I suppose I looked uncertain, for he went on hastily:
'You have heard the "counting-house" mentioned, or the business, or the cellars, or the wharf, or something about it.'
'I think I have heard the business mentioned, sir,' I said, remembering what I vaguely knew of his and his sister's resources. 'But I don't know when.'
'It does not matter when,' he returned. 'Mr. Quinion manages that business.'
I glanced at the latter deferentially as he stood looking out of window.
'Mr. Quinion suggests that it gives employment to some other boys, and that he sees no reason why it shouldn't, on the same terms, give employment to you.'
'He having,' Mr. Quinion observed in a low voice, and half turning round, 'no other prospect, Murdstone.'
Mr. Murdstone, with an impatient, even an angry gesture, resumed, without noticing what he had said:
'Those terms are, that you will earn enough for yourself to provide for your eating and drinking, and pocket-money. Your lodging (which I have arranged for) will be paid by me. So will your washing — '
' — Which will be kept down to my estimate,' said his sister.
'Your clothes will be looked after for you, too,' said Mr. Murdstone; 'as you will not be able, yet awhile, to get them for yourself. So you are now going to London, David, with Mr. Quinion, to begin the world on your own account.'
'In short, you are provided for,' observed his sister; 'and will please to do your duty.'
Though I quite understood that the purpose of this announcement was to get rid of me, I have no distinct remembrance whether it pleased or frightened me. My impression is, that I was in a state of confusion about it, and, oscillating between the two points, touched neither. Nor had I much time for the clearing of my thoughts, as Mr. Quinion was to go upon the morrow.
Behold me, on the morrow, in a much-worn little white hat, with a black crape round it for my mother, a black jacket, and a pair of hard, stiff corduroy trousers — which Miss Murdstone considered the best armour for the legs in that fight with the world which was now to come off. Behold me so attired, and with my little worldly all before me in a small trunk, sitting, a lone lorn child (as Mrs. Gummidge might have said), in the post-chaise that was carrying Mr. Quinion to the London coach at Yarmouth! See, how our house and church are lessening in the distance; how the grave beneath the tree is blotted out by intervening objects; how the spire points upwards from my old playground no more, and the sky is empty!