David Copperfield: schooldays/Creakle
Narrator : The schoolroom was the most desolate place I had ever seen. There was a strange smell in the room, like rotten apples.
Suddenly I came upon a placard, beautifully written, which was lying on a desk, and bore these words: ‘TAKE CARE OF HIM. HE BITES.’
I thought there must be a great dog underneath, so I stood on the desk. But, though I looked all round, I could see no dog. I was still looking around when the headmaster, Creakle came in.
Creakle: Copperfield, what are you doing? Why are you standing on the desk?
David: I beg your pardon, sir, I’m looking for the dog.
Creakle: Dog? What dog?’
David: Isn’t there a dog, sir? That bites?
Creakle: No, Copperfield; there’s no dog. There’s a boy that bites. Copperfield get down from that desk so I can put this placard on your back.
Narrator: With that he took me down, and tied the placard on my shoulders, and wherever I went, afterwards, I had to wear it. What I suffered from that placard, nobody can imagine. Whether it was possible for people to see me or not, I always fancied that somebody was reading it. I knew that all my fellow pupils read that I was to be watched carefully, for I bit. I even began to be afraid of myself.
Mr. Creakle: So! You are the young gentleman whose teeth are to be cut! Do YOU know me? Hey?
Narrator: said Mr. Creakle, taking me by the ear and pinching me.
David: Not yet, sir.
Mr. Creakle: Not yet? Hey? But you will soon.
David: If you please, sir…If you please, sir, if I might be allowed to take this writing off, before the boys come back…
Mr. Creakle: What? No, you can’t Do you know what I am? I’ll tell you what I am. I’m a Tartar. When I say I’ll do a thing, I do it. I am a determined character. That’s what I am. I do my duty. That’s what I do. So you are famous for biting, hey? Well, I am famous for biting, too. Do you see this cane? Now, what do you think of THAT? Does it bite, hey? Does it bite?
Narrator: At every question he gave me a fleshy cut with the cane that made me writhe in pain. Most of the boys (especially the smaller ones) were given similar beatings, as Mr. Creakle went round the classroom. There was never a man who enjoyed the teaching profession more than Mr. Creakle did. He had a delight in thrashing the boys, which was like the satisfaction of a craving, an appetite. And he couldn’t resist a chubby boy, especially; a chubby boy seemed to fascinate him and make him restless in his mind, until he had scarred him forever.
I was chubby myself, I ought to know.