Charles Dickens

I knew him before he

gave me one of those aids, though, a moment before, I had not been

conscious of remotely suspecting his identity.

He came back to where I stood, and again held out both his hands.

Not knowing what to do - for, in my astonishment I had lost my

self-possession - I reluctantly gave him my hands. He grasped them

heartily, raised them to his lips, kissed them, and still held


"You acted noble, my boy," said he. "Noble, Pip! And I have never

forgot it!"

At a change in his manner as if he were even going to embrace me, I

laid a hand upon his breast and put him away.

"Stay!" said I. "Keep off! If you are grateful to me for what I did

when I was a little child, I hope you have shown your gratitude by

mending your way of life. If you have come here to thank me, it was

not necessary. Still, however you have found me out, there must be

something good in the feeling that has brought you here, and I will

not repulse you; but surely you must understand that - I--"

My attention was so attracted by the singularity of his fixed look

at me, that the words died away on my tongue.

"You was a saying," he observed, when we had confronted one another

in silence, "that surely I must understand. What, surely must I


"That I cannot wish to renew that chance intercourse with you of

long ago, under these different circumstances. I am glad to believe

you have repented and recovered yourself. I am glad to tell you so.

I am glad that, thinking I deserve to be thanked, you have come to

thank me. But our ways are different ways, none the less. You are

wet, and you look weary. Will you drink something before you go?"

He had replaced his neckerchief loosely, and had stood, keenly

observant of me, biting a long end of it. "I think," he answered,

still with the end at his mouth and still observant of me, "that I

will drink (I thank you) afore I go."

There was a tray ready on a side-table. I brought it to the table

near the fire, and asked him what he would have? He touched one of

the bottles without looking at it or speaking, and I made him some

hot rum-and-water. I tried to keep my hand steady while I did so,

but his look at me as he leaned back in his chair with the long

draggled end of his neckerchief between his teeth - evidently

forgotten - made my hand very difficult to master. When at last I

put the glass to him, I saw with amazement that his eyes were full

of tears.

Up to this time I had remained standing, not to disguise that I

wished him gone. But I was softened by the softened aspect of the

man, and felt a touch of reproach. "I hope," said I, hurriedly

putting something into a glass for myself, and drawing a chair to

the table, "that you will not think I spoke harshly to you just

now. I had no intention of doing it, and I am sorry for it if I

did. I wish you well, and happy!"

As I put my glass to my lips, he glanced with surprise at the end

of his neckerchief, dropping from his mouth when he opened it, and

stretched out his hand. I gave him mine, and then he drank, and

drew his sleeve across his eyes and forehead.

"How are you living?" I asked him.

"I've been a sheep-farmer, stock-breeder, other trades besides,

away in the new world," said he: "many a thousand mile of stormy

water off from this."

"I hope you have done well?"

"I've done wonderfully well. There's others went out alonger me as

has done well too, but no man has done nigh as well as me. I'm

famous for it."

"I am glad to hear it."

"I hope to hear you say so, my dear boy."

Without stopping to try to understand those words or the tone in

which they were spoken, I turned off to a point that had just come

into my mind.

"Have you ever seen a messenger you once sent to me," I inquired,

"since he undertook that trust?"

"Never set eyes upon him. I warn't likely to it."

"He came faithfully, and he brought me the two one-pound notes.