Charles Dickens, David Copperfield: Ch. 10

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'For stubbornness won't do here,' said his sister 'What it wants is, to be crushed. And crushed it must be. Shall be, too!'

He gave her a look, half in remonstrance, half in approval, and went on:

'I suppose you know, David, that I am not rich. At any rate, you know it now. You have received some considerable education already. Education is costly; and even if it were not, and I could afford it, I am of opinion that it would not be at all advantageous to you to be kept at school. What is before you, is a fight with the world; and the sooner you begin it, the better.'

I think it occurred to me that I had already begun it, in my poor way: but it occurs to me now, whether or no.

'You have heard the "counting-house"w mentioned sometimes,' said Mr. Murdstone.

'The counting-house, sir?' I repeated. 'Of Murdstone and Grinby, in the wine trade,' he replied.

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,d 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-chaiseh 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!

X [w] "counting-house"

Places

A part of an office set aside for clerical work and the keeping of accounts.

X [d] 'no other prospect,

Education

The low voice and the words themselves have a harrowing solemnity—the loss of every hopeful expectation afforded by education. Instead, he is to be "a labouring hind," as he writes below, a menial for the remainder of his life. With education, supplemented by will and good luck, a boy had prospects; without it, a life of drudgery and penury without remission. …

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X [h] post-chaise

Transportation

A passenger and mail vehicle, four wheels and enclosed, the driver as postilion riding one of the horses.