Saturday, March 21, 2009

The quote printed below is from Chapter 55, a powerful description of a storm along the coast near Yarmouth -- a storm which took the lives of two of David's great friends, Ham Peggotty and James Steerforth. In the passage below, David has just seen the body of Ham, dragged in to shore after a failed attempt to rescue Steerforth, and now someone has come to tell him of another body.

As I sat beside the bed, when hope was abandoned and all was 
done, a fisherman, who had known me when Emily and I were
children, and ever since, whispered my name at the door.

'Sir,' said he, with tears starting to his weatherbeaten face,
which, with his trembling lips, was ashy pale, 'will you come over

The old remembrance that had been recalled to me was in his
look. I asked him, terror-stricken, leaning on the arm he held out
to support me--

'Has a body come ashore?'

He said, 'Yes.'

'Do I know it?' I asked then.

He answered nothing.

But, he led me to the shore. And on that part of it where she
and I had looked for shells, two children--on that part of it where
some lighter fragments of the old boat, blown down last night, had
been scattered by the wind--among the ruins of the home he had
wronged--I saw him lying with his head upon his arm, as I had
often seen him lie at school.

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