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GREAT EXPECTATIONS.

BY CHARLES DICKENS.

CHAPTER XXIII.

MR. POCKET said he was glad to see me, and
he hoped I was not sorry to see him.  "For I
really am not," he added, with his son's smile,
"an alarming personage."  He was a young-looking
man, in spite of his perplexities and his very
grey hair, and his manner seemed quite natural.
I use the word natural, in the sense of its being
unaffected; there was something comic in his
distraught way, as though it would have been
downright ludicrous but for his own perception
that it was very near being so.  When he had
talked with me a little, he said to Mrs. Pocket,
with a rather anxious contraction of his eyebrows,
which were black and handsome, "Belinda, I
hope you have welcomed Mr. Pip?" And she
looked up from her book, and said, "Yes." She
then smiled upon me in an absent state of mind,
and asked me if I liked the taste of orange-
flower water? As the question had no bearing,
near or remote, on any foregone or subsequent
transaction, I consider it to have been thrown
out, like her previous approaches, in general
conversational condescension.

I found out within a few hours, and may
mention at once, that Mrs. Pocket was the
only daughter of a certain quite accidental
deceased Knight, who had invented for himself a
conviction that his deceased father would have
been made a Baronet but for somebody's
determined opposition arising out of entirely personal
motivesI forget whose, if I ever knewthe
Sovereign's, the Prime Minister's, the Lord
Chancellor's, the Archbishop of Canterbury's,
anybody'sand had tacked himself on to the
nobles of the earth in right of this quite
supposititious fact. I believe he had been knighted
himself for storming the English grammar at
the point of the pen in a desperate address
engrossed on vellum, on the occasion of the laying of
the first stone of some building or other, and for
handing some Royal Personage either the trowel
or the mortar. Be that as it may, he had
directed Mrs. Pocket to be brought up from her
cradle as one who in the nature of things must
marry a title, and who was to be guarded from
the acquisition of plebeian domestic knowledge.
So successful a watch and ward had been
established over the young lady by this judicious
parent, that she had grown up highly
ornamental, but perfectly helpless and useless. With
her character thus happily formed, in the first
bloom of her youth she had encountered Mr.
Pocket: who was also in the first bloom of
youth, and not quite decided whether to mount
to the Woolsack, or to roof himself in with a
Mitre. As his doing the one or the other
was a mere question of time, he and Mrs.
Pocket had taken Time by the forelock (when,
to judge from its length, it would seem to have
wanted cutting), and had married without the
knowledge of the judicious parent. The
judicious parent, having nothing to bestow or
withhold but his blessing, had handsomely settled
that dower upon them after a short struggle,
and had informed Mr. Pocket that his wife was
"a treasure for a Prince." Mr. Pocket had
invested the Prince's treasure in the ways of the
world ever since, and it was supposed to have
brought in but indifferent interest. Still Mrs.
Pocket was in general the object of a queer sort
of respectful pity, because she had not married
a title; while Mr. Pocket was the object of a
queer sort of forgiving reproach because he had
never got one.

Mr. Pocket took me into the house and
showed me my room: which was a pleasant
one, and so furnished as that I could use it
with comfort for my own private sitting-room.
He then knocked at the doors of two other
similar rooms, and introduced me to their
occupants, by name Drummle and Startop. Drummle,
an old-looking young man of a heavy order of
architecture, was whistling. Startop, younger
in years and appearance, was reading and holding
his head, as if he thought himself in danger
of exploding it with too strong a charge of
knowledge.

Both Mr. and Mrs. Pocket had such a noticeable
air of being in somebody else's hands, that
I wondered who really was in possession of the
house and let them live there, until I found this
unknown power to be the servants. It was
a smooth way of going on, perhaps, in
respect of saving trouble; but it had the appearance
of being expensive, for the servants felt it
a duty they owed to themselves to be nice in
their eating and drinking, and to keep a deal
of company down stairs. They allowed a very
liberal table to Mr. and Mrs. Pocket, yet it
always appeared to me that by far the best

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