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mustn't do it!'

This argument had some share in quieting my mother, though her
increasing indisposition had a larger one. There was an interval
of silence, only broken by Miss Betsey's occasionally ejaculating
'Ha!' as she sat with her feet upon the fender.

'David had bought an annuity for himself with his money, I know,'
said she, by and by. 'What did he do for you?'

'Mr. Copperfield,' said my mother, answering with some difficulty,
'was so considerate and good as to secure the reversion of a part
of it to me.'

'How much?' asked Miss Betsey.

'A hundred and five pounds a year,' said my mother.

'He might have done worse,' said my aunt.

The word was appropriate to the moment. My mother was so much
worse that Peggotty, coming in with the teaboard and candles, and
seeing at a glance how ill she was, - as Miss Betsey might have
done sooner if there had been light enough, - conveyed her upstairs
to her own room with all speed; and immediately dispatched Ham
Peggotty, her nephew, who had been for some days past secreted in
the house, unknown to my mother, as a special messenger in case of
emergency, to fetch the nurse and doctor.

Those allied powers were considerably astonished, when they arrived
within a few minutes of each other, to find an unknown lady of
portentous appearance, sitting before the fire, with her bonnet
tied over her left arm, stopping her ears with jewellers' cotton.
Peggotty knowing nothing about her, and my mother saying nothing
about her, she was quite a mystery in the parlour; and the fact of
her having a magazine of jewellers' cotton in her pocket, and
sticking the article in her ears in that way, did not detract from
the solemnity of her presence.

The doctor having been upstairs and come down again, and having
satisfied himself, I suppose, that there was a probability of this
unknown lady and himself having to sit there, face to face, for
some hours, laid himself out to be polite and social. He was the
meekest of his sex, the mildest of little men. He sidled in and
out of a room, to take up the less space. He walked as softly as
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