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WHY should I pause to ask how much of my
shrinking from Provis might be traced to
Estella? Why should I loiter on my road, to
compare the state of mind in which I had tried to
rid myself of the stain of the prison before meeting
her at the coach-office, with the state of mind
in which I now reflected on the abyss between
Esella in her pride and beauty, and the
returned transport whom I harboured? The road
would be none the smoother for it, the end
would be none the better for it, he would not
be helped, nor I extenuated.

A new fear had been engendered in my mind by
his narrative; or rather, his narrative had given
form and purpose to the fear that was already
there. If Compeyson were alive and should
discover his return, I could hardly doubt the
consequence. That Compeyson stood in mortal fear
of him, neither of the two could know much
better than I; and that any such man as that
man had been described to be, would hesitate
to release himself for good from a dreaded
enemy by the safe means of becoming an
informer, was scarcely to be imagined.

Never had I breathed, and never would I
breathe orso I resolveda word of Estella to
Provis. But, I said to Herbert that before I
could go abroad, I must see both Estella and
Miss Havisham. This was when we were left
alone on the night of the day when Provis told
us his story. I resolved to go out to Richmond
next day, and I went.

On my presenting myself at Mrs. Brandley's,
Estella's maid was called to tell me that Estella
had gone into the country. Where? To Satis
House, as usual. Not as usual, I said, for she
had never yet gone there without me; when
was she coming back? There was an air of reservation
in the answer which increased my
perplexity, and the answer was, that her maid
believed she was only coming back at all for a little
while. I could make nothing of this, except
that it was meant that I should make nothing
of it, and I went home again in complete

Another night-consultation with Herbert after
Provis was gone home (I always took him home,
and always looked well about me), led us to the
conclusion that nothing should be said about
going abroad until I came back from Miss
Havisham's. In the mean time, Herbert and I were
to consider separately what it would be best to
say; whether we should devise any pretence of
being afraid that he was under suspicious
observation; or whether I, who had never yet been
abroad, should propose an expedition. We both
knew that I had but to propose anything, and
he would consent. We agreed that his remaining
many days in his present hazard was not to
be thought of.

Next day, I had the meanness to feign that I
was under a binding promise to go down to Joe;
but I was capable of almost any meanness towards
Joe or his name. Provis was to be strictly careful
while I was gone, and Herbert was to take the
charge of him that I had taken. I was to be absent
only one night, and, on my return, the gratification
of his impatience for my starting as a gentleman
on a greater scale, was to be begun. It occurred
to me then, and as I afterwards found to
Herbert also, that he might be best got away across
the water, on that pretenceas, to make
purchases, or the like.

Having thus cleared the way for my expedition
to Miss Havisham's, I set off by the early
morning coach before it was yet light, and was
out on the open country-road when the day came
creeping on, halting and whimpering and shivering,
and wrapped in patches of cloud and rags
of mist, like a beggar. When we drove up to the
Blue Boar after a drizzly ride, whom should I see
come out under the gateway, toothpick in hand,
to look at the coach, but Bentley Drummle!

As he pretended not to see me, I pretended
not to see him. It was a very lame pretence
on both sides; the lamer, because we both went
into the coffee-room, where he had just finished
his breakfast and where I ordered mine. It was
poisonous to me to see him in the town, for I
very well knew why he had come there.

Pretending to read a smeary newspaper long
out of date, which had nothing half so legible
in its local news, as the foreign matter of coffee,
pickles, fish sauces, gravy, melted butter,
and wine, with which it was sprinkled all over,
as if it had taken the measles in a highly
irregular form, I sat at my table while he stood
before the fire. By degrees it became an enormous
injury to me that he stood before the fire,
and I got up, determined to have my share of it.
I had to put my hand behind his legs for the