What with having just now completed a first reading of the novel which is called "Great Expectations", my introduction to the revered work of a revered author, Mister Charles Dickens - whose name weren't at all necessary to mention, as likes not - I felt I must needs tell of my great delight in its literary aspects great and minor. While perhaps it ain't proper to tell it so, I can't help it but declare that I was beaten all of a heap, sure and true. Now, whether it be needed for me to relay, or whether it be not, I shall yet say that I listened it, rather than truly read. I heard it told out whilst I painted the length of several days through, being myself of an artistic nature and profitably employed at picture-making, and the days were fleeting, they were, and charmingly spent by way of its hearing. I shall tell you, too, that my august spouse may also be found to be reading the same quite remarkable work, though it will best be said that she will have list'd it told, as well, when she be finished, as I have related it were for me. Now, at present times, she shan't be found to be so far advanced in the telling as I be, having finished and been done with it, myself, as I have stated.
Therefore, her most ardent, though still incomplete, enjoyment of Master Dickens' charming and affecting novel, has made and yet makes a necessity upon myself of the firmest and most severely attentive discretion, if you will have understood, for her fear of having got even the frailest intimating of any unread - or unheard, as it would be - turning of the tale or vivid draught of its finely-made characters or any careless pondering on the virtues of those same said characters, will have been sufficient to bring her to such a point of distress and seething agitation, that I weren't never to make a hazard of it. As my good and most charitable wife finds herself more grossly encumbered by worldly responsibilities and attachments than do I, and therefore have not the opportunity to enjoy reading or any sort of tale-telling at any regular appointment of leisure, I trust that much length of time will have passed away until we might make full conversings of the attested merits of this estimable work. That shall be a good and happy day, in all certainty, for our spousal communications do rightly veer toward jolly connubiality and artistical sympathy. Until the awaited day, though, I shall keep mine own counsel, shall hold all anecdotals suppressed, and shall not be liberal in the least part with my enthusiasms for Master Dickens' very fine novelistic production, and otherwise do my utmost best to keep off her wrath and hysterics. For I do love and have a full and hearty respect for my wife and also fear her.
So I have said and do mean it most sincerely.
S. M. O. Pennington Foster, Esq.
Happy 97th Birthday Ilona Royce Smithkin
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