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David Copperfield(大衛.科波維爾)

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ELECBOOK CLASSICS 
DAVID 
COPPERFIELD 

Charles Dickens 



ELECBOOK CLASSICS


ebc0004. Charles Dickens: David Copperfield


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. The Electric Book Co 1998 

The Electric Book Company Ltd 

20 Cambridge Drive, London SE12 8AJ, UK 
+44 (0)181 488 3872 www.elecbook.com 


DAVID
COPPERFIELD


THE PERSONAL HISTORY AND
EXPERIENCE OF DAVID
COPPERFIELD THE YOUNGER


CHARLES DICKENS


AFFECTIONATELY INSCRIBED TO
THE HON. Mr. AND Mrs. RICHARD WATSON,
OF ROCKINGHAM, NORTHAMPTONSHIRE.



David Copperfield 

Contents 

Click on number to go to Chapter 

Chapter 1. I AM BORN.......................................................................10 
Chapter 2. I OBSERVE......................................................................26 
Chapter 3. I HAVE A CHANGE........................................................46 
Chapter 4. I FALL INTO DISGRACE..............................................67 
Chapter 5. I AM SENT AWAY FROM HOME................................93 
Chapter 6. I ENLARGE MY CIRCLE OF 
ACQUAINTANCE ..............................................................................118 
Chapter 7. MY 『FIRST HALF』 AT SALEM HOUSE...................128 
Chapter 8. MY HOLIDAYS. ESPECIALLY ONE 
HAPPY AFTERNOON ......................................................................152 
Chapter 9. I HAVE A MEMORABLE BIRTHDAY......................173 
Chapter 10. I BECOME NEGLECTED, AND AM 
PROVIDED FOR ................................................................................189 
Chapter 11. I BEGIN LIFE ON MY OWN ACCOUNT, 
AND DON』T LIKE IT.........................................................................216 
Chapter 12. LIKING LIFE ON MY OWN ACCOUNT 
NO BETTER, I FORMA GREATRESOLUTION........................238 
Chapter 13. THE SEQUEL OF MY RESOLUTION....................251 
Chapter 14. MY AUNT MAKES UP HER MIND 
ABOUT ME..........................................................................................278 
Chapter 15. I MAKE ANOTHER BEGINNING ...........................300 
Chapter 16. I AM A NEW BOY IN MORE SENSES 

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David Copperfield 

THAN ONE..........................................................................................313 
Chapter 17. SOMEBODY TURNS UP...........................................342 
Chapter 18. A RETROSPECT.........................................................366 
Chapter 19. I LOOK ABOUT ME, AND MAKE A 

DISCOVERY .......................................................................................376 
Chapter 20. STEERFORTH』S HOME ...........................................399 
Chapter 21. LITTLE EM』LY............................................................411 
Chapter 22. SOME OLD SCENES, AND SOME NEW 

PEOPLE...............................................................................................438


Chapter 23. I CORROBORATE MR. DICK, AND 
CHOOSE A PROFESSION...............................................................468 
Chapter 24. MY FIRST DISSIPATION.........................................488 
Chapter 25. GOOD AND BAD ANGELS.......................................500 
Chapter 26. I FALL INTO CAPTIVITY.........................................527 
Chapter 27. TOMMY TRADDLES .................................................548 
Chapter 28. Mr. MICAWBER』S GAUNTLET...............................561 
Chapter 29. I VISIT STEERFORTH AT HIS HOME, 

AGAIN ..................................................................................................588 
Chapter 30. A LOSS..........................................................................598 
Chapter 31. A GREATER LOSS.....................................................609 
Chapter 32. THE BEGINNING OF A LONG 

JOURNEY............................................................................................622
Chapter 33. BLISSFUL....................................................................647
Chapter 34. MY AUNT ASTONISHES ME ..................................670


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David Copperfield 

Chapter 35. DEPRESSION..............................................................682
Chapter 36. ENTHUSIASM.............................................................710
Chapter 37. A LITTLE COLD WATER .........................................733
Chapter 38. A DISSOLUTION OF PARTNERSHIP...................744
Chapter 39. WICKFIELD AND HEEP...........................................767
Chapter 40. THE WANDERER.......................................................793
Chapter 41. DORA』S AUNTS..........................................................805
Chapter 42. MISCHIEF....................................................................827
Chapter 43. ANOTHER RETROSPECT .......................................854
Chapter 44. OUR HOUSEKEEPING.............................................865
Chapter 45. Mr. DICK FULFILS MY AUNT』S


PREDICTIONS...................................................................................886
Chapter 46. INTELLIGENCE .........................................................907
Chapter 47. MARTHA ......................................................................926
Chapter 48. DOMESTIC...................................................................941
Chapter 49. I AM INVOLVED IN MYSTERY ..............................956
Chapter 50. Mr. PEGGOTTY』S DREAM COMES


TRUE....................................................................................................973


Chapter 51. THE BEGINNING OF A LONGER
JOURNEY............................................................................................987
Chapter 52. I ASSIST AT AN EXPLOSION...............................1010
Chapter 53. ANOTHER RETROSPECT .....................................1042
Chapter 54. Mr. MICAWBER』S TRANSACTIONS ...................1049
Chapter 55. TEMPEST...................................................................1070


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David Copperfield 

Chapter 56. THE NEW WOUND, AND THE OLD....................1086
Chapter 57. THE EMIGRANTS....................................................1095
Chapter 58. ABSENCE...................................................................1110
Chapter 59. RETURN.....................................................................1119
Chapter 60. AGNES ........................................................................1141
Chapter 61. I AM SHOWN TWO INTERESTING
PENITENTS .....................................................................................1153
Chapter 62. A LIGHT SHINES ON MY WAY............................1170
Chapter 63. A VISITOR..................................................................1182
Chapter 64. A LAST RETROSPECT ...........................................1193


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David Copperfield 

PREFACE TO 1850 EDITION


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

Besides which, all that I could say of the Story, to any purpose, 
I have endeavoured to say in it. 

It would concern the reader little, perhaps, to 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 world, when a crowd of 
the creatures of his brain are going from him for ever. Yet, I have 
nothing else to tell; unless, indeed, I were to confess (which might 
be of less moment still) that no one can ever believe this Narrative, 
in the reading, more than I have believed it in the writing. 

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

London, October, 1850. 

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David Copperfield 

PREFACE TO THE CHARLES DICKENS
EDITION


Iremarked in the original Preface to this Book, that I did not 
find it easy to get sufficiently far away from it, in the first 
sensations of having finished it, to refer to it with the 
composure which this formal heading would seem to require. My 
interest in it was so recent and strong, and 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 which, all that I could have said of the Story to any 
purpose, I had endeavoured to say in it. 

It would concern the reader little, perhaps, to 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 world, when a crowd of 
the creatures of his brain are going from him for ever. Yet, I had 
nothing else to tell; unless, indeed, I were to confess (which might 
be of less moment still), that no one can ever believe this 
Narrative, in the reading, more than I believed it in the writing. 

So true are these avowals at the present day, that I can now 
only take the reader into one confidence more. Of all my books, I 
like this the best. It will be easily believed that I am a fond parent 
to every child of my fancy, and that no one can ever love that 
family as dearly as I love them. But, like many fond parents, I have 
in my heart of hearts a favourite child. And his name is DAVID 
COPPERFIELD. 1869 

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David Copperfield 

Chapter 1 

I AM BORN 

Whether I shall turn out to be the hero of my own life, or 
whether that station will be held by anybody else, these 
pages must show. To begin my life with the beginning 
of my life, I record that I was born (as I have been informed and 
believe) on a Friday, at twelve o』clock at night. It was remarked 
that the clock began to strike, and I began to cry, simultaneously. 

In consideration of the day and hour of my birth, it was 
declared by the nurse, and 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 acquainted, first, that I was destined to be unlucky in 
life; and secondly, that I was privileged to see ghosts and spirits; 
both these gifts inevitably attaching, as they believed, to all 
unlucky infants of either gender, born towards the small hours on 
a Friday night. 

I need say nothing here, on the first head, because nothing can 
show better than my history whether that prediction was verified 
or falsified by the result. On the second branch of the question, I 
will only remark, that unless I ran through that part of my 
inheritance while I was still a baby, I 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 it, he is 
heartily welcome to keep it. 

I was born with a caul, which was advertised for sale, in the 

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newspapers, at the low price of fifteen guineas. Whether sea-going 
people were short of money about that time, or were short of faith 
and preferred cork jackets, I don』t know; all I know is, that there 
was but one solitary bidding, and that was from an attorney 
connected with the bill-broking business, who offered two pounds 
in cash, and the balance in sherry, but declined to be guaranteed 
from drowning on any higher bargain. Consequently the 
advertisement was withdrawn at a dead loss—for as to sherry, my 
poor dear mother』s own sherry was in the market then—and ten 
years afterwards, the caul was put up in a raffle down in our part 
of the country, to fifty members at half-a-crown a head, the winner 
to spend five shillings. I was present myself, and I remember to 
have felt quite uncomfortable and confused, at a part of myself 
being disposed of in that way. The caul was won, I recollect, by an 
old lady with a hand-basket, who, very reluctantly, produced from 
it the stipulated five shillings, all in halfpence, and twopence 
halfpenny short—as it took an immense time and a great waste of 
arithmetic, to endeavour without any effect to prove to her. It is a 
fact which will be long remembered as remarkable down there, 
that she was never drowned, but died triumphantly in bed, at 
ninety-two. I have understood that it was, to the last, her proudest 
boast, that she never had been on the water in her life, except 
upon a bridge; and that over her tea (to which she was extremely 
partial) she, to the last, expressed her indignation at the impiety of 
mariners and others, who had the presumption to go 『meandering』 
about the world. It was in vain to represent to her that some 
conveniences, tea perhaps included, resulted from this 
objectionable practice. She always returned, with greater 
emphasis and with an instinctive knowledge of the strength of her 

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David Copperfield 

objection, 『Let us have no meandering.』 

Not to meander myself, at present, I will go back to my birth. 

I was born at Blunderstone, in Suffolk, or 『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 months, when mine opened on it. 
There is something strange to me, even now, in 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 churchyard, and of the indefinable 
compassion I used to feel for it lying out alone there in the dark 
night, when our little parlour was warm and bright with fire and 
candle, and the doors of our house were—almost cruelly, it 
seemed to me sometimes—bolted and locked against it. 

An aunt of my father』s, and consequently a great-aunt of mine, 
of whom I shall have more to relate by and by, was the principal 
magnate of our family. Miss Trotwood, or Miss Betsey, as my poor 
mother always called her, when 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 herself, 
who was very handsome, except in the sense of the homely adage, 
『handsome is, that handsome does』—for he was strongly suspected 
of having beaten Miss Betsey, and even of having once, on a 
disputed question of supplies, made 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 off, and effect a separation by mutual consent. 
He went to India with his capital, and there, according to a wild 
legend in our family, he was once seen riding on an elephant, in 
company with a Baboon; but I think it must have been a Baboo— 

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David Copperfield 

or a Begum. Anyhow, from India tidings of his death reached 
home, within ten years. How they affected my aunt, nobody knew; 
for immediately upon the separation, she took her maiden name 
again, bought a cottage in a hamlet on the sea-coast a long way off, 
established herself there as a single woman with one servant, and 
was understood to live secluded, ever afterwards, in an inflexible 
retirement. 

My father had once been a favourite of hers, I believe; but she 
was mortally affronted by his marriage, on the ground that my 
mother was 『a wax doll』. She had never seen my mother, but 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 married, and 
of but a delicate constitution. He died a year afterwards, and, as I 
have said, six months before I came into the world. 

This was the state of matters, on the afternoon of, what I may 
be excused for calling, that eventful and important Friday. I can 
make no claim therefore to have known, at that time, how matters 
stood; or to have any remembrance, founded on the evidence of 
my own senses, of what follows. 

My mother was sitting by the fire, but poorly in health, and very 
low in spirits, looking at it through her tears, and desponding 
heavily about herself and the fatherless little stranger, who was 
already welcomed by some grosses of prophetic pins, in a drawer 
upstairs, to a world not at all excited on the subject of his arrival; 
my mother, I say, was sitting by the fire, that bright, windy March 
afternoon, very timid and sad, and very doubtful of ever coming 
alive out of the trial that was before her, when, lifting her eyes as 
she dried them, to the window opposite, she saw a strange lady 
coming up the garden. 

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David Copperfield 

My mother had a sure foreboding at the second glance, that it 
was Miss Betsey. The setting sun was glowing on the strange lady, 
over the garden-fence, and 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 house, she gave another proof of her 
identity. My father had often hinted that she seldom conducted 
herself like any ordinary Christian; and now, instead of ringing the 
bell, she came and looked in at that identical window, pressing the 
end of her nose against the glass to that extent, that my poor dear 
mother used to say it became perfectly flat and white in a moment. 

She gave my mother such a turn, that 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 agitation, and gone behind 
it in the corner. Miss Betsey, looking round the room, slowly and 
inquiringly, began on the other side, and carried her eyes on, like 
a Saracen』s Head in a Dutch clock, until they reached my mother. 
Then she made a frown and a gesture to my mother, like one who 
was accustomed to be obeyed, to come and open the door. My 
mother went. 

『Mrs. David Copperfield, I think,』 said Miss Betsey; the 
emphasis referring, perhaps, to my mother』s mourning weeds, and 
her condition. 

『Yes,』 said my mother, faintly. 

『Miss Trotwood,』 said the visitor. 『You have heard of her, I dare 
say?』 

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

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been an overpowering pleasure. 

『Now you see her,』 said Miss Betsey. My mother bent her head, 
and begged her to walk in. 

They went into the parlour my mother had come from, the fire 
in the best room on the other side of the passage not being 
lighted—not having been lighted, indeed, since my father』s 
funeral; and when they were both seated, and Miss Betsey said 
nothing, my mother, after vainly trying to restrain herself, began 
to cry. 『Oh tut, tut, tut!』 said Miss Betsey, in a hurry. 『Don』t do that! 
Come, come!』 

My mother couldn』t help it notwithstanding, so she cried until 
she had had her cry out. 

『Take off your cap, child,』 said Miss Betsey, 『and let me see you.』 

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

『Why, bless my heart!』 exclaimed Miss Betsey. 『You are a very 
Baby!』 

My mother was, no doubt, unusually youthful in appearance 
even for her years; she hung her head, as if it were her fault, poor 
thing, and said, sobbing, that indeed she was afraid she was but a 
childish widow, and would be but a childish mother if she lived. In 
a short pause which ensued, she had a fancy that she felt Miss 
Betsey touch her hair, and that with no ungentle hand; but, 
looking at her, in her timid hope, she found that lady sitting with 
the skirt of her dress tucked up, her hands folded on one knee, 
and her feet upon the fender, frowning at the fire. 

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『In the name of Heaven,』 said Miss Betsey, suddenly, 『why 
Rookery?』 

『Do you mean the house, ma』am?』 asked my mother. 

『Why Rookery?』 said Miss Betsey. 『Cookery would have been 
more to the purpose, if you had had any practical ideas of life, 
either of you.』 

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

The evening wind made such a disturbance just now, among 
some tall old elm-trees at the bottom of the garden, that neither 
my mother nor Miss Betsey could forbear glancing that way. As 
the elms bent to one another, like giants who were whispering 
secrets, and after a few seconds of such repose, fell into a violent 
flurry, tossing their wild arms about, as if their late confidences 
were really too wicked for their peace of mind, some 
weatherbeaten ragged old rooks』-nests, burdening their higher 
branches, swung 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 ones, and 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 it, and takes the birds on trust, because he 
sees the nests!』 

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David Copperfield 

『Mr. Copperfield,』 returned my mother, 『is dead, and if you dare 
to speak unkindly of him to me—』 

My poor dear mother, I suppose, had some momentary 
intention of committing an assault and battery upon my aunt, who 
could easily have settled her with one hand, even 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 meekly, and fainted. 

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

『Well?』 said Miss Betsey, coming back to her chair, as 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 die, I am sure!』 

『No, no, no,』 said Miss Betsey. 『Have some tea.』 

『Oh dear me, dear me, do 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 girl, yet, ma』am,』 said my mother 
innocently. 

『Bless the Baby!』 exclaimed Miss Betsey, unconsciously quoting 
the second sentiment of the pincushion in the drawer upstairs, but 
applying it to my mother instead of me, 『I don』t mean that. I mean 
your servant-girl.』 

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『Peggotty,』 said my mother. 

『Peggotty!』 repeated Miss Betsey, with some indignation. 『Do 
you mean to say, child, that any human being has gone into a 
Christian church, and got herself named Peggotty?』 

『It』s her surname,』 said my mother, faintly. 『Mr. Copperfield 
called her by it, because her Christian name was the same as 
mine.』 

『Here! Peggotty!』 cried Miss Betsey, opening 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 house, and 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 again, and sat down as 
before: with her feet on the fender, the skirt of her dress tucked 
up, and 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 child, from 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 
birth, child, I intend to be her friend. I intend to be her godmother, 
and 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 affections, poor dear. She must be well brought 
up, and 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 head, after each of these 

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sentences, as if her own old wrongs were working within her, and 
she repressed any plainer reference to them by strong constraint. 
So my mother suspected, at least, as she observed her by the low 
glimmer of the fire: too much scared by Miss Betsey, too uneasy in 
herself, and too subdued and bewildered altogether, to observe 
anything very clearly, or to know what to say. 

『And was David good to you, child?』 asked Miss Betsey, when 
she had been silent for a little while, and 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.』 

『What, he spoilt you, I suppose?』 returned Miss Betsey. 

『For being quite alone and dependent on myself in this rough 
world again, yes, I fear he did indeed,』 sobbed my mother. 

『Well! Don』t cry!』 said Miss Betsey. 『You were not equally 
matched, child—if any two people can be equally matched—and so 
I asked the question. You were an orphan, weren』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 me, and took a 
great deal of notice of me, and paid me a good deal of attention, 
and at last proposed to me. And I accepted him. And so we were 
married,』 said my mother simply. 

『Ha! Poor Baby!』 mused Miss Betsey, with her frown still bent 
upon the fire. 『Do you know anything?』 

『I beg your pardon, ma』am,』 faltered my mother. 

『About keeping house, for instance,』 said Miss Betsey. 

『Not much, I fear,』 returned my mother. 『Not so much as I could 

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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 improved, being very anxious to 
learn, and he very patient to teach me, if the great misfortune of 
his death』—my mother broke down again here, and could get no 
farther. 

『Well, well!』 said Miss Betsey. 

—『I kept my housekeeping-book regularly, and balanced it with 
Mr. Copperfield every night,』 cried my mother in another burst of 
distress, and breaking down again. 

『Well, well!』 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 other, or to my putting curly tails to my 
sevens and nines,』 resumed my mother in another burst, and 
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 mother, though 
her increasing indisposition had a larger one. There was an 
interval of silence, only 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 money, I 
know,』 said she, by and by. 『What did he do for you?』 

『Mr. Copperfield,』 said my mother, answering with some 
difficulty, 『was so considerate and good as to secure the reversion 
of a part of it to me.』 

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『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 Peggotty, coming in with the teaboard and 
candles, and 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 Peggotty, her nephew, who had 
been for some days past secreted in the house, unknown to my 
mother, as a special messenger in case of emergency, to fetch the 
nurse and doctor. 

Those allied powers were considerably astonished, when they 
arrived within a few minutes of each other, to find an unknown 
lady of portentous appearance, sitting before the fire, with her 
bonnet tied over her left arm, stopping her ears with jewellers』 
cotton. Peggotty knowing nothing about her, and my mother 
saying nothing about her, she was quite a mystery in the parlour; 
and the fact of her having a magazine of jewellers』 cotton in her 
pocket, and sticking the article in her ears in that way, did not 
detract from the solemnity of her presence. 

The doctor having been upstairs and come down again, and 
having satisfied himself, I suppose, that there was a probability of 
this unknown lady and himself having to sit there, face to face, for 
some hours, laid himself out to be polite and social. He was the 
meekest of his sex, the mildest of little men. He sidled in and out of 
a room, to take up the less space. He walked as softly as the Ghost 
in Hamlet, and more slowly. He carried his head on one side, 
partly in modest depreciation of himself, partly in modest 

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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 gently, or half a one, or a 
fragment of one; for he spoke as slowly as he walked; but he 
wouldn』t have been rude to him, and he couldn』t have been quick 
with him, for any earthly consideration. 

Mr. Chillip, looking mildly at my aunt with his head on one side, 
and making her a little bow, said, in allusion to the jewellers』 
cotton, as he softly touched his left ear: 

『Some local irritation, ma』am?』 

『What!』 replied my aunt, pulling 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 irritation, ma』am?』 

『Nonsense!』 replied my aunt, and corked herself again, at one 
blow. 

Mr. Chillip could do nothing after this, but sit and look at her 
feebly, as she sat and looked at the fire, until he was called 
upstairs again. After some quarter of an hour』s absence, he 
returned. 

『Well?』 said my aunt, taking the cotton out of the ear nearest to 
him. 

『Well, ma』am,』 returned Mr. Chillip, 『we are—we are 
progressing slowly, ma』am.』 

『Ba—a—ah!』 said my aunt, with a perfect shake on the 
contemptuous interjection. And corked herself as before. 

Really—really—as Mr. Chillip told my mother, he was almost 

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shocked; speaking in a professional point of view alone, he was 
almost shocked. But he sat and looked at her, notwithstanding, for 
nearly two hours, as she sat looking at the fire, until he was again 
called out. After another absence, he again returned. 

『Well?』 said my aunt, taking out the cotton on that side again. 

『Well, ma』am,』 returned Mr. Chillip, 『we are—we are 
progressing 

slowly, ma』am.』 

『Ya—a—ah!』 said my aunt. With such a snarl at him, that Mr. 
Chillip absolutely could not bear it. It was really calculated to 
break his spirit, he said afterwards. He preferred to go and sit 
upon the stairs, in the dark and a strong draught, until he was 
again sent for. 

Ham Peggotty, who went to the national school, and was a very 
dragon at his catechism, and who may therefore be regarded as a 
credible witness, reported next day, that happening to peep in at 
the parlour-door an hour after this, he was instantly descried by 
Miss Betsey, then walking to and fro in a state of agitation, and 
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 exclude, from 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), she, at those times, 
shook him, rumpled his hair, made light of his linen, stopped his 
ears as if she confounded them with her own, and otherwise 
tousled and maltreated him. This was in part confirmed by his 
aunt, who saw him at half past twelve o』clock, soon after his 

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release, and 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 
liberty, and said to my aunt in his meekest manner: 

『Well, ma』am, I am happy to congratulate you.』 

『What upon?』 said my aunt, sharply. 

Mr. Chillip was fluttered again, by the extreme severity of my 
aunt』s manner; so he made her a little bow and gave her a little 
smile, to mollify her. 

『Mercy on the man, what』s he doing!』 cried my aunt, 
impatiently. 『Can』t he speak?』 

『Be calm, my dear ma』am,』 said Mr. Chillip, in his softest 
accents. 

『There is no longer any occasion for uneasiness, ma』am. Be 
calm.』 

It has since been considered almost a miracle that my aunt 
didn』t shake him, and shake what he had to say, out of him. She 
only shook her own head at him, but in a way that made him quail. 
『Well, ma』am,』 resumed Mr. Chillip, as soon as he had courage, 『I 
am happy to congratulate you. All is now over, ma』am, and well 
over.』 

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

『How is she?』 said my aunt, folding her arms with her bonnet 
still tied on one of them. 

『Well, ma』am, she will soon be quite comfortable, I hope,』 
returned Mr. Chillip. 『Quite as comfortable as we can expect a 
young mother to be, under these melancholy domestic 
circumstances. There cannot be any objection to your seeing her 

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presently, ma』am. It may do her good.』 

『And she. How is she?』 said my aunt, sharply. 

Mr. Chillip laid his head a little more on one side, and 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 word, but took her bonnet by the strings, 
in the manner of a sling, aimed a blow at Mr. Chillip』s head with it, 
put it on bent, walked out, and 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 basket, and my mother lay in her bed; but 
Betsey Trotwood Copperfield was for ever in the land of dreams 
and shadows, the 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 travellers, and the mound 
above the ashes and the dust that once was he, without whom I 
had never been. 

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Chapter 2 

I OBSERVE 

The first objects that assume a distinct presence before me, 
as I look far back, into the blank of my infancy, are my 
mother with her pretty hair and youthful shape, and 
Peggotty with no shape at all, and eyes so dark that they seemed to 
darken their whole neighbourhood in her face, and 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 floor, 
and I going unsteadily from the one to the other. I have an 
impression on my mind which I cannot distinguish from actual 
remembrance, of the touch of Peggotty』s forefinger as she used to 
hold it out to me, and of its being roughened by needlework, like a 
pocket nutmeg-grater. 

This may be fancy, though 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. 
Indeed, I think that most grown men who are remarkable in this 
respect, may with greater propriety be said not to have lost the 
faculty, than to have acquired it; the rather, as I generally observe 
such men to retain a certain freshness, and gentleness, and 
capacity of being pleased, which are also an inheritance they have 
preserved from their childhood. 

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I might have a misgiving that I am 『meandering』 in stopping to 
say this, but that it brings me to remark that I build these 
conclusions, in 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 observation, or that as a man I have a strong 
memory of my childhood, I undoubtedly lay claim to both of these 
characteristics. 

Looking back, as I was saying, into the blank of my infancy, the 
first objects I can remember as standing out by themselves from a 
confusion of things, are my mother and Peggotty. What else do I 
remember? Let me see. 

There comes out of the cloud, our house—not new to me, but 
quite familiar, in its earliest remembrance. On the ground-floor is 
Peggotty』s kitchen, opening into a back yard; with a pigeon-house 
on a pole, in the centre, without any pigeons in it; a great dog-
kennel in a corner, without any dog; and a quantity of fowls that 
look terribly tall to me, walking about, in 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 window, who makes me shiver, he 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 way, I 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 it, and 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-chests, when there is nobody in there with a dimly-
burning light, letting a mouldy air come out of the door, in which 

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there is the smell of soap, pickles, pepper, candles, and coffee, all 
at one whiff. Then there are the two parlours: the parlour in which 
we sit of an evening, my mother and I and Peggotty—for Peggotty 
is quite our companion, when her work is done and we are alone— 
and the best parlour where we sit on a Sunday; grandly, but not so 
comfortably. There is something of a doleful air about that room to 
me, for Peggotty has told me—I don』t know when, but apparently 
ages ago—about my father』s funeral, and the company having 
their black cloaks put on. One Sunday night my mother reads to 
Peggotty and me in there, how Lazarus was raised up from the 
dead. And I am so frightened that they are afterwards obliged to 
take me out of bed, and show me the quiet churchyard out of the 
bedroom window, with the dead all lying in their graves at rest, 
below the solemn moon. 

There is nothing half so green that I know anywhere, as the 
grass of that churchyard; nothing half so shady as its trees; 
nothing half so quiet as its tombstones. The sheep are feeding 
there, when I kneel up, early in the morning, in my little bed in a 
closet within my mother』s room, to look out at it; and I see the red 
light shining on the sun-dial, and think within myself, 『Is the sundial glad, I wonder, that it can tell the time again?』 

Here is our pew in the church. What a high-backed pew! With a 
window near it, out of which our house can be seen, and is seen 
many times during the morning』s service, by Peggotty, who likes 
to make herself as sure as she can that it』s not being robbed, or is 
not in flames. But though Peggotty』s eye wanders, she is much 
offended if mine does, and frowns to me, as 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 on, and I am afraid of his 

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wondering why I stare so, and perhaps stopping the service to 
inquire—and what am I to do? It』s a dreadful thing to gape, but I 
must do something. I look at my mother, but she pretends not to 
see me. I look at a boy in the aisle, and he makes faces at me. I 
look at the sunlight coming in at the open door through the porch, 
and there I see a stray sheep—I don』t mean a sinner, but mutton— 
half making up his mind to come into the church. I feel that if I 
looked at him any longer, I might be tempted to say something out 
loud; and what would become of me then! I look up at the 
monumental tablets on the wall, and try to think of Mr. Bodgers 
late of this parish, and what the feelings of Mrs. Bodgers must 
have been, when affliction sore, long time Mr. Bodgers bore, and 
physicians were in vain. I wonder whether they called in Mr. 
Chillip, and he was in vain; and if so, how he likes to be reminded 
of it once a week. I look from Mr. Chillip, in his Sunday neckcloth, 
to the pulpit; and think what a good place it would be to play in, 
and what a castle it would make, with another boy coming up the 
stairs to attack it, and having the velvet cushion with the tassels 
thrown down on his head. In time my eyes gradually shut up; and, 
from seeming to hear the clergyman singing a drowsy song in the 
heat, I hear nothing, until I fall off the seat with a crash, and am 
taken out, more dead than alive, by Peggotty. 

And now I see the outside of our house, with the latticed 
bedroom-windows standing open to let in the sweet-smelling air, 
and 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 butterflies, as I remember it, with a 
high fence, and a gate and padlock; where the fruit clusters on the 

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trees, riper and richer than fruit has ever been since, in any other 
garden, and where my mother gathers some in a basket, while I 
stand by, bolting furtive gooseberries, and trying to look unmoved. 
A great wind rises, and the summer is gone in a moment. We are 
playing in the winter twilight, dancing about the parlour. When 
my mother is out of breath and rests herself in an elbow-chair, I 
watch her winding her bright curls round her fingers, and 
straitening her waist, and nobody knows better than I do that she 
likes to look so well, and is proud of being so pretty. 

That is among my very earliest impressions. That, and a sense 
that we were both a little afraid of Peggotty, and submitted 
ourselves in most things to her direction, were 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 fire, alone. 
I had been reading to Peggotty about crocodiles. I must have read 
very perspicuously, or the poor soul must have been deeply 
interested, for I remember she had a cloudy impression, after I 
had done, that they were a sort of vegetable. I was tired of reading, 
and dead sleepy; but having leave, as a high treat, to sit up until 
my mother came home from spending the evening at a 
neighbour』s, I 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 forefingers, and looked 
perseveringly at her as she sat at work; at the little bit of wax-
candle she kept for her thread—how old it looked, being so 
wrinkled in all directions!—at the little house with a thatched roof, 
where the yard-measure lived; at her work-box with a sliding lid, 

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with a view of St. Paul』s Cathedral (with a pink dome) painted on 
the top; at the brass thimble on her finger; at herself, whom I 
thought lovely. I felt so sleepy, that I knew if I lost sight of 
anything for a moment, I was gone. 

『Peggotty,』 says I, suddenly, 『were you ever married?』 

『Lord, Master Davy,』 replied Peggotty. 『What』s put marriage in 
your head?』 

She answered with such a start, that it quite awoke me. And 
then she stopped in her work, and looked at me, with her needle 
drawn out to its thread』s length. 

『But were you ever married, Peggotty?』 says I. 『You are a very 
handsome woman, an』t you?』 

I thought her in a different style from my mother, certainly; but 
of another school of beauty, I considered her a perfect example. 
There was a red velvet footstool in the best parlour, on which my 
mother had painted a nosegay. The ground-work of that stool, and 
Peggotty』s complexion appeared to me to be one and the same 
thing. The stool was smooth, and Peggotty was rough, but that 
made no difference. 

『Me handsome, Davy!』 said Peggotty. 『Lawk, no, my dear! But 
what put marriage in your head?』 

『I don』t know!—You mustn』t marry more than one person at a 
time, may you, Peggotty?』 

『Certainly not,』 says Peggotty, with the promptest decision. 

『But if you marry a person, and the person dies, why then you 
may marry another person, mayn』t you, Peggotty?』 

『You may,』 says Peggotty, 『if you choose, my dear. That』s a 
matter of opinion.』 

『But what is your opinion, Peggotty?』 said I. 

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I asked her, and looked curiously at her, because she looked so 
curiously at me. 

『My opinion is,』 said Peggotty, taking her eyes from me, after a 
little indecision and going on with her work, 『that I never was 
married myself, Master Davy, and that I don』t expect to be. That』s 
all I know about the subject.』 

『You an』t cross, I suppose, Peggotty, are you?』 said I, after 
sitting quiet for a minute. 

I really thought she was, she 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 wide, took my curly 
head within them, and gave it a good squeeze. I know it was a 
good squeeze, because, being very plump, whenever she made any 
little exertion after she was dressed, some of the buttons on the 
back of her gown flew off. And I recollect two bursting to the 
opposite side of the parlour, while 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 queer, or 
why she was so ready to go back to the crocodiles. However, we 
returned to those monsters, with fresh wakefulness on my part, 
and we left their eggs in the sand for the sun to hatch; and we ran 
away from them, and baffled them by constantly turning, which 
they were unable to do quickly, on account of their unwieldy 
make; and we went into the water after them, as natives, and put 
sharp pieces of timber down their throats; and in short we ran the 
whole crocodile gauntlet. I did, at least; but I had my doubts of 
Peggotty, who was thoughtfully sticking her needle into various 

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parts of her face and arms, all the time. 

We had exhausted the crocodiles, and begun with the alligators, 
when the garden-bell rang. We went out to the door; and there 
was my mother, looking unusually pretty, I thought, and with her 
a gentleman with beautiful black hair and whiskers, who 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 me, the gentleman said I was a more highly 
privileged little fellow than a monarch—or something like that; for 
my later understanding comes, I am sensible, to my aid here. 

『What does that mean?』 I asked him, over her shoulder. 

He patted me on the head; but somehow, I didn』t like him or his 
deep voice, and I was jealous that his hand should touch my 
mother』s in touching me—which it did. I put it away, as well as I 
could. 

『Oh, Davy!』 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; and, keeping me close to her 
shawl, turned to thank the gentleman for taking so much trouble 
as to bring her home. She put out her hand to him as she spoke, 
and, as he met it with his own, she glanced, I thought, at me. 

『Let us say 「good night」, my fine boy,』 said the gentleman, 
when 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 
gentleman, laughing. 『Shake hands!』 

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My right hand was in my mother』s left, so I gave him the other. 

『Why, that』s the wrong hand, Davy!』 laughed the gentleman. 

My mother drew my right hand forward, but I was resolved, for 
my former reason, not to give it him, and I did not. I gave him the 
other, and he shook it heartily, and said I was a brave fellow, and 
went away. 

At this minute I see him turn round in the garden, and give us a 
last look with his ill-omened black eyes, before the door was shut. 

Peggotty, who had not said a word or moved a finger, secured 
the fastenings instantly, and we all went into the parlour. My 
mother, contrary to her usual habit, instead of coming to the 
elbow-chair by the fire, remained at the other end of the room, and 
sat singing to herself. 

—『Hope you have had a pleasant evening, ma』am,』 said 
Peggotty, standing as stiff as a barrel in the centre of the room, 
with a candlestick in her hand. 

『Much obliged to you, Peggotty,』 returned my mother, in a 
cheerful voice, 『I have had a very pleasant evening.』 

『A stranger or so makes an agreeable change,』 suggested 
Peggotty. 

『A very agreeable change, indeed,』 returned my mother. 

Peggotty continuing to stand motionless in the middle of the 
room, and my mother resuming her singing, I fell asleep, though I 
was not so sound asleep but that I could hear voices, without 
hearing what they said. When I half awoke from this 
uncomfortable doze, I found Peggotty and my mother both in 
tears, and both talking. 『Not such a one as this, Mr. Copperfield 
wouldn』t have liked,』 said Peggotty. 『That I say, and that I swear!』 

『Good Heavens!』 cried my mother, 『you』ll drive me mad! Was 

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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 
married, Peggotty?』 

『God knows you have, ma』am,』 returned Peggotty. 『Then, how 
can you dare,』 said my mother—『you know I don』t mean how can 
you dare, Peggotty, but how can you have the heart—to make me 
so uncomfortable and say such bitter things to me, when you are 
well aware that I haven』t, out of this place, a 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 mother, shedding 
more tears than before, 『as to talk in such an unjust manner! How 
can you go on as if it was all settled and arranged, Peggotty, when 
I tell you over and over again, you cruel thing, that 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 sentiment, 
is it my fault? What am I to do, I ask you? Would you wish me to 
shave my head and black my face, or disfigure myself with a burn, 
or a scald, or something of that sort? I dare say you would, 
Peggotty. I dare say you』d quite enjoy it.』 

Peggotty seemed to take this aspersion very much to heart, I 
thought. 

『And my dear boy,』 cried my mother, coming to the elbow-chair 
in which I was, and caressing me, 『my own little Davy! Is it to be 
hinted to me that I am wanting in affection for my precious 
treasure, the dearest little fellow that ever was!』 

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『Nobody never went and hinted no such a thing,』 said Peggotty. 

『You did, Peggotty!』 returned my mother. 『You know you did. 
What else was it possible to infer from what you said, you unkind 
creature, when you know as well as I do, that on his account only 
last quarter I wouldn』t buy myself a new parasol, though that old 
green one is frayed the whole way up, and the fringe is perfectly 
mangy? You know it is, Peggotty. You can』t deny it.』 Then, turning 
affectionately to me, with her cheek against mine, 『Am I a naughty 
mama to you, Davy? Am I a nasty, cruel, selfish, bad mama? Say I 
am, my child; say 「yes」, dear boy, and Peggotty will love you; and 
Peggotty』s love is a great deal better than mine, Davy. I don』t love 
you at all, do I?』 

At this, we all fell a-crying together. I think I was the loudest of 
the party, but I am sure we were all sincere about it. I was quite 
heart-broken myself, and am afraid that in the first transports of 
wounded tenderness I called Peggotty a 『Beast』. That honest 
creature was in deep affliction, I remember, and must have 
become quite buttonless on the occasion; for a little volley of those 
explosives went off, when, after having made it up with my 
mother, she kneeled down by the elbow-chair, and made it up with 
me. 

We went to bed greatly dejected. My sobs kept waking me, for a 
long time; and when one very strong sob quite hoisted me up in 
bed, I found my mother sitting on the coverlet, and leaning over 
me. I fell asleep in her arms, after that, and 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 
reappeared, I cannot recall. I don』t profess to be clear about dates. 
But there he was, in church, and he walked home with us 

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afterwards. He came in, too, to look at a famous geranium we had, 
in the parlour-window. It did not appear to me that he took much 
notice of it, but before he went he asked my mother to give him a 
bit of the blossom. She begged him to choose it for himself, but he 
refused to do that—I could not understand why—so she plucked it 
for him, and 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 us, of an evening, than she had 
always been. My mother deferred to her very much—more than 
usual, it occurred to me—and we were all three excellent friends; 
still we were different from what we used to be, and 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 drawers, or to her going so often to visit at that 
neighbour』s; but I couldn』t, to my satisfaction, make out how it 
was. 

Gradually, I became used to seeing the gentleman with the 
black whiskers. I liked him no better than at first, and had the 
same uneasy jealousy of him; but if I had any reason for it beyond 
a child』s instinctive dislike, and a general idea that Peggotty and I 
could make much of my mother without any help, it certainly was 
not the reason that I might have found if I had been older. No such 
thing came into my mind, or near it. I could observe, in little 
pieces, as it were; but as to making a net of a number of these 
pieces, and catching anybody in it, that was, as yet, beyond me. 

One autumn morning I was with my mother in the front 
garden, when Mr. Murdstone—I knew him by that name now— 
came by, on horseback. He reined up his horse to salute my 

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mother, and said he was going to Lowestoft to see some friends 
who were there with a yacht, and merrily proposed to take me on 
the saddle before him if I would like the ride. 

The air was so clear and pleasant, and the horse seemed to like 
the idea of the ride so much himself, as he stood snorting and 
pawing at the garden-gate, that I had a great desire to go. So I was 
sent upstairs to Peggotty to be made spruce; and in the meantime 
Mr. Murdstone dismounted, and, with his horse』s bridle drawn 
over his arm, walked slowly up and down on the outer side of the 
sweetbriar fence, while 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 them, as they 
strolled along; and how, from being in a perfectly angelic temper, 
Peggotty turned cross in a moment, and brushed my hair the 
wrong way, excessively hard. 

Mr. Murdstone and I were soon off, and trotting along on the 
green turf by the side of the road. He held me quite easily with one 
arm, and 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 
sometimes, and 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—which, when it is abstracted, seems 
from some peculiarity of light to be disfigured, for a moment at a 
time, by a cast. Several times when I glanced at him, I observed 
that appearance with a sort of awe, and wondered what he was 
thinking about so closely. His hair and whiskers were blacker and 
thicker, looked at so near, than even I had given them credit for 
being. A squareness about the lower part of his face, and the 

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dotted indication of the strong black beard he shaved close every 
day, reminded me of the wax-work that had travelled into our 
neighbourhood some half-a-year before. This, his regular 
eyebrows, and the rich white, and black, and brown, of his 
complexion—confound his complexion, and his memory!—made 
me think him, in spite of my misgivings, a very handsome man. I 
have no doubt that my poor dear mother thought him so too. 

We went to an hotel by the sea, where two gentlemen were 
smoking cigars in a room by themselves. Each of them was lying 
on at least four chairs, and had a large rough jacket on. In a corner 
was a heap of coats and boat-cloaks, and a flag, all bundled up 
together. 

They both rolled on to their feet in an untidy sort of manner, 
when we came in, and said, 『Halloa, Murdstone! We thought you 
were dead!』 

『Not yet,』 said Mr. Murdstone. 

『And who』s this shaver?』 said one of the gentlemen, taking 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 care, if you please. 
Somebody』s sharp.』 

『Who is?』 asked the gentleman, laughing. I looked up, quickly; 
being curious to know. 

『Only Brooks of Sheffield,』 said Mr. Murdstone. 

I was quite relieved to find that it was only Brooks of Sheffield; 

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for, at first, I really thought it was I. 

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

『And what is the opinion of Brooks of Sheffield, in reference to 
the projected business?』 

『Why, I don』t know that Brooks understands much about it at 
present,』 replied Mr. Murdstone; 『but he is not generally 
favourable, I believe.』 

There was more laughter at this, and Mr. Quinion said he 
would ring the bell for some sherry in which to drink to Brooks. 
This he did; and when the wine came, he made me have a little, 
with a biscuit, and, before I drank it, stand up and say, 『Confusion 
to Brooks of Sheffield!』 The toast was received with great 
applause, and such hearty laughter that it made me laugh too; at 
which they laughed the more. In short, we quite enjoyed 
ourselves. 

We walked about on the cliff after that, and sat on the grass, 
and looked at things through a telescope—I could make out 
nothing myself when it was put to my eye, but I pretended I 
could—and then we came back to the hotel to an early dinner. All 
the time we were out, the two gentlemen smoked incessantly— 
which, I thought, if I might judge from the smell of their rough 
coats, they must have been doing, ever since the coats had first 
come home from the tailor』s. I must not forget that we went on 
board the yacht, where they all three descended into the cabin, 
and were busy with some papers. I saw them quite hard at work, 

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when I looked down through the open skylight. They left me, 
during this time, with a very nice man with a very large head of 
red hair and a very small shiny hat upon it, who had got a cross-
barred shirt or waistcoat on, with 『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 on, he put it there 
instead; but when I called him Mr. Skylark, he 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 another, but seldom with him. It appeared to 
me that he was more clever and cold than they were, and that they 
regarded him with something of my own feeling. I remarked that, 
once or twice when Mr. Quinion was talking, he looked at Mr. 
Murdstone sideways, as if to make sure of his not being 
displeased; and that once when Mr. Passnidge (the other 
gentleman) was in high spirits, he trod upon his foot, and gave him 
a secret caution with his eyes, to observe Mr. Murdstone, who was 
sitting stern and silent. Nor do I recollect that Mr. Murdstone 
laughed at all that day, except at the Sheffield joke—and that, by 
the by, was his own. 

We went home early in the evening. It was a very fine evening, 
and my mother and he had another stroll by the sweetbriar, while 
I was sent in to get my tea. When he was gone, my mother asked 
me all about the day I had had, and what they had said and done. I 
mentioned what they had said about her, and she laughed, and 
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. 

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Brooks of Sheffield, but she answered No, only 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 gone, when here it comes before 
me at this instant, as distinct as any face that I may choose to look 
on in a crowded street? Can I say of her innocent and girlish 
beauty, that it faded, and was no more, when its breath falls on my 
cheek now, as it fell that night? Can I say she ever changed, when 
my remembrance brings her back to life, thus only; and, truer to 
its loving youth than I have been, or 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 
talk, and she came to bid me good night. She kneeled down 
playfully by the side of the bed, and laying her chin upon her 
hands, and laughing, said: 

『What was it they said, Davy? 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 said, laughing. 『It never could 
have been bewitching, Davy. Now I know it wasn』t!』 

『Yes, it was. 「Bewitching Mrs. Copperfield」,』 I repeated stoutly. 
『And, 「pretty.」』 

『No, no, it was never pretty. Not pretty,』 interposed my mother, 
laying her fingers on my lips again. 

『Yes it was. 「Pretty little widow.」』 

『What foolish, impudent creatures!』 cried my mother, laughing 
and covering her face. 『What ridiculous men! An』t they? Davy 
dear—』 

『Well, Ma.』 

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『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 promised, of course; and we kissed one another over and over 
again, and I soon fell fast asleep. 

It seems to me, at this distance of time, as 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 before, one evening (when my mother was 
out as before), in company with the stocking and the yard-
measure, and the bit of wax, and the box with St. Paul』s on the lid, 
and the crocodile book, when Peggotty, after looking at me several 
times, and opening her mouth as if she were going to speak, 
without doing it—which I thought was merely gaping, or I should 
have been rather alarmed—said coaxingly: 

『Master Davy, how 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 man, Peggotty?』 I inquired, 
provisionally. 

『Oh, what an agreeable man he is!』 cried Peggotty, holding 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 Ham, mentioned in my first 
chapter; but she spoke of him as a morsel of English Grammar. 

I was flushed by her summary of delights, and replied that it 
would indeed be a treat, but what would my mother say? 

『Why then I』ll as good as bet a guinea,』 said Peggotty, intent 

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upon my face, 『that she』ll let us go. I』ll ask her, if you like, as soon 
as ever she comes home. There now!』 

『But what』s she to do while we』re away?』 said I, putting my 
small elbows on the table to argue the point. 『She can』t live by 
herself.』 

If Peggotty were looking for a hole, all of a sudden, in the heel 
of that stocking, it must have been a very little one indeed, and not 
worth darning. 

『I say! Peggotty! She can』t live by herself, you know.』 

『Oh, bless you!』 said Peggotty, looking 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 it, I was quite ready to go. I waited, in the 
utmost impatience, until 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 expected, my mother entered into it 
readily; and it was all arranged that night, and 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 soon, even to me, who was in a fever of expectation, and 
half afraid that an earthquake or a fiery mountain, or some other 
great convulsion of nature, might interpose to stop the expedition. 
We were to go in a carrier』s cart, which departed in the morning 
after breakfast. I would have given any money to have been 
allowed to wrap myself up over-night, and sleep in my hat and 
boots. 

It touches me nearly now, although I tell it lightly, to recollect 
how eager I was to leave my happy home; to think how little I 

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suspected what I did leave for ever. 

I am glad to recollect that when the carrier』s cart was at the 
gate, and my mother stood there kissing me, a 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 too, 
and that I felt her heart beat against mine. 

I am glad to recollect that when the carrier began to move, my 
mother ran out at the gate, and called to him to stop, that she 
might kiss me once more. I am glad to dwell upon the earnestness 
and love with which she lifted up her face to mine, and did so. 

As we left her standing in the road, Mr. Murdstone came up to 
where she was, and seemed to expostulate with her for being so 
moved. I was looking back round the awning of the cart, and 
wondered what business it was of his. Peggotty, who was also 
looking back on the other side, seemed anything but satisfied; as 
the face she brought back in the cart denoted. 

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

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Chapter 3 

I HAVE A CHANGE 

The carrier』s horse was the laziest horse in the world, I 
should hope, and shuffled along, with his head down, as if 
he liked to keep people waiting to whom the packages 
were directed. I fancied, indeed, that 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 
down, like his horse, and of drooping sleepily forward as he drove, 
with 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 him, for the horse did all that; and as to conversation, he 
had no idea of it but whistling. 

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

We made so many deviations up and down lanes, and were 
such a long time delivering a bedstead at a public-house, and 
calling at other places, that I was quite tired, and very glad, when 
we saw Yarmouth. It looked rather spongy and soppy, I thought, 
as I carried my eye over the great dull waste that lay across the 
river; and I could not help wondering, if the world were really as 

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round as my geography book said, how 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 nearer, and saw the whole adjacent prospect 
lying a straight low line under the sky, I 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 sea, and the town and the 
tide had not been quite so much mixed up, like toast and water, it 
would have been nicer. But Peggotty said, with greater emphasis 
than usual, that we must take things as we found them, and that, 
for her part, she was proud to call herself a Yarmouth Bloater. 

When we got into the street (which was strange enough to me) 
and smelt the fish, and pitch, and oakum, and tar, and saw the 
sailors walking about, and 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 Peggotty, who heard my expressions of delight with 
great complacency, and told me it was well known (I suppose to 
those who had the good fortune to be born Bloaters) that 
Yarmouth was, upon the whole, the finest place in the universe. 

『Here』s my Am!』 screamed Peggotty, 『growed out of knowledge!』 

He was waiting for us, in fact, at the public-house; and asked 
me how I found myself, like an old acquaintance. I did not feel, at 
first, that I knew him as well as he knew me, because he had never 
come to our house since the night I was born, and 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 was, now, a huge, 
strong fellow of six feet high, broad in proportion, and 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 

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jacket, and a pair of such very stiff trousers that they would have 
stood quite as well alone, without any legs in them. And you 
couldn』t so properly have said he wore a hat, as that he was 
covered in a-top, like an old building, with something pitchy. 

Ham carrying me on his back and a small box of ours under his 
arm, and Peggotty carrying another small box of ours, we turned 
down lanes bestrewn with bits of chips and little hillocks of sand, 
and went past gas-works, rope-walks, boat-builders』 yards, 
shipwrights』 yards, ship-breakers』 yards, caulkers』 yards, riggers』 
lofts, smiths』 forges, and a great litter of such places, until we came 
out upon the dull waste I had already seen at a distance; when 
Ham said, 

『Yon』s our house, Mas』r Davy!』 

I looked in all directions, as far as I could stare over the 
wilderness, and away at the sea, and away at the river, but no 
house could I make out. There was a black barge, or some other 
kind of superannuated boat, not far off, high and dry on the 
ground, with 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 it, Mas』r Davy,』 returned Ham. 

If it had been Aladdin』s palace, roc』s egg and all, I suppose I 
could not have been more charmed with the romantic idea of 
living in it. There was a delightful door cut in the side, and it was 
roofed in, and there were little windows in it; but the wonderful 
charm of it was, that it was a real boat which had no doubt been 
upon the water hundreds of times, and which had never been 
intended to be lived in, on dry land. That was the captivation of it 

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to me. If it had ever been meant to be lived in, I might have 
thought it small, or inconvenient, or lonely; but never having been 
designed for any such use, it became a perfect abode. 

It was beautifully clean inside, and as tidy as possible. There 
was a table, and a Dutch clock, and a chest of drawers, and on the 
chest of drawers there was a tea-tray with a painting on it of a lady 
with a parasol, taking a walk with a military-looking child who was 
trundling a hoop. The tray was kept from tumbling down, by a 
bible; and the tray, if it had tumbled down, would 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 
pictures, framed and glazed, of scripture subjects; such as I have 
never seen since in the hands of pedlars, without seeing the whole 
interior of Peggotty』s brother』s house again, at one view. Abraham 
in red going to sacrifice Isaac in blue, and Daniel in yellow cast 
into a den of green lions, were the most prominent of these. Over 
the little mantelshelf, was a picture of the 『Sarah Jane』 lugger, 
built at Sunderland, with a real little wooden stern stuck on to it; a 
work of art, combining composition with carpentry, which I 
considered to be one of the most enviable possessions that the 
world could afford. There were some hooks in the beams of the 
ceiling, the use of which I did not divine then; and some lockers 
and boxes and conveniences of that sort, which served for seats 
and eked out the chairs. 

All this I saw in the first glance after I crossed the threshold— 
child-like, according 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 window, where the rudder used to go through; a little 

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looking-glass, just the right height for me, nailed against the wall, 
and framed with oyster-shells; a little bed, which 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 milk, and 
the patchwork counterpane made my eyes quite ache with its 
brightness. One thing I particularly noticed in this delightful 
house, was the smell of fish; which was so searching, that when I 
took out my pocket-handkerchief to wipe my nose, I found it smelt 
exactly as if it had wrapped up a lobster. On my imparting this 
discovery in confidence to Peggotty, she informed me that her 
brother dealt in lobsters, crabs, and crawfish; and I afterwards 
found that a heap of these creatures, in a state of wonderful 
conglomeration with one another, and never leaving off pinching 
whatever they laid hold of, were 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 apron, 
whom I had seen curtseying at the door when I was on Ham』s 
back, about a quarter of a mile off. Likewise by a most beautiful 
little girl (or I thought her so) with a necklace of blue beads on, 
who wouldn』t let me kiss her when I offered to, but ran away and 
hid herself. By and by, when we had dined in a sumptuous 
manner off boiled dabs, melted butter, and potatoes, with a chop 
for me, a hairy man with a very good-natured face came home. As 
he called Peggotty 『Lass』, and gave her a hearty smack on the 
cheek, I had no doubt, from the general propriety of her conduct, 
that he was her brother; and so he turned out—being presently 
introduced to me as Mr. Peggotty, the master of the house. 

『Glad to see you, sir,』 said Mr. Peggotty. 『You』ll find us rough, 
sir, but you』ll find us ready.』 

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I thanked him, and replied that I was sure I should be happy in 
such a delightful place. 

『How』s your Ma, sir?』 said Mr. Peggotty. 『Did you leave her 
pretty jolly?』 

I gave Mr. Peggotty to understand that she was as jolly as I 
could wish, and that she desired her compliments—which was a 
polite fiction on my part. 

『I』m much obleeged to her, I』m sure,』 said Mr. Peggotty. 『Well, 
sir, if you can make out here, fur a fortnut, 』long wi』 her,』 nodding 
at his sister, 『and Ham, and little Em』ly, we shall be proud of your 
company.』 

Having done the honours of his house in this hospitable 
manner, Mr. Peggotty went out to wash himself in a kettleful of 
hot water, remarking that 『cold would never get his muck off』. He 
soon returned, greatly improved in appearance; but so rubicund, 
that I couldn』t help thinking his face had this in common with the 
lobsters, crabs, and crawfish,—that it went into the hot water very 
black, and came out very red. 

After tea, when 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 sea, to know that the fog was 
creeping over the desolate flat outside, and to look at the fire, and 
think that there was no house near but this one, and this one a 
boat, was like enchantment. Little Em』ly had overcome her 
shyness, and was sitting by my side upon the lowest and least of 
the lockers, which was just large enough for us two, and just fitted 
into the chimney corner. Mrs. Peggotty with the white apron, was 
knitting on the opposite side of the fire. Peggotty at her 

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needlework was as much at home with St. Paul』s and the bit of 
wax-candle, as if they had never known any other roof. Ham, who 
had been giving me my first lesson in all-fours, was trying to 
recollect a scheme of telling fortunes with the dirty cards, and 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 Ham, because you lived in a 
sort of ark?』 

Mr. Peggotty seemed to think it a deep idea, but answered: 

『No, sir. I never giv him no name.』 

『Who gave him that name, then?』 said I, putting question 
number two of the catechism to Mr. Peggotty. 

『Why, sir, his father giv it him,』 said Mr. Peggotty. 

『I thought you were his father!』 

『My brother Joe was his father,』 said Mr. Peggotty. 

『Dead, Mr. Peggotty?』 I hinted, after 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 know, that I 
made up my mind to have it out with Mr. Peggotty. 

『Little Em』ly,』 I said, glancing at her. 『She is your daughter, isn』t 
she, Mr. Peggotty?』 

『No, sir. My brother-in-law, Tom, was her father.』 

I couldn』t help it. 『—Dead, Mr. Peggotty?』 I hinted, after 
another respectful silence. 

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『Drowndead,』 said Mr. Peggotty. 

I felt the difficulty of resuming the subject, but had not got to 
the bottom of it yet, and must get to the bottom somehow. So I 
said: 

『Haven』t you any children, Mr. Peggotty?』 

『No, master,』 he answered with a short laugh. 『I』m a 
bacheldore.』 

『A bachelor!』 I said, astonished. 『Why, who』s that, Mr. 
Peggotty?』 pointing to the person in the apron who was knitting. 

『That』s Missis Gummidge,』 said Mr. Peggotty. 

『Gummidge, Mr. Peggotty?』 

But at this point Peggotty—I mean my own peculiar Peggotty— 
made such impressive motions to me not to ask any more 
questions, that I could only sit and look at all the silent company, 
until it was time to go to bed. Then, in 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 boat, who had died 
very poor. He was but a poor man himself, said Peggotty, but as 
good as gold and as true as steel—those were her similes. The only 
subject, she informed me, on which he ever showed a violent 
temper or swore an oath, was this generosity of his; and if it were 
ever referred to, by any one of them, he 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 good, if it was ever mentioned again. It appeared, in 
answer to my inquiries, that nobody had the least idea of the 
etymology of this terrible verb passive to be gormed; but that they 

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all regarded it as constituting a most solemn imprecation. 

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

Nothing happened, however, worse 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』ly, picking up stones upon the 
beach. 

『You』re quite a sailor, I suppose?』 I said to Em』ly. I don』t know 
that I supposed anything of the kind, but I felt it an act of gallantry 
to say something; and a shining sail close to us made such a pretty 
little image of itself, at the moment, in her bright eye, that it came 
into my head to say this. 

『No,』 replied Em』ly, shaking her head, 『I』m afraid of the sea.』 

『Afraid!』 I said, with a becoming air of boldness, and 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 one, I 

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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 
imaginable, and lived so then, and always meant to live so; and 
how my father』s grave was in the churchyard near our house, and 
shaded by a tree, beneath 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 mine, it 
appeared. She had lost her mother before her father; and where 
her father』s grave was no one knew, except that it was somewhere 
in the depths of the sea. 

『Besides,』 said Em』ly, as 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. Peggotty, is he?』 said I. 

『Uncle Dan—yonder,』 answered Em』ly, nodding at the boathouse. 

『Yes. I mean him. He must be very good, I should think?』 

『Good?』 said Em』ly. 『If I was ever to be a lady, I』d give him a sky-
blue coat with diamond buttons, nankeen trousers, a red velvet 
waistcoat, a cocked hat, a large gold watch, a silver pipe, and 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 

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little niece, and 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 articles, as if they were a glorious vision. We 
went on again, picking up shells and pebbles. 

『You would like to be a lady?』 I said. 

Emily looked at me, and laughed and nodded 『yes』. 

『I should like it very much. We would all be gentlefolks 
together, then. Me, and uncle, and Ham, and Mrs. Gummidge. We 
wouldn』t mind then, when there comes stormy weather.—Not for 
our own sakes, I mean. We would for the poor fishermen』s, to be 
sure, and 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 it, and little Em』ly was emboldened to say, shyly, 

『Don』t you think you are afraid of the sea, now?』 

It was quiet enough to reassure me, but I have no doubt if I had 
seen a moderately large wave come tumbling in, I should have 
taken to my heels, with an awful recollection of her drowned 
relations. However, I 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 upon, and I was afraid of her falling over. 

『I』m not afraid in this way,』 said little Em』ly. 『But I wake when it 
blows, and 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 side, and ran along a jagged timber which 
protruded from the place we stood upon, and overhung the deep 

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water at some height, without the least defence. The incident is so 
impressed on my remembrance, that if I were a draughtsman I 
could draw its form here, I dare say, accurately as it was that day, 
and little Em』ly springing forward to her destruction (as it 
appeared to me), with a look that I have never forgotten, directed 
far out to sea. 

The light, bold, fluttering little figure turned and came back 
safe to me, and I soon laughed at my fears, and at the cry I had 
uttered; fruitlessly in any case, for there was no one near. But 
there have been times since, in my manhood, many times there 
have been, when I have thought, Is it possible, among the 
possibilities of hidden things, that in the sudden rashness of the 
child and her wild look so far off, there was any merciful attraction 
of her into danger, any tempting her towards him permitted on the 
part of her dead father, that her life might have a chance of ending 
that day? There has been a time since when I have wondered 
whether, if the life before her could have been revealed to me at a 
glance, and so revealed as that a child could fully comprehend it, 
and if her preservation could have depended on a motion of my 
hand, I ought to have held it up to save her. There has been a time 
since—I do not say it lasted long, but it has been—when I have 
asked myself the question, would 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 Yes, it would have been. 

This may be premature. I have set it down too soon, perhaps. 
But let it stand. 

We strolled a long way, and loaded ourselves with things that 
we thought curious, and put some stranded starfish carefully back 
into the water—I hardly know enough of the race at this moment 

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to be quite certain whether they had reason to feel obliged to us 
for doing so, or 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 kiss, and went in to breakfast 
glowing with health and pleasure. 

『Like two young mavishes,』 Mr. Peggotty said. I knew this 
meant, in our local dialect, like two young thrushes, and received 
it as a compliment. 

Of course I was in love with little Em』ly. I am sure I loved that 
baby quite as truly, quite as tenderly, with greater purity and more 
disinterestedness, than can enter into the best love of a later time 
of life, high and ennobling as it is. I am sure my fancy raised up 
something round that blue-eyed mite of a child, which 
etherealized, and made a very angel of her. If, any sunny forenoon, 
she had spread a little pair of wings and flown away before my 
eyes, I 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 
manner, hours and hours. The days sported by us, as if Time had 
not grown up himself yet, but were a child too, and always at play. 
I told Em』ly I adored her, and that unless she confessed she 
adored me I should be reduced to the necessity of killing myself 
with a sword. She said she did, and I have no doubt she did. 

As to any sense of inequality, or youthfulness, or other difficulty 
in our way, little Em』ly and I had no such trouble, because we had 
no future. We made no more provision for growing older, than we 
did for growing younger. We were the admiration of Mrs. 
Gummidge and Peggotty, who used to whisper of an evening when 
we sat, lovingly, on our little locker side by side, 『Lor! wasn』t it 

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beautiful!』 Mr. Peggotty smiled at us from behind his pipe, and 
Ham grinned all the evening and did nothing else. They had 
something of the sort of pleasure in us, I suppose, that they might 
have had in a pretty toy, or 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 do, under 
the circumstances of her residence with Mr. Peggotty. Mrs. 
Gummidge』s was rather a fretful disposition, and 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 agreeable, I thought, if 
Mrs. Gummidge had had a convenient apartment of her own to 
retire to, and had stopped there until her spirits revived. 

Mr. Peggotty went occasionally to a public-house called The 
Willing Mind. I discovered this, by his being out on the second or 
third evening of our visit, and by Mrs. Gummidge』s looking up at 
the Dutch clock, between eight and nine, and saying he was there, 
and that, what was more, she had known in the morning he would 
go there. 

Mrs. Gummidge had been in a low state all day, and had burst 
into tears in the forenoon, when the fire smoked. 『I am a lone lorn 
creetur』,』 were Mrs. Gummidge』s words, when that unpleasant 
occurrence took place, 『and everythink goes contrary with me.』 

『Oh, it』ll soon leave off,』 said Peggotty—I again mean our 
Peggotty—『and besides, you know, it』s not more disagreeable to 
you than to us.』 

『I feel it more,』 said Mrs. Gummidge. 

It was a very cold day, with cutting blasts of wind. Mrs. 
Gummidge』s peculiar corner of the fireside seemed to me to be the 

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warmest and snuggest in the place, as her chair was certainly the 
easiest, but it didn』t suit her that day at all. She was constantly 
complaining of the cold, and of its occasioning a visitation in her 
back which she called 『the creeps』. At last she shed tears on that 
subject, and 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 me, to whom the preference was given as a 
visitor of distinction. The fish were small and bony, and 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 did, and shed tears again, and made that former 
declaration with great bitterness. 

Accordingly, when Mr. Peggotty came home about nine o』clock, 
this unfortunate Mrs. Gummidge was knitting in her corner, in a 
very wretched and miserable condition. Peggotty had been 
working cheerfully. Ham had been patching up a great pair of 
waterboots; and I, with little Em』ly by my side, had been reading 
to them. Mrs. Gummidge had never made any other remark than a 
forlorn sigh, and had never raised her eyes since tea. 

『Well, Mates,』 said Mr. Peggotty, taking his seat, 『and how are 
you?』 

We all said something, or looked something, to welcome him, 
except Mrs. Gummidge, who only shook her head over her 
knitting. 

『What』s amiss?』 said Mr. Peggotty, with a clap of his hands. 

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『Cheer up, old 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 pocket, kept it out, and wiped them again, and 
still kept it out, ready for use. 

『What』s amiss, dame?』 said Mr. Peggotty. 

『Nothing,』 returned Mrs. Gummidge. 『You』ve come from The 
Willing Mind, Dan』l?』 

『Why yes, I』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. Gummidge, shaking her head, and 
wiping her eyes. 『Yes, yes, very 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.』 

『Yes, yes, it 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 me, but that I go contrary with everybody. Yes, yes. 
I feel more than other people do, and I show it more. It』s my 
misfortun』.』 

I really couldn』t help thinking, as I sat taking in all this, that the 
misfortune extended to some other members of that family besides 
Mrs. Gummidge. But Mr. Peggotty made no such retort, only 
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 

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contrary. I feel my troubles, and they make me contrary. I wish I 
didn』t feel 』em, but I do. I wish I could be hardened to 』em, but I 
an』t. I make the house uncomfortable. I don』t wonder at it. I』ve 
made your sister so all day, and Master Davy.』 

Here I was suddenly melted, and roared out, 『No, you haven』t, 
Mrs. 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 me, and I must go contrary myself, 
let me go contrary in my parish. Dan』l, I』d better go into the house, 
and die and be a riddance!』 

Mrs. Gummidge retired with these words, and betook herself to 
bed. When she was gone, Mr. Peggotty, who had not exhibited a 
trace of any feeling but the profoundest sympathy, looked round 
upon us, and nodding his head with a lively expression of that 
sentiment still animating his face, said 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 upon, until Peggotty, on 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 
occasions, and that it always had a moving effect upon him. Some 
time after he was in his hammock that night, I 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 
circumstance, and always with the tenderest commiseration. 

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So the fortnight slipped away, varied by nothing but the 
variation of the tide, which altered Mr. Peggotty』s times of going 
out and coming in, and altered Ham』s engagements also. When the 
latter was unemployed, he sometimes walked with us to show us 
the boats and ships, and 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 another, though I believe 
this obtains with most people, in reference especially to the 
associations of their childhood. I never hear the name, or read the 
name, of Yarmouth, but I am reminded of a certain Sunday 
morning on the beach, the bells ringing for church, little Em』ly 
leaning on my shoulder, Ham lazily dropping stones into the 
water, and the sun, away at sea, just breaking through the heavy 
mist, and showing us the ships, like their own shadows. 

At last the day came for going home. I bore up against the 
separation from Mr. Peggotty and Mrs. Gummidge, but my agony 
of mind at leaving little Em』ly was piercing. We went arm-in-arm 
to the public-house where the carrier put up, and I promised, on 
the road, to write to her. (I redeemed that promise afterwards, in 
characters larger than those in which apartments are usually 
announced in manuscript, as being to let.) We were greatly 
overcome at parting; and if ever, in my life, I have had a void made 
in my heart, I had one made that day. 

Now, all the time I had been on my visit, I had been ungrateful 
to my home again, and had thought little or nothing about it. But I 
was no sooner turned towards it, than my reproachful young 
conscience seemed to point that way with a ready finger; and I felt, 
all the more for the sinking of my spirits, that it was my nest, and 
that my mother was my comforter and friend. 

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

Blunderstone Rookery would come, however, in spite of her, 
when the carrier』s horse pleased—and did. How well I recollect it, 
on a cold grey afternoon, with a dull sky, threatening rain! 

The door opened, and I looked, half laughing and half crying in 
my pleasant agitation, for my mother. It was not she, but a strange 
servant. 

『Why, Peggotty!』 I said, ruefully, 『isn』t she come home?』 

『Yes, yes, Master Davy,』 said Peggotty. 『She』s come home. Wait 
a bit, Master Davy, and I』ll—I』ll tell you something.』 

Between her agitation, and her natural awkwardness in getting 
out of the cart, Peggotty was making a most extraordinary festoon 
of herself, but I felt too blank and strange to tell her so. When she 
had got down, she took me by the hand; led me, wondering, into 
the kitchen; and shut the door. 

『Peggotty!』 said I, quite frightened. 『What』s the matter?』 

『Nothing』s the matter, bless you, Master Davy dear!』 she 
answered, assuming an air of sprightliness. 

『Something』s the matter, I』m sure. Where』s mama?』 

『Where』s mama, Master Davy?』 repeated Peggotty. 

『Yes. Why hasn』t she come out to the gate, and what have we 
come in here for? Oh, Peggotty!』 My eyes were full, and I felt as if I 
were going to tumble down. 

『Bless the precious boy!』 cried Peggotty, taking hold of me. 
『What is it? Speak, my pet!』 

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『Not dead, too! Oh, she』s not dead, Peggotty?』 

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

I gave her a hug to take away the turn, or to give her another 
turn in the right direction, and then stood before her, looking at 
her in anxious inquiry. 

『You see, dear, I should have told you before now,』 said 
Peggotty, 『but I hadn』t an opportunity. I ought to have made it, 
perhaps, but I couldn』t azackly』—that was always the substitute 
for exactly, in Peggotty』s militia of words—『bring my mind to it.』 

『Go on, Peggotty,』 said I, more frightened than before. 

『Master Davy,』 said Peggotty, untying her bonnet with a shaking 
hand, and speaking in a breathless sort of way. 『What do you 
think? You have got a Pa!』 

I trembled, and turned white. Something—I don』t know what, 
or how—connected with the grave in the churchyard, and the 
raising of the dead, seemed to strike me like an unwholesome 
wind. 

『A new one,』 said Peggotty. 

『A new one?』 I repeated. 

Peggotty gave a gasp, as if she were swallowing something that 
was very hard, and, putting out her hand, said: 

『Come and see him.』 

『I don』t want to see him.』 

—『And your mama,』 said Peggotty. 

I ceased to draw back, and we went straight to the best parlour, 
where she left me. On one side of the fire, sat my mother; on the 
other, Mr. Murdstone. My mother dropped her work, and arose 
hurriedly, but timidly I thought. 

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『Now, Clara my dear,』 said Mr. Murdstone. 『Recollect! control 
yourself, always control yourself! Davy boy, how do you do?』 

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

As soon as I could creep away, I crept upstairs. My old dear 
bedroom was changed, and I was to lie a long way off. I rambled 
downstairs to find anything that was like itself, so altered it all 
seemed; and roamed into the yard. I very soon started back from 
there, for 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 me, and sprang out to get at me. 

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Chapter 4 

I FALL INTO DISGRACE 

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

I thought of the oddest things. Of the shape of the room, of the 
cracks in the ceiling, of the paper on the walls, of the flaws in the 
window-glass making ripples and dimples on the prospect, of the 
washing-stand being rickety on its three legs, and having a 
discontented something about it, which reminded me of Mrs. 
Gummidge under the influence of the old one. I was crying all the 
time, but, except that I was conscious of being cold and dejected, I 
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』ly, 
and had been torn away from her to come here where no one 
seemed to want me, or to care about me, half as much as she did. 
This made such a very miserable piece of business of it, that I 
rolled myself up in a corner of the counterpane, and 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 me, 

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and 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 me, and 
answered, 『Nothing.』 I turned over on my face, I recollect, to hide 
my trembling lip, which answered her with greater truth. 『Davy,』 
said my mother. 『Davy, my child!』 

I dare say no words she could have uttered would have affected 
me so much, then, as her calling me her child. I hid my tears in the 
bedclothes, and pressed her from me with my hand, when she 
would have raised me up. 

『This is your doing, Peggotty, you cruel thing!』 said my mother. 
『I have no doubt at all about it. How can you reconcile it to your 
conscience, I wonder, to prejudice my own boy against me, or 
against anybody who is dear to me? What do you mean by it, 
Peggotty?』 

Poor Peggotty lifted up her hands and eyes, and only answered, 
in a sort of paraphrase of the grace I usually repeated after dinner, 
『Lord forgive you, Mrs. Copperfield, and for what you have said 
this minute, may you never be truly sorry!』 

『It』s enough to distract me,』 cried my mother. 『In my 
honeymoon, too, when my most inveterate enemy might relent, 
one would think, and not envy me a little peace of mind and 
happiness. Davy, you naughty boy! Peggotty, you savage creature! 
Oh, dear me!』 cried my mother, turning from one of us to the 
other, in her pettish wilful manner, 『what a troublesome world this 
is, when 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』s, and slipped to my feet at the bed-side. It was Mr. 

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Murdstone』s hand, and he kept it on my arm as he said: 

『What』s this? Clara, my love, have you forgotten?—Firmness, 
my dear!』 

『I am very sorry, Edward,』 said my mother. 『I meant to be very 
good, but I am so uncomfortable.』 

『Indeed!』 he answered. 『That』s a bad hearing, so soon, Clara.』 

『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 him, whispered in her ear, and kissed her. I 
knew as well, when 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 chose, as I know, 
now, that he did it. 

『Go you below, my love,』 said Mr. Murdstone. 『David and I will 
come down, together. My friend,』 turning a darkening face on 
Peggotty, when he had watched my mother out, and dismissed her 
with a nod and a smile; 『do you know your mistress』s name?』 

『She has been my mistress a long time, sir,』 answered Peggotty, 
『I ought to know it.』 

『That』s true,』 he answered. 『But I thought I heard you, as I came 
upstairs, address her by a name that is not hers. She has taken 
mine, you know. Will you remember that?』 

Peggotty, with some uneasy glances at me, curtseyed herself 
out of the room without replying; seeing, I suppose, that she was 
expected to go, and had no excuse for remaining. When we two 
were left alone, he shut the door, and sitting on a chair, and 
holding me standing before him, looked steadily into my eyes. I 
felt my own attracted, no less steadily, to his. As I recall our being 
opposed thus, face to face, I seem again to hear my heart beat fast 

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and high. 

『David,』 he said, making his lips thin, by pressing them 
together, 『if I have an obstinate horse or dog to deal with, what do 
you think I do?』 

『I don』t know.』 

『I beat him.』 

I had answered in a kind of breathless whisper, but I felt, in my 
silence, that my breath was shorter now. 

『I make him wince, and smart. I say to myself, 「I』ll conquer that 
fellow」; and if it were to cost him all the blood he had, I 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 times, each time with twenty blows, I 
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 said, 
with a grave smile that belonged to him, 『and you understood me 
very well, I see. Wash that face, sir, and come down with me.』 

He pointed to the washing-stand, which I had made out to be 
like Mrs. Gummidge, and motioned me with his head to obey him 
directly. I had little doubt then, and I have less doubt now, that he 
would have knocked me down without the least compunction, if I 
had hesitated. 

『Clara, my dear,』 he said, when I had done his bidding, and he 
walked me into the parlour, with his hand still on my arm; 『you 
will not be made uncomfortable any more, I hope. We shall soon 
improve our youthful humours.』 

God help me, I might have been improved for my whole life, I 

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might have been made another creature perhaps, for life, by a 
kind word at that season. A word of encouragement and 
explanation, of pity for my childish ignorance, of welcome home, 
of reassurance to me that it was home, might have made me 
dutiful to him in my heart henceforth, instead of in my hypocritical 
outside, and 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 strange, and that, presently, when I stole to a chair, she 
followed me with her eyes more sorrowfully still—missing, 
perhaps, some freedom in my childish tread—but the word was 
not spoken, and the time for it was gone. 

We dined alone, we 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 said, that 
an elder sister of his was coming to stay with them, and that she 
was expected that evening. I am not certain whether I found out 
then, or afterwards, that, without being actively concerned in any 
business, he had some share in, or some annual charge upon the 
profits of, a wine-merchant』s house in London, with which his 
family had been connected from his great-grandfather』s time, and 
in which his sister had a similar interest; but I may mention it in 
this place, whether or no. 

After dinner, when we were sitting by the fire, and I was 
meditating an escape to Peggotty without having the hardihood to 
slip away, lest it should offend the master of the house, a coach 
drove up to the garden-gate and he went out to receive the visitor. 
My mother followed him. I was timidly following her, when she 
turned round at the parlour door, in the dusk, and taking me in 
her embrace as she had been used to do, whispered me to love my 

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new father and be obedient to him. She did this hurriedly and 
secretly, as if it were wrong, but tenderly; and, putting out her 
hand behind her, held mine in it, until we came near to where he 
was standing in the garden, where she let mine go, and drew hers 
through his arm. 

It was Miss Murdstone who was arrived, and a gloomy-looking 
lady she was; dark, like her brother, whom she greatly resembled 
in face and voice; and with very heavy eyebrows, nearly meeting 
over her large nose, as if, being disabled by the wrongs of her sex 
from wearing whiskers, she had carried them to that account. She 
brought with her two uncompromising hard black boxes, with her 
initials on the lids in hard brass nails. When she paid the 
coachman she took her money out of a hard steel purse, and she 
kept the purse in a very jail of a bag which hung upon her arm by 
a heavy chain, and shut up like a bite. I had never, at that time, 
seen such a metallic lady altogether as Miss Murdstone was. 

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

『Is that your boy, sister-in-law?』 

My mother acknowledged me. 

『Generally speaking,』 said Miss Murdstone, 『I don』t like boys. 
How d』ye do, boy?』 

Under these encouraging circumstances, I replied that I was 
very well, and that I hoped she was the same; with such an 
indifferent grace, that Miss Murdstone disposed of me in two 
words: 

『Wants manner!』 

Having uttered which, with great distinctness, she begged the 

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favour of being shown to her room, which became to me from that 
time forth a place of awe and dread, wherein the two black boxes 
were never seen open or known to be left unlocked, and where (for 
I peeped in once or twice when she was out) numerous little steel 
fetters and rivets, with which Miss Murdstone embellished herself 
when she was dressed, generally hung upon the looking-glass in 
formidable array. 

As well as I could make out, she had come for good, and had no 
intention of ever going again. She began to 『help』 my mother next 
morning, and was in and out of the store-closet all day, putting 
things to rights, and making havoc in the old arrangements. 
Almost the first remarkable thing I observed in Miss Murdstone 
was, her being constantly haunted by a suspicion that the servants 
had a man secreted somewhere on the premises. Under the 
influence of this delusion, she dived into the coal-cellar at the most 
untimely hours, and scarcely ever opened the door of a dark 
cupboard without clapping it to again, in the belief that she had 
got him. 

Though there was nothing very airy about Miss Murdstone, she 
was a perfect Lark in point of getting up. She was up (and, as I 
believe to this hour, looking 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 out, and 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 tea, Miss Murdstone gave her 
a kind of peck on the cheek, which was her nearest approach to a 

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kiss, and said: 

『Now, Clara, my dear, I am come here, you know, to relieve you 
of all the trouble I can. You』re much too pretty and thoughtless』— 
my mother blushed but laughed, and 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 keys, my 
dear, I』ll attend to all this sort of thing in future.』 

From that time, Miss Murdstone kept the keys in her own little 
jail all day, and under her pillow all night, and 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 brother, of which he 
signified his approbation, my mother suddenly began to cry, and 
said she thought she might have been consulted. 

『Clara!』 said Mr. Murdstone sternly. 『Clara! I wonder at you.』 

『Oh, it』s very well to say you wonder, Edward!』 cried my mother, 
『and it』s very well for you to talk about firmness, but you wouldn』t 
like it yourself.』 

Firmness, I may observe, was the grand quality on which both 
Mr. and Miss Murdstone took their stand. However I might have 
expressed my comprehension of it at that time, if I had been called 
upon, I nevertheless did clearly comprehend in my own way, that 
it was another name for tyranny; and for a certain gloomy, 
arrogant, devil』s humour, that was in them both. The creed, as I 
should state it now, was 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 all, for everybody was to be bent to his 
firmness. Miss Murdstone was an exception. She might be firm, 

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but only by relationship, and in an inferior and tributary degree. 
My mother was another exception. She might be firm, and must 
be; but only in bearing their firmness, and 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 house, I mean,』 faltered my mother, evidently 
frightened—『I hope you must know what I mean, Edward—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 mother, sobbing; 『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 on, at 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 me, and I only want to be consulted as a mere form, 
sometimes. I thought you were pleased, once, with my being a 
little inexperienced and girlish, Edward—I am sure you said so— 
but you seem to hate me for it now, you are so severe.』 

『Edward,』 said Miss Murdstone, again, 『let there be an end of 
this. I go tomorrow.』 

『Jane Murdstone,』 thundered Mr. Murdstone. 『Will you be 

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silent? How dare you?』 

Miss Murdstone made a jail-delivery of her pocket-
handkerchief, and held it before her eyes. 

『Clara,』 he continued, looking at my mother, 『you surprise me! 
You astound me! Yes, I had a satisfaction in the thought of 
marrying an inexperienced and artless person, and forming her 
character, and 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 endeavour, and to 
assume, for my sake, a condition something like a housekeeper』s, 
and when she meets with a base return—』 

『Oh, pray, pray, Edward,』 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 faults, but not that. Oh, don』t, my dear!』 

『When Jane Murdstone meets, I say,』 he went on, after waiting 
until my mother was silent, 『with a base return, that feeling of 
mine is chilled and altered.』 

『Don』t, my love, say that!』 implored my mother very piteously. 
『Oh, don』t, Edward! I can』t bear to hear it. Whatever I am, I am 
affectionate. I know I am affectionate. I wouldn』t say it, if 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 weakness, Clara,』 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 defects, 
I know, and it』s very good of you, Edward, with your strength of 
mind, to endeavour to correct them for me. Jane, I don』t object to 

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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 are, I hope, uncommon. 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—David, 
go to bed!』 

I could hardly find the door, through the tears that stood in my 
eyes. I was so sorry for my mother』s distress; but I groped my way 
out, and groped my way up to my room in the dark, without even 
having the heart to say good night to Peggotty, or to get a candle 
from her. When her coming up to look for me, an hour or so 
afterwards, awoke me, she said that my mother had gone to bed 
poorly, and that Mr. and Miss Murdstone were sitting alone. 

Going down next morning rather earlier than usual, I paused 
outside the parlour door, on hearing my mother』s voice. She was 
very earnestly and humbly entreating Miss Murdstone』s pardon, 
which that lady granted, and a perfect reconciliation took place. I 
never knew my mother afterwards to give an opinion on any 
matter, without first appealing to Miss Murdstone, or without 
having first ascertained by some sure means, what Miss 
Murdstone』s opinion was; and I never saw Miss Murdstone, when 
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 mother, without seeing that my mother was in a 
terrible fright. 

The gloomy taint that was in the Murdstone blood, darkened 

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the Murdstone religion, which was austere and wrathful. I have 
thought, since, that its assuming that character was a necessary 
consequence of Mr. Murdstone』s firmness, which 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 may, I well 
remember the tremendous visages with which we used to go to 
church, and the changed air of the place. Again, the dreaded 
Sunday comes round, and I file into the old pew first, like a 
guarded captive brought to a condemned service. Again, Miss 
Murdstone, in a black velvet gown, that looks as if it had been 
made out of a pall, follows close upon me; then my mother; then 
her husband. There is no Peggotty now, as in the old time. Again, I 
listen to Miss Murdstone mumbling the responses, and 
emphasizing all the dread words with a cruel relish. Again, I see 
her dark eyes roll round the church when she says 『miserable 
sinners』, as if she were calling all the congregation names. Again, I 
catch rare glimpses of my mother, moving her lips timidly between 
the two, with one of them muttering at each ear like low thunder. 
Again, I wonder with a sudden fear whether it is likely that our 
good old clergyman can be wrong, and Mr. and Miss Murdstone 
right, and that all the angels in Heaven can be destroying angels. 
Again, if I move a finger or relax a muscle of my face, Miss 
Murdstone pokes me with her prayer-book, and makes my side 
ache. 

Yes, and again, as we walk home, I note some neighbours 
looking at my mother and at me, and whispering. Again, as the 
three go on arm-in-arm, and I linger behind alone, I follow some of 
those looks, and wonder if my mother』s step be really not so light 
as I have seen it, and if the gaiety of her beauty be really almost 

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worried away. Again, I wonder whether any of the neighbours call 
to mind, as I do, how we used to walk home together, she and I; 
and I wonder stupidly about that, all the dreary dismal day. 

There had been some talk on occasions of my going to 
boarding-school. Mr. and Miss Murdstone had originated it, and 
my mother had of course agreed with them. Nothing, however, 
was concluded on the subject yet. In the meantime, I learnt 
lessons at home. Shall I ever forget those lessons! They were 
presided over nominally by my mother, but really by Mr. 
Murdstone and his sister, who were always present, and found 
them a favourable occasion for giving my mother lessons in that 
miscalled firmness, which was the bane of both our lives. I believe 
I was kept at home for that purpose. I had been apt enough to 
learn, and willing enough, when my mother and I had lived alone 
together. I can faintly remember learning the alphabet at her 
knee. To this day, when I look upon the fat black letters in the 
primer, the puzzling novelty of their shapes, and the easy good-
nature of O and Q and S, seem to present themselves again before 
me as they used to do. But they recall no feeling of disgust or 
reluctance. On the contrary, I seem to have walked along a path of 
flowers as far as the crocodile-book, and to have been cheered by 
the gentleness of my mother』s voice and manner all the way. But 
these solemn lessons which succeeded those, I remember as the 
death-blow of my peace, and a grievous daily drudgery and 
misery. They were very long, very numerous, very hard—perfectly 
unintelligible, some of them, to 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 be, and bring one morning 
back again. 

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I come into the second-best parlour after breakfast, with my 
books, and an exercise-book, and a slate. My mother is ready for 
me at her writing-desk, but 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 Murdstone, sitting near my mother stringing 
steel beads. The very sight of these two has such an influence over 
me, that I begin to feel the words I have been at infinite pains to 
get into my head, all sliding away, and going I don』t know where. I 
wonder where they do go, by the by? 

I hand the first book to my mother. Perhaps it is a grammar, 
perhaps a history, or geography. I take a last drowning look at the 
page as I give it into her hand, and 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 redden, 
tumble over half-a-dozen words, and stop. I think my mother 
would show me the book if she dared, but she does not dare, and 
she says softly: 

『Oh, Davy, Davy!』 

『Now, Clara,』 says Mr. Murdstone, 『be firm with the boy. Don』t 
say, 「Oh, Davy, Davy!」 That』s childish. He knows his lesson, or he 
does not know it.』 

『He does not know it,』 Miss Murdstone interposes awfully. 

『I am really afraid he does not,』 says my mother. 

『Then, you see, Clara,』 returns Miss Murdstone, 『you should just 
give him the book back, and make him know it.』 

『Yes, certainly,』 says my mother; 『that is what I intend to do, my 
dear Jane. Now, Davy, try once more, and don』t be stupid.』 

I obey the first clause of the injunction by trying once more, but 
am not so successful with the second, for I am very stupid. I 

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tumble down before I get to the old place, at a point where I was 
all right before, and stop to think. But I can』t think about the 
lesson. I think of the number of yards of net in Miss Murdstone』s 
cap, or of the price of Mr. Murdstone』s dressing-gown, or any such 
ridiculous problem that I have no business with, and 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 book, and lays it by as an arrear to be worked out 
when my other tasks are done. 

There is a pile of these arrears very soon, and it swells like a 
rolling snowball. The bigger it gets, the more stupid I get. The case 
is so hopeless, and I feel that I am wallowing in such a bog of 
nonsense, that I give up all idea of getting out, and abandon myself 
to my fate. The despairing way in which my mother and I look at 
each other, as I blunder on, is 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 instant, Miss Murdstone, who has been lying in 
wait for nothing else all along, says in a deep warning voice: 

『Clara!』 

My mother starts, colours, and smiles faintly. Mr. Murdstone 
comes out of his chair, takes the book, throws it at me or boxes my 
ears with it, and turns me out of the room by the shoulders. 

Even when the lessons are done, the worst is yet to happen, in 
the shape of an appalling sum. This is invented for me, and 
delivered to me orally by Mr. Murdstone, and begins, 『If I go into a 
cheesemonger』s shop, and buy five thousand double-Gloucester 
cheeses at fourpence-halfpenny each, present payment』—at which 

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I see Miss Murdstone secretly overjoyed. I pore over these cheeses 
without any result or enlightenment until dinner-time, when, 
having made a Mulatto of myself by getting the dirt of the slate 
into the pores of my skin, I have a slice of bread to help me out 
with the cheeses, and am considered in disgrace for the rest of the 
evening. 

It seems to me, at this distance of time, as 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 credit, there was not much gained but dinner; for 
Miss Murdstone never could endure to see me untasked, and if I 
rashly made any show of being unemployed, called her brother』s 
attention to me by saying, 『Clara, my dear, there』s nothing like 
work—give your boy an exercise』; which caused me to be clapped 
down to some new labour, there and then. As to any recreation 
with other children of my age, I 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 treatment, continued, I suppose, for 
some six months or more, was to make me sullen, dull, and 
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 upstairs, to which I had access (for it adjoined my own) 

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and which nobody else in our house ever troubled. From that 
blessed little room, Roderick Random, Peregrine Pickle, 
Humphrey Clinker, Tom Jones, the Vicar of Wakefield, Don 
Quixote, Gil Blas, and Robinson Crusoe, came out, a glorious host, 
to keep me company. They kept alive my fancy, and my hope of 
something beyond that place and time,—they, and the Arabian 
Nights, and 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 now, how I found time, in the 
midst of my porings and blunderings over heavier themes, to 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 Jones, a harmless creature) for a week together. I have 
sustained my own idea of Roderick Random for a month at a 
stretch, I verily believe. I had a greedy relish for a few volumes of 
Voyages and Travels—I forget what, now—that were on those 
shelves; and for days and days I can remember to have gone about 
my region of our house, armed with the centre-piece out of an old 
set of boot-trees—the perfect realization of Captain Somebody, of 
the Royal British Navy, in danger of being beset by savages, and 
resolved to sell his life at a great price. The Captain never lost 
dignity, from having his ears boxed with the Latin Grammar. I did; 
but the Captain was a Captain and a hero, in despite of all the 
grammars of all the languages in the world, dead or alive. 

This was my only and my constant comfort. When I think of it, 
the picture always rises in my mind, of a summer evening, the 

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boys at play in the churchyard, and I sitting on my bed, reading as 
if for life. Every barn in the neighbourhood, every stone in the 
church, and every foot of the churchyard, had some association of 
its own, in my mind, connected with these books, and stood for 
some locality made famous in them. I have seen Tom Pipes go 
climbing up the church-steeple; I have watched Strap, with the 
knapsack on his back, stopping to rest himself upon the wicket-
gate; and I know that Commodore Trunnion held that club with 
Mr. Pickle, in the parlour of our little village alehouse. 

The reader now understands, as well as I do, what 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 books, I 
found my mother looking anxious, Miss Murdstone looking firm, 
and Mr. Murdstone binding something round the bottom of a 
cane—a lithe and limber cane, which he left off binding when I 
came in, and poised and switched in the air. 

『I tell you, Clara,』 said Mr. Murdstone, 『I have been often 
flogged myself.』 

『To be sure; of course,』 said Miss Murdstone. 

『Certainly, my dear Jane,』 faltered my mother, meekly. 『But— 
but do you think it did Edward good?』 

『Do you think it did Edward harm, Clara?』 asked Mr. 
Murdstone, gravely. 

『That』s the point,』 said his sister. 

To this my mother returned, 『Certainly, my dear Jane,』 and said 
no more. 

I felt apprehensive that I was personally interested in this 
dialogue, and sought Mr. Murdstone』s eye as it lighted on mine. 

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『Now, David,』 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 poise, and another switch; and having finished his 
preparation of it, laid it down beside him, with an impressive look, 
and took up his book. 

This was a good freshener to my presence of mind, as a 
beginning. I felt the words of my lessons slipping off, not one by 
one, or line by line, but by the entire page; I tried to lay hold of 
them; but they seemed, if I may so express it, to have put skates 
on, and to skim away from me with a smoothness there was no 
checking. 

We began badly, and went on worse. I had come in with an idea 
of distinguishing myself rather, conceiving that I was very well 
prepared; but it turned out to be quite a mistake. Book after book 
was added to the heap of failures, Miss 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 day, I remember), my 
mother burst out crying. 

『Clara!』 said Miss Murdstone, in her warning voice. 

『I am not quite well, my dear Jane, I think,』 said my mother. 

I saw him wink, solemnly, at his sister, as he rose and said, 
taking up the cane: 

『Why, Jane, we can hardly expect Clara to bear, with perfect 
firmness, the worry and torment that David has occasioned her 
today. That would be stoical. Clara is greatly strengthened and 
improved, but we can hardly expect so much from her. David, you 
and I will go upstairs, boy.』 

As he took me out at the door, my mother ran towards us. Miss 
Murdstone said, 『Clara! are you a perfect fool?』 and interfered. I 

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saw my mother stop her ears then, and 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 there, suddenly twisted my head under his arm. 

『Mr. Murdstone! Sir!』 I cried to him. 『Don』t! Pray don』t beat me! 
I have tried to learn, sir, but I can』t learn while you and Miss 
Murdstone are by. I can』t indeed!』 

『Can』t you, indeed, David?』 he said. 『We』ll try that.』 

He had my head as in a vice, but I twined round him somehow, 
and stopped him for a moment, entreating him not to beat me. It 
was only a moment that I stopped him, for he cut me heavily an 
instant afterwards, and in the same instant I caught the hand with 
which he held me in my mouth, between my teeth, and bit it 
through. It sets my teeth on edge to think of it. 

He beat me then, as if he would have beaten me to death. Above 
all the noise we made, I heard them running up the stairs, and 
crying out—I heard my mother crying out—and Peggotty. Then he 
was gone; and the door was locked outside; and I was lying, 
fevered and hot, and torn, and sore, and raging in my puny way, 
upon the floor. 

How well I recollect, when I became quiet, what an unnatural 
stillness seemed to reign through the whole house! How well I 
remember, when my smart and passion began to cool, how wicked 
I began to feel! 

I sat listening for a long while, but there was not a sound. I 
crawled up from the floor, and saw my face in the glass, so 
swollen, red, and ugly that it almost frightened me. My stripes 
were sore and stiff, and made me cry afresh, when I moved; but 
they were nothing to the guilt I felt. It lay heavier on my breast 

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than if I had been a most atrocious criminal, I dare say. 

It had begun to grow dark, and I had shut the window (I had 
been lying, for the most part, with my head upon the sill, by turns 
crying, dozing, and looking listlessly out), when the key was 
turned, and Miss Murdstone came in with some bread and meat, 
and milk. These she put down upon the table without a word, 
glaring at me the while with exemplary firmness, and then retired, 
locking the door after her. 

Long after it was dark I sat there, wondering whether anybody 
else would come. When this appeared improbable for that night, I 
undressed, and went to bed; and, there, I 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 custody, 
and sent to prison? Whether I was at all in danger of being 
hanged? 

I never shall forget the waking, next morning; the being 
cheerful and fresh for the first moment, and then the being 
weighed down by the stale and dismal oppression of 
remembrance. Miss Murdstone reappeared before I was out of 
bed; told me, in so many words, that I was free to walk in the 
garden for half an hour and no longer; and retired, leaving the 
door open, that I might avail myself of that permission. 

I did so, and did so every morning of my imprisonment, which 
lasted five days. If I could have seen my mother alone, I should 
have gone down on my knees to her and besought her forgiveness; 
but I saw no one, Miss Murdstone excepted, during 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 outlaw, all alone by myself near the 

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door; and whence I was solemnly conducted by my jailer, before 
any one arose from the devotional posture. I only observed that 
my mother was as far off from me as she could be, and 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 bells, the opening and 
shutting of doors, the murmuring of voices, the footsteps on the 
stairs; to any laughing, whistling, or singing, outside, which 
seemed more dismal than anything else to me in my solitude and 
disgrace—the uncertain pace of the hours, especially at night, 
when I would wake thinking it was morning, and find that the 
family were not yet gone to bed, and that all the length of night 
had yet to come—the depressed dreams and nightmares I had— 
the return of day, noon, afternoon, evening, when the boys played 
in the churchyard, and I watched them from a distance within the 
room, being 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 
cheerfulness, which came with eating and drinking, and went 
away with it—the setting in of rain one evening, with a fresh smell, 
and its coming down faster and faster between me and the church, 
until it and gathering night seemed to quench me in gloom, and 
fear, and remorse—all this appears to have gone round and round 
for years instead of days, it is so vividly and strongly stamped on 
my remembrance. On the last night of my restraint, I was 
awakened by hearing my own name spoken in a whisper. I started 

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up in bed, and putting out my arms in the dark, said: 

『Is that you, Peggotty?』 

There was no immediate answer, but presently I heard my 
name again, in a tone so very mysterious and awful, that I think I 
should have gone into a fit, if it had not occurred to me that it must 
have come through the keyhole. 

I groped my way to the door, and putting my own lips to the 
keyhole, whispered: 『Is that you, Peggotty dear?』 

『Yes, my own precious Davy,』 she replied. 『Be as soft as a 
mouse, or the Cat』ll hear us.』 

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

『How』s mama, dear Peggotty? Is she very angry with me?』 

I could hear Peggotty crying softly on her side of the keyhole, as 
I was doing on mine, before she answered. 『No. Not very.』 

『What is going to be done with me, Peggotty dear? Do you 
know?』 

『School. Near London,』 was Peggotty』s answer. I was obliged to 
get her to repeat it, for she spoke it the first time quite down my 
throat, in 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 deal, I didn』t hear them. 

『When, Peggotty?』 

『Tomorrow.』 

『Is that the reason why Miss Murdstone took the clothes out of 
my drawers?』 which she had done, though I have forgotten to 
mention it. 

『Yes,』 said Peggotty. 『Box.』 

『Shan』t I see mama?』 

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『Yes,』 said Peggotty. 『Morning.』 

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

『Davy, dear. If I ain』t been azackly as intimate with you. Lately, 
as I used to be. It ain』t because I don』t love you. just as well and 
more, my pretty poppet. It』s because I thought it better for you. 
And for someone else besides. Davy, my darling, are you listening? 
Can you hear?』 

『Ye-ye-ye-yes, Peggotty!』 I sobbed. 

『My own!』 said Peggotty, with infinite compassion. 『What I want 
to say, is. That you must never forget me. For I』ll never forget you. 
And I』ll take as much care of your mama, Davy. 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 stupid, cross old Peggotty』s arm 
again. And I』ll write to you, my 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 you, dear Peggotty!』 said I. 『Oh, thank you! Thank you! 
Will you promise me one thing, Peggotty? Will you write and tell 
Mr. Peggotty and little Em』ly, and Mrs. Gummidge and Ham, that 
I am not so bad as they might suppose, and that I sent 』em all my 
love—especially to little Em』ly? Will you, if you please, Peggotty?』 

The kind soul promised, and we both of us kissed the keyhole 
with the greatest affection—I patted it with my hand, I recollect, as 
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 

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well define. She did not replace my mother; no one could do that; 
but she came into a vacancy in my heart, which closed upon her, 
and I felt towards her something I have never felt for any other 
human being. It was a sort of comical affection, too; and yet if she 
had died, I cannot think what I should have done, or how I should 
have acted out the tragedy it would have been to me. 

In the morning Miss Murdstone appeared as usual, and 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 dressed, I 
was to come downstairs into the parlour, and have my breakfast. 
There, I found my mother, very pale and with red eyes: into whose 
arms I ran, and begged her pardon from my suffering soul. 

『Oh, Davy!』 she said. 『That you could hurt anyone I love! Try to 
be better, pray to be better! I forgive you; but I am so grieved, 
Davy, that you should have such bad passions in your heart.』 

They had persuaded her that I was a wicked fellow, and she 
was more sorry for that than for my going away. I felt it sorely. I 
tried to eat my parting breakfast, but my tears dropped upon my 
bread-and-butter, and trickled into my tea. I saw my mother look 
at me sometimes, and then glance at the watchful Miss Murdstone, 
and than look down, or look away. 

『Master Copperfield』s box there!』 said Miss Murdstone, when 
wheels were heard at the gate. 

I looked for Peggotty, but it was not she; neither she nor Mr. 
Murdstone appeared. My former acquaintance, the carrier, was at 
the door. the box was taken out to his cart, and lifted in. 『Clara!』 
said Miss Murdstone, in her warning note. 

『Ready, my dear Jane,』 returned my mother. 『Good-bye, Davy. 
You are going for your own good. Good-bye, my child. You will 

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come home in the holidays, and be a better boy.』 

『Clara!』 Miss Murdstone repeated. 

『Certainly, my dear Jane,』 replied my mother, who was holding 
me. 『I forgive you, my dear boy. God bless you!』 

『Clara!』 Miss Murdstone repeated. 

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

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Chapter 5 

I AM SENT AWAY FROM HOME 

We might have gone about half a mile, and my pocket-
handkerchief was quite wet through, when the carrier 
stopped short. Looking out to ascertain for what, I saw, 
to my amazement, Peggotty burst from a hedge and climb into the 
cart. She took me in both her arms, and squeezed me to her stays 
until the pressure on my nose was extremely painful, though I 
never thought of that till afterwards when I found it very tender. 
Not a single word did Peggotty speak. Releasing one of her arms, 
she put it down in her pocket to the elbow, and brought out some 
paper bags of cakes which she crammed into my pockets, and a 
purse which she put into my hand, but not one word did she say. 
After another and a final squeeze with both arms, she got down 
from the cart and ran away; and, my belief is, and has always 
been, without a solitary button on her gown. I picked up one, of 
several that were rolling about, and treasured it as a keepsake for 
a long time. 

The carrier looked at me, as if to inquire if she were coming 
back. I shook my head, and 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 could, I began 
to think it was of no use crying any more, especially as neither 
Roderick Random, nor that Captain in the Royal British Navy, had 
ever cried, that I could remember, in trying situations. The carrier, 
seeing me in this resolution, proposed that my pocket-

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handkerchief should be spread upon the horse』s back to dry. I 
thanked him, and assented; and particularly small it looked, under 
those circumstances. 

I had now leisure to examine the purse. It was a stiff leather 
purse, with a snap, and had three bright shillings in it, which 
Peggotty had evidently polished up with whitening, for my greater 
delight. But its most precious contents were two half-crowns 
folded together in a bit of paper, on which was written, in my 
mother』s hand, 『For Davy. With my love.』 I was so overcome by 
this, that 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 it, and I thought I really had, so I wiped my eyes on my 
sleeve and stopped myself. 

For good, too; though, in consequence of my previous emotions, 
I was still occasionally seized with a stormy sob. After we had 
jogged on for some little time, I 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 carrier, jerking 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-cutch, and 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 being, as I observed in a former chapter, of a 

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phlegmatic temperament, and not at all conversational—I offered 
him a cake as a mark of attention, which he ate at one gulp, 
exactly like an elephant, and which made no more impression on 
his big face than it would have done on an elephant』s. 

『Did she make 』em, now?』 said Mr. Barkis, always leaning 
forward, in his slouching way, on the footboard of the cart with an 
arm on each knee. 

『Peggotty, do you mean, sir?』 

『Ah!』 said Mr. Barkis. 『Her.』 

『Yes. She makes all our pastry, and does all our cooking.』 

『Do she though?』 said Mr. Barkis. He made up his mouth as if to 
whistle, but he didn』t whistle. He sat looking at the horse』s ears, as 
if he saw something new there; and sat so, for a considerable time. 
By and by, he said: 

『No sweethearts, I b』lieve?』 

『Sweetmeats did you say, Mr. Barkis?』 For I thought he wanted 
something else to eat, and 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.』 

『Oh, no. She never had a sweetheart.』 

『Didn』t she, though!』 said Mr. Barkis. 

Again he made up his mouth to whistle, and again he didn』t 
whistle, but sat looking at the horse』s ears. 

『So she makes,』 said Mr. Barkis, after a long interval of 
reflection, 『all the apple parsties, and doos all the cooking, do she?』 

I replied that such was the fact. 

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『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 said, slowly turning his eyes towards me. 『Well! If you 
was writin』 to her, p』raps you』d recollect to say that Barkis was 
willin』; would you?』 

『That Barkis is willing,』 I repeated, innocently. 『Is that all the 
message?』 

『Ye-es,』 he said, considering. 『Ye-es. Barkis is willin』.』 

『But you will be at Blunderstone again tomorrow, Mr. Barkis,』 I 
said, faltering a little at the idea of my being far away from it then, 
and could give your own message so much better.』 

As he repudiated this suggestion, however, with a jerk of his 
head, and once more confirmed his previous request by saying, 
with 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 afternoon, I procured a 
sheet of paper and an inkstand, and wrote a note to Peggotty, 
which 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 prospectively, Mr. 
Barkis relapsed into perfect silence; and I, feeling quite worn out 
by all that had happened lately, lay 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 drove, 
that I at once abandoned a latent hope I had had of meeting with 
some of Mr. Peggotty』s family there, perhaps even with little Em』ly 
herself. 

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The coach was in the yard, shining very much all over, but 
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 this, and wondering what would ultimately become of my 
box, which 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 me, when a lady looked out of a bow-
window where some fowls and joints of meat were hanging up, 
and said: 

『Is that the little gentleman from Blunderstone?』 

『Yes, ma』am,』 I said. 

『What name?』 inquired the lady. 

『Copperfield, ma』am,』 I said. 

『That won』t do,』 returned the lady. 『Nobody』s dinner is paid for 
here, in that name.』 

『Is it Murdstone, ma』am?』 I said. 

『If you』re Master Murdstone,』 said the lady, 『why do you go and 
give another name, first?』 

I explained to the lady how it was, who than rang a bell, and 
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 it, and 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 
countries, and I cast away in the middle of them. I felt it was 
taking a liberty to sit down, with my cap in my hand, on the corner 
of the chair nearest the door; and when the waiter laid a cloth on 
purpose for me, and put a set of castors on it, I think I must have 

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turned red all over with modesty. 

He brought me some chops, and vegetables, and 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 table, and saying, very affably, 『Now, six-foot! 
come on!』 

I thanked him, and took my seat at the board; but found it 
extremely difficult to handle my knife and fork with anything like 
dexterity, or to avoid splashing myself with the gravy, while he 
was standing opposite, staring so hard, and making me blush in 
the most dreadful manner every time I caught his eye. After 
watching me into the second chop, he 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 tumbler, and held it up against the light, and made 
it look beautiful. 

『My eye!』 he said. 『It seems a good deal, don』t it?』 

『It does seem a good deal,』 I answered with a smile. For it was 
quite delightful to me, to find him so pleasant. He was a twinkling-
eyed, pimple-faced man, with his hair standing upright all over his 
head; and as he stood with one arm a-kimbo, holding up the glass 
to the light with the other hand, he looked quite friendly. 

『There was a gentleman here, yesterday,』 he said—『a stout 
gentleman, by the name of Topsawyer—perhaps you know him?』 

『No,』 I said, 『I don』t think—』 

『In breeches and gaiters, broad-brimmed hat, grey coat, 
speckled choker,』 said the waiter. 

『No,』 I said bashfully, 『I haven』t the pleasure—』 

『He came in here,』 said the waiter, looking at the light through 

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the tumbler, 『ordered a glass of this ale—would order it—I told 
him not—drank it, and 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 accident, 
and said I thought I had better have some water. 

『Why you see,』 said the waiter, still looking at the light through 
the tumbler, with 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 it, and use is everything. I don』t think it』ll hurt me, 
if I throw my head back, and take it off quick. Shall I?』 

I replied that he would much oblige me by drinking it, if he 
thought he could do it safely, but by no means otherwise. When he 
did throw his head back, and take it off quick, I had a horrible fear, 
I confess, of seeing him meet the fate of the lamented Mr. 
Topsawyer, and fall lifeless on the carpet. But it didn』t hurt him. 
On the contrary, I thought he seemed the fresher for it. 

『What have we got here?』 he said, putting a fork into my dish. 
『Not chops?』 

『Chops,』 I said. 

『Lord bless my soul!』 he exclaimed, 『I didn』t know they were 
chops. Why, a 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 hand, and a potato in the 
other, and ate away with a very good appetite, to my extreme 
satisfaction. He afterwards took another chop, and another potato; 
and after that, another chop and another potato. When we had 
done, he brought me a pudding, and having set it before me, 
seemed to ruminate, and to become absent in his mind for some 
moments. 

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『How』s the pie?』 he said, rousing himself. 

『It』s a pudding,』 I made answer. 

『Pudding!』 he exclaimed. 『Why, bless me, so it is! What!』 looking 
at it nearer. 『You don』t mean to say it』s a batter-pudding!』 

『Yes, it is indeed.』 

『Why, a batter-pudding,』 he said, taking up a table-spoon, 『is my 
favourite pudding! Ain』t that lucky? Come on, little 』un, and let』s 
see who』ll get most.』 

The waiter certainly got most. He entreated me more than once 
to come in and win, but what with his table-spoon to my tea-spoon, 
his dispatch to my dispatch, and his appetite to my appetite, I was 
left far behind at the first mouthful, and had no chance with him. I 
never saw anyone enjoy a pudding so much, I think; and he 
laughed, when it was all gone, as if his enjoyment of it lasted still. 

Finding him so very friendly and companionable, it was then 
that I asked for the pen and ink and paper, to write to Peggotty. 
He not only brought it immediately, but was good enough to look 
over me while I wrote the letter. When I had finished it, he asked 
me where I was going to school. 

I said, 『Near London,』 which was all I knew. 

『Oh! my eye!』 he said, looking very low-spirited, 『I am sorry for 
that.』 

『Why?』 I asked him. 

『Oh, Lord!』 he said, shaking 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 you, about?』 

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 

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when they broke his second, and did for him.』 

I could not disguise from myself, or from the waiter, that this 
was an uncomfortable coincidence, and inquired how it was done. 
His answer was not cheering to my spirits, for it consisted of two 
dismal words, 『With whopping.』 

The blowing of the coach-horn in the yard was a seasonable 
diversion, which made me get up and hesitatingly inquire, in 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 else, except 
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 waiter, if you please?』 I stammered, 
blushing. 

『If I hadn』t a family, and that family hadn』t the cowpock,』 said 
the waiter, 『I wouldn』t take a sixpence. If I didn』t support a aged 
pairint, and a lovely sister,』—here the waiter was greatly 
agitated—『I wouldn』t take a farthing. If I had a good place, and 
was treated well here, I should beg acceptance of a trifle, instead 
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 misfortunes, and 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 veneration, 

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and spun up with his thumb, directly afterwards, to try the 
goodness of. 

It was a little disconcerting to me, to find, when I was being 
helped up behind the coach, that I was supposed to have eaten all 
the dinner without any assistance. I discovered this, from 
overhearing the lady in the bow-window say to the guard, 『Take 
care of that child, George, or 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 waiter, who had quite recovered his spirits, did not appear to 
be disturbed by this, but joined in the general admiration without 
being at all confused. If I had any doubt of him, I suppose this half 
awakened it; but I am inclined to believe that with the simple 
confidence of a child, and 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 hard, I must own, to be made, without deserving 
it, the subject of jokes between the coachman and guard as to the 
coach drawing heavy behind, on account of my sitting there, and 
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 for, at school, as two brothers or 
three, and whether I was contracted for, or went upon the regular 
terms; with other pleasant questions. But the worst of it was, that I 
knew I should be ashamed to eat anything, when an opportunity 
offered, and that, after a rather light dinner, I should remain 
hungry all night—for I had left my cakes behind, at the hotel, in 

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my hurry. My apprehensions were realized. When we stopped for 
supper I couldn』t muster courage to take any, though I should 
have liked it very much, but sat by the fire and said I didn』t want 
anything. This did not save me from more jokes, either; for a 
husky-voiced gentleman with a rough face, who had been eating 
out of a sandwich-box nearly all the way, except when he had been 
drinking out of a bottle, said I was like a boa-constrictor who took 
enough at one meal to last him a long time; after which, he 
actually brought a rash out upon himself with boiled beef. 

We had started from Yarmouth at three o』clock in the 
afternoon, and we were due in London about eight next morning. 
It was Mid-summer weather, and the evening was very pleasant. 
When we passed through a village, I pictured to myself what the 
insides of the houses were like, and what the inhabitants were 
about; and when boys came running after us, and got up behind 
and swung there for a little way, I wondered whether their fathers 
were alive, and whether they Were happy at home. I had plenty to 
think of, therefore, besides my mind running continually on the 
kind of place I was going to—which was an awful speculation. 
Sometimes, I remember, I resigned myself to thoughts of home 
and Peggotty; and to endeavouring, in a confused blind way, to 
recall how I had felt, and what sort of boy I used to be, before I bit 
Mr. Murdstone: which I couldn』t satisfy myself about by any 
means, I seemed to have bitten him in such a remote antiquity. 

The night was not so pleasant as the evening, for it got chilly; 
and being put between two gentlemen (the rough-faced one and 
another) to prevent my tumbling off the coach, I was nearly 
smothered by their falling asleep, and completely blocking me up. 
They squeezed me so hard sometimes, that I could not help crying 

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out, 『Oh! If you please!』—which they didn』t like at all, because it 
woke them. Opposite me was an elderly lady in a great fur cloak, 
who looked in the dark more like a haystack than a lady, she was 
wrapped up to such a degree. This lady had a basket with her, and 
she hadn』t known what to do with it, for a long time, until she 
found that on account of my legs being short, it could go 
underneath me. It cramped and hurt me so, that it made me 
perfectly miserable; but if I moved in the least, and 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 foot, and said, 
『Come, don』t you fidget. Your bones are young enough, I』m sure!』 

At last the sun rose, and 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 
snorts, are not to be conceived. As the sun got higher, their sleep 
became lighter, and so they gradually one by one awoke. I 
recollect being very much surprised by the feint everybody made, 
then, of not having been to sleep at all, and by the uncommon 
indignation with which everyone repelled the charge. I labour 
under the same kind of astonishment to this day, having invariably 
observed that of all human weaknesses, the 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 
distance, and how I believed all the adventures of all my favourite 
heroes to be constantly enacting and re-enacting there, and how I 
vaguely made it out in my own mind to be fuller of wonders and 
wickedness than all the cities of the earth, I need not stop here to 
relate. We approached it by degrees, and got, in due time, to the 

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inn in the Whitechapel district, for which we were bound. I forget 
whether it was the Blue Bull, or the Blue Boar; but I know it was 
the Blue Something, and that its likeness was painted up on the 
back of the coach. 

The guard』s eye lighted on me as he was getting down, and he 
said at the booking-office door: 

『Is there anybody here for a yoongster booked in the name of 
Murdstone, from Bloonderstone, Sooffolk, to be left till called for?』 

Nobody answered. 

『Try Copperfield, if you please, sir,』 said I, looking helplessly 
down. 

『Is there anybody here for a yoongster, booked in the name of 
Murdstone, from Bloonderstone, Sooffolk, but owning to the name 
of Copperfield, to 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 bystanders, if I except a 
man in gaiters, with one eye, who suggested that they had better 
put a brass collar round my neck, and tie me up in the stable. 

A ladder was brought, and I got down after the lady, who was 
like a haystack: not daring to stir, until her basket was removed. 
The coach was clear of passengers by that time, the luggage was 
very soon cleared out, the horses had been taken out before the 
luggage, and now the coach itself was wheeled and backed off by 
some hostlers, out of the way. Still, nobody appeared, to claim the 
dusty youngster from Blunderstone, Suffolk. 

More solitary than Robinson Crusoe, who had nobody to look at 
him and see that he was solitary, I went into the booking-office, 
and, by invitation of the clerk on duty, passed behind the counter, 

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and sat down on the scale at which they weighed the luggage. 
Here, as I sat looking at the parcels, packages, and books, and 
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 
me, how 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 bins, with the other luggage, and 
wash myself at the pump in the yard in the morning; or should I 
be turned out every night, and expected to come again to be left 
till called for, when the office opened next day? Supposing there 
was no mistake in the case, and Mr. Murdstone had devised this 
plan to get rid of me, what should I do? If they allowed me to 
remain there until my seven shillings were spent, I couldn』t hope 
to remain there when I began to starve. That would obviously be 
inconvenient and unpleasant to the customers, besides entailing 
on the Blue Whatever-it-was, the risk of funeral expenses. If I 
started off at once, and tried to walk back home, how could I ever 
find my way, how could I ever hope to walk so far, how could I 
make sure of anyone but Peggotty, even if I got back? If I found 
out the nearest proper authorities, and offered myself to go for a 
soldier, or a sailor, I was such a little fellow that it was most likely 
they wouldn』t take me in. These thoughts, and a hundred other 
such thoughts, turned me burning hot, and made me giddy with 
apprehension and dismay. I was in the height of my fever when a 
man entered and whispered to the clerk, who presently slanted me 
off the scale, and pushed me over to him, as if I were weighed, 
bought, delivered, and paid for. 

As I went out of the office, hand in hand with this new 

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acquaintance, I stole a look at him. He was a gaunt, sallow young 
man, with hollow cheeks, and a chin almost as black as Mr. 
Murdstone』s; but there the likeness ended, for his whiskers were 
shaved off, and his hair, instead of being glossy, was rusty and dry. 
He was dressed in a suit of black clothes which were rather rusty 
and dry too, and rather short in the sleeves and legs; and he had a 
white neck-kerchief on, that was not over-clean. I did not, and do 
not, suppose that this neck-kerchief was all the linen he wore, but 
it was all he showed or gave any hint of. 

『You』re the new boy?』 he said. 『Yes, sir,』 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 box, to a 
scholar and a master at Salem House, that 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 please, sir,』 I said, when we had accomplished about the 
same distance as before, 『is it far?』 

『It』s down by Blackheath,』 he said. 

『Is that far, sir?』 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 tired, that the idea of holding out for six miles 
more, was too much for me. I took heart to tell him that I had had 
nothing all night, and that if he would allow me to buy something 
to eat, I should be very much obliged to him. He appeared 

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surprised at this—I see him stop and look at me now—and after 
considering for a few moments, said he wanted to call on an old 
person who lived not far off, and that the best way would be for me 
to buy some bread, or whatever I liked best that was wholesome, 
and make my breakfast at her house, where we could get some 
milk. 

Accordingly we looked in at a baker』s window, and after I had 
made a series of proposals to buy everything that was bilious in 
the shop, and he had rejected them one by one, we decided in 
favour of a nice little loaf of brown bread, which cost me 
threepence. Then, at a grocer』s shop, we bought an egg and a slice 
of streaky bacon; which still left what I thought a good deal of 
change, out of the second of the bright shillings, and made me 
consider London a very cheap place. These provisions laid in, we 
went on through a great noise and uproar that confused my weary 
head beyond description, and over a bridge which, no doubt, was 
London Bridge (indeed I think he told me so, but I was half 
asleep), until we came to the poor person』s house, which was a 
part of some alms-houses, as I knew by their look, and 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 alike, and had each a little 
diamond-paned window on one side, and another little diamond-
paned window above; and we went into the little house of one of 
these poor old women, who was blowing a fire to make a little 
saucepan boil. On seeing the master enter, the old woman stopped 
with the bellows on her knee, and said something that I thought 
sounded like 『My Charley!』 but on seeing me come in too, she got 

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up, and rubbing her hands made a confused sort of half curtsey. 

『Can you cook this young gentleman』s breakfast for him, if you 
please?』 said the Master at Salem House. 

『Can I?』 said the old woman. 『Yes can I, sure!』 

『How』s Mrs. Fibbitson today?』 said the Master, looking at 
another old woman in a large chair by the fire, who was such a 
bundle of clothes that I feel grateful to this hour for not having sat 
upon her by mistake. 

『Ah, she』s poorly,』 said the first old woman. 『It』s one of her bad 
days. If the fire was to go out, through any accident, I verily 
believe she』d go out too, and never come to life again.』 

As they looked at her, I looked at her also. Although it was a 
warm day, she 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 bacon, in dudgeon; for I saw her, with my own 
discomfited eyes, shake her fist at me once, when those culinary 
operations were going on, and no one else was looking. The sun 
streamed in at the little window, but she sat with her own back 
and the back of the large chair towards it, screening the fire as if 
she were sedulously keeping it warm, instead of it keeping her 
warm, and watching it in a most distrustful manner. The 
completion of the preparations for my breakfast, by relieving the 
fire, gave her such extreme joy that she laughed aloud—and a very 
unmelodious laugh she had, I must say. 

I sat down to my brown loaf, my egg, and my rasher of bacon, 
with a basin of milk besides, and made a most delicious meal. 
While I was yet in the full enjoyment of it, the old woman of the 
house said to the Master: 

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『Have you got your flute with you?』 

『Yes,』 he returned. 

『Have a blow at it,』 said the old woman, coaxingly. 『Do!』 

The Master, upon this, put his hand underneath the skirts of his 
coat, and brought out his flute in three pieces, which he screwed 
together, and began immediately to play. My impression is, after 
many years of consideration, that 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 means, natural or 
artificial. I don』t know what the tunes were—if there were such 
things in the performance at all, which I doubt—but the influence 
of the strain upon me was, first, to make me think of all my 
sorrows until I could hardly keep my tears back; then to take away 
my appetite; and lastly, to make me so sleepy that I couldn』t keep 
my eyes open. They begin to close again, and I begin to nod, as the 
recollection rises fresh upon me. Once more the little room, with 
its open corner cupboard, and its square-backed chairs, and its 
angular little staircase leading to the room above, and its three 
peacock』s feathers displayed over the mantelpiece—I remember 
wondering when I first went in, what that peacock would have 
thought if he had known what his finery was doomed to come to— 
fades from before me, and I nod, and sleep. The flute becomes 
inaudible, the wheels of the coach are heard instead, and I am on 
my journey. The coach jolts, I wake with a start, and the flute has 
come back again, and the Master at Salem House is sitting with his 
legs crossed, playing it dolefully, while the old woman of the house 
looks on delighted. She fades in her turn, and he fades, and all 
fades, and there is no flute, no Master, no Salem House, no David 
Copperfield, no anything but heavy sleep. 

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I dreamed, I thought, that once while he was blowing into this 
dismal flute, the old woman of the house, who had gone nearer 
and nearer to him in her ecstatic admiration, leaned 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 waking, either then or immediately 
afterwards; for, as 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, 『Ay, ay! yes!』 and nodded at the fire: to which, I 
am persuaded, she gave the credit of the whole performance. 

When I seemed to have been dozing a long while, the Master at 
Salem House unscrewed his flute into the three pieces, put them 
up as before, and took me away. We found the coach very near at 
hand, and got upon the roof; but I was so dead sleepy, that when 
we stopped on the road to take up somebody else, they put me 
inside where there were no passengers, and where I slept 
profoundly, until I found the coach going at a footpace up a steep 
hill among green leaves. Presently, it stopped, and had come to its 
destination. 

A short walk brought us—I mean the Master and me—to Salem 
House, which was enclosed with a high brick wall, and 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 face, which I found, on the door being 
opened, belonged to a stout man with a bull-neck, a wooden leg, 
overhanging temples, and 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 

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long, for there was not much of me—and locked the gate behind 
us, and took out the key. We were going up to the house, among 
some dark heavy trees, when he called after my conductor. 『Hallo!』 

We looked back, and he was standing at the door of a little 
lodge, where he lived, with a pair of boots in his hand. 

『Here! The cobbler』s been,』 he said, 『since you』ve been out, Mr. 
Mell, and he says he can』t mend 』em any more. He says there ain』t 
a bit of the original boot left, and he wonders you expect it.』 

With these words he threw the boots towards Mr. Mell, who 
went back a few paces to pick them up, and looked at them (very 
disconsolately, I was afraid), as we went on together. I observed 
then, for the first time, that the boots he had on were a good deal 
the worse for wear, and that his stocking was just breaking out in 
one place, like a bud. 

Salem House was a square brick building with wings; of a bare 
and unfurnished appearance. All about it was so very quiet, that 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. Creakle, the 
proprietor, was down by the sea-side with Mrs. and Miss Creakle; 
and that I was sent in holiday-time as a punishment for my 
misdoing, all of which he explained to me as we went along. 

I gazed upon the schoolroom into which he took me, as the 
most forlorn and desolate place I had ever seen. I see it now. A 
long room with three long rows of desks, and six of forms, and 
bristling all round with pegs for hats and slates. Scraps of old 
copy-books and exercises litter the dirty floor. Some silkworms』 
houses, made of the same materials, are scattered over the desks. 
Two miserable little white mice, left behind by their owner, are 

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running up and down in a fusty castle made of pasteboard and 
wire, looking in all the corners with their red eyes for anything to 
eat. A bird, in a cage very little bigger than himself, makes a 
mournful rattle now and then in hopping on his perch, two inches 
high, or dropping from it; but neither sings nor chirps. There is a 
strange unwholesome smell upon the room, like mildewed 
corduroys, sweet apples wanting air, and rotten books. There 
could not well be more ink splashed about it, if it had been roofless 
from its first construction, and the skies had rained, snowed, 
hailed, and blown ink through the varying seasons of the year. 

Mr. Mell having left me while he took his irreparable boots 
upstairs, I went softly to the upper end of the room, observing all 
this as I crept along. Suddenly I came upon a pasteboard placard, 
beautifully written, which was lying on the desk, and bore these 
words: 『Take care of him. He bites.』 

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

『I beg your pardon, sir,』 says I, 『if you please, I』m looking for the 
dog.』 

『Dog?』 he says. 『What dog?』 

『Isn』t it a dog, sir?』 

『Isn』t what a dog?』 

『That』s to be taken care of, sir; that bites.』 

『No, Copperfield,』 says he, gravely, 『that』s not a dog. That』s a 
boy. My instructions are, Copperfield, to put this placard on your 
back. I am sorry to make such a beginning with you, but I must do 

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it.』 With that he took me down, and tied the placard, which was 
neatly constructed for the purpose, on my shoulders like a 
knapsack; and wherever I went, afterwards, I had the consolation 
of carrying it. 

What I suffered from that placard, nobody can imagine. 
Whether it was possible for people to see me or not, I always 
fancied that somebody was reading it. It was no relief to turn 
round and find nobody; for wherever my back was, there 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 tree, or a wall, or the house, he roared 
out from his lodge door in a stupendous voice, 『Hallo, you sir! You 
Copperfield! Show that badge conspicuous, or I』ll report you!』 The 
playground was a bare gravelled yard, open to all the back of the 
house and the offices; and I knew that the servants read it, and the 
butcher read it, and the baker read it; that everybody, in a word, 
who came backwards and forwards to the house, of a morning 
when I was ordered to walk there, read that I was to be taken care 
of, for I bit, I recollect that I positively began to have a dread of 
myself, as a kind of wild boy who did bite. 

There was an old door in this playground, on 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 back, I could not read a boy』s name, without 
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 often, who, I 
conceived, would read it in a rather strong voice, and afterwards 
pull my hair. There was another boy, one Tommy Traddles, who I 

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dreaded would make game of it, and pretend to be dreadfully 
frightened of me. There was a third, George Demple, who I fancied 
would sing it. I have looked, a little shrinking creature, at that 
door, until 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 acclamation, and to cry out, each 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 at, on my 
way to, and when I was in, my own bed. I remember dreaming 
night after night, of being with my mother as she used to be, or of 
going to a party at Mr. Peggotty』s, or of travelling outside the 
stage-coach, or of dining again with my unfortunate friend the 
waiter, and in all these circumstances making people scream and 
stare, by the unhappy disclosure that I had nothing on but my 
little night-shirt, and that placard. 

In the monotony of my life, and in my constant apprehension of 
the re-opening of the school, it 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 here, and got 
through them without disgrace. Before, and after them, I walked 
about—supervised, as I have mentioned, by the man with the 
wooden leg. How vividly I call to mind the damp about the house, 
the green cracked flagstones in the court, an old leaky water-butt, 
and the discoloured trunks of some of the grim trees, which 
seemed to have dripped more in the rain than other trees, and to 
have blown less in the sun! At one we dined, Mr. Mell and I, at the 
upper end of a long bare dining-room, full of deal tables, and 
smelling of fat. Then, we had more tasks until tea, which Mr. Mell 

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drank out of a blue teacup, and I out of a tin pot. All day long, and 
until seven or eight in the evening, Mr. Mell, at his own detached 
desk in the schoolroom, worked hard with pen, ink, ruler, books, 
and writing-paper, 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 
flute, and blew at it, until I almost thought he would gradually 
blow his whole being into the large hole at the top, and ooze away 
at the keys. 

I picture my small self in the dimly-lighted rooms, sitting with 
my head upon my hand, listening to the doleful performance of 
Mr. Mell, and conning tomorrow』s lessons. I picture myself with 
my books shut up, still listening to the doleful performance of Mr. 
Mell, and listening through it to what used to be at home, and to 
the blowing of the wind on Yarmouth flats, and feeling very sad 
and solitary. I picture myself going up to bed, among the unused 
rooms, and 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 second, in my 
foreboding apprehensions, to 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 aspects, but in all of them I carried the 
same warning on my back. 

Mr. Mell never said much to me, but he was never harsh to me. 
I suppose we were company to each other, without talking. I forgot 
to mention that he would talk to himself sometimes, and grin, and 

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clench his fist, and grind his teeth, and pull his hair in an 
unaccountable manner. But he had these peculiarities: and at first 
they frightened me, though I soon got used to them. 

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Chapter 6 

I ENLARGE MY CIRCLE OF ACQUAINTANCE 

Ihad led this life about a month, when the man with the 
wooden leg began to stump about with a mop and a bucket of 
water, from 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 long, and turned out Mr. 
Mell and me, who lived where we could, and got on how we could, 
for some days, during which we were always in the way of two or 
three young women, who had rarely shown themselves before, and 
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 evening, after tea, I heard that he was 
come. Before bedtime, I 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 ours, and he had a snug bit of garden that looked 
pleasant after the dusty playground, which was such a desert in 
miniature, that I thought no one but a camel, or a dromedary, 
could have felt at home in it. It seemed to me a bold thing even to 
take notice that the passage looked comfortable, as I went on my 
way, trembling, to Mr. Creakle』s presence: which so abashed me, 
when I was ushered into it, that I hardly saw Mrs. Creakle or Miss 
Creakle (who were both there, in the parlour), or anything but Mr. 
Creakle, a stout gentleman with a bunch of watch-chain and seals, 

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in an arm-chair, with 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 it, turned me 
about again, with my face to Mr. Creakle, and posted himself at 
Mr. Creakle』s side. Mr. Creakle』s face was fiery, and his eyes were 
small, and deep in his head; he had thick veins in his forehead, a 
little nose, and 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 temple, so that the two sides interlaced on his 
forehead. But the circumstance about him which impressed me 
most, was, that he had no voice, but spoke in a whisper. The 
exertion this cost him, or the consciousness of talking in that 
feeble way, made his angry face so much more angry, and his thick 
veins so much thicker, when he spoke, that I am not surprised, on 
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 time, and who 
were, both, thin and quiet) were not disappointed. 

『Come here, sir!』 said Mr. Creakle, beckoning to me. 

『Come here!』 said the man with the wooden leg, repeating the 
gesture. 

『I have the happiness of knowing your father-in-law,』 whispered 
Mr. Creakle, taking me by the ear; 『and a worthy man he is, and a 
man of a strong character. He knows me, and I know him. Do you 

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know me? Hey?』 said Mr. Creakle, pinching my ear with ferocious 

playfulness. 

『Not yet, sir,』 I said, flinching 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 acted, with his strong voice, as 
Mr. Creakle』s interpreter to the boys. 

I was very much frightened, and said, I hoped so, if he pleased. 
I felt, all this while, as if my ear were blazing; he pinched it so 
hard. 

『I』ll tell you what I am,』 whispered Mr. Creakle, letting it go at 
last, with 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 thing, I do it,』 said Mr. Creakle; 『and when I 
say I will have a thing done, I will have it done.』 

『—Will have a thing done, I 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. Creakle, striking his 
hand upon the table, and looking at Mrs. Creakle, 『for he knows 
me. Now you have begun to know me too, my young friend, and 
you may go. Take him away.』 

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I was very glad to be ordered away, for Mrs. and Miss Creakle 
were both wiping their eyes, and I felt as uncomfortable for them 
as I did for myself. But I had a petition on my mind which 
concerned me so nearly, that I couldn』t help saying, though I 
wondered at my own courage: 

『If you please, sir—』 

Mr. Creakle whispered, 『Hah! What』s this?』 and bent his eyes 
upon me, as if he would have burnt me up with them. 

『If you please, sir,』 I faltered, 『if I might be allowed (I am very 
sorry indeed, sir, for what I did) to take this writing off, before the 
boys come back—』 

Whether Mr. Creakle was in earnest, or whether he only did it 
to frighten me, I don』t know, but he made a burst out of his chair, 
before which I precipitately retreated, without waiting for the 
escort Of the man with the wooden leg, and never once stopped 
until I reached my own bedroom, where, finding I was not 
pursued, I went to bed, as it was time, and lay quaking, for 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 limp, delicate-looking gentleman, I thought, with a good deal 
of nose, and a way of carrying his head on one side, as 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 

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himself by informing me that I should find his name on the right-
hand corner of the gate, over 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 much, that he saved me from the 
embarrassment of either disclosure or concealment, by presenting 
me to every other boy who came back, great or small, immediately 
on his arrival, in this form of introduction, 『Look here! Here』s a 
game!』 Happily, too, the greater part of the boys came back low-
spirited, and were not so boisterous at my expense as I had 
expected. Some of them certainly did dance about me like wild 
Indians, and the greater part could not resist the temptation of 
pretending that I was a dog, and patting and soothing me, lest I 
should bite, and saying, 『Lie down, sir!』 and calling me Towzer. 
This was naturally confusing, among so many strangers, and cost 
me some tears, but on the whole it was much better than I had 
anticipated. 

I was not considered as being formally received into the school, 
however, until J. Steerforth arrived. Before this boy, who was 
reputed to be a great scholar, and was very good-looking, and at 
least half-a-dozen years my senior, I was carried as before a 
magistrate. He inquired, under a shed in the playground, into the 
particulars of my punishment, and 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 got, Copperfield?』 he said, walking aside 
with me when he had disposed of my affair in these terms. I told 
him seven shillings. 

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『You had better give it to me to take care of,』 he said. 『At least, 
you can if you like. You needn』t if you don』t like.』 

I hastened to comply with his friendly suggestion, and opening 
Peggotty』s purse, turned it upside down into his hand. 

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

『No thank you,』 I replied. 

『You can, if you like, you know,』 said Steerforth. 『Say the word.』 

『No, thank you, sir,』 I repeated. 

『Perhaps you』d like to spend a couple of shillings or so, in a 
bottle of currant wine by and by, up in the bedroom?』 said 
Steerforth. 『You belong to my bedroom, I find.』 

It certainly had not occurred to me before, but I said, Yes, I 
should like that. 

『Very good,』 said Steerforth. 『You』ll be glad to spend another 
shilling or so, in almond cakes, I dare say?』 

I said, Yes, I should like that, too. 

『And another shilling or so in biscuits, and another in fruit, eh?』 
said Steerforth. 『I say, young Copperfield, you』re going it!』 

I smiled because he smiled, but 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 like, and I』ll smuggle the prog in.』 With these words he put 
the money in his pocket, and kindly told me not to make myself 
uneasy; he would take care it should be all right. He was as good 
as his word, if 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 

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upstairs to bed, he produced the whole seven shillings』 worth, and 
laid it out on my bed in the moonlight, saying: 

『There you are, young Copperfield, and a royal spread you』ve 
got.』 

I couldn』t think of doing the honours of the feast, at my time of 
life, while 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 room, he 
acceded to it, and sat upon my pillow, handing round the viands— 
with perfect fairness, I must say—and dispensing the currant wine 
in a little glass without a foot, which was his own property. As to 
me, I sat on his left hand, and the rest were grouped about us, on 
the nearest beds and on the floor. 

How well I recollect our sitting there, talking in whispers; or 
their talking, and my respectfully listening, I ought rather to say; 
the moonlight falling a little way into the room, through the 
window, painting a pale window on the floor, and the greater part 
of us in shadow, except when Steerforth dipped a match into a 
phosphorus-box, when he wanted to look for anything on the 
board, and shed a blue glare over us that was gone directly! A 
certain mysterious feeling, consequent on the darkness, the 
secrecy of the revel, and the whisper in which everything was said, 
steals over me again, and I listen to all they tell me with a vague 
feeling of solemnity and awe, which 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 

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masters; that he laid about him, right and left, every day of his life, 
charging in among the boys like a trooper, and slashing away, 
unmercifully. That he knew nothing himself, but the art of 
slashing, being more ignorant (J. Steerforth said) than the lowest 
boy in the school; that he had been, a good many years ago, a 
small hop-dealer in the Borough, and had taken to the schooling 
business after being bankrupt in hops, and making away with Mrs. 
Creakle』s money. With a good deal more of that sort, which I 
wondered how they knew. 

I heard that the man with the wooden leg, whose name was 
Tungay, was an obstinate barbarian who had formerly assisted in 
the hop business, but had come into the scholastic line with Mr. 
Creakle, in consequence, as was supposed among the boys, of his 
having broken his leg in Mr. Creakle』s service, and having done a 
deal of dishonest work for him, and knowing his secrets. I heard 
that with the single exception of Mr. Creakle, Tungay considered 
the whole establishment, masters and boys, as his natural 
enemies, and that the only delight of his life was to be sour and 
malicious. I heard that Mr. Creakle had a son, who had not been 
Tungay』s friend, and who, assisting in the school, had once held 
some remonstrance with his father on an occasion when its 
discipline was very cruelly exercised, and was supposed, besides, 
to have protested against his father』s usage of his mother. I heard 
that Mr. Creakle had turned him out of doors, in consequence; and 
that Mrs. and Miss Creakle had been in a sad way, ever since. 

But the greatest wonder that I heard of Mr. Creakle was, there 
being one boy in the school on whom he never ventured to lay a 
hand, and that boy being J. Steerforth. Steerforth himself 
confirmed this when it was stated, and said that he should like to 

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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 it, he dipped a 
match into his phosphorus-box on purpose to shed a glare over his 
reply, and 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 table, Mr. 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 it, because his own red hair was very 
plainly to be seen behind. 

I heard that one boy, who was a coal-merchant』s son, came as a 
set-off against the coal-bill, and was called, on 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 parents, and 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 sure, as I sat in the dark, thinking of 
his nice voice, and his fine face, and his easy manner, and his 
curling hair, I thought it very likely. I heard that Mr. Mell was not 
a bad sort of fellow, but hadn』t a sixpence to bless himself with; 
and that there was no doubt that old Mrs. Mell, his mother, was as 
poor as job. I thought of my breakfast then, and what had sounded 
like 『My Charley!』 but I was, I am glad to remember, as mute as a 
mouse about it. 

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The hearing of all this, and a good deal more, outlasted the 
banquet some time. The greater part of the guests had gone to bed 
as soon as the eating and drinking were over; and we, who had 
remained whispering and listening half-undressed, at last betook 
ourselves to bed, too. 

『Good night, young 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 sister, have you?』 said Steerforth, yawning. 

『No,』 I answered. 

『That』s a pity,』 said Steerforth. 『If you had had one, I should 
think she would have been a pretty, timid, little, bright-eyed sort 
of girl. I should have liked to know her. Good night, young 
Copperfield.』 

『Good night, sir,』 I replied. 

I thought of him very much after I went to bed, and raised 
myself, I recollect, to look at him where he lay in the moonlight, 
with his handsome face turned up, and his head reclining easily on 
his arm. He was a person of great power in my eyes; that was, of 
course, the reason of my mind running on him. No veiled future 
dimly glanced upon him in the moonbeams. There was no 
shadowy picture of his footsteps, in the garden that I dreamed of 
walking in all night. 

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Chapter 7 

MY 『FIRST HALF』 AT SALEM HOUSE 

School began in earnest next day. A profound impression 
was made upon me, I remember, by the roar of voices in 
the schoolroom suddenly becoming hushed as death when 
Mr. Creakle entered after breakfast, and 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 occasion, I 
thought, to cry out 『Silence!』 so ferociously, for the boys were all 
struck speechless and motionless. 

Mr. Creakle was seen to speak, and Tungay was heard, to this 
effect. 

『Now, boys, this is a new half. Take care what you』re about, in 
this new half. Come fresh up to the lessons, I advise you, for 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 work, every boy!』 

When this dreadful exordium was over, and Tungay had 
stumped out again, Mr. Creakle came to where I sat, and told me 
that if I were famous for biting, he was famous for biting, too. He 
then showed me the cane, and asked me what I thought of that, for 
a tooth? Was it a sharp tooth, hey? Was it a double tooth, hey? 
Had it a deep prong, hey? Did it bite, hey? 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 

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was very soon in tears also. 

Not that I mean to say these were special marks of distinction, 
which only I received. On the contrary, a large majority of the boys 
(especially the smaller ones) were visited with similar instances of 
notice, as Mr. Creakle made the round of the schoolroom. Half the 
establishment was writhing and crying, before the day』s work 
began; and how much of it had writhed and cried before the day』s 
work was over, I 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 boys, which was like the satisfaction of a craving 
appetite. I am confident that he couldn』t resist a chubby boy, 
especially; that there was a fascination in such a subject, which 
made him restless in his mind, until he had scored and marked 
him for the day. I was chubby myself, and ought to know. I am 
sure when I think of the fellow now, my 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 hotly, because I know him to have been an incapable brute, 
who had no more right to be possessed of the great trust he held, 
than to be Lord High Admiral, or 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 Idol, how abject we 
were to him! What a launch in life I think it now, on looking back, 
to be so mean and servile to a man of such parts and pretensions! 

Here I sit at the desk again, watching his eye—humbly 
watching his eye, as he rules a ciphering-book for another victim 

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whose hands have just been flattened by that identical ruler, and 
who is trying to wipe the sting out with a pocket-handkerchief. I 
have plenty to do. I don』t watch his eye in idleness, but because I 
am morbidly attracted to it, in a dread desire to know what he will 
do next, and whether it will be my turn to suffer, or somebody 
else』s. A lane of small boys beyond me, with the same interest in 
his eye, watch it too. I think he knows it, though he pretends he 
don』t. He makes dreadful mouths as he rules the ciphering-book; 
and now he throws his eye sideways down our lane, and we all 
droop over our books and tremble. A moment afterwards we are 
again eyeing him. An unhappy culprit, found guilty of imperfect 
exercise, approaches at his command. The culprit falters excuses, 
and professes a determination to do better tomorrow. Mr. Creakle 
cuts a joke before he beats him, and we laugh at it,—miserable 
little dogs, we laugh, with our visages as white as ashes, and our 
hearts sinking into our boots. 

Here I sit at the desk again, on a drowsy summer afternoon. A 
buzz and hum go up around me, as 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. Creakle, blinking at him like a young owl; when sleep 
overpowers me for a minute, he still looms through my slumber, 
ruling those ciphering-books, until he softly comes behind me and 
wakes me to plainer perception of him, with a red ridge across my 
back. 

Here I am in the playground, with 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 dinner, stands for him, and I eye 

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that instead. If he shows his face near it, mine assumes an 
imploring and submissive expression. If he looks out through the 
glass, the boldest boy (Steerforth excepted) stops in the middle of 
a shout or yell, and becomes contemplative. One day, Traddles 
(the most unfortunate boy in the world) breaks that window 
accidentally, with a ball. I shudder at this moment with the 
tremendous sensation of seeing it done, and 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 sausages, or roly-poly puddings, he was the 
merriest and most miserable of all the boys. He was always being 
caned—I think he was caned every day that half-year, except one 
holiday Monday when he was only ruler』d on both hands—and 
was always going to write to his uncle about it, and never did. 
After laying his head on the desk for a little while, he would cheer 
up, somehow, begin to laugh again, and draw skeletons all over his 
slate, before 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 hermit, who reminded himself by 
those symbols of mortality that caning couldn』t last for ever. But I 
believe he only did it because they were easy, and didn』t want any 
features. 

He was very honourable, Traddles was, and held it as a solemn 
duty in the boys to stand by one another. He suffered for this on 
several occasions; and particularly once, when Steerforth laughed 
in church, and the Beadle thought it was Traddles, and took him 
out. I see him now, going away in custody, despised by the 
congregation. He never said who was the real offender, though he 
smarted for it next day, and was imprisoned so many hours that he 

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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 Traddles, and we all felt that to 
be the highest praise. For my part, I could have gone through a 
good deal (though I was much less brave than Traddles, and 
nothing like so old) to have won such a recompense. 

To see Steerforth walk to church before us, arm-in-arm with 
Miss Creakle, was one of the great sights of my life. I didn』t think 
Miss Creakle equal to little Em』ly in point of beauty, and I didn』t 
love her (I didn』t dare); but I thought her a young lady of 
extraordinary attractions, and in point of gentility not to be 
surpassed. When Steerforth, in white trousers, carried her parasol 
for her, I 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 me, and 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. Creakle, who was very severe with 
me; but whenever I had been treated worse than usual, he always 
told me that I wanted a little of his pluck, and that he wouldn』t 
have stood it himself; which I felt he intended for encouragement, 
and considered to be very kind of him. There was one advantage, 
and only one that I know of, in Mr. Creakle』s severity. He found 
my placard in his way when he came up or down behind the form 
on which I sat, and wanted to make a cut at me in passing; for this 
reason it was soon taken off, and I saw it no more. 

An accidental circumstance cemented the intimacy between 

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Steerforth and me, in a manner that inspired me with great pride 
and satisfaction, though it sometimes led to inconvenience. It 
happened on one occasion, when he was doing me the honour of 
talking to me in the playground, that 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 night, asked me if I had 
got that book? 

I told him no, and explained how it was that I had read it, and 
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 memory, and I believed I 
recollected them very well. 

『Then I tell you what, young 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 arrangement, and we 
commenced carrying it into execution that very evening. What 
ravages I committed on my favourite authors in the course of my 
interpretation of them, I am not in a condition to say, and should 
be very unwilling to know; but I had a profound faith in them, and 
I had, to the best of my belief, a simple, earnest manner of 
narrating what I did narrate; and these qualities went a long way. 

The drawback was, that I was often sleepy at night, or out of 
spirits and indisposed to resume the story; and then it was rather 
hard work, and it must be done; for to disappoint or to displease 
Steerforth was of course out of the question. In the morning, too, 
when I felt weary, and should have enjoyed another hour』s repose 

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very much, it was a tiresome thing to be roused, like the Sultana 
Scheherazade, and forced into a long story before the getting-up 
bell rang; but Steerforth was resolute; and as he explained to me, 
in return, my sums and exercises, and anything in my tasks that 
was too hard for me, I was no loser by the transaction. Let me do 
myself justice, however. I was moved by no interested or selfish 
motive, nor 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 trifles, now, with an aching heart. 

Steerforth was considerate, too; and showed his consideration, 
in one particular instance, in an unflinching manner that was a 
little tantalizing, I suspect, to 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 oranges, and two bottles of cowslip wine. This 
treasure, as in duty bound, I laid at the feet of Steerforth, and 
begged him to dispense. 

『Now, I』ll tell you what, young Copperfield,』 said he: 『the wine 
shall be kept to wet your whistle when you are story-telling.』 

I blushed at the idea, and begged him, in my modesty, not to 
think of it. But he said he had observed I was sometimes hoarse— 
a little roopy was his exact expression—and it should be, every 
drop, devoted to the purpose he had mentioned. Accordingly, it 
was locked up in his box, and drawn off by himself in a phial, and 
administered to me through a piece of quill in the cork, when I 
was supposed to be in want of a restorative. Sometimes, to make it 
a more sovereign specific, he was so kind as to squeeze orange 
juice into it, or to stir it up with ginger, or dissolve a peppermint 
drop in it; and although I cannot assert that the flavour was 

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improved by these experiments, or that it was exactly the 
compound one would have chosen for a stomachic, the last thing 
at night and the first thing in the morning, I drank it gratefully and 
was very sensible of his attention. 

We seem, to me, to have been months over Peregrine, and 
months more over the other stories. The institution never flagged 
for want of a story, I 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 laugh, and with tears in my eyes— 
was a sort of chorus, in general; and affected to be convulsed with 
mirth at the comic parts, and to be overcome with fear when there 
was any passage of an alarming character in the narrative. This 
rather put me out, very often. It was a great jest of his, I recollect, 
to pretend that he couldn』t keep his teeth from chattering, 
whenever 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 Madrid, this unlucky joker 
counterfeited such an ague of terror, that he was overheard by Mr. 
Creakle, who was prowling about the passage, and handsomely 
flogged for disorderly conduct in the bedroom. Whatever I had 
within me that was romantic and dreamy, was 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 room, and the consciousness that this 
accomplishment of mine was bruited about among the boys, and 
attracted a good deal of notice to me though I was the youngest 
there, stimulated me to exertion. In a school carried on by sheer 
cruelty, whether it is presided over by a dunce or not, there is not 
likely to be much learnt. I believe our boys were, generally, as 

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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 advantage, than any one can do anything to advantage in a life 
of constant misfortune, torment, and worry. But my little vanity, 
and Steerforth』s help, urged me on somehow; and without saving 
me from much, if anything, in the way of punishment, made me, 
for the time I was there, an exception to the general body, 
insomuch that I did steadily pick up some crumbs of knowledge. 

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

We little thought, any one of us, I dare say, when I ate my 
breakfast that first morning, and went to sleep under the shadow 
of the peacock』s feathers to the sound of the flute, what 
consequences would come of the introduction into those almshouses of my insignificant person. But the visit had its unforeseen 
consequences; and of a serious sort, too, in their way. 

One day when Mr. Creakle kept the house from indisposition, 
which naturally diffused a lively joy through the school, there 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 thrice, and took notes of the principal offenders』 

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names, no great impression was made by it, as they were pretty 
sure of getting into trouble tomorrow, do what they would, and 
thought it wise, no doubt, to enjoy themselves today. 

It was, properly, a half-holiday; being Saturday. But as the 
noise in the playground would have disturbed Mr. Creakle, and 
the weather was not favourable for going out walking, we were 
ordered into school in the afternoon, and 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. Mell, who always did the drudgery, whatever it was, kept 
school by himself. If I could associate the idea of a bull or a bear 
with anyone so mild as Mr. Mell, I should think of him, in 
connexion with that afternoon when the uproar was at its height, 
as of one of those animals, baited by a thousand dogs. I recall him 
bending his aching head, supported on his bony hand, over 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 places, playing at puss in the corner with other boys; there 
were laughing boys, singing boys, talking boys, dancing boys, 
howling boys; boys shuffled with their feet, boys whirled about 
him, grinning, making faces, mimicking him behind his back and 
before his eyes; mimicking his poverty, his boots, his coat, his 
mother, everything belonging to him that they should have had 
consideration for. 

『Silence!』 cried Mr. Mell, suddenly rising up, and 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 me, boys?』 

It was my book that he struck his desk with; and as I stood 

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beside him, following his eye as it glanced round the room, I saw 
the boys all stop, some suddenly surprised, some half afraid, and 
some sorry perhaps. 

Steerforth』s place was at the bottom of the school, at the 
opposite end of the long room. He was lounging with his back 
against the wall, and his hands in his pockets, and looked at Mr. 
Mell with his mouth shut up as if he were whistling, when Mr. Mell 
looked at him. 

『Silence, Mr. Steerforth!』 said Mr. Mell. 

『Silence yourself,』 said Steerforth, turning red. 『Whom are you 
talking to?』 

『Sit down,』 said Mr. Mell. 

『Sit down yourself,』 said Steerforth, 『and mind your business.』 

There was a titter, and some applause; but Mr. Mell was so 
white, that silence immediately succeeded; and one boy, who had 
darted out behind him to imitate his mother again, changed his 
mind, and pretended to want a pen mended. 

『If you think, Steerforth,』 said Mr. Mell, 『that I am not 
acquainted with the power you can establish over any mind 
here』—he laid his hand, without considering what he did (as I 
supposed), upon my head—『or that I have not observed you, 
within a few minutes, urging your juniors on to every sort of 
outrage against me, you are mistaken.』 

『I don』t give myself the trouble of thinking at all about you,』 said 
Steerforth, coolly; 『so I』m not mistaken, as it happens.』 

『And when you make use of your position of favouritism here, 
sir,』 pursued Mr. Mell, with his lip trembling very much, 『to insult 
a gentleman—』 

『A what?—where is he?』 said Steerforth. 

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Here somebody cried out, 『Shame, J. 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 life, sir, and who never 
gave you the least offence, and the many reasons for not insulting 
whom you are old enough and wise enough to understand,』 said 
Mr. Mell, with his lips trembling more and more, 『you commit a 
mean and base action. You can sit down or stand up as you please, 
sir. Copperfield, go on.』 

『Young Copperfield,』 said Steerforth, coming forward up the 
room, 『stop a bit. I tell you what, Mr. Mell, once for all. When you 
take the liberty of calling me mean or base, or anything of that 
sort, you are an impudent beggar. You are always a beggar, you 
know; but when you do that, you are an impudent beggar.』 

I am not clear whether he was going to strike Mr. Mell, or Mr. 
Mell was going to strike him, or there was any such intention on 
either side. I saw a rigidity come upon the whole school as if they 
had been turned into stone, and found Mr. Creakle in the midst of 
us, with Tungay at his side, and Mrs. and Miss Creakle looking in 
at the door as if they were frightened. Mr. Mell, with his elbows on 
his desk and his face in his hands, sat, for some moments, quite 
still. 

『Mr. Mell,』 said Mr. Creakle, shaking him by the arm; and his 
whisper was so audible now, that Tungay felt it unnecessary to 
repeat his words; 『you have not forgotten yourself, I hope?』 

『No, sir, no,』 returned the Master, showing his face, and shaking 
his head, and rubbing his hands in great agitation. 『No, sir. No. I 
have remembered myself, I—no, Mr. Creakle, I have not forgotten 
myself, I—I have remembered myself, sir. I—I—could wish you 

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had remembered me a little sooner, Mr. Creakle. It—it—would 
have been more kind, sir, more just, sir. It would have saved me 
something, sir.』 

Mr. Creakle, looking hard at Mr. Mell, put his hand on Tungay』s 
shoulder, and got his feet upon the form close by, and sat upon the 
desk. After still looking hard at Mr. Mell from his throne, as he 
shook his head, and rubbed his hands, and remained in the same 
state of agitation, Mr. Creakle turned to Steerforth, and said: 

『Now, sir, as he don』t condescend to tell me, what is this?』 

Steerforth evaded the question for a little while; looking in 
scorn and anger on his opponent, and remaining silent. I could not 
help thinking even in that interval, I remember, what a noble 
fellow he was in appearance, and how homely and plain Mr. Mell 
looked opposed to him. 

『What did he mean by talking about favourites, then?』 said 
Steerforth at length. 

『Favourites?』 repeated Mr. Creakle, with the veins in his 
forehead swelling quickly. 『Who talked about favourites?』 

『He did,』 said Steerforth. 

『And pray, what did you mean by that, sir?』 demanded Mr. 
Creakle, turning angrily on his assistant. 

『I meant, Mr. 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 you, Mr. What』s-your-name』; and here Mr. Creakle 
folded his arms, cane and all, upon his chest, and made such a 
knot of his brows that his little eyes were hardly visible below 
them; 『whether, when you talk about favourites, you showed 

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proper respect to me? To me, sir,』 said Mr. Creakle, darting his 
head at him suddenly, and drawing it back again, 『the principal of 
this establishment, and your employer.』 

『It was not judicious, sir, I am willing to admit,』 said Mr. Mell. 『I 
should not have done so, if I had been cool.』 

Here Steerforth struck in. 

『Then he said I was mean, and then he said I was base, and then 
I called him a beggar. If I had been cool, perhaps I shouldn』t have 
called him a beggar. But I did, and I am ready to take the 
consequences of it.』 

Without considering, perhaps, whether there were any 
consequences to be taken, I felt quite in a glow at this gallant 
speech. It made an impression on the boys too, for there was a low 
stir among them, though no one spoke a word. 

『I am surprised, Steerforth—although your candour does you 
honour,』 said Mr. Creakle, 『does you honour, certainly—I am 
surprised, Steerforth, I must say, that you should attach such an 
epithet to any person employed and paid in Salem House, sir.』 

Steerforth gave a short laugh. 

『That』s not an answer, sir,』 said Mr. Creakle, 『to my remark. I 
expect more than that from you, Steerforth.』 

If Mr. Mell looked homely, in my eyes, before the handsome 
boy, it would be quite impossible to say how homely Mr. Creakle 
looked. 『Let him deny it,』 said Steerforth. 

『Deny that he is a beggar, Steerforth?』 cried Mr. Creakle. 『Why, 
where does he go a-begging?』 

『If he is not a beggar himself, his near relation』s one,』 said 
Steerforth. 『It』s all the same.』 

He glanced at me, and Mr. Mell』s hand gently patted me upon 

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the shoulder. I looked up with a flush upon my face and remorse 
in my heart, but Mr. Mell』s eyes were fixed on Steerforth. He 
continued to pat me kindly on the shoulder, but he looked at him. 

『Since you expect me, Mr. Creakle, to justify myself,』 said 
Steerforth, 『and to say what I mean,—what I have to say is, that his 
mother lives on charity in an alms-house.』 

Mr. Mell still looked at him, and still patted me kindly on the 
shoulder, and said to himself, in a whisper, if I heard right: 『Yes, I 
thought so.』 

Mr. Creakle turned to his assistant, with a severe frown and 
laboured politeness: 

『Now, you hear what this gentleman says, Mr. Mell. Have the 
goodness, if you please, to set him right before the assembled 
school.』 

『He is right, sir, without correction,』 returned Mr. Mell, in the 
midst of a dead silence; 『what he has said is true.』 

『Be so good then as declare publicly, will you,』 said Mr. Creakle, 
putting his head on one side, and rolling his eyes round the school, 
『whether it ever came to my knowledge until this moment?』 

『I believe not directly,』 he returned. 

『Why, you know not,』 said Mr. Creakle. 『Don』t you, man?』 

『I apprehend you never supposed my worldly circumstances to 
be very good,』 replied the assistant. 『You know what my position 
is, and always has been, here.』 

『I apprehend, if you come to that,』 said Mr. Creakle, with his 
veins swelling again bigger than ever, 『that you』ve been in a wrong 
position altogether, and mistook this for a charity school. Mr. Mell, 
we』ll part, if you please. The sooner the better.』 

『There is no time,』 answered Mr. Mell, rising, 『like the present.』 

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『Sir, to you!』 said Mr. Creakle. 

『I take my leave of you, Mr. Creakle, and all of you,』 said Mr. 
Mell, glancing round the room, and again patting me gently on the 
shoulders. 『James Steerforth, the 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 friend, to 
me, or 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 desk, and leaving the key in it 
for his successor, he went out of the school, with his property 
under his arm. Mr. Creakle then made a speech, through Tungay, 
in 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 Steerforth, while we 
gave three cheers—I did not quite know what for, but I supposed 
for Steerforth, and so joined in them ardently, though I felt 
miserable. Mr. Creakle then caned Tommy Traddles for being 
discovered in tears, instead of cheers, on account of Mr. Mell』s 
departure; and went back to his sofa, or his bed, or wherever he 
had come from. 

We were left to ourselves now, and looked very blank, I 
recollect, on one another. For myself, I felt so much self-reproach 
and contrition for my part in what had happened, that nothing 
would have enabled me to keep back my tears but the fear that 
Steerforth, who often looked at me, I saw, might think it 
unfriendly—or, I should rather say, considering our relative ages, 
and the feeling with which I regarded him, undutiful—if I showed 
the emotion which distressed me. He was very angry with 
Traddles, and said he was glad he had caught it. 

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Poor Traddles, who had passed the stage of lying with his head 
upon the desk, and was relieving himself as usual with a burst of 
skeletons, said he didn』t care. Mr. Mell was ill-used. 

『Who has ill-used him, you girl?』 said Steerforth. 

『Why, you have,』 returned Traddles. 

『What have I done?』 said Steerforth. 

『What have you done?』 retorted Traddles. 『Hurt his feelings, 
and lost him his situation.』 

『His feelings?』 repeated Steerforth disdainfully. 『His feelings 
will soon get the better of it, I』ll be bound. His feelings are not like 
yours, Miss Traddles. As to his situation—which was a precious 
one, wasn』t it?—do you suppose I am not going to write home, and 
take care that he gets some money? Polly?』 

We thought this intention very noble in Steerforth, whose 
mother was a widow, and rich, and would do almost anything, it 
was said, that he asked her. We were all extremely glad to see 
Traddles so put down, and exalted Steerforth to the skies: 
especially when he told us, as he condescended to do, that what he 
had done had been done expressly for us, and 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 night, Mr. 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 bed, I fancied it playing so sorrowfully 
somewhere, that I was quite wretched. 

I soon forgot him in the contemplation of Steerforth, who, in an 
easy amateur way, and 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; 

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and before he entered on his duties, dined in the parlour one day, 
to be introduced to Steerforth. Steerforth approved of him highly, 
and told us he was a Brick. Without exactly understanding what 
learned distinction was meant by this, I respected him greatly for 
it, and 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-year, out of the daily 
school-life, that made an impression upon me which still survives. 
It survives for many reasons. 

One afternoon, when we were all harassed into a state of dire 
confusion, and Mr. Creakle was laying about him dreadfully, 
Tungay came in, and called out in his usual strong way: 『Visitors 
for Copperfield!』 

A few words were interchanged between him and Mr. Creakle, 
as, who the visitors were, and what room they were to be shown 
into; and then I, who had, according to custom, stood up on the 
announcement being made, and felt quite faint with astonishment, 
was told to go by the back stairs and get a clean frill on, before I 
repaired to the dining-room. These orders I obeyed, in such a 
flutter and hurry of my young spirits as I had never known before; 
and when I got to the parlour door, and 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 lock, 
and stopped to have a sob before I went in. 

At first I saw nobody; but feeling a pressure against the door, I 
looked round it, and there, to my amazement, were Mr. Peggotty 
and Ham, ducking at me with their hats, and squeezing one 
another against the wall. I could not help laughing; but it was 

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much more in the pleasure of seeing them, than 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 once, I remember, 
during the visit) showed great concern when he saw me do this, 
and nudged Ham to say something. 

『Cheer up, Mas』r Davy bor』!』 said Ham, in his simpering way. 
『Why, how you have growed!』 

『Am I grown?』 I said, drying my eyes. I was not crying at 
anything in particular that I know of; but somehow it made me 
cry, to see old friends. 

『Growed, Mas』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 other, and then 
we all three laughed until I was in danger of crying again. 

『Do you know how mama is, Mr. Peggotty?』 I said. 『And how my 
dear, dear, old Peggotty is?』 

『Oncommon,』 said Mr. Peggotty. 

『And little Em』ly, and Mrs. Gummidge?』 

『On—common,』 said Mr. Peggotty. 

There was a silence. Mr. Peggotty, to relieve it, took two 
prodigious lobsters, and an enormous crab, and a large canvas bag 
of shrimps, out of his pockets, and 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 us, we took 
the liberty. The old Mawther biled 』em, she did. Mrs. Gummidge 
biled 』em. Yes,』 said Mr. Peggotty, slowly, who I thought appeared 
to stick to the subject on account of having no other subject ready, 

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『Mrs. Gummidge, I do assure you, she biled 』em.』 

I expressed my thanks; and Mr. Peggotty, after looking at Ham, 
who stood smiling sheepishly over the shellfish, without making 
any attempt to help him, said: 

『We come, you see, the wind and tide making in our favour, in 
one of our Yarmouth lugs to Gravesen』. My sister she wrote to me 
the name of this here place, and 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 dooty, humbly wishing him well and reporting of the 
fam』ly as they was oncommon toe-be-sure. Little Em』ly, you see, 
she』ll write to my sister when I go back, as I see you and as you 
was similarly oncommon, and so we make it quite a merry-gorounder.』 

I was obliged to consider a little before I understood what Mr. 
Peggotty meant by this figure, expressive of a complete circle of 
intelligence. I then thanked him heartily; and said, with a 
consciousness of reddening, that I supposed little Em』ly was 
altered too, since we used to pick up shells and pebbles on the 
beach? 

『She』s getting to be a woman, that』s wot she』s getting to be,』 said 
Mr. Peggotty. 『Ask him.』 

He meant Ham, who beamed with delight and assent over the 
bag of shrimps. 

『Her pretty face!』 said Mr. Peggotty, with 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 is, you might see it anywheres.』 

It was perfectly delightful to behold with what enthusiasm Mr. 

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Peggotty became inspired when he thought of his little favourite. 
He stands before me again, his bluff hairy face irradiating with a 
joyful love and pride, for which I can find no description. His 
honest eyes fire up, and sparkle, as if their depths were stirred by 
something bright. His broad chest heaves with pleasure. His 
strong loose hands clench themselves, in his earnestness; and he 
emphasizes what he says with a right arm that shows, in my pigmy 
view, like a sledge-hammer. 

Ham was quite as earnest as he. I dare say they would have said 
much more about her, if they had not been abashed by the 
unexpected coming in of Steerforth, who, seeing me in a corner 
speaking with two strangers, stopped in a song he was singing, 
and said: 『I didn』t know you were here, young 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 Steerforth, or in the desire to explain to him how I came 
to have such a friend as Mr. Peggotty, that I called to him as he 
was going away. But I said, modestly—Good Heaven, how it all 
comes back to me this long time afterwards!— 

『Don』t go, Steerforth, if you please. These are two Yarmouth 
boatmen—very kind, good people—who are relations of my nurse, 
and have come from Gravesend to see me.』 

『Aye, aye?』 said Steerforth, returning. 『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 him, in virtue of this carriage, 
his animal spirits, his delightful voice, his handsome face and 
figure, and, for aught I know, of some inborn power of attraction 

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besides (which I think a few people possess), to have carried a 
spell with him to which it was a natural weakness to yield, and 
which not many persons could withstand. I could not but see how 
pleased they were with him, and how they seemed to open their 
hearts to him in a moment. 

『You must let them know at home, if you please, Mr. Peggotty,』 I 
said, 『when that letter is sent, that Mr. Steerforth is very kind to 
me, and that I don』t know what I should ever do here without 
him.』 

『Nonsense!』 said Steerforth, laughing. 『You mustn』t tell them 
anything of the sort.』 

『And if Mr. Steerforth ever comes into Norfolk or Suffolk, Mr. 
Peggotty,』 I said, 『while I am there, you may depend upon it I shall 
bring him to Yarmouth, if he will let me, to see your house. You 
never saw such a good house, Steerforth. It』s made out of a boat!』 

『Made out of a boat, is it?』 said Steerforth. 『It』s the right sort of a 
house for such a thorough-built boatman.』 

『So 』tis, sir, so 』tis, sir,』 said Ham, grinning. 『You』re right, young 
gen』l』m』n! Mas』r Davy bor』, gen』l』m』n』s right. A thorough-built 
boatman! Hor, hor! That』s what he is, too!』 

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

『Well, sir,』 he said, bowing and chuckling, and tucking in the 
ends of his neckerchief at his breast: 『I thankee, sir, I thankee! I do 
my endeavours in my line of life, sir.』 

『The best of men can do no more, Mr. Peggotty,』 said Steerforth. 
He had got his name already. 

『I』ll pound it, it』s wot you do yourself, sir,』 said Mr. Peggotty, 

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shaking his head, 『and wot you do well—right well! I thankee, sir. 
I』m obleeged to you, sir, for your welcoming manner of me. I』m 
rough, sir, but I』m ready—least ways, I hope I』m ready, you 
unnerstand. My house ain』t much for to see, sir, but it』s hearty at 
your service if ever you should come along with Mas』r Davy to see 
it. I』m a reg』lar Dodman, I am,』 said Mr. Peggotty, by which he 
meant snail, and this was in allusion to his being slow to go, for he 
had attempted to go after every sentence, and had somehow or 
other come back again; 『but I wish you both well, and I wish you 
happy!』 

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

We transported the shellfish, or the 『relish』 as Mr. Peggotty had 
modestly called it, up into our room unobserved, and 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 pills, to 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 

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the changing season; of the frosty mornings when we were rung 
out of bed, and the cold, cold smell of the dark nights when we 
were rung into bed again; of the evening schoolroom dimly lighted 
and indifferently warmed, and the morning schoolroom which was 
nothing but a great shivering-machine; of the alternation of boiled 
beef with roast beef, and boiled mutton with roast mutton; of clods 
of bread-and-butter, dog』s-eared lesson-books, cracked slates, 
tear-blotted copy-books, canings, rulerings, hair-cuttings, rainy 
Sundays, suet-puddings, and a dirty atmosphere of ink, 
surrounding all. 

I well remember though, how the distant idea of the holidays, 
after seeming for an immense time to be a stationary speck, began 
to come towards us, and to grow and grow. How from counting 
months, we came to weeks, and 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 for, and was certainly to go 
home, had dim forebodings that I might break my leg first. How 
the breaking-up day changed its place fast, at last, from the week 
after next to next week, this week, the day after tomorrow, 
tomorrow, today, tonight—when I was inside the Yarmouth mail, 
and going home. 

I had many a broken sleep inside the Yarmouth mail, and many 
an incoherent dream of all these things. But when I awoke at 
intervals, the ground outside the window was not the playground 
of Salem House, and the sound in my ears was not the sound of 
Mr. Creakle giving it to Traddles, but the sound of the coachman 
touching up the horses. 

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Chapter 8 

MY HOLIDAYS. ESPECIALLY ONE HAPPY
AFTERNOON


When we arrived before day at the inn where the mail 
stopped, which was not the inn where my friend the 
waiter lived, I was shown up to a nice little bedroom, 
with DOLPHIN painted on the door. Very cold I was, I know, 
notwithstanding the hot tea they had given me before a large fire 
downstairs; and very glad I was to turn into the Dolphin』s bed, pull 
the Dolphin』s blankets round my head, and go to sleep. 

Mr. Barkis the carrier was to call for me in the morning at nine 
o』clock. I got up at eight, a little giddy from the shortness of my 
night』s rest, and was ready for him before the appointed time. He 
received me exactly as if not five minutes had elapsed since we 
were last together, and I had only been into the hotel to get change 
for sixpence, or something of that sort. 

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

『You look very well, Mr. Barkis,』 I said, thinking he would like 
to know it. 

Mr. Barkis rubbed his cheek with his cuff, and 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 message, Mr. Barkis,』 I said: 『I wrote to Peggotty.』 

『Ah!』 said Mr. Barkis. 

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Mr. Barkis seemed gruff, and answered drily. 

『Wasn』t it right, Mr. Barkis?』 I asked, after a little hesitation. 

『Why, no,』 said Mr. Barkis. 

『Not the message?』 

『The message was right enough, perhaps,』 said Mr. Barkis; 『but 
it come to an end there.』 

Not understanding what he meant, I repeated inquisitively: 
『Came to an end, Mr. Barkis?』 

『Nothing come of it,』 he explained, looking at me sideways. 『No 
answer.』 

『There was an answer expected, was there, Mr. Barkis?』 said I, 
opening my eyes. For this was a new light to me. 

『When a man says he』s willin』,』 said Mr. Barkis, turning his 
glance slowly on me again, 『it』s as much as to say, that man』s awaitin』 for a answer.』 

『Well, Mr. Barkis?』 

『Well,』 said Mr. Barkis, carrying his eyes back to his horse』s 
ears; 『that man』s been a-waitin』 for a answer ever since.』 

『Have you told her so, Mr. Barkis?』 

『No—no,』 growled Mr. Barkis, reflecting about it. 『I ain』t got no 
call to go and tell her so. I never said six words to her myself, I 
ain』t a-goin』 to tell her so.』 

『Would you like me to do it, Mr. Barkis?』 said I, doubtfully. 『You 
might tell her, if you would,』 said Mr. Barkis, with another slow 
look at me, 『that Barkis was a-waitin』 for a answer. Says you— 
what name is it?』 

『Her name?』 

『Ah!』 said Mr. Barkis, with a nod of his head. 

『Peggotty.』 

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『Chrisen name? Or nat』ral name?』 said Mr. Barkis. 

『Oh, it』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 
circumstance, and sat pondering and inwardly whistling for some 
time. 

『Well!』 he resumed at length. 『Says you, 「Peggotty! Barkis is 
waitin』 for a answer.」 Says she, perhaps, 「Answer to what?」 Says 
you, 「To 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 

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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, 

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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 

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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 

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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 

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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. 

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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, 

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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 

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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, 

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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. 

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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 

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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 

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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, 

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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 

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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.』 

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『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; 

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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 

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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. 

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Chapter 9 

I HAVE A MEMORABLE BIRTHDAY 

Ipass 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: 

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『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. 

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『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. 

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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, 

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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 

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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 

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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 

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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 

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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 

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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?』 

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『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 

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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 

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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 

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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 so, that tells the truth, I know.」 

『She tried to hold up after that; and many a time, when they 
told her she was thoughtless and light-hearted, made believe to be 

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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 night, a little more than a week before it happened, when she 
said to him: 「My dear, I think I am dying.」 

『「It』s off my mind now, Peggotty,」 she told me, when I laid her 
in her bed that night. 「He will believe it more and more, poor 
fellow, every day for a few days to come; and then it will be past. I 
am very tired. If this is sleep, sit 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-side, she always turned to me, as if there was rest where 
Peggotty was, and never fell asleep in any other way. 

『On the last night, in the evening, she kissed me, and said: 「If 
my baby should die too, Peggotty, please 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 mother, when she 
lay here, blessed him not once, but a thousand times.」』 

Another silence followed this, and 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 it, gave me such a 
patient smile, the dear!—so beautiful! 

『Daybreak had come, and the sun was rising, when she said to 
me, how kind and considerate Mr. Copperfield had always been to 
her, and how he had borne with her, and told her, when she 

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doubted herself, that a loving heart was better and stronger than 
wisdom, and that he was a happy man in hers. 「Peggotty, my 
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 you, for your face is going far off, and 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 mother, the idea of her as she had 
been of late had vanished from me. I remembered her, from that 
instant, only as the young mother of my earliest impressions, who 
had been used to wind her bright curls round and round her 
finger, and to dance with me at twilight in the parlour. What 
Peggotty had told me now, was so far from bringing me back to 
the later period, that it rooted the earlier image in my mind. It may 
be curious, but it is true. In her death she winged her way back to 
her calm untroubled youth, and cancelled all the rest. 

The mother who lay in the grave, was the mother of my infancy; 
the little creature in her arms, was myself, as I had once been, 
hushed for ever on her bosom. 

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Chapter 10 

I BECOME NEGLECTED, AND AM PROVIDED
FOR


The first act of business Miss Murdstone performed when 
the day of the solemnity was over, and light was freely 
admitted into the house, was to give Peggotty a month』s 
warning. Much as Peggotty would have disliked such a service, I 
believe she would have retained it, for my sake, in preference to 
the best upon earth. She told me we must part, and told me why; 
and we condoled with one another, in all sincerity. 

As to me or my future, not a word was said, or a step taken. 
Happy they would have been, I dare say, if they could have 
dismissed me at a month』s warning too. I mustered courage once, 
to 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 me, and so was Peggotty; but neither she nor I could 
pick up any information on the subject. 

There was one change in my condition, which, while it relieved 
me of a great deal of present uneasiness, might have made me, if I 
had been capable of considering it closely, yet more uncomfortable 
about the future. It was this. The constraint that had been put 
upon me, was quite abandoned. I was so far from being required 
to keep my dull post in the parlour, that on several occasions, 
when I took my seat there, Miss Murdstone frowned to me to go 
away. I was so far from being warned off from Peggotty』s society, 

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that, provided I was not in Mr. Murdstone』s, I was never sought 
out or inquired for. At first I was in daily dread of his taking my 
education in hand again, or of Miss Murdstone』s devoting herself 
to it; but I soon began to think that such fears were groundless, 
and 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 death, and in a kind 
of stunned state as to all tributary things. I can recollect, indeed, to 
have speculated, at odd times, on the possibility of my not being 
taught any more, or cared for any more; and growing up to be a 
shabby, moody man, lounging an idle life away, about the village; 
as well as on the feasibility of my getting rid of this picture by 
going away somewhere, like the hero in a story, to seek my 
fortune: but these were transient visions, daydreams I sat looking 
at sometimes, as if they were faintly painted or written on the wall 
of my room, and which, as they melted away, left the wall blank 
again. 

『Peggotty,』 I said in a thoughtful whisper, one evening, when I 
was warming my hands at the kitchen fire, 『Mr. Murdstone likes 
me less than he used to. He never liked me much, Peggotty; but he 
would rather not even see me now, if he can help it.』 

『Perhaps it』s his sorrow,』 said Peggotty, stroking my hair. 

『I am sure, Peggotty, I am sorry too. If I believed it was his 
sorrow, I should not think of it at all. But it』s not that; oh, no, it』s 
not that.』 

『How do you know it』s not that?』 said Peggotty, after a silence. 

『Oh, his sorrow is another and quite a different thing. He is 
sorry at this moment, sitting by the fireside with Miss Murdstone; 
but if I was to go in, Peggotty, he would be something besides.』 

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『What would he be?』 said Peggotty. 

『Angry,』 I answered, with an involuntary imitation of his dark 
frown. 『If he was only sorry, he wouldn』t look at me as he does. I 
am only sorry, and it makes me feel kinder.』 

Peggotty said nothing for a little while; and I warmed my 
hands, as silent as she. 

『Davy,』 she said at length. 

『Yes, Peggotty?』 

『I have tried, my dear, all ways I could think of—all the ways 
there are, and all the ways there ain』t, in short—to get a suitable 
service here, in Blunderstone; but there』s no such a thing, my 
love.』 

『And what do you mean to do, Peggotty,』 says I, wistfully. 『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 said, brightening a little, 
『and been as bad as lost. I shall see you sometimes, my dear old 
Peggotty, there. You won』t be quite at the other end of the world, 
will you?』 

『Contrary ways, please God!』 cried Peggotty, with great 
animation. 『As long as you are here, my pet, I shall come over 
every week of my life to see you. One day, every week of my life!』 

I felt a great weight taken off my mind by this promise: but 
even this was not all, for Peggotty went on to say: 

『I』m a-going, Davy, you see, to my brother』s, first, for another 
fortnight』s visit—just till I have had time to look about me, and get 
to be something like myself again. Now, I have been thinking that 
perhaps, as they don』t want you here at present, you might be let 

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to go along with me.』 

If anything, short of being in a different relation to every one 
about me, Peggotty excepted, could have given me a sense of 
pleasure at that time, it 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 
morning, when the bells were ringing, the stones dropping in the 
water, and the shadowy ships breaking through the mist; of 
roaming up and down with little Em』ly, telling her my troubles, 
and finding charms against them in the shells and pebbles on the 
beach; made a calm in my heart. It was ruffled next moment, to be 
sure, by a doubt of Miss Murdstone』s giving her consent; but even 
that was set at rest soon, for she came out to take an evening grope 
in the store-closet while we were yet in conversation, and 
Peggotty, with a boldness that amazed me, broached the topic on 
the spot. 

『The boy will be idle there,』 said Miss Murdstone, looking into a 
pickle-jar, 『and idleness is the root of all evil. But, to be sure, he 
would be idle here—or anywhere, in my opinion.』 

Peggotty had an angry answer ready, I could see; but she 
swallowed it for my sake, and remained silent. 

『Humph!』 said Miss Murdstone, still 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 her, without making any demonstration of joy, lest it 
should induce her to withdraw her assent. Nor could I help 
thinking this a prudent course, since she looked at me out of the 
pickle-jar, with as great an access of sourness as if her black eyes 

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had absorbed its contents. However, the permission was given, 
and was never retracted; for when the month was out, Peggotty 
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 before, but on this 
occasion he came into the house. And he gave me a look as he 
shouldered the largest box and went out, which I thought had 
meaning in it, if 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 years, and where the two strong attachments of 
her life—for my mother and myself—had been formed. She had 
been walking in the churchyard, too, very early; and she got into 
the cart, and sat in it with her handkerchief at her eyes. 

So long as she remained in this condition, Mr. 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 her, and to 
speak to me, he nodded his head and grinned several times. I have 
not the least notion at whom, or what he meant by it. 

『It』s a beautiful day, Mr. Barkis!』 I said, as an act of politeness. 

『It ain』t bad,』 said Mr. Barkis, who generally qualified his 
speech, and rarely committed himself. 

『Peggotty is quite comfortable now, Mr. Barkis,』 I remarked, for 
his satisfaction. 

『Is she, though?』 said Mr. Barkis. 

After reflecting about it, with a sagacious air, Mr. Barkis eyed 
her, and said: 

『Are you pretty comfortable?』 

Peggotty laughed, and answered in the affirmative. 

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『But really and truly, you know. Are you?』 growled Mr. Barkis, 
sliding nearer to her on the seat, and 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 her, and 
gave her another nudge; so that at last we were all crowded 
together in the left-hand corner of the cart, and I was so squeezed 
that I could hardly bear it. 

Peggotty calling his attention to my sufferings, Mr. Barkis gave 
me a little more room at once, and 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 neat, agreeable, 
and pointed manner, without the inconvenience of inventing 
conversation. He manifestly chuckled over it for some time. By 
and by he turned to Peggotty again, and repeating, 『Are you pretty 
comfortable though?』 bore down upon us as before, until the 
breath was nearly edged out of my body. By and by he made 
another descent upon us with the same inquiry, and the same 
result. At length, I got up whenever I saw him coming, and 
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-house, expressly on our 
account, and entertain us with broiled mutton and beer. Even 
when Peggotty was in the act of drinking, he was seized with one 
of those approaches, and almost choked her. But as we drew 
nearer to the end of our journey, he had more to do and less time 
for gallantry; and when we got on Yarmouth pavement, we were 
all too much shaken and jolted, I apprehend, to have any leisure 
for anything else. 

Mr. Peggotty and Ham waited for us at the old place. They 

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received me and Peggotty in an affectionate manner, and shook 
hands with Mr. Barkis, who, with his hat on the very back of his 
head, and a shame-faced leer upon his countenance, and 
pervading his very legs, presented but a vacant appearance, I 
thought. They each took one of Peggotty』s trunks, and we were 
going away, when 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 face, and answered, with an attempt to be 
very profound: 『Oh!』 

『It didn』t come to a end there,』 said Mr. Barkis, nodding 
confidentially. 『It was all right.』 

Again I answered, 『Oh!』 

『You know who was willin』,』 said my friend. 『It was Barkis, and 
Barkis only.』 

I nodded assent. 

『It』s all right,』 said Mr. Barkis, shaking hands; 『I』m a friend of 
your』n. You made it all right, first. It』s all right.』 

In his attempts to be particularly lucid, Mr. Barkis was so 
extremely mysterious, that I might have stood looking in his face 
for an hour, and most assuredly should have got as much 
information out of it as out of the face of a clock that had stopped, 
but for Peggotty』s calling me away. As we were going along, she 
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 dear, what should you think if I was to think of being 
married?』 

『Why—I suppose you would like me as much then, Peggotty, as 

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you do now?』 I returned, after a little consideration. 

Greatly to the astonishment of the passengers in the street, as 
well as of her relations going on before, the good soul was obliged 
to stop and embrace me on the spot, with many protestations of 
her unalterable love. 

『Tell me what should you say, darling?』 she asked again, when 
this was over, and we were walking on. 

『If you were thinking of being married—to Mr. Barkis, 
Peggotty?』 

『Yes,』 said Peggotty. 

『I should think it would be a very good thing. For then you 
know, Peggotty, you would always have the horse and cart to 
bring you over to see me, and could come for nothing, and be sure 
of coming.』 

『The sense of the dear!』 cried Peggotty. 『What I have been 
thinking of, this month back! Yes, my precious; and I think I 
should be more independent altogether, you see; let alone my 
working with a better heart in my own house, than I could in 
anybody else』s now. I don』t know what I might be fit for, now, as a 
servant to a stranger. And I shall be always near my pretty』s 
resting-place,』 said Peggotty, musing, 『and be able to see it when I 
like; and when I lie down to rest, I 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 over, and was 
wearing out the ring in my pocket.』 

『Look at me, Peggotty,』 I replied; 『and see if I am not really glad, 

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and don』t truly wish it!』 As indeed I did, with all my heart. 

『Well, my life,』 said Peggotty, giving me a squeeze, 『I have 
thought of it night and day, every way I can, and I hope the right 
way; but I』ll think of it again, and speak to my brother about it, 
and in the meantime we』ll keep it to ourselves, Davy, you and me. 
Barkis is a good plain creature,』 said Peggotty, 『and if I tried to do 
my duty by him, I think it would be my fault if I wasn』t—if I wasn』t 
pretty comfortable,』 said Peggotty, laughing heartily. This 
quotation from Mr. Barkis was so appropriate, and tickled us both 
so much, that we laughed again and again, and were quite in a 
pleasant humour when we came within view of Mr. Peggotty』s 
cottage. 

It looked just the same, except that it may, perhaps, have 
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 same, 
down to the seaweed in the blue mug in my bedroom. I went into 
the out-house to look about me; and the very same lobsters, crabs, 
and crawfish possessed by the same desire to pinch the world in 
general, appeared to be in the same state of conglomeration in the 
same old corner. 

But there was no little Em』ly to be seen, so I asked Mr. Peggotty 
where she was. 

『She』s at school, sir,』 said Mr. Peggotty, wiping 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 up, Mawther!』 cried Mr. Peggotty. 

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『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. Gummidge, whimpering and shaking her head, applied 
herself to blowing the fire. Mr. Peggotty, looking round upon us 
while she was so engaged, said in a low voice, which 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. 

Now, the whole place was, or it should have been, quite 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 come, and presently found myself strolling along the path to 
meet her. 

A figure appeared in the distance before long, and I soon knew 
it to be Em』ly, who was a little creature still in stature, though she 
was grown. But when she drew nearer, and I saw her blue eyes 
looking bluer, and her dimpled face looking brighter, and her 
whole self prettier and gayer, a curious feeling came over me that 
made me pretend not to know her, and pass by as if I were looking 
at something a long way off. I have done such a thing since in later 
life, or I am mistaken. 

Little Em』ly didn』t care a bit. She saw me well enough; but 
instead of turning round and calling after me, ran away laughing. 
This obliged me to run after her, and she ran so fast that we were 
very near the cottage before I caught her. 

『Oh, it』s you, is it?』 said little Em』ly. 

『Why, you knew who it was, Em』ly,』 said I. 

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『And didn』t you know who it was?』 said Em』ly. I was going to 
kiss her, but she covered her cherry lips with her hands, and said 
she wasn』t a baby now, and ran away, laughing more than ever, 
into the house. 

She seemed to delight in teasing me, which was a change in her 
I wondered at very much. The tea table was ready, and our little 
locker was put out in its old place, but instead of coming to sit by 
me, she went and bestowed her company upon that grumbling 
Mrs. Gummidge: and on Mr. Peggotty』s inquiring why, rumpled 
her hair all over her face to hide it, and could do nothing but 
laugh. 

『A little puss, it is!』 said Mr. Peggotty, patting 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 time, in a state of mingled 
admiration and delight, that made his face a burning red. 

Little Em』ly was spoiled by them all, in fact; and by no one 
more than Mr. Peggotty himself, whom she could have coaxed into 
anything, by only going and laying her cheek against his rough 
whisker. That was my opinion, at least, when I saw her do it; and I 
held Mr. Peggotty to be thoroughly in the right. But she was so 
affectionate and sweet-natured, and had such a pleasant manner 
of being both sly and shy at once, that she captivated me more 
than ever. 

She was tender-hearted, too; for when, as we sat round the fire 
after tea, an allusion was made by Mr. Peggotty over his pipe to 
the loss I had sustained, the tears stood in her eyes, and she 
looked at me so kindly across the table, that I felt quite thankful to 
her. 

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『Ah!』 said Mr. Peggotty, taking up her curls, and running them 
over his hand like water, 『here』s another orphan, you see, sir. And 
here,』 said Mr. Peggotty, giving Ham a backhanded knock in the 
chest, 『is another of 』em, though he don』t look much like it.』 

『If I had you for my guardian, Mr. Peggotty,』 said I, shaking my 
head, 『I don』t think I should feel much like it.』 

『Well said, Mas』r Davy bor』!』 cried Ham, in an ecstasy. 『Hoorah! 
Well said! Nor more you wouldn』t! Hor! Hor!』—Here he returned 
Mr. Peggotty』s back-hander, and little Em』ly got up and kissed Mr. 
Peggotty. 『And how』s your friend, sir?』 said Mr. Peggotty to me. 

『Steerforth?』 said I. 

『That』s the name!』 cried Mr. Peggotty, turning to Ham. 『I 
knowed it was something in our way.』 

『You said it was Rudderford,』 observed Ham, laughing. 

『Well!』 retorted Mr. Peggotty. 『And ye steer with a rudder, don』t 
ye? It ain』t fur off. How is he, sir?』 

『He was very well indeed when I came away, Mr. Peggotty.』 

『There』s a friend!』 said Mr. Peggotty, stretching out his pipe. 
『There』s a friend, if you talk of friends! Why, Lord love my heart 
alive, if it ain』t a treat to look at him!』 

『He is very handsome, is he not?』 said I, my 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 lion, 
and you can』t think how frank he is, Mr. Peggotty.』 

『And I do suppose, now,』 said Mr. Peggotty, looking at me 
through the smoke of his pipe, 『that in the way of book-larning 

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he』d take the wind out of a』most anything.』 

『Yes,』 said I, delighted; 『he knows everything. He is 
astonishingly clever.』 

『There』s a friend!』 murmured Mr. Peggotty, with 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 draughts, and beat 
you easily.』 

Mr. Peggotty gave his head another toss, as 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 
sing, Mr. Peggotty.』 

Mr. Peggotty gave his head another toss, as much as to say: 『I 
have no doubt of it.』 

『Then, he』s such a generous, fine, noble fellow,』 said I, quite 
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 on, very fast indeed, when my eyes rested on 
little Em』ly』s face, which was bent forward over the table, listening 
with the deepest attention, her breath held, her blue eyes 
sparkling like jewels, and the colour mantling in her cheeks. She 
looked so extraordinarily earnest and pretty, that I stopped in a 
sort of wonder; and they all observed her at the same time, for as I 
stopped, they laughed and looked at her. 

『Em』ly is like me,』 said Peggotty, 『and would like to see him.』 

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Em』ly was confused by our all observing her, and hung down 
her head, and her face was covered with blushes. Glancing up 
presently through her stray curls, and seeing that we were all 
looking at her still (I am sure I, for one, could have looked at her 
for hours), she ran away, and kept away till it was nearly bedtime. 

I lay down in the old little bed in the stern of the boat, and the 
wind came moaning on across the flat as it had done before. But I 
could not help fancying, now, that it moaned of those who were 
gone; and instead of thinking that the sea might rise in the night 
and float the boat away, I thought of the sea that had risen, since I 
last heard those sounds, and drowned my happy home. I recollect, 
as the wind and water began to sound fainter in my ears, putting a 
short clause into my prayers, petitioning that I might grow up to 
marry little Em』ly, and so dropping lovingly asleep. 

The days passed pretty much as they had passed before, 
except—it was a great exception—that little Em』ly and I seldom 
wandered on the beach now. She had tasks to learn, and needlework to do; and was absent during a great part of each day. But I 
felt that we should not have had those old wanderings, even if it 
had been otherwise. Wild and full of childish whims as Em』ly was, 
she was more of a little woman than I had supposed. She seemed 
to have got a great distance away from me, in little more than a 
year. She liked me, but she laughed at me, and tormented me; and 
when I went to meet her, stole home another way, and was 
laughing at the door when I came back, disappointed. The best 
times were when she sat quietly at work in the doorway, and I sat 
on the wooden step at her feet, reading to her. It seems to me, at 
this hour, that I have never seen such sunlight as on those bright 
April afternoons; that I have never seen such a sunny little figure 

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as I used to see, sitting in the doorway of the old boat; that I have 
never beheld such sky, such water, such glorified ships sailing 
away into golden air. 

On the very first evening after our arrival, Mr. Barkis appeared 
in an exceedingly vacant and awkward condition, and with a 
bundle of oranges tied up in a handkerchief. As he made no 
allusion of any kind to this property, he was supposed to have left 
it behind him by accident when he went away; until Ham, running 
after him to restore it, came back with the information that it was 
intended for Peggotty. After that occasion he appeared every 
evening at exactly the same hour, and always with a little bundle, 
to which he never alluded, and 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-cushion, half a bushel or so 
of apples, a pair of jet earrings, some Spanish onions, a box of 
dominoes, a canary bird and cage, and a leg of pickled pork. 

Mr. Barkis』s wooing, as I remember it, was 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 cart, and stare 
heavily at Peggotty, who was opposite. One night, being, as I 
suppose, inspired by love, he made a dart at the bit of wax-candle 
she kept for her thread, and put it in his waistcoat-pocket and 
carried it off. After that, his great delight was to produce it when it 
was wanted, sticking to the lining of his pocket, in a partially 
melted state, and pocket it again when it was done with. He 
seemed to enjoy himself very much, and not to feel at all called 
upon to talk. Even when he took Peggotty out for a walk on the 
flats, he had no uneasiness on that head, I believe; contenting 

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himself with now and then asking her if she was pretty 
comfortable; and I remember that sometimes, after he was gone, 
Peggotty would throw her apron over her face, and laugh for half-
an-hour. Indeed, we were all more or less amused, except that 
miserable Mrs. Gummidge, whose courtship would appear to have 
been of an exactly parallel nature, she was so continually 
reminded by these transactions of the old one. 

At length, when the term of my visit was nearly expired, it was 
given out that Peggotty and Mr. Barkis were going to make a day』s 
holiday together, and that little Em』ly and I were to accompany 
them. I had but a broken sleep the night before, in 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 breakfast, Mr. Barkis 
appeared in the distance, driving a chaise-cart towards the object 
of his affections. 

Peggotty was dressed as usual, in her neat and quiet mourning; 
but Mr. Barkis bloomed in a new blue coat, of which the tailor had 
given him such good measure, that the cuffs would have rendered 
gloves unnecessary in the coldest weather, while the collar was so 
high that it pushed his hair up on end on the top of his head. His 
bright buttons, too, were of the largest size. Rendered complete by 
drab pantaloons and a buff waistcoat, I thought Mr. Barkis a 
phenomenon of respectability. 

When we were all in a bustle outside the door, I found that Mr. 
Peggotty was prepared with an old shoe, which was to be thrown 
after us for luck, and which he offered to Mrs. Gummidge for that 
purpose. 

『No. It had better be done by somebody else, Dan』l,』 said Mrs. 
Gummidge. 『I』m a lone lorn creetur』 myself, and everythink that 

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reminds me of creetur』s that ain』t lone and lorn, goes contrary 

with me.』 

『Come, old gal!』 cried Mr. Peggotty. 『Take and heave it.』 

『No, Dan』l,』 returned Mrs. Gummidge, whimpering and shaking 
her head. 『If I felt less, I could do more. You don』t feel like me, 
Dan』l; thinks don』t go contrary with you, nor you with them; you 
had better do it yourself.』 

But here Peggotty, who had been going about from one to 
another in a hurried way, kissing everybody, called out from the 
cart, in 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; and, I am sorry to relate, cast a damp upon the 
festive character of our departure, by immediately bursting into 
tears, and sinking subdued into the arms of Ham, with the 
declaration that she knowed she was a burden, and had better be 
carried to the House at once. Which I really thought was a sensible 
idea, that Ham might have acted on. 

Away we went, however, on our holiday excursion; and the first 
thing we did was to stop at a church, where Mr. Barkis tied the 
horse to some rails, and went in with Peggotty, leaving little Em』ly 
and me alone in the chaise. I took that occasion to put my arm 
round Em』ly』s waist, and propose that as I was going away so very 
soon now, we should determine to be very affectionate to one 
another, and very happy, all day. Little Em』ly consenting, and 
allowing me to kiss her, I became desperate; informing her, I 
recollect, that I never could love another, and 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 I, 

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the 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 name, in the pleasure of looking at her. 

Mr. Barkis and Peggotty were a good while in the church, but 
came out at last, and then we drove away into the country. As we 
were going along, Mr. Barkis turned to me, and said, with a 
wink,—by the by, I should hardly have thought, before, that 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 now, if there was a 
tilt here?』 

『Clara Peggotty, again?』 I suggested. 

『Clara Peggotty Barkis!』 he returned, and burst into a roar of 
laughter that shook the chaise. 

In a word, they were married, and had gone into the church for 
no other purpose. Peggotty was resolved that it should be quietly 
done; and the clerk had given her away, and there had been no 
witnesses of the ceremony. She was a little confused when Mr. 
Barkis made this abrupt announcement of their union, and could 
not hug me enough in token of her unimpaired affection; but she 
soon became herself again, and said she was very glad it was over. 

We drove to a little inn in a by-road, where we were expected, 
and where we had a very comfortable dinner, and passed the day 
with great satisfaction. If Peggotty had been married every day for 
the last ten years, she could hardly have been more at her ease 
about it; it made no sort of difference in her: she was just the same 
as ever, and went out for a stroll with little Em』ly and me before 
tea, while Mr. Barkis philosophically smoked his pipe, and enjoyed 

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himself, I suppose, with the contemplation of his happiness. If so, 
it sharpened his appetite; for I distinctly call to mind that, 
although he had eaten a good deal of pork and greens at dinner, 
and had finished off with a fowl or two, he was obliged to have cold 
boiled bacon for tea, and disposed of a large quantity without any 
emotion. 

I have often thought, since, what an odd, innocent, out-of-theway kind of wedding it must have been! We got into the chaise 
again soon after dark, and drove cosily back, looking up at the 
stars, and talking about them. I was their chief exponent, and 
opened Mr. Barkis』s mind to an amazing extent. I told him all I 
knew, but 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 hearing, on that very 
occasion, that I was 『a young Roeshus』—by which I think he meant 
prodigy. 

When we had exhausted the subject of the stars, or rather when 
I had exhausted the mental faculties of Mr. Barkis, little Em』ly and 
I made a cloak of an old wrapper, and sat under it for the rest of 
the journey. Ah, how I loved her! What happiness (I thought) if we 
were married, and were going away anywhere to live among the 
trees and in the fields, never growing older, never growing wiser, 
children ever, rambling hand in hand through sunshine and 
among flowery meadows, laying down our heads on moss at night, 
in a sweet sleep of purity and peace, and buried by the birds when 
we were dead! Some such picture, with no real world in it, bright 
with the light of our innocence, and vague as the stars afar off, was 
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 

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am glad to think the Loves and Graces took such airy forms in its 
homely procession. 

Well, we came to the old boat again in good time at night; and 
there Mr. and Mrs. Barkis bade us good-bye, and drove away 
snugly to their own home. I felt then, for the first time, that 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 bed, Mr. Peggotty 
and Ham went out to fish. I felt very brave at being left alone in 
the solitary house, the protector of Em』ly and Mrs. Gummidge, 
and only wished that a lion or a serpent, or any ill-disposed 
monster, would make an attack upon us, that I might destroy him, 
and cover myself with glory. But as nothing of the sort happened 
to be walking about on Yarmouth flats that night, I provided the 
best substitute I could by dreaming of dragons until morning. 

With morning came Peggotty; who called to me, as usual, under 
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 home, and a 
beautiful little home it was. Of all the moveables in it, I 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 opened, let down, and became a desk, 
within which was a large quarto edition of Foxe』s Book of Martyrs. 
This precious volume, of which I do not recollect one word, I 

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immediately discovered and immediately applied myself to; and I 
never visited the house afterwards, but I kneeled on a chair, 
opened the casket where this gem was enshrined, spread my arms 
over the desk, and fell to devouring the book afresh. I was chiefly 
edified, I am afraid, by the pictures, which were numerous, and 
represented all kinds of dismal horrors; but the Martyrs and 
Peggotty』s house have been inseparable in my mind ever since, 
and are now. 

I took leave of Mr. Peggotty, and Ham, and Mrs. Gummidge, 
and little Em』ly, that day; and passed the night at Peggotty』s, in a 
little room in the roof (with the Crocodile Book on a shelf by the 
bed』s head) which was to be always mine, Peggotty said, and 
should always be kept for me in exactly the same state. 

『Young or old, Davy dear, as 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 day, as I 
used to keep your old little room, my darling; and if you was to go 
to China, you might think of it as being kept just the same, all the 
time you were away.』 

I felt the truth and constancy of my dear old nurse, with all my 
heart, and thanked her as well as I could. That was not very well, 
for she spoke to me thus, with her arms round my neck, in the 
morning, and I was going home in the morning, and I went home 
in the morning, with herself and Mr. Barkis in the cart. They left 
me at the gate, not easily or lightly; and it was a strange sight to 
me to see the cart go on, taking Peggotty away, and leaving me 
under the old elm-trees looking at the house, in which there was 
no face to look on mine with love or liking any more. 

And now I fell into a state of neglect, which I cannot look back 

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upon without compassion. I fell at once into a solitary condition,— 
apart from all friendly notice, apart from the society of all other 
boys of my own age, apart from all companionship but my own 
spiritless thoughts,—which seems to cast its gloom upon this 
paper as I write. 

What would I have given, to have been sent to the hardest 
school that ever was kept!—to have been taught something, 
anyhow, anywhere! No such hope dawned upon me. They disliked 
me; and they sullenly, sternly, steadily, overlooked 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 tried, as I believe, to put away the notion that I had any 
claim upon him—and succeeded. 

I was not actively ill-used. I was not beaten, or starved; but the 
wrong that was done to me had no intervals of relenting, and was 
done in a systematic, passionless manner. Day after day, week 
after week, month after month, I was coldly neglected. I wonder 
sometimes, when I think of it, what they would have done if I had 
been taken with an illness; whether I should have lain down in my 
lonely room, and languished through it in my usual solitary way, 
or whether anybody would have helped me out. 

When Mr. and Miss Murdstone were at home, I took my meals 
with them; in their absence, I ate and drank by myself. At all times 
I lounged about the house and neighbourhood quite disregarded, 
except that they were jealous of my making any friends: thinking, 
perhaps, that if I did, I might complain to someone. For this 
reason, though Mr. Chillip often asked me to go and see him (he 
was a widower, having, some years before that, lost a little small 
light-haired wife, whom I can just remember connecting in my 

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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 me, with the smell of 
the whole Pharmacopoeia coming up my nose, or pounding 
something in a mortar under his mild directions. 

For the same reason, added no doubt to the old dislike of her, I 
was seldom allowed to visit Peggotty. Faithful to her promise, she 
either came to see me, or met me somewhere near, once every 
week, and never empty-handed; but many and bitter were the 
disappointments I had, in being refused permission to pay a visit 
to her at her house. Some few times, however, at long intervals, I 
was allowed to go there; and then I found out that Mr. Barkis was 
something of a miser, or as Peggotty dutifully expressed it, was 『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 
coffer, his 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 scheme, a 
very Gunpowder Plot, for every Saturday』s expenses. 

All this time I was so conscious of the waste of any promise I 
had given, and of my being utterly neglected, that I should have 
been perfectly miserable, I have no doubt, but 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 life, which I can never lose the 
remembrance of, while I remember anything: and the recollection 
of which has often, without my invocation, come before me like a 
ghost, and haunted happier times. 

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I had been out, one day, loitering somewhere, in the listless, 
meditative manner that my way of life engendered, when, turning 
the corner of a lane near our house, I came upon Mr. Murdstone 
walking with a gentleman. I was confused, and was going by them, 
when the gentleman cried: 

『What! Brooks!』 

『No, sir, David Copperfield,』 I said. 

『Don』t tell me. You are Brooks,』 said the gentleman. 『You are 
Brooks of Sheffield. That』s your name.』 

At these words, I observed the gentleman more attentively. His 
laugh coming to my remembrance too, I knew him to be Mr. 
Quinion, whom I had gone over to Lowestoft with Mr. Murdstone 
to see, before—it is no matter—I need not recall when. 

『And how do you get on, and where are you being educated, 
Brooks?』 said Mr. Quinion. 

He had put his hand upon my shoulder, and turned me about, 
to walk with them. I did not know what to reply, and 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 old, double look was on me for a moment; and then his 
eyes darkened with a frown, as it turned, in its aversion, 
elsewhere. 

『Humph!』 said Mr. Quinion, looking at us both, I thought. 『Fine 
weather!』 

Silence ensued, and I was considering how I could best 
disengage my shoulder from his hand, and go away, when he said: 

『I suppose you are a pretty sharp fellow still? Eh, Brooks?』 

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『Aye! He is sharp enough,』 said Mr. Murdstone, impatiently. 
『You had better let him go. He will not thank you for troubling 
him.』 

On this hint, Mr. Quinion released me, and I made the best of 
my way home. Looking back as I turned into the front garden, I 
saw Mr. Murdstone leaning against the wicket of the churchyard, 
and Mr. Quinion talking to him. They were both looking after me, 
and I felt that they were speaking of me. 

Mr. Quinion lay at our house that night. After breakfast, the 
next morning, I had put my chair away, and was going out of the 
room, when Mr. Murdstone called me back. He then gravely 
repaired to another table, where his sister sat herself at her desk. 
Mr. Quinion, with his hands in his pockets, stood 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 Murdstone, leave it to me, if you please. I say, David, to 
the young this is a world for action, and not for moping and 
droning in. It is especially so for a young boy of your disposition, 
which 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 world, and to bend it and break it.』 

『For stubbornness won』t do here,』 said his sister 『What it wants 
is, to be crushed. And crushed it must be. Shall be, too!』 

He gave her a look, half in remonstrance, half in approval, and 
went on: 

『I suppose you know, David, that I am not rich. At any rate, you 
know it now. You have received some considerable education 

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already. Education is costly; and even if it were not, and I could 
afford it, I am of opinion that it would not be at all advantageous to 
you to be kept at school. What is before you, is a fight with the 
world; and the sooner you begin it, the better.』 

I think it occurred to me that I had already begun it, in my poor 
way: but it occurs to me now, whether or no. 

『You have heard the 「counting-house」 mentioned sometimes,』 
said Mr. Murdstone. 

『The counting-house, sir?』 I repeated. 『Of Murdstone and 
Grinby, in the wine trade,』 he replied. 

I suppose I looked uncertain, for he went on hastily: 

『You have heard the 「counting-house」 mentioned, or the 
business, or the cellars, or the wharf, or something about it.』 

『I think I have heard the business mentioned, sir,』 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』t, on the same 
terms, give employment to you.』 

『He having,』 Mr. Quinion observed in a low voice, and half 
turning round, 『no other prospect, Murdstone.』 

Mr. Murdstone, with an impatient, even an angry gesture, 
resumed, without noticing what he had said: 

『Those terms are, that you will earn enough for yourself to 
provide for your eating and drinking, and pocket-money. Your 

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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 you, too,』 said Mr. 
Murdstone; 『as you will not be able, yet awhile, to get them for 
yourself. So you are now going to London, David, with Mr. 
Quinion, to begin the world on your own account.』 

『In short, you 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 me, I have no distinct 
remembrance whether it pleased or frightened me. My impression 
is, that I was in a state of confusion about it, and, oscillating 
between the two points, touched neither. Nor had I much time for 
the clearing of my thoughts, as Mr. Quinion was to go upon the 
morrow. 

Behold me, on the morrow, in a much-worn little white hat, 
with a black crape round it for my mother, a black jacket, and a 
pair of hard, stiff 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 attired, and with my 
little worldly all before me in a small trunk, sitting, a lone lorn 
child (as Mrs. Gummidge might have said), in the post-chaise that 
was carrying Mr. Quinion to the London coach at Yarmouth! See, 
how 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 more, and 
the sky is empty! 

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Chapter 11 

I BEGIN LIFE ON MY OWN ACCOUNT, AND
DON』T LIKE IT


Iknow enough of the world now, to have almost lost the 
capacity of being much surprised by anything; but it is matter 
of some surprise to me, even now, that I can have been so 
easily thrown away at such an age. A child of excellent abilities, 
and with strong powers of observation, quick, eager, delicate, and 
soon hurt bodily or mentally, it seems wonderful to me that 
nobody should have made any sign in my behalf. But none was 
made; and I became, at ten years old, a 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 street, 
curving down hill to the river, with some stairs at the end, where 
people took boat. It was a crazy old house with a wharf of its own, 
abutting on the water when the tide was in, and on the mud when 
the tide was out, and literally overrun with rats. Its panelled 
rooms, discoloured with the dirt and smoke of a hundred years, I 
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 things, not of many years ago, in my 
mind, but of the present instant. They are all before me, just as 
they were in the evil hour when I went among them for the first 
time, with my trembling hand in Mr. Quinion』s. 

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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 
went, but 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 traffic, and that 
certain men and boys were employed to examine them against the 
light, and reject those that were flawed, and to rinse and wash 
them. When the empty bottles ran short, there were labels to be 
pasted on full ones, or corks to be fitted to them, or seals to be put 
upon the corks, or 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 us, counting me. My working place 
was established in a corner of the warehouse, where Mr. Quinion 
could see me, when he chose to stand up on the bottom rail of his 
stool in the counting-house, and look at me through a window 
above the desk. Hither, on the first morning of my so auspiciously 
beginning life on my own account, the oldest of the regular boys 
was summoned to show me my business. His name was Mick 
Walker, and he wore a ragged apron and a paper cap. He informed 
me that his father was a bargeman, and walked, in a black velvet 
head-dress, in 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 
discovered, however, that this youth had not been christened by 
that name, but that it had been bestowed upon him in the 
warehouse, on account of his complexion, which was pale or 
mealy. Mealy』s father was a waterman, who had the additional 
distinction of being a fireman, and was engaged as such at one of 

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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, Traddles, and the rest of those boys; and felt my hopes 
of growing up to be a learned and distinguished man, crushed in 
my bosom. The deep remembrance of the sense I had, of 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 learned, and thought, and delighted in, and raised my fancy 
and my emulation up by, would pass away from me, little by little, 
never to be brought back any more; cannot be written. As often as 
Mick Walker went away in the course of that forenoon, I mingled 
my tears with the water in which I was washing the bottles; and 
sobbed as if there were a flaw in my own breast, and it were in 
danger of bursting. 

The counting-house clock was at half past twelve, and there 
was general preparation for going to dinner, when Mr. Quinion 
tapped at the counting-house window, and beckoned to me to go 
in. I went in, and found there a stoutish, middle-aged person, in a 
brown surtout and black tights and shoes, with no more hair upon 
his head (which was a large one, and very shining) than there is 
upon an egg, and with a very extensive face, which he turned full 
upon me. His clothes were shabby, but he had an imposing shirt-
collar on. He carried a jaunty sort of a stick, with a large pair of 
rusty tassels to it; and a quizzing-glass hung outside his coat,—for 
ornament, I afterwards found, as he very seldom looked through 
it, and couldn』t see anything when he did. 

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『This,』 said Mr. Quinion, in allusion to myself, 『is he.』 

『This,』 said the stranger, with a certain condescending roll in his 
voice, and a certain indescribable air of doing something genteel, 
which impressed me very much, 『is Master Copperfield. I hope I 
see you well, sir?』 

I said I was very well, and hoped he was. I was sufficiently ill at 
ease, Heaven knows; but it was not in my nature to complain 
much at that time of my life, so I said I was very well, and hoped 
he was. 

『I am,』 said the stranger, 『thank Heaven, quite well. I have 
received a letter from Mr. Murdstone, in which he mentions that 
he would desire me to receive into an apartment in the rear of my 
house, which is at present unoccupied—and is, in short, to be let 
as a—in short,』 said the stranger, with 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 hand, and 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 commission, when he can get any. He 
has been written to by Mr. Murdstone, on the subject of your 
lodgings, and he will receive you as a lodger.』 

『My address,』 said Mr. Micawber, 『is Windsor Terrace, City 
Road. I—in short,』 said Mr. Micawber, with the same genteel air, 
and 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, 

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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. Micawber, in 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 heart, for 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 hat, and went out with his cane under his arm: 
very upright, and 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 Grinby, at a salary, I think, of 
six shillings a week. I am not clear whether it was six or seven. I 
am inclined to believe, from my uncertainty on this head, that it 
was six at first and seven afterwards. He paid me a week down 
(from his own pocket, I 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 strength, small as it was. I paid sixpence more for 
my dinner, which was a meat pie and a turn at a neighbouring 
pump; and passed the hour which was allowed for that meal, in 
walking about the streets. 

At the appointed time in the evening, Mr. Micawber 
reappeared. I washed my hands and face, to do the greater honour 
to his gentility, and we walked to our house, as I suppose I must 
now call it, together; Mr. Micawber impressing the name of 

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streets, and the shapes of corner houses upon me, as we went 
along, that I might find my way back, easily, in the morning. 

Arrived at this house in Windsor Terrace (which I noticed was 
shabby like himself, but also, like himself, made all the show it 
could), he presented me to Mrs. Micawber, a thin and faded lady, 
not at all young, who was sitting in the parlour (the first floor was 
altogether unfurnished, and 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 ever, in all my 
experience of the family, saw both the twins detached from Mrs. 
Micawber at the same time. One of them was always taking 
refreshment. 

There were two other children; Master Micawber, aged about 
four, and Miss Micawber, aged about three. These, and a dark-
complexioned young woman, with a habit of snorting, who was 
servant to the family, and informed me, before half an hour had 
expired, that she was 『a Orfling』, and came from St. Luke』s 
workhouse, in the neighbourhood, completed the establishment. 
My room was at the top of the house, at 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. Micawber, when she came up, twin 
and all, to show me the apartment, and sat down to take breath, 
『before I was married, when I lived with papa and mama, that I 
should ever find it necessary to take a lodger. But Mr. Micawber 
being in difficulties, all considerations of private feeling must give 
way.』 

I said: 『Yes, ma』am.』 

『Mr. Micawber』s difficulties are almost overwhelming just at 

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present,』 said Mrs. Micawber; 『and whether it is possible to bring 
him through them, I don』t know. When I lived at home with papa 
and mama, I really should have hardly understood what the word 
meant, in the sense in which I now employ it, but experientia does 
it,—as papa used to say.』 

I cannot satisfy myself whether she told me that Mr. Micawber 
had been an officer in the Marines, or whether I have imagined it. 
I only know that I believe to this hour that he WAS in the Marines 
once upon a time, without knowing why. He was a sort of town 
traveller for a number of miscellaneous houses, now; but made 
little or nothing of it, I 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 
stone, neither 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 age, or 
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 with, but this was the strain in which she began, and 
she went on accordingly all the time I knew her. 

Poor Mrs. Micawber! She said she had tried to exert herself, 
and so, I have no doubt, she had. The centre of the street door was 
perfectly covered with a great brass-plate, on 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 came, or proposed to come; or that the 
least preparation was ever made to receive any young lady. The 

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only visitors I ever saw, or heard of, were creditors. They used to 
come at all hours, and some of them were quite ferocious. One 
dirty-faced man, I think he was a boot-maker, used to edge himself 
into the passage as early as seven o』clock in the morning, and call 
up the stairs to Mr. Micawber—『Come! You ain』t out yet, you 
know. Pay us, will you? Don』t hide, you know; that』s mean. I 
wouldn』t be mean if I was you. Pay us, will you? You just pay us, 
d』ye hear? Come!』 Receiving no answer to these taunts, he would 
mount in his wrath to the words 『swindlers』 and 『robbers』; and 
these being ineffectual too, would sometimes go to the extremity of 
crossing the street, and roaring up at the windows of the second 
floor, where he knew Mr. Micawber was. At these times, Mr. 
Micawber would be transported with grief and mortification, even 
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 
afterwards, he would polish up his shoes with extraordinary pains, 
and go out, humming 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』clock, and to 
eat lamb chops, breaded, and drink warm ale (paid for with two 
tea-spoons that had gone to the pawnbroker』s) at four. On one 
occasion, when an execution had just been put in, coming home 
through some chance as early as six o』clock, I saw her lying (of 
course with a twin) under the grate in a swoon, with her hair all 
torn about her face; but I never knew her more cheerful than she 
was, that very same night, over a veal cutlet before the kitchen 
fire, telling me stories about her papa and mama, and the 
company they used to keep. 

In this house, and with this family, I passed my leisure time. My 

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own exclusive breakfast of a penny loaf and a pennyworth of milk, 
I provided myself. I kept another small loaf, and a modicum of 
cheese, on a particular shelf of a particular cupboard, to make my 
supper on when I came back at night. This made a hole in the six 
or seven shillings, I know well; and I was out at the warehouse all 
day, and had to support myself on that money all the week. From 
Monday morning until Saturday night, I had no advice, no 
counsel, no encouragement, no consolation, no assistance, no 
support, of any kind, from anyone, that I can call to mind, as I 
hope to go to heaven! 

I was so young and childish, and so little qualified—how could I 
be otherwise?—to undertake the whole charge of my own 
existence, that often, in going to Murdstone and Grinby』s, of a 
morning, I could not resist the stale pastry put out for sale at half-
price at the pastrycooks』 doors, and spent in that the money I 
should have kept for my dinner. Then, I went without my dinner, 
or bought a roll or a slice of pudding. I remember two pudding 
shops, between which I was divided, according 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 currants, and was rather a special pudding, but 
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 pudding, heavy and flabby, and with great flat 
raisins in it, stuck in whole at wide distances apart. It came up hot 
at about my time every day, and many a day did I dine off it. When 
I dined regularly and handsomely, I had a saveloy and a penny 
loaf, or a fourpenny plate of red beef from a cook』s shop; or a plate 

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of bread and cheese and a glass of beer, from a miserable old 
public-house opposite our place of business, called the Lion, or the 
Lion and something else that I have forgotten. Once, I remember 
carrying my own bread (which I had brought from home in the 
morning) under my arm, wrapped in a piece of paper, like a book, 
and going to a famous alamode beef-house near Drury Lane, and 
ordering a 『small plate』 of that delicacy to eat with it. What the 
waiter thought of such a strange little apparition coming in all 
alone, I don』t know; but I can see him now, staring at me as I ate 
my dinner, and bringing up the other waiter to look. I gave him a 
halfpenny for himself, and I wish he hadn』t taken it. 

We had half-an-hour, I think, for tea. When I had money 
enough, I used to get half-a-pint of ready-made coffee and a slice 
of bread and butter. When I had none, I used to look at a venison 
shop in Fleet Street; or I have strolled, at such a time, as far as 
Covent Garden Market, and stared at the pineapples. I was fond of 
wandering about the Adelphi, because it was a mysterious place, 
with those dark arches. I see myself emerging one evening from 
some of these arches, on a little public-house close to the river, 
with an open space before it, where 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 child, and so little, that frequently when I went into 
the bar of a strange public-house for a glass of ale or porter, to 
moisten what I had had for dinner, they 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 

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birthday. 

『Twopence-halfpenny,』 says the landlord, 『is the price of the 
Genuine Stunning ale.』 

『Then,』 says I, producing the money, 『just draw me a glass of the 
Genuine Stunning, if you please, with a good head to it.』 

The landlord looked at me in return over the bar, from head to 
foot, with a strange smile on his face; and instead of drawing the 
beer, looked round the screen and said something to his wife. She 
came out from behind it, with her work in her hand, and joined 
him in surveying me. Here we stand, all three, before me now. The 
landlord in his shirt-sleeves, leaning against the bar window-
frame; his wife looking over the little half-door; and I, in some 
confusion, looking up at them from outside the partition. They 
asked me a good many questions; as, what my name was, how old 
I was, where I lived, how I was employed, and how I came there. 
To all of which, that I might commit nobody, I invented, I am 
afraid, appropriate answers. They served me with the ale, though I 
suspect it was not the Genuine Stunning; and the landlord』s wife, 
opening the little half-door of the bar, and bending down, gave me 
my money back, and gave me a kiss that was half admiring and 
half compassionate, but all womanly and good, I am sure. 

I know I do not exaggerate, unconsciously and unintentionally, 
the scantiness of my resources or the difficulties of my life. I know 
that if a shilling were given me by Mr. Quinion at any time, I spent 
it in a dinner or a tea. I know that I worked, from morning until 
night, with common men and boys, a shabby child. I know that I 
lounged about the streets, insufficiently and unsatisfactorily fed. I 
know that, but for the mercy of God, I might easily have been, for 
any care that was taken of me, a little robber or a little vagabond. 

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Yet I held some station at Murdstone and Grinby』s too. Besides 
that Mr. Quinion did what a careless man so occupied, and dealing 
with a thing so anomalous, could, to treat me as one upon a 
different footing from the rest, I never said, to man or boy, how it 
was that I came to be there, or gave the least indication of being 
sorry that I was there. That I suffered in secret, and that I suffered 
exquisitely, no one ever knew but I. How much I suffered, it is, as I 
have said already, utterly beyond my power to tell. But I kept my 
own counsel, and I did my work. I knew from the first, that, if I 
could not do my work as well as any of the rest, I 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 them, my 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 Gregory, who was 
foreman of the packers, and another named Tipp, who was the 
carman, and wore a red jacket, used to address me sometimes as 
『David』: but I think it was mostly when we were very confidential, 
and when I had made some efforts to entertain them, over our 
work, with some results of the old readings; which were fast 
perishing out of my remembrance. Mealy Potatoes uprose once, 
and 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 abandoned, as such, altogether. I am solemnly 
convinced that I never for one hour was reconciled to it, or was 
otherwise than miserably unhappy; but I bore it; and even to 
Peggotty, partly for the love of her and partly for shame, never in 

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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 family, and used to walk about, busy with Mrs. Micawber』s 
calculations of ways and means, and heavy with the weight of Mr. 
Micawber』s debts. On a Saturday night, which was my grand 
treat,—partly because it was a great thing to walk home with six or 
seven shillings in my pocket, looking into the shops and thinking 
what such a sum would buy, and partly because I went home 
early,—Mrs. Micawber would make the most heart-rending 
confidences to me; also on a Sunday morning, when I mixed the 
portion of tea or coffee I had bought over-night, in a little shaving-
pot, and 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 conversations, and 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 tears, and 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 friendship, originating, I suppose, in our 
respective circumstances, sprung 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 baker, and had often not too 
much for themselves), until Mrs. Micawber took me into her entire 
confidence. This she did one evening as follows: 

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『Master Copperfield,』 said Mrs. Micawber, 『I make no stranger 
of you, and therefore do not hesitate to say that Mr. Micawber』s 
difficulties are coming to a crisis.』 

It made me very miserable to hear it, and 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 is, that there is nothing to eat in the house.』 

『Dear me!』 I said, in 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 
them, and with heartfelt emotion begged Mrs. Micawber to accept 
of them as a loan. But that lady, kissing me, and making me put 
them back in my pocket, replied that she couldn』t think of it. 

『No, my dear Master Copperfield,』 said she, 『far be it from my 
thoughts! But you have a discretion beyond your years, and can 
render me another kind of service, if 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 
tea, two salt, and a pair of sugars, I have at different times 
borrowed money on, in secret, with my own hands. But the twins 
are a great tie; and to me, with my recollections, of papa and 
mama, these transactions are very painful. There are still a few 
trifles that we could part with. Mr. Micawber』s feelings would 

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never allow him to dispose of them; and Clickett』—this was the girl 
from the workhouse—『being of a vulgar mind, would take painful 
liberties if so much confidence was reposed in her. Master 
Copperfield, if I might ask you—』 

I understood Mrs. Micawber now, and 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 morning, before I went to Murdstone and 
Grinby』s. 

Mr. Micawber had a few books on a little chiffonier, which he 
called the library; and those went first. I carried them, one after 
another, to a bookstall in the City Road—one part of which, near 
our house, was almost all bookstalls and bird shops then—and 
sold them for whatever they would bring. The keeper of this 
bookstall, who lived in a little house behind it, used to get tipsy 
every night, and to be violently scolded by his wife every morning. 
More than once, when I went there early, I had audience of him in 
a turn-up bedstead, with 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 he, with a shaking hand, 
endeavouring to find the needful shillings in one or other of the 
pockets of his clothes, which lay upon the floor, while his wife, 
with a baby in her arms and her shoes down at heel, never left off 
rating him. Sometimes he had lost his money, and then he would 
ask me to call again; but his wife had always got some—had taken 
his, I dare say, while he was drunk—and secretly completed the 
bargain on the stairs, as we went down together. At the 
pawnbroker』s shop, too, I began to be very well known. The 
principal gentleman who officiated behind the counter, took a 

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good deal of notice of me; and often got me, I recollect, to decline a 
Latin noun or adjective, or to conjugate a Latin verb, in his ear, 
while he transacted my business. After all these occasions Mrs. 
Micawber made a little treat, which 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 crisis, and he was 
arrested early one morning, and carried over to the King』s Bench 
Prison in the Borough. He told me, as 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, 
afterwards, that he was seen to play a lively game at skittles, 
before noon. 

On the first Sunday after he was taken there, I was to go and 
see him, and have dinner with him. I was to ask my way to such a 
place, and just short of that place I should see such another place, 
and just short of that I should see a yard, which I was to cross, and 
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 
how, when Roderick Random was in a debtors』 prison, there 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 gate, and we went 
up to his room (top story but one), and cried very much. He 
solemnly conjured me, I remember, to take warning by his fate; 
and to observe that if a man had twenty pounds a-year for his 
income, and spent nineteen pounds nineteen shillings and 
sixpence, he would be happy, but 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 

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amount, and put away his pocket-handkerchief, and cheered up. 

We sat before a little fire, with two bricks put within the rusted 
grate, one on each side, to prevent its burning too many coals; 
until another debtor, who shared the room with Mr. Micawber, 
came 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 overhead, with Mr. Micawber』s compliments, and I was 
his young friend, and would Captain Hopkins lend me a knife and 
fork. 

Captain Hopkins lent me the knife and fork, with his 
compliments to Mr. Micawber. There was a very dirty lady in his 
little room, and two wan girls, his daughters, with shock heads of 
hair. I thought it was better to borrow Captain Hopkins』s knife and 
fork, than Captain Hopkins』s comb. The Captain himself was in 
the last extremity of shabbiness, with large whiskers, and an old, 
old 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 had, 
on a shelf; and I divined (God knows how) that though the two 
girls with the shock heads of hair were Captain Hopkins』s 
children, the 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 knowledge, as surely as the knife and fork were in my hand. 

There was something gipsy-like and agreeable in the dinner, 
after all. I took back Captain Hopkins』s knife and fork early in the 
afternoon, and went home to comfort Mrs. Micawber with an 
account of my visit. She fainted when she saw me return, and 
made a little jug of egg-hot afterwards to console us while we 
talked it over. 

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I don』t know how the household furniture came to be sold for 
the family benefit, or who sold it, except that I did not. Sold it was, 
however, and carried away in a van; except the bed, a few chairs, 
and the kitchen table. With these possessions we encamped, as it 
were, in the two parlours of the emptied house in Windsor 
Terrace; Mrs. Micawber, the children, the Orfling, and 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 prison, where Mr. Micawber had now 
secured a room to himself. So I took the key of the house to the 
landlord, who was very glad to get it; and the beds were sent over 
to the King』s Bench, except mine, for which a little room was hired 
outside the walls in the neighbourhood of that Institution, very 
much to my satisfaction, since the Micawbers and I had become 
too used to one another, in our troubles, to 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 it, with the reflection that Mr. Micawber』s troubles 
had come to a crisis at last, I thought it quite a paradise. 

All this time I was working at Murdstone and Grinby』s in the 
same common way, and with the same common companions, and 
with the same sense of unmerited degradation as at first. But I 
never, happily for me no doubt, made a single acquaintance, or 
spoke to any of the many boys whom I saw daily in going to the 
warehouse, in coming from it, and 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, firstly, that I had grown more shabby, and secondly, that I 

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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 pass, and they lived more comfortably 
in the prison than they had lived for a long while out of it. I used to 
breakfast with them now, in virtue of some arrangement, of which 
I have forgotten the details. I forget, too, at what hour the gates 
were opened in the morning, admitting of my going in; but I know 
that I was often up at six o』clock, and that my favourite lounging-
place in the interval was old London Bridge, where I was wont to 
sit in one of the stone recesses, watching the people going by, or to 
look over the balustrades at the sun shining in the water, and 
lighting up the golden flame on the top of the Monument. The 
Orfling met me here sometimes, to 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 prison, and walk up and down the parade 
with Mr. Micawber; or play casino with Mrs. Micawber, and hear 
reminiscences of her papa and mama. Whether Mr. Murdstone 
knew where I was, I am unable to say. I never told them at 
Murdstone and Grinby』s. 

Mr. Micawber』s affairs, although past their crisis, were very 
much involved by reason of a certain 『Deed』, of which I used to 
hear a great deal, and which I suppose, now, to have been some 
former composition with his creditors, though I was so far from 
being clear about it then, that I am conscious of having 
confounded it with those demoniacal parchments which are held 
to have, once upon a time, obtained to a great extent in Germany. 
At last this document appeared to be got out of the way, somehow; 
at all events it ceased to be the rock-ahead it had been; and Mrs. 

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Micawber informed me that 『her family』 had decided that Mr. 
Micawber should apply for his release under the Insolvent Debtors 
Act, which would set him free, she expected, in about six weeks. 

『And then,』 said Mr. Micawber, who was present, 『I have no 
doubt I shall, please Heaven, begin to be beforehand with the 
world, and to live in a perfectly new manner, if—in short, if 
anything turns up.』 

By way of going in for anything that might be on the cards, I 
call to mind that Mr. Micawber, about this time, composed a 
petition to the House of Commons, praying for an alteration in the 
law of imprisonment for debt. I set down this remembrance here, 
because it is an instance to myself of the manner in which I fitted 
my old books to my altered life, and made stories for myself, out of 
the streets, and out of men and women; and how some main points 
in the character I shall unconsciously develop, I suppose, in 
writing my life, were gradually forming all this while. 

There was a club in the prison, in which Mr. Micawber, as a 
gentleman, was a great authority. Mr. Micawber had stated his 
idea of this petition to the club, and the club had strongly 
approved of the same. Wherefore Mr. Micawber (who was a 
thoroughly good-natured man, and as active a creature about 
everything but his own affairs as ever existed, and never so happy 
as when he was busy about something that could never be of any 
profit to him) set to work at the petition, invented it, engrossed it 
on an immense sheet of paper, spread it out on a table, and 
appointed a time for all the club, and all within the walls if they 
chose, to come up to his room and sign it. 

When I heard of this approaching ceremony, I was so anxious to 
see them all come in, one after another, though I knew the greater 

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part of them already, and they me, that I got an hour』s leave of 
absence from Murdstone and Grinby』s, and 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 it, 
supported Mr. Micawber in front of the petition, while my old 
friend Captain Hopkins (who had washed himself, to do honour to 
so solemn an occasion) stationed himself close to it, to read it to all 
who were unacquainted with its contents. The door was then 
thrown open, and the general population began to come in, in a 
long file: several waiting outside, while one entered, affixed his 
signature, and went out. To everybody in succession, Captain 
Hopkins said: 『Have you read it?』—『No.』—『Would you like to hear 
it read?』 If he weakly showed the least disposition to hear it, 
Captain Hopkins, in a loud sonorous voice, gave him every word of 
it. The Captain would have read it twenty thousand times, if 
twenty thousand people would have heard him, one 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 mouth, and delicious to taste; Mr. Micawber, 
meanwhile, listening with a little of an author』s vanity, and 
contemplating (not severely) the spikes on the opposite wall. 

As I walked to and fro daily between Southwark and 
Blackfriars, and lounged about at meal-times in obscure streets, 
the stones of which may, for anything I know, be worn at this 
moment by my childish feet, I wonder how many of these people 
were wanting in the crowd that used to come filing before me in 
review again, to the echo of Captain Hopkins』s voice! When my 

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thoughts go back, now, to that slow agony of my youth, I 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 
ground, I do not wonder that I seem to see and pity, going on 
before me, an innocent romantic boy, making his imaginative 
world out of such strange experiences and sordid things! 

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Chapter 12 

LIKING LIFE ON MY OWN ACCOUNT NO
BETTER, I FORM A GREAT RESOLUTION


In due time, Mr. Micawber』s petition was ripe for hearing; and 
that gentleman was ordered to be discharged under the Act, 
to 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 malice, but 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 settled, and some formalities 
observed, before he could be actually released. The club received 
him with transport, and held an harmonic meeting that evening in 
his honour; while Mrs. Micawber and I had a lamb』s fry in private, 
surrounded by the sleeping family. 

『On such an occasion I will give you, Master 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 dead, ma』am?』 I inquired, after drinking the toast in a 
wine-glass. 

『My mama departed this life,』 said Mrs. Micawber, 『before Mr. 
Micawber』s difficulties commenced, or at least before they became 
pressing. My papa lived to bail Mr. Micawber several times, and 
then expired, regretted by a numerous circle.』 

Mrs. Micawber shook her head, and dropped a pious tear upon 

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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 interest, I said to Mrs. 
Micawber: 

『May I ask, ma』am, what you and Mr. Micawber intend to do, 
now that Mr. Micawber is out of his difficulties, and at liberty? 
Have you settled yet?』 

『My family,』 said Mrs. Micawber, who always said those two 
words with an air, though I never could discover who came under 
the denomination, 『my family are of opinion that Mr. Micawber 
should quit London, and exert his talents in the country. Mr. 
Micawber is a man of great talent, Master Copperfield.』 

I said I was sure of that. 

『Of great talent,』 repeated Mrs. Micawber. 『My family are of 
opinion, that, with a little interest, something might be done for a 
man of his ability in the Custom House. The influence of my family 
being local, it 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 too, ma』am?』 

The events of the day, in combination with the twins, if not with 
the flip, had made Mrs. Micawber hysterical, and she shed tears as 
she replied: 

『I never will desert Mr. Micawber. Mr. Micawber may have 
concealed his difficulties from me in the first instance, but his 
sanguine temper may have led him to expect that he would 

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overcome them. The pearl necklace and bracelets which I 
inherited from mama, have been disposed of for less than half 
their value; and the set of coral, which was the wedding gift of my 
papa, has been actually thrown away for nothing. But I never will 
desert Mr. Micawber. No!』 cried Mrs. Micawber, more 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 on, looking at the 
wall; 『but I never will desert Mr. Micawber!』 

Mrs. Micawber having now raised her voice into a perfect 
scream, I was so frightened that I ran off to the club-room, and 
disturbed Mr. Micawber in the act of presiding at a long table, and 
leading the chorus of 

Gee up, Dobbin,
Gee ho, Dobbin,
Gee up, Dobbin,
Gee up, and gee ho—o—o!


—with the tidings that Mrs. Micawber was in an alarming state, 
upon which he immediately burst into tears, and came away with 
me with his waistcoat full of the heads and tails of shrimps, of 
which he had been partaking. 

『Emma, my angel!』 cried Mr. Micawber, running into the room; 
『what is the matter?』 

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『I never will desert you, Micawber!』 she exclaimed. 

『My life!』 said Mr. Micawber, taking 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 me, I was dissolved in tears), that he hung over her 
in a passionate manner, imploring her to look up, and to be calm. 
But the more he asked Mrs. Micawber to look up, the more she 
fixed her eyes on nothing; and the more he asked her to compose 
herself, the 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 
staircase, while he got her into bed. I would have taken my leave 
for the night, but he would not hear of my doing that until the 
strangers』 bell should ring. So I sat at the staircase window, until 
he came out with another chair and joined me. 

『How is Mrs. Micawber now, sir?』 I said. 

『Very low,』 said Mr. Micawber, shaking his head; 『reaction. Ah, 
this has been a dreadful day! We stand alone now—everything is 
gone from us!』 

Mr. Micawber pressed my hand, and groaned, and afterwards 
shed tears. I was greatly touched, and disappointed too, for 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 difficulties, I think, that they felt quite shipwrecked when 
they came to consider that they were released from them. All their 
elasticity was departed, and I never saw them half so wretched as 

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on this night; insomuch that when the bell rang, and Mr. 
Micawber walked with me to the lodge, and parted from me there 
with a blessing, I felt quite afraid to leave him by himself, he was 
so profoundly miserable. 

But through all the confusion and lowness of spirits in which 
we had been, so unexpectedly to me, involved, I 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 night, and in the sleepless hours which 
followed when I lay in bed, that 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 Micawbers, and had 
been so intimate with them in their distresses, and was so utterly 
friendless without them, that the prospect of being thrown upon 
some new shift for a lodging, and going once more among 
unknown people, was like being that moment turned adrift into 
my present life, with such a knowledge of it ready made as 
experience had given me. All the sensitive feelings it wounded so 
cruelly, all the shame and misery it kept alive within my breast, 
became more poignant as I thought of this; and I determined that 
the life was unendurable. 

That there was no hope of escape from it, unless the escape was 
my own act, I 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 me, consigned 
to Mr. Quinion, and in each there was a scrap of paper to the effect 
that J. M. trusted D. C. was applying himself to business, and 
devoting himself wholly to his duties—not the least hint of my ever 

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being anything else than the common drudge into which I was fast 
settling down. 

The very next day showed me, while my mind was in the first 
agitation of what it had conceived, that Mrs. Micawber had not 
spoken of their going away without warrant. They took a lodging 
in the house where I lived, for a week; at the expiration of which 
time they were to start for Plymouth. Mr. Micawber himself came 
down to the counting-house, in the afternoon, to tell Mr. Quinion 
that he must relinquish me on the day of his departure, and to give 
me a high character, which I am sure I deserved. And Mr. 
Quinion, calling in Tipp the carman, who was a married man, and 
had a room to let, quartered me prospectively on him—by our 
mutual consent, as he had every reason to think; for I said nothing, 
though my resolution was now taken. 

I passed my evenings with Mr. and Mrs. Micawber, during 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 
Sunday, they invited me to dinner; and we had a loin of pork and 
apple sauce, and 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 Orfling, who was about to be disbanded. 

We had a very pleasant day, though we were all in a tender 
state about our approaching separation. 

『I shall never, Master Copperfield,』 said Mrs. Micawber, 『revert 
to the period when Mr. Micawber was in difficulties, without 
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.』 

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『My dear,』 said Mr. Micawber; 『Copperfield,』 for so he had been 
accustomed to call me, of late, 『has a heart to feel for the distresses 
of his fellow-creatures when they are behind a cloud, and a head 
to plan, and a hand to—in short, a general ability to dispose of 
such available property as could be made away with.』 

I expressed my sense of this commendation, and 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 life, and—and of some 
experience, in short, in difficulties, generally speaking. At present, 
and until something turns up (which I am, I may say, hourly 
expecting), I have nothing to bestow but advice. Still my advice is 
so far worth taking, that—in short, that I have never taken it 
myself, and am the』—here Mr. Micawber, who had been beaming 
and smiling, all over his head and face, up to the present moment, 
checked himself and frowned—『the miserable wretch you behold.』 

『My dear Micawber!』 urged his wife. 

『I say,』 returned Mr. Micawber, quite forgetting himself, and 
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 all, we ne』er shall—in short, make the acquaintance, 
probably, of anybody else possessing, at his time of life, the same 
legs for gaiters, and able to read the same description of print, 
without spectacles. But he applied that maxim to our marriage, my 
dear; and that was so far prematurely entered into, in 

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consequence, that I never recovered the expense.』 Mr. Micawber 
looked aside at Mrs. Micawber, and added: 『Not that I am sorry for 
it. Quite the contrary, my love.』 After which, he was grave for a 
minute or so. 

『My other piece of advice, Copperfield,』 said Mr. Micawber, 『you 
know. Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure 
nineteen nineteen and six, result happiness. Annual income 
twenty pounds, annual expenditure twenty pounds ought and six, 
result misery. The blossom is blighted, the leaf is withered, the god 
of day goes down upon the dreary scene, and—and in short you 
are for ever floored. As I am!』 

To make his example the more impressive, Mr. Micawber drank 
a glass of punch with an air of great enjoyment and satisfaction, 
and whistled the College Hornpipe. 

I did not fail to assure him that I would store these precepts in 
my mind, though indeed I had no need to do so, for, at the time, 
they affected me visibly. Next morning I met the whole family at 
the coach office, and saw them, with a desolate heart, take their 
places outside, at the back. 

『Master Copperfield,』 said Mrs. Micawber, 『God bless you! I 
never can forget all that, you know, and I never would if I could.』 

『Copperfield,』 said Mr. Micawber, 『farewell! Every happiness 
and prosperity! If, in the progress of revolving years, I 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 think, as Mrs. Micawber sat at the back of the coach, with the 

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children, and I stood in the road looking wistfully at them, a mist 
cleared from her eyes, and she saw what a little creature I really 
was. I think so, because she beckoned to me to climb up, with 
quite a new and motherly expression in her face, and put her arm 
round my neck, and 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 started, and 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 
road, and then shook hands and said good-bye; she going back, I 
suppose, to St. Luke』s workhouse, as 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 go, by some means or other, 
down into the country, to the only relation I had in the world, and 
tell my story to my aunt, Miss Betsey. I have already observed that 
I don』t know how this desperate idea came into my brain. But, 
once there, it 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 it, but my mind was thoroughly made up that it must be carried 
into execution. 

Again, and again, and a hundred times again, since the night 
when the thought had first occurred to me and banished sleep, I 
had gone over that old story of my poor mother』s about my birth, 
which 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 
story, and walked out of it, a dread and awful personage; but there 
was one little trait in her behaviour which I liked to dwell on, and 

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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 fancy, and might have had no foundation 
whatever in fact, I made a little picture, out of it, of my terrible 
aunt relenting towards the girlish beauty that I recollected so well 
and loved so much, which softened the whole narrative. It is very 
possible that it had been in my mind a long time, and had 
gradually engendered my determination. 

As I did not even know where Miss Betsey lived, I wrote a long 
letter to Peggotty, and asked her, incidentally, if she remembered; 
pretending that I had heard of such a lady living at a certain place 
I named at random, and had a curiosity to know if it were the 
same. In the course of that letter, I 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 it, I should be very much obliged to 
her, and would tell her afterwards what I had wanted it for. 

Peggotty』s answer soon arrived, and was, as usual, full 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 Dover, but whether 
at Dover itself, at Hythe, Sandgate, or Folkestone, she could not 
say. One of our men, however, informing me on my asking him 
about these places, that they were all close together, I deemed this 
enough for my object, and resolved to set out at the end of that 
week. 

Being a very honest little creature, and unwilling to disgrace 
the memory I was going to leave behind me at Murdstone and 
Grinby』s, I considered myself bound to remain until Saturday 

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night; and, as 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 hour, to receive my stipend. For this express reason, I had 
borrowed the half-guinea, that I might not be without a fund for 
my travelling-expenses. Accordingly, when the Saturday night 
came, and we were all waiting in the warehouse to be paid, and 
Tipp the carman, who always took precedence, went in first to 
draw his money, I shook Mick Walker by the hand; asked him, 
when it came to his turn to be paid, to say to Mr. Quinion that I 
had gone to move my box to Tipp』s; and, bidding a last good night 
to Mealy Potatoes, ran away. 

My box was at my old lodging, over the water, and I had written 
a direction for it on the back of one of our address cards that we 
nailed on the casks: 『Master David, to be left till called for, at the 
Coach Office, Dover.』 This I had in my pocket ready to put on the 
box, after I should have got it out of the house; and as I went 
towards my lodging, I 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-cart, standing near the Obelisk, in the Blackfriars Road, 
whose eye I caught as I was going by, and who, addressing me as 
『Sixpenn』orth of bad ha』pence,』 hoped 『I should know him agin to 
swear to』—in allusion, I have no doubt, to my staring at him. I 
stopped to assure him that I had not done so in bad manners, but 
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 mine, which was down that street there, and which I 

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wanted him to take to the Dover coach office for sixpence. 

『Done with you for a tanner!』 said the long-legged young man, 
and directly got upon his cart, which was nothing but a large 
wooden tray on wheels, and rattled away at such a rate, that it was 
as much as I could do to keep pace with the donkey. 

There was a defiant manner about this young man, and 
particularly about the way in which he chewed straw as he spoke 
to me, that I did not much like; as the bargain was made, however, 
I took him upstairs to the room I was leaving, and we brought the 
box down, and put it on his cart. Now, I was unwilling to put the 
direction-card on there, lest any of my landlord』s family should 
fathom what I was doing, and detain me; so I said to the young 
man that I would be glad if he would stop for a minute, when he 
came to the dead-wall of the King』s Bench prison. The words were 
no sooner out of my mouth, than he rattled away as if he, my box, 
the cart, and the donkey, were all equally mad; and I was quite out 
of breath with running and calling after him, when I caught him at 
the place appointed. 

Being much flushed and excited, I 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 deal, had just tied 
the card on very much to my satisfaction, when I felt myself 
violently chucked under the chin by the long-legged young man, 
and saw my half-guinea fly out of my mouth into his hand. 

『Wot!』 said the young man, seizing me by my jacket collar, with 
a frightful grin. 『This is a pollis case, is it? You』re a-going to bolt, 
are you? Come to the pollis, you young warmin, come to the 
pollis!』 

『You give me my money back, if you please,』 said I, very much 

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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 money, will you,』 I cried, bursting into 
tears. 

The young man still replied: 『Come to the pollis!』 and was 
dragging me against the donkey in a violent manner, as if there 
were any affinity between that animal and a magistrate, when he 
changed his mind, jumped into the cart, sat upon my box, and, 
exclaiming that he would drive to the pollis straight, rattled away 
harder than ever. 

I ran after him as fast as I could, but I had no breath to call out 
with, and should not have dared to call out, now, if I had. I 
narrowly escaped being run over, twenty times at least, in half a 
mile. Now I lost him, now I saw him, now I lost him, now I was cut 
at with a whip, now shouted at, now down in the mud, now up 
again, now running into somebody』s arms, now running headlong 
at a post. At length, confused by fright and heat, and 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; and, panting and crying, but never stopping, 
faced about for Greenwich, which I had understood was on the 
Dover Road: taking very little more out of the world, towards the 
retreat of my aunt, Miss Betsey, than I had brought into it, on the 
night when my arrival gave her so much umbrage. 

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Chapter 13 

THE SEQUEL OF MY RESOLUTION 

For anything I know, I may have had some wild idea of 
running all the way to Dover, when I gave up the pursuit 
of the young man with the donkey-cart, and started for 
Greenwich. My scattered senses were soon collected as to that 
point, if I had; for I came to a stop in the Kent Road, at a terrace 
with a piece of water before it, and a great foolish image in the 
middle, blowing a dry shell. Here I sat down on a doorstep, quite 
spent and exhausted with the efforts I had already made, and 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 ten, as I sat 
resting. But it was a summer night, fortunately, and fine weather. 
When I had recovered my breath, and had got rid of a stifling 
sensation in my throat, I rose up and went on. In the midst of my 
distress, I had no notion of going back. I doubt if I should have had 
any, though 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 myself, as a scrap of newspaper intelligence, 
my being found dead in a day or two, under some hedge; and I 
trudged on miserably, though as fast as I could, until I happened 
to pass a little shop, where it was written up that ladies』 and 
gentlemen』s wardrobes were bought, and that the best price was 
given for rags, bones, and kitchen-stuff. The master of this shop 

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was sitting at the door in his shirt-sleeves, smoking; and as there 
were a great many coats and pairs of trousers dangling from the 
low ceiling, and only two feeble candles burning inside to show 
what they were, I fancied that he looked like a man of a revengeful 
disposition, who had hung all his enemies, and 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-street, took off my waistcoat, rolled it 
neatly under my arm, and came back to the shop door. 

『If you please, sir,』 I said, 『I am to sell this for a fair price.』 

Mr. Dolloby—Dolloby was the name over the shop door, at 
least—took the waistcoat, stood his pipe on its head, against the 
door-post, went into the shop, followed by me, snuffed the two 
candles with his fingers, spread the waistcoat on the counter, and 
looked at it there, held it up against the light, and looked at it 
there, and ultimately said: 

『What do you call a price, now, for this here little weskit?』 

『Oh! you know best, sir,』 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 hinted, after some hesitation. 

Mr. Dolloby rolled it up again, and 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 me, a perfect stranger, the unpleasantness of asking 
Mr. Dolloby to rob his family on my account. My circumstances 
being so very pressing, however, I said I would take ninepence for 
it, if he pleased. Mr. Dolloby, not without some grumbling, gave 

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ninepence. I wished him good night, and walked out of the shop 
the richer by that sum, and the poorer by a waistcoat. But when I 
buttoned my jacket, that was not much. Indeed, I foresaw pretty 
clearly that my jacket would go next, and that I should have to 
make the best of my way to Dover in a shirt and a pair of trousers, 
and 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 me, and of the 
young man with the donkey-cart having used me cruelly, I 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 night, which I was 
going to carry into execution. This was, to lie behind the wall at 
the back of my old school, in a corner where there used to be a 
haystack. I imagined it would be a kind of company to have the 
boys, and the bedroom where I used to tell the stories, so near me: 
although the boys would know nothing of my being there, and the 
bedroom would yield me no shelter. 

I had had a hard day』s work, and was pretty well jaded when I 
came climbing out, at last, upon the level of Blackheath. It cost me 
some trouble to find out Salem House; but I found it, and I found a 
haystack in the corner, and I lay down by it; having first walked 
round the wall, and looked up at the windows, and seen that all 
was dark and silent within. Never shall I forget the lonely 
sensation of first lying down, without a roof above my head! 

Sleep came upon me as it came on many other outcasts, against 
whom house-doors were locked, and house-dogs barked, that 
night—and I dreamed of lying on my old school-bed, talking to the 
boys in my room; and found myself sitting upright, with 

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Steerforth』s name upon my lips, looking wildly at the stars that 
were glistening and glimmering above me. When I remembered 
where I was at that untimely hour, a feeling stole upon me that 
made me get up, afraid of I don』t know what, and walk about. But 
the fainter glimmering of the stars, and the pale light in the sky 
where the day was coming, reassured me: and my eyes being very 
heavy, I lay down again and slept—though with a knowledge in my 
sleep that it was cold—until the warm beams of the sun, and the 
ringing of the getting-up bell at Salem House, awoke me. If I could 
have hoped that Steerforth was there, I would have lurked about 
until he came out alone; but I knew he must have left long since. 
Traddles still remained, perhaps, but it was very doubtful; and I 
had not sufficient confidence in his discretion or good luck, 
however strong my reliance was on his good nature, to wish to 
trust him with my situation. So I crept away from the wall as Mr. 
Creakle』s boys were getting up, and struck into the long dusty 
track which I had first known to be the Dover Road when I was 
one of them, and when I little expected that any eyes would ever 
see me the wayfarer I was now, upon it. 

What a different Sunday morning from the old Sunday morning 
at Yarmouth! In due time I heard the church-bells ringing, as I 
plodded on; and I met people who were going to church; and I 
passed a church or two where the congregation were inside, and 
the sound of singing came out into the sunshine, while the beadle 
sat and cooled himself in the shade of the porch, or stood beneath 
the yew-tree, with his hand to his forehead, glowering at me going 
by. But the peace and rest of the old Sunday morning were on 
everything, except me. That was the difference. I felt quite wicked 
in my dirt and dust, with my tangled hair. But for the quiet picture 

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I had conjured up, of my mother in her youth and beauty, weeping 
by the fire, and my aunt relenting to her, I hardly think I should 
have had the courage to go on until next day. But it always went 
before me, and I followed. 

I got, that Sunday, through three-and-twenty miles on the 
straight road, though not very easily, for I was new to that kind of 
toil. I see myself, as evening closes in, coming over the bridge at 
Rochester, footsore and tired, and eating bread that I had bought 
for supper. One or two little houses, with the notice, 『Lodgings for 
Travellers』, hanging out, had tempted me; but I was afraid of 
spending the few pence I had, and was even more afraid of the 
vicious looks of the trampers I had met or overtaken. I sought no 
shelter, therefore, but the sky; and toiling into Chatham,—which, 
in that night』s aspect, is a mere dream of chalk, and drawbridges, 
and mastless ships in a muddy river, roofed like Noah』s arks,— 
crept, at last, upon a sort of grass-grown battery overhanging a 
lane, where a sentry was walking to and fro. Here I lay down, near 
a cannon; and, happy 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 wall, slept soundly 
until morning. 

Very stiff and sore of foot I was in the morning, and quite dazed 
by the beating of drums and marching of troops, which 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 day, 
if I were to reserve any strength for getting to my journey』s end, I 
resolved to make the sale of my jacket its principal business. 
Accordingly, I took the jacket off, that I might learn to do without 
it; and carrying it under my arm, began a tour of inspection of the 

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various slop-shops. 

It was a likely place to sell a jacket in; for the dealers in secondhand clothes were numerous, and were, generally speaking, on the 
look-out for customers at their shop doors. But as most of them 
had, hanging up among their stock, an officer』s coat or two, 
epaulettes and all, I was rendered timid by the costly nature of 
their dealings, and walked about for a long time without offering 
my merchandise to anyone. 

This modesty of mine directed my attention to the marine-store 
shops, and such shops as Mr. Dolloby』s, in preference to the 
regular dealers. At last I found one that I thought looked 
promising, at the corner of a dirty lane, ending in an enclosure full 
of stinging-nettles, against the palings of which some second-hand 
sailors』 clothes, that seemed to have overflowed the shop, were 
fluttering among some cots, and rusty guns, and oilskin hats, and 
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 shop, which was low and small, and which was 
darkened rather than lighted by a little window, overhung with 
clothes, and was descended into by some steps, I went with a 
palpitating heart; which was not relieved when an ugly old man, 
with the lower part of his face all covered with a stubbly grey 
beard, rushed out of a dirty den behind it, and seized me by the 
hair of my head. He was a dreadful old man to look at, in a filthy 
flannel waistcoat, and smelling terribly of rum. His bedstead, 
covered with a tumbled and ragged piece of patchwork, was in the 
den he had come from, where another little window showed a 
prospect of more stinging-nettles, and a lame donkey. 

『Oh, what do you want?』 grinned this old man, in a fierce, 

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monotonous whine. 『Oh, my eyes and limbs, what do you want? 
Oh, my lungs and liver, what do you want? Oh, goroo, goroo!』 

I was so much dismayed by these words, and particularly by the 
repetition of the last unknown one, which was a kind of rattle in 
his throat, that I could make no answer; hereupon the old man, 
still holding me by the hair, repeated: 

『Oh, what do you want? Oh, my eyes and limbs, what do you 
want? Oh, my lungs and liver, what do you want? Oh, goroo!』— 
which he screwed out of himself, with an energy that made his 
eyes start in his head. 

『I wanted to know,』 I said, trembling, 『if you would buy a jacket.』 

『Oh, let』s see the jacket!』 cried the old man. 『Oh, my heart on 
fire, show the jacket to us! Oh, my eyes and limbs, bring the jacket 
out!』 

With that he took his trembling hands, which were like the 
claws of a great bird, out of my hair; and put on a pair of 
spectacles, not at all ornamental to his inflamed eyes. 

『Oh, how much for the jacket?』 cried the old man, after 
examining it. 『Oh—goroo!—how much for the jacket?』 

『Half-a-crown,』 I answered, recovering myself. 

『Oh, my lungs and liver,』 cried the old man, 『no! Oh, my eyes, 
no! Oh, my limbs, no! Eighteenpence. Goroo!』 

Every time he uttered this ejaculation, his eyes seemed to be in 
danger of starting out; and every sentence he spoke, he delivered 
in a sort of tune, always exactly the same, and more like a gust of 
wind, which begins low, mounts up high, and falls again, than any 
other comparison I can find for it. 

『Well,』 said I, glad to have closed the bargain, 『I』ll take 
eighteenpence.』 

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『Oh, my liver!』 cried the old man, throwing the jacket on a shelf. 
『Get out of the shop! Oh, my lungs, get out of the shop! Oh, my 
eyes and limbs—goroo!—don』t ask for money; make it an 
exchange.』 I never was so frightened in my life, before or since; but 
I told him humbly that I wanted money, and that nothing else was 
of any use to me, but that I would wait for it, as he desired, 
outside, and had no wish to hurry him. So I went outside, and sat 
down in the shade in a corner. And I sat there so many hours, that 
the shade became sunlight, and the sunlight became shade again, 
and still I sat there waiting for the money. 

There never was such another drunken madman in that line of 
business, I hope. That he was well known in the neighbourhood, 
and enjoyed the reputation of having sold himself to the devil, I 
soon understood from the visits he received from the boys, who 
continually came skirmishing about the shop, shouting that 
legend, and calling to him to bring out his gold. 『You ain』t poor, 
you know, Charley, as 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 mattress, Charley. Rip it open and let』s have some!』 
This, and many offers to lend him a knife for the purpose, 
exasperated him to such a degree, that the whole day was a 
succession of rushes on his part, and flights on the part of the 
boys. Sometimes in his rage he would take me for one of them, 
and come at me, mouthing as if he were going to tear me in pieces; 
then, remembering me, just in time, would dive into the shop, and 
lie upon his bed, as I thought from the sound of his voice, yelling 
in a frantic way, to his own windy tune, the 『Death of Nelson』; with 
an Oh! before every line, and innumerable Goroos interspersed. 
As if this were not bad enough for me, the boys, connecting me 

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with the establishment, on account of the patience and 
perseverance with which I sat outside, half-dressed, pelted me, 
and 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-rod, at another 
with a fiddle, at another with a cocked hat, at another with a flute. 
But I resisted all these overtures, and sat there in desperation; 
each time asking him, with tears in my eyes, for 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. 

『Oh, my eyes and limbs!』 he then cried, peeping hideously out of 
the shop, after a long pause, 『will you go for twopence more?』 

『I can』t,』 I said; 『I shall be starved.』 

『Oh, my lungs and liver, will you go for threepence?』 

『I would go for nothing, if I could,』 I said, 『but I want the money 
badly.』 

『Oh, go-roo!』 (it is really impossible to express how he twisted 
this ejaculation out of himself, as he peeped round the door-post at 
me, showing 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 claw, not without trembling, went away more 
hungry and thirsty than I had ever been, a little before sunset. But 
at an expense of threepence I soon refreshed myself completely; 
and, being in better spirits then, limped seven miles upon my 
road. 

My bed at night was under another haystack, where I rested 
comfortably, after having washed my blistered feet in a stream, 
and dressed them as well as I was able, with some cool leaves. 

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When I took the road again next morning, I 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 beautiful, and made up my mind to sleep 
among the hops that night: imagining some cheerful 
companionship in the long perspectives of poles, with the graceful 
leaves twining round them. 

The trampers were worse than ever that day, and inspired me 
with a dread that is yet quite fresh in my mind. Some of them were 
most ferocious-looking ruffians, who stared at me as I went by; 
and stopped, perhaps, and called after me to come back and speak 
to them, and when I took to my heels, stoned me. I recollect one 
young fellow—a tinker, I suppose, from his wallet and brazier— 
who had a woman with him, and who faced about and stared at 
me thus; and then roared to me in such a tremendous voice to 
come back, that I halted and looked round. 

『Come here, when 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 them, trying to 
propitiate the tinker by my looks, I observed that the woman had a 
black eye. 

『Where are you going?』 said the tinker, gripping the bosom of 
my shirt with his blackened hand. 

『I am going to Dover,』 I said. 

『Where do you come from?』 asked the tinker, giving his hand 
another turn in my shirt, to hold me more securely. 

『I come from London,』 I said. 

『What lay are you upon?』 asked the tinker. 『Are you a prig?』 

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『N-no,』 I said. 

『Ain』t you, by 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 me, 
and 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 have, out with it, afore I take it away!』 

I should certainly have produced it, but that I met the woman』s 
look, and saw her very slightly shake her head, and form 『No!』 with 
her lips. 

『I am very poor,』 I said, attempting to smile, 『and have got no 
money.』 

『Why, what do you mean?』 said the tinker, looking 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 moment, and tossed it to the woman. 

The woman burst into a fit of laughter, as if she thought this a 
joke, and tossed it back to me, nodded once, as slightly as before, 
and made the word 『Go!』 with her lips. Before I could obey, 
however, the tinker seized the handkerchief out of my hand with a 
roughness that threw me away like a feather, and putting it loosely 
round his own neck, turned upon the woman with an oath, and 
knocked her down. I never shall forget seeing her fall backward on 
the hard road, and lie there with her bonnet tumbled off, and her 
hair all whitened in the dust; nor, when I looked back from a 
distance, seeing her sitting on the pathway, which was a bank by 
the roadside, wiping the blood from her face with a corner of her 

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shawl, while he went on ahead. 

This adventure frightened me so, that, afterwards, when I saw 
any of these people coming, I turned back until I could find a 
hiding-place, where I remained until they had gone out of sight; 
which happened so often, that I was very seriously delayed. But 
under this difficulty, as under all the other difficulties of my 
journey, I seemed to be sustained and led on by my fanciful 
picture of my mother in her youth, before I came into the world. It 
always kept me company. It was there, among the hops, when I lay 
down to sleep; it was with me on my waking in the morning; it 
went before me all day. I have associated it, ever since, with the 
sunny street of Canterbury, dozing as it were in the hot light; and 
with the sight of its old houses and gateways, and the stately, grey 
Cathedral, with the rooks sailing round the towers. When I came, 
at last, upon the bare, wide downs near Dover, it relieved the 
solitary aspect of the scene with hope; and not until I reached that 
first great aim of my journey, and actually set foot in the town 
itself, on the sixth day of my flight, did it desert me. But then, 
strange to say, when I stood with my ragged shoes, and my dusty, 
sunburnt, half-clothed figure, in the place so long desired, it 
seemed to vanish like a dream, and to leave me helpless and 
dispirited. 

I inquired about my aunt among the boatmen first, and 
received various answers. One said she lived in the South 
Foreland Light, and had singed her whiskers by doing so; another, 
that she was made fast to the great buoy outside the harbour, and 
could only be visited at half-tide; a third, that she was locked up in 
Maidstone jail for child-stealing; a fourth, that she was seen to 
mount a broom in the last high wind, and make direct for Calais. 

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The fly-drivers, among whom I inquired next, were equally jocose 
and equally disrespectful; and the shopkeepers, not liking my 
appearance, generally replied, without 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 gone, I had nothing left to dispose of; I was hungry, 
thirsty, and worn out; and seemed as distant from my end as if I 
had remained in London. 

The morning had worn away in these inquiries, and I was 
sitting on the step of an empty shop at a street corner, near the 
market-place, deliberating upon wandering towards those other 
places which had been mentioned, when a fly-driver, coming by 
with his carriage, dropped a horsecloth. Something good-natured 
in the man』s face, as I handed it up, encouraged me to ask him if 
he could tell me where Miss Trotwood lived; though I had asked 
the question so often, that it almost died upon my lips. 

『Trotwood,』 said he. 『Let me see. I know the name, too. Old 
lady?』 

『Yes,』 I said, 『rather.』 

『Pretty stiff in the back?』 said he, making 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 
gruffish, and comes down upon you, sharp?』 

My heart sank within me as I acknowledged the undoubted 
accuracy of this description. 

『Why then, I 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 sea, I think you』ll hear of her. My 
opinion is she won』t stand anything, so here』s a penny for you.』 

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I accepted the gift thankfully, and bought a loaf with it. 
Dispatching this refreshment by the way, I went in the direction 
my friend had indicated, and walked on a good distance without 
coming to the houses he had mentioned. At length I saw some 
before me; and approaching them, went into a little shop (it was 
what we used to call a general shop, at home), and inquired if they 
could have the goodness to tell me where Miss Trotwood lived. I 
addressed myself to a man behind the counter, who was weighing 
some rice for a young woman; but the latter, taking the inquiry to 
herself, turned round quickly. 

『My mistress?』 she said. 『What do you want with her, boy?』 

『I want,』 I replied, 『to speak to her, if you please.』 

『To beg of her, you mean,』 retorted the damsel. 

『No,』 I said, 『indeed.』 But suddenly remembering that in truth I 
came for no other purpose, I held my peace in confusion, and felt 
my face burn. 

My aunt』s handmaid, as 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 her, if 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 agitation, that my 
legs shook under me. I followed the young woman, and we soon 
came to a very neat little cottage with cheerful bow-windows: in 
front of it, a small square gravelled court or garden full of flowers, 
carefully tended, and 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 house, as if to shake off the responsibility of my 
appearance; and left me standing at the garden-gate, looking 

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disconsolately over the top of it towards the parlour window, 
where a muslin curtain partly undrawn in the middle, a large 
round green screen or fan fastened on to the windowsill, a small 
table, and a great chair, suggested 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 bit, and 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-cap, too) was so 
crushed and bent, that no old battered handleless saucepan on a 
dunghill need have been ashamed to vie with it. My shirt and 
trousers, stained with heat, dew, grass, and the Kentish soil on 
which I had slept—and torn besides—might have frightened the 
birds from my aunt』s garden, as I stood at the gate. My hair had 
known no comb or brush since I left London. My face, neck, and 
hands, from unaccustomed exposure to the air and sun, were 
burnt to a berry-brown. From head to foot I was powdered almost 
as white with chalk and dust, as if I had come out of a lime-kiln. In 
this plight, and with a strong consciousness of it, I waited to 
introduce myself to, and make my first impression on, my 
formidable aunt. 

The unbroken stillness of the parlour window leading me to 
infer, after a while, that she was not there, I lifted up my eyes to 
the window above it, where I saw a florid, pleasant-looking 
gentleman, with a grey head, who shut up one eye in a grotesque 
manner, nodded his head at me several times, shook it at me as 
often, laughed, and went away. 

I had been discomposed enough before; but I was so much the 
more discomposed by this unexpected behaviour, that I was on the 

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point of slinking off, to think how I had best proceed, when there 
came out of the house a lady with her handkerchief tied over her 
cap, and a pair of gardening gloves on her hands, wearing a 
gardening pocket like a toll-man』s apron, and carrying a great 
knife. I knew her immediately to be Miss Betsey, for 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 Betsey, shaking her head, and making a 
distant chop in the air with her knife. 『Go along! No boys here!』 

I watched her, with my heart at my lips, as she marched to a 
corner of her garden, and stooped to dig up some little root there. 
Then, without a scrap of courage, but with a great deal of 
desperation, I went softly in and stood beside her, touching her 
with my finger. 

『If you please, ma』am,』 I began. 

She started and looked up. 

『If you please, aunt.』 

『Eh?』 exclaimed Miss Betsey, in a tone of amazement I have 
never heard approached. 

『If you please, aunt, I am your nephew.』 

『Oh, Lord!』 said my aunt. And sat flat down in the garden-path. 

『I am David Copperfield, of Blunderstone, in Suffolk—where 
you came, on the night when I was born, and saw my dear mama. I 
have been very unhappy since she died. I have been slighted, and 
taught nothing, and thrown upon myself, and put to work not fit 
for me. It made me run away to you. I was robbed at first setting 
out, and have walked all the way, and 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 hands, intended to show her my 

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ragged state, and call it to witness that I had suffered something, I 
broke into a passion of crying, which I suppose had been pent up 
within me all the week. 

My aunt, with every sort of expression but wonder discharged 
from her countenance, sat on the gravel, staring at me, until I 
began to cry; when she got up in a great hurry, collared me, and 
took me into the parlour. Her first proceeding there was to unlock 
a tall press, bring out several bottles, and pour some of the 
contents of each into my mouth. I think they must have been taken 
out at random, for I am sure I tasted aniseed water, anchovy 
sauce, and salad dressing. When she had administered these 
restoratives, as I was still quite hysterical, and unable to control 
my sobs, she put me on the sofa, with a shawl under my head, and 
the handkerchief from her own head under my feet, lest I should 
sully the cover; and then, sitting herself down behind the green 
fan or screen I have already mentioned, so 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 aunt, when her 
servant came in. 『Go upstairs, give 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 aunt, with her hands behind her, walked 
up and down the room, until the gentleman who had squinted at 
me from the upper window came in laughing. 

『Mr. Dick,』 said my aunt, 『don』t be a fool, because nobody can be 
more discreet than you can, when you choose. We all know that. 
So don』t be a fool, whatever you are.』 

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The gentleman was serious immediately, and looked at me, I 
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 memory, because 
you and I know better.』 

『David Copperfield?』 said Mr. Dick, who did not appear to me to 
remember much about it. 『David Copperfield? Oh yes, to be sure. 
David, certainly.』 

『Well,』 said my aunt, 『this is his boy—his son. He would be as 
like his father as it』s possible to be, if he was not so like his mother, 
too.』 

『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 sister, Betsey 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 aunt, sharply, 『how he 
talks! Don』t I know she wouldn』t? She would have lived with her 
god-mother, and we should have been devoted to one another. 
Where, in the name of wonder, should his sister, Betsey Trotwood, 
have run from, or to?』 

『Nowhere,』 said Mr. Dick. 

『Well then,』 returned my aunt, softened by the reply, 『how can 
you pretend to be wool-gathering, Dick, when you are as sharp as 
a surgeon』s lancet? Now, here you see young David Copperfield, 
and the question I put to you is, what shall I do with him?』 

『What shall you do with him?』 said Mr. Dick, feebly, scratching 

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his head. 『Oh! do with him?』 

『Yes,』 said my aunt, with a grave look, and her forefinger held 
up. 『Come! I want some very sound advice.』 

『Why, if I was you,』 said Mr. Dick, considering, and looking 
vacantly at me, 『I should—』 The contemplation of me seemed to 
inspire him with a sudden idea, and he added, briskly, 『I should 
wash him!』 

『Janet,』 said my aunt, turning round with a quiet triumph, 
which I did not then understand, 『Mr. Dick sets us all right. Heat 
the bath!』 

Although I was deeply interested in this dialogue, I could not 
help observing my aunt, Mr. Dick, and Janet, while it was in 
progress, and completing a survey I had already been engaged in 
making of the room. 

My aunt was a tall, hard-featured lady, but by no means ill-
looking. There was an inflexibility in her face, in her voice, in her 
gait and carriage, amply sufficient to account for the effect she had 
made upon a gentle creature like my mother; but her features 
were rather handsome than otherwise, though unbending and 
austere. I particularly noticed that she had a very quick, bright 
eye. Her hair, which was grey, was arranged in two plain divisions, 
under what I believe would be called a mob-cap; I mean a cap, 
much more common then than now, with side-pieces fastening 
under the chin. Her dress was of a lavender colour, and perfectly 
neat; but scantily made, as if she desired to be as little 
encumbered as possible. I remember that I thought it, in form, 
more like a riding-habit with the superfluous skirt cut off, than 
anything else. She wore at her side a gentleman』s gold watch, if I 
might judge from its size and make, with an appropriate chain and 

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seals; she had some linen at her throat not unlike a shirt-collar, 
and things at her wrists like little shirt-wristbands. 

Mr. Dick, as I have already said, was grey-headed, and florid: I 
should have said all about him, in saying so, had 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 large, with a strange kind of watery brightness in 
them that made me, in combination with his vacant manner, his 
submission to my aunt, and his childish delight when she praised 
him, suspect him of being a little mad; though, if he were mad, 
how he came to be there puzzled me extremely. He was dressed 
like any other ordinary gentleman, in a loose grey morning coat 
and waistcoat, and white trousers; and had his watch in his fob, 
and his money in his pockets: which he rattled as if he were very 
proud of it. 

Janet was a pretty blooming girl, of about nineteen or twenty, 
and a perfect picture of neatness. Though I made no further 
observation of her at the moment, I may mention here what I did 
not discover until afterwards, namely, that she was one of a series 
of protegees whom my aunt had taken into her service expressly to 
educate in a renouncement of mankind, and 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 since, to think of it, the air from the sea came 
blowing in again, mixed with the perfume of the flowers; and I saw 
the old-fashioned furniture brightly rubbed and polished, my 
aunt』s inviolable chair and table by the round green fan in the 
bow-window, the drugget-covered carpet, the cat, the kettle-
holder, the two canaries, the old china, the punchbowl full of dried 

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rose-leaves, the tall press guarding all sorts of bottles and pots, 
and, wonderfully out of keeping with the rest, my dusty self upon 
the sofa, taking note of everything. 

Janet had gone away to get the bath ready, when my aunt, to 
my great alarm, became in one moment rigid with indignation, 
and had hardly voice to cry out, 『Janet! Donkeys!』 

Upon which, Janet came running up the stairs as if the house 
were in flames, darted out on a little piece of green in front, and 
warned off two saddle-donkeys, lady-ridden, that had presumed to 
set hoof upon it; while my aunt, rushing out of the house, seized 
the bridle of a third animal laden with a bestriding child, turned 
him, led him forth from those sacred precincts, and 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 had, and it was all the same to her. The one great 
outrage of her life, demanding to be constantly avenged, was the 
passage of a donkey over that immaculate spot. In whatever 
occupation she was engaged, however interesting to her the 
conversation in which she was taking part, a donkey turned the 
current of her ideas in a moment, and she was upon him straight. 
Jugs of water, and watering-pots, were 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 stood, delighted with constitutional 
obstinacy in coming that way. I only know that there were three 

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alarms before the bath was ready; and that on the occasion of the 
last and most desperate of all, I saw my aunt engage, single-
handed, with a sandy-headed lad of fifteen, and bump his sandy 
head against her own gate, before he seemed to comprehend what 
was the matter. These interruptions were of the more ridiculous to 
me, because she was giving me broth out of a table-spoon at the 
time (having firmly persuaded herself that I was actually starving, 
and must receive nourishment at first in very small quantities), 
and, while my mouth was yet open to receive the spoon, she would 
put it back into the basin, cry 『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 fields, and was now 
so tired and low that I could hardly keep myself awake for five 
minutes together. When I had bathed, they (I mean my aunt and 
Janet) enrobed me in a shirt and a pair of trousers belonging to 
Mr. Dick, and tied me up in two or three great shawls. What sort of 
bundle I looked like, I don』t know, but I felt a very hot one. Feeling 
also very faint and drowsy, I soon lay down on the sofa again and 
fell asleep. 

It might have been a dream, originating in the fancy which had 
occupied my mind so long, but I awoke with the impression that 
my aunt had come and bent over me, and had put my hair away 
from my face, and laid my head more comfortably, and had then 
stood looking at me. The words, 『Pretty fellow,』 or 『Poor fellow,』 
seemed to be in my ears, too; but certainly there was nothing else, 
when I awoke, to 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 fan, which was mounted on a kind of swivel, and 

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turned any way. 

We dined soon after I awoke, off a roast fowl and a pudding; I 
sitting at table, not unlike a trussed bird myself, and moving my 
arms with considerable difficulty. But as my aunt had swathed me 
up, I 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 silence, except when she 
occasionally fixed her eyes on me sitting opposite, and said, 『Mercy 
upon us!』 which did not by any means relieve my anxiety. 

The cloth being drawn, and some sherry put upon the table (of 
which I had a glass), my aunt sent up for Mr. Dick again, who 
joined us, and looked as wise as he could when she requested him 
to attend to my story, which she elicited from me, gradually, by a 
course of questions. During my recital, she kept her eyes on Mr. 
Dick, who I thought would have gone to sleep but for that, and 
who, whensoever he lapsed into a smile, was checked by a frown 
from my aunt. 

『Whatever possessed that poor unfortunate Baby, that she must 
go and be married again,』 said my aunt, when 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 simpered, after thinking a little, 『she did it 
for pleasure.』 

『Pleasure, indeed!』 replied my aunt. 『A mighty pleasure for the 
poor Baby to fix her simple faith upon any dog of a fellow, certain 
to ill-use her in some way or other. What did she propose to 

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herself, I should like to know! She had had one husband. She had 
seen David Copperfield out of the world, who was always running 
after wax dolls from his cradle. She had got a baby—oh, there 
were a pair of babies when she gave birth to this child sitting here, 
that Friday night!—and what more did she want?』 

Mr. Dick secretly shook his head at me, as 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 sister, Betsey Trotwood? Not forthcoming. 
Don』t tell me!』 

Mr. Dick seemed quite frightened. 

『That little man of a doctor, with his head on one side,』 said my 
aunt, 『Jellips, or whatever his name was, what was he about? All 
he could do, was to say to me, like a robin redbreast—as he is— 
「It』s a boy.」 A boy! Yah, the imbecility of the whole set of 』em!』 

The heartiness of the ejaculation startled Mr. Dick exceedingly; 
and me, too, if I am to tell the truth. 

『And then, as if this was not enough, and she had not stood 
sufficiently in the light of this child』s sister, Betsey 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 is, as anybody but a baby 
might have foreseen, that he prowls and wanders. He』s as like 
Cain before he was grown up, as he can be.』 

Mr. Dick looked hard at me, as if to identify me in this 
character. 

『And then there』s that woman with the Pagan name,』 said my 
aunt, 『that Peggotty, she goes and gets married next. Because she 
has not seen enough of the evil attending such things, she goes and 

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gets married next, as the child relates. I only hope,』 said my aunt, 
shaking her head, 『that her husband is one of those Poker 
husbands who abound in the newspapers, and will beat her well 
with one.』 

I could not bear to hear my old nurse so decried, and made the 
subject of such a wish. I told my aunt that indeed she was 
mistaken. That Peggotty was the best, the truest, the most faithful, 
most devoted, and most self-denying friend and servant in the 
world; who had ever loved me dearly, who had ever loved my 
mother dearly; who had held my mother』s dying head upon her 
arm, on whose face my mother had imprinted her last grateful 
kiss. And my remembrance of them both, choking me, I broke 
down as I was trying to say that her home was my home, and that 
all she had was mine, and that I would have gone to her for 
shelter, but for her humble station, which made me fear that I 
might bring some trouble on her—I broke down, I say, as I was 
trying to say so, and laid my face in my hands upon the table. 

『Well, well!』 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 donkeys, we 
should have come to a good understanding; for my aunt had laid 
her hand on my shoulder, and the impulse was upon me, thus 
emboldened, to embrace her and beseech her protection. But the 
interruption, and the disorder she was thrown into by the struggle 
outside, put an end to all softer ideas for the present, and kept my 
aunt indignantly declaiming to Mr. Dick about her determination 
to appeal for redress to the laws of her country, and to bring 
actions for trespass against the whole donkey proprietorship of 
Dover, until tea-time. 

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After tea, we sat at the window—on the look-out, as I imagined, 
from my aunt』s sharp expression of face, for more invaders—until 
dusk, when Janet set candles, and a backgammon-board, on the 
table, and pulled down the blinds. 

『Now, Mr. Dick,』 said my aunt, with her grave look, and her 
forefinger up as before, 『I am going to ask you another question. 
Look at this child.』 

『David』s son?』 said Mr. Dick, with an attentive, puzzled face. 

『Exactly so,』 returned my aunt. 『What would you do with him, 
now?』 

『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 aunt, with the same complacent triumph that I 
had remarked before. 『Mr. Dick sets us all right. If the bed is 
ready, we』ll take him up to it.』 

Janet reporting it to be quite ready, I 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 hope, was 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 kitchen, of 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 there, with a little taper which 
my aunt forewarned me would burn exactly five minutes, I heard 
them lock my door on the outside. Turning these things over in my 
mind I deemed it possible that my aunt, who could know nothing 
of me, might suspect I had a habit of running away, and took 
precautions, on that account, to have me in safe keeping. 

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The room was a pleasant one, at the top of the house, 
overlooking the sea, on which the moon was shining brilliantly. 
After I had said my prayers, and the candle had burnt out, I 
remember how I still sat looking at the moonlight on the water, as 
if I could hope to read my fortune in it, as in a bright book; or to 
see my mother with her child, coming from Heaven, along that 
shining path, to 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 away, yielded to the sensation of gratitude 
and rest which the sight of the white-curtained bed—and how 
much more the lying softly down upon it, nestling in the snow-
white sheets!—inspired. I remember how I thought of all the 
solitary places under the night sky where I had slept, and how I 
prayed that I never might be houseless any more, and never might 
forget the houseless. I remember how I seemed to float, then, 
down the melancholy glory of that track upon the sea, away into 
the world of dreams. 

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Chapter 14 

MY AUNT MAKES UP HER MIND ABOUT ME 

On going down in the morning, I found my aunt musing so 
profoundly over the breakfast table, with her elbow on 
the tray, that the contents of the urn had overflowed the 
teapot and were laying the whole table-cloth under water, when 
my entrance put her meditations to flight. I felt sure that I had 
been the subject of her reflections, and was more than ever 
anxious to know her intentions towards me. Yet I dared not 
express my anxiety, lest it should give her offence. 

My eyes, however, not 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 manner, as if 
I were an immense way off, instead of being on the other side of 
the small round table. When she had finished her breakfast, my 
aunt very deliberately leaned back in her chair, knitted her brows, 
folded her arms, and contemplated me at her leisure, with such a 
fixedness of attention that I was quite overpowered by 
embarrassment. Not having as yet finished my own breakfast, I 
attempted to hide my confusion by proceeding with it; but my 
knife tumbled over my fork, my fork tripped up my knife, I 
chipped bits of bacon a surprising height into the air instead of 
cutting them for my own eating, and choked myself with my tea, 
which persisted in going the wrong way instead of the right one, 
until I gave in altogether, and sat blushing under my aunt』s close 

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scrutiny. 

『Hallo!』 said my aunt, after a long time. 

I looked up, and 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 to, or he and I will fall out, I can tell 
him!』 

『Does he know where I am, aunt?』 I inquired, alarmed. 

『I have told him,』 said my aunt, with 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 aunt, shaking her 
head. 『I can』t say, I am sure. We shall see.』 

My spirits sank under these words, and I became very downcast 
and heavy of heart. My aunt, without appearing to take much heed 
of me, put on a coarse apron with a bib, which she took out of the 
press; washed up the teacups with her own hands; and, when 
everything was washed and set in the tray again, and the cloth 
folded and put on the top of the whole, rang 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 
room, which was dusted and arranged to a hair』s breadth already. 
When all these tasks were performed to her satisfaction, she took 
off the gloves and apron, folded them up, put them in the 
particular corner of the press from which they had been taken, 

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brought out her work-box to her own table in the open window, 
and sat down, with the green fan between her and the light, to 
work. 

『I wish you』d go upstairs,』 said my aunt, as she threaded her 
needle, 『and give my compliments to Mr. Dick, and I』ll be glad to 
know how he gets on with his Memorial.』 

I rose with all alacrity, to acquit myself of this commission. 

『I suppose,』 said my aunt, eyeing me as narrowly as she had 
eyed the needle in threading it, 『you think Mr. Dick a short name, 
eh?』 

『I thought it was rather a short name, yesterday,』 I confessed. 

『You are not to suppose that he hasn』t got a longer name, if he 
chose to use it,』 said my aunt, with a loftier air. 『Babley—Mr. 
Richard Babley—that』s the gentleman』s true name.』 

I was going to suggest, with a modest sense of my youth and the 
familiarity I had been already guilty of, that I had better give him 
the full benefit of that name, when my aunt went on to say: 

『But don』t you call him by it, whatever 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 peculiarity, either; for he has been ill-used enough, by 
some that bear it, to have a mortal antipathy for it, Heaven knows. 
Mr. Dick is his name here, and everywhere else, now—if he ever 
went anywhere else, which he don』t. So take care, child, you don』t 
call him anything but Mr. Dick.』 

I promised to obey, and went upstairs with my message; 
thinking, as I went, that if Mr. Dick had been working at his 
Memorial long, at the same rate as I had seen him working at it, 
through the open door, when I came down, he was probably 
getting on very well indeed. I found him still driving at it with a 

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long pen, and his head almost laid upon the paper. He was so 
intent upon it, that I had ample leisure to observe the large paper 
kite in a corner, the confusion of bundles of manuscript, the 
number of pens, and, above all, the quantity of ink (which he 
seemed to have in, in half-gallon jars by the dozen), before he 
observed my being present. 

『Ha! Phoebus!』 said Mr. Dick, laying down his pen. 『How does 
the world go? I』ll tell you what,』 he added, in a lower tone, 『I 
shouldn』t wish it to be mentioned, but it』s a—』 here he beckoned to 
me, and put his lips close to my ear—『it』s a mad world. Mad as 
Bedlam, boy!』 said Mr. Dick, taking snuff from a round box on the 
table, and laughing heartily. 

Without presuming to give my opinion on this question, I 
delivered my message. 

『Well,』 said Mr. Dick, in answer, 『my compliments to her, and 
I—I believe I have made a start. I think I have made a start,』 said 
Mr. Dick, passing his hand among his grey hair, and casting 
anything but a confident look at his manuscript. 『You have been to 
school?』 

『Yes, sir,』 I answered; 『for a short time.』 

『Do you recollect the date,』 said Mr. Dick, looking earnestly at 
me, and 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. Dick, scratching his ear with his pen, and 
looking dubiously at me. 『So the books say; but I don』t see how 
that can be. Because, if it was so long ago, how could the people 
about him have made that mistake of putting some of the trouble 
out of his head, after it was taken off, into mine?』 

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I was very much surprised by the inquiry; but could give no 
information on this point. 

『It』s very strange,』 said Mr. Dick, with a despondent look upon 
his papers, and with his hand among his hair again, 『that I never 
can get that quite right. I never can make that perfectly clear. But 
no matter, no matter!』 he said cheerfully, and rousing himself, 
『there』s time enough! My compliments to Miss Trotwood, I am 
getting on very well indeed.』 

I was going away, when 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 it, you and I,』 said Mr. Dick. 『Do you 
see this?』 

He showed me that it was covered with manuscript, very closely 
and laboriously written; but so plainly, that as I looked along the 
lines, I thought I saw some allusion to King Charles the First』s 
head again, in 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 
circumstances, and the wind, and so forth; but I take my chance of 
that.』 

His face was so very mild and pleasant, and had something so 
reverend in it, though it was hale and hearty, that I was not sure 
but that he was having a good-humoured jest with me. So I 
laughed, and he laughed, and we parted the best friends possible. 

『Well, child,』 said my aunt, when I went downstairs. 『And what 
of Mr. Dick, this morning?』 

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I informed her that he sent his compliments, and 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 
question, by replying that I thought him a very nice gentleman; 
but my aunt was not to be so put off, for she laid her work down in 
her lap, and said, folding her hands upon it: 

『Come! Your sister Betsey Trotwood would have told me what 
she thought of anyone, directly. Be as like your sister as you can, 
and speak out!』 

『Is he—is Mr. Dick—I ask because I don』t know, aunt—is he at 
all out of his mind, then?』 I stammered; for I felt I was on 
dangerous ground. 

『Not a morsel,』 said my aunt. 

『Oh, indeed!』 I observed faintly. 

『If there is anything in the world,』 said my aunt, with great 
decision and force of manner, 『that Mr. Dick is not, it』s that.』 

I had nothing better to offer, than another timid, 『Oh, indeed!』 

『He has been called mad,』 said my aunt. 『I have a selfish 
pleasure in saying he has been called mad, or I should not have 
had the benefit of his society and advice for these last ten years 
and upwards—in fact, ever since your sister, Betsey Trotwood, 
disappointed me.』 

『So long as that?』 I said. 

『And nice people they were, who 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 me, his own brother would have shut him up for life. 
That』s all.』 

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I am afraid it was hypocritical in me, but seeing that my aunt 
felt strongly on the subject, I 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 house, and 
sent him away to some private asylum-place: though he had been 
left to his particular care by their deceased father, who thought 
him almost a natural. And a wise man he must have been to think 
so! Mad himself, no doubt.』 

Again, as my aunt looked quite convinced, I 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 head, as if she 
smoothed defiance of the whole world out of the one, and shook it 
out of the other. 

『He had a favourite sister,』 said my aunt, 『a good creature, and 
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 madness, I hope!) that, 
combined with his fear of his brother, and his sense of his 

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unkindness, it threw him into a fever. That was before he came to 
me, but the recollection of it is oppressive to him even now. Did he 
say anything to you about King Charles the First, child?』 

『Yes, aunt.』 

『Ah!』 said my aunt, rubbing 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 agitation, naturally, and that』s 
the figure, or the simile, or whatever it』s called, which he chooses 
to use. And why shouldn』t he, if he thinks proper!』 

I said: 『Certainly, aunt.』 

『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 it, that there shan』t be a word about it in his Memorial.』 

『Is it a Memorial about his own history that he is writing, aunt?』 

『Yes, child,』 said my aunt, rubbing her nose again. 『He is 
memorializing the Lord Chancellor, or the Lord Somebody or 
other—one of those people, at all events, who are paid to be 
memorialized—about his affairs. I suppose it will go in, one of 
these days. He hasn』t been able to draw it up yet, without 
introducing that mode of expressing himself; but it don』t signify; it 
keeps him employed.』 

In fact, I 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 it, 
and 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 sometimes, what of 
that! Franklin used to fly a kite. He was a Quaker, or something of 

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that sort, if 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 behoof, and as a piece of confidence in 
me, I should have felt very much distinguished, and 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 mind, and with 
very little reference to me, though she had addressed herself to me 
in the absence of anybody else. 

At the same time, I must say that the generosity of her 
championship of poor harmless Mr. Dick, not only inspired my 
young breast with some selfish hope for myself, but warmed it 
unselfishly towards her. I believe that I began to know that there 
was something about my aunt, notwithstanding her many 
eccentricities and odd humours, to be honoured and trusted in. 
Though she was just as sharp that day as on the day before, and 
was in and out about the donkeys just as often, and was thrown 
into a tremendous state of indignation, when a young man, going 
by, ogled 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 respect, if not 
less of my fear. 

The anxiety I underwent, in 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 it, 
and to be as agreeable as I could in a quiet way, both 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 

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ornamental garments with which I had been decorated on the first 
day, and which confined me to the house, except for an hour after 
dark, when my aunt, for my health』s sake, paraded me up and 
down on the cliff outside, before going to bed. At length the reply 
from Mr. Murdstone came, and my aunt informed me, to my 
infinite terror, that he was coming to speak to her herself on the 
next day. On the next day, still bundled up in my curious 
habiliments, I sat counting the time, flushed and heated by the 
conflict of sinking hopes and rising fears within me; and waiting to 
be startled by the sight of the gloomy face, whose non-arrival 
startled me every minute. 

My aunt was a little more imperious and stern than usual, but I 
observed no other token of her preparing herself to receive the 
visitor so much dreaded by me. She sat at work in the window, 
and I sat by, with my thoughts running astray on all possible and 
impossible results of Mr. Murdstone』s visit, until pretty late in the 
afternoon. Our dinner had been indefinitely postponed; but it was 
growing so late, that my aunt had ordered it to be got ready, when 
she gave a sudden alarm of donkeys, and to my consternation and 
amazement, I beheld Miss Murdstone, on a side-saddle, ride 
deliberately over the sacred piece of green, and stop in front of the 
house, looking about her. 

『Go along with you!』 cried my aunt, shaking 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 her, that I really believe she was 
motionless, and unable for the moment to dart out according to 
custom. I seized the opportunity to inform her who it was; and that 

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the gentleman now coming near the offender (for the way up was 
very steep, and he had dropped behind), was Mr. Murdstone 
himself. 

『I don』t care who it is!』 cried my aunt, still 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! Janet, turn him 
round. Lead him off!』 and I saw, from behind my aunt, a sort of 
hurried battle-piece, in which the donkey stood resisting 
everybody, with all his four legs planted different ways, while 
Janet tried to pull him round by the bridle, Mr. Murdstone tried to 
lead him on, Miss Murdstone struck at Janet with a parasol, and 
several boys, who had come to see the engagement, shouted 
vigorously. But my aunt, suddenly descrying among them the 
young malefactor who was the donkey』s guardian, and who was 
one of the most inveterate offenders against her, though hardly in 
his teens, rushed out to the scene of action, pounced upon him, 
captured him, dragged him, with his jacket over his head, and his 
heels grinding the ground, into the garden, and, calling upon 
Janet to fetch the constables and justices, that he might be taken, 
tried, and executed on the spot, held him at bay there. This part of 
the business, however, did not last long; for the young rascal, 
being expert at a variety of feints and dodges, of which my aunt 
had no conception, soon went whooping away, leaving some deep 
impressions of his nailed boots in the flower-beds, and taking his 
donkey in triumph with him. 

Miss Murdstone, during the latter portion of the contest, had 
dismounted, and was now waiting with her brother at the bottom 
of the steps, until my aunt should be at leisure to receive them. My 
aunt, a little ruffled by the combat, marched past them into the 

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house, with great dignity, and took no notice of their presence, 

until they were announced by Janet. 

『Shall I go away, aunt?』 I asked, trembling. 

『No, sir,』 said my aunt. 『Certainly not!』 With which she pushed 
me into a corner near her, and fenced Me in with a chair, as if it 
were a prison or a bar of justice. This position I continued to 
occupy during the whole interview, and 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 hostilities, and 
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 nephew, 
David Copperfield, of Blunderstone Rookery!—Though why 
Rookery, I don』t know!』 

『I am,』 said Mr. Murdstone. 

『You』ll excuse my saying, sir,』 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 Murdstone, bridling, 『that I consider our lamented 
Clara to have been, in all essential respects, a mere child.』 

『It is a comfort to you and me, ma』am,』 said my aunt, 『who are 

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getting on in life, and are not likely to be made unhappy by our 
personal attractions, that nobody can say the same of us.』 

『No doubt!』 returned Miss Murdstone, though, I thought, not 
with a very ready or gracious assent. 『And it certainly might have 
been, as you say, a 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. Dick, and beg him to come down.』 

Until he came, my aunt sat perfectly upright and stiff, frowning 
at the wall. When he came, my aunt performed the ceremony of 
introduction. 

『Mr. Dick. An old and intimate friend. On whose judgement,』 
said my aunt, with emphasis, as an admonition to Mr. Dick, who 
was biting his forefinger and looking rather foolish, 『I rely.』 

Mr. Dick took his finger out of his mouth, on this hint, and 
stood among the group, with a grave and attentive expression of 
face. 

My aunt inclined her head to Mr. Murdstone, who went on: 

『Miss Trotwood: on the receipt of your letter, I considered it an 
act of greater justice to myself, and perhaps of more respect to 
you—』 

『Thank you,』 said my aunt, still eyeing him keenly. 『You needn』t 
mind me.』 

『To answer it in person, however 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 sister, directing general 
attention to me in my indefinable costume, 『is perfectly scandalous 

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and disgraceful.』 

『Jane Murdstone,』 said her brother, 『have the goodness not to 
interrupt me. This unhappy boy, Miss Trotwood, has been the 
occasion of much domestic trouble and uneasiness; both during 
the lifetime of my late dear wife, and since. He has a sullen, 
rebellious spirit; a violent temper; and an untoward, intractable 
disposition. Both my sister and myself have endeavoured to 
correct his vices, but 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 observe, that, of all 
the boys in the world, I believe this is the worst boy.』 

『Strong!』 said my aunt, shortly. 

『But not at all too strong for the facts,』 returned Miss 
Murdstone. 

『Ha!』 said my aunt. 『Well, sir?』 

『I have my own opinions,』 resumed Mr. Murdstone, whose face 
darkened more and more, the more he and my aunt observed each 
other, which they did very narrowly, 『as to the best mode of 
bringing him up; they are founded, in part, on my knowledge of 
him, and in part on my knowledge of my own means and 
resources. I am responsible for them to myself, I act upon them, 
and I say no more about them. It is enough that I place this boy 
under the eye of a friend of my own, in 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 here, in rags, to 
appeal to you, Miss Trotwood. I wish to set before you, 

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honourably, the 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 boy, you would have put him to it, just the 
same, I suppose?』 

『If he had been my brother』s own boy,』 returned Miss 
Murdstone, striking in, 『his character, I trust, would have been 
altogether different.』 

『Or if the poor child, his mother, had been alive, he would still 
have gone into the respectable business, would he?』 said my aunt. 

『I believe,』 said Mr. Murdstone, with 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. Dick, who had been rattling his money all this time, was 
rattling it so loudly now, that my aunt felt it necessary to check 
him with a look, before 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 her, unconditionally, by her first husband,』 
Mr. Murdstone began, when my aunt caught him up with the 
greatest irascibility and impatience. 

『Good Lord, man, there』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 kind, though it stared him point-blank 

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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 you, in 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 husband, ma』am,』 said Mr. 
Murdstone, 『and trusted implicitly in him.』 

『Your late wife, sir, was a most unworldly, most unhappy, most 
unfortunate baby,』 returned my aunt, shaking her head at him. 
『That』s what she was. And now, what have you got to say next?』 

『Merely this, Miss Trotwood,』 he returned. 『I am here to take 
David back—to take him back unconditionally, to dispose of him 
as I think proper, and to deal with him as I think right. I am not 
here to make any promise, or give any pledge to anybody. You 
may possibly have some idea, Miss Trotwood, of abetting him in 
his running away, and in his complaints to you. Your manner, 
which I must say does not seem intended to propitiate, induces me 
to think it possible. Now I must caution you that if you abet him 
once, you abet him for good and all; if you step in between him 
and me, now, you must step in, Miss Trotwood, for ever. I cannot 
trifle, or be trifled with. I am here, for the first and last time, to 
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 henceforth, and yours, I take it for granted, are 
open to him.』 

To this address, my aunt had listened with the closest attention, 
sitting perfectly upright, with her hands folded on one knee, and 
looking grimly on the speaker. When he had finished, she turned 
her eyes so as to command Miss Murdstone, without otherwise 
disturbing her attitude, and said: 

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『Well, ma』am, have you got anything to remark?』 

『Indeed, Miss Trotwood,』 said Miss Murdstone, 『all that I could 
say has been so well said by my brother, and all that I know to be 
the fact has been so plainly stated by him, that I have nothing to 
add except my thanks for your politeness. For your very great 
politeness, I am sure,』 said Miss Murdstone; with an irony which 
no more affected my aunt, than 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 no, and entreated her not to let me go. I said that 
neither Mr. nor Miss Murdstone had ever liked me, or had ever 
been kind to me. That they had made my mama, who always loved 
me dearly, unhappy about me, and that I knew it well, and that 
Peggotty knew it. I said that I had been more miserable than I 
thought anybody could believe, who only knew how young I was. 
And I begged and prayed my aunt—I forget in what terms now, 
but I remember that they affected me very much then—to 
befriend and protect me, for my father』s sake. 

『Mr. Dick,』 said my aunt, 『what shall I do with this child?』 

Mr. Dick considered, hesitated, brightened, and rejoined, 『Have 
him measured for a suit of clothes directly.』 

『Mr. Dick,』 said my aunt triumphantly, 『give me your hand, for 
your common sense is invaluable.』 Having shaken it with great 
cordiality, she 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 is, at least I can do as much for him then, as you 
have done. But I don』t believe a word of it.』 

『Miss Trotwood,』 rejoined Mr. Murdstone, shrugging his 

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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 Murdstone, rising. 
『Overpowering, really!』 

『Do you think I don』t know,』 said my aunt, turning a deaf ear to 
the sister, and continuing to address the brother, and to shake her 
head at him with infinite expression, 『what kind of life you must 
have led that poor, unhappy, misdirected 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 her, I』ll be bound, as 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—which, I 
tell you candidly, is anything but a pleasure to me? Oh yes, bless 
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 him, and they were 
all to live together in a garden of roses, weren』t they? Ugh! Get 
along with you, do!』 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 so, and she gone 
where you won』t go in a hurry—because you had not done wrong 
enough to her and hers, you must begin to train her, must you? 
begin to break her, like a poor caged bird, and wear her deluded 
life away, in teaching her to sing your notes?』 

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『This is either insanity or intoxication,』 said Miss Murdstone, in 
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 Betsey, without 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 said, shaking her finger at him, 『you were 
a tyrant to the simple baby, and you broke her heart. She was a 
loving baby—I know that; I knew it years 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 comfort, however 
you like it. And you and your instruments may make the most of 
it.』 

『Allow me to inquire, Miss Trotwood,』 interposed Miss 
Murdstone, 『whom you are pleased to call, in a choice of words in 
which I am not experienced, my brother』s instruments?』 

『It was clear enough, as I have told you, years before you ever 
saw her—and why, in the mysterious dispensations of Providence, 
you ever did see her, is 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 time, Mr. 
Murdstone, when she gave birth to her boy here,』 said my aunt; 『to 
the poor child you sometimes tormented her through afterwards, 
which is a disagreeable remembrance and makes the sight of him 
odious now. Aye, aye! you needn』t wince!』 said my aunt. 『I know 
it』s true without that.』 

He had stood by the door, all this while, observant of her with a 
smile upon his face, though his black eyebrows were heavily 

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contracted. I remarked now, that, though the smile was on his face 
still, his colour had gone in a moment, and he seemed to breathe 
as if he had been running. 

『Good day, sir,』 said my aunt, 『and good-bye! Good day to you, 
too, ma』am,』 said my aunt, turning suddenly upon his sister. 『Let 
me see you ride a donkey over my green again, and as sure as you 
have a head upon your shoulders, I』ll knock your bonnet off, and 
tread upon it!』 

It would require a painter, and no common painter too, to 
depict my aunt』s face as she delivered herself of this very 
unexpected sentiment, and Miss Murdstone』s face as she heard it. 
But the manner of the speech, no less than the matter, was so 
fiery, that Miss Murdstone, without a word in answer, discreetly 
put her arm through her brother』s, and walked haughtily out of 
the cottage; my aunt remaining in the window looking after them; 
prepared, I have no doubt, in case of the donkey』s reappearance, 
to carry her threat into instant execution. 

No attempt at defiance being made, however, her face gradually 
relaxed, and became so pleasant, that I was emboldened to kiss 
and thank her; which I did with great heartiness, and with both 
my arms clasped round her neck. I then shook hands with Mr. 
Dick, who shook hands with me a great many times, and hailed 
this happy close of the proceedings with repeated bursts of 
laughter. 

『You』ll consider yourself guardian, jointly with me, of 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 

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thinking, do you know, Mr. Dick, that I might call him Trotwood?』 

『Certainly, certainly. Call him Trotwood, certainly,』 said Mr. 
Dick. 『David』s son』s Trotwood.』 

『Trotwood Copperfield, you mean,』 returned my aunt. 

『Yes, to be sure. Yes. Trotwood Copperfield,』 said Mr. Dick, a 
little abashed. 

My aunt took so kindly to the notion, that some ready-made 
clothes, which were purchased for me that afternoon, were 
marked 『Trotwood Copperfield』, in her own handwriting, and 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 life, in a new name, and with everything 
new about me. Now that the state of doubt was over, I felt, for 
many days, like one in a dream. I never thought that I had a 
curious couple of guardians, in my aunt and Mr. Dick. I never 
thought of anything about myself, distinctly. The two things 
clearest in my mind were, that 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 moment, even in this narrative, 
with a reluctant hand, and dropped it gladly. The remembrance of 
that life is fraught with so much pain to me, with so much mental 
suffering and want of hope, that I have never had the courage 
even to examine how long I was doomed to lead it. Whether it 
lasted for a year, or more, or less, I do not know. I only know that 
it was, and ceased to be; and that I have written, and there I leave 

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it. 

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Chapter 15 

I MAKE ANOTHER BEGINNING 

Mr. Dick and I soon became the best of friends, and very 
often, when his day』s work was done, went 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 progress, 
however hard he laboured, for King Charles the First always 
strayed into it, sooner or later, and then it was thrown aside, and 
another one begun. The patience and hope with which he bore 
these perpetual disappointments, the mild perception he had that 
there was something wrong about King Charles the First, the 
feeble efforts he made to keep him out, and the certainty with 
which he came in, and tumbled the Memorial out of all shape, 
made a deep impression on me. What Mr. Dick supposed would 
come of the Memorial, if it were completed; where he thought it 
was to go, or what he thought it was to do; he knew no more than 
anybody else, I believe. Nor was it at all necessary that he should 
trouble himself with such questions, for if anything were certain 
under the sun, it was certain that the Memorial never would be 
finished. It was quite an affecting sight, I used to think, to see him 
with the kite when it was up a great height in the air. What he had 
told me, in his room, about his belief in its disseminating the 
statements pasted on it, which were nothing but old leaves of 
abortive Memorials, might have been a fancy with him sometimes; 
but not when he was out, looking up at the kite in the sky, and 
feeling it pull and tug at his hand. He never looked so serene as he 
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did then. I used to fancy, as I sat by him of an evening, on a green 
slope, and saw him watch the kite high in the quiet air, that it 
lifted his mind out of its confusion, and 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 light, until it 
fluttered to the ground, and lay there like a dead thing, he seemed 
to wake gradually out of a dream; and I remember to have seen 
him take it up, and look about him in a lost way, as if they had 
both come down together, so that I pitied him with all my heart. 

While I advanced in friendship and intimacy with Mr. Dick, I 
did not go backward in the favour of his staunch friend, my aunt. 
She took so kindly to me, that, in the course of a few weeks, she 
shortened my adopted name of Trotwood into Trot; and even 
encouraged me to hope, that if I went on as I had begun, I might 
take equal rank in her affections with my sister Betsey Trotwood. 

『Trot,』 said my aunt one evening, when the backgammon-board 
was placed as usual for herself and Mr. Dick, 『we must not forget 
your education.』 

This was my only subject of anxiety, and 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 much, as 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 
evolutions, I was not surprised by the suddenness of the proposal, 
and said: 『Yes.』 

『Good,』 said my aunt again. 『Janet, hire the grey pony and 
chaise tomorrow morning at ten o』clock, and pack up Master 
Trotwood』s clothes tonight.』 

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I was greatly elated by these orders; but my heart smote me for 
my selfishness, when I witnessed their effect on Mr. Dick, who was 
so low-spirited at the prospect of our separation, and played so ill 
in consequence, that my aunt, after giving him several admonitory 
raps on the knuckles with her dice-box, shut up the board, and 
declined to play with him any more. But, on hearing from my aunt 
that I should sometimes come over on a Saturday, and that he 
could sometimes come and see me on a Wednesday, he revived; 
and vowed to make another kite for those occasions, of 
proportions greatly surpassing the present one. In the morning he 
was downhearted again, and would have sustained himself by 
giving me all the money he had in his possession, gold and silver 
too, if my aunt had not interposed, and limited the gift to five 
shillings, which, at his earnest petition, were afterwards increased 
to ten. We parted at the garden-gate in a most affectionate 
manner, and Mr. Dick did not go into the house until my aunt had 
driven me out of sight of it. 

My aunt, who was perfectly indifferent to public opinion, drove 
the grey pony through Dover in a masterly manner; sitting high 
and stiff like a state coachman, keeping a steady eye upon him 
wherever he went, and making a point of not letting him have his 
own way in any respect. When we came into the country road, she 
permitted him to relax a little, however; and looking at me down in 
a valley of cushion by her side, asked me whether I was happy? 

『Very happy indeed, thank you, aunt,』 I said. 

She was much gratified; and both her hands being occupied, 
patted me on the head with her whip. 

『Is it a large school, aunt?』 I asked. 

『Why, I don』t know,』 said my aunt. 『We are going to Mr. 

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Wickfield』s first.』 

『Does he keep a school?』 I asked. 

『No, Trot,』 said my aunt. 『He keeps an office.』 

I asked for no more information about Mr. Wickfield, as she 
offered none, and we conversed on other subjects until we came to 
Canterbury, where, as it was market-day, my aunt had a great 
opportunity of insinuating the grey pony among carts, baskets, 
vegetables, and huckster』s goods. The hair-breadth turns and 
twists we made, drew down upon us a variety of speeches from the 
people standing about, which were not always complimentary; but 
my aunt drove on with perfect indifference, and 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 
farther, and beams with carved heads on the ends bulging out too, 
so that I fancied the whole house was leaning forward, trying 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 door, ornamented with carved garlands of fruit and 
flowers, twinkled 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 corners, and carvings and mouldings, and 
quaint little panes of glass, and quainter little windows, though as 
old as the hills, were as pure as any snow that ever fell upon the 
hills. 

When the pony-chaise stopped at the door, and my eyes were 
intent upon the house, I saw a cadaverous face appear at a small 
window on the ground floor (in a little round tower that formed 

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one side of the house), and quickly disappear. The low arched door 
then opened, and the face came out. It was quite as cadaverous as 
it had looked in the window, though 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 
fifteen, as I take it now, but looking much older—whose hair was 
cropped as close as the closest stubble; who had hardly any 
eyebrows, and no eyelashes, and eyes of a red-brown, so 
unsheltered and unshaded, that I remember wondering how he 
went to sleep. He was high-shouldered and bony; dressed in 
decent black, with a white wisp of a neckcloth; buttoned up to the 
throat; and had a long, lank, skeleton hand, which particularly 
attracted my attention, as he stood at the pony』s head, rubbing his 
chin with it, and looking up at us in the chaise. 

『Is Mr. Wickfield at home, Uriah Heep?』 said my aunt. 

『Mr. Wickfield』s at home, ma』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 pony, went into a long 
low parlour looking towards the street, from the window of which 
I caught a glimpse, as I went in, of Uriah Heep breathing into the 
pony』s nostrils, and immediately covering them with his hand, as 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 eyebrows, 
who was looking over some papers tied together with red tape; the 
other, of a lady, with a very placid and sweet expression of face, 
who was looking at me. 

I believe I was turning about in search of Uriah』s picture, when, 

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a door at the farther end of the room opening, a gentleman 
entered, at sight of whom I turned to the first-mentioned portrait 
again, to make quite sure that it had not come out of its frame. But 
it was stationary; and as the gentleman advanced into the light, I 
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 moment, but you』ll excuse my being busy. You know 
my motive. I have but one in life.』 

Miss Betsey thanked him, and we went into his room, which 
was furnished as an office, with books, papers, tin boxes, and so 
forth. It looked into a garden, and had an iron safe let into the 
wall; so immediately over the mantelshelf, that I wondered, as I sat 
down, how the sweeps got round it when they swept the chimney. 

『Well, Miss Trotwood,』 said Mr. Wickfield; for I soon found that 
it was he, and that he was a lawyer, and steward of the estates of a 
rich gentleman of the county; 『what wind blows you here? Not an 
ill wind, I hope?』 

『No,』 replied my aunt. 『I have not come for any law.』 

『That』s right, ma』am,』 said Mr. Wickfield. 『You had better come 
for anything else.』 His hair was quite white now, though his 
eyebrows were still black. He had a very agreeable face, and, I 
thought, was handsome. There was a certain richness in his 
complexion, which I had been long accustomed, under Peggotty』s 
tuition, to connect with port wine; and I fancied it was in his voice 
too, and referred his growing corpulency to the same cause. He 
was very cleanly dressed, in a blue coat, striped waistcoat, and 
nankeen trousers; and his fine frilled shirt and cambric neckcloth 
looked unusually soft and white, reminding my strolling fancy (I 

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call to mind) of the plumage on the breast of a swan. 

『This is my nephew,』 said my aunt. 

『Wasn』t aware you had one, Miss Trotwood,』 said Mr. Wickfield. 

『My grand-nephew, that is to say,』 observed my aunt. 

『Wasn』t aware you had a grand-nephew, I give you my word,』 
said Mr. Wickfield. 

『I have adopted him,』 said my aunt, with a wave of her hand, 
importing that his knowledge and his ignorance were all one to 
her, 『and I have brought him here, to put to a school where he may 
be thoroughly well taught, and well treated. Now tell me where 
that school is, and what it is, and all about it.』 

『Before I can advise you properly,』 said Mr. Wickfield—『the old 
question, you know. What』s your motive in this?』 

『Deuce take the man!』 exclaimed my aunt. 『Always fishing for 
motives, when they』re on the surface! Why, to make the child 
happy and useful.』 

『It must be a mixed motive, I think,』 said Mr. Wickfield, shaking 
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 suppose, I hope, that 
you are the only plain dealer in the world?』 

『Ay, but I have only one motive in life, Miss Trotwood,』 he 
rejoined, smiling. 『Other people have dozens, scores, hundreds. I 
have only one. There』s the difference. However, that』s beside the 
question. The best school? Whatever the motive, you want the 
best?』 

My aunt nodded assent. 

『At the best we have,』 said Mr. Wickfield, considering, 『your 
nephew couldn』t board just now.』 

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『But he could board somewhere else, I suppose?』 suggested my 
aunt. 

Mr. Wickfield thought I could. After a little discussion, he 
proposed to take my aunt to the school, that she might see it and 
judge for herself; also, to take her, with the same object, to two or 
three houses where he thought I could be boarded. My aunt 
embracing the proposal, we were all three going out together, 
when he stopped and said: 

『Our little friend here might have some motive, perhaps, for 
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 behind, if they pleased; and 
returned into Mr. Wickfield』s office, where I sat down again, in the 
chair I had first occupied, to await their return. 

It so happened that this chair was opposite a narrow passage, 
which ended in the little circular room where I had seen Uriah 
Heep』s pale face looking out of the window. Uriah, having taken 
the pony to a neighbouring stable, was at work at a desk in this 
room, which had a brass frame on the top to hang paper upon, and 
on which the writing he was making a copy of was then hanging. 
Though his face was towards me, I thought, for some time, the 
writing being between us, that he could not see me; but looking 
that way more attentively, it made me uncomfortable to observe 
that, every now and then, his sleepless eyes would come below the 
writing, like two red suns, and stealthily stare at me for I dare say 
a whole minute at a time, during which his pen went, or pretended 
to go, as 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 

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other side of the room, and poring over the columns of a Kentish 
newspaper—but they always attracted me back again; and 
whenever I looked towards those two red suns, I was sure to find 
them, either just rising or just setting. 

At length, much to my relief, my 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 
undeniable, my aunt had not approved of any of the boardinghouses 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 do, Miss Trotwood.』 

『What』s that?』 inquired my aunt. 

『Leave your nephew here, for 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 monastery, and almost as roomy. Leave him here.』 

My aunt evidently liked the offer, though she was delicate of 
accepting it. So did I. 『Come, Miss Trotwood,』 said Mr. Wickfield. 
『This is the way out of the difficulty. It』s only a temporary 
arrangement, you know. If it don』t act well, or don』t quite accord 
with our mutual convenience, he 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 he, I 
see; but—』 

『Come! I know what you mean,』 cried Mr. Wickfield. 『You shall 
not be oppressed by the receipt of favours, Miss Trotwood. You 

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may pay for him, if you like. We won』t be hard about terms, but 
you shall pay if you will.』 

『On that understanding,』 said my aunt, 『though it doesn』t lessen 
the real obligation, I 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 that, almost as 
easily; and into a shady old drawing-room, lighted by some three 
or four of the quaint windows I had looked up at from the street: 
which had old oak seats in them, that seemed to have come of the 
same trees as the shining oak floor, and the great beams in the 
ceiling. It was a prettily furnished room, with a piano and some 
lively furniture in red and green, and some flowers. It seemed to 
be all old nooks and corners; and in every nook and corner there 
was some queer little table, or cupboard, or bookcase, or seat, or 
something or other, that made me think there was not such 
another good corner in the room; until I looked at the next one, 
and 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 face, I 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 womanly, and the 
original remained a child. Although her face was quite bright and 
happy, there was a tranquillity about it, and about her—a quiet, 
good, calm spirit—that I never have forgotten; that I shall never 
forget. This was his little housekeeper, his daughter Agnes, Mr. 

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Wickfield said. When I heard how he said it, and saw how he held 
her hand, I guessed what the one motive of his life was. 

She had a little basket-trifle hanging at her side, with 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 
me, with a pleasant face; and when he had concluded, proposed to 
my aunt that we should go upstairs and see my room. We all went 
together, she before us: and a glorious old room it was, with more 
oak beams, and diamond panes; and the broad balustrade going 
all the way up to it. 

I cannot call to mind where or when, in my childhood, I had 
seen a stained glass window in a church. Nor do I recollect its 
subject. But I know that when I saw her turn round, in the grave 
light of the old staircase, and wait for us, above, I thought of that 
window; and I associated something of its tranquil brightness with 
Agnes Wickfield ever afterwards. 

My aunt was as happy as I was, in the arrangement made for 
me; and we went down to the drawing-room again, well pleased 
and gratified. As she would not hear of staying to dinner, lest 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 
there, and Agnes went back to her governess, and 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. 
Wickfield, and that I should want for nothing, and gave me the 
kindest words and the best advice. 

『Trot,』 said my aunt in conclusion, 『be a credit to yourself, to me, 

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and Mr. Dick, and Heaven be with you!』 

I was greatly overcome, and could only thank her, again 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 vices, Trot, and I can always be 
hopeful of you.』 

I promised, as well as I could, that 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 hastily, and went out of the 
room, shutting the door after her. At first I was startled by so 
abrupt a departure, and almost feared I had displeased her; but 
when I looked into the street, and saw how dejectedly she got into 
the chaise, and drove away without looking up, I understood her 
better and did not do her that injustice. 

By five o』clock, which was Mr. Wickfield』s dinner-hour, I had 
mustered up my spirits again, and was ready for my knife and 
fork. The cloth was only laid for us two; but Agnes was waiting in 
the drawing-room before dinner, went down with her father, and 
sat opposite to him at table. I doubted whether he could have 
dined without her. 

We did not stay there, after dinner, but came upstairs into the 
drawing-room again: in one snug corner of which, Agnes set 
glasses for her father, and a decanter of port wine. I thought he 
would have missed its usual flavour, if it had been put there for 
him by any other hands. 

There he sat, taking his wine, and taking a good deal of it, for 
two hours; while Agnes played on the piano, worked, and talked to 
him and me. He was, for the most part, gay and cheerful with us; 

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but sometimes his eyes rested on her, and he fell into a brooding 
state, and was silent. She always observed this quickly, I thought, 
and always roused him with a question or caress. Then he came 
out of his meditation, and drank more wine. 

Agnes made the tea, and presided over it; and the time passed 
away after it, as after dinner, until she went to bed; when her 
father took her in his arms and kissed her, and, she being gone, 
ordered 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 street, that I might have another 
peep at the old houses, and the grey Cathedral; and might think of 
my coming through that old city on my journey, and of my passing 
the very house I lived in, without knowing it. As I came back, I saw 
Uriah Heep shutting up the office; and feeling friendly towards 
everybody, went in and spoke to him, and at parting, gave him my 
hand. But oh, what a clammy hand his was! as ghostly to the touch 
as to the sight! I rubbed mine afterwards, to warm it, and to rub his 
off. 

It was such an uncomfortable hand, that, when I went to my 
room, it 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 sideways, I fancied it was Uriah Heep got up there 
somehow, and shut him out in a hurry. 

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Chapter 16 

I AM A NEW BOY IN MORE SENSES THAN ONE 

Next morning, after breakfast, I entered on school life 
again. I went, accompanied by Mr. Wickfield, to the 
scene of my future studies—a grave building in a 
courtyard, with 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 master, Doctor Strong. 

Doctor Strong looked almost as rusty, to my thinking, as the tall 
iron rails and gates outside the house; and almost as stiff and 
heavy as the great stone urns that flanked them, and were set up, 
on the top of the red-brick wall, at regular distances all round the 
court, like sublimated skittles, for Time to play at. He was in his 
library (I mean Doctor Strong was), with his clothes not 
particularly well brushed, and 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 eye, that reminded me 
of a long-forgotten blind old horse who once used to crop the 
grass, and tumble over the graves, in Blunderstone churchyard, he 
said he was glad to see me: and then he gave me his hand; which I 
didn』t know what to do with, as it did nothing for itself. 

But, sitting at work, not far from Doctor Strong, was a very 
pretty young lady—whom he called Annie, and who was his 
daughter, I supposed—who got me out of my difficulty by kneeling 

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down to put Doctor Strong』s shoes on, and button his gaiters, 
which she did with great cheerfulness and quickness. When she 
had finished, and we were going out to the schoolroom, I was 
much surprised to hear Mr. Wickfield, in bidding her good 
morning, address her as 『Mrs. Strong』; and I was wondering could 
she be Doctor Strong』s son』s wife, or could she be Mrs. Doctor 
Strong, when Doctor Strong himself unconsciously enlightened 
me. 

『By the by, Wickfield,』 he said, stopping 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 done, Wickfield,』 said 
Doctor Strong, 『for Jack Maldon is needy, and idle; and of those 
two bad things, worse things sometimes come. What does Doctor 
Watts say,』 he added, looking at me, and moving his head to the 
time of his quotation, 『「Satan finds some mischief still, for idle 
hands to do.」』 

『Egad, Doctor,』 returned Mr. Wickfield, 『if Doctor Watts knew 
mankind, he might have written, with as much truth, 「Satan finds 
some mischief still, for busy hands to do.」 The busy people achieve 
their full share of mischief in the world, you may rely upon it. 
What have the people been about, who have been the busiest in 
getting money, and in getting power, this century or two? No 
mischief?』 

『Jack Maldon will never be very busy in getting either, I expect,』 
said Doctor Strong, rubbing his chin thoughtfully. 

『Perhaps not,』 said Mr. Wickfield; 『and you bring me back to the 
question, with an apology for digressing. No, I have not been able 

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to dispose of Mr. Jack Maldon yet. I believe,』 he said this with 
some hesitation, 『I penetrate your motive, and it makes the thing 
more difficult.』 

『My motive,』 returned Doctor Strong, 『is to make some suitable 
provision for a cousin, and an old playfellow, of Annie』s.』 

『Yes, I know,』 said Mr. Wickfield; 『at home or abroad.』 

『Aye!』 replied the Doctor, apparently wondering why he 
emphasized those words so much. 『At home or abroad.』 

『Your own expression, you 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 abroad, and not at 
home?』 

『No,』 returned the Doctor. 

『I am bound to believe you, and of course I do believe you,』 said 
Mr. Wickfield. 『It might have simplified my office very much, if I 
had known it before. But I confess I entertained another 
impression.』 

Doctor Strong regarded him with a puzzled and doubting look, 
which almost immediately subsided into a smile that gave me 
great encouragement; for it was full of amiability and sweetness, 
and there was a simplicity in it, and indeed in his whole manner, 
when the studious, pondering frost upon it was got through, very 
attractive and hopeful to a young scholar like me. Repeating 『no』, 
and 『not the least』, and other short assurances to the same 

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purport, Doctor Strong jogged on before us, at a queer, uneven 
pace; and we followed: Mr. Wickfield, looking grave, I observed, 
and shaking his head to himself, without knowing that I saw him. 

The schoolroom was a pretty large hall, on the quietest side of 
the house, confronted by the stately stare of some half-dozen of 
the great urns, and commanding a peep of an old secluded garden 
belonging to the Doctor, where the peaches were ripening on the 
sunny south wall. There were two great aloes, in tubs, on the turf 
outside the windows; the broad hard leaves of which plant 
(looking as if they were made of painted tin) have ever since, by 
association, been symbolical to me of silence and retirement. 
About five-and-twenty boys were studiously engaged at their 
books when we went in, but they rose to give the Doctor good 
morning, and remained standing when they saw Mr. Wickfield and 
me. 

『A new boy, young gentlemen,』 said the Doctor; 『Trotwood 
Copperfield.』 

One Adams, who was the head-boy, then stepped out of his 
place and welcomed me. He looked like a young clergyman, in his 
white cravat, but he was very affable and good-humoured; and he 
showed me my place, and presented me to the masters, in a 
gentlemanly way that would have put me at my ease, if anything 
could. 

It seemed to me so long, however, since I had been among such 
boys, or among any companions of my own age, except Mick 
Walker and Mealy Potatoes, that 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 knowledge, and of having 
acquired experiences foreign to my age, appearance, and 

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condition as one of them, that I half believed it was an imposture 
to come there as an ordinary little schoolboy. I had become, in the 
Murdstone and Grinby time, however short or long it may have 
been, so unused to the sports and games of boys, that I knew I was 
awkward and inexperienced in the commonest things belonging to 
them. Whatever I had learnt, had so slipped away from me in the 
sordid cares of my life from day to night, that now, when I was 
examined about what I knew, I knew nothing, and was put into the 
lowest form of the school. But, troubled as I was, by my want of 
boyish skill, and of book-learning too, I was made infinitely more 
uncomfortable by the consideration, that, in what I did know, I 
was much farther removed from my companions than in what I 
did not. My mind ran upon what they would think, if 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 pawnings, and 
sellings, and suppers—in spite of myself? Suppose some of the 
boys had seen me coming through Canterbury, wayworn and 
ragged, and should find me out? What would they say, who made 
so light of money, if they could know how I had scraped my 
halfpence together, for the purchase of my daily saveloy and beer, 
or my slices of pudding? How would it affect them, who were so 
innocent of London life, and London streets, to 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 much, on that first day 
at Doctor Strong』s, that 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 

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friendly notice or advance. 

But there was such an influence in Mr. Wickfield』s old house, 
that when I knocked at it, with my new school-books under my 
arm, I began to feel my uneasiness softening away. As I went up to 
my airy old room, the grave shadow of the staircase seemed to fall 
upon my doubts and fears, and to make the past more indistinct. I 
sat there, sturdily conning my books, until dinner-time (we were 
out of school for good at three); and went down, hopeful of 
becoming a passable sort of boy yet. 

Agnes was in the drawing-room, waiting for her father, who was 
detained by someone in his office. She met me with her pleasant 
smile, and asked me how I liked the school. I told her I should like 
it very much, I 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.』 

『Ah, but you mean here, at your own home?』 

『Papa couldn』t spare me to go anywhere else,』 she answered, 
smiling and shaking her head. 『His housekeeper must be in his 
house, you know.』 

『He is very fond of you, I 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. But, as he was not 
there, she came back again. 

『Mama has been dead ever since I was born,』 she said, in her 
quiet way. 『I only know her picture, downstairs. I saw you looking 
at it yesterday. Did you think whose it was?』 

I told her yes, because it was so like herself. 

『Papa says so, too,』 said Agnes, pleased. 『Hark! That』s papa 
now!』 

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Her bright calm face lighted up with pleasure as she went to 
meet him, and as they came in, hand in hand. He greeted me 
cordially; and told me I should certainly be happy under Doctor 
Strong, who was one of the gentlest of men. 

『There may be some, perhaps—I don』t know that there are— 
who abuse his kindness,』 said Mr. Wickfield. 『Never be one of 
those, Trotwood, in anything. He is the least suspicious of 
mankind; and whether that』s a merit, or whether it』s a blemish, it 
deserves consideration in all dealings with the Doctor, great or 
small.』 

He spoke, I thought, as if he were weary, or dissatisfied with 
something; but I did not pursue the question in my mind, for 
dinner was just then announced, and we went down and took the 
same seats as before. 

We had scarcely done so, when Uriah Heep put in his red head 
and his lank hand at the door, and said: 

『Here』s Mr. Maldon begs the favour of a word, sir.』 

『I am but this moment quit of Mr. Maldon,』 said his master. 

『Yes, sir,』 returned Uriah; 『but Mr. Maldon has come back, and 
he begs the favour of a word.』 As he held the door open with his 
hand, Uriah looked at me, and looked at Agnes, and looked at the 
dishes, and looked at the plates, and looked at every object in the 
room, I 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 say, on reflection,』 observed 
a voice behind Uriah, as Uriah』s head was pushed away, and the 
speaker』s substituted—『pray excuse me for this intrusion—that as 
it seems I have no choice in the matter, the sooner I go abroad the 
better. My cousin Annie did say, when we talked of it, that she 

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liked to have her friends within reach rather than to have them 

banished, and the old Doctor—』 

『Doctor Strong, was that?』 Mr. Wickfield interposed, gravely. 

『Doctor Strong, of course,』 returned the other; 『I call him the old 
Doctor; it』s all the same, you know.』 

『I don』t know,』 returned Mr. Wickfield. 

『Well, Doctor Strong,』 said the other—『Doctor Strong was of the 
same mind, I believed. But as it appears from the course you take 
with me he has changed his mind, why there』s no more to be said, 
except that the sooner I am off, the better. Therefore, I thought I』d 
come back and say, that the sooner I am off the better. When a 
plunge is to be made into the water, it』s of no use lingering on the 
bank.』 

『There shall be as little lingering as possible, in your case, Mr. 
Maldon, you 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 mouth, which is not a gracious thing to do; 
otherwise, I dare say, my 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 say, that 
she wanted such and such a thing to be so and so; and it would be 
so and so, as a matter of course.』 

『And why as a matter of course, Mr. Maldon?』 asked Mr. 
Wickfield, sedately eating his dinner. 

『Why, because Annie』s a charming young girl, and the old 
Doctor—Doctor Strong, I mean—is not quite a charming young 

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boy,』 said Mr. Jack Maldon, laughing. 『No offence to anybody, Mr. 
Wickfield. I only mean that I suppose some compensation is fair 
and reasonable in that sort of marriage.』 

『Compensation to the lady, sir?』 asked Mr. Wickfield gravely. 

『To the lady, sir,』 Mr. Jack Maldon answered, laughing. But 
appearing to remark that Mr. Wickfield went on with his dinner in 
the same sedate, immovable manner, and that there was no hope 
of making him relax a muscle of his face, he added: 『However, I 
have said what I came to say, and, with another apology for this 
intrusion, I may take myself off. Of course I shall observe your 
directions, in considering the matter as one to be arranged 
between you and me solely, and not to be referred to, up at the 
Doctor』s.』 

『Have you dined?』 asked Mr. Wickfield, with 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. Wickfield, without rising, looked after him thoughtfully as 
he went out. He was rather a shallow sort of young gentleman, I 
thought, with a handsome face, a rapid utterance, and a confident, 
bold air. And this was the first I ever saw of Mr. Jack Maldon; 
whom I had not expected to see so soon, when I heard the Doctor 
speak of him that morning. 

When we had dined, we went upstairs again, where everything 
went on exactly as on the previous day. Agnes set the glasses and 
decanters in the same corner, and Mr. Wickfield sat down to drink, 
and drank a good deal. Agnes played the piano to him, sat by him, 
and worked and talked, and played some games at dominoes with 
me. In good time she made tea; and afterwards, when I brought 

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down my books, looked into them, and showed me what she knew 
of them (which was no slight matter, though she said it was), and 
what was the best way to learn and understand them. I see her, 
with her modest, orderly, placid manner, and I hear her beautiful 
calm voice, as I write these words. The influence for all good, 
which she came to exercise over me at a later time, begins already 
to descend upon my breast. I love little Em』ly, and I don』t love 
Agnes—no, not at all in that way—but I feel that there are 
goodness, peace, and truth, wherever Agnes is; and that the soft 
light of the coloured window in the church, seen long ago, falls on 
her always, and on me when I am near her, and on everything 
around. 

The time having come for her withdrawal for the night, and she 
having left us, I gave Mr. Wickfield my hand, preparatory to going 
away myself. But he checked me and said: 『Should you like to stay 
with us, Trotwood, or to go elsewhere?』 

『To stay,』 I answered, quickly. 

『You are sure?』 

『If you please. If I may!』 

『Why, it』s but a dull life that we lead here, boy, I am afraid,』 he 
said. 

『Not more dull for me than Agnes, sir. Not dull at all!』 

『Than Agnes,』 he repeated, walking slowly to the great chimney-
piece, and 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 now, for they were cast 
down, and shaded by his hand; but I had noticed them a little 
while before. 

『Now I wonder,』 he muttered, 『whether my Agnes tires of me. 

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When should I ever tire of her! But that』s different, that』s quite 

different.』 

He was musing, not 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 darling, or that my darling may die and 
leave me, comes like a spectre, to distress my happiest hours, and 
is only to be drowned in—』 

He did not supply the word; but pacing slowly to the place 
where he had sat, and mechanically going through the action of 
pouring wine from the empty decanter, set it down and paced 
back again. 

『If it is miserable to bear, when she is here,』 he said, 『what 
would it be, and she away? No, no, no. I cannot try that.』 

He leaned against the chimney-piece, brooding so long that I 
could not decide whether to run the risk of disturbing him by 
going, or to remain quietly where I was, until he should come out 
of his reverie. At length he aroused himself, and looked about the 
room until his eyes encountered mine. 

『Stay with us, Trotwood, eh?』 he said in his usual manner, and 
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 me, wholesome for Agnes, wholesome perhaps for 
all of us.』 

『I am sure it is for me, sir,』 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 here, you shall stay here.』 He shook hands with me upon 
it, and clapped me on the back; and told me that when I had 
anything to do at night after Agnes had left us, or when I wished to 

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read for my own pleasure, I was free to come down to his room, if 
he were there and if I desired it for company』s sake, and to sit with 
him. I thanked him for his consideration; and, as he went down 
soon afterwards, and I was not tired, went down too, with a book 
in my hand, to avail myself, for half-an-hour, of his permission. 

But, seeing a light in the little round office, and immediately 
feeling myself attracted towards Uriah Heep, who had a sort of 
fascination for me, I went in there instead. I found Uriah reading a 
great fat book, with such demonstrative attention, that his lank 
forefinger followed up every line as he read, and made clammy 
tracks along the page (or so I fully believed) like a snail. 

『You are working late tonight, Uriah,』 says I. 

『Yes, Master Copperfield,』 says Uriah. 

As I was getting on the stool opposite, to talk to him more 
conveniently, I observed that he had not such a thing as a smile 
about him, and that he could only widen his mouth and make two 
hard creases down his cheeks, one on each side, to stand for one. 

『I am not doing office-work, Master Copperfield,』 said Uriah. 

『What work, then?』 I asked. 

『I am improving my legal knowledge, Master Copperfield,』 said 
Uriah. 『I am going through Tidd』s Practice. Oh, what a writer Mr. 
Tidd is, Master Copperfield!』 

My stool was such a tower of observation, that as I watched him 
reading on again, after this rapturous exclamation, and following 
up the lines with his forefinger, I observed that his nostrils, which 
were thin and pointed, with sharp dints in them, had a singular 
and most uncomfortable way of expanding and contracting 
themselves—that they seemed to twinkle instead of his eyes, 
which hardly ever twinkled at all. 

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『I suppose you are quite a great lawyer?』 I said, after looking at 
him for some time. 

『Me, Master Copperfield?』 said Uriah. 『Oh, no! I』m a very umble 
person.』 

It was no fancy of mine about his hands, I observed; for he 
frequently ground the palms against each other as if to squeeze 
them dry and warm, besides often wiping them, in a stealthy way, 
on his pocket-handkerchief. 

『I am well aware that I am the umblest person going,』 said 
Uriah Heep, modestly; 『let the other be where he may. My mother 
is likewise a very umble person. We live in a numble abode, 
Master Copperfield, but 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 present, Master 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 him, going on four year, Master Copperfield,』 
said Uriah; shutting up his book, after carefully marking the place 
where he had left off. 『Since a year after my father』s death. How 
much have I to be thankful for, in that! How much have I to be 
thankful for, in Mr. Wickfield』s kind intention to give me my 
articles, which would otherwise not lay within the umble means of 
mother and self!』 

『Then, when your articled time is over, you』ll be a regular 
lawyer, I suppose?』 said I. 

『With the blessing of Providence, Master Copperfield,』 returned 
Uriah. 

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『Perhaps you』ll be a partner in Mr. Wickfield』s business, one of 
these days,』 I said, to make myself agreeable; 『and it will be 
Wickfield and Heep, or Heep late Wickfield.』 

『Oh no, Master Copperfield,』 returned Uriah, shaking his head, 
『I am much too umble for that!』 

He certainly did look uncommonly like the carved face on the 
beam outside my window, as he sat, in his humility, eyeing me 
sideways, with his mouth widened, and the creases in his cheeks. 

『Mr. Wickfield is a most excellent man, Master Copperfield,』 
said Uriah. 『If you have known him long, you know it, I am sure, 
much better than I can inform you.』 

I replied that I was certain he was; but that I had not known 
him long myself, though he was a friend of my aunt』s. 

『Oh, indeed, Master Copperfield,』 said Uriah. 『Your aunt is a 
sweet lady, Master 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 relation, to the snaky 
twistings of his throat and body. 

『A sweet lady, Master Copperfield!』 said Uriah Heep. 『She has a 
great admiration for Miss Agnes, Master Copperfield, I believe?』 

I said, 『Yes,』 boldly; not that I knew anything about it, Heaven 
forgive me! 

『I hope you have, too, Master Copperfield,』 said Uriah. 『But I am 
sure you must have.』 

『Everybody must have,』 I returned. 

『Oh, thank you, Master Copperfield,』 said Uriah Heep, 『for that 
remark! It is so true! Umble as I am, I know it is so true! Oh, thank 
you, Master Copperfield!』 He writhed himself quite off his stool in 

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the excitement of his feelings, and, being off, began to make 
arrangements for going home. 

『Mother will be expecting me,』 he said, referring to a pale, 
inexpressive-faced watch in his pocket, 『and getting uneasy; for 
though we are very umble, Master Copperfield, we are much 
attached to one another. If you would come and see us, any 
afternoon, and take a cup of tea at our lowly dwelling, mother 
would be as proud of your company as I should be.』 

I said I should be glad to come. 

『Thank you, Master Copperfield,』 returned Uriah, putting his 
book away upon the shelf—『I suppose you stop here, some time, 
Master Copperfield?』 

I said I was going to be brought up there, I believed, as long as I 
remained at school. 

『Oh, indeed!』 exclaimed Uriah. 『I should think you would come 
into the business at last, Master Copperfield!』 

I protested that I had no views of that sort, and that no such 
scheme was entertained in my behalf by anybody; but Uriah 
insisted on blandly replying to all my assurances, 『Oh, yes, Master 
Copperfield, I should think you would, indeed!』 and, 『Oh, indeed, 
Master Copperfield, I should think you would, certainly!』 over and 
over again. Being, at last, ready to leave the office for the night, he 
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 fish, in the dark—he 
opened the door into the street a very little, and crept out, and 
shut it, leaving me to grope my way back into the house: which 
cost me some trouble and a fall over his stool. This was the 
proximate cause, I suppose, of my dreaming about him, for what 

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appeared to me to be half the night; and dreaming, among other 
things, that he had launched Mr. Peggotty』s house on a piratical 
expedition, with a black flag at the masthead, bearing the 
inscription 『Tidd』s Practice』, under which diabolical ensign he was 
carrying me and little Em』ly to the Spanish Main, to be drowned. 

I got a little the better of my uneasiness when I went to school 
next day, and a good deal the better next day, and so shook it off 
by degrees, that in less than a fortnight I was quite at home, and 
happy, among my new companions. I was awkward enough in 
their games, and backward enough in their studies; but custom 
would improve me in the first respect, I hoped, and hard work in 
the second. Accordingly, I went to work very hard, both in play 
and in earnest, and gained great commendation. And, in a very 
little while, the Murdstone and Grinby life became so strange to 
me that I hardly believed in it, while 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 
ordered, and on a sound system; with an appeal, in everything, to 
the honour and good faith of the boys, and an avowed intention to 
rely on their possession of those qualities unless they proved 
themselves unworthy of it, which worked wonders. We all felt that 
we had a part in the management of the place, and in sustaining 
its character and dignity. Hence, we soon became warmly attached 
to it—I am sure I did for one, and I never knew, in all my time, of 
any other boy being otherwise—and learnt with a good will, 
desiring to do it credit. We had noble games out of hours, and 
plenty of liberty; but even then, as I remember, we were well 
spoken of in the town, and rarely did any disgrace, by our 

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appearance or manner, to the reputation of Doctor Strong and 
Doctor Strong』s boys. 

Some of the higher scholars boarded in the Doctor』s house, and 
through them I learned, at second hand, some particulars of the 
Doctor』s history—as, how he had not yet been married twelve 
months to the beautiful young lady I had seen in the study, whom 
he had married for love; for she had not a sixpence, and had a 
world of poor relations (so our fellows said) ready to swarm the 
Doctor out of house and home. Also, how the Doctor』s cogitating 
manner was attributable to his being always engaged in looking 
out for Greek roots; which, in my innocence and ignorance, I 
supposed to be a botanical furor on the Doctor』s part, especially as 
he always looked at the ground when he walked about, until I 
understood that they were roots of words, with a view to a new 
Dictionary which he had in contemplation. Adams, our head-boy, 
who had a turn for mathematics, had made a calculation, I was 
informed, of the time this Dictionary would take in completing, on 
the Doctor』s plan, and at the Doctor』s rate of going. He considered 
that it might be done in one thousand six hundred and forty-nine 
years, counting from the Doctor』s last, or sixty-second, birthday. 

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 
else, for 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 house, with the stray rooks and jackdaws 
looking after him with their heads cocked slyly, as if they knew 
how much more knowing they were in worldly affairs than he, if 
any sort of vagabond could only get near enough to his creaking 

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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 house, that the masters and head-boys took pains to cut 
these marauders off at angles, and to get out of windows, and turn 
them out of the courtyard, before they could make the Doctor 
aware of their presence; which was sometimes happily effected 
within a few yards of him, without his knowing anything of the 
matter, as he jogged to and fro. Outside his own domain, and 
unprotected, he was a very sheep for the shearers. He would have 
taken his gaiters off his legs, to give away. In fact, there was a story 
current among us (I have no idea, and never had, on what 
authority, but I have believed it for so many years that I feel quite 
certain it is true), that on a frosty day, one winter-time, he actually 
did bestow his gaiters on a beggar-woman, who occasioned some 
scandal in the neighbourhood by exhibiting a fine infant from door 
to door, wrapped in those garments, which were universally 
recognized, being as well known in the vicinity as the Cathedral. 
The legend added that the only person who did not identify them 
was the Doctor himself, who, when they were shortly afterwards 
displayed at the door of a little second-hand shop of no very good 
repute, where such things were taken in exchange for gin, was 
more than once observed to handle them approvingly, as if 
admiring some curious novelty in the pattern, and considering 
them an improvement on his own. 

It was very pleasant to see the Doctor with his pretty young 
wife. He had a fatherly, benignant 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 were, and I 
sometimes had a nearer observation of them in the study or the 

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parlour. She appeared to me to take great care of the Doctor, and 
to like him very much, though I never thought her vitally 
interested in the Dictionary: some cumbrous fragments of which 
work the Doctor always carried in his pockets, and in the lining of 
his hat, and generally seemed to be expounding to her as they 
walked about. 

I saw a good deal of Mrs. Strong, both because she had taken a 
liking for me on the morning of my introduction to the Doctor, and 
was always afterwards kind to me, and interested in me; and 
because she was very fond of Agnes, and was often backwards and 
forwards at our house. There was a curious constraint between 
her and Mr. Wickfield, I thought (of whom she seemed to be 
afraid), that never wore off. When she came there of an evening, 
she always shrunk from accepting his escort home, and ran away 
with me instead. And sometimes, as we were running gaily across 
the Cathedral yard together, expecting to meet nobody, we 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 generalship, and the skill with which 
she marshalled great forces of relations against the Doctor. She 
was a little, sharp-eyed woman, who used to wear, when she was 
dressed, one unchangeable cap, ornamented with some artificial 
flowers, and two artificial butterflies supposed to be hovering 
above the flowers. There was a superstition among us that this cap 
had come from France, and could only originate in the 
workmanship of that ingenious nation: but all I certainly know 
about it, is, that it always made its appearance of an evening, 
wheresoever Mrs. Markleham made her appearance; that it was 

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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 expense, like busy 
bees. 

I observed the Old Soldier—not to adopt the name 
disrespectfully—to pretty good advantage, on 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』s, which was given on the 
occasion of Mr. Jack Maldon』s departure for India, whither he was 
going as a cadet, or something of that kind: Mr. Wickfield having 
at length arranged the business. It happened to be the Doctor』s 
birthday, too. We had had a holiday, had made presents to him in 
the morning, had made a speech to him through the head-boy, and 
had cheered him until we were hoarse, and until he had shed 
tears. And now, in the evening, Mr. Wickfield, Agnes, and I, went 
to have tea with him in his private capacity. 

Mr. Jack Maldon was there, before us. Mrs. Strong, dressed in 
white, with cherry-coloured ribbons, was playing the piano, when 
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 usual, I thought, when she turned round; but she 
looked very pretty, Wonderfully pretty. 

『I have forgotten, Doctor,』 said Mrs. Strong』s mama, when we 
were seated, 『to pay you the compliments of the day—though they 
are, as you may suppose, very far from being mere compliments in 
my case. Allow me to wish you many happy returns.』 

『I thank you, ma』am,』 replied the Doctor. 

『Many, many, many, happy returns,』 said the Old Soldier. 『Not 
only for your own sake, but for Annie』s, and John Maldon』s, and 

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many other people』s. It seems but yesterday to me, John, when 
you were a little creature, a head shorter than Master Copperfield, 
making baby love to Annie behind the gooseberry bushes in the 
back-garden.』 

『My dear mama,』 said Mrs. Strong, 『never mind that now.』 

『Annie, don』t be absurd,』 returned her mother. 『If you are to 
blush to hear of such things now you are an old married woman, 
when are you not to blush to hear of them?』 

『Old?』 exclaimed Mr. Jack Maldon. 『Annie? Come!』 

『Yes, John,』 returned the Soldier. 『Virtually, an old married 
woman. Although not old by years—for when did you ever hear 
me say, or who has ever heard me say, that a girl of twenty was old 
by years!—your cousin is the wife of the Doctor, and, as such, what 
I have described her. It is well for you, John, that your cousin is 
the wife of the Doctor. You have found in him an influential and 
kind friend, who will be kinder yet, I venture to predict, if you 
deserve it. I have no false pride. I never hesitate to admit, frankly, 
that there are some members of our family who want a friend. You 
were one yourself, before your cousin』s influence raised up one for 
you.』 

The Doctor, in the goodness of his heart, waved his hand as if to 
make light of it, and save Mr. Jack Maldon from any further 
reminder. But Mrs. Markleham changed her chair for one next the 
Doctor』s, and putting her fan on his coat-sleeve, said: 

『No, really, my dear Doctor, you must excuse me if I appear to 
dwell on this rather, because I feel so very strongly. I call it quite 
my monomania, it is such a subject of mine. You are a blessing to 
us. You really are a Boon, you know.』 

『Nonsense, nonsense,』 said the Doctor. 

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『No, no, I beg your pardon,』 retorted the Old Soldier. 『With 
nobody present, but 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-law, if you go on like that, and scold 
you. I am perfectly honest and outspoken. What I am saying, is 
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 way, in the mere 
fact of the proposal—it would be ridiculous to say that!—but 
because, you having known her poor father, and having known 
her from a baby six months old, I hadn』t thought of you in such a 
light at all, or indeed as a marrying man in any way,—simply that, 
you know.』 

『Aye, aye,』 returned the Doctor, good-humouredly. 『Never 
mind.』 

『But I do mind,』 said the Old Soldier, laying 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 Annie, and I told 
her what had happened. I said, 「My 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 said, 
「Now, Annie, tell me the truth this moment; is your heart free?」 
「Mama,」 she said crying, 「I am extremely young」—which was 
perfectly true—「and I hardly know if I have a heart at all.」 「Then, 
my dear,」 I said, 「you may rely upon it, it』s free. At all events, my 
love,」 said I, 「Doctor Strong is in an agitated state of mind, and 
must be answered. He cannot be kept in his present state of 
suspense.」 「Mama,」 said Annie, still crying, 「would he be 
unhappy without me? If he would, I honour and respect him so 

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much, that I think I will have him.」 So it was settled. And then, 
and not till then, I said to Annie, 「Annie, 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 time, and I have used it 
again, today. 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 softly, in a 
trembling voice: 

『Mama, I hope you have finished?』 

『No, my dear Annie,』 returned the Old Soldier, 『I have not quite 
finished. Since you ask me, my love, I reply that I have not. I 
complain that you really are a little unnatural towards your own 
family; and, as it is of no use complaining to you. I mean to 
complain to your husband. Now, my dear Doctor, do look at that 
silly wife of yours.』 

As the Doctor turned his kind face, with its smile of simplicity 
and gentleness, towards her, she drooped her head more. I noticed 
that Mr. Wickfield looked at her steadily. 

『When I happened to say to that naughty thing, the other day,』 
pursued her mother, shaking her head and her fan at her, 
playfully, 『that there was a family circumstance she might mention 
to you—indeed, I think, was bound to mention—she said, that to 
mention it was to ask a favour; and that, as you were too generous, 
and as for her to ask was always to have, she wouldn』t.』 

『Annie, my dear,』 said the Doctor. 『That was wrong. It robbed 
me of a pleasure.』 

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『Almost the very words I said to her!』 exclaimed her mother. 
『Now really, another time, when I know what she would tell you 
but for this reason, and won』t, I have a great mind, my dear 
Doctor, to tell you myself.』 

『I shall be glad if you will,』 returned the Doctor. 

『Shall I?』 

『Certainly.』 

『Well, then, I will!』 said the Old Soldier. 『That』s a bargain.』 And 
having, I suppose, carried her point, she 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 in, among whom were the two 
masters and Adams, the talk became general; and it naturally 
turned on Mr. Jack Maldon, and his voyage, and the country he 
was going to, and his various plans and prospects. He was to leave 
that night, after supper, in a post-chaise, for Gravesend; where the 
ship, in which he was to make the voyage, lay; and was to be 
gone—unless he came home on leave, or for his health—I don』t 
know how many years. I recollect it was settled by general consent 
that India was quite a misrepresented country, and had nothing 
objectionable in it, but a tiger or two, and a little heat in the warm 
part of the day. For my own part, I looked on Mr. Jack Maldon as a 
modern Sindbad, and pictured him the bosom friend of all the 
Rajahs in the East, sitting under canopies, smoking curly golden 
pipes—a mile long, if they could be straightened out. 

Mrs. Strong was a very pretty singer: as I knew, who often 
heard her singing by herself. But, whether she was afraid of 
singing before people, or was out of voice that evening, it was 
certain that she couldn』t sing at all. She tried a duet, once, with 

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her cousin Maldon, but could not so much as begin; and 
afterwards, when she tried to sing by herself, although she began 
sweetly, her voice died away on a sudden, and left her quite 
distressed, with her head hanging down over the keys. The good 
Doctor said she was nervous, and, to relieve her, proposed 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 directly, for her partner; and instructed him, as the first 
preliminary of initiation, to give her all the silver he had in his 
pocket. 

We had a merry game, not made the less merry by the Doctor』s 
mistakes, of which he committed an innumerable quantity, in spite 
of the watchfulness of the butterflies, and to their great 
aggravation. Mrs. Strong had declined to play, on 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 it, 
however, he returned, and they sat together, talking, on the sofa. 
From time to time she came and looked over the Doctor』s hand, 
and told him what to play. She was very pale, as she bent over 
him, and I thought her finger trembled as she pointed out the 
cards; but the Doctor was quite happy in her attention, and took 
no notice of this, if it were so. 

At supper, we were hardly so gay. Everyone appeared to feel 
that a parting of that sort was an awkward thing, and that the 
nearer it approached, the more awkward it was. Mr. Jack Maldon 
tried to be very talkative, but was not at his ease, and made 
matters worse. And they were not improved, as it appeared to me, 
by the Old Soldier: who continually recalled passages of Mr. Jack 
Maldon』s youth. 

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The Doctor, however, who felt, I am sure, that he was making 
everybody happy, was well pleased, and had no suspicion but that 
we were all at the utmost height of enjoyment. 

『Annie, my dear,』 said he, looking at his watch, and filling his 
glass, 『it is past your cousin jack』s time, and we must not detain 
him, since time and tide—both concerned in this case—wait for no 
man. Mr. Jack Maldon, you have a long voyage, and a strange 
country, before you; but many men have had both, and many men 
will have both, to the end of time. The winds you are going to 
tempt, have wafted thousands upon thousands to fortune, and 
brought thousands upon thousands happily back.』 

『It』s an affecting thing,』 said Mrs. Markleham—『however it』s 
viewed, it』s affecting, to see a fine young man one has known from 
an infant, going away to the other end of the world, leaving all he 
knows behind, and 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 you, Mr. Jack Maldon,』 pursued the 
Doctor, 『and fast with all of us. Some of us can hardly expect, 
perhaps, in the natural course of things, to greet you on your 
return. The next best thing is to hope to do it, and that』s my case. I 
shall not weary you with good advice. You have long had a good 
model before you, in your cousin Annie. Imitate her virtues as 
nearly as you can.』 

Mrs. Markleham fanned herself, and shook her head. 

『Farewell, Mr. Jack,』 said the Doctor, standing up; on which we 
all stood up. 『A prosperous voyage out, a thriving career abroad, 
and a happy return home!』 

We all drank the toast, and all shook hands with Mr. Jack 

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Maldon; after which he hastily took leave of the ladies who were 
there, and hurried to the door, where he was received, as he got 
into the chaise, with a tremendous broadside of cheers discharged 
by our boys, who had assembled on the lawn for the purpose. 
Running in among them to swell the ranks, I was very near the 
chaise when it rolled away; and I had a lively impression made 
upon me, in the midst of the noise and dust, of having seen Mr. 
Jack Maldon rattle past with an agitated face, and something 
cherry-coloured in his hand. 

After another broadside for the Doctor, and another for the 
Doctor』s wife, the boys dispersed, and 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 away, and how he had 
borne it, and how he had felt it, and all the rest of it. In the midst 
of these remarks, Mrs. Markleham cried: 『Where』s Annie?』 

No Annie was there; and when they called to her, no Annie 
replied. But all pressing out of the room, in a crowd, to see what 
was the matter, we found her lying on the hall floor. There was 
great alarm at first, until it was found that she was in a swoon, and 
that the swoon was yielding to the usual means of recovery; when 
the Doctor, who had lifted her head upon his knee, put her curls 
aside with his hand, and said, looking 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 eyes, and saw where she was, and that 
we were all standing about her, she arose with assistance: turning 
her head, as she did so, to lay it on the Doctor』s shoulder—or to 
hide it, I don』t know which. We went into the drawing-room, to 

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leave her with the Doctor and her mother; but she said, it seemed, 
that she was better than she had been since morning, and that she 
would rather be brought among us; so they brought her in, looking 
very white and weak, I thought, and sat her on a sofa. 

『Annie, my dear,』 said her mother, doing 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 everywhere, I am certain—but nobody could find it. 

『Do you recollect where you had it last, Annie?』 said her 
mother. 

I wondered how I could have thought she looked white, or 
anything but burning red, when she answered that she had had it 
safe, a little while ago, she thought, but it was not worth looking 
for. 

Nevertheless, it was looked for again, and still not found. She 
entreated that there might be no more searching; but it was still 
sought for, in a desultory way, until she was quite well, and the 
company took their departure. 

We walked very slowly home, Mr. Wickfield, Agnes, and I— 
Agnes and I admiring the moonlight, and Mr. Wickfield scarcely 
raising his eyes from the ground. When we, at last, reached our 
own door, Agnes discovered that she had left her little reticule 
behind. Delighted to be of any service to her, I ran back to fetch it. 

I went into the supper-room where it had been left, which was 
deserted and dark. But a door of communication between that and 
the Doctor』s study, where there was a light, being open, I passed 
on there, to say what I wanted, and to get a candle. 

The Doctor was sitting in his easy-chair by the fireside, and his 

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young wife was on a stool at his feet. The Doctor, with a 
complacent smile, was reading aloud some manuscript 
explanation or statement of a theory out of that interminable 
Dictionary, and she was looking up at him. But with such a face as 
I never saw. It was so beautiful in its form, it was so ashy pale, it 
was so fixed in its abstraction, it was so full of a wild, sleepwalking, dreamy horror of I don』t know what. The eyes were wide 
open, and her brown hair fell in two rich clusters on her shoulders, 
and on her white dress, disordered by the want of the lost ribbon. 
Distinctly as I recollect her look, I cannot say of what it was 
expressive, I cannot even say of what it is expressive to me now, 
rising again before my older judgement. Penitence, humiliation, 
shame, pride, love, and trustfulness—I see them all; and in them 
all, I see that horror of I don』t know what. 

My entrance, and my saying what I wanted, roused her. It 
disturbed the Doctor too, for when I went back to replace the 
candle I had taken from the table, he was patting her head, in 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 him, in a rapid, urgent manner, to 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. And, as she 
turned again towards him, after glancing at me as I left the room 
and went out at the door, I saw her cross her hands upon his knee, 
and look up at him with the same face, something quieted, as he 
resumed his reading. 

It made a great impression on me, and I remembered it a long 
time afterwards; as I shall have occasion to narrate when the time 
comes. 

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Chapter 17 

SOMEBODY TURNS UP 

It has not occurred to me to mention Peggotty since I ran 
away; but, of course, I wrote her a letter almost as soon as I 
was housed at Dover, and another, and a longer letter, 
containing all particulars fully related, when my aunt took me 
formally under her protection. On my being settled at Doctor 
Strong』s I wrote to her again, detailing my happy condition and 
prospects. I never could have derived anything like the pleasure 
from spending the money Mr. Dick had given me, that I felt in 
sending a gold half-guinea to Peggotty, per post, enclosed in this 
last letter, to discharge the sum I had borrowed of her: in which 
epistle, not before, I mentioned about the young man with the 
donkey-cart. 

To these communications Peggotty replied as promptly, if not 
as concisely, as 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 end, except blots, were 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 paper, and what could I have desired more? 

I made out, without much difficulty, that 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 person, she 

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wrote; but to think that Miss Betsey should seem to be so different 
from what she had been thought to be, was a Moral!—that was her 
word. She was evidently still afraid of Miss Betsey, for she sent her 
grateful duty to her but timidly; and she was evidently afraid of 
me, too, and entertained the probability of my running away again 
soon: if I might judge from the repeated hints she threw out, that 
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, namely, that there had been a sale of the furniture at our 
old home, and that Mr. and Miss Murdstone were gone away, and 
the house was shut up, to be let or sold. God knows I had no part 
in it while they remained there, but it pained me to think of the 
dear old place as altogether abandoned; of the weeds growing tall 
in the garden, and the fallen leaves lying thick and wet upon the 
paths. I imagined how the winds of winter would howl round it, 
how the cold rain would beat upon the window-glass, how the 
moon would make ghosts on the walls of the empty rooms, 
watching their solitude all night. I thought afresh of the grave in 
the churchyard, underneath the tree: and it seemed as if the house 
were dead too, now, and all connected with my father and mother 
were faded away. 

There was no other news in Peggotty』s letters. Mr. Barkis was 
an excellent husband, she said, though still a little near; but we all 
had our faults, and she had plenty (though I am sure I don』t know 
what they were); and he sent his duty, and my little bedroom was 
always ready for me. Mr. Peggotty was well, and Ham was well, 
and Mrs.. Gummidge was but poorly, and little Em』ly wouldn』t 
send her love, but said that Peggotty might send it, if she liked. 

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All this intelligence I dutifully imparted to my aunt, only 
reserving to myself the mention of little Em』ly, to whom I 
instinctively felt that she would not very tenderly incline. While I 
was yet new at Doctor Strong』s, she made several excursions over 
to Canterbury to see me, and always at unseasonable hours: with 
the view, I suppose, of taking me by surprise. But, finding me well 
employed, and bearing a good character, and hearing on all hands 
that I rose fast in the school, she soon discontinued these visits. I 
saw her on a Saturday, every third or fourth week, when I went 
over to Dover for a treat; and I saw Mr. Dick every alternate 
Wednesday, when he arrived by stage-coach at noon, to stay until 
next morning. 

On these occasions Mr. Dick never travelled without a leathern 
writing-desk, containing a supply of stationery and the Memorial; 
in relation to which document he had a notion that time was 
beginning to press now, and that it really must be got out of hand. 

Mr. Dick was very partial to gingerbread. To render his visits 
the more agreeable, my aunt had instructed me to open a credit 
for him at a cake shop, which 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. This, and the reference of all his little 
bills at the county inn where he slept, to my aunt, before they were 
paid, induced me to suspect that he was only allowed to rattle his 
money, and not to spend it. I found on further investigation that 
this was so, or 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 her, and always desired to please 
her, he was thus made chary of launching into expense. On this 
point, as well as on all other possible points, Mr. Dick was 

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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. Dick, with an air of mystery, after 
imparting this confidence to me, one Wednesday; 『who』s the man 
that hides near our house and frightens her?』 

『Frightens my aunt, sir?』 

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 which, 
he drew back, to 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?』 

『Yes, sir.』 

『I don』t know how it can be,』 said Mr. Dick, sorely puzzled and 
shaking his head. 『I don』t think I am as old as that.』 

『Was it in that year that the man appeared, sir?』 I asked. 

『Why, really』 said Mr. Dick, 『I don』t see how it can have been in 
that year, Trotwood. Did you get that date out of history?』 

『Yes, sir.』 

『I suppose history never lies, does it?』 said Mr. Dick, with a 
gleam of hope. 

『Oh dear, no, sir!』 I replied, most decisively. I was ingenuous 
and young, and I thought so. 

『I can』t make it out,』 said Mr. Dick, shaking his head. 『There』s 
something wrong, somewhere. However, it was very soon after the 
mistake was made of putting some of the trouble out of King 

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Charles』s head into my head, that the man first came. I was 
walking out with Miss Trotwood after tea, just at dark, and there 
he was, close to our house.』 

『Walking about?』 I inquired. 

『Walking about?』 repeated Mr. Dick. 『Let me see, I must 
recollect a bit. N-no, no; he was not walking about.』 

I asked, as the shortest way to get at it, what he WAS doing. 

『Well, he wasn』t there at all,』 said Mr. Dick, 『until he came up 
behind her, and whispered. Then she turned round and fainted, 
and I stood still and looked at him, and 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. Dick, nodding his head 
gravely. 『Never came out, till last night! We were walking last 
night, and he came up behind her again, and I knew him again.』 

『And did he frighten my aunt again?』 

『All of a shiver,』 said Mr. Dick, counterfeiting that affection and 
making his teeth chatter. 『Held by the palings. Cried. But, 
Trotwood, come here,』 getting me close to him, that he might 
whisper very softly; 『why did she give him money, boy, in the 
moonlight?』 

『He was a beggar, perhaps.』 

Mr. Dick shook his head, as utterly renouncing the suggestion; 
and having replied a great many times, and with great confidence, 
『No beggar, no beggar, no beggar, sir!』 went on to say, that from 
his window he had afterwards, and late at night, seen my aunt give 
this person money outside the garden rails in the moonlight, who 
then slunk away—into the ground again, as he thought probable— 

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and was seen no more: while my aunt came hurriedly and secretly 
back into the house, and had, even that morning, been quite 
different from her usual self; which preyed on Mr. Dick』s mind. 

I had not the least belief, in the outset of this story, that the 
unknown was anything but a delusion of Mr. Dick』s, and 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 attempt, or threat of an attempt, might have been twice made 
to take poor Mr. Dick himself from under my aunt』s protection, 
and whether my aunt, the strength of whose kind feeling towards 
him I knew from herself, might have been induced to pay a price 
for his peace and quiet. As I was already much attached to Mr. 
Dick, and very solicitous for his welfare, my fears favoured this 
supposition; and for a long time his Wednesday hardly ever came 
round, without my entertaining a misgiving that he would not be 
on the coach-box as usual. There he always appeared, however, 
grey-headed, laughing, and 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-flying, was as deeply interested in 
all our sports as anyone among us. How often have I seen him, 
intent upon a match at marbles or pegtop, looking on with a face 
of unutterable interest, and hardly breathing at the critical times! 
How often, at hare and hounds, have I seen him mounted on a 
little knoll, cheering the whole field on to action, and waving his 
hat above his grey head, oblivious of King Charles the Martyr』s 
head, and all belonging to it! How many a summer hour have I 

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known to be but blissful minutes to him in the cricket-field! How 
many winter days have I seen him, standing blue-nosed, in the 
snow and east wind, looking at the boys going down the long slide, 
and clapping his worsted gloves in rapture! 

He was an universal favourite, and 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 anything, from a 
skewer upwards. He could turn cramp-bones into chessmen; 
fashion Roman chariots from old court cards; make spoked wheels 
out of cotton reels, and bird-cages of old wire. But he was greatest 
of all, perhaps, in 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 
Wednesdays, Doctor Strong himself made some inquiries of me 
about him, and I told him all my aunt had told me; which 
interested the Doctor so much that he requested, on the occasion 
of his next visit, to be presented to him. This ceremony I 
performed; and the Doctor begging Mr. Dick, whensoever he 
should not find me at the coach office, to come on there, and rest 
himself until our morning』s work was over, it soon passed into a 
custom for Mr. Dick to come on as a matter of course, and, if we 
were a little late, as often happened on a Wednesday, to walk 
about the courtyard, waiting for me. Here he made the 
acquaintance of the Doctor』s beautiful young wife (paler than 
formerly, all this time; more rarely seen by me or anyone, I think; 
and not so gay, but not less beautiful), and so became more and 
more familiar by degrees, until, at last, he would come into the 
school and wait. He always sat in a particular corner, on a 

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particular stool, which was called 『Dick』, after him; here he would 
sit, with his grey head bent forward, attentively listening to 
whatever might be going on, with a profound veneration for the 
learning he had never been able to acquire. 

This veneration Mr. Dick extended to the Doctor, whom 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 hour, on that 
side of the courtyard which was known among us as The Doctor』s 
Walk, Mr. 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 Dictionary, in 
these walks, I never knew; perhaps he felt it all the same, at first, 
as reading to himself. However, it passed into a custom too; and 
Mr. Dick, listening with a face shining with pride and pleasure, in 
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 smile, an 
occasional flourish of the manuscript, or grave motion of his head; 
and Mr. Dick listening, enchained by interest, with his poor wits 
calmly wandering God knows where, upon the wings of hard 
words—I think of it as one of the pleasantest things, in a quiet 
way, that I have ever seen. I feel as if they might go walking to and 
fro for ever, and the world might somehow be the better for it—as 
if a thousand things it makes a noise about, were not one half so 
good for it, or me. 

Agnes was one of Mr. Dick』s friends, very soon; and in often 

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coming to the house, he made acquaintance with Uriah. The 
friendship between himself and me increased continually, and it 
was maintained on this odd footing: that, while Mr. Dick came 
professedly to look after me as my guardian, he always consulted 
me in any little matter of doubt that arose, and invariably guided 
himself by my advice; not only having a high respect for my native 
sagacity, but considering that I inherited a good deal from my 
aunt. 

One Thursday morning, when 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: adding, with a writhe, 『But I didn』t 
expect you to keep it, Master Copperfield, we』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 still, 
as I stood looking him in the face in the street. But I felt it quite an 
affront to be supposed proud, and said I only wanted to be asked. 

『Oh, if that』s all, Master Copperfield,』 said Uriah, 『and it really 
isn』t our umbleness that prevents you, will you come this evening? 
But if it is our umbleness, I hope you won』t mind owning to it, 
Master Copperfield; for we are well aware of our condition.』 

I said I would mention it to Mr. Wickfield, and if he approved, 
as I had no doubt he would, I would come with pleasure. So, at six 
o』clock that evening, which was one of the early office evenings, I 
announced myself as ready, to Uriah. 

『Mother will be proud, indeed,』 he said, as we walked away 
together. 『Or she would be proud, if it wasn』t sinful, Master 
Copperfield.』 

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『Yet you didn』t mind supposing I was proud this morning,』 I 
returned. 

『Oh dear, no, Master Copperfield!』 returned Uriah. 『Oh, believe 
me, no! 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 asked, to change 
the subject. 

『Oh, Master Copperfield,』 he said, with an air of self-denial, 『my 
reading is hardly to be called study. I have passed an hour or two 
in the evening, sometimes, with Mr. Tidd.』 

『Rather hard, I 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 on, with the 
two forefingers of his skeleton right hand, he added: 

『There are expressions, you see, Master Copperfield—Latin 
words and terms—in Mr. Tidd, that 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 pleasure, as I learn it.』 

『Oh, thank you, Master Copperfield,』 he answered, shaking his 
head. 『I am sure it』s very kind of you to make the offer, but I am 
much too umble to accept it.』 

『What nonsense, Uriah!』 

『Oh, indeed you must excuse me, Master Copperfield! I am 
greatly obliged, and I should like it of all things, I assure you; but I 
am far too umble. There are people enough to tread upon me in 
my lowly state, without my doing outrage to their feelings by 

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possessing learning. Learning ain』t for me. A person like myself 
had better not aspire. If he is to get on in life, he must get on 
umbly, Master Copperfield!』 

I never saw his mouth so wide, or the creases in his cheeks so 
deep, as when he delivered himself of these sentiments: shaking 
his head all the time, and writhing modestly. 

『I think you are wrong, Uriah,』 I said. 『I dare say there are 
several things that I could teach you, if you would like to learn 
them.』 

『Oh, I don』t doubt that, Master Copperfield,』 he answered; 『not 
in the least. But not being umble yourself, you don』t judge well, 
perhaps, for them that are. I won』t provoke my betters with 
knowledge, thank you. I』m much too umble. Here is my umble 
dwelling, Master Copperfield!』 

We entered a low, old-fashioned room, walked straight into 
from the street, and found there Mrs. Heep, who was the dead 
image of Uriah, only short. She received me with the utmost 
humility, and apologized to me for giving her son a kiss, observing 
that, lowly as they were, they had their natural affections, which 
they hoped would give no offence to anyone. It was a perfectly 
decent room, half parlour and half kitchen, but not at all a snug 
room. The tea-things were set upon the table, and the kettle was 
boiling on the hob. There was a chest of drawers with an escritoire 
top, for 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 bare, pinched, spare 
look; but I do remember that the whole place had. 

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It was perhaps a part of Mrs. Heep』s humility, that she still wore 
weeds. Notwithstanding the lapse of time that had occurred since 
Mr. Heep』s decease, she 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 remembered, my Uriah, I am sure,』 said Mrs. 
Heep, making the tea, 『when Master Copperfield pays us a visit.』 

『I said you』d think so, mother,』 said Uriah. 

『If I could have wished father to remain among us for any 
reason,』 said Mrs. Heep, 『it would have been, that he might have 
known his company this afternoon.』 

I felt embarrassed by these compliments; but I was sensible, 
too, of being entertained as an honoured guest, and I thought Mrs. 
Heep an agreeable woman. 

『My Uriah,』 said Mrs. Heep, 『has looked forward to this, sir, a 
long while. He had his fears that our umbleness stood in the way, 
and I joined in them myself. Umble we are, umble we have been, 
umble we shall ever be,』 said Mrs. Heep. 

『I am sure you have no occasion to be so, ma』am,』 I said, 『unless 
you like.』 

『Thank you, sir,』 retorted Mrs. Heep. 『We know our station and 
are thankful in it.』 

I found that Mrs. Heep gradually got nearer to me, and that 
Uriah gradually got opposite to me, and that they respectfully 
plied me with the choicest of the eatables on the table. There was 
nothing particularly choice there, to be sure; but I took the will for 
the deed, and felt that they were very attentive. Presently they 
began to talk about aunts, and then I told them about mine; and 
about fathers and mothers, and then I told them about mine; and 

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then Mrs. Heep began to talk about fathers-in-law, and then I 
began to tell her about mine—but stopped, because my aunt had 
advised me to observe a silence on that subject. A tender young 
cork, however, would have had no more chance against a pair of 
corkscrews, or a tender young tooth against a pair of dentists, or a 
little shuttlecock against two battledores, than 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 tell, with a 
certainty I blush to think of. the more especially, as in my juvenile 
frankness, I 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 me, as a touch of nature; but the skill with 
which the one followed up whatever the other said, was 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 life, and on my journey, I was dumb), they began about Mr. 
Wickfield and Agnes. Uriah threw the ball to Mrs. Heep, Mrs. 
Heep caught it and threw it back to Uriah, Uriah kept it up a little 
while, then sent it back to Mrs. Heep, and so they went on tossing 
it about until I had no idea who had got it, and was quite 
bewildered. The ball itself was always changing too. Now it was 
Mr. Wickfield, now Agnes, now the excellence of Mr. Wickfield, 
now my admiration of Agnes; now the extent of Mr. Wickfield』s 
business and resources, now our domestic life after dinner; now, 
the wine that Mr. Wickfield took, the reason why he took it, and 
the pity that it was he took so much; now one thing, now another, 
then everything at once; and all the time, without appearing to 

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speak very often, or to do anything but sometimes encourage them 
a little, for fear they should be overcome by their humility and the 
honour of my company, I 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 uncomfortable, and to wish myself well 
out of the visit, when a figure coming down the street passed the 
door—it stood open to air the room, which was warm, the weather 
being close for the time of year—came back again, looked in, and 
walked in, exclaiming loudly, 『Copperfield! Is it possible?』 

It was Mr. Micawber! It was Mr. Micawber, with his eye-glass, 
and his walking-stick, and his shirt-collar, and his genteel air, and 
the condescending roll in his voice, all complete! 

『My dear Copperfield,』 said Mr. Micawber, putting 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 
short, it is a most extraordinary meeting. Walking along the street, 
reflecting upon the probability of something turning up (of which I 
am at present rather sanguine), I find a young but valued friend 
turn up, who is connected with the most eventful period of my life; 
I may say, with the turning-point of my existence. Copperfield, my 
dear fellow, how 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 too, and shook hands 
with him, heartily, inquiring how Mrs. Micawber was. 

『Thank you,』 said Mr. Micawber, waving his hand as of old, and 
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. Micawber, in one of his bursts of 

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confidence, 『they are weaned—and Mrs. Micawber is, at present, 
my travelling companion. She will be rejoiced, Copperfield, to 
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 smiled, settled his chin again, and looked 
about him. 

『I have discovered my friend Copperfield,』 said Mr. Micawber 
genteelly, and without addressing himself particularly to anyone, 
『not in solitude, but partaking of a social meal in company with a 
widow lady, and one who is apparently her offspring—in short,』 
said Mr. Micawber, in another of his bursts of confidence, 『her son. 
I shall esteem it an honour to be presented.』 

I could do no less, under these circumstances, than make Mr. 
Micawber known to Uriah Heep and his mother; which I 
accordingly did. As they abased themselves before him, Mr. 
Micawber took a seat, and 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 umble, sir,』 said Mrs. Heep, 『my son and me, to be 
the friends of Master Copperfield. He has been so good as take his 
tea with us, and we are thankful to him for his company, also to 
you, sir, for your notice.』 

『Ma』am,』 returned Mr. Micawber, with a bow, 『you are very 
obliging: and what are you doing, Copperfield? Still in the wine 
trade?』 I was excessively anxious to get Mr. Micawber away; and 
replied, with my hat in my hand, and a very red face, I have no 

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doubt, that I was a pupil at Doctor Strong』s. 

『A pupil?』 said Mr. Micawber, raising 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 which, without his knowledge of men and things, it 
would require, still it is a rich soil teeming with latent vegetation— 
in short,』 said Mr. Micawber, smiling, in another burst of 
confidence, 『it is an intellect capable of getting up the classics to 
any extent.』 

Uriah, with his long hands slowly twining over one another, 
made a ghastly writhe from the waist upwards, to express his 
concurrence in this estimation of me. 

『Shall we go and see Mrs. Micawber, sir?』 I said, to get Mr. 
Micawber away. 

『If you will do her that favour, Copperfield,』 replied Mr. 
Micawber, rising. 『I have no scruple in saying, in the presence of 
our friends here, that I am a man who has, for 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 me, and I have given in, and said to Mrs. 
Micawber, in the words of Cato, 「Plato, 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 difficulties, chiefly arising 
out of warrants of attorney and promissory notes at two and four 

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months, by 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 manner, making a good deal 
of noise on the pavement with his shoes, and humming a tune as 
we went. 

It was a little inn where Mr. Micawber put up, and he occupied 
a little room in it, partitioned off from the commercial room, and 
strongly flavoured with tobacco-smoke. I think it was over the 
kitchen, because a warm greasy smell appeared to come up 
through the chinks in the floor, and there was a flabby 
perspiration on the walls. I know it was near the bar, on account of 
the smell of spirits and jingling of glasses. Here, recumbent on a 
small sofa, underneath a picture of a race-horse, with her head 
close to the fire, and her feet pushing the mustard off the dumbwaiter at the other end of the room, was Mrs. Micawber, to whom 
Mr. Micawber entered first, saying, 『My dear, allow me to 
introduce to you a pupil of Doctor Strong』s.』 

I noticed, by the by, that although Mr. Micawber was just as 
much confused as ever about my age and standing, he always 
remembered, as a genteel thing, that I was a pupil of Doctor 
Strong』s. 

Mrs. Micawber was amazed, but very glad to see me. I was very 
glad to see her too, and, after 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 is, which I have no doubt he 
will like to know, I will go and look at the paper the while, and see 
whether anything turns up among the advertisements.』 

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『I thought you were at Plymouth, ma』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. But, the truth 
is, talent is not wanted in the Custom House. The local influence of 
my family was quite unavailing to obtain any employment in that 
department, for 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 you, my dear Master 
Copperfield, that when that branch of my family which is settled in 
Plymouth, became aware that Mr. Micawber was accompanied by 
myself, and by little Wilkins and his sister, and by the twins, they 
did not receive him with that ardour which he might have 
expected, being so newly released from captivity. In fact,』 said 
Mrs. Micawber, lowering 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 aspect, Master Copperfield, but our reception 
was, decidedly, cool. There is no doubt about it. In fact, that 
branch of my family which is settled in Plymouth became quite 
personal to Mr. Micawber, before we had been there a week.』 

I said, and thought, that they ought to be ashamed of 
themselves. 

『Still, so it was,』 continued Mrs. Micawber. 『Under such 
circumstances, what could a man of Mr. Micawber』s spirit do? But 

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one obvious course was left. To borrow, of that branch of my 
family, the money to return to London, and to return at any 
sacrifice.』 

『Then you all came back again, ma』am?』 I said. 

『We all came back again,』 replied Mrs. Micawber. 『Since then, I 
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 course, Master Copperfield,』 said Mrs. Micawber, 
argumentatively. 『It is clear that a family of six, not including a 
domestic, cannot live upon air.』 

『Certainly, ma』am,』 said I. 

『The opinion of those other branches of my family,』 pursued 
Mrs. Micawber, 『is, that Mr. Micawber should immediately turn 
his attention to coals.』 

『To what, ma』am?』 

『To coals,』 said Mrs. Micawber. 『To the coal trade. Mr. Micawber 
was induced to think, on inquiry, that there might be an opening 
for a man of his talent in the Medway Coal Trade. Then, as Mr. 
Micawber very properly said, the first step to be taken clearly was, 
to come and see the Medway. Which we came and saw. I say 「we」, 
Master 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 is, that it may require talent, 
but that it certainly requires capital. Talent, Mr. Micawber has; 
capital, Mr. Micawber has not. We saw, I think, the greater part of 
the Medway; and that is my individual conclusion. Being so near 
here, Mr. Micawber was of opinion that it would be rash not to 

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come on, and see the Cathedral. Firstly, on account of its being so 
well worth seeing, and our never having seen it; and secondly, on 
account of the great probability of something turning up in a 
cathedral town. We have been here,』 said Mrs. Micawber, 『three 
days. Nothing has, as yet, turned up; and it may not surprise you, 
my dear Master Copperfield, so much as it would a stranger, to 
know that we are at present waiting for a remittance from London, 
to 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 girl, and from my twins.』 

I felt the utmost sympathy for Mr. and Mrs. Micawber in this 
anxious extremity, and said as much to Mr. Micawber, who now 
returned: adding that I only wished I had money enough, to lend 
them the amount they needed. Mr. Micawber』s answer expressed 
the disturbance of his mind. He said, shaking hands with me, 
『Copperfield, you are a true friend; but when the worst comes to 
the worst, no 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 recovered, almost immediately, as to ring the bell 
for the waiter, and bespeak a hot kidney pudding and a plate of 
shrimps for breakfast in the morning. 

When I took my leave of them, they both pressed me so much to 
come and dine before they went away, that I could not refuse. But, 
as I knew I could not come next day, when I should have a good 
deal to prepare in the evening, Mr. 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 

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propose the day after, if it would suit me better. Accordingly I was 
called out of school next forenoon, and 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 come, he 
pressed my hand and departed. 

As I was looking out of window that same evening, it surprised 
me, and made me rather uneasy, to see Mr. Micawber and Uriah 
Heep walk past, arm in arm: Uriah humbly sensible of the honour 
that was done him, and Mr. Micawber taking a bland delight in 
extending his patronage to Uriah. But I was still more surprised, 
when I went to the little hotel next day at the appointed dinner-
hour, which was four o』clock, to find, from what Mr. Micawber 
said, that he had gone home with Uriah, and had drunk brandy-
and-water at Mrs. Heep』s. 

『And I』ll tell you what, my dear Copperfield,』 said Mr. 
Micawber, 『your friend Heep is a young fellow who might be 
attorney-general. If I had known that young man, at the period 
when my difficulties came to a crisis, all I can say is, that I believe 
my creditors would have been a great deal better managed than 
they were.』 

I hardly understood how this could have been, seeing that Mr. 
Micawber had paid them nothing at all as it was; but I did not like 
to ask. Neither did I like to say, that 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 feelings, or, at all 
events, Mrs. Micawber』s, she being very sensitive; but I was 
uncomfortable about it, too, and often thought about it afterwards. 

We had a beautiful little dinner. Quite an elegant dish of fish; 
the kidney-end of a loin of veal, roasted; fried sausage-meat; a 

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partridge, and a pudding. There was wine, and 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 punch, so that it 
looked as if it had been varnished all over. He got cheerfully 
sentimental about the town, and 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 he, and Mrs. Micawber, and I, took a review of our 
past acquaintance, in the course of which we sold the property all 
over again. Then I proposed Mrs. Micawber: or, at least, said, 
modestly, 『If you』ll allow me, Mrs. Micawber, I shall now have the 
pleasure of drinking your health, ma』am.』 On which Mr. Micawber 
delivered an eulogium on Mrs. Micawber』s character, and said she 
had ever been his guide, philosopher, and friend, and that he 
would recommend me, when I came to a marrying time of life, to 
marry such another woman, if such another woman could be 
found. 

As the punch disappeared, Mr. Micawber became still more 
friendly and convivial. Mrs. Micawber』s spirits becoming elevated, 
too, we sang 『Auld Lang Syne』. When we came to 『Here』s a hand, 
my 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 meant, we were really affected. 

In a word, I never saw anybody so thoroughly jovial as Mr. 
Micawber was, down to the very last moment of the evening, when 
I took a hearty farewell of himself and his amiable wife. 

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Consequently, I was not prepared, at seven o』clock next morning, 
to receive the following communication, dated 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 mirth, I have not informed you, this evening, that 
there is no hope of the remittance! Under these circumstances, 
alike humiliating to endure, humiliating to contemplate, and 
humiliating to relate, I have discharged the pecuniary liability 
contracted at this establishment, by giving a note of hand, made 
payable fourteen days after date, at my residence, Pentonville, 
London. When it becomes due, it will not be taken up. The result 
is destruction. The bolt is impending, and the tree must fall. 

『Let the wretched man who now addresses you, my 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 
use, one gleam of day might, by possibility, penetrate into the 
cheerless dungeon of his remaining existence—though his 
longevity is, at present (to say the least of it), extremely 
problematical. 

『This is the last communication, my dear Copperfield, you will 
ever receive 
『From 
The 
『Beggared Outcast, 
『WILKINS MICAWBER.』 

I was so shocked by the contents of this heart-rending letter, 

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that I ran off directly towards the little hotel with the intention of 
taking it on my way to Doctor Strong』s, and trying to soothe Mr. 
Micawber with a word of comfort. But, half-way there, I met the 
London coach with Mr. and Mrs. Micawber up behind; Mr. 
Micawber, the very picture of tranquil enjoyment, smiling at Mrs. 
Micawber』s conversation, eating walnuts out of a paper bag, with a 
bottle sticking out of his breast pocket. As they did not see me, I 
thought it best, all things considered, not to see them. So, with a 
great weight taken off my mind, I turned into a by-street that was 
the nearest way to school, and felt, upon the whole, relieved that 
they were gone; though I still liked them very much, nevertheless. 

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Chapter 18 

A RETROSPECT 

My school-days! The silent gliding on of my existence— 
the unseen, unfelt progress of my life—from childhood 
up to youth! Let me think, as I look back upon that 
flowing water, now a dry channel overgrown with leaves, whether 
there are any marks along its course, by which I can remember 
how it ran. 

A moment, and I occupy my place in the Cathedral, where we 
all went together, every Sunday morning, assembling first at 
school for that purpose. The earthy smell, the sunless air, the 
sensation of the world being shut out, the resounding of the organ 
through the black and white arched galleries and aisles, are wings 
that take me back, and hold me hovering above those days, in 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 
creature, dwelling afar off, whose 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 
Being, at whose place she thinks I, even I, weak aspirant, may 
arrive in time. He is not my private friend and public patron, as 
Steerforth was, but I hold him in a reverential respect. I chiefly 
wonder what he』ll be, when he leaves Doctor Strong』s, and what 
mankind will do to maintain any place against him. 

But who is this that breaks upon me? This is Miss Shepherd, 

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whom I love. 

Miss Shepherd is a boarder at the Misses Nettingalls』 
establishment. I adore Miss Shepherd. She is a little girl, in a 
spencer, with a round face and curly flaxen hair. The Misses 
Nettingalls』 young ladies come to the Cathedral too. I cannot look 
upon my book, for I must look upon Miss Shepherd. When the 
choristers chaunt, I hear Miss Shepherd. In the service I mentally 
insert Miss Shepherd』s name—I put her in among the Royal 
Family. At home, in my own room, I am sometimes moved to cry 
out, 『Oh, Miss Shepherd!』 in a transport of love. 

For some time, I am doubtful of Miss Shepherd』s feelings, but, 
at length, Fate being propitious, we 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 jacket, and come 
out at my hair. I say nothing to Miss Shepherd, but 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 
present, I wonder? They are not expressive of affection, they are 
difficult to pack into a parcel of any regular shape, they are hard to 
crack, even in room doors, and they are oily when cracked; yet I 
feel that they are appropriate to Miss Shepherd. Soft, seedy 
biscuits, also, I bestow upon Miss Shepherd; and oranges 
innumerable. Once, I kiss Miss Shepherd in the cloak-room. 
Ecstasy! What are my agony and indignation next day, when 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. 

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Whispers reach me of Miss Shepherd having said she wished I 
wouldn』t stare so, and having avowed a preference for Master 
Jones—for Jones! a boy of no merit whatever! The gulf between 
me and Miss Shepherd widens. At last, one day, I meet the Misses 
Nettingalls』 establishment out walking. Miss Shepherd makes a 
face as she goes by, and laughs to her companion. All is over. The 
devotion of a life—it seems a life, it is all the same—is at an end; 
Miss Shepherd comes out of the morning service, and the Royal 
Family know her no more. 

I am higher in the school, and no one breaks my peace. I am not 
at all polite, now, to the Misses Nettingalls』 young ladies, and 
shouldn』t dote on any of them, if they were twice as many and 
twenty times as beautiful. I think the dancing-school a tiresome 
affair, and wonder why the girls can』t dance by themselves and 
leave us alone. I am growing great in Latin verses, and neglect the 
laces of my boots. Doctor Strong refers to me in public as a 
promising young scholar. Mr. Dick is wild with joy, and my aunt 
remits me a guinea by the next post. 

The shade of a young butcher rises, like 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 abroad, 
that the beef suet with which he anoints his hair gives him 
unnatural strength, and that he is a match for a man. He is a 
broad-faced, bull-necked, young butcher, with rough red cheeks, 
an ill-conditioned mind, and an injurious tongue. His main use of 
this tongue, is, to disparage Doctor Strong』s young gentlemen. He 
says, publicly, that if they want anything he』ll give it 』em. He 
names individuals among them (myself included), whom he could 
undertake to settle with one hand, and the other tied behind him. 

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He waylays the smaller boys to punch their unprotected heads, 
and calls challenges after me in the open streets. For these 
sufficient reasons I resolve to fight the butcher. 

It is a summer evening, down in a green hollow, at the corner of 
a wall. I meet the butcher by appointment. I am attended by a 
select body of our boys; the butcher, by two other butchers, a 
young publican, and a sweep. The preliminaries are adjusted, and 
the butcher and myself stand face to face. In a moment the 
butcher lights ten thousand candles out of my left eyebrow. In 
another moment, I don』t know where the wall is, or where I am, or 
where anybody is. I hardly know which is myself and which the 
butcher, we are always in such a tangle and tussle, knocking about 
upon the trodden grass. Sometimes I see the butcher, bloody but 
confident; sometimes I see nothing, and sit gasping on my 
second』s knee; sometimes I go in at the butcher madly, and cut my 
knuckles open against his face, without appearing to discompose 
him at all. At last I awake, very queer about the head, as from a 
giddy sleep, and see the butcher walking off, congratulated by the 
two other butchers and the sweep and publican, and putting on 
his coat as he goes; from which I augur, justly, that the victory is 
his. 

I am taken home in a sad plight, and I have beef-steaks put to 
my eyes, and am rubbed with vinegar and brandy, and find a great 
puffy place bursting out on my upper lip, which swells 
immoderately. For three or four days I remain at home, a very ill-
looking subject, with a green shade over my eyes; and I should be 
very dull, but that Agnes is a sister to me, and condoles with me, 
and reads to me, and makes the time light and happy. Agnes has 
my confidence completely, always; I tell her all about the butcher, 

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and the wrongs he has heaped upon me; she thinks I couldn』t have 
done otherwise than fight the butcher, while she shrinks and 
trembles at my having fought him. 

Time has stolen on unobserved, for Adams is not the head-boy 
in the days that are come now, nor has he been this many and 
many a day. Adams has left the school so long, that when he comes 
back, on a visit to Doctor Strong, there are not many there, besides 
myself, who know him. Adams is going to be called to the bar 
almost directly, and is to be an advocate, and to wear a wig. I am 
surprised to find him a meeker man than I had thought, and 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 blank, through 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-boy, now! 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 myself, when 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 
passed, rather 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 stead, the perfect likeness of the 
picture, a child likeness no more, moves about the house; and 
Agnes—my sweet sister, as I call her in my thoughts, my 
counsellor and friend, the better angel of the lives of all who come 
within her calm, good, self-denying influence—is quite a woman. 

What other changes have come upon me, besides the changes 

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in my growth and looks, and in the knowledge I have garnered all 
this while? I wear a gold watch and chain, a ring upon my little 
finger, and a long-tailed coat; and I use a great deal of bear』s 
grease—which, taken in conjunction with the ring, looks 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 tall, dark, 
black-eyed, fine figure of a woman. The eldest Miss Larkins is not 
a chicken; for the youngest Miss Larkins is not that, and 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 her, when her bonnet (she has a bright taste in 
bonnets) is seen coming down the pavement, accompanied by her 
sister』s bonnet. She laughs and talks, and 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 to, 
knowing 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 
military, ought to have some compensation, if there be evenhanded justice in the world. 

My passion takes away my appetite, and makes me wear my 
newest silk neckerchief continually. I have no relief but in putting 
on my best clothes, and having my boots cleaned over and over 
again. I seem, then, to be worthier of the eldest Miss Larkins. 
Everything that belongs to her, or is connected with her, is 
precious to me. Mr. Larkins (a gruff old gentleman with a double 
chin, and one of his eyes immovable in his head) is fraught with 

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interest to me. When I can』t meet his daughter, I go where I am 
likely to meet him. To say 『How do you do, Mr. Larkins? Are the 
young ladies and all the family quite well?』 seems so pointed, that I 
blush. 

I think continually about my age. Say I am seventeen, and say 
that seventeen is young for the eldest Miss Larkins, what of that? 
Besides, I shall be one-and-twenty in no time almost. I regularly 
take walks outside Mr. Larkins』s house in the evening, though it 
cuts me to the heart to see the officers go in, or to hear them up in 
the drawing-room, where the eldest Miss Larkins plays the harp. I 
even walk, on two or three occasions, in a sickly, spoony 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 now, on Mr. Larkins』s instead); wishing that a 
fire would burst out; that the assembled crowd would stand 
appalled; that I, dashing through them with a ladder, might rear it 
against her window, save her in my arms, go back for something 
she had left behind, and perish in the flames. For I am generally 
disinterested in my love, and think I could be content to make a 
figure before Miss Larkins, and expire. 

Generally, but 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 shoulder, and saying, 『Oh, Mr. 
Copperfield, can I believe my ears!』 I picture Mr. Larkins waiting 
on me next morning, and saying, 『My dear Copperfield, my 
daughter has told me all. Youth is no objection. Here are twenty 

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thousand pounds. Be happy!』 I picture my aunt relenting, and 
blessing us; and Mr. Dick and Doctor Strong being present at the 
marriage ceremony. I am a sensible fellow, I believe—I believe, on 
looking back, I mean—and modest I am sure; but all this goes on 
notwithstanding. I repair to the enchanted house, where there are 
lights, chattering, music, flowers, officers (I am sorry to see), and 
the eldest Miss Larkins, a 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 to, and I am a little uncomfortable; 
for I appear not to belong to anybody, and nobody appears to have 
anything to say to me, except Mr. Larkins, who asks me how my 
schoolfellows are, which he needn』t do, as I have not come there to 
be insulted. 

But after I have stood in the doorway for some time, and 
feasted my eyes upon the goddess of my heart, she approaches 
me—she, the eldest Miss Larkins!—and asks me pleasantly, if I 
dance? 

I stammer, with a bow, 『With you, Miss 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 one, I shall be very glad.』 

The time arrives. 『It is a waltz, I think,』 Miss Larkins doubtfully 
observes, when I present myself. 『Do you waltz? If not, Captain 
Bailey—』 

But I do waltz (pretty well, too, as it happens), and I take Miss 
Larkins out. I take her sternly from the side of Captain Bailey. He 
is wretched, I have no doubt; but he is nothing to me. I have been 

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wretched, too. I waltz with the eldest Miss Larkins! I don』t know 
where, among whom, or how long. I only know that I swim about 
in space, with a blue angel, in a state of blissful delirium, until I 
find myself alone with her in a little room, resting on a sofa. She 
admires a flower (pink camellia japonica, price half-a-crown), in 
my button-hole. I give it her, and say: 

『I ask an inestimable price for it, Miss Larkins.』 

『Indeed! What is that?』 returns Miss Larkins. 

『A flower of yours, that I may treasure it as a miser does gold.』 

『You』re a bold boy,』 says Miss Larkins. 『There.』 

She gives it me, not displeased; and I put it to my lips, and then 
into my breast. Miss Larkins, laughing, draws her hand through 
my arm, and says, 『Now take me back to Captain Bailey.』 

I am lost in the recollection of this delicious interview, and the 
waltz, when she comes to me again, with a plain elderly gentleman 
who has been playing whist all night, upon her arm, and says: 『Oh! 
here is my bold friend! Mr. Chestle wants to know you, Mr. 
Copperfield.』 

I feel at once that he is a friend of the family, and am much 
gratified. 

『I admire your taste, sir,』 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 warmly, and 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 

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waltz in imagination, all night long, with my arm round the blue 
waist of my dear divinity. For some days afterwards, I 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 pledge, the perished flower. 

『Trotwood,』 says Agnes, one day after dinner. 『Who do you think 
is going to be married tomorrow? Someone you admire.』 

『Not you, I suppose, Agnes?』 

『Not me!』 raising her cheerful face from the music she is 
copying. 『Do you hear him, Papa?—The eldest Miss Larkins.』 

『To—to Captain Bailey?』 I have just enough power to ask. 

『No; to no Captain. To Mr. Chestle, a hop-grower.』 

I am terribly dejected for about a week or two. I take off my 
ring, I wear my worst clothes, I use no bear』s grease, and I 
frequently lament over the late Miss Larkins』s faded flower. Being, 
by that time, rather tired of this kind of life, and having received 
new provocation from the butcher, I throw the flower away, go out 
with the butcher, and gloriously defeat him. 

This, and the resumption of my ring, as well as of the bear』s 
grease in moderation, are the last marks I can discern, now, in my 
progress to seventeen. 

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Chapter 19 

I LOOK ABOUT ME, AND MAKE A DISCOVERY 

Iam doubtful whether I was at heart glad or sorry, when my 
school-days drew to an end, and the time came for my leaving 
Doctor Strong』s. I had been very happy there, I had a great 
attachment for the Doctor, and I was eminent and distinguished in 
that little world. For these reasons I was sorry to go; but for other 
reasons, unsubstantial enough, I was glad. Misty ideas of being a 
young man at my own disposal, of the importance attaching to a 
young man at his own disposal, of the wonderful things to be seen 
and done by that magnificent animal, and the wonderful effects he 
could not fail to make upon society, lured me away. So powerful 
were these visionary considerations in my boyish mind, that I 
seem, according to my present way of thinking, to have left school 
without natural regret. The separation has not made the 
impression on me, that other separations have. I try in vain to 
recall how I felt about it, and 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 story, which 
I was just about to begin to read, than 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 liking, 
that I could discover, for anything. If I could have been inspired 

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with a knowledge of the science of navigation, taken the command 
of a fast-sailing expedition, and gone round the world on a 
triumphant voyage of discovery, I think I might have considered 
myself completely suited. But, in the absence of any such 
miraculous provision, my 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 councils, with 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 ungraciously, that he never 
ventured on a second; but ever afterwards confined himself to 
looking watchfully at her for her suggestions, and rattling his 
money. 

『Trot, I tell you what, my dear,』 said my aunt, one morning in 
the Christmas season when I left school: 『as this knotty point is 
still unsettled, and as we must not make a mistake in our decision 
if we can help it, I think we had better take a little breathing-time. 
In the meanwhile, you must try to look at it from a new point of 
view, and not as a schoolboy.』 

『I will, aunt.』 

『It has occurred to me,』 pursued my aunt, 『that a little change, 
and a glimpse of life out of doors, may be useful in helping you to 
know your own mind, and form a cooler judgement. Suppose you 
were to go down into the old part of the country again, for 
instance, and see that—that out-of-the-way woman with the 
savagest of names,』 said my aunt, rubbing her nose, for she could 
never thoroughly forgive Peggotty for being so called. 

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『Of all things in the world, aunt, I should like it best!』 

『Well,』 said my aunt, 『that』s lucky, for 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 do, Trot, will always be natural and 
rational.』 

『I hope so, aunt.』 

『Your sister, Betsey Trotwood,』 said my aunt, 『would have been 
as natural and rational a girl as ever breathed. You』ll be worthy of 
her, won』t you?』 

『I hope I shall be worthy of you, aunt. That will be enough for 
me.』 

『It』s a mercy that poor dear baby of a mother of yours didn』t 
live,』 said my aunt, looking at me approvingly, 『or she』d have been 
so vain of her boy by this time, that her soft little head would have 
been completely turned, if there was anything of it left to turn.』 
(My aunt always excused any weakness of her own in my behalf, 
by transferring it in this way to my poor mother.) 『Bless me, 
Trotwood, how you do remind me of her!』 

『Pleasantly, I hope, aunt?』 said I. 

『He』s as like her, Dick,』 said my aunt, emphatically, 『he』s as like 
her, as she was that afternoon before she began to fret—bless my 
heart, he』s as like her, as he can look at me out of his two eyes!』 

『Is he indeed?』 said Mr. Dick. 

『And he』s like David, too,』 said my aunt, decisively. 

『He is very like David!』 said Mr. Dick. 

『But what I want you to be, Trot,』 resumed my aunt, 『—I don』t 
mean physically, but morally; you are very well physically—is, a 
firm fellow. A fine firm fellow, with a will of your own. With 
resolution,』 said my aunt, shaking her cap at me, and clenching 

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her hand. 『With determination. With character, Trot—with 
strength of character that is not to be influenced, except on good 
reason, by anybody, or by anything. That』s what I want you to be. 
That』s what your father and mother might both have been, 
Heaven knows, and been the better for it.』 

I intimated that I hoped I should be what she described. 

『That you may begin, in a small way, to have a reliance upon 
yourself, and to act for yourself,』 said my aunt, 『I shall send you 
upon your trip, alone. I did think, once, of Mr. Dick』s going with 
you; but, on second thoughts, I shall keep him to take care of me.』 

Mr. Dick, for a moment, looked a little disappointed; until the 
honour and dignity of having to take care of the most wonderful 
woman in the world, restored the sunshine to his face. 

『Besides,』 said my aunt, 『there』s the Memorial—』 

『Oh, certainly,』 said Mr. Dick, in a hurry, 『I intend, Trotwood, to 
get that done immediately—it really must be done immediately! 
And then it will go in, you know—and then—』 said Mr. Dick, after 
checking himself, and pausing a long time, 『there』ll be a pretty 
kettle of fish!』 

In pursuance of my aunt』s kind scheme, I was shortly 
afterwards fitted out with a handsome purse of money, and a 
portmanteau, and tenderly dismissed upon my expedition. At 
parting, my aunt gave me some good advice, and a good many 
kisses; and said that as her object was that I should look about me, 
and should think a little, she would recommend me to stay a few 
days in London, if I liked it, either on my way down into Suffolk, 
or in coming back. In a word, I was at liberty to do what I would, 
for three weeks or a month; and no other conditions were imposed 
upon my freedom than the before-mentioned thinking and looking 

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about me, and a pledge to write three times a week and faithfully 
report myself. 

I went to Canterbury first, that 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 me, and 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 hand, when I miss you. Though that』s not saying 
much; for there』s no head in my right hand, and no heart. 
Everyone who knows you, consults with you, and is guided by you, 
Agnes.』 

『Everyone who knows me, spoils me, I believe,』 she answered, 
smiling. 

『No. it』s because you are like no one else. You are so good, and 
so sweet-tempered. You have such a gentle nature, and you are 
always right.』 

『You talk,』 said Agnes, breaking into a pleasant laugh, as 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 you, just the same, Agnes. I can never grow out of that. 
Whenever I fall into trouble, or fall in love, I shall always tell you, if 
you』ll let me—even when I come to fall in love in earnest.』 

『Why, you have always been in earnest!』 said Agnes, laughing 
again. 

『Oh! that was as a child, or a schoolboy,』 said I, laughing in my 
turn, not without being a little shame-faced. 『Times are altering 
now, and I suppose I shall be in a terrible state of earnestness one 

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day or other. My wonder is, that you are not in earnest yourself, by 

this time, Agnes.』 

Agnes laughed again, and shook her head. 

『Oh, I 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 of, who deserves to love you, Agnes. Someone of a 
nobler character, and more worthy altogether than anyone I have 
ever seen here, must rise up, before I give my consent. In the time 
to come, I shall have a wary eye on all admirers; and shall exact a 
great deal from the successful one, I assure you.』 

We had gone on, so far, in a mixture of confidential jest and 
earnest, that had long grown naturally out of our familiar 
relations, begun as mere children. But Agnes, now suddenly lifting 
up her eyes to mine, and speaking in a different manner, said: 

『Trotwood, there is something that I want to ask you, and that I 
may not have another opportunity of asking for a long time, 
perhaps—something I would ask, I think, of no one else. Have you 
observed any gradual alteration in Papa?』 

I had observed it, and had often wondered whether she had too. 
I must have shown as much, now, in my face; for her eyes were in 
a moment cast down, and I saw tears in them. 

『Tell me what it is,』 she said, in a low voice. 

『I think—shall I be quite plain, Agnes, liking 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 Agnes, shaking her head. 

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『His hand trembles, his speech is not plain, and his eyes look 
wild. I have remarked that at those times, and when he is least like 
himself, he is most certain to be wanted on some business.』 

『By Uriah,』 said Agnes. 

『Yes; and the sense of being unfit for it, or of not having 
understood it, or of having shown his condition in spite of himself, 
seems to make him so uneasy, that next day he is worse, and next 
day worse, and so he becomes jaded and haggard. Do not be 
alarmed by what I say, Agnes, but in this state I saw him, only the 
other evening, lay down his head upon his desk, and shed tears 
like a child.』 

Her hand passed softly before my lips while I was yet speaking, 
and in a moment she had met her father at the door of the room, 
and was hanging on his shoulder. The expression of her face, as 
they both looked towards me, I felt to be very touching. There was 
such deep fondness for him, and 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 him, even in my inmost thoughts, 
and to let no harsh construction find any place against him; she 
was, at once, so proud of him and devoted to him, yet so 
compassionate and sorry, and so reliant upon me to be so, too; that 
nothing she could have said would have expressed more to me, or 
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 Doctor, and his 
young wife, and her mother. The Doctor, who made as much of my 
going away as if I were going to China, received me as an 
honoured guest; and called for a log of wood to be thrown on the 
fire, that he might see the face of his old pupil reddening in the 

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blaze. 

『I shall not see many more new faces in Trotwood』s stead, 
Wickfield,』 said the Doctor, warming his hands; 『I am getting lazy, 
and want ease. I shall relinquish all my young people in another 
six months, and lead a quieter life.』 

『You have said so, any time these ten years, Doctor,』 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 contracts, and to bind us firmly to them, like a couple 
of knaves.』 

『And to take care,』 said Mr. Wickfield, 『that you』re not imposed 
on, eh? As you certainly would be, in 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 Doctor, with a 
smile, 『but my Dictionary; and this other contract-bargain— 
Annie.』 

As Mr. Wickfield glanced towards her, sitting at the tea table by 
Agnes, she seemed to me to avoid his look with such unwonted 
hesitation and timidity, that his attention became fixed upon her, 
as if something were suggested to his thoughts. 

『There is a post come in from India, I observe,』 he said, after a 
short silence. 

『By the by! and letters from Mr. Jack Maldon!』 said the Doctor. 

『Indeed!』 

『Poor dear Jack!』 said Mrs. Markleham, shaking her head. 『That 
trying climate!—like living, they tell me, on a sand-heap, 
underneath a burning-glass! He looked strong, but he wasn』t. My 

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dear Doctor, it was his spirit, not his constitution, that he ventured 
on so boldly. Annie, my dear, I am sure you must perfectly 
recollect that your cousin never was strong—not what can be 
called robust, you know,』 said Mrs. Markleham, with emphasis, and 
looking round upon us generally, 『—from the time when my 
daughter and himself were children together, and walking about, 
arm-in-arm, the livelong day.』 

Annie, thus addressed, made no reply. 

『Do I gather from what you say, ma』am, that Mr. Maldon is ill?』 
asked Mr. Wickfield. 

『Ill!』 replied the Old Soldier. 『My dear sir, he』s all sorts of 
things.』 

『Except well?』 said Mr. Wickfield. 

『Except well, indeed!』 said the Old Soldier. 『He has had dreadful 
strokes of the sun, no doubt, and jungle fevers and agues, and 
every kind of thing you can mention. As to his liver,』 said the Old 
Soldier resignedly, 『that, of course, he gave up altogether, when he 
first went out!』 

『Does he say all this?』 asked Mr. Wickfield. 

『Say? My dear sir,』 returned Mrs. Markleham, shaking 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. 

『Annie, my dear,』 returned her mother, 『once for all, I must 
really beg that you will not interfere with me, unless 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 

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myself to four—eight, sixteen, two-and-thirty, rather than say 
anything calculated to overturn the Doctor』s plans.』 

『Wickfield』s plans,』 said the Doctor, stroking his face, and 
looking penitently at his adviser. 『That is to say, our joint plans for 
him. I said myself, abroad 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 best, my dear Mr. Wickfield; everything was done for the 
kindest and best, we know. But if the dear fellow can』t live there, 
he can』t live there. And if he can』t live there, he』ll die there, sooner 
than he』ll overturn the Doctor』s plans. I know him,』 said the Old 
Soldier, fanning herself, in a sort of calm prophetic agony, 『and I 
know he』ll die there, sooner than he』ll overturn the Doctor』s plans.』 

『Well, well, ma』am,』 said the Doctor cheerfully, 『I am not bigoted 
to my plans, and I can overturn them myself. I can substitute some 
other plans. If Mr. Jack Maldon comes home on account of ill 
health, he must not be allowed to go back, and 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— 
which, I need not say, she had not at all expected or led up to— 
that she could only tell the Doctor it was like himself, and go 
several times through that operation of kissing the sticks of her 
fan, and then tapping his hand with it. After which she gently chid 
her daughter Annie, for not being more demonstrative when such 
kindnesses were showered, for her sake, on her old playfellow; and 
entertained us with some particulars concerning other deserving 
members of her family, whom it was desirable to set on their 

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deserving legs. 

All this time, her daughter Annie never once spoke, or lifted up 
her eyes. All this time, Mr. 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 her, 
and upon his own thoughts in connexion with her, as to be quite 
absorbed. He now asked what Mr. Jack Maldon had actually 
written in reference to himself, and to whom he had written? 

『Why, here,』 said Mrs. Markleham, taking 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 severely, and that I fear I may be 
reduced to the necessity of returning home for a time, as the only 
hope of restoration.」 That』s pretty plain, poor fellow! His only 
hope of restoration! But Annie』s letter is plainer still. Annie, show 
me that letter again.』 

『Not now, mama,』 she pleaded in a low tone. 

『My dear, you absolutely are, on some subjects, one 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 all, I believe, unless I had 
asked for it myself. Do you call that confidence, my love, towards 
Doctor Strong? I am surprised. You ought to know better.』 

The letter was reluctantly produced; and as I handed it to the 
old lady, I saw how the unwilling hand from which I took it, 
trembled. 

『Now let us see,』 said Mrs. Markleham, putting her glass to her 
eye, 『where the passage is. 「The remembrance of old times, my 
dearest Annie」—and so forth—it』s not there. 「The amiable old 

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Proctor」—who』s he? Dear me, Annie, how illegibly your cousin 
Maldon writes, and 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 
hear, Annie,」—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 place, as to have decided to leave it at all hazards; 
on sick leave, if I can; on total resignation, if that is not to be 
obtained. What I have endured, and do endure here, is 
insupportable.」 And but for the promptitude of that best of 
creatures,』 said Mrs. Markleham, telegraphing the Doctor as 
before, and refolding the letter, 『it would be insupportable to me to 
think of.』 

Mr. Wickfield said not one word, though the old lady looked to 
him as if for his commentary on this intelligence; but sat severely 
silent, with his eyes fixed on the ground. Long after the subject 
was dismissed, and other topics occupied us, he remained so; 
seldom raising his eyes, unless to rest them for a moment, with a 
thoughtful frown, upon the Doctor, or his wife, or both. 

The Doctor was very fond of music. Agnes sang with great 
sweetness and expression, and so did Mrs. Strong. They sang 
together, and played duets together, and we had quite a little 
concert. But I remarked two things: first, that though Annie soon 
recovered her composure, and was quite herself, there was a blank 
between her and Mr. Wickfield which separated them wholly from 
each other; secondly, that Mr. Wickfield seemed to dislike the 
intimacy between her and Agnes, and to watch it with uneasiness. 
And now, I must confess, the recollection of what I had seen on 

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that night when Mr. Maldon went away, first began to return upon 
me with a meaning it had never had, and 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 side, and thought how good 
and true Agnes was, suspicions arose within me that it was an ill-
assorted friendship. 

She was so happy in it herself, however, and the other was so 
happy too, that 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 other, and Agnes was going to embrace her 
and kiss her, when Mr. Wickfield stepped between them, as if by 
accident, and drew Agnes quickly away. Then I saw, as though all 
the intervening time had been cancelled, and I were still standing 
in the doorway on the night of the departure, the expression of 
that night in the face of Mrs. Strong, as it confronted his. 

I cannot say what an impression this made upon me, or how 
impossible I found it, when I thought of her afterwards, to 
separate her from this look, and 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 head, was 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 affliction, and a great disgrace that 
had no distinct form in it yet, fell like a stain upon the quiet place 
where I had worked and played as a boy, and did it a cruel wrong. 
I had no pleasure in thinking, any more, of the grave old broad-
leaved aloe-trees, which remained shut up in themselves a 

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hundred years together, and of the trim smooth grass-plot, and the 
stone urns, and the Doctor』s walk, and 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 face, and its 
peace and honour given to the winds. 

But morning brought with it my parting from the old house, 
which Agnes had filled with her influence; and that occupied my 
mind sufficiently. I should be there again soon, no doubt; I might 
sleep again—perhaps often—in my old room; but the days of my 
inhabiting there were gone, and 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 Dover, than I cared to show to 
Uriah Heep; who was so officious to help me, that I uncharitably 
thought him mighty glad that I was going. 

I got away from Agnes and her father, somehow, with an 
indifferent show of being very manly, and took my seat upon the 
box of the London coach. I was so softened and forgiving, going 
through the town, that 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 moreover, his appearance was so little improved 
by the loss of a front tooth which I had knocked out, that I thought 
it best to make no advances. 

The main object on my mind, I remember, when we got fairly 
on the road, was to appear as old as possible to the coachman, and 
to speak extremely gruff. The latter point I achieved at great 
personal inconvenience; but I stuck to it, because I felt it was a 
grown-up sort of thing. 

『You are going through, sir?』 said the coachman. 

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『Yes, William,』 I said, condescendingly (I knew him); 『I am going 
to London. I shall go down into Suffolk afterwards.』 

『Shooting, sir?』 said the coachman. 

He knew as well as I did that it was just as likely, at that time of 
year, I was going down there whaling; but I felt complimented, 
too. 

『I don』t know,』 I said, pretending to be undecided, 『whether I 
shall take a shot or not.』 

『Birds is got wery shy, I』m told,』 said William. 

『So I understand,』 said I. 

『Is Suffolk your county, sir?』 asked William. 

『Yes,』 I said, with some importance. 『Suffolk』s my county.』 

『I』m told the dumplings is uncommon fine down there,』 said 
William. 

I was not aware of it myself, but I felt it necessary to uphold the 
institutions of my county, and to evince a familiarity with them; so 
I shook my head, as much as to say, 『I believe you!』 

『And the Punches,』 said William. 『There』s cattle! A Suffolk 
Punch, when he』s a good un, is worth his weight in gold. Did you 
ever breed any Suffolk Punches yourself, sir?』 

『N-no,』 I said, 『not exactly.』 

『Here』s a gen』lm』n behind me, I』ll pound it,』 said William, 『as has 
bred 』em by wholesale.』 

The gentleman spoken of was a gentleman with a very 
unpromising squint, and a prominent chin, who had a tall white 
hat on with a narrow flat brim, and 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 
shoulder, so near to me, that his breath quite tickled the back of 

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my head; and as I looked at him, he leered at the leaders with the 

eye with which he didn』t squint, in 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 bred, and no sort of dorg. Orses and dorgs is some 
men』s fancy. They』re wittles and drink to me—lodging, wife, and 
children—reading, writing, and 』rithmetic—snuff, tobacker, and 
sleep.』 

『That ain』t a sort of man to see sitting behind a coach-box, is it 
though?』 said William in my ear, as he handled the reins. 

I construed this remark into an indication of a wish that he 
should have my place, so I blushingly offered to resign it. 

『Well, if you don』t mind, sir,』 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 entry, and 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 
here, in the very first stage, I was supplanted by a shabby man 
with a squint, who had no other merit than smelling like a livery-
stables, and being able to walk across me, more like a fly than a 
human being, while the horses were at a canter! 

A distrust of myself, which has often beset me in life on small 
occasions, when it would have been better away, was assuredly 
not stopped in its growth by this little incident outside the 

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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 
journey, but I felt completely extinguished, and dreadfully young. 

It was curious and interesting, nevertheless, to be sitting up 
there behind four horses: well educated, well dressed, and 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 thoughts, in every conspicuous landmark on the road. When I 
looked down at the trampers whom we passed, and saw that well-
remembered style of face turned up, I felt as if the tinker』s 
blackened hand were in the bosom of my shirt again. When we 
clattered through the narrow street of Chatham, and I caught a 
glimpse, in passing, of the lane where the old monster lived who 
had bought my jacket, I stretched my neck eagerly to look for the 
place where I had sat, in the sun and in the shade, waiting for my 
money. When we came, at last, within a stage of London, and 
passed the veritable Salem House where Mr. Creakle had laid 
about him with a heavy hand, I would have given all I had, for 
lawful permission to get down and thrash him, and let all the boys 
out like so many caged sparrows. 

We went to the Golden Cross at Charing Cross, then 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 bedchamber, which smelt like a hackney-coach, and was 
shut up like a family vault. I was still painfully conscious of my 
youth, for nobody stood in any awe of me at all: the chambermaid 
being utterly indifferent to my opinions on any subject, and the 
waiter being familiar with me, and offering advice to my 
inexperience. 

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『Well now,』 said the waiter, in a tone of confidence, 『what would 
you like for dinner? Young gentlemen likes poultry in general: 
have a fowl!』 

I told him, as majestically as I could, that 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 proposal, in default of being able to suggest 
anything else. 

『Do you care for taters?』 said the waiter, with an insinuating 
smile, and his head on one side. 『Young gentlemen generally has 
been overdosed with taters.』 

I commanded him, in my deepest voice, to order a veal cutlet 
and potatoes, and all things fitting; and to inquire at the bar if 
there were any letters for Trotwood Copperfield, Esquire—which I 
knew there were not, and couldn』t be, but 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 engaged, he asked me what I would 
take with it; and on my replying 『Half a pint of sherry,』 thought it a 
favourable opportunity, I am afraid, to extract that measure of 
wine from the stale leavings at the bottoms of several small 
decanters. I am of this opinion, because, while I was reading the 
newspaper, I observed him behind a low wooden partition, which 
was his private apartment, very busy pouring out of a number of 
those vessels into one, like a chemist and druggist making up a 
prescription. When the wine came, too, I thought it flat; and it 
certainly had more English crumbs in it, than were to be expected 

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in a foreign wine in anything like a pure state, but I was bashful 
enough to drink it, and 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 there, from the back of a centre box, I 
saw Julius Caesar and the new Pantomime. To have all those 
noble Romans alive before me, and walking in and out for my 
entertainment, instead of being the stern taskmasters they had 
been at school, was a most novel and delightful effect. But the 
mingled reality and mystery of the whole show, the influence upon 
me of the poetry, the lights, the music, the company, the smooth 
stupendous changes of glittering and brilliant scenery, were so 
dazzling, and opened up such illimitable regions of delight, that 
when I came out into the rainy street, at twelve o』clock at night, I 
felt as if I had come from the clouds, where I had been leading a 
romantic life for ages, to a bawling, splashing, link-lighted, 
umbrella-struggling, hackney-coach-jostling, patten-clinking, 
muddy, miserable world. 

I had emerged by another door, and stood in the street for a 
little while, as if I really were a stranger upon earth: but the 
unceremonious pushing and hustling that I received, soon recalled 
me to myself, and put me in the road back to the hotel; whither I 
went, revolving the glorious vision all the way; and where, after 
some porter and oysters, I sat revolving it still, at past one o』clock, 
with my eyes on the coffee-room fire. 

I was so filled with the play, and with the past—for it was, in a 
manner, like a shining transparency, through which I saw my 
earlier life moving along—that I don』t know when the figure of a 

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handsome well-formed young man dressed with a tasteful easy 
negligence which I have reason to remember very well, became a 
real presence to me. But I recollect being conscious of his 
company without having noticed his coming in—and my still 
sitting, musing, over the coffee-room fire. 

At last I rose to go to bed, much to the relief of the sleepy 
waiter, who had got the fidgets in his legs, and was twisting them, 
and hitting them, and putting them through all kinds of 
contortions in his small pantry. In going towards the door, I 
passed the person who had come in, and saw him plainly. I turned 
directly, came back, and looked again. He did not know me, but I 
knew him in a moment. 

At another time I might have wanted the confidence or the 
decision to speak to him, and might have put it off until next day, 
and might have lost him. But, in the then condition of my mind, 
where the play was still running high, his former protection of me 
appeared so deserving of my gratitude, and my old love for him 
overflowed my breast so freshly and spontaneously, that I went up 
to him at once, with a fast-beating heart, and said: 

『Steerforth! won』t you speak to me?』 

He looked at me—just as he used to look, sometimes—but I saw 
no recognition in his face. 

『You don』t remember me, I am afraid,』 said I. 

『My God!』 he suddenly exclaimed. 『It』s little Copperfield!』 

I grasped him by both hands, and could not let them go. But for 
very shame, and the fear that it might displease him, I could have 
held him round the neck and cried. 

『I never, never, never was so glad! My dear Steerforth, I am so 
overjoyed to see you!』 

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『And I am rejoiced to see you, too!』 he said, shaking my hands 
heartily. 『Why, Copperfield, old boy, don』t be overpowered!』 And 
yet he was glad, too, I thought, to 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 back, and I made a clumsy laugh of it, and we 
sat down together, side by side. 

『Why, how do you come to be here?』 said Steerforth, clapping 
me on the shoulder. 

『I came here by the Canterbury coach, today. I have been 
adopted by an aunt down in that part of the country, and have just 
finished my education there. How do you come to be here, 
Steerforth?』 

『Well, I am what they call an Oxford man,』 he returned; 『that is 
to say, I get bored to death down there, periodically—and I am on 
my way now to my mother』s. You』re a devilish amiable-looking 
fellow, Copperfield. just what you used to be, now 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 hair, and said gaily: 

『Yes, I am on an expedition of duty. My mother lives a little way 
out of town; and the roads being in a beastly condition, and our 
house tedious enough, I remained here tonight instead of going 
on. I have not been in town half-a-dozen hours, and those I have 
been dozing and grumbling away at the play.』 

『I have been at the play, too,』 said I. 『At Covent Garden. What a 
delightful and magnificent entertainment, Steerforth!』 

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Steerforth laughed heartily. 

『My dear young Davy,』 he said, clapping me on the shoulder 
again, 『you are a very Daisy. The daisy of the field, at sunrise, is 
not fresher than you are. I have been at Covent Garden, too, and 
there never was a more miserable business. Holloa, you sir!』 

This was addressed to the waiter, who had been very attentive 
to our recognition, at a distance, and now came forward 
deferentially. 

『Where have you put my friend, Mr. Copperfield?』 said 
Steerforth. 

『Beg your pardon, sir?』 

『Where does he sleep? What』s his number? You know what I 
mean,』 said Steerforth. 

『Well, sir,』 said the waiter, with an apologetic air. 『Mr. 
Copperfield is at present in forty-four, sir.』 

『And what the devil do you mean,』 retorted Steerforth, 『by 
putting Mr. Copperfield into a little loft over a stable?』 

『Why, you see we wasn』t aware, sir,』 returned the waiter, still 
apologetically, 『as Mr. Copperfield was anyways particular. We can 
give Mr. Copperfield seventy-two, sir, if it would be preferred. 
Next you, sir.』 

『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-
four, laughed again, and clapped me on the shoulder again, and 
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 upstairs, where we 
parted with friendly heartiness at his door, and where I found my 

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new room a great improvement on my old one, it not being at all 
musty, and having an immense four-post bedstead in it, which was 
quite a little landed estate. Here, among pillows enough for six, I 
soon fell asleep in a blissful condition, and dreamed of ancient 
Rome, Steerforth, and friendship, until the early morning coaches, 
rumbling out of the archway underneath, made me dream of 
thunder and the gods. 

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Chapter 20 

STEERFORTH』S HOME 

When the chambermaid tapped at my door at eight 
o』clock, and informed me that my shaving-water was 
outside, I felt severely the having no occasion for it, 
and blushed in my bed. The suspicion that she laughed too, when 
she said it, preyed upon my mind all the time I was dressing; and 
gave me, I was conscious, a sneaking and guilty air when I passed 
her on the staircase, as I was going down to breakfast. I was so 
sensitively aware, indeed, of being younger than I could have 
wished, that for some time I could not make up my mind to pass 
her at all, under the ignoble circumstances of the case; but, 
hearing her there with a broom, stood peeping out of window at 
King Charles on horseback, surrounded by a maze of hackney-
coaches, and looking anything but regal in a drizzling rain and a 
dark-brown fog, until 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 apartment, red-curtained and Turkey-
carpeted, where the fire burnt bright, and a fine hot breakfast was 
set forth on a table covered with a clean cloth; and a cheerful 
miniature of the room, the fire, the breakfast, Steerforth, and all, 
was shining in the little round mirror over the sideboard. I was 
rather bashful at first, Steerforth being so self-possessed, and 
elegant, and superior to me in all respects (age included); but his 
easy patronage soon put that to rights, and made me quite at 

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home. I could not enough admire the change he had wrought in 
the Golden Cross; or compare the dull forlorn state I had held 
yesterday, with this morning』s comfort and this morning』s 
entertainment. As to the waiter』s familiarity, it was quenched as if 
it had never been. He attended on us, as I may say, in sackcloth 
and ashes. 

『Now, Copperfield,』 said Steerforth, when we were alone, 『I 
should like to hear what you are doing, and where you are going, 
and all about you. I feel as if you were my property.』 Glowing with 
pleasure to find that he had still this interest in me, I told him how 
my aunt had proposed the little expedition that I had before me, 
and whither it tended. 

『As you are in no hurry, then,』 said Steerforth, 『come home with 
me to Highgate, and stay a day or two. You will be pleased with my 
mother—she is a little vain and prosy about me, but that you can 
forgive her—and she will be pleased with you.』 

『I should like to be as sure of that, as you are kind enough to say 
you are,』 I answered, smiling. 

『Oh!』 said Steerforth, 』everyone who likes me, has 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 to, Copperfield—and then we』ll journey out 
to Highgate by the coach.』 

I could hardly believe but that I was in a dream, and that I 
should wake presently in number forty-four, to 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 

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old schoolfellow, and my acceptance of his invitation, we went out 
in a hackney-chariot, and saw a Panorama and some other sights, 
and took a walk through the Museum, where I could not help 
observing how much Steerforth knew, on an infinite variety of 
subjects, and of how little account he seemed to make his 
knowledge. 

『You』ll take a high degree at college, Steerforth,』 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 Steerforth, laughing. 
『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 Steerforth, laughing still more 
heartily: 『why should I trouble myself, that 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 him, and he』s welcome to it.』 

I was abashed at having made so great a mistake, and was glad 
to change the subject. Fortunately it was not difficult to do, for 
Steerforth could always pass from one subject to another with a 
carelessness and lightness that were his own. 

Lunch succeeded to our sight-seeing, and the short winter day 
wore away so fast, that 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 lady, though not very far advanced in years, with a 

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proud carriage and a handsome face, was 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 mother, and 
she gave me a stately welcome. 

It was a genteel old-fashioned house, very quiet and orderly. 
From the windows of my room I saw all London lying in the 
distance like a great vapour, with here and there some lights 
twinkling through it. I had only time, in dressing, to glance at the 
solid furniture, the framed pieces of work (done, I supposed, by 
Steerforth』s mother when she was a girl), and some pictures in 
crayons of ladies with powdered hair and bodices, coming and 
going on the walls, as the newly-kindled fire crackled and 
sputtered, when I was called to dinner. 

There was a second lady in the dining-room, of a slight short 
figure, dark, and not agreeable to look at, but with some 
appearance of good looks too, who 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 eyes, and 
was thin, and had a scar upon her lip. It was an old scar—I should 
rather call it seam, for it was not discoloured, and had healed 
years ago—which had once cut through her mouth, downward 
towards the chin, but was now barely visible across the table, 
except above and on her upper lip, the shape of which it had 
altered. I concluded in my own mind that she was about thirty 
years of age, and that she wished to be married. She was a little 
dilapidated—like a house—with having been so long to let; yet 
had, as I have said, an appearance of good looks. Her thinness 
seemed to be the effect of some wasting fire within her, which 

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found a vent in her gaunt eyes. 

She was introduced as Miss Dartle, and both Steerforth and his 
mother called her Rosa. I found that she lived there, and had been 
for a long time Mrs. Steerforth』s companion. It appeared to me 
that she never said anything she wanted to say, outright; but 
hinted it, and made a great deal more of it by this practice. For 
example, when Mrs. Steerforth observed, more in jest than 
earnest, that she feared her son led but a wild life at college, Miss 
Dartle put in thus: 

『Oh, really? You know how ignorant I am, and that I only ask 
for information, but 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 profession, if you mean that, 
Rosa,』 Mrs. Steerforth answered with some coldness. 

『Oh! Yes! That』s very true,』 returned Miss Dartle. 『But isn』t it, 
though?—I want to be put right, if I am wrong—isn』t it, really?』 

『Really what?』 said Mrs. Steerforth. 

『Oh! You mean it』s not!』 returned Miss Dartle. 『Well, I』m very 
glad to hear it! Now, I know what to do! That』s the advantage of 
asking. I shall never allow people to talk before me about 
wastefulness and profligacy, and so forth, in connexion with that 
life, any 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 
son, I should have reliance on him.』 

『Should you?』 said Miss Dartle. 『Dear me! Conscientious, is he? 
Really conscientious, now?』 

『Yes, I am convinced of it,』 said Mrs. Steerforth. 

『How very nice!』 exclaimed Miss Dartle. 『What a comfort! Really 

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conscientious? Then he』s not—but of course he can』t be, if he』s 
really conscientious. Well, I shall be quite happy in my opinion of 
him, from this time. You can』t think how it elevates him in my 
opinion, to know for certain that he』s really conscientious!』 

Her own views of every question, and her correction of 
everything that was said to which she was opposed, Miss Dartle 
insinuated in the same way: sometimes, I could not conceal from 
myself, with great power, though in contradiction even of 
Steerforth. An instance happened before dinner was done. Mrs. 
Steerforth speaking to me about my intention of going down into 
Suffolk, I said at hazard how glad I should be, if Steerforth would 
only go there with me; and explaining to him that I was going to 
see my old nurse, and Mr. Peggotty』s family, I 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 adopted, 
though, as a son. He has a very pretty little niece too, whom he 
adopted as a daughter. In short, his house—or rather his boat, for 
he lives in one, on 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. 『Well, I 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 you, Daisy), to see that sort of people 
together, and 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 Dartle, whose sparkling eyes had been watchful 

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of us, now broke in again. 

『Oh, but, really? Do tell me. Are they, though?』 she said. 

『Are they what? And are who what?』 said Steerforth. 

『That sort of people.—Are they really animals and clods, and 
beings of another order? I want to know so much.』 

『Why, there』s a pretty wide separation between them and us,』 
said Steerforth, with indifference. 『They are not to be expected to 
be as sensitive as we are. Their delicacy is not to be shocked, or 
hurt easily. They are wonderfully virtuous, I dare say—some 
people contend for that, at least; and I am sure I don』t want to 
contradict them—but they have not very fine natures, and they 
may be thankful that, like their coarse rough skins, they are not 
easily wounded.』 

『Really!』 said Miss Dartle. 『Well, I don』t know, now, when I have 
been better pleased than to hear that. It』s so consoling! It』s such a 
delight to know that, when they suffer, they don』t feel! Sometimes 
I have been quite uneasy for that sort of people; but now I shall 
just dismiss the idea of them, altogether. Live and learn. I had my 
doubts, I confess, but now they』re cleared up. I didn』t know, and 
now I do know, and that shows the advantage of asking—don』t it?』 

I believed that Steerforth had said what he had, in jest, or to 
draw Miss Dartle out; and I expected him to say as much when she 
was gone, and we two were sitting before the fire. But he merely 
asked me what I thought of her. 

『She is very clever, is she not?』 I asked. 

『Clever! She brings everything to a grindstone,』 said Steerforth, 
and sharpens it, as she has sharpened her own face and figure 
these years past. She has worn herself away by constant 
sharpening. She is all edge.』 

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『What a remarkable scar that is upon her lip!』 I said. 

Steerforth』s face fell, and he paused a moment. 

『Why, the fact is,』 he returned, 『I did that.』 

『By an unfortunate accident!』 

『No. I was a young boy, and she exasperated me, and 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 theme, but that 
was useless now. 

『She has borne the mark ever since, as you see,』 said Steerforth; 
『and she』ll bear it to her grave, if 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 mother, who was then a widow, brought her here to be 
company to her. She has a couple of thousand pounds of her own, 
and saves the interest of it every year, to 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 Steerforth, looking at the fire. 『Some 
brothers are not loved over much; and some love—but help 
yourself, Copperfield! We』ll drink the daisies of the field, in 
compliment to you; and the lilies of the valley that toil not, neither 
do they spin, in compliment to me—the more shame for me!』 A 
moody smile that had overspread his features cleared off as he 
said this merrily, and he was his own frank, winning 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 face, and that, when she 
turned pale, that mark altered first, and became a dull, leadcoloured streak, lengthening out to its full extent, like a mark in 

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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 her, for one moment, in 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 infant, in a locket, 
with 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 her, 
she kept in a cabinet near her own chair by the fire; and she would 
have read me some of them, and I should have been very glad to 
hear them too, if he had not interposed, and coaxed her out of the 
design. 

『It was at Mr. Creakle』s, my son tells me, that you first became 
acquainted,』 said Mrs. Steerforth, as she and I were talking at one 
table, while they played backgammon at another. 『Indeed, I 
recollect his speaking, at that time, of a pupil younger than himself 
who had taken his fancy there; but your name, as you may 
suppose, has not lived in my memory.』 

『He was very generous and noble to me in those days, I 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. Steerforth, 
proudly. 

I subscribed to this with all my heart, God knows. She knew I 
did; for the stateliness of her manner already abated towards me, 
except when she spoke in praise of him, and then her air was 
always lofty. 

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『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 
time, of 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 superiority, and would be content to bow himself 
before it; and we found such a man there.』 

I knew that, knowing the fellow. And yet I did not despise him 
the more for it, but 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 on, there, by 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 place, and he haughtily determined to 
be worthy of his station. It was like himself.』 

I echoed, with all my heart and soul, that it was like himself. 

『So my son took, of his own will, and on no compulsion, to the 
course in which he can always, when it is his pleasure, outstrip 
every competitor,』 she pursued. 『My son informs me, Mr. 
Copperfield, that you were quite devoted to him, and that when 
you met yesterday you made yourself known to him with tears of 
joy. I 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 merit, and I am very 
glad to see you here, and can assure you that he feels an unusual 
friendship for you, and that you may rely on his protection.』 

Miss Dartle played backgammon as eagerly as she did 
everything else. If I had seen her, first, at the board, I should have 
fancied that her figure had got thin, and her eyes had got large, 

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over that pursuit, and no other in the world. But I am very much 
mistaken if she missed a word of this, or lost a look of mine as I 
received it with the utmost pleasure, and honoured by Mrs. 
Steerforth』s confidence, felt older than I had done since I left 
Canterbury. 

When the evening was pretty far spent, and a tray of glasses 
and decanters came in, Steerforth promised, over the fire, that he 
would seriously think of going down into the country with me. 
There was no hurry, he said; a week hence would do; and his 
mother hospitably said the same. While we were talking, he more 
than once called me Daisy; which brought Miss Dartle out again. 

『But really, Mr. 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 
information, and I am glad to know it. He thinks you young and 
innocent; and so you are his friend. Well, that』s quite delightful!』 

She went to bed soon after this, and Mrs. Steerforth retired too. 
Steerforth and I, after 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 
mine, and I went in to look at it. It was a picture of comfort, full of 
easy-chairs, cushions and footstools, worked by his mother』s hand, 
and with no sort of thing omitted that could help to render it 
complete. Finally, her handsome features looked down on her 
darling from a portrait on the wall, as 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 time, 

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and the curtains drawn before the windows and round the bed, 
giving 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 time, when I found a likeness of Miss 
Dartle looking eagerly at me from above the chimney-piece. 

It was a startling likeness, and necessarily had a startling look. 
The painter hadn』t made the scar, but I made it; and there it was, 
coming and going; now confined to the upper lip as I had seen it at 
dinner, and now showing the whole extent of the wound inflicted 
by the hammer, as 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 her, I undressed 
quickly, extinguished my light, and went to bed. But, as I fell 
asleep, I could not forget that she was still there looking, 『Is it 
really, though? I want to know』; and when I awoke in the night, I 
found that I was uneasily asking all sorts of people in my dreams 
whether it really was or not—without knowing what I meant. 

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Chapter 21 

LITTLE EM』LY 

There was a servant in that house, a man who, I 
understood, was usually with Steerforth, and had come 
into his service at the University, who was in appearance 
a pattern of respectability. I believe there never existed in his 
station a more respectable-looking man. He was taciturn, soft-
footed, very quiet in his manner, deferential, observant, always at 
hand when wanted, and never near when not wanted; but his 
great claim to consideration was his respectability. He had not a 
pliant face, he had rather a stiff neck, rather a tight smooth head 
with short hair clinging to it at the sides, a soft way of speaking, 
with a peculiar habit of whispering the letter S so distinctly, that 
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 respectability, and 
walked secure in it. It would have been next to impossible to 
suspect him of anything wrong, he was so thoroughly respectable. 
Nobody could have thought of putting him in a livery, he was so 
highly respectable. To have imposed any derogatory work upon 
him, would have been to inflict a wanton insult on the feelings of a 
most respectable man. And of this, I noticed—the women-servants 
in the household were so intuitively conscious, that they always 
did such work themselves, and generally while he read the paper 
by the pantry fire. 

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Such a self-contained man I never saw. But in that quality, as in 
every other he possessed, he 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 surname, Littimer, by which he was known. 
Peter might have been hanged, or Tom transported; but Littimer 
was perfectly respectable. 

It was occasioned, I suppose, by the reverend nature of 
respectability in the abstract, but I felt particularly young in this 
man』s presence. How old he was himself, I 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 up, to 
bring me that reproachful shaving-water, and to put out my 
clothes. When I undrew the curtains and looked out of bed, I saw 
him, in an equable temperature of respectability, unaffected by the 
east wind of January, and not even breathing frostily, standing my 
boots right and left in the first dancing position, and blowing 
specks of dust off my coat as he laid it down like a baby. 

I gave him good morning, and asked him what o』clock it was. 
He took out of his pocket the most respectable hunting-watch I 
ever saw, and 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 again, and said, if I pleased, it was half past eight. 

『Mr. Steerforth will be glad to hear how you have rested, sir.』 

『Thank you,』 said I, 『very well indeed. Is Mr. Steerforth quite 
well?』 

『Thank you, sir, Mr. Steerforth is tolerably well.』 Another of his 

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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.』 

『Nothing, I thank you.』 

『I thank you, sir, if you please』; and with that, and with a little 
inclination of his head when he passed the bed-side, as an apology 
for correcting me, he went out, shutting 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 yet, invariably, however far I might 
have been lifted out of myself over-night, and advanced towards 
maturer years, by Steerforth』s companionship, or Mrs. 
Steerforth』s confidence, or Miss Dartle』s conversation, in the 
presence of this most respectable man I became, as our smaller 
poets sing, 『a boy again』. 

He got horses for us; and Steerforth, who knew everything, 
gave me lessons in riding. He provided foils for us, and Steerforth 
gave me lessons in fencing—gloves, and I began, of the same 
master, to improve in boxing. It gave me no manner of concern 
that Steerforth should find me a novice in these sciences, but 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 kind, by 
so much as the vibration of one of his respectable eyelashes; yet 
whenever he was by, while we were practising, I felt myself the 
greenest and most inexperienced of mortals. 

I am particular about this man, because he made a particular 

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effect on me at that time, and because of what took place 
thereafter. 

The week passed away in a most delightful manner. It passed 
rapidly, as may be supposed, to one entranced as I was; and yet it 
gave me so many occasions for knowing Steerforth better, and 
admiring him more in a thousand respects, that 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 plaything, was 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 felt, in comparing my merits with his, and measuring 
my claims upon his friendship by any equal standard; above all, it 
was a familiar, unrestrained, affectionate demeanour that he used 
towards no one else. As he had treated me at school differently 
from all the rest, I 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 friend, and my own heart warmed with 
attachment to him. He made up his mind to go with me into the 
country, and the day arrived for our departure. He had been 
doubtful at first whether to take Littimer or not, but decided to 
leave him at home. The respectable creature, satisfied with his lot 
whatever it was, arranged our portmanteaux on the little carriage 
that was to take us into London, as if they were intended to defy 
the shocks of ages, and received my modestly proffered donation 
with perfect tranquillity. 

We bade adieu to Mrs. Steerforth and Miss Dartle, with many 
thanks on my part, and much kindness on the devoted mother』s. 
The last thing I saw was Littimer』s unruffled eye; fraught, as I 

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fancied, with the silent conviction that I was very young indeed. 

What I felt, in returning so auspiciously to the old familiar 
places, I shall not endeavour to describe. We went down by the 
Mail. I was so concerned, I recollect, even for the honour of 
Yarmouth, that when Steerforth said, as we drove through its dark 
streets to the inn, that, as well as he could make out, it was a good, 
queer, out-of-the-way kind of hole, I 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. Steerforth, who was in 
great spirits, had been strolling about the beach before I was up, 
and had made acquaintance, he said, with half the boatmen in the 
place. Moreover, he had seen, in the distance, what he was sure 
must be the identical house of Mr. Peggotty, with smoke coming 
out of the chimney; and had had a great mind, he told me, to walk 
in and swear he was myself grown out of knowledge. 

『When do you propose to introduce me there, Daisy?』 he said. 『I 
am at your disposal. Make your own arrangements.』 

『Why, I was thinking that this evening would be a good time, 
Steerforth, when they are all sitting round the fire. I should like 
you to see it when it』s snug, it』s such a curious place.』 

『So be it!』 returned Steerforth. 『This evening.』 

『I shall not give them any notice that we are here, you know,』 
said I, delighted. 『We must take them by surprise.』 

『Oh, of 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 Rosa, do you?』 he 

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exclaimed with a quick look. 『Confound the girl, I 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 nurse, I suppose?』 

『Why, yes,』 I said, 『I must see Peggotty first of all.』 

『Well,』 replied Steerforth, looking at his watch. 『Suppose I 
deliver you up to be cried over for a couple of hours. Is that long 
enough?』 

I answered, laughing, that I thought we might get through it in 
that time, but that he must come also; for he would find that his 
renown had preceded him, and 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 please, sentimental or comical.』 

I gave him minute directions for finding the residence of Mr. 
Barkis, carrier to Blunderstone and elsewhere; and, on this 
understanding, went out alone. There was a sharp bracing air; the 
ground was dry; the sea was crisp and clear; the sun was diffusing 
abundance of light, if not much warmth; and everything was fresh 
and lively. I was so fresh and lively myself, in the pleasure of being 
there, that I could have stopped the people in the streets and 
shaken hands with them. 

The streets looked small, of course. The streets that we have 
only seen as children always do, I believe, when we go back to 
them. But I had forgotten nothing in them, and found nothing 
changed, until I came to Mr. Omer』s shop. OMER AND JORAM 
was now written up, where OMER used to be; but the inscription, 
DRAPER, TAILOR, HABERDASHER, FUNERAL FURNISHER, 
&c., remained as it was. 

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My footsteps seemed to tend so naturally to the shop door, after 
I had read these words from over the way, that 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 arms, while 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 playing, as if it had never left off. 

『Is Mr. Omer at home?』 said I, entering. 『I should like to see 
him, for a moment, if he is.』 

『Oh yes, sir, he is at home,』 said Minnie; 『the weather don』t suit 
his asthma out of doors. Joe, call your grandfather!』 

The little fellow, who was holding her apron, gave such a lusty 
shout, that the sound of it made him bashful, and he buried his 
face in her skirts, to her great admiration. I heard a heavy puffing 
and blowing coming towards us, and soon Mr. Omer, shorter-
winded than of yore, but not much older-looking, stood before me. 

『Servant, sir,』 said Mr. Omer. 『What can I do for you, sir?』 

『You can shake hands with me, Mr. Omer, if you please,』 said I, 
putting out my own. 『You were very good-natured to me once, 
when I am afraid I didn』t show that I thought so.』 

『Was I though?』 returned the old man. 『I』m glad to hear it, but 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 me, and 
my having breakfast here, and our riding out to Blunderstone 

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together: you, and I, and Mrs. Joram, and Mr. Joram too—who 
wasn』t her husband then?』 

『Why, Lord bless my soul!』 exclaimed Mr. Omer, after being 
thrown by his surprise into a fit of coughing, 『you don』t say so! 
Minnie, my dear, you recollect? Dear me, yes; the party was a lady, 
I think?』 

『My mother,』 I rejoined. 

『To—be—sure,』 said Mr. Omer, touching 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 was, of course. Dear me! And how have you been 
since?』 

Very well, I thanked him, as I hoped he had been too. 

『Oh! nothing to grumble at, you know,』 said Mr. Omer. 『I find 
my breath gets short, but it seldom gets longer as a man gets older. 
I take it as it comes, and make the most of it. That』s the best way, 
ain』t it?』 

Mr. Omer coughed again, in consequence of laughing, and was 
assisted out of his fit by his daughter, who now stood close beside 
us, dancing her smallest child on the counter. 

『Dear me!』 said Mr. Omer. 『Yes, to be sure. Two parties! Why, in 
that very ride, if you』ll believe me, the day was named for my 
Minnie to marry Joram. 「Do name it, sir,」 says Joram. 「Yes, do, 
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 

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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?』 

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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.』 

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『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, 

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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 

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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. 

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『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 

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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 

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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 

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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 last, until we 
started forth, at eight o』clock, for Mr. Peggotty』s boat. Indeed, they 
were more and more brightly exhibited as the hours went on; for I 
thought even then, and I have no doubt now, that the 
consciousness of success in his determination to please, inspired 
him with a new delicacy of perception, and made it, subtle as it 
was, more easy to him. If anyone had told me, then, that all this 
was a brilliant game, played for the excitement of the moment, for 
the employment of high spirits, in the thoughtless love of 
superiority, in a mere wasteful careless course of winning what 
was worthless to him, and next minute thrown away—I say, if 
anyone had told me such a lie that night, I wonder in what manner 
of receiving it my indignation would have found a vent! Probably 
only in an increase, had that been possible, of the romantic 
feelings of fidelity and friendship with which I walked beside him, 
over the dark wintry sands towards the old boat; the wind sighing 
around us even more mournfully, than it had sighed and moaned 
upon the night when I first darkened Mr. Peggotty』s door. 

『This is a wild kind of place, Steerforth, is it not?』 

『Dismal enough in the dark,』 he said: 『and the sea roars as if it 
were hungry for us. Is that the boat, where I see a light yonder?』 

『That』s the boat,』 said I. 

『And it』s the same I saw this morning,』 he returned. 『I came 

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straight to it, by instinct, I suppose.』 

We said no more as we approached the light, but made softly 
for the door. I laid my hand upon the latch; and whispering 
Steerforth to keep close to me, went in. 

A murmur of voices had been audible on the outside, and, at the 
moment of our entrance, a clapping of hands: which latter noise, I 
was surprised to see, proceeded from the generally disconsolate 
Mrs. Gummidge. But Mrs. Gummidge was not the only person 
there who was unusually excited. Mr. Peggotty, his face lighted up 
with uncommon satisfaction, and laughing with all his might, held 
his rough arms wide open, as if for little Em』ly to run into them; 
Ham, with a mixed expression in his face of admiration, 
exultation, and a lumbering sort of bashfulness that sat upon him 
very well, held little Em』ly by the hand, as if he were presenting 
her to Mr. Peggotty; little Em』ly herself, blushing and shy, but 
delighted with Mr. Peggotty』s delight, as her joyous eyes 
expressed, was 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 all, and at the 
moment of our passing from the dark cold night into the warm 
light room, this 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 
in, that one might have doubted whether it had ever been. I was in 
the midst of the astonished family, face to face with Mr. Peggotty, 
and holding out my hand to him, when Ham shouted: 

『Mas』r Davy! It』s Mas』r Davy!』 

In a moment we were all shaking hands with one another, and 

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asking one another how we did, and telling one another how glad 
we were to meet, and all talking at once. Mr. Peggotty was so 
proud and overjoyed to see us, that he did not know what to say or 
do, but kept over and over again shaking hands with me, and then 
with Steerforth, and then with me, and then ruffling his shaggy 
hair all over his head, and laughing with such glee and triumph, 
that it was a treat to see him. 

『Why, that you two gent』lmen—gent』lmen growed—should 
come to this here roof tonight, of all nights in my life,』 said Mr. 
Peggotty, 『is such a thing as never happened afore, I do rightly 
believe! Em』ly, my darling, come here! Come here, my little witch! 
There』s Mas』r Davy』s friend, my dear! There』s the gent』lman as 
you』ve heerd on, Em』ly. He comes to see you, along with Mas』r 
Davy, on the brightest night of your uncle』s life as ever was or will 
be, Gorm the t』other one, and horroar for it!』 

After delivering this speech all in a breath, and with 
extraordinary animation and pleasure, Mr. Peggotty put one of his 
large hands rapturously on each side of his niece』s face, and 
kissing it a dozen times, laid it with a gentle pride and love upon 
his broad chest, and 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 sleep, looked round upon us, quite hot and out of breath 
with his uncommon satisfaction. 

『If you two gent』lmen—gent』lmen growed now, and such 
gent』lmen—』 said Mr. Peggotty. 

『So th』 are, so th』 are!』 cried Ham. 『Well said! So th』 are. Mas』r 
Davy bor』—gent』lmen growed—so th』 are!』 

『If you two gent』lmen, gent』lmen growed,』 said Mr. Peggotty, 
『don』t ex-cuse me for being in a state of mind, when you 

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understand matters, I』ll arks your pardon. Em』ly, my 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 her, Mawther, for 
a minute?』 

Mrs. Gummidge nodded and disappeared. 

『If this ain』t,』 said Mr. Peggotty, sitting down among us by the 
fire, 『the brightest night o』 my life, I』m a shellfish—biled too—and 
more I can』t say. This here little Em』ly, sir,』 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 
interest, and of participation in Mr. Peggotty』s feelings, that the 
latter answered him as if he had spoken. 

『To be sure,』 said Mr. Peggotty. 『That』s her, and so she is. 
Thankee, sir.』 

Ham nodded to me several times, as if he would have said so 
too. 

『This here little Em』ly of ours,』 said Mr. Peggotty, 『has been, in 
our house, what I suppose (I』m a ignorant man, but 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 do, sir,』 returned Mr. Peggotty, 『and thankee again. 
Mas』r Davy, he 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 been, is, and will be, to my loving art. I am rough, sir,』 said 
Mr. Peggotty, 『I am as rough as a Sea Porkypine; but no one, 
unless, mayhap, it is a woman, can know, I think, what our little 
Em』ly is to me. And betwixt ourselves,』 sinking his voice lower yet, 

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『that woman』s name ain』t Missis Gummidge neither, though she 
has a world of merits.』 Mr. Peggotty ruffled his hair again, with 
both hands, as a further preparation for what he was going to say, 
and went on, with a hand upon each of his knees: 

『There was a certain person as had know』d our Em』ly, from the 
time when her father was drownded; as had seen her constant; 
when a babby, when a young gal, when a woman. Not much of a 
person to look at, he 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 whole, a honest sort of a chap, with 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. 
Peggotty, with 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 her, he loses in a great measure 
his relish for his wittles, and in the long-run he makes it clear to 
me wot』s amiss. Now I could wish myself, you see, that our little 
Em』ly was in a fair way of being married. I could wish to see her, 
at all ewents, under articles to a honest man as had a right to 
defend her. I don』t know how long I may live, or how soon I may 
die; but I know that if I was capsized, any night, in a gale of wind 
in Yarmouth Roads here, and was to see the town-lights shining 
for the last time over the rollers as I couldn』t make no head 
against, I could go down quieter for thinking 「There』s a man 
ashore there, iron-true to my little Em』ly, God bless her, and no 
wrong can touch my Em』ly while so be as that man lives.」』 

Mr. Peggotty, in simple earnestness, waved his right arm, as if 

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he were waving it at the town-lights for the last time, and then, 
exchanging a nod with Ham, whose eye he caught, proceeded as 
before. 

『Well! I counsels him to speak to Em』ly. He』s big enough, but 
he』s bashfuller than a little un, and he don』t like. So I speak. 
「What! Him!」 says Em』ly. 「Him that I』ve know』d so intimate so 
many years, and like so much. Oh, Uncle! I never can have him. 
He』s such a good fellow!」 I gives her a kiss, and I says no more to 
her than, 「My 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 
says, 「I 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 me, a-shaking of my hand, 「I 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 face, which had varied in its expression with the 
various stages of his narrative, now resumed all its former 
triumphant delight, as he laid a hand upon my knee and a hand 
upon Steerforth』s (previously wetting them both, for the greater 
emphasis of the action), and divided the following speech between 
us: 

『All of a sudden, one evening—as it might be tonight—comes 
little Em』ly from her work, and him with her! There ain』t so much 
in that, you』ll say. No, because he takes care on her, like a brother, 
arter dark, and indeed afore dark, and at all times. But this 
tarpaulin chap, he takes hold of her hand, and he cries out to me, 
joyful, 「Look here! This is to be my little wife!」 And she says, half 
bold and half shy, and half a laughing and half a crying, 「Yes, 
Uncle! If you please.」—If I please!』 cried Mr. Peggotty, rolling his 

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head in an ecstasy at the idea; 『Lord, as if I should do anythink 
else!—「If you please, I am steadier now, and I have thought better 
of it, and I』ll be as good a little wife as I can to him, for he』s a dear, 
good fellow!」 Then Missis Gummidge, she claps her hands like a 
play, and 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 her, the minute she』s out of her time.』 

Ham staggered, as well he might, under the blow Mr. Peggotty 
dealt him in his unbounded joy, as a mark of confidence and 
friendship; but feeling called upon to say something to us, he said, 
with much faltering and great difficulty: 

『She warn』t no higher than you was, Mas』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 want, and 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 her, though 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 himself, was, in itself, 
affecting. I was affected by the story altogether. How far my 
emotions were influenced by the recollections of my childhood, I 
don』t know. Whether I had come there with any lingering fancy 
that I was still to love little Em』ly, I don』t know. I know that I was 
filled with pleasure by all this; but, at first, with an indescribably 

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sensitive pleasure, that a very little would have changed to pain. 

Therefore, if it had depended upon me to touch the prevailing 
chord among them with any skill, I 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 fellow, and 
deserve to be as happy as you are tonight. My hand upon it! Ham, 
I give you joy, my boy. My hand upon that, too! Daisy, stir the fire, 
and make it a brisk one! and Mr. Peggotty, unless 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 make, for 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 come, and then Ham went. Presently 
they brought her to the fireside, very much confused, and 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 boats, and ships, and tides, and 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 on, until he brought us, by 
degrees, into a charmed circle, and we were all talking away 
without any reserve. 

Em』ly, indeed, said little all the evening; but she looked, and 
listened, and her face got animated, and 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 

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Em』ly』s eyes were fastened on him all the time, as if she saw it too. 
He told us a merry adventure of his own, as a relief to that, with 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 
sounds, and we all laughed (Steerforth too), in irresistible 
sympathy with what was so pleasant and light-hearted. He got Mr. 
Peggotty to sing, or rather to roar, 『When the stormy winds do 
blow, do blow, do blow』; and he sang a sailor』s song himself, so 
pathetically and beautifully, that I could have almost fancied that 
the real wind creeping sorrowfully round the house, and 
murmuring low through our unbroken silence, was there to listen. 

As to Mrs. Gummidge, he 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 miserable, that she said next day she thought she 
must have been bewitched. 

But he set up no monopoly of the general attention, or the 
conversation. When little Em』ly grew more courageous, and talked 
(but still bashfully) across the fire to me, of our old wanderings 
upon the beach, to 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 reddened, casting these looks back on the 
pleasant old times, so unreal to look at now; he was silent and 
attentive, and observed us thoughtfully. She sat, at this time, and 
all the evening, on the old locker in her old little corner by the 
fire—Ham beside her, where I used to sit. I could not satisfy 
myself whether it was in her own little tormenting way, or in a 
maidenly reserve before us, that she kept quite close to the wall, 
and away from him; but I observed that she did so, all the evening. 

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As I remember, it was almost midnight when we took our leave. 
We had had some biscuit and dried fish for supper, and Steerforth 
had produced from his pocket a full flask of Hollands, which we 
men (I may say we men, now, without 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 road, I saw the sweet blue 
eyes of little Em』ly peeping after us, from behind Ham, and heard 
her soft voice calling to us to be careful how we went. 

『A most engaging little Beauty!』 said Steerforth, taking my arm. 
『Well! It』s a quaint place, and they are quaint company, and it』s 
quite a new sensation to mix with them.』 

『How fortunate we are, too,』 I returned, 『to have arrived to 
witness their happiness in that intended marriage! I never saw 
people so happy. How delightful to see it, and to be made the 
sharers in their honest joy, as we have been!』 

『That』s rather a chuckle-headed fellow for the girl; isn』t he?』 
said Steerforth. 

He had been so hearty with him, and with them all, that I felt a 
shock in this unexpected and cold reply. But turning quickly upon 
him, and seeing a laugh in his eyes, I answered, much relieved: 

『Ah, Steerforth! It』s well for you to joke about the poor! You 
may skirmish with Miss Dartle, or try to hide your sympathies in 
jest from me, but I know better. When I see how perfectly you 
understand them, how exquisitely you can enter into happiness 
like this plain fisherman』s, or humour a love like my old nurse』s, I 
know that there is not a joy or sorrow, not an emotion, of such 
people, that can be indifferent to you. And I admire and love you 
for it, Steerforth, twenty times the more!』 

He stopped, and, looking in my face, said, 『Daisy, I believe you 

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are in earnest, and are good. I wish we all were!』 Next moment he 
was gaily singing Mr. Peggotty』s song, as we walked at a round 
pace back to Yarmouth. 

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Chapter 22 

SOME OLD SCENES, AND SOME NEW PEOPLE 

Steerforth and I stayed for more than a fortnight in that part 
of the country. We were very much together, I need not 
say; but occasionally we were asunder for some hours at a 
time. He was a good sailor, and I was but an indifferent one; and 
when he went out boating with Mr. Peggotty, which was a 
favourite amusement of his, I generally remained ashore. My 
occupation of Peggotty』s spare-room put a constraint upon me, 
from which he was free: for, knowing how assiduously she 
attended on Mr. Barkis all day, I did not like to remain out late at 
night; whereas Steerforth, lying at the Inn, had nothing to consult 
but his own humour. Thus it came about, that I heard of his 
making little treats for the fishermen at Mr. Peggotty』s house of 
call, 『The Willing Mind』, after I was in bed, and of his being afloat, 
wrapped in fishermen』s clothes, whole moonlight nights, and 
coming back when the morning tide was at flood. By this time, 
however, I knew that his restless nature and bold spirits delighted 
to find a vent in rough toil and hard weather, as 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 apart, was, that I had 
naturally an interest in going over to Blunderstone, and revisiting 
the old familiar scenes of my childhood; while Steerforth, after 
being there once, had naturally no great interest in going there 
again. Hence, on three or four days that I can at once recall, we 

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went our several ways after an early breakfast, and met again at a 
late dinner. I had no idea how he employed his time in the 
interval, beyond a general knowledge that he was very popular in 
the place, and had twenty means of actively diverting himself 
where another man might not have found one. 

For my own part, my occupation in my solitary pilgrimages was 
to recall every yard of the old road as I went along it, and to haunt 
the old spots, of which I never tired. I haunted them, as my 
memory had often done, and lingered among them as my younger 
thoughts had lingered when I was far away. The grave beneath the 
tree, where both my parents lay—on which I had looked out, when 
it was my father』s only, with such curious feelings of compassion, 
and by which I had stood, so desolate, when it was opened to 
receive my pretty mother and her baby—the grave which 
Peggotty』s own faithful care had ever since kept neat, and made a 
garden of, I walked near, by the hour. It lay a little off the 
churchyard path, in a quiet corner, not so far removed but I could 
read the names upon the stone as I walked to and fro, startled by 
the sound of the church-bell when it struck the hour, for it was like 
a departed voice to me. My reflections at these times were always 
associated with the figure I was to make in life, and the 
distinguished things I was to do. My echoing footsteps went to no 
other tune, but 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 nests, so 
long deserted by the rooks, were 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 gentleman, and the people 

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who took care of him. He was always sitting at my little window, 
looking out into the churchyard; and I wondered whether his 
rambling thoughts ever went upon any of the fancies that used to 
occupy mine, on the rosy mornings when I peeped out of that 
same little window in my night-clothes, and saw the sheep quietly 
feeding in the light of the rising sun. 

Our old neighbours, Mr. and Mrs. Grayper, were gone to South 
America, and the rain had made its way through the roof of their 
empty house, and stained the outer walls. Mr. Chillip was married 
again to a tall, raw-boned, high-nosed wife; and they had a weazen 
little baby, with a heavy head that it couldn』t hold up, and two 
weak staring eyes, with 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 place, until the reddening winter 
sun admonished me that it was time to start on my returning walk. 
But, when the place was left behind, and especially when 
Steerforth and I were happily seated over our dinner by a blazing 
fire, it was delicious to think of having been there. So it was, 
though in a softened degree, when I went to my neat room at 
night; and, turning over the leaves of the crocodile-book (which 
was always there, upon a little table), remembered with a grateful 
heart how blest I was in having such a friend as Steerforth, such a 
friend as Peggotty, and such a substitute for what I had lost as my 
excellent and generous aunt. 

My nearest way to Yarmouth, in coming back from these long 
walks, was by a ferry. It landed me on the flat between the town 
and the sea, which I could make straight across, and so save 
myself a considerable circuit by the high road. Mr. Peggotty』s 

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house being on that waste-place, and not a hundred yards out of 
my track, I always looked in as I went by. Steerforth was pretty 
sure to be there expecting me, and we went on together through 
the frosty air and gathering fog towards the twinkling lights of the 
town. 

One dark evening, when I was later than usual—for I had, that 
day, been making my parting visit to Blunderstone, as 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. 
This, indeed, he might easily have been if he had been less 
absorbed, for footsteps fell noiselessly on the sandy ground 
outside; but even my entrance failed to rouse him. I was standing 
close to him, looking at him; and still, with a heavy brow, he was 
lost in his meditations. 

He gave such a start when I put my hand upon his shoulder, 
that he made me start too. 

『You come upon me,』 he said, almost angrily, 『like a reproachful 
ghost!』 

『I was obliged to announce myself, somehow,』 I replied. 『Have I 
called you down from the stars?』 

『No,』 he answered. 『No.』 

『Up from anywhere, then?』 said I, taking my seat near him. 

『I was looking at the pictures in the fire,』 he returned. 

『But you are spoiling them for me,』 said I, as he stirred it 
quickly with a piece of burning wood, striking out of it a train of 
red-hot sparks that went careering up the little chimney, and 
roaring out into the air. 

『You would not have seen them,』 he returned. 『I detest this 

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mongrel time, neither 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 Steerforth, glancing round 
the room, 『thinking that all the people we found so glad on the 
night of our coming down, might—to judge from the present 
wasted air of the place—be dispersed, or dead, or come to I don』t 
know what harm. David, I wish to God I had had a judicious father 
these last twenty years!』 

『My dear Steerforth, what 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 Peggotty, or his lout of a 
nephew,』 he said, getting up and leaning moodily against the 
chimney-piece, with his face towards the fire, 『than to be myself, 
twenty times richer and twenty times wiser, and be the torment to 
myself that I have been, in this Devil』s bark of a boat, within the 
last half-hour!』 

I was so confounded by the alteration in him, that at first I 
could only observe him in silence, as he stood leaning his head 
upon his hand, and looking gloomily down at the fire. At length I 
begged him, with all the earnestness I felt, to tell me what had 
occurred to cross him so unusually, and to let me sympathize with 
him, if I could not hope to advise him. Before I had well 
concluded, he began to laugh—fretfully at first, but soon with 
returning gaiety. 

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『Tut, it』s nothing, Daisy! nothing!』 he replied. 『I told you at the 
inn in London, I am heavy company for myself, sometimes. I have 
been a nightmare to myself, just now—must have had one, I think. 
At odd dull times, nursery 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 dogs, I suppose. What old 
women call the horrors, have been creeping over me from head to 
foot. I have been afraid of myself.』 

『You are afraid of nothing else, I think,』 said I. 

『Perhaps not, and yet may have enough to be afraid of too,』 he 
answered. 『Well! So it goes by! I am not about to be hipped again, 
David; but I tell you, my good fellow, once more, that 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 expression, but I never saw it 
express such a dark kind of earnestness as when he said these 
words, with his glance bent on the fire. 

『So much for that!』 he said, making as if he tossed something 
light into the air, with his hand. 

「『Why, being gone, I 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.』 

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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 

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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. 

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『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 me, I 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 me, but I 
said little, and he resumed his usual smile, and seemed relieved. 

『But see here,』 he said, looking before us, 『where the original 
little Em』ly comes! And that fellow with her, eh? Upon my soul, 
he』s a true knight. He never leaves her!』 

Ham was a boat-builder in these days, having improved a 
natural ingenuity in that handicraft, until he had become a skilled 

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workman. He was in his working-dress, and looked rugged 
enough, but manly withal, and a very fit protector for the 
blooming little creature at his side. Indeed, there was a frankness 
in his face, an honesty, and an undisguised show of his pride in 
her, and his love for her, which were, to me, the best of good looks. 
I thought, as they came towards us, that they were well matched 
even in that particular. 

She withdrew her hand timidly from his arm as we stopped to 
speak to them, and blushed as she gave it to Steerforth and to me. 
When they passed on, after we had exchanged a few words, she 
did not like to replace that hand, but, still appearing timid and 
constrained, walked by herself. I thought all this very pretty and 
engaging, and Steerforth seemed to think so too, as 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 observed, but whose face I 
saw as she went by, and thought I had a faint remembrance of. 
She was lightly dressed; looked bold, and haggard, and flaunting, 
and poor; but seemed, for the time, to have given all that to the 
wind which was blowing, and to have nothing in her mind but 
going after them. As the dark distant level, absorbing their figures 
into itself, left but itself visible between us and the sea and clouds, 
her figure disappeared in like manner, still 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 them, I think,』 said I. 

『A beggar would be no novelty,』 said Steerforth; 『but it is a 

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strange thing that the beggar should take that shape tonight.』 

『Why?』 I asked. 

『For no better reason, truly, than because I was thinking,』 he 
said, after a pause, 『of something like it, when it came by. Where 
the Devil did it come from, I wonder!』 

『From the shadow of this wall, I think,』 said I, as we emerged 
upon a road on which a wall abutted. 

『It』s gone!』 he returned, looking 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 off, and yet again. And he wondered about it, in 
some broken expressions, several times, in the short remainder of 
our walk; and only seemed to forget it when the light of fire and 
candle shone upon us, seated warm and merry, at table. 

Littimer was there, and had his usual effect upon me. When I 
said to him that I hoped Mrs. Steerforth and Miss Dartle were 
well, he answered respectfully (and of course respectably), that 
they were tolerably well, he thanked me, and had sent their 
compliments. This was all, and yet he seemed to me to say as 
plainly as a man could say: 『You are very young, sir; you are 
exceedingly young.』 

We had almost finished dinner, when taking a step or two 
towards the table, from the corner where he kept watch upon us, 
or rather upon me, as I felt, he said to his master: 

『I beg your pardon, sir. Miss Mowcher is down here.』 

『Who?』 cried Steerforth, much astonished. 

『Miss Mowcher, sir.』 

『Why, what on earth does she do here?』 said Steerforth. 

『It appears to be her native part of the country, sir. She informs 

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me that she makes one of her professional visits here, every year, 
sir. I met her in the street this afternoon, and she wished to know 
if she might have the honour of waiting on you after dinner, sir.』 

『Do you know the Giantess in question, Daisy?』 inquired 
Steerforth. 

I was obliged to confess—I felt ashamed, even 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 comes, show her 
in.』 

I felt some curiosity and excitement about this lady, especially 
as Steerforth burst into a fit of laughing when I referred to her, 
and positively refused to answer any question of which I made her 
the subject. I remained, therefore, in a state of considerable 
expectation until the cloth had been removed some half an hour, 
and we were sitting over our decanter of wine before the fire, 
when the door opened, and Littimer, with his habitual serenity 
quite undisturbed, announced: 

『Miss Mowcher!』 

I looked at the doorway and saw nothing. I was still looking at 
the doorway, thinking that Miss Mowcher was a long while 
making her appearance, when, to my infinite astonishment, there 
came waddling round a sofa which stood between me and it, a 
pursy dwarf, of about forty or forty-five, with a very large head and 
face, a pair of roguish grey eyes, and such extremely little arms, 
that, to enable herself to lay a finger archly against her snub nose, 
as she ogled Steerforth, she was obliged to meet the finger halfway, and lay her nose against it. Her chin, which was what is 

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called a double chin, was so fat that it entirely swallowed up the 
strings of her bonnet, bow and all. Throat she had none; waist she 
had none; legs she had none, worth mentioning; for though she 
was more than full-sized down to where her waist would have 
been, if she had had any, and though she terminated, as human 
beings generally do, in a pair of feet, she was so short that she 
stood at a common-sized chair as at a table, resting a bag she 
carried on the seat. This lady—dressed in an off-hand, easy style; 
bringing her nose and her forefinger together, with the difficulty I 
have described; standing with her head necessarily on one side, 
and, with one of her sharp eyes shut up, making an uncommonly 
knowing face—after ogling Steerforth for a few moments, broke 
into a torrent of words. 

『What! My flower!』 she pleasantly began, shaking her large head 
at him. 『You』re there, are you! Oh, you naughty boy, fie for shame, 
what do you do so far away from home? Up to mischief, I』ll be 
bound. Oh, you』re a downy fellow, Steerforth, so you are, and I』m 
another, ain』t I? Ha, ha, ha! You』d have betted a hundred pound to 
five, now, that you wouldn』t have seen me here, wouldn』t you? 
Bless you, man alive, I』m everywhere. I』m here and there, and 
where not, like 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 mother, ain』t you, my dear 
boy, over one of my shoulders, and I don』t say which!』 

Miss Mowcher untied her bonnet, at this passage of her 
discourse, threw back the strings, and sat down, panting, on 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 on, clapping a 

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hand on each of her little knees, and glancing shrewdly at me, 『I』m 
of too full a habit, that』s the fact, Steerforth. After a flight of stairs, 
it gives me as much trouble to draw every breath I want, as if it 
was a bucket of water. If you saw me looking out of an upper 
window, you』d think I was a fine woman, wouldn』t you?』 

『I should think that, wherever I saw you,』 replied Steerforth. 

『Go along, you dog, do!』 cried the little creature, making 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 too, for he』s had it 
these ten years—and he went on at that rate in the complimentary 
line, that I began to think I should be obliged to ring the bell. Ha! 
ha! ha! He』s a pleasant wretch, but he wants principle.』 

『What were you doing for Lady Mithers?』 asked Steerforth. 

『That』s tellings, my blessed infant,』 she retorted, tapping her 
nose again, screwing up her face, and twinkling her eyes like an 
imp of supernatural intelligence. 『Never you mind! You』d like to 
know whether I stop her hair from falling off, or dye it, or touch up 
her complexion, or improve her eyebrows, wouldn』t you? And so 
you shall, my darling—when I tell you! Do you know what my 
great grandfather』s name was?』 

『No,』 said Steerforth. 

『It was Walker, my sweet pet,』 replied Miss Mowcher, 『and he 
came of a long line of Walkers, that 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 

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too, when listening to what was said to her, or when waiting for an 
answer to what she had said herself, of pausing with her head 
cunningly on one side, and one eye turned up like a magpie』s. 
Altogether I was lost in amazement, and sat staring at her, quite 
oblivious, I am afraid, of the laws of politeness. 

She had by this time drawn the chair to her side, and was busily 
engaged in producing from the bag (plunging in her short arm to 
the shoulder, at every dive) a number of small bottles, sponges, 
combs, brushes, bits of flannel, little pairs of curling-irons, and 
other instruments, which she tumbled in a heap upon the chair. 
From this employment she suddenly desisted, and said to 
Steerforth, much to my confusion: 

『Who』s your friend?』 

『Mr. Copperfield,』 said Steerforth; 『he wants to know you.』 

『Well, then, he shall! I thought he looked as if he did!』 returned 
Miss Mowcher, waddling up to me, bag in hand, and 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 acquaintance, Mr. Copperfield, I』m sure.』 

I said that I congratulated myself on having the honour to make 
hers, and that the happiness was mutual. 

『Oh, my goodness, how 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, though, ain』t it!』 

This was addressed confidentially to both of us, as the morsel of 
a hand came away from the face, and buried itself, arm and all, in 
the bag again. 

『What do you mean, Miss Mowcher?』 said Steerforth. 

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『Ha! ha! ha! What a refreshing set of humbugs we are, to be 
sure, ain』t we, my sweet child?』 replied that morsel of a woman, 
feeling 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-turvy, I call him, for his 
name』s got all the letters in it, higgledy-piggledy.』 

『The Russian Prince is a client of yours, is he?』 said Steerforth. 

『I believe you, my pet,』 replied Miss Mowcher. 『I keep his nails 
in order for him. Twice a week! Fingers and toes.』 

『He pays well, I hope?』 said Steerforth. 

『Pays, as he speaks, my dear child—through the nose,』 replied 
Miss Mowcher. 『None of your close shavers the Prince ain』t. You』d 
say so, if you saw his moustachios. Red by nature, black by art.』 

『By your art, of 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 Russia, but 
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 humbug, just now?』 inquired 
Steerforth. 

『Oh, you』re a broth of a boy, ain』t you?』 returned Miss Mowcher, 
shaking her head violently. 『I said, what a set of humbugs we were 
in general, and 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 sort, than all my talents put together. I always carry 
』em about. They』re the best introduction. If Miss Mowcher cuts the 
Prince』s nails, she must be all right. I give 』em away to the young 
ladies. They put 』em in albums, I believe. Ha! ha! ha! Upon my life, 
「the whole social system」 (as the men call it when they make 

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speeches in Parliament) is a system of Prince』s nails!』 said this 
least of women, trying to fold her short arms, and nodding her 
large head. 

Steerforth laughed heartily, and 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 eye, and to wink 
with the other. 

『Well, well!』 she said, smiting her small knees, and rising, 『this is 
not business. Come, Steerforth, let』s explore the polar regions, and 
have it over.』 

She then selected two or three of the little instruments, and a 
little bottle, and asked (to my surprise) if the table would bear. On 
Steerforth』s replying in the affirmative, she pushed a chair against 
it, and begging the assistance of my hand, mounted up, pretty 
nimbly, to the top, as if it were a stage. 

『If either of you saw my ankles,』 she said, when she was safely 
elevated, 『say so, and 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, 
ducky, ducky, ducky, come to Mrs. Bond and be killed.』 

This was an invocation to Steerforth to place himself under her 
hands; who, accordingly, sat himself down, with his back to the 
table, and his laughing face towards me, and submitted his head to 
her inspection, evidently for no other purpose than our 
entertainment. To see Miss Mowcher standing over him, looking 
at his rich profusion of brown hair through a large round 
magnifying glass, which she took out of her pocket, was a most 
amazing spectacle. 

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『You』re a pretty fellow!』 said Miss Mowcher, after a brief 
inspection. 『You』d be as bald as a friar on the top of your head in 
twelve months, but for me. just half a minute, my young friend, 
and we』ll give you a polishing that shall keep your curls on for the 
next ten years!』 

With this, she tilted some of the contents of the little bottle on to 
one of the little bits of flannel, and, again imparting some of the 
virtues of that preparation to one of the little brushes, began 
rubbing and scraping away with both on the crown of Steerforth』s 
head in the busiest manner I ever witnessed, talking all the time. 

『There』s Charley Pyegrave, the 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 legs, if 
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. However, mad or sane, he tried,』 returned Miss 
Mowcher. 『What does he do, but, lo and behold you, he goes into a 
perfumer』s shop, and 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 Mowcher, stopping to slap his cheek. 
『To doctor his own moustachios with, you know. There was a 
woman in the shop—elderly female—quite a Griffin—who had 

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never even heard of it by name. 「Begging pardon, sir,」 said the 
Griffin to Charley, 「it』s not—not—not rouge, is it?」 「Rouge,」 said 
Charley to the Griffin. 「What the unmentionable to ears polite, do 
you think I want with rouge?」 「No offence, sir,」 said the Griffin; 
「we have it asked for by so many names, I thought it might be.」 
Now that, my child,』 continued Miss Mowcher, rubbing 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 word, my dear 
boy—never mind!』 

『In what way do you mean? In the rouge way?』 said Steerforth. 

『Put this and that together, my tender pupil,』 returned the wary 
Mowcher, touching her nose, 『work it by the rule of Secrets in all 
trades, and the product will give you the desired result. I say I do a 
little in that way myself. One Dowager, she calls it lip-salve. 
Another, she calls it gloves. Another, she calls it tucker-edging. 
Another, she calls it a fan. I call it whatever they call it. I supply it 
for 』em, but we keep up the trick so, to one another, and make 
believe with such a face, that they』d as soon think of laying it on, 
before a whole drawing-room, as before me. And when I wait upon 
』em, they』ll say to me sometimes—with it on—thick, and no 
mistake—「How am I looking, Mowcher? Am I pale?」 Ha! ha! ha! 
ha! Isn』t that refreshing, my young friend!』 

I never did in my days behold anything like Mowcher as she 
stood upon the dining table, intensely enjoying this refreshment, 
rubbing busily at Steerforth』s head, and 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 here, jemmy.』 

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『No?』 said Steerforth. 

『Not the ghost of one,』 replied Miss Mowcher. 

『We could show her the substance of one, I think?』 said 
Steerforth, addressing his eyes to mine. 『Eh, Daisy?』 

『Yes, indeed,』 said I. 

『Aha?』 cried the little creature, glancing sharply at my face, and 
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 either, but continued to rub, with her 
head on one side and her eye turned up, as if she were looking for 
an answer in the air and were confident of its appearing presently. 

『A sister of yours, Mr. Copperfield?』 she cried, after a pause, 
and still keeping the same look-out. 『Aye, aye?』 

『No,』 said Steerforth, before I could reply. 『Nothing of the sort. 
On the contrary, Mr. Copperfield used—or I am much mistaken— 
to have a great admiration for her.』 

『Why, hasn』t he now?』 returned Miss Mowcher. 『Is he fickle? 
Oh, for shame! Did he sip every flower, and change every hour, 
until Polly his passion requited?—Is her name Polly?』 

The Elfin suddenness with which she pounced upon me with 
this question, and a searching look, quite disconcerted me for a 
moment. 

『No, Miss Mowcher,』 I replied. 『Her name is Emily.』 

『Aha?』 she cried exactly as before. 『Umph? What a rattle I am! 
Mr. Copperfield, ain』t I volatile?』 

Her tone and look implied something that was not agreeable to 
me in connexion with the subject. So I said, in a graver manner 
than any of us had yet assumed: 『She is as virtuous as she is pretty. 

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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 sense, as much 
as I admire her for her good looks.』 

『Well said!』 cried Steerforth. 『Hear, hear, hear! Now I』ll quench 
the curiosity of this little Fatima, my dear Daisy, by leaving her 
nothing to guess at. She is at present apprenticed, Miss Mowcher, 
or articled, or whatever it may be, to Omer and Joram, 
Haberdashers, Milliners, and so forth, in this town. Do you 
observe? Omer and Joram. The promise of which my friend has 
spoken, is made and entered into with her cousin; Christian name, 
Ham; surname, Peggotty; occupation, boat-builder; also of this 
town. She lives with a relative; Christian name, unknown; 
surname, Peggotty; occupation, seafaring; 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 Intended, which I know my friend would 
not like, I would add, that 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 words, which were very slowly 
and distinctly spoken, with her head on one side, and her eye in 
the air as if she were still looking for that answer. When he ceased 
she became brisk again in an instant, and rattled away with 
surprising volubility. 

『Oh! And that』s all about it, is it?』 she exclaimed, trimming his 
whiskers with a little restless pair of scissors, that 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 

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an E, because she』s enticing; I hate her with an E, because she』s 
engaged. I took her to the sign of the exquisite, and treated her 
with an elopement, her name』s Emily, and she lives in the east? 
Ha! ha! ha! Mr. Copperfield, ain』t I volatile?』 

Merely looking at me with extravagant slyness, and not waiting 
for any reply, she continued, without drawing breath: 

『There! If ever any scapegrace was trimmed and touched up to 
perfection, you are, Steerforth. If I understand any noddle in the 
world, I understand yours. Do you hear me when I tell you that, 
my darling? I understand yours,』 peeping down into his face. 『Now 
you may mizzle, jemmy (as we say at Court), and if Mr. 
Copperfield will take the chair I』ll operate on him.』 

『What do you say, Daisy?』 inquired Steerforth, laughing, and 
resigning his seat. 『Will you be improved?』 

『Thank you, Miss Mowcher, not this evening.』 

『Don』t say no,』 returned the little woman, looking 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.』 

『No, I thank you. Not at present.』 

『Go in for a tip,』 she urged. 『No? Let』s get the scaffolding up, 
then, for a pair of whiskers. Come!』 

I could not help blushing as I declined, for I felt we were on my 
weak point, now. But Miss Mowcher, finding that I was not at 
present disposed for any decoration within the range of her art, 
and that I was, for the time being, proof against the blandishments 
of the small bottle which she held up before one eye to enforce her 
persuasions, said we would make a beginning on an early day, and 

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requested the aid of my hand to descend from her elevated station. 
Thus assisted, she skipped down with much agility, and began to 
tie her double chin into her bonnet. 

『The fee,』 said Steerforth, 『is—』 

『Five bob,』 replied Miss Mowcher, 『and dirt cheap, my chicken. 
Ain』t I volatile, Mr. 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 pieman, 
caught them, dropped them in her pocket, and gave it a loud slap. 

『That』s the Till!』 observed Miss Mowcher, standing at the chair 
again, and 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 says, and left the 
bride behind. Ha! ha! ha! A wicked rascal, Ned, but droll! Now, I 
know I』m going to break your hearts, but I am forced to leave you. 
You must call up all your fortitude, and try to bear it. Good-bye, 
Mr. 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 French, and 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, 

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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; 

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『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』ly, Em』ly, for Christ』s 
sake, have a woman』s heart towards me. I was once like you!」 
Those was solemn words, Mas』r Davy, fur to hear!』 

『They were indeed, Ham. What did Em』ly do?』 

『Says Em』ly, 「Martha, is it you? Oh, Martha, can it be you?」— 
for they had sat at work together, many a day, at Mr. Omer』s.』 

『I recollect her now!』 cried I, recalling 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』 that, Mas』r Davy,』 replied Ham, 『all』s told 
a』most in them words, 「Em』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 theer, for her loving 
uncle was come home, and he wouldn』t—no, Mas』r Davy,』 said 
Ham, with great earnestness, 『he couldn』t, kind-natur』d, tender-

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hearted as he is, see them two together, side by side, for all the 
treasures that』s wrecked in the sea.』 

I felt how true this was. I knew it, on the instant, quite 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 aunt, Mrs. Barkis, and she』ll set you down by her fire, for 
the love of me, till uncle is gone out, and I can come.」 By and by 
she tells me what I tell you, Mas』r Davy, and asks me to bring her. 
What can I do? She doen』t ought to know any such, but I can』t 
deny her, when the tears is on her face.』 

He put his hand into the breast of his shaggy jacket, and took 
out with great care a pretty little purse. 

『And if I could deny her when the tears was on her face, Mas』r 
Davy,』 said Ham, tenderly 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 it, 
Em』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 down, for a minute or two, in 
silence. The door opened then, and Peggotty appeared, beckoning 
to Ham to come in. I would have kept away, but she came after 
me, entreating me to come in too. Even then, I would have avoided 
the room where they all were, but for its being the neat-tiled 
kitchen I have mentioned more than once. The door opening 
immediately into it, I found myself among them beforeconsidered whither I was going. 

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The girl—the same I had seen upon the sands—was near the 
fire. She was sitting on the ground, with her head and one arm 
lying on a chair. I fancied, from the disposition of her figure, that 
Em』ly had but newly risen from the chair, and that the forlorn 
head might perhaps have been lying on her lap. I saw but little of 
the girl』s face, over which her hair fell loose and scattered, as if she 
had been disordering it with her own hands; but I saw that she 
was young, and 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 seemed, in the silence, to 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 them, looking on the prostrate girl with a 
mixture of compassion for her, and of jealousy of her holding any 
companionship with her whom he loved so well, which I have 
always remembered distinctly. They both spoke as if she were ill; 
in a soft, suppressed tone that was plainly heard, although 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 head, and looked darkly round at him for a 
moment; then laid it down again, and curved her right arm about 
her neck, as a woman in a fever, or 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?』 

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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 streets, where the whole town knows 
me from a child!』 

As Em』ly held out her hand to Ham, I saw him put in it a little 
canvas bag. She took it, as if she thought it were her purse, and 
made a step or two forward; but finding her mistake, came back to 
where he had retired near me, and showed it to him. 

『It』s all yourn, Em』ly,』 I could hear him say. 『I haven』t nowt in all 
the wureld that ain』t yourn, my dear. It ain』t of no delight to me, 
except for you!』 

The tears rose freshly in her eyes, but she turned away and 
went to Martha. What she gave her, I don』t know. I saw her 
stooping over her, and putting money in her bosom. She 
whispered something, as she asked was that enough? 『More than 
enough,』 the other said, and took her hand and kissed it. 

Then Martha arose, and gathering her shawl about her, 
covering her face with it, and weeping aloud, went slowly to the 
door. She stopped a moment before going out, as if she would have 
uttered something or turned back; but no word passed her lips. 
Making the same low, dreary, wretched moaning in her shawl, she 
went away. 

As the door closed, little Em』ly looked at us three in a hurried 
manner and then hid her face in her hands, and fell to sobbing. 

『Doen』t, Em』ly!』 said Ham, tapping her gently on the shoulder. 
『Doen』t, my dear! You doen』t ought to cry so, pretty!』 

『Oh, Ham!』 she exclaimed, still weeping pitifully, 『I am not so 
good a girl as I ought to be! I know I have not the thankful heart, 

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sometimes, I ought to have!』 

『Yes, yes, you have, I』m sure,』 said Ham. 

『No! no! no!』 cried little Em』ly, sobbing, and shaking her head. 『I 
am not as good a girl as I ought to be. Not near! not near!』 And still 
she cried, as if her heart would break. 

『I try your love too much. I know I do!』 she sobbed. 『I』m often 
cross to you, and changeable with you, when I ought to be far 
different. You are never so to me. Why am I ever so to you, when I 
should think of nothing but how to be grateful, and to make you 
happy!』 

『You always make me so,』 said Ham, 『my dear! I am happy in 
the sight of you. I am happy, all day long, in the thoughts of you.』 

『Ah! that』s not enough!』 she cried. 『That is because you are 
good; not because I am! Oh, my dear, it might have been a better 
fortune for you, if you had been fond of someone else—of someone 
steadier and much worthier than me, who was all bound up in 
you, and never vain and changeable like me!』 

『Poor little tender-heart,』 said Ham, in a low voice. 『Martha has 
overset her, altogether.』 

『Please, aunt,』 sobbed Em』ly, 『come here, and let me lay my 
head upon you. Oh, I am very miserable tonight, aunt! Oh, I am 
not as good a girl as I ought to be. I am not, I know!』 

Peggotty had hastened to the chair before the fire. Em』ly, with 
her arms around her neck, kneeled by her, looking up most 
earnestly into her face. 

『Oh, pray, aunt, try to help me! Ham, dear, try to help me! Mr. 
David, for the sake of old times, do, please, try 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 more, what a blessed thing it is to 

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be the wife of a good man, and to lead a peaceful life. Oh me, oh 
me! Oh my heart, my heart!』 

She dropped her face on my old nurse』s breast, and, ceasing 
this supplication, which in its agony and grief was half a woman』s, 
half a child』s, as all her manner was (being, in that, more natural, 
and better suited to her beauty, as I thought, than any other 
manner could have been), wept silently, while my old nurse 
hushed her like an infant. 

She got calmer by degrees, and then we soothed her; now 
talking encouragingly, and now jesting a little with her, until she 
began to raise her head and speak to us. So we got on, until she 
was able to smile, and then to laugh, and then to sit up, half 
ashamed; while Peggotty recalled her stray ringlets, dried her 
eyes, and made her neat again, lest her uncle should wonder, 
when she got home, why his darling had been crying. 

I saw her do, that night, what I had never seen her do before. I 
saw her innocently kiss her chosen husband on the cheek, and 
creep close to his bluff form as if it were her best support. When 
they went away together, in the waning moonlight, and I looked 
after them, comparing their departure in my mind with Martha』s, I 
saw that she held his arm with both her hands, and still kept close 
to him. 

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Chapter 23 

I CORROBORATE MR. DICK, AND CHOOSE A 
PROFESSION 

When I awoke in the morning I thought very much of little 
Em』ly, and her emotion last night, after Martha had left. I felt as if 
I had come into the knowledge of those domestic weaknesses and 
tendernesses in a sacred confidence, and that to disclose them, 
even to Steerforth, would be wrong. I had no gentler feeling 
towards anyone than towards the pretty creature who had been 
my playmate, and whom I have always been persuaded, and shall 
always be persuaded, to my dying day, I 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 accident, I 
felt would be a rough deed, unworthy of myself, unworthy of the 
light of our pure childhood, which I always saw encircling her 
head. I made a resolution, therefore, to keep it in my own breast; 
and there it gave her image a new grace. 

While we were at breakfast, a letter was delivered to me from 
my aunt. As it contained matter on which I thought Steerforth 
could advise me as well as anyone, and on which I knew I should 
be delighted to consult him, I resolved to make it a subject of 
discussion on our journey home. For the present we had enough 
to do, in taking leave of all our friends. Mr. Barkis was far from 
being the last among them, in his regret at our departure; and I 
believe would even have opened the box again, and sacrificed 
another guinea, if it would have kept us eight-and-forty hours in 

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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 Steerforth, when our portmanteaux went to the 
coach, that if we had had the baggage of a regiment with us, we 
should hardly have wanted porters to carry it. In a word, we 
departed to the regret and admiration of all concerned, and left a 
great many people very sorry behind us. 

Do you stay long here, Littimer?』 said I, as he stood waiting to 
see the coach start. 

『No, sir,』 he replied; 『probably not very long, sir.』 

『He can hardly say, just now,』 observed Steerforth, carelessly. 
『He knows what he has to do, and he』ll do it.』 

『That I am sure he will,』 said I. 

Littimer touched his hat in acknowledgement of my good 
opinion, and I felt about eight years old. He touched it once more, 
wishing us a good journey; and we left him standing on the 
pavement, as respectable a mystery as any pyramid in Egypt. 

For some little time we held no conversation, Steerforth being 
unusually silent, and I being sufficiently engaged in wondering, 
within myself, when I should see the old places again, and what 
new changes might happen to me or them in the meanwhile. At 
length Steerforth, becoming gay and talkative in a moment, as he 
could become anything he liked at any moment, pulled me by the 
arm: 

『Find a voice, David. What about that letter you were speaking 
of at breakfast?』 

『Oh!』 said I, taking it out of my pocket. 『It』s from my aunt.』 

『And what does she say, requiring consideration?』 

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『Why, she reminds me, Steerforth,』 said I, 『that I came out on 
this expedition to look about me, and to think a little.』 

『Which, of course, you have done?』 

『Indeed I can』t say I have, particularly. To tell you the truth, I 
am afraid I have forgotten it.』 

『Well! look about you now, and make up for your negligence,』 
said Steerforth. 『Look to the right, and you』ll see a flat country, 
with a good deal of marsh in it; look to the left, and you』ll see the 
same. Look to the front, and you』ll find no difference; look to the 
rear, and there it is still.』 I laughed, and 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 Steerforth, 
glancing at the letter in my hand. 『Does she suggest anything?』 

『Why, yes,』 said I. 『She asks me, here, if I think I should like to 
be a proctor? What do you think of it?』 

『Well, I don』t know,』 replied Steerforth, coolly. 『You may as well 
do that as anything else, I suppose?』 

I could not help laughing again, at his balancing all callings and 
professions so equally; and I told him so. 

『What is a proctor, Steerforth?』 said I. 

『Why, he is a sort of monkish attorney,』 replied Steerforth. 『He 
is, to 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 existence, in the 
natural course of things, would have terminated about two 
hundred years ago. I can tell you best what he is, by telling you 
what Doctors』 Commons is. It』s a little out-of-the-way place, where 
they administer what is called ecclesiastical law, and play all kinds 

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of tricks with obsolete old monsters of acts of Parliament, which 
three-fourths of the world know nothing about, and the other 
fourth supposes to have been dug up, in a fossil state, in the days 
of the Edwards. It』s a place that has an ancient monopoly in suits 
about people』s wills and people』s marriages, and disputes among 
ships and boats.』 

『Nonsense, Steerforth!』 I exclaimed. 『You don』t mean to say that 
there is any affinity between nautical matters and ecclesiastical 
matters?』 

『I don』t, indeed, my dear boy,』 he returned; 『but I mean to say 
that they are managed and decided by the same set of people, 
down in that same Doctors』 Commons. You shall go there one day, 
and find them blundering through half the nautical terms in 
Young』s Dictionary, apropos 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 day, and find 
them deep in the evidence, pro and con, respecting a clergyman 
who has misbehaved himself; and you shall find the judge in the 
nautical case, the advocate in the clergyman』s case, or 
contrariwise. They are like actors: now a man』s a judge, and now 
he is not a judge; now he』s one thing, now he』s another; now he』s 
something else, change and change about; but it』s always a very 
pleasant, profitable little affair of private theatricals, presented to 
an uncommonly select audience.』 

『But advocates and proctors are not one and the same?』 said I, a 
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 

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reason of my knowing anything about it. The proctors employ the 
advocates. Both get very comfortable fees, and altogether they 
make a mighty snug little party. On the whole, I would 
recommend you to take to Doctors』 Commons kindly, David. They 
plume themselves on their gentility there, I can tell you, if that』s 
any satisfaction.』 

I made allowance for Steerforth』s light way of treating the 
subject, and, considering 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 decision, making no 
scruple of telling me that it had occurred to her, on 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 aunt, at all 
events,』 said Steerforth, when I mentioned it; 『and one deserving 
of all encouragement. Daisy, my 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 Fields, where there was a stone staircase, and 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 pleasantly, sometimes 
recurring to Doctors』 Commons, and anticipating the distant days 
when I should be a proctor there, which Steerforth pictured in a 
variety of humorous and whimsical lights, that made us both 
merry. When we came to our journey』s end, he went home, 

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engaging to call upon me next day but one; and I drove to 
Lincoln』s Inn Fields, where I found my aunt up, and waiting 
supper. 

If I had been round the world since we parted, we could hardly 
have been better pleased to meet again. My aunt cried outright as 
she embraced me; and said, pretending to laugh, that if my poor 
mother had been alive, that silly little creature would have shed 
tears, she had no doubt. 

『So you have left Mr. Dick behind, aunt?』 said I. 『I am sorry for 
that. Ah, Janet, how do you do?』 

As Janet curtsied, hoping I was well, I observed my aunt』s 
visage lengthen very much. 

『I am sorry for it, too,』 said my aunt, rubbing her nose. 『I have 
had no peace of mind, Trot, since I have been here.』 Before I could 
ask why, she told me. 

『I am convinced,』 said my aunt, laying 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 home, instead, 
and then my mind might perhaps have been at ease. If ever there 
was a donkey trespassing on my green,』 said my aunt, with 
emphasis, 『there was one this afternoon at four o』clock. A cold 
feeling came over me from head to foot, and I know it was a 
donkey!』 

I tried to comfort her on this point, but 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 rode, when 
she came to my house.』 This had been, ever since, the only name 
my aunt knew for Miss Murdstone. 『If there is any Donkey in 

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Dover, whose audacity it is harder to me to bear than another』s, 
that,』 said my aunt, striking the table, 『is the animal!』 

Janet ventured to suggest that my aunt might be disturbing 
herself unnecessarily, and that she believed the donkey in 
question was then engaged in the sand-and-gravel line of business, 
and was not available for purposes of trespass. But my aunt 
wouldn』t hear of it. 

Supper was comfortably served and hot, though my aunt』s 
rooms were very high up—whether that she might have more 
stone stairs for her money, or might be nearer to the door in the 
roof, I don』t know—and consisted of a roast fowl, a steak, and 
some vegetables, to all of which I did ample justice, and which 
were all excellent. But my aunt had her own ideas concerning 
London provision, and 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 beef, but I don』t believe it. 
Nothing』s genuine in the place, in my opinion, but the dirt.』 

『Don』t you think the fowl may have come out of the country, 
aunt?』 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 opinion, but I made a good 
supper, which it greatly satisfied her to see me do. When the table 
was cleared, Janet assisted her to arrange her hair, to put on her 
nightcap, which was of a smarter construction than usual (『in case 
of fire』, my aunt said), and to fold her gown back over her knees, 
these being her usual preparations for warming herself before 

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going to bed. I then made her, according to certain established 
regulations from which no deviation, however slight, could ever be 
permitted, a glass of hot wine and water, and a slice of toast cut 
into long thin strips. With these accompaniments we were left 
alone to finish the evening, my aunt sitting opposite to me 
drinking her wine and water; soaking her strips of toast in it, one 
by one, before eating them; and looking benignantly on me, from 
among the borders of her nightcap. 

『Well, Trot,』 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 it, my dear aunt, and 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 difficulty, aunt.』 

『Say what it is, Trot,』 she returned. 

『Why, I want to ask, aunt, as this seems, from what I 
understand, to be a limited profession, whether my entrance into 
it would not be very expensive?』 

『It will cost,』 returned my aunt, 『to article you, just a thousand 
pounds.』 

『Now, my dear aunt,』 said I, drawing 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 education, and 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 outlay, and 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 

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can afford to part with so much money, and that it is right that it 
should be so expended? I only ask you, my second mother, to 
consider. Are you certain?』 

My aunt finished eating the piece of toast on which she was 
then engaged, looking me full in the face all the while; and then 
setting her glass on the chimney-piece, and folding her hands 
upon her folded skirts, replied as follows: 

『Trot, my child, if I have any object in life, it is to provide for 
your being a good, a sensible, and 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 intellect, except myself!』 

She stopped for a moment to take my hand between hers, and 
went on: 

『It』s in vain, Trot, to recall the past, unless 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 mother, even after your sister 
Betsey Trotwood disappointed me. When you came to me, a little 
runaway boy, all dusty and way-worn, perhaps I thought so. From 
that time until now, Trot, you 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 hesitated, and 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 age, and 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 
been, than ever that old woman did for you.』 

It was the first time I had heard my aunt refer to her past 

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history. There was a magnanimity in her quiet way of doing so, 
and of dismissing it, which would have exalted her in my respect 
and affection, if anything could. 

『All is agreed and understood between us, now, Trot,』 said my 
aunt, 『and we need talk of this no more. Give me a kiss, and 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』s, and 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-
carts, and inquiring, 『if I heard the engines?』 But towards morning 
she slept better, and suffered me to do so too. 

At about mid-day, we set out for the office of Messrs Spenlow 
and Jorkins, in Doctors』 Commons. My aunt, who had this other 
general opinion in reference to London, that every man she saw 
was a pickpocket, gave me her purse to carry for her, which had 
ten guineas in it and some silver. 

We made a pause at the toy shop in Fleet Street, to see the 
giants of Saint Dunstan』s strike upon the bells—we had timed our 
going, so as to catch them at it, at twelve o』clock—and then went 
on towards Ludgate Hill, and St. Paul』s Churchyard. We were 
crossing to the former place, when I found that my aunt greatly 
accelerated her speed, and looked frightened. I observed, at the 
same time, that a lowering ill-dressed man who had stopped and 
stared at us in passing, a little before, was coming so close after us 
as to brush against her. 

『Trot! My dear Trot!』 cried my aunt, in a terrified whisper, and 
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 

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into a shop, and I』ll soon get rid of this fellow.』 

『No, no, child!』 she returned. 『Don』t speak to him for the world. I 
entreat, I order you!』 

『Good Heaven, aunt!』 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-way, while this was passing, 
and he had stopped too. 

『Don』t look at him!』 said my aunt, as I turned my head 
indignantly, 『but get me a coach, my dear, and 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 him, aunt? This man?』 

『I am in my senses,』 she replied, 『and I tell you I must. Get mea 
coach!』 

However much astonished I might be, I was sensible that I had 
no right to refuse compliance with such a peremptory command. I 
hurried away a few paces, and called a hackney-chariot which was 
passing empty. Almost before I could let down the steps, my aunt 
sprang in, I don』t know how, and the man followed. She waved her 
hand to me to go away, so earnestly, that, all confounded as I was, 
I turned from them at once. In doing so, I heard her say to the 
coachman, 『Drive anywhere! Drive straight on!』 and presently the 
chariot passed me, going up the hill. 

What Mr. Dick had told me, and what I had supposed to be a 
delusion of his, now came into my mind. I could not doubt that this 
person was the person of whom he had made such mysterious 
mention, though what the nature of his hold upon my aunt could 

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possibly be, I was quite unable to imagine. After half an hour』s 
cooling in the churchyard, I saw the chariot coming back. The 
driver stopped beside me, and 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 chariot, and to tell the coachman to drive slowly up and 
down a little while. She said no more, except, 『My dear child, 
never ask me what it was, and don』t refer to it,』 until she had 
perfectly regained her composure, when she told me she was quite 
herself now, and we might get out. On her giving me her purse to 
pay the driver, I found that all the guineas were gone, and only the 
loose silver remained. 

Doctors』 Commons was approached by a little low archway. 
Before we had taken many paces down the street beyond it, the 
noise of the city seemed to melt, as if by magic, into a softened 
distance. A few dull courts and narrow ways brought us to the skylighted offices of Spenlow and Jorkins; in the vestibule of which 
temple, accessible to pilgrims without the ceremony of knocking, 
three or four clerks were at work as copyists. One of these, a little 
dry man, sitting by himself, who wore a stiff brown wig that looked 
as if it were made of gingerbread, rose to receive my aunt, and 
show us into Mr. Spenlow』s room. 

『Mr. Spenlow』s in Court, ma』am,』 said the dry man; 『it』s an 
Arches day; but it』s close by, and I』ll send for him directly.』 

As we were left to look about us while Mr. Spenlow was fetched, 
I 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 colour, and was as withered and pale 
as an old pauper. There were a great many bundles of papers on it, 

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some endorsed as Allegations, and some (to my surprise) as Libels, 
and some as being in the Consistory Court, and some in the 
Arches Court, and some in the Prerogative Court, and some in the 
Admiralty Court, and some in the Delegates』 Court; giving me 
occasion to wonder much, how many Courts there might be in the 
gross, and how long it would take to understand them all. Besides 
these, there were sundry immense manuscript Books of Evidence 
taken on affidavit, strongly bound, and tied together in massive 
sets, a set to each cause, as if every cause were a history in ten or 
twenty volumes. All this looked tolerably expensive, I thought, and 
gave me an agreeable notion of a proctor』s business. I was casting 
my eyes with increasing complacency over these and many similar 
objects, when hasty footsteps were heard in the room outside, and 
Mr. Spenlow, in a black gown trimmed with white fur, came 
hurrying in, taking off his hat as he came. 

He was a little light-haired gentleman, with undeniable boots, 
and the stiffest of white cravats and shirt-collars. He was buttoned 
up, mighty trim and tight, and must have taken a great deal of 
pains with his whiskers, which were accurately curled. His gold 
watch-chain was so massive, that a fancy came across me, that he 
ought to have a sinewy golden arm, to draw it out with, like those 
which are put up over the goldbeaters』 shops. He was got up with 
such care, and was so stiff, that he could hardly bend himself; 
being obliged, when he glanced at some papers on his desk, after 
sitting down in his chair, to move his whole body, from the bottom 
of his spine, like Punch. 

I had previously been presented by my aunt, and had been 
courteously received. He now said: 

『And so, Mr. Copperfield, you think of entering into our 

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profession? I casually mentioned to Miss Trotwood, when 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 care, and for whom she 
was seeking to provide genteelly in life. That nephew, I believe, I 
have now the pleasure of』—Punch again. I bowed my 
acknowledgements, and said, my aunt had mentioned to me that 
there was that opening, and that I believed I should like it very 
much. That I was strongly inclined to like it, and had taken 
immediately to the proposal. That I could not absolutely pledge 
myself to like it, until I knew something more about it. That 
although it was little else than a matter of form, I presumed I 
should have an opportunity of trying how I liked it, before I bound 
myself to it irrevocably. 

『Oh surely! surely!』 said Mr. Spenlow. 『We always, in this house, 
propose a month—an initiatory month. I should be happy, myself, 
to propose two months—three—an indefinite period, in fact—but I 
have a partner. Mr. Jorkins.』 

『And the premium, sir,』 I returned, 『is a thousand pounds?』 

『And the premium, Stamp included, is a thousand pounds,』 said 
Mr. Spenlow. 『As I have mentioned to Miss Trotwood, I am 
actuated by no mercenary considerations; few men are less so, I 
believe; but Mr. Jorkins has his opinions on these subjects, and I 
am bound to respect Mr. Jorkins』s opinions. Mr. Jorkins thinks a 
thousand pounds too little, in short.』 

『I suppose, sir,』 said I, still desiring to spare my aunt, 『that it is 
not the custom here, if an articled clerk were particularly useful, 
and made himself a perfect master of his profession』—I could not 

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help blushing, this looked so like praising myself—『I suppose it is 
not the custom, in the later years of his time, to allow him any—』 

Mr. Spenlow, by a great effort, just lifted his head far enough 
out of his cravat to shake it, and answered, anticipating the word 
『salary』: 

『No. I will not say what consideration I might give to that point 
myself, Mr. Copperfield, if 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 raised, 
Mr. Jorkins wouldn』t listen to such a proposition. If a client were 
slow to settle his bill of costs, Mr. Jorkins was resolved to have it 
paid; and however painful these things might be (and always 
were) to the feelings of Mr. Spenlow, Mr. Jorkins would have his 
bond. The heart and hand of the good angel Spenlow would have 
been always open, but for the restraining demon Jorkins. As I 
have grown older, I 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 pleased, and that my aunt need neither remain in town nor 
return at its expiration, as the articles of agreement, of which I 
was to be the subject, could easily be sent to her at home for her 
signature. When we had got so far, Mr. Spenlow offered to take me 
into Court then and there, and show me what sort of place it was. 
As I was willing enough to know, we went out with this object, 
leaving my aunt behind; who would trust herself, she said, in no 

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such place, and who, I think, regarded 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 houses, which I inferred, from the Doctors』 names 
upon the doors, to be the official abiding-places of the learned 
advocates of whom Steerforth had told me; and into a large dull 
room, not unlike a chapel to my thinking, on the left hand. The 
upper part of this room was fenced off from the rest; and there, on 
the two sides of a raised platform of the horse-shoe form, sitting on 
easy old-fashioned dining-room chairs, were sundry gentlemen in 
red gowns and grey wigs, whom I found to be the Doctors 
aforesaid. Blinking over a little desk like a pulpit-desk, in the 
curve of the horse-shoe, was an old gentleman, whom, if I had seen 
him in an aviary, I should certainly have taken for an owl, but who, 
I learned, was the presiding judge. In the space within the horseshoe, lower than these, that is to say, on about the level of the 
floor, were sundry other gentlemen, of Mr. Spenlow』s rank, and 
dressed like him in black gowns with white fur upon them, sitting 
at a long green table. Their cravats were in general stiff, I thought, 
and their looks haughty; but in this last respect I presently 
conceived I had done them an injustice, for when two or three of 
them had to rise and answer a question of the presiding dignitary, 
I never saw anything more sheepish. The public, represented by a 
boy with a comforter, and a shabby-genteel man secretly eating 
crumbs out of his coat pockets, was 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 
Doctors, who was wandering slowly through a perfect library of 
evidence, and stopping to put up, from time to time, at little 

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roadside inns of argument on the journey. Altogether, I have 
never, on any occasion, made one at such a cosey, dosey, old-
fashioned, time-forgotten, sleepy-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 retreat, I 
informed Mr. Spenlow that I had seen enough for that time, and 
we rejoined my aunt; in company with whom I presently departed 
from the Commons, feeling very young when I went out of 
Spenlow and Jorkins』s, on 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 cart, 
who suggested painful associations to my aunt. We had another 
long talk about my plans, when we were safely housed; and as I 
knew she was anxious to get home, and, between fire, food, and 
pickpockets, could never be considered at her ease for half-anhour in London, I urged her not to be uncomfortable on my 
account, but to leave me to take care of myself. 

『I have not been here a week tomorrow, without considering 
that too, my dear,』 she returned. 『There is a furnished little set of 
chambers to be let in the Adelphi, Trot, which ought to suit you to 
a marvel.』 

With this brief introduction, she produced from her pocket an 
advertisement, carefully cut out of a newspaper, setting forth that 
in Buckingham Street in the Adelphi there was to be let furnished, 
with a view of the river, a singularly desirable, and compact set of 
chambers, forming a genteel residence for a young gentleman, a 
member of one of the Inns of Court, or otherwise, with immediate 

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possession. Terms moderate, and could be taken for a month only, 
if required. 

『Why, this is the very thing, aunt!』 said I, flushed with the 
possible dignity of living in chambers. 

『Then come,』 replied my aunt, immediately 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 premises, and we rung the area bell, which 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 us, but at last she appeared, being a stout 
lady with a flounce of flannel petticoat below a nankeen gown. 

『Let us see these chambers of yours, if you please, ma』am,』 said 
my aunt. 

『For this gentleman?』 said Mrs. Crupp, feeling in her pocket for 
her keys. 

『Yes, for 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 anything, a little stone-blind 
pantry where you could see nothing at all, a sitting-room, and a 
bedroom. The furniture was rather faded, but quite good enough 
for me; and, sure enough, the river was outside the windows. 

As I was delighted with the place, my aunt and Mrs. Crupp 
withdrew into the pantry to discuss the terms, while I remained on 
the sitting-room sofa, hardly daring to think it possible that I could 

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be destined to live in such a noble residence. After a single combat 
of some duration they returned, and I saw, to my joy, both in Mrs. 
Crupp』s countenance and in my aunt』s, that the deed was done. 

『Is it the last occupant』s furniture?』 inquired my aunt. 

『Yes, it is, ma』am,』 said Mrs. Crupp. 

『What』s become of him?』 asked my aunt. 

Mrs. Crupp was taken with a troublesome cough, in the midst 
of which she articulated with much difficulty. 『He was took ill here, 
ma』am, and—ugh! ugh! ugh! dear me!—and he died!』 

『Hey! What did he die of?』 asked my aunt. 

『Well, ma』am, he died of drink,』 said Mrs. Crupp, in confidence. 
『And smoke.』 

『Smoke? You don』t mean chimneys?』 said my aunt. 

『No, ma』am,』 returned Mrs. Crupp. 『Cigars and pipes.』 

『That』s not catching, Trot, at any rate,』 remarked my aunt, 
turning to me. 

『No, indeed,』 said I. 

In short, my aunt, seeing how enraptured I was with the 
premises, took them for a month, with leave to remain for twelve 
months when that time was out. Mrs. Crupp was to find linen, and 
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 tomorrow, and 
Mrs. Crupp said, thank Heaven she had now found summun she 
could care for! 

On our way back, my aunt informed me how she confidently 
trusted that the life I was now to lead would make me firm and 
self-reliant, which was all I wanted. She repeated this several 
times next day, in the intervals of our arranging for the 

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transmission of my clothes and books from Mr. Wickfield』s; 
relative to which, and to all my late holiday, I wrote a long letter to 
Agnes, of which my aunt took charge, as she was to leave on the 
succeeding day. Not to lengthen these particulars, I need only add, 
that she made a handsome provision for all my possible wants 
during my month of trial; that Steerforth, to my great 
disappointment and hers too, did 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 donkeys, with 
Janet at her side; and that when the coach was gone, I turned my 
face to the Adelphi, pondering on the old days when I used to 
roam about its subterranean arches, and on the happy changes 
which had brought me to the surface. 

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Chapter 24 

MY FIRST DISSIPATION 

It was a wonderfully fine thing to have that lofty castle to 
myself, and to feel, when I shut my outer door, like Robinson 
Crusoe, when he had got into his fortification, and pulled his 
ladder up after him. It was a wonderfully fine thing to walk about 
town with the key of my house in my pocket, and to know that I 
could ask any fellow to come home, and make quite sure of its 
being inconvenient to nobody, if it were not so to me. It was a 
wonderfully fine thing to let myself in and out, and to come and go 
without a word to anyone, and to ring Mrs. Crupp up, gasping, 
from the depths of the earth, when I wanted her—and when she 
was disposed to come. All this, I say, was wonderfully fine; but I 
must say, too, that there were times when it was very dreary. 

It was fine in the morning, particularly in the fine mornings. It 
looked a very fresh, free life, by daylight: still fresher, and more 
free, by sunlight. But as the day declined, the 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 to, then. I missed Agnes. I 
found a tremendous blank, in the place of that smiling repository 
of my confidence. Mrs. Crupp appeared to be a long way off. I 
thought about my predecessor, who had died of drink and smoke; 
and I could have wished he had been so good as to live, and not 
bother me with his decease. 

After two days and nights, I felt as if I had lived there for a year, 
and yet I was not an hour older, but was quite as much tormented 

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by my own youthfulness as ever. 

Steerforth not yet appearing, which induced me to apprehend 
that he must be ill, I left the Commons early on the third day, and 
walked out to Highgate. Mrs. Steerforth was very glad to see me, 
and said that he had gone away with one of his Oxford friends to 
see another who lived near St. Albans, but that she expected him 
to return tomorrow. I was so fond of him, that I felt quite jealous of 
his Oxford friends. 

As she pressed me to stay to dinner, I remained, and I believe 
we talked about nothing but him all day. I told her how much the 
people liked him at Yarmouth, and 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 there, 
and said, 『Was it really though?』 and so forth, so often, that she got 
everything out of me she wanted to know. Her appearance was 
exactly what I have described it, when I first saw her; but the 
society of the two ladies was so agreeable, and came so natural to 
me, that I felt myself falling a little in love with her. I could not 
help thinking, several times in the course of the evening, and 
particularly when I walked home at night, what delightful 
company she would be in Buckingham Street. 

I was taking my coffee and roll in the morning, before going to 
the Commons—and I may observe in this place that it is surprising 
how much coffee Mrs. Crupp used, and how weak it was, 
considering—when Steerforth himself walked in, to my 
unbounded joy. 

『My dear Steerforth,』 cried I, 『I began to think I should never 
see you again!』 

『I was carried off, by force of arms,』 said Steerforth, 『the very 

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next morning after I got home. Why, Daisy, what a rare old 
bachelor you are here!』 

I showed him over the establishment, not omitting the pantry, 
with no little pride, and he commended it highly. 『I tell you what, 
old 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 I, with my hand on the 
bell-rope, 『and Mrs. Crupp shall make you some fresh coffee, and 
I』ll toast you some bacon in a bachelor』s Dutch-oven, that I have 
got here.』 

『No, no!』 said Steerforth. 『Don』t ring! I can』t! I am going to 
breakfast with one of these fellows who is at the Piazza Hotel, in 
Covent Garden.』 

『But you』ll come back to dinner?』 said I. 

『I can』t, upon my life. There』s nothing I should like better, but 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 this, for it occurred to me 
that I really ought to have a little house-warming, and that there 
never could be a better opportunity. I had a new pride in my 
rooms after his approval of them, and burned with a desire to 
develop their utmost resources. I therefore made him promise 

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positively in the names of his two friends, and we appointed six 
o』clock as the dinner-hour. 

When he was gone, I rang for Mrs. Crupp, and acquainted her 
with my desperate design. Mrs. Crupp said, in the first place, of 
course it was well known she couldn』t be expected to wait, but she 
knew a handy young man, who she thought could be prevailed 
upon to do it, and whose terms would be five shillings, and what I 
pleased. I said, certainly 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 candle, there never to desist from washing plates, would 
be indispensable. I said, what 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 said, Now 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 fireplace, 
that it was capable of cooking nothing but chops and mashed 
potatoes. As to a fish-kittle, Mrs. Crupp said, well! 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 it, I declined, and said, 『Never mind fish.』 
But Mrs. Crupp said, Don』t say that; oysters was in, why 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 beef, with vegetables—from the 
pastry-cook』s; two little corner things, as a raised pie and a dish of 
kidneys—from the pastrycook』s; a tart, and (if I liked) a shape of 
jelly—from the pastrycook』s. This, Mrs. Crupp said, would leave 

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her at full liberty to concentrate her mind on the potatoes, and to 
serve up the cheese and celery as she could wish to see it done. 

I acted on Mrs. Crupp』s opinion, and gave the order at the 
pastry-cook』s myself. Walking along the Strand, afterwards, and 
observing a hard mottled substance in the window of a ham and 
beef shop, which resembled marble, but was labelled 『Mock 
Turtle』, I went in and bought a slab of it, which I have since seen 
reason to believe would have sufficed for fifteen people. This 
preparation, Mrs. Crupp, after some difficulty, consented to warm 
up; and it shrunk so much in a liquid state, that we found it what 
Steerforth called 『rather a tight fit』 for four. 

These preparations happily completed, I bought a little dessert 
in Covent Garden Market, and gave a rather extensive order at a 
retail wine-merchant』s in that vicinity. When I came home in the 
afternoon, and saw the bottles drawn up in a square on the pantry 
floor, they 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 Grainger, and the other 
Markham. They were both very gay and lively fellows; Grainger, 
something older than Steerforth; Markham, youthful-looking, and 
I should say not more than twenty. I observed that the latter 
always spoke of himself indefinitely, as 『a man』, and seldom or 
never in the first person singular. 

『A man might get on very well here, Mr. 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 

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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 first, and feeling much too young 
to preside, I made Steerforth take the head of the table when 
dinner was announced, and 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 well, that 
there was no pause in our festivity. I was not quite such good 
company during dinner as I could have wished to be, for my chair 
was opposite the door, and my attention was distracted by 
observing that the handy young man went out of the room very 
often, and that his shadow always presented itself, immediately 
afterwards, on the wall of the entry, with a bottle at its mouth. The 
『young gal』 likewise occasioned me some uneasiness: not so much 
by neglecting to wash the plates, as by breaking them. For being of 
an inquisitive disposition, and unable to confine herself (as her 
positive instructions were) to the pantry, she was constantly 
peering in at us, and constantly imagining herself detected; in 
which belief, she several times retired upon the plates (with which 
she had carefully paved the floor), and did a great deal of 
destruction. 

These, however, were small drawbacks, and easily forgotten 
when the cloth was cleared, and 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. Crupp, and to remove the 『young gal』 to the 
basement also, I abandoned myself to enjoyment. 

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I began, by being singularly cheerful and light-hearted; all sorts 
of half-forgotten things to talk about, came rushing into my mind, 
and made me hold forth in a most unwonted manner. I laughed 
heartily at my own jokes, and 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 that, once a week, until further notice; and madly took so 
much snuff out of Grainger』s box, that I was obliged to go into the 
pantry, and have a private fit of sneezing ten minutes long. 

I went on, by passing the wine faster and faster yet, and 
continually starting up with a corkscrew to open more wine, long 
before any was needed. I proposed Steerforth』s health. I said he 
was my dearest friend, the protector of my boyhood, and 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 repay, 
and 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 three, and another, and a good 
one to finish with. I broke my glass in going round the table to 
shake hands with him, and I said (in two words) 『Steerforth— 
you』retheguidingstarofmyexistence.』 

I went on, by finding suddenly that somebody was in the middle 
of a song. Markham was the singer, and he sang 『When the heart 
of a man is depressed with care』. He said, when he had sung it, he 
would give us 『Woman!』 I took objection to that, and I couldn』t 
allow it. I said it was not a respectful way of proposing the toast, 
and I would never permit that toast to be drunk in my house 
otherwise than as 『The Ladies!』 I was very high with him, mainly I 
think because I saw Steerforth and Grainger laughing at me—or 

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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 insulted, then. I said 
he was right there—never under my roof, where the Lares were 
sacred, and 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 smoking, 
and trying to suppress a rising tendency to shudder. Steerforth 
had made a speech about me, in the course of which I had been 
affected almost to tears. I returned thanks, and hoped the present 
company would dine with me tomorrow, and the day after—each 
day at five o』clock, that 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 
Trotwood, the best of her sex! 

Somebody was leaning out of my bedroom window, refreshing 
his forehead against the cool stone of the parapet, and 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.』 Now, somebody 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 hair, nothing else—looked 
drunk. 

Somebody said to me, 『Let us go to the theatre, Copperfield!』 
There was no bedroom before me, but again the jingling table 
covered with glasses; the lamp; Grainger on my right hand, 
Markham on my left, and Steerforth opposite—all sitting in a mist, 
and a long way off. The theatre? To be sure. The very thing. Come 

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along! But they must excuse me if I saw everybody out first, and 
turned the lamp off—in case of fire. 

Owing to some confusion in the dark, the door was gone. I was 
feeling for it in the window-curtains, when Steerforth, laughing, 
took me by the arm and led me out. We went downstairs, one 
behind another. Near the bottom, somebody fell, and rolled down. 
Somebody else said it was Copperfield. I was angry at that false 
report, until, finding myself on my back in the passage, I began to 
think there might be some foundation for it. 

A very foggy night, with 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-post, and put my hat 
into shape, which somebody produced from somewhere in a most 
extraordinary manner, for I hadn』t had it on before. Steerforth 
then said, 『You are all right, Copperfield, are you not?』 and I told 
him, 『Neverberrer.』 

A man, sitting in a pigeon-hole-place, looked out of the fog, and 
took money from somebody, inquiring if I was one of the 
gentlemen paid for, and appearing rather doubtful (as I remember 
in the glimpse I had of him) whether to take the money for me or 
not. Shortly afterwards, we were very high up in a very hot 
theatre, looking down into a large pit, that seemed to me to smoke; 
the people with whom it was crammed were so indistinct. There 
was a great stage, too, looking very clean and smooth after the 
streets; and there were people upon it, talking about something or 
other, but not at all intelligibly. There was an abundance of bright 
lights, and there was music, and there were ladies down in the 
boxes, and 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 

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unaccountable manner, when I tried to steady it. 

On somebody』s motion, we resolved to go downstairs to the 
dress-boxes, where the ladies were. A gentleman lounging, full 
dressed, on a sofa, with an opera-glass in his hand, passed before 
my view, and also my own figure at full length in a glass. Then I 
was being ushered into one of these boxes, and found myself 
saying something as I sat down, and people about me crying 
『Silence!』 to somebody, and ladies casting indignant glances at me, 
and—what! yes!—Agnes, sitting on the seat before me, in the same 
box, with a lady and gentleman beside her, whom I didn』t know. I 
see her face now, better than I did then, I dare say, with its 
indelible look of regret and wonder turned upon me. 

『Agnes!』 I said, thickly, 『Lorblessmer! Agnes!』 

『Hush! Pray!』 she answered, I could not conceive why. 『You 
disturb the company. Look at the stage!』 

I tried, on her injunction, to fix it, and to hear something of 
what was going on there, but quite in vain. I looked at her again by 
and by, and saw her shrink into her corner, and put her gloved 
hand to her forehead. 

『Agnes!』 I said. 『I』mafraidyou』renorwell.』 

『Yes, yes. Do not mind me, Trotwood,』 she returned. 『Listen! 
Are you going away soon?』 

『Amigoarawaysoo?』 I repeated. 

『Yes.』 

I had a stupid intention of replying that I was going to wait, to 
hand her downstairs. I suppose I expressed it, somehow; for after 
she had looked at me attentively for a little while, she appeared to 
understand, and replied in a low tone: 『I know you will do as I ask 
you, if I tell you I am very earnest in it. Go away now, Trotwood, 

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for my sake, and ask your friends to take you home.』 

She had so far improved me, for the time, that though I was 
angry with her, I felt ashamed, and 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 bedroom, where 
only Steerforth was with me, helping me to undress, and where I 
was by turns telling him that Agnes was my sister, and adjuring 
him to bring the corkscrew, that I might open another bottle of 
wine. 

How somebody, lying in my bed, lay saying and doing all this 
over again, at cross purposes, in a feverish dream all night—the 
bed a rocking sea that was never still! How, as that somebody 
slowly settled down into myself, did I begin to parch, and feel as if 
my outer covering of skin were a hard board; my tongue the 
bottom of an empty kettle, furred with long service, and burning 
up over a slow fire; the palms of my hands, hot plates of metal 
which no ice could cool! 

But the agony of mind, the remorse, and shame I felt when I 
became conscious next day! My horror of having committed a 
thousand offences I had forgotten, and which nothing could ever 
expiate—my recollection of that indelible look which Agnes had 
given me—the torturing impossibility of communicating with her, 
not knowing, Beast that I was, how she came to be in London, or 
where she stayed—my disgust of the very sight of the room where 
the revel had been held—my racking head—the smell of smoke, 
the sight of glasses, the impossibility of going out, or even getting 
up! Oh, what a day it was! 

Oh, what an evening, when I sat down by my fire to a basin of 
mutton broth, dimpled all over with fat, and thought I was going 

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the way of my predecessor, and should succeed to his dismal story 
as well as to his chambers, and had half a mind to rush express to 
Dover and reveal all! What an evening, when Mrs. Crupp, coming 
in to take away the broth-basin, produced one kidney on a cheese-
plate as the entire remains of yesterday』s feast, and I was really 
inclined to fall upon her nankeen breast and say, in heartfelt 
penitence, 『Oh, Mrs. Crupp, Mrs. Crupp, never mind the broken 
meats! I am very miserable!』—only that I doubted, even at that 
pass, if Mrs. Crupp were quite the sort of woman to confide in! 

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Chapter 25 

GOOD AND BAD ANGELS 

Iwas going out at my door on the morning after that 
deplorable day of headache, sickness, and repentance, with 
an odd confusion in my mind relative to the date of my 
dinner-party, as if a body of Titans had taken an enormous lever 
and pushed the day before yesterday some months back, when I 
saw a ticket-porter coming upstairs, with a letter in his hand. He 
was taking his time about his errand, then; but when he saw me 
on the top of the staircase, looking at him over the banisters, he 
swung into a trot, and came up panting as if he had run himself 
into a state of exhaustion. 

『T. Copperfield, Esquire,』 said the ticket-porter, touching 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. However, I told him I 
was T. Copperfield, Esquire, and he believed it, and gave me the 
letter, which he said required an answer. I shut him out on the 
landing to wait for the answer, and went into my chambers again, 
in such a nervous state that I was fain to lay the letter down on my 
breakfast table, and familiarize myself with the outside of it a little, 
before I could resolve to break the seal. 

I found, when I did open it, that 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 agent, 
Mr. Waterbrook, in Ely Place, Holborn. Will you come and see me 

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today, at any time you like to appoint? Ever yours affectionately, 
AGNES.』 

It took me such a long time to write an answer at all to my 
satisfaction, that I don』t know what the ticket-porter can have 
thought, unless he thought I was learning to write. I must have 
written half-a-dozen answers at least. I began one, 『How can I ever 
hope, my dear Agnes, to efface from your remembrance the 
disgusting impression』—there I didn』t like it, and then I tore it up. 
I began another, 『Shakespeare has observed, my dear Agnes, how 
strange it is that a man should put an enemy into his mouth』—that 
reminded me of Markham, and it got no farther. I even tried 
poetry. I began one note, in a six-syllable line, 『Oh, do not 
remember』—but that associated itself with the fifth of November, 
and became an absurdity. After many attempts, I wrote, 『My dear 
Agnes. Your letter is like you, and what could I say of it that would 
be higher praise than that? I will come at four o』clock. 
Affectionately and sorrowfully, T.C.』 With this missive (which I 
was in twenty minds at once about recalling, as 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 me, I sincerely 
believe he made some expiation for his share in that rotten old 
ecclesiastical cheese. Although I left the office at half past three, 
and was prowling about the place of appointment within a few 
minutes afterwards, the appointed time was exceeded by a full 
quarter of an hour, according to the clock of St. Andrew』s, 
Holborn, before I could muster up sufficient desperation to pull 
the private bell-handle let into the left-hand door-post of Mr. 
Waterbrook』s house. 

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The professional business of Mr. Waterbrook』s establishment 
was done on the ground-floor, and 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-room, and there sat 
Agnes, netting a purse. 

She looked so quiet and good, and reminded me so strongly of 
my airy fresh school days at Canterbury, and the sodden, smoky, 
stupid wretch I had been the other night, that, nobody being by, I 
yielded to my self-reproach and shame, and—in short, made 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 done, or the most ridiculous. 

『If it had been anyone but you, Agnes,』 said I, turning 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 comforted, that I 
could not help moving it to my lips, and gratefully kissing it. 

『Sit down,』 said Agnes, cheerfully. 『Don』t be unhappy, 
Trotwood. If you cannot confidently trust me, whom will you 
trust?』 

『Ah, Agnes!』 I returned. 『You are my good Angel!』 

She smiled rather sadly, I thought, and shook her head. 

『Yes, Agnes, my good Angel! Always my good Angel!』 

『If I were, indeed, Trotwood,』 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 Agnes, with a steady glance, 『against 

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your bad Angel.』 

『My dear Agnes,』 I began, 『if you mean Steerforth—』 

『I do, Trotwood,』 she returned. 『Then, Agnes, you wrong him 
very much. He my bad Angel, or anyone』s! He, anything but a 
guide, a support, and a friend to me! My dear Agnes! Now, is it not 
unjust, and unlike you, to 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 what, then?』 

『From many things—trifles in themselves, but they do not seem 
to me to be so, when they are put together. I judge him, partly 
from your account of him, Trotwood, and your character, and the 
influence he has over you.』 

There was always something in her modest voice that seemed 
to touch a chord within me, answering to that sound alone. It was 
always earnest; but when it was very earnest, as it was now, there 
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 Steerforth, in spite of all my attachment to him, darkened in 
that tone. 

『It is very bold in me,』 said Agnes, looking up again, 『who have 
lived in such seclusion, and can know so little of the world, to give 
you my advice so confidently, or even to have this strong opinion. 
But I know in what it is engendered, Trotwood,—in how true a 
remembrance of our having grown up together, and 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 you, and not I, when I caution you 

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that you have made a dangerous friend.』 

Again I looked at her, again I listened to her after she was 
silent, and again his image, though it was still fixed in my heart, 
darkened. 

『I am not so unreasonable as to expect,』 said Agnes, resuming 
her usual tone, after a little while, 『that you will, or that you can, at 
once, change 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, Trotwood, if you 
ever think of me—I mean,』 with a quiet smile, for I was going to 
interrupt her, and 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 you, Agnes,』 I replied, 『when you come to do 
Steerforth justice, and 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 smile, and we were again as 
unreserved in our mutual confidence as of old. 

『And when, Agnes,』 said I, 『will you forgive me the other night?』 

『When I recall it,』 said Agnes. 

She would have dismissed the subject so, but I was too full of it 
to allow that, and insisted on telling her how it happened that I 
had disgraced myself, and what chain of accidental circumstances 
had had the theatre for its final link. It was a great relief to me to 
do this, and 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 Agnes, calmly changing the 
conversation as soon as I had concluded, 『that you are always to 
tell me, not only when you fall into trouble, but when you fall in 

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love. Who has succeeded to Miss Larkins, Trotwood?』 

『No one, Agnes.』 

『Someone, Trotwood,』 said Agnes, laughing, and holding up her 
finger. 

『No, Agnes, upon my word! There is a lady, certainly, at Mrs. 
Steerforth』s house, who is very clever, and whom I like to talk to— 
Miss Dartle—but I don』t adore her.』 

Agnes laughed again at her own penetration, and told me that if 
I were faithful to her in my confidence she thought she should 
keep a little register of my violent attachments, with the date, 
duration, and termination of each, like the table of the reigns of 
the kings and queens, in 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 downstairs, every day,』 returned Agnes. 
『He was in London a week before me. I am afraid on disagreeable 
business, Trotwood.』 

『On some business that makes you uneasy, Agnes, I see,』 said I. 
『What can that be?』 

Agnes laid aside her work, and replied, folding her hands upon 
one another, and 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 mean, fawning fellow, worm himself into 
such promotion!』 I cried, indignantly. 『Have you made no 
remonstrance about it, Agnes? 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 it, Agnes, while there』s 
time.』 

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Still looking at me, Agnes 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 part, and his inability to conceal that it was forced 
upon him. I felt very sorry.』 

『Forced upon him, Agnes! Who forces it upon him?』 

『Uriah,』 she replied, after a moment』s hesitation, 『has made 
himself indispensable to papa. He is subtle and watchful. He has 
mastered papa』s weaknesses, fostered them, and taken advantage 
of them, until—to say all that I mean in a word, Trotwood,—until 
papa is afraid of him.』 

There was more that she might have said; more that she knew, 
or that she suspected; I clearly saw. I could not give her pain by 
asking what it was, for I knew that she withheld it from me, to 
spare her father. It had long been going on to this, I was sensible: 
yes, I could not but feel, on the least reflection, that 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 truth, perhaps: I hope so— 
but his position is really one of power, and I fear he makes a hard 
use of his power.』 

I said he was a hound, which, at the moment, was a great 
satisfaction to me. 

『At the time I speak of, as the time when papa spoke to me,』 
pursued Agnes, 『he had told papa that he was going away; that he 
was very sorry, and unwilling to leave, but that he had better 

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prospects. Papa was very much depressed then, and more bowed 
down by care than ever you or I have seen him; but he seemed 
relieved by this expedient of the partnership, though at the same 
time he seemed hurt by it and ashamed of it.』 

『And how did you receive it, Agnes?』 

『I did, Trotwood,』 she replied, 『what I hope was right. Feeling 
sure that it was necessary for papa』s peace that the sacrifice 
should be made, I 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 Agnes, putting her hands before her face, as 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 altered, in his devotion to me. 
I know how he has narrowed the circle of his sympathies and 
duties, in 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 life, and weakened 
his strength and energy, by turning them always upon one idea. If 
I could ever set this right! If I could ever work out his restoration, 
as 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 school, and I had 
seen them there when we last spoke about her father, and 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 say, in a foolish, helpless manner, 『Pray, 
Agnes, don』t! Don』t, my dear sister!』 

But Agnes was too superior to me in character and purpose, as 
I know well now, whatever I might know or not know then, to be 

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long in need of my entreaties. The beautiful, calm manner, which 
makes her so different in my remembrance from everybody else, 
came back again, as 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 opportunity, let me earnestly entreat you, 
Trotwood, to 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 it, for we know no 
certain ill of him. In any case, think first of papa and me!』 

Agnes had no time to say more, for the room door opened, and 
Mrs. Waterbrook, who was a large lady—or who wore a large 
dress: I don』t exactly know which, for 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 theatre, as if I had seen her 
in a pale magic lantern; but she appeared to remember me 
perfectly, and still to suspect me of being in a state of intoxication. 

Finding by degrees, however, that I was sober, and (I hope) that 
I was a modest young gentleman, Mrs. Waterbrook softened 
towards me considerably, and inquired, firstly, if I went much into 
the parks, and secondly, if I went much into society. On my 
replying to both these questions in the negative, it 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 
invitation, and took my leave, making 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 day, and on the street door being 
opened, plunged into a vapour-bath of haunch of mutton, I divined 
that I was not the only guest, for I immediately identified the 
ticket-porter in disguise, assisting the family servant, and waiting 

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at the foot of the stairs to carry up my name. He looked, to the best 
of his ability, when he asked me for it confidentially, as if he had 
never seen me before; but well did I know him, and well did he 
know me. Conscience made cowards of us both. 

I found Mr. Waterbrook to be a middle-aged gentleman, with a 
short throat, and a good deal of shirt-collar, who 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. Waterbrook, presented me, with 
much ceremony, to a very awful lady in a black velvet dress, and a 
great black velvet hat, whom 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 man, that his head, instead of being grey, 
seemed to be sprinkled with hoar-frost. Immense deference was 
shown to the Henry Spikers, male and female; which Agnes told 
me was on account of Mr. Henry Spiker being solicitor to 
something Or to Somebody, I forget what or which, remotely 
connected with the Treasury. 

I found Uriah Heep among the company, in a suit of black, and 
in deep humility. He told me, when I shook hands with him, that 
he was proud to be noticed by me, and that he really felt obliged to 
me for my condescension. I could have wished he had been less 
obliged to me, for he hovered about me in his gratitude all the rest 
of the evening; and whenever I said a word to Agnes, was sure, 
with his shadowless eyes and cadaverous face, to be looking 
gauntly down upon us from behind. 

There were other guests—all iced for the occasion, as it struck 
me, like the wine. But there was one who attracted my attention 

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before he came in, on account of my hearing him announced as 
Mr. Traddles! My mind flew back to Salem House; and could it be 
Tommy, I thought, who used to draw the skeletons! 

I looked for Mr. Traddles with unusual interest. He was a sober, 
steady-looking young man of retiring manners, with a comic head 
of hair, and eyes that were rather wide open; and he got into an 
obscure corner so soon, that I had some difficulty in making him 
out. At length I had a good view of him, and either my vision 
deceived me, or it was the old unfortunate Tommy. 

I made my way to Mr. Waterbrook, and said, that I believed I 
had the pleasure of seeing an old schoolfellow there. 

『Indeed!』 said Mr. Waterbrook, surprised. 『You are too young to 
have been at school with Mr. Henry Spiker?』 

『Oh, I don』t mean him!』 I returned. 『I mean the gentleman 
named Traddles.』 

『Oh! Aye, aye! Indeed!』 said my host, with much diminished 
interest. 『Possibly.』 

『If it』s really the same person,』 said I, glancing towards him, 『it 
was at a place called Salem House where we were together, and 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 coincidence, that 
Traddles should be here at all: as Traddles was only invited this 
morning, when the place at table, intended to be occupied by Mrs. 
Henry Spiker』s brother, became vacant, in consequence of his 
indisposition. A very gentlemanly man, Mrs. Henry Spiker』s 
brother, Mr. Copperfield.』 

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I murmured an assent, which was full of feeling, considering 
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 I, sorry to hear this. 

『Well,』 returned Mr. Waterbrook, pursing up his mouth, and 
playing with his watch-chain, in a comfortable, prosperous sort of 
way. 『I should say he was one of those men who stand in their own 
light. Yes, I should say he would never, for example, be 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 writing, plainly. I am able to 
throw something in Traddles』s way, in 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 spoon, but with a scaling-ladder, 
and had gone on mounting all the heights of life one after another, 
until now he looked, from the top of the fortifications, with the eye 
of a philosopher and a patron, on 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. Agnes, whom I should 
have liked to take myself, was given to a simpering fellow with 
weak legs. Uriah, Traddles, and I, as the junior part of the 

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company, went down last, how we could. I was not so vexed at 
losing Agnes as I might have been, since it gave me an opportunity 
of making myself known to Traddles on the stairs, who greeted me 
with great fervour; while Uriah writhed with such obtrusive 
satisfaction and self-abasement, that I could gladly have pitched 
him over the banisters. Traddles and I were separated at table, 
being billeted in two remote corners: he in the glare of a red velvet 
lady; I, in the gloom of Hamlet』s aunt. The dinner was very long, 
and the conversation was about the Aristocracy—and Blood. Mrs. 
Waterbrook repeatedly told us, that if she had a weakness, it 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 
genteel, that our scope was very limited. A Mr. and Mrs. Gulpidge 
were of the party, who had something to do at second-hand (at 
least, Mr. Gulpidge had) with the law business of the Bank; and 
what with the Bank, and what with the Treasury, we were as 
exclusive as the Court Circular. To mend the matter, Hamlet』s 
aunt had the family failing of indulging in soliloquy, and held forth 
in a desultory manner, by herself, on every topic that was 
introduced. These were few enough, to be sure; but as we always 
fell back upon Blood, she had as wide a field for abstract 
speculation as her nephew himself. 

We might have been a party of Ogres, the 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 way, but give me Blood!』 

『Oh! There is nothing,』 observed Hamlet』s aunt, 『so satisfactory 

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to one! There is nothing that is so much one』s beau-ideal of—of all 
that sort of thing, speaking generally. There are some low minds 
(not many, I am happy to believe, but there are some) that would 
prefer to do what I should call bow down before idols. Positively 
Idols! Before service, intellect, and 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 chin, and we say, 「There 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 legs, who had taken Agnes 
down, stated the question more decisively yet, I thought. 

『Oh, you know, deuce take it,』 said this gentleman, looking 
round the board with an imbecile smile, 『we can』t forego Blood, 
you know. We must have Blood, you know. Some young fellows, 
you know, may be a little behind their station, perhaps, in point of 
education and behaviour, and may go a little wrong, you know, 
and get themselves and other people into a variety of fixes—and 
all that—but deuce take it, it』s delightful to reflect that they』ve got 
Blood in 』em! Myself, I』d rather at any time be knocked down by a 
man who had got Blood in him, than I』d be picked up by a man 
who hadn』t!』 

This sentiment, as compressing the general question into a 
nutshell, gave the utmost satisfaction, and brought the gentleman 
into great notice until the ladies retired. After that, I observed that 
Mr. Gulpidge and Mr. Henry Spiker, who had hitherto been very 
distant, entered into a defensive alliance against us, the common 
enemy, and 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 expected, Spiker,』 said 

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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 eyebrows, and looked much concerned. 

『When the question was referred to Lord—I needn』t name him,』 
said Mr. Gulpidge, checking himself— 

『I understand,』 said Mr. Spiker, 『N.』 

Mr. Gulpidge darkly nodded—『was referred to him, his answer 
was, 「Money, or no release.」』 

『Lord bless my soul!』 cried Mr. Spiker. 

「『Money, or no release,」』 repeated Mr. Gulpidge, firmly. 『The 
next in reversion—you understand me?』 

『K.,』 said Mr. Spiker, with an ominous look. 

『—K. then positively refused to sign. He was attended at 
Newmarket for that purpose, and he point-blank refused to do it.』 

Mr. Spiker was so interested, that he became quite stony. 

『So the matter rests at this hour,』 said Mr. Gulpidge, throwing 
himself back in his chair. 『Our friend Waterbrook will excuse me if 
I forbear to explain myself generally, on account of the magnitude 
of the interests involved.』 

Mr. Waterbrook was only too happy, as it appeared to me, to 
have such interests, and such names, even hinted at, across 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. 
Spiker, after the receipt of such a confidence, naturally desired to 
favour his friend with a confidence of his own; therefore the 
foregoing dialogue was succeeded by another, in which it was Mr. 
Gulpidge』s turn to be surprised, and that by another in which the 

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surprise came round to Mr. Spiker』s turn again, and so on, turn 
and turn about. All this time we, the outsiders, remained 
oppressed by the tremendous interests involved in the 
conversation; and our host regarded us with pride, as the victims 
of a salutary awe and astonishment. I was very glad indeed to get 
upstairs to Agnes, and to talk with her in a corner, and to 
introduce Traddles to her, who was shy, but agreeable, and the 
same good-natured creature still. As he was obliged to leave early, 
on account of going away next morning for a month, I had not 
nearly so much conversation with him as I could have wished; but 
we exchanged addresses, and promised ourselves the pleasure of 
another meeting when he should come back to town. He was 
greatly interested to hear that I knew Steerforth, and spoke of him 
with such warmth that I made him tell Agnes what he thought of 
him. But Agnes only looked at me the while, and 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 home, I was almost glad to hear that she was 
going away within a few days, though 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 her, and hearing her 
sing, was such a delightful reminder to me of my happy life in the 
grave old house she had made so beautiful, that I could have 
remained there half the night; but, having no excuse for staying 
any longer, when the lights of Mr. Waterbrook』s society were all 
snuffed out, I took my leave very much against my inclination. I 
felt then, more than ever, that she was my better Angel; and if I 
thought of her sweet face and placid smile, as though they had 
shone on me from some removed being, like an Angel, I hope I 

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thought no harm. 

I have said that the company were all gone; but I ought to have 
excepted Uriah, whom I don』t include in that denomination, and 
who had never ceased to hover near us. He was close behind me 
when I went downstairs. He was close beside me, when I walked 
away from the house, slowly 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 company, but in 
remembrance of the entreaty Agnes had made to me, that I asked 
him if he would come home to my rooms, and have some coffee. 

『Oh, really, Master Copperfield,』 he rejoined—『I beg your 
pardon, Mister Copperfield, but the other comes so natural, I 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 to, very much,』 replied Uriah, with a writhe. 

『Well, then, come along!』 said I. 

I could not help being rather short with him, but he appeared 
not to mind it. We went the nearest way, without conversing much 
upon the road; and he was so humble in respect of those 
scarecrow gloves, that he was still putting them on, and seemed to 
have made no advance in that labour, when we got to my place. 

I led him up the dark stairs, to prevent his knocking his head 
against anything, and really his damp cold hand felt so like a frog 
in mine, that I was tempted to drop it and run away. Agnes and 
hospitality prevailed, however, and I conducted him to my fireside. 
When I lighted my candles, he 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 

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prepare it (chiefly, I believe, because it was not intended for the 
purpose, being a shaving-pot, and because there was a patent 
invention of great price mouldering away in the pantry), he 
professed so much emotion, that I could joyfully have scalded him. 

『Oh, really, Master Copperfield,—I mean Mister Copperfield,』 
said Uriah, 『to see you waiting upon me is what I never could have 
expected! But, one way and another, so many things happen to me 
which I never could have expected, I am sure, in my umble station, 
that it seems to rain blessings on my ed. You have heard 
something, I des-say, of a change in my expectations, Master 
Copperfield,—I should say, Mister Copperfield?』 

As he sat on my sofa, with his long knees drawn up under his 
coffee-cup, his hat and gloves upon the ground close to him, his 
spoon going softly round and round, his shadowless red eyes, 
which looked as if they had scorched their lashes off, turned 
towards me without looking at me, the disagreeable dints I have 
formerly described in his nostrils coming and going with his 
breath, and a snaky undulation pervading his frame from his chin 
to his boots, I decided in my own mind that I disliked him 
intensely. It made me very uncomfortable to have him for a guest, 
for I was young then, and unused to disguise what I so strongly 
felt. 

『You have heard something, I des-say, of a change in my 

expectations, Master Copperfield,—I should say, Mister 
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. Oh, thank you, 
Master—Mister Copperfield!』 

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I could have thrown my bootjack at him (it lay ready on the 
rug), for having entrapped me into the disclosure of anything 
concerning Agnes, however immaterial. But I only drank my 
coffee. 

『What a prophet you have shown yourself, Mister Copperfield!』 
pursued Uriah. 『Dear me, what a prophet you have proved 
yourself to be! Don』t you remember saying to me once, that 
perhaps I should be a partner in Mr. Wickfield』s business, and 
perhaps it might be Wickfield and Heep? You may not recollect it; 
but when a person is umble, Master Copperfield, a 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 likely, Mister Copperfield!』 
returned Uriah, enthusiastically. 『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 sat, with that carved grin on his face, looking at the fire, as I 
looked at him. 

『But the umblest persons, Master Copperfield,』 he presently 
resumed, 『may be the instruments of good. I am glad to think I 
have been the instrument of good to Mr. Wickfield, and that I may 
be more so. Oh what a worthy man he is, Mister Copperfield, but 
how imprudent he has been!』 

『I am sorry to hear it,』 said I. I could not help adding, rather 
pointedly, 『on all accounts.』 

『Decidedly so, Mister Copperfield,』 replied Uriah. 『On all 
accounts. Miss Agnes』s above all! You don』t remember your own 
eloquent expressions, Master Copperfield; but I remember how 

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you said one day that everybody must admire her, and how I 
thanked you for it! You have forgot that, I have no doubt, Master 
Copperfield?』 

『No,』 said I, drily. 

『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 breast, and 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 
sparks, and something in the glance he directed at me as he said it, 
had made me start as if I had seen him illuminated by a blaze of 
light. Recalled by his request, preferred in quite another tone of 
voice, I did the honours of the shaving-pot; but I did them with an 
unsteadiness of hand, a sudden sense of being no match for him, 
and a perplexed suspicious anxiety as to what he might be going to 
say next, which I felt could not escape his observation. 

He said nothing at all. He stirred his coffee round and round, he 
sipped it, he felt his chin softly with his grisly hand, he looked at 
the fire, he looked about the room, he gasped rather than smiled at 
me, he writhed and undulated about, in his deferential servility, he 
stirred and sipped again, but he left the renewal of the 
conversation to me. 

『So, Mr. Wickfield,』 said I, at last, 『who is worth five hundred of 
you—or me』; for my life, I think, I could not have helped dividing 
that part of the sentence with an awkward jerk; 『has been 
imprudent, has he, Mr. Heep?』 

『Oh, very imprudent indeed, Master Copperfield,』 returned 
Uriah, sighing modestly. 『Oh, very much so! But I wish you』d call 
me Uriah, if you please. It』s like old times.』 

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『Well! Uriah,』 said I, bolting it out with some difficulty. 

『Thank you,』 he returned, with fervour. 『Thank you, Master 
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! Yes, truly,』 said Uriah. 『Ah! Great imprudence, Master 
Copperfield. It』s a topic that I wouldn』t touch upon, to any soul but 
you. Even to you I can only touch upon it, and no more. If anyone 
else had been in my place during the last few years, by this time he 
would have had Mr. Wickfield (oh, what a worthy man he is, 
Master Copperfield, too!) under his thumb. Un—der—his thumb,』 
said Uriah, very slowly, as he stretched out his cruel-looking hand 
above my table, and pressed his own thumb upon it, until it shook, 
and shook the room. 

If I had been obliged to look at him with him splay foot on Mr. 
Wickfield』s head, I think I could scarcely have hated him more. 

『Oh, dear, yes, Master Copperfield,』 he proceeded, in a soft 
voice, most remarkably contrasting with the action of his thumb, 
which did not diminish its hard pressure in the least degree, 
『there』s no doubt of it. There would have been loss, disgrace, I 
don』t know what at all. Mr. Wickfield knows it. I am the umble 
instrument of umbly serving him, and he puts me on an eminence 
I hardly could have hoped to reach. How thankful should I be!』 
With his face turned towards me, as he finished, but without 
looking at me, he took his crooked thumb off the spot where he 
had planted it, and slowly and thoughtfully scraped his lank jaw 
with it, as if he were shaving himself. 

I recollect well how indignantly my heart beat, as I saw his 

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crafty face, with 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 you, Master Copperfield! I have risen from my umble 
station since first you used to address me, it is true; but I am 
umble still. I hope I never shall be otherwise than umble. You will 
not think the worse of my umbleness, if I make a little confidence 
to you, Master Copperfield? Will you?』 

『Oh no,』 said I, with an effort. 

『Thank you!』 He took out his pocket-handkerchief, and began 
wiping the palms of his hands. 『Miss Agnes, Master Copperfield—』 

『Well, Uriah?』 

『Oh, how pleasant to be called Uriah, spontaneously!』 he cried; 
and gave himself a jerk, like a convulsive fish. 『You thought her 
looking very beautiful tonight, Master Copperfield?』 

『I thought her looking as she always does: superior, in all 
respects, to everyone around her,』 I returned. 

『Oh, thank you! It』s so true!』 he cried. 『Oh, thank you very much 
for that!』 

『Not at all,』 I said, loftily. 『There is no reason why you should 
thank me.』 

『Why that, Master Copperfield,』 said Uriah, 『is, in fact, the 
confidence that I am going to take the liberty of reposing. Umble 
as I am,』 he wiped his hands harder, and looked at them and at the 
fire by turns, 』umble as my mother is, and lowly as our poor but 
honest roof has ever been, the image of Miss Agnes (I don』t mind 
trusting you with my secret, Master Copperfield, for I have always 
overflowed towards you since the first moment I had the pleasure 

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of beholding you in a pony-shay) has been in my breast for years. 
Oh, Master Copperfield, with 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 fire, and running him through with it. It went from me with 
a shock, like 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 him, sitting all awry as if 
his mean soul griped his body, and 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 which, perhaps, no one is 
quite a stranger) that all this had occurred before, at some 
indefinite time, and 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 
face, did more to bring back to my remembrance the entreaty of 
Agnes, in its full force, than any effort I could have made. I asked 
him, with a better appearance of composure than I could have 
thought possible a minute before, whether he had made his 
feelings known to Agnes. 

『Oh no, Master Copperfield!』 he returned; 『oh dear, no! 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 him, and keep him 
straight. She』s so much attached to her father, Master Copperfield 
(oh, what a lovely thing it is in a daughter!), that I think she may 
come, on his account, to be kind to me.』 

I fathomed the depth of the rascal』s whole scheme, and 

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understood why he laid it bare. 

『If you』ll have the goodness to keep my secret, Master 
Copperfield,』 he pursued, 『and not, in general, to 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 say, for I am very umble still), you might, unbeknown, go 
against me rather, with my Agnes. I call her mine, you see, Master 
Copperfield. There』s a song that says, 「I』d crowns resign, to call 
her mine!」 I hope to do it, one of these days.』 

Dear Agnes! So much too loving and too good for anyone that I 
could think of, was it possible that she was reserved to be the wife 
of such a wretch as this! 

『There』s no hurry at present, you know, Master Copperfield,』 
Uriah proceeded, in his slimy way, as I sat gazing at him, with this 
thought in my mind. 『My Agnes is very young still; and mother and 
me will have to work our way upwards, and make a good many 
new arrangements, before it would be quite convenient. So I shall 
have time gradually to make her familiar with my hopes, as 
opportunities offer. Oh, I』m so much obliged to you for this 
confidence! Oh, it』s such a relief, you can』t think, to know that you 
understand our situation, and 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 withhold, and having given 
it a damp squeeze, referred to his pale-faced watch. 

『Dear me!』 he said, 『it』s past one. The moments slip away so, in 
the confidence of old times, Master Copperfield, that it』s almost 
half past one!』 

I answered that I had thought it was later. Not that I had really 

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thought so, but because my conversational powers were 
effectually scattered. 

『Dear me!』 he said, considering. 『The ouse that I am stopping 
at—a sort of a private hotel and boarding ouse, Master 
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 here, and 
that I—』 

『Oh, don』t think of mentioning beds, Master Copperfield!』 he 
rejoined ecstatically, drawing 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 bed, and I』ll lie down 
before the fire.』 

His repudiation of this offer was almost shrill enough, in the 
excess of its surprise and humility, to have penetrated to the ears 
of Mrs. Crupp, then sleeping, I suppose, in a distant chamber, 
situated at about the level of low-water mark, soothed in her 
slumbers by the ticking of an incorrigible clock, to which she 
always referred me when we had any little difference on the score 
of punctuality, and which was never less than three-quarters of an 
hour too slow, and had always been put right in the morning by 
the best authorities. As no arguments I could urge, in my 
bewildered condition, had the least effect upon his modesty in 
inducing him to accept my bedroom, I was obliged to make the 
best arrangements I could, for his repose before the fire. The 
mattress of the sofa (which was a great deal too short for his lank 
figure), the sofa pillows, a blanket, the table-cover, a clean 
breakfast-cloth, and a great-coat, made him a bed and covering, 
for which he was more than thankful. Having lent him a night-cap, 

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which he put on at once, and in which he made such an awful 
figure, that I have never worn one since, I 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 do, and what ought I 
to do; how I could come to no other conclusion than that the best 
course for her peace was to do nothing, and to keep to myself what 
I had heard. If I went to sleep for a few moments, the image of 
Agnes with her tender eyes, and of her father looking fondly on 
her, as I had so often seen him look, arose before me with 
appealing faces, and filled me with vague terrors. When I awoke, 
the recollection that Uriah was lying in the next room, sat heavy 
on me like a waking nightmare; and oppressed me with a leaden 
dread, as if I had had some meaner quality of devil for a lodger. 

The poker got into my dozing thoughts besides, and wouldn』t 
come out. I thought, between sleeping and waking, that it was still 
red hot, and I had snatched it out of the fire, and run him through 
the body. I was so haunted at last by the idea, though I knew there 
was nothing in it, that I stole into the next room to look at him. 
There I saw him, lying on his back, with his legs extending to I 
don』t know where, gurglings taking place in his throat, stoppages 
in his nose, and his mouth open like a post-office. He was so much 
worse in reality than in my distempered fancy, that afterwards I 
was attracted to him in very repulsion, and could not help 
wandering in and out every half-hour or so, and taking another 
look at him. Still, the long, long night seemed heavy and hopeless 
as ever, and no promise of day was in the murky sky. 

When I saw him going downstairs early in the morning (for, 
thank Heaven! he would not stay to breakfast), it appeared to me 

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as if the night was going away in his person. When I went out to 
the Commons, I charged Mrs. Crupp with particular directions to 
leave the windows open, that my sitting-room might be aired, and 
purged of his presence. 

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Chapter 26 

I FALL INTO CAPTIVITY 

Isaw no more of Uriah Heep, until the day when Agnes left 
town. I was at the coach office to take leave of her and see her 
go; and there was he, returning to Canterbury by the same 
conveyance. It was some small satisfaction to me to observe his 
spare, short-waisted, high-shouldered, mulberry-coloured greatcoat perched up, in company with an umbrella like a small tent, on 
the edge of the back seat on the roof, while Agnes was, of course, 
inside; but what I underwent in my efforts to be friendly with him, 
while Agnes looked on, perhaps deserved that little recompense. 
At the coach window, as at the dinner-party, he hovered about us 
without a moment』s intermission, like a great vulture: gorging 
himself on every syllable that I said to Agnes, or Agnes said to me. 

In the state of trouble into which his disclosure by my fire had 
thrown me, I 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 made, I entreated him to make it.』 A miserable 
foreboding that she would yield to, and sustain herself by, the 
same feeling in reference to any sacrifice for his sake, had 
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 errors, and 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 

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the mulberry-coloured great-coat, for I felt that in the very 
difference between them, in the self-denial of her pure soul and 
the sordid baseness of his, the greatest danger lay. All this, 
doubtless, he knew thoroughly, and had, in his cunning, 
considered well. 

Yet I was so certain that the prospect of such a sacrifice afar off, 
must destroy the happiness of Agnes; and I was so sure, from her 
manner, of its being unseen by her then, and having cast no 
shadow on her yet; that I could as soon have injured her, as 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 roof, as 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 arrival, I was as 
miserable as when I saw her going away. Whenever I fell into a 
thoughtful state, this subject was sure to present itself, and all my 
uneasiness was sure to be redoubled. Hardly a night passed 
without my dreaming of it. It became a part of my life, and as 
inseparable from my life as my own head. 

I had ample leisure to refine upon my uneasiness: for 
Steerforth was at Oxford, as he wrote to me, and when I was not at 
the Commons, I 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 his, but I think I was glad, upon the 
whole, that he could not come to London just then. I suspect the 
truth to be, that the influence of Agnes was upon me, undisturbed 
by the sight of him; and that it was the more powerful with me, 
because she had so large a share in my thoughts and interest. 

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In the meantime, days 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 evening, and the evenings long, I could 
settle down into a state of equable low spirits, and resign myself to 
coffee; which I seem, on looking back, to have taken by the gallon 
at about this period of my existence. At about this time, too, I 
made three discoveries: first, that Mrs. Crupp was a martyr to a 
curious disorder called 『the spazzums』, which was generally 
accompanied with inflammation of the nose, and required to be 
constantly treated with peppermint; secondly, that something 
peculiar in the temperature of my pantry, made the brandy-bottles 
burst; thirdly, that I was alone in the world, and much given to 
record that circumstance in fragments of English versification. 

On the day when I was articled, no festivity took place, beyond 
my having sandwiches and sherry into the office for the clerks, 
and going alone to the theatre at night. I went to see The Stranger, 
as a Doctors』 Commons sort of play, and was so dreadfully cut up, 
that I hardly knew myself in my own glass when I got home. Mr. 
Spenlow remarked, on this occasion, when we concluded our 
business, that he should have been happy to have seen me at his 
house at Norwood to celebrate our becoming connected, but for 
his domestic arrangements being in some disorder, on 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 daughter, and expressed my 
acknowledgements. 

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Mr. Spenlow was as good as his word. In a week or two, he 
referred to this engagement, and said, that if I would do him the 
favour to come down next Saturday, and stay till Monday, he 
would be extremely happy. Of course I said I would do him the 
favour; and he was to drive me down in his phaeton, and to bring 
me back. 

When the day arrived, my very carpet-bag was an object of 
veneration to the stipendiary clerks, to 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 draught, after 
the usual custom of table-beer. The old clerk with the wig, whose 
name was Mr. Tiffey, had been down on business several times in 
the course of his career, and had on each occasion penetrated to 
the breakfast-parlour. He described it as an apartment of the most 
sumptuous nature, and said that he had drunk brown East India 
sherry there, of 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 Crusoe, according to a calculation I made, it was rather 
late in the day before we finished. However, we got him 
excommunicated for six weeks, and sentenced in no end of costs; 
and then the baker』s proctor, and the judge, and the advocates on 
both sides (who were all nearly related), went out of town together, 
and 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 

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Commons on all points of display, and it turned out some very 
choice equipages then; though I always have considered, and 
always shall consider, that 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 pleasant, going down, and Mr. Spenlow gave me 
some hints in reference to my profession. He said it was the 
genteelest profession in the world, and must on no account be 
confounded with the profession of a solicitor: being quite another 
sort of thing, infinitely more exclusive, less mechanical, and more 
profitable. We took things much more easily in the Commons than 
they could be taken anywhere else, he observed, and that set us, as 
a privileged class, apart. He said it was impossible to conceal the 
disagreeable fact, that 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 replied, that a good case of a disputed 
will, where there was a neat little estate of thirty or forty thousand 
pounds, was, perhaps, the best of all. In such a case, he said, not 
only were there very pretty pickings, in the way of arguments at 
every stage of the proceedings, and mountains upon mountains of 
evidence on interrogatory and counter-interrogatory (to say 
nothing of an appeal lying, first to the Delegates, and then to the 
Lords), but, the costs being pretty sure to come out of the estate at 
last, both sides went at it in a lively and spirited manner, and 
expense was no consideration. Then, he launched into a general 
eulogium on the Commons. What was to be particularly admired 
(he said) in the Commons, was its compactness. It was the most 

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conveniently organized place in the world. It was the complete 
idea of snugness. It lay in a nutshell. For example: You brought a 
divorce case, or a restitution case, into the Consistory. Very good. 
You tried it in the Consistory. You made a quiet little round game 
of it, among a family group, and you played it out at leisure. 
Suppose you were not satisfied with the Consistory, what did you 
do then? Why, you went into the Arches. What was the Arches? 
The same court, in the same room, with the same bar, and the 
same practitioners, but another judge, for there the Consistory 
judge could plead any court-day as an advocate. Well, you played 
your round game out again. Still you were not satisfied. Very good. 
What did you do then? Why, you went to the Delegates. Who were 
the Delegates? Why, the Ecclesiastical Delegates were the 
advocates without any business, who had looked on at the round 
game when it was playing in both courts, and had seen the cards 
shuffled, and cut, and played, and had talked to all the players 
about it, and now came fresh, as judges, to settle the matter to the 
satisfaction of everybody! Discontented people might talk of 
corruption in the Commons, closeness in the Commons, and the 
necessity of reforming the Commons, said Mr. Spenlow solemnly, 
in conclusion; but when the price of wheat per bushel had been 
highest, the Commons had been busiest; and a man might lay his 
hand upon his heart, and say this to the whole world,—『Touch the 
Commons, and down comes the country!』 

I listened to all this with attention; and though, I must say, I had 
my doubts whether the country was quite as much obliged to the 
Commons as Mr. Spenlow made out, I respectfully deferred to his 
opinion. That about the price of wheat per bushel, I modestly felt 
was too much for my strength, and quite settled the question. I 

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have never, to this hour, got the better of that bushel of wheat. It 
has reappeared to annihilate me, all through my life, in connexion 
with all kinds of subjects. I don』t know now, exactly, what it has to 
do with me, or what right it has to crush me, on an infinite variety 
of occasions; but whenever I see my old friend the bushel brought 
in by the head and shoulders (as he always is, I observe), I give up 
a subject for lost. 

This is a digression. I was not the man to touch the Commons, 
and bring down the country. I submissively expressed, by my 
silence, my acquiescence in all I had heard from my superior in 
years and knowledge; and we talked about 「The Stranger」 and the 
Drama, and the pairs of horses, until 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 garden, it was so 
beautifully kept, that I was quite enchanted. There was a 
charming lawn, there were clusters of trees, and there were 
perspective walks that I could just distinguish in the dark, arched 
over with trellis-work, on which shrubs and flowers grew in the 
growing season. 『Here Miss Spenlow walks by herself,』 I thought. 
『Dear me!』 

We went into the house, which was cheerfully lighted up, and 
into a hall where there were all sorts of hats, caps, great-coats, 
plaids, gloves, whips, and 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-room, made memorable by the brown East Indian 
sherry), and I heard a voice say, 『Mr. Copperfield, my daughter 

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Dora, and my daughter Dora』s confidential friend!』 It was, no 
doubt, Mr. Spenlow』s voice, but I didn』t know it, and 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 Fairy, a Sylph, I 
don』t know what she was—anything that no one ever saw, and 
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 gone, headlong, before I had 
sense to say a word to her. 

『I,』 observed a well-remembered voice, when I had bowed and 
murmured something, 『have seen Mr. Copperfield before.』 

The speaker was not Dora. No; the confidential friend, Miss 
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 world, but Dora 
Spenlow, to be astonished about. I said, 『How do you do, Miss 
Murdstone? I hope you are well.』 She answered, 『Very well.』 I said, 
『How is Mr. Murdstone?』 She replied, 『My brother is robust, I am 
obliged to you.』 

Mr. Spenlow, who, I suppose, had been surprised to see us 
recognize each other, then put in his word. 

『I am glad to find,』 he said, 『Copperfield, that you and Miss 
Murdstone are already acquainted.』 

『Mr. Copperfield and myself,』 said Miss Murdstone, with 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.』 

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I replied that I should have known her, anywhere. 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 having, unhappily, 
no mother, Miss Murdstone is obliging enough to become her 
companion and protector.』 

A passing thought occurred to me that Miss Murdstone, like the 
pocket instrument called a life-preserver, was not so much 
designed for purposes of protection as of assault. But as I had 
none but passing thoughts for any subject save Dora, I glanced at 
her, directly afterwards, and was thinking that I saw, in her 
prettily pettish manner, that she was not very much inclined to be 
particularly confidential to her companion and protector, when a 
bell rang, which Mr. Spenlow said was the first dinner-bell, and so 
carried me off to dress. 

The idea of dressing one』s self, or doing anything in the way of 
action, in that state of love, was a little too ridiculous. I could only 
sit down before my fire, biting the key of my carpet-bag, and think 
of the captivating, girlish, bright-eyed lovely Dora. What a form 
she had, what a face she had, what a graceful, variable, enchanting 
manner! 

The bell rang again so soon that I made a mere scramble of my 
dressing, instead of the careful operation I could have wished 
under the circumstances, and 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 bargain, for he 
said so—I was madly jealous of him. 

What a state of mind I was in! I was jealous of everybody. I 

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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 person, with a 
highly polished bald head, asked me across the dinner table, if that 
were the first occasion of my seeing the grounds, I could have 
done anything to him that was savage and revengeful. 

I don』t remember who was there, except Dora. I have not the 
least idea what we had for dinner, besides Dora. My impression is, 
that I dined off Dora, entirely, and sent away half-a-dozen plates 
untouched. I sat next to her. I talked to her. She had the most 
delightful little voice, the gayest little laugh, the pleasantest and 
most fascinating little ways, that ever led a lost youth into hopeless 
slavery. She was rather diminutive altogether. So much the more 
precious, I thought. 

When she went out of the room with Miss Murdstone (no other 
ladies were of the party), I fell into a reverie, only 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 him, but I was wandering in a garden of Eden all the while, with 
Dora. 

My apprehensions of being disparaged to the object of my 
engrossing affection were revived when we went into the drawing-
room, by the grim and distant aspect of Miss Murdstone. But I was 
relieved of them in an unexpected manner. 

『David Copperfield,』 said Miss Murdstone, beckoning me aside 
into a window. 『A word.』 

I confronted Miss Murdstone alone. 

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『David Copperfield,』 said Miss Murdstone, 『I need not enlarge 
upon family circumstances. They are not a tempting subject.』 

『Far from it, ma』am,』 I returned. 

『Far from it,』 assented Miss Murdstone. 『I do not wish to revive 
the memory of past differences, or of past outrages. I have 
received outrages from a person—a female I am sorry to say, for 
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 better, if Miss Murdstone pleased, not to mention her. 
I could not hear her disrespectfully mentioned, I added, without 
expressing my opinion in a decided tone. 

Miss Murdstone shut her eyes, and disdainfully inclined her 
head; then, slowly opening her eyes, resumed: 

『David Copperfield, I shall not attempt to disguise the fact, that 
I formed an unfavourable opinion of you in your childhood. It may 
have been a mistaken one, or you may have ceased to justify it. 
That is not in question between us now. I belong to a family 
remarkable, I believe, for 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 head, in my turn. 

『But it is not necessary,』 said Miss Murdstone, 『that these 
opinions should come into collision here. Under existing 
circumstances, it is as well on all accounts that they should not. As 
the chances of life have brought us together again, and may bring 
us together on other occasions, I would say, let us meet here as 
distant acquaintances. Family circumstances are a sufficient 
reason for our only meeting on that footing, and it is quite 

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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 cruelly, and treated my mother with great 
unkindness. I shall always think so, as long as I live. But I quite 
agree in what you propose.』 

Miss Murdstone shut her eyes again, and bent her head. Then, 
just touching the back of my hand with the tips of her cold, stiff 
fingers, she walked away, arranging the little fetters on her wrists 
and round her neck; which seemed to be the same set, in exactly 
the same state, as when I had seen her last. These reminded me, in 
reference to Miss Murdstone』s nature, of the fetters over a jail 
door; suggesting on the outside, to all beholders, what was to be 
expected within. 

All I know of the rest of the evening is, that I heard the empress 
of my heart sing enchanted ballads in the French language, 
generally to the effect that, whatever was the matter, we ought 
always to dance, Ta ra la, Ta ra la! accompanying herself on a 
glorified instrument, resembling 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 away, she 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 mind, and got up in a crisis of feeble infatuation. 

It was a fine morning, and early, and I thought I would go and 
take a stroll down one of those wire-arched walks, and indulge my 
passion by dwelling on her image. On my way through the hall, I 
encountered her little dog, who was called Jip—short for Gipsy. I 

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approached him tenderly, for I loved even him; but he showed his 
whole set of teeth, got under a chair expressly to snarl, and 
wouldn』t hear of the least familiarity. 

The garden was cool and solitary. I walked about, wondering 
what my feelings of happiness would be, if I could ever become 
engaged to this dear wonder. As to marriage, and fortune, and all 
that, I believe I was almost as innocently undesigning then, as 
when I loved little Em』ly. To be allowed to call her 『Dora』, to write 
to her, to dote upon and worship her, to have reason to think that 
when she was with other people she was yet mindful of me, 
seemed 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 
this, that prevents my having quite a contemptuous recollection of 
it, let me laugh as I may. 

I had not been walking long, when I turned a corner, and met 
her. I tingle again from head to foot as my recollection turns that 
corner, and my pen shakes in my hand. 

『You—are—out early, Miss 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 aired, before I come out. Aired!』 (She laughed, here, in 
the most melodious manner.) 『On a Sunday morning, when I don』t 
practise, I must do something. So I told papa last night I must 
come out. Besides, it』s the brightest time of the whole day. Don』t 
you think so?』 

I hazarded a bold flight, and said (not without stammering) that 
it was very bright to me then, though it had been very dark to me a 
minute before. 

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『Do you mean a compliment?』 said Dora, 『or that the weather 
has really changed?』 

I stammered worse than before, in replying that I meant no 
compliment, but 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 feelings, I added bashfully: to clench the explanation. 

I never saw such curls—how could I, for 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 curls, if I could 
only have hung it up in my room in Buckingham Street, what 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 go, that she should think it possible 
I could go, was insupportable. I depreciated Paris; I depreciated 
France. I said I wouldn』t leave England, under existing 
circumstances, for any earthly consideration. Nothing should 
induce me. In short, she was shaking the curls again, when the 
little dog came running along the walk to our relief. 

He was mortally jealous of me, and persisted in barking at me. 
She took him up in her arms—oh my goodness!—and caressed 
him, but 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 nose, while he winked his eyes, and licked 
her hand, and still growled within himself like a little double-bass. 

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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 Murdstone, are you?』 said 
Dora.— 『My pet.』 

(The two last words were to the dog. Oh, if they had only been 
to me!) 

『No,』 I replied. 『Not at all so.』 

『She is a tiresome creature,』 said Dora, pouting. 『I can』t think 
what papa can have been about, when 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 you, Jip, dear?』 

He only winked lazily, when she kissed his ball of a head. 

『Papa calls her my confidential friend, but I am sure she is no 
such thing—is she, Jip? We are not going to confide in any such 
cross people, Jip and I. We mean to bestow our confidence where 
we like, and to find out our own friends, instead of having them 
found out for us—don』t we, Jip?』 

jip made a comfortable noise, in answer, a little like a tea-kettle 
when it sings. As for me, every word was a new heap of fetters, 
riveted above the last. 

『It is very hard, because we have not a kind Mama, that we are 
to have, instead, a sulky, gloomy old thing like Miss Murdstone, 
always following us about—isn』t it, Jip? Never mind, Jip. We won』t 
be confidential, and we』ll make ourselves as happy as we can in 
spite of her, and we』ll tease her, and not please her—won』t we, 
Jip?』 

If it had lasted any longer, I think I must have gone down on my 
knees on the gravel, with the probability before me of grazing 

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them, and of being presently ejected from the premises besides. 
But, by good fortune the greenhouse was not far off, and these 
words brought us to it. 

It contained quite a show of beautiful geraniums. We loitered 
along in front of them, and Dora often stopped to admire this one 
or that one, and I stopped to admire the same one, and Dora, 
laughing, held the dog up childishly, to smell the flowers; and if we 
were not all three in Fairyland, certainly I was. The scent of a 
geranium leaf, at this day, strikes 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 ribbons, and a quantity of 
curls, and a little black dog being held up, in two slender arms, 
against a bank of blossoms and bright leaves. 

Miss Murdstone had been looking for us. She found us here; 
and presented her uncongenial cheek, the little wrinkles in it filled 
with hair powder, to Dora to be kissed. Then she took Dora』s arm 
in hers, and marched us into breakfast as if it were a soldier』s 
funeral. 

How many cups of tea I drank, because Dora made it, I don』t 
know. But, I perfectly remember that I sat swilling tea until my 
whole nervous system, if I had had any in those days, must 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 sing, and 
the congregation vanished. A sermon was delivered—about Dora, 
of course—and I am afraid that is all I know of the service. 

We had a quiet day. No company, a walk, a family dinner of 
four, and an evening of looking over books and pictures; Miss 
Murdstone with a homily before her, and her eye upon us, keeping 
guard vigilantly. Ah! little did Mr. Spenlow imagine, when he sat 

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opposite to me after dinner that day, with his pocket-handkerchief 
over his head, how fervently I was embracing him, in my fancy, as 
his son-in-law! Little did he think, when I took leave of him at 
night, that he had just given his full consent to my being engaged 
to Dora, and that I was invoking blessings on his head! 

We departed early in the morning, for we had a Salvage case 
coming on in the Admiralty Court, requiring a rather accurate 
knowledge of the whole science of navigation, in which (as we 
couldn』t be expected to know much about those matters in the 
Commons) the judge had entreated two old Trinity Masters, for 
charity』s sake, to come and help him out. Dora was at the 
breakfast-table to make the tea again, however; and I had the 
melancholy pleasure of taking off my hat to her in the phaeton, as 
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 mind, as I listened to it; how I saw 『DORA』 
engraved upon the blade of the silver oar which they lay upon the 
table, as 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 myself, 
and 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 itself, and present in any visible form 
the daydreams I have had in it about Dora, it would reveal my 
truth. 

I don』t mean the dreams that I dreamed on that day alone, but 
day after day, from week to week, and term to term. I went there, 
not to attend to what was going on, but to think about Dora. If ever 
I bestowed a thought upon the cases, as they dragged their slow 

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length before me, it was only to wonder, in the matrimonial cases 
(remembering Dora), how it was that married people could ever be 
otherwise than happy; and, in the Prerogative cases, to consider, if 
the money in question had been left to me, what were the foremost 
steps I should immediately have taken in regard to Dora. Within 
the first week of my passion, I 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 streets, and 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 feet, they would show what the state of my heart 
was, in a most affecting manner. 

And yet, wretched cripple as I made myself by this act of 
homage to Dora, I 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 beat, but I pervaded London 
likewise. I walked about the streets where the best shops for ladies 
were, I haunted the Bazaar like an unquiet spirit, I fagged through 
the Park again and again, long after I was quite knocked up. 
Sometimes, at long intervals and on rare occasions, I saw her. 
Perhaps I saw her glove waved in a carriage window; perhaps I 
met her, walked with her and Miss Murdstone a little way, and 
spoke to her. In the latter case I was always very miserable 
afterwards, to think that I had said nothing to the purpose; or that 
she had no idea of the extent of my devotion, or that she cared 
nothing about me. I was always looking out, as may be supposed, 
for another invitation to Mr. Spenlow』s house. I was always being 
disappointed, for I got none. 

Mrs. Crupp must have been a woman of penetration; for when 

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this attachment was but a few weeks old, and I had not had the 
courage to write more explicitly even to Agnes, than 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 
penetration, for, even in that early stage, she found it out. She 
came up to me one evening, when I was very low, to 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 cloves, which was the 
best remedy for her complaint;—or, if I had not such a thing by 
me, with a little brandy, which was the next best. It was not, she 
remarked, so palatable to her, but it was the next best. As I had 
never even heard of the first remedy, and always had the second 
in the closet, I gave Mrs. Crupp a glass of the second, which (that I 
might have no suspicion of its being devoted to any improper use) 
she began to take in my presence. 

『Cheer up, sir,』 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. Crupp, as benignly as was in my power. 

『Come, sir,』 said Mrs. Crupp. 『Excuse me. I know what it is, sir. 
There』s a lady in the case.』 

『Mrs. Crupp?』 I returned, reddening. 

『Oh, bless you! Keep a good heart, sir!』 said Mrs. Crupp, 
nodding encouragement. 『Never say die, sir! If She don』t smile 
upon you, there』s a many as will. You are a young gentleman to be 
smiled on, Mr. Copperfull, and you must learn your walue, sir.』 

Mrs. Crupp always called me Mr. Copperfull: firstly, no doubt, 
because it was not my name; and secondly, I am inclined to think, 

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in some indistinct association with a washing-day. 

『What makes you suppose there is any young lady in the case, 
Mrs. Crupp?』 said I. 

『Mr. Copperfull,』 said Mrs. Crupp, with a great deal of feeling, 
『I』m a mother myself.』 

For some time Mrs. Crupp could only lay her hand upon her 
nankeen bosom, and 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 aunt, Mr. 
Copperfull,』 said Mrs. Crupp, 『my remark were, I had now found 
summun I could care for. 「Thank Ev』in!」 were the expression, 「I 
have now found summun I can care for!」—You don』t eat enough, 
sir, nor yet drink.』 

『Is that what you found your supposition on, Mrs. Crupp?』 said 

I. 
『Sir,』 said Mrs. Crupp, in a tone approaching to severity, 『I』ve 
laundressed other young gentlemen besides yourself. A young 
gentleman may be over-careful of himself, or he may be under-
careful of himself. He may brush his hair too regular, or too unregular. He may wear his boots much too large for him, or much 
too small. That is according as the young gentleman has his 
original character formed. But let him go to which extreme he 
may, sir, there』s a young lady in both of 』em.』 

Mrs. Crupp shook her head in such a determined manner, that 
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 directly, though much swelled by drinking.』 

『Mrs. Crupp,』 said I, 『I must beg you not to connect the young 

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lady in my case with a barmaid, or anything of that sort, if you 
please.』 

『Mr. Copperfull,』 returned Mrs. Crupp, 『I』m a mother myself, 
and not likely. I ask your pardon, sir, if I intrude. I should never 
wish to intrude where I were not welcome. But you are a young 
gentleman, Mr. Copperfull, and my adwice to you is, to cheer up, 
sir, to keep a good heart, and to know your own walue. If you was 
to take to something, sir,』 said Mrs. Crupp, 『if you was to take to 
skittles, now, which is healthy, you might find it divert your mind, 
and do you good.』 

With these words, Mrs. Crupp, affecting 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 entry, 
this counsel certainly presented itself to my mind in the light of a 
slight liberty on Mrs. Crupp』s part; but, at the same time, I was 
content to receive it, in another point of view, as a word to the 
wise, and a warning in future to keep my secret better. 

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Chapter 27 

TOMMY TRADDLES 

It may have been in consequence of Mrs. Crupp』s advice, and, 
perhaps, for no better reason than because there was a 
certain similarity in the sound of the word skittles and 
Traddles, that it came into my head, next day, to go and look after 
Traddles. The time he had mentioned was more than out, and he 
lived in a little street near the Veterinary College at Camden 
Town, which was principally tenanted, as one of our clerks who 
lived in that direction informed me, by gentlemen students, who 
bought live donkeys, and made experiments on those quadrupeds 
in their private apartments. Having obtained from this clerk a 
direction to the academic grove in question, I set out, the same 
afternoon, to visit my old schoolfellow. 

I found that the street was not as desirable a one as I could have 
wished it to be, for the sake of Traddles. The inhabitants appeared 
to have a propensity to throw any little trifles they were not in 
want of, into the road: which not only made it rank and sloppy, but 
untidy too, on account of the cabbage-leaves. The refuse was not 
wholly vegetable either, for I myself saw a shoe, a doubled-up 
saucepan, a black bonnet, and an umbrella, in various stages of 
decomposition, as 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 sought, 
and made it unlike all the other houses in the street—though they 

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were all built on one monotonous pattern, and looked like the 
early copies of a blundering boy who was learning to make houses, 
and 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 
milkman, I 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?』 

『Oh, master says he』ll attend to it immediate,』 was the reply. 

『Because,』 said the milkman, going on as if he had received no 
answer, and speaking, as I judged from his tone, rather for the 
edification of somebody within the house, than 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 long, that I begin to believe it』s run away altogether, 
and never won』t be heerd of. Now, I』m not a going to stand it, you 
know!』 said the milkman, still throwing his voice into the house, 
and glaring down the passage. 

As to his dealing in the mild article of milk, by the by, there 
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 faint, but she seemed 
to me, from the action of her lips, again to murmur that it would 
be attended to immediate. 

『I tell you what,』 said the milkman, looking hard at her for the 
first time, and taking her by the chin, 『are you fond of milk?』 

『Yes, I likes it,』 she replied. 『Good,』 said the milkman. 『Then you 
won』t have none tomorrow. D』ye hear? Not a fragment of milk you 

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won』t have tomorrow.』 

I thought she seemed, upon the whole, relieved by the prospect 
of having any today. The milkman, after shaking his head at her 
darkly, released her chin, and with anything rather than good-will 
opened his can, and deposited the usual quantity in the family jug. 
This done, he went away, muttering, and uttered the cry of his 
trade next door, in 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 affirmative, and again 
the servant echoed it. Upon this, I walked in, and in pursuance of 
the servant』s directions walked upstairs; conscious, as I passed the 
back parlour-door, that 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 me, and gave me welcome, with great 
heartiness, to his little room. It was in the front of the house, and 
extremely neat, though sparely furnished. It was his only room, I 
saw; for there was a sofa-bedstead in it, and his blacking-brushes 
and blacking were among his books—on the top shelf, behind a 
dictionary. His table was covered with papers, and he was hard at 
work in an old coat. I looked at nothing, that I know of, but I saw 
everything, even to the prospect of a church upon his china 
inkstand, as I sat down—and this, too, was a faculty confirmed in 
me in the old Micawber times. Various ingenious arrangements he 
had made, for the disguise of his chest of drawers, and the 

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accommodation of his boots, his shaving-glass, and so forth, 
particularly impressed themselves upon me, as 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 
usage, with 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 I, shaking hands with him again, after I had sat 
down, 『I am delighted to see you.』 

『I am delighted to see you, Copperfield,』 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 Place, and was sure you were thoroughly 
glad to see me, that I gave you this address instead of my address 
at chambers.』 

『Oh! You have chambers?』 said I. 

『Why, I have the fourth of a room and a passage, and 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 temper, and something of his 
old unlucky fortune also, I thought, smiled at me in the smile with 
which he made this explanation. 

『It』s not because I have the least pride, Copperfield, you 
understand,』 said Traddles, 『that I don』t usually give my address 
here. It』s only on account of those who come to me, who might not 
like to come here. For myself, I am fighting my way on in the 
world against difficulties, and it would be ridiculous if I made a 
pretence of doing anything else.』 

『You are reading for the bar, Mr. Waterbrook informed me?』 

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said I. 

『Why, yes,』 said Traddles, rubbing his hands slowly over one 
another. 『I am reading for the bar. The fact is, I have just begun to 
keep my terms, after rather a long delay. It』s some time since I was 
articled, but the payment of that hundred pounds was a great pull. 
A great pull!』 said Traddles, with a wince, as if he had had a tooth 
out. 

『Do you know what I can』t help thinking of, Traddles, as I sit 
here looking at you?』 I asked him. 

『No,』 said he. 

『That sky-blue suit you used to wear.』 

『Lord, to be sure!』 cried Traddles, laughing. 『Tight in the arms 
and legs, you know? Dear me! Well! Those were happy times, 
weren』t they?』 

『I think our schoolmaster might have made them happier, 
without doing any harm to any of us, I acknowledge,』 I returned. 

『Perhaps he might,』 said Traddles. 『But dear me, there 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? Ha, ha, ha! And do you remember when I 
got caned for crying about Mr. Mell? Old Creakle! I should like to 
see him again, too!』 

『He was a brute to you, Traddles,』 said I, indignantly; 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 over, a long while. Old Creakle!』 

『You were brought up by an uncle, then?』 said I. 

『Of course I was!』 said Traddles. 『The one I was always going to 

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write to. And always didn』t, eh! Ha, ha, ha! Yes, I had an uncle 

then. He died soon after I left school.』 

『Indeed!』 

『Yes. He was a retired—what do you call it!—draper—clothmerchant—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 composed, that I 
fancied he must have some other meaning. 

『Oh dear, yes, Copperfield! I mean it,』 replied Traddles. 『It was 
an unfortunate thing, but he didn』t like me at all. He said I wasn』t 
at all what he expected, and so he married his housekeeper.』 

『And what did you do?』 I asked. 

『I didn』t do anything in particular,』 said Traddles. 『I lived with 
them, waiting to be put out in the world, until his gout 
unfortunately flew to his stomach—and so he died, and so she 
married a young man, and so I wasn』t provided for.』 

『Did you get nothing, Traddles, after all?』 

『Oh dear, yes!』 said Traddles. 『I got fifty pounds. I had never 
been brought up to any profession, and at first I was at a loss what 
to do for myself. However, I began, with the assistance of the son 
of a professional man, who had been to Salem House—Yawler, 
with 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 began, by means of his 
assistance, to copy law writings. That didn』t answer very well; and 
then I began to state cases for them, and make abstracts, and that 
sort of work. For I am a plodding kind of fellow, Copperfield, and 
had learnt the way of doing such things pithily. Well! That put it in 

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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 offices, however—Mr. Waterbrook』s for one—and 
I got a good many jobs. I was fortunate enough, too, to become 
acquainted with a person in the publishing way, who was getting 
up an Encyclopaedia, and he set me to work; and, indeed』 
(glancing at his table), 『I am at work for him at this minute. I am 
not a bad compiler, Copperfield,』 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 course, I nodded; and he went on, with the same 
sprightly patience—I can find no better expression—as before. 

『So, by little and little, and not living high, I 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 
Traddles, wincing again as if he had had another tooth out, 『a pull. 
I am living by the sort of work I have mentioned, still, and I hope, 
one of these days, to get connected with some newspaper: which 
would almost be the making of my fortune. Now, Copperfield, you 
are so exactly what you used to be, with that agreeable face, and 
it』s so pleasant to see you, that I sha』n』t conceal anything. 
Therefore you must know that I am engaged.』 

Engaged! Oh, Dora! 

『She is a curate』s daughter,』 said Traddles; 『one of ten, down in 
Devonshire. Yes!』 For he saw me glance, involuntarily, at the 
prospect on the inkstand. 『That』s the church! You come round 
here to the left, out of this gate,』 tracing his finger along the 

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inkstand, 『and exactly where I hold this pen, there stands the 
house—facing, you understand, towards the church.』 

The delight with which he entered into these particulars, did 
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 there, and I walked back, and I had the 
most delightful time! I dare say ours is likely to be a rather long 
engagement, but 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. 

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『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 Traddles, coming back to his chair; 『and 
this is the end of my prosing about myself, I get on as well as I can. 
I don』t make much, but I don』t spend much. In general, I board 
with the people downstairs, who 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 me, as if he wondered what I was talking 
about. 

『Mr. and Mrs. Micawber!』 I repeated. 『Why, I am intimately 
acquainted with them!』 

An opportune double knock at the door, which I knew well 
from old experience in Windsor Terrace, and which nobody but 
Mr. Micawber could ever have knocked at that door, resolved 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 
so, over the banister; and Mr. Micawber, not a bit changed—his 
tights, his stick, his shirt-collar, and his eye-glass, all the same as 
ever—came into the room with a genteel and youthful air. 

『I beg your pardon, Mr. Traddles,』 said Mr. Micawber, with the 

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old roll in his voice, as he checked himself in humming a soft tune. 
『I was not aware that there was any individual, alien to this 
tenement, in your sanctum.』 

Mr. Micawber slightly bowed to me, and pulled up his shirt-
collar. 

『How do you do, Mr. 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 also, thank God, in statu quo.』 

『And the children, Mr. Micawber?』 

『Sir,』 said Mr. Micawber, 『I rejoice to reply that they are, 
likewise, in the enjoyment of salubrity.』 

All this time, Mr. Micawber had not known me in the least, 
though he had stood face to face with me. But now, seeing me 
smile, he examined my features with more attention, fell back, 
cried, 『Is it possible! Have I the pleasure of again beholding 
Copperfield!』 and shook me by both hands with the utmost 
fervour. 

『Good Heaven, Mr. Traddles!』 said Mr. Micawber, 『to think that 
I should find you acquainted with the friend of my youth, the 
companion of earlier days! My dear!』 calling over the banisters to 
Mrs. Micawber, while Traddles looked (with reason) not a little 
amazed at this description of me. 『Here is a gentleman in Mr. 
Traddles』s apartment, whom he wishes to have the pleasure of 
presenting to you, my love!』 

Mr. Micawber immediately reappeared, and shook hands with 
me again. 

『And how is our good friend the Doctor, Copperfield?』 said Mr. 

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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 shadow, I may 
figuratively say, of that religious edifice immortalized by Chaucer, 
which 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 not, I thought, without showing, by some marks of 
concern in his countenance, that he was sensible of sounds in the 
next room, as of Mrs. Micawber washing her hands, and hurriedly 
opening and shutting drawers that were uneasy in their action. 

『You find us, Copperfield,』 said Mr. Micawber, with one eye on 
Traddles, 『at present established, on what may be designated as a 
small and unassuming scale; but, you are aware that I have, in the 
course of my career, surmounted difficulties, and conquered 
obstacles. You are no stranger to the fact, that there have been 
periods of my life, when it has been requisite that I should pause, 
until certain expected events should turn up; when it has been 
necessary that I should fall back, before 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 me, 
fallen back, for a spring; and I have every reason to believe that a 
vigorous leap will shortly be the result.』 

I was expressing my satisfaction, when Mrs. Micawber came in; 
a little more slatternly than she used to be, or so she seemed now, 
to my unaccustomed eyes, but still with some preparation of 
herself for company, and with a pair of brown gloves on. 

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『My dear,』 said Mr. Micawber, leading her towards me, 『here is a 
gentleman of the name of Copperfield, who wishes to renew his 
acquaintance with you.』 

It would have been better, as it turned out, to have led gently up 
to this announcement, for Mrs. Micawber, being in a delicate state 
of health, was overcome by it, and was taken so unwell, that Mr. 
Micawber was obliged, in great trepidation, to run down to the 
water-butt in the backyard, and draw a basinful to lave her brow 
with. She presently revived, however, and was really pleased to 
see me. We had half-an-hour』s talk, all together; and I asked her 
about the twins, who, she said, were 『grown great creatures』; and 
after Master and Miss Micawber, whom 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 so, but that I imagined I 
detected trouble, and calculation relative to the extent of the cold 
meat, in Mrs. Micawber』s eye. I therefore pleaded another 
engagement; and observing that Mrs. Micawber』s spirits were 
immediately lightened, I resisted all persuasion to forego it. 

But I told Traddles, and Mr. and Mrs. Micawber, that before I 
could think of leaving, they 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 purpose, that suited us all, and 
then I took my leave. 

Mr. Micawber, under pretence of showing me a nearer way 
than that by which I had come, accompanied me to the corner of 
the street; being anxious (he explained to me) to say a few words 
to an old friend, in confidence. 

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『My dear Copperfield,』 said Mr. Micawber, 『I need hardly tell 
you that to have beneath our roof, under existing circumstances, a 
mind like that which gleams—if I may be allowed the expression— 
which gleams—in your friend Traddles, is an unspeakable 
comfort. With a washerwoman, who exposes hard-bake for sale in 
her parlour-window, dwelling next door, and a Bow-street officer 
residing over the way, you may imagine that his society is a source 
of consolation to myself and to Mrs. Micawber. I am at present, my 
dear Copperfield, engaged 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 am, however, 
delighted 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 provide, permanently, both for 
myself and for your friend Traddles, in whom I have an unaffected 
interest. You may, perhaps, 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 short, to 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 observe, that 
I am not aware that it is any business of theirs, and that I repel 
that exhibition of feeling with scorn, and with defiance!』 

Mr. Micawber then shook hands with me again, and left me. 

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Chapter 28 

Mr. MICAWBER』S GAUNTLET 

Until the day arrived on which I was to entertain my 
newly-found old friends, I lived principally on Dora and 
coffee. In my love-lorn condition, my 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 took, was not in this 
respect attended with its usual consequence, as the 
disappointment counteracted the fresh air. I have my doubts, too, 
founded on the acute experience acquired at this period of my life, 
whether 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 party, I did not repeat my 
former extensive preparations. I merely provided a pair of soles, a 
small leg of mutton, and a pigeon-pie. Mrs. Crupp broke out into 
rebellion on my first bashful hint in reference to the cooking of the 
fish and joint, and said, with a dignified sense of injury, 『No! No, 
sir! You will not ask me sich a thing, for you are better acquainted 
with me than to suppose me capable of doing what I cannot do 
with ampial satisfaction to my own feelings!』 But, in the end, a 
compromise was effected; and Mrs. Crupp consented to achieve 
this feat, on condition that I dined from home for a fortnight 
afterwards. 

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And here I may remark, that what I underwent from Mrs. 
Crupp, in consequence of the tyranny she established over me, 
was dreadful. I never was so much afraid of anyone. We made a 
compromise of everything. If I hesitated, she was taken with that 
wonderful disorder which was always lying in ambush in her 
system, ready, at the shortest notice, to prey upon her vitals. If I 
rang the bell impatiently, after half-a-dozen unavailing modest 
pulls, and she appeared at last—which was not by any means to be 
relied upon—she would appear with a reproachful aspect, sink 
breathless on a chair near the door, lay her hand upon her 
nankeen bosom, and become so ill, that I was glad, at any sacrifice 
of brandy or anything else, to 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 short, I 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-party, in 
preference to re-engaging the handy young man; against whom I 
had conceived a prejudice, in consequence of meeting him in the 
Strand, one Sunday morning, in 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 dishes, and then withdraw to the landing-place, 
beyond the outer door; where a habit of sniffing she had 
contracted would be lost upon the guests, and where her retiring 
on the plates would be a physical impossibility. 

Having laid in the materials for a bowl of punch, to be 

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compounded by Mr. Micawber; having provided a bottle of 
lavender-water, two wax-candles, a paper of mixed pins, and a 
pincushion, to 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 hands, I awaited the result with composure. 

At the appointed time, my three visitors arrived together. Mr. 
Micawber with more shirt-collar than usual, and a new ribbon to 
his eye-glass; Mrs. Micawber with her cap in a whitey-brown 
paper parcel; Traddles carrying the parcel, and supporting Mrs. 
Micawber on his arm. They were all delighted with my residence. 
When I conducted Mrs. Micawber to my dressing-table, and she 
saw the scale on which it was prepared for her, she was in such 
raptures, that 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 celibacy, and Mrs. Micawber had not yet been 
solicited to plight her faith at the Hymeneal altar.』 

『He means, solicited by him, Mr. 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 
when, in the inscrutable decrees of Fate, you were reserved for 
me, it is possible you may have been reserved for one, destined, 
after a protracted struggle, at length to fall a victim to pecuniary 
involvements of a complicated nature. I understand your allusion, 
my love. I regret it, but I can bear it.』 

『Micawber!』 exclaimed Mrs. Micawber, in tears. 『Have I 
deserved this! I, who never have deserted you; who never WILL 

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desert you, Micawber!』 

『My love,』 said Mr. Micawber, much affected, 『you will forgive, 
and our old and tried friend Copperfield will, I am sure, forgive, 
the momentary laceration of a wounded spirit, made sensitive by a 
recent collision with the Minion of Power—in other words, with a 
ribald Turncock attached to the water-works—and will pity, not 
condemn, its excesses.』 

Mr. Micawber then embraced Mrs. Micawber, and pressed my 
hand; leaving me to infer from this broken allusion that his 
domestic supply of water had been cut off that afternoon, in 
consequence of default in the payment of the company』s rates. 

To divert his thoughts from this melancholy subject, I informed 
Mr. Micawber that I relied upon him for a bowl of punch, and led 
him to the lemons. His recent despondency, not to say despair, 
was gone in a moment. I never saw a man so thoroughly enjoy 
himself amid the fragrance of lemon-peel and sugar, the odour of 
burning rum, and the steam of boiling water, as Mr. Micawber did 
that afternoon. It was wonderful to see his face shining at us out of 
a thin cloud of these delicate fumes, as he stirred, and mixed, and 
tasted, and looked as if he were making, instead of punch, a 
fortune for his family down to the latest posterity. As to Mrs. 
Micawber, I don』t know whether it was the effect of the cap, or the 
lavender-water, or the pins, or the fire, or the wax-candles, but she 
came out of my room, comparatively speaking, lovely. And the lark 
was never gayer than that excellent woman. 

I suppose—I never ventured to inquire, but I suppose—that 
Mrs. Crupp, after frying the soles, was taken ill. Because we broke 
down at that point. The leg of mutton came up very red within, 
and very pale without: besides having a foreign substance of a 

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gritty nature sprinkled over it, as if it 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 gravy, forasmuch 
as the 『young gal』 had dropped it all upon the stairs—where it 
remained, by the by, in a long train, until it was worn out. The 
pigeon-pie was not bad, but it was a delusive pie: the crust being 
like a disappointing head, phrenologically speaking: full of lumps 
and bumps, with nothing particular underneath. In short, the 
banquet was such a failure that I should have been quite 
unhappy—about the failure, I mean, for I was always unhappy 
about Dora—if I had not been relieved by the great good humour 
of my company, and 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 say, in short, by the influence of Woman, in the 
lofty character of Wife, they may be expected with confidence, and 
must be borne with philosophy. If you will allow me to take the 
liberty of remarking that there are few comestibles better, in their 
way, than a Devil, and that I believe, with a little division of labour, 
we could accomplish a good one if the young person in attendance 
could produce a gridiron, I would put it to you, that this little 
misfortune may be easily repaired.』 

There was a gridiron in the pantry, on which my morning 
rasher of bacon was cooked. We had it in, in a twinkling, and 
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 

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pepper, mustard, salt, and cayenne; I put them on the gridiron, 
turned them with a fork, and took them off, under Mr. Micawber』s 
direction; and Mrs. Micawber heated, and continually stirred, 
some mushroom ketchup in a little saucepan. When we had slices 
enough done to begin upon, we fell-to, with our sleeves still tucked 
up at the wrist, more slices sputtering and blazing on the fire, and 
our attention divided between the mutton on our plates, and the 
mutton then preparing. 

What with the novelty of this cookery, the excellence of it, the 
bustle of it, the frequent starting up to look after it, the frequent 
sitting down to dispose of it as the crisp slices came off the 
gridiron hot and hot, the being so busy, so flushed with the fire, so 
amused, and in the midst of such a tempting noise and savour, we 
reduced the leg of mutton to the bone. My own appetite came back 
miraculously. I am ashamed to record it, but I really believe I 
forgot Dora for a little while. I am satisfied that Mr. and Mrs. 
Micawber could not have enjoyed the feast more, if they had sold a 
bed to provide it. Traddles laughed as heartily, almost the whole 
time, as he ate and worked. Indeed we all did, all at once; and I 
dare say there was never a greater success. 

We were at the height of our enjoyment, and were all busily 
engaged, in our several departments, endeavouring to bring the 
last batch of slices to a state of perfection that should crown the 
feast, when I was aware of a strange presence in the room, and my 
eyes encountered those of the staid Littimer, standing hat in hand 
before me. 

『What』s the matter?』 I involuntarily asked. 

『I beg your pardon, sir, I was directed to come in. Is my master 
not here, sir?』 

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『No.』 

『Have you not seen him, sir?』 

『No; don』t you come from him?』 

『Not immediately so, sir.』 

『Did he tell you you would find him here?』 

『Not exactly so, sir. But I should think he might be here 
tomorrow, as he has not been here today.』 

『Is he coming up from Oxford?』 

『I beg, sir,』 he returned respectfully, 『that you will be seated, 
and allow me to do this.』 With which he took the fork from my 
unresisting hand, and bent over the gridiron, as if his whole 
attention were concentrated on it. 

We should not have been much discomposed, I dare say, by the 
appearance of Steerforth himself, but we became in a moment the 
meekest of the meek before his respectable serving-man. Mr. 
Micawber, humming a tune, to show that he was quite at ease, 
subsided into his chair, with the handle of a hastily concealed fork 
sticking out of the bosom of his coat, as if he had stabbed himself. 
Mrs. Micawber put on her brown gloves, and assumed a genteel 
languor. Traddles ran his greasy hands through his hair, and stood 
it bolt upright, and stared in confusion on the table-cloth. As for 
me, I 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 where, to put my establishment to rights. 

Meanwhile he took the mutton off the gridiron, and gravely 
handed it round. We all took some, but our appreciation of it was 
gone, and we merely made a show of eating it. As we severally 
pushed away our plates, he noiselessly removed them, and set on 
the cheese. He took that off, too, when it was done with; cleared 

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the table; piled everything on the dumb-waiter; gave us our wineglasses; and, of his own accord, wheeled the dumb-waiter into the 
pantry. All this was done in a perfect manner, and he never raised 
his eyes from what he was about. Yet his very elbows, when he 
had his back towards me, seemed to teem with the expression of 
his fixed opinion that I was extremely young. 

『Can I do anything more, sir?』 

I thanked him and said, No; but would he take no dinner 
himself? 

『None, I am obliged to you, sir.』 

『Is Mr. Steerforth coming from Oxford?』 

『I beg your pardon, sir?』 

『Is Mr. Steerforth coming from Oxford?』 

『I should imagine that he might be here tomorrow, sir. I rather 
thought he might have been here today, sir. The mistake is mine, 
no doubt, sir.』 

『If you should see him first—』 said I. 

『If you』ll excuse me, sir, I don』t think I shall see him first.』 

『In case you do,』 said I, 『pray say that I am sorry he was not here 
today, as an old schoolfellow of his was here.』 

『Indeed, sir!』 and he divided a bow between me and Traddles, 
with a glance at the latter. 

He was moving softly to the door, when, in a forlorn hope of 
saying something naturally—which I never could, to this man—I 
said: 

『Oh! Littimer!』 

『Sir!』 

『Did you remain long at Yarmouth, that time?』 

『Not particularly so, sir.』 

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『You saw the boat completed?』 

『Yes, sir. 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 yet, I suppose?』 

『I really can』t say, sir. I think—but I really can』t say, sir. I wish 
you good night, sir.』 

He comprehended everybody present, in the respectful bow 
with which he followed these words, and disappeared. My visitors 
seemed to breathe more freely when he was gone; but my own 
relief was very great, for besides the constraint, arising from that 
extraordinary sense of being at a disadvantage which I always had 
in this man』s presence, my conscience had embarrassed me with 
whispers that I had mistrusted his master, and I could not repress 
a vague uneasy dread that he might find it out. How was it, having 
so little in reality to conceal, that I always DID feel as if this man 
were finding me out? 

Mr. Micawber roused me from this reflection, which was 
blended with a certain remorseful apprehension of seeing 
Steerforth himself, by bestowing many encomiums on the absent 
Littimer as a most respectable fellow, and a thoroughly admirable 
servant. Mr. Micawber, I may remark, had taken his full share of 
the general bow, and had received it with infinite condescension. 

『But punch, my dear Copperfield,』 said Mr. Micawber, tasting it, 
『like time and tide, waits for no man. Ah! it is at the present 
moment in high flavour. My love, will 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 liberty, to the days when my 

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friend Copperfield and myself were younger, and fought our way 
in the world side by side. I may say, of myself and Copperfield, in 
words we have sung together before now, that 

「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. Micawber, with the old roll in his voice, 
and the old indescribable air of saying something genteel, 『what 
gowans may be, but I have no doubt that Copperfield and myself 
would frequently have taken a pull at them, if it had been feasible.』 

Mr. Micawber, at the then present moment, took 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. Micawber, clearing his throat, and warming 
with the punch and with the fire. 『My dear, another glass?』 

Mrs. Micawber said it must be very little; but we couldn』t allow 
that, so it was a glassful. 

『As we are quite confidential here, Mr. Copperfield,』 said Mrs. 
Micawber, sipping her punch, 『Mr. Traddles being a part of our 
domesticity, I 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. Micawber, may 
be gentlemanly, but it is not remunerative. Commission to the 
extent of two and ninepence in a fortnight cannot, however limited 
our ideas, be considered remunerative.』 

We were all agreed upon that. 

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『Then,』 said Mrs. Micawber, who prided herself on taking a 
clear view of things, and keeping Mr. Micawber straight by her 
woman』s wisdom, when he might otherwise go a little crooked, 
『then I ask myself this question. If corn is not to be relied upon, 
what is? Are coals to be relied upon? Not at all. We have turned 
our attention to that experiment, on the suggestion of my family, 
and we find it fallacious.』 

Mr. Micawber, leaning back in his chair with his hands in his 
pockets, eyed us aside, and nodded his head, as much as to say 
that the case was very clearly put. 

『The articles of corn and coals,』 said Mrs. Micawber, still more 
argumentatively, 『being equally out of the question, Mr. 
Copperfield, I naturally look round the world, and say, 「What is 
there in which a person of Mr. Micawber』s talent is likely to 
succeed?」 And I exclude the doing anything on commission, 
because commission is not a certainty. What is best suited to a 
person of Mr. Micawber』s peculiar temperament is, I am 
convinced, a certainty.』 

Traddles and I both expressed, by a feeling murmur, that this 
great discovery was no doubt true of Mr. Micawber, and that it did 
him much credit. 

『I will not conceal from you, my 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 Truman, Hanbury, and Buxton! It is on that 
extensive footing that Mr. Micawber, I know from my own 
knowledge of him, is calculated to shine; and the profits, I am told, 
are e-nor-mous! But if Mr. Micawber cannot get into those firms— 
which decline to answer his letters, when he offers his services 

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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! Really, my dear,』 interposed Mr. Micawber. 

『My love, be silent,』 said Mrs. Micawber, laying her brown glove 
on his hand. 『I may have a conviction, Mr. Copperfield, that Mr. 
Micawber』s manners peculiarly qualify him for the Banking 
business. I may argue within myself, that if I had a deposit at a 
banking-house, the manners of Mr. Micawber, as representing 
that banking-house, would inspire confidence, and must extend 
the connexion. But if the various banking-houses refuse to avail 
themselves of Mr. Micawber』s abilities, or receive the offer of them 
with contumely, what is the use of dwelling upon that idea? None. 
As to originating a banking-business, I may know that there are 
members of my family who, if they chose to place their money in 
Mr. Micawber』s hands, might 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 head, and said, 『Not a bit.』 Traddles also shook his 
head, and said, 『Not a bit.』 

『What do I deduce from this?』 Mrs. Micawber went on to say, 
still with the same air of putting a case lucidly. 『What is the 
conclusion, my dear Mr. Copperfield, to which I am irresistibly 
brought? Am I wrong in saying, it is clear that we must live?』 

I answered 『Not at all!』 and Traddles answered 『Not at all!』 and 
I found myself afterwards sagely adding, alone, that a person must 
either live or die. 

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『Just so,』 returned Mrs. Micawber, 『It is precisely that. And the 
fact is, my dear Mr. Copperfield, that we can not live without 
something widely different from existing circumstances shortly 
turning up. Now I am convinced, myself, and this I have pointed 
out to Mr. Micawber several times of late, that things cannot be 
expected to turn up of themselves. We must, in a measure, assist to 
turn them up. I may be wrong, but 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—』 

『Really, my love,』 said Mr. Micawber. 

『Pray, my dear, allow me to conclude. Here is Mr. Micawber, 
with a variety of qualifications, with great talent—I should say, 
with genius, but 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 known, and 
boldly challenge society to set it right. It appears to me, my dear 
Mr. Copperfield,』 said Mrs. Micawber, forcibly, 『that what Mr. 
Micawber has to do, is to throw down the gauntlet to society, and 
say, in effect, 「Show 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 me, that what Mr. Micawber has to do, in justice to 
himself, in justice to his family, and I will even go so far as to say in 
justice to society, by which he has been hitherto overlooked, is to 

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advertise in all the papers; to describe himself plainly as so-and-so, 
with such and such qualifications and to put it thus: 「Now employ 
me, on remunerative terms, and address, post-paid, to W. M., Post 
Office, Camden Town.」』 

『This idea of Mrs. Micawber』s, my dear Copperfield,』 said Mr. 
Micawber, making his shirt-collar meet in front of his chin, and 
glancing at me sideways, 『is, in fact, the Leap to which I alluded, 
when I last had the pleasure of seeing you.』 

『Advertising is rather expensive,』 I remarked, dubiously. 

『Exactly so!』 said Mrs. Micawber, preserving the same logical 
air. 『Quite true, my 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 said, 
in justice to himself, in justice to his family, and in justice to 
society) to raise a certain sum of money—on a bill.』 

Mr. Micawber, leaning back in his chair, trifled with his eyeglass and cast his eyes up at the ceiling; but I thought him 
observant of Traddles, too, who 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. Micawber, with his eyes still cast up at the ceiling, 
suggested 『Discount.』 

『To discount that bill,』 said Mrs. Micawber, 『then my opinion is, 
that Mr. Micawber should go into the City, should take that bill 
into the Money Market, and should dispose of it for what he can 
get. If the individuals in the Money Market oblige Mr. Micawber to 
sustain a great sacrifice, that is between themselves and their 
consciences. I view it, steadily, as an investment. I recommend Mr. 

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Micawber, my dear Mr. Copperfield, to do the same; to regard it as 
an investment which is sure of return, and to make up his mind to 
any sacrifice.』 

I felt, but I am sure I don』t know why, that this was self-denying 
and devoted in Mrs. Micawber, and I uttered a murmur to that 
effect. Traddles, who took his tone from me, did likewise, still 
looking at the fire. 

『I will not,』 said Mrs. Micawber, finishing her punch, and 
gathering her scarf about her shoulders, preparatory to her 
withdrawal to my bedroom: 『I will not protract these remarks on 
the subject of Mr. Micawber』s pecuniary affairs. At your fireside, 
my dear Mr. Copperfield, and in the presence of Mr. Traddles, 
who, though not so old a friend, is quite one of ourselves, I 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 female, and that a masculine judgement is usually 
considered more competent to the discussion of such questions; 
still I must not forget that, when I lived at home with my papa and 
mama, my papa was in the habit of saying, 「Emma』s form is 
fragile, but her grasp of a subject is inferior to none.」 That my 
papa was too partial, I well know; but that he was an observer of 
character in some degree, my duty and my reason equally forbid 
me to doubt.』 

With these words, and resisting our entreaties that she would 
grace the remaining circulation of the punch with her presence, 
Mrs. Micawber retired to my bedroom. And really I felt that she 
was a noble woman—the sort of woman who might have been a 

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Roman matron, and done all manner of heroic things, in times of 
public trouble. 

In the fervour of this impression, I congratulated Mr. Micawber 
on the treasure he possessed. So did Traddles. Mr. Micawber 
extended his hand to each of us in succession, and then covered 
his face with his pocket-handkerchief, which I think had more 
snuff upon it than he was aware of. He then returned to the punch, 
in the highest state of exhilaration. 

He was full of eloquence. He gave us to understand that in our 
children we lived again, and that, under the pressure of pecuniary 
difficulties, any 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 them, and reassured her. As to her 
family, they were totally unworthy of her, and their sentiments 
were utterly indifferent to him, and 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 character, to the steady virtues of which he 
(Mr. Micawber) could lay no claim, but which, he thanked Heaven, 
he could admire. He feelingly alluded to the young lady, unknown, 
whom Traddles had honoured with his affection, and who had 
reciprocated that affection by honouring and blessing Traddles 
with her affection. Mr. Micawber pledged her. So did I. Traddles 
thanked us both, by saying, with 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 you, she』s the dearest girl!—』 

Mr. Micawber took an early opportunity, after that, of hinting, 
with the utmost delicacy and ceremony, at the state of my 
affections. Nothing but the serious assurance of his friend 

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Copperfield to the contrary, he observed, could deprive him of the 
impression that his friend Copperfield loved and was beloved. 
After feeling very hot and uncomfortable for some time, and after 
a good deal of blushing, stammering, and denying, I said, having 
my glass in my hand, 『Well! I would give them D.!』 which so 
excited and gratified Mr. Micawber, that he ran with a glass of 
punch into my bedroom, in order that Mrs. Micawber might drink 
D., who drank it with enthusiasm, crying from within, in a shrill 
voice, 『Hear, hear! My dear Mr. Copperfield, I am delighted. Hear!』 
and tapping at the wall, by way of applause. 

Our conversation, afterwards, took a more worldly turn; Mr. 
Micawber telling us that he found Camden Town inconvenient, 
and that the first thing he contemplated doing, when 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 Street, fronting Hyde Park, on which he 
had always had his eye, but which he did not expect to attain 
immediately, as it would require a large establishment. There 
would probably be an interval, he explained, in which he should 
content himself with the upper part of a house, over some 
respectable place of business—say in Piccadilly,—which would be 
a cheerful situation for Mrs. Micawber; and where, by throwing 
out a bow-window, or carrying up the roof another story, or 
making some little alteration of that sort, they might live, 
comfortably and reputably, for a few years. Whatever was 
reserved for him, he expressly said, or wherever his abode might 
be, we might rely on this—there would always be a room for 
Traddles, and a knife and fork for me. We acknowledged his 
kindness; and he begged us to forgive his having launched into 

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these practical and business-like details, and to excuse it as 
natural in one who was making entirely new arrangements in life. 

Mrs. Micawber, tapping 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; and, whenever I 
went near her, in handing about the tea-cups and bread-andbutter, asked me, in a whisper, whether D. was fair, or dark, or 
whether she was short, or tall: or something of that kind; which I 
think I liked. After tea, we discussed a variety of topics before the 
fire; and Mrs. Micawber was good enough to sing us (in a small, 
thin, flat voice, which I remembered to have considered, when I 
first knew her, the 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 us, that 
when he heard her sing the first one, on the first occasion of his 
seeing her beneath the parental roof, she had attracted his 
attention in an extraordinary degree; but that when it came to 
Little Tafflin, he 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 parcel, and to 
put on her bonnet. Mr. Micawber took the opportunity of Traddles 
putting on his great-coat, to slip a letter into my hand, with 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 down, when Mr. Micawber was going first, leading Mrs. 
Micawber, and Traddles was following with the cap, to detain 
Traddles for a moment on the top of the stairs. 

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『Traddles,』 said I, 『Mr. Micawber don』t mean any harm, poor 
fellow: but, if I were you, I wouldn』t lend him anything.』 

『My dear Copperfield,』 returned Traddles, smiling, 『I haven』t got 
anything to lend.』 

『You have got a name, you know,』 said I. 

『Oh! You call that something to lend?』 returned Traddles, with a 
thoughtful look. 

『Certainly.』 

『Oh!』 said Traddles. 『Yes, to be sure! I am very much obliged to 
you, Copperfield; 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 one, on 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 not, though, because he told me, 
only the other day, that it was provided for. That was Mr. 
Micawber』s expression, 「Provided for.」』 

Mr. Micawber looking up at this juncture to where we were 
standing, I had only time to repeat my caution. Traddles thanked 
me, and descended. But I was much afraid, when I observed the 
good-natured manner in which he went down with the cap in his 
hand, and gave Mrs. Micawber his arm, that he would be carried 
into the Money Market neck and heels. 

I returned to my fireside, and was musing, half gravely and half 
laughing, on the character of Mr. Micawber and the old relations 
between us, when I heard a quick step ascending the stairs. At 
first, I thought it was Traddles coming back for something Mrs. 
Micawber had left behind; but as the step approached, I knew it, 

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and felt my heart beat high, and the blood rush to my face, for it 
was Steerforth』s. 

I was never unmindful of Agnes, and 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 entered, and stood before me with 
his hand out, the darkness that had fallen on him changed to light, 
and 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 
benignant, gentle angel in my life; I reproached myself, not her, 
with having done him an injury; and I would have made him any 
atonement if I had known what to make, and how to make it. 

『Why, Daisy, old boy, dumb-foundered!』 laughed Steerforth, 
shaking my hand heartily, and throwing it gaily away. 『Have I 
detected you in another feast, you Sybarite! These Doctors』 
Commons fellows are the gayest men in town, I believe, and beat 
us sober Oxford people all to nothing!』 His bright glance went 
merrily round the room, as he took the seat on the sofa opposite to 
me, which Mrs. Micawber had recently vacated, and stirred the 
fire into a blaze. 

『I was so surprised at first,』 said I, giving him welcome with all 
the cordiality I felt, 『that I had hardly breath to greet you with, 
Steerforth.』 

『Well, the sight of me is good for sore eyes, as the Scotch say,』 
replied Steerforth, 『and so is the sight of you, Daisy, in full bloom. 
How are you, my 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 street, talking loud in your praise,』 
returned Steerforth. 『Who』s our friend in the tights?』 

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I gave him the best idea I could, in a few words, of Mr. 
Micawber. He laughed heartily at my feeble portrait of that 
gentleman, and said he was a man to know, and he must know 
him. 『But who do you suppose our other friend is?』 said I, in my 
turn. 

『Heaven knows,』 said Steerforth. 『Not a bore, I hope? I thought 
he looked a little like one.』 

『Traddles!』 I replied, triumphantly. 

『Who』s he?』 asked Steerforth, in his careless way. 

『Don』t you remember Traddles? Traddles in our room at Salem 
House?』 

『Oh! That fellow!』 said Steerforth, beating a lump of coal on the 
top of the fire, with the poker. 『Is he as soft as ever? And where the 
deuce did you pick him up?』 

I extolled Traddles in reply, as highly as I could; for I felt that 
Steerforth rather slighted him. Steerforth, dismissing the subject 
with a light nod, and a smile, and the remark that he would be 
glad to see the old fellow too, for he had always been an odd fish, 
inquired if I could give him anything to eat? During most of this 
short dialogue, when he had not been speaking in a wild vivacious 
manner, he 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-pie, and so forth. 

『Why, Daisy, here』s a supper for a king!』 he exclaimed, starting 
out of his silence with a burst, and taking his seat at the table. 『I 
shall do it justice, for I have come from Yarmouth.』 

『I thought you came from Oxford?』 I returned. 

『Not I,』 said Steerforth. 『I have been seafaring—better 
employed.』 

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『Littimer was here today, to inquire for you,』 I remarked, 『and I 
understood him that you were at Oxford; though, now I think of it, 
he certainly did not say so.』 

『Littimer is a greater fool than I thought him, to have been 
inquiring for me at all,』 said Steerforth, jovially pouring out a glass 
of wine, and drinking to me. 『As to understanding him, you are a 
cleverer fellow than most of us, Daisy, if you can do that.』 

『That』s true, indeed,』 said I, moving my chair to the table. 『So 
you have been at Yarmouth, Steerforth!』 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 course, little Emily is not married 
yet?』 

『Not yet. Going to be, I believe—in so many weeks, or months, 
or something or other. I have not seen much of 』em. By the by』; he 
laid down his knife and fork, which he had been using with great 
diligence, and began feeling in his pockets; 『I have a letter for you.』 

『From whom?』 

『Why, from your old nurse,』 he returned, taking some papers 
out of his breast pocket. 「『J. Steerforth, Esquire, debtor, to The 
Willing Mind」; that』s not it. Patience, and we』ll find it presently. 
Old what』s-his-name』s in a bad way, and it』s about that, I believe.』 

『Barkis, do you mean?』 

『Yes!』 still feeling in his pockets, and looking over their 
contents: 『it』s all over with poor Barkis, I am afraid. I saw a little 
apothecary there—surgeon, or 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 was, that the carrier was making 
his last journey rather fast.—Put your hand into the breast pocket 

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of my great-coat on the chair yonder, and 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 usual, and 
brief. It informed me of her husband』s hopeless state, and hinted 
at his being 『a little nearer』 than heretofore, and consequently 
more difficult to manage for his own comfort. It said nothing of her 
weariness and watching, and praised him highly. It was written 
with a plain, unaffected, homely piety that I knew to be genuine, 
and ended with 『my duty to my ever darling』—meaning myself. 

While I deciphered it, Steerforth continued to eat and drink. 

『It』s a bad job,』 he said, when I had done; 『but the sun sets every 
day, and people die every minute, and we mustn』t be scared by the 
common lot. If we failed to hold our own, because that equal foot 
at all men』s doors was heard knocking somewhere, every object in 
this world would slip from us. No! Ride on! Rough-shod if need be, 
smooth-shod if that will do, but ride on! Ride on over all obstacles, 
and win the race!』 

『And win what race?』 said I. 

『The race that one has started in,』 said he. 『Ride on!』 

I noticed, I remember, as he paused, looking at me with his 
handsome head a little thrown back, and his glass raised in his 
hand, that, though the freshness of the sea-wind was on his face, 
and it was ruddy, there were traces in it, made since I last saw it, 
as if he had applied himself to some habitual strain of the fervent 
energy which, when roused, was 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 

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buffeting of rough seas, and braving of hard weather, for 
example—when my mind glanced off to the immediate subject of 
our conversation again, and pursued that instead. 

『I tell you what, Steerforth,』 said I, 『if your high spirits will listen 
to me—』 

『They are potent spirits, and will do whatever you like,』 he 
answered, moving from the table to the fireside again. 

『Then I tell you what, Steerforth. I think I will go down and see 
my old nurse. It is not that I can do her any good, or render her 
any real service; but she is so attached to me that my visit will 
have as much effect on her, as 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 make, I am sure, for such a friend as she has been to me. 
Wouldn』t you go a day』s journey, if you were in my place?』 

His face was thoughtful, and he sat considering a little before he 
answered, in 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 time, and it lies upon my conscience, for it』s 
something to be loved as she loves her prodigal son.—Bah! 
Nonsense!—You mean to go tomorrow, I suppose?』 he said, 
holding me out at arm』s length, with a hand on each of my 
shoulders. 

『Yes, I think so.』 

『Well, then, don』t go till next day. I wanted you to come and stay 
a few days with us. Here I am, on purpose to bid you, and you fly 
off to Yarmouth!』 

『You are a nice fellow to talk of flying off, Steerforth, who are 

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always running wild on some unknown expedition or other!』 

He looked at me for a moment without speaking, and then 
rejoined, still holding me as before, and giving me a shake: 

『Come! Say the next day, and pass as much of tomorrow as you 
can with us! Who knows when we may meet again, else? Come! 
Say the next day! I want you to stand between Rosa Dartle and 
me, and keep us asunder.』 

『Would you love each other too much, without 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 
cigar, and set off to walk home. Finding him in this intention, I put 
on my own great-coat (but did not light my own cigar, having had 
enough of that for one while) and walked with him as far as the 
open road: a dull road, then, at night. He was in great spirits all 
the way; and when we parted, and I looked after him going so 
gallantly and airily homeward, I thought of his saying, 『Ride on 
over all obstacles, and win the race!』 and wished, for the first time, 
that he had some worthy race to run. 

I was undressing in my own room, when Mr. Micawber』s letter 
tumbled on the floor. Thus reminded of it, I 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 that, when Mr. Micawber was 
at any particularly desperate crisis, he 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 

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Crushed. Some flickering efforts to spare you the premature 
knowledge of his calamitous position, you may observe in him this 
day; but hope has sunk beneath the horizon, and the undersigned 
is Crushed. 

『The present communication is penned within the personal 
range (I cannot call it the society) of an individual, in a state 
closely bordering on intoxication, employed by a broker. That 
individual is in legal possession of the premises, under a distress 
for rent. His inventory includes, not only the chattels and effects of 
every description belonging to the undersigned, as yearly tenant of 
this habitation, but also those appertaining to Mr. Thomas 
Traddles, lodger, a member of the Honourable Society of the Inner 
Temple. 

『If any drop of gloom were wanting in the overflowing cup, 
which is now 「commended」 (in the language of an immortal 
Writer) to the lips of the undersigned, it would be found in the 
fact, that a friendly acceptance granted to the undersigned, by the 
before-mentioned Mr. Thomas Traddles, for the sum of £23l 4s. 
9.d. is over due, and is not provided for. Also, in the fact that the 
living responsibilities clinging to the undersigned will, in the 
course of nature, be 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 much, it would be a work of 
supererogation to add, that dust and ashes are for ever scattered 
『On 
『The 
『Head 

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『Of 
『WILKINS MICAWBER.』 

Poor Traddles! I knew enough of Mr. Micawber by this time, to 
foresee that he might be expected to recover the blow; but my 
night』s rest was sorely distressed by thoughts of Traddles, and of 
the curate』s daughter, who was one of ten, down in Devonshire, 
and who was such a dear girl, and who would wait for Traddles 
(ominous praise!) until she was sixty, or any age that could be 
mentioned. 

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Chapter 29 

I VISIT STEERFORTH AT HIS HOME, AGAIN 

Imentioned to Mr. Spenlow in the morning, that I wanted 
leave of absence for a short time; and as I was not in the 
receipt of any salary, and consequently was not obnoxious to 
the implacable Jorkins, there was no difficulty about it. I took that 
opportunity, with my voice sticking in my throat, and my sight 
failing as I uttered the words, to express my hope that Miss 
Spenlow was quite well; to which Mr. Spenlow replied, with no 
more emotion than if he had been speaking of an ordinary human 
being, that he was much obliged to me, and she was very well. 

We articled clerks, as germs of the patrician order of proctors, 
were treated with so much consideration, that I was almost my 
own master at all times. As I did not care, however, to get to 
Highgate before one or two o』clock in the day, and as we had 
another little excommunication case in court that morning, which 
was called The office of the judge promoted by Tipkins against 
Bullock for his soul』s correction, I passed an hour or two in 
attendance on it with Mr. Spenlow very agreeably. It arose out of a 
scuffle between two churchwardens, one of whom was alleged to 
have pushed the other against a pump; the handle of which pump 
projecting into a school-house, which school-house was under a 
gable of the church-roof, made the push an ecclesiastical offence. 
It was an amusing case; and sent me up to Highgate, on the box of 
the stage-coach, thinking about the Commons, and what Mr. 
Spenlow had said about touching the Commons and bringing 

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down the country. 

Mrs. Steerforth was pleased to see me, and so was Rosa Dartle. 
I was agreeably surprised to find that Littimer was not there, and 
that we were attended by a modest little parlour-maid, with blue 
ribbons in her cap, whose eye it was much more pleasant, and 
much less disconcerting, to catch by accident, than the eye of that 
respectable man. But what I particularly observed, before I had 
been half-an-hour in the house, was the close and attentive watch 
Miss Dartle kept upon me; and the lurking manner in which she 
seemed to compare my face with Steerforth』s, and Steerforth』s 
with mine, and to lie in wait for something to come out between 
the two. So surely as I looked towards her, did I see that eager 
visage, with its gaunt black eyes and searching brow, intent 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 it, that at such a 
time she only fixed her piercing look upon me with a more intent 
expression still. Blameless as I was, and knew that I was, in 
reference to any wrong she could possibly suspect me of, I shrunk 
before her strange eyes, quite unable to endure their hungry 
lustre. 

All day, she seemed to pervade the whole house. If I talked to 
Steerforth in his room, I 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 house, I saw her face pass from window to 
window, like a wandering light, until it fixed itself in one, and 
watched us. When we all four went out walking in the afternoon, 
she closed her thin hand on my arm like a spring, to keep me back, 
while Steerforth and his mother went on out of hearing: and then 

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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 really, though?』 

I replied that I liked it well enough, but that I certainly could 
not claim so much for it. 

『Oh! I am glad to know that, because 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 walking, with his mother leaning on his arm, showed me 
whom she meant; but beyond that, I was quite lost. And I looked 
so, I have no doubt. 

『Don』t it—I don』t say that it does, mind I want to know—don』t it 
rather engross him? Don』t it make him, perhaps, a little more 
remiss than usual in his visits to his blindly-doting—eh?』 With 
another quick glance at them, and 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 me, don』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. Then, 
it』s not so? Well! I am very glad to know it.』 

『It certainly is not the fact,』 said I, perplexed, 『that I am 

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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 while, until last night.』 

『No?』 

『Indeed, Miss Dartle, no!』 

As she looked full at me, I saw her face grow sharper and paler, 
and the marks of the old wound lengthen out until it cut through 
the disfigured lip, and deep into the nether lip, and slanted down 
the face. There was something positively awful to me in this, and 
in the brightness of her eyes, as she said, looking fixedly at me: 

『What is he doing?』 

I repeated the words, more to myself than her, being so 
amazed. 

『What is he doing?』 she said, with 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 faithful, I don』t ask you to betray 
your friend. I ask you only to tell me, is it anger, is it hatred, is it 
pride, is it restlessness, is it some wild fancy, is it love, what is it, 
that is leading him?』 

『Miss Dartle,』 I returned, 『how shall I tell you, so that you will 
believe me, that 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 me, a twitching or 
throbbing, from which I could not dissociate the idea of pain, came 
into that cruel mark; and lifted up the corner of her lip as if with 

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scorn, or with a pity that despised its object. She put her hand 
upon it hurriedly—a hand so thin and delicate, that when I had 
seen her hold it up before the fire to shade her face, I had 
compared it in my thoughts to fine porcelain—and saying, in a 
quick, fierce, passionate way, 『I swear you to secrecy about this!』 
said not a word more. 

Mrs. Steerforth was particularly happy in her son』s society, and 
Steerforth was, on this occasion, particularly attentive and 
respectful to her. It was very interesting to me to see them 
together, not only on account of their mutual affection, but 
because of the strong personal resemblance between them, and 
the manner in which what was haughty or impetuous in him was 
softened by age and sex, in her, to a gracious dignity. I thought, 
more than once, that it was well no serious cause of division had 
ever come between them; or two such natures—I ought rather to 
express it, two 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 discernment, I am bound to 
confess, but in a speech of Rosa Dartle』s. 

She said at dinner: 

『Oh, but do tell me, though, somebody, because I have been 
thinking about it all day, and I want to know.』 

『You want to know what, Rosa?』 returned Mrs. Steerforth. 
『Pray, pray, Rosa, do not be mysterious.』 

『Mysterious!』 she cried. 『Oh! really? Do you consider me so?』 

『Do I constantly entreat you,』 said Mrs. Steerforth, 『to speak 
plainly, in your own natural manner?』 

『Oh! then this is not my natural manner?』 she rejoined. 『Now 
you must really bear with me, because I ask for information. We 

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never know ourselves.』 

『It has become a second nature,』 said Mrs. Steerforth, without 
any displeasure; 『but I remember,—and so must you, I think,— 
when your manner was different, Rosa; when it was not so 
guarded, and 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 I, imperceptibly, have changed, I wonder! Well, that』s 
very odd! I must study to regain my former self.』 

『I wish you would,』 said Mrs. Steerforth, with a smile. 

『Oh! I really will, you know!』 she answered. 『I will learn 
frankness from—let me see—from James.』 

『You cannot learn frankness, Rosa,』 said Mrs. Steerforth 
quickly—for there was always some effect of sarcasm in what Rosa 
Dartle said, though it was said, as this was, in the most 
unconscious manner in the world—『in a better school.』 

『That I am sure of,』 she answered, with uncommon fervour. 『If I 
am sure of anything, of course, you know, I am sure of that.』 

Mrs. Steerforth appeared to me to regret having been a little 
nettled; for she presently said, in a kind tone: 

『Well, my dear Rosa, we have not heard what it is that you want 
to be satisfied about?』 

『That I want to be satisfied about?』 she replied, with provoking 
coldness. 『Oh! It was only whether people, who 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 people, who are like each other in their 
moral constitution, are in greater danger than people not so 
circumstanced, supposing any serious cause of variance to arise 

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between them, of being divided angrily and deeply?』 

『I should say yes,』 said Steerforth. 

『Should you?』 she retorted. 『Dear me! Supposing then, for 
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. Steerforth, laughing goodnaturedly, 『suggest some other supposition! James and I know our 
duty to each other better, I pray Heaven!』 

『Oh!』 said Miss Dartle, nodding her head thoughtfully. 『To be 
sure. That would prevent it? Why, of course it would. Exactly. 
Now, I am glad I have been so foolish as to put the case, for 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 thereafter, when all 
the irremediable past was rendered plain. During the whole of this 
day, but especially from this period of it, Steerforth exerted 
himself with his utmost skill, and that was with his utmost ease, to 
charm this singular creature into a pleasant and pleased 
companion. That he should succeed, was 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 try, more 
and more faintly, but always angrily, as if she condemned a 
weakness in herself, to resist the captivating power that he 
possessed; and finally, I saw her sharp glance soften, and her smile 
become quite gentle, and I ceased to be afraid of her as I had really 

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been all day, and we all sat about the fire, talking and laughing 
together, with as little reserve as if we had been children. 

Whether it was because we had sat there so long, or because 
Steerforth was resolved not to lose the advantage he had gained, I 
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 
Steerforth, softly, at the drawing-room door, 『and nobody but my 
mother has heard her do that, I believe, these three years.』 He said 
it with a curious smile, which 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 Rosa, don』t! Be kind for once, and 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 
Daisy, too, loves 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 her, or the chair from which she had risen, but 
sat himself near the harp. She stood beside it for some little while, 
in a curious way, going through the motion of playing it with her 
right hand, but not sounding it. At length she sat down, and drew 
it to her with one sudden action, and played and sang. 

I don』t know what it was, in her touch or voice, that made that 
song the most unearthly I have ever heard in my life, or can 
imagine. There was something fearful in the reality of it. It was as 
if it had never been written, or set to music, but sprung out of 
passion within her; which found imperfect utterance in the low 
sounds of her voice, and crouched again when all was still. I was 
dumb when she leaned beside the harp again, playing it, but not 
sounding it, with her right hand. 

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A minute more, and this had roused me from my trance:— 
Steerforth had left his seat, and gone to her, and had put his arm 
laughingly about her, and had said, 『Come, Rosa, for the future we 
will love each other very much!』 And she had struck him, and had 
thrown him off with the fury of a wild cat, and had burst out of the 
room. 

『What is the matter with Rosa?』 said Mrs. Steerforth, coming in. 

『She has been an angel, mother,』 returned Steerforth, 『for a 
little while; and has run into the opposite extreme, since, by way of 
compensation.』 

『You should be careful not to irritate her, James. Her temper 
has been soured, remember, and ought not to be tried.』 

Rosa did not come back; and no other mention was made of 
her, until I went with Steerforth into his