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As the Doctor turned his kind face, with its smile of simplicity
and gentleness, towards her, she drooped her head more. I noticed
that Mr. Wickfield looked at her steadily.

'When I happened to say to that naughty thing, the other day,'
pursued her mother, shaking her head and her fan at her, playfully,
'that there was a family circumstance she might mention to you -
indeed, I think, was bound to mention - she said, that to mention
it was to ask a favour; and that, as you were too generous, and as
for her to ask was always to have, she wouldn't.'

'Annie, my dear,' said the Doctor. 'That was wrong. It robbed me
of a pleasure.'

'Almost the very words I said to her!' exclaimed her mother. 'Now
really, another time, when I know what she would tell you but for
this reason, and won't, I have a great mind, my dear Doctor, to
tell you myself.'

'I shall be glad if you will,' returned the Doctor.

'Shall I?'


'Well, then, I will!' said the Old Soldier. 'That's a bargain.'
And having, I suppose, carried her point, she tapped the Doctor's
hand several times with her fan (which she kissed first), and
returned triumphantly to her former station.

Some more company coming in, among whom were the two masters and
Adams, the talk became general; and it naturally turned on Mr. Jack
Maldon, and his voyage, and the country he was going to, and his
various plans and prospects. He was to leave that night, after
supper, in a post-chaise, for Gravesend; where the ship, in which
he was to make the voyage, lay; and was to be gone - unless he came
home on leave, or for his health - I don't know how many years. I
recollect it was settled by general consent that India was quite a
misrepresented country, and had nothing objectionable in it, but a
tiger or two, and a little heat in the warm part of the day. For
my own part, I looked on Mr. Jack Maldon as a modern Sindbad, and
pictured him the bosom friend of all the Rajahs in the East,
sitting under canopies, smoking curly golden pipes - a mile long,
if they could be straightened out.
<- Previous | Table Of Contents | Next -> Digital Library - Copperfield by Charles Dickens

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