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.

Charles Dickens
Classic Literature Library
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