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Chapter 15

  • As I had grown accustomed to my expectations, I had insensibly begun to notic_heir effect upon myself and those around me. Their influence on my ow_haracter I disguised from my recognition as much as possible, but I knew ver_ell that it was not all good. I lived in a state of chronic uneasines_especting my behavior to Joe. My conscience was not by any means comfortabl_bout Biddy. When I woke up in the night,—like Camilla,—I used to think, wit_ weariness on my spirits, that I should have been happier and better if I ha_ever seen Miss Havisham’s face, and had risen to manhood content to b_artners with Joe in the honest old forge. Many a time of an evening, when _at alone looking at the fire, I thought, after all there was no fire like th_orge fire and the kitchen fire at home.
  • Yet Estella was so inseparable from all my restlessness and disquiet of mind,
  • that I really fell into confusion as to the limits of my own part in it_roduction. That is to say, supposing I had had no expectations, and yet ha_ad Estella to think of, I could not make out to my satisfaction that I shoul_ave done much better. Now, concerning the influence of my position on others,
  • I was in no such difficulty, and so I perceived—though dimly enoug_erhaps—that it was not beneficial to anybody, and, above all, that it was no_eneficial to Herbert. My lavish habits led his easy nature into expenses tha_e could not afford, corrupted the simplicity of his life, and disturbed hi_eace with anxieties and regrets. I was not at all remorseful for havin_nwittingly set those other branches of the Pocket family to the poor art_hey practised; because such littlenesses were their natural bent, and woul_ave been evoked by anybody else, if I had left them slumbering. But Herbert’_as a very different case, and it often caused me a twinge to think that I ha_one him evil service in crowding his sparely furnished chambers wit_ncongruous upholstery work, and placing the Canary-breasted Avenger at hi_isposal.
  • So now, as an infallible way of making little ease great ease, I began t_ontract a quantity of debt. I could hardly begin but Herbert must begin too,
  • so he soon followed. At Startop’s suggestion, we put ourselves down fo_lection into a club called The Finches of the Grove: the object of whic_nstitution I have never divined, if it were not that the members should din_xpensively once a fortnight, to quarrel among themselves as much as possibl_fter dinner, and to cause six waiters to get drunk on the stairs. I know tha_hese gratifying social ends were so invariably accomplished, that Herbert an_ understood nothing else to be referred to in the first standing toast of th_ociety: which ran “Gentlemen, may the present promotion of good feeling eve_eign predominant among the Finches of the Grove.”
  • The Finches spent their money foolishly (the Hotel we dined at was in Coven_arden), and the first Finch I saw when I had the honor of joining the Grov_as Bentley Drummle, at that time floundering about town in a cab of his own,
  • and doing a great deal of damage to the posts at the street corners.
  • Occasionally, he shot himself out of his equipage headforemost over the apron;
  • and I saw him on one occasion deliver himself at the door of the Grove in thi_nintentional way—like coals. But here I anticipate a little, for I was not _inch, and could not be, according to the sacred laws of the society, until _ame of age.
  • In my confidence in my own resources, I would willingly have taken Herbert’_xpenses on myself; but Herbert was proud, and I could make no such proposa_o him. So he got into difficulties in every direction, and continued to loo_bout him. When we gradually fell into keeping late hours and late company, _oticed that he looked about him with a desponding eye at breakfast-time; tha_e began to look about him more hopefully about mid-day; that he drooped whe_e came into dinner; that he seemed to descry Capital in the distance, rathe_learly, after dinner; that he all but realized Capital towards midnight; an_hat at about two o’clock in the morning, he became so deeply despondent agai_s to talk of buying a rifle and going to America, with a general purpose o_ompelling buffaloes to make his fortune.
  • I was usually at Hammersmith about half the week, and when I was a_ammersmith I haunted Richmond, whereof separately by and by. Herbert woul_ften come to Hammersmith when I was there, and I think at those seasons hi_ather would occasionally have some passing perception that the opening he wa_ooking for, had not appeared yet. But in the general tumbling up of th_amily, his tumbling out in life somewhere, was a thing to transact itsel_omehow. In the meantime Mr. Pocket grew grayer, and tried oftener to lif_imself out of his perplexities by the hair. While Mrs. Pocket tripped up th_amily with her footstool, read her book of dignities, lost her pocket-
  • handkerchief, told us about her grandpapa, and taught the young idea how t_hoot, by shooting it into bed whenever it attracted her notice.
  • As I am now generalizing a period of my life with the object of clearing m_ay before me, I can scarcely do so better than by at once completing th_escription of our usual manners and customs at Barnard’s Inn.
  • We spent as much money as we could, and got as little for it as people coul_ake up their minds to give us. We were always more or less miserable, an_ost of our acquaintance were in the same condition. There was a gay fictio_mong us that we were constantly enjoying ourselves, and a skeleton truth tha_e never did. To the best of my belief, our case was in the last aspect _ather common one.
  • Every morning, with an air ever new, Herbert went into the City to look abou_im. I often paid him a visit in the dark back-room in which he consorted wit_n ink-jar, a hat-peg, a coal-box, a string-box, an almanac, a desk and stool,
  • and a ruler; and I do not remember that I ever saw him do anything else bu_ook about him. If we all did what we undertake to do, as faithfully a_erbert did, we might live in a Republic of the Virtues. He had nothing els_o do, poor fellow, except at a certain hour of every afternoon to “go t_loyd’s”—in observance of a ceremony of seeing his principal, I think. H_ever did anything else in connection with Lloyd’s that I could find out,
  • except come back again. When he felt his case unusually serious, and that h_ositively must find an opening, he would go on ‘Change at a busy time, an_alk in and out, in a kind of gloomy country dance figure, among the assemble_agnates. “For,” says Herbert to me, coming home to dinner on one of thos_pecial occasions, “I find the truth to be, Handel, that an opening won’t com_o one, but one must go to it,—so I have been.”
  • If we had been less attached to one another, I think we must have hated on_nother regularly every morning. I detested the chambers beyond expression a_hat period of repentance, and could not endure the sight of the Avenger’_ivery; which had a more expensive and a less remunerative appearance the_han at any other time in the four-and-twenty hours. As we got more and mor_nto debt, breakfast became a hollower and hollower form, and, being on on_ccasion at breakfast-time threatened (by letter) with legal proceedings, “no_nwholly unconnected,” as my local paper might put it, “with jewelery,” I wen_o far as to seize the Avenger by his blue collar and shake him off hi_eet,—so that he was actually in the air, like a booted Cupid,—for presumin_o suppose that we wanted a roll.
  • At certain times—meaning at uncertain times, for they depended on our humor—_ould say to Herbert, as if it were a remarkable discovery,—
  • “My dear Herbert, we are getting on badly.”
  • “My dear Handel,” Herbert would say to me, in all sincerity, if you wil_elieve me, those very words were on my lips, by a strange coincidence.”
  • “Then, Herbert,” I would respond, “let us look into out affairs.”
  • We always derived profound satisfaction from making an appointment for thi_urpose. I always thought this was business, this was the way to confront th_hing, this was the way to take the foe by the throat. And I know Herber_hought so too.
  • We ordered something rather special for dinner, with a bottle of somethin_imilarly out of the common way, in order that our minds might be fortifie_or the occasion, and we might come well up to the mark. Dinner over, w_roduced a bundle of pens, a copious supply of ink, and a goodly show o_riting and blotting paper. For there was something very comfortable in havin_lenty of stationery.
  • I would then take a sheet of paper, and write across the top of it, in a nea_and, the heading, “Memorandum of Pip’s debts”; with Barnard’s Inn and th_ate very carefully added. Herbert would also take a sheet of paper, and writ_cross it with similar formalities, “Memorandum of Herbert’s debts.”
  • Each of us would then refer to a confused heap of papers at his side, whic_ad been thrown into drawers, worn into holes in pockets, half burnt i_ighting candles, stuck for weeks into the looking-glass, and otherwis_amaged. The sound of our pens going refreshed us exceedingly, insomuch that _ometimes found it difficult to distinguish between this edifying busines_roceeding and actually paying the money. In point of meritorious character,
  • the two things seemed about equal.
  • When we had written a little while, I would ask Herbert how he got on? Herber_robably would have been scratching his head in a most rueful manner at th_ight of his accumulating figures.
  • “They are mounting up, Handel,” Herbert would say; “upon my life, they ar_ounting up.”
  • “Be firm, Herbert,” I would retort, plying my own pen with great assiduity.
  • “Look the thing in the face. Look into your affairs. Stare them out o_ountenance.”
  • “So I would, Handel, only they are staring me out of countenance.”
  • However, my determined manner would have its effect, and Herbert would fall t_ork again. After a time he would give up once more, on the plea that he ha_ot got Cobbs’s bill, or Lobbs’s, or Nobbs’s, as the case might be.
  • “Then, Herbert, estimate; estimate it in round numbers, and put it down.”
  • “What a fellow of resource you are!” my friend would reply, with admiration.
  • “Really your business powers are very remarkable.”
  • I thought so too. I established with myself, on these occasions, th_eputation of a first-rate man of business,—prompt, decisive, energetic,
  • clear, cool-headed. When I had got all my responsibilities down upon my list,
  • I compared each with the bill, and ticked it off. My self-approval when _icked an entry was quite a luxurious sensation. When I had no more ticks t_ake, I folded all my bills up uniformly, docketed each on the back, and tie_he whole into a symmetrical bundle. Then I did the same for Herbert (wh_odestly said he had not my administrative genius), and felt that I ha_rought his affairs into a focus for him.
  • My business habits had one other bright feature, which I called “leaving _argin.” For example; supposing Herbert’s debts to be one hundred and sixty-
  • four pounds four-and-twopence, I would say, “Leave a margin, and put them dow_t two hundred.” Or, supposing my own to be four times as much, I would leav_ margin, and put them down at seven hundred. I had the highest opinion of th_isdom of this same Margin, but I am bound to acknowledge that on lookin_ack, I deem it to have been an expensive device. For, we always ran into ne_ebt immediately, to the full extent of the margin, and sometimes, in th_ense of freedom and solvency it imparted, got pretty far on into anothe_argin.
  • But there was a calm, a rest, a virtuous hush, consequent on thes_xaminations of our affairs that gave me, for the time, an admirable opinio_f myself. Soothed by my exertions, my method, and Herbert’s compliments, _ould sit with his symmetrical bundle and my own on the table before me amon_he stationary, and feel like a Bank of some sort, rather than a privat_ndividual.
  • We shut our outer door on these solemn occasions, in order that we might no_e interrupted. I had fallen into my serene state one evening, when we heard _etter dropped through the slit in the said door, and fall on the ground.
  • “It’s for you, Handel,” said Herbert, going out and coming back with it, “an_ hope there is nothing the matter.” This was in allusion to its heavy blac_eal and border.
  • The letter was signed Trabb & Co., and its contents were simply, that I was a_onored sir, and that they begged to inform me that Mrs. J. Gargery ha_eparted this life on Monday last at twenty minutes past six in the evening,
  • and that my attendance was requested at the interment on Monday next at thre_’clock in the afternoon.