Woodcourt seemed a little distressed by her prolixity, but he was too considerate to let her see it and contrived delicately to bring the conversation round to making his acknowledgments to my guardian for his hospitality and for the very happy hours--he called them the very happy hours--he had passed with us. The recollection of them, he said, would go with him wherever he went and would be always treasured. And so we gave him our hands, one after another--at least, they did--and I did; and so he put his lips to Ada's hand--and to mine; and so he went away upon his long, long voyage!
I was very busy indeed all day and wrote directions home to the servants, and wrote notes for my guardian, and dusted his books and papers, and jingled my housekeeping keys a good deal, one way and another. I was still busy between the lights, singing and working by the window, when who should come in but Caddy, whom I had no expectation of seeing!
"Why, Caddy, my dear," said I, "what beautiful flowers!"
She had such an exquisite little nosegay in her hand.
"Indeed, I think so, Esther," replied Caddy. "They are the loveliest I ever saw."
"Prince, my dear?" said I in a whisper.
"No," answered Caddy, shaking her head and holding them to me to smell. "Not Prince."
"Well, to be sure, Caddy!" said I. "You must have two lovers!"
"What? Do they look like that sort of thing?" said Caddy.
"Do they look like that sort of thing?" I repeated, pinching her cheek.
Caddy only laughed in return, and telling me that she had come for half an hour, at the expiration of which time Prince would be waiting for her at the corner, sat chatting with me and Ada in the window, every now and then handing me the flowers again or trying how they looked against my hair. At last, when she was going, she took me into my room and put them in my dress.
"For me?" said I, surprised.
"For you," said Caddy with a kiss. "They were left behind by somebody."
"At poor Miss Flite's," said Caddy. "Somebody who has been very good to her was hurrying away an hour ago to join a ship and left these flowers behind. No, no! Don't take them out. Let the pretty little things lie here," said Caddy, adjusting them with a careful hand, "because I was present myself, and I shouldn't wonder if somebody left them on purpose!"
"Do they look like that sort of thing?" said Ada, coming laughingly behind me and clasping me merrily round the waist. "Oh, yes, indeed they do, Dame Durden! They look very, very like that sort of thing. Oh, very like it indeed, my dear!"
It was not so easy as it had appeared at first to arrange for Richard's making a trial of Mr. Kenge's office. Richard himself was the chief impediment. As soon as he had it in his power to leave Mr. Badger at any moment, he began to doubt whether he wanted to leave him at all. He didn't know, he said, really. It wasn't a bad profession; he couldn't assert that he disliked it; perhaps he liked it as well as he liked any other--suppose he gave it one more chance! Upon that, he shut himself up for a few weeks with some books and some bones and seemed to acquire a considerable fund of information with great rapidity. His fervour, after lasting about a month, began to cool, and when it was quite cooled, began to grow warm again. His vacillations between law and medicine lasted so long that midsummer arrived before he finally separated from Mr. Badger and entered on an experimental course of Messrs. Kenge and Carboy. For all his waywardness, he took great credit to himself as being determined to be in earnest "this time." And he was so good-natured throughout, and in such high spirits, and so fond of Ada, that it was very difficult indeed to be otherwise than pleased with him.
"As to Mr. Jarndyce," who, I may mention, found the wind much given, during this period, to stick in the east; "As to Mr. Jarndyce," Richard would say to me, "he is the finest fellow in the world, Esther! I must be particularly careful, if it were only for his satisfaction, to take myself well to task and have a regular wind-up of this business now."
The idea of his taking himself well to task, with that laughing face and heedless manner and with a fancy that everything could catch and nothing could hold, was ludicrously anomalous.