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Chapter 33

In her furred travelling-dress, Estella seemed more delicately
beautiful than she had ever seemed yet, even in my eyes. Her manner
was more winning than she had cared to let it be to me before, and
I thought I saw Miss Havisham's influence in the change.

We stood in the Inn Yard while she pointed out her luggage to me,
and when it was all collected I remembered - having forgotten
everything but herself in the meanwhile - that I knew nothing of
her destination

"I am going to Richmond," she told me. "Our lesson is, that there
are two Richmonds, one in Surrey and one in Yorkshire, and that mine
is the Surrey Richmond. The distance is ten miles. I am to have a
carriage, and you are to take me. This is my purse, and you are to
pay my charges out of it. Oh, you must take the purse! We have no
choice, you and I, but to obey our instructions. We are not free to
follow our own devices, you and I."

As she looked at me in giving me the purse, I hoped there was an
inner meaning in her words. She said them slightingly, but not with
displeasure.

"A carriage will have to be sent for, Estella. Will you rest here a
little?"

"Yes, I am to rest here a little, and I am to drink some tea, and
you are to take care of me the while."

She drew her arm through mine, as if it must be done, and I
requested a waiter who had been staring at the coach like a man who
had never seen such a thing in his life, to show us a private
sitting-room. Upon that, he pulled out a napkin, as if it were a
magic clue without which he couldn't find the way up-stairs, and
led us to the black hole of the establishment: fitted up with a
diminishing mirror (quite a superfluous article considering the
hole's proportions), an anchovy sauce-cruet, and somebody's
pattens. On my objecting to this retreat, he took us into another
room with a dinner-table for thirty, and in the grate a scorched
leaf of a copy-book under a bushel of coal-dust. Having looked at
this extinct conflagration and shaken his head, he took my order:
which, proving to be merely "Some tea for the lady," sent him out
of the room in a very low state of mind.

I was, and I am, sensible that the air of this chamber, in its
strong combination of stable with soup-stock, might have led one to
infer that the coaching department was not doing well, and that the
enterprising proprietor was boiling down the horses for the
refreshment department. Yet the room was all in all to me, Estella
being in it. I thought that with her I could have been happy there
for life. (I was not at all happy there at the time, observe, and I
knew it well.)

"Where are you going to, at Richmond?" I asked Estella.

"I am going to live," said she, "at a great expense, with a lady
there, who has the power - or says she has - of taking me about,
and introducing me, and showing people to me and showing me to
people."

"I suppose you will be glad of variety and admiration?"

"Yes, I suppose so."

She answered so carelessly, that I said, "You speak of yourself as
if you were some one else."

"Where did you learn how I speak of others? Come, come," said
Estella, smiling delightfully, "you must not expect me to go to
school to you; I must talk in my own way. How do you thrive with
Mr. Pocket?"

"I live quite pleasantly there; at least--" It appeared to me that
I was losing a chance.

"At least?" repeated Estella.

"As pleasantly as I could anywhere, away from you."

"You silly boy," said Estella, quite composedly, "how can you talk
such nonsense? Your friend Mr. Matthew, I believe, is superior to
the rest of his family?"

"Very superior indeed. He is nobody's enemy--"

"Don't add but his own," interposed Estella, "for I hate that class
of man. But he really is disinterested, and above small jealousy
and spite, I have heard?"

"I am sure I have every reason to say so."

"You have not every reason to say so of the rest of his people,"
said Estella, nodding at me with an expression of face that was at
once grave and rallying, "for they beset Miss Havisham with reports
and insinuations to your disadvantage. They watch you, misrepresent
you, write letters about you (anonymous sometimes), and you are the
torment and the occupation of their lives. You can scarcely realize
to yourself the hatred those people feel for you."

"They do me no harm, I hope?"

Instead of answering, Estella burst out laughing. This was very
singular to me, and I looked at her in considerable perplexity.
When she left off - and she had not laughed languidly, but with
real enjoyment - I said, in my diffident way with her:

"I hope I may suppose that you would not be amused if they did me
any harm."

"No, no you may be sure of that," said Estella. "You may be certain
that I laugh because they fail. Oh, those people with Miss
Havisham, and the tortures they undergo!" She laughed again, and
even now when she had told me why, her laughter was very singular
to me, for I could not doubt its being genuine, and yet it seemed
too much for the occasion. I thought there must really be something
more here than I knew; she saw the thought in my mind, and answered
it.

"It is not easy for even you." said Estella, "to know what
satisfaction it gives me to see those people thwarted, or what an
enjoyable sense of the ridiculous I have when they are made
ridiculous. For you were not brought up in that strange house from
a mere baby. - I was. You had not your little wits sharpened by
their intriguing against you, suppressed and defenceless, under the
mask of sympathy and pity and what not that is soft and soothing. -
I had. You did not gradually open your round childish eyes wider
and wider to the discovery of that impostor of a woman who
calculates her stores of peace of mind for when she wakes up in the
night. - I did."

It was no laughing matter with Estella now, nor was she summoning
these remembrances from any shallow place. I would not have been
the cause of that look of hers, for all my expectations in a heap.

"Two things I can tell you," said Estella. "First, notwithstanding
the proverb that constant dropping will wear away a stone, you may
set your mind at rest that these people never will - never would,
in hundred years - impair your ground with Miss Havisham, in any
particular, great or small. Second, I am beholden to you as the
cause of their being so busy and so mean in vain, and there is my
hand upon it."

As she gave it me playfully - for her darker mood had been but
momentary - I held it and put it to my lips. "You ridiculous boy,"
said Estella, "will you never take warning? Or do you kiss my hand
in the same spirit in which I once let you kiss my cheek?"

"What spirit was that?" said I.

"I must think a moment A spirit of contempt for the fawners and
plotters."

"If I say yes, may I kiss the cheek again?"

"You should have asked before you touched the hand. But, yes, if
you like."

I leaned down, and her calm face was like a statue's. "Now," said
Estella, gliding away the instant I touched her cheek, "you are to
take care that I have some tea, and you are to take me to
Richmond."

Her reverting to this tone as if our association were forced upon
us and we were mere puppets, gave me pain; but everything in our
intercourse did give me pain. Whatever her tone with me happened to
be, I could put no trust in it, and build no hope on it; and yet I
went on against trust and against hope. Why repeat it a thousand
times? So it always was.

I rang for the tea, and the waiter, reappearing with his magic
clue, brought in by degrees some fifty adjuncts to that refreshment
but of tea not a glimpse. A teaboard, cups and saucers, plates,
knives and forks (including carvers), spoons (various),
saltcellars, a meek little muffin confined with the utmost
precaution under a strong iron cover, Moses in the bullrushes
typified by a soft bit of butter in a quantity of parsley, a pale
loaf with a powdered head, two proof impressions of the bars of the
kitchen fire-place on triangular bits of bread, and ultimately a
fat family urn: which the waiter staggered in with, expressing in
his countenance burden and suffering. After a prolonged absence at
this stage of the entertainment, he at length came back with a
casket of precious appearance containing twigs. These I steeped in
hot water, and so from the whole of these appliances extracted one
cup of I don't know what, for Estella.

The bill paid, and the waiter remembered, and the ostler not
forgotten, and the chambermaid taken into consideration - in a
word, the whole house bribed into a state of contempt and
animosity, and Estella's purse much lightened - we got into our
post-coach and drove away. Turning into Cheapside and rattling up
Newgate-street, we were soon under the walls of which I was so
ashamed.

"What place is that?" Estella asked me.

I made a foolish pretence of not at first recognizing it, and then
told her. As she looked at it, and drew in her head again,
murmuring "Wretches!" I would not have confessed to my visit for
any consideration.

"Mr. Jaggers," said I, by way of putting it neatly on somebody else,
"has the reputation of being more in the secrets of that dismal
place than any man in London."

"He is more in the secrets of every place, I think," said Estella,
in a low voice.

"You have been accustomed to see him often, I suppose?"

"I have been accustomed to see him at uncertain intervals, ever
since I can remember. But I know him no better now, than I did
before I could speak plainly. What is your own experience of him?
Do you advance with him?"

"Once habituated to his distrustful manner," said I, "I have done
very well."

"Are you intimate?"

"I have dined with him at his private house."

"I fancy," said Estella, shrinking "that must be a curious place."

"It is a curious place."

I should have been chary of discussing my guardian too freely even
with her; but I should have gone on with the subject so far as to
describe the dinner in Gerrard-street, if we had not then come into
a sudden glare of gas. It seemed, while it lasted, to be all alight
and alive with that inexplicable feeling I had had before; and when
we were out of it, I was as much dazed for a few moments as if I
had been in Lightning.

So, we fell into other talk, and it was principally about the way
by which we were travelling, and about what parts of London lay on
this side of it, and what on that. The great city was almost new to
her, she told me, for she had never left Miss Havisham's
neighbourhood until she had gone to France, and she had merely
passed through London then in going and returning. I asked her if
my guardian had any charge of her while she remained here? To that
she emphatically said "God forbid!" and no more.

It was impossible for me to avoid seeing that she cared to attract
me; that she made herself winning; and would have won me even if
the task had needed pains. Yet this made me none the happier, for,
even if she had not taken that tone of our being disposed of by
others, I should have felt that she held my heart in her hand
because she wilfully chose to do it, and not because it would have
wrung any tenderness in her, to crush it and throw it away.

When we passed through Hammersmith, I showed her where Mr. Matthew
Pocket lived, and said it was no great way from Richmond, and that
I hoped I should see her sometimes.

"Oh yes, you are to see me; you are to come when you think proper;
you are to be mentioned to the family; indeed you are already
mentioned."

I inquired was it a large household she was going to be a member
of?

"No; there are only two; mother and daughter. The mother is a lady
of some station, though not averse to increasing her income."

"I wonder Miss Havisham could part with you again so soon."

"It is a part of Miss Havisham's plans for me, Pip," said Estella,
with a sigh, as if she were tired; "I am to write to her constantly
and see her regularly and report how I go on - I and the jewels -
for they are nearly all mine now."

It was the first time she had ever called me by my name. Of course
she did so, purposely, and knew that I should treasure it up.

We came to Richmond all too soon, and our destination there, was a
house by the Green; a staid old house, where hoops and powder and
patches, embroidered coats rolled stockings ruffles and swords, had
had their court days many a time. Some ancient trees before the
house were still cut into fashions as formal and unnatural as the
hoops and wigs and stiff skirts; but their own allotted places in
the great procession of the dead were not far off, and they would
soon drop into them and go the silent way of the rest.

A bell with an old voice - which I dare say in its time had often
said to the house, Here is the green farthingale, Here is the
diamondhilted sword, Here are the shoes with red heels and the blue
solitaire, - sounded gravely in the moonlight, and two
cherrycoloured maids came fluttering out to receive Estella. The
doorway soon absorbed her boxes, and she gave me her hand and a
smile, and said good night, and was absorbed likewise. And still I
stood looking at the house, thinking how happy I should be if I
lived there with her, and knowing that I never was happy with her,
but always miserable.

I got into the carriage to be taken back to Hammersmith, and I got
in with a bad heart-ache, and I got out with a worse heart-ache. At
our own door, I found little Jane Pocket coming home from a little
party escorted by her little lover; and I envied her little lover,
in spite of his being subject to Flopson.

Mr. Pocket was out lecturing; for, he was a most delightful lecturer
on domestic economy, and his treatises on the management of
children and servants were considered the very best text-books on
those themes. But, Mrs. Pocket was at home, and was in a little
difficulty, on account of the baby's having been accommodated with
a needle-case to keep him quiet during the unaccountable absence
(with a relative in the Foot Guards) of Millers. And more needles
were missing, than it could be regarded as quite wholesome for a
patient of such tender years either to apply externally or to take
as a tonic.

Mr. Pocket being justly celebrated for giving most excellent
practical advice, and for having a clear and sound perception of
things and a highly judicious mind, I had some notion in my
heartache of begging him to accept my confidence. But, happening to
look up at Mrs. Pocket as she sat reading her book of dignities
after prescribing Bed as a sovereign remedy for baby, I thought -
Well - No, I wouldn't.



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