BY CHARLES DICKENS.
SOME weeks passed without bringing any
change. We waited for Wemmick, and he made
no sign. If I had never known him out of Little
Britain, and had never enjoyed the privilege of
being on a familiar footing at the Castle, I might
have doubted him; not so for a moment,
knowing him as I did.
My worldly affairs began to wear a gloomy
appearance, and I was pressed for money by
more than one creditor. Even I myself began
to know the want of money (I mean of ready
money in my own pocket), and to relieve it by
converting some easily spared articles of
jewellery into cash. But I had quite determined that
it would be a heartless fraud to take more money
from my patron in the existing state of my
uncertain thoughts and plans. Therefore, I had sent
him the unopened pocket-book by Herbert, to
hold in his own keeping, and I felt a kind of
satisfaction—whether it was a false kind or a
true, I hardly know—in not having profited by
his generosity since his revelation of himself.
As the time wore on, an impression settled
heavily upon me that Estella was married.
Fearful of having it confirmed, though it was
all but a conviction, I avoided the newspapers,
and begged Herbert (to whom I had confided
the circumstances of our last interview) never
to speak of her to me. Why I hoarded up this
last wretched little rag of the robe of hope that
was rent and given to the winds, how do I
know! Why did you who read this, commit
that not dissimilar inconsistency of your own
last year, last month, last week?
It was an unhappy life that I lived, and its
one dominant anxiety, towering over all its other
anxieties like a high mountain above a range of
mountains, never disappeared from my view.
Still, no new cause for fear arose. Let me start
from my bed as I would, with the terror fresh
upon me that he was discovered ; let me sit
listening as I would, with dread, for Herbert's
returning step at night, lest it should be fleeter
than ordinary, and winged with evil news; for
all that, and much more to like purpose, the
round of things went on. Condemned to
inaction and a state of constant restlessness and
suspense, I rowed about in my boat, and waited,
waited, waited, as I best could.
It was an unhappy life that I lived, and its
There were states of the tide when, having
been down the river, I could not get back through
the eddy-chafed arches and starlings of old
London Bridge; then, I left my boat at a wharf
near the Custom House, to be brought up
afterwards to the Temple stairs. I was not averse to
doing this, as it served to make me and my boat
a commoner incident among the water-side people
there. From this slight occasion, sprang two
meetings that I have now to tell of.
One afternoon, late in the month of February,
I came ashore at the wharf at dusk. I had
pulled down as far as Greenwich with the ebb
tide, and had turned with the tide. It had been
a fine bright day, but had become foggy as the
sun dropped, and I had had to feel my way back
among the shipping, pretty carefully. Both in
going and returning I had seen the signal in his
window, All well.
As it was a raw evening and I was cold, I
thought I would comfort myself with dinner at
once; and as I had hours of dejection and
solitude before me if I went home to the Temple, I
thought I would afterwards go to the play. The
theatre where Mr. Wopsle had achieved his
questionable triumph, was in that water-side
neighbourhood (it is nowhere now), and to that
theatre I resolved to go. I was aware that Mr.
Wopsle had not succeeded in reviving the
Drama, but, on the contrary, had rather partaken
of its decline. He had been ominously heard of,
through the playbills, as a faithful Black, in
connexion with a little girl of noble birth, and a
monkey. And Herbert had seen him as a predatory
Tartar of comic propensities, with a face like a
red brick, and an outrageous hat all over bells.
I dined at what Herbert and I used to call a
Geographical chop-house—where there were
maps of the world in porter-pot rims on every
half-yard of the tablecloths, and charts of gravy
on every one of the knives—to this day there is
scarcely a single chop-house in the Lord Mayor's
dominions which is not Geographical—and wore
out the time in dozing over crumbs, staring at
gas, and baking in a hot blast of dinners.
By-and-by, I roused myself and went to the play.
There, I found a virtuous boatswain in his
Majesty's service—a most excellent man,
though I could have wished his trousers not
quite so tight in some places and not quite so
loose in others—who knocked all the little men's
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