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.

Charles Dickens
Classic Literature Library
Classic Authors

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