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'Very pretty.'

'Then let me always stop and see you write.'

'I am afraid that won't improve their brightness, Dora.'

'Yes, it will! Because, you clever boy, you'll not forget me then,
while you are full of silent fancies. Will you mind it, if I say
something very, very silly? - more than usual?' inquired Dora,
peeping over my shoulder into my face.

'What wonderful thing is that?' said I.

'Please let me hold the pens,' said Dora. 'I want to have
something to do with all those many hours when you are so
industrious. May I hold the pens?'

The remembrance of her pretty joy when I said yes, brings tears
into my eyes. The next time I sat down to write, and regularly
afterwards, she sat in her old place, with a spare bundle of pens
at her side. Her triumph in this connexion with my work, and her
delight when I wanted a new pen - which I very often feigned to do
- suggested to me a new way of pleasing my child-wife. I
occasionally made a pretence of wanting a page or two of manuscript
copied. Then Dora was in her glory. The preparations she made for
this great work, the aprons she put on, the bibs she borrowed from
the kitchen to keep off the ink, the time she took, the innumerable
stoppages she made to have a laugh with Jip as if he understood it
all, her conviction that her work was incomplete unless she signed
her name at the end, and the way in which she would bring it to me,
like a school-copy, and then, when I praised it, clasp me round the
neck, are touching recollections to me, simple as they might appear
to other men.

She took possession of the keys soon after this, and went jingling
about the house with the whole bunch in a little basket, tied to
her slender waist. I seldom found that the places to which they
belonged were locked, or that they were of any use except as a
plaything for Jip - but Dora was pleased, and that pleased me. She
was quite satisfied that a good deal was effected by this
make-belief of housekeeping; and was as merry as if we had been
keeping a baby-house, for a joke.

So we went on. Dora was hardly less affectionate to my aunt than
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