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“Pip,” said he, putting his large hand on my shoulder and moving me to the window, “I don’t know one from the other. Who’s the Spider?”

“The spider?” said I.

“The blotchy, sulky fellow.”

“That’s Bentley Drummle,” I replied; “the one with the delicate face is Startop.”

Mr. Jaggers returned, “Bentley Drummle is his name, is it? I like the look of that fellow.”

He immediately began to talk to Drummle. I was looking at the two, when there came between me and them the housekeeper, with the first dish for the table.

She was a woman of about forty, I supposed – but I may have thought her younger than she was. Rather tall, of a nimble figure, extremely pale, with large faded eyes, and a quantity of streaming hair. I had seen Macbeth[134] at the theatre, a night or two before, and that her face looked to me as if it were all disturbed by fiery air, like the faces I had seen rise out of the Witches’ caldron.[135]

She set the dish on, touched my guardian quietly on the arm with a finger to notify that dinner was ready, and vanished. We took our seats at the round table, and my guardian kept Drummle on one side of him, while Startop sat on the other. It was a noble dish of fish that the housekeeper had put on table, and we had mutton afterwards, and then bird. Sauces, wines, all the accessories we wanted, and all of the best, were given out by our host. No other attendant than the housekeeper appeared. She set on every dish; and I always saw in her face, a face rising out of the caldron.

Dinner went off very well. For myself, I found that I was expressing my tendency to lavish expenditure, and to patronize Herbert, and to boast of my great prospects, before I quite knew that I had opened my lips. It was so with all of us.

When we had got to the cheese, that our conversation turned upon our rowing feats, and that Drummle was not very good in rowing. Drummle informed our host that he much preferred our room to our company, and that as to skill he was more than our master, and that as to strength he could scatter us like chaff. Drummle was baring and spanning his arm to show how muscular it was, and we all fell to baring and spanning our arms in a ridiculous manner.

My guardian was leaning back in his chair biting the side of his forefinger and showing an interest in Drummle, that, to me, was quite inexplicable. Suddenly, he clapped his large hand on the housekeeper’s, like a trap, as she stretched it across the table. So suddenly and smartly did he do this, that we all stopped in our foolish contention.

“If you talk of strength,” said Mr. Jaggers, “I’ll show you a wrist. Molly, let them see your wrist.”

Her entrapped hand was on the table, but she had already put her other hand behind her waist. “Master,” she said, in a low voice, with her eyes attentively fixed upon him. “Don’t.”

“I’ll show you a wrist,” repeated Mr. Jaggers, with an determination to show it. “Molly, let them see your wrist.”

“Master,” she again murmured. “Please!”

“Molly,” said Mr. Jaggers, not looking at her, but looking at the opposite side of the room, “let them see both your wrists. Show them. Come!”

He took his hand from hers, and turned that wrist up on the table. She brought her other hand from behind her, and held the two out side by side. The last wrist was much disfigured[136] – deeply scarred and scarred across and across. When she held her hands out she took her eyes from Mr. Jaggers, and turned them watchfully on every one of the rest of us in succession.

“There’s power here,[137]” said Mr. Jaggers, coolly tracing out the sinews with his forefinger. “Very few men have the power of wrist that this woman has. I have had occasion to notice many hands; but I never saw stronger in that respect, man’s or woman’s, than these.”

While he said these words in a leisurely, critical style, she continued to look at every one of us in regular succession as we sat. The moment he ceased, she looked at him again. “That’ll do, Molly,[138]” said Mr. Jaggers, giving her a slight nod; “you have been admired, and can go.” She withdrew her hands and went out of the room, and Mr. Jaggers filled his glass and passed round the wine.

“At half-past nine, gentlemen,” said he, “we must break up.[139] Pray make the best use of your time.[140] I am glad to see you all. Mr. Drummle, I drink to you.”

Drummle showed his morose depreciation of the rest of us, in a more and more offensive degree, until he became downright intolerable. But Mr. Jaggers followed him with the same strange interest. He actually seemed to serve as a zest to Mr. Jaggers’s wine.

In our boyish want of discretion I dare say we took too much to drink, and I know we talked too much. We became particularly hot upon some boorish sneer of Drummle’s, to the effect that we were too free with our money. It led to my remarking, that Startop had lent him money in my presence but a week or so before.

“Well,” retorted Drummle; “he’ll be paid.”

“I don’t mean to imply that he won’t,” said I, “but it might make you hold your tongue about us and our money, I should think.”

You should think!” retorted Drummle. “Oh Lord!”

“I dare say,” I went on, meaning to be very severe, “that you wouldn’t lend money to any of us if we wanted it.”

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134

Macbeth – «Макбет» (одна из наиболее известных трагедий Уильяма Шекспира)

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135

Witches’ caldron – котёл ведьм

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136

was much disfigured – было сильно обезображено

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137

There’s power here. – Вот где сила.

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138

That’ll do, Molly. – Достаточно, Молли.

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139

we must break up – мы должны разойтись

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140

Pray make the best use of your time. – Пожалуйста, не теряйте времени.

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