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

others.

Charles Dickens
Classic Literature Library
Classic Authors

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