I said, 'It WILL NOT DO, for the credit of the family.' I told him

that, without deep trimmings, the family was disgraced. I cried

about it from breakfast till dinner. I injured my digestion. And at

last he flung out in his violent way, and said, with a D, 'Then do

as you like.' Thank Goodness it will always be a consolation to me

to know that I instantly went out in a pouring rain and bought the

things."

"He paid for them, did he not?" asked Estella.

"It's not the question, my dear child, who paid for them," returned

Camilla. "I bought them. And I shall often think of that with

peace, when I wake up in the night."

The ringing of a distant bell, combined with the echoing of some

cry or call along the passage by which I had come, interrupted the

conversation and caused Estella to say to me, "Now, boy!" On my

turning round, they all looked at me with the utmost contempt, and,

as I went out, I heard Sarah Pocket say, "Well I am sure! What

next!" and Camilla add, with indignation, "Was there ever such a

fancy! The i-de-a!"

As we were going with our candle along the dark passage, Estella

stopped all of a sudden, and, facing round, said in her taunting

manner with her face quite close to mine:

"Well?"

"Well, miss?" I answered, almost falling over her and checking

myself.

She stood looking at me, and, of course, I stood looking at her.

"Am I pretty?"

"Yes; I think you are very pretty."

"Am I insulting?"

"Not so much so as you were last time," said I.

"Not so much so?"

"No."

She fired when she asked the last question, and she slapped my face

with such force as she had, when I answered it.

"Now?" said she. "You little coarse monster, what do you think of

me now?"

"I shall not tell you."

"Because you are going to tell, up-stairs. Is that it?"

"No," said I, "that's not it."

"Why don't you cry again, you little wretch?"

"Because I'll never cry for you again," said I. Which was, I

suppose, as false a declaration as ever was made; for I was

inwardly crying for her then, and I know what I know of the pain

she cost me afterwards.

We went on our way up-stairs after this episode; and, as we were

going up, we met a gentleman groping his way down.

"Whom have we here?" asked the gentleman, stopping and looking at

me.

"A boy," said Estella.

He was a burly man of an exceedingly dark complexion, with an

exceedingly large head and a corresponding large hand. He took my

chin in his large hand and turned up my face to have a look at me

by the light of the candle. He was prematurely bald on the top of

his head, and had bushy black eyebrows that wouldn't lie down but

stood up bristling. His eyes were set very deep in his head, and

were disagreeably sharp and suspicious. He had a large watchchain,

and strong black dots where his beard and whiskers would have been

if he had let them. He was nothing to me, and I could have had no

foresight then, that he ever would be anything to me, but it

happened that I had this opportunity of observing him well.

"Boy of the neighbourhood? Hey?" said he.

"Yes, sir," said I.

"How do you come here?"

"Miss Havisham sent for me, sir," I explained.

"Well! Behave yourself. I have a pretty large experience of boys,

and you're a bad set of fellows. Now mind!" said he, biting the

side of his great forefinger as he frowned at me, "you behave

yourself!"

With those words, he released me - which I was glad of, for his

hand smelt of scented soap - and went his way down-stairs. I

wondered whether he could be a doctor; but no, I thought; he

couldn't be a doctor, or he would have a quieter and more

persuasive manner. There was not much time to consider the subject,

for we were soon in Miss Havisham's room, where she and everything

else were just as I had left them. Estella left me standing near

the door, and I stood there until Miss Havisham cast her eyes upon

me from the dressing-table.

Charles Dickens
Classic Literature Library
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