Charles Dickens


"Yes, sir."

"I don't ask you what you owe, because you don't know; and if you

did know, you wouldn't tell me; you would say less. Yes, yes, my

friend," cried Mr. Jaggers, waving his forefinger to stop me, as I

made a show of protesting: "it's likely enough that you think you

wouldn't, but you would. You'll excuse me, but I know better than

you. Now, take this piece of paper in your hand. You have got it?

Very good. Now, unfold it and tell me what it is."

"This is a bank-note," said I, "for five hundred pounds."

"That is a bank-note," repeated Mr. Jaggers, "for five hundred

pounds. And a very handsome sum of money too, I think. You consider

it so?"

"How could I do otherwise!"

"Ah! But answer the question," said Mr. Jaggers.


"You consider it, undoubtedly, a handsome sum of money. Now, that

handsome sum of money, Pip, is your own. It is a present to you on

this day, in earnest of your expectations. And at the rate of that

handsome sum of money per annum, and at no higher rate, you are to

live until the donor of the whole appears. That is to say, you will

now take your money affairs entirely into your own hands, and you

will draw from Wemmick one hundred and twenty-five pounds per

quarter, until you are in communication with the fountain-head, and

no longer with the mere agent. As I have told you before, I am the

mere agent. I execute my instructions, and I am paid for doing so.

I think them injudicious, but I am not paid for giving any opinion

on their merits."

I was beginning to express my gratitude to my benefactor for the

great liberality with which I was treated, when Mr. Jaggers stopped

me. "I am not paid, Pip," said he, coolly, "to carry your words to

any one;" and then gathered up his coat-tails, as he had gathered

up the subject, and stood frowning at his boots as if he suspected

them of designs against him.

After a pause, I hinted:

"There was a question just now, Mr. Jaggers, which you desired me to

waive for a moment. I hope I am doing nothing wrong in asking it


"What is it?" said he.

I might have known that he would never help me out; but it took me

aback to have to shape the question afresh, as if it were quite

new. "Is it likely," I said, after hesitating, "that my patron, the

fountain-head you have spoken of, Mr. Jaggers, will soon--" there I

delicately stopped.

"Will soon what?" asked Mr. Jaggers. "That's no question as it

stands, you know."

"Will soon come to London," said I, after casting about for a

precise form of words, "or summon me anywhere else?"

"Now here," replied Mr. Jaggers, fixing me for the first time with

his dark deep-set eyes, "we must revert to the evening when we

first encountered one another in your village. What did I tell you

then, Pip?"

"You told me, Mr. Jaggers, that it might be years hence when that

person appeared."

"Just so," said Mr. Jaggers; "that's my answer."

As we looked full at one another, I felt my breath come quicker in

my strong desire to get something out of him. And as I felt that it

came quicker, and as I felt that he saw that it came quicker, I

felt that I had less chance than ever of getting anything out of


"Do you suppose it will still be years hence, Mr. Jaggers?"

Mr. Jaggers shook his head - not in negativing the question, but in

altogether negativing the notion that he could anyhow be got to

answer it - and the two horrible casts of the twitched faces

looked, when my eyes strayed up to them, as if they had come to a

crisis in their suspended attention, and were going to sneeze.

"Come!" said Mr. Jaggers, warming the backs of his legs with the

backs of his warmed hands, "I'll be plain with you, my friend Pip.

That's a question I must not be asked. You'll understand that,

better, when I tell you it's a question that might compromise me.