But, unwilling to hazard the responsibility, she let me
in, and presently brought the sharp message that I was to "come
Everything was unchanged, and Miss Havisham was alone.
"Well?" said she, fixing her eyes upon me. "I hope you want
nothing? You'll get nothing."
"No, indeed, Miss Havisham. I only wanted you to know that I am
doing very well in my apprenticeship, and am always much obliged to
"There, there!" with the old restless fingers. "Come now and then;
come on your birthday. - Ay!" she cried suddenly, turning herself
and her chair towards me, "You are looking round for Estella? Hey?"
I had been looking round - in fact, for Estella - and I stammered
that I hoped she was well.
"Abroad," said Miss Havisham; "educating for a lady; far out of
reach; prettier than ever; admired by all who see her. Do you feel
that you have lost her?"
There was such a malignant enjoyment in her utterance of the last
words, and she broke into such a disagreeable laugh, that I was at
a loss what to say. She spared me the trouble of considering, by
dismissing me. When the gate was closed upon me by Sarah of the
walnut-shell countenance, I felt more than ever dissatisfied with
my home and with my trade and with everything; and that was all I
took by that motion.
As I was loitering along the High-street, looking in disconsolately
at the shop windows, and thinking what I would buy if I were a
gentleman, who should come out of the bookshop but Mr. Wopsle. Mr
Wopsle had in his hand the affecting tragedy of George Barnwell, in
which he had that moment invested sixpence, with the view of
heaping every word of it on the head of Pumblechook, with whom he
was going to drink tea. No sooner did he see me, than he appeared
to consider that a special Providence had put a 'prentice in his
way to be read at; and he laid hold of me, and insisted on my
accompanying him to the Pumblechookian parlour. As I knew it would
be miserable at home, and as the nights were dark and the way was
dreary, and almost any companionship on the road was better than
none, I made no great resistance; consequently, we turned into
Pumblechook's just as the street and the shops were lighting up.
As I never assisted at any other representation of George Barnwell,
I don't know how long it may usually take; but I know very well
that it took until half-past nine o' clock that night, and that
when Mr. Wopsle got into Newgate, I thought he never would go to the
scaffold, he became so much slower than at any former period of his
disgraceful career. I thought it a little too much that he should
complain of being cut short in his flower after all, as if he had
not been running to seed, leaf after leaf, ever since his course
began. This, however, was a mere question of length and
wearisomeness. What stung me, was the identification of the whole
affair with my unoffending self. When Barnwell began to go wrong, I
declare that I felt positively apologetic, Pumblechook's indignant
stare so taxed me with it. Wopsle, too, took pains to present me in
the worst light. At once ferocious and maudlin, I was made to
murder my uncle with no extenuating circumstances whatever;
Millwood put me down in argument, on every occasion; it became
sheer monomania in my master's daughter to care a button for me;
and all I can say for my gasping and procrastinating conduct on the
fatal morning, is, that it was worthy of the general feebleness of
my character. Even after I was happily hanged and Wopsle had closed
the book, Pumblechook sat staring at me, and shaking his head, and
saying, "Take warning, boy, take warning!" as if it were a
well-known fact that I contemplated murdering a near relation,
provided I could only induce one to have the weakness to become my
It was a very dark night when it was all over, and when I set out
with Mr. Wopsle on the walk home.