David Copperfield – Day 273 of 331

I could not repress a cry of joy.

“Mas’r Davy!” said he, gripping my hand in that strong hand of his, “it was you as first made mention of her to me. I thankee, sir! She was arnest. She had know’d of her bitter knowledge wheer to watch and what to do. She had done it. And the Lord was above all! She come, white and hurried, upon Em’ly in her sleep. She says to her, ‘Rise up from worse than death, and come with me!’ Them belonging to the house would have stopped her, but they might as soon have stopped the sea. ‘Stand away from me,’ she says, ‘I am a ghost that calls her from beside her open grave!’ She told Em’ly she had seen me, and know’d I loved her, and forgive her. She wrapped her, hasty, in her clothes. She took her, faint and trembling, on her arm. She heeded no more what they said, than if she had had no ears. She walked among ’em with my child, minding only her; and brought her safe out, in the dead of the night, from that black pit of ruin!

“She attended on Em’ly,” said Mr. Peggotty, who had released my hand, and put his own hand on his heaving chest; “she attended to my Em’ly, lying wearied out, and wandering betwixt whiles, till late next day. Then she went in search of me; then in search of you, Mas’r Davy. She didn’t tell Em’ly what she come out fur, lest her ’art should fail, and she should think of hiding of herself. How the cruel lady know’d of her being theer, I can’t say. Whether him as I have spoke so much of, chanced to see ’em going theer, or whether (which is most like, to my thinking) he had heerd it from the woman, I doen’t greatly ask myself. My niece is found.

“All night long,” said Mr. Peggotty, “we have been together, Em’ly and me. ’Tis little (considering the time) as she has said, in wureds, through them broken-hearted tears; ’yis less as I have seen of her dear face, as grow’d into a woman’s at my hearth. But, all night long, her arms has been about my neck; and her head has laid heer; and we knows full well, as we can put our trust in one another, ever more.”

He ceased to speak, and his hand upon the table rested there in perfect repose, with a resolution in it that might have conquered lions.

“It was a gleam of light upon me, Trot,” said my aunt, drying her eyes, “when I formed the resolution of being godmother to your sister Betsey Trotwood, who disappointed me; but, next to that, hardly anything would have given me greater pleasure, than to be godmother to that good young creature’s baby!”

Mr. Peggotty nodded his understanding of my aunt’s feelings, but could not trust himself with any verbal reference to the subject of her commendation. We all remained silent, and occupied with our own reflections (my aunt drying her eyes, and now sobbing convulsively, and now laughing and calling herself a fool); until I spoke.

“You have quite made up your mind,” said I to Mr. Peggotty, “as to the future, good friend? I need scarcely ask you.”

“Quite, Mas’r Davy,” he returned; “and told Em’ly. Theer’s mighty countries, fur from heer. Our future life lays over the sea.”

“They will emigrate together, aunt,” said I.

“Yes!” said Mr. Peggotty, with a hopeful smile. “No one can’t reproach my darling in Australia. We will begin a new life over theer!”

I asked him if he yet proposed to himself any time for going away.

“I was down at the Docks early this morning, sir,” he returned, “to get information concerning of them ships. In about six weeks or two months from now, there’ll be one sailing—I see her this morning—went aboard—and we shall take our passage in her.”

“Quite alone?” I asked.

“Aye, Mas’r Davy!” he returned. “My sister, you see, she’s that fond of you and yourn, and that accustomed to think on’y of her own country, that it wouldn’t be hardly fair to let her go. Besides which, theer’s one she has in charge, Mas’r Davy, as doen’t ought to be forgot.”

“Poor Ham!” said I.

“My good sister takes care of his house, you see, ma’am, and he takes kindly to her,” Mr. Peggotty explained for my aunt’s better information. “He’ll set and talk to her, with a calm spirit, wen it’s like he couldn’t bring himself to open his lips to another. Poor fellow!” said Mr. Peggotty, shaking his head, “theer’s not so much left him, that he could spare the little as he has!”

“And Mrs. Gummidge?” said I.

“Well, I’ve had a mort of consideration, I do tell you,” returned Mr. Peggotty, with a perplexed look which gradually cleared as he went on, “concerning of Missis Gummidge. You see, wen Missis Gummidge falls a-thinking of the old ’un, she an’t what you may call good company. Betwixt you and me, Mas’r Davy—and you, ma’am — wen Mrs. Gummidge takes to wimicking,”—our old country word for crying,—“she’s liable to be considered to be, by them as didn’t know the old ’un, peevish-like. Now I did know the old ’un,” said Mr. Peggotty, “and I know’d his merits, so I unnerstan’ her; but ’tan’t entirely so, you see, with others—nat’rally can’t be!”

My aunt and I both acquiesced.

“Wheerby,” said Mr. Peggotty, “my sister might—I doen’t say she would, but might—find Missis Gummidge give her a leetle trouble now-and-again. Theerfur ’tan’t my intentions to moor Missis Gummidge ’long with them, but to find a Beein’ fur her wheer she can fisherate for herself.” (A Beein’ signifies, in that dialect, a home, and to fisherate is to provide.) “Fur which purpose,” said Mr. Peggotty, “I means to make her a ’lowance afore I go, as’ll leave her pretty comfort’ble. She’s the faithfullest of creeturs. ’Tan’t to be expected, of course, at her time of life, and being lone and lorn, as the good old Mawther is to be knocked about aboardship, and in the woods and wilds of a new and fur-away country. So that’s what I’m a-going to do with her.”

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