David Copperfield – Day 148 of 331

“And what did you do?” I asked.

“I didn’t do anything in particular,” said Traddles. “I lived with them, waiting to be put out in the world, until his gout unfortunately flew to his stomach—and so he died, and so she married a young man, and so I wasn’t provided for.”

“Did you get nothing, Traddles, after all?”

“Oh dear, yes!” said Traddles. “I got fifty pounds. I had never been brought up to any profession, and at first I was at a loss what to do for myself. However, I began, with the assistance of the son of a professional man, who had been to Salem House — Yawler, with his nose on one side. Do you recollect him?”

No. He had not been there with me; all the noses were straight in my day.

“It don’t matter,” said Traddles. “I began, by means of his assistance, to copy law writings. That didn’t answer very well; and then I began to state cases for them, and make abstracts, and that sort of work. For I am a plodding kind of fellow, Copperfield, and had learnt the way of doing such things pithily. Well! That put it in my head to enter myself as a law student; and that ran away with all that was left of the fifty pounds. Yawler recommended me to one or two other offices, however—Mr. Waterbrook’s for one—and I got a good many jobs. I was fortunate enough, too, to become acquainted with a person in the publishing way, who was getting up an Encyclopaedia, and he set me to work; and, indeed” (glancing at his table), “I am at work for him at this minute. I am not a bad compiler, Copperfield,” said Traddles, preserving the same air of cheerful confidence in all he said, “but I have no invention at all; not a particle. I suppose there never was a young man with less originality than I have.”

As Traddles seemed to expect that I should assent to this as a matter of course, I nodded; and he went on, with the same sprightly patience—I can find no better expression—as before.

“So, by little and little, and not living high, I managed to scrape up the hundred pounds at last,” said Traddles; “and thank Heaven that’s paid—though it was—though it certainly was,” said Traddles, wincing again as if he had had another tooth out, “a pull. I am living by the sort of work I have mentioned, still, and I hope, one of these days, to get connected with some newspaper: which would almost be the making of my fortune. Now, Copperfield, you are so exactly what you used to be, with that agreeable face, and it’s so pleasant to see you, that I sha’n’t conceal anything. Therefore you must know that I am engaged.”

Engaged! Oh, Dora!

“She is a curate’s daughter,” said Traddles; “one of ten, down in Devonshire. Yes!” For he saw me glance, involuntarily, at the prospect on the inkstand. “That’s the church! You come round here to the left, out of this gate,” tracing his finger along the inkstand, “and exactly where I hold this pen, there stands the house—facing, you understand, towards the church.”

The delight with which he entered into these particulars, did not fully present itself to me until afterwards; for my selfish thoughts were making a ground-plan of Mr. Spenlow’s house and garden at the same moment.

“She is such a dear girl!” said Traddles; “a little older than me, but the dearest girl! I told you I was going out of town? I have been down there. I walked there, and I walked back, and I had the most delightful time! I dare say ours is likely to be a rather long engagement, but our motto is ‘Wait and hope!’ We always say that. ‘Wait and hope,’ we always say. And she would wait, Copperfield, till she was sixty—any age you can mention—for me!”

Traddles rose from his chair, and, with a triumphant smile, put his hand upon the white cloth I had observed.

“However,” he said, “it’s not that we haven’t made a beginning towards housekeeping. No, no; we have begun. We must get on by degrees, but we have begun. Here,” drawing the cloth off with great pride and care, “are two pieces of furniture to commence with. This flower-pot and stand, she bought herself. You put that in a parlour window,” said Traddles, falling a little back from it to survey it with the greater admiration, “with a plant in it, and — and there you are! This little round table with the marble top (it’s two feet ten in circumference), I bought. You want to lay a book down, you know, or somebody comes to see you or your wife, and wants a place to stand a cup of tea upon, and—and there you are again!” said Traddles. “It’s an admirable piece of workmanship — firm as a rock!” I praised them both, highly, and Traddles replaced the covering as carefully as he had removed it.

“It’s not a great deal towards the furnishing,” said Traddles, “but it’s something. The table-cloths, and pillow-cases, and articles of that kind, are what discourage me most, Copperfield. So does the ironmongery—candle-boxes, and gridirons, and that sort of necessaries—because those things tell, and mount up. However, ‘wait and hope!’ And I assure you she’s the dearest girl!”

“I am quite certain of it,” said I.

“In the meantime,” said Traddles, coming back to his chair; “and this is the end of my prosing about myself, I get on as well as I can. I don’t make much, but I don’t spend much. In general, I board with the people downstairs, who are very agreeable people indeed. Both Mr. and Mrs. Micawber have seen a good deal of life, and are excellent company.”

“My dear Traddles!” I quickly exclaimed. “What are you talking about?”

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

“Mr. and Mrs. Micawber!” I repeated. “Why, I am intimately acquainted with them!”

An opportune double knock at the door, which I knew well from old experience in Windsor Terrace, and which nobody but Mr. Micawber could ever have knocked at that door, resolved any doubt in my mind as to their being my old friends. I begged Traddles to ask his landlord to walk up. Traddles accordingly did so, over the banister; and Mr. Micawber, not a bit changed—his tights, his stick, his shirt-collar, and his eye-glass, all the same as ever — came into the room with a genteel and youthful air.

“I beg your pardon, Mr. Traddles,” said Mr. Micawber, with the old roll in his voice, as he checked himself in humming a soft tune. “I was not aware that there was any individual, alien to this tenement, in your sanctum.”

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

“How do you do, Mr. Micawber?” said I.

“Sir,” said Mr. Micawber, “you are exceedingly obliging. I am in statu quo.”

“And Mrs. Micawber?” I pursued.

“Sir,” said Mr. Micawber, “she is also, thank God, in statu quo.”

“And the children, Mr. Micawber?”

“Sir,” said Mr. Micawber, “I rejoice to reply that they are, likewise, in the enjoyment of salubrity.”

All this time, Mr. Micawber had not known me in the least, though he had stood face to face with me. But now, seeing me smile, he examined my features with more attention, fell back, cried, “Is it possible! Have I the pleasure of again beholding Copperfield!” and shook me by both hands with the utmost fervour.

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