But he said nothing after offering his Blue Blazes

observation, until the glasses of rum-and-water were brought; and

then he made his shot, and a most extraordinary shot it was.

It was not a verbal remark, but a proceeding in dump show, and was

pointedly addressed to me. He stirred his rum-and-water pointedly

at me, and he tasted his rum-and-water pointedly at me. And he

stirred it and he tasted it: not with a spoon that was brought to

him, but with a file.

He did this so that nobody but I saw the file; and when he had done

it he wiped the file and put it in a breast-pocket. I knew it to be

Joe's file, and I knew that he knew my convict, the moment I saw

the instrument. I sat gazing at him, spell-bound. But he now

reclined on his settle, taking very little notice of me, and

talking principally about turnips.

There was a delicious sense of cleaning-up and making a quiet pause

before going on in life afresh, in our village on Saturday nights,

which stimulated Joe to dare to stay out half an hour longer on

Saturdays than at other times. The half hour and the rum-and-water

running out together, Joe got up to go, and took me by the hand.

"Stop half a moment, Mr. Gargery," said the strange man. "I think

I've got a bright new shilling somewhere in my pocket, and if I

have, the boy shall have it."

He looked it out from a handful of small change, folded it in some

crumpled paper, and gave it to me. "Yours!" said he. "Mind! Your

own."

I thanked him, staring at him far beyond the bounds of good

manners, and holding tight to Joe. He gave Joe good-night, and he

gave Mr. Wopsle good-night (who went out with us), and he gave me

only a look with his aiming eye - no, not a look, for he shut it

up, but wonders may be done with an eye by hiding it.

On the way home, if I had been in a humour for talking, the talk

must have been all on my side, for Mr. Wopsle parted from us at the

door of the Jolly Bargemen, and Joe went all the way home with his

mouth wide open, to rinse the rum out with as much air as possible.

But I was in a manner stupefied by this turning up of my old

misdeed and old acquaintance, and could think of nothing else.

My sister was not in a very bad temper when we presented ourselves

in the kitchen, and Joe was encouraged by that unusual circumstance

to tell her about the bright shilling. "A bad un, I'll be bound,"

said Mrs. Joe triumphantly, "or he wouldn't have given it to the

boy! Let's look at it."

I took it out of the paper, and it proved to be a good one. "But

what's this?" said Mrs. Joe, throwing down the shilling and catching

up the paper. "Two One-Pound notes?"

Nothing less than two fat sweltering one-pound notes that seemed to

have been on terms of the warmest intimacy with all the cattle

markets in the county. Joe caught up his hat again, and ran with

them to the Jolly Bargemen to restore them to their owner. While he

was gone, I sat down on my usual stool and looked vacantly at my

sister, feeling pretty sure that the man would not be there.

Presently, Joe came back, saying that the man was gone, but that

he, Joe, had left word at the Three Jolly Bargemen concerning the

notes. Then my sister sealed them up in a piece of paper, and put

them under some dried rose-leaves in an ornamental tea-pot on the

top of a press in the state parlour. There they remained, a

nightmare to me, many and many a night and day.

I had sadly broken sleep when I got to bed, through thinking of the

strange man taking aim at me with his invisible gun, and of the

guiltily coarse and common thing it was, to be on secret terms of

conspiracy with convicts - a feature in my low career that I had

previously forgotten. I was haunted by the file too. A dread

possessed me that when I least expected it, the file would

reappear. I coaxed myself to sleep by thinking of Miss Havisham's,

next Wednesday; and in my sleep I saw the file coming at me out of

a door, without seeing who held it, and I screamed myself awake.

Charles Dickens
Classic Literature Library
Classic Authors

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