Until she opened
the side entrance, I had fancied, without thinking about it, that
it must necessarily be night-time. The rush of the daylight quite
confounded me, and made me feel as if I had been in the candlelight
of the strange room many hours.
"You are to wait here, you boy," said Estella; and disappeared and
closed the door.
I took the opportunity of being alone in the court-yard, to look at
my coarse hands and my common boots. My opinion of those
accessories was not favourable. They had never troubled me before,
but they troubled me now, as vulgar appendages. I determined to ask
Joe why he had ever taught me to call those picture-cards, Jacks,
which ought to be called knaves. I wished Joe had been rather more
genteelly brought up, and then I should have been so too.
She came back, with some bread and meat and a little mug of beer.
She put the mug down on the stones of the yard, and gave me the
bread and meat without looking at me, as insolently as if I were a
dog in disgrace. I was so humiliated, hurt, spurned, offended,
angry, sorry - I cannot hit upon the right name for the smart - God
knows what its name was - that tears started to my eyes. The moment
they sprang there, the girl looked at me with a quick delight in
having been the cause of them. This gave me power to keep them back
and to look at her: so, she gave a contemptuous toss - but with a
sense, I thought, of having made too sure that I was so wounded -
and left me.
But, when she was gone, I looked about me for a place to hide my
face in, and got behind one of the gates in the brewery-lane, and
leaned my sleeve against the wall there, and leaned my forehead on
it and cried. As I cried, I kicked the wall, and took a hard twist
at my hair; so bitter were my feelings, and so sharp was the smart
without a name, that needed counteraction.
My sister's bringing up had made me sensitive. In the little world
in which children have their existence whosoever brings them up,
there is nothing so finely perceived and so finely felt, as
injustice. It may be only small injustice that the child can be
exposed to; but the child is small, and its world is small, and its
rocking-horse stands as many hands high, according to scale, as a
big-boned Irish hunter. Within myself, I had sustained, from my
babyhood, a perpetual conflict with injustice. I had known, from
the time when I could speak, that my sister, in her capricious and
violent coercion, was unjust to me. I had cherished a profound
conviction that her bringing me up by hand, gave her no right to
bring me up by jerks. Through all my punishments, disgraces, fasts
and vigils, and other penitential performances, I had nursed this
assurance; and to my communing so much with it, in a solitary and
unprotected way, I in great part refer the fact that I was morally
timid and very sensitive.
I got rid of my injured feelings for the time, by kicking them into
the brewery wall, and twisting them out of my hair, and then I
smoothed my face with my sleeve, and came from behind the gate. The
bread and meat were acceptable, and the beer was warming and
tingling, and I was soon in spirits to look about me.
To be sure, it was a deserted place, down to the pigeon-house in
the brewery-yard, which had been blown crooked on its pole by some
high wind, and would have made the pigeons think themselves at sea,
if there had been any pigeons there to be rocked by it. But, there
were no pigeons in the dove-cot, no horses in the stable, no pigs
in the sty, no malt in the store-house, no smells of grains and
beer in the copper or the vat. All the uses and scents of the
brewery might have evaporated with its last reek of smoke. In a
by-yard, there was a wilderness of empty casks, which had a certain
sour remembrance of better days lingering about them; but it was
too sour to be accepted as a sample of the beer that was gone - and
in this respect I remember those recluses as being like most