′You′ve come from The Willing Mind, Dan′l?′
′Why yes, I′ve took a short spell at The Willing Mind tonight,′ said Mr. Peggotty.
′I′m sorry I should drive you there,′ said Mrs. Gummidge.
′Drive! I don′t want no driving,′ returned Mr. Peggotty with an honest laugh. ′I only go too ready.′
′Very ready,′ said Mrs. Gummidge, shaking her head, and wiping her eyes. ′Yes, yes, very ready. I am sorry it should be along of me that you′re so ready.′
′Along o′ you! It an′t along o′ you!′ said Mr. Peggotty. ′Don′t ye believe a bit on it.′
′Yes, yes, it is,′ cried Mrs. Gummidge. ′I know what I am. I know that I am a lone lorn creetur′, and not only that everythink goes contrary with me, but that I go contrary with everybody. Yes, yes. I feel more than other people do, and I show it more. It′s my misfortun′.′
I really couldn′t help thinking, as I sat taking in all this, that the misfortune extended to some other members of that family besides Mrs. Gummidge. But Mr. Peggotty made no such retort, only answering with another entreaty to Mrs. Gummidge to cheer up.
′I an′t what I could wish myself to be,′ said Mrs. Gummidge. ′I am far from it. I know what I am. My troubles has made me contrary. I feel my troubles, and they make me contrary. I wish I didn′t feel ′em, but I do. I wish I could be hardened to ′em, but I an′t. I make the house uncomfortable. I don′t wonder at it. I′ve made your sister so all day, and Master Davy.′
Here I was suddenly melted, and roared out, ′No, you haven′t, Mrs. Gummidge,′ in great mental distress.
′It′s far from right that I should do it,′ said Mrs. Gummidge. ′It an′t a fit return. I had better go into the house and die. I am a lone lorn creetur′, and had much better not make myself contrary here. If thinks must go contrary with me, and I must go contrary myself, let me go contrary in my parish. Dan′l, I′d better go into the house, and die and be a riddance!′
Mrs. Gummidge retired with these words, and betook herself to bed. When she was gone, Mr. Peggotty, who had not exhibited a trace of any feeling but the profoundest sympathy, looked round upon us, and nodding his head with a lively expression of that sentiment still animating his face, said in a whisper:
′She′s been thinking of the old ′un!′
I did not quite understand what old one Mrs. Gummidge was supposed to have fixed her mind upon, until Peggotty, on seeing me to bed, explained that it was the late Mr. Gummidge; and that her brother always took that for a received truth on such occasions, and that it always had a moving effect upon him. Some time after he was in his hammock that night, I heard him myself repeat to Ham, ′Poor thing! She′s been thinking of the old ′un!′ And whenever Mrs. Gummidge was overcome in a similar manner during the remainder of our stay (which happened some few times), he always said the same thing in extenuation of the circumstance, and always with the tenderest commiseration.
So the fortnight slipped away, varied by nothing but the variation of the tide, which altered Mr. Peggotty′s times of going out and coming in, and altered Ham′s engagements also. When the latter was unemployed, he sometimes walked with us to show us the boats and ships, and once or twice he took us for a row.
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