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