BY CHARLES DICKENS.
I WAS three-and-twenty years of age. Not
another word had I heard to enlighten me on
the subject of my expectations, and my twenty-
third birthday was a week gone. We had left
Barnard's Inn more than a year, and lived in
the Temple. Our chambers were in Garden-
court, down by the river.
Mr. Pocket and I had for some time parted
company as to our original relations, though we
continued on the best terms. Notwithstanding
my inability to settle to anything—which I
hope arose out of the restless and incomplete
tenure on which I held my means—I had a
taste for reading, and read regularly so many
hours a day. That matter of Herbert's was still
progressing, and everything with me was as I
have brought it down to the close of the last
Business had taken Herbert on a journey to
Marseilles. I was alone, and had a dull sense
of being alone. Dispirited and anxious, long
hoping that to-morrow or next week would clear
my way, and long disappointed, I sadly missed
the cheerful face and ready response of my
It was wretched weather; stormy and wet,
stormy and wet; and mud, mud, mud, deep in
all the streets. Day after day, a vast heavy
veil had been driving over London from the
East, and it drove still, as if in the East there
were an Eternity of cloud and wind. So furious
had been the gusts, that high buildings in town
had had the lead stripped off their roofs; and in
the country, trees had been torn up, and sails of
windmills carried away; and gloomy accounts
had come in from the coast, of shipwreck and
death. Violent blasts of rain had accompanied
these rages of wind, and the day just closed as
I sat down to read had been the worst of all.
Alterations have been made in that part of
the Temple since that time, and it has not now
so lonely a character as it had then, nor is it so
exposed to the river. We lived at the top of
the last house, and the wind rushing up the river
shook the house that night, like discharges of
cannon, or breakings of a sea. When the rain
came with it and dashed against the windows, I
thought, raising my eyes to them as they rocked,
that I might have fancied myself in a storm-
beaten lighthouse. Occasionally, the smoke
came rolling down the chimney as though it
could not bear to go out into such a night; and
when I set the doors open and looked down the
staircase, the staircase lamps were blown out;
and when I shaded my face with my hands and
looked through the black windows (opening
them ever so little, was out of the question in
the teeth of such wind and rain) I saw that the
lamps in the court were blown out, and that the
lamps on the bridges and the shore were
shuddering, and that the coal fires in barges on the
river were being carried away before the wind
like red-hot splashes in the rain.
I read with my watch upon the table,
purposing to close my book at eleven-o'clock. As
I shut it, Saint Paul's, and all the many church-
clocks in the City—some leading, some
accompanying, some following—struck that hour. The
sound was curiously flawed by the wind; and I
was listening, and thinking how the wind
assailed it and tore it, when I heard a footstep
on the stair.
I read with my watch upon the table,
What nervous folly made me start, and awfully
connect it with the footstep of my dead sister,
matters not. It was past in a moment, and I
listened again, and heard the footstep stumble
in coming on. Remembering then that the
staircase-lights were blown out, I took up my
reading-lamp and went out to the stair-head.
Whoever was below had stopped on seeing my
lamp, for all was quiet.
"There is some one down there, is there
not?" I called out, looking down.
"Yes," said a voice from the darkness beneath.
"What floor do you want?"
"The top. Mr. Pip."
"That is my name.—There is nothing the
"Nothing the matter," returned the voice.
And the man came on.
I stood with my lamp held out over the stair-
rail, and he slowly came within its light. It
was a shaded lamp, to shine upon a book, and
its circle of light was very contracted; so that
he was in it for a mere instant, and then out of
it. In the instant, I had seen a face that was
strange to me, looking up with an incomprehensible
air of being touched and pleased by the
sight of me.
Moving the lamp as the man moved, I made
out that he was substantially dressed, but
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