No more low wet grounds, no more dykes and sluices, no more of these grazing cattle — though they seemed, in their dull manner, to wear a more respectful air now, and to face round, in order that they might stare as long as possible at the possessor of such great expectations — farewell, monotonous acquaintances of my childhood, henceforth I was for London and greatness: not for smith’s work in general and for you! I made my exultant way to the old Battery, and, lying down there to consider the question whether Miss Havisham intended me for Estella, fell asleep.
When I awoke, I was much surprised to find Joe sitting beside me, smoking his pipe. He greeted me with a cheerful smile on my opening my eyes, and said:
“As being the last time, Pip, I thought I’d foller.”
“And Joe, I am very glad you did so.”
“You may be sure, dear Joe,” I went on, after we had shaken hands, “that I shall never forget you.”
“No, no, Pip!” said Joe, in a comfortable tone, “I’m sure of that. Ay, ay, old chap! Bless you, it were only necessary to get it well round in a man’s mind, to be certain on it. But it took a bit of time to get it well round, the change come so oncommon plump; didn’t it?”
Somehow, I was not best pleased with Joe’s being so mightily secure of me. I should have liked him to have betrayed emotion, or to have said, “It does you credit, Pip,” or something of that sort. Therefore, I made no remark on Joe’s first head: merely saying as to his second, that the tidings had indeed come suddenly, but that I had always wanted to be a gentleman, and had often and often speculated on what I would do, if I were one.
“Have you though?” said Joe. “Astonishing!”
“It’s a pity now, Joe,” said I, “that you did not get on a little more, when we had our lessons here; isn’t it?”
“Well, I don’t know,” returned Joe. “I’m so awful dull. I’m only master of my own trade. It were always a pity as I was so awful dull; but it’s no more of a pity now, than it was — this day twelvemonth — don’t you see?”
What I had meant was, that when I came into my property and was able to do something for Joe, it would have been much more agreeable if he had been better qualified for a rise in station. He was so perfectly innocent of my meaning, however, that I thought I would mention it to Biddy in preference.
So, when we had walked home and had had tea, I took Biddy into our little garden by the side of the lane, and, after throwing out in a general way for the elevation of her spirits, that I should never forget her, said I had a favour to ask of her.
“And it is, Biddy,” said I, “that you will not omit any opportunity of helping Joe on, a little.”
“How helping him on?” asked Biddy, with a steady sort of glance.
“Well! Joe is a dear good fellow — in fact, I think he is the dearest fellow that ever lived — but he is rather backward in some things. For instance, Biddy, in his learning and his manners.”