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I had ample leisure to refine upon my uneasiness: for Steerforth
was at Oxford, as he wrote to me, and when I was not at the
Commons, I was very much alone. I believe I had at this time some
lurking distrust of Steerforth. I wrote to him most affectionately
in reply to his, but I think I was glad, upon the whole, that he
could not come to London just then. I suspect the truth to be,
that the influence of Agnes was upon me, undisturbed by the sight
of him; and that it was the more powerful with me, because she had
so large a share in my thoughts and interest.

In the meantime, days and weeks slipped away. I was articled to
Spenlow and Jorkins. I had ninety pounds a year (exclusive of my
house-rent and sundry collateral matters) from my aunt. My rooms
were engaged for twelve months certain: and though I still found
them dreary of an evening, and the evenings long, I could settle
down into a state of equable low spirits, and resign myself to
coffee; which I seem, on looking back, to have taken by the gallon
at about this period of my existence. At about this time, too, I
made three discoveries: first, that Mrs. Crupp was a martyr to a
curious disorder called 'the spazzums', which was generally
accompanied with inflammation of the nose, and required to be
constantly treated with peppermint; secondly, that something
peculiar in the temperature of my pantry, made the brandy-bottles
burst; thirdly, that I was alone in the world, and much given to
record that circumstance in fragments of English versification.

On the day when I was articled, no festivity took place, beyond my
having sandwiches and sherry into the office for the clerks, and
going alone to the theatre at night. I went to see The Stranger,
as a Doctors' Commons sort of play, and was so dreadfully cut up,
that I hardly knew myself in my own glass when I got home. Mr.
Spenlow remarked, on this occasion, when we concluded our business,
that he should have been happy to have seen me at his house at
Norwood to celebrate our becoming connected, but for his domestic
arrangements being in some disorder, on account of the expected
return of his daughter from finishing her education at Paris. But,
he intimated that when she came home he should hope to have the
pleasure of entertaining me. I knew that he was a widower with one
daughter, and expressed my acknowledgements.

Mr. Spenlow was as good as his word. In a week or two, he referred
to this engagement, and said, that if I would do him the favour to
come down next Saturday, and stay till Monday, he would be
extremely happy. Of course I said I would do him the favour; and
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