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Chapter 53: At the Old Sluice-House... Notes from Great Expectations

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Great Expectations Chapter 53: At the Old Sluice-House...

Pip walks through the rain-soaked marshes and enters the old sluice house, where he is jumped in the dark and quickly tied up. When a candle is lit, Orlick's face appears, and Joe's old journeyman, who was never very nice, turns positively nasty. He's swigging from a bottle of liquor and shouting at Pip that he'll kill him, kill him for the way he stood between him and Biddy. Orlick tells Pip he attacked Mrs. Joe, though the fault lay with Pip, for being favored while Old Orlick was "bullied and beat" (498). Orlick's rage has been so consuming that he's learned a lot about Pip's life, including the truth of Magwitch. He shouts that Magwitch should beware of Compeyson.

Pip decides he won't go down without a fight, and just as Orlick finishes off the last of his bottle, Pip lets out a mighty scream. The scream has the desired effect, for the door bursts open, there's a scuffle, and Orlick escapes into the night. When Pip gets his senses back, he sees Trabb's boy, and right behind him, Herbert and Startop.

Apparently, in his haste to leave the Temple, Pip dropped Orlick's note on the floor. Herbert put two and two together, and gathered a small posse to rescue his friend. After he hears how vengeful Orlick was, Herbert wants to take out a warrant for his capture, but Pip is convinced that time is too tight, that they best focus all their energy now on preparing for Magwitch's escape.

Rarely does Pip get a good night's sleep these days, and the next night is no exception, as he awakens again and again, afraid that the authorities have come to arrest Magwitch. But Wednesday arrives without incident, and Pip wakes up feeling strong and sharp, ready to make the big getaway.

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