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effect. She still preserved her proud manner, but there was a
touch of softness in her voice, as she answered:
'I justify nothing. I make no counter-accusations. But I am sorry
to repeat, it is impossible. Such a marriage would irretrievably
blight my son's career, and ruin his prospects. Nothing is more
certain than that it never can take place, and never will. If
there is any other compensation -'
'I am looking at the likeness of the face,' interrupted Mr.
Peggotty, with a steady but a kindling eye, 'that has looked at me,
in my home, at my fireside, in my boat - wheer not? - smiling and
friendly, when it was so treacherous, that I go half wild when I
think of it. If the likeness of that face don't turn to burning
fire, at the thought of offering money to me for my child's blight
and ruin, it's as bad. I doen't know, being a lady's, but what
She changed now, in a moment. An angry flush overspread her
features; and she said, in an intolerant manner, grasping the
arm-chair tightly with her hands:
'What compensation can you make to ME for opening such a pit
between me and my son? What is your love to mine? What is your
separation to ours?'
Miss Dartle softly touched her, and bent down her head to whisper,
but she would not hear a word.
'No, Rosa, not a word! Let the man listen to what I say! My son,
who has been the object of my life, to whom its every thought has
been devoted, whom I have gratified from a child in every wish,
from whom I have had no separate existence since his birth, - to
take up in a moment with a miserable girl, and avoid me! To repay
my confidence with systematic deception, for her sake, and quit me
for her! To set this wretched fancy, against his mother's claims
upon his duty, love, respect, gratitude - claims that every day and
hour of his life should have strengthened into ties that nothing
could be proof against! Is this no injury?'
Again Rosa Dartle tried to soothe her; again ineffectually.
'I say, Rosa, not a word! If he can stake his all upon the
lightest object, I can stake my all upon a greater purpose. Let
him go where he will, with the means that my love has secured to