What I have purposed to record is nearly finished; but there is yet an incident conspicuous in my memory, on which it often rests with delight, and without which one thread in the web I have spun would have a ravelled end.
I had advanced in fame and fortune, my domestic joy was perfect, I had been married ten happy years. Agnes and I were sitting by the fire, in our house in London, one night in spring, and three of our children were playing in the room, when I was told that a stranger wished to see me.
He had been asked if he came on business, and had answered No; he had come for the pleasure of seeing me, and had come a long way. He was an old man, my servant said, and looked like a farmer.
As this sounded mysterious to the children, and moreover was like the beginning of a favourite story Agnes used to tell them, introductory to the arrival of a wicked old Fairy in a cloak who hated everybody, it produced some commotion. One of our boys laid his head in his mothers lap to be out of harms way, and little Agnes (our eldest child) left her doll in a chair to represent her, and thrust out her little heap of golden curls from between the window-curtains, to see what happened next.
Let him come in here! said I.
There soon appeared, pausing in the dark doorway as he entered, a hale, gray-haired old man. Little Agnes, attracted by his looks, had run to bring him in, and I had not yet clearly seen his face, when my wife, starting up, cried out to me, in a pleased and agitated voice, that it was Mr. Peggotty!
It was Mr. Peggotty. An old man now, but in a ruddy, hearty, strong old age. When our first emotion was over, and he sat before the fire with the children on his knees, and the blaze shining on his face, he looked, to me, as vigorous and robust, withal as handsome, an old man, as ever I had seen.
Masr Davy, said he. And the old name in the old tone fell so naturally on my ear! Masr Davy, tis a joyful hour as I see you, once more, long with your own trew wife!
A joyful hour indeed, old friend! cried I.
And these heer pretty ones, said Mr. Peggotty. To look at these heer flowers! Why, Masr Davy, you was but the heighth of the littlest of these, when I first see you! When Emly warnt no bigger, and our poor lad were but a lad!
Time has changed me more than it has changed you since then, said I. But let these dear rogues go to bed; and as no house in England but this must hold you, tell me where to send for your luggage (is the old black bag among it, that went so far, I wonder!), and then, over a glass of Yarmouth grog, we will have the tidings years!
Are you alone? asked Agnes.
Yes, Maam, he said, kissing her hand, quite alone.
We sat him between us, not knowing how to give him welcome enough; and as I began to listen to his old familiar voice, I could have fancied he was still pursuing his long journey in search of his darling niece.
Its a mort of water, said Mr. Peggotty, fur to come across, and ony stay a matter of fower weeks. But water (specially when tis salt) comes natral to me; and friends is dear, and I am heer.Which is verse, said Mr. Peggotty, surprised to find it out, though I hadnt such intentions.
Are you going back those many thousand miles, so soon? asked Agnes.
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