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Great Expectations by Charles Dickens

 

July, 1998 [Etext #1400]

 

Project Gutenberg Etext of Great Expectations, by Charles Dickens

 

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GREAT EXPECTATIONS [1867 Edition]

 

by Charles Dickens

 

Chapter I

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Pip.

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

like were unreasonably derived from their tombstones. The shape of

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

trying to get a living, exceedingly early in that universal

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

of existence.

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

I found out for certain that this bleak place overgrown with

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

all and beginning to cry, was Pip.

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

by the chin.

 

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

 

it, sir."

 

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

 

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

 

"Pip. Pip, sir."

 

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

 

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

 

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