eBooks Cube
 
Chapter 27

"MY DEAR MR PIP,

"I write this by request of Mr. Gargery, for to let you know that he
is going to London in company with Mr. Wopsle and would be glad if
agreeable to be allowed to see you. He would call at Barnard's
Hotel Tuesday morning 9 o'clock, when if not agreeable please
leave word. Your poor sister is much the same as when you left. We
talk of you in the kitchen every night, and wonder what you are
saying and doing. If now considered in the light of a liberty,
excuse it for the love of poor old days. No more, dear Mr. Pip, from

"Your ever obliged, and affectionate servant,

"BIDDY."

"P.S. He wishes me most particular to write what larks. He says you
will understand. I hope and do not doubt it will be agreeable to
see him even though a gentleman, for you had ever a good heart, and
he is a worthy worthy man. I have read him all excepting only the
last little sentence, and he wishes me most particular to write
again what larks."

I received this letter by the post on Monday morning, and therefore
its appointment was for next day. Let me confess exactly, with what
feelings I looked forward to Joe's coming.

Not with pleasure, though I was bound to him by so many ties; no;
with considerable disturbance, some mortification, and a keen sense
of incongruity. If I could have kept him away by paying money, I
certainly would have paid money. My greatest reassurance was, that
he was coming to Barnard's Inn, not to Hammersmith, and
consequently would not fall in Bentley Drummle's way. I had little
objection to his being seen by Herbert or his father, for both of
whom I had a respect; but I had the sharpest sensitiveness as to
his being seen by Drummle, whom I held in contempt. So, throughout
life, our worst weaknesses and meannesses are usually committed for
the sake of the people whom we most despise.

I had begun to be always decorating the chambers in some quite
unnecessary and inappropriate way or other, and very expensive
those wrestles with Barnard proved to be. By this time, the rooms
were vastly different from what I had found them, and I enjoyed the
honour of occupying a few prominent pages in the books of a
neighbouring upholsterer. I had got on so fast of late, that I had
even started a boy in boots - top boots - in bondage and slavery to
whom I might have been said to pass my days. For, after I had made
the monster (out of the refuse of my washerwoman's family) and had
clothed him with a blue coat, canary waistcoat, white cravat,
creamy breeches, and the boots already mentioned, I had to find him
a little to do and a great deal to eat; and with both of those
horrible requirements he haunted my existence.

This avenging phantom was ordered to be on duty at eight on Tuesday
morning in the hall (it was two feet square, as charged for
floorcloth), and Herbert suggested certain things for breakfast
that he thought Joe would like. While I felt sincerely obliged to
him for being so interested and considerate, I had an odd
half-provoked sense of suspicion upon me, that if Joe had been
coming to see him, he wouldn't have been quite so brisk about it.

However, I came into town on the Monday night to be ready for Joe,
and I got up early in the morning, and caused the sittingroom and
breakfast-table to assume their most splendid appearance.
Unfortunately the morning was drizzly, and an angel could not have
concealed the fact that Barnard was shedding sooty tears outside the
window, like some weak giant of a Sweep.

As the time approached I should have liked to run away, but the
Avenger pursuant to orders was in the hall, and presently I heard
Joe on the staircase. I knew it was Joe, by his clumsy manner of
coming up-stairs - his state boots being always too big for him -
and by the time it took him to read the names on the other floors
in the course of his ascent. When at last he stopped outside our
door, I could hear his finger tracing over the painted letters of
my name, and I afterwards distinctly heard him breathing in at the
keyhole. Finally he gave a faint single rap, and Pepper - such was
the compromising name of the avenging boy - announced "Mr. Gargery!"
I thought he never would have done wiping his feet, and that I must
have gone out to lift him off the mat, but at last he came in.

"Joe, how are you, Joe?"

"Pip, how AIR you, Pip?"

With his good honest face all glowing and shining, and his hat put
down on the floor between us, he caught both my hands and worked
them straight up and down, as if I had been the lastpatented Pump.

"I am glad to see you, Joe. Give me your hat."

But Joe, taking it up carefully with both hands, like a bird's-nest
with eggs in it, wouldn't hear of parting with that piece of
property, and persisted in standing talking over it in a most
uncomfortable way.

"Which you have that growed," said Joe, "and that swelled, and that
gentle-folked;" Joe considered a little before he discovered this
word; "as to be sure you are a honour to your king and country."

"And you, Joe, look wonderfully well."

"Thank God," said Joe, "I'm ekerval to most. And your sister, she's
no worse than she were. And Biddy, she's ever right and ready. And
all friends is no backerder, if not no forarder. 'Ceptin Wopsle;
he's had a drop."

All this time (still with both hands taking great care of the
bird's-nest), Joe was rolling his eyes round and round the room,
and round and round the flowered pattern of my dressing-gown.

"Had a drop, Joe?"

"Why yes," said Joe, lowering his voice, "he's left the Church, and
went into the playacting. Which the playacting have likeways
brought him to London along with me. And his wish were," said Joe,
getting the bird's-nest under his left arm for the moment and
groping in it for an egg with his right; "if no offence, as I would
'and you that."

I took what Joe gave me, and found it to be the crumpled playbill
of a small metropolitan theatre, announcing the first appearance,
in that very week, of "the celebrated Provincial Amateur of Roscian
renown, whose unique performance in the highest tragic walk of our
National Bard has lately occasioned so great a sensation in local
dramatic circles."

"Were you at his performance, Joe?" I inquired.

"I were," said Joe, with emphasis and solemnity.

"Was there a great sensation?"

"Why," said Joe, "yes, there certainly were a peck of orange-peel.
Partickler, when he see the ghost. Though I put it to yourself,
sir, whether it were calc'lated to keep a man up to his work with a
good hart, to be continiwally cutting in betwixt him and the Ghost
with "Amen!" A man may have had a misfortun' and been in the
Church," said Joe, lowering his voice to an argumentative and
feeling tone, "but that is no reason why you should put him out at
such a time. Which I meantersay, if the ghost of a man's own father
cannot be allowed to claim his attention, what can, Sir? Still
more, when his mourning "at is unfortunately made so small as that
the weight of the black feathers brings it off, try to keep it on
how you may."

A ghost-seeing effect in Joe's own countenance informed me that
Herbert had entered the room. So, I presented Joe to Herbert, who
held out his hand; but Joe backed from it, and held on by the
bird's-nest.

"Your servant, Sir," said Joe, "which I hope as you and Pip" - here
his eye fell on the Avenger, who was putting some toast on table,
and so plainly denoted an intention to make that young gentleman
one of the family, that I frowned it down and confused him more -
"I meantersay, you two gentlemen - which I hope as you get your
elths in this close spot? For the present may be a werry good inn,
according to London opinions," said Joe, confidentially, "and I
believe its character do stand i; but I wouldn't keep a pig in it
myself - not in the case that I wished him to fatten wholesome and
to eat with a meller flavour on him."

Having borne this flattering testimony to the merits of our
dwelling-place, and having incidentally shown this tendency to call
me "sir," Joe, being invited to sit down to table, looked all round
the room for a suitable spot on which to deposit his hat - as if it
were only on some very few rare substances in nature that it could
find a resting place - and ultimately stood it on an extreme corner
of the chimney-piece, from which it ever afterwards fell off at
intervals.

"Do you take tea, or coffee, Mr. Gargery?" asked Herbert, who always
presided of a morning.

"Thankee, Sir," said Joe, stiff from head to foot, "I'll take
whichever is most agreeable to yourself."

"What do you say to coffee?"

"Thankee, Sir," returned Joe, evidently dispirited by the proposal,
"since you are so kind as make chice of coffee, I will not run
contrairy to your own opinions. But don't you never find it a
little 'eating?"

"Say tea then," said Herbert, pouring it out.

Here Joe's hat tumbled off the mantel-piece, and he started out of
his chair and picked it up, and fitted it to the same exact spot.
As if it were an absolute point of good breeding that it should
tumble off again soon.

"When did you come to town, Mr. Gargery?"

"Were it yesterday afternoon?" said Joe, after coughing behind his
hand, as if he had had time to catch the whooping-cough since he
came. "No it were not. Yes it were. Yes. It were yesterday
afternoon" (with an appearance of mingled wisdom, relief, and
strict impartiality).

"Have you seen anything of London, yet?"

"Why, yes, Sir," said Joe, "me and Wopsle went off straight to look
at the Blacking Ware'us. But we didn't find that it come up to its
likeness in the red bills at the shop doors; which I meantersay,"
added Joe, in an explanatory manner, "as it is there drawd too
architectooralooral."

I really believe Joe would have prolonged this word (mightily
expressive to my mind of some architecture that I know) into a
perfect Chorus, but for his attention being providentially
attracted by his hat, which was toppling. Indeed, it demanded from
him a constant attention, and a quickness of eye and hand, very
like that exacted by wicket-keeping. He made extraordinary play
with it, and showed the greatest skill; now, rushing at it and
catching it neatly as it dropped; now, merely stopping it midway,
beating it up, and humouring it in various parts of the room and
against a good deal of the pattern of the paper on the wall, before
he felt it safe to close with it; finally, splashing it into the
slop-basin, where I took the liberty of laying hands upon it.

As to his shirt-collar, and his coat-collar, they were perplexing
to reflect upon - insoluble mysteries both. Why should a man scrape
himself to that extent, before he could consider himself full
dressed? Why should he suppose it necessary to be purified by
suffering for his holiday clothes? Then he fell into such
unaccountable fits of meditation, with his fork midway between his
plate and his mouth; had his eyes attracted in such strange
directions; was afflicted with such remarkable coughs; sat so far
from the table, and dropped so much more than he ate, and pretended
that he hadn't dropped it; that I was heartily glad when Herbert
left us for the city.

I had neither the good sense nor the good feeling to know that this
was all my fault, and that if I had been easier with Joe, Joe would
have been easier with me. I felt impatient of him and out of temper
with him; in which condition he heaped coals of fire on my head.

"Us two being now alone, Sir," - began Joe.

"Joe," I interrupted, pettishly, "how can you call me, Sir?"

Joe looked at me for a single instant with something faintly like
reproach. Utterly preposterous as his cravat was, and as his
collars were, I was conscious of a sort of dignity in the look.

"Us two being now alone," resumed Joe, "and me having the
intentions and abilities to stay not many minutes more, I will now
conclude - leastways begin - to mention what have led to my having
had the present honour. For was it not," said Joe, with his old air
of lucid exposition, "that my only wish were to be useful to you, I
should not have had the honour of breaking wittles in the company
and abode of gentlemen."

I was so unwilling to see the look again, that I made no
remonstrance against this tone.

"Well, Sir," pursued Joe, "this is how it were. I were at the
Bargemen t'other night, Pip;" whenever he subsided into affection,
he called me Pip, and whenever he relapsed into politeness he
called me Sir; "when there come up in his shay-cart, Pumblechook.
Which that same identical," said Joe, going down a new track, "do
comb my 'air the wrong way sometimes, awful, by giving out up and
down town as it were him which ever had your infant companionation
and were looked upon as a playfellow by yourself."

"Nonsense. It was you, Joe."

"Which I fully believed it were, Pip," said Joe, slightly tossing
his head, "though it signify little now, Sir. Well, Pip; this same
identical, which his manners is given to blusterous, come to me at
the Bargemen (wot a pipe and a pint of beer do give refreshment to
the working-man, Sir, and do not over stimilate), and his word
were, 'Joseph, Miss Havisham she wish to speak to you.'"

"Miss Havisham, Joe?"

"'She wish,' were Pumblechook's word, 'to speak to you.'" Joe sat
and rolled his eyes at the ceiling.

"Yes, Joe? Go on, please."

"Next day, Sir," said Joe, looking at me as if I were a long way
off, "having cleaned myself, I go and I see Miss A."

"Miss A., Joe? Miss Havisham?"

"Which I say, Sir," replied Joe, with an air of legal formality, as
if he were making his will, "Miss A., or otherways Havisham. Her
expression air then as follering: 'Mr. Gargery. You air in
correspondence with Mr. Pip?' Having had a letter from you, I were
able to say 'I am.' (When I married your sister, Sir, I said 'I
will;' and when I answered your friend, Pip, I said 'I am.') 'Would
you tell him, then,' said she, 'that which Estella has come home
and would be glad to see him.'"

I felt my face fire up as I looked at Joe. I hope one remote cause
of its firing, may have been my consciousness that if I had known
his errand, I should have given him more encouragement.

"Biddy," pursued Joe, "when I got home and asked her fur to write
the message to you, a little hung back. Biddy says, "I know he will
be very glad to have it by word of mouth, it is holidaytime, you
want to see him, go!" I have now concluded, Sir," said Joe, rising
from his chair, "and, Pip, I wish you ever well and ever prospering
to a greater and a greater heighth."

"But you are not going now, Joe?"

"Yes I am," said Joe.

"But you are coming back to dinner, Joe?"

"No I am not," said Joe.

Our eyes met, and all the "Sir" melted out of that manly heart as
he gave me his hand.

"Pip, dear old chap, life is made of ever so many partings welded
together, as I may say, and one man's a blacksmith, and one's a
whitesmith, and one's a goldsmith, and one's a coppersmith.
Diwisions among such must come, and must be met as they come. If
there's been any fault at all to-day, it's mine. You and me is not
two figures to be together in London; nor yet anywheres else but
what is private, and beknown, and understood among friends. It
ain't that I am proud, but that I want to be right, as you shall
never see me no more in these clothes. I'm wrong in these clothes.
I'm wrong out of the forge, the kitchen, or off th' meshes. You
won't find half so much fault in me if you think of me in my forge
dress, with my hammer in my hand, or even my pipe. You won't find
half so much fault in me if, supposing as you should ever wish to
see me, you come and put your head in at the forge window and see
Joe the blacksmith, there, at the old anvil, in the old burnt
apron, sticking to the old work. I'm awful dull, but I hope I've
beat out something nigh the rights of this at last. And so GOD
bless you, dear old Pip, old chap, GOD bless you!"

I had not been mistaken in my fancy that there was a simple dignity
in him. The fashion of his dress could no more come in its way when
he spoke these words, than it could come in its way in Heaven. He
touched me gently on the forehead, and went out. As soon as I could
recover myself sufficiently, I hurried out after him and looked for
him in the neighbouring streets; but he was gone.



Great Expectations by Charles Dickens
Category:
General Fiction - English literature
Nabou.com: the big site