illustration of two young men standing in 19th century garb and looking at one another

David Copperfield

by Charles Dickens

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"Barkis Is Willin'"

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Context: David Copperfield finds life very unpleasant after his widowed mother's marriage to Mr. Murdstone. Following a minor household crisis, his harsh stepfather sends him away to a dismal school for boys near London. David is sorry to leave his mother and their loyal servant Peg-gotty. As he waits in the cart-seat beside the driver, Mr. Barkis, Peg-gotty rushes out to give him a last embrace, some money, and some cakes she has baked. Mr. Barkis is a solitary man on the lookout for a suitable wife, and he is well impressed with Peggotty. When he has sampled her cakes and learns that she does all the cooking, his mind is made up: Peggotty is the woman for him. Barkis wastes neither time nor words and tells David that when he writes to Peggotty he should simply inform her that he is willing to marry her.

"Well. I'll tell you what," said Mr. Barkis. "P'raps you might be writin' to her?"
"I shall certainly write to her," I rejoined.
"Ah!" he said, slowly turning his eyes toward me. "Well! If
you was writin' to her, p'raps you'd recollect to say that Barkis
was willin'; would you?"
"That Barkis was willing," I replied. "Is that all the message?"
"Ye–es," he said, considering. "Ye–es; Barkis is willin'."

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