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THE CHILDHOOD OF DAVID COPPERFIELD
I. DAVID IS SENT AWAY FROM HOME
David Copperfield is harshly treated by his step-father, Mr. Murdstone, and by Mr. Murdstone's sister. The little boy of eight is sent away to school and separated from his mother whom he dearly loves and his old nurse Peggotty. He has no other friends or relatives in the world except an aunt, Miss Trotwood, who has never forgiven him for being born a boy instead of a girl. In this selection he has just left home in charge of Mr. Barkis, who is to drive him to Yarmouth.
We might have gone about half-a-mile, and my pocket-handkerchief was quite wet through, when the carrier stopped short.
Looking out to ascertain what for, I saw, to my 5 amazement, Peggotty burst from a hedge and climb into the cart. She took me in both her arms, and squeezed me to her stays until the pressure on my nose was extremely painful, though I never thought of
that till afterwards when I found it very tender. 10 Not a single word did Peggotty speak. Releasing
one of her arms, she put it down in her pocket to the elbow, and brought out some paper bags of cakes which she crammed into my pockets, and a purse which she put into my hand, but not one word did
she say. After another and a final squeeze with both arms, she got down from the cart and ran away; and, my belief is, and has always been, without a solitary button on her gown. I picked up one, of several 5 that were rolling about, and treasured it as a keepsake for a long time.
The carrier looked at me, as if to inquire if she were coming back. I shook my head, and said I thought
not. “Then, come up," said the carrier to the lazy 10 horse; who came up accordingly.
Having by this time cried as much as I possibly could, I began to think it was of no use crying any
The carrier, seeing me in this resolution, proposed that my pocket-handkerchief should be spread 15 upon the horse's back to dry. I thanked him, and
assented; and particularly small it looked, under those circumstances.
I had now leisure to examine the purse. It was a stiff leather purse, with a snap, and had three bright 20 shillings in it, which Peggotty had evidently polished
up with whitening for my greater delight. But its most precious contents were two half-crowns folded together in a bit of paper on which was written, in my
mother's hand, “For Davy. With my love." I was 25 So overcome by this that I asked the carrier to be so
good as reach me my pocket-handkerchief again; but he said he thought I had better do without it;
and I thought I really had; so I wiped my eyes on my sleeve and stopped myself. For good, too; though, in consequence
my previous emotions, I was still occasionally seized with a stormy sob. After we had jogged on for some little time, I 5 asked the carrier if he was going all the way.
“All the way where?” inquired the carrier.
“Why, that horse," said the carrier, jerking the rein to point him out, “would be deader than pork afore he got over half the ground.”
“Are you only going to Yarmouth, then?” I asked.
“That's about it,” said the carrier. “And there 16 I shall take you to the stage-cutch, and the stage-cutch that'll take you to wherever it is.”
As this was a great deal for the carrier (whose name was Mr. Barkis) to say – I offered him a cake as a mark of attention, which he ate at one gulp, exactly 30 like an elephant, and which made no more impression on his big face than it would have done on an elephant's.
“Did she make 'em now?” said Mr. Barkis, always leaning forward, in his slouching way, on the footboard of the cart with an arm on each knee.
“Peggotty, do you mean, Sir?”
“Yes. She makes all our pastry, and does all our cooking.”
“Do she though?” said Mr. Barkis.
He made up his mouth as if to whistle, but he didn't 5 whistle. He sat looking at the horse's ears, as if he saw something new there; and sat so for a considerable time. By-and-by, he said :
“No sweethearts, I b’lieve?”
"Sweetmeats did you say, Mr. Barkis?” For I 10 thought he wanted something else to eat, and had pointedly alluded to that description of refreshment.
“Hearts," said Mr. Barkis. “Sweethearts; no person walks with her!”
She never had a sweetheart."
Again he made up his mouth to whistle, and again he didn't whistle, but sat looking at the horse's ears.
“So she makes,” said Mr. Barkis, after a long interval of reflection, "all the apple parsties, and doos all the cooking, do she?”
I replied that such was the fact.
“Well. I'll tell you what,” said Mr. Barkis. 25 “P'raps you might be writin' to her?”
“I shall certainly write to her,” I rejoined.