David Copperfield – Day 222 of 331

I exclaimed, in a state of high ecstatic fervour, that not a moment’s consideration could be necessary. I bound myself by the required promise, in a most impassioned manner; called upon Traddles to witness it; and denounced myself as the most atrocious of characters if I ever swerved from it in the least degree.

“Stay!” said Miss Lavinia, holding up her hand; “we resolved, before we had the pleasure of receiving you two gentlemen, to leave you alone for a quarter of an hour, to consider this point. You will allow us to retire.”

It was in vain for me to say that no consideration was necessary. They persisted in withdrawing for the specified time. Accordingly, these little birds hopped out with great dignity; leaving me to receive the congratulations of Traddles, and to feel as if I were translated to regions of exquisite happiness. Exactly at the expiration of the quarter of an hour, they reappeared with no less dignity than they had disappeared. They had gone rustling away as if their little dresses were made of autumn-leaves: and they came rustling back, in like manner.

I then bound myself once more to the prescribed conditions.

“Sister Clarissa,” said Miss Lavinia, “the rest is with you.”

Miss Clarissa, unfolding her arms for the first time, took the notes and glanced at them.

“We shall be happy,” said Miss Clarissa, “to see Mr. Copperfield to dinner, every Sunday, if it should suit his convenience. Our hour is three.”

I bowed.

“In the course of the week,” said Miss Clarissa, “we shall be happy to see Mr. Copperfield to tea. Our hour is half-past six.”

I bowed again.

“Twice in the week,” said Miss Clarissa, “but, as a rule, not oftener.”

I bowed again.

“Miss Trotwood,” said Miss Clarissa, “mentioned in Mr. Copperfield’s letter, will perhaps call upon us. When visiting is better for the happiness of all parties, we are glad to receive visits, and return them. When it is better for the happiness of all parties that no visiting should take place, (as in the case of our brother Francis, and his establishment) that is quite different.”

I intimated that my aunt would be proud and delighted to make their acquaintance; though I must say I was not quite sure of their getting on very satisfactorily together. The conditions being now closed, I expressed my acknowledgements in the warmest manner; and, taking the hand, first of Miss Clarissa, and then of Miss Lavinia, pressed it, in each case, to my lips.

Miss Lavinia then arose, and begging Mr. Traddles to excuse us for a minute, requested me to follow her. I obeyed, all in a tremble, and was conducted into another room. There I found my blessed darling stopping her ears behind the door, with her dear little face against the wall; and Jip in the plate-warmer with his head tied up in a towel.

Oh! How beautiful she was in her black frock, and how she sobbed and cried at first, and wouldn’t come out from behind the door! How fond we were of one another, when she did come out at last; and what a state of bliss I was in, when we took Jip out of the plate-warmer, and restored him to the light, sneezing very much, and were all three reunited!

“My dearest Dora! Now, indeed, my own for ever!”

“Oh, don’t!” pleaded Dora. “Please!”

“Are you not my own for ever, Dora?”

“Oh yes, of course I am!” cried Dora, “but I am so frightened!”

“Frightened, my own?”

“Oh yes! I don’t like him,” said Dora. “Why don’t he go?”

“Who, my life?”

“Your friend,” said Dora. “It isn’t any business of his. What a stupid he must be!”

“My love!” (There never was anything so coaxing as her childish ways.) “He is the best creature!”

“Oh, but we don’t want any best creatures!” pouted Dora.

“My dear,” I argued, “you will soon know him well, and like him of all things. And here is my aunt coming soon; and you’ll like her of all things too, when you know her.”

“No, please don’t bring her!” said Dora, giving me a horrified little kiss, and folding her hands. “Don’t. I know she’s a naughty, mischief-making old thing! Don’t let her come here, Doady!” which was a corruption of David.

Remonstrance was of no use, then; so I laughed, and admired, and was very much in love and very happy; and she showed me Jip’s new trick of standing on his hind legs in a corner—which he did for about the space of a flash of lightning, and then fell down—and I don’t know how long I should have stayed there, oblivious of Traddles, if Miss Lavinia had not come in to take me away. Miss Lavinia was very fond of Dora (she told me Dora was exactly like what she had been herself at her age—she must have altered a good deal), and she treated Dora just as if she had been a toy. I wanted to persuade Dora to come and see Traddles, but on my proposing it she ran off to her own room and locked herself in; so I went to Traddles without her, and walked away with him on air.

“Nothing could be more satisfactory,” said Traddles; “and they are very agreeable old ladies, I am sure. I shouldn’t be at all surprised if you were to be married years before me, Copperfield.”

“Does your Sophy play on any instrument, Traddles?” I inquired, in the pride of my heart.

“She knows enough of the piano to teach it to her little sisters,” said Traddles.

“Does she sing at all?” I asked.

“Why, she sings ballads, sometimes, to freshen up the others a little when they’re out of spirits,” said Traddles. “Nothing scientific.”

“She doesn’t sing to the guitar?” said I.

“Oh dear no!” said Traddles.

“Paint at all?”

“Not at all,” said Traddles.

I promised Traddles that he should hear Dora sing, and see some of her flower-painting. He said he should like it very much, and we went home arm in arm in great good humour and delight. I encouraged him to talk about Sophy, on the way; which he did with a loving reliance on her that I very much admired. I compared her in my mind with Dora, with considerable inward satisfaction; but I candidly admitted to myself that she seemed to be an excellent kind of girl for Traddles, too.

Of course my aunt was immediately made acquainted with the successful issue of the conference, and with all that had been said and done in the course of it. She was happy to see me so happy, and promised to call on Dora’s aunts without loss of time. But she took such a long walk up and down our rooms that night, while I was writing to Agnes, that I began to think she meant to walk till morning.

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