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Chapter 11

At the appointed time I returned to Miss Havisham’s. Estella locked the gate it after admitting me, as she had done before, and again preceded me into the dark passage where her candle stood. She took no notice of me until she had the candle in her hand, when she looked over her shoulder, saying, “You are to come this way today,[53]” and took me to quite another part of the house.

The passage was a long one. We traversed but one side of the square, however, and at the end of it she stopped, and put her candle down and opened a door. Here I found myself in a small paved courtyard. There was a clock in the outer wall of this house. Like the clock in Miss Havisham’s room, and like Miss Havisham’s watch, it had stopped at twenty minutes to nine.

We went in at the door, which stood open, and into a gloomy room with a low ceiling, on the ground-floor at the back.

As we were going with our candle along the dark passage, Estella stopped all of a sudden, and, facing round, said with her face quite close to mine —

“Well?”

“Well, miss?” I answered, almost falling over her and checking myself.

She stood looking at me, and, of course, I stood looking at her.

“Am I pretty?”

“Yes; I think you are very pretty.”

“Am I insulting?”

“Not so much so as you were last time,” said I.

“Not so much so?”

“No.”

She fired when she asked the last question, and she slapped my face with such force as she had, when I answered it.

“Now?” said she. “You little coarse monster,[54] what do you think of me now?”

“I shall not tell you.”

“Why don’t you cry again, you little wretch?[55]

“Because I’ll never cry for you again,” said I.

We went on our way up stairs after this episode; and, as we were going up, we met a gentleman groping his way down.

“Whom have we here?” asked the gentleman, stopping and looking at me.

“A boy,” said Estella.

He was a burly man of an exceedingly dark complexion, with an exceedingly large head, and a corresponding large hand. He took my chin in his large hand and turned up my face to have a look at me by the light of the candle. He was bald on the top of his head, and had bushy black eyebrows.

“Boy of the neighborhood? Hey?” said he.

“Yes, sir,” said I.

“How do you come here?”

“Miss Havisham sent for me, sir,” I explained.

“Well! Behave yourself,” said he, biting the side of his great forefinger as he frowned at me, “you behave yourself![56]

With those words, he released me and went his way down stairs. There was not much time to consider the subject, for we were soon in Miss Havisham’s room, where she and everything else were just as I had left them. Estella left me standing near the door, and I stood there until Miss Havisham cast her eyes upon me from the dressing-table.

“So!” she said, “the days have worn away, have they?”

“Yes, ma’am. Today is – ”

“There, there, there![57]” with the impatient movement of her fingers. “I don’t want to know. Are you ready to play?”

“I don’t think I am, ma’am.”

“Not at cards again?” she demanded, with a searching look.

“Yes, ma’am; I could do that.”

“Since you are unwilling to play, boy,” said Miss Havisham, impatiently, “are you willing to work?”

I said I was quite willing.

“Then go into that opposite room,” said she, pointing at the door behind me with her withered hand, “and wait there till I come.”

I crossed the staircase landing, and entered the room she indicated. From that room, too, the daylight was completely excluded, and it had an airless smell that was oppressive. The most prominent object was a long table with a tablecloth spread on the table, as if a feast had been in preparation when the house and the clocks all stopped together.

Black beetles had fascinated my attention, and I was watching them from a distance, when Miss Havisham laid a hand upon my shoulder. In her other hand she had a stick on which she leaned, and she looked like the witch.

“This,” said she, pointing to the long table with her stick, “is where I will be laid when I am dead. They shall come and look at me here.”

I shrank under her touch.

“What do you think that is?” she asked me, again pointing with her stick; “that, where those cobwebs are?”

“I can’t guess what it is, ma’am.”

“It’s a great cake. A bride-cake. Mine!”

She looked all round the room in a glaring manner, and then said, leaning on me while her hand twitched my shoulder, “Come, come, come! Walk me, walk me![58]

She was not strong, and after a little time said, “Slower!” After a while she said, “Call Estella!” so I went out on the landing and roared that name as I had done on the previous occasion. When her light appeared, I returned to Miss Havisham, and we started away again round and round the room.

Estella brought with her the three ladies and the gentleman, I didn’t know what to do.

“Dear Miss Havisham,” said a guest. “How well you look!”

“I do not,” returned Miss Havisham. “I am yellow skin and bone. And how are you, Camilla?” said Miss Havisham.

“Thank you, Miss Havisham,” she returned, “I am as well as can be expected.”

Miss Havisham and I had never stopped all this time, but kept going round and round the room.

“Matthew[59] couldnot come,” said Camilla.

“Matthew will come and see me at last,” said Miss Havisham, sternly, when I am laid on that table. That will be his place – there,” striking the table with her stick, “at my head! And yours will be there! And your husband’s there! And Sarah Pocket’s[60] there! And Georgiana’s[61] there! Now you all know where to take your stations when you come to feast upon me when you come to feast upon me.[62] And now go!”

She now said, “Walk me, walk me!” and we went on again.

“Bless you, Miss Havisham dear!” said the guests.

While Estella was away lighting them down, Miss Havisham still walked with her hand on my shoulder, but more and more slowly. At last she stopped before the fire, and said, after muttering and looking at it some seconds —

“This is my birthday, Pip.”

I was going to wish her many happy returns, when she lifted her stick.

“I don’t want it to be spoken of.[63] They come here on the day, but they dare not refer to it.”

Of course I made no further effort to refer to it.

“On this day of the year, long before you were born, this heap of decay was brought here. It and I have worn away together. The mice have gnawed at it, and sharper teeth than teeth of mice have gnawed at me.”

She held the head of her stick against her heart.

“When the ruin is complete,” said she, with a ghastly look, “and when they lay me dead, in my bride’s dress on the bride’s table – which shall be done, and which will be the finished curse upon him, – so much the better if it is done on this day![64]

She stood looking at the table as if she stood looking at her own figure lying there. I remained quiet. Estella returned, and she too remained quiet. It seemed to me that we continued thus for a long time.

At last, Miss Havisham said, “Let me see you two play cards; why have you not begun?” With that, we returned to her room, and sat down as before; I was beggared, as before; and again, as before, Miss Havisham watched us all the time, directed my attention to Estella’s beauty.

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53

You are to come this way today. – Сегодня ты пойдёшь вот сюда.

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54

you little coarse monster – ты, заморыш несчастный

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55

you little wretch – ты, маленький гадёныш

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56

You behave yourself! – Веди себя хорошо!

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57

There, there, there! – Не надо! Не надо!

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58

Walk me, walk me! – Веди меня! Веди меня!

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59

Matthew – Мэтью

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60

Sarah Pocket – Сара Покет

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61

Georgiana’s – Джорджиана

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62

when you come to feast upon me – когда вы придёте пировать надо мной

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63

I don’t want it to be spoken of. – Я не разрешаю об этом говорить.

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64

so much the better if it is done on this day! – хорошо бы и это случилось в день моего рождения!

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