In a corner of the room was something neatly covered up with a large white cloth. I could not make out what that was.
'Traddles,' said I, shaking hands with him again, after I had sat down, 'I am delighted to see you.'
'I am delighted to see YOU, Copperfield,' he returned. 'I am very glad indeed to see you. It was because I was thoroughly glad to see you when we met in Ely Place, and was sure you were thoroughly glad to see me, that I gave you this address instead of my address at chambers.' 'Oh! You have chambers?' said I.
'Why, I have the fourth of a room and a passage, and the fourth of a clerk,' returned Traddles. 'Three others and myself unite to have a set of chambers — to look business-like — and we quarter the clerk too. Half-a-crown a week he costs me.'
His old simple character and good temper, and something of his old unlucky fortune also, I thought, smiled at me in the smile with which he made this explanation.
'It's not because I have the least pride, Copperfield, you understand,' said Traddles, 'that I don't usually give my address here. It's only on account of those who come to me, who might not like to come here. For myself, I am fighting my way on in the world against difficulties, and it would be ridiculous if I made a pretence of doing anything else.'
'You are reading for the bar, Mr. Waterbrook informed me?' said I.
'Why, yes,' said Traddles, rubbing his hands slowly over one another. 'I am reading for the bar. The fact is, I have just begun to keep my terms, after rather a long delay. It's some time since I was articled, but the payment of that hundred pounds was a great pull. A great pull!' said Traddles, with a wince, as if he had had a tooth out.
'Do you know what I can't help thinking of, Traddles, as I sit here looking at you?' I asked him.
'No,' said he.
'That sky-blue suit you used to wear.'
'Lord, to be sure!' cried Traddles, laughing. 'Tight in the arms and legs, you know? Dear me! Well! Those were happy times, weren't they?'
'I think our schoolmaster might have made them happier, without doing any harm to any of us, I acknowledge,' I returned.
'Perhaps he might,' said Traddles. 'But dear me, there was a good deal of fun going on. Do you remember the nights in the bedroom? When we used to have the suppers? And when you used to tell the stories? Ha, ha, ha! And do you remember when I got caned for crying about Mr. Mell? Old Creakle! I should like to see him again, too!'
'He was a brute to you, Traddles,' said I, indignantly; for his good humour made me feel as if I had seen him beaten but yesterday.
'Do you think so?' returned Traddles. 'Really? Perhaps he was rather. But it's all over, a long while. Old Creakle!'
'You were brought up by an uncle, then?' said I.
'Of course I was!' said Traddles. 'The one I was always going to write to. And always didn't, eh! Ha, ha, ha! Yes, I had an uncle then. He died soon after I left school.'
'Yes. He was a retired — what do you call it! — draper — cloth-merchant — and had made me his heir. But he didn't like me when I grew up.'
'Do you really mean that?' said I. He was so composed, that I fancied he must have some other meaning.
'Oh dear, yes, Copperfield! I mean it,' replied Traddles. 'It was an unfortunate thing, but he didn't like me at all. He said I wasn't at all what he expected, and so he married his housekeeper.'
'And what did you do?' I asked.
'I didn't do anything in particular,' said Traddles. 'I lived with them, waiting to be put out in the world, until his gout unfortunately flew to his stomach — and so he died, and so she married a young man, and so I wasn't provided for.'
'Did you get nothing, Traddles, after all?'
'Oh dear, yes!' said Traddles. 'I got fifty pounds. I had never been brought up to any profession, and at first I was at a loss what to do for myself. However, I began, with the assistance of the son of a professional man, who had been to Salem House — Yawler, with his nose on one side. Do you recollect him?'
No. He had not been there with me; all the noses were straight in my day.