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Great Expectations

Part 7 out of 11

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a wager) opened the door, and showed me into the best parlor.
Here, Mr. Trabb had taken unto himself the best table, and had got
all the leaves up, and was holding a kind of black Bazaar, with the
aid of a quantity of black pins. At the moment of my arrival, he
had just finished putting somebody's hat into black long-clothes,
like an African baby; so he held out his hand for mine. But I,
misled by the action, and confused by the occasion, shook hands
with him with every testimony of warm affection.

Poor dear Joe, entangled in a little black cloak tied in a large
bow under his chin, was seated apart at the upper end of the room;
where, as chief mourner, he had evidently been stationed by Trabb.
When I bent down and said to him, "Dear Joe, how are you?" he said,
"Pip, old chap, you knowed her when she were a fine figure of a--"
and clasped my hand and said no more.

Biddy, looking very neat and modest in her black dress, went
quietly here and there, and was very helpful. When I had spoken to
Biddy, as I thought it not a time for talking I went and sat down
near Joe, and there began to wonder in what part of the house it--
she--my sister--was. The air of the parlor being faint with the
smell of sweet-cake, I looked about for the table of refreshments;
it was scarcely visible until one had got accustomed to the gloom,
but there was a cut-up plum cake upon it, and there were cut-up
oranges, and sandwiches, and biscuits, and two decanters that I
knew very well as ornaments, but had never seen used in all my
life; one full of port, and one of sherry. Standing at this table,
I became conscious of the servile Pumblechook in a black cloak and
several yards of hatband, who was alternately stuffing himself, and
making obsequious movements to catch my attention. The moment he
succeeded, he came over to me (breathing sherry and crumbs), and
said in a subdued voice, "May I, dear sir?" and did. I then
descried Mr. and Mrs. Hubble; the last-named in a decent speechless
paroxysm in a corner. We were all going to "follow," and were all
in course of being tied up separately (by Trabb) into ridiculous
bundles.

"Which I meantersay, Pip," Joe whispered me, as we were being what
Mr. Trabb called "formed" in the parlor, two and two,--and it was
dreadfully like a preparation for some grim kind of dance; "which I
meantersay, sir, as I would in preference have carried her to the
church myself, along with three or four friendly ones wot come to
it with willing harts and arms, but it were considered wot the
neighbors would look down on such and would be of opinions as it
were wanting in respect."

"Pocket-handkerchiefs out, all!" cried Mr. Trabb at this point, in a
depressed business-like voice. "Pocket-handkerchiefs out! We are
ready!"

So we all put our pocket-handkerchiefs to our faces, as if our
noses were bleeding, and filed out two and two; Joe and I; Biddy
and Pumblechook; Mr. and Mrs. Hubble. The remains of my poor sister
had been brought round by the kitchen door, and, it being a point
of Undertaking ceremony that the six bearers must be stifled and
blinded under a horrible black velvet housing with a white border,
the whole looked like a blind monster with twelve human legs,
shuffling and blundering along, under the guidance of two keepers,--
the postboy and his comrade.

The neighborhood, however, highly approved of these arrangements,
and we were much admired as we went through the village; the more
youthful and vigorous part of the community making dashes now and
then to cut us off, and lying in wait to intercept us at points of
vantage. At such times the more exuberant among them called out in
an excited manner on our emergence round some corner of expectancy,
"Here they come!" "Here they are!" and we were all but cheered. In
this progress I was much annoyed by the abject Pumblechook, who,
being behind me, persisted all the way as a delicate attention in
arranging my streaming hatband, and smoothing my cloak. My thoughts
were further distracted by the excessive pride of Mr. and Mrs.
Hubble, who were surpassingly conceited and vainglorious in being
members of so distinguished a procession.

And now the range of marshes lay clear before us, with the sails
of the ships on the river growing out of it; and we went into the
churchyard, close to the graves of my unknown parents, Philip
Pirrip, late of this parish, and Also Georgiana, Wife of the Above.
And there, my sister was laid quietly in the earth, while the larks
sang high above it, and the light wind strewed it with beautiful
shadows of clouds and trees.

Of the conduct of the worldly minded Pumblechook while this was
doing, I desire to say no more than it was all addressed to me; and
that even when those noble passages were read which remind humanity
how it brought nothing into the world and can take nothing out, and
how it fleeth like a shadow and never continueth long in one stay,
I heard him cough a reservation of the case of a young gentleman
who came unexpectedly into large property. When we got back, he had
the hardihood to tell me that he wished my sister could have known
I had done her so much honor, and to hint that she would have
considered it reasonably purchased at the price of her death. After
that, he drank all the rest of the sherry, and Mr. Hubble drank the
port, and the two talked (which I have since observed to be
customary in such cases) as if they were of quite another race from
the deceased, and were notoriously immortal. Finally, he went away
with Mr. and Mrs. Hubble,--to make an evening of it, I felt sure, and
to tell the Jolly Bargemen that he was the founder of my fortunes
and my earliest benefactor.

When they were all gone, and when Trabb and his men--but not his
Boy; I looked for him--had crammed their mummery into bags, and
were gone too, the house felt wholesomer. Soon afterwards, Biddy,
Joe, and I, had a cold dinner together; but we dined in the best
parlor, not in the old kitchen, and Joe was so exceedingly
particular what he did with his knife and fork and the saltcellar
and what not, that there was great restraint upon us. But after
dinner, when I made him take his pipe, and when I had loitered with
him about the forge, and when we sat down together on the great
block of stone outside it, we got on better. I noticed that after
the funeral Joe changed his clothes so far, as to make a compromise
between his Sunday dress and working dress; in which the dear
fellow looked natural, and like the Man he was.

He was very much pleased by my asking if I might sleep in my own
little room, and I was pleased too; for I felt that I had done
rather a great thing in making the request. When the shadows of
evening were closing in, I took an opportunity of getting into the
garden with Biddy for a little talk.

"Biddy," said I, "I think you might have written to me about these
sad matters."

"Do you, Mr. Pip?" said Biddy. "I should have written if I had
thought that."

"Don't suppose that I mean to be unkind, Biddy, when I say I
consider that you ought to have thought that."

"Do you, Mr. Pip?"

She was so quiet, and had such an orderly, good, and pretty way
with her, that I did not like the thought of making her cry again.
After looking a little at her downcast eyes as she walked beside
me, I gave up that point.

"I suppose it will be difficult for you to remain here now, Biddy
dear?"

"Oh! I can't do so, Mr. Pip," said Biddy, in a tone of regret but
still of quiet conviction. "I have been speaking to Mrs. Hubble, and
I am going to her to-morrow. I hope we shall be able to take some
care of Mr. Gargery, together, until he settles down."

"How are you going to live, Biddy? If you want any mo--"

"How am I going to live?" repeated Biddy, striking in, with a
momentary flush upon her face. "I'll tell you, Mr. Pip. I am going
to try to get the place of mistress in the new school nearly
finished here. I can be well recommended by all the neighbors, and
I hope I can be industrious and patient, and teach myself while I
teach others. You know, Mr. Pip," pursued Biddy, with a smile, as
she raised her eyes to my face, "the new schools are not like the
old, but I learnt a good deal from you after that time, and have
had time since then to improve."

"I think you would always improve, Biddy, under any circumstances."

"Ah! Except in my bad side of human nature," murmured Biddy.

It was not so much a reproach as an irresistible thinking aloud.
Well! I thought I would give up that point too. So, I walked a
little further with Biddy, looking silently at her downcast eyes.

"I have not heard the particulars of my sister's death, Biddy."

"They are very slight, poor thing. She had been in one of her bad
states--though they had got better of late, rather than worse--
for four days, when she came out of it in the evening, just at
tea-time, and said quite plainly, 'Joe.' As she had never said any
word for a long while, I ran and fetched in Mr. Gargery from the
forge. She made signs to me that she wanted him to sit down close
to her, and wanted me to put her arms round his neck. So I put them
round his neck, and she laid her head down on his shoulder quite
content and satisfied. And so she presently said 'Joe' again, and
once 'Pardon,' and once 'Pip.' And so she never lifted her head up
any more, and it was just an hour later when we laid it down on her
own bed, because we found she was gone."

Biddy cried; the darkening garden, and the lane, and the stars that
were coming out, were blurred in my own sight.

"Nothing was ever discovered, Biddy?"

"Nothing."

"Do you know what is become of Orlick?"

"I should think from the color of his clothes that he is working
in the quarries."

"Of course you have seen him then?--Why are you looking at that
dark tree in the lane?"

"I saw him there, on the night she died."

"That was not the last time either, Biddy?"

"No; I have seen him there, since we have been walking here.--It
is of no use," said Biddy, laying her hand upon my arm, as I was
for running out, "you know I would not deceive you; he was not
there a minute, and he is gone."

It revived my utmost indignation to find that she was still pursued
by this fellow, and I felt inveterate against him. I told her so,
and told her that I would spend any money or take any pains to
drive him out of that country. By degrees she led me into more
temperate talk, and she told me how Joe loved me, and how Joe never
complained of anything,--she didn't say, of me; she had no need; I
knew what she meant,--but ever did his duty in his way of life,
with a strong hand, a quiet tongue, and a gentle heart.

"Indeed, it would be hard to say too much for him," said I; "and
Biddy, we must often speak of these things, for of course I shall
be often down here now. I am not going to leave poor Joe alone."

Biddy said never a single word.

"Biddy, don't you hear me?"

"Yes, Mr. Pip."

"Not to mention your calling me Mr. Pip,--which appears to me to be
in bad taste, Biddy,--what do you mean?"

"What do I mean?" asked Biddy, timidly.

"Biddy," said I, in a virtuously self-asserting manner, "I must
request to know what you mean by this?"

"By this?" said Biddy.

"Now, don't echo," I retorted. "You used not to echo, Biddy."

"Used not!" said Biddy. "O Mr. Pip! Used!"

Well! I rather thought I would give up that point too. After
another silent turn in the garden, I fell back on the main
position.

"Biddy," said I, "I made a remark respecting my coming down here
often, to see Joe, which you received with a marked silence. Have
the goodness, Biddy, to tell me why."

"Are you quite sure, then, that you WILL come to see him often?"
asked Biddy, stopping in the narrow garden walk, and looking at me
under the stars with a clear and honest eye.

"O dear me!" said I, as if I found myself compelled to give up
Biddy in despair. "This really is a very bad side of human
nature! Don't say any more, if you please, Biddy. This shocks me
very much."

For which cogent reason I kept Biddy at a distance during supper,
and when I went up to my own old little room, took as stately a
leave of her as I could, in my murmuring soul, deem reconcilable
with the churchyard and the event of the day. As often as I was
restless in the night, and that was every quarter of an hour, I
reflected what an unkindness, what an injury, what an injustice,
Biddy had done me.

Early in the morning I was to go. Early in the morning I was out,
and looking in, unseen, at one of the wooden windows of the forge.
There I stood, for minutes, looking at Joe, already at work with a
glow of health and strength upon his face that made it show as if
the bright sun of the life in store for him were shining on it.

"Good by, dear Joe!--No, don't wipe it off--for God's sake, give
me your blackened hand!--I shall be down soon and often."

"Never too soon, sir," said Joe, "and never too often, Pip!"

Biddy was waiting for me at the kitchen door, with a mug of new
milk and a crust of bread. "Biddy," said I, when I gave her my hand
at parting, "I am not angry, but I am hurt."

"No, don't be hurt," she pleaded quite pathetically; "let only me
be hurt, if I have been ungenerous."

Once more, the mists were rising as I walked away. If they
disclosed to me, as I suspect they did, that I should not come
back, and that Biddy was quite right, all I can say is,--they were
quite right too.

Chapter XXXVI

Herbert and I went on from bad to worse, in the way of increasing
our debts, looking into our affairs, leaving Margins, and the like
exemplary transactions; and Time went on, whether or no, as he has
a way of doing; and I came of age,--in fulfilment of Herbert's
prediction, that I should do so before I knew where I was.

Herbert himself had come of age eight months before me. As he had
nothing else than his majority to come into, the event did not make
a profound sensation in Barnard's Inn. But we had looked forward to
my one-and-twentieth birthday, with a crowd of speculations and
anticipations, for we had both considered that my guardian could
hardly help saying something definite on that occasion.

I had taken care to have it well understood in Little Britain when
my birthday was. On the day before it, I received an official note
from Wemmick, informing me that Mr. Jaggers would be glad if I would
call upon him at five in the afternoon of the auspicious day. This
convinced us that something great was to happen, and threw me into
an unusual flutter when I repaired to my guardian's office, a model
of punctuality.

In the outer office Wemmick offered me his congratulations, and
incidentally rubbed the side of his nose with a folded piece of
tissue-paper that I liked the look of. But he said nothing
respecting it, and motioned me with a nod into my guardian's room.
It was November, and my guardian was standing before his fire
leaning his back against the chimney-piece, with his hands under
his coattails.

"Well, Pip," said he, "I must call you Mr. Pip to-day.
Congratulations, Mr. Pip."

We shook hands,--he was always a remarkably short shaker,--and I
thanked him.

"Take a chair, Mr. Pip," said my guardian.

As I sat down, and he preserved his attitude and bent his brows at
his boots, I felt at a disadvantage, which reminded me of that old
time when I had been put upon a tombstone. The two ghastly casts on
the shelf were not far from him, and their expression was as if
they were making a stupid apoplectic attempt to attend to the
conversation.

"Now my young friend," my guardian began, as if I were a witness in
the box, "I am going to have a word or two with you."

"If you please, sir."

"What do you suppose," said Mr. Jaggers, bending forward to look at
the ground, and then throwing his head back to look at the ceiling,--
"what do you suppose you are living at the rate of?"

"At the rate of, sir?"

"At," repeated Mr. Jaggers, still looking at the ceiling, "the--
rate--of?" And then looked all round the room, and paused with his
pocket-handkerchief in his hand, half-way to his nose.

I had looked into my affairs so often, that I had thoroughly
destroyed any slight notion I might ever have had of their
bearings. Reluctantly, I confessed myself quite unable to answer
the question. This reply seemed agreeable to Mr. Jaggers, who said,
"I thought so!" and blew his nose with an air of satisfaction.

"Now, I have asked you a question, my friend," said Mr. Jaggers.
"Have you anything to ask me?"

"Of course it would be a great relief to me to ask you several
questions, sir; but I remember your prohibition."

"Ask one," said Mr. Jaggers.

"Is my benefactor to be made known to me to-day?"

"No. Ask another."

"Is that confidence to be imparted to me soon?"

"Waive that, a moment," said Mr. Jaggers, "and ask another."

I looked about me, but there appeared to be now no possible escape
from the inquiry, "Have-I--anything to receive, sir?" On that,
Mr. Jaggers said, triumphantly, "I thought we should come to it!"
and called to Wemmick to give him that piece of paper. Wemmick
appeared, handed it in, and disappeared.

"Now, Mr. Pip," said Mr. Jaggers, "attend, if you please. You have
been drawing pretty freely here; your name occurs pretty often in
Wemmick's cash-book; but you are in debt, of course?"

"I am afraid I must say yes, sir."

"You know you must say yes; don't you?" said Mr. Jaggers.

"Yes, sir."

"I don't ask you what you owe, because you don't know; and if you
did know, you wouldn't tell me; you would say less. Yes, yes, my
friend," cried Mr. Jaggers, waving his forefinger to stop me as I
made a show of protesting: "it's likely enough that you think you
wouldn't, but you would. You'll excuse me, but I know better than
you. Now, take this piece of paper in your hand. You have got it?
Very good. Now, unfold it and tell me what it is."

"This is a bank-note," said I, "for five hundred pounds."

"That is a bank-note," repeated Mr. Jaggers, "for five hundred
pounds. And a very handsome sum of money too, I think. You consider
it so?"

"How could I do otherwise!"

"Ah! But answer the question," said Mr. Jaggers.

"Undoubtedly."

"You consider it, undoubtedly, a handsome sum of money. Now, that
handsome sum of money, Pip, is your own. It is a present to you on
this day, in earnest of your expectations. And at the rate of that
handsome sum of money per annum, and at no higher rate, you are to
live until the donor of the whole appears. That is to say, you will
now take your money affairs entirely into your own hands, and you
will draw from Wemmick one hundred and twenty-five pounds per
quarter, until you are in communication with the fountain-head, and
no longer with the mere agent. As I have told you before, I am the
mere agent. I execute my instructions, and I am paid for doing so.
I think them injudicious, but I am not paid for giving any opinion
on their merits."

I was beginning to express my gratitude to my benefactor for the
great liberality with which I was treated, when Mr. Jaggers stopped
me. "I am not paid, Pip," said he, coolly, "to carry your words to
any one;" and then gathered up his coat-tails, as he had gathered
up the subject, and stood frowning at his boots as if he suspected
them of designs against him.

After a pause, I hinted,--

"There was a question just now, Mr. Jaggers, which you desired me to
waive for a moment. I hope I am doing nothing wrong in asking it
again?"

"What is it?" said he.

I might have known that he would never help me out; but it took me
aback to have to shape the question afresh, as if it were quite
new. "Is it likely," I said, after hesitating, "that my patron, the
fountain-head you have spoken of, Mr. Jaggers, will soon--" there I
delicately stopped.

"Will soon what?" asked Mr. Jaggers. "That's no question as it
stands, you know."

"Will soon come to London," said I, after casting about for a
precise form of words, "or summon me anywhere else?"

"Now, here," replied Mr. Jaggers, fixing me for the first time with
his dark deep-set eyes, "we must revert to the evening when we
first encountered one another in your village. What did I tell you
then, Pip?"

"You told me, Mr. Jaggers, that it might be years hence when that
person appeared."

"Just so," said Mr. Jaggers, "that's my answer."

As we looked full at one another, I felt my breath come quicker in
my strong desire to get something out of him. And as I felt that it
came quicker, and as I felt that he saw that it came quicker, I
felt that I had less chance than ever of getting anything out of
him.

"Do you suppose it will still be years hence, Mr. Jaggers?"

Mr. Jaggers shook his head,--not in negativing the question, but in
altogether negativing the notion that he could anyhow be got to
answer it,--and the two horrible casts of the twitched faces
looked, when my eyes strayed up to them, as if they had come to a
crisis in their suspended attention, and were going to sneeze.

"Come!" said Mr. Jaggers, warming the backs of his legs with the
backs of his warmed hands, "I'll be plain with you, my friend Pip.
That's a question I must not be asked. You'll understand that
better, when I tell you it's a question that might compromise me.
Come! I'll go a little further with you; I'll say something more."

He bent down so low to frown at his boots, that he was able to rub
the calves of his legs in the pause he made.

"When that person discloses," said Mr. Jaggers, straightening
himself, "you and that person will settle your own affairs. When
that person discloses, my part in this business will cease and
determine. When that person discloses, it will not be necessary for
me to know anything about it. And that's all I have got to say."

We looked at one another until I withdrew my eyes, and looked
thoughtfully at the floor. From this last speech I derived the
notion that Miss Havisham, for some reason or no reason, had not
taken him into her confidence as to her designing me for Estella;
that he resented this, and felt a jealousy about it; or that he
really did object to that scheme, and would have nothing to do with
it. When I raised my eyes again, I found that he had been shrewdly
looking at me all the time, and was doing so still.

"If that is all you have to say, sir," I remarked, "there can be
nothing left for me to say."

He nodded assent, and pulled out his thief-dreaded watch, and asked
me where I was going to dine? I replied at my own chambers, with
Herbert. As a necessary sequence, I asked him if he would favor us
with his company, and he promptly accepted the invitation. But he
insisted on walking home with me, in order that I might make no
extra preparation for him, and first he had a letter or two to
write, and (of course) had his hands to wash. So I said I would go
into the outer office and talk to Wemmick.

The fact was, that when the five hundred pounds had come into my
pocket, a thought had come into my head which had been often there
before; and it appeared to me that Wemmick was a good person to
advise with concerning such thought.

He had already locked up his safe, and made preparations for going
home. He had left his desk, brought out his two greasy office
candlesticks and stood them in line with the snuffers on a slab
near the door, ready to be extinguished; he had raked his fire low,
put his hat and great-coat ready, and was beating himself all over
the chest with his safe-key, as an athletic exercise after
business.

"Mr. Wemmick," said I, "I want to ask your opinion. I am very
desirous to serve a friend."

Wemmick tightened his post-office and shook his head, as if his
opinion were dead against any fatal weakness of that sort.

"This friend," I pursued, "is trying to get on in commercial life,
but has no money, and finds it difficult and disheartening to make
a beginning. Now I want somehow to help him to a beginning."

"With money down?" said Wemmick, in a tone drier than any sawdust.

"With some money down," I replied, for an uneasy remembrance shot
across me of that symmetrical bundle of papers at home--"with some
money down, and perhaps some anticipation of my expectations."

"Mr. Pip," said Wemmick, "I should like just to run over with you on
my fingers, if you please, the names of the various bridges up as
high as Chelsea Reach. Let's see; there's London, one; Southwark,
two; Blackfriars, three; Waterloo, four; Westminster, five;
Vauxhall, six." He had checked off each bridge in its turn, with
the handle of his safe-key on the palm of his hand. "There's as
many as six, you see, to choose from."

"I don't understand you," said I.

"Choose your bridge, Mr. Pip," returned Wemmick, "and take a walk
upon your bridge, and pitch your money into the Thames over the
centre arch of your bridge, and you know the end of it. Serve a
friend with it, and you may know the end of it too,--but it's a
less pleasant and profitable end."

I could have posted a newspaper in his mouth, he made it so wide
after saying this.

"This is very discouraging," said I.

"Meant to be so," said Wemmick.

"Then is it your opinion," I inquired, with some little
indignation, "that a man should never--"

"--Invest portable property in a friend?" said Wemmick. "Certainly
he should not. Unless he wants to get rid of the friend,--and then
it becomes a question how much portable property it may be worth to
get rid of him."

"And that," said I, "is your deliberate opinion, Mr. Wemmick?"

"That," he returned, "is my deliberate opinion in this office."

"Ah!" said I, pressing him, for I thought I saw him near a loophole
here; "but would that be your opinion at Walworth?"

"Mr. Pip," he replied, with gravity, "Walworth is one place, and
this office is another. Much as the Aged is one person, and Mr.
Jaggers is another. They must not be confounded together. My
Walworth sentiments must be taken at Walworth; none but my official
sentiments can be taken in this office."

"Very well," said I, much relieved, "then I shall look you up at
Walworth, you may depend upon it."

"Mr. Pip," he returned, "you will be welcome there, in a private and
personal capacity."

We had held this conversation in a low voice, well knowing my
guardian's ears to be the sharpest of the sharp. As he now appeared
in his doorway, towelling his hands, Wemmick got on his great-coat
and stood by to snuff out the candles. We all three went into the
street together, and from the door-step Wemmick turned his way, and
Mr. Jaggers and I turned ours.

I could not help wishing more than once that evening, that Mr.
Jaggers had had an Aged in Gerrard Street, or a Stinger, or a
Something, or a Somebody, to unbend his brows a little. It was an
uncomfortable consideration on a twenty-first birthday, that coming
of age at all seemed hardly worth while in such a guarded and
suspicious world as he made of it. He was a thousand times better
informed and cleverer than Wemmick, and yet I would a thousand
times rather have had Wemmick to dinner. And Mr. Jaggers made not me
alone intensely melancholy, because, after he was gone, Herbert
said of himself, with his eyes fixed on the fire, that he thought
he must have committed a felony and forgotten the details of it, he
felt so dejected and guilty.

Chapter XXXVII

Deeming Sunday the best day for taking Mr. Wemmick's Walworth
sentiments, I devoted the next ensuing Sunday afternoon to a
pilgrimage to the Castle. On arriving before the battlements, I
found the Union Jack flying and the drawbridge up; but undeterred
by this show of defiance and resistance, I rang at the gate, and
was admitted in a most pacific manner by the Aged.

"My son, sir," said the old man, after securing the drawbridge,
"rather had it in his mind that you might happen to drop in, and he
left word that he would soon be home from his afternoon's walk. He
is very regular in his walks, is my son. Very regular in
everything, is my son."

I nodded at the old gentleman as Wemmick himself might have nodded,
and we went in and sat down by the fireside.

"You made acquaintance with my son, sir," said the old man, in his
chirping way, while he warmed his hands at the blaze, "at his
office, I expect?" I nodded. "Hah! I have heerd that my son is a
wonderful hand at his business, sir?" I nodded hard. "Yes; so they
tell me. His business is the Law?" I nodded harder. "Which makes it
more surprising in my son," said the old man, "for he was not
brought up to the Law, but to the Wine-Coopering."

Curious to know how the old gentleman stood informed concerning the
reputation of Mr. Jaggers, I roared that name at him. He threw me
into the greatest confusion by laughing heartily and replying in a
very sprightly manner, "No, to be sure; you're right." And to this
hour I have not the faintest notion what he meant, or what joke he
thought I had made.

As I could not sit there nodding at him perpetually, without making
some other attempt to interest him, I shouted at inquiry whether
his own calling in life had been "the Wine-Coopering." By dint of
straining that term out of myself several times and tapping the old
gentleman on the chest to associate it with him, I at last
succeeded in making my meaning understood.

"No," said the old gentleman; "the warehousing, the warehousing.
First, over yonder;" he appeared to mean up the chimney, but I
believe he intended to refer me to Liverpool; "and then in the City
of London here. However, having an infirmity--for I am hard of
hearing, sir--"

I expressed in pantomime the greatest astonishment.

"--Yes, hard of hearing; having that infirmity coming upon me, my
son he went into the Law, and he took charge of me, and he by
little and little made out this elegant and beautiful property. But
returning to what you said, you know," pursued the old man, again
laughing heartily, "what I say is, No to be sure; you're right."

I was modestly wondering whether my utmost ingenuity would have
enabled me to say anything that would have amused him half as much
as this imaginary pleasantry, when I was startled by a sudden click
in the wall on one side of the chimney, and the ghostly tumbling
open of a little wooden flap with "JOHN" upon it. The old man,
following my eyes, cried with great triumph, "My son's come home!"
and we both went out to the drawbridge.

It was worth any money to see Wemmick waving a salute to me from
the other side of the moat, when we might have shaken hands across
it with the greatest ease. The Aged was so delighted to work the
drawbridge, that I made no offer to assist him, but stood quiet
until Wemmick had come across, and had presented me to Miss
Skiffins; a lady by whom he was accompanied.

Miss Skiffins was of a wooden appearance, and was, like her escort,
in the post-office branch of the service. She might have been some
two or three years younger than Wemmick, and I judged her to stand
possessed of portable property. The cut of her dress from the waist
upward, both before and behind, made her figure very like a boy's
kite; and I might have pronounced her gown a little too decidedly
orange, and her gloves a little too intensely green. But she seemed
to be a good sort of fellow, and showed a high regard for the Aged.
I was not long in discovering that she was a frequent visitor at
the Castle; for, on our going in, and my complimenting Wemmick on
his ingenious contrivance for announcing himself to the Aged, he
begged me to give my attention for a moment to the other side of
the chimney, and disappeared. Presently another click came, and
another little door tumbled open with "Miss Skiffins" on it; then
Miss Skiffins shut up and John tumbled open; then Miss Skiffins and
John both tumbled open together, and finally shut up together. On
Wemmick's return from working these mechanical appliances, I
expressed the great admiration with which I regarded them, and he
said, "Well, you know, they're both pleasant and useful to the
Aged. And by George, sir, it's a thing worth mentioning, that of
all the people who come to this gate, the secret of those pulls is
only known to the Aged, Miss Skiffins, and me!"

"And Mr. Wemmick made them," added Miss Skiffins, "with his own
hands out of his own head."

While Miss Skiffins was taking off her bonnet (she retained her
green gloves during the evening as an outward and visible sign that
there was company), Wemmick invited me to take a walk with him
round the property, and see how the island looked in wintertime.
Thinking that he did this to give me an opportunity of taking his
Walworth sentiments, I seized the opportunity as soon as we were
out of the Castle.

Having thought of the matter with care, I approached my subject as
if I had never hinted at it before. I informed Wemmick that I was
anxious in behalf of Herbert Pocket, and I told him how we had
first met, and how we had fought. I glanced at Herbert's home, and
at his character, and at his having no means but such as he was
dependent on his father for; those, uncertain and unpunctual.
I alluded to the advantages I had derived in my first rawness and
ignorance from his society, and I confessed that I feared I had but
ill repaid them, and that he might have done better without me and
my expectations. Keeping Miss Havisham in the background at a great
distance, I still hinted at the possibility of my having competed
with him in his prospects, and at the certainty of his possessing a
generous soul, and being far above any mean distrusts,
retaliations, or designs. For all these reasons (I told Wemmick),
and because he was my young companion and friend, and I had a great
affection for him, I wished my own good fortune to reflect some
rays upon him, and therefore I sought advice from Wemmick's
experience and knowledge of men and affairs, how I could best try
with my resources to help Herbert to some present income,--say of a
hundred a year, to keep him in good hope and heart,--and gradually
to buy him on to some small partnership. I begged Wemmick, in
conclusion, to understand that my help must always be rendered
without Herbert's knowledge or suspicion, and that there was no one
else in the world with whom I could advise. I wound up by laying my
hand upon his shoulder, and saying, "I can't help confiding in you,
though I know it must be troublesome to you; but that is your
fault, in having ever brought me here."

Wemmick was silent for a little while, and then said with a kind of
start, "Well you know, Mr. Pip, I must tell you one thing. This is
devilish good of you."

"Say you'll help me to be good then," said I.

"Ecod," replied Wemmick, shaking his head, "that's not my trade."

"Nor is this your trading-place," said I.

"You are right," he returned. "You hit the nail on the head. Mr.
Pip, I'll put on my considering-cap, and I think all you want to
do may be done by degrees. Skiffins (that's her brother) is an
accountant and agent. I'll look him up and go to work for you."

"I thank you ten thousand times."

"On the contrary," said he, "I thank you, for though we are
strictly in our private and personal capacity, still it may be
mentioned that there are Newgate cobwebs about, and it brushes them
away."

After a little further conversation to the same effect, we returned
into the Castle where we found Miss Skiffins preparing tea. The
responsible duty of making the toast was delegated to the Aged, and
that excellent old gentleman was so intent upon it that he seemed
to me in some danger of melting his eyes. It was no nominal meal
that we were going to make, but a vigorous reality. The Aged
prepared such a hay-stack of buttered toast, that I could scarcely
see him over it as it simmered on an iron stand hooked on to the
top-bar; while Miss Skiffins brewed such a jorum of tea, that the
pig in the back premises became strongly excited, and repeatedly
expressed his desire to participate in the entertainment.

The flag had been struck, and the gun had been fired, at the right
moment of time, and I felt as snugly cut off from the rest of
Walworth as if the moat were thirty feet wide by as many deep.
Nothing disturbed the tranquillity of the Castle, but the
occasional tumbling open of John and Miss Skiffins: which little
doors were a prey to some spasmodic infirmity that made me
sympathetically uncomfortable until I got used to it. I inferred
from the methodical nature of Miss Skiffins's arrangements that she
made tea there every Sunday night; and I rather suspected that a
classic brooch she wore, representing the profile of an undesirable
female with a very straight nose and a very new moon, was a piece
of portable property that had been given her by Wemmick.

We ate the whole of the toast, and drank tea in proportion, and it
was delightful to see how warm and greasy we all got after it. The
Aged especially, might have passed for some clean old chief of a
savage tribe, just oiled. After a short pause of repose, Miss
Skiffins--in the absence of the little servant who, it seemed,
retired to the bosom of her family on Sunday afternoons--washed up
the tea-things, in a trifling lady-like amateur manner that
compromised none of us. Then, she put on her gloves again, and we
drew round the fire, and Wemmick said, "Now, Aged Parent, tip us the
paper."

Wemmick explained to me while the Aged got his spectacles out, that
this was according to custom, and that it gave the old gentleman
infinite satisfaction to read the news aloud. "I won't offer an
apology," said Wemmick, "for he isn't capable of many pleasures--
are you, Aged P.?"

"All right, John, all right," returned the old man, seeing himself
spoken to.

"Only tip him a nod every now and then when he looks off his
paper," said Wemmick, "and he'll be as happy as a king. We are all
attention, Aged One."

"All right, John, all right!" returned the cheerful old man, so
busy and so pleased, that it really was quite charming.

The Aged's reading reminded me of the classes at Mr. Wopsle's
great-aunt's, with the pleasanter peculiarity that it seemed to
come through a keyhole. As he wanted the candles close to him, and
as he was always on the verge of putting either his head or the
newspaper into them, he required as much watching as a powder-mill.
But Wemmick was equally untiring and gentle in his vigilance, and
the Aged read on, quite unconscious of his many rescues. Whenever
he looked at us, we all expressed the greatest interest and
amazement, and nodded until he resumed again.

As Wemmick and Miss Skiffins sat side by side, and as I sat in a
shadowy corner, I observed a slow and gradual elongation of Mr.
Wemmick's mouth, powerfully suggestive of his slowly and gradually
stealing his arm round Miss Skiffins's waist. In course of time I
saw his hand appear on the other side of Miss Skiffins; but at that
moment Miss Skiffins neatly stopped him with the green glove,
unwound his arm again as if it were an article of dress, and with
the greatest deliberation laid it on the table before her. Miss
Skiffins's composure while she did this was one of the most
remarkable sights I have ever seen, and if I could have thought the
act consistent with abstraction of mind, I should have deemed that
Miss Skiffins performed it mechanically.

By and by, I noticed Wemmick's arm beginning to disappear again,
and gradually fading out of view. Shortly afterwards, his mouth
began to widen again. After an interval of suspense on my part that
was quite enthralling and almost painful, I saw his hand appear on
the other side of Miss Skiffins. Instantly, Miss Skiffins stopped
it with the neatness of a placid boxer, took off that girdle or
cestus as before, and laid it on the table. Taking the table to
represent the path of virtue, I am justified in stating that during
the whole time of the Aged's reading, Wemmick's arm was straying
from the path of virtue and being recalled to it by Miss Skiffins.

At last, the Aged read himself into a light slumber. This was the
time for Wemmick to produce a little kettle, a tray of glasses, and
a black bottle with a porcelain-topped cork, representing some
clerical dignitary of a rubicund and social aspect. With the aid of
these appliances we all had something warm to drink, including the
Aged, who was soon awake again. Miss Skiffins mixed, and I observed
that she and Wemmick drank out of one glass. Of course I knew
better than to offer to see Miss Skiffins home, and under the
circumstances I thought I had best go first; which I did, taking a
cordial leave of the Aged, and having passed a pleasant evening.

Before a week was out, I received a note from Wemmick, dated
Walworth, stating that he hoped he had made some advance in that
matter appertaining to our private and personal capacities, and
that he would be glad if I could come and see him again upon it.
So, I went out to Walworth again, and yet again, and yet again, and
I saw him by appointment in the City several times, but never held
any communication with him on the subject in or near Little
Britain. The upshot was, that we found a worthy young merchant or
shipping-broker, not long established in business, who wanted
intelligent help, and who wanted capital, and who in due course of
time and receipt would want a partner. Between him and me, secret
articles were signed of which Herbert was the subject, and I paid
him half of my five hundred pounds down, and engaged for sundry
other payments: some, to fall due at certain dates out of my
income: some, contingent on my coming into my property. Miss
Skiffins's brother conducted the negotiation. Wemmick pervaded it
throughout, but never appeared in it.

The whole business was so cleverly managed, that Herbert had not
the least suspicion of my hand being in it. I never shall forget
the radiant face with which he came home one afternoon, and told
me, as a mighty piece of news, of his having fallen in with one
Clarriker (the young merchant's name), and of Clarriker's having
shown an extraordinary inclination towards him, and of his belief
that the opening had come at last. Day by day as his hopes grew
stronger and his face brighter, he must have thought me a more and
more affectionate friend, for I had the greatest difficulty in
restraining my tears of triumph when I saw him so happy. At length,
the thing being done, and he having that day entered Clarriker's
House, and he having talked to me for a whole evening in a flush of
pleasure and success, I did really cry in good earnest when I went
to bed, to think that my expectations had done some good to
somebody.

A great event in my life, the turning point of my life, now opens
on my view. But, before I proceed to narrate it, and before I pass
on to all the changes it involved, I must give one chapter to
Estella. It is not much to give to the theme that so long filled
my heart.

Chapter XXXVIII

If that staid old house near the Green at Richmond should ever come
to be haunted when I am dead, it will be haunted, surely, by my
ghost. O the many, many nights and days through which the unquiet
spirit within me haunted that house when Estella lived there! Let
my body be where it would, my spirit was always wandering,
wandering, wandering, about that house.

The lady with whom Estella was placed, Mrs. Brandley by name, was a
widow, with one daughter several years older than Estella. The
mother looked young, and the daughter looked old; the mother's
complexion was pink, and the daughter's was yellow; the mother set
up for frivolity, and the daughter for theology. They were in what
is called a good position, and visited, and were visited by,
numbers of people. Little, if any, community of feeling subsisted
between them and Estella, but the understanding was established
that they were necessary to her, and that she was necessary to
them. Mrs. Brandley had been a friend of Miss Havisham's before the
time of her seclusion.

In Mrs. Brandley's house and out of Mrs. Brandley's house, I suffered
every kind and degree of torture that Estella could cause me. The
nature of my relations with her, which placed me on terms of
familiarity without placing me on terms of favor, conduced to my
distraction. She made use of me to tease other admirers, and she
turned the very familiarity between herself and me to the account
of putting a constant slight on my devotion to her. If I had been
her secretary, steward, half-brother, poor relation,--if I had been
a younger brother of her appointed husband,--I could not have
seemed to myself further from my hopes when I was nearest to her.
The privilege of calling her by her name and hearing her call me by
mine became, under the circumstances an aggravation of my trials;
and while I think it likely that it almost maddened her other
lovers, I know too certainly that it almost maddened me.

She had admirers without end. No doubt my jealousy made an admirer
of every one who went near her; but there were more than enough of
them without that.

I saw her often at Richmond, I heard of her often in town, and I
used often to take her and the Brandleys on the water; there were
picnics, fte days, plays, operas, concerts, parties, all sorts of
pleasures, through which I pursued her,--and they were all miseries
to me. I never had one hour's happiness in her society, and yet my
mind all round the four-and-twenty hours was harping on the
happiness of having her with me unto death.

Throughout this part of our intercourse,--and it lasted, as will
presently be seen, for what I then thought a long time,--she
habitually reverted to that tone which expressed that our
association was forced upon us. There were other times when she
would come to a sudden check in this tone and in all her many
tones, and would seem to pity me.

"Pip, Pip," she said one evening, coming to such a check, when we
sat apart at a darkening window of the house in Richmond; "will you
never take warning?"

"Of what?"

"Of me."

"Warning not to be attracted by you, do you mean, Estella?"

"Do I mean! If you don't know what I mean, you are blind."

I should have replied that Love was commonly reputed blind, but for
the reason that I always was restrained--and this was not the
least of my miseries--by a feeling that it was ungenerous to press
myself upon her, when she knew that she could not choose but obey
Miss Havisham. My dread always was, that this knowledge on her part
laid me under a heavy disadvantage with her pride, and made me the
subject of a rebellious struggle in her bosom.

"At any rate," said I, "I have no warning given me just now, for
you wrote to me to come to you, this time."

"That's true," said Estella, with a cold careless smile that always
chilled me.

After looking at the twilight without, for a little while, she went
on to say:--

"The time has come round when Miss Havisham wishes to have me for a
day at Satis. You are to take me there, and bring me back, if you
will. She would rather I did not travel alone, and objects to
receiving my maid, for she has a sensitive horror of being talked
of by such people. Can you take me?"

"Can I take you, Estella!"

"You can then? The day after to-morrow, if you please. You are to
pay all charges out of my purse, You hear the condition of your
going?"

"And must obey," said I.

This was all the preparation I received for that visit, or for
others like it; Miss Havisham never wrote to me, nor had I ever so
much as seen her handwriting. We went down on the next day but one,
and we found her in the room where I had first beheld her, and it
is needless to add that there was no change in Satis House.

She was even more dreadfully fond of Estella than she had been when
I last saw them together; I repeat the word advisedly, for there
was something positively dreadful in the energy of her looks and
embraces. She hung upon Estella's beauty, hung upon her words, hung
upon her gestures, and sat mumbling her own trembling fingers while
she looked at her, as though she were devouring the beautiful
creature she had reared.

From Estella she looked at me, with a searching glance that seemed
to pry into my heart and probe its wounds. "How does she use you,
Pip; how does she use you?" she asked me again, with her witch-like
eagerness, even in Estella's hearing. But, when we sat by her
flickering fire at night, she was most weird; for then, keeping
Estella's hand drawn through her arm and clutched in her own hand,
she extorted from her, by dint of referring back to what Estella
had told her in her regular letters, the names and conditions of
the men whom she had fascinated; and as Miss Havisham dwelt upon
this roll, with the intensity of a mind mortally hurt and diseased,
she sat with her other hand on her crutch stick, and her chin on
that, and her wan bright eyes glaring at me, a very spectre.

I saw in this, wretched though it made me, and bitter the sense of
dependence and even of degradation that it awakened,--I saw in
this that Estella was set to wreak Miss Havisham's revenge on men,
and that she was not to be given to me until she had gratified it
for a term. I saw in this, a reason for her being beforehand
assigned to me. Sending her out to attract and torment and do
mischief, Miss Havisham sent her with the malicious assurance that
she was beyond the reach of all admirers, and that all who staked
upon that cast were secured to lose. I saw in this that I, too,
was tormented by a perversion of ingenuity, even while the prize
was reserved for me. I saw in this the reason for my being staved
off so long and the reason for my late guardian's declining to
commit himself to the formal knowledge of such a scheme. In a word,
I saw in this Miss Havisham as I had her then and there before my
eyes, and always had had her before my eyes; and I saw in this, the
distinct shadow of the darkened and unhealthy house in which her
life was hidden from the sun.

The candles that lighted that room of hers were placed in sconces
on the wall. They were high from the ground, and they burnt with
the steady dulness of artificial light in air that is seldom
renewed. As I looked round at them, and at the pale gloom they
made, and at the stopped clock, and at the withered articles of
bridal dress upon the table and the ground, and at her own awful
figure with its ghostly reflection thrown large by the fire upon
the ceiling and the wall, I saw in everything the construction that
my mind had come to, repeated and thrown back to me. My thoughts
passed into the great room across the landing where the table was
spread, and I saw it written, as it were, in the falls of the
cobwebs from the centre-piece, in the crawlings of the spiders on
the cloth, in the tracks of the mice as they betook their little
quickened hearts behind the panels, and in the gropings and
pausings of the beetles on the floor.

It happened on the occasion of this visit that some sharp words
arose between Estella and Miss Havisham. It was the first time I
had ever seen them opposed.

We were seated by the fire, as just now described, and Miss
Havisham still had Estella's arm drawn through her own, and still
clutched Estella's hand in hers, when Estella gradually began to
detach herself. She had shown a proud impatience more than once
before, and had rather endured that fierce affection than accepted
or returned it.

"What!" said Miss Havisham, flashing her eyes upon her, "are you
tired of me?"

"Only a little tired of myself," replied Estella, disengaging her
arm, and moving to the great chimney-piece, where she stood looking
down at the fire.

"Speak the truth, you ingrate!" cried Miss Havisham, passionately
striking her stick upon the floor; "you are tired of me."

Estella looked at her with perfect composure, and again looked down
at the fire. Her graceful figure and her beautiful face expressed a
self-possessed indifference to the wild heat of the other, that was
almost cruel.

"You stock and stone!" exclaimed Miss Havisham. "You cold, cold
heart!"

"What?" said Estella, preserving her attitude of indifference as
she leaned against the great chimney-piece and only moving her
eyes; "do you reproach me for being cold? You?"

"Are you not?" was the fierce retort.

"You should know," said Estella. "I am what you have made me. Take
all the praise, take all the blame; take all the success, take all
the failure; in short, take me."

"O, look at her, look at her!" cried Miss Havisham, bitterly; "Look
at her so hard and thankless, on the hearth where she was reared!
Where I took her into this wretched breast when it was first
bleeding from its stabs, and where I have lavished years of
tenderness upon her!"

"At least I was no party to the compact," said Estella, "for if I
could walk and speak, when it was made, it was as much as I could
do. But what would you have? You have been very good to me, and I
owe everything to you. What would you have?"

"Love," replied the other.

"You have it."

"I have not," said Miss Havisham.

"Mother by adoption," retorted Estella, never departing from the
easy grace of her attitude, never raising her voice as the other
did, never yielding either to anger or tenderness,--"mother by
adoption, I have said that I owe everything to you. All I possess
is freely yours. All that you have given me, is at your command to
have again. Beyond that, I have nothing. And if you ask me to give
you, what you never gave me, my gratitude and duty cannot do
impossibilities."

"Did I never give her love!" cried Miss Havisham, turning wildly to
me. "Did I never give her a burning love, inseparable from jealousy
at all times, and from sharp pain, while she speaks thus to me! Let
her call me mad, let her call me mad!"

"Why should I call you mad," returned Estella, "I, of all people?
Does any one live, who knows what set purposes you have, half as
well as I do? Does any one live, who knows what a steady memory you
have, half as well as I do? I who have sat on this same hearth on
the little stool that is even now beside you there, learning your
lessons and looking up into your face, when your face was strange
and frightened me!"

"Soon forgotten!" moaned Miss Havisham. "Times soon forgotten!"

"No, not forgotten," retorted Estella,--"not forgotten, but
treasured up in my memory. When have you found me false to your
teaching? When have you found me unmindful of your lessons? When
have you found me giving admission here," she touched her bosom
with her hand, "to anything that you excluded? Be just to me."

"So proud, so proud!" moaned Miss Havisham, pushing away her gray
hair with both her hands.

"Who taught me to be proud?" returned Estella. "Who praised me when
I learnt my lesson?"

"So hard, so hard!" moaned Miss Havisham, with her former action.

"Who taught me to be hard?" returned Estella. "Who praised me when
I learnt my lesson?"

"But to be proud and hard to me!" Miss Havisham quite shrieked, as
she stretched out her arms. "Estella, Estella, Estella, to be proud
and hard to me!"

Estella looked at her for a moment with a kind of calm wonder, but
was not otherwise disturbed; when the moment was past, she looked
down at the fire again.

"I cannot think," said Estella, raising her eyes after a silence
"why you should be so unreasonable when I come to see you after a
separation. I have never forgotten your wrongs and their causes. I
have never been unfaithful to you or your schooling. I have never
shown any weakness that I can charge myself with."

"Would it be weakness to return my love?" exclaimed Miss Havisham.
"But yes, yes, she would call it so!"

"I begin to think," said Estella, in a musing way, after another
moment of calm wonder, "that I almost understand how this comes
about. If you had brought up your adopted daughter wholly in the
dark confinement of these rooms, and had never let her know that
there was such a thing as the daylight by which she had never once
seen your face,--if you had done that, and then, for a purpose had
wanted her to understand the daylight and know all about it, you
would have been disappointed and angry?"

Miss Havisham, with her head in her hands, sat making a low
moaning, and swaying herself on her chair, but gave no answer.

"Or," said Estella,--"which is a nearer case,--if you had taught
her, from the dawn of her intelligence, with your utmost energy and
might, that there was such a thing as daylight, but that it was
made to be her enemy and destroyer, and she must always turn
against it, for it had blighted you and would else blight her;--if
you had done this, and then, for a purpose, had wanted her to take
naturally to the daylight and she could not do it, you would have
been disappointed and angry?"

Miss Havisham sat listening (or it seemed so, for I could not see
her face), but still made no answer.

"So," said Estella, "I must be taken as I have been made. The
success is not mine, the failure is not mine, but the two together
make me."

Miss Havisham had settled down, I hardly knew how, upon the floor,
among the faded bridal relics with which it was strewn. I took
advantage of the moment--I had sought one from the first--to
leave the room, after beseeching Estella's attention to her, with a
movement of my hand. When I left, Estella was yet standing by the
great chimney-piece, just as she had stood throughout. Miss
Havisham's gray hair was all adrift upon the ground, among the
other bridal wrecks, and was a miserable sight to see.

It was with a depressed heart that I walked in the starlight for an
hour and more, about the courtyard, and about the brewery, and
about the ruined garden. When I at last took courage to return to
the room, I found Estella sitting at Miss Havisham's knee, taking
up some stitches in one of those old articles of dress that were
dropping to pieces, and of which I have often been reminded since
by the faded tatters of old banners that I have seen hanging up in
cathedrals. Afterwards, Estella and I played at cards, as of yore,--
only we were skilful now, and played French games,--and so the
evening wore away, and I went to bed.

I lay in that separate building across the courtyard. It was the
first time I had ever lain down to rest in Satis House, and sleep
refused to come near me. A thousand Miss Havishams haunted me. She
was on this side of my pillow, on that, at the head of the bed, at
the foot, behind the half-opened door of the dressing-room, in the
dressing-room, in the room overhead, in the room beneath,--
everywhere. At last, when the night was slow to creep on towards
two o'clock, I felt that I absolutely could no longer bear the
place as a place to lie down in, and that I must get up. I
therefore got up and put on my clothes, and went out across the
yard into the long stone passage, designing to gain the outer
courtyard and walk there for the relief of my mind. But I was no
sooner in the passage than I extinguished my candle; for I saw
Miss Havisham going along it in a ghostly manner, making a low cry.
I followed her at a distance, and saw her go up the staircase. She
carried a bare candle in her hand, which she had probably taken
from one of the sconces in her own room, and was a most unearthly
object by its light. Standing at the bottom of the staircase, I
felt the mildewed air of the feast-chamber, without seeing her open
the door, and I heard her walking there, and so across into her own
room, and so across again into that, never ceasing the low cry.
After a time, I tried in the dark both to get out, and to go back,
but I could do neither until some streaks of day strayed in and
showed me where to lay my hands. During the whole interval,
whenever I went to the bottom of the staircase, I heard her
footstep, saw her light pass above, and heard her ceaseless low
cry.

Before we left next day, there was no revival of the difference
between her and Estella, nor was it ever revived on any similar
occasion; and there were four similar occasions, to the best of my
remembrance. Nor, did Miss Havisham's manner towards Estella in
anywise change, except that I believed it to have something like
fear infused among its former characteristics.

It is impossible to turn this leaf of my life, without putting
Bentley Drummle's name upon it; or I would, very gladly.

On a certain occasion when the Finches were assembled in force, and
when good feeling was being promoted in the usual manner by
nobody's agreeing with anybody else, the presiding Finch called the
Grove to order, forasmuch as Mr. Drummle had not yet toasted a lady;
which, according to the solemn constitution of the society, it was
the brute's turn to do that day. I thought I saw him leer in an
ugly way at me while the decanters were going round, but as there
was no love lost between us, that might easily be. What was my
indignant surprise when he called upon the company to pledge him to
"Estella!"

"Estella who?" said I.

"Never you mind," retorted Drummle.

"Estella of where?" said I. "You are bound to say of where." Which
he was, as a Finch.

"Of Richmond, gentlemen," said Drummle, putting me out of the
question, "and a peerless beauty."

Much he knew about peerless beauties, a mean, miserable idiot! I
whispered Herbert.

"I know that lady," said Herbert, across the table, when the toast
had been honored.

"Do you?" said Drummle.

"And so do I," I added, with a scarlet face.

"Do you?" said Drummle. "O, Lord!"

This was the only retort--except glass or crockery--that the
heavy creature was capable of making; but, I became as highly
incensed by it as if it had been barbed with wit, and I immediately
rose in my place and said that I could not but regard it as being
like the honorable Finch's impudence to come down to that Grove,--
we always talked about coming down to that Grove, as a neat
Parliamentary turn of expression,--down to that Grove, proposing a
lady of whom he knew nothing. Mr. Drummle, upon this, starting up,
demanded what I meant by that? Whereupon I made him the extreme
reply that I believed he knew where I was to be found.

Whether it was possible in a Christian country to get on without
blood, after this, was a question on which the Finches were
divided. The debate upon it grew so lively, indeed, that at least
six more honorable members told six more, during the discussion,
that they believed they knew where they were to be found. However,
it was decided at last (the Grove being a Court of Honor) that if
Mr. Drummle would bring never so slight a certificate from the lady,
importing that he had the honor of her acquaintance, Mr. Pip must
express his regret, as a gentleman and a Finch, for "having been
betrayed into a warmth which." Next day was appointed for the
production (lest our honor should take cold from delay), and next
day Drummle appeared with a polite little avowal in Estella's hand,
that she had had the honor of dancing with him several times. This
left me no course but to regret that I had been "betrayed into a
warmth which," and on the whole to repudiate, as untenable, the
idea that I was to be found anywhere. Drummle and I then sat
snorting at one another for an hour, while the Grove engaged in
indiscriminate contradiction, and finally the promotion of good
feeling was declared to have gone ahead at an amazing rate.

I tell this lightly, but it was no light thing to me. For, I cannot
adequately express what pain it gave me to think that Estella
should show any favor to a contemptible, clumsy, sulky booby, so
very far below the average. To the present moment, I believe it to
have been referable to some pure fire of generosity and
disinterestedness in my love for her, that I could not endure the
thought of her stooping to that hound. No doubt I should have been
miserable whomsoever she had favored; but a worthier object would
have caused me a different kind and degree of distress.

It was easy for me to find out, and I did soon find out, that
Drummle had begun to follow her closely, and that she allowed him
to do it. A little while, and he was always in pursuit of her, and
he and I crossed one another every day. He held on, in a dull
persistent way, and Estella held him on; now with encouragement,
now with discouragement, now almost flattering him, now openly
despising him, now knowing him very well, now scarcely remembering
who he was.

The Spider, as Mr. Jaggers had called him, was used to lying in
wait, however, and had the patience of his tribe. Added to that, he
had a blockhead confidence in his money and in his family
greatness, which sometimes did him good service,--almost taking the
place of concentration and determined purpose. So, the Spider,
doggedly watching Estella, outwatched many brighter insects, and
would often uncoil himself and drop at the right nick of time.

At a certain Assembly Ball at Richmond (there used to be Assembly
Balls at most places then), where Estella had outshone all other
beauties, this blundering Drummle so hung about her, and with so
much toleration on her part, that I resolved to speak to her
concerning him. I took the next opportunity; which was when she was
waiting for Mrs. Blandley to take her home, and was sitting apart
among some flowers, ready to go. I was with her, for I almost
always accompanied them to and from such places.

"Are you tired, Estella?"

"Rather, Pip."

"You should be."

"Say rather, I should not be; for I have my letter to Satis House
to write, before I go to sleep."

"Recounting to-night's triumph?" said I. "Surely a very poor one,
Estella."

"What do you mean? I didn't know there had been any."

"Estella," said I, "do look at that fellow in the corner yonder,
who is looking over here at us."

"Why should I look at him?" returned Estella, with her eyes on me
instead. "What is there in that fellow in the corner yonder,--to
use your words,--that I need look at?"

"Indeed, that is the very question I want to ask you," said I. "For
he has been hovering about you all night."

"Moths, and all sorts of ugly creatures," replied Estella, with a
glance towards him, "hover about a lighted candle. Can the candle
help it?"

"No," I returned; "but cannot the Estella help it?"

"Well!" said she, laughing, after a moment, "perhaps. Yes. Anything
you like."

"But, Estella, do hear me speak. It makes me wretched that you
should encourage a man so generally despised as Drummle. You know
he is despised."

"Well?" said she.

"You know he is as ungainly within as without. A deficient,
ill-tempered, lowering, stupid fellow."

"Well?" said she.

"You know he has nothing to recommend him but money and a
ridiculous roll of addle-headed predecessors; now, don't you?"

"Well?" said she again; and each time she said it, she opened her
lovely eyes the wider.

To overcome the difficulty of getting past that monosyllable, I
took it from her, and said, repeating it with emphasis, "Well! Then,
that is why it makes me wretched."

Now, if I could have believed that she favored Drummle with any
idea of making me-me--wretched, I should have been in better
heart about it; but in that habitual way of hers, she put me so
entirely out of the question, that I could believe nothing of the
kind.

"Pip," said Estella, casting her glance over the room, "don't be
foolish about its effect on you. It may have its effect on others,
and may be meant to have. It's not worth discussing."

"Yes it is," said I, "because I cannot bear that people should say,
'she throws away her graces and attractions on a mere boor, the
lowest in the crowd.'"

"I can bear it," said Estella.

"Oh! don't be so proud, Estella, and so inflexible."

"Calls me proud and inflexible in this breath!" said Estella,
opening her hands. "And in his last breath reproached me for
stooping to a boor!"

"There is no doubt you do," said I, something hurriedly, "for I
have seen you give him looks and smiles this very night, such as
you never give to--me."

"Do you want me then," said Estella, turning suddenly with a fixed
and serious, if not angry, look, "to deceive and entrap you?"

"Do you deceive and entrap him, Estella?"

"Yes, and many others,--all of them but you. Here is Mrs. Brandley.
I'll say no more."

And now that I have given the one chapter to the theme that so
filled my heart, and so often made it ache and ache again, I pass
on unhindered, to the event that had impended over me longer yet;
the event that had begun to be prepared for, before I knew that the
world held Estella, and in the days when her baby intelligence was
receiving its first distortions from Miss Havisham's wasting hands.

In the Eastern story, the heavy slab that was to fall on the bed of
state in the flush of conquest was slowly wrought out of the
quarry, the tunnel for the rope to hold it in its place was slowly
carried through the leagues of rock, the slab was slowly raised and
fitted in the roof, the rope was rove to it and slowly taken
through the miles of hollow to the great iron ring. All being made
ready with much labor, and the hour come, the sultan was aroused
in the dead of the night, and the sharpened axe that was to sever
the rope from the great iron ring was put into his hand, and he
struck with it, and the rope parted and rushed away, and the
ceiling fell. So, in my case; all the work, near and afar, that
tended to the end, had been accomplished; and in an instant the
blow was struck, and the roof of my stronghold dropped upon me.

Chapter XXXIX

I was three-and-twenty years of age. Not another word had I heard
to enlighten me on the subject of my expectations, and my
twenty-third birthday was a week gone. We had left Barnard's Inn
more than a year, and lived in the Temple. Our chambers were in
Garden-court, down by the river.

Mr. Pocket and I had for some time parted company as to our original
relations, though we continued on the best terms. Notwithstanding my
inability to settle to anything,--which I hope arose out of the
restless and incomplete tenure on which I held my means,--I had a
taste for reading, and read regularly so many hours a day. That
matter of Herbert's was still progressing, and everything with me
was as I have brought it down to the close of the last preceding
chapter.

Business had taken Herbert on a journey to Marseilles. I was alone,
and had a dull sense of being alone. Dispirited and anxious, long
hoping that to-morrow or next week would clear my way, and long
disappointed, I sadly missed the cheerful face and ready response
of my friend.

It was wretched weather; stormy and wet, stormy and wet; and mud,
mud, mud, deep in all the streets. Day after day, a vast heavy veil
had been driving over London from the East, and it drove still, as
if in the East there were an Eternity of cloud and wind. So furious
had been the gusts, that high buildings in town had had the lead
stripped off their roofs; and in the country, trees had been torn
up, and sails of windmills carried away; and gloomy accounts had
come in from the coast, of shipwreck and death. Violent blasts of
rain had accompanied these rages of wind, and the day just closed
as I sat down to read had been the worst of all.

Alterations have been made in that part of the Temple since that
time, and it has not now so lonely a character as it had then, nor
is it so exposed to the river. We lived at the top of the last
house, and the wind rushing up the river shook the house that
night, like discharges of cannon, or breakings of a sea. When the
rain came with it and dashed against the windows, I thought,
raising my eyes to them as they rocked, that I might have fancied
myself in a storm-beaten lighthouse. Occasionally, the smoke came
rolling down the chimney as though it could not bear to go out into
such a night; and when I set the doors open and looked down the
staircase, the staircase lamps were blown out; and when I shaded my
face with my hands and looked through the black windows (opening
them ever so little was out of the question in the teeth of such
wind and rain), I saw that the lamps in the court were blown out,
and that the lamps on the bridges and the shore were shuddering,
and that the coal-fires in barges on the river were being carried
away before the wind like red-hot splashes in the rain.

I read with my watch upon the table, purposing to close my book at
eleven o'clock. As I shut it, Saint Paul's, and all the many
church-clocks in the City--some leading, some accompanying, some
following--struck that hour. The sound was curiously flawed by the
wind; and I was listening, and thinking how the wind assailed and
tore it, when I heard a footstep on the stair.

What nervous folly made me start, and awfully connect it with the
footstep of my dead sister, matters not. It was past in a moment,
and I listened again, and heard the footstep stumble in coming on.
Remembering then, that the staircase-lights were blown out, I took
up my reading-lamp and went out to the stair-head. Whoever was
below had stopped on seeing my lamp, for all was quiet.

"There is some one down there, is there not?" I called out, looking
down.

"Yes," said a voice from the darkness beneath.

"What floor do you want?"

"The top. Mr. Pip."

"That is my name.--There is nothing the matter?"

"Nothing the matter," returned the voice. And the man came on.

I stood with my lamp held out over the stair-rail, and he came
slowly within its light. It was a shaded lamp, to shine upon a
book, and its circle of light was very contracted; so that he was
in it for a mere instant, and then out of it. In the instant, I had
seen a face that was strange to me, looking up with an
incomprehensible air of being touched and pleased by the sight of
me.

Moving the lamp as the man moved, I made out that he was
substantially dressed, but roughly, like a voyager by sea. That he
had long iron-gray hair. That his age was about sixty. That he was
a muscular man, strong on his legs, and that he was browned and
hardened by exposure to weather. As he ascended the last stair or
two, and the light of my lamp included us both, I saw, with a
stupid kind of amazement, that he was holding out both his hands to
me.

"Pray what is your business?" I asked him.

"My business?" he repeated, pausing. "Ah! Yes. I will explain my
business, by your leave."

"Do you wish to come in?"

"Yes," he replied; "I wish to come in, master."

I had asked him the question inhospitably enough, for I resented
the sort of bright and gratified recognition that still shone in
his face. I resented it, because it seemed to imply that he
expected me to respond to it. But I took him into the room I had
just left, and, having set the lamp on the table, asked him as
civilly as I could to explain himself.

He looked about him with the strangest air,--an air of wondering
pleasure, as if he had some part in the things he admired,--and he
pulled off a rough outer coat, and his hat. Then, I saw that his
head was furrowed and bald, and that the long iron-gray hair grew
only on its sides. But, I saw nothing that in the least explained
him. On the contrary, I saw him next moment, once more holding out
both his hands to me.

"What do you mean?" said I, half suspecting him to be mad.

He stopped in his looking at me, and slowly rubbed his right hand
over his head. "It's disapinting to a man," he said, in a coarse
broken voice, "arter having looked for'ard so distant, and come so
fur; but you're not to blame for that,--neither on us is to blame
for that. I'll speak in half a minute. Give me half a minute,
please."

He sat down on a chair that stood before the fire, and covered his
forehead with his large brown veinous hands. I looked at him
attentively then, and recoiled a little from him; but I did not
know him.

"There's no one nigh," said he, looking over his shoulder; "is
there?"

"Why do you, a stranger coming into my rooms at this time of the
night, ask that question?" said I.

"You're a game one," he returned, shaking his head at me with a
deliberate affection, at once most unintelligible and most
exasperating; "I'm glad you've grow'd up, a game one! But don't
catch hold of me. You'd be sorry arterwards to have done it."

I relinquished the intention he had detected, for I knew him! Even
yet I could not recall a single feature, but I knew him! If the
wind and the rain had driven away the intervening years, had
scattered all the intervening objects, had swept us to the
churchyard where we first stood face to face on such different
levels, I could not have known my convict more distinctly than I
knew him now as he sat in the chair before the fire. No need to
take a file from his pocket and show it to me; no need to take the
handkerchief from his neck and twist it round his head; no need to
hug himself with both his arms, and take a shivering turn across
the room, looking back at me for recognition. I knew him before he
gave me one of those aids, though, a moment before, I had not been
conscious of remotely suspecting his identity.

He came back to where I stood, and again held out both his hands.
Not knowing what to do,--for, in my astonishment I had lost my
self-possession,--I reluctantly gave him my hands. He grasped them
heartily, raised them to his lips, kissed them, and still held
them.

"You acted noble, my boy," said he. "Noble, Pip! And I have never
forgot it!"

At a change in his manner as if he were even going to embrace me, I
laid a hand upon his breast and put him away.

"Stay!" said I. "Keep off! If you are grateful to me for what I did
when I was a little child, I hope you have shown your gratitude by
mending your way of life. If you have come here to thank me, it was
not necessary. Still, however you have found me out, there must be
something good in the feeling that has brought you here, and I will
not repulse you; but surely you must understand that--I--"

My attention was so attracted by the singularity of his fixed look
at me, that the words died away on my tongue.

"You was a saying," he observed, when we had confronted one another
in silence, "that surely I must understand. What, surely must I
understand?"

"That I cannot wish to renew that chance intercourse with you of
long ago, under these different circumstances. I am glad to believe
you have repented and recovered yourself. I am glad to tell you so.
I am glad that, thinking I deserve to be thanked, you have come to
thank me. But our ways are different ways, none the less. You are
wet, and you look weary. Will you drink something before you go?"

He had replaced his neckerchief loosely, and had stood, keenly
observant of me, biting a long end of it. "I think," he answered,
still with the end at his mouth and still observant of me, "that I
will drink (I thank you) afore I go."

There was a tray ready on a side-table. I brought it to the table
near the fire, and asked him what he would have? He touched one of
the bottles without looking at it or speaking, and I made him some
hot rum and water. I tried to keep my hand steady while I did so,
but his look at me as he leaned back in his chair with the long
draggled end of his neckerchief between his teeth--evidently
forgotten--made my hand very difficult to master. When at last I
put the glass to him, I saw with amazement that his eyes were full
of tears.

Up to this time I had remained standing, not to disguise that I
wished him gone. But I was softened by the softened aspect of the
man, and felt a touch of reproach. "I hope," said I, hurriedly
putting something into a glass for myself, and drawing a chair to
the table, "that you will not think I spoke harshly to you just
now. I had no intention of doing it, and I am sorry for it if I
did. I wish you well and happy!"

As I put my glass to my lips, he glanced with surprise at the end
of his neckerchief, dropping from his mouth when he opened it, and
stretched out his hand. I gave him mine, and then he drank, and
drew his sleeve across his eyes and forehead.

"How are you living?" I asked him.

"I've been a sheep-farmer, stock-breeder, other trades besides,
away in the new world," said he; "many a thousand mile of stormy
water off from this."

"I hope you have done well?"

"I've done wonderfully well. There's others went out alonger me as
has done well too, but no man has done nigh as well as me. I'm
famous for it."

"I am glad to hear it."

"I hope to hear you say so, my dear boy."

Without stopping to try to understand those words or the tone in
which they were spoken, I turned off to a point that had just come
into my mind.

"Have you ever seen a messenger you once sent to me," I inquired,
"since he undertook that trust?"

"Never set eyes upon him. I warn't likely to it."

"He came faithfully, and he brought me the two one-pound notes. I
was a poor boy then, as you know, and to a poor boy they were a
little fortune. But, like you, I have done well since, and you must
let me pay them back. You can put them to some other poor boy's
use." I took out my purse.

He watched me as I laid my purse upon the table and opened it, and
he watched me as I separated two one-pound notes from its contents.
They were clean and new, and I spread them out and handed them over
to him. Still watching me, he laid them one upon the other, folded
them long-wise, gave them a twist, set fire to them at the lamp,
and dropped the ashes into the tray.

"May I make so bold," he said then, with a smile that was like a
frown, and with a frown that was like a smile, "as ask you how you
have done well, since you and me was out on them lone shivering
marshes?"

"How?"

"Ah!"

He emptied his glass, got up, and stood at the side of the fire,
with his heavy brown hand on the mantel-shelf. He put a foot up to
the bars, to dry and warm it, and the wet boot began to steam; but,
he neither looked at it, nor at the fire, but steadily looked at
me. It was only now that I began to tremble.

When my lips had parted, and had shaped some words that were
without sound, I forced myself to tell him (though I could not do
it distinctly), that I had been chosen to succeed to some property.

"Might a mere warmint ask what property?" said he.

I faltered, "I don't know."

"Might a mere warmint ask whose property?" said he.

I faltered again, "I don't know."

"Could I make a guess, I wonder," said the Convict, "at your income
since you come of age! As to the first figure now. Five?"

With my heart beating like a heavy hammer of disordered action, I
rose out of my chair, and stood with my hand upon the back of it,
looking wildly at him.

"Concerning a guardian," he went on. "There ought to have been some
guardian, or such-like, whiles you was a minor. Some lawyer, maybe.
As to the first letter of that lawyer's name now. Would it be J?"

All the truth of my position came flashing on me; and its
disappointments, dangers, disgraces, consequences of all kinds,
rushed in in such a multitude that I was borne down by them and had
to struggle for every breath I drew.

"Put it," he resumed, "as the employer of that lawyer whose name
begun with a J, and might be Jaggers,--put it as he had come over
sea to Portsmouth, and had landed there, and had wanted to come on
to you. 'However, you have found me out,' you says just now. Well!
However, did I find you out? Why, I wrote from Portsmouth to a
person in London, for particulars of your address. That person's
name? Why, Wemmick."

I could not have spoken one word, though it had been to save my
life. I stood, with a hand on the chair-back and a hand on my
breast, where I seemed to be suffocating,--I stood so, looking
wildly at him, until I grasped at the chair, when the room began to
surge and turn. He caught me, drew me to the sofa, put me up
against the cushions, and bent on one knee before me, bringing the
face that I now well remembered, and that I shuddered at, very near
to mine.

"Yes, Pip, dear boy, I've made a gentleman on you! It's me wot has
done it! I swore that time, sure as ever I earned a guinea, that
guinea should go to you. I swore arterwards, sure as ever I
spec'lated and got rich, you should get rich. I lived rough, that
you should live smooth; I worked hard, that you should be above
work. What odds, dear boy? Do I tell it, fur you to feel a
obligation? Not a bit. I tell it, fur you to know as that there
hunted dunghill dog wot you kep life in, got his head so high that
he could make a gentleman,--and, Pip, you're him!"

The abhorrence in which I held the man, the dread I had of him, the
repugnance with which I shrank from him, could not have been
exceeded if he had been some terrible beast.

"Look'ee here, Pip. I'm your second father. You're my son,--more to
me nor any son. I've put away money, only for you to spend. When I
was a hired-out shepherd in a solitary hut, not seeing no faces but
faces of sheep till I half forgot wot men's and women's faces wos
like, I see yourn. I drops my knife many a time in that hut when I
was a-eating my dinner or my supper, and I says, 'Here's the boy
again, a looking at me whiles I eats and drinks!' I see you there a
many times, as plain as ever I see you on them misty marshes. 'Lord
strike me dead!' I says each time,--and I goes out in the air to
say it under the open heavens,--'but wot, if I gets liberty and
money, I'll make that boy a gentleman!' And I done it. Why, look at
you, dear boy! Look at these here lodgings o'yourn, fit for a lord!
A lord? Ah! You shall show money with lords for wagers, and beat
'em!"

In his heat and triumph, and in his knowledge that I had been
nearly fainting, he did not remark on my reception of all this. It
was the one grain of relief I had.

"Look'ee here!" he went on, taking my watch out of my pocket, and
turning towards him a ring on my finger, while I recoiled from his
touch as if he had been a snake, "a gold 'un and a beauty: that's a
gentleman's, I hope! A diamond all set round with rubies; that's a
gentleman's, I hope! Look at your linen; fine and beautiful! Look
at your clothes; better ain't to be got! And your books too,"
turning his eyes round the room, "mounting up, on their shelves, by
hundreds! And you read 'em; don't you? I see you'd been a reading
of 'em when I come in. Ha, ha, ha! You shall read 'em to me, dear
boy! And if they're in foreign languages wot I don't understand, I
shall be just as proud as if I did."

Again he took both my hands and put them to his lips, while my
blood ran cold within me.

"Don't you mind talking, Pip," said he, after again drawing his
sleeve over his eyes and forehead, as the click came in his throat
which I well remembered,--and he was all the more horrible to me
that he was so much in earnest; "you can't do better nor keep
quiet, dear boy. You ain't looked slowly forward to this as I have;
you wosn't prepared for this as I wos. But didn't you never think
it might be me?"

"O no, no, no," I returned, "Never, never!"

"Well, you see it wos me, and single-handed. Never a soul in it but
my own self and Mr. Jaggers."

"Was there no one else?" I asked.

"No," said he, with a glance of surprise: "who else should there
be? And, dear boy, how good looking you have growed! There's bright
eyes somewheres--eh? Isn't there bright eyes somewheres, wot you
love the thoughts on?"

O Estella, Estella!

"They shall be yourn, dear boy, if money can buy 'em. Not that a
gentleman like you, so well set up as you, can't win 'em off of his
own game; but money shall back you! Let me finish wot I was a
telling you, dear boy. From that there hut and that there
hiring-out, I got money left me by my master (which died, and had
been the same as me), and got my liberty and went for myself. In
every single thing I went for, I went for you. 'Lord strike a
blight upon it,' I says, wotever it was I went for, 'if it ain't
for him!' It all prospered wonderful. As I giv' you to understand
just now, I'm famous for it. It was the money left me, and the
gains of the first few year wot I sent home to Mr. Jaggers--all for
you--when he first come arter you, agreeable to my letter."

O that he had never come! That he had left me at the forge,--far
from contented, yet, by comparison happy!

"And then, dear boy, it was a recompense to me, look'ee here, to
know in secret that I was making a gentleman. The blood horses of
them colonists might fling up the dust over me as I was walking;
what do I say? I says to myself, 'I'm making a better gentleman nor
ever you'll be!' When one of 'em says to another, 'He was a
convict, a few year ago, and is a ignorant common fellow now, for
all he's lucky,' what do I say? I says to myself, 'If I ain't a
gentleman, nor yet ain't got no learning, I'm the owner of such.
All on you owns stock and land; which on you owns a brought-up
London gentleman?' This way I kep myself a going. And this way I
held steady afore my mind that I would for certain come one day and
see my boy, and make myself known to him, on his own ground."

He laid his hand on my shoulder. I shuddered at the thought that
for anything I knew, his hand might be stained with blood.

"It warn't easy, Pip, for me to leave them parts, nor yet it warn't
safe. But I held to it, and the harder it was, the stronger I held,
for I was determined, and my mind firm made up. At last I done it.
Dear boy, I done it!"

I tried to collect my thoughts, but I was stunned. Throughout, I
had seemed to myself to attend more to the wind and the rain than
to him; even now, I could not separate his voice from those voices,
though those were loud and his was silent.

"Where will you put me?" he asked, presently. "I must be put
somewheres, dear boy."

"To sleep?" said I.

"Yes. And to sleep long and sound," he answered; "for I've been
sea-tossed and sea-washed, months and months."

"My friend and companion," said I, rising from the sofa, "is
absent; you must have his room."

"He won't come back to-morrow; will he?"

"No," said I, answering almost mechanically, in spite of my utmost
efforts; "not to-morrow."

"Because, look'ee here, dear boy," he said, dropping his voice, and
laying a long finger on my breast in an impressive manner, "caution
is necessary."

"How do you mean? Caution?"

"By G - , it's Death!"

"What's death?"

"I was sent for life. It's death to come back. There's been
overmuch coming back of late years, and I should of a certainty be
hanged if took."

Nothing was needed but this; the wretched man, after loading
wretched me with his gold and silver chains for years, had risked
his life to come to me, and I held it there in my keeping! If I had
loved him instead of abhorring him; if I had been attracted to him
by the strongest admiration and affection, instead of shrinking
from him with the strongest repugnance; it could have been no
worse. On the contrary, it would have been better, for his
preservation would then have naturally and tenderly addressed my
heart.

My first care was to close the shutters, so that no light might be
seen from without, and then to close and make fast the doors. While
I did so, he stood at the table drinking rum and eating biscuit;
and when I saw him thus engaged, I saw my convict on the marshes at
his meal again. It almost seemed to me as if he must stoop down
presently, to file at his leg.

When I had gone into Herbert's room, and had shut off any other
communication between it and the staircase than through the room in
which our conversation had been held, I asked him if he would go to
bed? He said yes, but asked me for some of my "gentleman's linen"
to put on in the morning. I brought it out, and laid it ready for
him, and my blood again ran cold when he again took me by both
hands to give me good night.

I got away from him, without knowing how I did it, and mended the
fire in the room where we had been together, and sat down by it,
afraid to go to bed. For an hour or more, I remained too stunned to
think; and it was not until I began to think, that I began fully to
know how wrecked I was, and how the ship in which I had sailed was
gone to pieces.

Miss Havisham's intentions towards me, all a mere dream; Estella
not designed for me; I only suffered in Satis House as a
convenience, a sting for the greedy relations, a model with a
mechanical heart to practise on when no other practice was at hand;
those were the first smarts I had. But, sharpest and deepest pain
of all,--it was for the convict, guilty of I knew not what crimes,
and liable to be taken out of those rooms where I sat thinking, and
hanged at the Old Bailey door, that I had deserted Joe.

I would not have gone back to Joe now, I would not have gone back
to Biddy now, for any consideration; simply, I suppose, because my
sense of my own worthless conduct to them was greater than every
consideration. No wisdom on earth could have given me the comfort
that I should have derived from their simplicity and fidelity; but
I could never, never, undo what I had done.

In every rage of wind and rush of rain, I heard pursuers. Twice, I
could have sworn there was a knocking and whispering at the outer
door. With these fears upon me, I began either to imagine or recall
that I had had mysterious warnings of this man's approach. That,
for weeks gone by, I had passed faces in the streets which I had
thought like his. That these likenesses had grown more numerous,
as he, coming over the sea, had drawn nearer. That his wicked
spirit had somehow sent these messengers to mine, and that now on
this stormy night he was as good as his word, and with me.

Crowding up with these reflections came the reflection that I had
seen him with my childish eyes to be a desperately violent man;
that I had heard that other convict reiterate that he had tried to
murder him; that I had seen him down in the ditch tearing and
fighting like a wild beast. Out of such remembrances I brought into
the light of the fire a half-formed terror that it might not be
safe to be shut up there with him in the dead of the wild solitary
night. This dilated until it filled the room, and impelled me to
take a candle and go in and look at my dreadful burden.

He had rolled a handkerchief round his head, and his face was set
and lowering in his sleep. But he was asleep, and quietly too,
though he had a pistol lying on the pillow. Assured of this, I
softly removed the key to the outside of his door, and turned it on
him before I again sat down by the fire. Gradually I slipped from
the chair and lay on the floor. When I awoke without having parted
in my sleep with the perception of my wretchedness, the clocks of
the Eastward churches were striking five, the candles were wasted

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