At the appointed time I returned to Miss Havisham's, and my
hesitating ring at the gate brought out Estella. She locked it
after admitting me, as she had done before, and again preceded me
into the dark passage where her candle stood. She took no notice of
me until she had the candle in her hand, when she looked over her
shoulder, superciliously saying, "You are to come this way today,"
and took me to quite another part of the house.
The passage was a long one, and seemed to pervade the whole square
basement of the Manor House. We traversed but one side of the
square, however, and at the end of it she stopped, and put her
candle down and opened a door. Here, the daylight reappeared, and I
found myself in a small paved court-yard, the opposite side of
which was formed by a detached dwelling-house, that looked as if it
had once belonged to the manager or head clerk of the extinct
brewery. There was a clock in the outer wall of this house. Like
the clock in Miss Havisham's room, and like Miss Havisham's watch,
it had stopped at twenty minutes to nine.
We went in at the door, which stood open, and into a gloomy room
with a low ceiling, on the ground floor at the back. There was some
company in the room, and Estella said to me as she joined it, "You
are to go and stand there, boy, till you are wanted." "There",
being the window, I crossed to it, and stood "there," in a very
uncomfortable state of mind, looking out.
It opened to the ground, and looked into a most miserable corner of
the neglected garden, upon a rank ruin of cabbage-stalks, and one
box tree that had been clipped round long ago, like a pudding, and
had a new growth at the top of it, out of shape and of a different
colour, as if that part of the pudding had stuck to the saucepan
and got burnt. This was my homely thought, as I contemplated the
box-tree. There had been some light snow, overnight, and it lay
nowhere else to my knowledge; but, it had not quite melted from the
cold shadow of this bit of garden, and the wind caught it up in
little eddies and threw it at the window, as if it pelted me for
I divined that my coming had stopped conversation in the room, and
that its other occupants were looking at me. I could see nothing of
the room except the shining of the fire in the window glass, but I
stiffened in all my joints with the consciousness that I was under
There were three ladies in the room and one gentleman. Before I had
been standing at the window five minutes, they somehow conveyed to
me that they were all toadies and humbugs, but that each of them
pretended not to know that the others were toadies and humbugs:
because the admission that he or she did know it, would have made
him or her out to be a toady and humbug.
They all had a listless and dreary air of waiting somebody's
pleasure, and the most talkative of the ladies had to speak quite
rigidly to repress a yawn. This lady, whose name was Camilla, very
much reminded me of my sister, with the difference that she was
older, and (as I found when I caught sight of her) of a blunter
cast of features. Indeed, when I knew her better I began to think
it was a Mercy she had any features at all, so very blank and high
was the dead wall of her face.
"Poor dear soul!" said this lady, with an abruptness of manner
quite my sister's. "Nobody's enemy but his own!"
"It would be much more commendable to be somebody else's enemy,"
said the gentleman; "far more natural."
"Cousin Raymond," observed another lady, "we are to love our
"Sarah Pocket," returned Cousin Raymond, "if a man is not his own
neighbour, who is?"
Miss Pocket laughed, and Camilla laughed and said (checking a
yawn), "The idea!" But I thought they seemed to think it rather a
good idea too. The other lady, who had not spoken yet, said gravely
and emphatically, "Very true!"
"Poor soul!" Camilla presently went on (I knew they had all been
looking at me in the mean time), "he is so very strange! Would
anyone believe that when Tom's wife died, he actually could not be
induced to see the importance of the children's having the deepest
of trimmings to their mourning? 'Good Lord!' says he, 'Camilla,
what can it signify so long as the poor bereaved little things are
in black?' So like Matthew! The idea!"
"Good points in him, good points in him," said Cousin Raymond;
"Heaven forbid I should deny good points in him; but he never had,
and he never will have, any sense of the proprieties."
"You know I was obliged," said Camilla, "I was obliged to be firm.