two hours), but she found out something that she was certain Annie would like to see. It was in vain for Annie to protest that she was weary of such things. Her mothers remonstrance always was, Now, my dear Annie, I am sure you know better; and I must tell you, my love, that you are not making a proper return for the kindness of Doctor Strong.
This was usually said in the Doctors presence, and appeared to me to constitute Annies principal inducement for withdrawing her objections when she made any. But in general she resigned herself to her mother, and went where the Old Soldier would.
It rarely happened now that Mr. Maldon accompanied them. Sometimes my aunt and Dora were invited to do so, and accepted the invitation. Sometimes Dora only was asked. The time had been, when I should have been uneasy in her going; but reflection on what had passed that former night in the Doctors study, had made a change in my mistrust. I believed that the Doctor was right, and I had no worse suspicions.
My aunt rubbed her nose sometimes when she happened to be alone with me, and said she couldnt make it out; she wished they were happier; she didnt think our military friend (so she always called the Old Soldier) mended the matter at all. My aunt further expressed her opinion, that if our military friend would cut off those butterflies, and give em to the chimney-sweepers for May Day, it would look like the beginning of something sensible on her part.
But her abiding reliance was on Mr. Dick. That man had evidently an idea in his head, she said; and if he could only once pen it up into a corner, which was his great difficulty, he would distinguish himself in some extraordinary manner.
Unconscious of this prediction, Mr. Dick continued to occupy precisely the same ground in reference to the Doctor and to Mrs. Strong. He seemed neither to advance nor to recede. He appeared to have settled into his original foundation, like a building; and I must confess that my faith in his ever moving was not much greater than if he had been a building.
But one night, when I had been married some months, Mr. Dick put his head into the parlour, where I was writing alone (Dora having gone out with my aunt to take tea with the two little birds), and said, with a significant cough
You couldnt speak to me without inconveniencing yourself, Trotwood, I am afraid?
Certainly, Mr. Dick, said I; come in!
Trotwood, said Mr. Dick, laying his finger on the side of his nose, after he had shaken hands with me. Before I sit down, I wish to make an observation. You know your aunt?
A little, I replied.
She is the most wonderful woman in the world, Sir!
After the delivery of this communication, which he shot out of himself as if he were loaded with it, Mr. Dick sat down with greater gravity than usual, and looked at me.
Now, boy, said Mr. Dick, I am going to put a question to you.
As many as you please, said I.
What do you consider me, Sir? asked Mr. Dick, folding his arms.
A dear old friend, said I.
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