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          GREAT EXPECTATIONS.

          BY CHARLES DICKENS.

                  CHAPTER LI.

WHAT purpose I had in view when I was
hot on tracing out and proving Estella's parentage,
I cannot say. It will presently be seen that
the question was not before me in a distinct
shape, until it was put before me by a wiser head
than my own.

But when Herbert and I had held our
momentous conversation, I was seized with a
feverish conviction that I ought to hunt the
matter downthat I ought not to let it rest,
but that I ought to see Mr. Jaggers, and come
at the bare truth. I really do not know whether
I felt that I did this for Estella's sake, or
whether I was glad to transfer to the man in
whose preservation I was so much concerned,
some rays of the romantic interest that had so
Iong surrounded her. Perhaps the latter
possibility may be the nearer to the truth.

Any way, I could scarcely be withheld from
going out to Gerrard-street that night.
Herbert's representations that if I did, I should
probably be laid up and stricken useless, when
our fugitive's safety would depend upon me,
alone restrained my impatience. On the
understanding, again and again reiterated, that
come what would, I was to go to Mr. Jaggers
to-morrow, I at length submitted to keep quiet,
and to have my hurts looked after, and to stay
at home. Early next morning we went out
together. and at the corner of Giltspur-street by
Smithfield, I left Herbert to go his way into
the City, and took my way to Little Britain.

There were periodical occasions when Mr.
Jaggers and Wemmick went over the office
accounts, and checked off the vouchers, and put
all things straight. On those occasions
Wemmick took his books and papers into Mr.
Jaggers's room, and one of the up-stairs clerks
came down into the outer office. Finding such
clerk on Wemmick's post that morning, I knew
what was going on; but I was not sorry to have
Mr. Jaggers and Wemmick together, as
Wemmick would then hear for himself that I said
nothing to compromise him.

My appearance with my arm bandaged and
my coat loose over my shoulders, favoured my
object. Although I had sent Mr. Jaggers a
brief account of the accident as soon as I had
arrived in town, yet I had to give him all the
details now; and the speciality of the occasion
caused our talk to be less dry and hard, and
less strictly regulated by the rules of evidence,
than it had been before. While I described the
disaster, Mr. Jaggers stood, according to his
wont, before the fire. Wemmick leaned back in
his chair, staring at me, with his hands in the
pockets of his trousers, and his pen put
horizontally into the post. The two brutal casts,
always inseparable in my mind from the official
proceedings, seemed to be congestively
considering whether they didn't smell fire at the
present moment.

My narrative finished, and their questions
exhausted, I then produced Miss Havisham's
authority to receive the nine hundred pounds for
Herbert. Mr. Jaggers's eyes retired a little
deeper into his head when I handed him the
tablets, but he presently handed them over to
Wemmick, with instructions to draw the cheque
for his signature. While that was in course of
being done, I looked on at Wemmick as he
wrote, and Mr. Jaggers, poising and swaying
himself on his well-polished boots, looked on at
me. "I am sorry, Pip," said he, as I put the
cheque in my pocket, when he had signed it,
"that we do nothing for you."

"Miss Havisham was good enough to ask
me," I returned, "whether she could do nothing
for me, and I told her No."

"Everybody should know his own business,"
said Mr. Jaggers. And I saw Wemmick's lips
form the words "portable property."

"I should not have told her No, if I had been
you," said Mr. Jaggers; "but every man ought
to know his own business best."

"Every man's business," said Wemmick,
rather reproachfully towards me, "is portable
property."

As I thought the time was now come for
pursuing the theme I had at heart, I said, turning
on Mr. Jaggers:

"I did ask something of Miss Havisham,
however, sir. I asked her to give me some
information relative to her adopted daughter, and
she gave me all she possessed."

"Did she?'' said Mr. Jaggers, bending
forward to look at his boots and then straightening
himself. "Hah! I don't think I should have
done so, if I had been Miss Havisham. But
she ought to know her own business best."

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