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my senior, I was carried as before a magistrate. He inquired, under a shed in the playground, into the particulars of my punishment, and was pleased to express his opinion that it was “a jolly shame”; for which I became bound to him ever afterwards.
“What money have you got, Copperfield ?” he said, walking aside with me when he had disposed of my affair in these terms.
I told him seven shillings.
“You had better give it to me to take care of," he 10 said. “At least, you can if you like. You needn't if you don't like."
I hastened to comply with his friendly suggestion, and opening Peggotty's purse, turned it upside down into his hand.
“Do you want to spend anything now?” he asked me.
“No, thank you,” I replied. “You can if you like, you know,” said Steerforth.
” Say the word.” “No, thank you, Sir,”' I repeated.
“Perhaps you'd like to spend a couple of shillings or so, in a bottle of currant wine by and by, up in the bedroom?” said Steerforth. “You belong to my bedroom,
I find." It certainly had not occurred to me before, but I said, Yes, I should like that.
“Very good,” said Steerforth.
said Steerforth. “You'll be glad to spend another shilling or so, in almond cakes, I dare
I said, Yes, I should like that, too.
“And another shilling or so in biscuits, and another in fruit, eh?” said Steerforth. “I say, young Copperfield, you're going it!”
I smiled because he smiled, but I was a little troubled in my mind, too.
“Well,” said Steerforth. “We must make it stretch as far as we can; that's all. I'll do the best in my power for you. I can go out when I like, and I'il smuggle the prog in.” With these words he put the money in his pocket, and kindly told me not to make 15 myself uneasy; he would take care it should be all right.
He was as good as his word, if that were all right which I had a secret misgiving was nearly all wrong for I feared it was a waste of my mother's two half
though I had preserved the piece of paper they were wrapped in: which was a precious saving. When we went upstairs to bed, he produced the whole seven shillings' worth, and laid it out on my bed in the moonlight, saying :
“There you are, young Copperfield, and a royal spread you've got !”
I couldn't think of doing the honors of the feast, at
my time of life, while he was by; my hand shook at the very thought of it. I begged him to do me the favor of presiding; and my request being seconded by the other boys who were in that room, he acceded to it, and sat upon my pillow, handing round the viands 5
with perfect fairness, I must say and dispensing the currant wine in a little glass without a foot, which was his own property. As to me, I sat on his left hand, and the rest were grouped about us, on the nearest beds and on the floor.
How well I recollect our sitting there, talking in whispers; or their talking, and my respectfully listening, I ought rather to say; the moonlight falling a little way into the room, through the window, painting a pale window on the floor, and the greater part 15 of us in shadow, except when Steerforth dipped a match into a phosphorus box, when he wanted to look for anything on the board, and shed a blue glare over us that was gone directly! A certain mysterious feeling, consequent on the darkness, the secrecy of 20 the revel, and the whisper in which everything was said, steals over me again, and I listen to all they tell me with a vague feeling of solemnity and awe, which makes me glad that they are all so near, and frightens me (though I feign to laugh) when Traddles 25 pretends to see a ghost in the corner.
I heard all kinds of things about the school and all
belonging to it. I heard that Mr. Creakle had not preferred his claim to being a Tartar without reason; that he was the sternest and most severe of masters; that he laid about him, right and left, every day of 5 his life, charging in among the boys like a trooper, and slashing away, unmercifully. But the greatest wonder that I heard of Mr. Creakle was there being one boy in the school on whom he never ventured to lay a hand, and that boy being J. Steerforth. Steerforth himself confirmed this when it was stated, and said that he should like to see him begin to do it.
The hearing of all this and a good deal more, outlasted the banquet some time. The greater part of
the guests had gone to bed as soon as the eating and 15 drinking were over; and we, who had remained whis
pering and listening half undressed, at last betook ourselves to bed, too.
“Good night, young Copperfield,” said Steerforth, “I'll take care of you.”
“You're very kind,” I gratefully returned, “I am very much obliged to you."
“You haven't got a sister, have you?” said Steerforth, yawning
“No," I answered.
“That's a pity,” said Steerforth. “If you had had one, I should think she would have been a pretty, timid, little, bright-eyed sort of girl. I should have liked to know her. Good night, young Copperfield.”
“Good night, Sir," I replied.
I thought of him very much after I went to bed, and raised myself, I recollect, to look at him where he lay in the moonlight, with his handsome face turned up, and his head reclining easily on his arm.
III. MY HOLIDAYS. ESPECIALLY ONE HAPPY
This selection tells of David's first holidays, during which he goes home and sees Mr. Barkis, Peggotty, and his mother.
When we arrived before day at the inn where the mail stopped, which was not the inn where my friend the waiter lived, I was shown up to a nice little bedroom, with DOLPHIN painted on the door. Very cold I was, I know, notwithstanding the hot tea they had given 10 me before a large fire downstairs; and very glad I was to turn into the Dolphin's bed, pull the Dolphin's blankets round my head, and go to sleep.
Mr. Barkis the carrier was to call for me in the morning at nine o'clock. I got up at eight, a little giddy from 15 the shortness of my night's rest, and was ready for him before the appointed time. He received me exactly as if not five minutes had elapsed since we were last together, and I had only been into the hotel to get change for sixpence or something of that sort.