′Can′t he speak?′
′Be calm, my dear ma′am,′ said Mr. Chillip, in his softest accents.
′There is no longer any occasion for uneasiness, ma′am. Be calm.′
It has since been considered almost a miracle that my aunt didn′t shake him, and shake what he had to say, out of him. She only shook her own head at him, but in a way that made him quail.
′Well, ma′am,′ resumed Mr. Chillip, as soon as he had courage, ′I am happy to congratulate you. All is now over, ma′am, and well over.′
During the five minutes or so that Mr. Chillip devoted to the delivery of this oration, my aunt eyed him narrowly.
′How is she?′ said my aunt, folding her arms with her bonnet still tied on one of them.
′Well, ma′am, she will soon be quite comfortable, I hope,′ returned Mr. Chillip. ′Quite as comfortable as we can expect a young mother to be, under these melancholy domestic circumstances. There cannot be any objection to your seeing her presently, ma′am. It may do her good.′
′And SHE. How is SHE?′ said my aunt, sharply.
Mr. Chillip laid his head a little more on one side, and looked at my aunt like an amiable bird.
′The baby,′ said my aunt. ′How is she?′
′Ma′am,′ returned Mr. Chillip, ′I apprehended you had known. It′s a boy.′
My aunt said never a word, but took her bonnet by the strings, in the manner of a sling, aimed a blow at Mr. Chillip′s head with it, put it on bent, walked out, and never came back. She vanished like a discontented fairy; or like one of those supernatural beings, whom it was popularly supposed I was entitled to see; and never came back any more.
No. I lay in my basket, and my mother lay in her bed; but Betsey Trotwood Copperfield was for ever in the land of dreams and shadows, the tremendous region whence I had so lately travelled; and the light upon the window of our room shone out upon the earthly bourne of all such travellers, and the mound above the ashes and the dust that once was he, without whom I had never been.
CHAPTER 2 I OBSERVE
The first objects that assume a distinct presence before me, as I look far back, into the blank of my infancy, are my mother with her pretty hair and youthful shape, and Peggotty with no shape at all, and eyes so dark that they seemed to darken their whole neighbourhood in her face, and cheeks and arms so hard and red that I wondered the birds didn′t peck her in preference to apples.
I believe I can remember these two at a little distance apart, dwarfed to my sight by stooping down or kneeling on the floor, and I going unsteadily from the one to the other. I have an impression on my mind which I cannot distinguish from actual remembrance, of the touch of Peggotty′s forefinger as she used to hold it out to me, and of its being roughened by needlework, like a pocket nutmeg-grater.
This may be fancy, though I think the memory of most of us can go farther back into such times than many of us suppose; just as I believe the power of observation in numbers of very young children to be quite wonderful for its closeness and accuracy.
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