Charles Dickens.

The personal history, adventures, experience, and observation of David Copperfield the Younger of Blunderstone Rookery. (Volume 2) online

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another point of view, as a word to the wise, and a warning in
future to keep my secret better.



CHAPTER XI.

Tommy Traddles.

It may have been In consequence of Mrs. Crupp's advice,
and, perhaps, fy no better reason than because there was a
certain similarity in the sound of the words 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
af Camden Town, which was principally tenanted, as one of
our clerks who lived in that direction informed me , by gen-
tlemen«f tudents, who bought live donkeys, and made experi-
ments 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 school-fellow.

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 inhabi-
tants 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 accouut 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 inde-
scribable character of faded gentility that attached to the
house I sought, and made it unlike all the other houses in the



109



street — though they 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 heerc^on? "

"Oh master says he 'II attend to it immediate," was the
reply.

"Because," said the milkman, going on as if he had re-
ceived 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 be-
lieve 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



200



to-morrow. D'ye hear? Not a fragment of milk you won't
have to-morrow."

I thought she seemed, upon the whole, relieved, by the
prospect of having any to-day. The milkman, after shaking
his head at her, darkly, released her chin, and with any thing
rather than good will opened his can, and deposited the usual
quantity in the family jug. This done, he went away, mutter-
ing, 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 up-stairs ; con-
scious, aslpassed the back parlour-door, thatlwassurveyedby
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 land-
ing 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, buti saw every-
thing, 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 IVlicawber times. Various ingenious arrangements he
had made, for the disguise of his chest of drawers, and the ac-
commodation of his boots, his shaving-glass, and so forth, par-



201



ticularly impressed themselves upon me, as evidences of the
same Traddles who used to make models of elephant's 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 men-
tioned.

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, Copperiield," he returned. "I
am very glad indeed to see you. It was becauselwas thorough-
ly 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 1 made a pretence of doing any thing else."

"You are reading for the bar, Mr. Waterbrook informed
me?" said I.

"Why, yes," said Traddles, rubbing his hand", slowly over
one another, "1 am reading for the bar. The fact is, I have



202



just begun to keep my terms, after rather a long delay. It 'a
some time sincelwas 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 1
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 gomg on. Do you remember the nights
in the bed-room? 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 1 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? Per-
haps 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 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



203



— cloth-merchant — and had made me his heir. But he didn't
like me when I grew up."

"Do you really mean that? " said I. He was so composed,
that I fancied he must have some other meaning.

"O dear yes, Copperfieldl 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?" Tasked.

"I didn't do anything in particular," said Traddles. "1
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. 1
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 cas^es for them, and make
abstracts, and do that sort of work. For I am a plodding kind
of fellow, Copperfield, and had learnt the way of doing such
things pithily. Well 1 That put it In my head to enter myself
as a law student ; and that ran away with all that was left of the
fifty pounds. Yawler recommended me to one or two other
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 get-



204



ting up an EncyclopaBdia, and he set mo 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, preser-
ving the same air of cheerful confidence in all he said, "butl
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 cer-
tainly 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, thatlsha'n't conceal anything. There-
fore you must know that I am engaged."

Engaged 1 OhDoral

"She is a curate's daughter," said Traddles; "one often,
down in Devonshire. Yes ! " For he saw me glance, involun-
tarily, 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 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.



20f)



"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!' "NVe 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 bis chair, and, with a triumphant smile,
put his hand upon the white cloth I had observed.

"However," be said, "it 's not that we haven't made a be-
ginning 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 fur-
niture to commence with. This llower-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 I This little round table with the marble top (it 's two feet
ten in circumference) , / 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 1 "

I praised them both, highly, and Traddles replaced the
covering as carefully as he had removed it.

"It 's not a great deal towanls the furnishing," said Trad-
dles, "but it 's something. The table-cloths and pillow-cases,
and articles of that kind, are what discourage me most, Cop-
perfield. So does the Iron-monger)- — candle-boxes, and grid-
irons, and that sort of necessaries — because those things
tell, and mount up. However, 'wait and hope! ' And I as-
sure you she *s the dearest girl! "



206



"I am quite certain of it," said I.

"In the mean time," 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 down-stairs, who
are very agreeable people indeed. Both Mr. and Mrs. Mi-
cawberhave seen a good deal of life, and are excellent com-
pany."

"My dear Traddles 1 " I quickly exclaimed. "What are
you talking about ! ' '

Traddles looked at me, as if he wondered what / was
talking about.

"Mr. and Mrs. Micawber!" I repeated. "Why, lam
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, re-
solved any doubt in my mind as to their being my old friends.
I begged Traddles to a«k his landlord to walk up. Traddles
accordingly did so, over the bannister; 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 old roll in his voice, as he checked himself in hum-
ming a soft tune. " I was not aware that there was any indivi-
dual, alien to this tenement, in your sanctum."

Mr. Micawber slightly bowed to me, and pulled up bis
shirt-collar.

"How do you do, Mr. Micawber?" said I.

"Sir," said Mr. Micawber, "you are exceedingly obliging,
lam in statu quo."

"And Mrs. Micawber?" I pursued.



207



"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 Copperfieldl" and shook me by both hands with
the utmost fervour.

"Goodlleaven, 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 bannisters 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 I "

Mr. Micawber immediately reappeared, and shook hands
with me again.

*' And how is our good friend the Doctor, Copperfield?"
said Mr. Micawber, "and all the circle at Canterbury?"

"I have none but good accounts of them , " said I.

"I am most delighted to hear it," said Mr. Micawber. "It
was at Canterbury where we last met. Within the 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. ^licawber, "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



208



washing her hands, and hurriedly opening and shutting
drawers that were uneasy in their action.

"You find us, Copperfield," saidMr.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 ac-
cused 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 be-
lieve 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.

"My dear," saidMr.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 his 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 trepi-
dation, to run down to the water-butt in the back yard, and
draw a basinful to lave lier 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



209



Master and Miss Micawber, whom she described as ''absolute
giants," but they were not produced on that occasion.

Mr. Micawber was ver} anxious that I sliouhl 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. Mi-
cawber'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 some-
what distant one; but an appointment was made for the pur-
pose, 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.

"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 bo
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, dwell-
ing next door, and a Bow-street officer residing over the
way, you may imagine that his society is a source of conso-
lation to myself and to Mrs. Micawber. I am at present, my
dear Copperfield, engaged In the sale of corn upon commis-
sion. It is not an avocation of a remunerative description —
in other words it does not pay — and some temporary em-
barrassments of a pecuniary nature have been the conse-
quence. I am , however, delighted to add that I have now an
DnviA Copperfield, II. 1-4



210



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 ad-
dition may be ultimately made to those pledges of affection
which — in short, to the infantme group. Mrs. Micawber's fa-
mily have been so good as to express their dissatisfaction with
this state of things. I have merely to observe, that I am not
aware it is any business of theirs, and that I repel that exhibi-
tion of feeling with scorn , and with defiance! "

Mr. Micawber then shook hands with me again, and
left me.



CHAPTER XU.

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 dis-
appointment 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 re-
ference 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 compro-
mise was effected; and Mrs. Crupp consented to achieve this
feat, on condition that I dined from home for a fortnight
afterwards.

14*



212



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 any one. 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 be-
come so ill, that I was glad, at any sacrifice of brandy or any-
thing 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 aiTangement — one motion of her hand to-
wards 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,


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