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Great Expectations by Charles Dickens

 

July, 1998 [Etext #1400]

 

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GREAT EXPECTATIONS [1867 Edition]

 

by Charles Dickens

 

Chapter I

 

My father's family name being Pirrip, and my Christian name Philip,

 

my infant tongue could make of both names nothing longer or more

 

explicit than Pip. So, I called myself Pip, and came to be called

 

Pip.

 

I give Pirrip as my father's family name, on the authority of his

 

tombstone and my sister,--Mrs. Joe Gargery, who married the

 

blacksmith. As I never saw my father or my mother, and never saw

 

any likeness of either of them (for their days were long before the days of photographs), my first fancies regarding what they were

 

like were unreasonably derived from their tombstones. The shape of

 

the letters on my father's, gave me an odd idea that he was a

 

square, stout, dark man, with curly black hair. From the character

 

and turn of the inscription, "Also Georgiana Wife of the Above," I

 

drew a childish conclusion that my mother was freckled and sickly.

 

To five little stone lozenges, each about a foot and a half long,

 

which were arranged in a neat row beside their grave, and were

 

sacred to the memory of five little brothers of mine,--who gave up

 

trying to get a living, exceedingly early in that universal

 

struggle,--I am indebted for a belief I religiously entertained

 

that they had all been born on their backs with their hands in

 

their trousers-pockets, and had never taken them out in this state

 

of existence.

 

Ours was the marsh country, down by the river, within, as the river

 

wound, twenty miles of the sea. My first most vivid and broad

 

impression of the identity of things seems to me to have been

 

gained on a memorable raw afternoon towards evening. At such a time

 

I found out for certain that this bleak place overgrown with

 

nettles was the churchyard; and that Philip Pirrip, late of this

 

parish, and also Georgiana wife of the above, were dead and buried;

 

and that Alexander, Bartholomew, Abraham, Tobias, and Roger, infant

 

children of the aforesaid, were also dead and buried; and that the

 

dark flat wilderness beyond the churchyard, intersected with dikes and mounds and gates, with scattered cattle feeding on it, was the

 

marshes; and that the low leaden line beyond was the river; and

 

that the distant savage lair from which the wind was rushing was

 

the sea; and that the small bundle of shivers growing afraid of it

 

all and beginning to cry, was Pip.

 

"Hold your noise!" cried a terrible voice, as a man started up from

 

among the graves at the side of the church porch. "Keep still, you

 

little devil, or I'll cut your throat!"

 

A fearful man, all in coarse gray, with a great iron on his leg. A

 

man with no hat, and with broken shoes, and with an old rag tied

 

round his head. A man who had been soaked in water, and smothered

 

in mud, and lamed by stones, and cut by flints, and stung by

 

nettles, and torn by briars; who limped, and shivered, and glared,

 

and growled; and whose teeth chattered in his head as he seized me

 

by the chin.

 

"Oh! Don't cut my throat, sir," I pleaded in terror. "Pray don't do

 

it, sir."

 

"Tell us your name!" said the man. "Quick!"

 

"Pip, sir." "Once more," said the man, staring at me. "Give it mouth!"

 

"Pip. Pip, sir."

 

"Show us where you live," said the man. "Pint out the place!"

 

I pointed to where our village lay, on the flat in-shore among the

 

alder-trees and pollards, a mile or more from the church.

 

The man, after looking at me for a moment, turned me upside down,

 

and emptied my pockets. There was nothing in them but a piece of

 

bread. When the church came to itself,--for he was so sudden and

 

strong that he made it go head over heels before me, and I saw the

 

steeple under my feet,--when the church came to itself, I say, I

 

was seated on a high tombstone, trembling while he ate the bread

 

ravenously.

 

"You young dog," said the man, licking his lips, "what fat cheeks

 

you ha' got."

 

I believe they were fat, though I was at that time undersized for

 

my years, and not strong.

 

"Darn me if I couldn't eat em," said the man, with a threatening

 

shake of his head, "and if I han't half a mind to't!" I earnestly expressed my hope that he wouldn't, and held tighter to

 

the tombstone on which he had put me; partly, to keep myself upon

 

it; partly, to keep myself from crying.

 

"Now lookee here!" said the man. "Where's your mother?"

 

"There, sir!" said I.

 

He started, made a short run, and stopped and looked over his

 

shoulder.

 

"There, sir!" I timidly explained. "Also Georgiana. That's my

 

mother."

 

"Oh!" said he, coming back. "And is that your father alonger your

 

mother?"

 

"Yes, sir," said I; "him too; late of this parish."

 

"Ha!" he muttered then, considering. "Who d'ye live with,--

 

supposin' you're kindly let to live, which I han't made up my mind

 

about?"

 

"My sister, sir,--Mrs. Joe Gargery,--wife of Joe Gargery, the blacksmith, sir."

 

"Blacksmith, eh?" said he. And looked down at his leg.

 

After darkly looking at his leg and me several times, he came

 

closer to my tombstone, took me by both arms, and tilted me back as

 

far as he could hold me; so that his eyes looked most powerfully

 

down into mine, and mine looked most helplessly up into his.

 

"Now lookee here," he said, "the question being whether you're to

 

be let to live. You know what a file is?"

 

"Yes, sir."

 

"And you know what wittles is?"

 

"Yes, sir."

 

After each question he tilted me over a little more, so as to give

 

me a greater sense of helplessness and danger.

 

"You get me a file." He tilted me again. "And you get me wittles."

 

He tilted me again. "You bring 'em both to me." He tilted me again.

 

"Or I'll have your heart and liver out." He tilted me again. I was dreadfully frightened, and so giddy that I clung to him with

 

both hands, and said, "If you would kindly please to let me keep

 

upright, sir, perhaps I shouldn't be sick, and perhaps I could

 

attend more."

 

He gave me a most tremendous dip and roll, so that the church

 

jumped over its own weathercock. Then, he held me by the arms, in

 

an upright position on the top of the stone, and went on in these

 

fearful terms:--

 

"You bring me, to-morrow morning early, that file and them wittles.

 

You bring the lot to me, at that old Battery over yonder. You do

 

it, and you never dare to say a word or dare to make a sign

 

concerning your having seen such a person as me, or any person

 

sumever, and you shall be let to live. You fail, or you go from my

 

words in any partickler, no matter how small it is, and your heart

 

and your liver shall be tore out, roasted, and ate. Now, I ain't

 

alone, as you may think I am. There's a young man hid with me, in

 

comparison with which young man I am a Angel. That young man hears

 

the words I speak. That young man has a secret way pecooliar to

 

himself, of getting at a boy, and at his heart, and at his liver.

 

It is in wain for a boy to attempt to hide himself from that young

 

man. A boy may lock his door, may be warm in bed, may tuck himself

 

up, may draw the clothes over his head, may think himself

 

comfortable and safe, but that young man will softly creep and creep his way to him and tear him open. I am a keeping that young

 

man from harming of you at the present moment, with great

 

difficulty. I find it wery hard to hold that young man off of your

 

inside. Now, what do you say?"

 

I said that I would get him the file, and I would get him what

 

broken bits of food I could, and I would come to him at the

 

Battery, early in the morning.

 

"Say Lord strike you dead if you don't!" said the man.

 

I said so, and he took me down.

 

"Now," he pursued, "you remember what you've undertook, and you

 

remember that young man, and you get home!"

 

"Goo-good night, sir," I faltered.

 

"Much of that!" said he, glancing about him over the cold wet flat.

 

"I wish I was a frog. Or a eel!"

 

At the same time, he hugged his shuddering body in both his arms,--

 

clasping himself, as if to hold himself together,--and limped

 

towards the low church wall. As I saw him go, picking his way among

 

the nettles, and among the brambles that bound the green mounds, he looked in my young eyes as if he were eluding the hands of the dead

 

people, stretching up cautiously out of their graves, to get a

 

twist upon his ankle and pull him in.

 

When he came to the low church wall, he got over it, like a man

 

whose legs were numbed and stiff, and then turned round to look for

 

me. When I saw him turning, I set my face towards home, and made

 

the best use of my legs. But presently I looked over my shoulder,

 

and saw him going on again towards the river, still hugging himself

 

in both arms, and picking his way with his sore feet among the

 

great stones dropped into the marshes here and there, for

 

stepping-places when the rains were heavy or the tide was in.

 

The marshes were just a long black horizontal line then, as I

 

stopped to look after him; and the river was just another

 

horizontal line, not nearly so broad nor yet so black; and the sky

 

was just a row of long angry red lines and dense black lines

 

intermixed. On the edge of the river I could faintly make out the

 

only two black things in all the prospect that seemed to be

 

standing upright; one of these was the beacon by which the sailors

 

steered,--like an unhooped cask upon a pole,--an ugly thing when

 

you were near it; the other, a gibbet, with some chains hanging to

 

it which had once held a pirate. The man was limping on towards

 

this latter, as if he were the pirate come to life, and come down,

 

and going back to hook himself up again. It gave me a terrible turn when I thought so; and as I saw the cattle lifting their heads to

 

gaze after him, I wondered whether they thought so too. I looked

 

all round for the horrible young man, and could see no signs of

 

him. But now I was frightened again, and ran home without

 

stopping.

 

Chapter II

 

My sister, Mrs. Joe Gargery, was more than twenty years older than

 

I, and had established a great reputation with herself and the

 

neighbors because she had brought me up "by hand." Having at that

 

time to find out for myself what the expression meant, and knowing

 

her to have a hard and heavy hand, and to be much in the habit of

 

laying it upon her husband as well as upon me, I supposed that Joe

 

Gargery and I were both brought up by hand.

 

She was not a good-looking woman, my sister; and I had a general

 

impression that she must have made Joe Gargery marry her by hand.

 

Joe was a fair man, with curls of flaxen hair on each side of his

 

smooth face, and with eyes of such a very undecided blue that they

 

seemed to have somehow got mixed with their own whites. He was a

 

mild, good-natured, sweet-tempered, easy-going, foolish, dear

 

fellow,--a sort of Hercules in strength, and also in weakness. My sister, Mrs. Joe, with black hair and eyes, had such a prevailing

 

redness of skin that I sometimes used to wonder whether it was

 

possible she washed herself with a nutmeg-grater instead of soap.

 

She was tall and bony, and almost always wore a coarse apron,

 

fastened over her figure behind with two loops, and having a square

 

impregnable bib in front, that was stuck full of pins and needles.

 

She made it a powerful merit in herself, and a strong reproach

 

against Joe, that she wore this apron so much. Though I really see

 

no reason why she should have worn it at all; or why, if she did

 

wear it at all, she should not have taken it off, every day of her

 

life.

 

Joe's forge adjoined our house, which was a wooden house, as many

 

of the dwellings in our country were,--most of them, at that time.

 

When I ran home from the churchyard, the forge was shut up, and Joe

 

was sitting alone in the kitchen. Joe and I being fellow-sufferers,

 

and having confidences as such, Joe imparted a confidence to me,

 

the moment I raised the latch of the door and peeped in at him

 

opposite to it, sitting in the chimney corner.

 

"Mrs. Joe has been out a dozen times, looking for you, Pip. And

 

she's out now, making it a baker's dozen."

 

"Is she?" "Yes, Pip," said Joe; "and what's worse, she's got Tickler with

 

her."

 

At this dismal intelligence, I twisted the only button on my

 

waistcoat round and round, and looked in great depression at the

 

fire. Tickler was a wax-ended piece of cane, worn smooth by

 

collision with my tickled frame.

 

"She sot down," said Joe, "and she got up, and she made a grab at

 

Tickler, and she Ram-paged out. That's what she did," said Joe,

 

slowly clearing the fire between the lower bars with the poker, and

 

looking at it; "she Ram-paged out, Pip."

 

"Has she been gone long, Joe?" I always treated him as a larger

 

species of child, and as no more than my equal.

 

"Well," said Joe, glancing up at the Dutch clock, "she's been on

 

the Ram-page, this last spell, about five minutes, Pip. She's a

 

coming! Get behind the door, old chap, and have the jack-towel

 

betwixt you."

 

I took the advice. My sister, Mrs. Joe, throwing the door wide open,

 

and finding an obstruction behind it, immediately divined the

 

cause, and applied Tickler to its further investigation. She

 

concluded by throwing me--I often served as a connubial missile-at Joe, who, glad to get hold of me on any terms, passed me on into

 

the chimney and quietly fenced me up there with his great leg.

 

"Where have you been, you young monkey?" said Mrs. Joe, stamping her

 

foot. "Tell me directly what you've been doing to wear me away with

 

fret and fright and worrit, or I'd have you out of that corner if

 

you was fifty Pips, and he was five hundred Gargerys."

 

"I have only been to the churchyard," said I, from my stool, crying

 

and rubbing myself.

 

"Churchyard!" repeated my sister. "If it warn't for me you'd have

 

been to the churchyard long ago, and stayed there. Who brought you

 

up by hand?"

 

"You did," said I.

 

"And why did I do it, I should like to know?" exclaimed my sister.

 

I whimpered, "I don't know."

 

"I don't!" said my sister. "I'd never do it again! I know that. I

 

may truly say I've never had this apron of mine off since born you

 

were. It's bad enough to be a blacksmith's wife (and him a Gargery)

 

without being your mother." My thoughts strayed from that question as I looked disconsolately

 

at the fire. For the fugitive out on the marshes with the ironed

 

leg, the mysterious young man, the file, the food, and the dreadful

 

pledge I was under to commit a larceny on those sheltering

 

premises, rose before me in the avenging coals.

 

"Hah!" said Mrs. Joe, restoring Tickler to his station. "Churchyard,

 

indeed! You may well say churchyard, you two." One of us,

 

by the by, had not said it at all. "You'll drive me to the

 

churchyard betwixt you, one of these days, and O, a pr-r-recious

 

pair you'd be without me!"

 

As she applied herself to set the tea-things, Joe peeped down at me

 

over his leg, as if he were mentally casting me and himself up, and

 

calculating what kind of pair we practically should make, under the

 

grievous circumstances foreshadowed. After that, he sat feeling his

 

right-side flaxen curls and whisker, and following Mrs. Joe about

 

with his blue eyes, as his manner always was at squally times.

 

My sister had a trenchant way of cutting our bread and butter for

 

us, that never varied. First, with her left hand she jammed the

 

loaf hard and fast against her bib,--where it sometimes got a pin

 

into it, and sometimes a needle, which we afterwards got into our

 

mouths. Then she took some butter (not too much) on a knife and spread it on the loaf, in an apothecary kind of way, as if she were

 

making a plaster,--using both sides of the knife with a slapping

 

dexterity, and trimming and moulding the butter off round the

 

crust. Then, she gave the knife a final smart wipe on the edge of

 

the plaster, and then sawed a very thick round off the loaf: which

 

she finally, before separating from the loaf, hewed into two

 

halves, of which Joe got one, and I the other.

 

On the present occasion, though I was hungry, I dared not eat my

 

slice. I felt that I must have something in reserve for my dreadful

 

acquaintance, and his ally the still more dreadful young man. I

 

knew Mrs. Joe's housekeeping to be of the strictest kind, and that

 

my larcenous researches might find nothing available in the safe.

 

Therefore I resolved to put my hunk of bread and butter down the

 

leg of my trousers.

 

The effort of resolution necessary to the achievement of this

 

purpose I found to be quite awful. It was as if I had to make up

 

my mind to leap from the top of a high house, or plunge into a

 

great depth of water. And it was made the more difficult by the

 

unconscious Joe. In our already-mentioned freemasonry as

 

fellow-sufferers, and in his good-natured companionship with me, it

 

was our evening habit to compare the way we bit through our slices,

 

by silently holding them up to each other's admiration now and then,

 

--which stimulated us to new exertions. To-night, Joe several times invited me, by the display of his fast diminishing slice, to enter

 

upon our usual friendly competition; but he found me, each time,

 

with my yellow mug of tea on one knee, and my untouched

 

bread and butter on the other. At last, I desperately considered

 

that the thing I contemplated must be done, and that it had best be

 

done in the least improbable manner consistent with the

 

circumstances. I took advantage of a moment when Joe had just

 

looked at me, and got my bread and butter down my leg.

 

Joe was evidently made uncomfortable by what he supposed to be my

 

loss of appetite, and took a thoughtful bite out of his slice,

 

which he didn't seem to enjoy. He turned it about in his mouth much

 

longer than usual, pondering over it a good deal, and after all

 

gulped it down like a pill. He was about to take another bite, and

 

had just got his head on one side for a good purchase on it, when

 

his eye fell on me, and he saw that my bread and butter was gone.

 

The wonder and consternation with which Joe stopped on the

 

threshold of his bite and stared at me, were too evident to escape

 

my sister's observation.

 

"What's the matter now?" said she, smartly, as she put down her

 

cup.

 

"I say, you know!" muttered Joe, shaking his head at me in very serious remonstrance. "Pip, old chap! You'll do yourself a

 

mischief. It'll stick somewhere. You can't have chawed it, Pip."

 

"What's the matter now?" repeated my sister, more sharply than

 

before.

 

"If you can cough any trifle on it up, Pip, I'd recommend you to do

 

it," said Joe, all aghast. "Manners is manners, but still your

 

elth's your elth."

 

By this time, my sister was quite desperate, so she pounced on Joe,

 

and, taking him by the two whiskers, knocked his head for a little

 

while against the wall behind him, while I sat in the corner,

 

looking guiltily on.

 

"Now, perhaps you'll mention what's the matter," said my sister,

 

out of breath, "you staring great stuck pig."

 

Joe looked at her in a helpless way, then took a helpless bite, and

 

looked at me again.

 

"You know, Pip," said Joe, solemnly, with his last bite in his

 

cheek, and speaking in a confidential voice, as if we two were quite

 

alone, "you and me is always friends, and I'd be the last to tell

 

upon you, any time. But such a--" he moved his chair and looked about the floor between us, and then again at me--"such a most

 

oncommon Bolt as that!"

 

"Been bolting his food, has he?" cried my sister.

 

"You know, old chap," said Joe, looking at me, and not at Mrs. Joe,

 

with his bite still in his cheek, "I Bolted, myself, when I was

 

your age--frequent--and as a boy I've been among a many Bolters;

 

but I never see your Bolting equal yet, Pip, and it's a mercy you

 

ain't Bolted dead."

 

My sister made a dive at me, and fished me up by the hair, saying

 

nothing more than the awful words, "You come along and be dosed."

 

Some medical beast had revived Tar-water in those days as a fine

 

medicine, and Mrs. Joe always kept a supply of it in the cupboard;

 

having a belief in its virtues correspondent to its nastiness. At

 

the best of times, so much of this elixir was administered to me as

 

a choice restorative, that I was conscious of going about, smelling

 

like a new fence. On this particular evening the urgency of my case

 

demanded a pint of this mixture, which was poured down my throat,

 

for my greater comfort, while Mrs. Joe held my head under her arm,

 

as a boot would be held in a bootjack. Joe got off with half a

 

pint; but was made to swallow that (much to his disturbance, as he

 

sat slowly munching and meditating before the fire), "because he had had a turn." Judging from myself, I should say he certainly had a

 

turn afterwards, if he had had none before.

 

Conscience is a dreadful thing when it accuses man or boy; but

 

when, in the case of a boy, that secret burden co-operates with

 

another secret burden down the leg of his trousers, it is (as I can

 

testify) a great punishment. The guilty knowledge that I was going

 

to rob Mrs. Joe--I never thought I was going to rob Joe, for I

 

never thought of any of the housekeeping property as his--united

 

to the necessity of always keeping one hand on my bread and butter

 

as I sat, or when I was ordered about the kitchen on any small

 

errand, almost drove me out of my mind. Then, as the marsh winds

 

made the fire glow and flare, I thought I heard the voice outside,

 

of the man with the iron on his leg who had sworn me to secrecy,

 

declaring that he couldn't and wouldn't starve until to-morrow, but

 

must be fed now. At other times, I thought, What if the young man

 

who was with so much difficulty restrained from imbruing his hands

 

in me should yield to a constitutional impatience, or should

 

mistake the time, and should think himself accredited to my heart

 

and liver to-night, instead of to-morrow! If ever anybody's hair

 

stood on end with terror, mine must have done so then. But,

 

perhaps, nobody's ever did?

 

It was Christmas Eve, and I had to stir the pudding for next day,

 

with a copper-stick, from seven to eight by the Dutch clock. I tried it with the load upon my leg (and that made me think afresh

 

of the man with the load on his leg), and found the tendency of

 

exercise to bring the bread and butter out at my ankle, quite

 

unmanageable. Happily I slipped away, and deposited that part of

 

my conscience in my garret bedroom.

 

"Hark!" said I, when I had done my stirring, and was taking a final

 

warm in the chimney corner before being sent up to bed; "was that

 

great guns, Joe?"

 

"Ah!" said Joe. "There's another conwict off."

 

"What does that mean, Joe?" said I.

 

Mrs. Joe, who always took explanations upon herself, said,

 

snappishly, "Escaped. Escaped." Administering the definition like

 

Tar-water.

 

While Mrs. Joe sat with her head bending over her needlework, I put

 

my mouth into the forms of saying to Joe, "What's a convict?" Joe

 

put his mouth into the forms of returning such a highly elaborate

 

answer, that I could make out nothing of it but the single word

 

"Pip."

 

"There was a conwict off last night," said Joe, aloud, "after sunset-gun. And they fired warning of him. And now it appears

 

they're firing warning of another."

 

"Who's firing?" said I.

 

"Drat that boy," interposed my sister, frowning at me over her

 

work, "what a questioner he is. Ask no questions, and you'll be

 

told no lies."

 

It was not very polite to herself, I thought, to imply that I should

 

be told lies by her even if I did ask questions. But she never was

 

polite unless there was company.

 

At this point Joe greatly augmented my curiosity by taking the

 

utmost pains to open his mouth very wide, and to put it into the

 

form of a word that looked to me like "sulks." Therefore, I

 

naturally pointed to Mrs. Joe, and put my mouth into the form of

 

saying, "her?" But Joe wouldn't hear of that, at all, and again

 

opened his mouth very wide, and shook the form of a most emphatic

 

word out of it. But I could make nothing of the word.

 

"Mrs. Joe," said I, as a last resort, "I should like to know--if

 

you wouldn't much mind--where the firing comes from?"

 

"Lord bless the boy!" exclaimed my sister, as if she didn't quite mean that but rather the contrary. "From the Hulks!"

 

"Oh-h!" said I, looking at Joe. "Hulks!"

 

Joe gave a reproachful cough, as much as to say, "Well, I told you

 

so."

 

"And please, what's Hulks?" said I.

 

"That's the way with this boy!" exclaimed my sister, pointing me

 

out with her needle and thread, and shaking her head at me. "Answer

 

him one question, and he'll ask you a dozen directly. Hulks are

 

prison-ships, right 'cross th' meshes." We always used that name

 

for marshes, in our country.

 

"I wonder who's put into prison-ships, and why they're put there?"

 

said I, in a general way, and with quiet desperation.

 

It was too much for Mrs. Joe, who immediately rose. "I tell you

 

what, young fellow," said she, "I didn't bring you up by hand to

 

badger people's lives out. It would be blame to me and not praise,

 

if I had. People are put in the Hulks because they murder, and

 

because they rob, and forge, and do all sorts of bad; and they

 

always begin by asking questions. Now, you get along to bed!" I was never allowed a candle to light me to bed, and, as I went

 

up stairs in the dark, with my head tingling,--from Mrs. Joe's

 

thimble having played the tambourine upon it, to accompany her last

 

words,--I felt fearfully sensible of the great convenience that the

 

hulks were handy for me. I was clearly on my way there. I had begun

 

by asking questions, and I was going to rob Mrs. Joe.

 

Since that time, which is far enough away now, I have often thought

 

that few people know what secrecy there is in the young under

 

terror. No matter how unreasonable the terror, so that it be

 

terror. I was in mortal terror of the young man who wanted my heart

 

and liver; I was in mortal terror of my interlocutor with the

 

iron leg; I was in mortal terror of myself, from whom an awful

 

promise had been extracted; I had no hope of deliverance through my

 

all-powerful sister, who repulsed me at every turn; I am afraid to

 

think of what I might have done on requirement, in the secrecy of

 

my terror.

 

If I slept at all that night, it was only to imagine myself

 

drifting down the river on a strong spring-tide, to the Hulks; a

 

ghostly pirate calling out to me through a speaking-trumpet, as I

 

passed the gibbet-station, that I had better come ashore and be

 

hanged there at once, and not put it off. I was afraid to sleep,

 

even if I had been inclined, for I knew that at the first faint

 

dawn of morning I must rob the pantry. There was no doing it in the night, for there was no getting a light by easy friction then; to

 

have got one I must have struck it out of flint and steel, and

 

have made a noise like the very pirate himself rattling his chains.

 

As soon as the great black velvet pall outside my little window was

 

shot with gray, I got up and went down stairs; every board upon the

 

way, and every crack in every board calling after me, "Stop

 

thief!" and "Get up, Mrs. Joe!" In the pantry, which was far more

 

abundantly supplied than usual, owing to the season, I was very

 

much alarmed by a hare hanging up by the heels, whom I rather

 

thought I caught when my back was half turned, winking. I had no

 

time for verification, no time for selection, no time for anything,

 

for I had no time to spare. I stole some bread, some rind of

 

cheese, about half a jar of mincemeat (which I tied up in my

 

pocket-handkerchief with my last night's slice), some brandy from a

 

stone bottle (which I decanted into a glass bottle I had secretly

 

used for making that intoxicating fluid, Spanish-liquorice-water,

 

up in my room: diluting the stone bottle from a jug in the kitchen

 

cupboard), a meat bone with very little on it, and a beautiful

 

round compact pork pie. I was nearly going away without the pie,

 

but I was tempted to mount upon a shelf, to look what it was that

 

was put away so carefully in a covered earthen ware dish in a

 

corner, and I found it was the pie, and I took it in the hope that

 

it was not intended for early use, and would not be missed for some

 

time. There was a door in the kitchen, communicating with the forge; I

 

unlocked and unbolted that door, and got a file from among Joe's

 

tools. Then I put the fastenings as I had found them, opened the

 

door at which I had entered when I ran home last night, shut it,

 

and ran for the misty marshes.

 

Chapter III

 

It was a rimy morning, and very damp. I had seen the damp lying on

 

the outside of my little window, as if some goblin had been crying

 

there all night, and using the window for a pocket-handkerchief.

 

Now, I saw the damp lying on the bare hedges and spare grass, like

 

a coarser sort of spiders' webs; hanging itself from twig to twig

 

and blade to blade. On every rail and gate, wet lay clammy, and the

 

marsh mist was so thick, that the wooden finger on the post

 

directing people to our village--a direction which they never

 

accepted, for they never came there--was invisible to me until I

 

was quite close under it. Then, as I looked up at it, while it

 

dripped, it seemed to my oppressed conscience like a phantom

 

devoting me to the Hulks.

 

The mist was heavier yet when I got out upon the marshes, so that

 

instead of my running at everything, everything seemed to run at me. This was very disagreeable to a guilty mind. The gates and

 

dikes and banks came bursting at me through the mist, as if they

 

cried as plainly as could be, "A boy with Somebody's else's pork pie!

 

Stop him!" The cattle came upon me with like suddenness, staring

 

out of their eyes, and steaming out of their nostrils, "Halloa,

 

young thief!" One black ox, with a white cravat on,--who even had

 

to my awakened conscience something of a clerical air,--fixed me so

 

obstinately with his eyes, and moved his blunt head round in such

 

an accusatory manner as I moved round, that I blubbered out to him,

 

"I couldn't help it, sir! It wasn't for myself I took it!" Upon

 

which he put down his head, blew a cloud of smoke out of his nose,

 

and vanished with a kick-up of his hind-legs and a flourish of his

 

tail.

 

All this time, I was getting on towards the river; but however fast

 

I went, I couldn't warm my feet, to which the damp cold seemed

 

riveted, as the iron was riveted to the leg of the man I was

 

running to meet. I knew my way to the Battery, pretty straight, for

 

I had been down there on a Sunday with Joe, and Joe, sitting on an

 

old gun, had told me that when I was 'prentice to him, regularly

 

bound, we would have such Larks there! However, in the confusion of

 

the mist, I found myself at last too far to the right, and

 

consequently had to try back along the river-side, on the bank of

 

loose stones above the mud and the stakes that staked the tide out.

 

Making my way along here with all despatch, I had just crossed a ditch which I knew to be very near the Battery, and had just

 

scrambled up the mound beyond the ditch, when I saw the man sitting

 

before me. His back was towards me, and he had his arms folded, and

 

was nodding forward, heavy with sleep.

 

I thought he would be more glad if I came upon him with his

 

breakfast, in that unexpected manner, so I went forward softly and

 

touched him on the shoulder. He instantly jumped up, and it was not

 

the same man, but another man!

 

And yet this man was dressed in coarse gray, too, and had a great

 

iron on his leg, and was lame, and hoarse, and cold, and was

 

everything that the other man was; except that he had not the same

 

face, and had a flat broad-brimmed low-crowned felt that on. All

 

this I saw in a moment, for I had only a moment to see it in: he

 

swore an oath at me, made a hit at me,--it was a round weak blow

 

that missed me and almost knocked himself down, for it made him

 

stumble,--and then he ran into the mist, stumbling twice as he went,

 

and I lost him.

 

"It's the young man!" I thought, feeling my heart shoot as I

 

identified him. I dare say I should have felt a pain in my liver,

 

too, if I had known where it was.

 

I was soon at the Battery after that, and there was the right Man,--hugging himself and limping to and fro, as if he had never all

 

night left off hugging and limping,--waiting for me. He was awfully

 

cold, to be sure. I half expected to see him drop down before my

 

face and die of deadly cold. His eyes looked so awfully hungry

 

too, that when I handed him the file and he laid it down on the

 

grass, it occurred to me he would have tried to eat it, if he had

 

not seen my bundle. He did not turn me upside down this time to

 

get at what I had, but left me right side upwards while I opened

 

the bundle and emptied my pockets.

 

"What's in the bottle, boy?" said he.

 

"Brandy," said I.

 

He was already handing mincemeat down his throat in the most

 

curious manner,--more like a man who was putting it away somewhere

 

in a violent hurry, than a man who was eating it,--but he left off

 

to take some of the liquor. He shivered all the while so

 

violently, that it was quite as much as he could do to keep the

 

neck of the bottle between his teeth, without biting it off.

 

"I think you have got the ague," said I.

 

"I'm much of your opinion, boy," said he. "It's bad about here," I told him. "You've been lying out on the

 

meshes, and they're dreadful aguish. Rheumatic too."

 

"I'll eat my breakfast afore they're the death of me," said he.

 

"I'd do that, if I was going to be strung up to that there gallows

 

as there is over there, directly afterwards. I'll beat the shivers

 

so far, I'll bet you."

 

He was gobbling mincemeat, meatbone, bread, cheese, and pork pie,

 

all at once: staring distrustfully while he did so at the mist all

 

round us, and often stopping--even stopping his jaws--to listen.

 

Some real or fancied sound, some clink upon the river or breathing

 

of beast upon the marsh, now gave him a start, and he said,

 

suddenly,-

 

"You're not a deceiving imp? You brought no one with you?"

 

"No, sir! No!"

 

"Nor giv' no one the office to follow you?"

 

"No!"

 

"Well," said he, "I believe you. You'd be but a fierce young hound

 

indeed, if at your time of life you could help to hunt a wretched warmint hunted as near death and dunghill as this poor wretched

 

warmint is!"

 

Something clicked in his throat as if he had works in him like a

 

clock, and was going to strike. And he smeared his ragged rough

 

sleeve over his eyes.

 

Pitying his desolation, and watching him as he gradually settled

 

down upon the pie, I made bold to say, "I am glad you enjoy it."

 

"Did you speak?"

 

"I said I was glad you enjoyed it."

 

"Thankee, my boy. I do."

 

I had often watched a large dog of ours eating his food; and I now

 

noticed a decided similarity between the dog's way of eating, and

 

the man's. The man took strong sharp sudden bites, just like the

 

dog. He swallowed, or rather snapped up, every mouthful, too soon

 

and too fast; and he looked sideways here and there while he ate,

 

as if he thought there was danger in every direction of somebody's

 

coming to take the pie away. He was altogether too unsettled in his

 

mind over it, to appreciate it comfortably I thought, or to have

 

anybody to dine with him, without making a chop with his jaws at the visitor. In all of which particulars he was very like the dog.

 

"I am afraid you won't leave any of it for him," said I, timidly;

 

after a silence during which I had hesitated as to the politeness

 

of making the remark. "There's no more to be got where that came

 

from." It was the certainty of this fact that impelled me to offer

 

the hint.

 

"Leave any for him? Who's him?" said my friend, stopping in his

 

crunching of pie-crust.

 

"The young man. That you spoke of. That was hid with you."

 

"Oh ah!" he returned, with something like a gruff laugh. "Him? Yes,

 

yes! He don't want no wittles."

 

"I thought he looked as if he did," said I.

 

The man stopped eating, and regarded me with the keenest scrutiny

 

and the greatest surprise.

 

"Looked? When?"

 

"Just now." "Where?"

 

"Yonder," said I, pointing; "over there, where I found him nodding

 

asleep, and thought it was you."

 

He held me by the collar and stared at me so, that I began to think

 

his first idea about cutting my throat had revived.

 

"Dressed like you, you know, only with a hat," I explained,

 

trembling; "and--and"--I was very anxious to put this delicately

 

--"and with--the same reason for wanting to borrow a file. Didn't

 

you hear the cannon last night?"

 

"Then there was firing!" he said to himself.

 

"I wonder you shouldn't have been sure of that," I returned, "for

 

we heard it up at home, and that's farther away, and we were shut

 

in besides."

 

"Why, see now!" said he. "When a man's alone on these flats, with a

 

light head and a light stomach, perishing of cold and want, he

 

hears nothin' all night, but guns firing, and voices calling.

 

Hears? He sees the soldiers, with their red coats lighted up by the

 

torches carried afore, closing in round him. Hears his number

 

called, hears himself challenged, hears the rattle of the muskets, hears the orders 'Make ready! Present! Cover him steady, men!' and

 

is laid hands on--and there's nothin'! Why, if I see one pursuing

 

party last night--coming up in order, Damn 'em, with their tramp,

 

tramp--I see a hundred. And as to firing! Why, I see the mist

 

shake with the cannon, arter it was broad day,--But this man"; he

 

had said all the rest, as if he had forgotten my being there; "did

 

you notice anything in him?"

 

"He had a badly bruised face," said I, recalling what I hardly knew

 

I knew.

 

"Not here?" exclaimed the man, striking his left cheek mercilessly,

 

with the flat of his hand.

 

"Yes, there!"

 

"Where is he?" He crammed what little food was left, into the

 

breast of his gray jacket. "Show me the way he went. I'll pull him

 

down, like a bloodhound. Curse this iron on my sore leg! Give us

 

hold of the file, boy."

 

I indicated in what direction the mist had shrouded the other man,

 

and he looked up at it for an instant. But he was down on the rank

 

wet grass, filing at his iron like a madman, and not minding me or

 

minding his own leg, which had an old chafe upon it and was bloody, but which he handled as roughly as if it had no more feeling in it

 

than the file. I was very much afraid of him again, now that he had

 

worked himself into this fierce hurry, and I was likewise very much

 

afraid of keeping away from home any longer. I told him I must go,

 

but he took no notice, so I thought the best thing I could do was

 

to slip off. The last I saw of him, his head was bent over his knee

 

and he was working hard at his fetter, muttering impatient

 

imprecations at it and at his leg. The last I heard of him, I

 

stopped in the mist to listen, and the file was still going.

 

Chapter IV

 

I fully expected to find a Constable in the kitchen, waiting to

 

take me up. But not only was there no Constable there, but no

 

discovery had yet been made of the robbery. Mrs. Joe was

 

prodigiously busy in getting the house ready for the festivities of

 

the day, and Joe had been put upon the kitchen doorstep to keep

 

him out of the dust-pan,--an article into which his destiny always

 

led him, sooner or later, when my sister was vigorously reaping the

 

floors of her establishment.

 

"And where the deuce ha' you been?" was Mrs. Joe's Christmas

 

salutation, when I and my conscience showed ourselves. I said I had been down to hear the Carols. "Ah! well!" observed Mrs.

 

Joe. "You might ha' done worse." Not a doubt of that I thought.

 

"Perhaps if I warn't a blacksmith's wife, and (what's the same

 

thing) a slave with her apron never off, I should have been to hear

 

the Carols," said Mrs. Joe. "I'm rather partial to Carols, myself,

 

and that's the best of reasons for my never hearing any."

 

Joe, who had ventured into the kitchen after me as the dustpan had

 

retired before us, drew the back of his hand across his nose with a

 

conciliatory air, when Mrs. Joe darted a look at him, and, when her

 

eyes were withdrawn, secretly crossed his two forefingers, and

 

exhibited them to me, as our token that Mrs. Joe was in a cross

 

temper. This was so much her normal state, that Joe and I would

 

often, for weeks together, be, as to our fingers, like monumental

 

Crusaders as to their legs.

 

We were to have a superb dinner, consisting of a leg of pickled

 

pork and greens, and a pair of roast stuffed fowls. A handsome

 

mince-pie had been made yesterday morning (which accounted for the

 

mincemeat not being missed), and the pudding was already on the

 

boil. These extensive arrangements occasioned us to be cut off

 

unceremoniously in respect of breakfast; "for I ain't," said Mrs.

 

Joe,--"I ain't a going to have no formal cramming and busting and

 

washing up now, with what I've got before me, I promise you!" So, we had our slices served out, as if we were two thousand troops

 

on a forced march instead of a man and boy at home; and we took

 

gulps of milk and water, with apologetic countenances, from a jug

 

on the dresser. In the meantime, Mrs. Joe put clean white curtains

 

up, and tacked a new flowered flounce across the wide chimney to

 

replace the old one, and uncovered the little state parlor across

 

the passage, which was never uncovered at any other time, but

 

passed the rest of the year in a cool haze of silver paper, which

 

even extended to the four little white crockery poodles on the

 

mantel-shelf, each with a black nose and a basket of flowers in his

 

mouth, and each the counterpart of the other. Mrs. Joe was a very

 

clean housekeeper, but had an exquisite art of making her

 

cleanliness more uncomfortable and unacceptable than dirt itself.

 

Cleanliness is next to Godliness, and some people do the same by

 

their religion.

 

My sister, having so much to do, was going to church vicariously,

 

that is to say, Joe and I were going. In his working--clothes, Joe

 

was a well-knit characteristic-looking blacksmith; in his holiday

 

clothes, he was more like a scarecrow in good circumstances, than

 

anything else. Nothing that he wore then fitted him or seemed to

 

belong to him; and everything that he wore then grazed him. On the

 

present festive occasion he emerged from his room, when the blithe

 

bells were going, the picture of misery, in a full suit of Sunday penitentials. As to me, I think my sister must have had some

 

general idea that I was a young offender whom an Accoucheur

 

Policeman had taken up (on my birthday) and delivered over to her,

 

to be dealt with according to the outraged majesty of the law. I

 

was always treated as if I had insisted on being born in

 

opposition to the dictates of reason, religion, and morality, and

 

against the dissuading arguments of my best friends. Even when I

 

was taken to have a new suit of clothes, the tailor had orders to

 

make them like a kind of Reformatory, and on no account to let me

 

have the free use of my limbs.

 

Joe and I going to church, therefore, must have been a moving

 

spectacle for compassionate minds. Yet, what I suffered outside

 

was nothing to what I underwent within. The terrors that had

 

assailed me whenever Mrs. Joe had gone near the pantry, or out of

 

the room, were only to be equalled by the remorse with which my

 

mind dwelt on what my hands had done. Under the weight of my wicked

 

secret, I pondered whether the Church would be powerful enough to

 

shield me from the vengeance of the terrible young man, if I

 

divulged to that establishment. I conceived the idea that the time

 

when the banns were read and when the clergyman said, "Ye are now

 

to declare it!" would be the time for me to rise and propose a

 

private conference in the vestry. I am far from being sure that I

 

might not have astonished our small congregation by resorting to

 

this extreme measure, but for its being Christmas Day and no Sunday.

 

Mr. Wopsle, the clerk at church, was to dine with us; and Mr. Hubble

 

the wheelwright and Mrs. Hubble; and Uncle Pumblechook (Joe's uncle,

 

but Mrs. Joe appropriated him), who was a well-to-do cornchandler

 

in the nearest town, and drove his own chaise-cart. The dinner hour

 

was half-past one. When Joe and I got home, we found the table

 

laid, and Mrs. Joe dressed, and the dinner dressing, and the front

 

door unlocked (it never was at any other time) for the company to

 

enter by, and everything most splendid. And still, not a word of

 

the robbery.

 

The time came, without bringing with it any relief to my feelings,

 

and the company came. Mr. Wopsle, united to a Roman nose and a

 

large shining bald forehead, had a deep voice which he was

 

uncommonly proud of; indeed it was understood among his

 

acquaintance that if you could only give him his head, he would

 

read the clergyman into fits; he himself confessed that if the

 

Church was "thrown open," meaning to competition, he would not

 

despair of making his mark in it. The Church not being "thrown

 

open," he was, as I have said, our clerk. But he punished the

 

Amens tremendously; and when he gave out the psalm,--always giving

 

the whole verse,--he looked all round the congregation first, as

 

much as to say, "You have heard my friend overhead; oblige me with

 

your opinion of this style!" I opened the door to the company,--making believe that it was a

 

habit of ours to open that door,--and I opened it first to Mr.

 

Wopsle, next to Mr. and Mrs. Hubble, and last of all to Uncle

 

Pumblechook. N.B. I was not allowed to call him uncle, under the

 

severest penalties.

 

"Mrs. Joe," said Uncle Pumblechook, a large hard-breathing

 

middle-aged slow man, with a mouth like a fish, dull staring eyes,

 

and sandy hair standing upright on his head, so that he looked as

 

if he had just been all but choked, and had that moment come to,

 

"I have brought you as the compliments of the season--I have

 

brought you, Mum, a bottle of sherry wine--and I have brought you,

 

Mum, a bottle of port wine."

 

Every Christmas Day he presented himself, as a profound novelty,

 

with exactly the same words, and carrying the two bottles like

 

dumb-bells. Every Christmas Day, Mrs. Joe replied, as she now

 

replied, "O, Un--cle Pum-ble--chook! This is kind!" Every

 

Christmas Day, he retorted, as he now retorted, "It's no more than

 

your merits. And now are you all bobbish, and how's Sixpennorth of

 

halfpence?" meaning me.

 

We dined on these occasions in the kitchen, and adjourned, for the

 

nuts and oranges and apples to the parlor; which was a change very like Joe's change from his working-clothes to his Sunday

 

dress. My sister was uncommonly lively on the present occasion, and

 

indeed was generally more gracious in the society of Mrs. Hubble

 

than in other company. I remember Mrs. Hubble as a little curly

 

sharp-edged person in sky-blue, who held a conventionally juvenile

 

position, because she had married Mr. Hubble,--I don't know at what

 

remote period,--when she was much younger than he. I remember Mr

 

Hubble as a tough, high-shouldered, stooping old man, of a sawdusty

 

fragrance, with his legs extraordinarily wide apart: so that in my

 

short days I always saw some miles of open country between them

 

when I met him coming up the lane.

 

Among this good company I should have felt myself, even if I hadn't

 

robbed the pantry, in a false position. Not because I was squeezed

 

in at an acute angle of the tablecloth, with the table in my

 

chest, and the Pumblechookian elbow in my eye, nor because I was

 

not allowed to speak (I didn't want to speak), nor because I was

 

regaled with the scaly tips of the drumsticks of the fowls, and

 

with those obscure corners of pork of which the pig, when living,

 

had had the least reason to be vain. No; I should not have minded

 

that, if they would only have left me alone. But they wouldn't

 

leave me alone. They seemed to think the opportunity lost, if they

 

failed to point the conversation at me, every now and then, and

 

stick the point into me. I might have been an unfortunate little

 

bull in a Spanish arena, I got so smartingly touched up by these moral goads.

 

It began the moment we sat down to dinner. Mr. Wopsle said grace

 

with theatrical declamation,--as it now appears to me, something

 

like a religious cross of the Ghost in Hamlet with Richard the

 

Third,--and ended with the very proper aspiration that we might be

 

truly grateful. Upon which my sister fixed me with her eye, and

 

said, in a low reproachful voice, "Do you hear that? Be grateful."

 

"Especially," said Mr. Pumblechook, "be grateful, boy, to them which

 

brought you up by hand."

 

Mrs. Hubble shook her head, and contemplating me with a mournful

 

presentiment that I should come to no good, asked, "Why is it that

 

the young are never grateful?" This moral mystery seemed too much

 

for the company until Mr. Hubble tersely solved it by saying,

 

"Naterally wicious." Everybody then murmured "True!" and looked at

 

me in a particularly unpleasant and personal manner.

 

Joe's station and influence were something feebler (if possible)

 

when there was company than when there was none. But he always

 

aided and comforted me when he could, in some way of his own, and

 

he always did so at dinner-time by giving me gravy, if there were

 

any. There being plenty of gravy to-day, Joe spooned into my plate,

 

at this point, about half a pint. A little later on in the dinner, Mr. Wopsle reviewed the sermon with

 

some severity, and intimated--in the usual hypothetical case of

 

the Church being "thrown open"--what kind of sermon he would have

 

given them. After favoring them with some heads of that discourse,

 

he remarked that he considered the subject of the day's homily,

 

ill chosen; which was the less excusable, he added, when there were

 

so many subjects "going about."

 

"True again," said Uncle Pumblechook. "You've hit it, sir! Plenty of

 

subjects going about, for them that know how to put salt upon their

 

tails. That's what's wanted. A man needn't go far to find a

 

subject, if he's ready with his salt-box." Mr. Pumblechook added,

 

after a short interval of reflection, "Look at Pork alone. There's

 

a subject! If you want a subject, look at Pork!"

 

"True, sir. Many a moral for the young," returned Mr. Wopsle,--and I

 

knew he was going to lug me in, before he said it; "might be

 

deduced from that text."

 

("You listen to this," said my sister to me, in a severe

 

parenthesis.)

 

Joe gave me some more gravy. "Swine," pursued Mr. Wopsle, in his deepest voice, and pointing his

 

fork at my blushes, as if he were mentioning my Christian name,--

 

"swine were the companions of the prodigal. The gluttony of Swine

 

is put before us, as an example to the young." (I thought this

 

pretty well in him who had been praising up the pork for being so

 

plump and juicy.) "What is detestable in a pig is more detestable

 

in a boy."

 

"Or girl," suggested Mr. Hubble.

 

"Of course, or girl, Mr. Hubble," assented Mr. Wopsle, rather

 

irritably, "but there is no girl present."

 

"Besides," said Mr. Pumblechook, turning sharp on me, "think what

 

you've got to be grateful for. If you'd been born a Squeaker--"

 

"He was, if ever a child was," said my sister, most emphatically.

 

Joe gave me some more gravy.

 

"Well, but I mean a four-footed Squeaker," said Mr. Pumblechook. "If

 

you had been born such, would you have been here now? Not you--"

 

"Unless in that form," said Mr. Wopsle, nodding towards the dish. "But I don't mean in that form, sir," returned Mr. Pumblechook, who

 

had an objection to being interrupted; "I mean, enjoying himself

 

with his elders and betters, and improving himself with their

 

conversation, and rolling in the lap of luxury. Would he have been

 

doing that? No, he wouldn't. And what would have been your

 

destination?" turning on me again. "You would have been disposed of

 

for so many shillings according to the market price of the article,

 

and Dunstable the butcher would have come up to you as you lay in

 

your straw, and he would have whipped you under his left arm, and

 

with his right he would have tucked up his frock to get a penknife

 

from out of his waistcoat-pocket, and he would have shed your

 

blood and had your life. No bringing up by hand then. Not a bit of

 

it!"

 

Joe offered me more gravy, which I was afraid to take.

 

"He was a world of trouble to you, ma'am," said Mrs. Hubble,

 

commiserating my sister.

 

"Trouble?" echoed my sister; "trouble?" and then entered on a

 

fearful catalogue of all the illnesses I had been guilty of, and

 

all the acts of sleeplessness I had committed, and all the high

 

places I had tumbled from, and all the low places I had tumbled

 

into, and all the injuries I had done myself, and all the times she

 

had wished me in my grave, and I had contumaciously refused to go there.

 

I think the Romans must have aggravated one another very much, with

 

their noses. Perhaps, they became the restless people they were, in

 

consequence. Anyhow, Mr. Wopsle's Roman nose so aggravated me,

 

during the recital of my misdemeanours, that I should have liked to

 

pull it until he howled. But, all I had endured up to this time

 

was nothing in comparison with the awful feelings that took

 

possession of me when the pause was broken which ensued upon my

 

sister's recital, and in which pause everybody had looked at me (as

 

I felt painfully conscious) with indignation and abhorrence.

 

"Yet," said Mr. Pumblechook, leading the company gently back to the

 

theme from which they had strayed, "Pork--regarded as biled --is

 

rich, too; ain't it?"

 

"Have a little brandy, uncle," said my sister.

 

O Heavens, it had come at last! He would find it was weak, he would

 

say it was weak, and I was lost! I held tight to the leg of the

 

table under the cloth, with both hands, and awaited my fate.

 

My sister went for the stone bottle, came back with the stone

 

bottle, and poured his brandy out: no one else taking any. The

 

wretched man trifled with his glass,--took it up, looked at it through the light, put it down,--prolonged my misery. All this

 

time Mrs. Joe and Joe were briskly clearing the table for the pie

 

and pudding.

 

I couldn't keep my eyes off him. Always holding tight by the leg of

 

the table with my hands and feet, I saw the miserable creature

 

finger his glass playfully, take it up, smile, throw his head back,

 

and drink the brandy off. Instantly afterwards, the company were

 

seized with unspeakable consternation, owing to his springing to

 

his feet, turning round several times in an appalling spasmodic

 

whooping-cough dance, and rushing out at the door; he then became

 

visible through the window, violently plunging and expectorating,

 

making the most hideous faces, and apparently out of his mind.

 

I held on tight, while Mrs. Joe and Joe ran to him. I didn't know

 

how I had done it, but I had no doubt I had murdered him somehow.

 

In my dreadful situation, it was a relief when he was brought back,

 

and surveying the company all round as if they had disagreed with

 

him, sank down into his chair with the one significant gasp, "Tar!"

 

I had filled up the bottle from the tar-water jug. I knew he would

 

be worse by and by. I moved the table, like a Medium of the present

 

day, by the vigor of my unseen hold upon it.

 

"Tar!" cried my sister, in amazement. "Why, how ever could Tar come there?"

 

But, Uncle Pumblechook, who was omnipotent in that kitchen,

 

wouldn't hear the word, wouldn't hear of the subject, imperiously

 

waved it all away with his hand, and asked for hot gin and water.

 

My sister, who had begun to be alarmingly meditative, had to employ

 

herself actively in getting the gin the hot water, the sugar, and

 

the lemon-peel, and mixing them. For the time being at least, I was

 

saved. I still held on to the leg of the table, but clutched it now

 

with the fervor of gratitude.

 

By degrees, I became calm enough to release my grasp and partake of

 

pudding. Mr. Pumblechook partook of pudding. All partook of pudding.

 

The course terminated, and Mr. Pumblechook had begun to beam under

 

the genial influence of gin and water. I began to think I should

 

get over the day, when my sister said to Joe, "Clean plates,--

 

cold."

 

I clutched the leg of the table again immediately, and pressed it

 

to my bosom as if it had been the companion of my youth and friend

 

of my soul. I foresaw what was coming, and I felt that this time I

 

really was gone.

 

"You must taste," said my sister, addressing the guests with her

 

best grace--"you must taste, to finish with, such a delightful and delicious present of Uncle Pumblechook's!"

 

Must they! Let them not hope to taste it!

 

"You must know," said my sister, rising, "it's a pie; a savory

 

pork pie."

 

The company murmured their compliments. Uncle Pumblechook, sensible

 

of having deserved well of his fellow-creatures, said,--quite

 

vivaciously, all things considered,--"Well, Mrs. Joe, we'll do our

 

best endeavors; let us have a cut at this same pie."

 

My sister went out to get it. I heard her steps proceed to the

 

pantry. I saw Mr. Pumblechook balance his knife. I saw reawakening

 

appetite in the Roman nostrils of Mr. Wopsle. I heard Mr. Hubble

 

remark that "a bit of savory pork pie would lay atop of anything

 

you could mention, and do no harm," and I heard Joe say, "You shall

 

have some, Pip." I have never been absolutely certain whether I

 

uttered a shrill yell of terror, merely in spirit, or in the bodily

 

hearing of the company. I felt that I could bear no more, and that

 

I must run away. I released the leg of the table, and ran for my

 

life.

 

But I ran no farther than the house door, for there I ran head-

 

foremost into a party of soldiers with their muskets, one of whom held out a pair of handcuffs to me, saying, "Here you are, look

 

sharp, come on!"

 

Chapter V

 

The apparition of a file of soldiers ringing down the but-ends of

 

their loaded muskets on our door-step, caused the dinner-party to

 

rise from table in confusion, and caused Mrs. Joe re-entering the

 

kitchen empty-handed, to stop short and stare, in her wondering

 

lament of "Gracious goodness gracious me, what's gone--with the--

 

pie!"

 

The sergeant and I were in the kitchen when Mrs. Joe stood staring;

 

at which crisis I partially recovered the use of my senses. It was

 

the sergeant who had spoken to me, and he was now looking round at

 

the company, with his handcuffs invitingly extended towards them in

 

his right hand, and his left on my shoulder.

 

"Excuse me, ladies and gentleman," said the sergeant, "but as I

 

have mentioned at the door to this smart young shaver," (which he

 

hadn't), "I am on a chase in the name of the king, and I want the

 

blacksmith."

 

"And pray what might you want with him?" retorted my sister, quick to resent his being wanted at all.

 

"Missis," returned the gallant sergeant, "speaking for myself, I

 

should reply, the honor and pleasure of his fine wife's

 

acquaintance; speaking for the king, I answer, a little job done."

 

This was received as rather neat in the sergeant; insomuch that Mr.

 

Pumblechook cried audibly, "Good again!"

 

"You see, blacksmith," said the sergeant, who had by this time

 

picked out Joe with his eye, "we have had an accident with these,

 

and I find the lock of one of 'em goes wrong, and the coupling

 

don't act pretty. As they are wanted for immediate service, will

 

you throw your eye over them?"

 

Joe threw his eye over them, and pronounced that the job would

 

necessitate the lighting of his forge fire, and would take nearer

 

two hours than one, "Will it? Then will you set about it at once,

 

blacksmith?" said the off-hand sergeant, "as it's on his Majesty's

 

service. And if my men can bear a hand anywhere, they'll make

 

themselves useful." With that, he called to his men, who came

 

trooping into the kitchen one after another, and piled their arms

 

in a corner. And then they stood about, as soldiers do; now, with

 

their hands loosely clasped before them; now, resting a knee or a

 

shoulder; now, easing a belt or a pouch; now, opening the door to spit stiffly over their high stocks, out into the yard.

 

All these things I saw without then knowing that I saw them, for I

 

was in an agony of apprehension. But beginning to perceive that

 

the handcuffs were not for me, and that the military had so far got

 

the better of the pie as to put it in the background, I collected a

 

little more of my scattered wits.

 

"Would you give me the time?" said the sergeant, addressing himself

 

to Mr. Pumblechook, as to a man whose appreciative powers justified

 

the inference that he was equal to the time.

 

"It's just gone half past two."

 

"That's not so bad," said the sergeant, reflecting; "even if I was

 

forced to halt here nigh two hours, that'll do. How far might you

 

call yourselves from the marshes, hereabouts? Not above a mile, I

 

reckon?"

 

"Just a mile," said Mrs. Joe.

 

"That'll do. We begin to close in upon 'em about dusk. A little

 

before dusk, my orders are. That'll do."

 

"Convicts, sergeant?" asked Mr. Wopsle, in a matter-of-course way. "Ay!" returned the sergeant, "two. They're pretty well known to be

 

out on the marshes still, and they won't try to get clear of 'em

 

before dusk. Anybody here seen anything of any such game?"

 

Everybody, myself excepted, said no, with confidence. Nobody

 

thought of me.

 

"Well!" said the sergeant, "they'll find themselves trapped in a

 

circle, I expect, sooner than they count on. Now, blacksmith! If

 

you're ready, his Majesty the King is."

 

Joe had got his coat and waistcoat and cravat off, and his leather

 

apron on, and passed into the forge. One of the soldiers opened its

 

wooden windows, another lighted the fire, another turned to at

 

the bellows, the rest stood round the blaze, which was soon

 

roaring. Then Joe began to hammer and clink, hammer and clink, and

 

we all looked on.

 

The interest of the impending pursuit not only absorbed the general

 

attention, but even made my sister liberal. She drew a pitcher of

 

beer from the cask for the soldiers, and invited the sergeant to

 

take a glass of brandy. But Mr. Pumblechook said, sharply, "Give him

 

wine, Mum. I'll engage there's no Tar in that:" so, the sergeant

 

thanked him and said that as he preferred his drink without tar, he would take wine, if it was equally convenient. When it was given

 

him, he drank his Majesty's health and compliments of the season,

 

and took it all at a mouthful and smacked his lips.

 

"Good stuff, eh, sergeant?" said Mr. Pumblechook.

 

"I'll tell you something," returned the sergeant; "I suspect that

 

stuff's of your providing."

 

Mr. Pumblechook, with a fat sort of laugh, said, "Ay, ay? Why?"

 

"Because," returned the sergeant, clapping him on the shoulder,

 

"you're a man that knows what's what."

 

"D'ye think so?" said Mr. Pumblechook, with his former laugh. "Have

 

another glass!"

 

"With you. Hob and nob," returned the sergeant. "The top of mine to

 

the foot of yours,--the foot of yours to the top of mine,--Ring

 

once, ring twice,--the best tune on the Musical Glasses! Your

 

health. May you live a thousand years, and never be a worse judge

 

of the right sort than you are at the present moment of your life!"

 

The sergeant tossed off his glass again and seemed quite ready for

 

another glass. I noticed that Mr. Pumblechook in his hospitality appeared to forget that he had made a present of the wine, but took

 

the bottle from Mrs. Joe and had all the credit of handing it about

 

in a gush of joviality. Even I got some. And he was so very free of

 

the wine that he even called for the other bottle, and handed that

 

about with the same liberality, when the first was gone.

 

As I watched them while they all stood clustering about the forge,

 

enjoying themselves so much, I thought what terrible good sauce for

 

a dinner my fugitive friend on the marshes was. They had not

 

enjoyed themselves a quarter so much, before the entertainment was

 

brightened with the excitement he furnished. And now, when they

 

were all in lively anticipation of "the two villains" being taken,

 

and when the bellows seemed to roar for the fugitives, the fire to

 

flare for them, the smoke to hurry away in pursuit of them, Joe to

 

hammer and clink for them, and all the murky shadows on the wall to

 

shake at them in menace as the blaze rose and sank, and the red-hot

 

sparks dropped and died, the pale afternoon outside almost seemed

 

in my pitying young fancy to have turned pale on their account,

 

poor wretches.

 

At last, Joe's job was done, and the ringing and roaring stopped.

 

As Joe got on his coat, he mustered courage to propose that some of

 

us should go down with the soldiers and see what came of the hunt.

 

Mr. Pumblechook and Mr. Hubble declined, on the plea of a pipe and

 

ladies' society; but Mr. Wopsle said he would go, if Joe would. Joe said he was agreeable, and would take me, if Mrs. Joe approved. We

 

never should have got leave to go, I am sure, but for Mrs. Joe's

 

curiosity to know all about it and how it ended. As it was, she

 

merely stipulated, "If you bring the boy back with his head blown

 

to bits by a musket, don't look to me to put it together again."

 

The sergeant took a polite leave of the ladies, and parted from Mr.

 

Pumblechook as from a comrade; though I doubt if he were quite as

 

fully sensible of that gentleman's merits under arid conditions, as

 

when something moist was going. His men resumed their muskets and

 

fell in. Mr. Wopsle, Joe, and I, received strict charge to keep in

 

the rear, and to speak no word after we reached the marshes. When

 

we were all out in the raw air and were steadily moving towards our

 

business, I treasonably whispered to Joe, "I hope, Joe, we shan't

 

find them." and Joe whispered to me, "I'd give a shilling if they

 

had cut and run, Pip."

 

We were joined by no stragglers from the village, for the weather

 

was cold and threatening, the way dreary, the footing bad, darkness

 

coming on, and the people had good fires in-doors and were keeping

 

the day. A few faces hurried to glowing windows and looked after

 

us, but none came out. We passed the finger-post, and held straight

 

on to the churchyard. There we were stopped a few minutes by a

 

signal from the sergeant's hand, while two or three of his men

 

dispersed themselves among the graves, and also examined the porch. They came in again without finding anything, and then we struck out

 

on the open marshes, through the gate at the side of the

 

churchyard. A bitter sleet came rattling against us here on the

 

east wind, and Joe took me on his back.

 

Now that we were out upon the dismal wilderness where they little

 

thought I had been within eight or nine hours and had seen both men

 

hiding, I considered for the first time, with great dread, if we

 

should come upon them, would my particular convict suppose that it

 

was I who had brought the soldiers there? He had asked me if I was

 

a deceiving imp, and he had said I should be a fierce young hound

 

if I joined the hunt against him. Would he believe that I was both

 

imp and hound in treacherous earnest, and had betrayed him?

 

It was of no use asking myself this question now. There I was, on

 

Joe's back, and there was Joe beneath me, charging at the ditches

 

like a hunter, and stimulating Mr. Wopsle not to tumble on his Roman

 

nose, and to keep up with us. The soldiers were in front of us,

 

extending into a pretty wide line with an interval between man and

 

man. We were taking the course I had begun with, and from which I

 

had diverged in the mist. Either the mist was not out again yet, or

 

the wind had dispelled it. Under the low red glare of sunset, the

 

beacon, and the gibbet, and the mound of the Battery, and the

 

opposite shore of the river, were plain, though all of a watery

 

lead color. With my heart thumping like a blacksmith at Joe's broad shoulder, I

 

looked all about for any sign of the convicts. I could see none, I

 

could hear none. Mr. Wopsle had greatly alarmed me more than once,

 

by his blowing and hard breathing; but I knew the sounds by this

 

time, and could dissociate them from the object of pursuit. I got a

 

dreadful start, when I thought I heard the file still going; but it

 

was only a sheep-bell. The sheep stopped in their eating and looked

 

timidly at us; and the cattle, their heads turned from the wind and

 

sleet, stared angrily as if they held us responsible for both

 

annoyances; but, except these things, and the shudder of the dying

 

day in every blade of grass, there was no break in the bleak

 

stillness of the marshes.

 

The soldiers were moving on in the direction of the old Battery,

 

and we were moving on a little way behind them, when, all of a

 

sudden, we all stopped. For there had reached us on the wings of

 

the wind and rain, a long shout. It was repeated. It was at a

 

distance towards the east, but it was long and loud. Nay, there

 

seemed to be two or more shouts raised together,--if one might

 

judge from a confusion in the sound.

 

To this effect the sergeant and the nearest men were speaking under

 

their breath, when Joe and I came up. After another moment's

 

listening, Joe (who was a good judge) agreed, and Mr. Wopsle (who was a bad judge) agreed. The sergeant, a decisive man, ordered that

 

the sound should not be answered, but that the course should be

 

changed, and that his men should make towards it "at the double."

 

So we slanted to the right (where the East was), and Joe pounded

 

away so wonderfully, that I had to hold on tight to keep my seat.

 

It was a run indeed now, and what Joe called, in the only two words

 

he spoke all the time, "a Winder." Down banks and up banks, and

 

over gates, and splashing into dikes, and breaking among coarse

 

rushes: no man cared where he went. As we came nearer to the

 

shouting, it became more and more apparent that it was made by more

 

than one voice. Sometimes, it seemed to stop altogether, and then

 

the soldiers stopped. When it broke out again, the soldiers made

 

for it at a greater rate than ever, and we after them. After a

 

while, we had so run it down, that we could hear one voice calling

 

"Murder!" and another voice, "Convicts! Runaways! Guard! This way

 

for the runaway convicts!" Then both voices would seem to be

 

stifled in a struggle, and then would break out again. And when it

 

had come to this, the soldiers ran like deer, and Joe too.

 

The sergeant ran in first, when we had run the noise quite down,

 

and two of his men ran in close upon him. Their pieces were cocked

 

and levelled when we all ran in.

 

"Here are both men!" panted the sergeant, struggling at the bottom of a ditch. "Surrender, you two! and confound you for two wild

 

beasts! Come asunder!"

 

Water was splashing, and mud was flying, and oaths were being

 

sworn, and blows were being struck, when some more men went down

 

into the ditch to help the sergeant, and dragged out, separately,

 

my convict and the other one. Both were bleeding and panting and

 

execrating and struggling; but of course I knew them both directly.

 

"Mind!" said my convict, wiping blood from his face with his ragged

 

sleeves, and shaking torn hair from his fingers: "I took him! I give

 

him up to you! Mind that!"

 

"It's not much to be particular about," said the sergeant; "it'll do

 

you small good, my man, being in the same plight yourself.

 

Handcuffs there!"

 

"I don't expect it to do me any good. I don't want it to do me more

 

good than it does now," said my convict, with a greedy laugh. "I

 

took him. He knows it. That's enough for me."

 

The other convict was livid to look at, and, in addition to the old

 

bruised left side of his face, seemed to be bruised and torn all

 

over. He could not so much as get his breath to speak, until they

 

were both separately handcuffed, but leaned upon a soldier to keep himself from falling.

 

"Take notice, guard,--he tried to murder me," were his first words.

 

"Tried to murder him?" said my convict, disdainfully. "Try, and not

 

do it? I took him, and giv' him up; that's what I done. I not only

 

prevented him getting off the marshes, but I dragged him here,--

 

dragged him this far on his way back. He's a gentleman, if you

 

please, this villain. Now, the Hulks has got its gentleman again,

 

through me. Murder him? Worth my while, too, to murder him, when I

 

could do worse and drag him back!"

 

The other one still gasped, "He tried--he tried-to--murder me.

 

Bear--bear witness."

 

"Lookee here!" said my convict to the sergeant. "Single-handed I

 

got clear of the prison-ship; I made a dash and I done it. I could

 

ha' got clear of these death-cold flats likewise --look at my leg:

 

you won't find much iron on it--if I hadn't made the discovery that

 

he was here. Let him go free? Let him profit by the means as I found

 

out? Let him make a tool of me afresh and again? Once more? No, no,

 

no. If I had died at the bottom there," and he made an emphatic

 

swing at the ditch with his manacled hands, "I'd have held to him

 

with that grip, that you should have been safe to find him in my

 

hold." The other fugitive, who was evidently in extreme horror of his

 

companion, repeated, "He tried to murder me. I should have been a

 

dead man if you had not come up."

 

"He lies!" said my convict, with fierce energy. "He's a liar born,

 

and he'll die a liar. Look at his face; ain't it written there? Let

 

him turn those eyes of his on me. I defy him to do it."

 

The other, with an effort at a scornful smile, which could not,

 

however, collect the nervous working of his mouth into any set

 

expression, looked at the soldiers, and looked about at the

 

marshes and at the sky, but certainly did not look at the speaker.

 

"Do you see him?" pursued my convict. "Do you see what a villain he

 

is? Do you see those grovelling and wandering eyes? That's how he

 

looked when we were tried together. He never looked at me."

 

The other, always working and working his dry lips and turning his

 

eyes restlessly about him far and near, did at last turn them for a

 

moment on the speaker, with the words, "You are not much to look

 

at," and with a half-taunting glance at the bound hands. At that

 

point, my convict became so frantically exasperated, that he would

 

have rushed upon him but for the interposition of the soldiers.

 

"Didn't I tell you," said the other convict then, "that he would murder me, if he could?" And any one could see that he shook with

 

fear, and that there broke out upon his lips curious white flakes,

 

like thin snow.

 

"Enough of this parley," said the sergeant. "Light those torches."

 

As one of the soldiers, who carried a basket in lieu of a gun, went

 

down on his knee to open it, my convict looked round him for the

 

first time, and saw me. I had alighted from Joe's back on the brink

 

of the ditch when we came up, and had not moved since. I looked at

 

him eagerly when he looked at me, and slightly moved my hands and

 

shook my head. I had been waiting for him to see me that I might

 

try to assure him of my innocence. It was not at all expressed to

 

me that he even comprehended my intention, for he gave me a look

 

that I did not understand, and it all passed in a moment. But if he

 

had looked at me for an hour or for a day, I could not have

 

remembered his face ever afterwards, as having been more attentive.

 

The soldier with the basket soon got a light, and lighted three or

 

four torches, and took one himself and distributed the others. It

 

had been almost dark before, but now it seemed quite dark, and soon

 

afterwards very dark. Before we departed from that spot, four

 

soldiers standing in a ring, fired twice into the air. Presently we

 

saw other torches kindled at some distance behind us, and others on

 

the marshes on the opposite bank of the river. "All right," said the sergeant. "March."

 

We had not gone far when three cannon were fired ahead of us with a

 

sound that seemed to burst something inside my ear. "You are

 

expected on board," said the sergeant to my convict; "they know you

 

are coming. Don't straggle, my man. Close up here."

 

The two were kept apart, and each walked surrounded by a separate

 

guard. I had hold of Joe's hand now, and Joe carried one of the

 

torches. Mr. Wopsle had been for going back, but Joe was resolved to

 

see it out, so we went on with the party. There was a reasonably

 

good path now, mostly on the edge of the river, with a divergence

 

here and there where a dike came, with a miniature windmill on it

 

and a muddy sluice-gate. When I looked round, I could see the other

 

lights coming in after us. The torches we carried dropped great

 

blotches of fire upon the track, and I could see those, too, lying

 

smoking and flaring. I could see nothing else but black darkness.

 

Our lights warmed the air about us with their pitchy blaze, and the

 

two prisoners seemed rather to like that, as they limped along in

 

the midst of the muskets. We could not go fast, because of their

 

lameness; and they were so spent, that two or three times we had to

 

halt while they rested.

 

After an hour or so of this travelling, we came to a rough wooden

 

hut and a landing-place. There was a guard in the hut, and they challenged, and the sergeant answered. Then, we went into the hut,

 

where there was a smell of tobacco and whitewash, and a bright

 

fire, and a lamp, and a stand of muskets, and a drum, and a low

 

wooden bedstead, like an overgrown mangle without the machinery,

 

capable of holding about a dozen soldiers all at once. Three or

 

four soldiers who lay upon it in their great-coats were not much

 

interested in us, but just lifted their heads and took a sleepy

 

stare, and then lay down again. The sergeant made some kind of

 

report, and some entry in a book, and then the convict whom I call

 

the other convict was drafted off with his guard, to go on board

 

first.

 

My convict never looked at me, except that once. While we stood in

 

the hut, he stood before the fire looking thoughtfully at it, or

 

putting up his feet by turns upon the hob, and looking thoughtfully

 

at them as if he pitied them for their recent adventures. Suddenly,

 

he turned to the sergeant, and remarked,--

 

"I wish to say something respecting this escape. It may prevent

 

some persons laying under suspicion alonger me."

 

"You can say what you like," returned the sergeant, standing coolly

 

looking at him with his arms folded, "but you have no call to say

 

it here. You'll have opportunity enough to say about it, and hear

 

about it, before it's done with, you know." "I know, but this is another pint, a separate matter. A man can't

 

starve; at least I can't. I took some wittles, up at the willage

 

over yonder,--where the church stands a'most out on the marshes."

 

"You mean stole," said the sergeant.

 

"And I'll tell you where from. From the blacksmith's."

 

"Halloa!" said the sergeant, staring at Joe.

 

"Halloa, Pip!" said Joe, staring at me.

 

"It was some broken wittles--that's what it was--and a dram of

 

liquor, and a pie."

 

"Have you happened to miss such an article as a pie, blacksmith?"

 

asked the sergeant, confidentially.

 

"My wife did, at the very moment when you came in. Don't you know,

 

Pip?"

 

"So," said my convict, turning his eyes on Joe in a moody manner,

 

and without the least glance at me,--"so you're the blacksmith, are

 

you? Than I'm sorry to say, I've eat your pie." "God knows you're welcome to it,--so far as it was ever mine,"

 

returned Joe, with a saving remembrance of Mrs. Joe. "We don't know

 

what you have done, but we wouldn't have you starved to death for

 

it, poor miserable fellow-creatur.--Would us, Pip?"

 

The something that I had noticed before, clicked in the man's

 

throat again, and he turned his back. The boat had returned, and

 

his guard were ready, so we followed him to the landing-place made

 

of rough stakes and stones, and saw him put into the boat, which

 

was rowed by a crew of convicts like himself. No one seemed

 

surprised to see him, or interested in seeing him, or glad to see

 

him, or sorry to see him, or spoke a word, except that somebody in

 

the boat growled as if to dogs, "Give way, you!" which was the

 

signal for the dip of the oars. By the light of the torches, we saw

 

the black Hulk lying out a little way from the mud of the shore, like

 

a wicked Noah's ark. Cribbed and barred and moored by massive rusty

 

chains, the prison-ship seemed in my young eyes to be ironed like

 

the prisoners. We saw the boat go alongside, and we saw him taken

 

up the side and disappear. Then, the ends of the torches were flung

 

hissing into the water, and went out, as if it were all over with

 

him.

 

Chapter VI My state of mind regarding the pilfering from which I had been so

 

unexpectedly exonerated did not impel me to frank disclosure; but

 

I hope it had some dregs of good at the bottom of it.

 

I do not recall that I felt any tenderness of conscience in

 

reference to Mrs. Joe, when the fear of being found out was lifted

 

off me. But I loved Joe,--perhaps for no better reason in those

 

early days than because the dear fellow let me love him,--and, as

 

to him, my inner self was not so easily composed. It was much upon

 

my mind (particularly when I first saw him looking about for his

 

file) that I ought to tell Joe the whole truth. Yet I did not, and

 

for the reason that I mistrusted that if I did, he would think me

 

worse than I was. The fear of losing Joe's confidence, and of

 

thenceforth sitting in the chimney corner at night staring drearily

 

at my forever lost companion and friend, tied up my tongue. I

 

morbidly represented to myself that if Joe knew it, I never

 

afterwards could see him at the fireside feeling his fair whisker,

 

without thinking that he was meditating on it. That, if Joe knew

 

it, I never afterwards could see him glance, however casually, at

 

yesterday's meat or pudding when it came on to-day's table, without

 

thinking that he was debating whether I had been in the pantry.

 

That, if Joe knew it, and at any subsequent period of our joint

 

domestic life remarked that his beer was flat or thick, the

 

conviction that he suspected Tar in it, would bring a rush of blood to my face. In a word, I was too cowardly to do what I knew to be

 

right, as I had been too cowardly to avoid doing what I knew to be

 

wrong. I had had no intercourse with the world at that time, and I

 

imitated none of its many inhabitants who act in this manner. Quite

 

an untaught genius, I made the discovery of the line of action for

 

myself.

 

As I was sleepy before we were far away from the prison-ship, Joe

 

took me on his back again and carried me home. He must have had a

 

tiresome journey of it, for Mr. Wopsle, being knocked up, was in

 

such a very bad temper that if the Church had been thrown open, he

 

would probably have excommunicated the whole expedition, beginning

 

with Joe and myself. In his lay capacity, he persisted in sitting

 

down in the damp to such an insane extent, that when his coat was

 

taken off to be dried at the kitchen fire, the circumstantial

 

evidence on his trousers would have hanged him, if it had been a

 

capital offence.

 

By that time, I was staggering on the kitchen floor like a little

 

drunkard, through having been newly set upon my feet, and through

 

having been fast asleep, and through waking in the heat and lights

 

and noise of tongues. As I came to myself (with the aid of a heavy

 

thump between the shoulders, and the restorative exclamation "Yah!

 

Was there ever such a boy as this!" from my sister,) I found Joe

 

telling them about the convict's confession, and all the visitors suggesting different ways by which he had got into the pantry. Mr.

 

Pumblechook made out, after carefully surveying the premises, that

 

he had first got upon the roof of the forge, and had then got upon

 

the roof of the house, and had then let himself down the kitchen

 

chimney by a rope made of his bedding cut into strips; and as Mr.

 

Pumblechook was very positive and drove his own chaise-cart--over

 

Everybody--it was agreed that it must be so. Mr. Wopsle, indeed,

 

wildly cried out, "No!" with the feeble malice of a tired man; but,

 

as he had no theory, and no coat on, he was unanimously set at

 

naught,--not to mention his smoking hard behind, as he stood with

 

his back to the kitchen fire to draw the damp out: which was not

 

calculated to inspire confidence.

 

This was all I heard that night before my sister clutched me, as a

 

slumberous offence to the company's eyesight, and assisted me up to

 

bed with such a strong hand that I seemed to have fifty boots on,

 

and to be dangling them all against the edges of the stairs. My

 

state of mind, as I have described it, began before I was up in the

 

morning, and lasted long after the subject had died out, and had

 

ceased to be mentioned saving on exceptional occasions.

 

Chapter VII

 

At the time when I stood in the churchyard reading the family tombstones, I had just enough learning to be able to spell them

 

out. My construction even of their simple meaning was not very

 

correct, for I read "wife of the Above" as a complimentary

 

reference to my father's exaltation to a better world; and if any

 

one of my deceased relations had been referred to as "Below," I

 

have no doubt I should have formed the worst opinions of that

 

member of the family. Neither were my notions of the theological

 

positions to which my Catechism bound me, at all accurate; for, I

 

have a lively remembrance that I supposed my declaration that I was

 

to "walk in the same all the days of my life," laid me under an

 

obligation always to go through the village from our house in one

 

particular direction, and never to vary it by turning down by the

 

wheelwright's or up by the mill.

 

When I was old enough, I was to be apprenticed to Joe, and until I

 

could assume that dignity I was not to be what Mrs. Joe called

 

"Pompeyed," or (as I render it) pampered. Therefore, I was not only

 

odd-boy about the forge, but if any neighbor happened to want an

 

extra boy to frighten birds, or pick up stones, or do any such job,

 

I was favored with the employment. In order, however, that our

 

superior position might not be compromised thereby, a money-box was

 

kept on the kitchen mantel-shelf, in to which it was publicly made

 

known that all my earnings were dropped. I have an impression that

 

they were to be contributed eventually towards the liquidation of

 

the National Debt, but I know I had no hope of any personal participation in the treasure.

 

Mr. Wopsle's great-aunt kept an evening school in the village; that

 

is to say, she was a ridiculous old woman of limited means and

 

unlimited infirmity, who used to go to sleep from six to seven

 

every evening, in the society of youth who paid two pence per week

 

each, for the improving opportunity of seeing her do it. She rented

 

a small cottage, and Mr. Wopsle had the room up stairs, where we

 

students used to overhear him reading aloud in a most dignified and

 

terrific manner, and occasionally bumping on the ceiling. There was

 

a fiction that Mr. Wopsle "examined" the scholars once a quarter.

 

What he did on those occasions was to turn up his cuffs, stick up

 

his hair, and give us Mark Antony's oration over the body of

 

Caesar. This was always followed by Collins's Ode on the Passions,

 

wherein I particularly venerated Mr. Wopsle as Revenge throwing his

 

blood-stained sword in thunder down, and taking the War-denouncing

 

trumpet with a withering look. It was not with me then, as it was

 

in later life, when I fell into the society of the Passions, and

 

compared them with Collins and Wopsle, rather to the disadvantage

 

of both gentlemen.

 

Mr. Wopsle's great-aunt, besides keeping this Educational

 

Institution, kept in the same room--a little general shop. She

 

had no idea what stock she had, or what the price of anything in it

 

was; but there was a little greasy memorandum-book kept in a drawer, which served as a Catalogue of Prices, and by this oracle

 

Biddy arranged all the shop transaction. Biddy was Mr. Wopsle's

 

great-aunt's granddaughter; I confess myself quiet unequal to the

 

working out of the problem, what relation she was to Mr. Wopsle. She

 

was an orphan like myself; like me, too, had been brought up by

 

hand. She was most noticeable, I thought, in respect of her

 

extremities; for, her hair always wanted brushing, her hands always

 

wanted washing, and her shoes always wanted mending and pulling up

 

at heel. This description must be received with a week-day

 

limitation. On Sundays, she went to church elaborated.

 

Much of my unassisted self, and more by the help of Biddy than of

 

Mr. Wopsle's great-aunt, I struggled through the alphabet as if it

 

had been a bramble-bush; getting considerably worried and scratched

 

by every letter. After that I fell among those thieves, the nine

 

figures, who seemed every evening to do something new to disguise

 

themselves and baffle recognition. But, at last I began, in a

 

purblind groping way, to read, write, and cipher, on the very

 

smallest scale.

 

One night I was sitting in the chimney corner with my slate,

 

expending great efforts on the production of a letter to Joe. I

 

think it must have been a full year after our hunt upon the

 

marshes, for it was a long time after, and it was winter and a hard

 

frost. With an alphabet on the hearth at my feet for reference, I contrived in an hour or two to print and smear this epistle:--

 

"MI DEER JO i OPE U R KR WITE WELL i OPE i SHAL SON B HABELL 4 2

 

TEEDGE U JO AN THEN WE SHORL B SO GLODD AN WEN i M PRENGTD 2 U JO

 

WOT LARX AN BLEVE ME INF XN PIP."

 

There was no indispensable necessity for my communicating with Joe

 

by letter, inasmuch as he sat beside me and we were alone. But I

 

delivered this written communication (slate and all) with my own

 

hand, and Joe received it as a miracle of erudition.

 

"I say, Pip, old chap!" cried Joe, opening his blue eyes wide,

 

"what a scholar you are! An't you?"

 

"I should like to be," said I, glancing at the slate as he held it;

 

with a misgiving that the writing was rather hilly.

 

"Why, here's a J," said Joe, "and a O equal to anythink! Here's a J

 

and a O, Pip, and a J-O, Joe."

 

I had never heard Joe read aloud to any greater extent than this

 

monosyllable, and I had observed at church last Sunday, when I

 

accidentally held our Prayer-Book upside down, that it seemed to

 

suit his convenience quite as well as if it had been all right. Wishing to embrace the present occasion of finding out whether in

 

teaching Joe, I should have to begin quite at the beginning, I

 

said, "Ah! But read the rest, Jo."

 

"The rest, eh, Pip?" said Joe, looking at it with a slow,

 

searching eye, "One, two, three. Why, here's three Js, and three

 

Os, and three J-O, Joes in it, Pip!"

 

I leaned over Joe, and, with the aid of my forefinger read him the

 

whole letter.

 

"Astonishing!" said Joe, when I had finished. "You ARE a scholar."

 

"How do you spell Gargery, Joe?" I asked him, with a modest

 

patronage.

 

"I don't spell it at all," said Joe.

 

"But supposing you did?"

 

"It can't be supposed," said Joe. "Tho' I'm uncommon fond of

 

reading, too."

 

"Are you, Joe?" "On-common. Give me," said Joe, "a good book, or a good newspaper,

 

and sit me down afore a good fire, and I ask no better. Lord!" he

 

continued, after rubbing his knees a little, "when you do come to a

 

J and a O, and says you, "Here, at last, is a J-O, Joe," how

 

interesting reading is!"

 

I derived from this, that Joe's education, like Steam, was yet

 

in its infancy, Pursuing the subject, I inquired,--

 

"Didn't you ever go to school, Joe, when you were as little as me?"

 

"No, Pip."

 

"Why didn't you ever go to school, Joe, when you were as little as

 

me?"

 

"Well, Pip," said Joe, taking up the poker, and settling himself to

 

his usual occupation when he was thoughtful, of slowly raking the

 

fire between the lower bars; "I'll tell you. My father, Pip, he

 

were given to drink, and when he were overtook with drink, he

 

hammered away at my mother, most onmerciful. It were a'most the

 

only hammering he did, indeed, 'xcepting at myself. And he hammered

 

at me with a wigor only to be equalled by the wigor with which he

 

didn't hammer at his anwil.--You're a listening and understanding,

 

Pip?" "Yes, Joe."

 

"'Consequence, my mother and me we ran away from my father

 

several times; and then my mother she'd go out to work, and she'd

 

say, "Joe," she'd say, "now, please God, you shall have some

 

schooling, child," and she'd put me to school. But my father were

 

that good in his hart that he couldn't abear to be without us. So,

 

he'd come with a most tremenjous crowd and make such a row at the

 

doors of the houses where we was, that they used to be obligated to

 

have no more to do with us and to give us up to him. And then he

 

took us home and hammered us. Which, you see, Pip," said Joe,

 

pausing in his meditative raking of the fire, and looking at me,

 

"were a drawback on my learning."

 

"Certainly, poor Joe!"

 

"Though mind you, Pip," said Joe, with a judicial touch or two of

 

the poker on the top bar, "rendering unto all their doo, and

 

maintaining equal justice betwixt man and man, my father were that

 

good in his hart, don't you see?"

 

I didn't see; but I didn't say so.

 

"Well!" Joe pursued, "somebody must keep the pot a biling, Pip, or the pot won't bile, don't you know?"

 

I saw that, and said so.

 

"'Consequence, my father didn't make objections to my going to

 

work; so I went to work to work at my present calling, which were

 

his too, if he would have followed it, and I worked tolerable hard,

 

I assure you, Pip. In time I were able to keep him, and I kep him

 

till he went off in a purple leptic fit. And it were my intentions

 

to have had put upon his tombstone that, Whatsume'er the failings on

 

his part, Remember reader he were that good in his heart."

 

Joe recited this couplet with such manifest pride and careful

 

perspicuity, that I asked him if he had made it himself.

 

"I made it," said Joe, "my own self. I made it in a moment. It was

 

like striking out a horseshoe complete, in a single blow. I never

 

was so much surprised in all my life,--couldn't credit my own ed,--

 

to tell you the truth, hardly believed it were my own ed. As I was

 

saying, Pip, it were my intentions to have had it cut over him; but

 

poetry costs money, cut it how you will, small or large, and it

 

were not done. Not to mention bearers, all the money that could be

 

spared were wanted for my mother. She were in poor elth, and quite

 

broke. She weren't long of following, poor soul, and her share of

 

peace come round at last." Joe's blue eyes turned a little watery; he rubbed first one of

 

them, and then the other, in a most uncongenial and uncomfortable

 

manner, with the round knob on the top of the poker.

 

"It were but lonesome then," said Joe, "living here alone, and I

 

got acquainted with your sister. Now, Pip,"--Joe looked firmly at

 

me as if he knew I was not going to agree with him;--"your sister

 

is a fine figure of a woman."

 

I could not help looking at the fire, in an obvious state of doubt.

 

"Whatever family opinions, or whatever the world's opinions, on

 

that subject may be, Pip, your sister is," Joe tapped the top bar

 

with the poker after every word following, "a-fine-figure--of

 

--a--woman!"

 

I could think of nothing better to say than "I am glad you think

 

so, Joe."

 

"So am I," returned Joe, catching me up. "I am glad I think so,

 

Pip. A little redness or a little matter of Bone, here or there,

 

what does it signify to Me?"

 

I sagaciously observed, if it didn't signify to him, to whom did it signify?

 

"Certainly!" assented Joe. "That's it. You're right, old chap! When

 

I got acquainted with your sister, it were the talk how she was

 

bringing you up by hand. Very kind of her too, all the folks said,

 

and I said, along with all the folks. As to you," Joe pursued with

 

a countenance expressive of seeing something very nasty indeed, "if

 

you could have been aware how small and flabby and mean you was,

 

dear me, you'd have formed the most contemptible opinion of

 

yourself!"

 

Not exactly relishing this, I said, "Never mind me, Joe."

 

"But I did mind you, Pip," he returned with tender simplicity.

 

"When I offered to your sister to keep company, and to be asked in

 

church at such times as she was willing and ready to come to the

 

forge, I said to her, 'And bring the poor little child. God bless

 

the poor little child,' I said to your sister, 'there's room for

 

him at the forge!'"

 

I broke out crying and begging pardon, and hugged Joe round the

 

neck: who dropped the poker to hug me, and to say, "Ever the best

 

of friends; an't us, Pip? Don't cry, old chap!"

 

When this little interruption was over, Joe resumed:-- "Well, you see, Pip, and here we are! That's about where it lights;

 

here we are! Now, when you take me in hand in my learning, Pip (and

 

I tell you beforehand I am awful dull, most awful dull), Mrs. Joe

 

mustn't see too much of what we're up to. It must be done, as I may

 

say, on the sly. And why on the sly? I'll tell you why, Pip."

 

He had taken up the poker again; without which, I doubt if he could

 

have proceeded in his demonstration.

 

"Your sister is given to government."

 

"Given to government, Joe?" I was startled, for I had some shadowy

 

idea (and I am afraid I must add, hope) that Joe had divorced her

 

in a favor of the Lords of the Admiralty, or Treasury.

 

"Given to government," said Joe. "Which I meantersay the government

 

of you and myself."

 

"Oh!"

 

"And she an't over partial to having scholars on the premises," Joe

 

continued, "and in partickler would not be over partial to my being

 

a scholar, for fear as I might rise. Like a sort or rebel, don't

 

you see?" I was going to retort with an inquiry, and had got as far as

 

"Why--" when Joe stopped me.

 

"Stay a bit. I know what you're a going to say, Pip; stay a bit! I

 

don't deny that your sister comes the Mo-gul over us, now and

 

again. I don't deny that she do throw us back-falls, and that she

 

do drop down upon us heavy. At such times as when your sister is on

 

the Ram-page, Pip," Joe sank his voice to a whisper and glanced at

 

the door, "candor compels fur to admit that she is a Buster."

 

Joe pronounced this word, as if it began with at least twelve

 

capital Bs.

 

"Why don't I rise? That were your observation when I broke it off,

 

Pip?"

 

"Yes, Joe."

 

"Well," said Joe, passing the poker into his left hand, that he

 

might feel his whisker; and I had no hope of him whenever he took

 

to that placid occupation; "your sister's a master-mind. A

 

master-mind."

 

"What's that?" I asked, in some hope of bringing him to a stand. But Joe was readier with his definition than I had expected, and

 

completely stopped me by arguing circularly, and answering with a

 

fixed look, "Her."

 

"And I ain't a master-mind," Joe resumed, when he had unfixed his

 

look, and got back to his whisker. "And last of all, Pip,--and this

 

I want to say very serious to you, old chap,--I see so much in my

 

poor mother, of a woman drudging and slaving and breaking her

 

honest hart and never getting no peace in her mortal days, that I'm

 

dead afeerd of going wrong in the way of not doing what's right by

 

a woman, and I'd fur rather of the two go wrong the t'other way,

 

and be a little ill-conwenienced myself. I wish it was only me that

 

got put out, Pip; I wish there warn't no Tickler for you, old chap;

 

I wish I could take it all on myself; but this is the

 

up-and-down-and-straight on it, Pip, and I hope you'll overlook

 

shortcomings."

 

Young as I was, I believe that I dated a new admiration of Joe from

 

that night. We were equals afterwards, as we had been before; but,

 

afterwards at quiet times when I sat looking at Joe and thinking

 

about him, I had a new sensation of feeling conscious that I was

 

looking up to Joe in my heart.

 

"However," said Joe, rising to replenish the fire; "here's the

 

Dutch-clock a working himself up to being equal to strike Eight of 'em, and she's not come home yet! I hope Uncle Pumblechook's mare

 

mayn't have set a forefoot on a piece o' ice, and gone down."

 

Mrs. Joe made occasional trips with Uncle Pumblechook on

 

market-days, to assist him in buying such household stuffs and

 

goods as required a woman's judgment; Uncle Pumblechook being a

 

bachelor and reposing no confidences in his domestic servant. This

 

was market-day, and Mrs. Joe was out on one of these expeditions.

 

Joe made the fire and swept the hearth, and then we went to the

 

door to listen for the chaise-cart. It was a dry cold night, and

 

the wind blew keenly, and the frost was white and hard. A man would

 

die to-night of lying out on the marshes, I thought. And then I

 

looked at the stars, and considered how awful if would be for a man

 

to turn his face up to them as he froze to death, and see no help

 

or pity in all the glittering multitude.

 

"Here comes the mare," said Joe, "ringing like a peal of bells!"

 

The sound of her iron shoes upon the hard road was quite musical,

 

as she came along at a much brisker trot than usual. We got a chair

 

out, ready for Mrs. Joe's alighting, and stirred up the fire that

 

they might see a bright window, and took a final survey of the

 

kitchen that nothing might be out of its place. When we had

 

completed these preparations, they drove up, wrapped to the eyes. Mrs. Joe was soon landed, and Uncle Pumblechook was soon down too,

 

covering the mare with a cloth, and we were soon all in the

 

kitchen, carrying so much cold air in with us that it seemed to

 

drive all the heat out of the fire.

 

"Now," said Mrs. Joe, unwrapping herself with haste and excitement,

 

and throwing her bonnet back on her shoulders where it hung by the

 

strings, "if this boy ain't grateful this night, he never will be!"

 

I looked as grateful as any boy possibly could, who was wholly

 

uninformed why he ought to assume that expression.

 

"It's only to be hoped," said my sister, "that he won't be

 

Pompeyed. But I have my fears."

 

"She ain't in that line, Mum," said Mr. Pumblechook. "She knows

 

better."

 

She? I looked at Joe, making the motion with my lips and eyebrows,

 

"She?" Joe looked at me, making the motion with his lips and

 

eyebrows, "She?" My sister catching him in the act, he drew the

 

back of his hand across his nose with his usual conciliatory air on

 

such occasions, and looked at her.

 

"Well?" said my sister, in her snappish way. "What are you staring at? Is the house afire?"

 

"--Which some individual," Joe politely hinted, "mentioned--she."

 

"And she is a she, I suppose?" said my sister. "Unless you call

 

Miss Havisham a he. And I doubt if even you'll go so far as that."

 

"Miss Havisham, up town?" said Joe.

 

"Is there any Miss Havisham down town?" returned my sister.

 

"She wants this boy to go and play there. And of course he's going.

 

And he had better play there," said my sister, shaking her head at

 

me as an encouragement to be extremely light and sportive, "or I'll

 

work him."

 

I had heard of Miss Havisham up town,--everybody for miles round

 

had heard of Miss Havisham up town,--as an immensely rich and grim

 

lady who lived in a large and dismal house barricaded against

 

robbers, and who led a life of seclusion.

 

"Well to be sure!" said Joe, astounded. "I wonder how she come to

 

know Pip!"

 

"Noodle!" cried my sister. "Who said she knew him?" "--Which some individual," Joe again politely hinted, "mentioned

 

that she wanted him to go and play there."

 

"And couldn't she ask Uncle Pumblechook if he knew of a boy to go

 

and play there? Isn't it just barely possible that Uncle

 

Pumblechook may be a tenant of hers, and that he may sometimes--we

 

won't say quarterly or half-yearly, for that would be requiring too

 

much of you--but sometimes--go there to pay his rent? And

 

couldn't she then ask Uncle Pumblechook if he knew of a boy to go

 

and play there? And couldn't Uncle Pumblechook, being always

 

considerate and thoughtful for us--though you may not think it,

 

Joseph," in a tone of the deepest reproach, as if he were the most

 

callous of nephews, "then mention this boy, standing Prancing here"

 

--which I solemnly declare I was not doing--"that I have for ever

 

been a willing slave to?"

 

"Good again!" cried Uncle Pumblechook. "Well put! Prettily pointed!

 

Good indeed! Now Joseph, you know the case."

 

"No, Joseph," said my sister, still in a reproachful manner, while

 

Joe apologetically drew the back of his hand across and across his

 

nose, "you do not yet--though you may not think it--know the

 

case. You may consider that you do, but you do not, Joseph. For you

 

do not know that Uncle Pumblechook, being sensible that for anything we can tell, this boy's fortune may be made by his going

 

to Miss Havisham's, has offered to take him into town to-night in

 

his own chaise-cart, and to keep him to-night, and to take him with

 

his own hands to Miss Havisham's to-morrow morning. And Lor-a-mussy

 

me!" cried my sister, casting off her bonnet in sudden desperation,

 

"here I stand talking to mere Mooncalfs, with Uncle Pumblechook

 

waiting, and the mare catching cold at the door, and the boy grimed

 

with crock and dirt from the hair of his head to the sole of his

 

foot!"

 

With that, she pounced upon me, like an eagle on a lamb, and my

 

face was squeezed into wooden bowls in sinks, and my head was put

 

under taps of water-butts, and I was soaped, and kneaded, and

 

towelled, and thumped, and harrowed, and rasped, until I really was

 

quite beside myself. (I may here remark that I suppose myself to be

 

better acquainted than any living authority, with the ridgy effect

 

of a wedding-ring, passing unsympathetically over the human

 

countenance.)

 

When my ablutions were completed, I was put into clean linen of the

 

stiffest character, like a young penitent into sackcloth, and was

 

trussed up in my tightest and fearfullest suit. I was then

 

delivered over to Mr. Pumblechook, who formally received me as if he

 

were the Sheriff, and who let off upon me the speech that I knew he

 

had been dying to make all along: "Boy, be forever grateful to all friends, but especially unto them which brought you up by hand!"

 

"Good-bye, Joe!"

 

"God bless you, Pip, old chap!"

 

I had never parted from him before, and what with my feelings and

 

what with soapsuds, I could at first see no stars from the

 

chaise-cart. But they twinkled out one by one, without throwing any

 

light on the questions why on earth I was going to play at Miss

 

Havisham's, and what on earth I was expected to play at.

 

Chapter VIII

 

Mr. Pumblechook's premises in the High Street of the market town,

 

were of a peppercorny and farinaceous character, as the premises of

 

a cornchandler and seedsman should be. It appeared to me that he

 

must be a very happy man indeed, to have so many little drawers in

 

his shop; and I wondered when I peeped into one or two on the lower

 

tiers, and saw the tied-up brown paper packets inside, whether the

 

flower-seeds and bulbs ever wanted of a fine day to break out of

 

those jails, and bloom.

 

It was in the early morning after my arrival that I entertained this speculation. On the previous night, I had been sent straight

 

to bed in an attic with a sloping roof, which was so low in the

 

corner where the bedstead was, that I calculated the tiles as being

 

within a foot of my eyebrows. In the same early morning, I

 

discovered a singular affinity between seeds and corduroys. Mr.

 

Pumblechook wore corduroys, and so did his shopman; and somehow,

 

there was a general air and flavor about the corduroys, so much in

 

the nature of seeds, and a general air and flavor about the seeds,

 

so much in the nature of corduroys, that I hardly knew which was

 

which. The same opportunity served me for noticing that Mr.

 

Pumblechook appeared to conduct his business by looking across the

 

street at the saddler, who appeared to transact his business by

 

keeping his eye on the coachmaker, who appeared to get on in life

 

by putting his hands in his pockets and contemplating the baker,

 

who in his turn folded his arms and stared at the grocer, who stood

 

at his door and yawned at the chemist. The watchmaker, always

 

poring over a little desk with a magnifying-glass at his eye, and

 

always inspected by a group of smock-frocks poring over him through

 

the glass of his shop-window, seemed to be about the only person in

 

the High Street whose trade engaged his attention.

 

Mr. Pumblechook and I breakfasted at eight o'clock in the parlor

 

behind the shop, while the shopman took his mug of tea and hunch of

 

bread and butter on a sack of peas in the front premises. I

 

considered Mr. Pumblechook wretched company. Besides being possessed by my sister's idea that a mortifying and penitential character

 

ought to be imparted to my diet,--besides giving me as much crumb

 

as possible in combination with as little butter, and putting such

 

a quantity of warm water into my milk that it would have been more

 

candid to have left the milk out altogether,--his conversation

 

consisted of nothing but arithmetic. On my politely bidding him

 

Good morning, he said, pompously, "Seven times nine, boy?" And how

 

should I be able to answer, dodged in that way, in a strange place,

 

on an empty stomach! I was hungry, but before I had swallowed a

 

morsel, he began a running sum that lasted all through the

 

breakfast. "Seven?" "And four?" "And eight?" "And six?" "And two?"

 

"And ten?" And so on. And after each figure was disposed of, it was

 

as much as I could do to get a bite or a sup, before the next came;

 

while he sat at his ease guessing nothing, and eating bacon and hot

 

roll, in (if I may be allowed the expression) a gorging and

 

gormandizing manner.

 

For such reasons, I was very glad when ten o'clock came and we

 

started for Miss Havisham's; though I was not at all at my ease

 

regarding the manner in which I should acquit myself under that

 

lady's roof. Within a quarter of an hour we came to Miss Havisham's

 

house, which was of old brick, and dismal, and had a great many

 

iron bars to it. Some of the windows had been walled up; of those

 

that remained, all the lower were rustily barred. There was a

 

courtyard in front, and that was barred; so we had to wait, after ringing the bell, until some one should come to open it. While we

 

waited at the gate, I peeped in (even then Mr. Pumblechook said,

 

"And fourteen?" but I pretended not to hear him), and saw that at

 

the side of the house there was a large brewery. No brewing was going

 

on in it, and none seemed to have gone on for a long long time.

 

A window was raised, and a clear voice demanded "What name?" To

 

which my conductor replied, "Pumblechook." The voice returned,

 

"Quite right," and the window was shut again, and a young lady came

 

across the court-yard, with keys in her hand.

 

"This," said Mr. Pumblechook, "is Pip."

 

"This is Pip, is it?" returned the young lady, who was very pretty

 

and seemed very proud; "come in, Pip."

 

Mr. Pumblechook was coming in also, when she stopped him with the

 

gate.

 

"Oh!" she said. "Did you wish to see Miss Havisham?"

 

"If Miss Havisham wished to see me," returned Mr. Pumblechook,

 

discomfited.

 

"Ah!" said the girl; "but you see she don't." She said it so finally, and in such an undiscussible way, that Mr.

 

Pumblechook, though in a condition of ruffled dignity, could not

 

protest. But he eyed me severely,--as if I had done anything to

 

him!--and departed with the words reproachfully delivered: "Boy!

 

Let your behavior here be a credit unto them which brought you up

 

by hand!" I was not free from apprehension that he would come back

 

to propound through the gate, "And sixteen?" But he didn't.

 

My young conductress locked the gate, and we went across the

 

courtyard. It was paved and clean, but grass was growing in every

 

crevice. The brewery buildings had a little lane of communication

 

with it, and the wooden gates of that lane stood open, and all the

 

brewery beyond stood open, away to the high enclosing wall; and

 

all was empty and disused. The cold wind seemed to blow colder

 

there than outside the gate; and it made a shrill noise in howling

 

in and out at the open sides of the brewery, like the noise of wind

 

in the rigging of a ship at sea.

 

She saw me looking at it, and she said, "You could drink without

 

hurt all the strong beer that's brewed there now, boy."

 

"I should think I could, miss," said I, in a shy way.

 

"Better not try to brew beer there now, or it would turn out sour, boy; don't you think so?"

 

"It looks like it, miss."

 

"Not that anybody means to try," she added, "for that's all done

 

with, and the place will stand as idle as it is till it falls. As

 

to strong beer, there's enough of it in the cellars already, to

 

drown the Manor House."

 

"Is that the name of this house, miss?"

 

"One of its names, boy."

 

"It has more than one, then, miss?"

 

"One more. Its other name was Satis; which is Greek, or Latin, or

 

Hebrew, or all three--or all one to me--for enough."

 

"Enough House," said I; "that's a curious name, miss."

 

"Yes," she replied; "but it meant more than it said. It meant, when

 

it was given, that whoever had this house could want nothing else.

 

They must have been easily satisfied in those days, I should think.

 

But don't loiter, boy." Though she called me "boy" so often, and with a carelessness that

 

was far from complimentary, she was of about my own age. She seemed

 

much older than I, of course, being a girl, and beautiful and

 

self-possessed; and she was as scornful of me as if she had been

 

one-and-twenty, and a queen.

 

We went into the house by a side door, the great front entrance

 

had two chains across it outside,--and the first thing I noticed

 

was, that the passages were all dark, and that she had left a

 

candle burning there. She took it up, and we went through more

 

passages and up a staircase, and still it was all dark, and only

 

the candle lighted us.

 

At last we came to the door of a room, and she said, "Go in."

 

I answered, more in shyness than politeness, "After you, miss."

 

To this she returned: "Don't be ridiculous, boy; I am not going

 

in." And scornfully walked away, and--what was worse--took the

 

candle with her.

 

This was very uncomfortable, and I was half afraid. However, the

 

only thing to be done being to knock at the door, I knocked, and

 

was told from within to enter. I entered, therefore, and found

 

myself in a pretty large room, well lighted with wax candles. No glimpse of daylight was to be seen in it. It was a dressing-room,

 

as I supposed from the furniture, though much of it was of forms

 

and uses then quite unknown to me. But prominent in it was a draped

 

table with a gilded looking-glass, and that I made out at first

 

sight to be a fine lady's dressing-table.

 

Whether I should have made out this object so soon if there had

 

been no fine lady sitting at it, I cannot say. In an arm-chair,

 

with an elbow resting on the table and her head leaning on that

 

hand, sat the strangest lady I have ever seen, or shall ever see.

 

She was dressed in rich materials,--satins, and lace, and silks,--

 

all of white. Her shoes were white. And she had a long white veil

 

dependent from her hair, and she had bridal flowers in her hair,

 

but her hair was white. Some bright jewels sparkled on her neck and

 

on her hands, and some other jewels lay sparkling on the table.

 

Dresses, less splendid than the dress she wore, and half-packed

 

trunks, were scattered about. She had not quite finished dressing,

 

for she had but one shoe on,--the other was on the table near her

 

hand,--her veil was but half arranged, her watch and chain were not

 

put on, and some lace for her bosom lay with those trinkets, and