"At the Hulks?" said I.
"Ay! There's some of the birds flown from the cages. The guns have
been going since dark, about. You'll hear one presently."
In effect, we had not walked many yards further, when the
well-remembered boom came towards us, deadened by the mist, and
heavily rolled away along the low grounds by the river, as if it
were pursuing and threatening the fugitives.
"A good night for cutting off in," said Orlick. "We'd be puzzled
how to bring down a jail-bird on the wing, to-night."
The subject was a suggestive one to me, and I thought about it in
silence. Mr. Wopsle, as the ill-requited uncle of the evening's
tragedy, fell to meditating aloud in his garden at Camberwell.
Orlick, with his hands in his pockets, slouched heavily at my side.
It was very dark, very wet, very muddy, and so we splashed along.
Now and then, the sound of the signal cannon broke upon us again,
and again rolled sulkily along the course of the river. I kept
myself to myself and my thoughts. Mr. Wopsle died amiably at
Camberwell, and exceedingly game on Bosworth Field, and in the
greatest agonies at Glastonbury. Orlick sometimes growled, "Beat it out, beat it out,--Old Clem! With a clink for the stout,--Old
Clem!" I thought he had been drinking, but he was not drunk.
Thus, we came to the village. The way by which we approached it
took us past the Three Jolly Bargemen, which we were surprised to
find--it being eleven o'clock --in a state of commotion, with the
door wide open, and unwonted lights that had been hastily caught up
and put down scattered about. Mr. Wopsle dropped in to ask what was
the matter (surmising that a convict had been taken), but came
running out in a great hurry.
"There's something wrong," said he, without stopping, "up at your
place, Pip. Run all!"
"What is it?" I asked, keeping up with him. So did Orlick, at my
"I can't quite understand. The house seems to have been violently
entered when Joe Gargery was out. Supposed by convicts. Somebody
has been attacked and hurt."
We were running too fast to admit of more being said, and we made
no stop until we got into our kitchen. It was full of people; the
whole village was there, or in the yard; and there was a surgeon,
and there was Joe, and there were a group of women, all on the floor in the midst of the kitchen. The unemployed bystanders drew back
when they saw me, and so I became aware of my sister,--lying
without sense or movement on the bare boards where she had been
knocked down by a tremendous blow on the back of the head, dealt by
some unknown hand when her face was turned towards the fire,--
destined never to be on the Rampage again, while she was the wife
With my head full of George Barnwell, I was at first disposed to
believe that I must have had some hand in the attack upon my
sister, or at all events that as her near relation, popularly known
to be under obligations to her, I was a more legitimate object of
suspicion than any one else. But when, in the clearer light of next
morning, I began to reconsider the matter and to hear it discussed
around me on all sides, I took another view of the case, which was
Joe had been at the Three Jolly Bargemen, smoking his pipe, from a
quarter after eight o'clock to a quarter before ten. While he was
there, my sister had been seen standing at the kitchen door, and
had exchanged Good Night with a farm-laborer going home. The man
could not be more particular as to the time at which he saw her (he got into dense confusion when he tried to be), than that it must
have been before nine. When Joe went home at five minutes before
ten, he found her struck down on the floor, and promptly called in
assistance. The fire had not then burnt unusually low, nor was the
snuff of the candle very long; the candle, however, had been blown
Nothing had been taken away from any part of the house. Neither,
beyond the blowing out of the candle,--which stood on a table
between the door and my sister, and was behind her when she stood
facing the fire and was struck,--was there any disarrangement of
the kitchen, excepting such as she herself had made, in falling and
bleeding. But, there was one remarkable piece of evidence on the
spot. She had been struck with something blunt and heavy, on the
head and spine; after the blows were dealt, something heavy had
been thrown down at her with considerable violence, as she lay on
her face. And on the ground beside her, when Joe picked her up, was
a convict's leg-iron which had been filed asunder.
Now, Joe, examining this iron with a smith's eye, declared it to
have been filed asunder some time ago. The hue and cry going off to
the Hulks, and people coming thence to examine the iron, Joe's
opinion was corroborated. They did not undertake to say when it had
left the prison-ships to which it undoubtedly had once belonged;
but they claimed to know for certain that that particular manacle had not been worn by either of the two convicts who had escaped last
night. Further, one of those two was already retaken, and had not
freed himself of his iron.
Knowing what I knew, I set up an inference of my own here. I
believed the iron to be my convict's iron,--the iron I had seen and
heard him filing at, on the marshes,--but my mind did not accuse
him of having put it to its latest use. For I believed one of two
other persons to have become possessed of it, and to have turned it
to this cruel account. Either Orlick, or the strange man who had
shown me the file.
Now, as to Orlick; he had gone to town exactly as he told us when
we picked him up at the turnpike, he had been seen about town all
the evening, he had been in divers companies in several
public-houses, and he had come back with myself and Mr. Wopsle.
There was nothing against him, save the quarrel; and my sister had
quarrelled with him, and with everybody else about her, ten
thousand times. As to the strange man; if he had come back for his
two bank-notes there could have been no dispute about them, because
my sister was fully prepared to restore them. Besides, there had
been no altercation; the assailant had come in so silently and
suddenly, that she had been felled before she could look round.
It was horrible to think that I had provided the weapon, however undesignedly, but I could hardly think otherwise. I suffered
unspeakable trouble while I considered and reconsidered whether I
should at last dissolve that spell of my childhood and tell Joe
all the story. For months afterwards, I every day settled the
question finally in the negative, and reopened and reargued it next
morning. The contention came, after all, to this;--the secret was
such an old one now, had so grown into me and become a part of
myself, that I could not tear it away. In addition to the dread
that, having led up to so much mischief, it would be now more
likely than ever to alienate Joe from me if he believed it, I had a
further restraining dread that he would not believe it, but would
assort it with the fabulous dogs and veal-cutlets as a monstrous
invention. However, I temporized with myself, of course--for, was
I not wavering between right and wrong, when the thing is always
done?--and resolved to make a full disclosure if I should see any
such new occasion as a new chance of helping in the discovery of
The Constables and the Bow Street men from London--for, this
happened in the days of the extinct red-waistcoated police--were
about the house for a week or two, and did pretty much what I have
heard and read of like authorities doing in other such cases. They
took up several obviously wrong people, and they ran their heads
very hard against wrong ideas, and persisted in trying to fit the
circumstances to the ideas, instead of trying to extract ideas from the circumstances. Also, they stood about the door of the Jolly
Bargemen, with knowing and reserved looks that filled the whole
neighborhood with admiration; and they had a mysterious manner of
taking their drink, that was almost as good as taking the culprit.
But not quite, for they never did it.
Long after these constitutional powers had dispersed, my sister lay
very ill in bed. Her sight was disturbed, so that she saw objects
multiplied, and grasped at visionary teacups and wineglasses
instead of the realities; her hearing was greatly impaired; her
memory also; and her speech was unintelligible. When, at last, she
came round so far as to be helped down stairs, it was still
necessary to keep my slate always by her, that she might indicate
in writing what she could not indicate in speech. As she was (very
bad handwriting apart) a more than indifferent speller, and as Joe
was a more than indifferent reader, extraordinary complications
arose between them which I was always called in to solve. The
administration of mutton instead of medicine, the substitution of
Tea for Joe, and the baker for bacon, were among the mildest of my
However, her temper was greatly improved, and she was patient. A
tremulous uncertainty of the action of all her limbs soon became a
part of her regular state, and afterwards, at intervals of two or
three months, she would often put her hands to her head, and would then remain for about a week at a time in some gloomy aberration of
mind. We were at a loss to find a suitable attendant for her, until
a circumstance happened conveniently to relieve us. Mr. Wopsle's
great-aunt conquered a confirmed habit of living into which she had
fallen, and Biddy became a part of our establishment.
It may have been about a month after my sister's reappearance in
the kitchen, when Biddy came to us with a small speckled box
containing the whole of her worldly effects, and became a blessing
to the household. Above all, she was a blessing to Joe, for the
dear old fellow was sadly cut up by the constant contemplation of
the wreck of his wife, and had been accustomed, while attending on
her of an evening, to turn to me every now and then and say, with
his blue eyes moistened, "Such a fine figure of a woman as she once
were, Pip!" Biddy instantly taking the cleverest charge of her as
though she had studied her from infancy; Joe became able in some
sort to appreciate the greater quiet of his life, and to get down
to the Jolly Bargemen now and then for a change that did him good.
It was characteristic of the police people that they had all more
or less suspected poor Joe (though he never knew it), and that they
had to a man concurred in regarding him as one of the deepest
spirits they had ever encountered.
Biddy's first triumph in her new office, was to solve a difficulty
that had completely vanquished me. I had tried hard at it, but had made nothing of it. Thus it was:--
Again and again and again, my sister had traced upon the slate, a
character that looked like a curious T, and then with the utmost
eagerness had called our attention to it as something she
particularly wanted. I had in vain tried everything producible that
began with a T, from tar to toast and tub. At length it had come
into my head that the sign looked like a hammer, and on my lustily
calling that word in my sister's ear, she had begun to hammer on
the table and had expressed a qualified assent. Thereupon, I had
brought in all our hammers, one after another, but without avail.
Then I bethought me of a crutch, the shape being much the same, and
I borrowed one in the village, and displayed it to my sister with
considerable confidence. But she shook her head to that extent when
she was shown it, that we were terrified lest in her weak and
shattered state she should dislocate her neck.
When my sister found that Biddy was very quick to understand her,
this mysterious sign reappeared on the slate. Biddy looked
thoughtfully at it, heard my explanation, looked thoughtfully at my
sister, looked thoughtfully at Joe (who was always represented on
the slate by his initial letter), and ran into the forge, followed
by Joe and me.
"Why, of course!" cried Biddy, with an exultant face. "Don't you see? It's him!"
Orlick, without a doubt! She had lost his name, and could only
signify him by his hammer. We told him why we wanted him to come
into the kitchen, and he slowly laid down his hammer, wiped his
brow with his arm, took another wipe at it with his apron, and came
slouching out, with a curious loose vagabond bend in the knees that
strongly distinguished him.
I confess that I expected to see my sister denounce him, and that I
was disappointed by the different result. She manifested the
greatest anxiety to be on good terms with him, was evidently much
pleased by his being at length produced, and motioned that she
would have him given something to drink. She watched his
countenance as if she were particularly wishful to be assured that
he took kindly to his reception, she showed every possible desire
to conciliate him, and there was an air of humble propitiation in
all she did, such as I have seen pervade the bearing of a child
towards a hard master. After that day, a day rarely passed without
her drawing the hammer on her slate, and without Orlick's slouching
in and standing doggedly before her, as if he knew no more than I
did what to make of it.
Chapter XVII I now fell into a regular routine of apprenticeship life, which was
varied beyond the limits of the village and the marshes, by no
more remarkable circumstance than the arrival of my birthday and my
paying another visit to Miss Havisham. I found Miss Sarah Pocket
still on duty at the gate; I found Miss Havisham just as I had left
her, and she spoke of Estella in the very same way, if not in the
very same words. The interview lasted but a few minutes, and she
gave me a guinea when I was going, and told me to come again on my
next birthday. I may mention at once that this became an annual
custom. I tried to decline taking the guinea on the first occasion,
but with no better effect than causing her to ask me very angrily,
if I expected more? Then, and after that, I took it.
So unchanging was the dull old house, the yellow light in the
darkened room, the faded spectre in the chair by the dressing-table
glass, that I felt as if the stopping of the clocks had stopped
Time in that mysterious place, and, while I and everything else
outside it grew older, it stood still. Daylight never entered the
house as to my thoughts and remembrances of it, any more than as to
the actual fact. It bewildered me, and under its influence I
continued at heart to hate my trade and to be ashamed of home.
Imperceptibly I became conscious of a change in Biddy, however. Her
shoes came up at the heel, her hair grew bright and neat, her hands were always clean. She was not beautiful,--she was common, and
could not be like Estella,--but she was pleasant and wholesome and
sweet-tempered. She had not been with us more than a year (I
remember her being newly out of mourning at the time it struck me),
when I observed to myself one evening that she had curiously
thoughtful and attentive eyes; eyes that were very pretty and very
It came of my lifting up my own eyes from a task I was poring at--
writing some passages from a book, to improve myself in two ways at
once by a sort of stratagem--and seeing Biddy observant of what I
was about. I laid down my pen, and Biddy stopped in her needlework
without laying it down.
"Biddy," said I, "how do you manage it? Either I am very stupid, or
you are very clever."
"What is it that I manage? I don't know," returned Biddy, smiling.
She managed our whole domestic life, and wonderfully too; but I did
not mean that, though that made what I did mean more surprising.
"How do you manage, Biddy," said I, "to learn everything that I
learn, and always to keep up with me?" I was beginning to be rather
vain of my knowledge, for I spent my birthday guineas on it, and set aside the greater part of my pocket-money for similar
investment; though I have no doubt, now, that the little I knew was
extremely dear at the price.
"I might as well ask you," said Biddy, "how you manage?"
"No; because when I come in from the forge of a night, any one can
see me turning to at it. But you never turn to at it, Biddy."
"I suppose I must catch it like a cough," said Biddy, quietly;
and went on with her sewing.
Pursuing my idea as I leaned back in my wooden chair, and looked at
Biddy sewing away with her head on one side, I began to think her
rather an extraordinary girl. For I called to mind now, that she
was equally accomplished in the terms of our trade, and the names
of our different sorts of work, and our various tools. In short,
whatever I knew, Biddy knew. Theoretically, she was already as good
a blacksmith as I, or better.
"You are one of those, Biddy," said I, "who make the most of every
chance. You never had a chance before you came here, and see how
improved you are!"
Biddy looked at me for an instant, and went on with her sewing. "I was your first teacher though; wasn't I?" said she, as she sewed.
"Biddy!" I exclaimed, in amazement. "Why, you are crying!"
"No I am not," said Biddy, looking up and laughing. "What put that
in your head?"
What could have put it in my head but the glistening of a tear as
it dropped on her work? I sat silent, recalling what a drudge she
had been until Mr. Wopsle's great-aunt successfully overcame that
bad habit of living, so highly desirable to be got rid of by some
people. I recalled the hopeless circumstances by which she had been
surrounded in the miserable little shop and the miserable little
noisy evening school, with that miserable old bundle of
incompetence always to be dragged and shouldered. I reflected that
even in those untoward times there must have been latent in Biddy
what was now developing, for, in my first uneasiness and discontent
I had turned to her for help, as a matter of course. Biddy sat
quietly sewing, shedding no more tears, and while I looked at her
and thought about it all, it occurred to me that perhaps I had not
been sufficiently grateful to Biddy. I might have been too
reserved, and should have patronized her more (though I did not use
that precise word in my meditations) with my confidence.
"Yes, Biddy," I observed, when I had done turning it over, "you were my first teacher, and that at a time when we little thought of
ever being together like this, in this kitchen."
"Ah, poor thing!" replied Biddy. It was like her
self-forgetfulness to transfer the remark to my sister, and to get
up and be busy about her, making her more comfortable; "that's
"Well!" said I, "we must talk together a little more, as we used to
do. And I must consult you a little more, as I used to do. Let us
have a quiet walk on the marshes next Sunday, Biddy, and a long
My sister was never left alone now; but Joe more than readily
undertook the care of her on that Sunday afternoon, and Biddy and I
went out together. It was summer-time, and lovely weather. When we
had passed the village and the church and the churchyard, and were
out on the marshes and began to see the sails of the ships as they
sailed on, I began to combine Miss Havisham and Estella with the
prospect, in my usual way. When we came to the river-side and sat
down on the bank, with the water rippling at our feet, making it
all more quiet than it would have been without that sound, I
resolved that it was a good time and place for the admission of
Biddy into my inner confidence. "Biddy," said I, after binding her to secrecy, "I want to be a
"O, I wouldn't, if I was you!" she returned. "I don't think it
"Biddy," said I, with some severity, "I have particular reasons for
wanting to be a gentleman."
"You know best, Pip; but don't you think you are happier as you
"Biddy," I exclaimed, impatiently, "I am not at all happy as I am.
I am disgusted with my calling and with my life. I have never taken
to either, since I was bound. Don't be absurd."
"Was I absurd?" said Biddy, quietly raising her eyebrows; "I am
sorry for that; I didn't mean to be. I only want you to do well,
and to be comfortable."
"Well, then, understand once for all that I never shall or can be
comfortable--or anything but miserable--there, Biddy!--unless I
can lead a very different sort of life from the life I lead now."
"That's a pity!" said Biddy, shaking her head with a sorrowful air. Now, I too had so often thought it a pity, that, in the singular
kind of quarrel with myself which I was always carrying on, I was
half inclined to shed tears of vexation and distress when Biddy
gave utterance to her sentiment and my own. I told her she was
right, and I knew it was much to be regretted, but still it was not
to be helped.
"If I could have settled down," I said to Biddy, plucking up the
short grass within reach, much as I had once upon a time pulled my
feelings out of my hair and kicked them into the brewery wall,--"if
I could have settled down and been but half as fond of the forge as
I was when I was little, I know it would have been much better for
me. You and I and Joe would have wanted nothing then, and Joe and I
would perhaps have gone partners when I was out of my time, and I
might even have grown up to keep company with you, and we might
have sat on this very bank on a fine Sunday, quite different
people. I should have been good enough for you; shouldn't I,
Biddy sighed as she looked at the ships sailing on, and returned
for answer, "Yes; I am not over-particular." It scarcely sounded
flattering, but I knew she meant well.
"Instead of that," said I, plucking up more grass and chewing a blade or two, "see how I am going on. Dissatisfied, and
uncomfortable, and--what would it signify to me, being coarse and
common, if nobody had told me so!"
Biddy turned her face suddenly towards mine, and looked far more
attentively at me than she had looked at the sailing ships.
"It was neither a very true nor a very polite thing to say," she
remarked, directing her eyes to the ships again. "Who said it?"
I was disconcerted, for I had broken away without quite seeing
where I was going to. It was not to be shuffled off now, however,
and I answered, "The beautiful young lady at Miss Havisham's, and
she's more beautiful than anybody ever was, and I admire her
dreadfully, and I want to be a gentleman on her account." Having
made this lunatic confession, I began to throw my torn-up grass
into the river, as if I had some thoughts of following it.
"Do you want to be a gentleman, to spite her or to gain her over?"
Biddy quietly asked me, after a pause.
"I don't know," I moodily answered.
"Because, if it is to spite her," Biddy pursued, "I should think--
but you know best--that might be better and more independently done by caring nothing for her words. And if it is to gain her
over, I should think--but you know best--she was not worth
Exactly what I myself had thought, many times. Exactly what was
perfectly manifest to me at the moment. But how could I, a poor
dazed village lad, avoid that wonderful inconsistency into which
the best and wisest of men fall every day?
"It may be all quite true," said I to Biddy, "but I admire her
In short, I turned over on my face when I came to that, and got a
good grasp on the hair on each side of my head, and wrenched it
well. All the while knowing the madness of my heart to be so very
mad and misplaced, that I was quite conscious it would have served
my face right, if I had lifted it up by my hair, and knocked it
against the pebbles as a punishment for belonging to such an idiot.
Biddy was the wisest of girls, and she tried to reason no more with
me. She put her hand, which was a comfortable hand though roughened
by work, upon my hands, one after another, and gently took them out
of my hair. Then she softly patted my shoulder in a soothing way,
while with my face upon my sleeve I cried a little,--exactly as I
had done in the brewery yard,--and felt vaguely convinced that I was very much ill-used by somebody, or by everybody; I can't say
"I am glad of one thing," said Biddy, "and that is, that you have
felt you could give me your confidence, Pip. And I am glad of
another thing, and that is, that of course you know you may depend
upon my keeping it and always so far deserving it. If your first
teacher (dear! such a poor one, and so much in need of being taught
herself!) had been your teacher at the present time, she thinks she
knows what lesson she would set. But it would be a hard one to
learn, and you have got beyond her, and it's of no use now." So,
with a quiet sigh for me, Biddy rose from the bank, and said, with
a fresh and pleasant change of voice, "Shall we walk a little
farther, or go home?"
"Biddy," I cried, getting up, putting my arm round her neck, and
giving her a kiss, "I shall always tell you everything."
"Till you're a gentleman," said Biddy.
"You know I never shall be, so that's always. Not that I have any
occasion to tell you anything, for you know everything I know,--as
I told you at home the other night."
"Ah!" said Biddy, quite in a whisper, as she looked away at the ships. And then repeated, with her former pleasant change, "shall
we walk a little farther, or go home?"
I said to Biddy we would walk a little farther, and we did so, and
the summer afternoon toned down into the summer evening, and it was
very beautiful. I began to consider whether I was not more
naturally and wholesomely situated, after all, in these
circumstances, than playing beggar my neighbor by candle-light in
the room with the stopped clocks, and being despised by Estella. I
thought it would be very good for me if I could get her out of my
head, with all the rest of those remembrances and fancies, and
could go to work determined to relish what I had to do, and stick
to it, and make the best of it. I asked myself the question whether
I did not surely know that if Estella were beside me at that moment
instead of Biddy, she would make me miserable? I was obliged to
admit that I did know it for a certainty, and I said to myself,
"Pip, what a fool you are!"
We talked a good deal as we walked, and all that Biddy said seemed
right. Biddy was never insulting, or capricious, or Biddy to-day
and somebody else to-morrow; she would have derived only pain, and
no pleasure, from giving me pain; she would far rather have wounded
her own breast than mine. How could it be, then, that I did not
like her much the better of the two? "Biddy," said I, when we were walking homeward, "I wish you could
put me right."
"I wish I could!" said Biddy.
"If I could only get myself to fall in love with you,--you don't
mind my speaking so openly to such an old acquaintance?"
"Oh dear, not at all!" said Biddy. "Don't mind me."
"If I could only get myself to do it, that would be the thing for
"But you never will, you see," said Biddy.
It did not appear quite so unlikely to me that evening, as it would
have done if we had discussed it a few hours before. I therefore
observed I was not quite sure of that. But Biddy said she was, and
she said it decisively. In my heart I believed her to be right; and
yet I took it rather ill, too, that she should be so positive on
When we came near the churchyard, we had to cross an embankment,
and get over a stile near a sluice-gate. There started up, from the
gate, or from the rushes, or from the ooze (which was quite in his stagnant way), Old Orlick.
"Halloa!" he growled, "where are you two going?"
"Where should we be going, but home?"
"Well, then," said he, "I'm jiggered if I don't see you home!"
This penalty of being jiggered was a favorite supposititious case
of his. He attached no definite meaning to the word that I am aware
of, but used it, like his own pretended Christian name, to affront
mankind, and convey an idea of something savagely damaging. When I
was younger, I had had a general belief that if he had jiggered me
personally, he would have done it with a sharp and twisted hook.
Biddy was much against his going with us, and said to me in a
whisper, "Don't let him come; I don't like him." As I did not like
him either, I took the liberty of saying that we thanked him, but
we didn't want seeing home. He received that piece of information
with a yell of laughter, and dropped back, but came slouching after
us at a little distance.
Curious to know whether Biddy suspected him of having had a hand in
that murderous attack of which my sister had never been able to
give any account, I asked her why she did not like him. "Oh!" she replied, glancing over her shoulder as he slouched after
us, "because I--I am afraid he likes me."
"Did he ever tell you he liked you?" I asked indignantly.
"No," said Biddy, glancing over her shoulder again, "he never told
me so; but he dances at me, whenever he can catch my eye."
However novel and peculiar this testimony of attachment, I did not
doubt the accuracy of the interpretation. I was very hot indeed
upon Old Orlick's daring to admire her; as hot as if it were an
outrage on myself.
"But it makes no difference to you, you know," said Biddy, calmly.
"No, Biddy, it makes no difference to me; only I don't like it; I
don't approve of it."
"Nor I neither," said Biddy. "Though that makes no difference to
"Exactly," said I; "but I must tell you I should have no opinion of
you, Biddy, if he danced at you with your own consent." I kept an eye on Orlick after that night, and, whenever
circumstances were favorable to his dancing at Biddy, got before
him to obscure that demonstration. He had struck root in Joe's
establishment, by reason of my sister's sudden fancy for him, or I
should have tried to get him dismissed. He quite understood and
reciprocated my good intentions, as I had reason to know
And now, because my mind was not confused enough before, I
complicated its confusion fifty thousand-fold, by having states and
seasons when I was clear that Biddy was immeasurably better than
Estella, and that the plain honest working life to which I was
born had nothing in it to be ashamed of, but offered me sufficient
means of self-respect and happiness. At those times, I would decide
conclusively that my disaffection to dear old Joe and the forge
was gone, and that I was growing up in a fair way to be partners
with Joe and to keep company with Biddy,--when all in a moment some
confounding remembrance of the Havisham days would fall upon me
like a destructive missile, and scatter my wits again. Scattered
wits take a long time picking up; and often before I had got them
well together, they would be dispersed in all directions by one
stray thought, that perhaps after all Miss Havisham was going to
make my fortune when my time was out.
If my time had run out, it would have left me still at the height of my perplexities, I dare say. It never did run out, however, but
was brought to a premature end, as I proceed to relate.
It was in the fourth year of my apprenticeship to Joe, and it was a
Saturday night. There was a group assembled round the fire at the
Three Jolly Bargemen, attentive to Mr. Wopsle as he read the
newspaper aloud. Of that group I was one.
A highly popular murder had been committed, and Mr. Wopsle was
imbrued in blood to the eyebrows. He gloated over every abhorrent
adjective in the description, and identified himself with every
witness at the Inquest. He faintly moaned, "I am done for," as the
victim, and he barbarously bellowed, "I'll serve you out," as the
murderer. He gave the medical testimony, in pointed imitation of
our local practitioner; and he piped and shook, as the aged
turnpike-keeper who had heard blows, to an extent so very paralytic
as to suggest a doubt regarding the mental competency of that
witness. The coroner, in Mr. Wopsle's hands, became Timon of Athens;
the beadle, Coriolanus. He enjoyed himself thoroughly, and we all
enjoyed ourselves, and were delightfully comfortable. In this cosey
state of mind we came to the verdict Wilful Murder. Then, and not sooner, I became aware of a strange gentleman leaning
over the back of the settle opposite me, looking on. There was an
expression of contempt on his face, and he bit the side of a great
forefinger as he watched the group of faces.
"Well!" said the stranger to Mr. Wopsle, when the reading was done,
"you have settled it all to your own satisfaction, I have no
Everybody started and looked up, as if it were the murderer. He
looked at everybody coldly and sarcastically.
"Guilty, of course?" said he. "Out with it. Come!"
"Sir," returned Mr. Wopsle, "without having the honor of your
acquaintance, I do say Guilty." Upon this we all took courage to
unite in a confirmatory murmur.
"I know you do," said the stranger; "I knew you would. I told you
so. But now I'll ask you a question. Do you know, or do you not
know, that the law of England supposes every man to be innocent,
until he is proved-proved--to be guilty?"
"Sir," Mr. Wopsle began to reply, "as an Englishman myself, I--" "Come!" said the stranger, biting his forefinger at him. "Don't
evade the question. Either you know it, or you don't know it. Which
is it to be?"
He stood with his head on one side and himself on one side, in a
Bullying, interrogative manner, and he threw his forefinger at Mr.
Wopsle,--as it were to mark him out--before biting it again.
"Now!" said he. "Do you know it, or don't you know it?"
"Certainly I know it," replied Mr. Wopsle.
"Certainly you know it. Then why didn't you say so at first? Now,
I'll ask you another question,"--taking possession of Mr. Wopsle, as
if he had a right to him,--"do you know that none of these witnesses
have yet been cross-examined?"
Mr. Wopsle was beginning, "I can only say--" when the stranger
"What? You won't answer the question, yes or no? Now, I'll try you
again." Throwing his finger at him again. "Attend to me. Are you
aware, or are you not aware, that none of these witnesses have yet
been cross-examined? Come, I only want one word from you. Yes, or
no?" Mr. Wopsle hesitated, and we all began to conceive rather a poor
opinion of him.
"Come!" said the stranger, "I'll help you. You don't deserve help,
but I'll help you. Look at that paper you hold in your hand. What
"What is it?" repeated Mr. Wopsle, eyeing it, much at a loss.
"Is it," pursued the stranger in his most sarcastic and suspicious
manner, "the printed paper you have just been reading from?"
"Undoubtedly. Now, turn to that paper, and tell me whether it
distinctly states that the prisoner expressly said that his legal
advisers instructed him altogether to reserve his defence?"
"I read that just now," Mr. Wopsle pleaded.
"Never mind what you read just now, sir; I don't ask you what you
read just now. You may read the Lord's Prayer backwards, if you
like,--and, perhaps, have done it before to-day. Turn to the paper.
No, no, no my friend; not to the top of the column; you know better than that; to the bottom, to the bottom." (We all began to think Mr.
Wopsle full of subterfuge.) "Well? Have you found it?"
"Here it is," said Mr. Wopsle.
"Now, follow that passage with your eye, and tell me whether it
distinctly states that the prisoner expressly said that he was
instructed by his legal advisers wholly to reserve his defence?
Come! Do you make that of it?"
Mr. Wopsle answered, "Those are not the exact words."
"Not the exact words!" repeated the gentleman bitterly. "Is that
the exact substance?"
"Yes," said Mr. Wopsle.
"Yes," repeated the stranger, looking round at the rest of the
company with his right hand extended towards the witness, Wopsle.
"And now I ask you what you say to the conscience of that man who,
with that passage before his eyes, can lay his head upon his pillow
after having pronounced a fellow-creature guilty, unheard?"
We all began to suspect that Mr. Wopsle was not the man we had
thought him, and that he was beginning to be found out. "And that same man, remember," pursued the gentleman, throwing his
finger at Mr. Wopsle heavily,--"that same man might be summoned as a
juryman upon this very trial, and, having thus deeply committed
himself, might return to the bosom of his family and lay his head
upon his pillow, after deliberately swearing that he would well and
truly try the issue joined between Our Sovereign Lord the King and
the prisoner at the bar, and would a true verdict give according to
the evidence, so help him God!"
We were all deeply persuaded that the unfortunate Wopsle had gone
too far, and had better stop in his reckless career while there was
The strange gentleman, with an air of authority not to be disputed,
and with a manner expressive of knowing something secret about
every one of us that would effectually do for each individual if he
chose to disclose it, left the back of the settle, and came into
the space between the two settles, in front of the fire, where he
remained standing, his left hand in his pocket, and he biting the
forefinger of his right.
"From information I have received," said he, looking round at us as
we all quailed before him, "I have reason to believe there is a
blacksmith among you, by name Joseph--or Joe--Gargery. Which is the man?"
"Here is the man," said Joe.
The strange gentleman beckoned him out of his place, and Joe went.
"You have an apprentice," pursued the stranger, "commonly known as
Pip? Is he here?"
"I am here!" I cried.
The stranger did not recognize me, but I recognized him as the
gentleman I had met on the stairs, on the occasion of my second
visit to Miss Havisham. I had known him the moment I saw him
looking over the settle, and now that I stood confronting him with
his hand upon my shoulder, I checked off again in detail his large
head, his dark complexion, his deep-set eyes, his bushy black
eyebrows, his large watch-chain, his strong black dots of beard and
whisker, and even the smell of scented soap on his great hand.
"I wish to have a private conference with you two," said he, when
he had surveyed me at his leisure. "It will take a little time.
Perhaps we had better go to your place of residence. I prefer not
to anticipate my communication here; you will impart as much or as
little of it as you please to your friends afterwards; I have nothing to do with that."
Amidst a wondering silence, we three walked out of the Jolly
Bargemen, and in a wondering silence walked home. While going
along, the strange gentleman occasionally looked at me, and
occasionally bit the side of his finger. As we neared home, Joe
vaguely acknowledging the occasion as an impressive and ceremonious
one, went on ahead to open the front door. Our conference was held
in the state parlor, which was feebly lighted by one candle.
It began with the strange gentleman's sitting down at the table,
drawing the candle to him, and looking over some entries in his
pocket-book. He then put up the pocket-book and set the candle a
little aside, after peering round it into the darkness at Joe and
me, to ascertain which was which.
"My name," he said, "is Jaggers, and I am a lawyer in London. I am
pretty well known. I have unusual business to transact with you,
and I commence by explaining that it is not of my originating. If
my advice had been asked, I should not have been here. It was not
asked, and you see me here. What I have to do as the confidential
agent of another, I do. No less, no more."
Finding that he could not see us very well from where he sat, he
got up, and threw one leg over the back of a chair and leaned upon it; thus having one foot on the seat of the chair, and one foot on
"Now, Joseph Gargery, I am the bearer of an offer to relieve you of
this young fellow your apprentice. You would not object to cancel
his indentures at his request and for his good? You would want
nothing for so doing?"
"Lord forbid that I should want anything for not standing in Pip's
way," said Joe, staring.
"Lord forbidding is pious, but not to the purpose," returned Mr.
Jaggers. "The question is, Would you want anything? Do you want
"The answer is," returned Joe, sternly, "No."
I thought Mr. Jaggers glanced at Joe, as if he considered him a fool
for his disinterestedness. But I was too much bewildered between
breathless curiosity and surprise, to be sure of it.
"Very well," said Mr. Jaggers. "Recollect the admission you have
made, and don't try to go from it presently."
"Who's a going to try?" retorted Joe. "I don't say anybody is. Do you keep a dog?"
"Yes, I do keep a dog."
"Bear in mind then, that Brag is a good dog, but Holdfast is a
better. Bear that in mind, will you?" repeated Mr. Jaggers, shutting
his eyes and nodding his head at Joe, as if he were forgiving him
something. "Now, I return to this young fellow. And the
communication I have got to make is, that he has Great
Joe and I gasped, and looked at one another.
"I am instructed to communicate to him," said Mr. Jaggers, throwing
his finger at me sideways, "that he will come into a handsome
property. Further, that it is the desire of the present possessor
of that property, that he be immediately removed from his present
sphere of life and from this place, and be brought up as a
gentleman,--in a word, as a young fellow of great expectations."
My dream was out; my wild fancy was surpassed by sober reality;
Miss Havisham was going to make my fortune on a grand scale.
"Now, Mr. Pip," pursued the lawyer, "I address the rest of what I have to say, to you. You are to understand, first, that it is the
request of the person from whom I take my instructions that you
always bear the name of Pip. You will have no objection, I dare
say, to your great expectations being encumbered with that easy
condition. But if you have any objection, this is the time to
My heart was beating so fast, and there was such a singing in my
ears, that I could scarcely stammer I had no objection.
"I should think not! Now you are to understand, secondly, Mr. Pip,
that the name of the person who is your liberal benefactor remains
a profound secret, until the person chooses to reveal it. I am
empowered to mention that it is the intention of the person to
reveal it at first hand by word of mouth to yourself. When or where
that intention may be carried out, I cannot say; no one can say. It
may be years hence. Now, you are distinctly to understand that you
are most positively prohibited from making any inquiry on this
head, or any allusion or reference, however distant, to any
individual whomsoever as the individual, in all the communications
you may have with me. If you have a suspicion in your own breast,
keep that suspicion in your own breast. It is not the least to the
purpose what the reasons of this prohibition are; they may be the
strongest and gravest reasons, or they may be mere whim. This is
not for you to inquire into. The condition is laid down. Your acceptance of it, and your observance of it as binding, is the only
remaining condition that I am charged with, by the person from whom
I take my instructions, and for whom I am not otherwise
responsible. That person is the person from whom you derive your
expectations, and the secret is solely held by that person and by
me. Again, not a very difficult condition with which to encumber
such a rise in fortune; but if you have any objection to it, this
is the time to mention it. Speak out."
Once more, I stammered with difficulty that I had no objection.
"I should think not! Now, Mr. Pip, I have done with stipulations."
Though he called me Mr. Pip, and began rather to make up to me, he
still could not get rid of a certain air of bullying suspicion; and
even now he occasionally shut his eyes and threw his finger at me
while he spoke, as much as to express that he knew all kinds of
things to my disparagement, if he only chose to mention them. "We
come next, to mere details of arrangement. You must know that,
although I have used the term "expectations" more than once, you
are not endowed with expectations only. There is already lodged in
my hands a sum of money amply sufficient for your suitable
education and maintenance. You will please consider me your
guardian. Oh!" for I was going to thank him, "I tell you at once, I
am paid for my services, or I shouldn't render them. It is
considered that you must be better educated, in accordance with your altered position, and that you will be alive to the importance
and necessity of at once entering on that advantage."
I said I had always longed for it.
"Never mind what you have always longed for, Mr. Pip," he retorted;
"keep to the record. If you long for it now, that's enough. Am I
answered that you are ready to be placed at once under some proper
tutor? Is that it?"
I stammered yes, that was it.
"Good. Now, your inclinations are to be consulted. I don't think
that wise, mind, but it's my trust. Have you ever heard of any
tutor whom you would prefer to another?"
I had never heard of any tutor but Biddy and Mr. Wopsle's great-aunt;
so, I replied in the negative.
"There is a certain tutor, of whom I have some knowledge, who I
think might suit the purpose," said Mr. Jaggers. "I don't recommend
him, observe; because I never recommend anybody. The gentleman I
speak of is one Mr. Matthew Pocket."
Ah! I caught at the name directly. Miss Havisham's relation. The Matthew whom Mr. and Mrs. Camilla had spoken of. The Matthew whose
place was to be at Miss Havisham's head, when she lay dead, in her
bride's dress on the bride's table.
"You know the name?" said Mr. Jaggers, looking shrewdly at me, and
then shutting up his eyes while he waited for my answer.
My answer was, that I had heard of the name.
"Oh!" said he. "You have heard of the name. But the question is,
what do you say of it?"
I said, or tried to say, that I was much obliged to him for his
"No, my young friend!" he interrupted, shaking his great head very
slowly. "Recollect yourself!"
Not recollecting myself, I began again that I was much obliged to
him for his recommendation--
"No, my young friend," he interrupted, shaking his head and
frowning and smiling both at once,--"no, no, no; it's very well
done, but it won't do; you are too young to fix me with it.
Recommendation is not the word, Mr. Pip. Try another." Correcting myself, I said that I was much obliged to him for his
mention of Mr. Matthew Pocket--
"That's more like it!" cried Mr. Jaggers.
--And (I added), I would gladly try that gentleman.
"Good. You had better try him in his own house. The way shall be
prepared for you, and you can see his son first, who is in London.
When will you come to London?"
I said (glancing at Joe, who stood looking on, motionless), that I
supposed I could come directly.
"First," said Mr. Jaggers, "you should have some new clothes to come
in, and they should not be working-clothes. Say this day week.
You'll want some money. Shall I leave you twenty guineas?"
He produced a long purse, with the greatest coolness, and counted
them out on the table and pushed them over to me. This was the
first time he had taken his leg from the chair. He sat astride of
the chair when he had pushed the money over, and sat swinging his
purse and eyeing Joe. "Well, Joseph Gargery? You look dumbfoundered?"
"I am!" said Joe, in a very decided manner.
"It was understood that you wanted nothing for yourself, remember?"
"It were understood," said Joe. "And it are understood. And it ever
will be similar according."
"But what," said Mr. Jaggers, swinging his purse,--"what if it was in
my instructions to make you a present, as compensation?"
"As compensation what for?" Joe demanded.
"For the loss of his services."
Joe laid his hand upon my shoulder with the touch of a woman. I
have often thought him since, like the steam-hammer that can crush
a man or pat an egg-shell, in his combination of strength with
gentleness. "Pip is that hearty welcome," said Joe, "to go free
with his services, to honor and fortun', as no words can tell him.
But if you think as Money can make compensation to me for the loss
of the little child--what come to the forge--and ever the best of
friends!--" O dear good Joe, whom I was so ready to leave and so unthankful to,
I see you again, with your muscular blacksmith's arm before your
eyes, and your broad chest heaving, and your voice dying away. O
dear good faithful tender Joe, I feel the loving tremble of your
hand upon my arm, as solemnly this day as if it had been the rustle
of an angel's wing!
But I encouraged Joe at the time. I was lost in the mazes of my
future fortunes, and could not retrace the by-paths we had trodden
together. I begged Joe to be comforted, for (as he said) we had
ever been the best of friends, and (as I said) we ever would be so.
Joe scooped his eyes with his disengaged wrist, as if he were bent
on gouging himself, but said not another word.
Mr. Jaggers had looked on at this, as one who recognized in Joe the
village idiot, and in me his keeper. When it was over, he said,
weighing in his hand the purse he had ceased to swing:--
"Now, Joseph Gargery, I warn you this is your last chance. No half
measures with me. If you mean to take a present that I have it in
charge to make you, speak out, and you shall have it. If on the
contrary you mean to say--" Here, to his great amazement, he was
stopped by Joe's suddenly working round him with every
demonstration of a fell pugilistic purpose. "Which I meantersay," cried Joe, "that if you come into my place
bull-baiting and badgering me, come out! Which I meantersay as sech
if you're a man, come on! Which I meantersay that what I say, I
meantersay and stand or fall by!"
I drew Joe away, and he immediately became placable; merely stating
to me, in an obliging manner and as a polite expostulatory notice
to any one whom it might happen to concern, that he were not a
going to be bull-baited and badgered in his own place. Mr. Jaggers
had risen when Joe demonstrated, and had backed near the door.
Without evincing any inclination to come in again, he there
delivered his valedictory remarks. They were these.
"Well, Mr. Pip, I think the sooner you leave here--as you are to be
a gentleman--the better. Let it stand for this day week, and you
shall receive my printed address in the meantime. You can take a
hackney-coach at the stage-coach office in London, and come
straight to me. Understand, that I express no opinion, one way or
other, on the trust I undertake. I am paid for undertaking it, and
I do so. Now, understand that, finally. Understand that!"
He was throwing his finger at both of us, and I think would have
gone on, but for his seeming to think Joe dangerous, and going off.
Something came into my head which induced me to run after him, as he was going down to the Jolly Bargemen, where he had left a hired
"I beg your pardon, Mr. Jaggers."
"Halloa!" said he, facing round, "what's the matter?"
"I wish to be quite right, Mr. Jaggers, and to keep to your
directions; so I thought I had better ask. Would there be any
objection to my taking leave of any one I know, about here, before
I go away?"
"No," said he, looking as if he hardly understood me.
"I don't mean in the village only, but up town?"
"No," said he. "No objection."
I thanked him and ran home again, and there I found that Joe had
already locked the front door and vacated the state parlor, and
was seated by the kitchen fire with a hand on each knee, gazing
intently at the burning coals. I too sat down before the fire and
gazed at the coals, and nothing was said for a long time.
My sister was in her cushioned chair in her corner, and Biddy sat at her needle-work before the fire, and Joe sat next Biddy, and I
sat next Joe in the corner opposite my sister. The more I looked
into the glowing coals, the more incapable I became of looking at
Joe; the longer the silence lasted, the more unable I felt to
At length I got out, "Joe, have you told Biddy?"
"No, Pip," returned Joe, still looking at the fire, and holding his
knees tight, as if he had private information that they intended to
make off somewhere, "which I left it to yourself, Pip."
"I would rather you told, Joe."
"Pip's a gentleman of fortun' then," said Joe, "and God bless him
Biddy dropped her work, and looked at me. Joe held his knees and
looked at me. I looked at both of them. After a pause, they both
heartily congratulated me; but there was a certain touch of sadness
in their congratulations that I rather resented.
I took it upon myself to impress Biddy (and through Biddy, Joe)
with the grave obligation I considered my friends under, to know
nothing and say nothing about the maker of my fortune. It would all come out in good time, I observed, and in the meanwhile nothing was
to be said, save that I had come into great expectations from a
mysterious patron. Biddy nodded her head thoughtfully at the fire
as she took up her work again, and said she would be very
particular; and Joe, still detaining his knees, said, "Ay, ay, I'll
be ekervally partickler, Pip;" and then they congratulated me
again, and went on to express so much wonder at the notion of my
being a gentleman that I didn't half like it.
Infinite pains were then taken by Biddy to convey to my sister some
idea of what had happened. To the best of my belief, those efforts
entirely failed. She laughed and nodded her head a great many
times, and even repeated after Biddy, the words "Pip" and
"Property." But I doubt if they had more meaning in them than an
election cry, and I cannot suggest a darker picture of her state of
I never could have believed it without experience, but as Joe and
Biddy became more at their cheerful ease again, I became quite
gloomy. Dissatisfied with my fortune, of course I could not be; but
it is possible that I may have been, without quite knowing it,
dissatisfied with myself.
Any how, I sat with my elbow on my knee and my face upon my hand,
looking into the fire, as those two talked about my going away, and about what they should do without me, and all that. And whenever I
caught one of them looking at me, though never so pleasantly (and
they often looked at me,--particularly Biddy), I felt offended: as
if they were expressing some mistrust of me. Though Heaven knows
they never did by word or sign.
At those times I would get up and look out at the door; for our
kitchen door opened at once upon the night, and stood open on
summer evenings to air the room. The very stars to which I then
raised my eyes, I am afraid I took to be but poor and humble stars
for glittering on the rustic objects among which I had passed my
"Saturday night," said I, when we sat at our supper of
bread and cheese and beer. "Five more days, and then the day before
the day! They'll soon go."
"Yes, Pip," observed Joe, whose voice sounded hollow in his beer
mug. "They'll soon go."
"Soon, soon go," said Biddy.
"I have been thinking, Joe, that when I go down town on Monday, and
order my new clothes, I shall tell the tailor that I'll come and
put them on there, or that I'll have them sent to Mr. Pumblechook's. It would be very disagreeable to be stared at by all the people
"Mr. and Mrs. Hubble might like to see you in your new gen-teel figure
too, Pip," said Joe, industriously cutting his bread, with his
cheese on it, in the palm of his left hand, and glancing at my
untasted supper as if he thought of the time when we used to
compare slices. "So might Wopsle. And the Jolly Bargemen might take
it as a compliment."
"That's just what I don't want, Joe. They would make such a
business of it,--such a coarse and common business,--that I
couldn't bear myself."
"Ah, that indeed, Pip!" said Joe. "If you couldn't abear
Biddy asked me here, as she sat holding my sister's plate, "Have
you thought about when you'll show yourself to Mr. Gargery, and your
sister and me? You will show yourself to us; won't you?"
"Biddy," I returned with some resentment, "you are so exceedingly
quick that it's difficult to keep up with you."
("She always were quick," observed Joe.) "If you had waited another moment, Biddy, you would have heard me
say that I shall bring my clothes here in a bundle one evening,--
most likely on the evening before I go away."
Biddy said no more. Handsomely forgiving her, I soon exchanged an
affectionate good night with her and Joe, and went up to bed. When
I got into my little room, I sat down and took a long look at it,
as a mean little room that I should soon be parted from and raised
above, for ever. It was furnished with fresh young remembrances
too, and even at the same moment I fell into much the same confused
division of mind between it and the better rooms to which I was
going, as I had been in so often between the forge and Miss
Havisham's, and Biddy and Estella.
The sun had been shining brightly all day on the roof of my attic,
and the room was warm. As I put the window open and stood looking
out, I saw Joe come slowly forth at the dark door, below, and take a
turn or two in the air; and then I saw Biddy come, and bring him a
pipe and light it for him. He never smoked so late, and it seemed
to hint to me that he wanted comforting, for some reason or other.
He presently stood at the door immediately beneath me, smoking his
pipe, and Biddy stood there too, quietly talking to him, and I knew
that they talked of me, for I heard my name mentioned in an endearing tone by both of them more than once. I would not have
listened for more, if I could have heard more; so I drew away from
the window, and sat down in my one chair by the bedside, feeling it
very sorrowful and strange that this first night of my bright
fortunes should be the loneliest I had ever known.
Looking towards the open window, I saw light wreaths from Joe's
pipe floating there, and I fancied it was like a blessing from Joe,
--not obtruded on me or paraded before me, but pervading the air we
shared together. I put my light out, and crept into bed; and it was
an uneasy bed now, and I never slept the old sound sleep in it any
Morning made a considerable difference in my general prospect of
Life, and brightened it so much that it scarcely seemed the same.
What lay heaviest on my mind was, the consideration that six days
intervened between me and the day of departure; for I could not
divest myself of a misgiving that something might happen to London
in the meanwhile, and that, when I got there, it would be either
greatly deteriorated or clean gone.
Joe and Biddy were very sympathetic and pleasant when I spoke of our approaching separation; but they only referred to it when I
did. After breakfast, Joe brought out my indentures from the press
in the best parlor, and we put them in the fire, and I felt that I
was free. With all the novelty of my emancipation on me, I went to
church with Joe, and thought perhaps the clergyman wouldn't have
read that about the rich man and the kingdom of Heaven, if he had
After our early dinner, I strolled out alone, purposing to finish
off the marshes at once, and get them done with. As I passed the
church, I felt (as I had felt during service in the morning) a
sublime compassion for the poor creatures who were destined to go
there, Sunday after Sunday, all their lives through, and to lie
obscurely at last among the low green mounds. I promised myself
that I would do something for them one of these days, and formed a
plan in outline for bestowing a dinner of roast-beef and
plum-pudding, a pint of ale, and a gallon of condescension, upon
everybody in the village.
If I had often thought before, with something allied to shame, of
my companionship with the fugitive whom I had once seen limping
among those graves, what were my thoughts on this Sunday, when the
place recalled the wretch, ragged and shivering, with his felon
iron and badge! My comfort was, that it happened a long time ago,
and that he had doubtless been transported a long way off, and that he was dead to me, and might be veritably dead into the bargain.
No more low, wet grounds, no more dikes and sluices, no more of
these grazing cattle,--though they seemed, in their dull manner, to
wear a more respectful air now, and to face round, in order that
they might stare as long as possible at the possessor of such great
expectations,--farewell, monotonous acquaintances of my childhood,
henceforth I was for London and greatness; not for smith's work in
general, and for you! I made my exultant way to the old Battery,
and, lying down there to consider the question whether Miss
Havisham intended me for Estella, fell asleep.
When I awoke, I was much surprised to find Joe sitting beside me,
smoking his pipe. He greeted me with a cheerful smile on my opening
my eyes, and said,--
"As being the last time, Pip, I thought I'd foller."
"And Joe, I am very glad you did so."
"You may be sure, dear Joe," I went on, after we had shaken hands,
"that I shall never forget you." "No, no, Pip!" said Joe, in a comfortable tone, "I'm sure of that.
Ay, ay, old chap! Bless you, it were only necessary to get it well
round in a man's mind, to be certain on it. But it took a bit of
time to get it well round, the change come so oncommon plump;
Somehow, I was not best pleased with Joe's being so mightily secure
of me. I should have liked him to have betrayed emotion, or to have
said, "It does you credit, Pip," or something of that sort.
Therefore, I made no remark on Joe's first head; merely saying as
to his second, that the tidings had indeed come suddenly, but that
I had always wanted to be a gentleman, and had often and often
speculated on what I would do, if I were one.
"Have you though?" said Joe. "Astonishing!"
"It's a pity now, Joe," said I, "that you did not get on a little
more, when we had our lessons here; isn't it?"
"Well, I don't know," returned Joe. "I'm so awful dull. I'm only
master of my own trade. It were always a pity as I was so awful
dull; but it's no more of a pity now, than it was--this day
twelvemonth--don't you see?"
What I had meant was, that when I came into my property and was able to do something for Joe, it would have been much more
agreeable if he had been better qualified for a rise in station. He
was so perfectly innocent of my meaning, however, that I thought I
would mention it to Biddy in preference.
So, when we had walked home and had had tea, I took Biddy into our
little garden by the side of the lane, and, after throwing out in a
general way for the elevation of her spirits, that I should never
forget her, said I had a favor to ask of her.
"And it is, Biddy," said I, "that you will not omit any opportunity
of helping Joe on, a little."
"How helping him on?" asked Biddy, with a steady sort of glance.
"Well! Joe is a dear good fellow,--in fact, I think he is the
dearest fellow that ever lived,--but he is rather backward in some
things. For instance, Biddy, in his learning and his manners."
Although I was looking at Biddy as I spoke, and although she opened
her eyes very wide when I had spoken, she did not look at me.
"O, his manners! won't his manners do then?" asked Biddy,
plucking a black-currant leaf. "My dear Biddy, they do very well here--"
"O! they do very well here?" interrupted Biddy, looking closely at
the leaf in her hand.
"Hear me out,--but if I were to remove Joe into a higher sphere, as
I shall hope to remove him when I fully come into my property, they
would hardly do him justice."
"And don't you think he knows that?" asked Biddy.
It was such a very provoking question (for it had never in the most
distant manner occurred to me), that I said, snappishly,--
"Biddy, what do you mean?"
Biddy, having rubbed the leaf to pieces between her hands,--and the
smell of a black-currant bush has ever since recalled to me that
evening in the little garden by the side of the lane,--said, "Have
you never considered that he may be proud?"
"Proud?" I repeated, with disdainful emphasis.
"O! there are many kinds of pride," said Biddy, looking full at me
and shaking her head; "pride is not all of one kind--" "Well? What are you stopping for?" said I.
"Not all of one kind," resumed Biddy. "He may be too proud to let
any one take him out of a place that he is competent to fill, and
fills well and with respect. To tell you the truth, I think he is;
though it sounds bold in me to say so, for you must know him far
better than I do."
"Now, Biddy," said I, "I am very sorry to see this in you. I did
not expect to see this in you. You are envious, Biddy, and
grudging. You are dissatisfied on account of my rise in fortune,
and you can't help showing it."
"If you have the heart to think so," returned Biddy, "say so. Say
so over and over again, if you have the heart to think so."
"If you have the heart to be so, you mean, Biddy," said I, in a
virtuous and superior tone; "don't put it off upon me. I am very
sorry to see it, and it's a--it's a bad side of human nature. I
did intend to ask you to use any little opportunities you might
have after I was gone, of improving dear Joe. But after this I ask
you nothing. I am extremely sorry to see this in you, Biddy," I
repeated. "It's a--it's a bad side of human nature." "Whether you scold me or approve of me," returned poor Biddy, "you
may equally depend upon my trying to do all that lies in my power,
here, at all times. And whatever opinion you take away of me, shall
make no difference in my remembrance of you. Yet a gentleman should
not be unjust neither," said Biddy, turning away her head.
I again warmly repeated that it was a bad side of human nature (in
which sentiment, waiving its application, I have since seen reason
to think I was right), and I walked down the little path away from
Biddy, and Biddy went into the house, and I went out at the garden
gate and took a dejected stroll until supper-time; again feeling it
very sorrowful and strange that this, the second night of my bright
fortunes, should be as lonely and unsatisfactory as the first.
But, morning once more brightened my view, and I extended my
clemency to Biddy, and we dropped the subject. Putting on the best
clothes I had, I went into town as early as I could hope to find
the shops open, and presented myself before Mr. Trabb, the tailor,
who was having his breakfast in the parlor behind his shop, and
who did not think it worth his while to come out to me, but called
me in to him.
"Well!" said Mr. Trabb, in a hail-fellow-well-met kind of way. "How
are you, and what can I do for you?" Mr. Trabb had sliced his hot roll into three feather-beds, and was
slipping butter in between the blankets, and covering it up. He was
a prosperous old bachelor, and his open window looked into a
prosperous little garden and orchard, and there was a prosperous
iron safe let into the wall at the side of his fireplace, and I did
not doubt that heaps of his prosperity were put away in it in bags.
"Mr. Trabb," said I, "it's an unpleasant thing to have to mention,
because it looks like boasting; but I have come into a handsome
A change passed over Mr. Trabb. He forgot the butter in bed, got up
from the bedside, and wiped his fingers on the tablecloth,
exclaiming, "Lord bless my soul!"
"I am going up to my guardian in London," said I, casually drawing
some guineas out of my pocket and looking at them; "and I want a
fashionable suit of clothes to go in. I wish to pay for them," I
added--otherwise I thought he might only pretend to make them,
"with ready money."
"My dear sir," said Mr. Trabb, as he respectfully bent his body,
opened his arms, and took the liberty of touching me on the outside
of each elbow, "don't hurt me by mentioning that. May I venture to
congratulate you? Would you do me the favor of stepping into the shop?"
Mr. Trabb's boy was the most audacious boy in all that country-side.
When I had entered he was sweeping the shop, and he had sweetened
his labors by sweeping over me. He was still sweeping when I came
out into the shop with Mr. Trabb, and he knocked the broom against
all possible corners and obstacles, to express (as I understood it)
equality with any blacksmith, alive or dead.
"Hold that noise," said Mr. Trabb, with the greatest sternness, "or
I'll knock your head off!--Do me the favor to be seated, sir. Now,
this," said Mr. Trabb, taking down a roll of cloth, and tiding it
out in a flowing manner over the counter, preparatory to getting
his hand under it to show the gloss, "is a very sweet article. I
can recommend it for your purpose, sir, because it really is extra
super. But you shall see some others. Give me Number Four, you!"
(To the boy, and with a dreadfully severe stare; foreseeing the
danger of that miscreant's brushing me with it, or making some
other sign of familiarity.)
Mr. Trabb never removed his stern eye from the boy until he had
deposited number four on the counter and was at a safe distance
again. Then he commanded him to bring number five, and number
eight. "And let me have none of your tricks here," said Mr. Trabb,
"or you shall repent it, you young scoundrel, the longest day you have to live."
Mr. Trabb then bent over number four, and in a sort of deferential
confidence recommended it to me as a light article for summer wear,
an article much in vogue among the nobility and gentry, an article
that it would ever be an honor to him to reflect upon a
distinguished fellow-townsman's (if he might claim me for a
fellow-townsman) having worn. "Are you bringing numbers five and
eight, you vagabond," said Mr. Trabb to the boy after that, "or
shall I kick you out of the shop and bring them myself?"
I selected the materials for a suit, with the assistance of Mr.
Trabb's judgment, and re-entered the parlor to be measured. For
although Mr. Trabb had my measure already, and had previously been
quite contented with it, he said apologetically that it "wouldn't
do under existing circumstances, sir,--wouldn't do at all." So, Mr.
Trabb measured and calculated me in the parlor, as if I were an
estate and he the finest species of surveyor, and gave himself such
a world of trouble that I felt that no suit of clothes could
possibly remunerate him for his pains. When he had at last done and
had appointed to send the articles to Mr. Pumblechook's on the
Thursday evening, he said, with his hand upon the parlor lock, "I
know, sir, that London gentlemen cannot be expected to patronize
local work, as a rule; but if you would give me a turn now and then
in the quality of a townsman, I should greatly esteem it. Good morning, sir, much obliged.--Door!"
The last word was flung at the boy, who had not the least notion
what it meant. But I saw him collapse as his master rubbed me out
with his hands, and my first decided experience of the stupendous
power of money was, that it had morally laid upon his back
After this memorable event, I went to the hatter's, and the
bootmaker's, and the hosier's, and felt rather like Mother
Hubbard's dog whose outfit required the services of so many trades.
I also went to the coach-office and took my place for seven o'clock
on Saturday morning. It was not necessary to explain everywhere
that I had come into a handsome property; but whenever I said
anything to that effect, it followed that the officiating tradesman
ceased to have his attention diverted through the window by the
High Street, and concentrated his mind upon me. When I had ordered
everything I wanted, I directed my steps towards Pumblechook's,
and, as I approached that gentleman's place of business, I saw him
standing at his door.
He was waiting for me with great impatience. He had been out early
with the chaise-cart, and had called at the forge and heard the
news. He had prepared a collation for me in the Barnwell parlor,
and he too ordered his shopman to "come out of the gangway" as my sacred person passed.
"My dear friend," said Mr. Pumblechook, taking me by both hands,
when he and I and the collation were alone, "I give you joy of your
good fortune. Well deserved, well deserved!"
This was coming to the point, and I thought it a sensible way of
"To think," said Mr. Pumblechook, after snorting admiration at me
for some moments, "that I should have been the humble instrument of
leading up to this, is a proud reward."
I begged Mr. Pumblechook to remember that nothing was to be ever
said or hinted, on that point.
"My dear young friend," said Mr. Pumblechook; "if you will allow me
to call you so--"
I murmured "Certainly," and Mr. Pumblechook took me by both hands
again, and communicated a movement to his waistcoat, which had an
emotional appearance, though it was rather low down, "My dear young
friend, rely upon my doing my little all in your absence, by
keeping the fact before the mind of Joseph.--Joseph!" said Mr.
Pumblechook, in the way of a compassionate adjuration. "Joseph!! Joseph!!!" Thereupon he shook his head and tapped it, expressing
his sense of deficiency in Joseph.
"But my dear young friend," said Mr. Pumblechook, "you must be
hungry, you must be exhausted. Be seated. Here is a chicken had
round from the Boar, here is a tongue had round from the Boar,
here's one or two little things had round from the Boar, that I
hope you may not despise. But do I," said Mr. Pumblechook, getting
up again the moment after he had sat down, "see afore me, him as I
ever sported with in his times of happy infancy? And may I--may
This May I, meant might he shake hands? I consented, and he was
fervent, and then sat down again.
"Here is wine," said Mr. Pumblechook. "Let us drink, Thanks to
Fortune, and may she ever pick out her favorites with equal
judgment! And yet I cannot," said Mr. Pumblechook, getting up again,
"see afore me One--and likewise drink to One--without again
expressing--May I--may I--?"
I said he might, and he shook hands with me again, and emptied his
glass and turned it upside down. I did the same; and if I had
turned myself upside down before drinking, the wine could not have
gone more direct to my head. Mr. Pumblechook helped me to the liver wing, and to the best slice
of tongue (none of those out-of-the-way No Thoroughfares of Pork
now), and took, comparatively speaking, no care of himself at all.
"Ah! poultry, poultry! You little thought," said Mr. Pumblechook,
apostrophizing the fowl in the dish, "when you was a young
fledgling, what was in store for you. You little thought you was to
be refreshment beneath this humble roof for one as--Call it a
weakness, if you will," said Mr. Pumblechook, getting up again, "but
may I? may I--?"
It began to be unnecessary to repeat the form of saying he might,
so he did it at once. How he ever did it so often without wounding
himself with my knife, I don't know.
"And your sister," he resumed, after a little steady eating, "which
had the honor of bringing you up by hand! It's a sad picter, to
reflect that she's no longer equal to fully understanding the
I saw he was about to come at me again, and I stopped him.
"We'll drink her health," said I.
"Ah!" cried Mr. Pumblechook, leaning back in his chair, quite flaccid with admiration, "that's the way you know 'em, sir!" (I
don't know who Sir was, but he certainly was not I, and there was
no third person present); "that's the way you know the noble-minded,
sir! Ever forgiving and ever affable. It might," said the servile
Pumblechook, putting down his untasted glass in a hurry and getting
up again, "to a common person, have the appearance of repeating--
but may I--?"
When he had done it, he resumed his seat and drank to my sister.
"Let us never be blind," said Mr. Pumblechook, "to her faults of
temper, but it is to be hoped she meant well."
At about this time, I began to observe that he was getting flushed
in the face; as to myself, I felt all face, steeped in wine and
I mentioned to Mr. Pumblechook that I wished to have my new clothes
sent to his house, and he was ecstatic on my so distinguishing him.
I mentioned my reason for desiring to avoid observation in the
village, and he lauded it to the skies. There was nobody but
himself, he intimated, worthy of my confidence, and--in short,
might he? Then he asked me tenderly if I remembered our boyish
games at sums, and how we had gone together to have me bound
apprentice, and, in effect, how he had ever been my favorite fancy
and my chosen friend? If I had taken ten times as many glasses of wine as I had, I should have known that he never had stood in that
relation towards me, and should in my heart of hearts have
repudiated the idea. Yet for all that, I remember feeling convinced
that I had been much mistaken in him, and that he was a sensible,
practical, good-hearted prime fellow.
By degrees he fell to reposing such great confidence in me, as to
ask my advice in reference to his own affairs. He mentioned that
there was an opportunity for a great amalgamation and monopoly of
the corn and seed trade on those premises, if enlarged, such as had
never occurred before in that or any other neighborhood. What
alone was wanting to the realization of a vast fortune, he
considered to be More Capital. Those were the two little words,
more capital. Now it appeared to him (Pumblechook) that if that
capital were got into the business, through a sleeping partner, sir,
--which sleeping partner would have nothing to do but walk in, by
self or deputy, whenever he pleased, and examine the books,--and
walk in twice a year and take his profits away in his pocket, to
the tune of fifty per cent,--it appeared to him that that might be
an opening for a young gentleman of spirit combined with property,
which would be worthy of his attention. But what did I think? He
had great confidence in my opinion, and what did I think? I gave it
as my opinion. "Wait a bit!" The united vastness and distinctness
of this view so struck him, that he no longer asked if he might
shake hands with me, but said he really must,--and did. We drank all the wine, and Mr. Pumblechook pledged himself over and
over again to keep Joseph up to the mark (I don't know what mark),
and to render me efficient and constant service (I don't know what
service). He also made known to me for the first time in my life,
and certainly after having kept his secret wonderfully well, that
he had always said of me, "That boy is no common boy, and mark me,
his fortun' will be no common fortun'." He said with a tearful
smile that it was a singular thing to think of now, and I said so
too. Finally, I went out into the air, with a dim perception that
there was something unwonted in the conduct of the sunshine, and
found that I had slumberously got to the turnpike without having
taken any account of the road.
There, I was roused by Mr. Pumblechook's hailing me. He was a long
way down the sunny street, and was making expressive gestures for
me to stop. I stopped, and he came up breathless.
"No, my dear friend," said he, when he had recovered wind for
speech. "Not if I can help it. This occasion shall not entirely
pass without that affability on your part.--May I, as an old
friend and well-wisher? May I?"
We shook hands for the hundredth time at least, and he ordered a
young carter out of my way with the greatest indignation. Then, he blessed me and stood waving his hand to me until I had passed the
crook in the road; and then I turned into a field and had a long
nap under a hedge before I pursued my way home.
I had scant luggage to take with me to London, for little of the
little I possessed was adapted to my new station. But I began
packing that same afternoon, and wildly packed up things that I
knew I should want next morning, in a fiction that there was not a
moment to be lost.
So, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, passed; and on Friday morning
I went to Mr. Pumblechook's, to put on my new clothes and pay my
visit to Miss Havisham. Mr. Pumblechook's own room was given up to
me to dress in, and was decorated with clean towels expressly for
the event. My clothes were rather a disappointment, of course.
Probably every new and eagerly expected garment ever put on since
clothes came in, fell a trifle short of the wearer's expectation.
But after I had had my new suit on some half an hour, and had gone
through an immensity of posturing with Mr. Pumblechook's very
limited dressing-glass, in the futile endeavor to see my legs, it
seemed to fit me better. It being market morning at a neighboring
town some ten miles off, Mr. Pumblechook was not at home. I had not
told him exactly when I meant to leave, and was not likely to shake
hands with him again before departing. This was all as it should
be, and I went out in my new array, fearfully ashamed of having to pass the shopman, and suspicious after all that I was at a personal
disadvantage, something like Joe's in his Sunday suit.
I went circuitously to Miss Havisham's by all the back ways, and
rang at the bell constrainedly, on account of the stiff long
fingers of my gloves. Sarah Pocket came to the gate, and positively
reeled back when she saw me so changed; her walnut-shell
countenance likewise turned from brown to green and yellow.
"You?" said she. "You? Good gracious! What do you want?"
"I am going to London, Miss Pocket," said I, "and want to say
good by to Miss Havisham."
I was not expected, for she left me locked in the yard, while she
went to ask if I were to be admitted. After a very short delay, she
returned and took me up, staring at me all the way.
Miss Havisham was taking exercise in the room with the long spread
table, leaning on her crutch stick. The room was lighted as of
yore, and at the sound of our entrance, she stopped and turned. She
was then just abreast of the rotted bride-cake.
"Don't go, Sarah," she said. "Well, Pip?" "I start for London, Miss Havisham, to-morrow," I was exceedingly
careful what I said, "and I thought you would kindly not mind my
taking leave of you."
"This is a gay figure, Pip," said she, making her crutch stick play
round me, as if she, the fairy godmother who had changed me, were
bestowing the finishing gift.
"I have come into such good fortune since I saw you last, Miss
Havisham," I murmured. "And I am so grateful for it, Miss
"Ay, ay!" said she, looking at the discomfited and envious Sarah,
with delight. "I have seen Mr. Jaggers. I have heard about it, Pip.
So you go to-morrow?"
"Yes, Miss Havisham."
"And you are adopted by a rich person?"
"Yes, Miss Havisham."
"No, Miss Havisham." "And Mr. Jaggers is made your guardian?"
"Yes, Miss Havisham."
She quite gloated on these questions and answers, so keen was her
enjoyment of Sarah Pocket's jealous dismay. "Well!" she went on;
"you have a promising career before you. Be good--deserve it--and
abide by Mr. Jaggers's instructions." She looked at me, and looked
at Sarah, and Sarah's countenance wrung out of her watchful face a
cruel smile. "Good by, Pip!--you will always keep the name of
Pip, you know."
"Yes, Miss Havisham."
"Good by, Pip!"
She stretched out her hand, and I went down on my knee and put it
to my lips. I had not considered how I should take leave of her; it
came naturally to me at the moment to do this. She looked at Sarah
Pocket with triumph in her weird eyes, and so I left my fairy
godmother, with both her hands on her crutch stick, standing in the
midst of the dimly lighted room beside the rotten bride-cake that
was hidden in cobwebs. Sarah Pocket conducted me down, as if I were a ghost who must be
seen out. She could not get over my appearance, and was in the last
degree confounded. I said "Good by, Miss Pocket;" but she merely
stared, and did not seem collected enough to know that I had
spoken. Clear of the house, I made the best of my way back to
Pumblechook's, took off my new clothes, made them into a bundle,
and went back home in my older dress, carrying it--to speak the
truth--much more at my ease too, though I had the bundle to carry.
And now, those six days which were to have run out so slowly, had
run out fast and were gone, and to-morrow looked me in the face
more steadily than I could look at it. As the six evenings had
dwindled away, to five, to four, to three, to two, I had become
more and more appreciative of the society of Joe and Biddy. On this
last evening, I dressed my self out in my new clothes for their
delight, and sat in my splendor until bedtime. We had a hot supper
on the occasion, graced by the inevitable roast fowl, and we had
some flip to finish with. We were all very low, and none the higher
for pretending to be in spirits.
I was to leave our village at five in the morning, carrying my
little hand-portmanteau, and I had told Joe that I wished to walk
away all alone. I am afraid--sore afraid--that this purpose
originated in my sense of the contrast there would be between me
and Joe, if we went to the coach together. I had pretended with myself that there was nothing of this taint in the arrangement; but
when I went up to my little room on this last night, I felt
compelled to admit that it might be so, and had an impulse upon me
to go down again and entreat Joe to walk with me in the morning. I
All night there were coaches in my broken sleep, going to wrong
places instead of to London, and having in the traces, now dogs,
now cats, now pigs, now men,--never horses. Fantastic failures of
journeys occupied me until the day dawned and the birds were
singing. Then, I got up and partly dressed, and sat at the window
to take a last look out, and in taking it fell asleep.
Biddy was astir so early to get my breakfast, that, although I did
not sleep at the window an hour, I smelt the smoke of the kitchen
fire when I started up with a terrible idea that it must be late in
the afternoon. But long after that, and long after I had heard the
clinking of the teacups and was quite ready, I wanted the
resolution to go down stairs. After all, I remained up there,
repeatedly unlocking and unstrapping my small portmanteau and
locking and strapping it up again, until Biddy called to me that I
It was a hurried breakfast with no taste in it. I got up from the
meal, saying with a sort of briskness, as if it had only just occurred to me, "Well! I suppose I must be off!" and then I kissed
my sister who was laughing and nodding and shaking in her usual
chair, and kissed Biddy, and threw my arms around Joe's neck. Then
I took up my little portmanteau and walked out. The last I saw of
them was, when I presently heard a scuffle behind me, and looking
back, saw Joe throwing an old shoe after me and Biddy throwing
another old shoe. I stopped then, to wave my hat, and dear old Joe
waved his strong right arm above his head, crying huskily
"Hooroar!" and Biddy put her apron to her face.
I walked away at a good pace, thinking it was easier to go than I
had supposed it would be, and reflecting that it would never have
done to have had an old shoe thrown after the coach, in sight of
all the High Street. I whistled and made nothing of going. But the
village was very peaceful and quiet, and the light mists were
solemnly rising, as if to show me the world, and I had been so
innocent and little there, and all beyond was so unknown and great,
that in a moment with a strong heave and sob I broke into tears. It
was by the finger-post at the end of the village, and I laid my
hand upon it, and said, "Good by, O my dear, dear friend!"
Heaven knows we need never be ashamed of our tears, for they are
rain upon the blinding dust of earth, overlying our hard hearts. I
was better after I had cried than before,--more sorry, more aware
of my own ingratitude, more gentle. If I had cried before, I should have had Joe with me then.
So subdued I was by those tears, and by their breaking out again in
the course of the quiet walk, that when I was on the coach, and it
was clear of the town, I deliberated with an aching heart whether I
would not get down when we changed horses and walk back, and have
another evening at home, and a better parting. We changed, and I
had not made up my mind, and still reflected for my comfort that it
would be quite practicable to get down and walk back, when we
changed again. And while I was occupied with these deliberations, I
would fancy an exact resemblance to Joe in some man coming along
the road towards us, and my heart would beat high.--As if he could
possibly be there!
We changed again, and yet again, and it was now too late and too
far to go back, and I went on. And the mists had all solemnly risen
now, and the world lay spread before me.
This is the end of the first stage of Pip's expectations.
The journey from our town to the metropolis was a journey of about
five hours. It was a little past midday when the four-horse
stage-coach by which I was a passenger, got into the ravel of traffic frayed out about the Cross Keys, Wood Street, Cheapside,
We Britons had at that time particularly settled that it was
treasonable to doubt our having and our being the best of
everything: otherwise, while I was scared by the immensity of
London, I think I might have had some faint doubts whether it was
not rather ugly, crooked, narrow, and dirty.
Mr. Jaggers had duly sent me his address; it was, Little Britain,
and he had written after it on his card, "just out of Smithfield,
and close by the coach-office." Nevertheless, a hackney-coachman,
who seemed to have as many capes to his greasy great-coat as he was
years old, packed me up in his coach and hemmed me in with a
folding and jingling barrier of steps, as if he were going to take
me fifty miles. His getting on his box, which I remember to have
been decorated with an old weather-stained pea-green hammercloth
moth-eaten into rags, was quite a work of time. It was a wonderful
equipage, with six great coronets outside, and ragged things behind
for I don't know how many footmen to hold on by, and a harrow below
them, to prevent amateur footmen from yielding to the temptation.
I had scarcely had time to enjoy the coach and to think how like a
straw-yard it was, and yet how like a rag-shop, and to wonder why
the horses' nose-bags were kept inside, when I observed the coachman beginning to get down, as if we were going to stop
presently. And stop we presently did, in a gloomy street, at
certain offices with an open door, whereon was painted MR. JAGGERS.
"How much?" I asked the coachman.
The coachman answered, "A shilling--unless you wish to make it
I naturally said I had no wish to make it more.
"Then it must be a shilling," observed the coachman. "I don't want
to get into trouble. I know him!" He darkly closed an eye at Mr.
Jaggers's name, and shook his head.
When he had got his shilling, and had in course of time completed
the ascent to his box, and had got away (which appeared to relieve
his mind), I went into the front office with my little portmanteau
in my hand and asked, Was Mr. Jaggers at home?
"He is not," returned the clerk. "He is in Court at present. Am I
addressing Mr. Pip?"
I signified that he was addressing Mr. Pip. "Mr. Jaggers left word, would you wait in his room. He couldn't say
how long he might be, having a case on. But it stands to reason,
his time being valuable, that he won't be longer than he can help."
With those words, the clerk opened a door, and ushered me into an
inner chamber at the back. Here, we found a gentleman with one eye,
in a velveteen suit and knee-breeches, who wiped his nose with his
sleeve on being interrupted in the perusal of the newspaper.
"Go and wait outside, Mike," said the clerk.
I began to say that I hoped I was not interrupting, when the clerk
shoved this gentleman out with as little ceremony as I ever saw
used, and tossing his fur cap out after him, left me alone.
Mr. Jaggers's room was lighted by a skylight only, and was a most
dismal place; the skylight, eccentrically pitched like a broken
head, and the distorted adjoining houses looking as if they had
twisted themselves to peep down at me through it. There were not so
many papers about, as I should have expected to see; and there were
some odd objects about, that I should not have expected to see,-
such as an old rusty pistol, a sword in a scabbard, several
strange-looking boxes and packages, and two dreadful casts on a
shelf, of faces peculiarly swollen, and twitchy about the nose. Mr.
Jaggers's own high-backed chair was of deadly black horsehair, with rows of brass nails round it, like a coffin; and I fancied I
could see how he leaned back in it, and bit his forefinger at the
clients. The room was but small, and the clients seemed to have had
a habit of backing up against the wall; the wall, especially
opposite to Mr. Jaggers's chair, being greasy with shoulders. I
recalled, too, that the one-eyed gentleman had shuffled forth
against the wall when I was the innocent cause of his being turned
I sat down in the cliental chair placed over against Mr. Jaggers's
chair, and became fascinated by the dismal atmosphere of the place.
I called to mind that the clerk had the same air of knowing
something to everybody else's disadvantage, as his master had. I
wondered how many other clerks there were up-stairs, and whether
they all claimed to have the same detrimental mastery of their
fellow-creatures. I wondered what was the history of all the odd
litter about the room, and how it came there. I wondered whether
the two swollen faces were of Mr. Jaggers's family, and, if he were
so unfortunate as to have had a pair of such ill-looking relations,
why he stuck them on that dusty perch for the blacks and flies to
settle on, instead of giving them a place at home. Of course I had
no experience of a London summer day, and my spirits may have been
oppressed by the hot exhausted air, and by the dust and grit that
lay thick on everything. But I sat wondering and waiting in Mr.
Jaggers's close room, until I really could not bear the two casts on the shelf above Mr. Jaggers's chair, and got up and went out.
When I told the clerk that I would take a turn in the air while I
waited, he advised me to go round the corner and I should come into
Smithfield. So I came into Smithfield; and the shameful place,
being all asmear with filth and fat and blood and foam, seemed to
stick to me. So, I rubbed it off with all possible speed by turning
into a street where I saw the great black dome of Saint Paul's
bulging at me from behind a grim stone building which a bystander
said was Newgate Prison. Following the wall of the jail, I found
the roadway covered with straw to deaden the noise of passing
vehicles; and from this, and from the quantity of people standing
about smelling strongly of spirits and beer, I inferred that the
trials were on.
While I looked about me here, an exceedingly dirty and partially
drunk minister of justice asked me if I would like to step in and
hear a trial or so: informing me that he could give me a front
place for half a crown, whence I should command a full view of the
Lord Chief Justice in his wig and robes,--mentioning that awful
personage like waxwork, and presently offering him at the reduced
price of eighteen-pence. As I declined the proposal on the plea of
an appointment, he was so good as to take me into a yard and show
me where the gallows was kept, and also where people were publicly
whipped, and then he showed me the Debtors' Door, out of which culprits came to be hanged; heightening the interest of that
dreadful portal by giving me to understand that "four on 'em" would
come out at that door the day after to-morrow at eight in the
morning, to be killed in a row. This was horrible, and gave me a
sickening idea of London; the more so as the Lord Chief Justice's
proprietor wore (from his hat down to his boots and up again to his
pocket-handkerchief inclusive) mildewed clothes which had
evidently not belonged to him originally, and which I took it into
my head he had bought cheap of the executioner. Under these
circumstances I thought myself well rid of him for a shilling.
I dropped into the office to ask if Mr. Jaggers had come in yet, and
I found he had not, and I strolled out again. This time, I made the
tour of Little Britain, and turned into Bartholomew Close; and now
I became aware that other people were waiting about for Mr. Jaggers,
as well as I. There were two men of secret appearance lounging in
Bartholomew Close, and thoughtfully fitting their feet into the
cracks of the pavement as they talked together, one of whom said to
the other when they first passed me, that "Jaggers would do it if
it was to be done." There was a knot of three men and two women
standing at a corner, and one of the women was crying on her dirty
shawl, and the other comforted her by saying, as she pulled her own
shawl over her shoulders, "Jaggers is for him, 'Melia, and what
more could you have?" There was a red-eyed little Jew who came into
the Close while I was loitering there, in company with a second little Jew whom he sent upon an errand; and while the messenger was
gone, I remarked this Jew, who was of a highly excitable
temperament, performing a jig of anxiety under a lamp-post and
accompanying himself, in a kind of frenzy, with the words, "O
Jaggerth, Jaggerth, Jaggerth! all otherth ith Cag-Maggerth, give me
Jaggerth!" These testimonies to the popularity of my guardian made
a deep impression on me, and I admired and wondered more than ever.
At length, as I was looking out at the iron gate of Bartholomew
Close into Little Britain, I saw Mr. Jaggers coming across the road
towards me. All the others who were waiting saw him at the same
time, and there was quite a rush at him. Mr. Jaggers, putting a hand
on my shoulder and walking me on at his side without saying
anything to me, addressed himself to his followers.
First, he took the two secret men.
"Now, I have nothing to say to you," said Mr. Jaggers, throwing his
finger at them. "I want to know no more than I know. As to the
result, it's a toss-up. I told you from the first it was a toss-up.
Have you paid Wemmick?"
"We made the money up this morning, sir," said one of the men,
submissively, while the other perused Mr. Jaggers's face. "I don't ask you when you made it up, or where, or whether you made
it up at all. Has Wemmick got it?"
"Yes, sir," said both the men together.
"Very well; then you may go. Now, I won't have it!" said Mr
Jaggers, waving his hand at them to put them behind him. "If you
say a word to me, I'll throw up the case."
"We thought, Mr. Jaggers--" one of the men began, pulling off his
"That's what I told you not to do," said Mr. Jaggers. "You thought!
I think for you; that's enough for you. If I want you, I know where
to find you; I don't want you to find me. Now I won't have it. I
won't hear a word."
The two men looked at one another as Mr. Jaggers waved them behind
again, and humbly fell back and were heard no more.
"And now you!" said Mr. Jaggers, suddenly stopping, and turning on
the two women with the shawls, from whom the three men had meekly
separated,--"Oh! Amelia, is it?"
"Yes, Mr. Jaggers." "And do you remember," retorted Mr. Jaggers, "that but for me you
wouldn't be here and couldn't be here?"
"O yes, sir!" exclaimed both women together. "Lord bless you, sir,
well we knows that!"
"Then why," said Mr. Jaggers, "do you come here?"
"My Bill, sir!" the crying woman pleaded.
"Now, I tell you what!" said Mr. Jaggers. "Once for all. If you
don't know that your Bill's in good hands, I know it. And if you
come here bothering about your Bill, I'll make an example of both
your Bill and you, and let him slip through my fingers. Have you
"O yes, sir! Every farden."
"Very well. Then you have done all you have got to do. Say another
word--one single word--and Wemmick shall give you your money
This terrible threat caused the two women to fall off immediately.
No one remained now but the excitable Jew, who had already raised the skirts of Mr. Jaggers's coat to his lips several times.
"I don't know this man!" said Mr. Jaggers, in the same devastating
strain: "What does this fellow want?"
"Ma thear Mithter Jaggerth. Hown brother to Habraham Latharuth?"
"Who's he?" said Mr. Jaggers. "Let go of my coat."
The suitor, kissing the hem of the garment again before
relinquishing it, replied, "Habraham Latharuth, on thuthpithion of
"You're too late," said Mr. Jaggers. "I am over the way."
"Holy father, Mithter Jaggerth!" cried my excitable acquaintance,
turning white, "don't thay you're again Habraham Latharuth!"
"I am," said Mr. Jaggers, "and there's an end of it. Get out of the
"Mithter Jaggerth! Half a moment! My hown cuthen'th gone to Mithter
Wemmick at thith prethent minute, to hoffer him hany termth.
Mithter Jaggerth! Half a quarter of a moment! If you'd have the
condethenthun to be bought off from the t'other thide--at hany thuperior prithe!--money no object!--Mithter Jaggerth--Mithter -
My guardian threw his supplicant off with supreme indifference, and
left him dancing on the pavement as if it were red hot. Without
further interruption, we reached the front office, where we found
the clerk and the man in velveteen with the fur cap.
"Here's Mike," said the clerk, getting down from his stool, and
approaching Mr. Jaggers confidentially.
"Oh!" said Mr. Jaggers, turning to the man, who was pulling a lock
of hair in the middle of his forehead, like the Bull in Cock Robin
pulling at the bell-rope; "your man comes on this afternoon. Well?"
"Well, Mas'r Jaggers," returned Mike, in the voice of a sufferer
from a constitutional cold; "arter a deal o' trouble, I've found
one, sir, as might do."
"What is he prepared to swear?"
"Well, Mas'r Jaggers," said Mike, wiping his nose on his fur cap
this time; "in a general way, anythink."
Mr. Jaggers suddenly became most irate. "Now, I warned you before," said he, throwing his forefinger at the terrified client, "that if
you ever presumed to talk in that way here, I'd make an example of
you. You infernal scoundrel, how dare you tell ME that?"
The client looked scared, but bewildered too, as if he were
unconscious what he had done.
"Spooney!" said the clerk, in a low voice, giving him a stir with
his elbow. "Soft Head! Need you say it face to face?"
"Now, I ask you, you blundering booby," said my guardian, very
sternly, "once more and for the last time, what the man you have
brought here is prepared to swear?"
Mike looked hard at my guardian, as if he were trying to learn a
lesson from his face, and slowly replied, "Ayther to character, or
to having been in his company and never left him all the night in
"Now, be careful. In what station of life is this man?"
Mike looked at his cap, and looked at the floor, and looked at the
ceiling, and looked at the clerk, and even looked at me, before
beginning to reply in a nervous manner, "We've dressed him up
like--" when my guardian blustered out,-- "What? You WILL, will you?"
("Spooney!" added the clerk again, with another stir.)
After some helpless casting about, Mike brightened and began again:--
"He is dressed like a 'spectable pieman. A sort of a pastry-cook."
"Is he here?" asked my guardian.
"I left him," said Mike, "a setting on some doorsteps round the
"Take him past that window, and let me see him."
The window indicated was the office window. We all three went to
it, behind the wire blind, and presently saw the client go by in an
accidental manner, with a murderous-looking tall individual, in a
short suit of white linen and a paper cap. This guileless
confectioner was not by any means sober, and had a black eye in the
green stage of recovery, which was painted over.
"Tell him to take his witness away directly," said my guardian to
the clerk, in extreme disgust, "and ask him what he means by bringing such a fellow as that."
My guardian then took me into his own room, and while he lunched,
standing, from a sandwich-box and a pocket-flask of sherry (he
seemed to bully his very sandwich as he ate it), informed me what
arrangements he had made for me. I was to go to "Barnard's Inn," to
young Mr. Pocket's rooms, where a bed had been sent in for my
accommodation; I was to remain with young Mr. Pocket until Monday;
on Monday I was to go with him to his father's house on a visit,
that I might try how I liked it. Also, I was told what my allowance
was to be,--it was a very liberal one,--and had handed to me from
one of my guardian's drawers, the cards of certain tradesmen with
whom I was to deal for all kinds of clothes, and such other things
as I could in reason want. "You will find your credit good, Mr.
Pip," said my guardian, whose flask of sherry smelt like a whole
caskful, as he hastily refreshed himself, "but I shall by this
means be able to check your bills, and to pull you up if I find you
outrunning the constable. Of course you'll go wrong somehow, but
that's no fault of mine."
After I had pondered a little over this encouraging sentiment, I
asked Mr. Jaggers if I could send for a coach? He said it was not
worth while, I was so near my destination; Wemmick should walk
round with me, if I pleased. I then found that Wemmick was the clerk in the next room. Another
clerk was rung down from up stairs to take his place while he was
out, and I accompanied him into the street, after shaking hands
with my guardian. We found a new set of people lingering outside,
but Wemmick made a way among them by saying coolly yet decisively,
"I tell you it's no use; he won't have a word to say to one of
you;" and we soon got clear of them, and went on side by side.
Casting my eyes on Mr. Wemmick as we went along, to see what he was
like in the light of day, I found him to be a dry man, rather short
in stature, with a square wooden face, whose expression seemed to
have been imperfectly chipped out with a dull-edged chisel. There
were some marks in it that might have been dimples, if the material
had been softer and the instrument finer, but which, as it was,
were only dints. The chisel had made three or four of these
attempts at embellishment over his nose, but had given them up
without an effort to smooth them off. I judged him to be a bachelor
from the frayed condition of his linen, and he appeared to have
sustained a good many bereavements; for he wore at least four
mourning rings, besides a brooch representing a lady and a weeping
willow at a tomb with an urn on it. I noticed, too, that several
rings and seals hung at his watch-chain, as if he were quite laden with remembrances of departed friends. He had glittering eyes,--
small, keen, and black,--and thin wide mottled lips. He had had
them, to the best of my belief, from forty to fifty years.
"So you were never in London before?" said Mr. Wemmick to me.
"No," said I.
"I was new here once," said Mr. Wemmick. "Rum to think of now!"
"You are well acquainted with it now?"
"Why, yes," said Mr. Wemmick. "I know the moves of it."
"Is it a very wicked place?" I asked, more for the sake of saying
something than for information.
"You may get cheated, robbed, and murdered in London. But there
are plenty of people anywhere, who'll do that for you."
"If there is bad blood between you and them," said I, to soften it
off a little.
"O! I don't know about bad blood," returned Mr. Wemmick; "there's
not much bad blood about. They'll do it, if there's anything to be got by it."
"That makes it worse."
"You think so?" returned Mr. Wemmick. "Much about the same, I should
He wore his hat on the back of his head, and looked straight before
him: walking in a self-contained way as if there were nothing in
the streets to claim his attention. His mouth was such a post-office
of a mouth that he had a mechanical appearance of smiling. We had
got to the top of Holborn Hill before I knew that it was merely a
mechanical appearance, and that he was not smiling at all.
"Do you know where Mr. Matthew Pocket lives?" I asked Mr. Wemmick.
"Yes," said he, nodding in the direction. "At Hammersmith, west of
"Is that far?"
"Well! Say five miles."
"Do you know him?" "Why, you're a regular cross-examiner!" said Mr. Wemmick, looking at
me with an approving air. "Yes, I know him. I know him!"
There was an air of toleration or depreciation about his utterance
of these words that rather depressed me; and I was still looking
sideways at his block of a face in search of any encouraging note
to the text, when he said here we were at Barnard's Inn. My
depression was not alleviated by the announcement, for, I had
supposed that establishment to be an hotel kept by Mr. Barnard, to
which the Blue Boar in our town was a mere public-house. Whereas I
now found Barnard to be a disembodied spirit, or a fiction, and his
inn the dingiest collection of shabby buildings ever squeezed
together in a rank corner as a club for Tom-cats.
We entered this haven through a wicket-gate, and were disgorged by
an introductory passage into a melancholy little square that looked
to me like a flat burying-ground. I thought it had the most dismal
trees in it, and the most dismal sparrows, and the most dismal
cats, and the most dismal houses (in number half a dozen or so),
that I had ever seen. I thought the windows of the sets of chambers
into which those houses were divided were in every stage of
dilapidated blind and curtain, crippled flower-pot, cracked glass,
dusty decay, and miserable makeshift; while To Let, To Let, To Let,
glared at me from empty rooms, as if no new wretches ever came
there, and the vengeance of the soul of Barnard were being slowly appeased by the gradual suicide of the present occupants and their
unholy interment under the gravel. A frowzy mourning of soot and
smoke attired this forlorn creation of Barnard, and it had strewn
ashes on its head, and was undergoing penance and humiliation as a
mere dust-hole. Thus far my sense of sight; while dry rot and wet
rot and all the silent rots that rot in neglected roof and cellar,--
rot of rat and mouse and bug and coaching-stables near at hand
besides--addressed themselves faintly to my sense of smell, and
moaned, "Try Barnard's Mixture."
So imperfect was this realization of the first of my great
expectations, that I looked in dismay at Mr. Wemmick. "Ah!" said he,
mistaking me; "the retirement reminds you of the country. So it
He led me into a corner and conducted me up a flight of stairs,--
which appeared to me to be slowly collapsing into sawdust, so that
one of those days the upper lodgers would look out at their doors
and find themselves without the means of coming down,--to a set of
chambers on the top floor. MR. POCKET, JUN., was painted on the
door, and there was a label on the letter-box, "Return shortly."
"He hardly thought you'd come so soon," Mr. Wemmick explained. "You
don't want me any more?" "No, thank you," said I.
"As I keep the cash," Mr. Wemmick observed, "we shall most likely
meet pretty often. Good day."
I put out my hand, and Mr. Wemmick at first looked at it as if he
thought I wanted something. Then he looked at me, and said,
"To be sure! Yes. You're in the habit of shaking hands?"
I was rather confused, thinking it must be out of the London
fashion, but said yes.
"I have got so out of it!" said Mr. Wemmick,--"except at last. Very
glad, I'm sure, to make your acquaintance. Good day!"
When we had shaken hands and he was gone, I opened the staircase
window and had nearly beheaded myself, for, the lines had rotted
away, and it came down like the guillotine. Happily it was so quick
that I had not put my head out. After this escape, I was content to
take a foggy view of the Inn through the window's encrusting dirt,
and to stand dolefully looking out, saying to myself that London was decidedly overrated.
Mr. Pocket, Junior's, idea of Shortly was not mine, for I had nearly
maddened myself with looking out for half an hour, and had written
my name with my finger several times in the dirt of every pane in
the window, before I heard footsteps on the stairs. Gradually there
arose before me the hat, head, neckcloth, waistcoat, trousers,
boots, of a member of society of about my own standing. He had a
paper-bag under each arm and a pottle of strawberries in one hand,
and was out of breath.
"Mr. Pip?" said he.
"Mr. Pocket?" said I.
"Dear me!" he exclaimed. "I am extremely sorry; but I knew there
was a coach from your part of the country at midday, and I thought
you would come by that one. The fact is, I have been out on your
account,--not that that is any excuse,--for I thought, coming from
the country, you might like a little fruit after dinner, and I went
to Covent Garden Market to get it good."
For a reason that I had, I felt as if my eyes would start out of my
head. I acknowledged his attention incoherently, and began to think
this was a dream. "Dear me!" said Mr. Pocket, Junior. "This door sticks so!"
As he was fast making jam of his fruit by wrestling with the door
while the paper-bags were under his arms, I begged him to allow me
to hold them. He relinquished them with an agreeable smile, and
combated with the door as if it were a wild beast. It yielded so
suddenly at last, that he staggered back upon me, and I staggered
back upon the opposite door, and we both laughed. But still I felt
as if my eyes must start out of my head, and as if this must be a
"Pray come in," said Mr. Pocket, Junior. "Allow me to lead the way.
I am rather bare here, but I hope you'll be able to make out
tolerably well till Monday. My father thought you would get on more
agreeably through to-morrow with me than with him, and might like
to take a walk about London. I am sure I shall be very happy to
show London to you. As to our table, you won't find that bad, I
hope, for it will be supplied from our coffee-house here, and (it
is only right I should add) at your expense, such being Mr.
Jaggers's directions. As to our lodging, it's not by any means
splendid, because I have my own bread to earn, and my father hasn't
anything to give me, and I shouldn't be willing to take it, if he
had. This is our sitting-room,--just such chairs and tables and
carpet and so forth, you see, as they could spare from home. You mustn't give me credit for the tablecloth and spoons and castors,
because they come for you from the coffee-house. This is my little
bedroom; rather musty, but Barnard's is musty. This is your
bedroom; the furniture's hired for the occasion, but I trust it
will answer the purpose; if you should want anything, I'll go and
fetch it. The chambers are retired, and we shall be alone together,
but we shan't fight, I dare say. But dear me, I beg your pardon,
you're holding the fruit all this time. Pray let me take these bags
from you. I am quite ashamed."
As I stood opposite to Mr. Pocket, Junior, delivering him the bags,
One, Two, I saw the starting appearance come into his own eyes that
I knew to be in mine, and he said, falling back,--
"Lord bless me, you're the prowling boy!"
"And you," said I, "are the pale young gentleman!"
The pale young gentleman and I stood contemplating one another in
Barnard's Inn, until we both burst out laughing. "The idea of its
being you!" said he. "The idea of its being you!" said I. And then
we contemplated one another afresh, and laughed again. "Well!" said the pale young gentleman, reaching out his hand good-humoredly,
"it's all over now, I hope, and it will be magnanimous in you if
you'll forgive me for having knocked you about so."
I derived from this speech that Mr. Herbert Pocket (for Herbert was
the pale young gentleman's name) still rather confounded his
intention with his execution. But I made a modest reply, and we
shook hands warmly.
"You hadn't come into your good fortune at that time?" said Herbert
"No," said I.
"No," he acquiesced: "I heard it had happened very lately. I was
rather on the lookout for good fortune then."
"Yes. Miss Havisham had sent for me, to see if she could take a
fancy to me. But she couldn't,--at all events, she didn't."
I thought it polite to remark that I was surprised to hear that.
"Bad taste," said Herbert, laughing, "but a fact. Yes, she had sent for me on a trial visit, and if I had come out of it successfully,
I suppose I should have been provided for; perhaps I should have
been what-you-may-called it to Estella."
"What's that?" I asked, with sudden gravity.
He was arranging his fruit in plates while we talked, which divided
his attention, and was the cause of his having made this lapse of a
word. "Affianced," he explained, still busy with the fruit.
"Betrothed. Engaged. What's-his-named. Any word of that sort."
"How did you bear your disappointment?" I asked.
"Pooh!" said he, "I didn't care much for it. She's a Tartar."
"I don't say no to that, but I meant Estella. That girl's hard and
haughty and capricious to the last degree, and has been brought up
by Miss Havisham to wreak revenge on all the male sex."
"What relation is she to Miss Havisham?"
"None," said he. "Only adopted." "Why should she wreak revenge on all the male sex? What revenge?"
"Lord, Mr. Pip!" said he. "Don't you know?"
"No," said I.
"Dear me! It's quite a story, and shall be saved till dinner-time.
And now let me take the liberty of asking you a question. How did
you come there, that day?"
I told him, and he was attentive until I had finished, and then
burst out laughing again, and asked me if I was sore afterwards? I
didn't ask him if he was, for my conviction on that point was
"Mr. Jaggers is your guardian, I understand?" he went on.
"You know he is Miss Havisham's man of business and solicitor, and
has her confidence when nobody else has?"
This was bringing me (I felt) towards dangerous ground. I answered
with a constraint I made no attempt to disguise, that I had seen Mr.
Jaggers in Miss Havisham's house on the very day of our combat, but never at any other time, and that I believed he had no recollection
of having ever seen me there.
"He was so obliging as to suggest my father for your tutor, and he
called on my father to propose it. Of course he knew about my
father from his connection with Miss Havisham. My father is Miss
Havisham's cousin; not that that implies familiar intercourse
between them, for he is a bad courtier and will not propitiate
Herbert Pocket had a frank and easy way with him that was very
taking. I had never seen any one then, and I have never seen any
one since, who more strongly expressed to me, in every look and
tone, a natural incapacity to do anything secret and mean. There
was something wonderfully hopeful about his general air, and
something that at the same time whispered to me he would never be
very successful or rich. I don't know how this was. I became imbued
with the notion on that first occasion before we sat down to
dinner, but I cannot define by what means.
He was still a pale young gentleman, and had a certain conquered
languor about him in the midst of his spirits and briskness, that
did not seem indicative of natural strength. He had not a handsome
face, but it was better than handsome: being extremely amiable and
cheerful. His figure was a little ungainly, as in the days when my knuckles had taken such liberties with it, but it looked as if it
would always be light and young. Whether Mr. Trabb's local work
would have sat more gracefully on him than on me, may be a
question; but I am conscious that he carried off his rather old
clothes much better than I carried off my new suit.
As he was so communicative, I felt that reserve on my part would be
a bad return unsuited to our years. I therefore told him my small
story, and laid stress on my being forbidden to inquire who my
benefactor was. I further mentioned that as I had been brought up a
blacksmith in a country place, and knew very little of the ways of
politeness, I would take it as a great kindness in him if he would
give me a hint whenever he saw me at a loss or going wrong.
"With pleasure," said he, "though I venture to prophesy that you'll
want very few hints. I dare say we shall be often together, and I
should like to banish any needless restraint between us. Will you
do me the favour to begin at once to call me by my Christian name,
I thanked him and said I would. I informed him in exchange that my
Christian name was Philip.
"I don't take to Philip," said he, smiling, "for it sounds like a
moral boy out of the spelling-book, who was so lazy that he fell into a pond, or so fat that he couldn't see out of his eyes, or so
avaricious that he locked up his cake till the mice ate it, or so
determined to go a bird's-nesting that he got himself eaten by
bears who lived handy in the neighborhood. I tell you what I
should like. We are so harmonious, and you have been a blacksmith,---
would you mind it?"
"I shouldn't mind anything that you propose," I answered, "but I
don't understand you."
"Would you mind Handel for a familiar name? There's a charming
piece of music by Handel, called the Harmonious Blacksmith."
"I should like it very much."
"Then, my dear Handel," said he, turning round as the door opened,
"here is the dinner, and I must beg of you to take the top of the
table, because the dinner is of your providing."
This I would not hear of, so he took the top, and I faced him. It
was a nice little dinner,--seemed to me then a very Lord Mayor's
Feast,--and it acquired additional relish from being eaten under
those independent circumstances, with no old people by, and with
London all around us. This again was heightened by a certain gypsy
character that set the banquet off; for while the table was, as Mr. Pumblechook might have said, the lap of luxury,--being entirely
furnished forth from the coffee-house,--the circumjacent region of
sitting-room was of a comparatively pastureless and shifty
character; imposing on the waiter the wandering habits of putting
the covers on the floor (where he fell over them), the melted
butter in the arm-chair, the bread on the bookshelves, the cheese in
the coal-scuttle, and the boiled fowl into my bed in the next room,--
where I found much of its parsley and butter in a state of
congelation when I retired for the night. All this made the feast
delightful, and when the waiter was not there to watch me, my
pleasure was without alloy.
We had made some progress in the dinner, when I reminded Herbert of
his promise to tell me about Miss Havisham.
"True," he replied. "I'll redeem it at once. Let me introduce the
topic, Handel, by mentioning that in London it is not the custom to
put the knife in the mouth,--for fear of accidents,--and that while
the fork is reserved for that use, it is not put further in than
necessary. It is scarcely worth mentioning, only it's as well to do
as other people do. Also, the spoon is not generally used
over-hand, but under. This has two advantages. You get at your
mouth better (which after all is the object), and you save a good
deal of the attitude of opening oysters, on the part of the right
elbow." He offered these friendly suggestions in such a lively way, that we
both laughed and I scarcely blushed.
"Now," he pursued, "concerning Miss Havisham. Miss Havisham, you
must know, was a spoilt child. Her mother died when she was a baby,
and her father denied her nothing. Her father was a country
gentleman down in your part of the world, and was a brewer. I don't
know why it should be a crack thing to be a brewer; but it is
indisputable that while you cannot possibly be genteel and bake,
you may be as genteel as never was and brew. You see it every day."
"Yet a gentleman may not keep a public-house; may he?" said I.
"Not on any account," returned Herbert; "but a public-house may
keep a gentleman. Well! Mr. Havisham was very rich and very proud.
So was his daughter."
"Miss Havisham was an only child?" I hazarded.
"Stop a moment, I am coming to that. No, she was not an only child;
she had a half-brother. Her father privately married again--his
cook, I rather think."
"I thought he was proud," said I. "My good Handel, so he was. He married his second wife privately,
because he was proud, and in course of time she died. When she was
dead, I apprehend he first told his daughter what he had done, and
then the son became a part of the family, residing in the house you
are acquainted with. As the son grew a young man, he turned out
riotous, extravagant, undutiful,--altogether bad. At last his
father disinherited him; but he softened when he was dying, and
left him well off, though not nearly so well off as Miss Havisham.
--Take another glass of wine, and excuse my mentioning that society
as a body does not expect one to be so strictly conscientious in
emptying one's glass, as to turn it bottom upwards with the rim on
I had been doing this, in an excess of attention to his recital. I
thanked him, and apologized. He said, "Not at all," and resumed.
"Miss Havisham was now an heiress, and you may suppose was looked
after as a great match. Her half-brother had now ample means again,
but what with debts and what with new madness wasted them most
fearfully again. There were stronger differences between him and
her than there had been between him and his father, and it is
suspected that he cherished a deep and mortal grudge against her
as having influenced the father's anger. Now, I come to the cruel
part of the story,--merely breaking off, my dear Handel, to remark that a dinner-napkin will not go into a tumbler."
Why I was trying to pack mine into my tumbler, I am wholly unable