Barnaby knew that folks called him half-witted, but he cared little for that. Sometimes he would laugh at what they said.
"Why," he would say, "how much better to be silly than as wise as you! You don't see shadowy people like those that live in sleep—not you. Nor eyes in the knotted panes of glass, nor swift ghosts when it blows hard, nor do you hear voices in the air, nor see men stalking in the sky—not you. I lead a merrier life than you with all your cleverness. You're the dull men. We're the bright ones. Ha, ha! I'll not change with you, not I!"
Haredale, who had been so kind to Barnaby's mother, was a burly, stern man who had few acquaintances and lived much alone. When first he came to live at The Warren an enemy of his, Sir John Chester, had circulated suspicious rumors about him, so that some came half to believe he himself had had something to do with his brother's murder.
These whispers so affected Haredale that as time passed he grew gloomy and morose and lived in seclusion, thinking only how he could solve the mystery of the murder, and loving more and more the little Emma as she grew into a beautiful girl. He neglected The Warren so that the property looked quite desolate and ruined, and at length superstitious people in the neighborhood came to mutter that it was haunted by the ghost of Rudge, the steward, whose body had been found in the pond.
The old bell-ringer of the near-by church even said he had seen this ghost once, when he went, late one night, to wind the church clock. But of course others, who knew there were no such things as ghosts, only smiled at these stories.
Sir John Chester, who so hated Haredale, was just as smooth and smiling and elegant as the other was rough. Haredale had been Sir John's drudge and scapegoat at school and the latter had always despised him. And as the years went by Sir John came to hate him.
His own son Edward had fallen in love with Emma, Haredale's niece, and she loved him in return. Sir John had been all his life utterly selfish and without conscience. He had little money and was much in debt and wanted his son to marry an heiress, so that he himself could continue his life of pleasure. Edward, however, gave his father to understand that he would never give up his love for Emma. Sir John believed that if Haredale chose, he could make his niece dislike Edward, and because he did not, Sir John hated Haredale the more bitterly.
Emma had a close friend named Dolly Varden, the daughter of a locksmith. Dolly was a pretty, dimpled, roguish little flirt, as rosy and sparkling and fresh as an apple, and she had a great many lovers.
One of these was her father's apprentice, who lived in the same house. His name was Simon Tappertit—a conceited, bragging, empty-headed young man with a great opinion of his own good looks. When he looked at his thin legs, which he admired exceedingly, he could not see how it was that Dolly could help worshiping him.
Tappertit had ambitions of his own and thought himself a great man who was kept down by a tyrannical master, though the good-natured locksmith was the kindest man in London. He had formed a society of apprentices whose toast was, "Death to all masters, life to all apprentices, and love to all fair damsels!" He was their leader. He had made them all keys to fit their masters' doors, and at night, when they were supposed to be asleep in bed, they would steal out to meet in a dirty cellar owned by an old blind man, where they kept a skull and cross-bones and signed high-sounding oaths with a pen dipped in blood, and did other silly things. The object of the society was to hurt, annoy, wrong and pick quarrels with such of their masters as happened not to please them. With such cheap fooleries Tappertit had convinced himself that he was fit to be a great general.
But with all his smirking, Dolly Varden only laughed at him. To tell the truth, she was very fond of young Joe Willet, whose father kept the Maypole Inn, very near The Warren where her friend Emma Haredale lived. Joe was a good, brave fellow, and was head over ears in love with Dolly, but Dolly was a coquette, and never let him know how much she cared for him. Joe was not contented at home, for his father seemed to think him a child and did not treat him according to his years, so that but for leaving Dolly Varden he would long ago have run away to seek his fortune.
Both Joe and Dolly knew how Edward Chester loved Emma Haredale, and they used sometimes to carry notes from one to the other, since the hatred of Sir John for Emma's uncle often prevented the lovers from meeting.
Sir John found this out, and bribed a hostler at the Maypole Inn to spy for him and prevent, if he could, these letters passing. The hostler was an uncouth, drunken giant that people called Maypole Hugh, as strong as an ox, and cruel and cunning. Hugh watched carefully, and from time to time would go to Sir John's house in London and report what he had seen.
THE MYSTERIOUS STRANGER AND WHO HE WAS
About this time residents in the neighborhood of The Warren and the Maypole Inn began to tell tales of a mysterious man who roamed about the country-side.
He was seen often and by many persons, always at night, skulking in the shadow or riding furiously on a horse. He was fierce and haggard and discourteous to travelers, wore a slouch hat which he never took off, and generally kept the lower part of his face muffled in a handkerchief. He always went alone. Some said he slept in church-yards, others that he never slept at all, and still others that he was a wicked man who had sold his soul to the Evil One.
One night he rested at the Maypole Inn, and a little while after he had gone, Varden the locksmith, Dolly's father, as he drove home, found Edward Chester lying in the road, having been wounded and robbed of his money. Barnaby Rudge had seen the attack and was bending over him. He had been too frightened to give aid, but from his description Varden knew the robber was the stranger who had stopped at the inn.
The honest locksmith took Edward into his chaise, drove him to Barnaby's house, which was near by, and left him in care of Mrs. Rudge, where a doctor soon dressed the wound, which was not serious.
Next day Mr. Varden came to see how the wounded man was. As he sat talking with Mrs. Rudge a tapping came at the window. She went to the door. The locksmith heard her cry out, and sprang forward to find standing there, to his astonishment, the robber of the night before. He grasped at him, but the woman threw herself before him, clasped his arm and besought him, for her life's sake, not to pursue the man.
The locksmith had known Barnaby's mother all his life, but so strange was her action now (especially since she refused to answer any question, begging him to ask her nothing) that he almost wondered if she herself could be in league with a crime-doer. Her apparent agony touched him, however, and, raising no alarm, he went home in great puzzle of mind.
He would have been far more disturbed if he had known the whole truth. For the mysterious stranger he had seen, who by night had haunted the neighborhood, was none other than Mrs. Rudge's husband, Barnaby's father, the steward who everybody believed had been murdered with his master, and whose body had been found in the pond.
Rudge himself had committed that wicked deed. He had killed both master and gardener, and to cover the crime had put his own clothes, his watch and ring on the latter's body and sunk it in the pond. When, on the night of the murder, he told his wife what he had done, she had shrunk fearfully from him, declaring that, although being his wife she would not give him up to justice, yet she would never own him or shelter him. He had fled then with the money he had stolen, and that night, while she lay sick with horror, Barnaby had been born with his poor crazed brain, the look of terror in his baby face and the birth-mark of blood on his wrist.
For many years the guilty wretch had wandered the earth, but he could not escape the knowledge of his deed. And at last his conscience had driven him back to the scene of his crime, friendless, penniless, fearful of the sunlight, slinking by night like a ghost about the house in which he had murdered his master, and hounding his miserable wife for money with which to buy food and drink. The poor woman had kept her terrible secret, giving him every coin she could save, striving so that Barnaby, unhappily born as he was, should never know the shame of having his father suffer death on the gallows. When Rudge had come to her house that day he had thought her alone, and she had saved him from capture only by begging the locksmith to stay his hand.
After his hairbreadth escape from Varden, Rudge hid himself in a narrow street. When the next dawn came, as he searched for some dark den in which he might lie sheltered till another night, he saw Simon Tappertit issuing with his noisy apprentice crew from the cellar in which they held their meetings. He entered its door, made friends with the villainous blind man who kept it and there established his headquarters.
Once more, one night after the wounded Edward had been taken to his own home, Rudge hunted out his trembling wife and demanded money, threatening to bring harm to Barnaby if she refused him, and she gave him all she had.
But this time dread of him made her desperate. When morning came she went to Haredale and told him that she and her son could no longer live on his bounty. The next day, with Barnaby, who carried on his back his beloved raven, Grip, she left the house afoot, telling no one where they were going lest her husband find her out, and pushed far into the country to find a home in some obscure village. And though Rudge, the murderer, and the blind man (who was much more crafty and cunning than many men with eyesight) searched for them everywhere, it was a long time before they found any trace.
Perhaps Joe and Dolly Varden missed poor cheery Barnaby more than did any one else. But several events occurred soon after this that gave them other things to think of.
Maypole Hugh, the savage hostler, had continued his spying work for Edward's father, and Sir John determined it was high time to break off his son's attachment for Emma Haredale.
One day Dolly was carrying a letter from Emma at The Warren to Edward, and as she passed through the fields, Hugh attacked her, throwing his arms around her and pretending to make coarse love to her. She was dreadfully frightened and screamed as loud as she could. Joe, as it happened, was walking within sound of her voice, and ran like the wind to her aid.
In another moment Hugh had leaped the hedge and disappeared and Dolly was sobbing in her rescuer's arms. She was afraid to tell Joe who had frightened her, for fear the hostler would take his revenge by harming him, so she only said she had been attacked by a man whom she had never seen.
In her scare she had forgotten all about the letter she had carried, and now she discovered it was gone. It was nowhere to be found.
This, of course, was because Hugh had stolen it. It was to get the letter that he had frightened her, and he was soon on his way to carry it to Sir John. Dolly did not guess this. She wrote to Emma telling her of the mishap, and this note Joe, to whom she intrusted it, knowing no reason to distrust the hostler, gave to Hugh to deliver. So Sir John got both missives in the end.
Emma Haredale, not understanding why Edward returned no answer to her letter, was hurt, and thought him cold. Sir John, seizing his opportunity, told her one day (pretending sorrow while he did so) that his son, naturally fickle, had fallen in love with some one else, to whom he was soon to be married.
Emma, not dreaming the father of the man she loved could be such a false liar, believed him, and when Edward wrote her, speaking of his poverty and telling her he was going to leave England to try to better his prospects, she thought his manly letter only an excuse to part from her.
Proud, though heartbroken, she did not answer it, and so, thanks to his father's selfish scheming, Edward sailed away to the West Indies, hopeless and despairing.
Another left England at the same time whose going meant far more to Dolly Varden. This was Joe. His father, the innkeeper, had been restraining him more and more, until his treatment had become the jest of the country-side, and Joe had chafed to the point of rebellion at the gibes that continually met him. One day, at the jeer of an old enemy of his, his wrath boiled over. He sprang upon him and thrashed him soundly in the inn before the assembled guests. Then, knowing his father would never forgive him, he went to his own room and barricaded the door. That night Joe let himself down from his window and before daylight was in London.
He went first to the locksmith's house to tell Dolly he had run away and that he loved her, but Dolly being a flirt, only laughed. To tell the truth, she was so very fond of Joe that she didn't like to show him how sorry she was. So the poor fellow went away thinking she cared very little (though as soon as he was out of sight she nearly cried her eyes out), and enlisted as a soldier. That same night Joe started from London to fight in the war in America. And it was a long time before either he or Edward Chester was heard of again.
BARNABY GETS INTO TROUBLE
Five years went by, and Edward Chester remained in the West Indies and prospered. For five years Joe Willet fought in the war in America. And for five years Barnaby Rudge with his mother and Grip, the raven, lived unmolested in their little village and were happy.
At the end of the five years three things happened at about the same time: Edward started back to England from the West Indies with a fair fortune in his pocket; Joe was sent back from America with one arm gone, and Barnaby and his mother left their village home again, secretly, and set out for London, hoping to lose themselves in its hugeness. The wily blind man, the companion now of Rudge, the murderer, had found them out!
He came one day and made Mrs. Rudge give him all the money she had been able to lay by in these five years except a single gold piece. He told her he would return in a week for more and that if she had not got it then, he would entice Barnaby away to join in the evil life of his father. So she left the village the very next morning, and she and Barnaby trudged afoot all the weary way to the great city.
Though they knew nothing of it, there was great excitement in London. Lord George Gordon, a well-meaning but crack-brained nobleman, led astray by flatterers till he believed he had a God-given mission to drive all Catholics out of England, had, sometime before this, begun to hold meetings and to stir up the people with the cry of "No Popery!"
He declared that the religion of the country was in danger of being overthrown and that the Pope of Rome was plotting to make his religion supreme. And this idea he talked wherever he went. He was a slender, sallow man who dressed in severe black and wore his hair smoothly combed, and his bright, restless eyes and his look of uncertainty made it clear that he was no man to lead, but was rather himself the misled dupe of others.
One of these schemers who ruled him was his secretary, Gashford, a man of ugly face, with beetling brows and great flapped ears. He had been a thief and a scoundrel all his life, and had wormed himself into Lord George's confidence by flattery. He easily fooled his master into believing that the rabble who flocked to hear him, and the idle loungers who yelled themselves hoarse at what he said, were crowds of honest citizens who believed as he did, and were ready to follow his leadership. Gashford had added to his followers even Dennis, the hangman of London, and the foolish nobleman not knowing the ruffian's true calling, thought him a man to trust.
For many weeks this banding together of all the lawless ragamuffins of London had gone on, till one had only to shout "No Popery!" on any street corner to draw together a crowd bent on mischief. Respectable people grew afraid and kept to their houses, and criminals and street vagabonds grew bolder and bolder.
As may be guessed, Simon Tappertit, the one-time apprentice of Varden the locksmith, rejoiced at this excitement as at a chance to show his talent for leadership. His apprentice society had now become the "United Bulldogs," and he himself, helping the schemes of Gashford, strutted about among the crowds with an air of vast importance.
Sir John Chester watched the trouble gathering with glee. His old enemy Haredale, he knew, was a Catholic, and as this movement, if it grew bold enough, meant harm to all of that religion, he hoped for its success. He was too cunning to aid it publicly, but he sent Maypole Hugh, who was still his spy, to Gashford; and the brawny hostler, who savagely longed for fighting and plunder, joined with the secretary and with Dennis the hangman to help increase the tumult.
A day had been set on which Lord George Gordon had vowed he would march to Parliament at the head of forty thousand men to demand the passing of a law to forbid all Catholics to enter the country. This vast rabble-army gathered in a great field, under the command of these sorry leaders—the misguided lord, Dennis the hangman, Tappertit, Hugh the hostler, Gashford the secretary, and other rowdies picked for their boldness and daring. The mob thus formed covered an immense space. All wore blue cockades in their hats or carried blue flags, and from them went up a hoarse roar of oaths, shouts and ribald songs.
Such was the scene on which Barnaby and his mother came as they walked into London. They knew nothing of its cause or its meaning. Mrs. Rudge saw its rough disorder with terror, but the confusion, the waving flags and the shouts had got into Barnaby's brain. To him this seemed a splendid host marching to some noble cause. He watched with sparkling eyes, longing to join it.
Suddenly Maypole Hugh rushed from the crowd with a shout of recognition, and, thrusting a flagstaff into Barnaby's hands, drew him into the ranks.
His mother shrieked and ran forward, but she was thrown to the ground; Barnaby was whirled away into the moving mass and she saw him no more.
Barnaby enjoyed that hour of march with all his soul, and the louder the howling the more he was thrilled. The crowd surrounded the houses of Parliament and fought the police. At length a regiment of mounted soldiers charged them. Barnaby thought this brave work and held his ground valiantly, even knocking one soldier off his horse with the flagstaff, until others dragged him to a place of safety.
That night the drunken mob, grown bolder, tore down, pillaged and burned all the Catholic chapels within their reach, and, with Hugh and Dennis the hangman, poor crazed Barnaby ran at its head, covered with dirt, his garments torn to rags, singing and leaping with delight. He thought he was the most courageous of all, that he was helping to destroy the country's enemies, and that when the fighting was over he and his mother would be rich and she would always be proud that he was so noble and so brave.
The golden cups, the candlesticks and the money they stole from the burned chapels Hugh and the hangman buried under a heap of straw in the tavern which they had made their headquarters, and left Barnaby to guard the place. He counted this a sacred trust, and when soldiers came to arrest all in the building he refused to fly in time. He even fought them single-handed and felled two before he was knocked down with the butt of a musket and handcuffed.
While he had been resisting, Grip had been busily plucking away the straw from the hidden plunder; now his hoarse croak showed them the hoard and they unearthed it all. At length, closing ranks around Barnaby, they marched him off to a barracks, from which he was taken to Newgate Prison, where a blacksmith put irons on his arms and legs, and he and the raven were locked in a cell.
While Barnaby was guarding the tavern room, Hugh, egged on by his master, Sir John Chester, had proposed the burning of The Warren, where Haredale still lived with Emma, his niece, and Dolly Varden, now her companion.
The crowd agreed gladly, since Haredale was a Catholic and that same day in London had given evidence to the police against the rioters who had burned the chapels. They rushed away, marched hastily across the fields, tied the old host of the Maypole Inn to his chair, drank all the liquor they could find and then rushed to The Warren. There they put the servants to flight, burst in the doors, staved the wine-casks in the cellar, split up the costly furniture with hammers and axes and set fire to the building, so that it soon burned to the ground.
Haredale, in London, saw the red glare in the sky and rode post-haste to the place, but found on his arrival only ruins and ashes. He believed that Emma and Dolly had had time to escape to safety; but while he was searching the grounds for some sign of them he saw in the starlight a man hiding in a broken turret.
He drew his sword and advanced. As the figure moved into the light he rushed forward, flung himself upon him and clutched his throat.
"Villain!" he cried in a terrible voice, "dead and buried as all men supposed, at last, at last I have you! You, Rudge, slayer of my brother and of his faithful servant! Double murderer and monster, I arrest you in the name of God!"
Bound and fettered in his carriage, Haredale took Rudge back to London and had him locked in Newgate Prison.
BARNABY PROSPERS AT LAST
Haredale searched vainly next day for Emma and Dolly Varden. He could not believe they had lost their lives in the burning building, yet he was filled with anxiety because of their disappearance. Could he have known what had happened he would have been even more fearful.
Simon Tappertit had seen his chance at last to win for himself the lovely Dolly, who had scorned him when he was an apprentice of the locksmith. He had bribed Hugh and the hangman to aid him. While the mob was occupied at the front of the house this precious pair had entered from the back, seized the two girls and put them into a coach.
This they guarded at a distance till the burning was done; then, with Tappertit on the box and surrounded by his ruffians, the coach was driven into the city.
Emma had spent the day in the fear that her uncle had been killed with other Catholics in London, and at this new and surpassing fright she had fainted. Dolly, though no less concerned, had fought her captors bravely, though vainly. Often in that long ride she wished that Joe, her vanished lover, were there to rescue her as he had rescued her once from Maypole Hugh.
She had determined when she reached the London streets to scream as loudly as she could for help; but before they came to the city Hugh climbed into the carriage and sat between them, threatening to choke either if she made a noise.
In this wise they were driven to a miserable cottage, and in the dirty apartment to which they were taken Dolly threw herself upon the unconscious Emma and wept pitifully, unmindful of the jeers of Hugh and of the hangman.
When Tappertit entered the room suddenly, Dolly, not knowing his part in the plot, screamed with joy and threw herself into his arms crying:
"I knew it! My dear father's at the door! Heaven bless you for rescuing us!"
But she saw in an instant her mistake, when the ridiculous braggart laid his hand on his breast and told her, now that he no longer was an apprentice but a famous leader of the people, he had chosen to be her husband. With this announcement he left them.
Meanwhile Mrs. Rudge, day and night, had searched everywhere for Barnaby. In one of the riots she was injured, and was taken to a hospital, and while she lay there she heard with agony that her son had been so active in the disturbances that a price had been put by the Government on his head.
But in his present trouble Barnaby had unexpectedly found an old friend. Joe Willet, just returned with one empty sleeve from his five years of soldiering in America, had been with the soldiers in the barracks when Barnaby had been brought there on his way to prison. He soon discovered who the boy's rioting companions had been and took them word of his plight, for he knew it meant death to Barnaby unless he escaped.
Maypole Hugh, Tappertit and the hangman were all itching for more disorder, and this news gave them an excuse. They went out at once and gathered the mob together to attack Newgate Prison and to release all the prisoners. They themselves led the procession. The house of Varden, Dolly's father, was on their way; they stopped there, and, in spite of the lusty fight he made, carried the locksmith with them to compel him to open the prison gates with his tools.
This he refused to do, and they would doubtless have killed him, but for two men who dragged him from their clutches in the nick of time. These two men were the one-armed Joe and Edward Chester, just returned from the West Indies, whom the former had met by accident that day. They took the locksmith to his home, while the raging crowd brought furniture from neighboring houses and built a bonfire of it to burn down the great prison gate.
From this same mob Haredale himself had a narrow escape. He was staying at a house near by, which, belonging to a Catholic, was attacked. He tried to escape across the roof, but was recognized from the street by the giant Hugh. The cellar luckily had a back door opening into a lane, and with the assistance of Joe and Edward, who had hastened to the rear to aid him, he escaped that way.
Maypole Hugh, during this terrible time while the mob was burning houses everywhere and the soldiers firing on the rioters in every quarter of London, seemed to bear a charmed life. He rode a great brewer's horse and carried an ax, and wherever the fight was thickest there he was to be found.
Never had such a sight been seen in London as when the prison gate fell and the crowd rushed from cell to cell, smashing the iron doors to release the prisoners, some of whom, being under sentence of death, had never expected to be free again. Rudge, the murderer, knowing nothing of what the uproar meant, suffered tortures, thinking in his guilty fear that the hordes were howling for his life. When he was finally released and in the open street he found Barnaby beside him.
They broke off their fetters, and that night took refuge in a shed in a field. Next day Rudge sent Barnaby to try to find the blind man, his cunning partner, in whose wits he trusted to help them get away. Barnaby brought the blind man, and brought also Hugh, whom he found wounded in the street, but in so doing he was seen by Dennis, the hangman.
This villainous sneak, knowing that the daring of the rioters had reached its limit, and that they must soon be scattered and captured, and thinking to buy pardon for himself by a piece of treachery, without delay brought soldiers, who surrounded the shed. The blind man, attempting to run away, was shot dead, and the others, Rudge, Hugh and poor, innocent Barnaby, were captured.
Then, well satisfied with his work, Dennis set out for the house where Simon Tappertit had confined Emma Haredale and Dolly Varden. The hangman wanted them well out of the way, so they could not testify that he had helped to burn The Warren and to kidnap them. He had thought of a plan to have them taken to a boat in the river and conveyed where their friends would never find them, and to carry them off he chose Gashford, Lord George Gordon's secretary, who was the more willing as he had fallen in love with Emma's beauty.
But this wicked plan was never to be carried out. The very hour that Gashford came on this pitiless errand, while he roughly bade Emma prepare to depart, the doors flew open. Men poured in, led by Edward Chester, who knocked Gashford down; and in another moment Emma was clasped in her uncle's embrace, and Dolly, laughing and crying at the same time, fell into the arms of her father. Their place of concealment had been discovered a few hours before, and the three men had lost no time in planning their capture.
Dennis the hangman, in spite of his previous treachery, caught in the trap, was taken straight-way to jail, and Simon Tappertit, wounded and raging, watched Dolly's departure from the floor, where he lay with his wonderful legs, the pride and glory of his life, broken and crushed into shapeless ugliness. The famous riots were over. Lord George Gordon was a prisoner, hundreds were being arrested, and London was again growing quiet.
Mrs. Rudge, poor mother! at last found Barnaby where he lay chained in his cell and condemned to death. Day after day she never left him, while Varden, the locksmith, and Haredale worked hard for his release. They carried his case even to the King, and at the last moment, while he rode on his way to execution, his pardon was granted.
Of the rest who died on the scaffold, Rudge, the murderer, was hanged, cursing all men to the last; Maypole Hugh died glorying in his evil life and with a jest on his lips, and Dennis, the hangman, was dragged to the gallows cringing and shrieking for mercy.
A few weeks later Emma Haredale was married to Edward Chester and sailed with him back to the West Indies, where he had established a flourishing business.
Before this, however, his father, Sir John Chester, was well punished for his hard heart and bad deeds by the discovery that Maypole Hugh, the hostler, was really his own unacknowledged son, whose mother he had deserted many years before. But even this blow, and the marriage of his son Edward to the niece of his lifelong enemy, did not soften him. He still hated Haredale with his old venom and loved to go to the ruins of The Warren and gloat over its destruction.
On one of these visits he met and taunted Haredale beyond all endurance. The two men drew their swords and fought a duel, which ended by Haredale's running Sir John through the heart. Haredale left England at once, entered a convent in a foreign country and spent his few remaining years in penance and remorse.
Lord George Gordon, the poor deluded noble who had been the cause of all this disorder, finally died, harmless and quite crazy, in Newgate Prison. Simon Tappertit, in spite of his active part in the riots, was luckier, for he got off with two wooden legs and lived for many years, a corner boot-black.
Joe, of course, married Dolly Varden, and the locksmith gave her such a generous marriage portion that he was able to set up in business, succeeding his father as landlord of the old Maypole Inn, and there they lived long and happily.
Barnaby Rudge, after the death of his father, gradually became more rational and was everywhere a great favorite with old and young. He and his mother lived always on the Maypole farm, and there were never two more contented souls than they.
As for Grip, the raven, he soon forgot his jail experience and grew sleek and glossy again. For a whole year he never uttered a word till one sunny morning he suddenly broke out with, "I'm a devil, I'm a devil, I'm a devil!" in extraordinary rapture. From that time on he talked more and more, and as he was only one hundred and fifty years old when Barnaby was gray headed (a mere infant for a raven) he is very probably talking yet.
THE PERSONAL HISTORY OF DAVID COPPERFIELD
Scene: London, Yarmouth, Dover and the Country
Time: 1812 to 1842
David Copperfield A fatherless boy
Miss Betsy Trotwood His aunt
Peggotty His nurse
Mr. Murdstone His stepfather
Miss Murdstone Mr. Murdstone's sister
Mr. Peggotty A fisherman Peggotty's brother
Ham Their nephew
Mrs. Gummidge The widow of Mr. Peggotty's dead partner
"Little Em'ly" Peggotty's orphan niece
Barkis A cart driver Later, Peggotty's husband
Mr. Creakle Proprietor of a boys' school
Tommy Traddles } } Schoolmates and friends of David's James Steerforth }
Mr. Micawber A London friend of David's Always "waiting for something to turn up"
"Mr. Dick" A simple-minded relative of Miss Betsy Trotwood's
Mr. Wickfield Miss Betsy's lawyer
Agnes His daughter
Uriah Heep His clerk Later, his partner
Doctor Strong David's schoolmaster in Dover
Dora Spenlow The daughter of David's employer and his "child-wife"
DAVID'S EARLY UPS AND DOWNS
There was once a little boy by the name of David Copperfield, whose father had died before he was born. The night he was born his great-aunt, Miss Betsy Trotwood—a grim lady with a black cap tied under her chin and a great gold watch chain—came to the house to ask his mother to name the baby, which she took for granted was a girl, after her; but as soon as she found it was a boy she flounced out in anger and never came back again.
The first thing David remembered was living in a big country house in England with his pretty, golden-haired mother and with Peggotty, his nurse, a red-faced, kindly woman, with a habit of wearing her dresses so tight that whenever she hugged him some buttons would fly off the back. He loved his mother dearly—so dearly that when a tall, handsome man named Murdstone began to come to see her in the evenings David was jealous and sad. Mr. Murdstone acted as if he liked him, and even took him riding on his horse; but there was something in his face that David could not like.
One summer day David was sent off with Peggotty for a two weeks' visit to her brother's house in Yarmouth. Yarmouth was a queer fishing town on the sea-coast, and the house they went to was the queerest thing in it. It was made of an old barge, drawn up high and dry on the beach. It had a chimney on one side and little windows, and there were sea-shells around the door. David's room was in the stern, and the window was the hole which the rudder had once passed through. Everything smelled of salt water and lobsters, and David thought it was the most wonderful house in the world.
He soon made friends with the family—Mr. Peggotty, a big fisherman with a laugh like a gale of wind; Ham, his nephew, a big, overgrown boy who carried David from the coach on his back, and Mrs. Gummidge, who was the widow of Mr. Peggotty's drowned partner.
And, last of all, there was a beautiful little girl with curly hair and a string of blue beads around her neck whom they called Little Em'ly. She was an orphan niece of Peggotty's. None of these people belonged to Mr. Peggotty, but, though he was only a poor fisherman himself, he was so kind that he gave them all a home. David played with little Em'ly, and went out in the boat with Mr. Peggotty, and enjoyed his visit greatly, though he grew anxious to see his mother again.
He had no idea what had happened to her till he got back home with Peggotty. Then he found why he had been sent off on his visit. While he was away his mother had married Mr. Murdstone.
David found things sadly altered after this. Mr. Murdstone was a hard, cruel master. He cared nothing for the little boy and was harsh to him in everything. He even took away David's own cozy bedroom and made him sleep in a gloomy chamber. When he was sad Mr. Murdstone called him obstinate and locked him up and forbade his mother to pet or comfort him.
David's mother loved him, but she loved her new husband, too, and it was a most unhappy state of things. To make it worse, Mr. Murdstone's sister came to live with them. She was an unlovely old maid with big black eyebrows, and liked David no better than her brother did.
After this there were no more pleasant hours of sitting with his mother or walking with her to church, for Mr. Murdstone and his sister kept them apart. The only happy moments David spent were in a little upper room where there was a collection of books left by his dead father. He got some comfort from reading these.
Mr. Murdstone made David's mother give him hard tasks and lessons to do, and when David recited them he and his sister both sat and listened. To feel their presence and disapproval confused the little fellow so much that even when he knew his lesson he failed.
One day when he came to recite he saw Mr. Murdstone finishing the handle of a whip he had been making. This frightened him so that he could scarcely remember a word. Mr. Murdstone grasped him then and led him to his room to whip him.
Poor little David was so terrified that he hardly knew what he was doing, and in his agony and terror, while the merciless blows were falling, he seized the hand that held him and bit it as hard as he could. Mr. Murdstone then beat him almost to death and locked him in the room.
He was kept there for five days with only bread and milk to eat. Every day he was taken down for family prayers and then taken back again, and during prayers he was made to sit in a corner where he could not even see his mother's face. He had to sit all day long with nothing to do but think of Mr. Peggotty's house-boat and of little Em'ly and wish he was there. The last night Peggotty, his nurse, crept up and whispered through the keyhole that Mr. Murdstone was going to send him away the next day to a school near London.
The next morning he started in a carrier's cart. His mother was so much in awe of Mr. Murdstone that she hardly dared kiss David good-by, and he saw nothing of Peggotty. But as he was crying, Peggotty came running from behind a hedge and jumped into the cart and hugged him so hard that all the buttons flew off the back of her dress.
The man who drove the cart was named Barkis. He seemed to be very much taken with Peggotty, and after she had gone back David told him all about her. Before they parted he made David promise to write her a message for him. It was a very short message—"Barkis is willin'." David didn't know in the least what the driver meant, but he promised, and he sent the message in his very first letter.
Probably Peggotty knew what he meant, though, for before David came back again Mr. Barkis and she were courting. However, that has not much to do with this part of the story.
The school to which Mr. Murdstone had sent him was a bare building with gratings on all the windows like a prison, and a high brick wall around it. It was owned by a man named Creakle, who had begun by raising hops, and had gone into the school business because he had lost all of his own and his wife's money and had no other way to live. He was fat and spoke always in a whisper, and he was so cruel and bad-tempered that not only the boys, but his wife, too, was terribly afraid of him.
He nearly twisted David's ear off the first day, and he made one of the teachers tie a placard to David's back (this, he said, was by Mr. Murdstone's order) which read:
TAKE CARE OF HIM HE BITES
To have to wear this before everybody made David sorrowful and ashamed, but luckily a good-natured boy named Tommy Traddles, who liked David's looks, said it was a shame to make him wear it, and as Tommy Traddles was very popular, all the other boys said it was a shame, too. So, beyond calling him "Towser" for a few days, and saying "Lie down, sir!" as if he were a dog, they did not make much fun of him while he wore it.
Besides Tommy Traddles, David liked best the head boy, James Steerforth—the oldest boy in the school, and the only one Creakle did not dare beat or mistreat. Steerforth took David under his wing and helped him with his lessons, while in return David used to tell him stories from the books he had read.
What with the beatings and tasks, David was glad enough when vacation time came. But his home-coming was anything but pleasant. He found his mother with a little baby, and she looked careworn and ill.
Mr. Murdstone, he saw at once, hated him as much as ever, and Miss Murdstone would not let him even so much as touch his baby brother. He was forbidden to sit in the kitchen with Peggotty, and when he crept away to the upper room with the books Mr. Murdstone called him sullen and obstinate. David was so miserable every day that he was almost glad to bid his mother good-by, and as he rode away, to look back at her as she stood there at the gate holding up her baby for David to see.
That was the last picture David carried in his heart of his pretty mother. One day not long after, he was called from the school-room to the parlor, and there Mr. Creakle told him that his mother was dead and that the baby had died, too.
David reached home the next day. Peggotty took him into her arms at the door and called his mother her "dear, poor pretty," and comforted him, but he was very sad. It seemed to him that life could never be bright again.
After the funeral Miss Murdstone discharged Peggotty and, probably not knowing what else to do with him, let David go with the faithful old servant down to the old house-boat at Yarmouth, where he had been visiting when his mother was married to Mr. Murdstone.
The wonderful house on the beach was just the same. Mr. Peggotty and Ham and Mrs. Gummidge were still there, with everything smelling just as usual of salt water and lobsters; and little Em'ly was there, too, grown to be quite a big girl. It seemed, somehow, like coming back to a dear old quiet home, where nothing changed and where all was restful and good.
But this happiness was not to last. David had to go home again, and there it was worse than ever. He was utterly neglected. He was sent to no school, taught nothing, allowed to make no friends. And at last Mr. Murdstone, as if he could think of nothing worse, apprenticed him as a chore boy in a warehouse in London.
The building where David now was compelled to work was on a wharf on the river bank, and was dirty and dark and overrun with rats. Here he had to labor hard for bare living wages, among rough boys and rougher men, with no counselor, hearing their coarse oaths about him, and fearing that one day he would grow up to be no better than they. He was given a bedroom in the house of a Mr. Micawber, and this man was, in his way, a friend.
There was never a better-hearted man than Mr. Micawber, but he seemed to be always unlucky. He had a head as bald as an egg, wore a tall, pointed collar, and carried for ornament an eye-glass which he never used. He never had any money, was owing everybody who would lend him any, and was always, as he said, "waiting for something to turn up." With this exception David had not a friend in London, and finally Mr. Micawber himself was put in prison for debt, and his relatives, who paid his debts to release him, did so on condition that he leave London. So at length David had not even this one friend.
David bore this friendless and wretched life as long as he could, but at length he felt that he could stay at the warehouse no longer and made up his mind to run away.
The only one in the world he could think of who might help him was—whom do you think? His great-aunt, Miss Betsy Trotwood, who had left his mother's house the night he was born because he did not happen to be a girl. She was the only real relative he had in the world.
She lived, Peggotty had told him, in Dover, and that was seventy miles away; but the distance did not daunt him. So one day he put all his things into a box and hired a boy with a cart to take it to the coach office. But the boy robbed him of all the money he had (a gold piece Peggotty had sent him) and drove off with his box besides, and poor David, crying, set out afoot, without a penny, in the direction he thought Dover lay.
That evening he sold his waistcoat to a clothes-dealer for a few pennies, and when night came he slept on the ground, under the walls of Mr. Creakle's old school where he had known Steerforth and Tommy Traddles. The next day he offered his jacket for sale to a half-crazy old store-keeper, who took the coat but would not pay him at first, and David had to sit all day on the door-step before the other would give him the money.
The next four nights he slept under haystacks, greatly in fear of tramps, and at length, on the sixth day, ragged, sunburned, dusty and almost dead from weariness, he got to Dover.
He had to ask many people before he could find out where Miss Betsy Trotwood lived. It was outside the town, in a cottage with a little garden. Here she lived all alone, except for a simple-minded old man, whom she called Mr. Dick, who was a relative of hers, and who did nothing all day but fly big kites and write petitions to the king, which he began every morning and never finished. All the neighbors thought Miss Betsy Trotwood a most queer old woman, but those who knew her best knew that she had a very kind heart under her grim appearance.
When David reached the house Miss Betsy was digging at some flowers in the garden. All she saw was a ragged, dirty little boy, and she called out, without even turning her head: "Go away; no boys here!"
But David was so wretched that he went right in at the gate and went up behind her and said: "If you please, aunt, I'm your nephew."
His aunt was so startled at his looks and at what he said, that she sat down plump on the ground; and David, his misery getting all at once the better of him, sobbed out all the pitiful tale of his wrongs and sorrows since his mother had died.
Miss Betsy Trotwood's heart was touched. She seized David by the collar, led him into the house, made him drink something and then made him lie down on the sofa while she fed him hot broth. Then she had a warm bath prepared, and at last, very tired and comfortable, and wrapped up in a big shawl, David fell asleep on the sofa.
That night he was put to bed in a clean room, and before he slept he prayed that he might never be homeless and friendless again.
Good fortune was with David now. His aunt wrote to Mr. Murdstone, and he and his sister came, fully expecting to take the boy back with them, but, instead, Miss Betsy told Mr. Murdstone plainly that he was a stony-hearted hypocrite, who had broken his wife's heart and tortured her son, and she ordered him and his sister from the house. David was so delighted at this that he threw his arms around her neck and kissed her, and from that moment Miss Betsy Trotwood began to love him as if he had been her own son.
David loved her in return. He drove out with her and helped Mr. Dick fly his kites and was very grateful. And at length his aunt placed him in a school in Dover and found him pleasant lodgings there in the house of her lawyer, Mr. Wickfield.
It was a different sort of school from what his first had been. His teacher was a Doctor Strong, and the school-boys were not the frightened, ill-treated lot he had known at Mr. Creakle's house. He was happy there, but his happiest hours of all were those spent, after school was out, at Mr. Wickfield's. The lawyer had an only daughter, Agnes, just David's age, a sweet, gentle girl, who seemed to live for her father, and whom David came to consider before long almost as a sister.
One person connected with the lawyer's household whom he did not like so well was Uriah Heep. Heep was a high-shouldered, red-headed, bony young man, with no eyebrows or eyelashes, and with long skeleton fingers. He dressed all in black, and his hands were clammy and cold, like a fish, so that it chilled one to touch them. He never smiled—the nearest he could come to it was to make two creases down his cheeks. He was always cringing and pretending to be humble, but really he was a sneak and a scoundrel at heart. David detested him without knowing why, the more so when he came to see that Heep was gaining an influence over Agnes's father. All the while, too, Heep pretended to like David, though David knew very well he did not.
So time went on. David studied hard and was a favorite with both pupils and teachers. At length he was head boy himself, and at seventeen his school life was finished.
He parted regretfully from Doctor Strong and from Agnes, and after paying his aunt, Miss Betsy Trotwood, a visit, he started off to Yarmouth to see his old nurse, now the wife of Barkis, the driver, and just as fond of David as ever. On his way through London, as it happened, David met the old school-fellow whom he had so liked, James Steerforth, and, loath to part with him so quickly, he proposed that the latter accompany him to Yarmouth.
Steerforth agreed and they went together. They took dinner at Peggotty's and spent the first evening in the old house-boat, where Mr. Peggotty still lived with Ham and Mrs. Gummidge and little Em'ly, the latter now grown to be a lovely girl and engaged to marry Ham. They spent some weeks there, each amusing himself in his own way, and soon Steerforth was as popular as David had always been, for he sang beautifully and talked entertainingly, and all, from Mr. Peggotty to little Em'ly, thought they had never seen so brilliant and handsome a lad.
If David could have read the thoughts that were in Steerforth's mind he would have grieved that he had ever brought him to that peaceful, innocent spot. For Steerforth had changed since the old school-days when David had been so fond of him. He had learned wickedness, and now, while he was exerting himself in every way to make the Peggottys like and admire him, in his heart he was trying to fascinate little Em'ly and to steal her love that she had given to Ham, till she would leave her home and run away with him to a foreign country. This, however, David could not guess, nor could any of the others, who regretted when the two friends' visit was over.
Now that his school-days were finished David's aunt had planned for him to study law in an office in London, and accordingly David began his new life there, very near the street where he had once toiled, a wretched, friendless helper, in the dirty warehouse on the dock. He found Tommy Traddles, who had stood his friend at Mr. Creakle's school, studying now to be a lawyer also, and boarding, curiously enough, at the house of Mr. Micawber, who had drifted back to London, still as poor and as hopeful as ever and still "waiting for something to turn up."
In spite of these and all his new acquaintances, David was very lonely at first and missed Agnes, who all through his life at Doctor Strong's school had been his friend and adviser.
He saw her once when she was visiting in London, and then she had bad news to tell him; her father had been steadily failing in health and business, and little by little Uriah Heep, his red-headed clerk with the clammy hands, had got him and his affairs into his power and made himself a partner in the firm. David guessed that Heep had planned to entrap her father so as to compel Agnes herself to marry him, and this suspicion made David despise the clerk more and more. But he knew of no way to help.
All this time he often saw Steerforth, but never guessed how often the latter had been secretly to see little Em'ly or of the wicked part he was playing. But one day David heard that Barkis, Peggotty's husband (whose early courtship he himself had aided when he took her the message "Barkis is willin'") had died, and David went at once to Yarmouth to try to comfort his old nurse in her loss.
While he was there the blow came which caused such sorrow to all who lived in the old house-boat. Little Em'ly, the pride and joy of Mr. Peggotty's tender heart, ran away with Steerforth.
She left a letter, begging them to forgive her, especially her uncle, Mr. Peggotty—and bidding them all good-by. It broke Mr. Peggotty's heart, and Ham's, too. And David was scarcely less sorrowful. Because, for what he had done, Steerforth, whose friendship had been so much to him, could never be his friend again.
But nothing could change Mr. Peggotty's love for little Em'ly. He determined to start out and search throughout the world for her; and, meantime, Ham and Mrs. Gummidge were to stay there in the old home, to keep it looking just the same, with a lighted candle in the window every night, so that if little Em'ly by any chance came back it would be bright and warm to welcome her. Mr. Peggotty's parting words to David were:
"I'm a-going to seek her far and wide. If any hurt should come to me, remember that the last word I left for her was, 'My unchanged love is with my darling child, and I forgive her.'"
DAVID AND HIS CHILD-WIFE
Though Agnes always held a large place in his heart, David was very impressionable. In the next few years he thought himself in love a good many times, but when finally he met Dora Spenlow, the daughter of one of the members of the law firm with which he was studying, he knew that all his other love-affairs had been only fancies. Dora was blue-eyed, with cheeks like a pink sea-shell, and looked like a fairy. David fell head over ears in love with her the first time he ever saw her. He lost his appetite, and took to wearing tight gloves and shoes too small for him, and he used to put on his best clothes and walk around her house in the moonlight and do other extravagant things.
They found a good deal of trouble in their love-making, for Dora was under the care of none other than the terrible sister of Mr. Murdstone, who had made David so miserable in his childhood, but he and Dora used to meet sometimes, and they sent each other letters through one of Dora's girl friends. David, perhaps, would not have done this if he had thought he would have a fair chance to win Dora; but with his old enemy, Miss Murdstone, against him, he was afraid to tell her father of his love. But one day he told it to Dora, and she promised to marry him.
Good luck, however, never comes without a bit of bad luck. Soon after this David came home to his rooms one night to find his aunt, Miss Betsy Trotwood, there, with her trunk and Mr. Dick, kites and all. She told David she had no other place to go; that she had lost all of her money and was quite ruined.
This was misfortune indeed, for it seemed to put his hope of marrying Dora a great deal further away; but David faced the situation bravely and began at once to look for something to do outside of the law office to earn money enough to support them all.
In this trouble Agnes was his true friend. He had written her already of his love for Dora and she had advised him. Through her now he found employment as secretary to his old schoolmaster, Doctor Strong, who had given up the school at Dover and had moved to London. He told Dora, of course, all about his changed prospects, but Dora was like a little butterfly who knew only how to fly about among flowers; she hardly knew what poverty meant, and thought he was scolding when he told her.
David worked hard in the morning at Doctor Strong's, in the afternoons at the law office, and in the evenings he studied shorthand so he might come to be a newspaper reporter. And all this while he wrote to Dora every day.
It was one of these letters that at last betrayed their secret. Dora dropped it from her pocket and Miss Murdstone picked it up. She showed it to Dora's father and he sent at once for David and told him angrily that he could never marry his child and that he must not see Dora any more. And David went home disconsolate.
This might have ended their engagement for ever, but that same day Dora's father dropped dead of heart-disease. Instead of being rich he was found to have left no money at all, and Dora was taken to live with two aunts on the outskirts of London. David did not know what was best to do now, so he went to Dover to ask Agnes's advice.
He was shocked at the changes he found there. Her father looked ill and scarcely seemed himself. Uriah Heep, his new partner, with his ugly, fawning way and clammy hands, was living in their house and eating with them at their table. He had obtained more and more power over Mr. Wickfield and gloried in it. And the other seemed no longer to dare to oppose Uriah in anything.
But in spite of all this, Agnes talked bravely and cheerfully with David. Under her direction, he wrote a letter to Dora's aunts, declaring his love and asking permission to call, and they, pleased with his frankness, gave their permission. Before the year was out David began to earn money with his shorthand, reporting speeches in Parliament for a newspaper. He had discovered besides that he could write stories that the magazines were glad to buy. So one day David married Dora and they went to housekeeping in a tiny house of their own.
Life seemed very sweet to them both, though Dora, while she was the most loving little wife in the world, knew no more about housekeeping than a bird. The servants stole the silver spoons, and the storekeepers overcharged them, and the house was never tidy or comfortable. For a while David tried to make Dora learn these things, but when he chid her the tears would come, and she would throw her arms around his neck and sob that she was only his child-wife after all, and he would end by kissing her and telling her not to mind. She was most like a beautiful toy; and like a toy, she seemed made only to play with, just as she played with her dog Jip, instead of helping and encouraging David in his work.
But at length Dora fell ill—so ill that they knew she was too frail and weak to get well and strong again. David carried her down stairs every day, and every day the burden grew lighter. She never complained, but called him her poor, dear boy, and one day she whispered that she was only his child-wife and could never have been more, so that it was better as it was!
Agnes came, and was there when Dora died. But for her comfort all the world would have been blank for poor David as he sat alone, longing for the child-wife who could never be his again!
DAVID FINDS ALL WELL AT LAST
More than once during this life of David's with his child-wife he had seen Mr. Peggotty. The brave old man had searched Europe for little Em'ly in vain; then he had come back to London, feeling somehow that some day she would stray there. He used to walk the streets by night, looking at every face he passed. In the room where he lived he kept a candle always lighted and one of her dresses hanging on a chair for her.
After Dora's death David joined in the search, and at length they did find poor little Em'ly. Steerforth had treated her cruelly and finally deserted her, and she had crept back to London heartbroken and repentant, hoping for nothing but to die within sight of those who had loved her so.
But nothing had dimmed Mr. Peggotty's love. Wretched as she was, he caught her in his arms, held her to his breast as he had done so often when she was a child, and told her she was still his own little Em'ly, just as she had always been.
She was ill, but he nursed her back to health. Then he went to Yarmouth to fetch Mrs. Gummidge, and they and the little Em'ly that had been found took passage for Australia, where they might forget the dark past and find happiness in a new life.
But before they sailed fate had brought to naught the villainous plot that had been woven by Uriah Heep about Agnes and her father. And the one whom they had most to thank for this was Mr. Micawber.
Heep had met Mr. Micawber once, when the latter, as usual, was in money difficulties, and, thinking to make a tool of him, had hired him for his clerk. Little by little Heep had then got the other into his debt, till Mr. Micawber saw no prospect before him but the debtors' prison.
Threatening him with this, Heep tried to compel him to do various bits of dirty and dishonest work, at which the other's soul revolted until at length he made up his mind to expose his employer. So, pretending obedience, Mr. Micawber wormed himself into all of the sneaking Heep's affairs, found out the evidence of his guilt, and finally taking all the books and papers from the office safe, sent for David and his friend Tommy Traddles and told them all he had discovered. They found it was by forgery that Heep had got Agnes's father into his power in the first place, and that among others whom he had robbed was David's aunt, Miss Betsy Trotwood, whose fortune he had stolen.
David and Tommy Traddles sent for Miss Betsy and for Agnes and her father, and they faced Uriah all together. He tried to brazen it out, but when he saw the empty safe he knew that all was known. They told him the only way he could save himself from prison was by giving back the business to Agnes's father, just as it had been years before, when David had lived there, and by restoring to Miss Betsy Trotwood every cent he had robbed her of. This he did with no very good grace and with an especial curse for David, whom he seemed to blame for it all.
In reward for Mr. Micawber's good services, Miss Betsy and Agnes's father paid off all his debts and gave him money enough to take him and his family to Australia. They sailed in the same vessel that carried Mr. Peggotty and little Em'ly.
Before it sailed little Em'ly had written a letter to Ham, whose promised wife she had been before she ran away with Steerforth, begging his forgiveness, and this letter she had asked David to give him after they had gone. Accordingly one day he went to Yarmouth to do this.
That night a terrible storm arose. The wind was so strong that it uprooted trees and threw down chimneys and rolled waves mountain high on the sand where stood the old deserted house-boat of the Peggottys. Next morning David was awakened with the news that a Spanish ship had gone ashore and was fast going to pieces, and he ran to the beach, where all the town was gathered.
He could see the doomed vessel plainly where the surf broke over her. Her masts had snapped short off and at every wave she rolled and beat the sand as if she would pound herself to fragments. Several figures were clinging to the broken masts, and one by one the waves beat them off, and they went down for ever.
At length but one was left, and he held on so long that a shout of encouragement went up from the throng. At this Ham, the bravest and strongest of all the hardy boatmen there, tied a rope about his waist and plunged into the sea to try to save him. But it was not to be. The same huge wave that dashed the vessel to pieces threw the rescuer back on the sand, dead. The body of the man he had tried to save was washed ashore, too, and it was that of James Steerforth, who had so wronged little Em'ly!
So poor, great-souled Ham died, honest and faithful to the last, giving his life for the man who had injured him. And so, too, James Steerforth met his fate on the very spot where he had done such evil, for his corpse was found among the fragments of the old Peggotty house-boat, which the tempest tore down that night.
After this David went abroad and stayed three years. He lived in Switzerland, and wrote novels that were printed in London and made him famous there.
And now, alone, he had time to think of all that made up his past. He thought of Dora, his child-wife, and sorrowed for her, and of the Peggottys and little Em'ly; but most of all he found himself thinking of Agnes, who, throughout his youth, had seemed like his guiding star.
So one day he went back to England and told her, and asked her if she would marry him. And with her sweet face on his breast she whispered that she had loved him all her life!
David and Agnes lived long and happily, and their children had three guardians who loved them all—Miss Betsy Trotwood, David's old nurse, Peggotty, and white-haired Mr. Dick, who taught them to fly kites and thought them the greatest children in the world. Tommy Traddles, when he had become a famous lawyer, often visited them, and once, too, Mr. Peggotty, older, but still hale and strong, came back from Australia to tell them how he had prospered and grown rich, and had always his little Em'ly beside him, and how Mr. Micawber had ceased to owe everybody money and had become a magistrate, and many other things.
David had one thing, however, to tell Mr. Peggotty, and that was of a certain prisoner he had seen in one of the country's greatest prisons, sentenced for life for an attempt to rob the Bank of England, and whose name was—Uriah Heep.
Scene: London, Neighboring Towns and the Country
Time: 1830 to 1860
Philip Pirrip An orphan boy Known as "Pip"
Joe Gargery A blacksmith
"Mrs. Joe" His wife Pip's sister
Uncle Pumblechook Joe's pompous uncle
Wopsle Clerk of the village church Later, an actor
Orlick A workman of Joe's
Biddy A girl friend of Pip's and Mrs. Joe's nurse Later, Joe's wife
Abel Magwitch A convict
Miss Havisham An eccentric woman once disappointed in love
Estella Her ward In reality, Magwitch's daughter
Compeyson Miss Havisham's former suitor and deceiver A convict
Mr. Jaggers Lawyer for Miss Havisham and for Magwitch
Wemmick His clerk
Mr. Pocket Pip's tutor
Mrs. Pocket His wife
Herbert Pocket His son. Pip's comrade in London
PIP AND THE CONVICT
In England, in a lonely village not far from London, there once lived a little orphan boy named Philip Pirrip, whom everybody called, for short, "Pip." His parents had died when he was a baby, and he had been brought up by his older sister, the wife of Joe Gargery, a blacksmith whose forge looked out across wide marshes and a river that flowed through them.
Joe, the blacksmith, was a fair-faced man with flaxen whiskers and very bright blue eyes. He was a mild, honest, good-natured, sweet-tempered, easy-going, foolish, dear fellow, tender-hearted and kind to little Pip and yet a Hercules for strength.
Very different, indeed, was "Mrs. Joe," as everybody spoke of her. She was tall and bony and had black hair, a red skin and a continual habit of scolding. She may have loved Pip in her way, but that way was a very cross-grained one. She treated Joe, the big blacksmith, and Pip, the little boy, just alike, and they were both equally in dread of her. This made them quite like partners. Whenever Pip came into the house he used to look at Joe's fingers; if Joe crossed them that was a sign Mrs. Joe was cross and that Pip was to look out for himself.
Joe had an uncle named Pumblechook, who was a corn seller in the next town and a pompous old hypocrite. He had a way of standing Pip before him, rumpling up his hair and asking him hard questions out of the multiplication table. And whenever he told a story of any one who was ungrateful or wicked he would glower at Pip in a way that made him feel very uncomfortable.
Another who came as often and was almost as dismal to see was Wopsle, the clerk, who read the lesson in church every Sunday. He had an idea he would make a great actor and used to recite whole pages from Shakespeare when he could find any one to listen to him.
Worst of all was a workman of Joe's named Orlick. He was a loose-limbed, swarthy, slouching giant with a hangdog look. He used to tell Pip that the devil lived in a certain corner of the forge, and once in every seven years the fire had to be rekindled with a live boy. Orlick at heart disliked everybody—especially harmless little Pip—and often quarreled with Mrs. Joe.
Beside the blacksmith, the only one who understood Pip was a little girl named Biddy, about his own age and an orphan, too. She liked him and used to help him with his lessons at school.
But in spite of Joe and Biddy, Pip was sometimes so lonely and miserable that he would steal off alone to the village churchyard, where his father and mother lay buried, to cry.
One afternoon—it was the day before Christmas—Pip was more wretched than usual, and was sitting crying among the graves when suddenly a rough voice spoke behind him. "Keep still, you little imp!" it said, "or I'll cut your throat!" With the words a man rose up from behind a tombstone and seized him.
He was a fearful-looking man, dressed all in gray clothes, with a great iron band riveted on his leg. His shoes were torn, he had no hat and wore a ragged, dirty handkerchief tied around his head. He was soaked with water, caked with mud and limped and shivered as he walked. He set Pip on a tombstone and tilted him so far back that the church steeple seemed to turn a somersault, growling at him in a terrible voice.
Pip had never been so frightened in his life. With a trembling voice he begged his captor to spare him. The man asked him his name and where he lived, and told him he would let him go on one condition. He had to promise to come next morning at daybreak to a certain spot in the marshes and to bring a file and something to eat. And the man said if Pip did not do so, or if he told any one what he was going to do, he would catch him again and cut out his heart and eat it.
This terrible threat frightened poor little Pip more than ever. His voice shook so that he could hardly promise, and when the man set him down he ran home as fast as his legs would carry him.
The evening was a miserable one. Pip thought he would save his own supper for the man in case he should not be able to get into his sister's pantry, so instead of eating his bread and butter he slipped it down his trouser-leg.
Before long a great gun began to boom, and he asked Joe what it was. The blacksmith told him that in the river across the marshes were anchored some big hulks of ships, like wicked Noah's arks, where convicts were kept prisoners, and that the gun was a signal that some of these convicts had escaped. Then Pip knew the man he had promised to help was a criminal—perhaps a murderer—who had got away and was hiding from the soldiers.
All night he did not sleep. He hated to steal the food, but he felt certain he would be killed if he did not. So at dawn he slipped down stairs, got a file from the forge, unlocked the pantry, took some bread and cheese and a pork pie that Uncle Pumblechook had sent for Christmas dinner, and ran out through the foggy morning to the marshes.
He had not got quite there when he came on a man in gray, sitting on the ground, with an iron fetter on his leg. Pip thought he was the one he was in search of, but as soon as the other turned his face he saw by a bruise on the cheek that he was not. This second man in gray, as soon as he saw him, sprang to his feet and ran away.
Greatly wondering, Pip went on, and at the right spot he found the man who had frightened him in the graveyard. He seemed now to be almost starved, for he snatched the food and ate it like a hungry dog. He asked Pip if he had seen any one else on his way there, and Pip told him of the other man in gray who also wore an iron on his leg.
He asked Pip to describe the other, and when Pip told of the bruised cheek, the man he was feeding flew into a rage. He began to curse, and, seizing the file, set to filing like mad at his fetter. Pip could see that he hated the other convict, and was sorry he had escaped; but he had fulfilled his promise now, so he turned and ran home again, and the last thing he heard was the rasp of the file as the man worked madly at the iron.
Very guilty Pip felt all that Christmas morning. He went to church with Joe, and after service Uncle Pumblechook, Wopsle, the clerk, and other company came to dinner. He could not enjoy the good things to eat, for he knew now his sister must discover that the pork pie was gone. Just as she went to get it he got up from the table to run away, but as he opened the door he ran plump into a file of soldiers.
He was sure at first they had come to arrest him for helping the convict, but he was soon relieved, when the officer at their head explained that they were on their way to search the marshes for the escaped men and wanted the blacksmith to mend a broken handcuff.
In the flurry of their arrival the pork pie was forgotten, while Joe mended the handcuff in the forge. When the soldiers left, the blacksmith set Pip on his broad shoulder, and he and Wopsle went striding with them to see the result of the hunt.
It was sunset as the party entered the marshes, and the searchers opened out into a wide line. On a sudden all stopped, for a confused shouting had come from the distance. They ran toward it, cocking their guns, and Wopsle and Joe, with Pip on his shoulder, followed. The shouts became plainer and plainer. All at once they came to a ditch and in it the convict Pip had fed and the one with the bruised cheek were struggling fiercely together.
The soldiers seized and handcuffed them both, the man with the bruised cheek pale and trembling, the other boasting that he had dragged the man he hated back to captivity, even though it cost him his own freedom.
While the soldiers were preparing to take their prisoners back, Pip's convict saw the boy standing there with Joe. Pip hoped he would not think he had had anything to do with bringing the soldiers. He was pretty sure the man did not, because he presently told the officer, in every one's hearing, that the night before he had broken into a house where a blacksmith lived, near a church, and had stolen a pork pie. Joe heard this and so Pip knew that he himself would be clear of any blame.
The convicts were taken back to their cells and Joe and Pip went home to tell the company of their adventure. But neither then nor ever afterward did Pip find courage to tell Joe the part he had played; for Pip loved the honest blacksmith and did not want him to think him worse than he really was.
Time went on and Pip grew older and bigger, and though he never forgot the adventure of the churchyard, yet the memory of it grew dimmer. In the next few years only one thing happened to recall it to him.
One evening Mrs. Joe sent Pip to the village inn, The Three Jolly Bargemen, with a message. Pip found Joe there, sitting with a stranger—a secret-looking man, who held his head on one side and kept one eye perpetually shut as if he were taking aim with a gun. This man, when he heard Pip's name, looked at him with a curious wink, and when no one but Pip was looking he took out of his pocket, to stir his drink with, the very file Pip had stolen from Joe's forge.
Pip knew that minute that the man was a friend of the convict he had aided. When Pip left the inn the stranger called him back and gave him a shilling wrapped up in a piece of paper.
When he got home Mrs. Joe (who took the prize away from him) discovered that the piece of paper was in reality two bank-notes, and both Joe and she wondered at it. The blacksmith tried next day to find the stranger to restore the money, but he had left the inn.
So it always remained a mystery—to all but Pip of course, who knew in his heart that the convict had remembered his aid and had taken this means of repaying him.
THE QUEER MISS HAVISHAM
One day, when Pip was considerably older, Uncle Pumblechook brought Mrs. Joe word that a Miss Havisham, a lady who lived in his own town, had heard of Pip, and wanted him to come to her house to see her.
Miss Havisham was a very queer lady, indeed; so queer that some said she was crazy. But she was rich, and for this reason Mrs. Joe scrubbed Pip and dressed him in his best clothes and sent him off in care of Uncle Pumblechook, who took him as far as Miss Havisham's gate.
Miss Havisham, when a beautiful young lady, had been engaged to marry a man named Compeyson, whom she loved very much. He was a wicked, heartless villain, however, and had made her love him only that he might persuade her to give him great sums of money.
The marriage day finally was fixed, her wedding-clothes were bought, the house was decorated for the ceremony, the bride-cake was put on the table in the dining-room and the guests arrived. But Compeyson, the bridegroom, did not come.
Miss Havisham was dressing for the wedding when she received a cruel note from him telling her he did not intend to marry her. She had put on her white wedding gown and her lace veil and one of her satin slippers—the other lay on the dressing-table. It was exactly twenty minutes to nine o'clock when she read the note.
She fainted and afterward lay for a long time ill. When she recovered she laid the whole place waste. She never afterward let the light of day into the old mansion. The shutters were closed, candles were kept always lighted, and all the clocks in the house were stopped at exactly twenty minutes to nine o'clock. Not a thing in any room was changed. The bride-cake rotted on the table, the decorations faded on the walls, and day after day Miss Havisham sat in the dressing-room clad in her wedding gown and veil, with one slipper on, the dead flowers on her table and the trunks for her wedding journey scattered about half-packed. In time she became shrunken and old and the white satin and lace became faded yellow, but she never varied this habit of life.
Soon after her love disappointment she had written to her lawyer in London, who was named Jaggers, asking him to find a baby girl for her to adopt as her own. Now Mr. Jaggers had just defended in court a man named Abel Magwitch, the tool of Compeyson, who had broken Miss Havisham's heart. Compeyson had tempted Magwitch into passing some stolen money and they had both been arrested. At the trial Compeyson (sneak and liar as he was!) threw all the blame on his comrade, who was duller and less sharp than he, and as a consequence, while Compeyson got a light sentence, Magwitch, though really the more innocent of the two, had been sent to the prison-ship for a term of many years. These two men, by the way, were the pair who escaped from the hulks into the marshes. Magwitch was Pip's convict of the churchyard, and Compeyson was the one he had dragged back to capture. This Magwitch, at the time of his arrest, had a baby daughter, who had fallen into Mr. Jaggers's care, and in answer to Miss Havisham's request the lawyer had sent the little girl to her, telling her nothing whatever of the child's parentage.
Miss Havisham had named the child Estella, and, seeing she would be a very beautiful woman, had determined to bring her up heartless and cold, to ruin as many men's lives as possible, so as to avenge her own wrongs and broken heart.
So Estella had grown up in the dismal house, Miss Havisham's only companion. Day by day she became more lovely, and even while she was still a little girl, the same age as Pip, Miss Havisham was impatient to begin teaching her her lesson.
This was the reason Pip had received his invitation to Miss Havisham's house. Though he had no idea of it, he was intended only as practice for little Estella, who under Miss Havisham's teaching was growing up very fond of admiration and very cold-hearted, too.
Pip thought Miss Havisham the strangest lady he had ever seen, and the yellow satin, the candle-lighted rooms, and the stopped clocks seemed to him very odd. But Estella was so pretty that from the first moment he saw her he had no eyes for anything else. Even though she called him clumsy and common, and seemed to delight in hurting his feelings, Pip fell in love with her and could not help himself. Miss Havisham made them play together and told him to come again the next week.
Pip went home in very bad humor on account of all the hurts which Estella had given his feelings. Uncle Pumblechook, being very curious to know all about his trip, bullied and questioned him so (beginning as usual with the multiplication table) that Pip, perfectly frantic, told him the most impossible tales. He said Miss Havisham was in a black coach inside the house, and had cake and wine handed to her through the coach window on a golden plate, and that he and she played with flags and swords, while four dogs fought for veal cutlets out of a silver basket.
But when Uncle Pumblechook told Joe these wonders, Pip was remorseful. He went to the forge and confessed to Joe that he had been telling a falsehood, and promised he would never do so again.
This visit was the first of many that Pip paid to the gloomy house whose shutters were always closed. Next time he went he was taken into the chamber where the decayed wedding-cake sat on the table. The room was full of relatives of Miss Havisham (for it was her birthday), who spent their lives flattering and cringing, hoping when she died she would leave them some money.
After a time Pip went into the garden and there he met another relative in the person of a pale young gentleman about his own age, but larger, who promptly lowered his head, butted Pip in the stomach and invited him to fight. Pip was so sure nobody else's head belonged in the pit of his stomach that he obliged him at once, and as practice at the forge had made him tough, it was not many minutes before the pale young gentleman was lying on his back, looking up at him out of an exceedingly black eye and with a bleeding countenance.
When Estella let Pip out of the gate that day he guessed that she had seen the encounter and that somehow it had pleased her, for she gave him her cheek to kiss. Yet he knew that at heart she thought him only a coarse, common boy, fit to be treated rudely and insolently. This thought rankled more and more in him. He made up his mind to study and learn, and he got faithful little Biddy to teach him all she knew.
Pip saw no more of the pale young gentleman, though for almost a year he went to Miss Havisham's every other day. Each time he saw Estella and found himself loving her more and more. But she was always unkind, and often, when she had been ruder than usual, he saw that Miss Havisham seemed to take delight in his mortification. Sometimes she would fondle Estella's hand, and he would hear her say:
"That's right! Break their hearts, my pride and hope! Break their hearts and have no mercy!"
One day Miss Havisham sent for Joe, the blacksmith, and gave him a bag of money, telling him that he was not to send Pip to her any more, but that he should put him to work and teach him the trade of blacksmithing. So Uncle Pumblechook took Pip to town that very day and had him bound to Joe as an apprentice.
This was just what Pip had once looked forward to with pleasure. But now it made him wretched. Through Estella's jeers he had come to feel that blacksmithing was common and low. As he helped Joe to blow the forge fire, he thought constantly of Estella's looks of disdain, yet in spite of all he longed to see her.
On his first half-holiday he went to call on Miss Havisham. But there was no Estella. Miss Havisham told him she had sent her abroad to be educated as a lady, and when the miserable tears sprang to Pip's eyes, she laughed.
When he got home he confided in Biddy. He told her how he loved Estella, and that he wanted more than anything else in the world to be a gentleman. Meanwhile he began to study hard in any spare time he had, and Biddy helped him all she could.
Pip might have fallen in love with Biddy if he had not had Estella always in his mind. Orlick, Joe's helper, indeed, thought he had done so, and it made him hate Pip more than ever, for he was in love with Biddy himself. He grew morose and quarrelsome and spoke so roughly to Mrs. Joe one day that she was not satisfied till the blacksmith took off his singed apron and knocked the surly Orlick flat in the coal dust.
This was a costly revenge for Mrs. Joe, however. Orlick never forgave it, and a few nights after, when no one was at home but herself he crept in behind her in the kitchen and struck her a terrible blow on the head with a piece of iron.
Hours afterward Joe found her lying senseless, and though she lived to recover a part of her senses, she never scolded or spoke again. She grew well enough at last to sit all day in her chair, but was so helpless that Biddy came to the house to be her nurse. It chanced that a prisoner had escaped from the prison-boats on the night Mrs. Joe was injured, and he was thought to be the one who attacked her. But Pip suspected Orlick all the while.
So time went on. Once a year, on his birthday, Pip went to see Miss Havisham, but he never saw Estella there. And nothing else of particular importance occurred till he had been for four years Joe's apprentice.
One night, as Pip sat with Joe before the fire in The Three Jolly Bargemen, they were called out by a gentleman whom Pip remembered to have seen once at Miss Havisham's. It was, as a matter of fact, Mr. Jaggers, her lawyer, who had sent Estella to her as a baby.
The lawyer walked home with them, for he had a wonderful piece of news to relate. It was that an unknown benefactor, whose name he was not permitted to tell, intended when he died to leave Pip a fortune. In the meantime he wished to have him educated to become a gentleman, and as a lad of Great Expectations, and, the better to accomplish this, he wished Pip to go without delay to London.
This great good fortune seemed so marvelous that Pip could hardly believe it. He had never imagined Miss Havisham intended to befriend him, but now he guessed at once that she was this unknown benefactor. And he jumped next to another conclusion even more splendid—that she intended him sometime to marry Estella and was even then educating her for him. Pip went home almost in a dream, too full of his own prospects to see how sad Biddy was beneath her gladness for him, or how sorrowful the good news made Joe.
That night Estella's face came before him, more full of disdain than ever. As he thought of her and of the fine gentleman he was to be, the humble kitchen and forge seemed to grow commoner and meaner by contrast. He began to become a little spoiled and disdainful himself.
The news soon spread about, and every one who had looked down upon Pip now gave him smiles and flattery. Uncle Pumblechook wept on his shoulder and (instead of telling him, as usual, that he was sure to come to a bad end) reminded him that he had always been his favorite.
Mr. Jaggers had given Pip a generous amount of money to buy new clothes with, and these tended to make him more spoiled than ever. He began to feel condescending toward Biddy, and found himself wondering whether, when he should be rich and educated, Joe's manners would not make him blush if they should meet.
And even when the day came for him to bid them good-by and he climbed aboard the coach for London, he thought more of these things and his own good luck than of the home he was parting from for ever, or of the true and loving hearts he was leaving behind him.
This was an ignoble beginning for Pip and one that he came afterward to remember with shame!
PIP DISCOVERS HIS BENEFACTOR
Mr. Jaggers, the lawyer in whose care Pip found himself in London, was sharp and secret, and was so feared by criminals that they would never go near his house, though he never locked his door, even at night.
He had a crusty clerk named Wemmick, as secret as he and a deal queerer. Wemmick lived in a little wooden cottage that he called The Castle, and which had its top cut out like a fort. It had a ditch all around it with a plank drawbridge. When he got home from the office in the evening he pulled up the drawbridge and ran up a flag on a flagstaff planted there. And exactly at nine every night he fired off a brass cannon that he kept in a latticework fortress beside it.
Wemmick was the first one Pip met in London, and the clerk took him to the rooms where Mr. Jaggers had arranged for Pip to live, with the son of a gentleman who was to be his teacher. This gentleman was a Mr. Pocket, a relative (as Pip discovered) of Miss Havisham, which fact made him all the more certain that she was his unknown friend. Mr. Pocket's son was named Herbert, and the minute he and Pip first saw each other they burst out laughing. For Herbert was none other than the pale young gentleman who, years before in Miss Havisham's garden, Pip had last seen looking up at him out of a very black eye.
They were excellent friends from that hour. They occupied the rooms together when they were in London, and Pip also had a room of his own at Mr. Pocket's house in the country.
Mr. Pocket was a helpless scholarly man who depended on Mrs. Pocket to manage everything, and she depended on the servants. There were seven little Pockets of various ages tumbling about the house, and Mrs. Pocket's only idea of management seemed to be to send them all to bed when any one of them was troublesome. At such times Mr. Pocket would groan, put his hands in his hair, lift himself several inches out of his chair and then let himself down again.
In spite of his oddities, however, Mr. Pocket was an excellent teacher, and Pip in some ways made progress. But his Great Expectations taught him bad habits. He found it so easy to spend money that he soon overstepped the allowance Mr. Jaggers had told him was his, and not only had got into debt himself, but had led Herbert, who was far poorer, into debt also.
Joe came to see him only once, and then Pip's spoiled eyes overlooked his true, rugged manliness and noted more clearly his awkward manners and halting speech. Joe was quick to see this difference in the Pip he had known and he did not stay long—only long enough to leave a message from Miss Havisham: that Estella had returned from abroad and would be glad to see him if he came.
Pip lost no time in making this visit, and started the very next day. The old house looked just the same, but a new servant opened the gate for him: it was Orlick, as low-browed and sullen and surly as ever, and Pip saw at the first glance that his old hatred was still smoldering.
Miss Havisham was in her room, dressed in the same worn wedding dress, and beside her, with diamonds on her neck and hair, sat Estella. Pip hardly knew her, she had grown so beautiful. But she was proud and wilful as of old, and though he felt the old love growing stronger every moment, he felt no nearer to her than in those past wretched days of his boyhood. Before he left, Miss Havisham asked him eagerly if Estella was not more lovely, and, as he sat by her alone, she drew his head close to her lips and whispered fiercely:
"Love her, love her, love her! If she favors you, love her! If she tears your heart to pieces, love her, love her, love her!"
Though this visit took him so near the old forge, Pip did not go to see Joe and Biddy. Indeed, only once in the months that followed did he see them—when he went to attend the funeral of Mrs. Joe.
After that he had no need to leave the city to see Estella, for Miss Havisham soon sent her to live in London. From there she required her to write letters weekly, telling how many men she had fascinated and made wretched. Pip saw her constantly and tortured himself with the growing belief that Miss Havisham's training (the purpose of which he had begun to guess) was really succeeding in crushing her heart, and was leaving her with no power to love any one.
Thus, between hope and despair, Pip became of age. Mr. Jaggers now told him that a certain large sum was his to spend each year. He was deeply in debt and a great part of his first year's portion went to pay his creditors. But with the remainder he did a good and unselfish deed: he bought secretly a share in a good business for Herbert, so that his comrade became a partner in it.
A great blow was now to fall upon Pip without warning—something that changed the whole course of his life. One rainy night, when Herbert was away from London, as he sat alone in their rooms, a heavy step stumbled up the stair and a man entered. He was coarse and rough-looking and tanned with exposure, with a furrowed bald head, tufted at the sides with gray hair.
There was something strangely familiar to Pip in his face, but at first he did not recognize him. Seeing this, the stranger threw down his hat, twisted a handkerchief around his head, took a file from his pocket and walked across the room with a curious shivering gait that brought back to Pip's mind, like a lightning flash, the scene in the churchyard so many years ago, when he had sat perched on a tombstone looking in terror at that same man's face. And he knew all at once that the man was the escaped convict of that day!
It was a strange tale the new-comer told then, one that Pip's heart sank to hear. Miss Havisham had not been his benefactor after all. The one whose money had educated him, had set him there in London to live the life of a gentleman, the one to whom he was indebted for every penny he owned, was Abel Magwitch, a criminal—the convict for whom he had once stolen food years before!
Pip sank into a chair trembling as Magwitch, in a hoarse voice, told his story. He told how the man Compeyson had led him into crime and then deserted him. How he had hated the other so fiercely that after they both had escaped from the prison-hulks he had dragged Compeyson back to imprisonment even at the loss of his own liberty. How for that attempt to escape he had been sentenced to transportation for life, and had been sent to Botany Bay in Australia, where in time he became in a measure free, though forbidden under penalty of death to return to England. How he had never forgotten the little Pip who had tried to aid him, and how he had sworn that he would repay him many times over. How he had taken to sheep-raising and prospered, and became a rich man. How he had written to Mr. Jaggers, the lawyer who had defended him, and paid him to find Pip and educate him. And how at last he had dared even the death penalty to come to England to see how he fared.
His voice shook as he told how he had slaved through all the years, looking forward only to this moment when he should come back to see the little Pip whom he had made into a gentleman.
Poor Pip! It was an end to all his dreams of Miss Havisham and of Estella. He shrank from Magwitch, horrified at the bare thought of what he owed to him. He forced himself to utter some trembling words and set food before the convict, watching him as he ate like a ravenous old dog. His heart was like lead, all his plans knocked askew. Even while he pitied the old man, he shrank from him as if from a wild beast, with all his childish dread increased a hundredfold.
At length Pip put Magwitch in Herbert's room to sleep, but all that night he himself lay tossing and sleepless, staring into the darkness and listening to the rain outside.
PIP COMES TO HIMSELF
The days that followed were one long agony to Pip. When Herbert returned he told him the whole story. Herbert was shocked and surprised, but he was true to his friendship and together they planned what to do.
It was clear to Pip that he could not spend any more of Magwitch's money; indeed, recoiling from him as he did, he would gladly have repaid every penny if it had been possible. To make the matter worse, it seemed that Magwitch had brought a great deal of money with him and was determined that Pip should move into a fashionable house, buy fast horses, keep servants and live most expensively.
Pip hesitated to tell Magwitch his decision, however, for what the convict now planned showed how much he had thought of him and loved him in his rough way during all his years in Australia.
Meanwhile he and Herbert kept Magwitch hidden as much as possible, and gave out that the old man was Pip's uncle, on a visit from the country.
Unluckily, however, Magwitch's presence in London had been seen. He had been recognized in the street and followed to Pip's rooms. And the man who saw him was his bitterest enemy—Compeyson, the breaker of Miss Havisham's heart, who had first made Magwitch a criminal, and whom the convict so hated. Compeyson had served out his term, and was now free. He saw his chance to pay the old grudge with Magwitch's life. In order, however, to make sure of his capture he decided to entice Pip away and bring the police upon Magwitch when he would have no one to warn him.
Meanwhile, unconscious of this plot, Pip made a last visit to Miss Havisham. He felt now that he was again poor and without prospects, and with small hope of winning Estella.
But finding her there, in Miss Havisham's presence, he told her how dearly he had always loved her since the first day they had met. She seemed moved by his distress, but her heart had not yet awakened. She told him that she was about to marry one whom he knew for a coarse, brutal man, in every way beneath her. And then Pip knew for certain that Miss Havisham's bitter teaching had borne its fruit at last, and that Estella was to marry this man, not because she loved him, but merely as a final stab to all the other worthier ones.
In spite of her years of self-torture and revengeful thoughts, Miss Havisham had still a spark of real pity. As Pip reminded her of the wreck she had made of him, through Estella, and through allowing him falsely to believe her his benefactor, his agony struck her with remorse. She put her hand to her heart as he ended, and as he left them he saw through his own tears her hand still pressed to her side and her faded face ghastly in the candlelight.
Sick with despair, Pip went back to London, to learn from Wemmick, Mr. Jaggers's friendly clerk, that the rooms were being watched, and that he and Herbert (who in the absence of Pip had confided in him) had removed Magwitch to another lodging—a room overlooking the river, from which it would be easier, if worst came to worst, to get him on a ship and so out of the country.
To do this it was necessary to wait for a favorable chance. So Pip, providing for Magwitch's comfort meantime, bought a boat, and he and Herbert rowed daily up and down the river, so that when the time came to row the convict to some sea-going ship they would know the turns of the stream.
Pip soon learned that Compeyson was their spy. Wopsle, who in Pip's boyhood had been the clerk in the village church, had turned actor (he made, to be sure, a very poor one!), and was now playing in London. In the theater one night he recognized in the audience the pale-faced convict whom he had once, with Joe, the blacksmith, and little Pip, seen dragged back to capture by his more powerful fellow. Pip had long ago learned from Magwitch that this man was Compeyson, and when Wopsle said he had seen him sitting directly back of Pip at the play, the latter realized that they had this bitter enemy to reckon with, and that Magwitch was in terrible danger.