We proceeded to the top-story of the house. Two or
three times, by the way, I thought I observed in the indis>
tinct light the skirts of a female figure going up before us.
As we turned to ascend the last flight of stairs between us
and the roof, we caught a full view of this figure pausing
for a moment, at a door. Then it turned the handle and
" What's this!" said Martha, in a whisper. " She has gone
into my room. I don't know her!"
/ knew her. I recognized her with amazement, for Miss
I said something to the effect that it was a lady whom I
had seen before, in a few words, to my conductress; and had
scarcely done so, when we heard her voice in the room,
though not, from where we stood, what she was saying.
Martha, with an astonished look, repeated her former action,
and softly led me up the stairs; and then, by a little back
door which seemed to have no lock, and which she pushed
open with a touch, into a small empty garret with a low
7IO DAVID COPPERFIELD.
sloping roof: little better than a cupboard. Between this,
and the room she had called hers, there was a small door of
communication, standing partly open. Here we stopped,
breathless with our ascent, and she placed her hand lightly
upon my lips. I could only see, of the room beyond, that
it was pretty large; that there was a bed in it; and that there
were some common pictures of ships upon the walls. I could
not see Miss Dartle, or the person whom we had heard her
address. Certainly, my companion could not, for my position
was the best.
A dead silence prevailed for some moments. Martha
kept one hand on my lips, and raised the other in a listen-
" It matters little to me her not being at home," said
Rosa Dartle, haughtily, *' I know nothing of her. It is you
I come to see."
" Me?" replied a soft voice.
At the sound of it a thrill went through my frame. For
it was Emily's!
"Yes," returned Miss Dartle, "I have come to look at
you. What? You are not ashamed of the face that has
done so much?"
The resolute and unrelenting hatred of her tone, its cold
stern sharpness, and its mastered rage, presented her
before me, as if I had seen her standing in the light. I saw
the flashing black eyes, and the passion-wasted figure; and
I saw the scar, with its white track cutting through her lips,
quivering and throbbing as she spoke.
" I have come to see," she said, " James Steerforth's
fancy; the girl who ran away with him, and is the town-
talk of the commonest people of her native place; the bold,
flaunting, practised companion of persons like James Steer-
forth. I want to know what such a thing is like."
There was a rustle, as if the unhappy girl, on whom she
heaped these taunts, ran towards the door, and the speaker
swiftly interposed herself before it. It was succeeded by a
When Miss Dartle spoke again, it was through her set
teeth, and with a stamp upon the ground.
" Stay there!" she said, ^' or I '11 proclaim you to the house,
and to the whole street! If you try to evade fne, I '11 stop
you, if it's by the hair, and raise the very stones against
DAVID COPPERFIELD. 711
A frightened murmur was the only reply that reached my
ears. A silence succeeded. I did not know what to do.
Much as I desired to put an end to the interview, I felt
that I had no right to present myself; that it was for Mr.
Peggotty alone to see her and recover her. Would he
never come? I thought impatiently.
"So!" said Rosa Dartle, with a contemptuous laugh, " I
see her at last! Why, he was a poor creature to be taken
by that delicate mock-modesty, and that hanging head!"
"Oh, for Heaven's sake, spare me!" exclaimed Emily.
" Whoever you are, you know my pitiable story, and for
Heaven's sake, spare me, if you would be spared your-
" If / would be spared!" returned the other, fiercely,
" what is there in common between us^ do you think?"
" Nothing but our sex," said Emily, with a burst of tears.
" And that," said Rosa Dartle, " is so strong a claim, pre-
ferred by one so infamous, that if I had any feeling in my
breast but scorn and abhorrence of you, it would freeze it
up. Our sex! You are an honor to our sex!"
"I have deserved this," cried Emily, "but it's dreadful!
Dear, dear lady, think what I have suffered, and how I am
fallen! Oh, Martha, comeback! Oh, home, home!"
Miss Dartle placed herself in a chair, within view of the
door, and looked downward, as if Emily were crouching on
the floor before her.
Being now between me and the light, I could see her
curled lip, and her cruel eyes intently fixed on one place,
with a greedy triumph.
"Listen to what I say!" she said; "and reserve your
false arts for your dupes. Do you hope to move me by
your tears? No more than you could charm me by your
smiles, you purchased slave."
" Oh, have some mercy on me!" cried Emily. " Show
me some compassion, or I shall die mad!"
" It would be no great penance," said Rosa Dartle, " for
your crimes. Do you know what you have done ? Do you
ever think of the home you have laid waste ?"
" Oh, is there ever night or day, when I don't think of it?"
cried Emily; and now I could just see her, on her knees, with
her head thrown back, her pale face looking upward,her hands
wildly clasped and held out, and her hair streaming about
her. " Has there ever been a single minute, waking or
712 DAVID COPPERFIELD.
sleeping, when it hasn't been before me, just as it used to
be in the lost days when I turned my back upon it for ever
and for ever! Oh, home, home! Oh dear, dear uncle, if
you ever could have known the agony your love would cause
me when I fell away from good, you never would have
shown it to me so constant, much as you felt it; but would
have been angry to me, at least once in my life, that I might
have had some comfort! I have none, none, no comfort
upon earth, for all of them were always fond of me!" She
dropped on her face, before the imperious figure in the
chair, with an imploring effort to clasp the skirt of her
Rosa Dartle sat looking down upon her, as inflexible as a
figure of brass. Her lips were tightly compressed, as if she
knew that she must keep a strong restraint upon herself â I
write what I sincerely believe â or she would be tempted to
strike the beautiful form with her foot. I saw her, distinct-
ly, and the whole power of her face and character seemed
forced into that expression.â Would he never come ?
''The miserable vanity of these earth-worms!" she said,
when she had so far controlled the angry heavings of her
breast, that she could trust herself to speak. *' K^z/rhome!
Do you imagine that I bestow a thought on it, or suppose
you could do any harm to that low place, which money
would not pay for, and handsomely ! Your home! You
were a part of the trade of your home, and were bought
and sold like any other vendible thing your people dealt
" Oh not that!" cried Emily. " Say anything of me; but
don't visit my disgrace and shame, more than I have done,
on folks who are as honorable as you! Have some respect
for them as you are a lady, if you have no mercy for me."
" I speak," she said, not deigning to take any heed of
this appeal, and drawing away her dress from the contami-
nation of Emily's touch, "I speak of his home â where 1
live. Here," she said, stretching out her hand with her
contemptuous laugh, and looking down upon the prostrate
girl, " is a worthy cause of division between lady-mother and
gentleman-son; of grief in a house where she wouldn't have
been admitted as a kitchen-girl ; of anger, and repining,
and reproach. This piece of pollution, picked up from the
water-side, to be made much of for an hour, and then tossed
back to her original place!"
DAVID COPPERFIELD. 713
"No! no!" cried Emily clasping her hands together.
" When he first came into my way â that the day had never
dawned upon me, and he had met me being carried to my
grave! â I had been brought up as virtuous as you or any
lady, and was going to be the wife of as good a man as you
or any lady in the world can ever marry. If you live in his
home, and know him, you know, perhaps, what his power
with a weak, vain girl might be. I don't defend myself, but
I know well, and he knows well, or he will know when he
comes to die, and his mind is troubled with it, that he used
all his power to deceive me, and that I believed him, trusted
him, and loved him!"
Rosa Dartle sprang up from her seat; recoiled, and in re-
coiling struck at her, with a face of such malignity, so
darkened and disfigured by passion, that I had almost
thrown myself between them. The blow, which had no
aim, fell upon the air. As she now stood panting, looking
at her with the utmost detestation that she was capable of
expressing, and trembling from head to foot with rage and
scorn, I thought I had never seen such a sight, and never
could see such another.
" You love him ? You T' she cried, with her clenched
hand quivering as if it only wanted a weapon to stab the
object of her wrath.
Emily had shrunk out of my view. There was no reply.
" And tell that to me^' she added, " with your shameful
lips! Why don't they whip these creatures! If I could
order it to be done I would have the girl whipped to death."
And so she would, I have no doubt. I would not have
trusted her with the rack itself, while that furious look
She slowly, very slowly, broke into a laugh, and pointed
at Emily with her hand, as if she were a sight of shame for
gods and men.
^' She love!" she said. "That carrion? And he ever
cared for her, she'd tell me ? Ha, ha! The liars that these
â Her mockery was worse than her undisguised rage. Of
the two, I would have much preferred to be the object of
the latter. But, when she suffered it to break loose, it was
only for a moment. She had chained it up again, and how-
ever it might tear her within, she subdued it to herself.
"I. came here, you pure fountain of love," she said, "to
714 DAVID COPPERFIELD.
see â as I began by telling you â what such a thing as you
was like. I was curious. I am satisfied. Also to tell you,
that you had best seek that home of yours, with all speed,
and hide your head among those excellent people who are
expecting you, and whom your money will console. When
it's all gone, you can believe, and trust, and love again, you
know ! I thought you a broken toy that had lasted its time;
a worthless spangle that was tarnished, and thrown away.
But, finding you true gold, a very lady, and an ill-used in-
nocent, with a fresh heart full of love and truthfulness â
which you look like, and is quite consistent with your story !
â I have something more to say. Attend to it; for what I
say I'll do. Do you hear me,you fairy spirit ? What I say,
I mean to do !"
Her rage got the better of her again, for a moment, but it
passed over her face like a spasm, and left her smiling.
" Hide yourself," she pursued, " if not at home, some-
where. Let it be somewhere beyond reach; in some ob-
scure life â or, better still, in some obscure death. I wonder,
if your loving heart will not break, you have found no way
of helping it to be still ! I have heard of such means some-
times. I believe they may be easily found."
A low crying on the part of Emily interrupted her. She
stopped and listened to it, as if it were music.
" I am of a strange nature, perhaps," Rosa Dartle went on;
" but I can't breathe freely in the air you breathe. I find it
sickly. Therefore, I will have it cleared; I will have it purified
of you. If you live here to-morrow, I'll have your story and
your character proclaimed on the common stair. There are
decent women in the house, I am told; and it is a pity such
a light as you should be among them, and concealed. If,
leaving here, you seek any refuge in this town in any char-
acter but your true one (which you -are welcome to bear,
without molestation from me), the same service shall be done
you, if I hear of your retreat. Being assisted by a gentleman
who not long ago 'aspired to the favor of your hand, I am
sanguine as to that."
Would he never, never come ? How long was I to bear
this ? How long could I bear it ?
" Oh me, oh me !" exclaimed the wretched Emily, in a
tone that might have touched the hardest heart, I should
have thought; but there was no relenting in Rosa Dartle's
smile. " What, what shall I do !"
DAVID COPPERFIELD. 7:5
" Do ?" returned the other. " Live happy iti your own
reflections ! Consecrate your existence to the recollection of
James Steerforth's tenderness â he would have made you his
serving-man's wife, would he not ? â or to feeling grateful to
the upright and deserving creature who would have taken
you as his gift. Or, if those proud remembrances, and the
consciousness of your own virtues, and the honorable posi-
tion to which they have raised you in the eyes of everything
that wears the human shape, will not sustain you, marry that
good man, and be happy in his condescension. If this will
not do, either, die ! There are doorways and dustheaps for
such deaths, and such despair â find one and take your flight
to Heaven !"
I heard a distant foot upon the stairs. I knew it, I was
certain. It was his, thank God.
She moved slowly from before the door when she said this,
and passed out of my sight.
" But mark !" she added, slowly and sternly, opening the
door to go away, " I am resolved, for reasons that I have and
hatreds that I entertain, to cast you out, unless you withdraw
from my reach altogether, or drop your pretty mask. This is
what I had to say; and what I say, I mean to do !"
The foot upon the stairs came nearer â nearer â passed her
as she went down â rushed into the room !
A fearful cry followed the word. I paused a moment, and
looking in, saw him supporting her insensible figure in his
arms. He gazed for a few seconds in the face, then stooped
to kiss it â oh, how tenderly ! â and drew a handkerchief be-
" Mas'r Davy," he said, in a low tremulous voice, when it
was covered, " I thank my Heav'nly Father as my dream's
come true. I thank him hearty for having guided of me, in
His own ways, to my darling !"
With those words he took her up in his arms; and with the
veiled face lying on his bosom, and addressed towards his
own, carried her motionless and unconscious, down the
7i6 DAVID COPPERFIELD.
THE BEGINNING OF A LONGER JOURNEY,
It was yet early in the morning of the following day,
when, as I was walking in my garden with my aunt (who
took little other exercise now, being so much in attendance
on my dear Dora), I was told that Mr. Peggotty desired to
speak with me. He came into the garden to meet me half-
way, on my going towards the gate; and bared his head, as
it was always his custom to do Avhen he saw my aunt, for
whom he had a high respect. I had been telling her all
that had happened over-night. Without saying a word, she
walked up with a cordial face, shook hands with him, and
patted him on the arm. It was so expressively done, that
she had no need to say a word. Mr. Peggotty understood
her quite as well as if she had said a thousand.
" I'll go in now. Trot," said my aunt, " and look after
little Blossom, who will be getting up presently."
'' Not along of my being heer, ma'am, I hope ?" said Mr.
Peggotty. " Unless my wits is gone a bahd's neezing" â by
which Mr. Peggotty meant to say bird's nesting â "this
morning, 'tis along of me as you're agoing to quit us ?"
"You have something to say, my good friend," returned
my aunt, "and you'll do better without me."
" By your leave, ma'am," returned Mr. Peggotty, " I
should take it kind, pervisingyou doen'tmind my clicketten,
if you'd bide heer."
"Would you ?" said my aunt, with short good nature.
"Then I am sure I will!"
So she drew her arm through Mr. Peggotty's, and walked
with him to a leafy little summer-house there was at the
bottom of the garden, where she sat down on a bench, and
I beside her. There was a seat for Mr. Peggotty too, but
he preferred to stand, leaning his hand on the small rustic
table. As he stood, looking at his cap for a little whiJe be-
fore beginning to speak, I could not help observing what
power and force of character his sinewy hand expressed,
and what a good and trusty companion it was to his honest
brow and iron gray hair.
" I took my dear child away last night," Mr. Peggotty
began, as he raised his eyes to ours, " to my lodging, wheer
DAVID COPPERFIELD. 717
I have a long time been expecting of her and preparing for
her. It was hours afore she knowed me right; and when
she did, she kneeled down at my feet, and kiender said to
me, as if it was her prayers, how it all come to be. You
may believe me, when I heerd her voice, as I had heerd at
home so playful â and see her humbled, as it might be in
the dust our Saviour wrote in with his blessed hand â I felt
a wownd go to my art, in the midst of all its thankfulness.'*
He drew his sleeve across his face, without any pretense
of concealing why; and then cleared his voice.
" It warn't for long as I felt that; for she was found. I
had on'y to think as she was found, and it was gone. I
doen't know why I do so much as mention of it now, I'm
sure. I didn't have it in my mind a minute ago, to say a
word about myself; but it come up so nat'ral, that I yielded
to it afore I was aweer."
" You are a self-denying soul," said my aunt, " and will
have your reward."
Mr. Peggotty, with the shadows of the leaves playing
athwart his face, made a surprised inclination of the head
towards my aunt, as an acknowledgment of her good
opinion; then took up the thread he had relinquished.
" When my Em'ly took flight," he said, in stern wrath for
the moment, " from the house wheer she was made a
pris'ner by that theer spotted snake as Mas'r Davy see, â
and his story's trew, and may God confound him ! â she
took flight in the night. It was a dark night, with a many
stars a shining. She was wild. She ran along the sea
beach, believing the old boat was theer; and calling out to
us to turn away our faces, for she was a coming by. She
heerd herself a crying out, like as if it was another person;
and cut herself on them sharp-pinted stones and rocks, and
felt it no more than if she had been rock herself. Ever so fur
she run, and there was fire afore her eyes, and roarings in
her ears. Of a sudden â or so she thowt, you understand â
the day broke, wet and windy, and she was lying b'low a
heap of stone upon the shore, and a woman was a speaking
to her, saying, in the language of that country, what was it
as had gone so much amiss ?"
He saw everything he related. It passed before him as
he spoke, so vividly, that in the intensity of his earnest-
ness, he presented what he described, to me, with greater
â¢distinctness than I can express. I can hardly believe,
7i5 DAVID COPPERFIELD.
writing now long afterwards, but that I was actually present
in these scenes; they are impressed upon me with such an
astonishing air of fidelity.
"As Em'ly's eyes â which was heavy â see this woman
better," Mr. Peggotty went on, " she know'd as she was one
of them as she had often talked to on the beach. Fur,
though she had run (as I have said) ever so fur in the night,
she had oftentimes wandered long ways, partly afoot, partly
in boats and carriages, and know'd all that country, 'long
the coast, miles and miles. She hadn't no children of her
own, this woman, being a young wife; but she was looking
to have one afore long. And may my prayers go up to
Heaven that 'twill be a happ'ness to her, and a comfort,
and a honor, all her life! May it love her and be dootiful
to her, in her old age; helpful of her at the last; a Angel to
her heer, and heerafter!"
"Amen !" said my aunt.
" She had been summat timorous and down," said Mr.
Peggotty, " and had sat, at first, a little way off, at her spin-
ning, or such work as it was, when Em'ly talked to the chil-
dren. But Em'ly had took notice of her, and had gone and
spoke to her; and as the young woman was partial to the
children herself, they had soon made friends. Sermuchser,
that when Em'ly went that way, she always giv Em'ly flowers.
This was her as now asked what it was that had gone so
much amiss. Em'ly told her, and she â took her home. She
did indeed. She took her home," said Mr. Peggotty, cov-
ering his face.
He was more affected by this act of kindness, than I had
ever seen him affected by anything since the night she
went away. My aunt and I did not attempt to disturb
" It was a little cottage, you may suppose," he said, pres-
ently, " but she found space for Em'ly in it, â her husband
was away at sea, â and she kep it secret, and prevailed upon
such neighbors as she had (they was not many near) to keep
it secret too. Em'ly was took bad with fever, and, what is
very strange to me is, â maybe 'tis not so strange to schol-
ars, â the language of that country went out of her head,
and she could only speak her own, that no one under-
stood. She recollects, as if she had dreamed it, that she
lay there, always a talking her own tongue, always be-
lieving aÂ§ the old boat was round the next pint in the
DAVID COPPERFIELD. 719
bay, and begging and imploring of 'em to send theer and
tell how she was dying, and bring back a message of
forgiveness,' if it was on'y a wured. A'most the whole
time, she thowt, â now, that him as I made mention on just
now was lurking for her underneath the winder: now that
him as had brought her to this was in the room, â and
cried to the good young woman not to give her up, and
know'd, at the same time, that she couldn't understand, and
dreaded that she must be took away. Likewise the fire
was afore her eyes, and the roarings in her ears; and
there was no to-day, nor yesterday, nor yet to morrow;
but everything in her life as ever had been, or as ever
could be, and everything as never had been, and as never
could be, was a crowding on her all at once, and nothing
clear nor welcome, and yet she sang and laughed about
it! How long this lasted, I doen't know; but then there
come a sleep; and in that sleep, from being a many times
stronger than her own self, she fell into the weakness of the
Here he stopped, as if for relief from the terrors of his own
description. After being silent for a few moments, he pur-
sued his story.
''Itwas a pleasant arternoon when she awoke; and so
quiet, that there warn't a sound but the rippling of that blue
sea without a tide, upon the shore. It was her belief, at
first, that she was at home upon a Sunday morning; but, the
vine leaves as she sees at the winder, and the hills beyond,
warn't home, and contradicted of her. Then come in her
friend to watch alongside of her bed; and then she know'd as
the old boat warn't round that next pint in the bay no more,
but was fur off; and know'd where she was, and why, and
broke out a crying on that good young woman's bosom,
wheer I hope her baby is a lying now, a cheering of her
with its pretty eyes!"
He could not speak of this good friend of Emily's with-
out a flow of tears. It was in vain to try. He broke down
again, endeavoring to bless her!
" That done my Em'ly good," he resumed, after such
emotion as I could not behold without sharing in, and as
to my aunt, she wept with all her heart: " that done Em'ly
good, and she begun to mend. But the language of that
country was quite gone from her, and she was forced to
jnake signs. Â§0 she went on, getting better from day to
720 DAVID COPPERFIELD,
day, slow, but sure, and trying to learn the names of com-
mon things â names as she seemed never to have heerd in
all her life â till one evening come, when she was a setting
at her window, looking at a little girl at play upon the
beach. And of a sudden this child held out her hand, and
said, what would be in English, * Fisherman's daughter,
here's a shell!' â for you are to understand that they used
at first to call her ' Pretty lady,' as the general way in that
country is, and that she had taught 'em to call her * Fisher-
man's daughter,' instead. The child says of a sudden,
* Fisherman's daughter, here's a shell!' Then Em'ly un-
derstands her; and she answers, bursting out a crying; and
it all comes back!
" When Em'ly got strong again," said Mr. Peggotty, after
another short interval of silence, " she cast about to leave
that good young creetur, and get to her own country. The
husband was come home, then; and the two together put her