Thus, we walked through Wemmick's greenhouse, until he turned to meand said,
"Notice the man I shall shake hands with." I should havedone so, without the preparation,
as he had shaken hands with noone yet.
Almost as soon as he had spoken, a portly upright man (whom I cansee now, as
I write) in a well-worn olive-coloured frock-coat, witha peculiar pallor over-spreading
the red in his complexion, andeyes that went wandering about when he tried to fix
them, came upto a corner of the bars, and put his hand to his hat - which had agreasy
and fatty surface like cold broth - with a half-serious andhalf-jocose military
"Colonel, to you!" said Wemmick; "how are you, Colonel?"
"All right, Mr. Wemmick."
"Everything was done that could be done, but the evidence was toostrong for us,
"Yes, it was too strong, sir - but I don't care."
"No, no," said Wemmick, coolly, "you don't care." Then, turning tome, "Served
His Majesty this man. Was a soldier in the line andbought his discharge."
I said, "Indeed?" and the man's eyes looked at me, and then lookedover my head,
and then looked all round me, and then he drew hishand across his lips and laughed.
"I think I shall be out of this on Monday, sir," he said toWemmick.
"Perhaps," returned my friend, "but there's no knowing."
"I am glad to have the chance of bidding you good-bye, Mr. Wemmick,"said the
man, stretching out his hand between two bars.
"Thankye," said Wemmick, shaking hands with him. "Same to you,Colonel."
"If what I had upon me when taken, had been real, Mr. Wemmick," saidthe man,
unwilling to let his hand go, "I should have asked thefavour of your wearing another
ring - in acknowledgment of yourattentions."
"I'll accept the will for the deed," said Wemmick. "By-the-bye; youwere quite
a pigeon-fancier." The man looked up at the sky. "I amtold you had a remarkable
breed of tumblers. could you commissionany friend of yours to bring me a pair, of
you've no further usefor 'em?"
"It shall be done, sir?"
"All right," said Wemmick, "they shall be taken care of. Goodafternoon, Colonel.
Good-bye!" They shook hands again, and as wewalked away Wemmick said to me, "A Coiner,
a very good workman. TheRecorder's report is made to-day, and he is sure to be executed
onMonday. Still you see, as far as it goes, a pair of pigeons areportable property,
all the same." With that, he looked back, andnodded at this dead plant, and then
cast his eyes about him inwalking out of the yard, as if he were considering what
other potwould go best in its place.
As we came out of the prison through the lodge, I found that thegreat importance
of my guardian was appreciated by the turnkeys, noless than by those whom they held
in charge. "Well, Mr. Wemmick,"said the turnkey, who kept us between the two studded
and spikedlodge gates, and who carefully locked one before he unlocked theother,
"what's Mr. Jaggers going to do with that waterside murder?Is he going to make it
manslaughter, or what's he going to make ofit?"
"Why don't you ask him?" returned Wemmick.
"Oh yes, I dare say!" said the turnkey.
"Now, that's the way with them here. Mr. Pip," remarked Wemmick,turning to me
with his post-office elongated. "They don't mind whatthey ask of me, the subordinate;
but you'll never catch 'em askingany questions of my principal."
"Is this young gentleman one of the 'prentices or articled ones ofyour office?"
asked the turnkey, with a grin at Mr. Wemmick'shumour.
"There he goes again, you see!" cried Wemmick, "I told you so! Asksanother question
of the subordinate before his first is dry! Well,supposing Mr. Pip is one of them?"
"Why then," said the turnkey, grinning again, "he knows what Mr.Jaggers is."
"Yah!" cried Wemmick, suddenly hitting out at the turnkey in afacetious way,
"you're dumb as one of your own keys when you haveto do with my principal, you know
you are. Let us out, you old fox,or I'll get him to bring an action against you
The turnkey laughed, and gave us good day, and stood laughing at usover the spikes
of the wicket when we descended the steps into thestreet.
"Mind you, Mr. Pip," said Wemmick, gravely in my ear, as he took myarm to be
more confidential; "I don't know that Mr. Jaggers does abetter thing than the way
in which he keeps himself so high. He'salways so high. His constant height is of
a piece with his immenseabilities. That Colonel durst no more take leave of him,
than thatturnkey durst ask him his intentions respecting a case. Then,between his
height and them, he slips in his subordinate - don'tyou see? - and so he has 'em,
soul and body."
I was very much impressed, and not for the first time, by myguardian's subtlety.
To confess the truth, I very heartily wished,and not for the first time, that I
had had some other guardian ofminor abilities.
Mr. Wemmick and I parted at the office in Little Britain, wheresuppliants for
Mr. Jaggers's notice were lingering about as usual,and I returned to my watch in
the street of the coach-office, withsome three hours on hand. I consumed the whole
time in thinking howstrange it was that I should be encompassed by all this taint
ofprison and crime; that, in my childhood out on our lonely marsheson a winter evening
I should have first encountered it; that, itshould have reappeared on two occasions,
starting out like a stainthat was faded but not gone; that, it should in this new
waypervade my fortune and advancement. While my mind was thus engaged,I thought
of the beautiful young Estella, proud and refined, comingtowards me, and I thought
with absolute abhorrence of the contrastbetween the jail and her. I wished that
Wemmick had not met me, orthat I had not yielded to him and gone with him, so that,
of alldays in the year on this day, I might not have had Newgate in mybreath and
on my clothes. I beat the prison dust off my feet as Isauntered to and fro, and
I shook it out of my dress, and I exhaledits air from my lungs. So contaminated
did I feel, remembering whowas coming, that the coach came quickly after all, and
I was notyet free from the soiling consciousness of Mr. Wemmick'sconservatory, when
I saw her face at the coach window and her handwaving to me.
What was the nameless shadow which again in that one instant hadpassed?
In her furred travelling-dress, Estella seemed more delicatelybeautiful than
she had ever seemed yet, even in my eyes. Her mannerwas more winning than she had
cared to let it be to me before, andI thought I saw Miss Havisham's influence in
We stood in the Inn Yard while she pointed out her luggage to me,and when it
was all collected I remembered - having forgotteneverything but herself in the meanwhile
- that I knew nothing ofher destination
"I am going to Richmond," she told me. "Our lesson is, that thereare two Richmonds,
one in Surrey and one in Yorkshire, and that mineis the Surrey Richmond. The distance
is ten miles. I am to have acarriage, and you are to take me. This is my purse,
and you are topay my charges out of it. Oh, you must take the purse! We have nochoice,
you and I, but to obey our instructions. We are not free tofollow our own devices,
you and I."
As she looked at me in giving me the purse, I hoped there was aninner meaning
in her words. She said them slightingly, but not withdispleasure.
"A carriage will have to be sent for, Estella. Will you rest here alittle?"
"Yes, I am to rest here a little, and I am to drink some tea, andyou are to take
care of me the while."
She drew her arm through mine, as if it must be done, and Irequested a waiter
who had been staring at the coach like a man whohad never seen such a thing in his
life, to show us a privatesitting-room. Upon that, he pulled out a napkin, as if
it were amagic clue without which he couldn't find the way up-stairs, andled us
to the black hole of the establishment: fitted up with adiminishing mirror (quite
a superfluous article considering thehole's proportions), an anchovy sauce-cruet,
and somebody'spattens. On my objecting to this retreat, he took us into anotherroom
with a dinner-table for thirty, and in the grate a scorchedleaf of a copy-book under
a bushel of coal-dust. Having looked atthis extinct conflagration and shaken his
head, he took my order:which, proving to be merely "Some tea for the lady," sent
him outof the room in a very low state of mind.
I was, and I am, sensible that the air of this chamber, in itsstrong combination
of stable with soup-stock, might have led one toinfer that the coaching department
was not doing well, and that theenterprising proprietor was boiling down the horses
for therefreshment department. Yet the room was all in all to me, Estellabeing in
it. I thought that with her I could have been happy therefor life. (I was not at
all happy there at the time, observe, and Iknew it well.)
"Where are you going to, at Richmond?" I asked Estella.
"I am going to live," said she, "at a great expense, with a ladythere, who has
the power - or says she has - of taking me about,and introducing me, and showing
people to me and showing me topeople."
"I suppose you will be glad of variety and admiration?"
"Yes, I suppose so."
She answered so carelessly, that I said, "You speak of yourself asif you were
some one else."
"Where did you learn how I speak of others? Come, come," saidEstella, smiling
delightfully, "you must not expect me to go toschool to you; I must talk in my own
way. How do you thrive withMr. Pocket?"
"I live quite pleasantly there; at least--" It appeared to me thatI was losing
"At least?" repeated Estella.
"As pleasantly as I could anywhere, away from you."
"You silly boy," said Estella, quite composedly, "how can you talksuch nonsense?
Your friend Mr. Matthew, I believe, is superior tothe rest of his family?"
"Very superior indeed. He is nobody's enemy--"
"Don't add but his own," interposed Estella, "for I hate that classof man. But
he really is disinterested, and above small jealousyand spite, I have heard?"
"I am sure I have every reason to say so."
"You have not every reason to say so of the rest of his people,"said Estella,
nodding at me with an expression of face that was atonce grave and rallying, "for
they beset Miss Havisham with reportsand insinuations to your disadvantage. They
watch you, misrepresentyou, write letters about you (anonymous sometimes), and you
are thetorment and the occupation of their lives. You can scarcely realizeto yourself
the hatred those people feel for you."
"They do me no harm, I hope?"
Instead of answering, Estella burst out laughing. This was verysingular to me,
and I looked at her in considerable perplexity.When she left off - and she had not
laughed languidly, but withreal enjoyment - I said, in my diffident way with her:
"I hope I may suppose that you would not be amused if they did meany harm."
"No, no you may be sure of that," said Estella. "You may be certainthat I laugh
because they fail. Oh, those people with MissHavisham, and the tortures they undergo!"
She laughed again, andeven now when she had told me why, her laughter was very singularto
me, for I could not doubt its being genuine, and yet it seemedtoo much for the occasion.
I thought there must really be somethingmore here than I knew; she saw the thought
in my mind, and answeredit.
"It is not easy for even you." said Estella, "to know whatsatisfaction it gives
me to see those people thwarted, or what anenjoyable sense of the ridiculous I have
when they are maderidiculous. For you were not brought up in that strange house
froma mere baby. - I was. You had not your little wits sharpened bytheir intriguing
against you, suppressed and defenceless, under themask of sympathy and pity and
what not that is soft and soothing. -I had. You did not gradually open your round
childish eyes widerand wider to the discovery of that impostor of a woman whocalculates
her stores of peace of mind for when she wakes up in thenight. - I did."
It was no laughing matter with Estella now, nor was she summoningthese remembrances
from any shallow place. I would not have beenthe cause of that look of hers, for
all my expectations in a heap.
"Two things I can tell you," said Estella. "First, notwithstandingthe proverb
that constant dropping will wear away a stone, you mayset your mind at rest that
these people never will - never would,in hundred years - impair your ground with
Miss Havisham, in anyparticular, great or small. Second, I am beholden to you as
thecause of their being so busy and so mean in vain, and there is myhand upon it."
As she gave it me playfully - for her darker mood had been butmomentary - I held
it and put it to my lips. "You ridiculous boy,"said Estella, "will you never take
warning? Or do you kiss my handin the same spirit in which I once let you kiss my
"What spirit was that?" said I.
"I must think a moment A spirit of contempt for the fawners andplotters."
"If I say yes, may I kiss the cheek again?"
"You should have asked before you touched the hand. But, yes, ifyou like."
I leaned down, and her calm face was like a statue's. "Now," saidEstella, gliding
away the instant I touched her cheek, "you are totake care that I have some tea,
and you are to take me toRichmond."
Her reverting to this tone as if our association were forced uponus and we were
mere puppets, gave me pain; but everything in ourintercourse did give me pain. Whatever
her tone with me happened tobe, I could put no trust in it, and build no hope on
it; and yet Iwent on against trust and against hope. Why repeat it a thousandtimes?
So it always was.