Charles Dickens


some invisible agency, my guardian wound him up to a pitch little

short of ferocity about this trifle; and he fell to baring and

spanning his arm to show how muscular it was, and we all fell to

baring and spanning our arms in a ridiculous manner.

Now, the housekeeper was at that time clearing the table; my

guardian, taking no heed of her, but with the side of his face

turned from her, was leaning back in his chair biting the side of

his forefinger and showing an interest in Drummle, that, to me, was

quite inexplicable. Suddenly, he clapped his large hand on the

housekeeper's, like a trap, as she stretched it across the table.

So suddenly and smartly did he do this, that we all stopped in our

foolish contention.

"If you talk of strength," said Mr. Jaggers, "I'll show you a wrist.

Molly, let them see your wrist."

Her entrapped hand was on the table, but she had already put her

other hand behind her waist. "Master," she said, in a low voice,

with her eyes attentively and entreatingly fixed upon him. "Don't."

"I'll show you a wrist," repeated Mr. Jaggers, with an immovable

determination to show it. "Molly, let them see your wrist."

"Master," she again murmured. "Please!"

"Molly," said Mr. Jaggers, not looking at her, but obstinately

looking at the opposite side of the room, "let them see both your

wrists. Show them. Come!"

He took his hand from hers, and turned that wrist up on the table.

She brought her other hand from behind her, and held the two out

side by side. The last wrist was much disfigured - deeply scarred

and scarred across and across. When she held her hands out, she

took her eyes from Mr. Jaggers, and turned them watchfully on every

one of the rest of us in succession.

"There's power here," said Mr. Jaggers, coolly tracing out the

sinews with his forefinger. "Very few men have the power of wrist

that this woman has. It's remarkable what mere force of grip there

is in these hands. I have had occasion to notice many hands; but I

never saw stronger in that respect, man's or woman's, than these."

While he said these words in a leisurely critical style, she

continued to look at every one of us in regular succession as we

sat. The moment he ceased, she looked at him again. "That'll do,

Molly," said Mr. Jaggers, giving her a slight nod; "you have been

admired, and can go." She withdrew her hands and went out of the

room, and Mr. Jaggers, putting the decanters on from his dumbwaiter,

filled his glass and passed round the wine.

"At half-past nine, gentlemen," said he, "we must break up. Pray

make the best use of your time. I am glad to see you all. Mr.

Drummle, I drink to you."

If his object in singling out Drummle were to bring him out still

more, it perfectly succeeded. In a sulky triumph, Drummle showed

his morose depreciation of the rest of us, in a more and more

offensive degree until he became downright intolerable. Through all

his stages, Mr. Jaggers followed him with the same strange interest.

He actually seemed to serve as a zest to Mr. Jaggers's wine.

In our boyish want of discretion I dare say we took too much to

drink, and I know we talked too much. We became particularly hot

upon some boorish sneer of Drummle's, to the effect that we were

too free with our money. It led to my remarking, with more zeal

than discretion, that it came with a bad grace from him, to whom

Startop had lent money in my presence but a week or so before.

"Well," retorted Drummle; "he'll be paid."

"I don't mean to imply that he won't," said I, "but it might make

you hold your tongue about us and our money, I should think."

"You should think!" retorted Drummle. "Oh Lord!"

"I dare say," I went on, meaning to be very severe, "that you

wouldn't lend money to any of us, if we wanted it."

"You are right," said Drummle. "I wouldn't lend one of you a

sixpence. I wouldn't lend anybody a sixpence."

"Rather mean to borrow under those circumstances, I should say."

"You should say," repeated Drummle.