and accepted the invitation. Sometimes Dora only was
asked. The time had been when I should have been uneasy
in her going; but reflection on what had passed that former
night in the Doctor's study had made a change in my mis-
trust. I believed that the Doctor was right, and I had no
My aunt rubbed her nose sometimes when she happened
to be alone with me, and said she couldn't make it out; she
wished they were happier; she didn't think our military
friend (so she always called the Old Soldier) mended the
matter at all. My aunt further expressed her opinion," that
if our military friend would cut off those butterflies, and
give 'em to the chimney-sweepers for May-day, it would
look like the beginning of something sensible on her part."
But her abiding reliance was on Mr. Dick. That man
had evidently an idea in his head, she said; and if he could
only once pen it up in a corner, which was his great diffi-
culty, he would distinguish himself in some extraordinary
Unconscious of this prediction, Mr. Dick continued to
occupy precisely the same ground in reference to the Doc-
tor and to Mrs. Strong. He seemed neither to advance nor
to recede. He appeared to have settled into his original
foundation, like a building; and I must confess that my
faith in his ever moving, was not much greater than if he
had been a building.
But one night, when I had been married some months,
Mr. Dick put his head into the parlor, where I was writing
alone (Dora having gone out with my aunt to take tea with
the two little birds), and said, with a significant cough:
" You couldn't speak to me without inconveniencing your-
self, Trotwood, I am afraid?"
" Certainly, Mr. Dick," said I; '' come in! "
" Trotwood," said Mr. Dick, laying his finger on the side
of his nose, after he had shaken hands with me. " Before I
sit down, I wish to make an observation. You know your
aunt ? "
"A little," I replied.
" She is the most wonderful woman in the world, sir! "
After the delivery of this communication, which he shot
out of himself as if he were loaded with it, Mr. Dick sat
down with greater gravity than usual, and looked at me.
DAVID COPPERFIELD. 645
" Now, boy," said Mr. Dick," I am going to put a question
" As many as you please," said I.
'' What do you consider me, sir ? " asked Mr. Dick, folding
*' A dear old friend," said I.
" Thank you, Trotwood," returned Mr. Dick, laughing,
and reaching across in high glee to shake hands with me.
" But I mean, boy," resuming his gravity, " what do you
consider me in this respect ? " touching his forehead.
I was puzzled how to answer, but he helped me with a
" Weak ! " said Mr. Dick.
" Well," I replied dubiously, " rather so."
"Exactly!" cried Mr. Dick, who seemed quite enchanted
by my reply. "That is, Trotwood, when they took some of
the trouble out of you-know-who's head, and put it you
know where, there was a " Mr. Dick made his two
hands revolve very fast about each other a great number of
times, and then brought them into collision, and rolled them
over and over one another, to express confusion. " There
was that sort of thing done to me somehow ? Eh.^"
I nodded at him, and he nodded back again.
" In short, boy," said Mr. Dick, dropping his voice to a
whisper, "I am simple."
I would have qualified that conclusion, but he stopped
"Yes, I am! She pretends I am not. She won't hear of
it; but I am. I know I am. If she hadn't stood my friend,
sir, I should have been shut up, to lead a dismal life these
many years. But I'll provide for her! I never spend the
copying money. I put it in a box. I have made a will. I'll
leave it all to her. She shall be rich â noble!"
Mr. Dick took out his pocket-handkerchief, and wiped
his eyes. He then folded it up with great care, pressed it
smooth between his two hands, put it in his pocket, and
seemed to put my aunt away with it.
"Now you are a fine scholar, Trotwood," said Mr. Dick.
" You are a fine scholar. You know what a learned man,
what a great man, the Doctor is. You know what honor he
has always done me. Not proud in his wisdom. Humble,
humble â condescending e-ven to poor Dick, who is simple
and knows nothing. I have sent his name up, on a scrap
646 DAVID COPPERFIELD.
of paper, to the kite, along the string, when it has been in
the sky, among the larks. The kite has been glad to receive
it, sir, and the sky has been brighter with it."
I delighted him by saying, most heartily, that the Doctor
was deserving of our best respect and highest esteem.
'* And his beautiful wife is a star," said Mr. Dick. "A
shining star. I have seen her shine, sir. But," bringing
his chair nearer, and laying one hand upon my knee â
"clouds, sir â clouds."
I answered the solicitude which his face expressed, by
conveying the same expression into my own, and shaking
" What clouds ?" said Mr. Dick.
He looked so wistfully into my face, and was so anxious
to understand, that I took great pains to answer him slowly
and distinctly, as I might have entered on an explanation
to a child.
" There is some unfortunate division between them," I
replied. " Some unhappy cause of separation. A secret.
It may be inseparable from the discrepancy in their years.
It may have grown up out of almost nothing."
Mr. Dick, who told off every sentence with a thoughtful
nod, paused when I had done, and sat considering, with his
eyes upon my face, and his hand upon my knee.
" Doctor not angry with her, Trotwood ?" he said after
" No. Devoted to her."
" Then I have got it, boy !" said Mr. Dick.
The sudden exultation with which he slapped me on the
knee, and leaned back in his chair, with his eyebrows lifted
up as high as he could possibly lift them, made me think
him farther out of his wits than ever. He became suddenly
grave again, and leaning forward as before, said â first res-
pectfully taking out his pocket-handkerchief, as if it really
did represent my aunt.
" Most wonderful woman in the world, Trotwood. Why
has s/ie done nothing to set things right ?"
" Too delicate and difficult a subject for such interference,"
" Fine scholar," said Mr. Dick touching me with his finger,
" Why has /le done nothing ?"
*' For the same reason," I returned.
"Then I have got it, boy," said Mr. Dick. And he stood
. DAVID COPPERFIELD. 647
up before me, more^ exultingly than before, nodding his
head, and striking himself repeatedly upon the breast, until
one might have supposed that he had nearly nodded and
struck all the breath out of his body.
" A poor fellow with a craze, sir," said Mr. Dick, " a sim-
pleton,a weak-minded person â present company, you know!"
striking himself again, " may do what wonderful people may
not do. I'll bring them together, boy. I'll try. They'll
not blame me. They'll not object to me. They'll not mind
what I do, if it's wrong. I'm only Mr. Dick. And who
minds Dick .^ Dick's nobody. Whoo !" He blew a slight,
contemptuous breath, as if he blew himself away.
It was fortunate he had proceeded so far with his mystery,
for we heard the coach stop at the little garden gate, which
brought my aunt and Dora home.
" Not a word, boy !" he pursued in a whisper; " leave all
the blame with Dick â simple Dick â mad Dick. I have
been thinking, sir, for some time that I was getting it, and
now I have got jt. After what you have said to me, I am
sure I have got it. All right !"
Not another word did Mr. Dick utter on the subject; but
he made a very telegraph of himself for the next half -hour
(to the great disturbance of my aunt's mind), to enjoin in-
violable secrecy on me.
To my surprise I heard no more about it for some two or
three weeks, though I was sufficiently interested in the result
of his endeavors; descrying a strange gleam of good sense
â I say nothing of good feeling, for that he always exhibited
â in the conclusions to which he had come. At last I began
to believe, that, in the flighty and unsettled state of his mind,
he had either forgotten his intention or abandoned it.
One fair evening, when Dora was not inclined to go out,
my aunt and I strolled up to the Doctor's cottage. It was
â¢autumn, when there were no debates to vex the evening air;
and I remember how the leaves smelt like our garden at
Blunderstone as we trod them under foot, and how the
old, unhappy feeling, seemed to go by, on the sighing
It was twilight when we reached the cottage. Mrs. Strong
was just coming out of the garden, where Mr. Dick yet
lingered, busy with his knife, helping the gardener to point
some stakes. The Doctor was engaged with some one in his
study; but the visitor would be gone directly, Mrs. Strong
648 DAVID COPPERFIELD.*
said, and begged us to remain and see him. We went into
the drawing-room with her, and sat down by the darkening
window. There was never any ceremony about the visits
of such old friends and neighbors as we were.
We had not sat here many minutes, when Mrs. Markleham,
who usually contrived to be in a fuss about something, came
bustling in, with her newspaper in her hand, and said, out
of breath, *' My goodness gracious, Annie, why didn't you
tell me there was some one in the study !"
" My dear mamma," she quietly returned, " how could I
know that you desired the information ?"
" Desired the information !" said Mrs. Markleham, sinking
on the sofa. *' I never had such a turn in all my life !"
*' Have you been to the study then, mamma ?" asked
'^ Been to the study, my dear !" she returned, emphatically.
â " Indeed I have ! I came upon the amiable creature â if
you'll imagine my feelings, Miss Trotwood and David â in
the act of making his will."
Her daughter looked round from the window quickly.
" In the act, my dear Annie," repeated Mrs. Markleham,
spreading the newspaper on her lap like a table-cloth, and
patting her hands upon it, " of making his last Will and
Testament. The foresight and affection of the dear! I
must tell you how it was. I really must, in justice to the
darling â for he is nothing less ! â tell you how it was. Per-
haps you know. Miss Trotwood, that there is never a candle
lighted in this house, until one's eyes are literally falling out
of one's head with being stretched to read the paper. And
that there is not a chair in this house, in which a paper can
be what /call read, except one in the study. This took me
to the study, where I saw a light. I opened the door. In
company with the dear Doctor were two professional people,
evidently connected with the law, and they were all three
standing at the table: the darling Doctor pen in hand. ' This
simply expresses then,' said the Doctor â Annie, my love,
attend to the very words â ' this simply expresses, then, gen-
tlemen, the confidence I have in Mrs. Strong, and gives her
all unconditionally ?' One of the professional people re-
plied, * And gives her all unconditionally.' Upon that,
with the r^atural feelings of a mother, I said, ' Good God, I
beg your pardon !' fell over the doorstep, and came away
through the little back passage where cne panrry is. "
DAVID COPPERFIELD. 649
Mrs. Strong opened the window, and went out into the
veranda, where she stood leaning against a pillar.
" But now isn't it, Miss Trotwood, isn't it, David, invig-
orating," said Mrs. Markleham, mechanically following her
with her eyes, " to find a man at Dr. Strong's time of life,
with the strength of mind to do this kind of thing ? It
only shows how right I was. I said to Annie, when Dr.
Strong paid a very flattering visit to myself, and made her
the subject of a declaration and an offer, I said, ' My dear,
there is no doubt whatever, in my opinion, with reference to
a suitable provision for you, that Doctor Strong will do
more than he binds himself to do.' "
Here the bell rang, and we heard the sound of the visit-
ors' feet as they went out.
" It's all over, no doubt," said the Old Soldier, after listen-
ing; " the dear creature has signed, sealed, and delivered,
and his mind is at rest. Well it may be! What a mind!
Annie, my love, I am going to the study with my paper, for
I am a poor creature without news. Miss Trotwood, David,
pray come and see the Doctor."
I was conscious of Mr. Dick's standing in the shadow of
the room, shutting up his knife, when we accompanied her
to the study; and of my aunt's rubbing her nose violently,
by the way, as a mild vent for her intolerance of our mili-
tary friend; but who got first into the study, or how Mrs.
Markleham settled herself in a moment in her easy chair,
or how my aunt and I came to be left together near the door
(unless her eyes were quicker than mine, and she held me
back) I have forgotten, if I ever knew. But this I know â
that we saw the Doctor before he saw us, sitting at his table,
among the folio volumes in which he delighted, resting his
head calmly on his hand. That, in the same moment we
saw Mrs. Strong glide in, pale and trembling. That Mr.
Dick supported her on his arm. That he laid his other
hand upon the Doctor's arm, causing him to look up with an
abstracted air. That, as the Doctor moved his head, his
wife dropped on one knee at his feet, and, with her hands
imploringly lifted, fixed upon his face the memorable look
I had never forgotten. That at this sight Mrs. Markleham
dropped the newspaper, and stared more like a figure-head
intended for a ship to be called The Astonishment, than any-
thing else I can think of.
The gentleness of the Doctor's manner and surprise, the
6so DAVID COPPERFIELD.
dignity that mingled with the suppUcating attitude of his wife,
the amiable concern of Mr. Dick, and the earnestness with
which my aunt said to herself, *' T/ia^ man mad ?" (trium-
phantly expressive of the misery from which she had saved
him), I see and hear, rather than remember, as I write
" Doctor !" said Mr. Dick. " What is it that's amiss ?
Look here !"
" Annie !" cried the Doctor; "not at my feet, my dear !"
" Yes !" she said. " I beg and pray that no one will leave
the room ! Oh, my husband and father, break this long
silence. Let us both know what it is that has come be-
tween us !"
Mrs. Markleham, by this time recovering the power of
speech, and seeming to swell with family pride and motherly
indignation, here exclaimed, "Annie, get up immediately,
and don't disgrace everybody belonging to you by humbling
yourself like that, unless you wish to see me go out of my
mind on the spot!"
" Mamma!" returned Annie. " Waste no words on me, for
my appeal is to my husband, and even you are nothing here.'*
" Nothing !" exclaimed Mrs. Markleham. " Me, nothing!
The child has taken leave of her senses. Please to get me
a glass of water !"
I was too attentive to the Doctor and his wife to give any
heed to this request; and it made no impression on anybody
else; so Mrs. Markleham panted, stared, and fanned herself.
" Annie !" said the Doctor, tenderly taking her in his
hands. " My dear ! If any unavoidable change has come,
in the sequence of time, upon our married life, you are not
to blame. The fault is mine, and only mine. There is no
change in my affection, admiration and respect. I wish to
make you happy. I truly love and honor you. Rise, Annie,
But she did not rise. After looking at him for a little
while, she sank down closer to him, laid her arm across his
knee, and dropping her head upon it, said:
"If I have any friend here, who can speak one word for
me, or for my husband, in this matter; if I have any friend
here, who can give a voice to any suspicion that my heart
has sometimes whispered tome; if I have any friend here,
who honors my husband, or has ever cared for me, and has
anything within his knowledge, no matter what it is, that
DAVID COPPERFIELD. 651
may help to mediate between us, I implore that friend to
There was a profound silence. After a few minutes of
painful hesitation, I broke the silence.
" Mrs. Strong," I said, " there is something within my
knowledge, which I have been earnestly entreated by Doctor
Strong to conceal, and have concealed until to-night But,
I believe the time has come when it would be mistaken faith
and delicacy to conceal it any longer, and when your appeal
absolves me from his injunction."
She turned her face toward me for a moment, and I knew
that I was right. I could not have resisted its entreaty, if
the assurance that it gave me had been less convincing.
" Oilr future peace," she said, " may be in your hands. 1
trust it confidently to your not suppressing anything. I
know beforehand that nothing you, or any one, can tell me,
will show my husband's noble heart in any other light than
one. Howsoever it may seem to you to touch me, disregard
that. I will speak for myself, before him, and before God,
Thus earnestly besought, I made no reference to the Doc-
tor for his permission, but, without any other compromise of
the truth than a little softening of the coarseness of Uriah
Heep, related plainly what had passed in that same room
that night. The staring of Mrs. Markleham during the
whole narration, and the shrill, sharp interjections with
which she occasionally interrupted it, defy description.
When I had finished, Annie remained for some few mo-
ments silent, with her head bent down, as I have described.
Then she took the Doctor's hand (he was sitting in the same
attitude as when we had entered the room), and pressed it
to her breast, and kissed it. Mr. Dick softly raised her ;
and she stood, when she began to speak, leaning on him,
and looking down upon her husband, from whom she never
turned her eyes.
" All that has ever been in my mind, since I was married,!*
she said, in a low, submissive, tender voice, " I will lay bare
before you. I could not live and have one reservation,
knowing what I know now,"
" Nay, Annie," said the Doctor, mildly, " I have never
doubted you, my child. There is no need ; indeed there is
no need, my dear."
" There is great need," she answered, in the same way.
652 DAVID COPPERFIELD.
*' that I should open my whole heart before the soul of gener-
osity and truth, whom, year by year, and day by day, I have
loved and venerated more and more, as Heaven knows ! "
" Really," interrupted Mrs. Markleham, " if I have any
discretion at all â "
(" Which you haven't, you Marplot," observed my aunt,
in an indignant whisper.)
â " I must be permitted to observe that it cannot be req-
uisite to enter into these details."
" No one but my husband can judge of that, mamma," said
Annie, without removing her eyes from his face, " and he
will hear me. If I say anything to give you pain, mamma,
forgive me. I have borne pain first, often and long, my-
" Upon my word ! " gasped Mrs. Markleham.
" When I was very young," said Annie, " quite a little
child, my first associations with knowledge of any kind were
inseparable from a patient friend and teacher â the friend of
my dead father â who was always dear to me. I can re-
member nothing that I know, without remembering him.
lie stored my mind with its first treasures, and stamped his
character upon them all. They never could have been, I
think, as good as they have been to me, if I had taken them
from any other hands."
" Makes her mother nothing ! " exclaimed Mrs. Markle-
*' Not so, mamma," said Annie; "but I make him what he
is. I must do that. As I grew up, he occupied the same
place still. I was proud of his interest : deeply, fondly,
gratefully attached to him. I looked up to him I can
hardly describe how â as a father, as a guide, as one whose
praise was different from all other praise, as one in whom I
could have trusted and confided, if I had doubted all the
world. You know, mamma, how young and inexperienced I
was, when you presented him before me, of a sudden, as a
" I have mentioned the fact, fifty times at least, to every-
body here ! " said Mrs. Markleham.
(" Then hold your tongue, for the Lord's sake, and don't
mention it any more ! " muttered my aunt.)
" It was so great a change : so great a loss, I felt it, at
first," said Annie, still preserving the same look and tone,
"that I was agitated and distressed. I was but a girl; and
DAVID COPPERFIELD. 653
when so great a change came in the character in which I
had so long looked up to him, I think I was sorry. But
nothing could have made him what he used to be again; and
I was proud he should think me so worthy, and we were
" â At Saint Alphage, Canterbury," observed Mrs. Mark-
(" Confound the woman ! " said my aunt, " she wc?n'^ be
quiet ! ")
" I never thought," proceeded Annie, with a heightened
color, " of any worldly gain that my husband would bring
to me. My young heart had no room in its homage for any
such poor reference. Mamma, forgive me when I say it was
you who first presented to my mind the thought that any
one could wrong me, and wrong him by such a cruel sus-
"Me!" cried Mrs. Markleham.
("Ah! You, to be sure!" observed my aunt, "and you
can't fan it away, my military friend!")
"It was the first unhappiness of my life," said Annie.
" It was the first occasion of every unhappy moment I have
known. Those moments have been more, of late, than I
can count; but not â my generous husband! â not for the
reason you suppose; for in my hea.rt there is not a thought,
a recollection, or a hope, that any power could separate from
She raised her eyes, and clasped her hands, and looked as
beautiful and true, I thought, as any spirit. The Doctor
looked on her, henceforth, as steadfastly as she on him.
" Mamma is blameless," she went on, " of having ever urged
you for herself, and she is blameless in intention everyway,
I am sure, â but when I saw how many importunate claims
that were no claims were pressed upon you in my name;
how you were traded on in my name ; how generous you
were, and how Mr. Wickfield, who had your welfare very
much at heart, resented it; the first sense of my exposure to
the mean suspicion that my tenderness was bought â and
sold to you, of all men on earth â fell upon me, like unmer-
ited disgrace, in which I forced you to participate. I can-
not tell you what it was â mamma cannot imagine what it was
â to have this dread and trouble always on my mind, yet
know in my own soul that on my marriage- day I crowned
the love and honor of my life!"
^54 DAVID COPPERFIELD.
" A specimen of the thanks one gets," cried Mrs. Markle-
ham, in tears, " for taking care of one's family! I wish I
was a Turk!"
(" I wish you were, with all my heart â and in your native
country!" said my aunt.)
"It was at that time that mamma was most solicitous
about my Cousin Maldon. I had liked him:" she spoke
softly, but without any hesitation: "very much. We had
been little lovers once. If circumstances had not happened
otherwise, I might have come to persuade myself that I
really loved him, and might have married him, and been
most wretched. There can be no disparity in marriage like
unsuitability of mind and purpose."
I pondered on these words, even while I was studiously
attending to what followed, as if they had some particular
interest, or some strange application that I could not di-
vine. " There can be no disparity in marriage like unsuit-
abiUty of mind and purpose" â " no disparity in marriage
like unsuitability of mind and purpose."
" There is nothing," said Annie, " that we have in com-
mon. I have long found that there is nothing. If I were
thankful to my husband for no more, instead of for so much,
I should be thankful to him for having saved me from the
first mistaken impulse of my undisciplined heart."
She stood quite still, before the Doctor, and spoke with
an earnestness that thrilled me. Yet her voice was just as
quiet as before.
" When he was waiting to be the object of your munifi-
cence, so freely bestowed for my sake, and when I was un-
happy in the mercenary shape I was made to wear, I thought
it would have become him better to have worked his own
way on. I thought that if I had been he, I would have tried
to do it, at the cost of almost any hardship. But I thought
no worse of him, until the night of his departure for India.
That night I knew he had a false and thankless heart. I
saw a double meaning, then, in Mr. Wickfield's scrutiny of
me. I perceived, for the first time, the dark suspicion that
shadowed my life."
"Suspicion, Annie!" said the Doctor. "No, no, no!"
" In your mind there was none, I know, my husband!"