'I speak, if I may presume to say so, as one who has some little experience of such things,' said Traddles, 'being myself engaged to a young lady - one of ten, down in Devonshire - and seeing no probability, at present, of our engagement coming to a termination.'
'You may be able to confirm what I have said, Mr. Traddles,' observed Miss Lavinia, evidently taking a new interest in him, 'of the affection that is modest and retiring; that waits and waits?'
'Entirely, ma'am,' said Traddles.
Miss Clarissa looked at Miss Lavinia, and shook her head gravely. Miss Lavinia looked consciously at Miss Clarissa, and heaved a little sigh. 'Sister Lavinia,' said Miss Clarissa, 'take my smelling-bottle.'
Miss Lavinia revived herself with a few whiffs of aromatic vinegar - Traddles and I looking on with great solicitude the while; and then went on to say, rather faintly:
'My sister and myself have been in great doubt, Mr. Traddles, what course we ought to take in reference to the likings, or imaginary likings, of such very young people as your friend Mr. Copperfield and our niece.'
'Our brother Francis's child,' remarked Miss Clarissa. 'If our brother Francis's wife had found it convenient in her lifetime (though she had an unquestionable right to act as she thought best) to invite the family to her dinner-table, we might have known our brother Francis's child better at the present moment. Sister Lavinia, proceed.'
Miss Lavinia turned my letter, so as to bring the superscription towards herself, and referred through her eye-glass to some orderly-looking notes she had made on that part of it.