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There were states of the tide when, having been down the river, I could not
get back through the eddy-chafed arches and starlings of old London Bridge;
then, I left my boat at a wharf near the Custom House, to be brought up
afterwards to the Temple stairs. I was not averse to doing this, as it served
to make me and my boat a commoner incident among the water-side people there.
From this slight occasion, sprang two meetings that I have now to tell of.
One afternoon, late in the month of February, I came ashore at the wharf at
dusk. I had pulled down as far as Greenwich with the ebb tide, and had turned
with the tide. It had been a fine bright day, but had become foggy as the sun
dropped, and I had had to feel my way back among the shipping, pretty carefully.
Both in going and returning, I had seen the signal in his window, All well.
As it was a raw evening and I was cold, I thought I would comfort myself
with dinner at once; and as I had hours of dejection and solitude before me if I
went home to the Temple, I thought I would afterwards go to the play. The
theatre where Mr. Wopsle had achieved his questionable triumph, was in that
waterside neighbourhood (it is nowhere now), and to that theatre I resolved to
go. I was aware that Mr. Wopsle had not succeeded in reviving the Drama, but,
on the contrary, had rather partaken of its decline. He had been ominously
heard of, through the playbills, as a faithful Black, in connexion with a little
girl of noble birth, and a monkey. And Herbert had seen him as a predatory
Tartar of comic propensities, with a face like a red brick, and an outrageous
hat all over bells.
I dined at what Herbert and I used to call a Geographical chop-house -
where there were maps of the world in porter-pot rims on every half-yard of the
table-cloths, and charts of gravy on every one of the knives - to this day there
is scarcely a single chop-house within the Lord Mayor's dominions which is not
Geographical - and wore out the time in dozing over crumbs, staring at gas, and
baking in a hot blast of dinners. By-and-by, I roused myself and went to the
There, I found a virtuous boatswain in his Majesty's service - a most
excellent man, though I could have wished his trousers not quite so tight in
some places and not quite so loose in others - who knocked all the little men's
hats over their eyes, though he was very generous and brave, and who wouldn't
hear of anybody's paying taxes, though he was very patriotic. He had a bag of
money in his pocket, like a pudding in the cloth, and on that property married a
young person in bed-furniture, with great rejoicings; the whole population of
Portsmouth (nine in number at the last Census) turning out on the beach, to rub
their own hands and shake everybody else's, and sing "Fill, fill!" A certain
dark-complexioned Swab, however, who wouldn't fill, or do anything else that was
proposed to him, and whose heart was openly stated (by the boatswain) to be as
black as his figure-head, proposed to two other Swabs to get all mankind into
difficulties; which was so effectually done (the Swab family having considerable
political influence) that it took half the evening to set things right, and then
it was only brought about through an honest little grocer with a white hat,
black gaiters, and red nose, getting into a clock, with a gridiron, and
listening, and coming out, and knocking everybody down from behind with the
gridiron whom he couldn't confute with what he had overheard. This led to Mr.
Wopsle's (who had never been heard of before) coming in with a star and garter
on, as a plenipotentiary of great power direct from the Admiralty, to say that
the Swabs were all to go to prison on the spot, and that he had brought the
boatswain down the Union Jack, as a slight acknowledgment of his public
services. The boatswain, unmanned for the first time, respectfully dried his
eyes on the Jack, and then cheering up and addressing Mr. Wopsle as Your Honour,
solicited permission to take him by the fin. Mr. Wopsle conceding his fin with
a gracious dignity, was immediately shoved into a dusty corner while everybody
danced a hornpipe; and from that corner, surveying the public with a
discontented eye, became aware of me.
The second piece was the last new grand comic Christmas pantomime, in the
first scene of which, it pained me to suspect that I detected Mr. Wopsle with
red worsted legs under a highly magnified phosphoric countenance and a shock of
red curtain-fringe for his hair, engaged in the manufacture of thunderbolts in a
mine, and displaying great cowardice when his gigantic master came home (very
hoarse) to dinner. But he presently presented himself under worthier
circumstances; for, the Genius of Youthful Love being in want of assistance - on
account of the parental brutality of an ignorant farmer who opposed the choice
of his daughter's heart, by purposely falling upon the object, in a flour sack,
out of the firstfloor window - summoned a sententious Enchanter; and he, coming
up from the antipodes rather unsteadily, after an apparently violent journey,
proved to be Mr. Wopsle in a high-crowned hat, with a necromantic work in one
volume under his arm. The business of this enchanter on earth, being
principally to be talked at, sung at, butted at, danced at, and flashed at with
fires of various colours, he had a good deal of time on his hands. And I
observed with great surprise, that he devoted it to staring in my direction as
if he were lost in amazement.
There was something so remarkable in the increasing glare of Mr. Wopsle's
eye, and he seemed to be turning so many things over in his mind and to grow so
confused, that I could not make it out. I sat thinking of it, long after he had
ascended to the clouds in a large watch-case, and still I could not make it out.
I was still thinking of it when I came out of the theatre an hour afterwards,
and found him waiting for me near the door.
"How do you do?" said I, shaking hands with him as we turned down the
street together. "I saw that you saw me."
"Saw you, Mr. Pip!" he returned. "Yes, of course I saw you. But who else
"It is the strangest thing," said Mr. Wopsle, drifting into his lost look
again; "and yet I could swear to him."
Becoming alarmed, I entreated Mr. Wopsle to explain his meaning.
"Whether I should have noticed him at first but for your being there," said
Mr. Wopsle, going on in the same lost way, "I can't be positive; yet I think I
Involuntarily I looked round me, as I was accustomed to look round me when
I went home; for, these mysterious words gave me a chill.
"Oh! He can't be in sight," said Mr. Wopsle. "He went out, before I went
off, I saw him go."
Having the reason that I had, for being suspicious, I even suspected this
poor actor. I mistrusted a design to entrap me into some admission. Therefore,
I glanced at him as we walked on together, but said nothing.
"I had a ridiculous fancy that he must be with you, Mr. Pip, till I saw
that you were quite unconscious of him, sitting behind you there, like a ghost."
My former chill crept over me again, but I was resolved not to speak yet,
for it was quite consistent with his words that he might be set on to induce me
to connect these references with Provis. Of course, I was perfectly sure and
safe that Provis had not been there.
"I dare say you wonder at me, Mr. Pip; indeed I see you do. But it is so
very strange! You'll hardly believe what I am going to tell you. I could
hardly believe it myself, if you told me."
"Indeed?" said I.
"No, indeed. Mr. Pip, you remember in old times a certain Christmas Day,
when you were quite a child, and I dined at Gargery's, and some soldiers came to
the door to get a pair of handcuffs mended?"
"I remember it very well."
"And you remember that there was a chase after two convicts, and that we
joined in it, and that Gargery took you on his back, and that I took the lead
and you kept up with me as well as you could?"
"I remember it all very well." Better than he thought - except the last
"And you remember that we came up with the two in a ditch, and that there
was a scuffle between them, and that one of them had been severely handled and
much mauled about the face, by the other?"
"I see it all before me."
"And that the soldiers lighted torches, and put the two in the centre, and
that we went on to see the last of them, over the black marshes, with the
torchlight shining on their faces - I am particular about that; with the
torchlight shining on their faces, when there was an outer ring of dark night
all about us?"
"Yes," said I. "I remember all that."
"Then, Mr. Pip, one of those two prisoners sat behind you tonight. I saw
him over your shoulder."
"Steady!" I thought. I asked him then, "Which of the two do you suppose
"The one who had been mauled," he answered readily, "and I'll swear I saw
him! The more I think of him, the more certain I am of him."
"This is very curious!" said I, with the best assumption I could put on, of
its being nothing more to me. "Very curious indeed!"
I cannot exaggerate the enhanced disquiet into which this conversation
threw me, or the special and peculiar terror I felt at Compeyson's having been
behind me "like a ghost." For, if he had ever been out of my thoughts for a few
moments together since the hiding had begun, it was in those very moments when
he was closest to me; and to think that I should be so unconscious and off my
guard after all my care, was as if I had shut an avenue of a hundred doors to
keep him out, and then had found him at my elbow. I could not doubt either that
he was there, because I was there, and that however slight an appearance of
danger there might be about us, danger was always near and active.
I put such questions to Mr. Wopsle as, When did the man come in? He could
not tell me that; he saw me, and over my shoulder he saw the man. It was not
until he had seen him for some time that he began to identify him; but he had
from the first vaguely associated him with me, and known him as somehow
belonging to me in the old village time. How was he dressed? Prosperously, but
not noticeably otherwise; he thought, in black. Was his face at all disfigured?
No, he believed not. I believed not, too, for, although in my brooding state I
had taken no especial notice of the people behind me, I thought it likely that a
face at all disfigured would have attracted my attention.
When Mr. Wopsle had imparted to me all that he could recall or I extract,
and when I had treated him to a little appropriate refreshment after the
fatigues of the evening, we parted. It was between twelve and one o'clock when
I reached the Temple, and the gates were shut. No one was near me when I went
in and went home.
Herbert had come in, and we held a very serious council by the fire. But
there was nothing to be done, saving to communicate to Wemmick what I had that
night found out, and to remind him that we waited for his hint. As I thought
that I might compromise him if I went too often to the Castle, I made this
communication by letter. I wrote it before I went to bed, and went out and
posted it; and again no one was near me. Herbert and I agreed that we could do
nothing else but be very cautious. And we were very cautious indeed - more
cautious than before, if that were possible - and I for my part never went near
Chinks's Basin, except when I rowed by, and then I only looked at Mill Pond Bank
as I looked at anything else.
The second of the two meetings referred to in the last chapter, occurred
about a week after the first. I had again left my boat at the wharf below
Bridge; the time was an hour earlier in the afternoon; and, undecided where to
dine, I had strolled up into Cheapside, and was strolling along it, surely the
most unsettled person in all the busy concourse, when a large hand was laid upon
my shoulder, by some one overtaking me. It was Mr. Jaggers's hand, and he
passed it through my arm.
"As we are going in the same direction, Pip, we may walk together. Where
are you bound for?"
"For the Temple, I think," said I.
"Don't you know?" said Mr. Jaggers.
"Well," I returned, glad for once to get the better of him in
cross-examination, "I do not know, for I have not made up my mind."
"You are going to dine?" said Mr. Jaggers. "You don't mind admitting that,
"No," I returned, "I don't mind admitting that."
"And are not engaged?"
"I don't mind admitting also, that I am not engaged."
"Then," said Mr. Jaggers, "come and dine with me."
I was going to excuse myself, when he added, "Wemmick's coming." So, I
changed my excuse into an acceptance - the few words I had uttered, serving for
the beginning of either - and we went along Cheapside and slanted off to Little
Britain, while the lights were springing up brilliantly in the shop windows, and
the street lamp-lighters, scarcely finding ground enough to plant their ladders
on in the midst of the afternoon's bustle, were skipping up and down and running
in and out, opening more red eyes in the gathering fog than my rushlight tower
at the Hummums had opened white eyes in the ghostly wall.
At the office in Little Britain there was the usual letter-writing,
hand-washing, candle-snuffing, and safe-locking, that closed the business of the
day. As I stood idle by Mr. Jaggers's fire, its rising and falling flame made
the two casts on the shelf look as if they were playing a diabolical game at