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family had been connected from his great-grandfather's time, and in
which his sister had a similar interest; but I may mention it in
this place, whether or no.
After dinner, when we were sitting by the fire, and I was
meditating an escape to Peggotty without having the hardihood to
slip away, lest it should offend the master of the house, a coach
drove up to the garden-gate and he went out to receive the visitor.
My mother followed him. I was timidly following her, when she
turned round at the parlour door, in the dusk, and taking me in her
embrace as she had been used to do, whispered me to love my new
father and be obedient to him. She did this hurriedly and
secretly, as if it were wrong, but tenderly; and, putting out her
hand behind her, held mine in it, until we came near to where he
was standing in the garden, where she let mine go, and drew hers
through his arm.
It was Miss Murdstone who was arrived, and a gloomy-looking lady
she was; dark, like her brother, whom she greatly resembled in face
and voice; and with very heavy eyebrows, nearly meeting over her
large nose, as if, being disabled by the wrongs of her sex from
wearing whiskers, she had carried them to that account. She
brought with her two uncompromising hard black boxes, with her
initials on the lids in hard brass nails. When she paid the
coachman she took her money out of a hard steel purse, and she kept
the purse in a very jail of a bag which hung upon her arm by a
heavy chain, and shut up like a bite. I had never, at that time,
seen such a metallic lady altogether as Miss Murdstone was.
She was brought into the parlour with many tokens of welcome, and
there formally recognized my mother as a new and near relation.
Then she looked at me, and said:
'Is that your boy, sister-in-law?'
My mother acknowledged me.
'Generally speaking,' said Miss Murdstone, 'I don't like boys. How
d'ye do, boy?'
Under these encouraging circumstances, I replied that I was very
well, and that I hoped she was the same; with such an indifferent
grace, that Miss Murdstone disposed of me in two words: