After that, when we went in to supper, the place and the meal would

have a more homely look than ever, and I would feel more ashamed of

home than ever, in my own ungracious breast.

Chapter 15

As I was getting too big for Mr. Wopsle's great-aunt's room, my

education under that preposterous female terminated. Not, however,

until Biddy had imparted to me everything she knew, from the little

catalogue of prices, to a comic song she had once bought for a

halfpenny. Although the only coherent part of the latter piece of

literature were the opening lines,

When I went to Lunnon town sirs, Too rul loo rul Too rul loo rul

Wasn't I done very brown sirs? Too rul loo rul Too rul loo rul

- still, in my desire to be wiser, I got this composition by heart

with the utmost gravity; nor do I recollect that I questioned its

merit, except that I thought (as I still do) the amount of Too rul

somewhat in excess of the poetry. In my hunger for information, I

made proposals to Mr. Wopsle to bestow some intellectual crumbs upon

me; with which he kindly complied. As it turned out, however, that

he only wanted me for a dramatic lay-figure, to be contradicted and

embraced and wept over and bullied and clutched and stabbed and

knocked about in a variety of ways, I soon declined that course of

instruction; though not until Mr. Wopsle in his poetic fury had

severely mauled me.

Whatever I acquired, I tried to impart to Joe. This statement

sounds so well, that I cannot in my conscience let it pass

unexplained. I wanted to make Joe less ignorant and common, that he

might be worthier of my society and less open to Estella's

reproach.

The old Battery out on the marshes was our place of study, and a

broken slate and a short piece of slate pencil were our educational

implements: to which Joe always added a pipe of tobacco. I never

knew Joe to remember anything from one Sunday to another, or to

acquire, under my tuition, any piece of information whatever. Yet

he would smoke his pipe at the Battery with a far more sagacious

air than anywhere else - even with a learned air - as if he

considered himself to be advancing immensely. Dear fellow, I hope

he did.

It was pleasant and quiet, out there with the sails on the river

passing beyond the earthwork, and sometimes, when the tide was low,

looking as if they belonged to sunken ships that were still sailing

on at the bottom of the water. Whenever I watched the vessels

standing out to sea with their white sails spread, I somehow

thought of Miss Havisham and Estella; and whenever the light struck

aslant, afar off, upon a cloud or sail or green hill-side or

water-line, it was just the same. - Miss Havisham and Estella and

the strange house and the strange life appeared to have something

to do with everything that was picturesque.

One Sunday when Joe, greatly enjoying his pipe, had so plumed

himself on being "most awful dull," that I had given him up for the

day, I lay on the earthwork for some time with my chin on my hand,

descrying traces of Miss Havisham and Estella all over the

prospect, in the sky and in the water, until at last I resolved to

mention a thought concerning them that had been much in my head.

"Joe," said I; "don't you think I ought to make Miss Havisham a

visit?"

"Well, Pip," returned Joe, slowly considering. "What for?"

"What for, Joe? What is any visit made for?"

"There is some wisits, p'r'aps," said Joe, "as for ever remains

open to the question, Pip. But in regard to wisiting Miss Havisham.

She might think you wanted something - expected something of her."

"Don't you think I might say that I did not, Joe?"

"You might, old chap," said Joe. "And she might credit it.

Similarly she mightn't."

Joe felt, as I did, that he had made a point there, and he pulled

hard at his pipe to keep himself from weakening it by repetition.

"You see, Pip," Joe pursued, as soon as he was past that danger,

"Miss Havisham done the handsome thing by you.

Charles Dickens
Classic Literature Library
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