Great Expectations eBook

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

Perhaps, I might have told Joe about the pale young gentleman, if I had not previously been betrayed into those enormous inventions to which I had confessed.  Under the circumstances, I felt that Joe could hardly fail to discern in the pale young gentleman, an appropriate passenger to be put into the black velvet coach; therefore, I said nothing of him.  Besides:  that shrinking from having Miss Havisham and Estella discussed, which had come upon me in the beginning, grew much more potent as time went on.  I reposed complete confidence in no one but Biddy; but, I told poor Biddy everything.  Why it came natural to me to do so, and why Biddy had a deep concern in everything I told her, I did not know then, though I think I know now.

Meanwhile, councils went on in the kitchen at home, fraught with almost insupportable aggravation to my exasperated spirit.  That ass, Pumblechook, used often to come over of a night for the purpose of discussing my prospects with my sister; and I really do believe (to this hour with less penitence than I ought to feel), that if these hands could have taken a linchpin out of his chaise-cart, they would have done it.  The miserable man was a man of that confined stolidity of mind, that he could not discuss my prospects without having me before him — as it were, to operate upon — and he would drag me up from my stool (usually by the collar) where I was quiet in a corner, and, putting me before the fire as if I were going to be cooked, would begin by saying, “Now, Mum, here is this boy!  Here is this boy which you brought up by hand.  Hold up your head, boy, and be for ever grateful unto them which so did do.  Now, Mum, with respections to this boy!” And then he would rumple my hair the wrong way — which from my earliest remembrance, as already hinted, I have in my soul denied the right of any fellow-creature to do — and would hold me before him by the sleeve:  a spectacle of imbecility only to be equalled by himself.

Then, he and my sister would pair off in such nonsensical speculations about Miss Havisham, and about what she would do with me and for me, that I used to want — quite painfully — to burst into spiteful tears, fly at Pumblechook, and pummel him all over.  In these dialogues, my sister spoke to me as if she were morally wrenching one of my teeth out at every reference; while Pumblechook himself, self-constituted my patron, would sit supervising me with a depreciatory eye, like the architect of my fortunes who thought himself engaged on a very unremunerative job.

In these discussions, Joe bore no part.  But he was often talked at, while they were in progress, by reason of Mrs. Joe’s perceiving that he was not favourable to my being taken from the forge.  I was fully old enough now, to be apprenticed to Joe; and when Joe sat with the poker on his knees thoughtfully raking out the ashes between the lower bars, my sister would so distinctly construe that innocent

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Great Expectations from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.