Great Expectations eBook

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

For such reasons I was very glad when ten o’clock came and we started for Miss Havisham’s; though I was not at all at my ease regarding the manner in which I should acquit myself under that lady’s roof.  Within a quarter of an hour we came to Miss Havisham’s house, which was of old brick, and dismal, and had a great many iron bars to it.  Some of the windows had been walled up; of those that remained, all the lower were rustily barred.  There was a court-yard in front, and that was barred; so, we had to wait, after ringing the bell, until some one should come to open it.  While we waited at the gate, I peeped in (even then Mr. Pumblechook said, “And fourteen?” but I pretended not to hear him), and saw that at the side of the house there was a large brewery.  No brewing was going on in it, and none seemed to have gone on for a long long time.

A window was raised, and a clear voice demanded “What name?” To which my conductor replied, “Pumblechook.”  The voice returned, “Quite right,” and the window was shut again, and a young lady came across the court-yard, with keys in her hand.

“This,” said Mr. Pumblechook, “is Pip.”

“This is Pip, is it?” returned the young lady, who was very pretty and seemed very proud; “come in, Pip.”

Mr. Pumblechook was coming in also, when she stopped him with the gate.

“Oh!” she said.  “Did you wish to see Miss Havisham?”

“If Miss Havisham wished to see me,” returned Mr. Pumblechook, discomfited.

“Ah!” said the girl; “but you see she don’t.”

She said it so finally, and in such an undiscussible way, that Mr. Pumblechook, though in a condition of ruffled dignity, could not protest.  But he eyed me severely — as if I had done anything to him! — and departed with the words reproachfully delivered:  “Boy!  Let your behaviour here be a credit unto them which brought you up by hand!” I was not free from apprehension that he would come back to propound through the gate, “And sixteen?” But he didn’t.

My young conductress locked the gate, and we went across the court-yard.  It was paved and clean, but grass was growing in every crevice.  The brewery buildings had a little lane of communication with it, and the wooden gates of that lane stood open, and all the brewery beyond, stood open, away to the high enclosing wall; and all was empty and disused.  The cold wind seemed to blow colder there, than outside the gate; and it made a shrill noise in howling in and out at the open sides of the brewery, like the noise of wind in the rigging of a ship at sea.

She saw me looking at it, and she said, “You could drink without hurt all the strong beer that’s brewed there now, boy.”

“I should think I could, miss,” said I, in a shy way.

“Better not try to brew beer there now, or it would turn out sour, boy; don’t you think so?”

“It looks like it, miss.”

“Not that anybody means to try,” she added, “for that’s all done with, and the place will stand as idle as it is, till it falls.  As to strong beer, there’s enough of it in the cellars already, to drown the Manor House.”

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Great Expectations from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.