Mr. Pumblechook and I breakfasted at eight o'clock in the parlour
behind the shop, while the shopman took his mug of tea and hunch of
bread-and-butter on a sack of peas in the front premises. I
considered Mr. Pumblechook wretched company. Besides being possessed
by my sister's idea that a mortifying and penitential character
ought to be imparted to my diet - besides giving me as much crumb
as possible in combination with as little butter, and putting such
a quantity of warm water into my milk that it would have been more
candid to have left the milk out altogether - his conversation
consisted of nothing but arithmetic. On my politely bidding him
Good morning, he said, pompously, "Seven times nine, boy?" And how
should I be able to answer, dodged in that way, in a strange place,
on an empty stomach! I was hungry, but before I had swallowed a
morsel, he began a running sum that lasted all through the
breakfast. "Seven?" "And four?" "And eight?" "And six?" "And two?"
"And ten?" And so on. And after each figure was disposed of, it was
as much as I could do to get a bite or a sup, before the next came;
while he sat at his ease guessing nothing, and eating bacon and hot
roll, in (if I may be allowed the expression) a gorging and
For such reasons I was very glad when ten o'clock came and we
started for Miss Havisham's; though I was not at all at my ease
regarding the manner in which I should acquit myself under that
lady's roof. Within a quarter of an hour we came to Miss Havisham's
house, which was of old brick, and dismal, and had a great many
iron bars to it. Some of the windows had been walled up; of those
that remained, all the lower were rustily barred. There was a
court-yard in front, and that was barred; so, we had to wait, after
ringing the bell, until some one should come to open it. While we
waited at the gate, I peeped in (even then Mr. Pumblechook said,
"And fourteen?" but I pretended not to hear him), and saw that at
the side of the house there was a large brewery. No brewing was going
on in it, and none seemed to have gone on for a long long time.
A window was raised, and a clear voice demanded "What name?" To
which my conductor replied, "Pumblechook." The voice returned,
"Quite right," and the window was shut again, and a young lady came
across the court-yard, with keys in her hand.
"This," said Mr. Pumblechook, "is Pip."
"This is Pip, is it?" returned the young lady, who was very pretty
and seemed very proud; "come in, Pip."
Mr. Pumblechook was coming in also, when she stopped him with the
"Oh!" she said. "Did you wish to see Miss Havisham?"
"If Miss Havisham wished to see me," returned Mr. Pumblechook,
"Ah!" said the girl; "but you see she don't."
She said it so finally, and in such an undiscussible way, that Mr.
Pumblechook, though in a condition of ruffled dignity, could not
protest. But he eyed me severely - as if I had done anything to
him! - and departed with the words reproachfully delivered: "Boy!
Let your behaviour here be a credit unto them which brought you up
by hand!" I was not free from apprehension that he would come back
to propound through the gate, "And sixteen?" But he didn't.
My young conductress locked the gate, and we went across the
court-yard. It was paved and clean, but grass was growing in every
crevice. The brewery buildings had a little lane of communication
with it, and the wooden gates of that lane stood open, and all the
brewery beyond, stood open, away to the high enclosing wall; and
all was empty and disused. The cold wind seemed to blow colder
there, than outside the gate; and it made a shrill noise in howling
in and out at the open sides of the brewery, like the noise of wind
in the rigging of a ship at sea.
She saw me looking at it, and she said, "You could drink without
hurt all the strong beer that's brewed there now, boy."
"I should think I could, miss," said I, in a shy way.