'It don't matter,' said Traddles. 'I began, by means of his assistance, to copy law writings. That didn't answer very well; and then I began to state cases for them, and make abstracts, and that sort of work. For I am a plodding kind of fellow, Copperfield, and had learnt the way of doing such things pithily. Well! That put it in my head to enter myself as a law student; and that ran away with all that was left of the fifty pounds. Yawler recommended me to one or two other offices, however — Mr. Waterbrook's for one — and I got a good many jobs. I was fortunate enough, too, to become acquainted with a person in the publishing way, who was getting up an Encyclopaedia, and he set me to work; and, indeed' (glancing at his table), 'I am at work for him at this minute. I am not a bad compiler, Copperfield,' said Traddles, preserving the same air of cheerful confidence in all he said, 'but I have no invention at all; not a particle. I suppose there never was a young man with less originality than I have.'
As Traddles seemed to expect that I should assent to this as a matter of course, I nodded; and he went on, with the same sprightly patience — I can find no better expression — as before.
'So, by little and little, and not living high, I managed to scrape up the hundred pounds at last,' said Traddles; 'and thank Heaven that's paid — though it was — though it certainly was,' said Traddles, wincing again as if he had had another tooth out, 'a pull. I am living by the sort of work I have mentioned, still, and I hope, one of these days, to get connected with some newspaper: which would almost be the making of my fortune. Now, Copperfield, you are so exactly what you used to be, with that agreeable face, and it's so pleasant to see you, that I sha'n't conceal anything. Therefore you must know that I am engaged.'
Engaged! Oh, Dora!
'She is a curate's daughter,' said Traddles; 'one of ten, down in Devonshire. Yes!' For he saw me glance, involuntarily, at the prospect on the inkstand. 'That's the church! You come round here to the left, out of this gate,' tracing his finger along the inkstand, 'and exactly where I hold this pen, there stands the house — facing, you understand, towards the church.'
The delight with which he entered into these particulars, did not fully present itself to me until afterwards; for my selfish thoughts were making a ground-plan of Mr. Spenlow's house and garden at the same moment.
'She is such a dear girl!' said Traddles; 'a little older than me, but the dearest girl! I told you I was going out of town? I have been down there. I walked there, and I walked back, and I had the most delightful time! I dare say ours is likely to be a rather long engagement, but our motto is "Wait and hope!" We always say that. "Wait and hope," we always say. And she would wait, Copperfield, till she was sixty — any age you can mention — for me!'
Traddles rose from his chair, and, with a triumphant smile, put his hand upon the white cloth I had observed.
'However,' he said, 'it's not that we haven't made a beginning towards housekeeping. No, no; we have begun. We must get on by degrees, but we have begun. Here,' drawing the cloth off with great pride and care, 'are two pieces of furniture to commence with. This flower-pot and stand, she bought herself. You put that in a parlour window,' said Traddles, falling a little back from it to survey it with the greater admiration, 'with a plant in it, and — and there you are! This little round table with the marble top (it's two feet ten in circumference), I bought. You want to lay a book down, you know, or somebody comes to see you or your wife, and wants a place to stand a cup of tea upon, and — and there you are again!' said Traddles. 'It's an admirable piece of workmanship — firm as a rock!' I praised them both, highly, and Traddles replaced the covering as carefully as he had removed it.
'It's not a great deal towards the furnishing,' said Traddles, 'but it's something. The table-cloths, and pillow-cases, and articles of that kind, are what discourage me most, Copperfield. So does the ironmongery — candle-boxes, and gridirons, and that sort of necessaries — because those things tell, and mount up. However, "wait and hope!" And I assure you she's the dearest girl!'
'I am quite certain of it,' said I.
'In the meantime,' said Traddles, coming back to his chair; 'and this is the end of my prosing about myself, I get on as well as I can. I don't make much, but I don't spend much. In general, I board with the people downstairs, who are very agreeable people indeed. Both Mr. and Mrs. Micawber have seen a good deal of life, and are excellent company.'
'My dear Traddles!' I quickly exclaimed. 'What are you talking about?'
Traddles looked at me, as if he wondered what I was talking about.
'Mr. and Mrs. Micawber!' I repeated. 'Why, I am intimately acquainted with them!'