I think I would have

gone through a great deal to kiss her cheek. But, I felt that the

kiss was given to the coarse common boy as a piece of money might

have been, and that it was worth nothing.

What with the birthday visitors, and what with the cards, and what

with the fight, my stay had lasted so long, that when I neared home

the light on the spit of sand off the point on the marshes was

gleaming against a black night-sky, and Joe's furnace was flinging

a path of fire across the road.

Chapter 12

My mind grew very uneasy on the subject of the pale young

gentleman. The more I thought of the fight, and recalled the pale

young gentleman on his back in various stages of puffy and

incrimsoned countenance, the more certain it appeared that

something would be done to me. I felt that the pale young

gentleman's blood was on my head, and that the Law would avenge it.

Without having any definite idea of the penalties I had incurred,

it was clear to me that village boys could not go stalking about

the country, ravaging the houses of gentlefolks and pitching into

the studious youth of England, without laying themselves open to

severe punishment. For some days, I even kept close at home, and

looked out at the kitchen door with the greatest caution and

trepidation before going on an errand, lest the officers of the

County Jail should pounce upon me. The pale young gentleman's nose

had stained my trousers, and I tried to wash out that evidence of

my guilt in the dead of night. I had cut my knuckles against the

pale young gentleman's teeth, and I twisted my imagination into a

thousand tangles, as I devised incredible ways of accounting for

that damnatory circumstance when I should be haled before the


When the day came round for my return to the scene of the deed of

violence, my terrors reached their height. Whether myrmidons of

Justice, specially sent down from London, would be lying in ambush

behind the gate? Whether Miss Havisham, preferring to take personal

vengeance for an outrage done to her house, might rise in those

grave-clothes of hers, draw a pistol, and shoot me dead? Whether

suborned boys - a numerous band of mercenaries - might be engaged

to fall upon me in the brewery, and cuff me until I was no more? It

was high testimony to my confidence in the spirit of the pale young

gentleman, that I never imagined him accessory to these

retaliations; they always came into my mind as the acts of

injudicious relatives of his, goaded on by the state of his visage

and an indignant sympathy with the family features.

However, go to Miss Havisham's I must, and go I did. And behold!

nothing came of the late struggle. It was not alluded to in any

way, and no pale young gentleman was to be discovered on the

premises. I found the same gate open, and I explored the garden,

and even looked in at the windows of the detached house; but, my

view was suddenly stopped by the closed shutters within, and all

was lifeless. Only in the corner where the combat had taken place,

could I detect any evidence of the young gentleman's existence.

There were traces of his gore in that spot, and I covered them with

garden-mould from the eye of man.

On the broad landing between Miss Havisham's own room and that

other room in which the long table was laid out, I saw a

garden-chair - a light chair on wheels, that you pushed from

behind. It had been placed there since my last visit, and I

entered, that same day, on a regular occupation of pushing Miss

Havisham in this chair (when she was tired of walking with her hand

upon my shoulder) round her own room, and across the landing, and

round the other room. Over and over and over again, we would make

these journeys, and sometimes they would last as long as three

hours at a stretch. I insensibly fall into a general mention of

these journeys as numerous, because it was at once settled that I

should return every alternate day at noon for these purposes, and

because I am now going to sum up a period of at least eight or ten


Charles Dickens
Classic Literature Library
Classic Authors

All Pages of This Book