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Chapter 22

The pale young gentleman and I stood contemplating one another in Barnard’s Inn, until we both burst out laughing.

“Well!” said the pale young gentleman, reaching out his hand good-humoredly, “it’s all over now, I hope you’ll forgive me.”

I derived from this speech that Mr. Herbert Pocket[102] (for Herbert was the pale young gentleman’s name) did not remember anything.

“Miss Havisham had sent for me, to see if she could take a fancy to me. But she couldn’t – she didn’t.”

I thought it polite to remark that I was surprised to hear that.

“Bad taste,” said Herbert, laughing, “but a fact. Yes, she had sent for me on a trial visit, and if I had come out of it successfully, I suppose I should have been provided for; perhaps I should have been engaged to Estella.”

“How did you bear your disappointment?” I asked.

“Pooh!” said he, “I didn’t care much for it. She’s a Tartar.[103]

“Miss Havisham?”

“I don’t say no to that, but I meant Estella. That girl’s hard and haughty and capricious to the last degree, and has been brought up by Miss Havisham to wreak revenge on all the male sex.[104]

“What relation is she to Miss Havisham?”

“None,” said he. “Only adopted.”

“Why should she wreak revenge on all the male sex? What revenge?”

“Lord, Mr. Pip!” said he. “Don’t you know?”

“No,” said I.

“Dear me! It’s quite a story, and shall be saved till dinner-time. And now let me take the liberty of asking you a question. How did you come there, that day?”

I told him, and he was attentive until I had finished, and then burst out laughing again.

“Mr. Jaggers is your guardian, I understand?” he went on.

“Yes.”

“You know he is Miss Havisham’s man of business and solicitor, and has her confidence when nobody else has?”

I answered with a constraint, that I had seen Mr. Jaggers in Miss Havisham’s house on the very day of our combat, but never at any other time.

“He was so obliging[105] as to suggest my father for your tutor, and he called on my father to propose it. Of course he knew about my father from his connection with Miss Havisham. My father is Miss Havisham’s cousin.”

Herbert Pocket was still a pale young gentleman. He had not a handsome face, but it was better than handsome: being extremely amiable and cheerful.

As he was so communicative, I told him my small story, and stressed on my being forbidden to inquire who my benefactor was. I further mentioned that as I had been brought up a blacksmith in a country place, and knew very little of the ways of politeness, I would take it as a great kindness in him if he would give me a hint whenever he saw going wrong.

“With pleasure,” said he, “Will you do me the favour to begin at once to call me by my Christian name, Herbert?”

I thanked him and said I would. I informed him in exchange that my Christian name was Philip.

“No,” said he, smiling, “Would you mind Handel[106] for a familiar name? There’s a charming piece of music by Handel, called the Harmonious Blacksmith.[107]

“I should like it very much.”

“Then, my dear Handel,” said he, turning round as the door opened, “here is the dinner!”

It was a nice little dinner. Everything made the feast delightful. We had made some progress in the dinner, when I reminded Herbert of his promise to tell me about Miss Havisham.

“True,” he replied. “ Let me introduce the topic, Handel, by mentioning that in London it is not the custom to put the knife in the mouth – for fear of accidents – and that while the fork is reserved for that use. Also, the spoon is not generally used over-hand, but under.[108]

He offered these friendly suggestions in such a lively way, that we both laughed and I scarcely blushed.

“Now,” he pursued, “concerning Miss Havisham. Miss Havisham, you must know, was a spoilt child. Her mother died when she was a baby, and her father denied her nothing.[109] Her father was a country gentleman down in your part of the world, and was a brewer. Well! Mr. Havisham was very rich and very proud. So was his daughter.”

“Miss Havisham was an only child?” I hazarded.

“Stop a moment, I am coming to that. No, she was not an only child; she had a half-brother.[110] Her father privately married again – his cook, I rather think.”

“I thought he was proud,” said I.

“My good Handel, so he was. He married his second wife privately, because he was proud, and in course of time she died. When she was dead, I apprehend he first told his daughter what he had done, and then the son became a part of the family, residing in the house you are acquainted with. As the son grew a young man, he turned out riotous, extravagant – altogether bad. At last his father disinherited him; but he softened when he was dying, and gave him something, though less than to Miss Havisham. Miss Havisham was now an heiress.[111] Her half-brother had debts. There were stronger differences between him and her than there had been between him and his father. Now, I come to the cruel part of the story. There appeared a certain man, who made love to Miss Havisham. I never saw him (for this happened five-and-twenty years ago, before you and I were, Handel), but I have heard my father mention that he was a showy man.[112] Well! This man pursued Miss Havisham closely. And she passionately loved him. There is no doubt that she perfectly idolized him. Your guardian was not at that time in Miss Havisham’s counsels, and she was too haughty and too much in love to be advised by any one. Her relations were poor, with the exception of my father; he was poor enough, but not jealous. The only independent one among them, he warned her that she was doing too much for this man. She took the first opportunity of angrily ordering my father out of the house, in his presence, and my father has never seen her since.”

I thought of her having said, “Matthew will come and see me at last when I am laid dead upon that table;” and I asked Herbert whether his father was so inveterate against her?

“It’s not that,” said he, “To return to the man and make an end of him. The marriage day was fixed, the wedding dresses were bought, the wedding tour was planned out, the wedding guests were invited. The day came, but not the bridegroom. He wrote her a letter – ”

“Which she received,” I struck in, “when she was dressing for her marriage? At twenty minutes to nine?”

“At the hour and minute,” said Herbert, nodding, “at which she afterwards stopped all the clocks.”

“Is that all the story?” I asked.

“All I know of it. But I have forgotten one thing. It has been supposed that the man to whom she gave her misplaced confidence acted throughout in concert[113] with her half-brother; that it was a conspiracy between them; and that they shared the profits.”

“I wonder he didn’t marry her and get all the property,” said I.

“He may have been married already,” said Herbert. “But I don’t know that.”

“What became of the two men?” I asked, after considering the subject.

“They fell into deeper shame and degradation – if there can be deeper – and ruin.”

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102

Herbert Pocket – Герберт Покет

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103

Tartar – тиран

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104

to wreak revenge on all the male sex – отомстить всей мужской половине рода человеческого

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105

he was so obliging – он был так любезен

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106

Handel – Гендель

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107

Harmonious Blacksmith – «Гармонический кузнец» (название пьесы немецкого и английского композитора эпохи барокко Г.Ф. Генделя)

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108

the spoon is not generally used over-hand, but under – ложку лучше захватывать пальцами не сверху, а снизу

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109

denied her nothing – ни в чём ей не отказывал

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110

a half-brother – сводный брат

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111

Miss Havisham was now an heiress. – Мисс Хэвишем стала теперь наследницей.

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112

a showy man – видный мужчина

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113

acted throughout in concert – действовал заодно

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