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I NOW fell into a regular routine of
apprenticeship-life, which was varied, beyond the limits
of the village and the marshes, by no more
remarkable circumstance than the arrival of my
birthday and my paying another visit to Miss
Havisham. I found Miss Sarah Pocket still on
duty at the gate, I found Miss Havisham just
as I had left her, and she spoke of Estella in
the very same way, if not in the very same
words. The interview lasted but a few minutes,
and she gave me a guinea when I was going,
and told me to come again on my next birthday.
I may mention at once that this became an
annual custom. I tried to decline taking the
guinea on the first occasion, but with no better
effect than causing her to ask me very angrily,
if I expected more? Then, and after that, I
took it.

So unchanging was the dull old house, the
yellow light in the darkened room, the faded
spectre in the chair by the dressing-table glass,
that I felt as if the stopping of the clocks had
stopped Time in that mysterious place, and,
while I and everything else outside it grew
older, it stood still. Daylight never entered
the house as to my thoughts and remembrances
of it, any more than as to the actual fact. It
bewildered me, and under its influence I
continued at heart to hate my trade and to be
ashamed of home.

Imperceptibly I became conscious of a change
in Biddy, however. Her shoes came up at the
heel, her hair grew bright and neat, her hands
were always clean. She was not beautiful
she was common, and could not be like Estella
but she was pleasant and wholesome and
sweet-tempered. She had not been with us
more than a year (I remember her being newly
out of mourning at the time it struck me), when
I observed to myself one evening that she had
curiously thoughtful and attentive eyes; eyes
that were very pretty and very good.

It came of my lifting up my own eyes from
a task I was poring atwriting some
passages from a book, to improve myself in two
ways at once by a sort of stratagemand seeing
Biddy observant of what I was about. I laid
down my pen, and Biddy stopped in her needlework
without laying it, down.

"Biddy," said I, "how do you manage it?
Either I am very stupid, or you are very clever."

"What is it that I manage? I don't know,"
returned Biddy, smiling.

She managed our whole domestic life, and
wonderfully too; but I did not mean that,
though that made what I did mean more

"How do you manage, Biddy," said I, "to
learn everything that I learn, and always to keep
up with me?" I was beginning to be rather
vain of my knowledge, for I spent my birthday
guineas on it, and set aside the greater part of
my pocket-money for similar investment; though
I have doubt, now, that the little I knew
was extremely dear at the price.

"I might as well ask you," said Biddy, "how
you manage?"

"No; because when I come in from the forge
of a night, any one can see me turning to at it.
But you never turn to at it, Biddy."

"I suppose I must catch itlike a cough,"
said Biddy, quietly; and went on with her

Pursuing my idea as I leaned back in my
wooden chair and looked at Biddy sewing away
with her head on one side, I began to think her
rather an extraordinary girl. For, I called to
mind now, that she was equally accomplished
in the terms of our trade and the names of our
different sorts of work, and our various tools.
In short, whatever I knew, Biddy knew.
Theoretically, she was already as good a blacksmith
as I, or better.

"You are one of those, Biddy," said I, "who
make the most of every chance. You never had
a chance before you came here, and see how
improved you are!"

Biddy looked at me for an instant, and went
on with her sewing. "I was your first teacher
though; wasn't I?" said she, as she sewed.

"Biddy!" I exclaimed, in amazement. "Why,
you are crying!"

"No I am not," said Biddy, looking up and
laughing. "What put that in your head?"

What could have put it in my head, but the
glistening of a tear as it dropped on her work? I
sat silent, recalling what a drudge she had been
until Mr. Wopsle's great-aunt successfully overcame
that bad habit of living, so highly desirable
to be got rid of by some people. I recalled the
hopeless circumstances by which she had been
surrounded in the miserable little shop and the
miserable little noisy evening school, with that
miserable old bundle of incompetence always to
be dragged and shouldered. I reflected that
even in those untoward times there must have
been latent in Biddy what was now developing,
for, in my first uneasiness and discontent I had
turned to her for help, as a matter of course.
Biddy sat quietly sewing, shedding no more
tears, and while I looked at her and thought
about it all, it occurred to me that perhaps I
had not been sufficiently grateful to Biddy,
I might have been too reserved, and should
have patronised her more (though I did not use
that precise word in my meditations), with my

"Yes, Biddy," I observed, when I had done
turning it over, "you were my first teacher, and
that at a time when we little thought of ever
being together like this, in this kitchen."

"Ah, poor thing!" replied Biddy. It was
like her self-forgetfulness, to transfer the remark
to my sister, and to get up and be busy about
her, making her more comfortable; ''that's
sadly true!"

""Well!" said I, "we must talk together a
little more, as we used to do. And I must
consult you a little more, as I used to do. Let us
have a quiet walk on the marshes next Sunday
Biddy, and a long chat."

My sister was never left alone now; but Joe