“Trot, my dear,” said my aunt, when she saw me making preparations for compounding her usual night- draught, “No!”

“Nothing, aunt?”

“Not wine, my dear. Ale.”

“But there is wine here, aunt. And you always have it made of wine.”

“Keep that, in case of sickness,” said my aunt. “We mustn’t use it carelessly, Trot. Ale for me. Half a pint.”

I thought Mr. Dick would have fallen, insensible. My aunt being resolute, I went out and got the ale myself. As it was growing late, Peggotty and Mr. Dick took that opportunity of repairing to the chandler’s shop together. I parted from him, poor fellow, at the corner of the street, with his great kite at his back, a very monument of human misery.

My aunt was walking up and down the room when I returned, crimping the borders of her nightcap with her fingers. I warmed the ale and made the toast on the usual infallible principles. When it was ready for her, she was ready for it, with her nightcap on, and the skirt of her gown turned back on her knees.

“My dear,” said my aunt, after taking a spoonful of it, “it’s a great deal better than wine. Not half so bilious.”

I suppose I looked doubtful, for she added—

“Tut, tut, child. If nothing worse than Ale happens to us, we are well off.”

“I should think so myself, aunt, I am sure,” said I.

“Well, then, why don’t you think so?” said my aunt.

“Because you and I are very different people,” I returned.

“Stuff and nonsense, Trot!” replied my aunt.

My aunt went on with a quiet enjoyment, in which there was very little affectation, if any; drinking the warm ale with a teaspoon, and soaking her strips of toast in it.

“Trot,” said she, “I don’t care for strange faces in general, but I rather like that Barkis of yours, do you know!”

“It’s better than a hundred pounds to hear you say so!” said I.

“It’s a most extraordinary world,” observed my aunt, rubbing her nose; “how that woman ever got into it with that name, is unaccountable to me. It would be much more easy to be born a Jackson, or something of that sort, one would think.”

“Perhaps she thinks so, too; it’s not her fault,” said I.

“I suppose not,” returned my aunt, rather grudging the admission; “but it’s very aggravating. However, she’s Barkis now. That’s some comfort. Barkis is uncommonly fond of you, Trot.”

“There is nothing she would leave undone to prove it,” said I.

“Nothing, I believe,” returned my aunt. “Here, the poor fool has been begging and praying about handing over some of her money—because she has got too much of it! A simpleton!”

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