Книга David Copperfield. Страница 75
I stammer, with a bow, 'With you, Miss Larkins.'
'With no one else?' inquires Miss Larkins.
'I should have no pleasure in dancing with anyone else.'
Miss Larkins laughs and blushes (or I think she blushes), and says, 'Next time but one, I shall be very glad.'
The time arrives. 'It is a waltz, I think,' Miss Larkins doubtfully observes, when I present myself. 'Do you waltz? If not, Captain Bailey -'
But I do waltz (pretty well, too, as it happens), and I take Miss Larkins out. I take her sternly from the side of Captain Bailey.
He is wretched, I have no doubt; but he is nothing to me. I have been wretched, too. I waltz with the eldest Miss Larkins! I don't know where, among whom, or how long. I only know that I swim about in space, with a blue angel, in a state of blissful delirium, until I find myself alone with her in a little room, resting on a sofa.
She admires a flower (pink camellia japonica, price half-a-crown), in my button-hole. I give it her, and say: 'I ask an inestimable price for it, Miss Larkins.'
'Indeed! What is that?' returns Miss Larkins.
'A flower of yours, that I may treasure it as a miser does gold.'
'You're a bold boy,' says Miss Larkins. 'There.'
She gives it me, not displeased; and I put it to my lips, and then into my breast. Miss Larkins, laughing, draws her hand through my arm, and says, 'Now take me back to Captain Bailey.'
I am lost in the recollection of this delicious interview, and the waltz, when she comes to me again, with a plain elderly gentleman who has been playing whist all night, upon her arm, and says: 'Oh! here is my bold friend! Mr. Chestle wants to know you, Mr.
I feel at once that he is a friend of the family, and am much gratified.
'I admire your taste, sir,' says Mr. Chestle. 'It does you credit.
I suppose you don't take much interest in hops; but I am a pretty large grower myself; and if you ever like to come over to our neighbourhood — neighbourhood of Ashford — and take a run about our place, -we shall be glad for you to stop as long as you like.'
I thank Mr. Chestle warmly, and shake hands. I think I am in a happy dream. I waltz with the eldest Miss Larkins once again. She says I waltz so well! I go home in a state of unspeakable bliss, and waltz in imagination, all night long, with my arm round the blue waist of my dear divinity. For some days afterwards, I am lost in rapturous reflections; but I neither see her in the street, nor when I call. I am imperfectly consoled for this disappointment by the sacred pledge, the perished flower.
'Trotwood,' says Agnes, one day after dinner. 'Who do you think is going to be married tomorrow? Someone you admire.'
'Not you, I suppose, Agnes?'
'Not me!' raising her cheerful face from the music she is copying.
'Do you hear him, Papa? — The eldest Miss Larkins.'
'To — to Captain Bailey?' I have just enough power to ask.
'No; to no Captain. To Mr. Chestle, a hop-grower.'
I am terribly dejected for about a week or two. I take off my ring, I wear my worst clothes, I use no bear's grease, and I frequently lament over the late Miss Larkins's faded flower.
Being, by that time, rather tired of this kind of life, and having received new provocation from the butcher, I throw the flower away, go out with the butcher, and gloriously defeat him.
This, and the resumption of my ring, as well as of the bear's grease in moderation, are the last marks I can discern, now, in my progress to seventeen.
I LOOK ABOUT ME, AND MAKE A DISCOVERY
I am doubtful whether I was at heart glad or sorry, when my school-days drew to an end, and the time came for my leaving Doctor Strong's. I had been very happy there, I had a great attachment for the Doctor, and I was eminent and distinguished in that little world. For these reasons I was sorry to go; but for other reasons, unsubstantial enough, I was glad. Misty ideas of being a young man at my own disposal, of the importance attaching to a young man at his own disposal, of the wonderful things to be seen and done by that magnificent animal, and the wonderful effects he could not fail to make upon society, lured me away. So powerful were these visionary considerations in my boyish mind, that I seem, according to my present way of thinking, to have left school without natural regret. The separation has not made the impression on me, that other separations have. I try in vain to recall how I felt about it, and what its circumstances were; but it is not momentous in my recollection. I suppose the opening prospect confused me. I know that my juvenile experiences went for little or nothing then; and that life was more like a great fairy story, which I was just about to begin to read, than anything else.
MY aunt and I had held many grave deliberations on the calling to which I should be devoted. For a year or more I had endeavoured to find a satisfactory answer to her often-repeated question, 'What I would like to be?' But I had no particular liking, that I could discover, for anything. If I could have been inspired with a knowledge of the science of navigation, taken the command of a fast-sailing expedition, and gone round the world on a triumphant voyage of discovery, I think I might have considered myself completely suited. But, in the absence of any such miraculous provision, my desire was to apply myself to some pursuit that would not lie too heavily upon her purse; and to do my duty in it, whatever it might be.
Mr. Dick had regularly assisted at our councils, with a meditative and sage demeanour. He never made a suggestion but once; and on that occasion (I don't know what put it in his head), he suddenly proposed that I should be 'a Brazier'. My aunt received this proposal so very ungraciously, that he never ventured on a second; but ever afterwards confined himself to looking watchfully at her for her suggestions, and rattling his money.
'Trot, I tell you what, my dear,' said my aunt, one morning in the Christmas season when I left school: 'as this knotty point is still unsettled, and as we must not make a mistake in our decision if we can help it, I think we had better take a little breathing-time.
In the meanwhile, you must try to look at it from a new point of view, and not as a schoolboy.'
'I will, aunt.'
'It has occurred to me,' pursued my aunt, 'that a little change, and a glimpse of life out of doors, may be useful in helping you to know your own mind, and form a cooler judgement. Suppose you were to go down into the old part of the country again, for instance, and see that — that out-of-the-way woman with the savagest of names,' said my aunt, rubbing her nose, for she could never thoroughly forgive Peggotty for being so called.
'Of all things in the world, aunt, I should like it best!'
'Well,' said my aunt, 'that's lucky, for I should like it too. But it's natural and rational that you should like it. And I am very well persuaded that whatever you do, Trot, will always be natural and rational.'
'I hope so, aunt.'
'Your sister, Betsey Trotwood,' said my aunt, 'would have been as natural and rational a girl as ever breathed. You'll be worthy of her, won't you?'
'I hope I shall be worthy of YOU, aunt. That will be enough for me.'
'It's a mercy that poor dear baby of a mother of yours didn't live,' said my aunt, looking at me approvingly, 'or she'd have been so vain of her boy by this time, that her soft little head would have been completely turned, if there was anything of it left to turn.' (My aunt always excused any weakness of her own in my behalf, by transferring it in this way to my poor mother.) 'Bless me, Trotwood, how you do remind me of her!'
'Pleasantly, I hope, aunt?' said I.
'He's as like her, Dick,' said my aunt, emphatically, 'he's as like her, as she was that afternoon before she began to fret — bless my heart, he's as like her, as he can look at me out of his two eyes!'