'She come,' said Mr. Peggotty, dropping his voice to an awe-stricken whisper, 'to London. She — as had never seen it in her life — alone — without a penny — young — so pretty — come to London. A'most the moment as she lighted heer, all so desolate, she found (as she believed) a friend; a decent woman as spoke to her about the needle-work as she had been brought up to do, about finding plenty of it fur her, about a lodging fur the night, and making secret inquiration concerning of me and all at home, tomorrow. When my child,' he said aloud, and with an energy of gratitude that shook him from head to foot, 'stood upon the brink of more than I can say or think on — Martha, trew to her promise, saved her.'
I could not repress a cry of joy.
'Mas'r Davy!' said he, gripping my hand in that strong hand of his, 'it was you as first made mention of her to me. I thankee, sir! She was arnest. She had know'd of her bitter knowledge wheer to watch and what to do. She had done it. And the Lord was above all! She come, white and hurried, upon Em'ly in her sleep. She says to her, "Rise up from worse than death, and come with me!" Them belonging to the house would have stopped her, but they might as soon have stopped the sea. "Stand away from me," she says, "I am a ghost that calls her from beside her open grave!" She told Em'ly she had seen me, and know'd I loved her, and forgive her. She wrapped her, hasty, in her clothes. She took her, faint and trembling, on her arm. She heeded no more what they said, than if she had had no ears. She walked among 'em with my child, minding only her; and brought her safe out, in the dead of the night, from that black pit of ruin!
'She attended on Em'ly,' said Mr. Peggotty, who had released my hand, and put his own hand on his heaving chest; 'she attended to my Em'ly, lying wearied out, and wandering betwixt whiles, till late next day. Then she went in search of me; then in search of you, Mas'r Davy. She didn't tell Em'ly what she come out fur, lest her 'art should fail, and she should think of hiding of herself. How the cruel lady know'd of her being theer, I can't say. Whether him as I have spoke so much of, chanced to see 'em going theer, or whether (which is most like, to my thinking) he had heerd it from the woman, I doen't greatly ask myself. My niece is found.
'All night long,' said Mr. Peggotty, 'we have been together, Em'ly and me. 'Tis little (considering the time) as she has said, in wureds, through them broken-hearted tears; 'tis less as I have seen of her dear face, as grow'd into a woman's at my hearth. But, all night long, her arms has been about my neck; and her head has laid heer; and we knows full well, as we can put our trust in one another, ever more.'
He ceased to speak, and his hand upon the table rested there in perfect repose, with a resolution in it that might have conquered lions.
'It was a gleam of light upon me, Trot,' said my aunt, drying her eyes, 'when I formed the resolution of being godmother to your sister Betsey Trotwood, who disappointed me; but, next to that, hardly anything would have given me greater pleasure, than to be godmother to that good young creature's baby!'
Mr. Peggotty nodded his understanding of my aunt's feelings, but could not trust himself with any verbal reference to the subject of her commendation. We all remained silent, and occupied with our own reflections (my aunt drying her eyes, and now sobbing convulsively, and now laughing and calling herself a fool); until I spoke.
'You have quite made up your mind,' said I to Mr. Peggotty, 'as to the future, good friend? I need scarcely ask you.'
'Quite, Mas'r Davy,' he returned; 'and told Em'ly. Theer's mighty countries, fur from heer. Our future life lays over the sea.'
'They will emigrate together, aunt,' said I.
'Yes!' said Mr. Peggotty, with a hopeful smile. 'No one can't reproach my darling in Australia. We will begin a new life over theer!'
I asked him if he yet proposed to himself any time for going away.
'I was down at the Docks early this morning, sir,' he returned, 'to get information concerning of them ships. In about six weeks or two months from now, there'll be one sailing — I see her this morning — went aboard — and we shall take our passage in her.'
'Quite alone?' I asked.
'Aye, Mas'r Davy!' he returned. 'My sister, you see, she's that fond of you and yourn, and that accustomed to think on'y of her own country, that it wouldn't be hardly fair to let her go. Besides which, theer's one she has in charge, Mas'r Davy, as doen't ought to be forgot.'
'Poor Ham!' said I.
'My good sister takes care of his house, you see, ma'am, and he takes kindly to her,' Mr. Peggotty explained for my aunt's better information. 'He'll set and talk to her, with a calm spirit, wen it's like he couldn't bring himself to open his lips to another. Poor fellow!' said Mr. Peggotty, shaking his head, 'theer's not so much left him, that he could spare the little as he has!'