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.
"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?"
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
"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
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