Charles Dickens, Bleak House: Ch. 67

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With the first money we saved at home, we added to our pretty house by throwing out a little growlery expressly for my guardian, which we inaugurated with great splendour the next time he came down to see us.  I try to write all this lightly, because my heart is full in drawing to an end, but when I write of him, my tears will have their way.

I never look at him but I hear our poor dear Richard calling him a good man.  To Ada and her pretty boy, he is the fondest father; to me he is what he has ever been, and what name can I give to that?  He is my husband's best and dearest friend, he is our children's darling, he is the object of our deepest love and veneration.  Yet while I feel towards him as if he were a superior being, I am so familiar with him and so easy with him that I almost wonder at myself.  I have never lost my old names, nor has he lost his; nor do I ever, when he is with us, sit in any other place than in my old chair at his side, Dame Trot, Dame Durden, Little Woman—all just the same as ever; and I answer, "Yes, dear guardian!" just the same.

I have never known the wind to be in the east for a single moment since the day when he took me to the porch to read the name.  I remarked to him once that the wind seemed never in the east now, and he said, no, truly; it had finally departed from that quarter on that very day.

I think my darling girl is more beautiful than ever.  The sorrow that has been in her face—for it is not there now—seems to have purified even its innocent expression and to have given it a diviner quality.  Sometimes when I raise my eyes and see her in the black dress that she still wears, teaching my Richard, I feel—it is difficult to express—as if it were so good to know that she remembers her dear Esther in her prayers.

I call him my Richard!  But he says that he has two mamas, and I am one.

We are not rich in the bank, but we have always prospered, and we have quite enough.  I never walk out with my husband but I hear the people bless him.  I never go into a house of any degree but I hear his praises or see them in grateful eyes.  I never lie down at night but I know that in the course of that day he has alleviated pain and soothed some fellow-creature in the time of need.  I know that from the beds of those who were past recovery, thanks have often, often gone up, in the last hour, for his patient ministration.  Is not this to be rich?

The people even praise me as the doctor's wife.  The people even like me as I go about, and make so much of me that I am quite abashed.  I owe it all to him, my love, my pride!  They like me for his sake, as I do everything I do in life for his sake.

A night or two ago, after bustling about preparing for my darling and my guardian and little Richard, who are coming to-morrow, I was sitting out in the porch of all places, that dearly memorable porch, when Allan came home.  So he said, "My precious little woman, what are you doing here?"  And I said, "The moon is shining so brightly, Allan, and the night is so delicious, that I have been sitting here thinking."

"What have you been thinking about, my dear?" said Allan then.

"How curious you are!" said I.  "I am almost ashamed to tell you, but I will.  I have been thinking about my old looks—such as they were."

"And what have you been thinking about THEM, my busy bee?" said Allan.

"I have been thinking that I thought it was impossible that you COULD have loved me any better, even if I had retained them."

"'Such as they were'?" said Allan, laughing.

"Such as they were, of course."

"My dear Dame Durden," said Allan, drawing my arm through his, "do you ever look in the glass?"

"You know I do; you see me do it."

"And don't you know that you are prettier than you ever were?"

"I did not know that; I am not certain that I know it now.  But I know that my dearest little pets are very pretty, and that my darling is very beautiful, and that my husband is very handsome, and that my guardian has the brightest and most benevolent face that ever was seen, and that they can very well do without much beauty in me—even supposing—."