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CHAPTER 30. A LOSS
I got down to Yarmouth in the evening, and went to the inn. I knew that Peggotty's spare room - my room - was likely to have occupation enough in a little while, if that great Visitor, before whose presence all the living must give place, were not already in the house; so I betook myself to the inn, and dined there, and engaged my bed.
It was ten o'clock when I went out. Many of the shops were shut, and the town was dull. When I came to Omer and Joram's, I found the shutters up, but the shop door standing open. As I could obtain a perspective view of Mr. Omer inside, smoking his pipe by the parlour door, I entered, and asked him how he was.
'Why, bless my life and soul!' said Mr. Omer, 'how do you find yourself? Take a seat. - Smoke not disagreeable, I hope?'
'By no means,' said I. 'I like it - in somebody else's pipe.'
'What, not in your own, eh?' Mr. Omer returned, laughing. 'All the better, sir. Bad habit for a young man. Take a seat. I smoke, myself, for the asthma.'
Mr. Omer had made room for me, and placed a chair. He now sat down again very much out of breath, gasping at his pipe as if it contained a supply of that necessary, without which he must perish.
'I am sorry to have heard bad news of Mr. Barkis,' said I.
Mr. Omer looked at me, with a steady countenance, and shook his head.
'Do you know how he is tonight?' I asked.
'The very question I should have put to you, sir,' returned Mr. Omer, 'but on account of delicacy. It's one of the drawbacks of our line of business. When a party's ill, we can't ask how the party is.'
The difficulty had not occurred to me; though I had had my apprehensions too, when I went in, of hearing the old tune. On its being mentioned, I recognized it, however, and said as much.
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