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'For some time past,' Ham faltered, 'there's been a servant about
here, at odd times. There's been a gen'lm'n too. Both of 'em
belonged to one another.'
Mr. Peggotty stood fixed as before, but now looking at him.
'The servant,' pursued Ham, 'was seen along with - our poor girl -
last night. He's been in hiding about here, this week or over. He
was thought to have gone, but he was hiding. Doen't stay, Mas'r
I felt Peggotty's arm round my neck, but I could not have moved if
the house had been about to fall upon me.
'A strange chay and hosses was outside town, this morning, on the
Norwich road, a'most afore the day broke,' Ham went on. 'The
servant went to it, and come from it, and went to it again. When
he went to it again, Em'ly was nigh him. The t'other was inside.
He's the man.'
'For the Lord's love,' said Mr. Peggotty, falling back, and putting
out his hand, as if to keep off what he dreaded. 'Doen't tell me
his name's Steerforth!'
'Mas'r Davy,' exclaimed Ham, in a broken voice, 'it ain't no fault
of yourn - and I am far from laying of it to you - but his name is
Steerforth, and he's a damned villain!'
Mr. Peggotty uttered no cry, and shed no tear, and moved no more,
until he seemed to wake again, all at once, and pulled down his
rough coat from its peg in a corner.
'Bear a hand with this! I'm struck of a heap, and can't do it,' he
said, impatiently. 'Bear a hand and help me. Well!' when somebody
had done so. 'Now give me that theer hat!'
Ham asked him whither he was going.
'I'm a going to seek my niece. I'm a going to seek my Em'ly. I'm
a going, first, to stave in that theer boat, and sink it where I
would have drownded him, as I'm a living soul, if I had had one
thought of what was in him! As he sat afore me,' he said, wildly,
holding out his clenched right hand, 'as he sat afore me, face to
face, strike me down dead, but I'd have drownded him, and thought
it right! - I'm a going to seek my niece.'