she's out now, making it a baker's dozen."
"Yes, Pip," said Joe; "and what's worse, she's got Tickler with
At this dismal intelligence, I twisted the only button on my
waistcoat round and round, and looked in great depression at the
fire. Tickler was a wax-ended piece of cane, worn smooth by
collision with my tickled frame.
"She sot down," said Joe, "and she got up, and she made a grab at
Tickler, and she Ram-paged out. That's what she did," said Joe,
slowly clearing the fire between the lower bars with the poker, and
looking at it: "she Ram-paged out, Pip."
"Has she been gone long, Joe?" I always treated him as a larger
species of child, and as no more than my equal.
"Well," said Joe, glancing up at the Dutch clock, "she's been on
the Ram-page, this last spell, about five minutes, Pip. She's a-
coming! Get behind the door, old chap, and have the jack-towel
I took the advice. My sister, Mrs. Joe, throwing the door wide open,
and finding an obstruction behind it, immediately divined the
cause, and applied Tickler to its further investigation. She
concluded by throwing me - I often served as a connubial missile -
at Joe, who, glad to get hold of me on any terms, passed me on into
the chimney and quietly fenced me up there with his great leg.
"Where have you been, you young monkey?" said Mrs. Joe, stamping her
foot. "Tell me directly what you've been doing to wear me away with
fret and fright and worrit, or I'd have you out of that corner if
you was fifty Pips, and he was five hundred Gargerys."
"I have only been to the churchyard," said I, from my stool, crying
and rubbing myself.
"Churchyard!" repeated my sister. "If it warn't for me you'd have
been to the churchyard long ago, and stayed there. Who brought you
up by hand?"
"You did," said I.
"And why did I do it, I should like to know?" exclaimed my sister.
I whimpered, "I don't know."
"I don't!" said my sister. "I'd never do it again! I know that. I
may truly say I've never had this apron of mine off, since born you
were. It's bad enough to be a blacksmith's wife (and him a Gargery)
without being your mother."
My thoughts strayed from that question as I looked disconsolately
at the fire. For, the fugitive out on the marshes with the ironed
leg, the mysterious young man, the file, the food, and the dreadful
pledge I was under to commit a larceny on those sheltering
premises, rose before me in the avenging coals.
"Hah!" said Mrs. Joe, restoring Tickler to his station. "Churchyard,
indeed! You may well say churchyard, you two." One of us,
by-the-bye, had not said it at all. "You'll drive me to the
churchyard betwixt you, one of these days, and oh, a pr-r-recious
pair you'd be without me!"
As she applied herself to set the tea-things, Joe peeped down at me
over his leg, as if he were mentally casting me and himself up, and
calculating what kind of pair we practically should make, under the
grievous circumstances foreshadowed. After that, he sat feeling his
right-side flaxen curls and whisker, and following Mrs. Joe about
with his blue eyes, as his manner always was at squally times.
My sister had a trenchant way of cutting our bread-and-butter for
us, that never varied. First, with her left hand she jammed the
loaf hard and fast against her bib - where it sometimes got a pin
into it, and sometimes a needle, which we afterwards got into our
mouths. Then she took some butter (not too much) on a knife and
spread it on the loaf, in an apothecary kind of way, as if she were
making a plaister - using both sides of the knife with a slapping
dexterity, and trimming and moulding the butter off round the
crust. Then, she gave the knife a final smart wipe on the edge of
the plaister, and then sawed a very thick round off the loaf: which
she finally, before separating from the loaf, hewed into two
halves, of which Joe got one, and I the other.