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Charles Dickens > Great Expectations > Chapter 13

Great Expectations

Chapter 13

It was a trial to my feelings, on the next day but one, to see Joe

arraying himself in his Sunday clothes to accompany me to Miss

Havisham's. However, as he thought his court-suit necessary to the

occasion, it was not for me tell him that he looked far better in

his working dress; the rather, because I knew he made himself so

dreadfully uncomfortable, entirely on my account, and that it was

for me he pulled up his shirt-collar so very high behind, that it

made the hair on the crown of his head stand up like a tuft of


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 with our fine ladies" - a way of putting the case, from

which Joe appeared inclined to augur the worst. The forge was shut

up for the day, and Joe inscribed in chalk upon the door (as it was

his custom to do on the very rare occasions when he was not at

work) the monosyllable HOUT, accompanied by a sketch of an arrow

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 pair of pattens, a spare shawl, and an umbrella,

though it was a fine bright day. I am not quite clear whether these

articles were carried penitentially or ostentatiously; but, I

rather think they were displayed as articles of property - much as

Cleopatra or any other sovereign lady on the Rampage might exhibit

her wealth in a pageant or procession.

When we came to Pumblechook's, my sister bounced in and left us. As

it was almost noon, Joe and I held straight on to Miss Havisham's

house. Estella opened the gate as usual, and, the moment she

appeared, Joe took his hat off and stood weighing it by the brim in

both his hands: as if he had some urgent reason 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 so well. I followed next to her, and Joe came last. When I

looked back at Joe in the long passage, he was still weighing his

hat with the greatest care, and was 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 and conducted 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


I could hardly have imagined dear old Joe looking so unlike himself

or so like some extraordinary bird; standing, as he did,

speechless, with his tuft of feathers 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 in addressing Me instead of Miss Havisham.

"Which I meantersay, Pip," Joe now observed in a manner that was at

once expressive 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


"Well!" said Miss Havisham. "And you have reared the boy, with the

intention of taking him for your apprentice; is that so, Mr.


"You know, Pip," replied Joe, "as you and me were ever friends, and

it were looked for'ard to betwixt us, as being calc'lated to lead

to larks. Not but what, Pip, if you had ever made objections to the

business - such as its being open to black and sut, or such-like -

not but what they would have been attended to, don't you see?"

"Has the boy," said Miss Havisham, "ever made any objection? Does

he like the trade?"

"Which it is well beknown to yourself, Pip," returned Joe,

strengthening his former mixture of argumentation, confidence, and

politeness, "that it were the wish of your own hart." (I saw the

idea suddenly break upon him that he would adapt his epitaph to the

occasion, before he went on to say) "And there weren't no objection

on your part, and Pip it were the great wish of your heart!"

It was quite in vain for me to endeavour to make him sensible that

he ought to speak 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 are here." With which he took them out, and gave

them, not to Miss Havisham, but to me. I am afraid I was ashamed of

the dear good fellow - I know I was ashamed of 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

hand and gave them to Miss Havisham.

"You expected," said Miss Havisham, as she looked them over, "no

premium with the boy?"

"Joe!" I remonstrated; for he made no reply at all. "Why don't you


"Pip," returned Joe, cutting me short as if he were hurt, "which I

meantersay that were not a question requiring a answer betwixt

yourself and me, and which you know the answer to be full well No.

You know it to be No, Pip, and wherefore should I say it?"

Miss Havisham glanced at him as if she understood what he really

was, better than I had thought possible, seeing what he was there;

and took up a little bag 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,


As if he were absolutely out of his mind with the wonder awakened

in him by her strange figure and the strange room, Joe, even at

this pass, persisted in addressing me.

"This is wery liberal on your part, Pip," said Joe, "and it is as

such received and grateful welcome, though never looked for, far

nor near nor nowheres. And now, old chap," said Joe, conveying to

me a sensation, first of burning and then of freezing, for I felt

as if that familiar expression were applied to Miss Havisham; "and

now, old chap, may we do our duty! May you and me do our duty, both

on us by one and another, and by them which your liberal present -

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, until he 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 them twice.

"Good-bye, 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 a distinct emphatic voice, "The boy has been a good boy

here, and that is his reward. 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 know that when he did get out he was steadily proceeding

up-stairs instead of coming down, and was deaf to all remonstrances

until I went after him and laid hold 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 up against a

wall, and said to me, "Astonishing!" And there he remained so long,

saying "Astonishing" at intervals, so often, that I began to think

his senses were never coming back. At length he prolonged his

remark into "Pip, I do assure you this is as-TONishing!" and so, by

degrees, became conversational and able to walk away.

I have reason to think that Joe's intellects were brightened by the

encounter they had passed through, and that on our way to

Pumblechook's he invented a subtle and deep design. My reason is to

be found in what took place in Mr. Pumblechook's parlour: where, on

our presenting ourselves, my sister sat in conference with that

detested seedsman.

"Well?" cried my sister, addressing us both at once. "And what's

happened to you? I wonder you condescend to come back to such poor

society as this, I am sure I do!"

"Miss Havisham," said Joe, with a fixed look at me, like an effort

of remembrance, "made it wery partick'ler that we should give her -

were it compliments or respects, Pip?"

"Compliments," I said.

"Which that were my own belief," answered Joe - "her compliments to

Mrs. J. Gargery--"

"Much good they'll do me!" observed my sister; but rather gratified


"And wishing," pursued Joe, with another fixed look at me, like

another effort of remembrance, "that the state of Miss Havisham's

elth were sitch as would have - 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.

"She might have had the politeness to send that message at first,

but it's better late 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 armchair, and nodded at her and at the fire, as if he had

known all about it beforehand.

"And how much have you got?" asked my sister, laughing. Positively,


"What would present company say to ten pound?" demanded Joe.

"They'd say," returned my sister, curtly, "pretty well. Not too

much, but pretty well."

"It's more than that, then," said Joe.

That fearful Impostor, Pumblechook, immediately nodded, and said,

as he rubbed the 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 in you! 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

patronizing laugh, "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 my sister; "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

your merits (as I said when my opinion was asked), and I wish you

joy of the money!"

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 right of patronage that left all his

former criminality far behind.

"Now you see, Joseph and wife," said Pumblechook, as he took me by

the arm above the elbow, "I am one of them that always go right

through with what they've begun. This boy must be bound, out of

hand. That's my way. Bound out of hand."

"Goodness knows, Uncle Pumblechook," said my sister (grasping the

money), "we're deeply beholden to you."

"Never mind me, Mum, returned that diabolical corn-chandler. "A

pleasure's a pleasure, all the world over. But this boy, you know;

we must have him bound. I said I'd see to it - to tell you the


The Justices were sitting in the Town Hall near at hand, and we at

once went over to have me bound apprentice to Joe in the

Magisterial presence. I say, we went over, but I was pushed over by

Pumblechook, exactly as if I had that moment picked a pocket or

fired a rick; indeed, it was the general impression in Court that I

had been taken red-handed, for, as Pumblechook shoved me before him

through the crowd, I heard some people say, "What's he done?" and

others, "He's a young 'un, too, but looks bad, don't he? One person

of mild and benevolent aspect even gave me a tract ornamented with

a woodcut of a malevolent young man fitted up with a perfect

sausage-shop of fetters, and entitled, TO BE READ IN MY CELL.

The Hall was a queer place, I thought, with higher pews in it than

a church - and with people hanging over the pews looking on - and

with mighty Justices (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 - and with some shining black

portraits on the walls, which my unartistic eye regarded as a

composition of hardbake and sticking-plaister. Here, in a corner,

my 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 the scaffold, to have those little preliminaries disposed


When we had come out again, and had got rid of the boys who had

been put into great spirits by the expectation of seeing me

publicly tortured, and who were much disappointed to find that my

friends were merely rallying round me, we went back to

Pumblechook's. And there my sister became so excited by the

twenty-five guineas, that nothing would serve her but we must have

a dinner out of that windfall, at the Blue Boar, and that

Pumblechook must go over in his chaise-cart, and bring the Hubbles

and Mr. Wopsle.

It was agreed to be done; and a most melancholy day I passed. For,

it inscrutably 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 all asked me from time to time - in short,

whenever they had nothing else to do - why I didn't enjoy myself.

And what could I possibly do then, but say I was enjoying myself -

when I wasn't?

However, they were grown up and had their own way, and they made

the most of it. That swindling Pumblechook, exalted into the

beneficent contriver of the whole occasion, actually took the top

of the table; and, when he addressed them on the subject of my

being bound, and had fiendishly congratulated them on 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 form of my indentures appeared to contemplate as next to

inevitable, he placed me standing on a chair beside him, to

illustrate his remarks.

My only other remembrances of the great festival are, That they

wouldn't let me go to sleep, but whenever they saw me dropping off,

woke me up and told me to enjoy myself. That, rather late in the

evening Mr. Wopsle gave us Collins's ode, and threw his bloodstain'd

sword in thunder down, with such effect, that a waiter came in and

said, "The Commercials underneath sent up their compliments, and it

wasn't the Tumblers' Arms." That, they were all in excellent

spirits on the road home, and sang O Lady Fair! Mr. Wopsle taking

the bass, and asserting with a tremendously strong voice (in reply

to the inquisitive 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 man with his white locks flowing,

and that he was upon the whole the weakest pilgrim going.

Finally, I remember that when I got into my little bedroom I was

truly wretched, and had a strong conviction on me that I should

never like Joe's trade. I had liked it once, but once was not now.

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