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David Copperfield
by [?]

The first things that assume shape and form in the recollections of my childhood are my mother, with her pretty hair and youthful shape, and Peggotty, our faithful serving maid, with no shape at all, and eyes so dark that they seemed to darken their whole neighbourhood in her face, and cheeks and arms so hard and red that I wonder the birds didn’t peck her in preference to apples.

What else do I remember?–let me see. There comes to me a vision of our home, Blunderstone Rookery, with its ground-floor kitchen, and long passage leading from it to the front door. A dark store-room opens out of the kitchen, and in it there is the smell of soap, pickles, pepper, candles, and coffee, all at one whiff. Then there are the two parlours;–the one in which we sit of an evening, my mother and I and Peggotty,–for Peggotty is quite our companion,–and the best parlour where we sit on a Sunday; grandly, but not so comfortably, while my mother reads the old familiar Bible stories to us.

And now I see the outside of our house, with the latticed bedroom windows, and the ragged old rooks’ nests dangling in the elm-trees. I see the garden–a very preserve of butterflies, where the pigeon house and dog-kennel are, and the fruit trees. And I see again my mother winding her bright curls around her fingers, and nobody is as proud of her beauty as I am.

One night when Peggotty and I had been sitting cosily by the parlour fire, my mother came home from spending the evening at a neighbour’s, and with her was a gentleman with beautiful black hair and whiskers. As my mother stooped to kiss me, the gentleman said I was a more highly privileged little fellow than a monarch.

“What does that mean?” I asked him. He smiled and patted me on the head in reply, but somehow I didn’t like him, and I shrank away, jealous that his hand should touch my mother’s in touching me–although my mother’s gentle chiding made me ashamed of the involuntary motion, and of my dislike for this new friend of hers, but from chance words which I heard Peggotty utter, I knew that she too felt as I did.

From that time the gentleman with black whiskers, Mr. Murdstone by name, was at our house constantly, and gradually I became used to seeing him, but I liked him no better than at first. The sight of him filled me with a fear that something was going to happen, and time proved that I was right in my apprehension. One night when my mother, as usual, was out, Peggotty asked me,

“Master Davy, how should you like to go along with me and spend a fortnight at my brother’s at Yarmouth? Wouldn’t that be a treat?”

“Is your brother an agreeable man, Peggotty?” I inquired, provisionally.

“Oh what an agreeable man he is!” cried Peggotty, holding up her hands. “Then there’s the sea; and the boats; and the fishermen; and the beach; and ‘Am to play with—-“

Peggotty meant her nephew Ham, but she spoke of him as a morsel of English Grammar.

I was flushed with her summary of delights, and replied that it would indeed be a treat, but what would my mother say?

But Peggotty was sure that I would be allowed to go, and so it proved. My mother did not seem nearly so much surprised as I expected, and arranged at once for my visit.

The day soon came for our going. I was in a fever of expectation, and half afraid that an earthquake might stop the expedition, but soon after breakfast we set off, in a carrier’s cart, and the carrier’s lazy horse shuffled along, carrying us towards Yarmouth. We had a fine basket of refreshments, and we ate a good deal, and slept a good deal, and finally arrived in Yarmouth, where at the public-house we found Ham waiting for us. He was a huge, strong fellow of six feet, with a simpering boy’s face and curly light hair, and he insisted on carrying me on his back, as well as a small box of ours under his arm. We turned down lanes, and went past gas-works, boat-builders’ yards, and riggers’ lofts, and presently Ham said,