'Lord bless me, yes!' said Traddles — 'by the Reverend Horace — to Sophy — down in Devonshire. Why, my dear boy, she's behind the window curtain! Look here!'
To my amazement, the dearest girl in the world came at that same instant, laughing and blushing, from her place of concealment. And a more cheerful, amiable, honest, happy, bright-looking bride, I believe (as I could not help saying on the spot) the world never saw. I kissed her as an old acquaintance should, and wished them joy with all my might of heart.
'Dear me,' said Traddles, 'what a delightful re-union this is! You are so extremely brown, my dear Copperfield! God bless my soul, how happy I am!'
'And so am I,' said I.
'And I am sure I am!' said the blushing and laughing Sophy.
'We are all as happy as possible!' said Traddles. 'Even the girls are happy. Dear me, I declare I forgot them!'
'Forgot?' said I.
'The girls,' said Traddles. 'Sophy's sisters. They are staying with us. They have come to have a peep at London. The fact is, when — was it you that tumbled upstairs, Copperfield?'
'It was,' said I, laughing.
'Well then, when you tumbled upstairs,' said Traddles, 'I was romping with the girls. In point of fact, we were playing at Puss in the Corner. But as that wouldn't do in Westminster Hall, and as it wouldn't look quite professional if they were seen by a client, they decamped. And they are now — listening, I have no doubt,' said Traddles, glancing at the door of another room.
'I am sorry,' said I, laughing afresh, 'to have occasioned such a dispersion.'
'Upon my word,' rejoined Traddles, greatly delighted, 'if you had seen them running away, and running back again, after you had knocked, to pick up the combs they had dropped out of their hair, and going on in the maddest manner, you wouldn't have said so. My love, will you fetch the girls?'
Sophy tripped away, and we heard her received in the adjoining room with a peal of laughter.
'Really musical, isn't it, my dear Copperfield?' said Traddles. 'It's very agreeable to hear. It quite lights up these old rooms. To an unfortunate bachelor of a fellow who has lived alone all his life, you know, it's positively delicious. It's charming. Poor things, they have had a great loss in Sophy — who, I do assure you, Copperfield is, and ever was, the dearest girl! — and it gratifies me beyond expression to find them in such good spirits. The society of girls is a very delightful thing, Copperfield. It's not professional, but it's very delightful.'
Observing that he slightly faltered, and comprehending that in the goodness of his heart he was fearful of giving me some pain by what he had said, I expressed my concurrence with a heartiness that evidently relieved and pleased him greatly.
'But then,' said Traddles, 'our domestic arrangements are, to say the truth, quite unprofessional altogether, my dear Copperfield. Even Sophy's being here, is unprofessional. And we have no other place of abode. We have put to sea in a cockboat, but we are quite prepared to rough it. And Sophy's an extraordinary manager! You'll be surprised how those girls are stowed away. I am sure I hardly know how it's done!'
'Are many of the young ladies with you?' I inquired.
'The eldest, the Beauty is here,' said Traddles, in a low confidential voice, 'Caroline. And Sarah's here — the one I mentioned to you as having something the matter with her spine, you know. Immensely better! And the two youngest that Sophy educated are with us. And Louisa's here.'
'Indeed!' cried I.
'Yes,' said Traddles. 'Now the whole set — I mean the chambers — is only three rooms; but Sophy arranges for the girls in the most wonderful way, and they sleep as comfortably as possible. Three in that room,' said Traddles, pointing. 'Two in that.'
I could not help glancing round, in search of the accommodation remaining for Mr. and Mrs. Traddles. Traddles understood me.
'Well!' said Traddles, 'we are prepared to rough it, as I said just now, and we did improvise a bed last week, upon the floor here. But there's a little room in the roof — a very nice room, when you're up there — which Sophy papered herself, to surprise me; and that's our room at present. It's a capital little gipsy sort of place. There's quite a view from it.'
'And you are happily married at last, my dear Traddles!' said I. 'How rejoiced I am!'
'Thank you, my dear Copperfield,' said Traddles, as we shook hands once more. 'Yes, I am as happy as it's possible to be. There's your old friend, you see,' said Traddles, nodding triumphantly at the flower-pot and stand; 'and there's the table with the marble top! All the other furniture is plain and serviceable, you perceive. And as to plate, Lord bless you, we haven't so much as a tea-spoon.'
'All to be earned?' said I, cheerfully.