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- Great Expectations - 100/210 -


artificer in iron of this neighbourhood (what a theme, by the way,

for the magic pen of our as yet not universally acknowledged

townsman TOOBY, the poet of our columns!) that the youth's earliest

patron, companion, and friend, was a highly-respected individual

not entirely unconnected with the corn and seed trade, and whose

eminently convenient and commodious business premises are situate

within a hundred miles of the High-street. It is not wholly

irrespective of our personal feelings that we record HIM as the

Mentor of our young Telemachus, for it is good to know that our

town produced the founder of the latter's fortunes. Does the

thoughtcontracted brow of the local Sage or the lustrous eye of

local Beauty inquire whose fortunes? We believe that Quintin Matsys

was the BLACKSMITH of Antwerp. VERB. SAP.

I entertain a conviction, based upon large experience, that if in

the days of my prosperity I had gone to the North Pole, I should

have met somebody there, wandering Esquimaux or civilized man, who

would have told me that Pumblechook was my earliest patron and the

founder of my fortunes.

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


Great Expectations - 100/210

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