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"Deep," said Wemmick, "as Australia." Pointing with his pen at the office
floor, to express that Australia was understood, for the purposes of the figure,
to be symmetrically on the opposite spot of the globe. "If there was anything
deeper," added Wemmick, bringing his pen to paper, "he'd be it."
Then, I said I supposed he had a fine business, and Wemmick said,
"Ca-pi-tal!" Then I asked if there were many clerks? to which he replied:
"We don't run much into clerks, because there's only one Jaggers, and
people won't have him at second-hand. There are only four of us. Would you
like to see 'em? You are one of us, as I may say."
I accepted the offer. When Mr. Wemmick had put all the biscuit into the
post, and had paid me my money from a cash-box in a safe, the key of which safe
he kept somewhere down his back and produced from his coat-collar like an iron
pigtail, we went up-stairs. The house was dark and shabby, and the greasy
shoulders that had left their mark in Mr. Jaggers's room, seemed to have been
shuffling up and down the staircase for years. In the front first floor, a
clerk who looked something between a publican and a rat-catcher - a large pale
puffed swollen man - was attentively engaged with three or four people of shabby
appearance, whom he treated as unceremoniously as everybody seemed to be treated
who contributed to Mr. Jaggers's coffers. "Getting evidence together," said Mr.
Wemmick, as we came out, "for the Bailey."
In the room over that, a little flabby terrier of a clerk with dangling
hair (his cropping seemed to have been forgotten when he was a puppy) was
similarly engaged with a man with weak eyes, whom Mr. Wemmick presented to me as
a smelter who kept his pot always boiling, and who would melt me anything I
pleased - and who was in an excessive white-perspiration, as if he had been
trying his art on himself. In a back room, a high-shouldered man with a
face-ache tied up in dirty flannel, who was dressed in old black clothes that
bore the appearance of having been waxed, was stooping over his work of making
fair copies of the notes of the other two gentlemen, for Mr. Jaggers's own use.
This was all the establishment. When we went down-stairs again, Wemmick
led me into my guardian's room, and said, "This you've seen already."
"Pray," said I, as the two odious casts with the twitchy leer upon them
caught my sight again, "whose likenesses are those?"
"These?" said Wemmick, getting upon a chair, and blowing the dust off the
horrible heads before bringing them down. "These are two celebrated ones.
Famous clients of ours that got us a world of credit. This chap (why you must
have come down in the night and been peeping into the inkstand, to get this blot
upon your eyebrow, you old rascal!) murdered his master, and, considering that
he wasn't brought up to evidence, didn't plan it badly."
"Is it like him?" I asked, recoiling from the brute, as Wemmick spat upon
his eyebrow and gave it a rub with his sleeve.
"Like him? It's himself, you know. The cast was made in Newgate, directly
after he was taken down. You had a particular fancy for me, hadn't you, Old
Artful?" said Wemmick. He then explained this affectionate apostrophe, by
touching his brooch representing the lady and the weeping willow at the tomb
with the urn upon it, and saying, "Had it made for me, express!"
"Is the lady anybody?" said I.
"No," returned Wemmick. "Only his game. (You liked your bit of game,
didn't you?) No; deuce a bit of a lady in the case, Mr. Pip, except one - and
she wasn't of this slender ladylike sort, and you wouldn't have caught her
looking after this urn - unless there was something to drink in it." Wemmick's
attention being thus directed to his brooch, he put down the cast, and polished
the brooch with his pocket-handkerchief.
"Did that other creature come to the same end?" I asked. "He has the same
"You're right," said Wemmick; "it's the genuine look. Much as if one
nostril was caught up with a horsehair and a little fish-hook. Yes, he came to
the same end; quite the natural end here, I assure you. He forged wills, this
blade did, if he didn't also put the supposed testators to sleep too. You were
a gentlemanly Cove, though" (Mr. Wemmick was again apostrophizing), "and you
said you could write Greek. Yah, Bounceable! What a liar you were! I never
met such a liar as you!" Before putting his late friend on his shelf again,
Wemmick touched the largest of his mourning rings and said, "Sent out to buy it
for me, only the day before."
While he was putting up the other cast and coming down from the chair, the
thought crossed my mind that all his personal jewellery was derived from like
sources. As he had shown no diffidence on the subject, I ventured on the
liberty of asking him the question, when he stood before me, dusting his hands.
"Oh yes," he returned, "these are all gifts of that kind. One brings
another, you see; that's the way of it. I always take 'em. They're curiosities.
And they're property. They may not be worth much, but, after all, they're
property and portable. It don't signify to you with your brilliant look-out,
but as to myself, my guidingstar always is, "Get hold of portable property"."
When I had rendered homage to this light, he went on to say, in a friendly
"If at any odd time when you have nothing better to do, you wouldn't mind
coming over to see me at Walworth, I could offer you a bed, and I should
consider it an honour. I have not much to show you; but such two or three
curiosities as I have got, you might like to look over; and I am fond of a bit
of garden and a summer-house."
I said I should be delighted to accept his hospitality.
"Thankee," said he; "then we'll consider that it's to come off, when
convenient to you. Have you dined with Mr. Jaggers yet?"
"Well," said Wemmick, "he'll give you wine, and good wine. I'll give you
punch, and not bad punch. and now I'll tell you something. When you go to dine
with Mr. Jaggers, look at his housekeeper."
"Shall I see something very uncommon?"
"Well," said Wemmick, "you'll see a wild beast tamed. Not so very
uncommon, you'll tell me. I reply, that depends on the original wildness of the
beast, and the amount of taming. It won't lower your opinion of Mr. Jaggers's
powers. Keep your eye on it."
I told him I would do so, with all the interest and curiosity that his
preparation awakened. As I was taking my departure, he asked me if I would like
to devote five minutes to seeing Mr. Jaggers "at it?"
For several reasons, and not least because I didn't clearly know what Mr.
Jaggers would be found to be "at," I replied in the affirmative. We dived into
the City, and came up in a crowded policecourt, where a blood-relation (in the
murderous sense) of the deceased with the fanciful taste in brooches, was
standing at the bar, uncomfortably chewing something; while my guardian had a
woman under examination or cross-examination - I don't know which - and was
striking her, and the bench, and everybody present, with awe. If anybody, of
whatsoever degree, said a word that he didn't approve of, he instantly required
to have it "taken down." If anybody wouldn't make an admission, he said, "I'll
have it out of you!" and if anybody made an admission, he said, "Now I have got
you!" the magistrates shivered under a single bite of his finger. Thieves and
thieftakers hung in dread rapture on his words, and shrank when a hair of his
eyebrows turned in their direction. Which side he was on, I couldn't make out,
for he seemed to me to be grinding the whole place in a mill; I only know that
when I stole out on tiptoe, he was not on the side of the bench; for, he was
making the legs of the old gentleman who presided, quite convulsive under the
table, by his denunciations of his conduct as the representative of British law
and justice in that chair that day.
Bentley Drummle, who was so sulky a fellow that he even took up a book as
if its writer had done him an injury, did not take up an acquaintance in a more
agreeable spirit. Heavy in figure, movement, and comprehension - in the
sluggish complexion of his face, and in the large awkward tongue that seemed to
loll about in his mouth as he himself lolled about in a room - he was idle,
proud, niggardly, reserved, and suspicious. He came of rich people down in
Somersetshire, who had nursed this combination of qualities until they made the
discovery that it was just of age and a blockhead. Thus, Bentley Drummle had
come to Mr. Pocket when he was a head taller than that gentleman, and half a
dozen heads thicker than most gentlemen.
Startop had been spoilt by a weak mother and kept at home when he ought to
have been at school, but he was devotedly attached to her, and admired her
beyond measure. He had a woman's delicacy of feature, and was - "as you may
see, though you never saw her," said Herbert to me - exactly like his mother.
It was but natural that I should take to him much more kindly than to Drummle,
and that, even in the earliest evenings of our boating, he and I should pull
homeward abreast of one another, conversing from boat to boat, while Bentley
Drummle came up in our wake alone, under the overhanging banks and among the
rushes. He would always creep in-shore like some uncomfortable amphibious
creature, even when the tide would have sent him fast upon his way; and I always
think of him as coming after us in the dark or by the back-water, when our own
two boats were breaking the sunset or the moonlight in mid-stream.
Herbert was my intimate companion and friend. I presented him with a
half-share in my boat, which was the occasion of his often coming down to
Hammersmith; and my possession of a halfshare in his chambers often took me up
to London. We used to walk between the two places at all hours. I have an
affection for the road yet (though it is not so pleasant a road as it was then),
formed in the impressibility of untried youth and hope.
When I had been in Mr. Pocket's family a month or two, Mr. and Mrs. Camilla
turned up. Camilla was Mr. Pocket's sister. Georgiana, whom I had seen at Miss
Havisham's on the same occasion, also turned up. she was a cousin - an
indigestive single woman, who called her rigidity religion, and her liver love.
These people hated me with the hatred of cupidity and disappointment. As a
matter of course, they fawned upon me in my prosperity with the basest meanness.
Towards Mr. Pocket, as a grown-up infant with no notion of his own interests,
they showed the complacent forbearance I had heard them express. Mrs. Pocket
they held in contempt; but they allowed the poor soul to have been heavily
disappointed in life, because that shed a feeble reflected light upon
These were the surroundings among which I settled down, and applied myself
to my education. I soon contracted expensive habits, and began to spend an
amount of money that within a few short months I should have thought almost
fabulous; but through good and evil I stuck to my books. There was no other
merit in this, than my having sense enough to feel my deficiencies. Between Mr.
Pocket and Herbert I got on fast; and, with one or the other always at my elbow
to give me the start I wanted, and clear obstructions out of my road, I must
have been as great a dolt as Drummle if I had done less.
I had not seen Mr. Wemmick for some weeks, when I thought I would write him
a note and propose to go home with him on a certain evening. He replied that it
would give him much pleasure, and that he would expect me at the office at six
o'clock. Thither I went, and there I found him, putting the key of his safe
down his back as the clock struck.
"Did you think of walking down to Walworth?" said he.
"Certainly," said I, "if you approve."
"Very much," was Wemmick's reply, "for I have had my legs under the desk
all day, and shall be glad to stretch them. Now, I'll tell you what I have got
for supper, Mr. Pip. I have got a stewed steak - which is of home preparation -
and a cold roast fowl - which is from the cook's-shop. I think it's tender,
because the master of the shop was a Juryman in some cases of ours the other
day, and we let him down easy. I reminded him of it when I bought the fowl, and
I said, "Pick us out a good one, old Briton, because if we had chosen to keep
you in the box another day or two, we could easily have done it." He said to
that, "Let me make you a present of the best fowl in the shop." I let him, of
course. As far as it goes, it's property and portable. You don't object to an
aged parent, I hope?"
I really thought he was still speaking of the fowl, until he added,
"Because I have got an aged parent at my place." I then said what politeness
"So, you haven't dined with Mr. Jaggers yet?" he pursued, as we walked
"He told me so this afternoon when he heard you were coming. I expect
you'll have an invitation to-morrow. He's going to ask your pals, too. Three
of 'em; ain't there?"
Although I was not in the habit of counting Drummle as one of my intimate
associates, I answered, "Yes."
"Well, he's going to ask the whole gang;" I hardly felt complimented by the
word; "and whatever he gives you, he'll give you good. Don't look forward to
variety, but you'll have excellence. And there'sa nother rum thing in his
house," proceeded Wemmick, after a moment's pause, as if the remark followed on
the housekeeper understood; "he never lets a door or window be fastened at
"Is he never robbed?"
"That's it!" returned Wemmick. "He says, and gives it out publicly, "I
want to see the man who'll rob me." Lord bless you, I have heard him, a hundred
times if I have heard him once, say to regular cracksmen in our front office,