Charles Dickens, Bleak House: Ch. 62

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Another Discovery

I had not the courage to see any one that night.  I had not even the courage to see myself, for I was afraid that my tears might a little reproach me.  I went up to my room in the dark, and prayed in the dark, and lay down in the dark to sleep.  I had no need of any light to read my guardian's letter by, for I knew it by heart.  I took it from the place where I kept it, and repeated its contents by its own clear light of integrity and love, and went to sleep with it on my pillow.

I was up very early in the morning and called Charley to come for a walk.  We bought flowers for the breakfast-table, and came back and arranged them, and were as busy as possible.  We were so early that I had a good time still for Charley's lesson before breakfast; Charley (who was not in the least improved in the old defective article of grammar) came through it with great applause; and we were altogether very notable.  When my guardian appeared he said, "Why, little woman, you look fresher than your flowers!"  And Mrs. Woodcourt repeated and translated a passage from the Mewlinnwillinwodd expressive of my being like a mountain with the sun upon it.

This was all so pleasant that I hope it made me still more like the mountain than I had been before.  After breakfast I waited my opportunity and peeped about a little until I saw my guardian in his own room—the room of last night—by himself.  Then I made an excuse to go in with my housekeeping keys, shutting the door after me.

"Well, Dame Durden?" said my guardian; the post had brought him several letters, and he was writing.  "You want money?"

"No, indeed, I have plenty in hand."

"There never was such a Dame Durden," said my guardian, "for making money last."

He had laid down his pen and leaned back in his chair looking at me.  I have often spoken of his bright face, but I thought I had never seen it look so bright and good.  There was a high happiness upon it which made me think, "He has been doing some great kindness this morning."

"There never was," said my guardian, musing as he smiled upon me, "such a Dame Durden for making money last."

He had never yet altered his old manner.  I loved it and him so much that when I now went up to him and took my usual chair, which was always put at his side—for sometimes I read to him, and sometimes I talked to him, and sometimes I silently worked by him—I hardly liked to disturb it by laying my hand on his breast.  But I found I did not disturb it at all.

"Dear guardian," said I, "I want to speak to you.  Have I been remiss in anything?"

"Remiss in anything, my dear!"

"Have I not been what I have meant to be since—I brought the answer to your letter, guardian?"

"You have been everything I could desire, my love."

"I am very glad indeed to hear that," I returned.  "You know, you said to me, was this the mistress of Bleak House.  And I said, yes."

"Yes," said my guardian, nodding his head.  He had put his arm about me as if there were something to protect me from and looked in my face, smiling.

"Since then," said I, "we have never spoken on the subject except once."