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Chapter 3

  • The pale young gentleman and I stood contemplating one another in Barnard’_nn, until we both burst out laughing. “The idea of its being you!” said he.
  • “The idea of its being you!” said I. And then we contemplated one anothe_fresh, and laughed again. “Well!” said the pale young gentleman, reaching ou_is hand good-humoredly, “it’s all over now, I hope, and it will b_agnanimous in you if you’ll forgive me for having knocked you about so.”
  • I derived from this speech that Mr. Herbert Pocket (for Herbert was the pal_oung gentleman’s name) still rather confounded his intention with hi_xecution. But I made a modest reply, and we shook hands warmly.
  • “You hadn’t come into your good fortune at that time?” said Herbert Pocket.
  • “No,” said I.
  • “No,” he acquiesced: “I heard it had happened very lately. I was rather on th_ookout for good fortune then.”
  • “Indeed?”
  • “Yes. Miss Havisham had sent for me, to see if she could take a fancy to me.
  • But she couldn’t,—at all events, she didn’t.”
  • I thought it polite to remark that I was surprised to hear that.
  • “Bad taste,” said Herbert, laughing, “but a fact. Yes, she had sent for me o_ trial visit, and if I had come out of it successfully, I suppose I shoul_ave been provided for; perhaps I should have been what-you-may-called it t_stella.”
  • “What’s that?” I asked, with sudden gravity.
  • He was arranging his fruit in plates while we talked, which divided hi_ttention, and was the cause of his having made this lapse of a word.
  • “Affianced,” he explained, still busy with the fruit. “Betrothed. Engaged.
  • What’s-his-named. Any word of that sort.”
  • “How did you bear your disappointment?” I asked.
  • “Pooh!” said he, “I didn’t care much for it. She’s a Tartar.”
  • “Miss Havisham?”
  • “I don’t say no to that, but I meant Estella. That girl’s hard and haughty an_apricious to the last degree, and has been brought up by Miss Havisham t_reak revenge on all the male sex.”
  • “What relation is she to Miss Havisham?”
  • “None,” said he. “Only adopted.”
  • “Why should she wreak revenge on all the male sex? What revenge?”
  • “Lord, Mr. Pip!” said he. “Don’t you know?”
  • “No,” said I.
  • “Dear me! It’s quite a story, and shall be saved till dinner-time. And now le_e take the liberty of asking you a question. How did you come there, tha_ay?”
  • I told him, and he was attentive until I had finished, and then burst ou_aughing again, and asked me if I was sore afterwards? I didn’t ask him if h_as, for my conviction on that point was perfectly established.
  • “Mr. Jaggers is your guardian, I understand?” he went on.
  • “Yes.”
  • “You know he is Miss Havisham’s man of business and solicitor, and has he_onfidence when nobody else has?”
  • This was bringing me (I felt) towards dangerous ground. I answered with _onstraint I made no attempt to disguise, that I had seen Mr. Jaggers in Mis_avisham’s house on the very day of our combat, but never at any other time, and that I believed he had no recollection of having ever seen me there.
  • “He was so obliging as to suggest my father for your tutor, and he called o_y father to propose it. Of course he knew about my father from his connectio_ith Miss Havisham. My father is Miss Havisham’s cousin; not that that implie_amiliar intercourse between them, for he is a bad courtier and will no_ropitiate her.”
  • Herbert Pocket had a frank and easy way with him that was very taking. I ha_ever seen any one then, and I have never seen any one since, who mor_trongly expressed to me, in every look and tone, a natural incapacity to d_nything secret and mean. There was something wonderfully hopeful about hi_eneral air, and something that at the same time whispered to me he woul_ever be very successful or rich. I don’t know how this was. I became imbue_ith the notion on that first occasion before we sat down to dinner, but _annot define by what means.
  • He was still a pale young gentleman, and had a certain conquered languor abou_im in the midst of his spirits and briskness, that did not seem indicative o_atural strength. He had not a handsome face, but it was better than handsome: being extremely amiable and cheerful. His figure was a little ungainly, as i_he days when my knuckles had taken such liberties with it, but it looked a_f it would always be light and young. Whether Mr. Trabb’s local work woul_ave sat more gracefully on him than on me, may be a question; but I a_onscious that he carried off his rather old clothes much better than _arried off my new suit.
  • As he was so communicative, I felt that reserve on my part would be a ba_eturn unsuited to our years. I therefore told him my small story, and lai_tress on my being forbidden to inquire who my benefactor was. I furthe_entioned that as I had been brought up a blacksmith in a country place, an_new very little of the ways of politeness, I would take it as a grea_indness in him if he would give me a hint whenever he saw me at a loss o_oing wrong.
  • “With pleasure,” said he, “though I venture to prophesy that you’ll want ver_ew hints. I dare say we shall be often together, and I should like to banis_ny needless restraint between us. Will you do me the favour to begin at onc_o call me by my Christian name, Herbert?”
  • I thanked him and said I would. I informed him in exchange that my Christia_ame was Philip.
  • “I don’t take to Philip,” said he, smiling, “for it sounds like a moral bo_ut of the spelling-book, who was so lazy that he fell into a pond, or so fa_hat he couldn’t see out of his eyes, or so avaricious that he locked up hi_ake till the mice ate it, or so determined to go a bird’s-nesting that he go_imself eaten by bears who lived handy in the neighborhood. I tell you what _hould like. We are so harmonious, and you have been a blacksmith,—– would yo_ind it?”
  • “I shouldn’t mind anything that you propose,” I answered, “but I don’_nderstand you.”
  • “Would you mind Handel for a familiar name? There’s a charming piece of musi_y Handel, called the Harmonious Blacksmith.”
  • “I should like it very much.”
  • “Then, my dear Handel,” said he, turning round as the door opened, “here i_he dinner, and I must beg of you to take the top of the table, because th_inner is of your providing.”
  • This I would not hear of, so he took the top, and I faced him. It was a nic_ittle dinner,—seemed to me then a very Lord Mayor’s Feast,—and it acquire_dditional relish from being eaten under those independent circumstances, wit_o old people by, and with London all around us. This again was heightened b_ certain gypsy character that set the banquet off; for while the table was, as Mr. Pumblechook might have said, the lap of luxury,—being entirel_urnished forth from the coffee-house,—the circumjacent region of sitting-roo_as of a comparatively pastureless and shifty character; imposing on th_aiter the wandering habits of putting the covers on the floor (where he fel_ver them), the melted butter in the arm-chair, the bread on the bookshelves, the cheese in the coal-scuttle, and the boiled fowl into my bed in the nex_oom,— where I found much of its parsley and butter in a state of congelatio_hen I retired for the night. All this made the feast delightful, and when th_aiter was not there to watch me, my pleasure was without alloy.
  • We had made some progress in the dinner, when I reminded Herbert of hi_romise to tell me about Miss Havisham.
  • “True,” he replied. “I’ll redeem it at once. Let me introduce the topic, Handel, by mentioning that in London it is not the custom to put the knife i_he mouth,—for fear of accidents,—and that while the fork is reserved for tha_se, it is not put further in than necessary. It is scarcely worth mentioning, only it’s as well to do as other people do. Also, the spoon is not generall_sed over-hand, but under. This has two advantages. You get at your mout_etter (which after all is the object), and you save a good deal of th_ttitude of opening oysters, on the part of the right elbow.”
  • He offered these friendly suggestions in such a lively way, that we bot_aughed and I scarcely blushed.
  • “Now,” he pursued, “concerning Miss Havisham. Miss Havisham, you must know, was a spoilt child. Her mother died when she was a baby, and her father denie_er nothing. Her father was a country gentleman down in your part of th_orld, and was a brewer. I don’t know why it should be a crack thing to be _rewer; but it is indisputable that while you cannot possibly be genteel an_ake, you may be as genteel as never was and brew. You see it every day.”
  • “Yet a gentleman may not keep a public-house; may he?” said I.
  • “Not on any account,” returned Herbert; “but a public-house may keep _entleman. Well! Mr. Havisham was very rich and very proud. So was hi_aughter.”
  • “Miss Havisham was an only child?” I hazarded.
  • “Stop a moment, I am coming to that. No, she was not an only child; she had _alf-brother. Her father privately married again—his cook, I rather think.”
  • “I thought he was proud,” said I.
  • “My good Handel, so he was. He married his second wife privately, because h_as proud, and in course of time she died. When she was dead, I apprehend h_irst told his daughter what he had done, and then the son became a part o_he family, residing in the house you are acquainted with. As the son grew _oung man, he turned out riotous, extravagant, undutiful,—altogether bad. A_ast his father disinherited him; but he softened when he was dying, and lef_im well off, though not nearly so well off as Miss Havisham. —Take anothe_lass of wine, and excuse my mentioning that society as a body does not expec_ne to be so strictly conscientious in emptying one’s glass, as to turn i_ottom upwards with the rim on one’s nose.”
  • I had been doing this, in an excess of attention to his recital. I thanke_im, and apologized. He said, “Not at all,” and resumed.
  • “Miss Havisham was now an heiress, and you may suppose was looked after as _reat match. Her half-brother had now ample means again, but what with debt_nd what with new madness wasted them most fearfully again. There wer_tronger differences between him and her than there had been between him an_is father, and it is suspected that he cherished a deep and mortal grudg_gainst her as having influenced the father’s anger. Now, I come to the crue_art of the story,—merely breaking off, my dear Handel, to remark that _inner-napkin will not go into a tumbler.”
  • Why I was trying to pack mine into my tumbler, I am wholly unable to say. _nly know that I found myself, with a perseverance worthy of a much bette_ause, making the most strenuous exertions to compress it within those limits.
  • Again I thanked him and apologized, and again he said in the cheerfulles_anner, “Not at all, I am sure!” and resumed.
  • “There appeared upon the scene—say at the races, or the public balls, o_nywhere else you like—a certain man, who made love to Miss Havisham. I neve_aw him (for this happened five-and-twenty years ago, before you and I were, Handel), but I have heard my father mention that he was a showy man, and th_ind of man for the purpose. But that he was not to be, without ignorance o_rejudice, mistaken for a gentleman, my father most strongly asseverates; because it is a principle of his that no man who was not a true gentleman a_eart ever was, since the world began, a true gentleman in manner. He says, n_arnish can hide the grain of the wood; and that the more varnish you put on, the more the grain will express itself. Well! This man pursued Miss Havisha_losely, and professed to be devoted to her. I believe she had not shown muc_usceptibility up to that time; but all the susceptibility she possesse_ertainly came out then, and she passionately loved him. There is no doub_hat she perfectly idolized him. He practised on her affection in tha_ystematic way, that he got great sums of money from her, and he induced he_o buy her brother out of a share in the brewery (which had been weakly lef_im by his father) at an immense price, on the plea that when he was he_usband he must hold and manage it all. Your guardian was not at that time i_iss Havisham’s counsels, and she was too haughty and too much in love to b_dvised by any one. Her relations were poor and scheming, with the exceptio_f my father; he was poor enough, but not time-serving or jealous. The onl_ndependent one among them, he warned her that she was doing too much for thi_an, and was placing herself too unreservedly in his power. She took the firs_pportunity of angrily ordering my father out of the house, in his presence, and my father has never seen her since.”
  • I thought of her having said, “Matthew will come and see me at last when I a_aid dead upon that table;” and I asked Herbert whether his father was s_nveterate against her?
  • “It’s not that,” said he, “but she charged him, in the presence of he_ntended husband, with being disappointed in the hope of fawning upon her fo_is own advancement, and, if he were to go to her now, it would look true—eve_o him—and even to her. To return to the man and make an end of him. Th_arriage day was fixed, the wedding dresses were bought, the wedding tour wa_lanned out, the wedding guests were invited. The day came, but not th_ridegroom. He wrote her a letter—”
  • “Which she received,” I struck in, “when she was dressing for her marriage? A_wenty minutes to nine?”
  • “At the hour and minute,” said Herbert, nodding, “at which she afterward_topped all the clocks. What was in it, further than that it most heartlessl_roke the marriage off, I can’t tell you, because I don’t know. When sh_ecovered from a bad illness that she had, she laid the whole place waste, a_ou have seen it, and she has never since looked upon the light of day.”
  • “Is that all the story?” I asked, after considering it.
  • “All I know of it; and indeed I only know so much, through piecing it out fo_yself; for my father always avoids it, and, even when Miss Havisham invite_e to go there, told me no more of it than it was absolutely requisite _hould understand. But I have forgotten one thing. It has been supposed tha_he man to whom she gave her misplaced confidence acted throughout in concer_ith her half-brother; that it was a conspiracy between them; and that the_hared the profits.”
  • “I wonder he didn’t marry her and get all the property,” said I.
  • “He may have been married already, and her cruel mortification may have been _art of her half-brother’s scheme,” said Herbert. “Mind! I don’t know that.”
  • “What became of the two men?” I asked, after again considering the subject.
  • “They fell into deeper shame and degradation—if there can be deeper—and ruin.”
  • “Are they alive now?”
  • “I don’t know.”
  • “You said just now that Estella was not related to Miss Havisham, but adopted.
  • When adopted?”
  • Herbert shrugged his shoulders. “There has always been an Estella, since _ave heard of a Miss Havisham. I know no more. And now, Handel,” said he, finally throwing off the story as it were, “there is a perfectly ope_nderstanding between us. All that I know about Miss Havisham, you know.”
  • “And all that I know,” I retorted, “you know.”
  • “I fully believe it. So there can be no competition or perplexity between yo_nd me. And as to the condition on which you hold your advancement i_ife,—namely, that you are not to inquire or discuss to whom you owe it,—yo_ay be very sure that it will never be encroached upon, or even approached, b_e, or by any one belonging to me.”
  • In truth, he said this with so much delicacy, that I felt the subject don_ith, even though I should be under his father’s roof for years and years t_ome. Yet he said it with so much meaning, too, that I felt he as perfectl_nderstood Miss Havisham to be my benefactress, as I understood the fac_yself.
  • It had not occurred to me before, that he had led up to the theme for th_urpose of clearing it out of our way; but we were so much the lighter an_asier for having broached it, that I now perceived this to be the case. W_ere very gay and sociable, and I asked him, in the course of conversation, what he was? He replied, “A capitalist,—an Insurer of Ships.” I suppose he sa_e glancing about the room in search of some tokens of Shipping, or capital, for he added, “In the City.”
  • I had grand ideas of the wealth and importance of Insurers of Ships in th_ity, and I began to think with awe of having laid a young Insurer on hi_ack, blackened his enterprising eye, and cut his responsible head open. Bu_gain there came upon me, for my relief, that odd impression that Herber_ocket would never be very successful or rich.
  • “I shall not rest satisfied with merely employing my capital in insurin_hips. I shall buy up some good Life Assurance shares, and cut into th_irection. I shall also do a little in the mining way. None of these thing_ill interfere with my chartering a few thousand tons on my own account. _hink I shall trade,” said he, leaning back in his chair, “to the East Indies, for silks, shawls, spices, dyes, drugs, and precious woods. It’s a_nteresting trade.”
  • “And the profits are large?” said I.
  • “Tremendous!” said he.
  • I wavered again, and began to think here were greater expectations than m_wn.
  • “I think I shall trade, also,” said he, putting his thumbs in his waist- coa_ockets, “to the West Indies, for sugar, tobacco, and rum. Also to Ceylon, specially for elephants’ tusks.”
  • “You will want a good many ships,” said I.
  • “A perfect fleet,” said he.
  • Quite overpowered by the magnificence of these transactions, I asked him wher_he ships he insured mostly traded to at present?
  • “I haven’t begun insuring yet,” he replied. “I am looking about me.”
  • Somehow, that pursuit seemed more in keeping with Barnard’s Inn. I said (in _one of conviction), “Ah-h!”
  • “Yes. I am in a counting-house, and looking about me.”
  • “Is a counting-house profitable?” I asked.
  • “To—do you mean to the young fellow who’s in it?” he asked, in reply.
  • “Yes; to you.”
  • “Why, n-no; not to me.” He said this with the air of one carefully reckonin_p and striking a balance. “Not directly profitable. That is, it doesn’t pa_e anything, and I have to—keep myself.”
  • This certainly had not a profitable appearance, and I shook my head as if _ould imply that it would be difficult to lay by much accumulative capita_rom such a source of income.
  • “But the thing is,” said Herbert Pocket, “that you look about you. That’s th_rand thing. You are in a counting-house, you know, and you look about you.”
  • It struck me as a singular implication that you couldn’t be out of a counting- house, you know, and look about you; but I silently deferred to hi_xperience.
  • “Then the time comes,” said Herbert, “when you see your opening. And you g_n, and you swoop upon it and you make your capital, and then there you are!
  • When you have once made your capital, you have nothing to do but employ it.”
  • This was very like his way of conducting that encounter in the garden; ver_ike. His manner of bearing his poverty, too, exactly corresponded to hi_anner of bearing that defeat. It seemed to me that he took all blows an_uffets now with just the same air as he had taken mine then. It was eviden_hat he had nothing around him but the simplest necessaries, for everythin_hat I remarked upon turned out to have been sent in on my account from th_offee-house or somewhere else.
  • Yet, having already made his fortune in his own mind, he was so unassumin_ith it that I felt quite grateful to him for not being puffed up. It was _leasant addition to his naturally pleasant ways, and we got on famously. I_he evening we went out for a walk in the streets, and went half-price to th_heatre; and next day we went to church at Westminster Abbey, and in th_fternoon we walked in the Parks; and I wondered who shod all the horse_here, and wished Joe did.
  • On a moderate computation, it was many months, that Sunday, since I had lef_oe and Biddy. The space interposed between myself and them partook of tha_xpansion, and our marshes were any distance off. That I could have been a_ur old church in my old church-going clothes, on the very last Sunday tha_ver was, seemed a combination of impossibilities, geographical and social, solar and lunar. Yet in the London streets so crowded with people and s_rilliantly lighted in the dusk of evening, there were depressing hints o_eproaches for that I had put the poor old kitchen at home so far away; and i_he dead of night, the footsteps of some incapable impostor of a porte_ooning about Barnard’s Inn, under pretence of watching it, fell hollow on m_eart.
  • On the Monday morning at a quarter before nine, Herbert went to the counting- house to report himself,—to look about him, too, I suppose,—and I bore hi_ompany. He was to come away in an hour or two to attend me to Hammersmith, and I was to wait about for him. It appeared to me that the eggs from whic_oung Insurers were hatched were incubated in dust and heat, like the eggs o_striches, judging from the places to which those incipient giants repaired o_ Monday morning. Nor did the counting-house where Herbert assisted, show i_y eyes as at all a good Observatory; being a back second floor up a yard, o_ grimy presence in all particulars, and with a look into another back secon_loor, rather than a look out.
  • I waited about until it was noon, and I went upon ‘Change, and I saw fluey me_itting there under the bills about shipping, whom I took to be grea_erchants, though I couldn’t understand why they should all be out of spirits.
  • When Herbert came, we went and had lunch at a celebrated house which I the_uite venerated, but now believe to have been the most abject superstition i_urope, and where I could not help noticing, even then, that there was muc_ore gravy on the tablecloths and knives and waiters’ clothes, than in th_teaks. This collation disposed of at a moderate price (considering th_rease, which was not charged for), we went back to Barnard’s Inn and got m_ittle portmanteau, and then took coach for Hammersmith. We arrived there a_wo or three o’clock in the afternoon, and had very little way to walk to Mr.
  • Pocket’s house. Lifting the latch of a gate, we passed direct into a littl_arden overlooking the river, where Mr. Pocket’s children were playing about.
  • And unless I deceive myself on a point where my interests or prepossession_re certainly not concerned, I saw that Mr. and Mrs. Pocket’s children wer_ot growing up or being brought up, but were tumbling up.
  • Mrs. Pocket was sitting on a garden chair under a tree, reading, with her leg_pon another garden chair; and Mrs. Pocket’s two nurse-maids were lookin_bout them while the children played. “Mamma,” said Herbert, “this is youn_r. Pip.” Upon which Mrs. Pocket received me with an appearance of amiabl_ignity.
  • “Master Alick and Miss Jane,” cried one of the nurses to two of the children, “if you go a bouncing up against them bushes you’ll fall over into the rive_nd be drownded, and what’ll your pa say then?”
  • At the same time this nurse picked up Mrs. Pocket’s handkerchief, and said, “If that don’t make six times you’ve dropped it, Mum!” Upon which Mrs. Pocke_aughed and said, “Thank you, Flopson,” and settling herself in one chai_nly, resumed her book. Her countenance immediately assumed a knitted an_ntent expression as if she had been reading for a week, but before she coul_ave read half a dozen lines, she fixed her eyes upon me, and said, “I hop_our mamma is quite well?” This unexpected inquiry put me into such _ifficulty that I began saying in the absurdest way that if there had been an_uch person I had no doubt she would have been quite well and would have bee_ery much obliged and would have sent her compliments, when the nurse came t_y rescue.
  • “Well!” she cried, picking up the pocket-handkerchief, “if that don’t mak_even times! What are you a doing of this afternoon, Mum!” Mrs. Pocke_eceived her property, at first with a look of unutterable surprise as if sh_ad never seen it before, and then with a laugh of recognition, and said, “Thank you, Flopson,” and forgot me, and went on reading.
  • I found, now I had leisure to count them, that there were no fewer than si_ittle Pockets present, in various stages of tumbling up. I had scarcel_rrived at the total when a seventh was heard, as in the region of air, wailing dolefully.
  • “If there ain’t Baby!” said Flopson, appearing to think it most surprising.
  • “Make haste up, Millers.”
  • Millers, who was the other nurse, retired into the house, and by degrees th_hild’s wailing was hushed and stopped, as if it were a young ventriloquis_ith something in its mouth. Mrs. Pocket read all the time, and I was curiou_o know what the book could be.
  • We were waiting, I supposed, for Mr. Pocket to come out to us; at any rate w_aited there, and so I had an opportunity of observing the remarkable famil_henomenon that whenever any of the children strayed near Mrs. Pocket in thei_lay, they always tripped themselves up and tumbled over her,—always very muc_o her momentary astonishment, and their own more enduring lamentation. I wa_t a loss to account for this surprising circumstance, and could not hel_iving my mind to speculations about it, until by and by Millers came dow_ith the baby, which baby was handed to Flopson, which Flopson was handing i_o Mrs. Pocket, when she too went fairly head foremost over Mrs. Pocket, bab_nd all, and was caught by Herbert and myself.
  • “Gracious me, Flopson!” said Mrs. Pocket, looking off her book for a moment, “everybody’s tumbling!”
  • “Gracious you, indeed, Mum!” returned Flopson, very red in the face; “wha_ave you got there?”
  • “I got here, Flopson?” asked Mrs. Pocket.
  • “Why, if it ain’t your footstool!” cried Flopson. “And if you keep it unde_our skirts like that, who’s to help tumbling? Here! Take the baby, Mum, an_ive me your book.”
  • Mrs. Pocket acted on the advice, and inexpertly danced the infant a little i_er lap, while the other children played about it. This had lasted but a ver_hort time, when Mrs. Pocket issued summary orders that they were all to b_aken into the house for a nap. Thus I made the second discovery on that firs_ccasion, that the nurture of the little Pockets consisted of alternatel_umbling up and lying down.
  • Under these circumstances, when Flopson and Millers had got the children int_he house, like a little flock of sheep, and Mr. Pocket came out of it to mak_y acquaintance, I was not much surprised to find that Mr. Pocket was _entleman with a rather perplexed expression of face, and with his very gra_air disordered on his head, as if he didn’t quite see his way to puttin_nything straight.