I had seen nothing like this since I went away, and it quite dashed my hopes for my friend. The chief waiter had had enough of me. He came near me no more; but devoted himself to an old gentleman in long gaiters, to meet whom a pint of special port seemed to come out of the cellar of its own accord, for he gave no order. The second waiter informed me, in a whisper, that this old gentleman was a retired conveyancer living in the Square, and worth a mint of money, which it was expected he would leave to his laundress's daughter; likewise that it was rumoured that he had a service of plate in a bureau, all tarnished with lying by, though more than one spoon and a fork had never yet been beheld in his chambers by mortal vision. By this time, I quite gave Traddles up for lost; and settled in my own mind that there was no hope for him.
Being very anxious to see the dear old fellow, nevertheless, I dispatched my dinner, in a manner not at all calculated to raise me in the opinion of the chief waiter, and hurried out by the back way. Number two in the Court was soon reached; and an inscription on the door-post informing me that Mr. Traddles occupied a set of chambers on the top storey, I ascended the staircase. A crazy old staircase I found it to be, feebly lighted on each landing by a club — headed little oil wick, dying away in a little dungeon of dirty glass.
In the course of my stumbling upstairs, I fancied I heard a pleasant sound of laughter; and not the laughter of an attorney or barrister, or attorney's clerk or barrister's clerk, but of two or three merry girls. Happening, however, as I stopped to listen, to put my foot in a hole where the Honourable Society of Gray's Inn had left a plank deficient, I fell down with some noise, and when I recovered my footing all was silent.
Groping my way more carefully, for the rest of the journey, my heart beat high when I found the outer door, which had Mr. TRADDLES painted on it, open. I knocked. A considerable scuffling within ensued, but nothing else. I therefore knocked again.
A small sharp-looking lad, half-footboy and half-clerk, who was very much out of breath, but who looked at me as if he defied me to prove it legally, presented himself.
'Is Mr. Traddles within?' I said.
'Yes, sir, but he's engaged.'
'I want to see him.'
After a moment's survey of me, the sharp-looking lad decided to let me in; and opening the door wider for that purpose, admitted me, first, into a little closet of a hall, and next into a little sitting-room; where I came into the presence of my old friend (also out of breath), seated at a table, and bending over papers.
'Good God!' cried Traddles, looking up. 'It's Copperfield!' and rushed into my arms, where I held him tight.
'All well, my dear Traddles?'
'All well, my dear, dear Copperfield, and nothing but good news!'
We cried with pleasure, both of us.
'My dear fellow,' said Traddles, rumpling his hair in his excitement, which was a most unnecessary operation, 'my dearest Copperfield, my long-lost and most welcome friend, how glad I am to see you! How brown you are! How glad I am! Upon my life and honour, I never was so rejoiced, my beloved Copperfield, never!'
I was equally at a loss to express my emotions. I was quite unable to speak, at first.
'My dear fellow!' said Traddles. 'And grown so famous! My glorious Copperfield! Good gracious me, WHEN did you come, WHERE have you come from, WHAT have you been doing?'
Never pausing for an answer to anything he said, Traddles, who had clapped me into an easy-chair by the fire, all this time impetuously stirred the fire with one hand, and pulled at my neck-kerchief with the other, under some wild delusion that it was a great-coat. Without putting down the poker, he now hugged me again; and I hugged him; and, both laughing, and both wiping our eyes, we both sat down, and shook hands across the hearth.
'To think,' said Traddles, 'that you should have been so nearly coming home as you must have been, my dear old boy, and not at the ceremony!'
'What ceremony, my dear Traddles?'
'Good gracious me!' cried Traddles, opening his eyes in his old way. 'Didn't you get my last letter?'
'Certainly not, if it referred to any ceremony.'
'Why, my dear Copperfield,' said Traddles, sticking his hair upright with both hands, and then putting his hands on my knees, 'I am married!'
'Married!' I cried joyfully.