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wayworn and ragged, and should find me out? What would they say,
who made so light of money, if they could know how I had scraped my
halfpence together, for the purchase of my daily saveloy and beer,
or my slices of pudding? How would it affect them, who were so
innocent of London life, and London streets, to discover how
knowing I was (and was ashamed to be) in some of the meanest phases
of both? All this ran in my head so much, on that first day at
Doctor Strong's, that I felt distrustful of my slightest look and
gesture; shrunk within myself whensoever I was approached by one of
my new schoolfellows; and hurried off the minute school was over,
afraid of committing myself in my response to any friendly notice
or advance.

But there was such an influence in Mr. Wickfield's old house, that
when I knocked at it, with my new school-books under my arm, I
began to feel my uneasiness softening away. As I went up to my
airy old room, the grave shadow of the staircase seemed to fall
upon my doubts and fears, and to make the past more indistinct. I
sat there, sturdily conning my books, until dinner-time (we were
out of school for good at three); and went down, hopeful of
becoming a passable sort of boy yet.

Agnes was in the drawing-room, waiting for her father, who was
detained by someone in his office. She met me with her pleasant
smile, and asked me how I liked the school. I told her I should
like it very much, I hoped; but I was a little strange to it at

'You have never been to school,' I said, 'have you?'
'Oh yes! Every day.'

'Ah, but you mean here, at your own home?'

'Papa couldn't spare me to go anywhere else,' she answered, smiling
and shaking her head. 'His housekeeper must be in his house, you

'He is very fond of you, I am sure,' I said.

She nodded 'Yes,' and went to the door to listen for his coming up,
that she might meet him on the stairs. But, as he was not there,
she came back again.

'Mama has been dead ever since I was born,' she said, in her quiet
way. 'I only know her picture, downstairs. I saw you looking at
<- Previous | Table Of Contents | Next -> Digital Library - Copperfield by Charles Dickens

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