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Agnes Wickfield
by [?]

When I became the adopted son of my aunt, Miss Betsy Trotwood, my new clothes were marked Trotwood Copperfield, instead of the old familiar David of my childhood; and I began my new life, not only in the new name, but with everything new about me, and felt for many days like one in a dream, until I had proved the happy reality to be a fact.

My aunt’s first desire was to place me in a good school at Canterbury, and, lack of education having been my chief source of anxiety, this resolve gave me unbounded delight. So it was with a flutter of joyful anticipation that I accompanied her to Canterbury to call upon her agent and friend Mr. Wickfield, and to confer with him upon the all-important subject of schools and boarding places.

Arriving at Canterbury, we stopped before a very old house, bulging out over the road, with long low latticed windows bulging out still further, and beams with carved heads on the ends bulging out too; so that I fancied the whole house was leaning forward, trying to see who was passing on the pavement below. It was quite spotless in its cleanliness. The old-fashioned brass knocker on the low arched door, ornamented with carved garlands of fruit and flowers, twinkled like a star; the two stone steps descending to the door were as white as if they had been covered with fair linen, and all the angles, and corners, and carvings, and mouldings, and quaint little panes of glass, and quainter little windows, were as pure as any snow that ever fell upon the hills.

When the pony chaise stopped at the door, we alighted and had a long conference with Mr. Wickfield, an elderly gentleman with grey hair and black eyebrows. He approved of my aunt’s selection of Dr. Strong’s school, and in regard to a home for me, made the following proposal:

“Leave your nephew here for the present. He’s a quiet fellow. He won’t disturb me at all. It’s a capital house for study. As quiet as a monastery, and almost as roomy. Leave him here.”

My aunt evidently liked the offer, but was delicate of accepting it, until Mr. Wickfield cried, “Come! I know how you feel, you shall not be oppressed by the receipt of favors, Miss Trotwood. You may pay for him if you like.”

“On that understanding,” said my aunt, “though it doesn’t lessen the real obligation, I shall be very glad to leave him.”

“Then come and see my little housekeeper,” said Mr. Wickfield.

We accordingly went up a wonderful old staircase, with a balustrade so broad that we might have gone up that, almost as easily, and into a shady old drawing-room, lighted by three or four quaint windows which had old oak seats in them, that seemed to have come of the same trees as the shining oak floor, and the great beams in the ceiling. It was a prettily furnished room, with a piano, and some lively furniture in red and green, and some flowers. It seemed to be all odd nooks and corners; and in every nook and corner there was some queer little table, or cupboard, or bookcase, or seat, or something or other, that made me think there was not such another corner in the room, until I looked at the next one and found it equal to it if not better. On everything there was the same air of refinement and cleanliness that marked the house outside.

Mr. Wickfield tapped at a door in a corner of the panelled wall, and a girl of about my own age came quickly out and kissed him. On her face, I saw immediately the placid and sweet expression of a lady whose portrait I had seen downstairs. It seemed to my imagination as if the portrait had grown womanly, and the original had remained a child. Although her face was quite bright and happy, there was a tranquillity about it, and about her–a quiet, good, calm, spirit–that I never have forgotten; that I never shall forget.