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The girl - the same I had seen upon the sands - was near the fire.
She was sitting on the ground, with her head and one arm lying on
a chair. I fancied, from the disposition of her figure, that Em'ly
had but newly risen from the chair, and that the forlorn head might
perhaps have been lying on her lap. I saw but little of the girl's
face, over which her hair fell loose and scattered, as if she had
been disordering it with her own hands; but I saw that she was
young, and of a fair complexion. Peggotty had been crying. So had
little Em'ly. Not a word was spoken when we first went in; and the
Dutch clock by the dresser seemed, in the silence, to tick twice as
loud as usual. Em'ly spoke first.

'Martha wants,' she said to Ham, 'to go to London.'

'Why to London?' returned Ham.

He stood between them, looking on the prostrate girl with a mixture
of compassion for her, and of jealousy of her holding any
companionship with her whom he loved so well, which I have always
remembered distinctly. They both spoke as if she were ill; in a
soft, suppressed tone that was plainly heard, although it hardly
rose above a whisper.

'Better there than here,' said a third voice aloud - Martha's,
though she did not move. 'No one knows me there. Everybody knows
me here.'

'What will she do there?' inquired Ham.

She lifted up her head, and looked darkly round at him for a
moment; then laid it down again, and curved her right arm about her
neck, as a woman in a fever, or in an agony of pain from a shot,
might twist herself.

'She will try to do well,' said little Em'ly. 'You don't know what
she has said to us. Does he - do they - aunt?'

Peggotty shook her head compassionately.

'I'll try,' said Martha, 'if you'll help me away. I never can do
worse than I have done here. I may do better. Oh!' with a
dreadful shiver, 'take me out of these streets, where the whole
town knows me from a child!'

As Em'ly held out her hand to Ham, I saw him put in it a little
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