When I had rung at the bell with an unsteady hand, I turned my back
upon the gate, while I tried to get my breath and keep the beating
of my heart moderately quiet. I heard the side door open, and steps
come across the court-yard; but I pretended not to hear, even when
the gate swung on its rusty hinges.
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.
"Ah, young master, there's more changes than yours. But come in,
come in. It's opposed to my orders to hold the gate open."
I entered and he swung it, and locked it, and took the key out.
"Yes!" said he, facing round, after doggedly preceding me a few
steps towards the house. "Here I am!"
"How did you come here?"
"I come her," he retorted, "on my legs. I had my box brought
alongside me in a barrow."
"Are you here for good?"
"I ain't her for harm, young master, I suppose?"
I was not so sure of that. I had leisure to entertain the retort in
my mind, while he slowly lifted his heavy glance from the pavement,
up my legs and arms, to my face.
"Then you have left the forge?" I said.
"Do this look like a forge?" replied Orlick, sending his glance all
round him with an air of injury. "Now, do it look like it?"
I asked him how long he had left Gargery's forge?
"One day is so like another here," he replied, "that I don't know
without casting it up. However, I come her some time since you
"I could have told you that, Orlick."
"Ah!" said he, drily. "But then you've got to be a scholar."
By this time we had come to the house, where I found his room to be
one just within the side door, with a little window in it looking
on the court-yard. In its small proportions, it was not unlike the
kind of place usually assigned to a gate-porter in Paris. Certain
keys were hanging on the wall, to which he now added the gate-key;
and his patchwork-covered bed was in a little inner division or
recess. The whole had a slovenly confined and sleepy look, like a
cage for a human dormouse: while he, looming dark and heavy in the
shadow of a corner by the window, looked like the human dormouse
for whom it was fitted up - as indeed he was.
"I never saw this room before," I remarked; "but there used to be
no Porter here."
"No," said he; "not till it got about that there was no protection
on the premises, and it come to be considered dangerous, with
convicts and Tag and Rag and Bobtail going up and down. And then I
was recommended to the place as a man who could give another man as
good as he brought, and I took it. It's easier than bellowsing and
hammering. - That's loaded, that is."
My eye had been caught by a gun with a brass bound stock over the
chimney-piece, and his eye had followed mine.
"Well," said I, not desirous of more conversation, "shall I go up
to Miss Havisham?"
"Burn me, if I know!" he retorted, first stretching himself and
then shaking himself; "my orders ends here, young master. I give
this here bell a rap with this here hammer, and you go on along the
passage till you meet somebody."
"I am expected, I believe?"
"Burn me twice over, if I can say!" said he.
Upon that, I turned down the long passage which I had first trodden
in my thick boots, and he made his bell sound. At the end of the
passage, while the bell was still reverberating, I found Sarah
Pocket: who appeared to have now become constitutionally green and
yellow by reason of me.
"Oh!" said she. "You, is it, Mr. Pip?"
"It is, Miss Pocket. I am glad to tell you that Mr. Pocket and
family are all well."
"Are they any wiser?" said Sarah, with a dismal shake of the head;
"they had better be wiser, than well.