It was a trial to my feelings, on the next day but one, to see Joe arrayin_imself in his Sunday clothes to accompany me to Miss Havisham’s. However, a_e thought his court-suit necessary to the occasion, it was not for me tel_im that he looked far better in his working-dress; the rather, because I kne_e made himself so dreadfully uncomfortable, entirely on my account, and tha_t was for me he pulled up his shirt-collar so very high behind, that it mad_he hair on the crown of his head stand up like a tuft of feathers.
At breakfast-time my sister declared her intention of going to town with us, and being left at Uncle Pumblechook’s and called for “when we had done wit_ur fine ladies”—a way of putting the case, from which Joe appeared incline_o augur the worst. The forge was shut up for the day, and Joe inscribed i_halk upon the door (as it was his custom to do on the very rare occasion_hen he was not at work) the monosyllable hout, accompanied by a sketch of a_rrow supposed to be flying in the direction he had taken.
We walked to town, my sister leading the way in a very large beaver bonnet, and carrying a basket like the Great Seal of England in plaited Straw, a pai_f pattens, a spare shawl, and an umbrella, though it was a fine bright day. _m not quite clear whether these articles were carried penitentially o_stentatiously; but I rather think they were displayed as articles o_roperty,—much as Cleopatra or any other sovereign lady on the Rampage migh_xhibit her wealth in a pageant or procession.
When we came to Pumblechook’s, my sister bounced in and left us. As it wa_lmost noon, Joe and I held straight on to Miss Havisham’s house. Estell_pened the gate as usual, and, the moment she appeared, Joe took his hat of_nd stood weighing it by the brim in both his hands; as if he had some urgen_eason in his mind for being particular to half a quarter of an ounce.
Estella took no notice of either of us, but led us the way that I knew s_ell. I followed next to her, and Joe came last. When I looked back at Joe i_he long passage, he was still weighing his hat with the greatest care, an_as coming after us in long strides on the tips of his toes.
Estella told me we were both to go in, so I took Joe by the coat-cuff an_onducted him into Miss Havisham’s presence. She was seated at her dressing- table, and looked round at us immediately.
“Oh!” said she to Joe. “You are the husband of the sister of this boy?”
I could hardly have imagined dear old Joe looking so unlike himself or so lik_ome extraordinary bird; standing as he did speechless, with his tuft o_eathers ruffled, and his mouth open as if he wanted a worm.
“You are the husband,” repeated Miss Havisham, “of the sister of this boy?”
It was very aggravating; but, throughout the interview, Joe persisted i_ddressing Me instead of Miss Havisham.
“Which I meantersay, Pip,” Joe now observed in a manner that was at onc_xpressive of forcible argumentation, strict confidence, and great politeness, “as I hup and married your sister, and I were at the time what you might call (if you was anyways inclined) a single man.”
“Well!” said Miss Havisham. “And you have reared the boy, with the intentio_f taking him for your apprentice; is that so, Mr. Gargery?”
“You know, Pip,” replied Joe, “as you and me were ever friends, and it wer_ooked for’ard to betwixt us, as being calc’lated to lead to larks. Not bu_hat, Pip, if you had ever made objections to the business,—such as its bein_pen to black and sut, or such-like,— not but what they would have bee_ttended to, don’t you see?”
“Has the boy,” said Miss Havisham, “ever made any objection? Does he like th_rade?”
“Which it is well beknown to yourself, Pip,” returned Joe, strengthening hi_ormer mixture of argumentation, confidence, and politeness, “that it were th_ish of your own hart.” (I saw the idea suddenly break upon him that he woul_dapt his epitaph to the occasion, before he went on to say) “And ther_eren’t no objection on your part, and Pip it were the great wish of you_art!”
It was quite in vain for me to endeavor to make him sensible that he ought t_peak to Miss Havisham. The more I made faces and gestures to him to do it, the more confidential, argumentative, and polite, he persisted in being to Me.
“Have you brought his indentures with you?” asked Miss Havisham.
“Well, Pip, you know,” replied Joe, as if that were a little unreasonable, “you yourself see me put ’em in my ‘at, and therefore you know as they ar_ere.” With which he took them out, and gave them, not to Miss Havisham, bu_o me. I am afraid I was ashamed of the dear good fellow,—I know I was ashame_f him,—when I saw that Estella stood at the back of Miss Havisham’s chair, and that her eyes laughed mischievously. I took the indentures out of his han_nd gave them to Miss Havisham.
“You expected,” said Miss Havisham, as she looked them over, “no premium wit_he boy?”
“Joe!” I remonstrated, for he made no reply at all. “Why don’t you answer—”
“Pip,” returned Joe, cutting me short as if he were hurt, “which I meantersa_hat were not a question requiring a answer betwixt yourself and me, and whic_ou know the answer to be full well No. You know it to be No, Pip, an_herefore should I say it?”
Miss Havisham glanced at him as if she understood what he really was bette_han I had thought possible, seeing what he was there; and took up a littl_ag from the table beside her.
“Pip has earned a premium here,” she said, “and here it is. There are five- and-twenty guineas in this bag. Give it to your master, Pip.”
As if he were absolutely out of his mind with the wonder awakened in him b_er strange figure and the strange room, Joe, even at this pass, persisted i_ddressing me.
“This is wery liberal on your part, Pip,” said Joe, “and it is as suc_eceived and grateful welcome, though never looked for, far nor near, no_owheres. And now, old chap,” said Joe, conveying to me a sensation, first o_urning and then of freezing, for I felt as if that familiar expression wer_pplied to Miss Havisham,—“and now, old chap, may we do our duty! May you an_e do our duty, both on us, by one and another, and by them which your libera_resent— have-conweyed—to be—for the satisfaction of mind-of—them as never—” here Joe showed that he felt he had fallen into frightful difficulties, unti_e triumphantly rescued himself with the words, “and from myself far be it!” These words had such a round and convincing sound for him that he said the_wice.
“Good by, Pip!” said Miss Havisham. “Let them out, Estella.”
“Am I to come again, Miss Havisham?” I asked.
“No. Gargery is your master now. Gargery! One word!”
Thus calling him back as I went out of the door, I heard her say to Joe in _istinct emphatic voice, “The boy has been a good boy here, and that is hi_eward. Of course, as an honest man, you will expect no other and no more.”
How Joe got out of the room, I have never been able to determine; but I kno_hat when he did get out he was steadily proceeding up stairs instead o_oming down, and was deaf to all remonstrances until I went after him and lai_old of him. In another minute we were outside the gate, and it was locked, and Estella was gone. When we stood in the daylight alone again, Joe backed u_gainst a wall, and said to me, “Astonishing!” And there he remained so lon_aying, “Astonishing” at intervals, so often, that I began to think his sense_ere never coming back. At length he prolonged his remark into “Pip, I d_ssure you this is as-ton-ishing!” and so, by degrees, became conversationa_nd able to walk away.
I have reason to think that Joe’s intellects were brightened by the encounte_hey had passed through, and that on our way to Pumblechook’s he invented _ubtle and deep design. My reason is to be found in what took place in Mr.
Pumblechook’s parlor: where, on our presenting ourselves, my sister sat i_onference with that detested seedsman.
“Well?” cried my sister, addressing us both at once. “And what’s happened t_ou? I wonder you condescend to come back to such poor society as this, I a_ure I do!”
“Miss Havisham,” said Joe, with a fixed look at me, like an effort o_emembrance, “made it wery partick’ler that we should give her— were i_ompliments or respects, Pip?”
“Compliments,” I said.
“Which that were my own belief,” answered Joe; “her compliments to Mrs. J.
“Much good they’ll do me!” observed my sister; but rather gratified too.
“And wishing,” pursued Joe, with another fixed look at me, like another effor_f remembrance, “that the state of Miss Havisham’s elth were sitch as woul_ave—allowed, were it, Pip?”
“Of her having the pleasure,” I added.
“Of ladies’ company,” said Joe. And drew a long breath.
“Well!” cried my sister, with a mollified glance at Mr. Pumblechook. “Sh_ight have had the politeness to send that message at first, but it’s bette_ate than never. And what did she give young Rantipole here?”
“She giv’ him,” said Joe, “nothing.”
Mrs. Joe was going to break out, but Joe went on.
“What she giv’,” said Joe, “she giv’ to his friends. ‘And by his friends,’ were her explanation, ‘I mean into the hands of his sister Mrs. J. Gargery.’ Them were her words; ‘Mrs. J. Gargery.’ She mayn’t have know’d,” added Joe, with an appearance of reflection, “whether it were Joe, or Jorge.”
My sister looked at Pumblechook: who smoothed the elbows of his wooden arm- chair, and nodded at her and at the fire, as if he had known all about i_eforehand.
“And how much have you got?” asked my sister, laughing. Positively laughing!
“What would present company say to ten pound?” demanded Joe.
“They’d say,” returned my sister, curtly, “pretty well. Not too much, bu_retty well.”
“It’s more than that, then,” said Joe.
That fearful Impostor, Pumblechook, immediately nodded, and said, as he rubbe_he arms of his chair, “It’s more than that, Mum.”
“Why, you don’t mean to say—” began my sister.
“Yes I do, Mum,” said Pumblechook; “but wait a bit. Go on, Joseph. Good i_ou! Go on!”
“What would present company say,” proceeded Joe, “to twenty pound?”
“Handsome would be the word,” returned my sister.
“Well, then,” said Joe, “It’s more than twenty pound.”
That abject hypocrite, Pumblechook, nodded again, and said, with a patronizin_augh, “It’s more than that, Mum. Good again! Follow her up, Joseph!”
“Then to make an end of it,” said Joe, delightedly handing the bag to m_ister; “it’s five-and-twenty pound.”
“It’s five-and-twenty pound, Mum,” echoed that basest of swindlers, Pumblechook, rising to shake hands with her; “and it’s no more than you_erits (as I said when my opinion was asked), and I wish you joy of th_oney!”
If the villain had stopped here, his case would have been sufficiently awful, but he blackened his guilt by proceeding to take me into custody, with a righ_f patronage that left all his former criminality far behind.
“Now you see, Joseph and wife,” said Pumblechook, as he took me by the ar_bove the elbow, “I am one of them that always go right through with wha_hey’ve begun. This boy must be bound, out of hand. That’s my way. Bound ou_f hand.”
“Goodness knows, Uncle Pumblechook,” said my sister (grasping the money), “we’re deeply beholden to you.”
“Never mind me, Mum, returned that diabolical cornchandler. “A pleasure’s _leasure all the world over. But this boy, you know; we must have him bound. _aid I’d see to it—to tell you the truth.”
The Justices were sitting in the Town Hall near at hand, and we at once wen_ver to have me bound apprentice to Joe in the Magisterial presence. I say w_ent over, but I was pushed over by Pumblechook, exactly as if I had tha_oment picked a pocket or fired a rick; indeed, it was the general impressio_n Court that I had been taken red-handed; for, as Pumblechook shoved m_efore him through the crowd, I heard some people say, “What’s he done?” an_thers, “He’s a young ‘un, too, but looks bad, don’t he? One person of mil_nd benevolent aspect even gave me a tract ornamented with a woodcut of _alevolent young man fitted up with a perfect sausage-shop of fetters, an_ntitled to be Read in my cell.
The Hall was a queer place, I thought, with higher pews in it than _hurch,—and with people hanging over the pews looking on,—and with might_ustices (one with a powdered head) leaning back in chairs, with folded arms, or taking snuff, or going to sleep, or writing, or reading the newspapers,—an_ith some shining black portraits on the walls, which my unartistic ey_egarded as a composition of hardbake and sticking-plaster. Here, in a corne_y indentures were duly signed and attested, and I was “bound”; Mr.
Pumblechook holding me all the while as if we had looked in on our way to th_caffold, to have those little preliminaries disposed of.
When we had come out again, and had got rid of the boys who had been put int_reat spirits by the expectation of seeing me publicly tortured, and who wer_uch disappointed to find that my friends were merely rallying round me, w_ent back to Pumblechook’s. And there my sister became so excited by th_wenty-five guineas, that nothing would serve her but we must have a dinne_ut of that windfall at the Blue Boar, and that Pumblechook must go over i_is chaise-cart, and bring the Hubbles and Mr. Wopsle.
It was agreed to be done; and a most melancholy day I passed. For, i_nscrutably appeared to stand to reason, in the minds of the whole company, that I was an excrescence on the entertainment. And to make it worse, they al_sked me from time to time,—in short, whenever they had nothing else t_o,—why I didn’t enjoy myself? And what could I possibly do then, but say _as enjoying myself,— when I wasn’t!
However, they were grown up and had their own way, and they made the most o_t. That swindling Pumblechook, exalted into the beneficent contriver of th_hole occasion, actually took the top of the table; and, when he addresse_hem on the subject of my being bound, and had fiendishly congratulated the_n my being liable to imprisonment if I played at cards, drank strong liquors, kept late hours or bad company, or indulged in other vagaries which the for_f my indentures appeared to contemplate as next to inevitable, he placed m_tanding on a chair beside him to illustrate his remarks.
My only other remembrances of the great festival are, That they wouldn’t le_e go to sleep, but whenever they saw me dropping off, woke me up and told m_o enjoy myself. That, rather late in the evening Mr. Wopsle gave us Collins’_de, and threw his bloodstained sword in thunder down, with such effect, tha_ waiter came in and said, “The Commercials underneath sent up thei_ompliments, and it wasn’t the Tumblers’ Arms.” That, they were all i_xcellent spirits on the road home, and sang, O Lady Fair! Mr. Wopsle takin_he bass, and asserting with a tremendously strong voice (in reply to th_nquisitive bore who leads that piece of music in a most impertinent manner, by wanting to know all about everybody’s private affairs) that he was the ma_ith his white locks flowing, and that he was upon the whole the weakes_ilgrim going.
Finally, I remember that when I got into my little bedroom, I was trul_retched, and had a strong conviction on me that I should never like Joe’_rade. I had liked it once, but once was not now.