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Charles Dickens > Great Expectations > Chapter 33

Great Expectations

Chapter 33

In her furred travelling-dress, Estella seemed more delicately

beautiful than she had ever seemed yet, even in my eyes. Her manner

was more winning than she had cared to let it be to me before, and

I thought I saw Miss Havisham's influence in the change.

We stood in the Inn Yard while she pointed out her luggage to me,

and when it was all collected I remembered - having forgotten

everything but herself in the meanwhile - that I knew nothing of

her destination

"I am going to Richmond," she told me. "Our lesson is, that there

are two Richmonds, one in Surrey and one in Yorkshire, and that mine

is the Surrey Richmond. The distance is ten miles. I am to have a

carriage, and you are to take me. This is my purse, and you are to

pay my charges out of it. Oh, you must take the purse! We have no

choice, you and I, but to obey our instructions. We are not free to

follow our own devices, you and I."

As she looked at me in giving me the purse, I hoped there was an

inner meaning in her words. She said them slightingly, but not with


"A carriage will have to be sent for, Estella. Will you rest here a


"Yes, I am to rest here a little, and I am to drink some tea, and

you are to take care of me the while."

She drew her arm through mine, as if it must be done, and I

requested a waiter who had been staring at the coach like a man who

had never seen such a thing in his life, to show us a private

sitting-room. Upon that, he pulled out a napkin, as if it were a

magic clue without which he couldn't find the way up-stairs, and

led us to the black hole of the establishment: fitted up with a

diminishing mirror (quite a superfluous article considering the

hole's proportions), an anchovy sauce-cruet, and somebody's

pattens. On my objecting to this retreat, he took us into another

room with a dinner-table for thirty, and in the grate a scorched

leaf of a copy-book under a bushel of coal-dust. Having looked at

this extinct conflagration and shaken his head, he took my order:

which, proving to be merely "Some tea for the lady," sent him out

of the room in a very low state of mind.

I was, and I am, sensible that the air of this chamber, in its

strong combination of stable with soup-stock, might have led one to

infer that the coaching department was not doing well, and that the

enterprising proprietor was boiling down the horses for the

refreshment department. Yet the room was all in all to me, Estella

being in it. I thought that with her I could have been happy there

for life. (I was not at all happy there at the time, observe, and I

knew it well.)

"Where are you going to, at Richmond?" I asked Estella.

"I am going to live," said she, "at a great expense, with a lady

there, who has the power - or says she has - of taking me about,

and introducing me, and showing people to me and showing me to


"I suppose you will be glad of variety and admiration?"

"Yes, I suppose so."

She answered so carelessly, that I said, "You speak of yourself as

if you were some one else."

"Where did you learn how I speak of others? Come, come," said

Estella, smiling delightfully, "you must not expect me to go to

school to you; I must talk in my own way. How do you thrive with

Mr. Pocket?"

"I live quite pleasantly there; at least--" It appeared to me that

I was losing a chance.

"At least?" repeated Estella.

"As pleasantly as I could anywhere, away from you."

"You silly boy," said Estella, quite composedly, "how can you talk

such nonsense? Your friend Mr. Matthew, I believe, is superior to

the rest of his family?"

"Very superior indeed. He is nobody's enemy--"

"Don't add but his own," interposed Estella, "for I hate that class

of man. But he really is disinterested, and above small jealousy

and spite, I have heard?"

"I am sure I have every reason to say so."

"You have not every reason to say so of the rest of his people,"

said Estella, nodding at me with an expression of face that was at

once grave and rallying, "for they beset Miss Havisham with reports

and insinuations to your disadvantage. They watch you, misrepresent

you, write letters about you (anonymous sometimes), and you are the

torment and the occupation of their lives. You can scarcely realize

to yourself the hatred those people feel for you."

"They do me no harm, I hope?"

Instead of answering, Estella burst out laughing. This was very

singular to me, and I looked at her in considerable perplexity.

When she left off - and she had not laughed languidly, but with

real enjoyment - I said, in my diffident way with her:

"I hope I may suppose that you would not be amused if they did me

any harm."

"No, no you may be sure of that," said Estella. "You may be certain

that I laugh because they fail. Oh, those people with Miss

Havisham, and the tortures they undergo!" She laughed again, and

even now when she had told me why, her laughter was very singular

to me, for I could not doubt its being genuine, and yet it seemed

too much for the occasion. I thought there must really be something

more here than I knew; she saw the thought in my mind, and answered


"It is not easy for even you." said Estella, "to know what

satisfaction it gives me to see those people thwarted, or what an

enjoyable sense of the ridiculous I have when they are made

ridiculous. For you were not brought up in that strange house from

a mere baby. - I was. You had not your little wits sharpened by

their intriguing against you, suppressed and defenceless, under the

mask of sympathy and pity and what not that is soft and soothing. -

I had. You did not gradually open your round childish eyes wider

and wider to the discovery of that impostor of a woman who

calculates her stores of peace of mind for when she wakes up in the

night. - I did."

It was no laughing matter with Estella now, nor was she summoning

these remembrances from any shallow place. I would not have been

the cause of that look of hers, for all my expectations in a heap.

"Two things I can tell you," said Estella. "First, notwithstanding

the proverb that constant dropping will wear away a stone, you may

set your mind at rest that these people never will - never would,

in hundred years - impair your ground with Miss Havisham, in any

particular, great or small. Second, I am beholden to you as the

cause of their being so busy and so mean in vain, and there is my

hand upon it."

As she gave it me playfully - for her darker mood had been but

momentary - I held it and put it to my lips. "You ridiculous boy,"

said Estella, "will you never take warning? Or do you kiss my hand

in the same spirit in which I once let you kiss my cheek?"

"What spirit was that?" said I.

"I must think a moment A spirit of contempt for the fawners and


"If I say yes, may I kiss the cheek again?"

"You should have asked before you touched the hand. But, yes, if

you like."

I leaned down, and her calm face was like a statue's. "Now," said

Estella, gliding away the instant I touched her cheek, "you are to

take care that I have some tea, and you are to take me to


Her reverting to this tone as if our association were forced upon

us and we were mere puppets, gave me pain; but everything in our

intercourse did give me pain. Whatever her tone with me happened to

be, I could put no trust in it, and build no hope on it; and yet I

went on against trust and against hope. Why repeat it a thousand

times? So it always was.

I rang for the tea, and the waiter, reappearing with his magic

clue, brought in by degrees some fifty adjuncts to that refreshment

but of tea not a glimpse. A teaboard, cups and saucers, plates,

knives and forks (including carvers), spoons (various),

saltcellars, a meek little muffin confined with the utmost

precaution under a strong iron cover, Moses in the bullrushes

typified by a soft bit of butter in a quantity of parsley, a pale

loaf with a powdered head, two proof impressions of the bars of the

kitchen fire-place on triangular bits of bread, and ultimately a

fat family urn: which the waiter staggered in with, expressing in

his countenance burden and suffering. After a prolonged absence at

this stage of the entertainment, he at length came back with a

casket of precious appearance containing twigs. These I steeped in

hot water, and so from the whole of these appliances extracted one

cup of I don't know what, for Estella.

The bill paid, and the waiter remembered, and the ostler not

forgotten, and the chambermaid taken into consideration - in a

word, the whole house bribed into a state of contempt and

animosity, and Estella's purse much lightened - we got into our

post-coach and drove away. Turning into Cheapside and rattling up

Newgate-street, we were soon under the walls of which I was so


"What place is that?" Estella asked me.

I made a foolish pretence of not at first recognizing it, and then

told her. As she looked at it, and drew in her head again,

murmuring "Wretches!" I would not have confessed to my visit for

any consideration.

"Mr. Jaggers," said I, by way of putting it neatly on somebody else,

"has the reputation of being more in the secrets of that dismal

place than any man in London."

"He is more in the secrets of every place, I think," said Estella,

in a low voice.

"You have been accustomed to see him often, I suppose?"

"I have been accustomed to see him at uncertain intervals, ever

since I can remember. But I know him no better now, than I did

before I could speak plainly. What is your own experience of him?

Do you advance with him?"

"Once habituated to his distrustful manner," said I, "I have done

very well."

"Are you intimate?"

"I have dined with him at his private house."

"I fancy," said Estella, shrinking "that must be a curious place."

"It is a curious place."

I should have been chary of discussing my guardian too freely even

with her; but I should have gone on with the subject so far as to

describe the dinner in Gerrard-street, if we had not then come into

a sudden glare of gas. It seemed, while it lasted, to be all alight

and alive with that inexplicable feeling I had had before; and when

we were out of it, I was as much dazed for a few moments as if I

had been in Lightning.

So, we fell into other talk, and it was principally about the way

by which we were travelling, and about what parts of London lay on

this side of it, and what on that. The great city was almost new to

her, she told me, for she had never left Miss Havisham's

neighbourhood until she had gone to France, and she had merely

passed through London then in going and returning. I asked her if

my guardian had any charge of her while she remained here? To that

she emphatically said "God forbid!" and no more.

It was impossible for me to avoid seeing that she cared to attract

me; that she made herself winning; and would have won me even if

the task had needed pains. Yet this made me none the happier, for,

even if she had not taken that tone of our being disposed of by

others, I should have felt that she held my heart in her hand

because she wilfully chose to do it, and not because it would have

wrung any tenderness in her, to crush it and throw it away.

When we passed through Hammersmith, I showed her where Mr. Matthew

Pocket lived, and said it was no great way from Richmond, and that

I hoped I should see her sometimes.

"Oh yes, you are to see me; you are to come when you think proper;

you are to be mentioned to the family; indeed you are already


I inquired was it a large household she was going to be a member


"No; there are only two; mother and daughter. The mother is a lady

of some station, though not averse to increasing her income."

"I wonder Miss Havisham could part with you again so soon."

"It is a part of Miss Havisham's plans for me, Pip," said Estella,

with a sigh, as if she were tired; "I am to write to her constantly

and see her regularly and report how I go on - I and the jewels -

for they are nearly all mine now."

It was the first time she had ever called me by my name. Of course

she did so, purposely, and knew that I should treasure it up.

We came to Richmond all too soon, and our destination there, was a

house by the Green; a staid old house, where hoops and powder and

patches, embroidered coats rolled stockings ruffles and swords, had

had their court days many a time. Some ancient trees before the

house were still cut into fashions as formal and unnatural as the

hoops and wigs and stiff skirts; but their own allotted places in

the great procession of the dead were not far off, and they would

soon drop into them and go the silent way of the rest.

A bell with an old voice - which I dare say in its time had often

said to the house, Here is the green farthingale, Here is the

diamondhilted sword, Here are the shoes with red heels and the blue

solitaire, - sounded gravely in the moonlight, and two

cherrycoloured maids came fluttering out to receive Estella. The

doorway soon absorbed her boxes, and she gave me her hand and a

smile, and said good night, and was absorbed likewise. And still I

stood looking at the house, thinking how happy I should be if I

lived there with her, and knowing that I never was happy with her,

but always miserable.

I got into the carriage to be taken back to Hammersmith, and I got

in with a bad heart-ache, and I got out with a worse heart-ache. At

our own door, I found little Jane Pocket coming home from a little

party escorted by her little lover; and I envied her little lover,

in spite of his being subject to Flopson.

Mr. Pocket was out lecturing; for, he was a most delightful lecturer

on domestic economy, and his treatises on the management of

children and servants were considered the very best text-books on

those themes. But, Mrs. Pocket was at home, and was in a little

difficulty, on account of the baby's having been accommodated with

a needle-case to keep him quiet during the unaccountable absence

(with a relative in the Foot Guards) of Millers. And more needles

were missing, than it could be regarded as quite wholesome for a

patient of such tender years either to apply externally or to take

as a tonic.

Mr. Pocket being justly celebrated for giving most excellent

practical advice, and for having a clear and sound perception of

things and a highly judicious mind, I had some notion in my

heartache of begging him to accept my confidence. But, happening to

look up at Mrs. Pocket as she sat reading her book of dignities

after prescribing Bed as a sovereign remedy for baby, I thought -

Well - No, I wouldn't.

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