Support the Monkey! Tell All your Friends and Teachers
in a rather strong voice, and afterwards pull my hair. There was
another boy, one Tommy Traddles, who I dreaded would make game of
it, and pretend to be dreadfully frightened of me. There was a
third, George Demple, who I fancied would sing it. I have looked,
a little shrinking creature, at that door, until the owners of all
the names - there were five-and-forty of them in the school then,
Mr. Mell said - seemed to send me to Coventry by general
acclamation, and to cry out, each in his own way, 'Take care of
him. He bites!'
It was the same with the places at the desks and forms. It was the
same with the groves of deserted bedsteads I peeped at, on my way
to, and when I was in, my own bed. I remember dreaming night after
night, of being with my mother as she used to be, or of going to a
party at Mr. Peggotty's, or of travelling outside the stage-coach,
or of dining again with my unfortunate friend the waiter, and in
all these circumstances making people scream and stare, by the
unhappy disclosure that I had nothing on but my little night-shirt,
and that placard.
In the monotony of my life, and in my constant apprehension of the
re-opening of the school, it was such an insupportable affliction!
I had long tasks every day to do with Mr. Mell; but I did them,
there being no Mr. and Miss Murdstone here, and got through them
without disgrace. Before, and after them, I walked about -
supervised, as I have mentioned, by the man with the wooden leg.
How vividly I call to mind the damp about the house, the green
cracked flagstones in the court, an old leaky water-butt, and the
discoloured trunks of some of the grim trees, which seemed to have
dripped more in the rain than other trees, and to have blown less
in the sun! At one we dined, Mr. Mell and I, at the upper end of
a long bare dining-room, full of deal tables, and smelling of fat.
Then, we had more tasks until tea, which Mr. Mell drank out of a
blue teacup, and I out of a tin pot. All day long, and until seven
or eight in the evening, Mr. Mell, at his own detached desk in the
schoolroom, worked hard with pen, ink, ruler, books, and writing-
paper, making out the bills (as I found) for last half-year. When
he had put up his things for the night he took out his flute, and
blew at it, until I almost thought he would gradually blow his
whole being into the large hole at the top, and ooze away at the
I picture my small self in the dimly-lighted rooms, sitting with my
head upon my hand, listening to the doleful performance of Mr.
Mell, and conning tomorrow's lessons. I picture myself with my