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- Great Expectations - 3/210 -


When he came to the low church wall, he got over it, like a man

whose legs were numbed and stiff, and then turned round to look for

me. When I saw him turning, I set my face towards home, and made

the best use of my legs. But presently I looked over my shoulder,

and saw him going on again towards the river, still hugging himself

in both arms, and picking his way with his sore feet among the

great stones dropped into the marshes here and there, for

stepping-places when the rains were heavy, or the tide was in.

The marshes were just a long black horizontal line then, as I

stopped to look after him; and the river was just another

horizontal line, not nearly so broad nor yet so black; and the sky

was just a row of long angry red lines and dense black lines

intermixed. On the edge of the river I could faintly make out the

only two black things in all the prospect that seemed to be

standing upright; one of these was the beacon by which the sailors

steered - like an unhooped cask upon a pole - an ugly thing when

you were near it; the other a gibbet, with some chains hanging to

it which had once held a pirate. The man was limping on towards

this latter, as if he were the pirate come to life, and come down,

and going back to hook himself up again. It gave me a terrible turn

when I thought so; and as I saw the cattle lifting their heads to

gaze after him, I wondered whether they thought so too. I looked

all round for the horrible young man, and could see no signs of

him. But, now I was frightened again, and ran home without

stopping.

Chapter 2

My sister, Mrs. Joe Gargery, was more than twenty years older than

I, and had established a great reputation with herself and the

neighbours because she had brought me up "by hand." Having at that

time to find out for myself what the expression meant, and knowing

her to have a hard and heavy hand, and to be much in the habit of

laying it upon her husband as well as upon me, I supposed that Joe

Gargery and I were both brought up by hand.

She was not a good-looking woman, my sister; and I had a general

impression that she must have made Joe Gargery marry her by hand.

Joe was a fair man, with curls of flaxen hair on each side of his

smooth face, and with eyes of such a very undecided blue that they

seemed to have somehow got mixed with their own whites. He was a

mild, good-natured, sweet-tempered, easy-going, foolish, dear

fellow - a sort of Hercules in strength, and also in weakness.

My sister, Mrs. Joe, with black hair and eyes, had such a prevailing

redness of skin that I sometimes used to wonder whether it was

possible she washed herself with a nutmeg-grater instead of soap.

She was tall and bony, and almost always wore a coarse apron,

fastened over her figure behind with two loops, and having a square

impregnable bib in front, that was stuck full of pins and needles.

She made it a powerful merit in herself, and a strong reproach

against Joe, that she wore this apron so much. Though I really see

no reason why she should have worn it at all: or why, if she did

wear it at all, she should not have taken it off, every day of her

life.

Joe's forge adjoined our house, which was a wooden house, as many

of the dwellings in our country were - most of them, at that time.

When I ran home from the churchyard, the forge was shut up, and Joe

was sitting alone in the kitchen. Joe and I being fellow-sufferers,

and having confidences as such, Joe imparted a confidence to me,

the moment I raised the latch of the door and peeped in at him

opposite to it, sitting in the chimney corner.

"Mrs. Joe has been out a dozen times, looking for you, Pip. And

she's out now, making it a baker's dozen."

"Is she?"

"Yes, Pip," said Joe; "and what's worse, she's got Tickler with

her."

At this dismal intelligence, I twisted the only button on my

waistcoat round and round, and looked in great depression at the

fire. Tickler was a wax-ended piece of cane, worn smooth by

collision with my tickled frame.

"She sot down," said Joe, "and she got up, and she made a grab at

Tickler, and she Ram-paged out. That's what she did," said Joe,

slowly clearing the fire between the lower bars with the poker, and

looking at it: "she Ram-paged out, Pip."

"Has she been gone long, Joe?" I always treated him as a larger

species of child, and as no more than my equal.

"Well," said Joe, glancing up at the Dutch clock, "she's been on

the Ram-page, this last spell, about five minutes, Pip. She's a-

coming! Get behind the door, old chap, and have the jack-towel

betwixt you."

I took the advice. My sister, Mrs. Joe, throwing the door wide open,

and finding an obstruction behind it, immediately divined the

cause, and applied Tickler to its further investigation. She

concluded by throwing me - I often served as a connubial missile -

at Joe, who, glad to get hold of me on any terms, passed me on into

the chimney and quietly fenced me up there with his great leg.


Great Expectations - 3/210

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