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David Copperfield
by [?]

“Yon’s our house, Mas’r Davy!”

I looked over the wilderness, and away at the sea, and away at the river, but no house could I make out. There was a black barge not far off, high and dry on the ground, with an iron funnel for a chimney, and smoking very cosily.

“That’s not it?” said I. “That ship-looking thing?”

“That’s it, Mas’r Davy,” returned Ham.

If it had been Aladdin’s palace, I could not have been more charmed with the romantic idea of living in it. There was a delightful door cut in the side, and it was roofed in, and there were little windows in it. It was beautifully clean inside and as tidy as possible. There was a table, and a Dutch clock, and a chest of drawers. On the walls were some coloured pictures of Biblical subjects. Abraham in red, going to sacrifice Isaac in blue, and Daniel in yellow, cast into a den of green lions, were most prominent. Also, there was a mantel-shelf, and some lockers and boxes which served for seats. Then Peggotty showed me the completest little bedroom ever seen, in the stern of the vessel, with a tiny bed, a little looking-glass framed in oyster-shells, and a nosegay of seaweed in a blue mug on the table. The walls were white-washed, and the patchwork counterpane made my eyes quite ache with its brightness.

When I took out my pocket-handkerchief, it smelt as if it had wrapped up a lobster. When I confided this to Peggotty, she told me that her brother dealt in lobsters, crabs, and crawfish, which accounted for the sea smells in the delightful house.

The inmates of the boat were its master, Mr. Peggotty and his orphan nephew and niece, Ham and little Em’ly, which latter was a beautiful little girl, who wore a necklace of blue beads. There was also Mrs. Gummidge, an old lady who sat continually by the fire and knitted, and who was the widow of a former partner of Mr. Peggotty’s.

With little Em’ly I at once fell violently in love, and we used to walk upon the beach in a loving manner, hours and hours. I am sure I loved that baby quite as truly and with more purity than can enter into the best love of a later time of life; and when the time came for going home, our agony of mind at parting was intense.

During my visit I had been completely absorbed in my new companions, but no sooner were we turned homeward than my heart began to throb at thought of again seeing my mother,–my comforter and friend. To my surprise, when we reached the dear old Rookery, not my mother, but a strange servant opened the door.

“Why, Peggotty,” I said, ruefully, “isn’t she come home?”

“Yes, yes, Master Davy,” said Peggotty, “She’s come home. Wait a bit, Master Davy, and I’ll–I’ll tell you something.”

Intensely agitated, Peggotty led me into the kitchen and closed the door, then, as she untied her bonnet with a shaking hand, she said breathlessly; “Master Davy, what do you think? You have got a Pa!”

I trembled and turned white, and thought of my father’s grave in the churchyard, which I knew so well.

“A new one,” said Peggotty.

“A new one?” I repeated.

Peggotty gasped, as if she were swallowing something very hard, and, putting out her hand, said,

“Come and see him.”

“I don’t want to see him.”

“And your mama,” said Peggotty.

I ceased to draw back, and we went straight to the best parlour. On one side of the fire, sat my mother; on the other, Mr. Murdstone. My mother dropped her work, and arose hurriedly, but timidly, I thought.

“Now, Clara, my dear,” said Mr. Murdstone. “Recollect! control yourself! Davy boy, how do you do?”

I gave him my hand. Then I went over to my mother. She kissed me, patted me gently on the shoulder, and sat down again to her work, while Mr. Murdstone watched us both. I turned to look out of the window, and as soon as I could, I crept up-stairs. My old dear bedroom was changed, and I was to sleep a long way off, and there on my bed, thinking miserable thoughts, I cried myself to sleep. I was awakened by somebody saying, “Here he is!” and there beside me were my mother and Peggotty, asking what was the matter.