The journey from our town to the metropolis was a journey of about five hours.
It was a little past midday when the four-horse stage-coach by which I was _assenger, got into the ravel of traffic frayed out about the Cross Keys, Woo_treet, Cheapside, London.
We Britons had at that time particularly settled that it was treasonable t_oubt our having and our being the best of everything: otherwise, while I wa_cared by the immensity of London, I think I might have had some faint doubt_hether it was not rather ugly, crooked, narrow, and dirty.
Mr. Jaggers had duly sent me his address; it was, Little Britain, and he ha_ritten after it on his card, “just out of Smithfield, and close by the coach- office.” Nevertheless, a hackney-coachman, who seemed to have as many capes t_is greasy great-coat as he was years old, packed me up in his coach an_emmed me in with a folding and jingling barrier of steps, as if he were goin_o take me fifty miles. His getting on his box, which I remember to have bee_ecorated with an old weather-stained pea-green hammercloth moth-eaten int_ags, was quite a work of time. It was a wonderful equipage, with six grea_oronets outside, and ragged things behind for I don’t know how many footme_o hold on by, and a harrow below them, to prevent amateur footmen fro_ielding to the temptation.
I had scarcely had time to enjoy the coach and to think how like a straw-yar_t was, and yet how like a rag-shop, and to wonder why the horses’ nose-bag_ere kept inside, when I observed the coachman beginning to get down, as if w_ere going to stop presently. And stop we presently did, in a gloomy street, at certain offices with an open door, whereon was painted Mr. Jaggers.
“How much?” I asked the coachman.
The coachman answered, “A shilling—unless you wish to make it more.”
I naturally said I had no wish to make it more.
“Then it must be a shilling,” observed the coachman. “I don’t want to get int_rouble. I know him!” He darkly closed an eye at Mr. Jaggers’s name, and shoo_is head.
When he had got his shilling, and had in course of time completed the ascen_o his box, and had got away (which appeared to relieve his mind), I went int_he front office with my little portmanteau in my hand and asked, Was Mr.
Jaggers at home?
“He is not,” returned the clerk. “He is in Court at present. Am I addressin_r. Pip?”
I signified that he was addressing Mr. Pip.
“Mr. Jaggers left word, would you wait in his room. He couldn’t say how lon_e might be, having a case on. But it stands to reason, his time bein_aluable, that he won’t be longer than he can help.”
With those words, the clerk opened a door, and ushered me into an inne_hamber at the back. Here, we found a gentleman with one eye, in a velvetee_uit and knee-breeches, who wiped his nose with his sleeve on bein_nterrupted in the perusal of the newspaper.
“Go and wait outside, Mike,” said the clerk.
I began to say that I hoped I was not interrupting, when the clerk shoved thi_entleman out with as little ceremony as I ever saw used, and tossing his fu_ap out after him, left me alone.
Mr. Jaggers’s room was lighted by a skylight only, and was a most disma_lace; the skylight, eccentrically pitched like a broken head, and th_istorted adjoining houses looking as if they had twisted themselves to pee_own at me through it. There were not so many papers about, as I should hav_xpected to see; and there were some odd objects about, that I should not hav_xpected to see,— such as an old rusty pistol, a sword in a scabbard, severa_trange-looking boxes and packages, and two dreadful casts on a shelf, o_aces peculiarly swollen, and twitchy about the nose. Mr. Jaggers’s own high- backed chair was of deadly black horsehair, with rows of brass nails round it, like a coffin; and I fancied I could see how he leaned back in it, and bit hi_orefinger at the clients. The room was but small, and the clients seemed t_ave had a habit of backing up against the wall; the wall, especially opposit_o Mr. Jaggers’s chair, being greasy with shoulders. I recalled, too, that th_ne-eyed gentleman had shuffled forth against the wall when I was the innocen_ause of his being turned out.
I sat down in the cliental chair placed over against Mr. Jaggers’s chair, an_ecame fascinated by the dismal atmosphere of the place. I called to mind tha_he clerk had the same air of knowing something to everybody else’_isadvantage, as his master had. I wondered how many other clerks there wer_p-stairs, and whether they all claimed to have the same detrimental master_f their fellow-creatures. I wondered what was the history of all the od_itter about the room, and how it came there. I wondered whether the tw_wollen faces were of Mr. Jaggers’s family, and, if he were so unfortunate a_o have had a pair of such ill-looking relations, why he stuck them on tha_usty perch for the blacks and flies to settle on, instead of giving them _lace at home. Of course I had no experience of a London summer day, and m_pirits may have been oppressed by the hot exhausted air, and by the dust an_rit that lay thick on everything. But I sat wondering and waiting in Mr.
Jaggers’s close room, until I really could not bear the two casts on the shel_bove Mr. Jaggers’s chair, and got up and went out.
When I told the clerk that I would take a turn in the air while I waited, h_dvised me to go round the corner and I should come into Smithfield. So I cam_nto Smithfield; and the shameful place, being all asmear with filth and fa_nd blood and foam, seemed to stick to me. So, I rubbed it off with al_ossible speed by turning into a street where I saw the great black dome o_aint Paul’s bulging at me from behind a grim stone building which a bystande_aid was Newgate Prison. Following the wall of the jail, I found the roadwa_overed with straw to deaden the noise of passing vehicles; and from this, an_rom the quantity of people standing about smelling strongly of spirits an_eer, I inferred that the trials were on.
While I looked about me here, an exceedingly dirty and partially drun_inister of justice asked me if I would like to step in and hear a trial o_o: informing me that he could give me a front place for half a crown, whenc_ should command a full view of the Lord Chief Justice in his wig an_obes,—mentioning that awful personage like waxwork, and presently offerin_im at the reduced price of eighteen-pence. As I declined the proposal on th_lea of an appointment, he was so good as to take me into a yard and show m_here the gallows was kept, and also where people were publicly whipped, an_hen he showed me the Debtors’ Door, out of which culprits came to be hanged; heightening the interest of that dreadful portal by giving me to understan_hat “four on ’em” would come out at that door the day after to-morrow a_ight in the morning, to be killed in a row. This was horrible, and gave me _ickening idea of London; the more so as the Lord Chief Justice’s proprieto_ore (from his hat down to his boots and up again to his pocket-handkerchie_nclusive) mildewed clothes which had evidently not belonged to hi_riginally, and which I took it into my head he had bought cheap of th_xecutioner. Under these circumstances I thought myself well rid of him for _hilling.
I dropped into the office to ask if Mr. Jaggers had come in yet, and I foun_e had not, and I strolled out again. This time, I made the tour of Littl_ritain, and turned into Bartholomew Close; and now I became aware that othe_eople were waiting about for Mr. Jaggers, as well as I. There were two men o_ecret appearance lounging in Bartholomew Close, and thoughtfully fittin_heir feet into the cracks of the pavement as they talked together, one o_hom said to the other when they first passed me, that “Jaggers would do it i_t was to be done.” There was a knot of three men and two women standing at _orner, and one of the women was crying on her dirty shawl, and the othe_omforted her by saying, as she pulled her own shawl over her shoulders, “Jaggers is for him, ‘Melia, and what more could you have?” There was a red- eyed little Jew who came into the Close while I was loitering there, i_ompany with a second little Jew whom he sent upon an errand; and while th_essenger was gone, I remarked this Jew, who was of a highly excitabl_emperament, performing a jig of anxiety under a lamp-post and accompanyin_imself, in a kind of frenzy, with the words, “O Jaggerth, Jaggerth, Jaggerth!
all otherth ith Cag-Maggerth, give me Jaggerth!” These testimonies to th_opularity of my guardian made a deep impression on me, and I admired an_ondered more than ever.
At length, as I was looking out at the iron gate of Bartholomew Close int_ittle Britain, I saw Mr. Jaggers coming across the road towards me. All th_thers who were waiting saw him at the same time, and there was quite a rus_t him. Mr. Jaggers, putting a hand on my shoulder and walking me on at hi_ide without saying anything to me, addressed himself to his followers.
First, he took the two secret men.
“Now, I have nothing to say to you,” said Mr. Jaggers, throwing his finger a_hem. “I want to know no more than I know. As to the result, it’s a toss-up. _old you from the first it was a toss-up. Have you paid Wemmick?”
“We made the money up this morning, sir,” said one of the men, submissively, while the other perused Mr. Jaggers’s face.
“I don’t ask you when you made it up, or where, or whether you made it up a_ll. Has Wemmick got it?”
“Yes, sir,” said both the men together.
“Very well; then you may go. Now, I won’t have it!” said Mr Jaggers, wavin_is hand at them to put them behind him. “If you say a word to me, I’ll thro_p the case.”
“We thought, Mr. Jaggers—” one of the men began, pulling off his hat.
“That’s what I told you not to do,” said Mr. Jaggers. “You thought! I thin_or you; that’s enough for you. If I want you, I know where to find you; _on’t want you to find me. Now I won’t have it. I won’t hear a word.”
The two men looked at one another as Mr. Jaggers waved them behind again, an_umbly fell back and were heard no more.
“And now you!” said Mr. Jaggers, suddenly stopping, and turning on the tw_omen with the shawls, from whom the three men had meekly separated,—“Oh!
Amelia, is it?”
“Yes, Mr. Jaggers.”
“And do you remember,” retorted Mr. Jaggers, “that but for me you wouldn’t b_ere and couldn’t be here?”
“O yes, sir!” exclaimed both women together. “Lord bless you, sir, well w_nows that!”
“Then why,” said Mr. Jaggers, “do you come here?”
“My Bill, sir!” the crying woman pleaded.
“Now, I tell you what!” said Mr. Jaggers. “Once for all. If you don’t kno_hat your Bill’s in good hands, I know it. And if you come here botherin_bout your Bill, I’ll make an example of both your Bill and you, and let hi_lip through my fingers. Have you paid Wemmick?”
“O yes, sir! Every farden.”
“Very well. Then you have done all you have got to do. Say another word—on_ingle word—and Wemmick shall give you your money back.”
This terrible threat caused the two women to fall off immediately. No on_emained now but the excitable Jew, who had already raised the skirts of Mr.
Jaggers’s coat to his lips several times.
“I don’t know this man!” said Mr. Jaggers, in the same devastating strain: “What does this fellow want?”
“Ma thear Mithter Jaggerth. Hown brother to Habraham Latharuth?”
“Who’s he?” said Mr. Jaggers. “Let go of my coat.”
The suitor, kissing the hem of the garment again before relinquishing it, replied, “Habraham Latharuth, on thuthpithion of plate.”
“You’re too late,” said Mr. Jaggers. “I am over the way.”
“Holy father, Mithter Jaggerth!” cried my excitable acquaintance, turnin_hite, “don’t thay you’re again Habraham Latharuth!”
“I am,” said Mr. Jaggers, “and there’s an end of it. Get out of the way.”
“Mithter Jaggerth! Half a moment! My hown cuthen’th gone to Mithter Wemmick a_hith prethent minute, to hoffer him hany termth. Mithter Jaggerth! Half _uarter of a moment! If you’d have the condethenthun to be bought off from th_’other thide—at hany thuperior prithe!—money no object!—Mithte_aggerth—Mithter - !”
My guardian threw his supplicant off with supreme indifference, and left hi_ancing on the pavement as if it were red hot. Without further interruption, we reached the front office, where we found the clerk and the man in velvetee_ith the fur cap.
“Here’s Mike,” said the clerk, getting down from his stool, and approachin_r. Jaggers confidentially.
“Oh!” said Mr. Jaggers, turning to the man, who was pulling a lock of hair i_he middle of his forehead, like the Bull in Cock Robin pulling at the bell- rope; “your man comes on this afternoon. Well?”
“Well, Mas’r Jaggers,” returned Mike, in the voice of a sufferer from _onstitutional cold; “arter a deal o’ trouble, I’ve found one, sir, as migh_o.”
“What is he prepared to swear?”
“Well, Mas’r Jaggers,” said Mike, wiping his nose on his fur cap this time; “in a general way, anythink.”
Mr. Jaggers suddenly became most irate. “Now, I warned you before,” said he, throwing his forefinger at the terrified client, “that if you ever presumed t_alk in that way here, I’d make an example of you. You infernal scoundrel, ho_are you tell me that?”
The client looked scared, but bewildered too, as if he were unconscious wha_e had done.
“Spooney!” said the clerk, in a low voice, giving him a stir with his elbow.
“Soft Head! Need you say it face to face?”
“Now, I ask you, you blundering booby,” said my guardian, very sternly, “onc_ore and for the last time, what the man you have brought here is prepared t_wear?”
Mike looked hard at my guardian, as if he were trying to learn a lesson fro_is face, and slowly replied, “Ayther to character, or to having been in hi_ompany and never left him all the night in question.”
“Now, be careful. In what station of life is this man?”
Mike looked at his cap, and looked at the floor, and looked at the ceiling, and looked at the clerk, and even looked at me, before beginning to reply in _ervous manner, “We’ve dressed him up like—” when my guardian blustered out,—
“What? You Will, will you?”
(“Spooney!” added the clerk again, with another stir.)
After some helpless casting about, Mike brightened and began again:—
“He is dressed like a ‘spectable pieman. A sort of a pastry-cook.”
“Is he here?” asked my guardian.
“I left him,” said Mike, “a setting on some doorsteps round the corner.”
“Take him past that window, and let me see him.”
The window indicated was the office window. We all three went to it, behin_he wire blind, and presently saw the client go by in an accidental manner, with a murderous-looking tall individual, in a short suit of white linen and _aper cap. This guileless confectioner was not by any means sober, and had _lack eye in the green stage of recovery, which was painted over.
“Tell him to take his witness away directly,” said my guardian to the clerk, in extreme disgust, “and ask him what he means by bringing such a fellow a_hat.”
My guardian then took me into his own room, and while he lunched, standing, from a sandwich-box and a pocket-flask of sherry (he seemed to bully his ver_andwich as he ate it), informed me what arrangements he had made for me. _as to go to “Barnard’s Inn,” to young Mr. Pocket’s rooms, where a bed ha_een sent in for my accommodation; I was to remain with young Mr. Pocket unti_onday; on Monday I was to go with him to his father’s house on a visit, tha_ might try how I liked it. Also, I was told what my allowance was to be,—i_as a very liberal one,—and had handed to me from one of my guardian’_rawers, the cards of certain tradesmen with whom I was to deal for all kind_f clothes, and such other things as I could in reason want. “You will fin_our credit good, Mr. Pip,” said my guardian, whose flask of sherry smelt lik_ whole caskful, as he hastily refreshed himself, “but I shall by this mean_e able to check your bills, and to pull you up if I find you outrunning th_onstable. Of course you’ll go wrong somehow, but that’s no fault of mine.”
After I had pondered a little over this encouraging sentiment, I asked Mr.
Jaggers if I could send for a coach? He said it was not worth while, I was s_ear my destination; Wemmick should walk round with me, if I pleased.
I then found that Wemmick was the clerk in the next room. Another clerk wa_ung down from up stairs to take his place while he was out, and I accompanie_im into the street, after shaking hands with my guardian. We found a new se_f people lingering outside, but Wemmick made a way among them by sayin_oolly yet decisively, “I tell you it’s no use; he won’t have a word to say t_ne of you;” and we soon got clear of them, and went on side by side.