Great Expectations Chapter XXII
by Charles Dickens

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Chapter XXII

THE PALE YOUNG gentleman and I stood contemplating one another in Barnard's Inn, until we both burst out laughing. “The idea of its being you!” said he. “The idea of its being you!” said I. And then we contemplated one another afresh, and laughed again. “Well!” said the pale young gentleman, reaching out his hand good-humouredly, “it's all over now, I hope, and it will be magnanimous in you if you'll forgive me for having knocked you about so.”

I derived from this speech that Mr. Herbert Pocket (for Herbert was the pale young gentleman's name) still rather confounded his intention with his execution. But I made a modest reply, and we shook hands warmly.

“You hadn't come into your good fortune at that time?” said Herbert Pocket.

“No,” said I.

“No,” he acquiesced: “I heard it had happened very lately. I was rather on the look-out for good fortune then.”

“Indeed?”

“Yes. Miss Havisham had sent for me, to see if she could take a fancy to me. But she couldn't—at all events, 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 what-you-may-called it to Estella.”

“What's that?” I asked, with sudden gravity.

He was arranging his fruit in plates while we talked, which divided his attention, and was the cause of his having made this lapse of a word. “Affianced,” he explained, still busy with the fruit. “Betrothed. Engaged. What's-his-named. Any word of that sort.”

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

“Pooh!” said he, “I didn't care much for it. She's a Tartar.”

“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.”

“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, and asked me if I was sore afterwards? I didn't ask him if he was, for my conviction on that point was perfectly established.

“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?”

This was bringing me (I felt) towards dangerous ground. I answered with a constraint I made no attempt to disguise, that I had seen Mr. Jaggers in Miss Havisham's house on the very day of our combat, but never at any other time, and that I believed he had no recollection of having ever seen me there.

“He was so obliging 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; not that that implies familiar intercourse between them, for he is a bad courtier and will not propitiate her.”

Herbert Pocket had a frank and easy way with him that was very taking. I had never seen any one then, and I have never seen any one since, who more strongly expressed to me, in every look and tone, a natural incapacity to do anything secret and mean. There was something wonderfully hopeful about his general air, and something that at the same time whispered to me he would never be very successful or rich. I don't know how this was. I became imbued with the notion on that first occasion before we sat down to dinner, but I cannot define by what means.

He was still a pale young gentleman, and had a...

(The entire section is 4,924 words.)