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- Great Expectations - 50/210 -


were the last stages on her road to frenzy. Being by this time a

perfect Fury and a complete success, she made a dash at the door,

which I had fortunately locked.

What could the wretched Joe do now, after his disregarded

parenthetical interruptions, but stand up to his journeyman, and

ask him what he meant by interfering betwixt himself and Mrs. Joe;

and further whether he was man enough to come on? Old Orlick felt

that the situation admitted of nothing less than coming on, and was

on his defence straightway; so, without so much as pulling off

their singed and burnt aprons, they went at one another, like two

giants. But, if any man in that neighbourhood could stand up long

against Joe, I never saw the man. Orlick, as if he had been of no

more account than the pale young gentleman, was very soon among the

coal-dust, and in no hurry to come out of it. Then, Joe unlocked

the door and picked up my sister, who had dropped insensible at the

window (but who had seen the fight first, I think), and who was

carried into the house and laid down, and who was recommended to

revive, and would do nothing but struggle and clench her hands in

Joe's hair. Then, came that singular calm and silence which succeed

all uproars; and then, with the vague sensation which I have always

connected with such a lull - namely, that it was Sunday, and

somebody was dead - I went up-stairs to dress myself.

When I came down again, I found Joe and Orlick sweeping up, without

any other traces of discomposure than a slit in one of Orlick's

nostrils, which was neither expressive nor ornamental. A pot of

beer had appeared from the Jolly Bargemen, and they were sharing it

by turns in a peaceable manner. The lull had a sedative and

philosophical influence on Joe, who followed me out into the road

to say, as a parting observation that might do me good, "On the

Rampage, Pip, and off the Rampage, Pip - such is Life!"

With what absurd emotions (for, we think the feelings that are very

serious in a man quite comical in a boy) I found myself again going

to Miss Havisham's, matters little here. Nor, how I passed and

repassed the gate many times before I could make up my mind to

ring. Nor, how I debated whether I should go away without ringing;

nor, how I should undoubtedly have gone, if my time had been my

own, to come back.

Miss Sarah Pocket came to the gate. No Estella.

"How, then? You here again?" said Miss Pocket. "What do you want?"

When I said that I only came to see how Miss Havisham was, Sarah

evidently deliberated whether or no she should send me about my

business. But, unwilling to hazard the responsibility, she let me

in, and presently brought the sharp message that I was to "come

up."

Everything was unchanged, and Miss Havisham was alone.

"Well?" said she, fixing her eyes upon me. "I hope you want

nothing? You'll get nothing."

"No, indeed, Miss Havisham. I only wanted you to know that I am

doing very well in my apprenticeship, and am always much obliged to

you."

"There, there!" with the old restless fingers. "Come now and then;

come on your birthday. - Ay!" she cried suddenly, turning herself

and her chair towards me, "You are looking round for Estella? Hey?"

I had been looking round - in fact, for Estella - and I stammered

that I hoped she was well.

"Abroad," said Miss Havisham; "educating for a lady; far out of

reach; prettier than ever; admired by all who see her. Do you feel

that you have lost her?"

There was such a malignant enjoyment in her utterance of the last

words, and she broke into such a disagreeable laugh, that I was at

a loss what to say. She spared me the trouble of considering, by

dismissing me. When the gate was closed upon me by Sarah of the

walnut-shell countenance, I felt more than ever dissatisfied with

my home and with my trade and with everything; and that was all I

took by that motion.

As I was loitering along the High-street, looking in disconsolately

at the shop windows, and thinking what I would buy if I were a

gentleman, who should come out of the bookshop but Mr. Wopsle. Mr

Wopsle had in his hand the affecting tragedy of George Barnwell, in

which he had that moment invested sixpence, with the view of

heaping every word of it on the head of Pumblechook, with whom he

was going to drink tea. No sooner did he see me, than he appeared

to consider that a special Providence had put a 'prentice in his

way to be read at; and he laid hold of me, and insisted on my

accompanying him to the Pumblechookian parlour. As I knew it would

be miserable at home, and as the nights were dark and the way was

dreary, and almost any companionship on the road was better than

none, I made no great resistance; consequently, we turned into

Pumblechook's just as the street and the shops were lighting up.

As I never assisted at any other representation of George Barnwell,

I don't know how long it may usually take; but I know very well

that it took until half-past nine o' clock that night, and that

when Mr. Wopsle got into Newgate, I thought he never would go to the

scaffold, he became so much slower than at any former period of his

disgraceful career. I thought it a little too much that he should


Great Expectations - 50/210

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