BY CHARLES DICKENS.
HERBERT and I went on from bad to worse,
in the way of increasing our debts, looking into
our affairs, leaving Margins, and the like
exemplary transactions; and Time went on,
whether or no, as he has a way of doing; and
I came of age—in fulfilment of Herbert's
prediction, that I should do so, before I knew
where I was.
Herbert himself had come of age, eight months
before me. As he had nothing else than his
majority to come into, the event did not make a
profound sensation in Barnard's Inn. But we
had looked forward to my one-and-twentieth
birthday, with a crowd of speculations and
anticipations, for we had both considered that my
guardian could hardly help saying something
definite on that occasion.
I had taken care to have it well understood
in Little Britain, when my birthday was. On
the day before it, I received an official note from
Wemmick, informing me that Mr. Jaggers would
be glad if I would call upon him at five in the
afternoon of the auspicious day. This convinced
us that something great was to happen, and
threw me into an unusual flutter wnen I
repaired to my guardian's office, a model of
In the outer office Wemmick offered me his
congratulations, and incidentally rubbed the side
of his nose with a folded piece of tissue-paper
that I liked the look of. But he said nothing
respecting it, and motioned me with a nod into
my guardian's room. It was November, and
my guardian was standing before his fire leaning
his back against the chimney-piece, with his
hands under his coat-tails.
"Well, Pip," said he, " I must call you Mr.
Pip to-day. Congratulations, Mr. Pip."
We shook hands—he was always a remarkably
short shaker—and I thanked him.
"Take a chair, Mr. Pip," said my guardian.
As I sat down, and he preserved his attitude
and bent his brows at his boots, I felt at a
disadvantage, which reminded me of that old time
when I had been put upon a tombstone. The
two ghastly casts on the shelf were not far
from him, and their expression was as if they
were making a stupid apoplectic attempt to
attend to the conversation.
"Now my young friend," my guardian began,
as if I were a witness in the box, " I am going
to have a word or two with you."
"If you please, sir."
"What do you suppose," said Mr. Jaggers,
bending forward to look at the ground, and then
throwing his head back to look at the ceiling,
"what do you suppose you are living at the rate
"At the rate of, sir?"
"At," repeated Mr. Jaggers, still looking at
the ceiling, " the—rate—of?" And then looked
all round the room, and paused with his
pocket-handkerchief in his hand, half way to his
I had looked into my affairs so often, that I had
thoroughly destroyed any slight notion I might
ever have had of their bearings. Reluctantly, I
confessed myself quite unable to answer the
question. This reply seemed agreeable to Mr.
Jaggers, who said, " I thought so! " and blew
his nose with an air of satisfaction.
"Now, I have asked you a question, my
friend," said Mr. Jaggers. "Have you anything
to ask me ? "
"Of course it would be a great relief to me
to ask you several questions, sir; but I remember
"Ask one," said Mr. Jaggers.
"Is my benefactor to be made known to me
"No. Ask another."
"Is that confidence to be imparted to me
"Waive that, a moment," said Mr. Jaggers,
"and ask another."
I looked about me, but there appeared to be
now no possible escape from the inquiry, "Have
—I—anything to receive, sir?" On that, Mr.
Jaggers said, triumphantly, "I thought we
should come to it!" and called to Wemmick
to give him that piece of paper. Wemmick
appeared, handed it in, and disappeared.
"Now, Mr. Pip," said Mr. Jaggers, "attend,
if you please. You have been drawing pretty
freely here; your name occurs pretty often in
Wemmick's cash-book; but you are in debt, of
"I am afraid I must say yes, sir."
"You know you must say yes; don't you?"
said Mr Jaggers.
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