Once, I had been taken to see some ghastly waxwork

at the Fair, representing I know not what impossible personage

lying in state. Once, I had been taken to one of our old marsh

churches to see a skeleton in the ashes of a rich dress, that had

been dug out of a vault under the church pavement. Now, waxwork and

skeleton seemed to have dark eyes that moved and looked at me. I

should have cried out, if I could.

"Who is it?" said the lady at the table.

"Pip, ma'am."

"Pip?"

"Mr. Pumblechook's boy, ma'am. Come - to play."

"Come nearer; let me look at you. Come close."

It was when I stood before her, avoiding her eyes, that I took note

of the surrounding objects in detail, and saw that her watch had

stopped at twenty minutes to nine, and that a clock in the room had

stopped at twenty minutes to nine.

"Look at me," said Miss Havisham. "You are not afraid of a woman

who has never seen the sun since you were born?"

I regret to state that I was not afraid of telling the enormous lie

comprehended in the answer "No."

"Do you know what I touch here?" she said, laying her hands, one

upon the other, on her left side.

"Yes, ma'am." (It made me think of the young man.)

"What do I touch?"

"Your heart."

"Broken!"

She uttered the word with an eager look, and with strong emphasis,

and with a weird smile that had a kind of boast in it. Afterwards,

she kept her hands there for a little while, and slowly took them

away as if they were heavy.

"I am tired," said Miss Havisham. "I want diversion, and I have

done with men and women. Play."

I think it will be conceded by my most disputatious reader, that

she could hardly have directed an unfortunate boy to do anything in

the wide world more difficult to be done under the circumstances.

"I sometimes have sick fancies," she went on, "and I have a sick

fancy that I want to see some play. There there!" with an impatient

movement of the fingers of her right hand; "play, play, play!"

For a moment, with the fear of my sister's working me before my

eyes, I had a desperate idea of starting round the room in the

assumed character of Mr. Pumblechook's chaise-cart. But, I felt

myself so unequal to the performance that I gave it up, and stood

looking at Miss Havisham in what I suppose she took for a dogged

manner, inasmuch as she said, when we had taken a good look at each

other:

"Are you sullen and obstinate?"

"No, ma'am, I am very sorry for you, and very sorry I can't play

just now. If you complain of me I shall get into trouble with my

sister, so I would do it if I could; but it's so new here, and so

strange, and so fine - and melancholy--." I stopped, fearing I might

say too much, or had already said it, and we took another look at

each other.

Before she spoke again, she turned her eyes from me, and looked at

the dress she wore, and at the dressing-table, and finally at

herself in the looking-glass.

"So new to him," she muttered, "so old to me; so strange to him, so

familiar to me; so melancholy to both of us! Call Estella."

As she was still looking at the reflection of herself, I thought

she was still talking to herself, and kept quiet.

"Call Estella," she repeated, flashing a look at me. "You can do

that. Call Estella. At the door."

To stand in the dark in a mysterious passage of an unknown house,

bawling Estella to a scornful young lady neither visible nor

responsive, and feeling it a dreadful liberty so to roar out her

name, was almost as bad as playing to order. But, she answered at

last, and her light came along the dark passage like a star.

Miss Havisham beckoned her to come close, and took up a jewel from

the table, and tried its effect upon her fair young bosom and

against her pretty brown hair. "Your own, one day, my dear, and you

will use it well. Let me see you play cards with this boy."

"With this boy? Why, he is a common labouring-boy!"

I thought I overheard Miss Havisham answer - only it seemed so

unlikely - "Well? You can break his heart."

"What do you play, boy?" asked Estella of myself, with the greatest

disdain.

Charles Dickens
Classic Literature Library
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