David Copperfield By Charles Dickens Chapters 57-58

'I can only say for myself,' said my aunt, 'that I will drink all happiness and success to you, Mr. Micawber, with the utmost pleasure.'

'And I too!' said Agnes, with a smile.

Mr. Micawber immediately descended to the bar, where he appeared to be quite at home; and in due time returned with a steaming jug. I could not but observe that he had been peeling the lemons with his own clasp-knife, which, as became the knife of a practical settler, was about a foot long; and which he wiped, not wholly without ostentation, on the sleeve of his coat. Mrs. Micawber and the two elder members of the family I now found to be provided with similar formidable instruments, while every child had its own wooden spoon attached to its body by a strong line. In a similar anticipation of life afloat, and in the Bush, Mr. Micawber, instead of helping Mrs. Micawber and his eldest son and daughter to punch, in wine-glasses, which he might easily have done, for there was a shelf-full in the room, served it out to them in a series of villainous little tin pots; and I never saw him enjoy anything so much as drinking out of his own particular pint pot, and putting it in his pocket at the close of the evening.

'The luxuries of the old country,' said Mr. Micawber, with an intense satisfaction in their renouncement, 'we abandon. The denizens of the forest cannot, of course, expect to participate in the refinements of the land of the Free.'

Here, a boy came in to say that Mr. Micawber was wanted downstairs.

'I have a presentiment,' said Mrs. Micawber, setting down her tin pot, 'that it is a member of my family!'

'If so, my dear,' observed Mr. Micawber, with his usual suddenness of warmth on that subject, 'as the member of your family — whoever he, she, or it, may be — has kept us waiting for a considerable period, perhaps the Member may now wait MY convenience.'

'Micawber,' said his wife, in a low tone, 'at such a time as this — '

'"It is not meet,"' said Mr. Micawber, rising, '"that every nice offence should bear its comment!" Emma, I stand reproved.'

'The loss, Micawber,' observed his wife, 'has been my family's, not yours. If my family are at length sensible of the deprivation to which their own conduct has, in the past, exposed them, and now desire to extend the hand of fellowship, let it not be repulsed.'

'My dear,' he returned, 'so be it!'

'If not for their sakes; for mine, Micawber,' said his wife.

'Emma,' he returned, 'that view of the question is, at such a moment, irresistible. I cannot, even now, distinctly pledge myself to fall upon your family's neck; but the member of your family, who is now in attendance, shall have no genial warmth frozen by me.'

Mr. Micawber withdrew, and was absent some little time; in the course of which Mrs. Micawber was not wholly free from an apprehension that words might have arisen between him and the Member. At length the same boy reappeared, and presented me with a note written in pencil, and headed, in a legal manner, 'Heep v. Micawber'. From this document, I learned that Mr. Micawber being again arrested, 'Was in a final paroxysm of despair; and that he begged me to send him his knife and pint pot, by bearer, as they might prove serviceable during the brief remainder of his existence, in jail. He also requested, as a last act of friendship, that I would see his family to the Parish Workhouse, and forget that such a Being ever lived.

Of course I answered this note by going down with the boy to pay the money, where I found Mr. Micawber sitting in a corner, looking darkly at the Sheriff 's Officer who had effected the capture. On his release, he embraced me with the utmost fervour; and made an entry of the transaction in his pocket-book — being very particular, I recollect, about a halfpenny I inadvertently omitted from my statement of the total.

This momentous pocket-book was a timely reminder to him of another transaction. On our return to the room upstairs (where he accounted for his absence by saying that it had been occasioned by circumstances over which he had no control), he took out of it a large sheet of paper, folded small, and quite covered with long sums, carefully worked. From the glimpse I had of them, I should say that I never saw such sums out of a school ciphering-book. These, it seemed, were calculations of compound interest on what he called 'the principal amount of forty-one, ten, eleven and a half', for various periods. After a careful consideration of these, and an elaborate estimate of his resources, he had come to the conclusion to select that sum which represented the amount with compound interest to two years, fifteen calendar months, and fourteen days, from that date. For this he had drawn a note-of-hand with great neatness, which he handed over to Traddles on the spot, a discharge of his debt in full (as between man and man), with many acknowledgements.

'I have still a presentiment,' said Mrs. Micawber, pensively shaking her head, 'that my family will appear on board, before we finally depart.'

Mr. Micawber evidently had his presentiment on the subject too, but he put it in his tin pot and swallowed it.

'If you have any opportunity of sending letters home, on your passage, Mrs. Micawber,' said my aunt, 'you must let us hear from you, you know.'

'My dear Miss Trotwood,' she replied, 'I shall only be too happy to think that anyone expects to hear from us. I shall not fail to correspond. Mr. Copperfield, I trust, as an old and familiar friend, will not object to receive occasional intelligence, himself, from one who knew him when the twins were yet unconscious?'

Back to Top

Take the Quiz

Barkis, the cart driver, asks David to tell Peggotty: Barkis is willin'. This means Barkis is




Quiz