Full Text Archive logoFull Text Archive — Free Classic E-books

Great Expectations by Charles Dickens

Part 2 out of 11

Adobe PDF icon
Download Great Expectations pdf
File size: 1.2 MB
What's this? light bulb idea Many people prefer to read off-line or to print out text and read from the real printed page. Others want to carry documents around with them on their mobile phones and read while they are on the move. We have created .pdf files of all out documents to accommodate all these groups of people. We recommend that you download .pdfs onto your mobile phone when it is connected to a WiFi connection for reading off-line.

I was going to retort with an inquiry, and had got as far as
"Why--" when Joe stopped me.

"Stay a bit. I know what you're a-going to say, Pip; stay a bit! I
don't deny that your sister comes the Mo-gul over us, now and
again. I don't deny that she do throw us back-falls, and that she
do drop down upon us heavy. At such times as when your sister is on
the Ram-page, Pip," Joe sank his voice to a whisper and glanced at
the door, "candour compels fur to admit that she is a Buster."

Joe pronounced this word, as if it began with at least twelve
capital Bs.

"Why don't I rise? That were your observation when I broke it off,

"Yes, Joe."

"Well," said Joe, passing the poker into his left hand, that he
might feel his whisker; and I had no hope of him whenever he took
to that placid occupation; "your sister's a master-mind. A

"What's that?" I asked, in some hope of bringing him to a stand.
But, Joe was readier with his definition than I had expected, and
completely stopped me by arguing circularly, and answering with a
fixed look, "Her."

"And I an't a master-mind," Joe resumed, when he had unfixed his
look, and got back to his whisker. "And last of all, Pip - and this
I want to say very serious to you, old chap - I see so much in my
poor mother, of a woman drudging and slaving and breaking her
honest hart and never getting no peace in her mortal days, that I'm
dead afeerd of going wrong in the way of not doing what's right by
a woman, and I'd fur rather of the two go wrong the t'other way,
and be a little ill-conwenienced myself. I wish it was only me that
got put out, Pip; I wish there warn't no Tickler for you, old chap;
I wish I could take it all on myself; but this is the
up-and-down-and-straight on it, Pip, and I hope you'll overlook

Young as I was, I believe that I dated a new admiration of Joe from
that night. We were equals afterwards, as we had been before; but,
afterwards at quiet times when I sat looking at Joe and thinking
about him, I had a new sensation of feeling conscious that I was
looking up to Joe in my heart.

"However," said Joe, rising to replenish the fire; "here's the
Dutch-clock a working himself up to being equal to strike Eight of
'em, and she's not come home yet! I hope Uncle Pumblechook's mare
mayn't have set a fore-foot on a piece o' ice, and gone down."

Mrs. Joe made occasional trips with Uncle Pumblechook on
market-days, to assist him in buying such household stuffs and
goods as required a woman's judgment; Uncle Pumblechook being a
bachelor and reposing no confidences in his domestic servant. This
was market-day, and Mrs. Joe was out on one of these expeditions.

Joe made the fire and swept the hearth, and then we went to the
door to listen for the chaise-cart. It was a dry cold night, and
the wind blew keenly, and the frost was white and hard. A man would
die to-night of lying out on the marshes, I thought. And then I
looked at the stars, and considered how awful if would be for a man
to turn his face up to them as he froze to death, and see no help
or pity in all the glittering multitude.

"Here comes the mare," said Joe, "ringing like a peal of bells!"

The sound of her iron shoes upon the hard road was quite musical,
as she came along at a much brisker trot than usual. We got a chair
out, ready for Mrs. Joe's alighting, and stirred up the fire that
they might see a bright window, and took a final survey of the
kitchen that nothing might be out of its place. When we had
completed these preparations, they drove up, wrapped to the eyes.
Mrs. Joe was soon landed, and Uncle Pumblechook was soon down too,
covering the mare with a cloth, and we were soon all in the
kitchen, carrying so much cold air in with us that it seemed to
drive all the heat out of the fire.

"Now," said Mrs. Joe, unwrapping herself with haste and excitement,
and throwing her bonnet back on her shoulders where it hung by the
strings: "if this boy an't grateful this night, he never will be!"

I looked as grateful as any boy possibly could, who was wholly
uninformed why he ought to assume that expression.

"It's only to be hoped," said my sister, "that he won't be
Pomp-eyed. But I have my fears."

"She an't in that line, Mum," said Mr. Pumblechook. "She knows

She? I looked at Joe, making the motion with my lips and eyebrows,
"She?" Joe looked at me, making the motion with his lips and
eyebrows, "She?" My sister catching him in the act, he drew the
back of his hand across his nose with his usual conciliatory air on
such occasions, and looked at her.

"Well?" said my sister, in her snappish way. "What are you staring
at? Is the house a-fire?"

" - Which some individual," Joe politely hinted, "mentioned - she."

"And she is a she, I suppose?" said my sister. "Unless you call
Miss Havisham a he. And I doubt if even you'll go so far as that."

"Miss Havisham, up town?" said Joe.

"Is there any Miss Havisham down town?" returned my sister.

"She wants this boy to go and play there. And of course he's going.
And he had better play there," said my sister, shaking her head at
me as an encouragement to be extremely light and sportive, "or I'll
work him."

I had heard of Miss Havisham up town - everybody for miles round,
had heard of Miss Havisham up town - as an immensely rich and grim
lady who lived in a large and dismal house barricaded against
robbers, and who led a life of seclusion.

"Well to be sure!" said Joe, astounded. "I wonder how she come to
know Pip!"

"Noodle!" cried my sister. "Who said she knew him?"

" - Which some individual," Joe again politely hinted, "mentioned
that she wanted him to go and play there."

"And couldn't she ask Uncle Pumblechook if he knew of a boy to go
and play there? Isn't it just barely possible that Uncle
Pumblechook may be a tenant of hers, and that he may sometimes - we
won't say quarterly or half-yearly, for that would be requiring too
much of you - but sometimes - go there to pay his rent? And
couldn't she then ask Uncle Pumblechook if he knew of a boy to go
and play there? And couldn't Uncle Pumblechook, being always
considerate and thoughtful for us - though you may not think it,
Joseph," in a tone of the deepest reproach, as if he were the most
callous of nephews, "then mention this boy, standing Prancing here"
- which I solemnly declare I was not doing - "that I have for ever
been a willing slave to?"

"Good again!" cried Uncle Pumblechook. "Well put! Prettily pointed!
Good indeed! Now Joseph, you know the case."

"No, Joseph," said my sister, still in a reproachful manner, while
Joe apologetically drew the back of his hand across and across his
nose, "you do not yet - though you may not think it - know the
case. You may consider that you do, but you do not, Joseph. For you
do not know that Uncle Pumblechook, being sensible that for
anything we can tell, this boy's fortune may be made by his going
to Miss Havisham's, has offered to take him into town to-night in
his own chaise-cart, and to keep him to-night, and to take him with
his own hands to Miss Havisham's to-morrow morning. And Lor-a-mussy
me!" cried my sister, casting off her bonnet in sudden desperation,
"here I stand talking to mere Mooncalfs, with Uncle Pumblechook
waiting, and the mare catching cold at the door, and the boy grimed
with crock and dirt from the hair of his head to the sole of his

With that, she pounced upon me, like an eagle on a lamb, and my
face was squeezed into wooden bowls in sinks, and my head was put
under taps of water-butts, and I was soaped, and kneaded, and
towelled, and thumped, and harrowed, and rasped, until I really was
quite beside myself. (I may here remark that I suppose myself to be
better acquainted than any living authority, with the ridgy effect
of a wedding-ring, passing unsympathetically over the human

When my ablutions were completed, I was put into clean linen of the
stiffest character, like a young penitent into sackcloth, and was
trussed up in my tightest and fearfullest suit. I was then
delivered over to Mr. Pumblechook, who formally received me as if he
were the Sheriff, and who let off upon me the speech that I knew he
had been dying to make all along: "Boy, be for ever grateful to all
friends, but especially unto them which brought you up by hand!"

"Good-bye, Joe!"

"God bless you, Pip, old chap!"

I had never parted from him before, and what with my feelings and
what with soap-suds, I could at first see no stars from the
chaise-cart. But they twinkled out one by one, without throwing any
light on the questions why on earth I was going to play at Miss
Havisham's, and what on earth I was expected to play at.

Chapter 8

Mr. Pumblechook's premises in the High-street of the market town,
were of a peppercorny and farinaceous character, as the premises of
a corn-chandler and seedsman should be. It appeared to me that he
must be a very happy man indeed, to have so many little drawers in
his shop; and I wondered when I peeped into one or two on the lower
tiers, and saw the tied-up brown paper packets inside, whether the
flower-seeds and bulbs ever wanted of a fine day to break out of
those jails, and bloom.

It was in the early morning after my arrival that I entertained
this speculation. On the previous night, I had been sent straight
to bed in an attic with a sloping roof, which was so low in the
corner where the bedstead was, that I calculated the tiles as being
within a foot of my eyebrows. In the same early morning, I
discovered a singular affinity between seeds and corduroys. Mr.
Pumblechook wore corduroys, and so did his shopman; and somehow,
there was a general air and flavour about the corduroys, so much in
the nature of seeds, and a general air and flavour about the seeds,
so much in the nature of corduroys, that I hardly knew which was
which. The same opportunity served me for noticing that Mr.
Pumblechook appeared to conduct his business by looking across the
street at the saddler, who appeared to transact his business by
keeping his eye on the coach-maker, who appeared to get on in life
by putting his hands in his pockets and contemplating the baker,
who in his turn folded his arms and stared at the grocer, who stood
at his door and yawned at the chemist. The watch-maker, always
poring over a little desk with a magnifying glass at his eye, and
always inspected by a group of smock-frocks poring over him through
the glass of his shop-window, seemed to be about the only person in
the High-street whose trade engaged his attention.

Mr. Pumblechook and I breakfasted at eight o'clock in the parlour
behind the shop, while the shopman took his mug of tea and hunch of
bread-and-butter on a sack of peas in the front premises. I
considered Mr. Pumblechook wretched company. Besides being possessed
by my sister's idea that a mortifying and penitential character
ought to be imparted to my diet - besides giving me as much crumb
as possible in combination with as little butter, and putting such
a quantity of warm water into my milk that it would have been more
candid to have left the milk out altogether - his conversation
consisted of nothing but arithmetic. On my politely bidding him
Good morning, he said, pompously, "Seven times nine, boy?" And how
should I be able to answer, dodged in that way, in a strange place,
on an empty stomach! I was hungry, but before I had swallowed a
morsel, he began a running sum that lasted all through the
breakfast. "Seven?" "And four?" "And eight?" "And six?" "And two?"
"And ten?" And so on. And after each figure was disposed of, it was
as much as I could do to get a bite or a sup, before the next came;
while he sat at his ease guessing nothing, and eating bacon and hot
roll, in (if I may be allowed the expression) a gorging and
gormandising manner.

For such reasons I was very glad when ten o'clock came and we
started for Miss Havisham's; though I was not at all at my ease
regarding the manner in which I should acquit myself under that
lady's roof. Within a quarter of an hour we came to Miss Havisham's
house, which was of old brick, and dismal, and had a great many
iron bars to it. Some of the windows had been walled up; of those
that remained, all the lower were rustily barred. There was a
court-yard in front, and that was barred; so, we had to wait, after
ringing the bell, until some one should come to open it. While we
waited at the gate, I peeped in (even then Mr. Pumblechook said,
"And fourteen?" but I pretended not to hear him), and saw that at
the side of the house there was a large brewery. No brewing was going
on in it, and none seemed to have gone on for a long long time.

A window was raised, and a clear voice demanded "What name?" To
which my conductor replied, "Pumblechook." The voice returned,
"Quite right," and the window was shut again, and a young lady came
across the court-yard, with keys in her hand.

"This," said Mr. Pumblechook, "is Pip."

"This is Pip, is it?" returned the young lady, who was very pretty
and seemed very proud; "come in, Pip."

Mr. Pumblechook was coming in also, when she stopped him with the

"Oh!" she said. "Did you wish to see Miss Havisham?"

"If Miss Havisham wished to see me," returned Mr. Pumblechook,

"Ah!" said the girl; "but you see she don't."

She said it so finally, and in such an undiscussible way, that Mr.
Pumblechook, though in a condition of ruffled dignity, could not
protest. But he eyed me severely - as if I had done anything to
him! - and departed with the words reproachfully delivered: "Boy!
Let your behaviour here be a credit unto them which brought you up
by hand!" I was not free from apprehension that he would come back
to propound through the gate, "And sixteen?" But he didn't.

My young conductress locked the gate, and we went across the
court-yard. It was paved and clean, but grass was growing in every
crevice. The brewery buildings had a little lane of communication
with it, and the wooden gates of that lane stood open, and all the
brewery beyond, stood open, away to the high enclosing wall; and
all was empty and disused. The cold wind seemed to blow colder
there, than outside the gate; and it made a shrill noise in howling
in and out at the open sides of the brewery, like the noise of wind
in the rigging of a ship at sea.

She saw me looking at it, and she said, "You could drink without
hurt all the strong beer that's brewed there now, boy."

"I should think I could, miss," said I, in a shy way.

"Better not try to brew beer there now, or it would turn out sour,
boy; don't you think so?"

"It looks like it, miss."

"Not that anybody means to try," she added, "for that's all done
with, and the place will stand as idle as it is, till it falls. As
to strong beer, there's enough of it in the cellars already, to
drown the Manor House."

"Is that the name of this house, miss?"

"One of its names, boy."

"It has more than one, then, miss?"

"One more. Its other name was Satis; which is Greek, or Latin, or
Hebrew, or all three - or all one to me - for enough."

"Enough House," said I; "that's a curious name, miss."

"Yes," she replied; "but it meant more than it said. It meant, when
it was given, that whoever had this house, could want nothing else.
They must have been easily satisfied in those days, I should think.
But don't loiter, boy."

Though she called me "boy" so often, and with a carelessness that
was far from complimentary, she was of about my own age. She seemed
much older than I, of course, being a girl, and beautiful and
self-possessed; and she was as scornful of me as if she had been
one-and-twenty, and a queen.

We went into the house by a side door - the great front entrance
had two chains across it outside - and the first thing I noticed
was, that the passages were all dark, and that she had left a
candle burning there. She took it up, and we went through more
passages and up a staircase, and still it was all dark, and only
the candle lighted us.

At last we came to the door of a room, and she said, "Go in."

I answered, more in shyness than politeness, "After you, miss."

To this, she returned: "Don't be ridiculous, boy; I am not going
in." And scornfully walked away, and - what was worse - took the
candle with her.

This was very uncomfortable, and I was half afraid. However, the
only thing to be done being to knock at the door, I knocked, and
was told from within to enter. I entered, therefore, and found
myself in a pretty large room, well lighted with wax candles. No
glimpse of daylight was to be seen in it. It was a dressing-room,
as I supposed from the furniture, though much of it was of forms
and uses then quite unknown to me. But prominent in it was a draped
table with a gilded looking-glass, and that I made out at first
sight to be a fine lady's dressing-table.

Whether I should have made out this object so soon, if there had
been no fine lady sitting at it, I cannot say. In an arm-chair,
with an elbow resting on the table and her head leaning on that
hand, sat the strangest lady I have ever seen, or shall ever see.

She was dressed in rich materials - satins, and lace, and silks -
all of white. Her shoes were white. And she had a long white veil
dependent from her hair, and she had bridal flowers in her hair,
but her hair was white. Some bright jewels sparkled on her neck and
on her hands, and some other jewels lay sparkling on the table.
Dresses, less splendid than the dress she wore, and half-packed
trunks, were scattered about. She had not quite finished dressing,
for she had but one shoe on - the other was on the table near her
hand - her veil was but half arranged, her watch and chain were not
put on, and some lace for her bosom lay with those trinkets, and
with her handkerchief, and gloves, and some flowers, and a
prayer-book, all confusedly heaped about the looking-glass.

It was not in the first few moments that I saw all these things,
though I saw more of them in the first moments than might be
supposed. But, I saw that everything within my view which ought to
be white, had been white long ago, and had lost its lustre, and was
faded and yellow. I saw that the bride within the bridal dress had
withered like the dress, and like the flowers, and had no
brightness left but the brightness of her sunken eyes. I saw that
the dress had been put upon the rounded figure of a young woman,
and that the figure upon which it now hung loose, had shrunk to
skin and bone. Once, I had been taken to see some ghastly waxwork
at the Fair, representing I know not what impossible personage
lying in state. Once, I had been taken to one of our old marsh
churches to see a skeleton in the ashes of a rich dress, that had
been dug out of a vault under the church pavement. Now, waxwork and
skeleton seemed to have dark eyes that moved and looked at me. I
should have cried out, if I could.

"Who is it?" said the lady at the table.

"Pip, ma'am."


"Mr. Pumblechook's boy, ma'am. Come - to play."

"Come nearer; let me look at you. Come close."

It was when I stood before her, avoiding her eyes, that I took note
of the surrounding objects in detail, and saw that her watch had
stopped at twenty minutes to nine, and that a clock in the room had
stopped at twenty minutes to nine.

"Look at me," said Miss Havisham. "You are not afraid of a woman
who has never seen the sun since you were born?"

I regret to state that I was not afraid of telling the enormous lie
comprehended in the answer "No."

"Do you know what I touch here?" she said, laying her hands, one
upon the other, on her left side.

"Yes, ma'am." (It made me think of the young man.)

"What do I touch?"

"Your heart."


She uttered the word with an eager look, and with strong emphasis,
and with a weird smile that had a kind of boast in it. Afterwards,
she kept her hands there for a little while, and slowly took them
away as if they were heavy.

"I am tired," said Miss Havisham. "I want diversion, and I have
done with men and women. Play."

I think it will be conceded by my most disputatious reader, that
she could hardly have directed an unfortunate boy to do anything in
the wide world more difficult to be done under the circumstances.

"I sometimes have sick fancies," she went on, "and I have a sick
fancy that I want to see some play. There there!" with an impatient
movement of the fingers of her right hand; "play, play, play!"

For a moment, with the fear of my sister's working me before my
eyes, I had a desperate idea of starting round the room in the
assumed character of Mr. Pumblechook's chaise-cart. But, I felt
myself so unequal to the performance that I gave it up, and stood
looking at Miss Havisham in what I suppose she took for a dogged
manner, inasmuch as she said, when we had taken a good look at each

"Are you sullen and obstinate?"

"No, ma'am, I am very sorry for you, and very sorry I can't play
just now. If you complain of me I shall get into trouble with my
sister, so I would do it if I could; but it's so new here, and so
strange, and so fine - and melancholy--." I stopped, fearing I might
say too much, or had already said it, and we took another look at
each other.

Before she spoke again, she turned her eyes from me, and looked at
the dress she wore, and at the dressing-table, and finally at
herself in the looking-glass.

"So new to him," she muttered, "so old to me; so strange to him, so
familiar to me; so melancholy to both of us! Call Estella."

As she was still looking at the reflection of herself, I thought
she was still talking to herself, and kept quiet.

"Call Estella," she repeated, flashing a look at me. "You can do
that. Call Estella. At the door."

To stand in the dark in a mysterious passage of an unknown house,
bawling Estella to a scornful young lady neither visible nor
responsive, and feeling it a dreadful liberty so to roar out her
name, was almost as bad as playing to order. But, she answered at
last, and her light came along the dark passage like a star.

Miss Havisham beckoned her to come close, and took up a jewel from
the table, and tried its effect upon her fair young bosom and
against her pretty brown hair. "Your own, one day, my dear, and you
will use it well. Let me see you play cards with this boy."

"With this boy? Why, he is a common labouring-boy!"

I thought I overheard Miss Havisham answer - only it seemed so
unlikely - "Well? You can break his heart."

"What do you play, boy?" asked Estella of myself, with the greatest

"Nothing but beggar my neighbour, miss."

"Beggar him," said Miss Havisham to Estella. So we sat down to

It was then I began to understand that everything in the room had
stopped, like the watch and the clock, a long time ago. I noticed
that Miss Havisham put down the jewel exactly on the spot from
which she had taken it up. As Estella dealt the cards, I glanced at
the dressing-table again, and saw that the shoe upon it, once
white, now yellow, had never been worn. I glanced down at the foot
from which the shoe was absent, and saw that the silk stocking on
it, once white, now yellow, had been trodden ragged. Without this
arrest of everything, this standing still of all the pale decayed
objects, not even the withered bridal dress on the collapsed from
could have looked so like grave-clothes, or the long veil so like a

So she sat, corpse-like, as we played at cards; the frillings and
trimmings on her bridal dress, looking like earthy paper. I knew
nothing then, of the discoveries that are occasionally made of
bodies buried in ancient times, which fall to powder in the moment
of being distinctly seen; but, I have often thought since, that she
must have looked as if the admission of the natural light of day
would have struck her to dust.

"He calls the knaves, Jacks, this boy!" said Estella with disdain,
before our first game was out. "And what coarse hands he has! And
what thick boots!"

I had never thought of being ashamed of my hands before; but I
began to consider them a very indifferent pair. Her contempt for me
was so strong, that it became infectious, and I caught it.

She won the game, and I dealt. I misdealt, as was only natural,
when I knew she was lying in wait for me to do wrong; and she
denounced me for a stupid, clumsy labouring-boy.

"You say nothing of her," remarked Miss Havisham to me, as she
looked on. "She says many hard things of you, but you say nothing
of her. What do you think of her?"

"I don't like to say," I stammered.

"Tell me in my ear," said Miss Havisham, bending down.

"I think she is very proud," I replied, in a whisper.

"Anything else?"

"I think she is very pretty."

"Anything else?"

"I think she is very insulting." (She was looking at me then with a
look of supreme aversion.)

"Anything else?"

"I think I should like to go home."

"And never see her again, though she is so pretty?"

"I am not sure that I shouldn't like to see her again, but I should
like to go home now."

"You shall go soon," said Miss Havisham, aloud. "Play the game

Saving for the one weird smile at first, I should have felt almost
sure that Miss Havisham's face could not smile. It had dropped into
a watchful and brooding expression - most likely when all the
things about her had become transfixed - and it looked as if
nothing could ever lift it up again. Her chest had dropped, so that
she stooped; and her voice had dropped, so that she spoke low, and
with a dead lull upon her; altogether, she had the appearance of
having dropped, body and soul, within and without, under the weight
of a crushing blow.

I played the game to an end with Estella, and she beggared me. She
threw the cards down on the table when she had won them all, as if
she despised them for having been won of me.

"When shall I have you here again?" said miss Havisham. "Let me

I was beginning to remind her that to-day was Wednesday, when she
checked me with her former impatient movement of the fingers of her
right hand.

"There, there! I know nothing of days of the week; I know nothing
of weeks of the year. Come again after six days. You hear?"

"Yes, ma'am."

"Estella, take him down. Let him have something to eat, and let him
roam and look about him while he eats. Go, Pip."

I followed the candle down, as I had followed the candle up, and
she stood it in the place where we had found it. Until she opened
the side entrance, I had fancied, without thinking about it, that
it must necessarily be night-time. The rush of the daylight quite
confounded me, and made me feel as if I had been in the candlelight
of the strange room many hours.

"You are to wait here, you boy," said Estella; and disappeared and
closed the door.

I took the opportunity of being alone in the court-yard, to look at
my coarse hands and my common boots. My opinion of those
accessories was not favourable. They had never troubled me before,
but they troubled me now, as vulgar appendages. I determined to ask
Joe why he had ever taught me to call those picture-cards, Jacks,
which ought to be called knaves. I wished Joe had been rather more
genteelly brought up, and then I should have been so too.

She came back, with some bread and meat and a little mug of beer.
She put the mug down on the stones of the yard, and gave me the
bread and meat without looking at me, as insolently as if I were a
dog in disgrace. I was so humiliated, hurt, spurned, offended,
angry, sorry - I cannot hit upon the right name for the smart - God
knows what its name was - that tears started to my eyes. The moment
they sprang there, the girl looked at me with a quick delight in
having been the cause of them. This gave me power to keep them back
and to look at her: so, she gave a contemptuous toss - but with a
sense, I thought, of having made too sure that I was so wounded -
and left me.

But, when she was gone, I looked about me for a place to hide my
face in, and got behind one of the gates in the brewery-lane, and
leaned my sleeve against the wall there, and leaned my forehead on
it and cried. As I cried, I kicked the wall, and took a hard twist
at my hair; so bitter were my feelings, and so sharp was the smart
without a name, that needed counteraction.

My sister's bringing up had made me sensitive. In the little world
in which children have their existence whosoever brings them up,
there is nothing so finely perceived and so finely felt, as
injustice. It may be only small injustice that the child can be
exposed to; but the child is small, and its world is small, and its
rocking-horse stands as many hands high, according to scale, as a
big-boned Irish hunter. Within myself, I had sustained, from my
babyhood, a perpetual conflict with injustice. I had known, from
the time when I could speak, that my sister, in her capricious and
violent coercion, was unjust to me. I had cherished a profound
conviction that her bringing me up by hand, gave her no right to
bring me up by jerks. Through all my punishments, disgraces, fasts
and vigils, and other penitential performances, I had nursed this
assurance; and to my communing so much with it, in a solitary and
unprotected way, I in great part refer the fact that I was morally
timid and very sensitive.

I got rid of my injured feelings for the time, by kicking them into
the brewery wall, and twisting them out of my hair, and then I
smoothed my face with my sleeve, and came from behind the gate. The
bread and meat were acceptable, and the beer was warming and
tingling, and I was soon in spirits to look about me.

To be sure, it was a deserted place, down to the pigeon-house in
the brewery-yard, which had been blown crooked on its pole by some
high wind, and would have made the pigeons think themselves at sea,
if there had been any pigeons there to be rocked by it. But, there
were no pigeons in the dove-cot, no horses in the stable, no pigs
in the sty, no malt in the store-house, no smells of grains and
beer in the copper or the vat. All the uses and scents of the
brewery might have evaporated with its last reek of smoke. In a
by-yard, there was a wilderness of empty casks, which had a certain
sour remembrance of better days lingering about them; but it was
too sour to be accepted as a sample of the beer that was gone - and
in this respect I remember those recluses as being like most

Behind the furthest end of the brewery, was a rank garden with an
old wall: not so high but that I could struggle up and hold on long
enough to look over it, and see that the rank garden was the garden
of the house, and that it was overgrown with tangled weeds, but
that there was a track upon the green and yellow paths, as if some
one sometimes walked there, and that Estella was walking away from
me even then. But she seemed to be everywhere. For, when I yielded
to the temptation presented by the casks, and began to walk on
them. I saw her walking on them at the end of the yard of casks.
She had her back towards me, and held her pretty brown hair spread
out in her two hands, and never looked round, and passed out of my
view directly. So, in the brewery itself - by which I mean the
large paved lofty place in which they used to make the beer, and
where the brewing utensils still were. When I first went into it,
and, rather oppressed by its gloom, stood near the door looking
about me, I saw her pass among the extinguished fires, and ascend
some light iron stairs, and go out by a gallery high overhead, as
if she were going out into the sky.

It was in this place, and at this moment, that a strange thing
happened to my fancy. I thought it a strange thing then, and I
thought it a stranger thing long afterwards. I turned my eyes - a
little dimmed by looking up at the frosty light - towards a great
wooden beam in a low nook of the building near me on my right hand,
and I saw a figure hanging there by the neck. A figure all in
yellow white, with but one shoe to the feet; and it hung so, that I
could see that the faded trimmings of the dress were like earthy
paper, and that the face was Miss Havisham's, with a movement going
over the whole countenance as if she were trying to call to me. In
the terror of seeing the figure, and in the terror of being certain
that it had not been there a moment before, I at first ran from it,
and then ran towards it. And my terror was greatest of all, when I
found no figure there.

Nothing less than the frosty light of the cheerful sky, the sight
of people passing beyond the bars of the court-yard gate, and the
reviving influence of the rest of the bread and meat and beer,
would have brought me round. Even with those aids, I might not have
come to myself as soon as I did, but that I saw Estella approaching
with the keys, to let me out. She would have some fair reason for
looking down upon me, I thought, if she saw me frightened; and she
would have no fair reason.

She gave me a triumphant glance in passing me, as if she rejoiced
that my hands were so coarse and my boots were so thick, and she
opened the gate, and stood holding it. I was passing out without
looking at her, when she touched me with a taunting hand.

"Why don't you cry?"

"Because I don't want to."

"You do," said she. "You have been crying till you are half blind,
and you are near crying again now."

She laughed contemptuously, pushed me out, and locked the gate upon
me. I went straight to Mr. Pumblechook's, and was immensely relieved
to find him not at home. So, leaving word with the shopman on what
day I was wanted at Miss Havisham's again, I set off on the
four-mile walk to our forge; pondering, as I went along, on all I
had seen, and deeply revolving that I was a common labouring-boy;
that my hands were coarse; that my boots were thick; that I had
fallen into a despicable habit of calling knaves Jacks; that I was
much more ignorant than I had considered myself last night, and
generally that I was in a low-lived bad way.

Chapter 9

When I reached home, my sister was very curious to know all about
Miss Havisham's, and asked a number of questions. And I soon found
myself getting heavily bumped from behind in the nape of the neck
and the small of the back, and having my face ignominiously shoved
against the kitchen wall, because I did not answer those questions
at sufficient length.

If a dread of not being understood be hidden in the breasts of
other young people to anything like the extent to which it used to
be hidden in mine - which I consider probable, as I have no
particular reason to suspect myself of having been a monstrosity -
it is the key to many reservations. I felt convinced that if I
described Miss Havisham's as my eyes had seen it, I should not be
understood. Not only that, but I felt convinced that Miss Havisham
too would not be understood; and although she was perfectly
incomprehensible to me, I entertained an impression that there
would be something coarse and treacherous in my dragging her as she
really was (to say nothing of Miss Estella) before the
contemplation of Mrs. Joe. Consequently, I said as little as I
could, and had my face shoved against the kitchen wall.

The worst of it was that that bullying old Pumblechook, preyed upon
by a devouring curiosity to be informed of all I had seen and
heard, came gaping over in his chaise-cart at tea-time, to have the
details divulged to him. And the mere sight of the torment, with
his fishy eyes and mouth open, his sandy hair inquisitively on end,
and his waistcoat heaving with windy arithmetic, made me vicious in
my reticence.

"Well, boy," Uncle Pumblechook began, as soon as he was seated in
the chair of honour by the fire. "How did you get on up town?"

I answered, "Pretty well, sir," and my sister shook her fist at me.

"Pretty well?" Mr. Pumblechook repeated. "Pretty well is no answer.
Tell us what you mean by pretty well, boy?"

Whitewash on the forehead hardens the brain into a state of
obstinacy perhaps. Anyhow, with whitewash from the wall on my
forehead, my obstinacy was adamantine. I reflected for some time,
and then answered as if I had discovered a new idea, "I mean pretty

My sister with an exclamation of impatience was going to fly at me
- I had no shadow of defence, for Joe was busy in the forge when Mr.
Pumblechook interposed with "No! Don't lose your temper. Leave this
lad to me, ma'am; leave this lad to me." Mr. Pumblechook then turned
me towards him, as if he were going to cut my hair, and said:

"First (to get our thoughts in order): Forty-three pence?"

I calculated the consequences of replying "Four Hundred Pound," and
finding them against me, went as near the answer as I could - which
was somewhere about eightpence off. Mr. Pumblechook then put me
through my pence-table from "twelve pence make one shilling," up to
"forty pence make three and fourpence," and then triumphantly
demanded, as if he had done for me, "Now! How much is forty-three
pence?" To which I replied, after a long interval of reflection, "I
don't know." And I was so aggravated that I almost doubt if I did

Mr. Pumblechook worked his head like a screw to screw it out of me,
and said, "Is forty-three pence seven and sixpence three fardens,
for instance?"

"Yes!" said I. And although my sister instantly boxed my ears, it
was highly gratifying to me to see that the answer spoilt his joke,
and brought him to a dead stop.

"Boy! What like is Miss Havisham?" Mr. Pumblechook began again when
he had recovered; folding his arms tight on his chest and applying
the screw.

"Very tall and dark," I told him.

"Is she, uncle?" asked my sister.

Mr. Pumblechook winked assent; from which I at once inferred that he
had never seen Miss Havisham, for she was nothing of the kind.

"Good!" said Mr. Pumblechook conceitedly. ("This is the way to have
him! We are beginning to hold our own, I think, Mum?")

"I am sure, uncle," returned Mrs. Joe, "I wish you had him always:
you know so well how to deal with him."

"Now, boy! What was she a-doing of, when you went in today?" asked
Mr. Pumblechook.

"She was sitting," I answered, "in a black velvet coach."

Mr. Pumblechook and Mrs. Joe stared at one another - as they well
might - and both repeated, "In a black velvet coach?"

"Yes," said I. "And Miss Estella - that's her niece, I think -
handed her in cake and wine at the coach-window, on a gold plate.
And we all had cake and wine on gold plates. And I got up behind
the coach to eat mine, because she told me to."

"Was anybody else there?" asked Mr. Pumblechook.

"Four dogs," said I.

"Large or small?"

"Immense," said I. "And they fought for veal cutlets out of a
silver basket."

Mr. Pumblechook and Mrs. Joe stared at one another again, in utter
amazement. I was perfectly frantic - a reckless witness under the
torture - and would have told them anything.

"Where was this coach, in the name of gracious?" asked my sister.

"In Miss Havisham's room." They stared again. "But there weren't
any horses to it." I added this saving clause, in the moment of
rejecting four richly caparisoned coursers which I had had wild
thoughts of harnessing.

"Can this be possible, uncle?" asked Mrs. Joe. "What can the boy

"I'll tell you, Mum," said Mr. Pumblechook. "My opinion is, it's a
sedan-chair. She's flighty, you know - very flighty - quite flighty
enough to pass her days in a sedan-chair."

"Did you ever see her in it, uncle?" asked Mrs. Joe.

"How could I," he returned, forced to the admission, "when I never
see her in my life? Never clapped eyes upon her!"

"Goodness, uncle! And yet you have spoken to her?"

"Why, don't you know," said Mr. Pumblechook, testily, "that when I
have been there, I have been took up to the outside of her door,
and the door has stood ajar, and she has spoke to me that way.
Don't say you don't know that, Mum. Howsever, the boy went there to
play. What did you play at, boy?"

"We played with flags," I said. (I beg to observe that I think of
myself with amazement, when I recall the lies I told on this

"Flags!" echoed my sister.

"Yes," said I. "Estella waved a blue flag, and I waved a red one,
and Miss Havisham waved one sprinkled all over with little gold
stars, out at the coach-window. And then we all waved our swords
and hurrahed."

"Swords!" repeated my sister. "Where did you get swords from?"

"Out of a cupboard," said I. "And I saw pistols in it - and jam -
and pills. And there was no daylight in the room, but it was all
lighted up with candles."

"That's true, Mum," said Mr. Pumblechook, with a grave nod. "That's
the state of the case, for that much I've seen myself." And then
they both stared at me, and I, with an obtrusive show of
artlessness on my countenance, stared at them, and plaited the
right leg of my trousers with my right hand.

If they had asked me any more questions I should undoubtedly have
betrayed myself, for I was even then on the point of mentioning
that there was a balloon in the yard, and should have hazarded the
statement but for my invention being divided between that
phenomenon and a bear in the brewery. They were so much occupied,
however, in discussing the marvels I had already presented for
their consideration, that I escaped. The subject still held them
when Joe came in from his work to have a cup of tea. To whom my
sister, more for the relief of her own mind than for the
gratification of his, related my pretended experiences.

Now, when I saw Joe open his blue eyes and roll them all round the
kitchen in helpless amazement, I was overtaken by penitence; but
only as regarded him - not in the least as regarded the other two.
Towards Joe, and Joe only, I considered myself a young monster,
while they sat debating what results would come to me from Miss
Havisham's acquaintance and favour. They had no doubt that Miss
Havisham would "do something" for me; their doubts related to the
form that something would take. My sister stood out for "property."
Mr. Pumblechook was in favour of a handsome premium for binding me
apprentice to some genteel trade - say, the corn and seed trade,
for instance. Joe fell into the deepest disgrace with both, for
offering the bright suggestion that I might only be presented with
one of the dogs who had fought for the veal-cutlets. "If a fool's
head can't express better opinions than that," said my sister, "and
you have got any work to do, you had better go and do it." So he

After Mr. Pumblechook had driven off, and when my sister was washing
up, I stole into the forge to Joe, and remained by him until he had
done for the night. Then I said, "Before the fire goes out, Joe, I
should like to tell you something."

"Should you, Pip?" said Joe, drawing his shoeing-stool near the
forge. "Then tell us. What is it, Pip?"

"Joe," said I, taking hold of his rolled-up shirt sleeve, and
twisting it between my finger and thumb, "you remember all that
about Miss Havisham's?"

"Remember?" said Joe. "I believe you! Wonderful!"

"It's a terrible thing, Joe; it ain't true."

"What are you telling of, Pip?" cried Joe, falling back in the
greatest amazement. "You don't mean to say it's--"

"Yes I do; it's lies, Joe."

"But not all of it? Why sure you don't mean to say, Pip, that there
was no black welwet coach?" For, I stood shaking my head. "But at
least there was dogs, Pip? Come, Pip," said Joe, persuasively, "if
there warn't no weal-cutlets, at least there was dogs?"

"No, Joe."

"A dog?" said Joe. "A puppy? Come?"

"No, Joe, there was nothing at all of the kind."

As I fixed my eyes hopelessly on Joe, Joe contemplated me in
dismay. "Pip, old chap! This won't do, old fellow! I say! Where do
you expect to go to?"

"It's terrible, Joe; an't it?"

"Terrible?" cried Joe. "Awful! What possessed you?"

"I don't know what possessed me, Joe," I replied, letting his shirt
sleeve go, and sitting down in the ashes at his feet, hanging my
head; "but I wish you hadn't taught me to call Knaves at cards,
Jacks; and I wish my boots weren't so thick nor my hands so

And then I told Joe that I felt very miserable, and that I hadn't
been able to explain myself to Mrs. Joe and Pumblechook who were so
rude to me, and that there had been a beautiful young lady at Miss
Havisham's who was dreadfully proud, and that she had said I was
common, and that I knew I was common, and that I wished I was not
common, and that the lies had come of it somehow, though I didn't
know how.

This was a case of metaphysics, at least as difficult for Joe to
deal with, as for me. But Joe took the case altogether out of the
region of metaphysics, and by that means vanquished it.

"There's one thing you may be sure of, Pip," said Joe, after some
rumination, "namely, that lies is lies. Howsever they come, they
didn't ought to come, and they come from the father of lies, and
work round to the same. Don't you tell no more of 'em, Pip. That
ain't the way to get out of being common, old chap. And as to being
common, I don't make it out at all clear. You are oncommon in some
things. You're oncommon small. Likewise you're a oncommon scholar."

"No, I am ignorant and backward, Joe."

"Why, see what a letter you wrote last night! Wrote in print even!
I've seen letters - Ah! and from gentlefolks! - that I'll swear
weren't wrote in print," said Joe.

"I have learnt next to nothing, Joe. You think much of me. It's
only that."

"Well, Pip," said Joe, "be it so or be it son't, you must be a
common scholar afore you can be a oncommon one, I should hope! The
king upon his throne, with his crown upon his 'ed, can't sit and
write his acts of Parliament in print, without having begun, when
he were a unpromoted Prince, with the alphabet - Ah!" added Joe,
with a shake of the head that was full of meaning, "and begun at A
too, and worked his way to Z. And I know what that is to do, though
I can't say I've exactly done it."

There was some hope in this piece of wisdom, and it rather
encouraged me.

"Whether common ones as to callings and earnings," pursued Joe,
reflectively, "mightn't be the better of continuing for a keep
company with common ones, instead of going out to play with
oncommon ones - which reminds me to hope that there were a flag,

"No, Joe."

"(I'm sorry there weren't a flag, Pip). Whether that might be, or
mightn't be, is a thing as can't be looked into now, without
putting your sister on the Rampage; and that's a thing not to be
thought of, as being done intentional. Lookee here, Pip, at what is
said to you by a true friend. Which this to you the true friend
say. If you can't get to be oncommon through going straight, you'll
never get to do it through going crooked. So don't tell no more on
'em, Pip, and live well and die happy."

"You are not angry with me, Joe?"

"No, old chap. But bearing in mind that them were which I
meantersay of a stunning and outdacious sort - alluding to them
which bordered on weal-cutlets and dog-fighting - a sincere
wellwisher would adwise, Pip, their being dropped into your
meditations, when you go up-stairs to bed. That's all, old chap,
and don't never do it no more."

When I got up to my little room and said my prayers, I did not
forget Joe's recommendation, and yet my young mind was in that
disturbed and unthankful state, that I thought long after I laid me
down, how common Estella would consider Joe, a mere blacksmith: how
thick his boots, and how coarse his hands. I thought how Joe and my
sister were then sitting in the kitchen, and how I had come up to
bed from the kitchen, and how Miss Havisham and Estella never sat
in a kitchen, but were far above the level of such common doings. I
fell asleep recalling what I "used to do" when I was at Miss
Havisham's; as though I had been there weeks or months, instead of
hours; and as though it were quite an old subject of remembrance,
instead of one that had arisen only that day.

That was a memorable day to me, for it made great changes in me.
But, it is the same with any life. Imagine one selected day struck
out of it, and think how different its course would have been.
Pause you who read this, and think for a moment of the long chain
of iron or gold, of thorns or flowers, that would never have bound
you, but for the formation of the first link on one memorable day.

Chapter 10

The felicitous idea occurred to me a morning or two later when I
woke, that the best step I could take towards making myself
uncommon was to get out of Biddy everything she knew. In pursuance
of this luminous conception I mentioned to Biddy when I went to Mr.
Wopsle's great-aunt's at night, that I had a particular reason for
wishing to get on in life, and that I should feel very much obliged
to her if she would impart all her learning to me. Biddy, who was
the most obliging of girls, immediately said she would, and indeed
began to carry out her promise within five minutes.

The Educational scheme or Course established by Mr. Wopsle's
great-aunt may be resolved into the following synopsis. The pupils
ate apples and put straws down one another's backs, until Mr
Wopsle's great-aunt collected her energies, and made an
indiscriminate totter at them with a birch-rod. After receiving the
charge with every mark of derision, the pupils formed in line and
buzzingly passed a ragged book from hand to hand. The book had an
alphabet in it, some figures and tables, and a little spelling -
that is to say, it had had once. As soon as this volume began to
circulate, Mr. Wopsle's great-aunt fell into a state of coma;
arising either from sleep or a rheumatic paroxysm. The pupils then
entered among themselves upon a competitive examination on the
subject of Boots, with the view of ascertaining who could tread the
hardest upon whose toes. This mental exercise lasted until Biddy
made a rush at them and distributed three defaced Bibles (shaped as
if they had been unskilfully cut off the chump-end of something),
more illegibly printed at the best than any curiosities of
literature I have since met with, speckled all over with ironmould,
and having various specimens of the insect world smashed between
their leaves. This part of the Course was usually lightened by
several single combats between Biddy and refractory students. When
the fights were over, Biddy gave out the number of a page, and then
we all read aloud what we could - or what we couldn't - in a
frightful chorus; Biddy leading with a high shrill monotonous
voice, and none of us having the least notion of, or reverence for,
what we were reading about. When this horrible din had lasted a
certain time, it mechanically awoke Mr. Wopsle's great-aunt, who
staggered at a boy fortuitously, and pulled his ears. This was
understood to terminate the Course for the evening, and we emerged
into the air with shrieks of intellectual victory. It is fair to
remark that there was no prohibition against any pupil's
entertaining himself with a slate or even with the ink (when there
was any), but that it was not easy to pursue that branch of study
in the winter season, on account of the little general shop in
which the classes were holden - and which was also Mr. Wopsle's
great-aunt's sitting-room and bed-chamber - being but faintly
illuminated through the agency of one low-spirited dip-candle and
no snuffers.

It appeared to me that it would take time, to become uncommon under
these circumstances: nevertheless, I resolved to try it, and that
very evening Biddy entered on our special agreement, by imparting
some information from her little catalogue of Prices, under the
head of moist sugar, and lending me, to copy at home, a large old
English D which she had imitated from the heading of some
newspaper, and which I supposed, until she told me what it was, to
be a design for a buckle.

Of course there was a public-house in the village, and of course
Joe liked sometimes to smoke his pipe there. I had received strict
orders from my sister to call for him at the Three Jolly Bargemen,
that evening, on my way from school, and bring him home at my
peril. To the Three Jolly Bargemen, therefore, I directed my steps.

There was a bar at the Jolly Bargemen, with some alarmingly long
chalk scores in it on the wall at the side of the door, which
seemed to me to be never paid off. They had been there ever since I
could remember, and had grown more than I had. But there was a
quantity of chalk about our country, and perhaps the people
neglected no opportunity of turning it to account.

It being Saturday night, I found the landlord looking rather grimly
at these records, but as my business was with Joe and not with him,
I merely wished him good evening, and passed into the common room
at the end of the passage, where there was a bright large kitchen
fire, and where Joe was smoking his pipe in company with Mr. Wopsle
and a stranger. Joe greeted me as usual with "Halloa, Pip, old
chap!" and the moment he said that, the stranger turned his head
and looked at me.

He was a secret-looking man whom I had never seen before. His head
was all on one side, and one of his eyes was half shut up, as if he
were taking aim at something with an invisible gun. He had a pipe
in his mouth, and he took it out, and, after slowly blowing all his
smoke away and looking hard at me all the time, nodded. So, I
nodded, and then he nodded again, and made room on the settle
beside him that I might sit down there.

But, as I was used to sit beside Joe whenever I entered that place
of resort, I said "No, thank you, sir," and fell into the space Joe
made for me on the opposite settle. The strange man, after glancing
at Joe, and seeing that his attention was otherwise engaged, nodded
to me again when I had taken my seat, and then rubbed his leg - in
a very odd way, as it struck me.

"You was saying," said the strange man, turning to Joe, "that you
was a blacksmith."

"Yes. I said it, you know," said Joe.

"What'll you drink, Mr. - ? You didn't mention your name,

Joe mentioned it now, and the strange man called him by it.
"What'll you drink, Mr. Gargery? At my expense? To top up with?"

"Well," said Joe, "to tell you the truth, I ain't much in the habit
of drinking at anybody's expense but my own."

"Habit? No," returned the stranger, "but once and away, and on a
Saturday night too. Come! Put a name to it, Mr. Gargery."

"I wouldn't wish to be stiff company," said Joe. "Rum."

"Rum," repeated the stranger. "And will the other gentleman
originate a sentiment."

"Rum," said Mr. Wopsle.

"Three Rums!" cried the stranger, calling to the landlord. "Glasses

"This other gentleman," observed Joe, by way of introducing Mr.
Wopsle, "is a gentleman that you would like to hear give it out.
Our clerk at church."

"Aha!" said the stranger, quickly, and cocking his eye at me. "The
lonely church, right out on the marshes, with graves round it!"

"That's it," said Joe.

The stranger, with a comfortable kind of grunt over his pipe, put
his legs up on the settle that he had to himself. He wore a
flapping broad-brimmed traveller's hat, and under it a handkerchief
tied over his head in the manner of a cap: so that he showed no
hair. As he looked at the fire, I thought I saw a cunning
expression, followed by a half-laugh, come into his face.

"I am not acquainted with this country, gentlemen, but it seems a
solitary country towards the river."

"Most marshes is solitary," said Joe.

"No doubt, no doubt. Do you find any gipsies, now, or tramps, or
vagrants of any sort, out there?"

"No," said Joe; "none but a runaway convict now and then. And we
don't find them, easy. Eh, Mr. Wopsle?"

Mr. Wopsle, with a majestic remembrance of old discomfiture,
assented; but not warmly.

"Seems you have been out after such?" asked the stranger.

"Once," returned Joe. "Not that we wanted to take them, you
understand; we went out as lookers on; me, and Mr. Wopsle, and Pip.
Didn't us, Pip?"

"Yes, Joe."

The stranger looked at me again - still cocking his eye, as if he
were expressly taking aim at me with his invisible gun - and said,
"He's a likely young parcel of bones that. What is it you call

"Pip," said Joe.

"Christened Pip?"

"No, not christened Pip."

"Surname Pip?"

"No," said Joe, "it's a kind of family name what he gave himself
when a infant, and is called by."

"Son of yours?"

"Well," said Joe, meditatively - not, of course, that it could be
in anywise necessary to consider about it, but because it was the
way at the Jolly Bargemen to seem to consider deeply about
everything that was discussed over pipes; "well - no. No, he

"Nevvy?" said the strange man.

"Well," said Joe, with the same appearance of profound cogitation,
"he is not - no, not to deceive you, he is not - my nevvy."

"What the Blue Blazes is he?" asked the stranger. Which appeared to
me to be an inquiry of unnecessary strength.

Mr. Wopsle struck in upon that; as one who knew all about
relationships, having professional occasion to bear in mind what
female relations a man might not marry; and expounded the ties
between me and Joe. Having his hand in, Mr. Wopsle finished off with
a most terrifically snarling passage from Richard the Third, and
seemed to think he had done quite enough to account for it when he
added, - "as the poet says."

And here I may remark that when Mr. Wopsle referred to me, he
considered it a necessary part of such reference to rumple my hair
and poke it into my eyes. I cannot conceive why everybody of his
standing who visited at our house should always have put me through
the same inflammatory process under similar circumstances. Yet I do
not call to mind that I was ever in my earlier youth the subject of
remark in our social family circle, but some large-handed person
took some such ophthalmic steps to patronize me.

All this while, the strange man looked at nobody but me, and looked
at me as if he were determined to have a shot at me at last, and
bring me down. But he said nothing after offering his Blue Blazes
observation, until the glasses of rum-and-water were brought; and
then he made his shot, and a most extraordinary shot it was.

It was not a verbal remark, but a proceeding in dump show, and was
pointedly addressed to me. He stirred his rum-and-water pointedly
at me, and he tasted his rum-and-water pointedly at me. And he
stirred it and he tasted it: not with a spoon that was brought to
him, but with a file.

He did this so that nobody but I saw the file; and when he had done
it he wiped the file and put it in a breast-pocket. I knew it to be
Joe's file, and I knew that he knew my convict, the moment I saw
the instrument. I sat gazing at him, spell-bound. But he now
reclined on his settle, taking very little notice of me, and
talking principally about turnips.

There was a delicious sense of cleaning-up and making a quiet pause
before going on in life afresh, in our village on Saturday nights,
which stimulated Joe to dare to stay out half an hour longer on
Saturdays than at other times. The half hour and the rum-and-water
running out together, Joe got up to go, and took me by the hand.

"Stop half a moment, Mr. Gargery," said the strange man. "I think
I've got a bright new shilling somewhere in my pocket, and if I
have, the boy shall have it."

He looked it out from a handful of small change, folded it in some
crumpled paper, and gave it to me. "Yours!" said he. "Mind! Your

I thanked him, staring at him far beyond the bounds of good
manners, and holding tight to Joe. He gave Joe good-night, and he
gave Mr. Wopsle good-night (who went out with us), and he gave me
only a look with his aiming eye - no, not a look, for he shut it
up, but wonders may be done with an eye by hiding it.

On the way home, if I had been in a humour for talking, the talk
must have been all on my side, for Mr. Wopsle parted from us at the
door of the Jolly Bargemen, and Joe went all the way home with his
mouth wide open, to rinse the rum out with as much air as possible.
But I was in a manner stupefied by this turning up of my old
misdeed and old acquaintance, and could think of nothing else.

My sister was not in a very bad temper when we presented ourselves
in the kitchen, and Joe was encouraged by that unusual circumstance
to tell her about the bright shilling. "A bad un, I'll be bound,"
said Mrs. Joe triumphantly, "or he wouldn't have given it to the
boy! Let's look at it."

I took it out of the paper, and it proved to be a good one. "But
what's this?" said Mrs. Joe, throwing down the shilling and catching
up the paper. "Two One-Pound notes?"

Nothing less than two fat sweltering one-pound notes that seemed to
have been on terms of the warmest intimacy with all the cattle
markets in the county. Joe caught up his hat again, and ran with
them to the Jolly Bargemen to restore them to their owner. While he
was gone, I sat down on my usual stool and looked vacantly at my
sister, feeling pretty sure that the man would not be there.

Presently, Joe came back, saying that the man was gone, but that
he, Joe, had left word at the Three Jolly Bargemen concerning the
notes. Then my sister sealed them up in a piece of paper, and put
them under some dried rose-leaves in an ornamental tea-pot on the
top of a press in the state parlour. There they remained, a
nightmare to me, many and many a night and day.

I had sadly broken sleep when I got to bed, through thinking of the
strange man taking aim at me with his invisible gun, and of the
guiltily coarse and common thing it was, to be on secret terms of
conspiracy with convicts - a feature in my low career that I had
previously forgotten. I was haunted by the file too. A dread
possessed me that when I least expected it, the file would
reappear. I coaxed myself to sleep by thinking of Miss Havisham's,
next Wednesday; and in my sleep I saw the file coming at me out of
a door, without seeing who held it, and I screamed myself awake.

Chapter 11

At the appointed time I returned to Miss Havisham's, and my
hesitating ring at the gate brought out Estella. She locked it
after admitting me, as she had done before, and again preceded me
into the dark passage where her candle stood. She took no notice of
me until she had the candle in her hand, when she looked over her
shoulder, superciliously saying, "You are to come this way today,"
and took me to quite another part of the house.

The passage was a long one, and seemed to pervade the whole square
basement of the Manor House. We traversed but one side of the
square, however, and at the end of it she stopped, and put her
candle down and opened a door. Here, the daylight reappeared, and I
found myself in a small paved court-yard, the opposite side of
which was formed by a detached dwelling-house, that looked as if it
had once belonged to the manager or head clerk of the extinct
brewery. There was a clock in the outer wall of this house. Like
the clock in Miss Havisham's room, and like Miss Havisham's watch,
it had stopped at twenty minutes to nine.

We went in at the door, which stood open, and into a gloomy room
with a low ceiling, on the ground floor at the back. There was some
company in the room, and Estella said to me as she joined it, "You
are to go and stand there, boy, till you are wanted." "There",
being the window, I crossed to it, and stood "there," in a very
uncomfortable state of mind, looking out.

It opened to the ground, and looked into a most miserable corner of
the neglected garden, upon a rank ruin of cabbage-stalks, and one
box tree that had been clipped round long ago, like a pudding, and
had a new growth at the top of it, out of shape and of a different
colour, as if that part of the pudding had stuck to the saucepan
and got burnt. This was my homely thought, as I contemplated the
box-tree. There had been some light snow, overnight, and it lay
nowhere else to my knowledge; but, it had not quite melted from the
cold shadow of this bit of garden, and the wind caught it up in
little eddies and threw it at the window, as if it pelted me for
coming there.

I divined that my coming had stopped conversation in the room, and
that its other occupants were looking at me. I could see nothing of
the room except the shining of the fire in the window glass, but I
stiffened in all my joints with the consciousness that I was under
close inspection.

There were three ladies in the room and one gentleman. Before I had
been standing at the window five minutes, they somehow conveyed to
me that they were all toadies and humbugs, but that each of them
pretended not to know that the others were toadies and humbugs:
because the admission that he or she did know it, would have made
him or her out to be a toady and humbug.

They all had a listless and dreary air of waiting somebody's
pleasure, and the most talkative of the ladies had to speak quite
rigidly to repress a yawn. This lady, whose name was Camilla, very
much reminded me of my sister, with the difference that she was
older, and (as I found when I caught sight of her) of a blunter
cast of features. Indeed, when I knew her better I began to think
it was a Mercy she had any features at all, so very blank and high
was the dead wall of her face.

"Poor dear soul!" said this lady, with an abruptness of manner
quite my sister's. "Nobody's enemy but his own!"

"It would be much more commendable to be somebody else's enemy,"
said the gentleman; "far more natural."

"Cousin Raymond," observed another lady, "we are to love our

"Sarah Pocket," returned Cousin Raymond, "if a man is not his own
neighbour, who is?"

Miss Pocket laughed, and Camilla laughed and said (checking a
yawn), "The idea!" But I thought they seemed to think it rather a
good idea too. The other lady, who had not spoken yet, said gravely
and emphatically, "Very true!"

"Poor soul!" Camilla presently went on (I knew they had all been
looking at me in the mean time), "he is so very strange! Would
anyone believe that when Tom's wife died, he actually could not be
induced to see the importance of the children's having the deepest
of trimmings to their mourning? 'Good Lord!' says he, 'Camilla,
what can it signify so long as the poor bereaved little things are
in black?' So like Matthew! The idea!"

"Good points in him, good points in him," said Cousin Raymond;
"Heaven forbid I should deny good points in him; but he never had,
and he never will have, any sense of the proprieties."

"You know I was obliged," said Camilla, "I was obliged to be firm.
I said, 'It WILL NOT DO, for the credit of the family.' I told him
that, without deep trimmings, the family was disgraced. I cried
about it from breakfast till dinner. I injured my digestion. And at
last he flung out in his violent way, and said, with a D, 'Then do
as you like.' Thank Goodness it will always be a consolation to me
to know that I instantly went out in a pouring rain and bought the

"He paid for them, did he not?" asked Estella.

"It's not the question, my dear child, who paid for them," returned
Camilla. "I bought them. And I shall often think of that with
peace, when I wake up in the night."

The ringing of a distant bell, combined with the echoing of some
cry or call along the passage by which I had come, interrupted the
conversation and caused Estella to say to me, "Now, boy!" On my
turning round, they all looked at me with the utmost contempt, and,
as I went out, I heard Sarah Pocket say, "Well I am sure! What
next!" and Camilla add, with indignation, "Was there ever such a
fancy! The i-de-a!"

As we were going with our candle along the dark passage, Estella
stopped all of a sudden, and, facing round, said in her taunting
manner with her face quite close to mine:


"Well, miss?" I answered, almost falling over her and checking

She stood looking at me, and, of course, I stood looking at her.

"Am I pretty?"

"Yes; I think you are very pretty."

"Am I insulting?"

"Not so much so as you were last time," said I.

"Not so much so?"


She fired when she asked the last question, and she slapped my face
with such force as she had, when I answered it.

"Now?" said she. "You little coarse monster, what do you think of
me now?"

"I shall not tell you."

"Because you are going to tell, up-stairs. Is that it?"

"No," said I, "that's not it."

"Why don't you cry again, you little wretch?"

"Because I'll never cry for you again," said I. Which was, I
suppose, as false a declaration as ever was made; for I was
inwardly crying for her then, and I know what I know of the pain
she cost me afterwards.

We went on our way up-stairs after this episode; and, as we were
going up, we met a gentleman groping his way down.

"Whom have we here?" asked the gentleman, stopping and looking at

"A boy," said Estella.

He was a burly man of an exceedingly dark complexion, with an
exceedingly large head and a corresponding large hand. He took my
chin in his large hand and turned up my face to have a look at me
by the light of the candle. He was prematurely bald on the top of
his head, and had bushy black eyebrows that wouldn't lie down but
stood up bristling. His eyes were set very deep in his head, and
were disagreeably sharp and suspicious. He had a large watchchain,
and strong black dots where his beard and whiskers would have been
if he had let them. He was nothing to me, and I could have had no
foresight then, that he ever would be anything to me, but it
happened that I had this opportunity of observing him well.

"Boy of the neighbourhood? Hey?" said he.

"Yes, sir," said I.

"How do you come here?"

"Miss Havisham sent for me, sir," I explained.

"Well! Behave yourself. I have a pretty large experience of boys,
and you're a bad set of fellows. Now mind!" said he, biting the
side of his great forefinger as he frowned at me, "you behave

With those words, he released me - which I was glad of, for his
hand smelt of scented soap - and went his way down-stairs. I
wondered whether he could be a doctor; but no, I thought; he
couldn't be a doctor, or he would have a quieter and more
persuasive manner. There was not much time to consider the subject,
for we were soon in Miss Havisham's room, where she and everything
else were just as I had left them. Estella left me standing near
the door, and I stood there until Miss Havisham cast her eyes upon
me from the dressing-table.

"So!" she said, without being startled or surprised; "the days have
worn away, have they?"

"Yes, ma'am. To-day is--"

"There, there, there!" with the impatient movement of her fingers.
"I don't want to know. Are you ready to play?"

I was obliged to answer in some confusion, "I don't think I am,

"Not at cards again?" she demanded, with a searching look.

"Yes, ma'am; I could do that, if I was wanted."

"Since this house strikes you old and grave, boy," said Miss
Havisham, impatiently, "and you are unwilling to play, are you
willing to work?"

I could answer this inquiry with a better heart than I had been
able to find for the other question, and I said I was quite

"Then go into that opposite room," said she, pointing at the door
behind me with her withered hand, "and wait there till I come."

I crossed the staircase landing, and entered the room she
indicated. From that room, too, the daylight was completely
excluded, and it had an airless smell that was oppressive. A fire
had been lately kindled in the damp old-fashioned grate, and it was
more disposed to go out than to burn up, and the reluctant smoke
which hung in the room seemed colder than the clearer air - like
our own marsh mist. Certain wintry branches of candles on the high
chimneypiece faintly lighted the chamber: or, it would be more
expressive to say, faintly troubled its darkness. It was spacious,
and I dare say had once been handsome, but every discernible thing
in it was covered with dust and mould, and dropping to pieces. The
most prominent object was a long table with a tablecloth spread on
it, as if a feast had been in preparation when the house and the
clocks all stopped together. An epergne or centrepiece of some kind
was in the middle of this cloth; it was so heavily overhung with
cobwebs that its form was quite undistinguishable; and, as I looked
along the yellow expanse out of which I remember its seeming to
grow, like a black fungus, I saw speckled-legged spiders with
blotchy bodies running home to it, and running out from it, as if
some circumstances of the greatest public importance had just
transpired in the spider community.

I heard the mice too, rattling behind the panels, as if the same
occurrence were important to their interests. But, the blackbeetles
took no notice of the agitation, and groped about the hearth in a
ponderous elderly way, as if they were short-sighted and hard of
hearing, and not on terms with one another.

These crawling things had fascinated my attention and I was
watching them from a distance, when Miss Havisham laid a hand upon
my shoulder. In her other hand she had a crutch-headed stick on
which she leaned, and she looked like the Witch of the place.

"This," said she, pointing to the long table with her stick, "is
where I will be laid when I am dead. They shall come and look at me

With some vague misgiving that she might get upon the table then
and there and die at once, the complete realization of the ghastly
waxwork at the Fair, I shrank under her touch.

"What do you think that is?" she asked me, again pointing with her
stick; "that, where those cobwebs are?"

"I can't guess what it is, ma'am."

"It's a great cake. A bride-cake. Mine!"

She looked all round the room in a glaring manner, and then said,
leaning on me while her hand twitched my shoulder, "Come, come,
come! Walk me, walk me!"

I made out from this, that the work I had to do, was to walk Miss
Havisham round and round the room. Accordingly, I started at once,
and she leaned upon my shoulder, and we went away at a pace that
might have been an imitation (founded on my first impulse under
that roof) of Mr. Pumblechook's chaise-cart.

She was not physically strong, and after a little time said,
"Slower!" Still, we went at an impatient fitful speed, and as we
went, she twitched the hand upon my shoulder, and worked her mouth,
and led me to believe that we were going fast because her thoughts
went fast. After a while she said, "Call Estella!" so I went out on
the landing and roared that name as I had done on the previous
occasion. When her light appeared, I returned to Miss Havisham, and
we started away again round and round the room.

If only Estella had come to be a spectator of our proceedings, I
should have felt sufficiently discontented; but, as she brought
with her the three ladies and the gentleman whom I had seen below,
I didn't know what to do. In my politeness, I would have stopped;
but, Miss Havisham twitched my shoulder, and we posted on - with a
shame-faced consciousness on my part that they would think it was
all my doing.

"Dear Miss Havisham," said Miss Sarah Pocket. "How well you look!"

"I do not," returned Miss Havisham. "I am yellow skin and bone."

Camilla brightened when Miss Pocket met with this rebuff; and she
murmured, as she plaintively contemplated Miss Havisham, "Poor dear
soul! Certainly not to be expected to look well, poor thing. The

"And how are you?" said Miss Havisham to Camilla. As we were close
to Camilla then, I would have stopped as a matter of course, only
Miss Havisham wouldn't stop. We swept on, and I felt that I was
highly obnoxious to Camilla.

"Thank you, Miss Havisham," she returned, "I am as well as can be

"Why, what's the matter with you?" asked Miss Havisham, with
exceeding sharpness.

"Nothing worth mentioning," replied Camilla. "I don't wish to make
a display of my feelings, but I have habitually thought of you more
in the night than I am quite equal to."

"Then don't think of me," retorted Miss Havisham.

"Very easily said!" remarked Camilla, amiably repressing a sob,
while a hitch came into her upper lip, and her tears overflowed.
"Raymond is a witness what ginger and sal volatile I am obliged to
take in the night. Raymond is a witness what nervous jerkings I
have in my legs. Chokings and nervous jerkings, however, are
nothing new to me when I think with anxiety of those I love. If I
could be less affectionate and sensitive, I should have a better
digestion and an iron set of nerves. I am sure I wish it could be
so. But as to not thinking of you in the night - The idea!" Here, a
burst of tears.

The Raymond referred to, I understood to be the gentleman present,
and him I understood to be Mr. Camilla. He came to the rescue at
this point, and said in a consolatory and complimentary voice,
"Camilla, my dear, it is well known that your family feelings are
gradually undermining you to the extent of making one of your legs
shorter than the other."

"I am not aware," observed the grave lady whose voice I had heard
but once, "that to think of any person is to make a great claim
upon that person, my dear."

Miss Sarah Pocket, whom I now saw to be a little dry brown
corrugated old woman, with a small face that might have been made
of walnut shells, and a large mouth like a cat's without the
whiskers, supported this position by saying, "No, indeed, my dear.

"Thinking is easy enough," said the grave lady.

"What is easier, you know?" assented Miss Sarah Pocket.

"Oh, yes, yes!" cried Camilla, whose fermenting feelings appeared
to rise from her legs to her bosom. "It's all very true! It's a
weakness to be so affectionate, but I can't help it. No doubt my
health would be much better if it was otherwise, still I wouldn't
change my disposition if I could. It's the cause of much suffering,
but it's a consolation to know I posses it, when I wake up in the
night." Here another burst of feeling.

Miss Havisham and I had never stopped all this time, but kept going
round and round the room: now, brushing against the skirts of the
visitors: now, giving them the whole length of the dismal chamber.

"There's Matthew!" said Camilla. "Never mixing with any natural
ties, never coming here to see how Miss Havisham is! I have taken
to the sofa with my staylace cut, and have lain there hours,
insensible, with my head over the side, and my hair all down, and
my feet I don't know where--"

("Much higher than your head, my love," said Mr. Camilla.)

"I have gone off into that state, hours and hours, on account of
Matthew's strange and inexplicable conduct, and nobody has thanked

"Really I must say I should think not!" interposed the grave lady.

"You see, my dear," added Miss Sarah Pocket (a blandly vicious
personage), "the question to put to yourself is, who did you expect
to thank you, my love?"

"Without expecting any thanks, or anything of the sort," resumed
Camilla, "I have remained in that state, hours and hours, and
Raymond is a witness of the extent to which I have choked, and what
the total inefficacy of ginger has been, and I have been heard at
the pianoforte-tuner's across the street, where the poor mistaken
children have even supposed it to be pigeons cooing at a
distance-and now to be told--." Here Camilla put her hand to her
throat, and began to be quite chemical as to the formation of new
combinations there.

When this same Matthew was mentioned, Miss Havisham stopped me and
herself, and stood looking at the speaker. This change had a great
influence in bringing Camilla's chemistry to a sudden end.

"Matthew will come and see me at last," said Miss Havisham,
sternly, when I am laid on that table. That will be his place -
there," striking the table with her stick, "at my head! And yours
will be there! And your husband's there! And Sarah Pocket's there!
And Georgiana's there! Now you all know where to take your stations
when you come to feast upon me. And now go!"

At the mention of each name, she had struck the table with her
stick in a new place. She now said, "Walk me, walk me!" and we went
on again.

"I suppose there's nothing to be done," exclaimed Camilla, "but
comply and depart. It's something to have seen the object of one's
love and duty, for even so short a time. I shall think of it with a
melancholy satisfaction when I wake up in the night. I wish Matthew
could have that comfort, but he sets it at defiance. I am
determined not to make a display of my feelings, but it's very hard
to be told one wants to feast on one's relations - as if one was a
Giant - and to be told to go. The bare idea!"

Mr. Camilla interposing, as Mrs. Camilla laid her hand upon her
heaving bosom, that lady assumed an unnatural fortitude of manner
which I supposed to be expressive of an intention to drop and choke
when out of view, and kissing her hand to Miss Havisham, was
escorted forth. Sarah Pocket and Georgiana contended who should
remain last; but, Sarah was too knowing to be outdone, and ambled
round Georgiana with that artful slipperiness, that the latter was
obliged to take precedence. Sarah Pocket then made her separate
effect of departing with "Bless you, Miss Havisham dear!" and with
a smile of forgiving pity on her walnut-shell countenance for the
weaknesses of the rest.

While Estella was away lighting them down, Miss Havisham still
walked with her hand on my shoulder, but more and more slowly. At
last she stopped before the fire, and said, after muttering and
looking at it some seconds:

"This is my birthday, Pip."

I was going to wish her many happy returns, when she lifted her

"I don't suffer it to be spoken of. I don't suffer those who were
here just now, or any one, to speak of it. They come here on the
day, but they dare not refer to it."

Of course I made no further effort to refer to it.

"On this day of the year, long before you were born, this heap of
decay," stabbing with her crutched stick at the pile of cobwebs on
the table but not touching it, "was brought here. It and I have
worn away together. The mice have gnawed at it, and sharper teeth
than teeth of mice have gnawed at me."

She held the head of her stick against her heart as she stood
looking at the table; she in her once white dress, all yellow and
withered; the once white cloth all yellow and withered; everything
around, in a state to crumble under a touch.

"When the ruin is complete," said she, with a ghastly look, "and
when they lay me dead, in my bride's dress on the bride's table -
which shall be done, and which will be the finished curse upon him
- so much the better if it is done on this day!"

She stood looking at the table as if she stood looking at her own
figure lying there. I remained quiet. Estella returned, and she too
remained quiet. It seemed to me that we continued thus for a long
time. In the heavy air of the room, and the heavy darkness that
brooded in its remoter corners, I even had an alarming fancy that
Estella and I might presently begin to decay.

At length, not coming out of her distraught state by degrees, but
in an instant, Miss Havisham said, "Let me see you two play cards;
why have you not begun?" With that, we returned to her room, and
sat down as before; I was beggared, as before; and again, as
before, Miss Havisham watched us all the time, directed my
attention to Estella's beauty, and made me notice it the more by
trying her jewels on Estella's breast and hair.

Estella, for her part, likewise treated me as before; except that
she did not condescend to speak. When we had played some halfdozen
games, a day was appointed for my return, and I was taken down into
the yard to be fed in the former dog-like manner. There, too, I was
again left to wander about as I liked.

It is not much to the purpose whether a gate in that garden wall
which I had scrambled up to peep over on the last occasion was, on
that last occasion, open or shut. Enough that I saw no gate then,
and that I saw one now. As it stood open, and as I knew that
Estella had let the visitors out - for, she had returned with the
keys in her hand - I strolled into the garden and strolled all over
it. It was quite a wilderness, and there were old melon-frames and
cucumber-frames in it, which seemed in their decline to have
produced a spontaneous growth of weak attempts at pieces of old
hats and boots, with now and then a weedy offshoot into the
likeness of a battered saucepan.

When I had exhausted the garden, and a greenhouse with nothing in
it but a fallen-down grape-vine and some bottles, I found myself in
the dismal corner upon which I had looked out of the window. Never
questioning for a moment that the house was now empty, I looked in
at another window, and found myself, to my great surprise,
exchanging a broad stare with a pale young gentleman with red
eyelids and light hair.

This pale young gentleman quickly disappeared, and re-appeared
beside me. He had been at his books when I had found myself staring
at him, and I now saw that he was inky.

"Halloa!" said he, "young fellow!"

Halloa being a general observation which I had usually observed to
be best answered by itself, I said, "Halloa!" politely omitting
young fellow.

"Who let you in?" said he.

"Miss Estella."

"Who gave you leave to prowl about?"

"Miss Estella."

"Come and fight," said the pale young gentleman.

What could I do but follow him? I have often asked myself the
question since: but, what else could I do? His manner was so final
and I was so astonished, that I followed where he led, as if I had
been under a spell.

"Stop a minute, though," he said, wheeling round before we had gone
many paces. "I ought to give you a reason for fighting, too. There
it is!" In a most irritating manner he instantly slapped his hands
against one another, daintily flung one of his legs up behind him,
pulled my hair, slapped his hands again, dipped his head, and
butted it into my stomach.

The bull-like proceeding last mentioned, besides that it was
unquestionably to be regarded in the light of a liberty, was
particularly disagreeable just after bread and meat. I therefore
hit out at him and was going to hit out again, when he said,
"Aha! Would you?" and began dancing backwards and forwards in a
manner quite unparalleled within my limited experience.

"Laws of the game!" said he. Here, he skipped from his left leg on
to his right. "Regular rules!" Here, he skipped from his right leg
on to his left. "Come to the ground, and go through the
preliminaries!" Here, he dodged backwards and forwards, and did all
sorts of things while I looked helplessly at him.

I was secretly afraid of him when I saw him so dexterous; but, I
felt morally and physically convinced that his light head of hair
could have had no business in the pit of my stomach, and that I had
a right to consider it irrelevant when so obtruded on my attention.
Therefore, I followed him without a word, to a retired nook of the
garden, formed by the junction of two walls and screened by some
rubbish. On his asking me if I was satisfied with the ground, and
on my replying Yes, he begged my leave to absent himself for a
moment, and quickly returned with a bottle of water and a sponge
dipped in vinegar. "Available for both," he said, placing these
against the wall. And then fell to pulling off, not only his jacket
and waistcoat, but his shirt too, in a manner at once
light-hearted, businesslike, and bloodthirsty.

Although he did not look very healthy - having pimples on his face,
and a breaking out at his mouth - these dreadful preparations quite
appalled me. I judged him to be about my own age, but he was much
taller, and he had a way of spinning himself about that was full of
appearance. For the rest, he was a young gentleman in a grey suit
(when not denuded for battle), with his elbows, knees, wrists, and
heels, considerably in advance of the rest of him as to

My heart failed me when I saw him squaring at me with every
demonstration of mechanical nicety, and eyeing my anatomy as if he
were minutely choosing his bone. I never have been so surprised in
my life, as I was when I let out the first blow, and saw him lying
on his back, looking up at me with a bloody nose and his face
exceedingly fore-shortened.

But, he was on his feet directly, and after sponging himself with a
great show of dexterity began squaring again. The second greatest
surprise I have ever had in my life was seeing him on his back
again, looking up at me out of a black eye.

His spirit inspired me with great respect. He seemed to have no
strength, and he never once hit me hard, and he was always knocked
down; but, he would be up again in a moment, sponging himself or
drinking out of the water-bottle, with the greatest satisfaction in
seconding himself according to form, and then came at me with an
air and a show that made me believe he really was going to do for
me at last. He got heavily bruised, for I am sorry to record that
the more I hit him, the harder I hit him; but, he came up again and
again and again, until at last he got a bad fall with the back of
his head against the wall. Even after that crisis in our affairs,
he got up and turned round and round confusedly a few times, not
knowing where I was; but finally went on his knees to his sponge
and threw it up: at the same time panting out, "That means you have

He seemed so brave and innocent, that although I had not proposed
the contest I felt but a gloomy satisfaction in my victory. Indeed,
I go so far as to hope that I regarded myself while dressing, as a
species of savage young wolf, or other wild beast. However, I got
dressed, darkly wiping my sanguinary face at intervals, and I said,
"Can I help you?" and he said "No thankee," and I said "Good
afternoon," and he said "Same to you."

When I got into the court-yard, I found Estella waiting with the
keys. But, she neither asked me where I had been, nor why I had
kept her waiting; and there was a bright flush upon her face, as
though something had happened to delight her. Instead of going
straight to the gate, too, she stepped back into the passage, and
beckoned me.

"Come here! You may kiss me, if you like."

I kissed her cheek as she turned it to me. I think I would have
gone through a great deal to kiss her cheek. But, I felt that the
kiss was given to the coarse common boy as a piece of money might
have been, and that it was worth nothing.

What with the birthday visitors, and what with the cards, and what
with the fight, my stay had lasted so long, that when I neared home
the light on the spit of sand off the point on the marshes was
gleaming against a black night-sky, and Joe's furnace was flinging
a path of fire across the road.

Chapter 12

My mind grew very uneasy on the subject of the pale young
gentleman. The more I thought of the fight, and recalled the pale
young gentleman on his back in various stages of puffy and
incrimsoned countenance, the more certain it appeared that
something would be done to me. I felt that the pale young
gentleman's blood was on my head, and that the Law would avenge it.
Without having any definite idea of the penalties I had incurred,
it was clear to me that village boys could not go stalking about
the country, ravaging the houses of gentlefolks and pitching into
the studious youth of England, without laying themselves open to
severe punishment. For some days, I even kept close at home, and
looked out at the kitchen door with the greatest caution and
trepidation before going on an errand, lest the officers of the
County Jail should pounce upon me. The pale young gentleman's nose
had stained my trousers, and I tried to wash out that evidence of
my guilt in the dead of night. I had cut my knuckles against the
pale young gentleman's teeth, and I twisted my imagination into a
thousand tangles, as I devised incredible ways of accounting for
that damnatory circumstance when I should be haled before the

When the day came round for my return to the scene of the deed of
violence, my terrors reached their height. Whether myrmidons of

Facebook Google Reddit Twitter Pinterest