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particulars fully related, when my aunt took me formally under her
protection. On my being settled at Doctor Strong's I wrote to her
again, detailing my happy condition and prospects. I never could
have derived anything like the pleasure from spending the money Mr.
Dick had given me, that I felt in sending a gold half-guinea to
Peggotty, per post, enclosed in this last letter, to discharge the
sum I had borrowed of her: in which epistle, not before, I
mentioned about the young man with the donkey-cart.

To these communications Peggotty replied as promptly, if not as
concisely, as a merchant's clerk. Her utmost powers of expression
(which were certainly not great in ink) were exhausted in the
attempt to write what she felt on the subject of my journey. Four
sides of incoherent and interjectional beginnings of sentences,
that had no end, except blots, were inadequate to afford her any
relief. But the blots were more expressive to me than the best
composition; for they showed me that Peggotty had been crying all
over the paper, and what could I have desired more?

I made out, without much difficulty, that she could not take quite
kindly to my aunt yet. The notice was too short after so long a
prepossession the other way. We never knew a person, she wrote;
but to think that Miss Betsey should seem to be so different from
what she had been thought to be, was a Moral! - that was her word.
She was evidently still afraid of Miss Betsey, for she sent her
grateful duty to her but timidly; and she was evidently afraid of
me, too, and entertained the probability of my running away again
soon: if I might judge from the repeated hints she threw out, that
the coach-fare to Yarmouth was always to be had of her for the

She gave me one piece of intelligence which affected me very much,
namely, that there had been a sale of the furniture at our old
home, and that Mr. and Miss Murdstone were gone away, and the house
was shut up, to be let or sold. God knows I had no part in it
while they remained there, but it pained me to think of the dear
old place as altogether abandoned; of the weeds growing tall in the
garden, and the fallen leaves lying thick and wet upon the paths.

I imagined how the winds of winter would howl round it, how the
cold rain would beat upon the window-glass, how the moon would make
ghosts on the walls of the empty rooms, watching their solitude all
night. I thought afresh of the grave in the churchyard, underneath
the tree: and it seemed as if the house were dead too, now, and all
connected with my father and mother were faded away.
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