'And I am rejoiced to see you, too!' he said, shaking my hands heartily. 'Why, Copperfield, old boy, don't be overpowered!' And yet he was glad, too, I thought, to see how the delight I had in meeting him affected me.
I brushed away the tears that my utmost resolution had not been able to keep back, and I made a clumsy laugh of it, and we sat down together, side by side.
'Why, how do you come to be here?' said Steerforth, clapping me on the shoulder.
'I came here by the Canterbury coach, today. I have been adopted by an aunt down in that part of the country, and have just finished my education there. How do YOU come to be here, Steerforth?'
'Well, I am what they call an Oxford man,' he returned; 'that is to say, I get bored to death down there, periodically — and I am on my way now to my mother's. You're a devilish amiable-looking fellow, Copperfield. Just what you used to be, now I look at you! Not altered in the least!'
'I knew you immediately,' I said; 'but you are more easily remembered.'
He laughed as he ran his hand through the clustering curls of his hair, and said gaily:
'Yes, I am on an expedition of duty. My mother lives a little way out of town; and the roads being in a beastly condition, and our house tedious enough, I remained here tonight instead of going on. I have not been in town half-a-dozen hours, and those I have been dozing and grumbling away at the play.'
'I have been at the play, too,' said I. 'At Covent Garden. What a delightful and magnificent entertainment, Steerforth!'
Steerforth laughed heartily.
'My dear young Davy,' he said, clapping me on the shoulder again, 'you are a very Daisy. The daisy of the field, at sunrise, is not fresher than you are. I have been at Covent Garden, too, and there never was a more miserable business. Holloa, you sir!'
This was addressed to the waiter, who had been very attentive to our recognition, at a distance, and now came forward deferentially.
'Where have you put my friend, Mr. Copperfield?' said Steerforth.
'Beg your pardon, sir?'
'Where does he sleep? What's his number? You know what I mean,' said Steerforth.
'Well, sir,' said the waiter, with an apologetic air. 'Mr. Copperfield is at present in forty-four, sir.'
'And what the devil do you mean,' retorted Steerforth, 'by putting Mr. Copperfield into a little loft over a stable?'
'Why, you see we wasn't aware, sir,' returned the waiter, still apologetically, 'as Mr. Copperfield was anyways particular. We can give Mr. Copperfield seventy-two, sir, if it would be preferred. Next you, sir.'
'Of course it would be preferred,' said Steerforth. 'And do it at once.' The waiter immediately withdrew to make the exchange. Steerforth, very much amused at my having been put into forty-four, laughed again, and clapped me on the shoulder again, and invited me to breakfast with him next morning at ten o'clock — an invitation I was only too proud and happy to accept. It being now pretty late, we took our candles and went upstairs, where we parted with friendly heartiness at his door, and where I found my new room a great improvement on my old one, it not being at all musty, and having an immense four-post bedstead in it, which was quite a little landed estate. Here, among pillows enough for six, I soon fell asleep in a blissful condition, and dreamed of ancient Rome, Steerforth, and friendship, until the early morning coaches, rumbling out of the archway underneath, made me dream of thunder and the gods.