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"Bless your dear heart !" cried Peggotty. “I know you will!” And she kissed me beforehand in grateful acknowledgment of my hospitality. After that, she covered her head up with her apron again, and had another laugh about Mr. Barkis. After that, she took 5 the baby out of its little cradle, and nursed it. After that, she cleared the dinner table; after that, came in with another cap on, and her work box and the yard measure and the bit of wax candle, all just the same as ever.
We sat round the fire, and talked delightfully. I told them what a hard master Mr. Creakle was, and they pitied me very much. I told them what a fine fellow Steerforth was, and what a patron of mine, and Peggotty said she would walk a score of miles to see 15 him. I took the little baby in my arms when it was awake, and nursed it lovingly. When it was asleep again, I crept close to my mother's side, according to my old custom, broken now a long time, and sat with my arms embracing her waist, and my little red 20 cheek on her shoulder, and once more felt her beautiful hair drooping over me — like an angel's wing as I used to think, I recollect — and was very happy indeed.
IV. PEGGOTTY'S WEDDING
David's mother has died and he is visiting with Mr. Peggotty, the brother of his nurse. Mr. Peggotty is a fisherman, and his house is not a house at all but an old boat cast ashore, high and dry on the Yarmouth flats. It has been roofed in, supplied with a door, windows, and a stove pipe for a chimney. Mr. Peggotty has never married but he has taken under his roof (or, under his deck) his nephew Ham, a niece, Little Emily, and Mrs. Gummidge, the very mournful widow of a former partner.
On the very first evening after our arrival, Mr. Barkis appeared in an exceedingly vacant and awkward condition, and with a bundle of oranges tied up in a handkerchief. As he made no allusion of any kind to 5 this property, he was supposed to have left it behind him by accident when he went away; until Ham, running after him to restore it, came back with the information that it was intended for Peggotty. After
that occasion he appeared every evening at exactly 10 the same hour, and always with a little bundle, to
which he never alluded, and which he regularly put behind the door, and left there. These offerings of affection were of a most various and eccentric de
scription. Among them I remember a double set of 15 pigs' trotters, a huge pincushion, half a bushel or so
of apples, a pair of jet earrings, some Spanish onions, a box of dominoes, a canary bird and cage, and a leg of pickled pork.
Mr. Barkis's wooing, as I remember it, was altogether of a peculiar kind. He very seldom said anything; but would sit by the fire in much the same attitude as he sat in his cart, and stare heavily at Peggotty, who was opposite. One night, being, as I suppose, 5 inspired by love, he made a dart at the bit of wax candle she kept for her thread, and put it in his waistcoat pocket and carried it off. After that, his great delight was to produce it when it was wanted, sticking to the lining of his pocket, in a partially melted state, 10 and pocket it again when it was done with. He seemed to enjoy himself very much, and not to feel at all called upon to talk. Even when he took Peggotty out for a walk on the flats, he had no uneasiness on that head, I believe; contenting himself with now and then ask-15 ing her if she was pretty comfortable; and I remember that sometimes, after he was gone, Peggotty would throw her apron over her face, and laugh for half-anhour.
At length, when the term of my visit was nearly 20 expired, it was given out that Peggotty and Mr. Barkis were going to make a day's holiday together, and that little Em’ly and I were to accompany them. I had but a broken sleep the night before, in anticipation of the pleasure of a whole day with Em'ly. We 25 were all astir betimes in the morning; and while we were yet at breakfast, Mr. Barkis appeared in the
distance, driving a chaise cart towards the object of his affections.
Peggotty was dressed as usual, in her neat and quiet mourning; but Mr. Barkis bloomed in a new blue 5 coat, of which the tailor had given him such good measure that the cuffs would have rendered gloves unnecessary in the coldest weather, while the collar was so high that it pushed his hair up on end on the top of
his head. His bright buttons, too, were of the largest 10 size. Rendered complete by drab pantaloons, and a
buff waistcoat, I thought Mr. Barkis a phenomenon of respectability.
When we were all in a bustle outside the door, I found that Mr. Peggotty was prepared with an old 15 shoe, which was to be thrown after us for luck, and which he offered to Mrs. Gummidge for that purpose.
“No. It had better be done by somebody else, Dan'l,” said Mrs. Gummidge. “I'm a lone lorn creetur' myself, and everythink that reminds me of cree20 turs that ain't lone and lorn, goes contrairy with me.”
But here Peggotty, who had been going about from one to another in a hurried way, kissing everybody, called out from the cart in which we all were by this
time (Em’ly and I on two little chairs, side by side), 25 that Mrs. Gummidge must do it. So Mrs. Gummidge
did it; and, I am sorry to relate, cast a damp upon the festive character of our departure, by immediately
bursting into tears, and sinking subdued into the arms of Ham, with the declaration that she knowed she was a burden, and had better be carried to the House at once. Which I really thought was a sensible idea, that Ham might have acted on.
Away we went, however, on our holiday excursion; and the first thing we did was to stop at a church, where Mr. Barkis tied the horse to some rails, and went in with Peggotty, leaving little Em'ly and me alone in the chaise. I took that occasion to inform 10 her, that I never could love another, and that I was prepared to shed the blood of anybody who should aspire to her affections.
How merry little Em'ly made herself about it! With what a demure assumption of being immensely older 15 and wiser than I, the fairy little woman said I was "a silly boy”; and then laughed so charmingly that I forgot the pain of being called by that disparaging name, in the pleasure of looking at her.
Mr. Barkis and Peggotty were a good while in the 20 church, but came out at last, and then we drove away into the country. As we were going along, Mr. Barkis turned to me, and said, with a wink, — by-the-by, I should hardly have thought, before, that he could wink:
“What name was it as I wrote up in the cart?” “Clara Peggotty," I answered.