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'Why, from your old nurse,' he returned, taking some papers out of
his breast pocket. "'J. Steerforth, Esquire, debtor, to The
Willing Mind"; that's not it. Patience, and we'll find it
presently. Old what's-his-name's in a bad way, and it's about
that, I believe.'

'Barkis, do you mean?'

'Yes!' still feeling in his pockets, and looking over their
contents: 'it's all over with poor Barkis, I am afraid. I saw a
little apothecary there - surgeon, or whatever he is - who brought
your worship into the world. He was mighty learned about the case,
to me; but the upshot of his opinion was, that the carrier was
making his last journey rather fast. - Put your hand into the
breast pocket of my great-coat on the chair yonder, and I think
you'll find the letter. Is it there?'

'Here it is!' said I.

'That's right!'

It was from Peggotty; something less legible than usual, and brief.
It informed me of her husband's hopeless state, and hinted at his
being 'a little nearer' than heretofore, and consequently more
difficult to manage for his own comfort. It said nothing of her
weariness and watching, and praised him highly. It was written
with a plain, unaffected, homely piety that I knew to be genuine,
and ended with 'my duty to my ever darling' - meaning myself.

While I deciphered it, Steerforth continued to eat and drink.

'It's a bad job,' he said, when I had done; 'but the sun sets every
day, and people die every minute, and we mustn't be scared by the
common lot. If we failed to hold our own, because that equal foot
at all men's doors was heard knocking somewhere, every object in
this world would slip from us. No! Ride on! Rough-shod if need
be, smooth-shod if that will do, but ride on! Ride on over all
obstacles, and win the race!'

'And win what race?' said I.

'The race that one has started in,' said he. 'Ride on!'

I noticed, I remember, as he paused, looking at me with his
handsome head a little thrown back, and his glass raised in his
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