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As soon as I and my box were in the cart, and the carrier seated, the lazy horse walked away with us all at his accustomed pace.

“You look very well, Mr. Barkis,” I said, thinking 5 he would like to know it.

Mr. Barkis rubbed his cheek with his cuff, and then looked at his cuff as if he expected to find some of the bloom upon it; but made no other acknowledgment of

; the compliment. “I gave your message, Mr. Barkis,” I said; “I

I wrote to Peggotty.”

"Ah!” said Mr. Barkis.
Mr. Barkis seemed gruff, and answered dryly.

“Wasn't it right, Mr. Barkis?” I asked, after a 15 little hesitation.

Why, no,” said Mr. Barkis. “Not the message?

“The message was right enough, perhaps,” said Mr. Barkis; “but it come to an end there."

Not understanding what he meant, I repeated inquisitively: "Came to an end, Mr. Barkis?”

“Nothing come of it,” he explained, looking at me sideways. “No answer.”

“There was an answer expected, was there, Mr. 25 Barkis?” said I, opening my eyes. For this was a new light to me.

“When a man says he's willin',” said Mr. Barkis,


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turning his glance slowly on me again, “it's as much as to say, that man's a waitin' for a answer."

“Well, Mr. Barkis?

“Well,” said Mr. Barkis, carrying his eyes back to his horse's ears; "that man's been a waitin' for a 5 answer ever since."

"Have you told her so, Mr. Barkis?”

"N no," growled Mr. Barkis, reflecting about it. “I ain't got no call to go and tell her so. I never said six words to her myself. I ain't a goin' to tell her so." 10

“Would you like me to do it, Mr. Barkis ?” said I, doubtfully.

“You might tell her, if you would,” said Mr. Barkis, with another slow look at me, "that Barkis was a waitin' for a answer. Says you

Says you — what name is it?" 15

“Her name?“Ah !” said Mr. Barkis, with a nod of his head. “Peggotty.”

Chrisen name? Or nat'ral name?” said Mr. Barkis.

“Oh, it's not her Christian name. Her Christian name is Clara."

"Is it though?” said Mr. Barkis.

He seemed to find an immense fund of reflection in this circumstance, and sat pondering and inwardly whistling for some time.

“Well!” he resumed at length. “Says you, ‘Peg





gotty! Barkis is a waitin' for a answer. Says she, perhaps, ‘Answer to what?' Says you, ‘To what I told you.' 'What is that?' says she. 'Barkis is willin', says you.”

This extremely artful suggestion, Mr. Barkis accompanied with a nudge of his elbow that gave me quite a stitch in my side. After that, he slouched over his horse in his usual manner; and made no other reference to the subject except, half an hour afterwards, 10 taking a piece of chalk from his pocket, and writing

up, inside the tilt of the cart, “Clara Peggotty" apparently as a private memorandum.

The carrier put my box down at the garden-gate, and left me. I walked along the path towards the 15 house, glancing at the windows, and fearing at every

step to see Mr. Murdstone or Miss Murdstone lowering out of one of them. No face appeared, however; and being come to the house, and knowing how to

open the door before dark, without knocking, I went 20 in with a quiet, timid step.

God knows how infantine the memory may have been that was awakened within me by the sound of my mother's voice in the old parlor, when I set foot

in the hall. She was singing in a low tone. I think 25 I must have lain in her arms, and heard her singing

so to me when I was but a baby. The strain was new to me, and yet it was so old that it filled my heart brimfull; like a friend come back from a long absence.

I believed, from the solitary and thoughtful way in which my mother murmured her song, that she was alone. And I went softly into the room. She was 5 sitting by the fire, holding an infant, whose tiny hand she held against her neck. Her eyes were looking down upon its face, and she sat singing to it. I was so far right that she had no other companion.

I spoke to her, and she started and cried out. But 10 seeing me, she called me her dear Davy, her own boy! and coming half across the room to meet me, kneeled down upon the ground and kissed me, and laid my head down on her bosom near the little creature that was nestling there, and put its hand up to my lips.

I wish I had died. I wish I had died then, with that feeling in my heart! I should have been more fit for Heaven than I ever have been since.

“He is your brother,” said my mother, fondling me. “Davy, my pretty boy! My poor child !” 20

“ Then she kissed me more and more, and clasped me round the neck. This she was doing when Peggotty came running in, and bounced down on the ground beside us, and went mad about us both for a quarter of an hour.

It seemed that I had not been expected so soon, the carrier being much before his usual time. It seemed,



I had my

too, that Mr. and Miss Murdstone had gone out upon a visit in the neighborhood, and would not return before night. I had never hoped for this. I had never thought it possible that we three could be to5 gether undisturbed, once more; and I felt, for the time, as if the old days were come back.

We dined together by the fireside. Peggotty was in attendance to wait upon us, but my mother wouldn't

let her do it, and made her dine with us. 10 own old plate, with a brown view of a man-of-war in

full sail upon it, which Peggotty had hoarded somewhere all the time I had been away, and would not have had broken, she said, for a hundred pounds.

I had my own old mug with David on it, and my own 15 old little knife and fork that wouldn't cut.

While we were at table, I thought it a favorable occasion to tell Peggotty about Mr. Barkis, who, before I had finished what I had to tell her, began to laugh, and throw her apron over her face.

“Peggotty !” said my mother. “What's the matter?”

Peggotty only laughed the more, and held her apron tight over her face when my mother tried to pull it away, and sat as if her head were in a bag.

“What are you doing, you stupid creature?said 25 my mother, laughing.

“Oh, drat the man!” cried Peggotty. "He wants to marry me."

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