Camilla.)

"I have gone off into that state, hours and hours, on account of

Matthew's strange and inexplicable conduct, and nobody has thanked

me."

"Really I must say I should think not!" interposed the grave lady.

"You see, my dear," added Miss Sarah Pocket (a blandly vicious

personage), "the question to put to yourself is, who did you expect

to thank you, my love?"

"Without expecting any thanks, or anything of the sort," resumed

Camilla, "I have remained in that state, hours and hours, and

Raymond is a witness of the extent to which I have choked, and what

the total inefficacy of ginger has been, and I have been heard at

the pianoforte-tuner's across the street, where the poor mistaken

children have even supposed it to be pigeons cooing at a

distance-and now to be told--." Here Camilla put her hand to her

throat, and began to be quite chemical as to the formation of new

combinations there.

When this same Matthew was mentioned, Miss Havisham stopped me and

herself, and stood looking at the speaker. This change had a great

influence in bringing Camilla's chemistry to a sudden end.

"Matthew will come and see me at last," said Miss Havisham,

sternly, when I am laid on that table. That will be his place -

there," striking the table with her stick, "at my head! And yours

will be there! And your husband's there! And Sarah Pocket's there!

And Georgiana's there! Now you all know where to take your stations

when you come to feast upon me. And now go!"

At the mention of each name, she had struck the table with her

stick in a new place. She now said, "Walk me, walk me!" and we went

on again.

"I suppose there's nothing to be done," exclaimed Camilla, "but

comply and depart. It's something to have seen the object of one's

love and duty, for even so short a time. I shall think of it with a

melancholy satisfaction when I wake up in the night. I wish Matthew

could have that comfort, but he sets it at defiance. I am

determined not to make a display of my feelings, but it's very hard

to be told one wants to feast on one's relations - as if one was a

Giant - and to be told to go. The bare idea!"

Mr. Camilla interposing, as Mrs. Camilla laid her hand upon her

heaving bosom, that lady assumed an unnatural fortitude of manner

which I supposed to be expressive of an intention to drop and choke

when out of view, and kissing her hand to Miss Havisham, was

escorted forth. Sarah Pocket and Georgiana contended who should

remain last; but, Sarah was too knowing to be outdone, and ambled

round Georgiana with that artful slipperiness, that the latter was

obliged to take precedence. Sarah Pocket then made her separate

effect of departing with "Bless you, Miss Havisham dear!" and with

a smile of forgiving pity on her walnut-shell countenance for the

weaknesses of the rest.

While Estella was away lighting them down, Miss Havisham still

walked with her hand on my shoulder, but more and more slowly. At

last she stopped before the fire, and said, after muttering and

looking at it some seconds:

"This is my birthday, Pip."

I was going to wish her many happy returns, when she lifted her

stick.

"I don't suffer it to be spoken of. I don't suffer those who were

here just now, or any one, to speak of it. They come here on the

day, but they dare not refer to it."

Of course I made no further effort to refer to it.

"On this day of the year, long before you were born, this heap of

decay," stabbing with her crutched stick at the pile of cobwebs on

the table but not touching it, "was brought here. It and I have

worn away together. The mice have gnawed at it, and sharper teeth

than teeth of mice have gnawed at me."

She held the head of her stick against her heart as she stood

looking at the table; she in her once white dress, all yellow and

withered; the once white cloth all yellow and withered; everything

around, in a state to crumble under a touch.

Charles Dickens
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