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indescribably sensitive pleasure, that a very little would have
changed to pain.

Therefore, if it had depended upon me to touch the prevailing chord
among them with any skill, I should have made a poor hand of it.
But it depended upon Steerforth; and he did it with such address,
that in a few minutes we were all as easy and as happy as it was
possible to be.

'Mr. Peggotty,' he said, 'you are a thoroughly good fellow, and
deserve to be as happy as you are tonight. My hand upon it! Ham,
I give you joy, my boy. My hand upon that, too! Daisy, stir the
fire, and make it a brisk one! and Mr. Peggotty, unless you can
induce your gentle niece to come back (for whom I vacate this seat
in the corner), I shall go. Any gap at your fireside on such a
night - such a gap least of all - I wouldn't make, for the wealth
of the Indies!'

So Mr. Peggotty went into my old room to fetch little Em'ly. At
first little Em'ly didn't like to come, and then Ham went.
Presently they brought her to the fireside, very much confused, and
very shy, - but she soon became more assured when she found how
gently and respectfully Steerforth spoke to her; how skilfully he
avoided anything that would embarrass her; how he talked to Mr.
Peggotty of boats, and ships, and tides, and fish; how he referred
to me about the time when he had seen Mr. Peggotty at Salem House;
how delighted he was with the boat and all belonging to it; how
lightly and easily he carried on, until he brought us, by degrees,
into a charmed circle, and we were all talking away without any

Em'ly, indeed, said little all the evening; but she looked, and
listened, and her face got animated, and she was charming.
Steerforth told a story of a dismal shipwreck (which arose out of
his talk with Mr. Peggotty), as if he saw it all before him - and
little Em'ly's eyes were fastened on him all the time, as if she
saw it too. He told us a merry adventure of his own, as a relief
to that, with as much gaiety as if the narrative were as fresh to
him as it was to us - and little Em'ly laughed until the boat rang
with the musical sounds, and we all laughed (Steerforth too), in
irresistible sympathy with what was so pleasant and light-hearted.
He got Mr. Peggotty to sing, or rather to roar, 'When the stormy
winds do blow, do blow, do blow'; and he sang a sailor's song
himself, so pathetically and beautifully, that I could have almost
fancied that the real wind creeping sorrowfully round the house,
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