"And Miss Estella - that's her niece, I think -

handed her in cake and wine at the coach-window, on a gold plate.

And we all had cake and wine on gold plates. And I got up behind

the coach to eat mine, because she told me to."

"Was anybody else there?" asked Mr. Pumblechook.

"Four dogs," said I.

"Large or small?"

"Immense," said I. "And they fought for veal cutlets out of a

silver basket."

Mr. Pumblechook and Mrs. Joe stared at one another again, in utter

amazement. I was perfectly frantic - a reckless witness under the

torture - and would have told them anything.

"Where was this coach, in the name of gracious?" asked my sister.

"In Miss Havisham's room." They stared again. "But there weren't

any horses to it." I added this saving clause, in the moment of

rejecting four richly caparisoned coursers which I had had wild

thoughts of harnessing.

"Can this be possible, uncle?" asked Mrs. Joe. "What can the boy

mean?"

"I'll tell you, Mum," said Mr. Pumblechook. "My opinion is, it's a

sedan-chair. She's flighty, you know - very flighty - quite flighty

enough to pass her days in a sedan-chair."

"Did you ever see her in it, uncle?" asked Mrs. Joe.

"How could I," he returned, forced to the admission, "when I never

see her in my life? Never clapped eyes upon her!"

"Goodness, uncle! And yet you have spoken to her?"

"Why, don't you know," said Mr. Pumblechook, testily, "that when I

have been there, I have been took up to the outside of her door,

and the door has stood ajar, and she has spoke to me that way.

Don't say you don't know that, Mum. Howsever, the boy went there to

play. What did you play at, boy?"

"We played with flags," I said. (I beg to observe that I think of

myself with amazement, when I recall the lies I told on this

occasion.)

"Flags!" echoed my sister.

"Yes," said I. "Estella waved a blue flag, and I waved a red one,

and Miss Havisham waved one sprinkled all over with little gold

stars, out at the coach-window. And then we all waved our swords

and hurrahed."

"Swords!" repeated my sister. "Where did you get swords from?"

"Out of a cupboard," said I. "And I saw pistols in it - and jam -

and pills. And there was no daylight in the room, but it was all

lighted up with candles."

"That's true, Mum," said Mr. Pumblechook, with a grave nod. "That's

the state of the case, for that much I've seen myself." And then

they both stared at me, and I, with an obtrusive show of

artlessness on my countenance, stared at them, and plaited the

right leg of my trousers with my right hand.

If they had asked me any more questions I should undoubtedly have

betrayed myself, for I was even then on the point of mentioning

that there was a balloon in the yard, and should have hazarded the

statement but for my invention being divided between that

phenomenon and a bear in the brewery. They were so much occupied,

however, in discussing the marvels I had already presented for

their consideration, that I escaped. The subject still held them

when Joe came in from his work to have a cup of tea. To whom my

sister, more for the relief of her own mind than for the

gratification of his, related my pretended experiences.

Now, when I saw Joe open his blue eyes and roll them all round the

kitchen in helpless amazement, I was overtaken by penitence; but

only as regarded him - not in the least as regarded the other two.

Towards Joe, and Joe only, I considered myself a young monster,

while they sat debating what results would come to me from Miss

Havisham's acquaintance and favour. They had no doubt that Miss

Havisham would "do something" for me; their doubts related to the

form that something would take. My sister stood out for "property."

Mr. Pumblechook was in favour of a handsome premium for binding me

apprentice to some genteel trade - say, the corn and seed trade,

for instance.

Charles Dickens
Classic Literature Library
Classic Authors

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