"When the ruin is complete," said she, with a ghastly look, "and
when they lay me dead, in my bride's dress on the bride's table -
which shall be done, and which will be the finished curse upon him
- so much the better if it is done on this day!"
She stood looking at the table as if she stood looking at her own
figure lying there. I remained quiet. Estella returned, and she too
remained quiet. It seemed to me that we continued thus for a long
time. In the heavy air of the room, and the heavy darkness that
brooded in its remoter corners, I even had an alarming fancy that
Estella and I might presently begin to decay.
At length, not coming out of her distraught state by degrees, but
in an instant, Miss Havisham said, "Let me see you two play cards;
why have you not begun?" With that, we returned to her room, and
sat down as before; I was beggared, as before; and again, as
before, Miss Havisham watched us all the time, directed my
attention to Estella's beauty, and made me notice it the more by
trying her jewels on Estella's breast and hair.
Estella, for her part, likewise treated me as before; except that
she did not condescend to speak. When we had played some halfdozen
games, a day was appointed for my return, and I was taken down into
the yard to be fed in the former dog-like manner. There, too, I was
again left to wander about as I liked.
It is not much to the purpose whether a gate in that garden wall
which I had scrambled up to peep over on the last occasion was, on
that last occasion, open or shut. Enough that I saw no gate then,
and that I saw one now. As it stood open, and as I knew that
Estella had let the visitors out - for, she had returned with the
keys in her hand - I strolled into the garden and strolled all over
it. It was quite a wilderness, and there were old melon-frames and
cucumber-frames in it, which seemed in their decline to have
produced a spontaneous growth of weak attempts at pieces of old
hats and boots, with now and then a weedy offshoot into the
likeness of a battered saucepan.
When I had exhausted the garden, and a greenhouse with nothing in
it but a fallen-down grape-vine and some bottles, I found myself in
the dismal corner upon which I had looked out of the window. Never
questioning for a moment that the house was now empty, I looked in
at another window, and found myself, to my great surprise,
exchanging a broad stare with a pale young gentleman with red
eyelids and light hair.
This pale young gentleman quickly disappeared, and re-appeared
beside me. He had been at his books when I had found myself staring
at him, and I now saw that he was inky.
"Halloa!" said he, "young fellow!"
Halloa being a general observation which I had usually observed to
be best answered by itself, I said, "Halloa!" politely omitting
"Who let you in?" said he.
"Who gave you leave to prowl about?"
"Come and fight," said the pale young gentleman.
What could I do but follow him? I have often asked myself the
question since: but, what else could I do? His manner was so final
and I was so astonished, that I followed where he led, as if I had
been under a spell.
"Stop a minute, though," he said, wheeling round before we had gone
many paces. "I ought to give you a reason for fighting, too. There
it is!" In a most irritating manner he instantly slapped his hands
against one another, daintily flung one of his legs up behind him,
pulled my hair, slapped his hands again, dipped his head, and
butted it into my stomach.
The bull-like proceeding last mentioned, besides that it was
unquestionably to be regarded in the light of a liberty, was
particularly disagreeable just after bread and meat. I therefore
hit out at him and was going to hit out again, when he said,
"Aha! Would you?" and began dancing backwards and forwards in a
manner quite unparalleled within my limited experience.