loved her every minute, day and night, since I first saw her.
I loved her at that minute to distraction. I should always
love her, every minute, to distraction. Lovers had loved
before, and lovers would love again; but no lover had ever
loved, might, could, would, or should ever love, as I loved
The more I raved, the more Jip barked. Each of
us, in his own way, got more mad every moment.
Well, well ! Dora and I were sitting on the sofa by-and-
by, quiet enough, and Jip was lying in her lap, winking
peacefully at me. It was off my mind. I was in a state of
perfect rapture. Dora and I were engaged.
I suppose we had some notion that this was to end in
marriage. We must have had some, because Dora stipulated
that we were never to be married without her papa's con-
sent. But, in our youthful ecstasy, I don't think that we
really looked before us or behind us; or had any aspiration
beyond the ignorant present. We were to keep our secret
from Mr. Spenlow; but I am sure the idea never entered
my head, then, that there was anything dishonorable in that.
Miss Mills was more than usually pensive when Dora, go-
ing to find her, brought her back; — I apprehend, because
there was a tendency in what had passed to awaken the
slumbering echoes in the caverns of memory. But she gave
us her blessing, and the assurance of her lasting friendship,
and spoke to us, generally, as became a Voice from the
What an idle time it was ! What an unsubstantial, happy,
foolish time it was !
484 DAVID COPPERFIELD.
When I measured Dora's finger for a ring that was to be
made of Forget-me-nots, and when the jeweler, to whom I
took the measure, found me out, and laughed over his order-
book, and charged me anything he liked, for the pretty little
toy, with its blue stones — so associated in my remembrance
with Dora's hand, that yesterday, when I saw such another,
by chance, on the finger of my own daughter, there was a
momentary stirring in my heart, like pain !
When I walked about, exalted with my secret, and full of
my own interest, and felt the dignity of loving Dora, and of
being beloved, so much, that if I had walked the air I could
not have been more above the people not so situated, who
were creeping on the earth !
When we had those meetings in the garden of the square,
and sat within the dingy summer-house, so happy, that I
love the London sparrows to this hour, for nothing else,
and see the plumage of the tropic in their smoky feathers !
When we had our first great quarrel (within a week of
our betrothal), and when Dora sent me back the ring, in-
closed in a despairing cocked-hat note, wherein she used the
terrible expression that " our love had begun in folly and
ended in madness !" which dreadful words occasioned me
to tear my hair, and cry that all was over !
When, under cover of the night, I flew to Miss Mills,
whom I saw by stealth in a back kitchen where there was a
mangle, and implored Miss Mills to interpose between us
and avert insanity. When Miss Mills undertook the office
and returned with Dora, exhorting us, from the pulpit of her
own bitter youth, to mutual concession, and the avoidance
of the Desert of Sahara !
When we cried, and made it up, and were so blest again,
that the back kitchen, mangle and all, changed to Love's
own temple, where we arranged a plan of correspondence
through Miss Mills, always to comprehend at least one letter
on each side every day !
What an idle time ! What an unsubstantial, happy,
foolish time ! Of all the times of mine that Time has in his
grip, there is none that in one retrospection I can smile at
half so much, and think of half so tenderly.
1>AVID COPPERFIELD. 48$
MY AUNT ASTONISHES ME.
I WROTE to Agnes as soon as Dora and I were engaged.
I wrote her a long letter, in which I tried to make her com-
prehend how blest I was, and what a darling Dora was. I
entreated Agnes not to regard this as a thoughtless passion
which could ever yield to any other, or had the least re-
semblance to the boyish fancies that we used to joke about.
I assured her that its profundity was quite unfathomable,
and expressed my belief that nothing like it had ever been
Somehow, as I wrote to Agnes on a fine evening by my
open window, and the remembrance of her clear calm eyes
and gentle face came stealing over me, it shed such a peace-
ful influence upon the hurry and agitation in which I had
been living lately, and of which my very happiness partook
in some degree, that it soothed me into tears. I remember
that I sat resting my head on my hand, when the letter was
half done, cherishing a general fancy as if Agnes were one
of the elements of my natural home. As if, in the retire-
ment of the house made almost sacred to me by her pres-
ence, Dora and I must be happier than anywhere. As if,
in love, joy, sorrow, hope, or disappointment; in all emo-
tions; my heart turned naturally there, and found its refuge
and best friend.
Of Steerforth, I said nothing. I only told her there had
been sad grief at Yarmouth, on account of Em'ly's flight;
and that on me it had made a double wound, by reason of
the circumstances attending it. I knew how quick she
always was to divine the truth, and that she would never be
the first to breath his name.
To this letter I received an answer by return of post. As
I read it, I seemed to hear Agnes speaking to me. It was
like her cordial voice in my ears. What can I say more ?
While I had been away from home lately, Traddles had
called twice or thrice. Finding Peggotty within, and being
informed by Peggotty (who always volunteered that infor-
mation to whomsoever would receive it), that she was my old
nurse, he had established a good-humored acquaintance
with her, and had stayed to have a little chat with her about
486 DAVID COPPERFIELD.
me. So Peggotty said; but I am afraid the chat was all on
her own side, and of immoderate length, as she was very-
difficult indeed to stop, God bless her ! when she had me
for her theme.
This reminds me, not only that I expected Traddles on a
certain afternoon of his own appointing, which was now
come, but that Mrs. Crupp had resigned everything apper-
taining to her office (the salary excepted) until Peggotty
should cease to present herself. Mrs. Crupp, after holding
divers conversations respecting Peggotty, in a very high
pitched voice, on the staircase — with some invisible Familiar
it would appear, for corporeally speaking she was quite alone
at those times — addressed a letter to me, developing her
views. Beginning it with that statement of universal appli-
cation, which fitted every occurrence of her life, namely, that
she was a mother herself, she went on to inform me that she
had once seen very different days, but that at all periods of
her existence she had had a constitutional objection to spies,
intruders, and informers. She named no names, she said;
let them the cap fitted, wear it; but spies, intruders, and in-
formers, especially in widder's weeds (this clause was under-
lined), she had ever accustomed herself to look down upon.
If a gentleman was the victim of spies, intruders, and in-
formers (but still naming no names), that was his own plea-
sure. He had a right to please himself; so let him do. All
that she, Mrs. Crupp, stipulated for, was, that she should not
be " brought in contact " with such persons. Therefore,
she begged to be excused from any further attendance on
the top set, until things was as they formerly was, and as they
could be wished to be; and further mentioned that her little
book would be found upon the breakfast- table every Satur-
day morning, when she requested immediate settlement of
the same, with the benevolent view of saving trouble, " and
an ill-conwenience " to all parties.
After this, Mrs. Crupp confined herself to making pitfalls
on the stairs, principally with pitchers, and endeavoring to
delude Peggotty into breaking her legs. I found it rather
harassing to live in this state of siege, but was too much
afraid of Mrs. Crupp to see any way out of it.
" My dear Copperfield," cried Traddles, punctually ap-
j)earing at my door, in spite of all these obstacles, " how do
you do ?"
" My dear Traddles/* said I, " I am delighted to see you
DAVID COPPERFIELD. 487
at last, nnd very sorry I liave not been at home before. But
I have been so much engaged "
"Yes, yes, I know," said Traddles, "of course. Your's
lives in London, 1 think."
" What did you say ?"
"She — excuse me — Miss D., you. know," said Traddles,
coloring in his great delicacy, " lives in London I beHeve ?"
" Oh yes. Near London."
"Mine, perhaps you recollect," said Traddles, with a
serious look, " lives down in Devonshire — one of ten. Con-
sequently, I am not so much engaged as you — in tha^ sense."
" I wonder you can bear," I returned, " to see her so
" Hah !" said Traddles, thoughtfully. " It does seem a
wonder. I suppose it is, Copperfield, because there's no
help for it ?"
" I suppose so," I replied, with a smile, and not without a
blush. " And because you have so much constancy and
" Dear me !" said Traddles, considering about it, " do I
strike you in that way, Copperfield ? Really I didn't know
that I had. But she is such an extraordinarily dear girl
herself, that it's possible she may have imparted something
of those virtues to me. Now you mention it, Copperfield, I
shouldn't wonder at all. I assure you she is always forget-
ting herself, and taking care of the other nine."
" Is she the eldest ?" I inquired.
" Oh dear, no," said Traddles. " The eldest is a Beauty."
He saw, I suppose, that I could not help smiling at the
simplicity of this reply; and added, with a smile upon his
own ingenuous face:
" Not, of course, but that my Sophy — pretty name, Cop-
perfield, I always think ?"
" Very pretty !" said I.
" Not, of course, but that Sophy is beautiful too, in my
eyes, and would be one of the dearest girls that ever was, in
anybody's eyes (I should think). But when I say the eldest
is a Beauty, I mean she is really a — " he seemed to be de-
scribing clouds about himself, with both hands. " Splendid,
you know," said Traddles, energetically.
"Indeed!" said I.
"Oh, I assure you," said Traddles, "something very xin-
common, indeed ! Then, you know, being formed for
488' DAVID COPPERFIELD.
society and admiration, and not being able to enjoy much
of it, in consequence of their limited means, she naturally
gets a little irritable and exacting, sometimes. Sophy puts
her in good humor !"
" Is Sophy the youngest ?" I hazarded.
" Oh dear, no !" said Traddles, stroking his chin. "The
two youngest are only nine and ten. Sophy educates 'em."
" The second daughter, perhaps ?" I hazarded.
" No," said Traddles. " Sarah's the second. Sarah has
something the matter with her spine, poor girl. The malady
will wear out by-and-by, the doctors say, but in the mean-
time she has to lie down for a twelvemonth. Sophy nurses
her. Sophy's the fourth."
" Is the mother living ?" I inquired.
" Oh yes," said Traddles, " she is alive. She is a very
superior woman, indeed, but the damp country is not adapted
to her constitution, and — in fact, she has lost the use of her
" Dear me !" said I.
" Very sad, is it not ?" returned Traddles. " But in a
merely domestic view it is not so bad as it might be, because
Sophy takes her place. She is quite as much a mother to
her mother, as she is to the other nine."
I felt the greatest admiration for the virtues of this young
lady, and, honestly with the view of doing my best to pre-
vent the good-nature of Traddles from being imposed upon,
to the detriment of their joint prospects in life, inquired
how Mr. Micawber was ?
" He is quite well, Copperfield, thank you," said Traddles.
" I am not living with him at present."
" No r
" No. You see the truth is," said Traddles, in a whisper,
" he has changed his name to Mortimer, in consequence of
his temporary embarrassments; and he don't come out till
after dark — and then in spectacles. There was an execu-
tion put into our house, for rent. Mrs. Micawber was in
such a dreadful state that I really couldn't resist giving my
name to that second bill we spoke of here. You may ima-
gine how delightful it was to my feelings, Copperfield, to
see the matter settled with it, and Mrs. Micawber recover
" Hum !" said I.
" Not that her happiness was of long duration," pursued
DAVID COPPERFIELD. 489
Traddles, " for unfortunately, within a week another execu-
tion came in. It broke up the establishment. I have been
living in a furnished apartment since then, and the Mortimers
have been very private indeed. I hope you won't think it
selfish, Copperfield, if I mention that the broker carried off
my little round table with the marble top and Sophy's
flower-pot and stand ?"
"What a hard thing !" I exclaimed indignantly.
"It was a — it was a pull," said Traddles, with his usual
wince at that expression. " I don't mention it reproach-
fully, however, but with a motive. The fact is. Copper-
field, I was unable to repurchase them at the time of their
seizure; in the first place, because the broker, having an
idea that I wanted them, ran the price up to an extravagant
extent; and, in the second place, because I — hadn't any
money. Now, I have kept my eye since, upon the broker's
shop," said Traddles, with a great enjoyment of his mystery,
" which is up at the top of Tottenham Court Road, and, at
last, to-day I find them put out for sale. I have only notic-
ed them from over the way, because if the broker saw me^
bless you, he'd ask any price for them ! What has occurred
to me, having now the money, is, that perhaps you wouldn't
object to ask that good nurse of yours to come with me to
the shop — I can show it her from round the corner of the
next street — and make the best bargain for them, as if they
were for herself, that she can !"
The delight with which Traddles propounded this plan to
me, and the sense he had of its uncommon artfulness, are
among the freshest things in my remembrance.
I told him that my old nurse would be delighted to assist
him, and that we would all three take the field together, but
on one condition. That condition was, that he should
make a solemn resolution to grant no more loans of his
name, or anything else, to Mr. Micawber.
" My dear Copperfield," said Traddles, " I have already
done so, because I begin to feel that I have not only been
inconsiderate, but that I have been positively unjust to
Sophy. My word being passed to myself, there is no longer
any apprehension; but I pledge it to you, too, with the
greatest readiness. That first unlucky obligation, I have
paid. I have no doubt Mr. Micawber would have paid it if
he could, but he could not. One thing I ought to mention,
which I like very much in Mr. Micawber, Copperfield. It
^^Q DAVID COPPERFIELD.
refers to the second obligation, which is not yet due. He don't
tell me that it is provided for, but he says it will be. Now,
I think there is something very fair and honest about that !"
I was unwilling to damp my good friend's confidence, and
therefore assented. After a litttle further conversation, we
went round to the chandler's shop, to enlist Peggotty;
Traddles declining to pass the evening with me, both
because he endured the liveliest apprehensions that his prop-
erty would be bought by somebody else before he could
repurchase it, and because it was the evening he always
devoted to writing to the dearest girl in the world.
I never shall forget him peeping round the corner of the
street in Tottenham Court Road, while Peggotty was bar-
gaining for the precious articles; or his agitation when she
came slowly towards us after vainly offering a price, and
was hailed by the relenting broker, and went back again.
The end of the negotiation was, that she bought the property
on tolerably easy terms, and Traddles was transported with
'' I am very mubh obliged to you, indeed," sgid Traddles,
on hearing it was to be sent to where he lived, that night.
" If I might ask one other favor, I hope you wouldn't think
it absurd, Copperfield .<*"
I said beforehand, certainly not.
" Then if you would be good enough," said Traddles to
Peggotty, " to get the flower-pot now, I think I should like
(it being Sophy's, Copperfield) to carry it home myself !"
Peggotty was glad to get it for him, and he overwhelmed
her with thanks and went his way up Tottenham Court
Road, carrying the flower-pot affectionately in his arms,
with one of the most delighted expressions of countenance
I ever saw.
We then turned back towards my chambers. As the
shops had charms for Peggotty which I never knew them
possess in the same degree for anybody else, I sauntered
easily along, amused by her staring in at the windows, and
waiting for her as often as she chose. We were thus a good
while in getting to the Adelphi.
On our way up stairs, I called her attention to the sudden
disappearance of Mrs. Crupp's pitfalls, and also to tlie prints
of recent footsteps. We were both very much surprised,
coming higher up, to find my outer door standing open
(which I had shut), ana to hear voices inside.
DAVID COPPERFIELD. 491
We looked at one another, without knowing what to make
of this, and went into the sitting-room. What was my amaze-
ment to find, of all people upon earth, my aunt there, and Mr.
Dick! My aunt sitting on a quantity of luggage, with her
two birds before her, and her cat on her knee, like a female
Robinson Crusoe, drinking tea. Mr. Dick leaning thought-
fully on a great kite, such as we had often been out together
to fly, with more luggage piled about him!
"My dear aunt!" cried I. ''Why, what an unexpected
We cordially embraced; and Mr. Dick and I cordially
shook hands; and Mrs. Crupp, who was busy making tea,
and could not be too attentive, cordially said she had knowed
well as Mr. CopperfuU would have his heart in his mouth,
when he sees his dear relations.
" Halloa!" said my aunt to Peggotty, who quailed before
her awful pres-ence. *^}iow Rveyou?"
" You remember my aunt, Peggotty?"* said I.
" For the love of goodness, child," exclaimed my aunt,
" don't call the woman by that South Sea Island name ! If
she married and got rid of it, which was the best thing she
could do, why don't you give her the benefit of the change ?
What's your name now P .?" said my aunt, as a compromise
for the obnoxious appellation.
" Barkis, ma'am," said Peggotty with a curtsey.
" Well! that's human," said my aunt. " It sounds less as
if you wanted a Missionary. How d'ye do, Barkis ? I
hope you're well ?"
Encouraged by these gracious words, and by my aunt's
extending her hand, Barkis came forward, and took the hand,
and curtseyed her acknowledgments.
" We are older than we were, I see," said my aunt. " We
have only met each other once before, you know. A nice
business we made of 'it then! Trot, my dear, another cup."
I handed it dutifully to my aunt, who was in her usual
inflexible state of figure; and ventured a remonstrance with
her on the subject of her sitting on a box.
*' Let me draw the sofa here, or the easy chair, aunt,"
said I. " Why should you be so uncomfortable ?"
" Thank you, Trot," replied my aunt, " I prefer to sit
upon my property." Here my aunt looked hard at Mrs.
Crupp, and observed. "We needn't trouble you to wait,
492 DAVID COPPERFIELD.
" Shall I put a little more tea into the pot afore I go,
ma'am ?" said Mrs. Crupp.
** No, I thank you, ma'am," replied my aunt.
" Would you let me fetch another pat of butter, ma'am ?''
said Mrs. Crupp. *' Or would you be persuaded to try a new
laid hegg ? or should I brile a rasher ? Ain't there nothing I
could do for your dear aunt, Mr. Copperfull ?"
"Nothing, ma am," returned my aunt. " I shall do very
well, I thank you."
Mrs. Crupp, who had been incessantly smiling to express
sweet temper, and incessantly holding her head on one side,
to express a general feebleness of constitution, and in-
cessantly rubbing her hands, to express a desire to be of
service to all deserving objects, gradually smiled herself,
one-sided herself, and rubbed herself, out of the room.
"Dick!" said my aunt. "You know what I told you
about time-servers and wealth-worshipers } "
Mr. Dick — with rather a scared look, as if he had forgotten
it — returned a hasty answer in the affirmative.
" Mrs. Crupp is one of them," said my aunt. " Barkis,
I'll trouble you to look after the tea, and let me have another
cup, for I don't fancy that woman's pouring-out."
I knew my aunt sufficiently well to know that she had
something of importance on her mind, and that there was
far more matter in this arrival than a stranger might have
supposed. I noticed how her eye lighted on me, when she
thought my attention otherwise occupied; and what a curious
process of hesitation appeared to be going on within her,
while she preserved her outward stiffness and composure.
I began to reflect whether I had done anything to offend
her; and my conscience whispered me that I had not yet
told her about Dora. Could it by any means be that, I
As I knew she would only speak in her own good time, I
sat down near her, and spoke to the birds, and played with
the cat, and was as easy as I could be. But 1 was very far
from being really easy; and I should still have been so, even
if Mr. Dick, leaning over the great kite behind my aunt, had
not taken every secret opportunity of shaking his head
darkly at me, and pointing at her.
"Trot," said my aunt at last, when she had finished her
tea, and carefully smoothed down her dress, and wiped her
lips — " you needn't go, Barkis ! — Trot, have you got to be
firm, and self-reliant ?'*
DAVID COPPERFIELD. 493
"I hope so, aunt."
" What do you think ?" inquired Miss Betsey
" I think so, aunt."
" Then why, my love," said my aunt, looking earnestly at
me, " why do you think I prefer to sit upon this property of
mine to-night ?"
I shook my head, unable to guess.
" Because," said my aunt, " it's all I have. Because I'm
ruined, my dear !"
If the house, and every one of us, had tumbled out into
the river together, I could hardly have received a greater
" Dick knows it," said my aunt, laying her hand calmly on
my shoulder. " I am ruined, my dear Trot ! All I have in
the world is in this room, except the cottage; and that I
have left Janet to let. Barkis, I want to get a bed for this
gentleman to-night. To save expense, perhaps you can
make up something here for myself. Anything will do.
It's only for to-night. We'll talk about this, more, to-morrow."
I was roused from my amazement, and concern for her —
I am sure for her — by her falling on my neck, for a moment,
and crying that she only grieved for me. In another mo-
ment, she suppressed this emotion; and said with an aspect
more triumphant than dejected:
" We must meet reverses boldly, and not suffer them to
frighten us, my dear. We must learn to act the play out.
We must live misfortune down, Trot 1"
As soon as I could recover my presence of mind, which
quite deserted me in the first overpowering shock of my
aunt's intelligence, I proposed to Mr. Dick to come round
to the chandler's shop, and take possession of the bed which
Mr. Peggotty had lately vacated. The chandler's shop be-
ing in Hungerford Market, and Hungerford Market being a
very different place in those days, there was a low wooden
colonnade before the door, (not very unlike that before the
house where the little man and woman used to live, in the
old weather-glass), which pleased Mr Dick mightily. The
494 DAVID COPPERFIELD.
glory of lodging over this structure would have compen-
sated him, I dare say, for many inconveniences; but, as
there were really few to bear, beyond the compound of
flavors I have already mentioned, and perhaps the want of
a little more elbow-room, he was perfectly charmed with
his accommodation. Mrs. Crupp had indignantly assured
him that there wasn't room to swing a cat there ; but, as
Mr. Dick justly observed to me, sitting down on the foot of
the bed, nursing his leg, " You know, Trotwood, I don't
want to swing a cat. I never do swing a cat. Therefore,
what does that signify to meV^
I tried to ascertain whether Mr. Dick had any under-
standing of the causes of this sudden and great change in
my aunt's affairs. As I might have expected, he had none
at all. The only account he could give of it, was that my