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GREAT EXPECTATIONS.

BY CHARLES DICKENS.

CHAPTER XLI.

In vain should I attempt to describe the
astonishment and disquiet of Herbert, when he
and I and Provis sat down before the fire, and I
recounted the whole of the secret. Enough that
I saw my own feelings reflected in Herbert's
face, and, not least among them, my repugnance
towards the man who had done so much for me.

What would alone have set a division between
that man and us, if there had been no other
dividing circumstance, was his triumph in my
story. Saving his troublesome sense of having
been "low" on one occasion since his return
on which point he began to hold forth to Herbert,
the moment my revelation was finished
he had no perception of the possibility of my
finding any fault with my good fortune. His
boast that he had made me a gentleman, and
that he had come to see me support the character
on his ample resources, was made for me
quite as much as for himself; and that it was a
highly agreeable boast to both of us, and that
we must both be very proud of it, was a conclusion
quite established in his own mind.

"Though, look'ee here, Pip's comrade," he said
to Herbert, after having discoursed for some time,
"I know very well that once since I come back
for half a minuteI've been low. I said to
Pip, I knowed as I had been low. But don't
you fret yourself on that score. I ain't made
Pip a gentleman, and Pip ain't agoing to make
you a gentleman, not fur me not to know what's
due to ye both. Dear boy, and Pip's comrade,
you two may count upon me always having a
gen-teel muzzle on. Muzzled I have been
since that half a minute when I was betrayed
into lowness, muzzled I am at the present time,
and muzzled I ever will be."

Herbert said, "Certainly," but looked as if
there were no specific consolation in this, and
remained perplexed and dismayed. We were
anxious for the time when he would go to his
lodging, and leave us together, but he was evidently
jealous of leaving us together, and sat
late. It was midnight before I took him round
to Essex-street, and saw him safely in at his
own dark door. When it closed upon him, I
experienccd the first moment of relief I had
known since the night of his arrival.

Never quite free from an uneasy remembrance
of the man on the stairs, I had always looked
about me in taking my guest out after dark, and
in bringing him back; and I looked about me
now. Difficult as it is in a large city to avoid
the suspicion of being watched, when the mind
is conscious of danger in that regard, I could
not persuade myself that any of the people
within sight cared about my movements. The
few who were passing, passed on their several
ways, and the street was empty when I turned
back into the Temple. Nobody had come out
at the gate with us, nobody went in at the gate
with me. As I crossed by the fountain, I saw
his lighted back windows looking bright and
quiet, and when I stood for a few moments in
the doorway of the building where I lived, before
going up the stairs, Garden-court was as
still and lifeless as the staircase was when I
ascended it.

Herbert received me with open arms, and I
had never felt before, so blessedly, what it is to
have a friend. When he had spoken some sound
words of sympathy and encouragement, we sat
down to consider the question, What was to be
done?

The chair that Provis had occupied still remaining
where it had stoodfor he had a barrack
way with him of hanging about one spot,
in one unsettled manner, and going through one
round of observances with his pipe and his negro-head
and his jack-knife and his pack of cards,
and what not, as if it were all put down for him
on a slateI say, his chair remaining where it
had stood, Herbert unconsciously took it, but
next moment started out of it, pushed it away,
and took another. He had no occasion to say
after that, that he had conceived an aversion for
my patron, neither had I occasion to confess my
own. We interchanged that confidence without
shaping a syllable.

"What," said I to Herbert, when he was safe
in another chair, "what is to be done?"

"My poor dear Handel," he replied, holding
his head, "I am too stunned to think."

"So was I, Herbert, when the blow first fell.
Still, something must be done. He is intent
upon various new expenseshorses, and carriages,
and lavish appearances of all kinds. He
must be stopped, somehow."

"You mean that you can't accept—?"

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