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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




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




"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




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




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




"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




"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




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




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




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




"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




"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




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




"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




"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




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,




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


"No, sir! No!"


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




"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




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




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,--




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




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--




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




"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




"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




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,




"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




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




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:--








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




"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




"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




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




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."




"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,




"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




"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




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




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




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




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




"Oh!" she said. "Did you wish to see Miss Havisham?"


"If Miss Havisham wished to see me," returned Mr. Pumblechook,




"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