Mr. Micawber read on, almost smacking his lips:
'"To wit, in manner following, that is to say. Mr. W. being infirm, and it being within the bounds of probability that his decease might lead to some discoveries, and to the downfall of — HEEP'S — power over the W. family, — as I, Wilkins Micawber, the undersigned, assume — unless the filial affection of his daughter could be secretly influenced from allowing any investigation of the partnership affairs to be ever made, the said — HEEP — deemed it expedient to have a bond ready by him, as from Mr. W., for the before-mentioned sum of twelve six fourteen, two and nine, with interest, stated therein to have been advanced by — HEEP — to Mr. W. to save Mr. W. from dishonour; though really the sum was never advanced by him, and has long been replaced. The signatures to this instrument purporting to be executed by Mr. W. and attested by Wilkins Micawber, are forgeries by — HEEP. I have, in my possession, in his hand and pocket-book, several similar imitations of Mr. W.'s signature, here and there defaced by fire, but legible to anyone. I never attested any such document. And I have the document itself, in my possession."' Uriah Heep, with a start, took out of his pocket a bunch of keys, and opened a certain drawer; then, suddenly bethought himself of what he was about, and turned again towards us, without looking in it.
'"And I have the document,"' Mr. Micawber read again, looking about as if it were the text of a sermon, '"in my possession, — that is to say, I had, early this morning, when this was written, but have since relinquished it to Mr. Traddles."'
'It is quite true,' assented Traddles.
'Ury, Ury!' cried the mother, 'be umble and make terms. I know my son will be umble, gentlemen, if you'll give him time to think. Mr. Copperfield, I'm sure you know that he was always very umble, sir!'
It was singular to see how the mother still held to the old trick, when the son had abandoned it as useless.
'Mother,' he said, with an impatient bite at the handkerchief in which his hand was wrapped, 'you had better take and fire a loaded gun at me.'
'But I love you, Ury,' cried Mrs. Heep. And I have no doubt she did; or that he loved her, however strange it may appear; though, to be sure, they were a congenial couple. 'And I can't bear to hear you provoking the gentlemen, and endangering of yourself more. I told the gentleman at first, when he told me upstairs it was come to light, that I would answer for your being umble, and making amends. Oh, see how umble I am, gentlemen, and don't mind him!'
'Why, there's Copperfield, mother,' he angrily retorted, pointing his lean finger at me, against whom all his animosity was levelled, as the prime mover in the discovery; and I did not undeceive him; 'there's Copperfield, would have given you a hundred pound to say less than you've blurted out!'
'I can't help it, Ury,' cried his mother. 'I can't see you running into danger, through carrying your head so high. Better be umble, as you always was.'
He remained for a little, biting the handkerchief, and then said to me with a scowl:
'What more have you got to bring forward? If anything, go on with it. What do you look at me for?'
Mr. Micawber promptly resumed his letter, glad to revert to a performance with which he was so highly satisfied.
'"Third. And last. I am now in a condition to show, by — HEEP'S — false books, and — HEEP'S — real memoranda, beginning with the partially destroyed pocket-book (which I was unable to comprehend, at the time of its accidental discovery by Mrs. Micawber, on our taking possession of our present abode, in the locker or bin devoted to the reception of the ashes calcined on our domestic hearth), that the weaknesses, the faults, the very virtues, the parental affections, and the sense of honour, of the unhappy Mr. W. have been for years acted on by, and warped to the base purposes of — HEEP. That Mr. W. has been for years deluded and plundered, in every conceivable manner, to the pecuniary aggrandisement of the avaricious, false, and grasping — HEEP. That the engrossing object of — HEEP — was, next to gain, to subdue Mr. and Miss W. (of his ulterior views in reference to the latter I say nothing) entirely to himself. That his last act, completed but a few months since, was to induce Mr. W. to execute a relinquishment of his share in the partnership, and even a bill of sale on the very furniture of his house, in consideration of a certain annuity, to be well and truly paid by — HEEP — on the four common quarter-days in each and every year. That these meshes; beginning with alarming and falsified accounts of the estate of which Mr. W. is the receiver, at a period when Mr. W. had launched into imprudent and ill-judged speculations, and may not have had the money, for which he was morally and legally responsible, in hand; going on with pretended borrowings of money at enormous interest, really coming from — HEEP — and by — HEEP — fraudulently obtained or withheld from Mr. W. himself, on pretence of such speculations or otherwise; perpetuated by a miscellaneous catalogue of unscrupulous chicaneries — gradually thickened, until the unhappy Mr. W. could see no world beyond. Bankrupt, as he believed, alike in circumstances, in all other hope, and in honour, his sole reliance was upon the monster in the garb of man,"' — Mr. Micawber made a good deal of this, as a new turn of expression, — '"who, by making himself necessary to him, had achieved his destruction. All this I undertake to show. Probably much more!"'