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“It would be a very good match for you; wouldn't

; it?” said my mother.

“Oh! I don't know,” said Peggotty. “Don't ask me. I wouldn't have him if he was made of gold. Nor I wouldn't have anybody.”

“Then, why don't you tell him so, you ridiculous thing ?” said my mother.

“Tell him so," retorted Peggotty, looking out of her apron. “He has never said a word to me about it. He knows better. If he was to make so bold as 10 say a word to me, I should slap his face.

Her own was as red as ever I saw it, or any other face, I think; but she only covered it again, for a few moments at a time, when she was taken with a violent fit of laughter; and after two or three of those 15 attacks, went on with her dinner.

I remarked that my mother, though she smiled when Peggotty looked at her, became more serious and thoughtful. I had seen at first that she was changed. Her face was very pretty still, but it looked careworn 20 and too delicate; and her hand was so thin and white that it seemed to me to be almost transparent. But the change to which I now refer was superadded to this: it was in her manner, which became anxious and fluttered. At last she said, putting out her hand, 25 and laying it affectionately on the hand of her old servant,

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“Peggotty, dear, you are not going to be married ?

“Me, ma'am?” returned Peggotty, staring. “Lord bless you, no !”

“Not just yet?” said my mother, tenderly.
“Never !” cried Peggotty.
My mother took her hand, and said :

“Don't leave me, Peggotty. Stay with me. It will not be for long, perhaps. What should I ever do without you?”

“Me leave you, my precious!” cried Peggotty. “Not for all the world and his wife. Why, what's put that in your silly little head?” — For Peggotty

” had been used of old to talk to my mother sometimes, like a child.

But my mother made no answer except to thank her, and Peggotty went running on in her own fashion.

“Me leave you? I think I see myself. Peggotty go away from you? I should like to catch her at it! No, no, no,” said Peggotty, shaking her head, and 20 folding her arms; “not she, my dear. I'll stay with you till I am a cross cranky old woman. And when I'm too deaf, and too lame, and too blind, and too mumbly for want of teeth, to be of any use at all, even

to be found fault with, then I shall go to my Davy, 25 and ask him to take me in.”

“And, Peggotty,” said I, “I shall be glad to see you, and I'll make you as welcome as a queen.”'

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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

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