The miserable man was a man of that
confined stolidity of mind, that he could not discuss my prospects
without having me before him - as it were, to operate upon - and he
would drag me up from my stool (usually by the collar) where I was
quiet in a corner, and, putting me before the fire as if I were
going to be cooked, would begin by saying, "Now, Mum, here is this
boy! Here is this boy which you brought up by hand. Hold up your
head, boy, and be for ever grateful unto them which so did do. Now,
Mum, with respections to this boy!" And then he would rumple my
hair the wrong way - which from my earliest remembrance, as already
hinted, I have in my soul denied the right of any fellow-creature
to do - and would hold me before him by the sleeve: a spectacle of
imbecility only to be equalled by himself.
Then, he and my sister would pair off in such nonsensical
speculations about Miss Havisham, and about what she would do with
me and for me, that I used to want - quite painfully - to burst
into spiteful tears, fly at Pumblechook, and pummel him all over.
In these dialogues, my sister spoke to me as if she were morally
wrenching one of my teeth out at every reference; while Pumblechook
himself, self-constituted my patron, would sit supervising me with
a depreciatory eye, like the architect of my fortunes who thought
himself engaged on a very unremunerative job.
In these discussions, Joe bore no part. But he was often talked at,
while they were in progress, by reason of Mrs. Joe's perceiving that
he was not favourable to my being taken from the forge. I was fully
old enough now, to be apprenticed to Joe; and when Joe sat with the
poker on his knees thoughtfully raking out the ashes between the
lower bars, my sister would so distinctly construe that innocent
action into opposition on his part, that she would dive at him,
take the poker out of his hands, shake him, and put it away. There
was a most irritating end to every one of these debates. All in a
moment, with nothing to lead up to it, my sister would stop herself
in a yawn, and catching sight of me as it were incidentally, would
swoop upon me with, "Come! there's enough of you! You get along to
bed; you've given trouble enough for one night, I hope!" As if I
had besought them as a favour to bother my life out.
We went on in this way for a long time, and it seemed likely that
we should continue to go on in this way for a long time, when, one
day, Miss Havisham stopped short as she and I were walking, she
leaning on my shoulder; and said with some displeasure:
"You are growing tall, Pip!"
I thought it best to hint, through the medium of a meditative look,
that this might be occasioned by circumstances over which I had no
She said no more at the time; but, she presently stopped and looked
at me again; and presently again; and after that, looked frowning
and moody. On the next day of my attendance when our usual exercise
was over, and I had landed her at her dressingtable, she stayed me
with a movement of her impatient fingers:
"Tell me the name again of that blacksmith of yours."
"Joe Gargery, ma'am."
"Meaning the master you were to be apprenticed to?"
"Yes, Miss Havisham."
"You had better be apprenticed at once. Would Gargery come here
with you, and bring your indentures, do you think?"
I signified that I had no doubt he would take it as an honour to be
"Then let him come."
"At any particular time, Miss Havisham?"
"There, there! I know nothing about times. Let him come soon, and
come along with you."
When I got home at night, and delivered this message for Joe, my
sister "went on the Rampage," in a more alarming degree than at any
previous period. She asked me and Joe whether we supposed she was
door-mats under our feet, and how we dared to use her so, and what
company we graciously thought she was fit for? When she had
exhausted a torrent of such inquiries, she threw a candlestick at
Joe, burst into a loud sobbing, got out the dustpan - which was
always a very bad sign - put on her coarse apron, and began
cleaning up to a terrible extent.