We were both very much surprised, coming higher up, to find my outer door standing open (which I had shut) and to hear voices inside.
We looked at one another, without knowing what to make of this, and went into the sitting-room. What was my amazement to find, of all people upon earth, my aunt there, and Mr. Dick! My aunt sitting on a quantity of luggage, with her two birds before her, and her cat on her knee, like a female Robinson Crusoe, drinking tea. Mr. Dick leaning thoughtfully on a great kite, such as we had often been out together to fly, with more luggage piled about him!
'My dear aunt!' cried I. 'Why, what an unexpected pleasure!'
We cordially embraced; and Mr. Dick and I cordially shook hands; and Mrs. Crupp, who was busy making tea, and could not be too attentive, cordially said she had knowed well as Mr. Copperfull would have his heart in his mouth, when he see his dear relations.
'Holloa!' said my aunt to Peggotty, who quailed before her awful presence. 'How are YOU?'
'You remember my aunt, Peggotty?' said I.
'For the love of goodness, child,' exclaimed my aunt, 'don't call the woman by that South Sea Island name! If she married and got rid of it, which was the best thing she could do, why don't you give her the benefit of the change? What's your name now, - P?' said my aunt, as a compromise for the obnoxious appellation.
'Barkis, ma'am,' said Peggotty, with a curtsey.
'Well! That's human,' said my aunt. 'It sounds less as if you wanted a missionary. How d'ye do, Barkis? I hope you're well?'
Encouraged by these gracious words, and by my aunt's extending her hand, Barkis came forward, and took the hand, and curtseyed her acknowledgements.
'We are older than we were, I see,' said my aunt. 'We have only met each other once before, you know. A nice business we made of it then! Trot, my dear, another cup.'
From Chapter XXXIV:
"My Aunt Astonishes Me"
My Aunt Astonishes Me
Phiz Illustrations Home