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- Great Expectations - 180/210 -


they were now inflexible with one another; Mr. Jaggers being highly

dictatorial, and Wemmick obstinately justifying himself whenever

there was the smallest point in abeyance for a moment. I had never

seen them on such ill terms; for generally they got on very well

indeed together.

But, they were both happily relieved by the opportune appearance of

Mike, the client with the fur cap and the habit of wiping his nose

on his sleeve, whom I had seen on the very first day of my

appearance within those walls. This individual, who, either in his

own person or in that of some member of his family, seemed to be

always in trouble (which in that place meant Newgate), called to

announce that his eldest daughter was taken up on suspicion of

shop-lifting. As he imparted this melancholy circumstance to

Wemmick, Mr. Jaggers standing magisterially before the fire and

taking no share in the proceedings, Mike's eye happened to twinkle

with a tear.

"What are you about?" demanded Wemmick, with the utmost

indignation. "What do you come snivelling here for?"

"I didn't go to do it, Mr. Wemmick."

"You did," said Wemmick. "How dare you? You're not in a fit state

to come here, if you can't come here without spluttering like a bad

pen. What do you mean by it?"

"A man can't help his feelings, Mr. Wemmick," pleaded Mike.

"His what?" demanded Wemmick, quite savagely. "Say that again!"

"Now, look here my man," said Mr. Jaggers, advancing a step, and

pointing to the door. "Get out of this office. I'll have no

feelings here. Get out."

"It serves you right," said Wemmick, "Get out."

So the unfortunate Mike very humbly withdrew, and Mr. Jaggers and

Wemmick appeared to have re-established their good understanding,

and went to work again with an air of refreshment upon them as if

they had just had lunch.

Chapter 52

From Little Britain, I went, with my cheque in my pocket, to Miss

Skiffins's brother, the accountant; and Miss Skiffins's brother,

the accountant, going straight to Clarriker's and bringing

Clarriker to me, I had the great satisfaction of concluding that

arrangement. It was the only good thing I had done, and the only

completed thing I had done, since I was first apprised of my great

expectations.

Clarriker informing me on that occasion that the affairs of the

House were steadily progressing, that he would now be able to

establish a small branch-house in the East which was much wanted

for the extension of the business, and that Herbert in his new

partnership capacity would go out and take charge of it, I found

that I must have prepared for a separation from my friend, even

though my own affairs had been more settled. And now indeed I felt

as if my last anchor were loosening its hold, and I should soon be

driving with the winds and waves.

But, there was recompense in the joy with which Herbert would come

home of a night and tell me of these changes, little imagining that

he told me no news, and would sketch airy pictures of himself

conducting Clara Barley to the land of the Arabian Nights, and of

me going out to join them (with a caravan of camels, I believe),

and of our all going up the Nile and seeing wonders. Without being

sanguine as to my own part in these bright plans, I felt that

Herbert's way was clearing fast, and that old Bill Barley had but

to stick to his pepper and rum, and his daughter would soon be

happily provided for.

We had now got into the month of March. My left arm, though it

presented no bad symptoms, took in the natural course so long to

heal that I was still unable to get a coat on. My right arm was

tolerably restored; - disfigured, but fairly serviceable.

On a Monday morning, when Herbert and I were at breakfast, I

received the following letter from Wemmick by the post.

"Walworth. Burn this as soon as read. Early in the week, or say

Wednesday, you might do what you know of, if you felt disposed to

try it. Now burn."

When I had shown this to Herbert and had put it in the fire - but

not before we had both got it by heart - we considered what to do.

For, of course my being disabled could now be no longer kept out of

view.

"I have thought it over, again and again," said Herbert, "and I

think I know a better course than taking a Thames waterman. Take

Startop. A good fellow, a skilled hand, fond of us, and

enthusiastic and honourable."

I had thought of him, more than once.

"But how much would you tell him, Herbert?"


Great Expectations - 180/210

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