~, <short of being> in a different relation to everyone about me, Peggotty excepted, ~

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park sang joon

Senior Member
The narrator recalls his childhood; he came home from the boarding school for his mother's sudden death.
Now all the funeral finished and several days have passed.
His stepfather Mr. Murdstone never cares about him and his favorite Peggotty, the only maid in his house, is being fired after several days.
Peggotty tells him that she is giving another visit at her brother's and ask him to go with her there.

If anything, short of being in a different relation to everyone about me, Peggotty excepted, could have given me a sense of pleasure at that time, it would have been this project of all others. The idea of being again surrounded by those honest faces, shining welcome on me, of renewing the peacefulness of the sweet Sunday morning, when the bells were ringing, the stones dropping in the water, and the shadow ships breaking through the mist, of roaming up and down with little Em'ly, telling her my troubles, and finding charms against them in the shells and pebbles on the beach, made a calm in m heart.
[David Copperfield by Charles Dickens]
I'd like to know if "short of being" means "unless I were."
Thank you in advance for your help.
  • Glasguensis

    Signal Modulation
    English - Scotland
    No. The structure is like this:
    If anything, short of winning the lottery, could pay off my debts, it was this job. This job is the only thing less extreme than winning the lottery which will allow me to pay off my debts.
    Here, this project is the only thing less extreme than being in a different relation with those around him which could give him a sense of pleasure.
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