“Yes, Ma’am,” he returned. “I giv the promise to Em’ly, afore I come away. You see, I doen’t grow younger as the years comes round, and if I hadn’t sailed as ’twas, most like I shouldn’t never have done’t. And it’s allus been on my mind, as I must come and see Mas’r Davy and your own sweet blooming self, in your wedded happiness, afore I got to be too old.”

He looked at us, as if he could never feast his eyes on us sufficiently. Agnes laughingly put back some scattered locks of his gray hair, that he might see us better.

“And now tell us,” said I, “everything relating to your fortunes.”

“Our fortuns, Mas’r Davy,” he rejoined, “is soon told. We haven’t fared nohows, but fared to thrive. We’ve allus thrived. We’ve worked as we ought to’t, and maybe we lived a leetle hard at first or so, but we have allus thrived. What with sheep-farming, and what with stock-farming, and what with one thing and what with t’other, we are as well to do as well could be. Theer’s been kiender a blessing fell upon us,” said Mr. Peggotty, reverentially inclining his head, “and we’ve done nowt but prosper. That is, in the long run. If not yesterday, why then to-day. If not to-day, why then to-morrow.”

“And Emily?” said Agnes and I, both together.

“Em’ly,” said he, “arter you left her, Ma’am—and I never heerd her saying of her prayers at night, t’other side the canvas screen, when we was settled in the Bush, but what I heerd your name—and arter she and me lost sight of Mas’r Davy, that theer shining sundown—was that low, at first, that, if she had know’d then what Mas’r Davy kep from us so kind and thowtful, ’tis my opinion she’d have drooped away. But theer was some poor folks aboard as had illness among ’em, and she took care of them; and theer was the children in our company, and she took care of them; and so she got to be busy, and to be doing good, and that helped her.”

“When did she first hear of it?” I asked.

“I kep it from her arter I heerd on’t,” said Mr. Peggotty, “going on nigh a year. We was living then in a solitary place, but among the beautifullest trees, and with the roses a-covering our Beein’ to the roof. Theer come along one day, when I was out a-working on the land, a traveller from our own Norfolk or Suffolk in England (I doen’t rightly mind which), and of course we took him in, and giv him to eat and drink, and made him welcome. We all do that, all the colony over. He’d got an old newspaper with him, and some other account in print of the storm. That’s how she know’d it. When I come home at night, I found she know’d it.”

He dropped his voice as he said these words, and the gravity I so well remembered overspread his face.

“Did it change her much?” we asked.

“Ay, for a good long time,” he said, shaking his head; “if not to this present hour. But I think the solitoode done her good. And she had a deal to mind in the way of poultry and the like, and minded of it, and come through. I wonder,” he said thoughtfully, “if you could see my Em’ly now, Mas’r Davy, whether you’d know her!”

“Is she so altered?” I inquired.

“I doen’t know. I see her ev’ry day, and doen’t know; but, odd-times, I have thowt so. A slight figure,” said Mr. Peggotty, looking at the fire, “kiender worn; soft, sorrowful blue eyes; a delicate face; a pritty head, leaning a little down; a quiet voice and way—timid a’most. That’s Em’ly!”

We silently observed him as he sat, still looking at the fire.

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