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After I had turned the worst point of my
illness, I began to notice that while all its other
features changed, this one consistent feature did
not change. Whosoever came about me, still
settled down into Joe. I opened my eyes in
the night, and I saw in the great chair at the
bedside, Joe. I opened my eyes in the day, and,
sitting on the window-seat, smoking his pipe in
the shaded open window, still I saw Joe. I
asked for cooling drink, and the dear hand that
gave it me was Joe's. I sank back on my pillow
after drinking, and the face that looked so
hopefully and tenderly upon me was the face of Joe.

At last, one day, I took courage, and said,
"Is it Joe?"

And the dear old home-voice answered,
"Which it air, old chap."

"O Joe, you break my heart! Look angry
at me, Joe. Strike me, Joe. Tell me of my
ingratitude. Don't be so good to me!"

For, Joe had actually laid his head down on
the pillow at my side and put his arm round my
neck, in his joy that I knew him.

"Which dear old Pip, old chap," said Joe,
"you and me was ever friends. And when
you're well enough to go out for a ridewhat
larks!"

After which, Joe withdrew to the window, and
stood with his back towards me, wiping his eyes.
And as my extreme weakness prevented me from
getting up and going to him, I lay there,
penitently whispering, "O God bless him! O God
bless this gentle Christian man!"

Joe's eyes were red when I next found him
beside me; but, I was holding his hand, and we
both felt happy.

"How long, dear Joe?"

"Which you meantersay, Pip, how long have
your illness lasted, dear old chap?"

"Yes, Joe."

"It's the end of May, Pip. To-morrow is the
first of June."

"And have you been here all the time, dear
Joe?"

"Pretty nigh, old chap. For, as I says to
Biddy when the news of your being ill were
brought by letter, which it were brought by the
post and being formerly single he is now
married though underpaid for a deal of walking
and shoe-leather, but wealth were not a object on
his part, and marriage were the great wish of
his hart——"

"It is so delightful to hear you, Joe! But I
interrupt you in what you said to Biddy."

"Which it were," said Joe, "that how you
might be amongst strangers, and that how you
and me having been ever friends, a wisit at such
a moment might not prove unacceptabobble. And
Biddy, her word were, 'Go to him, without loss
of time.' That," said Joe, summing up with his
judicial air, "were the word of Biddy. 'Go
to him,' Biddy say, 'without loss of time.' In
short, I shouldn't greatly deceive you," Joe
added, after a little grave reflection, "'if I
represented to you that the word of that young
woman were, 'without a minute's loss of
time.'"

There Joe cut himself short, and informed me
that I was to be talked to in great moderation,
and that I was to take a little nourishment at
stated frequent times, whether I felt inclined
for it or not, and that I was to submit myself to
all his orders. So, I kissed his hand, and lay
quiet, while he proceeded to indite a note to
Biddy, with my love in it.

Evidently, Biddy had taught Joe to write.
As I lay in bed looking at him, it made me, in
my weak state, cry again with pleasure to see
the pride with which he set about his letter.
My bedstead, divested of its curtains, had been
removed, with me upon it, into the sitting-room,
as the airiest and largest, and the carpet had
been taken away, and the room kept always
fresh and wholesome night and day. At my
own writing-table, pushed into a corner and
cumbered with little bottles, Joe now sat down
to his great work: first choosing a pen from the
pen-tray as if it were a chest of large tools, and
tucking up his sleeves as if he were going to
wield a crowbar or sledge-hammer. It was
necessary for Joe to hold on heavily to the
table with his left elbow, and to get his right
leg well out behind him, before he could begin,
and when he did begin, he made every down-
stroke so slowly that it might have been six
feet long, while at every up-stroke I could hear
his pen spluttering extensively. He had a
curious idea that the inkstand was on the side
of him where it was not, and constantly dipped
his pen into space, and seemed quite satisfied
with the result. Occasionally, he was tripped up
by some orthographical stumbling-block, but on
the whole he got on very well indeed, and when
he had signed his name, and had removed a
finishing blot from the paper to the crown of his
head with his two forefingers, he got up and
hovered about the table, trying the effect of his
performance from various points of view as it
lay there, with unbounded satisfaction.

Not to make Joe uneasy by talking too much,
even if I had been able to talk much, I deferred
asking him about Miss Havisham until next
day. He shook his head when I then asked him
if she had recovered.

"Is she dead, Joe?"

"Why you see, old chap," said Joe, in a tone
of remonstrance, and by way of getting at it by
degrees, "I wouldn't go so far as to say that,
for that's a deal to say; but she ain't——"

"Living, Joe?"

"That's nigher where it is," said Joe; "she
ain't living."

"Did she linger long, Joe?"

"Arter you was took ill, pretty much about
what you might call (if you was put to it) a
week," said Joe; still determined, on my
account, to come at everything by degrees.

"Dear Joe, have you heard what becomes of
her property?"

"Well, old chap," said Joe, "it do appear
that she had settled the most of it, which I
meantersay tied it up, on Miss Estella. But she
had wrote out a little coddleshell in her own
hand a day or two afore the accident, leaving a

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