Charles Dickens, Bleak House: Ch. 9

[+] | [-] | reset
 

Mr. Jarndyce had ascertained the amount, either from Mr. Skimpole himself or from Coavinses, and had placed the money in my hands with instructions to me to retain my own part of it and hand the rest to Richard.  The number of little acts of thoughtless expenditure which Richard justified by the recovery of his ten pounds, and the number of times he talked to me as if he had saved or realized that amount, would form a sum in simple addition.

"My prudent Mother Hubbard, why not?" he said to me when he wanted, without the least consideration, to bestow five pounds on the brickmaker.  "I made ten pounds, clear, out of Coavinses' business."

"How was that?" said I.

"Why, I got rid of ten pounds which I was quite content to get rid of and never expected to see any more.  You don't deny that?"

"No," said I.

"Very well!  Then I came into possession of ten pounds—"

"The same ten pounds," I hinted.

"That has nothing to do with it!" returned Richard.  "I have got ten pounds more than I expected to have, and consequently I can afford to spend it without being particular."

In exactly the same way, when he was persuaded out of the sacrifice of these five pounds by being convinced that it would do no good, he carried that sum to his credit and drew upon it.

"Let me see!" he would say.  "I saved five pounds out of the brickmaker's affair, so if I have a good rattle to London and back in a post-chaise and put that down at four pounds, I shall have saved one.  And it's a very good thing to save one, let me tell you: a penny saved is a penny got!"

I believe Richard's was as frank and generous a nature as there possibly can be.  He was ardent and brave, and in the midst of all his wild restlessness, was so gentle that I knew him like a brother in a few weeks.  His gentleness was natural to him and would have shown itself abundantly even without Ada's influence; but with it, he became one of the most winning of companions, always so ready to be interested and always so happy, sanguine, and light-hearted.  I am sure that I, sitting with them, and walking with them, and talking with them, and noticing from day to day how they went on, falling deeper and deeper in love, and saying nothing about it, and each shyly thinking that this love was the greatest of secrets, perhaps not yet suspected even by the other—I am sure that I was scarcely less enchanted than they were and scarcely less pleased with the pretty dream.

We were going on in this way, when one morning at breakfast Mr. Jarndyce received a letter, and looking at the superscription, said, "From Boythorn?  Aye, aye!" and opened and read it with evident pleasure, announcing to us in a parenthesis when he was about half-way through, that Boythorn was "coming down" on a visit.  Now who was Boythorn, we all thought.  And I dare say we all thought too—I am sure I did, for one—would Boythorn at all interfere with what was going forward?

"I went to school with this fellow, Lawrence Boythorn," said Mr. Jarndyce, tapping the letter as he laid it on the table, "more than five and forty years ago.  He was then the most impetuous boy in the world, and he is now the most impetuous man.  He was then the loudest boy in the world, and he is now the loudest man.  He was then the heartiest and sturdiest boy in the world, and he is now the heartiest and sturdiest man.  He is a tremendous fellow."

"In stature, sir?" asked Richard.