I was three-and-twenty years of age. Not another word had I heard to enlighte_e on the subject of my expectations, and my twenty-third birthday was a wee_one. We had left Barnard’s Inn more than a year, and lived in the Temple. Ou_hambers were in Garden-court, down by the river.
Mr. Pocket and I had for some time parted company as to our origina_elations, though we continued on the best terms. Notwithstanding my inabilit_o settle to anything,—which I hope arose out of the restless and incomplet_enure on which I held my means,—I had a taste for reading, and read regularl_o many hours a day. That matter of Herbert’s was still progressing, an_verything with me was as I have brought it down to the close of the las_receding chapter.
Business had taken Herbert on a journey to Marseilles. I was alone, and had _ull sense of being alone. Dispirited and anxious, long hoping that to-morro_r next week would clear my way, and long disappointed, I sadly missed th_heerful face and ready response of my friend.
It was wretched weather; stormy and wet, stormy and wet; and mud, mud, mud, deep in all the streets. Day after day, a vast heavy veil had been drivin_ver London from the East, and it drove still, as if in the East there were a_ternity of cloud and wind. So furious had been the gusts, that high building_n town had had the lead stripped off their roofs; and in the country, tree_ad been torn up, and sails of windmills carried away; and gloomy accounts ha_ome in from the coast, of shipwreck and death. Violent blasts of rain ha_ccompanied these rages of wind, and the day just closed as I sat down to rea_ad been the worst of all.
Alterations have been made in that part of the Temple since that time, and i_as not now so lonely a character as it had then, nor is it so exposed to th_iver. We lived at the top of the last house, and the wind rushing up th_iver shook the house that night, like discharges of cannon, or breakings of _ea. When the rain came with it and dashed against the windows, I thought, raising my eyes to them as they rocked, that I might have fancied myself in _torm-beaten lighthouse. Occasionally, the smoke came rolling down the chimne_s though it could not bear to go out into such a night; and when I set th_oors open and looked down the staircase, the staircase lamps were blown out; and when I shaded my face with my hands and looked through the black windows (opening them ever so little was out of the question in the teeth of such win_nd rain), I saw that the lamps in the court were blown out, and that th_amps on the bridges and the shore were shuddering, and that the coal-fires i_arges on the river were being carried away before the wind like red-ho_plashes in the rain.
I read with my watch upon the table, purposing to close my book at eleve_’clock. As I shut it, Saint Paul’s, and all the many church-clocks in th_ity—some leading, some accompanying, some following—struck that hour. Th_ound was curiously flawed by the wind; and I was listening, and thinking ho_he wind assailed and tore it, when I heard a footstep on the stair.
What nervous folly made me start, and awfully connect it with the footstep o_y dead sister, matters not. It was past in a moment, and I listened again, and heard the footstep stumble in coming on. Remembering then, that th_taircase-lights were blown out, I took up my reading-lamp and went out to th_tair-head. Whoever was below had stopped on seeing my lamp, for all wa_uiet.
“There is some one down there, is there not?” I called out, looking down.
“Yes,” said a voice from the darkness beneath.
“What floor do you want?”
“The top. Mr. Pip.”
“That is my name.—There is nothing the matter?”
“Nothing the matter,” returned the voice. And the man came on.
I stood with my lamp held out over the stair-rail, and he came slowly withi_ts light. It was a shaded lamp, to shine upon a book, and its circle of ligh_as very contracted; so that he was in it for a mere instant, and then out o_t. In the instant, I had seen a face that was strange to me, looking up wit_n incomprehensible air of being touched and pleased by the sight of me.
Moving the lamp as the man moved, I made out that he was substantiall_ressed, but roughly, like a voyager by sea. That he had long iron-gray hair.
That his age was about sixty. That he was a muscular man, strong on his legs, and that he was browned and hardened by exposure to weather. As he ascende_he last stair or two, and the light of my lamp included us both, I saw, wit_ stupid kind of amazement, that he was holding out both his hands to me.
“Pray what is your business?” I asked him.
“My business?” he repeated, pausing. “Ah! Yes. I will explain my business, b_our leave.”
“Do you wish to come in?”
“Yes,” he replied; “I wish to come in, master.”
I had asked him the question inhospitably enough, for I resented the sort o_right and gratified recognition that still shone in his face. I resented it, because it seemed to imply that he expected me to respond to it. But I too_im into the room I had just left, and, having set the lamp on the table, asked him as civilly as I could to explain himself.
He looked about him with the strangest air,—an air of wondering pleasure, a_f he had some part in the things he admired,—and he pulled off a rough oute_oat, and his hat. Then, I saw that his head was furrowed and bald, and tha_he long iron-gray hair grew only on its sides. But, I saw nothing that in th_east explained him. On the contrary, I saw him next moment, once more holdin_ut both his hands to me.
“What do you mean?” said I, half suspecting him to be mad.
He stopped in his looking at me, and slowly rubbed his right hand over hi_ead. “It’s disapinting to a man,” he said, in a coarse broken voice, “arte_aving looked for’ard so distant, and come so fur; but you’re not to blame fo_hat,—neither on us is to blame for that. I’ll speak in half a minute. Give m_alf a minute, please.”
He sat down on a chair that stood before the fire, and covered his forehea_ith his large brown veinous hands. I looked at him attentively then, an_ecoiled a little from him; but I did not know him.
“There’s no one nigh,” said he, looking over his shoulder; “is there?”
“Why do you, a stranger coming into my rooms at this time of the night, as_hat question?” said I.
“You’re a game one,” he returned, shaking his head at me with a deliberat_ffection, at once most unintelligible and most exasperating; “I’m glad you’v_row’d up, a game one! But don’t catch hold of me. You’d be sorry arterward_o have done it.”
I relinquished the intention he had detected, for I knew him! Even yet I coul_ot recall a single feature, but I knew him! If the wind and the rain ha_riven away the intervening years, had scattered all the intervening objects, had swept us to the churchyard where we first stood face to face on suc_ifferent levels, I could not have known my convict more distinctly than _new him now as he sat in the chair before the fire. No need to take a fil_rom his pocket and show it to me; no need to take the handkerchief from hi_eck and twist it round his head; no need to hug himself with both his arms, and take a shivering turn across the room, looking back at me for recognition.
I knew him before he gave me one of those aids, though, a moment before, I ha_ot been conscious of remotely suspecting his identity.
He came back to where I stood, and again held out both his hands. Not knowin_hat to do,—for, in my astonishment I had lost my self-possession,—_eluctantly gave him my hands. He grasped them heartily, raised them to hi_ips, kissed them, and still held them.
“You acted noble, my boy,” said he. “Noble, Pip! And I have never forgot it!”
At a change in his manner as if he were even going to embrace me, I laid _and upon his breast and put him away.
“Stay!” said I. “Keep off! If you are grateful to me for what I did when I wa_ little child, I hope you have shown your gratitude by mending your way o_ife. If you have come here to thank me, it was not necessary. Still, howeve_ou have found me out, there must be something good in the feeling that ha_rought you here, and I will not repulse you; but surely you must understan_hat—I—”
My attention was so attracted by the singularity of his fixed look at me, tha_he words died away on my tongue.
“You was a saying,” he observed, when we had confronted one another i_ilence, “that surely I must understand. What, surely must I understand?”
“That I cannot wish to renew that chance intercourse with you of long ago, under these different circumstances. I am glad to believe you have repente_nd recovered yourself. I am glad to tell you so. I am glad that, thinking _eserve to be thanked, you have come to thank me. But our ways are differen_ays, none the less. You are wet, and you look weary. Will you drink somethin_efore you go?”
He had replaced his neckerchief loosely, and had stood, keenly observant o_e, biting a long end of it. “I think,” he answered, still with the end at hi_outh and still observant of me, “that I will drink (I thank you) afore I go.”
There was a tray ready on a side-table. I brought it to the table near th_ire, and asked him what he would have? He touched one of the bottles withou_ooking at it or speaking, and I made him some hot rum and water. I tried t_eep my hand steady while I did so, but his look at me as he leaned back i_is chair with the long draggled end of his neckerchief between hi_eeth—evidently forgotten—made my hand very difficult to master. When at las_ put the glass to him, I saw with amazement that his eyes were full of tears.
Up to this time I had remained standing, not to disguise that I wished hi_one. But I was softened by the softened aspect of the man, and felt a touc_f reproach. “I hope,” said I, hurriedly putting something into a glass fo_yself, and drawing a chair to the table, “that you will not think I spok_arshly to you just now. I had no intention of doing it, and I am sorry for i_f I did. I wish you well and happy!”
As I put my glass to my lips, he glanced with surprise at the end of hi_eckerchief, dropping from his mouth when he opened it, and stretched out hi_and. I gave him mine, and then he drank, and drew his sleeve across his eye_nd forehead.
“How are you living?” I asked him.
“I’ve been a sheep-farmer, stock-breeder, other trades besides, away in th_ew world,” said he; “many a thousand mile of stormy water off from this.”
“I hope you have done well?”
“I’ve done wonderfully well. There’s others went out alonger me as has don_ell too, but no man has done nigh as well as me. I’m famous for it.”
“I am glad to hear it.”
“I hope to hear you say so, my dear boy.”
Without stopping to try to understand those words or the tone in which the_ere spoken, I turned off to a point that had just come into my mind.
“Have you ever seen a messenger you once sent to me,” I inquired, “since h_ndertook that trust?”
“Never set eyes upon him. I warn’t likely to it.”
“He came faithfully, and he brought me the two one-pound notes. I was a poo_oy then, as you know, and to a poor boy they were a little fortune. But, lik_ou, I have done well since, and you must let me pay them back. You can pu_hem to some other poor boy’s use.” I took out my purse.
He watched me as I laid my purse upon the table and opened it, and he watche_e as I separated two one-pound notes from its contents. They were clean an_ew, and I spread them out and handed them over to him. Still watching me, h_aid them one upon the other, folded them long-wise, gave them a twist, se_ire to them at the lamp, and dropped the ashes into the tray.
“May I make so bold,” he said then, with a smile that was like a frown, an_ith a frown that was like a smile, “as ask you how you have done well, sinc_ou and me was out on them lone shivering marshes?”
He emptied his glass, got up, and stood at the side of the fire, with hi_eavy brown hand on the mantel-shelf. He put a foot up to the bars, to dry an_arm it, and the wet boot began to steam; but, he neither looked at it, nor a_he fire, but steadily looked at me. It was only now that I began to tremble.
When my lips had parted, and had shaped some words that were without sound, _orced myself to tell him (though I could not do it distinctly), that I ha_een chosen to succeed to some property.
“Might a mere warmint ask what property?” said he.
I faltered, “I don’t know.”
“Might a mere warmint ask whose property?” said he.
I faltered again, “I don’t know.”
“Could I make a guess, I wonder,” said the Convict, “at your income since yo_ome of age! As to the first figure now. Five?”
With my heart beating like a heavy hammer of disordered action, I rose out o_y chair, and stood with my hand upon the back of it, looking wildly at him.
“Concerning a guardian,” he went on. “There ought to have been some guardian, or such-like, whiles you was a minor. Some lawyer, maybe. As to the firs_etter of that lawyer’s name now. Would it be J?”
All the truth of my position came flashing on me; and its disappointments, dangers, disgraces, consequences of all kinds, rushed in in such a multitud_hat I was borne down by them and had to struggle for every breath I drew.
“Put it,” he resumed, “as the employer of that lawyer whose name begun with _, and might be Jaggers,—put it as he had come over sea to Portsmouth, and ha_anded there, and had wanted to come on to you. ‘However, you have found m_ut,’ you says just now. Well! However, did I find you out? Why, I wrote fro_ortsmouth to a person in London, for particulars of your address. Tha_erson’s name? Why, Wemmick.”
I could not have spoken one word, though it had been to save my life. I stood, with a hand on the chair-back and a hand on my breast, where I seemed to b_uffocating,—I stood so, looking wildly at him, until I grasped at the chair, when the room began to surge and turn. He caught me, drew me to the sofa, pu_e up against the cushions, and bent on one knee before me, bringing the fac_hat I now well remembered, and that I shuddered at, very near to mine.
“Yes, Pip, dear boy, I’ve made a gentleman on you! It’s me wot has done it! _wore that time, sure as ever I earned a guinea, that guinea should go to you.
I swore arterwards, sure as ever I spec’lated and got rich, you should ge_ich. I lived rough, that you should live smooth; I worked hard, that yo_hould be above work. What odds, dear boy? Do I tell it, fur you to feel _bligation? Not a bit. I tell it, fur you to know as that there hunte_unghill dog wot you kep life in, got his head so high that he could make _entleman,—and, Pip, you’re him!”
The abhorrence in which I held the man, the dread I had of him, the repugnanc_ith which I shrank from him, could not have been exceeded if he had been som_errible beast.
“Look’ee here, Pip. I’m your second father. You’re my son,—more to me nor an_on. I’ve put away money, only for you to spend. When I was a hired-ou_hepherd in a solitary hut, not seeing no faces but faces of sheep till I hal_orgot wot men’s and women’s faces wos like, I see yourn. I drops my knif_any a time in that hut when I was a-eating my dinner or my supper, and _ays, ‘Here’s the boy again, a looking at me whiles I eats and drinks!’ I se_ou there a many times, as plain as ever I see you on them misty marshes.
‘Lord strike me dead!’ I says each time,—and I goes out in the air to say i_nder the open heavens,—‘but wot, if I gets liberty and money, I’ll make tha_oy a gentleman!’ And I done it. Why, look at you, dear boy! Look at thes_ere lodgings o’yourn, fit for a lord! A lord? Ah! You shall show money wit_ords for wagers, and beat ’em!”
In his heat and triumph, and in his knowledge that I had been nearly fainting, he did not remark on my reception of all this. It was the one grain of relie_ had.
“Look’ee here!” he went on, taking my watch out of my pocket, and turnin_owards him a ring on my finger, while I recoiled from his touch as if he ha_een a snake, “a gold ‘un and a beauty: that’s a gentleman’s, I hope! _iamond all set round with rubies; that’s a gentleman’s, I hope! Look at you_inen; fine and beautiful! Look at your clothes; better ain’t to be got! An_our books too,” turning his eyes round the room, “mounting up, on thei_helves, by hundreds! And you read ’em; don’t you? I see you’d been a readin_f ’em when I come in. Ha, ha, ha! You shall read ’em to me, dear boy! And i_hey’re in foreign languages wot I don’t understand, I shall be just as prou_s if I did.”
Again he took both my hands and put them to his lips, while my blood ran col_ithin me.
“Don’t you mind talking, Pip,” said he, after again drawing his sleeve ove_is eyes and forehead, as the click came in his throat which I wel_emembered,—and he was all the more horrible to me that he was so much i_arnest; “you can’t do better nor keep quiet, dear boy. You ain’t looke_lowly forward to this as I have; you wosn’t prepared for this as I wos. Bu_idn’t you never think it might be me?”
“O no, no, no,” I returned, “Never, never!”
“Well, you see it wos me, and single-handed. Never a soul in it but my ow_elf and Mr. Jaggers.”
“Was there no one else?” I asked.
“No,” said he, with a glance of surprise: “who else should there be? And, dea_oy, how good looking you have growed! There’s bright eyes somewheres—eh?
Isn’t there bright eyes somewheres, wot you love the thoughts on?”
O Estella, Estella!
“They shall be yourn, dear boy, if money can buy ’em. Not that a gentlema_ike you, so well set up as you, can’t win ’em off of his own game; but mone_hall back you! Let me finish wot I was a telling you, dear boy. From tha_here hut and that there hiring-out, I got money left me by my master (whic_ied, and had been the same as me), and got my liberty and went for myself. I_very single thing I went for, I went for you. ‘Lord strike a blight upon it,’ I says, wotever it was I went for, ‘if it ain’t for him!’ It all prospere_onderful. As I giv’ you to understand just now, I’m famous for it. It was th_oney left me, and the gains of the first few year wot I sent home to Mr.
Jaggers—all for you—when he first come arter you, agreeable to my letter.”
O that he had never come! That he had left me at the forge,—far fro_ontented, yet, by comparison happy!
“And then, dear boy, it was a recompense to me, look’ee here, to know i_ecret that I was making a gentleman. The blood horses of them colonists migh_ling up the dust over me as I was walking; what do I say? I says to myself, ‘I’m making a better gentleman nor ever you’ll be!’ When one of ’em says t_nother, ‘He was a convict, a few year ago, and is a ignorant common fello_ow, for all he’s lucky,’ what do I say? I says to myself, ‘If I ain’t _entleman, nor yet ain’t got no learning, I’m the owner of such. All on yo_wns stock and land; which on you owns a brought-up London gentleman?’ Thi_ay I kep myself a going. And this way I held steady afore my mind that _ould for certain come one day and see my boy, and make myself known to him, on his own ground.”
He laid his hand on my shoulder. I shuddered at the thought that for anythin_ knew, his hand might be stained with blood.
“It warn’t easy, Pip, for me to leave them parts, nor yet it warn’t safe. Bu_ held to it, and the harder it was, the stronger I held, for I wa_etermined, and my mind firm made up. At last I done it. Dear boy, I done it!”
I tried to collect my thoughts, but I was stunned. Throughout, I had seemed t_yself to attend more to the wind and the rain than to him; even now, I coul_ot separate his voice from those voices, though those were loud and his wa_ilent.
“Where will you put me?” he asked, presently. “I must be put somewheres, dea_oy.”
“To sleep?” said I.
“Yes. And to sleep long and sound,” he answered; “for I’ve been sea-tossed an_ea-washed, months and months.”
“My friend and companion,” said I, rising from the sofa, “is absent; you mus_ave his room.”
“He won’t come back to-morrow; will he?”
“No,” said I, answering almost mechanically, in spite of my utmost efforts; “not to-morrow.”
“Because, look’ee here, dear boy,” he said, dropping his voice, and laying _ong finger on my breast in an impressive manner, “caution is necessary.”
“How do you mean? Caution?”
“By G - , it’s Death!”
“I was sent for life. It’s death to come back. There’s been overmuch comin_ack of late years, and I should of a certainty be hanged if took.”
Nothing was needed but this; the wretched man, after loading wretched me wit_is gold and silver chains for years, had risked his life to come to me, and _eld it there in my keeping! If I had loved him instead of abhorring him; if _ad been attracted to him by the strongest admiration and affection, instea_f shrinking from him with the strongest repugnance; it could have been n_orse. On the contrary, it would have been better, for his preservation woul_hen have naturally and tenderly addressed my heart.
My first care was to close the shutters, so that no light might be seen fro_ithout, and then to close and make fast the doors. While I did so, he stoo_t the table drinking rum and eating biscuit; and when I saw him thus engaged, I saw my convict on the marshes at his meal again. It almost seemed to me a_f he must stoop down presently, to file at his leg.
When I had gone into Herbert’s room, and had shut off any other communicatio_etween it and the staircase than through the room in which our conversatio_ad been held, I asked him if he would go to bed? He said yes, but asked m_or some of my “gentleman’s linen” to put on in the morning. I brought it out, and laid it ready for him, and my blood again ran cold when he again took m_y both hands to give me good night.
I got away from him, without knowing how I did it, and mended the fire in th_oom where we had been together, and sat down by it, afraid to go to bed. Fo_n hour or more, I remained too stunned to think; and it was not until I bega_o think, that I began fully to know how wrecked I was, and how the ship i_hich I had sailed was gone to pieces.
Miss Havisham’s intentions towards me, all a mere dream; Estella not designe_or me; I only suffered in Satis House as a convenience, a sting for th_reedy relations, a model with a mechanical heart to practise on when no othe_ractice was at hand; those were the first smarts I had. But, sharpest an_eepest pain of all,—it was for the convict, guilty of I knew not what crimes, and liable to be taken out of those rooms where I sat thinking, and hanged a_he Old Bailey door, that I had deserted Joe.
I would not have gone back to Joe now, I would not have gone back to Bidd_ow, for any consideration; simply, I suppose, because my sense of my ow_orthless conduct to them was greater than every consideration. No wisdom o_arth could have given me the comfort that I should have derived from thei_implicity and fidelity; but I could never, never, undo what I had done.
In every rage of wind and rush of rain, I heard pursuers. Twice, I could hav_worn there was a knocking and whispering at the outer door. With these fear_pon me, I began either to imagine or recall that I had had mysteriou_arnings of this man’s approach. That, for weeks gone by, I had passed face_n the streets which I had thought like his. That these likenesses had grow_ore numerous, as he, coming over the sea, had drawn nearer. That his wicke_pirit had somehow sent these messengers to mine, and that now on this storm_ight he was as good as his word, and with me.
Crowding up with these reflections came the reflection that I had seen hi_ith my childish eyes to be a desperately violent man; that I had heard tha_ther convict reiterate that he had tried to murder him; that I had seen hi_own in the ditch tearing and fighting like a wild beast. Out of suc_emembrances I brought into the light of the fire a half-formed terror that i_ight not be safe to be shut up there with him in the dead of the wil_olitary night. This dilated until it filled the room, and impelled me to tak_ candle and go in and look at my dreadful burden.
He had rolled a handkerchief round his head, and his face was set and lowerin_n his sleep. But he was asleep, and quietly too, though he had a pistol lyin_n the pillow. Assured of this, I softly removed the key to the outside of hi_oor, and turned it on him before I again sat down by the fire. Gradually _lipped from the chair and lay on the floor. When I awoke without havin_arted in my sleep with the perception of my wretchedness, the clocks of th_astward churches were striking five, the candles were wasted out, the fir_as dead, and the wind and rain intensified the thick black darkness.
This is the end of the second stage of Pip’s expectations.