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Great Expectations by Charles Dickens

Part 8 out of 11

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

THIS IS THE END OF THE SECOND STAGE OF PIP'S EXPECTATIONS.

Chapter 40

It was fortunate for me that I had to take precautions to ensure
(so far as I could) the safety of my dreaded visitor; for, this
thought pressing on me when I awoke, held other thoughts in a
confused concourse at a distance.

The impossibility of keeping him concealed in the chambers was
self-evident. It could not be done, and the attempt to do it would
inevitably engender suspicion. True, I had no Avenger in my service
now, but I was looked after by an inflammatory old female, assisted
by an animated rag-bag whom she called her niece, and to keep a
room secret from them would be to invite curiosity and
exaggeration. They both had weak eyes, which I had long attributed
to their chronically looking in at keyholes, and they were always
at hand when not wanted; indeed that was their only reliable
quality besides larceny. Not to get up a mystery with these people,
I resolved to announce in the morning that my uncle had
unexpectedly come from the country.

This course I decided on while I was yet groping about in the
darkness for the means of getting a light. Not stumbling on the
means after all, I was fain to go out to the adjacent Lodge and get
the watchman there to come with his lantern. Now, in groping my way
down the black staircase I fell over something, and that something
was a man crouching in a corner.

As the man made no answer when I asked him what he did there, but
eluded my touch in silence, I ran to the Lodge and urged the
watchman to come quickly: telling him of the incident on the way
back. The wind being as fierce as ever, we did not care to endanger
the light in the lantern by rekindling the extinguished lamps on
the staircase, but we examined the staircase from the bottom to the
top and found no one there. It then occurred to me as possible that
the man might have slipped into my rooms; so, lighting my candle at
the watchman's, and leaving him standing at the door, I examined
them carefully, including the room in which my dreaded guest lay
asleep. All was quiet, and assuredly no other man was in those
chambers.

It troubled me that there should have been a lurker on the stairs,
on that night of all nights in the year, and I asked the watchman,
on the chance of eliciting some hopeful explanation as I handed him
a dram at the door, whether he had admitted at his gate any
gentleman who had perceptibly been dining out? Yes, he said; at
different times of the night, three. One lived in Fountain Court,
and the other two lived in the Lane, and he had seen them all go
home. Again, the only other man who dwelt in the house of which my
chambers formed a part, had been in the country for some weeks; and
he certainly had not returned in the night, because we had seen his
door with his seal on it as we came up-stairs.

"The night being so bad, sir," said the watchman, as he gave me
back my glass, "uncommon few have come in at my gate. Besides them
three gentlemen that I have named, I don't call to mind another
since about eleven o'clock, when a stranger asked for you."

"My uncle," I muttered. "Yes."

"You saw him, sir?"

"Yes. Oh yes."

"Likewise the person with him?"

"Person with him!" I repeated.

"I judged the person to be with him," returned the watchman. "The
person stopped, when he stopped to make inquiry of me, and the
person took this way when he took this way."

"What sort of person?"

The watchman had not particularly noticed; he should say a working
person; to the best of his belief, he had a dust-coloured kind of
clothes on, under a dark coat. The watchman made more light of the
matter than I did, and naturally; not having my reason for
attaching weight to it.

When I had got rid of him, which I thought it well to do without
prolonging explanations, my mind was much troubled by these two
circumstances taken together. Whereas they were easy of innocent
solution apart - as, for instance, some diner-out or diner-at-home,
who had not gone near this watchman's gate, might have strayed to
my staircase and dropped asleep there - and my nameless visitor
might have brought some one with him to show him the way - still,
joined, they had an ugly look to one as prone to distrust and fear
as the changes of a few hours had made me.

I lighted my fire, which burnt with a raw pale flare at that time
of the morning, and fell into a doze before it. I seemed to have
been dozing a whole night when the clocks struck six. As there was
full an hour and a half between me and daylight, I dozed again;
now, waking up uneasily, with prolix conversations about nothing,
in my ears; now, making thunder of the wind in the chimney; at
length, falling off into a profound sleep from which the daylight
woke me with a start.

All this time I had never been able to consider my own situation,
nor could I do so yet. I had not the power to attend to it. I was
greatly dejected and distressed, but in an incoherent wholesale
sort of way. As to forming any plan for the future, I could as soon
have formed an elephant. When I opened the shutters and looked out
at the wet wild morning, all of a leaden hue; when I walked from
room to room; when I sat down again shivering, before the fire,
waiting for my laundress to appear; I thought how miserable I was,
but hardly knew why, or how long I had been so, or on what day of
the week I made the reflection, or even who I was that made it.

At last, the old woman and the niece came in - the latter with a
head not easily distinguishable from her dusty broom - and
testified surprise at sight of me and the fire. To whom I imparted
how my uncle had come in the night and was then asleep, and how the
breakfast preparations were to be modified accordingly. Then, I
washed and dressed while they knocked the furniture about and made
a dust; and so, in a sort of dream or sleep-waking, I found myself
sitting by the fire again, waiting for - Him - to come to
breakfast.

By-and-by, his door opened and he came out. I could not bring
myself to bear the sight of him, and I thought he had a worse look
by daylight.

"I do not even know," said I, speaking low as he took his seat at
the table, "by what name to call you. I have given out that you are
my uncle."

"That's it, dear boy! Call me uncle."

"You assumed some name, I suppose, on board ship?"

"Yes, dear boy. I took the name of Provis."

"Do you mean to keep that name?"

"Why, yes, dear boy, it's as good as another - unless you'd like
another."

"What is your real name?" I asked him in a whisper.

"Magwitch," he answered, in the same tone; "chrisen'd Abel."

"What were you brought up to be?"

"A warmint, dear boy."

He answered quite seriously, and used the word as if it denoted
some profession.

"When you came into the Temple last night--" said I, pausing to
wonder whether that could really have been last night, which seemed
so long ago.

"Yes, dear boy?"

"When you came in at the gate and asked the watchman the way here,
had you any one with you?"

"With me? No, dear boy."

"But there was some one there?"

"I didn't take particular notice," he said, dubiously, "not knowing
the ways of the place. But I think there was a person, too, come in
alonger me."

"Are you known in London?"

"I hope not!" said he, giving his neck a jerk with his forefinger
that made me turn hot and sick.

"Were you known in London, once?"

"Not over and above, dear boy. I was in the provinces mostly."

"Were you - tried - in London?"

"Which time?" said he, with a sharp look.

"The last time."

He nodded. "First knowed Mr. Jaggers that way. Jaggers was for me."

It was on my lips to ask him what he was tried for, but he took up
a knife, gave it a flourish, and with the words, "And what I done
is worked out and paid for!" fell to at his breakfast.

He ate in a ravenous way that was very disagreeable, and all his
actions were uncouth, noisy, and greedy. Some of his teeth had
failed him since I saw him eat on the marshes, and as he turned his
food in his mouth, and turned his head sideways to bring his
strongest fangs to bear upon it, he looked terribly like a hungry old
dog. If I had begun with any appetite, he would have taken it away,
and I should have sat much as I did - repelled from him by an
insurmountable aversion, and gloomily looking at the cloth.

"I'm a heavy grubber, dear boy," he said, as a polite kind of
apology when he made an end of his meal, "but I always was. If it
had been in my constitution to be a lighter grubber, I might ha'
got into lighter trouble. Similarly, I must have my smoke. When I
was first hired out as shepherd t'other side the world, it's my
belief I should ha' turned into a molloncolly-mad sheep myself, if
I hadn't a had my smoke."

As he said so, he got up from the table, and putting his hand into the
breast of the pea-coat he wore, brought out a short black pipe, and
a handful of loose tobacco of the kind that is called Negro-head.
Having filled his pipe, he put the surplus tobacco back again, as
if his pocket were a drawer. Then, he took a live coal from the
fire with the tongs, and lighted his pipe at it, and then turned
round on the hearth-rug with his back to the fire, and went through
his favourite action of holding out both his hands for mine.

"And this," said he, dandling my hands up and down in his, as he
puffed at his pipe; "and this is the gentleman what I made! The
real genuine One! It does me good fur to look at you, Pip. All I
stip'late, is, to stand by and look at you, dear boy!"

I released my hands as soon as I could, and found that I was
beginning slowly to settle down to the contemplation of my
condition. What I was chained to, and how heavily, became
intelligible to me, as I heard his hoarse voice, and sat looking up
at his furrowed bald head with its iron grey hair at the sides.

"I mustn't see my gentleman a footing it in the mire of the
streets; there mustn't be no mud on his boots. My gentleman must
have horses, Pip! Horses to ride, and horses to drive, and horses
for his servant to ride and drive as well. Shall colonists have
their horses (and blood 'uns, if you please, good Lord!) and not my
London gentleman? No, no. We'll show 'em another pair of shoes than
that, Pip; won't us?"

He took out of his pocket a great thick pocket-book, bursting with
papers, and tossed it on the table.

"There's something worth spending in that there book, dear boy.
It's yourn. All I've got ain't mine; it's yourn. Don't you be
afeerd on it. There's more where that come from. I've come to the
old country fur to see my gentleman spend his money like a
gentleman. That'll be my pleasure. My pleasure 'ull be fur to see
him do it. And blast you all!" he wound up, looking round the room
and snapping his fingers once with a loud snap, "blast you every
one, from the judge in his wig, to the colonist a stirring up the
dust, I'll show a better gentleman than the whole kit on you put
together!"

"Stop!" said I, almost in a frenzy of fear and dislike, "I want to
speak to you. I want to know what is to be done. I want to know how
you are to be kept out of danger, how long you are going to stay,
what projects you have."

"Look'ee here, Pip," said he, laying his hand on my arm in a
suddenly altered and subdued manner; "first of all, look'ee here. I
forgot myself half a minute ago. What I said was low; that's what
it was; low. Look'ee here, Pip. Look over it. I ain't a-going to be
low."

"First," I resumed, half-groaning, "what precautions can be taken
against your being recognized and seized?"

"No, dear boy," he said, in the same tone as before, "that don't go
first. Lowness goes first. I ain't took so many years to make a
gentleman, not without knowing what's due to him. Look'ee here,
Pip. I was low; that's what I was; low. Look over it, dear boy."

Some sense of the grimly-ludicrous moved me to a fretful laugh, as
I replied, "I have looked over it. In Heaven's name, don't harp
upon it!"

"Yes, but look'ee here," he persisted. "Dear boy, I ain't come so
fur, not fur to be low. Now, go on, dear boy. You was a-saying--"

"How are you to be guarded from the danger you have incurred?"

"Well, dear boy, the danger ain't so great. Without I was informed
agen, the danger ain't so much to signify. There's Jaggers, and
there's Wemmick, and there's you. Who else is there to inform?"

"Is there no chance person who might identify you in the street?"
said I.

"Well," he returned, "there ain't many. Nor yet I don't intend to
advertise myself in the newspapers by the name of A. M. come back
from Botany Bay; and years have rolled away, and who's to gain by
it? Still, look'ee here, Pip. If the danger had been fifty times as
great, I should ha' come to see you, mind you, just the same."

"And how long do you remain?"

"How long?" said he, taking his black pipe from his mouth, and
dropping his jaw as he stared at me. "I'm not a-going back. I've
come for good."

"Where are you to live?" said I. "What is to be done with you?
Where will you be safe?"

"Dear boy," he returned, "there's disguising wigs can be bought for
money, and there's hair powder, and spectacles, and black clothes -
shorts and what not. Others has done it safe afore, and what others
has done afore, others can do agen. As to the where and how of
living, dear boy, give me your own opinions on it."

"You take it smoothly now," said I, "but you were very serious last
night, when you swore it was Death."

"And so I swear it is Death," said he, putting his pipe back in his
mouth, "and Death by the rope, in the open street not fur from
this, and it's serious that you should fully understand it to be
so. What then, when that's once done? Here I am. To go back now,
'ud be as bad as to stand ground - worse. Besides, Pip, I'm here,
because I've meant it by you, years and years. As to what I dare,
I'm a old bird now, as has dared all manner of traps since first he
was fledged, and I'm not afeerd to perch upon a scarecrow. If
there's Death hid inside of it, there is, and let him come out, and
I'll face him, and then I'll believe in him and not afore. And now
let me have a look at my gentleman agen."

Once more, he took me by both hands and surveyed me with an air of
admiring proprietorship: smoking with great complacency all the
while.

It appeared to me that I could do no better than secure him some
quiet lodging hard by, of which he might take possession when
Herbert returned: whom I expected in two or three days. That the
secret must be confided to Herbert as a matter of unavoidable
necessity, even if I could have put the immense relief I should
derive from sharing it with him out of the question, was plain to
me. But it was by no means so plain to Mr. Provis (I resolved to
call him by that name), who reserved his consent to Herbert's
participation until he should have seen him and formed a favourable
judgment of his physiognomy. "And even then, dear boy," said he,
pulling a greasy little clasped black Testament out of his pocket,
"we'll have him on his oath."

To state that my terrible patron carried this little black book
about the world solely to swear people on in cases of emergency,
would be to state what I never quite established - but this I can
say, that I never knew him put it to any other use. The book itself
had the appearance of having been stolen from some court of
justice, and perhaps his knowledge of its antecedents, combined
with his own experience in that wise, gave him a reliance on its
powers as a sort of legal spell or charm. On this first occasion of
his producing it, I recalled how he had made me swear fidelity in
the churchyard long ago, and how he had described himself last
night as always swearing to his resolutions in his solitude.

As he was at present dressed in a seafaring slop suit, in which he
looked as if he had some parrots and cigars to dispose of, I next
discussed with him what dress he should wear. He cherished an
extraordinary belief in the virtues of "shorts" as a disguise, and
had in his own mind sketched a dress for himself that would have
made him something between a dean and a dentist. It was with
considerable difficulty that I won him over to the assumption of a
dress more like a prosperous farmer's; and we arranged that he
should cut his hair close, and wear a little powder. Lastly, as he
had not yet been seen by the laundress or her niece, he was to keep
himself out of their view until his change of dress was made.

It would seem a simple matter to decide on these precautions; but
in my dazed, not to say distracted, state, it took so long, that I
did not get out to further them, until two or three in the
afternoon. He was to remain shut up in the chambers while I was
gone, and was on no account to open the door.

There being to my knowledge a respectable lodging-house in
Essex-street, the back of which looked into the Temple, and was
almost within hail of my windows, I first of all repaired to that
house, and was so fortunate as to secure the second floor for my
uncle, Mr. Provis. I then went from shop to shop, making such
purchases as were necessary to the change in his appearance. This
business transacted, I turned my face, on my own account, to Little
Britain. Mr. Jaggers was at his desk, but, seeing me enter, got up
immediately and stood before his fire.

"Now, Pip," said he, "be careful."

"I will, sir," I returned. For, coming along I had thought well of
what I was going to say.

"Don't commit yourself," said Mr. Jaggers, "and don't commit any
one. You understand - any one. Don't tell me anything: I don't want
to know anything; I am not curious."

Of course I saw that he knew the man was come.

"I merely want, Mr. Jaggers," said I, "to assure myself that what I
have been told, is true. I have no hope of its being untrue, but at
least I may verify it."

Mr. Jaggers nodded. "But did you say 'told' or 'informed'?" he asked
me, with his head on one side, and not looking at me, but looking
in a listening way at the floor. "Told would seem to imply verbal
communication. You can't have verbal communication with a man in
New South Wales, you know."

"I will say, informed, Mr. Jaggers."

"Good."

"I have been informed by a person named Abel Magwitch, that he is
the benefactor so long unknown to me."

"That is the man," said Mr. Jaggers," - in New South Wales."

"And only he?" said I.

"And only he," said Mr. Jaggers.

"I am not so unreasonable, sir, as to think you at all responsible
for my mistakes and wrong conclusions; but I always supposed it was
Miss Havisham."

"As you say, Pip," returned Mr. Jaggers, turning his eyes upon me
coolly, and taking a bite at his forefinger, "I am not at all
responsible for that."

"And yet it looked so like it, sir," I pleaded with a downcast
heart.

"Not a particle of evidence, Pip," said Mr. Jaggers, shaking his
head and gathering up his skirts. "Take nothing on its looks; take
everything on evidence. There's no better rule."

"I have no more to say," said I, with a sigh, after standing silent
for a little while. "I have verified my information, and there's an
end."

"And Magwitch - in New South Wales - having at last disclosed
himself," said Mr. Jaggers, "you will comprehend, Pip, how rigidly
throughout my communication with you, I have always adhered to the
strict line of fact. There has never been the least departure from
the strict line of fact. You are quite aware of that?"

"Quite, sir."

"I communicated to Magwitch - in New South Wales - when he first
wrote to me - from New South Wales - the caution that he must not
expect me ever to deviate from the strict line of fact. I also
communicated to him another caution. He appeared to me to have
obscurely hinted in his letter at some distant idea he had of
seeing you in England here. I cautioned him that I must hear no
more of that; that he was not at all likely to obtain a pardon;
that he was expatriated for the term of his natural life; and that
his presenting himself in this country would be an act of felony,
rendering him liable to the extreme penalty of the law. I gave
Magwitch that caution," said Mr. Jaggers, looking hard at me; "I
wrote it to New South Wales. He guided himself by it, no doubt."

"No doubt," said I.

"I have been informed by Wemmick," pursued Mr. Jaggers, still
looking hard at me, "that he has received a letter, under date
Portsmouth, from a colonist of the name of Purvis, or--"

"Or Provis," I suggested.

"Or Provis - thank you, Pip. Perhaps it is Provis? Perhaps you know
it's Provis?"

"Yes," said I.

"You know it's Provis. A letter, under date Portsmouth, from a
colonist of the name of Provis, asking for the particulars of your
address, on behalf of Magwitch. Wemmick sent him the particulars, I
understand, by return of post. Probably it is through Provis that
you have received the explanation of Magwitch - in New South
Wales?"

"It came through Provis," I replied.

"Good day, Pip," said Mr. Jaggers, offering his hand; "glad to have
seen you. In writing by post to Magwitch - in New South Wales - or
in communicating with him through Provis, have the goodness to
mention that the particulars and vouchers of our long account shall
be sent to you, together with the balance; for there is still a
balance remaining. Good day, Pip!"

We shook hands, and he looked hard at me as long as he could see
me. I turned at the door, and he was still looking hard at me,
while the two vile casts on the shelf seemed to be trying to get
their eyelids open, and to force out of their swollen throats, "O,
what a man he is!"

Wemmick was out, and though he had been at his desk he could have
done nothing for me. I went straight back to the Temple, where I
found the terrible Provis drinking rum-and-water and smoking
negro-head, in safety.

Next day the clothes I had ordered, all came home, and he put them
on. Whatever he put on, became him less (it dismally seemed to me)
than what he had worn before. To my thinking, there was something
in him that made it hopeless to attempt to disguise him. The more I
dressed him and the better I dressed him, the more he looked like
the slouching fugitive on the marshes. This effect on my anxious
fancy was partly referable, no doubt, to his old face and manner
growing more familiar to me; but I believe too that he dragged one
of his legs as if there were still a weight of iron on it, and that
from head to foot there was Convict in the very grain of the man.

The influences of his solitary hut-life were upon him besides, and
gave him a savage air that no dress could tame; added to these,
were the influences of his subsequent branded life among men, and,
crowning all, his consciousness that he was dodging and hiding now.
In all his ways of sitting and standing, and eating and drinking -
of brooding about, in a high-shouldered reluctant style - of taking
out his great horn-handled jack-knife and wiping it on his legs and
cutting his food - of lifting light glasses and cups to his lips,
as if they were clumsy pannikins - of chopping a wedge off his
bread, and soaking up with it the last fragments of gravy round and
round his plate, as if to make the most of an allowance, and then
drying his finger-ends on it, and then swallowing it - in these
ways and a thousand other small nameless instances arising every
minute in the day, there was Prisoner, Felon, Bondsman, plain as
plain could be.

It had been his own idea to wear that touch of powder, and I had
conceded the powder after overcoming the shorts. But I can compare
the effect of it, when on, to nothing but the probable effect of
rouge upon the dead; so awful was the manner in which everything in
him that it was most desirable to repress, started through that
thin layer of pretence, and seemed to come blazing out at the crown
of his head. It was abandoned as soon as tried, and he wore his
grizzled hair cut short.

Words cannot tell what a sense I had, at the same time, of the
dreadful mystery that he was to me. When he fell asleep of an
evening, with his knotted hands clenching the sides of the
easy-chair, and his bald head tattooed with deep wrinkles falling
forward on his breast, I would sit and look at him, wondering what
he had done, and loading him with all the crimes in the Calendar,
until the impulse was powerful on me to start up and fly from him.
Every hour so increased my abhorrence of him, that I even think I
might have yielded to this impulse in the first agonies of being so
haunted, notwithstanding all he had done for me, and the risk he
ran, but for the knowledge that Herbert must soon come back. Once,
I actually did start out of bed in the night, and begin to dress
myself in my worst clothes, hurriedly intending to leave him there
with everything else I possessed, and enlist for India as a private
soldier.

I doubt if a ghost could have been more terrible to me, up in those
lonely rooms in the long evenings and long nights, with the wind
and the rain always rushing by. A ghost could not have been taken
and hanged on my account, and the consideration that he could be,
and the dread that he would be, were no small addition to my
horrors. When he was not asleep, or playing a complicated kind of
patience with a ragged pack of cards of his own - a game that I
never saw before or since, and in which he recorded his winnings by
sticking his jack-knife into the table - when he was not engaged in
either of these pursuits, he would ask me to read to him - "Foreign
language, dear boy!" While I complied, he, not comprehending a
single word, would stand before the fire surveying me with the air
of an Exhibitor, and I would see him, between the fingers of the
hand with which I shaded my face, appealing in dumb show to the
furniture to take notice of my proficiency. The imaginary student
pursued by the misshapen creature he had impiously made, was not
more wretched than I, pursued by the creature who had made me, and
recoiling from him with a stronger repulsion, the more he admired
me and the fonder he was of me.

This is written of, I am sensible, as if it had lasted a year. It
lasted about five days. Expecting Herbert all the time, I dared not
go out, except when I took Provis for an airing after dark. At
length, one evening when dinner was over and I had dropped into a
slumber quite worn out - for my nights had been agitated and my
rest broken by fearful dreams - I was roused by the welcome
footstep on the staircase. Provis, who had been asleep too,
staggered up at the noise I made, and in an instant I saw his
jack-knife shining in his hand.

"Quiet! It's Herbert!" I said; and Herbert came bursting in, with
the airy freshness of six hundred miles of France upon him.

"Handel, my dear fellow, how are you, and again how are you, and
again how are you? I seem to have been gone a twelvemonth! Why, so I
must have been, for you have grown quite thin and pale! Handel, my -
Halloa! I beg your pardon."

He was stopped in his running on and in his shaking hands with me,
by seeing Provis. Provis, regarding him with a fixed attention, was
slowly putting up his jack-knife, and groping in another pocket for
something else.

"Herbert, my dear friend," said I, shutting the double doors, while
Herbert stood staring and wondering, "something very strange has
happened. This is - a visitor of mine."

"It's all right, dear boy!" said Provis coming forward, with his
little clasped black book, and then addressing himself to Herbert.
"Take it in your right hand. Lord strike you dead on the spot, if
ever you split in any way sumever! Kiss it!"

"Do so, as he wishes it," I said to Herbert. So, Herbert, looking
at me with a friendly uneasiness and amazement, complied, and
Provis immediately shaking hands with him, said, "Now you're on
your oath, you know. And never believe me on mine, if Pip shan't
make a gentleman on you!"

Chapter 41

In vain should I attempt to describe the astonishment and disquiet
of Herbert, when he and I and Provis sat down before the fire, and
I recounted the whole of the secret. Enough, that I saw my own
feelings reflected in Herbert's face, and, not least among them, my
repugnance towards the man who had done so much for me.

What would alone have set a division between that man and us, if
there had been no other dividing circumstance, was his triumph in
my story. Saving his troublesome sense of having been "low' on one
occasion since his return - on which point he began to hold forth
to Herbert, the moment my revelation was finished - he had no
perception of the possibility of my finding any fault with my good
fortune. His boast that he had made me a gentleman, and that he had
come to see me support the character on his ample resources, was
made for me quite as much as for himself; and that it was a highly
agreeable boast to both of us, and that we must both be very proud
of it, was a conclusion quite established in his own mind.

"Though, look'ee here, Pip's comrade," he said to Herbert, after
having discoursed for some time, "I know very well that once since
I come back - for half a minute - I've been low. I said to Pip, I
knowed as I had been low. But don't you fret yourself on that
score. I ain't made Pip a gentleman, and Pip ain't a-going to make
you a gentleman, not fur me not to know what's due to ye both. Dear
boy, and Pip's comrade, you two may count upon me always having a
gen-teel muzzle on. Muzzled I have been since that half a minute
when I was betrayed into lowness, muzzled I am at the present time,
muzzled I ever will be."

Herbert said, "Certainly," but looked as if there were no specific
consolation in this, and remained perplexed and dismayed. We were
anxious for the time when he would go to his lodging, and leave us
together, but he was evidently jealous of leaving us together, and
sat late. It was midnight before I took him round to Essex-street,
and saw him safely in at his own dark door. When it closed upon
him, I experienced the first moment of relief I had known since the
night of his arrival.

Never quite free from an uneasy remembrance of the man on the
stairs, I had always looked about me in taking my guest out after
dark, and in bringing him back; and I looked about me now.
Difficult as it is in a large city to avoid the suspicion of being
watched, when the mind is conscious of danger in that regard, I
could not persuade myself that any of the people within sight cared
about my movements. The few who were passing, passed on their
several ways, and the street was empty when I turned back into the
Temple. Nobody had come out at the gate with us, nobody went in at
the gate with me. As I crossed by the fountain, I saw his lighted
back windows looking bright and quiet, and, when I stood for a few
moments in the doorway of the building where I lived, before going
up the stairs, Garden-court was as still and lifeless as the
staircase was when I ascended it.

Herbert received me with open arms, and I had never felt before, so
blessedly, what it is to have a friend. When he had spoken some
sound words of sympathy and encouragement, we sat down to consider
the question, What was to be done?

The chair that Provis had occupied still remaining where it had
stood - for he had a barrack way with him of hanging about one
spot, in one unsettled manner, and going through one round of
observances with his pipe and his negro-head and his jack-knife and
his pack of cards, and what not, as if it were all put down for him
on a slate - I say, his chair remaining where it had stood, Herbert
unconsciously took it, but next moment started out of it, pushed it
away, and took another. He had no occasion to say, after that, that
he had conceived an aversion for my patron, neither had I occasion
to confess my own. We interchanged that confidence without shaping
a syllable.

"What," said I to Herbert, when he was safe in another chair, "what
is to be done?"

"My poor dear Handel," he replied, holding his head, "I am too
stunned to think."

"So was I, Herbert, when the blow first fell. Still, something must
be done. He is intent upon various new expenses - horses, and
carriages, and lavish appearances of all kinds. He must be stopped
somehow."

"You mean that you can't accept--"

"How can I?" I interposed, as Herbert paused. "Think of him! Look at
him!"

An involuntary shudder passed over both of us.

"Yet I am afraid the dreadful truth is, Herbert, that he is
attached to me, strongly attached to me. Was there ever such a
fate!"

"My poor dear Handel," Herbert repeated.

"Then," said I, "after all, stopping short here, never taking
another penny from him, think what I owe him already! Then again: I
am heavily in debt - very heavily for me, who have now no
expectations - and I have been bred to no calling, and I am fit for
nothing."

"Well, well, well!" Herbert remonstrated. "Don't say fit for
nothing."

"What am I fit for? I know only one thing that I am fit for, and
that is, to go for a soldier. And I might have gone, my dear
Herbert, but for the prospect of taking counsel with your
friendship and affection."

Of course I broke down there: and of course Herbert, beyond seizing
a warm grip of my hand, pretended not to know it.

"Anyhow, my dear Handel," said he presently, "soldiering won't do.
If you were to renounce this patronage and these favours, I suppose
you would do so with some faint hope of one day repaying what you
have already had. Not very strong, that hope, if you went
soldiering! Besides, it's absurd. You would be infinitely better in
Clarriker's house, small as it is. I am working up towards a
partnership, you know."

Poor fellow! He little suspected with whose money.

"But there is another question," said Herbert. "This is an ignorant
determined man, who has long had one fixed idea. More than that, he
seems to me (I may misjudge him) to be a man of a desperate and
fierce character."

"I know he is," I returned. "Let me tell you what evidence I have
seen of it." And I told him what I had not mentioned in my
narrative; of that encounter with the other convict.

"See, then," said Herbert; "think of this! He comes here at the
peril of his life, for the realization of his fixed idea. In the
moment of realization, after all his toil and waiting, you cut the
ground from under his feet, destroy his idea, and make his gains
worthless to him. Do you see nothing that he might do, under the
disappointment?"

"I have seen it, Herbert, and dreamed of it, ever since the fatal
night of his arrival. Nothing has been in my thoughts so
distinctly, as his putting himself in the way of being taken."

"Then you may rely upon it," said Herbert, "that there would be
great danger of his doing it. That is his power over you as long as
he remains in England, and that would be his reckless course if you
forsook him."

I was so struck by the horror of this idea, which had weighed upon
me from the first, and the working out of which would make me
regard myself, in some sort, as his murderer, that I could not rest
in my chair but began pacing to and fro. I said to Herbert,
meanwhile, that even if Provis were recognized and taken, in spite
of himself, I should be wretched as the cause, however innocently.
Yes; even though I was so wretched in having him at large and near
me, and even though I would far far rather have worked at the forge
all the days of my life than I would ever have come to this!

But there was no staving off the question, What was to be done?

"The first and the main thing to be done," said Herbert, "is to get
him out of England. You will have to go with him, and then he may
be induced to go."

"But get him where I will, could I prevent his coming back?"

"My good Handel, is it not obvious that with Newgate in the next
street, there must be far greater hazard in your breaking your mind
to him and making him reckless, here, than elsewhere. If a pretext
to get him away could be made out of that other convict, or out of
anything else in his life, now."

"There, again!" said I, stopping before Herbert, with my open hands
held out, as if they contained the desperation of the case. "I know
nothing of his life. It has almost made me mad to sit here of a
night and see him before me, so bound up with my fortunes and
misfortunes, and yet so unknown to me, except as the miserable
wretch who terrified me two days in my childhood!"

Herbert got up, and linked his arm in mine, and we slowly walked to
and fro together, studying the carpet.

"Handel," said Herbert, stopping, "you feel convinced that you can
take no further benefits from him; do you?"

"Fully. Surely you would, too, if you were in my place?"

"And you feel convinced that you must break with him?"

"Herbert, can you ask me?"

"And you have, and are bound to have, that tenderness for the life
he has risked on your account, that you must save him, if possible,
from throwing it away. Then you must get him out of England before
you stir a finger to extricate yourself. That done, extricate
yourself, in Heaven's name, and we'll see it out together, dear old
boy."

It was a comfort to shake hands upon it, and walk up and down
again, with only that done.

"Now, Herbert," said I, "with reference to gaining some knowledge
of his history. There is but one way that I know of. I must ask him
point-blank."

"Yes. Ask him," said Herbert, "when we sit at breakfast in the
morning." For, he had said, on taking leave of Herbert, that he
would come to breakfast with us.

With this project formed, we went to bed. I had the wildest dreams
concerning him, and woke unrefreshed; I woke, too, to recover the
fear which I had lost in the night, of his being found out as a
returned transport. Waking, I never lost that fear.

He came round at the appointed time, took out his jack-knife, and
sat down to his meal. He was full of plans "for his gentleman's
coming out strong, and like a gentleman," and urged me to begin
speedily upon the pocket-book, which he had left in my possession.
He considered the chambers and his own lodging as temporary
residences, and advised me to look out at once for a "fashionable
crib' near Hyde Park, in which he could have "a shake-down'. When
he had made an end of his breakfast, and was wiping his knife on
his leg, I said to him, without a word of preface:

"After you were gone last night, I told my friend of the struggle
that the soldiers found you engaged in on the marshes, when we came
up. You remember?"

"Remember!" said he. "I think so!"

"We want to know something about that man - and about you. It is
strange to know no more about either, and particularly you, than I
was able to tell last night. Is not this as good a time as another
for our knowing more?"

"Well!" he said, after consideration. "You're on your oath, you
know, Pip's comrade?"

"Assuredly," replied Herbert.

"As to anything I say, you know," he insisted. "The oath applies to
all."

"I understand it to do so."

"And look'ee here! Wotever I done, is worked out and paid for," he
insisted again.

"So be it."

He took out his black pipe and was going to fill it with negrohead,
when, looking at the tangle of tobacco in his hand, he seemed to
think it might perplex the thread of his narrative. He put it back
again, stuck his pipe in a button-hole of his coat, spread a hand
on each knee, and, after turning an angry eye on the fire for a few
silent moments, looked round at us and said what follows.

Chapter 42

"Dear boy and Pip's comrade. I am not a-going fur to tell you my
life, like a song or a story-book. But to give it you short and
handy, I'll put it at once into a mouthful of English. In jail and
out of jail, in jail and out of jail, in jail and out of jail.
There, you got it. That's my life pretty much, down to such times
as I got shipped off, arter Pip stood my friend.

"I've been done everything to, pretty well - except hanged. I've
been locked up, as much as a silver tea-kettle. I've been carted
here and carted there, and put out of this town and put out of that
town, and stuck in the stocks, and whipped and worried and drove.
I've no more notion where I was born, than you have - if so much. I
first become aware of myself, down in Essex, a thieving turnips for
my living. Summun had run away from me - a man - a tinker - and
he'd took the fire with him, and left me wery cold.

"I know'd my name to be Magwitch, chrisen'd Abel. How did I know
it? Much as I know'd the birds' names in the hedges to be
chaffinch, sparrer, thrush. I might have thought it was all lies
together, only as the birds' names come out true, I supposed mine
did.

"So fur as I could find, there warn't a soul that see young Abel
Magwitch, with us little on him as in him, but wot caught fright at
him, and either drove him off, or took him up. I was took up, took
up, took up, to that extent that I reg'larly grow'd up took up.

"This is the way it was, that when I was a ragged little creetur as
much to be pitied as ever I see (not that I looked in the glass,
for there warn't many insides of furnished houses known to me), I
got the name of being hardened. "This is a terrible hardened one,"
they says to prison wisitors, picking out me. "May be said to live
in jails, this boy. "Then they looked at me, and I looked at them,
and they measured my head, some on 'em - they had better a-measured
my stomach - and others on 'em giv me tracts what I couldn't read,
and made me speeches what I couldn't understand. They always went
on agen me about the Devil. But what the Devil was I to do? I must
put something into my stomach, mustn't I? - Howsomever, I'm a
getting low, and I know what's due. Dear boy and Pip's comrade,
don't you be afeerd of me being low.

"Tramping, begging, thieving, working sometimes when I could -
though that warn't as often as you may think, till you put the
question whether you would ha' been over-ready to give me work
yourselves - a bit of a poacher, a bit of a labourer, a bit of a
waggoner, a bit of a haymaker, a bit of a hawker, a bit of most
things that don't pay and lead to trouble, I got to be a man. A
deserting soldier in a Traveller's Rest, what lay hid up to the
chin under a lot of taturs, learnt me to read; and a travelling
Giant what signed his name at a penny a time learnt me to write. I
warn't locked up as often now as formerly, but I wore out my good
share of keymetal still.

"At Epsom races, a matter of over twenty years ago, I got
acquainted wi' a man whose skull I'd crack wi' this poker, like the
claw of a lobster, if I'd got it on this hob. His right name was
Compeyson; and that's the man, dear boy, what you see me a-pounding
in the ditch, according to what you truly told your comrade arter I
was gone last night.

"He set up fur a gentleman, this Compeyson, and he'd been to a
public boarding-school and had learning. He was a smooth one to
talk, and was a dab at the ways of gentlefolks. He was
good-looking too. It was the night afore the great race, when I
found him on the heath, in a booth that I know'd on. Him and some
more was a sitting among the tables when I went in, and the
landlord (which had a knowledge of me, and was a sporting one)
called him out, and said, 'I think this is a man that might suit
you' - meaning I was.

"Compeyson, he looks at me very noticing, and I look at him. He has
a watch and a chain and a ring and a breast-pin and a handsome suit
of clothes.

"'To judge from appearances, you're out of luck,' says Compeyson to
me.

"'Yes, master, and I've never been in it much.' (I had come out of
Kingston Jail last on a vagrancy committal. Not but what it might
have been for something else; but it warn't.)

"'Luck changes,' says Compeyson; 'perhaps yours is going to change.'

"I says, 'I hope it may be so. There's room.'

"'What can you do?' says Compeyson.

"'Eat and drink,' I says; 'if you'll find the materials.'

"Compeyson laughed, looked at me again very noticing, giv me five
shillings, and appointed me for next night. Same place.

"I went to Compeyson next night, same place, and Compeyson took me
on to be his man and pardner. And what was Compeyson's business in
which we was to go pardners? Compeyson's business was the
swindling, handwriting forging, stolen bank-note passing, and
such-like. All sorts of traps as Compeyson could set with his head,
and keep his own legs out of and get the profits from and let
another man in for, was Compeyson's business. He'd no more heart
than a iron file, he was as cold as death, and he had the head of
the Devil afore mentioned.

"There was another in with Compeyson, as was called Arthur - not as
being so chrisen'd, but as a surname. He was in a Decline, and was
a shadow to look at. Him and Compeyson had been in a bad thing with
a rich lady some years afore, and they'd made a pot of money by it;
but Compeyson betted and gamed, and he'd have run through the
king's taxes. So, Arthur was a-dying, and a-dying poor and with the
horrors on him, and Compeyson's wife (which Compeyson kicked
mostly) was a-having pity on him when she could, and Compeyson was
a-having pity on nothing and nobody.

"I might a-took warning by Arthur, but I didn't; and I won't
pretend I was partick'ler - for where 'ud be the good on it, dear
boy and comrade? So I begun wi' Compeyson, and a poor tool I was in
his hands. Arthur lived at the top of Compeyson's house (over nigh
Brentford it was), and Compeyson kept a careful account agen him
for board and lodging, in case he should ever get better to work it
out. But Arthur soon settled the account. The second or third time
as ever I see him, he come a-tearing down into Compeyson's parlour
late at night, in only a flannel gown, with his hair all in a
sweat, and he says to Compeyson's wife, 'Sally, she really is
upstairs alonger me, now, and I can't get rid of her. She's all in
white,' he says, 'wi' white flowers in her hair, and she's awful
mad, and she's got a shroud hanging over her arm, and she says
she'll put it on me at five in the morning.'

"Says Compeyson: 'Why, you fool, don't you know she's got a living
body? And how should she be up there, without coming through the
door, or in at the window, and up the stairs?'

"'I don't know how she's there,' says Arthur, shivering dreadful
with the horrors, 'but she's standing in the corner at the foot of
the bed, awful mad. And over where her heart's brook - you broke
it! - there's drops of blood.'

"Compeyson spoke hardy, but he was always a coward. 'Go up alonger
this drivelling sick man,' he says to his wife, 'and Magwitch, lend
her a hand, will you?' But he never come nigh himself.

"Compeyson's wife and me took him up to bed agen, and he raved most
dreadful. 'Why look at her!' he cries out. 'She's a-shaking the
shroud at me! Don't you see her? Look at her eyes! Ain't it awful to
see her so mad?' Next, he cries, 'She'll put it on me, and then I'm
done for! Take it away from her, take it away!' And then he catched
hold of us, and kep on a-talking to her, and answering of her, till
I half believed I see her myself.

"Compeyson's wife, being used to him, giv him some liquor to get
the horrors off, and by-and-by he quieted. 'Oh, she's gone! Has her
keeper been for her?' he says. 'Yes,' says Compeyson's wife. 'Did
you tell him to lock her and bar her in?' 'Yes.' 'And to take that
ugly thing away from her?' 'Yes, yes, all right.' 'You're a good
creetur,' he says, 'don't leave me, whatever you do, and thank
you!'

"He rested pretty quiet till it might want a few minutes of five,
and then he starts up with a scream, and screams out, 'Here she
is! She's got the shroud again. She's unfolding it. She's coming out
of the corner. She's coming to the bed. Hold me, both on you - one
of each side - don't let her touch me with it. Hah! she missed me
that time. Don't let her throw it over my shoulders. Don't let her
lift me up to get it round me. She's lifting me up. Keep me down!'
Then he lifted himself up hard, and was dead.

"Compeyson took it easy as a good riddance for both sides. Him and
me was soon busy, and first he swore me (being ever artful) on my
own book - this here little black book, dear boy, what I swore your
comrade on.

"Not to go into the things that Compeyson planned, and I done -
which 'ud take a week - I'll simply say to you, dear boy, and Pip's
comrade, that that man got me into such nets as made me his black
slave. I was always in debt to him, always under his thumb, always
a-working, always a-getting into danger. He was younger than me,
but he'd got craft, and he'd got learning, and he overmatched me
five hundred times told and no mercy. My Missis as I had the hard
time wi' - Stop though! I ain't brought her in--"

He looked about him in a confused way, as if he had lost his place
in the book of his remembrance; and he turned his face to the fire,
and spread his hands broader on his knees, and lifted them off and
put them on again.

"There ain't no need to go into it," he said, looking round once
more. "The time wi' Compeyson was a'most as hard a time as ever I
had; that said, all's said. Did I tell you as I was tried, alone,
for misdemeanour, while with Compeyson?"

I answered, No.

"Well!" he said, "I was, and got convicted. As to took up on
suspicion, that was twice or three times in the four or five year
that it lasted; but evidence was wanting. At last, me and Compeyson
was both committed for felony - on a charge of putting stolen notes
in circulation - and there was other charges behind. Compeyson says
to me, 'Separate defences, no communication,' and that was all. And
I was so miserable poor, that I sold all the clothes I had, except
what hung on my back, afore I could get Jaggers.

"When we was put in the dock, I noticed first of all what a
gentleman Compeyson looked, wi' his curly hair and his black
clothes and his white pocket-handkercher, and what a common sort of
a wretch I looked. When the prosecution opened and the evidence was
put short, aforehand, I noticed how heavy it all bore on me, and
how light on him. When the evidence was giv in the box, I noticed
how it was always me that had come for'ard, and could be swore to,
how it was always me that the money had been paid to, how it was
always me that had seemed to work the thing and get the profit.
But, when the defence come on, then I see the plan plainer; for,
says the counsellor for Compeyson, 'My lord and gentlemen, here you
has afore you, side by side, two persons as your eyes can separate
wide; one, the younger, well brought up, who will be spoke to as
such; one, the elder, ill brought up, who will be spoke to as such;
one, the younger, seldom if ever seen in these here transactions,
and only suspected; t'other, the elder, always seen in 'em and
always wi'his guilt brought home. Can you doubt, if there is but
one in it, which is the one, and, if there is two in it, which is
much the worst one?' And such-like. And when it come to character,
warn't it Compeyson as had been to the school, and warn't it his
schoolfellows as was in this position and in that, and warn't it
him as had been know'd by witnesses in such clubs and societies,
and nowt to his disadvantage? And warn't it me as had been tried
afore, and as had been know'd up hill and down dale in Bridewells
and Lock-Ups? And when it come to speech-making, warn't it
Compeyson as could speak to 'em wi' his face dropping every now and
then into his white pocket-handkercher - ah! and wi' verses in his
speech, too - and warn't it me as could only say, 'Gentlemen, this
man at my side is a most precious rascal'? And when the verdict
come, warn't it Compeyson as was recommended to mercy on account of
good character and bad company, and giving up all the information
he could agen me, and warn't it me as got never a word but Guilty?
And when I says to Compeyson, 'Once out of this court, I'll smash
that face of yourn!' ain't it Compeyson as prays the Judge to be
protected, and gets two turnkeys stood betwixt us? And when we're
sentenced, ain't it him as gets seven year, and me fourteen, and
ain't it him as the Judge is sorry for, because he might a done so
well, and ain't it me as the Judge perceives to be a old offender
of wiolent passion, likely to come to worse?"

He had worked himself into a state of great excitement, but he
checked it, took two or three short breaths, swallowed as often,
and stretching out his hand towards me said, in a reassuring
manner, "I ain't a-going to be low, dear boy!"

He had so heated himself that he took out his handkerchief and
wiped his face and head and neck and hands, before he could go on.

"I had said to Compeyson that I'd smash that face of his, and I
swore Lord smash mine! to do it. We was in the same prison-ship,
but I couldn't get at him for long, though I tried. At last I come
behind him and hit him on the cheek to turn him round and get a
smashing one at him, when I was seen and seized. The black-hole of
that ship warn't a strong one, to a judge of black-holes that could
swim and dive. I escaped to the shore, and I was a hiding among the
graves there, envying them as was in 'em and all over, when I first
see my boy!"

He regarded me with a look of affection that made him almost
abhorrent to me again, though I had felt great pity for him.

"By my boy, I was giv to understand as Compeyson was out on them
marshes too. Upon my soul, I half believe he escaped in his terror,
to get quit of me, not knowing it was me as had got ashore. I
hunted him down. I smashed his face. 'And now,' says I 'as the
worst thing I can do, caring nothing for myself, I'll drag you
back.' And I'd have swum off, towing him by the hair, if it had
come to that, and I'd a got him aboard without the soldiers.

"Of course he'd much the best of it to the last - his character was
so good. He had escaped when he was made half-wild by me and my
murderous intentions; and his punishment was light. I was put in
irons, brought to trial again, and sent for life. I didn't stop for
life, dear boy and Pip's comrade, being here."

"He wiped himself again, as he had done before, and then slowly
took his tangle of tobacco from his pocket, and plucked his pipe
from his button-hole, and slowly filled it, and began to smoke.

"Is he dead?" I asked, after a silence.

"Is who dead, dear boy?"

"Compeyson."

"He hopes I am, if he's alive, you may be sure," with a fierce
look. "I never heerd no more of him."

Herbert had been writing with his pencil in the cover of a book. He
softly pushed the book over to me, as Provis stood smoking with his
eyes on the fire, and I read in it:

"Young Havisham's name was Arthur. Compeyson is the man who
professed to be Miss Havisham's lover."

I shut the book and nodded slightly to Herbert, and put the book
by; but we neither of us said anything, and both looked at Provis
as he stood smoking by the fire.

Chapter 43

Why should I pause to ask how much of my shrinking from Provis
might be traced to Estella? Why should I loiter on my road, to
compare the state of mind in which I had tried to rid myself of the
stain of the prison before meeting her at the coach-office, with
the state of mind in which I now reflected on the abyss between
Estella in her pride and beauty, and the returned transport whom I
harboured? The road would be none the smoother for it, the end
would be none the better for it, he would not be helped, nor I
extenuated.

A new fear had been engendered in my mind by his narrative; or
rather, his narrative had given form and purpose to the fear that
was already there. If Compeyson were alive and should discover his
return, I could hardly doubt the consequence. That, Compeyson stood
in mortal fear of him, neither of the two could know much better
than I; and that, any such man as that man had been described to
be, would hesitate to release himself for good from a dreaded enemy
by the safe means of becoming an informer, was scarcely to be
imagined.

Never had I breathed, and never would I breathe - or so I resolved
- a word of Estella to Provis. But, I said to Herbert that before I
could go abroad, I must see both Estella and Miss Havisham. This
was when we were left alone on the night of the day when Provis
told us his story. I resolved to go out to Richmond next day, and I
went.

On my presenting myself at Mrs. Brandley's, Estella's maid was
called to tell that Estella had gone into the country. Where? To
Satis House, as usual. Not as usual, I said, for she had never yet
gone there without me; when was she coming back? There was an air
of reservation in the answer which increased my perplexity, and the
answer was, that her maid believed she was only coming back at all
for a little while. I could make nothing of this, except that it
was meant that I should make nothing of it, and I went home again
in complete discomfiture.

Another night-consultation with Herbert after Provis was gone home
(I always took him home, and always looked well about me), led us
to the conclusion that nothing should be said about going abroad
until I came back from Miss Havisham's. In the meantime, Herbert
and I were to consider separately what it would be best to say;
whether we should devise any pretence of being afraid that he was
under suspicious observation; or whether I, who had never yet been
abroad, should propose an expedition. We both knew that I had but
to propose anything, and he would consent. We agreed that his
remaining many days in his present hazard was not to be thought of.

Next day, I had the meanness to feign that I was under a binding
promise to go down to Joe; but I was capable of almost any meanness
towards Joe or his name. Provis was to be strictly careful while I
was gone, and Herbert was to take the charge of him that I had
taken. I was to be absent only one night, and, on my return, the
gratification of his impatience for my starting as a gentleman on a
greater scale, was to be begun. It occurred to me then, and as I
afterwards found to Herbert also, that he might be best got away
across the water, on that pretence - as, to make purchases, or the
like.

Having thus cleared the way for my expedition to Miss Havisham's, I
set off by the early morning coach before it was yet light, and was
out on the open country-road when the day came creeping on, halting
and whimpering and shivering, and wrapped in patches of cloud and
rags of mist, like a beggar. When we drove up to the Blue Boar
after a drizzly ride, whom should I see come out under the gateway,
toothpick in hand, to look at the coach, but Bentley Drummle!

As he pretended not to see me, I pretended not to see him. It was a
very lame pretence on both sides; the lamer, because we both went
into the coffee-room, where he had just finished his breakfast, and
where I ordered mine. It was poisonous to me to see him in the
town, for I very well knew why he had come there.

Pretending to read a smeary newspaper long out of date, which had
nothing half so legible in its local news, as the foreign matter of
coffee, pickles, fish-sauces, gravy, melted butter, and wine, with
which it was sprinkled all over, as if it had taken the measles in
a highly irregular form, I sat at my table while he stood before
the fire. By degrees it became an enormous injury to me that he
stood before the fire, and I got up, determined to have my share of
it. I had to put my hand behind his legs for the poker when I went
up to the fire-place to stir the fire, but still pretended not to
know him.

"Is this a cut?" said Mr. Drummle.

"Oh!" said I, poker in hand; "it's you, is it? How do you do? I was
wondering who it was, who kept the fire off."

With that, I poked tremendously, and having done so, planted myself
side by side with Mr. Drummle, my shoulders squared and my back to
the fire.

"You have just come down?" said Mr. Drummle, edging me a little away
with his shoulder.

"Yes," said I, edging him a little away with my shoulder.

"Beastly place," said Drummle. - "Your part of the country, I
think?"

"Yes," I assented. "I am told it's very like your Shropshire."

"Not in the least like it," said Drummle.

Here Mr. Drummle looked at his boots, and I looked at mine, and then
Mr. Drummle looked at my boots, and I looked at his.

"Have you been here long?" I asked, determined not to yield an inch
of the fire.

"Long enough to be tired of it," returned Drummle, pretending to
yawn, but equally determined.

"Do you stay here long?"

"Can't say," answered Mr. Drummle. "Do you?"

"Can't say," said I.

I felt here, through a tingling in my blood, that if Mr. Drummle's
shoulder had claimed another hair's breadth of room, I should have
jerked him into the window; equally, that if my own shoulder had
urged a similar claim, Mr. Drummle would have jerked me into the
nearest box. He whistled a little. So did I.

"Large tract of marshes about here, I believe?" said Drummle.

"Yes. What of that?" said I.

Mr. Drummle looked at me, and then at my boots, and then said, "Oh!"
and laughed.

"Are you amused, Mr. Drummle?"

"No," said he, "not particularly. I am going out for a ride in the
saddle. I mean to explore those marshes for amusement.
Out-of-the-way villages there, they tell me. Curious little
public-houses - and smithies - and that. Waiter!"

"Yes, sir."

"Is that horse of mine ready?"

"Brought round to the door, sir."

"I say. Look here, you sir. The lady won't ride to-day; the weather
won't do."

"Very good, sir."

"And I don't dine, because I'm going to dine at the lady's."

"Very good, sir."

Then, Drummle glanced at me, with an insolent triumph on his
great-jowled face that cut me to the heart, dull as he was, and so
exasperated me, that I felt inclined to take him in my arms (as the
robber in the story-book is said to have taken the old lady), and
seat him on the fire.

One thing was manifest to both of us, and that was, that until
relief came, neither of us could relinquish the fire. There we
stood, well squared up before it, shoulder to shoulder and foot to
foot, with our hands behind us, not budging an inch. The horse was
visible outside in the drizzle at the door, my breakfast was put on
the table, Drummle's was cleared away, the waiter invited me to
begin, I nodded, we both stood our ground.

"Have you been to the Grove since?" said Drummle.

"No," said I, "I had quite enough of the Finches the last time I
was there."

"Was that when we had a difference of opinion?"

"Yes," I replied, very shortly.

"Come, come! They let you off easily enough," sneered Drummle. "You
shouldn't have lost your temper."

"Mr. Drummle," said I, "you are not competent to give advice on that
subject. When I lose my temper (not that I admit having done so on
that occasion), I don't throw glasses."

"I do," said Drummle.

After glancing at him once or twice, in an increased state of
smouldering ferocity, I said:

"Mr. Drummle, I did not seek this conversation, and I don't think it
an agreeable one."

"I am sure it's not," said he, superciliously over his shoulder; "I
don't think anything about it."

"And therefore," I went on, "with your leave, I will suggest that
we hold no kind of communication in future."

"Quite my opinion," said Drummle, "and what I should have suggested
myself, or done - more likely - without suggesting. But don't lose
your temper. Haven't you lost enough without that?"

"What do you mean, sir?"

"Wai-ter!," said Drummle, by way of answering me.

The waiter reappeared.

"Look here, you sir. You quite understand that the young lady don't
ride to-day, and that I dine at the young lady's?"

"Quite so, sir!"

When the waiter had felt my fast cooling tea-pot with the palm of
his hand, and had looked imploringly at me, and had gone out,
Drummle, careful not to move the shoulder next me, took a cigar
from his pocket and bit the end off, but showed no sign of
stirring. Choking and boiling as I was, I felt that we could not go
a word further, without introducing Estella's name, which I could
not endure to hear him utter; and therefore I looked stonily at the
opposite wall, as if there were no one present, and forced myself
to silence. How long we might have remained in this ridiculous
position it is impossible to say, but for the incursion of three
thriving farmers - led on by the waiter, I think - who came into
the coffee-room unbuttoning their great-coats and rubbing their
hands, and before whom, as they charged at the fire, we were
obliged to give way.

I saw him through the window, seizing his horse's mane, and
mounting in his blundering brutal manner, and sidling and backing
away. I thought he was gone, when he came back, calling for a light
for the cigar in his mouth, which he had forgotten. A man in a
dustcoloured dress appeared with what was wanted - I could not have
said from where: whether from the inn yard, or the street, or where
not - and as Drummle leaned down from the saddle and lighted his
cigar and laughed, with a jerk of his head towards the coffee-room
windows, the slouching shoulders and ragged hair of this man, whose
back was towards me, reminded me of Orlick.

Too heavily out of sorts to care much at the time whether it were
he or no, or after all to touch the breakfast, I washed the weather
and the journey from my face and hands, and went out to the
memorable old house that it would have been so much the better for
me never to have entered, never to have seen.

Chapter 44

In the room where the dressing-table stood, and where the wax
candles burnt on the wall, I found Miss Havisham and Estella; Miss
Havisham seated on a settee near the fire, and Estella on a cushion
at her feet. Estella was knitting, and Miss Havisham was looking
on. They both raised their eyes as I went in, and both saw an
alteration in me. I derived that, from the look they interchanged.

"And what wind," said Miss Havisham, "blows you here, Pip?"

Though she looked steadily at me, I saw that she was rather
confused. Estella, pausing a moment in her knitting with her eyes
upon me, and then going on, I fancied that I read in the action of
her fingers, as plainly as if she had told me in the dumb alphabet,
that she perceived I had discovered my real benefactor.

"Miss Havisham," said I, "I went to Richmond yesterday, to speak to
Estella; and finding that some wind had blown her here, I
followed."

Miss Havisham motioning to me for the third or fourth time to sit
down, I took the chair by the dressing-table, which I had often
seen her occupy. With all that ruin at my feet and about me, it
seemed a natural place for me, that day.

"What I had to say to Estella, Miss Havisham, I will say before
you, presently - in a few moments. It will not surprise you, it
will not displease you. I am as unhappy as you can ever have meant
me to be."

Miss Havisham continued to look steadily at me. I could see in the
action of Estella's fingers as they worked, that she attended to
what I said: but she did not look up.

"I have found out who my patron is. It is not a fortunate
discovery, and is not likely ever to enrich me in reputation,
station, fortune, anything. There are reasons why I must say no
more of that. It is not my secret, but another's."

As I was silent for a while, looking at Estella and considering how
to go on, Miss Havisham repeated, "It is not your secret, but
another's. Well?"

"When you first caused me to be brought here, Miss Havisham; when I
belonged to the village over yonder, that I wish I had never left;
I suppose I did really come here, as any other chance boy might
have come - as a kind of servant, to gratify a want or a whim, and
to be paid for it?"

"Ay, Pip," replied Miss Havisham, steadily nodding her head; "you
did."

"And that Mr. Jaggers--"

"Mr. Jaggers," said Miss Havisham, taking me up in a firm tone, "had
nothing to do with it, and knew nothing of it. His being my lawyer,
and his being the lawyer of your patron, is a coincidence. He holds
the same relation towards numbers of people, and it might easily
arise. Be that as it may, it did arise, and was not brought about
by any one."

Any one might have seen in her haggard face that there was no
suppression or evasion so far.

"But when I fell into the mistake I have so long remained in, at
least you led me on?" said I.

"Yes," she returned, again nodding, steadily, "I let you go on."

"Was that kind?"

"Who am I," cried Miss Havisham, striking her stick upon the floor
and flashing into wrath so suddenly that Estella glanced up at her
in surprise, "who am I, for God's sake, that I should be kind?"

It was a weak complaint to have made, and I had not meant to make
it. I told her so, as she sat brooding after this outburst.

"Well, well, well!" she said. "What else?"

"I was liberally paid for my old attendance here," I said, to
soothe her, "in being apprenticed, and I have asked these questions
only for my own information. What follows has another (and I hope
more disinterested) purpose. In humouring my mistake, Miss
Havisham, you punished - practised on - perhaps you will supply
whatever term expresses your intention, without offence - your
self-seeking relations?"

"I did. Why, they would have it so! So would you. What has been my
history, that I should be at the pains of entreating either them,
or you, not to have it so! You made your own snares. I never made
them."

Waiting until she was quiet again - for this, too, flashed out of
her in a wild and sudden way - I went on.

"I have been thrown among one family of your relations, Miss
Havisham, and have been constantly among them since I went to
London. I know them to have been as honestly under my delusion as I
myself. And I should be false and base if I did not tell you,
whether it is acceptable to you or no, and whether you are inclined
to give credence to it or no, that you deeply wrong both Mr. Matthew
Pocket and his son Herbert, if you suppose them to be otherwise
than generous, upright, open, and incapable of anything designing
or mean."

"They are your friends," said Miss Havisham.

"They made themselves my friends," said I, "when they supposed me
to have superseded them; and when Sarah Pocket, Miss Georgiana, and
Mistress Camilla, were not my friends, I think."

This contrasting of them with the rest seemed, I was glad to see,
to do them good with her. She looked at me keenly for a little
while, and then said quietly:

"What do you want for them?"

"Only," said I, "that you would not confound them with the others.
They may be of the same blood, but, believe me, they are not of the
same nature."

Still looking at me keenly, Miss Havisham repeated:

"What do you want for them?"

"I am not so cunning, you see," I said, in answer, conscious that I
reddened a little, "as that I could hide from you, even if I
desired, that I do want something. Miss Havisham, if you would
spare the money to do my friend Herbert a lasting service in life,
but which from the nature of the case must be done without his
knowledge, I could show you how."

"Why must it be done without his knowledge?" she asked, settling
her hands upon her stick, that she might regard me the more
attentively.

"Because," said I, "I began the service myself, more than two years
ago, without his knowledge, and I don't want to be betrayed. Why I
fail in my ability to finish it, I cannot explain. It is a part of
the secret which is another person's and not mine."

She gradually withdrew her eyes from me, and turned them on the
fire. After watching it for what appeared in the silence and by the
light of the slowly wasting candles to be a long time, she was
roused by the collapse of some of the red coals, and looked towards
me again - at first, vacantly - then, with a gradually
concentrating attention. All this time, Estella knitted on. When
Miss Havisham had fixed her attention on me, she said, speaking as
if there had been no lapse in our dialogue:

"What else?"

"Estella," said I, turning to her now, and trying to command my
trembling voice, "you know I love you. You know that I have loved
you long and dearly."

She raised her eyes to my face, on being thus addressed, and her
fingers plied their work, and she looked at me with an unmoved
countenance. I saw that Miss Havisham glanced from me to her, and
from her to me.

"I should have said this sooner, but for my long mistake. It
induced me to hope that Miss Havisham meant us for one another.
While I thought you could not help yourself, as it were, I
refrained from saying it. But I must say it now."

Preserving her unmoved countenance, and with her fingers still
going, Estella shook her head.

"I know," said I, in answer to that action; "I know. I have no hope
that I shall ever call you mine, Estella. I am ignorant what may
become of me very soon, how poor I may be, or where I may go.
Still, I love you. I have loved you ever since I first saw you in
this house."

Looking at me perfectly unmoved and with her fingers busy, she
shook her head again.

"It would have been cruel in Miss Havisham, horribly cruel, to
practise on the susceptibility of a poor boy, and to torture me
through all these years with a vain hope and an idle pursuit, if
she had reflected on the gravity of what she did. But I think she
did not. I think that in the endurance of her own trial, she forgot
mine, Estella."

I saw Miss Havisham put her hand to her heart and hold it there, as
she sat looking by turns at Estella and at me.

"It seems," said Estella, very calmly, "that there are sentiments,
fancies - I don't know how to call them - which I am not able to
comprehend. When you say you love me, I know what you mean, as a
form of words; but nothing more. You address nothing in my breast,
you touch nothing there. I don't care for what you say at all. I
have tried to warn you of this; now, have I not?"

I said in a miserable manner, "Yes."

"Yes. But you would not be warned, for you thought I did not mean
it. Now, did you not think so?"

"I thought and hoped you could not mean it. You, so young, untried,
and beautiful, Estella! Surely it is not in Nature."

"It is in my nature," she returned. And then she added, with a
stress upon the words, "It is in the nature formed within me. I
make a great difference between you and all other people when I say
so much. I can do no more."

"Is it not true," said I, "that Bentley Drummle is in town here,
and pursuing you?"

"It is quite true," she replied, referring to him with the
indifference of utter contempt.

"That you encourage him, and ride out with him, and that he dines
with you this very day?"

She seemed a little surprised that I should know it, but again
replied, "Quite true."

"You cannot love him, Estella!"

Her fingers stopped for the first time, as she retorted rather
angrily, "What have I told you? Do you still think, in spite of it,
that I do not mean what I say?"

"You would never marry him, Estella?"

She looked towards Miss Havisham, and considered for a moment with
her work in her hands. Then she said, "Why not tell you the truth?
I am going to be married to him."

I dropped my face into my hands, but was able to control myself
better than I could have expected, considering what agony it gave
me to hear her say those words. When I raised my face again, there
was such a ghastly look upon Miss Havisham's, that it impressed me,
even in my passionate hurry and grief.

"Estella, dearest dearest Estella, do not let Miss Havisham lead
you into this fatal step. Put me aside for ever - you have done so,
I well know - but bestow yourself on some worthier person than
Drummle. Miss Havisham gives you to him, as the greatest slight and
injury that could be done to the many far better men who admire
you, and to the few who truly love you. Among those few, there may
be one who loves you even as dearly, though he has not loved you as
long, as I. Take him, and I can bear it better, for your sake!"

My earnestness awoke a wonder in her that seemed as if it would
have been touched with compassion, if she could have rendered me at
all intelligible to her own mind.

"I am going," she said again, in a gentler voice, "to be married to
him. The preparations for my marriage are making, and I shall be
married soon. Why do you injuriously introduce the name of my
mother by adoption? It is my own act."

"Your own act, Estella, to fling yourself away upon a brute?"

"On whom should I fling myself away?" she retorted, with a smile.
"Should I fling myself away upon the man who would the soonest feel
(if people do feel such things) that I took nothing to him? There!
It is done. I shall do well enough, and so will my husband. As to
leading me into what you call this fatal step, Miss Havisham would
have had me wait, and not marry yet; but I am tired of the life I
have led, which has very few charms for me, and I am willing enough
to change it. Say no more. We shall never understand each other."

"Such a mean brute, such a stupid brute!" I urged in despair.

"Don't be afraid of my being a blessing to him," said Estella; "I
shall not be that. Come! Here is my hand. Do we part on this, you
visionary boy - or man?"

"O Estella!" I answered, as my bitter tears fell fast on her hand,
do what I would to restrain them; "even if I remained in England
and could hold my head up with the rest, how could I see you
Drummle's wife?"

"Nonsense," she returned, "nonsense. This will pass in no time."

"Never, Estella!"

"You will get me out of your thoughts in a week."

"Out of my thoughts! You are part of my existence, part of myself.
You have been in every line I have ever read, since I first came
here, the rough common boy whose poor heart you wounded even then.
You have been in every prospect I have ever seen since - on the
river, on the sails of the ships, on the marshes, in the clouds, in
the light, in the darkness, in the wind, in the woods, in the sea,
in the streets. You have been the embodiment of every graceful
fancy that my mind has ever become acquainted with. The stones of
which the strongest London buildings are made, are not more real,
or more impossible to be displaced by your hands, than your
presence and influence have been to me, there and everywhere, and
will be. Estella, to the last hour of my life, you cannot choose
but remain part of my character, part of the little good in me,
part of the evil. But, in this separation I associate you only with
the good, and I will faithfully hold you to that always, for you
must have done me far more good than harm, let me feel now what
sharp distress I may. O God bless you, God forgive you!"

In what ecstasy of unhappiness I got these broken words out of
myself, I don't know. The rhapsody welled up within me, like blood
from an inward wound, and gushed out. I held her hand to my lips
some lingering moments, and so I left her. But ever afterwards, I
remembered - and soon afterwards with stronger reason - that while
Estella looked at me merely with incredulous wonder, the spectral
figure of Miss Havisham, her hand still covering her heart, seemed
all resolved into a ghastly stare of pity and remorse.

All done, all gone! So much was done and gone, that when I went out
at the gate, the light of the day seemed of a darker colour than
when I went in. For a while, I hid myself among some lanes and
by-paths, and then struck off to walk all the way to London. For, I
had by that time come to myself so far, as to consider that I could
not go back to the inn and see Drummle there; that I could not bear
to sit upon the coach and be spoken to; that I could do nothing
half so good for myself as tire myself out.

It was past midnight when I crossed London Bridge. Pursuing the
narrow intricacies of the streets which at that time tended
westward near the Middlesex shore of the river, my readiest access
to the Temple was close by the river-side, through Whitefriars. I
was not expected till to-morrow, but I had my keys, and, if Herbert
were gone to bed, could get to bed myself without disturbing him.

As it seldom happened that I came in at that Whitefriars gate after
the Temple was closed, and as I was very muddy and weary, I did not
take it ill that the night-porter examined me with much attention
as he held the gate a little way open for me to pass in. To help
his memory I mentioned my name.

"I was not quite sure, sir, but I thought so. Here's a note, sir.
The messenger that brought it, said would you be so good as read it
by my lantern?"

Much surprised by the request, I took the note. It was directed to
Philip Pip, Esquire, and on the top of the superscription were the
words, "PLEASE READ THIS, HERE." I opened it, the watchman holding
up his light, and read inside, in Wemmick's writing:

"DON'T GO HOME."

Chapter 45

Turning from the Temple gate as soon as I had read the warning, I
made the best of my way to Fleet-street, and there got a late
hackney chariot and drove to the Hummums in Covent Garden. In those
times a bed was always to be got there at any hour of the night,
and the chamberlain, letting me in at his ready wicket, lighted the
candle next in order on his shelf, and showed me straight into the
bedroom next in order on his list. It was a sort of vault on the
ground floor at the back, with a despotic monster of a four-post
bedstead in it, straddling over the whole place, putting one of his
arbitrary legs into the fire-place and another into the doorway,
and squeezing the wretched little washing-stand in quite a Divinely
Righteous manner.

As I had asked for a night-light, the chamberlain had brought me
in, before he left me, the good old constitutional rush-light of
those virtuous days - an object like the ghost of a walking-cane,
which instantly broke its back if it were touched, which nothing
could ever be lighted at, and which was placed in solitary
confinement at the bottom of a high tin tower, perforated with
round holes that made a staringly wide-awake pattern on the walls.
When I had got into bed, and lay there footsore, weary, and
wretched, I found that I could no more close my own eyes than I
could close the eyes of this foolish Argus. And thus, in the gloom
and death of the night, we stared at one another.

What a doleful night! How anxious, how dismal, how long! There was
an inhospitable smell in the room, of cold soot and hot dust; and,
as I looked up into the corners of the tester over my head, I
thought what a number of blue-bottle flies from the butchers', and
earwigs from the market, and grubs from the country, must be
holding on up there, lying by for next summer. This led me to
speculate whether any of them ever tumbled down, and then I fancied
that I felt light falls on my face - a disagreeable turn of thought,
suggesting other and more objectionable approaches up my back. When
I had lain awake a little while, those extraordinary voices with
which silence teems, began to make themselves audible. The closet
whispered, the fireplace sighed, the little washing-stand ticked,
and one guitar-string played occasionally in the chest of drawers.
At about the same time, the eyes on the wall acquired a new
expression, and in every one of those staring rounds I saw
written, DON'T GO HOME.

Whatever night-fancies and night-noises crowded on me, they never
warded off this DON'T GO HOME. It plaited itself into whatever I
thought of, as a bodily pain would have done. Not long before, I
had read in the newspapers, how a gentleman unknown had come to the
Hummums in the night, and had gone to bed, and had destroyed
himself, and had been found in the morning weltering in blood. It
came into my head that he must have occupied this very vault of
mine, and I got out of bed to assure myself that there were no red
marks about; then opened the door to look out into the passages,
and cheer myself with the companionship of a distant light, near
which I knew the chamberlain to be dozing. But all this time, why I
was not to go home, and what had happened at home, and when I
should go home, and whether Provis was safe at home, were questions
occupying my mind so busily, that one might have supposed there
could be no more room in it for any other theme. Even when I
thought of Estella, and how we had parted that day for ever, and
when I recalled all the circumstances of our parting, and all her
looks and tones, and the action of her fingers while she knitted -
even then I was pursuing, here and there and everywhere, the
caution Don't go home. When at last I dozed, in sheer exhaustion of
mind and body, it became a vast shadowy verb which I had to
conjugate. Imperative mood, present tense: Do not thou go home, let
him not go home, let us not go home, do not ye or you go home, let
not them go home. Then, potentially: I may not and I cannot go
home; and I might not, could not, would not, and should not go
home; until I felt that I was going distracted, and rolled over on
the pillow, and looked at the staring rounds upon the wall again.

I had left directions that I was to be called at seven; for it was
plain that I must see Wemmick before seeing any one else, and
equally plain that this was a case in which his Walworth
sentiments, only, could be taken. It was a relief to get out of the
room where the night had been so miserable, and I needed no second
knocking at the door to startle me from my uneasy bed.

The Castle battlements arose upon my view at eight o'clock. The
little servant happening to be entering the fortress with two hot
rolls, I passed through the postern and crossed the drawbridge, in
her company, and so came without announcement into the presence of
Wemmick as he was making tea for himself and the Aged. An open door
afforded a perspective view of the Aged in bed.

"Halloa, Mr. Pip!" said Wemmick. "You did come home, then?"

"Yes," I returned; "but I didn't go home."

"That's all right," said he, rubbing his hands. "I left a note for
you at each of the Temple gates, on the chance. Which gate did you
come to?"

I told him.

"I'll go round to the others in the course of the day and destroy
the notes," said Wemmick; "it's a good rule never to leave
documentary evidence if you can help it, because you don't know
when it may be put in. I'm going to take a liberty with you. -
Would you mind toasting this sausage for the Aged P.?"

I said I should be delighted to do it.

"Then you can go about your work, Mary Anne," said Wemmick to the
little servant; "which leaves us to ourselves, don't you see, Mr.
Pip?" he added, winking, as she disappeared.

I thanked him for his friendship and caution, and our discourse
proceeded in a low tone, while I toasted the Aged's sausage and he
buttered the crumb of the Aged's roll.

"Now, Mr. Pip, you know," said Wemmick, "you and I understand one
another. We are in our private and personal capacities, and we have
been engaged in a confidential transaction before today. Official
sentiments are one thing. We are extra official."

I cordially assented. I was so very nervous, that I had already
lighted the Aged's sausage like a torch, and been obliged to blow
it out.

"I accidentally heard, yesterday morning," said Wemmick, "being in
a certain place where I once took you - even between you and me,
it's as well not to mention names when avoidable--"

"Much better not," said I. "I understand you."

"I heard there by chance, yesterday morning," said Wemmick, "that a
certain person not altogether of uncolonial pursuits, and not
unpossessed of portable property - I don't know who it may really
be - we won't name this person--"

"Not necessary," said I.

" - had made some little stir in a certain part of the world where
a good many people go, not always in gratification of their own
inclinations, and not quite irrespective of the government
expense--"

In watching his face, I made quite a firework of the Aged's
sausage, and greatly discomposed both my own attention and
Wemmick's; for which I apologized.

" - by disappearing from such place, and being no more heard of
thereabouts. From which," said Wemmick, "conjectures had been
raised and theories formed. I also heard that you at your chambers
in Garden Court, Temple, had been watched, and might be watched
again."

"By whom?" said I.

"I wouldn't go into that," said Wemmick, evasively, "it might clash
with official responsibilities. I heard it, as I have in my time
heard other curious things in the same place. I don't tell it you
on information received. I heard it."

He took the toasting-fork and sausage from me as he spoke, and set
forth the Aged's breakfast neatly on a little tray. Previous to
placing it before him, he went into the Aged's room with a clean
white cloth, and tied the same under the old gentleman's chin, and
propped him up, and put his nightcap on one side, and gave him
quite a rakish air. Then, he placed his breakfast before him with
great care, and said, "All right, ain't you, Aged P.?" To which the
cheerful Aged replied, "All right, John, my boy, all right!" As
there seemed to be a tacit understanding that the Aged was not in a
presentable state, and was therefore to be considered invisible, I
made a pretence of being in complete ignorance of these
proceedings.

"This watching of me at my chambers (which I have once had reason
to suspect)," I said to Wemmick when he came back, "is inseparable
from the person to whom you have adverted; is it?"

Wemmick looked very serious. "I couldn't undertake to say that, of
my own knowledge. I mean, I couldn't undertake to say it was at
first. But it either is, or it will be, or it's in great danger of
being."

As I saw that he was restrained by fealty to Little Britain from
saying as much as he could, and as I knew with thankfulness to him
how far out of his way he went to say what he did, I could not
press him. But I told him, after a little meditation over the fire,
that I would like to ask him a question, subject to his answering
or not answering, as he deemed right, and sure that his course
would be right. He paused in his breakfast, and crossing his arms,
and pinching his shirt-sleeves (his notion of indoor comfort was to
sit without any coat), he nodded to me once, to put my question.

"You have heard of a man of bad character, whose true name is
Compeyson?"

He answered with one other nod.

"Is he living?"

One other nod.

"Is he in London?"

He gave me one other nod, compressed the post-office exceedingly,
gave me one last nod, and went on with his breakfast.

"Now," said Wemmick, "questioning being over;" which he emphasized
and repeated for my guidance; "I come to what I did, after hearing
what I heard. I went to Garden Court to find you; not finding you,
I went to Clarriker's to find Mr. Herbert."

"And him you found?" said I, with great anxiety.

"And him I found. Without mentioning any names or going into any
details, I gave him to understand that if he was aware of anybody -
Tom, Jack, or Richard - being about the chambers, or about the
immediate neighbourhood, he had better get Tom, Jack, or Richard,
out of the way while you were out of the way."

"He would be greatly puzzled what to do?"

"He was puzzled what to do; not the less, because I gave him my
opinion that it was not safe to try to get Tom, Jack, or Richard,
too far out of the way at present. Mr. Pip, I'll tell you something.
Under existing circumstances there is no place like a great city
when you are once in it. Don't break cover too soon. Lie close.
Wait till things slacken, before you try the open, even for foreign
air."

I thanked him for his valuable advice, and asked him what Herbert
had done?

"Mr. Herbert," said Wemmick, "after being all of a heap for half an
hour, struck out a plan. He mentioned to me as a secret, that he is
courting a young lady who has, as no doubt you are aware, a
bedridden Pa. Which Pa, having been in the Purser line of life,

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