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 couldn't 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. 'Thank you, Trotwood,' returned Mr. Dick, laughing, and reaching across in high glee to shake hands with me. 'But I mean, boy,' resuming his gravity, 'what do you consider me in this respect?' touching his forehead.
I was puzzled how to answer, but he helped me with a word.
'Weak?' said Mr. Dick.
'Well,' I replied, dubiously. 'Rather so.'
'Exactly!' cried Mr. Dick, who seemed quite enchanted by my reply. 'That is, Trotwood, when they took some of the trouble out of you-know-who's head, and put it you know where, there was a — ' Mr. Dick made his two hands revolve very fast about each other a great number of times, and then brought them into collision, and rolled them over and over one another, to express confusion. 'There was that sort of thing done to me somehow. Eh?'
I nodded at him, and he nodded back again.
'In short, boy,' said Mr. Dick, dropping his voice to a whisper, 'I am simple.'
I would have qualified that conclusion, but he stopped me.
'Yes, I am! She pretends I am not. She won't hear of it; but I am. I know I am. If she hadn't stood my friend, sir, I should have been shut up, to lead a dismal life these many years. But I'll provide for her! I never spend the copying money. I put it in a box. I have made a will. I'll leave it all to her. She shall be rich — noble!'
Mr. Dick took out his pocket-handkerchief, and wiped his eyes. He then folded it up with great care, pressed it smooth between his two hands, put it in his pocket, and seemed to put my aunt away with it.
'Now you are a scholar, Trotwood,' said Mr. Dick. 'You are a fine scholar. You know what a learned man, what a great man, the Doctor is. You know what honour he has always done me. Not proud in his wisdom. Humble, humble — condescending even to poor Dick, who is simple and knows nothing. I have sent his name up, on a scrap of paper, to the kite, along the string, when it has been in the sky, among the larks. The kite has been glad to receive it, sir, and the sky has been brighter with it.'
I delighted him by saying, most heartily, that the Doctor was deserving of our best respect and highest esteem.
'And his beautiful wife is a star,' said Mr. Dick. 'A shining star. I have seen her shine, sir. But,' bringing his chair nearer, and laying one hand upon my knee — 'clouds, sir — clouds.'
I answered the solicitude which his face expressed, by conveying the same expression into my own, and shaking my head.
'What clouds?' said Mr. Dick.
He looked so wistfully into my face, and was so anxious to understand, that I took great pains to answer him slowly and distinctly, as I might have entered on an explanation to a child.
'There is some unfortunate division between them,' I replied. 'Some unhappy cause of separation. A secret. It may be inseparable from the discrepancy in their years. It may have grown up out of almost nothing.'
Mr. Dick, who had told off every sentence with a thoughtful nod, paused when I had done, and sat considering, with his eyes upon my face, and his hand upon my knee.
'Doctor not angry with her, Trotwood?' he said, after some time.