on 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, suspicion 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
/Vgnes 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 canceled, and I were still stand-
ing in the doorway on the night of the departure, the ex-
pression of that night in the face of Mrs. Strong, as it con-
I cannot say what an impression this made upon me, or
how impossible I found it, when I thought of her after-
wards, to separate her from this look, and remember her face
in its innocent loveliness again. It haunted me when I got
DAVID COPPERFIELD. 281
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 them-
selves a 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 honor
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 up-
on 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 shil-
lings to drink. But he looked such a very obdurate butcher
as he stood scraping the great block in the shop, and more-
over, 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.
"Yes, William," I said condescendingly (I knew him); "I
am going to London. I shall go down into Suffolk after-
282 DAVID COPPERFIELD.
** 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
*' 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
"I'm told the dumplings is uncommon fine down there,"
I was not aware of it myself, but I felt it necessary to up-
hold the institutions of my county, and to evince a familiar-
ity with them; so I shook my head, as much as to say "I
"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,
" N— no," I said, " not exactly."
"Here's a gen'lm'n behind me, I'll pound it," said Wil-
liam, " 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 my head; and as I looked round
,at him, he leered at the leaders with the eye with which he
didn't squint, in a very knowing manner.
"Ain't you ?" said William.
"Ain't I what ?" asked 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
DAVID COPPERFIELD. 283
1 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
wou/d he 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 honor to that distinguished
eminence; I 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 Canterbury coach. It was in vain to take refuge
in gruffness of speech. I spoke from the pit of my stom-
ach for the rest of the journey, but I felt completely extin-
guished, 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 con-
spicuous landmark on the road. When I looked down at
the trampers whom we passed, and saw that well-remem-
bered style of face turned up, I felt as if the tinker's black-
~ ened 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 mon-
ster 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 per-
mission 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
284 DAVID COPPERFIELD.
moldy sort of establishment in a close neighborhood. 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 indif-
ferent to my opinions on any subject, and the waiter being
familiar with me, and offering advice to my inexperience.
" 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
humor for a fowl.
"Ain't you!" said the waiter. "Young gentlemen is gen-
erally 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 insinu-
ating smile, and his head on one side. " Young gentlemen
generally has been over-dosed with taters."
I commanded him in 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, Es-
quire — 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 favorable 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 in a foreign wine in anything like a
pure state; but I was bashful enough to drink it, and say
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
DAVID COPPERFIELD. 285
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 Komans alive before me, and walk-
ing 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 re-
volving it still, at past one o'clock, with my eyes on the
I was so filled with the play, and with the past — for it was,
in a manner, like a shining transparency, through which 1
saw my earlier life moving along — that I don't know when
the figure of a handsome well-formed young man, dressed
with a tasteful, easy negligence, which I have reason to re-
member 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
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 con-
dition of my mind, where the play was still running high, his
286 DAVID COPPERFIELD.
former protection of me appeared so deserving of my grati-
tude, 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 littk Copper-
I grasped him by both hands, and could not let him go.
But for very shame, and the fear that I might displease him,
I could have held him around the neck and cried.
" I never, never, never was so glad ! My dear Steerforth,
I am so overjoyed to see you !"
" 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, to-day. I have
been adopted by an aunt down in that part of the country,
and have just finished my education there. How do j'^//
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, periodi-
cally — 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
"I knew you immediately," I said; "but you are more
He laughed as he ran his hands through the clustering
curls of his hair, and said gaily:
" Yes, I am on an expedition of duty. My movher lives
a little way out of town; and the roads being in a beastly
condition, and our house tedious enough, I remained here
to-night instead of going on. I have not been in town half-
a-dozen hours, and those I have been dozing and grumb-
ling away at the play."
DAVID COPPERFIELD. 287
" I have been at the play, too," said I. " At Covent
Garden. What a delightful and magnificent entertainment,
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 miser-
able business! — Holloa, you, sir!"
This was addressed to the waiter, who had been very at-
tentive to our recognition, at a distance, and now came for-
" Where have you put my friend, Mr. Copperfield?" said
" 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 the
" Why, you see, we wasn't aware, sir," returned the waiter,
still apologetically, " as Mr. Copperfield was anyways particu-
lar. 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 up-stairs, where we parted with friendly heartiness
at his door, and where I found my new room a great im-
provement 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 an-
cient Rome, Steerforth, and friendship, until the early
morning coaches, rumbling out of the archway underneath,
made me dream of thunder and the god^s.
288 DAVID COPPERFIELD.
When the chambermaid tapped at my door at eight
o'clock, and informed me that my shaving-water was out-
side, 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, in-
deed, 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
It was not in the coffee-room that I found Steerforth
expecting me, but in a snug private apartment, red-cur-
tained 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 ele-
gant, and superior to me in all respects (age included);
but his easy patronage soon put that to rights, and made
me quite at home. I could not enough admire the change
he had wrought in the Golden Cross; or compare the dull
forlorn state I had held 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
" 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
DAVID COPPERFIELD. 289
Glowing with pleasure to find that he had still this inter-
est 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 sure of that, as you are kind enough
to say you are," I answered, smiling.
"Oh!" said Steerforth, ** every one who likes me has a
claim on her that is sure to be acknowledged."
" Then I think I shall be a favorite," 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 soli-
tary box in the cgffee-room and the familiar waiter again.
After I had written to my aunt, and told her of my fortun-
ate meeting with my admired old school-fellow, 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
" 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."
"/ 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 dis-
tinguish 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?
250 DAVID COPPERFIELD.
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 diffi-
cult to do, for Steerforth could always pass from one sub-
ject to another with a carelessness and lightness that were
Lunch succeeded to our sight-seeing; and the short win-
ter 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 proud carriage and a hand-
some 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 vapor, with here and there
some lights twinkling through it. I had only time, in dress-
ing, to glance at the solid furniture, ftie framed pieces of
work (done, I supposed, by Steerforth's mother when she
was a girl), and some pictures in crayons of ladies with pow-
dered 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 atten-
tion: perhaps because I had not expected to see her; per-
haps 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 discolored, and had healed years ago
— which had once cut through her mouth, downward to-
wards 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 mar-
ried. She was a little dilapidated — like a house — with hav-
ing been so long to let; yet had, as I have said, an appear-
ance of good looks. Her thinness seemed to be the effect
DAVID COPPERFIELD. 291
of some wasting fire within her, which found a vent in her
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 com-
panion. 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