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better temper, Orlick plunged at the furnace, drew out a red-hot bar, made at me
with it as if he were going to run it through my body, whisked it round my head,
laid it on the anvil, hammered it out - as if it were I, I thought, and the
sparks were my spirting blood - and finally said, when he had hammered himself
hot and the iron cold, and he again leaned on his hammer:
"Are you all right now?" demanded Joe.
"Ah! I am all right," said gruff Old Orlick.
"Then, as in general you stick to your work as well as most men," said Joe,
"let it be a half-holiday for all." My sister had been standing silent in the
yard, within hearing - she was a most unscrupulous spy and listener - and she
instantly looked in at one of the windows.
"Like you, you fool!" said she to Joe, "giving holidays to great idle
hulkers like that. You are a rich man, upon my life, to waste wages in that
way. I wish I was his master!"
"You'd be everybody's master, if you durst," retorted Orlick, with an
("Let her alone," said Joe.)
"I'd be a match for all noodles and all rogues," returned my sister,
beginning to work herself into a mighty rage. "And I couldn't be a match for
the noodles, without being a match for your master, who's the dunder-headed king
of the noodles. And I couldn't be a match for the rogues, without being a match
for you, who are the blackest-looking and the worst rogue between this and
"You're a foul shrew, Mother Gargery, growled the journeyman. "If that
makes a judge of rogues, you ought to be a good'un."
("Let her alone, will you?" said Joe.)
"What did you say?" cried my sister, beginning to scream. "What did you
say? What did that fellow Orlick say to me, Pip? What did he call me, with my
husband standing by? O! O! O!" Each of these exclamations was a shriek; and I
must remark of my sister, what is equally true of all the violent women I have
ever seen, that passion was no excuse for her, because it is undeniable that
instead of lapsing into passion, she consciously and deliberately took
extraordinary pains to force herself into it, and became blindly furious by
regular stages; "what was the name he gave me before the base man who swore to
defend me? O! Hold me! O!"
"Ah-h-h!" growled the journeyman, between his teeth, "I'd hold you, if you
was my wife. I'd hold you under the pump, and choke it out of you."
("I tell you, let her alone," said Joe.)
"Oh! To hear him!" cried my sister, with a clap of her hands and a scream
together - which was her next stage. "To hear the names he's giving me! That
Orlick! In my own house! Me, a married woman! With my husband standing by!
O! O!" Here my sister, after a fit of clappings and screamings, beat her hands
upon her bosom and upon her knees, and threw her cap off, and pulled her hair
down - which were the last stages on her road to frenzy. Being by this time a
perfect Fury and a complete success, she made a dash at the door, which I had
What could the wretched Joe do now, after his disregarded parenthetical
interruptions, but stand up to his journeyman, and ask him what he meant by
interfering betwixt himself and Mrs. Joe; and further whether he was man enough
to come on? Old Orlick felt that the situation admitted of nothing less than
coming on, and was on his defence straightway; so, without so much as pulling
off their singed and burnt aprons, they went at one another, like two giants.
But, if any man in that neighbourhood could stand up long against Joe, I never
saw the man. Orlick, as if he had been of no more account than the pale young
gentleman, was very soon among the coal-dust, and in no hurry to come out of it.
Then, Joe unlocked the door and picked up my sister, who had dropped insensible
at the window (but who had seen the fight first, I think), and who was carried
into the house and laid down, and who was recommended to revive, and would do
nothing but struggle and clench her hands in Joe's hair. Then, came that
singular calm and silence which succeed all uproars; and then, with the vague
sensation which I have always connected with such a lull - namely, that it was
Sunday, and somebody was dead - I went up-stairs to dress myself.
When I came down again, I found Joe and Orlick sweeping up, without any
other traces of discomposure than a slit in one of Orlick's nostrils, which was
neither expressive nor ornamental. A pot of beer had appeared from the Jolly
Bargemen, and they were sharing it by turns in a peaceable manner. The lull had
a sedative and philosophical influence on Joe, who followed me out into the road
to say, as a parting observation that might do me good, "On the Rampage, Pip,
and off the Rampage, Pip - such is Life!"
With what absurd emotions (for, we think the feelings that are very serious
in a man quite comical in a boy) I found myself again going to Miss Havisham's,
matters little here. Nor, how I passed and repassed the gate many times before
I could make up my mind to ring. Nor, how I debated whether I should go away
without ringing; nor, how I should undoubtedly have gone, if my time had been my
own, to come back.
Miss Sarah Pocket came to the gate. No Estella.
"How, then? You here again?" said Miss Pocket. "What do you want?"
When I said that I only came to see how Miss Havisham was, Sarah evidently
deliberated whether or no she should send me about my business. But, unwilling
to hazard the responsibility, she let me in, and presently brought the sharp
message that I was to "come up."
Everything was unchanged, and Miss Havisham was alone.
"Well?" said she, fixing her eyes upon me. "I hope you want nothing?
You'll get nothing."
"No, indeed, Miss Havisham. I only wanted you to know that I am doing very
well in my apprenticeship, and am always much obliged to you."
"There, there!" with the old restless fingers. "Come now and then; come on
your birthday. - Ay!" she cried suddenly, turning herself and her chair towards
me, "You are looking round for Estella? Hey?"
I had been looking round - in fact, for Estella - and I stammered that I
hoped she was well.
"Abroad," said Miss Havisham; "educating for a lady; far out of reach;
prettier than ever; admired by all who see her. Do you feel that you have lost
There was such a malignant enjoyment in her utterance of the last words,
and she broke into such a disagreeable laugh, that I was at a loss what to say.
She spared me the trouble of considering, by dismissing me. When the gate was
closed upon me by Sarah of the walnut-shell countenance, I felt more than ever
dissatisfied with my home and with my trade and with everything; and that was
all I took by that motion.
As I was loitering along the High-street, looking in disconsolately at the
shop windows, and thinking what I would buy if I were a gentleman, who should
come out of the bookshop but Mr. Wopsle. Mr Wopsle had in his hand the
affecting tragedy of George Barnwell, in which he had that moment invested
sixpence, with the view of heaping every word of it on the head of Pumblechook,
with whom he was going to drink tea. No sooner did he see me, than he appeared
to consider that a special Providence had put a 'prentice in his way to be read
at; and he laid hold of me, and insisted on my accompanying him to the
Pumblechookian parlour. As I knew it would be miserable at home, and as the
nights were dark and the way was dreary, and almost any companionship on the
road was better than none, I made no great resistance; consequently, we turned
into Pumblechook's just as the street and the shops were lighting up.
As I never assisted at any other representation of George Barnwell, I don't
know how long it may usually take; but I know very well that it took until
half-past nine o' clock that night, and that when Mr. Wopsle got into Newgate, I
thought he never would go to the scaffold, he became so much slower than at any
former period of his disgraceful career. I thought it a little too much that he
should complain of being cut short in his flower after all, as if he had not
been running to seed, leaf after leaf, ever since his course began. This,
however, was a mere question of length and wearisomeness. What stung me, was
the identification of the whole affair with my unoffending self. When Barnwell
began to go wrong, I declare that I felt positively apologetic, Pumblechook's
indignant stare so taxed me with it. Wopsle, too, took pains to present me in
the worst light. At once ferocious and maudlin, I was made to murder my uncle
with no extenuating circumstances whatever; Millwood put me down in argument, on
every occasion; it became sheer monomania in my master's daughter to care a
button for me; and all I can say for my gasping and procrastinating conduct on
the fatal morning, is, that it was worthy of the general feebleness of my
character. Even after I was happily hanged and Wopsle had closed the book,
Pumblechook sat staring at me, and shaking his head, and saying, "Take warning,
boy, take warning!" as if it were a well-known fact that I contemplated
murdering a near relation, provided I could only induce one to have the weakness
to become my benefactor.
It was a very dark night when it was all over, and when I set out with Mr.
Wopsle on the walk home. Beyond town, we found a heavy mist out, and it fell
wet and thick. The turnpike lamp was a blur, quite out of the lamp's usual
place apparently, and its rays looked solid substance on the fog. We were
noticing this, and saying how that the mist rose with a change of wind from a
certain quarter of our marshes, when we came upon a man, slouching under the lee
of the turnpike house.
"Halloa!" we said, stopping. "Orlick, there?"
"Ah!" he answered, slouching out. "I was standing by, a minute, on the
chance of company."
"You are late," I remarked.
Orlick not unnaturally answered, "Well? And you're late."
"We have been," said Mr. Wopsle, exalted with his late performance, "we
have been indulging, Mr. Orlick, in an intellectual evening."
Old Orlick growled, as if he had nothing to say about that, and we all went
on together. I asked him presently whether he had been spending his
half-holiday up and down town?
"Yes," said he, "all of it. I come in behind yourself. I didn't see you,
but I must have been pretty close behind you. By-the-bye, the guns is going
"At the Hulks?" said I.
"Ay! There's some of the birds flown from the cages. The guns have been
going since dark, about. You'll hear one presently."
In effect, we had not walked many yards further, when the wellremembered
boom came towards us, deadened by the mist, and heavily rolled away along the
low grounds by the river, as if it were pursuing and threatening the fugitives.
"A good night for cutting off in," said Orlick. "We'd be puzzled how to
bring down a jail-bird on the wing, to-night."
The subject was a suggestive one to me, and I thought about it in silence.
Mr. Wopsle, as the ill-requited uncle of the evening's tragedy, fell to
meditating aloud in his garden at Camberwell. Orlick, with his hands in his
pockets, slouched heavily at my side. It was very dark, very wet, very muddy,
and so we splashed along. Now and then, the sound of the signal cannon broke
upon us again, and again rolled sulkily along the course of the river. I kept
myself to myself and my thoughts. Mr. Wopsle died amiably at Camberwell, and
exceedingly game on Bosworth Field, and in the greatest agonies at Glastonbury.
Orlick sometimes growled, "Beat it out, beat it out - Old Clem! With a clink
for the stout - Old Clem!" I thought he had been drinking, but he was not
Thus, we came to the village. The way by which we approached it, took us
past the Three Jolly Bargemen, which we were surprised to find - it being eleven
o'clock - in a state of commotion, with the door wide open, and unwonted lights
that had been hastily caught up and put down, scattered about. Mr. Wopsle
dropped in to ask what was the matter (surmising that a convict had been taken),
but came running out in a great hurry.
"There's something wrong," said he, without stopping, "up at your place,
Pip. Run all!"
"What is it?" I asked, keeping up with him. So did Orlick, at my side.
"I can't quite understand. The house seems to have been violently entered
when Joe Gargery was out. Supposed by convicts. Somebody has been attacked and
We were running too fast to admit of more being said, and we made no stop
until we got into our kitchen. It was full of people; the whole village was
there, or in the yard; and there was a surgeon, and there was Joe, and there was
a group of women, all on the floor in the midst of the kitchen. The unemployed
bystanders drew back when they saw me, and so I became aware of my sister -
lying without sense or movement on the bare boards where she had been knocked
down by a tremendous blow on the back of the head, dealt by some unknown hand
when her face was turned towards the fire - destined never to be on the Rampage
again, while she was the wife of Joe.
With my head full of George Barnwell, I was at first disposed to believe
that I must have had some hand in the attack upon my sister, or at all events
that as her near relation, popularly known to be under obligations to her, I was
a more legitimate object of suspicion than any one else. But when, in the
clearer light of next morning, I began to reconsider the matter and to hear it