My father’s family name being Pirrip, and my Christian name Philip, my infan_ongue could make of both names nothing longer or more explicit than Pip. So, I called myself Pip, and came to be called Pip.
I give Pirrip as my father’s family name, on the authority of his tombston_nd my sister,—Mrs. Joe Gargery, who married the blacksmith. As I never saw m_ather or my mother, and never saw any likeness of either of them (for thei_ays were long before the days of photographs), my first fancies regardin_hat they were like were unreasonably derived from their tombstones. The shap_f the letters on my father’s, gave me an odd idea that he was a square, stout, dark man, with curly black hair. From the character and turn of th_nscription, “Also Georgiana Wife of the Above,” I drew a childish conclusio_hat my mother was freckled and sickly. To five little stone lozenges, eac_bout a foot and a half long, which were arranged in a neat row beside thei_rave, and were sacred to the memory of five little brothers of mine,—who gav_p trying to get a living, exceedingly early in that universal struggle,—I a_ndebted for a belief I religiously entertained that they had all been born o_heir backs with their hands in their trousers-pockets, and had never take_hem out in this state of existence.
Ours was the marsh country, down by the river, within, as the river wound, twenty miles of the sea. My first most vivid and broad impression of th_dentity of things seems to me to have been gained on a memorable ra_fternoon towards evening. At such a time I found out for certain that thi_leak place overgrown with nettles was the churchyard; and that Philip Pirrip, late of this parish, and also Georgiana wife of the above, were dead an_uried; and that Alexander, Bartholomew, Abraham, Tobias, and Roger, infan_hildren of the aforesaid, were also dead and buried; and that the dark fla_ilderness beyond the churchyard, intersected with dikes and mounds and gates, with scattered cattle feeding on it, was the marshes; and that the low leade_ine beyond was the river; and that the distant savage lair from which th_ind was rushing was the sea; and that the small bundle of shivers growin_fraid of it all and beginning to cry, was Pip.
“Hold your noise!” cried a terrible voice, as a man started up from among th_raves at the side of the church porch. “Keep still, you little devil, or I’l_ut your throat!”
A fearful man, all in coarse gray, with a great iron on his leg. A man with n_at, and with broken shoes, and with an old rag tied round his head. A man wh_ad been soaked in water, and smothered in mud, and lamed by stones, and cu_y flints, and stung by nettles, and torn by briars; who limped, and shivered, and glared, and growled; and whose teeth chattered in his head as he seized m_y the chin.
“Oh! Don’t cut my throat, sir,” I pleaded in terror. “Pray don’t do it, sir.”
“Tell us your name!” said the man. “Quick!”
“Once more,” said the man, staring at me. “Give it mouth!”
“Pip. Pip, sir.”
“Show us where you live,” said the man. “Pint out the place!”
I pointed to where our village lay, on the flat in-shore among the alder-tree_nd pollards, a mile or more from the church.
The man, after looking at me for a moment, turned me upside down, and emptie_y pockets. There was nothing in them but a piece of bread. When the churc_ame to itself,—for he was so sudden and strong that he made it go head ove_eels before me, and I saw the steeple under my feet,—when the church came t_tself, I say, I was seated on a high tombstone, trembling while he ate th_read ravenously.
“You young dog,” said the man, licking his lips, “what fat cheeks you ha’ got.”
I believe they were fat, though I was at that time undersized for my years, and not strong.
“Darn me if I couldn’t eat em,” said the man, with a threatening shake of hi_ead, “and if I han’t half a mind to’t!”
I earnestly expressed my hope that he wouldn’t, and held tighter to th_ombstone on which he had put me; partly, to keep myself upon it; partly, t_eep myself from crying.
“Now lookee here!” said the man. “Where’s your mother?”
“There, sir!” said I.
He started, made a short run, and stopped and looked over his shoulder.
“There, sir!” I timidly explained. “Also Georgiana. That’s my mother.”
“Oh!” said he, coming back. “And is that your father alonger your mother?”
“Yes, sir,” said I; “him too; late of this parish.”
“Ha!” he muttered then, considering. “Who d’ye live with,— supposin’ you’r_indly let to live, which I han’t made up my mind about?”
“My sister, sir,—Mrs. Joe Gargery,—wife of Joe Gargery, the blacksmith, sir.”
“Blacksmith, eh?” said he. And looked down at his leg.
After darkly looking at his leg and me several times, he came closer to m_ombstone, took me by both arms, and tilted me back as far as he could hol_e; so that his eyes looked most powerfully down into mine, and mine looke_ost helplessly up into his.
“Now lookee here,” he said, “the question being whether you’re to be let t_ive. You know what a file is?”
“And you know what wittles is?”
After each question he tilted me over a little more, so as to give me _reater sense of helplessness and danger.
“You get me a file.” He tilted me again. “And you get me wittles.” He tilte_e again. “You bring ’em both to me.” He tilted me again. “Or I’ll have you_eart and liver out.” He tilted me again.
I was dreadfully frightened, and so giddy that I clung to him with both hands, and said, “If you would kindly please to let me keep upright, sir, perhaps _houldn’t be sick, and perhaps I could attend more.”
He gave me a most tremendous dip and roll, so that the church jumped over it_wn weathercock. Then, he held me by the arms, in an upright position on th_op of the stone, and went on in these fearful terms:—
“You bring me, to-morrow morning early, that file and them wittles. You brin_he lot to me, at that old Battery over yonder. You do it, and you never dar_o say a word or dare to make a sign concerning your having seen such a perso_s me, or any person sumever, and you shall be let to live. You fail, or yo_o from my words in any partickler, no matter how small it is, and your hear_nd your liver shall be tore out, roasted, and ate. Now, I ain’t alone, as yo_ay think I am. There’s a young man hid with me, in comparison with whic_oung man I am a Angel. That young man hears the words I speak. That young ma_as a secret way pecooliar to himself, of getting at a boy, and at his heart, and at his liver. It is in wain for a boy to attempt to hide himself from tha_oung man. A boy may lock his door, may be warm in bed, may tuck himself up, may draw the clothes over his head, may think himself comfortable and safe, but that young man will softly creep and creep his way to him and tear hi_pen. I am a keeping that young man from harming of you at the present moment, with great difficulty. I find it wery hard to hold that young man off of you_nside. Now, what do you say?”
I said that I would get him the file, and I would get him what broken bits o_ood I could, and I would come to him at the Battery, early in the morning.
“Say Lord strike you dead if you don’t!” said the man.
I said so, and he took me down.
“Now,” he pursued, “you remember what you’ve undertook, and you remember tha_oung man, and you get home!”
“Goo-good night, sir,” I faltered.
“Much of that!” said he, glancing about him over the cold wet flat.
“I wish I was a frog. Or a eel!”
At the same time, he hugged his shuddering body in both his arms,— claspin_imself, as if to hold himself together,—and limped towards the low churc_all. As I saw him go, picking his way among the nettles, and among th_rambles that bound the green mounds, he looked in my young eyes as if he wer_luding the hands of the dead people, stretching up cautiously out of thei_raves, to get a twist upon his ankle and pull him in.
When he came to the low church wall, he got over it, like a man whose leg_ere numbed and stiff, and then turned round to look for me. When I saw hi_urning, I set my face towards home, and made the best use of my legs. Bu_resently I looked over my shoulder, and saw him going on again towards th_iver, still hugging himself in both arms, and picking his way with his sor_eet among the great stones dropped into the marshes here and there, fo_tepping-places when the rains were heavy or the tide was in.
The marshes were just a long black horizontal line then, as I stopped to loo_fter him; and the river was just another horizontal line, not nearly so broa_or yet so black; and the sky was just a row of long angry red lines and dens_lack lines intermixed. On the edge of the river I could faintly make out th_nly two black things in all the prospect that seemed to be standing upright; one of these was the beacon by which the sailors steered,—like an unhoope_ask upon a pole,—an ugly thing when you were near it; the other, a gibbet, with some chains hanging to it which had once held a pirate. The man wa_imping on towards this latter, as if he were the pirate come to life, an_ome down, and going back to hook himself up again. It gave me a terrible tur_hen I thought so; and as I saw the cattle lifting their heads to gaze afte_im, I wondered whether they thought so too. I looked all round for th_orrible young man, and could see no signs of him. But now I was frightene_gain, and ran home without stopping.