“I write this by request of Mr. Gargery, for to let you know that he is goin_o London in company with Mr. Wopsle and would be glad if agreeable to b_llowed to see you. He would call at Barnard’s Hotel Tuesday morning at nin_’clock, when if not agreeable please leave word. Your poor sister is much th_ame as when you left. We talk of you in the kitchen every night, and wonde_hat you are saying and doing. If now considered in the light of a liberty, excuse it for the love of poor old days. No more, dear Mr. Pip, from your eve_bliged, and affectionate servant,
“P.S. He wishes me most particular to write what larks. He says you wil_nderstand. I hope and do not doubt it will be agreeable to see him, eve_hough a gentleman, for you had ever a good heart, and he is a worthy, worth_an. I have read him all, excepting only the last little sentence, and h_ishes me most particular to write again what larks.”
I received this letter by the post on Monday morning, and therefore it_ppointment was for next day. Let me confess exactly with what feelings _ooked forward to Joe’s coming.
Not with pleasure, though I was bound to him by so many ties; no; wit_onsiderable disturbance, some mortification, and a keen sense of incongruity.
If I could have kept him away by paying money, I certainly would have pai_oney. My greatest reassurance was that he was coming to Barnard’s Inn, not t_ammersmith, and consequently would not fall in Bentley Drummle’s way. I ha_ittle objection to his being seen by Herbert or his father, for both of who_ had a respect; but I had the sharpest sensitiveness as to his being seen b_rummle, whom I held in contempt. So, throughout life, our worst weaknesse_nd meannesses are usually committed for the sake of the people whom we mos_espise.
I had begun to be always decorating the chambers in some quite unnecessary an_nappropriate way or other, and very expensive those wrestles with Barnar_roved to be. By this time, the rooms were vastly different from what I ha_ound them, and I enjoyed the honor of occupying a few prominent pages in th_ooks of a neighboring upholsterer. I had got on so fast of late, that I ha_ven started a boy in boots,—top boots,—in bondage and slavery to whom I migh_ave been said to pass my days. For, after I had made the monster (out of th_efuse of my washerwoman’s family), and had clothed him with a blue coat, canary waistcoat, white cravat, creamy breeches, and the boots alread_entioned, I had to find him a little to do and a great deal to eat; and wit_oth of those horrible requirements he haunted my existence.
This avenging phantom was ordered to be on duty at eight on Tuesday morning i_he hall, (it was two feet square, as charged for floorcloth,) and Herber_uggested certain things for breakfast that he thought Joe would like. While _elt sincerely obliged to him for being so interested and considerate, I ha_n odd half-provoked sense of suspicion upon me, that if Joe had been comin_o see him, he wouldn’t have been quite so brisk about it.
However, I came into town on the Monday night to be ready for Joe, and I go_p early in the morning, and caused the sitting-room and breakfast-table t_ssume their most splendid appearance. Unfortunately the morning was drizzly, and an angel could not have concealed the fact that Barnard was shedding soot_ears outside the window, like some weak giant of a Sweep.
As the time approached I should have liked to run away, but the Avenge_ursuant to orders was in the hall, and presently I heard Joe on th_taircase. I knew it was Joe, by his clumsy manner of coming up stairs,—hi_tate boots being always too big for him,— and by the time it took him to rea_he names on the other floors in the course of his ascent. When at last h_topped outside our door, I could hear his finger tracing over the painte_etters of my name, and I afterwards distinctly heard him breathing in at th_eyhole. Finally he gave a faint single rap, and Pepper—such was th_ompromising name of the avenging boy—announced “Mr. Gargery!” I thought h_ever would have done wiping his feet, and that I must have gone out to lif_im off the mat, but at last he came in.
“Joe, how are you, Joe?”
“Pip, how air you, Pip?”
With his good honest face all glowing and shining, and his hat put down on th_loor between us, he caught both my hands and worked them straight up an_own, as if I had been the last-patented Pump.
“I am glad to see you, Joe. Give me your hat.”
But Joe, taking it up carefully with both hands, like a bird’s-nest with egg_n it, wouldn’t hear of parting with that piece of property, and persisted i_tanding talking over it in a most uncomfortable way.
“Which you have that growed,” said Joe, “and that swelled, and that gentle- folked;” Joe considered a little before he discovered this word; “as to b_ure you are a honor to your king and country.”
“And you, Joe, look wonderfully well.”
“Thank God,” said Joe, “I’m ekerval to most. And your sister, she’s no wors_han she were. And Biddy, she’s ever right and ready. And all friends is n_ackerder, if not no forarder. ‘Ceptin Wopsle; he’s had a drop.”
All this time (still with both hands taking great care of the bird’s-nest), Joe was rolling his eyes round and round the room, and round and round th_lowered pattern of my dressing-gown.
“Had a drop, Joe?”
“Why yes,” said Joe, lowering his voice, “he’s left the Church and went int_he playacting. Which the playacting have likeways brought him to London alon_ith me. And his wish were,” said Joe, getting the bird’s-nest under his lef_rm for the moment, and groping in it for an egg with his right; “if n_ffence, as I would ‘and you that.”
I took what Joe gave me, and found it to be the crumpled play-bill of a smal_etropolitan theatre, announcing the first appearance, in that very week, of “the celebrated Provincial Amateur of Roscian renown, whose unique performanc_n the highest tragic walk of our National Bard has lately occasioned so grea_ sensation in local dramatic circles.”
“Were you at his performance, Joe?” I inquired.
“I were,” said Joe, with emphasis and solemnity.
“Was there a great sensation?”
“Why,” said Joe, “yes, there certainly were a peck of orange-peel. Partickle_hen he see the ghost. Though I put it to yourself, sir, whether it wer_alc’lated to keep a man up to his work with a good hart, to be continiwall_utting in betwixt him and the Ghost with “Amen!” A man may have had _isfortun’ and been in the Church,” said Joe, lowering his voice to a_rgumentative and feeling tone, “but that is no reason why you should put hi_ut at such a time. Which I meantersay, if the ghost of a man’s own fathe_annot be allowed to claim his attention, what can, Sir? Still more, when hi_ourning ‘at is unfortunately made so small as that the weight of the blac_eathers brings it off, try to keep it on how you may.”
A ghost-seeing effect in Joe’s own countenance informed me that Herbert ha_ntered the room. So, I presented Joe to Herbert, who held out his hand; bu_oe backed from it, and held on by the bird’s-nest.
“Your servant, Sir,” said Joe, “which I hope as you and Pip”—here his eye fel_n the Avenger, who was putting some toast on table, and so plainly denoted a_ntention to make that young gentleman one of the family, that I frowned i_own and confused him more— “I meantersay, you two gentlemen,—which I hope a_ou get your elths in this close spot? For the present may be a werry goo_nn, according to London opinions,” said Joe, confidentially, “and I believ_ts character do stand i; but I wouldn’t keep a pig in it myself,—not in th_ase that I wished him to fatten wholesome and to eat with a meller flavor o_im.”
Having borne this flattering testimony to the merits of our dwelling-place, and having incidentally shown this tendency to call me “sir,” Joe, bein_nvited to sit down to table, looked all round the room for a suitable spot o_hich to deposit his hat,—as if it were only on some very few rare substance_n nature that it could find a resting place,—and ultimately stood it on a_xtreme corner of the chimney-piece, from which it ever afterwards fell off a_ntervals.
“Do you take tea, or coffee, Mr. Gargery?” asked Herbert, who always preside_f a morning.
“Thankee, Sir,” said Joe, stiff from head to foot, “I’ll take whichever i_ost agreeable to yourself.”
“What do you say to coffee?”
“Thankee, Sir,” returned Joe, evidently dispirited by the proposal, “since yo_re so kind as make chice of coffee, I will not run contrairy to your ow_pinions. But don’t you never find it a little ‘eating?”
“Say tea then,” said Herbert, pouring it out.
Here Joe’s hat tumbled off the mantel-piece, and he started out of his chai_nd picked it up, and fitted it to the same exact spot. As if it were a_bsolute point of good breeding that it should tumble off again soon.
“When did you come to town, Mr. Gargery?”
“Were it yesterday afternoon?” said Joe, after coughing behind his hand, as i_e had had time to catch the whooping-cough since he came. “No it were not.
Yes it were. Yes. It were yesterday afternoon” (with an appearance of mingle_isdom, relief, and strict impartiality).
“Have you seen anything of London yet?”
“Why, yes, Sir,” said Joe, “me and Wopsle went off straight to look at th_lacking Ware’us. But we didn’t find that it come up to its likeness in th_ed bills at the shop doors; which I meantersay,” added Joe, in an explanator_anner, “as it is there drawd too architectooralooral.”
I really believe Joe would have prolonged this word (mightily expressive to m_ind of some architecture that I know) into a perfect Chorus, but for hi_ttention being providentially attracted by his hat, which was toppling.
Indeed, it demanded from him a constant attention, and a quickness of eye an_and, very like that exacted by wicket-keeping. He made extraordinary pla_ith it, and showed the greatest skill; now, rushing at it and catching i_eatly as it dropped; now, merely stopping it midway, beating it up, an_umoring it in various parts of the room and against a good deal of th_attern of the paper on the wall, before he felt it safe to close with it; finally splashing it into the slop-basin, where I took the liberty of layin_ands upon it.
As to his shirt-collar, and his coat-collar, they were perplexing to reflec_pon,—insoluble mysteries both. Why should a man scrape himself to tha_xtent, before he could consider himself full dressed? Why should he suppos_t necessary to be purified by suffering for his holiday clothes? Then he fel_nto such unaccountable fits of meditation, with his fork midway between hi_late and his mouth; had his eyes attracted in such strange directions; wa_fflicted with such remarkable coughs; sat so far from the table, and droppe_o much more than he ate, and pretended that he hadn’t dropped it; that I wa_eartily glad when Herbert left us for the City.
I had neither the good sense nor the good feeling to know that this was all m_ault, and that if I had been easier with Joe, Joe would have been easier wit_e. I felt impatient of him and out of temper with him; in which condition h_eaped coals of fire on my head.
“Us two being now alone, sir,”—began Joe.
“Joe,” I interrupted, pettishly, “how can you call me, sir?”
Joe looked at me for a single instant with something faintly like reproach.
Utterly preposterous as his cravat was, and as his collars were, I wa_onscious of a sort of dignity in the look.
“Us two being now alone,” resumed Joe, “and me having the intentions an_bilities to stay not many minutes more, I will now conclude—leastway_egin—to mention what have led to my having had the present honor. For was i_ot,” said Joe, with his old air of lucid exposition, “that my only wish wer_o be useful to you, I should not have had the honor of breaking wittles i_he company and abode of gentlemen.”
I was so unwilling to see the look again, that I made no remonstrance agains_his tone.
“Well, sir,” pursued Joe, “this is how it were. I were at the Bargemen t’othe_ight, Pip;”—whenever he subsided into affection, he called me Pip, an_henever he relapsed into politeness he called me sir; “when there come up i_is shay-cart, Pumblechook. Which that same identical,” said Joe, going down _ew track, “do comb my ‘air the wrong way sometimes, awful, by giving out u_nd down town as it were him which ever had your infant companionation an_ere looked upon as a playfellow by yourself.”
“Nonsense. It was you, Joe.”
“Which I fully believed it were, Pip,” said Joe, slightly tossing his head, “though it signify little now, sir. Well, Pip; this same identical, which hi_anners is given to blusterous, come to me at the Bargemen (wot a pipe and _int of beer do give refreshment to the workingman, sir, and do not ove_timilate), and his word were, ‘Joseph, Miss Havisham she wish to speak t_ou.’”
“Miss Havisham, Joe?”
“‘She wish,’ were Pumblechook’s word, ‘to speak to you.’” Joe sat and rolle_is eyes at the ceiling.
“Yes, Joe? Go on, please.”
“Next day, sir,” said Joe, looking at me as if I were a long way off, “havin_leaned myself, I go and I see Miss A.”
“Miss A., Joe? Miss Havisham?”
“Which I say, sir,” replied Joe, with an air of legal formality, as if he wer_aking his will, “Miss A., or otherways Havisham. Her expression air then a_ollering: ‘Mr. Gargery. You air in correspondence with Mr. Pip?’ Having had _etter from you, I were able to say ‘I am.’ (When I married your sister, sir, I said ‘I will;’ and when I answered your friend, Pip, I said ‘I am.’) ‘Woul_ou tell him, then,’ said she, ‘that which Estella has come home and would b_lad to see him.’”
I felt my face fire up as I looked at Joe. I hope one remote cause of it_iring may have been my consciousness that if I had known his errand, I shoul_ave given him more encouragement.
“Biddy,” pursued Joe, “when I got home and asked her fur to write the messag_o you, a little hung back. Biddy says, “I know he will be very glad to hav_t by word of mouth, it is holiday time, you want to see him, go!” I have no_oncluded, sir,” said Joe, rising from his chair, “and, Pip, I wish you eve_ell and ever prospering to a greater and a greater height.”
“But you are not going now, Joe?”
“Yes I am,” said Joe.
“But you are coming back to dinner, Joe?”
“No I am not,” said Joe.
Our eyes met, and all the “ir” melted out of that manly heart as he gave m_is hand.
“Pip, dear old chap, life is made of ever so many partings welded together, a_ may say, and one man’s a blacksmith, and one’s a whitesmith, and one’s _oldsmith, and one’s a coppersmith. Diwisions among such must come, and mus_e met as they come. If there’s been any fault at all to-day, it’s mine. Yo_nd me is not two figures to be together in London; nor yet anywheres else bu_hat is private, and beknown, and understood among friends. It ain’t that I a_roud, but that I want to be right, as you shall never see me no more in thes_lothes. I’m wrong in these clothes. I’m wrong out of the forge, the kitchen, or off th’ meshes. You won’t find half so much fault in me if you think of m_n my forge dress, with my hammer in my hand, or even my pipe. You won’t fin_alf so much fault in me if, supposing as you should ever wish to see me, yo_ome and put your head in at the forge window and see Joe the blacksmith, there, at the old anvil, in the old burnt apron, sticking to the old work. I’_wful dull, but I hope I’ve beat out something nigh the rights of this a_ast. And so God bless you, dear old Pip, old chap, God bless you!”
I had not been mistaken in my fancy that there was a simple dignity in him.
The fashion of his dress could no more come in its way when he spoke thes_ords than it could come in its way in Heaven. He touched me gently on th_orehead, and went out. As soon as I could recover myself sufficiently, _urried out after him and looked for him in the neighboring streets; but h_as gone.