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breakfast table, and familiarize myself with the outside of it a
little, before I could resolve to break the seal.

I found, when I did open it, that it was a very kind note,
containing no reference to my condition at the theatre. All it
said was, 'My dear Trotwood. I am staying at the house of papa's
agent, Mr. Waterbrook, in Ely Place, Holborn. Will you come and
see me today, at any time you like to appoint? Ever yours
affectionately, AGNES. '

It took me such a long time to write an answer at all to my
satisfaction, that I don't know what the ticket-porter can have
thought, unless he thought I was learning to write. I must have
written half-a-dozen answers at least. I began one, 'How can I
ever hope, my dear Agnes, to efface from your remembrance the
disgusting impression' - there I didn't like it, and then I tore it
up. I began another, 'Shakespeare has observed, my dear Agnes, how
strange it is that a man should put an enemy into his mouth' - that
reminded me of Markham, and it got no farther. I even tried
poetry. I began one note, in a six-syllable line, 'Oh, do not
remember' - but that associated itself with the fifth of November,
and became an absurdity. After many attempts, I wrote, 'My dear
Agnes. Your letter is like you, and what could I say of it that
would be higher praise than that? I will come at four o'clock.
Affectionately and sorrowfully, T.C.' With this missive (which I
was in twenty minds at once about recalling, as soon as it was out
of my hands), the ticket-porter at last departed.

If the day were half as tremendous to any other professional
gentleman in Doctors' Commons as it was to me, I sincerely believe
he made some expiation for his share in that rotten old
ecclesiastical cheese. Although I left the office at half past
three, and was prowling about the place of appointment within a few
minutes afterwards, the appointed time was exceeded by a full
quarter of an hour, according to the clock of St. Andrew's,
Holborn, before I could muster up sufficient desperation to pull
the private bell-handle let into the left-hand door-post of Mr.
Waterbrook's house.

The professional business of Mr. Waterbrook's establishment was
done on the ground-floor, and the genteel business (of which there
was a good deal) in the upper part of the building. I was shown
into a pretty but rather close drawing-room, and there sat Agnes,
netting a purse.
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