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My aunt leaned her elbow on the little round table that she usually
kept beside her, and eyed him attentively. Notwithstanding the
aversion with which I regarded the idea of entrapping him into any
disclosure he was not prepared to make voluntarily, I should have
taken him up at this point, but for the strange proceedings in
which I saw him engaged; whereof his putting the lemon-peel into
the kettle, the sugar into the snuffer-tray, the spirit into the
empty jug, and confidently attempting to pour boiling water out of
a candlestick, were among the most remarkable. I saw that a crisis
was at hand, and it came. He clattered all his means and
implements together, rose from his chair, pulled out his
pocket-handkerchief, and burst into tears.

'My dear Copperfield,' said Mr. Micawber, behind his handkerchief,
'this is an occupation, of all others, requiring an untroubled
mind, and self-respect. I cannot perform it. It is out of the

'Mr. Micawber,' said I, 'what is the matter? Pray speak out. You
are among friends.'

'Among friends, sir!' repeated Mr. Micawber; and all he had
reserved came breaking out of him. 'Good heavens, it is
principally because I AM among friends that my state of mind is
what it is. What is the matter, gentlemen? What is NOT the
matter? Villainy is the matter; baseness is the matter; deception,
fraud, conspiracy, are the matter; and the name of the whole
atrocious mass is - HEEP!'

MY aunt clapped her hands, and we all started up as if we were

'The struggle is over!' said Mr. Micawber violently gesticulating
with his pocket-handkerchief, and fairly striking out from time to
time with both arms, as if he were swimming under superhuman
difficulties. 'I will lead this life no longer. I am a wretched
being, cut off from everything that makes life tolerable. I have
been under a Taboo in that infernal scoundrel's service. Give me
back my wife, give me back my family, substitute Micawber for the
petty wretch who walks about in the boots at present on my feet,
and call upon me to swallow a sword tomorrow, and I'll do it. With
an appetite!'
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