But there were some differences between Em′ly′s orphanhood and mine, it appeared. She had lost her mother before her father; and where her father′s grave was no one knew, except that it was somewhere in the depths of the sea.
′Besides,′ said Em′ly, as she looked about for shells and pebbles, ′your father was a gentleman and your mother is a lady; and my father was a fisherman and my mother was a fisherman′s daughter, and my uncle Dan is a fisherman.′
′Dan is Mr. Peggotty, is he?′ said I.
′Uncle Dan - yonder,′ answered Em′ly, nodding at the boat-house.
′Yes. I mean him. He must be very good, I should think?′
′Good?′ said Em′ly. ′If I was ever to be a lady, I′d give him a sky-blue coat with diamond buttons, nankeen trousers, a red velvet waistcoat, a cocked hat, a large gold watch, a silver pipe, and a box of money.′
I said I had no doubt that Mr. Peggotty well deserved these treasures. I must acknowledge that I felt it difficult to picture him quite at his ease in the raiment proposed for him by his grateful little niece, and that I was particularly doubtful of the policy of the cocked hat; but I kept these sentiments to myself.
Little Em′ly had stopped and looked up at the sky in her enumeration of these articles, as if they were a glorious vision. We went on again, picking up shells and pebbles.
′You would like to be a lady?′ I said.
Emily looked at me, and laughed and nodded ′yes′.
′I should like it very much. We would all be gentlefolks together, then. Me, and uncle, and Ham, and Mrs. Gummidge. We wouldn′t mind then, when there comes stormy weather. - Not for our own sakes, I mean. We would for the poor fishermen′s, to be sure, and we′d help ′em with money when they come to any hurt.′ This seemed to me to be a very satisfactory and therefore not at all improbable picture. I expressed my pleasure in the contemplation of it, and little Em′ly was emboldened to say, shyly,
′Don′t you think you are afraid of the sea, now?′
It was quiet enough to reassure me, but I have no doubt if I had seen a moderately large wave come tumbling in, I should have taken to my heels, with an awful recollection of her drowned relations. However, I said ′No,′ and I added, ′You don′t seem to be either, though you say you are,′ - for she was walking much too near the brink of a sort of old jetty or wooden causeway we had strolled upon, and I was afraid of her falling over.
′I′m not afraid in this way,′ said little Em′ly. ′But I wake when it blows, and tremble to think of Uncle Dan and Ham and believe I hear ′em crying out for help. That′s why I should like so much to be a lady. But I′m not afraid in this way. Not a bit. Look here!′
She started from my side, and ran along a jagged timber which protruded from the place we stood upon, and overhung the deep water at some height, without the least defence. The incident is so impressed on my remembrance, that if I were a draughtsman I could draw its form here, I dare say, accurately as it was that day, and little Em′ly springing forward to her destruction (as it appeared to me), with a look that I have never forgotten, directed far out to sea.
The light, bold, fluttering little figure turned and came back safe to me, and I soon laughed at my fears, and at the cry I had uttered; fruitlessly in any case, for there was no one near.
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