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'Has he come home, sir?' I inquired.

'From India?' said the Doctor. 'Yes. Mr. Jack Maldon couldn't
bear the climate, my dear. Mrs. Markleham - you have not forgotten
Mrs. Markleham?'

Forgotten the Old Soldier! And in that short time!

'Mrs. Markleham,' said the Doctor, 'was quite vexed about him, poor
thing; so we have got him at home again; and we have bought him a
little Patent place, which agrees with him much better.'

I knew enough of Mr. Jack Maldon to suspect from this account that
it was a place where there was not much to do, and which was pretty
well paid. The Doctor, walking up and down with his hand on my
shoulder, and his kind face turned encouragingly to mine, went on:

'Now, my dear Copperfield, in reference to this proposal of yours.
It's very gratifying and agreeable to me, I am sure; but don't you
think you could do better? You achieved distinction, you know,
when you were with us. You are qualified for many good things.
You have laid a foundation that any edifice may be raised upon; and
is it not a pity that you should devote the spring-time of your
life to such a poor pursuit as I can offer?'

I became very glowing again, and, expressing myself in a
rhapsodical style, I am afraid, urged my request strongly;
reminding the Doctor that I had already a profession.

'Well, well,' said the Doctor, 'that's true. Certainly, your
having a profession, and being actually engaged in studying it,
makes a difference. But, my good young friend, what's seventy
pounds a year?'

'It doubles our income, Doctor Strong,' said I.

'Dear me!' replied the Doctor. 'To think of that! Not that I mean
to say it's rigidly limited to seventy pounds a-year, because I
have always contemplated making any young friend I might thus
employ, a present too. Undoubtedly,' said the Doctor, still
walking me up and down with his hand on my shoulder. 'I have
always taken an annual present into account.'

'My dear tutor,' said I (now, really, without any nonsense), 'to
whom I owe more obligations already than I ever can acknowledge -'
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