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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. Steer10 forth 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.
As soon as I and my box were in the cart, and the carrier seated, the lazy horse walked away with us all at his accustomed pace.
“You look very well, Mr. Barkis,” I said, thinking 5 he would like to know it.
Mr. Barkis rubbed his cheek with his cuff, and then looked at his cuff as if he expected to find some of the bloom upon it; but made no other acknowledgment of the compliment.
“I gave your message, Mr. Barkis," I said; “I wrote to Peggotty."
“Ah!” said Mr. Barkis.
'Wasn't it right, Mr. Barkis?” I asked, after a 15 little hesitation.
“Why, no,” said Mr. Barkis.
“The message was right enough, perhaps," said Mr. Barkis; “but it come to an end there."
Not understanding what he meant, I repeated inquisitively : “Came to an end, Mr. Barkis?”
“Nothing come of it,” he explained, looking at me sideways. “No answer. ”
“There was an answer expected, was there, Mr. 25 Barkis?” said I, opening my eyes. For this was a new light to me.
“When a man says he's willin',” said Mr. Barkis,
turning his glance slowly on me again, “it's as much as to say, that man's a waitin' for a answer.
“Well, Mr. Barkis ?”
“Well,” said Mr. Barkis, carrying his eyes back to his horse's ears ;
that man's been a waitin' for a 5 answer ever since."
“Have you told her Mr. Barkis?"
“N — no," growled Mr. Barkis, reflecting about it. “I ain't got no call to go and tell her so. I never said six words to her myself. I ain't a goin' to tell her so.”
“Would you like me to do it, Mr. Barkis?” said I, doubtfully.
“You might tell her, if you would,” said Mr. Barkis, with another slow look at me, “that Barkis was a waitin' for a answer. Says you — what name is it?" 15
Peggotty.” " Chrisen name? Or nat’ral name?” said Mr. Barkis.
“Oh, it's not her Christian name. Her Christian name is Clara."
“Is it though?” said Mr. Barkis.
He seemed to find an immense fund of reflection in this circumstance, and sat pondering and inwardly 25 whistling for some time.
“Well!” he resumed at length. “Says you, ‘Peg