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weak staring eyes, with which it seemed to be always wondering why
it had ever been born.
It was with a singular jumble of sadness and pleasure that I used
to linger about my native place, until the reddening winter sun
admonished me that it was time to start on my returning walk. But,
when the place was left behind, and especially when Steerforth and
I were happily seated over our dinner by a blazing fire, it was
delicious to think of having been there. So it was, though in a
softened degree, when I went to my neat room at night; and, turning
over the leaves of the crocodile-book (which was always there, upon
a little table), remembered with a grateful heart how blest I was
in having such a friend as Steerforth, such a friend as Peggotty,
and such a substitute for what I had lost as my excellent and
MY nearest way to Yarmouth, in coming back from these long walks,
was by a ferry. It landed me on the flat between the town and the
sea, which I could make straight across, and so save myself a
considerable circuit by the high road. Mr. Peggotty's house being
on that waste-place, and not a hundred yards out of my track, I
always looked in as I went by. Steerforth was pretty sure to be
there expecting me, and we went on together through the frosty air
and gathering fog towards the twinkling lights of the town.
One dark evening, when I was later than usual - for I had, that
day, been making my parting visit to Blunderstone, as we were now
about to return home - I found him alone in Mr. Peggotty's house,
sitting thoughtfully before the fire. He was so intent upon his
own reflections that he was quite unconscious of my approach.
This, indeed, he might easily have been if he had been less
absorbed, for footsteps fell noiselessly on the sandy ground
outside; but even my entrance failed to rouse him. I was standing
close to him, looking at him; and still, with a heavy brow, he was
lost in his meditations.
He gave such a start when I put my hand upon his shoulder, that he
made me start too.
'You come upon me,' he said, almost angrily, 'like a reproachful
'I was obliged to announce myself, somehow,' I replied. 'Have I
called you down from the stars?'