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GREAT EXPECTATIONS.

BV CHARLES DICKENS.

CHAPTER VI.

MY state of mind regarding the pilfering from
which I had been so unexpectedly exonerated,
did not impel me to frank disclosure; but I
hope it had some dregs of good at the bottom
of it.

I do not recal that I felt any tenderness of
conscience in reference to Mrs. Joe, when the
fear of being found out was lifted off me. But
I loved Joeperhaps for no better reason in
those early days than because the dear fellow
let me love himand, as to him, my inner self
was not so easily composed. It was much
upon my mind (particularly when I first saw
him looking about for his file) that I ought to
tell Joe the whole truth. Yet I did not, and
for the reason that I mistrusted that if I did,
he would think me worse than I was. The fear
of losing Joe's confidence, and of thenceforth
sitting in the chimney corner at night staring
drearily at my for ever lost companion and
friend, tied up my tongue. I morbidly
represented to myself that if Joe knew it, I never
afterwards could see him at the fireside feeling
his fair whisker, without thinking that he was
meditating on it. That, if Joe knew it, I never
afterwards could see him glance, however
casually, at yesterday's meat or pudding when
it came on to-day's table, without thinking that
he was debating whether I had been in the
pantry. That, if Joe knew it, and at any
subsequent period of our joint domestic life remarked
that his beer was flat or thick, the conviction
that he suspected Tar in it, would bring a rush
of blood to my face. In a word, I was too
cowardly to do what I knew to be right, as I
had been too cowardly to avoid doing what I
knew to be wrong. I had had no intercourse
with the world at that time, and I imitated none
of its many inhabitants who act in this
manner. Quite an untaught genius, I made the
discovery of the line of action for myself.

As I was sleepy before we were far away from
the prison-ship, Joe took me on his back again
and carried me home. He must have had a tiresome
journey of it, for Mr.Wopsle, being knocked
up, was in such a very bad temper that if the
Church had been thrown open, he would
probably have excommunicated the whole expedition,
beginning with Joe and myself. In his
lay capacity, he persisted in sitting down in the
damp to such an insane extent, that when his
coat was taken off to be dried at the kitchen
fire, the circumstantial evidence on his trousers
would have hanged him if it had been a capital
offence.

By that time, I was staggering on the kitchen
floor like a little drunkard, through having been
newly set upon my feet, and through having
been fast asleep, and through waking in the
heat and lights and noise of tongues. As I
came to myself (with the aid of a heavy thump
between the shoulders, and the restorative
exclamation "Yah! Was there ever such a boy
as this!" from my sister) I found Joe telling
them about the convict's confession, and all the
visitors suggesting different ways by which he
had got into the pantry. Mr. Pumblechook
made out, after carefully surveying the premises,
that he had first got upon the roof of the forge,
and had then got upon the roof of the house,
and had then let himself down the kitchen
chimney by a rope made of his bedding cut into
strips; and as Mr. Pumblechook was very positive
and drove his own chaise-cartover everybody
it was agreed that it must be so. Mr.
Wopsle, indeed, wildly cried out "No!" with
the feeble malice of a tired man; but, as he had
no theory, and no coat on, he was unanimously
set at naughtnot to mention his smoking hard
behind, as he stood with his back to the kitchen
fire to draw the damp out: which was not
calculated to inspire confidence.

This was all I heard that night before my
sister clutched me, as a slumberous offence to
the company's eyesight, and assisted me up to bed
with such a strong hand that I seemed to have
fifty boots on, and to be dangling them all
against the edges of the stairs. My state of
mind, as I have described it, began before I was
up in the morning, and lasted long after the
subject had died out, and had ceased to be
mentioned saving on exceptional occasions.

CHAPTER VII.

AT the time when I stood in the churchyard,
reading the family tombstones, I had just enough
learning to be able to spell them out. My
construction even of their simple meaning was not
very correct, for I read "wife of the Above" as
a complimentary reference to my father's exaltation
to a better world; and if any one of my

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