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Charles Dickens > Bleak House > Chapter XXX

Bleak House

Chapter XXX

Esther's Narrative

Richard had been gone away some time when a visitor came to pass a
few days with us. It was an elderly lady. It was Mrs. Woodcourt,
who, having come from Wales to stay with Mrs. Bayham Badger and
having written to my guardian, "by her son Allan's desire," to
report that she had heard from him and that he was well "and sent
his kind remembrances to all of us," had been invited by my
guardian to make a visit to Bleak House. She stayed with us nearly
three weeks. She took very kindly to me and was extremely
confidential, so much so that sometimes she almost made me
uncomfortable. I had no right, I knew very well, to be
uncomfortable because she confided in me, and I felt it was
unreasonable; still, with all I could do, I could not quite help it.

She was such a sharp little lady and used to sit with her hands
folded in each other looking so very watchful while she talked to
me that perhaps I found that rather irksome. Or perhaps it was her
being so upright and trim, though I don't think it was that,
because I thought that quaintly pleasant. Nor can it have been the
general expression of her face, which was very sparkling and pretty
for an old lady. I don't know what it was. Or at least if I do
now, I thought I did not then. Or at least--but it don't matter.

Of a night when I was going upstairs to bed, she would invite me
into her room, where she sat before the fire in a great chair; and,
dear me, she would tell me about Morgan ap-Kerrig until I was quite
low-spirited! Sometimes she recited a few verses from
Crumlinwallinwer and the Mewlinn-willinwodd (if those are the right
names, which I dare say they are not), and would become quite fiery
with the sentiments they expressed. Though I never knew what they
were (being in Welsh), further than that they were highly
eulogistic of the lineage of Morgan ap-Kerrig.

"So, Miss Summerson," she would say to me with stately triumph,
"this, you see, is the fortune inherited by my son. Wherever my
son goes, he can claim kindred with Ap-Kerrig. He may not have
money, but he always has what is much better--family, my dear."

I had my doubts of their caring so very much for Morgan ap-Kerrig
in India and China, but of course I never expressed them. I used
to say it was a great thing to be so highly connected.

"It IS, my dear, a great thing," Mrs. Woodcourt would reply. "It
has its disadvantages; my son's choice of a wife, for instance, is
limited by it, but the matrimonial choice of the royal family is
limited in much the same manner."

Then she would pat me on the arm and smooth my dress, as much as to
assure me that she had a good opinion of me, the distance between
us notwithstanding.

"Poor Mr. Woodcourt, my dear," she would say, and always with some
emotion, for with her lofty pedigree she had a very affectionate
heart, "was descended from a great Highland family, the MacCoorts
of MacCoort. He served his king and country as an officer in the
Royal Highlanders, and he died on the field. My son is one of the
last representatives of two old families. With the blessing of
heaven he will set them up again and unite them with another old

It was in vain for me to try to change the subject, as I used to
try, only for the sake of novelty or perhaps because--but I need
not be so particular. Mrs. Woodcourt never would let me change it.

"My dear," she said one night, "you have so much sense and you look
at the world in a quiet manner so superior to your time of life
that it is a comfort to me to talk to you about these family
matters of mine. You don't know much of my son, my dear; but you
know enough of him, I dare say, to recollect him?"

"Yes, ma'am. I recollect him."

"Yes, my dear. Now, my dear, I think you are a judge of character,
and I should like to have your opinion of him."

"Oh, Mrs. Woodcourt," said I, "that is so difficult!"

"Why is it so difficult, my dear?" she returned. "I don't see it

"To give an opinion--"

"On so slight an acquaintance, my dear. THAT'S true."

I didn't mean that, because Mr. Woodcourt had been at our house a
good deal altogether and had become quite intimate with my
guardian. I said so, and added that he seemed to be very clever in
his profession--we thought--and that his kindness and gentleness to
Miss Flite were above all praise.

"You do him justice!" said Mrs. Woodcourt, pressing my hand. "You
define him exactly. Allan is a dear fellow, and in his profession
faultless. I say it, though I am his mother. Still, I must
confess he is not without faults, love."

"None of us are," said I.

"Ah! But his really are faults that he might correct, and ought to
correct," returned the sharp old lady, sharply shaking her head.
"I am so much attached to you that I may confide in you, my dear,
as a third party wholly disinterested, that he is fickleness

I said I should have thought it hardly possible that he could have
been otherwise than constant to his profession and zealous in the
pursuit of it, judging from the reputation he had earned.

"You are right again, my dear," the old lady retorted, "but I don't
refer to his profession, look you."

"Oh!" said I.

"No," said she. "I refer, my dear, to his social conduct. He is
always paying trivial attentions to young ladies, and always has
been, ever since he was eighteen. Now, my dear, he has never
really cared for any one of them and has never meant in doing this
to do any harm or to express anything but politeness and good
nature. Still, it's not right, you know; is it?"

"No," said I, as she seemed to wait for me.

"And it might lead to mistaken notions, you see, my dear."

I supposed it might.

"Therefore, I have told him many times that he really should be
more careful, both in justice to himself and in justice to others.
And he has always said, 'Mother, I will be; but you know me better
than anybody else does, and you know I mean no harm--in short, mean
nothing.' All of which is very true, my dear, but is no
justification. However, as he is now gone so far away and for an
indefinite time, and as he will have good opportunities and
introductions, we may consider this past and gone. And you, my
dear," said the old lady, who was now all nods and smiles,
"regarding your dear self, my love?"

"Me, Mrs. Woodcourt?"

"Not to be always selfish, talking of my son, who has gone to seek
his fortune and to find a wife--when do you mean to seek YOUR
fortune and to find a husband, Miss Summerson? Hey, look you! Now
you blush!"

I don't think I did blush--at all events, it was not important if I
did--and I said my present fortune perfectly contented me and I had
no wish to change it.

"Shall I tell you what I always think of you and the fortune yet to
come for you, my love?" said Mrs. Woodcourt.

"If you believe you are a good prophet," said I.

"Why, then, it is that you will marry some one very rich and very
worthy, much older--five and twenty years, perhaps--than yourself.
And you will be an excellent wife, and much beloved, and very

"That is a good fortune," said I. "But why is it to be mine?"

"My dear," she returned, "there's suitability in it--you are so
busy, and so neat, and so peculiarly situated altogether that
there's suitability in it, and it will come to pass. And nobody,
my love, will congratulate you more sincerely on such a marriage
than I shall."

It was curious that this should make me uncomfortable, but I think
it did. I know it did. It made me for some part of that night
uncomfortable. I was so ashamed of my folly that I did not like to
confess it even to Ada, and that made me more uncomfortable still.
I would have given anything not to have been so much in the bright
old lady's confidence if I could have possibly declined it. It
gave me the most inconsistent opinions of her. At one time I
thought she was a story-teller, and at another time that she was
the pink of truth. Now I suspected that she was very cunning, next
moment I believed her honest Welsh heart to be perfectly innocent
and simple. And after all, what did it matter to me, and why did
it matter to me? Why could not I, going up to bed with my basket
of keys, stop to sit down by her fire and accommodate myself for a
little while to her, at least as well as to anybody else, and not
trouble myself about the harmless things she said to me? Impelled
towards her, as I certainly was, for I was very anxious that she
should like me and was very glad indeed that she did, why should I
harp afterwards, with actual distress and pain, on every word she
said and weigh it over and over again in twenty scales? Why was it
so worrying to me to have her in our house, and confidential to me
every night, when I yet felt that it was better and safer somehow
that she should be there than anywhere else? These were
perplexities and contradictions that I could not account for. At
least, if I could--but I shall come to all that by and by, and it
is mere idleness to go on about it now.

So when Mrs. Woodcourt went away, I was sorry to lose her but was
relieved too. And then Caddy Jellyby came down, and Caddy brought
such a packet of domestic news that it gave us abundant occupation.

First Caddy declared (and would at first declare nothing else) that
I was the best adviser that ever was known. This, my pet said, was
no news at all; and this, I said, of course, was nonsense. Then
Caddy told us that she was going to be married in a month and that
if Ada and I would be her bridesmaids, she was the happiest girl in
the world. To be sure, this was news indeed; and I thought we
never should have done talking about it, we had so much to say to
Caddy, and Caddy had so much to say to us.

It seemed that Caddy's unfortunate papa had got over his
bankruptcy--"gone through the Gazette," was the expression Caddy
used, as if it were a tunnel--with the general clemency and
commiseration of his creditors, and had got rid of his affairs in
some blessed manner without succeeding in understanding them, and
had given up everything he possessed (which was not worth much, I
should think, to judge from the state of the furniture), and had
satisfied every one concerned that he could do no more, poor man.
So, he had been honourably dismissed to "the office" to begin the
world again. What he did at the office, I never knew; Caddy said
he was a "custom-house and general agent," and the only thing I
ever understood about that business was that when he wanted money
more than usual he went to the docks to look for it, and hardly
ever found it.

As soon as her papa had tranquillized his mind by becoming this
shorn lamb, and they had removed to a furnished lodging in Hatton
Garden (where I found the children, when I afterwards went there,
cutting the horse hair out of the seats of the chairs and choking
themselves with it), Caddy had brought about a meeting between him
and old Mr. Turveydrop; and poor Mr. Jellyby, being very humble and
meek, had deferred to Mr. Turveydrop's deportment so submissively
that they had become excellent friends. By degrees, old Mr.
Turveydrop, thus familiarized with the idea of his son's marriage,
had worked up his parental feelings to the height of contemplating
that event as being near at hand and had given his gracious consent
to the young couple commencing housekeeping at the academy in
Newman Street when they would.

"And your papa, Caddy. What did he say?"

"Oh! Poor Pa," said Caddy, "only cried and said he hoped we might
get on better than he and Ma had got on. He didn't say so before
Prince, he only said so to me. And he said, 'My poor girl, you
have not been very well taught how to make a home for your husband,
but unless you mean with all your heart to strive to do it, you bad
better murder him than marry him--if you really love him.'"

"And how did you reassure him, Caddy?"

"Why, it was very distressing, you know, to see poor Pa so low and
hear him say such terrible things, and I couldn't help crying
myself. But I told him that I DID mean it with all my heart and
that I hoped our house would be a place for him to come and find
some comfort in of an evening and that I hoped and thought I could
be a better daughter to him there than at home. Then I mentioned
Peepy's coming to stay with me, and then Pa began to cry again and
said the children were Indians."

"Indians, Caddy?"

"Yes," said Caddy, "wild Indians. And Pa said"--here she began to
sob, poor girl, not at all like the happiest girl in the world--
"that he was sensible the best thing that could happen to them was
their being all tomahawked together."

Ada suggested that it was comfortable to know that Mr. Jellyby did
not mean these destructive sentiments.

"No, of course I know Pa wouldn't like his family to be weltering
in their blood," said Caddy, "but he means that they are very
unfortunate in being Ma's children and that he is very unfortunate
in being Ma's husband; and I am sure that's true, though it seems
unnatural to say so."

I asked Caddy if Mrs. Jellyby knew that her wedding-day was fixed.

"Oh! You know what Ma is, Esther," she returned. "It's impossible
to say whether she knows it or not. She has been told it often
enough; and when she IS told it, she only gives me a placid look,
as if I was I don't know what--a steeple in the distance," said
Caddy with a sudden idea; "and then she shakes her head and says
'Oh, Caddy, Caddy, what a tease you are!' and goes on with the
Borrioboola letters."

"And about your wardrobe, Caddy?" said I. For she was under no
restraint with us.

"Well, my dear Esther,'' she returned, drying her eyes, "I must do
the best I can and trust to my dear Prince never to have an unkind
remembrance of my coming so shabbily to him. If the question
concerned an outfit for Borrioboola, Ma would know all about it and
would be quite excited. Being what it is, she neither knows nor

Caddy was not at all deficient in natural affection for her mother,
but mentioned this with tears as an undeniable fact, which I am
afraid it was. We were sorry for the poor dear girl and found so
much to admire in the good disposition which had survived under
such discouragement that we both at once (I mean Ada and I)
proposed a little scheme that made her perfectly joyful. This was
her staying with us for three weeks, my staying with her for one,
and our all three contriving and cutting out, and repairing, and
sewing, and saving, and doing the very best we could think of to
make the most of her stock. My guardian being as pleased with the
idea as Caddy was, we took her home next day to arrange the matter
and brought her out again in triumph with her boxes and all the
purchases that could be squeezed out of a ten-pound note, which Mr.
Jellyby had found in the docks I suppose, but which he at all
events gave her. What my guardian would not have given her if we
had encouraged him, it would be difficult to say, but we thought it
right to compound for no more than her wedding-dress and bonnet.
He agreed to this compromise, and if Caddy had ever been happy in
her life, she was happy when we sat down to work.

She was clumsy enough with her needle, poor girl, and pricked her
fingers as much as she had been used to ink them. She could not
help reddening a little now and then, partly with the smart and
partly with vexation at being able to do no better, but she soon
got over that and began to improve rapidly. So day after day she,
and my darling, and my little maid Charley, and a milliner out of
the town, and I, sat hard at work, as pleasantly as possible.

Over and above this, Caddy was very anxious "to learn
housekeeping," as she said. Now, mercy upon us! The idea of her
learning housekeeping of a person of my vast experience was such a
joke that I laughed, and coloured up, and fell into a comical
confusion when she proposed it. However, I said, "Caddy, I am sure
you are very welcome to learn anything that you can learn of ME, my
dear," and I showed her all my books and methods and all my fidgety
ways. You would have supposed that I was showing her some
wonderful inventions, by her study of them; and if you had seen
her, whenever I jingled my housekeeping keys, get up and attend me,
certainly you might have thought that there never was a greater
imposter than I with a blinder follower than Caddy Jellyby.

So what with working and housekeeping, and lessons to Charley, and
backgammon in the evening with my guardian, and duets with Ada, the
three weeks slipped fast away. Then I went home with Caddy to see
what could be done there, and Ada and Charley remained behind to
take care of my guardian.

When I say I went home with Caddy, I mean to the furnished lodging
in Hatton Garden. We went to Newman Street two or three times,
where preparations were in progress too--a good many, I observed,
for enhancing the comforts of old Mr. Turveydrop, and a few for
putting the newly married couple away cheaply at the top of the
house--but our great point was to make the furnished lodging decent
for the wedding-breakfast and to imbue Mrs. Jellyby beforehand with
some faint sense of the occasion.

The latter was the more difficult thing of the two because Mrs.
Jellyby and an unwholesome boy occupied the front sitting-room (the
back one was a mere closet), and it was littered down with waste-
paper and Borrioboolan documents, as an untidy stable might be
littered with straw. Mrs. Jellyby sat there all day drinking
strong coffee, dictating, and holding Borrioboolan interviews by
appointment. The unwholesome boy, who seemed to me to be going
into a decline, took his meals out of the house. When Mr. Jellyby
came home, he usually groaned and went down into the kitchen.
There he got something to eat if the servant would give him
anything, and then, feeling that he was in the way, went out and
walked about Hatton Garden in the wet. The poor children scrambled
up and tumbled down the house as they had always been accustomed to

The production of these devoted little sacrifices in any
presentable condition being quite out of the question at a week's
notice, I proposed to Caddy that we should make them as happy as we
could on her marriage morning in the attic where they all slept,
and should confine our greatest efforts to her mama and her mama's
room, and a clean breakfast. In truth Mrs. Jellyby required a good
deal of attention, the lattice-work up her back having widened
considerably since I first knew her and her hair looking like the
mane of a dustman's horse.

Thinking that the display of Caddy's wardrobe would be the best
means of approaching the subject, I invited Mrs. Jellyby to come
and look at it spread out on Caddy's bed in the evening after the
unwholesome boy was gone.

"My dear Miss Summerson," said she, rising from her desk with her
usual sweetness of temper, "these are really ridiculous
preparations, though your assisting them is a proof of your
kindness. There is something so inexpressibly absurd to me in the
idea of Caddy being married! Oh, Caddy, you silly, silly, silly

She came upstairs with us notwithstanding and looked at the clothes
in her customary far-off manner. They suggested one distinct idea
to her, for she said with her placid smile, and shaking her head,
"My good Miss Summerson, at half the cost, this weak child might
have been equipped for Africa!"

On our going downstairs again, Mrs. Jellyby asked me whether this
troublesome business was really to take place next Wednesday. And
on my replying yes, she said, "Will my room be required, my dear
Miss Summerson? For it's quite impossible that I can put my papers

I took the liberty of saying that the room would certainly be
wanted and that I thought we must put the papers away somewhere.
"Well, my dear Miss Summerson," said Mrs. Jellyby, "you know best,
I dare say. But by obliging me to employ a boy, Caddy has
embarrassed me to that extent, overwhelmed as I am with public
business, that I don't know which way to turn. We have a
Ramification meeting, too, on Wednesday afternoon, and the
inconvenience is very serious."

"It is not likely to occur again," said I, smiling. "Caddy will be
married but once, probably."

"That's true," Mrs. Jellyby replied; "that's true, my dear. I
suppose we must make the best of it!"

The next question was how Mrs. Jellyby should be dressed on the
occasion. I thought it very curious to see her looking on serenely
from her writing-table while Caddy and I discussed it, occasionally
shaking her head at us with a half-reproachful smile like a
superior spirit who could just bear with our trifling.

The state in which her dresses were, and the extraordinary
confusion in which she kept them, added not a little to our
difficulty; but at length we devised something not very unlike what
a common-place mother might wear on such an occasion. The
abstracted manner in which Mrs. Jellyby would deliver herself up to
having this attire tried on by the dressmaker, and the sweetness
with which she would then observe to me how sorry she was that I
had not turned my thoughts to Africa, were consistent with the rest
of her behaviour.

The lodging was rather confined as to space, but I fancied that if
Mrs. Jellyby's household had been the only lodgers in Saint Paul's
or Saint Peter's, the sole advantage they would have found in the
size of the building would have been its affording a great deal of
room to be dirty in. I believe that nothing belonging to the
family which it had been possible to break was unbroken at the time
of those preparations for Caddy's marriage, that nothing which it
had been possible to spoil in any way was unspoilt, and that no
domestic object which was capable of collecting dirt, from a dear
child's knee to the door-plate, was without as much dirt as could
well accumulate upon it.

Poor Mr. Jellyby, who very seldom spoke and almost always sat when
he was at home with his head against the wall, became interested
when he saw that Caddy and I were attempting to establish some
order among all this waste and ruin and took off his coat to help.
But such wonderful things came tumbling out of the closets when
they were opened--bits of mouldy pie, sour bottles, Mrs. Jellyby's
caps, letters, tea, forks, odd boots and shoes of children,
firewood, wafers, saucepan-lids, damp sugar in odds and ends of
paper bags, footstools, blacklead brushes, bread, Mrs. Jellyby's
bonnets, books with butter sticking to the binding, guttered candle
ends put out by being turned upside down in broken candlesticks,
nutshells, heads and tails of shrimps, dinner-mats, gloves, coffee-
grounds, umbrellas--that he looked frightened, and left off again.
But he came regularly every evening and sat without his coat, with
his head against the wall, as though he would have helped us if he
had known how.

"Poor Pa!" said Caddy to me on the night before the great day, when
we really had got things a little to rights. "It seems unkind to
leave him, Esther. But what could I do if I stayed! Since I first
knew you, I have tidied and tidied over and over again, but it's
useless. Ma and Africa, together, upset the whole house directly.
We never have a servant who don't drink. Ma's ruinous to

Mr. Jellyby could not hear what she said, but he seemed very low
indeed and shed tears, I thought.

"My heart aches for him; that it does!" sobbed Caddy. "I can't
help thinking to-night, Esther, how dearly I hope to be happy with
Prince, and how dearly Pa hoped, I dare say, to be happy with Ma.
What a disappointed life!"

"My dear Caddy!" said Mr. Jellyby, looking slowly round from the
wail. It was the first time, I think, I ever heard him say three
words together.

"Yes, Pa!" cried Caddy, going to him and embracing him

"My dear Caddy," said Mr. Jellyby. "Never have--"

"Not Prince, Pa?" faltered Caddy. "Not have Prince?"

"Yes, my dear," said Mr. Jellyby. "Have him, certainly. But,
never have--"

I mentioned in my account of our first visit in Thavies Inn that
Richard described Mr. Jellyby as frequently opening his mouth after
dinner without saying anything. It was a habit of his. He opened
his mouth now a great many times and shook his head in a melancholy

"What do you wish me not to have? Don't have what, dear Pa?" asked
Caddy, coaxing him, with her arms round his neck.

"Never have a mission, my dear child."

Mr. Jellyby groaned and laid his head against the wall again, and
this was the only time I ever heard him make any approach to
expressing his sentiments on the Borrioboolan question. I suppose
he had been more talkative and lively once, but he seemed to have
been completely exhausted long before I knew him.

I thought Mrs. Jellyby never would have left off serenely looking
over her papers and drinking coffee that night. It was twelve
o'clock before we could obtain possession of the room, and the
clearance it required then was so discouraging that Caddy, who was
almost tired out, sat down in the middle of the dust and cried.
But she soon cheered up, and we did wonders with it before we went
to bed.

In the morning it looked, by the aid of a few flowers and a
quantity of soap and water and a little arrangement, quite gay.
The plain breakfast made a cheerful show, and Caddy was perfectly
charming. But when my darling came, I thought--and I think now--
that I never had seen such a dear face as my beautiful pet's.

We made a little feast for the children upstairs, and we put Peepy
at the head of the table, and we showed them Caddy in her bridal
dress, and they clapped their hands and hurrahed, and Caddy cried
to think that she was going away from them and hugged them over and
over again until we brought Prince up to fetch her away--when, I am
sorry to say, Peepy bit him. Then there was old Mr. Turveydrop
downstairs, in a state of deportment not to be expressed, benignly
blessing Caddy and giving my guardian to understand that his son's
happiness was his own parental work and that he sacrificed personal
considerations to ensure it. "My dear sir," said Mr. Turveydrop,
"these young people will live with me; my house is large enough for
their accommodation, and they shall not want the shelter of my
roof. I could have wished--you will understand the allusion, Mr.
Jarndyce, for you remember my illustrious patron the Prince Regent
--I could have wished that my son had married into a family where
there was more deportment, but the will of heaven be done!"

Mr. and Mrs. Pardiggle were of the party--Mr. Pardiggle, an
obstinate-looking man with a large waistcoat and stubbly hair, who
was always talking in a loud bass voice about his mite, or Mrs.
Pardiggle's mite, or their five boys' mites. Mr. Quale, with his
hair brushed back as usual and his knobs of temples shining very
much, was also there, not in the character of a disappointed lover,
but as the accepted of a young--at least, an unmarried--lady, a
Miss Wisk, who was also there. Miss Wisk's mission, my guardian
said, was to show the world that woman's mission was man's mission
and that the only genuine mission of both man and woman was to be
always moving declaratory resolutions about things in general at
public meetings. The guests were few, but were, as one might
expect at Mrs. Jellyby's, all devoted to public objects only.
Besides those I have mentioned, there was an extremely dirty lady
with her bonnet all awry and the ticketed price of her dress still
sticking on it, whose neglected home, Caddy told me, was like a
filthy wilderness, but whose church was like a fancy fair. A very
contentious gentleman, who said it was his mission to be
everybody's brother but who appeared to be on terms of coolness
with the whole of his large family, completed the party.

A party, having less in common with such an occasion, could hardly
have been got together by any ingenuity. Such a mean mission as
the domestic mission was the very last thing to be endured among
them; indeed, Miss Wisk informed us, with great indignation, before
we sat down to breakfast, that the idea of woman's mission lying
chiefly in the narrow sphere of home was an outrageous slander on
the part of her tyrant, man. One other singularity was that nobody
with a mission--except Mr. Quale, whose mission, as I think I have
formerly said, was to be in ecstasies with everybody's mission--
cared at all for anybody's mission. Mrs. Pardiggle being as clear
that the only one infallible course was her course of pouncing upon
the poor and applying benevolence to them like a strait-waistcoat;
as Miss Wisk was that the only practical thing for the world was
the emancipation of woman from the thraldom of her tyrant, man.
Mrs. Jellyby, all the while, sat smiling at the limited vision that
could see anything but Borrioboola-Gha.

But I am anticipating now the purport of our conversation on the
ride home instead of first marrying Caddy. We all went to church,
and Mr. Jellyby gave her away. Of the air with which old Mr.
Turveydrop, with his hat under his left arm (the inside presented
at the clergyman like a cannon) and his eyes creasing themselves up
into his wig, stood stiff and high-shouldered behind us bridesmaids
during the ceremony, and afterwards saluted us, I could never say
enough to do it justice. Miss Wisk, whom I cannot report as
prepossessing in appearance, and whose manner was grim, listened to
the proceedings, as part of woman's wrongs, with a disdainful face.
Mrs. Jellyby, with her calm smile and her bright eyes, looked the
least concerned of all the company.

We duly came back to breakfast, and Mrs. Jellyby sat at the head of
the table and Mr. Jellyby at the foot. Caddy had previously stolen
upstairs to hug the children again and tell them that her name was
Turveydrop. But this piece of information, instead of being an
agreeable surprise to Peepy, threw him on his back in such
transports of kicking grief that I could do nothing on being sent
for but accede to the proposal that he should be admitted to the
breakfast table. So he came down and sat in my lap; and Mrs.
Jellyby, after saying, in reference to the state of his pinafore,
"Oh, you naughty Peepy, what a shocking little pig you are!" was
not at all discomposed. He was very good except that he brought
down Noah with him (out of an ark I had given him before we went to
church) and WOULD dip him head first into the wine-glasses and then
put him in his mouth.

My guardian, with his sweet temper and his quick perception and his
amiable face, made something agreeable even out of the ungenial
company. None of them seemed able to talk about anything but his,
or her, own one subject, and none of them seemed able to talk about
even that as part of a world in which there was anything else; but
my guardian turned it all to the merry encouragement of Caddy and
the honour of the occasion, and brought us through the breakfast
nobly. What we should have done without him, I am afraid to think,
for all the company despising the bride and bridegroom and old Mr.
Turveydrop--and old Mr. Thrveydrop, in virtue of his deportment,
considering himself vastly superior to all the company--it was a
very unpromising case.

At last the time came when poor Caddy was to go and when all her
property was packed on the hired coach and pair that was to take
her and her husband to Gravesend. It affected us to see Caddy
clinging, then, to her deplorable home and hanging on her mother's
neck with the greatest tenderness.

"I am very sorry I couldn't go on writing from dictation, Ma,"
sobbed Caddy. "I hope you forgive me now."

"Oh, Caddy, Caddy!" said Mrs. Jellyby. "I have told you over and
over again that I have engaged a boy, and there's an end of it."

"You are sure you are not the least angry with me, Ma? Say you are
sure before I go away, Ma?"

"You foolish Caddy," returned Mrs. Jellyby, "do I look angry, or
have I inclination to be angry, or time to be angry? How CAN you?"

"Take a little care of Pa while I am gone, Mama!"

Mrs. Jellyby positively laughed at the fancy. "You romantic
child," said she, lightly patting Caddy's back. "Go along. I am
excellent friends with you. Now, good-bye, Caddy, and be very

Then Caddy hung upon her father and nursed his cheek against hers
as if he were some poor dull child in pain. All this took place in
the hall. Her father released her, took out his pocket
handkerchief, and sat down on the stairs with his head against the
wall. I hope he found some consolation in walls. I almost think
he did.

And then Prince took her arm in his and turned with great emotion
and respect to his father, whose deportment at that moment was

"Thank you over and over again, father!" said Prince, kissing his
hand. "I am very grateful for all your kindness and consideration
regarding our marriage, and so, I can assure you, is Caddy."

"Very," sobbed Caddy. "Ve-ry!"

"My dear son," said Mr. Turveydrop, "and dear daughter, I have done
my duty. If the spirit of a sainted wooman hovers above us and
looks down on the occasion, that, and your constant affection, will
be my recompense. You will not fail in YOUR duty, my son and
daughter, I believe?"

"Dear father, never!" cried Prince.

"Never, never, dear Mr. Turveydrop!" said Caddy.

"This," returned Mr. Turveydrop, "is as it should be. My children,
my home is yours, my heart is yours, my all is yours. I will never
leave you; nothing but death shall part us. My dear son, you
contemplate an absence of a week, I think?"

"A week, dear father. We shall return home this day week."

"My dear child," said Mr. Turveydrop, "let me, even under the
present exceptional circumstances, recommend strict punctuality.
It is highly important to keep the connexion together; and schools,
if at all neglected, are apt to take offence."

"This day week, father, we shall be sure to be home to dinner."

"Good!" said Mr. Turveydrop. "You will find fires, my dear
Caroline, in your own room, and dinner prepared in my apartment.
Yes, yes, Prince!" anticipating some self-denying objection on his
son's part with a great air. "You and our Caroline will be strange
in the upper part of the premises and will, therefore, dine that
day in my apartment. Now, bless ye!"

They drove away, and whether I wondered most at Mrs. Jellyby or at
Mr. Turveydrop, I did not know. Ada and my guardian were in the
same condition when we came to talk it over. But before we drove
away too, I received a most unexpected and eloquent compliment from
Mr. Jellyby. He came up to me in the hall, took both my hands,
pressed them earnestly, and opened his mouth twice. I was so sure
of his meaning that I said, quite flurried, "You are very welcome,
sir. Pray don't mention it!"

"I hope this marriage is for the best, guardian," said I when we
three were on our road home.

"I hope it is, little woman. Patience. We shall see."

"Is the wind in the east to-day?" I ventured to ask him.

He laughed heartily and answered, "No."

"But it must have been this morning, I think," said I.

He answered "No" again, and this time my dear girl confidently
answered "No" too and shook the lovely head which, with its
blooming flowers against the golden hair, was like the very spring.
"Much YOU know of east winds, my ugly darling," said I, kissing her
in my admiration--I couldn't help it.

Well! It was only their love for me, I know very well, and it is a
long time ago. I must write it even if I rub it out again, because
it gives me so much pleasure. They said there could be no east
wind where Somebody was; they said that wherever Dame Durden went,
there was sunshine and summer air.

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