Bleak House HTML version
5. A Morning Adventure
Although the morning was raw, and although the fog still seemed heavy--I say seemed,
for the windows were so encrusted with dirt that they would have made midsummer
sunshine dim--I was sufficiently forewarned of the discomfort within doors at that early
hour and sufficiently curious about London to think it a good idea on the part of Miss
Jellyby when she proposed that we should go out for a walk.
"Ma won't be down for ever so long," she said, "and then it's a chance if breakfast's
ready for an hour afterwards, they dawdle so. As to Pa, he gets what he can and goes
to the office. He never has what you would call a regular breakfast. Priscilla leaves him
out the loaf and some milk, when there is any, overnight. Sometimes there isn't any
milk, and sometimes the cat drinks it. But I'm afraid you must be tired, Miss
Summerson, and perhaps you would rather go to bed."
"I am not at all tired, my dear," said I, "and would much prefer to go out."
"If you're sure you would," returned Miss Jellyby, "I'll get my things on."
Ada said she would go too, and was soon astir. I made a proposal to Peepy, in default
of being able to do anything better for him, that he should let me wash him and
afterwards lay him down on my bed again. To this he submitted with the best grace
possible, staring at me during the whole operation as if he never had been, and never
could again be, so astonished in his life--looking very miserable also, certainly, but
making no complaint, and going snugly to sleep as soon as it was over. At first I was in
two minds about taking such a liberty, but I soon reflected that nobody in the house was
likely to notice it.
What with the bustle of dispatching Peepy and the bustle of getting myself ready and
helping Ada, I was soon quite in a glow. We found Miss Jellyby trying to warm herself at
the fire in the writing- room, which Priscilla was then lighting with a smutty parlour
candlestick, throwing the candle in to make it burn better. Everything was just as we had
left it last night and was evidently intended to remain so. Below-stairs the dinner-cloth
had not been taken away, but had been left ready for breakfast. Crumbs, dust, and
waste-paper were all over the house. Some pewter pots and a milk-can hung on the
area railings; the door stood open; and we met the cook round the corner coming out of
a public-house, wiping her mouth. She mentioned, as she passed us, that she had been
to see what o'clock it was.
But before we met the cook, we met Richard, who was dancing up and down Thavies
Inn to warm his feet. He was agreeably surprised to see us stirring so soon and said he
would gladly share our walk. So he took care of Ada, and Miss Jellyby and I went first. I
may mention that Miss Jellyby had relapsed into her sulky manner and that I really
should not have thought she liked me much unless she had told me so.