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David Copperfield. Charles Dickens

This made such a very miserable piece of business of it, that I rolled myself up in a corner of the counterpane, and cried myself to sleep.

I was awoke by somebody saying ′Here he is!′ and uncovering my hot head. My mother and Peggotty had come to look for me, and it was one of them who had done it.

′Davy,′ said my mother. ′What′s the matter?′

I thought it was very strange that she should ask me, and answered, ′Nothing.′ I turned over on my face, I recollect, to hide my trembling lip, which answered her with greater truth. ′Davy,′ said my mother. ′Davy, my child!′

I dare say no words she could have uttered would have affected me so much, then, as her calling me her child. I hid my tears in the bedclothes, and pressed her from me with my hand, when she would have raised me up.

′This is your doing, Peggotty, you cruel thing!′ said my mother. ′I have no doubt at all about it. How can you reconcile it to your conscience, I wonder, to prejudice my own boy against me, or against anybody who is dear to me? What do you mean by it, Peggotty?′

Poor Peggotty lifted up her hands and eyes, and only answered, in a sort of paraphrase of the grace I usually repeated after dinner, ′Lord forgive you, Mrs. Copperfield, and for what you have said this minute, may you never be truly sorry!′

′It′s enough to distract me,′ cried my mother. ′In my honeymoon, too, when my most inveterate enemy might relent, one would think, and not envy me a little peace of mind and happiness. Davy, you naughty boy! Peggotty, you savage creature! Oh, dear me!′ cried my mother, turning from one of us to the other, in her pettish wilful manner, ′what a troublesome world this is, when one has the most right to expect it to be as agreeable as possible!′

I felt the touch of a hand that I knew was neither hers nor Peggotty′s, and slipped to my feet at the bed-side. It was Mr. Murdstone′s hand, and he kept it on my arm as he said:

′What′s this? Clara, my love, have you forgotten? - Firmness, my dear!′

′I am very sorry, Edward,′ said my mother. ′I meant to be very good, but I am so uncomfortable.′

′Indeed!′ he answered. ′That′s a bad hearing, so soon, Clara.′

′I say it′s very hard I should be made so now,′ returned my mother, pouting; ′and it is - very hard - isn′t it?′

He drew her to him, whispered in her ear, and kissed her. I knew as well, when I saw my mother′s head lean down upon his shoulder, and her arm touch his neck - I knew as well that he could mould her pliant nature into any form he chose, as I know, now, that he did it.

′Go you below, my love,′ said Mr. Murdstone. ′David and I will come down, together. My friend,′ turning a darkening face on Peggotty, when he had watched my mother out, and dismissed her with a nod and a smile; ′do you know your mistress′s name?′

′She has been my mistress a long time, sir,′ answered Peggotty, ′I ought to know it.′ ′That′s true,′ he answered. ′But I thought I heard you, as I came upstairs, address her by a name that is not hers. She has taken mine, you know. Will you remember that?′

Peggotty, with some uneasy glances at me, curtseyed herself out of the room without replying; seeing, I suppose, that she was expected to go, and had no excuse for remaining. When we two were left alone, he shut the door, and sitting on a chair, and holding me standing before him, looked steadily into my eyes. I felt my own attracted, no less steadily, to his.

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