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'Well?' said my aunt, taking out the cotton on that side again.

'Well, ma'am,' returned Mr. Chillip, 'we are - we are progressing

slowly, ma'am.'

'Ya--a--ah!' said my aunt. With such a snarl at him, that Mr.
Chillip absolutely could not bear it. It was really calculated to
break his spirit, he said afterwards. He preferred to go and sit
upon the stairs, in the dark and a strong draught, until he was
again sent for.

Ham Peggotty, who went to the national school, and was a very
dragon at his catechism, and who may therefore be regarded as a
credible witness, reported next day, that happening to peep in at
the parlour-door an hour after this, he was instantly descried by
Miss Betsey, then walking to and fro in a state of agitation, and
pounced upon before he could make his escape. That there were now
occasional sounds of feet and voices overhead which he inferred the
cotton did not exclude, from the circumstance of his evidently
being clutched by the lady as a victim on whom to expend her
superabundant agitation when the sounds were loudest. That,
marching him constantly up and down by the collar (as if he had
been taking too much laudanum), she, at those times, shook him,
rumpled his hair, made light of his linen, stopped his ears as if
she confounded them with her own, and otherwise tousled and
maltreated him. This was in part confirmed by his aunt, who saw
him at half past twelve o'clock, soon after his release, and
affirmed that he was then as red as I was.

The mild Mr. Chillip could not possibly bear malice at such a time,
if at any time. He sidled into the parlour as soon as he was at
liberty, and said to my aunt in his meekest manner:

'Well, ma'am, I am happy to congratulate you.'

'What upon?' said my aunt, sharply.

Mr. Chillip was fluttered again, by the extreme severity of my
aunt's manner; so he made her a little bow and gave her a little
smile, to mollify her.

'Mercy on the man, what's he doing!' cried my aunt, impatiently.
'Can't he speak?'
<- Previous | Table Of Contents | Next -> Digital Library - Copperfield by Charles Dickens

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