Great Expectations by Charles Dickens - HTML preview

PLEASE NOTE: This is an HTML preview only and some elements such as links or page numbers may be incorrect.
Download the book in PDF, ePub, Kindle for a complete version.

 

with her handkerchief, and gloves, and some flowers, and a

 

Prayer-Book all confusedly heaped about the looking-glass.

 

It was not in the first few moments that I saw all these things, though I saw more of them in the first moments than might be

 

supposed. But I saw that everything within my view which ought to

 

be white, had been white long ago, and had lost its lustre and was

 

faded and yellow. I saw that the bride within the bridal dress had

 

withered like the dress, and like the flowers, and had no

 

brightness left but the brightness of her sunken eyes. I saw that

 

the dress had been put upon the rounded figure of a young woman,

 

and that the figure upon which it now hung loose had shrunk to

 

skin and bone. Once, I had been taken to see some ghastly waxwork

 

at the Fair, representing I know not what impossible personage

 

lying in state. Once, I had been taken to one of our old marsh

 

churches to see a skeleton in the ashes of a rich dress that had

 

been dug out of a vault under the church pavement. Now, waxwork and

 

skeleton seemed to have dark eyes that moved and looked at me. I

 

should have cried out, if I could.

 

"Who is it?" said the lady at the table.

 

"Pip, ma'am."

 

"Pip?"

 

"Mr. Pumblechook's boy, ma'am. Come--to play."

 

"Come nearer; let me look at you. Come close." It was when I stood before her, avoiding her eyes, that I took note

 

of the surrounding objects in detail, and saw that her watch had

 

stopped at twenty minutes to nine, and that a clock in the room had

 

stopped at twenty minutes to nine.

 

"Look at me," said Miss Havisham. "You are not afraid of a woman

 

who has never seen the sun since you were born?"

 

I regret to state that I was not afraid of telling the enormous lie

 

comprehended in the answer "No."

 

"Do you know what I touch here?" she said, laying her hands, one

 

upon the other, on her left side.

 

"Yes, ma'am." (It made me think of the young man.)

 

"What do I touch?"

 

"Your heart."

 

"Broken!"

 

She uttered the word with an eager look, and with strong emphasis,

 

and with a weird smile that had a kind of boast in it. Afterwards she kept her hands there for a little while, and slowly took them

 

away as if they were heavy.

 

"I am tired," said Miss Havisham. "I want diversion, and I have

 

done with men and women. Play."

 

I think it will be conceded by my most disputatious reader, that

 

she could hardly have directed an unfortunate boy to do anything in

 

the wide world more difficult to be done under the circumstances.

 

"I sometimes have sick fancies," she went on, "and I have a sick

 

fancy that I want to see some play. There, there!" with an impatient

 

movement of the fingers of her right hand; "play, play, play!"

 

For a moment, with the fear of my sister's working me before my

 

eyes, I had a desperate idea of starting round the room in the

 

assumed character of Mr. Pumblechook's chaise-cart. But I felt

 

myself so unequal to the performance that I gave it up, and stood

 

looking at Miss Havisham in what I suppose she took for a dogged

 

manner, inasmuch as she said, when we had taken a good look at each

 

other,--

 

"Are you sullen and obstinate?"

 

"No, ma'am, I am very sorry for you, and very sorry I can't play just now. If you complain of me I shall get into trouble with my

 

sister, so I would do it if I could; but it's so new here, and so

 

strange, and so fine,--and melancholy--." I stopped, fearing I might

 

say too much, or had already said it, and we took another look at

 

each other.

 

Before she spoke again, she turned her eyes from me, and looked at

 

the dress she wore, and at the dressing-table, and finally at

 

herself in the looking-glass.

 

"So new to him," she muttered, "so old to me; so strange to him, so

 

familiar to me; so melancholy to both of us! Call Estella."

 

As she was still looking at the reflection of herself, I thought

 

she was still talking to herself, and kept quiet.

 

"Call Estella," she repeated, flashing a look at me. "You can do

 

that. Call Estella. At the door."

 

To stand in the dark in a mysterious passage of an unknown house,

 

bawling Estella to a scornful young lady neither visible nor

 

responsive, and feeling it a dreadful liberty so to roar out her

 

name, was almost as bad as playing to order. But she answered at

 

last, and her light came along the dark passage like a star. Miss Havisham beckoned her to come close, and took up a jewel from

 

the table, and tried its effect upon her fair young bosom and

 

against her pretty brown hair. "Your own, one day, my dear, and you

 

will use it well. Let me see you play cards with this boy."

 

"With this boy? Why, he is a common laboring boy!"

 

I thought I overheard Miss Havisham answer,--only it seemed so

 

Unlikely,--"Well? You can break his heart."

 

"What do you play, boy?" asked Estella of myself, with the greatest

 

disdain.

 

"Nothing but beggar my neighbor, miss."

 

"Beggar him," said Miss Havisham to Estella. So we sat down to

 

cards.

 

It was then I began to understand that everything in the room had

 

stopped, like the watch and the clock, a long time ago. I noticed

 

that Miss Havisham put down the jewel exactly on the spot from

 

which she had taken it up. As Estella dealt the cards, I glanced at

 

the dressing-table again, and saw that the shoe upon it, once

 

white, now yellow, had never been worn. I glanced down at the foot

 

from which the shoe was absent, and saw that the silk stocking on it, once white, now yellow, had been trodden ragged. Without this

 

arrest of everything, this standing still of all the pale decayed

 

objects, not even the withered bridal dress on the collapsed form

 

could have looked so like grave-clothes, or the long veil so like a

 

shroud.

 

So she sat, corpse-like, as we played at cards; the frillings and

 

trimmings on her bridal dress, looking like earthy paper. I knew

 

nothing then of the discoveries that are occasionally made of

 

bodies buried in ancient times, which fall to powder in the moment

 

of being distinctly seen; but, I have often thought since, that she

 

must have looked as if the admission of the natural light of day

 

would have struck her to dust.

 

"He calls the knaves Jacks, this boy!" said Estella with disdain,

 

before our first game was out. "And what coarse hands he has! And

 

what thick boots!"

 

I had never thought of being ashamed of my hands before; but I

 

began to consider them a very indifferent pair. Her contempt for me

 

was so strong, that it became infectious, and I caught it.

 

She won the game, and I dealt. I misdealt, as was only natural,

 

when I knew she was lying in wait for me to do wrong; and she

 

denounced me for a stupid, clumsy laboring-boy. "You say nothing of her," remarked Miss Havisham to me, as she

 

looked on. "She says many hard things of you, but you say nothing

 

of her. What do you think of her?"

 

"I don't like to say," I stammered.

 

"Tell me in my ear," said Miss Havisham, bending down.

 

"I think she is very proud," I replied, in a whisper.

 

"Anything else?"

 

"I think she is very pretty."

 

"Anything else?"

 

"I think she is very insulting." (She was looking at me then with a

 

look of supreme aversion.)

 

"Anything else?"

 

"I think I should like to go home."

 

"And never see her again, though she is so pretty?" "I am not sure that I shouldn't like to see her again, but I should

 

like to go home now."

 

"You shall go soon," said Miss Havisham, aloud. "Play the game

 

out."

 

Saving for the one weird smile at first, I should have felt almost

 

sure that Miss Havisham's face could not smile. It had dropped into

 

a watchful and brooding expression,--most likely when all the

 

things about her had become transfixed,--and it looked as if

 

nothing could ever lift it up again. Her chest had dropped, so that

 

she stooped; and her voice had dropped, so that she spoke low, and

 

with a dead lull upon her; altogether, she had the appearance of

 

having dropped body and soul, within and without, under the weight

 

of a crushing blow.

 

I played the game to an end with Estella, and she beggared me. She

 

threw the cards down on the table when she had won them all, as if

 

she despised them for having been won of me.

 

"When shall I have you here again?" said Miss Havisham. "Let me

 

think."

 

I was beginning to remind her that to-day was Wednesday, when she checked me with her former impatient movement of the fingers of her

 

right hand.

 

"There, there! I know nothing of days of the week; I know nothing

 

of weeks of the year. Come again after six days. You hear?"

 

"Yes, ma'am."

 

"Estella, take him down. Let him have something to eat, and let him

 

roam and look about him while he eats. Go, Pip."

 

I followed the candle down, as I had followed the candle up, and

 

she stood it in the place where we had found it. Until she opened

 

the side entrance, I had fancied, without thinking about it, that

 

it must necessarily be night-time. The rush of the daylight quite

 

confounded me, and made me feel as if I had been in the candlelight

 

of the strange room many hours.

 

"You are to wait here, you boy," said Estella; and disappeared and

 

closed the door.

 

I took the opportunity of being alone in the courtyard to look at

 

my coarse hands and my common boots. My opinion of those

 

accessories was not favorable. They had never troubled me before,

 

but they troubled me now, as vulgar appendages. I determined to ask Joe why he had ever taught me to call those picture-cards Jacks,

 

which ought to be called knaves. I wished Joe had been rather more

 

genteelly brought up, and then I should have been so too.

 

She came back, with some bread and meat and a little mug of beer.

 

She put the mug down on the stones of the yard, and gave me the

 

bread and meat without looking at me, as insolently as if I were a

 

dog in disgrace. I was so humiliated, hurt, spurned, offended,

 

angry, sorry,--I cannot hit upon the right name for the smart--God

 

knows what its name was,--that tears started to my eyes. The moment

 

they sprang there, the girl looked at me with a quick delight in

 

having been the cause of them. This gave me power to keep them back

 

and to look at her: so, she gave a contemptuous toss--but with a

 

sense, I thought, of having made too sure that I was so wounded--

 

and left me.

 

But when she was gone, I looked about me for a place to hide my

 

face in, and got behind one of the gates in the brewery-lane, and

 

leaned my sleeve against the wall there, and leaned my forehead on

 

it and cried. As I cried, I kicked the wall, and took a hard twist

 

at my hair; so bitter were my feelings, and so sharp was the smart

 

without a name, that needed counteraction.

 

My sister's bringing up had made me sensitive. In the little world

 

in which children have their existence whosoever brings them up, there is nothing so finely perceived and so finely felt as

 

injustice. It may be only small injustice that the child can be

 

exposed to; but the child is small, and its world is small, and its

 

rocking-horse stands as many hands high, according to scale, as a

 

big-boned Irish hunter. Within myself, I had sustained, from my

 

babyhood, a perpetual conflict with injustice. I had known, from

 

the time when I could speak, that my sister, in her capricious and

 

violent coercion, was unjust to me. I had cherished a profound

 

conviction that her bringing me up by hand gave her no right to

 

bring me up by jerks. Through all my punishments, disgraces, fasts,

 

and vigils, and other penitential performances, I had nursed this

 

assurance; and to my communing so much with it, in a solitary and

 

unprotected way, I in great part refer the fact that I was morally

 

timid and very sensitive.

 

I got rid of my injured feelings for the time by kicking them into

 

the brewery wall, and twisting them out of my hair, and then I

 

smoothed my face with my sleeve, and came from behind the gate. The

 

bread and meat were acceptable, and the beer was warming and

 

tingling, and I was soon in spirits to look about me.

 

To be sure, it was a deserted place, down to the pigeon-house in

 

the brewery-yard, which had been blown crooked on its pole by some

 

high wind, and would have made the pigeons think themselves at sea,

 

if there had been any pigeons there to be rocked by it. But there were no pigeons in the dove-cot, no horses in the stable, no pigs

 

in the sty, no malt in the storehouse, no smells of grains and

 

beer in the copper or the vat. All the uses and scents of the

 

brewery might have evaporated with its last reek of smoke. In a

 

by-yard, there was a wilderness of empty casks, which had a certain

 

sour remembrance of better days lingering about them; but it was

 

too sour to be accepted as a sample of the beer that was gone,--and

 

in this respect I remember those recluses as being like most

 

others.

 

Behind the furthest end of the brewery, was a rank garden with an

 

old wall; not so high but that I could struggle up and hold on long

 

enough to look over it, and see that the rank garden was the garden

 

of the house, and that it was overgrown with tangled weeds, but

 

that there was a track upon the green and yellow paths, as if some

 

one sometimes walked there, and that Estella was walking away from

 

me even then. But she seemed to be everywhere. For when I yielded

 

to the temptation presented by the casks, and began to walk on

 

them, I saw her walking on them at the end of the yard of casks.

 

She had her back towards me, and held her pretty brown hair spread

 

out in her two hands, and never looked round, and passed out of my

 

view directly. So, in the brewery itself,--by which I mean the

 

large paved lofty place in which they used to make the beer, and

 

where the brewing utensils still were. When I first went into it,

 

and, rather oppressed by its gloom, stood near the door looking about me, I saw her pass among the extinguished fires, and ascend

 

some light iron stairs, and go out by a gallery high overhead, as

 

if she were going out into the sky.

 

It was in this place, and at this moment, that a strange thing

 

happened to my fancy. I thought it a strange thing then, and I

 

thought it a stranger thing long afterwards. I turned my eyes--a

 

little dimmed by looking up at the frosty light--towards a great

 

wooden beam in a low nook of the building near me on my right hand,

 

and I saw a figure hanging there by the neck. A figure all in

 

yellow white, with but one shoe to the feet; and it hung so, that I

 

could see that the faded trimmings of the dress were like earthy

 

paper, and that the face was Miss Havisham's, with a movement going

 

over the whole countenance as if she were trying to call to me. In

 

the terror of seeing the figure, and in the terror of being certain

 

that it had not been there a moment before, I at first ran from it,

 

and then ran towards it. And my terror was greatest of all when I

 

found no figure there.

 

Nothing less than the frosty light of the cheerful sky, the sight

 

of people passing beyond the bars of the court-yard gate, and the

 

reviving influence of the rest of the bread and meat and beer,

 

would have brought me round. Even with those aids, I might not have

 

come to myself as soon as I did, but that I saw Estella approaching

 

with the keys, to let me out. She would have some fair reason for looking down upon me, I thought, if she saw me frightened; and she

 

would have no fair reason.

 

She gave me a triumphant glance in passing me, as if she rejoiced

 

that my hands were so coarse and my boots were so thick, and she

 

opened the gate, and stood holding it. I was passing out without

 

looking at her, when she touched me with a taunting hand.

 

"Why don't you cry?"

 

"Because I don't want to."

 

"You do," said she. "You have been crying till you are half blind,

 

and you are near crying again now."

 

She laughed contemptuously, pushed me out, and locked the gate upon

 

me. I went straight to Mr. Pumblechook's, and was immensely relieved

 

to find him not at home. So, leaving word with the shopman on what

 

day I was wanted at Miss Havisham's again, I set off on the

 

four-mile walk to our forge; pondering, as I went along, on all I

 

had seen, and deeply revolving that I was a common laboring-boy;

 

that my hands were coarse; that my boots were thick; that I had

 

fallen into a despicable habit of calling knaves Jacks; that I was

 

much more ignorant than I had considered myself last night, and

 

generally that I was in a low-lived bad way. Chapter IX

 

When I reached home, my sister was very curious to know all about

 

Miss Havisham's, and asked a number of questions. And I soon found

 

myself getting heavily bumped from behind in the nape of the neck

 

and the small of the back, and having my face ignominiously shoved

 

against the kitchen wall, because I did not answer those questions

 

at sufficient length.

 

If a dread of not being understood be hidden in the breasts of

 

other young people to anything like the extent to which it used to

 

be hidden in mine,--which I consider probable, as I have no

 

particular reason to suspect myself of having been a monstrosity,--

 

it is the key to many reservations. I felt convinced that if I

 

described Miss Havisham's as my eyes had seen it, I should not be

 

understood. Not only that, but I felt convinced that Miss Havisham

 

too would not be understood; and although she was perfectly

 

incomprehensible to me, I entertained an impression that there

 

would be something coarse and treacherous in my dragging her as she

 

really was (to say nothing of Miss Estella) before the

 

contemplation of Mrs. Joe. Consequently, I said as little as I

 

could, and had my face shoved against the kitchen wall. The worst of it was that that bullying old Pumblechook, preyed upon

 

by a devouring curiosity to be informed of all I had seen and

 

heard, came gaping over in his chaise-cart at tea-time, to have the

 

details divulged to him. And the mere sight of the torment, with

 

his fishy eyes and mouth open, his sandy hair inquisitively on end,

 

and his waistcoat heaving with windy arithmetic, made me vicious in

 

my reticence.

 

"Well, boy," Uncle Pumblechook began, as soon as he was seated in

 

the chair of honor by the fire. "How did you get on up town?"

 

I answered, "Pretty well, sir," and my sister shook her fist at me.

 

"Pretty well?" Mr. Pumblechook repeated. "Pretty well is no answer.

 

Tell us what you mean by pretty well, boy?"

 

Whitewash on the forehead hardens the brain into a state of

 

obstinacy perhaps. Anyhow, with whitewash from the wall on my

 

forehead, my obstinacy was adamantine. I reflected for some time,

 

and then answered as if I had discovered a new idea, "I mean pretty

 

well."

 

My sister with an exclamation of impatience was going to fly at me,

 

--I had no shadow of defence, for Joe was busy in the forge,--when Mr.

 

Pumblechook interposed with "No! Don't lose your temper. Leave this lad to me, ma'am; leave this lad to me." Mr. Pumblechook then turned

 

me towards him, as if he were going to cut my hair, and said,--

 

"First(to get our thoughts in order): Forty-three pence?"

 

I calculated the consequences of replying "Four Hundred Pound," and

 

finding them against me, went as near the answer as I could--which

 

was somewhere about eightpence off. Mr. Pumblechook then put me

 

through my pence-table from "twelve pence make one shilling," up to

 

"forty pence make three and fourpence," and then triumphantly

 

demanded, as if he had done for me, "Now! How much is forty-three

 

pence?" To which I replied, after a long interval of reflection, "I

 

don't know." And I was so aggravated that I almost doubt if I did

 

know.

 

Mr. Pumblechook worked his head like a screw to screw it out of me,

 

and said, "Is forty-three pence seven and sixpence three fardens,

 

for instance?"

 

"Yes!" said I. And although my sister instantly boxed my ears, it

 

was highly gratifying to me to see that the answer spoilt his joke,

 

and brought him to a dead stop.

 

"Boy! What like is Miss Havisham?" Mr. Pumblechook began again when

 

he had recovered; folding his arms tight on his chest and applying the screw.

 

"Very tall and dark," I told him.

 

"Is she, uncle?" asked my sister.

 

Mr. Pumblechook winked assent; from which I at once inferred that he

 

had never seen Miss Havisham, for she was nothing of the kind.

 

"Good!" said Mr. Pumblechook conceitedly. ("This is the way to have

 

him! We are beginning to hold our own, I think, Mum?")

 

"I am sure, uncle," returned Mrs. Joe, "I wish you had him always;

 

you know so well how to deal with him."

 

"Now, boy! What was she a doing of, when you went in today?" asked

 

Mr. Pumblechook.

 

"She was sitting," I answered, "in a black velvet coach."

 

Mr. Pumblechook and Mrs. Joe stared at one another--as they well

 

Might--and both repeated, "In a black velvet coach?"

 

"Yes," said I. "And Miss Estella--that's her niece, I think--

 

handed her in cake and wine at the coach-window, on a gold plate. And we all had cake and wine on gold plates. And I got up behind

 

the coach to eat mine, because she told me to."

 

"Was anybody else there?" asked Mr. Pumblechook.

 

"Four dogs," said I.

 

"Large or small?"

 

"Immense," said I. "And they fought for veal-cutlets out of a

 

silver basket."

 

Mr. Pumblechook and Mrs. Joe stared at one another again, in utter

 

amazement. I was perfectly frantic,--a reckless witness under the

 

torture,--and would have told them anything.

 

"Where was this coach, in the name of gracious?" asked my sister.

 

"In Miss Havisham's room." They stared again. "But there weren't

 

any horses to it." I added this saving clause, in the moment of

 

rejecting four richly caparisoned coursers which I had had wild

 

thoughts of harnessing.

 

"Can this be possible, uncle?" asked Mrs. Joe. "What can the boy

 

mean?" "I'll tell you, Mum," said Mr. Pumblechook. "My opinion is, it's a

 

sedan-chair. She's flighty, you know,--very flighty,--quite flighty

 

enough to pass her days in a sedan-chair."

 

"Did you ever see her in it, uncle?" asked Mrs. Joe.

 

"How could I," he returned, forced to the admission, "when I never

 

see her in my life? Never clapped eyes upon her!"

 

"Goodness, uncle! And yet you have spoken to her?"

 

"Why, don't you know," said Mr. Pumblechook, testily, "that when I

 

have been there, I have been took up to the outside of her door,

 

and the door has stood ajar, and she has spoke to me that way.

 

Don't say you don't know that, Mum. Howsever, the boy went there to

 

play. What did you play at, boy?"

 

"We played with flags," I said. (I beg to observe that I think of

 

myself with amazement, when I recall the lies I told on this

 

occasion.)

 

"Flags!" echoed my sister.

 

"Yes," said I. "Estella waved a blue flag, and I waved a red one, and Miss Havisham waved one sprinkled all over with little gold

 

stars, out at the coach-window. And then we all waved our swords

 

and hurrahed."

 

"Swords!" repeated my sister. "Where did you get swords from?"

 

"Out of a cupboard," said I. "And I saw pistols in it,--and jam,--

 

and pills. And there was no daylight in the room, but it was all

 

lighted up with candles."

 

"That's true, Mum," said Mr. Pumblechook, with a grave nod. "That's

 

the state of the case, for that much I've seen myself." And then

 

they both stared at me, and I, with an obtrusive show of

 

artlessness on my countenance, stared at them, and plaited the

 

right leg of my trousers with my right hand.

 

If they had asked me any more questions, I should undoubtedly have

 

betrayed myself, for I was even then on the point of mentioning

 

that there was a balloon in the yard, and should have hazarded the

 

statement but for my invention being divided between that

 

phenomenon and a bear in the brewery. They were so much occupied,

 

however, in discussing the marvels I had already presented for

 

their consideration, that I escaped. The subject still held them

 

when Joe came in from his work to have a cup of tea. To whom my

 

sister, more for the relief of her own mind than for the gratification of his, related my pretended experiences.

 

Now, when I saw Joe open his blue eyes and roll them all round the

 

kitchen in helpless amazement, I was overtaken by penitence; but

 

only as regarded him,--not in the least as regarded the other two.

 

Towards Joe, and Joe only, I considered myself a young monster,

 

while they sat debating what results would come to me from Miss

 

Havisham's acquaintance and favor. They had no doubt that Miss

 

Havisham would "do something" for me; their doubts related to the

 

form that something would take. My sister stood out for "property."

 

Mr. Pumblechook was in favor of a handsome premium for binding me

 

apprentice to some genteel trade,--say, the corn and seed trade,

 

for instance. Joe fell into the deepest disgrace with both, for

 

offering the bright suggestion that I might only be presented with

 

one of the dogs who had fought for the veal-cutlets. "If a fool's

 

head can't express better opinions than that," said my sister, "and

 

you have got any work to do, you had better go and do it." So he

 

went.

 

After Mr. Pumblechook had driven off, and when my sister was washing

 

up, I stole into the forge to Joe, and remained by him until he had

 

done for the night. Then I said, "Before the fire goes out, Joe, I

 

should like to tell you something."

 

"Should you, Pip?" said Joe, drawing his shoeing-stool near the forge. "Then tell us. What is it, Pip?"

 

"Joe," said I, taking hold of his rolled-up shirt sleeve, and

 

twisting it between my finger and thumb, "you remember all that

 

about Miss Havisham's?"

 

"Remember?" said Joe. "I believe you! Wonderful!"

 

"It's a terrible thing, Joe; it ain't true."

 

"What are you telling of, Pip?" cried Joe, falling back in the

 

greatest amazement. "You don't mean to say it's--"

 

"Yes I do; it's lies, Joe."

 

"But not all of it? Why sure you don't mean to say, Pip, that there

 

was no black welwet co--ch?" For, I stood shaking my head. "But at

 

least there was dogs, Pip? Come, Pip," said Joe, persuasively, "if

 

there warn't no weal-cutlets, at least there was dogs?"

 

"No, Joe."

 

"A dog?" said Joe. "A puppy? Come?"

 

"No, Joe, there was nothing at all of the kind." As I fixed my eyes hopelessly on Joe, Joe contemplated me in

 

dismay. "Pip, old chap! This won't do, old fellow! I say! Where do

 

you expect to go to?"

 

"It's terrible, Joe; ain't it?"

 

"Terrible?" cried Joe. "Awful! What possessed you?"

 

"I don't know what possessed me, Joe," I replied, letting his shirt

 

sleeve go, and sitting down in the ashes at his feet, hanging my

 

head; "but I wish you hadn't taught me to call Knaves at cards

 

Jacks; and I wish my boots weren't so thick nor my hands so

 

coarse."

 

And then I told Joe that I felt very miserable, and that I hadn't

 

been able to explain myself to Mrs. Joe and Pumblechook, who were so

 

rude to me, and that there had been a beautiful young lady at Miss

 

Havisham's who was dreadfully proud, and that she had said I was

 

common, and that I knew I was common, and that I wished I was not

 

common, and that the lies had come of it somehow, though I didn't

 

know how.

 

This was a case of metaphysics, at least as difficult for Joe to

 

deal with as for me. But Joe took the case altogether out of the region of metaphysics, and by that means vanquished it.

 

"There's one thing you may be sure of, Pip," said Joe, after some

 

rumination, "namely, that lies is lies. Howsever they come, they

 

didn't ought to come, and they come from the father of lies, and

 

work round to the same. Don't you tell no more of 'em, Pip. That

 

ain't the way to get out of being common, old chap. And as to being

 

common, I don't make it out at all clear. You are oncommon in some

 

things. You're oncommon small. Likewise you're a oncommon scholar."

 

"No, I am ignorant and backward, Joe."

 

"Why, see what a letter you wrote last night! Wrote in print even!

 

I've seen letters--Ah! and from gentlefolks!--that I'll swear

 

weren't wrote in print," said Joe.

 

"I have learnt next to nothing, Joe. You think much of me. It's

 

only that."

 

"Well, Pip," said Joe, "be it so or be it son't, you must be a

 

common scholar afore you can be a oncommon one, I should hope! The

 

king upon his throne, with his crown upon his ed, can't sit and

 

write his acts of Parliament in print, without having begun, when

 

he were a unpromoted Prince, with the alphabet.--Ah!" added Joe,

 

with a shake of the head that was full of meaning, "and begun at A. too, and worked his way to Z. And I know what that is to do, though

 

I can't say I've exactly done it."

 

There was some hope in this piece of wisdom, and it rather

 

encouraged me.

 

"Whether common ones as to callings and earnings," pursued Joe,

 

reflectively, "mightn't be the better of continuing for to keep

 

company with common ones, instead of going out to play with

 

oncommon ones,--which reminds me to hope that there were a flag,

 

perhaps?"

 

"No, Joe."

 

"(I'm sorry there weren't a flag, Pip). Whether that might be or

 

mightn't be, is a thing as can't be looked into now, without

 

putting your sister on the Rampage; and that's a thing not to be

 

thought of as being done intentional. Lookee here, Pip, at what is

 

said to you by a true friend. Which this to you the true friend

 

say. If you can't get to be oncommon through going straight, you'll

 

never get to do it through going crooked. So don't tell no more on

 

'em, Pip, and live well and die happy."

 

"You are not angry with me, Joe?" "No, old chap. But bearing in mind that them were which I

 

meantersay of a stunning and outdacious sort,--alluding to them

 

which bordered on weal-cutlets and dog-fighting,--a sincere

 

well-wisher would adwise, Pip, their being dropped into your

 

meditations, when you go up stairs to bed. That's all, old chap,

 

and don't never do it no more."

 

When I got up to my little room and said my prayers, I did not

 

forget Joe's recommendation, and yet my young mind was in that

 

disturbed and unthankful state, that I thought long after I laid me

 

down, how common Estella would consider Joe, a mere blacksmith; how

 

thick his boots, and how coarse his hands. I thought how Joe and my

 

sister were then sitting in the kitchen, and how I had come up to

 

bed from the kitchen, and how Miss Havisham and Estella never sat

 

in a kitchen, but were far above the level of such common doings. I

 

fell asleep recalling what I "used to do" when I was at Miss

 

Havisham's; as though I had been there weeks or months, instead of

 

hours; and as though it were quite an old subject of remembrance,

 

instead of one that had arisen only that day.

 

That was a memorable day to me, for it made great changes in me.

 

But it is the same with any life. Imagine one selected day struck

 

out of it, and think how different its course would have been.

 

Pause you who read this, and think for a moment of the long chain

 

of iron or gold, of thorns or flowers, that would never have bound you, but for the formation of the first link on one memorable day.

 

Chapter X

 

The felicitous idea occurred to me a morning or two later when I

 

woke, that the best step I could take towards making myself

 

uncommon was to get out of Biddy everything she knew. In pursuance

 

of this luminous conception I mentioned to Biddy when I went to Mr.

 

Wopsle's great-aunt's at night, that I had a particular reason for

 

wishing to get on in life, and that I should feel very much obliged

 

to her if she would impart all her learning to me. Biddy, who was

 

the most obliging of girls, immediately said she would, and indeed

 

began to carry out her promise within five minutes.

 

The Educational scheme or Course established by Mr. Wopsle's

 

great-aunt may be resolved into the following synopsis. The pupils

 

ate apples and put straws down one another's backs, until Mr.

 

Wopsle's great-aunt collected her energies, and made an

 

indiscriminate totter at them with a birch-rod. After receiving the

 

charge with every mark of derision, the pupils formed in line and

 

buzzingly passed a ragged book from hand to hand. The book had an

 

alphabet in it, some figures and tables, and a little spelling,--

 

that is to say, it had had once. As soon as this volume began to

 

circulate, Mr. Wopsle's great-aunt fell into a state of coma, arising either from sleep or a rheumatic paroxysm. The pupils then

 

entered among themselves upon a competitive examination on the

 

subject of Boots, with the view of ascertaining who could tread the

 

hardest upon whose toes. This mental exercise lasted until Biddy

 

made a rush at them and distributed three defaced Bibles (shaped as

 

if they had been unskilfully cut off the chump end of something),

 

more illegibly printed at the best than any curiosities of

 

literature I have since met with, speckled all over with ironmould,

 

and having various specimens of the insect world smashed between

 

their leaves. This part of the Course was usually lightened by

 

several single combats between Biddy and refractory students. When

 

the fights were over, Biddy gave out the number of a page, and then

 

we all read aloud what we could,--or what we couldn't--in a

 

frightful chorus; Biddy leading with a high, shrill, monotonous

 

voice, and none of us having the least notion of, or reverence for,

 

what we were reading about. When this horrible din had lasted a

 

certain time, it mechanically awoke Mr. Wopsle's great-aunt, who

 

staggered at a boy fortuitously, and pulled his ears. This was

 

understood to terminate the Course for the evening, and we emerged

 

into the air with shrieks of intellectual victory. It is fair to

 

remark that there was no prohibition against any pupil's

 

entertaining himself with a slate or even with the ink (when there

 

was any), but that it was not easy to pursue that branch of study

 

in the winter season, on account of the little general shop in

 

which the classes were holden--and which was also Mr. Wopsle's great-aunt's sitting-room and bedchamber--being but faintly

 

illuminated through the agency of one low-spirited dip-candle and

 

no snuffers.

 

It appeared to me that it would take time to become uncommon, under

 

these circumstances: nevertheless, I resolved to try it, and that

 

very evening Biddy entered on our special agreement, by imparting

 

some information from her little catalogue of Prices, under the

 

head of moist sugar, and lending me, to copy at home, a large old

 

English D which she had imitated from the heading of some

 

newspaper, and which I supposed, until she told me what it was, to

 

be a design for a buckle.

 

Of course there was a public-house in the village, and of course

 

Joe liked sometimes to smoke his pipe there. I had received strict

 

orders from my sister to call for him at the Three Jolly Bargemen,

 

that evening, on my way from school, and bring him home at my

 

peril. To the Three Jolly Bargemen, therefore, I directed my steps.

 

There was a bar at the Jolly Bargemen, with some alarmingly long

 

chalk scores in it on the wall at the side of the door, which

 

seemed to me to be never paid off. They had been there ever since I

 

could remember, and had grown more than I had. But there was a

 

quantity of chalk about our country, and perhaps the people

 

neglected no opportunity of turning it to account. It being Saturday night, I found the landlord looking rather grimly

 

at these records; but as my business was with Joe and not with him,

 

I merely wished him good evening, and passed into the common room

 

at the end of the passage, where there was a bright large kitchen

 

fire, and where Joe was smoking his pipe in company with Mr. Wopsle

 

and a stranger. Joe greeted me as usual with "Halloa, Pip, old

 

chap!" and the moment he said that, the stranger turned his head

 

and looked at me.

 

He was a secret-looking man whom I had never seen before. His head

 

was all on one side, and one of his eyes was half shut up, as if he

 

were taking aim at something with an invisible gun. He had a pipe

 

in his mouth, and he took it out, and, after slowly blowing all his

 

smoke away and looking hard at me all the time, nodded. So, I

 

nodded, and then he nodded again, and made room on the settle

 

beside him that I might sit down there.

 

But as I was used to sit beside Joe whenever I entered that place

 

of resort, I said "No, thank you, sir," and fell into the space Joe

 

made for me on the opposite settle. The strange man, after glancing

 

at Joe, and seeing that his attention was otherwise engaged, nodded

 

to me again when I had taken my seat, and then rubbed his leg--in

 

a very odd way, as it struck me. "You was saying," said the strange man, turning to Joe, "that you

 

was a blacksmith."

 

"Yes. I said it, you know," said Joe.

 

"What'll you drink, Mr.--? You didn't mention your name,

 

by the bye."

 

Joe mentioned it now, and the strange man called him by it.

 

"What'll you drink, Mr. Gargery? At my expense? To top up with?"

 

"Well," said Joe, "to tell you the truth, I ain't much in the habit

 

of drinking at anybody's expense but my own."

 

"Habit? No," returned the stranger, "but once and away, and on a

 

Saturday night too. Come! Put a name to it, Mr. Gargery."

 

"I wouldn't wish to be stiff company," said Joe. "Rum."

 

"Rum," repeated the stranger. "And will the other gentleman

 

originate a sentiment."

 

"Rum," said Mr. Wopsle.

 

"Three Rums!" cried the stranger, calling to the landlord. "Glasses round!"

 

"This other gentleman," observed Joe, by way of introducing Mr.

 

Wopsle, "is a gentleman that you would like to hear give it out.

 

Our clerk at church."

 

"Aha!" said the stranger, quickly, and cocking his eye at me. "The

 

lonely church, right out on the marshes, with graves round it!"

 

"That's it," said Joe.

 

The stranger, with a comfortable kind of grunt over his pipe, put

 

his legs up on the settle that he had to himself. He wore a

 

flapping broad-brimmed traveller's hat, and under it a handkerchief

 

tied over his head in the manner of a cap: so that he showed no

 

hair. As he looked at the fire, I thought I saw a cunning

 

expression, followed by a half-laugh, come into his face.

 

"I am not acquainted with this country, gentlemen, but it seems a

 

solitary country towards the river."

 

"Most marshes is solitary," said Joe.

 

"No doubt, no doubt. Do you find any gypsies, now, or tramps, or

 

vagrants of any sort, out there?" "No," said Joe; "none but a runaway convict now and then. And we

 

don't find them, easy. Eh, Mr. Wopsle?"

 

Mr. Wopsle, with a majestic remembrance of old discomfiture,

 

assented; but not warmly.

 

"Seems you have been out after such?" asked the stranger.

 

"Once," returned Joe. "Not that we wanted to take them, you

 

understand; we went out as lookers on; me, and Mr. Wopsle, and Pip.

 

Didn't us, Pip?"

 

"Yes, Joe."

 

The stranger looked at me again,--still cocking his eye, as if he

 

were expressly taking aim at me with his invisible gun,--and said,

 

"He's a likely young parcel of bones that. What is it you call

 

him?"

 

"Pip," said Joe.

 

"Christened Pip?"

 

"No, not christened Pip." "Surname Pip?"

 

"No," said Joe, "it's a kind of family name what he gave himself

 

when a infant, and is called by."

 

"Son of yours?"

 

"Well," said Joe, meditatively, not, of course, that it could be

 

in anywise necessary to consider about it, but because it was the

 

way at the Jolly Bargemen to seem to consider deeply about

 

everything that was discussed over pipes,--"well--no. No, he

 

ain't."

 

"Nevvy?" said the strange man.

 

"Well," said Joe, with the same appearance of profound cogitation,

 

"he is not--no, not to deceive you, he is not--my nevvy."

 

"What the Blue Blazes is he?" asked the stranger. Which appeared to

 

me to be an inquiry of unnecessary strength.

 

Mr. Wopsle struck in upon that; as one who knew all about

 

relationships, having professional occasion to bear in mind what

 

female relations a man might not marry; and expounded the ties between me and Joe. Having his hand in, Mr. Wopsle finished off with

 

a most terrifically snarling passage from Richard the Third, and

 

seemed to think he had done quite enough to account for it when he

 

added, "--as the poet says."

 

And here I may remark that when Mr. Wopsle referred to me, he

 

considered it a necessary part of such reference to rumple my hair

 

and poke it into my eyes. I cannot conceive why everybody of his

 

standing who visited at our house should always have put me through

 

the same inflammatory process under similar circumstances. Yet I do

 

not call to mind that I was ever in my earlier youth the subject of

 

remark in our social family circle, but some large-handed person

 

took some such ophthalmic steps to patronize me.

 

All this while, the strange man looked at nobody but me, and looked

 

at me as if he were determined to have a shot at me at last, and

 

bring me down. But he said nothing after offering his Blue Blazes

 

observation, until the glasses of rum and water were brought; and

 

then he made his shot, and a most extraordinary shot it was.

 

It was not a verbal remark, but a proceeding in dumb-show, and was

 

pointedly addressed to me. He stirred his rum and water pointedly

 

at me, and he tasted his rum and water pointedly at me. And he

 

stirred it and he tasted it; not with a spoon that was brought to

 

him, but with a file. He did this so that nobody but I saw the file; and when he had done

 

it he wiped the file and put it in a breast-pocket. I knew it to be

 

Joe's file, and I knew that he knew my convict, the moment I saw

 

the instrument. I sat gazing at him, spell-bound. But he now

 

reclined on his settle, taking very little notice of me, and

 

talking principally about turnips.

 

There was a delicious sense of cleaning-up and making a quiet pause

 

before going on in life afresh, in our village on Saturday nights,

 

which stimulated Joe to dare to stay out half an hour longer on

 

Saturdays than at other times. The half-hour and the rum and water

 

running out together, Joe got up to go, and took me by the hand.

 

"Stop half a moment, Mr. Gargery," said the strange man. "I think

 

I've got a bright new shilling somewhere in my pocket, and if I

 

have, the boy shall have it."

 

He looked it out from a handful of small change, folded it in some

 

crumpled paper, and gave it to me. "Yours!" said he. "Mind! Your

 

own."

 

I thanked him, staring at him far beyond the bounds of good

 

manners, and holding tight to Joe. He gave Joe good-night, and he

 

gave Mr. Wopsle good-night (who went out with us), and he gave me only a look with his aiming eye,--no, not a look, for he shut it

 

up, but wonders may be done with an eye by hiding it.

 

On the way home, if I had been in a humor for talking, the talk

 

must have been all on my side, for Mr. Wopsle parted from us at the

 

door of the Jolly Bargemen, and Joe went all the way home with his

 

mouth wide open, to rinse the rum out with as much air as possible.

 

But I was in a manner stupefied by this turning up of my old

 

misdeed and old acquaintance, and could think of nothing else.

 

My sister was not in a very bad temper when we presented ourselves

 

in the kitchen, and Joe was encouraged by that unusual circumstance

 

to tell her about the bright shilling. "A bad un, I'll be bound,"

 

said Mrs. Joe triumphantly, "or he wouldn't have given it to the

 

boy! Let's look at it."

 

I took it out of the paper, and it proved to be a good one. "But

 

what's this?" said Mrs. Joe, throwing down the shilling and catching

 

up the paper. "Two One-Pound notes?"

 

Nothing less than two fat sweltering one-pound notes that seemed to

 

have been on terms of the warmest intimacy with all the cattle-

 

markets in the county. Joe caught up his hat again, and ran with

 

them to the Jolly Bargemen to restore them to their owner. While he

 

was gone, I sat down on my usual stool and looked vacantly at my sister, feeling pretty sure that the man would not be there.

 

Presently, Joe came back, saying that the man was gone, but that

 

he, Joe, had left word at the Three Jolly Bargemen concerning the

 

notes. Then my sister sealed them up in a piece of paper, and put

 

them under some dried rose-leaves in an ornamental teapot on the

 

top of a press in the state parlor. There they remained, a

 

nightmare to me, many and many a night and day.

 

I had sadly broken sleep when I got to bed, through thinking of the

 

strange man taking aim at me with his invisible gun, and of the

 

guiltily coarse and common thing it was, to be on secret terms of

 

conspiracy with convicts,--a feature in my low career that I had

 

previously forgotten. I was haunted by the file too. A dread

 

possessed me that when I least expected it, the file would

 

reappear. I coaxed myself to sleep by thinking of Miss Havisham's,

 

next Wednesday; and in my sleep I saw the file coming at me out of

 

a door, without seeing who held it, and I screamed myself awake.

 

Chapter XI

 

At the appointed time I returned to Miss Havisham's, and my

 

hesitating ring at the gate brought out Estella. She locked it

 

after admitting me, as she had done before, and again preceded me into the dark passage where her candle stood. She took no notice of

 

me until she had the candle in her hand, when she looked over her

 

shoulder, superciliously saying, "You are to come this way to-day,"

 

and took me to quite another part of the house.

 

The passage was a long one, and seemed to pervade the whole square

 

basement of the Manor House. We traversed but one side of the

 

square, however, and at the end of it she stopped, and put her

 

candle down and opened a door. Here, the daylight reappeared, and I

 

found myself in a small paved courtyard, the opposite side of

 

which was formed by a detached dwelling-house, that looked as if it

 

had once belonged to the manager or head clerk of the extinct

 

brewery. There was a clock in the outer wall of this house. Like

 

the clock in Miss Havisham's room, and like Miss Havisham's watch,

 

it had stopped at twenty minutes to nine.

 

We went in at the door, which stood open, and into a gloomy room

 

with a low ceiling, on the ground-floor at the back. There was some

 

company in the room, and Estella said to me as she joined it, "You

 

are to go and stand there boy, till you are wanted." "There",

 

being the window, I crossed to it, and stood "there," in a very

 

uncomfortable state of mind, looking out.

 

It opened to the ground, and looked into a most miserable corner of

 

the neglected garden, upon a rank ruin of cabbage-stalks, and one box-tree that had been clipped round long ago, like a pudding, and

 

had a new growth at the top of it, out of shape and of a different

 

color, as if that part of the pudding had stuck to the saucepan

 

and got burnt. This was my homely thought, as I contemplated the

 

box-tree. There had been some light snow, overnight, and it lay

 

nowhere else to my knowledge; but, it had not quite melted from the

 

cold shadow of this bit of garden, and the wind caught it up in

 

little eddies and threw it at the window, as if it pelted me for

 

coming there.

 

I divined that my coming had stopped conversation in the room, and

 

that its other occupants were looking at me. I could see nothing of

 

the room except the shining of the fire in the window-glass, but I

 

stiffened in all my joints with the consciousness that I was under

 

close inspection.

 

There were three ladies in the room and one gentleman. Before I had

 

been standing at the window five minutes, they somehow conveyed to

 

me that they were all toadies and humbugs, but that each of them

 

pretended not to know that the others were toadies and humbugs:

 

because the admission that he or she did know it, would have made

 

him or her out to be a toady and humbug.

 

They all had a listless and dreary air of waiting somebody's

 

pleasure, and the most talkative of the ladies had to speak quite rigidly to repress a yawn. This lady, whose name was Camilla, very

 

much reminded me of my sister, with the difference that she was

 

older, and (as I found when I caught sight of her) of a blunter

 

cast of features. Indeed, when I knew her better I began to think

 

it was a Mercy she had any features at all, so very blank and high

 

was the dead wall of her face.

 

"Poor dear soul!" said this lady, with an abruptness of manner

 

quite my sister's. "Nobody's enemy but his own!"

 

"It would be much more commendable to be somebody else's enemy,"

 

said the gentleman; "far more natural."

 

"Cousin Raymond," observed another lady, "we are to love our

 

neighbor."

 

"Sarah Pocket," returned Cousin Raymond, "if a man is not his own

 

neighbor, who is?"

 

Miss Pocket laughed, and Camilla laughed and said (checking a

 

yawn), "The idea!" But I thought they seemed to think it rather a

 

good idea too. The other lady, who had not spoken yet, said gravely

 

and emphatically, "Very true!"

 

"Poor soul!" Camilla presently went on (I knew they had all been looking at me in the mean time), "he is so very strange! Would

 

anyone believe that when Tom's wife died, he actually could not be

 

induced to see the importance of the children's having the deepest

 

of trimmings to their mourning? 'Good Lord!' says he, 'Camilla,

 

what can it signify so long as the poor bereaved little things are

 

in black?' So like Matthew! The idea!"

 

"Good points in him, good points in him," said Cousin Raymond;

 

"Heaven forbid I should deny good points in him; but he never had,

 

and he never will have, any sense of the proprieties."

 

"You know I was obliged," said Camilla,--"I was obliged to be firm.

 

I said, 'It WILL NOT DO, for the credit of the family.' I told him

 

that, without deep trimmings, the family was disgraced. I cried

 

about it from breakfast till dinner. I injured my digestion. And at

 

last he flung out in his violent way, and said, with a D, 'Then do

 

as you like.' Thank Goodness it will always be a consolation to me

 

to know that I instantly went out in a pouring rain and bought the

 

things."

 

"He paid for them, did he not?" asked Estella.

 

"It's not the question, my dear child, who paid for them," returned

 

Camilla. "I bought them. And I shall often think of that with

 

peace, when I wake up in the night." The ringing of a distant bell, combined with the echoing of some

 

cry or call along the passage by which I had come, interrupted the

 

conversation and caused Estella to say to me, "Now, boy!" On my

 

turning round, they all looked at me with the utmost contempt, and,

 

as I went out, I heard Sarah Pocket say, "Well I am sure! What

 

next!" and Camilla add, with indignation, "Was there ever such a

 

fancy! The i-de-a!"

 

As we were going with our candle along the dark passage, Estella

 

stopped all of a sudden, and, facing round, said in her taunting

 

manner, with her face quite close to mine,--

 

"Well?"

 

"Well, miss?" I answered, almost falling over her and checking

 

myself.

 

She stood looking at me, and, of course, I stood looking at her.

 

"Am I pretty?"

 

"Yes; I think you are very pretty."

 

"Am I insulting?" "Not so much so as you were last time," said I.

 

"Not so much so?"

 

"No."

 

She fired when she asked the last question, and she slapped my face

 

with such force as she had, when I answered it.

 

"Now?" said she. "You little coarse monster, what do you think of

 

me now?"

 

"I shall not tell you."

 

"Because you are going to tell up stairs. Is that it?"

 

"No," said I, "that's not it."

 

"Why don't you cry again, you little wretch?"

 

"Because I'll never cry for you again," said I. Which was, I

 

suppose, as false a declaration as ever was made; for I was

 

inwardly crying for her then, and I know what I know of the pain

 

she cost me afterwards. We went on our way up stairs after this episode; and, as we were

 

going up, we met a gentleman groping his way down.

 

"Whom have we here?" asked the gentleman, stopping and looking at

 

me.

 

"A boy," said Estella.

 

He was a burly man of an exceedingly dark complexion, with an

 

exceedingly large head, and a corresponding large hand. He took my

 

chin in his large hand and turned up my face to have a look at me

 

by the light of the candle. He was prematurely bald on the top of

 

his head, and had bushy black eyebrows that wouldn't lie down but

 

stood up bristling. His eyes were set very deep in his head, and

 

were disagreeably sharp and suspicious. He had a large watch-chain,

 

and strong black dots where his beard and whiskers would have been

 

if he had let them. He was nothing to me, and I could have had no

 

foresight then, that he ever would be anything to me, but it

 

happened that I had this opportunity of observing him well.

 

"Boy of the neighborhood? Hey?" said he.

 

"Yes, sir," said I. "How do you come here?"

 

"Miss Havisham sent for me, sir," I explained.

 

"Well! Behave yourself. I have a pretty large experience of boys,

 

and you're a bad set of fellows. Now mind!" said he, biting the

 

side of his great forefinger as he frowned at me, "you behave

 

yourself!"

 

With those words, he released me--which I was glad of, for his

 

hand smelt of scented soap--and went his way down stairs. I

 

wondered whether he could be a doctor; but no, I thought; he

 

couldn't be a doctor, or he would have a quieter and more

 

persuasive manner. There was not much time to consider the subject,

 

for we were soon in Miss Havisham's room, where she and everything

 

else were just as I had left them. Estella left me standing near

 

the door, and I stood there until Miss Havisham cast her eyes upon

 

me from the dressing-table.

 

"So!" she said, without being startled or surprised: "the days have

 

worn away, have they?"

 

"Yes, ma'am. To-day is--"

 

"There, there, there!" with the impatient movement of her fingers. "I don't want to know. Are you ready to play?"

 

I was obliged to answer in some confusion, "I don't think I am,

 

ma'am."

 

"Not at cards again?" she demanded, with a searching look.

 

"Yes, ma'am; I could do that, if I was wanted."

 

"Since this house strikes you old and grave, boy," said Miss

 

Havisham, impatiently, "and you are unwilling to play, are you

 

willing to work?"

 

I could answer this inquiry with a better heart than I had been

 

able to find for the other question, and I said I was quite

 

willing.

 

"Then go into that opposite room," said she, pointing at the door

 

behind me with her withered hand, "and wait there till I come."

 

I crossed the staircase landing, and entered the room she

 

indicated. From that room, too, the daylight was completely

 

excluded, and it had an airless smell that was oppressive. A fire

 

had been lately kindled in the damp old-fashioned grate, and it was

 

more disposed to go out than to burn up, and the reluctant smoke which hung in the room seemed colder than the clearer air,--like

 

our own marsh mist. Certain wintry branches of candles on the high

 

chimney-piece faintly lighted the chamber; or it would be more

 

expressive to say, faintly troubled its darkness. It was spacious,

 

and I dare say had once been handsome, but every discernible thing

 

in it was covered with dust and mould, and dropping to pieces. The

 

most prominent object was a long table with a tablecloth spread on

 

it, as if a feast had been in preparation when the house and the

 

clocks all stopped together. An epergne or centre-piece of some kind

 

was in the middle of this cloth; it was so heavily overhung with

 

cobwebs that its form was quite undistinguishable; and, as I looked

 

along the yellow expanse out of which I remember its seeming to

 

grow, like a black fungus, I saw speckle-legged spiders with

 

blotchy bodies running home to it, and running out from it, as if

 

some circumstances of the greatest public importance had just

 

transpired in the spider community.

 

I heard the mice too, rattling behind the panels, as if the same

 

occurrence were important to their interests. But the black beetles

 

took no notice of the agitation, and groped about the hearth in a

 

ponderous elderly way, as if they were short-sighted and hard of

 

hearing, and not on terms with one another.

 

These crawling things had fascinated my attention, and I was

 

watching them from a distance, when Miss Havisham laid a hand upon my shoulder. In her other hand she had a crutch-headed stick on

 

which she leaned, and she looked like the Witch of the place.

 

"This," said she, pointing to the long table with her stick, "is

 

where I will be laid when I am dead. They shall come and look at me

 

here."

 

With some vague misgiving that she might get upon the table then

 

and there and die at once, the complete realization of the ghastly

 

waxwork at the Fair, I shrank under her touch.

 

"What do you think that is?" she asked me, again pointing with her

 

stick; "that, where those cobwebs are?"

 

"I can't guess what it is, ma'am."

 

"It's a great cake. A bride-cake. Mine!"

 

She looked all round the room in a glaring manner, and then said,

 

leaning on me while her hand twitched my shoulder, "Come, come,

 

come! Walk me, walk me!"

 

I made out from this, that the work I had to do, was to walk Miss

 

Havisham round and round the room. Accordingly, I started at once,

 

and she leaned upon my shoulder, and we went away at a pace that might have been an imitation (founded on my first impulse under

 

that roof) of Mr. Pumblechook's chaise-cart.

 

She was not physically strong, and after a little time said,

 

"Slower!" Still, we went at an impatient fitful speed, and as we

 

went, she twitched the hand upon my shoulder, and worked her mouth,

 

and led me to believe that we were going fast because her thoughts

 

went fast. After a while she said, "Call Estella!" so I went out on

 

the landing and roared that name as I had done on the previous

 

occasion. When her light appeared, I returned to Miss Havisham, and

 

we started away again round and round the room.

 

If only Estella had come to be a spectator of our proceedings, I

 

should have felt sufficiently discontented; but as she brought

 

with her the three ladies and the gentleman whom I had seen below,

 

I didn't know what to do. In my politeness, I would have stopped;

 

but Miss Havisham twitched my shoulder, and we posted on,--with a

 

shame-faced consciousness on my part that they would think it was

 

all my doing.

 

"Dear Miss Havisham," said Miss Sarah Pocket. "How well you look!"

 

"I do not," returned Miss Havisham. "I am yellow skin and bone."

 

Camilla brightened when Miss Pocket met with this rebuff; and she murmured, as she plaintively contemplated Miss Havisham, "Poor dear

 

soul! Certainly not to be expected to look well, poor thing. The

 

idea!"

 

"And how are you?" said Miss Havisham to Camilla. As we were close

 

to Camilla then, I would have stopped as a matter of course, only

 

Miss Havisham wouldn't stop. We swept on, and I felt that I was

 

highly obnoxious to Camilla.

 

"Thank you, Miss Havisham," she returned, "I am as well as can be

 

expected."

 

"Why, what's the matter with you?" asked Miss Havisham, with

 

exceeding sharpness.

 

"Nothing worth mentioning," replied Camilla. "I don't wish to make

 

a display of my feelings, but I have habitually thought of you more

 

in the night than I am quite equal to."

 

"Then don't think of me," retorted Miss Havisham.

 

"Very easily said!" remarked Camilla, amiably repressing a sob,

 

while a hitch came into her upper lip, and her tears overflowed.

 

"Raymond is a witness what ginger and sal volatile I am obliged to

 

take in the night. Raymond is a witness what nervous jerkings I have in my legs. Chokings and nervous jerkings, however, are

 

nothing new to me when I think with anxiety of those I love. If I

 

could be less affectionate and sensitive, I should have a better

 

digestion and an iron set of nerves. I am sure I wish it could be

 

so. But as to not thinking of you in the night--The idea!" Here, a

 

burst of tears.

 

The Raymond referred to, I understood to be the gentleman present,

 

and him I understood to be Mr. Camilla. He came to the rescue at

 

this point, and said in a consolatory and complimentary voice,

 

"Camilla, my dear, it is well known that your family feelings are

 

gradually undermining you to the extent of making one of your legs

 

shorter than the other."

 

"I am not aware," observed the grave lady whose voice I had heard

 

but once, "that to think of any person is to make a great claim

 

upon that person, my dear."

 

Miss Sarah Pocket, whom I now saw to be a little dry, brown,

 

corrugated old woman, with a small face that might have been made

 

of walnut-shells, and a large mouth like a cat's without the

 

whiskers, supported this position by saying, "No, indeed, my dear.

 

Hem!"

 

"Thinking is easy enough," said the grave lady. "What is easier, you know?" assented Miss Sarah Pocket.

 

"Oh, yes, yes!" cried Camilla, whose fermenting feelings appeared

 

to rise from her legs to her bosom. "It's all very true! It's a

 

weakness to be so affectionate, but I can't help it. No doubt my

 

health would be much better if it was otherwise, still I wouldn't

 

change my disposition if I could. It's the cause of much suffering,

 

but it's a consolation to know I posses it, when I wake up in the

 

night." Here another burst of feeling.

 

Miss Havisham and I had never stopped all this time, but kept going

 

round and round the room; now brushing against the skirts of the

 

visitors, now giving them the whole length of the dismal chamber.

 

"There's Matthew!" said Camilla. "Never mixing with any natural

 

ties, never coming here to see how Miss Havisham is! I have taken

 

to the sofa with my staylace cut, and have lain there hours

 

insensible, with my head over the side, and my hair all down, and

 

my feet I don't know where--"

 

("Much higher than your head, my love," said Mr. Camilla.)

 

"I have gone off into that state, hours and hours, on account of

 

Matthew's strange and inexplicable conduct, and nobody has thanked me."

 

"Really I must say I should think not!" interposed the grave lady.

 

"You see, my dear," added Miss Sarah Pocket (a blandly vicious

 

personage), "the question to put to yourself is, who did you expect

 

to thank you, my love?"

 

"Without expecting any thanks, or anything of the sort," resumed

 

Camilla, "I have remained in that state, hours and hours, and

 

Raymond is a witness of the extent to which I have choked, and what

 

the total inefficacy of ginger has been, and I have been heard at

 

the piano-forte tuner's across the street, where the poor mistaken

 

children have even supposed it to be pigeons cooing at a

 

distance,--and now to be told--" Here Camilla put her hand to her

 

throat, and began to be quite chemical as to the formation of new

 

combinations there.

 

When this same Matthew was mentioned, Miss Havisham stopped me and

 

herself, and stood looking at the speaker. This change had a great

 

influence in bringing Camilla's chemistry to a sudden end.

 

"Matthew will come and see me at last," said Miss Havisham,

 

sternly, when I am laid on that table. That will be his place,--

 

there," striking the table with her stick, "at my head! And yours will be there! And your husband's there! And Sarah Pocket's there!

 

And Georgiana's there! Now you all know where to take your stations

 

when you come to feast upon me. And now go!"

 

At the mention of each name, she had struck the table with her

 

stick in a new place. She now said, "Walk me, walk me!" and we went

 

on again.

 

"I suppose there's nothing to be done," exclaimed Camilla, "but

 

comply and depart. It's something to have seen the object of one's

 

love and duty for even so short a time. I shall think of it with a

 

melancholy satisfaction when I wake up in the night. I wish Matthew

 

could have that comfort, but he sets it at defiance. I am

 

determined not to make a display of my feelings, but it's very hard

 

to be told one wants to feast on one's relations,--as if one was a

 

Giant,--and to be told to go. The bare idea!"

 

Mr. Camilla interposing, as Mrs. Camilla laid her hand upon her

 

heaving bosom, that lady assumed an unnatural fortitude of manner

 

which I supposed to be expressive of an intention to drop and choke

 

when out of view, and kissing her hand to Miss Havisham, was

 

escorted forth. Sarah Pocket and Georgiana contended who should

 

remain last; but Sarah was too knowing to be outdone, and ambled

 

round Georgiana with that artful slipperiness that the latter was

 

obliged to take precedence. Sarah Pocket then made her separate effect of departing with, "Bless you, Miss Havisham dear!" and with

 

a smile of forgiving pity on her walnut-shell countenance for the

 

weaknesses of the rest.

 

While Estella was away lighting them down, Miss Havisham still

 

walked with her hand on my shoulder, but more and more slowly. At

 

last she stopped before the fire, and said, after muttering and

 

looking at it some seconds,--

 

"This is my birthday, Pip."

 

I was going to wish her many happy returns, when she lifted her

 

stick.

 

"I don't suffer it to be spoken of. I don't suffer those who were

 

here just now, or any one to speak of it. They come here on the

 

day, but they dare not refer to it."

 

Of course I made no further effort to refer to it.

 

"On this day of the year, long before you were born, this heap of

 

decay," stabbing with her crutched stick at the pile of cobwebs on

 

the table, but not touching it, "was brought here. It and I have

 

worn away together. The mice have gnawed at it, and sharper teeth

 

than teeth of mice have gnawed at me." She held the head of her stick against her heart as she stood

 

looking at the table; she in her once white dress, all yellow and

 

withered; the once white cloth all yellow and withered; everything

 

around in a state to crumble under a touch.

 

"When the ruin is complete," said she, with a ghastly look, "and

 

when they lay me dead, in my bride's dress on the bride's table,-

 

which shall be done, and which will be the finished curse upon him,

 

--so much the better if it is done on this day!"

 

She stood looking at the table as if she stood looking at her own

 

figure lying there. I remained quiet. Estella returned, and she too

 

remained quiet. It seemed to me that we continued thus for a long

 

time. In the heavy air of the room, and the heavy darkness that

 

brooded in its remoter corners, I even had an alarming fancy that

 

Estella and I might presently begin to decay.

 

At length, not coming out of her distraught state by degrees, but

 

in an instant, Miss Havisham said, "Let me see you two play cards;

 

why have you not begun?" With that, we returned to her room, and

 

sat down as before; I was beggared, as before; and again, as

 

before, Miss Havisham watched us all the time, directed my

 

attention to Estella's beauty, and made me notice it the more by

 

trying her jewels on Estella's breast and hair. Estella, for her part, likewise treated me as before, except that

 

she did not condescend to speak. When we had played some half-dozen

 

games, a day was appointed for my return, and I was taken down into

 

the yard to be fed in the former dog-like manner. There, too, I was

 

again left to wander about as I liked.

 

It is not much to the purpose whether a gate in that garden wall

 

which I had scrambled up to peep over on the last occasion was, on

 

that last occasion, open or shut. Enough that I saw no gate then,

 

and that I saw one now. As it stood open, and as I knew that

 

Estella had let the visitors out,--for she had returned with the

 

keys in her hand,--I strolled into the garden, and strolled all over

 

it. It was quite a wilderness, and there were old melon-frames and

 

cucumber-frames in it, which seemed in their decline to have

 

produced a spontaneous growth of weak attempts at pieces of old

 

hats and boots, with now and then a weedy offshoot into the

 

likeness of a battered saucepan.

 

When I had exhausted the garden and a greenhouse with nothing in

 

it but a fallen-down grape-vine and some bottles, I found myself in

 

the dismal corner upon which I had looked out of the window. Never

 

questioning for a moment that the house was now empty, I looked in

 

at another window, and found myself, to my great surprise,

 

exchanging a broad stare with a pale young gentleman with red eyelids and light hair.

 

This pale young gentleman quickly disappeared, and reappeared

 

beside me. He had been at his books when I had found myself staring

 

at him, and I now saw that he was inky.

 

"Halloa!" said he, "young fellow!"

 

Halloa being a general observation which I had usually observed to

 

be best answered by itself, I said, "Halloa!" politely omitting

 

young fellow.

 

"Who let you in?" said he.

 

"Miss Estella."

 

"Who gave you leave to prowl about?"

 

"Miss Estella."

 

"Come and fight," said the pale young gentleman.

 

What could I do but follow him? I have often asked myself the

 

question since; but what else could I do? His manner was so final,

 

and I was so astonished, that I followed where he led, as if I had been under a spell.

 

"Stop a minute, though," he said, wheeling round before we had gone

 

many paces. "I ought to give you a reason for fighting, too. There

 

it is!" In a most irritating manner he instantly slapped his hands

 

against one another, daintily flung one of his legs up behind him,

 

pulled my hair, slapped his hands again, dipped his head, and

 

butted it into my stomach.

 

The bull-like proceeding last mentioned, besides that it was

 

unquestionably to be regarded in the light of a liberty, was

 

particularly disagreeable just after bread and meat. I therefore

 

hit out at him and was going to hit out again, when he said,

 

"Aha! Would you?" and began dancing backwards and forwards in a

 

manner quite unparalleled within my limited experience.

 

"Laws of the game!" said he. Here, he skipped from his left leg on

 

to his right. "Regular rules!" Here, he skipped from his right leg

 

on to his left. "Come to the ground, and go through the

 

preliminaries!" Here, he dodged backwards and forwards, and did all

 

sorts of things while I looked helplessly at him.

 

I was secretly afraid of him when I saw him so dexterous; but I

 

felt morally and physically convinced that his light head of hair

 

could have had no business in the pit of my stomach, and that I had a right to consider it irrelevant when so obtruded on my attention.

 

Therefore, I followed him without a word, to a retired nook of the

 

garden, formed by the junction of two walls and screened by some

 

rubbish. On his asking me if I was satisfied with the ground, and

 

on my replying Yes, he begged my leave to absent himself for a

 

moment, and quickly returned with a bottle of water and a sponge

 

dipped in vinegar. "Available for both," he said, placing these

 

against the wall. And then fell to pulling off, not only his jacket

 

and waistcoat, but his shirt too, in a manner at once

 

light-hearted, business-like, and bloodthirsty.

 

Although he did not look very healthy,--having pimples on his face,

 

and a breaking out at his mouth,--these dreadful preparations quite

 

appalled me. I judged him to be about my own age, but he was much

 

taller, and he had a way of spinning himself about that was full of

 

appearance. For the rest, he was a young gentleman in a gray suit

 

(when not denuded for battle), with his elbows, knees, wrists, and

 

heels considerably in advance of the rest of him as to

 

development.

 

My heart failed me when I saw him squaring at me with every

 

demonstration of mechanical nicety, and eyeing my anatomy as if he

 

were minutely choosing his bone. I never have been so surprised in

 

my life, as I was when I let out the first blow, and saw him lying

 

on his back, looking up at me with a bloody nose and his face exceedingly fore-shortened.

 

But, he was on his feet directly, and after sponging himself with a

 

great show of dexterity began squaring again. The second greatest

 

surprise I have ever had in my life was seeing him on his back

 

again, looking up at me out of a black eye.

 

His spirit inspired me with great respect. He seemed to have no

 

strength, and he never once hit me hard, and he was always knocked

 

down; but he would be up again in a moment, sponging himself or

 

drinking out of the water-bottle, with the greatest satisfaction in

 

seconding himself according to form, and then came at me with an

 

air and a show that made me believe he really was going to do for

 

me at last. He got heavily bruised, for I am sorry to record that

 

the more I hit him, the harder I hit him; but he came up again and

 

again and again, until at last he got a bad fall with the back of

 

his head against the wall. Even after that crisis in our affairs,

 

he got up and turned round and round confusedly a few times, not

 

knowing where I was; but finally went on his knees to his sponge

 

and threw it up: at the same time panting out, "That means you have

 

won."

 

He seemed so brave and innocent, that although I had not proposed

 

the contest, I felt but a gloomy satisfaction in my victory. Indeed,

 

I go so far as to hope that I regarded myself while dressing as a species of savage young wolf or other wild beast. However, I got

 

dressed, darkly wiping my sanguinary face at intervals, and I said,

 

"Can I help you?" and he said "No thankee," and I said "Good

 

afternoon," and he said "Same to you."

 

When I got into the courtyard, I found Estella waiting with the

 

keys. But she neither asked me where I had been, nor why I had

 

kept her waiting; and there was a bright flush upon her face, as

 

though something had happened to delight her. Instead of going

 

straight to the gate, too, she stepped back into the passage, and

 

beckoned me.

 

"Come here! You may kiss me, if you like."

 

I kissed her cheek as she turned it to me. I think I would have

 

gone through a great deal to kiss her cheek. But I felt that the

 

kiss was given to the coarse common boy as a piece of money might

 

have been, and that it was worth nothing.

 

What with the birthday visitors, and what with the cards, and what

 

with the fight, my stay had lasted so long, that when I neared home

 

the light on the spit of sand off the point on the marshes was

 

gleaming against a black night-sky, and Joe's furnace was flinging

 

a path of fire across the road. Chapter XII

 

My mind grew very uneasy on the subject of the pale young

 

gentleman. The more I thought of the fight, and recalled the pale

 

young gentleman on his back in various stages of puffy and

 

incrimsoned countenance, the more certain it appeared that

 

something would be done to me. I felt that the pale young

 

gentleman's blood was on my head, and that the Law would avenge it.

 

Without having any definite idea of the penalties I had incurred,

 

it was clear to me that village boys could not go stalking about

 

the country, ravaging the houses of gentlefolks and pitching into

 

the studious youth of England, without laying themselves open to

 

severe punishment. For some days, I even kept close at home, and

 

looked out at the kitchen door with the greatest caution and

 

trepidation before going on an errand, lest the officers of the

 

County Jail should pounce upon me. The pale young gentleman's nose

 

had stained my trousers, and I tried to wash out that evidence of

 

my guilt in the dead of night. I had cut my knuckles against the

 

pale young gentleman's teeth, and I twisted my imagination into a

 

thousand tangles, as I devised incredible ways of accounting for

 

that damnatory circumstance when I should be haled before the

 

Judges.

 

When the day came round for my return to the scene of the deed of violence, my terrors reached their height. Whether myrmidons of

 

Justice, specially sent down from London, would be lying in ambush

 

behind the gate;--whether Miss Havisham, preferring to take personal

 

vengeance for an outrage done to her house, might rise in those

 

grave-clothes of hers, draw a pistol, and shoot me dead:--whether

 

suborned boys--a numerous band of mercenaries--might be engaged

 

to fall upon me in the brewery, and cuff me until I was no more;--it

 

was high testimony to my confidence in the spirit of the pale young

 

gentleman, that I never imagined him accessory to these

 

retaliations; they always came into my mind as the acts of

 

injudicious relatives of his, goaded on by the state of his visage

 

and an indignant sympathy with the family features.

 

However, go to Miss Havisham's I must, and go I did. And behold!

 

nothing came of the late struggle. It was not alluded to in any

 

way, and no pale young gentleman was to be discovered on the

 

premises. I found the same gate open, and I explored the garden,

 

and even looked in at the windows of the detached house; but my

 

view was suddenly stopped by the closed shutters within, and all

 

was lifeless. Only in the corner where the combat had taken place

 

could I detect any evidence of the young gentleman's existence.

 

There were traces of his gore in that spot, and I covered them with

 

garden-mould from the eye of man.

 

On the broad landing between Miss Havisham's own room and that other room in which the long table was laid out, I saw a

 

garden-chair,--a light chair on wheels, that you pushed from

 

behind. It had been placed there since my last visit, and I

 

entered, that same day, on a regular occupation of pushing Miss

 

Havisham in this chair (when she was tired of walking with her hand

 

upon my shoulder) round her own room, and across the landing, and

 

round the other room. Over and over and over again, we would make

 

these journeys, and sometimes they would last as long as three

 

hours at a stretch. I insensibly fall into a general mention of

 

these journeys as numerous, because it was at once settled that I

 

should return every alternate day at noon for these purposes, and

 

because I am now going to sum up a period of at least eight or ten

 

months.

 

As we began to be more used to one another, Miss Havisham talked

 

more to me, and asked me such questions as what had I learnt and

 

what was I going to be? I told her I was going to be apprenticed to

 

Joe, I believed; and I enlarged upon my knowing nothing and wanting

 

to know everything, in the hope that she might offer some help

 

towards that desirable end. But she did not; on the contrary, she

 

seemed to prefer my being ignorant. Neither did she ever give me

 

any money,--or anything but my daily dinner,--nor ever stipulate

 

that I should be paid for my services.

 

Estella was always about, and always let me in and out, but never told me I might kiss her again. Sometimes, she would coldly

 

tolerate me; sometimes, she would condescend to me; sometimes, she

 

would be quite familiar with me; sometimes, she would tell me

 

energetically that she hated me. Miss Havisham would often ask me

 

in a whisper, or when we were alone, "Does she grow prettier and

 

prettier, Pip?" And when I said yes (for indeed she did), would

 

seem to enjoy it greedily. Also, when we played at cards Miss

 

Havisham would look on, with a miserly relish of Estella's moods,

 

whatever they were. And sometimes, when her moods were so many and

 

so contradictory of one another that I was puzzled what to say or

 

do, Miss Havisham would embrace her with lavish fondness, murmuring

 

something in her ear that sounded like "Break their hearts my pride

 

and hope, break their hearts and have no mercy!"

 

There was a song Joe used to hum fragments of at the forge, of

 

which the burden was Old Clem. This was not a very ceremonious way

 

of rendering homage to a patron saint, but I believe Old Clem

 

stood in that relation towards smiths. It was a song that imitated

 

the measure of beating upon iron, and was a mere lyrical excuse for

 

the introduction of Old Clem's respected name. Thus, you were to

 

hammer boys round--Old Clem! With a thump and a sound--Old Clem!

 

Beat it out, beat it out--Old Clem! With a clink for the stout--

 

Old Clem! Blow the fire, blow the fire--Old Clem! Roaring dryer,

 

soaring higher--Old Clem! One day soon after the appearance of the

 

chair, Miss Havisham suddenly saying to me, with the impatient movement of her fingers, "There, there, there! Sing!" I was

 

surprised into crooning this ditty as I pushed her over the floor.

 

It happened so to catch her fancy that she took it up in a low

 

brooding voice as if she were singing in her sleep. After that, it

 

became customary with us to have it as we moved about, and Estella

 

would often join in; though the whole strain was so subdued, even

 

when there were three of us, that it made less noise in the grim

 

old house than the lightest breath of wind.

 

What could I become with these surroundings? How could my character

 

fail to be influenced by them? Is it to be wondered at if my

 

thoughts were dazed, as my eyes were, when I came out into the

 

natural light from the misty yellow rooms?

 

Perhaps I might have told Joe about the pale young gentleman, if I

 

had not previously been betrayed into those enormous inventions to

 

which I had confessed. Under the circumstances, I felt that Joe

 

could hardly fail to discern in the pale young gentleman, an

 

appropriate passenger to be put into the black velvet coach;

 

therefore, I said nothing of him. Besides, that shrinking from

 

having Miss Havisham and Estella discussed, which had come upon me

 

in the beginning, grew much more potent as time went on. I reposed

 

complete confidence in no one but Biddy; but I told poor Biddy

 

everything. Why it came natural to me to do so, and why Biddy had a

 

deep concern in everything I told her, I did not know then, though I think I know now.

 

Meanwhile, councils went on in the kitchen at home, fraught with

 

almost insupportable aggravation to my exasperated spirit. That

 

ass, Pumblechook, used often to come over of a night for the purpose

 

of discussing my prospects with my sister; and I really do believe

 

(to this hour with less penitence than I ought to feel), that if

 

these hands could have taken a linchpin out of his chaise-cart,

 

they would have done it. The miserable man was a man of that

 

confined stolidity of mind, that he could not discuss my prospects

 

without having me before him,--as it were, to operate upon,--and he

 

would drag me up from my stool (usually by the collar) where I was

 

quiet in a corner, and, putting me before the fire as if I were

 

going to be cooked, would begin by saying, "Now, Mum, here is this

 

boy! Here is this boy which you brought up by hand. Hold up your

 

head, boy, and be forever grateful unto them which so did do. Now,

 

Mum, with respections to this boy!" And then he would rumple my

 

hair the wrong way,--which from my earliest remembrance, as already

 

hinted, I have in my soul denied the right of any fellow-creature

 

to do,--and would hold me before him by the sleeve,--a spectacle of

 

imbecility only to be equalled by himself.

 

Then, he and my sister would pair off in such nonsensical

 

speculations about Miss Havisham, and about what she would do with

 

me and for me, that I used to want--quite painfully--to burst into spiteful tears, fly at Pumblechook, and pummel him all over.

 

In these dialogues, my sister spoke to me as if she were morally

 

wrenching one of my teeth out at every reference; while Pumblechook

 

himself, self-constituted my patron, would sit supervising me with

 

a depreciatory eye, like the architect of my fortunes who thought

 

himself engaged on a very unremunerative job.

 

In these discussions, Joe bore no part. But he was often talked at,

 

while they were in progress, by reason of Mrs. Joe's perceiving that

 

he was not favorable to my being taken from the forge. I was fully

 

old enough now to be apprenticed to Joe; and when Joe sat with the

 

poker on his knees thoughtfully raking out the ashes between the

 

lower bars, my sister would so distinctly construe that innocent

 

action into opposition on his part, that she would dive at him,

 

take the poker out of his hands, shake him, and put it away. There

 

was a most irritating end to every one of these debates. All in a

 

moment, with nothing to lead up to it, my sister would stop herself

 

in a yawn, and catching sight of me as it were incidentally, would

 

swoop upon me with, "Come! there's enough of you! You get along to

 

bed; you've given trouble enough for one night, I hope!" As if I

 

had besought them as a favor to bother my life out.

 

We went on in this way for a long time, and it seemed likely that

 

we should continue to go on in this way for a long time, when one

 

day Miss Havisham stopped short as she and I were walking, she leaning on my shoulder; and said with some displeasure,--

 

"You are growing tall, Pip!"

 

I thought it best to hint, through the medium of a meditative look,

 

that this might be occasioned by circumstances over which I had no

 

control.

 

She said no more at the time; but she presently stopped and looked

 

at me again; and presently again; and after that, looked frowning

 

and moody. On the next day of my attendance, when our usual exercise

 

was over, and I had landed her at her dressing-table, she stayed me

 

with a movement of her impatient fingers:-

 

"Tell me the name again of that blacksmith of yours."

 

"Joe Gargery, ma'am."

 

"Meaning the master you were to be apprenticed to?"

 

"Yes, Miss Havisham."

 

"You had better be apprenticed at once. Would Gargery come here

 

with you, and bring your indentures, do you think?" I signified that I had no doubt he would take it as an honor to be

 

asked.

 

"Then let him come."

 

"At any particular time, Miss Havisham?"

 

"There, there! I know nothing about times. Let him come soon, and

 

come along with you."

 

When I got home at night, and delivered this message for Joe, my

 

sister "went on the Rampage," in a more alarming degree than at any

 

previous period. She asked me and Joe whether we supposed she was

 

door-mats under our feet, and how we dared to use her so, and what

 

company we graciously thought she was fit for? When she had

 

exhausted a torrent of such inquiries, she threw a candlestick at

 

Joe, burst into a loud sobbing, got out the dustpan,--which was

 

always a very bad sign,--put on her coarse apron, and began

 

cleaning up to a terrible extent. Not satisfied with a dry

 

cleaning, she took to a pail and scrubbing-brush, and cleaned us

 

out of house and home, so that we stood shivering in the back-yard.

 

It was ten o'clock at night before we ventured to creep in again,

 

and then she asked Joe why he hadn't married a Negress Slave at

 

once? Joe offered no answer, poor fellow, but stood feeling his

 

whisker and looking dejectedly at me, as if he thought it really might have been a better speculation.

 

Chapter XIII

 

It was a trial to my feelings, on the next day but one, to see Joe

 

arraying himself in his Sunday clothes to accompany me to Miss

 

Havisham's. However, as he thought his court-suit necessary to the

 

occasion, it was not for me tell him that he looked far better in

 

his working-dress; the rather, because I knew he made himself so

 

dreadfully uncomfortable, entirely on my account, and that it was

 

for me he pulled up his shirt-collar so very high behind, that it

 

made the hair on the crown of his head stand up like a tuft of

 

feathers.

 

At breakfast-time my sister declared her intention of going to town

 

with us, and being left at Uncle Pumblechook's and called for "when

 

we had done with our fine ladies"--a way of putting the case, from

 

which Joe appeared inclined to augur the worst. The forge was shut

 

up for the day, and Joe inscribed in chalk upon the door (as it was

 

his custom to do on the very rare occasions when he was not at

 

work) the monosyllable HOUT, accompanied by a sketch of an arrow

 

supposed to be flying in the direction he had taken.

 

We walked to town, my sister leading the way in a very large beaver bonnet, and carrying a basket like the Great Seal of England in

 

plaited Straw, a pair of pattens, a spare shawl, and an umbrella,

 

though it was a fine bright day. I am not quite clear whether these

 

articles were carried penitentially or ostentatiously; but I

 

rather think they were displayed as articles of property,--much as

 

Cleopatra or any other sovereign lady on the Rampage might exhibit

 

her wealth in a pageant or procession.

 

When we came to Pumblechook's, my sister bounced in and left us. As

 

it was almost noon, Joe and I held straight on to Miss Havisham's

 

house. Estella opened the gate as usual, and, the moment she

 

appeared, Joe took his hat off and stood weighing it by the brim in

 

both his hands; as if he had some urgent reason in his mind for

 

being particular to half a quarter of an ounce.

 

Estella took no notice of either of us, but led us the way that I

 

knew so well. I followed next to her, and Joe came last. When I

 

looked back at Joe in the long passage, he was still weighing his

 

hat with the greatest care, and was coming after us in long strides

 

on the tips of his toes.

 

Estella told me we were both to go in, so I took Joe by the

 

coat-cuff and conducted him into Miss Havisham's presence. She was

 

seated at her dressing-table, and looked round at us immediately. "Oh!" said she to Joe. "You are the husband of the sister of this

 

boy?"

 

I could hardly have imagined dear old Joe looking so unlike himself

 

or so like some extraordinary bird; standing as he did

 

speechless, with his tuft of feathers ruffled, and his mouth open

 

as if he wanted a worm.

 

"You are the husband," repeated Miss Havisham, "of the sister of

 

this boy?"

 

It was very aggravating; but, throughout the interview, Joe

 

persisted in addressing Me instead of Miss Havisham.

 

"Which I meantersay, Pip," Joe now observed in a manner that was at

 

once expressive of forcible argumentation, strict confidence, and

 

great politeness, "as I hup and married your sister, and I were at

 

the time what you might call (if you was anyways inclined) a single

 

man."

 

"Well!" said Miss Havisham. "And you have reared the boy, with the

 

intention of taking him for your apprentice; is that so, Mr.

 

Gargery?"

 

"You know, Pip," replied Joe, "as you and me were ever friends, and it were looked for'ard to betwixt us, as being calc'lated to lead

 

to larks. Not but what, Pip, if you had ever made objections to the

 

business,--such as its being open to black and sut, or such-like,--

 

not but what they would have been attended to, don't you see?"

 

"Has the boy," said Miss Havisham, "ever made any objection? Does

 

he like the trade?"

 

"Which it is well beknown to yourself, Pip," returned Joe,

 

strengthening his former mixture of argumentation, confidence, and

 

politeness, "that it were the wish of your own hart." (I saw the

 

idea suddenly break upon him that he would adapt his epitaph to the

 

occasion, before he went on to say) "And there weren't no objection

 

on your part, and Pip it were the great wish of your hart!"

 

It was quite in vain for me to endeavor to make him sensible that

 

he ought to speak to Miss Havisham. The more I made faces and

 

gestures to him to do it, the more confidential, argumentative, and

 

polite, he persisted in being to Me.

 

"Have you brought his indentures with you?" asked Miss Havisham.

 

"Well, Pip, you know," replied Joe, as if that were a little

 

unreasonable, "you yourself see me put 'em in my 'at, and therefore

 

you know as they are here." With which he took them out, and gave them, not to Miss Havisham, but to me. I am afraid I was ashamed of

 

the dear good fellow,--I know I was ashamed of him,--when I saw

 

that Estella stood at the back of Miss Havisham's chair, and that

 

her eyes laughed mischievously. I took the indentures out of his

 

hand and gave them to Miss Havisham.

 

"You expected," said Miss Havisham, as she looked them over, "no

 

premium with the boy?"

 

"Joe!" I remonstrated, for he made no reply at all. "Why don't you

 

answer--"

 

"Pip," returned Joe, cutting me short as if he were hurt, "which I

 

meantersay that were not a question requiring a answer betwixt

 

yourself and me, and which you know the answer to be full well No.

 

You know it to be No, Pip, and wherefore should I say it?"

 

Miss Havisham glanced at him as if she understood what he really

 

was better than I had thought possible, seeing what he was there;

 

and took up a little bag from the table beside her.

 

"Pip has earned a premium here," she said, "and here it is. There

 

are five-and-twenty guineas in this bag. Give it to your master,

 

Pip." As if he were absolutely out of his mind with the wonder awakened

 

in him by her strange figure and the strange room, Joe, even at

 

this pass, persisted in addressing me.

 

"This is wery liberal on your part, Pip," said Joe, "and it is as

 

such received and grateful welcome, though never looked for, far

 

nor near, nor nowheres. And now, old chap," said Joe, conveying to

 

me a sensation, first of burning and then of freezing, for I felt

 

as if that familiar expression were applied to Miss Havisham,--"and

 

now, old chap, may we do our duty! May you and me do our duty, both

 

on us, by one and another, and by them which your liberal present--

 

have-conweyed--to be--for the satisfaction of mind-of--them

 

as never--" here Joe showed that he felt he had fallen into

 

frightful difficulties, until he triumphantly rescued himself with

 

the words, "and from myself far be it!" These words had such a

 

round and convincing sound for him that he said them twice.

 

"Good by, Pip!" said Miss Havisham. "Let them out, Estella."

 

"Am I to come again, Miss Havisham?" I asked.

 

"No. Gargery is your master now. Gargery! One word!"

 

Thus calling him back as I went out of the door, I heard her say to

 

Joe in a distinct emphatic voice, "The boy has been a good boy here, and that is his reward. Of course, as an honest man, you will

 

expect no other and no more."

 

How Joe got out of the room, I have never been able to determine;

 

but I know that when he did get out he was steadily proceeding

 

up stairs instead of coming down, and was deaf to all remonstrances

 

until I went after him and laid hold of him. In another minute we

 

were outside the gate, and it was locked, and Estella was gone.

 

When we stood in the daylight alone again, Joe backed up against a

 

wall, and said to me, "Astonishing!" And there he remained so long

 

saying, "Astonishing" at intervals, so often, that I began to think

 

his senses were never coming back. At length he prolonged his

 

remark into "Pip, I do assure you this is as-TON-ishing!" and so, by

 

degrees, became conversational and able to walk away.

 

I have reason to think that Joe's intellects were brightened by the

 

encounter they had passed through, and that on our way to

 

Pumblechook's he invented a subtle and deep design. My reason is to

 

be found in what took place in Mr. Pumblechook's parlor: where, on

 

our presenting ourselves, my sister sat in conference with that

 

detested seedsman.

 

"Well?" cried my sister, addressing us both at once. "And what's

 

happened to you? I wonder you condescend to come back to such poor

 

society as this, I am sure I do!" "Miss Havisham," said Joe, with a fixed look at me, like an effort

 

of remembrance, "made it wery partick'ler that we should give her--

 

were it compliments or respects, Pip?"

 

"Compliments," I said.

 

"Which that were my own belief," answered Joe; "her compliments to

 

Mrs. J. Gargery--"

 

"Much good they'll do me!" observed my sister; but rather gratified

 

too.

 

"And wishing," pursued Joe, with another fixed look at me, like

 

another effort of remembrance, "that the state of Miss Havisham's

 

elth were sitch as would have--allowed, were it, Pip?"

 

"Of her having the pleasure," I added.

 

"Of ladies' company," said Joe. And drew a long breath.

 

"Well!" cried my sister, with a mollified glance at Mr. Pumblechook.

 

"She might have had the politeness to send that message at first,

 

but it's better late than never. And what did she give young

 

Rantipole here?" "She giv' him," said Joe, "nothing."

 

Mrs. Joe was going to break out, but Joe went on.

 

"What she giv'," said Joe, "she giv' to his friends. 'And by his

 

friends,' were her explanation, 'I mean into the hands of his

 

sister Mrs. J. Gargery.' Them were her words; 'Mrs. J. Gargery.' She

 

mayn't have know'd," added Joe, with an appearance of reflection,

 

"whether it were Joe, or Jorge."

 

My sister looked at Pumblechook: who smoothed the elbows of his

 

wooden arm-chair, and nodded at her and at the fire, as if he had

 

known all about it beforehand.

 

"And how much have you got?" asked my sister, laughing. Positively

 

laughing!

 

"What would present company say to ten pound?" demanded Joe.

 

"They'd say," returned my sister, curtly, "pretty well. Not too

 

much, but pretty well."

 

"It's more than that, then," said Joe. That fearful Impostor, Pumblechook, immediately nodded, and said,

 

as he rubbed the arms of his chair, "It's more than that, Mum."

 

"Why, you don't mean to say--" began my sister.

 

"Yes I do, Mum," said Pumblechook; "but wait a bit. Go on, Joseph.

 

Good in you! Go on!"

 

"What would present company say," proceeded Joe, "to twenty pound?"

 

"Handsome would be the word," returned my sister.

 

"Well, then," said Joe, "It's more than twenty pound."

 

That abject hypocrite, Pumblechook, nodded again, and said, with a

 

patronizing laugh, "It's more than that, Mum. Good again! Follow her

 

up, Joseph!"

 

"Then to make an end of it," said Joe, delightedly handing the bag

 

to my sister; "it's five-and-twenty pound."

 

"It's five-and-twenty pound, Mum," echoed that basest of swindlers,

 

Pumblechook, rising to shake hands with her; "and it's no more than

 

your merits (as I said when my opinion was asked), and I wish you

 

joy of the money!" If the villain had stopped here, his case would have been

 

sufficiently awful, but he blackened his guilt by proceeding to

 

take me into custody, with a right of patronage that left all his

 

former criminality far behind.

 

"Now you see, Joseph and wife," said Pumblechook, as he took me by

 

the arm above the elbow, "I am one of them that always go right

 

through with what they've begun. This boy must be bound, out of

 

hand. That's my way. Bound out of hand."

 

"Goodness knows, Uncle Pumblechook," said my sister (grasping the

 

money), "we're deeply beholden to you."

 

"Never mind me, Mum, returned that diabolical cornchandler. "A

 

pleasure's a pleasure all the world over. But this boy, you know;

 

we must have him bound. I said I'd see to it--to tell you the

 

truth."

 

The Justices were sitting in the Town Hall near at hand, and we at

 

once went over to have me bound apprentice to Joe in the

 

Magisterial presence. I say we went over, but I was pushed over by

 

Pumblechook, exactly as if I had that moment picked a pocket or

 

fired a rick; indeed, it was the general impression in Court that I

 

had been taken red-handed; for, as Pumblechook shoved me before him through the crowd, I heard some people say, "What's he done?" and

 

others, "He's a young 'un, too, but looks bad, don't he? One person

 

of mild and benevolent aspect even gave me a tract ornamented with

 

a woodcut of a malevolent young man fitted up with a perfect

 

sausage-shop of fetters, and entitled TO BE READ IN MY CELL.

 

The Hall was a queer place, I thought, with higher pews in it than

 

a church,--and with people hanging over the pews looking on,--and

 

with mighty Justices (one with a powdered head) leaning back in

 

chairs, with folded arms, or taking snuff, or going to sleep, or

 

writing, or reading the newspapers,--and with some shining black

 

portraits on the walls, which my unartistic eye regarded as a

 

composition of hardbake and sticking-plaster. Here, in a corner

 

my indentures were duly signed and attested, and I was "bound"; Mr.

 

Pumblechook holding me all the while as if we had looked in on our

 

way to the scaffold, to have those little preliminaries disposed

 

of.

 

When we had come out again, and had got rid of the boys who had

 

been put into great spirits by the expectation of seeing me

 

publicly tortured, and who were much disappointed to find that my

 

friends were merely rallying round me, we went back to

 

Pumblechook's. And there my sister became so excited by the

 

twenty-five guineas, that nothing would serve her but we must have

 

a dinner out of that windfall at the Blue Boar, and that Pumblechook must go over in his chaise-cart, and bring the Hubbles

 

and Mr. Wopsle.

 

It was agreed to be done; and a most melancholy day I passed. For,

 

it inscrutably appeared to stand to reason, in the minds of the

 

whole company, that I was an excrescence on the entertainment. And

 

to make it worse, they all asked me from time to time,--in short,

 

whenever they had nothing else to do,--why I didn't enjoy myself?

 

And what could I possibly do then, but say I was enjoying myself,--

 

when I wasn't!

 

However, they were grown up and had their own way, and they made

 

the most of it. That swindling Pumblechook, exalted into the

 

beneficent contriver of the whole occasion, actually took the top

 

of the table; and, when he addressed them on the subject of my

 

being bound, and had fiendishly congratulated them on my being

 

liable to imprisonment if I played at cards, drank strong liquors,

 

kept late hours or bad company, or indulged in other vagaries which

 

the form of my indentures appeared to contemplate as next to

 

inevitable, he placed me standing on a chair beside him to

 

illustrate his remarks.

 

My only other remembrances of the great festival are, That they

 

wouldn't let me go to sleep, but whenever they saw me dropping off,

 

woke me up and told me to enjoy myself. That, rather late in the evening Mr. Wopsle gave us Collins's ode, and threw his bloodstained

 

sword in thunder down, with such effect, that a waiter came in and

 

said, "The Commercials underneath sent up their compliments, and it

 

wasn't the Tumblers' Arms." That, they were all in excellent

 

spirits on the road home, and sang, O Lady Fair! Mr. Wopsle taking

 

the bass, and asserting with a tremendously strong voice (in reply

 

to the inquisitive bore who leads that piece of music in a most

 

impertinent manner, by wanting to know all about everybody's

 

private affairs) that he was the man with his white locks flowing,

 

and that he was upon the whole the weakest pilgrim going.

 

Finally, I remember that when I got into my little bedroom, I was

 

truly wretched, and had a strong conviction on me that I should

 

never like Joe's trade. I had liked it once, but once was not now.

 

Chapter XIV

 

It is a most miserable thing to feel ashamed of home. There may be

 

black ingratitude in the thing, and the punishment may be

 

retributive and well deserved; but that it is a miserable thing, I

 

can testify.

 

Home had never been a very pleasant place to me, because of my

 

sister's temper. But, Joe had sanctified it, and I had believed in it. I had believed in the best parlor as a most elegant saloon; I

 

had believed in the front door, as a mysterious portal of the

 

Temple of State whose solemn opening was attended with a sacrifice

 

of roast fowls; I had believed in the kitchen as a chaste though

 

not magnificent apartment; I had believed in the forge as the

 

glowing road to manhood and independence. Within a single year all

 

this was changed. Now it was all coarse and common, and I would

 

not have had Miss Havisham and Estella see it on any account.

 

How much of my ungracious condition of mind may have been my own

 

fault, how much Miss Havisham's, how much my sister's, is now of no

 

moment to me or to any one. The change was made in me; the thing

 

was done. Well or ill done, excusably or inexcusably, it was done.

 

Once, it had seemed to me that when I should at last roll up my

 

shirt-sleeves and go into the forge, Joe's 'prentice, I should be

 

distinguished and happy. Now the reality was in my hold, I only

 

felt that I was dusty with the dust of small-coal, and that I had a

 

weight upon my daily remembrance to which the anvil was a feather.

 

There have been occasions in my later life (I suppose as in most

 

lives) when I have felt for a time as if a thick curtain had fallen

 

on all its interest and romance, to shut me out from anything save

 

dull endurance any more. Never has that curtain dropped so heavy

 

and blank, as when my way in life lay stretched out straight before

 

me through the newly entered road of apprenticeship to Joe. I remember that at a later period of my "time," I used to stand

 

about the churchyard on Sunday evenings when night was falling,

 

comparing my own perspective with the windy marsh view, and making

 

out some likeness between them by thinking how flat and low both

 

were, and how on both there came an unknown way and a dark mist and

 

then the sea. I was quite as dejected on the first working-day of

 

my apprenticeship as in that after-time; but I am glad to know that

 

I never breathed a murmur to Joe while my indentures lasted. It is

 

about the only thing I am glad to know of myself in that

 

connection.

 

For, though it includes what I proceed to add, all the merit of

 

what I proceed to add was Joe's. It was not because I was faithful,

 

but because Joe was faithful, that I never ran away and went for a

 

soldier or a sailor. It was not because I had a strong sense of the

 

virtue of industry, but because Joe had a strong sense of the

 

virtue of industry, that I worked with tolerable zeal against the

 

grain. It is not possible to know how far the influence of any

 

amiable honest-hearted duty-doing man flies out into the world; but

 

it is very possible to know how it has touched one's self in going

 

by, and I know right well that any good that intermixed itself

 

with my apprenticeship came of plain contented Joe, and not of

 

restlessly aspiring discontented me. What I wanted, who can say? How can I say, when I never knew? What

 

I dreaded was, that in some unlucky hour I, being at my grimiest

 

and commonest, should lift up my eyes and see Estella looking in at

 

one of the wooden windows of the forge. I was haunted by the fear

 

that she would, sooner or later, find me out, with a black face and

 

hands, doing the coarsest part of my work, and would exult over me

 

and despise me. Often after dark, when I was pulling the bellows

 

for Joe, and we were singing Old Clem, and when the thought how we

 

used to sing it at Miss Havisham's would seem to show me Estella's

 

face in the fire, with her pretty hair fluttering in the wind and

 

her eyes scorning me,--often at such a time I would look towards

 

those panels of black night in the wall which the wooden windows

 

then were, and would fancy that I saw her just drawing her face

 

away, and would believe that she had come at last.

 

After that, when we went in to supper, the place and the meal would

 

have a more homely look than ever, and I would feel more ashamed of

 

home than ever, in my own ungracious breast.

 

Chapter XV

 

As I was getting too big for Mr. Wopsle's great-aunt's room, my

 

education under that preposterous female terminated. Not, however,

 

until Biddy had imparted to me everything she knew, from the little catalogue of prices, to a comic song she had once bought for a

 

half-penny. Although the only coherent part of the latter piece of

 

literature were the opening lines,

 

When I went to Lunnon town sirs, Too rul loo rul Too rul loo rul

 

Wasn't I done very brown sirs? Too rul loo rul Too rul loo rul

 

--still, in my desire to be wiser, I got this composition by heart

 

with the utmost gravity; nor do I recollect that I questioned its

 

merit, except that I thought (as I still do) the amount of Too rul

 

somewhat in excess of the poetry. In my hunger for information, I

 

made proposals to Mr. Wopsle to bestow some intellectual crumbs upon

 

me, with which he kindly complied. As it turned out, however, that

 

he only wanted me for a dramatic lay-figure, to be contradicted and

 

embraced and wept over and bullied and clutched and stabbed and

 

knocked about in a variety of ways, I soon declined that course of

 

instruction; though not until Mr. Wopsle in his poetic fury had

 

severely mauled me.

 

Whatever I acquired, I tried to impart to Joe. This statement

 

sounds so well, that I cannot in my conscience let it pass

 

unexplained. I wanted to make Joe less ignorant and common, that he

 

might be worthier of my society and less open to Estella's

 

reproach. The old Battery out on the marshes was our place of study, and a

 

broken slate and a short piece of slate-pencil were our educational

 

implements: to which Joe always added a pipe of tobacco. I never

 

knew Joe to remember anything from one Sunday to another, or to

 

acquire, under my tuition, any piece of information whatever. Yet

 

he would smoke his pipe at the Battery with a far more sagacious

 

air than anywhere else,--even with a learned air,--as if he

 

considered himself to be advancing immensely. Dear fellow, I hope

 

he did.

 

It was pleasant and quiet, out there with the sails on the river

 

passing beyond the earthwork, and sometimes, when the tide was low,

 

looking as if they belonged to sunken ships that were still sailing

 

on at the bottom of the water. Whenever I watched the vessels

 

standing out to sea with their white sails spread, I somehow

 

thought of Miss Havisham and Estella; and whenever the light struck

 

aslant, afar off, upon a cloud or sail or green hillside or

 

water-line, it was just the same.--Miss Havisham and Estella and

 

the strange house and the strange life appeared to have something

 

to do with everything that was picturesque.

 

One Sunday when Joe, greatly enjoying his pipe, had so plumed

 

himself on being "most awful dull," that I had given him up for the

 

day, I lay on the earthwork for some time with my chin on my hand,

 

descrying traces of Miss Havisham and Estella all over the prospect, in the sky and in the water, until at last I resolved to

 

mention a thought concerning them that had been much in my head.

 

"Joe," said I; "don't you think I ought to make Miss Havisham a

 

visit?"

 

"Well, Pip," returned Joe, slowly considering. "What for?"

 

"What for, Joe? What is any visit made for?"

 

"There is some wisits p'r'aps," said Joe, "as for ever remains

 

open to the question, Pip. But in regard to wisiting Miss Havisham.

 

She might think you wanted something,--expected something of her."

 

"Don't you think I might say that I did not, Joe?"

 

"You might, old chap," said Joe. "And she might credit it.

 

Similarly she mightn't."

 

Joe felt, as I did, that he had made a point there, and he pulled

 

hard at his pipe to keep himself from weakening it by repetition.

 

"You see, Pip," Joe pursued, as soon as he was past that danger,

 

"Miss Havisham done the handsome thing by you. When Miss Havisham

 

done the handsome thing by you, she called me back to say to me as that were all."

 

"Yes, Joe. I heard her."

 

"ALL," Joe repeated, very emphatically.

 

"Yes, Joe. I tell you, I heard her."

 

"Which I meantersay, Pip, it might be that her meaning were,--Make

 

a end on it!--As you was!--Me to the North, and you to the South!

 

--Keep in sunders!"

 

I had thought of that too, and it was very far from comforting to

 

me to find that he had thought of it; for it seemed to render it

 

more probable.

 

"But, Joe."

 

"Yes, old chap."

 

"Here am I, getting on in the first year of my time, and, since the

 

day of my being bound, I have never thanked Miss Havisham, or asked

 

after her, or shown that I remember her."

 

"That's true, Pip; and unless you was to turn her out a set of shoes all four round,--and which I meantersay as even a set of

 

shoes all four round might not be acceptable as a present, in a

 

total wacancy of hoofs--"

 

"I don't mean that sort of remembrance, Joe; I don't mean a

 

present."

 

But Joe had got the idea of a present in his head and must harp

 

upon it. "Or even," said he, "if you was helped to knocking her up

 

a new chain for the front door,--or say a gross or two of

 

shark-headed screws for general use,--or some light fancy article,

 

such as a toasting-fork when she took her muffins,--or a gridiron

 

when she took a sprat or such like--"

 

"I don't mean any present at all, Joe," I interposed.

 

"Well," said Joe, still harping on it as though I had particularly

 

pressed it, "if I was yourself, Pip, I wouldn't. No, I would not.

 

For what's a door-chain when she's got one always up? And

 

shark-headers is open to misrepresentations. And if it was a

 

toasting-fork, you'd go into brass and do yourself no credit. And

 

the oncommonest workman can't show himself oncommon in a gridiron,--

 

for a gridiron IS a gridiron," said Joe, steadfastly impressing it

 

upon me, as if he were endeavouring to rouse me from a fixed

 

delusion, "and you may haim at what you like, but a gridiron it will come out, either by your leave or again your leave, and you

 

can't help yourself--"

 

"My dear Joe," I cried, in desperation, taking hold of his coat,

 

"don't go on in that way. I never thought of making Miss Havisham

 

any present."

 

"No, Pip," Joe assented, as if he had been contending for that, all

 

along; "and what I say to you is, you are right, Pip."

 

"Yes, Joe; but what I wanted to say, was, that as we are rather

 

slack just now, if you would give me a half-holiday to-morrow, I

 

think I would go up-town and make a call on Miss Est--Havisham."

 

"Which her name," said Joe, gravely, "ain't Estavisham, Pip, unless

 

she have been rechris'ened."

 

"I know, Joe, I know. It was a slip of mine. What do you think of

 

it, Joe?"

 

In brief, Joe thought that if I thought well of it, he thought well

 

of it. But, he was particular in stipulating that if I were not

 

received with cordiality, or if I were not encouraged to repeat my

 

visit as a visit which had no ulterior object but was simply one of

 

gratitude for a favor received, then this experimental trip should have no successor. By these conditions I promised to abide.

 

Now, Joe kept a journeyman at weekly wages whose name was Orlick.

 

He pretended that his Christian name was Dolge,--a clear

 

Impossibility,--but he was a fellow of that obstinate disposition

 

that I believe him to have been the prey of no delusion in this

 

particular, but wilfully to have imposed that name upon the village

 

as an affront to its understanding. He was a broadshouldered

 

loose-limbed swarthy fellow of great strength, never in a hurry,

 

and always slouching. He never even seemed to come to his work on

 

purpose, but would slouch in as if by mere accident; and when he

 

went to the Jolly Bargemen to eat his dinner, or went away at

 

night, he would slouch out, like Cain or the Wandering Jew, as if

 

he had no idea where he was going and no intention of ever coming

 

back. He lodged at a sluice-keeper's out on the marshes, and on

 

working-days would come slouching from his hermitage, with his

 

hands in his pockets and his dinner loosely tied in a bundle round

 

his neck and dangling on his back. On Sundays he mostly lay all day

 

on the sluice-gates, or stood against ricks and barns. He always

 

slouched, locomotively, with his eyes on the ground; and, when

 

accosted or otherwise required to raise them, he looked up in a

 

half-resentful, half-puzzled way, as though the only thought he

 

ever had was, that it was rather an odd and injurious fact that he

 

should never be thinking. This morose journeyman had no liking for me. When I was very small

 

and timid, he gave me to understand that the Devil lived in a black

 

corner of the forge, and that he knew the fiend very well: also

 

that it was necessary to make up the fire, once in seven years,

 

with a live boy, and that I might consider myself fuel. When I

 

became Joe's 'prentice, Orlick was perhaps confirmed in some

 

suspicion that I should displace him; howbeit, he liked me still

 

less. Not that he ever said anything, or did anything, openly

 

importing hostility; I only noticed that he always beat his sparks

 

in my direction, and that whenever I sang Old Clem, he came in out

 

of time.

 

Dolge Orlick was at work and present, next day, when I reminded Joe

 

of my half-holiday. He said nothing at the moment, for he and Joe

 

had just got a piece of hot iron between them, and I was at the

 

bellows; but by and by he said, leaning on his hammer,--

 

"Now, master! Sure you're not a going to favor only one of us. If

 

Young Pip has a half-holiday, do as much for Old Orlick." I suppose

 

he was about five-and-twenty, but he usually spoke of himself as an

 

ancient person.

 

"Why, what'll you do with a half-holiday, if you get it?" said Joe.

 

"What'll I do with it! What'll he do with it? I'll do as much with it as him," said Orlick.

 

"As to Pip, he's going up town," said Joe.

 

"Well then, as to Old Orlick, he's a going up town," retorted that

 

worthy. "Two can go up town. Tain't only one wot can go up town.

 

"Don't lose your temper," said Joe.

 

"Shall if I like," growled Orlick. "Some and their up-towning! Now,

 

master! Come. No favoring in this shop. Be a man!"

 

The master refusing to entertain the subject until the journeyman

 

was in a better temper, Orlick plunged at the furnace, drew out a

 

red-hot bar, made at me with it as if he were going to run it

 

through my body, whisked it round my head, laid it on the anvil,

 

hammered it out,--as if it were I, I thought, and the sparks were

 

my spirting blood,--and finally said, when he had hammered himself

 

hot and the iron cold, and he again leaned on his hammer,--

 

"Now, master!"

 

"Are you all right now?" demanded Joe.

 

"Ah! I am all right," said gruff Old Orlick. "Then, as in general you stick to your work as well as most men,"

 

said Joe, "let it be a half-holiday for all."

 

My sister had been standing silent in the yard, within hearing,--

 

she was a most unscrupulous spy and listener,--and she instantly

 

looked in at one of the windows.

 

"Like you, you fool!" said she to Joe, "giving holidays to great

 

idle hulkers like that. You are a rich man, upon my life, to waste

 

wages in that way. I wish I was his master!"

 

"You'd be everybody's master, if you durst," retorted Orlick, with

 

an ill-favored grin.

 

("Let her alone," said Joe.)

 

"I'd be a match for all noodles and all rogues," returned my

 

sister, beginning to work herself into a mighty rage. "And I

 

couldn't be a match for the noodles, without being a match for your

 

master, who's the dunder-headed king of the noodles. And I couldn't

 

be a match for the rogues, without being a match for you, who are

 

the blackest-looking and the worst rogue between this and France.

 

Now!" "You're a foul shrew, Mother Gargery, growled the journeyman. "If

 

that makes a judge of rogues, you ought to be a good'un."

 

("Let her alone, will you?" said Joe.)

 

"What did you say?" cried my sister, beginning to scream. "What did

 

you say? What did that fellow Orlick say to me, Pip? What did he

 

call me, with my husband standing by? Oh! oh! oh!" Each of these

 

exclamations was a shriek; and I must remark of my sister, what is

 

equally true of all the violent women I have ever seen, that

 

passion was no excuse for her, because it is undeniable that

 

instead of lapsing into passion, she consciously and deliberately

 

took extraordinary pains to force herself into it, and became

 

blindly furious by regular stages; "what was the name he gave me

 

before the base man who swore to defend me? Oh! Hold me! Oh!"

 

"Ah-h-h!" growled the journeyman, between his teeth, "I'd hold you,

 

if you was my wife. I'd hold you under the pump, and choke it out

 

of you."

 

("I tell you, let her alone," said Joe.)

 

"Oh! To hear him!" cried my sister, with a clap of her hands and a

 

scream together,--which was her next stage. "To hear the names he's

 

giving me! That Orlick! In my own house! Me, a married woman! With my husband standing by! Oh! Oh!" Here my sister, after a fit of

 

clappings and screamings, beat her hands upon her bosom and upon

 

her knees, and threw her cap off, and pulled her hair down,--which

 

were the last stages on her road to frenzy. Being by this time a

 

perfect Fury and a complete success, she made a dash at the door

 

which I had fortunately locked.

 

What could the wretched Joe do now, after his disregarded

 

parenthetical interruptions, but stand up to his journeyman, and

 

ask him what he meant by interfering betwixt himself and Mrs. Joe;

 

and further whether he was man enough to come on? Old Orlick felt

 

that the situation admitted of nothing less than coming on, and was

 

on his defence straightway; so, without so much as pulling off

 

their singed and burnt aprons, they went at one another, like two

 

giants. But, if any man in that neighborhood could stand uplong

 

against Joe, I never saw the man. Orlick, as if he had been of no

 

more account than the pale young gentleman, was very soon among the

 

coal-dust, and in no hurry to come out of it. Then Joe unlocked

 

the door and picked up my sister, who had dropped insensible at the

 

window (but who had seen the fight first, I think), and who was

 

carried into the house and laid down, and who was recommended to

 

revive, and would do nothing but struggle and clench her hands in

 

Joe's hair. Then, came that singular calm and silence which succeed

 

all uproars; and then, with the vague sensation which I have always

 

connected with such a lull,--namely, that it was Sunday, and somebody was dead,--I went up stairs to dress myself.

 

When I came down again, I found Joe and Orlick sweeping up, without

 

any other traces of discomposure than a slit in one of Orlick's

 

nostrils, which was neither expressive nor ornamental. A pot of

 

beer had appeared from the Jolly Bargemen, and they were sharing it

 

by turns in a peaceable manner. The lull had a sedative and

 

philosophical influence on Joe, who followed me out into the road

 

to say, as a parting observation that might do me good, "On the

 

Rampage, Pip, and off the Rampage, Pip:--such is Life!"

 

With what absurd emotions (for we think the feelings that are very

 

serious in a man quite comical in a boy) I found myself again going

 

to Miss Havisham's, matters little here. Nor, how I passed and

 

repassed the gate many times before I could make up my mind to

 

ring. Nor, how I debated whether I should go away without ringing;

 

nor, how I should undoubtedly have gone, if my time had been my

 

own, to come back.

 

Miss Sarah Pocket came to the gate. No Estella.

 

"How, then? You here again?" said Miss Pocket. "What do you want?"

 

When I said that I only came to see how Miss Havisham was, Sarah

 

evidently deliberated whether or no she should send me about my business. But unwilling to hazard the responsibility, she let me

 

in, and presently brought the sharp message that I was to "come

 

up."

 

Everything was unchanged, and Miss Havisham was alone.

 

"Well?" said she, fixing her eyes upon me. "I hope you want

 

nothing? You'll get nothing."

 

"No indeed, Miss Havisham. I only wanted you to know that I am

 

doing very well in my apprenticeship, and am always much obliged to

 

you."

 

"There, there!" with the old restless fingers. "Come now and then;

 

come on your birthday.--Ay!" she cried suddenly, turning herself

 

and her chair towards me, "You are looking round for Estella? Hey?"

 

I had been looking round,--in fact, for Estella,--and I stammered

 

that I hoped she was well.

 

"Abroad," said Miss Havisham; "educating for a lady; far out of

 

reach; prettier than ever; admired by all who see her. Do you feel

 

that you have lost her?"

 

There was such a malignant enjoyment in her utterance of the last words, and she broke into such a disagreeable laugh, that I was at

 

a loss what to say. She spared me the trouble of considering, by

 

dismissing me. When the gate was closed upon me by Sarah of the

 

walnut-shell countenance, I felt more than ever dissatisfied with

 

my home and with my trade and with everything; and that was all I

 

took by that motion.

 

As I was loitering along the High Street, looking in disconsolately

 

at the shop windows, and thinking what I would buy if I were a

 

gentleman, who should come out of the bookshop but Mr. Wopsle. Mr.

 

Wopsle had in his hand the affecting tragedy of George Barnwell, in

 

which he had that moment invested sixpence, with the view of

 

heaping every word of it on the head of Pumblechook, with whom he

 

was going to drink tea. No sooner did he see me, than he appeared

 

to consider that a special Providence had put a 'prentice in his

 

way to be read at; and he laid hold of me, and insisted on my

 

accompanying him to the Pumblechookian parlor. As I knew it would

 

be miserable at home, and as the nights were dark and the way was

 

dreary, and almost any companionship on the road was better than

 

none, I made no great resistance; consequently, we turned into

 

Pumblechook's just as the street and the shops were lighting up.

 

As I never assisted at any other representation of George Barnwell,

 

I don't know how long it may usually take; but I know very well

 

that it took until half-past nine o' clock that night, and that when Mr. Wopsle got into Newgate, I thought he never would go to the

 

scaffold, he became so much slower than at any former period of his

 

disgraceful career. I thought it a little too much that he should

 

complain of being cut short in his flower after all, as if he had

 

not been running to seed, leaf after leaf, ever since his course

 

began. This, however, was a mere question of length and

 

wearisomeness. What stung me, was the identification of the whole

 

affair with my unoffending self. When Barnwell began to go wrong, I

 

declare that I felt positively apologetic, Pumblechook's indignant

 

stare so taxed me with it. Wopsle, too, took pains to present me in

 

the worst light. At once ferocious and maudlin, I was made to

 

murder my uncle with no extenuating circumstances whatever;

 

Millwood put me down in argument, on every occasion; it became

 

sheer monomania in my master's daughter to care a button for me;

 

and all I can say for my gasping and procrastinating conduct on the

 

fatal morning, is, that it was worthy of the general feebleness of

 

my character. Even after I was happily hanged and Wopsle had closed

 

the book, Pumblechook sat staring at me, and shaking his head, and

 

saying, "Take warning, boy, take warning!" as if it were a

 

well-known fact that I contemplated murdering a near relation,

 

provided I could only induce one to have the weakness to become my

 

benefactor.

 

It was a very dark night when it was all over, and when I set out

 

with Mr. Wopsle on the walk home. Beyond town, we found a heavy mist out, and it fell wet and thick. The turnpike lamp was a blur,

 

quite out of the lamp's usual place apparently, and its rays looked

 

solid substance on the fog. We were noticing this, and saying how

 

that the mist rose with a change of wind from a certain quarter of

 

our marshes, when we came upon a man, slouching under the lee of

 

the turnpike house.

 

"Halloa!" we said, stopping. "Orlick there?"

 

"Ah!" he answered, slouching out. "I was standing by a minute, on

 

the chance of company."

 

"You are late," I remarked.

 

Orlick not unnaturally answered, "Well? And you're late."

 

"We have been," said Mr. Wopsle, exalted with his late performance,--

 

"we have been indulging, Mr. Orlick, in an intellectual evening."

 

Old Orlick growled, as if he had nothing to say about that, and we

 

all went on together. I asked him presently whether he had been

 

spending his half-holiday up and down town?

 

"Yes," said he, "all of it. I come in behind yourself. I didn't see

 

you, but I must have been pretty close behind you. By the by, the guns is going again."