Caddy had a superstition about me which had been strengthening in her mind ever since that night long ago when she had lain asleep with her head in my lap. She almost--I think I must say quite--believed that I did her good whenever I was near her. Now although this was such a fancy of the affectionate girl's that I am almost ashamed to mention it, still it might have all the force of a fact when she was really ill. Therefore I set off to Caddy, with my guardian's consent, post-haste; and she and Prince made so much of me that there never was anything like it.
Next day I went again to sit with her, and next day I went again. It was a very easy journey, for I had only to rise a little earlier in the morning, and keep my accounts, and attend to housekeeping matters before leaving home.
But when I had made these three visits, my guardian said to me, on my return at night, "Now, little woman, little woman, this will never do. Constant dropping will wear away a stone, and constant coaching will wear out a Dame Durden. We will go to London for a while and take possession of our old lodgings."
"Not for me, dear guardian," said I, "for I never feel tired," which was strictly true. I was only too happy to be in such request.
"For me then," returned my guardian, "or for Ada, or for both of us. It is somebody's birthday to-morrow, I think."
"Truly I think it is," said I, kissing my darling, who would be twenty-one to-morrow.
"Well," observed my guardian, half pleasantly, half seriously, "that's a great occasion and will give my fair cousin some necessary business to transact in assertion of her independence, and will make London a more convenient place for all of us. So to London we will go. That being settled, there is another thing--how have you left Caddy?"
"Very unwell, guardian. I fear it will be some time before she regains her health and strength."
"What do you call some time, now?" asked my guardian thoughtfully.
"Some weeks, I am afraid."
"Ah!" He began to walk about the room with his hands in his pockets, showing that he had been thinking as much. "Now, what do you say about her doctor? Is he a good doctor, my love?"
I felt obliged to confess that I knew nothing to the contrary but that Prince and I had agreed only that evening that we would like his opinion to be confirmed by some one.
"Well, you know," returned my guardian quickly, "there's Woodcourt."
I had not meant that, and was rather taken by surprise. For a moment all that I had had in my mind in connexion with Mr. Woodcourt seemed to come back and confuse me.
"You don't object to him, little woman?"
"Object to him, guardian? Oh no!"
"And you don't think the patient would object to him?"
So far from that, I had no doubt of her being prepared to have a great reliance on him and to like him very much. I said that he was no stranger to her personally, for she had seen him often in his kind attendance on Miss Flite.
"Very good," said my guardian. "He has been here to-day, my dear, and I will see him about it to-morrow."
I felt in this short conversation--though I did not know how, for she was quiet, and we interchanged no look--that my dear girl well remembered how merrily she had clasped me round the waist when no other hands than Caddy's had brought me the little parting token. This caused me to feel that I ought to tell her, and Caddy too, that I was going to be the mistress of Bleak House and that if I avoided that disclosure any longer I might become less worthy in my own eyes of its master's love. Therefore, when we went upstairs and had waited listening until the clock struck twelve in order that only I might be the first to wish my darling all good wishes on her birthday and to take her to my heart, I set before her, just as I had set before myself, the goodness and honour of her cousin John and the happy life that was in store for for me. If ever my darling were fonder of me at one time than another in all our intercourse, she was surely fondest of me that night.