After a while she said, "Call Estella!" so I went out on

the landing and roared that name as I had done on the previous

occasion. When her light appeared, I returned to Miss Havisham, and

we started away again round and round the room.

If only Estella had come to be a spectator of our proceedings, I

should have felt sufficiently discontented; but, as she brought

with her the three ladies and the gentleman whom I had seen below,

I didn't know what to do. In my politeness, I would have stopped;

but, Miss Havisham twitched my shoulder, and we posted on - with a

shame-faced consciousness on my part that they would think it was

all my doing.

"Dear Miss Havisham," said Miss Sarah Pocket. "How well you look!"

"I do not," returned Miss Havisham. "I am yellow skin and bone."

Camilla brightened when Miss Pocket met with this rebuff; and she

murmured, as she plaintively contemplated Miss Havisham, "Poor dear

soul! Certainly not to be expected to look well, poor thing. The

idea!"

"And how are you?" said Miss Havisham to Camilla. As we were close

to Camilla then, I would have stopped as a matter of course, only

Miss Havisham wouldn't stop. We swept on, and I felt that I was

highly obnoxious to Camilla.

"Thank you, Miss Havisham," she returned, "I am as well as can be

expected."

"Why, what's the matter with you?" asked Miss Havisham, with

exceeding sharpness.

"Nothing worth mentioning," replied Camilla. "I don't wish to make

a display of my feelings, but I have habitually thought of you more

in the night than I am quite equal to."

"Then don't think of me," retorted Miss Havisham.

"Very easily said!" remarked Camilla, amiably repressing a sob,

while a hitch came into her upper lip, and her tears overflowed.

"Raymond is a witness what ginger and sal volatile I am obliged to

take in the night. Raymond is a witness what nervous jerkings I

have in my legs. Chokings and nervous jerkings, however, are

nothing new to me when I think with anxiety of those I love. If I

could be less affectionate and sensitive, I should have a better

digestion and an iron set of nerves. I am sure I wish it could be

so. But as to not thinking of you in the night - The idea!" Here, a

burst of tears.

The Raymond referred to, I understood to be the gentleman present,

and him I understood to be Mr. Camilla. He came to the rescue at

this point, and said in a consolatory and complimentary voice,

"Camilla, my dear, it is well known that your family feelings are

gradually undermining you to the extent of making one of your legs

shorter than the other."

"I am not aware," observed the grave lady whose voice I had heard

but once, "that to think of any person is to make a great claim

upon that person, my dear."

Miss Sarah Pocket, whom I now saw to be a little dry brown

corrugated old woman, with a small face that might have been made

of walnut shells, and a large mouth like a cat's without the

whiskers, supported this position by saying, "No, indeed, my dear.

Hem!"

"Thinking is easy enough," said the grave lady.

"What is easier, you know?" assented Miss Sarah Pocket.

"Oh, yes, yes!" cried Camilla, whose fermenting feelings appeared

to rise from her legs to her bosom. "It's all very true! It's a

weakness to be so affectionate, but I can't help it. No doubt my

health would be much better if it was otherwise, still I wouldn't

change my disposition if I could. It's the cause of much suffering,

but it's a consolation to know I posses it, when I wake up in the

night." Here another burst of feeling.

Miss Havisham and I had never stopped all this time, but kept going

round and round the room: now, brushing against the skirts of the

visitors: now, giving them the whole length of the dismal chamber.

"There's Matthew!" said Camilla. "Never mixing with any natural

ties, never coming here to see how Miss Havisham is! I have taken

to the sofa with my staylace cut, and have lain there hours,

insensible, with my head over the side, and my hair all down, and

my feet I don't know where--"

("Much higher than your head, my love," said Mr.

Charles Dickens
Classic Literature Library
Classic Authors

All Pages of This Book