'Exactly so,' replied Traddles, 'all to be earned. Of course we have something in the shape of tea-spoons, because we stir our tea. But they're Britannia metal.'
'The silver will be the brighter when it comes,' said I.
'The very thing we say!' cried Traddles. 'You see, my dear Copperfield,' falling again into the low confidential tone, 'after I had delivered my argument in DOE dem. JIPES versus WIGZIELL, which did me great service with the profession, I went down into Devonshire, and had some serious conversation in private with the Reverend Horace. I dwelt upon the fact that Sophy — who I do assure you, Copperfield, is the dearest girl! — '
'I am certain she is!' said I.
'She is, indeed!' rejoined Traddles. 'But I am afraid I am wandering from the subject. Did I mention the Reverend Horace?'
'You said that you dwelt upon the fact — '
'True! Upon the fact that Sophy and I had been engaged for a long period, and that Sophy, with the permission of her parents, was more than content to take me — in short,' said Traddles, with his old frank smile, 'on our present Britannia-metal footing. Very well. I then proposed to the Reverend Horace — who is a most excellent clergyman, Copperfield, and ought to be a Bishop; or at least ought to have enough to live upon, without pinching himself — that if I could turn the corner, say of two hundred and fifty pounds, in one year; and could see my way pretty clearly to that, or something better, next year; and could plainly furnish a little place like this, besides; then, and in that case, Sophy and I should be united. I took the liberty of representing that we had been patient for a good many years; and that the circumstance of Sophy's being extraordinarily useful at home, ought not to operate with her affectionate parents, against her establishment in life — don't you see?'
'Certainly it ought not,' said I.
'I am glad you think so, Copperfield,' rejoined Traddles, 'because, without any imputation on the Reverend Horace, I do think parents, and brothers, and so forth, are sometimes rather selfish in such cases. Well! I also pointed out, that my most earnest desire was, to be useful to the family; and that if I got on in the world, and anything should happen to him — I refer to the Reverend Horace — '
'I understand,' said I.
' — Or to Mrs. Crewler — it would be the utmost gratification of my wishes, to be a parent to the girls. He replied in a most admirable manner, exceedingly flattering to my feelings, and undertook to obtain the consent of Mrs. Crewler to this arrangement. They had a dreadful time of it with her. It mounted from her legs into her chest, and then into her head — '
'What mounted?' I asked.
'Her grief,' replied Traddles, with a serious look. 'Her feelings generally. As I mentioned on a former occasion, she is a very superior woman, but has lost the use of her limbs. Whatever occurs to harass her, usually settles in her legs; but on this occasion it mounted to the chest, and then to the head, and, in short, pervaded the whole system in a most alarming manner. However, they brought her through it by unremitting and affectionate attention; and we were married yesterday six weeks. You have no idea what a Monster I felt, Copperfield, when I saw the whole family crying and fainting away in every direction! Mrs. Crewler couldn't see me before we left — couldn't forgive me, then, for depriving her of her child — but she is a good creature, and has done so since. I had a delightful letter from her, only this morning.'
'And in short, my dear friend,' said I, 'you feel as blest as you deserve to feel!'
'Oh! That's your partiality!' laughed Traddles. 'But, indeed, I am in a most enviable state. I work hard, and read Law insatiably. I get up at five every morning, and don't mind it at all. I hide the girls in the daytime, and make merry with them in the evening. And I assure you I am quite sorry that they are going home on Tuesday, which is the day before the first day of Michaelmas Term. But here,' said Traddles, breaking off in his confidence, and speaking aloud, 'ARE the girls! Mr. Copperfield, Miss Crewler — Miss Sarah — Miss Louisa — Margaret and Lucy!'
They were a perfect nest of roses; they looked so wholesome and fresh. They were all pretty, and Miss Caroline was very handsome; but there was a loving, cheerful, fireside quality in Sophy's bright looks, which was better than that, and which assured me that my friend had chosen well. We all sat round the fire; while the sharp boy, who I now divined had lost his breath in putting the papers out, cleared them away again, and produced the tea-things. After that, he retired for the night, shutting the outer door upon us with a bang. Mrs. Traddles, with perfect pleasure and composure beaming from her household eyes, having made the tea, then quietly made the toast as she sat in a corner by the fire.