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"I have not heard the particulars of my sister's death, Biddy."
"They are very slight, poor thing. She had been in one of her bad states -
though they had got better of late, rather than worse - for four days, when she
came out of it in the evening, just at teatime, and said quite plainly, 'Joe.'
As she had never said any word for a long while, I ran and fetched in Mr.
Gargery from the forge. She made signs to me that she wanted him to sit down
close to her, and wanted me to put her arms round his neck. So I put them round
his neck, and she laid her head down on his shoulder quite content and
satisfied. And so she presently said 'Joe' again, and once 'Pardon,' and once
'Pip.' And so she never lifted her head up any more, and it was just an hour
later when we laid it down on her own bed, because we found she was gone."
Biddy cried; the darkening garden, and the lane, and the stars that were
coming out, were blurred in my own sight.
"Nothing was ever discovered, Biddy?"
"Do you know what is become of Orlick?"
"I should think from the colour of his clothes that he is working in the
"Of course you have seen him then? - Why are you looking at that dark tree
in the lane?"
"I saw him there, on the night she died."
"That was not the last time either, Biddy?"
"No; I have seen him there, since we have been walking here. - It is of no
use," said Biddy, laying her hand upon my arm, as I was for running out, "you
know I would not deceive you; he was not there a minute, and he is gone."
It revived my utmost indignation to find that she was still pursued by this
fellow, and I felt inveterate against him. I told her so, and told her that I
would spend any money or take any pains to drive him out of that country. By
degrees she led me into more temperate talk, and she told me how Joe loved me,
and how Joe never complained of anything - she didn't say, of me; she had no
need; I knew what she meant - but ever did his duty in his way of life, with a
strong hand, a quiet tongue, and a gentle heart.
"Indeed, it would be hard to say too much for him," said I; "and Biddy, we
must often speak of these things, for of course I shall be often down here now.
I am not going to leave poor Joe alone."
Biddy said never a single word.
"Biddy, don't you hear me?"
"Yes, Mr. Pip."
"Not to mention your calling me Mr. Pip - which appears to me to be in bad
taste, Biddy - what do you mean?"
"What do I mean?" asked Biddy, timidly.
"Biddy," said I, in a virtuously self-asserting manner, "I must request to
know what you mean by this?"
"By this?" said Biddy.
"Now, don't echo," I retorted. "You used not to echo, Biddy."
"Used not!" said Biddy. "O Mr. Pip! Used!"
Well! I rather thought I would give up that point too. After another
silent turn in the garden, I fell back on the main position.
"Biddy," said I, "I made a remark respecting my coming down here often, to
see Joe, which you received with a marked silence. Have the goodness, Biddy, to
tell me why."
"Are you quite sure, then, that you WILL come to see him often?" asked
Biddy, stopping in the narrow garden walk, and looking at me under the stars
with a clear and honest eye. "Oh dear me!" said I, as if I found myself
compelled to give up Biddy in despair. "This really is a very bad side of human
nature! Don't say any more, if you please, Biddy. This shocks me very much."
For which cogent reason I kept Biddy at a distance during supper, and, when
I went up to my own old little room, took as stately a leave of her as I could,
in my murmuring soul, deem reconcilable with the churchyard and the event of the
day. As often as I was restless in the night, and that was every quarter of an
hour, I reflected what an unkindness, what an injury, what an injustice, Biddy
had done me.
Early in the morning, I was to go. Early in the morning, I was out, and
looking in, unseen, at one of the wooden windows of the forge. There I stood,
for minutes, looking at Joe, already at work with a glow of health and strength
upon his face that made it show as if the bright sun of the life in store for
him were shining on it.
"Good-bye, dear Joe! - No, don't wipe it off - for God's sake, give me your
blackened hand! - I shall be down soon, and often."
"Never too soon, sir," said Joe, "and never too often, Pip!"
Biddy was waiting for me at the kitchen door, with a mug of new milk and a
crust of bread. "Biddy," said I, when I gave her my hand at parting, "I am not
angry, but I am hurt."
"No, don't be hurt," she pleaded quite pathetically; "let only me be hurt,
if I have been ungenerous."
Once more, the mists were rising as I walked away. If they disclosed to
me, as I suspect they did, that I should not come back, and that Biddy was quite
right, all I can say is - they were quite right too.
Herbert and I went on from bad to worse, in the way of increasing our
debts, looking into our affairs, leaving Margins, and the like exemplary
transactions; and Time went on, whether or no, as he has a way of doing; and I
came of age - in fulfilment of Herbert's prediction, that I should do so before
I knew where I was.
Herbert himself had come of age, eight months before me. As he had nothing
else than his majority to come into, the event did not make a profound sensation
in Barnard's Inn. But we had looked forward to my one-and-twentieth birthday,
with a crowd of speculations and anticipations, for we had both considered that
my guardian could hardly help saying something definite on that occasion.
I had taken care to have it well understood in Little Britain, when my
birthday was. On the day before it, I received an official note from Wemmick,
informing me that Mr. Jaggers would be glad if I would call upon him at five in
the afternoon of the auspicious day. This convinced us that something great was
to happen, and threw me into an unusual flutter when I repaired to my guardian's
office, a model of punctuality.
In the outer office Wemmick offered me his congratulations, and
incidentally rubbed the side of his nose with a folded piece of tissuepaper that
I liked the look of. But he said nothing respecting it, and motioned me with a
nod into my guardian's room. It was November, and my guardian was standing
before his fire leaning his back against the chimney-piece, with his hands under
"Well, Pip," said he, "I must call you Mr. Pip to-day. Congratulations, Mr.
We shook hands - he was always a remarkably short shaker - and I thanked
"Take a chair, Mr. Pip," said my guardian.
As I sat down, and he preserved his attitude and bent his brows at his
boots, I felt at a disadvantage, which reminded me of that old time when I had
been put upon a tombstone. The two ghastly casts on the shelf were not far from
him, and their expression was as if they were making a stupid apoplectic attempt
to attend to the conversation.
"Now my young friend," my guardian began, as if I were a witness in the
box, "I am going to have a word or two with you."
"If you please, sir."
"What do you suppose," said Mr. Jaggers, bending forward to look at the
ground, and then throwing his head back to look at the ceiling, "what do you
suppose you are living at the rate of?"
"At the rate of, sir?"
"At," repeated Mr. Jaggers, still looking at the ceiling, "the - rate -
of?" And then looked all round the room, and paused with his
pocket-handkerchief in his hand, half way to his nose.
I had looked into my affairs so often, that I had thoroughly destroyed any
slight notion I might ever have had of their bearings. Reluctantly, I confessed
myself quite unable to answer the question. This reply seemed agreeable to Mr.
Jaggers, who said, "I thought so!" and blew his nose with an air of
"Now, I have asked you a question, my friend," said Mr. Jaggers. "Have you
anything to ask me?"
"Of course it would be a great relief to me to ask you several questions,
sir; but I remember your prohibition."
"Ask one," said Mr. Jaggers.
"Is my benefactor to be made known to me to-day?"
"No. Ask another."
"Is that confidence to be imparted to me soon?"
"Waive that, a moment," said Mr. Jaggers, "and ask another."
I looked about me, but there appeared to be now no possible escape from the
inquiry, "Have - I - anything to receive, sir?" On that, Mr. Jaggers said,
triumphantly, "I thought we should come to it!" and called to Wemmick to give
him that piece of paper. Wemmick appeared, handed it in, and disappeared.
"Now, Mr. Pip," said Mr. Jaggers, "attend, if you please. You have been
drawing pretty freely here; your name occurs pretty often in Wemmick's
cash-book; but you are in debt, of course?"
"I am afraid I must say yes, sir."
"You know you must say yes; don't you?" said Mr. Jaggers.
"I don't ask you what you owe, because you don't know; and if you did know,
you wouldn't tell me; you would say less. Yes, yes, my friend," cried Mr.
Jaggers, waving his forefinger to stop me, as I made a show of protesting:
"it's likely enough that you think you wouldn't, but you would. You'll excuse
me, but I know better than you. Now, take this piece of paper in your hand.
You have got it? Very good. Now, unfold it and tell me what it is."
"This is a bank-note," said I, "for five hundred pounds."
"That is a bank-note," repeated Mr. Jaggers, "for five hundred pounds. And
a very handsome sum of money too, I think. You consider it so?"
"How could I do otherwise!"
"Ah! But answer the question," said Mr. Jaggers.
"You consider it, undoubtedly, a handsome sum of money. Now, that handsome
sum of money, Pip, is your own. It is a present to you on this day, in earnest
of your expectations. And at the rate of that handsome sum of money per annum,
and at no higher rate, you are to live until the donor of the whole appears.
That is to say, you will now take your money affairs entirely into your own
hands, and you will draw from Wemmick one hundred and twenty-five pounds per
quarter, until you are in communication with the fountain-head, and no longer
with the mere agent. As I have told you before, I am the mere agent. I execute
my instructions, and I am paid for doing so. I think them injudicious, but I am
not paid for giving any opinion on their merits."
I was beginning to express my gratitude to my benefactor for the great
liberality with which I was treated, when Mr. Jaggers stopped me. "I am not
paid, Pip," said he, coolly, "to carry your words to any one;" and then gathered
up his coat-tails, as he had gathered up the subject, and stood frowning at his
boots as if he suspected them of designs against him.
After a pause, I hinted:
"There was a question just now, Mr. Jaggers, which you desired me to waive
for a moment. I hope I am doing nothing wrong in asking it again?"
"What is it?" said he.
I might have known that he would never help me out; but it took me aback to
have to shape the question afresh, as if it were quite new. "Is it likely," I
said, after hesitating, "that my patron, the fountain-head you have spoken of,
Mr. Jaggers, will soon--" there I delicately stopped.
"Will soon what?" asked Mr. Jaggers. "That's no question as it stands, you
"Will soon come to London," said I, after casting about for a precise form
of words, "or summon me anywhere else?"
"Now here," replied Mr. Jaggers, fixing me for the first time with his dark
deep-set eyes, "we must revert to the evening when we first encountered one
another in your village. What did I tell you then, Pip?"
"You told me, Mr. Jaggers, that it might be years hence when that person
"Just so," said Mr. Jaggers; "that's my answer."
As we looked full at one another, I felt my breath come quicker in my
strong desire to get something out of him. And as I felt that it came quicker,
and as I felt that he saw that it came quicker, I felt that I had less chance
than ever of getting anything out of him.
"Do you suppose it will still be years hence, Mr. Jaggers?"
Mr. Jaggers shook his head - not in negativing the question, but in
altogether negativing the notion that he could anyhow be got to answer it - and
the two horrible casts of the twitched faces looked, when my eyes strayed up to
them, as if they had come to a crisis in their suspended attention, and were
going to sneeze.