′Shan′t I see mama?′
′Yes,′ said Peggotty. ′Morning.′
Then Peggotty fitted her mouth close to the keyhole, and delivered these words through it with as much feeling and earnestness as a keyhole has ever been the medium of communicating, I will venture to assert: shooting in each broken little sentence in a convulsive little burst of its own.
′Davy, dear. If I ain′t been azackly as intimate with you. Lately, as I used to be. It ain′t because I don′t love you. Just as well and more, my pretty poppet. It′s because I thought it better for you. And for someone else besides. Davy, my darling, are you listening? Can you hear?′
′Ye-ye-ye-yes, Peggotty!′ I sobbed.
′My own!′ said Peggotty, with infinite compassion. ′What I want to say, is. That you must never forget me. For I′ll never forget you. And I′ll take as much care of your mama, Davy. As ever I took of you. And I won′t leave her. The day may come when she′ll be glad to lay her poor head. On her stupid, cross old Peggotty′s arm again. And I′ll write to you, my dear. Though I ain′t no scholar. And I′ll - I′ll -′ Peggotty fell to kissing the keyhole, as she couldn′t kiss me.
′Thank you, dear Peggotty!′ said I. ′Oh, thank you! Thank you! Will you promise me one thing, Peggotty? Will you write and tell Mr. Peggotty and little Em′ly, and Mrs. Gummidge and Ham, that I am not so bad as they might suppose, and that I sent ′em all my love - especially to little Em′ly? Will you, if you please, Peggotty?′
The kind soul promised, and we both of us kissed the keyhole with the greatest affection - I patted it with my hand, I recollect, as if it had been her honest face - and parted. From that night there grew up in my breast a feeling for Peggotty which I cannot very well define. She did not replace my mother; no one could do that; but she came into a vacancy in my heart, which closed upon her, and I felt towards her something I have never felt for any other human being. It was a sort of comical affection, too; and yet if she had died, I cannot think what I should have done, or how I should have acted out the tragedy it would have been to me.
In the morning Miss Murdstone appeared as usual, and told me I was going to school; which was not altogether such news to me as she supposed. She also informed me that when I was dressed, I was to come downstairs into the parlour, and have my breakfast. There, I found my mother, very pale and with red eyes: into whose arms I ran, and begged her pardon from my suffering soul.
′Oh, Davy!′ she said. ′That you could hurt anyone I love! Try to be better, pray to be better! I forgive you; but I am so grieved, Davy, that you should have such bad passions in your heart.′
They had persuaded her that I was a wicked fellow, and she was more sorry for that than for my going away. I felt it sorely. I tried to eat my parting breakfast, but my tears dropped upon my bread- and-butter, and trickled into my tea. I saw my mother look at me sometimes, and then glance at the watchful Miss Murdstone, and than look down, or look away.
′Master Copperfield′s box there!′ said Miss Murdstone, when wheels were heard at the gate.
I looked for Peggotty, but it was not she; neither she nor Mr. Murdstone appeared. My former acquaintance, the carrier, was at the door. The box was taken out to his cart, and lifted in.
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