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- Great Expectations - 30/210 -


only as regarded him - not in the least as regarded the other two.

Towards Joe, and Joe only, I considered myself a young monster,

while they sat debating what results would come to me from Miss

Havisham's acquaintance and favour. They had no doubt that Miss

Havisham would "do something" for me; their doubts related to the

form that something would take. My sister stood out for "property."

Mr. Pumblechook was in favour of a handsome premium for binding me

apprentice to some genteel trade - say, the corn and seed trade,

for instance. Joe fell into the deepest disgrace with both, for

offering the bright suggestion that I might only be presented with

one of the dogs who had fought for the veal-cutlets. "If a fool's

head can't express better opinions than that," said my sister, "and

you have got any work to do, you had better go and do it." So he

went.

After Mr. Pumblechook had driven off, and when my sister was washing

up, I stole into the forge to Joe, and remained by him until he had

done for the night. Then I said, "Before the fire goes out, Joe, I

should like to tell you something."

"Should you, Pip?" said Joe, drawing his shoeing-stool near the

forge. "Then tell us. What is it, Pip?"

"Joe," said I, taking hold of his rolled-up shirt sleeve, and

twisting it between my finger and thumb, "you remember all that

about Miss Havisham's?"

"Remember?" said Joe. "I believe you! Wonderful!"

"It's a terrible thing, Joe; it ain't true."

"What are you telling of, Pip?" cried Joe, falling back in the

greatest amazement. "You don't mean to say it's--"

"Yes I do; it's lies, Joe."

"But not all of it? Why sure you don't mean to say, Pip, that there

was no black welwet coach?" For, I stood shaking my head. "But at

least there was dogs, Pip? Come, Pip," said Joe, persuasively, "if

there warn't no weal-cutlets, at least there was dogs?"

"No, Joe."

"A dog?" said Joe. "A puppy? Come?"

"No, Joe, there was nothing at all of the kind."

As I fixed my eyes hopelessly on Joe, Joe contemplated me in

dismay. "Pip, old chap! This won't do, old fellow! I say! Where do

you expect to go to?"

"It's terrible, Joe; an't it?"

"Terrible?" cried Joe. "Awful! What possessed you?"

"I don't know what possessed me, Joe," I replied, letting his shirt

sleeve go, and sitting down in the ashes at his feet, hanging my

head; "but I wish you hadn't taught me to call Knaves at cards,

Jacks; and I wish my boots weren't so thick nor my hands so

coarse."

And then I told Joe that I felt very miserable, and that I hadn't

been able to explain myself to Mrs. Joe and Pumblechook who were so

rude to me, and that there had been a beautiful young lady at Miss

Havisham's who was dreadfully proud, and that she had said I was

common, and that I knew I was common, and that I wished I was not

common, and that the lies had come of it somehow, though I didn't

know how.

This was a case of metaphysics, at least as difficult for Joe to

deal with, as for me. But Joe took the case altogether out of the

region of metaphysics, and by that means vanquished it.

"There's one thing you may be sure of, Pip," said Joe, after some

rumination, "namely, that lies is lies. Howsever they come, they

didn't ought to come, and they come from the father of lies, and

work round to the same. Don't you tell no more of 'em, Pip. That

ain't the way to get out of being common, old chap. And as to being

common, I don't make it out at all clear. You are oncommon in some

things. You're oncommon small. Likewise you're a oncommon scholar."

"No, I am ignorant and backward, Joe."

"Why, see what a letter you wrote last night! Wrote in print even!

I've seen letters - Ah! and from gentlefolks! - that I'll swear

weren't wrote in print," said Joe.

"I have learnt next to nothing, Joe. You think much of me. It's

only that."

"Well, Pip," said Joe, "be it so or be it son't, you must be a

common scholar afore you can be a oncommon one, I should hope! The

king upon his throne, with his crown upon his 'ed, can't sit and

write his acts of Parliament in print, without having begun, when

he were a unpromoted Prince, with the alphabet - Ah!" added Joe,

with a shake of the head that was full of meaning, "and begun at A

too, and worked his way to Z. And I know what that is to do, though

I can't say I've exactly done it."

There was some hope in this piece of wisdom, and it rather


Great Expectations - 30/210

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