MY aunt clapped her hands, and we all started up as if we were possessed.
'The struggle is over!' said Mr. Micawber violently gesticulating with his pocket-handkerchief, and fairly striking out from time to time with both arms, as if he were swimming under superhuman difficulties. 'I will lead this life no longer. I am a wretched being, cut off from everything that makes life tolerable. I have been under a Taboo in that infernal scoundrel's service. Give me back my wife, give me back my family, substitute Micawber for the petty wretch who walks about in the boots at present on my feet, and call upon me to swallow a sword tomorrow, and I'll do it. With an appetite!'
I never saw a man so hot in my life. I tried to calm him, that we might come to something rational; but he got hotter and hotter, and wouldn't hear a word.
'I'll put my hand in no man's hand,' said Mr. Micawber, gasping, puffing, and sobbing, to that degree that he was like a man fighting with cold water, 'until I have — blown to fragments — the — a — detestable — serpent — HEEP! I'll partake of no one's hospitality, until I have — a — moved Mount Vesuvius — to eruption — on — a — the abandoned rascal — HEEP! Refreshment — a — underneath this roof — particularly punch — would — a — choke me — unless — I had — previously — choked the eyes — out of the head — a — of — interminable cheat, and liar — HEEP! I — a — I'll know nobody — and — a — say nothing — and — a — live nowhere — until I have crushed — to — a — undiscoverable atoms — the — transcendent and immortal hypocrite and perjurer — HEEP!'
I really had some fear of Mr. Micawber's dying on the spot. The manner in which he struggled through these inarticulate sentences, and, whenever he found himself getting near the name of Heep, fought his way on to it, dashed at it in a fainting state, and brought it out with a vehemence little less than marvellous, was frightful; but now, when he sank into a chair, steaming, and looked at us, with every possible colour in his face that had no business there, and an endless procession of lumps following one another in hot haste up his throat, whence they seemed to shoot into his forehead, he had the appearance of being in the last extremity. I would have gone to his assistance, but he waved me off, and wouldn't hear a word.
'No, Copperfield! — No communication — a — until — Miss Wickfield — a — redress from wrongs inflicted by consummate scoundrel — HEEP!' (I am quite convinced he could not have uttered three words, but for the amazing energy with which this word inspired him when he felt it coming.) 'Inviolable secret — a — from the whole world — a — no exceptions — this day week — a — at breakfast-time — a — everybody present — including aunt — a — and extremely friendly gentleman — to be at the hotel at Canterbury — a — where — Mrs. Micawber and myself — Auld Lang Syne in chorus — and — a — will expose intolerable ruffian — HEEP! No more to say — a — or listen to persuasion — go immediately — not capable — a — bear society — upon the track of devoted and doomed traitor — HEEP!'
With this last repetition of the magic word that had kept him going at all, and in which he surpassed all his previous efforts, Mr. Micawber rushed out of the house; leaving us in a state of excitement, hope, and wonder, that reduced us to a condition little better than his own. But even then his passion for writing letters was too strong to be resisted; for while we were yet in the height of our excitement, hope, and wonder, the following pastoral note was brought to me from a neighbouring tavern, at which he had called to write it: —
'Most secret and confidential. 'MY DEAR SIR,
'I beg to be allowed to convey, through you, my apologies to your excellent aunt for my late excitement. An explosion of a smouldering volcano long suppressed, was the result of an internal contest more easily conceived than described.
'I trust I rendered tolerably intelligible my appointment for the morning of this day week, at the house of public entertainment at Canterbury, where Mrs. Micawber and myself had once the honour of uniting our voices to yours, in the well-known strain of the Immortal exciseman nurtured beyond the Tweed.
'The duty done, and act of reparation performed, which can alone enable me to contemplate my fellow mortal, I shall be known no more. I shall simply require to be deposited in that place of universal resort, where
Each in his narrow cell for ever laid, The rude forefathers of the hamlet sleep,
' — With the plain Inscription,