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the sedate immensity of the four-post bedstead, and the indomitable
gravity of the chests of drawers, all seemed to unite in sternly
frowning on the fortunes of Traddles, or on any such daring youth.
I came down again to my dinner; and even the slow comfort of the
meal, and the orderly silence of the place - which was bare of
guests, the Long Vacation not yet being over - were eloquent on the
audacity of Traddles, and his small hopes of a livelihood for
twenty years to come.

I had seen nothing like this since I went away, and it quite dashed
my hopes for my friend. The chief waiter had had enough of me. He
came near me no more; but devoted himself to an old gentleman in
long gaiters, to meet whom a pint of special port seemed to come
out of the cellar of its own accord, for he gave no order. The
second waiter informed me, in a whisper, that this old gentleman
was a retired conveyancer living in the Square, and worth a mint of
money, which it was expected he would leave to his laundress's
daughter; likewise that it was rumoured that he had a service of
plate in a bureau, all tarnished with lying by, though more than
one spoon and a fork had never yet been beheld in his chambers by
mortal vision. By this time, I quite gave Traddles up for lost;
and settled in my own mind that there was no hope for him.

Being very anxious to see the dear old fellow, nevertheless, I
dispatched my dinner, in a manner not at all calculated to raise me
in the opinion of the chief waiter, and hurried out by the back
way. Number two in the Court was soon reached; and an inscription
on the door-post informing me that Mr. Traddles occupied a set of
chambers on the top storey, I ascended the staircase. A crazy old
staircase I found it to be, feebly lighted on each landing by a
club-headed little oil wick, dying away in a little dungeon of
dirty glass.

In the course of my stumbling upstairs, I fancied I heard a
pleasant sound of laughter; and not the laughter of an attorney or
barrister, or attorney's clerk or barrister's clerk, but of two or
three merry girls. Happening, however, as I stopped to listen, to
put my foot in a hole where the Honourable Society of Gray's Inn
had left a plank deficient, I fell down with some noise, and when
I recovered my footing all was silent.

Groping my way more carefully, for the rest of the journey, my
heart beat high when I found the outer door, which had Mr. TRADDLES
painted on it, open. I knocked. A considerable scuffling within
ensued, but nothing else. I therefore knocked again.
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