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IT is a most miserable thing to feel ashamed of
home. There may be black ingratitude in the
thing, and the punishment may be retributive
and well deserved; but that it is a miserable
thing, I can testify.

Home had never been a very pleasant place to
me, because of my sister's temper. But, Joe had
sanctified it, and I had believed in it. I had
believed in the best parlour as a most elegant
saloon; I had believed in the front door, as a
mysterious portal of the Temple of State whose
solemn opening was attended with a sacrifice
of roast fowls; I had believed in the kitchen
as a chaste though not magnificent apartment;
I had believed in the forge as the glowing
road to manhood and independence. Within a
single year, all this was changed. Now, it was
all coarse and common, and I would not have
had Miss Havisham and Estella see it on any

How much of my ungracious condition of
mind may have been my own fault, how much
Miss Havisham's, how much my sister's, is now
of no moment to me or to any one. The change
was made in me ; the thing was done. Well or
ill done, excusably or inexcusably, it was done.

Once, it had seemed to me that when I should
at last roll up my shirt-sleeves and go into the
forge, Joe's 'prentice, I should be distinguished
and happy. Now the reality was in my hold, I
only felt that I was dusty with the dust of small
coal, and that I had a weight upon my daily
remembrance to which the anvil was a feather.
There have been occasions in my later life (I
suppose as in most lives) when I have felt for a
time as if a thick curtain had fallen on all its
interest and romance, to shut me out from anything
save dull endurance any more. Never has
that curtain dropped so heavy and blank, as when
my way in life lay stretched out straight before
me through the newly-entered road of apprenticeship
to Joe.

I remember that at a later period of my
"time" I used to stand about the churchyard
on Sunday evenings when night was falling,
comparing my own perspective with the windy
marsh view, and making out some likeness between
them by thinking how flat and low both
were, and how on both there came an unknown
way and a dark mist and then the sea. I was
quite as dejected on the first working-day of my
apprenticeship as in that after-time ; but I am
glad to know that I never breathed a murmur to
Joe while my indentures lasted. It is about the
only thing I am glad to know of myself in that

For, though it includes what I proceed to add,
all the merit of what I proceed to add was Joe's.
It was not because I was faithful, but because
Joe was faithful, that I never ran away and went
or a soldier or a sailor. It was not because I
had a strong sense of the virtue of industry, but
because Joe had a strong sense of the virtue of
industry, that I worked with tolerable zeal
against the grain. It is not possible to know
how far the influence of any amiable honest-hearted
duty-doing man flies out into the world;
but it is very possible to know how it has
touched one's self in going by, and I know right
well that any good that intermixed itself with
my apprenticeship came of plain contented Joe,
and not of restlessly aspiring discontented me.

What I wanted, who can say? How can I
say, when I never knew? What I dreaded was,
that in some unlucky hour I, being at my
grimiest and commonest, should lift up my
eyes and see Estella looking in at one of the
wooden windows of the forge. I was haunted
by the fear that she would, sooner or later, find
me out, with a black face and hands, doing the
coarsest part of my work, and would exult over
me and despise me. Often after dark, when I was
pulling the bellows for Joe and we were singing
Old Clem, and when the thought how we used
to sing it at Miss Havisham's would seem to
show me Estella's face in the fire with her pretty
hair fluttering in the wind and her eyes scorning
me, — often at such a time I would look towards
those panels of black night in the wall which
the wooden windows then were, and would
fancy that I saw her just drawing her face away,
and would believe that she had come at last.

After that, when we went in to supper, the
place and the meal would have a more homely
look than ever, and I would feel more ashamed
of home than ever in my own ungracious breast.


As I was getting too big for Mr. Wopsle's
great-aunt's room, my education under that preposterous
female terminated. Not, however,