I took what Joe gave me, and found it to be the crumpled playbillof a small metropolitan
theatre, announcing the first appearance,in that very week, of "the celebrated Provincial
Amateur of Roscianrenown, whose unique performance in the highest tragic walk of
ourNational Bard has lately occasioned so great a sensation in localdramatic circles."
"Were you at his performance, Joe?" I inquired.
"I were," said Joe, with emphasis and solemnity.
"Was there a great sensation?"
"Why," said Joe, "yes, there certainly were a peck of orange-peel.Partickler,
when he see the ghost. Though I put it to yourself,sir, whether it were calc'lated
to keep a man up to his work with agood hart, to be continiwally cutting in betwixt
him and the Ghostwith "Amen!" A man may have had a misfortun' and been in theChurch,"
said Joe, lowering his voice to an argumentative andfeeling tone, "but that is no
reason why you should put him out atsuch a time. Which I meantersay, if the ghost
of a man's own fathercannot be allowed to claim his attention, what can, Sir? Stillmore,
when his mourning "at is unfortunately made so small as thatthe weight of the black
feathers brings it off, try to keep it onhow you may."
A ghost-seeing effect in Joe's own countenance informed me thatHerbert had entered
the room. So, I presented Joe to Herbert, whoheld out his hand; but Joe backed from
it, and held on by thebird's-nest.
"Your servant, Sir," said Joe, "which I hope as you and Pip" - herehis eye fell
on the Avenger, who was putting some toast on table,and so plainly denoted an intention
to make that young gentlemanone of the family, that I frowned it down and confused
him more -"I meantersay, you two gentlemen - which I hope as you get yourelths in
this close spot? For the present may be a werry good inn,according to London opinions,"
said Joe, confidentially, "and Ibelieve its character do stand i; but I wouldn't
keep a pig in itmyself - not in the case that I wished him to fatten wholesome andto
eat with a meller flavour on him."
Having borne this flattering testimony to the merits of ourdwelling-place, and
having incidentally shown this tendency to callme "sir," Joe, being invited to sit
down to table, looked all roundthe room for a suitable spot on which to deposit
his hat - as if itwere only on some very few rare substances in nature that it couldfind
a resting place - and ultimately stood it on an extreme cornerof the chimney-piece,
from which it ever afterwards fell off atintervals.
"Do you take tea, or coffee, Mr. Gargery?" asked Herbert, who alwayspresided
of a morning.
"Thankee, Sir," said Joe, stiff from head to foot, "I'll takewhichever is most
agreeable to yourself."
"What do you say to coffee?"
"Thankee, Sir," returned Joe, evidently dispirited by the proposal,"since you
are so kind as make chice of coffee, I will not runcontrairy to your own opinions.
But don't you never find it alittle 'eating?"
"Say tea then," said Herbert, pouring it out.
Here Joe's hat tumbled off the mantel-piece, and he started out ofhis chair and
picked it up, and fitted it to the same exact spot.As if it were an absolute point
of good breeding that it shouldtumble off again soon.
"When did you come to town, Mr. Gargery?"
"Were it yesterday afternoon?" said Joe, after coughing behind hishand, as if
he had had time to catch the whooping-cough since hecame. "No it were not. Yes it
were. Yes. It were yesterdayafternoon" (with an appearance of mingled wisdom, relief,
"Have you seen anything of London, yet?"
"Why, yes, Sir," said Joe, "me and Wopsle went off straight to lookat the Blacking
Ware'us. But we didn't find that it come up to itslikeness in the red bills at the
shop doors; which I meantersay,"added Joe, in an explanatory manner, "as it is there
I really believe Joe would have prolonged this word (mightilyexpressive to my
mind of some architecture that I know) into aperfect Chorus, but for his attention
being providentiallyattracted by his hat, which was toppling. Indeed, it demanded
fromhim a constant attention, and a quickness of eye and hand, verylike that exacted
by wicket-keeping. He made extraordinary playwith it, and showed the greatest skill;
now, rushing at it andcatching it neatly as it dropped; now, merely stopping it
midway,beating it up, and humouring it in various parts of the room andagainst a
good deal of the pattern of the paper on the wall, beforehe felt it safe to close
with it; finally, splashing it into theslop-basin, where I took the liberty of laying
hands upon it.
As to his shirt-collar, and his coat-collar, they were perplexingto reflect upon
- insoluble mysteries both. Why should a man scrapehimself to that extent, before
he could consider himself fulldressed? Why should he suppose it necessary to be
purified bysuffering for his holiday clothes? Then he fell into suchunaccountable
fits of meditation, with his fork midway between hisplate and his mouth; had his
eyes attracted in such strangedirections; was afflicted with such remarkable coughs;
sat so farfrom the table, and dropped so much more than he ate, and pretendedthat
he hadn't dropped it; that I was heartily glad when Herbertleft us for the city.
I had neither the good sense nor the good feeling to know that thiswas all my
fault, and that if I had been easier with Joe, Joe wouldhave been easier with me.
I felt impatient of him and out of temperwith him; in which condition he heaped
coals of fire on my head.
"Us two being now alone, Sir," - began Joe.
"Joe," I interrupted, pettishly, "how can you call me, Sir?"
Joe looked at me for a single instant with something faintly likereproach. Utterly
preposterous as his cravat was, and as hiscollars were, I was conscious of a sort
of dignity in the look.
"Us two being now alone," resumed Joe, "and me having theintentions and abilities
to stay not many minutes more, I will nowconclude - leastways begin - to mention
what have led to my havinghad the present honour. For was it not," said Joe, with
his old airof lucid exposition, "that my only wish were to be useful to you, Ishould
not have had the honour of breaking wittles in the companyand abode of gentlemen."
I was so unwilling to see the look again, that I made noremonstrance against
"Well, Sir," pursued Joe, "this is how it were. I were at theBargemen t'other
night, Pip;" whenever he subsided into affection,he called me Pip, and whenever
he relapsed into politeness hecalled me Sir; "when there come up in his shay-cart,
Pumblechook.Which that same identical," said Joe, going down a new track, "docomb
my 'air the wrong way sometimes, awful, by giving out up anddown town as it were
him which ever had your infant companionationand were looked upon as a playfellow
"Nonsense. It was you, Joe."
"Which I fully believed it were, Pip," said Joe, slightly tossinghis head, "though
it signify little now, Sir. Well, Pip; this sameidentical, which his manners is
given to blusterous, come to me atthe Bargemen (wot a pipe and a pint of beer do
give refreshment tothe working-man, Sir, and do not over stimilate), and his wordwere,
'Joseph, Miss Havisham she wish to speak to you.'"
"Miss Havisham, Joe?"
"'She wish,' were Pumblechook's word, 'to speak to you.'" Joe satand rolled his
eyes at the ceiling.
"Yes, Joe? Go on, please."
"Next day, Sir," said Joe, looking at me as if I were a long wayoff, "having
cleaned myself, I go and I see Miss A."
"Miss A., Joe? Miss Havisham?"
"Which I say, Sir," replied Joe, with an air of legal formality, asif he were
making his will, "Miss A., or otherways Havisham. Herexpression air then as follering:
'Mr. Gargery. You air incorrespondence with Mr. Pip?' Having had a letter from you,
I wereable to say 'I am.' (When I married your sister, Sir, I said 'Iwill;' and
when I answered your friend, Pip, I said 'I am.') 'Wouldyou tell him, then,' said
she, 'that which Estella has come homeand would be glad to see him.'"
I felt my face fire up as I looked at Joe. I hope one remote causeof its firing,
may have been my consciousness that if I had knownhis errand, I should have given
him more encouragement.
"Biddy," pursued Joe, "when I got home and asked her fur to writethe message
to you, a little hung back. Biddy says, "I know he willbe very glad to have it by
word of mouth, it is holidaytime, youwant to see him, go!" I have now concluded,
Sir," said Joe, risingfrom his chair, "and, Pip, I wish you ever well and ever prosperingto
a greater and a greater heighth."
"But you are not going now, Joe?"
"Yes I am," said Joe.
"But you are coming back to dinner, Joe?"
"No I am not," said Joe.
Our eyes met, and all the "Sir" melted out of that manly heart ashe gave me his
"Pip, dear old chap, life is made of ever so many partings weldedtogether, as
I may say, and one man's a blacksmith, and one's awhitesmith, and one's a goldsmith,
and one's a coppersmith.Diwisions among such must come, and must be met as they
come. Ifthere's been any fault at all to-day, it's mine. You and me is nottwo figures
to be together in London; nor yet anywheres else butwhat is private, and beknown,
and understood among friends. Itain't that I am proud, but that I want to be right,
as you shallnever see me no more in these clothes. I'm wrong in these clothes.I'm
wrong out of the forge, the kitchen, or off th' meshes. Youwon't find half so much
fault in me if you think of me in my forgedress, with my hammer in my hand, or even
my pipe. You won't findhalf so much fault in me if, supposing as you should ever
wish tosee me, you come and put your head in at the forge window and seeJoe the
blacksmith, there, at the old anvil, in the old burntapron, sticking to the old
work. I'm awful dull, but I hope I'vebeat out something nigh the rights of this
at last. And so GODbless you, dear old Pip, old chap, GOD bless you!"
I had not been mistaken in my fancy that there was a simple dignityin him. The
fashion of his dress could no more come in its way whenhe spoke these words, than
it could come in its way in Heaven. Hetouched me gently on the forehead, and went
out. As soon as I couldrecover myself sufficiently, I hurried out after him and
looked forhim in the neighbouring streets; but he was gone.
It was clear that I must repair to our town next day, and in thefirst flow of
my repentance it was equally clear that I must stayat Joe's. But, when I had secured
my box-place by to-morrow's coachand had been down to Mr. Pocket's and back, I was
not by any meansconvinced on the last point, and began to invent reasons and makeexcuses
for putting up at the Blue Boar. I should be aninconvenience at Joe's; I was not
expected, and my bed would not beready; I should be too far from Miss Havisham's,
and she wasexacting and mightn't like it. All other swindlers upon earth arenothing
to the self-swindlers, and with such pretences did I cheatmyself. Surely a curious
thing. That I should innocently take a badhalf-crown of somebody else's manufacture,
is reasonable enough;but that I should knowingly reckon the spurious coin of my
ownmake, as good money! An obliging stranger, under pretence ofcompactly folding
up my bank-notes for security's sake, abstractsthe notes and gives me nutshells;
but what is his sleight of handto mine, when I fold up my own nutshells and pass
them on myself asnotes!
Having settled that I must go to the Blue Boar, my mind was muchdisturbed by
indecision whether or not to take the Avenger. It wastempting to think of that expensive
Mercenary publicly airing hisboots in the archway of the Blue Boar's posting-yard;
it was almostsolemn to imagine him casually produced in the tailor's shop andconfounding
the disrespectful senses of Trabb's boy. On the otherhand, Trabb's boy might worm
himself into his intimacy and tell himthings; or, reckless and desperate wretch
as I knew he could be,might hoot him in the High-street, My patroness, too, might
hear ofhim, and not approve. On the whole, I resolved to leave the Avengerbehind.
It was the afternoon coach by which I had taken my place, and, aswinter had now
come round, I should not arrive at my destinationuntil two or three hours after
dark. Our time of starting from theCross Keys was two o'clock. I arrived on the
ground with a quarterof an hour to spare, attended by the Avenger - if I may connectthat
expression with one who never attended on me if he couldpossibly help it.
At that time it was customary to carry Convicts down to thedockyards by stage-coach.
As I had often heard of them in thecapacity of outside passengers, and had more
than once seen them onthe high road dangling their ironed legs over the coach roof,
I hadno cause to be surprised when Herbert, meeting me in the yard, cameup and told
me there were two convicts going down with me. But Ihad a reason that was an old
reason now, for constitutionallyfaltering whenever I heard the word convict.
"You don't mind them, Handel?" said Herbert.
"I thought you seemed as if you didn't like them?"
"I can't pretend that I do like them, and I suppose you don'tparticularly. But
I don't mind them."
"See! There they are," said Herbert, "coming out of the Tap. What adegraded and
vile sight it is!"
They had been treating their guard, I suppose, for they had agaoler with them,
and all three came out wiping their mouths ontheir hands. The two convicts were
handcuffed together, and hadirons on their legs - irons of a pattern that I knew
well. Theywore the dress that I likewise knew well. Their keeper had a braceof pistols,
and carried a thick-knobbed bludgeon under his arm; buthe was on terms of good understanding
with them, and stood, withthem beside him, looking on at the putting-to of the horses,
ratherwith an air as if the convicts were an interesting Exhibition notformally
open at the moment, and he the Curator. One was a tallerand stouter man than the
other, and appeared as a matter of course,according to the mysterious ways of the
world both convict andfree, to have had allotted to him the smaller suit of clothes.
Hisarms and legs were like great pincushions of those shapes, and hisattire disguised
him absurdly; but I knew his half-closed eye atone glance. There stood the man whom
I had seen on the settle atthe Three Jolly Bargemen on a Saturday night, and who
had broughtme down with his invisible gun!