Peggotty’s business, which was what we used to call “common-form business” in the Commons (and very light and lucrative the common-form business was), being settled, I took her down to the office one morning to pay her bill. Mr. Spenlow had stepped out, old Tiffey said, to get a gentleman sworn for a marriage licence; but as I knew he would be back directly, our place lying close to the Surrogate’s, and to the Vicar-General’s office too, I told Peggotty to wait.

We were a little like undertakers, in the Commons, as regarded Probate transactions; generally making it a rule to look more or less cut up, when we had to deal with clients in mourning. In a similar feeling of delicacy, we were always blithe and light-hearted with the licence clients. Therefore I hinted to Peggotty that she would find Mr. Spenlow much recovered from the shock of Mr. Barkis’s decease; and indeed he came in like a bridegroom.

But neither Peggotty nor I had eyes for him, when we saw, in company with him, Mr. Murdstone. He was very little changed. His hair looked as thick, and was certainly as black, as ever; and his glance was as little to be trusted as of old.

“Ah, Copperfield?” said Mr. Spenlow. “You know this gentleman, I believe?”

I made my gentleman a distant bow, and Peggotty barely recognised him. He was, at first, somewhat disconcerted to meet us two together; but quickly decided what to do, and came up to me.

“I hope,” he said, “that you are doing well?”

“It can hardly be interesting to you,” said I. “Yes, if you wish to know.”

We looked at each other, and he addressed himself to Peggotty.

“And you,” said he. “I am sorry to observe that you have lost your husband.”

“It’s not the first loss I have had in my life, Mr. Murdstone,” replied Peggotty, trembling from head to foot. “I am glad to hope that there is nobody to blame for this one,—nobody to answer for it.”

“Ha!” said he; “that’s a comfortable reflection. You have done your duty?”

“I have not worn anybody’s life away,” said Peggotty, “I am thankful to think! No, Mr. Murdstone, I have not worrited and frightened any sweet creetur to an early grave!”

He eyed her gloomily—remorsefully I thought—for an instant; and said, turning his head towards me, but looking at my feet instead of my face—

David Copperfield finds Dora in the Garden

“We are not likely to encounter soon again;—a source of satisfaction to us both, no doubt, for such meetings as this can never be agreeable. I do not expect that you, who always rebelled against my just authority, exerted for your benefit and reformation, should owe me any good-will now. There is an antipathy between us—”

“An old one, I believe?” said I, interrupting him.

He smiled, and shot as evil a glance at me as could come from his dark eyes.

“It rankled in your baby breast,” he said. “It embittered the life of your poor mother. You are right. I hope you may do better, yet; I hope you may correct yourself.”

Here he ended the dialogue, which had been carried on in a low voice, in a corner of the outer office, by passing into Mr. Spenlow’s room, and saying aloud, in his smoothest manner—

  By PanEris using Melati.

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