any serious cause of variance to arise
between themof being divided angrily and deeply?'

'I should say yes' said Steerforth.

'Should you?' she retorted. 'Dear me! Supposing thenfor
instance - any unlikely thing will do for a supposition - that you
and your mother were to have a serious quarrel.'

'My dear Rosa' interposed Mrs. Steerforthlaughing
good-naturedly'suggest some other supposition! James and I know
our duty to each other betterI pray Heaven!'

'Oh!' said Miss Dartlenodding her head thoughtfully. 'To be
sure. That would prevent it? Whyof course it would. Exactly.
NowI am glad I have been so foolish as to put the casefor it is
so very good to know that your duty to each other would prevent it!
Thank you very much.'

One other little circumstance connected with Miss Dartle I must not
omit; for I had reason to remember it thereafterwhen all the
irremediable past was rendered plain. During the whole of this
daybut especially from this period of itSteerforth exerted
himself with his utmost skilland that was with his utmost ease
to charm this singular creature into a pleasant and pleased
companion. That he should succeedwas no matter of surprise to
me. That she should struggle against the fascinating influence of
his delightful art - delightful nature I thought it then - did not
surprise me either; for I knew that she was sometimes jaundiced and
perverse. I saw her features and her manner slowly change; I saw
her look at him with growing admiration; I saw her trymore and
more faintlybut always angrilyas if she condemned a weakness in


herselfto resist the captivating power that he possessed; and
finallyI saw her sharp glance softenand her smile become quite
gentleand I ceased to be afraid of her as I had really been all
dayand we all sat about the firetalking and laughing together
with as little reserve as if we had been children.

Whether it was because we had sat there so longor because
Steerforth was resolved not to lose the advantage he had gainedI
do not know; but we did not remain in the dining-room more than
five minutes after her departure. 'She is playing her harp' said
Steerforthsoftlyat the drawing-room door'and nobody but my
mother has heard her do thatI believethese three years.' He
said it with a curious smilewhich was gone directly; and we went
into the room and found her alone.

'Don't get up' said Steerforth (which she had already done)' my
dear Rosadon't! Be kind for onceand sing us an Irish song.'

'What do you care for an Irish song?' she returned.

'Much!' said Steerforth. 'Much more than for any other. Here is
Daisytooloves music from his soul. Sing us an Irish song
Rosa! and let me sit and listen as I used to do.'

He did not touch heror the chair from which she had risenbut
sat himself near the harp. She stood beside it for some little
whilein a curious waygoing through the motion of playing it
with her right handbut not sounding it. At length she sat down
and drew it to her with one sudden actionand played and sang.

I don't know what it wasin her touch or voicethat made that
song the most unearthly I have ever heard in my lifeor can
imagine. There was something fearful in the reality of it. It was
as if it had never been writtenor set to musicbut sprung out of
passion within her; which found imperfect utterance in the low
sounds of her voiceand crouched again when all was still. I was
dumb when she leaned beside the harp againplaying itbut not
sounding itwith her right hand.

A minute moreand this had roused me from my trance: - Steerforth
had left his seatand gone to herand had put his arm laughingly
about herand had said'ComeRosafor the future we will love
each other very much!' And she had struck himand had thrown him
off with the fury of a wild catand had burst out of the room.

'What is the matter with Rosa?' said Mrs. Steerforthcoming in.

'She has been an angelmother' returned Steerforth'for a little
while; and has run into the opposite extremesinceby way of
compensation.'

'You should be careful not to irritate herJames. Her temper has
been souredrememberand ought not to be tried.'

Rosa did not come back; and no other mention was made of heruntil
I went with Steerforth into his room to say Good night. Then he
laughed about herand asked me if I had ever seen such a fierce
little piece of incomprehensibility.

I expressed as much of my astonishment as was then capable of
expressionand asked if he could guess what it was that she had
taken so much amissso suddenly.

'OhHeaven knows' said Steerforth. 'Anything you like - or


nothing! I told you she took everythingherself includedto a
grindstoneand sharpened it. She is an edge-tooland requires
great care in dealing with. She is always dangerous. Good night!'

'Good night!' said I'my dear Steerforth! I shall be gone before
you wake in the morning. Good night!'

He was unwilling to let me go; and stoodholding me outwith a
hand on each of my shouldersas he had done in my own room.

'Daisy' he saidwith a smile - 'for though that's not the name
your godfathers and godmothers gave youit's the name I like best
to call you by - and I wishI wishI wishyou could give it to
me!'

'Why so I canif I choose' said I.

'Daisyif anything should ever separate usyou must think of me
at my bestold boy. Come! Let us make that bargain. Think of me
at my bestif circumstances should ever part us!'

'You have no best to meSteerforth' said I'and no worst. You
are always equally lovedand cherished in my heart.'

So much compunction for having ever wronged himeven by a
shapeless thoughtdid I feel within methat the confession of
having done so was rising to my lips. But for the reluctance I had
to betray the confidence of Agnesbut for my uncertainty how to
approach the subject with no risk of doing soit would have
reached them before he said'God bless youDaisyand good
night!' In my doubtit did NOT reach them; and we shook handsand
we parted.

I was up with the dull dawnandhaving dressed as quietly as I
couldlooked into his room. He was fast asleep; lyingeasily
with his head upon his armas I had often seen him lie at school.

The time came in its seasonand that was very soonwhen I almost
wondered that nothing troubled his reposeas I looked at him. But
he slept - let me think of him so again - as I had often seen him
sleep at school; and thusin this silent hourI left him.

-Never moreoh God forgive youSteerforth! to touch that passive
hand in love and friendship. Nevernever more!
CHAPTER 30
A LOSS

I got down to Yarmouth in the eveningand went to the inn. I knew
that Peggotty's spare room - my room - was likely to have
occupation enough in a little whileif that great Visitorbefore
whose presence all the living must give placewere not already in
the house; so I betook myself to the innand dined thereand
engaged my bed.

It was ten o'clock when I went out. Many of the shops were shut
and the town was dull. When I came to Omer and Joram'sI found
the shutters upbut the shop door standing open. As I could
obtain a perspective view of Mr. Omer insidesmoking his pipe by
the parlour doorI enteredand asked him how he was.


'Whybless my life and soul!' said Mr. Omer'how do you find
yourself? Take a seat. - Smoke not disagreeableI hope?'

'By no means' said I. 'I like it - in somebody else's pipe.'

'Whatnot in your owneh?' Mr. Omer returnedlaughing. 'All the
bettersir. Bad habit for a young man. Take a seat. I smoke
myselffor the asthma.'

Mr. Omer had made room for meand placed a chair. He now sat down
again very much out of breathgasping at his pipe as if it
contained a supply of that necessarywithout which he must perish.

'I am sorry to have heard bad news of Mr. Barkis' said I.

Mr. Omer looked at mewith a steady countenanceand shook his
head.

'Do you know how he is tonight?' I asked.

'The very question I should have put to yousir' returned Mr.
Omer'but on account of delicacy. It's one of the drawbacks of
our line of business. When a party's illwe can't ask how the
party is.'

The difficulty had not occurred to me; though I had had my
apprehensions toowhen I went inof hearing the old tune. On its
being mentionedI recognized ithoweverand said as much.

'Yesyesyou understand' said Mr. Omernodding his head. 'We
dursn't do it. Bless youit would be a shock that the generality
of parties mightn't recoverto say "Omer and Joram's compliments
and how do you find yourself this morning?" - or this afternoon as
it may be.'

Mr. Omer and I nodded at each otherand Mr. Omer recruited his
wind by the aid of his pipe.

'It's one of the things that cut the trade off from attentions they
could often wish to show' said Mr. Omer. 'Take myself. If I have
known Barkis a yearto move to as he went byI have known him
forty years. But I can't go and sayhow is he?'

I felt it was rather hard on Mr. Omerand I told him so.

'I'm not more self-interestedI hopethan another man' said Mr.
Omer. 'Look at me! My wind may fail me at any momentand it
ain't likely thatto my own knowledgeI'd be self-interested
under such circumstances. I say it ain't likelyin a man who
knows his wind will gowhen it DOES goas if a pair of bellows
was cut open; and that man a grandfather' said Mr. Omer.

I said'Not at all.'

'It ain't that I complain of my line of business' said Mr. Omer.
'It ain't that. Some good and some bad goesno doubtto all
callings. What I wish isthat parties was brought up
stronger-minded.'

Mr. Omerwith a very complacent and amiable facetook several
puffs in silence; and then saidresuming his first point:

'Accordingly we're obleegedin ascertaining how Barkis goes onto
limit ourselves to Em'ly. She knows what our real objects areand


she don't have any more alarms or suspicions about usthan if we
was so many lambs. Minnie and Joram have just stepped down to the
housein fact (she's thereafter hourshelping her aunt a bit)
to ask her how he is tonight; and if you was to please to wait till
they come backthey'd give you full partic'lers. Will you take
something? A glass of srub and waternow? I smoke on srub and
watermyself' said Mr. Omertaking up his glass'because it's
considered softening to the passagesby which this troublesome
breath of mine gets into action. ButLord bless you' said Mr.
Omerhuskily'it ain't the passages that's out of order! "Give
me breath enough said I to my daughter Minnie, and I'll find
passagesmy dear."'

He really had no breath to spareand it was very alarming to see
him laugh. When he was again in a condition to be talked toI
thanked him for the proffered refreshmentwhich I declinedas I
had just had dinner; andobserving that I would waitsince he was
so good as to invite meuntil his daughter and his son-in-law came
backI inquired how little Emily was?

'Wellsir' said Mr. Omerremoving his pipethat he might rub
his chin: 'I tell you trulyI shall be glad when her marriage has
taken place.'

'Why so?' I inquired.

'Wellshe's unsettled at present' said Mr. Omer. 'It ain't that
she's not as pretty as everfor she's prettier - I do assure you
she is prettier. It ain't that she don't work as well as everfor
she does. She WAS worth any sixand she IS worth any six. But
somehow she wants heart. If you understand' said Mr. Omerafter
rubbing his chin againand smoking a little'what I mean in a
general way by the expressionA long pull, and a strong pull, and
a pull altogether, my hearties, hurrah!I should say to youthat
that was - in a general way - what I miss in Em'ly.'

Mr. Omer's face and manner went for so muchthat I could
conscientiously nod my headas divining his meaning. My quickness
of apprehension seemed to please himand he went on:
'Now I consider this is principally on account of her being in an
unsettled stateyou see. We have talked it over a good dealher
uncle and myselfand her sweetheart and myselfafter business;
and I consider it is principally on account of her being unsettled.
You must always recollect of Em'ly' said Mr. Omershaking his
head gently'that she's a most extraordinary affectionate little
thing. The proverb saysYou can't make a silk purse out of a
sow's ear.WellI don't know about that. I rather think you may
if you begin early in life. She has made a home out of that old
boatsirthat stone and marble couldn't beat.'

'I am sure she has!' said I.

'To see the clinging of that pretty little thing to her uncle'
said Mr. Omer; 'to see the way she holds on to himtighter and
tighterand closer and closerevery dayis to see a sight. Now
you knowthere's a struggle going on when that's the case. Why
should it be made a longer one than is needful?'

I listened attentively to the good old fellowand acquiescedwith
all my heartin what he said.

'ThereforeI mentioned to them' said Mr. Omerin a comfortable
easy-going tone'this. I saidNow, don't consider Em'ly nailed
down in point of time, at all. Make it your own time. Her


services have been more valuable than was supposed; her learning
has been quicker than was supposed; Omer and Joram can run their
pen through what remains; and she's free when you wish. If she
likes to make any little arrangement, afterwards, in the way of
doing any little thing for us at home, very well. If she don't,
very well still. We're no losers, anyhow.For - don't you see'
said Mr. Omertouching me with his pipe'it ain't likely that a
man so short of breath as myselfand a grandfather toowould go
and strain points with a little bit of a blue-eyed blossomlike
her?'

'Not at allI am certain' said I.

'Not at all! You're right!' said Mr. Omer. 'Wellsirher cousin

-you know it's a cousin she's going to be married to?'
'Oh yes' I replied. 'I know him well.'

'Of course you do' said Mr. Omer. 'Wellsir! Her cousin being
as it appearsin good workand well to dothanked me in a very
manly sort of manner for this (conducting himself altogetherI
must sayin a way that gives me a high opinion of him)and went
and took as comfortable a little house as you or I could wish to
clap eyes on. That little house is now furnished right throughas
neat and complete as a doll's parlour; and but for Barkis's illness
having taken this bad turnpoor fellowthey would have been man
and wife - I dare sayby this time. As it isthere's a
postponement.'

'And EmilyMr. Omer?' I inquired. 'Has she become more settled?'

'Why thatyou know' he returnedrubbing his double chin again
'can't naturally be expected. The prospect of the change and
separationand all thatisas one may sayclose to her and far
away from herboth at once. Barkis's death needn't put it off
muchbut his lingering might. Anywayit's an uncertain state of
mattersyou see.'

'I see' said I.

'Consequently' pursued Mr. Omer'Em'ly's still a little downand
a little fluttered; perhapsupon the wholeshe's more so than she
was. Every day she seems to get fonder and fonder of her uncle
and more loth to part from all of us. A kind word from me brings
the tears into her eyes; and if you was to see her with my daughter
Minnie's little girlyou'd never forget it. Bless my heart
alive!' said Mr. Omerpondering'how she loves that child!'

Having so favourable an opportunityit occurred to me to ask Mr.
Omerbefore our conversation should be interrupted by the return
of his daughter and her husbandwhether he knew anything of
Martha.

'Ah!' he rejoinedshaking his headand looking very much
dejected. 'No good. A sad storysirhowever you come to know
it. I never thought there was harm in the girl. I wouldn't wish
to mention it before my daughter Minnie - for she'd take me up
directly - but I never did. None of us ever did.'

Mr. Omerhearing his daughter's footstep before I heard it
touched me with his pipeand shut up one eyeas a caution. She
and her husband came in immediately afterwards.

Their report wasthat Mr. Barkis was 'as bad as bad could be';


that he was quite unconscious; and that Mr. Chillip had mournfully
said in the kitchenon going away just nowthat the College of
Physiciansthe College of Surgeonsand Apothecaries' Hallif
they were all called in togethercouldn't help him. He was past
both CollegesMr. Chillip saidand the Hall could only poison
him.

Hearing thisand learning that Mr. Peggotty was thereI
determined to go to the house at once. I bade good night to Mr.
Omerand to Mr. and Mrs. Joram; and directed my steps thither
with a solemn feelingwhich made Mr. Barkis quite a new and
different creature.

My low tap at the door was answered by Mr. Peggotty. He was not so
much surprised to see me as I had expected. I remarked this in
Peggottytoowhen she came down; and I have seen it since; and I
thinkin the expectation of that dread surpriseall other changes
and surprises dwindle into nothing.

I shook hands with Mr. Peggottyand passed into the kitchenwhile
he softly closed the door. Little Emily was sitting by the fire
with her hands before her face. Ham was standing near her.

We spoke in whispers; listeningbetween whilesfor any sound in
the room above. I had not thought of it on the occasion of my last
visitbut how strange it was to menowto miss Mr. Barkis out of
the kitchen!

'This is very kind of youMas'r Davy' said Mr. Peggotty.

'It's oncommon kind' said Ham.

'Em'lymy dear' cried Mr. Peggotty. 'See here! Here's Mas'r
Davy come! Whatcheer uppretty! Not a wured to Mas'r Davy?'

There was a trembling upon herthat I can see now. The coldness
of her hand when I touched itI can feel yet. Its only sign of
animation was to shrink from mine; and then she glided from the
chairand creeping to the other side of her unclebowed herself
silently and trembling stillupon his breast.

'It's such a loving art' said Mr. Peggottysmoothing her rich
hair with his great hard hand'that it can't abear the sorrer of
this. It's nat'ral in young folkMas'r Davywhen they're new to
these here trialsand timidlike my little bird- it's nat'ral.'

She clung the closer to himbut neither lifted up her facenor
spoke a word.

'It's getting latemy dear' said Mr. Peggotty'and here's Ham
come fur to take you home. Theer! Go along with t'other loving
art! What' Em'ly? Ehmy pretty?'

The sound of her voice had not reached mebut he bent his head as
if he listened to herand then said:

'Let you stay with your uncle? Whyyou doen't mean to ask me
that! Stay with your uncleMoppet? When your husband that'll be
so soonis here fur to take you home? Now a person wouldn't think
itfur to see this little thing alongside a rough-weather chap
like me' said Mr. Peggottylooking round at both of uswith
infinite pride; 'but the sea ain't more salt in it than she has
fondness in her for her uncle - a foolish little Em'ly!'


'Em'ly's in the right in thatMas'r Davy!' said Ham. 'Lookee
here! As Em'ly wishes of itand as she's hurried and frightened
likebesidesI'll leave her till morning. Let me stay too!'

'Nono' said Mr. Peggotty. 'You doen't ought - a married man
like you - or what's as good - to take and hull away a day's work.
And you doen't ought to watch and work both. That won't do. You
go home and turn in. You ain't afeerd of Em'ly not being took good
care onI know.'
Ham yielded to this persuasionand took his hat to go. Even when
he kissed her. - and I never saw him approach herbut I felt that
nature had given him the soul of a gentleman - she seemed to cling
closer to her uncleeven to the avoidance of her chosen husband.
I shut the door after himthat it might cause no disturbance of
the quiet that prevailed; and when I turned backI found Mr.
Peggotty still talking to her.

'NowI'm a going upstairs to tell your aunt as Mas'r Davy's here
and that'll cheer her up a bit' he said. 'Sit ye down by the
firethe whilemy dearand warm those mortal cold hands. You
doen't need to be so fearsomeand take on so much. What? You'll
go along with me? - Well! come along with me - come! If her uncle
was turned out of house and homeand forced to lay down in a dyke
Mas'r Davy' said Mr. Peggottywith no less pride than before
'it's my belief she'd go along with himnow! But there'll be
someone elsesoon- someone elsesoonEm'ly!'

Afterwardswhen I went upstairsas I passed the door of my little
chamberwhich was darkI had an indistinct impression of her
being within itcast down upon the floor. Butwhether it was
really sheor whether it was a confusion of the shadows in the
roomI don't know now.

I had leisure to thinkbefore the kitchen fireof pretty little
Emily's dread of death - whichadded to what Mr. Omer had told me
I took to be the cause of her being so unlike herself - and I had
leisurebefore Peggotty came downeven to think more leniently of
the weakness of it: as I sat counting the ticking of the clockand
deepening my sense of the solemn hush around me. Peggotty took me
in her armsand blessed and thanked me over and over again for
being such a comfort to her (that was what she said) in her
distress. She then entreated me to come upstairssobbing that Mr.
Barkis had always liked me and admired me; that he had often talked
of mebefore he fell into a stupor; and that she believedin case
of his coming to himself againhe would brighten up at sight of
meif he could brighten up at any earthly thing.

The probability of his ever doing soappeared to mewhen I saw
himto be very small. He was lying with his head and shoulders
out of bedin an uncomfortable attitudehalf resting on the box
which had cost him so much pain and trouble. I learnedthatwhen
he was past creeping out of bed to open itand past assuring
himself of its safety by means of the divining rod I had seen him
usehe had required to have it placed on the chair at the
bed-sidewhere he had ever since embraced itnight and day. His
arm lay on it now. Time and the world were slipping from beneath
himbut the box was there; and the last words he had uttered were
(in an explanatory tone) 'Old clothes!'

'Barkismy dear!' said Peggottyalmost cheerfully: bending over
himwhile her brother and I stood at the bed's foot. 'Here's my
dear boy - my dear boyMaster Davywho brought us together
Barkis! That you sent messages byyou know! Won't you speak to
Master Davy?'


He was as mute and senseless as the boxfrom which his form
derived the only expression it had.

'He's a going out with the tide' said Mr. Peggotty to mebehind
his hand.

My eyes were dim and so were Mr. Peggotty's; but I repeated in a
whisper'With the tide?'

'People can't diealong the coast' said Mr. Peggotty'except
when the tide's pretty nigh out. They can't be bornunless it's
pretty nigh in - not properly borntill flood. He's a going out
with the tide. It's ebb at half-arter threeslack water half an
hour. If he lives till it turnshe'll hold his own till past the
floodand go out with the next tide.'

We remained therewatching hima long time - hours. What
mysterious influence my presence had upon him in that state of his
sensesI shall not pretend to say; but when he at last began to
wander feeblyit is certain he was muttering about driving me to
school.

'He's coming to himself' said Peggotty.

Mr. Peggotty touched meand whispered with much awe and reverence.
'They are both a-going out fast.'

'Barkismy dear!' said Peggotty.

'C. P. Barkis' he cried faintly. 'No better woman anywhere!'

'Look! Here's Master Davy!' said Peggotty. For he now opened his
eyes.

I was on the point of asking him if he knew mewhen he tried to
stretch out his armand said to medistinctlywith a pleasant
smile:

'Barkis is willin'!'

Andit being low waterhe went out with the tide.

CHAPTER 31
A GREATER LOSS

It was not difficult for meon Peggotty's solicitationto resolve
to stay where I wasuntil after the remains of the poor carrier
should have made their last journey to Blunderstone. She had long
ago boughtout of her own savingsa little piece of ground in our
old churchyard near the grave of 'her sweet girl'as she always
called my mother; and there they were to rest.

In keeping Peggotty companyand doing all I could for her (little
enough at the utmost)I was as gratefulI rejoice to thinkas
even now I could wish myself to have been. But I am afraid I had
a supreme satisfactionof a personal and professional naturein
taking charge of Mr. Barkis's willand expounding its contents.

I may claim the merit of having originated the suggestion that the
will should be looked for in the box. After some searchit was


found in the boxat the bottom of a horse's nose-bag; wherein
(besides hay) there was discovered an old gold watchwith chain
and sealswhich Mr. Barkis had worn on his wedding-dayand which
had never been seen before or since; a silver tobacco-stopperin
the form of a leg; an imitation lemonfull of minute cups and
saucerswhich I have some idea Mr. Barkis must have purchased to
present to me when I was a childand afterwards found himself
unable to part with; eighty-seven guineas and a halfin guineas
and half-guineas; two hundred and ten poundsin perfectly clean
Bank notes; certain receipts for Bank of England stock; an old
horseshoea bad shillinga piece of camphorand an oyster-shell.
From the circumstance of the latter article having been much
polishedand displaying prismatic colours on the insideI
conclude that Mr. Barkis had some general ideas about pearlswhich
never resolved themselves into anything definite.

For years and yearsMr. Barkis had carried this boxon all his
journeysevery day. That it might the better escape noticehe
had invented a fiction that it belonged to 'Mr. Blackboy'and was
'to be left with Barkis till called for'; a fable he had
elaborately written on the lidin characters now scarcely legible.

He had hoardedall these yearsI foundto good purpose. His
property in money amounted to nearly three thousand pounds. Of
this he bequeathed the interest of one thousand to Mr. Peggotty for
his life; on his deceasethe principal to be equally divided
between Peggottylittle Emilyand meor the survivor or
survivors of usshare and share alike. All the rest he died
possessed ofhe bequeathed to Peggotty; whom he left residuary
legateeand sole executrix of that his last will and testament.

I felt myself quite a proctor when I read this document aloud with
all possible ceremonyand set forth its provisionsany number of
timesto those whom they concerned. I began to think there was
more in the Commons than I had supposed. I examined the will with
the deepest attentionpronounced it perfectly formal in all
respectsmade a pencil-mark or so in the marginand thought it
rather extraordinary that I knew so much.

In this abstruse pursuit; in making an account for Peggottyof all
the property into which she had come; in arranging all the affairs
in an orderly manner; and in being her referee and adviser on every
pointto our joint delight; I passed the week before the funeral.
I did not see little Emily in that intervalbut they told me she
was to be quietly married in a fortnight.

I did not attend the funeral in characterif I may venture to say
so. I mean I was not dressed up in a black coat and a streamerto
frighten the birds; but I walked over to Blunderstone early in the
morningand was in the churchyard when it cameattended only by
Peggotty and her brother. The mad gentleman looked onout of my
little window; Mr. Chillip's baby wagged its heavy headand rolled
its goggle eyesat the clergymanover its nurse's shoulder; Mr.
Omer breathed short in the background; no one else was there; and
it was very quiet. We walked about the churchyard for an hour
after all was over; and pulled some young leaves from the tree
above my mother's grave.

A dread falls on me here. A cloud is lowering on the distant town
towards which I retraced my solitary steps. I fear to approach it.
I cannot bear to think of what did comeupon that memorable night;
of what must come againif I go on.

It is no worsebecause I write of it. It would be no betterif


I stopped my most unwilling hand. It is done. Nothing can undo
it; nothing can make it otherwise than as it was.

My old nurse was to go to London with me next dayon the business
of the will. Little Emily was passing that day at Mr. Omer's. We
were all to meet in the old boathouse that night. Ham would bring
Emily at the usual hour. I would walk back at my leisure. The
brother and sister would return as they had comeand be expecting
uswhen the day closed inat the fireside.

I parted from them at the wicket-gatewhere visionary Strap had
rested with Roderick Random's knapsack in the days of yore; and
instead of going straight backwalked a little distance on the
road to Lowestoft. Then I turnedand walked back towards
Yarmouth. I stayed to dine at a decent alehousesome mile or two
from the Ferry I have mentioned before; and thus the day wore away
and it was evening when I reached it. Rain was falling heavily by
that timeand it was a wild night; but there was a moon behind the
cloudsand it was not dark.

I was soon within sight of Mr. Peggotty's houseand of the light
within it shining through the window. A little floundering across
the sandwhich was heavybrought me to the doorand I went in.

It looked very comfortable indeed. Mr. Peggotty had smoked his
evening pipe and there were preparations for some supper by and by.
The fire was brightthe ashes were thrown upthe locker was ready
for little Emily in her old place. In her own old place sat
Peggottyonce morelooking (but for her dress) as if she had
never left it. She had fallen backalreadyon the society of the
work-box with St. Paul's upon the lidthe yard-measure in the
cottageand the bit of wax-candle; and there they all werejust
as if they had never been disturbed. Mrs. Gummidge appeared to be
fretting a littlein her old corner; and consequently looked quite
naturaltoo.

'You're first of the lotMas'r Davy!' said Mr. Peggotty with a
happy face. 'Doen't keep in that coatsirif it's wet.'

'Thank youMr. Peggotty' said Igiving him my outer coat to hang
up. 'It's quite dry.'

'So 'tis!' said Mr. Peggottyfeeling my shoulders. 'As a chip!
Sit ye downsir. It ain't o' no use saying welcome to youbut
you're welcomekind and hearty.'

'Thank youMr. PeggottyI am sure of that. WellPeggotty!' said
Igiving her a kiss. 'And how are youold woman?'

'Haha!' laughed Mr. Peggottysitting down beside usand rubbing
his hands in his sense of relief from recent troubleand in the
genuine heartiness of his nature; 'there's not a woman in the
wureldsir - as I tell her - that need to feel more easy in her
mind than her! She done her dooty by the departedand the
departed know'd it; and the departed done what was right by heras
she done what was right by the departed; - and - and - and it's all
right!'

Mrs. Gummidge groaned.

'Cheer upmy pritty mawther!' said Mr. Peggotty. (But he shook
his head aside at usevidently sensible of the tendency of the
late occurrences to recall the memory of the old one.) 'Doen't be
down! Cheer upfor your own selfon'y a little bitand see if


a good deal more doen't come nat'ral!'

'Not to meDan'l' returned Mrs. Gummidge. 'Nothink's nat'ral to
me but to be lone and lorn.'

'Nono' said Mr. Peggottysoothing her sorrows.

'YesyesDan'l!' said Mrs. Gummidge. 'I ain't a person to live
with them as has had money left. Thinks go too contrary with me.
I had better be a riddance.'

'Whyhow should I ever spend it without you?' said Mr. Peggotty
with an air of serious remonstrance. 'What are you a talking on?
Doen't I want you more nowthan ever I did?'

'I know'd I was never wanted before!' cried Mrs. Gummidgewith a
pitiable whimper'and now I'm told so! How could I expect to be
wantedbeing so lone and lornand so contrary!'

Mr. Peggotty seemed very much shocked at himself for having made a
speech capable of this unfeeling constructionbut was prevented
from replyingby Peggotty's pulling his sleeveand shaking her
head. After looking at Mrs. Gummidge for some momentsin sore
distress of mindhe glanced at the Dutch clockrosesnuffed the
candleand put it in the window.

'Theer!'said Mr. Peggottycheerily.'Theer we areMissis
Gummidge!' Mrs. Gummidge slightly groaned. 'Lighted upaccordin'
to custom! You're a wonderin' what that's fursir! Wellit's
fur our little Em'ly. You seethe path ain't over light or
cheerful arter dark; and when I'm here at the hour as she's a
comin' homeI puts the light