David Copperfield – Day 311 of 331

“It was,” said I, laughing.

“Well then, when you tumbled upstairs,” said Traddles, “I was romping with the girls. In point of fact, we were playing at Puss in the Corner. But as that wouldn’t do in Westminster Hall, and as it wouldn’t look quite professional if they were seen by a client, they decamped. And they are now—listening, I have no doubt,” said Traddles, glancing at the door of another room.

“I am sorry,” said I, laughing afresh, “to have occasioned such a dispersion.”

“Upon my word,” rejoined Traddles, greatly delighted, “if you had seen them running away, and running back again, after you had knocked, to pick up the combs they had dropped out of their hair, and going on in the maddest manner, you wouldn’t have said so. My love, will you fetch the girls?”

Sophy tripped away, and we heard her received in the adjoining room with a peal of laughter.

“Really musical, isn’t it, my dear Copperfield?” said Traddles. “It’s very agreeable to hear. It quite lights up these old rooms. To an unfortunate bachelor of a fellow who has lived alone all his life, you know, it’s positively delicious. It’s charming. Poor things, they have had a great loss in Sophy—who, I do assure you, Copperfield is, and ever was, the dearest girl!—and it gratifies me beyond expression to find them in such good spirits. The society of girls is a very delightful thing, Copperfield. It’s not professional, but it’s very delightful.”

Observing that he slightly faltered, and comprehending that in the goodness of his heart he was fearful of giving me some pain by what he had said, I expressed my concurrence with a heartiness that evidently relieved and pleased him greatly.

“But then,” said Traddles, “our domestic arrangements are, to say the truth, quite unprofessional altogether, my dear Copperfield. Even Sophy’s being here, is unprofessional. And we have no other place of abode. We have put to sea in a cockboat, but we are quite prepared to rough it. And Sophy’s an extraordinary manager! You’ll be surprised how those girls are stowed away. I am sure I hardly know how it’s done!”

“Are many of the young ladies with you?” I inquired.

“The eldest, the Beauty is here,” said Traddles, in a low confidential voice, “Caroline. And Sarah’s here—the one I mentioned to you as having something the matter with her spine, you know. Immensely better! And the two youngest that Sophy educated are with us. And Louisa’s here.”

“Indeed!” cried I.

“Yes,” said Traddles. “Now the whole set—I mean the chambers — is only three rooms; but Sophy arranges for the girls in the most wonderful way, and they sleep as comfortably as possible. Three in that room,” said Traddles, pointing. “Two in that.”

I could not help glancing round, in search of the accommodation remaining for Mr. and Mrs. Traddles. Traddles understood me.

“Well!” said Traddles, “we are prepared to rough it, as I said just now, and we did improvise a bed last week, upon the floor here. But there’s a little room in the roof—a very nice room, when you’re up there—which Sophy papered herself, to surprise me; and that’s our room at present. It’s a capital little gipsy sort of place. There’s quite a view from it.”

“And you are happily married at last, my dear Traddles!” said I. “How rejoiced I am!”

“Thank you, my dear Copperfield,” said Traddles, as we shook hands once more. “Yes, I am as happy as it’s possible to be. There’s your old friend, you see,” said Traddles, nodding triumphantly at the flower-pot and stand; “and there’s the table with the marble top! All the other furniture is plain and serviceable, you perceive. And as to plate, Lord bless you, we haven’t so much as a tea-spoon.”

“All to be earned?” said I, cheerfully.

“Exactly so,” replied Traddles, “all to be earned. Of course we have something in the shape of tea-spoons, because we stir our tea. But they’re Britannia metal.”

“The silver will be the brighter when it comes,” said I.

“The very thing we say!” cried Traddles. “You see, my dear Copperfield,” falling again into the low confidential tone, “after I had delivered my argument in Doe dem Jipes versus Wigzell, which did me great service with the profession, I went down into Devonshire, and had some serious conversation in private with the Reverend Horace. I dwelt upon the fact that Sophy—who I do assure you, Copperfield, is the dearest girl!—“

“I am certain she is!” said I.

“She is, indeed!” rejoined Traddles. “But I am afraid I am wandering from the subject. Did I mention the Reverend Horace?”

“You said that you dwelt upon the fact—“

“True! Upon the fact that Sophy and I had been engaged for a long period, and that Sophy, with the permission of her parents, was more than content to take me—in short,” said Traddles, with his old frank smile, “on our present Britannia-metal footing. Very well. I then proposed to the Reverend Horace—who is a most excellent clergyman, Copperfield, and ought to be a Bishop; or at least ought to have enough to live upon, without pinching himself — that if I could turn the corner, say of two hundred and fifty pounds, in one year; and could see my way pretty clearly to that, or something better, next year; and could plainly furnish a little place like this, besides; then, and in that case, Sophy and I should be united. I took the liberty of representing that we had been patient for a good many years; and that the circumstance of Sophy’s being extraordinarily useful at home, ought not to operate with her affectionate parents, against her establishment in life — don’t you see?”

“Certainly it ought not,” said I.

“I am glad you think so, Copperfield,” rejoined Traddles, “because, without any imputation on the Reverend Horace, I do think parents, and brothers, and so forth, are sometimes rather selfish in such cases. Well! I also pointed out, that my most earnest desire was, to be useful to the family; and that if I got on in the world, and anything should happen to him—I refer to the Reverend Horace—“

“I understand,” said I.

“—Or to Mrs. Crewler—it would be the utmost gratification of my wishes, to be a parent to the girls. He replied in a most admirable manner, exceedingly flattering to my feelings, and undertook to obtain the consent of Mrs. Crewler to this arrangement. They had a dreadful time of it with her. It mounted from her legs into her chest, and then into her head—“

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