What do great expectations relate to?

Author page

 << zurück weiter >> 

9. Pip’s comrade is sworn in

Chapter fortieth.
The convict as a guest friend.


It was fortunate for me that I had to take precautions (as far as it was in my power) for the safety of my dreaded guest; for this consciousness, when I awoke under its pressure, pushed a confused mass of other thoughts into the background.

It went without saying that it was impossible for me to keep it hidden in my lodgings. It was positively impracticable, and attempting to do it in spite of it was bound to arouse suspicion. It is true that I now had no avenger in my service, but I was in the care of a quick-tempered old woman and a ragged creature she called her niece, and the attempt to deny them entry to one of our rooms, would have resulted in their curiosity and gossip. They both had weak eyes, which I had long attributed to a chronic habit of looking through keyholes, and were always on hand when they were not needed; yes, that was the only thing they could be relied on other than the theft. So in order not to have any secrets from these people, I decided to announce to them when they came in the morning that my uncle had unexpectedly arrived from the provinces.

I chose this procedure while groping around in the dark for the lighter to light a light. But since I could not find it, I was obliged to go down to the porter's house and fetch the night watchman with his lantern. But as I padded down the stairs in the dark, I stumbled on something, and that something was a man crouched in a corner.

Since the man did not answer me when I asked what he had to do there, but rather avoided my grip in silence, I ran to the porter's house and asked the night watchman to come back with me quickly, and then informed him on the way back from what I just met on the stairs. The wind was still raging with equal force, and so we did not want to endanger the light of our lantern by re-lighting the lamps that had gone out, but examined all the stairs from top to bottom and found no one. Then it occurred to me that the man might have slipped into my room; therefore I lit my light at the one of the night watchman, whom I left at the door, and then carefully investigated all my rooms, including the one in which my terrible guest slept. But everything was quiet and there was certainly no other man in that apartment.

It worried me that just that night, every night of the year, someone had been lurking on our stairs, and so I asked the night watchman when I handed him a drink at the door in the hope of getting reassuring information from him, whether he let in gentlemen through the gate, in whom it had become very noticeable that they had been in an evening party. He said, yes, three, at different times of the night. One lived in Fountain-Court and the other two in the alley, and he had seen them all go home. The only other young man who lived in the house of which my apartment formed part had been away for a few weeks; and he could not have returned that night, for as we came up the stairs we had seen that his seal was still unbroken on his door.

"As it is such a bad night, sir," said the night watchman, handing the glass back to me, "unusually few people have come through my gate today. Except for the three gentlemen I have mentioned to you, I don't remember anyone since eleven o'clock when a stranger came and asked for you. "

"My uncle," I muttered; "Yes sir."

"You saw him, sir?"

"Yes. O yes."

"And also the man who came with him?"

"The man who came with him?" I repeated.

"I thought the man would go with him," replied the night watchman. "The man stood still when he stood still and asked me where you lived and then followed him that way."

"What kind of man was he?"

The night watchman hadn't paid special attention to him; he meant a worker; As best he could remember, the man had been wearing dust-colored clothes under a dark coat. The night watchman took things easier than I did, and that was very natural, since he did not have the same reasons for attaching the same weight.

As soon as I got rid of him, which I thought advisable, without getting into too much discussion, I felt very disturbed in my mind by the two circumstances in the association; whereas, taken individually, they might have a very harmless solution - since, for example, any of the young people had dinner at home or in company and then, without coming near the gate of the night watchman, fell on my stairs and Could have fallen asleep - or even because my nameless guest might have taken someone with him to be shown the way - but taken together they looked bad for someone as prone to fear and suspicion as I am in the change of last couple of hours.

I lit a fire in the chimney, which burned with a pale, pale light at this dead morning hour, and soon I fell asleep in front of it. It seemed to me that I had been slumbering all night when it struck six and I woke up. Since a full hour and a half had to pass before daybreak, I fell asleep again; but every moment I woke up again; soon, while rambling conversations about nothing rang in my ears; soon by mistaking the wind in the chimney for thunder; but finally I fell into a sound sleep, from which I woke up in broad daylight, startling violently.

Up to this point I had still not been able to reconsider my situation, nor could I now. I didn't have the strength to do it. I was extremely depressed and miserable, but in an incoherent way. As for drawing up a plan for the future, I could just as easily have made an elephant. When I opened the shutters and looked out into the wild, wet morning, wrapped all over in lead gray; When I wandered from one room to the other, or, shivering from the cold, sat down in front of the fire again and waited for my attendant - I thought I was unhappy, but hardly knew why, how long I had been there, or on what day of the week this occurred to me, or even who I am myself.

At last the old woman arrived with her niece - the latter with a head that was not easily distinguishable from her broom - and expressed astonishment at the sight of me and the fire. Whereupon I informed them that my uncle had arrived that night and was now sleeping next door, and that afterwards they would have to make the breakfast arrangements. Then I washed and dressed while they tossed about the room utensils and made a lot of dust, and then after a while I saw myself sitting in front of the fire again, in a state between waking and dreaming, waiting for - him - until he had to Breakfast would come.

After a little while his door opened and he came out. I couldn't bear to see him and it seemed to me that he looked worse in the light of day.

“I don't even know,” I said in a low voice, as he sat down at the breakfast table, “what to call you. I passed you on for my uncle. "

“That's right, dear boy. Call me uncle. "

"I suspect you took some name on board the ship?"

“Yes, dear boy. I took the name Provis. "

"Do you intend to keep the name?"

"Well, yes, dear boy, he's as good as someone else - you'd prefer someone else."

"What's your real name?" I asked in a whisper.

»Magwitch The name is made up of» magic «and» witch «(witch). 'Speaking names' are the rule with Dickens, "he replied, just as softly; "Abel baptized."

"What were you raised to do?"

"To a shit, dear boy."

He answered with complete seriousness, and used the word as if it meant some craft or profession.

"When you came into the Temple last night," I said, pausing to think in silent astonishment whether the event, which seemed long ago, could really have taken place last night ...

"Well, dear boy?"

"When you came through the gate last night and asked the night watchman about my apartment, did you have anyone with you?"

"With me? No, dear boy, "

"But someone was there?"

“I didn't pay special attention to it,” he said, somewhat doubtfully, “as I am not familiar with the customs of the place. But I almost think someone else came in with me. "

"Are you known in London?"

"I hope not!" He said, jerking his neck with his index finger, which made me hot and cold.

"Were you known in London before?"

“Not particularly, dear boy. I mostly stayed in the provinces. "

"Were you - in London - on trial?"

"What time?" He asked with a sharp look.

"The last time."

He nodded.

“That was how I met Jaggers. Jaggers was for me. "

It was on the tip of my tongue to ask him why he was on trial, but he grabbed a knife, waved it in the air, and started off with the words:

"And whatever I had done, I have now worked through it and paid for it" - to breakfast.

He ate in a greedy way that was very unpleasant, and all of his manners were raw, noisy, and voracious. He had lost some of his teeth since I saw him eat in the marshes, and as he turned the bite in his mouth and tilted his head to one side to use his strongest fangs to chew it, he saw one in a terrible way like hungry old dogs. If I had had any appetite, he would have robbed me of it, and I would have sat, as was pretty much the case now: while, repulsed by an insurmountable reluctance to him, I glared at the tablecloth.

“I am a heavy eater, dear boy,” he said, like a polite apology, since he was done with his meal, “but I always have been. Had it been in my constitution to be a lesser eater, I would probably have gotten into less trouble. I must also have my pipe. When I was first hired as a shepherd back there on the other side of the world, I think I would have become a melancholy twisted sheep myself if I hadn't had my pipe. "

As he spoke in this way, he got up from the table and, putting his hand in the breast pocket of his short frieze skirt, brought out a small black pipe and a handful of loose tobacco, of the kind called Mohrenkopf. After he had filled his pipe, he put the remaining tobacco back in his pocket as if it had been a drawer. Then he took a glowing coal from the fireplace with the fire tongs and lit his pipe on it, and then he turned on the fireplace carpet, so that his back was turned to the fire, and began his favorite maneuver again - that he was his two Hands reached out to take mine.

"And this," said he, rocking my two arms to and fro, while steaming with his pipe; “So this is the gentleman I've made! The real, real gentleman! It's good for me to look at you, Pip. All I ask is to stand here and look at you, dear boy! "

I released my hands as soon as I tried to do this, and noticed that I was slowly beginning to find my way into my position. To which creature I was chained and how tightly I was, I realized quite clearly when I heard his rough voice and looked at his furrowed, bald head with the iron-gray hair on the sides.

“I don't want to see my gentleman walking in the street kiosk; no dirt should stick to his boots. My gentleman is supposed to have horses, Pip! Horses for riding and horses for driving, and horses for riding and driving for his servants on top of that. Colonists should have their horses (and race horses, if I may ask. Goodness!) And my London gentleman shouldn't? No no. We want to show you something completely different! How, Pip? "

He took a large, thick paperback from his pocket, which was filled to bursting with papers, and tossed it on the table.

“There's something in that book, dear boy, that is worth the effort to spend. It's yours. Everything I have doesn't belong to me, it belongs to you. Don't be afraid. There is more to be had where that comes from. I have returned to the old country to see my gentleman spend his money like a real gentleman. That will my Be pleasure. My It will be pleasure to see him do this. And damn you all! "He concluded, looking around the ceiling and snapping his fingers loudly," damn you all, from the judge in his wig to the colonists who make the dust fly, I want to mend you Gentleman than your whole corps can give together! "

"Stop!" I said, almost insane with fear and disgust. “I have to speak to you. I wish to know what is to be done. I need to know how to protect you from danger, how lukewarm you want to stay, and what your plans are. "

"Look here, Pip," he said in a suddenly changed and moderate tone, as he put his hand on my arm; “Most of all, look here. I forgot myself half a minute ago. What I said was mean; that was it - it was mean. Look here, Pip. Check me out. I don't want to be mean. "

"First," I said, almost with a groan, "what precautions can we take to prevent you from being recognized and arrested?"

“No, dear boy,” he said in the same tone as before, “that doesn't come first. Community comes first. It didn't take me so many years to make a gentleman without knowing what to owe him. Look here, Pip. I was mean; that was me - I was mean. Look after me, dear boy. "

Aware of the grimly ridiculous nature of his being, I could not help laughing impatiently when I replied:

"I have it looked after you. I ask you for everything in the world, don't repeat it again! "

"Yes, but look here," he repeated. “Dear boy, I didn't come from so far to be mean. Now go on, dear boy. You said …"

"How can we protect you against the danger to which you are exposed?"

“Well, dear boy, the danger is not that great. Unless stated, the danger means little. There's Jaggers and there's Wemmick and there you are. Who else is there who can show me off? "

"Couldn't you see someone on the street by any chance?" I said bitterly.

“Well,” he replied, “not many. Nor do I think of myself in the newspapers as A.M. from Botany Bay In the Botany Bay The British landed in Australia for the first time in 1770 under James Cook. From 1788, however, it was not Botany Bay that was used to land deported British prisoners, but the bay to the north and later named Port Jackson. returned to announce; and years have passed since then, and to whom could it be of any use? And with all that, Pip, look here: and if the danger had been fifty times as great, I would still have come to see you, I'll tell you. "

"And how long do you want to stay?"

"How long?" He said, taking the pipe out of his mouth, making a long face and staring at me. “I'm not going back. I have come to stay here forever. "

"Where do you want to live?" I said. “What can we do with you? Where will you be safe? "

"Dear boy," he replied; “You can buy wigs for money to make yourself unrecognizable, and there are hair powder and glasses, and black dresses and breeches and whatnot. Others have done it with certainty before me, and what others have done, others can do too. As for the where and how of the stay, dear boy, tell me your opinion about it. "

"You take it very calmly now," I said, "but you spoke very seriously last night when you swore it was death."

"And I still swear that it is death," said he, putting his pipe back in his mouth; “And death by hanging on the open road not far from here, and I am completely serious that you fully understand this. And what else if that is the case? Here I am. Going back now would be just as bad as expecting the exit here - yes, worse. And by the way, Pip, I'm here because I meant to be with you for years. As for what I am able to dare, I am now an old bird who has escaped snares since it fledged, and I am not afraid of a scarecrow. If death is hidden within it, let it go, and let it come out, and I will face it, and then I will believe in it and not before. Now let me take another look at my gentleman. "

And he took my hands again and looked at me with an admiring look of property: while he continued to smoke with great calm.

It seemed to me that I could do nothing better than to rent him quiet lodging nearby, which he would be able to move into as soon as Herbert returned, whom I expected back in two or three days. It was quite clear to me that I would have to share the secret with Herbert as an inevitable necessity, even if I left out of question the great relief this would afford me.

But this was by no means the case with Mr. Provis (I decided to call him by that name), who reserved his consent for Herbert's co-science until he would have seen him and made a favorable judgment of his physiognomy.

"And even then, dear boy," he said, taking a sleazy black little New Testament out of his pocket, "let's take his oath from him."

If I said that my dreadful patron only carried this little black book with him around the world in order to take oaths from people in the worst case, I would venture an assertion whose perfect accuracy I have never fully convinced myself - but so I can say much with certainty that I have never seen him make any other use of it. The book itself looked as if it had been stolen from some court of law, and perhaps from his knowledge of this circumstance, combined with his own experiences of this kind, he drew a confidence in the power of the book, as if it had been a judicial charm would. On that first occasion he brought up the same thing, I remembered how long ago he had made me swear allegiance in the churchyard, and how he told me last night that even in his solitude he took oaths on his decisions .

Since he was currently dressed in a kind of nautical traveling suit, in which he looked as if he had a few parrots or a monkey or a few cigars for sale, I first made an agreement with him as to what kind of suit he should wear. He had an extraordinary reliance on the virtues of "breeches" as a disguise, and had mentally envisioned a suit in which he would have looked like something between a clergyman and a dentist. I had considerable difficulty in getting him to wear a costume which would give him more the appearance of a wealthy peasant; and we agreed that he should cut his hair short and put a little powder in it. Finally, since the attendant and her niece had not yet seen him, he was to show them no sooner than the change in his suit.

One would think it would have been easy to decide on these precautionary measures; but in my stupefied, if not to say mistaken, state of mind it lasted so long that I did not get to go out before three o'clock in the afternoon to encourage her. He was to stay locked in my apartment while I was gone, and under no circumstances should he open the door.

Since I knew a respectable house on Essex Street, in which apartments were to be rented, and the back of which looked into the temple and where I could almost call across from my windows, I went first to this house and was lucky to get the second floor there for Mr. Provis. Then I went from one shop to another, and made such purchases as were necessary for his changed appearance. After I finished with this, I turned to Little Britain for my own account. Mr. Jaggers was at his desk, but when he saw me enter, he stood up immediately and stood with his back in front of the fireplace.

"Well, Pip," he said, "be careful."

"I will, sir," I said, for on the way I had thought about what to say.

“Don't compromise yourself,” said Mr. Jaggers, “and compromise nobody. Do you understand - nobody. Don't tell me anything: I don't ask to know anything; I am not curious."

Of course I saw that he knew: the man had arrived.

“I wish to be certain, Mr. Jaggers, that what I have been told is true. I have no hope that it could be untrue, but at least I can convince myself of the truth. "

Mr. Jaggers nodded his head.

"But did you say: said or: taught?" He asked me, his head up, one side tilted and not looking at me, but at the floor in a listening manner. “Because 'said' would have the appearance of an oral communication. But you cannot get any oral communication from a man in New South Wales. "

"I claim to have said 'instructed', Mr. Jaggers."


"I have been informed by a man by the name of Abel Magwitch that he is the benefactor whom I have long known to be."

"That is the man," said Mr. Jaggers, - "in New South Wales."

"And just him?" I said.

"And he alone," said Mr. Jaggers.

“I am not so foolish, sir, to hold you responsible for all my errors and false conclusions; but I always thought it was Miss Havisham. "

"As you say, Pip," replied Mr. Jaggers, looking at me very calmly and gnawing his index finger, "I am not at all responsible for it."

"And yet it seemed so much," I said with a sorrowful heart.

"Not a trace of evidence, Pip," said Mr. Jaggers, shaking his head and picking up the tails of his coat. “Never take a thing on the face of it, only take it on the basis of evidence. There is no better rule. "

"I have nothing more to say," I said with a sigh, after standing there dejected for a while. "I have convinced myself of the truth of what I have been told, and that is the end of the matter."

'And now that Magwitch has finally revealed itself in New South Wales,' said Mr Jaggers, 'you will see, Pip, how strictly I have kept the facts in all my negotiations with you. I have never deviated from the strict line of facts. You are completely convinced of it, aren't you? "

"Absolutely, sir."

'I warned Magwitch - in New South Wales - when he first wrote to me - from New South Wales - that he should not expect me to deviate from the strict line of facts. And then I gave him another warning. I thought I read vague indications in his letter that he had a distant idea of ​​visiting you in England. I warned him that I didn't need to hear about this any further; that it was unlikely that he would ever receive his pardon; that he was banished from his fatherland for life and that his return to that country was a capital crime, exposing himself to the utmost punishment of the law. I gave Magwitch that warning, ”said Mr. Jaggers, looking at me steadily; 'I wrote him the same in New South Wales; and no doubt he was guided by it.

"Without a doubt," I said.

"I heard from Wemmick," continued Mr. Jaggers, still staring at me, "that he had received a letter dated from Portsmouth, and from a certain colonist by the name of Purvis or -"

"Or provision," I said.

“Or Provis - thank you, Pip. Maybe it's provision? Maybe you know it's Provis? "

"Yes," I said.

"Correct. A letter, dated from Portsmouth, from a certain colonist named Provis, in which he asked Magwitch for your exact address. Wemmick sent him the details by direct mail, I understand. It is probably Provis that gave you the explanations regarding Magwitch - in New South Wales? "

"You did indeed come to me through Provis," I replied.

"Good afternoon, Pip," said Mr. Jaggers, offering me his hand; “I'm glad to have seen you. If you write to Magwitch in New South Wales by mail, or negotiate with him by post, you have the goodness to tell him that the specification and receipts of our long account, as well as the surplus, should be sent to you; for there is still an excess. Good day, Pip! "

We shook hands and he looked at me sharply for as long as he could see me. I turned around at the door and he was still looking at me sharply, while the two hideous plaster casts on the ledge seemed to be trying to open her eyelids and the words from her swollen halves: "Oh, what a man he is! «To push out.

Wemmick had gone out, but even if he had been at his desk he could not have done anything for me. I went straight back to the Temple, where I found the dreadful Provision, busy drinking rum and water in complete safety, and smoking Mohrenkopf.

The following day all of the clothes I had ordered for him were delivered and he put them on. But whatever he was wearing dressed him even less (as it seemed to me sadly) than the clothes he had previously worn. In my opinion there was something about him that made trying to disguise him hopeless. The more I dressed him up and the better I dressed him, the more he looked like the fugitive hobbling along in the marshes. This effect on my fearful imagination was no doubt due in part to the fact that I was beginning to become more familiar with his old face and nature; but I also believe that he dragged one of his legs a little, as if he had still had an iron on it, and that, from head to toe, the convict character was interwoven with the innermost being of the man.

The influences of his lonely hut life also clung to the man, and gave him a wild appearance which no suit in the world could have civilized; in addition there were the influences of his later branded life among the people, and worse than anything, the consciousness that he was now hiding again. In all his manners, whether he was sitting or standing, ate or drank, whether he brooded in a repulsive, high-shouldered manner - or took out his large, horn-hilted impact knife, wiped it on his knee, and then cut up his food with it - or light glasses and Bringing cups to his mouth as if they had been heavy - or chopping a wedge out of bread to soak up the last traces of sauce on his plate by running around it countless times as if it were important to him to get the greatest possible benefit from his portion, and then wiped his fingers on it and devoured it - in all these manners and a thousand other insignificant cases that can hardly be named but occur every minute, it was as clear as possible: Prisoner, criminal, convict written.

It had been his own idea to powder his hair a little, and I had given him the powder after he gave in to my breeches. But I cannot compare the effect of this powder on his hair with anything other than the effect of make-up on a dead face; so dreadful was the way in which everything about him that was particularly desirable to conceal penetrated through this thin layer of disguise and seemed to come out of the vortex of his head as if with flames. As soon as we tried, we gave up on him, and he wore his gray hair cut short.

I cannot describe in words what a terrible secret he was to me at the same time. Whenever he fell asleep in his armchair in the evening, grabbing the armrests of his chair with his gnarled hands, and his bald head, which was tattooed with deep furrows, fell forward on his chest, I used to sit and look at him and make suspicions about it to endure what he must have done, and to accuse him of all the crimes in the criminal codes, until the urge became powerful in me to jump up and flee from him. The disgust which it inspired me increased with every hour to the extent that I believe that I was in the first torments of this urge, regardless of everything it did for me and the danger in which it was hovering, To see me so haunted, yet given way, had I not had the awareness that Herbert would have to come home soon. Once I actually jumped out of bed during the night and began to dress in my worst clothes, hastily resolving to leave him with everything else I owned and then to let me enlist as a soldier for India .

I doubt whether a ghost would have been more terrifying to me, up there in those lonely rooms, during the long evenings and nights and in the incessant raging of the wind and rain. A ghost could not have been captured and hanged for my sake, and the contemplation that this was possible with him, and the fear that it might happen, were no small additions to my torments. When he was not sleeping or playing a complicated kind of solitaire with a dirty game of cards - a game which I have never seen before or after, and in which he marked his winnings by sticking his large penknife in the table - when if he wasn't busy in one or the other of these ways, he probably asked me to read him "A little French, dear boy!" While I did his request, he then stood in front of the fire, without understanding a word of what I was reading, and looked at me with the expression of a man who shows a rarity, and I saw him between the fingers of my hand I shaded my face, pantomiming the room device to draw attention to my cleverness. The marvelous student, haunted by the freak he made himself, was no more unhappy than I was, haunted by the creature who had made me, and did not shudder in horror and reluctance the more he admired me and the more loving he was to me.

I'm writing about this how I feel like it's been a year. It lasted about five days. Since I was always waiting for Herbert, I dared not go out, except when I took Provis out for a walk after dark. Finally, one evening after dinner, when I was completely exhausted asleep in my armchair - for my nights had been restless and my sleep had been disturbed by terrible dreams - the welcome kick on the stairs woke me up. Provis, who had also slept, stumbled up, waking up to the noise I was making, and the large penknife in his hand glittered as fast as lightning.

"Stop! It's Herbert! "I said, and Herbert rushed in with the airy freshness of six hundred miles of France in his heart and in his whole being.

“Handel, my dear boy, how are you, and again how are you, and again how are you? It feels like I've been away for a whole year! And that really has to be the case, because you have become thin and pale! Handel, my - Hollah! I'm sorry."

Here he was interrupted in his word pouring and his handshake when he saw Provis. Provis, who was watching him closely, slowly put his pocket knife back in his pocket and then looked for something else in another pocket.

"Herbert, my dear friend," I said, closing the double doors, while Herbert stood rigid and amazed, "something very strange has happened. This is - my guest. "

"Everything is all right, dear boy!" Said Provis, stepping forward, and then turned his little black book on Herbert. “Take it in your right hand. God let you fall dead on the spot if you ever give anything away in any way! Kiss it! "

"Do it as he wishes," I said to Herbert. As a result, Herbert granted my wish by looking at me with some amicable unrest, and Provis said, holding out his hand:

“You have now taken an oath, as you know. And never believe me on mine unless Pip makes you a gentleman. "


 << zurück weiter >>