David Copperfield – Day 241 of 331

She was as good as her word. She was one of those people who can bear a great deal of pleasure, and she never flinched in her perseverance in the cause. She seldom got hold of the newspaper (which she settled herself down in the softest chair in the house to read through an eye-glass, every day, for two hours), but she found out something that she was certain Annie would like to see. It was in vain for Annie to protest that she was weary of such things. Her mother’s remonstrance always was, “Now, my dear Annie, I am sure you know better; and I must tell you, my love, that you are not making a proper return for the kindness of Doctor Strong.”

This was usually said in the Doctor’s presence, and appeared to me to constitute Annie’s principal inducement for withdrawing her objections when she made any. But in general she resigned herself to her mother, and went where the Old Soldier would.

It rarely happened now that Mr. Maldon accompanied them. Sometimes my aunt and Dora were invited to do so, 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 mistrust. I believed that the Doctor was right, and I had no worse suspicions.

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 into a corner, which was his great difficulty, he would distinguish himself in some extraordinary manner.

Unconscious of this prediction, Mr. Dick continued to occupy precisely the same ground in reference to the Doctor 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 parlour, 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 yourself, 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.

“Now, boy,” said Mr. Dick, “I am going to put a question to you.”

“As many as you please,” said I.

“What do you consider me, sir?” asked Mr. Dick, folding his arms.

“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 word.

“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 me.

“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—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 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 honour he has always done me. Not proud in his wisdom. Humble, humble—condescending even to poor Dick, who is simple and knows nothing. I have sent his name up, on a scrap 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—“clouds, sir—clouds.”

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