Describe the Aged Parent and Miss Skiffins in Chapter 37 of Great Expectations by Charles Dickens.

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The Aged Parent, who is nearly deaf, admits Pip into the Castle. While they are waiting for the arrival of Wemmick, Pip tries to make conversation with the Aged, who is quite pleasant but is not able to hear most of what Pip says. When Wemmick's arrival is announced by an ingenious contraption over by the chimney, the Aged happily works the drawbridge to allow him in. Wemmick comes in a woman, Miss Skiffins, who is

"of a wooden appearance, and...(works) in the post-office branch of the service."

MissSkiffins is apparently a few years younger than Wemmick, and the cut of her dress gives her figure the appearance of a boy's. Pip thinks that her gown is "too decidedly orange, and her gloves a little too intensely green," but concludes that Miss Skiffins is "a good sort of fellow...(who) show(s) a high regard for the Aged." Miss Skiffins is apparently a frequent visitor to the Castle, as is evidenced by the fact that the contraption which announced Wemmick's arrival also is capable of announcing hers.

Miss Skiffins' familiarity with the Aged, and his with her, is demonstrated by the comfortable way in which they prepare the tea together, with Miss Skiffins brewing the beverage while the Aged makes a great "haystack of buttered toast." Miss Skiffins, in "a trifling lady-like amateur manner," washes up the tea things when the treat has been shared, and the Aged gets out his spectacles, so that, "according to custom," he can read the news aloud to the group. The Aged greatly enjoys this ritual, and the others nod appreciatively to encourage him, with Wemmick being careful to watch the old man to make sure that he does not put his head or his newspaper too close to the candle.

As the Aged reads, Wemmick tries a couple of times to put his arm around Miss Skiffins, but is efficiently rebuffed in his efforts in an almost mechanical manner by the lady. When the group has something warm to drink to conclude the evening, Pip notices that Wemmick and Miss Skiffins share a glass (Chapter 37).

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Great Expectations

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