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Charles Dickens >> Great Expectations (page 23)


I selected the materials for a suit, with the assistance of Mr.Trabb's judgment, and re-entered the parlour to be measured. For,although Mr. Trabb had my measure already, and had previously beenquite contented with it, he said apologetically that it "wouldn'tdo under existing circumstances, sir - wouldn't do at all." So, Mr.Trabb measured and calculated me, in the parlour, as if I were anestate and he the finest species of surveyor, and gave himself sucha world of trouble that I felt that no suit of clothes couldpossibly remunerate him for his pains. When he had at last done andhad appointed to send the articles to Mr. Pumblechook's on theThursday evening, he said, with his hand upon the parlour lock, "Iknow, sir, that London gentlemen cannot be expected to patronizelocal work, as a rule; but if you would give me a turn now and thenin the quality of a townsman, I should greatly esteem it. Goodmorning, sir, much obliged. - Door!"

The last word was flung at the boy, who had not the least notionwhat it meant. But I saw him collapse as his master rubbed me outwith his hands, and my first decided experience of the stupendouspower of money, was, that it had morally laid upon his back,Trabb's boy.

After this memorable event, I went to the hatter's, and thebootmaker's, and the hosier's, and felt rather like MotherHubbard's dog whose outfit required the services of so many trades.I also went to the coach-office and took my place for seven o'clockon Saturday morning. It was not necessary to explain everywherethat I had come into a handsome property; but whenever I saidanything to that effect, it followed that the officiating tradesmanceased to have his attention diverted through the window by theHigh-street, and concentrated his mind upon me. When I had orderedeverything I wanted, I directed my steps towards Pumblechook's,and, as I approached that gentleman's place of business, I saw himstanding at his door.

He was waiting for me with great impatience. He had been out earlyin the chaise-cart, and had called at the forge and heard thenews. He had prepared a collation for me in the Barnwell parlour,and he too ordered his shopman to "come out of the gangway" as mysacred person passed.

"My dear friend," said Mr. Pumblechook, taking me by both hands,when he and I and the collation were alone, "I give you joy of yourgood fortune. Well deserved, well deserved!"

This was coming to the point, and I thought it a sensible way ofexpressing himself.

"To think," said Mr. Pumblechook, after snorting admiration at mefor some moments, "that I should have been the humble instrument ofleading up to this, is a proud reward."

I begged Mr. Pumblechook to remember that nothing was to be eversaid or hinted, on that point.

"My dear young friend," said Mr. Pumblechook, "if you will allow meto call you so--"

I murmured "Certainly," and Mr. Pumblechook took me by both handsagain, and communicated a movement to his waistcoat, which had anemotional appearance, though it was rather low down, "My dear youngfriend, rely upon my doing my little all in your absence, bykeeping the fact before the mind of Joseph. - Joseph!" said Mr.Pumblechook, in the way of a compassionate adjuration. "Joseph!!Joseph!!!" Thereupon he shook his head and tapped it, expressinghis sense of deficiency in Joseph.

"But my dear young friend," said Mr. Pumblechook, "you must behungry, you must be exhausted. Be seated. Here is a chicken hadround from the Boar, here is a tongue had round from the Boar,here's one or two little things had round from the Boar, that Ihope you may not despise. But do I," said Mr. Pumblechook, gettingup again the moment after he had sat down, "see afore me, him as Iever sported with in his times of happy infancy? And may I - mayI - ?"

This May I, meant might he shake hands? I consented, and he wasfervent, and then sat down again.

"Here is wine," said Mr. Pumblechook. "Let us drink, Thanks toFortune, and may she ever pick out her favourites with equaljudgment! And yet I cannot," said Mr. Pumblechook, getting up again,"see afore me One - and likewise drink to One - without againexpressing - May I - may I - ?"

I said he might, and he shook hands with me again, and emptied hisglass and turned it upside down. I did the same; and if I hadturned myself upside down before drinking, the wine could not havegone more direct to my head.

Mr. Pumblechook helped me to the liver wing, and to the best sliceof tongue (none of those out-of-the-way No Thoroughfares of Porknow), and took, comparatively speaking, no care of himself at all."Ah! poultry, poultry! You little thought," said Mr. Pumblechook,apostrophizing the fowl in the dish, "when you was a youngfledgling, what was in store for you. You little thought you was tobe refreshment beneath this humble roof for one as - Call it aweakness, if you will," said Mr. Pumblechook, getting up again, "butmay I? may I - ?"

It began to be unnecessary to repeat the form of saying he might,so he did it at once. How he ever did it so often without woundinghimself with my knife, I don't know.

"And your sister," he resumed, after a little steady eating, "whichhad the honour of bringing you up by hand! It's a sad picter, toreflect that she's no longer equal to fully understanding thehonour. May--"

I saw he was about to come at me again, and I stopped him.

"We'll drink her health," said I.

"Ah!" cried Mr. Pumblechook, leaning back in his chair, quiteflaccid with admiration, "that's the way you know 'em, sir!" (Idon't know who Sir was, but he certainly was not I, and there wasno third person present); "that's the way you know the nobleminded,sir! Ever forgiving and ever affable. It might," said the servilePumblechook, putting down his untasted glass in a hurry and gettingup again, "to a common person, have the appearance of repeating -but may I - ?"

When he had done it, he resumed his seat and drank to my sister."Let us never be blind," said Mr. Pumblechook, "to her faults oftemper, but it is to be hoped she meant well."

At about this time, I began to observe that he was getting flushedin the face; as to myself, I felt all face, steeped in wine andsmarting.

I mentioned to Mr. Pumblechook that I wished to have my new clothessent to his house, and he was ecstatic on my so distinguishing him.I mentioned my reason for desiring to avoid observation in thevillage, and he lauded it to the skies. There was nobody buthimself, he intimated, worthy of my confidence, and - in short,might he? Then he asked me tenderly if I remembered our boyishgames at sums, and how we had gone together to have me boundapprentice, and, in effect, how he had ever been my favourite fancyand my chosen friend? If I had taken ten times as many glasses ofwine as I had, I should have known that he never had stood in thatrelation towards me, and should in my heart of hearts haverepudiated the idea. Yet for all that, I remember feeling convincedthat I had been much mistaken in him, and that he was a sensiblepractical good-hearted prime fellow.

By degrees he fell to reposing such great confidence in me, as toask my advice in reference to his own affairs. He mentioned thatthere was an opportunity for a great amalgamation and monopoly ofthe corn and seed trade on those premises, if enlarged, such as hadnever occurred before in that, or any other neighbourhood. Whatalone was wanting to the realization of a vast fortune, heconsidered to be More Capital. Those were the two little words,more capital. Now it appeared to him (Pumblechook) that if thatcapital were got into the business, through a sleeping partner, sir- which sleeping partner would have nothing to do but walk in, byself or deputy, whenever he pleased, and examine the books - andwalk in twice a year and take his profits away in his pocket, tothe tune of fifty per cent. - it appeared to him that that might bean opening for a young gentleman of spirit combined with property,which would be worthy of his attention. But what did I think? Hehad great confidence in my opinion, and what did I think? I gave itas my opinion. "Wait a bit!" The united vastness and distinctnessof this view so struck him, that he no longer asked if he mightshake hands with me, but said he really must - and did.

We drank all the wine, and Mr. Pumblechook pledged himself over andover again to keep Joseph up to the mark (I don't know what mark),and to render me efficient and constant service (I don't know whatservice). He also made known to me for the first time in my life,and certainly after having kept his secret wonderfully well, thathe had always said of me, "That boy is no common boy, and mark me,his fortun' will be no common fortun'." He said with a tearfulsmile that it was a singular thing to think of now, and I said sotoo. Finally, I went out into the air, with a dim perception thatthere was something unwonted in the conduct of the sunshine, andfound that I had slumberously got to the turn-pike without havingtaken any account of the road.

There, I was roused by Mr. Pumblechook's hailing me. He was a longway down the sunny street, and was making expressive gestures forme to stop. I stopped, and he came up breathless.

"No, my dear friend," said he, when he had recovered wind forspeech. "Not if I can help it. This occasion shall not entirelypass without that affability on your part. - May I, as an oldfriend and well-wisher? May I?"

We shook hands for the hundredth time at least, and he ordered ayoung carter out of my way with the greatest indignation. Then, heblessed me and stood waving his hand to me until I had passed thecrook in the road; and then I turned into a field and had a longnap under a hedge before I pursued my way home.

I had scant luggage to take with me to London, for little of thelittle I possessed was adapted to my new station. But, I beganpacking that same afternoon, and wildly packed up things that Iknew I should want next morning, in a fiction that there was not amoment to be lost.

So, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, passed; and on Friday morningI went to Mr. Pumblechook's, to put on my new clothes and pay myvisit to Miss Havisham. Mr. Pumblechook's own room was given up tome to dress in, and was decorated with clean towels expressly forthe event. My clothes were rather a disappointment, of course.Probably every new and eagerly expected garment ever put on sinceclothes came in, fell a trifle short of the wearer's expectation.But after I had had my new suit on, some half an hour, and had gonethrough an immensity of posturing with Mr. Pumblechook's verylimited dressing-glass, in the futile endeavour to see my legs, itseemed to fit me better. It being market morning at a neighbouringtown some ten miles off, Mr. Pumblechook was not at home. I had nottold him exactly when I meant to leave, and was not likely to shakehands with him again before departing. This was all as it shouldbe, and I went out in my new array: fearfully ashamed of having topass the shopman, and suspicious after all that I was at a personaldisadvantage, something like Joe's in his Sunday suit.

I went circuitously to Miss Havisham's by all the back ways, andrang at the bell constrainedly, on account of the stiff longfingers of my gloves. Sarah Pocket came to the gate, and positivelyreeled back when she saw me so changed; her walnut-shellcountenance likewise, turned from brown to green and yellow.

"You?" said she. "You, good gracious! What do you want?"

"I am going to London, Miss Pocket," said I, "and want to saygood-bye to Miss Havisham."

I was not expected, for she left me locked in the yard, while shewent to ask if I were to be admitted. After a very short delay, shereturned and took me up, staring at me all the way.

Miss Havisham was taking exercise in the room with the long spreadtable, leaning on her crutch stick. The room was lighted as ofyore, and at the sound of our entrance, she stopped and turned. Shewas then just abreast of the rotted bride-cake.

"Don't go, Sarah," she said. "Well, Pip?"

"I start for London, Miss Havisham, to-morrow," I was exceedinglycareful what I said, "and I thought you would kindly not mind mytaking leave of you."

"This is a gay figure, Pip," said she, making her crutch stick playround me, as if she, the fairy godmother who had changed me, werebestowing the finishing gift.

"I have come into such good fortune since I saw you last, MissHavisham," I murmured. "And I am so grateful for it, MissHavisham!"

"Ay, ay!" said she, looking at the discomfited and envious Sarah,with delight. "I have seen Mr. Jaggers. I have heard about it, Pip.So you go to-morrow?"

"Yes, Miss Havisham."

"And you are adopted by a rich person?"

"Yes, Miss Havisham."

"Not named?"

"No, Miss Havisham."

"And Mr. Jaggers is made your guardian?"

"Yes, Miss Havisham."

She quite gloated on these questions and answers, so keen was herenjoyment of Sarah Pocket's jealous dismay. "Well!" she went on;"you have a promising career before you. Be good - deserve it - andabide by Mr. Jaggers's instructions." She looked at me, and lookedat Sarah, and Sarah's countenance wrung out of her watchful face acruel smile. "Good-bye, Pip! - you will always keep the name ofPip, you know."

"Yes, Miss Havisham."

"Good-bye, Pip!"

She stretched out her hand, and I went down on my knee and put itto my lips. I had not considered how I should take leave of her; itcame naturally to me at the moment, to do this. She looked at SarahPocket with triumph in her weird eyes, and so I left my fairygodmother, with both her hands on her crutch stick, standing in themidst of the dimly lighted room beside the rotten bridecake thatwas hidden in cobwebs.

Title: Great Expectations
Author: Charles Dickens
Viewed 91670 times

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