'And Mrs. Gummidge?' said I.
'Well, I've had a mort of consideration, I do tell you,' returned Mr. Peggotty, with a perplexed look which gradually cleared as he went on, 'concerning of Missis Gummidge. You see, wen Missis Gummidge falls a-thinking of the old 'un, she an't what you may call good company. Betwixt you and me, Mas'r Davy — and you, ma'am — wen Mrs. Gummidge takes to wimicking,' — our old country word for crying, — 'she's liable to be considered to be, by them as didn't know the old 'un, peevish-like. Now I DID know the old 'un,' said Mr. Peggotty, 'and I know'd his merits, so I unnerstan' her; but 'tan't entirely so, you see, with others — nat'rally can't be!'
My aunt and I both acquiesced.
'Wheerby,' said Mr. Peggotty, 'my sister might — I doen't say she would, but might — find Missis Gummidge give her a leetle trouble now-and-again. Theerfur 'tan't my intentions to moor Missis Gummidge 'long with them, but to find a Beein' fur her wheer she can fisherate for herself.' (A Beein' signifies, in that dialect, a home, and to fisherate is to provide.) 'Fur which purpose,' said Mr. Peggotty, 'I means to make her a 'lowance afore I go, as'll leave her pretty comfort'ble. She's the faithfullest of creeturs. 'Tan't to be expected, of course, at her time of life, and being lone and lorn, as the good old Mawther is to be knocked about aboardship, and in the woods and wilds of a new and fur-away country. So that's what I'm a-going to do with her.'
He forgot nobody. He thought of everybody's claims and strivings, but his own.
'Em'ly,' he continued, 'will keep along with me — poor child, she's sore in need of peace and rest! — until such time as we goes upon our voyage. She'll work at them clothes, as must be made; and I hope her troubles will begin to seem longer ago than they was, wen she finds herself once more by her rough but loving uncle.'
MY aunt nodded confirmation of this hope, and imparted great satisfaction to Mr. Peggotty.
'Theer's one thing furder, Mas'r Davy,' said he, putting his hand in his breast-pocket, and gravely taking out the little paper bundle I had seen before, which he unrolled on the table. 'Theer's these here banknotes — fifty pound, and ten. To them I wish to add the money as she come away with. I've asked her about that (but not saying why), and have added of it up. I an't a scholar. Would you be so kind as see how 'tis?'
He handed me, apologetically for his scholarship, a piece of paper, and observed me while I looked it over. It was quite right.
'Thankee, sir,' he said, taking it back. 'This money, if you doen't see objections, Mas'r Davy, I shall put up jest afore I go, in a cover directed to him; and put that up in another, directed to his mother. I shall tell her, in no more wureds than I speak to you, what it's the price on; and that I'm gone, and past receiving of it back.'
I told him that I thought it would be right to do so — that I was thoroughly convinced it would be, since he felt it to be right.
'I said that theer was on'y one thing furder,' he proceeded with a grave smile, when he had made up his little bundle again, and put it in his pocket; 'but theer was two. I warn't sure in my mind, wen I come out this morning, as I could go and break to Ham, of my own self, what had so thankfully happened. So I writ a letter while I was out, and put it in the post-office, telling of 'em how all was as 'tis; and that I should come down tomorrow to unload my mind of what little needs a-doing of down theer, and, most-like, take my farewell leave of Yarmouth.'
'And do you wish me to go with you?' said I, seeing that he left something unsaid.
'If you could do me that kind favour, Mas'r Davy,' he replied. 'I know the sight on you would cheer 'em up a bit.'
My little Dora being in good spirits, and very desirous that I should go — as I found on talking it over with her — I readily pledged myself to accompany him in accordance with his wish. Next morning, consequently, we were on the Yarmouth coach, and again travelling over the old ground.
As we passed along the familiar street at night — Mr. Peggotty, in despite of all my remonstrances, carrying my bag — I glanced into Omer and Joram's shop, and saw my old friend Mr. Omer there, smoking his pipe. I felt reluctant to be present, when Mr. Peggotty first met his sister and Ham; and made Mr. Omer my excuse for lingering behind.
'How is Mr. Omer, after this long time?' said I, going in.
He fanned away the smoke of his pipe, that he might get a better view of me, and soon recognized me with great delight.
'I should get up, sir, to acknowledge such an honour as this visit,' said he, 'only my limbs are rather out of sorts, and I am wheeled about. With the exception of my limbs and my breath, howsoever, I am as hearty as a man can be, I'm thankful to say.'
I congratulated him on his contented looks and his good spirits, and saw, now, that his easy-chair went on wheels.