'It's my opinion, you see,' said Mr. Peggotty, with a delighted face, after some further rubbing of his legs, 'as this is along of my havin' played with her so much, and made believe as we was Turks, and French, and sharks, and every wariety of forinners — bless you, yes; and lions and whales, and I doen't know what all! — when she warn't no higher than my knee. I've got into the way on it, you know. Why, this here candle, now!' said Mr. Peggotty, gleefully holding out his hand towards it, 'I know wery well that arter she's married and gone, I shall put that candle theer, just the same as now. I know wery well that when I'm here o' nights (and where else should I live, bless your arts, whatever fortun' I come into!) and she ain't here or I ain't theer, I shall put the candle in the winder, and sit afore the fire, pretending I'm expecting of her, like I'm a doing now. THERE'S a babby for you,' said Mr. Peggotty, with another roar, 'in the form of a Sea Porkypine! Why, at the present minute, when I see the candle sparkle up, I says to myself, "She's a looking at it! Em'ly's a coming!" THERE'S a babby for you, in the form of a Sea Porkypine! Right for all that,' said Mr. Peggotty, stopping in his roar, and smiting his hands together; 'fur here she is!'
It was only Ham. The night should have turned more wet since I came in, for he had a large sou'wester hat on, slouched over his face.
'Wheer's Em'ly?' said Mr. Peggotty.
Ham made a motion with his head, as if she were outside. Mr. Peggotty took the light from the window, trimmed it, put it on the table, and was busily stirring the fire, when Ham, who had not moved, said:
'Mas'r Davy, will you come out a minute, and see what Em'ly and me has got to show you?'
We went out. As I passed him at the door, I saw, to my astonishment and fright, that he was deadly pale. He pushed me hastily into the open air, and closed the door upon us. Only upon us two.
'Ham! what's the matter?'
'Mas'r Davy! — ' Oh, for his broken heart, how dreadfully he wept!
I was paralysed by the sight of such grief. I don't know what I thought, or what I dreaded. I could only look at him.
'Ham! Poor good fellow! For Heaven's sake, tell me what's the matter!'
'My love, Mas'r Davy — the pride and hope of my art — her that I'd have died for, and would die for now — she's gone!'
'Em'ly's run away! Oh, Mas'r Davy, think HOW she's run away, when I pray my good and gracious God to kill her (her that is so dear above all things) sooner than let her come to ruin and disgrace!'
The face he turned up to the troubled sky, the quivering of his clasped hands, the agony of his figure, remain associated with the lonely waste, in my remembrance, to this hour. It is always night there, and he is the only object in the scene.
'You're a scholar,' he said, hurriedly, 'and know what's right and best. What am I to say, indoors? How am I ever to break it to him, Mas'r Davy?'
I saw the door move, and instinctively tried to hold the latch on the outside, to gain a moment's time. It was too late. Mr. Peggotty thrust forth his face; and never could I forget the change that came upon it when he saw us, if I were to live five hundred years.
I remember a great wail and cry, and the women hanging about him, and we all standing in the room; I with a paper in my hand, which Ham had given me; Mr. Peggotty, with his vest torn open, his hair wild, his face and lips quite white, and blood trickling down his bosom (it had sprung from his mouth, I think), looking fixedly at me.
'Read it, sir,' he said, in a low shivering voice. 'Slow, please. I doen't know as I can understand.'
In the midst of the silence of death, I read thus, from a blotted letter:
'"When you, who love me so much better than I ever have deserved, even when my mind was innocent, see this, I shall be far away."'
'I shall be fur away,' he repeated slowly. 'Stop! Em'ly fur away. Well!'
'"When I leave my dear home — my dear home — oh, my dear home! — in the morning,"'
the letter bore date on the previous night:
'" — it will be never to come back, unless he brings me back a lady. This will be found at night, many hours after, instead of me. Oh, if you knew how my heart is torn. If even you, that I have wronged so much, that never can forgive me, could only know what I suffer! I am too wicked to write about myself! Oh, take comfort in thinking that I am so bad. Oh, for mercy's sake, tell uncle that I never loved him half so dear as now. Oh, don't remember how affectionate and kind you have all been to me — don't remember we were ever to be married — but try to think as if I died when I was little, and was buried somewhere. Pray Heaven that I am going away from, have compassion on my uncle! Tell him that I never loved him half so dear. Be his comfort. Love some good girl that will be what I was once to uncle, and be true to you, and worthy of you, and know no shame but me. God bless all! I'll pray for all, often, on my knees. If he don't bring me back a lady, and I don't pray for my own self, I'll pray for all. My parting love to uncle. My last tears, and my last thanks, for uncle!"'