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and murmuring low through our unbroken silence, was there to

As to Mrs. Gummidge, he roused that victim of despondency with a
success never attained by anyone else (so Mr. Peggotty informed
me), since the decease of the old one. He left her so little
leisure for being miserable, that she said next day she thought she
must have been bewitched.

But he set up no monopoly of the general attention, or the
conversation. When little Em'ly grew more courageous, and talked
(but still bashfully) across the fire to me, of our old wanderings
upon the beach, to pick up shells and pebbles; and when I asked her
if she recollected how I used to be devoted to her; and when we
both laughed and reddened, casting these looks back on the pleasant
old times, so unreal to look at now; he was silent and attentive,
and observed us thoughtfully. She sat, at this time, and all the
evening, on the old locker in her old little corner by the fire -
Ham beside her, where I used to sit. I could not satisfy myself
whether it was in her own little tormenting way, or in a maidenly
reserve before us, that she kept quite close to the wall, and away
from him; but I observed that she did so, all the evening.

As I remember, it was almost midnight when we took our leave. We
had had some biscuit and dried fish for supper, and Steerforth had
produced from his pocket a full flask of Hollands, which we men (I
may say we men, now, without a blush) had emptied. We parted
merrily; and as they all stood crowded round the door to light us
as far as they could upon our road, I saw the sweet blue eyes of
little Em'ly peeping after us, from behind Ham, and heard her soft
voice calling to us to be careful how we went.

'A most engaging little Beauty!' said Steerforth, taking my arm.
'Well! It's a quaint place, and they are quaint company, and it's
quite a new sensation to mix with them.'

'How fortunate we are, too,' I returned, 'to have arrived to
witness their happiness in that intended marriage! I never saw
people so happy. How delightful to see it, and to be made the
sharers in their honest joy, as we have been!'

'That's rather a chuckle-headed fellow for the girl; isn't he?'
said Steerforth.

He had been so hearty with him, and with them all, that I felt a
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