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it; but there were particular circumstances to be considered at the
time, of more importance even than that selection. My son's high
spirit made it desirable that he should be placed with some man who
felt its superiority, and would be content to bow himself before
it; and we found such a man there.'
I knew that, knowing the fellow. And yet I did not despise him the
more for it, but thought it a redeeming quality in him if he could
be allowed any grace for not resisting one so irresistible as
'My son's great capacity was tempted on, there, by a feeling of
voluntary emulation and conscious pride,' the fond lady went on to
say. 'He would have risen against all constraint; but he found
himself the monarch of the place, and he haughtily determined to be
worthy of his station. It was like himself.'
I echoed, with all my heart and soul, that it was like himself.
'So my son took, of his own will, and on no compulsion, to the
course in which he can always, when it is his pleasure, outstrip
every competitor,' she pursued. 'My son informs me, Mr.
Copperfield, that you were quite devoted to him, and that when you
met yesterday you made yourself known to him with tears of joy. I
should be an affected woman if I made any pretence of being
surprised by my son's inspiring such emotions; but I cannot be
indifferent to anyone who is so sensible of his merit, and I am
very glad to see you here, and can assure you that he feels an
unusual friendship for you, and that you may rely on his
Miss Dartle played backgammon as eagerly as she did everything
else. If I had seen her, first, at the board, I should have
fancied that her figure had got thin, and her eyes had got large,
over that pursuit, and no other in the world. But I am very much
mistaken if she missed a word of this, or lost a look of mine as I
received it with the utmost pleasure, and honoured by Mrs.
Steerforth's confidence, felt older than I had done since I left
When the evening was pretty far spent, and a tray of glasses and
decanters came in, Steerforth promised, over the fire, that he
would seriously think of going down into the country with me.
There was no hurry, he said; a week hence would do; and his mother
hospitably said the same. While we were talking, he more than once