It was not then, but when we had got to the cheese, that ourconversation turned
upon our rowing feats, and that Drummle wasrallied for coming up behind of a night
in that slow amphibious wayof his. Drummle upon this, informed our host that he
much preferredour room to our company, and that as to skill he was more than ourmaster,
and that as to strength he could scatter us like chaff. Bysome invisible agency,
my guardian wound him up to a pitch littleshort of ferocity about this trifle; and
he fell to baring andspanning his arm to show how muscular it was, and we all fell
tobaring and spanning our arms in a ridiculous manner.
Now, the housekeeper was at that time clearing the table; myguardian, taking
no heed of her, but with the side of his faceturned from her, was leaning back in
his chair biting the side ofhis forefinger and showing an interest in Drummle, that,
to me, wasquite inexplicable. Suddenly, he clapped his large hand on thehousekeeper's,
like a trap, as she stretched it across the table.So suddenly and smartly did he
do this, that we all stopped in ourfoolish contention.
"If you talk of strength," said Mr. Jaggers, "I'll show you a wrist.Molly, let
them see your wrist."
Her entrapped hand was on the table, but she had already put herother hand behind
her waist. "Master," she said, in a low voice,with her eyes attentively and entreatingly
fixed upon him. "Don't."
"I'll show you a wrist," repeated Mr. Jaggers, with an immovabledetermination
to show it. "Molly, let them see your wrist."
"Master," she again murmured. "Please!"
"Molly," said Mr. Jaggers, not looking at her, but obstinatelylooking at the
opposite side of the room, "let them see both yourwrists. Show them. Come!"
He took his hand from hers, and turned that wrist up on the table.She brought
her other hand from behind her, and held the two outside by side. The last wrist
was much disfigured - deeply scarredand scarred across and across. When she held
her hands out, shetook her eyes from Mr. Jaggers, and turned them watchfully on
everyone of the rest of us in succession.
"There's power here," said Mr. Jaggers, coolly tracing out thesinews with his
forefinger. "Very few men have the power of wristthat this woman has. It's remarkable
what mere force of grip thereis in these hands. I have had occasion to notice many
hands; but Inever saw stronger in that respect, man's or woman's, than these."
While he said these words in a leisurely critical style, shecontinued to look
at every one of us in regular succession as wesat. The moment he ceased, she looked
at him again. "That'll do,Molly," said Mr. Jaggers, giving her a slight nod; "you
have beenadmired, and can go." She withdrew her hands and went out of theroom, and
Mr. Jaggers, putting the decanters on from his dumbwaiter,filled his glass and passed
round the wine.
"At half-past nine, gentlemen," said he, "we must break up. Praymake the best
use of your time. I am glad to see you all. Mr.Drummle, I drink to you."
If his object in singling out Drummle were to bring him out stillmore, it perfectly
succeeded. In a sulky triumph, Drummle showedhis morose depreciation of the rest
of us, in a more and moreoffensive degree until he became downright intolerable.
Through allhis stages, Mr. Jaggers followed him with the same strange interest.He
actually seemed to serve as a zest to Mr. Jaggers's wine.
In our boyish want of discretion I dare say we took too much todrink, and I know
we talked too much. we became particularly hotupon some boorish sneer of Drummle's,
to the effect that we weretoo free with our money. It led to my remarking, with
more zealthan discretion, that it came with a bad grace from him, to whomStartop
had lent money in my presence but a week or so before.
"Well," retorted Drummle; "he'll be paid."
"I don't mean to imply that he won't," said I, "but it might makeyou hold your
tongue about us and our money, I should think."
"You should think!" retorted Drummle. "Oh Lord!"
"I dare say," I went on, meaning to be very severe, "that youwouldn't lend money
to any of us, if we wanted it."
"You are right," said Drummle. "I wouldn't lend one of you asixpence. I wouldn't
lend anybody a sixpence."
"Rather mean to borrow under those circumstances, I should say."
"You should say," repeated Drummle. "Oh Lord!"
This was so very aggravating - the more especially as I foundmyself making no
way against his surly obtuseness - that I said,disregarding Herbert's efforts to
"Come, Mr. Drummle, since we are on the subject, I'll tell you whatpassed between
Herbert here and me, when you borrowed that money."
"I don't want to know what passed between Herbert there and you,"growled Drummle.
And I think he added in a lower growl, that wemight both go to the devil and shake
"I'll tell you, however," said I, "whether you want to know or not.We said that
as you put it in your pocket very glad to get it, youseemed to be immensely amused
at his being so weak as to lend it."
Drummle laughed outright, and sat laughing in our faces, with hishands in his
pockets and his round shoulders raised: plainlysignifying that it was quite true,
and that he despised us, asasses all.
Hereupon Startop took him in hand, though with a much better gracethan I had
shown, and exhorted him to be a little more agreeable.Startop, being a lively bright
young fellow, and Drummle being theexact opposite, the latter was always disposed
to resent him as adirect personal affront. He now retorted in a coarse lumpish way,and
Startop tried to turn the discussion aside with some smallpleasantry that made us
all laugh. Resenting this little successmore than anything, Drummle, without any
threat or warning, pulledhis hands out of his pockets, dropped his round shoulders,
swore,took up a large glass, and would have flung it at his adversary'shead, but
for our entertainer's dexterously seizing it at theinstant when it was raised for
"Gentlemen," said Mr. Jaggers, deliberately putting down the glass,and hauling
out his gold repeater by its massive chain, "I amexceedingly sorry to announce that
it's half-past nine."
On this hint we all rose to depart. Before we got to the streetdoor, Startop
was cheerily calling Drummle "old boy," as if nothinghad happened. But the old boy
was so far from responding, that hewould not even walk to Hammersmith on the same
side of the way; so,Herbert and I, who remained in town, saw them going down the
streeton opposite sides; Startop leading, and Drummle lagging behind inthe shadow
of the houses, much as he was wont to follow in hisboat.
As the door was not yet shut, I thought I would leave Herbert therefor a moment,
and run up-stairs again to say a word to my guardian.I found him in his dressing-room
surrounded by his stock of boots,already hard at it, washing his hands of us.
I told him I had come up again to say how sorry I was that anythingdisagreeable
should have occurred, and that I hoped he would notblame me much.
"Pooh!" said he, sluicing his face, and speaking through thewater-drops; "it's
nothing, Pip. I like that Spider though."
He had turned towards me now, and was shaking his head, andblowing, and towelling
"I am glad you like him, sir," said I - "but I don't."
"No, no," my guardian assented; "don't have too much to do withhim. Keep as clear
of him as you can. But I like the fellow, Pip;he is one of the true sort. Why, if
I was a fortune-teller--"
Looking out of the towel, he caught my eye.
"But I am not a fortune-teller," he said, letting his head dropinto a festoon
of towel, and towelling away at his two ears. "Youknow what I am, don't you? Good-night,
In about a month after that, the Spider's time with Mr. Pocket wasup for good,
and, to the great relief of all the house but Mrs.Pocket, he went home to the family
"MY DEAR MR PIP,
"I write this by request of Mr. Gargery, for to let you know that heis going
to London in company with Mr. Wopsle and would be glad ifagreeable to be allowed
to see you. He would call at Barnard'sHotel Tuesday morning 9 o'clock, when if not
agreeable pleaseleave word. Your poor sister is much the same as when you left.
Wetalk of you in the kitchen every night, and wonder what you aresaying and doing.
If now considered in the light of a liberty,excuse it for the love of poor old days.
No more, dear Mr. Pip, from
"Your ever obliged, and affectionate servant,
"P.S. He wishes me most particular to write what larks. He says youwill understand.
I hope and do not doubt it will be agreeable tosee him even though a gentleman,
for you had ever a good heart, andhe is a worthy worthy man. I have read him all
excepting only thelast little sentence, and he wishes me most particular to writeagain
I received this letter by the post on Monday morning, and thereforeits appointment
was for next day. Let me confess exactly, with whatfeelings I looked forward to
Not with pleasure, though I was bound to him by so many ties; no;with considerable
disturbance, some mortification, and a keen senseof incongruity. If I could have
kept him away by paying money, Icertainly would have paid money. My greatest reassurance
was, thathe was coming to Barnard's Inn, not to Hammersmith, andconsequently would
not fall in Bentley Drummle's way. I had littleobjection to his being seen by Herbert
or his father, for both ofwhom I had a respect; but I had the sharpest sensitiveness
as tohis being seen by Drummle, whom I held in contempt. So, throughoutlife, our
worst weaknesses and meannesses are usually committed forthe sake of the people
whom we most despise.
I had begun to be always decorating the chambers in some quiteunnecessary and
inappropriate way or other, and very expensivethose wrestles with Barnard proved
to be. By this time, the roomswere vastly different from what I had found them,
and I enjoyed thehonour of occupying a few prominent pages in the books of aneighbouring
upholsterer. I had got on so fast of late, that I hadeven started a boy in boots
- top boots - in bondage and slavery towhom I might have been said to pass my days.
For, after I had madethe monster (out of the refuse of my washerwoman's family)
and hadclothed him with a blue coat, canary waistcoat, white cravat,creamy breeches,
and the boots already mentioned, I had to find hima little to do and a great deal
to eat; and with both of thosehorrible requirements he haunted my existence.
This avenging phantom was ordered to be on duty at eight on Tuesdaymorning in
the hall (it was two feet square, as charged forfloorcloth), and Herbert suggested
certain things for breakfastthat he thought Joe would like. While I felt sincerely
obliged tohim for being so interested and considerate, I had an oddhalf-provoked
sense of suspicion upon me, that if Joe had beencoming to see him, he wouldn't have
been quite so brisk about it.
However, I came into town on the Monday night to be ready for Joe,and I got up
early in the morning, and caused the sittingroom andbreakfast-table to assume their
most splendid appearance.Unfortunately the morning was drizzly, and an angel could
not haveconcealed the fact that Barnard was shedding sooty tears outside thewindow,
like some weak giant of a Sweep.
As the time approached I should have liked to run away, but theAvenger pursuant
to orders was in the hall, and presently I heardJoe on the staircase. I knew it
was Joe, by his clumsy manner ofcoming up-stairs - his state boots being always
too big for him -and by the time it took him to read the names on the other floorsin
the course of his ascent. When at last he stopped outside ourdoor, I could hear
his finger tracing over the painted letters ofmy name, and I afterwards distinctly
heard him breathing in at thekeyhole. Finally he gave a faint single rap, and Pepper
- such wasthe compromising name of the avenging boy - announced "Mr. Gargery!"I
thought he never would have done wiping his feet, and that I musthave gone out to
lift him off the mat, but at last he came in.
"Joe, how are you, Joe?"
"Pip, how AIR you, Pip?"
With his good honest face all glowing and shining, and his hat putdown on the
floor between us, he caught both my hands and workedthem straight up and down, as
if I had been the lastpatented Pump.
"I am glad to see you, Joe. Give me your hat."
But Joe, taking it up carefully with both hands, like a bird's-nestwith eggs
in it, wouldn't hear of parting with that piece ofproperty, and persisted in standing
talking over it in a mostuncomfortable way.
"Which you have that growed," said Joe, "and that swelled, and thatgentle-folked;"
Joe considered a little before he discovered thisword; "as to be sure you are a
honour to your king and country."
"And you, Joe, look wonderfully well."
"Thank God," said Joe, "I'm ekerval to most. And your sister, she'sno worse than
she were. And Biddy, she's ever right and ready. Andall friends is no backerder,
if not no forarder. 'Ceptin Wopsle;he's had a drop."
All this time (still with both hands taking great care of thebird's-nest), Joe
was rolling his eyes round and round the room,and round and round the flowered pattern
of my dressing-gown.
"Had a drop, Joe?"
"Why yes," said Joe, lowering his voice, "he's left the Church, andwent into
the playacting. Which the playacting have likewaysbrought him to London along with
me. And his wish were," said Joe,getting the bird's-nest under his left arm for
the moment andgroping in it for an egg with his right; "if no offence, as I would'and