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Chapter 29

Betimes in the morning I was up and out. It was too early yet to go
to Miss Havisham's, so I loitered into the country on Miss
Havisham's side of town - which was not Joe's side; I could go
there to-morrow - thinking about my patroness, and painting
brilliant pictures of her plans for me.

She had adopted Estella, she had as good as adopted me, and it
could not fail to be her intention to bring us together. She
reserved it for me to restore the desolate house, admit the
sunshine into the dark rooms, set the clocks a-going and the cold
hearths a-blazing, tear down the cobwebs, destroy the vermin - in
short, do all the shining deeds of the young Knight of romance, and
marry the Princess. I had stopped to look at the house as I passed;
and its seared red brick walls, blocked windows, and strong green
ivy clasping even the stacks of chimneys with its twigs and
tendons, as if with sinewy old arms, had made up a rich attractive
mystery, of which I was the hero. Estella was the inspiration of
it, and the heart of it, of course. But, though she had taken such
strong possession of me, though my fancy and my hope were so set
upon her, though her influence on my boyish life and character had
been all-powerful, I did not, even that romantic morning, invest
her with any attributes save those she possessed. I mention this in
this place, of a fixed purpose, because it is the clue by which I
am to be followed into my poor labyrinth. According to my
experience, the conventional notion of a lover cannot be always
true. The unqualified truth is, that when I loved Estella with the
love of a man, I loved her simply because I found her irresistible.
Once for all; I knew to my sorrow, often and often, if not always,
that I loved her against reason, against promise, against peace,
against hope, against happiness, against all discouragement that
could be. Once for all; I loved her none the less because I knew
it, and it had no more influence in restraining me, than if I had
devoutly believed her to be human perfection.

I so shaped out my walk as to arrive at the gate at my old time.
When I had rung at the bell with an unsteady hand, I turned my back
upon the gate, while I tried to get my breath and keep the beating
of my heart moderately quiet. I heard the side door open, and steps
come across the court-yard; but I pretended not to hear, even when
the gate swung on its rusty hinges.

Being at last touched on the shoulder, I started and turned. I
started much more naturally then, to find myself confronted by a
man in a sober grey dress. The last man I should have expected to
see in that place of porter at Miss Havisham's door.

"Orlick!"

"Ah, young master, there's more changes than yours. But come in,
come in. It's opposed to my orders to hold the gate open."

I entered and he swung it, and locked it, and took the key out.
"Yes!" said he, facing round, after doggedly preceding me a few
steps towards the house. "Here I am!"

"How did you come here?"

"I come her," he retorted, "on my legs. I had my box brought
alongside me in a barrow."

"Are you here for good?"

"I ain't her for harm, young master, I suppose?"

I was not so sure of that. I had leisure to entertain the retort in
my mind, while he slowly lifted his heavy glance from the pavement,
up my legs and arms, to my face.

"Then you have left the forge?" I said.

"Do this look like a forge?" replied Orlick, sending his glance all
round him with an air of injury. "Now, do it look like it?"

I asked him how long he had left Gargery's forge?

"One day is so like another here," he replied, "that I don't know
without casting it up. However, I come her some time since you
left."

"I could have told you that, Orlick."

"Ah!" said he, drily. "But then you've got to be a scholar."

By this time we had come to the house, where I found his room to be
one just within the side door, with a little window in it looking
on the court-yard. In its small proportions, it was not unlike the
kind of place usually assigned to a gate-porter in Paris. Certain
keys were hanging on the wall, to which he now added the gate-key;
and his patchwork-covered bed was in a little inner division or
recess. The whole had a slovenly confined and sleepy look, like a
cage for a human dormouse: while he, looming dark and heavy in the
shadow of a corner by the window, looked like the human dormouse
for whom it was fitted up - as indeed he was.

"I never saw this room before," I remarked; "but there used to be
no Porter here."

"No," said he; "not till it got about that there was no protection
on the premises, and it come to be considered dangerous, with
convicts and Tag and Rag and Bobtail going up and down. And then I
was recommended to the place as a man who could give another man as
good as he brought, and I took it. It's easier than bellowsing and
hammering. - That's loaded, that is."

My eye had been caught by a gun with a brass bound stock over the
chimney-piece, and his eye had followed mine.

"Well," said I, not desirous of more conversation, "shall I go up
to Miss Havisham?"

"Burn me, if I know!" he retorted, first stretching himself and
then shaking himself; "my orders ends here, young master. I give
this here bell a rap with this here hammer, and you go on along the
passage till you meet somebody."

"I am expected, I believe?"

"Burn me twice over, if I can say!" said he.

Upon that, I turned down the long passage which I had first trodden
in my thick boots, and he made his bell sound. At the end of the
passage, while the bell was still reverberating, I found Sarah
Pocket: who appeared to have now become constitutionally green and
yellow by reason of me.

"Oh!" said she. "You, is it, Mr. Pip?"

"It is, Miss Pocket. I am glad to tell you that Mr. Pocket and
family are all well."

"Are they any wiser?" said Sarah, with a dismal shake of the head;
"they had better be wiser, than well. Ah, Matthew, Matthew! You know
your way, sir?"

Tolerably, for I had gone up the staircase in the dark, many a
time. I ascended it now, in lighter boots than of yore, and tapped
in my old way at the door of Miss Havisham's room. "Pip's rap," I
heard her say, immediately; "come in, Pip."

She was in her chair near the old table, in the old dress, with her
two hands crossed on her stick, her chin resting on them, and her
eyes on the fire. Sitting near her, with the white shoe that had
never been worn, in her hand, and her head bent as she looked at
it, was an elegant lady whom I had never seen.

"Come in, Pip," Miss Havisham continued to mutter, without looking
round or up; "come in, Pip, how do you do, Pip? so you kiss my hand
as if I were a queen, eh? - Well?"

She looked up at me suddenly, only moving her eyes, and repeated in
a grimly playful manner,

"Well?"

"I heard, Miss Havisham," said I, rather at a loss, "that you were
so kind as to wish me to come and see you, and I came directly."

"Well?"

The lady whom I had never seen before, lifted up her eyes and
looked archly at me, and then I saw that the eyes were Estella's
eyes. But she was so much changed, was so much more beautiful, so
much more womanly, in all things winning admiration had made such
wonderful advance, that I seemed to have made none. I fancied, as I
looked at her, that I slipped hopelessly back into the coarse and
common boy again. O the sense of distance and disparity that came
upon me, and the inaccessibility that came about her!

She gave me her hand. I stammered something about the pleasure I
felt in seeing her again, and about my having looked forward to it
for a long, long time.

"Do you find her much changed, Pip?" asked Miss Havisham, with her
greedy look, and striking her stick upon a chair that stood between
them, as a sign to me to sit down there.

"When I came in, Miss Havisham, I thought there was nothing of
Estella in the face or figure; but now it all settles down so
curiously into the old--"

"What? You are not going to say into the old Estella?" Miss
Havisham interrupted. "She was proud and insulting, and you wanted
to go away from her. Don't you remember?"

I said confusedly that that was long ago, and that I knew no better
then, and the like. Estella smiled with perfect composure, and said
she had no doubt of my having been quite right, and of her having
been very disagreeable.

"Is he changed?" Miss Havisham asked her.

"Very much," said Estella, looking at me.

"Less coarse and common?" said Miss Havisham, playing with
Estella's hair.

Estella laughed, and looked at the shoe in her hand, and laughed
again, and looked at me, and put the shoe down. She treated me as a
boy still, but she lured me on.

We sat in the dreamy room among the old strange influences which
had so wrought upon me, and I learnt that she had but just come
home from France, and that she was going to London. Proud and
wilful as of old, she had brought those qualities into such
subjection to her beauty that it was impossible and out of nature -
or I thought so - to separate them from her beauty. Truly it was
impossible to dissociate her presence from all those wretched
hankerings after money and gentility that had disturbed my boyhood
- from all those ill-regulated aspirations that had first made me
ashamed of home and Joe - from all those visions that had raised
her face in the glowing fire, struck it out of the iron on the
anvil, extracted it from the darkness of night to look in at the
wooden window of the forge and flit away. In a word, it was
impossible for me to separate her, in the past or in the present,
from the innermost life of my life.

It was settled that I should stay there all the rest of the day,
and return to the hotel at night, and to London to-morrow. When we
had conversed for a while, Miss Havisham sent us two out to walk in
the neglected garden: on our coming in by-and-by, she said, I
should wheel her about a little as in times of yore.

So, Estella and I went out into the garden by the gate through
which I had strayed to my encounter with the pale young gentleman,
now Herbert; I, trembling in spirit and worshipping the very hem of
her dress; she, quite composed and most decidedly not worshipping
the hem of mine. As we drew near to the place of encounter, she
stopped and said:

"I must have been a singular little creature to hide and see that
fight that day: but I did, and I enjoyed it very much."

"You rewarded me very much."

"Did I?" she replied, in an incidental and forgetful way. "I
remember I entertained a great objection to your adversary, because
I took it ill that he should be brought here to pester me with his
company."

"He and I are great friends now."

"Are you? I think I recollect though, that you read with his
father?"

"Yes."

I made the admission with reluctance, for it seemed to have a
boyish look, and she already treated me more than enough like a
boy.

"Since your change of fortune and prospects, you have changed your
companions," said Estella.

"Naturally," said I.

"And necessarily," she added, in a haughty tone; "what was fit
company for you once, would be quite unfit company for you now."

In my conscience, I doubt very much whether I had any lingering
intention left, of going to see Joe; but if I had, this observation
put it to flight.

"You had no idea of your impending good fortune, in those times?"
said Estella, with a slight wave of her hand, signifying in the
fighting times.

"Not the least."

The air of completeness and superiority with which she walked at my
side, and the air of youthfulness and submission with which I
walked at hers, made a contrast that I strongly felt. It would have
rankled in me more than it did, if I had not regarded myself as
eliciting it by being so set apart for her and assigned to her.

The garden was too overgrown and rank for walking in with ease, and
after we had made the round of it twice or thrice, we came out
again into the brewery yard. I showed her to a nicety where I had
seen her walking on the casks, that first old day, and she said,
with a cold and careless look in that direction, "Did I?" I
reminded her where she had come out of the house and given me my
meat and drink, and she said, "I don't remember." "Not remember
that you made me cry?" said I. "No," said she, and shook her head
and looked about her. I verily believe that her not remembering and
not minding in the least, made me cry again, inwardly - and that is
the sharpest crying of all.

"You must know," said Estella, condescending to me as a brilliant
and beautiful woman might, "that I have no heart - if that has
anything to do with my memory."

I got through some jargon to the effect that I took the liberty of
doubting that. That I knew better. That there could be no such
beauty without it.

"Oh! I have a heart to be stabbed in or shot in, I have no doubt,"
said Estella, "and, of course, if it ceased to beat I should cease
to be. But you know what I mean. I have no softness there, no -
sympathy - sentiment - nonsense."

What was it that was borne in upon my mind when she stood still and
looked attentively at me? Anything that I had seen in Miss
Havisham? No. In some of her looks and gestures there was that
tinge of resemblance to Miss Havisham which may often be noticed to
have been acquired by children, from grown person with whom they
have been much associated and secluded, and which, when childhood
is passed, will produce a remarkable occasional likeness of
expression between faces that are otherwise quite different. And
yet I could not trace this to Miss Havisham. I looked again, and
though she was still looking at me, the suggestion was gone.

What was it?

"I am serious," said Estella, not so much with a frown (for her
brow was smooth) as with a darkening of her face; "if we are to be
thrown much together, you had better believe it at once. No!"
imperiously stopping me as I opened my lips. "I have not bestowed
my tenderness anywhere. I have never had any such thing."

In another moment we were in the brewery so long disused, and she
pointed to the high gallery where I had seen her going out on that
same first day, and told me she remembered to have been up there,
and to have seen me standing scared below. As my eyes followed her
white hand, again the same dim suggestion that I could not possibly
grasp, crossed me. My involuntary start occasioned her to lay her
hand upon my arm. Instantly the ghost passed once more, and was
gone.

What was it?

"What is the matter?" asked Estella. "Are you scared again?"

"I should be, if I believed what you said just now," I replied, to
turn it off.

"Then you don't? Very well. It is said, at any rate. Miss Havisham
will soon be expecting you at your old post, though I think that
might be laid aside now, with other old belongings. Let us make one
more round of the garden, and then go in. Come! You shall not shed
tears for my cruelty to-day; you shall be my Page, and give me your
shoulder."

Her handsome dress had trailed upon the ground. She held it in one
hand now, and with the other lightly touched my shoulder as we
walked. We walked round the ruined garden twice or thrice more, and
it was all in bloom for me. If the green and yellow growth of weed
in the chinks of the old wall had been the most precious flowers
that ever blew, it could not have been more cherished in my
remembrance.

There was no discrepancy of years between us, to remove her far
from me; we were of nearly the same age, though of course the age
told for more in her case than in mine; but the air of
inaccessibility which her beauty and her manner gave her, tormented
me in the midst of my delight, and at the height of the assurance I
felt that our patroness had chosen us for one another. Wretched
boy!

At last we went back into the house, and there I heard, with
surprise, that my guardian had come down to see Miss Havisham on
business, and would come back to dinner. The old wintry branches of
chandeliers in the room where the mouldering table was spread, had
been lighted while we were out, and Miss Havisham was in her chair
and waiting for me.

It was like pushing the chair itself back into the past, when we
began the old slow circuit round about the ashes of the bridal
feast. But, in the funereal room, with that figure of the grave
fallen back in the chair fixing its eyes upon her, Estella looked
more bright and beautiful than before, and I was under stronger
enchantment.

The time so melted away, that our early dinner-hour drew close at
hand, and Estella left us to prepare herself. We had stopped near
the centre of the long table, and Miss Havisham, with one of her
withered arms stretched out of the chair, rested that clenched hand
upon the yellow cloth. As Estella looked back over her shoulder
before going out at the door, Miss Havisham kissed that hand to
her, with a ravenous intensity that was of its kind quite dreadful.

Then, Estella being gone and we two left alone, she turned to me,
and said in a whisper:

"Is she beautiful, graceful, well-grown? Do you admire her?"

"Everybody must who sees her, Miss Havisham."

She drew an arm round my neck, and drew my head close down to hers
as she sat in the chair. "Love her, love her, love her! How does
she use you?"

Before I could answer (if I could have answered so difficult a
question at all), she repeated, "Love her, love her, love her! If
she favours you, love her. If she wounds you, love her. If she
tears your heart to pieces - and as it gets older and stronger, it
will tear deeper - love her, love her, love her!"

Never had I seen such passionate eagerness as was joined to her
utterance of these words. I could feel the muscles of the thin arm
round my neck, swell with the vehemence that possessed her.

"Hear me, Pip! I adopted her to be loved. I bred her and educated
her, to be loved. I developed her into what she is, that she might
be loved. Love her!"

She said the word often enough, and there could be no doubt that
she meant to say it; but if the often repeated word had been hate
instead of love - despair - revenge - dire death - it could not
have sounded from her lips more like a curse.

"I'll tell you," said she, in the same hurried passionate whisper,
"what real love is. It is blind devotion, unquestioning
self-humiliation, utter submission, trust and belief against
yourself and against the whole world, giving up your whole heart
and soul to the smiter - as I did!"

When she came to that, and to a wild cry that followed that, I
caught her round the waist. For she rose up in the chair, in her
shroud of a dress, and struck at the air as if she would as soon
have struck herself against the wall and fallen dead.

All this passed in a few seconds. As I drew her down into her
chair, I was conscious of a scent that I knew, and turning, saw my
guardian in the room.

He always carried (I have not yet mentioned it, I think) a
pocket-handkerchief of rich silk and of imposing proportions, which
was of great value to him in his profession. I have seen him so
terrify a client or a witness by ceremoniously unfolding this
pocket-handkerchief as if he were immediately going to blow his
nose, and then pausing, as if he knew he should not have time to do
it before such client or witness committed himself, that the
self-committal has followed directly, quite as a matter of course.
When I saw him in the room, he had this expressive
pockethandkerchief in both hands, and was looking at us. On meeting
my eye, he said plainly, by a momentary and silent pause in that
attitude, "Indeed? Singular!" and then put the handkerchief to its
right use with wonderful effect.

Miss Havisham had seen him as soon as I, and was (like everybody
else) afraid of him. She made a strong attempt to compose herself,
and stammered that he was as punctual as ever.

"As punctual as ever," he repeated, coming up to us. "(How do you
do, Pip? Shall I give you a ride, Miss Havisham? Once round?)
And so you are here, Pip?"

I told him when I had arrived, and how Miss Havisham had wished me
to come and see Estella. To which he replied, "Ah! Very fine young
lady!" Then he pushed Miss Havisham in her chair before him, with
one of his large hands, and put the other in his trousers-pocket as
if the pocket were full of secrets.

"Well, Pip! How often have you seen Miss Estella before?" said he,
when he came to a stop.

"How often?"

"Ah! How many times? Ten thousand times?"

"Oh! Certainly not so many."

"Twice?"

"Jaggers," interposed Miss Havisham, much to my relief; "leave my
Pip alone, and go with him to your dinner."

He complied, and we groped our way down the dark stairs together.
While we were still on our way to those detached apartments across
the paved yard at the back, he asked me how often I had seen Miss
Havisham eat and drink; offering me a breadth of choice, as usual,
between a hundred times and once.

I considered, and said, "Never."

"And never will, Pip," he retorted, with a frowning smile. "She has
never allowed herself to be seen doing either, since she lived this
present life of hers. She wanders about in the night, and then lays
hands on such food as she takes."

"Pray, sir," said I, "may I ask you a question?"

"You may," said he, "and I may decline to answer it. Put your
question."

"Estella's name. Is it Havisham or - ?" I had nothing to add.

"Or what?" said he.

"Is it Havisham?"

"It is Havisham."

This brought us to the dinner-table, where she and Sarah Pocket
awaited us. Mr. Jaggers presided, Estella sat opposite to him, I
faced my green and yellow friend. We dined very well, and were
waited on by a maid-servant whom I had never seen in all my comings
and goings, but who, for anything I know, had been in that
mysterious house the whole time. After dinner, a bottle of choice
old port was placed before my guardian (he was evidently well
acquainted with the vintage), and the two ladies left us.

Anything to equal the determined reticence of Mr. Jaggers under that
roof, I never saw elsewhere, even in him. He kept his very looks to
himself, and scarcely directed his eyes to Estella's face once
during dinner. When she spoke to him, he listened, and in due
course answered, but never looked at her, that I could see. On the
other hand, she often looked at him, with interest and curiosity,
if not distrust, but his face never, showed the least
consciousness. Throughout dinner he took a dry delight in making
Sarah Pocket greener and yellower, by often referring in
conversation with me to my expectations; but here, again, he showed
no consciousness, and even made it appear that he extorted - and
even did extort, though I don't know how - those references out of
my innocent self.

And when he and I were left alone together, he sat with an air upon
him of general lying by in consequence of information he possessed,
that really was too much for me. He cross-examined his very wine
when he had nothing else in hand. He held it between himself and
the candle, tasted the port, rolled it in his mouth, swallowed it,
looked at his glass again, smelt the port, tried it, drank it,
filled again, and cross-examined the glass again, until I was as
nervous as if I had known the wine to be telling him something to
my disadvantage. Three or four times I feebly thought I would start
conversation; but whenever he saw me going to ask him anything, he
looked at me with his glass in his hand, and rolling his wine about
in his mouth, as if requesting me to take notice that it was of no
use, for he couldn't answer.

I think Miss Pocket was conscious that the sight of me involved her
in the danger of being goaded to madness, and perhaps tearing off
her cap - which was a very hideous one, in the nature of a muslin
mop - and strewing the ground with her hair - which assuredly had
never grown on her head. She did not appear when we afterwards went
up to Miss Havisham's room, and we four played at whist. In the
interval, Miss Havisham, in a fantastic way, had put some of the
most beautiful jewels from her dressing-table into Estella's hair,
and about her bosom and arms; and I saw even my guardian look at
her from under his thick eyebrows, and raise them a little, when
her loveliness was before him, with those rich flushes of glitter
and colour in it.

Of the manner and extent to which he took our trumps into custody,
and came out with mean little cards at the ends of hands, before
which the glory of our Kings and Queens was utterly abased, I say
nothing; nor, of the feeling that I had, respecting his looking
upon us personally in the light of three very obvious and poor
riddles that he had found out long ago. What I suffered from, was
the incompatibility between his cold presence and my feelings
towards Estella. It was not that I knew I could never bear to speak
to him about her, that I knew I could never bear to hear him creak
his boots at her, that I knew I could never bear to see him wash
his hands of her; it was, that my admiration should be within a
foot or two of him - it was, that my feelings should be in the same
place with him - that, was the agonizing circumstance.

We played until nine o'clock, and then it was arranged that when
Estella came to London I should be forewarned of her coming and
should meet her at the coach; and then I took leave of her, and
touched her and left her.

My guardian lay at the Boar in the next room to mine. Far into the
night, Miss Havisham's words, "Love her, love her, love her!"
sounded in my ears. I adapted them for my own repetition, and said
to my pillow, "I love her, I love her, I love her!" hundreds of
times. Then, a burst of gratitude came upon me, that she should be
destined for me, once the blacksmith's boy. Then, I thought if she
were, as I feared, by no means rapturously grateful for that
destiny yet, when would she begin to be interested in me? When
should I awaken the heart within her, that was mute and sleeping
now?

Ah me! I thought those were high and great emotions. But I never
thought there was anything low and small in my keeping away from
Joe, because I knew she would be contemptuous of him. It was but a
day gone, and Joe had brought the tears into my eyes; they had soon
dried, God forgive me! soon dried.



Great Expectations by Charles Dickens
Category:
General Fiction - English literature
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