“I suppose,” said my aunt, eyeing me as narrowly as she had eyed the needle in threading it, “you think Mr. Dick a short name, eh?”

“I thought it was rather a short name, yesterday,” I confessed.

“You are not to suppose that he hasn’t got a longer name, if he chose to use it,” said my aunt, with a loftier air. “Babley—Mr. Richard Babley—that’s the gentleman’s true name.”

I was going to suggest, with a modest sense of my youth and the familiarity I had been already guilty of, that I had better give him the full benefit of that name, when my aunt went on to say—

“But don’t you call him by it, whatever you do. He can’t bear his name. That’s a peculiarity of his. Though I don’t know that it’s much of a peculiarity either; for he has been ill-used enough, by some that bear it, to have a mortal antipathy for it, Heaven knows. Mr. Dick is his name here, and everywhere else now—if he ever went anywhere else, which he don’t. So take care, child, you don’t call him anything but Mr. Dick.”

I promised to obey, and went up-stairs with my message, thinking as I went that if Mr. Dick had been working at his Memorial long, at the same rate as I had seen him working at it through the open door, when I came down, he was probably getting on very well indeed. I found him still driving at it with a long pen, and his head almost laid upon the paper. He was so intent upon it, that I had ample leisure to observe the large paper kite in a corner, the confusion of bundles of manuscript, the number of pens, and, above all, the quantity of ink (which he seemed to have in, in half-gallon jars by the dozen), before he observed my being present.

“Ha! Phœbus!” said Mr. Dick, laying down his pen. “How does the world go? I’ll tell you what,” he added, in a lower tone, “I shouldn’t wish it to be mentioned, but it’s a—” here he beckoned to me and put his lips close to my ear—“it’s a mad world. Mad as Bedlam, boy!” said Mr. Dick, taking snuff from a round box on the table, and laughing heartily.

Without presuming to give my opinion on this question, I delivered my message.

“Well,” said Mr. Dick, in answer, “my compliments to her, and I—I believe I have made a start. I think I have made a start,” said Mr. Dick, passing his hand among his gray hair, and casting anything but a confident look at his manuscript. “You have been to school?”

“Yes, Sir,” I answered; “for a short time.”

“Do you recollect the date,” said Mr. Dick, looking earnestly at me, and taking up his pen to note it down, “when King Charles the First had his head cut off?”

I said I believed it happened in the year sixteen hundred and forty-nine.

“Well,” returned Mr. Dick, scratching his ear with his pen, and looking dubiously at me. “So the book says; but I don’t see how that can be. Because, if it was so long ago, how could the people about him have made that mistake of putting some of the trouble out of his head, after it was taken off, into mine?

I was very much surprised by the inquiry; but could give no information on this point.

“It’s very strange,” said Mr. Dick, with a despondent look upon his papers, and with his hand among his hair again, “that I never can get that quite right. I never can make that perfectly clear. But no matter, no matter!” he said cheerfully, and rousing himself, “there’s time enough! My compliments to Miss Trotwood, I am getting on very well indeed.”

I was going away, when he directed my attention to the kite.

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