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- Great Expectations - 80/210 -


accumulative capital from such a source of income.

"But the thing is," said Herbert Pocket, "that you look about you.

That's the grand thing. You are in a counting-house, you know, and

you look about you."

It struck me as a singular implication that you couldn't be out of

a counting-house, you know, and look about you; but I silently

deferred to his experience.

"Then the time comes," said Herbert, "when you see your opening.

And you go in, and you swoop upon it and you make your capital, and

then there you are! When you have once made your capital, you have

nothing to do but employ it."

This was very like his way of conducting that encounter in the

garden; very like. His manner of bearing his poverty, too, exactly

corresponded to his manner of bearing that defeat. It seemed to me

that he took all blows and buffets now, with just the same air as

he had taken mine then. It was evident that he had nothing around

him but the simplest necessaries, for everything that I remarked

upon turned out to have been sent in on my account from the

coffee-house or somewhere else.

Yet, having already made his fortune in his own mind, he was so

unassuming with it that I felt quite grateful to him for not being

puffed up. It was a pleasant addition to his naturally pleasant

ways, and we got on famously. In the evening we went out for a walk

in the streets, and went half-price to the Theatre; and next day we

went to church at Westminster Abbey, and in the afternoon we walked

in the Parks; and I wondered who shod all the horses there, and

wished Joe did.

On a moderate computation, it was many months, that Sunday, since I

had left Joe and Biddy. The space interposed between myself and

them, partook of that expansion, and our marshes were any distance

off. That I could have been at our old church in my old

church-going clothes, on the very last Sunday that ever was, seemed

a combination of impossibilities, geographical and social, solar

and lunar. Yet in the London streets, so crowded with people and so

brilliantly lighted in the dusk of evening, there were depressing

hints of reproaches for that I had put the poor old kitchen at home

so far away; and in the dead of night, the footsteps of some

incapable impostor of a porter mooning about Barnard's Inn, under

pretence of watching it, fell hollow on my heart.

On the Monday morning at a quarter before nine, Herbert went to the

counting-house to report himself - to look about him, too, I

suppose - and I bore him company. He was to come away in an hour or

two to attend me to Hammersmith, and I was to wait about for him.

It appeared to me that the eggs from which young Insurers were

hatched, were incubated in dust and heat, like the eggs of

ostriches, judging from the places to which those incipient giants

repaired on a Monday morning. Nor did the counting-house where

Herbert assisted, show in my eyes as at all a good Observatory;

being a back second floor up a yard, of a grimy presence in all

particulars, and with a look into another back second floor, rather

than a look out.

I waited about until it was noon, and I went upon 'Change, and I

saw fluey men sitting there under the bills about shipping, whom I

took to be great merchants, though I couldn't understand why they

should all be out of spirits. When Herbert came, we went and had

lunch at a celebrated house which I then quite venerated, but now

believe to have been the most abject superstition in Europe, and

where I could not help noticing, even then, that there was much

more gravy on the tablecloths and knives and waiters' clothes, than

in the steaks. This collation disposed of at a moderate price

(considering the grease: which was not charged for), we went back

to Barnard's Inn and got my little portmanteau, and then took coach

for Hammersmith. We arrived there at two or three o'clock in the

afternoon, and had very little way to walk to Mr. Pocket's house.

Lifting the latch of a gate, we passed direct into a little garden

overlooking the river, where Mr. Pocket's children were playing

about. And unless I deceive myself on a point where my interests or

prepossessions are certainly not concerned, I saw that Mr. and Mrs.

Pocket's children were not growing up or being brought up, but were

tumbling up.

Mrs. Pocket was sitting on a garden chair under a tree, reading,

with her legs upon another garden chair; and Mrs. Pocket's two

nursemaids were looking about them while the children played.

"Mamma," said Herbert, "this is young Mr. Pip." Upon which Mrs.

Pocket received me with an appearance of amiable dignity.

"Master Alick and Miss Jane," cried one of the nurses to two of the

children, "if you go a-bouncing up against them bushes you'll fall

over into the river and be drownded, and what'll your pa say then?"

At the same time this nurse picked up Mrs. Pocket's handkerchief,

and said, "If that don't make six times you've dropped it, Mum!"

Upon which Mrs. Pocket laughed and said, "Thank you, Flopson," and

settling herself in one chair only, resumed her book. Her

countenance immediately assumed a knitted and intent expression as

if she had been reading for a week, but before she could have read

half a dozen lines, she fixed her eyes upon me, and said, "I hope

your mamma is quite well?" This unexpected inquiry put me into such

a difficulty that I began saying in the absurdest way that if there

had been any such person I had no doubt she would have been quite

well and would have been very much obliged and would have sent her


Great Expectations - 80/210

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