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7  Pip arrives in London

 

At that time everybody in England agreed that London was a wonderful citySo I was surprised to find it rather ugly with narrow dirty streets and people crowded into tiny houses I was frightened by its huge size At Smithfield the meat market I was shocked by the dirt and blood everywhere Then I came to Newgate Prison where a drunk old man showed me the place where prisoners were hangedand told me excitedly that four men would die there tomorrow I was disgusted by this newsMy first impression of London could not have been worse

However I managed to find Mr Jaggers office noticing that other people were waiting for the great man too After some time he appeared walking towards me His clients all rushed at him together He spoke to some and pushed others awayOne man held on to the lawyer's sleeve

Please Mr Jaggers,’he begged,‘my brother is accused of stealing silver Only you can save him I'm ready to pay anything!’

Your brother?’repeated the lawyer.‘And the trial is tomorrow WellI'm sorry for you and himI'm on the other side.’

NoMr Jaggers!’ cried the man desperately tears in his eyes.‘Don't say you're against himI'll pay anything!’

Get out of my way,’said Mr Jaggers and we left the man on his knees on the pavement

Now Mr Jaggers turned to me and told me that on Monday I would go to Matthew Pocket's house to start my studies but until then I would stay with his son Herbert who lived near-by

Wemmick Mr Jaggers clerkshowed me the way to Mr Pocket's roomsHe was a short dry man with a square expressionless facebetween forty and fifty years old His mouth was so wide that it looked like a post-boxand gave the impression of smiling all the time

Is London a very wicked place?’I asked him trying to make conversation as we walked

You may be robbed or murdered in London But that may happen to you anywhere if there is any profit in it for the criminal.’

I was not sure whether I looked forward to living in London where people like Wemmick accepted crime so calmly

We arrived at Herbert Pocket's rented rooms The building was the dirtiest I had ever seen with broken windows and dusty doorsIt stood in a little square with dying trees around itI looked in horror at Mr Wemmick

Ah!’ he saidnot understanding my look.‘Its quiet position makes you think of the countryI quite agreeGoodbyeMr Pip.’

I went up the stairs where there was a note on Mr Pocket's door saying Returning soon.’His idea of soonwas not the same as mine About half an hour later I heard footsteps rushing upstairs and a young man of my age appeared breath-less at the door.‘Mr Pip?’he said.‘I'm so sorry I'm late!’

I greeted him in a confused manner unable to believe my eyes Suddenly he looked closely at me and gasped

But you're the boy at Miss Havisham's!’

And you,’ I said,‘are the pale young gentleman!’

We both started laughing and shook hands

Well!’ he said,‘I hope you'll forgive me for having knocked you down that day.’In fact I had knocked him down But I did not contradict him

Do you know why I was there?’ he asked.‘I had been invited to Miss Havisham's to see if she liked meI suppose I didn't make a good impression on herIf she had liked meI could be a rich man and engaged to Estella by now.’

Were you disappointed?’I asked

OhI wouldn't want to marry EstellaShe's a hardproud girl and Miss Havisham has brought her up to break men's hearts as a revenge on all men.’

Is she a relation of Miss Havisham's?’I asked

Noonly adopted Why were you at Miss Havisham's then?’

To make my fortune the same as you But I was lucky.’

You know Mr Jaggers is Miss Havisham's lawyerIt was kind of him to suggest that my father should teach you My father is Miss Havisham's cousin you know.’

Herbert Pocket made an excellent impression on me He always spoke openly and honestlyThere was nothing secret or mean in his character and we soon became good friends I told him of my past life in the village and my expectations

Call me Herbert,’ he said.‘Would you mind my calling you Handel There's a wonderful piece of music by Handelcalled The Blacksmith which reminds me of you.’ Of course I agreed and as we sat down to dinner Herbert told me Miss Havisham's sad story

Her mother died young Her father was very rich and very proud with only one child Miss Havisham by his first wifeThen he married his cook and had a son by herThis son a half-brother to Miss Havisham was a bad character and didn't inherit as much from his father as Miss Havisham didAnd so perhaps he was angry with her for influencing her father against him

Anywaya certain man appeared and pretended he was in love with Miss Havisham She was certainly in love with himand gave him whatever money he asked for My father was the only one of her relations who dared to tell her that this man should not be trusted She was so angry that she ordered my father straight out of the house and he has never seen her since Her other relations were not interested in her happiness but only in inheriting her wealth so they said nothing The couple fixed the wedding day the guests were invited the dress and the cake were brought to the house The day camebut the man did not He wrote a letter—’

Which she received at twenty to nine when she was dressing for her wedding?’ I said

Yesso she stopped the clocks at that momentShe was very ill for a while and since then has not seen daylight People think that her halfbrother sent the man to get money from her and that he shared the profits Perhaps he hated her for inheriting most of the Havisham fortune Nobody knows what happened to the two men So now you know as much as I do!’

We talked of other thingsI asked Herbert what his profession was

Ohworking in the City,’ he said happily.‘Insuring shipsThere's a lot of money in that you know Huge profits!’

I began to think that Herbert must have greater expectations than I had

Where are your ships at the moment?’ I asked admiringly

Oh I haven't started yetI'm working in a counting-house just now They don't pay me much but I'm looking about me for a good opportunity Then I'll make my fortune!’

Looking around the room at the old worn furnitureI realized that Herbert must be very poorAnd although he seemed full of hope for the future somehow I thought he would never be very rich or successful

He and I spent a happy weekend visiting London togetherAlthough it was all very exciting I could not avoid noticing the dirt and bad smells and heat and I compared it sadly with my village home which now seemed so far away

 


 

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