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umbrella-struggling, hackney-coach-jostling, patten-clinking,
muddy, miserable world.
I had emerged by another door, and stood in the street for a little
while, as if I really were a stranger upon earth: but the
unceremonious pushing and hustling that I received, soon recalled
me to myself, and put me in the road back to the hotel; whither I
went, revolving the glorious vision all the way; and where, after
some porter and oysters, I sat revolving it still, at past one
o'clock, with my eyes on the coffee-room fire.
I was so filled with the play, and with the past - for it was, in
a manner, like a shining transparency, through which I saw my
earlier life moving along - that I don't know when the figure of a
handsome well-formed young man dressed with a tasteful easy
negligence which I have reason to remember very well, became a real
presence to me. But I recollect being conscious of his company
without having noticed his coming in - and my still sitting,
musing, over the coffee-room fire.
At last I rose to go to bed, much to the relief of the sleepy
waiter, who had got the fidgets in his legs, and was twisting them,
and hitting them, and putting them through all kinds of contortions
in his small pantry. In going towards the door, I passed the
person who had come in, and saw him plainly. I turned directly,
came back, and looked again. He did not know me, but I knew him in
At another time I might have wanted the confidence or the decision
to speak to him, and might have put it off until next day, and
might have lost him. But, in the then condition of my mind, where
the play was still running high, his former protection of me
appeared so deserving of my gratitude, and my old love for him
overflowed my breast so freshly and spontaneously, that I went up
to him at once, with a fast-beating heart, and said:
'Steerforth! won't you speak to me?'
He looked at me - just as he used to look, sometimes -but I saw no
recognition in his face.
'You don't remember me, I am afraid,' said I.
'My God!' he suddenly exclaimed. 'It's little Copperfield!'