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- Great Expectations - 140/210 -


"To sleep?" said I.

"Yes. And to sleep long and sound," he answered; "for I've been

sea-tossed and sea-washed, months and months."

"My friend and companion," said I, rising from the sofa, "is

absent; you must have his room."

"He won't come back to-morrow; will he?"

"No," said I, answering almost mechanically, in spite of my utmost

efforts; "not to-morrow."

"Because, look'ee here, dear boy," he said, dropping his voice, and

laying a long finger on my breast in an impressive manner, "caution

is necessary."

"How do you mean? Caution?"

"By G - , it's Death!"

"What's death?"

"I was sent for life. It's death to come back. There's been

overmuch coming back of late years, and I should of a certainty be

hanged if took."

Nothing was needed but this; the wretched man, after loading

wretched me with his gold and silver chains for years, had risked

his life to come to me, and I held it there in my keeping! If I had

loved him instead of abhorring him; if I had been attracted to him

by the strongest admiration and affection, instead of shrinking

from him with the strongest repugnance; it could have been no

worse. On the contrary, it would have been better, for his

preservation would then have naturally and tenderly addressed my

heart.

My first care was to close the shutters, so that no light might be

seen from without, and then to close and make fast the doors. While

I did so, he stood at the table drinking rum and eating biscuit;

and when I saw him thus engaged, I saw my convict on the marshes at

his meal again. It almost seemed to me as if he must stoop down

presently, to file at his leg.

When I had gone into Herbert's room, and had shut off any other

communication between it and the staircase than through the room in

which our conversation had been held, I asked him if he would go to

bed? He said yes, but asked me for some of my "gentleman's linen"

to put on in the morning. I brought it out, and laid it ready for

him, and my blood again ran cold when he again took me by both

hands to give me good night.

I got away from him, without knowing how I did it, and mended the

fire in the room where we had been together, and sat down by it,

afraid to go to bed. For an hour or more, I remained too stunned to

think; and it was not until I began to think, that I began fully to

know how wrecked I was, and how the ship in which I had sailed was

gone to pieces.

Miss Havisham's intentions towards me, all a mere dream; Estella

not designed for me; I only suffered in Satis House as a

convenience, a sting for the greedy relations, a model with a

mechanical heart to practise on when no other practice was at hand;

those were the first smarts I had. But, sharpest and deepest pain

of all - it was for the convict, guilty of I knew not what crimes,

and liable to be taken out of those rooms where I sat thinking, and

hanged at the Old Bailey door, that I had deserted Joe.

I would not have gone back to Joe now, I would not have gone back

to Biddy now, for any consideration: simply, I suppose, because my

sense of my own worthless conduct to them was greater than every

consideration. No wisdom on earth could have given me the comfort

that I should have derived from their simplicity and fidelity; but

I could never, never, undo what I had done.

In every rage of wind and rush of rain, I heard pursuers. Twice, I

could have sworn there was a knocking and whispering at the outer

door. With these fears upon me, I began either to imagine or recall

that I had had mysterious warnings of this man's approach. That,

for weeks gone by, I had passed faces in the streets which I had

thought like his. That, these likenesses had grown more numerous,

as he, coming over the sea, had drawn nearer. That, his wicked

spirit had somehow sent these messengers to mine, and that now on

this stormy night he was as good as his word, and with me.

Crowding up with these reflections came the reflection that I had

seen him with my childish eyes to be a desperately violent man;

that I had heard that other convict reiterate that he had tried to

murder him; that I had seen him down in the ditch tearing and

fighting like a wild beast. Out of such remembrances I brought into

the light of the fire, a half-formed terror that it might not be

safe to be shut up there with him in the dead of the wild solitary

night. This dilated until it filled the room, and impelled me to

take a candle and go in and look at my dreadful burden.

He had rolled a handkerchief round his head, and his face was set

and lowering in his sleep. But he was asleep, and quietly too,

though he had a pistol lying on the pillow. Assured of this, I

softly removed the key to the outside of his door, and turned it on


Great Expectations - 140/210

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