BY CHARLES DICKENS.
BETIMES in the morning I was up and out. It
was too early yet to go to Miss Havisham's,
so I loitered into the country on Miss
Havisham's side of town—which was not Joe's side;
I could go there to-morrow—thinking about my
patroness, and painting brilliant pictures of her
plans for me.
She had adopted Estella, she had as good as
adopted me, and it could not fail to be her
intention to bring us together. She reserved it
for me to restore the desolate house, admit the
sunshine into the dark rooms, set the clocks
a-going and the cold hearths a blazing, tear
down the cobwebs, destroy the vermin—in short,
do all the shining deeds of the young Knight of
romance, and marry the Princess. I had stopped
to look at the house as I passed; and its seared
red brick walls, blocked windows, and strong
green ivy clasping even the stacks of chimneys
with its twigs and tendons, as if with sinewy
old arms, had made up a rich attractive mystery,
of which I was the hero. Estella was the
inspiration of it, and the heart of it, of course.
But, though she had taken such strong possession
of me, though my fancy and my hope were so set
upon her, though her influence on my boyish
life and character had been all-powerful, I did
not, even that romantic morning, invest her
with any attributes save those she possessed.
I mention this in this place, of a fixed
purpose, because it is the clue by which I am
to be followed into my poor labyrinth.
According to my experience, the conventional
notion of a lover cannot be always true. The
unqualified truth is, that when I loved
Estella with the love of a man, I loved her
because I found her irresistible. Once for all; I
knew to my sorrow, often and often, if not
always, that I loved her against reason, against
promise, against peace, against hope, against
happiness, against all discouragement that could
be. Once for all; I loved her none the less
because I knew it, and it had no more influence
in restraining me, than if I had devoutly
believed her to be human perfection.
I so shaped out my walk as to arrive at the
gate at my old time. When I had rung at the
bell with an unsteady hand, I turned my back
upon the gate, while I tried to get my breath
and keep the beating of my heart moderately
quiet. I heard the side door open and steps
come across the court-yard; but I pretended not
to hear, even when the gate swung on its rusty
Being at last touched on the shoulder, I
started and turned. I started much more
naturally then, to find myself confronted by a
man in a sober grey dress. The last man I
should have expected to see in that place of
porter at Miss Havisham's door.
"Ah, young master, there's more changes
than yours. But come in, come in. It's
opposed to my orders to hold the gate open."
I entered and he swung it, and locked it, and
took the key out. "Yes!" said he, facing round,
after doggedly preceding me a few steps towards
the house. "Here I am!"
"How did you come here?"
"I come here," he retorted, "on my legs. I
had my box brought alongside me in a barrow."
"Are you here for good?"
"I ain't here for harm, young master, I
I was not so sure of that. I had leisure to
entertain the retort in my mind, while he slowly
lifted his heavy glance from the pavement, up
my legs and arms, to my face.
"Then you have left the forge?" I said.
"Do this look like a forge?" replied Orlick,
sending his glance all round him with an air of
injury. "Now, do it look like it?"
I asked him how long he had left Gargery's
"One day is so like another here," he replied,
"that I don't know without casting it up.
However, I come here some time since you
"I could have told you that, Orlick."
"Ah!" said he, dryly. "But then you've got
to be a scholar."
By this time we had come to the house, where
I found his room to be one just within the side
door, with a little window in it looking on the
court-yard. In its small proportions, it was not
unlike the kind of place usually assigned to a
porter in Paris. Certain keys were hanging
on the wall, to which he now added the gate
key; and his patchwork-covered bed was in a little
inner division or recess. The whole had a
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