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The schoolroom was a pretty large hall, on the quietest side of the
house, confronted by the stately stare of some half-dozen of the
great urns, and commanding a peep of an old secluded garden
belonging to the Doctor, where the peaches were ripening on the
sunny south wall. There were two great aloes, in tubs, on the turf
outside the windows; the broad hard leaves of which plant (looking
as if they were made of painted tin) have ever since, by
association, been symbolical to me of silence and retirement.
About five-and-twenty boys were studiously engaged at their books
when we went in, but they rose to give the Doctor good morning, and
remained standing when they saw Mr. Wickfield and me.

'A new boy, young gentlemen,' said the Doctor; 'Trotwood

One Adams, who was the head-boy, then stepped out of his place and
welcomed me. He looked like a young clergyman, in his white
cravat, but he was very affable and good-humoured; and he showed me
my place, and presented me to the masters, in a gentlemanly way
that would have put me at my ease, if anything could.

It seemed to me so long, however, since I had been among such boys,
or among any companions of my own age, except Mick Walker and Mealy
Potatoes, that I felt as strange as ever I have done in my life.

I was so conscious of having passed through scenes of which they
could have no knowledge, and of having acquired experiences foreign
to my age, appearance, and condition as one of them, that I half
believed it was an imposture to come there as an ordinary little
schoolboy. I had become, in the Murdstone and Grinby time, however
short or long it may have been, so unused to the sports and games
of boys, that I knew I was awkward and inexperienced in the
commonest things belonging to them. Whatever I had learnt, had so
slipped away from me in the sordid cares of my life from day to
night, that now, when I was examined about what I knew, I knew
nothing, and was put into the lowest form of the school. But,
troubled as I was, by my want of boyish skill, and of book-learning
too, I was made infinitely more uncomfortable by the consideration,
that, in what I did know, I was much farther removed from my
companions than in what I did not. My mind ran upon what they
would think, if they knew of my familiar acquaintance with the
King's Bench Prison? Was there anything about me which would
reveal my proceedings in connexion with the Micawber family - all
those pawnings, and sellings, and suppers - in spite of myself?
Suppose some of the boys had seen me coming through Canterbury,
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