nothing of them, and are not in a situation to judge how much
reality there may be in them. Therefore we are inclined so far to
accede to Mr. Copperfield’s proposal, as to admit his visits here.’
‘I shall never, dear ladies,’ I exclaimed, relieved of an immense
load of apprehension, ‘forget your kindness!’
‘But,’ pursued Miss Lavinia,—‘but, we would prefer to regard
those visits, Mr. Traddles, as made, at present, to us. We must
guard ourselves from recognizing any positive engagement
between Mr. Copperfield and our niece, until we have had an
‘Until you have had an opportunity, sister Lavinia,’ said Miss
‘Be it so,’ assented Miss Lavinia, with a sigh—‘until I have had
an opportunity of observing them.’
‘Copperfield,’ said Traddles, turning to me, ‘you feel, I am sure,
that nothing could be more reasonable or considerate.’
‘Nothing!’ cried I. ‘I am deeply sensible of it.’
‘In this position of affairs,’ said Miss Lavinia, again referring to
her notes, ‘and admitting his visits on this understanding only, we
must require from Mr. Copperfield a distinct assurance, on his
word of honour, that no communication of any kind shall take
place between him and our niece without our knowledge. That no
project whatever shall be entertained with regard to our niece,
Charles Dickens ElecBook Classics
without being first submitted to us—’
‘To you, sister Lavinia,’ Miss Clarissa interposed.
‘Be it so, Clarissa!’ assented Miss Lavinia resignedly—‘to me—
and receiving our concurrence. We must make this a most express
and serious stipulation, not to be broken on any account. We
wished Mr. Copperfield to be accompanied by some confidential
friend today,’ with an inclination of her head towards Traddles,
who bowed, ‘in order that there might be no doubt or
misconception on this subject. If Mr. Copperfield, or if you, Mr.
Traddles, feel the least scruple, in giving this promise, I beg you to
take time to consider it.’
I exclaimed, in a state of high ecstatic fervour, that not a
moment’s consideration could be necessary. I bound myself by the
required promise, in a most impassioned manner; called upon
Traddles to witness it; and denounced myself as the most
atrocious of characters if I ever swerved from it in the least degree.
‘Stay!’ said Miss Lavinia, holding up her hand; ‘we resolved,
before we had the pleasure of receiving you two gentlemen, to
leave you alone for a quarter of an hour, to consider this point.
You will allow us to retire.’
It was in vain for me to say that no consideration was necessary.
They persisted in withdrawing for the specified time. Accordingly,
these little birds hopped out with great dignity; leaving me to
receive the congratulations of Traddles, and to feel as if I were
translated to regions of exquisite happiness. Exactly at the
expiration of the quarter of an hour, they reappeared with no less
dignity than they had disappeared. They had gone rustling away
as if their little dresses were made of autumn-leaves: and they
came rustling back, in like manner.
Charles Dickens ElecBook Classics
I then bound myself once more to the prescribed conditions.
‘Sister Clarissa,’ said Miss Lavinia, ‘the rest is with you.’
Miss Clarissa, unfolding her arms for the first time, took the
notes and glanced at them.
‘We shall be happy,’ said Miss Clarissa, ‘to see Mr. Copperfield
to dinner, every Sunday, if it should suit his convenience. Our