Part 3 out of 4
Every time that Kit passed through the office, Mr. Brass spoke kindly to
him, and not seldom gave him half-crowns, which made Kit, who from the
first had disliked the man, think that he had misjudged him. Then one day
when Kit had been minding the office a few moments for Mr. Brass, and was
running towards home, in haste to do his work there, Mr. Brass and his
clerk, Dick Swiveller, rushed out after him.
"Stop!" cried Sampson, laying his hand on one shoulder, while Mr.
Swiveller pounced upon the other. "Not so fast, sir. You're in a hurry?"
"Yes, I am," said Kit, looking from one to the other in great surprise.
"I--I--can hardly believe it," panted Sampson, "but something of value is
missing from the office. I hope you don't know what."
"Know what! good heaven, Mr. Brass!" cried Kit, trembling from head to
foot; "you don't suppose----"
"No, no," rejoined Brass, quickly, "I don't suppose anything. You will
come back quietly, I hope?"
"Of course I will," returned Kit. "Why not?"
Kit did turn from white to red, and from red to white again, when they
secured him, each by an arm, and for a moment he seemed disposed to
resist. But, quickly recollecting himself, and remembering that if he made
any struggle, he would perhaps be dragged by the collar through the public
streets, he suffered them to lead him off.
"Now, you know," said Brass, when they had entered the office, and locked
the door, "if this is a case of innocence, Christopher, the fullest
disclosure is the best satisfaction for everybody. Therefore, if you'll
consent to an examination, it will be a comfortable and pleasant thing for
"_SEARCH ME_" said Kit, proudly, holding up his arms. "But mind, sir,--I
know you'll be sorry for this to the last day of your life."
"It is certainly a very painful occurrence," said Brass, with a sigh, but
commencing the search with vigour. All at once an exclamation from Dick
Swiveller and Miss Brass, Sampson's sister, who was also present, cut the
lawyer short He turned his head, and saw Dick, who had been holding Kit's
hat, standing with the missing bank-note in his hand.
"In the hat?" cried Brass, in a sort of shriek, "_Under the handkerchief,
and tucked beneath the lining_," said Mr. Swiveller, aghast, at the
discovery. Mr. Brass looked at him, at his sister, at the walls, at the
ceiling, at the floor, everywhere but at Kit, who stood quite stupefied
Like one entranced, he stood, eyes wide opened, and fixed upon the ground,
until the constable came, and he found himself being driven away in a
coach, to the jail, where he was lodged for the night--still dazed by the
terrible change in his affairs.
It was a long night, but Kit slept, and dreamed too--always of being at
liberty. At last the morning dawned, and the turnkey who came to unlock
his cell, and show him where to wash, told him that there was a regular
time for visiting every day, and that if any of his friends came to see
him, he would be fetched down to the grate, and that he was lodged apart
from the mass of prisoners, because he was not supposed to be utterly
depraved and irreclaimable. Kit was thankful for this indulgence, and sat
reading the Church Catechism, until the man entered again.
"Now then," he said. "Come on!"
"Where to, sir?" asked Kit.
The man contented himself by briefly replying "Wisitors," and led Kit down
behind a grating, outside which, and beyond a railing, Kit saw with a
palpitating heart, his mother with the baby in her arms; and poor little
Jacob, who, when he saw his brother, and thrusting his arms between the
rails to hug him, found that he came no nearer, began to cry most
piteously, whereupon Kit's mother burst out sobbing and weeping afresh.
Poor Kit could not help joining them, and not a word was spoken for some
"Oh, my darling Kit!" said his mother at last "That I should see my poor
"You don't believe that I did what they accuse me of, mother, dear?" cried
Kit, in a choking voice.
"I, believe it!" exclaimed the poor woman. "I, that never knew you tell a
lie or do a bad action from your cradle. I believe it of the son that's
been a comfort to me from the hour of his birth until this time! _I_
believe it of _you_, Kit!"
"Why then, thank God!" said Kit. "Come what may, I shall always have one
drop of happiness in my heart when I think that you said that."
At this the poor woman fell a-crying again, and soon, all too soon, the
turnkey cried "Time's up!" and Kit was taken off in an instant, with a
blessing from his mother and a scream from little Jacob ringing in his
Eight weary days dragged themselves along, and on the ninth the case of
Christopher Nubbles came up in Court; and the aforesaid Christopher was
called upon to plead guilty or not guilty to an indictment for that he,
the aforesaid Christopher, did feloniously abstract and steal from the
dwelling-house and office of one Sampson Brass, gentleman, one bank-note
for five pounds, issued for Governor and Company of the Bank of England.
By a cleverly worked-up case on his opponent's side, Kit is so
cross-examined as to be found guilty by the jury, and is sentenced to be
transported for a term of years.
Kit's mother, poor woman, is waiting, and when the news is told a sad
interview ensues. "_He never did it_!" she cries.
"Well," says the turnkey, "I won't contradict you. It's all one now,
whether he did it or not."
"Some friend will rise up for us, mother," cried Kit. "I am sure. If not
now, before long. My innocence will come out, mother, and I shall be
brought back again, I feel confident of that. You must teach little Jacob
and the baby how all this was, for if they thought I had ever been
dishonest, when they grew old enough to understand, it would break my
heart to know it, if I was thousands of miles away. Oh, is there no good
gentleman here who will take care of her!"
In all Kit's life that was the darkest moment, when he saw his mother led
away, half fainting, and heard the grating of his cell door as he
entered--entangled in a network of false evidence and treachery from which
there seemed no way of escape.
Meanwhile, however, while Kit was being found guilty, a young servant in
the employ of the Brasses was also guilty of listening at keyholes,
listening to a conversation which was not intended for her ears, in which
she heard the entire plot by which Mr. Brass had entrapped and condemned
Kit. How he had himself placed the money in Kit's hat while it lay upon
the office table; and how the whole plan had been successful. The small
servant, friendly to Kit, and hating her employers, lost no time in
repeating what she had heard to Mr. Garland, and he, the notary, and the
strange gentleman, after carefully arranging their plan, confronted the
Brasses with evidence of their guilt so overwhelmingly true, that they
could do nothing but confess their crime, and Kit's innocence, while Mr.
Garland hastened to him with the glad news of his freedom.
Lighted rooms, bright fires, cheerful faces, the music of glad voices,
words of love and welcome, warm hearts and tears of happiness--what a
change is this! But it is to such delights that Kit is hastening. They are
awaiting him, he knows. He fears he will die of joy before he gets among
When they are drawing near their journey's end he begs they may go more
slowly, and when the house appears in sight that they may stop,--only for
a minute or two, to give him time to breathe.
But there is no stopping then, for they are already at the garden gate.
Next minute they are at the door. There is a noise of tongues and a tread
of feet inside. It opens. Kit rushes in and finds his mother clinging
round his neck. And there is Mrs. Garland, neater and nicer than ever,
fainting away stone dead with nobody to help her; and there is Mr. Abel
violently blowing his nose and wanting to embrace everybody; and there is
the strange gentleman hovering round them all, and there is that good,
dear little Jacob sitting all alone by himself on the bottom stair, with
his hands on his knees, like an old man, roaring fearfully without giving
any trouble to anybody; and each and all of them are for the time clean
out of their wits.
Well! In the next room there are decanters of wine, and all that sort of
thing set out as grand as if Kit and his friends were first-rate company;
and there is little Jacob walking, as the popular phrase is, into a
home-made plum cake at a most surprising rate, and keeping his eye on the
figs and oranges which are to follow.
Kit no sooner comes in than the strange gentleman drinks his health, and
tells him he shall never want a friend as long as he lives, and so does
Mr. Garland, and so does Mrs. Garland, and so does Mr. Abel. But even this
honour and distinction is not all, for the strange gentleman forthwith
pulls out of his pocket a massive silver watch--and upon the back of this
watch is engraved Kit's name with flourishes all over--and in short it is
Kit's watch, bought expressly for him. Mr. and Mrs. Garland can't help
hinting about their present, in store, and Mr. Abel tells outright that he
has his; and Kit is the happiest of the happy.
There is one friend that Kit has not seen yet, and he takes the first
opportunity of slipping away and hurrying to the stable, and when Kit goes
up to caress and pat him, the pony rubs his nose against his coat and
fondles him more lovingly than ever pony fondled man. It is the crowning
circumstance of his earnest, heartfelt reception; and Kit fairly puts his
arm round Whisker's neck and hugs him.
Happy Christopher!--the darkest days of his life are past--the brightest
are yet to be. Let us wish him all joy and prosperity and leave him on the
threshold of manhood!
JO, THE CROSSING SWEEPER
[Illustration: JO, THE CROSSING SWEEPER.]
Jo lives in a ruinous place, known to the likes of him by the name of
Tom-all-Alone's. It is a black dilapidated street, avoided by all decent
people; where the crazy houses were seized upon when their decay was far
advanced, by some bold vagrants, who, after establishing their possession,
took to letting them out in lodgings.
Jo sweeps his crossing all day long, and if he is asked a question he
replies that he "don't know nothink." He knows that it's hard to keep the
mud off the crossing in dirty weather, and harder still to live by doing
it. Nobody taught him that much--he found it out.
Indeed, everything poor Jo knows he has had to find out for himself, for
no one has even taken the trouble to tell him his real name.
It must be a strange state to be like Jo, not to know the feeling of a
whole suit of clothes--to wear even in summer the same queer remnant of a
fur cap; to be always dirty and ragged; to shuffle through the streets,
unfamiliar with the shapes, and in utter darkness as to the meaning, of
those mysterious symbols so abundant over the doors and at corners of the
streets, and on the doors and in the windows. To see people read, and to
see people write, and to see the postman deliver letters, and not to have
the least idea of all that language,--to be to all of it stone blind and
It must be very puzzling to be hustled and jostled, and moved on, and to
really feel that I have no business here or there or anywhere; and yet to
be perplexed by the consideration that I _am_ here somehow, too, and
everybody overlooked me until I became the creature that I am.
One cold winter night when Jo was shivering near his crossing, a stranger
passed him; turned, looked at him intently, then came back and began to
ask him questions from which he found out that Jo had not a friend in the
"Neither have I, not one," added the man, and gave him the price of a
supper and lodging. And from that day Jo was no longer friendless, for the
stranger often spoke to him, and asked him whether he slept sound at
night, and how he bore cold and hunger; and whether he ever wished to die;
and other strange questions. Then when the man had no money he would say,
"I am as poor as you to-day, Jo," but when he had any he always shared it
But there came a time not long after this, when the stranger was found
dead in his bed, in the house of Crook, the rag-and-bottle merchant, where
he had lodgings; and nothing could be found out about his life or the
reason for his sudden death. So a jury had to be brought together to
ferret out the mystery, if possible, and to discover whether the man's
death was accidental or whether he died by his own hand. No one knew him,
and he had never been seen talking to a human soul except the boy that
swept the crossing, down the lane over the way, round the
So Jo was called in as a witness at the inquest. Says the coroner, "Is
that boy here?"
Says the beadle, "No, sir, he is not here."
Says the coroner, "Go and fetch him then."
"Oh, here's the boy, gentlemen!"
Here he is, very muddy, very hoarse, very ragged. Now, boy! But stop a
minute. Caution. This boy must be put through a few preliminary paces.
Name Jo. Nothink else that he knows on. Don't know that everybody has two
names. Don't know that Jo is short for a longer name. Thinks it long
enough for him. Spell it? No. He can't spell it. No father, no mother, no
friends. Never been to school. What's home? Knows a broom's a broom, and
knows it's wicked to tell a lie. Don't recollect who told him about the
broom or about the lie, but knows both. Can't exactly say what'll be done
to him after he's dead if he tells a lie to the gentleman here, but
believes it'll be something wery bad to punish him, and so he'll tell the
truth. "He wos wery good to me, he wos," added the boy, wiping his eyes
with his wretched sleeves. "When I see him a-laying so stritched out just
now, I wished he could have heerd me tell him so. He wos wery good to me,
The jury award their verdict of accidental death, and the stranger is
hurried into a pine box and into an obscure corner of that great home for
the friendless and unmourned,--the Potter's field,--and night falls,
hiding from sight the new-made grave.
With the night comes a slouching figure through the tunnel court, to the
outside of the iron gate of the Potter's field. It holds the gate with its
hands, and looks in between the bars. Stands looking in for a little
while. It then takes an old broom it carries, softly sweeps the step, and
makes the archway clean. It does so very busily and trimly; looks in again
a little while, and so departs.
Jo, is it thou? Well, well?
Though thou art neither a gentleman nor the son of a gentleman, there is
an expression of gratitude and of loyalty, worthy of gentle blood,
indicative of noble character, in thy muttered reason for this:----
"He wos wery good to me, he wos."
Once more without a friend, Jo sweeps his crossing day after day. Before
the stranger came into his life, he had drifted along in his accustomed
place, more unreasoning than an intelligent dog; but the hand of a human
comrade had been laid in his, and it had awakened his humanity; and now as
he sweeps he thinks--about the stranger--wonders where he has gone to, and
how he died.
As it seemed to Jo that the world was bounded on all sides by the events
in Tom-all-Alone's, he was not at all surprised one day to have another
stranger come to his crossing and ask him many questions concerning the
dead man. He was glad to talk of him, to tell again all that he knew of
his life and death, and to show where they had buried him. The interview
over, Jo is overwhelmed to find his hand closed over a piece of money
larger than he has ever owned before.
His first proceeding is to hold the piece of money to the gas-light, and
to be overpowered at finding that it is yellow gold. His next is to give
it a one-sided bite at the edge, as a test of its quality. His next, to
put it in his mouth for safety, and to sweep the step and passage with
great care. His job done, he sets off for Tom-all-Alone's, stopping in the
light of innumerable gas-lamps to produce the piece of gold, and give it
another one-sided bite as a reassurance of its being genuine; and then
shuffles off, back to his crossing; little dreaming--poor Jo!--that
because of his presence at the inquest, and because of this interview, the
rest of his existence is to be even more wretched than his past has been.
He little dreams that persons great and powerful in the outer world were
connected with the secret of his friend's life and death; but it is even
so, and those who fear to have anything brought to light concerning him,
hire officers to hunt Jo away from Tom-all-Alone's,--the only home he has
ever known,--to keep him as far out of reach as possible, because he knew
more about the stranger than any one else. He does not understand it at
all, but from that minute there seems always to be an officer in sight
telling him to "move on."
At a summons to his shop one day, Mr. Snagsby, the law-stationer (in whose
employ the dead man was, and who has always been kind to Jo when chance
has thrown him in his way), descends to find a police constable holding a
ragged boy by the arm. "Why, bless my heart," says Mr. Snagsby, "what's
"This boy," says the constable, calmly, "although he's repeatedly told to,
won't move on."
"I'm always a-moving on, sir," cries the boy, wiping away his grimy tears
with his arm. "Where can I possibly move to more nor I do?"
"Don't you come none of that, or I shall make blessed short work of you,"
says the constable, giving him a passionless shake. "My instructions are
that you are to move on."
"But where?" cries the boy.
"Well, really, constable, you know," says Mr. Snagsby, "really that _does_
seem a question. Where, you know?"
"My instructions don't go to that," replies the constable. "My
instructions are that this boy is to move on, and the sooner you're five
miles away the better for all parties."
Jo shuffles away from the spot where he has been standing, picking bits of
fur from his cap and putting them in his mouth; but before he goes Mr.
Snagsby loads him with some broken meats from the table, which he carries
away hugging in his arms.
Jo goes on, down to Blackfriars Bridge, where he finds a baking stony
corner wherein to settle his repast. There he sits munching and
gnawing--the sun going down, the river running fast, the crowd flowing by
him in two streams--everything passing on to some purpose, and to one end,
until he is stirred up, and told to move on again.
Desperate with being moved on so many times, Jo tramps out of London down
to St. Albans, where, exhausted from hunger and from exposure to extreme
cold, he takes refuge in the cottage of a bricklayer's wife. A young lady
who happens to be making a charity call on the woman in the cottage--sees
his feverish, excited condition, and questions him.
"I am a-being froze," said the boy hoarsely, with his haggard gaze
wandering about. "And then burnt up, and then froze, and then burnt up,
ever so many times in an hour, and my head's all sleepy, and all a-going
mad like--I'm so dry--and my bones isn't half as much bones as pains."
"When did he come from London?" the young lady asked.
"I come from London yesterday," said the boy himself, now flushed and hot.
"I'm a-going somewheres. Somewheres," he repeated in a louder tone. "I
have been moved on and moved on, more nor I wos afore. Mrs. Snagsby, she's
allus a-watching and a-driving of me. What have I done to her? And they're
all a-watching and a-driving of me. Everyone of them's doing of it from
the time when I don't get up to the time when I don't go to bed. And I'm
a-going somewheres, that's where I'm a-going!"
So in an oblivious half-insensible way he shuffled out of the house. The
young lady hurried after him, and presently came up with him. He must have
begun his journey with some small bundle under his arm, and must have lost
it or had it stolen, for he still carried his wretched fragment of a fur
cap like a bundle, though he went bareheaded through the rain, which now
He stopped when she called him, standing with his lustrous eyes fixed on
her, and even arrested in his shivering fit. She urged him to go with her,
and though at first he shook his head, at last he turned and followed her.
She led the way to her home, where the servants, sorry for his pitiable
condition, made a bed for him in a warm loft-room by the stable, where he
was safely housed for the night and cared for.
The next morning the young lady was awakened at an early hour by an
unusual noise outside her window, and called out to one of the men to know
the meaning of it.
"It's the boy, miss," said he.
"Is he worse?" she asked.
"Dead, miss? No. Gone clean off!"
At what time of the night he had gone, or how or why, it seemed hopeless
ever to divine. Every possible inquiry was made, and every place searched.
The brick-kilns were examined, the cottages were visited, the woman was
particularly questioned, but she knew nothing of him; the weather had been
for some time too wet, and the night itself had been too wet, to admit of
any tracing of footsteps. Hedge and ditch, and wall and rick, and stack
were examined for a long distance round, lest the boy should be lying in
such a place insensible or dead; but nothing was seen to indicate that he
had ever been near. From the time when he left the loft-room he vanished,
and after five days the search was given up as hopeless. Where had poor Jo
moved on to now?
For some time it seemed that no one would ever know, but at last, not so
very long after this, a physician, Allan Woodcourt by name--who had known
something of Jo and his story--was wandering at night in the miserable
streets of Tom-all-Alone's, impelled by curiosity to see its haunts by
gas-light. After stopping to offer assistance to a woman sitting on a
doorstep, who had evidently come a long distance, he walks away, and as he
does so he sees a ragged figure coming very cautiously along, crouching
close to the walls. It is the figure of a youth whose face is hollow, and
whose eyes have an emaciated glare. He is so intent on getting along
unseen, that even the apparition of a stranger in whole garments does not
tempt him to look back. Allan Woodcourt pauses to look after him, with a
shadowy belief that he has seen the boy before. He cannot recall how or
where, but there is some association in his mind with such a form.
He is gradually emerging from Tom-all-Alone's in the morning light,
thinking about it, when he hears running feet behind him, and, looking
around, sees the boy scouring toward him at a great speed, followed by the
"Stop him! stop him!" cries the woman; "stop him, sir!"
Allan, not knowing but that he has just robbed her of her money, follows
in chase, and runs so hard that he runs the boy down a dozen times; but
each time the boy makes a curve, ducks, dives under his hands, and scours
away again. At last the fugitive, hard pressed, takes to a narrow passage
which has no thoroughfare. Here he is brought to bay, and tumbles down,
lying down gasping at his pursuer until the woman comes up.
"Oh you Jo," cries the woman, "what, I have found you at last!"
"Jo?" repeats Allan, looking at him with attention,--"Jo? Stay--to be
sure, I recollect this lad, some time ago, being brought before the
"Yes, I see you once afore at the Inkwich," whimpered the boy. "What of
that? Can't you never let such an unfortnet as me alone? An't I unfortnet
enough for you yet? How unfortnet do you want me for to be? I've been
a-chivied and a-chivied, fust by one on you and nixt by another on you,
till I'm worritted to skins and bones. The Inkwich warn't my fault; I done
nothink. He wos very good to me he wos; he wos the only one I knowed to
speak to me as ever come across my crossing. It ain't very likely I should
want him to be Inkwich'd. I only wish I wos myself!"
He says it with such a pitiable air that Allan Woodcourt is softened
toward him. He says to the woman, "What has he done?"--to which she only
replies, shaking her head,----
"Oh you Jo! you Jo! I have found you at last!"
"What has he done?" says Allan. "Has he robbed you?"
"No, sir, no. Robbed me? He did nothing but what was kind-hearted by me,
and that's the wonder of it. But he was along with me, sir, down at St.
Albans, ill, and a young lady--Lord bless her for a good friend to
me!--took pity on him and took him home--took him home and made him
comfortable; and like a thankless monster he ran away in the night and
never has been seen or heard from since, till I set eyes on him just now.
And the young lady, that was such a pretty dear, caught his illness, lost
her beautiful looks, and wouldn't hardly be known for the same young lady
now. Do you know it? You ungrateful wretch, do you know that this is all
along of her goodness to you?" demands the woman.
The boy, stunned by what he hears, falls to smearing his dirty forehead
with his dirty palm, and to staring at the ground, and to shaking from
head to foot.
"You hear what she says!" Allan says to Joe. "You hear what she says, and
I know it's true. Have you been here ever since?"
"Wishermaydie if I seen Tom-all-Alone's till this blessed morning,"
replies Jo, hoarsely.
"Why have you come here now?"
Jo looks all around and finally answers, "I don't know how to do nothink
and I can't get nothink to do. I'm very poor and ill and I thought I'd
come back here when there warn't nobody about and lay down and hide
somewheres as I knows on till arter dark, and then go and beg a trifle of
Mr. Snagsby. He wos allus willing fur to give me something, he wos, though
Mrs. Snagsby, she wos allus a-chivying me--like everybody everywheres."
"Now, tell me," proceeds Allan, "tell me how it came about that you left
that house when the good young lady had been so unfortunate as to pity you
and take you home?"
Jo suddenly came out of his resignation, and excitedly declares that he
never known about the young lady; that he would sooner have hurt his own
self, and that he'd sooner have had his unfortnet head chopped off than
ever gone a-nigh her; and that she wos wery good to him she wos.
Allan Woodcourt sees that this is not a sham.
"Come, Jo, tell me," he urged.
"No, I durstn't," says Jo. "I durstn't or I would."
"But I must know," returns Allan, "all the same. Come, Jo!"
After two or three such adjurations, Jo lifts up his head again, and says
in a low voice, "Well, I'll tell you something. I was took away. There!"
"Taken away?--In the night?"
Ah! very apprehensive of being overheard, Jo looks about him, and even
glances up some ten feet at the top of the boarding, and through the
cracks in it, lest the object of his distrust should be looking over, or
hidden on the other side.
"Who took you away?"
"I durstn't name him," says Jo. "I durstn't do it, sir."
"But I want, in the young lady's name, to know. You may trust me. No one
else shall hear."
"Ah, but I don't know," replies Jo, shaking his head fearfully, "as he
don't hear. He's in all manner of places all at wunst."
Allan looks at him in perplexity, but discovers some real meaning at the
bottom of this bewildering reply. He patiently awaits an explicit answer,
and Jo, more baffled by his patience than by anything else, at last
desperately whispers a name in his ear.
"Aye," says Allan. "Why, what had you been doing?"
"Nothink, sir. Never done nothink to get myself into no trouble 'cept in
not moving on, and the Inkwich. But I'm moving on now. I'm moving on to
the berryin'-ground--that's the move as I'm up to."
"No, no. We will try to prevent that. But what did he do with you?"
"Put me in a horspittle," replies Jo, whispering, "till I wor discharged,
then gave me a little money. 'Nobody wants you here,' he ses. 'You go and
tramp,' he ses. 'You move on,' he ses. 'Don't let me ever see you nowheres
within forty mile of London, or you'll repent it.' So I shall if ever he
does see me, and he'll see me if I'm above ground," concludes Jo.
Allan considers a little, then remarks, turning to the woman, "He is not
so ungrateful as you supposed. He had a reason for going away, though it
was an insufficient one."
"Thank 'ee, sir, thank 'ee!" exclaims Jo. "There, now, see how hard you
was on me. But on'y you tell the young lady wot the genlmn ses, and it's
all right. For you wos wery good to me, too, and I knows it."
"Now, Jo," says Allan, "come with me and I will find you a better place
than this to lie down and hide in."
And Jo, repeating, "On'y you tell the young lady as I never went for to
hurt her, and what the genlmn ses," nods and shambles and shivers and
smears and blinks, and half-laughs and half-cries a farewell to the woman,
and takes his creeping way after Allan Woodcourt.
In a quiet, decent place, among people whom he knows will only treat the
boy with kindness, Allan finds Jo a room.
"Look here, Jo," says Allan, "this is Mr. George. He is a kind friend to
you, for he is going to give you a lodging here. You are quite safe here.
All you have to do at present is to be obedient, and to get strong; and
mind you tell us the truth here, whatever you do, Jo."
"Wishermaydie if I don't, sir," says Jo, reverting to his favourite
declaration. "I never done nothink yet but wot you knows on to get myself
into no trouble. I never wos in no other trouble at all, sir, 'cept not
knowing nothink and starwation."
"I believe it," said Allan; "and now you must lie down and rest."
"Let me lay here quiet, and not be chivied any more," falters Jo, after he
has been assisted to his bed and given medicine; "and be so kind any
person as is a-passing nigh where I used fur to sweep, as to say to Mr.
Snagsby that Jo, wot he knowed wunst, is a-movin' on right forards with
his duty, and I'll be wery thankful!"
At the boy's request, later, Mr. Snagsby is sent for, and Jo is very glad
to see his old friend, and says when they are alone that he "takes it
uncommon kind as Mr. Snagsby should come so far out of his way on account
of sich as him."
"Mr. Snagsby," says Jo, "I went and give an illness to a lady, and none of
'em never says nothink to me for having done it, on account of their being
so good and my having been so unfortnet. The lady come herself and see me
yes'day, and she ses, 'Jo,' she ses, 'we thought we'd lost you, Jo,' she
ses; and she sits down a-smilin' so quiet, and don't pass a word nor yit a
look upon me for having done it, she don't; and I turns agin the wall, I
doos, Mr. Snagsby. And Mr. Woodcot, he come to give me somethink to ease
me, wot he's allus a-doing on day and night, and wen he come over me and
a-speakin' up so bold, I see his tears a-fallin', Mr. Snagsby."
After this, Jo lies in a stupor most of the time, and Allan Woodcourt,
coming in a little later, stands looking down on the wasted form, thinking
of the thousands of strong, merry boys to whom the story of Jo's life
would sound incredible. As he stands there, Jo rouses with a start.
"Well, Jo, what is the matter? Don't be frightened."
"I thought," says Jo, who had stared and is looking around, "I thought I
wos in Tom-all-Alone's again. Ain't there nobody here but you, Mr.
"And I ain't took back to Tom-all-Alone's. Am I, sir?"
Jo closes his eyes, muttering, "I'm wery thankful!"
After watching him closely for a little while, Allan puts his mouth very
near his ear, and says to him in a low, distinct voice:
"Jo, did you ever know a prayer?"
"Never knowed no think, sir!"
"Not so much as one short prayer?"
"No, sir. Nothink at all, sir. Mr. Chadbands he wos a-praying wunst at Mr.
Snagsby's, and I heerd him, but he sounded as if he wos a-speaking to
hisself and not to me. He prayed a lot, but I couldn't make out nothink on
it. I never knowed wot it wos all about."
It takes him a long time to say this, and few but an experienced and
attentive listener could hear, or hearing understand him. After a short
relapse into sleep or a stupor he makes of a sudden a strong effort to get
out of bed.
"Stay, Jo, what now?"
"It's time for me to go to that there berrying-ground, sir," he returned
with a wild look.
"Lie down and tell me what burying-ground, Jo."
"Where they laid him as wos wery good to me; wery good to me indeed he
wos! It's time for me to go down to that there berrying-ground and ask to
be put along with him. I wants to go there and be berried. He used fur to
say to me, 'I am as poor as you to-day, Jo,' he says. I wants to tell him
that I am as poor as him now, and have come there to be laid along with
"By-and-by, Jo, by-and-by."
"Ah! P'raps they wouldn't do it if I wos to go myself. But will you
promise to have me took there, sir, and laid along with him?"
"I will, indeed!"
"Thank 'ee, sir. Thank 'ee, sir. They'll have to get the key of the gate
afore they can take me in, for it's always locked. And there 's a step
there as I used fur to clean with my broom. It's turned very dark, sir. Is
there any light a-coming?"
"It is coming fast, Jo, my poor fellow."
"I hear you, sir, in the dark, but I'm a-gropin'--a-gropin'--let me catch
hold of your hand!"
"Jo, can you say what I say?"
"I'll say anythink as you say, sir, fur I knows it's good."
"Our Father--yes, that's wery good, sir."
"WHICH ART IN HEAVEN,"
"Art in Heaven--is the light a-coming, sir?"
"It is close at hand--HALLOWED BE THY NAME."
The light is come upon the dark benighted way. The bewildering path is
cleared of shadows at last. Jo has moved on to a home prepared by Eternal
Love for such as he.
[Illustration: PAUL DOMBEY AND HIS SISTER.]
As Mrs. Dombey died when little Paul was born, upon Mr. Dombey--the
pompous head of the great firm Dombey and Son--fell the entire
responsibility of bringing up his two children, Florence, then eight years
of age, and the tiny boy, Paul. Of Florence he took little notice; girls
never seemed to him to be of any special use in the world, but Paul was
the light of his eyes, his pride and joy, and in the delicate child with
his refined features and dreamy eyes, Mr. Dombey saw the future
representative of the firm, and his heir as well; and he could not do
enough for the boy who was to perpetuate the name of Dombey after him. It
seemed to Mr. Dombey that any one so fortunate as to be born his son could
not but thrive in return for so great a favour. So it was a blow to him
that Paul did not grow into a burly, hearty fellow. All their vigilance
and care could not make him a sturdy boy.
He was a pretty little fellow, though there was something wan and wistful
in his small face. His temper gave abundant promise of being imperious in
after life; and he had as hopeful an apprehension of his own importance,
and the rightful subservience of all other things and persons to it as
heart could wish. He was childish and sportive enough at times, and not of
a sullen disposition; but he had a strange, old-fashioned, thoughtful way,
at other times of sitting brooding in his miniature arm-chair. At no time
did he fall into it so surely as when after dinner he sat with his father
by the fire. They were the strangest pair at such a time that ever
fire-light shone upon. Dombey so erect and solemn, gazing at the blaze;
Paul with an old, old face peering into the red perspective with the fixed
and rapt attention of a sage, the two so much alike and yet so monstrously
contrasted. On one of these occasions, when they had both been perfectly
quiet for a long time, little Paul broke the silence thus:
"Papa, what's money?"
The abrupt question took Mr. Dombey by surprise.
"What is money, Paul?" he answered, "Money?"
"Yes," said the child, laying his hands upon the elbows of his little
chair, and turning his face up towards Mr. Dombey. "What is money?"
Mr. Dombey was in a difficulty. He would have liked to give him some
explanation, involving the terms, currency, bullion, rates of exchange,
etc., but he feared he might not be understood, so he answered:
"Gold and silver and copper. Guineas, shillings, halfpence. You know what
"Oh yes, I know what they are," said Paul. "I don't mean that, papa. I
mean what is money after all?"
"What is money after all!"--said Mr. Dombey, backing his chair a little,
that he might the better gaze at the presumptuous atom who propounded such
"I mean, papa, what can it do?" returned Paul.
Mr. Dombey patted him on the head. "You'll know better by-and-by, my man,"
he said. "Money, Paul, can do anything."
"Yes, anything--almost," said Mr. Dombey.
"Why didn't money save me my mama?" returned the child. "It isn't cruel,
"Cruel?" said Mr. Dombey. "No. A good thing can't be cruel."
"If it's a good thing and can do anything," said the little fellow,
thoughtfully, as he looked back at the fire, "I wonder why it didn't save
me my mama."
He didn't ask the question of his father this time. Perhaps he had seen,
with a child's quickness, that it had already made his father
uncomfortable. But he repeated the thought aloud, as if it was quite an
old one to him, and had troubled him very much.
"It can't make me strong and quite well, either, papa; can it?" asked
Paul, after a short silence; rubbing his tiny hands.
"You are as strong and well as such little people usually are? Eh?" said
"Florence is older than I am, but I'm not as strong and well as Florence,
I know," returned the child; "I am so tired sometimes," said little Paul,
"and my bones ache so that I don't know what to do."
The unusual tone of that conversation so alarmed Mr. Dombey that the very
next day he began to inquire into the real state of Paul's health; and as
the doctor suggested that sea-air might be of benefit to the child, to
Brighton he was promptly sent, to remain until he should seem benefited.
He refused to go without Florence to whom he clung with a passion of
devotion which made Mr. Dombey both irritated and jealous to see, wishing
himself to absorb the boy's entire affection.
So to Brighton Paul and Florence went, in charge of Paul's nurse, Wickam.
They found board in the house of an old lady, Mrs. Pipchin by name, whose
temper was not of the best and whose methods of managing children were
At this exemplary old lady, Paul would sit staring in his little armchair
for any length of time. He never seemed to know what weariness was when he
was looking fixedly at Mrs. Pipchin. He was not fond of her, he was not
afraid of her, but she seemed to have a grotesque attraction for him.
Once she asked him, when they were alone, what he was thinking about.
"You," said Paul, without the least reserve.
"And what are you thinking about me?" asked Mrs. Pipchin.
"I'm thinking how old you must be," said Paul.
"You mustn't say such things as that, young gentleman," returned the dame.
"Why not?" asked Paul.
"Because it's not polite," said Mrs. Pipchin, snappishly.
"Not polite?" said Paul.
"It's not polite," said Paul innocently, "to eat all the mutton-chops and
toast, Wickam says."
"Wickam," retorted Mrs. Pipchin colouring, "is a wicked, impudent,
"What's that?" inquired Paul.
"Never you mind, sir," retorted Mrs. Pipchin. "Remember the story of the
little boy that was gored to death by a mad bull for asking questions."
"If the bull was mad," said Paul, "how did he know that the boy had asked
questions? Nobody can go and whisper secrets to a mad bull. I don't
believe that story."
"You don't believe it, sir?" repeated Mrs. Pipchin, amazed.
"No," said Paul.
"Not if it should happen to have been a tame bull, you little infidel?"
said Mrs. Pipchin.
As Paul had not considered the subject in that light, he allowed himself
to be put down for the present. But he sat turning it over in his mind
with such an obvious intention of fixing Mrs. Pipchin presently, that even
that hardy old lady deemed it prudent to retreat until he should have
forgotten the subject.
From that time Mrs. Pipchin appeared to have something of the same odd
kind of an attraction towards Paul as Paul had towards her. She would make
him move his chair to her side of the fire, instead of sitting opposite,
and there he would remain studying every line of Mrs. Pipchin's face,
while the old black cat lay coiled up on the fender purring and winking at
the fire, and Paul went on studying Mrs, Pipchin and the cat and the fire,
night after night, as if they were a history of necromancy in three
At the end of a week, as Paul was no stronger, though he looked much
healthier in the face, a little carriage was got for him, in which he
could be wheeled down to the seaside. Consistent in his odd tastes, the
child set aside a ruddy faced lad, who was proposed as the drawer of this
carriage, and selected instead, his grandfather, Glubb by name, a weazen,
old, crab-faced man, in a suit of battered oilskins, who smelt like a
weedy sea-beach when the tide is out. With this notable attendant to pull
him along and Florence always by his side, he went down to the margin of
the ocean every day; and there he would sit or lie in his carriage for
hours together, never so distressed as at the company of children.
He had even a dislike at such times to the company of nurse Wickham, and
was well pleased when she strolled away. His favourite spot was quite a
lonely one, far away from most loungers, and with Florence sitting by his
side at work, or reading to him, and the wind blowing on his face, and the
water coming up among the wheels of his bed, he wanted nothing more.
For a year the children stayed at Brighton, going home but twice during
that time for a few days, but every Sunday Mr. Dombey spent with them at
the Brighton Hotel.
During the year Paul had grown strong enough to give up his carriage,
though he still looked thin and delicate, and still remained the same
dreamy, quiet child that he had been when consigned to Mrs. Pipchin's
At length, on a Saturday afternoon, Mr. Dombey appeared with the news that
he was thinking of removing Paul to the school of one Doctor Blimber, also
"I have had some communication with the doctor, Mrs. Pipchin," said Mr.
Dombey, "and he does not think Paul at all too young for his purposes. My
son is getting on, Mrs. Pipchin, really he is getting on."
"Six years old!" said Mr. Dombey, settling his neckcloth. "Dear me! six
will be changed to sixteen before we have time to look about us; and there
is no doubt, I fear, that in his studies he is behind many children of his
age--or his youth," said Mr. Dombey--"his youth is a more appropriate
"Now, Mrs. Pipchin, instead of being behind his peers, my son ought to be
before them, far before them. There is an eminence ready for him to mount
on. There is nothing of chance or doubt before my son. The education of
such a young gentleman must not be delayed. It must not be left imperfect.
It must be very steadily and seriously undertaken, Mrs. Pipchin."
"Well, sir," said Mrs. Pipchin, "I can say nothing to the contrary." And
so to Doctor Blimber's Paul was sent.
The doctor's was a mighty fine house fronting the sea. Upon its doorstep
one day Paul stood with a fluttering heart, and with his small right hand
in his father's. His other hand was locked in that of Florence. The doctor
was sitting in his portentous study, with a globe at each knee, books all
round him, Homer over the door and Minerva on the mantel-shelf.
Paul being somewhat too small to be seen from where the doctor sat, over
the books on his table, the doctor made several futile attempts to get a
view of him round the legs; which Mr. Dombey perceiving, relieved the
doctor from his embarrassment by taking Paul up in his arms, and sitting
him on another little table in the middle of the room.
"Ha!" said the doctor, leaning back in his chair. "Now I see my little
friend. How do you do, my little friend?"
"V-ery well, I thank you, sir," returned Paul.
"Ha!" said Doctor Blimber. "Shall we make a man of him?"
"Do you hear, Paul?" added Mr. Dombey, Paul being silent.
"I had rather be a child," replied Paul.
"Indeed!" said the doctor. "Why?"
The child made no audible answer, and Doctor Blimber continued, "You would
wish my little friend to acquire----?"
"_Everything_, if you please, doctor," returned Mr. Dombey, firmly.
"Yes," said the doctor. "Yes, exactly. Ha! We shall impart a great variety
of information to our little friend, and bring him quickly forward."
At this moment Mrs. Blimber entered, followed by her daughter, and they
were duly presented to the Dombeys. There was no light nonsense about Miss
Blimber. She kept her hair short and crisp and wore spectacles.
Mrs. Blimber, her mama, was not learned herself, but she pretended to be,
and that did quite as well. She said at evening parties, that if she could
have known Cicero, she thought she could have died content. It was the
steady joy of her life to see the doctor's young gentlemen go out walking,
in the largest possible shirt-collars and the stiffest possible cravats.
It was so classical, she said.
After the introductions were accomplished, Mrs. Blimber took Mr. Dombey
upstairs to inspect the dormitories. While they were gone Paul sat upon
the table, holding Florence by the hand, and glancing timidly from the
doctor round and round the room, while the doctor held a book from him at
arm's length and read.
Presently Mr. Dombey and Mrs. Blimber returned.
"I hope, Mr. Dombey," said the doctor laying down his book, "that the
arrangements meet with your approval?"
"They are excellent, sir," said Mr. Dombey, and added, "I think I have
given all the trouble I need, and may now take my leave. Paul my child,
The limp and careless little hand, that Mr. Dombey took in his, was
singularly out of keeping with the wistful little face. But he had no part
in its sorrowful expression. It was not addressed to him. No, no! To
Florence, all to Florence.
"I shall see you soon, Paul," said Mr. Dombey, bending over to kiss the
child. "You are free on Saturdays and Sundays, you know."
"Yes, papa," returned Paul, looking at his sister. "On Saturdays and
"And you'll try and learn a great deal here and be a clever man," said Mr.
Dombey; "won't you?"
"I'll try," said the boy, wearily, and then after his father had patted
him on the head, and pressed his small hand again, and after he had one
last long hug from Florence, he was left with the globes, the books, blind
Homer and Minerva, while Doctor Blimber saw Mr. Dombey to the door.
After the lapse of some minutes, Doctor Blimber came back, and the doctor
lifting his new pupil off the table delivered him over to Miss Blimber's
care. Miss Blimber received his young ward from the doctor's hands; and
Paul, feeling that the spectacles were surveying him, cast down his eyes.
"How much of your Latin Grammar do you know, Dombey?" said Miss Blimber.
"None of it," answered Paul. Feeling that the answer was a shock to Miss
Blimber's sensibility he added:
"I haven't been well. I have been a weak child. I couldn't learn a Latin
Grammar when I was out every day with old Glubb. I wish you would tell old
Glubb to come and see me, if you please."
"What a dreadful low name," said Mrs. Blimber. "Unclassical to a degree!
Who is the monster, child?"
"What monster!" inquired Paul.
"Glubb," said Mrs. Blimber.
"He's no more a monster than you are," returned Paul.
"What!" cried the doctor, in a terrible voice. "Aye, aye, aye? Aha! What's
Paul was dreadfully frightened, but still he made a stand for the absent
Glubb, though he did it trembling.
"He's a very nice old man, ma'am," he said. "He used to draw my couch; he
knows all about the deep sea and the fish that are in it, and though old
Glubb don't know why the sea should make me think of my mama that's dead,
or what it is that it is always saying,--always saying, he knows a great
deal about it."
"Ha!" said the doctor, shaking his head: "this is bad, but study will do
much. Take him round the house, Cornelia, and familiarise him with his new
sphere. Go with that young lady, Dombey."
Dombey obeyed, giving his hand to Cornelia, who took him first to the
school-room. Here were eight young gentlemen in various stages of mental
prostration, all very hard at work and very grave indeed. Toots, the
oldest boy in the school, to whom Paul had previously been introduced, had
a desk to himself in one corner, and a magnificent man of immense age, he
looked in Paul's eyes behind it.
The appearance of a new boy did not create the sensation that might have
been expected. Mr. Feeder, B.A., gave him a bony hand and told him he was
glad to see him, and then Paul, instructed by Miss Blimber shook hands
with all the eight young gentlemen, at work against time. Then Cornelia
led Paul upstairs to the top of the house: and there, in a front room
looking over the wild sea, Cornelia showed him a nice little white bed
with white hangings, close to the window, on which there was already
written on a card in round text DOMBEY; while two other little bedsteads
in the same room, were announced through the same means as belonging to
BRIGGS and TOZER.
Then Miss Blimber said to Dombey that dinner would be ready in a quarter
of an hour, and perhaps he had better go into the school-room among his
"friends." So Dombey opened the school-room door a very little way and
strayed in like a lost boy.
His "friends," were all dispersed about the room. All the boys (Toots
excepted) were getting ready for dinner--some newly tying their
neckcloths, and others washing their hands or brushing their hair in an
adjoining room. Young Toots, who was ready beforehand, and had therefore
leisure to bestow upon Dombey, said with heavy good-nature,----
"Sit down, Dombey."
"Thank you, sir," said Paul.
His endeavouring to hoist himself on to a very high window-seat, and his
slipping down again, prepared Toots' mind for the reception of a
"You're a very small chap," said Mr. Toots.
"Yes, sir, I'm small," returned Paul. "Thank you, sir." For Toots had
lifted him into the seat, and done it kindly too.
"Who's your tailor?" inquired Toots, after looking at him for some
"It's a woman that has made my clothes as yet," said Paul "My sister's
"My tailor's Burgess and Co.," said Toots. "Fash'nable but very dear."
Paul had wit enough to shake his head, as if he would have said it was
easy to see that.
"Your father's regularly rich, ain't he?" inquired Mr. Toots.
"Yes, sir," said Paul. "He's Dombey and Son."
"And which?" demanded Toots.
"And son, sir," replied Paul.
By this time the other pupils had gathered round, and after a few minutes
of general conversation the gong sounded, which caused a general move
towards the dining-room. Paul's chair at the table was next to Miss
Blimber, but it being found, when he sat in it, that his eyebrows were not
much above the level of the table-cloth, some books were brought, on which
he was elevated, and on which he always sat from that time, carrying them
in and out himself on after occasions, like a little elephant and castle.
Grace having been said by the doctor, dinner began. There was some nice
soup, also roast meat, boiled meat, vegetables, pie, and cheese. Every
young gentleman had a massive silver fork and a napkin, and all the
arrangements were stately and handsome. There was a butler too, in a blue
coat and brass buttons.
Nobody spoke unless spoken to, except Doctor Blimber, Mrs. Blimber, and
Miss Blimber. Only once during dinner was there any conversation that
included the young gentlemen. It happened when the doctor, having hemmed
twice or thrice; said:----
"It is remarkable, Mr. Feeder, that the Romans----"
At this mention of this terrible people, their implacable enemies, every
young gentleman fastened his gaze upon the doctor, with an assumption of
the deepest interest. One of the number happened to be drinking, and when
he caught the doctor's eye glaring at him through the side of his tumbler,
he left off so hastily that he was convulsed for some moments, and in the
sequel ruined Doctor Blimber's point, for at the critical part of the
Roman tale, Johnson, unable to suppress it any longer, burst into such an
overwhelming fit of coughing that, although both his immediate neighbours
thumped him on the back, and Mr. Feeder himself held a glass of water to
his lips, and the butler walked him up and down several times between his
own chair and the sideboard, like a sentry, it was full five minutes
before he was moderately composed, and then there was a profound silence.
"Gentlemen," said Doctor Blimber, "rise for Grace! Cornelia, lift Dombey
down. Johnson will repeat to me to-morrow morning before breakfast,
without book, and from the Greek Testament, the first chapter of Saint
Paul to the Ephesians. We will resume our studies, Mr. Feeder, in
The young gentlemen bowed and withdrew. Through the rest of the day's
routine of work Paul sat in a corner wondering whether Florence was
thinking of him and what they were about at Mrs. Pipchin's.
In the confidence of their own room that night Briggs said his head ached
ready to split. Tozer didn't say much, but he sighed a good deal, and told
Paul to look out for his turn would come to-morrow. And Tozer was right.
The next morning Miss Blimber called Dombey to her and gave him a great
pile of books.
"These are yours, Dombey," said Miss Blimber.
"All of 'em, ma'am?" said Paul.
"Yes," returned Miss Blimber; "and Mr. Feeder will look you out some more
very soon if you are as studious as I expect you will be, Dombey."
"Thank you, ma'am," said Paul.
"Now, don't lose time, Dombey," continued Miss Blimber, "for you have none
to spare, but take them downstairs and begin directly."
"Yes, ma'am," answered Paul.
There were so many of them that, although Paul put one hand under the
bottom book and his other hand and his chin on the top book and hugged
them all closely, the middle book slipped out before he reached the door,
and then they all tumbled down on the floor. Miss Blimber said, "Oh,
Dombey, Dombey, this is really very careless," and piled them up afresh
for him; and this time by dint of balancing them with great nicety, Paul
got out of the room and down a few stairs before two of them escaped
again. But he held the rest so tight that he only left one more on the
first floor and one in the passage; and when he had got the main body down
into the school-room, he set off upstairs again to collect the stragglers.
Having at last amassed the whole library and climbed into his place he
fell to work, encouraged by a remark from Tozer to the effect that he was
in for it now; which was the only interruption he received until breakfast
time, for which meal he had no appetite, and when it was finished, he
followed Miss Blimber upstairs.
"Now, Dombey, how have you got on with those books?" asked Miss Blimber.
They comprised a little English, and a deal of Latin, names of things,
declensions of articles and nouns, exercises thereon, and preliminary
rules; a trifle of orthography, a glance at ancient history, a wink or two
at modern ditto, a few tables, two or three weights and measures, and a
little general information. When poor Paul had spelt out number two, he
found he had no idea of number one, fragments whereof obtruded themselves
into number three, which slided into number four, which grafted itself on
to number two. So that whether twenty Romuluses made a Remus, or hic,
haec, hoc, was troy weight, or a verb always agreed with an ancient
Briton, or three times four was Taurus, a bull, were open questions with
"Oh, Dombey, Dombey!" said Miss Blimber, "this is very shocking!"
"If you please," said Paul, "I think if I might sometimes talk a little
with old Glubb, I should be able to do better."
"Nonsense, Dombey," said Miss Blimber, "I couldn't hear of it; and now
take away the top book, if you please, Dombey, and return when you are
master of the theme."
From that time Paul gave his whole mind to the pursuit of knowledge and
acquitted himself very well, but it was hard work, and only on Saturdays
did he have time to draw a free breath.
Oh Saturdays, happy Saturdays, when Florence, still at Mrs. Pipchin's,
came at noon; they made up for all the other days!
It did not take long for the loving sister to discover that Paul needed
help with the lessons over which he plodded so patiently, and so,
procuring the books which he used, she kept pace with him in his studies,
and every Saturday was able to assist him with his next week's work, and
thus he was kept from sinking underneath the burden which Cornelia Blimber
piled upon his back.
It was not that Miss Blimber meant to be too hard upon him, or that Doctor
Blimber meant to bear too heavily upon the young gentlemen in general, but
comforted by the applause of the young gentlemen's nearest relatives, and
urged on by their blind vanity and ill-considered haste, it would have
been strange if Doctor Blimber had discovered his mistake. Thus in the
case of Paul. When Doctor Blimber said he made great progress and was
naturally clever, Mr. Dombey was more bent than ever on his being forced
Such spirits as he had in the outset Paul soon lost. But he retained all
that was strange and old and thoughtful in his character. The only
difference was that he kept his character to himself. He grew more
thoughtful and reserved every day. He loved to be alone; and in those
short intervals when he was not occupied with his books, he liked nothing
so well as wandering about the house by himself, or sitting on the stairs
listening to the great clock in the hall.
They were within some two or three weeks of the holidays when one day
Cornelia called Dombey to her to hear the analysis of his character that
she was about to send to his father.
"_Analysis_," said Miss Blimber, "of the character of P. Dombey. It may be
generally observed of Dombey," said Miss Blimber, reading in a loud voice,
and at every second word directing her spectacles towards the little
figure before her, "that his abilities and inclinations are good, and that
he has made as much progress as under the circumstances could have been
expected. But it is to be lamented of this young gentleman that he is
singular (what is usually termed old-fashioned) in his character and
conduct, and that he is often very unlike other young gentlemen of his age
and social position. Now, Dombey," said Miss Blimber, laying down the
paper, "do you understand? This analysis, you see, Dombey," Miss Blimber
continued, "is going to be sent home to your respected parent. It will
naturally be very painful to him to find that you are singular in your
character and conduct. It is naturally very painful to us, for we can't
like you, you know, Dombey, as well as we could wish."
She touched the child upon a tender point. He had secretly become more
solicitous from day to day that all the house should like him. He could
not bear to think that they would be quite indifferent to him when he was
gone, and he had even made it his business to conciliate a great, hoarse,
shaggy dog, who had previously been the terror of his life, that even he
might miss him.
This poor tiny Paul set forth to Miss Blimber as well as he could and
begged her, in spite of the official analysis, to have the goodness to try
to like him. To Mrs. Blimber, who had joined them, he preferred the same
petition; and when she gave her oft-repeated opinion that he was an odd
child, Paul told her that he was sure that she was quite right; that he
thought it must be his bones, but he didn't know, and he hoped she would
overlook it, for he was fond of them all.
"Not so fond," said Paul, with a mixture of frankness and timidity which
was one of the most peculiar and engaging qualities of his, "not so fond
as I am of Florence, of course; that could never be. You couldn't expect
that, could you, ma'am?"
"Oh, the old-fashioned little soul!" cried Mrs. Blimber, in a whisper.
"But I like everybody here very much," pursued Paul, "and I should grieve
to go away and think that any one was glad I had gone, or didn't care."
Mrs. Blimber was now sure that Paul was the oddest child in the world, and
when she told the doctor what had passed, he did not controvert his wife's
And Paul's wish was gratified. His purpose was to be a gentle, helpful,
quiet little fellow, and though he was often to be seen at his old post on
the stairs, or watching the waves or the clouds from his solitary window,
he was oftener found too, among the other boys, modestly rendering them
some little voluntary service. Thus it came to pass that Paul was an
object of general interest: a fragile little plaything that they all
liked, and that no one would have thought of treating roughly. But he
could not change his nature, and so they all agreed that Dombey was
There were some immunities, however, attaching to the character enjoyed by
no one else. They could have better spared a newer-fashioned child, and
that alone was much. When the others only bowed to Doctor Blimber and
family when retiring, Paul would stretch his morsel of a hand, and boldly
shake the doctor's, also Mrs. Blimber's, also Cornelia's; and if any one
was to be begged off from impending punishment, Paul was always the
One evening, when the holidays were very near, Paul was in Toots' room
watching Mr. Feeder and Toots fold, seal, and direct, the invitations for
the evening party with which the term was to close. Paul's head, which had
long been ailing more or less, and was sometimes very heavy and painful,
felt so uneasy that night that he was obliged to support it on his hand.
And it dropped so that by little and little it sunk on Mr. Toots' knee,
and rested there.
That was no reason why he should be deaf; but he must have been, he
thought, for by and by he heard Mr. Feeder calling in his ear, and gently
shaking him to rouse his attention. And when he raised his head, quite
scared, he found that Doctor Blimber had come into the room, and that the
window was open, and that his forehead was wet with sprinkled water.
"Ah! Come, come, that's well. How is my little friend now?" said Doctor
"Oh, quite well, thank you, sir," said Paul.
But there seemed to be something the matter with the floor, for he
couldn't stand upon it steadily; and with the walls too, for they were
inclined to turn round and round.
It was very kind of Mr. Toots to carry him to the top of the house so
tenderly, and Paul told him that it was. But Mr. Toots said he would do a
great deal more than that if he could; and, indeed, he did more as it was,
for he helped Paul to undress and helped him to bed in the kindest manner
possible, and then sat down by the bedside and chuckled very much, while
Mr. Feeder leaning over the bottom of the bedstead set all the little
bristles on his head, bolt upright with his bony hands, and then made
believe to spar at Paul, with great science, on account of his being all
right again, which was so funny and kind, too, in Mr. Feeder, that Paul,
not being able to make up his mind whether to laugh or cry, did both at
Everything that could minister to Paul's comfort was done for him, and in
those days just before the holidays when the other young gentlemen were
labouring for dear life, Paul was such a privileged pupil as had never
been seen in that house before. He could hardly believe it himself, but
his liberty lasted from hour to hour, from day to day; and little Dombey
was caressed by every one.
At last, the great night of the reception arrived.
When Paul was dressed, which was very soon done, for he felt unwell and
drowsy and not able to stand about it very long, he went down into the
drawing-room. Shortly afterwards Mrs. Blimber appeared, looking lovely,
Paul thought, and Miss Blimber came down soon after her mama. Mr. Toots
and Mr. Feeder were the next arrivals. Each of these gentlemen brought his
hat in his hand as if he lived somewhere else; and when they were
announced by the butler. Doctor Blimber said, "Aye, aye, aye! God bless my
soul!" and seemed extremely glad to see them. Mr. Toots was one blaze of
jewellery and buttons, and all the other young gentlemen were tightly
cravatted, curled, and pumped, and all came in with their hats in their
hands at separate times and were announced and introduced. Soon Paul
slipped down from the cushioned corner of a sofa, and went downstairs into
the tearoom to be ready for Florence. Presently she came; looking so
beautiful in her simple ball-dress, with her fresh flowers in her hand,
that when she knelt down, to take Paul round the neck and kiss him, he
could hardly make up his mind to let her go again, or to take away her
bright and loving eyes from his face.
"But what is the matter, Floy?" asked Paul, almost sure that he saw a tear
"Nothing, darling, nothing," returned Florence.
Paul touched her cheek gently with his finger, and it _was_ a tear.
"We'll go home together, and I'll nurse you, love," said Florence.
"Nurse me?" echoed Paul.
"Floy," said Paul, holding a ringlet of her dark hair in his hand. "Tell
me, dear. Do you think I have grown old-fashioned?"
His sister laughed, and fondled him and told him, "No."
Through the evening Paul sat in his corner watching the dancing and
beaming with pride as he heard praise showered on Dombey's sister. They
all loved her--how could they help it, Paul had known beforehand that they
must and would, and few would have thought with what triumph and delight
he watched her. Thus little Paul sat musing, listening, looking on and
dreaming; and was very happy. Until the time came for taking leave, and
then indeed there was a sensation in the party. Every one took the
heartiest sort of leave of him.
"Good-bye, Doctor Blimber," said Paul, stretching out his hand.
"Good-bye, my little friend," returned the doctor.
"I'm very much obliged to you, sir," said Paul, looking innocently up into
his awful face. "Ask them to take care of Diogenes, if you please."
Diogenes was the dog who had never received a friend into his confidence,
before Paul. The doctor promised that every attention should be paid to
Diogenes in Paul's absence, and Paul having again thanked him, and shaken
hands with him, bade adieu to Mrs. Blimber and Cornelia. Cornelia, taking
both Paul's hands in hers said,--"Dombey, Dombey, you have always been my
favourite pupil. God bless you!" And it showed, Paul thought, how easily
one might do injustice to a person; for Miss Blimber meant it--although
she was a Forcer.
A buzz then went round among the young gentlemen, of "Dombey's going!
little Dombey's going!" and there was a general move after Paul and
Florence down the staircase and into the hall, in which the whole Blimber
family were included. The servants with the butler at their head had all
an interest in seeing Little Dombey go, and even the young man taking out
his books and trunks to the coach melted visibly. Nothing could restrain
them from taking quite a noisy leave of Paul; waving hats after him,
pressing downstairs to shake hands with him, crying individually "Dombey!
don't forget me!" Paul whispered to Florence, as she wrapped him up before
the door was opened. Did she hear them? Would she ever forget it? Was she
glad to know it? And a lively delight was in his eyes as he spoke to her.
Once for a last look he turned and gazed upon the faces thus addressed to
him, surprised to see how shining and how bright and how numerous they
were. They swam before him, as he looked, and next moment he was in the
dark coach outside holding close to Florence. From that time, whenever he
thought of Doctor Blimber's it came back as he had seen it in this last
view; and it never seemed a real place again, but always a dream, full of
And so ended little Paul's school days at Doctor Blimber's, for once at
home again he never rose from his little bed. He lay there (listening to
the noises in the street), quite tranquilly, not caring much how the time
went, but watching it and everything about him with observing eyes. When
the sunbeams struck into his room through the rustling blinds, and
quivered on the opposite wall like golden water, he knew that evening was
coming on, and that the sky was red and beautiful. As the reflection died
away, and a gloom went creeping up the wall, he watched it deepen--deepen,
into night. Then he thought how the long streets were dotted with lamps,
and how the peaceful stars were shining overhead. His fancy had a strange
tendency to wander to the river, which he knew was flowing through the
great city; and now he thought how black it was and how deep it would look
reflecting the hosts of stars--and more than all, how steadily it rolled
away to meet the sea.
As it grew later in the night, and footsteps in the street became so rare
that he could hear their coming, count them as they passed, and lose them
in the hollow distance, he would lie and watch the many-coloured ring
about the candle, and wait patiently for day. When day began to dawn
again, he watched for the sun and when its cheerful light began to sparkle
in the room, he pictured to himself--pictured! he saw--the high church
towers rising up into the morning sky, the town reviving, waking, starting
into life once more, the river glistening as it rolled (but rolling fast
as ever), and the country bright with dew. Familiar sounds came by degrees
into the street below; the servants in the house were roused and busy;
faces looked in at the door, and voices asked his attendants softly how he
was. Paul always answered for himself, "I am better. I am a great deal
better, thank you. Tell papa so."
By little and little he got tired of the bustle of the day, the noise of
carriages and carts, and people passing and re-passing; and would fall
asleep, or be troubled with a restless, and uneasy sense again--the child
could hardly tell whether this were in his sleeping or his waking
moments--of that rushing river.
"Why will it never stop, Floy?" he would sometimes ask her. "It is bearing
me away I think."
But Floy could always soothe and reassure him: and it was his daily
delight to make her lay her head down on his pillow, and take some rest.
"You are always watching me, Floy, let me watch you now." They would prop
him up with cushions in a corner of his bed, and there he would recline
the while she lay beside him, bending forwards oftentimes to kiss her.
Thus the flush of the day in its heat and light, would gradually decline;
and again the golden water would be dancing on the wall.
He was visited by as many as three grave doctors--they used to assemble
downstairs and come up together--and the room was so quiet and Paul was so
observant of them (though he never asked of anybody what they said) that
he even knew the difference in the sound of their watches.
The people round him changed as unaccountably as on that first night at
Doctor Blimber's--except Florence; Florence never changed. Old Mrs.
Pipchin dozing in an easy chair, often changed to someone else and Paul
was quite content to shut his eyes again and see what happened next,
without emotion. But one figure with its head upon its hand returned so
often and remained so long, and sat so still and solemn, never speaking,
never being spoken to, and rarely lifting up its face, that Paul began to
wonder languidly if it were real.
"Floy," he said, "what is that?"
"There, at the bottom of the bed."
"There's nothing there except papa."
The figure lifted up its head, and rose, and coming to the bedside said:
"My own boy! Don't you know me?"
Paul looked it in the face and thought, was this his father? But the face
so altered to his thinking, thrilled while he gazed, as if it were in
pain; and before he could reach out both his hands to take it between them
and draw it towards him, the figure turned away quickly from the little
bed, and went out at the door. The next time he observed the figure
sitting at the bottom of the bed, he called to it:
"Don't be so sorry for me, dear papa. Indeed, I am quite happy."
His father coming and bending down to him, which he did quickly, Paul held
him round the neck and repeated those words to him several times and very
earnestly. This was the beginning of his always saying in the morning that
he was a great deal better, and that they were to tell his father so.
How many times the golden water danced on the wall; how many nights the
dark, dark river rolled away towards the sea in spite of him, Paul never
counted, never sought to know. If their kindness could have increased, or
his sense of it, they were more kind, and he more grateful every day; but
whether they were many days or few appeared of little moment now to the
One night he had been thinking of his mother and her picture in the
drawing-room downstairs. The train of thought suggested to him to inquire
if he had ever seen his mother; for he could not remember whether they had
told him yes or no, the river running very fast and confusing his mind.
"Floy, did I ever see mama?"
"No, darling; why?"
"Did I ever see any kind face like mama's looking at me when I was a baby,
"Oh yes, dear."
"Your old nurse's, often."
"And where is my old nurse?" said Paul. "Is she dead, too? Floy are we all
dead except you?"
There was a hurry in the room for an instant--longer perhaps--then all was
still again, and Florence, with her face quite colourless but smiling,
held his head upon her arm. Her arm trembled very much.
"Show me that old nurse, Floy, if you please."
"She is not here, darling; she shall come to-morrow."
"Thank you, Floy."
Paul closed his eyes with these words and fell asleep. When he awoke the
sun was high and the broad day was clear and warm. He lay a little,
looking at the windows, which were open, and the curtains rustling in the
air, and waving to and fro, then he said, "Floy, is it to-morrow? Is she
come?" The next thing that happened was a noise of footsteps on the
stairs, and then Paul woke--woke mind and body--and sat upright in his
bed. He saw them now about him. There was no gray mist before them as
there had been some time in the night. He knew them every one and called
them by their names.
"And who is this? Is this my old nurse?" said the child, regarding with a
radiant smile a figure coming in.
Yes, yes. No other stranger would have shed those tears at sight of him,
and called him her dear boy, her pretty boy, her own poor blighted child.
No other woman would have stooped down by his bed, and taken up his wasted
hand, and put it to her lips and breast, as one who had some right to
"Floy, this is a kind, good face," said Paul. "I am glad to see it again.
Don't go away, old nurse. Stay here."
"Good-bye, my child," cried Mrs. Pipchin, hurrying to his bed's head. "Not
For an instant Paul looked at her with the wistful face with which he had
so often gazed upon her in his corner by the fire.
"Ah, yes," he said, placidly, "good-bye. Where is papa?"
He felt his father's breath upon his cheek before the words had parted
from his lips.
"Now lay me down," he said, "and, Floy, come close to me, and let me see
Sister and brother wound their arms around each other, and the golden
light came streaming in, and fell upon them, locked together.
"How fast the river runs, between its green banks and the rushes, Floy.
But it's very near the sea. I hear the waves."
Presently he told her that the motion of the boat upon the stream was
lulling him to rest. How near the banks were now. How bright the flowers
growing on them, and how tall the rushes. Now the boat was out at sea but
gliding smoothly on. And now there was a shore before him. Who stood on
He put his hands together as he had been used to do at his prayers. He did
not remove his arms to do it, but they saw him fold them so, behind her
"Mama is like you, Floy. I know her by the face. But tell them that the
print upon the stairs at school is not divine enough. The light about the
head is shining on me as I go."
The golden ripple on the wall came back again, and nothing else stirred in
the room. The old, old fashion. The fashion that came in with our first
garments, and will last unchanged until our race has run its course, and
the wide firmament is rolled up like a scroll. The old, old
Oh, thank God for that older fashion yet,--of Immortality!
[Illustration: PIP AND MISS HAVISHAM.]
My father's family name being Pirrip, and my Christian name Philip, my
infant tongue could make of both names nothing more explicit than Pip. So
I called myself Pip, and came to be called Pip.
My mother and father both being dead, I was brought up by my sister, Mrs.
Joe Gargery, who was more than twenty years older than I, and a veritable
shrew by nature. She had acquired a great reputation among the neighbours
because she had brought me up by hand. Not understanding this expression,
and knowing her to have a hard and heavy hand, and to be much in the habit
of laying it upon her husband as well as upon me, I supposed that Joe
Gargery and I were both brought up by hand.
Joe, her husband, was a mild, good-natured, sweet-tempered, easy-going,
foolish, dear fellow, with light curly hair and blue eyes, and he and I
were great chums, as well as fellow-sufferers under the rule of my
One afternoon I was wandering in the church-yard where my mother and
father were buried, when I was accosted by a fearful man all in coarse
grey, with a great iron on his leg. He wore no hat and had broken shoes,
and an old rag tied round his head. He limped and shivered, and glared and
growled, his teeth chattering, as he seized me by the chin.
"O don't cut my throat, sir!" I pleaded in terror. "Pray don't do it,
"Tell us your name," said the man, "quick!"
"Show us where you live," he said. "Point out the place!"
I pointed to where our village lay, and then the man, after looking at me
for a moment, turned me upside down and emptied my pockets, but there was
nothing in them except a piece of bread. When the church came to itself,
for he was so sudden and strong that he made it go head over heels before
me,--I was seated on a high tombstone trembling, while he ate the bread
ravenously. Then he came nearer to my tombstone, took me by both arms, and
tilted me back as far as he could hold me, looking into my eyes.
"Now lookee here," he said, "you get me a file and you get me wittles; you
bring both to me to-morrow morning early, that file and them wittles. You
bring the lot to me at that old Battery yonder. You do it, and you never
dare to say a word concerning your having seen such a person as me, and
you shall be let live. You fail in any partickler and your heart and your
liver shall be tore out, roasted and ate! Now I ain't alone, as you may
think. There is a young man hid with me who hears the words I speak. It is
in wain for a boy to attempt to hide himself from that young man. A boy
may lock his door, may be warm in bed, may draw the clothes over his head,
may think himself comfortable and safe, but that young man will soon creep
and creep his way to him and tear him open. I am a-keeping the young man
from harming of you at the present moment with great difficulty. Now what
do you say?"
I said I would get him the file and what food I could, and would come to
him early in the morning.
"Say, Lord strike me dead, if you don't!"
I said so and he took me down. I faltered a good night, and he turned to
go, walking as if he were numb and stiff. When I saw him turn to look once
more at me, I made the best use of my legs, having a terrible fear of him,
and of the young man, and I ran home without once stopping.
I found the forge shut up and Joe alone in the kitchen. The minute I
raised the latch, he said:
"Mrs. Joe has been out a dozen times looking for you, Pip, and she's out
now, and what's more, she's got Tickler with her."
At this dismal intelligence I looked with great depression at the fire.
Tickler was a wax-ended piece of cane, worn smooth by contact with my
"She sot down," said Joe, "and she got up, and she made a grab at Tickler,
and she rampaged out. Now she's a-coming! Go behind the door, old chap!"
I took the advice, but my sister, throwing the door wide open, and finding
an obstruction behind it, guessed the cause, and applied Tickler to its
"Where have you been, you young monkey?" she asked, stamping her foot;
"Tell me directly what you've been doing to wear me away with fret and
fright and worrit?"
"I have only been in the church-yard," said I, crying and rubbing myself,
but my answer did not satisfy my sister, who kept on scolding and applying
Tickler to my person until she was obliged to see to the tea things.
Though I was very hungry, I dared not eat my bread and butter, for I felt
that I must have something in reserve to take my dreadful acquaintance in
case I could find nothing else. Therefore, at a moment when no one was
looking, I put a hunk of bread and butter down the leg of my trousers. Joe
thought I had eaten it in one gulp, which greatly distressed him, and I
was borne off and dosed with tar water.
Conscience is a dreadful thing when it accuses man or boy. The guilty
knowledge that I was going to rob Mrs. Joe, united to the necessity of
keeping one hand on my bread and butter as I sat or moved about, almost
drove me out of my mind, but as it was Christmas Eve, I was obliged to
stir the pudding for next day for one whole hour. I tried to do it with
the load on my leg, and found the tendency of exercise was to bring the
bread out at my ankle, so I managed to slip away and deposit it in my
garret room. Later there was a sound of firing in the distance. "Ah," said
Joe, "there's another convict off!"
"What does that mean, Joe," said I.
Mrs. Joe answered, "Escaped, escaped," and Joe added,--"There was one off
last night, and they fired warning of him. And now it appears they're
firing warning of another."
"Who's firing?" said I.
"Drat that boy," said my sister, frowning. "What a questioner he is! Ask
no questions and you'll be told no lies!"
I waited a while, and then as a last resort, I said,--"Mrs. Joe, I should
like to know--if you wouldn't much mind--where the firing comes from?"
"Lord bless the boy!" she exclaimed, "from the Hulks!"
"Oh-h," said I, looking at Joe, "Hulks! And please what's Hulks?"
"That's the way with this boy," exclaimed my sister, "answer him one
question, and he'll ask you a dozen directly. Hulks are prison ships right
'cross the meshes." (We always used that name for marshes in our country.)
"I wonder who's put in prison ships, and why they're put there," said I.
This was too much for Mrs. Joe, who immediately rose. "I tell ye what,
young fellow," said she, "I didn't bring you up by hand to badger people's
lives out. People are put in the Hulks because they murder and rob and
forge and do all sorts of bad; and they always begin by asking questions.
Now you get along to bed!"
I was never allowed a candle and as I crept up in the dark I felt
fearfully sensible that the Hulks were handy for me. I was clearly on the
way there. I had begun by asking questions and I was going to rob Mrs.
Joe. I was also in mortal terror of the young man who wanted my heart and
liver, and of my acquaintance with the iron on his leg, and if I slept at
all that night it was only to imagine myself drifting down the river on a
strong spring tide to the Hulks, a ghostly pirate calling out to me
through a speaking trumpet that I had better come ashore and be hanged
there at once. I was afraid to sleep even if I could have, for I knew that
at the first dawn of morning I must rob the pantry and be off.
So as early as possible I crept downstairs to the pantry and secured some
bread, some rind of cheese, half a jar of mincemeat, some brandy from a
stone bottle which I poured into a bottle of my own and then filled the
stone one up with water. I also took a meat bone and a beautiful pork pie.
Then I got a file from among Joe's tools, and with this and my other
plunder made my way with all dispatch along the river-side. Presently I
came upon what I supposed was the man I was searching for, for he too was
dressed in coarse gray and had a great iron on his leg, but his face was
"It's the young man," I thought, feeling my heart beat fast at the idea.
He swore at me as I passed, and tried in a weak way to hit me, but then he
ran away and I continued my trip to the Battery, and there was the right
man in a ravenous condition. He was gobbling mincemeat, meat-bone, bread,
cheese, and pork pie all at once, when he turned suddenly and said:
"You're not a deceiving imp? You brought no one with you?" I answered no,
and he resumed his meal, snapping at the food as a dog would do. While he
was eating, I ventured to remark that I had met the young man he spoke of,
at which the man showed the greatest surprise, and became so violently
excited that I was very much afraid of him. I was also afraid of remaining
away from home any longer. I told him I must go, but he took no notice, so
I thought the best thing I could do was to slip off, which I did.
"And where the deuce ha' you been?" was Mrs. Joe's Christmas salutation.
I said I had been down to hear the carols. "Ah well," observed Mrs. Joe,
"you might ha' done worse," and then went on with her work as we were to
have company for dinner, and the feast was to be one that occasioned
extensive arrangements. My sister had too much to do to go to church, but
Joe and I went, arrayed in our Sunday best. When we reached home we found
the table laid, Mrs. Joe dressed and the front door unlocked--(it never
was at any other time) and everything most splendid. And still not a word
about the robbery. The company arrived; Mr. Wopsle, Mr. and Mrs. Hubble,
and Uncle Pumblechook, Joe's uncle, who lived in the nearest town and
drove his own chaise cart.
Dinner was a brilliant success, but so rich that Uncle Pumblechook was
entirely overcome, and was obliged to call for brandy. Oh heavens! he
would say it was weak, and I should be lost! I held tight to the leg of
the table and awaited my fate. The brandy was poured out and Uncle
Pumblechook drank it off. Instantly he sprang to his feet, turned round
several times in an appalling, spasmodic whooping-cough dance, and rushed
out at the door to the great consternation of the company. Mrs. Joe and
Joe ran out and brought him back, and as he sank into his chair he gasped
the one word, "Tar!" I had filled up the bottle from the tar-water jug! Oh
misery! I knew he would be worse by and by!
"Tar?" cried my sister. "Why how ever could tar come there?" Fortunately
at that moment. Uncle Pumblechook called for hot gin and water, and my
sister had to employ herself actively in getting it. For the time at
least, I was saved. By degrees I became calmer and able to partake of
pudding, and was beginning to think I should get over the day, when my
sister said, "You must finish with such a delicious present of Uncle
Pumblechook's, a savoury pork pie!" She went out to the pantry to get it.
I am not certain whether I uttered a shrill yell of terror merely in
spirit or in the hearing of the company. I felt that I must run away, so I
released the leg of the table and ran for my life. But at the door, I ran
head foremost into a party of soldiers ringing down the butt-ends of their
muskets on our doorstep. This apparition caused the dinner party to rise
hastily, while Mrs. Joe who was re-entering the kitchen, empty-handed,
stopped short in her lament of "Gracious goodness, gracious me, what's
gone--with the--pie!" and stared at the visitors.
Further acquaintance with the military gentlemen proved that they had not
come for me, as I fully expected, but merely to have a pair of hand-cuffs
mended, which Joe at once proceeded to do, and while the soldiers waited
they stood about the kitchen, and piled their arms in the corner, telling
us that they were on the search for the two convicts who had escaped from
the prison ships. When Joe's job was done, he proposed that some of us go
with them to see the hunt. Only Mr. Wopsle cared to go, and then Joe said
he would take me. To this Mrs. Joe merely remarked: "If you bring the boy
back, with his head blown to bits with a musket, don't look to me to put
it together again!"
The soldiers took a polite leave of the ladies and then we started off,
Joe whispering to me, "I'd give a shilling if they'd cut and run, Pip!"
There was no doubt in my mind that the man I had succoured and the other
one I had seen, were the convicts in question, and as we went on and on,
my heart thumped violently. The man had asked me if I was a deceiving imp.
Would he believe now that I had betrayed him?
On we went, and on and on, down banks and up banks, and over gates,
hearing the sound of shouting in the distance. As we came nearer to the
sound, the soldiers ran like deer. Water was splashing, mud was flying,
and oaths were being sworn, and then, "Here are both men!" panted the
sergeant, struggling in a ditch. "Surrender, you two! Come asunder!" Other
soldiers ran to help, and dragged up from the ditch my convict and the
other one. Both were bleeding and panting and struggling, but of course I
knew them both directly. While the manacles were being put on their hands,
my convict saw me for the first time. I looked at him eagerly, and
slightly moved my hands and shook my head, trying to assure him of my
innocence, but he did not in any way show me that he understood my
gestures. We soon set off, the convicts kept apart, and each surrounded by
a separate guard. Mr. Wopsle would have liked to turn back, but Joe was
resolved to see it out, so we went on with the party, carrying torches
which flared up and lighted our way. We could not go fast because of the
lameness of the prisoners, and they were so spent that we had to halt two
or three times while they rested. After an hour or two of this travelling,
we came to a hut where there was a guard. Here the sergeant made some sort
of a report, and an entry in a book, and then the other convict was
drafted to go on board the Hulks first. My convict only looked at me once.
While we stood in the hut, he looked thoughtfully into the fire. Suddenly
he turned to the sergeant and remarked that he wished to say something
about his escape, adding that it might prevent some persons being laid
"You can say what you like," returned the sergeant, and the convict
"A man can't starve, at least I can't. I took some wittles up at the
village yonder--where the church stands a'most out on the marshes, and
I'll tell you where from. From the blacksmith's."
"Halloa, Pip!" said Joe, staring at me.
"It was some broken wittles--and a dram of liquor--and a pie."
"Have you happened to miss such an article as a pie, blacksmith?" asked
"My wife did, at the very moment when you came in. Don't you know, Pip?"
"So," said my convict, looking at Joe, "so you're the blacksmith, are you?
Then I'm sorry to say, I've eat your pie."
"God knows you're welcome to it, so far as it was ever mine," returned
Joe. "We don't know what you've done, but we wouldn't have you starve to
death for it, poor miserable fellow-creature, would we, Pip?"
Something that I had noticed before, clicked in the man's throat, and he
turned his back. The boat was ready for him, and we saw him rowed off by a
crew of convicts like himself.
We saw the boat go alongside of the Hulks, and we saw the prisoner taken
up the side and disappear, and then the excitement was all over. I was so
tired and sleepy by that time that Joe took me on his back and carried me
home, and when we arrived there I was fast asleep. When at last I was
roused by the heat and noise and lights, Joe was relating the story of our
expedition and of the convict's confession of his theft from our pantry.
This was all I heard that night, for my sister clutched me, as a slumbrous
offence to the company's eyesight, and assisted me very forcefully up to
bed, and after that the subject of the convict and the robbery was only
mentioned on a few occasions when something brought it to mind. In regard
to my part of it, I do not recall any tenderness of conscience in
reference to Mrs. Joe, when the fear of being found out was lifted off me.
But I dearly loved Joe, and it was on my mind that I ought to tell him the
whole truth. And yet I did not, fearing that I might lose his love and
confidence, and that he would think me worse than I really was. And so he
never heard the truth of the matter. At this time I was only odd-boy about
the forge, or errand boy for any neighbour who wanted a job done, and in
the evenings I went to a school kept by Mr. Wopsle's great-aunt, who used
to go to sleep from six to seven every evening, in the society of youth
who paid twopence per week each for the improving opportunity of seeing
her do it. With her assistance, and the help of her granddaughter, Biddy,
I struggled through the alphabet, as if it had been a bramble bush,
getting considerably worried and scratched by each letter. After that, the
nine figures began to add to my misery, but at last I began to read,
write, and cipher on the smallest scale.
One night, about a year after our hunt for the convicts, Joe and I sat
together in the chimney corner while I struggled with a letter which I was
writing on my slate to Joe, for practice. As we sat there, Joe made the
fire and swept the hearth, for we were momentarily expecting Mrs. Joe. It
was market day, and she had gone to market with Uncle Pumblechook to
assist him in buying such household stuffs and goods as required a woman's
judgment. Just as we had completed our preparations, she and Uncle
Pumblechook drove up, and came in wrapped up to the eyes, for it was a
"Now," said Mrs. Joe, unwrapping herself in haste and excitement, "if this
boy ain't grateful to-night, he never will be!"
I looked as grateful as any boy could who had no idea what he was to be
grateful about, and after many side remarks addressed to the others, Mrs.
Joe informed me that Miss Havisham wished me to go and play at her house
for her amusement. "And of course, he's going," added my sister severely,
"And he had better play there, or I'll work him!"
I had heard of Miss Havisham, everybody for miles round had heard of her,
as an immensely rich and grim old lady, who lived a life of seclusion in a
large and dismal house, barricaded against robbers.
"Well, to be sure," said Joe, astounded, "I wonder how she comes to know
"Noodle," said my sister, "who said she knew him? Couldn't she ask Uncle
Pumblechook if he knew of a boy to go and play there? And couldn't Uncle
Pumblechook, being always thoughtful for us, then mention this boy, that I
have forever been a willing slave to?" After this she added, "For anything
we can tell, the boy's fortune is made by this. Uncle Pumblechook has
offered to take him into town to-night and keep him over night, and to
take him with his own hands to Miss Havisham's to-morrow morning, and
Lor-a-mussy me!" cried my sister. "Here I stand talking, with Uncle
Pumblechook waiting, and the mare catching cold at the door, and the boy
grimed with dirt from the hair of his head to the sole of his foot!" With
that she pounced on me and I was scraped and kneaded, and towelled and
thumped, and harrowed and reaped, until I was really quite beside myself.
When at last my ablutions were completed, I was put into clean linen of
the stiffest character, and in my tightest and fearfullest suit, I was
then delivered over to Mr. Pumblechook, who said dramatically: "Boy, be
forever grateful to all friends, but especially unto them which brought
you up by hand!"
"God bless you, Pip, old chap!"
I had never parted from him before, and what with my feelings, and what
with soap-suds, I could at first see no stars from the chaise cart. But
they twinkled out one by one without throwing any light on the question
why on earth I was going to play at Miss Havisham's, and what on earth I
was expected to play at.
I spent the night with Uncle Pumblechook, and the next morning we started
off for Miss Havisham's, and within a quarter hour had reached the house,
which looked dismal, and had a great many iron bars to it. Some of the
windows had been walled up, and the others were rustily barred. There was
a court-yard in front which was also barred, so after ringing the bell we
had to wait until some one should open it. Presently a window was raised
and a voice asked "What name?" to which my conductor replied,
"Pumblechook." Then the window was shut, and a very pretty,
proud-appearing young lady came down with keys in her hand. She opened the
gate to let me in, and Uncle Pumblechook was about to follow, when the
young lady remarked that Miss Havisham did not wish to see him. She said
it in such an undiscussible way that Uncle Pumblechook dared not protest,
and so I followed my young guide in alone and crossed the court-yard. We
entered the house by a side door--the great front entrance had chains
across it--and we went through many passages, and up a staircase, in the
dark except for a single candle. At last we came to the door of a room,
and she said, "Go in."
I answered, more in shyness than politeness, "After you, miss." But she
answered, "Don't be ridiculous, boy; I am not going in," and scornfully
walked away, and what was worse, took the candle with her.