David Copperfield – Day 164 of 331

I parted from them at the wicket-gate, where visionary Strap had rested with Roderick Random’s knapsack in the days of yore; and, instead of going straight back, walked a little distance on the road to Lowestoft. Then I turned, and walked back towards Yarmouth. I stayed to dine at a decent alehouse, some mile or two from the Ferry I have mentioned before; and thus the day wore away, and it was evening when I reached it. Rain was falling heavily by that time, and it was a wild night; but there was a moon behind the clouds, and it was not dark.

I was soon within sight of Mr. Peggotty’s house, and of the light within it shining through the window. A little floundering across the sand, which was heavy, brought me to the door, and I went in.

It looked very comfortable indeed. Mr. Peggotty had smoked his evening pipe and there were preparations for some supper by and by. The fire was bright, the ashes were thrown up, the locker was ready for little Emily in her old place. In her own old place sat Peggotty, once more, looking (but for her dress) as if she had never left it. She had fallen back, already, on the society of the work-box with St. Paul’s upon the lid, the yard-measure in the cottage, and the bit of wax-candle; and there they all were, just as if they had never been disturbed. Mrs. Gummidge appeared to be fretting a little, in her old corner; and consequently looked quite natural, too.

“You’re first of the lot, Mas’r Davy!” said Mr. Peggotty with a happy face. “Doen’t keep in that coat, sir, if it’s wet.”

“Thank you, Mr. Peggotty,” said I, giving him my outer coat to hang up. “It’s quite dry.”

“So ’yis!” said Mr. Peggotty, feeling my shoulders. “As a chip! Sit ye down, sir. It ain’t o’ no use saying welcome to you, but you’re welcome, kind and hearty.”

“Thank you, Mr. Peggotty, I am sure of that. Well, Peggotty!” said I, giving her a kiss. “And how are you, old woman?”

“Ha, ha!” laughed Mr. Peggotty, sitting down beside us, and rubbing his hands in his sense of relief from recent trouble, and in the genuine heartiness of his nature; “there’s not a woman in the wureld, sir—as I tell her—that need to feel more easy in her mind than her! She done her dooty by the departed, and the departed know’d it; and the departed done what was right by her, as she done what was right by the departed;—and—and—and it’s all right!”

Mrs. Gummidge groaned.

“Cheer up, my pritty mawther!” said Mr. Peggotty. (But he shook his head aside at us, evidently sensible of the tendency of the late occurrences to recall the memory of the old one.) “Doen’t be down! Cheer up, for your own self, on’y a little bit, and see if a good deal more doen’t come nat’ral!”

“Not to me, Dan’l,” returned Mrs. Gummidge. “Nothink’s nat’ral to me but to be lone and lorn.”

“No, no,” said Mr. Peggotty, soothing her sorrows.

“Yes, yes, Dan’l!” said Mrs. Gummidge. “I ain’t a person to live with them as has had money left. Thinks go too contrary with me. I had better be a riddance.”

“Why, how should I ever spend it without you?” said Mr. Peggotty, with an air of serious remonstrance. “What are you a talking on? Doen’t I want you more now, than ever I did?”

“I know’d I was never wanted before!” cried Mrs. Gummidge, with a pitiable whimper, “and now I’m told so! How could I expect to be wanted, being so lone and lorn, and so contrary!”

Mr. Peggotty seemed very much shocked at himself for having made a speech capable of this unfeeling construction, but was prevented from replying, by Peggotty’s pulling his sleeve, and shaking her head. After looking at Mrs. Gummidge for some moments, in sore distress of mind, he glanced at the Dutch clock, rose, snuffed the candle, and put it in the window.

“Theer!”said Mr. Peggotty, cheerily. “Theer we are, Missis Gummidge!” Mrs. Gummidge slightly groaned. “Lighted up, accordin” to custom! You’re a wonderin’ what that’s fur, sir! Well, it’s fur our little Em’ly. You see, the path ain’t over light or cheerful arter dark; and when I’m here at the hour as she’s a comin’ home, I puts the light in the winder. That, you see,” said Mr. Peggotty, bending over me with great glee, “meets two objects. She says, says Em’ly, ‘Theer’s home!’ she says. And likewise, says Em’ly, ‘My uncle’s theer!’ Fur if I ain’t theer, I never have no light showed.”

“You’re a baby!” said Peggotty; very fond of him for it, if she thought so.

“Well,” returned Mr. Peggotty, standing with his legs pretty wide apart, and rubbing his hands up and down them in his comfortable satisfaction, as he looked alternately at us and at the fire. “I doen’t know but I am. Not, you see, to look at.”

“Not azackly,” observed Peggotty.

“No,” laughed Mr. Peggotty, “not to look at, but to—to consider on, you know. I doen’t care, bless you! Now I tell you. When I go a looking and looking about that theer pritty house of our Em’ly’s, I’m—I’m Gormed,” said Mr. Peggotty, with sudden emphasis — “theer! I can’t say more—if I doen’t feel as if the littlest things was her, a’most. I takes ’em up and I put ’em down, and I touches of ’em as delicate as if they was our Em’ly. So ’yis with her little bonnets and that. I couldn’t see one on ’em rough used a purpose—not fur the whole wureld. There’s a babby fur you, in the form of a great Sea Porkypine!” said Mr. Peggotty, relieving his earnestness with a roar of laughter.

Peggotty and I both laughed, but not so loud.

“It’s my opinion, you see,” said Mr. Peggotty, with a delighted face, after some further rubbing of his legs, “as this is along of my havin’ played with her so much, and made believe as we was Turks, and French, and sharks, and every wariety of forinners — bless you, yes; and lions and whales, and I doen’t know what all! — when she warn’t no higher than my knee. I’ve got into the way on it, you know. Why, this here candle, now!” said Mr. Peggotty, gleefully holding out his hand towards it, “I know wery well that arter she’s married and gone, I shall put that candle theer, just the same as now. I know wery well that when I’m here o’ nights (and where else should I live, bless your arts, whatever fortun’ I come into!) and she ain’t here or I ain’t theer, I shall put the candle in the winder, and sit afore the fire, pretending I’m expecting of her, like I’m a doing now. There’s a babby for you,” said Mr. Peggotty, with another roar, “in the form of a Sea Porkypine! Why, at the present minute, when I see the candle sparkle up, I says to myself, ‘She’s a looking at it! Em’ly’s a coming!’ There’s a babby for you, in the form of a Sea Porkypine! Right for all that,” said Mr. Peggotty, stopping in his roar, and smiting his hands together; “fur here she is!”

It was only Ham. The night should have turned more wet since I came in, for he had a large sou’wester hat on, slouched over his face.

“Wheer’s Em’ly?” said Mr. Peggotty.

Ham made a motion with his head, as if she were outside. Mr. Peggotty took the light from the window, trimmed it, put it on the table, and was busily stirring the fire, when Ham, who had not moved, said:

Comments

  1. ScottS-M Identicon Icon

    ScottS-M wrote:

    Going to have to read ahead a bit. Can’t leave it hanging at that.

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