Charles Dickens

Chapter 36

Herbert and I went on from bad to worse, in the way of increasing

our debts, looking into our affairs, leaving Margins, and the like

exemplary transactions; and Time went on, whether or no, as he has

a way of doing; and I came of age - in fulfilment of Herbert's

prediction, that I should do so before I knew where I was.

Herbert himself had come of age, eight months before me. As he had

nothing else than his majority to come into, the event did not make

a profound sensation in Barnard's Inn. But we had looked forward to

my one-and-twentieth birthday, with a crowd of speculations and

anticipations, for we had both considered that my guardian could

hardly help saying something definite on that occasion.

I had taken care to have it well understood in Little Britain, when

my birthday was. On the day before it, I received an official note

from Wemmick, informing me that Mr. Jaggers would be glad if I would

call upon him at five in the afternoon of the auspicious day. This

convinced us that something great was to happen, and threw me into

an unusual flutter when I repaired to my guardian's office, a model

of punctuality.

In the outer office Wemmick offered me his congratulations, and

incidentally rubbed the side of his nose with a folded piece of

tissuepaper that I liked the look of. But he said nothing

respecting it, and motioned me with a nod into my guardian's room.

It was November, and my guardian was standing before his fire

leaning his back against the chimney-piece, with his hands under

his coattails.

"Well, Pip," said he, "I must call you Mr. Pip to-day.

Congratulations, Mr. Pip."

We shook hands - he was always a remarkably short shaker - and I

thanked him.

"Take a chair, Mr. Pip," said my guardian.

As I sat down, and he preserved his attitude and bent his brows at

his boots, I felt at a disadvantage, which reminded me of that old

time when I had been put upon a tombstone. The two ghastly casts on

the shelf were not far from him, and their expression was as if

they were making a stupid apoplectic attempt to attend to the


"Now my young friend," my guardian began, as if I were a witness in

the box, "I am going to have a word or two with you."

"If you please, sir."

"What do you suppose," said Mr. Jaggers, bending forward to look at

the ground, and then throwing his head back to look at the ceiling,

"what do you suppose you are living at the rate of?"

"At the rate of, sir?"

"At," repeated Mr. Jaggers, still looking at the ceiling, "the -

rate - of?" And then looked all round the room, and paused with his

pocket-handkerchief in his hand, half way to his nose.

I had looked into my affairs so often, that I had thoroughly

destroyed any slight notion I might ever have had of their

bearings. Reluctantly, I confessed myself quite unable to answer

the question. This reply seemed agreeable to Mr. Jaggers, who said,

"I thought so!" and blew his nose with an air of satisfaction.

"Now, I have asked you a question, my friend," said Mr. Jaggers.

"Have you anything to ask me?"

"Of course it would be a great relief to me to ask you several

questions, sir; but I remember your prohibition."

"Ask one," said Mr. Jaggers.

"Is my benefactor to be made known to me to-day?"

"No. Ask another."

"Is that confidence to be imparted to me soon?"

"Waive that, a moment," said Mr. Jaggers, "and ask another."

I looked about me, but there appeared to be now no possible escape

from the inquiry, "Have - I - anything to receive, sir?" On that,

Mr. Jaggers said, triumphantly, "I thought we should come to it!"

and called to Wemmick to give him that piece of paper. Wemmick

appeared, handed it in, and disappeared.

"Now, Mr. Pip," said Mr. Jaggers, "attend, if you please. You have

been drawing pretty freely here; your name occurs pretty often in

Wemmick's cash-book; but you are in debt, of course?"

"I am afraid I must say yes, sir."

"You know you must say yes; don't you?" said Mr.