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WHEN I reached home, my sister was very
curious to know all about Miss Havisham’s,
and asked a number of questions. And I
soon found myself getting heavily bumped
from behind in the nape of the neck and the
small of the back, and having my face
ignominiously shoved against the kitchen wall,
because I did not answer those questions at
sufficient length.

If a dread of not being understood be hidden
in the breasts of other young people to anything
like the extent to which it used to be hidden in
minewhich I consider probable, as I have no
particular reason to suspect myself of having
been a monstrosityit is the key to many
reservations. I felt convinced that if I
described Miss Havisham’s as my eyes had seen
it, I should not be understood. Not only that,
but I felt convinced that Miss Havisham too
would not be understood; and although she was
perfectly incomprehensible to me, I entertained
an impression that there would be something
coarse and treacherous in my dragging her as
she really was (to say nothing of Miss Estella)
before the contemplation of Mrs. Joe.
Consequently, I said as little as I could, and had my
face shoved against the kitchen wall.

The worst of it was that that bullying old
Pumblechook, preyed upon by a devouring
curiosity to be informed of all I had seen and
heard, came gaping over in his chaise-cart at tea
time, to have the details divulged to him. And
the mere sight of the torment, with his fishy eyes
and mouth open, his sandy hair inquisitively on
end and his waistcoat heaving with windy
arithmetic, made me vicious in my reticence.

“Well, boy,” Uncle Pumblechook began, as
soon as he was seated in the chair of honour by
the fire. “How did you get on up town?”

I answered “Pretty well, sir,” and my sister
shook her fist at me.

“Pretty well?” Mr. Pumblechook repeated.
“Pretty well is no answer. Tell us what you
mean by pretty well, boy?”

Whitewash on the forehead hardens the brain
into a state of obstinacy perhaps. Anyhow,
with whitewash from the wall on my forehead,
my obstinacy was adamantine. I reflected for
some time, and then answered as if I had
discovered a new idea, “I mean pretty well.”

My sister with an exclamation of impatience
was going to fly at meI had no shadow of
defence, for Joe was busy in the forgewhen
Mr. Pumblechook interposed with “No! Don’t
lose your temper. Leave this lad to me, ma’am;
leave this lad to me.” Mr. Pumblechook then
turned me towards him, as if he were going to
cut my hair, and said:

“First (to get our thoughts in order): Forty-
three pence?”

I calculated the consequences of replying
“Four Hundred Pound,” and, finding them
against me, went as near the answer as I could
which was somewhere about eightpence off.
Mr. Pumblechook then put me through my
pence-table from “twelve pence make one
shilling,” up to “forty pence make three and four
pence,” and then triumphantly demanded, as if
he had done for me, “Now! How much is
forty-three pence?” To which I replied, after
a long interval of reflection, “I don't know.”
And I was so aggravated that I almost doubt if
I did know.

Mr. Pumblechook worked his head like a
screw to screw it out of me, and said, “Is forty-
three pence seven and sixpence three fardens,
for instance?”

“Yes!” said I. And although my sister
instantly boxed my ears, it was highly gratifying
to me to see that the answer spoilt his joke,
and brought him to a dead stop.

“Boy! What like is Miss Havisham?” Mr.
Pumblechook began again when he had
recovered; folding his arms tight on his chest
and applying the screw.

“Very tall and dark,” I told him.

“Is she, uncle?” asked my sister.

Mr. Pumblechook winked assent; from which
I at once inferred that he had never seen Miss
Havisham, for she was nothing of the kind.

“Good!” said Mr. Pumblechook, conceitedly.
(“This is the way to have him! We are beginning
to hold our own, I think, Mum?”)

“I am sure, uncle,” returned Mrs. Joe, “I
wish you had him always: you know so well
how to deal with him.”

“Now, boy! What was she a doing of, when
you went in to-day?” asked Mr. Pumblechook.

“She was sitting,” I answered, “in a black
velvet coach.”

Mr. Pumblechook and Mrs. Joe stared at one