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- Great Expectations - 160/210 -


a good many people go, not always in gratification of their own

inclinations, and not quite irrespective of the government

expense--"

In watching his face, I made quite a firework of the Aged's

sausage, and greatly discomposed both my own attention and

Wemmick's; for which I apologized.

" - by disappearing from such place, and being no more heard of

thereabouts. From which," said Wemmick, "conjectures had been

raised and theories formed. I also heard that you at your chambers

in Garden Court, Temple, had been watched, and might be watched

again."

"By whom?" said I.

"I wouldn't go into that," said Wemmick, evasively, "it might clash

with official responsibilities. I heard it, as I have in my time

heard other curious things in the same place. I don't tell it you

on information received. I heard it."

He took the toasting-fork and sausage from me as he spoke, and set

forth the Aged's breakfast neatly on a little tray. Previous to

placing it before him, he went into the Aged's room with a clean

white cloth, and tied the same under the old gentleman's chin, and

propped him up, and put his nightcap on one side, and gave him

quite a rakish air. Then, he placed his breakfast before him with

great care, and said, "All right, ain't you, Aged P.?" To which the

cheerful Aged replied, "All right, John, my boy, all right!" As

there seemed to be a tacit understanding that the Aged was not in a

presentable state, and was therefore to be considered invisible, I

made a pretence of being in complete ignorance of these

proceedings.

"This watching of me at my chambers (which I have once had reason

to suspect)," I said to Wemmick when he came back, "is inseparable

from the person to whom you have adverted; is it?"

Wemmick looked very serious. "I couldn't undertake to say that, of

my own knowledge. I mean, I couldn't undertake to say it was at

first. But it either is, or it will be, or it's in great danger of

being."

As I saw that he was restrained by fealty to Little Britain from

saying as much as he could, and as I knew with thankfulness to him

how far out of his way he went to say what he did, I could not

press him. But I told him, after a little meditation over the fire,

that I would like to ask him a question, subject to his answering

or not answering, as he deemed right, and sure that his course

would be right. He paused in his breakfast, and crossing his arms,

and pinching his shirt-sleeves (his notion of indoor comfort was to

sit without any coat), he nodded to me once, to put my question.

"You have heard of a man of bad character, whose true name is

Compeyson?"

He answered with one other nod.

"Is he living?"

One other nod.

"Is he in London?"

He gave me one other nod, compressed the post-office exceedingly,

gave me one last nod, and went on with his breakfast.

"Now," said Wemmick, "questioning being over;" which he emphasized

and repeated for my guidance; "I come to what I did, after hearing

what I heard. I went to Garden Court to find you; not finding you,

I went to Clarriker's to find Mr. Herbert."

"And him you found?" said I, with great anxiety.

"And him I found. Without mentioning any names or going into any

details, I gave him to understand that if he was aware of anybody -

Tom, Jack, or Richard - being about the chambers, or about the

immediate neighbourhood, he had better get Tom, Jack, or Richard,

out of the way while you were out of the way."

"He would be greatly puzzled what to do?"

"He was puzzled what to do; not the less, because I gave him my

opinion that it was not safe to try to get Tom, Jack, or Richard,

too far out of the way at present. Mr. Pip, I'll tell you something.

Under existing circumstances there is no place like a great city

when you are once in it. Don't break cover too soon. Lie close.

Wait till things slacken, before you try the open, even for foreign

air."

I thanked him for his valuable advice, and asked him what Herbert

had done?

"Mr. Herbert," said Wemmick, "after being all of a heap for half an

hour, struck out a plan. He mentioned to me as a secret, that he is

courting a young lady who has, as no doubt you are aware, a

bedridden Pa. Which Pa, having been in the Purser line of life,

lies a-bed in a bow-window where he can see the ships sail up and

down the river. You are acquainted with the young lady, most

probably?"


Great Expectations - 160/210

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