+ ~ -
Please report pronunciation problems here. Select and sample other voices. Options Pause Play
Report an Error




ONE day when I was busy with my books
and Mr. Pocket, I received a note by the post,
the mere outside of which threw me into a great
flutter; for, though I had never seen the handwriting
in which it was addressed, I divined
whose hand it was. It had no set beginning, as
Dear Mr. Pip, or Dear Pip, or Dear Sir, or
Dear Anything, but ran thus:

"I am to come to London the day after to-morrow
by the mid-day coach. I believe it was settled you
should meet me? at all events Miss Havisham has
that impression, and I write in obedience to it. She
sends you her regard. Yours, ESTELLA."

If there had been time, I should probably
have ordered several suits of clothes for this
occasion; but as there was not, I was fain to
be content with those I had. My appetite
vanished instantly, and I knew no peace or rest
until the day arrived. Not that its arrival
brought me either; for, then I was worse than
ever, and began haunting the coach-office in
Wood-street, Cheapside, before the coach had
left the Blue Boar in our town. For all that
I knew this perfectly well, I still felt as if it
were not safe to let the coach-office be out of
my sight longer than five minutes at a time;
and in this condition of unreason I had performed
the first half-hour of a watch of four
or five hours, when Mr. Wemmick ran against

"Halloa, Mr. Pip," said he; " how do you
do? I should hardly have thought this was
your beat."

I explained that I was waiting to meet somebody
who was coming up by coach, and I inquired
after the Castle and the Aged.

"Both flourishing, thankye," said Wemmick,
"and particularly the Aged. He's in wonderful
feather. He'll be eighty-two next birthday.
I have a notion of firing eighty-two times, if
the neighbourhood shouldn't complain, and that
cannon of mine should prove equal to the
pressure. However, this is not London talk.
Where do you think I am going to?"

"To the office?" said I, for he was tending
in that direction.

"Next thing to it," returned Wemmick,
"I am going to Newgate. We are in a bankers-
parcel case just at present, and I have been
down the road taking a squint at the scene of
action, and thereupon must have a word or two
with our client."

"Did your client commit the robbery?" I

"Bless your soul and body, no," answered
Wemmick, very dryly. " But he is accused of
it. So might you or I be. Either of us might
be accused of it, you know."

"Only neither of us is," I remarked.

"Yah!" said Wemmick, touching me on the
breast with his forefinger; "you're a deep one,
Mr. Pip! Would you like to have a look at
Newgate? Have you time to spare?"

I had so much time to spare, that the proposal
came as a relief, notwithstanding its
irreconcilability with my latent desire to keep my
eye on the coach-office. Muttering that I
would make the inquiry whether I had time to
walk with him, I went into the office, and
ascertained from the clerk with the nicest precision
and much to the trying of his temper, the earliest
moment at which the coach could be
expectedwhich I knew beforehand, quite as
well as he. I then rejoined Mr. Wemmick, and
affecting to consult my watch and to be
surprised by the information I had received,
accepted his offer.

We were at Newgate in a few minutes, and
we passed through the lodge where some fetters
were hanging up on the bare walls among the
prison rules, into the interior of the jail. At
that time, jails were much neglected, and the
period of exaggerated reaction consequent on
all public wrong-doing -- and which is always
its heaviest and longest punishmentwas still
far off. So, felons were not lodged and fed
better than soldiers (to say nothing of paupers),
and seldom set fire to their prisons with the
excusable object of improving the flavour of
their soup. It was visiting time when
Wemmick took me in; and a potman was going his
rounds with beer; and the prisoners behind bars
in yards, were buying beer, and talking to
friends; and a frouzy, ugly, disorderly, depressing
scene it was.

It struck me that Wemmick walked among
the prisoners, much as a gardener might walk
among his plants. This was first put into my
head by his seeing a shoot that had come up in