But he was, in his way, just as bad--I mean as good; and in short it was the old story, and nobody would leave me any possibility of doing anything meritorious.
The elder Mr. Turveydrop was in bed, I found, and Caddy was milling his chocolate, which a melancholy little boy who was an apprentice --it seemed such a curious thing to be apprenticed to the trade of dancing--was waiting to carry upstairs. Her father-in-law was extremely kind and considerate, Caddy told me, and they lived most happily together. (When she spoke of their living together, she meant that the old gentleman had all the good things and all the good lodging, while she and her husband had what they could get, and were poked into two corner rooms over the Mews.)
"And how is your mama, Caddy?" said I.
"Why, I hear of her, Esther," replied Caddy, "through Pa, but I see very little of her. We are good friends, I am glad to say, but Ma thinks there is something absurd in my having married a dancing- master, and she is rather afraid of its extending to her."
It struck me that if Mrs. Jellyby had discharged her own natural duties and obligations before she swept the horizon with a telescope in search of others, she would have taken the best precautions against becoming absurd, but I need scarcely observe that I kept this to myself.
"And your papa, Caddy?"
"He comes here every evening," returned Caddy, "and is so fond of sitting in the corner there that it's a treat to see him."
Looking at the corner, I plainly perceived the mark of Mr. Jellyby's head against the wall. It was consolatory to know that he had found such a resting-place for it.
"And you, Caddy," said I, "you are always busy, I'll be bound?"
"Well, my dear," returned Caddy, "I am indeed, for to tell you a grand secret, I am qualifying myself to give lessons. Prince's health is not strong, and I want to be able to assist him. What with schools, and classes here, and private pupils, AND the apprentices, he really has too much to do, poor fellow!"
The notion of the apprentices was still so odd to me that I asked Caddy if there were many of them.
"Four," said Caddy. "One in-door, and three out. They are very good children; only when they get together they WILL play-- children-like--instead of attending to their work. So the little boy you saw just now waltzes by himself in the empty kitchen, and we distribute the others over the house as well as we can."
"That is only for their steps, of course?" said I.
"Only for their steps," said Caddy. "In that way they practise, so many hours at a time, whatever steps they happen to be upon. They dance in the academy, and at this time of year we do figures at five every morning."
"Why, what a laborious life!" I exclaimed.
"I assure you, my dear," returned Caddy, smiling, "when the out- door apprentices ring us up in the morning (the bell rings into our room, not to disturb old Mr. Turveydrop), and when I put up the window and see them standing on the door-step with their little pumps under their arms, I am actually reminded of the Sweeps."
All this presented the art to me in a singular light, to be sure. Caddy enjoyed the effect of her communication and cheerfully recounted the particulars of her own studies.
"You see, my dear, to save expense I ought to know something of the piano, and I ought to know something of the kit too, and consequently I have to practise those two instruments as well as the details of our profession. If Ma had been like anybody else, I might have had some little musical knowledge to begin upon. However, I hadn't any; and that part of the work is, at first, a little discouraging, I must allow. But I have a very good ear, and I am used to drudgery--I have to thank Ma for that, at all events-- and where there's a will there's a way, you know, Esther, the world over." Saying these words, Caddy laughingly sat down at a little jingling square piano and really rattled off a quadrille with great spirit. Then she good-humouredly and blushingly got up again, and while she still laughed herself, said, "Don't laugh at me, please; that's a dear girl!"
I would sooner have cried, but I did neither.