When we stood in the daylight alone again, Joe backed up against a

wall, and said to me, "Astonishing!" And there he remained so long,

saying "Astonishing" at intervals, so often, that I began to think

his senses were never coming back. At length he prolonged his

remark into "Pip, I do assure you this is as-TONishing!" and so, by

degrees, became conversational and able to walk away.

I have reason to think that Joe's intellects were brightened by the

encounter they had passed through, and that on our way to

Pumblechook's he invented a subtle and deep design. My reason is to

be found in what took place in Mr. Pumblechook's parlour: where, on

our presenting ourselves, my sister sat in conference with that

detested seedsman.

"Well?" cried my sister, addressing us both at once. "And what's

happened to you? I wonder you condescend to come back to such poor

society as this, I am sure I do!"

"Miss Havisham," said Joe, with a fixed look at me, like an effort

of remembrance, "made it wery partick'ler that we should give her -

were it compliments or respects, Pip?"

"Compliments," I said.

"Which that were my own belief," answered Joe - "her compliments to

Mrs. J. Gargery--"

"Much good they'll do me!" observed my sister; but rather gratified

too.

"And wishing," pursued Joe, with another fixed look at me, like

another effort of remembrance, "that the state of Miss Havisham's

elth were sitch as would have - allowed, were it, Pip?"

"Of her having the pleasure," I added.

"Of ladies' company," said Joe. And drew a long breath.

"Well!" cried my sister, with a mollified glance at Mr. Pumblechook.

"She might have had the politeness to send that message at first,

but it's better late than never. And what did she give young

Rantipole here?"

"She giv' him," said Joe, "nothing."

Mrs. Joe was going to break out, but Joe went on.

"What she giv'," said Joe, "she giv' to his friends. 'And by his

friends,' were her explanation, 'I mean into the hands of his

sister Mrs. J. Gargery.' Them were her words; 'Mrs. J. Gargery.' She

mayn't have know'd," added Joe, with an appearance of reflection,

"whether it were Joe, or Jorge."

My sister looked at Pumblechook: who smoothed the elbows of his

wooden armchair, and nodded at her and at the fire, as if he had

known all about it beforehand.

"And how much have you got?" asked my sister, laughing. Positively,

laughing!

"What would present company say to ten pound?" demanded Joe.

"They'd say," returned my sister, curtly, "pretty well. Not too

much, but pretty well."

"It's more than that, then," said Joe.

That fearful Impostor, Pumblechook, immediately nodded, and said,

as he rubbed the arms of his chair: "It's more than that, Mum."

"Why, you don't mean to say--" began my sister.

"Yes I do, Mum," said Pumblechook; "but wait a bit. Go on, Joseph.

Good in you! Go on!"

"What would present company say," proceeded Joe, "to twenty pound?"

"Handsome would be the word," returned my sister.

"Well, then," said Joe, "It's more than twenty pound."

That abject hypocrite, Pumblechook, nodded again, and said, with a

patronizing laugh, "It's more than that, Mum. Good again! Follow her

up, Joseph!"

"Then to make an end of it," said Joe, delightedly handing the bag

to my sister; "it's five-and-twenty pound."

"It's five-and-twenty pound, Mum," echoed that basest of swindlers,

Pumblechook, rising to shake hands with her; "and it's no more than

your merits (as I said when my opinion was asked), and I wish you

joy of the money!"

If the villain had stopped here, his case would have been

sufficiently awful, but he blackened his guilt by proceeding to

take me into custody, with a right of patronage that left all his

former criminality far behind.

"Now you see, Joseph and wife," said Pumblechook, as he took me by

the arm above the elbow, "I am one of them that always go right

through with what they've begun.

Charles Dickens
Classic Literature Library
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