As we began to be more used to one another, Miss Havisham talked
more to me, and asked me such questions as what had I learnt and
what was I going to be? I told her I was going to be apprenticed to
Joe, I believed; and I enlarged upon my knowing nothing and wanting
to know everything, in the hope that she might offer some help
towards that desirable end. But, she did not; on the contrary, she
seemed to prefer my being ignorant. Neither did she ever give me
any money - or anything but my daily dinner - nor ever stipulate
that I should be paid for my services.
Estella was always about, and always let me in and out, but never
told me I might kiss her again. Sometimes, she would coldly
tolerate me; sometimes, she would condescend to me; sometimes, she
would be quite familiar with me; sometimes, she would tell me
energetically that she hated me. Miss Havisham would often ask me
in a whisper, or when we were alone, "Does she grow prettier and
prettier, Pip?" And when I said yes (for indeed she did), would
seem to enjoy it greedily. Also, when we played at cards Miss
Havisham would look on, with a miserly relish of Estella's moods,
whatever they were. And sometimes, when her moods were so many and
so contradictory of one another that I was puzzled what to say or
do, Miss Havisham would embrace her with lavish fondness, murmuring
something in her ear that sounded like "Break their hearts my pride
and hope, break their hearts and have no mercy!"
There was a song Joe used to hum fragments of at the forge, of
which the burden was Old Clem. This was not a very ceremonious way
of rendering homage to a patron saint; but, I believe Old Clem
stood in that relation towards smiths. It was a song that imitated
the measure of beating upon iron, and was a mere lyrical excuse for
the introduction of Old Clem's respected name. Thus, you were to
hammer boys round - Old Clem! With a thump and a sound - Old Clem!
Beat it out, beat it out - Old Clem! With a clink for the stout -
Old Clem! Blow the fire, blow the fire - Old Clem! Roaring dryer,
soaring higher - Old Clem! One day soon after the appearance of the
chair, Miss Havisham suddenly saying to me, with the impatient
movement of her fingers, "There, there, there! Sing!" I was
surprised into crooning this ditty as I pushed her over the floor.
It happened so to catch her fancy, that she took it up in a low
brooding voice as if she were singing in her sleep. After that, it
became customary with us to have it as we moved about, and Estella
would often join in; though the whole strain was so subdued, even
when there were three of us, that it made less noise in the grim
old house than the lightest breath of wind.
What could I become with these surroundings? How could my character
fail to be influenced by them? Is it to be wondered at if my
thoughts were dazed, as my eyes were, when I came out into the
natural light from the misty yellow rooms?
Perhaps, I might have told Joe about the pale young gentleman, if I
had not previously been betrayed into those enormous inventions to
which I had confessed. Under the circumstances, I felt that Joe
could hardly fail to discern in the pale young gentleman, an
appropriate passenger to be put into the black velvet coach;
therefore, I said nothing of him. Besides: that shrinking from
having Miss Havisham and Estella discussed, which had come upon me
in the beginning, grew much more potent as time went on. I reposed
complete confidence in no one but Biddy; but, I told poor Biddy
everything. Why it came natural to me to do so, and why Biddy had a
deep concern in everything I told her, I did not know then, though
I think I know now.
Meanwhile, councils went on in the kitchen at home, fraught with
almost insupportable aggravation to my exasperated spirit. That
ass, Pumblechook, used often to come over of a night for the purpose
of discussing my prospects with my sister; and I really do believe
(to this hour with less penitence than I ought to feel), that if
these hands could have taken a linchpin out of his chaise-cart,
they would have done it.