He was stopped in his running on and in his shaking hands with me, by seeing Provis. Provis, regarding him with a fixed attention, was slowly putting up his jack-knife, and groping in another pocket for something else.
“Herbert, my dear friend,” said I, shutting the double doors, while Herbert stood staring and wondering, “something very strange has happened. This is — a visitor of mine.”
“It’s all right, dear boy!” said Provis coming forward, with his little clasped black book, and then addressing himself to Herbert. “Take it in your right hand. Lord strike you dead on the spot, if ever you split in any way sumever! Kiss it!”
“Do so, as he wishes it,” I said to Herbert. So, Herbert, looking at me with a friendly uneasiness and amazement, complied, and Provis immediately shaking hands with him, said, “Now you’re on your oath, you know. And never believe me on mine, if Pip shan’t make a gentleman on you!”
In vain should I attempt to describe the astonishment and disquiet of Herbert, when he and I and Provis sat down before the fire, and I recounted the whole of the secret. Enough, that I saw my own feelings reflected in Herbert’s face, and, not least among them, my repugnance towards the man who had done so much for me.
What would alone have set a division between that man and us, if there had been no other dividing circumstance, was his triumph in my story. Saving his troublesome sense of having been “low’ on one occasion since his return — on which point he began to hold forth to Herbert, the moment my revelation was finished — he had no perception of the possibility of my finding any fault with my good fortune. His boast that he had made me a gentleman, and that he had come to see me support the character on his ample resources, was made for me quite as much as for himself; and that it was a highly agreeable boast to both of us, and that we must both be very proud of it, was a conclusion quite established in his own mind.
“Though, look’ee here, Pip’s comrade,” he said to Herbert, after having discoursed for some time, “I know very well that once since I come back — for half a minute — I’ve been low. I said to Pip, I knowed as I had been low. But don’t you fret yourself on that score. I ain’t made Pip a gentleman, and Pip ain’t a-going to make you a gentleman, not fur me not to know what’s due to ye both. Dear boy, and Pip’s comrade, you two may count upon me always having a gen-teel muzzle on. Muzzled I have been since that half a minute when I was betrayed into lowness, muzzled I am at the present time, muzzled I ever will be.”
Herbert said, “Certainly,” but looked as if there were no specific consolation in this, and remained perplexed and dismayed. We were anxious for the time when he would go to his lodging, and leave us together, but he was evidently jealous of leaving us together, and sat late. It was midnight before I took him round to Essex-street, and saw him safely in at his own dark door. When it closed upon him, I experienced the first moment of relief I had known since the night of his arrival.