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The necessity of carrying on this dialogue (his part in which was
very slow; mine very quick) in a low tone, that the house might not
be disturbed at an unseasonable hour, did not improve my temper;
though my passion was cooling down. Merely telling him that I
should expect from him what I always had expected, and had never
yet been disappointed in, I opened the door upon him, as if he had
been a great walnut put there to be cracked, and went out of the
house. But he slept out of the house too, at his mother's lodging;
and before I had gone many hundred yards, came up with me.
'You know, Copperfield,' he said, in my ear (I did not turn my
head), 'you're in quite a wrong position'; which I felt to be true,
and that made me chafe the more; 'you can't make this a brave
thing, and you can't help being forgiven. I don't intend to
mention it to mother, nor to any living soul. I'm determined to
forgive you. But I do wonder that you should lift your hand
against a person that you knew to be so umble!'
I felt only less mean than he. He knew me better than I knew
myself. If he had retorted or openly exasperated me, it would have
been a relief and a justification; but he had put me on a slow
fire, on which I lay tormented half the night.
In the morning, when I came out, the early church-bell was ringing,
and he was walking up and down with his mother. He addressed me as
if nothing had happened, and I could do no less than reply. I had
struck him hard enough to give him the toothache, I suppose. At
all events his face was tied up in a black silk handkerchief,
which, with his hat perched on the top of it, was far from
improving his appearance. I heard that he went to a dentist's in
London on the Monday morning, and had a tooth out. I hope it was
a double one.
The Doctor gave out that he was not quite well; and remained alone,
for a considerable part of every day, during the remainder of the
visit. Agnes and her father had been gone a week, before we
resumed our usual work. On the day preceding its resumption, the
Doctor gave me with his own hands a folded note not sealed. It was
addressed to myself; and laid an injunction on me, in a few
affectionate words, never to refer to the subject of that evening.
I had confided it to my aunt, but to no one else. It was not a
subject I could discuss with Agnes, and Agnes certainly had not the
least suspicion of what had passed.