Part 6 out of 11
"One day is so like another here," he replied, "that I don't know
without casting it up. However, I come her some time since you
"I could have told you that, Orlick."
"Ah!" said he, drily. "But then you've got to be a scholar."
By this time we had come to the house, where I found his room to be
one just within the side door, with a little window in it looking
on the court-yard. In its small proportions, it was not unlike the
kind of place usually assigned to a gate-porter in Paris. Certain
keys were hanging on the wall, to which he now added the gate-key;
and his patchwork-covered bed was in a little inner division or
recess. The whole had a slovenly confined and sleepy look, like a
cage for a human dormouse: while he, looming dark and heavy in the
shadow of a corner by the window, looked like the human dormouse
for whom it was fitted up - as indeed he was.
"I never saw this room before," I remarked; "but there used to be
no Porter here."
"No," said he; "not till it got about that there was no protection
on the premises, and it come to be considered dangerous, with
convicts and Tag and Rag and Bobtail going up and down. And then I
was recommended to the place as a man who could give another man as
good as he brought, and I took it. It's easier than bellowsing and
hammering. - That's loaded, that is."
My eye had been caught by a gun with a brass bound stock over the
chimney-piece, and his eye had followed mine.
"Well," said I, not desirous of more conversation, "shall I go up
to Miss Havisham?"
"Burn me, if I know!" he retorted, first stretching himself and
then shaking himself; "my orders ends here, young master. I give
this here bell a rap with this here hammer, and you go on along the
passage till you meet somebody."
"I am expected, I believe?"
"Burn me twice over, if I can say!" said he.
Upon that, I turned down the long passage which I had first trodden
in my thick boots, and he made his bell sound. At the end of the
passage, while the bell was still reverberating, I found Sarah
Pocket: who appeared to have now become constitutionally green and
yellow by reason of me.
"Oh!" said she. "You, is it, Mr. Pip?"
"It is, Miss Pocket. I am glad to tell you that Mr. Pocket and
family are all well."
"Are they any wiser?" said Sarah, with a dismal shake of the head;
"they had better be wiser, than well. Ah, Matthew, Matthew! You know
your way, sir?"
Tolerably, for I had gone up the staircase in the dark, many a
time. I ascended it now, in lighter boots than of yore, and tapped
in my old way at the door of Miss Havisham's room. "Pip's rap," I
heard her say, immediately; "come in, Pip."
She was in her chair near the old table, in the old dress, with her
two hands crossed on her stick, her chin resting on them, and her
eyes on the fire. Sitting near her, with the white shoe that had
never been worn, in her hand, and her head bent as she looked at
it, was an elegant lady whom I had never seen.
"Come in, Pip," Miss Havisham continued to mutter, without looking
round or up; "come in, Pip, how do you do, Pip? so you kiss my hand
as if I were a queen, eh? - Well?"
She looked up at me suddenly, only moving her eyes, and repeated in
a grimly playful manner,
"I heard, Miss Havisham," said I, rather at a loss, "that you were
so kind as to wish me to come and see you, and I came directly."
The lady whom I had never seen before, lifted up her eyes and
looked archly at me, and then I saw that the eyes were Estella's
eyes. But she was so much changed, was so much more beautiful, so
much more womanly, in all things winning admiration had made such
wonderful advance, that I seemed to have made none. I fancied, as I
looked at her, that I slipped hopelessly back into the coarse and
common boy again. O the sense of distance and disparity that came
upon me, and the inaccessibility that came about her!
She gave me her hand. I stammered something about the pleasure I
felt in seeing her again, and about my having looked forward to it
for a long, long time.
"Do you find her much changed, Pip?" asked Miss Havisham, with her
greedy look, and striking her stick upon a chair that stood between
them, as a sign to me to sit down there.
"When I came in, Miss Havisham, I thought there was nothing of
Estella in the face or figure; but now it all settles down so
curiously into the old--"
"What? You are not going to say into the old Estella?" Miss
Havisham interrupted. "She was proud and insulting, and you wanted
to go away from her. Don't you remember?"
I said confusedly that that was long ago, and that I knew no better
then, and the like. Estella smiled with perfect composure, and said
she had no doubt of my having been quite right, and of her having
been very disagreeable.
"Is he changed?" Miss Havisham asked her.
"Very much," said Estella, looking at me.
"Less coarse and common?" said Miss Havisham, playing with
Estella laughed, and looked at the shoe in her hand, and laughed
again, and looked at me, and put the shoe down. She treated me as a
boy still, but she lured me on.
We sat in the dreamy room among the old strange influences which
had so wrought upon me, and I learnt that she had but just come
home from France, and that she was going to London. Proud and
wilful as of old, she had brought those qualities into such
subjection to her beauty that it was impossible and out of nature -
or I thought so - to separate them from her beauty. Truly it was
impossible to dissociate her presence from all those wretched
hankerings after money and gentility that had disturbed my boyhood
- from all those ill-regulated aspirations that had first made me
ashamed of home and Joe - from all those visions that had raised
her face in the glowing fire, struck it out of the iron on the
anvil, extracted it from the darkness of night to look in at the
wooden window of the forge and flit away. In a word, it was
impossible for me to separate her, in the past or in the present,
from the innermost life of my life.
It was settled that I should stay there all the rest of the day,
and return to the hotel at night, and to London to-morrow. When we
had conversed for a while, Miss Havisham sent us two out to walk in
the neglected garden: on our coming in by-and-by, she said, I
should wheel her about a little as in times of yore.
So, Estella and I went out into the garden by the gate through
which I had strayed to my encounter with the pale young gentleman,
now Herbert; I, trembling in spirit and worshipping the very hem of
her dress; she, quite composed and most decidedly not worshipping
the hem of mine. As we drew near to the place of encounter, she
stopped and said:
"I must have been a singular little creature to hide and see that
fight that day: but I did, and I enjoyed it very much."
"You rewarded me very much."
"Did I?" she replied, in an incidental and forgetful way. "I
remember I entertained a great objection to your adversary, because
I took it ill that he should be brought here to pester me with his
"He and I are great friends now."
"Are you? I think I recollect though, that you read with his
I made the admission with reluctance, for it seemed to have a
boyish look, and she already treated me more than enough like a
"Since your change of fortune and prospects, you have changed your
companions," said Estella.
"Naturally," said I.
"And necessarily," she added, in a haughty tone; "what was fit
company for you once, would be quite unfit company for you now."
In my conscience, I doubt very much whether I had any lingering
intention left, of going to see Joe; but if I had, this observation
put it to flight.
"You had no idea of your impending good fortune, in those times?"
said Estella, with a slight wave of her hand, signifying in the
"Not the least."
The air of completeness and superiority with which she walked at my
side, and the air of youthfulness and submission with which I
walked at hers, made a contrast that I strongly felt. It would have
rankled in me more than it did, if I had not regarded myself as
eliciting it by being so set apart for her and assigned to her.
The garden was too overgrown and rank for walking in with ease, and
after we had made the round of it twice or thrice, we came out
again into the brewery yard. I showed her to a nicety where I had
seen her walking on the casks, that first old day, and she said,
with a cold and careless look in that direction, "Did I?" I
reminded her where she had come out of the house and given me my
meat and drink, and she said, "I don't remember." "Not remember
that you made me cry?" said I. "No," said she, and shook her head
and looked about her. I verily believe that her not remembering and
not minding in the least, made me cry again, inwardly - and that is
the sharpest crying of all.
"You must know," said Estella, condescending to me as a brilliant
and beautiful woman might, "that I have no heart - if that has
anything to do with my memory."
I got through some jargon to the effect that I took the liberty of
doubting that. That I knew better. That there could be no such
beauty without it.
"Oh! I have a heart to be stabbed in or shot in, I have no doubt,"
said Estella, "and, of course, if it ceased to beat I should cease
to be. But you know what I mean. I have no softness there, no -
sympathy - sentiment - nonsense."
What was it that was borne in upon my mind when she stood still and
looked attentively at me? Anything that I had seen in Miss
Havisham? No. In some of her looks and gestures there was that
tinge of resemblance to Miss Havisham which may often be noticed to
have been acquired by children, from grown person with whom they
have been much associated and secluded, and which, when childhood
is passed, will produce a remarkable occasional likeness of
expression between faces that are otherwise quite different. And
yet I could not trace this to Miss Havisham. I looked again, and
though she was still looking at me, the suggestion was gone.
What was it?
"I am serious," said Estella, not so much with a frown (for her
brow was smooth) as with a darkening of her face; "if we are to be
thrown much together, you had better believe it at once. No!"
imperiously stopping me as I opened my lips. "I have not bestowed
my tenderness anywhere. I have never had any such thing."
In another moment we were in the brewery so long disused, and she
pointed to the high gallery where I had seen her going out on that
same first day, and told me she remembered to have been up there,
and to have seen me standing scared below. As my eyes followed her
white hand, again the same dim suggestion that I could not possibly
grasp, crossed me. My involuntary start occasioned her to lay her
hand upon my arm. Instantly the ghost passed once more, and was
What was it?
"What is the matter?" asked Estella. "Are you scared again?"
"I should be, if I believed what you said just now," I replied, to
turn it off.
"Then you don't? Very well. It is said, at any rate. Miss Havisham
will soon be expecting you at your old post, though I think that
might be laid aside now, with other old belongings. Let us make one
more round of the garden, and then go in. Come! You shall not shed
tears for my cruelty to-day; you shall be my Page, and give me your
Her handsome dress had trailed upon the ground. She held it in one
hand now, and with the other lightly touched my shoulder as we
walked. We walked round the ruined garden twice or thrice more, and
it was all in bloom for me. If the green and yellow growth of weed
in the chinks of the old wall had been the most precious flowers
that ever blew, it could not have been more cherished in my
There was no discrepancy of years between us, to remove her far
from me; we were of nearly the same age, though of course the age
told for more in her case than in mine; but the air of
inaccessibility which her beauty and her manner gave her, tormented
me in the midst of my delight, and at the height of the assurance I
felt that our patroness had chosen us for one another. Wretched
At last we went back into the house, and there I heard, with
surprise, that my guardian had come down to see Miss Havisham on
business, and would come back to dinner. The old wintry branches of
chandeliers in the room where the mouldering table was spread, had
been lighted while we were out, and Miss Havisham was in her chair
and waiting for me.
It was like pushing the chair itself back into the past, when we
began the old slow circuit round about the ashes of the bridal
feast. But, in the funereal room, with that figure of the grave
fallen back in the chair fixing its eyes upon her, Estella looked
more bright and beautiful than before, and I was under stronger
The time so melted away, that our early dinner-hour drew close at
hand, and Estella left us to prepare herself. We had stopped near
the centre of the long table, and Miss Havisham, with one of her
withered arms stretched out of the chair, rested that clenched hand
upon the yellow cloth. As Estella looked back over her shoulder
before going out at the door, Miss Havisham kissed that hand to
her, with a ravenous intensity that was of its kind quite dreadful.
Then, Estella being gone and we two left alone, she turned to me,
and said in a whisper:
"Is she beautiful, graceful, well-grown? Do you admire her?"
"Everybody must who sees her, Miss Havisham."
She drew an arm round my neck, and drew my head close down to hers
as she sat in the chair. "Love her, love her, love her! How does
she use you?"
Before I could answer (if I could have answered so difficult a
question at all), she repeated, "Love her, love her, love her! If
she favours you, love her. If she wounds you, love her. If she
tears your heart to pieces - and as it gets older and stronger, it
will tear deeper - love her, love her, love her!"
Never had I seen such passionate eagerness as was joined to her
utterance of these words. I could feel the muscles of the thin arm
round my neck, swell with the vehemence that possessed her.
"Hear me, Pip! I adopted her to be loved. I bred her and educated
her, to be loved. I developed her into what she is, that she might
be loved. Love her!"
She said the word often enough, and there could be no doubt that
she meant to say it; but if the often repeated word had been hate
instead of love - despair - revenge - dire death - it could not
have sounded from her lips more like a curse.
"I'll tell you," said she, in the same hurried passionate whisper,
"what real love is. It is blind devotion, unquestioning
self-humiliation, utter submission, trust and belief against
yourself and against the whole world, giving up your whole heart
and soul to the smiter - as I did!"
When she came to that, and to a wild cry that followed that, I
caught her round the waist. For she rose up in the chair, in her
shroud of a dress, and struck at the air as if she would as soon
have struck herself against the wall and fallen dead.
All this passed in a few seconds. As I drew her down into her
chair, I was conscious of a scent that I knew, and turning, saw my
guardian in the room.
He always carried (I have not yet mentioned it, I think) a
pocket-handkerchief of rich silk and of imposing proportions, which
was of great value to him in his profession. I have seen him so
terrify a client or a witness by ceremoniously unfolding this
pocket-handkerchief as if he were immediately going to blow his
nose, and then pausing, as if he knew he should not have time to do
it before such client or witness committed himself, that the
self-committal has followed directly, quite as a matter of course.
When I saw him in the room, he had this expressive
pockethandkerchief in both hands, and was looking at us. On meeting
my eye, he said plainly, by a momentary and silent pause in that
attitude, "Indeed? Singular!" and then put the handkerchief to its
right use with wonderful effect.
Miss Havisham had seen him as soon as I, and was (like everybody
else) afraid of him. She made a strong attempt to compose herself,
and stammered that he was as punctual as ever.
"As punctual as ever," he repeated, coming up to us. "(How do you
do, Pip? Shall I give you a ride, Miss Havisham? Once round?)
And so you are here, Pip?"
I told him when I had arrived, and how Miss Havisham had wished me
to come and see Estella. To which he replied, "Ah! Very fine young
lady!" Then he pushed Miss Havisham in her chair before him, with
one of his large hands, and put the other in his trousers-pocket as
if the pocket were full of secrets.
"Well, Pip! How often have you seen Miss Estella before?" said he,
when he came to a stop.
"Ah! How many times? Ten thousand times?"
"Oh! Certainly not so many."
"Jaggers," interposed Miss Havisham, much to my relief; "leave my
Pip alone, and go with him to your dinner."
He complied, and we groped our way down the dark stairs together.
While we were still on our way to those detached apartments across
the paved yard at the back, he asked me how often I had seen Miss
Havisham eat and drink; offering me a breadth of choice, as usual,
between a hundred times and once.
I considered, and said, "Never."
"And never will, Pip," he retorted, with a frowning smile. "She has
never allowed herself to be seen doing either, since she lived this
present life of hers. She wanders about in the night, and then lays
hands on such food as she takes."
"Pray, sir," said I, "may I ask you a question?"
"You may," said he, "and I may decline to answer it. Put your
"Estella's name. Is it Havisham or - ?" I had nothing to add.
"Or what?" said he.
"Is it Havisham?"
"It is Havisham."
This brought us to the dinner-table, where she and Sarah Pocket
awaited us. Mr. Jaggers presided, Estella sat opposite to him, I
faced my green and yellow friend. We dined very well, and were
waited on by a maid-servant whom I had never seen in all my comings
and goings, but who, for anything I know, had been in that
mysterious house the whole time. After dinner, a bottle of choice
old port was placed before my guardian (he was evidently well
acquainted with the vintage), and the two ladies left us.
Anything to equal the determined reticence of Mr. Jaggers under that
roof, I never saw elsewhere, even in him. He kept his very looks to
himself, and scarcely directed his eyes to Estella's face once
during dinner. When she spoke to him, he listened, and in due
course answered, but never looked at her, that I could see. On the
other hand, she often looked at him, with interest and curiosity,
if not distrust, but his face never, showed the least
consciousness. Throughout dinner he took a dry delight in making
Sarah Pocket greener and yellower, by often referring in
conversation with me to my expectations; but here, again, he showed
no consciousness, and even made it appear that he extorted - and
even did extort, though I don't know how - those references out of
my innocent self.
And when he and I were left alone together, he sat with an air upon
him of general lying by in consequence of information he possessed,
that really was too much for me. He cross-examined his very wine
when he had nothing else in hand. He held it between himself and
the candle, tasted the port, rolled it in his mouth, swallowed it,
looked at his glass again, smelt the port, tried it, drank it,
filled again, and cross-examined the glass again, until I was as
nervous as if I had known the wine to be telling him something to
my disadvantage. Three or four times I feebly thought I would start
conversation; but whenever he saw me going to ask him anything, he
looked at me with his glass in his hand, and rolling his wine about
in his mouth, as if requesting me to take notice that it was of no
use, for he couldn't answer.
I think Miss Pocket was conscious that the sight of me involved her
in the danger of being goaded to madness, and perhaps tearing off
her cap - which was a very hideous one, in the nature of a muslin
mop - and strewing the ground with her hair - which assuredly had
never grown on her head. She did not appear when we afterwards went
up to Miss Havisham's room, and we four played at whist. In the
interval, Miss Havisham, in a fantastic way, had put some of the
most beautiful jewels from her dressing-table into Estella's hair,
and about her bosom and arms; and I saw even my guardian look at
her from under his thick eyebrows, and raise them a little, when
her loveliness was before him, with those rich flushes of glitter
and colour in it.
Of the manner and extent to which he took our trumps into custody,
and came out with mean little cards at the ends of hands, before
which the glory of our Kings and Queens was utterly abased, I say
nothing; nor, of the feeling that I had, respecting his looking
upon us personally in the light of three very obvious and poor
riddles that he had found out long ago. What I suffered from, was
the incompatibility between his cold presence and my feelings
towards Estella. It was not that I knew I could never bear to speak
to him about her, that I knew I could never bear to hear him creak
his boots at her, that I knew I could never bear to see him wash
his hands of her; it was, that my admiration should be within a
foot or two of him - it was, that my feelings should be in the same
place with him - that, was the agonizing circumstance.
We played until nine o'clock, and then it was arranged that when
Estella came to London I should be forewarned of her coming and
should meet her at the coach; and then I took leave of her, and
touched her and left her.
My guardian lay at the Boar in the next room to mine. Far into the
night, Miss Havisham's words, "Love her, love her, love her!"
sounded in my ears. I adapted them for my own repetition, and said
to my pillow, "I love her, I love her, I love her!" hundreds of
times. Then, a burst of gratitude came upon me, that she should be
destined for me, once the blacksmith's boy. Then, I thought if she
were, as I feared, by no means rapturously grateful for that
destiny yet, when would she begin to be interested in me? When
should I awaken the heart within her, that was mute and sleeping
Ah me! I thought those were high and great emotions. But I never
thought there was anything low and small in my keeping away from
Joe, because I knew she would be contemptuous of him. It was but a
day gone, and Joe had brought the tears into my eyes; they had soon
dried, God forgive me! soon dried.
After well considering the matter while I was dressing at the Blue
Boar in the morning, I resolved to tell my guardian that I doubted
Orlick's being the right sort of man to fill a post of trust at
Miss Havisham's. "Why, of course he is not the right sort of man,
Pip," said my guardian, comfortably satisfied beforehand on the
general head, "because the man who fills the post of trust never is
the right sort of man." It seemed quite to put him into spirits, to
find that this particular post was not exceptionally held by the
right sort of man, and he listened in a satisfied manner while I
told him what knowledge I had of Orlick. "Very good, Pip," he
observed, when I had concluded, "I'll go round presently, and pay
our friend off." Rather alarmed by this summary action, I was for a
little delay, and even hinted that our friend himself might be
difficult to deal with. "Oh no he won't," said my guardian, making
his pocket-handkerchief-point, with perfect confidence; "I should
like to see him argue the question with me."
As we were going back together to London by the mid-day coach, and
as I breakfasted under such terrors of Pumblechook that I could
scarcely hold my cup, this gave me an opportunity of saying that I
wanted a walk, and that I would go on along the London-road while
Mr. Jaggers was occupied, if he would let the coachman know that I
would get into my place when overtaken. I was thus enabled to fly
from the Blue Boar immediately after breakfast. By then making a
loop of about a couple of miles into the open country at the back
of Pumblechook's premises, I got round into the High-street again,
a little beyond that pitfall, and felt myself in comparative
It was interesting to be in the quiet old town once more, and it
was not disagreeable to be here and there suddenly recognized and
stared after. One or two of the tradespeople even darted out of
their shops and went a little way down the street before me, that
they might turn, as if they had forgotten something, and pass me
face to face - on which occasions I don't know whether they or I
made the worse pretence; they of not doing it, or I of not seeing
it. Still my position was a distinguished one, and I was not at all
dissatisfied with it, until Fate threw me in the way of that
unlimited miscreant, Trabb's boy.
Casting my eyes along the street at a certain point of my progress,
I beheld Trabb's boy approaching, lashing himself with an empty
blue bag. Deeming that a serene and unconscious contemplation of
him would best beseem me, and would be most likely to quell his
evil mind, I advanced with that expression of countenance, and was
rather congratulating myself on my success, when suddenly the knees
of Trabb's boy smote together, his hair uprose, his cap fell off,
he trembled violently in every limb, staggered out into the road,
and crying to the populace, "Hold me! I'm so frightened!" feigned to
be in a paroxysm of terror and contrition, occasioned by the
dignity of my appearance. As I passed him, his teeth loudly
chattered in his head, and with every mark of extreme humiliation,
he prostrated himself in the dust.
This was a hard thing to bear, but this was nothing. I had not
advanced another two hundred yards, when, to my inexpressible
terror, amazement, and indignation, I again beheld Trabb's boy
approaching. He was coming round a narrow corner. His blue bag was
slung over his shoulder, honest industry beamed in his eyes, a
determination to proceed to Trabb's with cheerful briskness was
indicated in his gait. With a shock he became aware of me, and was
severely visited as before; but this time his motion was rotatory,
and he staggered round and round me with knees more afflicted, and
with uplifted hands as if beseeching for mercy. His sufferings were
hailed with the greatest joy by a knot of spectators, and I felt
I had not got as much further down the street as the post-office,
when I again beheld Trabb's boy shooting round by a back way. This
time, he was entirely changed. He wore the blue bag in the manner
of my great-coat, and was strutting along the pavement towards me
on the opposite side of the street, attended by a company of
delighted young friends to whom he from time to time exclaimed,
with a wave of his hand, "Don't know yah!" Words cannot state the
amount of aggravation and injury wreaked upon me by Trabb's boy,
when, passing abreast of me, he pulled up his shirt-collar, twined
his side-hair, stuck an arm akimbo, and smirked extravagantly by,
wriggling his elbows and body, and drawling to his attendants,
"Don't know yah, don't know yah, pon my soul don't know yah!" The
disgrace attendant on his immediately afterwards taking to crowing
and pursuing me across the bridge with crows, as from an
exceedingly dejected fowl who had known me when I was a blacksmith,
culminated the disgrace with which I left the town, and was, so to
speak, ejected by it into the open country.
But unless I had taken the life of Trabb's boy on that occasion, I
really do not even now see what I could have done save endure. To
have struggled with him in the street, or to have exacted any lower
recompense from him than his heart's best blood, would have been
futile and degrading. Moreover, he was a boy whom no man could
hurt; an invulnerable and dodging serpent who, when chased into a
corner, flew out again between his captor's legs, scornfully
yelping. I wrote, however, to Mr. Trabb by next day's post, to say
that Mr. Pip must decline to deal further with one who could so far
forget what he owed to the best interests of society, as to employ
a boy who excited Loathing in every respectable mind.
The coach, with Mr. Jaggers inside, came up in due time, and I took
my box-seat again, and arrived in London safe - but not sound, for
my heart was gone. As soon as I arrived, I sent a penitential
codfish and barrel of oysters to Joe (as reparation for not having
gone myself), and then went on to Barnard's Inn.
I found Herbert dining on cold meat, and delighted to welcome me
back. Having despatched The Avenger to the coffee-house for an
addition to the dinner, I felt that I must open my breast that very
evening to my friend and chum. As confidence was out of the
question with The Avenger in the hall, which could merely be
regarded in the light of an ante-chamber to the keyhole, I sent him
to the Play. A better proof of the severity of my bondage to that
taskmaster could scarcely be afforded, than the degrading shifts to
which I was constantly driven to find him employment. So mean is
extremity, that I sometimes sent him to Hyde Park Corner to see
what o'clock it was.
Dinner done and we sitting with our feet upon the fender, I said to
Herbert, "My dear Herbert, I have something very particular to tell
"My dear Handel," he returned, "I shall esteem and respect your
"It concerns myself, Herbert," said I, "and one other person."
Herbert crossed his feet, looked at the fire with his head on one
side, and having looked at it in vain for some time, looked at me
because I didn't go on.
"Herbert," said I, laying my hand upon his knee, "I love - I adore
Instead of being transfixed, Herbert replied in an easy
matter-ofcourse way, "Exactly. Well?"
"Well, Herbert? Is that all you say? Well?"
"What next, I mean?" said Herbert. "Of course I know that."
"How do you know it?" said I.
"How do I know it, Handel? Why, from you."
"I never told you."
"Told me! You have never told me when you have got your hair cut,
but I have had senses to perceive it. You have always adored her,
ever since I have known you. You brought your adoration and your
portmanteau here, together. Told me! Why, you have always told me
all day long. When you told me your own story, you told me plainly
that you began adoring her the first time you saw her, when you
were very young indeed."
"Very well, then," said I, to whom this was a new and not unwelcome
light, "I have never left off adoring her. And she has come back, a
most beautiful and most elegant creature. And I saw her yesterday.
And if I adored her before, I now doubly adore her."
"Lucky for you then, Handel," said Herbert, "that you are picked
out for her and allotted to her. Without encroaching on forbidden
ground, we may venture to say that there can be no doubt between
ourselves of that fact. Have you any idea yet, of Estella's views
on the adoration question?"
I shook my head gloomily. "Oh! She is thousands of miles away, from
me," said I.
"Patience, my dear Handel: time enough, time enough. But you have
something more to say?"
"I am ashamed to say it," I returned, "and yet it's no worse to say
it than to think it. You call me a lucky fellow. Of course, I am. I
was a blacksmith's boy but yesterday; I am - what shall I say I am
"Say, a good fellow, if you want a phrase," returned Herbert,
smiling, and clapping his hand on the back of mine, "a good fellow,
with impetuosity and hesitation, boldness and diffidence, action
and dreaming, curiously mixed in him."
I stopped for a moment to consider whether there really was this
mixture in my character. On the whole, I by no means recognized the
analysis, but thought it not worth disputing.
"When I ask what I am to call myself to-day, Herbert," I went on,
"I suggest what I have in my thoughts. You say I am lucky. I know I
have done nothing to raise myself in life, and that Fortune alone
has raised me; that is being very lucky. And yet, when I think of
("And when don't you, you know?" Herbert threw in, with his eyes on
the fire; which I thought kind and sympathetic of him.)
" - Then, my dear Herbert, I cannot tell you how dependent and
uncertain I feel, and how exposed to hundreds of chances. Avoiding
forbidden ground, as you did just now, I may still say that on the
constancy of one person (naming no person) all my expectations
depend. And at the best, how indefinite and unsatisfactory, only to
know so vaguely what they are!" In saying this, I relieved my mind
of what had always been there, more or less, though no doubt most
"Now, Handel," Herbert replied, in his gay hopeful way, "it seems
to me that in the despondency of the tender passion, we are looking
into our gift-horse's mouth with a magnifying-glass. Likewise, it
seems to me that, concentrating our attention on the examination,
we altogether overlook one of the best points of the animal. Didn't
you tell me that your guardian, Mr. Jaggers, told you in the
beginning, that you were not endowed with expectations only? And
even if he had not told you so - though that is a very large If, I
grant - could you believe that of all men in London, Mr. Jaggers is
the man to hold his present relations towards you unless he were
sure of his ground?"
I said I could not deny that this was a strong point. I said it
(people often do so, in such cases) like a rather reluctant
concession to truth and justice; - as if I wanted to deny it!
"I should think it was a strong point," said Herbert, "and I should
think you would be puzzled to imagine a stronger; as to the rest,
you must bide your guardian's time, and he must bide his client's
time. You'll be one-and-twenty before you know where you are, and
then perhaps you'll get some further enlightenment. At all events,
you'll be nearer getting it, for it must come at last."
"What a hopeful disposition you have!" said I, gratefully admiring
his cheery ways.
"I ought to have," said Herbert, "for I have not much else. I must
acknowledge, by-the-bye, that the good sense of what I have just
said is not my own, but my father's. The only remark I ever heard
him make on your story, was the final one: "The thing is settled
and done, or Mr. Jaggers would not be in it." And now before I say
anything more about my father, or my father's son, and repay
confidence with confidence, I want to make myself seriously
disagreeable to you for a moment - positively repulsive."
"You won't succeed," said I.
"Oh yes I shall!" said he. "One, two, three, and now I am in for
it. Handel, my good fellow;" though he spoke in this light tone, he
was very much in earnest: "I have been thinking since we have been
talking with our feet on this fender, that Estella surely cannot be
a condition of your inheritance, if she was never referred to by
your guardian. Am I right in so understanding what you have told
me, as that he never referred to her, directly or indirectly, in
any way? Never even hinted, for instance, that your patron might
have views as to your marriage ultimately?"
"Now, Handel, I am quite free from the flavour of sour grapes, upon
my soul and honour! Not being bound to her, can you not detach
yourself from her? - I told you I should be disagreeable."
I turned my head aside, for, with a rush and a sweep, like the old
marsh winds coming up from the sea, a feeling like that which had
subdued me on the morning when I left the forge, when the mists
were solemnly rising, and when I laid my hand upon the village
finger-post, smote upon my heart again. There was silence between
us for a little while.
"Yes; but my dear Handel," Herbert went on, as if we had been
talking instead of silent, "its having been so strongly rooted in
the breast of a boy whom nature and circumstances made so romantic,
renders it very serious. Think of her bringing-up, and think of
Miss Havisham. Think of what she is herself (now I am repulsive and
you abominate me). This may lead to miserable things."
"I know it, Herbert," said I, with my head still turned away, "but
I can't help it."
"You can't detach yourself?"
"You can't try, Handel?"
"Well!" said Herbert, getting up with a lively shake as if he had
been asleep, and stirring the fire; "now I'll endeavour to make
myself agreeable again!"
So he went round the room and shook the curtains out, put the
chairs in their places, tidied the books and so forth that were
lying about, looked into the hall, peeped into the letter-box, shut
the door, and came back to his chair by the fire: where he sat
down, nursing his left leg in both arms.
"I was going to say a word or two, Handel, concerning my father and
my father's son. I am afraid it is scarcely necessary for my
father's son to remark that my father's establishment is not
particularly brilliant in its housekeeping."
"There is always plenty, Herbert," said I: to say something
"Oh yes! and so the dustman says, I believe, with the strongest
approval, and so does the marine-store shop in the back street.
Gravely, Handel, for the subject is grave enough, you know how it
is, as well as I do. I suppose there was a time once when my father
had not given matters up; but if ever there was, the time is gone.
May I ask you if you have ever had an opportunity of remarking,
down in your part of the country, that the children of not exactly
suitable marriages, are always most particularly anxious to be
This was such a singular question, that I asked him in return, "Is
"I don't know," said Herbert, "that's what I want to know. Because
it is decidedly the case with us. My poor sister Charlotte who was
next me and died before she was fourteen, was a striking example.
Little Jane is the same. In her desire to be matrimonially
established, you might suppose her to have passed her short
existence in the perpetual contemplation of domestic bliss. Little
Alick in a frock has already made arrangements for his union with a
suitable young person at Kew. And indeed, I think we are all
engaged, except the baby."
"Then you are?" said I.
"I am," said Herbert; "but it's a secret."
I assured him of my keeping the secret, and begged to be favoured
with further particulars. He had spoken so sensibly and feelingly
of my weakness that I wanted to know something about his strength.
"May I ask the name?" I said.
"Name of Clara," said Herbert.
"Live in London?"
"Yes. perhaps I ought to mention," said Herbert, who had become
curiously crestfallen and meek, since we entered on the interesting
theme, "that she is rather below my mother's nonsensical family
notions. Her father had to do with the victualling of
passenger-ships. I think he was a species of purser."
"What is he now?" said I.
"He's an invalid now," replied Herbert.
"Living on - ?"
"On the first floor," said Herbert. Which was not at all what I
meant, for I had intended my question to apply to his means. "I
have never seen him, for he has always kept his room overhead,
since I have known Clara. But I have heard him constantly. He makes
tremendous rows - roars, and pegs at the floor with some frightful
instrument." In looking at me and then laughing heartily, Herbert
for the time recovered his usual lively manner.
"Don't you expect to see him?" said I.
"Oh yes, I constantly expect to see him," returned Herbert,
"because I never hear him, without expecting him to come tumbling
through the ceiling. But I don't know how long the rafters may
When he had once more laughed heartily, he became meek again, and
told me that the moment he began to realize Capital, it was his
intention to marry this young lady. He added as a self-evident
proposition, engendering low spirits, "But you can't marry, you
know, while you're looking about you."
As we contemplated the fire, and as I thought what a difficult
vision to realize this same Capital sometimes was, I put my hands
in my pockets. A folded piece of paper in one of them attracting my
attention, I opened it and found it to be the playbill I had
received from Joe, relative to the celebrated provincial amateur of
Roscian renown. "And bless my heart," I involuntarily added aloud,
This changed the subject in an instant, and made us hurriedly
resolve to go to the play. So, when I had pledged myself to comfort
and abet Herbert in the affair of his heart by all practicable and
impracticable means, and when Herbert had told me that his
affianced already knew me by reputation and that I should be
presented to her, and when we had warmly shaken hands upon our
mutual confidence, we blew out our candles, made up our fire,
locked our door, and issued forth in quest of Mr. Wopsle and
On our arrival in Denmark, we found the king and queen of that
country elevated in two arm-chairs on a kitchen-table, holding a
Court. The whole of the Danish nobility were in attendance;
consisting of a noble boy in the wash-leather boots of a gigantic
ancestor, a venerable Peer with a dirty face who seemed to have
risen from the people late in life, and the Danish chivalry with a
comb in its hair and a pair of white silk legs, and presenting on
the whole a feminine appearance. My gifted townsman stood gloomily
apart, with folded arms, and I could have wished that his curls and
forehead had been more probable.
Several curious little circumstances transpired as the action
proceeded. The late king of the country not only appeared to have
been troubled with a cough at the time of his decease, but to have
taken it with him to the tomb, and to have brought it back. The
royal phantom also carried a ghostly manuscript round its
truncheon, to which it had the appearance of occasionally
referring, and that, too, with an air of anxiety and a tendency to
lose the place of reference which were suggestive of a state of
mortality. It was this, I conceive, which led to the Shade's being
advised by the gallery to "turn over!" - a recommendation which it
took extremely ill. It was likewise to be noted of this majestic
spirit that whereas it always appeared with an air of having been
out a long time and walked an immense distance, it perceptibly came
from a closely contiguous wall. This occasioned its terrors to be
received derisively. The Queen of Denmark, a very buxom lady,
though no doubt historically brazen, was considered by the public
to have too much brass about her; her chin being attached to her
diadem by a broad band of that metal (as if she had a gorgeous
toothache), her waist being encircled by another, and each of her
arms by another, so that she was openly mentioned as "the
kettledrum." The noble boy in the ancestral boots, was
inconsistent; representing himself, as it were in one breath, as an
able seaman, a strolling actor, a grave-digger, a clergyman, and a
person of the utmost importance at a Court fencing-match, on the
authority of whose practised eye and nice discrimination the finest
strokes were judged. This gradually led to a want of toleration for
him, and even - on his being detected in holy orders, and declining
to perform the funeral service - to the general indignation taking
the form of nuts. Lastly, Ophelia was a prey to such slow musical
madness, that when, in course of time, she had taken off her white
muslin scarf, folded it up, and buried it, a sulky man who had been
long cooling his impatient nose against an iron bar in the front
row of the gallery, growled, "Now the baby's put to bed let's have
supper!" Which, to say the least of it, was out of keeping.
Upon my unfortunate townsman all these incidents accumulated with
playful effect. Whenever that undecided Prince had to ask a
question or state a doubt, the public helped him out with it. As
for example; on the question whether 'twas nobler in the mind to
suffer, some roared yes, and some no, and some inclining to both
opinions said "toss up for it;" and quite a Debating Society arose.
When he asked what should such fellows as he do crawling between
earth and heaven, he was encouraged with loud cries of "Hear,
hear!" When he appeared with his stocking disordered (its disorder
expressed, according to usage, by one very neat fold in the top,
which I suppose to be always got up with a flat iron), a
conversation took place in the gallery respecting the paleness of
his leg, and whether it was occasioned by the turn the ghost had
given him. On his taking the recorders - very like a little black
flute that had just been played in the orchestra and handed out at
the door - he was called upon unanimously for Rule Britannia. When
he recommended the player not to saw the air thus, the sulky man
said, "And don't you do it, neither; you're a deal worse than him!"
And I grieve to add that peals of laughter greeted Mr. Wopsle on
every one of these occasions.
But his greatest trials were in the churchyard: which had the
appearance of a primeval forest, with a kind of small
ecclesiastical wash-house on one side, and a turnpike gate on the
other. Mr. Wopsle in a comprehensive black cloak, being descried
entering at the turnpike, the gravedigger was admonished in a
friendly way, "Look out! Here's the undertaker a-coming, to see how
you're a-getting on with your work!" I believe it is well known in
a constitutional country that Mr. Wopsle could not possibly have
returned the skull, after moralizing over it, without dusting his
fingers on a white napkin taken from his breast; but even that
innocent and indispensable action did not pass without the comment
"Wai-ter!" The arrival of the body for interment (in an empty black
box with the lid tumbling open), was the signal for a general joy
which was much enhanced by the discovery, among the bearers, of an
individual obnoxious to identification. The joy attended Mr. Wopsle
through his struggle with Laertes on the brink of the orchestra and
the grave, and slackened no more until he had tumbled the king off
the kitchen-table, and had died by inches from the ankles upward.
We had made some pale efforts in the beginning to applaud Mr.
Wopsle; but they were too hopeless to be persisted in. Therefore we
had sat, feeling keenly for him, but laughing, nevertheless, from
ear to ear. I laughed in spite of myself all the time, the whole
thing was so droll; and yet I had a latent impression that there
was something decidedly fine in Mr. Wopsle's elocution - not for old
associations' sake, I am afraid, but because it was very slow, very
dreary, very up-hill and down-hill, and very unlike any way in
which any man in any natural circumstances of life or death ever
expressed himself about anything. When the tragedy was over, and he
had been called for and hooted, I said to Herbert, "Let us go at
once, or perhaps we shall meet him."
We made all the haste we could down-stairs, but we were not quick
enough either. Standing at the door was a Jewish man with an
unnatural heavy smear of eyebrow, who caught my eyes as we
advanced, and said, when we came up with him:
"Mr. Pip and friend?"
Identity of Mr. Pip and friend confessed.
"Mr. Waldengarver," said the man, "would be glad to have the
"Waldengarver?" I repeated - when Herbert murmured in my ear,
"Oh!" said I. "Yes. Shall we follow you?"
"A few steps, please." When we were in a side alley, he turned and
asked, "How did you think he looked? - I dressed him."
I don't know what he had looked like, except a funeral; with the
addition of a large Danish sun or star hanging round his neck by a
blue ribbon, that had given him the appearance of being insured in
some extraordinary Fire Office. But I said he had looked very nice.
"When he come to the grave," said our conductor, "he showed his
cloak beautiful. But, judging from the wing, it looked to me that
when he see the ghost in the queen's apartment, he might have made
more of his stockings."
I modestly assented, and we all fell through a little dirty swing
door, into a sort of hot packing-case immediately behind it. Here
Mr. Wopsle was divesting himself of his Danish garments, and here
there was just room for us to look at him over one another's
shoulders, by keeping the packing-case door, or lid, wide open.
"Gentlemen," said Mr. Wopsle, "I am proud to see you. I hope, Mr.
Pip, you will excuse my sending round. I had the happiness to know
you in former times, and the Drama has ever had a claim which has
ever been acknowledged, on the noble and the affluent."
Meanwhile, Mr. Waldengarver, in a frightful perspiration, was trying
to get himself out of his princely sables.
"Skin the stockings off, Mr. Waldengarver," said the owner of that
property, "or you'll bust 'em. Bust 'em, and you'll bust
five-and-thirty shillings. Shakspeare never was complimented with a
finer pair. Keep quiet in your chair now, and leave 'em to me."
With that, he went upon his knees, and began to flay his victim;
who, on the first stocking coming off, would certainly have fallen
over backward with his chair, but for there being no room to fall
I had been afraid until then to say a word about the play. But
then, Mr. Waldengarver looked up at us complacently, and said:
"Gentlemen, how did it seem to you, to go, in front?"
Herbert said from behind (at the same time poking me), "capitally."
So I said "capitally."
"How did you like my reading of the character, gentlemen?" said Mr.
Waldengarver, almost, if not quite, with patronage.
Herbert said from behind (again poking me), "massive and concrete."
So I said boldly, as if I had originated it, and must beg to insist
upon it, "massive and concrete."
"I am glad to have your approbation, gentlemen," said Mr.
Waldengarver, with an air of dignity, in spite of his being ground
against the wall at the time, and holding on by the seat of the
"But I'll tell you one thing, Mr. Waldengarver," said the man who
was on his knees, "in which you're out in your reading. Now mind! I
don't care who says contrairy; I tell you so. You're out in your
reading of Hamlet when you get your legs in profile. The last
Hamlet as I dressed, made the same mistakes in his reading at
rehearsal, till I got him to put a large red wafer on each of his
shins, and then at that rehearsal (which was the last) I went in
front, sir, to the back of the pit, and whenever his reading
brought him into profile, I called out "I don't see no wafers!" And
at night his reading was lovely."
Mr. Waldengarver smiled at me, as much as to say "a faithful
dependent - I overlook his folly;" and then said aloud, "My view is
a little classic and thoughtful for them here; but they will
improve, they will improve."
Herbert and I said together, Oh, no doubt they would improve.
"Did you observe, gentlemen," said Mr. Waldengarver, "that there was
a man in the gallery who endeavoured to cast derision on the
service - I mean, the representation?"
We basely replied that we rather thought we had noticed such a man.
I added, "He was drunk, no doubt."
"Oh dear no, sir," said Mr. Wopsle, "not drunk. His employer would
see to that, sir. His employer would not allow him to be drunk."
"You know his employer?" said I.
Mr. Wopsle shut his eyes, and opened them again; performing both
ceremonies very slowly. "You must have observed, gentlemen," said
he, "an ignorant and a blatant ass, with a rasping throat and a
countenance expressive of low malignity, who went through - I will
not say sustained - the role (if I may use a French expression) of
Claudius King of Denmark. That is his employer, gentlemen. Such is
Without distinctly knowing whether I should have been more sorry
for Mr. Wopsle if he had been in despair, I was so sorry for him as
it was, that I took the opportunity of his turning round to have
his braces put on - which jostled us out at the doorway - to ask
Herbert what he thought of having him home to supper? Herbert said
he thought it would be kind to do so; therefore I invited him, and
he went to Barnard's with us, wrapped up to the eyes, and we did
our best for him, and he sat until two o'clock in the morning,
reviewing his success and developing his plans. I forget in detail
what they were, but I have a general recollection that he was to
begin with reviving the Drama, and to end with crushing it;
inasmuch as his decease would leave it utterly bereft and without a
chance or hope.
Miserably I went to bed after all, and miserably thought of
Estella, and miserably dreamed that my expectations were all
cancelled, and that I had to give my hand in marriage to Herbert's
Clara, or play Hamlet to Miss Havisham's Ghost, before twenty
thousand people, without knowing twenty words of it.
One day when I was busy with my books and Mr. Pocket, I received a
note by the post, the mere outside of which threw me into a great
flutter; for, though I had never seen the handwriting in which it
was addressed, I divined whose hand it was. It had no set
beginning, as Dear Mr. Pip, or Dear Pip, or Dear Sir, or Dear
Anything, but ran thus:
"I am to come to London the day after to-morrow by the mid-day
coach. I believe it was settled you should meet me? At all events
Miss Havisham has that impression, and I write in obedience to it.
She sends you her regard.
If there had been time, I should probably have ordered several
suits of clothes for this occasion; but as there was not, I was
fain to be content with those I had. My appetite vanished
instantly, and I knew no peace or rest until the day arrived. Not
that its arrival brought me either; for, then I was worse than ever,
and began haunting the coach-office in wood-street, Cheapside,
before the coach had left the Blue Boar in our town. For all that I
knew this perfectly well, I still felt as if it were not safe to
let the coach-office be out of my sight longer than five minutes at
a time; and in this condition of unreason I had performed the first
half-hour of a watch of four or five hours, when Wemmick ran
"Halloa, Mr. Pip," said he; "how do you do? I should hardly have
thought this was your beat."
I explained that I was waiting to meet somebody who was coming up
by coach, and I inquired after the Castle and the Aged.
"Both flourishing thankye," said Wemmick, "and particularly the
Aged. He's in wonderful feather. He'll be eighty-two next birthday.
I have a notion of firing eighty-two times, if the neighbourhood
shouldn't complain, and that cannon of mine should prove equal to
the pressure. However, this is not London talk. where do you think
I am going to?"
"To the office?" said I, for he was tending in that direction.
"Next thing to it," returned Wemmick, "I am going to Newgate. We
are in a banker's-parcel case just at present, and I have been down
the road taking as squint at the scene of action, and thereupon
must have a word or two with our client."
"Did your client commit the robbery?" I asked.
"Bless your soul and body, no," answered Wemmick, very drily. "But
he is accused of it. So might you or I be. Either of us might be
accused of it, you know."
"Only neither of us is," I remarked.
"Yah!" said Wemmick, touching me on the breast with his forefinger;
"you're a deep one, Mr. Pip! Would you like to have a look at
Newgate? Have you time to spare?"
I had so much time to spare, that the proposal came as a relief,
notwithstanding its irreconcilability with my latent desire to keep
my eye on the coach-office. Muttering that I would make the inquiry
whether I had time to walk with him, I went into the office, and
ascertained from the clerk with the nicest precision and much to
the trying of his temper, the earliest moment at which the coach
could be expected - which I knew beforehand, quite as well as he. I
then rejoined Mr. Wemmick, and affecting to consult my watch and to
be surprised by the information I had received, accepted his offer.
We were at Newgate in a few minutes, and we passed through the
lodge where some fetters were hanging up on the bare walls among
the prison rules, into the interior of the jail. At that time,
jails were much neglected, and the period of exaggerated reaction
consequent on all public wrong-doing - and which is always its
heaviest and longest punishment - was still far off. So, felons
were not lodged and fed better than soldiers (to say nothing of
paupers), and seldom set fire to their prisons with the excusable
object of improving the flavour of their soup. It was visiting time
when Wemmick took me in; and a potman was going his rounds with
beer; and the prisoners, behind bars in yards, were buying beer,
and talking to friends; and a frouzy, ugly, disorderly, depressing
scene it was.
It struck me that Wemmick walked among the prisoners, much as a
gardener might walk among his plants. This was first put into my
head by his seeing a shoot that had come up in the night, and
saying, "What, Captain Tom? Are you there? Ah, indeed!" and also,
"Is that Black Bill behind the cistern? Why I didn't look for you
these two months; how do you find yourself?" Equally in his
stopping at the bars and attending to anxious whisperers - always
singly - Wemmick with his post-office in an immovable state, looked
at them while in conference, as if he were taking particular notice
of the advance they had made, since last observed, towards coming
out in full blow at their trial.
He was highly popular, and I found that he took the familiar
department of Mr. Jaggers's business: though something of the state
of Mr. Jaggers hung about him too, forbidding approach beyond
certain limits. His personal recognition of each successive client
was comprised in a nod, and in his settling his hat a little easier
on his head with both hands, and then tightening the postoffice,
and putting his hands in his pockets. In one or two instances,
there was a difficulty respecting the raising of fees, and then Mr.
Wemmick, backing as far as possible from the insufficient money
produced, said, "it's no use, my boy. I'm only a subordinate. I
can't take it. Don't go on in that way with a subordinate. If you
are unable to make up your quantum, my boy, you had better address
yourself to a principal; there are plenty of principals in the
profession, you know, and what is not worth the while of one, may
be worth the while of another; that's my recommendation to you,
speaking as a subordinate. Don't try on useless measures. Why
should you? Now, who's next?"
Thus, we walked through Wemmick's greenhouse, until he turned to me
and said, "Notice the man I shall shake hands with." I should have
done so, without the preparation, as he had shaken hands with no
Almost as soon as he had spoken, a portly upright man (whom I can
see now, as I write) in a well-worn olive-coloured frock-coat, with
a peculiar pallor over-spreading the red in his complexion, and
eyes that went wandering about when he tried to fix them, came up
to a corner of the bars, and put his hand to his hat - which had a
greasy and fatty surface like cold broth - with a half-serious and
half-jocose military salute.
"Colonel, to you!" said Wemmick; "how are you, Colonel?"
"All right, Mr. Wemmick."
"Everything was done that could be done, but the evidence was too
strong for us, Colonel."
"Yes, it was too strong, sir - but I don't care."
"No, no," said Wemmick, coolly, "you don't care." Then, turning to
me, "Served His Majesty this man. Was a soldier in the line and
bought his discharge."
I said, "Indeed?" and the man's eyes looked at me, and then looked
over my head, and then looked all round me, and then he drew his
hand across his lips and laughed.
"I think I shall be out of this on Monday, sir," he said to
"Perhaps," returned my friend, "but there's no knowing."
"I am glad to have the chance of bidding you good-bye, Mr. Wemmick,"
said the man, stretching out his hand between two bars.
"Thankye," said Wemmick, shaking hands with him. "Same to you,
"If what I had upon me when taken, had been real, Mr. Wemmick," said
the man, unwilling to let his hand go, "I should have asked the
favour of your wearing another ring - in acknowledgment of your
"I'll accept the will for the deed," said Wemmick. "By-the-bye; you
were quite a pigeon-fancier." The man looked up at the sky. "I am
told you had a remarkable breed of tumblers. could you commission
any friend of yours to bring me a pair, of you've no further use
"It shall be done, sir?"
"All right," said Wemmick, "they shall be taken care of. Good
afternoon, Colonel. Good-bye!" They shook hands again, and as we
walked away Wemmick said to me, "A Coiner, a very good workman. The
Recorder's report is made to-day, and he is sure to be executed on
Monday. Still you see, as far as it goes, a pair of pigeons are
portable property, all the same." With that, he looked back, and
nodded at this dead plant, and then cast his eyes about him in
walking out of the yard, as if he were considering what other pot
would go best in its place.
As we came out of the prison through the lodge, I found that the
great importance of my guardian was appreciated by the turnkeys, no
less than by those whom they held in charge. "Well, Mr. Wemmick,"
said the turnkey, who kept us between the two studded and spiked
lodge gates, and who carefully locked one before he unlocked the
other, "what's Mr. Jaggers going to do with that waterside murder?
Is he going to make it manslaughter, or what's he going to make of
"Why don't you ask him?" returned Wemmick.
"Oh yes, I dare say!" said the turnkey.
"Now, that's the way with them here. Mr. Pip," remarked Wemmick,
turning to me with his post-office elongated. "They don't mind what
they ask of me, the subordinate; but you'll never catch 'em asking
any questions of my principal."
"Is this young gentleman one of the 'prentices or articled ones of
your office?" asked the turnkey, with a grin at Mr. Wemmick's
"There he goes again, you see!" cried Wemmick, "I told you so! Asks
another question of the subordinate before his first is dry! Well,
supposing Mr. Pip is one of them?"
"Why then," said the turnkey, grinning again, "he knows what Mr.
"Yah!" cried Wemmick, suddenly hitting out at the turnkey in a
facetious way, "you're dumb as one of your own keys when you have
to do with my principal, you know you are. Let us out, you old fox,
or I'll get him to bring an action against you for false
The turnkey laughed, and gave us good day, and stood laughing at us
over the spikes of the wicket when we descended the steps into the
"Mind you, Mr. Pip," said Wemmick, gravely in my ear, as he took my
arm to be more confidential; "I don't know that Mr. Jaggers does a
better thing than the way in which he keeps himself so high. He's
always so high. His constant height is of a piece with his immense
abilities. That Colonel durst no more take leave of him, than that
turnkey durst ask him his intentions respecting a case. Then,
between his height and them, he slips in his subordinate - don't
you see? - and so he has 'em, soul and body."
I was very much impressed, and not for the first time, by my
guardian's subtlety. To confess the truth, I very heartily wished,
and not for the first time, that I had had some other guardian of
Mr. Wemmick and I parted at the office in Little Britain, where
suppliants for Mr. Jaggers's notice were lingering about as usual,
and I returned to my watch in the street of the coach-office, with
some three hours on hand. I consumed the whole time in thinking how
strange it was that I should be encompassed by all this taint of
prison and crime; that, in my childhood out on our lonely marshes
on a winter evening I should have first encountered it; that, it
should have reappeared on two occasions, starting out like a stain
that was faded but not gone; that, it should in this new way
pervade my fortune and advancement. While my mind was thus engaged,
I thought of the beautiful young Estella, proud and refined, coming
towards me, and I thought with absolute abhorrence of the contrast
between the jail and her. I wished that Wemmick had not met me, or
that I had not yielded to him and gone with him, so that, of all
days in the year on this day, I might not have had Newgate in my
breath and on my clothes. I beat the prison dust off my feet as I
sauntered to and fro, and I shook it out of my dress, and I exhaled
its air from my lungs. So contaminated did I feel, remembering who
was coming, that the coach came quickly after all, and I was not
yet free from the soiling consciousness of Mr. Wemmick's
conservatory, when I saw her face at the coach window and her hand
waving to me.
What was the nameless shadow which again in that one instant had
In her furred travelling-dress, Estella seemed more delicately
beautiful than she had ever seemed yet, even in my eyes. Her manner
was more winning than she had cared to let it be to me before, and
I thought I saw Miss Havisham's influence in the change.
We stood in the Inn Yard while she pointed out her luggage to me,
and when it was all collected I remembered - having forgotten
everything but herself in the meanwhile - that I knew nothing of
"I am going to Richmond," she told me. "Our lesson is, that there
are two Richmonds, one in Surrey and one in Yorkshire, and that mine
is the Surrey Richmond. The distance is ten miles. I am to have a
carriage, and you are to take me. This is my purse, and you are to
pay my charges out of it. Oh, you must take the purse! We have no
choice, you and I, but to obey our instructions. We are not free to
follow our own devices, you and I."
As she looked at me in giving me the purse, I hoped there was an
inner meaning in her words. She said them slightingly, but not with
"A carriage will have to be sent for, Estella. Will you rest here a
"Yes, I am to rest here a little, and I am to drink some tea, and
you are to take care of me the while."
She drew her arm through mine, as if it must be done, and I
requested a waiter who had been staring at the coach like a man who
had never seen such a thing in his life, to show us a private
sitting-room. Upon that, he pulled out a napkin, as if it were a
magic clue without which he couldn't find the way up-stairs, and
led us to the black hole of the establishment: fitted up with a
diminishing mirror (quite a superfluous article considering the
hole's proportions), an anchovy sauce-cruet, and somebody's
pattens. On my objecting to this retreat, he took us into another
room with a dinner-table for thirty, and in the grate a scorched
leaf of a copy-book under a bushel of coal-dust. Having looked at
this extinct conflagration and shaken his head, he took my order:
which, proving to be merely "Some tea for the lady," sent him out
of the room in a very low state of mind.
I was, and I am, sensible that the air of this chamber, in its
strong combination of stable with soup-stock, might have led one to
infer that the coaching department was not doing well, and that the
enterprising proprietor was boiling down the horses for the
refreshment department. Yet the room was all in all to me, Estella
being in it. I thought that with her I could have been happy there
for life. (I was not at all happy there at the time, observe, and I
knew it well.)
"Where are you going to, at Richmond?" I asked Estella.
"I am going to live," said she, "at a great expense, with a lady
there, who has the power - or says she has - of taking me about,
and introducing me, and showing people to me and showing me to
"I suppose you will be glad of variety and admiration?"
"Yes, I suppose so."
She answered so carelessly, that I said, "You speak of yourself as
if you were some one else."
"Where did you learn how I speak of others? Come, come," said
Estella, smiling delightfully, "you must not expect me to go to
school to you; I must talk in my own way. How do you thrive with
"I live quite pleasantly there; at least--" It appeared to me that
I was losing a chance.
"At least?" repeated Estella.
"As pleasantly as I could anywhere, away from you."
"You silly boy," said Estella, quite composedly, "how can you talk
such nonsense? Your friend Mr. Matthew, I believe, is superior to
the rest of his family?"
"Very superior indeed. He is nobody's enemy--"
"Don't add but his own," interposed Estella, "for I hate that class
of man. But he really is disinterested, and above small jealousy
and spite, I have heard?"
"I am sure I have every reason to say so."
"You have not every reason to say so of the rest of his people,"
said Estella, nodding at me with an expression of face that was at
once grave and rallying, "for they beset Miss Havisham with reports
and insinuations to your disadvantage. They watch you, misrepresent
you, write letters about you (anonymous sometimes), and you are the
torment and the occupation of their lives. You can scarcely realize
to yourself the hatred those people feel for you."
"They do me no harm, I hope?"
Instead of answering, Estella burst out laughing. This was very
singular to me, and I looked at her in considerable perplexity.
When she left off - and she had not laughed languidly, but with
real enjoyment - I said, in my diffident way with her:
"I hope I may suppose that you would not be amused if they did me
"No, no you may be sure of that," said Estella. "You may be certain
that I laugh because they fail. Oh, those people with Miss
Havisham, and the tortures they undergo!" She laughed again, and
even now when she had told me why, her laughter was very singular
to me, for I could not doubt its being genuine, and yet it seemed
too much for the occasion. I thought there must really be something
more here than I knew; she saw the thought in my mind, and answered
"It is not easy for even you." said Estella, "to know what
satisfaction it gives me to see those people thwarted, or what an
enjoyable sense of the ridiculous I have when they are made
ridiculous. For you were not brought up in that strange house from
a mere baby. - I was. You had not your little wits sharpened by
their intriguing against you, suppressed and defenceless, under the
mask of sympathy and pity and what not that is soft and soothing. -
I had. You did not gradually open your round childish eyes wider
and wider to the discovery of that impostor of a woman who
calculates her stores of peace of mind for when she wakes up in the
night. - I did."
It was no laughing matter with Estella now, nor was she summoning
these remembrances from any shallow place. I would not have been
the cause of that look of hers, for all my expectations in a heap.
"Two things I can tell you," said Estella. "First, notwithstanding
the proverb that constant dropping will wear away a stone, you may
set your mind at rest that these people never will - never would,
in hundred years - impair your ground with Miss Havisham, in any
particular, great or small. Second, I am beholden to you as the
cause of their being so busy and so mean in vain, and there is my
hand upon it."
As she gave it me playfully - for her darker mood had been but
momentary - I held it and put it to my lips. "You ridiculous boy,"
said Estella, "will you never take warning? Or do you kiss my hand
in the same spirit in which I once let you kiss my cheek?"
"What spirit was that?" said I.
"I must think a moment A spirit of contempt for the fawners and
"If I say yes, may I kiss the cheek again?"
"You should have asked before you touched the hand. But, yes, if
I leaned down, and her calm face was like a statue's. "Now," said
Estella, gliding away the instant I touched her cheek, "you are to
take care that I have some tea, and you are to take me to
Her reverting to this tone as if our association were forced upon
us and we were mere puppets, gave me pain; but everything in our
intercourse did give me pain. Whatever her tone with me happened to
be, I could put no trust in it, and build no hope on it; and yet I
went on against trust and against hope. Why repeat it a thousand
times? So it always was.
I rang for the tea, and the waiter, reappearing with his magic
clue, brought in by degrees some fifty adjuncts to that refreshment
but of tea not a glimpse. A teaboard, cups and saucers, plates,
knives and forks (including carvers), spoons (various),
saltcellars, a meek little muffin confined with the utmost
precaution under a strong iron cover, Moses in the bullrushes
typified by a soft bit of butter in a quantity of parsley, a pale
loaf with a powdered head, two proof impressions of the bars of the
kitchen fire-place on triangular bits of bread, and ultimately a
fat family urn: which the waiter staggered in with, expressing in
his countenance burden and suffering. After a prolonged absence at
this stage of the entertainment, he at length came back with a
casket of precious appearance containing twigs. These I steeped in
hot water, and so from the whole of these appliances extracted one
cup of I don't know what, for Estella.
The bill paid, and the waiter remembered, and the ostler not
forgotten, and the chambermaid taken into consideration - in a
word, the whole house bribed into a state of contempt and
animosity, and Estella's purse much lightened - we got into our
post-coach and drove away. Turning into Cheapside and rattling up
Newgate-street, we were soon under the walls of which I was so
"What place is that?" Estella asked me.
I made a foolish pretence of not at first recognizing it, and then
told her. As she looked at it, and drew in her head again,
murmuring "Wretches!" I would not have confessed to my visit for
"Mr. Jaggers," said I, by way of putting it neatly on somebody else,
"has the reputation of being more in the secrets of that dismal
place than any man in London."
"He is more in the secrets of every place, I think," said Estella,
in a low voice.
"You have been accustomed to see him often, I suppose?"
"I have been accustomed to see him at uncertain intervals, ever
since I can remember. But I know him no better now, than I did
before I could speak plainly. What is your own experience of him?
Do you advance with him?"
"Once habituated to his distrustful manner," said I, "I have done
"Are you intimate?"
"I have dined with him at his private house."
"I fancy," said Estella, shrinking "that must be a curious place."
"It is a curious place."
I should have been chary of discussing my guardian too freely even
with her; but I should have gone on with the subject so far as to
describe the dinner in Gerrard-street, if we had not then come into
a sudden glare of gas. It seemed, while it lasted, to be all alight
and alive with that inexplicable feeling I had had before; and when
we were out of it, I was as much dazed for a few moments as if I
had been in Lightning.
So, we fell into other talk, and it was principally about the way
by which we were travelling, and about what parts of London lay on
this side of it, and what on that. The great city was almost new to
her, she told me, for she had never left Miss Havisham's
neighbourhood until she had gone to France, and she had merely
passed through London then in going and returning. I asked her if
my guardian had any charge of her while she remained here? To that
she emphatically said "God forbid!" and no more.
It was impossible for me to avoid seeing that she cared to attract
me; that she made herself winning; and would have won me even if
the task had needed pains. Yet this made me none the happier, for,
even if she had not taken that tone of our being disposed of by
others, I should have felt that she held my heart in her hand
because she wilfully chose to do it, and not because it would have
wrung any tenderness in her, to crush it and throw it away.
When we passed through Hammersmith, I showed her where Mr. Matthew
Pocket lived, and said it was no great way from Richmond, and that
I hoped I should see her sometimes.
"Oh yes, you are to see me; you are to come when you think proper;
you are to be mentioned to the family; indeed you are already
I inquired was it a large household she was going to be a member
"No; there are only two; mother and daughter. The mother is a lady
of some station, though not averse to increasing her income."
"I wonder Miss Havisham could part with you again so soon."
"It is a part of Miss Havisham's plans for me, Pip," said Estella,
with a sigh, as if she were tired; "I am to write to her constantly
and see her regularly and report how I go on - I and the jewels -
for they are nearly all mine now."
It was the first time she had ever called me by my name. Of course
she did so, purposely, and knew that I should treasure it up.
We came to Richmond all too soon, and our destination there, was a
house by the Green; a staid old house, where hoops and powder and
patches, embroidered coats rolled stockings ruffles and swords, had
had their court days many a time. Some ancient trees before the
house were still cut into fashions as formal and unnatural as the
hoops and wigs and stiff skirts; but their own allotted places in
the great procession of the dead were not far off, and they would
soon drop into them and go the silent way of the rest.
A bell with an old voice - which I dare say in its time had often
said to the house, Here is the green farthingale, Here is the
diamondhilted sword, Here are the shoes with red heels and the blue
solitaire, - sounded gravely in the moonlight, and two
cherrycoloured maids came fluttering out to receive Estella. The
doorway soon absorbed her boxes, and she gave me her hand and a
smile, and said good night, and was absorbed likewise. And still I
stood looking at the house, thinking how happy I should be if I
lived there with her, and knowing that I never was happy with her,
but always miserable.
I got into the carriage to be taken back to Hammersmith, and I got
in with a bad heart-ache, and I got out with a worse heart-ache. At
our own door, I found little Jane Pocket coming home from a little
party escorted by her little lover; and I envied her little lover,
in spite of his being subject to Flopson.
Mr. Pocket was out lecturing; for, he was a most delightful lecturer
on domestic economy, and his treatises on the management of
children and servants were considered the very best text-books on
those themes. But, Mrs. Pocket was at home, and was in a little
difficulty, on account of the baby's having been accommodated with
a needle-case to keep him quiet during the unaccountable absence
(with a relative in the Foot Guards) of Millers. And more needles
were missing, than it could be regarded as quite wholesome for a
patient of such tender years either to apply externally or to take
as a tonic.
Mr. Pocket being justly celebrated for giving most excellent
practical advice, and for having a clear and sound perception of
things and a highly judicious mind, I had some notion in my
heartache of begging him to accept my confidence. But, happening to
look up at Mrs. Pocket as she sat reading her book of dignities
after prescribing Bed as a sovereign remedy for baby, I thought -
Well - No, I wouldn't.
As I had grown accustomed to my expectations, I had insensibly
begun to notice their effect upon myself and those around me. Their
influence on my own character, I disguised from my recognition as
much as possible, but I knew very well that it was not all good. I
lived in a state of chronic uneasiness respecting my behaviour to
Joe. My conscience was not by any means comfortable about Biddy.
When I woke up in the night - like Camilla - I used to think, with
a weariness on my spirits, that I should have been happier and
better if I had never seen Miss Havisham's face, and had risen to
manhood content to be partners with Joe in the honest old forge.
Many a time of an evening, when I sat alone looking at the fire, I
thought, after all, there was no fire like the forge fire and the
kitchen fire at home.
Yet Estella was so inseparable from all my restlessness and
disquiet of mind, that I really fell into confusion as to the
limits of my own part in its production. That is to say, supposing
I had had no expectations, and yet had had Estella to think of, I
could not make out to my satisfaction that I should have done much
better. Now, concerning the influence of my position on others, I
was in no such difficulty, and so I perceived - though dimly enough
perhaps - that it was not beneficial to anybody, and, above all,
that it was not beneficial to Herbert. My lavish habits led his
easy nature into expenses that he could not afford, corrupted the
simplicity of his life, and disturbed his peace with anxieties and
regrets. I was not at all remorseful for having unwittingly set
those other branches of the Pocket family to the poor arts they
practised: because such littlenesses were their natural bent, and
would have been evoked by anybody else, if I had left them
slumbering. But Herbert's was a very different case, and it often
caused me a twinge to think that I had done him evil service in
crowding his sparely-furnished chambers with incongruous upholstery
work, and placing the canary-breasted Avenger at his disposal.
So now, as an infallible way of making little ease great ease, I
began to contract a quantity of debt. I could hardly begin but
Herbert must begin too, so he soon followed. At Startop's
suggestion, we put ourselves down for election into a club called
The Finches of the Grove: the object of which institution I have
never divined, if it were not that the members should dine
expensively once a fortnight, to quarrel among themselves as much
as possible after dinner, and to cause six waiters to get drunk on
the stairs. I Know that these gratifying social ends were so
invariably accomplished, that Herbert and I understood nothing else
to be referred to in the first standing toast of the society: which
ran "Gentlemen, may the present promotion of good feeling ever
reign predominant among the Finches of the Grove."
The Finches spent their money foolishly (the Hotel we dined at was
in Covent-garden), and the first Finch I saw, when I had the honour
of joining the Grove, was Bentley Drummle: at that time floundering
about town in a cab of his own, and doing a great deal of damage to
the posts at the street corners. Occasionally, he shot himself out
of his equipage head-foremost over the apron; and I saw him on one
occasion deliver himself at the door of the Grove in this
unintentional way - like coals. But here I anticipate a little for
I was not a Finch, and could not be, according to the sacred laws
of the society, until I came of age.
In my confidence in my own resources, I would willingly have taken
Herbert's expenses on myself; but Herbert was proud, and I could
make no such proposal to him. So, he got into difficulties in every
direction, and continued to look about him. When we gradually fell
into keeping late hours and late company, I noticed that he looked
about him with a desponding eye at breakfast-time; that he began to
look about him more hopefully about mid-day; that he drooped when
he came into dinner; that he seemed to descry Capital in the
distance rather clearly, after dinner; that he all but realized
Capital towards midnight; and that at about two o'clock in the
morning, he became so deeply despondent again as to talk of buying
a rifle and going to America, with a general purpose of compelling
buffaloes to make his fortune.
I was usually at Hammersmith about half the week, and when I was at
Hammersmith I haunted Richmond: whereof separately by-and-by.
Herbert would often come to Hammersmith when I was there, and I
think at those seasons his father would occasionally have some
passing perception that the opening he was looking for, had not
appeared yet. But in the general tumbling up of the family, his
tumbling out in life somewhere, was a thing to transact itself
somehow. In the meantime Mr. Pocket grew greyer, and tried oftener
to lift himself out of his perplexities by the hair. While Mrs.
Pocket tripped up the family with her footstool, read her book of
dignities, lost her pocket-handkerchief, told us about her
grandpapa, and taught the young idea how to shoot, by shooting it
into bed whenever it attracted her notice.
As I am now generalizing a period of my life with the object of
clearing my way before me, I can scarcely do so better than by at
once completing the description of our usual manners and customs at
We spent as much money as we could, and got as little for it as
people could make up their minds to give us. We were always more or
less miserable, and most of our acquaintance were in the same
condition. There was a gay fiction among us that we were constantly
enjoying ourselves, and a skeleton truth that we never did. To the
best of my belief, our case was in the last aspect a rather common
Every morning, with an air ever new, Herbert went into the City to
look about him. I often paid him a visit in the dark back-room in
which he consorted with an ink-jar, a hat-peg, a coal-box, a
string-box, an almanack, a desk and stool, and a ruler; and I do
not remember that I ever saw him do anything else but look about
him. If we all did what we undertake to do, as faithfully as
Herbert did, we might live in a Republic of the Virtues. He had
nothing else to do, poor fellow, except at a certain hour of every
afternoon to "go to Lloyd's" - in observance of a ceremony of
seeing his principal, I think. He never did anything else in
connexion with Lloyd's that I could find out, except come back
again. When he felt his case unusually serious, and that he
positively must find an opening, he would go on 'Change at a busy
time, and walk in and out, in a kind of gloomy country dance
figure, among the assembled magnates. "For," says Herbert to me,
coming home to dinner on one of those special occasions, "I find
the truth to be, Handel, that an opening won't come to one, but one
must go to it - so I have been."
If we had been less attached to one another, I think we must have
hated one another regularly every morning. I detested the chambers
beyond expression at that period of repentance, and could not
endure the sight of the Avenger's livery: which had a more
expensive and a less remunerative appearance then, than at any
other time in the four-and-twenty hours. As we got more and more
into debt breakfast became a hollower and hollower form, and, being
on one occasion at breakfast-time threatened (by letter) with legal
proceedings, "not unwholly unconnected," as my local paper might
put it, "with jewellery," I went so far as to seize the Avenger by
his blue collar and shake him off his feet - so that he was
actually in the air, like a booted Cupid - for presuming to suppose
that we wanted a roll.
At certain times - meaning at uncertain times, for they depended on
our humour - I would say to Herbert, as if it were a remarkable
"My dear Herbert, we are getting on badly."
"My dear Handel," Herbert would say to me, in all sincerity, if you
will believe me, those very words were on my lips, by a strange
"Then, Herbert," I would respond, "let us look into out affairs."
We always derived profound satisfaction from making an appointment
for this purpose. I always thought this was business, this was the
way to confront the thing, this was the way to take the foe by the
throat. And I know Herbert thought so too.
We ordered something rather special for dinner, with a bottle of
something similarly out of the common way, in order that our minds
might be fortified for the occasion, and we might come well up to
the mark. Dinner over, we produced a bundle of pens, a copious
supply of ink, and a goodly show of writing and blotting paper.
For, there was something very comfortable in having plenty of
I would then take a sheet of paper, and write across the top of it,
in a neat hand, the heading, "Memorandum of Pip's debts;" with
Barnard's Inn and the date very carefully added. Herbert would also
take a sheet of paper, and write across it with similar
formalities, "Memorandum of Herbert's debts."
Each of us would then refer to a confused heap of papers at his
side, which had been thrown into drawers, worn into holes in
Pockets, half-burnt in lighting candles, stuck for weeks into the
looking-glass, and otherwise damaged. The sound of our pens going,
refreshed us exceedingly, insomuch that I sometimes found it
difficult to distinguish between this edifying business proceeding
and actually paying the money. In point of meritorious character,
the two things seemed about equal.
When we had written a little while, I would ask Herbert how he got
on? Herbert probably would have been scratching his head in a most
rueful manner at the sight of his accumulating figures.
"They are mounting up, Handel," Herbert would say; "upon my life,
they are mounting up."
"Be firm, Herbert," I would retort, plying my own pen with great
assiduity. "Look the thing in the face. Look into your affairs.
Stare them out of countenance."
"So I would, Handel, only they are staring me out of countenance."
However, my determined manner would have its effect, and Herbert
would fall to work again. After a time he would give up once more,
on the plea that he had not got Cobbs's bill, or Lobbs's, or
Nobbs's, as the case might be.
"Then, Herbert, estimate; estimate it in round numbers, and put it
"What a fellow of resource you are!" my friend would reply, with
admiration. "Really your business powers are very remarkable."
I thought so too. I established with myself on these occasions, the
reputation of a first-rate man of business - prompt, decisive,
energetic, clear, cool-headed. When I had got all my
responsibilities down upon my list, I compared each with the bill,
and ticked it off. My self-approval when I ticked an entry was
quite a luxurious sensation. When I had no more ticks to make, I
folded all my bills up uniformly, docketed each on the back, and
tied the whole into a symmetrical bundle. Then I did the same for
Herbert (who modestly said he had not my administrative genius),
and felt that I had brought his affairs into a focus for him.
My business habits had one other bright feature, which i called
"leaving a Margin." For example; supposing Herbert's debts to be
one hundred and sixty-four pounds four-and-twopence, I would say,
"Leave a margin, and put them down at two hundred." Or, supposing
my own to be four times as much, I would leave a margin, and put
them down at seven hundred. I had the highest opinion of the wisdom
of this same Margin, but I am bound to acknowledge that on looking
back, I deem it to have been an expensive device. For, we always
ran into new debt immediately, to the full extent of the margin,
and sometimes, in the sense of freedom and solvency it imparted,
got pretty far on into another margin.
But there was a calm, a rest, a virtuous hush, consequent on these
examinations of our affairs that gave me, for the time, an
admirable opinion of myself. Soothed by my exertions, my method,
and Herbert's compliments, I would sit with his symmetrical bundle
and my own on the table before me among the stationary, and feel
like a Bank of some sort, rather than a private individual.
We shut our outer door on these solemn occasions, in order that we
might not be interrupted. I had fallen into my serene state one
evening, when we heard a letter dropped through the slit in the
said door, and fall on the ground. "It's for you, Handel," said
Herbert, going out and coming back with it, "and I hope there is
nothing the matter." This was in allusion to its heavy black seal
The letter was signed TRABB & CO., and its contents were simply,
that I was an honoured sir, and that they begged to inform me that
Mrs. J. Gargery had departed this life on Monday last, at twenty
minutes past six in the evening, and that my attendance was
requested at the interment on Monday next at three o'clock in the
It was the first time that a grave had opened in my road of life,
and the gap it made in the smooth ground was wonderful. The figure
of my sister in her chair by the kitchen fire, haunted me night and
day. That the place could possibly be, without her, was something
my mind seemed unable to compass; and whereas she had seldom or
never been in my thoughts of late, I had now the strangest ideas
that she was coming towards me in the street, or that she would
presently knock at the door. In my rooms too, with which she had
never been at all associated, there was at once the blankness of
death and a perpetual suggestion of the sound of her voice or the
turn of her face or figure, as if she were still alive and had been
Whatever my fortunes might have been, I could scarcely have
recalled my sister with much tenderness. But I suppose there is a
shock of regret which may exist without much tenderness. Under its
influence (and perhaps to make up for the want of the softer
feeling) I was seized with a violent indignation against the
assailant from whom she had suffered so much; and I felt that on
sufficient proof I could have revengefully pursued Orlick, or any
one else, to the last extremity.
Having written to Joe, to offer consolation, and to assure him that
I should come to the funeral, I passed the intermediate days in the
curious state of mind I have glanced at. I went down early in the
morning, and alighted at the Blue Boar in good time to walk over to
It was fine summer weather again, and, as I walked along, the times
when I was a little helpless creature, and my sister did not spare
me, vividly returned. But they returned with a gentle tone upon
them that softened even the edge of Tickler. For now, the very
breath of the beans and clover whispered to my heart that the day
must come when it would be well for my memory that others walking
in the sunshine should be softened as they thought of me.
At last I came within sight of the house, and saw that Trabb and
Co. had put in a funereal execution and taken possession. Two
dismally absurd persons, each ostentatiously exhibiting a crutch
done up in a black bandage - as if that instrument could possibly
communicate any comfort to anybody - were posted at the front door;
and in one of them I recognized a postboy discharged from the Boar
for turning a young couple into a sawpit on their bridal morning,
in consequence of intoxication rendering it necessary for him to
ride his horse clasped round the neck with both arms. All the
children of the village, and most of the women, were admiring these