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new occasion as a new chance of helping in the
discovery of the assailant.

The Constables, and the Bow-street men from
Londonfor this happened in the days of the
extinct red waistcoated policewere about the
house for a week or two, and did pretty much
what I have heard and read of like authorities
doing in other such cases. They took up several
obviously wrong people, and they ran their heads
very hard against wrong ideas, and persisted in
trying to fit the circumstances to the ideas,
instead of trying to extract ideas from the
circumstances. Also, they stood about the door of the
Jolly Bargemen, with knowing and reserved
looks that filled the whole neighbourhood with
admiration; and they had a mysterious manner of
taking their drink, that was almost as good as
taking the culprit. But not quite, for they
never did it.

Long after these constitutional powers had
dispersed, my sister lay very ill in bed. Her
sight was disturbed, so that she saw objects
multiplied, and grasped at visionary teacups
and wine-glasses instead of the realities; her
hearing was greatly impaired; her memory
also; and her speech was unintelligible. When,
at last, she came round so far as to be helped
down stairs, it was still necessary to keep my
slate always by her, that she might indicate in
writing what she could not indicate in speech.
As she was (very bad handwriting apart) a more
than indifferent speller, and as Joe was a more
than indifferent reader, extraordinary complications
arose between them, which I was always
called into solve.The administration of mutton
instead of medicine, the substitution of Tea for
Joe, and the baker for bacon, were among the
mildest of my own mistakes.

However, her temper was greatly improved,
and she was patient. A tremulous uncertainty
of the action of all her limbs soon became a part
of her regular state, and afterwards, at intervals
of two or three months, she would often put her
hands to her head and would then remain for
about a week at a time in some gloomy aberration
of mind, We were at a loss to find a suitable
attendant for her, until a circumstance
happened conveniently to relieve us. Mr. Wopsle's
great-aunt conquered a confirmed habit of living
into which she had fallen, and Biddy became a
part of our establishment.

It may have been about a month after my
sister's reappearance in the kitchen, when Biddy
came to us with a small speckled box containing
the whole of her worldly effects, and became
a blessing to the household. Above all, she was
a blessing to Joe, for the dear old fellow was
sadly cut up by the constant contemplation of
the wreck of his wife, and had been accustomed,
while attending on her of an evening, to turn
to me every now and then and say, with his blue
eyes moistened, "Such a fine figure of a woman
as she once were, Pip!" Biddy instantly taking
the cleverest charge of her as though she had
studied her from infancy, Joe became able in
some sort to appreciate the greater quiet of his
life, and to get down to the Jolly Bargemen
now and then for a change that did him good.
It was characteristic of the police people that
they had all more or less suspected poor Joe
(though he never knew it), and that they had
to a man concurred in regarding him as one of
the deepest spirits they had ever encountered.

Biddy's first triumph in her new office, was to
solve a difficulty that had completely vanquished
me. I had tried hard at it, but had made
nothing of it. Thus it was:

Again and again and again, my sister had
traced upon the slate a character that looked
like a curious T, and then with the utmost
eagerness had called our attention to it as
something she particularly wanted. I had in
vain tried everything producible that began
with a T, from tar to toast and tub. At length
it had come into my head that the sign looked
like a hammer, and on my lustily calling that
word in my sister's ear, she had begun to
hammer on the table and had expressed a
qualified assent. Thereupon, I had brought in all
our hammers, one after another, but without
avail. Then I bethought me of a crutch, the
shape being much the same, and I borrowed
one in the village, and displayed it to my sister
with considerable confidence. But she shook
her head to that extent when she was shown it,
that we were terrified lest in her weak and
shattered state she should dislocate her neck.

When my sister found that Biddy was very
quick to understand her, this mysterious sign
reappeared on the slate. Biddy looked thoughtfully
at it, heard my explanation, looked thoughtfully
at my sister, looked thoughtfully at Joe
(who was always represented on the slate by
his initial letter), and ran into the forge,
followed by Joe and me.

"Why, of course!" cried Biddy, with an
exultant, face. "Don't you see? It's him!"

Orlick, without a doubt! She had lost his
name, and could only signify him by his hammer.
We told him why we wanted him to come
into the kitchen, and he slowly laid down his
hammer, wiped his brow with his arm, took
another wipe at it with his apron, and came
slouching out, with a curious loose vagabond
bend in the knees that strongly distinguished

I confess that I expected to see my sister
denounce him, and that I was disappointed by
the different result. She manifested the greatest
anxiety to be on good terms with him, was
evidently much pleased by his being at length
produced, and motioned that she would have
him given something to drink. She watched
his countenance as if she were particularly
wishful to be assured that he took kindly to his
reception, she showed every possible desire to
conciliate him, and there was an air of humble
propitiation in all she did, such as I have seen
pervade the bearing of a child towards a hard
master. After that day, a day rarely passed
without her drawing the hammer on her slate,
and without Orlick's slouching in and standing
doggedly before her, as if he knew no more than
I did what to make of it.