Orlick had been working as a journeyman for Joe Gargery, the man who raised Pip after the deaths of his parents, and he is on bad terms with Pip, seeing him as a rival. After a quarrel with Orlick, Mrs. Joe, Pip's sister and the wife of Joe Gargery, is attacked and severely injured by a blow to the back of the head. When Pip moves to London, Orlick becomes Miss Haversham's gatekeeper. Pip is stunned by the news, since Mrs. Joe (who is now mute) has indicated that Orlick was probably the person who attacked her. Pip convinces Jaggers to fire Orlick, which infuriates the man and nearly leads to Pip's death at his hands later in the novel.
In Ch.29, Pip returns to his village from London and pays a visit to Miss Havisham's house hoping to meet Estella there. Anxious and nervous,after ringing the bell at the gate he turns his back and waits expectantly for someone to open the gate and let him in. He hears the gate open but continues to remain with his back to the gate. Then, when he feels some one tapping his shoulder he turns around and to his shock and surprise he realises that the gatekeeper who has let him in is none other than Orlick himself.
Dickens describes Pip's reaction in the following words: "Being at last touched on the shoulder, I started and turned. I started much more naturally then, to find myself confronted by a man in a sober grey dress. The last man I should have expected to see in that place of porter at Miss Havisham's door. 'Orlick!' "
Pip's reaction is one of startled surprise at seeing Orlick as Miss Havisham's gatekeeper, because he assumed that Orlick must have still been working at Joe's forge.