Great Expectations eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 554 pages of information about Great Expectations.

“What do you want?” I asked, starting; “I don’t know you.”

“Well, sir,” returned one of them, bending down and touching me on the shoulder, “this is a matter that you’ll soon arrange, I dare say, but you’re arrested.”

“What is the debt?”

“Hundred and twenty-three pound, fifteen, six.  Jeweller’s account, I think.”

“What is to be done?”

“You had better come to my house,” said the man.  “I keep a very nice house.”

I made some attempt to get up and dress myself.  When I next attended to them, they were standing a little off from the bed, looking at me.  I still lay there.

“You see my state,” said I.  “I would come with you if I could; but indeed I am quite unable.  If you take me from here, I think I shall die by the way.”

Perhaps they replied, or argued the point, or tried to encourage me to believe that I was better than I thought.  Forasmuch as they hang in my memory by only this one slender thread, I don’t know what they did, except that they forbore to remove me.

That I had a fever and was avoided, that I suffered greatly, that I often lost my reason, that the time seemed interminable, that I confounded impossible existences with my own identity; that I was a brick in the house wall, and yet entreating to be released from the giddy place where the builders had set me; that I was a steel beam of a vast engine, clashing and whirling over a gulf, and yet that I implored in my own person to have the engine stopped, and my part in it hammered off; that I passed through these phases of disease, I know of my own remembrance, and did in some sort know at the time.  That I sometimes struggled with real people, in the belief that they were murderers, and that I would all at once comprehend that they meant to do me good, and would then sink exhausted in their arms, and suffer them to lay me down, I also knew at the time.  But, above all, I knew that there was a constant tendency in all these people — who, when I was very ill, would present all kinds of extraordinary transformations of the human face, and would be much dilated in size — above all, I say, I knew that there was an extraordinary tendency in all these people, sooner or later to settle down into the likeness of Joe.

After I had turned the worst point of my illness, I began to notice that while all its other features changed, this one consistent feature did not change.  Whoever came about me, still settled down into Joe.  I opened my eyes in the night, and I saw in the great chair at the bedside, Joe.  I opened my eyes in the day, and, sitting on the window-seat, smoking his pipe in the shaded open window, still I saw Joe.  I asked for cooling drink, and the dear hand that gave it me was Joe’s.  I sank back on my pillow after drinking, and the face that looked so hopefully and tenderly upon me was the face of Joe.

At last, one day, I took courage, and said, “Is it Joe?”

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Great Expectations from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.