‘He’s a going out with the tide,’ said Mr. Peggotty to me, behind his hand.
My eyes were dim and so were Mr. Peggotty’s; but I repeated in a whisper, ‘With the tide?’
‘People can’t die, along the coast,’ said Mr. Peggotty, ‘except when the tide’s pretty nigh out. They can’t be born, unless it’s pretty nigh in – not properly born, till flood. He’s a going out with the tide. It’s ebb at half-arter three, slack water half an hour. If he lives till it turns, he’ll hold his own till past the flood, and go out with the next tide.’
We remained there, watching him, a long time – hours. What mysterious influence my presence had upon him in that state of his senses, I shall not pretend to say; but when he at last began to wander feebly, it is certain he was muttering about driving me to school.
‘He’s coming to himself,’ said Peggotty.
Mr. Peggotty touched me, and whispered with much awe and reverence. ‘They are both a-going out fast.’
‘Barkis, my dear!’ said Peggotty.
‘C. P. Barkis,’ he cried faintly. ‘No better woman anywhere!’
‘Look! Here’s Master Davy!’ said Peggotty. For he now opened his eyes.
I was on the point of asking him if he knew me, when he tried to stretch out his arm, and said to me, distinctly, with a pleasant smile: ‘Barkis is willin’!’
And, it being low water, he went out with the tide.
Charles Dickens, David Copperfield
Thanks to Austin for the submission.