'My dear Copperfield,' returned Traddles, smiling, 'I haven't got anything to lend.'
'You have got a name, you know,' said I.
'Oh! You call THAT something to lend?' returned Traddles, with a thoughtful look.
'Oh!' said Traddles. 'Yes, to be sure! I am very much obliged to you, Copperfield; but — I am afraid I have lent him that already.'
'For the bill that is to be a certain investment?' I inquired.
'No,' said Traddles. 'Not for that one. This is the first I have heard of that one. I have been thinking that he will most likely propose that one, on the way home. Mine's another.'
'I hope there will be nothing wrong about it,' said I. 'I hope not,' said Traddles. 'I should think not, though, because he told me, only the other day, that it was provided for. That was Mr. Micawber's expression, "Provided for."'
Mr. Micawber looking up at this juncture to where we were standing, I had only time to repeat my caution. Traddles thanked me, and descended. But I was much afraid, when I observed the good-natured manner in which he went down with the cap in his hand, and gave Mrs. Micawber his arm, that he would be carried into the Money Market neck and heels.
I returned to my fireside, and was musing, half gravely and half laughing, on the character of Mr. Micawber and the old relations between us, when I heard a quick step ascending the stairs. At first, I thought it was Traddles coming back for something Mrs. Micawber had left behind; but as the step approached, I knew it, and felt my heart beat high, and the blood rush to my face, for it was Steerforth's.
I was never unmindful of Agnes, and she never left that sanctuary in my thoughts — if I may call it so — where I had placed her from the first. But when he entered, and stood before me with his hand out, the darkness that had fallen on him changed to light, and I felt confounded and ashamed of having doubted one I loved so heartily. I loved her none the less; I thought of her as the same benignant, gentle angel in my life; I reproached myself, not her, with having done him an injury; and I would have made him any atonement if I had known what to make, and how to make it.
'Why, Daisy, old boy, dumb-foundered!' laughed Steerforth, shaking my hand heartily, and throwing it gaily away. 'Have I detected you in another feast, you Sybarite! These Doctors' Commons fellows are the gayest men in town, I believe, and beat us sober Oxford people all to nothing!' His bright glance went merrily round the room, as he took the seat on the sofa opposite to me, which Mrs. Micawber had recently vacated, and stirred the fire into a blaze.
'I was so surprised at first,' said I, giving him welcome with all the cordiality I felt, 'that I had hardly breath to greet you with, Steerforth.'
'Well, the sight of me is good for sore eyes, as the Scotch say,' replied Steerforth, 'and so is the sight of you, Daisy, in full bloom. How are you, my Bacchanal?'
'I am very well,' said I; 'and not at all Bacchanalian tonight, though I confess to another party of three.'
'All of whom I met in the street, talking loud in your praise,' returned Steerforth. 'Who's our friend in the tights?'
I gave him the best idea I could, in a few words, of Mr. Micawber. He laughed heartily at my feeble portrait of that gentleman, and said he was a man to know, and he must know him. 'But who do you suppose our other friend is?' said I, in my turn.
'Heaven knows,' said Steerforth. 'Not a bore, I hope? I thought he looked a little like one.'
'Traddles!' I replied, triumphantly.
'Who's he?' asked Steerforth, in his careless way.
'Don't you remember Traddles? Traddles in our room at Salem House?'
'Oh! That fellow!' said Steerforth, beating a lump of coal on the top of the fire, with the poker. 'Is he as soft as ever? And where the deuce did you pick him up?'
I extolled Traddles in reply, as highly as I could; for I felt that Steerforth rather slighted him. Steerforth, dismissing the subject with a light nod, and a smile, and the remark that he would be glad to see the old fellow too, for he had always been an odd fish, inquired if I could give him anything to eat? During most of this short dialogue, when he had not been speaking in a wild vivacious manner, he had sat idly beating on the lump of coal with the poker. I observed that he did the same thing while I was getting out the remains of the pigeon-pie, and so forth.