aunt had said to him, the day before yesterday, " Now, Dick,
are you really and truly the philosopher I take you for ?"
That then he had said. Yes, he hoped so. That then my aunt
had said, " Dick, I am ruined." That then he had said,
" Oh, indeed !" That then my aunt had praised him highly,
which he was very glad of. And that then they had come
to me and had had bottled porter and sandwiches on the
Mr. Dick was so very complacent, sitting on the foot of the
fied, nursing his leg, and telling me this, with his eyes wide
open, and a surprised smile, that I am sorry to say I was pro-
voked into explaining to him that ruin meant distress, want,
and starvation; but, I was soon bitterly reproved for this
harshness, by seeing his face turn pale, and tears course
down his lengthened cheeks, while he fixed upon me a look of
such unutterable woe, that it might have softened a far
harder heart than mine. I took infinitely greater pains to
cheer him up again than I had taken to depress him; and I
soon understood (as I ought to have known at first) that he
had been so confident, merely because of his faith in the
wisest and most wonderful of women, and his unbounded
reliance on my intellectual resources. The latter, I believe,
he considered a match for any kind of disaster not absolutely
" What can we do, Trotwood ?" said Mr. Dick. " There's
the Memorial ā "
" To be sure there is," said I. " But all we can do just
now, Mr. Dick, is to keep a cheerful countenance, and not
let my aunt see that we are thinking about it."
DAVID COPPERFIELD. 495
He assented to this in the most earnest manner; and im-
plored me, if I should see him wandering an inch out of
the right course, to recall him by some of those superior
methods which were always at my command. But I regret
to state that the fright I had given him proved too much for
his best attempts at concealment. All the evening his eyes
wandered to my aunt's face, with an expression of the most
dismal apprehension, as if he saw her growing thin on the
spot. He was conscious of this, and put a constraint upon
his head; but his keeping that immovable, and sitting rolling
his eyes like a piece of machinery, did not mend the matter
at all. I saw him look at the loaf at supper (which hap-
pened to be a small one), as if nothing else stood between
us and famine; and when my aunt insisted on his making
his customary repast, I detected him in the act of pocketing
fragments of his bread and cheese: I have no doubt for the
purpose of reviving us with those savings, when we should
have reached an advanced stage of attenuation.
My aunt, on the other hand, was in a composed frame of
mind, which was a lesson to all of us ā to me, I am. sure. She was
extremely gracious to Peggotty, except when I inadvertently
called her by that name ; and, strange as I knew she felt in
London, appeared quite at home. She was to have my bed,
and I was to lie in the sitting-room, to keep guard over her.
She made a great point of being so near the river, in case of
a conflagration ; and I suppose really did find some satisfac-
tion in that circumstance.
" Trot, my dear," said my aunt, when she saw me making
preparations for compounding her usual night-draught, '*No!"
" Nothing, aunt ?"
*' Not wine, my dear. Ale."
" But there is wine here, aunt. And you always have it
made of wine."
" Keep that, in case of sickness,"said my aunt. " We
mustn't use it carelessly. Trot. Ale for me. Half a pint."
I thought Mr. Dick would have fallen insensible. My
aunt being resolute, I went out and got the ale myself. As
it was growing late, Peggotty and Mr. Dick took that oppor-
tunity of repairing to the chandler's shop together. I parted
from him, poor fellow, at the corner of the street, with his
great kite at his back, a very monument of human misery.
My aunt was walking up and down the room when I re-
turned, crimping the borders of her nightcap with her fingers.
490 DAVID COPPERFIELD.
I warmed the ale and made the toast on the usual infallible
principles. When it was ready for her she was ready for it,
with her nightcap on, and the skirt of her gown turned back
on her knees.
" My dear," said my aunt after taking a spoonful of it ;
" it's a good deal better than wine. Not half so bilious."
I suppose I looked doubtful, for she added :
*' Tut, tut, child. If nothing worse than Ale happens ta
us, we are well off."
" I should think so myself, aunt, I am sure," said I.
" Well, then, why doni you think so ?" said my aunt.
" Because you and I are very different people," I returned.
" Stuff and nonsense. Trot !" replied my aunt.
My aunt went on with a quiet enjoyment, in which there
was very little affectation, if any ; drinking the warm ale
with a teaspoon, and soaking her strips of toast in it.
" Trot," said she, " I don't care for strange faces in gen-
eral but I rather like that Barkis of yours, do you know !"
" It is better than a hundred pounds to hear you say so, "
" It's a most extraordinary world," observed my aunt,
rubbing her nose ; " how that woman ever got into it with
that name, is unaccountable to me. It would be much more
easy to be born a Jackson, or something of that sort, one
*' Perhaps she thinks so, too ; it's not her fault," said I.
*' I suppose not," returned my aunt, rather grudging the
isidmission ; *' but it's very aggravating. However, she's
Barkis now. That's some comfort. Barkis is uncommonly
fond of you, Trot."
" There is nothing she would leave undone to prove it,"
"Nothing, I believe," returned my aunt. "Here the
poor fool has been begging and praying about handing over
some of her money ā because she has got too much of it ! A
My aunt's tears of pleasure were positively trickling down
into the warm ale.
" She's the most ridiculous creature that ever was born,"
said my aunt. " I knew, from the first moment when I saw
her with that poor dead blessed baby of a mother of yours,
that she was the most ridiculous of mortals. But there are
good points in Barkis !"
DAVID COPPERFIELD. 497
Affecting to laugh, she got an opportunity of putting her
hand to her eyes. Having availed herself of it^ she resumed
her toast and her discourse together,
"Ah! Mercy upon us!" sighed my aunt. " I know all
about it, Trot ! Barkis and myself had quite a gossip while
you were out with Dick. I know all about it. I don't know
where these wretched girls expect to go to, for my part. I
wonder they don't knock out their brains against ā against
mantelpieces," said my aunt ; an idea which was probably
suggested to her by her contemplation of mine.
" Poor Em'ly !" said I.
" Oh, don't talk to me about poor," returned my aunt.
" She should have thought of that before she caused so
much misery* Give me a kiss. Trot. I am sorry for your
As I bent forward, she put her tumbler on my knee to de-
tain me, and said :
" Oh, Trot, Trot ! And so you fancy yourself in love \
Do you ?"
" Fancy, aunt V I exclaimed, as red as I could be. " I
adore her with my whole soul !"
" Dora, indeed !" returned my aunt. And you mean to
say the little thing is very fascinating, I suppose ?"
" My dear aunt," I replied, " no one can form the least
idea what she is !"
" Ah ! And not silly ?" said my aunt.
" Silly, aunt !"
I seriously believed it had never once entered my
head for a single moment, to consider whether she was or
not. I resented the idea, of course; but I was in a manner
struck by it, as a new one altogether.
" Not light-headed .<*" said my aunt.
" Light-headed, aunt !" I could only repeat this daring
speculation with the same kind of feelings with which I had
repeated the preceding question.
" Well, well !" said my aunt. " I only ask. I don't de-
preciate her. Poor little couple ! And so you think you
were formed for one another, and are to go through a party-
supper-table kind of life, like two pretty pieces of confec-
tionery, do you. Trot ?"
She asked me this so kindly, and with such a gentle air,
half playful and half sorrowful, that I was quite touched.
"We are young and inexperienced, aunt, I know," I replied;
498 DAVID COPPERFIELD.
"and I dare say we say and think a good deal that is rather
fooHsh. But'we love one another truly, I am sure. If I
thought Dora could ever love anybody else, or cease to love
me; or that I could ever love anybody else, or cease to love
her; I don't know what I should do ā go out of my mind, I
" Ah, Trot!" said my aunt, shaking her head, and smiling
gravely; "blind, blind, blind !"
" Some one that I know, Trot," my aunt pursued, after a
pause, " though of a very pliant disposition, has an earnest-
ness of affection in him that reminds me of poor Baby.
Earnestness is what that Somebody must look for, to sus-
tain him and improve him, Trot. Deep, downright, faithful
" If you only knew the earnestness of Dora, aunt !" I
"Oh, Trot !" she said again; "blind, blind !" and with-
out knowing why, I felt a vague, unhappy loss or want of
something overshadow me like a cloud.
" However," said my aunt, " I don't want to put two
young creatures out of conceit with themselves, or to make
them unhappy; so, though it is a girl and boy attachment,
and girl and boy attachments very often ā mind ! I don't
say always ! come to nothing, still we'll be serious about
it, and hope for a prosperous issue one of these days.
There's time enough for it to come to anything !"
This was not upon the whole very comforting to a raptu-
rous lover; but I was glad to have my aunt in my confi-
dence, and I was mindful of her being fatigued. So I
thanked her ardently for this mark of her affection, and for
all her other kindnesses towards me; and after a tender
good night, she took her nightcap into my bedroom.
How miserable I was, when I lay down ! How I thought
and thought about my being poor, in Mr. Spenlow's eyes;
about my not being what I thought I was, when I proposed
to Dora; about the chivalrous necessity of telling Dora
what my worldly condition was, and releasing her from her
engagement if she thought fit; about how I should contrive
to live, during the long term of my articles, when I was
earning nothing; about doing something to assist my aunt,
and seeing no way of doing anything; about coming down
'ā .o have no money in my pocket, and to wear a shabby coat,
Liid to be able to carry Dora no little presents, and to ride
DAVID COPPERFIELD. 499
no gallant gtays, and to show myself in no agreeable light !
Sordid and selfish as I knew it was, and as I tortured my-
self by knowing that it was, to let my mind run on my own
distress so much, I was so devoted to Dora that I could not
help it. I knew that it was base in me not to think more of
my aunt, and less of myself; but, so far, selfishness was in-
separable from Dora, and I could not put Dora on one side
for any mortal creature. How exceedingly miserable I was,
that night !
As to sleep, I had dreams of poverty in all sorts of shapes,
but I seemed to dream without the previous ceremony of
going to sleep. Now I was ragged, wanting to sell Dora
matches, six bundles for a halfpenny; now I was at the
office in a nightgown and boots, remonstrated with by Mr.
Spenlow on appearing before the clients in that airy attire;
now I was hungrily picking up crumbs that fell from old
Tiffey's daily biscuit, regularly eaten when St. Paul's struck
one; now I was hopelessly endeavoring to get a license to
marry Dora, having nothing but one of Uriah Heep's gloves
to offer in exchange, which the whole Commons rejected;
and still, more or less conscious of my own room, I was
always tossing about like a distressed ship in a sea of bed-
My aunt was restless, too, for I frequently heard her walk-
ing to and fro. Two or three times in the course of the
night, attired in a long flannel wrapper in which she looked
some seven feet high, she appeared, like a disturbed ghost,
in my room, and came to the side of the sofa on which I lay.
On the first occasion I started up in alarm, to learn that she
inferred from a particular light in the sky, that Westminster
Abbey was on fire; and to be consulted in reference to the
probability of its igniting Buckingham Street, in case the
wind changed. Lying still, after that, I found that she sat
down near me, whispering to herself, "Poor boy!" And
then it made me twenty times more wretched, to know how
unselfishly mindful she was of me, and how selfishly mindful
I was of myself.
It was difficult to believe that a night so long to me, could
be short to anybody else. This consideration set me think-
ing, and thinking of an imaginary party where people were
ilancing the hours away, until that became a dream too, and
I heard the music incessantly playing one tune, and saw
Dora incessantly dancing one dance, without taking the least
50O DAVID COPPERFIELD.
notice of me. The man who had been playing the harp all
night, was trying in vain to cover it with an ordinary sized
nightcap, when I awoke; or, I should rather say, when I left
off trying to sleep, and saw the sun shining in through the
window at last.
There was an old Roman bath in those days at the bottom
of one of the streets out of the Strand ā it may be there
still ā in which I had many a cold plunge. Dressing myself
as quietly as I could, and leaving Peggotty to look after my
aunt, I tumbled head foremost into it, and then went for a
walk to Hampstead. I had a hope that this brisk treatment
might freshen my wits a little; and I think it did them good,
for I soon came to the conclusion that the first step I ought
to take was, to try if my articles could be canceled and the
premium recovered. I got some breakfast on the Heath,
and walked back to Doctors' Commons, along the watered
roads and through a pleasant smell of summer flowers, grow-
ing in gardens and carried into town on hucksters' heads,
intent on this first effort to meet our altered circum-
I arrived at the office so soon, after all, that I had half an
hour's loitering about the Commons, before old Tiffey, who
was always first, appeared with his key. Then I sat down
in my shady corner, looking up at the sunlight on the oppo-
site chimney-pots, and thinking about Dora; until Mr. Spen-
low came in crisp and curly.
" How are you, Copperfield ?" said he. " Fine morning!"
" Beautiful morning, sir," said I. '^ Could I say a word to
you before you go into Court ?"
" By all means," said he. " Come into my room."
I followed him into his room, and he began putting on his
gown, and touching himself up before a little glass he had,
hanging inside a closet door.
" I am sorry to say," said I, " that I have some rather dis-
heartening intelligence from my aunt."
"No!" said he. " Dear me! Not paralysis, I hope ?"
" It has no reference to her health, sir," I replied. " She
has met with some heavy losses. In fact, she has very little
" You as-tound me, Copperfield!" cried Mr. Spenlow!
I shook my head. " Indeed, sir," said I, "her affairs are
so changed, that I wish to ask you whether it would be pos-
sible ā at a sacrifice on our .part of some portion of the
DAVID COPPERFIELD. 501
premium, of course," I put in this on the spur of the mo-
ment, warned by the blank expression of his face ā " to
cancel my articles ?"
What it cost me to make this proposal, nobody knows.
It was like asking, as a favor, to be sentenced to transporta-
tion from Dora.
" To cancel your articles, Copperfield ? Cancel ?'*
I explained with tolerable firmness, that I really did not
know where my means of subsistence were to come from,
unless I could earn them for myself. I had no fear for the
future, I said ā and I laid great emphasis on that, as if to
imply that I should still be decidedly eligible for a son-in-
law one of these days ā but, for the present, I was thrown
upon my own resources.
" I am extremely sorry to hear this, Copperfield," said Mr.
Spenlow. *' Extremely sorry. It is not usual to cancel ar-
ticles for any such reason. It is not a professional course
of proceeding. It is not a convenient precedent at all. Far
from it. At the same time" ā ā¢
"You are very good, sir," I murmured, anticipating a
" Not at all. Don't mention it," said Mr. Spenlow. "At
the same time, I was going to say, if it had been my lot to
have my hands unfettered ā if I had not a partner ā Mr.
My hopes were dashed in a moment, but I made another
" Do you think, sir," said I, " if I were to mention it to
Mr. Jorkins ā "
Mr. Spenlow shook his head discouragingly. " Heaven
forbid, Copperfield," he replied, "that I should do any man
an injustice : still less, Mr. Jorkins. But I know my part-
ner, Copperfield. Mr. Jorkins is no^ a man to respond to a
proposition of this peculiar nature. Mr. Jorkins is very dif-
ficult to move from the beaten track. You know what
I am sure I knew nothing about him, except that he had
originally been alone in the business, and now lived by him-
self in a house near Montagu Square, which was fearfully in
want of painting ; that he came very late of a day, and went
away very early ; that he never appeared to be consulted
about anything ; and that he had a dingy little black-hole of
his own up-stairs, where no business was ever done, and
502 DAVID COPPERFIELD.
where there was a yellow old cartridge-paper pad upon his
desk, unsoiled by ink, and reported to be twenty years of
" Would you object to my mentioning it to him, sir ?" I
"By no means," said Mr. Spenlow. "But I have some
experience of Mr. Jorkins, Copperfield. I wish it were other-
wise, for I should be happy to meet your views in any re-
spect. I cannot have the least objection to your mention-
ing it to Mr. Jorkins, Copperfield, if you think it worth
Availing myself of this permission, which was given with
a warm shake of the hand, I sat thinking about Dora, and
looking at the sunlight stealing from the chimney-pots down
the wall of the opposite house, until Mr. Jorkins came. I
then went up to Mr. Jorkins's room, and evidently aston-
ished Mr. Jorkins very much by making my appearance
" Come in, Mr. Copperfield," said Mr. Jorkins. " Come
I went in, and sat down ; and stated my case to Mr. Jor-
kins pretty much as I had stated it to Mr. Spenlow. Mr.
Jorkins was by no means the awful creature one might have
expected, but a large, mild, smooth-faced man of sixty, who
took so much snuff that there was a tradition in the Com-
mons that he lived principally on that stimulant, having lit-
tle room in his system for any other article of diet.
" You have mentioned this to Mr. Spenlow, I suppose V
said Mr. Jorkins ; when he had heard me, very restlessly, to
I answered Yes, and told him that Mr, Spenlow had in-
troduced his name.
" He said I should object ?" asked Mr. Jorkins.
I was obliged to admit that Mr. Spenlow had considered
" I am sorry to say, Mr. Copperfield, I can't advance your
object," said Mr. Jorkins, nervously. " The fact is ā but I
have an appointment at the Bank, if you'll have the good-
ness to excuse me."
With that he rose in a great hurry, and was going out of
the room, when I made bold to say that I feared, then, there
was no way of arranging the matter.
"No!" said Mr. Jorkins, stopping at the door to shake
DAVID COPPERFIELD. 503
his head. "Oh, no! I object, you know," which he said
very rapidly, and went out. "You must be aware, Mr.
Copperfield," he added, looking restlessly in at the door
again, " if Mr. Spenlow objects "
" Personally, he does not object, sir," said I.
"Oh! Personally !"repeated Mr. Jorkins, in an impatient
manner. " I assure you there's an objection, Mr. Copperfield.
Hopeless ! What you wish to be done, can't be done. I ā I
r-eally havj got an appointment at the Bank." With that
he fairly ran away ; and, to the best of my knowledge, it
was three days before he showed himself in the Commons
Being very anxious to leave no stone unturned, I waited
until Mr. Spenlow came in, and then described what had
passed, giving him to understand that I was not hopeless of
his being able to soften the adamantine Jorkins, if he would
undertake that task.
" Copperfield," returned Mr. Spenlow, with a sagacious
smile, " you have not known my partner, Mr. Jorkins, as
long as I have. Nothing is farther from my thoughts than
to attribute any degree of artifice to Mr. Jorkins. But Mr.
Jorkins has a way of stating his objections which often de-
ceives people. No, Copperfield !" shaking his head. "Mr.
Jorkins is not to be moved, believe me !"
I was completely bewildered between Mr. Spenlow and
Mr. Jorkins, as to which of them really was the objecting
partner; but I saw with sufKcient clearness that there was
obduracy somewhere in the firm, and that the recovery of
my aunt's thousand pounds was out of the question. In a
state of despondency, which I remember with anything but
satisfaction, for I know it still had too much reference to
myself (though always in connexion with Dora), I left the
office, and went homeward.
I was trying to familiarize my mind with the worst, and to
present to myself the arrangements we should have to make
for the future in their sternest aspect, when a hackney
chariot coming after me, and stopping at my very feet, oc-
casioned me to look up. A fair hand was stretched forth to
me from the window; and the face I had never seen with-
out a feeling of serenity and happiness, from the moment
when it first turned back on the old oak staircase with the
great broad balustrade, and when I associated its softened
beauty with the stained glass window in the church, was
smiling on me.
504 DAVID COPPERFIELD.
" Agnes !" I joyfully exclaimed. " Oh, my dear Agnes,
of all people in the world, what a pleasure to see you !"
" Is it, indeed ?" she said in her cordial voice.
" I want to talk to you so much !" said I. " It's such a
lightening of my heart, only to look at you ! If I had had
a conjuror's cap, there is no one I should have wished for
but you !"
" What ?" returned Agnes.
" Well ! perhaps Dora, first," I admitted with a blush.
" Certainly, Dora first, I hope," said Agnes, laughing.
" But you next !" said I. " Where are you going ?"
She was going to my rooms to see my aunt. The day be-
ing very fine, she was glad to come out of the chariot, which
smelt (I had my head in it all this time) like a stable put
under a cucumber-frame. I dismissed the coachman, and
she took my arm, and we walked on together. She was like
Hope embodied, to me. How different I felt in one short
minute, having Agnes at my side !
My aunt had written her one of the odd abrupt notes ā
very little longer than a bank note ā to which her epistolary
efforts were usually limited. She had stated therein that
she had fallen into adversity, and was leaving Dover for
good, but had quite made up her mind to it, and was so well
that nobody need be uncomfortable about her. Agnes had
come to London to see my aunt, between whom and herself
there had been a mutual liking these many years; indeed, it
dated from the time of my taking up my residence in Mr.
Wickfield's house. She was not alone, she said. Her papa
was with her ā and Uriah Heep.
" And now they are partners," said I. " Confound him !"
" Yes," said Agnes. " They have some business here;
and I took advantage of their coming, to come too. You
must not think my visit all friendly and disinterested, Trot-
wood, for ā I am afraid I may be cruelly prejudiced ā I do
not like to let papa go away alone, with him."
** Does he exercise the same influence over Mr. Wickfield
still, Agnes ?"
Agnes shook her head. " There is such a change at home,"
said she, "that you would scarcely know the dear old house.
They live with us now."
" They ?" said I.
" Mr. Heep and his mother. He sleeps in your old room,"
said Agnes, looking up into my face.
DAVID COPPERFIELD. 505
" I wish I had the ordering of his dreams," said I. " He
wouldn't sleep there long."
" I keep my own little room," said Agnes, " wliere I used
to learn my lessons. How the time goes ! You remember?
The little paneled room that opens from the drawing-room?"
'' Remember, Agnes ? When I saw you, for the first
time, coming out at the door, with your quaint little basket
of keys hanging at your side ?"
" It's just the same," said Agnes, smiling. " I'm glad you
think of it so pleasantly. We were very happy."