Charles Dickens

"Nothing was ever discovered, Biddy?"


"Do you know what is become of Orlick?"

"I should think from the colour of his clothes that he is working

in the quarries."

"Of course you have seen him then? - Why are you looking at that

dark tree in the lane?"

"I saw him there, on the night she died."

"That was not the last time either, Biddy?"

"No; I have seen him there, since we have been walking here. - It

is of no use," said Biddy, laying her hand upon my arm, as I was

for running out, "you know I would not deceive you; he was not

there a minute, and he is gone."

It revived my utmost indignation to find that she was still pursued

by this fellow, and I felt inveterate against him. I told her so,

and told her that I would spend any money or take any pains to

drive him out of that country. By degrees she led me into more

temperate talk, and she told me how Joe loved me, and how Joe never

complained of anything - she didn't say, of me; she had no need; I

knew what she meant - but ever did his duty in his way of life,

with a strong hand, a quiet tongue, and a gentle heart.

"Indeed, it would be hard to say too much for him," said I; "and

Biddy, we must often speak of these things, for of course I shall

be often down here now. I am not going to leave poor Joe alone."

Biddy said never a single word.

"Biddy, don't you hear me?"

"Yes, Mr. Pip."

"Not to mention your calling me Mr. Pip - which appears to me to be

in bad taste, Biddy - what do you mean?"

"What do I mean?" asked Biddy, timidly.

"Biddy," said I, in a virtuously self-asserting manner, "I must

request to know what you mean by this?"

"By this?" said Biddy.

"Now, don't echo," I retorted. "You used not to echo, Biddy."

"Used not!" said Biddy. "O Mr. Pip! Used!"

Well! I rather thought I would give up that point too. After

another silent turn in the garden, I fell back on the main


"Biddy," said I, "I made a remark respecting my coming down here

often, to see Joe, which you received with a marked silence. Have

the goodness, Biddy, to tell me why."

"Are you quite sure, then, that you WILL come to see him often?"

asked Biddy, stopping in the narrow garden walk, and looking at me

under the stars with a clear and honest eye.

"Oh dear me!" said I, as if I found myself compelled to give up

Biddy in despair. "This really is a very bad side of human

nature! Don't say any more, if you please, Biddy. This shocks me

very much."

For which cogent reason I kept Biddy at a distance during supper,

and, when I went up to my own old little room, took as stately a

leave of her as I could, in my murmuring soul, deem reconcilable

with the churchyard and the event of the day. As often as I was

restless in the night, and that was every quarter of an hour, I

reflected what an unkindness, what an injury, what an injustice,

Biddy had done me.

Early in the morning, I was to go. Early in the morning, I was out,

and looking in, unseen, at one of the wooden windows of the forge.

There I stood, for minutes, looking at Joe, already at work with a

glow of health and strength upon his face that made it show as if

the bright sun of the life in store for him were shining on it.

"Good-bye, dear Joe! - No, don't wipe it off - for God's sake, give

me your blackened hand! - I shall be down soon, and often."

"Never too soon, sir," said Joe, "and never too often, Pip!"

Biddy was waiting for me at the kitchen door, with a mug of new

milk and a crust of bread. "Biddy," said I, when I gave her my hand

at parting, "I am not angry, but I am hurt."

"No, don't be hurt," she pleaded quite pathetically; "let only me

be hurt, if I have been ungenerous."

Once more, the mists were rising as I walked away. If they

disclosed to me, as I suspect they did, that I should not come

back, and that Biddy was quite right, all I can say is - they were

quite right too.