"Well put! Prettily pointed!

Good indeed! Now Joseph, you know the case."

"No, Joseph," said my sister, still in a reproachful manner, while

Joe apologetically drew the back of his hand across and across his

nose, "you do not yet - though you may not think it - know the

case. You may consider that you do, but you do not, Joseph. For you

do not know that Uncle Pumblechook, being sensible that for

anything we can tell, this boy's fortune may be made by his going

to Miss Havisham's, has offered to take him into town to-night in

his own chaise-cart, and to keep him to-night, and to take him with

his own hands to Miss Havisham's to-morrow morning. And Lor-a-mussy

me!" cried my sister, casting off her bonnet in sudden desperation,

"here I stand talking to mere Mooncalfs, with Uncle Pumblechook

waiting, and the mare catching cold at the door, and the boy grimed

with crock and dirt from the hair of his head to the sole of his


With that, she pounced upon me, like an eagle on a lamb, and my

face was squeezed into wooden bowls in sinks, and my head was put

under taps of water-butts, and I was soaped, and kneaded, and

towelled, and thumped, and harrowed, and rasped, until I really was

quite beside myself. (I may here remark that I suppose myself to be

better acquainted than any living authority, with the ridgy effect

of a wedding-ring, passing unsympathetically over the human


When my ablutions were completed, I was put into clean linen of the

stiffest character, like a young penitent into sackcloth, and was

trussed up in my tightest and fearfullest suit. I was then

delivered over to Mr. Pumblechook, who formally received me as if he

were the Sheriff, and who let off upon me the speech that I knew he

had been dying to make all along: "Boy, be for ever grateful to all

friends, but especially unto them which brought you up by hand!"

"Good-bye, Joe!"

"God bless you, Pip, old chap!"

I had never parted from him before, and what with my feelings and

what with soap-suds, I could at first see no stars from the

chaise-cart. But they twinkled out one by one, without throwing any

light on the questions why on earth I was going to play at Miss

Havisham's, and what on earth I was expected to play at.

Chapter 8

Mr. Pumblechook's premises in the High-street of the market town,

were of a peppercorny and farinaceous character, as the premises of

a corn-chandler and seedsman should be. It appeared to me that he

must be a very happy man indeed, to have so many little drawers in

his shop; and I wondered when I peeped into one or two on the lower

tiers, and saw the tied-up brown paper packets inside, whether the

flower-seeds and bulbs ever wanted of a fine day to break out of

those jails, and bloom.

It was in the early morning after my arrival that I entertained

this speculation. On the previous night, I had been sent straight

to bed in an attic with a sloping roof, which was so low in the

corner where the bedstead was, that I calculated the tiles as being

within a foot of my eyebrows. In the same early morning, I

discovered a singular affinity between seeds and corduroys. Mr.

Pumblechook wore corduroys, and so did his shopman; and somehow,

there was a general air and flavour about the corduroys, so much in

the nature of seeds, and a general air and flavour about the seeds,

so much in the nature of corduroys, that I hardly knew which was

which. The same opportunity served me for noticing that Mr.

Pumblechook appeared to conduct his business by looking across the

street at the saddler, who appeared to transact his business by

keeping his eye on the coach-maker, who appeared to get on in life

by putting his hands in his pockets and contemplating the baker,

who in his turn folded his arms and stared at the grocer, who stood

at his door and yawned at the chemist. The watch-maker, always

poring over a little desk with a magnifying glass at his eye, and

always inspected by a group of smock-frocks poring over him through

the glass of his shop-window, seemed to be about the only person in

the High-street whose trade engaged his attention.

Charles Dickens
Classic Literature Library
Classic Authors

All Pages of This Book